After my first reading of the draft EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement, here is a short thread with some initial thoughts:
1) this is a massive and complex document, covering very diverse & highly specialist fields. No single person could ever plausibly claim properly to master/understand it. So I’ve focused on my own (“big picture”) interests. Not, eg the (in fact marginal) details of fishing quotas
2) Let’s start with how draft treaty is being framed by UK Gov & client press. They compare it to “no deal” & thus treat it as some sort of triumph. Well: even on own terms, that is far from accurate: for many sectors, draft treaty is barely better than no deal at all
3) But of course: such UK Gov framing of draft treaty = entirely if sadly typically misleading. Real comparison should be draft treaty versus what UK already enjoyed for 45 years as a Member State of the EU. And judged by that benchmark: Johnson’s proposed deal is truly pathetic
4) Draft treaty gives UK nothing it didn't already enjoy, in relations with EU, as a Member State in its own right. Eg Johnson boasts about “zero tariffs and zero quotas” – even though we had that already for decades and Brexit simply risked throwing even those basic things away
5) More important than slim pickings offered by draft treaty = what it doesn’t cover & therefore what will be definitively lost. In that regard: some media attention, e.g. about UK deliberately turning back on Erasmus & (equally bizarrely) on structured foreign policy cooperation
6) But the losses go much, much further: eg no more free movement of goods (tariffs & quotas being only the most obvious & easiest trade barriers); no more free movement for services (indeed hardly anything at all for most sectors); almost total loss of movement rights for people
7) So: all this draft treaty offers is a few scraps from the table of what we previously enjoyed as full members of the club. Otherwise: Brexit takes away vast numbers of our rights, freedoms, benefits and opportunities; to be replaced by new barriers, costs, closures and losses
8) That damning analysis is reinforced by basic legal structures of draft treaty. Within the EU, rules & obligations = concrete rights for individuals & businesses that we can assert & enforce for ourselves. Our legal freedoms & protections are vested directly in us as citizens
9) By contrast: under draft treaty, even such meagre rules & obligations as will exist = only between EU & UK as international actors. We, individuals & businesses who are actually meant to live with those rules, can claim / enforce nothing for ourselves from / under this treaty.
10) So not only is Brexit the modern world's biggest exercise in cross-border economic & security segregation. It’s an equally serious legal disenfranchisement of the citizen – effectively stripped of myriad legal protections, right across Europe as well as within UK itself
11) And all of that is besides long term damage to UK’s leadership in Europe/influence across rest of world; UK reputation as trustworthy international actor; UK internal cohesion thanks to shocking treatment of Scotland & Wales – none of which this draft treaty even touches upon
12) What benefits do Brexitists offer as compensation for so much damage? “Sovereignty”. Something they had never lost in first place. & which in reality means: freedom to diverge [ie deregulate social standards] & strike trade deals with US [from position of relative weakness]
13) In any case: even most fanatical Brexit loon can’t believe we’ll ever forgive their cruelty to EU & UK migrant citizens, indifference to stability in NI, contempt for basic values of honesty/integrity, debasement of UK democracy – again, none of which draft treaty can repair
14) Johnson might think he "settled" UK's place in Europe “once & for all”. Starmer might be happy to play along. Those of us with principles & backbone think otherwise. As Brexitists lie in bed at night let’s make sure they're plagued by a little voice: “we’ll rejoin one day...”

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More from @mdouganlpool

7 Dec 20
Lots of requests for a "step-by-step" guide to where we are with the EU-UK negotiations.

So here you go - short thread summarising the essential context & key points / issues:
1) UK formally left EU in January 2020 but entered a "transition period" during which nothing very much changed: meant to give time for negotiations over future EU-UK relationship in fields like trade and security; based on "Political Declaration" as agreed by Johnson Government
2) Political Declaration envisaged only distant EU-UK relationship: partly logical consequence of Theresa May's longstanding "red lines" on free movement etc; but also result of renewed political preference, by Johnson Government, for even more extreme "clean break Brexit"
Read 16 tweets
8 Nov 20
Taking part in the pan-Liverpool mass testing scheme was dead easy: in and out in 15 mins; result by text within an hour.
It's not for me to say whether this scheme offers great promise or suffers whatever flaws. When a bona fide call comes - aux armes, citoyens - it's a civic duty to answer.
A negative result means: carry on obeying the rules that help keep people safe. Which is exactly what I'll do. My fellow scientists will learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the scheme. To the benefit of us all.
Read 4 tweets
30 Sep 20
As UKIM Bill makes its way to Lords, what could be done to improve it, so far as devolution is concerned?

Even accepting it’s probably going to pass, there is still considerable room for improvement. So: what changes might at least help lessen problems?

A few brief thoughts:
1) replace current proposals based on directly enforceable legal rights, with system of pre-legislative dialogue between UK authorities, ie to identify & discuss / address potential trade barriers. So: notify relevant proposals then find (preferably consensus) political solution
2) mutual recognition / non-discrimination are important principles & should provide reference point for that pre-legislative discussion – but only a reference point. They are not overriding objectives and they are should not be treated as (near) absolutes (as current Bill does)
Read 11 tweets
17 Sep 20
How to convey the recklessness of Johnson's tactics in relation to Northern Ireland?

Here are a few memories of my childhood growing up in working class West Belfast in the late 70s and 80s:
- us lying scared at the bottom of our parents' wardrobe, where they'd put us, covered in a few quilts, listening, terrified, to the rioting and gunshots right outside on our wee street
- walking home from the playground with my two younger sisters, being trailed with a rifle by a soldier standing behind a wall, hoping that he's pointing that gun at me and not one of them
Read 6 tweets
16 Sep 20
Those asking for more specific materials to help prove Tory lies about EU's supposedly new / extremist / absurd interpretation of Irish border Protocol...

Here is a series of short excerpts from my peer reviewed CMLRev analysis (written Nov 2019-Feb 2020, published June 2020):
1) excerpt pointing out how Johnson's lies about "no border in Irish sea" clash with clear reality of Johnson positively agreeing to extensive checks on movement of goods from GB to NI:
2) excerpt noting clear impact of checks on goods moving from GB to NI as agreed by Johnson; as well as need for checks on goods moving from NI to GB also agreed by Johnson; and explicitly anticipating problems this would inevitably cause for "UK Internal Market"
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep 20
I’ve been asked for another step-by-step explanation of what’s just happened in Westminster.

So voila: an update on Johnson’s plans to destabilise Ireland and isolate the UK…
1) As we know, Parliament is now considering whether to empower Johnson to override, directly & deliberately, two clear and precise legal obligations under the very Withdrawal Agreement he signed with the EU: controls on goods from NI to GB; and state aid rules in relation to NI
2) & as we know, those breaches of international law risk range of very serious consequences. Not least for NI: state aid regime is necessary to prevent unfair dumping of UK goods into EU and is therefore an integral part of avoiding a “hard border” across the island of Ireland
Read 16 tweets

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