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Loss of sovereignty for individual citizens, another step towards the break-up of the UK, new complexity endangers exports and inward investment - first local reaction to leaving EU

January 2, 2021 7:00 PM
Originally published by Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

Lord Shipley - Brexit
In a debate on the leaving legislation in the House of Lords, John Lord Shipley, former Leader of Newcastle City Council, said : "We have heard a lot about sovereignty. The Government have prioritised sovereignty over the benefits of frictionless trade but by "sovereignty" they have meant the sovereignty of the UK Government, not that of the nations of the UK or of individuals, and there are consequences of that approach.

First, as demand rises in Scotland for independence, this Bill represents another step towards the break-up of the UK, as many in Scotland seek their own sovereignty rather than being constrained by UK sovereignty, having voted to stay in the EU. Several speakers have recognised the dangers, but there has been a more constant assumption that sovereignty relates only to the UK level-that is a dangerous assumption.

Further, this Bill represents a clear loss of sovereignty for individual UK citizens. For example, UK citizens working in the EU will in future be able to travel visa-free within the EU only for 90 days in a six-month period. A work visa will now automatically be needed for a UK citizen selling goods or services in an EU country. Surely we need easier travel arrangements for those working. In addition, there should be visa-free cultural work passports to cover the whole of the EU in one document.

As we have heard, a UK citizen may well have professional qualifications, but those qualifications will no longer be recognised across the EU as they are now. There is hope for bilateral agreements, but they will, even if successful, take time to negotiate.

Each of those matters represents huge barriers for very many individuals, many of whom are young and just trying to earn their living. For young people, I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, and several others that the abolition of the Erasmus scheme is short-sighted.

What about all the broken promises over sovereignty in fishing? There were promises to regain control of British waters, but they have not been delivered. There will no longer be quota swaps, as there are now, and there will be no exclusive 12-mile limit, which used to be a red line for the Government. So there is no return of real sovereignty for our fishing industry. What about the sovereignty of Gibraltar 24 hours before the end of the transition period? I hope that the Minister is going to tell us.

From tomorrow, we begin years of continuous negotiation with the EU from the position of a supplicant trying to make an agreement work that is thin in content but heavy in regulatory structures. There will be lots of technical committees, new customs checks, rules of origin checks, customs forms, systems of arbitration and lots more red tape than we have now. I fear that the complexity will not prove attractive to potential future inward investors wanting access to the EU single market from the UK."

Lord Shipley Liberal Democrats 9:08 pm, 30th December 2020 speaking over Parliamentary teleconference - photo taken outside Parliament before first lockdown