Taking on the remoaners

By Leo McKinstry

The anti-Brexit campaigners are the sorest losers in modern British history.   Instead of accepting the verdict of the EU referendum, they do all they can to thwart it. In their contempt for democracy, they mirror the arrogant spirit of the unelected, unaccountable Brussels oligarchy, which has always despised the notion of the popular will.

There are two central strands to the Remoaners’ cynical effort.   One is to fight against Brexit through the courts and Parliament, putting every possible legalistic obstruction in the way of the drive for British independence.  So they mounted a judicial review against Article 50, put down a deluge of amendments against the EU Withdrawal Bill and now try to galvanise the House of Lords into wrecking the Brexit legislation.  The other, perhaps more dangerous, strategy is to wage a ruthless propaganda war on behalf of the EU. Effectively, this is a reprise of the infamous Project Fear deployed by the Government in advance of the vote. Once again, we hear the same old scare stories:  that Brexit will be a disaster for the economy, trade and employment; that the process is so complicated that it cannot even be achieved in a decade; and that Britain will be left hopelessly isolated on the global stage.

The clear aim of the Remoaners is to create a climate of such anxiety, frustration and gloom over Brexit that the British people will turn against independence, either by demanding a second referendum or by pressurizing the Government into the abandonment of the entire process.  But this ruthless campaign cannot be allowed to succeed.    A surrender to the Remoaners would completely shatter faith in democratic politics in Britain.  It would show that even the majority cannot prevail against the establishment.   Amid profound public disillusion, the EU and the Europhiles would be triumphant.  Once again, Britain would be locked into the federal project, with all dreams of nationhood and a return to self-governance broken.    Such an outcome would be perhaps the greatest humiliation in our island story.

The best way to defeat the Remoaners is to demolish their arguments.    Already, the predictions of post-referendum meltdown could hardly look hollow.  George Osborne claimed that a vote for Brexit would lead to “an immediate economic shock” and a “DIY recession.”   Yet, almost two years after the referendum, economic growth is steady, the City of London is expanding, unemployment is at its lowest level since the 1970s and manufacturing order books are at their fullest since 1988.   Similarly, the Remoaners’ synthetic alarmism about the alleged negative impact of border controls – such as skill shortages – needs to be ruthlessly exposed. Far from damaging Britain, tougher immigration will raise living standards, promote social cohesion, lower social security bills and reduce.   After, as David Cameron once pointed out, no less than 40 per cent of EU migrants are actually dependent on welfare.

The British people need to be reminded that a return to the status quo in our relationship with the EU is not an option, for Brussels is bent on the creation of a federal superstate, where every vestige of national sovereignty has disappeared.  If Britain stays in the EU, we will become nothing more than a regional province of a bureaucratic empire. Indeed, the entire Remoaner message is one of defeatism, betraying a profound lack of confidence in our country. For centuries, Britain has been a great nation, the victor in two world wars, the creator of Parliamentary democracy and the pioneer of the Industrial Revolution, yet the pro-EU brigade that we are too enfeebled to survive on our own.   This unpatriotic, sneering disdain for Britain and its people shone through a recent outburst from the former diplomat Lord Kerr, author of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, who declared that “immigration is the thing that keeps the country going.   We native British are so bloody stupid that we need injections of intelligent people from outside.”   Such self-loathing attitude infuses the Remoaners’ movement.  That is why it is so laughable when they talk about the national interest.   There will be no nation at all if they have their way.

Taking Stock

Where are we with the Brexit negotiations and where would we like them to be going?

It’s hard to find any sort of consensus about the former, let alone the latter. Are we being led deliberately towards a Brexit in name only or are we about to see our side walk away from the negotiations and rely on so-called “WTO rules” to govern all our future international trade? Was Article 50 always a trap which was going to end up locking us into the EU?

Given the multiplicity of deeply-held views, this piece could end up being just one other person’s opinion. I hope not.  In summing up where we are now, I have read a fair number of different commentators and weighed their opinions before writing this summary.

