ON Friday the remaining leavers still #BlindlyBackingBoris will have a post-Halloween awakening with the UK still in the European Union. EU ambassadors have met to confirm an extension will be granted and we patiently await our masters’ decision about how long that will be.
Tomorrow there will be a vote in Parliament under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act for a General Election to be held on 12 December. With Labour trailing in the polls, it’s almost certain they will oppose the motion and the vote will fail. Jeremy Corbyn will claim he won’t agree to a General Election until ‘no deal is off the table’ even though the Benn Act has achieved exactly that.
With an extension and no General Election, let’s hope the Government bring their deal back to Parliament where it can be laid bare under the full examination they are trying to avoid.
Boris Johnson’s deal starts with a transition period clearly defined in the legally binding Withdrawal Treaty.
During this transition not only will the EU have their normal control over our laws, rules, regulations, trade policy and borders, but foreign policy, taxation and even military action, matters which have to be in accordance with EU interests, will be added.
EU Military Integration will continue with us obligated to fund their defence and intelligence plans. British troops will come under EU command in an EU Battle Group (articles 128.2, 129.7, 156, 157).
During the transition the UK will have no voice, no vote and no veto. Echoes will be heard of the Boston Tea Party’s ‘taxation without representation’ as we pay into the EU whatever amount they instruct. Once under their full control we can expect the cost of a divorce to be harsh.
The transition period is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020 but Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit and trade negotiator, has said negotiations for the future free trade agreement will take a minimum of three years. Provisions in the Withdrawal Treaty to increase the transitional period to the end of 2022 will be quickly executed. Don’t expect it to end in 2022 – we haven’t exactly kept to the timetable so far!
Is three-plus years under EU subjugation worth getting Brexit done? The problem is that Boris’s deal doesn’t get Brexit done. According to the Withdrawal Treaty and Political Declaration, this is our future:
The European Court of Justice will rule supreme over UK law for years after the transition period ends.
Article 184 of the Withdrawal Treaty uses a legal term stating we must use our ‘best endeavours’ to follow the terms laid out in the Political Declaration in the future agreement. Legally little or no deviation will be possible.
The Political Declaration’s terms for a Free Trade Agreement are a ‘level playing field’ and ‘customs co-operation’. This translates as following their laws, rules, regulations, state aid and competition policies as well as tariff regime. Under these conditions the ability to agree free trade deals with other countries is unlikely.
Our territorial fishing waters will be conceded through ‘access to waters and quota shares’ (paragraph 73).
The EU will have control over our tax rates through ‘relevant tax matters’ (paragraph 77).
EU Military and Intelligence Integration will be achieved through the European Defence Agency and European Defence Fund (paragraph 102c).
The United Kingdom will be divided with a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea. In committee last week the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had to correct an earlier answer and confirm that Northern Irish businesses will have to complete exit declarations when sending goods to mainland Britain. Boris Johnson made the same mistake at Wednesday’s PMQs when he incorrectly stated to the House ‘there won’t be any checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain’. Citizens living in NI would in effect be staying in the EU, with no voice, for at least four years after the transition period and possibly for ever if Republicans prefer alignment to the EU and Ireland and refuse to share power with the DUP in Stormont. The UK would be giving up part of its sovereign territory and the Union dismantled (articles 5 and 6.2).
In this respect it’s fair to say Boris’s deal is worse than Theresa May’s as Northern Ireland is being sacrificed to reach an agreement with the EU.
If three-plus years of subjugation to EU control and a Free Trade Agreement that sounds like a customs union where we still have to follow EU rules is Brexit, then this is the deal for you.