Labour Heartlands: We have published this interpretation from the ERG on the Government Withdrawal Agreement for the UK’s exit from the European Union.
In the interest of an informed society. We do not take any stance on their assessment or credibility,
We do not necessarily agree or disagree but we have linked both the full version to the agreement and the conclusion BrexitCentral have claimed.
Four days after the release of the 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement for the UK’s exit from the European Union, the European Research Group (ERG) of eurosceptic Conservative MPs today publishes a concise guide making the case against the putative deal.
- The UK would hand over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money with nothing guaranteed in return
- The UK would remain a ‘rule taker’ over large areas of EU law
- It would lock us in a Customs Union without the ability to leave
- It would creates internal borders within the UK, undermining the integrity of the Union
- The European Court of Justice would remain in control of the agreement and large areas of EU law directly effective in the UK
The ERG conclude:
The combination of these measures means the United Kingdom will have not left the European Union but will instead be ‘half in and half out’. This will mean that we will become a ‘vassal state’ many of whose laws will have been created abroad and over which we have no influence. This is completely against the spirit of the 2016 referendum in which 17.4 million UK citizens voted to leave the European Union.
You can read the document for yourself below or by clicking here to read it as a pdf.
Jonathan Isaby is Editor –
Brexitcentral placed their assessment in a PDF.
If there is one thing we can agree on it is that we all should know what we are getting in or out off!
- We would hand over £39 billion of taxpayer’s money with nothing guaranteed in return.
Under the proposal the UK would agree a financial settlement with the EU of c.£39 billion,
made up of various elements, including continued EU budget contributions during the
transition period (up to December 2020), contributions to unfunded EU commitments and
EU pensions. Despite offering this vast sum of British taxpayer’s money the United Kingdom
is not guaranteed any future trading arrangements, which are still to be negotiated.
- The UK will remain a ‘rule taker’ over large areas of EU law. The UK will continue to be
bound by EU laws in vital areas such as social policy, environmental policy and employment
policy, i.e will obey EU laws, but have no further influence over how they are drafted. We
will thus become a ‘rule taker’ and will have surrendered our sovereignty in these critical
- No exit from a ‘backstop’ Customs Union. The agreement establishes a ‘joint committee’
which will oversee the UK’s ability to proceed to a future trade relationship. If this
relationship cannot be agreed by both parties the UK will enter a so called ‘backstop’
Customs Union with the EU, despite many public assurances to the contrary and directly at
variance with the Conservative Party’s 2017 General Election manifesto. We could only
subsequently leave the Customs Union with the agreement of the EU. While we remain in a
Customs Union we would be unable to strike international trade deals without the EU’s
- The Agreement creates internal borders within the UK. Northern Ireland would become a
‘rule taker’ in further areas such as goods, agricultural products and VAT compared to the
rest of the UK. This threatens the internal integrity of the United Kingdom and is completely
unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party on whom the Conservative Party now rely
for a majority in the House of Commons.
- The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain in control of the agreement and large
areas of EU law directly effective in the UK. The ECJ will remain as the final arbiter of the
agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to.
In summary, the combination of these measures means the United Kingdom will have not left
the European Union but will instead be ‘half in and half out’. This will mean that we will
become a ‘vassal state’ many of whose laws will have been created abroad and over which
we have no influence. This is completely against the spirit of the 2016 referendum in which
17.4 million UK citizens voted to leave the European Union.
The UK Government / EU draft withdrawal agreement, under Article 50, was published on the 14 November 2018. The withdrawal agreement runs to 585 pages. This is almost twice as long as the 300 pages of the 2008 Lisbon Treaty. The draft withdrawal agreement was published alongside a draft political declaration on a permanent ‘future framework’ UK/EU relationship.
Final EU agreement on the withdrawal agreement will be subject to the approval of an
“enhanced qualified majority” of EU Member States and the European Parliament.
In the UK, the House of Commons will be given a ‘Meaningful Vote’ on whether or not to
approve the draft agreement and future framework. If this is approved by the House of
Commons (which currently seems highly unlikely) Parliament will then need to pass a
Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, in order to ratify what would become a legally binding international Treaty.
Key issue 1 – NOT taking back control of our money
Under the proposed agreement the UK would agree to pay to the EU a sum of approximately £39 billion. This would comprise a number of parts, including continued EU budget contributions during the transition period up to December 2020; unfunded EU commitments (known as Reste à Liquider or RAL – where the EU has committed to future projects it has not yet funded), and EU pensions, including for EU Commissioners and civil servants.
Having been through a period of considerable austerity in Britain, it seems difficult to justify paying such a huge amount of money, while the United Kingdom is not guaranteed any future trading relationship in return, as this is still to be subsequently agreed. This hardly constitutes taking back control of our money – rather it is handing over vast amounts of our money, for nothing in return and which could be better spent at home.
Key issue 2 – NOT taking back control of our laws
Under the proposals the UK would continue to be bound by EU laws in a number of critical
areas, such as social policy, environmental policy, employment policy and customs. We will thus become a ‘rule taker’, which means we would have to continue to obey EU laws in these areas but having surrendered any influence over how they are drafted.
Furthermore, under the agreement the European Court of Justice will be the final arbiter of EU laws in power in the UK, putting our Courts, even our Supreme Court, in a junior position.
Key issue 3 – Being locked in a Customs Union without the ability to leave
Under the proposed agreement a ‘Joint Committee’ of both the EU and UK would be
established to oversee the UK’s path to a future trade relationship – which has yet to be
negotiated. However, if this relationship cannot be satisfactorily agreed by both parties the UK would be forced to enter a so called ‘backstop’ Customs Union with the EU. While we remain in a Customs Union (as we are at present) the UK would be unable to strike international trade deals with other countries such as the USA or China or indeed, any other country.
Moreover, and critically, once we enter the backstop we cannot leave without the consent of
the European Union. This would be a major surrender of our sovereignty, despite repeated
public assurances in Parliament to the contrary. It would also be directly at odds with the
Conservative Party’s 2017 General Election manifesto that stated unequivocally that following the referendum “we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union”.
Key issue 4 – Undermining the integrity of the United Kingdom
The agreement creates internal borders within the United Kingdom, as Northern Ireland, if we enter the backstop, would be treated separately to the rest of the UK. Specifically, Northern Ireland would become a rule taker in further areas such as goods, agricultural products and VAT. This would create ‘a border down the Irish Sea’, despite repeated assurances to Parliament that no British Government would ever contemplate this.
The draft agreement contains a separate Protocol including clauses specific to Northern Ireland not affecting the rest of the UK. Treating Northern Ireland separately from the UK would only encourage separatism in Scotland, to the detriment of our United Kingdom.
The separate treatment of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom is
unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party (the DUP) on whom the Conservative Party now rely for a working majority in the House of Commons. If the DUP were to withdraw their support from the Conservative Party, because of these proposals, the Government would Collapse.
Key issue 5 – The Agreement would be overseen by the European Court of
Justice, not the UK Supreme Court.
Under the proposals the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain in control of the agreement and those areas of EU law that remain effective in the UK. The ECJ will remain as the final arbiter of the agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to. Again, this is wholly against the spirit of the referendum.
The Report then goes on to talk about their alternative – a “Super Canada” Free Trade Deal however that is not the labour party’s stance and has no relevance on here.
We have published this in the interest of an informed society.
The original In Your Right to Know, the group – chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg – seeks to put the case against what Theresa May has agreed with the EU in plain English – and BrexitCentral is exclusively publishing the full text of the 7-page document.
From Dr Lee Rotherham
Dr Lee Rotherham is Director of think tank The Red Cell, Executive Director of Veterans for Britain and Chairman of the appeal to establish a Museum of Sovereignty. He was Director of Special Projects at Vote Leave.
Having written briefings for frontbenchers on the treaties of Amsterdam and Nice, and having wandered in lonely eurosceptic errantry the corridors of Brussels during the Convention on the Future of Europe, it is, I suppose, refreshing to sit down and analyse a document whose intention is finally to take the country in the other direction, away from the EU orbit.
It is, however, a great shame that the designers failed to fill up the tank with petrol.
I’ve spent some hours scouting the text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration. As an initial review, it is of course impossible to delve into the minutiae of case law that apply to any single line and cross reference all of the cited directives, but as an exercise in reconnaissance at least you can over a few hours get a reasonable map picture of what is going on.
The problem is not singular, but a mosaic of issues.
Here for comparison is the Government Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union; Joint Statement and outline of the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, as agreed at negotiators’ level.
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