This is a plan for seizing the moral high ground when the talks start next week:
ARTICLE 50 NEGOTIATIONS – UK INITIATIVE
This is a variation on the “Straight” plan whereby the UK refuses to pay anything for the privilege of leaving the EU. Instead, the UK offers to make a lump sum payment of 20 billion euros ON CONDITION that the EU formally agrees to all of the following terms as an official concluded Article 50 Agreement, with the proviso that the payment is only made when the European Parliament and the UK Parliament have both confirmed the deal and so finally ratified it, such ratification to have been made in each case within 7 days of the date of the Article 50 Agreement. This offer would remain open only for 28 days; if not accepted, then there would be a return to the “Straight” plan. The true cost to the UK would not be the full 20 billion euros because it would stop paying its contributions sooner.
- The EU guarantees the right of all UK nationals lawfully resident in the EU to remain in the EU in perpetuity and the UK guarantees the right of all EU nationals lawfully resident in the UK to remain in the UK in perpetuity. This provision must be agreed before any further negotiations take place. Once this provision has been agreed the following are the terms and conditions which the UK proposes as the withdrawal agreement pursuant to the provisions of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
- All trading terms, conditions and agreements relating exclusively to the sale and purchase of goods and services between the UK and the EU shall remain wholly unchanged from those applying at present.
- All arrangements, protocols and agreements relating to co-operation between the UK and the EU concerning intelligence, policing, the prevention of terrorism, and all other such matters, shall remain wholly unchanged from those applying at present.
- Until the UK is released from the Treaties pursuant to Article 50 the payments at present made by the UK to the EU and those made in any way shape or form by the EU to the UK or to any person, company, institution, partnership, charity, or any other entity in the UK, shall continue wholly unchanged. In the event of any deduction or reduction of any sort with regard to the said payments by the EU, the UK will deduct the amount of such deduction or reduction from the said payments it makes to the EU.
- When the UK is released from the Treaties pursuant to Article 50 it shall immediately cease all payments to the EU and shall not pay anything at all to the EU thereafter. There can be no payment for “continued access” or anything like that.
- The UK shall not make any payment of any sort, or in any way, at any time, to the EU beyond those hereinbefore specified, and the EU will not make any payment of any sort to the UK or to any entity within the UK as aforesaid beyond those hereinbefore specified. For the avoidance of doubt, this is a critically important legal point; Article 50 does not provide for any payment either way. This is not a divorce and there is no divorce bill. A figure of 60 billion euros has been bandied about; the correct figure is precisely nil.
All the talk of hard and soft Brexit is nonsense; the end result of the Article 50 process is that the UK is released from the Treaties, a bit like being released from prison – end of story. It is precisely because of this fact that no payment for the release can be demanded by the EU. Article 50 is binary: agreement or no agreement. If there is agreement, that is when the UK is released from the Treaties; if no agreement has been reached by the time the clock strikes midnight on 28 March 2019 in Brussels, then at that moment the release happens automatically. There is nothing anyone can do to stop this process.
At this point, of course, it is necessary to remind ourselves of the potentially devastating effect of the European Communities Act 1972. If, God forbid, it was still in force at the moment of the release, it would promptly replace all the Treaties straight back into UK law! The statute now serves no useful purpose at all and must be repealed as soon as possible.
Oh ye draftsmen of the Queen’s Speech, take note!