Andrea Jenkyns
Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood

Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said that “a week is a long time in politics”. However, it was not until I became elected in 2015 that those words hit home. If a week is a long time, then a year can seem like a lifetime.

Who would have thought at the end of 2017 that in the coming year we would see so much happen? Cabinet reshuffles, microbeads and ivory sales being banned, the Chequers plan, the hottest summer on record, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and the England football team’s fantastic performance at the World Cup in Russia, to name but a few of the events of 2018.

What lies in store for Britain in 2019? I am not one for making predictions, but no doubt Brexit will continue to dominate much of the political agenda in 2019. I, therefore, thought I would take this opportunity to talk you through a few of the critical dates and
votes on that important subject in 2019.Depending on the final deal, the vote could cause problems for the Prime Minister as she could face rebellions by the Democratic Unionist Party and some of my backbench colleagues. Only time will tell.

The 21st January, 2019, is the no deal legal cut-off date. That is the very last cut-off date for a deal to be presented to Parliament under UK law. If no withdrawal agreement is presented to MPs by that date, MPs will get a vote on what should happen next. A second referendum? An extension? I certainly hope that those prospects do not transpire so this will be a very important date in my diary. But it is not only the UK Parliament which has a vote on the exit deal – the European Parliament also has to vote the deal through.

Depending on the progress of the final deal, that will likely happen sometime between January and March 2019; however, this vote has to occur by 14th March 2019. March 21st, 2019, will be the last European Council meeting that Britain will attend. That has been dubbed the “goodbye meeting” and
all of the EU leaders will be in attendance.

Now time for the exciting stuff! On 29th March, 2019, Britain will finally have officially left the EU. Barring an extension – which I
will strongly object to – Britain will officially leave the EU two years after the Prime Minister triggered Article 50. Currently, Big Ben is undergoing some much-needed maintenance works; however, on Brexit Day, Big Ben will bong Britain into Brexit. I have also started preparing plans for a small gathering to celebrate that historic day.

So that is it for Brexit and 2019, but while I have your attention, I thought I would finish the Brexit story as we are not quite there yet, fortunately. It will not be until the end of next year, 31st December, 2020, that that transition period ends. The Prime Minister negotiated a 21-month Brexit transition period under which the UK will continue to follow EU rules as if nothing has changed. Therefore, it will not be until the end of 2020 that Britain will be free of all the interference from the EU’s red tape.

So, therefore, it will not be until 2021 that Britain can start being the Global Britain that excites so many of my Brexit colleagues and captured the attention of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave at the 2016 EU referendum. In 2019 and 2020, we will need to start laying the groundwork for creating a bold vision for Brexit that the whole country can get behind and support.

Brexit provides the UK with a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the exciting place that the twenty-first century is going to be. We need to look beyond the borders of Europe and seek new trade deals with the economic powerhouses of tomorrow. Brexit will provide us with the opportunity to sign free trade deals with countries which were previously closed to us and this will help us forge closer ties with the rest of the world.I said at the beginning of this article that I do not like to make predictions; however, I firmly believe that ritain’s best days lie ahead outside of the EU. In 2019, we will need to start coming together and finally deliver on the promises made to the British people at the referendum.