Pain and Punishment

Monday October 1, 2018

Britain’s Brexit is being betrayed by Brussels bureaucrats whose primary purpose is to inflict pain and punishment on our people.

There is a deep and distinct disconnection between British politicians and European Union (EU) politicians. The majority of British politicians appear to prioritise the economic interest of the nation above the political interest. For example, the UK Government is content for naval support vessels, and for other arms and defence vehicles, to be built overseas as it is cheaper and therefore seen as better value for money. Many pro-Brexit politicians were not won over by arguments of national sovereignty but rather by economic free trade arguments and, consequently, they place a higher value on economic interests rather than political interests.

This is in direct contrast to most EU politicians who prioritise the political interest over the economic interest of the nation. For example, to continue the defence analogy, France mostly buys its military material from French companies even though this is a very expensive exercise. This is because their definition of value is not just economically defined but encompasses national security, social values and the public good i.e. political concerns.

The prime example of this prioritisation of the political interest over the economic interest is, however, most clearly seen in the euro zone. In the many recent euro crises, it would have been in the economic interest of most countries to come out of the euro zone and adjust their currencies and policies to best suit their economic conditions. However, unlike the British who withdrew from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 after it became economically unviable, all the euro zone countries have put their political interest – that is the EU project – above their economic interest and remained a part of the euro zone.

Consequently, there appears to be an inability among British politicians to understand that, even if the EU will suffer economically, – e.g. German car manufacturers, as they have recently shown with Mini production – due to not having a trade deal with the UK, it will accept that as part of the political price to be paid to ensure both the survival and growth of the EU and as a visible punishment to the UK in order to frighten off other potential leavers.

Essentially, this analysis leads to the conclusion that the whole approach of the EU to the Brexit negotiations is to ensure that the UK does not end up with a trade deal and that it is, essentially, an exercise in punishment designed to be as long, protracted and costly for the UK as possible – with a secondary aim of lessening support for Brexit among the UK population and attempting to ensure that the UK either stays a part of the EU or as a significant contributor to EU funds – as they will sorely miss our billions in their budget.

This is why the EU is trying to get the UK to pay a bribe for a trade deal – what they euphemistically call a settlement of our obligations. What obligations are these I wonder? The UK has been a net contributor to the EU since it joined in 1973 – that is 45 years of more than paying our way. The EU’s own negotiation rules state that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, yet they now insist that we legally owe them tens of billions before they will agree to even discuss a future trade deal.

Of course, if any other country or company demanded a large payment before even discussing a trade deal it would correctly be called a bribe i.e. corruption. We should not be surprised at corruption in the EU as its own audit watchdog has refused to sign off the EU’s own budget for many years due to endemic fraud and corruption. Should we – the UK – pay a bribe? No, of course not. The UK has long taken a stand against corruption and this should not change now. We should simply not pay the bribe the EU is demanding. We are not legally obliged to do so, according to the House of Lords Financial Affairs Sub-Committee. When we leave the EU, our financial obligations to the EU end. Simple as that.

It is instructive in these negotiations that we have seen the UK time and again compromising when the EU has made no such compromise at all. Such a one-sided negotiation process will inevitably end up with a one-sided agreement – a one-sided agreement that is not in the UK’s interest. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing every time and expecting a different result every time. Why are we continually wasting our time and taxpayer’s money? The problem was that British politicians thought they would get a bespoke deal that will ensure access to the single market for the City – however, the EU has consistently stated that the single market and its four freedoms are inviolate. We need to realise this – the EU has stated that there will be no bespoke deal for the UK outside of the rules of the single market.

This point has been proved by the PM’s Chequers attempt at an agreement which, partly acknowledging the City point above, tried to stay in the single market for goods but left the City – i.e. services – out of the single market. Yet again the EU said no, that would violate the single market – a lesson our politicians have still not learnt.

For the EU, there can be no dilution of the four freedoms of the single market as this would lead to calls from other countries for a relaxation of the rules to suit their economies – this would lead to an unravelling of the ever closer union policy which is driving the federalisation agenda of the EU. For the EU to benefit politically from Brexit – i.e. the removal of the strongest voice against federalisation – it is essential that there is no relaxation of rules but rather that they are more strictly enforced in order to ensure that federalisation continues apace. We have seen this in the renewed push for an EU army and a common defence and security policy, which we were assured during the referendum was not on the cards, but was immediately pushed after the Brexit result.

On the economic front, Barnier’s Chequers presentation almost gave the game away by revealing that releasing the City from the red tape of the single market would allow the UK to grow this economic sector at the expense of the EU. If you follow the logic of this argument, then the best outcome for Brexit would be the UK also freeing goods as well as services from the red tape of the single market – strictures of the single market would be more appropriate than freedoms, it would appear, by the EU’s own admission. Far from convergence, it would appear, even the EU recognises that divergence is the best Brexit policy for the UK. So damaging was this presentation that our Prime Minister even had to ask the EU to try to hide it in order to lessen the media exposure of these truths, which were – quite rightly – undermining support for her disastrous and damaging Chequers proposal. The presentation was viewed by our Prime Minister just hours after Barnier presented it, yet again displaying the effectiveness and efficiency of our intelligence service.

The EU will sorely miss the expertise and world class outcomes of our security and intelligence services as a part of their common security and defence policy. This issue of security is, perhaps, one of the best examples of how the EU is determined to punish Britain both politically and economically, even at considerable cost to themselves. The UK has passed on much high-grade intelligence to the EU – saving lives and protecting the public; while not one-way traffic, the information flow comes much more from us than to us.

Following Brexit, it is in the interests of the EU to ensure security co-operation, which benefits all. However, the example of Galileo has proved beyond a doubt that the EU is just not interested in co-operation but rather confrontation and punishment.

