There is no such thing as ‘No Deal’

On March 13th, if the meaningful vote on the deal fails again in spite of Geoffrey Cox’s legal acrobatics, there will be an MP vote on something that doesn’t actually exist: the so called ‘no deal’ exit.

It doesn’t exist because even what people call ‘no deal’ involves some negotiated deals. They may be smaller, bilateral, sector specific deals, often termed ‘standstill’ agreements, but are nevertheless important.

As an MEP I have already voted for four such mini deals – an arrangement for British car certifications to continue under ‘no deal’, permission for the EU to sell us their goods as a third country (!), an aviation deal to allow flights to continue to fly and a road haulage deal to allow trucks to continue to roll. The Strasbourg European Parliament next week will see hours of voting on more ‘no deal’ measures under (emergency) ‘simplified procedure’.

The EU’s chart of recommended ‘no deal’ measures runs from reciprocal fishing rights and shipping inspections to nuclear energy to continuing the Northern Ireland PEACE and Erasmus Plus student programmes. The Mayor of Calais is actually offended the U.K. thinks there will be any holdups.

In the UK meanwhile the port of Dover says it is ‘prepared’ for ‘no deal’. Eurotunnel say “with or without a deal, traffic flow through the Tunnel will be maintained”. The City of London is ready too – Lord Mayor Mr Estlin says Brexit has been a “pain in the backside” but “businesses have prepared already”.

The Bank of England and the European Securities and Markets Authority have signed baffling Memorandums of Understanding on things like the Central Securities Depository, and EU regulators continue to recognise U.K. clearing houses.

Brexit Minister Chris Heaton Harris lists what is ready from citizens’ rights, such as the welcome Spanish deal for U.K. residents, to chemicals to food labelling to holidays to archives. BMW is moving its summer shutdown to April and Toyota stockpiling parts. The U.K. car industry managed to survive 211 days over 20 years of ‘Operation Stack’ where lorries couldn’t get to/from Europe.

There is even an outbreak of naughty bilateral deals behind the EU’s back such as Italy’s bid to stabilise financial services and trade.

All of this is being done by professionals with no sign of the hysterics of extreme politicised Remainers in the U.K. The relentless ‘no deal’ silly stories from the BBC are a case in point, from food shortages being like “walking off a cliff in the dark without a torch” (we do actually import food from outside the EU) and Eurostar’s ‘one mile queues’, when passport checks exist now.

There is further confusion over what the deal in ‘no deal’ is. It isn’t a ‘no trade deal’ or ‘a no Future Relationship deal’ – we haven’t even started negotiating those yet. It is a ‘no Withdrawal Agreement deal’.

Let’s be clear. Up until now we have been dancing to the EU’s tune. The Withdrawal Agreement is specified under EU law – Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – and went wrong from the start. Without one, all the EU treaties stop applying as of 29th March.

But trade deals are done under the global trade rules of the 164 member World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the U.K. helped establish.

The WTO gives us a way out of the EU under Article XXIV/24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which preceded it.  A GATT Article 24 compliant standstill trading arrangement forms one of the three ‘safety nets’ within the Malthouse Compromise Plan B, along with continuing to offer Plan A (a changed WA deal) and seeking to purchase the Implementation Period (IP) via funding.

GATT Article 24 means the EU and U.K. agree a very basic free trade agreement (FTA) that allows us to keep tariffs at zero whilst negotiating a comprehensive U.K.-wide Free Trade Agreement, the sort of ‘SuperCanada’ FTA I have long advocated (bigger, better and wider than the EU-Canada CETA deal), and which the EU has offered to us three times starting a year ago (7th March).

Article 24 is just a bridge – an alternative transition. It only needs literally a one page Free Trade Agreement to be signed. The neutral Cambridge law expert Dr Lorand Bartels has helpfully written one.

This protects you from discrimination claims by other WTO members. Even if there were legal challenges, these would take at least two years, and the FTA would in place before any verdict was reached.

