The only agreement that matters is the final one, which hasn’t begun to be negotiated, yet alone put ‘on the table’ or agreed. What has been agreed, between the EU and the UK Government, and then dismissed by the UK Parliament, is covered in the last two posts in this theme.
We think there is some value in pulling together the steps the ‘negotiations’ took, from late 2017, to reach this stage, while we are waiting to see what happens between June and the latest ‘deadline’ on 31 October. At the least we can expect a new prime minister and, possibly, some fresh ideas regarding Brexit (to B or not to B?). How did we reach this impasse?
The Irish border question was raised in the first draft agreement, on which the post below focuses. We commented that this first ‘agreement’ appeared to be a fudge, accepted provisionally by both parties, to allow the negotiations to move to Phase 2.
Free movement of people was also addressed in our post, in which we pointed out that favouring EU citizens over citizens from, for example, the Commonwealth makes no sense.
Oddly the EU refuses to discuss a future relationship between the parties until the ‘divorce’ agreement is settled, given that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, in relation to the withdrawal.
EU-UK Phase I Agreement (12/12/2017)
The Phase 1 Agreement raised several questions, which we examined in the follow-up post. We guessed (it isn’t stated in the Agreement) that the EU would insist that Phase I should be put into UK law before Phase II was implemented. Phase II was expected to be about the transition/implementation period in which the UK would have to follow all the EU’s rules, including any new ones, but would withdraw from the EU institutions and so have no say or vote; this was later confirmed in the current draft Withdrawal Agreement.
What Has Been Agreed? (18/12/2017)
A short post followed, introducing the transitional agreement which also raised more questions than it answered, mostly perhaps because the EU would not relent on its decision to avoid any discussion of the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
Instead of simply extending the Article 50 period beyond the minimum two years, the transitional arrangement would (will?) leave the UK still paying its full charge, still be under the CAP and CFP and still subject to all current and future EU laws and regulations.
However, there were some concessions, notably over Gibraltar and FTAs with other third countries but these seem to have disappeared under the latest version (see below).
Transitional Agreement (23/03/2018)
A second, and longer, draft agreement was published in March 2018, though we didn’t review it – in the next two posts – until August. We concluded that the long and tedious document translated into legal terms the intention of the EU to prevent the emergence of a dynamic and critical competitor just off its coast.
As we have said in other places, the ‘agreements’ reached so far have not strayed at all from the original negotiation mandate set out by the European Council after Article 50 was triggered. We saw, and still see, the purpose of the EU as being to punish and constrain the UK in perpetuity. We quoted selections from the draft as evidence for our conclusion that only the most blinkered of Remainers who read the document carefully could sustain their naïve belief that the EU is a good thing for Europe and the World, let alone for the UK.What the EU proposed is hostile to the UK electorate’s clearly expressed desire to get out of the trap that the EU is and intends to remain.
Draft EU/UK Agreement – 1 (27/08/2018)
In the second part of our response to the interim draft EU/UK Agreement we focused on the section dealing with the Irish border, after one part of the island leaves while the other remains in the EU. We argued that the EU had weaponised the Irish border to defeat the British negotiators.
We concluded, rather gloomily, that the EU had found a way to apply pressure on the UK for daring to leave its sphere of control and put that above ways of improving the lives of its citizens.The EU plans to continue its rule over the UK despite the peoples’ decision to leave.
Draft EU/UK Agreement – 2 (26/08/2018)
We read the draft Withdrawal Agreement before the UK Parliament had a go at it. To support our interpretation we quoted liberally from the document and extended our commentary with a linked paper.
We searched the 585 pages trying to understand whether or not this Leave means Leave, as we were told by our Prime Minister, repeatedly. We concluded that it doesn’t. If this Agreement is ever ratified, the UK will remain a semi-detached, ex-member state with many responsibilities and few rights. In summary, under this Withdrawal Agreement the United Kingdom will not exit the European Union but move to a new, and inferior, status under the thumb of the Union.
In this post we picked out key elements from the Articles and gave the reasons why we believed that the UK Parliament should reject this proposed agreement (and why the UK Government should already have rejected it). Members of Parliament subsequently agreed with our conclusion, though not always with our reasoning.
Draft Withdrawal Agreement: A Fatal Flaw (04/12/2018)
After it had been comprehensively trashed by Parliament, for all sorts of reasons, we took another look at the thing. We thought, earlier this year, that the most likely outcome would be further negotiations, which would lead to parts of it being preserved and the key points being shoved down the throats of British citizens, on a ‘take it or there is no deal’ argument. We reckoned without the inflexibility of the EU, which has got itself stuck. They now have to say that “this is the only deal on the table”, having ‘won’ better terms than they expected. They daren’t retreat from their own victory.
We argued that the Withdrawal Agreement tells us much about the EU project, about May’s supine Government and about the threat to seriously weaken the UK’s democratic system, which it now seems that the two governments are working in collusion to achieve. This ‘Agreement’ proposes neither a proper withdrawal from the EU nor a satisfactory legal basis for a transition to an unspecified future relationship between the UK and the EU. A major problem is the impositions this withdrawal agreement makes on any such future relationship; it indicates clearly the EU’s intentions.
A Withdrawal Agreement (18/01/2019)
It is now far more difficult to reach a fair and sensible agreement than before Theresa May and her advisors backed us into this corner. We hope the next PM can find a way out of it.