The fact is that, by excluding British technology, geographic locations and funding, it means this project will be much more difficult for the EU to complete – yet this proves they are willing to harm themselves in order to punish the UK. Yet more evidence they are not interested in any deal except no deal.

Another example of the EU playing fast and loose with security concerns is their using Northern Ireland (NI) as a political weapon. We are told the Belfast Agreement (also called the Good Friday Agreement) means there has to be EU law across the island of Ireland. Quite the opposite is, in fact, the case. The Belfast Agreement – endorsed by a vote across the island of Ireland – actually accepted the partition of Ireland, removed the Irish constitution’s territorial claim and accepted that NI is a part of the UK, unless and until its people vote to accept a united Ireland. That has not happened. Therefore NI remains a part of the UK and, like the rest of the UK, will leave the EU on 31st March 2019. It is unacceptable that NI would be treated like a part of the EU and not a part of the UK. To force NI to remain a part of the EU and not the UK would, in fact, be against both the letter and the spirit of the Belfast Agreement. Our Prime Minister is right to insist no British Prime Minister could accept anything other than NI remaining a full part of the UK. To do otherwise is to dismiss democracy, both that of the people of NI in their desire to remain a part of the UK and the result of the UK Brexit vote to leave the EU.

To those who say, “Why should NI remain a part of the UK?” and, “What is the matter with it staying in the EU and becoming part of a united Ireland?”, I would recommend a history lesson. In two world wars, the UK came very close to being starved into submission. Winning the Atlantic wars against the U-Boats was crucial to the UK’s survival. Essential to keeping the Atlantic sea lanes open were the Irish ports. Denial of use of the Treaty ports in neutral Ireland during WW2 only emphasised how essential NI was with its 26 airfields, important naval bases and back up Western Approaches command bunker in Londonderry, where the U-Boat fleet surrendered in 1945.

Command of the waves around the UK is now even more essential in today’s century of uncertainty, with the rise of a resurgent Russia and a challenging China, with both showing increasing interest and activity in the Atlantic in recent years, forcing NATO to re-instate an Atlantic Command. A united Ireland would be a neutral Ireland and, hence, a threat to the security of the UK and NATO. It has been said that, if Ireland had been united and neutral during WW2, then Britain would have had to invade Ireland in order to provide the coastal bases necessary to survive. The strategic importance of NI to UK security is now apparent and we need to ensure the EU does not break up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We need to remember our history, as we can be sure Berlin\Brussels remember theirs.

As if more evidence of the EU’s intransigence is required, we have the Irish border issue, used by the EU to drum up fear of a return to the Troubles. Let’s examine this issue. We are led to believe that, because of a democratic decision – the Brexit vote – republicans in NI will now return to violence to achieve their political aim of a united Irish republic. However, there is not the capacity nor appetite to return to widespread violence among the NI population. The US is a vastly different place than it was before 9/11 – there would be a lack of support there too, both in moral and monetary terms, for Irish terrorists. Yet it was the democratic decision to endorse the Belfast Agreement that ultimately led to the 2007 St Andrews Agreement, which allowed terrorists into Government in NI – i.e. the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and others. The law-abiding people of Northern Ireland had to accept, as a result of democracy, that a terrorist was now a Minister in their Government. Republicans have declared they have laid down their arms and now support democracy and the rule of law. Now is the test of the truth of their declarations; if they cannot accept a democratic vote to leave the EU, then they are not democrats.

Democracy is, of course, feared by the EU, hence its lack of respect for, and avoidance of, democratic actions. This is why the EU demands that any agreement must be final and binding and that it cannot be changed by any future British Government. This breath-taking arrogance shows complete disrespect for our democracy and for the sovereignty of Parliament. This, of course, should come as no surprise to us as the EU has also demanded that there is a legally enforceable backstop, which is just another way of trying to tie us down to an agreement which would not be in our interest. The EU does not want a deal, instead it wants to ensure there is no deal; therefore, it is desperately trying to ensure that, when the inevitable no deal occurs, the UK is then locked into a legally enforceable agreement. The UK should ensure it does not agree to a backstop, which will not be in our interest but will only work to ensure the ongoing political and economic punishment of the UK.

Realising this, we should, instead, be promoting trade deals with other growing economies around the world – as the Financial Times recommends – rather than wasting our time on an EU that is deliberately being awkward and obstructive for a political purpose. A clear timescale of when we would leave would provide essential certainty and clarity to UK businesses and allow them to prepare for withdrawal. This is, of course, the Government’s fall-back position in 2019 if no deal is reached; however, all the time between now and then is just a waste of time, effort and taxpayers’ money and we should skip this unnecessary persistent pain and punishment and just leave – as per the referendum result. Do we need an immediate trade deal with the EU? No, neither China nor the US has a trade deal with the EU but both rely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, as we should, in the interim.

If you agree with this analysis, then the only logical approach is for the UK not to play the EU’s dangerous game – where they make up and amend the rules to suit them – but rather to pull the rug out from under them and just ignore the Article 50 divorce process – which is so obviously designed to run to the EU’s advantage, as its drafter has acknowledged – and just repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and revert to WTO rules. A trade deal could then be hammered out with the EU in our own time, rather than forced around an arbitrary timeline designed to put pressure on UK negotiators and force UK compromises, which in any case will not be acceptable as the EU requires a no deal in order to be seen to punish the UK and deter other potential leavers. What the Government needs to realise is that no deal is coming and it is time to start the public messaging that not only will the UK survive, but it will also thrive, as no deal at this time is actually our best deal.

The Conservative Monday Club, PO Box 7694, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3XR