There are many things that may tickle your goat regarding Brexit. This last week has shown a profound lack of understanding of the difference between the single market and customs union. Losing access to Galileo and the attendant data maps is an ongoing embarrassment to a country that prides itself on its cutting edge technological capabilities. And since the Home Office throws away the landing documents of entire generations of immigrants, doubts on its ability to manage the rights of EU citizens alongside us seem increasingly pressing.
Where to find these stories? Follow our Brexit Bulletin, which now comes out as a weekly blog here.
2.Explain your concern
Explain the concern in general terms and then explain why you specifically have decided to write about it. For example, indicate that you are concerned about the number of nurses leaving the UK in conjunction with the crisis surrounding care for the elderly. This underlines the fact that Brexit will have huge repercussions that the Brextremists have failed to consider time and time again.
Being worried about a broad issue like ‘the economy’ makes it easier for someone to brush your concerns aside by picking any one part that is doing well and citing this as a reason not to worry. For example, ask directly about the falling foreign direct investment (which in 2016 was the lowest since records began according to the Office for National Statistics and which was only propped up in 2017 by two merger deals according to the Financial Times). This makes it harder for someone to dismiss you by citing the growth in the 3D printing industry to reassure that all is well.
4.Ask for action
Tell your Member of Parliament exactly what it is that you want them to do. After you have raised a concern which is relevant to you and backed it up by specific information, suggest to the MP what it is that they could to help. This could range from meeting industry leaders to writing to David Davis to asking questions during an upcoming vote.
5. "I'm writing as part of the 74,000 Campaign."
We want to ensure that every member of the electorate of Harpenden and Hitchin is heard on the issue of Brexit. So when you write to Bim, include a sentence in your letter that your're writing as part of the campaign. And if you bcc firstname.lastname@example.org you get bonus points because we can track the numbers contacting Bim on the subject.
6. Remain Polite
Remember that a Member of Parliament, any Member of Parliament, works hard. Though they work at the direction of the electorate they do so in the way that they think best. This won’t always match what you think. Regardless, you should write to them with the same tone you would expect to read in their reply.
So the latest idea about a tolerable Brexit is a customs union. What would that be like?
Well we still would be able to benefit from the greater negotiating power of 27 countries rather than the fancifully pathetic expectations of just one country relying on a trade minister with nothing to show for 18 months of trying.
But the logistics would be a nightmare.
I'm assuming Mrs May isn't thinking European Free Trade Area style customs union since that requires free movement of people and we've already decided we want a shortage of medical staff in the NHS.
So that must mean Turkey is the model. Turkish products are inside a customs union but they still have to queue for 7km at the Bulgarian border for permits to enter. And they need a separate permit for every country they intend to travel through. And often there aren't enough on the shelf at the customs post, which then means they have to put their lorries on a train through Austria. And several countries are now starting to ration Turkish permits.
You can just see it now on the M20. Eddie Stobart queuing for miles on the inside lane while Norbert Dentressangle is waved through on the outside.
Customs union. Better than trusting in Liam Fox as a negotiator, but not by much.
Similar information was conveyed in a recent FT article that requires a subscription to view.
By the time you read this, it is anyone’s guess what US President Donald J. Trump’s view on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is. During his election campaign, he lambasted TTP as one of the worst agreements America had ever joined. Next, he ordered his advisers to look at ways of re-joining TPP. Why is this relevant for Brexit?
The context is that TTP was a key Obama policy initiative designed to increase US Trade and counter the strategic influence of China in APAC. Trump spent much of his candidacy railing against TPP and he withdrew in one of the first acts of his presidency.
But several factors made him rethink his course. Because the facts changed. And this is a direct parallel to Brexit. Meaning we should invite our own leaders to rethink the direction Britain is taking.
The agricultural sector, a key economic unit, is being hit by a double Trump-trade whammy. Farmers would have benefited from greater access to APAC under TPP, which is no longer going to happen. Plus, it is estimated that US exports of soybeans to the huge Chinese market could fall by over 50% due to higher China tariffs. Add in the pressure on Republicans in the upcoming mid-terms and there is a clear incentive for Trump to appease his core farmer support base.
The other factor could be the loss of strategic influence for the US. Contrary to many expectations, TPP did not fall apart once the US withdrew. TPP members are now being courted by China which is promoting itself as the guardian of free trade.
Trump previously argued that he would only rejoin TPP if the US could re-enter with much improved terms. However, there is no indication this is likely to happen. Other TPP members have shown willingness to allow the US to rejoin. But only on substantially similar terms. Is Trump now realising that, once it withdraws from trade pacts, its ability to influence trade policy is greatly reduced?
There are obvious parallels for the UK post-Brexit. If Trump can contemplate rejoining TPP, could Brexiteers stomach rejoining the EU Single Market which governs over 60% of UK trade? Leaving the Single Market will have far greater implications for UK trade and strategic influence than even TPP or NAFTA for the US. If Trump can reason, so too must our government.
The construction industry in Harpenden is looking to be hit by a perfect storm as a result in Brexit. The triple whammy is: a reduced flow of buyers moving in to the area, rapidly rising raw material costs, and a vanishing labour force. Phil Murray explains.
Uncertainty about the future of the London financial sector is already causing a slow down of the flow of affluent city worker families to Harpenden. Where once the move to our lovely town and its lovely schools would have been automatic when the eldest offspring was "rising five", the attitude now seems to be "let's hold off till we see if we still have a job" resulting in an unfamiliar glut of family houses in North Harpenden and elsewhere. Housebuilders, large and small, are reviewing their strategy.
Meanwhile, as a result of the instant devaluation of sterling following the referendum, construction materials have seen a 15% rise in the last 18 months, significantly faster than retail inflation, but perhaps a portent of what will happen in other sectors less immediately dependent upon imports. With narrow margins on top of our stellar land prices in Harpenden, it is getting harder to make a profit on building houses here.
But if we do start projects, where do we get the labour? Estimates from key construction professionals in the town suggest that up to 40% of site labour is migrants from continental Europe, but many are already drifting home as their home economies are doing better than before and their UK wages don't buy what they used to back home. Our domestic construction labour force is ageing, and the apprenticeship levy doesn't seem to have any traction in encouraging youngsters to enter the industry.
Motorhomes anyone? Oh, no, they come from Germany and France and are now much more expensive too!
Harpenden for Europe brings you the Brexit news, condensed.
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