It’s a historical day today. One where we start the process to leave the European Union by invoking Article 50. I’m not sure quite what the process is for triggering it happens but in my simple mind it starts the ball rolling of how we are going to settle this divorce over a two year period and what penalties will be incurred for this massive split.
It’s fair to say large parts of the nation are going to be very worried about what’s to come over the next few years. There are vague rumours of price hikes and vague rumours of immigration control which may or may not happen depending on what day you watch the news. Things change day by day and it’s hard to understand exactly what the priorities are. Either way, the exit process for us will be slow and probably quite painful at times. After all, we are the ones that want to take back control and we are the ones that need to negotiate new deals.
I really hope that Theresa May and the government approach the day with sensitivity and reassure the public and the Remainer cynics (like me) that they will commit to their people as well as the urgent issues that need addressing.
Here are my hopes for what she’ll list as her priorities in the new world of Brexit…
1. We are granting existing EU workers rights to stay. There are around 2 million EU citizens in our workforce and they are very much a part of our fabric and society. They have helped shape our nation for the better and add to the multiculturalism that we pride ourselves on. They are our teachers and our doctors and nurses. They are our care workers and our retail workers. A persons livelihood is not a game and we would be foolish to be damaging our economy by driving much needed skilled workers away. We will work with the EU to grant the same rights to our expats; those residing within the EU that enjoy the live and embrace the culture of our much loved neighbours.
2. We will inject money saved from the EU fee into the NHS. Whilst we cannot give £350million a week, we will look to funding those areas that need it the most, primarily social care and mental health care. Our elderly need excellent social care now more than ever. We have come through a bad winter and now is the time to turn things around in the social care space. We will make changes over this year and the savings from the EU fee will allow us to do this. We need to ease the pressure on our A&E departments and this is a key step to doing so. Our second push will be for improvements to mental health care. We need to provide good access and support in this area. Our waiting times are currently lengthy and we are committed to improving this substantially over the next year.
4. We will match the investment in medical research. Areas like cancer research that have previously been funded by the EU will be given priority. We will ensure that this government provides adequate funding as well as the research teams needed to continue in this critically important area. We will not be left behind when it comes to medical advancement and we will grant freedom of movement and rights to work and stay to those EU specialists to those specialists that need it.
5. There are strong concerns over the Northern Ireland and Ireland border and will work with both countries, at length if needed, to ensure a peaceful solution remains. We will work to eliminate any concerns there are over introducing a hard border. It is vital that we maintain calm and harmony in the region after all the hard work that has been done over the last few decades to achieve this.
6. We will fund those areas of England and Wales and Scotland that need it the most. Consideration will be given to all those areas that have been funded by the EU to date and we will strive to ensure that the communities thrive and do not become impoverished. Taking back control means we will be free to fund our communities at their time of need and we will not let our people down. West Wales, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands will be at the top of the list, all previously funded by the EU.
7. There are many more urgent issues that need to be addressed such as agricultural investment, fisheries and farming. The list is long but we will be working diligently over the next year to prioritise our needs. We have listened to the will of the people and we will work to deliver the very best we can for you and for our future generations. You, the people, are what matters the most and we will not let you down. We will make a success of Brexit.