Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

04 MAY 2017

British MEPs seek Westminster refuge

Politico (http://www.politico.eu) - 4 May 2017

By Ryan Heath and Annabelle Dickson

British Conservative MEPs are trying to jump the Brussels ship early — and some look set to succeed.

MEPs Vicky Ford and Andrew Lewer are likely to swap the airy modern Brussels parliament for the dusty corridors in Westminster as Tory "safe seat" contenders (in Chelmsford and Northampton South respectively). Ian Duncan will stand in Perth and North Perthshire but even with a Tory tartan march it will be tough to steal it from the Scottish National Party.

They are the lucky few. Unlike many of their MEP peers from others EU countries, being in the European Parliament can hurt rather than help Brits wanting to run for election at home.

In Poland, a sitting MEP, Andrzej Duda, became president in 2015. Martin Schulz swapped the European Parliament presidency to become the German Socialists' candidate for chancellor. The French MEP bench includes several ex-ministers.

In the United Kingdom, MEPs have to leapfrog unelected ministerial advisers and battle with party headquarters to get a hearing.

Others seeking a Westminster refuge include European Conservatives and Reformists party group leader Syed Kamall; high-profile Brexiteer Daniel Hannan; and Sajjad Karim. POLITICO understands all have so far been sidelined.

David Campbell-Bannerman — who returned to the Conservatives from UKIP in 2011 — told POLITICO he was blocked by Tory HQ in three safe seats where local associations wanted him on the shortlist and he now wants a review into the "remote unelected cabal" at the center of the Conservative Party.

Rob Semple, chairman of the National Conservative Convention, said: "Given the shortened timeframe we have worked hard to ensure that [local Tory] associations and their members are given a choice of candidates where possible."

This unseemly scramble was set in motion by Theresa May's calling of a snap election, which ruined the plans of many British MEPs to stick it out in Brussels until Brexit in 2019.

As well as looming unemployment post-Brexit, this year's election is particularly attractive because proposed changes to the U.K. electoral system, due to be finalized in 2018, could reduce the number of seats in the House of Commons from 650 to 600. If MEPs don't get a seat this year, they will be forced to compete against Conservative MPs whose seats have been abolished.

Tories are also tempted by the party's 20-point lead over Labour in the polls, which should make even marginal seats easier to take.

It's not surprising that many calculate that they are better to try to get in this time round that wait until 2022 when the Conservatives will have been in power for 12 years and Brexit headwinds may have turned the electoral tide.


05 APR 2017

Nigel Farage 'mafia' comments do not represent British views, says Eastern region MEP

Eastern Daily Press (http://www.edp24.co.uk) - 5 April 2017

By Annabelle Dickson - annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk - @newsannabelle

Nigel Farage has been accused of driving a herd of bulls through tricky Brexit negotiations after he accused MEPs of behaving like the mafia.

The former leader of the UK Independence Party was rebuked by the President of the European Parliament after telling MEPs:

"You're behaving like the mafia - you think we're a hostage. We're free to go!".

His comments prompted Eastern region Conservative MEP Vicky Ford to hit back, telling the parliament: "Calling other colleagues members of the mafia or gangsters does not show mutual respect, it does not represent the views of the vast majority of the British people and it is not the view of the British prime minister who wants to remain friends, allies, and partners."

MEPs met today to debate negotiations between the European Union and UK after the two-year stopwatch was set on Brexit negotiations when prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 last Wednesday.

Mrs Ford, who has been an MEP since 2009 and leads a committee on the single market, said she wanted an amicable separation and a constructive and deep future relationship between the UK and EU.

She said: "When negotiating a tricky separation one needs to keep calm, but when Farage spoke it was like a herd of bulls had just been driven straight through the china shop. Of course there will be times when negotiators disagree but chucking indiscriminate insults at those on the other side of the channel will not help get a good deal for the UK. It's important that people across Europe know that most Brits don't support this sort of language."

Mr Farage described last Wednesday as an "historic day" for Britain following the activation of Article 50.

"An act that that he been cheered by hundreds of millions of people all over the world," he added.

He continued: "The response to the triggering of Article 50 has been all too predictable.

"Already you've made a series of demands that are not just unreasonable but in some cases clearly impossible for Britain to comply with."

During his speech Mr Farage also claimed Britons could boycott European goods if the EU tried to impose tariffs on exports from the UK.


27 MAR 2017

King's Lynn firm Chalcroft nurtures award-winning talent

Lynn News - 27 March 2017

Lynn based construction company Chalcroft has shown its commitment to the next generation of industry specialists after its assistant quantity surveyor Charlie Ilson was named Trainee of the Year in the Mayor's Business Awards.

