Europe

Boris Johnson secures cast-iron Brexit as law-changes could make leaving EU irreversible

Brexit 'has no advantages' says Sylvie Bermann

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On Tuesday, the Queen outlined the Government’s priorities for the year ahead, as she officially reopened Parliament. In a ten-minute speech in the House of Lords, she highlighted 30 laws that ministers intend to pass in the coming year. These include a number of bills carried over from the previous session of Parliament, which ended in April.

In a recent report, head of Oxford-based think-tank Euro Intelligence Wolfgang Munchau, has drawn attention to two particular laws, which he claims, will help secure a cast-iron Brexit.

He wrote: “The first will be a new law on public procurement.

“The Queen’s Speech gave no details.

“We expect the equivalent of a Buy British policy.

“The second law will be a new state aid policy, as it is known in the EU, or a subsidy control bill as it will be called in the UK.

“Again, there were no details. Traditionally, the UK has subsidised its industry less than Germany and France.”

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Mr Munchau does not expect this to change after Brexit, but insisted the UK might still use its regulatory freedom in a way that could upset competition with the EU, for example in some high-tech sectors.

He added: “We therefore expect both of those laws to give rise to disputes with the EU.

“But the prime purpose is not to alienate the EU, but to make Brexit technically harder to reverse in the future, by creating incompatible procedures.

“Over the remainder of the parliamentary term, we would expect more Brexit-related legislation.”

While, according to Mr Munchau, Mr Johnson is planning to move even further away from Europe, others believe the Prime Minister has actually failed to “signal a decisive divergence from the EU economic model”.

Senior economist Harry Western recently wrote in a report for Briefings for Britain: “Significant new trade deals with third countries remain stuck thanks to protectionist agricultural interests, and regulatory changes have been minimal.

“Worst of all, the Government is being sucked towards dynamic alignment with EU agricultural rules thanks to the problems being caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

JUST IN: Boris Johnson failed to make ‘decisive divergence from EU’

“This threatens to derail Britain’s global ambitions entirely and leave it an economic satellite of the EU.”

If Brexiteers thought that January 1, 2021 marked the final end of attempts to impose a “Brexit in name only”, Mr Western wrote, they have unfortunately been proved wrong.

As Lord David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, has said, the purpose of Brexit is divergence.

Divergence from “a damaging and stagnant EU economic model that has impeded the growth of the UK economy in recent decades”.

This means the UK pursuing a genuinely independent trade policy and moving aggressively to alter or scrap harmful inherited EU regulations.

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However, according to Mr Western, this is not really happening.

He explained: “On trade policy, it is true that the UK has had a lot of success in rolling over deals with third countries that were initially agreed when the UK was part of the EU. 

“Indeed, the UK has done this much faster than many commentators thought possible. But in terms of new deals, the ledger remains essentially bare. 

“The Japan deal last year did include a few extra elements on top of the previous EU-negotiated deal, but nothing very dramatic.”

He concluded: “Overall, it is clear that the UK’s ‘Global Britain’ rhetoric is not being matched by real action. 

“The Government is proving unwilling to make bold strokes on trade or regulation and is drifting towards expedients in the SPS area that would undermine the whole purpose of Brexit.

“There are elements within the Government that appear to be strongly pushing this agenda. The risk of ‘Brexit in name only’ is now higher than at any time since Theresa May presented her fake Brexit deal more than two years ago.”

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