The great Brexit fisheries betrayal – it gets worse

Michael Gove and Theresa May between them are letting down our fishing industry when there is no need for them to do so. It seems that our Prime Minister is willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of thousands of men to save her skin after finding herself outplayed by the EU.

The parallels between Mrs May and her predecessor are becoming more apparent by the day. When David Cameron headed for Brussels to re-negotiate our membership in late 2015, it does appear that he genuinely believed that he could wring concessions out of the other 27 member states and come back with a deal which would be acceptable to the majority of the electorate. However, he set off with no well-thought out model in mind of how the UK could function in a semi-detached manner from Brussels – still within the EU but somehow pursuing a different path. Unsurprisingly, he got nowhere, only gaining a few minor cosmetic concessions rightly described by Jacob Rees-Mogg as “thin gruel“. Undeterred, Cameron ploughed on, tried to avoid admitting that his renegotiations had got nowhere, lost the referendum and resigned.

For Cameron’s “renegotiation”, read Theresa May’s “deep and special” relationship. From the start, it was based on wishful thinking with no clear idea either of the details of the relationship nor – and more  importantly – of how the EU works. Optimism that a trade deal would be easy to agree because of regulatory convergence soon dissipated as Michel Barnier repeatedly spelt out the EU’s intention to preserve the single market at all costs. Mrs May may not have realised what being a “third country” meant when she took over as Prime Minister and it is conceivable that the full implications still haven’t dawned on her, but she has been told in no uncertain terms that the EU is not going to give its former member preferential treatment.

What is more, having offered us thoroughly humiliating terms for any transitional period, the EU is already starting to talk tough about a final trading arrangement. All the indications are that in the critical area of fishing, she will roll over once again.

Just to remind ourselves, both Michael Gove and Mrs May consistently stated that we would leave the Common Fisheries Policy on 29th March 2019 and take back control of our Exclusive Economic Zone. However, the transitional deal does no such thing and both the Prime Minister and Mr Gove have been put on the defensive. Even after admitting that he had tamely surrendered on fishing, Mr Gove, questioned by the Lib Dem MP Alastair Carmichael, said:-

“There is a significant prize at the end of the implementation period, and it is important that all of us in every area accept that the implementation period is a necessary step towards securing that prize. For our coastal communities, it is an opportunity to revive economically. For our marine environment, it is an opportunity to be managed sustainably. It is critical that all of us, in the interests of the whole nation, keep our eyes on that prize.”

Other awkward questions have been deflected by saying “But we want to leave the CFP – and indeed the EU;  you don’t” or words to that effect. It is a smokescreen to disguise the betrayal of our fishermen. It is a complete myth that if we can endure 21 months of EU control of fisheries, all will be wonderful at the end of transitional period.  The EU’s new discard ban means that any fishermen who has used up his quota for just one species may not fish again that year. Fishing for Leave has not hid its anger. it intends to “mobilise and show our absolute disgust and heartbreak at our own government capitulating and sacrificing Britain’s fishing grounds and coastal communities to continued EU mismanagement.” Watch this space!

Of course, there is an element of points scoring by the other political parties who are making the most of the government’s discomfort on this subject, but it would be wrong to say that MPs like the SNP’s Brendan O’Hara of Argyll and Bute was acting purely from cynical motives when he said, “I strongly advise the Prime Minister to read SNP fishing policy before she comments on it, as she has it spectacularly wrong. Will she explain to the fishing communities of Argyll and Bute why she has agreed to a deal that keeps them in the CFP without a voice? Is that not the worst possible deal that her Government could have achieved for our fishing communities?”

He is quite correct – it is the worst possible deal. What has been overlooked by many commentators on this subject is the draft exit document contains the following in Article 125 part 4: “Without prejudice to article122(1) , the relative stability keys for the allocation of fishing opportunities referred to in paragraph 1 of this article shall be maintained.”

(Paragraph 1 relates to article 43(3) TFEU : The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt measures on fixing prices, levies, aid and quantitative limitations and on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities.)

The relative stability keys are an allocation percentage per EU country by species for the sharing out of the quotas. The paragraph above makes it clear that EU can change them, allowing them to take what they like out of UK waters. In that case, it will be of little consequence whether or not the EU  insists on access to UK waters as part of a long-term trade deal. there will be no fishing industry left in our country anyway.

