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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first speech since Brexit occurred on January 31, 2020 where he calls for free and fair trade between the UK and other countries, and indicates that the UK won’t be bound by EU trade rules that penalize the UK or work to penalize Britain’s other trading partners.
He also speaks well of the Canada – EU (CETA) free trade agreement and proposes to use it as a model for the UK and the EU to begin trade talks.
Finally, the Prime Minister suggests that trade with America and the Commonwealth of Nations countries must be ramped-up over the coming months and years.
All in all, an inspiring and well-balanced speech about the UK government’s position on trade with the world.
Transcript courtesy of: GOV.UK
After a gestation period that would’ve impressed a Brontosaurus (44-months, or 188-weeks if you prefer to measure time by the week, or 1317-days, or 31,608-hours) the UK government finally kept its promise to Britons who voted for Brexit on June 23, 2016.
So, after bobbling the ball for 3.5-years, the UK government finally got it right (Thanks, Boris!) and at 11:00pm GMT on January 31, 2020, the UK left the European Union. And not a moment too soon, as if the dithering on the UK side had continued much longer the UK would’ve been thrown out of the EU — instead of leaving of its own accord! Yes, the frustration with successive UK governments grew to record highs over the past 3.5-years…
Anyway, that was then, and this is now, as they say.
What Next for the UK?
According to the terms of the Brexit agreement with the EU, the parties have 11-months to agree a trade deal to govern the future trading relationship, unless the parties decide to extend the trade deal negotiating period for another year, or longer.
I feel positive about getting a trade deal with the EU as it’s so obviously in the interests of both parties to arrange a fair-to-both-sides trade agreement, that there will be a signing ceremony before the end of 2020. Let’s hope!
Of course, the EU isn’t the UK’s only trading partner, so a trade deal with the Americans is important for the UK, And that too, must be concluded in a reasonable timeframe if the UK is to capitalize on its economic prospects following its departure from the European Union.
Let’s hope that Boris Johnson’s team sees the value of signing onto the CPTPP agreement — to become a member of the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership agreement — which is a huge trading region headed by Japan as the leading economy in the bloc.
Subsequent deals with Commonwealth of Nations countries — I’m hoping for a massive agreement between all Commonwealth nations, on par with the excellent CPTPP trade agreement. And, why not? The UK has ignored the Commonwealth for far too long now and huge opportunities await UK companies within that 2.5 billion member bloc (2.5 billion citizens/consumers in the Commonwealth of Nations countries by 2022) and further, the economy of that bloc consists of rapidly developing economies whose citizens are now beginning to enjoy real growth in their disposable income. Disposable income that could be used to purchase UK goods and services if you take my meaning.
Yes, huge trade opportunities await the UK, and not a moment to lose going after it. Because if the UK doesn’t go after that business, some other country or bloc will snap-up all of it and could completely displace UK trade in each country. That’s the punishment for taking too long to agree a trade deal.
Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her government found out what happens when it takes too long to accomplish something really important to the UK people, and those excessive delays are the only reason that Boris Johnson is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. So… fast, fast, Boris, on the trade file!
And thanks for getting Brexit done.
Putting the UK – EU Relationship in Context
All in all, the UK – European relationship has been a good one when measured over the past 107-years.
In that time, the UK fought to bring peace to the continent in WWI and WWII, it was a solid contributor to the NATO alliance during the Cold War, the UK participated in operations like the Berlin Airlift, the fall of the Wall/reunification of Germany, and in missions in the Balkans to try to prevent genocide and enforce International Court of Justice rulings against non-state actors there, and it invested trillions of pounds sterling in the continent in the 20th-century.
The UK helped to bring peace and prosperity to Europe and was an early supporter of a unified Europe from the time of former UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill — although Winston often said that the UK did not belong “in” continental Europe, but rather, that it should support a unified continent from “outside” continental politics.
Having played a pivotal role in the creation of a peaceful and prosperous European continent, the UK can now leave with its head held high, having accomplished all of its long-term objectives there, knowing that the ongoing peace and prosperity on the continent will continue for decades to come, due in part to the UK’s huge commitment to continental Europe since 1913, or thereabout.
Although the Brexit process might have frazzled nerves on both sides, there’s no doubt that the United Kingdom and the European Union will continue to be allies sharing a similar worldview and will continue trading with each other on an epic scale. While some tears have been shed over Brexit, the special relationship with our continental friends will endure for centuries to come, of that there’s no doubt.
Now, let’s make it easy on ourselves and quickly agree a fair and comprehensive trade agreement, so that both parties can continue to build on the successes of the previous century — as befits true neighbours, friends, families, and allies — thereby setting the bar for how countries can and should work together to create a better world.
