April 1 2017
True to its word the European Council has dispatched to London its proposed guidelines for the forthcoming Article 50 Negotiations set to start in either April or May within 48 hours of receiving notification of withdrawal. The document is not yet publicly available, but Leave.EU has managed to secure a copy.
The document contrasts with the conciliatory tone set by the Prime Minister in her Article 50 letter, delivered to the European Council in Brussels on Wednesday. Most dispiritingly, the Council’s response calls for Gibraltar’s future status to be resolved prior to the conclusion of the talks. In dividing the talks into three phases, with only the first on the Brexit bill and Northern Ireland requiring a firm agreement before the two-year negotiating period elapses, the EU has also made it clear it cannot foresee Britain arranging an orderly exit before 29 March 2019. The temptation is to think that the EU, which is armed with the initiative on Article 50 procedures is trying to find a way around the two-year lock and drag out Britain’s exit. Brussels has pounced on the transition period earmarked by Theresa May in her speech and is actively looking to keep the UK under EU domination until 2022 at the earliest.
The Prime Minister was showered with praise for not bringing up the tricky issue of Gibraltar in her Article 50 letter, it is now clear that was a mistake with the revelation that the guidelines give Spain its own veto on the Gibraltar question:
“After the UK leaves the union, no agreement between the EU and the UK may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between Spain and the UK.”
Spain has been vainly trying to get control of the rocky outcrop on its southern shore for centuries. It had struck the softest and most reasonable tone in the run-up to Article 50’s triggering with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis promising not to use the Brexit talks to make a grab for the Rock.
Appearances have been deceiving, and clearly the EU – which has no obligation to involve Gibraltar – is keen to play a dirty game as the negotiations unfold. The Prime Minister has been warned.
If the guidelines are approved by the rest of the EU, Britain will be placed in a much weaker negotiating position. Downing Street, which is desperate to get a comprehensive trade deal with the EU27, is now likely to succumb to the pressure and give up Gibraltar, home to 30,000 British passport holders. Shameful.
Cut EU red tape at your peril says Tusk
The President of the European Council Donald Tusk has added to the sense that the EU intends on keeping Britain closely tethered to Brussels by insisting the UK hold onto EU regulations if it wants to retain ‘acces’ – access is guaranteed by the WTO anyway – to the dubious European single market. The order comes a day after publication of a government report on the Great Repeal Bill.
The repeal bill will copy and paste a whopping 53,000 EU laws into the UK statute books in order to avoid any ‘holes’ in the British legal code upon exit from the EU, which will be accompanied by the repeal of the European Communities act.
But the report reveals a worrying determination to pander to the EU by adopting its giant stash of suffocating rules.
It is now clear from Mr Tusk’s comments that the GRB plays right into the EU’s hands. The European Union is threatening to take a trade deal off of the table unless the UK follows its rules. It will be much harder to combat those demands if the rules are already UK laws thanks to the Repeal Bill.
The EU is even threatening for its reviled court to retain supremacy over British law if the GRB is not completed before March 29, 2017. No deal is increasingly looking like the best deal.
Click here for the EU’s draft guidelines in full.