Today is the beginning of a significant period for many of us. Inevitably on a bank holiday people who work for agencies such as the Police, NHS including the Ambulance Service and the Fire and Rescue carry on as if it was a normal working day. There are also many people in retail and transport settings who are also working very hard even though it is a holiday. However the vast majority of us can put our feet up metaphorically and enjoy the day flexibly.
Then tomorrow at the start of September many of us will start work or certainly begin to prepare to do so. Many of the educational workers and their students will begin to work in the next few days and apart from the high profile people who have criticised the trade unions, most of us are very aware of the challenges that this new phase will create for the workers. Last week I listened to a radio programme that was hosted by Allison Ferns and it was clear that some of her callers are nervous about the return to school of their children. No doubt there will be others who after a normal-ish summer break and almost four months of limited access will be desperate to go to their college or school at the beginning of this academic year. Many others in the Higher and Further Education sectors will be facing the next term or even the next year with the internet and other technology as their main educational contacts. Sadly some of the public statements that have been made by a number of politicians in the last few days have not given the impression that they understand this range of views and arrangements. Given that one very small group of people who are also starting work this week are the Parliament, let us hope that they will improve their behaviour very quickly. They can clearly learn from one another and also from their own local contacts and so the Sussex MPs could consider going online to engage with us. Over the Summer I noticed that Priti Patel used Zoom to connect to a number of backbench Conservative MPs to try to influence them with her views. However this sort of technology is capable of two way communications as many of us now know, so perhaps our local MPs could connect together using Zoom and offer all of the Sussex residents the chance to raise their ideas and concerns. Alternatively they could listen to the views of the sort of people who were talking to Allison Ferns last week and they will learn a great deal!
One of the other challenges for our nation is that tomorrow is the first of 30 days before we reach October by which stage we will be well into the Autumn. However October is much more of a challenge than simply that our days will have much less daylight and longer nights. It has been made very clear that any prospect of a deal with the EU will require all 27 nations to confirm the proposed deal with their own Governments and October is seen as the last opportunity for this to take place. So as the MPs arrive into Parliament this week, while students are arriving in their schools, the vital requirements for our 650 representatives is very significant. Two of the most senior people in Parliament made very clear statements regarding this in the recent past. Our Prime Minister spoke to a group of people in Dublin 51 weeks ago on 9th September and said “I’ve looked carefully at no deal. That outcome would be a failure of statecraft”. One of his colleagues who is responsible for resolving the deal is Michael Gove and he stated in February 2019 that “Let no one be in any doubt how difficult and damaging a no deal would be for British farming” and a month later he stated “We didn’t vote to leave without a deal. That wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped lead”. Now just in case people are not sure what the impact of a no deal will have, a few days ago the Sussex Chamber of Commerce published an article from Paul Samrah who works for Moore Kingston Smith. Paul explained that at present we have a tariff-free trade basis with the EU. However if we are forced to a no deal situation, that cars will increase by around 3,000 Euro’s and that dairy products will be impacted by a 35.4% tariff and even agricultural products will be impacted by a 11.1% tariff. So while our young people are hard at work, getting to grips with their educational arrangements, all MPs including our 16 Sussex representatives must get to grips with our EU trade deal arrangements!