A Conservative government is proposing to hand the UK over to a semi-hostile foreign power which will regulate its trade according to that body’s past and future decisions, without having to take into account the desires and intentions of the UK. In fact such future decisions may very well be antipathetic to UK interests as a competitor in the marketplace. The UK will be voluntarily asking to come under the economic suzerainty of the EU as rule-taker with no say. This is the truth and yet the majority of Conservative MPs cover their ears and prefer to back the May plan, however bad. Labour MPs couldn’t care less but May is wooing them behind the scenes.
On the face of it this is treason or sedition, the undermining of national self-determination, of democratic accountability, of freedom to trade as the nation wishes. A massive national referendum, despite deep opposition by the government and civil service, voted for the very reverse: to take back control, specifically to leave the single market and customs union. The May plan precisely prevents this happening. It also donates more than £40bn to the EU, and locks in a trade surplus of £90bn.
What historical precedents are there for nations to come under regulation of other nations or empires? They are all instances of defeat in war. The 1919 Versailles settlement imposed massive reparations on defeated Germany and imposed economic control of the Rhineland, parallel with the £40bn and EU hegemony over the region of Northern Ireland. The Vichy regime was imposed on defeated France, a puppet regime with Petain as its head, formally French but under the hand of their German conquerors. Likewise the Quisling regime in Norway. European powers in the 19th century imposed unequal treaties on China which was forced to concede many territorial and sovereign rights, compelling China to trade under western conditions. Charles Moore in the Telegraph described the EU demand to control Northern Irish trade regulation ‘backstop’ as a ‘backstab’, accepted by May with no qualms. So much for Barnier’s opening lectures to the UK on ‘building trust’: his barely veiled threats to stoke up the terrorist campaigning of the IRA unless the UK kowtows to the EU are in effect a Mafia type of extortion, an act of economic war as China suffered at the hands of the West.
Why did May agree to this demand rather than protest against it as an outrage? Did the Remain-voting PM set out to subvert Brexit from the outset? That is a possible thesis for historians to ponder. Her words affirmed her duty to ‘deliver Brexit’, but her actions reneged on her initial Lancaster House red lines, and simply gave concession after concession to the EU, calling these ‘compromises’, but with no gain from the other side at all. Her constructive dismissal of David Davis in favour of unelected civil servant Olly Robbins led to a completely different goal of UK negotiations, to gain ‘a deep and lasting trade relationship with the EU’, which took over from Brexit as the primary aim. Another thesis therefore is that May was ‘turned’ by Robbins and was too weak-minded to resist, that the May plan is in fact a Whitehall coup. The Chequers heist, rejected by the EU before it was forced down the throats of the cabinet, is all about keeping the UK inside the customs union. This alone, according to the May/Robbins ideology, can prevent a ‘hard border’ with Eire, despite the increasingly respectable view that IT can easily cope with trade checking and already does so. A question that might be raised is whether the EU checking on good exports is fit for purpose at all, when VW’s massive defrauding of millions of customers by their deliberate tampering with the emissions software sailed through the single market, customs union, and uncritically acclaimed EU system. Nor indeed has the EU, let alone the UK, squeezed billions in fines from the German manufacturer, a minor blip, Herr Juncker; of course the UK needs your infallible customs union.
Mrs May’s chicken-dance speech, a New Labour manifesto as Janet Daley rightly points out, was astonishingly considered to be good and gave her more kudos in the banality driven Conservative Party. Trust me, she says, at the same time as plotting, as Boris argued, to put the UK into a vassal status, fully inside the customs union, even worse than Chequers. That would give us that ‘deep trading relationship’ with the EU, and appease the Irish threat of renewed terror, a triumph for May in keeping her job, and a historic national humiliation. This Vichy fate is precisely going to happen unless MPs even at this last minute do their duty as trustees of our national freedoms and democratic sovereignty, duty to the very Parliament they ‘serve’. So far, apart from a notable minority, they are happy to crown May as their new Petain. Their names will be inscribed in the darkest hall of shame.
One useful stab against this Remainer triumph would be to sabotage the dead hand of Hammond in his upcoming Budget and compel him to spend large sums preparing for a no deal, that is on the technology needed at ports and airports to facilitate trade on WTO terms. So far he has blocked this. Preparations for no deal are not happening at all; instead May is spending money on cranking up Project Fear yet again, using her own dereliction of duty as a lever against the possibility of no deal. Two things are certain from this Vichy future: the UK will instantly lose credibility on the world stage, and probably its place on the UN Security Council as a puppet state; and secondly such a disaster will trigger endless national acrimony and ongoing sense of betrayal of fundamentals we thought were sacred. The Conservative Party will be toxified for a century as the initiators of this Vichy regime, revealed as willing to sell their grandmothers, truly ‘pragmatic compromisers’. The EU, as is made increasingly clear, cares nothing about the fate of its client states. Greece and Italy are highly inconvenient truths of its coldly cynical nature.