Will he call it the “Christmas Eve Agreement” after the day it was reached, or the “New Year’s Eve Agreement” after the day it will be ratified?
Either way, Boris Johnson will try to give his dire Brexit deal a legitimacy it does not deserve by creating an association in our minds with the Good Friday Agreement, which brought huge benefits to the people of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
His Brexit deal does no such thing.
Here’s the reason:
There’s no deal better than the one we already had.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) December 24, 2020
It’s a simple truth, but one that will bear repetition – many times, because Johnson will be pushing his lie for all he’s worth.
While there was certainly much to criticise about the European Union’s demands on the UK when we were a member state, our ability to trade frictionlessly with every other state on the bloc was not part of that and the deal must be, by definition, a huge step backwards.
Just getting to it cost us – that’s you and me, the UK taxpayers, not the Brexiteer businesspeople who sequester their cash in tax havens to avoid being affected, remember – a huge amount of money that the nation could ill afford to lose.
Sadly, not all of us will realise this because they’ll be tranquillised by the Tory-lickspittle press. But some of us do know what it means:
Apparently the deal is done! It’s cost the country £200bn, robbed British citizens of free movement & made us all poorer. That’s quite a deal
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) December 24, 2020
Congratulations to Brexiters for your astonishing achievement. After just four years and billions of pounds spent (so far) you have negotiated a deal a whole lot shittier than the one we already had.
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) December 24, 2020
While Downing St announces their deal as a victory let’s be clear about what’s happened. A trade deal has been negotiated to make trade less smooth and less simple. The economy will take a hit. In return we no longer have free movement to 27 other countries. BUT blue passports.
— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) December 24, 2020
On EU agreement, Boris Johnson says "we have completed the biggest trade deal yet" … Nope. The UK as abandoned the biggest tariff-free deal it ever had. From 1st January there be will more costly paper work and administration.
— Prem Sikka (@premnsikka) December 24, 2020
Johnson must know that he can’t fool all the people, all the time – and with trade, which is happening all the time, he must know that people are going to feel the adverse effects of his deal very quickly.
So the smart money reckons he will quit very soon, having achieved what he set out to do:
It adds to the suspicions that Johnson will cut & run as Prime Minister before the damage of his own incompetence over Covid and self serving opportunism over Brexit catch up on him. He will go down as a light weight, self interested political game player than a nation’s leader.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) December 24, 2020
Johnson should resign now.
When the world went into lockdown at the start of the year, the Etonian phallus was too busy faffing around with Brexit and Big Ben being able to bong.
He had one job, he’s done it incredibly badly, now he should foxtrot Oscar, rapidly.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) December 24, 2020
Other responses have been more satirical. Let’s have a read and a giggle before we get on to the hard facts:
Give the man a break. Can you imagine how hard it is to giftwrap a warm, fresh turd? https://t.co/xXCY1CqA4n
— Russ (@RussInCheshire) December 25, 2020
such an exciting day for Brexiters everywhere to finally find out what the fuck they voted for
— dave ❄️ 🥕 🧻 (@davemacladd) December 24, 2020
OMG Brexit has been done can’t wait for £350M pumped into NHS EVERY WEEK
— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) December 24, 2020
Johnson has described the deal as his Christmas present to the UK. Oh dear…
Johnson must have read my tweet Haha. pic.twitter.com/zxIMJHe1Ed
— Charles R Gibson #SavetheNHS .#WaitingforLabour (@Thegiest) December 26, 2020
… and now there’s a big war of words about what it all means:
Barnier said it was lose-lose.
More lies from the Tories. https://t.co/dV3NG7c4zD
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) December 26, 2020
Anyway, the EU didn’t ‘win’ the negotiations. The U.K. didn’t ‘win’ the negotiations. We all lost. Brexit was always a ‘lose-lose’ game.
— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) December 26, 2020
But one thing is for sure:
The only consolation for the citizens of 3rd world, nonentity Torydom is that the EU will be overseeing/ensuring that Spaffer & his co-criminals adhere to the agreement as they know for sure that a cabal of liars cannot keep their word on anything.
— Carole Hawkins (@hawkins_carole) December 24, 2020
So, what’s actually in the deal?
