Nebulous or credulous? Either way UK negotiations with the EU are in a sorry state. In plain English we’ve hit a dead end.
Theresa May’s attempt to move things again following this week’s Westminster turmoil has failed. The EU has knocked her back once again.
Parliament had already firmly indicated the Government’s proposed deal will never be passed.
So what now? This is not the time to roll over. It is time to stand up to the Europeans, be confident and start again. There is still time and there is an
Last week we launched the first chapter of an alternative EU deal, written by renowned trade experts Shanker Singham, Robert MacLean and Hans Maessen.
It plots a way forward which would deliver the real prizes of Brexit such as global free trade deals and regaining control for the British people.
It solves the problem of the Irish backstop which has so plagued negotiations. It preserves a transition period and prepares the way for a Canada style free trade agreement between the UK and the EU. It solves the backstop problem by making use of existing streamlined customs procedures already in use across the world.
These are the same arrangement which Michel Barnier would have been happy to impose when he suggested a customs border in the Irish Sea.
It avoids a hard border, respects the Good Friday Agreement and removes the challenge to the territorial integrity of the UK. It enables a smooth UK withdrawal and avoids an attempt to exercise jurisdiction in the territory of a non-Member State by the EU.
This means the UK takes back control of borders, laws and money as the British people were promised.
It proposes a better deal for the UK and a better deal for the EU. Any failure by the EU to reach a deal acceptable to its nearest neighbour, closest ally and largest third-country market will have significant adverse political and economic consequences, within the EU and around the world.
Believe me as somebody who stared into the eyes of EU negotiators, they do not want the UK to leave without a deal, any more than we do.
So, we have an alternative Withdrawal Agreement ready and waiting on the shelf. I strongly advise the Government to present this to the EU immediately, along with a clear framework of a Trade Agreement.
Since this proposal builds on what has already been offered, there is very little reason for the EU to reject it. We need to show people across the EU that we have momentum and are moving towards a satisfactory solution.
This proposal is anything but nebulous! Frankly, future generations will not forgive us if we fail them.
Other solutions just will not wash. Some talk of a Norway deal as if it’s an easy middle way and a fashionable alternative. It’s not!
A Norway Deal could mean the EU controls 75 per cent of our laws.
At present Norway pays a financial contribution to the EU which is only slightly lower per capita than the UK’s EU membership contribution and they have largely given up control over immigration.
Even the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg says, “the EEA is probably not a good solution for Britain.” A Norway style path with continued free movement would not respect the result of the referendum and would be bad for Britain.
A second Referendum too is a non-starter. What message would it send to ignore the decisive verdict of the British people in the 2016 Referendum.
There is already huge suspicion of EU institutions and scheming politicians.
Making people vote again until they reach the verdict a self-appointed establishment desire is a sickening prospect and wrong.
The irony is that every last person pushing the so-called “People’s Vote” are doing so because thy hate the result of the first People’s Vote.
The British people delivered their view in the 2016 Referendum and that should now be honoured. Whatever happens we will depart the EU on March 29 because that is written in primary legislation.
So we have to make it work and we owe the British people our utmost efforts to do the best we can.
That’s why I want to step up No deal preparations in case such an exit is necessary. Plans for such an exit are already more advanced than some
A great deal of work has been done in Whitehall to prepare for all contingencies, but progress was delayed in March when the Treasury and Number 10 blocked the public phase of preparation.
This has put the programme behind by some months, but it can be recovered.
We should seek to secure bilateral arrangements with the EU on a ‘bare bones’ basis for aviation, data management, and the like as a matter of urgency.
In addition the Government can look at measures on VAT, hospitals, financial services, and farming to ensure we are ready.
We also need to guarantee funding for science and innovation to keep the UK’s competitive advantage and to complement the work done on programmes such as Horizon 2020.
Europe is itself making some changes spontaneously: only this week it approved its banks to use British Clearing Houses, because that was the only way to protect the European financial networks.
Such an approach actually makes obtaining a deal more likely as the EU realise more and more that we are serious. They know that a World Trade Organisation deal will enable the UK to strike Free Trade Agreements around the world.
Freed from alignment with the EU, the UK will be able to pursue trade deals with countries like Australia, New Zealand, India, China, the United States, Singapore and Japan who have a combined GDP of 40.9 trillion dollars.
All of these countries say they want trade deals with the UK. On Friday, Switzerland committed to a free trade deal in all circumstances.
There is a credible alternative to the present shambles. Quite literally, if the UK has the will there is a way. Then we can seize the Brexit prize.
Let’s take it and give the people of Britain the future they deserve.
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