Firstly, I think it is beyond dispute that the talks have not gone brilliantly from the UK’s point of view, but at least we can be thankful they did not grind to a halt last December as some had predicted.

David Davis and his team got off to a bad start by agreeing to the EU’s sequencing – in other words, “sufficient progress” had to be made on the Irish border issue, the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK and the “divorce settlement” before we could proceed to other issues. Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, there was no requirement for him to agree to this.

Next comes the transitional arrangement. This was our side’s idea and does not reflect well on our politicians and civil servants.  Not that long ago, we were hearing from some quarters that a trade deal between the EU and the UK would be “the easiest in human history” because of our regulatory conformity. It has since dawned on at least some politicians (although possibly not even all of them, even now)  that this isn’t the case.

The mistake is a very fundamental one because it reveals a profound ignorance of the purpose of the whole European project. We have always viewed the EU as a trading bloc – after all, that was what Edward Heath sought to emphasise in the early 1970s. He did occasionally talk about the sharing of sovereignty, but he didn’t exactly bend over backwards to  explain even to Parliament what we were joining. Of course, Heath knew the truth and now our team is having to learn the hard way. The EU is primarily a political project and trade issues are only a means to an end.

It is also a very rules-bound organisation. Belatedly, our team is discovering that “flexibility” is not a popular word in Brussels. Treaties with precise wording govern every aspect of the EU project. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, knows its workings inside out and unfortunately, comes across as far more on the ball than David Davis.

Is Barnier an ogre? Does he want to punish the UK? Is he merely a puppet whose strings are being pulled by Berlin? A delegation of pro-Brexit businessmen met him in Brussels recently. One of them, CIB Committee member John Mills, described him as “tough and charming“. Essentially, he wants these negotiations to succeed but not at the expense of the integrity of the EU’s single market.  The European project unquestionably took a knock when we voted to leave and he as much as any senior figure in the EU is committed to damage limitation and keeping the show on the road.  The EU has other crises on its hands and Brexit is an unwelcome distraction. After all, it was our decision to leave.  Given these factors, Barnier is merely sticking to the EU rulebook which he knows so well. There is no evidence of any personal animosity towards us our our politicians.  His biggest gripe is that we don’t seem to know what we want from Brexit.

This is essentially where our request for a transitional arrangement comes in. There have been pro-withdrawal groups, including the Campaign for an Independent Britain, even before we joined the European project in 1973. We have been good at arguing the case for independence and ultimately persuaded over 17 million voters of our point of view. We have been less good at explaining how we can leave seamlessly and this has been the root of the Government’s problems.

The Transitional deal, at least if it is negotiated according to the rules laid down by the European Parliament, will be very bad news for us.  It seems to be being pursued purely because the Government knows that a full trade deal will not be ready by March 2019; in other words, it buys us more time.  Theoretically, there is a “sunset clause” – it will only last 21 months, but what if the trade deal isn’t signed by the end of this period?

The significant and surprising support for this transitional deal seems to be based entirely on the assumption that this won’t be a worry. If there’s something good to look forward to, these 21 months of being essentially controlled by Brussels is a price worth paying. This is a fallacy, however, as this piece helpfully explains.

The dilemma we face is that while there is widespread agreement about where we actually want to be after Brexit, there is no agreement on how to get there.

Apart from diehard remoaners, most people would probably agree on all or most of the following:-

i) The ECJ must have no power whatsoever to interfere in the government or legal process in the UK – including those EU citizens currently resident here. We must remove ourselves from Europol and the European Arrest Warrant – in other words, we are back to being a normal sovereign independent country as far as criminal justice is concerned.

ii) Fisheries and agriculture must be 100% under domestic control (and fishing should not be managed on a quota system)

iii) We must be separate from the EU’s military machine, including in the areas of procurement.

iv) We should not make any contribution to the EU’s funds apart from covering our costs where we wish to participate in a specific scheme such as the Erasmus student exchange.

v) we must have complete control of our borders

vi) we must have complete freedom to set our own levels of taxation, benefits and tariffs.