Perhaps before we go into the details, we should consider the attitudes adopted by the different sides:
Ursula von Der Leyen quoted Shakespeare, spoke in 3 languages and acted with dignity and humility.
Boris Johnson said "that's it from Brussels, now for the sprouts".
An apt contrast as to what Britain now is.
A bad joke.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) December 24, 2020
If you enjoyed that bit of Johnsonism, you’d better hope it sustains you when the hardships start to bite.
Here’s a document that summarises the changes in the new, 1,200-page (plus 800 pages of appendices) agreement:
This EU document summarizing what we have lost in Boris Johnson’s trade deal is breathtaking. Factor in getting to this point will have cost the country upwards of £200bn & every one of us will be made poorer, all involved, including the PM, would be sacked anywhere else pic.twitter.com/LXQkBmDMH2
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) December 24, 2020
I’ll write them out below and we’ll see what people have had to say about them so far:
Free movement of people
Border checks will be re-imposed between the UK and the EU nations.
Restrictions will be re-imposed on pets travelling between the UK and EU.
Roaming charges will be re-imposed.
Visa-free travel between the UK and EU beyond 90 days’ duration will end.
But visa-free travel up to 90 days may continue. It is the only aspect of this subject heading that remains unchanged.
Work, residence and study in another EU country are now subject to restrictions particular to the new agreement – and they are already controversial, as we shall see shortly.
Trade in goods
Under the new agreement, frictionless trade between the UK and the EU is ended.
Oh, there will be no tariffs or quotas – but the whole purposes of the 2,000-page document is to create barriers that did not exist before January 1, 2021.
The UK will no longer benefit from any of the EU’s international agreements.
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures – to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants – will be re-imposed. It will be interesting to see what they reveal (although let us hope that the find nothing untoward from the UK).
All other matters under this heading will be subject to new bureaucratic procedures – red tape – under the new agreement. Remember years ago, when David Cameron announced a “bonfire of red tape”? It created a huge number of problems as it turned out that those measures were actually necessary – and now Cameron (who demanded the EU referendum) is responsible for much, much more of it:
New customs formalities.
New rules of origin procedures that will check where parts come from.
A new fisheries agreement.
Trade in services
The former financial services passport is abolished.
And there will be no easy recognition of professional qualifications.
That creates more red tape!
UK air traffic will no longer be free to travel anywhere within the single aviation area.
And the so-called “fifth freedom” for extra-EU air cargo will be withdrawn from the UK, replaced with new rules in the Brexit deal.
More red tape!
The UK is out of the single internal transport market for hauliers. Truckers will need import and export declarations, security declarations and other paperwork for their shipments. New infrastructure is being built at ports to deal with queues and to check loads.
Cross-trade operations will be subject to even more red tape!
The UK will no longer be part of the single internal energy market.
And energy trading platforms will be subject to yet more red tape!
Access to EU programmes
The UK is out of Erasmus (what’s Erasmus? You’re about to find out!) along with NextGenerationEU and SURE. It will be shut out of the Galileo encrypted military signal.
Did you know the UK was part of any of that?
And access to Horizon Europe (it’s the the European Union’s future framework programme on research and innovation (R&I) for 2021-2027) will be subjected to even more red tape!
There’s another part of this which puts a sinister aspect on the deal, reminiscent of the TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that was stopped because of a “dispute settlement” process that would have given businesses more power than governments.
The UK-EU trade deal includes a dispute settlement mechanism, and both sides will have the right to slap tariffs on the other unilaterally to protect against unfair competition. EU businesses will be able to restrict those in the UK.
That’s a lot of red tape!
It seems the Brexit deal also establishes an organisation for policing the agreements. The joint partnership council has 19 sub-committees and seven working groups. That’s in addition to a Parliamentary partnership assembly, a civil society forum and domestic advisory groups.
I tend to agree with Briefcase Michael’s sarcastic comment: “So it’s goodbye to all that EU bureaucracy!”
And I especially agree with Carole Hawkins who described these red-tape groups as: “Hot air talking shops which will achieve diddly squat as always.”
It might be informative to examine the deal in comparison with what was promised by the organisation Vote Leave, which was the primary motivating force that encouraged more than 17 million UK citizens to support Brexit.
