EU Citizens resident in the UK are not Bargining Chips

On June 25th, just a year and a day after the Referendum result, my wife, a Dutch Citizen who has lived in the UK for most of her adult life, will be part of the Great Britain team competing In the European Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships being held in Dusseldorf.

Yannie is honoured to have been selected to represent the country that has been her home for nearly 30 years and is looking forward to taking part.  Given that she only took part in her first Triathlon 2 years ago, this is a fantastic achievement.

However, I remember the shock and tears that were shed on the morning of June 24th last year; the uncertainty it has caused both Yannie and myself to realise that currently there is no guarantee that she will be allowed to stay in the UK post Brexit.

No amount of saying we will be OK makes us feel safer.

Telling us (as our local, Labour Leave MP, has) that no one is suggesting that Yannie and other EU citizens who have lived in the UK for decades will be told to leave does not help.

Until it is confirmed by the UK Government that EU citizens who have made their lives here can stay with no need to apply for naturalisation (at a cost of over £1250 minimum) or applications for permanent residency (which involve long complicated forms and documentation up to 20 years old), my wife will not feel secure.

Mrs May needs to be open & tolerant and make a gesture that will mean the negotiations with the rest of the EU can start in a spirit of generosity and openness, announce that all EU citizens who are resident in the UK on the day Article 50 will automatically have the full rights to stay in the UK just as they have had before.

My wife, along with the many other EU citizens who live here, contribute here, raise families here, is not a bargaining chip and should not be treated as such.

In a mild winter, our NHS is barely coping

We have had a mild winter so far, very few days of frost in the morning for most of us, no flu or norovirus epidemics, not even too much flooding.
In spite of this the NHS is at bursting point, Hospitals over full, essential budgets over spent and a crisis in Social Care (see Winter pressure ‘busts NHS budget’).
Just imagine what would have happened if we had had a couple of weeks of really bad weather (as is quite common most winters) or a serious outbreak of one of the common winter bugs. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about.
This year we got lucky. Because of the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the people who work in the NHS at all levels, we seem to have muddled through, just.
Next winter or the year after we may not be so lucky and an NHS running at overcapacity & underfunded will not be able to cope despite the efforts of the people who work in it.
It will be too late next winter to start throwing money at a problem that is already turning into a disaster. The NHS & Social Care need better funding now so that they can prepare for the bad winters & epidemics that will be coming before very long.
Send Hunt, Hammond & May a message today that we need to increase Central Government funding in these areas even if it means increasing Income tax or Corporation tax to pay for it.

I do not hold British voters in contempt

Because I unrepentant in fighting for the UK to remain in the EU, some people think I, and other like me who will not give up that fight, hold those who voted Leave last June in contempt.

This is not true, I do not hold them in contempt.

No, the people I hold in contempt are for those who have deceived, misinformed and downright lied to the British Public about the EU over the last 30 or more years in an attempt to wrest the UK out of the EU, not to give control back to the British people but to stop the EU undermining a privileged elite who feel they have the right to control us.   All the Euromyths that have been perpetuate in newspapers like The Mail, The Express, The Telegraph and in all the Murdoch papers have been spread not to educate the British public but to deceive them.

Others I hold contemptable are those politicians who came late to the Leave campaign because they thought it was politically expedient to appear to be a Brexiteer (while hoping we would stay in the EU); other politicians who were for staying in the EU up until June 23rd but now say we must Leave at all costs because it as “the will of the people” regardless of the harm they know it will do those very people.

Yes, there were some who have deep, honest & long-standing view that the UK will be better off out of the EU.  I may not agree with them but I can respect their views.  I can even debate with them (sadly not on facts as there are no objective facts that support a case for leaving the EU) about whether sharing UK sovereignty with the other EU member nations is a good idea or not.

However, such people were not the leaders of the Leave campaigns, many of who were opportunistic carpetbaggers trying to forward their own career & interests while hoping secretly for a Remain vote.

So it is not the British voters I hold in contempt but those who have wilfully and selfishly deceived them and lied to them that the UK will be better off out of the EU.

Save the NHS, reject Brexit

nhsTheresa May is leading us towards a Brexit that will mean we are exchanging the shared sovereignty of the EU, where we are equal partners in shaping the future of our continent, for being a protectorate of the USA, so dependant that we are will to destroy our institutions like the NHS for a few crumbs from the great table.

