In the debates that take place in Parliament sometimes the challenges which are emerging in our nation do not get mentioned. Sometimes the words which are clearly very inspiring miss out over the elements that have either been ignored or not appreciated by the person doing the talk. Last week on Monday there was a debate on the focus of Global Britain and without any attempt to create challenges, in the last 24 hours I have seen two other discussions taking place on social media. Both relate to the challenge that people are finding in organising their own normal activities. I won’t mention the names or even cut and paste them but the first was a debate among three of my friends who were expressing frustration that the brands that they have been buying for many years for their pets are no longer available because the cost has increased dramatically due to the departure from the EU. Then a few hours later another friend of mine put a piece onto the same social media expressing his frustration that although he can still buy the same item from another EU nation that the paperwork is much more complicated and he is frustrated that such a change has taken place. So these may just be unusual issues or perhaps these four people are experiencing aspects that are taking place with many other people. It is certainly clear from the media that groups such as fishing industries are also experiencing problems as they are being unable to sell their products to the EU which is where most of their goods went to in the past. So the lorry above was one of a significant number that went to Westminster yesterday, there was indications that the Hastings fish industry is being pressed towards closure. However in the meantime last week there was a debate in Parliament and Henry Smith from Crawley said the following.
Decades ago, it was almost unthinkable that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, but I always had a conviction that the best future prosperity for this country was as an independent nation using, and being a conduit between, our unique global links—through the Commonwealth and our strong alliance with the United States of America—and our proximity to the continent of Europe. In the UK-EU trade agreement, that is what we have achieved. We have continuing trade with our European friends and allies, and the ability, as we heard from the Secretary of State for International Trade in her opening remarks, to forge global trade deals with countries as far afield as Canada, Japan, Singapore, Turkey, Mexico and elsewhere. I know that in the coming months and years, more trade deals will be achieved.
Global Britain is not just about trade; it is about using our other strengths, which we have had historically as an island nation that is outward looking—whether they be in defence, intelligence, our soft and cultural power or our international aid commitments. I welcome the refocusing of those development commitments on tackling global crises such as climate change, pandemics—both the one we are facing and those we want to militate against in future—and that in education.
So clearly these two paragraphs in the centre of what Henry said (his first and last one were both specific about other issues) raises all sorts of questions. Of course this was a week ago and perhaps he would be more nuanced if he was stating about our EU trade issues now. In due course we will find out if my friends are simply hitting small snags or if Henry Smith was stating abject nonsense.