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OPINION: Michael Gove MP - Outside the EU, a bright future awaits Britain

The government is investing in new infrastructure to prepare the UK for the end of the transition period with the EU - Michael Gove writes for the Telegraph.

 

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

 

Leaving the European Union is, I’ve often argued, a bit like moving house. Instead of being lodgers under someone else’s roof we are choosing a new place in the world where we’re in control. Four years after we made the decision to leave the EU, the reasons for moving are stronger than ever. Taking back control of our economy means we can put in place the right measures for our Covid recovery.

Taking back control of the money we send to Brussels means we can spend it on our priorities: investing in the NHS, spreading opportunity more equally across the UK and strengthening our Union. We can build a trading relationship with our European neighbours that serves all our interests and develop new economic partnerships across the world.

The deal the Prime Minister struck last year, and which the country backed in the general election, ensured we left the EU in January and means we can look forward with confidence to the end of the transition period on December 31. But, just like a house move, we need to make sure all the practical arrangements for our new future are in place.

Everyone has their part to play, starting with the government.

That’s why on we’re investing £705 million to make sure our borders are ready for full independence. We’re investing in new infrastructure, more jobs and better technology to help goods move smoothly, make our country more secure and our citizens safer. The money will ensure that Great Britain’s new borders will be ready when the UK takes back control on January 1 2021, and will also lay the foundations for us to build the world’s most effective border by 2025.

Modernising our border means we can introduce a migration policy that ensures we’re open to the world’s best talent. A new points-based immigration system will ensure we can attract the scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs who can power future economic growth. It will also help us ensure our NHS has the very best professionals from across the world working in our hospitals. And the new technology we’re introducing will allow us to monitor with far greater precision exactly who, and what, is coming in and out of the country, enabling us to deal more effectively with organised crime and other security threats.

Alongside the investment we are making in infrastructure we’re also launching a major new public information campaign, “The UK’s new start: let’s get going” to give everyone the facts we need to be ready for January 1 2021. Whether you’re the managing director of a multinational conglomerate or a family business; a UK citizen resident in the EU or planning to work abroad, the new campaign will clearly set out the steps that will help this big change go as smoothly as possible.

A straightforward checker tool at gov.uk/transition will quickly identify the specific steps any business or individual needs to take to be ready, and will allow companies and citizens to sign up for bespoke updates. Taking these steps will equip everyone for this new chapter in our country’s story.

Helping businesses adjust to life outside the EU Customs Union will enable them to more easily access the new opportunities being an independent trading nation will bring, such as those presented by trade deals with the Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other growing Pacific economies as well as deeper ties with North America and the developing world.

We’re negotiating hard, of course, to get the best possible trading relationship with our neighbours in the EU but we won’t back down on the essential principles the country voted for when we chose to leave. We won’t accept control of our laws by the EU or allow our new-found independence to be compromised. Whatever the nature of our trading relationship with the EU we’ll be outside the single market and the customs union – and that means the preparations for new export arrangements and new border processes will be needed whatever the negotiations bring.

These have been challenging times for our country, but, as the Chancellor reminded us this week, government can help lay the foundations for recovery and future growth. That’s what we’re doing this week as we prepare for our new life fully outside the EU. We’re building the border that allows us to take back control. Let’s get going.

IoD figures on firms' Brexit readiness

Only a quarter of business leaders say their organisations are fully ready for the end of the Brexit transition period, in a new survey from the Institute of Directors published toda

Nearly half of the 978 company directors polled in late June said they weren’t able to prepare right now, with one in seven distracted by coronavirus and almost a third saying they needed the details of any changes to be clear before adjusting. Those in the financial sector were most likely to be ready while manufacturers in particular had more to do. Directors in services felt especially unable to prepare at present, whether due to pressures of the pandemic or because they needed more clarity on changes.

The vast majority (69%) said that reaching a deal was important for their organisation, with even more (89%) saying it was important for the economy as a whole as it recovers. Even among the portion of directors who favoured being able to diverge from EU rules, most (71%) said that getting a deal was important to the economy.

