George Freeman highlights the post-Brexit opportunity to liberate our entrepreneurs and our innovators from bureaucratic red tape. He also highlights the opportunity to strengthen the UK with innovation clusters in nutraceuticals, functional foods, satellites, robotics and AI around the country, including in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and the need to use our aid, trade and security to fly the flag for the best food, AI and technology, and to make Britain a global hub of innovation.
I welcome the generalissimo to his place on the Front Bench. May I say what a pleasure it is to have been part of this project and to put on record our thanks to the civil servants in the Cabinet Office, led magnificently by Will Hayter? The team did a huge amount of work for us. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there are three big messages from this? First, those who have insisted that there is not regulatory dividend from Brexit, other than rushing to the bottom and slashing standards, could not be more wrong. The approach we have set out here is that, liberated from an inevitably bureaucratic and slow-moving European framework, Britain can lead in setting the standards in clinical trials, AI and other fast-emerging sectors. I say that as a former Minister with responsibility for life sciences and the future of transport, and a former remainer. If we are going to go through this, as we are, let us make it an opportunity where we liberate our entrepreneurs and our innovators.
Secondly, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, crucially, there is a big message for levelling up? If we unlock those new sectors, it is not all about growth in Cambridge and Oxford. In nutraceuticals, functional foods, satellites, robotics and AI there are clusters around the country, including in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. That strengthens the United Kingdom as a centre of innovation.
Thirdly, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, crucially, we need to make sure that this links to international trade; Britain putting in variable tariffs around our standards so that we use our aid, trade and security to fly the flag for the best food, AI and technology, and to make Britain a global hub of innovation?
My hon. Friend could not be more right, if I can put it that way. Those who were naysayers and gainsayers, those who were so relentlessly negative, are clearly wrong. They now know they are in the wrong. They were saying that nothing could be done to improve this country’s position post Brexit. That is clearly wrong. Britain can lead the world. It is leading the world in many areas and will continue to do so under this Government. We are liberated and we are continuing to liberate our industries, trade and services from the shackles of bureaucracy. We will continue to do that, while at the same time, as he ably says, levelling up the whole of this country.