The government and even Brexiteers spooked by the latest offerings from Project Fear are now saying that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, despite its manifest flaws (not least the fundamental failure to deliver any kind of Brexit) and resounding rejection by both the House of Commons and the British public, is the only option to “deliver Brexit”. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is an inescapable trap, and if passed, would effectively hand control of vast areas of policy in the UK to unaccountable officials in the EU.
MPs should realize the full dangers of surrendering to fallacious arguments from Number 10 at this late stage – for never has a full Brexit that restores full sovereignty to the UK been more possible than now. But it can only happen if the Withdrawal Agreement is permanently consigned to the dustbin.
- Trade arrangements under the backstop would be worse than WTO terms –there would be a complete loss of freedom of action. The UK would lose access to third country markets covered by EU trade agreements, but those third countries would retain preferential access to the UK market with no reference to the interests of British producers and businesses.
- The WA mandates that any permanent trade deal must build on the ‘single customs territory’ created by the backstop. That means the only permanent deal the EU will accept will be a customs union – the most economically damaging deal for the UK which requires full implementation 0f the EU’s trade policy and tariffs with no say
- The WA is an international treaty with no exit clause – once it is signed, the UK cannot escape its provisions unless it accepts a permanent arrangement beneficial to the EU (as clearly set out in the Political Declaration) or breaks international law, with potentially huge political and financial costs. This has been admitted by the Attorney General and by other authoritative legal voices.
- The argument apparently put forward by the government to persuade Brexiteer MPs to vote for the WA — that the treaty can be abrogated — is a very dangerous course. It would be impossible to argue that the EU is negotiating in “bad faith” once we have signed up to the WA & Political Declaration. And any attempt to break the treaty using this shaky argument would inflict severe reputational damage on the United Kingdom. Do we want to start the next chapter of our history as a country that regards solemn treaty commitments as a matter of political expediency, to be broken at will? The word of the British government in any international forum would never be trusted again.
- The WA proposes a defence arrangement which would subordinate the UK’s defence and security structure to EU control and endanger UK security ties with its main allies
- The WA would maintain the rule of the European Court of Justice – which will be a wholly foreign court – over large areas of UK national life.
- The WA would allow the ECJ to prosecute the British government for any perceived breaches of EU law for up to four years after the end of any transition period, with judgments and fines binding on the UK.
- The ‘backstop’ would allow the EU to restrict UK government support to agriculture and defence industries while placing no restrictions on the EU in these areas
- The ‘backstop’ requires the UK to be a rule-taker from the EU in huge areas, not just trade but also competition, environmental, social and even tax policies
- The ‘backstop’ places GB and NI in two separate customs territories and creates a legislative, fiscal and regulatory border in the Irish sea; it makes NI in many ways a protectorate of theIrish Republic, with alarming political implications for the United Kingdom.
Far from being a benefit, membership of the EU has done major quantifiable damage to our economy, and to accept a permanent subordinate link would be an act of incredible self-harm
Graham Gudgin and Harry Western give 14 reasons why a Customs Union with the EU – the programmed long term outcome of the WA — would be disastrous:
Turkey, as a non-EU member of the Customs Union, shows in actual practice the huge disadvantages that Britain too would suffer if we fell into this same trap
Martin Howe QC shows unambiguously that complacent arguments and assurances given by the government and others concerning the WA are legally unfounded
The most recent agreement between the UK government and the EU is effectively a Fourth Lock to keep the UK under EU tutelage.
The restrictions imposed on us would be ruinous for British farming, as the WA limits aid to British farmers while allowing more highly subsidised EU imports to enter their home market