Charlie was among representatives of the Chalcroft team who met MP Sir Henry Bellingham and MEP Vicky Ford when they visited the firm's new head office in Campbell's Meadow recently.

After leaving school, Charlie joined Chalcroft as a trainee quantity surveyor, and has since become an assistant quantity surveyor, completing his BTEC Level 3 Diploma in construction and civil engineering with a double distinction. Having had the early part of his career development supported by Chalcroft, Charlie will further his studies through a BSc Honours degree in quantity surveying and construction commercial management.

Chalcroft has since employed three more trainee quantity surveyors, Harry Porter, Luke Reed and Luke Simonds, who will be supported in their educational development through qualifications and experience through construction projects.

Charlie Ilson said: "Joining Chalcroft straight from sixth form was a crucial step for my career development. I have gained priceless experience working on live projects. Chalcroft's educational programme is second to none, and as principal contractor on many different construction developments, I've had the opportunity to work on a number of projects for various clients."

Georgina Clark, Chalcroft group HR manager said: "I am immensely proud of our trainees and the Chalcroft trainee programme. The trainees take on a lot of responsibility when they join us following A levels, actively participating on projects under the mentorship of our quantity surveyors, whilst studying for a professional qualification during long days at college. They work incredibly hard and I am so pleased Charlie's efforts have been recognised with the Mayor's Business Award".

Paul Morley, managing director of Chalcroft, added: "Nurturing talent is extremely important to us and the wider industry, as we want to ensure that there are enough high-quality professionals meeting the sector's growing demands. Charlie is just one example of this, and over the coming years we hope to see more young professionals coming through and flourishing within the company."

Chalcroft has also pledged its support to best health and safety practices, having partnered with the Health & Safety Executive to champion 'Helping Great Britain Work Well'. As part of the campaign, Chalcroft works with contractors to raise awareness of key health and safety policies and regulations.

Chalcroft is also supporting the 'Learn to Prevent' campaign, promoted by the International Accreditation Society, a charity dedicated to effective health and safety training and assessment.

The relocation of its head office to Campbell's Meadow this year allows Chalcroft to better serve its customers and employees and provide efficient management on all of its live construction projects.

For further information please visit www.chalcroft.co.uk


15 MAR 2017

BASC pledges to work with UK government on proposed EU legislation

Politics.co.uk - 15 March 2017

BASC will continue working to protect legitimate shooting when the European Commission's Firearms Directive is officially passed to the UK to be incorporated into national law.

European Parliament MEPs approved the proposed legislation by 491 votes to 178 at a plenary hearing yesterday after Vicky Ford MEP steered through crucial amendments to an original draft which included many technical errors and would have placed disproportionate restrictions of lawful firearms owners.

The European Parliament has spent 18 months scrutinising the issue and, as part of that process, Mrs Ford met BASC, The British Shooting Sports Council and other shooting organisations from the UK and across the EU, including the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE).

The proposed legislation now passes to the EU Council of Ministers for formal approval, after which Member States will have 15 months to incorporate the new rules into national law. BASC does not believe Brexit will have a significant impact on that process but will be working to ensure UK ministers are adequately briefed.

BASC and other shooting organisations have worked tirelessly to ensure amendments to the Directive, suggested in the aftermath of terrorist atrocities, did not have unintended consequences for those who shoot legitimately.

As a result of those efforts – and the firm stance taken by the UK government and Mrs Ford – the lawful interests of the British shooting community are protected by the proposed amendments.

The following have been preserved for the UK:

  • Rimfire semi-automatic rifles
  • Under 18's having a certificate and their own gun to shoot
  • Home loading of ammunition
  • Collectors to be recognised and historical firearms preserved
  • Imitation firearms used for dog training remain unlicensed


Furthermore, the ability for the UK to extend the life of firearms and shotgun certificates and to choose its medical screening procedures have been secured rather than imposed upon us. The gun trade will be pleased to hear that no specific requirement has been made for a dealer's register of transactions to be electronically stored by them.

Matt Perring, a BASC senior firearms officer, said: "The original Commission proposals were destined to damage many areas of shooting sports, but common sense has won through thanks to the work of Vicky Ford and MEPs who listened to the expert opinions of BASC and others who have an interest in lawful shooting.

"Now we must work hard to ensure the transportation of this proposed legislation into UK law is not a threat to legitimate shooting sports. Government has been supportive so far and BASC will work with ministers and government departments to represent the interests of those who shoot in the UK."

BASC chairman Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: "BASC has been a leading player in rallying together the wider shooting community so that the right people were briefed and the right decisions made. BASC will continue to be vigilant to ensure that legitimate shooting is protected."


