Mrs May’s flimsy free trade agreement with the EU

If and when Mrs May, Mr Davis and the Department for (not) Exiting the European Union eventually  finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), it could potentially render the UK somewhat powerless against EU hegemony.  It will most certainly not be “taking back control” in any meaningful sense of the term, instead it will give the EU carte blanche to ‘turn the screws’ on the UK any time it wishes.  This potentially painful situation arises as a consequence of how the Single Market, the EU and our own Government, including the Civil Service, functions.

As first stated in her Lancaster House speech 17th January 2017, Mrs May recklessly decided to leave the Single Market (and the wider European Economic Area, EEA) when the UK notionally leaves the EU on 29th March 2019. As a result, under current plans, we will become either a temporary or permanent Vassal State of the EU. In place of membership of the Single Market, she is proposing an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which, she hopes, will offer a continuation of existing stable ‘frictionless’ trade with other Member States of the EU and avoid trade ‘falling off a cliff’.  In the real world, trade deals with the EU are usually complex and slow to negotiate, taking several years. However, Mrs May and Mr Davis still believe it can be negotiated and finalised in a matter of months. At first, they hoped to have everything signed, sealed and delivered before next March when we leave the EU. Now they are aiming for 31st December 2020, 21 months later, following what the EU calls the “transition period” although misleadingly referred to by Mrs May et al the ‘Implementation Period’.

By any standards, the negotiating timescale for the FTA is very short and likely to be further shortened due to delays in fully agreeing the necessary terms within the Withdrawal Agreement for the Transition Period. Given Mrs May’s desperation for a deal, the ticking clock is a recipe for concessions being made on the UK side. Unless closely monitored and exposed, the many mistakes and concessions she is likely to make may well only show up later when both parties start implementing the complex and wide-ranging FTA.  Shortcuts and inadequate assessment of the details and their consequential implications are likely to be the order of the day.

The British negotiating side is further hampered through a general lack of motivation and expertise in intra-governmental negotiations in Government, Parliament and the Civil Service.  After kowtowing to the EU and its executive (the European Commission) for 43 years, our government has lost much of the acumen necessary to govern a sovereign country competently and responsibly. In any case the responsibility (‘competence’) for negotiating FTAs rests with the EU.

Once competence built up over many years is outsourced to the EU, it is rapidly lost and extremely difficult to reacquire in a short period.   The Civil Service, reduced to little more than a rubber-stamping organisation for EU directives could prefer to remain under EU leadership as it makes for a quieter decision-free and responsibility-free life.  This would explain their willingness to acquiesce to EU demands.  This seems to be the case with defence and defence procurement where the plan appears to be for increasingly close integration with the EU.

The EU negotiators, on top of their subjects, are running rings around our negotiators, who are repeatedly caving in to their demands and agenda. The EU’s negotiators are demonstrating a level of competence that is far superior to that of Mrs May, Mr Davis and Department for (not) Leaving the European Union.  Their dedicated website and Notice to Stakeholders (under Brexit preparedness) are not replicated on this side of the Channel.  A major consequence has been that the EU has effectively been in the lead all the time, dictating the terms for the negotiations and setting demands far outside what they are reasonably entitled to. For example, Article 50 negotiations were originally intended to cover financial arrangements for a Member State leaving the EU, nothing more.  Now, however, the EU wants to control UK fishing during the Transition Period through a continuation of the Common Fisheries Policy and still to manage our fishing afterwards – at least, what little is left of it – by treating it as a common resource.  The EU’s position is becoming more uncompromising slipping in further demands outside those strictly necessary for trade.

