Local MEP Jonathan Arnott has reacted angrily to EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier laying down the law over UK policies after Britain leaves the European Union.
Speaking at an environment conference, Mr Barnier declared that Britain must sign a ‘non-regression’ clause to prevent ‘key pre-Brexit standards’ being lowered in any further trade deals between the UK and EU.
“It is typical EU arrogance for them to imply they’re the only ones upholding ‘standards’, when in many areas we have higher standards than the European Union and legislated before them (they’ve finally caught up on the presumption of innocence this month, some 803 years behind us). But this isn’t really about standards, it’s about control. It’s about the European Union seeking to control our domestic policies, to prevent the UK becoming more competitive, to stop our economy booming – disappointingly, the Commission seems to consider a vibrant UK economy a threat to them, rather than an asset in a great trading partner right on their doorstep.
“Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of any of the issues raised by Barnier, the fundamental principle of the EU telling us what our policies must be post-Brexit is reprehensible,” said Mr Arnott, an Independent Euro-MP for the North East. “Their endless red tape and control is one of the reasons so many millions voted for Brexit in the first place. We voted for freedom and our government must stand firm and not be bullied,” he said.
“Even if the UK wanted to surrender on this point, I question whether a legally-binding guarantee about future domestic policies can even be legally achieved; a fundamental principle of the UK’s democracy is that no British Parliament may legally bind its successor.”
Mr Barnier has said that the UK would not be allowed to lower ‘standards’ on issues including taxation if a post-Brexit deal is to be achieved, insisting a so-called ‘level playing field’ must be achieved in not only environmental areas but also fiscal.