We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Brexit hasn't gone away!

July 12, 2020 11:37 AM
pfst (Thanks to Franz Wender for sharing their work on Unsplash.)Whilst, understandably, focus has been on combatting the pandemic the clock continues to tick towards the end of the transition phase in December after which we leave the single market. Progress on the promised comprehensive trade deal seems to be making little progress with the last two sets of talks breaking up early as impasse had been reached. One or other side may give way in the next few weeks but so far the chances of compromise seem remote
In the meantime practical steps continue to be taken.
Despite promises from the Prime Minister during the election that there would be no customs checks with Northern Ireland these are being put in place. We covered that at https://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2020/1360664/key-brexit-admission-by-uk-government
Two other recent developments are worth mentioning as they hint at a much more distant relationship with the EU in the future
1 Joint purchase of covid vaccines
The UK has decided not to join an EU plan to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine to its most vulnerable citizens . Under the joint procurement plan, the commission would then distribute doses to the Europeans in greatest need first amid an inevitable international battle to source the drugs.
The UK government's decision to pull out of talks with the European commission comes despite evidence of an international battle among rich countries to buy up coronavirus drugs. with the White House having already purchased much of the world supply of remdesivir, used to treat coronavirus symptoms.
This is a high risk strategy and seems to rely on the much hyped Oxford University vaccine working since we already have agreed access here to many millions of doses should it prove successful. However Worldwide, about 200 groups are working on vaccines and 18 are now being tested on people in clinical trials. Without volume commitments we risk not getting access to those which are successful
In response to the UK government's decision to walk away from the latest initiative, Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrats' health spokeswoman, said: "When coronavirus is such a threat to people's lives and livelihoods, ministers should leave no stone unturned in their bid to end the pandemic.

"This government's stubborn unwillingness to work with the European Union through the current crisis is unforgivable.

"The crisis does not stop at any national border. It is about time the prime minister started showing leadership, including fully participating in all EU efforts to secure critical medical supplies and a vaccine."
2 Customs clearance centre
The Guardian has reported here https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jul/10/vast-brexit-customs-clearance-centre-to-be-built-in-kent that the government has secretly purchased 27 acres of land 20 miles from Dover to site a vast new Brexit customs clearance centre for the 10,000 lorries that come through the Kent port from Calais every day. The local council were given only a few hours' notice that the land was now in public ownership.
A letter from the Ministry of Transport says "Plans have not yet been finalised for the use of this site, but is anticipated to form part of the Department's strategy to minimise potential disruption at Kent ports for the end of the transition period. This is likely to involve temporary capacity for the holding of delayed HGVs and facilities for border-related controls to be carried out by government agencies (eg HM Revenue and Customs).
It may just be us but it seems a bit late in the day to start thinking about such a centre now with under six months until we leave the EU. We have been aware of potential bottlenecks at the channel ports for a couple of years. Only now is something being done in a panic
On Monday the Government publishes the first official details of the new border operating model and immigration system . Rumoured to be 100 pages long it makes you wonder how Conservative politician's can continue to say a big benefit of leaving the EU is it gets us out of their bureaucratic control!!