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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Brexit still lurking in the background

For very good reasons, the ongoing Brexit crisis has fallen out of the news recently, but that does not mean that it has gone away as this article in the Independent illustrates.

They report that future British governments could be unable to repeal new laws on workers’ rights, the environment, and health and safety, under the terms of the EU’s proposed Brexit trade deal:

A leaked draft of the agreement drawn up by the European Commission and seen by The Independent insists that “future levels of protection” brought in by both sides must be maintained as a condition of UK access to European markets.

The plan goes further than a simple “non-regression” pledge to maintain existing rules at the point of Brexit, and means any future UK government that brings in new social rights could see its changes become untouchable, as long as they are endorsed and matched by Brussels.

The rule is the latest bid by the EU to ensure Britain does not unfairly deregulate itself into “Singapore-on-Thames” after Brexit, to unfairly undercut European businesses with lower standards.

The draft document also includes a demand that the UK notify Brussels in advance of any plans for “major” new regulations, before they are proposed to the UK parliament.

And it also shows that the bloc is standing by a requirement that the UK commit in writing to staying the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights – which Boris Johnson has so far refused to sign. The document says both parties must have a “continued commitment to respect the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Of course this is a negotiating position and is unlikely to be acceptable to Boris Johnson. However, for those of us that recognise that failing to secure an agreement with the EU could see real wage levels drop by 6.4% and a possible recession, all of this seems perfectly reasonable.

The only problem of course is that we have been put in the position of accepting rules rather than making them by those advocating Brexit in the first place.
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