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Email. info@brugesgroup.com
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.
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John Redwood MP's Letter to Geoffrey Cox about the draft Withdrawal Agreement - published March 4 2019

Dear Geoffrey,

I am glad you are seeking to replace the unacceptable Irish backstop which is written into the Withdrawal Agreement which was vetoed in the recent Commons vote.

There are other features of the Withdrawal Agreement which I and other MPs cannot accept which also need attention in the national interest.

Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement the EU will enjoy of period of at least 21 months, and up to 45 months, when it can legislate for the UK under the wide ranging competencies it has from the Treaty. This would permit the EU to enact laws and regulations banning or requiring changes to the way we do business, control the environment, treat people, offer business support and organise trade which could be against our national interest. It could require the transfer of business into the Eurozone at our expense. We will no longer have the power to veto or to create blocking minorities to prevent measures that are damaging.

What action are you taking to prevent abuse of these wide ranging powers and to ensure we are indeed taking back control of our laws?

The EU is moving to impose and alter more taxes by qualified majority with a view to increasing the range and incidence of EU taxes. As we will have lost our veto over tax anyway, what powers are you seeking to avoid the imposition of new taxes and additional taxation on us via the Withdrawal Agreement?

It is most important no additional tax can be imposed without UK consent.

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out under a general heading where it reserves to the EU the right to send us big bills in the future. The £39 bn cost of the Withdrawal Agreement is a low estimate of what it might mean compiled by the UK Treasury. It is not an EU accepted cash limit. What safeguards are you seeking to ensure the bills do not escalate and to ensure the UK can refuse to pay unreasonable bills submitted under the general powers of the EU? Spending our own money on our own priorities was a big part of the reason to leave.

I will make these questions public as they are of considerable national interest, and look forward to your reply. I assume you are pursuing these matters as part of seeking a fair deal, and in order to reassure the many MPs who cannot currently support the Withdrawal Agreement.

Yours ever

John Redwood 

Beware: Brexit is being used to bury bad news
Less than a month before the deadline, good Brexit...
 

Comments 7

Guest - Ditherywig on Tuesday, 05 March 2019 14:18

What about fisheries ? I presume the WA recovers all our stolen fishing waters and rights?

What about fisheries ? I presume the WA recovers all our stolen fishing waters and rights?
Guest - Iconoclast on Wednesday, 06 March 2019 10:51

Good letter. Sound points. Very pleased to see them being made public.

Good letter. Sound points. Very pleased to see them being made public.
Guest - Andy Sloan on Wednesday, 06 March 2019 20:51

What about our continued ties to EU military?

What about our continued ties to EU military?
Guest - Iconoclast on Thursday, 07 March 2019 10:00

The validity and enforceability of the Withdrawal Agreement can be challenged in the European Court so neither Parliament nor any EU Institution may have the last word. There are many areas for invality and unenforceability from outright annulment to individual provisions.

The following are not exhaustive examples but convenient snippets from relevant provisions of EU law and commentary just to indicate the scope for challenge.

HOW
"....., the procedure and consequences of a withdrawal from the EU are now governed by EU law and no recourse to international law is possible." ..... ".... the withdrawal agreement is not primary EU law ...... It is an international agreement and therefore subject to judicial review by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU)."
European Parliament Briefing February 2016 EPRS | PE 577.971 EN

"The general principle is that an act which is reviewable will have legal effect until it is set aside by the ECJ or the GC, and the challenge must be brought within the time limits specfied in Article 263(6). The exception is for acts tainted by particularly serious illegality, which are deemed to be 'non-existent'. The normal time limits for challenge do not apply, since such an act can never be cloaked with legality by the passage of time"
EU Administrative Law - 2nd Edition, Paul Craig

"Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC)
The Court of Justice of the European Union shall review the legality of legislative acts, of acts of the Council, of the Commission and of the European Central Bank, other than recommendations and opinions, and of acts of the European Parliament and of the European Council intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties. It shall also review the legality of acts of bodies, offices or agencies of the Union intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties.
It shall for this purpose have jurisdiction in actions brought by a Member State, the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission on grounds of lack of competence, infringement of an essential procedural requirement, infringement of the Treaties or of any rule of law relating to their application, or misuse of powers.

The Court shall have jurisdiction under the same conditions in actions brought by the Court of Auditors, by the European Central Bank and by the Committee of the Regions for the purpose of protecting their prerogatives."

BY WHOM
"Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC)
Any natural or legal person may, under the conditions laid down in the first and second paragraphs, institute proceedings against an act addressed to that person or which is of direct and individual concern to them, and against a regulatory act which is of direct concern to them and does not entail implementing measures.

Acts setting up bodies, offices and agencies of the Union may lay down specific conditions and arrangements concerning actions brought by natural or legal persons against acts of these bodies, offices or agencies intended to produce legal effects in relation to them."

