The Taoiseach, the Parliament and the Irish Border

The Taoiseach, the Parliament and the Irish Border

Yesterday the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, addressed the European Parliament, the first in a series of debates between EU government leaders and MEPs on the Future of Europe.

On Brexit, Mr Varadkar was clear that there could be no “backsliding” by the UK government on the commitments it made on the border with Ireland during the first phase of Brexit negotiations last year. He said his government would work to ensure that “what has been agreed in theory would be delivered in practice.”

So what was agreed in theory?

During the first round of Brexit negotiations, the UK guaranteed that there would be no ‘hard border’ between the North and South of Ireland, and that “in the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom would maintain full alignment with the rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union”. They Government did not say how this would be achieved. As Mr Varadkar reminded us yesterday, this means no new barriers to movement or trade between the North and South.

This commitment will come as a relief to the majority of people in Northern Ireland who voted remain in the Brexit referendum, the majority of Northern Ireland resident who are EU citizens, as well as the majority of politicians in Northern Ireland who want to stay in the Single Market. As Mr Varadkar said yesterday, it is a commitment that Ireland will ensure is turned into “legally binding language”.

So no border in Ireland means a border in the Irish Sea? Not while the DUP wields a veto.

In the same round of Brexit negotiations, the UK government also agreed that “in the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom,” ensuring that the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.

With the DUP - who are propping up this minority Conservative government - effectively wielding a veto over negotiations, this was a commitment Theresa May had no choice but to make. It ensures that if there is to be full alignment with the rules of the Single Market and the customs union in Northern Ireland, there must also be full alignment across the UK.

Doesn’t this imply continued membership of the single market and customs union?

If you’re now thinking that these dual commitments seem hard to reconcile with the Conservative government’s mandate-free, hard-Brexit stance that the UK must leave the single market and the customs union, you’d be right.

So, the UK government has made promises it can’t keep?

Correct. It is simply not possible for Northern Ireland and/or the UK to exit the single market and customs union without there being checks and controls on the movement of goods. Being part of of the Single Market and Customs Union requires these in order for it to function. And if there is to be full alignment with the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union in Northern Ireland, the DUP have been clear that there must also be full alignment across the UK. Which, by the way, would be fine by me.

This leaves the government hoping that it can come up with some kind of technical fix. An “agreed solution” that will allow it to continue with cross-border trade without having to impose customs posts and borders. Trouble is that’s not how a customs union works - at some stage checks on what is actually in the lorries has to happen. It has effectively kicked the can down the road; unable to impose a hard border with Ireland, prevented from doing the same in the Irish Sea, and committed to a hard-Brexit stance on membership of the single market and customs union.

So what comes next?

The answer to how to square this circle is blindingly obvious: continued membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Anything else will be deeply damaging to the UK economy and, as the UK will have to abide by the rules to trade with the EU27 in any case we might as well have all the advantages.

It may well transpire that Theresa May is finally forced into this position as the only solution to the unresolved Irish border issue, but in the meantime, Labour must start leading. Labour has a clear opportunity to attack and further undermine this weak Tory government and it has the country with it as it is increasingly clear that support of a hard Brexit doesn’t command any sort of majority.
The Labour front bench did the right thing in calling for a transition period inside the Single Market and the Customs Union after Brexit. But it must be bolder still. We must listen to the overwhelming majority of Labour members and commit to membership of both long-term.

Posted by John Howarth
Blue Monday

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday- allegedly the most depressing day of the year.

Based on a formula devised by ‘life coach and happiness consultant’ Cliff Arnall, factors in this calculation include the grim January weather; debt accrued over the festive period; the amount of time that has passed since Christmas and the likelihood that the good intent of New Year resolutions more than probably lies in tatters; and wider feelings of demotivation that people are likely to be feeling.

Sounds a bit scientifically sketchy? You bet. Pseudo-science? Not entirely unfair either, though some of the above are observed phenomena. But even though you cannot shoehorn sadness, let alone clinical depression, into a single day, and I am pleased to see that the mental health charity, Mind, are tweeting today using #BlueAnyDay.

Nonetheless, Blue Monday is a useful peg to raise awareness of wider mental health difficulties that affect a huge amount of lives across the UK, irrespective of the time of year. According to Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.

The Samaritans are holding various ‘Brew Monday’ events today around the UK to open up opportunities to get together and chat about mental health over a cup of tea.

