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Getting Brexit done For Real

January 8, 2020 11:23 PM

The decisive victory for the Conservatives at the General Election means that our leaving the EU is now a forgone conclusion. What however is less clear is what our future relationship with the EU and US will be. The recent crisis in Iran where we have aligned more closely with Europe illustrates how complex this will be.

As politics gets back up to speed after the Christmas break three articles caught my eye as clues of the direction of travel

1 EU President speech at London School of Economics

The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has urged Britain's youth to not to settle for "isolation" after Brexit, and said they would not have to accept the new "status quo" negotiated by Boris Johnson.

She suggested that if Britain's youth were not satisfied with what was negotiated, they should not accept the status quo and instead could "turn things into how they should be".

The commission president's comments will be interpreted by some critics of Brexit as an exhortation not to give up on EU membership or a closer relationship in the long term.

"Brexit does not only mark the end of something. It also makes a new phase in an enduring partnership and friendship," she told the audience .
"It will be a partnership for your generation and I count on you all to make it a success.

"You can choose collaboration over isolation. You can shape your continent's destiny. You can hold your governments a
"You can refuse to be satisfied with the status quo and you can turn things into how they should be."
Poll suggest wide majorities in favour of EU membership among younger and working-age demographics, with Brexit only carried over the line by the retired.

In a wide-ranging speech the political leader of the EU's executive branch also warned her audience that it would be "basically impossible" to negotiate a full trade deal covering all sectors within the limits of the 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson.
"We will have to prioritise as long as we face that deadline by the end of 2020," she said.
"In just over three weeks on 31 January the UK will spend its last day as a member state. This will be a tough and emotional day. But when the sun rises against 1 February the European Union and the United Kingdom will still be the best of friends and partners. The bonds between us will still be unbreakable."

Continuing, the president warned the UK government: "As only true friends can I want to be very honest about what lies ahead of us.

"We will go as far we can but the truth is that our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before. It cannot and will not be as close as before because with every choice comes a consequence. With every decision comes a trade-off.en, the first woman EU president?

"Without the free movement of people who cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, taxation and state aid you cannot have the highest access to the world's largest single market. The more divergence there is the more distant the partnership will be.

"Without an extension of the partnership beyond 2020 you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of the partnership."
The full article is at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-eu-ursula-von-der-leyen-young-people-isolation-boris-johnson-a9275021.html

2. European Citizens

The European parliament will express its "grave concern" about the attitude of Boris Johnson's government to the 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK following threats of deportation made by a British minister.

In a leaked resolution drafted by the main political groups and due to be backed by MEPs next Wednesday, Johnson's administration is accused of creating "anxiety" in recent months.
The condemnation follows the comments of security minister Brandon Lewis, who threatened EU citizens with deportation from the UK if they do not apply for settled status before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

The minister later claimed that his comments had been taken out of context, raising concerns about what the parliament's political groups describe as "conflicting" announcements from Whitehall.
The parliament's resolution, obtained by the Guardian, further warns:
Without a "physical document" offering proof of their right to residency at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021 there is an increased "risk of discrimination against EU27 citizens by prospective employers or landlords who may want to avoid the extra administrative burden of online verification, or erroneously fear they might place themselves in an unlawful situation".
The "limited geographical spread" of assistance offered to "older and vulnerable" EU citizens, including those who may have difficulty in using digital applications, needs addressing.
The application procedure that EU citizens go through should be dropped to ensure that there is a presumption that they will can retain their rights to live and work in the UK.
Johnson's decision to revise the withdrawal agreement bill to allow the independent monitoring authority, responsible for overseeing UK policies towards EU citizens, to delegate its powers to other bodies is concerning.
The parliament will also state that the level of free movement granted to EU citizens after Brexit should be a factor in deciding the "degree of future cooperation in other areas".

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats' acting leader, said the risk of another Windrush catastrophe is all too real with this shameful approach."

More details at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/07/eu-parks-post-brexit-demands-avoid-early-clash-boris-johnson-ursula-von-der-leyen

3 Refugee Children

The Commons has rejected proposals to keep protections for child refugees in the redrafted EU withdrawal agreement bill, triggering dismay from campaigners.

Alf Dubs, the Labour peer who successfully campaigned for this protection for refugee children in 2016, said It is a betrayal of Britain's humanitarian tradition and will leave children who are very vulnerable existing in danger in northern France and in the Greek islands," he said.
MPs voted 348 to 252 against the amendment, which had previously been accepted by Theresa May's government and which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family members living in the UK after Brexit

Following the vote, Downing Street insisted that the commitment to child refugees had not been abandoned, but had just been removed from the Brexit withdrawal agreement bill "so it delivered on what it was designed to do". For a party that is putting NHS spend and no EU transition extension into law to give confidence the Government will do what it says you have to worry that taking this commitment out is simply pandering to those who dislike immigration and that our commitment to these children will be quietly forgotten