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TCW’s Brexit Watch: Squeezed on two fronts


EACH week sees the battle for Brexit getting fiercer on both fronts, Brussels and the Whitehall establishment. The past few weeks have seen big EU beasts making speeches that ‘progress is not being made’, that ‘an extension to the December 31 deadline is inevitable in these Covid times’ and that a deal with the EU is essential to avoid worsening our post-Covid economic recovery. The EU red lines have been reasserted ad nauseam on fishery annexation, on obedience to EU trade regulation, aka ‘a level playing field’, and obedience to EU regulations on the environment. Happily for us David Frost, like the Duke of Wellington, has maintained his squares of infantry as Napoleon’s crack soldiers sought to break them. 

The EU in turn is now deploying its legal regulatory heavy artillery, with MEPs voting to exclude the UK from the intelligence-sharing unit in an extraordinarily irresponsible and dangerous move which hits at the capacity of the western world to counter terrorism. What this has to do with a trade deal apart from political chicanery and threats is anyone’s guess. It conforms with their cynical weaponisation of Northern Ireland last year, recklessing risking re-igniting conflict there.

There can surely now be no doubt that the UK needs to pull out of the covert defence ‘deal’ pencilled in by the MoD that hands so much command and control to PESCO. If we cannot be trusted with criminal intelligence and joint anti-terror action, the EU cannot be trusted with our troops, weaponry and nuclear capability. The EU defence capability would be wrecked without the British contribution, but we are apparently giving it away free.

The EU is also confecting a major legal action against the UK for infringements of the free movement of people in the EU dating back some years. Though we are told that Covid-19 is absorbing all the EU bureaucratic resources, they have no trouble finding experts to execute this legal action – justiciable only by the EU’s own court, the ECJ, in which we are trapped till December 31– a hostage situation that astonishingly many of our MPs, most of our civil servants and all big business want to keep us in. 

Added to this barrage comes a third mortar bomb. The EU is insisting that in any trade deal the EU must check on the quality of the products to be sold in the EU. Their trade deals with Canada and Japan know of no such conditions, outrageous breaches of Article 50 and the WA itself. Hopefully this will be found to be illegal in international trade law – if not, there is free rein for larger nations to bully and steal from smaller ones at will. Were I David Frost I would be pointing to the very flaky standards found in the EU’s products. Deiselgate was the fraud in which cars with fixed mechanisms to avoid testing for levels of toxins spewing forth from VW engines were deliberately sent worldwide. 

Economically we hear that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is equivalent to 18 nations withdrawing, and given the trade surplus in cars of some £90billion enjoyed by the EU, that is not surprising. 

Frost’s team can be strengthened by many such factors, and also by the German bombshell last week described by Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph as ‘an Exocet aimed straight to the heart of the European Union and its monetary union’. In effect the Federal Constitutional Court ‘determined that the European Central Bank’s (ECB) bond-buying programme was illegal . . . The effect of the judgment is at one and the same time to challenge the higher authority of the ECJ and the independent right of the ECB to set monetary policy.’ 

The decision has been taken by many serious commentators as a threat to the very continuation of the EU. Warner, no great enthusiast for Brexit, concludes: ‘And therein lies the nub of the problem. What may be good for Germany and its immediate economic satellites is very probably bad for everyone else. In its supposed efforts to defuse populism in Germany, the court only exacerbates it elsewhere in Europe. For all its pretence at solidarity, Europe can seemingly never escape these countervailing, centrifugal forces. If Germans don’t allow less solvent neighbours their monetary tranquillisers, the EU will splinter irreparably. The economic damage the pandemic has already inflicted on Europe will look like a mere warm-up for the shock to come. Idiots indeed.’ 

Frost must ensure that any agreement with the EU contains a conditional clause detailing the default position in the case of the EU splintering. He also needs to keep in the mind the fact of the EU’s deception during these ‘negotiations’. Barnier, who produced a PowerPoint presentation at the start of the talks showing that ‘all the UK could expect’ was a Canada-type deal, now has reneged on that. The EU must annexe fisheries and keep political controls on the UK, which will have no say in those. The UK must consent to be a trade colony. And the EU stance remains that of the body which will ‘grant’ the UK such a deal, as if the UK were not now again a sovereign state.

To quote Anna Bailey of the Spectator: ‘The EU is not only being unreasonable in demanding of the UK what it did not require of Canada or Japan, it is calling for an unequal treaty.’ 

There can be no doubt now that if the EU won’t ‘grant’ a basic ‘bare bones’ deal free of trade colony conditions, we are far better off on WTO terms which are not much different to a ‘bare bones’ deal. Covid or not, the EU wants an extension to keep the UK in its tight grip.

The battle on the second front remains distressing and perplexing for any who accept the Referendum result. Rumours of an extension engineered by Whitehall are reported in the Telegraph: ‘A deal to extend the transition in light of the crisis had been all but agreed at official level. The EU was to have spared the UK’s blushes by proposing it, rather than the other way around. This would have allowed the UK government to present the concession as a favour to the EU, rather than a climbdown. But then Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, returned and the plan, concocted by underlings while he and Boris Johnson were laid out on their sick beds, was scuppered.’

Brexit still hangs by a thread. Yet extending the transition period with the EU is calculated to land Britain with a bill of at least £400billion, the Express reports. 

On this home front of the Brexit war, the important Agriculture Bill, setting out the free UK plans for recalibrating farming and food post-Brexit, regrettably proved an opportunity for remainer Tory MPs to sabotage a clean Brexit. Some 22 of them backed amendments against US food standards, recycling the discredited ‘chlorine chicken’ myth yet again for purely political purposes. Guido’s blog deconstructs the environmental claims of the rebels. 

Worryingly, Victoria Prentis, Farming Minister, told the Commons: ‘I’d like to reassure colleagues that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements. At the end of the transition period, the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU standards into domestic law.’ This is surely a pathway for remainers to obey the EU demands for dynamic regulation and Brino rather than Brexit, destroying proper negotiations with the USA.

Jayne Adye writes compellingly on why we need full independence in our agricultural policy here. She details the dreadful position of the UK as regards agriculture in the WA we live under till December 31 in all its injustice. 

Finally, Sir Huawei is desperate to scrap the UK’s alternative to the EU Galileo satellite project on the grounds that is too costly at £5billion, a pittance in Whitehall terms by comparison with the money to be squandered on the HS2 white elephant! Without the UK alternative which would earn millions each year, the UK remains tied in to the EU. Again.

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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