THE UK has been an independent nation for three years this January. The media are forever saying Brexit was no success story. Really?
Have we really forgotten the roll out of the Covid vaccine ahead of the lumbering EU? What about the new flexibility to create freeports, with all the competitive advantages they offer for British businesses to boost trade and create new jobs? We have avoided 7,391 new EU laws and will be sunsetting the EU legislation entrenched in our legal system – we can now choose where to align and where to diverge. We were ahead of the game on environmental legislation and employment rights before we joined the EU; We can and will do so much better setting our own standards.
There is a global market out there to be taken advantage of.
We now have new trade deals with Australia, New Zealand and others which we did not have as a member of the EU. We are currently negotiating accession to the CPTPP Trans Pacific Partnership which would give us access to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. The opportunity for trade with countries outside of Europe was always greater than the opportunities within Europe. Clearly set against this is the cost of imports from Europe.
As our closest neighbour and as a member of ‘the club’, that was where most imports came from. These are now subject to a new trade deal with Europe. The Northern Ireland protocol isn’t working, but there is hope in sight of a break through.
We also wanted to free up our industries strangled by EU laws to be more competitive. The so called ‘Edinburgh reforms’ in the financial services sector will free up £100bn for investment.
We will do this by changing restrictive solvency rules (Solvency II) which, while well intentioned when they were introduced after the financial crisis, have been shown to be unnecessary. Of course it’s important to protect investors, but so many new checks and balances have been introduced to prevent excessive risk taking – this one size fits all sledgehammer just isn’t needed. Given the importance of the financial services sector to the UK this really matters.
And for farmers, we are seeing the evolution of a new agriculture support scheme. The Common Agriculture Policy across Europe was complex and did not flex to meet the needs of our small British holdings. The new scheme introduced in 2020 will include a new sustainable farming incentive scheme, a local nature recovery scheme and landscape recovery which will focus on habitat restoration. The full details are awaited. As a scheme firmly under our control, we can amend this further going forward. I hope we will incentivise food production, which will give us greater security in these challenging times.
We have left the Common Fisheries Policy and as a result have increased the amount of catch available to UK fishermen. The quota EU fishermen can catch will reduce in tranches over the next few years meaning that by 2025 the EU will have their share reduced by 25%. North Sea UK catch levels for cod will go up by 63% this year with increases for several other species. We have also stopped EU vessels carrying out electric pulse fishing in UK waters. We are also proposing by-laws to ban bottom trawling in marine protected areas. More will follow.
So while we would all like to have seen even more, let’s be proud of what we have achieved – and all that despite Covid and the Ukraine driven energy troubles. Too many blame Brexit not these world events for our current woes. Think again. And remember we no longer pay £17bn to the EU annually - and we will be making no contribution to the EU’s current recovery plan running into what would have been a contribution of £10s of billions from the UK!
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