British businesswoman, campaigner and now politician Gina Miller has spoken about how the UK should seize the chance to negotiate closer relations with the EU as an important Brexit-related deadline approaches in two years’ time.
Miller leads new political party
Ms Miller, best known for taking the UK government to court to ensure the decision to leave the EU was subject to a parliamentary vote, is leading a new party called True and Fair, and plans to stand in the British general election next year.
Read more: New pro-Europe party wants better rights for Britons abroad
Her party recently commissioned a legal opinion paper by the UK’s two most senior former European court lawyers, which advises that many improvements to the UK’s links with the EU are possible in the framework of the existing deals.
Get ready now for renegotiations in 2025
She stresses that the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which forms the basis of the UK-EU relationship, allows for renegotiations to modify it at the five-year point, which she says the UK should start preparing for.
The rules will allow for talks to get under way in 2025, she said. “We need to have our asks ready by then, which isn’t long.
“I’ve always been a realist and we can’t wait 10-15 years, or whatever it may take, for the UK to rejoin the EU.
“We need solutions in place as soon as possible to stop the damage that is happening, not just in the UK but also in France and other European countries.
“The intention behind the TCA was for it to be a bare-bones deal on which you could hang more things as you went along.”
Read more: ‘This is only the start’: EU ratifies Brexit future relationship deal
Plan to rejoin education and research schemes
According to True and Fair’s report, the UK government should start talking to all sectors about ways Brexit has impacted them negatively to see what needs to be improved.
“It’s not just about this government either, but I think Labour should be doing the same, as the polls suggest they will make the next government.”
Better mobility for young people to live and work across the Channel is one area that needs to be addressed, Ms Miller said.
“It’s vital to get young Britons travelling and experiencing Europe, and vice versa, so we understand each other’s cultures. It’s very negative to take that away.
“You could have, say, a six-month youth work and travel visa, which would be invaluable.
“We must also rejoin the Erasmus [student exchange] and the Horizon [research partnership] schemes. The UK’s new ‘Turing scheme’ is not providing the same funding and it’s not an exchange.”
Read more: 'I feel lucky to be among the last British Erasmus students in France'
Simplify regulation for small business and culture
She said that to help small businesses on both sides, we should look at regulatory alignment to reduce paperwork.
“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our country and they’re suffering disproportionally.”
New deals are also needed to help workers in certain sectors to tour in the EU and UK, she said.
“It’s hit musicians, artists trying to do exhibitions, and models and designers – and we were so proud of our culture and design.
“They are all part of our soft power and make up an important part of how we are seen.”
Britons abroad must be ready to vote in next general election
Ms Miller said True and Fair sees its role as “saying the things the bigger parties are too frightened to say”.
“We must start with honest conversations so as to find solutions.”
She urged Britons abroad to share the ideas and ensure they are registered to vote in the election expected next year – assuming plans to allow all expatriates to re-register are put into action in time, as hoped.
“This is your opportunity, and the polls are so close that every vote will count.
“If Brits abroad mobilise, it will have a seismic effect.”
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