Make or break time for a genuine Brexit
Despite the posturing and threats from both sides over the past 8 months, the rhetoric has shifted. With time running out, this week and next week are when Brexit will be won or lost. We must still be prepared to walk away rather than accept a Brexit in name only
The countdown to the end of the Transition Period at 11pm on Thursday, 31st December 2020, ticked below 100 days last week, and we’re well and truly on the final home stretch of a complete Brexit.
Despite the posturing and threats from both sides over the past 8 months, the rhetoric has shifted. With time running out, the coming days are when Brexit will be won or lost.
Chief negotiators for both the UK and the EU, Lord Frost and Michel Barnier respectively, have previously declared they are prepared to walk away from the table if the other does not blink first and begin to compromise on their ‘red lines’. Despite neither side admitting to specifics on key topics – such as the ‘Level-Playing Field’ and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) -- there is evidence we’re nearing a deal.
More recently, the EU have indicated they will not be the first to walk away from the talks. It has also been reported this week that the EU has dropped its refusal to draft any legal texts ‘until all areas of disagreement have been resolved’. As a result, this means there is a clear possibility for a ‘piece-meal’ approach to a Deal which could lead to agreements in specific areas, even if an all-embracing singular agreement cannot be reached.
This has perhaps eliminated a ‘cliff-edge’ exit from the Transition Period – although there may well be outstanding issues still to be resolved in the future.
Also reported recently – wrongly, in my view – UK negotiators have offered Brussels a 3-year Transition Period on fishing rights, in which new zonal arrangements would be phased in. Brussels has however, claimed the offer hasn’t broken the deadlock. This comes alongside news of some non-coastal Member States pressuring French President, Emmanuel Macron to drop his demand for continued unfettered access to British waters. The intent is now clear from both sides – some kind of a deal seems to be possible.
The recent UK Internal Market Bill, which passed its 3rd Reading in the House of Commons this week, was a firm step by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which caused Brussels to stutter as we stood up to their bullying tactics. However, it seems the Bill was all part of the ‘performance’. The Prime Minister amended his own Bill to give away Government powers to Parliament with an amendment to placate Conservative rebels – including the seemingly traitorous former Prime Minister, Theresa May, who seems determined to try and bring Boris Johnson to his knees.
In the end, it did not seem necessary, as it only brought around 7 rebel MPs and the Bill still passed with a Majority of 84. This watering down appears to be more focussed on appeasing complaints from Brussels than those within the Conservative Party. Such a capitulation suggests an unwillingness by Number 10 to walk away from talks and leave the EU with No Deal, trading on World Trade Organisation terms, as we do with the rest of the world.
The negotiations have now been extended. More hours have been allocated to ‘sticking point’ topics such as fishing rights and the ‘Level Playing Field’, which will now be discussed over 12 and 14-hour allocations respectively instead. Clearly, there seems to be an appetite for a deal. It is this which has sparked this fresh impetus.
I have no objection to a deal as long as it is a good deal and favourable to the UK. The Government has already given away a large proportion of our sovereignty by signing up to the badly written Withdrawal Agreement. So, unless a deal directly rectifies issues within the Withdrawal Agreement – such as State Aid rules and the jurisdiction of the ECJ – it will be a terrible outcome for the UK.
Myself as well as many other Brexiteers fear the negotiations have run on for too long with little progress. The Government needs to be clear it is still prepared to walk away from the table unless we get a good deal. No deal is better than a dad deal, and it currently seems we are dangerously close to rushing through a bad deal which would only supplement the Withdrawal Agreement and further undermine the integrity and sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
The Government must now be much more transparent in these final important stages about exactly what is being sacrificed in any compromise. We should be reiterating a genuine threat to walk away from the table if our own ‘red lines’ are not met and any final trade deal should also address the mistakes in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Only then will we successfully Get Britain Out of the EU with a favourable outcome, which, after all, is what the people voted for in the EU referendum.
Jayne Adye is the Director of the grassroots, cross-Party, Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out
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