Of all the myths that were promoted during the referendum and which are still being propagated today is the one about the sovereign nation and our need to become one. There is no such thing as a sovereign nation. We are too interdependent to become independent. An examination of the bones of the Johnson deal shows how much the EU, in common with other nations, will dictate what happens in this Country.
I say dictate for a reason. Up until the end of January we were part of the law-making process. We made laws as part of a group of 28 nations that were applicable both to us and to all the rest. They also applied to our relationships in trade and commerce terms with other Countries. Now the EU Council and Parliament will make laws and we will follow them. If we want to sell things to them:
- Our standards for safety, environment, and other standards must match what they decide or we cannot sell them in to the EU.
- We must also follow labour and environmental and sate aid laws so that we cannot produce goods in a way that undercuts EU legislation. If we stray from this there will be a joint and independent committee which can arbitrate and punish the UK for so doing.
These are just some of the ways that we have lost but there are many others:
Frictionless trades. Although almost all the tariffs have been avoided, albeit not totally avoided, there will still be a huge bureaucracy to ensure EU rules are enforced. This will cost our exporters £7 billion a year and will lead to increased costs and will reduce our competitive ability in global markets.
Freedom of Movement. Gone! There will be increasing restrictions on our ability to work, study and live in continental Europe. Many of those who have bought homes in places like Spain will have to sell them as they can only spend 90 days in them at a time and then not go back for another 90. If you want to study you will need a visa to do so. If you want to move around because you are an employee of a global company there will be tighter rules for you which will make you less attractive as an employee.
Erasmus. The Erasmus programme which enabled students to study and then do research in Universities throughout Europe is now closed for our young people with all the learning and employment opportunities that it brought will be denied to them.
Trade deals. Every deal that the Government has announced is worth less than the one we have had through the EU. We will not benefit from any further deals that they can use their big market to negotiate with. Major partners from the USA to Australia and Canada have made it clear that their big partnership priority will be the EU with us being a bit player and a secondary consideration.
TV services. A hugely profitable industry for the UK and in which now UK based companies will be unable to send their programmes across Europe unless they move to an EU Country.
The deal only covers trade in products which is 20% of our trade with the EU. The EU makes a profit on this trade. Our service industries which account for 80% of our trade and on which we make a profit from the EU has hardly got a mention. Already large numbers of jobs have been lost to financial sectors in France and Germany and science and research jobs are also on the move as well. No wonder the EU are pleased with the deal.
Fighting Crime. We are now only an associate of Europol or Eurojust. Information will not flow to us in the way that it did to deal with criminals in this Country. We will no longer be able to issue European Arrest warrants which will make life safer for those that live on the Costa del Crime!
So, all in all we have become a smaller, less influential and less competitive nation as a result of this deal. Yes, it is better than No deal but let’s not pretend that it is a good deal for our future. Treasury reports that it will cost at least 2% of our GDP but many of us strongly suspect that it will be worse as the best and brightest leave our Country because their employment and life opportunities will be better in continental Europe.
I don’t know how the Lib Dems will vote on this deal but I will be extremely disappointed if they vote for it as Labour intend to. This mess has been created by the Tories with a hapless Corbyn led Labour Party as their willing hand maid. They must own this deal which will create far more problems which will emerge through times and as we can examine the fine print in the 2,000 page document. We must use every fault within the deal to expose it for what it is, a degradation of the UK’s standing in the World.
I hope that the Lib Dems will abstain on this deal. Then we as a Party should take the lead in making absolutely clear that a return to the EU will be a clear and consistent policy. The Tories have made the UK a vassal state of Europe. The Lib Dems must lead the charge for recreating the partnership which is in the EUs best interest as well as ours.