The European Union's recent decision to sue the United Kingdom in the European Court of Justice over the UK Internal Market Bill has once again exposed the failures of the Withdrawal Agreement. While the Agreement is in place, the UK cannot be free from the EU's grip, argues Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out.

The past month has seen the UK Internal Market Bill (the Bill) which is currently going through Parliament, dominate the Brexit landscape. This is a fact which is hardly surprising, as it's the first example of the UK Government finally showing any form of major resistance to the EU and the dire problems contained within the Withdrawal Agreement, which was rushed through Parliament at the end of last year. By negating parts of the Withdrawal Agreement which would give the EU the right to disrupt the flow of food and other goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Bill is a vital piece of legislation. If passed and implemented, by contravening the Withdrawal Agreement, the Bill technically breaks International Law. However, it is an action which any sensible Government would take. The UK cannot and must not be broken up by the EU, regardless of their complaints. Otherwise what is the point of being an independent sovereign nation?

However, the European Union has stood behind its threat to begin legal proceedings in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the United Kingdom. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has sent a formal 'letter of notice' to the Government, once again exposing a fatal flaw in the Withdrawal Agreement. The fact is – the ECJ will still have a hold over the UK for decades to come – as long as the Withdrawal Agreement remains unchanged.

This dispute over the Bill, while fierce, appears to be a largely cosmetic conflict between the UK and the EU. This latest case joins 32 other cases against the UK which are currently waiting to receive attention from the ECJ, so it's hardly an issue of gigantic significance. Nonetheless, those still advocating for Remaining inside the EU – or simply willing to accept foreign rule over us after the end of the Transition Period – have highlighted this court case to embarrass our Government, suggesting this should be a sign of mistrust of the UK Government around the world. They are quietly ignoring the nearly 800 cases already logged to the ECJ this year, with an average of 29 cases per EU Member State. But why let the reality ruin a good story?

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While this court case, if it ever gets to court, is clearly a tool of political negotiation by the EU, as I have pointed out above, it raises the very real problem of this Government's approach to these negotiations. We have already sold ourselves down the river by signing up to the faulty Withdrawal Agreement. So, unless the UK achieves a total victory in trade discussions – something which does not appear likely while Michel Barnier is anywhere near the talks – then we will forever be tied into the commitments made within the Withdrawal Agreement. These commitments include allowing the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK – as set out in Article 67 among other places in the same document – something which is fundamentally incompatible with the full implementation of Brexit and the United Kingdom being an independent sovereign nation.

Even in a best-case scenario, if the Government manages to get a good Trade Deal with the EU which makes the Northern Ireland Protocol redundant and ensures we 'take back control' of our waters, while accepting minimal EU demands on State Aid, this would not remove the powers which still tie us into the EU, contained within the flawed Withdrawal Agreement – a legally-binding document which remains in force regardless of how trade discussions go. Therefore, decisions made in the UK would continue to be vulnerable to challenge by the EU in the ECJ and the legitimacy of UK sovereignty called into question.

If the Government is not successful in breaking down the EU's red lines and concessions are made by the UK, then this problem could get even worse. In a scenario where the UK is committed to the so-called 'Level Playing Field', the Government would effectively, once again, be signing away control of this country to Brussels. Such a decision would only build on the Withdrawal Agreement and ensure the UK is completely limited in the actions it can take outside of the EU.

As a result, there is only one clear path forward for the UK Government. A total repeal of the Withdrawal Agreement, which would remove any question of continued EU jurisdiction over the UK. It is clear no trade deal will be possible which can achieve this goal. The petty actions by the EU over the UK Internal Market Bill show the EU cannot be trusted to act in good faith. If we are to protect ourselves and our sovereignty we must go further and repeal the Withdrawal Agreement and get Britain out of the EU entirely to trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation Terms.

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