Bear in mind that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings were the figurehead and mastermind behind Vote Leave, and they ended up running the UK together after the December 2019 general election.
So did they make sure they achieved everything they promised?
That failed comedy double-act? Not a chance!
The website Politico ran an article comparing the bold promises with the bare realities. It listed them as follows:
1. Trade with the EU will be tariff-free and involve minimal bureaucracy
The deal is tariff free for now. But it comes with numerous strings attached and significant bureaucracy. Vote Leave also promised that businesses that do not trade with the single market will not need to follow single market rules… At the very least, Northern Ireland will have to follow single market rules to ensure its land border with Ireland will remain open.
2. Northern Ireland border ‘absolutely unchanged’
The border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is changing. There will be customs procedures for goods crossing the Irish Sea because Northern Ireland will have access to the EU customs union while remaining in the U.K. customs union. That will involve paperwork checks and border control posts (though not physically at the border) to undertake physical checks on some plant and animal products.
3. End supremacy of EU law and the EU’s Court of Justice
Northern Ireland will remain subject to EU customs union and single market rules, which will be overseen by the Court of Justice. So it would be wrong to suggest the entire U.K. will not be subject to judgments from the court.
4. Take back control on immigration and asylum, and cut migration to the tens of thousands
it is still unlikely that the U.K. will cut immigration to the tens of thousands, as Michael Gove promised Brexit would allow it to do.
5. Britain will take back control of its fisheries
Johnson said he wanted talks on EU fishing access to U.K. waters to take place annually… There is a process to get there. It involves a five-and-a-half-year transition, during which the EU will have full access, but the quantity of fish the U.K. can take out of shared waters will increase. Negotiations would be annual after that, and the EU will be able to retaliate with tariffs if the U.K. refuses to grant it access. So it depends on the definition of “control.” The important detail is exactly how much more fish the U.K. will get to take out of shared waters across 100 or so stocks.
6. £350M for the NHS instead of being sent to Brussels
The U.K. net contribution to the EU budget was more like £230 million a week, but Britain has had to spend huge sums on the divorce bill and on preparations for Brexit. The NHS did get a funding boost – but this isn’t as a result of the EU departure.
7. New trade deals, and access to a European trading zone ‘from Iceland to Russia’
The U.K. has so far failed to sign a single brand new trade deal that it did not have as part of EU membership. The U.K. has agreed a tariff-free, quota-free deal, but the customs barriers have increased, it is still subject to numerous EU conditions, and there are still big gaps on services — for example, many business travelers will need work visas. Britain still needs to lock in trading terms for EFTA states Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and complete a free trade agreement with Turkey.
8. Continue cooperating on security issues and counter-terrorism
Both sides will continue to cooperate on security and counter-terrorism — but … the U.K. will no longer have direct, real-time access to EU security databases, such as on passenger records, criminal records, DNA and fingerprints. The deal allows for “ambitious and timely arrangements” to share such data, according to an EU document. The U.K. will continue to observe the European Convention on Human Rights, and could see law enforcement and judicial cooperation cut off if it fails to do so. It will also have to adhere to strict data standards. There will be “cooperation” between Europol and Eurojust, but that will amount to nothing more than what other third countries get when dealing with the EU. However, in other areas, such as the extradition of criminals, the cooperation will be closer than with third countries.
9. Financial protection for farmers who get cash from Brussels
The government will implement a new regime in the years to 2025 that will change the rules for funding farmers in England. Cash will be tied not to the amount of land, as in the EU system, but to whether that land is used for public good. It is unclear whether, in the long run, farmers stand to receive the same amount of money as they do now, as Vote Leave promised.
10. Continued participation in EU science research schemes, deeper cooperation on scientific collaboration, plus increased funding for science
The U.K. is retaining membership of the Horizon Europe program, under which EU states pool funding for science projects. It will also continue to participate in the Euratom Research and Training program, the Copernicus space program and others.
11. Wages will be higher
Even government economic forecasters reckon a deal with the EU will hit UK GDP compared with retaining membership. Some wages in some sectors might increase (customs officials?) but others might even lose their jobs.
12. The union will be stronger
In recent months, repeated polls have shown that Scotland would vote for independence if given another referendum, with Brexit a particular grievance for Scottish National Party voters. The debate is turning to whether Johnson will be able to hold off on granting one if the SNP wins big in Scottish elections in 2021.
