This government cares not one jot for the ordinary people of this country
Maggie Lennon says those who voted for Brexit now appear to have been turkeys voting for their own early Christmas as the Tory government is more interested in creating an offshore tax haven than it is a greater Britain
Bridges has consistently opposed leaving the EU and has consistently warned against the impact of a hard line approach to negotiations. We are concerned not just about leaving the single market and the customs union, but are extremely fearful of the impact on workers rights and human rights and future funding for likely social justice and social policy initiatives which are delivered by the third sector. We are also disappointed that the narrative around securing Scotland's place in the EU as portrayed by the first minister, also seems to have a disproportionate focus on the purely economic issues rather than those of workers, rights and social justice.
It is now fundamentally clear to me that the entire Brexit approach is designed to curb immigration at all costs. This was the raison d'etre of Theresa May while she was home secretary and a goal she was continually unable to deliver. It now looks like she is using both her ascendancy to the premiership and Brexit to push through that narrow agenda without due consideration of the consequences for the UK economy or its people.
The whole tone of her speech on Tuesday was bullying and showed not just disrespect for the other 27 nations but also a complete fantasy of Britain’s standing in the world. As an example of how not to negotiate this was a masterclass. The idea that we might become another offshore tax haven in a race to the bottom of tax cuts that the chancellor has suggested, makes it clear that this government cares not one jot for the ordinary people of this country many of whom would now appear to have been turkeys voting for their own early Christmas. A government that thinks like that does not have the interest of the third sector in mind I doubt we have even crossed their radar. The cynicism is breathtaking and the impact on the economy will be devastating. The speech was long on rhetoric but short on logic or detail
I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the tone of the Westminster government and its apparent lack of consideration of alternative proposals put forward by devolved administrations, and the apparent willingness to dismiss legal opinion which question the mandate for such an approach from an advisory referendum which clearly will need parliament's approval to rescind the Act of Parliament that took us into the EU.
I am of the opinion that the sector has very little opportunity to influence the UK government to divert from its course. There seems to be no place in the current attitude to negotiations to consider alternatives to European Social Fund (ESF) funding or research grants for medical charities it is all about trade. Whether any constitutional changes to the make-up of Britain provide opportunities for the third sector to remain in Europe in part so the UK remains to be seen. But we must continue to press the Scottish Government on plan B post ESF and withdrawal in terms of support for the third Sector even more than we have been doing.
Maggie Lennon is director of the Bridges Programmes.