Oldham Lib-Dem leader seeks Covid-19 safety guarantees amidst a No-Deal exit from Europe

Date published: 25 July 2020

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, has written to local MP Debbie Abrahams regarding his concerns over the likely impact of a No-Deal Brexit, when combined with the Covid pandemic, on public safety. 

On Friday, June 12, the UK government decided not to seek an extension of the existing transition period before exiting the European Union. 

The UK will leave the European Union entirely on December 31, 2020.

Councillor Sykes worries for the most vulnerable in society if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal whilst still reeling from the impact of Covid-19. 

Mr Sykes said: “A No-Deal Brexit combined with Covid would represent a double whammy. 

"Progress made so far on securing a future trade deal between the UK and the rest of Europe has been painfully slow. 

"Council, medical, key and care workers across our borough are already fully engaged in battling the impact of Covid-19. 

"The disease is impacting those who are most vulnerable in our society.

“I have real concerns that if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal then we may also face food and medical shortages in 2021, and these too will hit our poorest and most vulnerable residents."

The Oldham Liberal Democrats are asking Mrs Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, to press the Government to publish impact assessments that were first carried out in the autumn of 2019.

Councillor Sykes hopes that these assessments will provide clarity in four key areas:

The impact on food prices and food availability.

The availability of medicine and drug stockpiles.

The ability of essential products, materials, and chemicals to be imported from the EU.

The ability of British businesses to prepare for a potential no deal, and any negative impact on employment.

Councillor Sykes said: “In April alone, the country’s economy shrank by 20.4%. 

"This has never been seen before. 

"The full devastation of the pandemic is yet to be revealed: widespread job losses, reduced living standards, and debt are certain.

“The Prime Minister refuses extend the EU transition period. 

"We need to know what this will mean for Oldham. 

"A No-Deal Brexit combined with Covid will mean that yet more Oldham people’s lives will be in the balance.”

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