If you can get to one of these events, do go and check it out.

The point is talking to someone helps. Usually - it’s better than not talking.

If you want to talk to someone about a mental health problem for yourself, your family or your friends you can also talk to Mind’s helpline.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

There’s no easy answer - but not talking is no answer.

Posted by John Howarth
Brexit’s impact on the EU budget – no big deal after all

Brexit’s impact on the EU budget – no big deal after all

The constant claim of the Brexiteers, amid their ‘they need us more than we need them’ narrative, is that without the U.K. there is a gaping hole in the EU budget that will cause the remaining 27 a near-existential crisis. The truth is rather different - there is certainly a hole the budget but it’s extent and significance is wildly exaggerated.

This week Key players in the budget drama met to explore EU finances Post-Brexit. The EU’s budget planning is a seven year cycle known rather grandly as is the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Much of the UK’s ‘debt’ to the EU relates to the commitments made during the current MFF. The next cycle runs from 2020, conveniently just after the UK is scheduled to have left - to many EU leaders see it as a clean slate.

The trouble with any debate on EU finance is the amounts are vast - but so is the continent. In reality the EU Budget sticks to around 1.2% of GDP - a tiny slice of member state spend.

The funding gap led by the UK’s departure roughly between 12-13 billion Euros, amounting to between 8% and 9% depending on how it’s calculated (1). Not a small gap but much less drastic than the shortfalls facing local Councils in the UK since the Conservatives regained power in 2010. There are all sorts of options open to the EU27, it’s really a question of political will.

There are, of course, some who would wish to take the opportunity to reduce EU programmes, but judging by the rhetoric EU leaders are instead focused on how to restructure EU spending to ensure it better delivers the EU27’s shared goals. Commission President Jean Claude Junker talked of a ‘no cuts’ budget while Gunther Oettinger, the Commissioner in charge of budget, spoke of an even stronger focus on pro-growth, pro-innovation and pro-youth programmes; Erasmus+ and the research fund Horizon2020 as well as the need to maintain ‘cohesion’ spending - the EU’s jargon for infrastructure and social investment in less well-off states and regions. But all of this is wishful thinking if the income gap is not addressed.

Of course there might be some reductions - there are always programmes the time for which is passed and, in a budget of €160 billion or so, always room for efficiencies. But the scope for income growth is considerable. Across the EU aBridging the income gap a direct Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) is a potentially lucrative option even at very small percentages, while there is also much talk of climate/sustainability related levies, such as on unnecessary plastic packaging. The latter carries a risk, the former less so, because the best taxes are the least avoidable. The point of levies aimed at behavioural change is that they ARE avoidable! There are also a whole range of creative financial instruments available to maintain programmes based on loan financing and credit arrangements.

So just for example €3 billion, 2% or so, of efficiencies, €5 billion of new income and €5 billion from the use of financial instruments. The income gap starts to look less of a crisis and something of an opportunity to re-position how the EU thinks about its budgeting. The stumbling block remains the willingness of member state governments to back their rhetoric of unity with their wallets.
But if the UK were to go through with the self-harm of quitting the Single Market membership tariffs on the 50% of UK exports to the EU, this could bring billions of Euros to EU coffers, if on the other hand the UK government sees sense it will end up making a contribution to the EU and reduce the budget gap.

Brexit is not in the interest of either the UK or the EU for reasons much more important than money, but Brexiteers’ claims that the EU faces financially catastrophe if and when Britain leaves are yet more wishful thinking.

John Howarth MEP (Labour, South East England) is a member of the EU’s Committee on Budgets.

 

1. The calculation is based on the EU’s total expenditure in 2016, which stood at EUR 136,4 billion, and the commitment appropriations in the EU’s 2016 budget which stood at EUR 155 billion.

Posted by John Howarth
John calls on for action on late payments to small businesses

John calls on for action on late payments to small businesses

Speaking today (10 January 2018) at the European Parliament’s SME Intergroup (the ‘all party’ groups of MEPs) John Howarth, Labour MEP for South East England, called for increased action to improve payments to small firms.

According to research conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB); 37% of small firms have run into cash flow difficulties because of late payment, while 61% of small firms are paid late by their big business customers. FSB estimates that 50,000 businesses would remain open and the UK economy would be boosted by £23.5 billion each year if businesses were paid on time.

