Friday 9 February
Leave.EU’s newsletter traces a worrying narrative from this week’s events: ever-increasing EU pressure, combined with the British government’s unwillingness to accept it has consigned Britain to the customs union. It must start again if the people’s bidding is to be salvaged.
The Brussels-London back and forth was not business as usual this week. The EU ramped it up a gear, issuing serious threats of sanctions at the remotest sign of waywardness during the transition period. Significantly, we did not respond in kind. Although David Davis did complain about the “discourteous language” used by Brussels – see today’s edition of Brexit Brunch for more details. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here.
Instead, as they always do, our elites looked inward, virtue signalling over anti-Semitism in response to the Telegraph’s front-page revelation of a £400,000 donation by George Soros to a useless anti-Brexit pressure group called Best for Britain.
Hilariously, Best for Britain had had to hush up a survey loaded with Remain questions that it had commissioned for the early part of the week’s news cycle. 79% of respondents said they wanted Brexit to go ahead, more than half of whom favoured a no-deal. The poll’s results proved portentous in a week when it became increasingly apparent that Theresa May absolutely must break off talks with the EU and take the WTO option seriously.
But that will not be the takeaway for most of the public thanks to the distraction served up by the media’s Soros sorrow, along with meaningless hints by Downing Street at unchaining ourselves from only a few of the thousands of ruinous EU regulations.
Soros, the 22nd richest man in the world, has made numerous shady donations to Remainer groups – check Leave.EU’s write-up from November. And let us not forget, he is not a British subject. Soros is an enemy of our nation who ruthlessly broke the Bank of England, throwing us out of the precursor to the Euro, the ERM, making a cool billion in the process. If Soros had been such a disciple of European integration, surely he would have refrained from causing such disruption. It appears his ideological devotions have their financial limits. How very establishment.
But the Soros donation was nothing compared to Downing Street’s infuriating failure to wake up to reality – just as the EU ramped up the antagonism, the government slowed down even more. There is no hiding it, unless something drastic is done Britain will remain in the customs union and probably in the single market too. As we approach nominal independence day (still a long way off mind), the disparity between the prime minister’s words and deeds become ever more consequential, and deeply worrisome for the 17.4 million.
The week began with a visit from Michel Barnier to Downing Street where he was told Britain would be leaving the customs union.
Barnier’s parting words: “The only thing I can say now is that without a customs union, and being outside the Single Market, barriers to trade and goods and services are unavoidable. The time has come to make a choice.”
He is maddeningly correct, if May does not make a choice soon, one that will displease the smug Mr Barnier, we are all doomed for the customs union.
The significance of Theresa May’s capitulation over Ireland – for which, read the customs union – is now coming into full view. Throughout the week, the EU has demanded that the PM enshrine every clause in her disastrous “report” (i.e. the withdrawal agreement settled in December) into treaty form, even though British civil servants are already doing so while their colleagues negotiate the self-defeating transition period in Brussels.
Incidentally, as part of the EU’s heightened rapaciousness, it has canceled talks originally scheduled for next week in a bid to pile on more pressure. Barnier went a step further today threatening to deny May and Philip Hammond their beloved transition deal.
On Wednesday, the EU issued its “discourteously” worded terms of transition, threatening to ground planes and impose massive import tariffs at the slightest sign of deviation from its crushing rules. The text was obviously released to coincide with the convening of the Brexit Cabinet, where divergence from EU rules would be discussed. That will now only happen when transition ends, whenever that is.
That is of little regret to Cabinet members of course. Leavers only number four of the eleven ministers in the so-called Brexit “war Cabinet” which met for two sessions over Wednesday and Thursday. Only two things emerged, both off the grapevine: a plan to decouple Britain from a handful of EU rules and maybe a few others, post-transition, and a commitment to not give EU citizens preferential status and access. The immigration pitch, said to be only “in the ascendancy”, is bleeding obvious, and there is unlikely to be enough wiggle room to pick and choose which EU rules to dispense with following May’s “regulatory alignment” folly in December.
Notably, nothing concerning Northern Ireland or the customs union emerged. Yesterday, David Davis insisted the meetings had been “very constructive” and “a lot of things were resolved”. Mrs May would provide those details “in due course”. She won’t. Frustrated with the lack of progress, The PM is said to be marching her Cabinet off to Chequers to hammer out a consensus. Maybe she should consider acting like a leader and tell them what needs to be done.
Crucially, the debate over regulation, hardly a debate when we have given ourselves so little room for maneuver, is deflecting attention from Northern Ireland and the customs union. The media is told by the government we’re leaving the CU and doesn’t query it. But the fact of the matter is, if a single part of the UK has an open border with the EU, Britain will be withheld the ability to regulate imports and will, therefore, be unable to exercise an independent trade policy.
As far as anyone is concerned at this stage, thanks to May’s “regulatory alignment” concession in December, soon to be written into law, the border in Ireland will remain open beyond 2020, meaning we’re stuffed – click here for a full explanation of why Britain will in all likelihood remain in the customs union despite the government’s insistence to the contrary.
Even without the EU’s disgraceful provocation, because of the massive own goal conceded by the prime minister in December over the divorce bill and Ireland, Britain is now on a pathway to perpetual European subjugation, the likes of which we have not had to endure in just shy of a millennium. Indeed, according to the Guardian, the best the EU will offer is a sunset clause: both sides will review the subject in the event sophisticated border technology comes up to scratch. This is a smokescreen. We have that technology today. The EU’s ruse is obvious: keep Britain in the customs union for as long as possible, stop it from making trade deals and in time the elites will figure out a way of shutting the people up.
Well we’ve got news for you Brussels, that ploy didn’t work for John Major when he handed out huge slices of sovereignty at Maastricht, it won’t work a second time.
Mrs May absolutely must break off the talks now and re-negotiate. If the EU refuses to engage, all the better, we will go it alone, that is the fairest option leaving us with the most control. That is what the British people voted for.