Outside the Single Market (a British initiative under Thatcher) & the Customs Union, we will be at the mercy of a rampant nationalist America under a President (at least until 2021) who is open about only signing Trade Deals that are skewered in the USA’s direction.

Already May has indicated her willingness to allow US Companies to take over parts of the NHS, what else will she allow in her desperate attempt to get a fig leaf of a Trade Deal?

Meat from animals grown using growth hormones, Chicken washed in chlorine, GM crops are all currently banned for the UK under EU rules but are common in the US.  It is likely that any Trade Deal with the US will mean having to accept them into the UK.

Given that our Trade Balance with the USA is currently in our favour, I can’t see Trump wanting to let to many more UK goods or services in to the USA without the USA getting even better access to UK markets, which will mean weakening our regulations that currently exclude many American products,

When I, along with many others, warn that this was the likely outcome of Brexit, it was labelled “Project Fear” by the Leave campaign and we were told it would never happen.  Now it is becoming all too real if Brexit becomes a reality and yes, it is frightening.

What can we do now?  The Government’s mean little Bill to give May the authority to invoke Article 50 without any further need for Parliamentary scrutiny is up for debate next week.  Jeremy Corbyn has waved the White Flag and said he will demand all Labour MPs vote for it  but all is not yet lost.

You can write to your MP to ask him to vote against this Bill unless there are safeguards added to give at least Parliament (better still the British People) a chance to give its assent to any agreement with the EU on Brexit.  There is an excellent app to help you do this.

Regardless of how their Constituency vote and regardless of how they are told to vote by their party, Members [of Parliament] have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.  Brexit is rightly being dubbed Wrexit as it will be an economic and probably a social disaster for the UK so MPs must vote against it regardless of a “black and white vote on a rainbow of issues” last June.

May is leading us to economic suicide

10-theresa-may-gettyToday, Theresa May will announce that she has decided that the UK will commit economic suicide by not only leaving the EU (which is bad enough n it’s own right) but also say she will drag us out of the European Single Market and it’s Customs Union.

This will mean that all import of goods from the EU & our exports to it will not only be subject to tariffs & quotas but have to undergo customs inspections at EU borders (including when being transported in or out of the Irish Republic).

The consequences of this are that costs to industries that import raw materials from the EU will rise, our exports to the EU will become more expensive and therefore less competitive and the prices in shops on any goods brought in from the EU will go up.

Inevitably, this will lead to inflation in the UK at the same time as wages will be squeezed as companies try to mitigate cost rises elsewhere.

It also means that companies like Toyota, BAe, Bomdardier and many others who have multiple facilities across the EU will not be able to move parts in or out of the UK as easily as they can now with a knock-on effect on jobs here.

Sterling has already taken yet another dive in the Currency Markets because of leaks from May speech, adding to inflationary pressures here in the UK

What May is proposing is economic madness and only those who are ideologically blinkered over the EU will welcome it.  For most of us it will signal her intention to inflict a long, hard period of economic hardship on the British people.  We must stop her.

The choice facing our politicians is simple and stark.

single-marketIf we want to persist with leaving the EU, we can choose between keeping full, tariff-free, access to the EU Single Market or controlling the movement of EU citizens to work & study in the UK.

Any politician who tries to claim that we can have both is ether deluded or lying.

 

What does losing full access to the EU Single market mean?  For companies that trade with the Single Market (export or import) it will mean that they will have to pay tariffs on any goods brought in from or sent to the Single Market and that shipments to and from the Single Market will accompanied by Customs forms and permits as well as having to be inspected by Customs as they cross into the Single Market.

This will add costs and bureaucracy causing prices to rise.  Some companies will find that their markets in the EU will disappear as they become uncompetitive against rivals still based inside the Single Market, causing these companies to either shrink or cease trading entirely, meaning job losses to UK workers.  Even taking goods into the Single Market for personal use or for

At the same time, the costs of our imports from the EU, much of the food we eat & the raw materials used by manufacturers, causing price rises here in shops.

 

So, against this what do we have to gain from controlling the movement of EU citizens to work & study in the UK?

The simple answer is very little.

