Leaving the EU is still a ‘mistake’ but the ‘decision has been taken’, according to Chichester’s MP.
Andrew Tyrie, who backed the unsuccessful Remain campaign in the lead up to last June’s referendum, told colleagues during a debate on Brexit felt there was ‘merit in leaving’ but there was a need to heal the Brexit ‘wounds’, especially with young voters.
During the first night discussing the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Commons, the Tory MP said the question was now ‘not whether we are leaving but where we shall arrive’.
He added: “We must focus on the best way of securing that, not only in our interest but in the interests of the whole continent. We need to grasp the opportunities of Brexit, which do exist, and their significance.”
He argued a transitional arrangement by way of a formal agreement was ‘absolutely essential’ as without it firms in the financial sector and others would ‘act pre-emptively’
Mr Tyrie explained: “We need to be clear that the absence of a transitional agreement will cost jobs and economic activity, at least in the short to medium term, and we should not just let that business slip away.
“A clear and early commitment from the Government to a transitional period—what I and a number of others have been calling a standstill—at the end of the article 50 process should be priority number one for agreement at the start of the negotiations.”
He went on to argue there was ‘merit in leaving’ especially in relation to trade opportunities with Asia.
The Treasury Committee, which Mr Tyrie chairs, had heard ‘convincing evidence’ that both the EU and the UK have a ‘lot to gain’ from maintaining a high degree of access to the single market.
As the majority of voters had backed leaving the EU, he said if this meant anything it ‘must mean’ an end to EU law and the restoration of control over EU migration.
However many also wanted continued close links with the country’s closest neighbours.
Mr Tyrie concluded: “It can help heal the Brexit wounds to which the Prime Minister referred in her outstanding speech, and it can address the deep unease that seems to be developing about Brexit among the young.
“Many of them are rejecting much of the irrationality of current political discourse coming out of Washington, and many are certainly rejecting the populist economic nationalism that President Trump represents, which some also attribute to Brexit.
“In demonstrating that we understand and are responding to those voices of concern, we can win support at home, and we can construct alliances among our counterparts abroad by making it clear that we want to engage deeply with the EU from outside.
“That is why, if we can avoid the politics of unreason and avoid, too, the divisions at home and abroad that a disorderly and confrontational Brexit could bring, we can still reap considerable opportunities from the Brexit decision.”
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