Despite the ongoing challenges with the Coronavirus pandemic, I believe that 2021 is going to be an important year in shaping Britain’s place in the world.
Last year we were finally able to get Brexit done, delivering on the result of the EU Referendum. When I campaigned in the General Election in 2019, many people told me that they were tired of the delay and confusion and wanted the issue resolved, regardless of how they had voted in 2016. Not only have we left the EU, but just before the end of 2020 both sides were able to agree a Trade & Cooperation Agreement, something that many people thought would be unattainable.
As well as avoiding the uncertainty that having no deal would have brought, we have taken back control of our money, our laws, our borders and our fisheries whilst allowing frictionless trade to continue.
The UK’s relationship with the USA has long been a strong and mutually beneficial one. Presidents and Prime Ministers may come and go, but the ties between our two nations on trade, security and meeting international challenges continue. I welcome the commitment of the new administration to working with us in the fight against climate change, securing a free trade deal, and ensuring continued cooperation through NATO on our defence and security interests.
Later this year the UK will host two important international summits, both of which will be an opportunity to lead our allies on shared interests and global challenges. In June we will host the G7 summit in Cornwall, giving the Prime Minister an opportunity to share his vision of how we build back better from the Covid 19 pandemic, and how we can open up trade, technological change and scientific discovery between different countries. The shared values in liberty and democracy that the G7 nations hold, as well as the combined economic and diplomatic power, can be a force for good across the globe.
In November the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, where national leaders, scientific experts and campaigners will come together to agree coordinated action in the fight against climate change. In 2019 the UK became the first nation to set a legally-binding target to achieve net zero emissions on greenhouse gases, with a target to achieve this by 2050. Again, I look forward to the UK having the opportunity to show global leadership and help steer others towards a plan of action that we urgently require.
There were many fears after the EU Referendum that Brexit would lead to the UK becoming isolated, with weaker global alliances. But I believe 2021 will be the year we prove those fears wrong and show Global Britain at its full potential.
This article first appeared in the Halesowen & Dudley News on 4th February 2021.