Agreeing our long-term goal is the easy bit. The problem is that we may never get there unless the Government can define in terms which the EU can understand what we want in the immediate post-Brexit period. The transitional arrangements might at least keep industry happy inasmuch as no new guidelines need be given for life could continue for a further 21 months more or less as it does now, but this is only kicking the can down the road. If we find ourselves bogged down in a transition arrangement along the lines already discussed and this period is then extended to (and beyond) the next General Election, we may find ourselves stuck in a sort of limbo which would please no one and would leave many voters vulnerable to the remoaners’ propaganda and thus eventually crawling back into the EU. Alternatively, if we walk away from the negotiations altogether, the net result could be a sudden and severe recession. In this instance,  once again we could be faced with a clamour to re-join.

This would be a tragedy. The key to preventing this happening is to focus on the unacceptability of the current transitional proposals. While many leave voters are strongly opposed to any further membership of the European Economic Area, as a stopgap, it is much less awful, as Nigel Moore argues here. What is more, according to Profesor George Yarrow, unless we give notice that we are quitting the EEA before 29th March of this year, we will still be in it on Brexit day by default, as leaving he EEA is totally separate from leaving the EU.

Yarrow’s thesis has not been put to the test, but then, Brexit as a whole is breaking completely new ground. It is hardly surprising that the path has not been a smooth one. All the same, progress has not been satisfactory thus far and although on balance, I think that the Government’s poor performance has been borne out of an inability to master the issues as quickly as anticipated rather than out of a devious plan to stifle Brexit, Mr Davis and his team desperately need to up their game if we are to achieve a successful Brexit in just over a year’s time.

Where do we go now?

Ever since Michel Barnier was appointed to lead the Brexit negotiations for the EU , he has been clear and precise, Unfortunately, neither  the UK Government nor the mainstream media have taken the slightest notice in what he is saying.

In his press statement of 20th December 2017, Barnier laid out the procedure the EU wants the negotiations to follow as everyone moves on to so-called “Phase 2”:-

  • By October 2018 a withdrawal agreement and a new treaty (to cover the transitional period) should be in place, in order for time to get these through the various bodies by 29th March 2019.
  • The old article 50 of TEU allows the negotiation of the withdrawal agreement, which must be completed on time or else there will be no transition period.
  • The new treaty will come into force on 30th March 2019, and I suspect it will be the reverse of an Accession treaty, with transitional derogations.
  • This is where it gets a little complicated. At 23.01 of 29th March 2019 we will have left the EU and will have become a “third country”. Apart from Banier’s talk of a treaty, no one has provided any other detail, so we have to make a guess as to what will happen next.
  • You can’t leave the EU, take up third country status and then carry on as if nothing had happened until 1st. January 2021, when it is possible we will be in the same position as now.
  • So the new Treaty which will cover the withdrawal agreement will come in to force in tandem with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Together, these two pieces of legislation would, I suspect, enable us to carry on trading, as we do at present, although it will be only for a fixed period covered by a time-limited transitional derogation.
  • On 1st January 2021, the derogation will cease, and either a new EU/UK trade agreement treaty will be created, or added to the new treaty.

It is hard to believe that our own Parliament is going to place us in such a vulnerable dangerous position. The period from 30th March 2019 to 1st January  2021 gives EU-based companies a more than adequate time frame to allow themselves to extricate themselves from the UK. Meanwhile, the UK government will bang on about this “deep and special relationship” and the wonderful trade deal we will get, yet at the same time, the European Commission and Parliament have both made it very clear that we will be treated like any other third country. Unless UK-based  companies realise the reality of this, they will hit the buffers unprepared.

Our side cannot even get their terminology  correct. “Transitional” is the word the EEC/EU has used since our 1972 Accession Treaty, so why are we talking about an “implementation” period?  In the House of Lords Select Committee session of 13th December 2017 asked what the difference was between transition and implementation  but was not given an answer.

What are the electorate going to say and do when they find the economy is in decline and EU continuity rights have been established? This is no real Brexit.

