Apologies for not writing a “Letter for Bassetlaw” in the last few weeks but I have been away on a family holiday in Israel and when I got back, I had picked up a bug that left me with just about enough energy to work but little else.
However, I am back and feeling better so I will try to get back into the habit of writing weekly again.
Well, it has been such an interesting summer, nationally, internationally and locally, I hardly know where to start. However, one story and its consequences has dominated the news, the EU Referendum result, so it is right I use this “Letter” to discuss what has & is happening.
While I was in Israel, I was able to speak with family members & friends who live in Israel. Without exception, every one, whether they have a British background or not, said to me that they could not understand why the UK voted to leave the EU. It was simply incomprehensible for them that we would even contemplate make such a move that can only end as a disaster.
It was interesting (and not very nice for my bank balance) to notice that just how much & how quickly the pound was falling against other currencies. In the two weeks we were in Israel, the exchange rate for the Pound against the New Israeli Shekel fell 2% (from 5.01 to 4.91, although it has recovered slightly since then[i]), indeed since June 23rd, the £/NIS exchange rate has fallen by over 10%. This fall as been replicated across all currencies, including the major ones in which most of our trade is done, making not just holidays abroad more expensive but also all the goods we import into the UK, much of our food, electronic goods, raw materials for manufacturing, etc.
Other economic news since June 23rd has also been bad with companies delaying investment decisions, indeed quite a few smaller firms have already gone under because the orders they rely from elsewhere in the EU have dried up.
All this is happening even before the UK Government has formally launched the exit procedure. While we are waiting for this to happen and formal negotiations over Brexit start, the new May Government seems to be at odds over what Brexit will mean and with those she has appointed to oversee the process already at each other’s throats[ii]. All they while, possible directions for the UK post-Brexit are falling apart as international partners reject them[iii]. Because of all the uncertainty, we keep hearing that the formal triggering of the Brexit process will be delayed, till the New Year, till after the French & German elections in 2017, till 2018, till who know when.
The longer the UK is in this limbo of having voted for Brexit but our Government not being willing to formally trigger it, businesses will continue to be unable to make long term decisions, the UK economy will continue to tip towards recession and we, the British public, will suffer as jobs are lost and the Pound continues it fall.
The time has come for some brave decisions to be made, to recognise the harm that the prospect of Brexit is already doing & the damage that Brexit will cause to the UK and to say that, in spite of what Gove, Farage, Johnson and the rest of the leave campaign claimed, there are no good options for the UK outside of the EU. This will almost certainly mean we need a new vote, a second referendum or a General Election, to give a new Government the mandate to walk away from Brexit (although as the June Referendum was not binding on the UK Government, the result could simply be ignored) and admit that the British public was conned by a bunch of charlatan, opportunistic politicians many of whom only campaigned for Leave because they thought it would enhance their political careers.
In the weeks to come I will look at other issues, the continuing fight to oppose Fracking here in Bassetlaw & elsewhere & the shenanigans of our MP trying to use the shortage of doctors (caused in no small part by decisions made by Labour before 2010) to shroud wave about the NHS in Bassetlaw amongst them and I am sure that Brexit will also come up again.
[ii] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/13/liam-fox-and-boris-johnson-locked-in-feud-over-who-controls-brit/ and http://www.grayling.com/gb/insight/fox_and_johnson_take_note_david_davis_hire_of_a_prominent_remainer_is_a_smart_move