Special Report: How Boris Johnson's constituents are challenging him on his 'oven-ready' Brexit deal

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

This month (perhaps even this week) could well see the final end of Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the rest of our continent - and employment levels and living standards in Hillingdon and elsewhere in Britain will depend on the nature of the resultant deal (or indeed any failure to achieve one).

Locally, hundreds of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituents are challenging him "to negotiate a deal that ensures that Brexit does not destroy vast numbers of jobs in Hillingdon and across the country".

In a hard-hitting letter from Harrow and Hillingdon European Movement, the organisation's Secretary, David Keys, writing on behalf of HHEM's members and supporters, living in and around Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has urged the Prime Minister "to reach a deep and mutually beneficial compromise with the European Union".

Mr Keys urged the Prime Minister not to "betray the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip (and of the UK as a whole) who believed you, when you said you had an oven-ready Brexit deal".

"Indeed, it was partly on the basis of that, that you won the general election," Mr Keys told him.

"You must surely have known full well that there would be a rocky road ahead rather than an oven-ready treat. We implore you to negotiate a deal that ensures that Brexit does not destroy vast numbers of jobs in Hillingdon and across the country.

"Covid has already damaged the economy of Hillingdon and the nation as a whole. Your decision not to allow more time for negotiations sentenced our local area and the country to a double whammy of Covid resurgence and Brexit chaos, all quite unnecessarily coming together at the same time this midwinter.

"On behalf of many thousands, I have to tell you that that decision was a reckless one. But now you can repair some of the damage by reaching a mutually beneficial compromise with the EU and safeguarding hundreds of thousands of jobs and saving thousands of companies from closure.

"Your party always claims to be pro-business. Now is the time to prove it," Mr Keys told Mr Johnson.

The Harrow and Hillingdon European Movement letter also urges the Prime Minister not to endanger the unity of the UK, peace in Northern Ireland, or Western democracy:

"Please do not endanger the territorial integrity and unity of the United Kingdom. For centuries, your party (like others) has stood for the unity of the UK. A 'no deal' or 'thin deal' Brexit will threaten that unity and may well ultimately lead to Scottish secession and the breakup of the United Kingdom.

"Please do not endanger the hard-won peace of Northern Ireland. If you don't get the current negotiations right (or if you implement the Northern Ireland-specific parts of the Internal Markets Bill), there will almost inevitably be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That would be a terrible betrayal of the Good Friday agreement and of the efforts of both major UK political parties and our major international ally to achieve peace".

The letter also challenges the Prime Minister on the 'no deal' (or 'thin deal') end-2020 Brexit's geopolitical implications: 

"Please do not betray our country, our continent and Western democracy as a whole by seriously damaging UK/EU relations – and thereby putting a giant smile on Vladimir Putin's face. Putin, who represents values very different from ours and yours, wants to see the EU fail.

"Brexit was a birthday present for him (which is why Russia interfered in the referendum).

"But that is now water under the bridge – so please don't give Putin a Christmas present as well, by creating total chaos and enmity between the UK and the rest of our continent," Mr Keys told the Prime Minister.

"If you do, history will not forgive you. The bitter past teaches us that we cannot afford to live in splendid isolation in an increasingly fluid and interconnected world.

"Your party has always claimed to be a patriotic one. Playing into the hands of our nation's most dangerous adversary would be a strange way of respecting that tradition. Now is the time to show real patriotism and reach a mutually beneficial agreement with our neighbours and allies," Harrow and Hillingdon European Movement told Mr Johnson.

The HHEM letter continues:

"Mr Johnson, you must have known full well, when you promised your oven-ready deal, that the chances of our 27 neighbours allowing us alone to have our cake and eat it (i.e. to want privileged trade access to the rest of Europe, without respecting their community's commercial principles) was doomed to failure.

"Now, we implore you, even at this late stage, to reach a deep and mutually beneficial compromise with the European Union, putting Britain's and our continent's real shared interests first (rather than your ideology) thus safeguarding the jobs, living standards and existing rights of every person who lives in our great country.

"We urge you to avoid 'no deal' (or a 'thin deal')  - and indeed to avoid anything that endangers the economic and political health of our nation and our continent," HHEM Secretary David Keys told the Uxbridge MP.

The Prime Minister replied to Harrow and Hillingdon European Movement indicating that the UK will leave the Single Market and the customs union at the end of this year "with or without a further agreement".

Irrespective of whether a deal is or is not reached, the Prime Minister told HHEM that he is "confident" that the UK "will prosper as an independent nation".

In his response to HHEM, Mr Johnson restated his belief that, after Brexit is fully implemented at the end of this year, the UK "will have control" over its "borders, laws and fisheries" and that the country's "economic and political independence will be restored."

However, Harrow and Hillingdon European Movement has now sent a detailed response to the Prime Minister's letter in which they suggest that a hard Brexit could, in practice, reduce rather than increase Britain's control over its borders, laws and fishing industry -  and undermine its economic and political independence.

The HHEM response warns the Prime Minister that, without a proper UK/EU deal this month, Britain's biggest border complex Hillingdon's Heathrow Airport, cannot be made fully secure.

"As I am sure you are aware, that's because, to help make it secure, the UK relies on full access to a whole range of EU police intelligence systems, including the Schengen Information System (which alerts UK Border Force personnel to potentially dangerous individuals) and the European Criminal Records Information System (which has for many years, given the UK access to other European countries’ criminal records databases). A 'no deal' or similar end-2020 'Brexit' could well put that access at risk," HHEM told the Uxbridge MP.

Cover Photo Credit: Number 10. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0