TORY MPs across the Brexit divide have given their backing to the so-called Malthouse Compromise.
It would mean extending the transition period from the end of 2020 to December 2021 but with the UK following EU rules and paying an extra £10billion into Brussels coffers.
It would also mean replacing the Irish backstop with technological solutions while leaving the option open of exiting the EU on World Trade Organisation rules – if a free-trade deal has not been struck.
The idea was named after housing minister Kit Malthouse, who brought the two sides together in secret. Here, leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg offers his view:
THE EU has taken an almost religious approach to Britain’s latest move towards securing a Brexit deal.
The compromise put forward by my fellow MP Kit Malthouse has been immediately dismissed and any prospect of further negotiation turned away. The mighty EU has spoken and will not be gainsaid.
MP Kit Malthouse devised a Brexit compromise that would bring both sides together[/caption]
In negotiating the compromise, both Leavers and Remainers made concessions. This has led to criticism from their supporters, as I found in my weekly radio show on LBC.
Callers felt that I had become a “snowflake” in my willingness to see £39billion of taxpayers’ money spent without giving us any advantage in future negotiations.
The legal basis for the EU demanding money is weak. A House of Lords report came to the conclusion that while there could be a moral obligation, under UK, EU and international law there was no valid or forceful claim.
The only motive for paying is to secure a good future deal, rather than to pay a ransom for our freedom.
On his radio show, Rees-Mogg was accused of becoming a ‘snowflake’ for making concessions[/caption]
Yet I have come to the conclusion that leaving on March 29 is at risk and exiting the EU is a prize worth paying for and on which the return will be great.
Unfortunately, in spite of the Referendum result, the majority of MPs are reluctant to see the UK part from the EU and at the least want terms that mirror our membership.
This may well not be the view of most voters, who seem to welcome the clean break and are not fearful of the scare stories.
It is, therefore, crucial to ensure the fears of those who are far from enthusiastic Brexiteers are assuaged. This is where the Malthouse Compromise comes in.
Unfortunately, in spite of the Referendum result, the majority of MPs are reluctant to see the UK part from the EU and at the least want terms that mirror our membership[/caption]
By offering money and making the prospect of a No Deal Brexit unlikely, possible moderate former Remainers are willing to avoid Parliamentary tactics that would frustrate our departure.
They can accept the replacement of the backstop, which could keep us tied in to the EU’s rules and courts forever, with a routine trade agreement based on existing processes commonly used around the world.
This would not hamper the development of a future relationship which would be discussed once we have left. Although in these discussions we would lose the leverage of cash, we would not be squeezed by the backstop.
The second stage of the compromise is that the implementation period could be extended by one year. Currently the withdrawal agreement proposes a maximum of two years.
Most voters seem to welcome the clean break and are not fearful of the scare stories[/caption]
In this time we would remain subject to EU laws and what follows, but it makes the prospect of not finalising a future relationship less likely, which gives comfort to those who are determined to avoid No Deal.
In my view, an extra 33 months of vassalage after 46 years is an unwelcome but not unaffordable price to pay. Critics may ask why Brexiteers want to lessen the chance of a No Deal departure — and the reason is simple.
Regardless of the folly of Project Fear, which becomes more preposterous by the day, the Parliamentary arithmetic means we must either lessen the prospect by compromise or it will be done by sharp practice in the House of Commons.
This could lead to delay or even no Brexit at all. This would destroy any remaining trust of politicians in our constitutional settlement, it would show reckless contempt for voters, yet the Brexit-denying amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper last week was only defeated by 23 votes.
The Brexit-denying amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper last week was only defeated by 23 votes[/caption]
As with all compromises, Malthouse is not perfect but is enough for each side of the argument in the UK to accept.
The question remains, will the EU response be positive? So far, it has not.
This has always been at the heart of the debate, and in a way a compelling reason for going. Is the EU a Mafia-style organisation that has to punish countries that do not subscribe to its religion?
Their response to the Malthouse Compromise and the PM’s request to re-open the text will answer this question. It must be clear to the EU that the current withdrawal agreement will not do.
As with all compromises, Malthouse is not perfect but is enough for each side of the argument in the UK to accept[/caption]
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Defeated in the Commons by the largest margin ever achieved in the lower house on Government business, it is simply too one-sided and allows too great a triumph to the EU.
If the EU were to insist on its inalterability requiring the punishment of a recalcitrant, freedom-loving nation then it will reveal its true and barbarous colours. It would be evident on its own that we are right to leave.
How much better it would be if this were wrong and that in fact the EU is the civilised organisation it claims to be — respecting democracy, the nation state and constitutional procedures. In a few weeks we will know.
- Jacob Rees-Mogg is MP for North East Somerset and chairman of the European Research Group.