John Howarth, who was a business owner and director before becoming an MEP, said:

“Late payments are a real limit on the growth potential of small firms. When your cash is tied up servicing cash flow your potential for growth is limited and as you grow that cash flow requirement increases. This limits the growth potential of our economy.

“Late payment legislation, which started at EU level, has made a little difference but nothing like enough. To make it work better we need firm action from governments in member states, including the UK, to compel the public sector to pay small firms on time. That would make a big difference and would create a positive knock on effect. Business organisations need to play their part by creating pressure on larger firms to understand that the corporate bullying of paying small firms late will hurt their reputations. it is naive tho imagine small firms can do this alone, or risk damaging relationships by charging interest on late payments.

“Local Authorities can take a lead and don’t need to wait for central government. They should all implement the 14 day payment standards as the best among them have and councillors should monitor performance to ensure their authority delivers. I am writing to all South East authorities drawing their attention to this.

“At EU level the next logical step would be to outlaw unfair payment terms imposed by larger firms at the expense of their smaller suppliers and implement a single payment standard for the single market. This would still matter to UK firms if and when the UK leaves the EU as we will inevitably have to follow EU standards if we want to continue doing business with the rest of Europe.”

Posted by John Howarth
New Year Message for 2018

New Year Message for 2018

New Year is a time that we try to look forward with hope.

My main hope is that we will see a greater level of honesty in our public debates and a degree of understanding that to fail to address glaring societal problems will only diminish the lives of the great majority of our people.

I hope that engagement with the challenge of how we again create a cohesive society in which every individual has real, rather than merely theoretical opportunities to fulfil their potential and provide a good life for their families, companions and communities is not too much to hope for from those in public life.

And at a time when many of our leaders are keen to talk of a ‘belief in Britain’ it is perhaps not too much to ask that they flesh out what they really mean and what a modern vision of Britain might involve.

In doing so I hope we can re-discover the tolerance, mutual respect and ‘live and let live’ philosophy and practice that I grew up believing was inherent to the values of British society. In other words a genuinely patriotic pride in the freedom of the individual within a society framed for the common good.

That is a vision that will always rise above enforced conformity and coercive patriotism against which the great generations of the 20th century fought and won through. Somewhere along the line much of that vision has been lost and the failure of political leaders to articulate its relevance to the modern world sits at the heart of the challenge we will face in the coming year.

Here’s hoping.   

John Howarth MEP

PS For more reflections and hopes for 2018 read on here

Posted by John Howarth
2018 – a year more predictable?

2018 – a year more predictable?

Few at the outset of 2017 would have predicted many of the things that came about.

Very few foresaw the outcome of public events in the UK or worldwide - or if they did they kept their foresight quiet. As we move into 2018 some commentators naively expect a year more predictable even though the events of the past five years should have taught us that the only certainty of this era is continued uncertainty. 

If I might be allowed one equally naive wish for 2018 it would be for a deal more honesty from our leaders in facing the historic challenges that the year ahead will present and a recognition from the commentariat of the honesty that there is already out there.

The first and largest challenge for Government and Parliament in the UK is and will remain resolving the situation between the UK and the European Union. The Government has adopted the approach that its job is to deliver the outcome of the 2016 Referendum. Having fought an election seeking a mandate for an extreme interpretation of that result and lost, how long will it take the Conservatives to recognise that they cannot unite the UK by following that rejected path? Nonetheless, in negotiating that outcome the Government's challenge is to demonstrate to the British people that it can deliver the promises made to the public during that campaign. The challenge for Parliament is to hold the Government to account on whether that mandate has, or can be delivered as promised. Should Parliament conclude that, despite the best efforts of the Government, the prospectus held out to voters in 2016 has not or can not be delivered then Parliament must determine what happens next. That this can now happen was the most important decision of 2017.

The challenge for the Conservative Party in Government is to prove that it is still capable of leadership. Opportunism and the seeking of personal advantage came to dominate even the most critical decisions for the nation. Leadership was nowhere to be seen, self-preservation became the only game in town. When Brexit unravels under the weight of its own contradictions, this will mean confronting reality with something more than wishful thinking and that recognising that expressions of optimism and faith do not take us anywhere in the real world. 

