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Brexit: Has it been a success and what should happen next?

As the General Election on July 4 looms and the race to Westminster gathers speed, the Indie is asking the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Reform UK candidates for the Hertford and Stortford seat to answer a series of questions on the key issues identified by readers. We start with:

Has Brexit been a success and what should happen next?

John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate for Hertford and Stortford
John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Dr John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate and a former Sawbridgeworth mayor and town councillor: “Brexit is not what it should or could have been. We needed to get out from under the Brussels merry-go-round, but we have, to a large extent, wasted the opportunity to make a clean break, leave the European Convention on Human Rights and apply our own rules and regulations.

“Several other countries have voiced their disapproval of imposed ‘EU rules’. The fact that we are not alone in thinking about leaving this mess is food for thought.

“The European Central Bank has made a complete mess of the Euro situation and has now established a transition pathway for banks in the Eurozone to become net zero contributors with threats that if they do not comply (which most of them currently don’t) they will be heavily fined.

“As a large proportion of bank earnings is from carbon-intensive sectors, this poses a problem for the economic stability of the Eurozone. Not being a part of this is a plus.”

Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate and a Herts county councillor for St Albans: “Annual tax take down £40 billion. 100,000 more civil servants to deal with the extra red tape that is strangling UK business and that caused a third of UK food inflation. Taxes are up, food is going off and sewage in our rivers is increasing.

“This Tory Brexit has inflicted untold damage on our economy, especially for farmers, the fishing industry and small businesses.

“Poland’s PM recently said that because of Brexit, Poles will be wealthier than Brits in five years.

“We need to start mitigating the damage by removing trade barriers with our closest and biggest market through measures like a veterinary agreement, and joining Erasmus to restore youth opportunities.

“We should join the Single Market to restore the British economy and opportunities for our businesses and citizens. Our longer-term objective is EU membership with the people’s consent, so we can restore our place in Europe and the world.”

Nick Cox, Green Party candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Nick Cox, Green Party candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Nick Cox, Green Party candidate and a member of East Herts Council for Ware, writes: “In Lord of the Flies, a novel by William Golding, a bunch of public schoolboys take control of a remote island and quickly collapse into vicious in-fighting.

“It’s supposed to be fictional, but the Tories have made it a reality, a living nightmare that Labour won’t wake us from.

“Brexit hasn’t brought us a single tangible benefit. It has been all pain and no gain. The average Briton was nearly £2,000 worse off in 2023 because of Brexit.

“Economically it’s been a disaster, causing labour shortages, a collapse in foreign investment and sharply reduced trade. Young people, in particular, have suffered, unable to explore, study and live on the continent.

“As Greens, we believe the UK should rejoin the EU. We will restore freedom of movement, rejoin the Customs Union to boost trade and end the destruction of EU legislation that protects workers’ rights and the environment.

“Most people now agree Brexit has been a disaster. It’s time to admit our mistake and end the social, environmental and economic damage.”

Josh Dean, Labour candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Josh Dean, Labour candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Josh Dean, Labour candidate and a member of Hertford Town Council: “Labour respects the outcome of the 2016 referendum and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. But under the Conservatives, Brexit has not been a success. We now need to build a better, strong relationship with Europe based on mutual respect and the need to work closely with our major trading partners.

“Labour will review the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with a view to expanding the terms of the agreement. Britain’s current trade deal with the EU is superficial and its scheduled review in 2025 should be used as an opportunity to create a closer trading relationship.

“Labour will reach an agreement with the EU on veterinary standards; mutual recognition of conformity assessments and professional qualifications; improved labour mobility arrangements.

“We will agree a security pact and take steps to ease the impact of post-Brexit checks on food and agriculture products. At the same time, we will ensure that we retain control of UK borders and laws.”

Julie Marson, Conservative candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Julie Marson, Conservative candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Julie Marson, Conservative candidate seeking re-election: “Since our departure from the EU, our economy has grown at a faster rate than Japan, Germany and Italy. We are taking advantage of our economic power and re-establishing our nation on the world stage.

“We have been able to cut some taxes and unnecessary bureaucracy for British businesses and this new-found agility was critical in our groundbreaking development and rollout of Covid vaccines and rebuilding the economy following the pandemic.

“As an ex-member of the Business and Trade Committee, I am particularly proud of the 73 trade agreements we have established globally, including the landmark CPTPP agreement. We have eliminated over 500 trade barriers since 2020, including with the US, our biggest trading partner.

“While it has brought its challenges, Brexit is delivering long-term and sustainable changes to our trade and economy, breaking down barriers and enabling us to keep up with the rapidly developing world around us.”

Hertford and Stortford candidates
Hertford and Stortford candidates

There are two other candidates for Hertford and Stortford: Jane Fowler, of the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom, and Barry Hensall, of the Heritage Party.

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