First words in House of Commons – June 28th 2005
"I shall speak up for an independent Britain trading with Europe and beyond, yet governing ourselves once again, living under our own Parliament, making our own laws."
Last words in House of Commons – April 26th 2017
"What assurance can the Prime Minister give ... that if she is in office after June 8th, the United Kingdom will become a sovereign country once again, living under our own Parliament, making our own laws?"
I have never felt more proud and honoured than when representing my Essex constituents in the House of Commons.
Over the past twelve years I have had great fun working with, and getting to know, many wonderful local people. Together, we ran all sorts of local campaigns, from safeguarding local services to getting a new seafront. Local has always come first.
As I promised in my maiden speech, I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union - even changing parties and triggering a by election to help nudge things along. Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again.
I have decided that I will not now be seeking re-election. I intend to vote Conservative on June 8th and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton Constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.
It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn't feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I'm delighted.
Having been an MP for about half my adult life, I believe that it is time for me to move on to other things. I look forward to being able to read newspapers without appearing in them.
It has been the highest honour to have represented Clacton in the House of Commons.
The news that BP is cutting its CEO's pay by 40% in response to shareholder pressure proves an important point: part of the solution to soaring corporate pay is more shareholder power.
CEOs aren't taking home huge pay packets because – as some claim – that's just the market rate. On the contrary: corporate executives have seen their salaries rise much faster than the market cap of the companies they run.
This is an example of what's known as the principal-agent problem: CEOs are acting in their own interests, instead of those of the people who own the company. Because the owners have lost control.
One of the reasons the salaries of corporate executives have rocketed to absurd levels is that their earnings are decided by remuneration committees rather than shareholders. And remuneration committees are invariably made up of corporate executives from other companies.
When corporate mandarins sit on each other's boards and award each other's pay, it's hardly surprising that they're getting richer. The system is a closed shop. A self-serving oligarchy.
BP's decision is telling because the shareholders' vote on the boss's pay last year wasn't even binding. Imagine the difference it would make across the corporate world if such votes were. Ordinary shareholders would be able to break the corporate cartel.
To defeat the emerging oligarchy, power needs to be dispersed in all walks of life. It's time for shareholders to Rebel.
How would you react if the government said you could no longer shop at a supermarket outside your local area? Or get a job more than a few miles from your house? You'd probably find the idea absurd. So why do we accept it for schools?
Catchment areas are designed to suit providers rather than customers. The system works to keep bad schools open by leaving parents no alternative choice.
That, in turn, leads to selection by house price. Parents looking for a good school have to buy into its catchment area – pushing up house prices. So poorer families are priced out.
The good news is that free schools are increasing choice. A new report by the Centre for Policy Studies shows that allowing people to set up new schools wherever they want has dramatically improved education standards in the poorest areas.
But we could go a lot further. Why not give parents control over their share of the education budget – and let them spend it on whichever school they want? Why not let all schools decide their own curriculum, instead of setting it nationally, and let families choose which is best for them?
Fundamentally, why should bureaucrats in Whitehall and the town hall decide how your money should be spent on educating your children?
In my new book, Rebel, I show that tax revenues have been captured by an oligarchy which runs public services to suit its own interests – not the public's. To get better services, the people must take back control.
I'm confident that Britain will reach a trade deal with the EU. There is good will to strike one in Europe. But we could do with more good will from the Brexit Select Committee.
Madrid aside, the response to Article 50 in European capitals has been constructive. The EU Ambassadors I've spoken to are clear their governments want a deal that works for both sides.
But, to get a good deal, Theresa May has to be prepared to walk away. If EU negotiators think she will take anything – like David Cameron – they will offer nothing.
The good news is she can walk away. It is workable for the UK to trade with the EU on WTO terms. Facilitating trade is what the WTO is for.
The fact that WTO terms are a viable alternative makes a good trade deal more likely, not less. But that seems to have escaped the Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn. His Committee's latest report – rejected by over a third of its own members – dismisses the principle that no deal is better than a bad deal as 'unsubstantiated'.
It's actually self-evident. We had a referendum on it. The majority decided that EU membership is a bad deal – with all the obligations it entails. They chose an end to the status quo – even if that meant a clean break.
The irony of Benn's approach is that it makes no deal more likely. Were EU leaders to start the negotiation under the illusion that the PM isn't prepared to walk away without a deal, she would be left with no choice but to do so.
Select Committees aren't for political partisanship. They exist to help ensure good government. Benn should follow the lead of EU governments – and stop refighting the referendum.
Yesterday, Bitcoin's price jumped after Japan legalised it. I'm all for currency choice. But why should governments get to decide what currency we can use in the first place?
Today, when every major currency is managed by central banks and backed by nothing more than government fiat, it's easy to think money and the state are intrinsically bound together.
