(Please read this post as me giving my view on what the EU should do, for the sake of the EU. I am trying to set my view as a Brit for whom all of this has some minor personal implications to one side.)
Yesterday Brandon Lewis said in the House of Commons that the UK’s Internal Market Bill would “break international law in a very specific and limited way”. Today the Bill was published (PDF here) and the reaction has been one of shock as to how far it goes – see Peter Foster, Catherine Barnard and Tim O’Connor for example.
Charles Michel (President of the European Council) was quick off the mark, replying with this:
The Withdrawal agreement was concluded and ratified by both sides, it has to be applied in full.
Breaking international law is not acceptable and does not create the confidence we need to build our future relationship #Brexit
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) September 9, 2020
There is of course the idea that all of this is some sort of tactical play from the UK side (Pat Leahy calls it “sabre rattling”) and others – notably George Peretz and Malcolm Rifkind – think there is no chance this Bill will pass the House of Lords. If you see it all that way, all the EU side needs to do is keep talking, tolerate a few more tantrums from the UK side, and eventually the UK will come round, see some sense, and deal at the last minute.
I am no longer of the view that would be the right call.
The UK Government has clearly, plainly and lucidly set out its intentions – not only to break international law, but also by so doing to go back on commitments already made to the EU. How can anything the UK proposes it will do so as to get an agreement with the EU possibly be trusted now? And even if it is in law, can there be any serious guarantee that the UK will not in future simply seek to change what it has put on the statute book?
That is why this week is – for the sake of UK-EU relations – so corrosive. A good relationship requires each side to trust the other side. And the UK has shown with Lewis’s statement and the Internal Market Bill that this UK Government is categorically not to be trusted. That breakdown in trust is so bad that the EU itself looks ridiculous by continuing to even seriously talk to such a bunch of gangsters.
So the EU should walk away. Now.
Until the UK can categorically prove it will respect commitments previously entered into in the Brexit process there should be no more negotiations.
But – I hear you say – that means a lot of people are going to get hurt.
Yes, that is indeed so.
But far more of them are going to be hurt on the UK side than the EU side. And it was the people of the UK who elected this government that has taken them to this position, taken them to the point of a categoric and insistent renunciation of what has previously been agreed. There can be no legitimate hope that the EU shall take pity on the UK and its people for the mad max style of their own government – and indeed there is now reputation damage for the EU by carrying on negotiating with Johnson and his crew.
The sooner the UK wakes up to the consequences of having a government behaving this way the better. Assuming it will all, in the end, be OK has been the line on the EU side until now. Today is the point at which that line can hold no longer.
What everyone always feared, but never dared say or could not prove, has been laid out in black and white today: the UK does not intend to honour the commitments it has already made to the EU. Until that position changes there shall be no more negotiations between the EU and such a rogue actor.
[UPDATE 9.9.2020, 2100]
Meanwhile there is this… The Bill does not go far *enough* apparently.
ERG revolt now likely on internal market bill – David Jones tells me there will be amendments to ensure the bill goes further than at present
He wants to force ministers to block E-W checks and EU state aid rules applying in GB – going further than current bill
— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) September 9, 2020
From politico.eu today
“Barnier also said that London’s strategy in the talks is not transparent but laid out two possible interpretations: The more positive interpretation, Barnier said, is that Johnson is interested in a trade agreement with Brussels but is attempting to gain leverage. The more pessimistic outlook is that the U.K. is ready for a non-agreement scenario, Barnier said, according to two of the individuals.”
Err. The latter Michel. Do keep up. 🙂
Are the EU negotiating? I can never forget Yanis Varoufakis’s advice for anyone thinking of negotiating with the EU….
What did he mean? Perhaps that the EU doesn’t negotiate. Hector, bully, subvert, belittle, plot, divide, play little games? Yes. But negotiate? No. not really. M. Barnier is an apparatchik. He is not negotiating in good faith and does not have the power to do so.
The UK should walk away.
Dealing withe the EU bureaucracy is too sordid for a proud nation.
Mentioning Varoufakis renders your argument pretty weak from the off. He tried to fight the EU and lost. And even Tsipras could no longer stand by him.
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Yes. Stop negotiations now. Impasse. Move on.
(Strawberries for me please Dobromir).
As a UK citizen outside of the EU I won’t get to vote for leading EU politicians.
As a UK citizen inside the EU I don’t get to vote for leading politicians.
Tout ca change, tout ces’t le meme chose. Or la.
…….this post has been deleted as being insufficiently pro-EU…..
Damn. You got to that one before I did. xxxxx
“Office of the EU President of the Internet Blog Regulator”
…………this contribution has been removed for being insufficiently pro-EU…”
You really should have asked me about this first Patrique. We need to meet. Strasbourg or Brussels??
(Emilia Lavaloise. President of EU Duplication Council.)
Luigi and I will bring the Strawberries!
Allessandro Espositi. President of the CAP Agromafia Facillitation Dept.
Why not Prawns???
(Dobromir Ivanclavckikov. President of the EU Agency for the Promotion of the Southern European Prawn.)
Definitely enough of us for a new department now – or even an entire Commission! Strasbourg or Brussels?
