No-deal Brexit amid Covid risks utter disaster – Scotsman comment
UK Government must not add to the serious economic problems caused by Covid by allowing a no-deal Brexit.
After the “fraught” high-level Brexit meeting ended, one side reportedly declared it to be a “washout” and expressed fears they were being set up to be “the fall guys”. While this may sound like a description of talks between the EU and the UK Government, it actually refers to a meeting between the latter and British industry representatives.
Their concerns about the looming end of the transition period on 31 December are far from misplaced. In a letter to the freight industry obtained by BBC News, Cabinet minister Michael Gove warned that exporters to the EU could face queues of a mind-boggling 7,000 trucks in Kent. Gove, who is responsible for no-deal Brexit planning, also noted the possibility that rising Covid-19 cases in winter could mean fewer port and border staff to process the necessary documentation causing further delays.
Brexit was a mistake, but it was one that was approved by a narrow majority in the 2016 referendum; a no-deal Brexit would be sheer folly and is absolutely not what the British public voted for four years ago; a no-deal Brexit in the midst of a deadly pandemic and the biggest recession in living memory would be a disaster, inflicting a devastating blow to this country’s economy from which it may struggle to recover for years to come. Just this week, the UK in a Changing Europe think tank warned that while a no-deal Brexit would not cause the same sudden impact as Covid, its cost to the economy could be two to three times greater in the long term.
We are already facing what is being described as a tsunami of job losses because of the pandemic. For a UK Government to follow a course of action which is certain to add to that number is an absolute disgrace. They risk creating a long-lasting downturn that leads to social unrest and the kind of conditions upon which political extremists thrive.
Apparently still blinded by the political dogma of yesteryear, Boris Johnson does not seem to realise the obvious solution is to delay the end of the transition period until a trade deal can be agreed. This would, hopefully, at least avoid the kind of mistakes he belatedly decided had been made in the Withdrawal Agreement. Johnson clearly did not want to tighten the lockdown but did so for the good of the nation despite grumbles from some of his supporters. Now he must open his eyes, expend more of his political capital and save the country from an act of wilful self-harm.
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