The Institute argued that time to adjust once changes are clear would be vital to business recovery, deal or no deal. It called on the UK and EU to commit to a reciprocal, phased implementation wherever possible, and for the UK government to provide greater clarity on its contingency plans in the event of a no deal.

To minimise disruption in the context of coronavirus, the IoD also reiterated its call for financial support for small firms to access specialist help and advice on a range of Brexit impact areas, for instance in the form of tax credits or ‘Brexit vouchers’ to follow in the footsteps of other EU countries.

 

Jonathan_Geldart_Director_General_of_the_Institute_of_Directors.jpg

Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“With so much going on, many directors feel that preparing for Brexit proper is like trying to hit a moving target. Jumping immediately into whatever comes next would be a nightmare for many businesses.

“A commitment to some form of reciprocal phasing-in of changes once clear is a long-standing ask from our members, and the benefits would be significant. At a time when government is rightly straining every sinew to help firms deal with widespread disruption, it would be counterproductive not to seek to minimise it at the end of the year.

“Unilateral actions like staggering import controls would be a welcome step from Government, but are by no means enough, we need to mitigate disruption across many different sectors on both sides. A phased implementation is in everyone’s interests, and direct financial support for smaller firms would be a huge boost at a difficult time.

“Directors want to take advantage of the opportunities that can come with an independent trade policy. They want to start this exciting new chapter on the front foot, not distracted by disruption.”

Full survey results

978 respondents, conducted between 12-29 June 2020.

The UK is currently negotiating a new relationship with the EU after Brexit, which is due to come into force when the current 'status quo' transition period ends in December. The government has said it does not intend to extend the transition period.  How prepared do you feel your organisation is for any changes arising from this?

We are fully prepared

24%

We are somewhat prepared but intend to do more

19%

We can't focus on Brexit due to the impact of coronavirus on my organisation

14%

We will adjust once final changes are clear

31%

We don't expect Brexit to impact my organisation

11%

Don't know

2%

How important is it that the government reaches a deal with the EU for:

 

Your organisation

the UK Economy

Very important

34%

65%

Somewhat important

35%

24%

Not very important

19%

7%

Not important

11%

4%

Don't know

1%

1%

In light of the pandemic, what are your views on the UK's future economic relationship with the EU in your industry/sector, with regards to the trade off between EU trade and being able to diverge from EU rules?

I think prioritising EU trade is more important than being able to diverge from EU rules

57%

I think being able to diverge from EU rules is more important than prioritising EU trade

36%

Don't know

7%

[selected breakdowns]

How important is it that the government reaches a deal with the EU for:

Your organisation:

 

 

Overall

Small

Medium

Large

Very important

34%

34%

31%

39%

Somewhat important

35%

34%

40%

36%

Not very important

19%

20%

17%

14%

Not important at all

11%

12%

11%

10%

Don't know

1%

0%

1%

1%

         


The UK Economy:

 

 

Overall

Small

Medium

Large

Very important

65%

64%

62%

68%

Somewhat important

24%

24%

25%

22%

Somewhat unimportant

7%

7%

10%

5%

Very unimportant

4%

4%

2%

5%

Don’t know

1%

1%

1%

0%

Phase 3 Update from FM

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed Scotland is moving to Phase 3 of route map out of lockdown.

 

Nicola-Sturgeon-First-Minister

Some of the main points:

Public transport, retail and hospitality have exemption from 2-metre rule (one metre distancing and other measures in place). But in other circumstances Scotland keeps 2-metre social distancing.

 

Face coverings mandatory in shops from tomorrow. Nicola Sturgeon says wearing them on public transport should become as automatic as wearing a seatbelt in a car.

 

From July 10th:

People shielding no longer asked to physically distance from people they live with, and can form extended household if live alone or with children under the age of 18

Max 15 people from up to 5 different households can meet together outdoors.

Max 8 people, from up to 3 different households can meet indoors

 

From Monday 13 July:

Organised outdoor contact sports and physical activity can resume for children and young people.

Non-essential shops inside shopping centres can re-open.

Community optometry practices increase services and dental practices can see more patients.

