Brexit

Three times as many Lincolnshire businesses fear future COVID lockdown measures more than the impact of Brexit, according to new research by a local law firm.

Lincoln-based Langleys Solicitors conducted the research of 250 UK business owners and directors for its ‘Back to Business’ report that will be published this month.

With the nation currently in lockdown due to coronavirus, survey participants were asked to score a variety of business challenges from one to 10 (lowest to highest concern).

Business in Lincolnshire scored the future threat of pandemic measures at 7.2 out of 10 compared to 6.9 for Brexit.

Concern for future pandemic restrictions was scored 10 by twice as many business owners and directors than Brexit – 18.2% compared to 9.1% – despite support measures such as the extended furlough scheme.

Senior leaders felt that the coronavirus crisis presented a bigger task in the next five years of business than increased regulation (6.6), the challenge of exporting (5.9) and increased competition (6.2).

Some 64% of respondents in Lincolnshire said that a prolonged second and third wave, and subsequent lockdown, is a larger risk to their businesses than Brexit in the next 12 months.

Some 41% of the survey respondents in the area are considering redundancies, while 27% now have fewer staff than pre-lockdown.

The research also found that 55% of businesses in the area have experienced decreased customer demand due to coronavirus and lockdown restrictions.

It is therefore unsurprisingly to see that 68% of businesses in the county have had to change their business model as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. This is higher than the national average of 58%.

Nationally, 20% of businesses reported future pandemic measures as their biggest challenge rather than 7% who said Brexit.

Tim Cross, managing partner at Langleys Solicitors said: “Brexit and coronavirus made 2020 a very difficult year for businesses and their owners and, as lockdowns continue to tighten, businesses under tier 3 and 4 regulations could be facing their worst fears once again.

“Business owners and leaders in Lincolnshire have reported disproportional troubles, with more businesses in the area facing decreased customer demands and business models changes than the national average.

“Sadly, 41% of our survey respondents in the area are considering redundancies and the news of a new virus strain and the introduction of stricter tiered measures are likely to turn these considerations into difficult decisions for business owners.”

The 1st of January 2021 will, according to those who have fought so hard for decades, be our independence day. The day we took back control, the day Britain began to mightily prosper again. But hang on, it’s over. We can drop the hyperbole and the jingoism at last.

There is no doubt that the changes will be profound, not only for those in the UK but for those who remain in the EU too. The European Project never quite made it and General de Gaulle was proved to have been right about Britain after all.

But is the saga really over? Have we really heard and felt the last of the longest divorce in history? Of course we have not. Britain is now facing a new relationship with our closest neighbours and trading partners, but if we continue the marital metaphor, with our own family too.

The referendum told us many things about Britain. It told us that we are a proud and naturally independent people. A people that never really fitted into a union. It told us that in more ways than one. The electorate in Scotland and Northern Ireland took a very different view of the EU to those in England and Wales. They showed just how independent they could be too.

The United Kingdom is now on borrowed time. Even the most ardent unionists know that it cannot be held together for much longer. Brexit has not united the kingdom, it has split it asunder. The four nations that constitute it are now little more than the remnant of empire, one that has been long consigned to history. The parliamentary system and anachronistic constitution have been battered by infighting and factionalism to the point of atrophy.

Those who read the history of the latter half of the 20th century will know that the UK was in pretty poor shape before it joined the European Economic Community in the early 1970s. With its derelict industrial base ruled by all powerful and dictatorial labour unions and a management structure fixated by antiquated practices, the UK was on its last legs. Struggling with massive debt, going cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund for bailouts, a total basket case.

We have no need to fear a return of those times. Our long membership of the EU, and in particular what Britain brought to the EU, was well reciprocated. The hard line Brexiteers might dream of returns to a bygone age, but they should be careful what they wish for. In any case, our time with Europe proper taught us to be European. There was little about pre Common Market Britain that many would want to return to.

So what does the future look like for the UK, or more to the point does it have one? We know that Scotland will soon be demanding a new independence referendum of its own. At the moment, while the language may be harsh, Scotland has only asked for one. It is obvious that the Westminster government cannot resist that indefinitely. The referendum is coming, and coming soon.

It is only a matter of time before the Border Poll is called in Ireland. Those who drafted and implemented the Good Friday Agreement always knew that the eventual outcome was a united Ireland, and it still is. It will not be long before Scotland and Ireland have gone — and with that the UK will be gone.

It is not so much the two nations leaving the UK, but the UK being dissolved in its entirety. Not only will Scotland become a new independent nation, so will England and Wales. Ireland will become part of the Republic and the EU automatically. The United Kingdom, Britain, will be gone as a political entity, it will cease to exist as a nation.

The deal just done with the EU will cease to be in force and will have to be renegotiated because the UK will no longer exist as a state.

So here’s the rest of the deal to come. England will regain its independence and there will be no justification for the Westminster Parliament. A small federation of autonomous regions will be more democratic.

England will not be a part of NATO or any other international treaty and neither will Scotland. As new states, they will have to renegotiate membership of all international and supra national organisations.

The British military will be dismantled as the Scots and Irish regiments will no longer be a part of a British Army. The nuclear submarine base at Faslane will have to be either moved or closed. The North Atlantic will no longer be patrolled by the RAF, so Russian reconnaissance aircraft will have a free rein between Norway, Scotland and Iceland.

The role of the Monarchy will need to be totally redefined and much diminished as part of the constitutional democracy.

All maritime resources including much of the current UK fishing grounds will go to Scotland and Ireland, as will what is left of North Sea oil and gas.

The last remnants of empire will be gone for good. When the curtain comes down, it is time to leave the stage. Merry England can then step down from its self-perceived world role and begin to operate like Sweden or Norway.

Those who planted the independence seed in their desire for a ‘free’ United Kingdom set free the independence genie from the union bottle. No amount of bluster or panegyric will put it back

I Iook forward to obtaining my English passport without a care at all what colour it might be.

Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Public Administration at the University of Lincoln.

Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh has called on his party to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson “to the hilt” as he attempts to end the Brexit deadlock.

Sir Edward Leigh said that the country “wants a deal and we’re willing to compromise” but that if the EU refused to “a reasonable deal that allows us to be a sovereign country” they should support the Conservative leader.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: “When I was a spear carrier in the Brexit referendum […] we assured the British people that a trade deal was entirely achievable.

“So can I urge my right honourable friend to make one last effort, and surely that deal is achievable because we have no intention of lowering our standards.

“But the EU should know that if he cannot secure that deal for us this parliamentary party will back him to the hilt, because strength comes with unity.”

In response the PM outlined two key sticking points over the ability to punish the UK for not complying with EU rules and control over fishing waters.

He said: “ I don’t believe those are terms that any Prime Minister of this country should accept.

“But I must tell the house and reassure my Right Honourable friend that whether the terms on which we deliver our new trading arrangements resemble those of Australia’s or Canada with the EU, I have absolutely no doubt that from January the first this country is going to prosper mightily.”

Mr Johnson will fly to Brussels later to speak to European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen as the deadline of December 31 approaches.

After that date, the UK will stop following EU trading rules.

It is hoped the dinner will allow negotiations, which have stalled, to continue over the coming days.

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