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3 Feb, 2020 16:24

It’s a trap: Brussels’ barmy plan for Brexit Britain’s EU trade

It’s a trap: Brussels’ barmy plan for Brexit Britain’s EU trade

The European Union’s trade demands aren’t what you’d expect of a serious negotiating partner, but control-freakery designed to force the UK into submission and subservience to EU laws.

A speech by the European Union’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier this morning accompanied the publication of a 33-page shopping list describing everything the European Union would like from the United Kingdom.

The obvious place to start is sovereignty. They’re demanding that the European Court of Justice will have a long-term role in overseeing the future partnership. That’s not how independent, neutral oversight is supposed to work – any more than Manchester United would be allowed to choose the referee for their next football match. They also want the UK to stick to the European Convention on Human Rights, potentially opening the way to forcing (for example) prisoners to be allowed to vote.

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One of the biggest reasons for the Leave vote in coastal areas of the UK was fisheries. We’ve seen a huge decline in the UK’s fishing industry as EU-flagged vessels take more fish from British waters than the UK. When the European Union demands that it should be able to continue to overfish our waters, free of charge, indefinitely, they’re saying that their market access should be ‘stable’ and could only be changed by the consent of both sides – it’s seeking to keep our fishermen trapped in a never-ending cycle of despair.

The phrase ‘level playing field’ occurs 14 times in the EU’s demands, which would be fair enough if they were just saying that neither side is going to seriously undercut the other side, break World Trade Organization rules, or start atrade war. Most trade deals around the world contain non-regression clauses so that the trade deal can’t be used against one of the parties later.

That’s not what the EU is asking for. They’re asking for us to tie our future to as-yet-unwritten EU laws too – for example, “The envisaged partnership should commit the parties to continue improving their respective levels of protection.”

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After the UK persuaded the EU to remove the phrase ‘close regulatory alignment’ from the political declaration, it seems that they’re now trying exactly the same thing again using different words. Britain said ‘No’ before; we must say ‘No’ again.

I’m only scratching the surface here of what’s actually going on. The EU is once again taking aim at Gibraltar, and they’re also seeking to deny or restrict the rights of UK airlines to offer travel between two EU cities.

They’re seeking to interfere with the possibility of a UK-US trade deal by making demands on rules of origin, and ensuring that UK lorries must forever continue to be speed-limited to 56 miles per hour. To cut a long story short, this isn’t a serious negotiating position.

It’s a dangerous attempt to keep the UK shackled to the EU forever. That’s not what leaving the European Union was supposed to be about, and the UK must refuse to sign up to anything like this.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.