Yet all Mrs May can say in the face of rising cross-party anger about the sell-out of our fishing industry is, by implication, to criticise the fishermen. She said “Although I recognise that not everyone will welcome the continuation of current trading terms for another ​21 months, such an implementation period has been widely welcomed by British business because it is necessary if we are to minimise uncertainty and deliver a smooth and successful Brexit.” Who else could she be referring to when mentioning those who will not welcome 21 months of the current trading terms?  Fishermen can clearly be sacrificed to keep everyone else happy. She also dodged a question from Jeremy Corbyn when he raised the subject as one of a number of questions about the government’s change of  tack over Brexit:-

Our coastal and fishing communities were told by the Environment Secretary only this month: “The Prime Minister has been clear: Britain will leave the CFP”— common fisheries policy— “as of March 2019.” Just a few weeks later, we find out that that will not be the case”, he said. The Prime Minister replied to some of his other comments but studiously ignored the issue of fishing.  

Our friends in Fishing for Leave have many years of campaigning experiences and do not intend to roll over.  Do not be deceived by the support from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation for this deal. This organisation represents those who have bought quota, not ordinary fishermen, who are absolutely livid.

It is possible that fishing could be the issue which provokes the crisis we have long been expecting. To repeat what we said then,   “it may require some senior heads to roll if the transitional blind alley is to be averted. it is a case of holding on to your hats.” Indeed; a Brexit which throws away what could have been a success story and sacrifices  thousands of UK jobs is no Brexit at all.

The fantasy of a “frictionless” trade agreement

Mrs May and Mr Davis’ oft repeated aspiration for ‘frictionless’ trade with the European Union (EU) via a free trade agreement (FTA) and mutual recognition of standards will in reality consign the United Kingdom to being a permanent EU vassal stateBrexit will be in name only, with “stay, pay, obey without a say” being the outcome of their mishandling the Brexit negotiations.  The transition agreement, which turns the UK into an EU vassal state thanks to completely caving in to unreasonable demands by the EU, is a forerunner of even worse things to come. The transition deal (partially agreed, although a long way from being ratified) is vastly inferior to the deal which they could have obtained, but rejected out of hand as far back as Mrs May’s Lancaster House speech 17th January 2017. We could have retained our membership of the Single Market (and wider European Economic Area, EEA) through re-joining, even temporarily, The European Free Trade Association, EFTA. This alternative, also known as the ‘Norway Option’, could have delivered practically ‘frictionless’ trade and a soft border on the isle of Ireland.

At the heart of Mrs May and Mr Davis’ highly risky, far-fetched and delusional approach to Brexit is a failure to understand the nature of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA), EFTA’s working relationship with the EEA including the EEA Agreement, mutual recognition of standards and how world trade works.  They make the most basic mistakes and repeat factually incorrect or incomplete statements to support their contradictory desire to leave the Single Market while retaining the same level of market access through an FTA.  They appear unwilling to take cognisance of readily available facts that completely disprove their fatuous mantras.

The details of what will happen after the UK leaves the EU (and the EEA) are there for anyone to see on the EU’s dedicated website  – especially in the increasing number of “Notices to Stakeholder”s under Brexit preparedness) It makes somewhat chilling reading.  There is nothing equivalent on the Department for (not) Exiting the European Union’s website. Presumably either they haven’t done this vital work or have chosen not to share it – a truth too awful to tell?

Upon leaving the EU and the EEA we would become a ‘third’ country. We would then be subject to different requirements by the EU in order,  at best, to manage the risks (to consumers and others) of doing business with us (or any other ‘third country’ outside the Single Market or EEA) and, at worst, to erect protectionist trade barriers in favour of domestic EU enterprises.  From the EU’s perspective, they will not grant concessions to ‘third’ country suppliers outside their control which are not enjoyed by EU domestic suppliers, especially when these could increase risks or create an ‘unfair’ competitive advantage.  The EU also has to treat the UK the same as any other ‘third’ country in order to comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed requirements or principles.

The EU is developing the Single Market by harmonising standards, regulations, and enforcement or surveillance within a top down centralised legalistic and bureaucratic framework under their supervision and control. It is also a long-established declared ambition that ‘third’ countries (outside the EU, or wider European Economic Area, EEA) would adopt or follow at least some EU-style measures.  The EU’s approach (to products) 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 .

