11th December, 2017.
Open Letter to Mrs. Theresa May, Prime Minister
Thank you for your email of 9th December in reply to our letter to Mrs. May.
Pursuant to the result of the EU Referendum in 2016, and the vote taken by Parliament, we understand from your email that :-
- The UK is to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union and membership of the European Union on 29th March, 2019.
- As from 29th March, 2019, we will no longer be subject to the European Courts of Justice and that they will have no jurisdiction over the U.K.
- All payments to the EU will cease on 29th March, 2019 subject to an implementation period for a fixed period of 2 years.
We agree and support the three statements of intent above, apart from the implementation period.
However, we have now had a chance to read the Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government dated 8th December, 2017.
This report, to a large degree, would appear very one-sided, and is not compatible with your comments in your email. You say in your email that you have listened to EU leaders and understand and respect their position. Can we assume the same will be reciprocated to us from the EU Leaders? Will you not listen to the British People and understand and respect their concerns?
1) We are concerned that you are withdrawing from your statement in your email in that, on the one hand you say that we are leaving the Single Market and Customs Union yet the report states that “in the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement. As Northern Ireland is part of the U.K., does this mean therefore that if no solution is found, we agree to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union? (in that we mean, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England).
Are you misleading us? Will this not conflict with other trade negotiations we may wish to make with the rest of the world? What exactly is meant by ‘maintain full alignment?’ Is this confined only to Northern Ireland?
2) In your email, you state that we will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the ECJ after 29th March, 2019. However, the report states we will continue to contribute to many budgets and funding programmes until 2020. Will we not still be under EU Law and the jurisdiction of the ECJ? This too, no doubt, will also apply if we are to agree a 2 year transitional period?
3) You state that all payments will cease after 29th March, 2019 yet the report states the UK has agreed to many funding programmes, financing etc., until 2020 and some beyond. The MFF, to which Mrs. May refers ‘honouring our obligations’ is from 2014-2020. However, it would appear that these are not just projects, but EU pensions, administrative costs, jobs and growth etc., and we don’t believe that it would sit well with the majority of British tax paying citizens, especially at a time of austerity, and it contradicts your statement that payments will cease on 29th March, 2019. On 20 June 2017, the Council adopted the revised MFF for 2014-2020 by a unanimous vote, yet you triggered Article 50 on 29th March, 2017 – please explain why you feel we should ‘honour our obligations’ when in fact at the time of adoption of the MFF, we had, in fact, already announced our intent to leave?
In our letter to you of 21st November, 2017, we stated “we have strong legal ground to stop contributing to the EU budget after March 2019, as article 50 ends all Treaty obligations at this point, including financial obligations.” So can you please explain in concise and transparent detail, exactly what you mean by ‘obligations’ and ‘divorce bill’, and why you feel we should make any payment towards the EU?
4) We understand that there has been proposed, a fixed 2 year transitional period. For whose benefit? Will we still be under EU law during this period? We may give credence for those 2 years if it was proven to be highly beneficial to this country and not at a high cost, and it meant obtaining an exceptional free trade agreement. However, it must be stated that since the Referendum vote was taken in June, 2016, already 18 months have passed and a further 18 months until the exit date on 29th March, 2019. No doubt, most businesses are already introducing impact studies and action plans, so can you please explain why you feel an extra 2 years is required? You may think this implementation period, confined to 2 years, is to prevent a ‘cliff edge’ scenario, but please explain the benefit to the British Taxpayer? Do we still have to pay a membership fee for the transitional period although not recognised as a Member State?
Yet this again would be incompatible to your statement in your email “All payments to the EU will cease on 29th March, 2019”.
Is this transitional period to commence after the official leaving date? If so, then a general election is due in between this period, and we would like confirmation that no future government can overturn the Brexit process in any way? Even members of your own party have stated that any government can ‘tear up the Brexit deal’ after the election. We therefore demand that our democratic vote in the EU referendum be upheld.
Within this report, we all noticed that there are a lot of concessions given to EU members living in the U.K., and although we would wish for them to be well considered, we feel the same has not been provided to British Citizens living in EU countries. Can you explain why EU members can move around freely within the U.K., yet British Citizens will be confined to the EU country that they presently live in, and not be allowed to freely move within the EU albeit most are within the Schengen Agreement? Will EU citizens residing and working in the U.K. be subject to British Law? It has also been stated that EU citizens, residing in the UK, will still have rights under EU law for a further 8 years. We feel this would conflict with British Law and therefore believe that EU citizens’ rights’ should come under British Law. What will be the rights of British Citizens residing in EU countries? What law will they be subject to?
In your email you state “By leaving the Customs Union and establishing a new and ambitious customs arrangement with the EU” – what exactly do you mean? What new and ambitious ‘customs arrangement’?
As you can see, there seems to be a lot of contradictions between your reply to us and the statements made by the British Government as set out in the Report.
We need, not only clarification, but transparency, and we need to see that the U.K.’s wishes and interests are listened to by EU leaders and our position respected and understood.
Whilst writing, you failed to answer some questions in our letter. Can you please confirm that none of our armed forces will join the EU Army (PESCO) and if discussions have been held on fisheries’ concerns and the regaining of our fishing waters? Also in regards to farmers, half the rebate that was agreed to be released by the Blair Government in consideration of amendments to the Common Agricultural Policy that were never carried out by the EU! – where is this money?
We would also require confirmation as to how a sum of between £35-£39 billion was arrived at, as the cost to us for leaving the EU, and would this be a full and final settlement? Focus seems to be on EU costs and liabilities that the UK will have to pay, but there is no mention of the UK’s share of EU assets.
Apparently, it was reported that the EU “had advised that the EU’s gargantuan assets sheet, which includes buildings, loans, wine and fine art, is owned exclusively by Brussels and not the member states.” Can you please confirm who are Brussels? Is that the country or some separate entity?
As you said, ‘nothing is agreed until all is agreed,’ so we ask that you consider not only what we have said but answer our concerns clearly and with transparency.
Helen Davies and cosignatories
The Silent Majority – The List (list of names available on request and being sent by post)