23 December 2019 | OPINION

In the run-up to Christmas, many may wish to look back at what a year 2019 has been in UK politics.

Back in January, it looked uncertain as to whether we were going to leave the European Union at all, or whether we would face a second referendum on EU membership that would have been overwhelmingly divisive. At first, we had been expecting to leave the EU on the 29th March, but this was not to be.We ended up with an extension to 12th April and then 31st October. Despite the setbacks and delays, it does look as though we will finally free ourselves from the shackles of Brussels by the end of January 2020. We can then move forward into the sunlit uplands of negotiating free and favourable trade arrangements with the rest of the world.

With it now looking conclusive that we will leave by the end of January, it is safe to say that there has been an uphill battle of the people versus establishment politicians. Before the European elections in late spring, many thought it almost inevitable that a second referendum would take place. However, thanks to the results of the European elections, the mandate to leave the EU was given a new breath of life. My good friend and former boss, Daniel Hannan MEP, returned triumphantly to office, continuing to use his public platform to advocate for Euroscepticism and free trade all over the world. In addition to the European elections, the General Election only a couple of weeks ago was also a sign that many across the country do believe we must fulfil the result of 2016’s democratic referendum.

As well as Brexit, the British people have also used the ballot box to reject the ugly face of the far-left. Let’s be clear: as well as an endorsement of Brexit, the result of the election was also a condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the far-left, its policies, its sickening political tactics and its anti-Semitism. There have been countless reports of anti-Semitism from the far-left of the Labour Party, and unfortunately these have not been dealt with adequately.

Aside from Brexit and the troubles that Labour are facing, international trade – specifically with the United States – looks promising. Before long, we could be enjoying a free trade deal with America. It could be said that I am being ambitious, but I would like to see a new kind of trade deal negotiated. Would it not be fantastic if a new trade deal could include arrangements on financial services and other areas of the service economy? I hate to sound too much like a nerd for international trading arrangements, but that would make my Christmas! In addition to financial services, agri-food is a key element of any trade deal. Agriculture is a key component of both the US and UK economies, and should also make up a significant part of any Anglo-American trade relationship.

In addition to foreign affairs in America and Europe, Boris Johnson has a brilliant domestic agenda. His plan to increase police numbers by 20,000 will combat the rise in crime, especially in London, with an increase of 1,369 police officers for the Metropolitan Police. Many MPs and candidates in the General Election contested it with crime and justice as a significant component of their local constituency campaign, particularly in the case of Felicity Buchan, MP for Kensington, and Nickie Aiken, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster. If Shaun Bailey AM can be elected as Mayor of London in May, this would be the cherry on the cake for crime and justice in in the capital.

To end on a note of looking to the Mayoral elections, and in the immortal words of Slade: Merry Christmas … look to the future now – it’s only just begun!

Tom Pritchard is a Policy Fellow of The Pinsker Centre, a campus-based think tank which facilitates discussion on global affairs and free speech.


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