Brexit – the current state of play

Edward Spalton gave this review of the Brexit situation at CIB’s annual rally on 14th April 2018. In view of the need for a simple summary of the progress (or lack of it) regarding Brexit, it is may be of benefit for readers to study his assessment of the present state of play.

2017 was an intensely frustrating year for independence campaigners. Looking back at my last annual report, it is remarkable how little has really progressed. Yet we are now less than a year away from Brexit on 29th March 2019 when, as it says in Article 50, clause 3, of the Lisbon Treaty, “The treaties shall cease to apply…unless the European Council in agreement with the member state concerned unanimously decides to extend this period”.

This is one part of the “cliff edge” to which Mrs. May occasionally refers. Much of the law on which we rely for our protection now comes from our 46 year sojourn in the EU. We would be in a legal vacuum at home, if the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill were not enacted by Brexit day to repatriate EU law to the British statute book. For instance, there would be no laws at all protecting food safety.

It is nauseous hypocrisy that Europhiles in Parliament, who never raised the least objection to the outsourcing of huge swathes of our law to the foreign power in Brussels, have tried to hinder the Bill’s passage. They suddenly discovered a devotion to the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. The Bill, they claim, gives too much power to the government – “Henry VIII powers”- they say. Yet Parliament can sack the government, something it could never do with the European Commission – or with Henry VIII for that matter!

One other great aspect of the “cliff edge” is the interface between ourselves and the EU countries with which we have very close relations on which many people’s livelihoods depend. Mrs. May gave notice that the UK would become an independent country outside the EU and European Economic Area. So all sorts of things just cease to exist, if there is no new agreement with the EU in place by Brexit day. For instance, your driving licence will no longer be valid for EU countries. Neither, of course, will EU driving licenses be valid here – unless it has been specifically agreed, along with thousands of other matters great and small – and there is less than a year to do all this.

After Mrs. May made this intention known in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017, the EU pointed out that all its regulations for dealing with imports from foreign countries outside the EU would apply to British goods after Brexit, if no other agreement was in place. The British government knows exactly what these regulations are because Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs plus the Port Health Officers and Local Authorities apply these same rules already to goods arriving here from countries outside the EU. The port of Southampton deals with 1,300,000 containers per year. So the government has full information about all the procedures.

There is no excuse for delay in informing export businesses of the rules which they will face – particularly the need for firms to appoint an EU-based representative to take responsibility to the authorities for the compliance of goods with EU health and technical standards, a far more onerous business than an easily computed tariff.

The EU itself has been issuing “Notices to Stakeholders”, setting out the requirements sector by sector . But from Her Majesty’s Government to British exporters, there has been no advice at all.

It seems that the government has been deliberately avoiding consultations with business. Theresa May set up a business advisory council which, at the time of writing, has not met since October 2017. Chris Brannigan, the key Downing Street official responsible for communicating government policy to business, left in June after the general election and has not been replaced. It seems that nobody wants the job. (Edward Malnick, Whitehall Editor, Sunday Telegraph 4 March). In spite of the need to have a confident and well-informed business community, there is a black hole at the centre of government communication. It is as if they are frightened to tell business the likely outcomes of their policy – insofar as any coherent policy yet actually exists. It ought to be known in considerable detail 21 months after the referendum.

Last year I wrote “If we leave the EU without an agreement, British goods will be treated as “third country” origin, That is, from a country outside the EU which is what we want to be! The EU will not be “punishing” us by treating us as an independent country”. The EU has been very clear all along that it would maintain the integrity of its common external border, one of its main institutions. Even countries with “deep and special” free trade agreements, like South Korea and Canada, accept that. There are ways of making compliance less onerous and more “frictionless”, such as electronic pre-declarations for customs and “trusted trader” schemes. The government has conspicuously failed to come up with specific, detailed workable suggestions and has so far neither recruited staff for training nor placed orders for necessary infrastructure. So the EU has developed its own policies which are very unpalatable and in parts completely unacceptable, especially with regard to the Irish border and the so-called “implementation” period after March 29th 2019.

