Theresa May’s Brexit deal does not deliver what people voted for at the referendum

Theresa May’s Brexit deal does not deliver what people voted for at the referendum

The Prime Minister says that the draft Withdrawal Agreement delivers what people voted for in the referendum, but it does not.

The Government has said the UK will come out of the Customs Union. The draft Agreement, however, would bind us by treaty to the rules of a Customs Union that would be set by the EU and that we could not change and could not leave. It is hard to see how anyone who supported Leave in the referendum can then support a proposal that commits the UK to remain permanently under EU rules.

The Government concedes in the draft agreement that Northern Ireland will be under greater EU control than the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister has repeatedly – and correctly – said she would not accept this outcome, but now has. The Government has also said that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” but the draft deal commits the UK to give £39 billion to the EU without securing meaningful agreement on any future trading relationship.

It is hard to see how the deal can win support among Leave voters, many of whom elected the Government last year. It is also hard to see how it genuinely represents the best available outcome for the UK.

When people voted Leave, they did so because they wanted to become an independent country like many others. This deal has much in it to please Brussels and major international businesses, but it risks letting down the hopes of people who thought we would end the control of the UK by Brussels and take back control for ourselves.

The crux of the problem remains the backstop which ultimately, regardless of the merits or otherwise of the rest of the agreement, is very hard to reconcile with our national interest. In the longer term the fear must be that it is politically unworkable to bind any country in perpetuity to an arrangement no-one voted for, that divides the UK, and that many would feel legitimately they rejected in the referendum.

Dominic Raab has spoken up for all those who backed Brexit, and for that he must be applauded.

The Government and Cabinet now need to think very hard about the implications of this agreement and be confident that they are not making a fundamental constitutional and political error – one that could have consequences for the ability of this country to overcome divisions and succeed in the years ahead.