My com­pro­mise plan: give the EU £20bil­lion... to leave as friends

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By JA­COB REES-MOGG MP AND CHAIR­MAN OF THE TORIES’ EURO­PEAN RE­SEARCH GROUP

JO JOHN­SON’S res­ig­na­tion is the ‘Em­peror’s New Clothes’ mo­ment in the Brexit process. He has stated clearly what ev­ery­body knows: that the ne­go­ti­a­tions sat­isfy no one and that we are hurtling to­wards mak­ing the UK a vas­sal state.

Theresa May will un­der­stand­ably be dis­mayed by his res­ig­na­tion and by new re­ports that, in any case, there can be no progress this week for her pre­ferred Che­quers so­lu­tion as Brus­sels will not ac­cept it.

How­ever, it is time for the Prime Min­is­ter to be true to her mantra that ‘no deal is bet­ter than a bad deal’. It is also time for con­vinced Brex­i­teers like me to com­pro­mise.

So at this late hour in the ne­go­ti­a­tions, we would like to make a new, gen­er­ous of­fer to break the deadlock, to achieve a ‘No Deal Plus’.

It would cost us money but it would fi­nally dis­pel the ‘crash out’ Project Fear night­mare sce­nar­ios.

It is true that with no with­drawal agree­ment at all, we legally owe the EU noth­ing – de­spite mis­guided claims from the Chan­cel­lor that we do.

But we should of­fer Brus­sels £20bil­lion to make our de­par­ture as am­i­ca­ble as pos­si­ble.

Un­der it, we would leave on sched­ule on March 29.

How­ever, for a 21-month tran­si­tion pe­riod un­til the end of 2020, both sides would main­tain a stand­still with zero tar­iffs on ei­ther’s goods and no ad­di­tional bar­ri­ers.

This would be un­til the end of the EU’s cur­rent multi-an­nual fi­nan­cial frame­work.

In re­turn, the UK would con­tinue to make pay­ments to the EU bud­get which are just un­der £10 bil­lion a year, net.

In to­tal, that is half what the Govern­ment is cur­rently pre­pared to pay for a deal. We would con­tinue to ap­ply ex­ist­ing EU rules and the Com­mon Com­mer­cial Pol­icy un­til the end of 2020. This would pro­vide both sides with time to pre­pare for a de­par­ture on to World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion terms, or for the ac­ti­va­tion of the com­pre­hen­sive free trade deal that the EU has of­fered.

The UK would be a third coun­try, which would sim­plify the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

It would be a gen­er­ous of­fer from the UK es­pe­cially as it would be com­bined with the pro­tec­tion of the rights of na­tion­als from EU mem­ber states legally liv­ing in the UK.

It would help the EU avoid a black hole in its bud­get and would avoid dis­rup­tion to ei­ther side’s trade.

Mrs May is known to be both an hon­est and du­ti­ful per­son.

How­ever, as the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions reach their de­noue­ment, her words and ac­tions do not meet. This is par­tic­u­larly so re­gard­ing the re­cent sto­ries in re­la­tion to a bor­der in the Ir­ish Sea and the vexed is­sue of fish­ing, where we hear the EU wishes to main­tain their rights to our seas af­ter Brexit.

Th­ese are not the only is­sues where words and deeds no longer match.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod, as the Prime Min­is­ter orig­i­nally termed it, has evolved into a fur­ther time for ne­go­ti­a­tions.

There is also the even more im­por­tant is­sue of the cus­toms union. Re­main­ing in it is pro­posed as the back-stop plan in case noth­ing else could be agreed.

How­ever, it would pre­vent us from cutting tar­iffs, deny­ing the na­tion one of Brexit’s ma­jor ben­e­fits.

It would hit the least well-off the most by keeping the pric­ing of food, cloth­ing and footwear higher than nec­es­sary to pro­tect in­ef­fi­cient con­ti­nen­tal busi­nesses.

The UK would also be pre­vented from mak­ing trade deals with other na­tions. It would also leave us more tied into the EU’s cus­toms union than we are to­day.

In ref­er­ence to the Prime Min­is­ter’s own words, it is hard to be­lieve that some­one who so clearly stated that she would take the UK out of the cus­toms union could be about to agree to so ab­ject a surrender.

The Bri­tish have of­ten ad­mired no­ble fail­ure but there is no no­bil­ity in this. It would not meet the re­quire­ments of the ref­er­en­dum for we would be more con­trolled by the EU, not less. It would cost bil­lions of pounds for the priv­i­lege of servi­tude and fur­ther weaken trust in politi­cians.

When Pan­dora fa­mously opened the box the last thing re­main­ing was hope.

As the PM stub­bornly re­fuses to ac­cept the com­pre­hen­sive free-trade deal of­fered by the EU, col­lo­qui­ally known as Su­per Canada, the fi­nal hope must be that when she said no deal is bet­ter than a bad deal, she ac­tu­ally meant it.

It goes with­out say­ing that, given both main par­ties have vowed to up­hold the re­sult of the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, hold­ing a sec­ond would cheat the elec­torate.

So let us make the prepa­ra­tions now for as friendly and smooth a Brexit as pos­si­ble.

Gen­er­ous of­fer to break deadlock could achieve a ‘No Deal Plus’

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