Section: Brexit

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Review: James O’Brien, How not to be wrong

Jayson Winters

Many will know of James O’Brien from his national 10am to 1pm weekday radio show on LBC. To borrow one of his phrases, “depending on which football shirt you are wearing” you’ll probably either think of him as a champion of progressive politics or a patronising woke lefty.  But look back to when LBC was […]

Midlands farming sold out: ‘it’s crass and it’s wrong’

Simon Ferrigno

Stanley has farmed 700 acres of land with his parents for the past 12 years in the region. The farm is a mixed arable and beef and mainly tenanted farm on which the family have native longhorn cattle, a breed that was classed as rare until recently. Stanley clearly loves his cattle, and talks with passion about the many dozens of native sheep and cattle breeds that hover near extinction. He fears a Free trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia, said to offer Australia zero tariffs and quotas, will tip these breeds over the edge alongside most of the people who rear them.

The Midlands After Brexit

Cliff Mitchell

Trade figures recently released for the first quarter of 2021 (1Q2021) provide worrying clues as to the impact of both COVID-19 and Brexit on the Midlands economy. One thing that is clear is that long-term planning has never been harder – previous economic trends have been blown out of the water by the pandemic lockdowns, the uncertainty of the transition period, and the confusion of post-Brexit trading.

The citizens who stayed

Alice Knight

I am lucky enough here in Derbyshire to have my post delivered by someone who came to England from Poland in 2005. He is courteous, friendly and helpful. I have often wondered what his impressions are of life in the UK, especially how he had been impacted by the Brexit experience.

A Union disunited?

James Lindsay

Although one seat short of a majority, the SNP performance at the recent Scottish Parliament election should not be underestimated nor its implications for the future of the UK. The hybrid list-constituency electoral system in Scotland was specifically designed to prevent Westminster-style one-party dominance and yet despite that the SNP came so very close.

The day the music died

Ann C Holland

The stark change to the lives of the UK’s musicians and actors is heartbreaking. Prior to 31 December 2020, lockdown aside, a musician could jump onto Eurostar, pass speedily into France or Belgium and carry their instrument without paperwork, tariffs or red tape to their venue. Maybe for a week, maybe for a whole season. Post-Brexit, only 90 days is permissible.

Adapting to life as a business in a third country: Aztec Oils

Simon Ferrigno

The post-Brexit transition period continues to hurt businesses across our region, with many losing orders and/or moving operations elsewhere to reduce the friction, costing our region future jobs and growth. In this new interview, we talk to Mark Lord of Aztec Oils, a specialist lubricant oil company based in Bolsover, Derbyshire, founded in 1995. It […]

Changes to EU citizens’ rights should concern us all

Mark Vaughan

For decades, EU citizens had the right under EU free movement law to live their lives in the UK but now must ask for permission to continue to do so by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme. From today, they only have 90 days left until the application deadline of 30 June, after which many […]

Where are you on rejoin?

