Saturday 2 January 2021

A strange kind of freedom


The BBC reported yesterday that six lorries had been turned back at Holyhead due to incorrect or incomplete documentation following the Brexit changes. This is fake news, a deliberate attempt to suggest that there are new barriers to trade across the Irish Sea. We know that there are no such barriers, because the PM has consistently told us so, and I distinctly remember him telling businesses that anyone asked to fill in any extra forms should telephone him and he would instruct them to throw the forms in the bin. The only new procedure required at the port should have been to ensure that Johnson’s phone number was given to all lorry drivers on arrival. Have the people turning lorries away at Holyhead not properly prepared for Brexit by ensuring that they have the PM’s phone number immediately to hand? How difficult can that have been?

As of yesterday, the UK is apparently a sovereign state able to make its own rules as it wishes with no interference from Brussels. As a member of the EU, the UK could have chosen to ignore EU rules and regulations, but would then have faced fines and penalties according to a set of rules agreed by all members. However, as an independent sovereign state, the UK now has complete freedom to deviate from any EU rules that it doesn’t like, subject only to the EU’s right under the trade agreement to impose more-or-less any tariffs and quotas it chooses in response. It’s heady stuff, this freedom – only a truly sovereign state could free itself of the obligation to help decide what penalties it should face for non-adherence to agreed rules. The UK is free to set its own rules, and the EU is free to set the penalties for doing so. In the strange world of Brexiteers, this is apparently a good thing.

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