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Lichfield Lib Dems destroy MP arguments for Brexit deal

December 30, 2020 8:12 PM
By Cllr Hugh Ashton - Lichfield Liberal Democrats

Lichfield's Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has recently published his party's view of the benefits there will be for our area on the back of Brexit.

Michael Fabricant MP - Lichfield - Conservative

M Fabricant MP (Conservative)

Similarly to a majority of our American cousins difficulty with soon to be ex-President Trump we have trouble agreeing with Mr Fabricants "facts" let alone his conclusions.

Lichfield Lib Dem Councillor Hugh Ashton deals with the points (in blue type) made by Michael Fabricant MP below:

"The deal that has been agreed delivers on the promises made to the British people back in 2016. We are taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money, while continuing to remain close friends and allies of the European Union. This was the democratic wish expressed by almost 60% of the Lichfield constituency."

  1. Actually, no. We never lost control of our laws and our borders. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36473105 - the recent pandemic has shown the control that individual EU member states have over their borders. And after the hate and bile towards the EU that has been spewed forth by members of the Conservative Party, I am surprised that you have the gall to talk about "close friends".

  2. Oh, and it was not 60% of the Lichfield constituency that voted to leave the EU in the advisory referendum. The figure was 58.8% of those who voted - out of 78.7% of eligible voters who actually voted, making it just over 46% of the electorate in Lichfield. Hardly a thumping majority (the national figure was more like 37% of the electorate who voted to leave). To continue to claim that it was the "will of the people" is disingenuous at best, and an outright distortion of the truth at worst. It is worth adding that no-one born in this century - a cohort which will only increase in proportional size as time goes on, was allowed to vote, and those under 25 at the time of the referendum voted overwhelmingly to remain. Bluntly put, Leavers are dying out, in addition to the shift in public opinion which has occurred in the four and a half years of bungled and mismanaged Brexit-related policy.

"Free trade between the UK and the EU will continue, but we are now able to strike our own trade agreements with the rest of the world including large economies who had no agreement with the EU."

In theory we are definitely free to strike our own agreements. In practice, such as the much-lauded trade deal with Japan, we will strike a worse deal than if we were still with the EU, since we will be in a weaker bargaining position. https://www.ft.com/content/edb7d155-56b4-4065-9f83-31b2247fa178

"There are numerous other advantages to the British people and the environment.

As from January 1st, farmers will no longer have to contribute to the 'meat mountain' generated by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy which so disadvantaged farmers in developing countries. Instead a new UK scheme will encourage farmers to preserve the landscape and be stewards of our countryside. Imports from developing countries will be permitted and the Government will also be able finally to ban the export of live animals for slaughter abroad which has been a cruel practice enforced by the EU."

Again, naïve and misleading points.

  1. Sheep farmers will face non-tariff barriers to their exports of lamb to Europe resulting in an estimated 5% reduction in value. https://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/taking-stock/lamb-contingency-plan-needed-for-brexit

  2. We already have imports from developing countries - a quick walk around a supermarket's shelves would inform you of this. Also, "the EU remains the world's biggest importer of farm products from developing countries. On average, over the period 2006-2008, the EU has imported €53 billion worth of goods. This is more than the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined," according to an EU report. The following statistics may help you: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/facts-and-figures/markets/trade/trade-country-region/trade-value_en#regions

  3. The ecological and environmental measures could have been implemented previously as a member of the EU. The following principles of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) may be of interest to you: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/sustainability/environmental-sustainability/cap-and-environment_en

  4. Live animal export - according to the chair of the European Parliament's newly formed Inquiry Committee on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT), "the decision to limit the export of live animals lies with member states, or in some cases, regions". ( https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/uk-moves-to-ban-live-exports-of-animals-but-eu-ban-far-off-says-mep/ ) Again, this decision could have been made as a member of the EU, as it has been by other EU member nations.

Promotion of the above moves as Brexit benefits can be disproved in a few minutes of Internet research......

