The Brexit deal falls short


Brexit may have officially happened last January, however, the realities of Brexit are finally here. Bearing the spoiled fruits of a campaign that kicked off at the beginning of 2016, the first moments of 2021 will see Britain leave the economic and trading relationship that we’ve collectively built to secure futures. I am yet to hear why it’s beneficial for Watford, or for the UK.

Brexit may have officially happened last January, however, the realities of Brexit are finally here. Bearing the spoiled fruits of a campaign that kicked off at the beginning of 2016, the first moments of 2021 will see Britain leave the economic and trading relationship that we’ve collectively built to secure futures. I am yet to hear why it’s beneficial for Watford, or for the UK.

Most people, I expect, might feel that this moment signifies the end of the Brexit saga; a long-running tale of frustration, bitterness and feuding with family, neighbours and friends. As seems so often the case with Brexit, this sadly isn’t the case. While the process of leaving the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union is coming to a close, this deal - hailed by Boris Johnson - commits the UK to perpetually sit at the EU’s negotiating table. The reality is that there is no clear end to this painful process. Brexit is not over; it’s being swept under the rug, kicked down the road and shoved into the long-grass.

In case you hadn’t guessed and to be clear, as a Liberal Democrat, I was against leaving the EU in 2016. I was also against leaving in 2017, 2018 and 2019. I was fairly consistent, some would say irritatingly so, on this point at the 2017 and 2019 elections. 

When it became clear that we were to leave, my priority was on ensuring that Watford and the rest of Britain got the best out of any agreed deal. It’s clear from the deal that Johnson and his lot have secured that neither Watford nor the rest of Britain will get the best out of Brexit; 80% of  our economy is in the services sector but Johnson has negotiated a deal that doesn’t cover this vital artery of our economy and, as of day one, there will be huge amounts more red tape introduced when trading into our single largest export market. What’s more, if this deal is approved by Parliament,  MPs who vote for it will be  signing up to Government managed, presumed endless, negotiations.

Brexit still hasn’t been clearly defined and yet this Conservative Government is declaring ‘deal done’. How can a deal that doesn’t cover the vast majority of our economy possibly be done? How can a deal that has trampled all over the  Government’ so called red-lines, including splitting the UK down the Irish sea, be considered done? 

Watford deserves better than a deal that puts up barriers to trade, introduces a growth industry in red tape and bureaucracy and doesn’t even cover basics needed to empower the largest element of our economy, services. Our MP should take the next few days to carefully consider the fact that many Watford residents and businesses are directly engaged in the services sector and are therefore not supported by this deal, and anyone who exports to Europe now needs to learn how in only days. In addition, many Watford residents are from the EU and now have to apply to live in the town they’ve made their home and many students planning to make use of the Erasmus scheme are now denied it. We deserve better than bluster, puffed up priorities, and last minute capitulation - and Watford is not by an MP limited to cheerleading everything Boris Johnson or this Government does . 

Parliament has a right to reject a deal that doesn’t deliver for the people and to send this Government back to the negotiating table. Our MP should ask the Conservative Government, where was British pragmatism when it left no time for business to prepare? Where was British ambition to give certainty to our services economy and the millions of jobs that depend on it? If Government and Labour MPs vote for the deal then we should expect two things; disruption and loss of trade on day one, followed by a decade of negotiations. The alternative course they could take would be to hold the Government to a higher standard and not accept their political spin. Be in no doubt, this Conservative Government’s deal is bad for Britain, it is not remotely close to the promises that Johnson, Patel and Gove made in 2016 and, given that it’s so limited in scope, is less  of ‘an oven ready deal’ than an oven ready disaster for our country. Politicians are often accused of spin - well this is an attempt at a masterclass that we need to dispel - Brits deserve the truth and deserve clarity, neither of which this Government is providing.


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