THE BATTLE IS LOST,BUT THE CAUSE REMAINS.
Leavers must be allowed their moment of backslapping and self-congratulation as we sever our links with the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union.
Those of us who continue to think that Brexit was a profound mistake (a majority in some recent opinion polls) are going to have to live with this state of affairs for some years.
However, what I found most irritating was the invitation by Ministers for us all to forget past differences and come together as one happy family. Obviously, there is no point in maintaining the rancour of recent years, but I decline the implied invitation to renounce my belief that the UK would be better off in the European Union.
I assert my right to believe that the best interests of the UK are served by being a leading member of an institution that has brought prosperity, and above all peace, to the continent of Europe. An institution that has allowed our young people to feel part of a wider community, that has facilitated scientific and medical co-operation and has given aid to regions free of the petty prejudices of individual country’s ministers.
I therefore assert my right to associate myself with any movement that is started to rejoin the EU, not in an aggressive way or denying the result of the 2016 Referendum. But just as UKIP began as a small inconsequential force in the 1990s, so a campaign to return will I believe build as the stupidity of Brexit is revealed in the years to come.
Meanwhile let’s look at this great deal that the Prime Minister has achieved. There will be no tariffs, but business is having to cope with a massive increase in export form filling to cope with rules of origin regulations.
A treaty that deals in minute detail with the tiny fishing industry but is largely silent on the vastly more important financial services market, shows how thin the deal is. Johnson failed on his fishing targets, and financial services account for 80% of our exports.
A sovereign state? Not quite. Apart from our membership of NATO and the UN which did away with that idea; under the trade deal we must maintain EU health, employment and quality standards or we could be subject to a rebalancing mechanism to resolve disputes.
We are no longer subject to the European Court of Justice. Whoopee! Instead, we have the Partnership Council of EU and UK representatives and an international arbitration tribunal to arbitrate. Still feel sovereign?
There is no automatic recognition of professional qualifications or aerospace designs, our young people are excluded from the Erasmus learning scheme and taking a pet on holiday becomes really complicated.
It gets seriously worse when we come to security. We are out of Europol and Eurojust and there are fears that our ability to fight crime and terrorism will be more difficult now.
Finally, the agreement makes the breakup of the UK more likely. The Scots, having voted to Remain, are seething and Northern Ireland will still follow Single Market rules with checks across the Irish Sea and oversight by the European Court of Justice. The case for a united Ireland grows stronger.
A word on parliamentary scrutiny of all this. It has been a joke. One day at Westminster, no days in the European Parliament. That’s something MEPs need to change.
So, we’ll wait and see if these new arrangements are what a slim majority of people wanted. If not the movement to rejoin will grow, although next time it will be essential for us pro Europeans to make people feel much more a part of this great project.