Post Brexit Agenda

It is interesting to note that today’s Financial Times editorial calls for a post Brexit agenda from the government that focuses on domestic issues. The Prime Minister may have made a start on this by announcing an extra £1.8BN cash injection for the NHS and for work on railway communications in the north of England to take a higher priority but obviously the government’s current focus is on delivering Brexit.

The research consultancy, COMRES, recently undertook some work on behalf of the UK in a Changing Europe and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to determine what low-income groups were looking for from post-Brexit Britain. A number of focus groups were held in various parts of the country.

Not surprisingly most of the issues raised had little to do with Europe. People were concerned that the government was too London centric. People were worried that their areas were forgotten about, stripped of talent, funding and investment. The participants in the focus groups wanted to see better opportunities for employment, better more affordable public transport and childcare. The state of local high streets and declining services were also of concern.

Basically, it looks as though the referendum on the EU could have equally applied to the performance of the Westminster government. In fact, it appears that people viewed Westminster as more of a problem than Brussels.

The sponsors of the exercise believe that the time is right to focus on rebalancing the economy, making sure that work pays, that people have the necessary skills to take advantage of opportunities and that the focus should now be to push forward an agenda that can unite the country.

Commenting on this research, the Financial Times takes the sponsors suggested solutions further stating that: “The task for government is, above all, to create a more level playing field – both between London and the rest of the country, and between those who go to university and those who do not.”

“The Northern Powerhouse project should be given a higher priority.”

“A more even pattern of English devolution, bringing local decisions closer to those they affect, is also needed. Roughly 37 per cent of the English population has some form of regional government, but progress has stalled.” “Restoring community requires rebuilding both genuine local democracy and funding Britain’s elderly day centres, libraries and museums again.”

This is all good stuff, well said etc. We can only hope that because so many well-connected people are now saying these things that some action is finally taken to address all these fundamental issues rather than concentrating huge efforts and vast resources in turning minor irritations into major crises.

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