The U.K. enters 2018 benefitting from consistent economic growth and the lowest unemployment since 1975 – but with much to do. Through managing spending and growing our economy this year our national debt will fall as a percentage of what we produce. This does not mean that we have “solved” the problem – the scale of the challenge is such that our national debt (of £65,000 per household) – which future generations will be paying off with interest – is still rising. However it is a positive milestone, reflected in the budget which devoted more funds to public services including an extra £3.5bn to improving patient care through upgrading NHS facilities and an extra £2.8bn towards improving A&E. Our public services will remain centre stage in 2018.
2018 will also be a critical year in our EU negotiation. The Referendum result came as a huge shock to the EU. For many politicians across the continent “ever closer union” is core to their philosophy. Even since 2016 there have been plans for closer EU defence integration, Germany’s SPD have called for an EU Federal Structure by 2025 and President Macron proposed EU wide taxation.
When Britain entered the EU the political impact was downplayed and arguments focussed on economics – against the very different global dynamics of the 1970s. The hope was that overtime familiarity would make us more comfortable with “pooling” sovereignty. However the constitutional debate never went away – and ultimately led to the Referendum. Honouring its result means the U.K. leaving the political structures of the EU. It does not mean that the U.K. will not continue to be the EU’s closest ally and largest trading partner.
Our EU talks made hugely important progress before Christmas, covering citizens rights, the financial settlement and Irish border. We are moving on to transitional arrangements that will give further reassurance.
Businesses across Europe (not just in the U.K.) are determined that we secure as frictionless as possible a trading relationship. The EU has many other issues to resolve and as we move on from the Referendum the economic and political common sense of securing a mutually beneficial relationship secures ever wider support. This does not mean that the negotiations will be easy – because they matter so much to both parties there will inevitably be difficult periods. I believe though that while we will be leaving the political structures of the “ever closer Union” we will be able to embed many of the benefits of a close relationship. At the same time we will also seek to improve our access to fast growing non-EU economies, which have a huge amount to offer.
Meanwhile in the year ahead it is on schools, the NHS (celebrating its 70th anniversary), Housing, the environment and productivity that Government will be focussed – to ensure Brexit is a success there is so much more that needs to be achieved.
Every year I take up hundreds of cases on behalf of constituents. If you would like me to assist you please do contact me via my website at www.jeremyquin.com or via Gough House, Madeira Avenue, Horsham RH12 1AB.