10 December 2017
The news on Friday that Theresa May had struck a “deal” with the EU Commission was welcome.
Certainly, its language was an improvement on the draft which we saw on Monday and the Government has clearly managed to move the Commission some way.
The agreement allows the talks to move forward. It does not set in stone any terms of the final Brexit arrangement.
There are, however, obvious causes for concern.
The continued oversight of the European Court of Justice in the UK is not good.
It is standard practice across the world for the courts of countries in an international treaty to pay attention to the judgments of their partners, and to try, if possible, to apply a consistent interpretation.
That poses no problem, but the idea that EU citizens in the UK should be “protected” by the ECJ would be a bizarre situation, creating a privileged class of 3 million people whose rights in this country would be enforced by a court beyond the influence of our Government and Parliament.
The question of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has dominated the headlines in recent days, so it was particularly good to see confirmed what many of us have been arguing for some time: there is no need for a “hard” border and avoiding one is entirely possible with new technology and goodwill which should exist on both sides.
Paragraph 45 of the agreement clearly states that the UK is leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union. Too many Establishment figures – from senior civil servants to the EU-funded CBI – still cannot accept this.
To understand the scale of the problem, look at the CBI’s President Paul Dreschler, who absurdly called Brexit “the most serious issue any country in the world has ever had to face”.
More serious, he claims, than the Reformation, the English Civil War, the Great Plague, Stalin’s purges, the Cuban Missile Crisis…
To read Owen Paterson’s piece for The Sun on Sunday in full, click here.