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The withdrawal agreement
WHY BORIS’S WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT WOULD NOT MEAN BREXIT
• Tory prime minister Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit by 31st October. But what does he mean by Brexit? It seems Boris will try to recycle some version of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (WA). He has only insisted that the Irish backstop must go. The problems with May’s WA go far beyond the backstop.
• The WA does not mean the UK leaves the EU. Instead it marks the start of a process, overseen by the EU, during which, as Article 7 spells out, the UK will still be treated and taxed as an EU Member State, but without any representation.
• After the WA is passed, the UK would remain under EU rules for at least 21 months, and possibly a good deal longer. During this Transition period the UK will be subject to all existing EU laws, AND any new ones it imposes (Article 127), but with “no vote, no voice, no veto”. All sectors of the UK economy, from financial services to fishing, could be hit by EU rules. We would still be subject to European court rulings – and pay EU membership fees.
• During this Transition the UK would remain in the European Single Market and Customs Union – effectively ruling out new trade deals. Boris now says he would keep the UK in both EU institutions for two years – in other words, accepting the basis of May’s WA without the backstop. That is not the Brexit that 17.4 million Leavers voted for, or what the Tories promised in 2017.
• The Tories might argue that any final trade deal with the EU has yet to be agreed, and that the Political Declaration (PD) on future relations which accompanied the WA is not legally binding. But let’s be clear: the rules laid down during the Transition period are intended to form the basis of the long-term relationship.
• Article 184 of the WA imposes an obligation on the EU and the UK to do a deal conforming to the Political Declaration. And Article 23 of the PD says they must “build and improve on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement”. In other words, the WA points to a permanent customs union, leaving the UK subject to EU rules and court decisions and
effectively unable to do independent trade deals. The danger of “temporary” Single Market and Customs Union membership becoming permanent led Dominic Raab to resign from May’s government. And now he is foreign secretary to a prime minister proposing the same “temporary” arrangements.
• Conforming to WA rules will set dangerous precedents for long-term relations. Our fishing industry will still be under the jurisdiction of the Common Fisheries Policy for at least the Transition period, with the UK only to be “consulted” about how much we can fish our own waters. Under EU rules on state aid, the UK government will still be unable to intervene to support our industries (Article 92-3). The WA also says the UK will be tied to EU foreign policy, but without a say, for at least the transition period (Article 129.1), and signs the UK up to the EU’s expanding military structures even when/if we leave.
• With or without the backstop, the Withdrawal Agreement means we pay the EU £39bn – and do not get a meaningful Brexit in return. UK sovereignty and independence will be emasculated by EU rules enforced by the ECJ. And once the WA becomes an international treaty, we will be unable to leave it without the UNANIMOUS consent of the 27 member states. The UK’s negotiating position would be decimated: before agreeing to let us go, Spain could hold out for concessions on Gibraltar; France could demand access to UK fishing waters. The EU block would have the UK over a barrel.
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Latest communication from out MEP in brussels
Bunging the EU billions of pounds for free shows the toxic ineptitude at the heart of May’s Brexit deal
ROBERT ROWLANDBREXIT PARTY MEP
30 SEPTEMBER 2019 • 8:38AM
If you owned 16.1pc of the European Investment Bank (EIB) would you give it away free to the other wealthy members as you leave the EU?
That’s what Philip Hammond, the former chancellor and his team of civil servants have done.
Hidden in Theresa May’s discredited Withdrawal Treaty, ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond (then also on the Board of Governors of the EIB) gifted it €7.5bn of taxpayer’s money for no concessions. He then accepted a 12-year repayment of €3.5bn with no interest, from a bank making €5bn profits in just the last two years.
The ultra-Remain ex-chancellor was prepared to leave the UK credit card open over a decade to ensure the EIB can continue to lend on non-commercial terms to the EU 27 at UK taxpayer risk.
The UK is also treaty-bound for another €36bn of “callable capital”. This is money we will pay to underpin the EIB if the eurozone collapses. Additional toxic risk exposure comes through the EU Budget which guarantees €500bn of EIB loan note risk that we would be exposed to during any “transition”. It is a truly toxic trick, conjured up by Hammond and his team.
But how did this happen?
Under May’s Withdrawal Treaty, the UK’s initial EIB capital contributions, mostly given in 1973, of €3.5bn – in today’s money roughly €35bn – can be repaid in 12 instalments of around €300m a year.
This is a non-commercial bargain for the highly profitable, triple-A-rated institution. Located in Luxembourg, with annual staff costs of €1bn and an average tax-free staff salary of a cool €294,000, this is no ordinary bank.
The EIB lends where others will not and carries a high risk of default should another eurozone crisis materialise. Since the 2008 banking crisis, EIB lending has been politically driven, to prop up the eurozone. And lend it has, throughout the euro crisis, where today it has a balance sheet of €500bn of loans to countries like Greece, whose businesses have received €18bn in loans, or 10pc of GDP, so that the Greek economy can repay over-exposed French and German banks.
Under May’s Withdrawal Treaty, the UK taxpayer would be on the hook for the next 12 years.
And it gets worse. Loan note holders have the right to recover from solvent guarantors. That could be a massive hit to the UK economy, long after we are gone, if the euro or the eurozone economies collapse.
Adding to this risk, the EIB is exempt from EU banking rules. It lends in a highly leveraged way, holding just 0.1pc on the balance sheet reserves for non-performing loans, compared to 3-5pc for real banks.
So, can these bankers go to jail if they get it wrong?
No. EIB staff aren’t afraid of going to prison. May’s treaty grants them immunity from prosecution – there is no jail hazard for EIB staff. And what does the EU intend to do with this get out of jail free card? It has authorised the EIB to lend to Iran, and May and Hammond wanted London to be the Wild West in which the EIB could operate with impunity from US sanctions.
But maybe we get something for this risk?
No. The UK has never been paid a penny in dividends and our economy has only benefited from 8.2pc of the loan portfolio, despite having 16.1pc of the equity, historically for safe high-tech purchases like satellites and infrastructure loans and now being spent on EU companies manufacturing and installing wind farms and other green projects, whose returns are underwritten by UK taxpayer subsidies. No wonder the EU says nothing can be changed.
So, what’s the remedy?
The Brexit Party says that after rejection of May’s Withdrawal Treaty and UK departure on WTO terms, the EIB must repay our €11bn of capital in full. The UK loan book, currently €41bn, should also be returned to the UK along with related contingent liabilities.
This will be the initial investment into a new British Investment Bank, designed to deliver much-needed infrastructure spending and long term “patient capital” for vital projects. The bank would be exclusively a UK lender and have a AAA rating. Its remit would be investment in the UK regions, for example revitalising Great Britain’s Fishing and Coastal Ports.
In a final twist to this toxic tale of Remainer scheming, the Brexit Party calls for a Royal Commission to investigate how the UK Government and civil service managed the process of exiting the EU with such ineptitude. Important lessons can and must be learned as the UK returns to the path of self-governance.
Mays’ non-Withdrawal Treaty is designed to bind the UK and its economy to the euro project, without a UK vote or voice. It should be rejected in its entirety.
Robert Rowland Brexit Party MEP
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