BrexitCentral: Was the Withdrawal Agreement drafted by civil servants seeking to make remaining in the EU look attractive?

The Withdrawal Agreement has been drafted by a small number of Remain-inclined civil servants under the direction of a Prime Minister who campaigned for Remain.

It will pay £39bn in reparations without any agreement on a future economic relationship with the EU. It isolates Northern Ireland as a colony in preparation for its future absorption into the EU. Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s secretary-general, known as the “Monster of Brussels”, admits that this will be the “price” that the UK must pay for Brexit.

It locks the UK into a “single customs territory”, where the UK is subject to the laws of a foreign power without having any influence on how those laws are determined and without any unilateral right to leave – thereby protecting the EU’s trade surplus in goods with us of £95bn. This foreign power would determine the regulations for goods sold in Northern Ireland and for the UK-wide labour markets and would also set common rules for the environment, social standards and state aid “with the aim of ensuring the proper functioning of the single customs territory”.

During the transition period – which could be extended indefinitely – there would still be free movement, we would not regain control of our fisheries, the EU would still send us bills, and it can veto our foreign policy. Parliament would be required to pass laws to ensure public authorities and judges follow EU rules during the transition. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) would have supremacy over not only UK judges, but over the UK government transposing its EU obligations, and would also be the final arbiter of the Withdrawal Agreement.

And it gets worse: the EU can inhibit us competing against it, while it remains free to compete against us. Take financial services, one of our most important industries. For every £1 of financial services we buy from the EU, we sell £6 to the EU.  It will now seek to force significant parts of our financial services industry to move to the EU. Further, it has refused to agree a guaranteed enhanced equivalence declaration, so we will have to negotiate that in the transition period, while it continues to poach our business. Indeed, the agreement covering services – where we currently have a trade surplus with the EU of £28bn – will have to be negotiated during the transition period.

In terms of defence, the UK would be required to collaborate on future projects of the European Defence Agency, under conditions of EU law, with a European Army as the ultimate objective. Indeed, it is much more serious than this. The Prime Minister has secretly given away control of significant aspects of UK defence policy to the EU in a way that undermines NATO and our Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The clear intention by the EU is to destroy the UK’s relationship with the US and the Commonwealth.

And to top it all, the “single customs territory” will form the basis of our future trading relationship with the EU, thereby blocking any of the trade agreements that Liam Fox’s International Trade Department has been negotiating from ever coming into force. The “backstop” is permanent, thereby locking the UK into certain EU laws indefinitely.

And if we dared to defy the EU on any of this, it has threatened to block our planes flying into and out of our country and stop Eurostar trains from running.

All this amounts to little more than unconditional surrender. Yet the Prime Minister believes with “every fibre of my being” that the Brexit deal is the “right one for the country” – a country with the sixth biggest economy in the world, where only 8 per cent of companies trade with the EU, and where we buy £67bn more in goods and services from the EU than it buys from us.

The Withdrawal Agreement is so full of absurdities that neither Leavers nor Remainers could possibly accept it. It is not just a bad deal, it is the worst possible deal. The clear purpose of the British civil servants who drafted it is for people to think that, if this is what Brexit means, we’d be better off remaining in the EU.

In short, the Withdrawal Agreement is not intended to be the final stage of a transition to a “softer Brexit”, but rather the next stage in the establishment’s campaign – which began the day after the referendum – to reverse Brexit.

To read the piece in full, click here.

sign up to our Newsletter