In the first quarter of 2020, mainly before the lock down, sales of diesel cars in the UK fell by 51% and of petrol by 36%. In March the trend grew worse with a fall of 62% for diesels and 50% for petrol vehicles. There was scarcely a word from all those Remain campaigners and MPs about this disastrous plunge in sales and output by the industry, yet it has been on a scale out of all proportion to their falsely pessimistic forecasts about Brexit. Why the silence? If they truly cared about the car industry why are they not demanding policy change?
The government increased new vehicle taxes in the 2017 budget which harmed the industry. The Bank of England tightened credit for car loans which harmed output. Government announcements about the need to move on from diesel and petrol put people off buying new ones. Isn’t it time those who shed false tears over a Brexit impact that was never likely to happen, shed some genuine ones over the current situation? All our car factories are presently closed. There will be reduced working re-opening of some next month. The problem is not just the virus, but also the underlying policies towards modern petrol and diesel cars.
Let me go back to the Brexit discussions we were having before Covid 19 monopolised the agenda. Sir William Cash spoke to the Brexit conference about the clauses he helped the government produce to reassert UK sovereignty in the Withdrawal Agreement. They were essential, given some of the rest of the text.
The legislation makes clear that nothing in the Withdrawal Agreement “shall derogate from the sovereignty of the UK”. The Act allows Parliament to debate and vote against any measure the EU proposes during the so called Implementation period up to the end of December, when we finally leave all aspects of EU control. This is important to prevent the EU attempting to tie us into unacceptable and damaging measures before we are free.
The Act includes a method for the UK to reject unwanted legislation during the Implementation period should the EU try to damage us. The European Scrutiny Committee of the Commons can refer an EU proposal for a debate and vote to determine whether ti should become part of UK law or not.
I was pleased to see recently the Treasury is at last going to propose getting rid of the tampon tax, but only effective from next year. I want them to add getting rid of VAT on green products and domestic fuel at the same time. We need to show we have taken back control of our taxes by altering VAT, an EU tax and removing it from things we do not wish to tax.
It is also important that we become an independent coastal state with full control over our own fishing grounds this summer . We should ensure much more of the fish is landed in the UK, and where we need time to build up our fishing industry capacity we should allow a period of recuperation of fish stocks after the bruising impact of continental industrial trawlers.
The Current UK negotiating position is strong and needs to be kept up. We do not want any delay beyond December and wish any Agreement to be based around a Free Trade Agreement. We do not wish to perpetuate EU controls over our economy.