Publications

Brexit: How the Political Declaration can rescue the Withdrawal Agreement

8 January 2019
Andrew Duff (President of the Spinelli Group; Former Member of the European Parliament 1999-2014)



In his latest paper on Brexit, Andrew Duff argues that Mrs May has little chance of getting the Withdrawal Agreement ratified unless she begins to appeal to pro-European MPs on a cross-party basis. The arch-Brexiteers, including the DUP, will not change their minds. And the EU 27 will not make further concessions on the Irish backstop.

The key lies in the Political Declaration on the future relationship which already offers a broad spectrum of different outcomes but has been too easily dismissed at Westminster. The document can and must be improved, with its legal standing enhanced. Both sides need more clarity about the negotiations of the final association agreement. If the UK softens its red lines, especially on mobility of EU citizens, the EU will offer more on trade in services.

The tentative language of the Declaration as it stands should be replaced by firmer commitments on the Irish backstop and on reaching a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. Duff suggests what these amendments might be, and argues that a new version can be put before the Commons in the next few days. If MPs wish to ‘take back control’ of the Brexit process, revising the Political Declaration is the way to do it.

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