Belfast Telegraph

Sammy Wilson: I will have no difficulty ignoring siren voices backing this rotten Brexit agreement

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

By Sammy Wilson

The government says this deal gives certainty, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If ever there was any doubt about that, all that was needed was a superficial reading of the Withdrawal Agreement, a mere glance at the damning opinion of the Attorney General to the Cabinet, and the views expressed by ministers who have sacrificed their careers by resigning from the Cabinet.

The Withdrawal Agreement screams uncertainty about the future.

Our future trading relationship with the EU hasn't even been negotiated yet, but some EU member states have already signalled their intent to use the government's fear of the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement to demand further concessions when it comes to deciding on what access we get to the EU markets in the future.

Let us look first at the uncertainty for businesses in the Withdrawal Agreement.

It is a legally binding document, so the UK cannot ignore or refuse to implement any part of it unless the EU release our country from the obligations within the Agreement.

We are in effect prisoners of the EU. The Attorney General has made that clear.

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The result of that fact is devastating for NI. These are the implications for NI businesses.

1. They will be subject to the full range of EU laws and rules as they now exist and are developed in the future.

This covers over 300 areas of economic, environmental, labour, state aid and agriculture policies. Even if those rules hurt NI businesses, they will still automatically apply.

We know because it is spelt out in the Agreement that the EU will be able to cap any support that the UK government gives to farmers in NI.

Our pursuit of selectively abolishing Air Passenger Duty and reducing VAT for the hospitality industry in order to help us compete with the Irish Republic is immediately knocked on the head because we will be subject to EU state aid rules.

2. The Agreement means, in the words of the legal opinion, that "there will be friction and distortions in trade between NI to GB and GB to NI".

In plain terms this means that additional checks, potential delays, restrictions on the goods which will be allowed into NI from GB, and additional taxes on imported goods from GB will apply.

This is in order to keep us in conformity with the EU Customs Union, which we will be a full member of as a requirement of the backstop which the Republic of Ireland demanded and the Prime Minister conceded.

The Prime Minister has argued that the big benefit of being part of the EU Customs Union is that we will have open access to the EU market, but how is this a benefit when it restricts our access to the GB market, into which we sell five times more?

3. Due to the fact that NI will be a full member of the EU customs union and subject to all the rules of the EU single market, we will be excluded from trade deals which the UK does with other countries.

We cannot benefit from the cheaper goods which will be available because of reduced trade tariffs which might be agreed and we will not be able to sell our goods to the countries involved at advantageous terms.

The fact that the countries involved are likely to be faster growing than the EU will be an economic blow to many of our industries which trade worldwide.

How does an agreement like this provide any certainty, especially when it could be topped off with an equally damaging future trading relationship - the details of which we know nothing about yet?

It is amazing that anyone would have the audacity to claim it gives businesses certainty.

On top of this is the constitutional uncertainty, as the UK becomes a "third country" as far as the detached NI is concerned.

We find our laws made outside the UK and there is a massive extension on the cross border arrangements in the Belfast Agreement in order to facilitate our new closer alignment with the Republic of Ireland.

For all these reasons I will have no difficulty in ignoring the siren voices raised in support of this rotten agreement when the vote is taken in Parliament.

In doing so, I will be doing the Unionist cause and the business community in NI a massive favour.

Sammy Wilson MP is the DUP spokesman on Brexit

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