The Prime Minister's Hard Brexit speech left many questions hanging over our future relationship with Europe. I have written to her with just five of them. Read the full letter here:
Dear Prime Minister,
Just over six months have passed since you took office and until this week attempting to understand what “Brexit means Brexit” or a “red, white and blue Brexit” meant amounted to little more than guesswork. After six months of sound bites which have only further obscured the direction this country is heading in, clarity on what kind of Brexit the Government is pursuing is welcome.
We now know that your Government intends to leave the world’s largest free trading market in order to become a free trading nation. You hope to attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain by putting at risk the very programmes which give thousands the opportunity to do so. You hope to make Britain one of the best places for science and innovation by threatening the European collaboration projects which make this possible. For the millions who did not vote for a hard Brexit the direction you have chosen is deeply worrying.
Those concerned by the uncertainties within your plan will demand answers to the questions that still hang over our future relationship with Europe. For now I have just five questions in response to your speech:
- The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has admitted that hundreds of vital environmental protection regulations cannot be directly transposed under your “Great Repeal Bill”. What action will be taken to ensure that these vital protections are not eroded and what is the expected cost of replacing these regulations and their financial support that presently comes from the EU?
- To help attract the brightest and best students to the UK, do you aim to maintain programmes such as Erasmus to help students live, work and study across Europe, as well as other schemes to support post-doctoral scientists and engineers?
- The UK is currently the largest beneficiary of science and research funding in the EU. To protect Britain’s position as one of the best places in the world for science and innovation, does this Government aim to ensure full access to EU science collaboration after Brexit, such as the development of 5G at the University of Surrey, the Diamond light project at Harrell and the JET project at Culham, and how much will this cost?
- The EU currently has trade agreements that cover 53 markets across the world. We will no longer have access to these agreements under your hard Brexit plan. How does this Government plan to quickly replace these lost agreements?
- As Home Secretary you warned that outside of the EU we would have no access to the European Arrest Warrant. What action do you plan to take to ensure wanted individuals can be brought back to Britain and others deported speedily to face justice and what are you advising the Treasury of the cost of continuing our cooperation with European anti-crime bodies such as Europol and Eurojust?
You have said that those who urge the Government to reveal more of their plan will not be acting in the “national interest”. However, for many ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ voters who see the value in protecting a close relationship with our European partners these questions deserve an answer.
A narrow majority for ‘Leave’ does not give you or your Government a mandate to pursue a nationalist vision for Europe. You have said that the essential ingredient to the success of a hard Brexit will be the strength and support of 65 million people willing you to make it a possibility. However, you must not forget those 48% who never endorsed the path you have chosen.
Catherine Bearder MEP