The people of the UK need to assume full responsibility for the decision they took four years ago as soon as possible. That is why I, an arch Remainer, fully support the government’s decision not to seek an extension to the EU transition period.
Being subject to EU rules and levies without a seat at the table is intolerable. We are either all in for an ever closer union or we are out.
A case has been put that because of Covid-19, we should avoid inflicting further damage to the UK economy. I would argue that it is better to roll up the effects of the double whammy into one stramash, so that business avoids starting to recover from the lockdown only to be hit by the effects of leaving the EU later.
That may seem brutal to those who would argue that spreading the blow to business would be better. I would say that we all must live with the decision we took in 2016 be that bosses in the boardroom or Brexiteers on the streets.
Anyway, Leavers would have us believe there may be no ill effects from leaving the EU. Global Britain awaited. Non-EU countries around the world would be ready with trade deals soon after we left on Jan 31st. Although many Leavers hanker after the old imperial relationships with Australia and New Zealand, even they must recognise that trade with them will be tiny compared with our former EU partners. However, Boris and Michael Gove had the big boys in mind, China, and the USA.
So how are things going with China? Covid19 has started a massive rethink on globalisation. Moves are afoot to end our reliance on companies thousands of miles away for vital goods, be they medicines or steel. But there’s always our links with China’s hi-tech industries, except that Boris Johnson is under intense pressure from his backbenchers over his 5G with Huawei.
Meanwhile our trade talks with the USA seem to have gone distinctly sour. Trade Secretary Liz Truss said this week that the Americans talk a good game but unfairly keep UK products out of their markets. She cited a US ban on lamb and 25% levy on steel and cars. The Americans also seem to be far more focused on settling old scores over a spat with Airbus which could yet see new 25% tariffs on whiskey and cashmere.
The Daily Mail, which led the Leave charge is now mounting a vociferous campaign to protect our farmers from cheap, hormone treated American food. You couldn’t make it up.
So where will we be on Dec 31st when we finally sever our ties with the EU? I’m pretty certain there will be a deal. It will only be settled after we have passed several final deadlines. By the way it always astonishes me that however important the talks, the summer holidays are always sacrosanct. Both parties have already wasted five months in posturing, so why can’t they work all summer long to sort it out?
The virus recession will make it almost impossible to identify the extra damage that will be inflicted on the UK economy by our leaving the EU. We face difficult years ahead without the solidarity of the EU, dependent on a volatile global economy.
It is to be hoped that the EU’s recovery plan will show the 27 the need for political as well as economic union, and that one day we will be able to take our place in such an institution.