For two years Lode Desmet, a Belgian documentary filmmaker, filmed the members of the Brexit Steering Committee of the Parliament of the European Union, whose Chairman was Guy Verhofstadt, another Belgian. Lode’s documentary tells the story of their negotiation of the EU’s Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. That WA & PD was agreed by the European Council on the 25th November 2018. Prime Minister Mrs May said it was a full Brexit, but it was defeated for the third time in the House of Commons on Friday 29th March 2019. That Friday should have been Brexit Day. It was also the day that Lode’s film ends.
Lode’s film is called “Brexit: Behind Closed Doors” and was shown on BBC4 TV on 8th & 9th May 2019. One of Guy Verhofstadt’s team can be heard exulting “we finally turned them into a colony, and that was our plan from the first moment”. That gloating remark was about what the WA & PD of November 2018 would do to Britain. And it still can turn Britain into a colony of the EU now.
Of course our new prime minister Boris Johnson has negotiated his New WA & PD last October, but it is the same in all fundamentals as Mrs May’s WA & PD, except that the Protocol on Northern Ireland (the Backstop) has been altered. The new Protocol moves the border between the EU & UK from a land border between Northern Ireland & the Irish Republic, to a sea border between Ireland and Britain, the Irish Sea. That effectively surrenders Northern Ireland to Dublin and Brussels, a change that lost Boris Johnson’s government the support of Irish Protestant MPs in the Westminster Parliament. Boris Johnson has merely fallen more deeply into the trap laid in Article 50.
Under the New WA & PD Britain will enter the Transition Period of withdrawal from membership of the European Union on 31st January 2020. Britain will lose any vote or veto in the various EU Councils of Ministers, also in the European Council and in the Parliament of the EU. Indeed Britain loses all participation in all EU bodies in the transition period (Article 7 of the New Withdrawal Agreement). The European Council, the council of the leaders of the countries inside the EU, will be free to pass any past proposed EU laws that Britain vetoed or helped vote down before (Articles 4, 87, 89 & 127).
The withdrawal process in the transition period will be governed by a Joint Committee which will overrule the elected British government and Parliament (Articles 164 to 166) and will itself be governed by the Court of Justice of the EU (Article 174). Anybody can read it online, clause 2 of Article 166 says that the decisions of the Joint Committee will be “binding” on the Union (the EU) & the UK. Could words be clearer? This Joint EU-UK Committee will operate “confidentially” in private (clause 1 of rule 10 of Annex VIII). Britain will become a captive colony of the EU for as long as the CJEU wishes the transition period to last.
All it will take for that to happen is for the EU side of the Joint Committee to propose any extension of the transition period. If the UK side of the JC disputes that proposal, then the Court of Justice of the EU will decide the outcome of that dispute (Article 174). And the Treaty of Rome has committed the CJEU, like all other agencies in the federal European project, to work towards “the ever closer union” of Europe.
Article 168 stops the UK side from appealing to international arbitration outside the EU. That the Withdrawal Agreement is considered to be part of EU law but not of international law, is shown when it gives supremacy to EU law (Article 127). And by refusing any appeal to international law the New WA & PD relegates the UK to colonial status within the EU.
Treaties between sovereign states are part of international law, but the Withdrawal Agreement/Treaty accepts that it is an agreement within EU law between a sovereign state (the EU) and one of its subordinate territorial regions (the UK). A sign of this is that all EU officials are granted legal immunity from British criminal laws, taxation and regulations (Articles 101, 104 & 106 – 116).
The idea that Article 50 negotiations were a path to Britain’s escape from EU rule was nonsense from the start. All negotiations with the EU are a total waste of time, if you really want to leave (they’re not if you don’t). The EU will never agree to Britain leaving as an independent and self-governing state. Britain can only do that without the EU’s agreement.
Why bother to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the EU anyway, when the rest of the world, happily outside the EU, trades with it under the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)? We see goods from outside the EU in our shops all the time. The GATT rounds of trade negotiations have been going on since the late 1940’s, far longer than our Brexit trade negotiations have been, so far.
The Tories won the last general election with their slogan “Get Brexit Done”. But as people realise that the New Withdrawal Agreement is a BRINO (Brexit in name only), public anger at its betrayal of the 2016 referendum result will grow. The popularity of the Tory party and Tory government will plummet. (The popularity of a party in favour of a No Deal Brexit, the only Brexit possible, will grow).
How can Boris Johnson and the Tories avoid the wrath of the voters, which is sure to come?