Guess what – Surrey admits Brexit is bad for us

Brexit is bad for us says Surrey County Council’s impact assessment – now that it has finally been revealed.

Thanks to Monica Harding working with other local Lib Dem members and our campaign with the Surrey Advertiser, the Information Commissioner’s Office have ordered Surrey County Council to release their Brexit Impact assessments.

And guess what, brexit is really bad.
‘No deal’ means that the UK would be treated by the EU as a 3rd country and would be subject to full 3rd country controls, including completing customs declarations and being subject to a variety of border checks.

Brexit is not included as a risk within the National Risk Assessment 2016. Although the risks associated with BREXIT can be drawn from this document

On the Surrey Community Risk Register in a no deal brexit scenario the following risks are identified:
H14 – Food Supply contamination
H60 – High consequence dangerous goods / transport accident
H24 – Emerging Infectious Diseases
H25 – Major outbreak of exotic notifiable disease in animals (including birds)
H37 – Influx of British Nationals

The following risks have also been identified in the SCC report:

  • Loss of cover due to industrial action by workers providing a service critical to the preservation of life (such as emergency service workers)
  • Local accident on motorways and major trunk roads
  • Public Disorder
  • Notifiable plant disease / Notifiable exotic invertebrate species

Within SLRF partners own risk management processes there is the risk to the supply chain where goods and products are imported from the European mainland

And the kicker – as of 20 July 2018, HMG has suggested that partners should have plans in face for a four week period of disruption (that is increased controls by EU states at ports, including Eurotunnel) plus a two week period to allow the impact to return to relatively normal levels of service.

Key consequences:

  • Surrey expect long delays in accessing Dover ports and Eurotunnel in Kent.
  • Temporary closure or permanent changes to all or part of the M20 and M26 to support Operation Stack and other mitigations for port delays.
  • Significant reduction in the capacity of the Surrey Highway Network, with consequential increase in local and pan Surrey road journey times, impacting on local residents and businesses.
  • Significant long term detrimental impact on county’s economic competitiveness, attractiveness
  • Significant disruption to health and social care delivery within the community; for patients travelling to hospitals for treatment and for critical staff in getting to work

Significant disruption to the food supply chain with delays in the exportation of food from Britain, and importation of food from the rest of Europe and non EU countries.
Significant disruption to the distribution of medication around the county along with supply chain of medication from outside of Britain.

Significant economic and environmental impacts for Surrey or in other words – total chaos to our supply chains. That’s food and medicine supplies to the shops. We learn of nearly half million homeless in Britain, and one in five children living with severe food insecurity, and then Brexit contingency plans say supplies will be disrupted. Welcome to the land of hunger.

When was the government last right on a timescale? The Prime Minister couldn’t even get the date of the meaningful vote delivered, a simple vote in parliament. What hope ferries delivering vital food and medicine to Britain? How long will four weeks stretch on for with failing Chris Grayling, four months? four years?

Surrey hid it from us, even though it all its contents were already in the public domain. Why?

Surrey County Council has only included in its impact assessment existing published information. Why did they try to hide it from residents? Were they ashamed of their own lack of activity, or following the minority conservative governments orders against the interests of the residents of Surrey?

Surrey County Council obviously feared the residents of Surrey would be unhappy to learn of their plans, and so decide to keep them hidden. They found the only legal argument they could to try and hide behind. To refuse to provide local residents with information about Brexit preparations, to deny FOI requests, and to keep secrets from residents. They relied upon an exception intended for cases of national emergency and public order. They relied upon the section 36(2)(c) exemption – the catch all exception – using “safe space arguments” to delay the publication of supposedly important contingency plans.

And they have been found to have done so improperly, with the ICO ordering the information be released.

A victory for Surrey residents against a secretive county council seeking to keep the residents of Surrey in the dark.

Yet the plans are half baked, barely worth the effort of reading. What a farce of a county council.

Surrey residents left in the dark again.

Opinion and Analysis – Time to turn to the pro-EU party

By Sam Vete

Braab braab black (belt) sheep, have you any wool? 
                         No Sir, no Sir none at all!
Said there would be plenty, but the bags are empty – it is plain!
     Nothing for the businessmen
, working hard down the lane!

Walton and Esher Tory voters, you have been warned! Dump Dominic, the monomaniac ideologue who puts his personal fantasy before the interests of his voters. He displays laughable ignorance of ‘realpolitik’; the significance of the Dover/Calais trade route and the difficulties of a small island (not an empire) in the maelstrom of global trade.

Braab, poster-boy of the referendum campaign, becomes the emasculated bell-wether black sheep, entering the pen along with retrogressive 17th century throwbacks; the ERG and Parliamentary hard-core brexiters. He rejects the directions of ‘one dame and her dogs’ (May and the whips) and has chosen his own selfish dogma. He even puts the UK at risk of a ‘no deal’, acknowledged to be far worse than any other deal.

Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of May’s BINO (brexit in name only) deal, like it or not, it would be better to stay in the EU. Braab has shown himself to be out-of-step with the electorate, locally and nationally. It is time to rid politics of such extremists. He should either be deselected (q.v. Kate Hoey) or voted out.

Don’t imagine for a minute that Labour will be galloping to the rescue. That way lies shepherd Corbyn’s brexit crook and a return to 20th century socialism.

Now is the time to turn to the pro-EU party, the LibDems. Our agenda deals with real issues:
Schooling and education
Affordable housing
Protection of the green belt
Realistic funding options for the NHS
… And, of course, an ‘exit from brexit’!

Brexitometer highlights anti-Brexit sentiment in Elmbridge

Monica Harding, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Esher & Walton, together with her campaign team are hitting the streets of Elmbridge and asking residents about their Brexit concerns – using Brexitometer. In it locals are invited to give their view on five Brexit-related questions, by placing star stickers in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ boxes. So far this street action has taken place in Walton and Claygate. Esher, Cobham, Molesey, Thames Ditton and Long Ditton are next in line.
There is no doubt about how Elmbridge residents are responding to Brexit – it is not going well, it is bad for our future, it will hurt NHS and economy. Mr Raab also gets a thumbs down when it comes to his role in the process. So no wonder a large majority of residents demand a People’s Vote.

If you’d like to hear more about Brexitometer or talk with Monica about your concerns, get in touch by emailing her – monica_harding@hotmail.com – or call her on 07799 704816.

 

Brexit lobby in the Netherlands

Dual nationality

On April 21st, one of our councillor candidates, Francisca Oxley, was invited with two colleagues to present to a Dutch parliamentary committee about Brexit. This was a good opportunity to push for EU citizens rights after Brexit via a local EU27 government.

Francisca says: “There was very limited time to drive home some key points, so we decided to start our session with a video about dual nationality. We discussed why becoming British without losing Dutch nationality is so important now with Brexit. If you want to watch the video, you can see it here (2.5 minutes).

Brexit

Francisca Oxley, Hedwig Hegtermans and Nicole Wevers with the director consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan Willem Beaujean.

 Citizens Rights

The second part of the meeting was spent on explaining the difficulties with citizens’ rights (both for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU). The Windrush scandal (which has also been reported in the Dutch news) served to illustrate that there is no trust in the Home Office for good reason!

Francisca continues: “We mentioned groups that are in danger of falling through the cracks (think of housewives, carers, children turning adult during the Brexit process). Even though the home office promises to be generous and light touch, the Windrush scandal shows EU citizens need more than promises. We also discussed the fact that a five year limit on the right of return is not enough. It would make studying in Europe and then taking a first job abroad very difficult! We highlighted that EU citizens in Britain have mixed families. They could lose their Settled Status and have to try to get some sort of visa from scratch. This would reduce EU-UK families to Skype Families (as already is happening with non-EU people). We asked the Dutch government to not forget the citizens’ rights among the trade deals and other agreements.

We ended by asking for support for Dutch nationals returning to the Netherlands after Brexit. If you are interested or want to practise your Dutch you can read the position paper here (fifth paper down the end).

Sir Vince Cable talks to local Lib Dems

 

Christine Elmer, Lib Dem Councillor for Walton South and Chris Elmer, Lib Dem candidate for Walton South in May 2018

Vince Cable with Vicki Macleod,  candidate for Weybridge Lib Dems in Elmbridge council elections in May 2018.  

On 30th November Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke to a packed village hall in Claygate. His message was clear, Brexit is a disaster, the government is in turmoil and divided, and three great problems are in the way of a successful ‘divorce’ of Britain from Europe.

Sir Vince Cable expressed much concern over how “the loss of European nurses and doctors in Kingston Hospital and other critical services impacts patient care negatively”. This is just one of the many consequences of Brexit.

Hospitality industries are beginning to suffer from lack of workforce, agriculture cannot get seasonal workers, universities are losing European students, research grants are being denied to our scientists and the list keeps growing.

According to Cable, it’s understandable why businesses in the City and beyond are preparing to relocate. Uncertainty caused by Brexit is bad for business as it makes future planning difficult and discourages much needed investment in skills and new enterprise. This feeds the downward cycle of low wages, low productivity, and poor economic performance.

Vince Cable spoke at the Liberal Exchange hosted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and outlined the serious challenges Britain faces in “tortuously complex Brexit talks”. He also explained why the Liberal Democrats are advocating the people’s right to choose between staying in the EU on current terms or accepting the deal negotiated by the government. “This will be the first referendum based on facts, not on fiction and fraudulent promises”, Cable argued.

The keen audience kept Sir Vince on his feet for the best part of two hours with questions ranging from a variety of Brexit issues to the government’s ongoing austerity measures, funding of higher education, apprenticeships and further education plus more. Disappointingly for Cable the current Tory government is “destroying the successful apprenticeship scheme with the ill-advised new levy”. In this context Cable emphasised the need for ‘non-tribal’ thinking in solving the country’s problems, although sadly “tribalism is rife in British politics and hampers progress”.

Sir Vince talked about Brexit’s debilitating effect on many government departments. “Their work has ground to a halt due to lack of resource or political ‘bandwidth’. The whole country suffers as a result.” “Yet there is much work to be done quite apart from Brexit to eradicate the plight of social exclusion, generational divisions, regional inequality and re-empowering local government. This is the agenda for us Liberal Democrats,” Vince Cable concluded.

Jaska Alanko, Liberal Democrat with Sir Vince

Vince Cable with Barry Fairbank, Lib Dem Councillor for Long Ditton