Unfortunately British ministers spent most of 2017 deluding themselves, their more credulous colleagues, supporters and eurosceptic media that we could “have our cake and eat it”. That is, “Britannia would waive the rules” – we could leave the EU, make our own and expect the EU to treat our products as if we were still EU members – a piece of monumental ignorance and arrogance., slightly modified in tone by Mrs May in her speech from Florence in the Autumn and by her more recent Mansion House speech which has not really clarified very much else at all.

In researching these matters, I hunt for various sources of information to get as good an all-round picture as possible. The following short article from Private Eye summarised things so well that I am grateful to the editor for permission to publish it. Whilst it is not comforting reading, it is necessary information for mature campaigners to know.

DExEU DESPATCHES.

The Department for Exiting the EU, aka DExEU, has never been a happy place. David Davis’s fiefdom took several months to find a formal home in Whitehall. It was able to attract hundreds of bright young things, keen to serve their country in its hour of need in negotiating Brexit. But the sheen soon wore off. Officials privately concede that their ministers are being comprehensively outgunned by Michel Barnier’s European Commission team.

The place also “leaks like a sieve from top to bottom” says one former official.

“Olly Robbins (Theresa May’s Brexit adviser) is basically being left in a room to negotiate without a mandate” says another.

Eighteen months after its creation, 3 per cent of officials are leaving DExEU each month and 44 per cent are likely to leave in the next year, says the Institute for Government.

Even though several thousand officials have been reshuffled across Whitehall to support the creation of DExEU and Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade, the 600 strong DExEU still has 143 vacancies 18 months after it opened its doors. Many of its staff are on short term contracts, either loaned from other departments or from outside the civil service.

If many DExEU staff are on the Whitehall equivalent of “zero hours” contracts, Davis’s team has at least been flashing the cash at management consultants. Deloitte helped set up DExEU in Summer 2016 and others who have benefited from its largesse include Boston Consulting Group, Accenture, KPMG and McKinsey.

McKinsey was paid £1.5 million last September to lead DExEU’s “Brexit Planning”, a move that achieved little other than see McKinsey’s executives pocket inflated salaries while rubbing shoulders with lowly civil servants, safe in the knowledge that they will return to the private sector when all the Article 50 unpleasantness is over.

Needless to say that had nothing to do with Tom Shinner, the department’s director of policy and delivery coordination whose job is to lead “DEXEU’s work to coordinate the domestic policy implications of Brexit across government departments, to seize the opportunities and ensure the smooth process of exit……….”

So it is not very surprising that the EU is able to outrun them by just standing still.

Having failed (if it was ever intended) to have a workable Brexit up and running by March 2019, it is not surprising that Mrs. May is a desperate supplicant to the EU for extra time to get her house in order after all the wasted opportunities of the previous year – not least two months taking her eye off the ball to fight an unnecessary election after Article 50 notice had already been served and the clock was ticking remorselessly down to Brexit day.

Naturally the EU is demanding very severe terms which will place the UK in the position of a vassal state with no rights and Parliament not actually recognised as a real Parliament in the eyes of the EU. Every EU law will apply, including any new ones they choose to spring during this period of “implementation”. Ominously our own government has asked to be able to extend it beyond the originally intended 21 months.

Looking back on our labours since our last AGM, I cannot report much significant progress on three of the key issues which we identified then. Although the EU itself may unwittingly have come to our aid on one of them!

A Truly Independent British Fisheries Policy.

Edward Heath’s surrender of our fisheries to EU plunder as a “common resource” may well be continued. Our territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone could easily be used as a bargaining counter. Our friends in Fishing for Leave point out that the proposed “implementation” period would imply the continuance of EU fishing rights and of the iniquitous quota system. Ominously in her Mansion House speech,

Mrs May referred to “shared stocks” of fish – in our own waters! That is rather like catching the burglar red-handed with the family silver and conceding he has a right to share it! The EU has since indicated that it intends to do a little “cherry picking” of its own, demanding the continuance of rights for EU vessels equivalent to the Common Fisheries Policy as part of its price for a free trade deal.

