‘Finished!’ Andrew Marr’s damning Brexit assessment could mean end of Left in Britain

Brexit: Retired civil servant discusses fishing row

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The UK and Jersey governments have moved a step closer to easing tensions with France after they issued further licences to French fishing boats. The two powers had been at loggerheads over licences, with Paris accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of preventing fishermen trawling British waters. After Brexit, new rules as part of the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU — the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) — changed the way in which fishermen carry out their operations.

Now, smaller French vessels must prove that they worked in the waters around the British coastline before Brexit.

While France says the UK has not handed out enough licences, the British government has insisted that applications have been granted to those who have the correct documentation.

It is just one in a string of disagreements between the UK and EU member states post-Brexit.

Even in the UK, Brexit continues to divide opinion.

Andrew Marr, the veteran journalist who last month announced his departure from the BBC, this summer claimed that the referendum could go as far as “finishing” Britain’s left-wing politics.

This, he says, is because the Left has failed to embrace the optimism that Mr Johnson and his team has emulated — something which has rubbed off on the country.

Writing in the NewStatesman, he noted how Remainer predictions of swift economic collapse “didn’t come to pass”.

Although he conceded that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was difficult to measure the full extent of any fallout.

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He wrote: “I feel Brexit has left British politics more unpredictable and volatile than even I expected.

“For the Conservatives, they now own this in total: if trade deals with the US and Australia hammer British farming, and introduce food produced to standards this country doesn’t find acceptable, parts of the Tory coalition will unravel.

“On Northern Ireland, we still haven’t had a single prime minister explain exactly what Britain thought it was signing, and how the EU can reconcile its single market with greater flexibility. So there is jeopardy on that side.

“But there is peril on the other side too, as the opposition finds itself caught in a near-impossible dilemma.

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“Pointing out the flaws and failures of the Brexit deal is part of its job, and the large numbers of voters wanting the UK to rejoin the EU demand nothing less.

“But this risks making the centre-left sound irredeemably pessimistic about the future.

“And if there is one thing that we have learned from Johnson’s victories it is that optimism is a potent political quality – a life-saving buoyancy in turbulent times.

“Between politicians whose message is, in effect, ‘This is all ghastly and everything is now going to get worse’ and those who say ‘Well, there will be bumps and spills but the future’s bright’, I know who I would back to win.

“If the left doesn’t find an optimistic, enthusing British prospectus of its own, then, in the short term, it is finished.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has in recent weeks reshuffled his party in a bid to get a better grasp on Brexit.

Speaking about the significance of his appointments, Sir Keir — who backed remain in 2016 — said a “Make Brexit Work” promise was “a huge part of my agenda”, with the changes intended to focus on “the most important issue facing this country.”

He said the reshuffle delivered “a smaller, more focused shadow cabinet” which is “focused on the priorities of the country.”

Yvette Cooper, who was first a minister under Tony Blair, will shadow Home Secretary Priti Patel, while David Lammy becomes shadow foreign secretary.

Nick Thomas-Symonds takes over from Emily Thornberry in the trade brief, while Ed Miliband takes on a new role dedicated to climate change.

While many in Labour, including Sir Keir himself, initially called for a second vote on the referendum, there is now little appetite for one anywhere in Westminster.

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