As the year draws to a close, I, like many, reflect on the events and issues that defined my year and look with positive anticipation to the future. 2016 has been politically, one of the most eventful in our nation’s history, and with events across the globe it is on par with the seismic events of 1968, where the people challenged the elites and won.
I’m immensely proud to have played a small part in the referendum campaign of Britain leaving the European Union. I came into politics simply to make the positive case for leaving the EU. So being at the count in my home city of Manchester for the winning result on the 23rd of June will stay with me forever.
In October, I took the decision to leave UKIP and sit as an independent MEP. I did this with a heavy heart, but for the right reasons. In the summer, I put my head above the parapet on a platform of change. Change in the party structure, change of personnel and change in our policies. Sadly, this was met with hostility from those in UKIP hierarchy and paid officials who denied the need for any such change and vigorously resisted those who proposed it. Their actions led to my departure.
New UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, now has a golden opportunity to build on the success of the Brexit referendum, by unifying those who wish to see a free, democratic, trading nation, promoting a vision of a unified patriotic United Kingdom and exploiting the failures of the Labour Party’s abandonment of millions of working people. The direction Paul has chosen to take of his future Britain is reflected by the people he has appointed to the key spokesman roles and senior advisors. With the exception of Peter Whittle (Deputy leader) and David Kurten (Education) the remaining key roles of immigration, defence, fisheries, housing and Brexit are filled with his closest confidantes and drinking buddies who to some personify the negative media view of UKIP as a narrow, insular nationalism not a broader patriotic party.
Whilst, at the same time, Nuttall’s avowal of unity includes keeping close to him those in leadership positions in Wales and London who were instrumental in the summer purge of the Faragistas. This may just be a short term convenience as he gains confidence and strength to take the levers of power and then allows the more erudite and hard working senior campaigners to come to the fore to take the battle to Labour and Conservatives. The May elections will show how far he has gone and I wish him every success.
My work as an MEP continues and to my constituents in the North West, albeit as an independent. I will still champion the same causes that I joined politics for over two and a half years ago – freedom, liberty, democracy and a true Brexit.
I will use my role to promote the positive referendum case, which means leaving the single market, taking full control of our borders, fishing rights, laws and finances. However, whilst Leave means Leave – the time for squabbling, insults, bravado and ego must stop on both sides. The referendum is over. We must go about ensuring the result is respected in a professional and polite manner.
I’m focused on two issues: immigration and financial affairs.
On immigration, all the polls still say it is a major concern to many. I’ve done the research, wrote policy, spoken to stakeholders up and down the country. In the new year I will continue my campaign for a Brexit immigration dividend of a fair, ethical policy fully controlled by the British government. In Doncaster 2014, I was one of the first to say that when we Leave, EU migrants lawfully in the U.K. should have the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely if they chose to. In addition, I’ll also continue to talk about the domestic changes we need to make to our immigration system. Post Brexit, we need our own, bespoke British points based system which is fair, flexible and forward thinking.
As someone who spent two decades in the City of London, I’ll also continue to present a positive vision and outlook for the UK’s Financial Services Sector post Brexit. The City of London should embrace the opportunities Brexit presents for its growing industry – no more scaremongering, we must push back against the likes of Mandelson and Blair, who have their own narrow interests at heart not that of the country as a whole.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Merry Christmas to you all.