THERESA May’s Brexit divorce deal is an “atrocious” agreement which will leave Britain shackled to the EU and its rules indefinitely, and which represents “true vassalage”, barrister Martin Howe has said in a forensic point-by-point demolition of her proposals.
Mrs May yesterday claimed “a Brexit deal is within our grasp” after returning from talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in advance of Sunday’s summit of bloc leaders, at which the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement is likely to be agreed. But her claims rang hollow for Mr Howe, a specialist in EU law who let loose in a caustic column for The Sun. He wrote: “Politicians who claim this is just a bad treaty – one we can get out of later – are being ignorant or disingenuous.”
With respect to the backstop for Northern Ireland, for example, he said once it was in force, the UK would not be able to leave it without a joint decision with the EU which he said amounted to a veto over the UK’s exit.
The backstop would lock the UK into a customs union with the EU – with no decision-making powers whatsoever, he explained.
It would also force the UK to maintain the EU’s tariffs against competing goods from the countries, which he said would “kill stone dead” the possibility of forging trade deals with “fast-growing economies” around the world.
Instead, it contains a commitment to customs arrangements that “build on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal agreement”.
Mr Howe said: “This means the EU will not even be under a moral, still less legal, obligation to agree a trade deal which allows the UK to conduct its own future independent trade policy.