Statement from The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP on the Proposed Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement which the Cabinet has approved does not deliver the outcome of the EU Referendum and goes against the 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto and promises made by the Prime Minister in her Lancaster House and Florence speeches. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU and take back control in the biggest show of democracy seen in this country. Negotiators from the UK and the EU have now run roughshod over their views and the Referendum result.
Back in December last year when the backstop was first agreed the Government set a strategy which led to the Chequers proposals and then to the Withdrawal Agreement being negotiated. Despite being forewarned of the grave misgivings held across the country the Government continued to pursue this strategy. The collective actions of the Government has left the country with the bitter taste of betrayal.
Having read the Withdrawal Agreement in detail and having taken legal advice it is clear to me that our country is now in a position where instead of leaving the EU and taking back control, we face being indefinitely chained to Brussels.[i] It is quite clear that the Withdrawal Agreement keeps the UK bound to EU rules and laws indefinitely as well as being locked in the Customs Union. Our Parliament will not be in control of our laws[ii] and we will be explicitly excluded from any opportunities to influence laws the EU imposes on our country. We will be a rule-taker with no seat at the table when those rules are made.[iii]
The Agreement forces the UK to seek the permission and consent of the EU to negotiate and agree new trade agreements and treaties with other countries.[iv] It also demands that the UK does not act in any way that the EU feels is prejudicial to them – effectively giving the EU a veto over our foreign policy.[v] Instead of being free to take our place at the table of the WTO and make our own way in the world, the EU remains able to make demands of us and impose its will on our country.
The Agreement leaves us with no control over our borders with the EU’s free movement rules still applying.[vi] Likewise, the Agreement keeps the door open for the EU to take more hardworking taxpayers’ money,[vii] while there is no guarantee that we will get any comprehensive free trade deal in exchange for the £39 billion divorce settlement.
Of grave concern is the way the Agreement leaves our union in a fragile state, with Northern Ireland treated differently. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland leaves the UK unable to unilaterally leave the Protocol and its arrangements without the permission of the EU. It puts our precious Union at risk, something which a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party should never contemplate.
On top of this, the Withdrawal Agreement provides the Court of Justice of the EU with the powers to continue to determine our laws even beyond the transition period. The Court will also serve as the enforcer of the Withdrawal Agreement – meaning that the EU can continue to impose its will on us and the jurisdiction of the Court continues to apply in this country.[viii]
Under the Agreement, Britain surrenders its freedom, sovereignty and place in world and will be firmly under the control of the EU. This is not what the country voted for and it is not in our nation’s best interests.
The British people voted in 2016 for the UK to take back control of our borders, money and laws. They chose a bright future as a free, independent and sovereign country. But this Agreement lets the EU carrying on controlling our borders, money and laws for many years to come. Our destiny will not be in our hands and the EU will be the authors of our future. No self-respecting nation would accept the terms of this Withdrawal Agreement. I cannot support the Withdrawal Agreement and will be voting against it.
The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham
[iv] Under Article 129 of the WA the UK will remain bound “by the obligations stemming from the international agreements concluded by the Union.” The Article stipulates that the UK will be excluded from participating in the work to set up international agreements unless the UK participates in its own right or is “exceptionally invited” by the Union. It also states that while the UK “may negotiate, sign and ratify international agreements entered into in its own capacity in the areas of exclusive competence of the Union, provided those agreements do not enter into force or apply during the transition period, unless so authorised by the Union.” Moreover, under Article 4 of Annex 2, the UK is required to abide by the EU’s Common Commercial Policy, which puts an end to opportunities to establish free trade deals.
[v] Under the provisions of Article 129(3) of the WA, “the United Kingdom shall refrain, during the transition period, from any action or initiative which is likely to be prejudicial to the Union’s interests, in particular in the framework of any international organisation, agency, conference or forum of which the United Kingdom is a party in its own right.” This measure fetters the UK’s ability to have its own independent foreign policy, with the EU able to challenge and block UK action.