Open Letter to Lead Brexit Negotiators

Stephen Barclay MP and Geoffrey Cox QC MP

Also available as a PDF

Dear Sirs,

My name is Julian Glassford and I am a British multi-disciplinary researcher, and occasional political commentator, originally trained in economics and the social sciences. I am also one of those few who foretold of the Brexit linked crises that are now unfolding – around the time of the publication of the Phase 1 UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement report in 2017; alas, none of the news platforms I approached with the referenced (demonstrably) prophetic cautionary analysis could be persuaded to publish back then – and here we are now, at this interminable impasse, perhaps as a (partial) consequence.

I write today not to look back but to look forward, however. There is a way out: a compromise we can strike with the EU, and one that stands a chance of passing both UK and EU parliaments. That is, if we demonstrate a little creative flexibility, and really “stay the course” as we reach the final furlong.

I put it to you that the surest way to turn things around is to swiftly assume the following unwaveringly firm negotiating position if, as seems likely, the Prime Minister’s current draft deal does not gain parliamentary approval and is not ratified. This does rest on calling the EU’s bluff regarding reported immovability on the backstop but is achievable, in my humble estimation, and also the most politically and economically viable and sustainable posture to adopt, in the present circumstances:

HM Government should insist that, in withdrawing from the EU treaties, the United Kingdom shall maintain the right to quit the ‘single customs territory’ (Irish backstop) on a unilateral basis, albeit subject to a reasonable notice period. This provision should be guaranteed and binding on the EU at law, e.g. stipulated in the final draft Withdrawal Agreement or, if not, then in a concomitant co-signed text of comparable legal standing. It should entail a minimum notice period of not more than two years, which would essentially give it equivalence to the right the UK otherwise enjoys to withdraw from the customs union under Article 50.

Suffice to say, it is widely felt that the government cannot legitimately surrender the said right to withdraw under Article 50 only to sign up to a pact that may see the country locked into (subservient) EU institutional quasi-membership, or material alignment, for any longer than is the case under existing arrangements, and never mind indefinitely.

Your EU27 counterparts – if perhaps not certain intransigent bigwigs in Brussels – should by now fully appreciate why the above-indicated accommodation must surely be considered necessary. As such, I expect you will be able to persuade (a qualified majority of) your European colleagues to agree to it, in the interests of ensuring that we leave in an orderly fashion i.e. with a deal – and one that truly honours the single greatest democratic mandate in British history.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Yours sincerely,

Julian A. Gordon Glassford