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Concern that Government is putting business before people in Brexit Deal

On June 23rd 2016, the British people voted to leave the EU. During the campaign, it was made clear by Vote Leave and others that this would mean leaving the so-called EU Single Market and its Customs Union. There was no mention of a transition deal. Now concerns are raised as it can be revealed the government has had meetings with CEOs that ensured there was a transition deal. 

It has been revealed by a senior civil servant that David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has held meetings with various CEOs across many sectors at Chevening, the grace and favour house used by government ministers. It would be a dereliction of duty if there weren't meetings between Ministers in DExEU and businesses, however, it seems that one particular meeting has informed the direction of government policy.

According to this civil servant, during this closed-door meeting last year the Secretary of State asked those present which of them wanted a transition period - and not one declined the opportunity to have one. 

It is easy to then say that all business is therefore behind a transition period. This is no doubt what lobbyists in the CBI would argue. However, who was represented in the room at the time? It was clear from the source that these were CEOs, and you don't get many fishermen from Cornwall calling themselves that. It indicates that this meeting - and potentially others - have not given a representative sample of British business.    

Since the Brexit vote, the Conservative government has made itself clear that Brexit means leaving the so-called EU Single Market and its Customs Union. This was reiterated in the Conservative Party's manifesto in 2017. Unfortunately for them, in neither the EU Referendum nor the General Election was a transition deal mentioned. 

As a result, there is a democratic mandate to leave both the EU Single Market and its Customs Union (NB: House of Lords) but no real democratic mandate for a transition period - as expressed either by the EU Referendum result or the subsequent General Election. The question is, therefore, how representative of wider society have these meetings been?

Ever since the Prime Minister's Florence Speech there have been questions about the government's direction. I noted on Better Off Out last year that Theresa May's speech was "full of ambition and confidence but posed more questions than it answered". One of those questions was the extent to which the UK will be tied to EU regulations going forward.

What came with the transition deal that was agreed to in March 2018 was an answer - especially for the country's fishermen. The agreement means that even though the UK would technically leave the EU in 2019, it would (if the deal is signed) have to adhere to the EU's rules and regulations until 2020. 

With no representation in the EU's Council, Commission, the Parliament or the ECJ, the UK would become a 'rule-taker' or, as some have stated, 'a vassal state'

This state of affairs has never happened to the UK in its history. It has outraged people from across the country.

The concern is that in formulating its Brexit policy, the government is now more ready to listen to big business rather than the people.

Of course, the government should consult business; however, striking deals supposedly in favour of big businesses rather than the people of the UK opens the government up to claims of giving into corporatism.  

It should be remembered that the vote to leave the EU gained the largest democratic mandate of any campaign in this country's history. Many voters - including many businessmen and women - voted to leave the EU's single market, its customs union and did not vote for a transition deal. In fact, no one voted for a transition deal.

Therefore, in order to satisfy the many and not the few, the government needs to remember that the British public voted for the freedom to control their own destiny. Not delivering a deal with that in mind would be a grave mistake. 

All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.


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