Yes it will need other small deals such as interim regulatory recognition of goods and services, but the core remains Article 24. Its feasibility has been confirmed to me by top WTO and EU trade experts.

Article 24 also takes away the hassle of businesses having to calculate nearly 20,000 tariffs. Tariff rates are very complex and vary enormously even within one category such as lamb meat.

OK so businesses will have to fill in customs declaration forms, as they do for non-EU suppliers, but no tariffs mean the processes are simple. HMRC have helpfully enacted Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for the 145,000 VAT-registered businesses who trade with EU (only 7{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of U.K. businesses and 12{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} U.K. economy do) to remove need for full customs declarations at Borders and import duty payments.

The objection that the EU would refuse to agree Article 24 if the WA deal fails because of a lack of goodwill is patently absurd. The Eurozone is again implementing emergency measures as it falls into serious recession, whilst it would save the EU £13 billion in tariffs with their largest single customer. The U.K. would agree to pay a contribution too as per Malthouse (for 2019 budget, maybe 2020 too, but not the £39 billion).

The objection it does not address ‘non tariff barriers’ is equally silly. It’s not its job – the comprehensive FTA will address non tariff barriers, services and the whole shooting match.

So my earnest request to Government is this: if the favoured deal is not passed on 12th March, then please let’s have a meaningful vote on something that does exist and is deliverable.

Let’s amend the so called ‘no deal’ vote on 13th March to incorporate GATT Article 24, and Plan B of Malthouse, as this is a sensible alternative basic deal. Also, if necessary, let’s allow a strictly temporary extension of Article 50 of three months to 29th June, appealing to those who would favour an extension in a possible third vote. This extension will not be to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, but to prepare to enact Article 24 and its happy band of mini deals.

With only an 8 MP majority for the Spelman amendment, just 5 MPs need persuading.

It might just pass.

David Campbell Bannerman MEP
Conservative MEP for the East England and Joint UK Spokesman on the International Trade Committee.

You can also read David’s article above, as it appears online at

David Campbell Bannerman meets David Davis I Carry On Brussels: Inside the EU I Channel 4

Carry On Brussels: Inside the EU


“Stepping inside the curious world of the Brussels bubble, this three-part series follows an eclectic group of MEPs from across the UK’s political spectrum, as they buckle up for the ride of their lives on the Brexit roller coaster. Focusing on the personal challenges over the politics, the series offers unrivalled access to the inner workings of the European Parliament at one of the most historically significant times of its existence. Filmed over a year, the series charts the battles and the brawls, the tears, tantrums and tactics of some of Britain’s most maligned and misunderstood public servants in these turbulent times.”

The Technological Solution to the Irish Border Customs issue

The supposed “problem” of the post-Brexit border between the UK and Ireland has become a much-debated topic. It is alleged that, unless the UK (or at least Northern Ireland) remains within the EU customs union or, as sometimes claimed, inside the single market, the resulting bureaucracy will lead to massive tailbacks at the UK/Irish border while paperwork is checked, and that this will lead to a breakdown of the better community relations of recent years and even a return to terrorism.

This paper explains why these assumptions are not only unfounded, but grossly exaggerated. It explains the issues involved, sets out some practical measures which have the endorsement of leading authorities in the field and outlines a proposal for how UK/Irish trade could be conducted after Brexit to achieve a frictionless border.

After the PM’s speech on the EU, here are the facts not the myths about withdrawal

Why We Can Leave: The Top Ten EU Myths About Withdrawal Exposed

An extract from David Campbell Bannerman’s document “The Ultimate Plan B: A Positive Vision of an independent  Britain outside The European Union.”  Read more and download a copy here, or request a printed copy via the contact page.


Myth 1: “Britain will lose three million jobs as a consequence of leaving the EU”.

The Reality:

If Britain leaves the EU it will put in place of its EU membership a UK/EU Free Trade Agreement to preserve the benefits of trade with the EU. The EU sells much more to us than we sell to them: in 2009, the UK’s trade deficit in manufactured goods with the EU was £34.9 billion. So, in theory, if there was the very worst case of a trade war and no trade at all with the EU, the UK would lose the three million jobs which depend on trade with the EU (10{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of all UK jobs), whilst the EU would lose some four million jobs7. This simply won’t happen, as the EU would not want to lose their biggest customer. Even the Lisbon Treaty requires the EU to make a trade agreement with a nation that leaves the EU (under Article 50), and the EU already has these trade agreements with many of the world’s nations including Switzerland and Norway.

Myth 2: “Britain will be excluded from trade with the EU by tariff barriers.”

The Reality:

The world has changed considerably since the UK joined in 1973. The EU has free trade agreements in place with 53 countries to overcome such tariffs and the UK/EU trade agreement would have no such tariffs, particularly if it merely replicated current EU membership arrangements. Indeed, the EU is very keen on free trade agreements for it is negotiating a further 74 such agreements and is seeking to open negotiations with an additional 12 countries. The EU now exempts services and many goods from duties anyway. This meant that in 2009 the UK charged an average customs duty rate of only 1.76{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} on non-EU imports. This is so low that it makes the EU Common Market, a customs union with tariff walls, pretty much redundant.

Myth 3: “Britain cannot survive economically outside the EU in a world of trading blocs.”

The Reality:

Major economies such as Japan (the world’s third largest) are not in trading blocs, but are very successful with international trade and global investment. Nor is the EU the place where most economic growth is taking place: the EU’s share of world’s GDP is forecast to decline to 15{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} in 2020, down from 36{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} in 1980. The EU is now more of a straightjacket than a life support machine to Britain. The EU already has Free Trade Agreements with individual countries across the world, regardless of such trading blocs. Countries such as Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU, yet they export far more per capita to the EU than the UK does. This suggests membership of the EU is not required for healthy trading relationships to exist between independent nation states and the EU. In addition, Britain’s best trading relationships are generally not with the EU but outside it – such as with the USA and Switzerland. The think tank Global Britain found that some 47{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} percent of UK exports go to the EU compared with 63{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} for Germany and 64{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} for France. However, 18{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of British exports go to the US whereas for Germany, it is only 7{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4}. Indeed, the largest investor in the UK is not even an EU country – it is the USA. Furthermore, the latest UKTI Report ‘Inward Investment Report 2010/11’ has found that the three top countries investing in the UK in terms of the numbers of projects are the non-EU countries of the USA, Japan and India. Moreover, the USA is the top destination for UK foreign investment. In addition, Britain’s exports to non-EU countries are surging ahead as these economies show high growth levels whilst the EU has been relatively sluggish.

Myth 4: “The EU is moving towards the UK’s position on cutting regulations and bureaucracy.”

The Reality:

EU directives and regulations are subject to a ‘rachet’ effect – once they are in place they are highly unlikely to be reformed or repealed. Less than 10{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of Britain’s GDP represents trade with the EU yet Brussels regulations afflict 100{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of the UK economy; an economy which is the world’s sixth largest. More importantly, 80{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of Britain’s GDP is generated within the UK, such as Londoners buying Scottish whisky, so at least 80{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} (90{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} if trade to the Rest of the World is included) need not be subject to EU laws once the UK is free again. In 2006, former Competition Commissioner Verheugen estimated that EU over-regulation alone costs some €600 billion per annum across the whole EU. In 2010, Mats Persson of the Open Europe think tank stated EU regulation has cost Britain £124 billion since 1998. This figure was based on the UK Government’s official Impact Assessments of the cost to the UK of various EU Directives and Regulations. Independent studies have put the net cost of the EU membership and its attendant 100,000 plus Directives and Regulations at between 4{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} and 10{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of the UK’s GDP. A Treasury report in 2005 had four categories of EU costs which altogether came to 28{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of Britain’s GDP. Eliminating any possibility of any overlap between the Treasury’s categories, the think tank Global Britain conservatively estimated that the likely EU cost was around 7{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of UK GDP or £98 billion at 2009 prices. In 2009, Matthew Elliot of the TaxPayers’ Alliance estimated that EU membership is actually costing Britain £118 billion a year. Whilst red tape savings are not direct cash savings, deregulation would result in a true “bonfire of regulations” that could fund either sizeable tax cuts or additional public spending, or a combination of the two.

