Lord Andrew Adonis in Oxford Town Hall this week (Thursday 28th October) launched the next step of a campaign to re-join the rest of Europe ‘Step by Step’.
“Boris Johnson’s Brexit isn’t working – as the empty shelves and closed petrol stations of recent months demonstrate”,
Lord Adonis told over 100 people in the Town Hall and on-line.
“It is time to reverse Brexit ‘Step by Step’”.
Labour peer, Adonis, is chair of the British European Movement and a former Oxford City councillor. This week the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that Brexit is twice as damaging to the United Kingdom economy as the pandemic.
Lord Adonis outlined three urgent steps on the route to re-joining. Firstly the Government needs to provide visas for lorry drivers and other essential workers, re-join the Erasmus study programme for universities, negotiate common veterinary arrangements and sort out trade with Northern Ireland.
Secondly Britain, still outside the EU, needs to apply to re-join the Customs Union and the Single Market, like Norway or Switzerland. Thirdly a future government will eventually be able to re-join the EU and give the people of the United Kingdom a proper say at the heart of Europe.
On Saturday 20th November campaigners will take to the streets of Oxford and other cities to argue the Brexit isn’t working.
Susan Hartman, treasurer of Oxford For Europe, spoke on “The local exporter’s perspective”. She runs a business exporting medical appliances to the EU. She explained how her company, like many others, was severely impacted by the dramatic changes which took place with very little notice on January 1. In order to retain customers she had to export during the initial stages as a massive loss, and her company has had to open an office in Dublin at considerable expense. She explained that non-tariff barriers often posed much greater problems for exporters like her company, because they imposed costs even where no sales actually took place.
Ewa Gluza, chair of the Oxford polish Association, spoke on “EU citizens in Oxford”. She reflected on the shock and horror with which she and others received the result of the referendum, and the sadness of seeing many EU nationals deciding to leave as a result of being made feel unwelcome and being at the receiving end of bureaucratic ill-treatment and even hate crime. In Oxford there are particular problems due to the high cost of living and the shortage of accommodation. The city can ill afford to lose its EU nationals – already there are over 3,000 unfilled vacancies in Oxford.
Dominic McGinley, a student at Magdalen College and a founding member of the Young European Movement, spoke on “The next generation”. He highlighted many of the problems caused by Brexit for universities and young people, including the loss of Erasmus, the much higher costs of studying in the UK, and the deterrant effect on academics. He also highlighted the complacency of pro-Europeans in the past. For the future, he called upon the next generation to keep the European flame burning, then to move step by step towards reintegration.
“Oxford remains a European city and we will help repair the damage the Tory Brexit deal is doing to this country”,
says former Lord Mayor, John Tanner, who helped organise the meeting.