“IS BREXIT ABOUT TO BE DONE, OR WILL WE BE ‘DONE OVER’?”
By the Rt Hon Sammy Wilson MP
As we approach the last days of the negotiations over the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, it is reasonable to ask: ‘How should any final agreement be judged?’
The Prime Minister campaigned on a platform of taking back control of our laws, our money, our fish and our trade. He is right that unless we achieve those aims then we cannot claim to be an independent sovereign state. Anything less than that leaves us a vassal state, still under the control of foreign bureaucrats and judges.
The EU’s unreasonable demands must be dealt with
If the PM’s goal is to be achieved then the negotiations must replace the ill-advised surrender to the EU which took place when the Prime Minister and the Conservative party hastily agreed to the Withdrawal Agreement this time last year. The fact that the Government is now looking for ways of circumventing the agreement is an admission that it will undermine our independence. However no superficial tinkering with it is going to undo the fundamental defects it contains.
As a Northern Ireland MP of course I am angry at the NI Protocol section of the Withdrawal Agreement. Basically it keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s Single Market, subject not just to existing EU laws but any new laws the EU introduces in the future. These will affect all aspects of life in NI including work regulations, food standards, environmental requirements and product specifications. Trade between Northern Ireland and GB – our biggest market – will be subject to expensive and time-consuming bureaucracy. In addition, goods being brought into NI from GB will be subject to EU tariffs and inspections to ensure compliance with EU standards.
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The result is already becoming apparent with many GB companies indicating that trade with NI will either become too costly or too risky, so they will no longer supply that part of the UK.
This tears apart the Good Friday Agreement and the Union
Apart from the fact that these demands break the terms of the Good Friday Agreement by changing the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the people on NI, they also tear apart the Act of Union. Article 6 of the Act of Union gives legal assurances that as a result of being a member state of the UK there will be no disruption of trade between the countries through taxation or other barriers.
This does not amount to taking back control
On top of this it removes from the people of Northern Ireland any democratic control of the laws which cover 60% of activities in Northern Ireland because neither NI nor the rest of the UK will any longer have representation in Brussels where the laws are made.
This is an abject abdication of the governance of one of the countries of the United Kingdom to Brussels. The stark reality is that when the Government gave in to EU demands over NI it also relinquished control of a whole raft of national responsibilities to the EU.
Northern Ireland is the backdoor which Brussels can use to gain access to interfere in UK fiscal policy, industrial strategy, regional support and almost any economic policy the Government pursues. The means by which this is achieved is simple. Northern Ireland is part of the EU’s Single Market and is subject to the Single Market rules on support for business. Article 10 of the NI protocol makes it clear that EU state aid rules will apply to the whole of the UK if Government actions affect trade between NI and the EU.
What does this mean in practical terms?
In practical terms what this means is that should the UK Government decide to help a GB car producer to develop a new model and that car producer sells cars in Northern Ireland – or might sell cars in Northern Ireland – then the EU would have to approve that support.
The result is that any action the Government takes to support or encourage UK industry will be subject to EU approval. If the UK Government disputed the Brussels view then the final decision would rest with the ‘European Court of Justice’ (ECJ).
This is not the end of any role for the ECJ – under the Withdrawal Agreement it will be able to:-
Adjudicate on disputes about the rights of EU citizens living in the UK
Have jurisdiction over the UK’s future financial obligations to the EU in respect of the European Investment Bank and participation in other EU funds
Decide on disputes which are lodged with the EU up to four years from now but the judgements may be years in the future
Make binding judgements on the size of UK “Divorce payment” liabilities
Enforce EU data protection laws under the guise of protecting EU citizens living in the UK
Make provisions regarding UK sovereign bases which are located in the EU in Cyprus, and even Gibraltar
This affects all citizens of the United Kingdom
It is not just the citizens of Northern Ireland who should be demanding the dismantling of the Withdrawal Agreement. Everyone who voted to leave the EU should demand that the Government settle for nothing less, otherwise Brexit will not be done. Instead we will be ‘done over’.
We will not be taking back control; we will be a puppet, with the strings of many crucial aspects of our national life pulled by the bureaucrats in Brussels and foreign judges in the ECJ.
Last December the people of the UK gave their support to the Conservative Party in order finally to deliver on the result of the referendum to leave the EU. To fulfil that obligation any future agreement must terminate the one-sided Withdrawal Agreement.
- The Rt Hon Sammy Wilson MP, 02 Dec 2020