Barnier Backs Down on Threats to Punish Britain

Talks started last week on the Implementation Period, which we are concerned will cause a needless delay to a really strong Brexit. Despite the spirit of cooperation with which Britain has approached the Brexit negotiations, EU negotiators have continued their bullying rhetoric and threats of sanctions. In our last e-Bulletin, we reported on the draft EU negotiating guidelines which would have allowed the Commission to unilaterally cut off British access to the Single Market if EU officials deem us to have breached the rules!

The only reason we are being forced into delaying a full Brexit on 29th March 2019 is the continued lobbying by big business in Britain, and, of course, they are trying to weaken Brexit and extend our Single Market membership. If the EU has the ability to cut off our Single Market access at will, there is clearly no certainty for businesses while we are linked with the EU.

Fortunately, the EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier has been forced to back down and apologise for this suggestion. Almost half of the Member States were reportedly outraged at the inclusion of this ‘punishment clause’, and realise how unacceptable it would be for any country – including for their own stability. The Commission apologised for the “inappropriate wording”.

The fight is not over though. The EU still wants Britain to accept all new EU laws during the 21-month phase, even though we will have no political representation in the European institutions, and are still liable to pay huge sums of money into the EU’s coffers. EU chiefs also want to prevent us regaining control of our borders and our fishing quotas during the Implementation Period.

The Government has responded to a petition to Leave the EU fully in March 2019, which we know many of our supporters have signed. We are pleased the Government has re-iterated there will be “no Second Referendum” or attempt to stay in “by the back door”, but Get Britain Out is still very concerned about the terms of the Implementation Period. It is essential the British Government stands up for our needs and demands. We cannot wait until 2021 to Leave the Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy and Freedom of Movement. In addition, the UK must ensure we have a veto on new EU laws. Otherwise, the 27 remaining Member States could impose laws on Britain which we have previously vetoed, such as a Financial Transaction Tax.

None of this has stopped Barnier issuing more bullying rhetoric. He also threatened the Implementation Period “is not a given” if the UK does not accept Brussels’ demands. It is time our leaders stood up to these threatening statements and reminded the bullies in Brussels we can easily Leave on World Trade Organisation terms in March 2019 without paying any of the £40 billion Divorce Bill. This would cause a huge black hole in the EU’s finances – the EU is reportedly already advising Member States they will need to pay more in contributions to Brussels, to cover the loss of money from the UK. According to Professor Patrick Minford’s calculations, a No Deal scenario will leave the EU with a £500 billion bill.

The UK must also get on with undertaking extensive preparations for this scenario, particularly new border controls – in case we have to walk away from the negotiations in a No Deal scenario.

This week marked the beginning of a series of key speeches by senior Cabinet Ministers, outlining the “Road to Brexit”. Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, kicked off proceedings on Wednesday with a positive, forward-looking vision for after Brexit. He urged Remain and Leave voters to unite in favour of a great future for the UK as a sovereign, independent nation. In classic Boris style, the speech was littered with historical references and jokey remarks. He also alluded to British sex tourism in Thailand, compared Theresa May to Moses and engaged in an elaborate exchange with a journalist about the effect of Brexit on ‘carrot’ production.

Theresa May met with Angela Merkel this afternoon in Berlin – meeting for the first time since Merkel apparently insulted Mrs May about her negotiating style after their last meeting. The German Chancellor has been having her own problems for the last few months. She has been trying to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party, ending up with the Party being unhappy with the terms agreed so far and the leader, Martin Schulz, leaving Germany in chaos by resigning this week.

In their press conference, May and Merkel agreed on the need for an “ambitious partnership” between the UK and the EU after Brexit. In response to a question about whether she would allow “cherry-picking” by the UK, Merkel said the Brexit deal would constitute a “new arrangement” rather than an off-the-shelf option. This is a positive sign the EU will negotiate a bespoke agreement for Britain, rather than requiring us to accept the Norway or Canada models. However, Brexiteers will be suspicious about what capitulation British officials may have made in order to receive this conciliatory tone.

The issue of the Irish border also came up in the press conference. The British and Irish Governments have made it perfectly clear they do not want to see the reintroduction of a hard border. The EU’s politicisation of the issue – using it in an attempt to keep us within the Customs Union – is a further example of the malicious approach adopted by EU officials.

