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2 hours ago

Norfolk for Europe

Letter from Clive Lewsi to a constituent.

Dear ***

Thank you for contacting me about the outbreak of COVID-19 and the possibility of an extension to the Brexit transition period.
The coronavirus crisis is the biggest we have faced in several generations. Public health and safety must come first, with action guided by medical and scientific evidence. It is vital that the Government shows the leadership this outbreak demands. All its efforts must be channelled into protecting people’s health, well-being and livelihoods.
I am aware of reports that the Government could ask for an extension to the Brexit transition period due to the difficulties in carrying out negotiations with the EU under current circumstances. I am also aware of appeals from different groups and campaigners for such an extension. This includes a call from the freight industry, which has said the challenges posed by COVID-19 make the effective implementation of any new legislation impossible in the short term, as well as a petition on the UK Government and Parliament petitions website, which has been signed by over 20,000 people.
The Government states that its preparations for the end of the transition period continue as normal and that the date for the end of the transition is enshrined in UK law.
I believe it was a serious mistake for the Government to set the date of 31 December 2020 in law as the end of the transition period and to prohibit itself from requesting an extension. It was warned during debates on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill that by doing so it was boxing itself in, setting up the risk of a damaging no deal Brexit. It is deeply disappointing that it chose to reject proposals to give Parliament a role in deciding on an extension to avoid leaving the transition period without an agreement on the future UK-EU relationship. This would have been a cautious insurance policy, giving the Government the flexibility to deal with any challenges that came up and provide the certainty that businesses and the economy need.
Our priority at this time must be to focus on stopping the spread of coronavirus and protecting individuals and businesses from its impacts. Therefore, I believe that they must drop the futile transition date of the 31 December, and give both ourselves and the EU the real time that we need to establish the best deal available in the coming years, once the extent and impact of coronavirus is known. I assure you I will do all I can to raise this issue with the government.
Thank you once again for contacting me.
Yours sincerely,
Clive Lewis
Labour MP for Norwich South
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5 days ago

Norfolk for Europe

January seems a long way away, but it isn't!

Do you live in Chloe Smith's constituency? The European Movement has identified her as a 'target MP' for their current #pausethetransitionperiod campaign.

Chloe is very keen on local businesses, and may respond to pressure on that issue.

See norfolk4europe.org/not-another-one/ for information and guidance on writing to MPs and the local press.
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6 days ago

Norfolk for Europe

From Twitter, just now. ... See MoreSee Less

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6 days ago

Norfolk for Europe

Today UK in a Changing Europe held an online panel session to review the state of the negotiations. Here are my notes of the key points.

Participants were: Catherine Barnard (Cambridge), Anand Menon and Gill Rutter (UK in a Changing Europe), Ian Martin (Times), Katya Adler (BBC Europe),

Negotiations: Trade negotiations are likely to run past June – both sides want a deal by some means, but very difficult to see any legal route to extend after 30th June

The issues are not economic – they are political - sovereignty v integrity of the single market

For the EU, if the UK has a special deal, others will want to follow. EU is very resistant to multiple deals – they don’t want to replicate Switzerland (with 150 separate agreements)

Lockdown is hindering negotiations 250 people on each side, dozens of working groups. Inability to have informal conversations. Less accessible to journalists. There will be problems about the implementation timescale if decisions are made after June.

Since Brexit economic impact is smaller than Covid19 the UK is willing to press ahead, if necessary to no deal

The more elaborate and complex the deal the more likely that it will need ratifying by all the 30+ national and regional parliaments

Very difficult to predict future – probably negotiations will continue into Autumn, but uncertainty about Covid19 and economic situation makes it unpredictable

Deal breakers remain on fishing and level playing field

On fish the issue is political (“our fish”, history and tradition) not primarily economic – the 8 coastal states resisted Commission suggestions of softening EU position. Fishing industry is more willing to be flexible than Ministers.

Impact on Scottish election in 2021 is important in fishing debates

Implications of No Deal very severe for Northern Ireland

Services. Extraordinary that negotiations have paid little attention to the 80% of UK/EU trade which is in financial and business services (WTO rules only involve goods).

Services is mainly about regulation – sensitive because rules raise issues of sovereignty. Negotiations have neglected the role of interdependence - most issues can be “win-win”.

UK wants more on financial services and audiovisual media than Canada

On recognition of qualifications EU will offer third country equivalence (but this means that both parties can decide independently)

On financial services a deal is likely, probably brokered by central banks who need it

On business services, position is much less clear – implies issues about visas, qualifications, ability to trade

On security there is clear advantage to cooperation for both sides, and EU wants us as allies in a potentially hostile global politics, given shared history and values. However, the issue is political, and governance is difficult, since some cooperation depends on the authority of the ECJ. In recent years there has been strengthening of bilateral working (e.g. UK/France)

Compromise difficulties:

For EU, deciding which member states will take a hit for the overall deal

For UK, deciding which sectors will take the hit for the overall deal

Not sure that all the workstreams can be pursued to the end of the year – some issues may be parked.

Dominic Cummings is seen in the Conservative Party as the custodian of the mission. Johnson is the figurehead. If both were to fall, the mission would pass to Gove and Frost.
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