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May's latest Brexit deal "meaningless"

Brexit grafitti in Shoreditch, London
Brexit grafitti in Shoreditch, London RFI/Jan van der Made

The British attorney general Geoffrey Cox says the risk of the UK being tied to European Union rules after Brexit "remains unchanged". But Cox also says the new agreements reinforce the legal rights available to the UK. Not everyone is impressed.

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“It doesn’t change the substantive problem with the Withdrawal Agreement,” says Robert Oulds, director of the Thatcherite think-tank Bruges Group.

“It doesn’t mean that we are not going to be paying the European Union 39 billion pounds, perhaps even more.

“It doesn’t actually stop the problem of the European Court of Justice continuing to have a say in affairs within the UK, even when we are technically outside the EU,” he says.

Referring to May’s new agreements, Oulds says they are mere “meaningless pieces of paper. It doesn’t actually change a very, very bad deal, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by the British House of Commons.”

Expecting the vote on Tuesday 12 March to reject May’s adjusted Withdrawal Deal, he doesn’t see postponing the Brexit deadline beyond 29 March as a viable option. Robert Oulds is not scared of the chaos that some observers predict will erupt at airports and harbours serving Europe.

“Actually we know exactly what will happen when we leave the EU which is still set for 29 March, because in case the Withdrawal Agreement isn’t passed, the EU is offering other deals.

“It is offering unlimited access in terms of haulage, it is saying the flights will continue, it has signed up to the Transport Convention. The ports of Calais and Boulogne are ready for the withdrawal agreement to be voted out."

Meanwhile, European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a joint press conference with Theresa May on Monday that if the latest adjustments are not accepted by the UK House of Commons, there may be “no Brexit at all”.

According to Robert Oulds, “the fact remains that we have legislation in the UK in force to leave the EU on 29 March. Brexit is happening. And even the EU wants it to happen, because they know that if we are in the EU beyond the 23 May, we have to partake in the European elections. They do not want Britain in the EU returning Eurosceptics to the European Parliament.”

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