Details have emerged of what David Frost, the Government’s chief negotiator in Brussels, has been asking for in talks with the EU – rather than offering any substantive new proposals, the UK Government is instead demanding that parts of the existing Withdrawal Agreement, especially sections referring to the so-called Irish Backstop, be simply crossed out.
And the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that checks will have to happen at or near the border in the case of No Deal, and that it would mean the crisis would go on for years to come.
Commenting, Ben Bradshaw MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“Yesterday, when he was not being politely asked to ‘leave my town’, the people of Morley told Boris Johnson he was ‘playing games’ over Brexit.
“And no wonder. It has now been revealed that Boris Johnson’s ‘negotiating’ strategy is to take parts of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement and to cross them out and tell the EU27 ‘want that’ like some sort of spoilt child in a toy shop.
“No new proposals are reported to have come from Boris Johnson and his government, not even the fabled ‘alternative arrangements’ on the Irish border that he and his supporters have been telling us for the last year would solve everything.
“Reportedly the crossings out are said to concentrate on the parts of May’s agreement that cover Ireland. Johnson wants to remove what was actually a British red line – that any border arrangement would ensure frictionless trade – and reduce the agreement to maintaining a single electricity grid, a paper pledge of future good behaviour and the maintenance of the common travel area that has existed since 1921. It is as though the Single European Act and the Good Friday Agreement had never happened. It would be an economic disaster and a catastrophe for peace and progress on the island of Ireland if it went ahead.
“Last night the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar warned that a No Deal departure from the EU would not be the end of Brexit but merely the start of years, if not decades, of negotiations and counter negotiations - not just because of Ireland but because we would be leaving without any clue about our future trading and security arrangements.
“Manufacturing supply chains, medical supplies, water and air pollution, fishing stock management, lorry licensing, car safety standards, gas and electricity grids, air travel – the list of things that can only sensibly be regulated and managed on a Europe-wide basis even if Brexit does happen goes on.
“It is a myth that we can ‘take back control’ and pretend that the wind or the tides respect international frontiers – and Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson used to be frank in their recognition of that: which is why they told us in 2016 we didn’t need to worry about No Deal because we’d get a ‘great deal’.
“If No Deal did happen, we’d pay a huge price for the initial shock and then spend years struggling to put the pieces back together. It would solve nothing and Boris Johnson’s desperation to have an election before any crash out reflects the Prime Minister’s recognition of just how bad it would be.
“The only democratic way out of this crisis is to take it back to the people for a final say. An election alone cannot fix this. We cannot debate the NHS, schools and policing while Brexit hangs over us. The only credible and legitimate way to get closure and clarity on this issue is to trust the people to solve this crisis in a final say referendum. We must have a proper People’s Vote.”