|Next, we come to fishing, where the Government has been stuck in neutral. The current ban on live UK shellfish exports to the EU is a monumental slap in the face from those in Brussels. Even as I write, EU boats are coming into UK waters to catch the very same seafood they are now banning our fishermen from exporting, and they are then taking it back to EU markets. This is beyond unreasonable. What’s more, since the EU made clear its plans to make this ban permanent, the UK has continued to give out permits to EU vessels to allow them to continue fishing in UK waters! This is something which must be stopped immediately, as there is no reason EU fishermen should not face consequences for their Government’s actions. You can be sure if it was the other way around, the EU would have banned UK boats in a flash. Why is our Government so slow to act? The ‘Mr Nice Guy’ approach clearly isn’t working, so a change is needed – and fast.
What somehow makes this worse is the fact we all knew these disputes would happen. It wasn’t exactly hard to predict when you look at how the EU has behaved for the last 5 years. Yet despite this, the Government did not seem to be ready. On the most basic level, the UK is yet to appoint any representatives to the 19 specialised committees created in the new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). It is these committees which are meant to help work out how to implement the trade deal. So why were they not operational from Day One on January 1st?
The only progress has been the new appointment of Lord David Frost, the UK’s former Chief Brexit Negotiator, who is now a new Minister of State for the Cabinet Office. His responsibilities will be leading the UK’s future relationship with the EU as well as identifying areas of regulation we can cut and how we can optimise Brexit. In taking on this position Lord Frost has effectively removed Michael Gove from his involvement in Brexit – something which was undoubtedly necessary because, as we have seen from the problems explained above, his work on both Northern Ireland and our EU relationship with the EU in general, has simply not been up to scratch and he has been unable to secure any successes for the UK.
The role also means Lord Frost will take over from Michael Gove in being the UK’s representative to both the UK-EU Joint Committee (which governs the Withdrawal Agreement) and the UK-EU Partnership Council (which oversees the work of all 19 specialised committees created in the TCA). The Joint Committee is due to meet next week, so it will be interesting to see whether it is Frost or Gove who attend this one! This is a new Senior Cabinet position which for months we at Get Britain Out have suggested the PM should create in order to streamline the response to Brexit, and this now means Lord Frost will have a large amount of autonomy in shaping the UK’s future.
While we believe Lord Frost will do a good job – and he certainly performed admirably as Chief Brexit Negotiator – the problem is, he is unelected and the UK public has no means of holding him to account if he does not perform well. Frankly, we didn’t leave the EU only for more unelected officials to take some of the most important roles within this country.
On an issue much closer to home for all of us, we at Get Britain Out have been joining calls for the Government to back a ‘Buy British’ campaign to help get the economy back on its feet and end the UK’s dependence on imported food, which is vulnerable to restrictions from foreign powers. For example, at the moment we import 80% of the fish and shellfish we eat, but also export 80% of the fish and shellfish which we catch. Why is the Government allowing so much UK produce to leave these shores? Isn’t it time for the Government to introduce a new Law which forces supermarkets to stock more UK goods? Let’s give the pounds in our pockets (when we have any) to UK businesses, instead of letting our money go straight into the pockets of foreign producers. It should also mean more trade for individual food shops on the high street buying local food from local suppliers. UK fishermen and farmers should not be forced to sell their products at a reduced rate simply to make ends meet. Thankfully even without Government support, this mentality is starting to take hold in the public, with a recent poll finding over 33% of UK shoppers say they are no longer buying goods from the EU. However, more can and must be done.
Over in the EU things have really have taken a strange turn, where even Guy Verhofstadt is criticising the EU’s vaccine procurement and rollout programme. However, as usual his solution is more control from Brussels and not less! According to him the EU could have performed better if it behaved more like a Nation State and if individual Member States had not got in the way. The man is truly delusional and this shows exactly why we got out of the EU just in time.
Another intrigue which arose on the Continent this week is the rumour the EU’s former Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, is going to try and run to be the President of France. This would seem a rather odd decision if it happens, as French President Emmanuel Macron’s obsession with the EU is growing ever more unpopular. Something tells us the French public won’t want an ex-EU bureaucrat – even if he is French – as their next President. However, I look forward to any attempt by Barnier to run – and his likely failure due to the increasing possibility of Frexit. This is something I am sure we can all enjoy.
Back in Number 10 – while Boris Johnson has been fumbling about for the keys to help get the UK economy unlocked – we have seen far too many stories in the media about power struggles within Downing Street, with Boris’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, at the heart of many disputes. We have this to say to the Prime Minister here: “Please get yourself sorted out, and stop allowing yourself to be pushed around by those around you. Civil Servants, Special Advisors and your fiancée are not in charge of this country. It is time we had some real leadership!”