The Johnson government is insistent on not delaying the end of the transition period for our leaving the EU. Bromley Liberal Democrats demand an extension in this time of crisis and a rethink in immigration. Crashing out without a trade agreement is bad for the UK, and bad for Bromley.
The government's ability to rush through a trade deal in 6 months can only be impaired in the aftermath of the pandemic. Leaving the EU without a trade deal will exacebate the inevitable problems Brexit will bring, at a time where we need stability, causing tens of billions of economic damage. And with no deal and an alarmingly restrictive immigration policy, we have no hope of restoring employment and prosperity.
We need to tread carefully. Businesses will be given certainty by a decision not to delay: but only certainty that they'll be struggling for years.
Bad for Private Business
Bromley businesses are already hit hard by the pandemic and have poor support from Bromley Council. No deal will put potential income and employees out of reach for many, when they are already struggling. Bromley's joint largest employment sector is retail, and 11% of London retail workers are EU nationals. Without adequate safeguards, businesses may collapse or struggle to find employees.
Bad for Our Public Services
Even now, before any concrete changes have been made, we are seeing shocking changes in demographics.
At a time where we struggle to recruit and retain key workers, the UK government will soon subject essential workers to their hostile environment and a Home Secretary who labels them as “unskilled”. Even those who fulfil the criteria would think twice about moving to a country which views them as second-class citizens. They'd think a third time about coming to a country in economic turmoil, as all projections of a no-deal brexit would suggest.
Bad for Everyone
Government plans will favour those with job offers by “approved sponsors”, with salaries over £25,600. This squeezes out much-needed "low skilled" workers, as Priti Patel would call them. In the government's words, this is to “protect the public and enhance prosperity”. This will do nothing of the sort.
It is a tragedy that Brexit has already caused so much damage. But it would be foolish to rush head-first into a hard Brexit whose only benefit is to fulfil a Conservative Party manifesto.
One EU national from the Bromley Liberal Democrats has said,
"With our rights only being secondary legislation I do feel a bit exposed to future changes or having these rights removed."
For EU nationals in need of support, visit here.