Both the Prime Minister and David Davis claim that the plan for a transitional (or implementation) period was first mentioned in the Lancaster House speech of 17th January 2017. Michel Barnier , however, claims it was first raised in the Florence speech and this appears correct.

Mrs May said in Florence, “As I said in my speech at Lancaster House a period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU”

But what she said in the Lancaster speech was ,  “I do not mean that we will seek some form of unlimited transitional status, in which we find ourselves stuck forever in some kind of permanent political purgatory”

Here, Mrs  May uses ”transitional” the commonly used word of the EU since 1972 for such a situation, so why switch to “implementation” if there is not a difference of meaning?  No one seems to have offered us any real answer.

In the Florence speech, she continued, “we believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest.”

This all sounds very confusing, but I believe the key to Mrs May’s thinking remains the words in her Lancaster House speech: “I want us to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded” I take this to mean that she wanted the agreement  done and dusted by Brexit day, which we now know will be 29th March 2019. She did not mean that only a withdrawal agreement would be in place by that date, with a trade deal to follow. She continued: “From that point onwards, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest”.

“For each issue, the time we need to phase-in the new arrangements may differ. Some might be introduced very quickly, some might take longer.”

Her original objectives seem to be the very opposite of the direction in which we are now heading.  Because so much time has been wasted, instead of applying for an extension to Article 50 of TEU, where we could have carried on for a further 21 months (although we would not have been out of the EU, which would have been politically unacceptable with a general election looming), the  Government has chosen formally to leave the EU at 23.00 hours on 29th March 2017 but then hand over our governance back to the EU, with no representation, and accepting all the institutions of the EU. This is a situation far worse than anything we suffered during our 44 years of membership and all for the hope of a trade deal which still may not be ready to be signed in time.

The worst feature of this proposal is that during those 21 months we would have to accept any new EU legislation  that comes into force during those 21 months, even though David Davis was very evasive when questioned about this during the select committee session of 25th October 2017:

Q89            Mr Djanogly: During that period, will the UK have to accept new EU laws made during that period?

Mr Davis: One of the practical points of this, which anybody who has dealt with the European Union knows—as you will have done, I guess—is that it takes two to five years from inception to outcome for laws to make it through the process. Anything that would have any impact during those two years we are talking about will already have been agreed with us in advance.  Anything that happens during it will be something for subsequent discussion as to whether we propose to follow it or not.  That is where the international arbitration procedure might become important.

So Mr Davis thinks we will have some choice, However, M. Barnier, made it very clear in his speech of 20th December 2017 there will be no cherry picking; we will have to accept EVERYTHING during transition period, including legislation currently in the pipeline.

This is a rather complex and technical subject, but I hope I have been able to convey just how dangerous this “transitional period” is.  My own industry, fishing, would still be stuck with the Common Fisheries  Policy but worse, it would not really be Brexit in anything other than name only.

A Happy Christmas from the Campaign for an Independent Britain

As 2017 draws near to a close, we would like to thank our members and supporters for their help and encouragement during the course of the year.

From the Brexit point of view, 2017 has been very frustrating. The triggering of Article 50 was a welcome development and we believe that it is highly likely that we shall indeed leave the EU in March 2019. The shape of Brexit has yet to be determined, however, with many conflicting voices in government and, indeed, in Parliament as a whole.  There have been few indications that the Government has yet come up with a road map that will take us seamlessly to independence and given that almost 18 months have elapsed since the Brexit vote, this is  a cause for concern.

During the year, the Campaign for an Independent Britain has been active organising meetings, producing new literature, providing  commentary via our website and supporting like-minded organisations committed ot the same end. We intend to continue to campaign for a Brexit that will see us properly out of the EU but at the same time one which will not cause any damage to our economy. We will continue to cooperate with like-minded partners, including specialist groups like Fishing for Leave, which have expertise in particular areas. We foresee the first battle of 2018 will be fought over the suggestions for a transitional agreement which would, in effect, see us locked into the EU for a further period.

