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The Brexit deal and Covid Tiers

1st December 2020.

As I write this, the government’s complicated Covid tier system that would leave 99% of the population in the 2 highest tiers has not yet been debated in Parliament. Many Tory backbenchers have threatened not to vote for it. It is still not clear what financial support will be available for the people worst affected. Plus, we still don’t have that public Test, Trace and Isolate service run locally by our own Public Health experts that is crucial for the tier system to work, and that we have been asking for since 12 March.

If the Tier system goes through, we in Cornwall will be part of the 1% who are in the lowest tier. That we are in this position is recognition of the low rates of infection we have sustained in Cornwall and the great work done by our local Public Health team. We will be able to meet in groups of up to 6 and shops and hospitality will re-open. However, it is likely to mean that infection rates rise. If they rise too much then people will become ill and our tier will change. Hopefully good sense will prevail and few people will travel through this time. We are within touching distance of a vaccine now, so exercising caution for a few weeks more seems like the sensible thing to do.

Also as I write, negotiations on a trade deal with Europe are still ongoing with all parties growing ever more impatient and a main sticking point appearing to be fishing quota. Last week the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, offered ‘helpful’ advice to companies who would face large trade tariffs in the event of no deal being reached. He told the Andrew Marr Show that “companies like Arla, which is a big Danish company and sells brands like Lurpak in the UK, which are manufactured in Denmark – they would have to relocate that production to the UK”.

“We can’t move the production of Lurpak into the UK,” said Ash Amirahmadi, Arla UK MD. “That’s a very straightforward one. Lurpak is subject to legal origin protections which mean it must be made in Denmark using Danish cream.”

George Eustice also suggested that sheep farmers should just switch to keeping cattle as sheep farming would be hit hard by a no deal Brexit. That produced a similarly scathing reaction from the nation’s sheep farmers.

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