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40 reasons to back the Brexit deal
30 Nov, 2018

Oh no they’re not

The Government has published its 40 reasons to back the Brexit deal. London4Europe Committee member and former HM Treasury senior civil servant Michael Romberg says why they are not – his text is in italics. Richard Corbett MEP, National EM Vice-Chair, has published his own rebuttal – read it here.

But it is a bit hard to know what the reasons are comparing the deal with. Sometimes it is with Remain [no freedom of movement], sometimes with No-deal [We will retain ….]. That just shows the muddled thinking of the Government.


1. Free movement will come to an end, once and for all, with the introduction of a new skills-based immigration system.

Free movement is a reciprocal right for UK citizens too. Just what is good about all UK citizens losing our freedom to move, live, work, study, do business, marry in the whole of the EU without having to ask an immigration officer for permission?

We need EU immigration, which plugs job vacancies and makes a net contribution to our economy. Our fellow citizens from the EU share our values and behaviours. When they stay here they assimilate. We should not erect barriers to them any more than we do to people from Ireland or an English county.

Most immigrants come from outside the EU. The Government never met its arbitrary immigration target even if you just look at non-EU immigration. Why would anyone trust them to keep immigration down after Brexit?


2. We will take back full control of our money which we will be able to spend on our priorities such as the NHS. We will leave EU regional funding programmes – with the UK deciding how we spend this money in the future.

We are one of the richest countries in the EU. It is right that we help to support the poorer countries who have emerged from years of Soviet oppression. Bringing them into the family of free, democratic and prosperous countries makes us safer.

The Government’s own forecasts show that the economic loss from Brexit far outweighs the savings on our contribution to the EU budget. There is no Brexit dividend.


3. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will end.

In order to have frictionless trade there needs to be trust between member states. That requires a common legal system.

Under the deal, the European Court of Justice will retain jurisdiction in Northern Ireland, and over rules related to the Customs territory.


4. In the future we will make our own laws in our own Parliaments and Assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

That’s where we make most of our laws now. 

EU laws are made in the directly elected European Parliament where we are represented by our MEPs and in the Council of Ministers where our government sits and wins 97% of the votes.

By making laws jointly with other member states we are able to tackle common problems like pollution, terrorism and standing up to tax evasion and anti-competitive practices of multinational companies, and enjoy enhanced legal protection for our exports.


5. We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy.

And put what in its place? Why does the Government think that we will find a markedly better balance between producers and consumers, environmentalists and those worried about prices, large and small firms?

The government has promised to continue subsiding farmers at the same level until 2021. Then what?


6. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state again, with control over our waters.

And immediately give up our control again: most of the fish we catch is exported to the EU. So in order to obtain market access we will need to offer access to the fishing grounds.

The fundamental problem of Britain’s small boat fisherfolk is how the UK’s quota is allocated between large and small boats. That is a UK not an EU decision.


7. We will be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world. Deals can be negotiated and ratified during the implementation period and put in place straight afterwards.

The permanent arrangements needed to ensure the Irish backstop is not called will probably mean some sort of UK customs union with the EU if we are not to have a customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That would rule out trade deals.

We do not need trade deals with other countries to trade successfully with them. Germany exports four times as much as we do to China, more than we do to India. It’s about domestic policy.

Why would we get a good trade deal when the EU could not? Our economic weight in the world is much smaller.


8. We will be an independent voice for free trade on the global stage, speaking for ourselves at the World Trade Organisation, for the first time in decades.

Trade negotiations are an exercise in brute power. It is better to be part of a large trading block like the EU – seven times as big as the UK.

In any case, it is uncertain whether there will be any World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules to fall back upon. Several countries such as the US, Australia and Russia have objected to the UK’s proposed new tariff schedules. Trump is blocking the appointment of judges on the WTO Dispute Settlement body.


9. We will be freed from the EU’s political commitment to ever closer union.

David Cameron had already secured us an opt out from that.

Steps towards it can only be implemented by treaty change over which each member state has a veto.


10. We will be out of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, recognising the UK’s long track record in protecting human rights.

Many EU human rights laws strengthen and add to existing UK legal protections. Why would anyone wish to have fewer legal rights and protections?


11. A fair settlement of our financial obligations, which will be less than half what was originally predicted.

We continue to pay the obligations from our membership but no longer sit on the governing bodies.


12. Both the one million UK citizens living in the EU and the three million EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights legally guaranteed so they can carry on living their lives as before.

UK citizens already living in the EU lose some of their rights, eg the right to move, work and live freely in other EU countries.

All of us in the UK have lost our future rights to freedom of movement. In Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, it was Geordie construction workers who benefited.


13. We will have a free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, helping to protect UK jobs. We will be the only major economy with such a relationship with the EU.

It is a much worse trading relationship than that we have now – frictionless trade as members of the single market and customs union. Friction costs run into £ billions a year. The agreement provides fewer benefits for our services which constitute 80% of our economy. Right now we have a say in, sometimes even determine, what the rules will be.


14. We’ve agreed with the EU that we will be as ambitious as possible in easing the movement of goods between the UK and the EU as part of our free trade area.

Very pretty but cannot hide the reality that we will be worse off than we are now.


15. We will have an implementation period after we leave the EU during which trade will continue much as it does now. This will allow government, businesses and citizens time to prepare for our new relationship.

Trade deals typically take about 7 years to negotiate.  In the 2-4 year transition period we are unlikely to know what the final arrangements will be. So at the end there will be a cliff edge when business and individuals have to adjust overnight and with little if any notice to new arrangements.


