The Bill that the House is considering this afternoon is crucial to the future of the United Kingdom and its relations with the European Union. It marks the end of a process that commenced just over five years ago when the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was passed.
Five years ago, this country was firmly embedded in the European Union, and it was there that our future seemed to lie, but now, with the conclusion of the trade and co-operation agreement on Christmas eve, we see a new future for our country as an independent nation in control of our laws, our own borders and our own destiny. This Bill will put that agreement into our domestic law, and it brings to an end one of the most politically turbulent periods in our recent history.
The agreement is, by any standards, a remarkable achievement. It is a tribute to the clarity of purpose, political skill and tenacity of the Prime Minister, Lord Frost and the rest of the UK negotiating team. They have secured an expansive zero-tariff, zero-quota deal unprecedented in the history of the European Union—a deal that respects the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, that has no role for the European Court of Justice, and that the United Kingdom can unilaterally terminate should it wish to do so.
The economic benefits of the deal are huge. For example, as a consequence of the agreement, sheep farmers in my north Wales constituency will continue to export their premium product tariff-free to the European markets they have supplied for the past half century, but they can also look to developing new markets around the globe unconstrained by Brussels. Most importantly, they will do so as citizens of a free and independent country.
Across our nation, in these dying days of 2020, millions of our fellow citizens will be looking forward to the new future that begins on the stroke of 11 o’clock tomorrow night: a future in which our democracy reasserts itself through this ancient and honourable Parliament; a future in which our commercial undertakings can explore new global opportunities to increase prosperity for our people; and a future of hope for our young generation, as citizens of a great and outward-looking country that has had the confidence to stand, once again, on its own two feet.
The Bill is the catalyst for that future. It is the final step in that long, tortuous five-year process we have all lived through. It marks the start of the new independence that the people of this country so clearly voted for in 2016. As such, it is a Bill that keeps faith with the people. As such, it is a Bill that does honour to this House.