Cliff Mitchell
Where are you on rejoin? Cliff Mitchell For many of us, it is axiomatic that leaving the EU was a huge mistake that will damage our country and diminish our rights as citizens. Our future, we believe, must be as part of the EU so we can work together to address the very real and massive issues we face nationally and internationally. The UK has the potential to be a real force for good in the world but not if we continue down a path of right-wing populism and English exceptionalism. Some argue that now is not the time to campaign to rejoin the EU: it’s too soon, people have had enough of Brexit, we’ll be branded as sore ‘Remoaners’, we have to be patient, it’s going to be a long process to persuade public opinion of the case for rejoining. Others argue that if we believe our future lies with the EU, we should say so now, loudly and clearly, giving like-minded people a rallying voice and hope for a better tomorrow. Experience of street campaigning over recent years does suggest one thing: being crystal clear about your own position leads to a much more constructive debate with those who disagree. Your arguments are easily undermined if your position is unclear or ambiguous. Arguing for a People’s Vote for example was unconvincing and easily dismissed if you were unwilling to be clear about your own position on remain versus leave. It’s also hard to be passionate about an ambiguous position. The Leave campaign was successful based on stirring people’s emotions rather than presenting data and rational argument and there is still plenty of passion generated by Brexit just waiting to be channelled. Can that passion be sustained over a long, steady campaign for gradual, closer alignment with the EU? Will it burn itself out in a short rejoin now campaign that may not be successful? If we believe in the UK as a constructive partner in the biggest peace project in history, in working together with diverse people to make the world a better place, that the UK belongs at the heart of the EU, but we don’t say so, are we being dishonest and even unprincipled, leaving like-minded people feeling isolated? We are not politicians, probably don’t want to be, and shouldn’t try to be. We don’t have to adjust our position based on double guessing how our political opponents will respond to our next ten steps – leave that to the politicians, that’s their job. What we can do is be a voice for the huge number of ordinary people who are, like us, devastated at what has become of our country. Hope and a vision for a better future are in short supply right now. Why are we not providing that? Do we not understand how powerful that could be? We have a populist government committed to nothing except their own control of power, whatever that takes. But they are unbelievably incompetent and politics has never been so unpredictable. Brexit is an unfolding disaster, not the success Johnson and co. predicted or claimed, and populism around the world is not on the rise as Brexiteers expected – thank you Joe Biden, in particular. The Johnson government has, as a result, been wrong-footed and weakened. Right-wing populists, by definition, listen and pander to popular opinion. If popular opinion is that we would be better in the EU, then populist politicians like Johnson will listen. Our challenge is to channel public opinion to a shared rejoin position and we can’t do that if we remain silent or our stance is ambiguous or nuanced. Perhaps we are also trying to be too smart. For most of us it’s not our job to be politicians and we are not equipped with the Machiavellian skills required of that role. Remember the simplistic, emotional messages used so successfully to win the Leave campaign? Our message as individuals does not have to be the same as the messages from the main political parties, or even the main pro-EU campaign groups. But we should be clear and uncomplicated Ideally, we should all align behind a common, grassroots message. Most can agree that life will be better for all of us, for our country, and indeed the world if we rejoin the EU and take back our place as a force for good – and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. So whether you think we should campaign to rejoin now, or take a more cautious, step-by-step approach of gradually moving closer to the EU, make your position clear and principled – that way you are much more likely to persuade others of the way forward. /ENDS

For many of us, it is axiomatic that leaving the EU was a huge mistake that will damage our country and diminish our rights as citizens. Our future, we believe, must be as part of the EU so we can work together to address the very real and massive issues we face nationally and internationally. […]

Here’s to an Independent Scotland

John King

A fearsome battle is brewing over the future of Britain. On one side the UK Government, the majority of the press, and the entire British establishment, tacitly backed by the royals. On the other side, Nicola Sturgeon and her fellow Scotttish warriors. Their cause is just, their passion strong, and I wish them well.  If […]

A Sense of Identity: National Identity and the coming Census

Cate Earnshaw Dudley

Every decade a census is taken in England and Wales. This snapshot of all people and households gives information to help plan resource allocation, and will help future historians understand us. This year, there is a lot of chatter on social media asking the question ‘Do you feel European?’ with speculation whether we should, or […]

JD Sports: “Brexit is considerably worse than expected.”

Anna Girolami

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill did not mince his words when he spoke to Radio 4’s World at One on Tuesday. The company is reeling from the effects of increased costs and administration. Cowgill believes that none of this was adequately explained to businesses prior to our departure seven weeks ago.

Post-Brexit trade: a barren soil for seeds

Simon Ferrigno

Seeds of Italy is the UK importer of seeds from Franchi, the oldest family-run seed company in the world. They preserve old varieties renowned for taste; the company also deals with fine Italian foods and cosmetics. As for many other companies, the end of the Brexit transition period is causing no end of problems and […]

An undiplomatic row

John Bland

The World Trade Organisation, The United Nations, The Holy See, Russia, China, Syria, Central African Republic, Timor-Leste. What do they have in common? They are just some of the 143 countries and multilateral organisations throughout the World that have granted EU ambassadors the same privileges and immunities equivalent to those of diplomatic missions under the […]

Europeans should take stock

John Bland

The uncertainty caused by Brexit and the transition period is over. We now have certainty. Britain’s ties with the European Union (EU) have been considerably weakened.