Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, has stressed that the Government’s current approach to Brexit; that any deal is better than a no deal, is unacceptable.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Timothy highlighted that we must remember that the EU’s negotiating position is weakened by the fact that it is “suffering from a sickness” in the form of “illiberal populists.”
Chequers has proved intolerable to everyone, May must set her sights on a Canada-plus deal with the EUhttps://t.co/q85DpyXThO
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 30, 2018
Pointing to elections in places like the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands and the upcoming elections in Sweden, he points to a surge in right-wing populists that is causing the death of “Europe dear to British Remainers.”
Unfortunately, as Mr Timothy points out, neither the elected heads of governments across Europe, nor the unelected officials in Brussels, have been able to face this fact and continue on with a breathtaking obstinacy:
“France demands fiscal integration, Germany insists on migration quotas, and Brussels continues in uncompromising approach to Brexit.”
The EU will not accept Chequers, according to Timothy, because it “drives a coach and horses through its core principles. The UK is asking for a de facto membership of the single market in goods but will not accept the free movement of people that is a central obligation to EU membership.
The result will be that Britain will be asked by the EU to make further concessions, including of free movement of people, annual payments and EU rules for services. This, says Timothy, creates an enormous problem for the Government:
“If the Government concedes these demands, Britain will, legally speaking, leave the EU next March, but we will be under its control and find ourselves in the worst of both worlds. If no deal is better than a bad deal, as the Prime Minister reiterated this week, Chequers Minus is a bad deal.”
Chequers however, has cost the Government so much political capital that it allows little room for divergence; which sends the signal to Brussels that “any deal, is better than no deal.”
But Timothy points to an alternative, that sits in Theresa May’s long forgotten Lancaster House speech:
“When Brussels rejects Chequers, the choice facing Britain is not between Chequers Minus and no deal: ministers can revert to the more conventional trade agreement envisaged in David Davis’s abandoned white paper…consistent with the original Lancaster House vision.”
This would not necessarily spell the end of a trade deal with EU, Timothy says. The withdrawal treaty could still include a transition period and a binding commitment to a trade agreement superior to the one with Canada.
But the Government must reiterate now what Britain will do in the event that Brussels still refuses a deal with the UK. Mr Timothy has advised that “a mercantilist threat to restrict trade to damage Britain would not be the act of a friend.” The Government “should say we would review our security and military commitments in Europe” and “say Britain would maintain the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe, lower even than Ireland’s.”
The Government, he went on to advise, “should promise to use our freedom from EU rules to expedite trade talks with the US, the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries and other markets, we would repeal the EU’s innovation-killing precautionary principle and other specific regulations.”
Timothy points to the fact that according to the Commission, if we escaped just seven EU regulations, British firms could save €6 billion per year.
Mr Timothy concludes by saying that we cannot pretend that the only alternative to a no deal Brexit is Chequers Minus. He urged negotiators to remember the EU’s weaker position and pressured them to “show some fight, and do a deal true to what Britain voted for two years ago.”