BLOG: With May’s speech imminent I outline why a hard-Brexit will hurt the economy, education and Northern Ireland

Welcome back and happy New Year.

Last week there were a number of Westminster committee inquiries focused on Brexit – specifically centring on the economy, education and Northern Ireland. On the topic of the economy, City experts unanimously agreed that the UK needed a three-year transitional deal at the end of the Article 50 process. They argued that without such an arrangement, major banks and other financial service firms will take pre-emptive action at a potentially large cost to the sector and the wider economy.

The Education Committee also held its first evidence session on the impact of exiting the European Union on higher education. The Committee heard warnings from university leaders that Brexit risked setting British universities back decades, with other EU countries already actively looking to poach talented staff and students. Furthermore, many universities have no channel for raising concerns to the Brexit Department and the Department for Education – these concerns must be addressed.

Finally, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee heard from the agricultural sector. Mike Johnston, the Northern Ireland director for Dairy UK, told MPs about a third of milk from cows in Northern Ireland is transported across the border for production into butter, cheese and infant formula, and that “dairy farmers would have to go out of business as a consequence of their milk not being able to be processed” – especially if barriers to trade with the Republic of Ireland are erected.

Now we await Theresa May’s Tuesday statement where she will outline her Brexit strategy. Many are anticipating a hard-Brexit and as a result the pound has devalued further. A hard-Brexit means leaving the Single Market – and that means cutting ourselves off to the world’s largest market on our doorstep. These concerns were reflected at the Investing in Energy Consumers’ Future event that I moderated. If were going to tackle energy poverty we need long-term investment – most of it coming from the EU.

We will wait and see what the Prime Minister has to say. However, one thing is certain – Theresa May has grossly underestimated the task that lies ahead if she opts to leave the Single Market.

Thanks for reading and you can follow my work on here and Twitter: @TheresaMEP