Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Brexit means what?

IUsed my fortnightyly column for the Oswestry and Border Chronicle today to consider where we are in relation to Brexit - where we are in the process of delivering on the EU referendum vote that the UK should leave the EU. I like to write about issues I'm uncertain about. Useful way of arranging my thoughts into an opinion! Those who have read me on this issue will know I didn't want the referendum. I thought it was too complex an issue for a Yes/No response. But since there was a vote I voted Leave. I voted Leave in 1975, and would always have voted Leave. I did not expect Leave to win, but win if did. And that is it. No going back. So this is what I wrote.

"The dominating political issue of the moment is Brexit, the process by which the UK will leave the EU. A few people are still refusing to accept the clear judgement of the British people in the Referendum on June 23rd. Some are still calling for a second referendum. It's not going to happen. There are some advocating a long delay in the hope that the Exit process will simply run out of steam. That's not going to happen either. The reality is that most people, including many who campaigned to 'Remain' are now accepting the reality of Brexit. The argument is over.

Since June 23rd, we have been reading lots of comment about what Brexit means. The Prime Minister has told us that "Brexit means Brexit" which tells us 'everything' and 'nothing'. Theresa May is absolutely clear that Britain will be leaving the EU, and she is refusing to be rushed into hasty judgement. She is decisive about the principle, but cautious about how it's delivered. She wants to get it right. I fully support this common sense approach. 

This week we have learned something about two crucial steps needed to set the process underway - to press the official start button. Firstly, the two year period of formal negotiation on terms of withdrawal will begin before end of March 2017. For several weeks we have heard demands that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty be invoked immediately - probably by people wanting the process to fail. Today we are hearing accusations that the process is being rushed!! My view is that Mrs May has got it bang on in terms of timing. We also know that Parliament will be asked in the spring to repeal the European Communities Act 1972. It will be interesting to see how many MPs and Peers will oppose this, openly refusing to accept the voice of the people. 

Currently, we are being subjected to millions of confused and confusing words about a 'Hard Brexit' or a 'Soft Brexit'. What is this all about? Its the commentariat making up a story, because Mrs May is governing for the country and not for the media. She is not governing by press release. So the media are having to resort to invention. My advice is ignore it.

Some things that are obvious. The UK simply cannot stay in the 'Single Market', as many are demanding. We cannot accept the free movement of people from the EU (or anywhere else) into the UK, which is a fundamental principle of the Single Market. But we will want access to the Single Market, as the EU will want to the British market. The British economy needs immigrant workers to support our hotels, restaurants, care homes, NHS, agriculture, financial services etc. Trans-Europe trade does not need tariffs or anti-competitive rules. We need good trading arrangements with EU countries, and they will with us. Both negotiating teams will have an interest in an amicable divorce, leaving both parties content. The Prime Minster knows that the road ahead will be a bit bumpy. Brexit is a mighty change. But I expect Mrs May to deliver it. 

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