Michael Gove’s statement in the Sunday Times (28th July) that a no-deal Brexit is now assumed to be a very real prospect is bad news however strong the desire for closure. Prime Minister Johnson is determined to take us out of the EU in 94 days, “do or die”, and has ordered Gove to chair no-deal meetings seven days a week until Brexit is delivered. He is also refusing to visit Brussels or any Euro leaders (Daily Mail 29.7.19). Those leaders are responding that the deal they have already agreed with Theresa May is the only one they are offering.
The CBI says no-deal is not a good deal for business. The 44% of our exports that currently go to the EU will be more expensive once tariffs are added to their prices. A major component of those exports are financial and legal services and they earn us a trade surplus with the EU but that will be lost, whilst many companies in this sector already have or may still relocate to EU countries. 800,000 people are employed in manufacturing cars but Nissan has cancelled plans to manufacture a new model in Britain whilst Jaguar Rover and Ford are planning job cuts. The CBI anticipate between 31,000 and 35,000 jobs are at risk from a no-deal Brexit.
Tariffs on food imports from the EU will make them more expensive unless the Government chooses to not impose tariffs. We currently import three million tons of foodstuffs annually. The dairy industry in Northern Ireland will be badly hit. They currently export £154 million’s worth to the Republic and tariffs will make them more expensive. It remains to be seen whether the Irish will pay the higher prices post Brexit.
A no-deal Brexit is bad news from a security perspective. UK involvement in Europol and ECRIS and the European Arrest Warrant were deemed vital by Theresa May for dealing with European terrorist fighters returning from fighting in Syria and for catching British criminals who have gone to EU countries to evade arrest and trial in the UK. The European Arrest Warrant is valid in every EU member state and none of them can refuse to hand over any of its citizens who have committed a crime in another member state. The European Criminal Records Information Service (ECRIS) is an important tool for our police. If they detect fingerprints, blood stains or other bodily fluids at a crime scene for which there is no UK record they can check with ECRIS records. They did this 539 million times last year.
A no-deal Brexit is not a good deal so far as our MPs are concerned. There has been a majority in Parliament for little else but they have twice voted to reject a no-deal Brexit. All the opposition parties are united on this and are supported by a significant minority of Conservative MPs. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer until last week, resigned because he would not support Johnson’s position on no-deal. He will be joined in opposing it by Greg Clark, the former Business Secretary, David Gauke, Rory Stewart, Ken Clark and up to 30 other One Nation Conservatives. There is no majority in Parliament for a no-deal Brexit and it remains to be seen how the new Government will overcome this opposition.
These are facts, not my opinions. Whatever we think about Brexit and about our Government and political leaders, they all need wisdom to do what is best for the nation. We do not all agree what that is but we can pray to the One who is the fount of wisdom, that his will be done.