02 MAR 2017

Brussels calls on EU leaders to agree 'special relationship' with UK

Daily Express - 2 March 2017

By Nick Gutteridge, Brussels Correspondent

A MAJOR breakthrough was made in the Brexit impasse today as an influential group of Brussels politicians called on EU leaders to agree a "special relationship" with Britain for the future.

In a crucial development ahead of the divorce talks an alliance of powerful MEPs said the bloc's governments must secure a comprehensive trade deal with the UK as soon as possible.

The bombshell move by members of the European Parliament, who are overwhelmingly europhile and have been the most outspoken critics of Brexit, was hailed by British officials as a huge coup for Theresa May.

The prime minister has previously said that "no deal is better than a bad one" and has threatened to walk away from the talks if EU member states try to punish Britain for leaving.

But in a strongly worded statement MEPs have warned the other 27 heads of government they must not allow that to happen, significantly strengthening the PM's negotiating hand as she prepares to trigger Article 50.

They presented a 16-point action plan European leaders should follow for the divorce talks, which includes the creation of a "special relationship" entailing mutual market access for the UK and the EU.

An EU source said the document was a "significant development and a sign of the changing mood" in Brussels now the hard-nosed business of negotiating is imminent, whilst the Conservatives hailed the breakthrough as a "major step forward".

Tory MEP Vicky Ford said: "I have always said our future partnership needs to be much closer than the EU normally has with third countries.

"The recently agreed EU-Canada trade agreement, for example, does not give anything like the level of market access the UK is used to having across EU borders.

"By calling for a 'deep' partnership the committee is advocating significantly more co-operation than the EU has with other third countries, especially on single market issues.

"This is very significant. If these action points are endorsed by the full Parliament for inclusion in the final text, it will be a major step forward."

The proposal has been made by MEPs from the six largest political groups sitting on the influential Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, which is responsible for the single market.

It is being backed by politicians from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic and looks set to be included in the EU parliament's Brexit strategy, to be published immediately after the triggering of Article 50.

The proposal says that the committee "believes it to be in the mutual interest of the EU and the UK to pursue a special relationship...which should include arrangements regarding deep mutual market access in goods and services".

It also supports the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, continued market access for products where UK and EU standards mirror each other and specifies that there should no lessening of consumer standards by either side following Brexit.

But in addition it acknowledges that any agreement between the EU and the UK ought to be "mutually beneficial", leaving open the tricky issue of how to square economic ties with Mrs May putting an end to free movement.

The EU parliament is set to play second fiddle in the Brexit negotiations behind the Commission and the Council of 27 member states, but eurocrats will still have to give strong consideration to its preferences.

That is because MEPs will ultimately wield a veto over any deal agreed between Brussels and Britain, meaning they can torpedo the talks if they think EU leaders are not listening to their concerns. 


14 FEB 2017

Vicky Ford: The Canada deal is not the model Brexit negotiations should follow

ConservativeHome - 14 February 2017

By Vicky Ford MEP

This week MEPs will vote on the long awaited EU/Canada trade agreement known as CETA. For those of us who support free and open trade this is a welcome step. But we should be very wary of using it as a template for future UK/EU trade partnerships.

Removing barriers to trade boosts growth, encourages innovation, increases wages and gives consumers greater choices and lower prices. The EU/Canada deal will eliminate over €500 million of tariffs currently placed on European and British exports. But we should hardly be popping celebrating corks if we achieve zero tariffs in a UK/EU trade agreement as today there are already zero tariffs left to cut.

It is much more important to look at the so called "non-tariff barriers" which reflect the bureaucratic red tape faced by companies exporting into other markets and to recognise that the level of ease British companies currently have when selling into other EU markets is much much greater than that which is now offered to Canada in CETA.

When I talk to key sectors of the British economy about what they want to retain from a new UK/EU relationship while tariffs of course remain a concern, it is the non-tariff barriers which are frequently cited as being more important.

For example, car manufacturers want to keep the mutual recognition of vehicle testing so once safety and emissions tests are passed in the UK they don't need to go and get the same vehicle tested and approved again. Digital entrepreneurs want to retain access to cross-border data flows. Pharma companies wish to continue to seamlessly run cross border clinical trials with a single approval for the new medicines or medical devices that result as well as to enjoy the ability to avoid double testing by having their UK manufacturing facilities certified as compliant with EU standards by UK regulators. The young Irish Occupational Therapist I met working at my local hospital wants to know that her qualifications will continue to be recognised on both sides of the Irish Sea and for our banks it's important that once they pass regulatory tests in the UK they can market the same mortgages, loans, insurance in other countries without additional requirements.

