Brexit Boxing Day Leftovers – “1250-layered turkey sandwich, anyone?”
The BBC tucks in whilst everyone else goes hungry
© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2020
Reflections on a post-Christmas Brexit, from the Facts4EU.Org team
Had enough yet? Feeling stuffed already? We know how you feel. Yet there is one appetite which has not yet been satisfied.
We - and perhaps some MPs - have left room for what might prove to be quite a plateful. We are talking about the 1250-odd pages of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
How is it possible that the BBC is already tucking in?
Unless you are the ‘Brussels Broadcasting Corporation’, no-one outside the inner circles of government has been served up the main dish of this 2020 state-controlled Brexit Christmas – the text of the ‘trade deal’. Neither you, nor we, nor most MPs. Whilst this course may prove to be somewhat indigestible, unfortunately we need to start getting into the meat of it at the earliest opportunity.
The UK Government’s website isn’t offering this. The EU Commission’s website isn’t offering this. Yet the BBC has full copies of the new agreement which it has been busy digesting.
STOP PRESS: UPDATE 26 Dec, 07.45am: We now have the full 1246-page text of the agreement, finally. This has been leaked, but not yet officially published.
Please contact us if you would like a copy.
We would completely understand if the document were not yet publicly available. It is common for such texts to go through intense scrutiny by the lawyers for both sides, tidying it up in a process known as ‘scrubbing’. What is inexplicable and completely unacceptable is for a Remainer-dominated news organisation to have been passed a copy of the agreement and get a 24-hour head start on how they will spin it.
Are MPs happy with one day’s debate, when the EU Parliament will get two months?
There is a process laid down in statute for the consideration of all treaties which the UK intends to enter into. The relevant law is the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRaG) 2010. Under this Act:
“all treaties … that are subject to ratification, acceptance, approval, the mutual notification of completion of procedures, or to which the UK intends to accede, cannot be ratified unless they have been laid by a minister of the Crown before Parliament for 21 sitting days without either House having resolved that it should not be ratified.”
This Act goes into chapter and verse about the signing of an international treaty such as the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: who does what and why, in what order, timescales, responsibilities, etc. It is there for a reason. It ensures that proper consideration takes place of any international commitments being taken on by the United Kingdom - before they are set in stone.
With MPs to be given only one day’s debate on this major new international treaty on Wednesday next week is, in our view, a disgrace. So how is this possible?
Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Out of Jail’ card
The government can avoid this 21-day scrutiny requirement either by:
- Passing an Act of Parliament stating that CRaG is not to apply to this treaty (as it did for the Withdrawal Agreement), or
- Under CRaG, a minister can declare that “exceptionally” the treaty should be ratified without the 21 sitting days requirement being met, or
- Inserting a “notwithstanding any provision of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010” clause into the Bill to approve and implement the treaty
Readers may wish to reflect on the fact that the disastrous Withdrawal Agreement was passed by bypassing the requirements of the CRaG legislation. This resulted in the effective partition of the United Kingdom by the EU, leaving Northern Ireland under EU law and imposing onerous restrictions on the rest of the UK. It has been confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement will remain in place after 01 January 2021.
UK to ratify the deal next week, EU will not do that for two months
The EU will only apply the new trade deal provisionally on 01 January. The MEPs of the EU Parliament have been given from now until 28 February 2021 to ratify the deal – a period of more than two months.
Conversely the deal will be ratified by the UK Parliament next week, given that Sir Keir Starmer has already confirmed that Labour MPs will vote in favour, before any of them have had the chance to read it.
Photo left: Sir Keir Starmer kneeling to Black Lives Matter
This will give the Government the majority it needs, almost regardless of how many Conservative ERG members vote against.
At Brexit Facts4EU.Org we are not big on bureaucratic procedures. This is one of the many reasons why we are unimpressed with the EU machine. That said, there are some procedures which are there for a good purpose.
In this case we believe it is essential for MPs to have sufficient time to scrutinise and debate this new ‘trade deal’. At some 1,250 pages, this needs time. For this to be rushed through after more than four-and-a-half years since we voted to leave the European Union is a travesty.
Surely there must be the wit and wherewithal in Whitehall to do what the EU is doing: apply the deal provisionally and then take many weeks to allow for proper scrutiny, before ratifying it?
And as for the BBC…
Will there be a Whitehall enquiry into how the Remainer-dominated BBC has copies of the full text of this agreement, in advance of it being released? We certainly think there should be.
Do you have any Boxing Day leftovers?
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[ Sources: UK Parliament | EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Boxing Day, 26 Dec 2020
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