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Getting Brexit Done Will Allow the UK to Get onto ‘the Good Stuff’

by John Brian Shannon

‘What Could be Better than Brexit?’ You Ask

Once Brexit is completed, the UK will be perfectly positioned to sign free trade deals with every country in the world. Indeed, some countries are eagerly anticipating signing free trade agreements with the United Kingdom post-Brexit.

Here in Canada, free trade with Britain is viewed as nothing more than the natural and obvious progression in our centuries-old relationship, and Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and India see free trade with the UK as a true Win-Win situation where all sides benefit from membership in that free trading relationship.

But in the UK for some inexplicable reason, free trade with Commonwealth nations is seen as a long-shot, something Britons would like to have but feel is almost impossible, and some seem to think the UK is ‘unworthy’ of such treatment by other Commonwealth countries and their 2.3 billion citizens.

‘The British really need to get out more, and see the world for what it is instead of seeing it through the prism of an imperial guilt trip’ seems to be the prevailing wisdom in the former colonies.

Get out there, UK! And, welcome to the 21st-century. We need to trade with you.


The Post-Brexit Domestic Agenda

Once freedom is established across the land, the UK government can rightly turn its attention to how citizens are faring. Spending on the NHS, education, housing, the manufacturing sector, agriculture and transportation networks can be improved from the present (underfunded) model.

How? Easy!

Presently, UK taxpayers dutifully send their money off to the government, which then sends a substantial portion of it on to Brussels. And every month, UK taxpayers send £1 billion more than they receive back from the EU. Which, as you’ve guessed, means that UK taxpayers send £12 billion more annually to the EU than they receive in return.

With an extra £12 billion a year to spend on the NHS post-Brexit — that’s £230 million a week — the NHS would eventually recover from being cash-starved since 2010 or thereabout.

But if the government elected to spend that £12 billion per year on education — British students would be in for a world-class education where no student gets left behind and every one of them would receive a tuition-free PhD-level education or tuition-free trade-certificate education — just as many European and some South American countries already offer. What a great leg-up for the country! Every British student turns into a highly-educated intellectual or tradesperson with the relevant documentation to prove their dedication to their profession or trade.

Or, if the government decided to solve the UK housing crisis by building tens-of-thousands of low-income homes for Britons. Which (housing crisis) is in the process of being solved anyway, as thousands of EU citizens return to the continent prior to the final Brexit date — thereby freeing-up housing in the UK market — whether rental or purchased.


And similar applies to other sectors of the UK economy. Once Brexit finally happens, the UK will have an extra £12 billion to spend annually. How the UK government chooses to spend it, is down to the priorities of the post-election government.

One thing is for certain, leaving the EU will allow an extra £12 billion to be spent every year in the UK economy. Which means that ONE major problem can be solved per year (NHS, education, housing, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation networks, high taxation) but not ALL major problems at once!


The Piecemeal Approach is the Wrong Approach!

To my mind, dropping a few billion here and there throughout the economy in an attempt to please everyone… definitely ISN’T the way to proceed.

With an extra £12 billion, the next government should decide which problem to solve in year-1 (£12 billion) then, in year-2, another major problem can be nailed-down to a satisfying conclusion (the second £12 billion spend), and in the 3rd-year something else can be solved once and for all time with the third £12 billion spend.

Typically, democratic governments seek to please the largest number of voters by dispersing such economic windfalls (a £12 billion annual windfall in this case) relatively evenly throughout the economy. But in the UK, each major problem in the country could be permanently solved via a single-year £12 billion spend in each problem area.

And that should galvanize British minds into prioritizing the next 5-year spending round.


How Would YOU Spend It?

Maybe you’re an overworked healthcare worker. We know how you’d spend the money. And we don’t blame you. Thank you again! for all the great work you do saving lives and dramatically improving the lives of the sick and elderly with your fulsome commitment. We salute you!