For the EU, mutual recognition of standards (which differ from theirs) has limited application, since it is not their preferred choice where harmonised standards (in their widest context) exist.  In any case, there is the practical complexity and increased cost of demonstrating equivalence and compatibility, which can be far from straightforward and unacceptable to consumers and users.  To take a simple illustration, traffic lights using green on top for ‘stop’ and red underneath for ‘go’ certainly provides equivalent functionality but are far from compatible and acceptable.  Also test values from subtly different tests may mean a product is (theoretically) less safe rendering it unacceptable or requiring expensive (or impractical) re-design, which in turn may invalidate other test results and/or existing certification/approvals.  (See also the Fallacy of Easy Mutual Recognition of Standards).

The EFTA/EEA option is not perfect, but is far more favourable to the UK’s interests than the transitional deal on offer or indeed, to what will eventually emerge as Mrs May’s FTA and ‘deep and special relationship’. Norway participates in the EEA through membership of EFTA. Actually it only implements EU legislation necessary for functioning of the EEA, which at most constitutes around 25% of the total EU acquis or system of laws. More than 90% of these EEA related laws reportedly originate in global bodies, meaning the UK would need to implement them anyway for global trade, unless we leave the World Trade Organisation (WTO), et al. Also the EFTA route to EEA membership gives members outside the EU a say in EU legislation affecting the EEA, is largely free (although ‘voluntarily’ Norway does contribute to regional development funds) and is outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). What is more, EFTA members make their own trade agreements with other countries.

Contrary to statements by M. Barnier and Mrs May about the four indivisible freedoms, EFTA/EEA membership contains the facility to control immigration. Two members of EFTA have unilaterally invoked Article 112 (the Safeguard Measures) of the EEA Agreement to restrict free movement – Liechtenstein for people and Iceland for capital. The UK could do so too if we retain membership of the EEA by re-joining EFTA.  Ironically, Articles 112 and 113 of the EEA agreement, which Mrs May rejects, are reproduced closely by the EU in their draft Withdrawal Agreement, Article 13 (Protocols NI), allowing the EU unilaterally to restrict freedom of movement (including immigration into the EU from the UK).

Continuing membership of the EEA solves the problem of maintaining a soft border in Ireland between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, thus avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK (something Mrs May has ruled out, for the moment).  It also gives us full control of fishing in our Exclusive Economic Zone.  The EEA agreement (for EFTA members) can be adapted to suit their interests.  Thus the UK (within EFTA) could get a bespoke version.  So we could ‘imitate, adapt and improve’ on the existing EEA agreement to suit our needs rather than follow an insular and amateurish effort to ‘re-invent the FTA wheel in a few months’ that isn’t going anywhere.

From the beginning, the EU negotiators completely dominated the Brexit negotiations. It was inevitable then that negotiating concessions (or cave-ins) would be made by weak, dithering and clueless Mrs May and Mr Davis to strong, decisive and professional M. Barnier and his team. Comparing the EU’s draft Withdrawal Agreement with the text agreed by the UK shows just how much the increasingly uncompromising EU is getting its way.  Worse still, the EU is getting away with demands that are over and above those necessary for trade, with more already in the pipeline (such as fishing, defence, defence procurement, locking UK into EU budgets etc.).  If you thought the Transitional Deal was bad, wait until you see the final withdrawal agreement and the FTA.

How to rid ourselves of the European Arrest Warrant





© by Torquil Dick-Erikson, 24/3/2018

Not just EAW arrests, but all arrests made on no evidence, such as those suffered by Lauren Southern, and others.

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

Theresa May and Amber Rudd want it to continue indefinitely, in a Security Treaty to be signed between the UK and the EU, even after Brexit.

Here is the shocking interview of Lauren Southern by Tommy Robinson,

Ms Southern, a Canadian citizen aged 22, was subjected to a banning order by the British authorities, preventing her from entering the UK, on grounds that she intended to interview Tommy Robinson, who they said was a “right-wing, racist leader”. On a previous visit she had distributed leaflets saying that “Allah was a Gay God” – as an experiment to test the reaction of the public and the authorities, and to verify the extent to which freedom of speech is curtailed now in the UK.

