The transition deal shows how Remainers’ attempt to derail the Brexit process have failed

The transition deal shows how Remainers’ attempt to derail the Brexit process have failed

The transition agreement is the last nail in the coffin for diehard Remainers: gone are any hopes of a second referendum, staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union or keeping the freedom of movement of labour. The UK is leaving the EU on 30th March 2019 and will be fully sovereign 21 months later.

Issues surrounding the Irish border, which Remainers were hoping would derail the negotiations with the EU, have been kicked down the road. The original insistence by the EU that the question of the Irish border must be settled before negotiations start – a stance that was vehemently promoted by the Irish Taoiseach, who threatened to use his veto even before negotiations got started – has been dropped. Rather than being an issue that has to be solved before negotiations begins, it has now been pushed to the end of the process – as it always should have been: the Irish border can only be resolved once the details of the trade deal with the EU are known and not before.

Remainers must be horrified that the EU has agreed for the UK to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world during the transition period, something we were assured would not be acceptable to the EU as it goes against the EU’s own rules and procedures.

The EU has disappointed its most ardent supporters in the UK, who were hoping that the EU would come to their rescue and provoke a breakdown of negotiations. Our Europhiles now form a sad bunch of malcontents who spend their time whining from the sidelines, a flavour of which can be seen in The Guardian on a daily basis. History is never kind to those who stand in its way.

The fact that a third ‘backstop’ option for the Irish border is included in the agreement in which Northern Ireland would remain in the Customs Union to ensure regulatory alignment across the border is cosmetic, given that the ‘backstop’ plan has already been declared by Theresa May as something that “no United Kingdom prime minister could ever agree to”. Once the final deal is known, one of the two other options will be implemented. This – coupled with the fact that nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed – ensures that the ‘backstop’ option will never come to pass.

The continued membership of the Common Fisheries Policy – albeit with the important proviso that the UK’s total catch cannot be changed – is disappointing, but we have to live with it. In this regard, the Government must undertake to ensure that the UK’s fishing fleet is not diminished during the transition period as a direct result of our continued membership of CFP after we leave the EU in March next year. More to the point is ensuring that at the end of the transition we have full control of our waters. Thus far and no further must be the message to the Government.

The TUC is the one institution most damaged by its Brexit policy. By its reluctance to engage with the Brexit process, it has been all but sidelined. It campaigned on the side of Remain in the referendum and continued to do so long after a majority voted to Leave. It continued to insist that that jobs and rights could only be guaranteed within the Single Market and the Customs Union, an argument that was exploded by Jeremy Corbyn when he declared that jobs and rights could only be guaranteed outside the Single Market and the Customs Union.

The TUC’s inability to break out of the cocoon into which it entombed itself and its refusal to embrace Brexit, as the Labour leadership has done, may prove fatal to its reputation and standing among trade unionists and workers in general. The TUC Congress this September may prove to be its last opportunity to change tack and regain some of the dignity it lost and reassert itself as the representative of working people.

21 months is the blink of an eye in the history of a nation. At the end of the day, it is the final Brexit agreement that counts, and that must give the UK unadulterated sovereignty over all its affairs, including fisheries.