The future is Brexit and the future is bright at last for Britain – John Longworth
We now have absolute certainty that we are out.
By the end of the year we are promised a free trade arrangement with the EU – or that we will simply not have an arrangement at all.
Either way, this will mean an entirely new relationship with our EU neighbours and with the world at large.
The latest CBI manufacturing survey has shown the greatest swing in confidence in recent times toward a positive view of the future.
This must partially stem from a higher degree of certainty from which will flow investment decisions.
This is in complete contrast to what the CBI were saying even before Christmas.
Meanwhile the IMF is predicting that the UK will grow faster than any other European economy during the next two years.
There is justification for this new certainty.
We know that we will not be in the Customs Union and the Chancellor (Sajid Javid) has declared against automatic regulatory alignment.
We know that EU citizens will have residency status if they wish to – some 2.5 million have already been granted this.
We also know that the flow of cheap labour from the EU into low skill jobs will reduce while the flow of talent from around the world will be encouraged.
The Government has declared that the Brexit bonus will be deployed to improve law and order, and the health service, and that there will be a focus on infrastructure in the North and the regions.
It remains to be seen whether the enormous bill for HS2 is redeployed to this end.
While there will be a desire to not have tariffs between the UK and the EU from the beginning of 2021, there will almost certainly be administrative requirements, largely on line and prior to despatch of goods. Individuals may have to apply for electronic tourist visas but this is not yet clear.
Although much is now certain and businesses can again begin to invest, there will be a period this year in which we must be tough in negotiations about our future relationship with the EU.
They have much to lose by being belligerent, not least a £90bn trade surplus and access to our fishing grounds.
Only by taking a tough line and being prepared to walk away will we obtain a good deal.
It should always be borne in mind that trade deals are the cherry on the icing on the Brexit cake.
Much of the economic benefits of Brexit, and all of the political and sovereignty benefits, can be secured unilaterally without any trade deals.
For Yorkshire, all this points to opportunity.
There will be a battle to secure our fishing grounds and expand fishing as an industry.
Agriculture will continue to be subsidised to the same extent as was the case under the CAP.
There may, however, be more competition from high quality but cheaper products from overseas as trade deals are struck and as tariffs are removed.
This is good news for Yorkshire consumers as it points to a lower cost for food, consumer goods and everyday items, including, quite possibly, cars.
Growing global opportunities in services, including financial and legal services, provide an opportunity for our strong regional services sector.
By the same token, a continued competitive currency will, for a while, give a boost to manufacturing, allowing our manufacturing base to strengthen and grow and be world fit for competition.
The most important thing for Yorkshire is that our business people and our public authorities are alive to, and prepared to grasp, the multitude of opportunities which present themselves in order to seize our slice of the Brexit benefits cake.
This should include tax cuts, such as business rates, and also investment in infrastructure and in business finance, part of the Brexit dividend arising from the repatriation of the billions which would otherwise go to the EU budget every year and the boost to the economy which will follow in the coming years.
This is an historic moment. This week I voted in the EU Parliament for Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and we will leave the European Union tonight to become once again an independent, sovereign nation with a global outlook.
Yorkshire is well placed to take advantage of the this new future.
The future is bright, the future is Brexit.
John Longworth is a Conservative MEP for Yorkshire. He previously represented the Brexit Party and is a former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.