Another major weakness on the UK’s side is a lack of understanding of how the EU and the Single Market (or wider EEA) function.  The aspirations of ‘frictionless’ trade through an FTA and a soft border on the island of Ireland cannot be achieved by anything so far suggested by the UK side, as the EU has repeatedly pointed out.  Leaving the Single Market (or wider EEA) on 31st December 2020 (when the Transition Period is meant to end)  makes the UK into a ‘third’ country, nominally outside EU control, and subject to the same treatment as any other ‘third’ country trading with the Single Market (or wider EEA).  It is membership of the Single Market AND NOT THE CUSTOMS UNION which delivers customs cooperation between Member States across a range of products and frictionless internal trade.

The EU’s approach to most products within the Single Market is outlined in principle in COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Enhancing the Implementation of the New Approach Directives and in more detail in the EU’s Guide to the implementation of directives based on the New Approach and the Global Approach and encapsulated in EU law in REGULATION (EC) No 765/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 9th July 2008 setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 339/93.

The EU’s guide, in describing the processes involved and their overall approach, also provides an indication of where future problems could occur and how out of touch with reality Mrs May and Mr Davis are.  At any time the EU can legally ‘turn the screws’ on us when it comes to trade.  Mutual Recognition of Standards or an FTA will not make much – if any – difference, simply because the EU’s negotiators will make sure they don’t.  They don’t have much alternative since to cave-in to UK demands would go against their direction of travel which was determined many years ago. Such a cave-in would set a precedent that could be exploited by other ‘third’ countries.

There is no guarantee that we will get to a Free Trade Agreement. The Transition Deal and Withdrawal Agreement are still far from finalised and, as the EU have stated many times, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.  However sacrificing UK fishing, defence and agreeing to continue to adopt existing and future EU laws et al in the hope of one day achieving a free trade utopia is delusional and incompetent.  Hopefully reality will dawn – in particular, the horrific electoral consequences for the Conservative Party of such an abject surrender – in time to change tack. It is not too late for Mrs May to cut off negotiations and pursue a faster, safer and simpler approach to leaving the EU – for example EFTA/EEA explained in some detail in Brexit Reset.  Is it too much to hope that our latter-day Chamberlain may net metamorphose into a Churchill or the second Iron Lady which we so desperately need? “No! No! No!” is the only language which the EU understands. They need to hear it loud and clear from Mrs May or she will soon be hearing it from disgruntled voters.

A rare piece of honesty – but bad news

When you are running a very long term campaign, it is surprising where the breaks come from, no more so than this written question from Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland.

Mr Alistair Carmichael: [135549] To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on what date the 1964 London Fisheries convention will cease to apply to the UK; and from that date all EU fishing vessels will be excluded from the UK’s 6 to 12 nautical miles zone.
George Eustice (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food): The 1964 London Fisheries Convention will cease to apply to the UK on 2 July 2019. During the implementation period, current access arrangements will continue, including access to the 6 to 12 nautical miles zone where permitted under current EU rules. After 2020, we will decide who can access our waters and on what terms. Any decisions about giving access to vessels from the EU, and other coastal states, to our waters will then be a matter for negotiation.

To give George Eustice his due, it was an honest answer although not what our fishing industry wants ot hear. There is, however, more to his answer than appears at first sight.

The UK Government gave two years notice at the beginning of July 2017 to leave the London 1964 Fisheries Convention (which gave certain EU Member States the rights to fish in our 6 to 12 nautical mile zone).

At that period of time, only 3 months into the two years period from invoking Article 50, the government thought that this slight overlap did not matter as we would be coming out of the EU, including the CFP, taking full control of the nation’s marine resource on 30 March 2019.

Because the Government, through wasting so much time, has ended up having to go cap in hand to the EU Commission for extra time, at the first demand from the EU, they surrendered their trump card – fishing. The date of so called exit is now 1st. January 2021

It is not just fishing. For 21 months, unless the government changes course, much of the running of the UK will be handed to the EU. The importance of Mr Carmichael’s question is that the answer clearly shows that the decision to surrender rests entirely with the UK Government, not with the electorate nor the opposition, nor even the EU.

