Was the Withdrawal Agreement drafted by civil servants seeking to make remaining in the EU look attractive?

Was the Withdrawal Agreement drafted by civil servants seeking to make remaining in the EU look attractive?

The Withdrawal Agreement has been drafted by a small number of Remain-inclined civil servants under the direction of a Prime Minister who campaigned for Remain.

It will pay £39bn in reparations without any agreement on a future economic relationship with the EU. It isolates Northern Ireland as a colony in preparation for its future absorption into the EU. Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s secretary-general, known as the “Monster of Brussels”, admits that this will be the “price” that the UK must pay for Brexit.

It locks the UK into a “single customs territory”, where the UK is subject to the laws of a foreign power without having any influence on how those laws are determined and without any unilateral right to leave – thereby protecting the EU’s trade surplus in goods with us of £95bn. This foreign power would determine the regulations for goods sold in Northern Ireland and for the UK-wide labour markets and would also set common rules for the environment, social standards and state aid “with the aim of ensuring the proper functioning of the single customs territory”.

During the transition period – which could be extended indefinitely – there would still be free movement, we would not regain control of our fisheries, the EU would still send us bills, and it can veto our foreign policy. Parliament would be required to pass laws to ensure public authorities and judges follow EU rules during the transition. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) would have supremacy over not only UK judges, but over the UK government transposing its EU obligations, and would also be the final arbiter of the Withdrawal Agreement.

And it gets worse: the EU can inhibit us competing against it, while it remains free to compete against us. Take financial services, one of our most important industries. For every £1 of financial services we buy from the EU, we sell £6 to the EU.  It will now seek to force significant parts of our financial services industry to move to the EU. Further, it has refused to agree a guaranteed enhanced equivalence declaration, so we will have to negotiate that in the transition period, while it continues to poach our business. Indeed, the agreement covering services – where we currently have a trade surplus with the EU of £28bn – will have to be negotiated during the transition period.

In terms of defence, the UK would be required to collaborate on future projects of the European Defence Agency, under conditions of EU law, with a European Army as the ultimate objective. Indeed, it is much more serious than this. The Prime Minister has secretly given away control of significant aspects of UK defence policy to the EU in a way that undermines NATO and our Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The clear intention by the EU is to destroy the UK’s relationship with the US and the Commonwealth.

And to top it all, the “single customs territory” will form the basis of our future trading relationship with the EU, thereby blocking any of the trade agreements that Liam Fox’s International Trade Department has been negotiating from ever coming into force. The “backstop” is permanent, thereby locking the UK into certain EU laws indefinitely.

And if we dared to defy the EU on any of this, it has threatened to block our planes flying into and out of our country and stop Eurostar trains from running.

All this amounts to little more than unconditional surrender. Yet the Prime Minister believes with “every fibre of my being” that the Brexit deal is the “right one for the country” – a country with the sixth biggest economy in the world, where only 8 per cent of companies trade with the EU, and where we buy £67bn more in goods and services from the EU than it buys from us.

The Withdrawal Agreement is so full of absurdities that neither Leavers nor Remainers could possibly accept it. It is not just a bad deal, it is the worst possible deal. The clear purpose of the British civil servants who drafted it is for people to think that, if this is what Brexit means, we’d be better off remaining in the EU.

In short, the Withdrawal Agreement is not intended to be the final stage of a transition to a “softer Brexit”, but rather the next stage in the establishment’s campaign – which began the day after the referendum – to reverse Brexit. Confirmation for this comes from comments made by senior EU officials heard by Patrick O’Flynn, the UKIP MEP for the East of England.  The plan – fully endorsed by British officials – is to get the UK back into the EU in time for the European Parliamentary elections in 2024, as he recently explained on BrexitCentral:

“Further comments suggested that a ‘purgatory backstop’ would be used to persuade the UK to reapply for membership rather than languish in the equivalent of EU solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water. Far from having left the prison, we would have to beg to go back on the wing and probably only get accepted on inferior terms – no budget rebate, fewer national vetoes – and possibly an undertaking to be absorbed into the euro and Schengen in due course too”.

This clearly has a ring of truth – and it means that the entire British negotiation has been an elaborate charade. Yet this deliberate deception is dangerous and delusional because of the way that the EU is heading.

The EU is an increasingly protectionist trading bloc with big business lobbying Brussels for more regulations to make it more difficult for small companies to enter the market and compete, and a Customs Union which imposes more than 13,000 tariffs on imported goods. As a result, EU consumers are paying an average of 17 per cent above world prices on food.

The EU is a political project that is fundamentally anti-democratic, as a whole range of European leaders have made abundantly clear. Jean Monnet said:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.”

The “purposive” nature of EU law allows the ECJ to interpret and reinterpret the wording of EU laws in line with the European Commission’s (often changing) intentions. 

The euro currency is a disaster – and has led to unsustainable trade and capital flow imbalances between the southern and northern states, as well as wrecking the economies of the former. Most of the EU’s big banks are in very serious financial difficulty. There is increasing euroscepticism in the EU – dismissed as “populism” by europhiles – demonstrated by the East/West split over the immigration and internal security crises.

And to top it all, there is massive corruption in the EU, with the EU’s accounts not having been approved for the last 20 years by the EU’s chief auditor in respect of around €100bn of expenditures.

The EU, far from uniting Europe in an ‘ever closer union’, is slowly destroying Europe.

It is now quite obvious that the Prime Minister’s deal would not mean a meaningful Brexit, despite the clarity of her Lancaster House speech and the promise that “Brexit means Brexit”. Indeed, the deal shows complete contempt for the clearly expressed wishes of the British people in the referendum.

And what does a meaningful Brexit look like? Given the fact that the EU is not willing to cooperate in delivering a deal that is in the best interests of all the citizens of Europe, then the only solution is a non-cooperative one based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. This is not “no deal”. It is precisely how we conduct around half of our international trade with the rest of the world. And it works.

According to the IMF’s Direction of Trade Statistics, 15 of the 22 largest exporters to the EU trade under WTO rules and increased their EU exports by 135 per cent between 1993 and 2015. The other seven had bilateral trade agreements and increased their exports by 107 per cent. The 12 original EU members increased their intra-EU trade by 70 per cent, while the UK increased its trade with the EU by just 25 per cent. UK goods exports to the 111 countries with which it trades under WTO rules have grown at 3 per cent pa, three times faster than UK trade with the EU.

In due course, a “Canada plus plus plus” deal might be agreed which involves services, and especially financial services, as well as goods. But none of this can be done under the terms of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.