Brexit: on the road to betrayal

We need to take back control from Tory Brexiteers.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater
Deputy Editor

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Topics Politics UK

Take back control. That was the one thing the establishment Leave campaign got right during the EU referendum. Forget the bullshit on the side of buses; that idea of control – that Brexit was an opportunity for self-determination, for a renewal of democracy – was what Brexit truly promised. And it was for that reason that 17.4million of us rightly voted Leave. Today, after Theresa May’s agreement with the European Commission on citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill, the very same Tory Brexiteers who once told us we could take back control are making excuses for giving it up.

The 16-page agreement between the EU and the UK, which was published this morning, reads like a prelude to surrender. The European Court of Justice will retain a role over adjudicating EU citizens’ rights for at least another eight years, and UK courts will have to show ‘due regard to relevant decisions’ of the ECJ after Brexit. As one Remainer QC put it on Twitter this morning, this would mean ‘rights promised to EU citizens by the UK can be upheld even if a future parliament removes them’. That is, it would trump the democratic decisions taken in our own parliament. The ECJ would, on this issue, remain supreme.

Then there’s the border question. May’s attempt to agree to ‘regulatory alignment’ between the north and south of Ireland – enraging the DUP, which interpreted it as the drawing of a border in the Irish Sea – was the sticking point this week. The solution? If no agreement is reached that would ensure no hard border between north and south, then the entire UK would remain in ‘full regulatory alignment’ with the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union. We’d go from being a member of the internal market to being a subject of it. We’d check out but never leave.

Tory Brexiteers have been taking to the airwaves this morning to do down the significance of all this. It’s a compromise, a sign of goodwill, the big negotiations are yet to come, they say. But while, as the EU never tires of reminding us, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, the caving in to Brussels this morning puts us on the road to betrayal. The border question has become the focus of Rearguard Remain fearmongering. The new proposal that, in the absence of an agreement, we would revert to Single Market and Customs Union control will incentivise the anti-Brexit set to ramp up the rhetoric, and inflame a fraught issue further.

We expect that from the pro-EU set, of course. The last 18 months have proved there are no depths to which anti-democrats won’t sink. What’s most striking this morning is the cowardice of those who claimed to be the leaders of the Brexit revolt. The Tory Party could never be the tribune of Brexit; it’s too radical, too earth-moving – it cuts against everything it means to be conservative. Today has just made that all the more clear. As those who claim to represent us set about trading away everything we voted for, it’s high time that we, the public, took back control.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty

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Topics Politics UK