Jo Johnson’s resignation is the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment in the Brexit process.
He has stated clearly what everybody knows: that the negotiations satisfy no one and that we are hurtling towards making the UK a vassal state.
Theresa May will understandably be dismayed by his resignation and by new reports that, in any case, there can be no progress this week for her preferred Chequers solution as Brussels will not accept it.
However, it is time for the Prime Minister to be true to her mantra that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. It is also time for convinced Brexiteers like me to compromise.
So at this late hour in the negotiations, we would like to make a new, generous offer to break the deadlock, to achieve a ‘No Deal Plus’.
It would cost us money but it would finally dispel the ‘crash out’ Project Fear nightmare scenarios.
It is true that with no withdrawal agreement at all, we legally owe the EU nothing – despite misguided claims from the Chancellor that we do.
But we should offer Brussels £20 billion to make our departure as amicable as possible.
Under it, we would leave on schedule on March 29.
However, for a 21-month transition period until the end of 2020, both sides would maintain a standstill with zero tariffs on either’s goods and no additional barriers.
This would be until the end of the EU’s current multi-annual financial framework.
In return, the UK would continue to make payments to the EU budget which are just under £10 billion a year, net.
In total, that is half what the Government is currently prepared to pay for a deal. We would continue to apply existing EU rules and the Common Commercial Policy until the end of 2020.
This would provide both sides with time to prepare for a departure on to World Trade Organisation terms, or for the activation of the comprehensive free trade deal that the EU has offered.
The UK would be a third country, which would simplify the negotiations.
It would be a generous offer from the UK especially as it would be combined with the protection of the rights of nationals from EU member states legally living in the UK.
It would help the EU avoid a black hole in its budget and would avoid disruption to either side’s trade.
Mrs May is known to be both an honest and dutiful person.
However, as the Brexit negotiations reach their denouement, her words and actions do not meet. This is particularly so regarding the recent stories in relation to a border in the Irish Sea and the vexed issue of fishing, where we hear the EU wishes to maintain their rights to our seas after Brexit.
These are not the only issues where words and deeds no longer match.
The implementation period, as the Prime Minister originally termed it, has evolved into a further time for negotiations.
There is also the even more important issue of the customs union. Remaining in it is proposed as the back-stop plan in case nothing else could be agreed.
However, it would prevent us from cutting tariffs, denying the nation one of Brexit’s major benefits.
It would hit the least well-off the most by keeping the pricing of food, clothing and footwear higher than necessary to protect inefficient continental businesses.
The UK would also be prevented from making trade deals with other nations. It would also leave us more tied into the EU’s customs union than we are today.
In reference to the Prime Minister’s own words, it is hard to believe that someone who so clearly stated that she would take the UK out of the customs union could be about to agree to so abject a surrender.
The British have often admired noble failure but there is no nobility in this. It would not meet the requirements of the referendum for we would be more controlled by the EU, not less.
It would cost billions of pounds for the privilege of servitude and further weaken trust in politicians.
When Pandora famously opened the box the last thing remaining was hope.
As the PM stubbornly refuses to accept the comprehensive free-trade deal offered by the EU, colloquially known as Super Canada, the final hope must be that when she said no deal is better than a bad deal, she actually meant it.
It goes without saying that, given both main parties have vowed to uphold the result of the 2016 referendum, holding a second would cheat the electorate.
So let us make the preparations now for as friendly and smooth a Brexit as possible.
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