Opinion with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale: An imperfect EU agreement

Sir Roger Gale

I shall vote for the agreement reached with the European Union . I shall do so not because it is perfect – far from it –  but because it is the least worst of the options available.   To have ended the transition period with no deal at all would, I believe, have resulted in an economic stress and uncertainty that, on top of the damage caused to our economy by coronavirus, that would be quite simply unsustainable.

It appears to me, however, that we have spent the last four years and huge amounts of time, money and political capital reinventing the wheel. The suggestion that we have “ achieved a trade deal worth six hundred and fifty  billion pounds “ with the European Union  has all the hallmarks of a “side- of- the- bus” campaign slogan about it that is,  to say the least, disingenuous.

What we are now  presented with is an agreement that delivers most but not all of the trade arrangements that we previously enjoyed with the remaining twenty-seven countries of the European Union with strings attached and no further say in policy or regulation.

We shall no longer be members of the Customs Union so although our trade with the EU will continue to be tariff-free and unlimited by quota or quantity our exporters and importers will face a level of bureaucracy and paperwork that can only add to the cost of the goods that we purchase and to a further loss of productive jobs. Kent will face the additional requirement to process the “Kent Access Pass” that will still be required  to establish that freight vehicles  are carrying the correct documentation before they  are allowed to enter the county.

The agreement reached is a trade deal. It does not cover the financial and other services that make up much of the European economic benefit to the United Kingdom and it has yet to be seen to what extent those sectors will, over time, be diminished as a result of our departure from the EU.

We also shall no longer be part of the Erasmus student exchange programme that has benefitted  generations of British students through exposure to the talents of pan-European institutions . Erasmus will be replaced with a UK taxpayer funded multi-million pound  global “Turing” scholarship scheme to facilitate worldwide educational travel. The full details have yet to be released but as the best educational institutions outside the United Kingdom and the “Ivy League” US universities are in Europe we have to hope that British students will still be able to access those centres of academic excellence.

As it stands the agreement contains inadequate provision for the hitherto accepted  mutual recognition of professional qualifications . That will inevitably have the potential to inhibit the free exchange of medical and veterinary professionals, of which the UK already suffers from a desperate shortage, engineers, architects, lawyers , scientists and many others from whose services we have all  benefitted over many years.

We also have to hope that relationships between our own and European security and counter-terrorism forces will somehow be maintained but the formal Europol and other liaisons will clearly be weakened to the disadvantage of both the UK and the EU and to the advantage of those powers and movements that wish us ill.

Freedom of movement has, with to date no reduction in net immigration, been replaced with restrictions upon our own freedom to travel and remain within the countries of Europe as well as with restrictions upon those from European countries upon whose labour our health and care services, agriculture and many other industries and businesses have depended.

Our health cover within the European Union is said to have been preserved following the expiry of the E111 health insurance card but the details are unclear and  as of today Government advice remains that those travelling abroad should, if they can get it, take out health insurance.  As of 31st December, unless a further agreement is reached before the end of the week, all those driving abroad will also be required to carry and produce on demand  require a green motor insurance certificate.

We have, until now, “punched above our weight” in the global ring . “Brexit” has, however, come at a significant cost in diplomatic and international standing as we have recently demonstrated a willingness to break our word and formal undertakings.

Do not underestimate the long-term effects of the crass handling of the “Internal Markets Bill”   Even our staunchest  of allies in the United States and the `Old Commonwealth` have watched in disbelief as we have shredded political and economic capital and tossed it to the four winds. We are still a member of NATO, certainly, and at present we maintain our place at the High Table in the United nations.

We also remain signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and to our membership of the Council of Europe. But for how long will this United Kingdom now remain united?  The Scots will, if afforded the opportunity, hold and are likely to win an independence  referendum, leave the EU and re-join the European Union and if that happens it is highly likely that Northern Ireland would then wish to hold the necessary plebiscite and unite with the Irish Republic and also the EU.

Will the “Brexit Emperor” be revealed to have no clothes?  And will Mr. Johnson go down in history as the Prime Minister who precipitated the break-up of our United Kingdom?  I am not always right and I hope that I am wrong this time.  I am passionately British and a patriot and I fervently hope that the Union and our standing in the world will be maintained for another thousand years.  But  I have grave doubts.

On the brighter side, we have a deal. Our businesses and industries now have a degree of certainty upon which to plan the  brave new world.

We also have a supply of vaccines coming on stream that may see the end of the Covid 19 pandemic and without dangerously over-promising 2021 will perhaps be the year in which we can all begin to return to normality and to re-build not just our economy but our health, our happiness and our family and community lives.


    • Fully agree. I think this article is the most honest assessment of the so called ‘deal’ I have read to date.

  1. OMG! What a brilliant article! But it’s written by Sir Roger Gale! I NEVER vote for him!

    Apart from thinking “Well, you DON’T have to vote for this deal as you clearly see through the whole farrago of bluster and nonsense. It will pass anyway as nobody dares declare that the Emperor has no clothes. It’s not as if you have a future in a Johnson cabinet as you are too honest! Why not go for broke and vote against!”
    The one with a REAL difficult decision is ME and who I support!
    Off now to lie in a darkened room…

  2. No question. N.Ireland is already separated and has a customs union with EU, Ireland has seen of the Church and become more democratic, there will soon be a United Ireland. Scotland looks lie winning w referendum and will quickly rejoin the EU. In the 2016 campaign to remain I talked to UKIP Cllr Buckley about this contradiction that the UK Independent Party would likely break up the UK; his answer was ‘ I don’t care’

  3. Given how much of the article is given over to moaning and groaning about the deal, one is forced to ask if the MP is not being a touch hypocritical in promising to vote for it?

  4. If you have ever looked at Rogers’ voting record he is very rarely consistent ,votes yes on a matter one day and no the next.still do not know if he is for or against Brexit he changes his mind according to his mood

  5. Mackinlay won’t vote vote for it because we are all traitors.
    Mackinlay and Gale may run under the same colours, but for both of them it is a flag of inconvenience.
    Mackinlay wants an Alt right world akin to Gilead in its structure, and Gale it appears is edging towards old fashioned, One nation Conservatism.
    Johnson on the other hand is a supporter of the Johnson party, with him as Big Brother!
    The Conservative party is dead and only exists for PR purposes at each election.
    I must be going mad, but much of what RG says is logical and has the ring of truth.
    No one is happy, not even Johnson, and 10 years from now we will be scratching our heads wondering how this ever happened.
    This will not stick and we will drift closer to Europe, as the magnetism of economic cooperation is too powerful.

    • No Danish pastries
      Swiss rolls
      Belgian buns
      Spanish onions
      Vienese whirled
      Norwegian blue
      Dutch cheese
      Danish bacon
      Italian icecream
      Irish Stew
      French … I can’t think of anything ..

        • We should buy/eat /drink as much local produce as possible ,certainly, but it’s fine to eat/drink some stuff from abroad. Preferably from other European countries-fewer food miles.And vice versa.

  6. Well written Sir Roger Gale.

    This withdrawal agreement is a fudge.

    Sir Ted Heath misled and took us into the EU with the Maastricht treaty which was a terrible deal for the UK.
    Boris Johnson has taken us out of EU with just as bad a deal for the UK.

    How can you expect remainers at heart Such as Boris Johnson & Michel Gove to do what is best for the UK citizens and the country as a whole.

    We have at least five years of negotiations trying to improve on not only fishing rights but our financial trading etc.

    Sir Roger Gale says Scotland will apply to rejoin the EU there is this potential but will Scotland be able to afford the membership fee’s and continuing fee’s and not being subsidised by the UK. Will all the present and future members of the EU agree to Scotland joining followed by Ireland and potentially Wales.

    As Sir Roger Gale says This will be the break up of the UK.

  7. Come on Roger, time for dinner now. Yes Roger, of course you are a serving MP, yes of course you are the grandfather of the house, now I have a nice injection for you.

  8. Where’s Mackinlay? I want him to tell me when my “Brexit Dividend” cheque will be arriving in the post as I need it to pay my January credit card bill!

    Good article by SRG by the way. Sounds like he’s in the wrong party though….

  9. I never though I would ever agree with anything Sir Roger said, but with few exceptions, I do with his article! Johnson is a proven liar, he even got himself sacked once for lying, and he sold another huge lie travelling around in a bus claiming the country would stop paying the EU £350 million a week if we left the EU! Only 37% of the electorate voted to leave the EU (do the sums 52% of 72% of the turnout is 37%) and no one knew what the Terms & Conditions were, so they didn’t know what they were voting for, how dumb is that? Now they know, and it will mean GB will go into terminal decline for the people, although the wealthy will probably do alright by moving their money/businesses to Europe!

    • You remainers just cannot stop bitching about the outcome, can you? Don’t you ever get get tired of mouthing that boring and phoney canard about people like me not knowing for what we were voting. Time to move on, I think.

  10. It isn’t clear what ‘remainers’ who are complaining about the deal expected. The very best you could have expected would be to maintain the same level of access to European markets and the deal is not far off doing that. However, the trade deal with the EU is peripheral. Brexit was about developing trading partnerships with other countries and trading blocks around the world. We are finally free to trade with whoever we want and this could pay huge dividends over the next few years, both for importers and exporters. I’m looking forward with optimisim.

    • In the EU we were always free to trade with whoever we wanted. Australian wine, US apples, Egyptian potatoes, Kenyan beans. All familiar items on the supermarket shelves. Nobody stopped us.

      So why all the phoney excitement about all these “trade deals” that are being announced daily? They are just temporary arrangements with countries we already traded with. All sides agreeing to the same arrangements that we had when in the EU. But, when the initial period expires, THEN we will get down to business!
      How about a new trade deal with Turkey, which is bound to involve easier movement of people between both countries?
      Ironic, really, as the Brexiters warned us that Turkey was going to join the EU (never likely) and then millions of them would flood into Britain.
      It never happened, of course. But millions voted for Brexit to stop it happening anyway.
      Now the government is boasting of all the exciting trade deals to come with countries like…..Turkey!

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