The only other country to leave the EU (then EEC). has been Greenland. I remember it well. While we cannot draw too many parallels, it was noticeable then that Greenland’s negotiators took a bashing from their Brussels counterparts, but they knew their ground, stood firm, told the EEC to get their vessels out of Greenland waters and ended up with an excellent trade deal. What a contrast from our team! What an  unbelievable mess they have made. Greenland understood what control of their fishing waters meant and how important it was. Here in the UK, “control” will essential mean “EU control” as our spineless team of ministers allows Brussels to make all the running.

The Customs Union – stupidity or sabotage?

Regular readers of this blog will know without a shadow of doubt that there is nothing to be gained by remaining in the EU’s Customs Union. Well, dear readers, you can pat yourselves on the back for you are clearly much wiser than 348 members of the Upper Chamber of our Parliament.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, speaking in the debate preceding the vote, said “I do not recall at the time of the referendum any debate about a customs union.” He was perfectly correct in saying this. Staying in the customs union is such a daft idea that no one felt the need to bring the subject up.  As Dr Richard North points out,  “A customs union does not in any way eliminate a border, as we see with the borders between Turkey and EU Member States.” it is therefore no help in solving the Irish border question. 

He also makes the point that, as usual, the Press are all over the place in their reporting of yesterday’s vote. It was not a “big defeat” for the government as the amendment supported by 348 peers only forced “the government to explain what it has done to pursue remaining in a customs union”. In other words, suppose that some degree of light finally dawned and the government realised that there was no point in remaining in a customs union, all this “big defeat” would require them to do would be to say to their Lordships “not much”. Hardly the sabotaging of Brexit which the headlines seem to suggest.

For people looking for a way to keep the flow of trade moving in the immediate post-Brexit period, both across the Irish border and through the Channel Tunnel, it makes for more sense to visit the invisible border between Sweden and Norway rather than Turkey’s version of “Operation Stack” at Kapikule on its border with EU member state Bulgaria. Norway is not in the customs union; Turkey is.  Need one say any more?

The Government should finally lay to rest all this nonsense about a customs union. It should also abandon the current plans for a transitional deal. Further evidence of its inadequacies emerged yesterday  when Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, said that the UK would no longer be part of trade agreements negotiated by the EU with third countries  once we leave. Re-joining EFTA  as an interim arrangement would not only solve the Irish border issue but would address the issue of our trade with countries like South Korea and Mexico as EFTA has negotiated free trade agreements with virtually all the countries with which the EU has FTAs.

It remains a mystery to many observers why this sensible option isn’t being pursued. For all its well-known faults as a long-term relationship, as a stopgap arrangement it is far better than the arrangement currently being discussed with the EU. Adopting it would put to bed a number of issues which should have been dealt with well before now and thus enable the Brexit debate to move on after being stuck in the same groove for far too long

 

 

A deep and special fantasy world

Following the return of MPs to Parliament after the Easter Recess, their responses to recent Brexit developments will be closely watched. The lack of anger from Tory MPs thus far has been disappointing. The surrender on fishing in the draft transitional agreement has greatly upset the fishing community. It poses the question as to whether it would be right to sacrifice one of our historic industries even if we did end up with an all-singing, all-dancing deal at the end of 21 months. To destroy our fishing industry for a pure illusion is even worse, but this is what our government seems to be doing.

The “deep and special” relationship between the EU and the UK exists only in the minds of a few UK politicians; it is certainly not how the EU views its future links with a departing member state whose decision to leave the bloc was one of the biggest body blows it has ever faced.

Last week, David Davis announced plans to send “hundreds” of civil servants to Brussels to work on the deal. Within days, a senior EU source announced that this wasn’t going to happen. “There will be no negotiation strands, no ‘hundreds’ of British negotiators,” said an un-named diplomat.  “Trade negotiations will not start properly until after 29 March 2019. Before that we must get the fundamentals right,” the source said.

