A post-Brexit world ravaged by COVID-19 sees our economy stalling, spluttering and unable to kick into gear. The prime cause is largely about the long-term lack of information and certainty – and a lack of crucial support from the Government, argues Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out.

Since 2016, the Government has shown clear dereliction of leadership and certainty in regards to the UK's future relationship with the EU. This was primarily the fault Theresa May's dithering and her refusal to push for a 'Real Brexit', leaving the House of Commons in disarray and her Ministers unable to prepare the country for our exit from the EU.

As a result, Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, with 4 years' preparation to do in a single year. This was made even harder by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This culminated in the negotiation of a 'fairly reasonable deal'. This left everyone completely unable to prepare for any changes before implementation on January 1st. The fault also lies with the EU, who have always tried to ignore deadlines in an attempt to back us into a deep black hole of continued EU jurisdiction.

While the UK agreed to slowly implement its new 'Border Operating Model' in order for EU companies exporting into the UK time to adjust over the course of six months, no such concession was replicated by the EU – still determined to make this process as difficult as possible.

This only goes to prove the negotiations were never about 'mutual benefit' as far as the EU is concerned. This has only ever been about the EU projecting its own federal interests on the UK to prove a point.

This has clearly been unsuccessful, especially this year when it comes to the COVID vaccine procurement and distribution. The EU's failure to properly approve and secure enough vaccines has reportedly led to various countries now trying to circumvent the EU's power grab. With the EU now getting desperate they appear ready to slander UK vaccine producer AstraZeneca.

Perhaps if the EU really don't want their worst fears to come true about other members following the UK out of the bloc, they should start by understanding more about their citizens, rather than their federal project!

The EU's position is obvious to me – and many others from the outset.

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One of the clearest ways to give businesses certainty would have been for Boris Johnson to walk away from talks early last year! We should have begun trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms at – or even before – the end of last year, having giving businesses months to learn, plan and understand the systems and paperwork needed to prepare for the start of this year – after the Transition Period.

The 'Transition Period' (agreed under Barnier and May's original negotiations) was supposed to be just that – a transition period, during which both sides would prepare for a 'transition'. However, as ever, the EU lead the agenda according to Barnier's terms and put endless obstacles in the way of more regular meetings, then delayed and delayed, so in the end, the trade deal was only signed 3 days before the deadline!

Subsequently, if we abandoned talks, we would have been able to demonstrate the UK could cope and prosper outside the EU – and just maybe – negotiations on a trade deal could then have continued, and would, I believe, have resulted in an even better deal for the UK!

However, this decision was not made. The reality now facing the Government is Boris Johnson's current responses have been lacklustre, to say the least.

Businesses need support now, and any teething problems with the UK customs system must be ironed out fast. There should be no excuse for firms not knowing which forms are required, or how they should be completed. Surely with modern technology, there should be video tutorials on the Government's website. Or is this simply another example of a Civil Service 'go slow' order!

This requires action NOW – as well as funding to streamline the process. Simply putting signs on motorways to drivers is not going to fill out the forms in advance! Whitehall bureaucracy is again moving at a snail's pace to make plans clear.

This need for clarity also extends to the public. Recent stories of UK customers buying goods from EU companies and EU customers buying goods from UK companies, then paying what they believe is the total amount online, but then being handed further customs duty bills by the courier, evidence this. While these taxes need to be paid, why are both UK and EU Governments not making it simpler for firms exporting to individual countries to calculate these costs in advance? If so, customers should be able to see and pay the full cost of the item upfront, instead of being hit with surprise fees!

As I said before, all the British people are asking for is information and clarity. With a clear picture, the entire process should be far more efficient. Right now, this whole process is taking far too long. If the Government really wants to unlock the UK economy – after everything which has been done to Get Britain Out of the EU – the first action must be to streamline the customs process. Delays being experienced as we now move away from the Single Market and the Customs Union must stop. The UK's global economy is set to be unleashed and the Prime Minister must ensure he steers us clear from the obstacles – or make sure someone else in his Government does so. If not you Boris, then move aside for someone else to Take Back Control!

15 votes

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