A tumultuous year in politics is almost at an end. This year the British people decided to change the course their country was set on. They chose a new path, writes UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall MEP.
By a narrow but decisive majority, they opted to take back control of key decision-making. They decided that European political integration and indeed the whole era of globalisation had gone too far, hollowing-out their democracy and leaving most of them worse off both financially and in terms of the cohesion of their communities.
As the leader of UKIP, my top priority will be to make sure that in the New Year much faster progress is made towards implementing that big democratic decision. And woe betide any politician who seeks to stand in the way of a decision that was explicitly handed to the British people by both Houses of Parliament when they approved the EU Referendum Bill.
The electorate well remembers the line in that official Whitehall leaflet delivered to every UK household: 'This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.' MPs who seek to thwart Brexit will find their prospects for re-election greatly diminished.
Leaving the European Union is a necessary step for the revival of our country but not a sufficient one. We must make use of our new freedom of action to help deliver a better life and a better society for millions of Britons hitherto forgotten by the political elite.
I would advise all political parties to keep in mind that the prime duty of British governments is to advance the interests of British people – mine certainly will.
Whether one is talking about supporting our magnificent Armed Services, prioritising housing and welfare resources or ensuring that the NHS is not wide open to abuse by new arrivals who have never paid into the pot, it is time to reorder the priorities of our governing class.
I expect 2017 to see a further intensification of the debate around our annual £12bn foreign aid bill at a time when social care for the elderly is in crisis and dependency on food banks is spreading through our most deprived communities. It will also see the British people expecting to finally see their oft-expressed wish for immigration to be brought back under control begin to take effect. Again, the UKIP that I lead will be to the fore in these arguments.
Most of all, I believe that 2016 will be remembered as the year when the British people rejected both narrow individualism and the concept – fashionable among elites only – of a utopian 'no borders' global citizenship.
The most powerful word in politics is 'we'. This year politicians were reminded that when most normal, sensible, common-sense people use that word they have in mind their families, their neighbourhoods and their nation.
Those politicians who take heed of that message will find that once again democratic politics is capable of contributing to wonderful advances. Those that remain ideologically committed to imposing the doctrinaire beliefs of the political class upon the people will find that they fall by the wayside.
In recent years we have been forced to confront the unpalatable truth that the British values that we came to take for granted - such as fair play, gender equality, freedom of expression, a commitment to democratic politics and equality before the law – are now far from universally acknowledged or applied in all our communities.
I see the Brexit vote as in part a public response to these worries too. A warning from the people that the strategy of the political class of turning a blind eye to abuses of core British values in the name of multiculturalism has reached the end of the line.
If the word 'we' is to mean as much as it should then the basic rights and duties that come with being British must be upheld in every community in our country.
This Christmas we can be hopeful that new opportunities are on the way for the British people. We have taken a decision that truly merits its own chapter in our evolving and amazing island story. We can be open to the best the world has to offer while also being mindful that in many regards Britain already leads the world.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.