Boris Johnson, the brexiteer, has managed to finalize a withdrawal agreement with the European Union after intense negotiations led to what looks like a true compromise on both sides.
Reading the agreement, even for law professionals, is almost impossible without a law library at hand. At a high level view however there would be a joint committee that supervises the enforcement and implementation of the agreement.
That’s needed because UK will collect customs for Europe if goods end up or are likely to end up in Europe. That’s finished goods as well as material for finished goods.
Northern Ireland would be under UK law on what good is legal or illegal, but there are pages and pages of European law that would continue to apply.
Overall the impression or the intention seems to be that of Northern Ireland under UK jurisdiction, but with special arrangements to ensure EU law applies if goods end up in Ireland or the continent.
The DUP has not agreed to this arrangement, but Northern Ireland will have a vote on it four years after the withdrawal agreement comes into force.
It’s not clear what exactly would happen if they vote against it, but presumably the aim is in four years such vote would be irrelevant due to a free trade agreement between UK and EU that might make all this no longer applicable.
The Most Difficult Choice
That there is a deal agreed by a brexiteer and the European Union, is quite something. Plainly this can be seen as a virtual border, but that would be too simplistic. It can be seen as joint supervision between EU and UK over NI, but that’s not true in regards to which one has legal power over or in NI as that’s UK.
Really, this is more both parties doing their best in good faith to reach an objective solution that respects UK’s territorial integrity and EU’s single market while avoiding a land border.
That this deal could be reached together with the veto by NI in four years suggests Boris maybe was always right. EU maybe does really want UK out.
EU could have held off, could have waited for the Prime Minister to ask an extension first, or for parliament to vote for a referendum, but they’ve instead given Boris pretty much what he asked.
That raises the question of what exactly has gone on behind closed doors, and since we do not know, this proposal on the table is something that should be considered very, very carefully.
It’s quite easy here to engage rhetorics and that’s something both leavers and remainers are doing already in a weird “alliance.” Yet it gives brexiteers exactly what they want and it makes remainers’ job a lot harder.
The Real Brexit?
The political declaration is a lot easier to read. It also places brexit in a very different context because just what brexit is remains to be determined even if this withdrawal agreement manages to go through. Among many things, it says:
“The Parties agree that close and structured cooperation on regulatory and supervisory matters is in their mutual interest. This cooperation should be grounded in the economic partnership and based on the principles of regulatory autonomy, transparency and stability.
It should include transparency and appropriate consultation in the process of adoption, suspension and withdrawal of equivalence decisions, information exchange and consultation on regulatory initiatives and other issues of mutual interest, at both political and technical levels.”
The tone is generally one of a special deal. Of a close union between the two unions, while both maintain autonomy and sovereignty.
There would be some very limited free movement of citizens, or as they say: “The arrangements should allow for the temporary entry and stay of natural persons for business purposes in defined areas.”
There would be consideration of UK joining some EU agencies, like medicine or aviation and, although the declaration doesn’t mention it, you’d think the erasmus program and others.
There’s a commitment to no tariffs or barriers to trade, to recognizing certificates, standards, professional bodies and so on.
Overall this suggests almost complete economic integration, with the vibe from it indicating passporting would be secured.
This declaration is just very general words for now, but it’s a… well it could be a “good” brexit for UK and EU.
Things have complicated by about 1,000 fold with this agreement. First, the EU summit has not quite ratified it yet. They probably want parliament to decide first. That’s on Saturday.
The historic sitting will probably first have a vote on the agreement. That’s likely to be a close vote. It will depend on labour MPs. There are claims Corbyn might whip, but this is too big of a matter for whipping. MPs will have to vote with their best hard judgment of what’s in front and also of what might follow.
The whipped tory rebels will have a difficult decision too. Many of them are not quite remainers. While the nationalists, or ERG as they call themselves, will have to consider if not this deal, then what deal?
If they think no deal at all, then not only will other parties not allow them, but independents won’t allow them and the latter usually get what they want.
No deal is simply not an option because everyone knows where that would lead. So this could well pass.
If it doesn’t on a plain vote, then there would be a referendum attached to it. The problem there is UK automatically leaves on the 31st of October and since parliament would have voted for this deal, albeit conditional on a referendum, then UK would be out by the time of the referendum vote.
MPs could obviously force the government to ask for an extension anyway, but Boris the aristocrat would then play the game to the point France itself might say no to an extension.
Even if there is an extension, this deal or remain is a difficult choice, precisely because EU did agree to this deal with the brexiteer. They didn’t have to, but again we do not know what’s gone on behind closed doors.
That means these pages or the public are not really quite well placed to form a view if one considers the wider picture as if they follow through with the political declaration in a way we think they would, then the outcome probably wouldn’t matter much.
That being EU merging after France and Germany effectively did so. UK’s army has kind of already merged with the French one. That would continue even if no deal, which isn’t gone happen.
There would then be completely free trade on goods and services, with close cooperation even at an institutional level on science, art, tech and so on.
So if there was an EU Securities and Exchanges Commission, then UK would or could be sort of part of it. Not formally, but kind of.
That’s obviously speculating on what might happen next year, but remain is speculating too. If UK remains, can EU merge? Would a two speeds Europe be very good either for Europe or UK? Do we really want Farage still in the European parliament?
Thankfully it’s not for us to make this decision, it’s for parliament. We can see how a deal can be a good outcome as it seems to ensure a very close alliance, and how remain can be a good outcome.
Where legitimacy is concern Northern Ireland will have the right to vote on it once they know what the actual deal is, once the trade agreement is finalized which from the political declaration sounds like a special deal with these arrangements over NI at that point potentially not relevant at all.
On the Brexit end, if this is not brexit then there is no such thing as brexit.
While on the remain end their task now is a lot more difficult because it’s easy to see how this can be basically remain, but without having to create a two speeds Europe.
And that parliament should decide all this is obviously legitimate appriori even if their decision is that the people should vote on it.
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