Monday, 28 March 2016

Will Cornwall lose out if Brexit wins?

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian looks at promises from Conservative MPs who happen to be pushing for Brexit. It will be as follows:

In recent weeks, many people have commented on the possible consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union should voters choose exit in the referendum on 23rd June.

And quite rightly, much has been said about the financial impact on Cornwall and the loss of the structural funding that we receive because of our low levels of economic performance.

Local Conservatives campaigning for “Brexit” have claimed that Cornwall will not lose out, but I find their arguments much less than convincing.

They have pointed out that Cornwall would continue to benefit from EU funding in the two year period during which the UK’s departure from the Union would be negotiated – which I would not challenge.

But they are also claiming that in the future, Cornwall would receive additional monies from central government to make up for the investment that would otherwise be lost to Cornwall, its institutions and local businesses.

Steve Double MP (speaking on behalf of himself and Scott Mann MP and Derek Thomas MP) claimed that reclaiming the money “we currently send to the EU each year” would cover “any funding withdrawn by the EU.”

And yet where are the guarantees? Where is the evidence that the present Government is looking to prioritise investment to boost Cornwall’s economy?

It is an unacceptable state of affairs that Cornwall’s GDP is less than 75% of the EU average, and past governments must all take some responsibility for the fact that Cornwall has not fared better in recent years.

But just look at George Osborne’s recent budget, when he made announcements about investment across the UK. We were, once again, informed that Cornwall would receive much less investment than elsewhere with, for example, additional money being pledged for London’s Crossrail 2 project which could cost up to £32 billion!

It is telling that the Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce described the new monies for Cornwall as “paltry,” while a representative of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council said it was “chicken feed!”

It doesn’t fill one with confidence does it, should these politicians be challenged to put the needs of Cornwall first and replace our structural funding?

The Conservative MPs have also claimed that farmers who “rely heavily on CAP payments” will be protected and, in their words, they “won’t be left to fend for themselves.” And last week, George Eustice MP claimed that, after a “Brexit” vote, funding for the agricultural sector would be maintained or increased.

But where are the guarantees and it was ironic that his announcement came on the same day that farmers took to the streets of London to protest at the failure of central government to get to grips with the present crisis in their industry.

Again, it doesn’t inspire confidence, does it?


PaulS said...

We should not be unduly concerned. If Brexit results in less support for Cornwall, that in turn will result in more support for Cornish Independence.

Scott said...

Cornwall has gained billions from the EU due to the neglect of Westminster to help support Cornish Language, Culture and the economy. But... leaving presents larger opportunities.Nicola Sturgeon has said if the UK votes to leave the UK this will mean another Independence Referendum for Scotland.
If Scotland vote to leave this will mean a new constitutional settlement for the UK and creates a big opportunity for Cornwall.
Last week Alan Johnson of the Labour Party made a threat that if people vote to leave, Wales could get independence - not realising that this is a positive!

Roger Bartlett said...

Unfortunately Cornwall and Scotland cannot be compared. Scotland is on the brink of independence and will support continued EU membership. Our county has along way to go before even Westministet would consider Cornish Independence. Staying in the EU will guarantee for the forseable future financial support. This cannot be and is not guaranteed by the government. There will always be other higher priorities than Cornwall. The EU supports many regions like Cornwall, without any national priorities or concerns. Stay "IN" for Cornwall.