Or, maybe you’re a social worker who sees lives being wasted because there aren’t enough entry-level jobs, or safe housing, or supports in place to help the young, the elderly, the infirm, or the marginalized, to help them progress out of their poverty-based existence. In such cases, even relatively small amounts of money can make a huge difference in their lives — lifting them out of poverty and into work in a matter of weeks.

Every country needs more taxpayers and lifting people from UC to employment results in a double benefit for the economy — instead of the government paying such people to basically stay alive until they’re needed in the workforce, those people will then begin to pay into the tax revenue stream. Entire towns and boroughs could be revolutionized by the addition of a relatively inexpensive 1-year spending programme to the mix.


Brexit Can Work for Farmers!

Maybe you’re a farmer/rancher worrying about your EU subsidies going away. (And they will) Of course it would be great if the UK government decided to pay you the same subsidies that you enjoyed when the UK was a member of the EU.

But even better solutions await.

Why grow a crop that doesn’t earn any money? Why continue to stay in the dairy business competing with the heavily-subsidized EU, U.S., and Canadian dairy industries? Maybe it’s time to switch gears and raise animals or grow crops that don’t need subsidies.

Or, maybe it’s time for you to rent your land to the utility companies for the installation of wind turbines for £4000. per year/per turbine? In that way, you’re earning income instead of waiting for government subsidies to suddenly fall, as we’ve seen over the decades.

In the case of wind turbine installations, most of your land remains available to you, it’s just that you lose the footprint of the turbine tower and the utility company needs a gravel access laneway to each turbine which translates to an average loss of 1-acre of land per turbine for the farmer.

Some land is too rocky to grow crops/graze cattle anyway, so that isn’t much of a loss in some cases. Certainly, receiving £4000. per year/per acre from a utility company in land lease fees beats all the work that goes into growing crops, only to gain £800. to £1200. per acre annually! And, as for grazing cattle or sheep on marginal land, an acre of that land might only be worth £60. to £100. annually to your farm. Or less.

Yes, you can tell that I love farmers and ranchers because I’ve devoted all this space to them. But it illustrates how Britons and the government need to think differently in the post-Brexit world.

Instead of competing against highly-subsidized countries (and bigger countries will always win as they have more taxpayers to pay those high subsidies) it’s time to change gears and switch towards a more sustainable and more profitable economic model.

Grow those high-demand/no-subsidy crops! Raise those animals that don’t require subsidies! Rent your less-productive farmland to utility companies for more profitable wind turbine or solar panel installations — where your profits aren’t decided in a closed-door backroom in the EU, America, or Canada.


Britons: Compete on Your Strengths, Not on Your Weaknesses!

In short, dear Britons, compete on your strengths and cease competing on your weaknesses against much larger and more highly-subsidized blocs. The degree to which you can succeed in that is the degree to which you, your family, and the UK itself, will prosper.

And in case I didn’t make it clear enough, above;

In a post-Brexit UK economy, innovation ruled by merit-based thinking is the best way for individual Britons, British families, and the UK to succeed.

Parliament Approves UK General Election for December 12th

by John Brian Shannon

The UK Parliament voted today to hold a UK General Election on December 12, 2019 which should help end the present Brexit impasse in the House of Commons.

Some 3.5-years after the June 23, 2016 referendum a majority of Britons voted to leave the EU (that’s 1,223-days ago!) and the UK is no closer to leaving the EU. So with the House of Commons deadlocked, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed for a General Election to allow their bosses (the UK People) to decide the future of the country. Smart!

A Quick Look at the Brexit File:

  • On June 23, 2016 a majority of Britons voted to leave the EU,
  • Followed by the February 1, 2017 House of Commons vote where MP’s approved  the Article 50 Withdrawal Act to Leave the European Union (498-114),
  • And then PM Theresa May’s June 8, 2017 General Election win (an election where every party ran on a platform of delivering Brexit),
  • Followed by last week’s House of Commons vote approving Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal (but in a separate vote, MP’s didn’t approve the timing of the deal)
  • Now Britons have another opportunity to weigh-in via the ultimate ‘People’s Vote’ — a UK General Election — where citizens of legal voting age can support Brexit or not, support the domestic platform of any party or not, etc.

