Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

30th November 2018

The Prime Minister has now announced her Withdrawal deal with the European Union and is touring the Country looking for support. As I feared when she pulled the rug from under David Davis ahead of announcing her Chequers proposals in the summer, I believe with the “Withdrawal Agreement” and Political Declaration, never in the history of our great nation have so many been betrayed for so little.

This is not the Brexit that 17.4 million people voted, in fact this is worse than being in the European Union because at least then you can actually leave. What this does is sees the UK hand over the bulk of the divorce payment to the EU during the transition period, whilst we negotiate a future relationship based on the vague Political Declaration which is in no way legally binding.

It then gets worse than that though. If we cannot reach agreement by December 2020, the options are to extend the transition period for an unspecified period or use the ‘backstop’ which would effectively keep the whole of the UK in a single customs territory to prevent a ‘hard border’ between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a border which both sides have openly said they would never enforce. This would oblige us to apply all EU regulations, including those we have had no say in drafting.

We would have no right to unilaterally withdraw from the backstop arrangement and would have to seek permission from an independent arbitration panel. I campaigned for the Leave campaign on the basis of regaining sovereignty, this agreement would see the UK becoming less sovereign.

If we were to get out of the backstop and enter into a trade agreement with the EU, every one of the 27 remaining EU nations would have the right to veto it. France are already laying down conditions about access for their fishermen to our waters, Spain want joint sovereignty of Gibraltar and I can guarantee every nation will be looking for its own angle to gain advantage during the negotiation.  

All the deal does is guarantee a bad deal with the EU and no deal with anybody else. It is ridiculous that we as the 5th largest economy in the world are signing up to such a damaging agreement. All on the basis of the false argument which is the Irish border issue.

As you may have gathered, I will not be voting in favour of the withdrawal agreement when it comes before the House of Commons in mid-December. I believe those who are supporting it are kicking the can down the road and hoping for the best when it comes to trade negotiations. I hold the Prime Minister culpable for a failure of statecraft in these negotiations, and for undermining successive Brexit Secretaries who were looking to implement the Brexit vision that the public voted for.

If the agreement is not approved as I do not expect it will be, the Government has 21 days to come up with an alternative or as things stand, we will leave on ‘no deal’ terms on the 29th March.

In that event, I understand there are agreements in place regarding citizens’ rights, aviation and data sharing. Much more should have been done to prepare for ‘no deal’ and these preparations would have to be stepped up considerably. Whilst there would be short term disruption, it would be nothing compared to the long term consequences of this dreadful deal. It took EU member states just 38 minutes to agree the deal. They see this as a massive opportunity to gain advantage over the UK. That is not something I can support, because you cannot negotiate when your head is in the lion’s mouth.

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