Women can designate one other person (as well as birth partner) to attend birth and make ante and post natal ward visits.

 

From Wednesday 15 July:

Indoor restaurants, cafes and pubs will be able to reopen.

All holiday lets inc hotels re-open, and also museums, galleries, other visitor attractions, libraries and cinemas, including drive-ins and other venues screening films.

Hairdressers can also re-open from 15 July, with extra safety measures.

Childcare sector fully re-opens.

Places of worship (strict numbers on people attending & no singing or chanting) re-open.

Restrictions on attendance at services and ceremonies for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also ease.

 

From 22 July:

Beauticians and nail salons can re-open.

Universities and colleges can begin to resume on-campus learning.

Motorcycle lessons can restart, but not driving lessons / tests.

 

BUT the following Phase 3 measures will NOT restart before 31 July:

Reopening non-essential offices and call centres.

Outdoor live events.

Indoor entertainment venues such as theatres, music venues and bingo halls.

Indoor gyms and non-professional adult outdoor contact sports will not restart before 31 July.

 

South West parliamentarians comment on Chancellor's Summer Statement

Following on from the Chancellor's statement the Conservative MPs and MSP's have shared their views on the announcements - 

 

Alister Jack SOS

Scottish Secretary and Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor to support the country’s post-coronavirus economic recovery delivers for all parts of the UK. 

"There have been calls from the devolved administration in Scotland for the UK Government spend £80 billion across the UK - we are actually spending £160 billion on our economic recovery.

“The UK Government’s ambitious plan for jobs, with its strong emphasis on our young people, is great news for young Scots.

“The VAT cut for tourism and hospitality will be a huge boost for Scotland. It is now absolutely essential that Scotland’s world-class tourism and hospitality industry can properly open for business. 

“The stamp duty cut gives a helping hand to the housing market and building trades in England. I urge the devolved administration to use their powers to do the same in Scotland.

“And, thanks to UK Government spending decisions in the rest of the UK, Holyrood will get a £800 million cash boost, bringing their total addition coronavirus support funding to £4.6 billion. 

“The Chancellor has set out a fantastic package of support. The devolved administration now need to play its part and show they are serious about Scotland’s economic recovery.”

.....

 

David Mundell 2018

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell said: "I welcome this timely and substantial funding package, which will build on the foundations laid by the massive earlier investment aimed at securing jobs, including measures aimed at helping young people into work and supporting the UK economy through this difficult period.

"The VAT cuts in tourism and hospitality sectors will benefit many businesses across my constituency and I'd also urge restaurant, cafes and bars to the incentives schemes to encourage people to eat out again.

"The cut in VAT to 5 per cent for restaurants, pubs, cafes and other attractions among others will help give Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sector hope that they will still salvage a summer season and retain jobs."

.....

 

Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell said: "The extra £800 million cash heading directly to the Scottish Government, will bring their coronavirus support fund to £4.6 billion.

"It is vital that support such as the stamp duty cut in England is matched by the raising of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax threshhold north of the border.

"This is especially important in our area where people  have  the choice not buy a home on either side of the border.

"The SNP Scottish Government now must now use these new funds wisely to the maximise Scotland's economic recovery."

SCC Comment on Scottish Air Bridge Plans

Commenting on the list of countries identified as ‘air bridges’ by the Scottish Government announced today (8th July), Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

“Businesses across Scotland will be relieved that we now know which countries tourists will be able to travel to without having to go into quarantine. This will enable our travel and tourism industry to start taking bookings once again.

“We are pleased to see the list of countries are broadly aligned with the UK Government and we appreciate the rationale presented as to why Spain is not currently included. We are reassured by the First Minister's commitment to keep this under daily review in an attempt to identify additional mitigation measures which could be adopted quickly. We need to see Spain added to the list safely and quickly, not only for the aviation and tourism industry but also for moving freight and exports.

“Spain is an important market for Scotland and figures from VisitScotland showed visitors from Spain spent just under £80m in 2018. Business has the expertise to work with government to identify and implement additional mitigation measures to enable the restart of this important tourist and trade route, especially during the peak summer period.”