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How the Brexit draft deal affects East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 08:51 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 16 November 2018

The Theresa May Anti-Brexit Float in Norwich. Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish nurse who has lived and worked in England for the past 17 years. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

The Theresa May Anti-Brexit Float in Norwich. Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish nurse who has lived and worked in England for the past 17 years. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

So what does the draft Brexit deal mean for us?

UKIP deputy leader and fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem. Photo: Offie of Mike Hookem.UKIP deputy leader and fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem. Photo: Offie of Mike Hookem.

EDP reporters look at six key areas of life in our region and analyse what impact it will have.

EU citizens

EU citizens living in East Anglia have found little comfort in Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Rob Colwell, chairman of Norfolk for Europe, said: “Norfolk For Europe our incredibly worried about the future for all non-British born EU nationals that call Norfolk their home. This Brexit process is ruining lives with people living in limbo.”

Seagulls follow a tractor ploughing near Brampton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSeagulls follow a tractor ploughing near Brampton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dovydas Paulionis, chairman of the King’s Lynn Lithuanian Society, said the deal’s unpopularity showed the need for a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit.

He said: “One moment we’re being told we’re going to have full rights, and the next we’re told we might not even be able to stay. You don’t often hear about the positive impact migrants make - we put our hearts and souls into this country.

“From what I gather not everyone is going forward with [May’s plan]. I’m a big supporter of a people’s vote and I really hope we get a second referendum because Brexit has been sold on such a huge lie.”

Health

NFU East Anglia regional director Rachel Carrington. Picture: Warren Page/Pagepix Ltd.NFU East Anglia regional director Rachel Carrington. Picture: Warren Page/Pagepix Ltd.

More than one in 10 doctors at Norfolk’s hospitals are EU nationals, so any uncertainty over Brexit creates problems in the NHS.

And while there is no suggestion they would be kicked out after Brexit, many staff still feel they do not know what their status will be. Danny Mortimer, chief executive of trust representatives NHS Employers, said EU recruitment had “plummeted”.

And Joan Pons Laplana, a nurse at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, said: “We feel quite deflated as EU staff and quite angry that [the government] is not solving the issue. They don’t seem to realise there’s five million people whose lives depend on this deal.”

From this month EU staff working in health and social care will have early access to the government’s EU settlement scheme before it launches fully in March. NHS Employers said trusts should consider reimbursing staff the £65 fee it takes to register. No Norfolk hospitals said they were doing that as this stage.

Business

Business groups have repeatedly called for long-term clarity above all else during the negotiations.

Many companies have already put in place plans to minimise the disruption from labour, trade or regulatory changes, but have warned of the costs of sudden or repeated shifts in conditions.

The withdrawal agreement, if agreed, would offer a stepping stone to firms, giving them at least two years of reassurance over access to skilled staff and the important European markets.

That wards off the immediate threat of the cliff-edge of a no deal Brexit, giving businesses longer to plan for the future – but tied into the EU customs union and unable to negotiate free trade deals.

Norfolk business leaders kept their cards close to their chest, with Norfolk Chamber boss Chris Sargisson warning that it was no time for “snap judgements”. “Firms in our region need clarity and precision on the specific terms of trade they will face in future, many of which are still to be agreed,” he said.

Farming

East Anglia’s farming leaders warned of a “catastrophic” no-deal scenario if the draft EU withdrawal agreement is not adopted by Parliament.

Rachel Carrington, regional director for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for farm businesses across East Anglia.

“Free and frictionless trade with the EU is absolutely critical for British agriculture. That would end in the event of a no deal, without any transition period.

“It is likely we would see delays at the border and there would be a temporary ban on exports of meat, dairy eggs and other animal products to the EU, until the UK was listed as an approved country. A no deal scenario could lead to labour shortages, with sectors such as poultry and horticulture at most risk. The UK could also be opened up to food imports produced to lower standards, against which our farmers would struggle to compete.”

Fishing

Lowestoft’s once-thriving fishing industry had hoped Brexit would leave to a revival of the glory days, particularly after Michael Gove insisted in September the move would offer a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to get full control of British waters.

Yet Wednesday’s draft agreement sets out plans for “cooperation bilaterally and internationally to ensure fishing at sustainable levels.”

Working as an “independent coastal state”, the UK must work closely with other coastal states, including to manage shared stocks, as a new fisheries partnership on access to waters and quota shares is agreed, which is hoped to be in place in time to determine fishing opportunities for the first year after the transition.

Last month, UKIP leader Gerard Batten and deputy leader and fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem toured Lowestoft Fish Market and discussed the issues around the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry.

Speaking after the draft agreement, Mr Hookem said: “While the PM has made much of leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, what she had not said is that when we leave the EU at midnight on March 29, we will join a very similar agreement minutes later.”

Travel

Approval of the withdrawal agreement is likely to reassure anyone planning a European holiday soon.

The draft deal would mean no change in the current travel arrangements, so that UK and EU nationals could come and go freely.

Without the agreement, goods and passengers could face the prospect of extra checks, delays and queues.

The text also sets out the two parties’ future intentions to reach a “comprehensive air transport agreement”, with the aim of ensuring airlines continue to operate between Britain and the EU.

Norwich Airport managing director Richard Pace has previously said he expected a deal to be reached to maintain the European ‘open skies’ policy which allows free flying between members countries.

The Road Haulage Association has long stressed the need for a transition period, but said the prospect of a withdrawal agreement should not stop hauliers preparations for a no-deal scenario.

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