What happened to the oven-ready deal?

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Did prime minister, Boris Johnson, mislead the EU and the British people?

Boris Johnson in part won the general election because he said he could ‘get Brexit done’. He promised an excellent Brexit deal, which he claimed was ‘oven-ready’.

Mr Johnson personally negotiated the deal with the EU, which included a political declaration promising close collaboration and a ‘level playing field’ to enable free and fair trade between the UK and the EU.

He told parliament on 20 December, just after winning the general election by a landslide, that the task now was to build “our future relationship with the EU.”

He quoted clause three of the political declaration that aims to establish, “the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership, rooted in our shared history and ideals, and standing together against threats to rights and values from without or within.”

Clause 3 of the political declaration

And he promised that, “this great project will not be a project of one government, or one party, but the British nation as a whole.”

The Withdrawal Agreement was passed by our parliament after Mr Johnson won the general election. It was signed by both the UK and the EU in good faith. But this week we learned the truth.

The EU now reports that the UK is backtracking on the in-depth commitments it had agreed. The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, announced at a conference in Brussels that almost no progress had been made in achieving the goals agreed in the so-called ‘oven-ready’ agreement.

The negotiations between the EU and the UK to achieve a new, long-term collaborative relationship from 1 January 2021 – after the expiry of the ‘transition period’ – are going nowhere. Instead of an “oven-ready deal”, we’re getting a cold, hard, no-deal Brexit that will devastate Britain, on top of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, did the prime minister mislead both the EU and the British people? Watch the 2-minute video below and decide.

Video produced by Jon Danzig

Monsieur Barnier said:

“We engaged in this negotiation on the basis of a joint political declaration that clearly sets out the terms of our future partnership. This declaration was negotiated with and approved by Prime Minister Johnson. It was approved by the leaders of the 27 member states at the European Council in October 2019. It has the backing of the European Parliament. It is – and it will remain for us – the only valid reference, the only relevant precedent in this negotiation, as it was agreed by both sides.”

And yet, he said: “Round after round, our British counterparts seek to distance themselves from this common basis.”

M Barnier gave four “concrete examples” of how the UK had “backtracked” on its commitment to the agreement.

The level playing field

Said M Barnier, “Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 77 of the political declaration, that ‘given our geographic proximity and economic interdependence’, our future agreement must encompass robust commitments to prevent distortions of trade and unfair competitive advantages. This is what, together, we chose to call the ‘level playing field’.

“In this paragraph, Prime Minister Johnson agreed to uphold the common high standards applicable in the Union and the UK at the end of the transition period in these areas: state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters.”

And yet. “We are today very far from this objective.”

Civil nuclear cooperation

Said M Barnier, “Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 66 of the political declaration on civil nuclear cooperation, to maintain our existing high standards of nuclear safety.”

And yet, “We are very far from this objective.”

Anti-money laundering

Said M Barnier, “Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 82 of the political declaration that our agreement should cover anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing.”

And yet, “We are very far from this objective.”

Future relationship based on areas of cooperation

Said M Barnier, “Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 118 of the political declaration, to base our future relationship on an overarching institutional framework, with links between specific areas of cooperation.”

And yet, “We are, once again, very far from this objective.”

M Barnier added, “The UK continues to backtrack on the commitments it has undertaken in the political declaration.” In conclusion, he said, “We cannot accept this backtracking on the political declaration. And we will request the full respect of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

It seems Britain has gone into these negotiations in the absence of respect or good faith.

What was the point of the UK signing an agreement covering future cooperation with the EU, that took years to achieve, that was democratically passed by our parliament, the European parliament and all the leaders of the EU27, if it wasn’t to be taken seriously?

Boris Johnson’s oven-ready Brexit now looks half-baked.

We are heading for a no-deal Brexit commencing 1 January, that both sides warn will be devastating, especially on top of the damage from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Did the prime minister make false promises both to the EU and to the British people?

Jon Danzig is an investigative journalist with special interests in health, human rights and the European Union. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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