Breakthrough deal? It feels more like an EU sell-out is in the offing, says former Brexit minister DAVID JONES
Friday’s TV screens were full of images of the Prime Minister making her dramatic pre-dawn flight to seal the deal with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In its place will come mounting concern from those of us who want to honour the referendum result that an EU sellout is in the offing.
This is not to say that the dogged Theresa May hasn’t achieved a personal victory in the face of classic Brussels obduracy, for which she deserves full credit.
We are at long last on the brink of where we should have been months ago – moving from preliminary skirmishes about the exit bill to serious talks on our future trade relationship with Europe.
That alone is very welcome and I can understand my fellow Tory Brexiteers’ reluctance to criticise the deal. But we cannot ignore the hard fact that lying in the heart of this agreement are provisions that could make a nonsense of a real Brexit.
Let’s start with the new proposal for continued regulatory ‘alignment’ between the UK and the EU, to support co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The phrase may have come out of nowhere but it is certainly going somewhere – blocking Brexit.
Ensuring co-operation on the island of Ireland is indeed important; but if we do continue to observe EU regulations, we kiss goodbye to one of the main advantages of Brexit – negotiating new, lucrative trade deals with the rest of the world.
What price a bumper free trade deal with the US if we kick off by ruling out importing a huge array of American products because they don’t comply with rules made by Brussels bureaucrats?
The whole point of Brexit is that we make our own rules, in our own national interest.
If we stay shackled to EU regulations, Liam Fox and his Department of International Trade might as well pack up and go home. But that’s not the only poison hidden away in last week’s Brexit deal.
Within it is the reality that the European Court of Justice will continue to dictate law on EU citizens’ rights for eight years after any ‘transitional period’. This means that judges in Luxembourg will still be making British law in 2029 – 13 years after the referendum vote – a mockery of the Brexiteers’ worthy slogan of ‘taking back control’.
Add to that the possibility of a monstrous bill as the price for escaping Brussels’s grip. ‘Government sources’ were quoted saying the price tag was likely to be £39 billion – down from an earlier-reported £50 billion. However, the deal document contains no such precise figure, reduced or otherwise.
What it does contain is a set of highly technical mechanisms we would have to follow to work out the eventual Brexit cost to the UK. And those mechanisms could land us with a bill, on some estimates, of as much as £100 billion – a figure EU sources were touting earlier this year.
There’ll be a lot more tough negotiating before we finally break free from Brussels.
And we must never forget one important phrase tucked away in Friday’s deal document: ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’
December 10th, 217: Daily Mail