For the Opposition the challenge is different. Labour has failed to dislodge unpopular Conservative Governments at two general elections under quite different leaders. To do so Labour will need first to demonstrate that it’s rhetoric about being a government in waiting is real by effectively holding the present government to account, becoming an effective opposition in Parliament. Then Labour must provide a prospect of Government that can command a sufficiently broad coalition within society to deliver a viable electoral majority and the good will necessary to govern. Labour had that based on quite different visions in 1945 and in 1997 each delivering successful periods in office. The circumstances faced by Labour the next time it faces the electorate will be different again, but the same question will remain: how social justice can be married with individual aspiration to command an electoral majority and delivered for the benefit of the community as a whole.

If this all sounds like a wish to rediscover the politics of pragmatism then it probably is but it is also a desire to see Leaders put the national interest before their narrow perceptions of party advantage. I say narrow perceptions, because I’m convinced that those that genuinely act on what they really believe in 2018 will be respected for their actions and realise the reward for their party. The time for playing the game of tactical advantage has, for now at least, passed.

Beyond the admittedly fascinating business of UK politics, the future of Europe is being debated in a time of vast technological and social change. Whatever the outcome for Britain and the EU27 several truths will continue:

The EU can, must and will continue to change. While some of us might not like the forces that have produced the globalised world in which we live, they are real, they exist whatever options exist turning the clock back its not one of them. Authorities that can operate beyond the nation state are the only means of redressing the balance between otherwise unaccountable mega corporations in individual citizens. The EU is the only effective means Europeans have right now.

Europe’s nation states remain important to Europe’s people, their interests, ways of live and identities. The success of the EU will depend on the recognition and understanding of identity and diversity and the development of patriotism that is modern, diverse and an opportunity rather than a threat.

By default or by design the decisions and direction of the EU will continue profoundly to affect its European neighbours. Those who render themselves without influence can hardly complain that they are then ignored. Despite this, ‘the club of nation states’ that is the EU will be foolish if it cannot understand and find means of gaining common advantage from its inevitable geographical relationships.

For a politician unpredictable times make a fascinating job thrilling. The ‘ringside seat at the making of history’ is a great privilege and most of us do the little we can in good faith to influence events for the benefit of the communities and nations we represent. That we seek very different outcomes is undeniable but for the most part our differences of opinion are sincere and our passions genuine.

Posted by John Howarth
Sea Bass Angling Ban Knocked Back

Sea Bass Angling Ban Knocked Back

The European Fisheries Council (the fisheries ministers of the EU member states' governments) has knocked back a European Commission proposal to ban completely recreational sea bass fishing in 2018.

The proposal would have left the dwindling stocks of wild sea bass for exploitation by commercial interests albeit with reduced quotas. The idea was fought off after lobbying of member state governments. John Howarth MEP met the UK Angling Trust at Westminster and, along with Richard Corbett MEP, who serves on the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, wrote to UK Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, urging the UK Government to back a compromise proposal.

John said : "A complete ban on recreational catch would only be acceptable were a total ban imposed on commercial fishing for wild sea bass. It is ironic indeed that the Commission should propose such a ban when recreational angling voices have long argued for strict measures to enable wild sea bass stocks to recover. In the meantime this is a sensible compromise for 2018, I'm pleased George Eustice supported the case."

The vast majority of sea bass on sale over the counter in the UK is farmed. The proposal adopted by the Fisheries Council restricts both recreational and commercial bass fishing in a more balanced way. Sea Anglers will be restricted to ‘catch and release’ and a ‘one fish per day’ while commercial fishers will have smaller quotas. However much more decisive action will be required if bass is not to effectively disappear from the waters off the UK. Sea Bass is an important fish to recreational anglers who contribute to the economies of coastal towns all over the UK, in particular South East England, in boat hire, hotels, equipment stores, restaurants and so on amounting to £3 billion annually.

Posted by John Howarth
‘Sufficient progress’ –  Mrs May has accepted the UK is staying in the Single Market

‘Sufficient progress’ – Mrs May has accepted the UK is staying in the Single Market

In October, when the European Parliament was asked if the negotiations between the UK and the 27 other EU Member States (the EU27) had made ‘sufficient progress’ to move on to the next stage, the answer was a self-evident ‘no’.