Tomorrow in Munich the Prime Minister will deliver a speech – probably more strait-laced than Boris’s – on the topic of our future security relationship with the EU. She is expected to re-iterate Britain’s long-standing and unending commitment to the security of Europe. Subsequent speeches will be made in the next couple of weeks, by Brexit Secretary David Davis, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox as well as staunchly Remoaning Chancellor Philip Hammond manoeuvring himself into the action.

And now, here’s what we’ve been up to recently:

On BrexitCentral, our Peter Lyon points out the growing concerns about British involvement in European defence integration. Statements from Ministers and defence chiefs suggest the UK is keen to be closely aligned with the elements of the emerging EU Defence Union, such as PESCO. This raises serious risks for our national military independence. (The UK must not unwittingly get sucked into participating in an EU army)

On CapX, Peter talks about the proposed Transition Period. It would leave us forced to accept new EU laws and continued Freedom of Movement, which is unacceptable. This represents an unnecessary delay to a full Brexit. (A status-quo transition period would be a betrayal of Brexit)

For the EU Parliament Magazine, our Director, Jayne Adye comments about the latest EU threats about the Transition Period represent an “insult to those who voted to Leave the EU”. Jayne urges the UK Government not to accept these demands. (EU to suspend the UK’s access to the single market if it fails to comply with EU law, reveals draft text)

For the Daily Express, our Jayne responds to the leaked EU document concerning sanctions on Britain during the Transition Period. Jayne points out the possibility of British firms being locked out of Single Market access renders the Transition Period pointless. (Brexit: Leaked Whitehall document shows EU still trying to rule Britain)

For Sky News, Jayne is quoted in opposition to the leaked EU threats of sanctioning Britain during the Transition Period. Jayne said if the EU do not drop these threats, the UK must walk away from negotiations. (Leaked EU document shows Brexit ‘punishment plan’)

For Comment Central, our Daniel Huggins discusses how the Government must remain committed to leaving the Customs Union; anything else would be a betrayal of Brexit. (The Customs Union: A Stark Betrayal of Brexit)

For The Conservative Online, Get Britain Out reveals just some of the ludicrous projects the EU has wasted British taxpayers’ money on. (Foolish Ways the EU Wastes British Taxpayers’ Money)

For The Commentator, our Robert Bates writes the Labour Party is full of anti-democratic Remainers and life-long Europhiles. Given the chance, they would deliver a ‘bare-minimum Brexit’. (Corbyn’s Labour Party is a Threat to Brexit)

For Reaction, Peter discusses how during the EU Referendum campaign, Remain campaigners issued predictions of doom about the economy, Scotland, the border with France and many other issues in the event of a vote to Leave. A year and a half after the EU Referendum, the evidence is clear. These predictions were utterly incorrect. (18 months on and Project Fear has been proved wrong on every front)

In our most recent article for Comment Central, Robert discusses the recent unwelcome involvement of multi-billionaire George Soros in the Brexit debate, revealing the level of antipathy many on the Remain side feel towards the majority of the Great British Public who voted Leave on June 23rd 2016. Soros is seeking to use his financial power to steamroller the democratic process and reignite Project Fear. (Soros has undermined our country enough)

For The Commentator, our Peter Lyon discusses the bullying tactics used by Michel Barnier and the European Commission in the Brexit negotiations. He makes clear Brexit voters will not accept these threatening statements. If the EU does not want a deal, we are more than willing to walk away from the talks. (Bullying Brussels won’t defeat Brexit Britain)

And lastly – just published for BrexitCentral, Jayne Adye discusses security cooperation with the EU in Post-Brexit Europe. Britain will continue to be a world leader in intelligence and security. It is right for the UK to continue cross-border cooperation after Brexit, but not membership of damaging programmes like the European Arrest Warrant. (Security Cooperation in a Post-Brexit Europe)

That’s it for this edition of our e-Bulletin and a huge thank you, as always, for your support.

Get Britain Out is still fighting for the Best Brexit for the United Kingdom, so we can take back control of our laws, borders, trade and our money. We are now into Phase 2 of the negotiations. Talks on the Implementation Period have begun and talks on trade will begin in late March. There is still a long way to go!

Best wishes and have a really great weekend,

Jayne Adye, Campaign Director and the Team at Get Britain Out

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