Fr. Lukas Muller. Rector to the President of the Department for Fluffy things which are absolutely no use on a Tuesday but which can still be used to stuff Toys (or as a Taxidermy Resource).
Will you take notes or shall we just meet in a back room and tell no-one?
Angela Heinrich Weishaupt. President of the EU Department for German Rubber Stamping (EVERYTHING please).
So come on guys was that prawns or what??!!
No! Stawberries – dummkopf!!!. And don’t forget – my word is final! (Angela Heinrich WEISHAUPT – with a P)
Some of us aren’t happy about this Angela. At all actually. I mean loads of people are allergic to prawns as well as the fact that they are often produced by impoverished countries in dangerously re-salinised coastal areas of marginal grazing. Stawberries would be much nicer. Produced within the EU by the Ialian Agromafia with minimal subsidy (OK so not THAT minimal but, hey, we’re all friends here right?). Can we ask you to re-consider. I know we don’t stand a chance if you’ve really decided but show some compassion. Not least to Prawns. Dobromir. (DOI – CEO “Never Mind the Whales – SAVE THE KRILL!! EU Charity75839485/69 Which reminds me could we have another 6 Billion Euros from the No. 12 EU Charity/Ethical Developments Fund (Unaudited) please. You know – Like last August – the bulk order of Mercedes? – You remember!
Yes..Yes….PLEASE….EU…walk away. And take M. “Giv’em a hard time so no-one else leaves” Barnier with you.
EU strategy in the negotiations is not at all opaque.
1. Try to annoy the English until they get cross and then blame them for getting cross.
2. Make things very difficult so no other EU member thinks of leaving.
3. Try to destroy the UK Union of countries by manipulating politics in Ireland and Scotland.
4. Belittle Parliament , UK institutions and our Press.
What the majority in the UK think, expressed in 2016 Referendum and last year’s overwhelming election victory (yes, we have Democracy here…. it’s a UK thing …. you should try it EU), is summarised succinctly in Genesis 1:22 of the King James Version of the Bible.
But you’ll have to translate it into Anglo-Saxon vernacular first.
(Apologies, that may a bit too complicated for anyone not English)
I am not sure about the fact that electoral system in UK can be actually defined as “democratic”. In my humble opinion, a party collecting about 25% of the votes should collect about 25% of the MPs. In UK, the first-past-the-post system is really distorting.
When UK is going to have an electoral system able to really represent the willing of the voters, it will be able to give democracy lessons to other countries 😉
Please, PLEASE can we just leave this dog’s dinner of democratically deficient pseudopolitcs called the EU. I have no intention of being told what to do by people who have no mandate, who I have never voted for and who I cannot remove.
Make them go away Mummy!!
I am European citizen and I freely elected my representatives in the European Parlament.
I will never tolerate that a foreign country, where a medieval unelected fossil called “House of Lords” is able to take part of the legislative process, can jeopardize my sovereignty of European citizen.
How’s it going Pinocchio? Still losing?
If the EU walks away then you can bet your socks IT will be blamed for no deal by the UK government and the vast majority of Brits who don’t watch the TV news or current affairs programmes will believe them. So I don’t agree the EU should walk away. There is no way this Bill will get through all stages by year end when a deal is needed. Better to protest, talk and then wave goodbye.
I concur complately with your analysis. I have a genuine, visceral fear that the UK government is heading towards totalitarianism and, if this is allowed to go unchallenged, it will embolden them further. Most likely, a terrible few years for the United Kingdom – and its dissolution – cannot be avoided. Better the horror now and get it over with.
By and large, I agree. Under no circumstances should talks continue.
The EU should politely but firmly let the UK know that talks would be stopped and instead they’d would flash out legal texts for agreements she is willing to offer to the UK for signing until mid November 2020.
Needless to say that these terms must rigorously protect the Single Market. Nothing can be relied on trust; everything must be unambiguously defined; governance must include close monitoring, sharp and quick retaliation measures. In other words: Terms must weather all future storms any other thuggish HMG may apply to the EU .
If the UK wants to sign on these terms entirely dictated by the EU: Fine.
If not: Equally fine. See these rogue thugs AKA Conservatives later in 2021 when the UK runs out of medicines and jobs.
At the same time, all MS should activate their ‘no agreement’ plans to be ready on Jan 1st, in particular Ireland to ensure that they won’t become a backdoor into the SM.
Ireland should work with i.e. France, The Netherlands and ferry companies to divert RoRo ferries (from e.g. Calais/Dover) to connect Irish ports and continental Europe.
IMO the Commission, the Council, the majority of MEPs as well as EU civil servants have been very naive for too long, drunk by nostalgia and wishful thinking. It’s overdue to face the cold reality that the UK is a rogue and hostile state and must be dealt with as such.
The saying that you get the government you deserve has never been more realised than now, I have never contemplated giving this extreme right wing government my backing, yet I will suffer because of the fools that did.
Isn’t the latest Johnson volte-face one of many that makes his election to lead the country a fraud? The electorate has been misled on so many issues, and parliament bypassed so many times, the government has become a dictatorship. He is not a fit person to hold high office. Impeachment is overdue.