The European Arrest Warrant, Europol and the European Gendarmerie

On the presently suggested terms, these institutions will remain in existence with full powers throughout the “implementation” period. Prominent members of the government are known to favour these arrangements. One Conservative minister was on record as welcoming the possibility of deploying these foreign men at arms on our streets. So far, we have not heard that he has changed his mind! However, the EU has indicated that, as a non member, we may not be allowed to take part in these institutions . So the EU rules may actually protect us from Mrs. May’s fondness for subjection to them, developed during her time as Home Secretary.

The European Defence Agency and European Defence Integration

Following the referendum, the government signed up to a whole swathe of EU initiatives, bringing defence forces closer together. Parliament was not awake to the danger. The government did not sign up to the permanent structure (PESCO) but has gone along with a great deal which has the potential to tie our hands in the procurement of armaments for our own forces.

We continue to campaign on these issues and have prepared an informative booklet for MPs and others. This includes detailed information and suggestions for avoiding the trap of the vassal status of the presently proposed vassal status of the implementation period.

It will be available on the website as a PDF.* A number of copies will be available for sale to members .

Edward Spalton – Chairman

* Brexit Reset In pamphlets section of publications.

 31st May 2018 – Supplementary Note.

I can well understand the exasperation felt concerning the lack of progress. Some have suggested that “No deal is better than a bad deal”. If that turns out to be the case on 29 March next year, then the government has followed Mr. Cameron’s precedent of “no Plan B” and Britain and British business are totally unprepared. The Dutch appear to be further forward than us, having begun the training of extra customs staff and allocation of space for new port facilities. Trading with post Brexit Britain, they say, will be procedurally the same as trading with Morocco.

Some companies are already making their own precautionary arrangements. Rolls Royce, for instance, is preparing to move its regulatory compliance operation to mainland EU. EasyJet has moved its headquarters to mainland EU and has plans to change its Articles of Association so that a majority of its shareholders must be EU nationals. This will enable it to keep flying in the “No Deal” situation.

If there is no agreement, Rolls Royce aero engines would have no valid safety certification and cease to be saleable. By leaving the EU and EEA, the government also leaves the European aviation safety agency EASA which produces the safety certification. There is no present provision for non EU countries to belong to EASA. The British Civil Aviation Authority has said that it would take some five to ten years to build its operation up to the required global scale and standard to replace it. There are other similar EU bodies for different industries where the government is trying to get back in on some sort of associate status. Whilst Britain negotiated opt-outs whilst an EU member, it is now trying to negotiate various opt-ins as an independent country. That is somewhat ironic!

When Britain joined the EEC in 1973, our family firm had already received over a year of thorough briefing from the government and so were prepared. We had some problems but could nonetheless get on with making our living from day one. Businesses have to pay their bills and wages every week so a smooth transition is essential. Once businesses close they very rarely reopen. I describe the experience of joining the EEC in the series “The Miller’s Tale” at the end of Episode 2 and all of Episode 3. To give the sort of guidance we then received, the government had to know exactly what it was doing. That does not appear to be the case today.

The Transitional deal and “good faith” will decimate our fishing industry

A briefing note from Fishing for Leave

The Transition deal the government is agreeing with EU has dire implications and presents an existential threat for what’s left of the British fishing industry and coastal communities.

The government hopes to ratify this transition as part of the withdrawal agreement and treaty after parliamentary approval. The terms of the transition subject the UK to re-obeying all EU law, including all new laws, after Brexit and the official termination of our current membership.

