Sheffield MP unveils 64 ways to 'fix the broken Brexit deal' amid economic crisis
A group of MPs - including Sheffield’s Paul Blomfield - and business leaders have come up with 64 proposals to fix the ‘broken’ Brexit deal.
They claim the steps they have set out could repair the damage done by Brexit, which they say continues to ‘cost jobs and increase prices’ while causing an ‘ongoing crisis in the supply chain’.
The cross-party and cross-industry UK Trade and Business Commission says it spoke to 54 witnesses over 11 sessions, hearing more than 22 hours of oral testimony and receiving even more written evidence.
The proposals come as a poll by Opinium on behalf of pro-internationalism campaign Best for Britain shows just 15 per cent of people think Brexit has led to more benefits.
Paul Blomfield MP said: “The evidence we’ve heard from dozens of experts and businesses confirms that this deal is broken and will continue to create problems in our supply chain, cost jobs and increase prices across the UK.
“We’re calling on the Government now to work with business and our European neighbours to implement these reasonable improvements to their deal to support UK firms.”
The UK Trade and Business Commission is recommending:
• Relaunching the Brexit support fund with simpler applications and larger grants. The previous scheme paid out less than a third of the £20m allocated to it with the government missing its application target by more than half.
• Digitising checks for food exporters.
• Reducing the cost and complexity of the UK visa process. The cost of a visa for skilled workers and academics in the UK is roughly five times higher than competitors.
Conservative MP Roger Gale, who also sits on the Commission said unless action was taken, ‘we will continue to see more shutters come down and see Britain overtaken by international competitors where we were once leading the pack’.
He added: "That's why I urge my party colleagues in the government to seriously consider the suggestions we've made today and to move quickly to support businesses."
A UK Government spokesman said they had ‘always been clear’ Brexit would mean changes and business would need to adapt. Meanwhile, the ’excellent’ Trade and Cooperation Agreement provided for zero tariff, zero quota trade with the EU, while allowing the UK to regulate in a way that suits the economy and businesses, without being bound by EU rules.
He added: “We’ve always been clear that being outside the single market and the customs union would mean changes and businesses would need to adapt to new processes.
“That’s why we’re helping businesses get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe, including by running export helplines, offering support via our network of 300 international trade advisers and delaying full import controls.
“While the Covid pandemic continues to depress demand and affect supply, ONS statistics show that exports to the EU rose consistently in the first six months of this year”
Mr Blomfield responded saying trade hit a record low during lockdown three, which started in January, and had increased since then. But ‘it continues to slump overall’ falling sharply in July, with exports £1.7 billion lower than in the same period in 2018.
He added: “With all post-Brexit checks not yet in place, this problem is set to worsen unless the Government acts.”