"The Government will be able to reduce VAT, previously banned by the EU, on items such as on sanitary and other medical products if it so wishes."

Of course this is good news and will apparently save women £40 in a lifetime. It is worth noting, though, that Germany, as a member of the EU was able to slash VAT on these items in November. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/tampon-tax-scrapped-a9394596.html Again, as a key member of the EU, the UK could have been in a position to change EU policy on the classification of these as luxury items and thereby benefit women throughout Europe. As outsiders, we are in no position to do so.

The old Erasmus programme which previously sent under 10,000 British students each year to EU countries to study, will be changed to a British programme, The Turing Scheme, which will send up to 35,000 British students not only to EU countries as before, but also to the renowned universities in the United States, Australia, and other countries worldwide.

This ranks with Mr Johnson's Irish Sea bridge and Thames Estuary airport promises as a scheme that exists only in his head, It will require years to implement fully with cooperation with other nations, assuming that it ever comes to anything other than a blue-sky promise. In the meantime, this move is a betrayal of young people seeking to broaden their horizons,

"Other innovations will include the creation of Freeports which will attract inward investment and jobs in previously neglected parts of the UK."

Free ports - you are aware, are you not, that "Britain operated several free ports as recently as 2012, when the government stopped renewing their licences. Created in the 1980s, they included Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool, Prestwick and Southampton." https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/06/what-is-a-free-port-all-you-need-to-know-about-free-trade-zones-brexit - the re-creation of free ports has little or nothing to do with Brexit, and should not be presented as such.

"The UK is now free to introduce many other such schemes and introduce smarter and better regulation instead of the ponderous and old fashioned rules that still prevail on continental Europe which cannot be changed because of EU laws."

Many of the laws under consideration for revision, as far as I can tell, include reduction of workers' rights, changes to the definitions of human rights, and changes to the legal system which will not be to the benefit of the people you claim to represent. https://www.parliament.uk/business/lords/media-centre/house-of-lords-media-notices/2019/january-2019/human-rights-act-is-not-safe-after-brexit/ . Or perhaps you are referring to the "ponderous" EU regulations such as that requiring that raw sewage not be discharged onto or near holiday beaches, thereby affecting the profitability of the disastrously privatised (and often foreign owned) water companies.

"The EU is a declining trade bloc compared to markets in North America and the Far East. We shall still trade and cooperate with the EU, but no longer be tied to that small part of the world. This creates outstanding opportunities for our people and our nation."

The comment would make more sense if the UK were geographically and culturally closer to North America and the Far East. We have very little in common culturally with South Korea, for example, and despite certain superficial similarities, there are wide gaps between Japan and the UK. The disaster zone that Donald Trump has created over the past four years makes the majority of Britons very reluctant to have closer ties with the USA, though it appears to be a goal of the Conservative Party to continue selling off the family silver in the form of the NHS to the American for-profit HMOs.
It makes sense to anyone not sitting on the government benches in the Commons that one's primary relations should be with one's neighbours working towards a shared goal rather than to distant culturally dissimilar trading partners with different goals and aspirations.

"Now is the time to stop looking wistfully back to the past and our unhappy relationship with the EU. Let's embrace the future with enthusiasm"

The unhappy relationship with the EU was the work of a small band of malcontents in the Conservative Party. Apart from the writers for the likes of Sun, Express, Mail and latterly Telegraph. owned and published by offshore tax-dodging billionaires, it was never a major issue until xenophobia and Little England-ism was whipped up by this obsessed minority.

We find it hard to embrace the future with enthusiasm, given the facts surrounding the referendum, the crass incompetence and dishonesty of this government and the national Conservative Party generally. We refuse to look forward to a sunlit upland inhabited by unicorns, thanks to the repeated lies and distortions of the Leave contingent. Rather, we seek a better future as an integral part of the European decision-making process, with those who have conspired to destroy the United Kingdom through Brexit brought to account.

Hugh AshtonCouncillor Hugh Ashton - Lichfield Liberal Democrats