Backstop or no backstop, Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement remains a bad deal

Backstop or no backstop, Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement remains a bad deal

Backstop or not, our MPs must unequivocally maintain their opposition to Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. It is worrying that some MPs are starting to think that a concession from the EU on the Irish border issue may make them vote the Agreement through.

The Irish backstop has had the effect of a dense fog descending on Westminster. It has obscured the obvious truth that should be there for all to see: that the Withdrawal Agreement is a bad deal and a betrayal of the Brexit that the people of this country voted for.

Many of our MPs’ memories – nor to mention their judgements – may have become clouded by this fog as they face another momentous week.

Even with a time-limited backstop, a backstop with a guaranteed escape clause or even one with pink and purple spots, the Withdrawal Agreement still leaves us under EU control and out in name only.

Its hundreds of  pages include provision for a transition period from our ‘departure’ on 29th March until 31st December 2020, which could in fact be extended to the end of 2022 – meaning we could be locked in as a vassal state for nearly four years! Some say best to accept this as it still means we leave and that we will be able to regain control in the years (probably decades, if ever) to come. This is not Brexit.

We will have to abide by all EU rules but will have lost membership of all of its institutions along with any say about damaging new rules and directives which we will have to follow to the letter under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Rules which have done our country’s economy and SMEs so much harm in the past. How is this ‘taking back control’?

Oh, and we will need to hand over £39 billion, at least, for the privilege; with no cast iron guarantee about our future trading relationship.

Anything other than a clean Brexit will leave us unable to decide upon regulations and there will be no chance of us seeing British Standards revitalised and brought back, which our exporters will need to develop their trade on the international stage.

Succumbing to Theresa’s May Withdrawal Agreement, even without the awful backstop, will mean stumbling around for at least another couple of years as we try to pin down the EU on trade and our future relationship having already gifted away all of our bargaining power.

That means more uncertainty, more cost, more time wasted, more disastrous directives from Brussels and more division.

We’ve already suffered more than two years of dithering at the highest level, culminating in the ill-conceived Chequers Plan and the historic vote against Mrs May’s disastrous first Withdrawal Agreement.

Absolutely no-one wants to see a permanent hard border in Ireland or a return to the Troubles of the past; on that we all agree and ways can be found to avoid this.

The whole issue has been disgracefully weaponised by those behind Project Fear as leverage to sabotage Brexit in the most disingenuous way.

It is time for our MPs to quit scrambling around in the fog and start to see sense: it’s time to leave, and leave properly.

They ought to unite behind a default departure on WTO terms on 29th March as an independent nation with its destiny under its own control.

Planes won’t fall out of the sky, medicines will still be prescribed and goods will still cross the Channel.

Only with a clean Brexit can we seize the great prize that is there to be won and start striking our own free trade deals around the world – and talk to the EU about our future trading relationship from a position of strength, rather than prolonging the agony for many more years.

No Deal means a WTO deal on trade and hundreds of other deals to ensure cooperation in the interests of all. It will also be the basis for a good trade deal too.