The pipe dream that stole 66 million futures

“Brexit is an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.”

“Every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world.”

Rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.”

“Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. [Now it is] a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.”

Edwin Hayward, 25 November, 2018

The New Cosette © MHP 2018

Extracts from Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister  25 November, 2018

At best, the advisory referendum result imposed a duty to try and make Brexit work. …Your Government has spent £4.2 billion on Brexit planning and preparations, money that could have gone to a desperate NHS, to failing schools, to an over-stretched police force.

Instead, you opted to spend it in pursuit of Brexit. Thousands of civil servants have worked on the problem full-time, and an entire new ministry, DExEU, has been devoted to nothing else. (DExEU alone has consumed over £100 million in salaries to date).

Having expended all that money, all that effort, it is now overwhelmingly clear that every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world, at a time when we are beset with dangers on every side. From Russia’s meddling in the democratic process to China flexing its economic muscles, from Donald Trump’s disdain for NATO and the UN to the rise of hard-right governments across the world, this is the worst possible time to retreat behind closed borders. Instead, we should be reaching out to our neighbours – our friends – and clubbing together with them to fend off these and other challenges.

The deal on the table cannot be in the national interest. It locks us into the EU’s structures without giving us any say as to how the EU is run….For so long as the transition period continues, the worst Brexit consequences will be held at bay. But we will be hamstrung in our ability to sign new deals, and we will be forced to stay in lock-step with every rule change introduced by the EU, regardless of whether it advantages or hurts UK interests. We can cut the transition cord, sure, but then we’re immediately back to the no deal scenario which your own Government figures estimate will gouge 8.8% off GDP.

The EU made a strong, generous offer on free movement. You chose to rebuff it, and perpetuate instead a new, more virulent form of the aggressive “hostile environment” you instigated as Home Secretary….

Furthermore, your letter fails to address reciprocity. If we are going to deliberately make life tough for the three million EU citizens who make the UK their home, then the EU27 will logically do the same for the over one million UK citizens who have chosen a life in EU27 countries.

….the full registration process will potentially leave tens of thousands of people at risk of the kind of errors that have so grievously afflicted the Windrush generation.

Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. That is entirely on you. You chose to rebuff the EU’s overture, and instead pursue a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.

In your letter, you refer to spending an extra £394 million a week on the NHS after Brexit. But that money has nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit. It is going to come from extra Government borrowing, and from better than expected tax receipts. Indeed, the best estimates to date suggest that the economy is already £500 million a week worse off because of Brexit than if the result of the referendum had been to stay. Conflating the NHS money and Brexit in the same letter must therefore be interpreted as a wilful deceit, an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a UK population you see as gullible enough to swallow the lie. We deserve better.

Jobs are moving, investment is drying up, firms are moving assets to the EU27 or redomiciling. The key passporting system that the financial sector relies on to sell its services across the EU has been abandoned somewhere along the Brexit negotiations in favour of a much weaker equivalence regime.

….The financial services sector employs 3.5% of people, so the job losses may be consequential, but it also contributes a vital 11% of all taxes to Government coffers. The loss of even a slice of that tax revenue will leave a gaping hole come Budget time.

the narrow majority (of voters – not of the entire UK) that came out in favour of Leave during the referendum no longer exists today.

…..The EU is close as well as rich. Only 0.5% of our trade is done by air, the rest goes by sea, so it is impossible to replace trade with our near neighbours with trade with far-flung nations.

You talk of Brexit being settled. That is the biggest deceit of all. Brexit Day is Day Zero of Brexit. It marks the transition between the phoney war of the exit negotiations and the hot war of trade deals and treaties. We are out of all the EU treaties and agreements on Brexit Day, but the impact of leaving them will be cushioned by the transition mechanism. But just because we don’t experience the result of something doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

Through our EU membership, we enjoy free trade deals with countries covering 60% of all our trade. All those trade deals will need to be replaced just to achieve the status quo we currently enjoy, even before we can start to see any benefits from Brexit. Indeed, Jacob Rees-Mogg believes that it may take half a century for the economic benefits of Brexit to present themselves. …We have at least 78 trade deals to replace (the EU signs new ones every few months, so we are chasing a moving target). On average, countries such as the US, India and China take between 3-5 years to agree one new trade deal. We simply do not have the capacity to negotiate dozens effectively in parallel, so we are going to have to pick and choose and prioritise. It is self-evident that this work will not be complete by the end of transition

…. Instead of sticking to a course that will see our economy founder on the Brexit rocks…. rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.

None of those things are possible if you persist with Brexit.

….instead consider the true best interests of your constituents and of the UK as a whole.

Hold up the prism of merit to Brexit and see it for what it is: an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.

Please make the right choice. Campaign with your heart and soul for a better future for our country, not one dictated by a vote that could never be realised in practice.

Most respectfully,

Edwin Hayward

Link to Full text of Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister

Woman lamenting outside a burning city 1550-55
Jan Swart van Groningen
Pen in black, brush in brown, 360 x 283 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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