Brexiteers were right to vote down May’s awful deal
by David Scullion, Deputy Editor at BrexitCentral
30 March, 2019
Theresa May’s deal has now been defeated three times and whilst the number of Brexiteer Tories has been whittled down, it was thanks to them and the DUP that it didn’t pass.
Leave MPs who backed the deal yesterday claim the fact that we would have been legally out if it passed meant the disdvantages of the deal was a price worth paying. But this is exactly the point. Once our membership is legally over, Remainers will argue Brexit has been delivered. And if Brexiteers make the mistake of endorsing the vote were it to pass, they will add to the Remain spin that we have entered a legitimate Brexit.
Whilst some would claim we could break the treaty, Remainers would argue this was the ‘Brexit’ Leavers voted for. It stands to reason that the intolerable state that we would end up in means that full EU membership will be the only way of ‘taking back control’. And how could any future Tory leadership support breaking the treaty? It would take Trump-like strength for the next Prime Minister to break an international agreement – but it would be near impossible if the Prime Minister had actually voted for it.
Some claim that the fact a hard-core Remainer like Dominic Grieve voted against it was a reason to back it. The logic goes that since the europhiles were voting against, they must know the alternative will be more integration with the EU. But just because Grieve has a smile on his face does not mean he is correct.
Others claim to want certainty over the chaos of Oliver Letwin and the chance of the Commons passing an Act to seek Customs Union membership. True, backing the deal brings some end to the confusion. But it also risks bringing about the end of the UK as a sovereign entity. Could we legislate out of it? Article 4 allows the EU to disapply domestic legislation incompatible with the agreement. We will be locked into another, final, treaty with the EU and when the history books are written on how the UK became sucked into the EU, it is not fanciful to imagine students studying Maastricht, Lisbon and the Withdrawal Agreement.
Many claim a long extension would be worse and lose the momentum of the referendum. But the deal guarantees losing it. Under the transition, we shall explicitly be non-voting members for two years and, as Brussels has spelt out, the only change will be that Britain loses its Commissioner, its MEPs and its vote in the Council of Ministers. Then, under the backstop, which we can never leave without permission, we will be stuck with a trade-barrier between the UK and Northern Ireland.
The direction of travel under the treaty is clear. On defence, the agreement calls for UK participation ‘to the extent possible under EU law’, a law which can be changed by the EU27 without the UK being in the room. We will bind ourselves into the defence purchasing budget, and the permanent integration of our defence capabilities and control.
Under it we will continue to apply the Common Fisheries policy which has deliberately been used to shrink the number of fishermen by over a third from 1995 to 2005, a neurotic regime that forces boats to return to port when they have caught too much of what they don’t want whilst allowing EU boats to take £4 billion worth of our fish.
And with the deal, EU State aid powers means the Commission can control any VAT changes and could block the UK from reducing its rate in a particular industry to incentivise a business to locate or invest in the UK. The dream of Free Ports will be snuffed out: Any infrastructure investment that is likely to generate money, like toll roads, ports, airports or industrial parks can be vetoed by arbitrary EU commissioners.
If this deal had been presented to MPs directly after the referendum they would have baulked and flatly rejected it. But many have succumbed to the bullying tactics of No 10 who consistently lied to them at every stage of the process. Even some on-the-fence Leavers were pushed into supporting the deal yesterday after they were told the result was so close they would make the difference. Many feel trapped. But in the face of such uncertainty it is always wiser to vote solely on the thing in front of you. Is the deal bad? Then vote it down. Thankfully yesterday many MPs did just that.