One of the many characteristics about the residents of Hastings and Rye that I admire is our willingness to look beyond our shores and engage with the wider world. Whether that comes from our ability to see France on a clear day across the Channel, or the fact that we have a local history built on our interaction with the European continent, from the Norman Conquest to our skies filled with planes during the Battle of Britain, who knows. It is our global outlook and willingness to engage beyond our borders that inspires me. That is why I believe we in Hastings and Rye will not just see the term Global Britain as a slogan, but we will grasp it as an opportunity.
Leaving the European Union can pave the way for a truly Global Britain. As the Prime Minister has said many times, we have left the EU not Europe. Our success depends on having a Conservative Government which believes in the U.K. and her peoples across our four nations. We cannot have a future governing party which covertly clings to EU membership and is ‘desperate to re-join’, putting U.K. individuals, communities and businesses second place to the EU project and re-fuelling uncertainty.
The cynics would have you believe that our politics is riven with division, that fault lines between people run deep and long, but this simply is not true. Far more unites us than divides us and we are four nations within the United Kingdom, governed by mutual respect and history. Together we can continue to make this country one we are all proud of, united in our global ambitions to lead the world in protecting our environment and combating climate change, fostering cultural and educational relationships, investing in research and development, promoting global free trade, peacekeeping and upholding human rights.
Other countries want to do business with us and we have already forged 63 trade agreements with countries around the world, covering £885bn of trade, benefitting many of our businesses in Hastings and Rye. We need more trade and investment to turbo-charge economic growth and create jobs as we recover and build back stronger from coronavirus. Now we are outside the constraints of the EU bloc we can invest further and faster in the industries of the future, lead the world in innovation, and be a global hub for services and digital and data trade.
But Global Britain is not just about economic alliances; we can capitalise on our expertise in academics and research, environmental, judicial, and cultural and social alliances. Prioritising stronger cultural and educational relationships will help secure the long-term boost in global trade as we forge our independent way in the world. This is why the Government’s recent announcement on a new study and work placement scheme, the Turing Scheme, is so exciting, giving young people in Hastings and Rye global opportunities to study and work.
Alan Turing, whose childhood home is in Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards-on-Sea, was a brilliant mathematician, cryptographer and pioneer of computer science who saved millions of lives and changed the world. He is most famous for breaking the codes of the Germans during World War II, and is the inspiration behind the new Turing Scheme, which replaces Erasmus. Erasmus was restricted to Europe, whilst the Turing Scheme opens-up the world for our young people, targeting those from more disadvantaged backgrounds and in areas which did not previously have many students benefitting from Erasmus. The Scheme is backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in schools, colleges and universities to go on placements and overseas exchanges. These will be life-changing opportunities which Hastings and Rye’s young people need to be aware of and reach out and grab every opportunity to take part in - and benefit from.
Taking part in such a scheme not only benefits individuals in terms of confidence, independence and job prospects. Discovering, experiencing and understanding other countries’ cultures broadens our horizons, develops a more open outlook and a more empathic and tolerant view of others. This benefits us all - in our communities, businesses and the country as a whole.
2021 marks a new chapter for the U.K. We can take a real, strategic look at the changing world and now that we have the independence, freedom and agility to adapt to changing global patterns, we can fulfill our ambitions to be a truly Global Britain.