I was pleased to read that each department is being asked to plan how it will assist with Brexit. The plans we need from them are not a series of pessimistic forecasts and lists of risks that are most unlikely to come true. What we need is a serious assessment of how we can use the new freedoms we gain by taking back control to make things in their areas better, without violating standards and rules that currently apply to our exports to the rest of the EU which we should wish to continue on the same basis.
The fishing industry is an obvious case in point where work is needed. A UK based fishing policy, where we decide how to conserve the fish and whether and on what scale to licence foreign vessels will work considerably better than the Common Fishing Policy. Just look at the superior performance of the Norwegian, Icelandic and eastern seaboard US/Canadian fisheries than our UK industry under the control of the EU. There are outstanding obligations to current rest of the EU vessels and neighbours which need thinking through. At the very least we should announce no new quota and permits for non UK vessels whilst we sort out the present unsatisfactory shares and arrangements.
Another is energy. When the UK detaches from EU energy regulation, what new regime do we want? Will we take a new look at how we can secure affordable power in sufficient quantities to match the new government’s ambitions for industrial revival and to spread economic activity more widely around the country? Cheap power is one of the main drivers of any successful industrial policy.
In trade and industry it would be good to hear from business what they would like as priorities for new trade deals around the world, and how they would like to improve on the kind of trade deals the EU has been doing for us. They have often been lacking ambition on services, for example.
The country was united during the referendum campaign in not wanting to lose trade, business and market access over any possible Brexit. Many who voted Remain will be relieved as and when we can show that Brexit is no threat to jobs or trade, as we should be able to do. It requires some drive and thought to grasp all of the opportunities taking back control can bring. Is Whitehall up for that important task?