A quick note to Tory MPs before their vote on the Internal Market Bill:

1. It’s understandable to have concerns that some elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol may have damaging consequences for the UK internal market. (THREAD)
2. Some goods from GB to NI could be deemed to be ‘at risk’ and liable to EU tariffs;

NI exporters might have to comply with customs procedures when moving goods to GB; &

there may be confusion about what subsidies, if given to GB firms, have to comply w/ EU state aid rules.
(3. NB There’s nothing in the IM Bill about GB-NI trade, or about food standards.)
4. These are legitimate concerns, but we’re not in a world of no alternatives.

If there is a lack of clarity about these issues, they should be resolved through negotiation with the EU in the Joint Committee. It’s the job of the Joint Cttee to resolve these issues amicably.
5. The Joint Committee, if it agrees by mutual consent, can make “decisions” which can clarify and amend the meaning the treaty.

If the Joint Committee can't agree, the UK can argue, before independent arbitration, that it has a different interpretation of relevant provisions.
6. There’s a degree of protection of the UK internal market built into the NI Protocol. Art 6 states that “nothing in the Protocol should prevent unfettered access” btw NI and GB, which allows the Govt to make a case that it has a different interpretation of certain provisions.
7. Instead, the Government has chosen a different solution: unilateral legislation that will put the UK in a clear breach of the WA; burns the Govt’s leverage at the Joint Committee; damages trust; and causes serious consequences to UK reputation.
8. In doing so, it risks serious consequences if the EU launches a formal dispute through the WA. The UK will be taken to the ECJ; likely lose the case; and face a decision about whether to defy the ruling.

If it defies the ruling, it'll be another blow to UK intl reputation.
9. Worse, the EU will probably 'cross-retaliate' to areas in which it has significant leverage over the UK, such as equivalence for UK financial services firms or a 'data adequacy' decision.

(How exactly do you want to build a world-leading tech sector without data adequacy?)
10. So, the question to ask is this: Is this option of last resort worth the price of a nasty dispute with the EU; a trade agreement with the EU; a deal with the US; and, ultimately, the UK’s international reputation?

If not, ask the PM to explore the alternatives first. (END)

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More from @AntonSpisak

25 Sep
Interesting piece by @JGForsyth, but it seems to represent just one perspective inside HMG (perhaps that of CO and HMT, but not necessarily No10). My understanding is that key players in No10 are far less bullish about prospects for a deal. (THREAD)
thetimes.co.uk/article/a-brex…
1. I understand that No10 are adamant that they won't drop the controversial clauses 42-45 from the UKIM Bill. In their view, these clauses are about protecting "essential UK interests" against EU over-reach. Braverman's gutsy speech in the Commons yday spelled out this view.
2. There's a big trouble ahead with the EU, but legal countermeasures aren't seen as a political risk. The view is that if the EU infracts Govt under NIP and takes it to the ECJ, this will be a fight btw "a sovereign Parliament v European judges". Speaks to the core constituency.
Read 20 tweets
18 Sep
"The one thing I keep trying to assure is on the front of everybody’s mind is avoiding a border by accident.”

Good statement by the US NI Envoy. It prompts the next big question for the Govt: what does the UK do if arbitration rules against it? (THREAD)
ft.com/content/e71b73…
1. It's an important question, because this week we have seen a Cabinet minister being unable to confirm whether, if the UK were to be found in breach of the withdrawal treaty by the independent arbitration panel, it would accept this ruling or not.

2. This is a serious admission by the NI Secretary of State, because the primary function of a dispute resolution mechanism in the withdrawal treaty is to incentivise the losing party in a dispute into compliance with its international obligations under the treaty.
Read 19 tweets
17 Sep
No10 has now confirmed that, "in parallel" with the UKIM 'notwithstanding' provisions, it would "always activate dispute settlement" under the WA.

Makes sense to assuage the backbench fears, but No10 risks a seriously muddled position. (THREAD)
gov.uk/government/pub…
1. No10 has had a choice: either (a) to pursue a dispute under the WA (by arguing they have a different interpretation of relevant provisions in the NI Protocol). They let the dispute run and then accept the ruling of a panel (or don't - but face the consequences).
2. Or (b) to do what they've had in the UKIM Bill: create a domestic constraint that allows ministers and courts to interpret certain provisions of the NI Protocol in their own way (but which puts them in violation of substantive provision of the WA).
Read 7 tweets
10 Sep
Like, it's not fake? But an actual Attorney General of an actual country wrote this thing?
Read 4 tweets
10 Sep
The only credible solution to the UK Government's problem with the Northern Ireland Protocol is a future trade agreement with the EU. Here's why, and how to solve it. (THREAD)
1. The UK's problem with the NI Protocol is, first and foremost, about state aid. The Govt hates the idea that future subsidies awarded to GB firms could be subject to EU state aid rules and ECJ jurisdiction. (I've explained the dilemma below:)
2. The Govt calls this an "ambiguity", but it is not. It was a requirement by the EU, during the NI negotiations, to ensure that UK-wide state aid with spillovers to NI won't undermine competition in the single market. (Several ways that could happen:)
Read 13 tweets
7 Sep
Amid all the noise, let's take a look at what would actually happen if the UK were to legislate contrary to its international commitments in the withdrawal treaty. What would be the consequences? (THREAD)
1. Let's assume, as @pmdfoster reports, that the Govt wants to use the Internal Market Bill to alter the legal effects of parts of the Withdrawal Agreement – esp Northern Ireland protocol – which it doesn’t like: state aid and export declarations.
2. It's important to be clear, at the outset, that what the Govt does *not* appear to want is to scrap the Withdrawal Agreement as such. It wants to introduce legislation that would alter, or remove, some of the legal effects of the WA in *domestic law*.
Read 31 tweets

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