In our previous paper, The EU Deal Unmasked: Twelve Reasons Why the UK Will Fail to Get a Canada-Style Deal we pointed out that the Government’s long-standing and wholly reasonable ambition to agree a ‘Canada-style deal’ with the EU will be impossible to achieve as long as the existing Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and its associated Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) remain in place. We listed twelve reasons why this would be the case.
Despite the Prime Minister bringing new vigour and determination to the negotiations, since the publication of our paper, the negotiations made little progress – perhaps even retrogressed – so that formal talks were suspended. Consequently, the Prime Minister warned Britain to prepare to leave the Brexit Transition Period (TP) without a trade deal unless there was a “fundamental change of approach” from Brussels. Speaking after the recent European Council meeting, he said “I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s, based on simple principles of global free trade.”
While the on-off negotiations with the EU have now resumed with new urgency, the Prime Minister has made clear his willingness to leave the TP on 31 December “without a deal”. Thus, the chances of achieving a ‘future relationship agreement’ (FRA) with the EU remain problematic. Speculation continues about the consequences of the UK leaving the TP on 31 December ‘without a deal’ under WTO terms – or, what the Prime Minister terms as an’ Australian deal’.
Unfortunately, too many labour under the misunderstanding that,under such an exit, the UK would then be free from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and other EU controls on our laws and sovereignty. However, this decidedly is not the case because we would notbe leaving ‘without a deal’, but rather with the baggage of the already ratified WA and its associated NIP.
Unless specific steps are taken to disapply the WA/NIP, they will continue to apply to the UK for the long term with debilitating effects on our laws, freedom of action, and sovereignty. This means – if there is no agreement with the EU – reverting to an ‘Australian Deal’ will not be a satisfactory option.
The purpose of this paper is to explain why we have reached this conclusion – ie, why the ongoing harmful effects of the WA/NIP prevent the UK from ‘breaking free’ if the UK exits the TP without an agreement with the EU. We also draw out some implications of this for the current negotiations. An instructive way of gauging the harmful effects of the WA/NIP is to show the destructive impact they would have on Government achieving its Brexit objectives, as set out in the Conservative 2019 Election Manifesto; for example, “We will keep the UK out of the single market, out of any form of customs union, and end the role of the European Court of Justice.”
This paper concludes that
- The impact of the WA/NIP on the UK’s laws, freedom of action, and sovereignty is ongoing, fundamentally harmful, and dominant
- In the event no agreement is reached with the EU, a successful ‘Australian Deal’ will not be achievable and the Government’s only viable option will be to replace or reject the WA/NIP, if it wishes to deliver its Manifesto Brexit commitments. Attempting to reject the WA/NIP after 31 December will be highly problematical if the Government has already agreed some form of limited deal with the EU.
Our conclusion with regard to the ‘Australian Deal’ mirrors that of our previous paper in which we concluded that an ongoing WA/NIP would prevent achieving a successful ‘Canadian-style deal’. Thus, as long as the WA/NIP remains in place, the Government has no attractive options.
The remainder of this paper explains these conclusions in depth.
Click here to read the report in full.