With MPs now on summer recess, all may seem quiet on the Westminster scene. There is plenty to get our teeth stuck into so over the coming weeks until the House returns I, for one, will be analysing the government’s white paper on the UK Internal Market. In doing so, I shall explain and decipher the parliamentary gobbledygook and argue that the question of further devolution to the regions is a possibility.
Before parliament went into recess the government bought forward its white paper on the UK internal Market, presented to Parliament by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary, Alok Sharma. This white paper is probably one of the most important to be presented to Parliament this year as it outlines the government’s plans for how the four nations of the UK will trade with each other post-Brexit. First, we must note that the paper is 104 pages long. In the introduction we are given the historical insight of how the trade links between the four nations came about: it was in 1707 when England, Scotland and Wales joined to form a union. The Union was then established formally in 1801 when Great Britain and Ireland joined to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Once the transition period ceases on December 31st 2020 we will be able to administer our own trading rules between the nations. In the paper, the word regulate appears many times.
My first question to the PM and the BEIS Secretary is ‘should we now, as a nation free to determine our trading destiny, look to deregulate in as many ways as possible to open up the internal market to real competition?’
The paper looks at what powers will be devolved to the four nations and will include economic development, agri-food and fisheries, environment and planning, health and social services, education and skills, employment law and some tax powers. Now, there are powers to which central government is holding on such as fiscal and monetary policy, the constitution, foreign policy, defence and elements of product standards (not including agri-food and fisheries).
‘So, I put it to the PM that once the transition period ceases and we move forward, will the government open discussions with all parties on devolution and how we can take this further and bring it to other regions and will the government look at devolving further powers in the years to come?’
The white paper is a consultation paper which has the purpose of enshrining in law the Market Access Commitment, and the aim is to legislate for this by the end of the transition period in December 2020.
There are two big questions to which we must pay attention, and they are the constitutional and the fiscal. We do not have a written constitution and there are many of us who believe that we should and that devolved governments should have fiscal and tax raising powers. These we will explore in the coming weeks.
As a libertarian, I believe that to achieve freedom there needs to be a big push towards deregulation to help businesses thrive and for people to achieve real individual freedom. As the government continues to follow what looks like a socialist agenda of ‘the state knows best’, we must ask how can we get libertarianism and free market economics to the fore. I was greatly inspired by Dr Rainer Zitelmann on an Adam Smith Institute webinar last week, who said we must be less theoretical and use real world examples to get our message across. This must be how the government is questioned about its approach.
Next week, I will delve further into the paper and raise many questions for the PM and the government.