By subjecting the UK to re-obeying all EU law the transition negates the clean slate provided by Article 50, which states (as agreed by the EU) that the “treaties shall cease to apply” and with that all rights and obligations accrued under the treaties – including the disastrous, inept CFP. The transition squanders the chance to automatically repatriate our waters and resources to national control by reverting to international law (UNCLOS) and domestic legislation.

The 21month transition period means the EU will be free to enforce detrimental legislation to cull what is left of the British fleet. The EU has every incentive to do so to enable the use of international law (UNCLOS Article 62.2) to claim our resources we would no longer have the fleet to catch.

DISCARD BAN

The EU can do so in 21 months using the inept EU quota system which is wholly unsuited to our highly mixed fisheries and forces fishers to catch more than necessary and then discard to find the species their quota allows them to keep.

As of 2019 the EU discard ban is to be fully enforced, however, this ban addresses the discard symptom not the quota cause. Consequently, from 2019, when a vessel exhausts its smallest quota it must stop fishing to avoid discarding. These ‘choke species’ quotas will force vessels to tie up early in the year. Public body Seafish calculates 60% of the resources the UK is currently allocated will go uncaught and resultantly a similar proportion of what’s left of the British fleet will go bankrupt.

The EU has every incentive to fully enforce such a ban which would cull the UK fleet as under international law (UNCLOS Article 62.2) if a “state does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch it shall… give other States access to the surplus of the allowable catch”.

The above is not conjecture, the EU also stated this possibility in a previously un-noticed document; Research for PECH Committee -Common Fisheries Policy and BREXIT – June 2017 (page17). The EU is therefore quite aware of the implications and obligations of Article 62.2 and the discard ban.

SLASH UK RESOURCE SHARES

To compound this, HM government has agreed through ARTICLE 125 of the draft agreement that the UK will be subjected to the allocation of fishing resources through the CFP.

Part 4 of Article 125 states;

Without prejudice to article122(1), the relative stability keys for the allocation of fishing opportunities referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article 125 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.

Therefore, contrary to government assertions, the EU Commission therefore has sole power to alter the ‘relative stability’ resource shares. These can and have been altered – as happens on a state’s accession – and the EU is free to do so to the UKs detriment. A further skewing of the already disproportionately unfair share the UK receives would exacerbate and compound the discarding and discard ban problem.

12 MILE LIMIT

The EU can also abolish – indeed it may terminate with our current membership – the 12 mile limit which gives protects our inshore and shell-fishermen along with nursery grounds. The 12mile limit was established in Article 100(1) of the UK Treaty of Accession as a 10 year derogation from Article 2 of the CFP founding Regulation 2141/70.

This derogation, although reiterated in subsequent 10 year CFP renewals, ultimately stems from the UKs Treaty of Accession. With the termination of the UKs membership under Article 50, our Accession treaty will ‘cease to apply’ and the EU will be free to abolish the 12mile before its current 10 year period expires in 2023 if this does not happen automatically upon withdrawal.

GOOD FAITH

In addition to this the governments protestation that all will be well is through the assurance that the proposed agreement will be exercised under the provision of “good faith”.

Article 4a – Good faith;

The Parties shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement. They shall take all appropriate measures…..to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising from this Agreement and shall refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of this Agreement. This Article is without prejudice to the application of Union law pursuant to this Agreement, in particular the principle of sincere cooperation.

Therefore, under draft withdrawal agreement of 19 March, ‘good faith’ far from being an all will be well clause obliges HM Government to rigorously enforce all the terms of the agreement, including our re-obedience to the CFP in its entirety – it is actually a swallow the lot clause.

Consequently, ‘good faith’ means the UK has signed up to a Transition agreement which means fully re-obeying and subjecting our fleet to a fully enforced discard ban and resulting choke species.

Has agreed to follow ‘relative stability’ shares and the ability of the Commission to alter them – possibly to our detriment. The UK will have agreed to re-obey the ‘raw’ CFP of ‘equal access to the baseline’ with the possible abolition of the 12 mile limit derogation with the termination of of our current membership.