Myth 5: “If we do leave, Britain will still have to pay billions to the EU and implement all its regulations but without any say in them.”

The Reality:

The UK has very little ‘say’ within the EU, and would have far more leverage outside the EU as an independent sovereign nation and the world’s 6th largest economy. The UK currently has only 8.4{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of voting power ‘say’ in the EU, and the Lisbon Treaty ensured the loss of Britain’s veto in many more policy areas. Britain’s 72 MEPs are a minority within the 736 in the European Parliament (worsening to 73 out of 751 owing to Lisbon changes). The UK is increasingly losing influence within the EU and further EU enlargement, as with Turkey’s 79 million citizens, would water it down further. As for continuing EU contributions by an independent Britain, the Swiss and Norwegian examples show the UK would achieve substantial net savings. Official Swiss Government figures conclude that through their trade agreements with the EU, the Swiss pay the EU just under 600 million Swiss Francs a year but enjoy virtually free access to the EU market. The Swiss have estimated that full EU membership would cost Switzerland net payments of 3.4 billion Swiss francs a year. Norway only had to make a few changes to its laws in order to make its products eligible for the European Union marketplace. In 2009, the Norwegian Mission to the EU estimated that Norway’s total financial contribution linked to their EEA (European Economic Area) agreement is some 340 million Euros per year of which some 110 million Euros are contributions related to the participation in various EU programmes. However, this is a fraction of the gross annual cost that Britain must pay for EU membership which is now £18.5 billion, or £50 million a day.

Myth 6: “The EU has a positive impact on the British economy.”

The Reality:

British industries such as fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have already been devastated by Britain’s membership of the EU. EU membership costs the UK billions of pounds and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to unnecessary and excessive red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions, inflated consumer prices and other associated costs. Britain will lose more jobs when such Directives as the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive come into effect. This is already causing hedge fund and private equity markets to migrate elsewhere, doing substantial harm to financial services, responsible for 12{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of the British economy and 15{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4} of income tax receipts.

Myth 7: “The EU has brought Peace to the European Continent”

The Reality:

Even now, the EU is only 27 nations out of the 47 European nations listed as national members of the Council of Europe. The forerunner of the EU, the Common Market, didn’t even come into existence until 1958, and then only with 6 nations, and yet there was no war between European countries from 1945 to 1956 (Hungarian Revolution). Whilst peaceful international cooperation is welcomed at all levels, to say the EU is the sole guarantor of peace is an extreme exaggeration that is dishonest in its application. It is NATO, founded in 1949 and dominated by the USA, and not the EU, that has actually kept the peace in Europe, together with parliamentary democracy. Both of these are being undermined by the EU. The former German President Herzog wrote a few years ago that “the question has to be raised of whether Germany can still unreservedly be called a parliamentary democracy.” This was owing to the number of German laws emanating from the EU – which he assessed at some 84{6c073e6ddc991e32b987c2976a0494c1ef7e7c4976e02d56946b9937f4a8f0f4}. One of the major tests of the EU’s ability to keep the peace in Europe was the break up of Yugoslavia. It was the EU’s interference that helped trigger a major civil war and its dithering that contributed to the deaths of some 100,000 people. It was only decisive action by US/NATO forces that stopped the violence, and peace was established by the US-brokered Dayton Agreement.

Myth 8: “Britain will lose vital Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a Consequence of Leaving the EU.”

