Speech to full Council on Brexit

On the speech to the Brexit report, submitted as Chair of Audit, first the BBC Radio Nottingham interview –
Thanks to BBC Radio Nottm for inviting me on to talk about the council’s report on Brexit.
Questioner’s challenge: – why set out the case for Remain? Isn’t it too late to do that?
My answer: I think Remain can still happen, so watch out for the next Treaty negotiation, the December European Council and then the debate in Parliament.
Questioner’s challenge: – shouldn’t you be preparing for Brexit instead?
My answer: that’s what’s in the report – recommendations 3 and 4. But the govt’s assessment has become more serious and the plans to prepare are getting later.
Yep, what I didn’t think the outcome of the interview would be that I put the recommendations in the wrong order.

Now the article based on the speech used to present a report full council, which can be found at –
http://committee.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/documents/s79574/Brexit%20Update.pdf
Thanks to inspiration from Cllr Sarah Piper who commissioned a report on Brexit and how it might affect Nottingham and the City Council, 2 years ago, and which we have refreshed for publication and debate today.
A good deal of the report is handed over to the negotiations on Brexit and how they are evolving.
The Theresa May deal is the least certain, but in essence says, give ourselves another 21 months as we are – except political representation whilst we work out a new deal.  Note, the EU deal with Canada took 7 years.
But Minsters who know what that might mean, suggest to carry all the advantages, it means committing to a regime where we carry all the future EU commitments with a much reduced say.
Colleagues might be most concerned by the specific consequences for Nottingham.
But I want to start with …
Emergency Planning
Preparing Emergency plans to cover the weeks running up to March 29th has become a major concern.
  Over the weekend, it became clear that our military forces were being called upon to help out.
Contrast with in June, when concerns, if they were mentioned at all, mainly focused on huge delays at ports in Kent.
Because emergency planning has to plan for the worst, and leave us to do the hoping for the best, you do have to be wary of turning the volume to 11 when discussing the emergency planning.
But by September, it was clear that planning is having to cover failures of supplies to reach factories and offices; and failures of supplies to shops, including food and medicines.
We don’t know too much more, but it would seem national guidance has been slipping.
= Key Challenges =
The identifiable challenges and risks for Nottingham and the City Council, are –
Is it “No Deal”, or an agreed transition period, or what?
29th March 2019 is the date if we leave without a deal with the EU27.
31st December, 2020 is the date for either still “No Deal”, and a new deal based perhaps on the Canadian model, or a date by which we already know we’ve extended the transition, or a further failure to agree.
Uncertainty
* final agreement content:
* The Pound:
* Inflation;
Economy: the removal of 750 or so trading treaties, with significant delays to be expected in reaching new ones, will affect growth, the ability to export, the timeliness and posts of imports; the desirability of Nottingham for inward investment; growth is expected to fall;
European Structural Investment Funds: their loss will cut off useful alternative routes for external funding when national government has been less supportive;
Skills: the impact on changes to the labour market to being able to fill posts;
Public spending: a smaller economy will lead to even lower public spending;
= City Economy =
European Structural Investment Funds:
(ESIF) money for this round of EU funding round (2014-2020) via Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2)’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for 2014-2020 is £214.3m.It is unclear where other similar sources of funding will be available post-Brexit.
EU funding: Nottingham had received at £190 million of EU funding since 2000;
Nottingham has benefitted from alternative funding being directed to us, when the national gov’t has directed funds to better off places.
University Research:
Our universities have been part of Europe’s drive on science which has taken it to being bigger than the USA or China.Now the ability to draw on EU research grants – worth £20 million – is compromised.
Exports: around 45% of our exports goes to the EU;
Company ownership: 2 years ago, out of 205 local companies that have group ownership overseas, 80 had parent companies in the EU;
Lower Growth:
Nottingham is the 22nd (of 62 UK cities included) most impacted by a ‘hard’ Brexit at -2.4% GVA (-1.2% for soft) over ten years.  The model used underestimates the negative impact in industries where foreign investment is more important than trade barriers.
