Guest column: The poor will suffer most if we don’t get a Brexit deal

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Millions of families face a £500 hike in household bills if Britain leaves the EU without a Brexit deal.

The Resolution Foundation said the poorest would be hit hardest by the imposition of World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs on imports to Britain from Europe.

Currently huge amounts of goods such as food and cars are imported to Britain without any additional costs for crossing the border under Single Market rules.

Leaving the EU means these rules must be replaced or WTO defaults will kick in.

This is not acceptable and the UK Government must realise that walking away from the negotiating table is the worst possible outcome.

We must avoid the real economic danger of a ‘cliff edge’ scenario that will see the cost of living for households up and down the country go up.

This report is further evidence of how a ‘no deal Brexit’ will hit family budgets and the potential dire consequences of the Government’s chaotic handling of the Brexit negotiations.

Britain crashing out of Europe without a deal is simply not a viable option.

And yet, the only solution ministers have offered to this potential crisis is ‘dig for no deal’.

This week in the chamber I led an important debate on tobacco, which still causes around 100,000 deaths each year in the UK.

On top of that, of all the hospital admissions for respiratory problems in 2014-15, 23 per cent were directly attributable to smoking.

The Government must look to protect public health funding for stop smoking services.

Already a growing number of local authorities have stopped providing stop smoking services for general smokers.

The King’s Fund also highlighted that in 2017-18 local authority funding for tobacco control was facing cuts of more than 30 per cent.

One of the reasons for the drop in smokers is down to the successful use of e-cigarettes.

Whilst the best thing a smoker can do for their health is quit smoking altogether, it is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco.

Public Health England found e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

We all want a smoke free society as soon as possible.

Even some tobacco companies are now saying this – so the Government could not ask for a better opportunity.

The challenge is now to make sure that reality lives up to these ambitions.