Draft EU Withdrawal Agreement

Amid all the noise around the draft EU withdrawal agreement, it is worth pointing out that this deal at its heart aims to protect jobs and avoid a damaging ‘no deal’ scenario.
Leaving without a deal in place would have a massive impact on our lives – but only because there has been an inadequate level of planning and preparation for that eventuality.
Prior to becoming an MP, I amassed 30 years of experience in business - running, buying and selling companies.
I understand the concerns of industry. The UK Government could have done more to help businesses to identify the certification and regulatory requirements for companies moving from the jurisdiction of EU regulators to those in the UK.
This lack of preparation belied a level of wishful thinking that a deal could be done easily.
It has also served to box in MPs, who now face a decision between to some an unpalatable deal and no deal at all.
We all have to look very carefully at the detail of this agreement, but also be aware that events are moving quickly.
We have already seen several EU member states question the arrangements for the Northern Ireland backstop and fishing rights.
Due to relentless lobbying by Scottish MPs, the agreement ensures that the UK will become an independent coastal state ready to negotiate on access to waters and quotas in December 2020.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation can live with the deal as its stands.
However, the Northern Ireland protocol risks a situation where there is a different status for one part of the Union. That is very difficult for the UK to live with and equally difficult for the E.U. 27.
At present, the protocol does not solve issues around east-west trade, which could be calamitous for the Republic of Ireland.  It could also complicate EU free trade agreement negotiations.
If applied, it would fundamentally break the single market pillars allowing the UK access without free movement, financial contributions or full regulatory compliance.
Norway and Switzerland would be furious. Northern Ireland could potentially trade freely with the EU and the UK, which could leave the Republic at a disadvantage.
Will the EU hold onto us by the ankle? Not if the tensions are equally painful and considering the gnashing of teeth from Westminster, MPs are certainly tense.
Getting beyond the Withdrawal Agreement is essential to negotiate a meaningful future partnership, boosting jobs by giving us access to EU as well as growing global markets.
Leaving the EU customs union and single market, the CFP and the CAP will mean we are delivering on the 2017 General Election Brexit pledge.

Showing your hand too early loses your influence, I will continue to push the cause of Scottish fishing and the Union.

Colin Clark MP