North East now wants to stay in EU says local poll

December 1, 2016 8:54 PM

EU flag with 73% of opinion poll in Evening Chronicle now says we shouldn't leave the EU

Yesterday, Lord Shipley said in the House of Lords :

This referendum was a decision to leave the EU but it was not a decision to leave the single market or the customs union. I accept that many people who voted to leave wanted it to be but, as a substantial number of subsequent polls have shown, the thinking is in terms of a future relationship that gives access to the single market outside full EU membership. Membership of the single market is essential for investment, jobs and future growth.

It is now more than five months since the referendum and there is still no clarity on the Government's strategy. Instead we seem to have a confusion of strategy with objectives. The Government have said on several occasions that they want the "best possible deal" with the EU. However, that is an objective, not a strategy. I am beginning to wonder whether the Government have a strategy at all because different Ministers say different things. The Government have a duty to tell Parliament what they want our relationship with the EU to be and for Parliament then to examine that proposed relationship. It cannot be kept secret. It would be far better to have a Green Paper with options to consider before Article 50 is triggered, and perhaps it is still not too late.

Nevertheless, we need first to secure an outcome that enables us to stay in the single market and the customs union and avoids non-tariff barriers. Secondly, we need an agreement that continues inward investment into the UK from those seeking access in turn to the EU. Thirdly, we need to acknowledge that immigration is important to drive enterprise, growth and productivity while at the same time committing more resources to the training of UK employees, along with an EU-wide review of migration policy. Fourthly, we need to enable UK citizens to live, work and learn securely elsewhere in the EU, with similar rights for EU citizens. Finally, we have to maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom. If there is a final decision to leave, it should be with a transitional period of, at the very least, two years to permit some negotiation of individual trade agreements.

I have never understood why the Government chose March 2017 to trigger Article 50. Currently, EU leaders seem to be aiming at a hard Brexit, but it is just possible that that position could change once the French and German elections have been held and the policy of those countries has become clearer. We need to maintain flexibility, but the timing is now not on our side. We should remember that this is not just a trade issue. There is a huge number of issues relating to EU law, justice, agriculture, fisheries, defence, home affairs and the environment among many. Two years' negotiation will not be enough.

It is vital that we do not end up out of the EU on World Trade Organization rules. The World Trade Organisation will require detail of our tariffs and quotas. That process could take several years. Outside the customs union, business and our wealth creators would be bogged down in red tape, coping with the rules of origin and non-tariff barriers. We do not want that.

I have concluded that whenever the Government conclude their negotiations they should give the British people the right to decide in a referendum whether they wish to leave the EU on the terms negotiated. Parliament must have a role during those negotiations, but the British people must be empowered to make the final decision.