Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Deal? Withdrawal Agreement? Treaty?


The same four-letter word is being constantly branded around by the media. Whether talking about Theresa May's legacy, or discussing Boris Johnson's new negotiation, it never fails to disappear. That four-letter word is "deal". Yet this "deal": offered by Brussels, sold by Theresa May, defeated by MPs; seems dangerously close to being reborn. This is dangerous because what is really on the line is not a four-letter word, but a six-letter one: "treaty". Theresa May's "deal" is really a new, totally unacceptable, European Treaty. A deal is a free trade agreement. What Theresa May negotiated, and what many in the Government are determined to preserve is an insulting, demeaning Treaty only surpassed by Versailles and the terms forced on the Germans in 1919.

In this crossroads for British history and politics, only one course of action truly respects and implements the 2016 European Union referendum: rejection of this EU treaty. Yet this option is being drowned by the array of other possibilities, which are being promoted by covert Remainers. These are: the acceptance of the current Withdrawal Agreement with the Northern Ireland 'backstop'; acceptance of the treaty without the 'backstop' or an extension of Article 50. Only a clear and matter-of-fact examination of all these options, something those in the Remain media have neglected to do, reveals that every option, besides the route of rejecting the proposed EU treaty, is a betrayal of the EU referendum result in all circumstances.

Take a minute to ignore all the endless noise of Remainers and pseudo-Brexiteers, who are now more than ever constantly whining in support of Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement. What would a Brexit Britain look like once we have stood up for ourselves and ditched this EU treaty? Well, it would be a more democratic Britain, a wealthier Britain and a more independent Britain. Democratic because finally, after three years of procrastination and delay, the will of 17.4 million people to leave the European Union would have been delivered – no ifs, no buts - just complete certainty. The disgrace of three years of a Remainer Westminster-Elite suspending democracy by thwarting democracy vote after vote, manifesto after manifesto, speech after speech would be finished. This certainty will not just do wonders for democracy, but the economy. Business can again thrive on the knowledge that Britain is definitely out and out to make a success of it. This is because the UK will finally be able to reinvigorate positive economic relationships with the Commonwealth, North America and the rest of the world. Even with the EU, once a fair free trade agreement is negotiated after we have left. We will be able to do this because the UK will regain her independence. This means the ability for our courts and our parliament to make the final decisions, not be ruled over by decadent, corrupt and Europhile EU judges and lawmakers. This means freeing UK fishing, so that fishermen are no longer stymied by desperately unfair quotas. This means an independent trade and foreign policy, accompanied by the ability to finally control immigration and our defence. Listening to the radio, or the news or the parliament channel, it is easy to be persuaded that the UK cannot succeed after we have chucked Theresa May's treaty. The UK, however, has not overcome obstacles and crises from World War Two to the 2008 Financial Crash, to fail at the last hurdle. Britain is famed for her "make it happen" spirit and Britain can make leaving, without this deceptive EU treaty, happen with success.

Having lauded the benefits of leaving the EU without Theresa May's rehashed withdrawal agreement, it is crucial to leave no impression that her "deal", with or without a 'backstop', can be tolerated. Toleration of the current Withdrawal Agreement in any form would amount to an unparalleled disrespect of the British people and their demand to leave the EU. Take the treaty with the 'backstop' – it leaves the UK amounting to an international status of a 'colony' or 'slave state'. These are not respectable labels for a nation which for hundreds of years has enjoyed statehood, a hundred of which were even spent as the world's undisputed global superpower. The UK people did not vote for that humiliation, approval of the agreement would be fundamentally undemocratic. It is not just these labels which will demean the UK, but the divorce payment worth a staggering £39 billion. Most insulting and scandalous of all will be the way we will be locked into the EU, depriving future generations of freedom. This agreement leaves us trapped with CJEU jurisdiction, loss of control of international defence policy, unfair EU fishing quotas and failing economic models of high regulation and low growth. While if we left without this treaty, we could wake up from this nightmare of endless and fruitless EU negotiations, with this deal there will be continued uncertainty, and a triple lock of the transition period, the backstop and the 'future partnership' agreement all designed by puppeteer Eurocrats to stop the UK ever leaving the EU. This mockery of a 'deal' is not a fast-pass to an exit but the chains tying us into a purgatory, unable to leave the EU - while we are sapped of money, fish, democracy and eventually resistance.

Many commentators, MPs and negotiators have miraculous powers of amnesia. They have become fixated on the 'backstop' and all its evils, while forgetting that it is only the cherry on top of all the abuses that treaty would impose. Yes, the 'backstop' would leave Northern Ireland in a possible regulatory annexation and tie the UK almost certainly into a customs union with the UK until the masters have given permission that we may scuttle away free. Yet the downsides of the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement: continued loss of fishing rights, a divorce payment, the trap of a transition period and future relationship and continued subservience to the EU, will not disappear. It would be a mistake of great proportions to embrace a 'backstop' free Withdrawal Agreement when the infinitely better course is to side-step the treaty all together and succeed with all the restored independence, democracy and wealth that that would offer us.

In the world of constant re-dreaming of ways to remain in the EU, there is an endless array of MPs from Labour to the rest of the opposition, who are arguing for an extension of Article 50, at first until 31st January 2020. Although a handful may have the intention of renegotiation of this disastrous Theresa May treaty, this option only continues the failure of the Westminster Bubble to exit the European Union. The result of 2016 referendum would continue to be ignored, while building uncertainty and disorder in UK politics and business. Above all, the people of the United Kingdom, neither in 2016 or in the 2017 General Election, voted for an extension past March 2019, let alone after January 2020. An extension of Article 50 would therefore damage trust in the political class even further than it has been eroded already, lasting not just until one General Election, or even until the one after. This continuous failure to deliver the referendum result would leave the UK electorate of today and the future with a never-ending sense of betrayal. Betrayal and deceit are the themes of these options which never give the people of Britain what they voted for: restored sovereignty, borders, independence in deciding an economic and political future. This is only achievable by leaving the EU without an extension and without Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit is about leaving the European Union, not Europe. Unlike what you will hear from the likes of Blair or figures in the media, the aim of Brexit is to detach the UK from the flawed, undemocratic and discriminatory institutions of the EU, not turn our backs from Europe. The task of leaving however has thrown up a mess of political chaos, confusion and indecision as to the best course to take to make a success out of Brexit. It may be easier for the duplicitous band of Remainers to take comfort in a fudge, by continuing to support extensions to Article 50 and voting for Theresa May's European Treaty. But these outcomes are not what the people voted for in the referendum, and they can see through this facade with ease. For those in the Westminster Bubble to get leaving right, they must first respect that leaving meant taking back sovereignty from Brussels, restoring British democracy and being able to once again enjoy freedom and independence for our economic and political gain. The only way these goals can be achieved is by rejecting Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement and leaving on the 31st October without delay, so that the U.K. can soon head into the bright and successful future which Brexit will provide. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames