By Graham Stringer MP
The spectre of Brexit hung over both the Labour and Conservative conferences this autumn. Unfortunately that was all it did just hang there like a whiff of an irritating bad smell that nobody can be bothered dealing with. But Brexit is more than just an annoying trifle it is, as we are regularly told, the most important political event in all our lifetimes. This being so, the Labour and Conservative front benches should have welcomed advice from open debate at their conferences as neither party has a Brexit policy fit for purpose.
Labour’s position opposing the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is irrational and mistaken. (The now famous Henry VIII clauses can be whittled down during the passage of this bill through Parliament.) The bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act which effectively took us into the EU and transfers EU laws into UK law. Not to do this would leave a legal black hole. Some MPs are mistakenly of the view that voting against the withdrawal bill would halt or reverse Brexit. This is simply wrong. The process of departure is governed by international law that parliament’s actions cannot touch. Chaos would ensue if the bill did not pass into law.
Keir Starmer, Labour’s lead on Brexit, is a clever lawyer and knows this. Peddling more illusions to the Remainer gallery is a form of cruelty to those who against all the evidence still see the EU as a desirable, progressive body. We are leaving the EU and the only way back would be to apply to rejoin. Presumably this would happen after another referendum promised by a victorious party in a general election. This would not mean taking up where we left off but ditching Sterling and joining the Euro and the Schengen Area as a new member. Good luck to any party selling that!
The Conservative’s position is worse than irrational it is irresponsible. They should pay Len McCluskey, the Unite General Secretary, for lessons in how to negotiate. Can you imagine Len or any of his negotiating team arriving at a meeting with top management and saying “whatever you do we won’t go on strike but we would like to hear how you are going to reduce the wages and terms and conditions of our members”? This is just what Theresa May is doing. She has agreed to talk about handing over huge sums of money (up to £100billion) without any idea what Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is going to offer. This would be extraordinary in any circumstances but when there is no legal obligation to pay a penny after March 2019 it is catastrophically inane. While striking, like no deal, is not desirable but may be necessary and is certainly better than a bad deal.
The Prime Minister having decided to give the EU something for nothing has also claimed we need a transition period when she hasn’t got the faintest inkling of what we are transitioning from and to. Teresa May should not lose her job because she had a sore throat, part of the scenery fell down or security was lax but because she fails to grasp the game Michel Barnier is playing on behalf of the EU. She is failing our country badly.
Firstly he doesn’t want a deal. In his own words he wants to ‘teach the British people what Brexit means’. His main concern is protecting the integrationist EU project and the vested interests of the fat cat commissioners. He wants to disincentivise any country following Britain’s democratic lead by handing out severe financial punishment. He secondly has the outlook of a French Imperialist who looks at the UK as a rebellious colony. He probably has in mind what the French did to Haiti in 1825 when they demanded and got 150 million Francs per year for recognising its independence. This of course is why Haiti has figured as one of the poorest countries on the planet for nearly 200 years. A state of penury I am sure the EU would like to reduce us to.
It’s time the Government and the opposition woke up to this and started a political onslaught on the commission. After all every country in the EU has more jobs dependent on trade with the UK than we have with them. Barnier doesn’t care about the jobs in the EU and the workers cannot vote him out. Which is why we’re right to leave.
Labour Leave shares a number of viewpoints from external commentators, both Leave and Remain, without necessarily endorsing any of the viewpoints therein.
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