But they're not. Money developed organically. It filled a market demand for a means of exchange. It emerged solely because prehistoric people wanted to trade with each other.
Ruling elites took over money as a short cut to parasitism. Control over the means of exchange equals control over trade – and the ability to seize wealth by stealth.
In the past, ruling regimes would clip the coinage to increase their share of the wealth – usually to fund wars. But that's nothing compared to the scale of currency debasement today.
Our central banks now openly set targets for inflation. Money manipulation is still used to fund governments – only now it's used to help politicians buy votes by raising spending without raising taxes.
Private currencies like Bitcoin have caught on as an alternative to depreciating fiat money. So it's hardly surprising that governments have tried to restrict its use.
In my new book, Rebel, I make the point that parasitic monetary policy leads to inequality. I also set out the solution. To defeat the oligarchy, currency needs to be set free.
The Great Repeal Bill is a bit of a misnomer. It's really a Great Transfer Bill. That's the right approach. How we change the law in the future should be up to voters to decide in the next election.
As the government's white paper sets out, the Great Repeal Bill will merely transfer EU law – the acquis communautaire – onto our statute books from the day we leave the EU.
It might seem strange to begin Brexit like this. But it's the best way – for three reasons.
First, it ensures a smooth transition.
Second, it makes negotiating a trade deal with the EU easier. European trading partners should know that regulatory parity won't end the moment we leave.
Third, and most importantly, voters should decide what laws to change.
I'd like the burden of regulation on small business to be lifted post-Brexit. Equally, I want to see stronger environmental protections – to reverse the damage done to our countryside by the Common Agricultural Policy.
But these aren't choices for MPs alone to make. They need to be put to the electorate in manifestos. The 2020 general election should be fought over competing visions for the kind of law and regulation we want.
Taking back control isn't for politicians. It's for the people.
Now we're leaving the European Union, we have the chance to rethink huge areas of policy that were subcontracted to Brussels. Our aim should be to spread power outwards and downwards.
Britain is breaking free from an oligarchy. In Brussels, decisions are made by a tiny elite behind closed doors. Special interests have more say over legislation than voters. Taking back control means leaving that system of government behind.
So repatriating powers from Brussels shouldn't just entail transferring them to our own elites in Whitehall. It should mean giving people control over their own lives.
Yes, we'll be able to spend the money we currently send to the EU on our public services at home. But why not let individuals – not bureaucrats – control their own share of spending on health and education?
Yes, we'll be able to decide our own product regulations. But why not empower consumers to choose between goods regulated to different – competing – standards?
Yesterday, Theresa May talked about building a fairer Britain – to spread wealth. But financial inequality doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's the result of oligarchy. The way to spread wealth is to spread power.
Prosperity increases when oligarchy is overthrown. We need to Rebel.
Throughout my time in politics, I've campaigned for a liberal Brexit. Today, the Prime Minister is making it happen by triggering Article 50 – and I couldn't be happier.
As a founding member of Vote Leave, I'm heartened that the government has opted for our vision of Brexit: taking back control from the supranational regulatory system misleadingly referred to as the single market, and embracing free trade, outside the EU's protectionist customs union.
The government is right to be ambitious about the trade deal it will now negotiate with the EU. For all the tough talk from top Eurocrats, the key figure in the negotiations will be the German Chancellor, who will take a much more pragmatic approach.
Crucially, Theresa May has made clear that she is prepared to leave without a deal. She mustn't waver on that. Not just because trade on WTO terms is workable – after all, facilitating trade is the entire purpose of the WTO. But because being prepared to take a deal at any price will result in a bad deal. David Cameron proved that last year.
But Brexit isn't just about our future relationship with the EU. It's also about the kind of society we want. Restoring parliamentary sovereignty means giving voters a say over policy that they have been denied for decades. Power is returning to the British people.
So cheer up! Democracy is coming home.
How often do we hear that all we need is a new leader? Whether it's Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or Tony Blair, we're assured that all our problems will be solved just by changing the big man at the top. That myth is at the root of what's wrong with politics.
The more popular leaders are on entering office, the more they inevitably disappoint. How could they not? No human being is a god.
Yet every few years we seem to go through the same charade. Forget that the last messiah didn't work out, or the one before that. Just have faith that the next one will.
This idea isn't just absurd. It's dangerous. Right now, voters who have lost faith in established saviours are turning to insurgents instead. But what happens when the insurgents fail? The danger is that people will lose faith in democracy itself.
Rather than obsess about the people at the top, we should be focusing on everyone else. The most prosperous and successful nations are those where power is dispersed. What matters is not the personalities, but the systems.
The solution is to take power away from big-man elites, and restore it to individuals. Read my new book Rebel to find out how.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex