While the United Kingdom has been responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the innovation of both UK businesses and the UK Government has been put to the test.
We have seen great willingness to help our country fight on and build towards recovery – whether it’s manufacturers completely changing their operations to create new prototypes for masks and ventilators or the Government taking the brave decision to support workers and businesses via furlough schemes and large-scale subsidies. All of this shows us that if we wish to succeed on the world stage after the Pandemic, we must harness this mentality and focus on supporting UK businesses and industries in the months and years after we exit the Brexit Transition Period at the end of this year.
One of the key areas where this applies is in the support the Government needs to give businesses as the UK steps out onto the global stage to promote Free Trade. These trade deals – such as the ones now being negotiated with Japan and the USA – are the key to the UK’s recovery from COVID-19 and our ability to grow post-Brexit.
The future for the United Kingdom is to lead the world as a bastion of free trade. However, in parallel with this ambition, we must make sure we do not hang our domestic industries out to dry.
However, while we should be prioritising free trade deals with countries all over the world, this does not mean opening up the UK for the dominance of foreign goods in our markets. If we want this country to really thrive after Brexit, we must provide protection for UK businesses to allow them to compete on a real ‘Level Playing Field’ (unlike in the deal the EU is currently trying to impose on us). For example, we must make sure we push forward with the ambitious new Agriculture Bill currently awaiting approval from the House of Lords, making sure UK farmers are supported and not left hanging out to dry when they try to compete with the unfairly and heavily subsidised farmers in other countries.
This is not about going overboard with protectionism, as some would suggest, but giving businesses a leg-up to the next level, ensuring we actually have goods to sell on the world stage with all the new trade deals we intend to sign. A system like the Common Agriculture Policy however, is not the future, and we must make sure we are free of any EU regulations tying us to this ridiculous and illegal approach.
On manufacturing – for far too long we have become dependent on foreign imports to create the world class products we are so well known for. For example, a recent study by the Henry Jackson Foundation found there were 71 critical goods for which the UK is heavily reliant on China. This level of dependence cannot continue, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the failings of the Chinese Government to adequately respond and cooperate with the international community.
Instead, once fully out of the EU, we must take a more aggressive approach in supporting our manufacturers – after all it is the ingenuity they have provided which has helped to ensure the National Health Service was not overwhelmed by COVID-19. The same applies to the much-needed support for our agricultural industry. In order for this country to thrive and for our free trade deals to be optimised, we must make sure we continue to grow and develop new and evermore innovative products. Onward growth of British industry can only happen if the Government backs businesses by providing support and protection as they get back on their feet, whether in the form of subsidies or tax incentives.
We cannot expect to compete on the world stage if our factories are not operating at their optimum level and when they are facing off against cheap stock from competitors, such as China. UK goods should be the preference for companies and consumers here in the UK – and the world over. Once free of the EU, there will never be a better opportunity to radically reassess our approach to domestic industry.
I must be clear – the future for the United Kingdom is to lead the world as a bastion of free trade. However, in parallel with this ambition, we must make sure we do not hang our domestic industries out to dry. It is about time we focused on giving UK businesses every advantage they can get to outcompete their competitors. This kind of mentality and drive has been shown by both the Government and businesses throughout this COVID-19 crisis. Now we must look ahead and transfer this innovation to our approach to a new Global Britain. We must be a country free from European regulation, driving towards a free trade agenda, all while supporting and encouraging domestic business.
However, all of this is only possible if we Get Britain Out of the EU – free from it’s regulation – on time, on December 31st, 2020.
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