One important, unresolved issue is the status of Gibraltar, with Michel Barnier indicating that Spain will enjoy strong support from the other EU member states. Spain’s demands include the joint control of Gibraltar’s airport, cross-border cooperation on smuggling and ending what it sees as a tax haven with far lower corporation rates.

Yesterday’s Parliamentary written questions laid bare the depths of unreality which still pervade our government. Steve Baker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was anything but clear when questioned by the Labour MP Paul Blomfield. When discussing the transitional priod, he said “The agreement will be underpinned by a duty of good faith and governed by a Joint Committee to ensure it is faithfully and fully implemented by both sides.” As John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave asked, “Since when have the EU run on good faith?” Mr Baker also went on to say, “As we move towards our future partnership with the EU, we will need to discuss how we manage the relationship once we are two separate legal systems.” The legal divergence begins on 29th March 2019, when “the  treaties will cease to apply” to the UK.  There still seems very little idea, from the UK point of view,  how the UK will relate to the EU in the transitional period from a legal point of view. We may keep our laws in step with Brussels but they will have a different legal basis.

Discussions on Brexit in the House of Lords revealed the same sense of muddle. Questioned by Lord Taylor of Warwick, Lord Callinan said, “During the implementation period the UK will be in a continued close association with the EU Customs Union. This will ensure a smooth exit and minimise disruption for businesses. HMRC are confident that they are on track to deliver the functioning customs, VAT and excise regimes the UK will need once it leaves the EU.” It is hard to share HMRC’s confidence, especially as far as the Irish Border issue is concerned.

It is becoming apparent to anyone following these negotiations that the performance of Mrs May and David Davis has been completely pathetic. The EU has walked all over them.  We can but hope that opposition from Brexit-supporting MPs within their party is merely dormant and that they will make it loud and clear that they will not support the proposed arrangements, including the terms for a transitional deal, nor the surrender on fishing nor, indeed, the proposed close military cooperation.  Sooner or later, it will dawn on them that their party will pay heavily for a botched Brexit. it is in everyone’s interest for that moment to arrive as quickly as possible so that there is time to change tack.

 

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

The EAW is unconstitutional. Here is how it can be struck down

© by Torquil Dick-Erikson, 04/04/2018

Not just EAW arrests are unconstitutional, but so are all arrests made on no evidence.

This is the chief difference between an arrest made on a domestic arrest warrant and an arrest made on a European Arrest Warrant.

A domestic arrest warrant must be backed by evidence already collected, under our UK laws on Habeas Corpus, based on Magna Carta sec.38 (see below).

In contrast, under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems used in continental Europe, a suspicion based on clues held by the investigator (who usually wears a judge’s robe), is enough to order an arrest and an imprisonment. Then they seek evidence, while the suspect may languish in prison for months, with no right to a public hearing during this time. See details in my speech at the House of Lords, given on 15th March 2017. In this speech I also dealt with the inadequacy of the European Convention on Human Rights in this regard.

The injustice of the EAW when issued against a person in Britain is that the British court is not allowed to ask to see any evidence.  Often there is none, or so flimsy it would not stand up for 5 minutes in a UK court. When our MPs passed the Extradition Act of 2003 they surely assumed that all our EU “partners” must have a requirement for evidence similar to ours. The assumption was unfounded, as various cases since then have demonstrated, e.g. Andrew Symeou, or Colin Dines, a British judge forcibly transported to a prison in Rome.

This is the nub of the case of the Catalan Professor Clara Ponsati, and which, it is to be hoped, will be at the heart of the debate to be held in the Sheriff’s court in Edinburgh on April 12th next, or perhaps subsequently.

