So this is a story I’ve been sitting on for a few days, but I’ve just not gotten around to talking about it. It’s another serious blow to Brexit.
The Express reported several days ago that UK officials are planning on giving EU judges the final say on crucial Brexit decisions – and this isn’t overhyped fearmongering. It’s literally the case.
The British government has agreed to give the European Court of Justice the final say to break deadlock in troublesome negotiations regarding the withdrawal agreements. This means that judges from the ECJ will have the final say on the Irish backstop, assuming that the final deal on trade between the UK and Brussels results in checks on the Irish border.
If you’re still unclear on the “backstop”, think of it as a safety net. Given I’m totally useless when it comes to sports (the lads at school were so angry if me and my best mate Connor were ever put on their football team), I had no idea it was a reference to baseball. Apparently the “backstop” is a fence behind the catcher, which stops the ball leaving the field.
So the backstop is a fall-back option if negotiations don’t go well – and on June 7th, the government published a policy paper entitled “Technical note on temporary customs agreement.” In it, they explain:
“The UK’s proposal is that in the circumstances in which the backstop is agreed to apply, a temporary customs arrangement should exist between the UK and the EU.”
The temporary customs arrangement would be put in place to avoid a backstop that would apply only to Northern Ireland – effectively splitting Ireland in two. We can’t have that! (No, seriously, we can’t – Ireland’s pretty bloody volatile!). So the backstop would, instead, apply to the whole of the UK – meaning a temporary customs arrangement would be put in place on the whole country if they can’t negotiate a proper deal.
So the news that the government is giving the ECJ the final say on the backstop is serious – and further down the line, the ECJ will be able to make rulings about the final withdrawal agreement. Given the final agreement will become EU law, the ECJ will be able to make rulings about the interpretation of the agreement. So the UK might resist, and we may well technically leave the EU, but they’ll still be there. Over our shoulder. Watching.
Anne Marie Waters is right when she says that we’ll never be free of the European Union until it dies. As long as the EU exists, they’ll exert some kind of control over us. They’ll come back and reinterpret our final deal, put pressure on us to avoid being too competitive, and ultimately do everything they can to make life difficult for us.