The EU's draft negotiation terms look to chain the UK to the EU's dying corpse. Our politicians have to mobilise against this, argues Rory Broomfield.
The EU's negotiation terms have been revealed. They include the UK following the EU's rulemaking machine throughout any transition period, the complete alignment of regulations in Northern Ireland and for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to be the final arbiter of any eventual trade deal.
To say that this is unacceptable is an understatement. It would be on top of a Brexit bill, the UK signing up to EU security measures and, for eight years post-2019, giving the ECJ oversight on areas to do with citizens' rights. Many of these were agreed to in the Phase One agreement between the UK and the EU last year, however, it seems that the EU wants to add many more burdens beyond these onto the UK.
If some of these EU proposals were accepted by the UK government, or even mitigated through negotiation, key positives about Brexit would be killed off.
The ability to frame our of legislation - and have our judiciary rule on it, independent of the ECJ - is a key reason why the UK population voted Leave. After all, if the EU proposals were accepted it would mean that we had not taken back control over our laws.
Added to this, the British people voted to take back control of their borders. With the EU's demands on transition and the future of Northern Ireland, it would diminish the UK's ability to reframe its immigration controls.
Looking to create division between the UK and Northern Ireland is unacceptable. By producing these demands, the EU is looking to punish the UK. Some EU member states may have forced Barnier to apologise the other week for his team mentioning such a thing in a communique, however, through looking to dictate to the UK what its laws should be post-Brexit, without giving the UK a say in the process, the EU is effectively declaring that they wish to officially become the UK's colonial masters.
This can certainly be seen with regards to the EU's thoughts towards Northern Ireland. As put forward by both Boris Johnson and his allies, the EU has exaggerated its role over the border. As argued on The Freedom Association's website last week by Dr Lee Rotherham, Northern Ireland shouldn't concern the eurocrats of Brussels. It is UK sovereign territory and, if issues need to be negotiated, it can be done bilaterally between elected politicians in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Through these proposals, it looks like that point - along with many other areas - is currently beyond the understanding of many EU member states that are using the current negotiating framework to try and bully the UK.
In response, David Davis was right to tell the Times that if the EU were to continue its stance on Northern Ireland, the UK would not pay the so-called Brexit Bill of circa £40 billion - agreed under the terms of the Phase One agreement. But that's not the end of it. The UK government should make clear to the EU that its proposals concerning both Northern Ireland and the ECJ are unacceptable.
This should be done by the Prime Minister in her speech tomorrow. Of course, she will look to make the positive argument for the UK's position going into this phase of negotiations; however, it should also be made clear to the EU that anything that compromises the integrity of Northern Ireland or the court system in the UK would mean a bad deal for the UK.
Further, it is time for politicians in Ireland to step up to the platform.
Arlene Foster of the DUP was correct in saying that the EU's plan would lead to a catastrophe for Northern Ireland, but it would be worse for the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Foreign Secretary, Simon Convoy, said in a speech at Chatham House that the Republic was both a friend of the UK and that the Irish government wanted the UK economy to remain strong. This is primarily because the Irish economy depends on the UK to thrive itself. However, what the EU has put on the table would have intense negative consequences for Ireland. This is because, far from allowing for a deep and special partnership to be signed off before March 2019, the terms would most likely lead to a no-deal. This won't spell total catastrophe for the UK - it's a large and global economy that can thrive outside the rules and regulations of the EU - but it would mean that the Irish economy would lack the flexibility to adapt and may be left behind a newly renewed and outward-looking UK.
Let me be clear: the UK's future does not completely depend on the EU and, as a result, Britain's freedom to become an enhanced beacon of free trade, independence and prosperity are of paramount importance. If the EU doesn't accept that then the UK should still be prepared to walk away. We can have a global and prosperous future ahead of us without these terms. It's time for those within the EU network - including politicians in Ireland - to recognise that and work with the UK for a better deal.
All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.