There was no agreement between the two parties and progress was clearly very limited. All that really existed was a statement of intent made by the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, on her ludicrous jaunt to Florence. At that time, reading her words closely, she effectively committed to much of what was in the agreement concluded in Brussels during the early hours of Friday 8 December. Progress then became bogged down in the muddy attritional battlefield that is the Conservative Cabinet. Her position was undermined by self-serving senior colleagues and the train wreck that was Conservative Conference.

The October vote was a statement of fact - there was no progress, never mind sufficient. Most Conservative MEPs weren’t even in Strasbourg to vote, though that didn’t stop Theresa May blaming Labour MEPs for her own inability to deliver.

Failing to take charge of negotiations herself, as four of her five predecessors almost certainly would have and even David Cameron probably would have (1), David Davis was left to muddle along, as ever hopelessly out of his depth, until the drama became a crisis. Eventually, as was always likely to be the case, a deadline forced agreement. Not the deadline imposed by Michelle Barnier, but the more pressing deadline facing many companies whose planning horizons for 2019 are defined by the year end of 2017. To have gone into January without a deal would have provoked a catastrophic reaction from the commercial world - under that threat the Prime Minister had no option to agree to the terms offered by the EU27.

If one is to judge an outcome by the reactions of others, then the tantrums of UKIP are a reasonable barometer. Little Mr Farage was of no doubt that the Prime Minister had conceded entirely to the EU27. He tossed round words like “betrayal”, “sell out” and “appeasement” while claiming that the agreement amounted to ‘a single market of some kind’, that ‘Britain wasn’t really leaving’ and that ‘leave voters were not getting what they voted for’ or words to that effect.It is worth noting in all this that several events predicted by the Brexiteers have not come to pass.

  • The unity of the EU27 did not crumble. If the few Conservative MEPs still in touch with Planet Reality were listened to in Downing Street she would have known it was never going to happen.
  • Angela Merkel did not ride to the rescue. Not only did the Conservatives and a cross section of the Brexit Press seem to believe this idea, but again fail to understand the commitment to the European Union is stronger in Germany than just about anywhere else.
  • German manufacturing did not dictate a settlement - for the simple reason that the EU27 market is worth a great deal more than the UK market.
  • The UK Government was never in a position to “just walk away”. Wiser heads prevailed and convinced Mrs May that ignoring treaty obligations and not settling debts is a very good way indeed to end up with no allies. The money proved to be just that - only money.
  • Most fundamentally, they DON'T ‘need us more than we need them’ - Brexit is justifiably the UK’s priority but it is not the priority for anyone else.

The agreement itself leaves much to be desired. While it is true that some important matters have been resolved on citizen’s rights there is much work yet to be done and there is nothing to prevent further progress. What is noticeable is the relatively poor terms secured for UK citizens living in the EU compared to those offered for EU Citizens in the UK. The latter retain their freedom of movement rights while UK citizens in the EU27 will be unable to move without restriction from a job in one Member State to another. It amazes me that the UK Government has been so bad at protecting the interests of a million of its nationals. In other areas the view of the European Parliament that Labour MEPs were able to influence, helped secure rights for children yet to be born and the guarantee of lifetime rights to EU Citizens ought to protect against either party reneging.

The massive contradictions of arrangements for the Irish border can only be resolved one way - continuing in the Single Market and Customs Union for the whole of the UK - or some bespoke, largely semantic arrangement cooked up by the parties to sound as if it isn’t the Single Market when everybody knows that, in fact, it is. Nothing else can deliver the outcome to which the UK has agreed.
But, nonetheless, there was an agreement, and it fell to the Parliament to recognise that ‘sufficient progress’ has been made to move on to wider talks on future relationships, so I and my Labour colleagues voted, once again, to recognise the facts. It would have been perverse to do anything else but it is certainly not the end of the matter - just the end of the beginning. It is also an essential step for the country as it reduces the chances of a ‘cliff edge’ no deal Brexit - the worst catastrophe of all and the reason why Mr Farage and his chums, who think ‘no deal’ is the only way out, are so unhappy. Their narrative requires the social dislocation and economic catastrophe that crashing out would bring. Far from owning responsibility, they would scapegoat anyone but themselves. When Brexit, should it happen, fails to deliver what those who voted ‘leave’ in good faith were promised UKIP and their chums will find scapegoats. It’s what they do on the extreme right.