While we trust that the unacceptability of this arrangement will result in its ultimate rejection – or at least, a rejection of the framework published by the European Council, it looks likely that our work will not be over when March 29th 2019 dawns.

For this reason, we are asking for your help. As one of the oldest anti-EU campaigning organisations, set up before we even joined, we are keen to see the job done and still to be active right up to the time when we can regard our withdrawal as fully accomplished. Unfortunately, as things stand,  we would be left with little in the way of a contingency fund to keep going after the formal Brexit day on 29th March 2019.

If you have not already supported our recent appeal, you can do either

  • by sending a cheque to Campaign for an Independent Britain at 78 Carlton Road, Worksop, Notts, S80 1PH
  • or by Pay Pal, using this link.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain

 

Fishermen Scorn Theresa May’s Spin As Britain To Be Trapped In Transition

Theresa May says Britain will leave the CFP

Fishermen say that’s political spin and stating the legally obvious

There’s a distinct difference between officially leaving and maintaining “regulatory alignment”

Pursuit of “Transition” period where UK must obey ALL EU laws means we will run mirror policy.

Mrs May told MPs: “We will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy on March 29, 2019 and the Common Agricultural Policy as I indicated”.

However, the mask slipped to the truth when the PM continued that; “Leaving the CFP and leaving the CAP” wouldn’t give the opportunity until “post that implementation (transition) period – to actually introduce arrangements that work for the United Kingdom.”

 “The arrangement that pertains the fisheries during that implementation period will, of course, be part of the negotiations for that implementation period”.

Fishing for Leave has scorned Theresa Mays political spin as either being mendacious or naive to the reality of the position the government is digging itself into with pursuit of a Transition deal.

Alan Hastings of FFL said
“It is a legal matter of fact that we will officially leave the EU and with that the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the end of the Article 50 period.  It’s not a question of do we leave, it is a question of what we do thereafter that is of grave concern and that fishing will be part of negotiations for that transition period”

“A “transition” period where we re-agree to obeying ALL EU law and will maintain “full regulatory alignment” is truly terrifying – we may have officially “left the CFP” but we’ll be locked into running a mirror image when we could walk away under Article 50 and automatically regain all control under international law– the Prime Minister is politically spinning with a forked tongue”

At last week’s Council of minister’s the EU reiterated what the EU Commission has clearly stated that agreeing to a “transition” period will mean obeying ALL EU law, including new ones after Britain officially leaves the EU under the Article 50 procedure.

Michel Barnier – Speech Rome – 21st Sept. ‘17
“On the 29 March 2019, the UK will leave the EU and will become a third country…without a withdrawal agreement, there is no transition – this is a point of law.
If we are to extend for a limited period the Acquis of the EU, then logically
this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.       The UK would have to comply to all EU courts and… refer questions related to interpretation of rights deriving from European law to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). The Court of Justice would remain the ultimate guarantor of the agreement.”

If this wasn’t clear enough to HM Government President of the European Council Mr Tusk reiterated the same words again at the conclusion of Phase 1 talks on 8th December

 Donald Tusk – Phase 1 talks – 8th Dec. ‘17
“As you know the UK has asked for a transition of about 2 years while remaining part of the single market and customs union…during this period the UK will respect the whole of EU law including new law”.           “It will respect budgetary commitments, it will respect judicial oversight and of course all related obligations. Existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply”.

Fishing for Leave highlight that Article 50 clearly says “the treaties (all EU law) shall cease to apply” at the end of the Article 50 period at 11pm on 29th March ’19.  This means Britain is out the entire EU including the disastrous CFP.

To add further weight to this international law under Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says;

“the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty…. unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree”.

Quite clearly the EU has otherwise provided through Article 50, Section 3 of the TEU.

This means that by the EU 27 agreeing to end the treaties there is no recourse under international law for them to have any sway over Britain in terms of laws, courts, money or fishing policy.

However, as a “transition” period is part of the deal once we have left the EU under the provisions of Article 50 it is only in the EU’s gift to grant.

