The draft Withdrawal Treaty

Martin Howe, Richard Aikens and T Grant have written an excellent guide to the draft Withdrawal Treaty, published by Politeia.

They remind us that the whole Withdrawal Treaty, not just the Irish backstop, contains problems for the UK were we to sign it.

In particular they cite


  1. It reaffirms the supremacy of EU law in specified  areas, requiring UK courts to strike down any UK legislation which contradicts EU law.
  2. It gives the European Court of Justice an important role in settling disputes by referring them to the ECJ, a court of one of the two parties to the dispute. International Treaties usually go to third party independent appeal
  3. It imposes stringent penalty payments  on the UK for non compliance and allows the EU to suspend its own Treaty obligations if they argue the UK has failed to comply
  4. There is no exit clause for the UK without the permission of the EU

I wrote a letter to the Attorney General about various problems with the draft Treaty including  the long tail financial liabilities it would commit us to.

It is good the new PM has said this draft Treaty is “dead”.



  1. Lynn Atkinson
    July 25, 2019

    However he did vote for it! Until he delivers Brexit ‘I don’t believe him’.

    1. L Jones
      July 25, 2019

      I feel the same, Ms Atkinson.
      If he thought it was good once, then he may still feel that way.

      I’m glad our host keeps reminding all of us (and him) that he said it was ‘dead’ on more than one occasion.

    2. Richard
      July 25, 2019

      The People weren’t fooled by BRINO last time, nor will Boris be able to sneak a bad deal past us this time. Any deal by Boris will be disected in detail by Sir John, Martin Howe, The Brexit Party etc and widely reported on.

      Boris needs to heed Sir John and deliver a Clean/Proper Brexit. Over 30% now want a WTO Brexit. BRINO will be lucky to attract 9% second time around.

  2. Pominoz
    July 25, 2019

    Sir John,

    The article by Politeia reads like a horror story to any Brexiteer. It is reassuring that Boris has declared the putrid WA dead and has announced his new cabinet which perhaps provides evidence of his determination to get us out.

    In the main, the cabinet seems to be comprised of the right people. I was, however, disappointed that Sajid Javid was appointed Chancellor rather than you, Sir John. No doubt, however, your sensible views will now actually be listened to, and be rather more influential than whilst Mrs May was in charge.

    As Mrs May left the HoC for the final time as PM, reports say that she was clapped out. I thought she was clapped out three years ago.

    1. Fred H
      July 25, 2019

      you are wasted on here – ever thought of doing stand-up?

    2. Andy
      July 25, 2019

      I thought she ought to have been clapped in Irons, preferably in The Tower.

  3. Nigl
    July 25, 2019

    Given the changes that Boris has introduced, maybe he would now reply.

  4. Mark B
    July 25, 2019

    Good morning

    It is good the new PM has said this draft Treaty is “dead”.

    And the last one said; “No deal is better than a bad deal.” And yet, tried to push through the worst deal in history no less than three times ! And the rest.

    So pardon me if I just take a very sceptical view on our new PM and his Cabinet.

    Judge them by what they do. Not by what they say.

  5. Shirley
    July 25, 2019

    The WA was lethal for the UK. That May even considered it to be acceptable was a kick in the teeth for all UK citizens. She lied and lied and lied to the electorate about the WA, but then that has been par for the course for the last few decades where the EU is concerned, starting with Heath!

    I was so hopeful when she gave her Lancaster & Mansion House speeches. What corrupted her? We need to ensure those corrupting situations do not arise again.

    1. Otto
      July 25, 2019

      From what I saw on PMQs T. May is the best PM we have ever had and will ever have!

      How could anyone say what they did? Are those totally corrupt as they can’t be stupid or..wqell I don’t know what.

  6. formula57
    July 25, 2019

    Agreed, “It is good the new PM has said this draft Treaty is “dead”” and I am not at all alarmed that our new prime minister once voted in favour of it nor that you feel the need today to draw attention once again to its serious flaws.

