Director of Get Britain Out, Jayne Adye, highlights the EU's political games and the hypocrisy in their Customs rules to make Brexit more difficult

Over the last 4 years one of the more prominent sticking points during the Brexit negotiations since the United Kingdom voted to Leave the European Union, has been the issue of borders checks for importing and exporting goods from the UK to the EU. This has had implications – especially over the sensitive and historic Irish and Northern Irish border issue. Now, after Brexit and the UK leaving the EU – as Ireland is still part of the EU there is a potential problem as neither country has had to trade as independent customs territories previously.

However, and conveniently – whenever the EU has proclaimed 'extraordinary circumstances' owing to the COVID-19 Pandemic, they have made very flexible changes to their rules to ensure trade continues flowing in and out of the Union's customs territory. Only last week the EU enshrined into law temporary flexibility measures to ensure their international trade remains as seamless and fluid as possible. These measures included the extension of import and export certificates and licenses on all forms of road, rail and marine trade, generously relaxing the rules on shipping ports to allow non-EU imports more concessions while trading under these extraordinary circumstances.

This is total hypocrisy from Brussels.

The EU seems to desperately want the UK to 'remain' as close a Member State as possible. After all, the UK has been the 2nd largest NET contributor to the EU's budget and we have had the largest trading deficit within the Union, meaning most of the other EU 27 Member States have been making a hefty profit from the UK's membership. However, this might all change. Many Brits are extremely angry with the EU's intransigence during the negotiations so far and are determined to stop buying EU products after Brexit concludes ? after all, Global Britain will have a global market to choose from in the future!

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Attempts to put complicated Customs checks and complexities in place at our border with the EU on the island of Ireland, and to try and pressure exporters to produce complicated Customs documents at British ports ? when most of this can be done on-line these days ? as well as threats of long queues (which with advance planning can be avoided), are all attempts to lock the UK into a closer relationship with the Customs Union.

By trying to make this seem extremely complicated during the final stages of the negotiations is more 'Project Fear'! In an attempt to extend the Transition Period by another one or two years – as the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier has suggested recently in response to a letter from some prominent Remainers including leaders of the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, this would mean the UK would still be paying into the Brussels' budget and cost the UK as a whole to the tune of £378 billion should the Transition Period be extended by 1 year. In addition, continuing to effectively being part of the EU, but without having any say in future laws which we would have to adhere to, we would be unable to sign our own independent trade deals with the rest of the world outside the European Union ? i.e. No Global Britain for years to come!

When one of the largest economic contributors to the entire EU decides to Leave – with no prior precedent set on how to do so, apart from Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty making it extremely difficult to do so, throwing the entire Continent into political disarray ? this would surely count as 'extraordinary circumstances'.

Apart from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, managing to scrap the dreaded Northern Ireland 'Backstop' embedded within former-Prime Minister Theresa May's 'surrender Treaty', not much has changed.  Meanwhile, the vote by the Assembly in Northern Ireland this week, requesting an extension to the Transition Period ? will make little difference to what happens during these final stages of the negotiations, due to the large Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

There are now likely to be some border checks for trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain expected by Brussels after the Transition Period. However, the majority of these will be done online. We already know the EU has been able to make concessions for non-EU trade partners in the past. Switzerland and Norway already benefit from frictionless trade, but also some of the Balkan States – such as Serbia and Montenegro benefit from flexibility regarding customs checks through so-called 'pre-accession arrangements'. The UK will still be a close trading partner with the EU – more so than Serbia, however – as the EU has now set a precedent for 'extraordinary circumstances'. Surely Brussels must offer similar flexibility to trading partners outside the Customs Union – such as with the United Kingdom at the end of Brexit.

The EU's tactics so far have been purely political, in an attempt to suffocate the UK into accepting a bad Deal – or running back begging them to return. Bad negotiations in the past with both former Prime Ministers, David Cameron and Theresa May ? both serious 'Remainers' at heart – have led to this current intransigent attitude by the EU. We must Get Britain Out of the Transition Period on time so we can forge new trade deals for our global future in the wider world, while not being shackled to the EU. If the EU continues to refuse to negotiate fairly, then World Trade Organization terms will be a good and viable option for the UK to Leave the EU ? just as we currently trade with the rest of the world – and this might just be the right time for us to do so as the world recovers from the Pandemic.

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