WHEN
"Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC)
...... The proceedings provided for in this Article shall be instituted within two months of the publication of the measure, or of its notification to the plaintiff, or, in the absence thereof, of the day on which it came to the knowledge of the latter, as the case may be."

WHY
The Council decision to conclude the agreement could, for instance, be challenged before the CJEU through an action for annulment (Article 263 TFEU).
Briefing February 2016 EPRS | PE 577.971 EN

"The EU courts have however made the major contribution to the development of administrative law principles. They have read principles such as proportionality, fundamental rights, legal certainty, legitimate expectations, equality, and procedural justice into the Treaty and used them as the foundation for judicial review under Article 263 or 267 TFEU." EU Administrative Law - 2nd Edition, Paul Craig

The validity and enforceability of the Withdrawal Agreement can be challenged in the European Court so neither Parliament nor any EU Institution may have the last word. There are many areas for invality and unenforceability from outright annulment to individual provisions. The following are not exhaustive examples but convenient snippets from relevant provisions of EU law and commentary just to indicate the scope for challenge. HOW "....., the procedure and consequences of a withdrawal from the EU are now governed by EU law and no recourse to international law is possible." ..... ".... the withdrawal agreement is not primary EU law ...... It is an international agreement and therefore subject to judicial review by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU)." European Parliament Briefing February 2016 EPRS | PE 577.971 EN "The general principle is that an act which is reviewable will have legal effect until it is set aside by the ECJ or the GC, and the challenge must be brought within the time limits specfied in Article 263(6). The exception is for acts tainted by particularly serious illegality, which are deemed to be 'non-existent'. The normal time limits for challenge do not apply, since such an act can never be cloaked with legality by the passage of time" EU Administrative Law - 2nd Edition, Paul Craig "Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC) The Court of Justice of the European Union shall review the legality of legislative acts, of acts of the Council, of the Commission and of the European Central Bank, other than recommendations and opinions, and of acts of the European Parliament and of the European Council intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties. It shall also review the legality of acts of bodies, offices or agencies of the Union intended to produce legal effects vis-à-vis third parties. It shall for this purpose have jurisdiction in actions brought by a Member State, the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission on grounds of lack of competence, infringement of an essential procedural requirement, infringement of the Treaties or of any rule of law relating to their application, or misuse of powers. The Court shall have jurisdiction under the same conditions in actions brought by the Court of Auditors, by the European Central Bank and by the Committee of the Regions for the purpose of protecting their prerogatives." BY WHOM "Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC) Any natural or legal person may, under the conditions laid down in the first and second paragraphs, institute proceedings against an act addressed to that person or which is of direct and individual concern to them, and against a regulatory act which is of direct concern to them and does not entail implementing measures. Acts setting up bodies, offices and agencies of the Union may lay down specific conditions and arrangements concerning actions brought by natural or legal persons against acts of these bodies, offices or agencies intended to produce legal effects in relation to them." WHEN "Article 263 TFEU" [Treaty on Functioning of the EU] (ex Article 230 TEC) ...... The proceedings provided for in this Article shall be instituted within two months of the publication of the measure, or of its notification to the plaintiff, or, in the absence thereof, of the day on which it came to the knowledge of the latter, as the case may be." WHY The Council decision to conclude the agreement could, for instance, be challenged before the CJEU through an action for annulment (Article 263 TFEU). Briefing February 2016 EPRS | PE 577.971 EN "The EU courts have however made the major contribution to the development of administrative law principles. They have read principles such as proportionality, fundamental rights, legal certainty, legitimate expectations, equality, and procedural justice into the Treaty and used them as the foundation for judicial review under Article 263 or 267 TFEU." EU Administrative Law - 2nd Edition, Paul Craig
Guest - John Wilkinson on Friday, 22 March 2019 22:00

I believe we must fight to regain our sovereignty.

I believe we must fight to regain our sovereignty.
Guest - Iconoclast on Saturday, 23 March 2019 10:13

We must not fight but work and to repair the current mess. It is reparable, with leadership, insight and a clear vision of a proven approach for the UK and the EU. Its no longer so difficult. The EU just blinked. Now it is 23rd May if Parliament approves or 12th April for alternatives if it does not.

More than anything else we need our respect and our self-respect restored after the events of recent weeks. We can get that by sound professional measured discussion and persuasion focussed on addressing and meeting respective needs and interests. We will not get that by banging on the table insults or humiliating our "friends". Brexit and sovereignty will come. The country can be persuaded to be patient.

Any rational politician in the EU can see that if the British over the past 1000+ days lived up to their traditional character, calm and resolve the current Hobson's choice of bad or worse would never have made it onto the table. The Japanese Trade Minister revealingly commented about how the British are seen as being a stabilising influence on Europe.

