As the only person ever to have been elected for Ukip in a General Election, if I was in the House of Commons today I would not just vote in favour of Boris Johnson’s deal. I would do so cheerfully in the knowledge that this is pretty much what I have spent much of my adult life campaigning for.
Firstly, UK law will become supreme in the UK. No longer will we be under the jurisdiction of the EU courts.
Nor will we be bound by EU regulation. There’s none of Theresa May’s nonsense about a ‘common rule book’. We will be free to determine our own standards. Who knows, we might even start to use elections to decide such things, restoring purpose to our derelict democracy in the process?
Under Boris’s deal, the UK – including Northern Ireland – will have its own separate customs area, allowing us to determine our own trade policy. We might actually become the kind of economically open, free-trade economy we need to be if we are to prosper in the decades ahead.
We will get to control our own borders once again. We will escape the EU’s unreformable Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policy. British farming and fishing policy will be made to benefit British farmers and fishermen.
For most of the period that we have been members of the EU, the UK has been a net contributor – paying more into the EU coffers than we received back. Boris’s deal means there will be no further commitments for the UK towards its budget. If the UK were to decide to opt to carry on contributing to a specific programme, such as the university Erasmus scheme, it will be entirely our decision to do so – and we will only do it because those we elect are certain of the benefits to Britain.
After only 90 days in office, the Prime Minister has put in front of MPs everything we Leavers were asking for; from now on we are a self-governing country, living under our own Parliament and making our own laws.
The extent to which we co-operate with the neighbours or decide to do things differently is up to us. Crucially, if we don’t like public policy in Britain, from now on we will only have Brits, not Brussels, to blame. We might finally begin to address the fundamentally dysfunctional nature of public administration in this country as a consequence.
Back in 1990, when I joined the fledgling Bruges Group, most Eurosceptics would have settled for this. In the late 1990s, as the idea that we needed a referendum to extricate us from the EU started to crystalise in our Eurosceptic minds, we would have grasped such a settlement with both hands.
I would have embraced these arrangements when, from the Conservative backbenches, some of us began to wage a guerilla war, not only against the government, but the legitimacy of the Europhile establishment around us.
This deal is what I wanted when I called – and won – a by-election in my Clacton constituency in 2014. It’s what I sought in 2015 when I stood and won as the only Ukip candidate elected at the General Election.
It is what we Leavers were after when we went and won the referendum in 2016.
So why doesn’t everyone see it that way?
After years of being let down by Tory leaders, who talk tough when they want votes, but buckle in Brussels, it’s understandable that a certain kind of Eurosceptic should be sceptical.
I get that and having stood down from Parliament in 2017 mistakenly believing that it was ‘job done’, I have more reason than most to be wary.
Others that oppose the deal do so precisely because it achieves Brexit. Westminster is awash with politicians and pundits who, until three years ago, seldom stopped to think about the European Union much at all. If they did so, it was to talk about Eurosceptism through the prism of “Tory divisions”.
Now, having discovered that those Tory Eurosceptics spoke for the majority of people across the country, they worked themselves into a collective hysteria about it. Boris’s deal won’t just get us out of the EU. It will do so sensibly and successfully, exposing starkly the mediocrity and folly of our commentariat class. It will be a Lehman-like moment for those broadcasters that have spent years presenting their views as the news. That would be the icing on the cake.