Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay answers questions from readers of The News.
1. From Dale Fletcher:
I use Portsmouth port to go on holiday, am I going to get stuck at the border because of Brexit?
'Thanks for your question, Dale. Quite simply, if you are planning on going on holiday in Europe this summer, this deal means you can do so with confidence. You won't notice a difference at the EU border, your UK driver's licence will be recognised, planes will continue to fly as they do now, your mobile charges will be the same in the EU and you can even take your pet dog - if you have one! In essence, nothing will change for you during the implementation period. And beyond that - the political declaration on our future sets out how we will ensure you can continue to make those well-earned breaks, and, as a tourist, you can travel around Europe.'
2. From James Firman:
Why is Brexit still happening? People voted on Brexit based on information that at the time was misleading and far from what we now have. Now we have the divorce papers why can't we have a vote based on the real information and not lies like before. If it's still leave, based on the agreement then fine, the nation moves forward, but if it's no then we put it down to an exercise, make some tea and all get on with our lives!
'Brexit is happening because it’s what people voted for in the 2016 referendum, which was the biggest democratic exercise this country has ever known. We are now doing as the people instructed and delivering on the result of the referendum. Any second referendum would be a betrayal of democracy - we cannot, and should not, ignore what people voted for in the referendum.'
3. From John Newbery:
Why are you pursuing a policy that will make the country poorer?
'John, the country voted to leave, so we will deliver on that. And this deal is the best deal for this country, when it comes to protecting jobs and our economy, as well as allowing us to honour the referendum and realise the opportunities of Brexit. Among many other benefits - many of which are outlined in our 40-point list - this deal delivers for the economy by ensuring we can continue to access EU markets as well as making trade deals that work for the UK and our partners overseas. Finally, I’d like to stress that this deal delivers an economic partnership with the EU closer than any other country enjoys, recognising the UK’s status as a key player on the global stage. You may have seen the analysis we published last week - that is clear that no deal is certainly not the best bet for for our economy, and it would come with disruption and uncertainty.'
4. From Stu Ford: What is the Government's plan when it loses the vote on May's negotiated Brexit on Tuesday week? Has the referendum chaos been good for the unity of the nation?
'Someone asked me a very similar question to this in Parliament recently, Stu, and I will give you a similar answer - and that is that we are confident we will win this vote. We have a deal on the table that the people of this country can get behind, and we hope and expect parliament to vote in the interests of their constituents and support the deal. And nobody should be under any illusions that the EU will be prepared to start all over again and negotiate a different deal. Anything other than straightforward approval of the deal will bring with it huge uncertainty for business, consumers and citizens. And as a committed Brexiteer, I wouldn’t have backed the deal on the table if I didn’t believe it delivered on the result of the referendum. We listened to what people across the country voted for: they wanted free movement to end, annual payments to the EU to end, and for us to make our own laws. In each of these crucial areas, the deal delivers.'
5. From Drew Simmons: Given the number of people calling for a People's Vote - and the chance to settle it once and for all - why not have a second referendum as the country is so divided?
'Drew, as I said to Dale, the referendum was the largest ever democratic exercise in the UK’s history and as an MP I cannot stress how important I think it is to respect the will of the people. At the heart of this is the unwritten contract between Members of Parliament and the public who elected them. It would be a betrayal of democracy to ask the public a question in this way and then ignore them and tell them they are wrong. As a Brexiteer, my position on the referendum is pretty obvious, but, however people voted, now is the time to unite behind the deal which is going to provide the best future for our country.'
6. From Peter Helsby:
Why are we going to become a vassal state and be absolutely ruled by Brussels? Why are we being told that there will be negotiations on fishing rights? I voted to get out so that our waters are ours, not Spain's or France's.
'Peter, that is exactly what we’re not going to become. I know that one of the main things that motivated people to vote leave in 2016 was the wish to take back control of our decision-making, and to see the laws that affect our lives made in the UK rather than in Brussels. And that is what we have done. After the implementation period, all laws in the UK will be passed by our elected representatives in our country and enforced by UK courts. Of course that goes for fishing too - we are leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and what that means is we, and nobody else, will decide who has access to our waters. We have set out our clear desire to have control over our waters, and this is something we want to secure by 2020.'
7. From John Smith:
When we leave the EU, will we have full sovereignty, no interference from the EU courts and no regulations set by the EU impeding our ability to make new deals elsewhere?
'That’s right John. This is exactly why I’m backing this deal and why I accepted the role as Brexit Secretary as it delivers on all those important issues you mentioned. This deal means we will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the EU courts in the UK. After the implementation period, all laws in the UK will be passed by our elected representatives in our country and enforced by UK courts. And beyond the implementation period, the Court of Justice of the European Union will have only a limited role in some specific contexts to ensure the orderly winding down of EU law in the UK. And we will be able to strike our trade deals with countries around the world. We are obviously looking to have a close trading relationship with the EU, but we can also look for new deals with the likes of the US and Australia.'
7. From Su Mawby:
My question is why would we pay to leave? Why not just leave?
'Hi Su, we’ve agreed to settle our obligations as departing members of the EU - we are a country that plays by the rules and honours its obligations: to do anything else would be wrong. The financial settlement means that EU projects which the UK, and British individuals and businesses, started while we were an EU member can be completed as planned, and won’t need to fall back on the government’s funding guarantee. It is also much lower than some of the estimates some suggested earlier in this process, which put the up front cost as high as £100 billion! It’s also important to note that this has been agreed in the spirit of our future relationship - it’s worth remembering that this is something that comes as part of the rest of the package.'
8. From Gerald Birkwood:
Sir, as the financial wizards in the city of London are responsible by a country mile for the financial profits this country makes are you content that this status will remain?
'Thanks Gerald. The UK is one of the biggest economies in the world and this deal will ensure it can continue to grow after we leave the EU. The head of the Bank of England has been very clear that the deal on the table is the best option, it provides UK businesses the certainty they need to plan for a brighter future. London is a global centre of excellence for financial services. This benefits businesses and customers across Europe, and it’s important that this deeply-intertwined sector continues to thrive after we leave. That’s why we need to back the deal on the table that allows this to happen. And while the capital is undoubtedly important for our economy, it is absolutely not the whole story - that is why we’ve negotiated a deal that works for the whole of the country, including cities and towns like Portsmouth, by protecting jobs and growth. '
9. From Stuart Parkes:
So what is going to happen with fishing regulations set by the EU that has killed our local fishing industry? Among many factors are minimum landing sizes such as for clams that the EU set at 35mm. Portuguese catch under that. Spanish catch under that. We can buy them no problem, no one bats an eyelid. If our local fisherman catch under that the useless government IFCA's or Southern IFCA in our case enforce the size, confiscate and fine us. Why are we the only country following the rules so closely? Can we set our own and save fishing in Portsmouth? Or are your plans to keep them the same? Keep enforcing what others don't and destroy UK fishing; whilst letting the Dutch, Spanish and the rest take all our stock as they are not policed by their own governments they are supported by them. Something no one in this country will say about our government in regards to fisherman.
'When we leave the EU, the UK will be able to decide who can fish in our waters and on what terms. We will have the ability to build a sustainable and profitable fishing industry, which is in the best interests of the whole UK now and for future generations. And we will also be able to extend powers to protect and enhance our precious marine life. As part of our new partnership we will want to continue to work together with the EU to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way and give a fairer allocation for the UK fishing industry. This means new arrangements for annual negotiations on access to waters, and more scientific methods being used to determine how fishing opportunities are shared out.'