Here, in summary, is my suggestion as to how the EAW against her can be dismantled:

  1. She is accused by the Spaniards of “violent rebellion” and “misuse of public funds”. (It is clear that Prof. Ponsati has never used nor advocated violence, the use of the term shows bad faith on the part of Spain’s judiciary, an intention to smear her character before public opinion.)
  2. She should ask the prosecution to produce evidence of this.
  3. The court will respond that under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 this is not necessary, these are matters that will be dealt with by the Spanish courts, and her request will be refused.
  4. At this point she can quote Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta sec. 38, which stipulate that no legal proceedings can be started against anyone without evidence (see details below).
  5. The court will reply that the Extradition Act 2003 dispenses with the need for the foreign judicial authority to produce evidence to a British court, and its provisions supersede the earlier ones in Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta, by implied repeal.
  6. At that point she can say that Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta are CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, which are not subject to implied repeal, quoting the precedent of the Metric Martyrs judgement by Lords Laws and Crane (see details below).
  7. It then becomes apparent that the EAW is unconstitutional, repugnant to our Constitution, and invalid in the UK.

I cannot see how the Court can answer this. They might wish to refer it to the European Court of Justice, which of course will have no regard for our Habeas Corpus or Magna Carta safeguards (unknown in continental Europe), but at that point the matter takes on enormous public interest, not just in Scotland and Catalonia, but world-wide.

Two contrasting legal systems will be seen to be in conflict. Our Magna Carta based heritage, versus the Napoleonic-inquisitorial heritage of continental Europe (adopted in toto in the EU’s “Corpus Juris” proposal for a single EU-wide criminal code, which was rejected by the UK in 1999. The EAW is the first step towards Corpus Juris).

Domestic arrests, whether made in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, have to be supported by evidence of wrong-doing already collected by the investigators beforehand. To make sure that this happens, Habeas Corpus stipulates that an arrested person must appear in open court within hours, or at the most a few days (or in very extreme terrorist cases, 28 days), and there charged formally with a precise accusation. And if so required, the prosecution must be able to produce their evidence of a prima facie case to answer, at that hearing.

This fundamental right, which protects innocent people who are wrongly suspected of crime, descends from Magna Carta, section 38. This (usually unnoticed) section is the basis of Habeas Corpus, which prevents people from being arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily, on no evidence.

In their incredible and foresightful wisdom, 800 years ago, our forefathers laid down, in Latin – and the Latin is important – in just fifteen words, the basis of our freedom from arbitrary arrest and prosecution or persecution and harassment by officers of the State. It says:

“Nullus balivus ponat aliquem ad legem, simplici sua loquela, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis.”

In English:

“No legal officer (balivus, originally “bailiff”) shall put anyone to the law ie shall start legal proceedings against anyone (NB “anyone” “aliquem” – this is a universal human right, not limited to “free men”), on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses who have been brought for the purpose.”

N.B. Note the use of the past participle “aductis”: the witnesses, the evidence, must have already been collected BEFORE any legal proceedings, such as an arrest, are started. In continental jurisdictions they can, and often do, order suspects to be arrested first, and then, AFTERWARDS, they seek evidence. They are allowed to do this under the provisions of their own Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems, which are alien to our own Magna Carta heritage. This procedure, also called “fishing expeditions”, is NOT ALLOWED under Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus laws.

This means that nobody can be subjected to any legal act, like arrest or detention, without previously collected EVIDENCE.

Most people think the EAW is just about catching criminals. It is not. It is potentially a tool for tyranny. It is a threat to the freedom of the innocent. It can be wielded by the British authorities against suspects in Europe, but also by any European judiciary – however reputable or however dodgy – against any of us.

Here are some details of the case judged on Appeal which gives us the useful precedent, whereby Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta can trump the Extradition Act 2003 even though they were passed earlier.

It was a famous case some years ago, when some market traders in Sunderland were convicted and given a criminal record for having sold bananas by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram as had become compulsory under an order complying with an EU directive, issued under the legal force of the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA72). The defendants of this absurdly unfair conviction became known as “The Metric Martyrs”. They appealed against their conviction, but their appeal failed.

We must look at the reasons given, why their appeal was turned down.

