Tuesday 6 November 2018

Three Issues Relating to Brexit that should be Widely Known

by Robin Baker

1) Thanks and Congratulations to Dominic Raab from the European Movement

In publishing the Government’s so called Chequers proposal, Dominic Raab has performed a great service to those of us who oppose Brexit.  We should thank him for that.

The document sets out in considerable details the advantages that the UK gains from being a member of the EU, and then also details the very difficult, indeed one could reasonably say irresolvable, difficulties Britain will have in retaining these advantages should Brexit proceed.

In fact they are too numerous to include in the body of this text.  So I have put them in an appendix at the end for those who, like myself, are masochistic enough to enjoy the detail.

2)  What are Liam Fox and his International Trade Department up to?

The Times has revealed that Dr. Liam Fox’s personal travel bill in the Department of International Trade has amounted to £189,000 and that his department as a whole has spent more than £1 million on a total of 376 international trips and missions. 

The Department’s principal responsibility is to deliver a new trade policy framework for the UK as we leave the EU although it does have the task of promoting British trade and investment across the world and building the global appetite for British goods and services.  One does wonder why, however, it was necessary for them to 158 visits to other EU member countries.

Sir Vince Cable, a former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and now Leader of the Liberal-Democrats, is quoted as saying: “There is nothing wrong with ministers travelling to secure trade deals but when this government’s post-Brexit ambitions are so unrealistic they are just wasting money on pointless exercises.  Readers of course will know that the UK cannot negotiate any trade agreements until we have actually left the EU.

3) Will we really be able to control our post-EU borders?  Minister confesses all.

The boast repeated frequently by pro-Brexiteers and almost daily by Theresa May that leaving the EU will enable us to control our borders, by which of course is meant immigration, has always seemed to me to be so unconvincing as to be dishonest.  One just has to look at the figures.  In 2017 EU net migration was around 100,000, the lowest level recorded since 2013.  However estimated non-EU net migration was 227,000, the highest level recorded since 2011.  It has been almost consistently higher than EU migration for decades.  Control of non-EU migration is totally within the UK’s own national competence, however we have consistently been unable not only to meet the targets set but even to prevent such migration from increasing.  It has been impossible for me to believe that leaving the EU would enable immigration to be controlled, when neither Prime Minister May nor any of her team have even attempted to tell us what we would do post Brexit to control EU immigration that they are not doing now to control non-EU immigration.

But now a minister, the Minister of State for Immigration no less, has made the position clear.  She has told the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that employers will be expected to check whether EU nationals have the right to work in the UK if there is a no-deal Brexit, even though it will be almost impossible to assess this, and the nature of the checks remains unknown.

Not surprisingly employers’ groups have expressed serious concerns.  In fact this approach is typical of the government placing obligations on others for duties that they should assume themselves.  This time they are going to require employers to go through adequately rigorous checks to evidence EU27 citizens’ right to work.  When asked how employers could be expected to make the checks, Nokes said she did not know and would have to write to the committee later.  One can only hope that the committee members are not holding the breath.  Should, as the Government intend, there be a transition period after Britain leaves the EU, Nokes admitted that it would be incredibly difficult to differentiate between an EU citizen coming here for the first time, for example, and somebody who has been here for a significant period of time and hasn’t yet applied for their settled status but will be perfectly entitled to it when they apply.  Yvette Cooper, the Committee Chairman, said “Either you’re going to have a system that in practice is unworkable because employers can’t implement it, or you’re going to have to accept that people who are arriving after March 2019 will just be covered by exactly the same rules as people who are already here.”

So we cannot expect immigration from EU countries to be controlled post Brexit.  But, after all, many of us never did.

Robin Baker


During the UK’s membership of the EU, it has worked with all Member States to develop a significant suite of tools that supports the UK’s and the EU’s combined operational capabilities, and helps keep citizens safe. It is important that the UK and the EU continue that cooperation, avoiding gaps in operational capability after the UK’s withdrawal. The UK will no longer be part of the EU’s common policies on foreign, defence, security, justice and home affairs.

Participation by the UK in key agencies, including Europol and Eurojust – providing an effective and efficient way to share expertise and information, with law enforcement officers and legal experts working in close proximity so they can coordinate operations and judicial proceedings quickly

The protection of personal data, ensuring the future relationship facilitates the continued free flow of data to support business activity and security collaboration, and maximises certainty for business;

To ensure that new declarations and border checks between the UK and the EU do not need to be introduced for VAT and Excise purposes,

Trade in agricultural products which contributed £27.8 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2017.

The UK’s robust programme of risk-based market surveillance to ensure that dangerous products do not reach consumers.

The UK is world leading in many services sectors, including legal, business and financial services. In 2017, services made up 79 per cent of total UK GVA worth £1.46 trillion. In 2017, 21 per cent of EU27 services imports came from the UK.

The EU regime for the recognition of professional qualifications enables UK and EU professionals to practise across both the UK and the EU on a temporary, longer-term or permanent basis, without fully having to retrain or re-qualify. Since 1997 the UK has recognised over 142,000 EU qualifications, including for lawyers, social workers and engineers. Over 27,000 decisions to recognise UK qualifications have been undertaken in the EU.

The UK and EU economies rely on the cross-border provision of professional services. This includes legal services, where the UK is the destination for 14.5% of total EU legal services exports. It also includes accounting and audit services. In 2016, UK firms provided over 14 per cent of EU27 audit and accountancy imports.

The UK and EU financial services markets are highly interconnected: UK-located banks underwrite around half of the debt and equity issued by EU businesses; UK-located banks are counterparty to over half of the over-the-counter interest rate derivatives traded by EU companies and banks; around £1.4 trillion of assets are managed in the UK on behalf of European clients.

In the year ending September 2017, UK residents made approximately 50 million non-business related visits to the EU spending £24 billion,24 and EU residents made over 20 million non-business related visits to the UK spending £7.8 billion.

The audiovisual sector is both economically and culturally important to the UK and the EU. The UK’s creative hub contributes significantly to the development of products that are much in demand by European consumers. The UK is leaving the Single Market. As a result, the “country of origin” principle, in which a company based in one Member State can be licensed by a national regulator and broadcast into any other Member State, will no longer apply.

The UK has the largest aviation industry in Europe, and the UK’s geographical position in the network is key, with around 80 per cent of all North Atlantic traffic passing through UK or Irish controlled airspace. Air travel is vital in connecting people and businesses and facilitating tourism and trade. In 2017, 164 million passengers travelled between the UK and other EU Member States by air.

Criminals and terrorists operate across borders. The threat they present has grown in intensity, complexity and severity. Criminal networks are increasingly resilient and adaptable, exploiting technology and becoming involved in almost every type of crime. The EU and its Member States have created a range of legal, practical and technical capabilities to combat these challenges at a European level through close cooperation between countries. These capabilities are mutually reinforcing. Together, they prevent criminals from using international borders to avoid detection and justice, safeguard against threats to public security and protect citizens and victims of crime.

The swift extradition of wanted individuals to ensure they face prosecution or serve prison sentences is a vital tool in delivering justice and helping to keep communities safe. The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has closed loopholes and transformed extradition arrangements within the European Union. The EAW has streamlined the extradition process within the EU and made it easier to ensure wanted persons are brought to justice, or serve a prison sentence for an existing conviction.