|There are many examples of this refusal by the Government to accept there is still work to be done on Brexit, whether that’s reaching an agreement with the EU on Financial Services – our biggest export; protecting the rights of UK citizens abroad – as we discussed in our last e-Bulletin; or fighting to deliver on promises made to the UK fishing industry.
On this last point regarding fishing, there has been a catastrophic failure by the Secretary of State for DEFRA, George Eustice, the entire DEFRA department and the Government as a whole. Our fishing industry was promised full control of our waters and a massive boost to their industry through the ‘levelling-up agenda’. First, we had the awful Trade and Cooperation Agreement compromise which has left the UK without control of our waters for at least the next 5 years. Then we found out Victoria Prentis, the Fishing Minister, hadn’t even read the document because she was busy organising a nativity event. And now, 4 months after Leaving the EU – and almost 5 years since we voted to Leave – it has become clear George Eustice has hung our ‘distant waters’ fishermen out to dry as well – with Eustice not even being able to secure a continuation of the pre-Brexit deal we had with Norway! This is on top of his failure to resolve the current ban on UK shellfish being exported into the EU.
Our ‘distant waters fishing industry’ relies on deals with non-EU countries including Norway, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland, and is the industry responsible for catching the majority of cod which comes into this country. Despite this clear need for agreement, the UK Government has been unwilling to get things done, with talks with Norway and the Faroe Islands stalling, and no action at all taken with regards to Greenland and Iceland.
The failure to act on these and the many other outstanding Brexit issues is a clear dereliction of duty – plain and simple. Get Britain Out has even raised these issues with the Secretary of State, George Eustice – and the Prime Minister directly – but our letter has fallen on deaf ears, with the department and the PM not even seeing the need to issue a response. You can read our original letter HERE.
It is clear the Government simply thinks – or hopes – we are all distracted by COVID-19 – but I think we are all fed up with the various pre-planned photoshoots we see every day in the runup to the local elections next Thursday. Well, we are not distracted Prime Minister. If the Government or anyone really wants to win people over in these elections and in the next General Election, then they really need to step up and keep the promises they have already made to this country.
In other news we have unfortunately seen more disturbance in Northern Ireland this week, with DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster being forced to resign by her own Party. This comes after weeks of violence on the streets and the belief Mrs Foster has failed to hold Westminster to account for the EU forcing the establishment of a border down the Irish Sea, and masses of EU-instigated unnecessary checks on goods coming from Great Britain into Northern Ireland – which is clearly part of our UK. Mrs Foster’s resignation now raises the question of a more forceful opposition to the Government in Northern Ireland and maybe an increased political will to push for an end to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Perhaps even the EU might finally accept the reality that a technological border on the island of Ireland is possible. However, with the strong hand the Protocol gives the EU, such an outcome is very unlikely in my view, with the EU instead likely to try and push even harder to split Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.
On top of all this, this week the bosses of London Heathrow Airport have claimed if Border Force changes are not made, the airport will struggle to welcome all passengers coming into this country with increased checks because of COVID-19 – there are already delays of up to 6 hours, which is ridiculous. It was also revealed, they are already turning away planes coming into this country! Quite frankly I find this ridiculous for 2 reasons. Firstly, if the Heathrow bigwigs are angry about long queues in their Terminals, then maybe they should open up the other 3 Terminals they put in mothballs because of COVID-19. This would undoubtedly clear some of the bottleneck, and perhaps the staff they either fired or put on furlough could be rehired, and Border Force reengaged. Secondly, what on earth are the Home Office and Border Force doing? We are now supposed to have control of our borders. It is about time the Government put the funding in place to make sure all our borders are secure and fully operational. COVID-19 restrictions were just the start. With Freedom of Movement ended, there will be more and more people trying to enter this country illegally – including more illegals coming across The Channel in the last few weeks – we must be ready and our borders must be properly manned! If we are forced to turn planes away, this would be fatal to the idea we are supposed to be ‘Global Britain – Open and Ready for Business and Investment!’
In some good news however, last week, after negotiations had slowed down over the past few months, it was announced the UK’s new trade deal with Australia has concluded negotiations in all the major areas, with just the final legal details to be resolved. This is once again, another win for the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, who seems to be the only Government Minister who is actually getting anything done (apart from those now handling the vaccine rollout of course). The Australian trade deal had seemed to be stuck in the mud, but Mrs Truss took the bold call to publicly call out the Australian Trade Minister for dragging his feet. A tactic which seems to have paid off.
Plus, all of this comes in the same week the new UK Trade Bill has officially been given Royal Assent, to truly pave the way for a Global Britain – if we stand firm against the EU that is. Perhaps the PM and other individuals dealing with the EU – and other nations – could learn a thing or two from Truss’s negotiations. Maybe then we would get more success in resolving outstanding issues.