By MARCUS STEAD
EARLIER today, I appeared on Radio Sputnik to discuss the latest developments with Brexit negotiations.
It’s now October and there are two fundamental truths that we should focus our minds on at the moment.
The first is that time is short. The Brexit negotiations are NOT something that can be taken right up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. Realistically, they are going to have to be concluded by the end of this month so that businesses and ports can prepare to implement whatever the reality will be from the start of January.
The second is that the entire business community can handle bad news a LOT better than it can handle uncertainty. If you’ve received bad news, you can act accordingly. If there’s a poor deal coming, or no deal at all, business can use the time to adapt and adjust for that. It’s the not knowing that’s causing a lot of the angst and unrest. The lingering uncertainty is doing nobody any good at all.
The British people voted for Brexit 52% to 48% in the referendum of 2016. In 2017, we had a General Election where both the Conservative and Labour parties made a firm commitment to implement the result of the referendum. And at the end of 2019, we had another General Election, where a Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson won a clear mandate from the British people, with an 80 seat majority, to implement the result of the referendum. And they won seats that had been Labour for living memory for even the oldest members of society.
The British people voted Leave, and they reaffirmed that decision in TWO General elections since the referendum.
However, even as recently as last December’s General Election, nobody could have predicted what a horrendous year 2020 would be not only for Britain, but for the world. The Covid pandemic has changed everything. We saw this week how Cineworld is going to mothball all 127 of its UK cinemas until at least March of next year. Will they ever reopen? Who knows? Just yesterday, pub chain Greene King announced it was cutting 800 jobs. 79 sites will be closed for the time being, some of those will close permanently.
Come the end of the month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furloughing scheme is being rebranded, in real terms this means that it’s being scaled back quite considerably as employers are asked to take on more of the burden of paying staff for effectively not working. That’ll inevitably mean a huge number of redundancies in the retail and hospitality sectors.
Let’s not mince words on this – next month, November, is going to be a very difficult time for this country. A large number of people are facing the very real possibility of redundancy. If we, personally don’t lose our jobs, there’s a very high chance we’ll have friends or family members who do lose their jobs. And for all of us, places we like, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, will be closing for good, and it won’t be pleasant.
Even the most committed Brexiteer would appreciate some clarity as to what the situation will be come January, which is why the end of this month is really as far as we can push talks, with a more likely scenario being things really hot up next week.
Later in the interview, I was invited to comment on today’s news that the Information Commissioner has concluded that Cambridge Analytica was ‘not involved’ in the EU referendum following a three-year investigation.
I pointed out that neither official campaign was without blame during the 2016 referendum. Indeed, official Remain campaign used exactly the same spending tactics as Vote Leave, except far worse.
I concluded by saying that the British people gave their endorsement of Brexit in the referendum of 2016, again in the 2017 General Election, and again in last December’s General Election, which a Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party won with an 80 seat majority on the back of a key manifesto pledge to deliver Brexit.
A full and complete Brexit means:
- National sovereignty.
- The supremacy of British courts.
- The ability to set controls on immigration.
- The ability to form trade deals with the wider world.
- A truly independent foreign policy.
Anything less than this falls short of the Brexit the British people voted for.