Theresa May had always repeated what I have known to be true in business: “no deal is better than a bad deal”. But now, even in the face of multiple Cabinet resignations and growing anger among her Parliamentary colleagues at her proposed deal, her actions suggest she believes that any deal is better than a no deal. The regrettable reality is that her deal is not only a bad deal: it is the worst deal in history.
For nothing in return, by way of a guaranteed free trade deal, the Prime Minister is willing to hand over at least £40 billion, potentially £60 billion. We will have no say in the EU, but payments will continue until the EU decides we can leave the arrangement.
May’s deal misses the point of Brexit entirely, and will result in losing control of our money and continuing to make massive payments to the EU indefinitely – since they have no incentive to stop, having captured us in their “naughty” chamber.
A UK-wide EU Customs Union would kill off the idea of Global Britain. We would not be able to strike our own trade deals with old and new friends around the world. That would means the same protectionist high costs for consumers and, in reality, no access to new EU trade deals with third countries. We would also have no influence at the WTO, no protection against trade dumping and have our own tariffs decided by the EU.
The EU is terrified of a competitive UK. It’s terrified of our innovation, flexibility and attractiveness to the world. That’s why under May’s deal, EU competition, environment, employment and state aid rules would apply.
Taxation without representation is not Brexit. Continued European Court of Justice oversight is not Brexit. This deal will only succeed in disenfranchising the UK electorate, possibly forever, and result in Dublin having more of a say than London over large parts of the UK economy.
Don’t be fooled by those who say this is only a transitional arrangement. Once we hand over £40 billion for a transition process that may never end, there is no longer any incentive for the EU to come back to the table to talk trade. And what kind of maso-sadist Prime Minister would want to re-open negotiations with the EU in the future?
There are just seven pages of non-binding waffle on the “future framework” of a possible trade deal, which the EU has no incentive to finalise; yet there are almost 600 pages of room for EU traps and mischief on everything else in the Withdrawal Agreement. The backstop, is a backdoor to the EU, with EU regulatory control and no time limit.
Worse still, we could only break this terrible deal with EU approval, which they have zero reason to give. As Michel Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand, has said to EU Ambassadors, the backstop will be used to lock the UK inside the EU indefinitely as a feeble vassal state.
Brexit is the opportunity of a lifetime. But May is determined to rob us of those opportunities by handcuffing parts of our country to the EU Internal Market and chaining us to the EU Customs Union.
With her ministers abandoning ship in large numbers, her position is on the edge. However, she could avoid the current national humiliation and a vote of no confidence if she immediately shook up her negotiating team, removing Olly Robbins first, and bring in competent Brexit-supporters and businesspeople as I recommended on this site last December. She should then go back to Brussels, and make clear that she’s aiming for a sensible and achievable Canada+ deal, which we know they are happy to do.
Pushing on with May’s current deal would betray not only of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU, but also destroy the idea of Britain as a strong, independent-minded and innovative nation with so much to offer the world. Should it get that far, Parliament has an obvious decision to make: no deal is better than a bad deal, and this is the worst ever deal in history.