Remainer U-turn: David Lidington tells Rejoiners to back Brexit Britain – EU dream crushed

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Sir David, who describes himself as an unrepentant Remainer, said the UK now had the potential to lead the world in pioneering sectors such as fintech, life sciences, artificial intelligence and genetic modification. He said Britain could move with more agility and creativity than its European Union rivals in the coming decade.

Leavers and Remainers have an obligation to haul themselves out of the trenches of the past five years

David Lidington

Writing in The Times, Sir David said: “For better or worse, this country is now fully outside the European Union.

“Whether you were an enthusiastic supporter of Leave or, like me, an unrepentant Remainer, our focus now has to be on identifying and then implementing policies that will, in the world as it now is, best enable our country to succeed.”

Sir David, who was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 2018 and 2019, said a new paper from the Policy Exchange thinktank explored the choices, opportunities and risks faced by Boris Johnson’s Governments and future administrations.

He said: “Its argument that the UK should seek first-mover advantage in new sectors and technologies is immensely attractive.

“The UK has the potential to be world-leading in areas such as fintech, life sciences, artificial intelligence and genetic modification — and to move with more agility and creativity than the EU in the decade ahead.

“I remember arguing more than once at the General Affairs Council that too cautious an application of the precautionary principle and a sluggish approach to innovation risked driving these new industries out of Europe altogether, to the advantage of North America and China.

“Freer global trade in services, another opportunity highlighted in the paper, would also benefit our economy and should be a priority in future bilateral trade agreements.”

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He said a close future relationship between the UK and EU would boost Britain’s chances of securing serious global reform given the heavyweight role Brussels plays in setting world trade rules.

Sir David said Britain’s moves to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles or to introduce local electricity pricing could help us meet our climate targets sooner than the EU and give the UK an edge in the growing global market for zero-carbon goods and services.

He said: “In the months and years ahead, UK leaders will have to confront many difficult judgments.

“Every one of the ideas identified by Policy Exchange in its paper will need rigorous, detailed analysis and discussion.

“Leavers and Remainers alike have an obligation to the country to haul themselves out of the trenches of the past five years and contribute to hard-headed, pragmatic debates about where our national interest lies.”

Sir David’s comments came as relations between Britain and Brussels nosedived after a bitter row over a claim by the European Council president that the UK imposed an “outright ban” on coronavirus vaccine exports.

Mr Johnson told MPs the UK has not “blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine” as he sought to correct the suggestion by Charles Michel.

A senior EU diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office over the row, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has written to Mr Michel seeking to correct the record.

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Mr Michel accused Britain and the US of imposing bans on the movement of jabs in a newsletter on Tuesday.

He said he was “shocked” when he heard allegations of vaccine nationalism levelled at the EU, saying: “The facts do not lie.”

Nicole Mannion, deputy EU ambassador to the UK, was summoned to the Foreign Office on Wednesday morning amid anger over the claim being repeated within the EU and the Commission, despite the UK correcting the record on each occasion.

A spokesman for the EU delegation said: “This morning, Nicole Mannion, deputy ambassador of the EU to the UK and charge d’affaires at the EU delegation to the UK attended a meeting at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.”

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