The most important point about the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement is that, once it is ratified, the United Kingdom will have no legal route out of it unless the EU agrees to let us out and replace it with another agreement. This makes it unique among trade treaties (including the EU’s), which always contain clauses allowing each party to withdraw on notice. Politicians who claim that this is just a bad treaty — one we can get out of later — are being ignorant or disingenuous.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly claimed that the deal will allow the UK to conduct an independent trade policy. On the contrary, the declaration states that there will be ‘customs arrangements that build on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement’. This means that the EU will not even be under a moral, still less legal, obligation to agree a trade deal which allows the UK to conduct its own future independent trade policy.
Why is the Prime Minister so desperate for a deal that she is willing to humiliate her country in this way?
This vassalage that the UK government now seeks is rare, but not unheard of. It is the system imposed on the former Soviet republics of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine in their EU association agreements.
At present, the EU treaties give us the right to withdraw on two years’ notice — a right we are currently exercising. But this new deal would lock us in with no right to leave at all, and destroy any benefits of the freedom of action which Brexit should give us. It would not let us forge our own trade policy with other parts of the world. It would not make our economy more competitive. It would not give us back control of our laws. This is not a bad deal. It is an atrocious deal.The above content is of extracts from an article by Martin Howe QC from The Spectator.