The European Research Group (ERG) has today launched a report that rebuts the Government’s Chequers proposal and Draft Withdrawal Agreement. The report, taking a more positive and longer-term look at Britain’s Future, seeks to expose 17 baseless myths that instil fear amongst the public about leaving the EU customs Union and moving towards a World Trade Deal.
The paper points to the fact that the Government’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement would mean the UK would hand over £39bn with little return for the British taxpayer. The sum would comprise a number of parts, over continued contributions during the transition period up to December 2020. This does not give us the control of our own money as the Prime Minister has often promised. Given that the UK is only just beginning to emerge from a period of austerity, it is difficult to see why such a large sum of money should not be spent on our own citizens and our own economy.
The report also indicates that we will exercise little control over our own laws; as we must be bound to EU laws in areas that include social policy, environmental policy, employment policy and customs rules. Such rules mean that our ability to introduce our own innovative legislation, foster our own industries and begin to carve our own prosperous future in the long term, is greatly limited.
The ERG additionally has pointed to the proposed ‘Joint Committee’ in the Government’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement, which will hinder our ability to leave a Customs Union. The Government, in short, according to the report is ensuring we are “unable to strike international trade deals with other countries such as the USA or China or indeed, any other country.” We are sacrificing our potential of becoming a truly global Britain because the Government is unable to look at the long-term costs of remaining so closely tied to the European Union.
The Joint Committee too, will have extensive control over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is set to become a rule taker, dictated to by Brussels; unable to reform in VAT regulations, agricultural products or goods. This proposal, as the report indicates, is direct betrayal from the Government who have always said that they would not create a border down the Irish Sea.
The report also highlights the extensive influence the European Court of Justice will have despite the UK’s exit from the EU. The ECJ is set to remain as the final arbiter of the agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to. This, the report says, is “wholly against the spirit of the referendum.”
The report uses these themes to simply debunk 17 myths that are central to the Draft Withdrawal Agreement but also to demonstrate that there have always been alternatives to the Government’s current proposals. We should not, it is argued, be fearful of moving towards the WTO rules, as these are just simply the rules that the rest of the world trades on. Ultimately it is argued, we should look towards a “Super Canada” Deal with the EU, as was initially offered to us by the EU.
This report demonstrates to us that we must not surrender our destiny and destroy the spirit of the 2016 referendum. It is time we viewed Brexit as an opportunity, not a problem to be mitigated. It’s time to take full control and not allow Brussels to dictate how we are governed.