The public perceive the transition as rendering all government and MPs commitments, promises and assurances to reclaim British waters as worthless semantics

It imperative for the survival of fishing communities in a multitude of constituencies that there is a reversal on fishing being included in a transition and that all sovereignty and control over all waters and resources within the UK’s EEZ reverts to Westminster at 11pm on 29th March 2019 on this symbolic issue.

In addition to this a clear termination clause similar to Article 50 must be inserted to the transition treaty to ensure that the transition and all rights and obligations accrued under it cease to apply on the 31st December 2020 to avoid any contention.  Failure to do so would be perceived as a tangible demonstration that there is no intention of making a serious stand on fishing or Brexit nor fulfilling “taking back control of our borders” as optimised by this ‘acid test’ of Brexit.

The EU’s CFP has been a failure – here are some facts to counter Europhile claims

A Press Release from Fishing for Leave

A News Report from 1991 showed that the fundamentally flawed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was the cause of over-fishing and bad management.

These failures resulted in decommissioning schemes which scrapped 60% of the British fleet, ripping the heart out of communities.

The failing CFP has driven continual cuts and a scramble to survive with continual consolidation to last man standing.

Family community fishing is driven out of a livelihood and ever increasing monies are spent leasing and buying quota to remain stagnant and survive – it is a circus that fails fish and fishermen.

Contrary to Europhiles the EU did not save stocks but caused the problems which it still fails to address.

The EU caused overfishing through “equal access to a common resource” which stopped Britain exercising her rights to manage her waters and address increasing vessel technology and power.

The EU gave grants to build more powerful boats and incentivised overfishing with minimum market prices which stopped market gluts & low prices halting over supply.

The EUs caused a problem and then implemented Quotas which DO NOT work in mixed fisheries as the video shows fishermen have been saying since 1991!

Fishermen cannot determine what mix of species they catch. Quotas led to illegal landings or mass discarding. Quotas forced fishermen to OVERFISH and catch MORE than necessary to find what they could keep.

Quotas caused inaccurate science and exacerbated the fleet over-capacity caused by the EU. To add insult to injury when quotas were set under EU ‘relative stability shares’ the UK only received 25% of the resources although British waters contributed half the seas and catches.

As the system failed the EU heaped on more rules and bureaucracy to make a bad system work.

To add insult to injury when Quotas were set under EU ‘relative stability shares’ the UK only received 25% of the resources although British waters contributed half the sea areas and catches.

This deprivation of our own management and resources coupled with EU funded over capacity and a failed quota system is what killed over half the British fleet.

Some say this is accidental others think it a deliberate series of pretexts to cull the British fleet to make way for an EU fleet ruled by an EU policy.

Not only do EU member states directly take 60% of the resources from British waters under ‘relative stability shares’ but EU ‘freedom of establishment’ laws allowed EU owned but UK registered flagship companies to buy out family-owned British fisherman struggling under EU rules.

These EU flagships now own around HALF of the 40% slither of our own fish the UK receives as part of the EU heir legal challenge in the Factortame case overturned and forced the government to allow this to happen, proving the British parliament and courts no longer sovereign.

EVEN WORSE!! The incoming EU 2019 discard ban addresses the discard symptom not the quota cause. As of 2019 when vessels exhaust their meagrest quota they must stop fishing and tie up for the rest of the year.

This final drive into a 30 year cull-de-sac of failed management will ruin around another 60% of what’s left of the British fleet.

This is why British fishing cannot be trapped in a transition. Why we must escape the failed CFP ASAP.

It is why post-Brexit the government cannot replicate the same failed EU quota policies to appease vested interests now a minority of powerful vested interests running some fishermen’s federations who wish to keep the failed system and last man standing due to investment driven made in it to survive.

We must have new mixed fishery management based on limiting time at sea in exchange for allowing fishermen to land and record everything they catch in a time at sea/quota hybrid.

This would result in catching less but landing more and generate accurate stock data and management response – currently we are forced to do the opposite of all these.

