Assessment of the Withdrawal Agreement

Posted on 6th December, 2018

This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News on 05 December 2018. 

Next week, the House of Commons will decide whether or not to approve the Government’s withdrawal deal with the EU.

My assessment of the position is as follows:

  1. In June 2016, the British people voted to leave the European Union.
  2. The only way that a member state can leave the European Union is to serve notice under article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
  3. Article 50 provides that at the end of a period of a maximum of two years after service of the notice prescribed in that article, the member state will cease to be subject to the European treaties.
  4. Being subject to the European treaties means being a member of the single market and the customs union, and subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
  5. If we are still a member of the single market and customs union and (most importantly) subject to ECJ jurisdiction, we cannot truly be said to have left the European Union and, therefore, to have kept faith with the outcome of the referendum.
  6. The draft withdrawal agreement and the political declaration would keep us in a species of the single market and the customs union and also keep us subject to the ultimate jurisdiction of the ECJ.
  7. Even more worryingly, the Irish backstop could result in Northern Ireland being kept permanently, for all practical purposes, in the European Union. Our country would, therefore, be divided.
  8. The Withdrawal Agreement should positively not be regarded as a mere temporary arrangement. It will prevail until the EU release us from it. The political declaration is merely aspirational. It may not – and probably won’t – ever be implemented, because the Withdrawal Agreement is so very favourable to the EU.

For the reasons set out above, I cannot support the Withdrawal Agreement and will vote against it in Parliament. I believe that I have a duty to honour the outcome of the referendum that transcends my duty to my party. I am sure that all readers will understand that this has been a very difficult decision to make.

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