We MUST make Brexit work or Labour will drag us back into the EU, says Dame Priti Patel

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By Dame Priti Patel.

Sir Keir Starmer and his friends have spent years trying to block and reverse Brexit, we must not allow that to happen, says former Home Secretary Priti Patel.

This week marks the seventh year since David Cameron resigned and Theresa May became Prime Minister, weeks after the British people took the historic decision to leave the EU.

Seven years, four prime ministers and two general elections later, Britain is still not making the most out of the new opportunities and freedoms that Brexit gives us, and we are now at risk of being dragged back into the EU with Keir Starmer.

That vote – the greatest show of democracy our country had seen with over 17 million people backing Brexit – gave the Government and Parliament a clear mandate to take back control and make changes that put our national interests first.

Free from the grip of Brussels, we had a great opportunity to transform our country into a low tax beacon of free trade. A country that encouraged and embraced investment and entrepreneurs, and a nation with boundless ambition and new-found confidence in itself.

Free from the grip of Brussels, we had a great opportunity to transform our country into a low tax beacon of free trade.

But delivering on that potential has stalled. We all know that for more than three years Parliament tore itself apart as the establishment and remain backers unable to get over the fact they lost.

They selfishly sought to block and delay Brexit and deliberately create instability and uncertainty to try to damage our country.

Of course, the covid pandemic, War in Ukraine, and high inflation levels have posed us all problems and challenges and the Government has rightly needed to give those important matters some focus and attention. But we still should have been able to keep Brexit firmly on track.

Then just as we were making progress after the 2019 General Election with a large Conservative majority, just as we got Brexit done by formally leaving the EU in 2020, the rug was pulled under our feet.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing the official Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, inside No10 Downing Street whilst he was PM. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street

The Windsor Framework kept Northern Ireland under the thumb of the EU and compromised the internal market of the UK while the Government has not moved fast enough to scrap EU laws and replace them with sensible regulations that empower businesses.

The new trade deals that we have agreed with Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, and our entry into the Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are welcome. But the Government should have made more progress opening up trade with more markets.

India is a country with opportunities for high future growth with a growing working age and entrepreneurial population. There is a big prize for us in securing a free trade deal with them.

The Government must also increase its efforts to secure a trade deal with our largest bilateral trading partner, the USA.

If we do not deliver the benefits of Brexit then we risk losing the next General Election, failing to support economic growth, and leaving the door open for others to drag us back into the EU.

If we do not deliver the benefits of Brexit then we risk losing the next General Election…

Readers will know that the political turmoil caused by the removal of Boris Johnson as prime minster has meant that the Government has lost one of Brexit’s greatest defenders and current polling suggests this now means there is the possibility of a Keir Starmer led Government.

We must not allow that to happen. A Labour or Labour-led coalition will only seek to drag Britain back into the EU. Sir Keir and his friends have spent years trying to block and reverse Brexit and now boast of wanting closer relations with the EU.

We all know that they cannot be trusted, which is why it is more important than ever for the Conservatives to unite and galvanise around a clear vision for the future of our country.

Over the next year we must start delivering the benefits of Brexit, promote a low-tax free enterprise economy, and produce a manifesto inspired by the Conservative values that Britain’s hard-working law-abiding majority can trust and vote for.


Priti Patel DBE served as Home Secretary from 2019 to 2022. A member of the Conservative Party, she was Secretary of State for International Development from 2016 to 2017.

Dame Patel has been the MP for Witham since 2010 and is Head Patron of the Conservative Democratic Organisation. Follow Priti Patel on Twitter.

This article was first published in the Express on Wednesday, Jul 12, 2023.

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