    1. Otto
      July 25, 2019

      .. serious flaws. How is it that no one has presented these flaws to T. May , even by Corbyn? She’s got away scot free from any questioning. How is that?

  7. Dominic
    July 25, 2019

    Mere words cannot describe the anger I feel when reading this travesty. To think that a British PM, Tory ministers, British civil servants and her advisers conspired with Merkel and EU pygmies to construct such a treaty that in effect turns this ancient nation into a vassal is so extraordinary that even I find myself entering a state of disbelief

    I shed a tear when May left Downing Street, a tear of joy.

    A most reprehensible individual who will be forgotten as soon as BJ pulls up outside No.10

  8. agricola
    July 25, 2019

    Agreed the WA is dead. Any arrangements of mutual benefit to the UK/EU should be written into a treaty under the auspices of the Vienna Convention. This to be confirmed after an FTA is signed. Only at this point do we discuss any ongoing financial committments relating to joint ventures. Pensions of UK citizens who have worked within the EU to become subject to UK taxes, particularly if paid out of UK taxes.

    The EU should be invited to London to meet the new UK government. They should have the death of the WA confirmed to them, be presented with a draft FTA on goods and services, be offered stability of the status quo by mutual agreement under Art 24 of GATT until such time as an FTA is agreed. I would suggest this is done during August.

    If the EU agree then we are leaving with an agreement. If the EU cannot agree then we leave under WTO terms due to a failure on the part of the EU. This will not silence the voices of the remoaners, but that is their problem.

    If said remoaners manage to block such a process then a GE becomes inevitable with a coalition of mutual intersts between the conservative and brexit parties desirable. If for no other reason than to clear out the fifth column within the conservative party.

  9. J Bush
    July 25, 2019

    Your article suggests Johnson has endorsed this, and if Geoffrey Cox had been one of the co-authors, I would agree.

    However, I see no evidence of this. More so, as I understand Johnson’s cabinet consists of prominently remain MP’s. Granted the bulk of them are not of the May, Hammond and Grieve type, but somewhat disconcerting and disheartening start to the onlooker who voted leave.

    1. L Jones
      July 25, 2019

      Agreed, JB. We want desperately to see some rays of sunshine – hence all the euphoria – but it still seems as though shadows are being cast by the remain camp.

  10. Little Englander
    July 25, 2019

    “I wrote a letter to the Attorney General……”. Did he give you a satisfactory answer? Appears he’s still in position isn’t he?

  11. Lifelogic
    July 25, 2019

    The draft treaty certainly need to be dead. It is totally appalling. More alarmist nonsense from the dire BBC just because we have a lovely hot summer’s day. Just like the ones I remember as a child fifty odd years ago. Plus we have Greta Thunberg types calling for “civil disobedience”.

    It it not time to deal with these organisations, charities, the Met Office and eco-fashists and would be eco-terrorists? Perhaps making their members fully responsible for all the cost and damage they cause and certain killing any charitable tax reliefs they get and getting the BBC to show some sensible balance on this issue.

  12. Andy
    July 25, 2019

    And yet …. in a few weeks you will all be signing up to it anyway.

    Mr Johnson will bring back Mrs May’s deal and Tory MPs – including all of the ERG – will vote for it.

    Sure – there will be some cosmetic changes.

    It will get a new name – it won’t be called the withdrawal agreement. The EU will change a few words. Perhaps the backstop will be renamed the stop back. We won’t owe £39bn anymore – it will be less because with the date changing we have already paid some. The EU will adjust the font and put it in a differ coloured binder.

    But it will be lipstick on a pig. It will still basically be the same thing.

    Your Brexit deal will ultimately be the dud we always told you it would be. You will all cheer when it comes into force on October 31 – and then, over the coming years, we will grind you all down into a pulp for the monstrosity you have inflicted on our country.

    Reply I will not be voting for the WA nor will many of my colleagues.