All of these are covered by the current trade arrangements we have between the UK and the rest of the EU but none of these issues are covered in any detail or with any certainty by the Canada trade deal.

When the Prime Minister spoke about leaving the Single Market she also spoke about retaining elements of cooperation, on a fully reciprocal basis and in the UK and the EU's mutual interests.

It would be logically possible to include all these specific elements into a UK/EU new trade deal provided there is trust and political goodwill. But if this is to be achieved then both sides will need to recognise that cutting and pasting terms from agreements that the EU has with other parts of the world is not the wisest place to start.


13 FEB 2017

MEP Vicky Ford put under the spotlight by Seevic students

Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo - 13 February 2017

by Charlotte Austen-Hardy

STUDENTS were able to grill a Member of the European Parliament and find out about her work during a visit.

MEP Vicky Ford met with A-Level students studying Politics and Law at Seevic college in Runnymede Chase, Benfleet.

The Conservative MEP ember of the European Parliament for the East of England is also chairman of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful economic committees of the Parliament.

She was elected a Member of the European Parliament in 2009 and is a member of the Bureau of the European Conservative and Reformist Group and a member of the Parliament's delegation for relations with China.

After an introductory talk about Vicky's work with the European Parliament, the students were able to ask questions.

Vicky was grilled on a range of topics including how law making works, how long it takes to set up a trade deal, should 16-year-olds have voted in the EU Referendum and asked about projects she is involved in.

Blake Matthews, Head of Learning for Humanities at Seevic College, said the students really enjoyed the chance to speak to a politician in depth about their work.

He said: "It is great to give the students the chance to ask about issues they have been learning or reading about in the classroom.

"The questions they were asking were really insightful and Vicky was brilliant at answering them in a clear and engaging way."

To find out more about studying Politics or Law at Seevic College, go to seevic-college.ac.uk.


09 FEB 2017

David Mundell in Brussels: Getting the best deal for the whole of the UK

David Mundell in Brussels: Getting the best deal for the whole of the UK

InvestinUK - 9 February 2017

The Scottish Secretary was in Brussels to discuss how the UK Government is representing Scotland as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell met with Scottish MEPs, EU academics and business representatives in Brussels today [Thursday 9 February], to discuss how the UK Government is representing people and business interests in Scotland.

Mr Mundell also met with other European member states while in Brussels, as part of a two-day programme of European engagement on economic, social and cultural matters. Tomorrow [Friday 10 February] he will travel to Berlin.

Speaking after the meetings, Mr Mundell said

"The UK government has been forming a strong UK-wide evidence base as we prepare for negotiations to forge a new, mutually-beneficial partnership with Europe. Today I set out how the Scottish Government and the UK Government are working together to ensure we get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

I also met representatives from a number of EU member states, and I was heartened to find a willingness to work with the UK as we leave the EU – underlining that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe."

Today [Thursday 9 February] Mr Mundell met:

  • UK MEP Vicky Ford, chair of the European Parliament's single market committee.
  • European thinktanks CEPS, Open Europe and Bruegel.
  • The Permanent Representatives of several key European partners, including Italy, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • The CBI's Brussels representative.

Mr Mundell's visit is part of the UK Government's determination to get the best possible deal for Scotland and all parts of the UK as we leave the EU. This direct engagement will ensure that key figures in Brussels understand the UK's ambitions in delivering a deal that works for the UK and all of its nations.

In Berlin Mr Mundell will meet Scottish academic and business interests, and host a reception for the Edinburgh International Film Festival at the British Embassy. This will showcase the Edinburgh festival to the world's cinema industry, who will be in Berlin for the Berlinale.


25 JAN 2017

East Anglia Euro MP says her single market post suggests Europe does want to work with Britain over trade

East Anglia Euro MP says her single market post suggests Europe does want to work with Britain over trade

Eastern Daily Press - 25 January 2017

By Annabelle Dickson

Conservative Vicky Ford MEP was re-elected as chairman of the European Parliament' Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) and will hold the post until the next European parliament elections when Britain is expected to have left the European Union and the single market.

She took up the role in 2014 and was reappointed in the mid-term committee elections today.

She said "I am pleased to be able to continue this work and to do all I can to help maintain amicable and open dialogue across Europe and between the UK and the EU-27.

"The IMCO Committee looks at the practical elements of removing barriers to trade across Europe. I hope that many of these practical co-operation networks will continue for both the UK and the rest of the EU post-Brexit.

