Jeff Wilton-Love is our county councillor candidate for Bideford West and Hartland, in the upcoming May 2021 local elections. In another of our occasional series of ‘opinion’ columns, he gives a contented Brexiteer’s take on leaving the EU and the undeserved negative coverage by the losing side.
By Jeff Wilton-Love
Brexit was done. A deal was struck. It took Canada 7 years to negotiate a deal, the government managed it in 4. Boris managed to get it done in 12 months, during a pandemic with every attempt at sabotage by the metropolitan elite possible. The media attacked it, they attacked the cabinet, they spread doom, they told outright lies. The opposition played the worst games imaginable; they used every dirty trick available to derail what the majority of people who voted wanted and the government still managed to do what was asked of them. During a pandemic!
I must wonder, instead of trying to appease the elitist Europhiles and spitting in the face of democracy, if our parliament had supported the government how different the UK-EU Trade Deal negotiations would have been. But they did not. The opposition took an anti-democratic stance and fought with everything they were to ensure the worst outcome for this country. If they could not get their way, then they were going to make sure they took away the negotiating ability. If, for example, instead of taking ‘No Deal’ legally off the table imagine how strong our position would have been had that not happened.
Questions should be asked. Who was really behind the Miller litigation? Surely someone who dropped out of law school in 1970s when EU law did not exist anyway, a Brazilian hairdresser and a plumbing boss did not spend their evenings and weekends engrossed in constitutional law. George Soros made no secret in funding it but was it the EU? Roland Rudd, Peter Mandleson perhaps? It is something I would be very interested in.
The country was almost fooled, they were fooled by an anti-British sentiment. By an agenda-fuelled smear campaign with little more than a self-serving intent on handing power to an unelected elite in Brussels hoping that they could climb The Club’s ladder themselves and become that little bit more important. They remind me of Tony Blair, star-struck and a useful idiot. They get sucked into the EU machine, believing it grants them great power, but in reality, they are just used. Blair's promise for the Eastern bloc countries being net contributors in a few years still has not come true 15 years later. Broken promises litter the decades, and we made the right decision to leave and in the nick of time.
Just remember we could now be facing an illegal debt union and sharing €1.9 trillion and rising of an EU bailout. So much for remain and reform! I believe Germany will sacrifice maybe 10% of its GDP to gain that bit more control over the other member states. Each Euro crisis is a power grab. A lot of people seem to be stuck in 2016 and fail to acknowledge this direction of travel despite the overwhelming evidence for it. All the billions pumped into the newer member states whilst the wealthier countries decline because the economic stresses have proved too much. The best anyone can hope for is to be a chosen metro: a city or two singled out for funding and raised high as a shining beacon of success, whilst the rest of the country is hidden behind a curtain of decline.
It is bad enough here in the UK, but the high youth unemployment and tumbleweed towns on the continent tell a story of a project that has not succeeded in its objectives because there is not enough wealth to distribute.
The regulatory framework may well make trade easier for some, but it also cripples innovation due to the red tape and associated costs. Even the keenest of Europhiles, Guy Verhofstadt, acknowledges this. EU process favours the large corporate entities that the Commission represent.
The much-applauded freedom of movement is not freedom if people are compelled through economic necessity to up sticks and emigrate in search of work. It's no longer freedom but a citizens of nowhere charter, ripe for exploitation.
For what it is worth, I think there was a sweet spot with our EU membership many years ago. A time when it felt exciting, creative and free. But increasingly it morphed into something else and no longer pretends with any conviction to be a democratic entity for everyone. We saw this with the horse-trading between the EU and Poland/Hungary. Everything has a price in €. We saw it again over the Free Trade Agreement and into the New Year with the recovery funding.
That sweet spot was pre-Maastricht and then Lisbon Treaty when the Trading Bloc morphed, without a democratic vote, into something completely different.
The deal itself, I have looked over it and discussed it with a few lawyers. My overriding feeling is that it is pretty much exactly as expected in many parts and largely a balanced deal.
The main thing it provides for is zero tariff zero quota. This is important but only a small part of the changes and costs businesses face as a result of the UK leaving the EU. This is largely because it became a pretty defensive negotiation it seems.
Both sides became focused on defending their key interests rather than on their offensive asks. The UK around limiting the obligations to which it signs up, the EU by ensuring integrity of the single market. I think both have largely achieved their defensive aims.
Both sides have made compromises to get the deal done, as you would expect. But it does not feel to me as if there are particular parts where either side feels very uncomfortable with the agreement it has struck (which hasn't always been true in the Brexit negotiations).
I do not agree with those who suggest the UK caved in a large number of areas to the EU. Take the level playing field. Yes, it is more than the UK originally wanted but it is also much less than the EU wanted, even until recently. It was a compromise which is how a negotiation works and the EU compromised more than the UK.
Ultimately, level playing field and governance provisions look pretty balanced to me, if incredibly complicated. I think the mechanisms established are fair. The biggest question is whether they can work in practice or if the process is too complex and risks descending to tit for tat.
Without getting into every aspect of it, given the hand the government were forced to play with I believe they have produced an incredible deal. It could have been better but ask yourself where the blame for that lies because every attempt was made to derail the negotiations. Every dirty trick was used by Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats and, if this deal is not what you wanted then you have to parry the blame to the people who spent 4 years doing everything they could to ruin it to their own ends. Remember, they did not succeed, and the government got what was asked done, against the odds, during a pandemic. This is what I want from a government and my opinion is they have done incredibly to get us to this point. I would not want anyone else leading us.
A year since leaving has passed and the predicted doom has not occurred. Even the major tailbacks on day one did not happen, and when the French put a stop to lorries crossing the channel, because of Covid, our team cleared the backlog within days. Sure, there are glitches for some businesses, some who fail to prepare early enough and others who experience problems through no fault of their own. We were always going to have teething problems. My bet is these will be sorted out in the next couple of months. And all of this during a pandemic.
A pandemic that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel for due to our support for vaccine development and excellent procurement skills. I thought it was a gamble in the beginning when I saw the money the UK poured in. But I am not a scientist and our government have some of the best scientific experts in the world advising them. People are still saying we would have done all this whilst still being in the EU, flying in the face of the fact that all 27 EU member states were pressured into joining the EU vaccine procurement scheme. Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy, a group known as the Inclusive Vaccine Alliance had already reached a preliminary agreement with AstraZeneca when the European Commission insisted it should take over the contract negotiations on behalf of the whole EU and look what they did through incompetence.
The U.K. has now donated £500 million to help poorer counties get the vaccine via the international Covax fund. £100 million more than all the 27 countries of the EU combined.
Surely, even the most sceptic must admit, this is not the backwards-looking xenophobic future the left promised. The UK wants to give hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong BNO passport holders a path to citizenship, provide a very affordable vaccine to the world at cost, host a major climate change summit and strike global trading relationships. Applying to be the first new country to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership demonstrates our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade.
I leave you with the greatest speech in memory
Congratulations to Sir Geoffrey Cox MP on a well-deserved Knighthood.
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