    1. Fred H
      July 25, 2019

      Andy ….at least you call out the WA for what it is —A PIG.

    2. Jiminyjim
      July 25, 2019

      Andy, you’ve told us endless times that the EU won’t change the WA Treaty. Changing your mind, now, obviously

  13. Noneoftheabove
    July 25, 2019

    An interesting analysis which tells you all you need to know about the EU and the last PM.
    A helpful list of proposals on The Brexit Central website today, well worth a read.

  14. sm
    July 25, 2019

    How long will it be before M Howard pops up here to declare the EU is ‘just a trading bloc’?

  15. Walt
    July 25, 2019

    Yes, I read it a few days ago. So, why did a British Prime Minister and other MPs seek to subject our country to such servitude? Why were they trying to place our country into the hands of a foreign power?

  16. Ian Wragg
    July 25, 2019

    RIP the WA. Farage is perched like a parrot on Boris shoulder in case he falters.
    Sing after me……..Oh what a beautiful morning…….

    1. Fred H
      July 25, 2019

      not a parrot….its a very angry, hungry vulture.

  17. Dave Andrews
    July 25, 2019

    In addition, despite the talk in the media of “£39bn”, there is no figure in the WA and no cap on the amount the EU can claim. Moreover, there appears to be no mechanism for the UK to dispute the EU’s claims.

  18. Caterpillar
    July 25, 2019

    Previously when you wrote to the AG your letter was passed to Mr Barclay to give a detailed reply. Mr Barclay replied to your questions defending theocracy WA. Mr Barclay remains in place.

  19. Rhoddas
    July 25, 2019

    Dear Sir John,

    Very good points; I recall also the WA would have committed us to making further payments to the EU for several years afterwards. This should not be forgotten, in effect it’s taxation without representation.

    How the EU are currently treating the sovereign democratic nation of Switzerland clearly demonstrates their insistance to press for central autocratic control of europe, rather than choosing to live in harmony with their neighbours.

    PS Congratulations to Boris too! I would recommend, in the event of a no confidence vote, he chooses a General Election date in November, having just delivered Brexit so we can reward him warmly.

  20. Daniel James
    July 25, 2019

    And yet people still seem to think that it is a good deal and that it delivers Brexit. I would hope to see a full forensic dissembling of it in the national press just so we can all see what we have just avoided.
    It also shows the arrogance of the EU in that they not only believe it is good deal but remains the only deal on offer. Will people still try to defend it?

  21. Edward2
    July 25, 2019

    Number 4 is the most dreadful of all the dreadful items in the Withdrawal Agreement.
    Who in business would sign a contract or even a simple business agreement with that clause in it.

  22. John Probert
    July 25, 2019

    The Withdrawal Treaty is a disaster and we should now move on

  23. Fred H
    July 25, 2019

    Boris made reference to the original estimate of £39bn payment, and the non-payment should we reach leaving without a ‘deal’. I hope he means what he alluded too, and the EU sit up and take notice of our PM who is not the roll over sham of the last one.

  24. Fed up with the bull
    July 25, 2019

    Frightening to say the least. Who ever thought this would be a good idea? They need their brains testing. I don’t think the public realise just what we were expected to sign. It’s about time someone came on the TV and spelt it out.

  25. Christine
    July 25, 2019

    Is it dead?

    Boris has filled his cabinet with those who voted for it. Only Priti Patel, Jo Johnson and Theresa Villiers opposed the Withdrawal Agreement on the third attempt.
    The long tail financial liabilities is a worry. Many experts predict the Euro will implode shortly. We need to be well clear of bailing out these countries unlike the last financial crisis.

    Has Geoffrey Cox replied to you yet?

  26. Ignoramus
    July 25, 2019

    The general public, and media, need constant repetition that there are more serious problems than just the backstop.

