One of the most common comments I have heard in the past few months about Brexit is, “I just want it to be over”. This sentiment has come from people who want to leave and people who want to remain.
I have some sympathy for that viewpoint. I was stopped on my way out with Erica last night by a constituent who I didn’t know who told us, “That lot down there are making a real mess of your profession”. As I unpacked this with him what he meant it was that the people’s trust in politicians was being even more quickly eroded that it had been hitherto”. Although he then did say that I was doing a good job and asked when I was going to get ***** ***** out. Of course, he meant the Mayor!
He is right on all three counts (I say with all due modesty!) We have been talking about Brexit for too long. It has sucked all the energy out of debates we need to have on social care; the NHS; the environment; education and other huge problem areas. It has lost us 400,000 jobs, many of them well paying. It has cost £billions to no effect. It has reduced our international standing to that of a banana republic. AND it WON’T stop on October 31st or any other date if the Government is successful and proceeds either with a No Deal Brexit or a Brexits based on May’s deal.
Why? Because the withdrawal agreement is only a start of the leaving process. It is 500+ pages of things like tariffs, education, labour agreements, environmental agreements, people movement agreements and hundreds of other things that will need to be negotiated almost page by page and then agreed by Parliament. Estimates I have seen from civil servants suggest a minimum of 4 years to deal with these items. At least with May’s agreement there is the basis of a discussion. Without one all the same areas will need to be covered but without a structure for a debate.
These are just some the discussions that will need to go on with the EU. Similar discussions on many of these issues with the rest of the World. From memory we now have in place agreements with just 4 small Countries. The Faroe Islands are not a major source of revenue for us even if we took all their trade. The USA says we will have an agreement with them quickly on trade issues. Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The US administration has already made clear that they know that they can walk all over us and see us as a Country where there will be rich pickings to be had.
For all the time it takes to renegotiate new trade agreements we will be subject to crippling tariffs for most of our exports on World Tariff Organisation terms. These terms will cripple our car industry and our farm industries and will force up the price of food both in the costs of purchase and the increased costs of the bureaucracy needed to move goods around when we are out of the world’s most prosperous free trade zone.
Of course, there is one way to close down the entire debate and that is to have a People’s Vote so there will just be one more national debate that could be over within 2 months. Make it a binding vote to accept either May’s agreement or remain and the matter would be dealt with in principle terms. If the Country votes to leave on these terms the negotiations can start on a better footing and if they decide to remain no further discussion will be necessary.
I personally feel that we need an early General Election but not an immediate one. I support Jo Swinson when she says that legislation to prevent a No Deal Brexit needs to be locked down before such an election should be held. Tories were hoping that we would all forget that the Government remains in place even after the election is called until after the General Election and a new Government is formed. The convention is that nothing contentious takes place at such a time. Johnson has already trampled over Parliamentary convention and etiquette. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him not to do things when he cannot be overruled by Parliament in matters relating to the EU.
Yesterday the Lib Dems were joined from the Tories by Dr Phillip Lee who joined us as Johnson rose to begin his speech. 21 Tories were then chucked out. It should also be noted that 2 Labour MPs who still are in receipt of the Labour whip voted with the Tories. Nothing seems to be being done about them. That, of course ignores the 11 Labour MPs who have given up the Labour whip voluntarily whose votes were all over the place.
Within one hour of Lee joining us 100+ new members joined as well. Yesterday I wrote to two more new members in Liverpool, a task which I seem to be doing every day at the moment. Few in Liverpool have come from the Tories. Most are former Labour members like Chris Lea our candidate in Old Swan and Sean Robertson our Clubmoor candidate who joined us a few months ago.
Liverpool Lib Dems are ready for the fray. We have candidates in place and a clear view of the national policy points we want to emphasise in our Liverpool campaigning. We say, “Bring it on”, but only when we are sure that Johnson cannot fix the agenda whilst the campaign is on.