Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Brexit loophole exposed: Former MEP highlights worrying aspect of UK-EU future masterplan

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The Brexit divorce negotiations produced a Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration outlining the goals of the ongoing trade talks. Former Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips warned the Political Declaration includes “very concerning” loopholes that could resist in the UK remaining deeply linked to the European Union after December 2020. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Phillips said: “That political declaration had a lot of concerning material, very concerning material that essentially spelt out subjugation to the EU.

 

“Becoming an EU satellite state, having to fall in line on all matters, whether it be regulation, taxation, even when it comes to military cooperation and foreign policy.

“We were told repeatedly by the Conservatives, ‘well, it’s ok, it’s not legally binding.’

“To which I would say, what was the purpose of it? What did the EU think the purpose of this would be?”

The Political Declaration set out the framework for the future relationship the UK and the EU aspired to establish at the end of the trade talks.

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Within the declaration, both sides committed to an “ambitious” trading relationship “on the basis of a free trade agreement” as well as market access and national treatment based on the rules of the host state. 

Ms Phillips also warned of “more trouble down the line” because of the Government’s choosing to sign up to the declaration while maintaining it is “non-binding.”

She said: “There’s a clause in the Withdrawal Agreement which says the UK and the EU must to best endeavour to reach an agreement.

“That is pinged to the Political Declaration and I think we may soon find out down the line that it is very legally tricky to say, ‘we’ve been acting in good faith, using best endeavour to reach an agreement but this part we agreed to is not legally binding, we’re now putting it in the bin.’

“It sounds totally disingenuous. I think there’s going to be a lot more trouble down the line.”

Brussels and London have indeed shown on separate occasions how differently they are interpreting the role of the Political Declaration in the talks.

Following the fourth round of negotiations earlier this month, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier took a pop at his British counterpart suggesting they re-read the document.

Mr Barnier said: “This document is available in all languages, including English. It is not difficult to read. Good weekend reading, if I may say.

“And the declaration was negotiated with Prime Minister Johnson himself. It was approved by the leaders of the 27 member states at the European Council in October 2019.

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“It is for us and it will remain for us, the only valid reference, the only relevant precedent in this negotiation as it was agreed by both sides.

“Yet round after round, our British counterparts seek to distance themselves from this common basis.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday rekindled hopes an agreement could be reached in time after a virtual meeting with Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

Mr Johnson called for new “momentum” in the talks, saying: “It is very clear what we need to achieve. I don’t think we’re that far apart, but what we need is a bit of oomph in the negotiations, and I was pleased that Ursula von der Leyen and other EU officials all agree.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t get this done in July.”

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