THE Government is like a cat on a hot tin roof in handling Brexit. PM Johnson’s record is quixotic and capricious on the Withdrawal Agreement. Even after a devastating victory in the 2019 General Election, he failed to implement what he proclaimed from his position of total authority in Parliament, that the WA was ‘dead’. He never killed it. He signed it with a minor tweak and proclaimed victory, but in fact he had lost his nerve under pressure from Angela Merkel and put the union of Northern Ireland with mainland Britain in peril. He may even have worsened the WA for the UK by leaving hooks for EU regulators to batten on to and control UK trading.
Now in the last weeks of ‘negotiating’ – more like the repeated waterboarding of the UK by the EU – Johnson was scared when, as the Sun revealed on Tuesday with its headline, ‘Brussels threatened to disrupt food exports from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland as negotiating leverage.’ The paper explained the impact of this on the UK: ‘The incendiary trade talks power play infuriated the UK side and helped trigger their bombshell bid to make legal changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.’ The volcanic rage from the EU was precipitated like red hot lava over our MSM. The EU denied that it had hinted at doing this, but the WA does allow it to do so by ‘direct effect’, and this denial is therefore not convincing. The UK said it will legislate so that this regulative reach into the affairs of an independent state cannot happen. For this relief much thanks – good for the PM and the Cabinet on this.
But the presentational skills and exposition were disastrous. Brandon Lewis, showing all the subtlety of a hippo, told the Commons that the UK was breaking international law by doing this. He may as well have lit the fuse of a bomb: all hell is now let loose, totally unnecessarily. As Martin Howe has argued, the Brexit Bill legislation is not a breach of international law. Who wrote the text that was given to Lewis? Not a Remainer civil servant by any chance? Whitehall has failed the UK utterly. HMG needs to hire some top-class international lawyers fast, Martin Howe being an obvious one. The voters and taxpayers have been betrayed over and over again since the referendum by a skilful amalgam of gross incompetence and subversion.
Now the EU threatens to sue the UK. This may remind us of the advice given by the friendly Donald Trump to PM Theresa May on how to negotiate with the EU: ‘Sue them’. He was ridiculed. But the UK’s deferential, frightened, perplexed approach to getting Article 50 implemented has led to the EU doing what Trump advised. Johnson never cleansed the temple of Tory Remainers and the Remainers emerged like wasps time and again to sabotage real Brexit. Now they are at it again. Labour may enable the government to forge ahead with this very necessary protection against foreign controls in our law-making. We can only hope that this time round Johnson does not bottle it and keeps faith with the referendum vote and election vote, notably in the patriotic Midlands and North. He does need to get far better and more democratic administrative advice than Whitehall is giving. A Treasury legal mandarin resigned at the protective legislation: why did he not resign when he saw the text of the WA, undermining national democracy and sovereignty?
It is interesting to remember that the UK accession to the EC was hatched with breaches of international law. The Common Fisheries Policy was dropped like a bombshell on day one of the accession talks, to quote David Hannay in his write-up of those talks. It was an illegal demand. Norway recognised it and told Heath, who told them to cover it up. This is all documented. The illegal taint remained till that great upholder of international law ‘Sir’ John Major validated it at Maastricht. The EU regularly ignores WTO verdicts and international agreements on green issues. For example the Russo-German gas pipe and new vast coal-fired power stations being built by Germany infringe international conventions. Those ever-so-flexible EU laws and regulations, I imagine, conveniently enforced by the political court, the ECJ.
So yes, the stink of EU mendacity pervades this odious WA/PD. And to think only 30 or so heroic MPs voted against it on the Third Reading. Still, I don’t suppose any in Westminster or Whitehall lose sleep over their sedition, which just rolls on and on. And the Civil Service sees itself as ‘speaking truth to power’, the reverse of the truth.