My vote for the Brexit trade agreement
December 30, 2020
“Today, I will happily vote in favour of the trade and cooperation agreement the government has concluded with the EU, securing ongoing free trade and friendly collaboration with our European neighbours, while regaining full national independence, and allowing our country to seek out new opportunities in the wider world.
This sensible agreement draws a line under more than 4 years of debate and division in our society, and lays the foundations of a far more positive and healthy relationship with the Continent than the one we previously enjoyed as a reluctant member state, outside the Euro and fundamentally unhappy with the undemocratic EU drive towards ‘ever closer union’.
Throughout this process since June 2016, I have always been clear that the government had to 100% deliver on the referendum’s instruction to leave, while protecting our economy, ensuring the best opportunities for the next generation, and maintaining a close partnership with Europe to respect the fact nearly half the country voted to remain. I am satisfied that this is what the deal provides.
As the largest trade agreement either the EU or our country has ever signed, and the first trade deal based on zero tariffs and quotas the EU has ever agreed to, this is a genuinely historic achievement, and the government’s negotiating team deserve huge congratulations. Covering over £660 billion of trade, the agreement secures livelihoods and prosperity in York, nationwide, and across Europe, ensuring continued access to European markets for North Yorkshire’s food producers, and other major regional exporters.
Crucially, the deal secures this trade access without giving the EU any ability to write laws for the UK, ensuring we become fully legally independent of Brussels. There is no role for the European courts, and our new relationship is based on international, not EU law, with. independent arbitration of any disagreements.
The government deserve credit for negotiating hard to defeat EU attempts to give themselves the power to hit us with punitive tariff sanctions if we refused to copy their rules whenever they changed them, which could have given them the ability to effectively continue to write British laws. Instead, both sides have agreed a fair system, with equal rights to protect each party against unfair competition, subject to arbitration.
I am very glad to see the deal also makes provision for ongoing cooperation with Europe on crime and security, and ensures York holiday-makers will still be covered by arrangements similar to the current EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) scheme.
Given York’s universities and dynamic science and tech sector, I am reassured that we will continue to participate in the EU Horizon research and innovation programme, and the Copernicus satellite project.
The agreement also returns to us full control of our precious fisheries resources as an independent coastal state, with the EU having to hand back 25% of their current fish catch in our waters over a 5 year transition period, after which we will negotiate annually with the EU on what access they may have to our waters, like any normal independent country.
Given the economic impact of coronavirus, I am very glad our economy is safeguarded through this deal, and the fact it was negotiated in the teeth of a pandemic shows how we as a country can make big strides to improve our situation in the world, even in the most trying circumstances.
As the first nation on earth to roll out the vaccine, we already know we can excel when we have the freedom to do things differently. The trade agreements the government has now secured with countries as far afield as Japan, Canada and Turkey should give us confidence that we can make a success of our new independence, and I expect the government to put the same energy into assisting businesses to adapt to new trading arrangements outside the EU.
We now have the opportunity to be both a European and a more global country, something a confident, creative city like York should take in its stride. Amidst the gloom of coronavirus, trade-driven prosperity and international collaboration are essential to getting us back to normality, and this deal is an important step on that road, while ensuring we remain in control of our own destiny.”