Mersey Port Health Problems Show Johnson’s ‘Oven Ready Deal’ is still in the Deep Freeze

When even Theresa May, whose time as Prime Minister caused so much damage to our Country, grimaces and shows disbelief in the words of Michael Gove in the Commons Chamber only the most half-witted people can believe the Brexit lies.

I found out at a meeting of the Mersey Port Health Authority last week that the Port  will face major problems from 1st January After questioning from me, the Chief Port Health Officer, Mercola Douglas revealed two main problems:

Firstly, there is no clarity about regulations concerning imports from Northern Ireland and Eire with only 10 weeks ago until the UK leaves the EU. This uncertainty is also being felt by Immigrations and Customs Officers.

Secondly, there will be a huge problem in gearing up from approximately 1,900 statutory cargo inspections a year to the 21,000 that will be required after Brexit. The Port Authority is currently losing staff to Public Health England and other port authorities who will have to undertake inspections for the first time. Even if they could get the staff there is no money to pay for the staff required.

This could mean that some ships will be unable to unload their cargoes here which might cause a permanent change in which port they choose to use. Alternatively, it would mean that cargoes of food will enter the UK food chain without being checked. DEFRA are aware of the problems but have so far refused to commit the extra cash needed.

This farcical situation shows that after being promised an ‘Oven Ready deal and frictionless borders’ last year Brexit will cause major problems to trade for hauliers and shippers. Thousands of extra staff will be needed in both public and private sectors. All this will slow down trade which adds to expense even before the extra cost of staff is considered.

I am pleased that the Authority supported my suggestion to write to the Mayors of the Region and City asking for help in dealing with the Government to resolve these issues which should have been resolved well before the 11th hour and 59th minute of this long and inept saga”.

These two problems really do show how the Leave campaign and then the Johnson Government comprehensively lied to the people of the United Kingdom.

During the referendum I continually warned that there would be a new hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the North. I was told variously that I was stupid, a liar or didn’t know what I was talking about. Now my words have been shown to be true with the Irish Border a major sticking point in the ‘discussions’ between the EU and the UK. Of course, there was going to be a hard border. After all that was the British Governments, of all political persuasions had demanded during 45 years of members. A free flow of trade with the EU for tariffs and conditions but a powerful EU which safeguarded food standards and other safety and health and prevented dumping of goods.

It was also clear that trade could not be frictionless unless the Government agreed to a range of conditions. Many of those conditions were met in the Withdrawal Agreement which now the Government that negotiated it and the MPs that voted for it are saying is not fit for purpose.

The Government has estimated that 50,000 staff will need to be employed to carry out the customs and other checks required. That costs money that will need to added to consumer bills. Delays cost money with stock in vehicles that are standing in the new lorry parks the Government is building in Kent and other Sothern Counties. That also costs money that will need to be added to consumer bills.

Tesco has already warned of a shortage of fresh food after 1st January. Welsh and Lake District sheep farmers face a 35% tariff on exports to the EU and a range of other Countries. This is not the EUs fault. They are now defending the Withdrawal agreement signed only 12 months ago between the EU and UK.

All this is happening when Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on our economy especially in the North of England. Jobs are going everywhere because of this with high paid jobs in the City of London moving to the Continent and well-paid manufacturing jobs in the North doing likewise.

A Government thinking of the nation would not be pressing the green light for Brexit now. It would be thinking of working with others to weather the storm and work out a sensible way forward to protect our health and our jobs. This is not a Government that cares about the Nation. Reliable sources in our financial capital have made clear that companies that have funded the Tories, stand to make £6.5 billion from Brexit. Frankly folks it’s payback time.

When even the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, cannot conceal her contempt for Michael Gove in the House of Commons surely everyone must now understand that this deal is a bad one and that the Government hold everyone outside a small coterie in contempt.

Yes, we will leave the EU on 31st December bad deal or not. For me it just hastens the time when Lib Dems can join the fight to get as back in as we did in the 60s to get in to the EEC. When the full mess of Brexit finally sinks in to the soft heads of the Right only the real fascists and racists will be left convinced that they can still sing, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ as our Country sinks quietly down the toilet!

Be under no illusion. Johnson’s “Oven Ready Deal” is still stuck fast in the freezer in the cellar.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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1 Response to Mersey Port Health Problems Show Johnson’s ‘Oven Ready Deal’ is still in the Deep Freeze

  1. Nigel Hunter says:

    Who are these workers being poached from the Port Authority to go to PHE? A port and health scenario strike me as totally different things.Are the port authorities loosing computer wizz kids?What will the consequences of this loss be?

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