Black Country MP John Spellar yesterday voted in favour the deal between Britain and the EU, making it clear that although imperfect, the deal was better than none – especially for Midlands-based manufacturers.
However, in his speech in the House of Commons, Spellar took aim at Government and Whitehall. Their errors and stubborn doctrine could no longer be blamed on the European Union, which had hitherto, “had to carry a considerable amount of the weight of our own errors.” He went on to attack successive Governments for refusing “to benefit our industry and our people” attacking Westminster and Whitehall’s “chronic inefficiency and incompetency in implementation.
Today, Spellar commented: “The time for excuses is over. Government and elitist civil servants in Whitehall have hidden behind EU regulations as an excuse for not backing British industry and British jobs. No other European country behaves in this ridiculous manner. As soon as we legally leave the European Union I will be ramping up my campaign on Ministries, Local Government and Government Bodies to drop the excuses and start buying British”.
John Spellar: I will vote for the Bill, as the choice is stark and clear. The important question is: what do we do after Friday? That is when the real work will begin. Gaps have already been identified, including the situation with services, especially legal and financial services; the travel position of our huge cultural and arts sector, particularly our world-leading music industry; and the rules of origin for manufacturing, not least the motor industry, whose revival has driven the midlands engine.
I want to focus not on our relations with our neighbours but on how the British state will actually respond. The EU, imperfect as it is, has had to carry a considerable amount of the weight of our own errors. The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves. This applies both to doctrine, with the stubborn refusal of the civil service and Governments to behave as others do to benefit our industry and our people, and to chronic inefficiency and incompetency in implementation. The Prime Minister talked about free ports. Perhaps he should focus on getting his Transport Secretary to sort out the gridlock at our existing ports.
There has been a lot of talk today about fish, but as an MP whose constituency is probably as far as you can get from the sea, I want to focus on industry. The Prime Minister talked about state aid, regional policy and our great biomedical industry. It was not the EU but NHS bureaucracy that insisted on buying vaccines from abroad, which is why we have only limited capacity and have to import them. It is only now that we are belatedly recognising that and building a new plant. However, it will be not in the north-east, which was the alternative site for it, but in the overheated Oxfordshire area. Oxford scientists have performed magnificently, but we must break this obsession with the south and back the midlands, the north, the west, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It was not the EU that forced us to produce only 1% of personal protective equipment in the UK before the covid crisis, which led to shortages, eye-watering costs and endless scandals. It was not the EU that forced the Government to build the new Navy ships abroad or to use trains from Germany rather than Derby and Newton Aycliffe, buses from China rather than Ballymena or Falkirk, and police cars for the north-west from Korea rather than Ellesmere Port. It was our own misguided authorities.
In conclusion, from Monday, whether it is from ministerial offices, Whitehall, town halls or quangos, from boardroom to shop floor the message must be clear: “Back Britain or back off. Shape up or ship out.” Only that way can we make Britain great again.