Daily Politics: A Look At The “Brexit Breakthrough”
“A deal between Britain and the EU on the transition deal” “looks to have been reached” host Jo Coburn informed us. David Davis, Secretary of State for Brexit, has been conversing with the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels. “It’s potentially a big moment though in the Brexit process. It means there’s an agreed set of rules to smooth the way.” “The EU wants this period, which the British Government calls the implementation period, to last until the end of December 2020.”
Footage was shown of Barnier, who said in French “What we are presenting” “is a legal text, a joint legal text, which constitutes in my mind a decisive step because we were able this morning to agree” “on a large part of what will make up an international agreement.”
“I think this is really great news” Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP, responded back in the studio. He opined that it’s a step towards delivering Brexit “in a smooth and orderly way.” “It means we get back control of our laws, control of our borders and control of our money.”
Coburn said to another Tory MP, Bernard Jenkin, “The agreement has been done that everything pretty well stays the same during that transition period” but we won’t have “a seat at the table. In other words, we will be a rule taker and not a rule giver. Are you happy with that?”
“It’s all going to be in the small print, which we haven’t had chance to look at yet” Jenkin answered. “All the bits coloured in yellow are the bits where the drafting is still subject to alteration, so we don’t have a finished text.”
“Would you accept the fact that Britain wouldn’t have a seat at the table when decisions are being made during that transition period?” Jo pressed.
“There’s going to have to be some pretty significant safeguards” Bernard replied. “No country would submit itself completely to a foreign jurisdiction” “and just accept new laws and new court rulings.” (So governments draw the line at almost complete submission then!) “How can we possibly just make ourselves a prisoner of this arrangement?”
“There are other issues” he continued. “We are going to be apparently bound by the doctrine of ‘sincere co-operation’ but we want it explicitly understood that during that period we can go and negotiate our own trade deals. We can’t implement them, but we can negotiate and sign them.”
“Do you see this as success?” the host asked a Labour MP, Helen Goodman.
Goodman, the Shadow Foreign Office Minister, answered “I hope so because we were calling for a transitional agreement with access to the Single Market and the Customs Union a year ago. And the Government made some demands which couldn’t be met and now they’ve had to accept that that wasn’t negotiable.”
Jo asked Helen whether she would support a deal “if the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland hasn’t been completely resolved or there’s any indication that there might be some infrastructure at the border.”
“That’s a lot of ifs but we think that” “a soft border is absolutely essential to a satisfactory deal” the Shadow Minister stated.
Coburn observed that Barnier says “the UK and the EU are committed to all parts of what was agreed in December,” “either there was going to be a full Free Trade Agreement that would take in the issue of the border, or that technology would provide the solution which is what the Government has been suggesting,” or “that Northern Ireland would remain aligned to the EU which is the least favourite option.”
Via a live video link, Coburn enquired of Gavan Reilly “Do you think it’s a problem that the issue of the border hasn’t yet been resolved?”
Reilly, Political Correspondent for TV3 Ireland, replied “It certainly seems to be a point of anxiety Jo that the Irish Government is still waiting to find what they see as very workable solutions from the British Government about how exactly such technological solutions might work.”
He relayed that the Irish Government desires “a very all-encompassing Free Trade Agreement” “which would render the border question obsolete.” If that isn’t agreed soon and the Tories don’t present new technology that the Irish would consider, “the real question for the Irish Government is whether the UK Government is in fact prepared to honour the backstop agreement” “where essentially Northern Ireland would remain part of the European single trading area, even if that does mean that it becomes fragmented from the rest of the UK.” He denied that the Taoiseach wants to unify Ireland by stealth.
The Daily Politics presenter orated that Barnier has confirmed that “we have agreed the backstop solution must form part of the legal text.” “It will apply unless and until another solution is found.” She asked Jenkin if that was acceptable, emphasising that Northern Ireland may remain “aligned to EU rules.”
The Tory MP insisted that he needed to read the entire document before he would commit to a stance, then added “there’s going to be no infrastructure at the border of Northern Ireland unless the EU puts it there.” He suggested that the bloc would be stupid to break the Belfast Agreement.
Jo said to Labour’s Foreign Office appointee “There is a political will that is lacking on the side of the EU.”
Goodman responded “It’s no good saying just because someone else is in the driving seat, it doesn’t matter if we drive over the cliff edge.” She reiterated that we need a soft border.
The host repeated that the corrupt bloc was lacking in will and posited “If they wanted to find a solution, then one would be found.”
“It’s quite a tricky, technical thing to do because of the red lines which Theresa May has put forward” Helen replied.
Coburn then asked O’Brien why the EU should “break its rules” and allow us to leave but “keep a completely open and frictionless border.”
Neil answered by inferring that neither side wants a hard border. He opined that it is a difficult issue to solve and claimed that it was always obvious that this problem would arise in the Brexit process. (I don’t remember him warning everybody about this during the referendum.)
The presenter enquired of Jenkin “Are you happy with the fact that the agreement today, during transition, is going to give EU citizens who come during that 2 year period exactly the same rights as their predecessors?”
The bespectacled Tory declared that he would not be, but he suspects that the “small print” decrees something different. “For a start, we need to be able to register, verify and register the people coming into the country.” “Also the enforcement mechanisms. We can’t have, you know, the United Kingdom Parliament bound lock, stock and barrel by the European Court of Justice.”
Jo dictated that today’s agreement does legislate for EU citizens’ rights and asked “What are you going to do about it?”
“It’ll be very difficult to get that agreement through the House of Commons” Jenkin replied. “Most constituencies” “voted Leave, they voted to be free of” the ECJ. He described the prospect of remaining under EU jurisdiction “without actually being a member” as “a constitutional outrage.”
“Would you feel the same about fishing quotas if we have no say on that and we’re still part of the EU laws on that?” Coburn questioned him.
Bernard responded “Fish is a very big problem, because how can we allow the EU to set fishing quotas for British boats” “when we have no chance of taking part in the negotiation?”
The host asked O’Brien “What is the Government going to do if there are people” “who can’t sign up to this transition deal?”
Neil answered “It looks from the rumours that are going around on Twitter like actually we’re getting a very good deal today on fish.” He opined that if we can sign trade deals but not implement them, “everyone’s going to be totally happy with that.”
A clip was shown of David Davis speaking in Brussels. He confirmed that Britain will sign trade deals which “will come into force when the implementation period is over.”
Jenkins reacted to this excerpt by expressing delight and added “There’s 1 important caveat that has to be put is that we must be able to conduct those negotiations in private,” contrary to the EU’s wishes.
The presenter went back to the video link and enquired of Reilly “Is there now a more positive” “outlook from the Irish Government” “over finding a solution that could involve technology?”
Gavan responded that the fact “the UK appears in principle now to be willing to implement the so-called backstop that was agreed 3 months ago certainly will help.” He thinks there will be some Irish frustration over how long it takes. “Time is really of the essence.” “We’re going to have to start looking at some kind of infrastructure, even if it is only technological cameras, you know, some sort of surveillance and the likes.” He stated that the Irish Government had previously ruled this out but are apparently now willing to compromise.
Lynn Davidson, Whitehall correspondent for The Sun, predicted that Scottish Tory MPs would not be happy about the fishing aspect. “Certainly John Lamont tweeted last night that he would not, he would be willing to vote down a final Brexit deal if there were not guarantees over fishing quotas and vessels.”
Jo asked Sam Coates how much the Government had had to compromise.
Coates, Deputy Political Editor of The Times, answered “Quite a lot. I mean you call it a transition, Theresa May calls it an implementation. Frankly, it’s a standstill! Our relationship with the European Union is basically going to stay the same, we’re just not having a seat in the decision making bodies.” “We’ve had to abandon plans to stop EU citizens who come here during the transition period from staying. We’ve had to abandon the kind of desire to bring back control of fishing.”
Coburn asked Davidson “How much trouble are the likes of Bernard Jenkin” “and colleagues like Jacob Rees-Mogg are going to cause the Prime Minister?”
Lynn replied “They’re just deciding right now.” “Bernard Jenkin’s obviously been very loyal to Theresa May” “but this puts him in a very awkward position.” She expressed legitimate misgivings about the fishing situation.
“Right, so it’ll be the vassal state that Jacob Rees-Mogg talked about” Jo noted.
The agreement is not a “deal” – it is a complete submission! The Government has not achieved anything that Brexiteers wanted and the electorate voted for.
Neil O’Brien MP was talking nonsense right from the start. His assertion that we are regaining control of our laws and borders is absurd. So too is his perception of a good deal regarding fishing and forming his opinion based on Twitter rumours is ludicrous.
Helen Goodman MP supports our surrender and seemed to only care about soft borders. Believing that 1 or 2 “ifs” constitutes “a lot” must surely call into question her level of numeracy. She re-used the groundless and emotive Remainer rhetoric about a cliff edge. All of this is true to form for the Labour party.
Bernard Jenkin MP talked a lot more sense, although he does not go far enough in my opinion and I do not share his optimism about some miraculous “small print” making everything better. We should be able to negotiate trade deals without EU interference and implement them immediately.
17.4 million British Citizens voted to control our laws, borders and fishing waters. They did not vote for huge “divorce” payments, something which we are not obliged to pay and is an unjust EU invention intended to weaken our resolve and fill their financial vacuum.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers for the Irish border, but frankly I don’t care what the EU has to say about it. As David Coburn MEP opined in the European Parliament, it is surely a matter for the British government to arrange with the leadership of Eire. I have looked at the Belfast Agreement and cannot find a commitment not to have border controls. I believe that Ireland would do well to exit the EU themselves, which would solve any border conundrum.
A transition period is merely a way for Remainers to undemocratically delay our independence. This utter acquiescence is indeed a step towards Rees-Mogg’s “vassal state” and would be even worse than remaining full EU members.
Remainers will be hoping that this induces another referendum with the result they want. We must not tolerate this subversion of the will of the people. It is my understanding that MEPs, including those of Britain, can effectively veto the Brexit deal. If this one-sided agreement is ratified through Parliament, we will therefore be reliant on the representatives of UKIP and other Eurosceptic MEPs to block it from coming into force.