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Do we want to be a part of Europe or apart?

Because of Brexit, Britain is rapidly propelling away from Europe, involving the loss of free trade, and free movement of people, with our neighbouring countries. Is that really what Britain wants?

The UK government seems determined to close all possibilities of a successful new relationship with our closest countries on our continent.

Instead, we’re moving away from Europe and getting closer to the USA.

The talks between the UK and EU have so far ended in stalemate – and the prospects of us ending up with a no-deal Brexit now look both plausible and probable.

Does the UK government really believe that they can achieve a satisfactory trade agreement with Trump’s USA to replace our relationship with Europe?

Almost half (around 45%) of ALL UK exports go to EU countries.

By contrast, only around 20% of our exports go to the USA – yes, that’s a lot, but nowhere near the volume of trade we do with the EU.

The irony is that in the EU we could have both – it never needed to be either/or. The EU never stopped us trading with the USA or other countries across the world.

▪ LOSS OF FREE TRADE

We didn’t need to leave the EU to have good trade with the USA, or anywhere else.

In fact, leaving the EU means we lose excellent free trade deals covering over 70 countries, successfully negotiated by the EU for its members, with many more on the way.

In addition, according a Financial Times investigation, the EU has secured 759 separate EU international agreements of direct relevance to Britain. These cover trade, regulatory co-operation, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear co-operation and transport co-operation (including aviation) involving 168 countries.

The EU successfully negotiated these international agreements with other countries because it’s is the world’s largest trading bloc and the world’s largest economy, alongside the USA and China.

Furthermore, the EU is the top trading partner for 80 countries. (By comparison the US is the top trading partner for a little over 20 countries.)

So, the EU has the muscle, the reach and the negotiating skills to secure the best deals for its members. Isn’t that just one of the many membership benefits?

If, as now seems likely, we end the transition period with the EU without any ongoing deal, all those trade and international agreements must be torn up, and Britain will have to negotiate them all over again.

It will take many years, without any guarantee that we’ll get new agreements as good as, let alone better than, the agreements we’ve enjoyed as an EU member for decades.

In the EU, we had an equal, democratic say in all trade deals achieved by the EU, and a veto for trade deals directly affecting Britain.

Are we likely to have an equal say and veto with any new free trade agreement with the USA?

As a much smaller economy, we’ll be the junior partner. The UK will be a rule taker, and not a rule maker, in any new deal with the USA.

In any event, if Trump wins the next USA election, he’s already shown that he doesn’t like ‘free trade’ agreements.

It was Trump who halted the free trade agreement, TTIP, between the USA and the EU – that was close to being signed-off before he became President.

The USA cannot replace Europe as our closest and most important trading partner.

And yet, a hard Brexit means we lose free AND frictionless trade with our most valuable customers and suppliers across the EU – by far the MOST lucrative market for Britain in the entire world.

We know for sure that Brexit means we lose frictionless trade with Europe – upon which so many UK businesses, especially our car manufacturers, vitally depend.

But if as now anticipated, we leave the EU Single Market at the end of the transition period this year without any new trade deal between us, we’ll also lose free trade with Europe, with devastating consequences for the UK.

Is that really what you want? Did you ever specifically vote for THAT?

▪ LOSS OF FREE MOVEMENT

For decades, Britain has enjoyed free movement of people – both ways – with the EU. But now, the UK government has introduced a new bill to kill it.

Just as the UK is drifting away from Europe – at least politically, at least economically – our government wants to move away from the people of Europe too.

On Monday 18 May, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill passed its initial stages in the House of Commons by 351 votes to 252.

With the Tory government enjoying a sizeable majority of 80 seats, the bill will almost certainly soon receive Royal Assent.

When it becomes law, it will end EU freedom of movement and introduce new rules, yet to be fully specified, on who can come to Britain in future.

Migration to the UK will be on a complicated points system, and anyone earning less than £25,600 a year will be automatically categorised by the government as ‘unskilled’ and therefore unwelcome.

Nor will migrants be welcome who haven’t already got a job lined up before they arrive.

The new rules would have excluded practically ALL EU citizens who are already here as care workers, refuse collectors, NHS ancillary staff, delivery drivers, transport staff and local government workers – to name but a few.

They arrived on easy-to-understand EU free movement rules and, as key workers, are essential to keeping the country going during the pandemic lockdown. (Some have lost their lives doing so).

Free movement has worked for Britain and for Europe. It’s meant that citizens of our continent can easily move between neighbouring countries, filling job vacancies as needed, here or there.

Free movement has allowed Britons to live, work, study or retire anywhere in the EU, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Millions of Britons have made use of these freedoms over the decades.

And under EU free movement, British pensioners have had the right to move to sunnier climes in Europe, and enjoy their FULL UK state pension, and access to FREE STATE HEALTHCARE in their new country, paid for by the NHS.

Free movement was never broken, and it didn’t need fixing.

▪ Under the rules, EU citizens couldn’t just arrive in another EU country and claim benefits – they had to have sufficient funds to travel and to stay.

▪ Under the rules, EU citizens could be rejected or ejected if they were considered to pose certain risks to the country.

▪ Under the rules, EU citizens could enjoy the right to stay in another EU country for up to three months only, so long as they didn’t become a burden to the state.

▪ Under the rules, EU citizens could only legally stay longer in another EU country if they were jobseekers; workers; self-employed; students; self-sufficient; permanent residents (i.e. legally here for more than five years); or family members of one of the above.

What a brilliant system, that has served our country well – either for citizens coming here, or our citizens going there.

Now to be killed off, because the government interpreted the referendum Brexit vote as meaning the end of ‘free movement’.

Even though, just as for non-EU countries Norway and Switzerland, we could have kept free movement without having to be an EU member.

And even though, the country was never specifically asked if we wanted to end free movement with our continent.

The government just assumed we did.

▪ But polls show that most Britons would rather retain our freedom of movement with Europe.

▪ Just as polls show that most Britons would rather have a close trading relationship with the EU than the US.

 

  • Watch this 2-minute video that outlines what we lose with the end of free movement.

 

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