“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. There are only two genders, after all.
The greatest challenge facing the UK today is Brexit. Get it right, and we can unleash the wellsprings of national genius, and thrive economically outside the EU for generations to come. Get it wrong, and we will remain shackled to the EU, its regulation, its stagnant growth, its unemployment, its leviathan bureaucracy. We would face the very real loss of control of our armed forces, our foreign policy, and our economic policy.
The EU believes that we are weak and divided. I say this to them, that it is you who are weak and divided. The EU is in dispute with Hungary and Poland over migrants quotas. This shows no sign of abating, and is heading to a court room confrontation in the ECJ. Macron is in trouble in France. The new “Sun king” has failed to shine, and is struggling with labour reforms and high unemployment. Mrs. Merkel is mired in Germany. Her vote reduced, and the Nationalist and anti-EU AfD rising in the Bundestag. She is struggling to form a coalition that will last. In Italy the anti-EU Five Star movement is on the rise. Greece continues to be a huge problem. Debt is continuing to mount, and the problems will not go away anytime soon.
Add to this the recent worrying developments in Catalonia. The violence there is completely unacceptable. No state should violently repress citizens with the excessive force we have witnessed. Needless to say, Gibraltar will not be handed over to Spain anytime soon, and we are justified in our previous decision not to negotiate sovereignty with Spain. Such scenes have not been witnessed since the 1930s and 1940s. Mr. verhofstadt and others have repeatedly made demands over EU citizen rights in the UK after Brexit. However, he and his colleagues at the EU stood idly by when citizen rights were being abused in Catalonia. This is rank hypocrisy in the opinion of the UK government. If you care about EU citizen rights, you should care about them at all times, not just when you can use them as a negotiating tool.
You claim not to interfere in the internal politics of member states. Yet Mr. Verhofstadt himself was in London, giving a speech at the LSE and meeting Mayor Khan.
If this is not interference, I wouldn’t like to see what is.
The EU has been playing games, deliberately delaying Brexit negotiations. This serve two purposes. First, the longer we remain in the EU, the more money they receive from us in contributions. Secondly, they hope that somehow we will change our minds. I tell you this, we have not changed our mind, and after recent developments in the EU and their negotiating tactics, we are more determined than ever to leave. The EU Parliament, which has very little real power compared to our own sovereign Parliament, has recently voted not to move to the next stage of negotiations. This shows a continuation of the childish attitude of the EU. If real grown-ups were in charge, then they would seriously come to the table willing to hammer out a deal which favoured both the EU and the UK. Instead we have an attitude to “punish” the UK for the imagined “crime” of wanting to leave the EU. Tell us, what crime have we committed? Why should we be punished?
We have paid in to the EU budget since joining, always being a net contributor. Yet there is no word on what assets we may be entitled to, or what money may be owed to us. We have co-operated on security in an age of crisis. The very real threat of terrorism looms upon the whole of Europe, both indies and outside the EU. We need to work together to defeat this threat. Mr. Juncker himself issued an extraordinary statement where he told us the UK would “soon regret Brexit.” This despite it being a fully democratic decision, backed by a referendum with the highest vote turnout for six UK elections. This is extremely unhelpful language from a senior EU statesman, and indeed the President of the EU. With the continued behaviour of the EU, you risk alienating the UK who is willing to be your partner, in security and in trade.
Given these issues, there is now a very real possibility of a no deal. While we would prefer a mutually beneficial agreement, Britain is not afraid to walk away and begin trading on WTO terms. These are very clearly, and our businesses should begin preparing themselves for this eventuality. They should be ready to meet the requirements of the WTO. In light of this, government funds will be made available for small and medium sized businesses to be able to adapt to WTO terms. This will be overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy. We will immediately stop all EU contributions until such time as the EU begins to negotiate properly in good faith.
There is no doubt Britain can survive and thrive outside of the EU. The country has shown itself capable of adaptation, creativity, and determination throughout our proud history. Once again we look forward to trading with the world. We hope that the EU can be part of this. More and more GDP is being generated outside the EU. The EU risks building an economic wall between itself and the rest of the world. they might find that instead of everyone trying to look in, they are the ones looking out with envy. There is still time to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. It is time to step up to the world stage. The best years of the UK lie ahead, not behind. We urge the EU to join us.”