Theresa May now needs to tell the truth about Chequers

Theresa May now needs to tell the truth about Chequers

As we begin the Conservative Party Conference, I want to set out both to Conservative Party members and the public my profound objections to the Chequers proposals. This is based on engagement and discussion I’ve had over the last few months with the Prime Minister, Olly Robbins, her adviser in Number 10, Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State, and in the evidence sessions I’ve chaired of the European Scrutiny Committee.

If the Prime Minister insists on bringing Chequers to the Party Conference for approval she must be open, candid and straightforward about what it means for our democracy and self-government. Churchill once said the British people could sometimes be offended by the truth, but that by telling them exactly what is going on you insure yourself against their complaints in the long term.

It is worth noting that the Prime Minister, in her recent statements and interviews, seems to have conspicuously avoided saying Chequers would bring back “control over our laws” because she must know that Chequers does not deliver this. I’m urging her now to stand up at the Conference and tell the party the truth about the Common Rulebook; the truth about our merely consultative role in the Joint Committee and the ineffectiveness of the Parliamentary Lock which is not even mentioned in the Chequers White Paper; and the truth about the loss of UK sovereignty and all this entails.

Chequers does not respect the referendum result as it would require the UK to comply with laws and regulations it has not made itself and it undermines the fundamentally necessary repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 which shackles us to the laws of the EU. Through the Common Rulebook and majority voting of the EU27, it would worsen the already disastrous UK trade deficit in goods and thereby enhance the advantages they have over us and in particular the German national trade surplus, by locking us into EU standards and regulations. Germany calls the shots.

If the EU accepted Chequers, we would be indefinitely subjecting ourselves to the interpretation of the European Court of Justice, a lego-political court created to promote EU political union. We would be subject indefinitely to the legal rulings of the Council of Ministers where majority or consensus voting, behind closed doors, would impose laws on us in vast areas with no recordings or transcript. We would also be subject to the unelected European Commission which meets in secret and is the only EU institution that can propose legislation.

Chequers would also undermine the democratic decision of the British people’s vote in the referendum. The Prime Minister herself understands these arguments all too well. In a paper she published in 2007, she argued for real and not fictional sovereignty over EU rules in our Parliament and in relation to parliamentary oversight of European legislation. In practice the camouflage of Chequers will last indefinitely and the uncertainty of the Common Rulebook will greatly disadvantage British business. The agreement will not deliver effective sovereignty, nor effectively repeal the 1972 Act and this must be made crystal clear to Party members at Conference.

My friends in the European Research Group and I have accepted the implementation period up to 30th December 2020 but cannot accept the indefinite application of the Common Rulebook with all of its undemocratic implications.

Furthermore, it undermines the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 under the Withdrawal Act itself which was passed on 26th June. Indeed, as I said in a recent debate, this indefinite rulebook goes beyond the implementation period and the EU will punish us if we do not submit to their shackles: if we don’t incorporate EU laws, the treaty enables the EU to punish us by withdrawing market access, as Norway discovered in 2013.

The British people know only too well which country benefits the most if the UK remains trapped inside the EU orbit. As a distinguished former diplomat wrote recently:

“Germany’s leadership of the EU is geared principally to the defence of German national interest. Germany exercises power in order to protect the German economy and to enable it to play an influential role in the wider world”.

According to a report from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germans hold more key positions in the European Commission than any other EU Member State. Germany is not entirely to blame for this, but we must recognise that it is true. In 1997 Chancellor Kohl told his party members that:

European integration and the Euro were the price Germany had to pay for dominating Europe without frightening its neighbours.

Even Helmut Schmidt admitted to me, when we he asked me to meet him in Hamburg in the 1990s, that inside the EU German national interests are incompatible with our own.

The Prime Minister must know the reality of Chequers and that the EU has always rejected the proposed break-up of the Single Market. She believes wrongly that Chequers can be negotiated despite this and she believes that the UK needs to compromise with and supplicate the EU. This has always been a doomed strategy as the European Scrutiny Committee clearly stated long ago.

If she really believes in this fatal policy of compromise, she cannot continue asserting that her plan is remotely in line with what people voted for in the referendum or in the General Election given what the Conservative Party stated in its Manifesto. If the Government continues to insist on Chequers, the UK would be reabsorbed into the existing and increasingly authoritarian EU, largely dominated by Germany. We will also be subjected to the undemocratic machinery of majority voting, and consensus by the 27 Member States, not to mention legal interpretations by the European Court. All of this would be conducted behind closed doors in critical areas of our trading and other relationships within the framework of the Chequers proposals.

By maintaining Chequer, the UK would transmute the gold of our own democracy into the base metal of EU subservience – a perverse kind of alchemy.