My apologies, but the ‘B’ word takes priority this week. Parliament seems unusually quiet at present; a lull before a powerful storm I think as the days approach for us to consider the EU Withdrawal agreement, due to be debated in the week commencing 10th December. Just settling for anything simply won’t do. The issue of EU membership and its one-way direction towards statehood at the expense of democracy has occupied British politics for a generation; now is the opportunity to settle the issue for good rather than allow it to divide another generation with a half-in/half-out fudge. There is nothing I’d like more than to get down to discussing the issues that affect us all on a daily basis – issues such as housing, health provision, defence and taxation.
The Withdrawal Agreement agreed to by our EU partners simply won’t do across 5 key areas.
Firstly, we agree to hand over at least £39 billion of your taxpayers’ money with nothing guaranteed in return with merely 23 pages of vague, unenforceable ambitions as to what a future trading arrangement may be like. We had been led to understand that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.
Secondly, the UK will remain a ‘rule taker’ over critical areas of EU law such as social policy and even tax policy to prevent any perceived advantage that global freedom could bring. We will have to continue to obey EU laws, but have no further influence over how they are drafted.
Thirdly, there will be no obvious exit from a ‘backstop’ Customs Union. We could only subsequently leave the backstop with the agreement of the EU. We were able unilaterally to notify our intention to leave the EU via the Article 50 procedure, but leaving the Customs Union backstop would require their assent. This is clearly unacceptable and unheard of in any international treaty. While we remain in the backstop, we would be unable to strike international trade deals without the EU’s permission. For me, the ability to negotiate new trade deals with the growth areas of the world, and with naturally friendly nations, offered the greatest Brexit dividend. We are in danger of throwing that away.
Fourthly, the Agreement creates differences within the UK. Northern Ireland would become an enhanced ‘rule taker’ in further areas such as goods, agricultural products and VAT, and would create new barriers to trade within our own union of nations forming the UK. The EU would have more control over Ulster than Westminster or the province’s own assembly. This threatens the internal integrity of the United Kingdom and can never be acceptable.
Fifthly, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain in control of the agreement and large areas of EU law directly effective in the UK. The ECJ will remain as the final arbiter of the agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to.
In summary, the current deal proposed is the worst of all worlds and is worse than EU membership. The UK will become a perpetual rule taker from the EU - a ‘vassal state’ which is completely against the instruction of the 2016 referendum in which 17.4 million UK citizens voted to leave the European Union. This is a punishment Brexit drafted by Eurocrats that are out of touch with the people, and is being used as a warning to other EU nations similarly sick of the project who might be considering their options. It does not pass any ‘sniff test’ of Brexit and I can see no way that Parliament will accept it.