When the Appeal Court Lords Laws and Crane confirmed the conviction of the Metric Martyrs, they gave a novel answer to the defence’s arguments: the defence had argued that the 1985 Weights and Measures Act (WMA85), which allowed market produce to be sold in lb and/or kg, was subsequent to the ECA72 (under whose provisions the order criminalising the sale of fruit by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram had been issued). Therefore, argued the defence, the WMA85 over-rode that part or that effect of the ECA72 under the doctrine of implied repeal, whereby if there be a conflict between laws then the subsequent law is deemed to have over-ridden and annulled the provisions of the earlier law.

Not so, said their Lordships. They said that the ECA72 had the status of a “constitutional act”, and so could not be over-ridden by subsequent legislation under implied repeal, but only if the repeal was explicitly spelt out in the text of the subsequent Act.

Since the WMA85 did not explicitly repeal any provisions of the ECA72, which it might have done by including words like “any provisions in or deriving from the ECA72 notwithstanding”, but didn’t, then in this case the earlier ECA72 must be held to prevail over the later WMA85. They even added, as a consolation “sop” to the defence, that Parliament is in any case free to repeal the ECA72 whenever it wishes, as long as it does so explicitly.

The Metric Martyrs now presented an appeal to the House of Lords, but it was thought that their appeal was not worthy of consideration, so the decision of the Appeal Court acquired the status of LEGAL PRECEDENT, which as every law student knows, is now binding on subsequent decisions.

This “innovation” by Laws and Crane can be summarised in general terms as follows:

  1. There are now two levels of law in the United Kingdom: a) Constitutional laws and b) Ordinary laws. There are different rules applicable if Parliament wishes to repeal any of them.
  2. In cases where there is a conflict between two ordinary laws, the later law is deemed to annul those provisions of the previous law in conflict with it, under the well-established doctrine of “implied repeal”, whereby that part of the earlier law, if found to be in conflict with the later, is declared null and void.
  3. In cases where there is a conflict between an ordinary law and a previous constitutional law, then the constitutional law is held to prevail over the ordinary law, UNLESS the subsequent ordinary law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law. Parliament can repeal any constitutional law by simple majority vote, for one bedrock rule of our constitution is that No Parliament Can Bind Its Successors. This is also the basis for the doctrine of implied repeal.
  4. So, what Laws and Crane established is the principle that Parliament cannot change the constitution by implied repeal.
  5. By the same token, if there is a conflict between two “constitutional laws”, then it must surely follow that UNLESS the subsequent constitutional law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law, then the preceding constitutional law prevails.

Therefore if the Extradition Act of 2003 had been intended to over-ride Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta sec. 38, it should have said so explicitly. In fact it did not abrogate section 38 of Magna Carta! Indeed section 38 is hardly ever talked about because, in the English-speaking world at least, it is considered too obvious that you need evidence of wrong-doing before starting legal proceedings against anyone.

To get round this, a UK court would have to deny that Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus had constitutional status, or Parliament would have to repeal them. It is highly doubtful that either would have the heart and stomach to do so. The wave of public anger and indignation would be overwhelming.

That the European Arrest Warrant is in fact incompatible with Habeas Corpus is dealt with by Jonathan Fisher QC in his learned Opinion (para. 4 page 2, and para.s 70-85 pages 19-22):

CIB Annual Rally 14 April 2018 – a Resounding Success

OUR RALLY THIS YEAR was very well attended and I have to express my gratitude to colleagues who helped with the arrangements, the people who attended and, of course, the impressive panel of speakers who held the keen interest of the audience throughout. It was gratifying to receive email congratulations from people who had attended.

The speakers were

STEVEN WOOLFE MEP (Independent) who gave a stirring call to arms for pro indpendence activists to work togetherand oppose the Remainers who want to overthrow the democratic decision of the British people.

