On Wednesday 28 February 2018, campaigners from across Kent descended from a familiar looking battle-bus to deliver a message to Kent County Council. This bus carried the slogan: “Brexit to cost £2,000 million a week” – a different message from its infamous predecessor!
Richard Morris – a SSTIE committee member gave the following speech outside County Hall.
What’s the cost of Brexit?
The message on our bus, based on the Government’s own impact assessments, is stark. We have just now delivered a letter to KCC demanding that corresponding assessments be made specifically for Kent. We fear that, given Kent’s wealth of business activity, cross-channel freight, hospitals, public services and farming, the proportionate adverse impact could be even greater.
UK is currently one of the leaders of Europe, the largest economic power in the world, with which we do almost half our trade. We are intending to pay £40 billion to give this up! Trade agreements with other countries will come with many conditions equivalent to EU’s, eg re freedom of movement/migration. Customs Unions exist in many other parts of the world – Africa, South America, S.E. Asia, partially in North America – not just EU.
Chaotic consequences of leaving EU Single Market and Customs Union. Impediments to trade, Dover congestion, insoluble Irish border issue, cash flow damage from up-front VAT for exporters and importers, manufacturing moving to countries within the customs union in order to retain customers who won’t accept increased bureaucracy, consequential job losses in the UK.
All Government projections show Brexit will make us poorer. It will also increase inequality (possibly a major contributor to the Leave vote), through reduced capacity/political will for public spending.
Is it worth it?
Some say it is – to regain our sovereignty. But they forget the UK has always been by nature multicultural. Over last 300 years, UK moved almost seamlessly from Union with Scotland to Empire to Commonwealth to leading EU player – never just a sovereign island nation. Leaving the EU is against our nature and isolates us from friends and neighbours.
UK has an admirable and wise history in admitting immigrants. Nowadays we recognise the vital importance of EU immigrants in NHS, social care, agriculture,
construction, education and hospitality industries.
We also recognise the enormous benefits of Europe-wide collaboration in science, medicine (Euratom), culture and education.
Young people want to Remain, but their futures are marred by Brexit decided by the old. Within a few years, Remain will anyway be the majority vote.
So I repeat: is it worth it?
We need to remind our MPs of their positive, democratic duty to scrutinise all Government proposals and to make this judgment in the best interests of country,
not party. We also insist on the democratic right of the electorate to change its mind as more and more new facts come to light.
27 EU countries, plus many regional parliaments, some requiring referenda, will vote on final deal – the British public must also have its final say.