"Re-confirming a UK Conservative in this important role confirms my view that many across Europe wish to maintain a close co-operative partnership with the UK, minimise barriers to trade and keep an amicable and open dialogue during all negotiations, including those on Brexit."


17 JAN 2017

Ford responds to PM's speech

Ford responds to PM's speech

Cambridge News - 17 January 2017

By Jenny Chapman

Theresa May's speech on Brexit now offers both the EU and UK an opportunity to move beyond simplistic 'in or out' scenarios on the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and instead focus on finding a new partnership – according to Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who chairs the European Parliament's internal market committee.

Speaking from the parliament in Strasbourg, Mrs Ford said: "We now need to move beyond the simplistic and binary view that we must either be in or out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Theresa May's speech now sets the scene for the kind of detailed and nuanced discussion that is needed once Article 50 is triggered.

"Many countries have preferential access to the Single Market, and an enhanced relationship on Customs matters. None of the existing models fit perfectly with the UK's position, and the extent to which the economic ties between the UK and the rest of Europe have become intertwined. It is in the interest of all parties to find an arrangement that maximises market access and maintains close regulatory cooperation.

"This new relationship needs to work practically as well as politically. I hope that moving past this binary 'in or out' discussion will mean all negotiators can now roll up their sleeves and start focusing on the specific details of a new partnership that benefits both sides."


29 NOV 2016

AstraZeneca reaffirms commitment to Cambridge as they meet with Vicky Ford MEP in Brussels to discuss Brexit fears

AstraZeneca reaffirms commitment to Cambridge as they meet with Vicky Ford MEP in Brussels to discuss Brexit fears

Cambridge News - 29 November 2017

By Josh Thomas

The implications of Brexit on world-leading Cambridge -based company, AstraZeneca, will be discussed at a meeting in Brussels today.

Vicky Ford MEP, Conservative Member of European Parliament for East of England, will be meeting with representatives from the pharmaceuticals company to discuss their position on Brexit and how leaving the EU could impact on the price of medicine and free movement of workers.

Today, Mrs Ford will meet AstraZeneca to discuss their priorities on Brexit negotiations. Including in particular the importance for UK patients being able to participate in cross border clinical trials and ensuring there are no unnecessary delays to regulatory approvals for advanced medicines or medical devices.

Mrs Ford said: "I am in ongoing dialogue with a lot of companies in the area looking to make sure they can keep a strong relationship with the European market. From AstraZeneca and the life sciences point of view, a key issue is they are committed to Cambridge and are going through with their headquarters here.

"They are looking at the impact on collaborative research and making sure they can continue cross border trials and keep a smooth regulation process."

Mrs Ford said that, from European companies' point of view, it was vital to keep British expertise on board.

last month, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said Brexit could end up having an impact on the cost of medicine should AstraZeneca not be able to operate as normal.

Mr Zeichner said: "Few people were thinking about the price of medicines when they voted in the referendum. But as the chief executive of AstraZeneca warned at the weekend, if the Government gets this wrong, the drugs bill will rise, so less money for the NHS - exactly the opposite of what people thought they were voting for."


27 OCT 2016

Vicky Ford: We shouldn’t ditch the Single Market wholesale – we must work out which bits we want to keep

ConservativeHome - 27 October 2016

By Vicky Ford MEP

Over the past forty years, politicians across the world have worked to tear down barriers to trade but increasingly we now risk tipping into a new era fueled by protectionism. Public support for trade agreements will not be regained if politicians only focus on the small minority of elite consumers who shop across borders: after all, the vast majority of consumers consume in their local area. Decisions on the new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU's Single Market or what trade agreements we should make with other parts of the world need to be made from the viewpoint of the ordinary consumer.

During the referendum there was much debate on the impact of the Single Market on business, on jobs, on workers, on services and standards, but its value to everyday consumers was hardly mentioned.

The abolition of mobile phone roaming charges was briefly highlighted but whilst this may be important to younger voters and to those who regularly travel overseas it did not resonate with many older voters, those of lower income, and those in less affluent areas. It was only recently when suddenly British consumers found that Marmite and Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough might not be quite as readily available that the discussion on the impact for consumers really began.

Margaret Thatcher championed the Single Market. It is about more than just tariff-free trade. There are a plethora of networks for practical co-operation which have been built up under the past forty years. When we are preparing for the negotiations ahead we should look at these networks and the practical benefits they bring to many every day lives and consider which we might wish to maintain. I have encountered many examples.

Important for children is the Rapex alert system. If a dangerous toy is spotted in one market, this system is used to alert trading standards officials all across Europe so that recalls can be made across the supply chain.

