Michael St George’s selections for comment from recent Brexit-related media articles.
NB: (£) denotes article behind paywall
It’s time to agree to withdraw from the Withdrawal Agreement – Centre for Brexit Policy
The relief and praise in equal measure which greeted Boris Johnson’s ‘renegotiation’ of the seemingly renegotiation-immune EU Withdrawal Agreement were justified – but only partly. Despite the modification he achieved, its numerous flaws which his predecessor Theresa May signed up to out of either dullard ignorance or Remainer perversity persist.
Notwithstanding the current negotiations being conducted on our future trading relationship with the EU, provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to, inter alia, the continued applicability of EU law, customs/border procedures, and Defence/Intelligence/Security issues, will, unless changed, effectively ensure the EU will continue pulling strings in Britain for years to come.
The Centre for Brexit Policy’s comprehensive report on how various areas will continue to be adversely affected by Brussels’ malign influence support its conclusion that the Withdrawal Agreement as currently structured cannot be allowed to stand, and must be replaced.
Interestingly, this proposal is being supported by one or two of the former Brexit Party MEPs who defected back to the ‘Conservative’ Party before the last election because they disagreed with the former’s position that the Withdrawal Agreement was fundamentally deficient and needed wholesale renegotiation, not modification. Depressingly, though, it’s difficult if not impossible to imagine Johnson’s inept and struggling government conjuring up the political courage even to address this, let alone do anything about it.
Michel Barnier tells Mark Francois that Brexit is pointless – Telegraph (£)
‘Resistance is futile’ seems to be the subtext of Barnier’s message. Now, to be fair, Brexiteer Francois is a bit of a buffoon – although one who attracts far more odium from his detractors than does the equally buffoon-ish Euro-fanatic Guy Verhofstadt – but I suspect he’s achieved the essentially mischief-making purpose of his original missive to Barnier by provoking precisely the kind of haughty, ponderous, humourless response that so typifies the Eurocrat grandee.
Barnier has once again unwittingly revealed firstly, his total inability to understand how any country could possibly not want to remain part of the institutionally anti-democratic pan-European supranational project for which he evinces a near-sacerdotal reverence, and secondly, the EU’s continuing negotiating intransigence that sees him still insisting, even at this stage, that the UK must abide by the cherished ‘level playing field’ on EU (over)-regulation. It’s a bit rich of him to be accusing the UK of a ‘lack of respect’.
He shows why continuing negotiation is in effect a dialogue of the deaf, and why we would be better off cutting our losses, announcing that no further purpose is served by persisting in the charade, and devoting all our resources to preparing for the end of Transition without an agreement in place.
UK faces extra €2billion EU pensions bill – Euractiv
To which demand the first response should surely be the question: why?
When the UK agreed to pay roughly €39billion in a combination of severance and contribution to future liabilities under the original Withdrawal Agreement, included in that amount was approximately €9.75billion for future EU staff pension liabilities. However, the EU’s estimate of those specific liabilities has suddenly jumped by about 22 per cent in one year, as a result of which we are being asked to stump up an extra €2billion. If that can happen to one element of our severance settlement, it raises the question of whether it could also happen to others, and whether a one-off payment somehow has the potential to morph into a never-ending commitment.
Given that the Withdrawal Agreement, for all its faults, was signed, why are we liable at all when we have already legally left? And why was the amount not capped in the negotiations at the original €9.75billion to prevent us from being gouged for further increases? We should have no hesitation in either refusing or securing a valuable concession elsewhere as the price of agreeing.
Brexiteers be alert – Whitehall is still trying to scupper a real Brexit – Briefings for Britain
Accustomed as we should be by now to the machinations of the irredeemably Europhile Westminster and Whitehall Remainer Blob which, four years on from the 2016 EU Referendum, continues to try to thwart or at least dilute its outcome, the Blob’s capacity to open a new front in its ongoing war against democracy should never be underestimated.
‘If you can’t stop it, review it’ comes straight out Sir Humphrey’s (or perhaps Sir Mark’s before his welcome departure) playbook. With the Department of Trade and Industry fully engaged in negotiating non-EU trade deals, the timing of the announcement of a review into the DTI’s modelling of trade deals looks anything but coincidence. The suspicion of bureaucratic sleight-of-hand is heightened by the appointment as chairman of the review of an economist described as ‘close to very vocal Remainers’.
The membership of the new agricultural commission to advise on food standards and trade policy looks similarly compromised, being stuffed full of the same people who, pre-Referendum, were prominent in scaremongering about produce standards and food imports in the event of leaving the EU.
Additionally, talk has emerged of the DTI joining the Department for International Development (aka Overseas Aid) in being merged into the Foreign Office, long regarded, and with reason, as the epicentre of Whitehall’s Remainer Resistance, and with a dismal record of achievement when it was responsible for trade prior to the formation of the DTI. How Sir Humphrey would approve!
Johnson, or at least Cummings, should be all over this like a rash, killing it stone dead. That the former isn’t, given the profound disappointment he is turning out to be as PM, isn’t surprising. That the latter isn’t is worrying. Is another Chequers-type BRINO in the making?