The Leave vote was about the UK-EU relationship as a whole, not about trade.
1. The first thing to say is that the latest documents cannot be seen in isolation. In determining where the UK now stands in its relationship with the EU and its 27 member countries, the documents must be read in conjunction with the Withdrawal Agreement including the Northern Ireland Protocol.
2. The second general point is about control – and sovereignty. This lies at the heart of the entire Brexit debate. The majority of voters wanted a return to being a fully free, fully independent, and fully sovereign country once again, after decades of the EU’s inexorable power grabs and insidious advances towards the superstate status its acolytes crave.
3. The third point is a tricky one. Yes, the old cliché that “the devil’s in the detail” applies, naturally, but there’s something else. Something which we have written about many times over the last five years and which has often left us feeling like lone voices in the wilderness. It’s something which is routinely forgotten by almost all Brexit commentators.
The legal text of any agreement with the EU is one thing, but we must never forget that we are dealing with quasi-religious zealots: fanatics for their cause. The technocrats and politicians in the EU Commission and EU Parliament are at heart fundamentalists. Their Old Testament contains the writings of people such as Victor Hugo, Coudenhove-Kalergi, Briand, de Gasperi, Monnet, Schuman and the like. Theirs is an ideology and it’s an ideology founded on principles which seemed important to continental Europeans set against the desecrated post-war landscape of the late 1940s and 1950s.
Their view of ‘Europe’ and the world is still seen through this prism. For many British people this view is unfathomable and indecipherable. It matters because it affects how the EU behaves and how it will treat the UK going forward – regardless of any legal texts.