EU citizens working in the UK pay more in taxes than they take out through benefits or services.  Many important parts of our care system (including hospitals & care homes) will struggle to find the workers they need.  Our Universities need EU students & lecturers both to survive economically and, just as importantly, to proper academically.  The economic activity generated by EU citizens living in the UK creates work rather than taking jobs.

Many of the problems in society that get blamed on EU workers in the UK are really the fault of our own Governments.  Low wages are cause by exploitative employers using practices that have been allowed by British Governments.  Blocking EU workers won’t increase wages the exploiters will simply find another source of cheap Labour.  The crises in Housing, Education & the NHS are not caused by the “influx” of EU citizens to work & study here but by successive UK Governments over decades failing to invest in building homes, training Doctors & Nurses and creating new schools where they are needed.

Scapegoating EU workers and blocking their right to come here won’t cure these problems (indeed, the fall in economic activity & taxes caused by getting rid of them will actually make these problems worse), it is just a way of deflecting the blame from where it belongs.

 

Leaving the Single Market will be an unmitigated disaster to British Industry and it will take decades to recover from and build up alternative markets for British goods.  Controlling the movement of EU citizens to work & study in the UK will hurt not help in any attempt to rebuild after such a disaster.  Those that will suffer the most will be those in the very areas that have already suffered from Government neglect while the rich will get richer in a low tax, low wage, low rights economy.

Whether we are in the EU or not (and we should be in to increase our influence), having full tariff & customs free access to Single Market is vital for our future

It is time we had politicians brave enough to stand up for the truth, to base policy on evidence not prejudice, to lead not follow, to see beyond the hysteria whipped up rich people wanting to protect their riches.

Where are we now with Brexit?

brexitIt is now 6 months since that fateful day in June when the unimaginable happened & this country vote, by a small majority[i], to leave the UK, something even many in the Brexit camp did not think would happen[ii].

Here are some of what has become clear since then:

  • These who lead the Leave Campaign had (and still have) no real idea of how a post-Brexit UK will be able to function as a Trading Nation outside the EU, forced to use the WTO standard Tariffs regime.
  • We can’t start to negotiate any Trade Deal with the EU (or anyone else) until after we have left the EU[iii]
  • Just voting to start the process of leaving the EU has had a devastating effect on some businesses and on many University Research groups who rely on ERC grants[iv].
  • Many who voted Leave in June did so to give Cameroon & his Tory Government a bloody nose not expecting the Leave campaign to win[v]
  • Tariff-free access to the Single Market & the EU Customs Union (vital for many UK industries) will not happen without accepting the Freedom of Movement of Labour
  • The EU-27 do not need us more than we need them.
  • Theresa May, David Davies, Liam Fox & Boris Johnson (the people in charge of negotiating the agreement with the EU over the UK leaving the organisation) are completely clueless in what need to be agreed, how to come up with a sensible (realistic) negotiating position and why keeping on good terms with those we need to negotiate with is vital in achieving anything like a good outcome.
  • Many of our brightest & most dynamic young people are looking to make their life elsewhere as they do not see a future for them or their children in an impoverished (economically & culturally) post-Brexit Britain.

So where do we go from here?  Do we plough on with the process of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty regardless?  Do we simply ignore the reality of the situation and the effect on the UK economy that leaving the EU?  Or do we take the brave decision that, notwithstanding the Referendum result, we need stop this head long rush towards what will be economic suicide?

The New Year is always a good time to take stock of where we are and how to go forward, a time to look back at where we have been successful and where we have made mistakes during the last 12 months.

So now is a good time for our politicians to say that there is no realistic chance of a good deal on Brexit that will satisfy the needs of the British ecomomy and that we have to accept the Referendum was result was gained by a Leave campaign that was based on a false manifesto, one that simply cannot be made into reality.

So now we must either have a second Referendum or a General Election to reverse the June result, otherwise the future of this country does not look bright.

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016#Result

[ii] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nigel-farage-blames-britains-youth-8270754

[iii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-britain-fined-negotiate-trade-agreements-deals-before-leaving-european-union-commission-a7314816.html

[iv] https://fpoglobal.com/control/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Post-referendum-crisis-for-UK-researchers.pdf?ftcamp=crm/email//nbe/Brexit/product

[v] http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/16/number-of-people-who-regret-voting-leave-is-greater-than-brexit-victory-margin-6195403/