And I wouldn’t expect anything less from Prime Minister Boris Johnson or from EU President Ursula von der Layen. In fact, we’ve only just begun!
Thumbnail image courtesy of www.ft.com
It was an historic night in the UK where a formerly weak Conservative government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson swept to power in a massive majority.
Every party in the United Kingdom has lost ground to the Conservatives — except for the Scottish National Party (SNP) which won 48-seats giving them a grand total of 4% of the UK vote — but that pales in comparison to Boris Johnson’s Conservative and Unionist Party’s 45% of the votes cast in the UK Election 2019. The Brexit Party (a brand-new party only weeks old) gained 2% of the vote, but didn’t win any seats.
Here are the percentage of votes cast in the UK General Election 2019
Conservatives = 45%
Labour = 33%
Liberal Democrats = 12%
SNP = 4%
Green = 3%
Brexit = 2%
Other = 1%
Which translates into this many seats by party affiliation
Conservatives = 365
Labour = 203
SNP = 48
Liberal Democrats = 11
DUP = 8
Sinn Fein = 7
Plaid Cymru = 4
SDLP = 2
APNI = 1
Green = 1
Brexit = 0
UUP = 0
IND = 0
Winners and Losers in the UK General Election 2019
UK VOTERS: The biggest winners in this election are UK voters, as every person who wanted to vote was able to vote, unlike in some countries where armed thugs try to prevent people from voting unless they’re voting for the ‘approved’ thug party. Further, a situation no longer exists where a paralyzed UK House of Commons is unable to do the work of the UK people. Following this clear election result, the UK government can now move smartly to get The People’s business done. And Number One on that list is Brexit.
REMAIN VOTERS: The biggest losers in UK General Election 2019 are so-called ‘Remain’ voters — those who wanted to ignore or overturn the democratic result of the 2016 EU referendum. The UK people spoke clearly in the 2016 referendum, in the UK General Election 2017, and now in the UK General Election 2019, with thousands of traditional Labour, Liberal Democrat and even SNP voters changing their traditional voting patterns (this time) to empower the leave-supporting Conservative and Unionist Party, and some people casting votes for the new-ish Brexit Party to reward their ongoing commitment for leaving the European Union.
THE BREXIT PARTY: Brexit Party members and their leaders should be leaping for joy, because, although they didn’t elect one MP to the UK House of Commons, they’ve dramatically changed the political landscape in the United Kingdom by capturing hundreds of thousands of votes from traditional Labour voters who disagreed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Remain Brexit position, and from other Remain-supporting parties across the UK. Strange as it may seem, the Brexit Party like the UKIP Party before it have influenced the UK and continental Europe for generations to come. I’m not sure that Brexit Party candidates and supporters have realized this profound point just yet… But in the meantime, ‘Hats Off’ to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party!
FORMER LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER JO SWINSON: Jo Swinson lost her Dumbarton seat and (thereby) her position as Lib Dem leader — and for no other reason than she cut across the popular mood of the country which was and still is to leave the EU. A polished, responsible, and committed member of Parliament, her defeat can only be seen as a loss for the Lib Dems and the House of Commons in general. But when you’re the leader of a major political party, you must be able to read the mood of the people in a democratic system, otherwise you’re soon gone.
THE EU: Because for the first time, the European Union now has a reliable partner across the English Channel with which to negotiate Brexit and a follow-on trade deal with the UK. Unfortunately, in the former ‘hung parliament’ situation it was very much a case of ‘mixed-messages’ coming from the UK House of Commons over the past 3-years.
THE UK LABOUR PARTY: As votes are still being counted, it looks like the Labour Party has lost 59-seats, but only because they supported ‘Remain’ instead of properly reading the mood of voters (who, with increasing resolve week-by-week) wanted to ‘just get Brexit done’ and get-on with whatever paradigm that will exist post-Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a principled, hard-working, and committed MP and the long-serving leader of HM official opposition. Again, being able to read the mood of the public and represent their preferences is a prerequisite for the leader of a major political party. Having retained his own seat, I hope Mr. Corbyn will continue as leader of the Labour Party until an appropriate time can be found for a proper leadership contest within the Labour Party.
EACH MP WHO WON A SEAT IN THE UK GENERAL ELECTION 2019: Congratulations to each and every MP who won or retained their seat in the UK House of Commons. These are the people who will act on the valid and important concerns of UK citizens, such as Brexit, the NHS, the environment, industry, social care, transportation and international trade. And so much more.
Finally, a big Thank You! to the UK journalists who stayed-up all night to cover the most important UK election in decades, doing so with style, grace, and neutrality. Well Done!