Alan Hastings continued;
“Therefore, as the EU has clearly stated, it is on their terms and to get a “transition” the UK will have to capitulate to obeying all EU law to cancel out the provision of Article 50.

The only way to do this is as part of a new deal after we legally leave on 29th of March – such an agreement would have to be ratified by a new Withdrawal treaty.

This means we will have re-joined the EU in all but name having to obey its laws and directives with no control or say in some sort of legal purgatory.

In effect the UK breaks the treaties and leaves under Article 50 of TEU and Article 70 Vienna Convention. Thereafter, the UK agrees under our own steam (in a new treaty) to continue to recognise EU laws and authority under this new agreement.

Conveniently all EU law will be hibernating on the UK statute book having been adopted with the EU Withdrawal Bill.

We officially “legally” Leave the CFP but under the governments current strategy we will have capitulated to being trapped in a transition in some sort of legal purgatory where we will be running a mirror of the CFP as some sort of vassal state”.

Fishing for Leave says they have doubts that under a transition the UK will ever escape.

As re-obeying ALL EU law in a “transition” will be enshrined under a new treaty then “unless the treaty otherwise provides” Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says; “the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty”.

This will allow the EU to claim continuity of rights along with Article 30 of the Vienna Convention, it’s a grey area & therefore could nail the UK governments feet to the floor in a protracted legal fight.

By the time the UK escapes being trapped in a transition there will be very little industry left. This is what is terrifying for two reasons.

1) By having to obey All EU law including new law whilst not being a member state means the EU can move the goal posts to finish off what is left of the British industry.

2) The EU quota system causes discards as fishermen have to catch and discard fish to find what they can keep to match their quota. In all its wisdom the EU enacted a ban on the symptom (discards) rather than address the cause (quotas). This means as of 2019 when vessels exhaust their lowest quota to avoid discarding it must stop fishing. These “choke species” will decimate 60% of the UK fleet according to Seafish statistics. http://www.seafish.org/media/Publications/Seafish_landing_obligation_-_FINAL_REPORT_2_seafish.pdf

Alan Hastings concluded;
“It is an impossible contradiction for the UK to be free of the EU and the CFP and have a transition.
Adopting all EU law and then agreeing to a transition whilst we obey that law flies in the face of ‘taking back control’ and exposes this country to huge risk legally.

The governments remain biased doddling and ineptitude is leading not only fishing but the country into a seriously dangerous position and putting us at the EUs mercy. It would seem that the government is still trying to play at ‘being in Europe but not run by Europe’.

Trying to carve out a “deep and special partnership” that is just not on offer to reframe some sort of half in half out relationship – Mr Hague couldn’t get it, Mr Cameron couldn’t get it and the EU is clearly saying Mrs May isn’t getting it either.

We therefore call on the government to walk away from the punitive terms the EU is demanding to allow the government to fulfil what it says it will do – properly and fully regain our sovereignty and independence provided by Article 50 not trap us in transition as a vassal state to finish off our industry when Brexit should be our salvation”.

Ireland’s bluff called – a letter from our Chairman

This letter was sent by our Chairman, Edward Spalton, to the Scottish Daily Record in response to an article which appeared in the paper on 27th November.

Sir,

( I was visiting, so chanced to read your article “Dublin Down” p4, Monday 27 November).

For an EU document, Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is unusually short and easy to understand.

It is quite clear that the arrangements for a country to leave the EU are to be agreed by the European Council under the Qualified Majority procedure. The Council’s decision is then subject to approval by the EU parliament.

Neither the Irish government nor any single member state has a power of veto. I am no longer surprised at the ignorance of our politicians which allows the threat of a veto by the Irish Prime Minister to go unchallenged.  But I live in hopes of better informed newspaper correspondents!

Unwillingness to consult original EU documents is widespread in high places. At a recent private meeting of top business leaders in London, nobody put up their hand when asked if they had even skim-read an EU Free Trade Agreement. Former civil servants who were present said this was true of ministers they had served.

Of course, most such documents  are long and crashingly boring but this is not true of Article 50.

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton