This letter was published in today’s Sunday Times, behind a pay wall. Since it is an open letter and a very good one, it should not be a “pay to view” letter but freely available. It is becoming clearer by the day that Rees-Mogg and Johnson, with their fascist puppet-masters in the USA (Bannon and the rest of the Nazis of the Ult Right), together with Russian subversion of UK democracy through traitors like Arron Banks, are the biggest threat to Britain’s future and by extension the whole of the European Community. This letter deserves to be read in full. So here it is, and stuff copyright.
There is much talk of a “no deal” Brexit, which you, Boris Johnson and members of the European Reform Group believe would be preferable to Theresa May’s Chequers proposal.
It has been claimed by you and others that no deal would avoid the need to pay the £50bn exit fee agreed by Mrs May. It would also avoid any continuing application of European law, the Court of Justice and other EU institutions. On trade, the UK would rely on World Trade Organisation rules and remedies, while free movement of people to and from the EU would cease immediately and completely.
I would be grateful if you could confirm that this is your understanding of no deal because the more one probes into the option the less it in fact comprises “no deal”.
On money, John Redwood has said “no deal means no payments of any money after March 2019”. Do you take this view, or do you support Boris Johnson’s most recent position that we should do a deal to pay our debts — such as Nigel Farage’s pension and those of the many British nationals who have served European institutions over 45 years — but pay “far less” than £50bn, without giving a figure?
If you think we should do a deal to pay our debts and pay for other benefits, what precise figure do you propose, and to “buy” what?
On European law and institutions, if we do not have a treaty on European aviation regulation and safety, and on customs and safety controls at EU and British ports, then planes will not fly and there will be insufficient food in the shops. There will also be shortages of medicine. Without a deal, we will also be unable to use European arrest warrants and other vital instruments of police and security co-operation. The government has accepted all this in its no deal preparations. I would be grateful for your view on whether, in the absence of a customs union and continued application of single market measures, you believe there needs to be a treaty — in other words a deal — on all these issues. If not, how will you handle the consequences in all these areas?
I note that Mr Redwood, for example, has said there should be a new “extradition agreement” — ie a deal — with the EU, while Mr Johnson has said that Britain will continue to give “leadership within Europe on ‘counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing’” — which, again, requires a deal.
Would you say whether your no deal proposal would conform to the Good Friday Agreement? You have suggested that a solution to the problem of how to avoid two different trade regimes and an external EU border in Ireland would be for the Republic also to leave the EU and co-operate with us in a new regime. Is this neo-colonialism your no-deal solution to the Irish question?
On trade, would you confirm that you believe that WTO rules and remedies are sufficient to safeguard and promote Britain’s trade? You have said that “WTO is nothing to be frightened of”, but no country in the world conducts its trade on WTO terms alone. Is it your view that we should become the first country to do so? Would you confirm that this would mean an immediate 10% export tariff for British-made cars and car parts into the EU, high tariffs on many other goods and services, and new customs checks and controls on trucks and cars travelling from Britain to ports in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and Spain?
On import tariffs, would you say whether in the case of no deal there would be new or higher import duties on any goods which currently enter the country? You have suggested that we might not levy any tariffs at all after Brexit, irrespective of any tariffs levied on our exports by the EU and more than 50 other countries with which we have trade deals through the EU. Is this your considered position, even though Mr Redwood champions the “£13bn” we would “collect in tariffs on EU imports” post-Brexit?
On free movement of people, is it your position that there would be no preferential treatment for EU migrants after Brexit, but just one legal regime applying equally to all immigrants? Are you content that this might lead the EU to restrict the right of British citizens to live and work in the EU?
In your no deal scenario, would you envisage any transition period whatever beyond March next year? If so, for how long, and how could this be agreed in the absence of a deal on such a transition period?
It is important for parliament to know your precise no deal proposal in all these respects so that it can be compared to any draft withdrawal treaty tabled by the government, and to continued membership of the EU.
It is also important because if there is to be a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit — as you proposed in the House of Commons on October 24, 2011 — then we need to be clear what a no deal option might be in this referendum. Given the acute problems encountered since 2016 in interpreting the result of a referendum on an undefined “leave” proposition, I am sure you will agree that this cannot be allowed to happen again.
I note, for example, that Mr Redwood has said that “no deal delivers most of what Brexit voters want”, although a BBC/ComRes poll conducted two weeks after the referendum found that only 35% of leave supporters thought their vote meant leaving the single market.
It appears that no deal is an even greater and more calculated deceit than the claim of leave campaigners in 2016 that Brexit would enable an extra £350m to be provided for the NHS every week and keep out 7m immigrants from Turkey. Perhaps you can allay these concerns.
I look forward to your early reply.
Lord Adonis is a former Labour minister