We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am so glad that my hon. Friend has made that point, because I was about to make it myself and now will not have to. I am as much against the backstop as I am against the article 4 arrangements, for reasons that both of us agree on.
We have to grapple with the fact that article 4 will apply across all the EU treaties, laws and legal positions adopted by the ECJ over recent years. It is inconceivable that the House would hollow itself out in such a manner as to preclude itself from being able to control such things. I am Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, and we get these regulations and directives week in, week out. We received one last week that intends to turn the veto procedure—or unanimity rule—over the making of national tax policy into qualified majority voting. If people really think that that is a minor matter, let them think again what effect it would have on their constituents.
Under article 4, our country would be reduced, as I said in my intervention on the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to an undemocratic subjugation to the decisions of 27 other member states. In fact, not only that, but as I said, it would put us at the mercy of our competitors. In addition, the article would have the same effect with regard to the question of state aid during the backstop.
I do not think that the businesses that argued so strongly for this transitional period had any idea that this would be the consequence of the withdrawal agreement. That agreement emerged from the Chequers deal, which itself was an overturning of the withdrawal Act that we passed in June 2018 and had been planned long before that Act was given Royal Assent, without any reference to the Cabinet and in defiance of collective Cabinet responsibility.
If we do not control these laws, who will? It will be the 27 member states. In an important book, “Berlin Rules”, by our former ambassador to Germany, Sir Paul Lever, he says that before decisions are taken by European member states, or indeed by the Council of Ministers, they are cleared with Germany. He also says that it is a German Europe. He does not mince his words.