Brexit Day: Portsmouth's Tory leader Donna Jones explains why she is optimistic about a future outside the EU

Three and a half years ago Donna Jones, then leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the city had ‘roared like a lion’ when it delivered a 58.1 per cent vote in favour of leaving the EU in the referendum. Today she explains what she

Friday, 31st January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 8:38 am

As we embark on Britain’s future outside of the European Union its worth dwelling for a moment on the history of the country and the underlying principles that led Britain to vote to Leave the European Union in 2016, some 42 months ago.

In the United Kingdom we are lucky enough to have inherited a system of governance based on constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary sovereignty, and Common Law. These are tried and tested.

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UPDATE 7.10am: '˜Portsmouth has roared like a lion' as Britain votes to leave th...

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Leavers, with Donna Jones, centre, celebrate after the referendum result in 2016 Picture: Donna Jones

On the whole they have percolated from the bottom up, brewed through time and experience as opposed to being intellectual ideas imposed from above as Roman law and Napoleonic codes are in Europe. These attributes are the envy of the world as is testified by the fact that they have been so widely exported to other countries and other regimes. Added to these carefully evolved successes has been our ability to conduct an astute and independent foreign policy, to make fruitful alliances and to maintain world-class military forces famous for their resilience, their traditions and the fact that they draw on men and women from all corners of the kingdom. These resounding successes derived largely from our being an island nation.

This has allowed us to experiment with and develop our own institutions with a large degree of independence. At many points we capitalised on and made a virtue of that independence and the flexibility it gave us. Over the last 20 years this independence has been eroded which ultimately led to the historic referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU and the subsequent vote to leave on the June 23, 2016.

The essence of a successful democracy is the ability to recognise and conserve the things that work well. Unfortunately the original trading union, the successful idea of the Common Market which we joined in the 1970s, has stealthily evolved into a grand Federalist project - a United States of Europe with ever greater union proposed - that threatened our distinctive identity and achievements in a kind of homogenised continent.

It is a semi-utopian project backed up by a technocratic globalist vision which expects to end war for ever and to dissolve borders in a dream that John Lennon might have penned! It might speak of respect for national characteristics but, de facto, routinely supersedes them.

For example it emerged that membership of the European Union would have significantly removed our ability to fashion our own foreign policy and military independence, as free members of Nato would be abandoned as we became part of an incipient European army.

So what’s to come? Well for a start we will allow our excellent institutions such as our legislature and our judiciary to function independently again. This for me is key. We will continue to determine our destiny in foreign policy and use our military as we see fit, uninhibited by European friends.

Another long-developed and carefully nurtured tradition has been our ability to make the most of free trade. Outside of the constraints of the European customs union we will make the most of the network the Commonwealth represents, of our special relationship with the US and of the high reputation in which we stand worldwide. With our technology industries, our world-renowned financial services and the trust-based environment which our legal regimes provide to inward investors, I am hopeful and as confident as I ever was, that Britain’s best interests long term, are best placed outside of the European Union but by continuing to work closely with them with mutual

respect and support.

From me it’s a new decade and a new hope!