The Exiting the European Union Committee has issued what it sees as the fifteen keys tests (listed below in full) against which any Brexit deal agreed by October 2018 must, it says, be judged.
The 'Brexit Committee' consists of 21 MPs, chaired by Labour MP Hilary Benn and, although its membership has a strong Brexit presence in the form of MPs like Peter Bone, Sir Christopher Chope and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the majority (14-7) backed remain in the referendum.
Normally the strength of a cross party select committee, such as this, is when it comes to a unanimous consensus, so by parliamentary convention the chairs of these committees work hard to gain that important unanimous consensus. A split view is seen as just a continuation of inter-party bickering.
Commenting on the report Hilary Benn, the chair of the committee, said:
"Having listened to the evidence, we today offer a series of tests against which any deal reached must be judged. I hope these will assist Parliament when it comes to its meaningful vote at the end of the Article 50 negotiations.
"Our tests set a high bar but they are based on the Prime Minister's vision for our future outside the EU and the statement by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis MP, that any new deal would be at least as good as what we have now. It is vital that UK businesses are able to continue to trade freely and sell services into our largest market after we leave, without additional costs or burdens or a hard border in Northern Ireland, and that we maintain close co-operation on defence, security, data and information sharing and consumer safety.
"And should negotiations on a 'deep and special partnership' not prove successful, we consider that EFTA/EEA membership remains an alternative which would have the advantage of continuity of access for UK services and could also be negotiated relatively quickly."
But the Brexiteers have rubbished it saying that without unanimity it is worthless.
The Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said:
"The High Priests of Remain have pushed through another report that seeks to overturn the referendum result by stealth.
"Select committee reports are only of any value when unanimous, divided ones have no effect."
The committee had previously issued another report that lacked unanimity (a 'majority report') calling for the current negotiating period and transition phase to be extended. In response the Brexiteers on the committee felt obliged to issue their own 'minority report' to counter it (see video below).
When looking at the 15 tests it does appear to be much more 'Remain' than 'Leave', hidden behind a smokescreen of claims that it is what the Leavers said they wanted. So you can understand the frustration of these on the Brexit side. The last test also appears to offer up the UK fishing industry as a bargaining chip (what is it about those who wish us to remain in the EU and the fishing industry? Don't they like fish?).
As far as I can see from these 15 Brexit tests the Remainers on the committee (as well as probably across the whole of Westminster amongst the politicians, commons and Lords alike, and mandarins) are absolutely determined to maintain the UK's current position as a vassal state of the EU to the maximum extent they can achieve.
The 15 Key Tests:
The Committee's tests by which it will judge the political declaration in October 2018 are as follows:
- The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must remain open with no physical infrastructure or any related checks and controls, as agreed in the Phase 1 Withdrawal Agreement.
- Crime and terrorism: arrangements must replicate current operational and practical cross-border cooperation; particularly continued involvement with Europol and the European Arrest Warrant and participation in the EU's information-sharing systems including SIS II.
- Institutional and decision-making frameworks must be identified to ensure that the UK is able fully to participate in foreign and security cooperation with the EU, to meet the challenges it shares with its EU27 neighbours.
- In respect of trade in goods, there must be no tariffs on trade between the UK and the EU 27.
- Trade in goods must continue to be conducted with no additional border or rules of origin checks that would delay the delivery of perishable or time-sensitive deliveries or impede the operation of cross-border supply chains.
- There must be no additional costs to businesses that trade in goods or services.
- UK providers of financial and broadcasting services must be able to continue to sell their products into EU markets as at present.
- UK providers of financial and other services should be able to retain automatically, or with minimal additional administration, their rights of establishment in the EU, and vice versa, where possible on the basis of mutual recognition of regulatory standard.
- There must be no impediments to the free flow of data between the UK and the EU.
- Any new immigration arrangements set up between the UK and the EU must not act as an impediment to the movement of workers providing services across borders or to the recognition of their qualifications and their right to practise.
- The UK must seek to maintain convergence with EU regulations in all relevant areas in order to maximise access to European markets.
- The UK's continued participation in the European Medicines Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the European Chemicals Agency and in other agencies where there is a benefit to continuing co-operation.
- The UK's continued participation in the Horizon 2020 programme, the Erasmus+ scheme, the Galileo project and in other space and research programmes in order to support the work of our world-class academic institutions and the importance of cultural and educational exchange between the UK and the EU 27.
- The UK's continued participation in all relevant air safety agreements and the Open Skies Agreement to ensure no disruption to the existing level of direct flights.
- The UK Government must ensure maximum access to European markets while agreeing reciprocal access to waters and a fairer allocation of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry.