Dear Leicestershire MPs
Many thanks to the majority of local MPs who replied to our last open letter or individual constituents saying they supported a deal with the European Union, even though few wanted to extend the transition period.
In 2019 all Conservative MPs pledged to support the PM’s ‘oven-ready’ deal which was not just the Withdrawal Agreement but also the ‘Future Relationship’ Political Declaration. This document commits to a ‘level-playing field’ in order to access non-tariff and non-quota trade.
Anyone voting Conservative in 2019 was supporting a close relationship with the EU, just as the majority of Leave voters in 2016 were voting for ‘the exact same benefits’ and probably the ‘Norway option’ (EFTA) together with ‘the easiest trade deal in history’.
Now travellers are learning what leaving the EU means even with a deal – reduced passport validity; no reciprocal EU healthcare even for UK citizens who have retired to an EU country; visas required if staying in the EU for more than 90 days; pet passport delays; and increased data roaming charges. And, of course, it is much worse for businesses who now have greatly increased red tape added to their EU exporting and importing procedures.
Without a deal, businesses must cope with tariffs and quotas and an end to ‘just in time’ manufacturingin just 5 months from now. This will specifically impact upon small to medium exporters. UK businesses and farmers are also potentially faced with changes and costs arising from any new US trade deal including a lowering of agricultural food standards.
The European Movement believes that a deal based on the Future Relationship document is essential (barring joining EFTA or a further extension to our single market and customs union membership).
We hope you all agree and will hold the PM and his advisors to account on behalf of your Leicestershire and Rutland constituents.
PLEASE SUPPORT THE EXTENSION OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD
Whilst there is much concern about Covid-19 and the government’s handling of it, we also have serious concerns about how much worse our economic and political situation will be if the Future Relationship with the EU is not agreed with a good UK-EU deal.
You might think it’s inappropriate for us to write about Brexit during the current crisis but that is our point. It is inappropriate for our government to be spending so much time behind the scenes on Brexit rather than agreeing to an extension of the current Transition Period and focussing on the Covid-19 crisis. Polls show the majority of the public wants a delay.
Whatever your views on Brexit, Covid has fundamentally changed the situation and we need to adapt accordingly - let's take a realistic view about what is possible and when. Extending the timeframe for our departure would be met with a sigh of relief by businesses and farmers as well as EU27 citizens, many of whom are frontline NHS and care workers.
In December much of the electorate voted for an ‘oven-ready’ deal but they only got a Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration outlining the framework for the Future Relationship. Well done to the government for not immediately taking us off the ‘cliff-edge’ but that ‘cliff-edge’ is still a strong possibility at the end of the year for Great Britain (not Northern Ireland).
A ‘Canada deal’ is not on the table and the government’s so-called ‘Australian deal’ is just code for ‘no deal’ and could mean we try to depend on a US agreement demanding we accept lower food standards, poor animal welfare and further privatisation of our NHS. It could also lead to rising food prices, medicine shortages and even riots. A much more authoritarian government could arise.
So we strongly urge you to support our stance of extending the Transition Period.
The only other satisfactory option at this point in time would be to accept the EU’s proposed Association Agreement without further negotiations. It is based on the agreed Political Declaration.
If there is no extension and an agreement is not reached, we will crash out of the UK-EU relationship at the end of this year and our economy, our social arrangements and our very way of life will be dramatically affected.