Welsh nationalism is on the rise as a result of Johnson’s cack-handed Brexit negotiations, and also due to his failure to control Covid-19. And who can doubt that Northern Ireland will come closer to the Irish Republic after this?
13. Cut VAT on energy bills to save the average household £64 a year
Outside the EU [the UK] can. But Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also backed Brexit, has not announced that the government will make the change. The promise remains outstanding.
14. Scrap VAT on sanitary products
The EU has long insisted it will scrap VAT on sanitary products but is still yet to do so. Sunak announced in his March budget that it would be scrapped in the U.K. Johnson won a concession from Brussels when he struck the Withdrawal Agreement that the so-called “tampon tax” would not apply to Northern Ireland if it remains in the customs union, which it will. So that’s a checkpoint for Vote Leave.
15. The new treaty should be ready within two years and before the next election (which was May 2020)
For a snapshot of the way people have responded on particular issues, let’s consider the Erasmus scheme.
Erasmus is an exchange programme that allows UK students to study and work across Europe. More than half the UK students abroad are there as part of the Erasmus scheme.
But Boris Johnson has ended the UK’s involvement in it – after promising to Parliament that this would not happen:
Boris Johnson has stripped our youth of the enrichment of Erasmus
Here is the truth twisting charlatan promising Parliament that we would stay part of Erasmus.
Please do your job @BBCNews & put this on the ten o’clock news #Erasmus #BorisJohnsonLiesAgain pic.twitter.com/ksfCKv9cmo
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) December 25, 2020
Johnson cutting our youth out of Erasmus was just petty and nasty.
— Dr Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) December 24, 2020
This is every kind of disaster for our young people and will push modern foreign languages even further down the academic hierarchy. https://t.co/SGCAyXobmj
— Merry Cross (@Merrynew13) December 25, 2020
Johnson says he is replacing Erasmus with a new scheme called Turing – after Bletchley Park Omega device solver Alan. Also named after Turing is the test to distinguish human beings from artificial devices created to fake it. One gets the impression Johnson would fail:
I suspect Alan #Turing would have been in favour of maintaining #Erasmus.
— Thing1 3.5% 🇪🇺 🌱🌍🌹 🌻 (@withthing2) December 26, 2020
Given all of the above, what is one supposed to think of this deal that Boris Johnson claims is so good?
Earlier this month This Site published a piece asking whether Johnson became the figurehead for the Brexit campaign purely to stop the European Union clamping down on the City and its role in money laundering and financial crime across the globe. Was it his intention to preserve the City of London as the financial crime centre of the world’s economy?
What do you think?
Personally, I’m wondering if it’s the first time in history a nation has been asked to celebrate spending a huge amount of time and money on a plan to waste even more time and money – with absolutely no profit in it for us.
What was the point?
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I’m not pretending, for a moment, that this is a great deal, I don’t believe that it is and I haven’t read it, yet but 4% poorer? Everyone? That’s debatable. Poorer than what? Poorer than we are? Than we were, before SARS-CoV-2 came to spoil the party? Than we might have been, had the SARS virus not come? Than we might have been, had we voted not to leave? Than we might have been, had Theresa May not been such a poor negotiator? Than we might have been, had the House not spent so much time trying to overturn the result of the Referendum? Than we might have been, had £abour won the election, under Jeremy Corbyn? Than we might be had Donald Trump maintained the Presidency? These are all unknowable; life isn’t like that, it is what it is, not what it might, or could have been. We can’t know these, because they did not occur. SARS-CoV-2 did come along, when it did and wreck all of our plans. Joe Biden is set to become the President, next year and Kier Starmer is leading the £abour Party.
We can’t live our lives on ifs buts and maybes, we have to deal with what is, whether we like it, or not; the alternative is not an option.
Okay – how about YOU keep your eye on the averages, and let us know how they look after a reasonable period of time?
I’m simply saying that we can’t possibly know but what good would it do us? We can’t live in the past. This is the situation with which we are faced and we have to deal with that. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. Again, I’m not praising the deal, by any stretch of the imagination but we have either that, or no trade deal, at all. We have to make the best of the hand which we have now been dealt.