Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Reader’s comment: This pernicious Protocol


In response to Andrew Cadman: Westminster votes for suicide, Robert wrote:

Hot off the HMG Press: from the Attorney General. Below is a key extract from the legal advice given to Theresa May. It follows the advice, earlier in the document, that the ‘Protocol’ operating for some ill-defined and likely indefinite ‘transition period’ – the end of which is decided unilaterally by just the EU – will partition Northern Ireland from the UK into a separate trade bloc within the EU customs union/single market.

‘Despite statements in the Protocol that it is not intended to be permanent, and the clear intention of the parties that it should be replaced by alternative, permanent arrangements, in international law the Protocol would endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement took its place, in whole or in part, as set out therein. Further, the Withdrawal Agreement cannot provide a legal means of compelling the EU to conclude such an agreement . . .

‘There are numerous references in the Protocol to its temporary nature but there is no indication of how long such temporary arrangements could last. There may be, therefore, some doubt as to whether the proposed Protocol is consistent with EU law, and that uncertainly will increase the longer it subsists . . .

‘In addition, precisely because the Protocol is expressed to last only until a superseding agreement, it introduces uncertainty as to the extent of the EU customs territory for trade negotiation purposes with Third Countries. It is likely to be important for the EU that it can be presented as a temporary arrangement with a clear and early end.’ (Extract from the Attorney General’s Advice.)

No wonder the DUP are angry. It is rather wishful thinking to assume that this ‘Protocol’ – which is not in our interests – is not in the EU’s interests, too. It is only there because it is in their interests to keep us locked in to their customs union and single market protectionist trade bloc for as long as possible.

If, having read this advice, Theresa May still thinks the draft ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ is in the best interests of the UK she clearly cannot make good decisions regarding the best interests of the UK – which includes keeping Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and the critical faculties to understand that this advice highlights how damaging the draft ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ is to the UK would scrap the agreement, leave under WTO rules and, rather than pander to a lot of ‘project fear’ crystal ball-gazing scare stories, keep hold of the £39bn earmarked for EU coffers – £39bn is a sizeable chunk of our annual GDP and would be better spent here than on the EU’s bureaucratic empire-building nonsense.

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