Just Get Brexit Done
“After more than three years of delays and parliamentary games there is a powerful sense of wanting to ‘just get Brexit done’. Feelings of Brexit fatigue have led some Leavers to welcome Boris Johnson’s deal as the best we are likely to get. That is understandable.
“But it is a mistake. The Prime Minister’s deal is not a proper Brexit. It is far removed from what 17.4m of us voted for in 2016. I can only suppose that pro-Brexit MPs backing the deal have not actually read the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the important Political Declaration (PD) that goes with it. These make up a new European Treaty that reheats 95 per cent of Theresa May’s deal.
“Let’s compare it to what we thought we would get when we voted Leave. If it is passed into law, the PM’s Treaty will mean we still won’t be free to trade as we see fit.
“Boris boasts of leaving the EU customs union. Yet the Political Declaration states any future free trade agreement with the EU must ensure ‘a level playing field’ (PD, paragraph 17, 77) and ‘deep regulatory and customs cooperation’ (para 21). This means sticking to EU rules. It will be hard for the UK to reduce tariff barriers to cut the cost of living and make trade deals with other nations. The PD also requires we pursue ‘ambitious customs objectives that are in line with the Parties’ objectives and principles’ (para 22) – another restrictive EU customs union in all but name. Does that sound like the Brexit you voted for?
“Britain can’t pursue an independent defence policy. The Political Declaration commits us to security integration through the European Defence Agency and the European Defence Fund (PD, paragraph 102(c)). We will fund the EU’s military plans during the transition period at least, and British troops in EU battlegroups will be under foreign command (WA Articles 128.2, 129.7, 156, 157). Does that sound like the Brexit you voted for?
“We pay the EU billions and get nothing in return. The Treaty commits us to pay a sum to be decided by the EU (WA, Part Five). The £39bn payment demanded is likely to be just the start, with billions more to follow. Does that sound like the Brexit you voted for?”