Letter for publication – Brexit Chequers deal
Coincidentally, the week after the so-called ‘Chequers agreement’ on Brexit, the London Assembly Economy Committee held an evidence hearing, with both Remainer and Brexit supporting experts, on Brexit and its impact on London.
It may come as a surprise, but all the experts from whichever side of the debate agreed that:
1) the Chequers agreement is not the comprehensive plan we need to protect our capital’s economy and Londoners’ jobs, being more about addressing the Conservative Party’s divisions rather than the country’s interests;
2) there wasn’t a hope that Brussels would accept it anyway;
3) a ‘no deal ‘Brexit was not an option.
Things don’t seem to be much clearer after the White Paper publication either.
Just who was the Chequers ‘agreement’ an ‘agreement’ with? Certainly not the EU! It was an ‘agreement’ solely to secure peace within the Conservative Party and Government Cabinet- and that didn’t last the weekend anyway!
The Government’s wilful abandonment of its commitment to secure the same benefits and frictionless trade afforded to members of the EU places the economic health of London, and indeed our country, at risk.
The Chequers ‘agreement’ and the White Paper only consider our trade in goods (where the EU has a surplus in its exports to the UK) and completely fail to deal with the trade in services (where we have a trade surplus with the EU, including e.g. not just finance, insurance and legal services, but also e.g. high tech, tourism and hospitality ) which represents 80% of the UK’s economy, rising to an overwhelming 90% of London’s business- so where is the incentive for the EU to reach an agreement on services? After over 300 years of underwriting in London, the CEO of Lloyds has now said they are moving to Brussels.
And where is consideration of migration and its importance and role for the future needs of our economy; and what about the position of EU nationals in the UK ( in London we are home to a million EU nationals) and UK nationals living in the EU? All missing from the Chequers ‘agreement’ and White Paper..
‘No deal’ is tremendously dangerous. While ‘no deal’ on trade may be an outcome, albeit unwelcome, we cannot risk ‘no deal’ on all the other elements of our relationship with the EU, which are being overlooked in the internal Conservative Brexit bear pit. For example, we cannot countenance leaving without an agreement on aviation or planes won’t fly; or on crime, terrorism and security-the impact was recently outlined by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner .
Brexit is far more complicated than the Brexiteers wanted the country to think in the referendum two years ago. I believe a second referendum , on the final ‘deal or no deal’ , and with an option to remain, is essential. Then we can all make a properly informed choice- hopefully without fake news, without broken campaign spending limits, and without Russian (or President Trump’s) interference.
Andrew Dismore AM
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden