Will Britain leave the transition period with a free trade deal similar to the one made with Canada? Or will we be trading with the EU on the terms set by the World Trade Organization like Australia? I thought that by the time I wrote this article (Sunday), the Brexit issue would be resolved. However, talks are continuing in search of a breakthrough. When the Abergavenny Chronicle and Monmouthshire Beacon go on sale this week, the final, final, final deadline will have passed – so perhaps we will all know the answer. In principle, a post-Brexit trade agreement would be better. Trade deals are usually a good thing, enabling freer movement of goods and services and offering benefits to both sides of the partnership. But trade deals also need to be fair.
Progress was being made until a few weeks ago when the EU suddenly came up with the outrageous requirement that the UK should follow EU law in perpetuity – and face tariffs on our goods if the EU decided we were not. There is absolutely no way any nation could ever agree to such a proposition. A nation which must follow the laws of another country (or countries) is not a free nation. Quite rightly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused and we will see what happens next. This government, in which I am proud to serve, would like a trade deal with the EU. However, we could never accept a deal that would leave us forever having to follow laws over which we have no say. For too long the EU seem to have been under the impression that they could stop Brexit from happening. After all, when other EU countries have held referendums on EU treaties which Brussels didn’t like, they were either ignored or held again in order to get the “right” answer. The EU thought the same thing would happen in Britain. Perhaps they still do. If so, they are making a big mistake. The implementation period will come to an end on 31 December. We would very much like a deal but not at the expense of the freedom which we voted for.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 16 December 2020 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 17 December 2020*