Not only was she banned from entering, she was also detained by Kent police for 3 days. During this time they telephoned her father in Canada to tell him that they were holding her under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, although they had no reason to suspect her of being a terrorist. Her father recorded the conversation.

It is indeed shocking, that people are now being detained, as Ms Southern was, on no evidence of wrong-doing. And as indeed happens regularly with the EAW, although there is in that case the (fake) excuse that the foreign authority issuing an EAW “must” already have evidence, although in fact the foreign authorities don’t have to have any evidence under their own Napoleonic laws as I explained during the CIB conference that Lord Pearson kindly hosted in March last year.

What happened to Ms Southern is a clear breach of Magna Carta, section 38. This (usually unnoticed) section is the basis of Habeas Corpus, which prevents people from being arrested and imprisoned on no evidence.

In their incredible 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 been already collected BEFORE legal proceedings, such as an arrest, are started. In continental jurisdictions they often 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.

Ms Southern and Tommy Robinson talk about legal redress for her dreadful experience at the hands of the British State. Might I suggest that what she suffered was an abuse of due process, indeed a perversion of justice, at the hands of the Kent police officers who detained her thus, on NO EVIDENCE. Her Habeas Corpus rights were VIOLATED.

Now if Ms Southern brings a case against the Kent police for unlawful detention (or some such offence, maybe false imprisonment…?), the Kent police might put forward the counter-argument that the PTA provisions gave them that power, and, since it comes after Magna Carta and indeed after the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 (and any subsequent modifications), it over-rides those guarantees under the doctrine of implied repeal.

This counter-argument can be invalidated as follows:

There 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. 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 their defence’s arguments: their defence had argued that the 1985 Weights and Measures Act, which allowed market produce to be sold in lb and/or kg, was subsequent to the 1972 ECA (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 WMA1985 over-rode that part or that effect of the ECA1972 under the doctrine of implied repeal, whereby if there be a conflict between laws then the subsequent law is deemed to have over-ridden 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 ECA1972, 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 and to Eurosceptics in general, 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 worth hearing, so the decision of the Appeal Court acquired the status of LEGAL PRECEDENT, which as every law student knows, is now binding on all 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. However what Laws and Crane established is the principle that Parliament cannot change the constitution by implied repeal.
  5. So 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.

So if in a case against the Kent police charging them with unlawful detention or false imprisonment, their defending counsel should argue that the PTA1972 over-rides any provisions of Magna Carta 1215 or indeed Habeas Corpus, under “implied repeal”, the counter-argument could be to say that Magna Carta has CONSTITUTIONAL status, and so has Habeas Corpus. Therefore if the PTA1972 had been intended to over-ride it 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.

After all the public razzmatazz (on both sides of the North Atlantic) about celebrating our Magna Carta heritage in 2015, I would like to see a judge having the brazen face to deny that Magna Carta has Constitutional Status! And since Ms Southern is a Canadian citizen, and Ms Pettibone (who was also so detained) is a US citizen, and both countries proclaim Magna Carta as a founding document of their – and our – civilization, I think that this argument ought to have the power to crush these miserable bureaucrats who try to steal our liberties.

As indeed was the original intention of those who drafted it, all those centuries ago.

And indeed as commentators from Coke to Churchill have repeated down the ages.

Previous attempts to get us out of the tentacles of the EU through the law courts have failed. Largely owing to the unwillingness of the judges to go against Parliament. And to the general climate of opinion which was held to be in favour of EU membership.

But now that Brexit has won the referendum, and the government is officially in favour, some judges might at least be willing to follow the precedent of the Appeal Court’s Laws and Crane…. who will thereby be hoisted with their own petard!

Torquil has also brought to our attention another appalling example of why we must leave the EAW – the case of a Catalan Professor at St. Andrews University who faces possible extradition to Spain.

Fishing – Keep up the pressure!

Most readers will have head about Fishing for Leave’s demonstration against the surrender of our fishing industry outside Parliament yesterday. Although a much smaller scale event than the flotilla of fishing boats which sailed down the Thames in June 2016, a valid point was made.

Growing Parliamentary opposition to the surrender on fishing could scupper the whole transitional deal, which would  unquestionably be a good thing. In order to keep up the pressure on our MPs, if you haven’t already done so, please sign this petition and pass it on to your friends.

