Theresa May - Chequers Brexit Meeting on 6 Jul 2018

On Friday 6 July 2018, Theresa May and the Conservative cabinet agreed a collective position for the future of negotiations with the European Union on Brexit.  A statement was issued by HM Government following the meeting and this statement may be read:

The statement covered the:

  • The UK following a Common Rulebook for all goods, and indefinitely following EU regulations.
  • Joint jurisdiction on UK-EU agreements with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as arbiter.
  • A new "Facilitated Customs Agreement" with the UK collecting EU tariffs for goods onward bound to the EU.

The UKIP and my opinion is that Theresa May's Chequers Brexit statement is inconsistent with the Lancaster House Speech and it is not in accordance with the UK's 2016 EU Referendum Result.

 UK/EU Harmonisation of rules on goods

The Chequers statement says the UK will “maintain a Common Rulebook for all goods” including agricultural products after Brexit, with the UK committing via treaty on continued harmonisation, thus avoiding border friction.  However, the Common Rulebook is in fact the EU Rulebook and the UK would have to comply with EU regulations which would prevent the UK from negotiating unencumbered Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).  

 Parliament would have oversight of such rules, and can choose to not continue harmonisation “recognising that this would have consequences”.  The Chequers proposal says protections in areas such as the environment, employment laws and consumer protection would not fall below current levels.  It would be left to the ECJ to determine whether or not such changes fell below current levels even if the UK deemed changes resulted in equivalent protection. 

Joint UK/EU Jurisdiction of rules 

The Chequers plan proposes what is termed a “joint institutional framework” for interpreting UK-EU agreements, to be carried out in each jurisdiction by the respective courts. However, decisions by UK courts would involve “due regard paid to EU case law in areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook”.

The system would include joint committees, or binding independent arbitration in the case of disputes, which would have reference to the ECJ “as the interpreter of EU rules”.

Effectively, the UK would remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ on goods and standards regulations.

New customs deal

The Chequers statement sets out the idea of the so-called "Facilitated Customs Arrangement", May’s new attempt at a compromise system that could be acceptable to her cabinet and to Brussels.
This would see the UK and EU avoid hard borders by being treated as a “combined customs territory”. Under this, the UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, and their EU equivalents for goods heading into the EU.

How such an arrangement could be policed is another matter since the end user of imports will not always be known.  Furthermore, the manufacture of piece parts into sub-assemblies, assemblies and completed goods would require impractical logistical tracking.

In theory, the Chequers document would let a post-Brexit UK set its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world (but only for EU compliant items) without causing border disruption. The statement says the new arrangements would prevent a hard Irish border, ensuring the “backstop” elements of the initial withdrawal agreement would not be needed.  However, it seems that the EU will not allow EU tariffs to be collected by non-EU members and in any case the whole proposal is patently unworkable.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Chequers statement is significantly inconsistent with Theresa May's Lancaster House speech.  The statement does not follow the spirit of Brexit which mandated that the UK would no longer be controlled by  EU regulations or be under the jurisdiction of the ECJ. 

In can therefore be of no surprise that the majority of Conservative MPs (who support Remain, including Alan Mak, the MP for Havant), agree with Theresa May's Chequers Statement.