"It is a shame that we are doing this in the middle of a lockdown, but for the sake of the debate let us not dwell on that; let us look forward to the bright future that will soon be upon us. We are on a new path, having delivered the Brexit that people voted for in 2016 and reaffirmed in 2017 and again in 2019, now with a fabulous trade deal with our continental partners delivered in 2021—an achievement that many thought was not possible. As the Secretary of State said: zero tariffs, zero quotas. I am comfortable with that change of direction, having voted at every opportunity to ensure that the demands of my constituents —a significant majority of whom voted for Brexit—were finally listened to and acted on.
"Now it is time to put all the division aside and to come together behind a common vision for our future. I would argue that the concept of global Britain should form the foundation of that vision, but what does it mean in practice? I offer some thoughts based on my discussions with my constituents in recent years. To my mind, it means that we return to a leading role in responding to global challenges and in making the most of opportunities for our country. We are indeed standing on our own two feet, but we do so surrounded by friends and allies both in Europe and across the world. That means reinvesting in those relationships, championing the rules-based international order and demonstrating that the UK is open, outward looking and confident on the world stage. It is about rediscovering the powers that we pooled through our membership of the EU and using them in a way that most benefits this country, as we have for many years with the powers that we reserved.
"Global Britain must not seek to undermine EU standards, nor accept any diminution in food hygiene, environmental or animal welfare standards. We are better than the EU in this. We can step back to where we were before we joined the common market and reach out to those countries. There is no positive outcome from a race to the bottom in any standards. We can reach out to those countries and seek to lift our standards.
"Our NHS must never be on the table in any future trade negotiations. I would not support any trade deal that threatens our institutions and rights. I know that that is what my constituents expect. They also expect that global Britain will continue to lead the way outside the EU. They anticipate, as I do, that we will take this opportunity to re-emerge and become a pre-eminent campaigner for global free trade. I want to go further domestically and truly level up this country. Global Britain cannot begin to speak of successful standards, rights and institutions to others if we have not yet got our own house in order. That means dealing with the deprivation we see in isolated pockets, including in my own constituency of Clacton.
"When we speak of levelling up, of course we must deal with the north-south divide, but we must not forget coastal areas, many of which are located in the so-called prosperous south-east, which, ironically, contains the most deprived ward in the UK. Where is it? It is in my constituency, in Clacton. The local council is doing sterling work there, but Essex Country Council and Tendring District Council need help to finally lift the area out of deprivation.
"I was so proud when, at a moment of crisis and maximum danger in this country, an army of volunteers stepped forward in Clacton and across the country. In fact, we had too many volunteers. When this is all over, we must bottle that community spirit for the future and continue to work together across political lines for a relentless improvement to our way of life: global Britain."