Yesterday I spoke in a Parliamentary debate on the impact of the Brexit deal on the UK. The fallout we’ve seen over the last three months – in trade, opportunities to work, security and more – has been the result of political choices made by the Conservative government.
I argued that their approach is holding the country back, as they continue to wreck our global reputation by breaking international law, going back on commitments they made in the last year. Since we left the EU, they’ve failed to uphold standards, assess the impact of the deal, or adequately replace the programmes we enjoyed access to previously; the Turing Scheme for example is no real replacement for Erasmus+
You can watch a clip of my speech here, and read the full text below or on Hansard.
“During four long years as a shadow Brexit Minister, I sat through many debates peppered with talk of global Britain, as the Government erected barriers to partnership with our most important allies and closest neighbours with complete disregard for the consequences. The Prime Minister has been at it again this week, talking about the UK’s place on the global stage while trashing our reputation abroad, reneging again on international commitments to which he signed up.
It is a time for mature diplomacy—for rebuilding trust to sort out the problems with the Brexit deal as they become increasingly evident. Instead, the Prime Minister has put his former negotiator, apparently no longer trusted as National Security Adviser, back in charge.
The now Lord Frost will bring to this vital role all the finesse of doing “origami…with a blowtorch”, as the former Conservative party chairman, Lord Patten, said so eloquently.
The Prime Minister may think that fuelling grievances will win good headlines in the Daily Mail, but it will not help those facing the consequences of his ideologically driven negotiations.
Far from the frictionless trade promised, businesses are threatened by extra costs and bureaucracy, and many are taking the advice of the Government’s own officials in moving activities and jobs from the UK to the EU to avoid the barriers that the Government have erected, following many from the services sector, which was completely overlooked in the deal.
It is not just trade that is a problem; taking back control of our borders without the tools to use it is another feature of the deal. Our police and security services have access to less of the information they need to stop dangerous criminals and terrorists entering the country.
It does not stop there: performers no longer have the ability to work freely across the continent we share, because the Government refused visa proposals offered by the EU.
We have already seen the Government, no longer bound by the EU directives that we helped to write, threaten workers’ rights, if put off by a big backlash.
What about the promises to protect environmental standards? Well, tell that to the bees now threatened by neonicotinoids, which were banned under our EU membership.
And in an act of senseless educational vandalism, our young people can no longer participate in the Erasmus scheme. Instead, the new Turing proposals provide a clearly diminished offer, with less funding, a more complex application process, stretched universities left to persuade international counterparts to waive fees without the reciprocity of an exchange, and just four weeks to sort it out. It is perhaps no surprise that the Government have given no guarantee of funding for Turing in future years.
It did not have to be like this. It is the result of choices deliberately made by this Government.”