We are told that the EU and the UK are edging towards an agreement on our withdrawal from the EU. How we will know the quality of this agreement will depend upon the extent to which it satisfies the criteria set during the referendum campaign as to what constitutes Brexit.
That is to say, the extent to which the agreement gives the UK control of our borders (including migration), our money (including tariffs and trade) and our laws (including jurisdiction of the courts). These are criteria often repeated in outline by our Prime Minister and measures which she claims to be fulfilling.
Based on reports of the deal, sadly it looks like we are heading for a monumental sell-out, a great betrayal of the British people and a fraud on democracy, the ultimate consequences of which are as yet difficult to predict, but unlikely to be good.
Why do I say this? Let us measure the emerging deal against those all important criteria.
Taking control of our laws
It appears that the intention is to tie the UK in perpetuity to the EU rulebook, at least covering all product law relating to industrials and agriculture/food and possibly also laws relating to employment, the environment and social policy. In other words, we will effectively remain in the single market and be subject to EU rules; past, present and future and without any say over their formulation. In fact, it will be a worse position in this respect than being in the EU.
The government will say that the British Parliament may reject any new laws it opposes, however, in practice this will rarely happen under pressure from the EU establishment. Furthermore, the European Court will continue to set precedent for these laws.
Taking control of our money
The government will agree to have a backstop failing the negotiation of a trade deal (which the EU will have no incentive to conclude), which will keep the whole of the UK in the Customs Union. This will prevent the UK from agreeing on trade deals around the world and prevent us removing external tariffs, the removal of which would boost the economy and lower the cost of living particularly for the poorest. Presumably, the money from tariffs will continue to go to the EU coffers as is now the case.
Substantially, therefore, the UK will not have taken control of our money, albeit some of our net contribution we can cease to pay, eventually. By the time we have paid at least £39 billion and continue to pay tariffs, it will be many years before the amount of our full net contribution begins to come home. The government will, of course, claim that the net contribution alone constitutes taking control of our money.
Taking control of our borders
Control of our only land border with the EU had been forgone. We are prepared to accept that because of the historic and special links within the British Isles. As for other borders, the outcome is not yet clear. If it transpires under the agreement that anyone who has a job can enter the UK we will effectively have conceded the continuation of mass migration. It is easy to have intermediaries arrange a “job”.
The current regime costs the UK taxpayer and economy money, according to the Migration Advisory Committee and the 2005 House of Lords report. The Economists for Free Trade group estimate that the net cost to taxpayers of migrants into low skill jobs is £3500 per annum in benefits and public service provision.
This is quite apart from the social cost of nearly 700000 unemployed under 25s and the social dislocation of competing cultures, norms and values.
Let us not forget, on top of all this, the UK will have to suffer a transition period until at least the end of 2020 during which we will be locked into all aspects of the EU without any say- we will be a vassal state of the EU. What country in their right minds would do this?
And for the privilege of all the above, we will hand over at least £39 billion in tribute: £600 for every man, woman and child in the UK.
So, by the measure of the PM’s own criteria, by the measure of both the Conservative and Labour manifestos, this likely outcome is Brexit in name only and a very bad deal indeed. The UK political class will have committed historic treachery. If so-called Brexiteer cabinet members stand idly by and MPs do not act, they will not be forgiven.
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