The deal which the Prime Minister unveiled this week is so bad it cannot possibly proceed.
It betrays the Conservative manifesto promises to leave the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court. Instead, it offers either an extension (up to any point this century!) of the status quo, or the nightmare of a potentially permanent “backstop”. That backstop would see the whole UK remain in a customs union with the EU, with Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market.
So far from protecting the union, the backstop could see the creation of new internal borders within the UK in clear breach of the Belfast Agreement’s Principle of Consent.
Worse, the UK would not have the unilateral right to end the arrangement, so we could be locked into it indefinitely as a permanent rule-taker with no say as those rules are made.
Who will adjudicate the laws which we receive?
The ECJ – both during the transition period and in the potentially permanent backstop.
This will tie the UK into EU customs, environmental, social, state aid and taxation policies.
We will send the EU upwards of £39 billion for the privilege – and the ECJ will even adjudicate our payment of that.
In Washington this week, I discussed the deal with senior US trade representatives.
There was real enthusiasm for a US/UK trade deal, but were categorical that this would be impossible if the UK does not control its own tariff schedules or our regulatory environment.
That is exactly the fate which awaits us under the Prime Minister’s current plans.
Following her statement in the Commons on Thursday, it is obvious that the Prime Minister will not get her deal through Parliament.
Her best option is to change course and negotiate a wide-ranging, zero-tariff trade agreement with solutions to the Northern Ireland border based on existing techniques and processes.
Otherwise, she risks failing to honour the largest democratic mandate which the British people have ever delivered.
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