Blog by Kerri Prince, BASW Public and Political Affairs Lead
Earlier this month, I wrote a piece for BASW on what a ‘no deal’ would mean, and speculated that Boris Johnson may be successful in securing a deal with the European Union and bring the deal to Parliament before 31st December before the transition period ended – and that’s exactly what he did.
By a margin of 521 – 73 at Second Reading, Members of Parliament have voted in favour of backing the deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union brought to the House of Commons on 30th December.
1651 days since the UK voted to leave the European Union, there now seems to be some clarity about what the future relationship between the EU and the UK will look like, giving assurance to businesses across the country.
In order to be able to get an idea of what this deal actually entails, we need to look past the political bluster and there will be further analysis by sector experts over the coming weeks and months as the impact of this deal starts to become known.
What we do know so far is that there will be no taxes on goods between the UK and EU countries when they cross borders, and there will be no limits on the amount of things which can be traded. For businesses who rely on EU countries for trade, this is undoubtedly positive – although trade will not be as easy as it currently is. Increased difficulties in trade could impact the number of jobs that businesses can afford, leading to a rise in unemployment which will have a knock on effect of the wellbeing of people in the county and poverty levels.
Despite the sigh of relief that will come with a deal, there is also a key argument that even with the agreement, our rights and responsibilities will be watered down.
One scheme that the UK will no longer be participating in is Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) which is a EU funded programme that allows students within the EU to study in other countries. This will be seen as weakening opportunities for young British people.
In practical terms, people in Britain will see a difference as this deal comes into effect.
There will be queues at airports, visas for longer visits, and importantly – it will be harder for people from the EU to work in our health and social care system.
This raises concerns about whether we will have enough workers to provide the support services that so many people depend on, which will lead to services being weakened or even made non-existent.
This deal is not as good as the deal that we had as a full member of the European Union, but it is undoubtedly better than a no deal which was the only alternative at this point. A no deal would have meant weakened national security, a free-for-all on workers’ rights and environmental protections, and less stability for the Northern Ireland protocol.
The challenge now falls on Boris Johnson to handle any fallout from our withdrawal from the European Union, and to ensure that British people do not see a drop in their quality of life or see opportunities closed off to them that were once open.