On the subject of health, at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham MPs from all over the UK visited the Cancer Research UK stand to pledge their support. Clinical trials for those with rare cancers are increasingly run across borders as larger numbers of participants give more meaningful results. The charity's top priority post-Brexit is to make it easy for British patients, especially children, to take part in joint clinical trials run across many EU countries so that they will be able to access latest treatment. The common approach across the Single Market to sharing of medical data and tissue samples enables these trials.

Patient safety today is also backstopped by an Internal Market Information Sharing System. This enables the UK's General Medical Council to easily check the qualifications of doctors from other countries, and ascertain whether they have ever been barred from practice. We are the largest sharer of information on this system. In Brussels we are currently looking at using the same system to share information on applications for firearms certificates.

Last month in Ware in Hertfordshire I saw lifesaving new asthma inhalers rolling off the production line. The manufacturer, Glaxo Smith Kline, has just invested £74 million in additional capacity at the factory. The management team's top ask post-Brexit is to keep close UK/EU cooperation on approvals for medical devices so that new innovations can come to market faster.

A common declaration system for imports from outside the EU helped customs authorities across Europe to seize over forty million counterfeit goods last year , not just illegal cigarettes, but fake medicines, toys and household electrical goods too. However, our port operators warn that if full customs declarations are also needed for goods moving between the UK and EU this could lead to huge delays at ports and airports. HMRC estimates that the number of customs declarations they would need to process would increase from 100 million each year to 350 million. If the Conservative Government is really committed to preventing unnecessary red tape then we must look for a simpler options.

Some of these Single Market networks are currently only used by the 28 EU countries, others are also accessed by EEA members, Switzerland or other neighbours.

In the UK, the Single Market is under scrutiny as never before. Having free movement of goods across the Single Market has on the whole given consumers greater choice, greater diversity and lower prices – even despite the propensity for the European political left to add extra costs into the supply chain or ban certain products.

Import prices matter to consumers, and trade deals with other parts of the world will bring new opportunities in the longer term, but currently over 50 per cent of the products that we import into the UK come from other EU countries. If we have to rely on a World Trade Organisation backstop for these products then British consumers will face expensive tariffs especially on food products, and negotiating a new free-trade agreement with Brussels to rectify this could take many years of uncertainty.

Therefore before we fully walk away from our entire relationship with the Single Market it is important to consider seriously strategies. Some politicians in other EU countries may say no to an "a la carte" relationship for the UK, but when one examines the EU's own scoreboard for how individual countries implement Single Market agreements it is clear that some of those same countries already take quite an "a la carte" approach themselves.

Our on-going relationship with the Single Market will of course be partly shaped by the decisions we make to ensure the UK has control over migration, but even in this area things are not as inflexible as sometimes portrayed. Politicians on both sides of the channel risk being locked into positions based on theological purity, laying down absolutes as non-negotiable whereas real world examples show that there already exist many examples of more flexible approaches.

In practical terms it is impossible to move to Belgium without a reasonably well-paid job, Switzerland is about to introduce new rules so that jobs must be advertised to local people before non-domestic residents, and in its relationship with Lichtenstein the EU has already conceded the principle that a country with a firm cap on migration can have preferential access to the Single Market.

After Brexit, a new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU's Single Market will be needed but this is not a simple "leave" or "stay" decision. It requires sophisticated consideration and a multi-layered approach


16 OCT 2016

Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford says 'Liechtenstein solution' could solve PM's Brexit dilemma

Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford says 'Liechtenstein solution' could solve PM's Brexit dilemma

Cambridge News - 16 October 2016

By Adam Care

A Cambridgeshire MEP has suggested Theresa May could have a third option when choosing between a 'hard' and 'soft' Brexit.

According to Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the east of England, it would be possible to impose tougher limits on immigration, whilst retaining access to the single market.

Speaking to the Guardian , Mrs Ford, who chairs the European parliament's committee on the internal market, said the UK should look to other EU nations that have devised alternative solutions to restricting migration.

She said: "If you look at a country like Liechtenstein, in the EEA, they have access to free movement of goods within the single market [but they] have an absolute cap on the number of people given residency a year – and it is only 90 people."

She suggested the "Liechtenstein solution" was not perfect for the UK, but demonstrated set migration limits were a possibility.

The also pointed to other countries with harsher restrictions than the UK.

"Look at a country like Belgium," she said.

"To live in Brussels you need to have a social security card, you need to be registered with your local area. And you have to have an employer who is committed to pay your social security benefits – or to be able to prove that you've got substantial private funds.

"In practical terms it is not possible go and live in Belgium and access public services without a job ... Without your social security card you can't get housing, education, healthcare, rent a property."