The Reality:

In their 2010 survey on the UK’s attractiveness to foreign investors, Ernst and Young found Britain remained the number one FDI destination in Europe owing largely to the City of London and the UK’s close corporate relationship with the US. EU membership was not mentioned at all in their table of key investment factors, which were (in order of importance): UK culture and values and the English language; telecommunications infrastructure; quality of life; stable social environment, and transport and logistics infrastructure. In any case, open access to the EU market would continue through a Free Trade Agreement in the manner of Switzerland and Norway whilst the UK would gain from higher growth, less regulation, more public spending and/or lower taxes and more suitable trade deals.

Myth 9: “Britain will lose all influence in the World by being outside the EU.”

The Reality:

Britain has a substantial ‘portfolio of power’ in its own right, which includes membership of the G20 and G8 Nations, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (one of only five members) and seats on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board of Governors and World Trade Organisation (WTO). The UK also lies at the heart of the Commonwealth of 54 nations. Moreover, London is the financial capital of the world and Britain has the sixth largest economy. Last but not least, the UK is in the top ten manufacturing nations of the world. Far from increasing British influence in the world, the EU is undermining UK influence. The EU is demanding there is a single voice for the EU in the United Nations and in the IMF, has made the British economy and City of London less competitive through overregulation, and negotiates more protectionist and less effective trade deals on behalf of the UK. The new European External Action Service (EEAS) and its EU ‘Foreign Minister’ Baroness Ashton are undermining national diplomatic representation and the furtherance of British political and commercial interests through British embassies, which are being closed or downsized around the world. Foreign Office support for the BBC’s World Service is being eliminated also. EU diplomats owe their allegiance to common EU interests and not British ones. Indeed EU diplomats are now claiming to have the right to speak for Britain on key issues such as security and defence – the EU Ambassador to the US Joao Vale de Almedia made such a claim in 2010. The Commonwealth is increasingly being discriminated against by the EU policy on visas, so that non-EU Commonwealth citizens face having to obtain visas whilst citizens of even new EU entrants have automatic entry, and bonds with Britain are being lost.

Myth 10: “Legally, Britain cannot leave the EU.”

The Reality:

Technically, Britain could leave the EU in a single day. Legislatively, this would be achieved simply by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and its attendant Amendment Acts through a single clause Bill passing through Westminster. If the British people voted to leave in an In/Out Referendum or by voting in a party with EU withdrawal in its manifesto, Parliament would have to respect the will of the British people and there would be no justification for delay or obstruction in either House. However, the process of setting up a replacement UK/EU Free Trade Agreement will take longer, though there would be no need for time-consuming negotiation of tariff reductions if the UK/EU Free Trade Agreement merely replicated existing EU trade arrangements. In addition, even the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50 enshrines the right of Member States to leave the Union, albeit in an unattractive manner. The same article requires the EU to seek a trade agreement with a member which leaves. Greenland established a precedent for a sovereign nation by leaving the EEC in 1985, and is prospering well outside of it. With Westminster still sovereign (for the moment), it is the British Parliament who will decide how and when Britain leaves the EU. As the European Commission Treaties Office Database shows, an independent Britain will then be able to negotiate around many different types of EU association. Whilst France is a full EU member and Denmark is a full member with opt outs, Norway has an EU internal market association. On the other hand, Turkey has an EU Customs Union arrangement, while Switzerland has signed a free trade agreement. In contrast, Georgia has concluded a partnership and co-operation agreement, and Japan enjoys a ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status.

David Campbell Bannerman (DCB) Member of the European Parliament for the Eastern Region


As a Conservative MEP I believe my role is:

To highlight, challenge and vote against bad and damaging EU legislation and EU initiatives of detriment to the United Kingdom…

To promote what I and my party believes in, particularly our policies, through public speaking and media opportunities.

To represent my constituents to the best of my ability in the European Parliament…