I think that it is essential that I say how I feel about Brexit right now. After all, it was the Referendum in 2016 that gave me the desire to go into politics. I began studying EU law a long time before a lot of people who have so much to say about Brexit right now even knew that the EU existed. Even as a young law student, being taught how important EU law was by academics, I felt very uneasy by what I learnt about the surrender of British sovereignty to a young and ever-expanding foreign power. Wasn’t that the very British sovereignty that had for centuries helped to make Britain great? Wasn’t that the very sovereignty that had guided this country through times of both trouble and peace? The very sovereignty that had served to protect this green & pleasant land? So why were we now prepared to give it up so freely and easily? Whichever way you looked at it, the result was that Britain was no longer fully sovereign in its own land. And as a consequence there would always be some foreign power that could make laws that would be binding on every person, family and business in this land, regardless of whether Parliament agreed to it or not. That was the essence of it. And that for me was perfectly unacceptable. The freedoms we enjoy in this country (including our sovereignty) were bequeathed to us at a very expensive price – the cost of life no more, and no economic benefits, or EU-geld, or promises of increased trade, could pay a price high enough to exchange them. They were gifted by my fathers’, fathers’, fathers. And that meant (and means) everything to me.
So I was against the concept of the EU from the start. Fast forward then to our present situation where we stand on the cusp of leaving the EU. This is the result of a referendum in 2016 where 17.4 million people voted in favour of leaving. I was one of them and to this day my opinion of the EU has not changed. I struggle to accept the legitimacy of an international organisation that seeks to its increase its power progressively by taking sovereignty from the nation state. The UN in contrast seeks to preserve national sovereignty because it understands its inherent value. The EU seeks to diminish it – in fact that is the very foundation of its power. So for this reason, I cannot accept any deal that still allows for EU control or say over any of our laws. What leaving the EU actually means is not something that can be defined by consensus or indicative votes in Parliament. In my opinion, it has an objective legal definition. We will have left the EU when there is a complete absence of control over any of our laws by any institution of the EU. Including any EU legislation that is enshrined in any withdrawal treaty. A good example of a country like this is the U.S.A. – total amount of EU control over any of their laws – the answer is none. I cannot therefore accept the Prime Minster’s Withdrawal Agreement because it establishes a “single customs territory” and binds the U.K. to several EU laws in the process. The backstop is the result of a commitment to this single customs territory. The Withdrawal Agreement does some of the job of leaving the EU but not all of it.
But what of the current context, where the deal has been rejected twice by Parliament and we are faced with the possibility of a long delay and perhaps no Brexit at all? Isn’t now the time to back the PM’s deal? Perhaps now it might be the least worst option and perhaps many MP’s will feel they now have no choice but to back the deal. It maybe the case that this is what happens. But it doesn’t change the substance of the deal or the fact that there could have been a much better Withdrawal Agreement made. I would accept a no deal Brexit at this stage given that this is what MP’s originally agreed would happen if the Prime Minister’s deal was rejected. This in my opinion remains the default position. I would still vote against the PM’s deal and if a lengthy delay to Brexit is the result, (regrettably) I would use that time to negotiate the type of Brexit I believe most people voted for in 2016.