After the long-awaited triggering of Article 50 on March 29th by PM May, and the presentation of the White Paper on March 30th by David Davis MP, here are some thoughts by our readers and contributors with legal backgrounds. The first letter is by our contributor and reader “A Roving Reporter”:
The Draft Guidelines envisage a two stage initial process, firstly “disentanglement” and secondly “future relationship”. This is a distinction without a difference, and should be fiercely resisted by the UK. It is of course in reality code for “agree to pay us loads of money or we won’t discuss anything”. That bluff should be called; we will not pay the EU anything beyond what the Treaties require; Article 50 does not require any payment either way. The eyeball staring can go on for the whole two years if need be. The UK will of course honour its Treaty obligations to pay the stipulated sums right up to that wire, but as soon as the UK is released from the Treaties, those payments will stop abruptly, and the UK will not pay any further sum to the EU at all.
Coming back to the illusion of the two stage process, everyone knows how the EU/UK thing works while the UK is still a member, as aforesaid; there is nothing to “disentangle”. Once the Treaties cease to apply, the relationship changes, and any agreement reached while the UK remains a member of the EU can only refer to those future changes.
It is very important for all concerned to understand the position: on 29 March 2019 the UK will be released from the Treaties if no agreement has been reached by then. The UK has made it perfectly clear that this eventuality would be preferable to the UK agreeing to a deal that was demonstrably not in the interests of the UK.
The EU has far more to lose than has the UK from such a situation as, for example, the WTO tariffs would be a much bigger problem for the EU nations than for the UK.
Having said all this, however, it is clearly in the interests of all concerned for agreement to be reached, particularly as both sides have now expressly stated that a free trade arrangement is the desired goal.
The relationship between the UK and the EU is governed by the Treaties. Many of the provisions of the Treaties refer to payments, and the UK has always complied absolutely perfectly with all of those. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provides the full procedure for a nation state leaving the EU and makes no reference at all to payment, therefore none is due either way. There is accordingly no legal reason why the UK should pay any “invoice” for leaving, not one penny or cent!
Respectfully, Roving Reporter
Our reader Septimus Octavius asked us to publish the letter and draft proposal he has sent to David Davis, MP, regarding the ‘White Paper that was presented in the HoC on Thursday 30th MArch 2017:
I have sent the following letter and text of a draft act to the Minister for Brexit, Mr David Davis. I believe readers may find it of interest:
“Good Afternoon Mr Davis,
I have read the White Paper with great interest. With respect, you know as well as I do that there are Treaty obligations that give the Regulations force until we are released from the Treaties; we do not need the ECA at all, and we should ditch it at the earliest opportunity.
This being so, I attach a draft Act for your attention.
TEXT FOR EUROPEAN LEGISLATION BILL
(1) The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed.
(2) Any Regulation directly applicable in the law of the United Kingdom by virtue of Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which ceases to be so directly applicable on the release of the United Kingdom from the Treaties pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is hereby replaced in the law of the United Kingdom as from that time.
(3) The Government shall have power by statutory instrument after the United Kingdom is released from the Treaties pursuant to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to make any consequential amendment to any element of European Union law in United Kingdom law deemed administratively necessary by the Government.”
Please disseminate widely.
Respectfully, Septimus Octavius
Finally, our reader and contributor Toby Mickletwhait sent in his thoughts on the possibility of a name and logo change for UKIP:
Around 2007 there was a suggestion of a change of name, colour and/or logo. The Surrey committee unanimously voted against the idea and wrote to the NEC saying that we opposed any such change. The reasons against change are as strong now as they ever were. One can express the argument thus:
How many voters have you met on the doorsteps who say: “I don’t vote UKIP but I would if the name, colour or logo were different”? I have met precisely none.
How many extra votes would we expect to get by a change of name, colour or logo? Answer…. none.
How many votes would we lose if we destroyed our name, colour or logo? Answer…. a lot.
How much would it cost to achieve all this adverse result? Answer …. a lot.
Unfortunately this idea, killed in 2008, has reappeared. The following appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 28.3.2017:
“Ukip’s brand is worth a lot of money. It is one of the most recognised brands. It was worth millions back in 2008 when we looked at the cost of re-branding and it came into the millions. I think it needs modernising – we need a different feel to the party as we move into the post-Brexit age”.
I agree that we need a new feel. The new feel will come from having new key policies. The idea of changing the logo, name or colour is absolutely not a good idea.
I have just been round the doorsteps and our logo is instantly recognised by all. Please do not destroy it!
It cost BP £100 million to rebrand from a shield to a flower. You can do it cheaper. But, if you do it on the cheap, you do NOT get a good result. You could set the party back decades.
We have been out on the doorsteps establishing the branding with millions of our newspapers and leaflets and we don’t want the NEC to destroy our good work.
Regards, Toby Micklethwait