Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The Long and Winding Road just got a bit longer

So we now know that the leaders of the other EU nations, doubtless pressured by the cabal of Eurocrats, have agreed to an extension of time before we can finally escape from the EU. They have, however, made this extension conditional on MPs accepting the PM's deal. Very clever. As I have consistently pointed out, Brussels does not want us to leave, but if they cannot stop us doing so, then they will ensure that we suffer as much as possible, and that we remain tied to the EU for as long as possible, and in as many ways as possible. If sufficient MPs were to support her deal, and it became law, we would eventually be allowed to leave on the 22nd May, 2019 – nearly two months after we should have left. This EU carrot must, however, be viewed in conjunction with the stick they are also waving: that of acceptance by MPs of Theresa May's deal – and therein lies the problem, as the proposal does not really allow us to leave, it merely gives us the 'comfort blanket' of leaving in name only. As with most things to do with government, it is the detail that gives lie to the claim that the PM's document will deliver Brexit. How so?

A reading of the document: "The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union" (HM Government, 2018), reveals that this does not deliver the Brexit that I, and millions of others, voted for. The document lacks detail in key areas, is ambiguous in others, and overall represents craven surrender to EU demands. The key weakness throughout the whole document is that it leaves us in the position of 'negotiating' over a multitude of things with the EU. It cannot have escaped the attention of most people that we have spent two years 'negotiating' with the arrogant, mendacious bullies who have been deliberately chosen by the EU to make life as difficult for us as possible. Is there anyone who doubts that any 'negotiations' in future would follow a similar pattern? This is why the EU is so anxious for Parliament to approve May's document, as it gives them everything they wanted, with a very large measure of ambiguity thrown in – sufficient to keep us tied to the EU for decades to come. We might have checked out, but we will never be allowed to leave.

As there is not the space to examine the whole document in detail, I will focus on just one area to make my point – fisheries. Quoting from the document, we find the following:

Fishing Opportunities (pp.81-83)

Point 56: "… the UK therefore proposes to agree a mechanism for annual negotiations on access to waters and fishing opportunities…"

Point 60: "Any decisions about giving access to UK waters for vessels from the EU, or any other coastal state fleets will be a matter for negotiation."

Point 61: "The UK, the EU and coastal states should agree to annual negotiations on access tights and fishing opportunities for UK, EU and coastal state fleets. This could include multi-annual agreements for appropriate stocks."

Point 63: "If particular stocks are becoming depleted, the Government will work with all interested parties to draw up and implement recovery plans."

In other words, we will still be forced to 'negotiate' with the EU over access to UK waters – and 'fishing opportunities.' As already stated, in view of the attitude and comportment of those Eurocrats involved in negotiations over the last two years, I hold out no hope for smoother negotiations in the future. As I have suggested on many occasions, it is impossible to negotiate if the other side does not wish to do so. It is about time that our Prime Minister learned this uncomfortable truth. In addition to making us a hostage to fortune, the document does not detail what, if anything, would happen were it to prove impossible to come to a deal – a likely scenario in view of the EU's intransigence thus far. Would we be allowed to assume control of our waters and decide which foreign vessels could fish, and how frequently; or would the default position mean that we were forced to continue under EU rules until a 'negotiated' settlement were reached? If the latter, then we could still be having talks on fisheries a decade from now, or even longer! Furthermore, the document does not elaborate on what constitutes 'appropriate stocks' – who decides on what is appropriate? Does it refer to an 'appropriate' quantity of fish caught, regardless of type, or is it supposed to be a measure of stocks as they relate to fish species? In addition, when the document refers to 'fish' it is unclear whether this includes shellfish, such as lobster, mussels etc. I presume that it does, but this is not clear. The reason why I might appear to be pedantic, is that a forensic examination of the wording of the document has undoubtedly already been undertaken by the EU, and if they like it, then we can be certain that it is to their - not our - advantage.

Those people who have read the document in its entirety will be aware that there are considerably more areas of EU control, and/or dispute open to (wilful) misinterpretation than those that I have detailed here. The overriding concern I have is that in essence the proposal still leaves us tied to the EU in many areas (such as the legal system), and the so-called 'Common Rule Book' that it would not deliver Brexit but would leave us bound to the EU (without voting rights) for very many years. Those who think that I am exaggerating the danger have only to ask why it has taken us two years to basically get nowhere – and all this has been achieved during our period of membership, and our still holding the 'nuclear option' of a no-deal: in other words, from a position of relative strength. How much more difficult would negotiations be were we to lose our voting rights and be technically outside the EU? If EU exporters still had access to our markets, then what would be the incentive for them to come to a future agreement over anything? No wonder the EU was so quick to agree to her deal – it gives them everything they want, and the UK can be excluded from any future decisions.

Additionally, we should not forget that once this sorry saga is over, and if we were to accept May's deal, we would still face a period of two years more of tortuous negotiations with the EU over future trading relations. I predict that we would have a virtual re-run of the last two years, with Brussels saying 'no' to everything, and the British public would become so fed up with the whole process that they might even plead to be allowed back in. Whilst I am sure that the EU would welcome us back, the terms of our re-admission would be sufficiently onerous as to send a message to other EU states contemplating their own membership referendum: 'Don't do it……after all, look what happened to the UK.'

I would urge all MPs to read the document, and see whether they can find loopholes, uncertainties, or ambiguities that would be likely to be seized on by Brussels as a means of keeping us under EU control – and unable to trade outside the EU without the approval of all member states – approval that will never be given. I consider this their duty to the nation, rather than to any political party. If, having done this, they feel that it delivers a clean break, and they are confident that they EU will treat us fairly in subsequent negotiations, then they can vote for the PM's proposed deal. They must, however, be prepared to justify their actions to their electorate in the future.

Hopefully, enough MPs will see the PM's document for what it is: craven surrender to the Brussels bull-boys and will vote against it at the earlies opportunity. If it is rejected for a third time, and we have approached the 29th March, we should be able to revert to the legal default position – which is to leave the EU, without a managed deal as to the manner of our leaving.

Of the possible outcomes, I have consistently suggested that the 'no deal' scenario is the best, even though it is not ideal: as the PM herself has said on more than one occasion: "no deal is better than a bad deal." No deal is the only outcome that really allows us to leave the EU, and to leave within the period of two years -specified by the EU's own regulations. Leaving on the 29th of March, without a managed deal would deliver us a 'no-strings-attached' Brexit, enable us to keep our £39 billion, and allow us to recommence trading relations with other nations, on mutually- beneficial terms and under WTO trading conditions. We will no longer be sucked into the plans for a United States of Europe, nor will we have to accept unrestricted EU freedom of movement in and out of this country; we will not be subject to European Courts, or the Common Agricultural and Fisheries policies. We will not be required to join the Euro or the European Army. No deal is the most attractive option, and that is why the EU and the Brussels Fifth Column are trying to kill it.

As an aside, can anybody tell me what a 'meaningful vote' means? I thought all votes were 'meaningful' otherwise what would be the point of having them? A bit like having a referendum in which the views of the majority were ignored …. Is that 'meaningful'?


HM Government (2018) The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union. (Cm 9593) Open Government (OGL), HMSO; 

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