As an MEP, you will not be surprised to hear that I am closely involved in developments since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. The process has many unknowns, so it is my role to use my platform at the heart of EU politics to give an accurate, honest assessment of how it is going.
As the government’s ploughs ahead with its ideologically driven version of Brexit, I worry that many of our families, institutions and businesses are being harmed. This has been confirmed by meetings with various figures leading in a variety of sectors, from business, health and education. Almost all are very concerned about the impact of leaving the EU. The greatest priority for me in terms of representing the West Midlands throughout the Brexit process is to make sure all jobs in the region are secure. More than that, we need to leave ourselves in a position to be able to build more jobs and industry for the future.
Much of this will hinge on our closeness to the European Single Market, for which we currently depend on for 44% of our exports. It is possible for the UK to remain part of the Single Market, even after leaving the EU. Our priority has to be to secure a deal which at the very least gives us tariff free access to the Single Market, in order to give us time to negotiate new trade deals.
You can read what I have written recently about Brexit on my blog here.
Labour MEPs have had a number of meetings with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, who clarified the following timetable for the UK’s departure from the EU. Negotiations have been split into three separate topics: disentangling past ties and commitments; setting goals for future relations; and arranging transition terms to avoid unnecessary disruption. Each one could take between four and eight months. This is how that will work, assuming all goes to plan...
1. Withdrawal (June to December 2017):
The first stage, which we are currently in, will focus on three key topics: the financial settlement, citizens rights and border issues in Ireland.
2. Future Relationship (January to June 2018):
This is where the future trade deal will be discussed. David Davis will aim to have a fully fleshed out trade deal, while Barnier will be happy to agree the general aims and principles for a deal. Unlike normal trade deals, the EU-UK deal will need to diverge rather than converge regulations. A key area will be how the UK and EU can agree changes in rules.
3. Transitionary deal (July to October 2018):
Assuming the above negotiations have been successful, in this period the UK and the EU will discuss a transitionary arrangement, involving the European Courts of Justice, trade and free movement.