Why I reject the Prime Minister’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, and the idea of remaining in a Customs Union


I want your vote to count in how we govern ourselves.  I want MPs in Parliament to be free to decide our own laws and policies, reflecting the priorities of citizens and the best interests of this country.   The Prime Minister’s proposed agreement would not allow this to happen: we would be trapped in a worse position than membership with no vote, no voice and no means to escape except by permission.

I have set out my views in more detail in two Telegraph articles and a BBC podcast, which you can find here:

This article from Lawyers for Britain sets out, Why Brexiteers were right to reject Theresa May’s deal, and why it’s right to reject it again if it is brought back: please see that article for the full argument.

A customs union with the EU was rejected in the 2017 Conservative Manifesto for good reason. I sketched the argument in a thread on Twitter: in any meaningful sense, Brexit would be lost as we took up a position with the disadvantages of membership with none of the advantages of leaving.

The excuse for membership of a or the customs union is usually free circulation of goods but that cannot be achieved without membership of the EU internal market too, typically through the European Economic Area (EEA). The only countries in both the EU customs union and the EEA are EU member states: this diagram from Bloomberg explains.

In customs union with the EU, the UK would not control our trade policy or regulatory environment, which are essential parts of our economic life and our freedom.  It would not be sustainable for the world’s fifth biggest economy to have its economy controlled by others without sharing in decisions on that policy.  I can’t believe anyone in Wycombe would want their job to be reliant on the decisions of EU officials and member states without MPs being able to influence the terms of business for Wycombe companies and individuals. 

For more on customs union, you can read my colleague and former trade minister Greg Hands MP’s excellent report here: Five main reasons why an EU Customs Union would be the worst choice of all. And in the Telegraph, Greg wrote, Staying in the EU customs union would create an intolerable democratic deficit and risk UK jobs.

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