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Express & Star comment: Covid adding further issues around Brexit

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Boris Johnson was elected for one simple reason: he promised to deliver Brexit.

File photo dated 28/01/19 of an Union Jack and European Union flags flown outside the Houses of Parliament

While Labour dithered and argued with itself, Boris spoke for the 52 per cent who wanted to leave the European Union. The Referendum, of course, was back in 2016 and there were two key reasons for the popular vote favouring departure.

Firstly, politicians promised to address the issue of immigration, which had vexed too many people for too many years. Secondly, Boris promised £350 million for the NHS, which seemed to get the vote across the line.

It will be a generation before Britain contemplates Europe again. For now, politicians must resolve the messiest of divorces as we head towards a cliff edge with a crash out on World Trade terms possible.

Covid-19 has changed the world and though we are legally bound to depart, it’s reasonable to ask ourselves whether it will leave us better off or whether it will be an act of economic, social and cultural self-harm. If the 2016 vote were to be rerun today, the polls show it would be very close.

Covid-19 has taught us the value of having friends in neighbouring countries as international co-operation has brought about the best results in fighting the pandemic, so leaving the EU with relationships intact is important.

While Europe is flawed, it remains a formidable trading block and we shall be on the outside looking in, rather than influencing policy. The idea that doing trade deals is easy is incorrect and there are considerable concerns about our trade deal with the USA, particularly if Mr Trump is re-elected in November and eyes up the NHS.

Europe has slipped from a news agenda that has been dominated by one story since February: Covid-19.

The Government must work more quickly to prepare. People did not vote for job losses and lower living standards, though many fear just that. Plotting a course for the UK after leaving the EU was always going to be a challenge.

The onset of coronavirus has made that challenge a lot more difficult.

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