In Part 1 I explained Article 50 and why the UK should simply leave without attempting a new relationship. In Part 2 I outlined what I think the UK should and should not negotiate under Article 50. That leaves the question of any future formal relationship and what the UK should be doing independently of the EU.
Framework discussions with EU and Member States
The aim of the Framework discussions is to establish or re-establish relationships between Britain as an independent sovereign nation and the EU or its member states. They are not about arrangements for withdrawal although they are related. In my view it would be unwise for the UK to rush into a formalised, all embracing future relationship until it has re-oriented itself to being an independent global power.
Agreements for or arising from these discussions may be formalised in one or more MoUs (MoU = Memorandum of Understanding) or treaties as necessary. An EU Association Agreement is to be avoided. These tend to be wide ranging and have hitherto been used to extend EU influence and power over less advanced nations with a long term intention to integrate them into the EU. Therefore they run counter to the UK’s aims in respect of the EU. The issues below should be placed within the Framework Discussions.
- Immigration, emigration and travel visas
- Security co-operation: co-operation of police, security and intelligence services with either the EU (eg., via the Schengen aquis and its database) or with individual member states. The UK should withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant and make co-operative arrangements that are fully compatible with English law, eg., Habeas Corpus.
- Access to UK waters by the EU member states.
- Trade, including services – it should be remembered that governments do not make trade, individual businesses do. If the EU imposes tariffs, the UK should immediately reciprocate.
- UK participation in EU research programs, principally with the European Research Council and Horizon 2020 and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA).
- Defence: since the EU will probably deepen its cooperation on defence it would be sensible for the UK to be granted observer status in the EU’s External Action Service or to contribute to discussions without being bound in any way to its policies. It will be a sovereign UK decision whether to participate in any EU operations or in any single or multi-national coalition operation, whether inside or outside NATO.
Some of these matters are not wholly within the EU’s competence, for example although there are EU wide rules on non-EU immigration, much is decided by member states individually and UK’s discussions on these matters should be held directly with the member states.
Whilst these issues clearly require discussion and negotiation, the decision on the outcomes rests with the UK.
Independent Actions by the UK
The UK Government needs to have clear priorities in terms of urgency on the one hand and importance on the other. The latter may well take much longer to resolve than the former. The good news is that the UK Government has already guaranteed continued funding of agriculture after CAP payments cease and it has underwritten funding of UK research projects funded by the EU. That was easy to do and therefore done quickly because the UK pays to the EU on average £2 for every £1 it receives from the EU. These are my suggestions for further action:
- Review current and forthcoming EU directives and regulations not yet implemented in UK law. Some may be included in the agenda of the withdrawal negotiation in order to secure an exemption for the UK; some directives may simply be delayed until they lapse after the UK withdraws, some of the worst regulations may be marked for exemption from a blanket writing into UK law of all other EU regulations extant at the time the Withdrawal Agreement comes into effect.
- Develop UK policy for management of UK waters, i.e. UNCLOS.
- Develop domestic policies including those for immigration, agriculture, fisheries, energy, research, transport, industry, the environment, human rights, asylum and justice.
- Strengthen border protection and develop an equitable immigration system.
- Identify and evaluate opportunities for furthering British influence and trade with other countries and with organisations including EFTA, the World Trade Organisation, the World Customs Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other international bodies.
- Develop economic policies to enhance and facilitate the development of the UK as an independent free trading nation.
Finally, an example of the nonsense we hear from too many who should know better. According to the Telegraph of 12 September, the UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Mr Davis, told peers:
“This is likely to be the most complicated negotiation in modern times, maybe the most complicated negotiation of all time. By comparison, Schleswig-Holstein is an O-Level question.”
To which I would reply, ‘Only if you make it so, Mr Davis.’
In summary, I believe that if the UK keeps strictly to Article 50 a fast exit can be achieved in months and certainty given to industry and individuals. Time is needed for both the UK and EU to adjust, calm down and gain perspective. Only then should a future formal relationship be attempted, if at all.
It may well transpire that ad hoc co-operation is preferable to a formalised relationship.