This European Parliament vote was never a means of stopping Brexit - had I thought so I would have voted differently. That power now lies most clearly with the House of Commons which later in the day took onto itself the means of rescuing the UK from calamity by giving itself a vote on the final deal. Brexit can be stopped and the Brexiteers know it - which is why they are in such a panic.

Posted by John Howarth

European Parliament leads calls to tackle tax dodging by multinationals and the super-rich

The European Parliament has been at the forefront of investigating tax scandals such as Lux Leaks and the Panama/Paradise Papers. It has set up special and inquiry committees to shed light on the on the dubious practices which help the super-rich and multinational companies to dodge their fair share of taxes.

Tax avoidance schemes diminish the funding of important services, the NHS and new infrastructure. The damage does not end there. Small and medium sized companies are at a competitive disadvantage just because they pay their taxes, while mega-corporations receive tax sweet heart deals for the authorities and can use elaborate schemes to avoid tax. All we are asking for is a playing field where everyone pays their fair share.

The European Commission, under pressure from Labour MEPs and their Socialist & Democrats colleagues from around Europe in the Parliament, has already brought forward important proposals that could make a huge difference. Unfortunately some member states in the Council, among them the UK’s Conservative Government, are trying to slow or water them down.

 

Panama Papers | Our Story

After 18 months of investigations, hear our story on the #PanamaPapers 🔻 And if you want to read more about it, check out our blog: https://medium.com/investigating-the-panama-papers

Posted by Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament on Tuesday, 12 December 2017

 

Last week EU Finance Minister’s finally agreed the EU’s blacklist of tax havens. This is an important step but meaningless if not accompanied by strong and deterrent sanctions. The Socialist and Democrat Group in the Parliament’s argued strongly and voted for sanctions and that Ministers in the Member States should enact them.

Tax avoidance is a global phenomenon and though it is impossible for one country to tackle it alone, there are still measures the UK could implement to make a difference; unfortunately the Conservatives in government are refusing to do so. Tax dodging thrives in the cracks between the laws different countries. When countries don’t cooperate individuals and corporations exploit legal loopholes.
Whatever the UK’s future relationship might be, the European Union will continue to lead the fight against tax avoidance - simply because it is the only thing big enough to do so. The UK should be part of that fight to deliver a tax system in which everyone can have trust. Unfortunately there is a danger that the UK itself tries to survive outside the EU by itself becoming a psudo-offshore economy where corporations are attracted by tax breaks and the super-rich can shelter from paying their fair share. That would be a poor basis for any productive relationship with the EU.

The report, I voted for today reiterates the European Parliament’s commitment on fair and just taxation. The Council, and especially the UK government, should follow suit.

Posted by John Howarth
Threat to Horse Racing After Brexit

Threat to Horse Racing After Brexit

John Howarth, Labour MEP for South East England, met with the British Horse Racing Authority at trainer Stan Moore’s Yard at Lambourn on Tuesday (Nov 21 2017) to discuss the free movement of thoroughbred horses between the UK, Ireland and France after Brexit.
 
The free movement of racehorses between the UK, Ireland and France has been governed by the Tripartite Agreement between the national Horse Racing authorities but is subject to EU law and due to end when Britain leaves the European Union.
 
If no arrangements are agreed for racehorses, these movements will in future require veterinary health checks and temporary-admission documentation. Race horses, regarded as ‘highly healthy animals’ are exempt from routinely applied checks  These checks are likely to affect the health and welfare of the horse, and will impose additional costs on the horse trainers. This will, in turn, place the whole industry under threat.
 
John Howarth MEP said, “Maintaining the Tripartite Agreement is essential. Without a special agreement for the horseracing and bloodstock industry Brexit represents a major problem. The Government gave no thought clearly to the minutiae of Brexit, including what will happen to horse racing. In this area as many others a hard Brexit would be disastrous for the the economy in the South East. I will be liaising with my French and Irish contacts in the Parliament to develop an alliance to protect the best interests of horse racing. Nobody voted for a Brexit that damages the much loved pursuits that are part of our national life.”

Annually, over 10,000 racehorses move between England and Ireland alone.
 
Horseracing is big business for Newbury. Recent figures show that over 3,700 racehorses can be found in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Horseracing and associated industries are a huge contributor to the local economy, providing over 1,370 full time jobs, and a home for 10% of Britain’s racehorse trainers. The industry are also concerned about the availability of yard staff and riders if freedom of movement is ended.

Posted by John Howarth