BRENDAN CHILTON – National Organiser for Labour Leave whose passionate, Old Labour oratory is now directed to  campaign to ensuring  that the many Labour constituencies which supported a return to democracy are not betrayed..

AARON BROWN of Fishing for Leave – an equally rousing speaker for our often-betrayed fishermen. He points out that there is an opportunity to be free of the plundering European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)  – but only if we leave it on March 29th 2019. Without that, the proposed “transition” period would lock us into the terms of the CFP forever and a day.

DR LEE ROTHERHAM  Executive Director  of Veterans for Britain who has served in the Reserves for twenty years with three overseas deployments. He spoke won the dangers remaining after Brexit in the process of EU defence and Security Integration and the “deep and special partnership” in defence to which the government has already agreed.

DR. GRAHAM GUDGIN – Associate at the Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and co-editor of the Briefings for Brexit website. He was special advisor to the First Minsiter of Northern Ireland  from 1998 -2002 .For once, we heard an economist who was down to earth, devoid of jargon and  whom members could understand with clarity.

ALL THE SPEECHES WERE FILMED AND WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THIS WEBSITE SHORTLY.

Here is how we started the afternoon..

Opening Speech by Chairman, Edward Spalton.

We held our Annual General Meeting for members this morning, so it is a pleasure to welcome friends from the wider independence movement this afternoon to exchange views and to hear from our distinguished panel of speakers. CIB was founded in 1969 before we joined the EEC and has always been a cross-party organisation, comprising a wide range of political views but always united in the aim of restoring democratic self-government and independence to our country. In 1972, in spite of valiant efforts by our founders, we failed to stop the passing of the European Communities Act by a slim majority of 8 votes. What a lot of trouble we would have saved ourselves, if only we could have persuaded those few MPs to do their true duty by their country!

Last year I remarked that this year’s rally would be the last one held under our EU captivity, as the government had served the Article 50 Notice and, in accordance with its terms, the treaties would cease to apply from 29th March 2019 at the latest. But I had to add “unless the European Council in agreement with the member state concerned unanimously decides to to extend this period” (clause 3, `Article 50).

Well, it appears that the government and European Council have so decided in principle on an extended “transition” period of another twenty one months which can be further extended by joint agreement. So this 48th annual meeting and rally of the Campaign for an Independent Britain will not be the last one under de facto subjection to the EU’s laws even if the Article 50 Notice period has de jure expired.

The newsletter before this rally went to members before the announcement of this development, which was rather less triumphal than the press and media reports suggested – more just a matter of “kicking the can down the road”. Of recent months I have found Private Eye’s “Brussels Sprouts” column very concise and accurate. The most recent (No 1467 p 11) sums things up very well

….the impression of a breakthrough on all things from future trade to the 21 month transition is false: a deal is no closer and the Northern Irish border question is as vexed as ever….

.In substance, the Irish border dispute has always appeared synthetic: officials on both sides have recognised the reality of the new land border from the start…. While the EU argues that Northern Ireland must remain aligned with the EU on goods to avoid border controls and Brexiteer “ultras” claim that HM Revenue and Customs can solve everything with an electronic pre-clearance system, UK ministers accept that this would not obviate the need for border inspections ….A hard border in other words.

..Having said that “no British prime minister could ever agree to” the EU’s “backstop”, the prime minister quietly accepted it, should the two sides fail to agree a better arrangement…..

That has been the pattern with the Article 50 process: the EU tables a proposal that is angrily rejected, then quietly quietly and substantially agreed to later. With the EU making the running on almost every thorny subject, it’s no surprise that Davis & co are chasing the game”.

And the proposals, for what the EU calls the “transition” period and Mrs May the “implementation” period, are very thorny indeed, truly a vassal state situation with the UK, helplessly subject to every jot and comma of existing EU law, anything they choose to spring on us during the 21 months, subject to the sole interpretation and ruling of the European Court of Justice and – do not forget – capable of being extended.