With polls favouring the Conservatives and their lead increasing, it might be a tight race.

YouGov UK General Election 2019 voting intention tracker October 2019

YouGov Westminster voting intention tracker October 2019. Image courtesy of YouGov/Express.co.uk

Certainly the ruling Conservatives are a known quantity, in power since May 11, 2010; First with PM David Cameron until June 24, 2016, followed by PM Theresa May until July 23, 2019, and now, PM Boris Johnson since July 24, 2019 — while Labour hasn’t formed a government since PM Gordon Brown stepped down almost a decade ago.

The only way Labour can manage to stay-on as the official opposition is to run on anything but their Brexit platform, and instead, run on what they could do for the NHS, for low-cost housing, for worker’s rights and other social issues, IMHO.

While this election shouldn’t be all about Brexit, it will be for a majority of voters who want 3.5-years of economic uncertainty to end and they know the Conservatives will deliver.

The issue of our times, at present, is Brexit. And that’s what The People will be voting for, or against.


Predictions?

Based on nothing except that I always get these things right… hehehe, here are my UK General Election 2019 predictions.

The Conservatives will form a small majority government, Labour will gain many seats — while the Lib Dems, the SNP, and independent MP’s will take a beating at the polls. The Brexit Party will become the 3rd party in the House of Commons behind Labour, while the Greens and Plaid Cymru will barely hold onto their existing seats. UKIP won’t win a seat.

Whatever happens, I hope that every MP who is dedicated to serving their constituents does well in this election no matter what side of the Brexit divide they’re on.

Good MP’s like that are worth their weight in diamonds. Good luck, MP’s!


Read: UK set for 12 December general election after MP’s vote (BBC)

Read: UK General Election: A Really Simple Guide (BBC)

A New Hope: The Brexit Deal Worth Ratifying

by John Brian Shannon

Well, that didn’t take long!

Boris Johnson has been UK Prime Minister for 85-days and suddenly the UK and the EU seem to be getting along better, and a new and apparently worthwhile Brexit deal is agreed between the parties.

Of course, there’s no pleasing every side. Such agreements are enormously complex and there will always be concerns and doubts in various quarters.

The ‘devil is in the details’ as they say. But with sufficient goodwill on both sides, the UK and the EU are from this moment onward, moving forward on a better and more holistic path.


Quotes from the Brussels Summit as the New Brexit Deal was Announced

  • EC President Donald Tusk: “A deal is always preferable to No Deal.”
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “the UK and EU have agreed a great new deal” and “the UK is leaving the EU as one United Kingdom.”
  • Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal is “fair and balanced” and that, “there is no need for a further extension.”
  • And the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier said, “the new deal should provide legal certainty in every area.”
  • The DUP’s Arlene Foster said her party “cannot support the deal” although DUP support is crucial to passing this deal in Parliament. Interesting times, indeed.

Finally a Deal Worth Signing!

This isn’t Theresa May’s Brexit deal warmed-over. The Northern Ireland backstop for example, isn’t part of this agreement.

Also, Northern Ireland remains within the UK and in the UK Customs Union.

However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland remains within the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market which is ultra-important for the Northern Ireland economy and is much more convenient for the Republic of Ireland — thereby negating any need for a hard border between the two Irelands.

Further, Northern Ireland’s seat of government (Stormont) has the opportunity to opt out of this arrangement every four years.

As regards the rest of the deal, the new agreement allows the entire UK to leave the EU (at the end of 2020) as one United Kingdom (the same way it joined). And the leisurely schedule allows UK and EU businesses sufficient time to make preparations for a new regulatory environment beginning January 1, 2021.

All-in-all, quite impressive.

I must reiterate that no one side was ever going to get everything they wanted out of a Brexit Deal, but that really isn’t the point.

What is the point is that the present era of economic uncertainty is ending. And that’s good for the UK, good for the EU, and it’s an agreement that’s respectful of Northern Ireland’s unique position in all of this.

A hearty, Well Done! to leaders and negotiators on all sides of the Brexit paradox.