The Bow Group has been described by the veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash MP as “where Brexit began”.
It is true that his work and the work of fellow MPs and Bow Groupers Sir John Redwood MP and Lord Lilley over the past four decades laid the foundations for what is now a globally recognised movement for independence and national sovereignty.
Why then would we oppose Boris’ plan to deliver what we have wanted for more than forty years?
What was put forward to the British people was a stark and clear choice, remain in the EU or leave root and branch, the EU, the Customs Union, the Single Market, everything.
Three years ago the British public chose the latter option, but that option has been frustrated, diluted and blocked by a parliament made up of 70 per cent remain supporting MPs.
We opposed Theresa May’s deal Mark 1, 2, and 3, because they represented what has become known as BRINO (Brexit in name only); a form of Brexit that keeps us tied to many EU institutions and abiding by EU regulations. As both Brexiteers and Remainers commented, it would be the worst of both worlds where we have to abide by rules that we have absolutely no say in the making of.
We were told by the then government, you must support this deal because no better deal is possible, they made that same statement three times as they re-ordered the deal. Just a few months later we are told by a slightly re-ordered government that they have done a better deal, but no better deal is possible.
Any dealmaker will know, this is not the time to sign on the dotted line.
We didn’t battle against all the odds for forty years and win, only to accept a bronze medal for our efforts.
The currently proposed deal presents almost all of the same issues as the previous three, Northern Ireland would continue to be governed by EU rules and regulations, which means any trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would be similarly restricted. The Democratic Unionist Party, the government’s partner party in parliament, have announced they will be opposing the deal for this reason. Beyond that, we have to be aware that we have a remain dominated parliament, and the Political Declaration that accompanies the deal outlines a future of extremely close partnership with the EU on defence, financial regulations and market regulations.
It is highly likely that this parliament would seek to further dilute the deal in that the direction after the fact. The deal would also mean paying £39 billion to the EU with the potential for more. This represents 25 per cent of the government’s annual tax intake.
The EU President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that the EU will accept no further extension to negotiations beyond October 31, which means on October 31 we leave with a managed no-deal settlement. This would immediately free us from all EU institutions and honour the terms of the referendum in full, leaving us completely free to decide the path we wish to take in the future.
If it transpires that Boris passes his deal we will then turn our attentions to making a success of Brexit, as we hope all of the disparate forces in this debate will do. But if the deal doesn’t pass we have a head start with a clean break from the EU on October 31st, and an immediate ability to make Britain’s place in the world anew, where it deserves to be, independent, resolute, free, and right on top.
Ben Harris-Quinney is chairman of The Bow Group.
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