- The “land of milk and honey Brexiteers promised” has quickly turned out to be an illusion, Layla Moran MP writes for Business Insider.
- The Lib Dem MP says sectors including financial services and creative industries are already hurting as a result of the vote, with more damage to come.
- The money spent on trying to make a success of Brexit would be better spent on the NHS and funding the police, she argues.
- Moran says Brits must be given a vote on the deal Theresa May brings back from Brussels.
- Britain must ditch Brexit and resume its “rightful place as a country that leads rather than recedes from the world,” she adds.
The recent Fishing for Leave action provided a fitting summary of the Brexit process so far. The demonstration saw a boat set alight to protest the betrayal of promises made to British fishermen by Brexiteer MPs who had cynically appropriated their concerns for political gain. And that was before news had emerged of Theresa May trying to use British waters as a bargaining chip for a better deal in negotiations with Denmark and Sweden.
Anger towards those negotiating the terms of our exit from the EU is widespread. The creative industries, a source of optimism in recent years owing to, among other things, a resurgence on the world stage of British music, have come out foursquare against Brexit. Meanwhile, statements from key figures within the automotive and aerospace industry have kiboshed the pipe dream that leaving the EU will spark a modern industrial revolution, seeing Britain return to its Victorian zenith as the “workshop of the world.”
Indeed, one industry where we do, for now, hold a comparative advantage – financial services – is likely to be hit hard by Brexit: on Monday, for example, it was revealed that nearly 20 UK banks had told German officials they planned to move their operations over to Frankfurt after Brexit in order to maintain frictionless access to the EU market. Not exactly the land of milk and honey Brexiteers promised in 2016.
And that’s the biggest problem with Brexit. Over the past two decades, a number of wrong turns have been taken by British policy-makers, be that deregulating banks or severely cutting Government spending on schools, hospitals and policing. But Brexit stands in the way of us finding a genuine answer to these issues.
Let’s stop paying for Brexit departments and fund our NHS instead.
Just take the recent knife crime epidemic that has seen 35 killed in London alone since the beginning of this year. Despite the Home Secretary’s desperate attempt to justify cuts to police services, there is no doubt that the Government’s decision to remove 20,000 police officers from our streets has had a big part to play in allowing gang members to feel confident carrying dangerous weapons.
But things don’t have to be this way: the Institute for Government think-tank calculated that just over £364 million was spent on the six agencies most involved in Brexit during the 2017/18 financial year. That’s the equivalent of paying for 16,935 new police officers.
The same point can be made about the NHS. While we’re paying David Davis and Liam Fox to jet around the world trying to make up for losses in EU trade, one of Britain’s greatest-ever institutions is strained to breaking point. Hospitals don’t have enough beds, staff shortages are being exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding what Brexit means for EU nationals and our ability to access new cancer treatments is under threat. To swipe a Leave line: let’s stop paying for Brexit departments and fund our NHS instead.
Brexit stops Britain from being Great Britain. We boast of being one of the oldest democracies in existence and it is a point of pride for many of us that British society represents a beacon of hope for repressed peoples living in authoritarian states around the world. But in light of recent cheating allegations made by whistleblowers working for and with the Leave campaign, that reputation is now at risk.
Instead of watching this Brexit debacle unfold while wringing our hands, let us instead dare to dream again. The people of Britain are global leaders and rule-makers with the ability to change the world. We should be right in the thick of European politics instigating and coordinating Europe-wide responses to incidents like the Salisbury attack, and letting the US know that not only will we be giving chlorinated chicken a pass, but they should too. That’s what leaders do.
It’s not too late, but we do need to act soon to exploit the vast potential here in the UK. There is a future brighter than Brexit. Now more than ever we need a People’s Vote on whatever paltry deal the Government cobbles together and campaign to remain. Only then can we resume our rightful place as a country that leads rather than recedes from the world.
Layla Moran is the Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and a leading supporter of Best For Britain.
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