16. The deal will see a greater reduction in barriers to trade in services than in any previous trade deal.

We are in the single market for services. The deal means a huge increase in barriers to trade in services.


17. There will be an agreement that means UK citizens can practice their profession in the EU.

The rights will be inferior that what we have now, and almost certainly involve more bureaucracy and inconvenience. We will have lose the ability to influence future rules and developments.


18. A comprehensive deal that secures access to the EU market for our financial services sector meaning the EU cannot withdraw it on a whim. This will provide stability and certainty for the industry.

The EU cannot withdraw it on a whim – it has to act reasonably. But it can withdraw access unilaterally on short notice. Already City firms are relocating jobs in the EU.


19 - 22. A best in class agreement on digital, helping to facilitate e-commerce and reduce unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means.


We have agreed that there will be arrangements that will let data continue to flow freely, vital across our economy and for our shared security.


Trade arrangements for gas and electricity will help to ease pressure on prices and keep supply secure.


Strong rules will be in place to keep trade fair, so neither the UK nor EU can unfairly subsidise their industries against the other.


Even if it is as good as the rights we have now, we will have lost the ability to influence future developments.


23. We will have a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and comparable access for freight operators, buses and coaches.

Getting agreement to flights UK/EU will be easy. But cabotage – the right to pick up and set down passengers and freight – tends to be restricted to home country operations. Is the EU going to give UK airlines cabotage rights across the whole of the EU in return for rights to the more smaller UK domestic flights market?

The UK has already become less of an international air hub. EasyJet, for example, has established a new subsidiary and office in Vienna as a result of Brexit.  


24. We have agreed that there will be arrangements so we can take part in EU programmes like Horizon and Erasmus.

Not losing all of what we have is nice but only needed because we are leaving. Why are we leaving, remind me?

The UK used to gain more Horizon 2020 funding than it contributes, but it appears the UK no longer be eligible for any surplus.


25. There will be a co-operation agreement with Euratom, covering all the key areas where we want to collaborate.

Without a seat on the council, and stricter bureaucratic controls at borders.


26. Visa-free travel to the EU for holidays and business trips will continue.

Of course, but we have that with lots of countries. What we lose is the ability to live in the EU, to work there, to marry, to study, to retire. Our right to freedom of movement is being stopped.


27. Our new security partnership will mean sharing of data like DNA, passenger records and fingerprints to fight crime and terrorism, going beyond any previous agreement the EU has made with a third country.

So we will only lose some of what we have. Great.


28. Our new security partnership will enable the efficient and swift surrender of suspected and wanted criminals.

But not as efficient and swift as the arrangements we currently have. Our access to pan-European criminal databases will be more difficult. Nor will we take part automatically in future joint operations. Why does this loss of benefits make us safer?


29. Close co-operation for our police forces and other law enforcement bodies.

But not as close as now.


30. We will continue to work together on sanctions against those who violate international rules.

But we will not be in the room when actual decision are made.


31. We will work together on cyber-security threats and support international efforts to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

But without certainty that we will be included in contracts for development work or all that is going on.


32. Disputes between the UK and the EU on the agreement will be settled by an independent arbitrator, ensuring a fair outcome.

Only needed because we are leaving. At present, disputes between the UK and EU are settled by the European Court of Justice, a court set up by all member states and where the UK appoints one of the judges.


33. We will meet our commitment to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland led to the biggest loss of life in Western Europe from conflict short of actual civil war with competing armies in the field. It was a failure of UK statecraft on an unmatched scale.

Common EU membership underpinned the effective functioning of the Good Friday Agreement. Avoiding a hard border is just one element of that. Much more is needed to sustain the peace process.


34. We will keep the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland, ensuring everyday life continues as now.

So freedom of movement is alright for citizens of the Irish Republic but not for other EU citizens. Why is that exactly?


35. We will keep the Single Electricity Market between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will help maintain a stable energy supply and keep prices down in Northern Ireland.

So we keep something we have. Why are we leaving?


36. Both sides will be legally committed, by the Withdrawal Agreement, to use “best endeavours” to get the future relationship in place by the end of the implementation period, helping to ensure the backstop is never used.

But the Irish border problem is insoluble. The Government wish to leave the customs union, to have no border in the Irish sea, to have no border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Something has to give.

The reality is that the UK will stay in some sort of customs union with the EU. See also point 7.


37. An agreement to consider alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including all facilitative arrangements and technologies, and to begin preparatory work on this before we leave the EU, reflecting shared determination to replace the backstop.

The technological solutions advocated by Leavers do not exist. The administrative arrangements proposed by the Government are unworkably complex.


38. In the unlikely event we do have to use the backstop, a UK-wide customs area will ensure there is no customs border in the Irish Sea.

So no trade deals with other countries. See point 7.


39. Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected.

So no change from now. Except that the UK’s negotiating position is weakened because Spain has the backing of the EU and we will not.


40. The deal delivers on the referendum result. It takes back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

No-one knows what the referendum result meant because Leave had no plan. Nor did the Government devote any effort to a public process of working out what it was that the country wanted or needed.

The best way of protecting jobs and the security and integrity of the UK is to stay in the EU.

The best way of taking back control in the face of the real problems that we have is to stay in the EU, with a seat on the Governing bodies.





Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.


The text taken from the Government’s 40 reasons reflects the view of such members of the Government as have not yet resigned and not of the citizens of the United Kingdom.