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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Our Parliamentarians Distinguish Us – For They Are Us

Next year we leave the European Union and at that time the spotlight of our nation will fall upon Parliament and our Parliamentarians. For whatever the reasons given by our people for their judgement at the Referendum, all of those division eventually find their source in Parliament. The spotlight on our exit will illuminate it. What will our people find when they do? Will the weaknesses be as profound as its wonders or will we re-acquaint ourselves with its central and essential role. For Parliament is our distinguishing value. And it is at our cultural core.

If we wish to understand who we are as a country, what our place in the world is and what our place in the world is to be, we must first understand what our distinguishing values are. We have a magnificent past, a wonderful today and an exciting tomorrow. I share President Obama's sense that that today is the greatest day on earth. And that tomorrow will be better. And that if I had to choose a single day from time itself that it would be today that I would choose. In England.

We are a beacon of democracy, of freedom, language and liberty. Of invention, science, endeavour and hope. Of equality before our common law. Of human rights. Of free trade. We wish to crush the pathways of poverty which we know from the CSJ are rooted in homelessness, worklessness, educational failure, family breakdown, addition and indebtedness. We see our Armed Forces, Police, Monarchy, the BBC and our Mother of Parliaments as special features of a special nation. They derive from but are not distinguishing values in themselves.

Only some of these values are unique to the British. Most are shared by other western liberal democracies. Some are inspired by America, our closest ally. Others by our oldest enemies. And some of our oldest enemies are now our closest friends. Whilst Japan and the United Kingdom are island states, Parliamentary democracies, Constitutional Monarchies and maritime nations these distinguishing characteristics are uniquely shared by our countries, but they not make either country clearer as to what its distinguishing values are.

So what are they? Is it that when I think of England I think of green and pleasant lands? Of our four nations who created one through the taking and making of blood from each other? Of a gentle people who are certain when tested? Is it that the red pillar boxes of England are in me just as they were in Orwell? This romantic sense of who I may think we are cannot be it alone.

The playing fields of England that once prepared us to win on the battlefields of Waterloo now enable equal opportunity and we seek equal partnership with the EU as we depart from it. As we have through the ages, we will defend our values from those who seek to destroy or threaten them. We sailed the seas and made our impression on a diverse world and have made ourselves a tolerant and diverse one at home as its consequence.

Since the Referendum some of our people said that they saw themselves as "citizens of Europe" and that EU Exit denies them that which they consider precious. If we cannot articulate for them a hope that is a united "ours" because we cannot say who we are, we will remain discontentedly and divided for years to come.

The humility required to heal our divisions will spring from a unified understanding of who we were, have become and what our distinguishing values are that enabled either. What defines us in the United Kingdom is the unique blend of our values and their evolution and that they happened over the same course of time as our Parliament evolved in Westminster. We and it are as one.

So what inspires us and how can we celebrate our country, identify those values that distinguish us from others and bind around them? For if we cannot we will be challenged to identify what our unique offering is both in our society at home and in our endeavours abroad. We will make more complex our need to establish a clear-sighted and long term strategy for the United Kingdom whose source is a national vision and the definition of our national mission that flows from it.

The set-piece speeches of the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Secretary of State for International Development contain the finest collective political thought that we have seen in this country for 45 years. They express this country's achievements and our possibilities well: the powerful "Global Britain" narrative by the PM; the enabling "prosperity-stability-security-global security continuum" of DIT's Secretary of State and the "diplomacy-defence-development trinity" of DFID's Secretary of State .

These are thoughts we hear today because they were stimulated by our people voting for EU Exit which provides us with the opportunity to think years beyond our peer nations. They are not though a "retail offering" to our people and nor should they be. They are more a strategic reminder of who we are and will be at home and what our engagement with a wider world beyond and including the EU will become. But they do not describe our single most distinguishing value.

At home we know who we wish to be but we understand far less how to achieve it. Perhaps it is why our people treasure our NHS for example. The people think it is theirs. That Government seen merely as its custodian. The people press for Social Care to be its inclusion. Because they feel that if it does, and despite its failings, that it will deliver. They have "faith" in it and the faith that they might have had in Parliament is reposed at this time more certainly in it. Seen as an agency of Government but not a part of it.

As the Royal Wedding showed our people have a nationally-unified faith in our Monarchy but they do not always understand that Faith and Monarchy are Parliament's founding pillars. Parliamentarians have a duty to educate and lead the nation in thought. For it is them who have the time and space to think. But are they ready for that spotlight when it is shone upon them by our people? Why do our people not better understand what our Parliament is and why have our Parliamentarians not explained it to them?

All that the United Kingdom is springs from the source that is Parliament. Parliament and our Law were founded on the twin pillars of Faith and Monarchy. And over a 1,000 years Monarchical power has devolved to our Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. And so when the people elect their Members of Parliament they are touching the powers of their Sovereign who is the Defender of all Faiths. It is a political miracle. And it is uniquely ours.

And when Parliamentarians speak they do so in bond with their people. Building on their uniting Common Law in a trinity of devotion to a nation from which its Parliament is formed and which is theirs. The sands of those 1,000 years of time are in our Parliament. It is neither its bi-cameral nature nor its outcome that distinguishes our Parliament from others. It is those specific "sands of time" that remind us of our continuum and that explain where we came from and why our Sovereign is in Parliament in the form of Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Opposition, both drawn from our Members of Parliament in the Commons and where power lies.

It is why our Parliament was formed as the assembly of the three great estates; the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Templar forming together in the House of Lords and the representatives of the counties, cities, boroughs and universities forming the House of Commons. And today its Members of Parliament in the Commons and from where the Executive and the Opposition are drawn elected directly by its people.

The unique distinguishing value of our nation is our Parliament through the sands of time that combined to create the continuity of the United Kingdom and expressing who we were, who we are and who we wish to be at home and overseas. Its history, purpose and essence is its people. Our Parliament in Westminster distinguishes it from all others. It is at our nation's cultural core.

Our country need not exist in a divided state between the "Brexiteer" and "Remainer" nor re-enact in more peaceful form an earlier national divide between the Parliamentarian and the Royalist. We are all "one nation" and our Parliament has sprung from it and formed it.

Whilst we may have voted differently during the Referendum it is to Parliament that we must look to help heal those differences, and it is to our Parliamentarians that we expect to educate and lead our nation in understanding who we will become.

The deep reservoirs of faith that our people have in our public services must be reflected by the unblemished devotion to public service by our Parliamentarians. For on the day of EU Exit, there will be no-one other than our Parliamentarians who our nation will look to express itself and to chart the exciting prospect we have before us.

That common bond is our distinguishing value.

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