Fishing could be a real Brexit success story. It is an iconic industry and fishermen enjoy widespread public support, especially given their scandalous treatment since 1973 in order to join the European project. The Government has apparently been taken aback by the scale of the protest over the surrender on fishing. Sadly, as the linked article suggests, this suggests that “Theresa May’s team has never entirely “got” Brexit”. Perhaps, but this is no excuse for such an unnecessary sell-out and we must make it very clear to them that it is unacceptable.


An Irish view on the current state of Brexit

By Anthony Coughlan


Dear British Friends,

May I send you for your information a consensus assessment on the current EU/UK negotiations by a group of Irish lawyers and economists who are sympathetic to Brexit that has been convened by the undersigned.

We can now begin to see the outline of what might happen in the UK/EU negotiations. We see events unfolding broadly as follows:-

(a) The UK and the EU reach an agreement (including about the divorce bill) that gives the UK access to the single market while allowing the UK to leave the customs union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ and to control its borders regarding free movement of people… NO CHANCE.

(b) The talks break down and are abandoned with the UK and the EU going their separate ways next March … UNLIKELY

(c) Agreement is reached at a Heads of Government summit in early 2019 that meets the UK’s basic requirements, including about the divorce bill and access to the single market but involves free movement of people continuing in practice if not in theory … UNLIKELY

(d) The House of  Commons overrules the Brexit vote and the UK abandons Brexit … UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE 

(e) – (1) Following the refusal  of the House of  Commons to overturn the Brexit vote, there is a second summit in Brussels and agreement is reached broadly along the lines of (c )… UNLIKELY

(e) – (2) Following the refusal of  the House of Commons to overturn the Brexit vote, the UK accepts tough terms in a  bitter summit that restores the UK’s independence but on economic terms that are difficult and that will require the British to dig deep to swallow …. LIKELY

We do not believe that (c) will be the outcome as the EU is banking on (d), as is Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Establishment generally, so it would be irrational of them to make any concessions ahead of (e) night.

It is not in the interest of the EU Commission negotiating team to concede anything until (d) is tested to destruction in the House of Commons and elsewhere.  If (d) is indeed the outcome it will be a great victory for the Euro-federalists/career federalists but the political situation in Britain will become highly unstable.

Scenario (d) has become more likely as Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues have sniffed the possibility that Labour might get into office following a general election if Mrs May’s Government can be defeated on Brexit in the House of Commons

The Remainer interest in the UK is increasingly determined to reverse Brexit. Tony Blair’s involvement was to be expected but one would have expected John Major,  as someone who said “No” to the euro, to support an agreed UK position based on the democratic decision of the British people in the 2016 referendum.  One would have expected him to recognize that the EU is not as strong as it believes itself, and portrays itself, to be and that a united United Kingdom could secure an adequate deal. However, for whatever reason (perhaps City pressure) he has joined the Remainer interest.

Clearly, behind the scenes, the British Establishment, notably the City but also the media, has been bringing very, very heavy pressure to bear on decision-makers to abandon Brexit. The British Government is reluctant to have a second referendum – such a proposal might get through Parliament but would split the Tory party probably permanently, but that is less important to the Remainer interest than reversing Brexit.

They are reluctant not only because they might lose a second referendum but because it would put Britain into the same category as Ireland so far as EU bullying is concerned.

Their second option would be a general election but that could  return Corbyn. So every effort will be made to reverse Brexit through the House of Commons. That makes Corbyn the pivotal figure in the coming period. It is also the reason why in Ireland Sinn Féin is coming under pressure from the Irish Establishment to reverse its abstentionist policy and attend at Westminster and vote against Mrs May and the DUP on Brexit.

UK democrats who accept the British people’s referendum vote need to know who the key players are in the drive to reverse Brexit. They are the European Commission, the Irish Government and Establishment, and the British Remainers.

The Commission opposes Brexit because it could well mean the end of the … EU Commission. The Irish Government and Establishment oppose it because it throws into sharp relief the decision of the Irish State to reject two solemn constitutional referenda on EU issues and Irish policy at present is being made entirely by career federalists.  And the British Remainers oppose Brexit because some of them have lost their nerve while others have contempt for democracy.