= City Council Treasury Management =
Risks identified 2 years ago need a re-statement since many of the issues concerned short term investments and then current events.
= More widely =
The status of the British border with the Irish Republic and potential threats to the Good Friday agreement is a very widely held public concern.
It’s why the UK and the EU 27 need a backstop on their current “Hold-it-off” deal.
In the seventies, and eighties and nineties, we wondered if “The Troubles” would ever go away?
Now we wonder how anyone could risk them coming back.
A shame to see the DUP back saying “Never”.
Is Remain still possible?
I thought it was right to re-state our position, if only because if it all goes wrong, people will ask why didn’t we say so?
I’ve also seen the question phrased as can Brexit be stopped?
Whichever way, with 3 separate groups in Parliament – “No Deal”, “Theresa’s deal” and “Remain” – and with none of them having a majority, just how is it all going to pan out?
The risk now for Parliament is that MPs will not acknowledge that support for “Remain” is stronger, and it only lost by 4 points in the first place.
90% of Labour party members want “Remain”; 70% of Labour voters want “Remain”.
No surprise here, because Labour and the trade unions have come to value the European Union in ways we didn’t in 1975.
We found the regulation, defending terms and conditions and the industries and services that added value to our taste.
We valued alternative perspectives to Thatcherism and was is sometimes called neo-liberal economics.The greener approaches on the environment and mitigating climate change.
And we came to understand that being one of 9, has changed and we are now one of 28. A remarkable achievement.
Some of it we’ve been less comfortable with.  The ECJ judgement of 2005 on paying native minimum wages; the golden rules on public spending; the Euro.
Lexit
But the nearest I’ve heard to a Lexit argument has been “we used to call it a Capitalist club”.
And what we know is that what is coming is not a Lexit, but an opening of Britain to a free trade undermining our manufacturing and services in a new way, with more tax breaks for the very rich which the working people will have to pay for, and American stands on food – e.g. chlorinated chicken.
So we merely re-state that we are Remain
Cos if we hadn’t have put it in, people would have asked us.
Now some say it’s anti-democratic to have another referendum.
Can we really not change our mind?
But we don’t have to say how “Remain” will come about, cos we don’t yet have to.
We can wait to see what the options are after [a summit, and then the last meeting of the Council of Ministers].
We don’t even know if the Commons has given itself the space to call a General Election, because 1/3rd of members is all it takes to block it.
But could “Remain” even win a referendum?
Well, if there is another referendum, no-one could countenance “Remain” not being an option on the ballot papers when Channel 4 recently showed “Remain” would win.
It’s what the majority now want.
In part cos it will have only taken a few people in every hundred to have changed their mind.
But also because people who didn’t vote so much last time, typically the under-35s, are going to vote in bigger numbers, in the next.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that striking a deal was going to be easy?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that the UK would have the commanding position in the negotiations cos the EU needed us?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that there was all this money waiting to be given to the NHS?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that manufacturing, especially brought in from abroad, wasn’t going to leave us?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that the British border with the Irish Republic wasn’t going to be a problem?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that bananas could not be sold in bunches bigger than 3?  No.  Well actually they might.
We say No, No, No, No, and No, and that we’ll have to be better next time for the stuff that’s bananas.
The Channel 4 survey shows that alongside Rushcliffe, Derby would now be Remain, Broxtowe would now be Remain, Gedling would now be Remain,
And Nottingham would now be Remain.
Meanwhile…
The Recommendations
Are much plainer and simpler.
That Audit committee receives assurances that all council project and service plans have assessed the risk of Brexit to their objectives and ability to deliver.
That Audit committee receives progress on the emergency planning for Brexit.
Both, probably, in the new year.
Because as those at the Remembrance service yesterday know, those of us who carry the burden of government were prayed for, but might people in the spring have will expected us to have prepared, rather than rely on their prayers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s