Boris Johnson has been avoiding making the tough decisions this country needs to kick on and thrive. This must change soon, or the idea of 'Global Britain' the Government is so keen to push may have trouble truly taking off, writes Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out.

The Prime Minister has spent the last two weeks reshuffling his Cabinet, signing historic agreements with Australia and the USA, and now promoting his climate change agenda at the United Nations General Assembly. However, despite this providing a glimmer of hope for our future, Boris Johnson's Government has shown a disappointing lack of conviction in delivering on many of the promises they have made since winning the 2019 General Election.

While the glamour and hard work surrounding a trip to the USA and a meeting at The White House will undoubtedly fill the news cycle for a few days, recent poor decisions by the Prime Minister and his team cannot be overlooked. Whether this is breaking manifesto commitments not to raise taxes (especially for the lowest earners), delaying the implementation of the UK's own customs regime, or kicking the can down the road on Northern Ireland.

On all of these options it seems the Government has consistently chosen to take the easy way out. Back in June when they first proposed making changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol by the end of September, this was deemed to be a final deadline. The conditions being endured by people and businesses in Northern Ireland could not continue, and therefore this constituted grounds for implementing Article 16 of the Protocol. However, instead of holding firm on this, the Prime Minister has now – unilaterally and indefinitely – extended the current grace period on the implementation of additional checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. In other words, the Prime Minister has made no headway on the issues which are continuing to keep Northern Ireland in a perpetual state of uncertainty over its future.

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This is not something which can simply be swept under the carpet, and worryingly it is only the latest in a pattern of UK governments not sticking to the deadlines they set themselves, especially when it comes to dealing with the EU. It seems nobody in government or Whitehall has learned from the mistakes of the past and are content with allowing us to follow the same dangerous path we experienced in the years following the 2016 EU Referendum.

What's more, while we continue to allow the European Union to control a part of the United Kingdom, the delay in implementing the UK's own customs regime is the easy option to take, with the main beneficiaries being the EU-based companies exporting into the UK. This means UK companies are put at a disadvantage because companies based in Ireland or France, do not need to meet full customs checks to get their goods on UK shelves.

If we as a country are to finally achieve our vision of a successful 'Global Britain', then this will require some courage and conviction to make tough choices and take some short-term losses to secure long-term benefits. However, as we have seen in the examples I have discussed and many more, with some very limited exceptions – such as the recent AUKUS deal – the Government has not been willing to rock the boat to come up with ambitious reforms, whether to EU regulations or real changes to our health and social care system. A tax rise is undoubtedly an easier fight to win than finally asking difficult questions about the overall mismanagement of the NHS.

While the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord Frost, has announced a new commission to examine every line of 'Retained EU Law' copied over after Brexit, this is a move which has taken over nine months to announce and has no timeline for coming into effect or producing results. Again, this leaves businesses in the dark and unable to plan for the future, two years after we left the political institutions of the European Union. Policies on GDPR and financial services should have been ready to roll out on day one, but instead we sit here with no clear plans for our future.

The recent reshuffle may produce some fresh thinking and a shift of focus away from all things COVID-19, but unless there is a reinvigoration of courage and ambition from the Prime Minister to put the UK's priorities first, then changing the mindset of those who sit around the cabinet table in Number 10 will mean very little. Even this past week, Boris Johnson has lowered expectations over commitments from foreign leaders for the COP26 Summit in November. He has also declared a trade deal with the USA is unlikely in the coming years. Such pessimism, even if it is aimed at trying to fool the media, can seep into government with devastating consequences and should be banished from Boris Johnson's mind, as it will do nothing to instil courage in his ministers and is sure to damage the potential of 'Global Britain'.

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