Deal merely li­cence for the EU to bully and black­mail us

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY BORIS JOHN­SON

There are many ex­quis­ite hu­mil­i­a­tions in the so-called “deal” with the EU that par­lia­ment is be­ing asked to en­dorse on Tues­day – but the es­sen­tial prob­lem can be boiled down to this: Theresa May’s deal hands the EU the in­def­i­nite power to bully and black­mail this coun­try to get what­ever it wants in the fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions.

And if his­tory teaches us any­thing, it is that our Euro­pean friends will not de­sist un­til they have worked out a way to plun­der Scot­tish wa­ters for their fish.

It is wretched that we have al­ready agreed terms – in the so-called “back­stop” ar­range­ments – that would keep the UK in the cus­toms union. That means that we sim­ply will not be able to do any se­ri­ous free trade deals, be­cause we will not con­trol our own tar­iffs.

We will have to levy the tar­iffs set by Brus­sels on our bor­ders and at our ports – and we will have to send 80% of the cash to the EU.

It is per­haps even worse that the UK will have to re­main in large part run by EU laws – with no rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Brus­sels – un­less we are pre­pared to see a real rift with North­ern Ire­land and a cus­toms and reg­u­la­tory bor­der down the Ir­ish sea.

No British PM could agree to such a break-up of the Union – and the re­al­ity there­fore is that we would have to con­tinue to ob­serve the myr­iad sin­gle mar­ket rules, bossed around by the EU, and yet with no say on those rules.

But by far the worst as­pect of this “back­stop” ar­range­ment is that we can­not get out of it without the ex­press ap­proval of the other side. They have a veto on our exit.

It is quite in­cred­i­ble that any gov­ern­ment could agree to such terms. They re­sem­ble the kind of dik­tat that might be im­posed on a na­tion that has suf­fered a mil­i­tary de­feat.

The EU veto means that any sin­gle EU coun­try can block agree­ment on our fu­ture trad­ing ar­range­ments and to keep us locked up in the back­stop, un­til they get what they want.

The Span­ish will make an­other push for Gi­bral­tar. The Ger­mans will al­most cer­tainly want con­ces­sions on EU mi­grants. And the French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has made it clear that he will not let Bri­tain out of jail un­til we have sat­is­fied his de­mands for UK fish.

Un­til we do sat­isfy those de­mands, it is an ex­tra­or­di­nary fea­ture of the back­stop ar­range­ments that although in prin­ci­ple the UK can take back con­trol of its wa­ters, there is a ter­ri­ble sting at­tached.

The EU can di­vide our coun­try and im­pose tar­iffs on British fish. Yes, that means fish tar­iffs be­tween Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land, im­posed by Brus­sels.

And as long as we have no real choice but to ob­serve EU rules for goods and agri­food, the whole of Scot­tish fish­ing and aqua­cul­ture in­dus­tries will be sub­ject to the ef­fec­tive con­trol of the EU, and yet with no say for the UK.

The EU side knows full well that these ar­range­ments are so op­pres­sive that we will have to give them what they want – an agree­ment on “quo­tas and ac­cess”, as al­ready spec­i­fied in the po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion.

In other words, we are go­ing to rein­vent the whole Com­mon Fish­eries Pol­icy – but with the other side ef­fec­tively hold­ing all the cards.

This is not the free­dom to run our own fish­eries pol­icy. This is not what was promised to the peo­ple of this coun­try – let alone the fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties of Scot­land.

DE­FI­ANT: The prime min­is­ter has re­sisted calls to de­lay the vote

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