  27. A.Sedgwick
    July 25, 2019

    My concern in this furore is the “backstop” seems to be the holy grail, when as your piece highlights it is not. Boris seems to be off to Europe – wrong. The strategy is Withdrawal Treaty is dead, we are leaving 31/10 and here is our free trade agreement proposal. There are no doubt 100s of other mini agreements largely decided and others should in a good faith relationship present no difficulty. This 585 page Treaty with useless political declaration is the usual lawyers dogs’ breakfast guaranteeing years of work and generally fostering pandemonium.

  28. Ian!
    July 25, 2019

    Sovereignty and democracy were uppermost when wishing to leave the EU.

    Laws handed down without democratic scrutiny and laws that cannot be amended but those democratically elected, are laws that have no place in a society wishing to call its self a democracy.

    Laws and Courts are independent bodies that implement and uphold the laws passed by the society that creates them. Independent as there is no day to day political interference. Therefore, a foreign Court has no jurisdiction on the peoples of a Sovereign Country in their own domain.

    Treaties that can only be resolved in a Political Court (such as the ECJ) that is run by one of the parties involved, are treaties that no Sovereign Nation should recognized.

    A Withdrawal Treaty (WA) that doesn’t recognize the rights of the people, should not be recognized by anyone with a democratic bone in their body.

  29. Mark
    July 25, 2019

    Boris should now plan to table our own take it or leave it deal. Both sides may negotiate additional items after Brexit.

  30. Mark
    July 25, 2019

    Perhaps the new PM will publish the entire legal advice from Geoffrey Cox. It might do wonders to disabuse support for the WA.

    1. L Jones
      July 25, 2019

      If he wants everyone to know, that is. If he wants it to lose support.

      I really want to believe in him. But May has left us all bruised and it’ll take a while to win back trust. I’m certainly not immediately convinced, though I do like the bloke!

  31. BR
    July 25, 2019

    Let’s see if it really is “dead”.

    BJ is still a politician. We can only judge them in retrospect on their actions rather than the words they are using now.

  32. BillM
    July 25, 2019

    Hmm and Boris and JRM signed up for this at the third attempt? Why?

    1. L Jones
      July 25, 2019

      I wonder if they will ever come clean about that. It’s a cloud over their credibility. I believe I recall that McVey attempted to explain.

      What made it acceptable suddenly at the third attempt, when, we are told ”not a comma was changed” from the second time?

  33. Otto
    July 25, 2019

    With all the relentless discussion over Boris’ PM and the subsequent jobs handout over so many hours on TV and radio even at 3am there has not been a single mention of John Redwood’s name even . He is obviously out of any loop or his name or he himself has been completely forgotten or he is not considered appropriate which is quite opposite what many say about him here wishing him to be Chancellor. How come?

  34. cornishstu
    July 25, 2019

    Yet we still have MPs referring to it as a deal when it is no such thing. This needs to be corrected and its true implications explained to the country. A couple of Cornish conservative MPs on local radio were saying that Boris was going to try to renegotiate the Irish backstop and that if he could he would probably get the WA through. Were they talking nonsense or are we going to get a leaving agreement similar to the withdrawal agreement a bit like the EU constitution now Lisbon treaty. Excuse my cynicism, but with all the lies over the last three years proof will be in the pudding.

  35. Original Richard
    July 25, 2019

    When remainers inform us that leaving with “no deal” will be a catastrophic disaster it is because they are in fact expecting/predicting/threatening that the EU elites will turn upon us in a very nasty way.

    As a former member who is fully compliant with all EU legislation, there is no reason why a managed exit cannot be arranged.

    However, regaining our independence and democracy, even if the EU does decide to punish us any way they can, will be worth it and we will avoid the even more severe negative social, economic and political consequences of either remaining in the EU or becoming a colony by signing the EU’s falsely named “Withdrawal Treaty”.

    1. L Jones
      July 25, 2019

      They’re not ”elite”.

  36. Denis Cooper
    July 26, 2019

    Pity this has been missed for moderation.

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