On Tuesday, two days before our Government had its final deadline to strike a deal with the EU (which they failed to achieve) a number of MPs including three from Sussex took part in the second reading of the National Security and Investment Bill. The Bill was launched by Alok Sharma who I wrote about yesterday and indeed one of the three Sussex MPs who spoke at this weeks debate was Nusrat Ghani who I also wrote about yesterday. Another of the three Sussex MPs who took part was Tim Loughton and some of his words are reproduced below which includes a reference to the third Sussex MP Andrew Griffith. Now in the case of Tim, along with being listed as the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, he is also the MP for Lancing and Sompting. The village of Sompting is a place that several of my friends happen to live in and I know that at least one of them is very frustrated how infrequently Loughton refers to his village publicly. In the last 20 years Loughton has referred to Sompting 7 times in Parliament! The town of Lancing is where for several years after I passed my degree I worked for a very significant engineering company that manufactured Flight Simulators. Although the company is now owned by another company and has moved away from Lancing I recall how our work involved manufacturing products that we sold all over the world. Indeed I recall how one of my colleagues had a meeting in Australia and he flew over to the City from Gatwick, which took nearly 24 hours and then had a 2 hour meeting and then flew back again taking another 24 hours. Thankfully nowadays video conferencing can resolve some of the issues that were dealt with in that meeting. Anyway back to the debate on Tuesday, the first few words came from Alok Sharma.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Our country has always been a beacon for inward investment and a champion of free trade. We recognise and celebrate the positive impact of these twin policies in delivering prosperity and opportunities across the United Kingdom. Over the past 10 years, the UK has attracted around three quarters of a trillion dollars of foreign direct investment, which in turn has helped to create 600,000 new jobs in our country.
In 2019-20 alone, more than 39,000 jobs were created in England thanks to foreign direct investment projects, with more than 26,000 of those jobs created outside London. Almost 3,000 jobs were created in Scotland, and more than 2,500 in Wales and 2,000 in Northern Ireland respectively. That is why we will continue to work relentlessly to ensure that the UK remains a great place to do business and invest. That approach is more important than ever as we look to business to create jobs in our recovery from covid-19.
The UK is very much open for business, but being open for business does not mean that we are open to exploitation. An open approach to international investment must also include appropriate safeguards to protect our national security. Those are not conflicting approaches; prosperity and security go hand in hand. Otherwise, we leave the United Kingdom open to the risk of being targeted and compromised by potential hostile actors who are looking to disrupt our economic and wider security.
So these words seem very clearly words that declare that unless we can continue to achieve free trade with other nations, our nation is potentially under a great deal of threat from exploitation. The reality is that the Government published this document regarding our trading in September this year. Our current trade deals are £50bn imports and £25.9bn exports which involve £21.5bn and £12.6bn with the EU which means that any failure to get free trade with the EU will present us with huge problems in 41 days time. Indeed the indications of these problems are already being presented on the Government website with indications of Tariffs. However a much more concerning issue is that if we cannot trade freely with the EU, our prospect as a nation for investment from other nations will also become very modest as our economy, although it is currently the 7th largest in the UK, will very quickly become much smaller. In addition to that, our prospect of allowing investors to then sell into the rest of the EU will make us very unappealing given that the EU economy as a whole is the second largest economy after USA.
The words from Tim Loughton included the following statement which like the opening comment from Alok Sharma seem very clearly to be demanding we remain in the EU or at least retain a free trade deal with the EU. That said Tim is on the surface very proud of his Brexit support. On his website this page which is described as his Brexit campaign page, he lists a number of his speeches and actions including one from the 9th April 2019 which he describes as “We’ve not just kicked the can down the road, we’ve now kicked it into the cul-de-sac, and we’re kicking it round and round the cul-de-sac, getting nowhere”. Anyway back to November 2020 with what is today only 41 days from our departure and on Tuesday was actually 45 days to go. His statement on that day included
This is also an investment Bill. As a global free-trading nation, we need to get the balance right and ensure that UK plc is open for business in the eyes of the international investment community and international markets. My constituency neighbour and hon. Friend Andrew Griffith, mentioned the great inflow of investment and jobs that that has created. The Bill needs to be targeted and proportionate so that we continue to attract safe investment, while deterring unsafe and questionable investment.
Now if Tim thinks that Brexit and a No Deal departure will enable us to be seen as a free-trading nation he would be deeply mistaken and he is not a stupid man, indeed I have met him at least once in the past. So we now need to either reject Brexit altogether or guarantee a free trade deal with the EU. To put that into context having explained about the funding we currently have with the EU, the USA which currently contains the worlds biggest economy represented £3.87bn imports and £3.27bn exports in September. That means that the USA represents 18% of the imports and 26% of the exports that we achieve as a nation with the EU. To put that another way if we lose 50% of the trading deals with the EU we would need to find 3 USA’s to replace the loss of trade. As things happen there is no other USA’s and the next nation is China which the Government has done a lot of work to avoid expanding our work with in the context of Huawei. So either Sharma and Loughton are both rejecting a no deal Brexit or their words make no sense.