03 OCT 2016

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford talks Brexit with the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford talks Brexit with the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce

Herts & Essex Observer - 3 October 2016

A "calm and reasonable" approach to Brexit negotiations will benefit big business in Hertfordshire, according to the area's MEP.

Vicky Ford, a Conservative who represents the East of England, spoke at an event hosted by the Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce at the town's golf club on Friday (September 3).

That morning she had visited the GSK plant in Ware to get a feel for the effect of the Brexit vote on business in the area.

Speaking to a range of businesspeople and local politicians, she said: "I have been seeing the asthma inhalers they make there and GSK are going to invest another £74million in those products which will be sold in over 100 different countries.

"It's critical to their operations that we have a negotiation between the UK and the rest of Europe that is as calm and reasonable and damage limiting as possible."

She added: "It's a great local example of the kind of work I have been doing around Brexit."

Mrs Ford also gave her views on the negotiations surrounding the single market, national security, science and research hubs in Cambridge, and free movement around Europe.

She was introduced by chamber committee member John Stigwood from Nockolds Solicitors and a range of businesspeople from the town attended.

Many shared concerns about the difficulty of doing business internationally since the referendum.

But many others said, while trade had slowed initially, the result had made little difference to the day-to-day running of their business.

Robert Lee, the president of the chamber, said: "The members of the chamber greatly enjoyed a frank and informative discussion on the effects of Brexit and the likely future negotiations.

"It's important the chamber members understand the opportunities and the difficulties that Brexit will bring."

For more information on the chamber visit www.bschamber.org


23 AUG 2016

Vicky Ford: What the other EU member states are thinking about the Brexit negotiations

Vicky Ford: What the other EU member states are thinking about the Brexit negotiations

ConservativeHome - 23 August 2016

By Vicky Ford MEP

This autumn, as politicians across Europe return from their summer breaks they will start to refine their own positions and priorities for negotiations with the UK. If we are to avoid the economic fallout of an acrimonious divorce then it is important to look at what is on the minds of those in other EU countries. In the words of Robbie Burns: "O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us!"

After triggering Article 50, the agreement on the terms of our exit from the EU will require only a majority from the other EU countries. However a new trade deal between the UK and the EU needs the unanimous consent of all 27 EU countries. Any one country could veto it. We cannot assume that just because a deal has the support of, say, Germany, France and Poland that it will be acceptable to all. Many countries have their own historic alliances, and the suggestion that we might try to pick off countries one by one and offer a series of bilateral agreements went down very badly. Our own negotiating strategy needs to be detailed and very well prepared.

My MEP colleagues often remind me that the top priorities of their own national leaders are not the negotiations with the UK. Security and counter-terrorism have become the leading issues for some. For others it is the ongoing situation with migrants arriving from outside the EU. Many EU leaders have their own domestic economic problems and political concerns, including upcoming elections, which will colour their attitude to negotiations with the UK.

Security and Defence

Theresa May's immediate message to European leaders that she wishes the UK to continue to playing a leading role on security, defence and counter-terrorism set a constructive tone. Negotiations in this area are fiercely complex, as I discovered when working on new cross-border processes to counter cybercrime. The mutual benefits of co-operating and sharing information between security services must not compromise national sovereignty over decisions regarding our own national security. In her time as Home Secretary the Prime Minister built great respect with counterparts across the continent. They respect our differences on issues such as Schengen and asylum policies, but the UK's expertise, assistance and advice on home affairs, justice and security is greatly valued.

Relationships with the Single Market

A key issue is economic links and the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Whilst Brexit will bring the opportunity to negotiate new bilateral trade deals with other parts of the globe, we should also focus on maintaining our trade with the EU Single Market as this currently accounts for nearly half of all British exports.

At a high level it appears that agreeing a "custom built" deal with preferential trade terms should be mutually beneficial to both the UK and EU. Britain does have a large trade deficit with the EU, we buy more than we sell and Brits make up their largest customer group. Furthermore, the relatively barrier free trade between EU countries over the past 40 years has led to an elaborate intertwining of industrial supply chains between the UK and the continent especially in the automotive,aeronautical, chemical and pharmaceuticals sectors. These cannot be rapidly reconfigured. Industrialists across the continent are concerned about the impact on their own production if new trade barriers are erected – it's not currently possible to make an Airbus without its "made in Britain" wings.

But the trade benefit is not at all equally spread across the other 27 countries. Some of them have very little trade with Britain. Some countries will be tempted by the prospect of new barriers to trade if this were to result in some production relocating from the UK to their own backyards. Agreeing a new trade deal on goods, let alone services and digital products, will require detailed consultation and political goodwill.

