2nd October 2016

People should not focus on a "hard" or "soft" exit for Britain from the EU but instead concentrate on securing a good exit, Conservative MEPs leader Ashley Fox told the party's conference this afternoon.

He said the goal must be to agree a deal that meets the needs of the British people and restores control over the country's borders.

Mr Fox's full speech to delegates:

"This summer Britain was shaken by an exit that none of us expected. That made us question the very meaning of our existence.

That’s right - Mel, Sue and Mary quit the Bake Off.

And in other news, the British people voted to leave the EU.

In this party, we have always trusted the British people to make the right decision. So whether we campaigned to leave or to remain we now have our instructions. And we will carry them out.

Britain will leave the European Union.

Last year at our conference in Manchester I said from this podium that there would be good Conservatives on both sides of the referendum campaign. There were.

I said that after the referendum we would need to come together for the good of the country.
We did.

The Conservative Party showed that we are united, with ideas to deliver a Britain that works for everyone, whilst Labour showed it is a disunited rabble.

How many members of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet does it take to change a light bulb?

Nobody knows!

The light bulb has outlasted them all.

Across the country, there are different interpretations of what leaving the EU will entail.

Some are concerned that we will seek a soft Brexit that acts like the referendum never happened. Others want a hard Brexit as if to prove how tough we are.

But I believe we need a good Brexit that meets the needs of the British people and that recognises the desire of many of us to restore control over our country’s borders.

One thing is for sure: Brexit means we will leave the European institutions that exercise power over our country: the commission, the court, the council and, yes, the European Parliament. So when we give Brussels notice of our departure, British MEPs will also be handed our P45s.

As long as Britain remains a member of the EU, your MEPs, will fight Britain’s corner. We will get the best deal for our constituents.

And I will continue to fight for my constituency of the South West of England, and Gibraltar.

Gibraltar needs to hear from us today. And Spain needs to listen.

That the Conservatives will never abandon our compatriots on The Rock.

As our Prime Minister has said, we will trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year. Once this countdown to our departure begins, there will be tough negotiations ahead.

We must support Theresa May and our strong team of David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.
But let us never be in doubt that the United Kingdom’s best days still lie ahead of us.

After all, we are not only a nation of shopkeepers. But also of artists and scientists. A country of entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors.

And let us not forget the country of Olympic and Paralympic greatness.

For Britain is a land of strength, determination and resolve. We are a global trading nation, and even though we are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe.

We will not walk away from our allies, but will seek to reinvigorate old friendships.

We will not abandon our neighbours, but will scan the horizon for new opportunities.

We are not leaving behind our past but instead preparing for our future.

So, conference, the British people have spoken.

Let us embrace the opportunity that Brexit provides.

Let us go forward together.

And let us build a bright future for our great country."

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