Phase 1 Joint Report

Trade Unionists Against the EU: Statement on Phase 1 Joint Report on Brexit negotiations.

This is not the take it or leave it report as commentators from either side of the divide fantasise that it is.

It is a report on negotiations which are bound, as the document itself recognises, by a framework that accepts there is nothing agreed until everything is agreed.

There are inevitable negotiating ambiguities in the text at this stage, with the British government pleasing its detractors and supporters more than the EU negotiators are pleasing their side.

It is quite right for Britain to adopt this approach and to be prepared to leave the EU if necessary without a deal. In trade union terms, up until the moment a decision is taken to ballot for strike action, anything is possible in negotiations and positional play.

European capital has potentially more to lose without a deal than with one and Britain is in a very strong negotiating position in many ways.

All discussions, until the final total negotiation takes place, will be subject to speculation, false claims and above all, systematic undermining by the pro-EU establishment. This will intensify against the as the deadline to leave gets closer. But ultimately the government is now implementing the people’s decision to leave the EU.

We saw the EU and international state and finance machines go into overdrive before this first round of negotiations. Their forlorn efforts were in fact a desperate show of weakness, with state agencies, pundits and pathetic skivvies lashing out against individual and organisational campaigners who supported the referendum result. These attempts at disruption will only worsen throughout 2018.

The frenzy of BBC and other media reports prior to the negotiations sought to blame every cold spell on the fact of Brexit.

Here are some important facts we should keep in mind.

Britain will leave the EU on March 29th 2019. The date is set.

Tony Blair and a generation of pro-EU politicians are campaigning as if there were no tomorrow against Brexit. We need to ask where their motives lie.

Morgan Stanley, one of the many leading finance houses that argued as long ago as the 1930s for a federal Europe free from national democratic controls, has admitted that Brexit will be bad for capitalism generally.

More importantly, the Joint Report put a halt to the attempt by the EU and their supporters to stop negotiations before they began.

The British people have held firm behind the referendum decision and forced the need for negotiations to commence and for a quick, sharp exit to take place. The panic shown by the other side shows how frightened they are that they will not succeed in changing this.

The rights of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain and 1 million Britons living in EU countries are protected, along with the rights of any family members, or potential spouses they may have from other countries. Importantly Britain will resume the right to deal with criminal and security investigations of those in this category who may be a threat.

No one, least of all the negotiators on both sides, will fully understand what the financial settlement means in real terms. The EU’s budget remains largely opaque and fails their audit tests year after year.

It is clear that the suggested financial settlement is far less than the EU wanted and in comparison with the destitution of millions of people in Britain, far more than we can afford. Nevertheless, the longer term potential for growth outside the EU has clearly influenced the government’s position.

There will also be various forms of repayments to Britain, including capital in the European Central Bank.

The involvement of the European Court of Justice will be at the behest only of British judges; it will have no power of automatic intervention.

In relation to Ireland, in effect the status quo has been retained and the terms of the Good Friday agreement are protected. While Dublin may have enjoyed the frisson of doing Brussels’s business against Britain and some in the north enjoyed their allegiance to Westminster, Ireland’s potential to become a strong trading partner of an independent Britain could become a realistic long term prospect.

It is this complexity about Britain’s relationship with Ireland and the relationship between Dublin, Belfast and London that leads to the report’s most tantalising paragraph.

“The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.”

Of course no one seriously believes that a disagreement between Dublin and Belfast, or Belfast Dublin and London will ultimately scupper the majority position of the people of Britain. Brussels hopes it will of course. That’s why the people of Ireland must uphold the 1998 Agreement and recognise that independence would be good for them too.

The one thing in the agreement that is found in the complexities of the section on Ireland which is crystal clear to all parties, is that Britain is leaving the EU and “the EU’s Internal Market and Customs Union.” No interim report wording will alter this.

The decision by the House of Commons to scrutinise the final settlement, while for some is a vain attempt to find new ways of remaining in the EU and deploying the House of Lords to help achieve this, will for the majority be the moment when Parliament restores its sovereignty and accepts the people’s will to run our own affairs.