The other day, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK economy shrank by 20.4% in April, due to the effects from the coronavirus pandemic that saw the UK in lockdown and employees being furloughed from their jobs and the self-employed being unable to work. This is the biggest fall the UK has ever seen and is 10 times larger than the previous steepest fall. Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said “We face the most serious economic challenge in generations. This is not a time to exit the world’s largest market. This is not a time to increase trade barriers. This is not a time to deny business skills they need with a damaging new immigration system.”
“Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for a Green Recovery Plan and policies that back responsible businesses.”
“We can create jobs and protect the environment by investing in new, green technologies but we need imaginative new policies and strong political leadership.
“The Prime Minister should not be putting Britain’s chances for an economic recovery in jeopardy by insisting on an arbitrary Brexit transition deadline and risking a devastating no deal Brexit,” said Ed Davey.
Thankfully, the Welsh Government has been more cautious with proposals to lift the lockdown and we have seen the R rate drop from 0.8 to 0.7. In England, we have seen this week that non-essential shops have been able to reopen, but figures also show that the R rate is increasing towards 1. If it goes back above 1, we could see the start of the 2nd wave, or will it be the continuation of the 1st wave?
From the start of the negotiations with the EU, the Boris and the Tories have said that it would be easy to get a good deal and that the EU needed us more than we needed them. We have seen regular comments from Government Ministers that the EU must cave into the Tory Government demands or they will walk away and we will leave the transition period on 31st December 2020 with no deal.
We are hearing some noises that the Government are talking up the possibility of a deal being reached, but after over 4 years of hearing from Boris & Co, it is very difficult for us to tell whether this is true or yet another lie.
With the havoc to the UK economy that we have seen since the lockdown commenced in March, surely the Government is not going to walk away without a deal with the EU?
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI boss has said that walking away from trade talks without a deal would be “catastrophic” for business and would act as a building block to rebuilding the economy. Business would have no time to prepare for a no deal scenario on top of the devastating effect they have encountered from the coronavirus crisis. Dame Carolyn likened a no deal scenario to “setting fire to the garden shed” when the house is in flames.
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Chair – Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats
16th June 2020