The EU are most worried about the harm if the UK crashes out and they want to avoid that. They can see the "deal" falling flat another time but they allowed themselves to be painted into a corner never believing what is happening now would not. Juncker's EU is built on the politic of yesterday. The EU of today has been politicised more than ever before but with outdated thinking and techniques.

The EU's biggest Brexit problem is they are hampered by old-fashioned approaches to political strategy and negotiation which have no place in a modern world. Juncker, Tusk and Verhofstadt and the UK need a proven approach which works well even in the most difficult of situations. Barnier admitted making the "deal" so hard the UK would not want to leave.. They acted in bad faith and have created immense distrust. It is a bad negotiator who drives too hard a bargain - it almost always comes back to haunt them. And now we see it has.

Tusk now keeps repeatedly referring to the UK as "our friends". So listen to the changed rhetoric, respond to it and avoid confrontational language.

Instead of making it difficult for the UK to leave [and breaking the law, as it seems is the case in the process] they should have given us a sweet deal and made it easy to rejoin, built trust with the UK public [instead of destroying it] and promised to address why it is the UK [and other states] are disaffected with the EU and promised to implement fundamental change.

There is now everything to play for. We all need a clean slate, maturity and professionalism.

It we want control back we need to control the EU - but in the best possible sense to restore economic, political and social stability to a region ironically destabilised by what should be a source of stability, the EU, and whose management has been lurching from crisis to crisis over two decades like a rudderless ship.

Its not surprising we have the Bruges Group. The EU could disintegrate if those in control do not address the structural, constitutional, political and administrative problems and make it a club states want to be part of instead of fearing not to be part of. Instead of locking member states into their club on the basis of fear of the alternatives and threats of economic harm if they leave, they should fix the problems.

And if you take a look at the Commission's 2017 White Paper on reforms - what is missing?

Its not difficult to spot once you look and think about it.

We must not fight but work and to repair the current mess. It is reparable, with leadership, insight and a clear vision of a proven approach for the UK and the EU. Its no longer so difficult. The EU just blinked. Now it is 23rd May if Parliament approves or 12th April for alternatives if it does not. More than anything else we need our respect and our self-respect restored after the events of recent weeks. We can get that by sound professional measured discussion and persuasion focussed on addressing and meeting respective needs and interests. We will not get that by banging on the table insults or humiliating our "friends". Brexit and sovereignty will come. The country can be persuaded to be patient. Any rational politician in the EU can see that if the British over the past 1000+ days lived up to their traditional character, calm and resolve the current Hobson's choice of bad or worse would never have made it onto the table. The Japanese Trade Minister revealingly commented about how the British are seen as being a stabilising influence on Europe. The EU are most worried about the harm if the UK crashes out and they want to avoid that. They can see the "deal" falling flat another time but they allowed themselves to be painted into a corner never believing what is happening now would not. Juncker's EU is built on the politic of yesterday. The EU of today has been politicised more than ever before but with outdated thinking and techniques. The EU's biggest Brexit problem is they are hampered by old-fashioned approaches to political strategy and negotiation which have no place in a modern world. Juncker, Tusk and Verhofstadt and the UK need a proven approach which works well even in the most difficult of situations. Barnier admitted making the "deal" so hard the UK would not want to leave.. They acted in bad faith and have created immense distrust. It is a bad negotiator who drives too hard a bargain - it almost always comes back to haunt them. And now we see it has. Tusk now keeps repeatedly referring to the UK as "our friends". So listen to the changed rhetoric, respond to it and avoid confrontational language. Instead of making it difficult for the UK to leave [and breaking the law, as it seems is the case in the process] they should have given us a sweet deal and made it easy to rejoin, built trust with the UK public [instead of destroying it] and promised to address why it is the UK [and other states] are disaffected with the EU and promised to implement fundamental change. There is now everything to play for. We all need a clean slate, maturity and professionalism. It we want control back we need to control the EU - but in the best possible sense to restore economic, political and social stability to a region ironically destabilised by what should be a source of stability, the EU, and whose management has been lurching from crisis to crisis over two decades like a rudderless ship. Its not surprising we have the Bruges Group. The EU could disintegrate if those in control do not address the structural, constitutional, political and administrative problems and make it a club states want to be part of instead of fearing not to be part of. Instead of locking member states into their club on the basis of fear of the alternatives and threats of economic harm if they leave, they should fix the problems. And if you take a look at the Commission's 2017 White Paper on reforms - what is missing? Its not difficult to spot once you look and think about it.
Ariane Loening on Saturday, 23 March 2019 10:54

In Iconoclast's 4th para above starting: 'The EU are most worried...' should read: '...never believing what is happening now could actually happen.'

In Iconoclast's 4th para above starting: 'The EU are most worried...' should read: '...never believing what is happening now could actually happen.'
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