Last year 52% of the British people, including myself, voted to leave the European Union and leave it we shall. I personally found the whole campaign deeply dividing and unpleasant and the language by both sides was appalling. On the remain side we had 'project fear' telling us how the sky would fall in and how those that voted leave were stupid bigots, whilst on the leave side we had the infamous NHS spending commitments and the branding of those voting remain as traitors.
This rhetoric is still divisive today. Both campaigns made promises that they couldn't keep or threats that didn't happen. Those of us that voted leave are not bigots nor stupid, nor are those that voted remain traitors. We all made our decision with the information we had and in the best interests of our friends, family and country. There were merits and risks on both sides but a decision has been made by the public and now that decision needs to be implemented.
The triggering of Article 50 by Theresa May in March started the two year process by which we will negotiate our departure and put in place the foundations of our future relationship. I am wholeheartedly supportive of the Prime Minister's goals and approach in these discussions. We want the best possible trading relationship possible with the EU whilst regaining control of our borders and removing ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
To my mind we want the very best possible relationship with our friends and allies, but we no longer want to be involved in the project of political integration in which our sovereignty is gradually eroded and moved to the continent. That doesn't mean that we should walk away from everything. There are actually several programmes that are worth participating in. I believe that we should continue to work together on security issues via both NATO and Europol. I hope that we can continue to collaborate with them on research and development projects in the Horizon 2020 programme. I want our students can continue to enjoy the benefits of the ERASMUS programme that allows them to live and learn in other countries.
This kind of participation in selected schemes is in our interest and yes we should pay our fair share of the costs, so long as we are treated equally when it comes to the benefits. What we will not do though is continue to send £18bn to Brussels every year - budget contributions of this scale should become a thing of the past and the money used in Britain to support our own interests.
I am determined to make a success of Brexit. I will not be supporting calls for second referendums or ignoring the result but rather will support getting the best deal we can from the EU whilst pursuing other global opportunities with other countries, many of which have already indicated their willingness to do a deal as quickly as possible - such the USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.
I can fully understand why the future appears uncertain but I do believe that it will be a bright one.