In addition to this the government should retain the British FQA entitlement system to retain the investment vessel were driven to make in order to survive.

These FQAs should be converted from being entitlement to arbitrary weight-based quotas that force fishermen to discard to Flexible Catch Compositions (FCCs) that set percentages of species fishermen should aim to catch.

If fishermen exceed their FCCs which are based on their track record of catches and investment then they  don’t need to discard or tie up but can swap a value of time equivalent to the value of the “wrong” fish caught.

This means there is no financial incentive to Race-to-Fish for high value species or for species the vessel did not traditionally have entitlement to catch but it means there is the flexibility to land all catches.

The loss of time is paid for by the value of the “wrong” fish meaning fishermen can make a living but needn’t work on catching more fish.

This system would preserve large scale investment in FQAs whilst allowing the flexibility for all fishermen to prosper across all sizes and sectors to rebuild coastal communities.

Crucially fishermen would be catching less fish with no discards and a limit on time at sea whilst generating real time data which allows real time management responding to natural fluctuations.

This would give Britain a unique, world leading discard free management system, allowing Britain to husband her resources sustainably in a system that allows all fishermen and communities to prosper.

WE CANNOT CONTINUE WITH A SYSTEM THAT HAS FAILED SINCE THIS VIDEO WAS MADE IN 1991!!

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.

Brexit Reset – New pamphlet available for downloading

Our latest pamphlet, BREXIT RESET has been sent to  all MPs. We are also sending BREXIT RESET to the Lords and members of the devolved assemblies.

The pamphlet calls on the government to abandon the “vassal state”  transitional arrangement proposed by the EU and suggests an available, working   alternative which would save our fishing industry and leave behind three quarters of EU laws on March 29th 2019 – including those on defence and the European Arrest Warrant. It leaves the way open for the government to carry out its full programme when its negotiations are complete. The BREXIT RESET scheme can be legally terminated by simply giving a year’s notice. Please urge Ministers, MPs and peers to to look at it. Many of them are sorely in need of guidance as they seek to obey the mandate of the UK electorate.

The booklet is being accompanied by this letter from our Chairman (See also below).

 

TIME FOR A BREXIT “RESET”?

 

Dear …. (we personalised the letter to so that every MP was addressed by name)

 

The constitutional authority A.V. Dicey wrote that supreme political power rested with the electorate and supreme legal power with Parliament.  Parliament has already voted to implement the people’s express wish to leave the EU and has the onerous task of giving it legal effect. Over a year has elapsed since the government notified the EU of the UK’s intention to leave. The period of Article 50 notice will expire on 29th March 2019, when the existing EU treaties will cease to apply.

The government recognised the need for an extra period of negotiation to achieve a mutually satisfactory new trading relationship. The EU’s proposed agreement for this is so adverse that it has fairly been assessed as making the UK into a “vassal state”.  There is just time for other existing European structures to be used which can offer adequate assurance to the EU for its requirements and interests while permitting a largely unimpeded continued flow of trade. At the same time, the Brexit Reset proposals remove the roughly three quarters of EU legislation which enforces the EU political project which the UK can leave behind on Brexit Day 29th March 2019.

The procedure in the current EU (Withdrawal) Bill of transferring EU legislation to the UK statute book would be gravely and permanently disastrous to our fishing fleet. The proposals in Brexit Reset overcome these problems with the added bonus of a vastly more environmentally friendly fisheries system. The Brexit Reset proposals also remove EU law during the transition on matters which are not market-related and end the drift towards EU integration and control of defence policy which has quietly taken place in the last eighteen months. Clearly, our armed forces must be capable of independent action as well as operating in concert with allies.

This booklet is a distillation of inputs and research by people and groups of all parties and none. We hope you find it helpful in the heavy and urgent task of implementing the people’s decision to best effect.

Yours sincerely

 

Edward Spalton

Chairman

You can download a pdf of the booklet here.

 

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.