BLOG: #ShambolicBrexit continues as David Davis visits the European Parliament and Philip Hammond fails to ‘cook the books’
The #ShambolicBrexit saga continues as David Davis visits the European Parliament and Philip Hammond fails to ‘cook the books’ – here’s your EU weekly round-up.
Last week, David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) visited the European Parliament to ‘secure the best deal for the UK’. Having belatedly realised that the European Parliament will have a final say on any Brexit deal, Davis needed to build alliances and show MEPs that the government has a plan. Guess what – he failed on both accounts. Whether it be the Single Market, Customs Union, research funding, or law enforcement cooperation; MEPs, MPs, the British people and industry are none the wiser.
Poor diplomacy was also followed by Philip Hammond’s (Chancellor of the Exchequer) woeful Autumn Statement. The chancellor announced there would be an extra £122 billion in borrowing – £58.7bn of which is a direct result of the vote to leave and amplified uncertainty created by the government’s lack of response. Forget an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, Brexit is costing us an extra £226 million a week, and the government is doing nothing to shield hard working people and our most vulnerable.
Continued uncertainty also threatens to undermine the progressive work of Labour MEPs in the European Parliament. For example, last week Labour MEPs voted on measures to combat cross-border VAT fraud. Fraud involving VAT on goods exported to other Member States costs EU taxpayers an estimated €50 billion (£42.5bn) a year, while, the ‘VAT gap’ between expected revenue and revenue actually collected is estimated at €170bn (£144bn). It is paramount that the UK government backs EU action to combat cross-border VAT fraud and abides by any new measures post-Brexit – the answer is obvious.
I had similar discussions with Centrica Energy and Solar Power Europe about the UK’s relationship with the EU’s Energy Union post-Brexit. Whether it is meeting our climate change targets or keeping energy prices down, the EU offers the finance and economies of scale to meet our energy goals. Once again, how does the UK government intend to tackle the anti-competitive practices of the Big 6 energy companies outside of the EU? It is these questions, and more, that Theresa May’s government needs to start answering.
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