The price of the Brexit deal is sim­ply too high

The Sunday Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor - BILL CASH

In the early Thir­ties – at a time of great his­toric change – Win­ston Churchill de­manded in the House of Com­mons: “Tell the truth to the Bri­tish peo­ple. They are a tough peo­ple, a ro­bust peo­ple.”

Now, as then, it is time for straight talk­ing.

In the swirling kalei­do­scope of Brexit, with its stream of Fake News, Project Fear and BBC bias, what is the bot­tom line?

First, there is no go­ing back. The open­ing words of the With­drawal Act passed in June state in black and white that the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties Act 1972 is re­pealed on exit day, March 29 2019. Ev­ery EU law and treaty, in­clud­ing the customs union and the sin­gle mar­ket, then ceases to ap­ply to the UK. The With­drawal Act is the an­chor of the ref­er­en­dum – those who imag­ine that this Act will be re­pealed are liv­ing in cloud-cuckoo land.

The froth­ing Re­v­ersers know this, as do the Sec­ond Ref­er­en­du­mites pro­mot­ing a “Peo­ple’s Vote”. How of­ten do they have to be told that we had one in June 2016? It was en­acted by six-to-one in the Com­mons by most of those now try­ing to un­ravel it and ev­ery Con­ser­va­tive stood by it in our man­i­festo.

Trag­i­cally, the Gov­ern­ment with its draft With­drawal Agree­ment is at­tempt­ing to un­der­mine the ref­er­en­dum re­sult, too. The back­stop is not of it­self the only rea­son for re­ject­ing this un­signed piece of pa­per. Re­mem­ber the Prime Min­is­ter’s own words at Lan­caster House: “We will not have truly left the Euro­pean Union if we are not in con­trol of our own laws”.

The so-called With­drawal Agree­ment, how­ever, is a pig in a poke un­der which we will most em­phat­i­cally not en­joy con­trol. It con­tains the men­ac­ing Ar­ti­cle 132 which even makes pro­vi­sion for ex­tend­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod po­ten­tially to the end of this cen­tury. The words in the agree­ment are “31 De­cem­ber 20XX”.

It has other sins. It di­rectly un­der­mines the con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus of North­ern Ire­land within the United King­dom, which is a “man­i­fest vi­o­la­tion” of our do­mes­tic law un­der Ar­ti­cle 46 of the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion. But above all, for the first time in our his­tory we will be gov­erned, per­haps in­def­i­nitely, by laws im­posed upon us by the other 27 mem­ber states. Worse still, we will not even be in the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters meet­ings when these laws are changed, with no record of what was said and no rea­sons given.

The al­leged jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this mon­strous de­nial of demo­cratic ac­count­abil­ity is that busi­ness has de­manded it. But does busi­ness re­alise the un­cer­tainty it will cre­ate for them? Par­tic­u­larly given the fact that changes to the Com­mon Rule Book will be de­lib­er­ately made by their com­peti­tors with­out the UK at the ta­ble. No doubt they com­fort them­selves in the be­lief that their sup­port for the UK’s po­lit­i­cal cas­tra­tion will be com­pen­sated by their multi­na­tional lob­by­ing of the un­elected Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

If un­der the agree­ment we do not con­trol our own laws, the ques­tion which nat­u­rally arises is: who will? The other 27 mem­ber states for sure, but it will be mainly Ger­many, as Sir Paul Lever, the former Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to Ger­many demon­strated. In his mag­is­te­rial book Berlin Rules, he ex­plains: “The EU is geared prin­ci­pally to the de­fence of Ger­man na­tional in­ter­ests”. Ger­many calls the shots.

Fur­ther­more, Italy, Greece and many other EU coun­tries with youth un­em­ploy­ment be­tween 20 and 50 per cent are seething with re­sent­ment at the aus­ter­ity im­posed by the Ger­man-led Fis­cal Com­pact. Hun­gary and Poland are also in re­volt and even Swe­den has moved to the Right. So what is it that gives the Re­v­ersers such a sense of con­fi­dence in this im­plod­ing Euro­pean project whose eco­nomic foun­da­tions are be­ing shaken as the euro stag­nates? What on earth do the Re­v­ersers want to re-join and why?

While Europe is on the cusp, our un­em­ploy­ment rate is at a mere 4 per cent. We have come through not only Project Fear in 2016 un­scathed, but weath­ered the storms over the past 40 years of the mas­sive un­em­ploy­ment gen­er­ated by John Ma­jor’s ERM and the eco­nomic crash of 2008.

As Churchill said, we are a tough and ro­bust peo­ple. And if there is no deal be­cause of EU in­tran­si­gence, let us also re­mem­ber the huge ad­van­tages of our lan­guage, demo­cratic val­ues, our com­mit­ment to the rule of law, and the op­por­tu­ni­ties of global trade on our own terms which we can en­joy if we leave with­out a deal.

For all these rea­sons, the tran­si­tional deal is a price too high. The Re­v­ersers haven’t got a leg to stand on and the Gov­ern­ment’s With­drawal Agree­ment would sim­ply leave us at the mercy of our com­peti­tors.

Sir Bill Cash is Con­ser­va­tive MP for Stone

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