For most years of our long struggle, I and most campaigners thought that leaving would be some, great, glorious single event when Britannia waives the rules. The European Union and other affected states would agree and we would continue our commercial relationships with them more or less as at present but as an independent country. Now we realise it is much more complex and that there will have to be a series of steps.

In the run-up to the referendum I was talking to one of our most determined, long-serving campaigners about what might follow.

“ We can’t just haul up the anchor and sail away” I said.

“Oh” said this lady – the sort of person without whom we we would never have got to a referendum – “ I do so wish we could”. It was deeply heartfelt and that is a feeling with which I can fully sympathise, having myself been opposed to our membership since 1972. We abhor our subjection to the European project but we would do well to remember who brought this evil upon us. The EU does have a dark side but in its various stages has always been pretty straightforward about its objective of political union. I must refer you to this quotation from 1947

No government dependent on a democratic vote could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifice that any adequate plan must involve. The British people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defences”.

That was written in a pamphlet called “Design for Europe” by Peter Thorneycroft, later Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chairman of the Conservative Party. So the British people who had spent all of their treasure and much of their blood, fighting a war to preserve freedom and democratic self government for themselves and others, were to be led “slowly and unconsciously” into a completely different form of government – of which they were to be kept in ignorance. That is the arrogance of the British promoters of the European project from the beginning.

It is in our own political class where the real, evil, sly, manipulative authoritarianism has lain – not so much with the EU itself.

The EU could have taken nothing from us without this deliberate concealment at the highest level of the state, by our own people who were sworn by their most solemn oath to uphold our sovereignty. And much of it was done not only in arrogance but later in ignorance too. Time and again at various crises, the governments of EU countries had to remind their British colleagues that they should “Go home and read the treaties” which they or their predecessors had signed.

Our leaders had not even bothered to do their homework and find out what they were signed up to. That is the negligence and contempt in which they held us, our rights and freedoms.

Recent events suggest that making good this ignorance is still necessary if we are to extricate ourselves in the most advantageous way, ensuring the smooth continuity of trade – on both sides – upon which prosperity depends. Businesses have to pay their wages and their bills every week and it is no use having some splendid, glorious conception of our ideal final terms of independence without knowing the steps we have to take to get there – minimising disruption and giving businesses ample, timely advice so they may adapt.

Another Europhile, Lord Hattersley, was more straightforward, speaking in a BBC programme in 2000 . “Not only was it wrong for us to deal superficially with what Europe involved, but we have paid the price for it ever since…Because every time there is a crisis in Europe people say, with some justification “Well, we would not have been part of this if we’d really known the implications”. This is the nearest thing to an apology which I have ever heard from any politician! Well, people did realise the implications and gave their verdict in the referendum.

Those two quotations are the first and last from our CIB booklet “A House Divided” – one of the series on sale today. All of them are deeply researched, written in clear, moderate terms and have been very handsomely designed by our Deputy Chairman, Philip Foster.

We still have a job on our hands, educating our MPs and peers on the size of the hole they have dug us into and how to get us out of it. We cannot do this without informed campaigners to remind them. Whilst we do not claim infallibility, we are sure that any campaigner who takes the trouble to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” these pamphlets will be better informed than many MPs and Ministers (as evidenced by many elementary mistakes in recent debates and statements in the media). As our representatives have not informed themselves, it is up to us to urge and help MPs achieve what Parliament already agreed by a large majority – to deliver the independence settlement, the verdict of the people in the referendum. No ifs and no buts about that! It is their duty and privilege to be the people’s servants.

I will now ask Philip to describe them. They consist of reliable, well-researched information, presented in a most attractive way with Philip’s great talent for design. Remember, these are all ammunition –effective weapons of mass liberation, powerful if you master them . We can provide them but you need to know well and practice how to handle them. Well-informed MPs and peers will then have no excuse for the ignorance and muddled thinking (feigned or real) behind which they have hidden for so long.