Fundamental to the Single Market debate is the thorny issue of regulatory equivalence. If we are to maintain relatively barrier-free trade then continental producers will demand their UK competitors also have to comply with any EU rules and product standards. However, frustration with EU regulations was given by many people as their personal reason for voting Leave. My own inbox has been full of complaints on diverse issues like restrictions on glyphosate and other agri-chemicals, vacuum cleaner bans, proposed limits on firearms used for pest control, let alone bankers' bonus caps – all areas where British public opinion does not support a one-size-fits-all EU approach.

There are areas where international trade requires agreement on international regulations and it will clearly not be politically acceptable if our Westminster Parliament has no say on those rules, only a rubber-stamping role similar to that of Norway. Currently British voices influence EU regulations not only through the European Council and our MEPs but also via the myriad of specialist stakeholder groups and trade associations where British experts from public and private sectors often hold leading roles. A new strategy will be needed. One suggestion is to look at the "regulatory co-operation" proposals of the latest EU/Canada trade deal but this is a very far cry from the current relationships between UK regulators and those of our EU neighbours. Instead, I would propose to consider a sector-by-sector approach, focusing co-operation primarily where there is true international need for a cross border consensus; certain areas of financial services and the digital economy as well as key manufacturing sectors come to mind.

Customs Union

There is much discussion on what approach the UK should take to Customs Union. Again this is an issue that I think needs to be broken down into component parts. Being able to sell goods across borders at the VAT rate of one's own country does simplify trade especially for small businesses – as was so firmly evidenced by the chaos and furore that occurred when this was changed for online sales of digital goods. However the unanimous consent of all countries required to change any elements of EU VAT is also deeply frustrating as we found out during the debates on the tampon tax. If we choose to exit Customs Union and negotiate new tariff agreements with other parts of the world there will be additional decisions needed on how to allocate appropriate duties when the component parts of export goods are sourced from multiple jurisdictions.

Customs Union is not just about VAT and tariffs – though these are the parts that policy wonks in Treasury Departments tend to focus on – there are also areas like work on anti-counterfeiting and action on trade in illegal goods where the UK may wish to continue co-operation. Furthermore, being able to import goods from outside the EU into the UK and then transport them on across the EU with little additional paperwork brings a huge amount of business and jobs into British ports. The impact of any potential changes need to be carefully considered.

Science and Research

One debate close to my heart is that on science and research. The East of England has world leaders in areas like cancer research, crop protection, aeronautics and data analytics. The EU, through it's £70 billion Horizon 2020 Fund (which the UK championed), has become a major funding stream for British-based research. Bids for research funding are fiercely competitive and it is helpful that the Chancellor has announced that the UK will guarantee research funding up to 2020. However, this debate is not just about money. The success of many of these organisations relies on easy international collaboration. Science is fundamentally a people business. Just as British-based experts have come here from all over the world, so they can easily relocate. If we want to remain at the forefront of world science and innovation we need to send a clear message that we are open to scientists from across the world.

Free movement

The most sensitive negotiating element is that of free movement, and reactions to the detailed stance we take will affect how others positions themselves in other areas. The UK has benefited greatly from EU migrants and many British businesses, large and small, have relied on their great skills and hard work. However, in the past decade, the East of England has witnessed the largest inflow of EU migration anywhere across Europe. In Fenland towns where this was particularly concentrated there has been genuine pressure on local services and local communities. This built resentment and contributed to the very strong Leave vote in these areas. The Cameron negotiations on rights to benefits were clearly considered insufficient. Free movement as we have had it to date in the UK can not continue.

It is not only the UK where there has been growing concern about the impact of unlimited free movement especially on lower paid jobs. I believe new solutions can be found. Switzerland (a non-EU Country) is due to take its own action on its migration referendum by January and reactions to this will provide insight as to how views are developing elsewhere.

UK negotiators should not underestimate how deeply cherished the right to free movement is in other parts of Europe, especially those that were held under Communist rule where there are recent, often emotionally painful, memories of the heavy restrictions on movement. We should be sensitive to how "points based" systems are perceived as these can easily be interpreted as an attempt to brain-drain talent and skills from others. Different countries even within the EU have their own systems to ensure fairness especially regarding fiscal contributions and benefits, for example the Belgian social security card system, but in the past there has been resistance in the UK to considering this type of domestic reform.

A post-Brexit Britain is clearly going to need significant changes to how we control migration whilst also managing access to services and welfare contributions. A detailed analysis of how this is achieved in other countries both inside and outside the EU would provide valuable comparisons and fruitful ground for new ideas.



My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care and improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.