And why it’s right to reject it again if it is brought back.
Martin Howe QC writes
A new leader of the Conservative Party (“Superleader”) will not be able to escape by skill or strength of purpose from the fatal restrictions of this deal.
The Political Declaration has legal effects because the WA requires the UK as well as the EU to negotiate an agreement in line with it. It will not be possible for the UK to insist on negotiating a future relationship deal which contradicts the PD.
The PD is clearly incompatible with negotiating a Canada-style FTA with the EU. In the real world, it is only compatible with a customs union and the UK would be forced into one as part of the long term deal.
Even Superleader would not be able to escape from the fatal undermining of the UK’s negotiating position once the deal becomes legally binding. We would be led into a false Brexit in which the benefits of leaving the EU would be sacrificed.
Ideas of a future government just busting out of a binding international treaty are fantasies.
The deal betrays Northern Ireland and the Union and those who now support it on “pragmatic” grounds risk being complicit in that betrayal. Why should anyone have confidence that a future Superleader will not concentrate very limited negotiating capital on extracting Great Britain from the backstop and leave Northern Ireland behind?
Fear of the alternatives is a valid point, but the deal leads to a customs union anyway, so what is there to be lost? If resistance to the deal leads to a long Article 50 extension, that is still miles better for the UK than the deal.
Those who resisted and defeated the deal for the third time were right in principle, but importantly they were also right pragmatically. If it is brought back again, it should be defeated again, in the national interest.