“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.- The last sentence of Orwell’s Animal Farm
This is precisely where Brexit is heading. The leave-voting public look from leaver politician to remain politician and increasingly find it difficult to distinguish between most of them. This trait is exemplified by media reports which suggest some grubby deal is being cooked up whereby May agrees to resign as PM and the wavering leave politicians agree to vote for her agreement with the EU.
This trade off fails to address the questions of what May’s agreement contains, the likely behaviour of remainer politician and public servants if May’s agreement is accepted by Parliament and the EU’s attitude to the UK if May’s agreement is turned into a legally enforceable document.
May’s agreement leaves the UK in the hands of the EU
The Spectator magazine recently listed what they called the top 40 horrors of the agreement. Apart from the Irish Backstop, these include the following:
- May says her deal means the UK leaves the EU next March. The Withdrawal Agreement makes a mockery of this. “All references to Member States and competent authorities of Member States…shall be read as including the United Kingdom.” (Art 6)
- The European Court of Justice is decreed to be our highest court (Art. 86) both citizens and resident companies can use it.
- The UK will remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ until eight years after the end of the transition period. (Article 158)
- The UK will still be bound by any future changes to EU law in which it will have no say, not to mention having to comply with current law. (Article 6(2))
- Any disputes under the Agreement will be decided by EU law only – perhaps the most dangerous provision of all. (Article 168) Arbitration will be governed by the existing procedural rules of the EU law – this is not arbitration as we would commonly understand it (i.e. between two independent parties). (Article 174)
These clauses of the agreement alone should make the agreement unacceptable to British politicians for they are the type of subordination required of a defeated enemy who has sued for peace.
The likely behaviour of remain politicians
The circumstances of a remainer PM, a remainer-dominated Cabinet and a remainer-dominated Parliament alone make it wildly improbable that the British Government (of whatever complexion) after Theresa May’s agreement was converted into a treaty will be any more robust in its dealing with the EU than May has been. This is not merely a matter of weakness or inexperience by those calling the political shots in the UK. Rather, it is the consequence of a remainer political elite which is determined to sabotage Brexit.
Nor can we look to an early election to change matters. The House of Commons is probably 75% remainer. Hence, even if a General Election is held it is likely that a remainer-dominated Commons would be returned simply because it would require an almighty and most unlikely throwing out of remainer MPs.
The attitude of the EU
The EU has given ample evidence since the Referendum that they have no intention of treating the UK reasonably. Thieir behaviour has run the gamut of personal abuse to a rigid refusal to make any meaningful compromise with the UK or simply to accept the reality that the UK has voted to leave. The idea that they will behave more reasonably if the agreement made with May is enshrined into a legally enforceable treaty is best described as ludicrous.
A taste of what the UK is likely to be confronted with if Parliament passes May’s agreement is demonstrated by the struggle which Switzerland is having with the EU. They are meeting the same bone-headedly arrogant and unyielding EU attitude that the EU has presented to the UK since the Referendum, viz:
“All the terminology in this tiff will be uncomfortably familiar to the U.K. “Nothing is decided until everything is decided,” Commission officials say, and the Swiss can’t “cherry-pick” the benefits of the EU. “
WTO terms is the only way to Brexit
All of these considerations make leaving to trade on the WTO deal absolutely necessary. Irreconcilable remainers have shown ever since the Referendum that they were not willing to accept the result and are demonstrating their resolution in that intention to prevent it happening as I write – a Sunday Express article of 23 March claims that the Government is already plotting to bind us fully back into the EU. This is entirely plausible based on remainer behaviour since the Referendum.
Leaving under WTO terms serves two purposes: it is the most efficient and rapid way of leaving and is the most difficult for situation for remainers to subvert because it immediately provides a general trading framework.
The Irish Question
The Irish Backstop has not been made unnecessary or modified in any way.
If the UK leaves to trade on WTO terms there will be no legal constraint , other than the WTO rules, on how the UK engages with the EU generally or the Republic of Ireland (RoI) specifically. The UK government could offer the RoI a deal, namely, to come out of the EU and retain the common travel area and frictionless trade between and with the UK or remain in the EU and lose those advantages.
Given the RoI’s fervently EU stance this might seem impossible at first glance but less so when the present circumstances are seriously considered. The RoI only joined the EU (or EEC as it then was) because the UK joined. They did so for exactly the same reason s that it would make sense for the RoI to leave now, the large amount of UK-RoI trade and the ability to travel freely between the UK and Ireland.
To the trade argument can be added the fact that RoI in 2016 moved from being a net recipient of EU money to being a net contributor to the EU. Their contribution in 2018 was more than £2 billion. With the UK leaving and removing a great wad of money from EU coffers net contributors to future EU budgets will have to pay even more to make up for the loss of the UK’s contribution.
Of course leaving would raise the difficult problem of the RoI being in the Euro, but the UK could help the RoI to resurrect the Punt by lending financial assistance and perhaps even underwriting the Punt for a period.
If the RoI did leave the EU the Backstop problem would evaporate.
What happens if the RoI remains in the EU? That would leave the EU not the UK with the problem of erecting a border between Northern Ireland and the RoI. The UK will not place a physical border between the two so the only authority who could do so would be the EU. Would they dare? I doubt it.
We desperately need a modern law of treason
The UKL does not have a functioning Treason Law. It is sorely to be missed because without it what would have been called treason in most times in our history passes without any action being taken.
A recent first rate example was Tony Blair advising major players within the EU how they should in effect thwart Brexit – see here and here . That amounts to treating with a foreign power without the authorisation of the Government.
A new treason law should make any attempt to assist a foreign power to the detriment of the UK treason. That would cover much of the behaviour of irreconcilable remainers including politicians.
Such a law should not interfere with the normal democratic process. For example it would allow renainers to work for the UK to rejoin the EU after the UK has left by making it the policy of a party and standing for election on that platform. (That incidentally was the only democratically acceptable way for remainers to attempt to reverse Brexit, namely, let it take place and then try to reverse it in the way I have described).
The only reason Brexit is in such a mess is because remainer politicians from Theresa May downwards have made it so.
The constitutional position is simple: by passing the Referendum Act Parliament contracted out the question of whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave. Once the country voted to leave Parliament (Lords and Commons) were obligated to put that decision into effect.
The referendum question was beautifully clear, senior politicians said publicly that the result of the vote would be honoured by implementing it and after the vote the major parties promised in the 2017 election manifestos carried the same promise. Parliament also agreed to the activation of the Article 50 procedure putting the UK on the leaving path. In short, there is absolutely no excuse for the grossly anti-democratic misbehaviour of remainer politicians. They are not people acting in good faith to do what is best for the country. Rather they are simply trying to enforce their will.
If Parliament passes May’s surrender document of a deal it will not only create great uncertainty, but will also leave the UK securely attached to the EU, an attachment which will be progressively tightened by a remainer dominated government and remainer dominated Parliament until within a few years the UK will be a de facto member of the EU. Like the animals in Animal Farm, the UK shall be indistinguishable from a full-blown member of the EU.