Given the extraordinary report in the DT that our government is prepared to ‘to be tied to the Customs Union until 2021’, we publish the two following Open Letters. The first one is from our correspondent Septimus Octavius:
Dear Mrs May,
I read with immense interest your article in the Sunday Times (13th May 2018), in which you said you needed our help. I have of course been trying to help you for more than a year now, but so far, sadly, to no avail.
We live at present in the most surreal of times. Anyone studying the UK news over the last three months would assume that the UK was in control of its own laws, and that the parties to the Article 50 negotiations were all based in the UK.
The reality, of course, is completely different. The UK is subject to sovereign control by the EU, and the parties to the Article 50 negotiations are the UK and the EU, by their appointed representatives.
In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU, meaning we regain control of our laws, our borders and our money. Any derogation from any of those three elements would mean that we were not leaving the EU.
On 29 March 2017 you successfully gave Notification under Article 50, with the full backing of the Houses of Parliament. That sets in train EU laws which the UK is powerless to alter or stop. Those EU laws provide that the UK will be released from the Treaties of the EU when the European Parliament formally approves a Withdrawal Agreement reached between the EU and the UK, or if that has not happened by 11.00 pm UK time on 29 March 2019, then at that moment. Either way, deal or no deal, the result is the same; the UK is mercifully released from the Treaties.
Stating the obvious, nothing will actually change at all (subject to the technical point which follows) when the UK is released from the Treaties, and the UK’s opening position is that nothing needs to change for the future thereafter. The technical point is that all EU Regulations will disappear like a puff of smoke from UK law unless some UK law has been passed beforehand to preserve them. Nobody will challenge the making of such a law, so please do this as soon as you can.
Assuming that law is indeed passed, the whole of the “Acquis” will remain firmly embedded in UK law after the Release from the Treaties. Nothing needs to change at all in terms of the trade in goods and services between the UK and the EU, and so that is the proposal which must be put to Michel Barrier, as I now call him. Again, nobody in the UK would argue against such a proposal.
It would then be up to Michel Barrier to state expressly what changes he wants (if any) as part of a Withdrawal Agreement; and he should of course be reminded that if there is no Withdrawal Agreement, there is no “Divorce Bill”. If the changes he wants are little better than the WTO default, then there would be no incentive for a deal at all, would there?
The crucial point is that Michel Barrier has not yet been asked what changes he seeks. Until the UK knows that, there is nothing for the UK to consider at all, so all such discussion as is going on now is wholly pointless.
Finally, you must get the ECA 1972 repealed as soon as possible. If it is still in force when the UK is released from the Treaties, it will promptly put them all back again!
The UK holds all the Aces in these talks, and should play its hand accordingly.
With all best wishes, Septimus Octavius
The second important Open Letter is from our contributor Ceri Jayes, addressed to her MP Sarah Wollaston and sent to her local paper:
Martin McGowan-Scanlon laments our MP, Sarah Wollaston’s ‘absolute zero grasp of business’. (Letters May 11). I would add that she also fails to appreciate that businesses hate uncertainty. Her actions are but adding to that uncertainty and could contribute to bringing the Government down.
In the run up to General Elections the Government of the day prepares for various outcomes. However David Cameron was so confident that the electorate would vote to remain in the EU in the referendum that he made no plans at all. No wonder the man who claimed ‘I’m not a quitter’, did exactly that on the morning after the democratic vote went against him.
Our MPs work for us and it is Sarah’s duty to her constituents to uphold the mandate given. Due to Theresa May’s weak leadership we have had 23 months of uncertainty and Sarah’s actions have contributed to that. It is likely that a General Election will be called this Autumn.
Sarah points out that it is an MP’s duty to scrutinise legislation but it seems that a blind eye has been turned to scrutiny up until now by many members of both Houses of Parliament.
Here are some examples. Does Sarah realise that the EU directive abolishing the use of energy-heavy tungsten bulbs and modern LED fixtures from 1 Sep 2020 could result in theatres closing down in the UK if we are still in a transition period? This is but one of many more regulations coming down the track.
Does she also realise that being trapped in the 21 month transition after the official date of leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 will mean that the EU will be free to enforce detrimental legislation to cull what is left of our fishing fleets? Danish trawlers will be able to pulse beam trawl right up to our beaches causing environmental devastation in the 12 mile limit which currently gives some protection to our inshore and shell-fishermen and nursery grounds? Our fishing industry is on the brink of destruction due to EU policies. Our MP should be doing her utmost to ensure the return of that industry estimated to be worth £6-8 billion and the opening up of thousands of job opportunities in coastal communities.
Here is another uncomfortable fact – the members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons who are trying to wreck the Brexit negotiations are trying to mislead us. Under World Trade Organisation rules we can maintain the current zero tariffs with the EU for up to ten years whilst we negotiate a Free Trade Agreement.
The EU is a 1970’s solution to 1950’s problems. It is a monolithic, one-size fits all, outdated concept dependent on endless money printing for its existence.
In America they are coming to terms with a President who draws on his successful business background, speaks out, acts in a decisive manner and delivers his election campaign promises. It is patently obvious that our MP and PM are not blessed with similar attributes.
Respectfully, Ceri Jayes, Chairman, Totnes Branch UKIP