Brexiteers  need to be clear and blunt about who is trying to reverse Brexit and why. It may get rough and nasty but they have no other choice. They need to ask why people like John Major have failed to see how weak the EU is and why some Remainers, who are democrats but who have lost their nerve, have failed to see that, other than the three groups trying to reverse Brexit, the rest of the EU – namely the Governments of the Member States apart than Ireland and the media and opinion formers in those Member States – have accepted Brexit and would be quite happy to see a reasonable deal being done.

It is our view that it will only be after D-Day has passed next March and Brexit has legally proceeded – unless is has been reversed by the House of Common before then – that a  UK/EU deal will be done.

At some point, the Member States on the Continent are bound to call time on the Ireland issue, whose significance has been grossly exaggerated. Their embassies in Dublin will be telling them that North/South trade within Ireland is tiny by comparison with Republic/British trade and minute in comparison with EU trade as a whole.

Their Dublin embassies will also be telling them that the UK’s proposal to treat most Irish cross-border North-South trade, which is small and local, as something essentially to be finessed by trusted-trader and associated arrangements, makes every sense.

Their embassies will also be telling them that the British and Irish Governments should do a deal on cross-border trade so that it is taken off the table as a problem. Such a deal could be done.

Their embassies will be telling them that the Northern Ireland is, increasingly obviously, being used in an attempt to reverse Brexit and that the Continental Member States should not stand for that any longer.

All the weeping and gnashing of teeth by the Irish Establishment about how incompetent the British supposedly are in the negotiations is just another way of saying, as Peter Sutherland said the day after the UK referendum, that Brexit must be overturned.

The Irish Establishment is so saturated in europhilia that it refuses  to face up to the fact that the  Republic and its people would be much better off if they left the EU along with the UK  – thereby  instantly removing any North-South Border problems.  While numerous studies have been commissioned on the bad effects of Brexit on Ireland if the UK leaves the EU while the Republic remains in it, it is a startling fact that not a single study has been made of the pros and cons of the Republic leaving the EU alongside the UK, apart from that mentioned below.

What matters now is that Brexit goes ahead legally next March, and not the detailed terms for the post-Brexit period, which will be open to evolution anyway.  One might recall the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which was regarded as quite limited at the time but which the Irish Free State built on and went on to establish complete Irish independence.

Once the UK is out of the EU, trade will continue as traders like to trade, have always traded and always will. Far too much emphasis is being placed on the details of the post-Brexit trade agreement because that is what bureaucrats and journalists know about. They know very little about trade.

Although the EU is much weaker as an entity than most people believe it to be , or portray it as –  a weakness which the European Commission has been exploiting in the negotiations so far – the Continental Member States  are more than strong enough collectively to assert themselves and overrule the Commission/Irish Government Axis that has been running the show, on the EU side, since the negotiations began – if and when they come to a realization that THEIR interests require them to do that.

N.B.  The group of Irish lawyers and economists who are responsible for this statement produced a Private Study Paper last year, “Why Brexit should be accompanied by Irexit (Ireland Exit)”, drafted by the undersigned, which is available on request at a cost of £10/€15.

Anthony Coughlan


(Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin)

Draft Exit Agreement: Deep concerns over defence component

This is a comment from Lt-General Jonathon Riley (ex-ISAF deputy commander) and ex-military colleagues expressing deep concerns over the defence component of the Draft Exit Agreement:

“The exit agreement shows that the Cabinet Office does not intend to regain the defence autonomy it gave away on paper in 2017.

As a result of a below-radar deal reached 15 months ago, the UK will now be transitioning via a third country arrangement, that provides a u-bend route for the UK to come back fully under EU authority in the future.

Political commentators in academia and the media are largely yet to grasp the small print of what is really going on. By that time, it will of course be too late.

It’s not wise to stand still in setting concrete and that’s what this transition agreement amounts to in terms of defence.”

Lt-Gen Riley is ex-ISAF deputy commander and a former commander of UK forces sent to Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Iraq.

His cosignatories to the statement are:

Maj-Gen Julian Thompson (former commander of landings in the Falklands),

Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott (former Flag Officer Submarines, NATO Commander Submarines Eastern Atlantic)

Professor Gwythian Prins

(with thanks to our colleagues in Veterans for Britain for this article)