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Analysis

6 more porkies and 6 more fishy promises from Johnson

by Hugo Dixon | 23.10.2019

In a vain attempt to ram through his deal, the Prime Minister yesterday told MPs another pack of untruths and made yet more fishy promises. 

2 falsehoods on workers’ rights

Boris Johnson is trying to persuade Labour MPs to back his deal by saying he cares for workers’ rights. Now that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been published, he is misrepresenting it.

  • Johnson told MPs “there can be no regression” from the rights workers currently enjoy. This is untrue. If the government wishes to pass legislation that would weaken rights, the relevant minister must say they are “unable to make a statement of non-regression.” Telling MPs that workers are going to lose their rights is very different from guaranteeing that they won’t. (See Schedule 5A, Part 1, Clause (1)(b)).
  • The Prime Minister added: “If the EU decides that it wishes to introduce new legislation on social protection… there will be an amendable motion by which the government will give parliamentary time for the implementation of that measure.” False again. If the government doesn’t want to copy new EU rights, it must merely make parliamentary time for MPs to say they approve. The motion isn’t amendable – and so MPs won’t be given time to force the government to follow suit. (Schedule 5A, Part 2, Clause 5(a)).

4 new Northern Ireland porkies

The Prime Minister continues to mislead Parliament about how he has agreed that Northern Ireland (NI) should become a quasi-colony – following EU regulations without a vote on them and with checks in the Irish Sea.

  • He said: “The salient feature of these arrangements is that they evaporate. They disintegrate. They vanish, unless a majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly elects to keep them.” He added: “The default position is alignment with the UK unless… there is a majority vote in the Assembly against that alignment.” This is false. The default position is alignment with the EU – and that only changes if a majority of the NI Assembly votes otherwise. If the Assembly doesn’t meet, which has been the case for most of the past three years, there won’t even be a vote. (See Article 18, para 5 of the revised Irish protocol).
  • Johnson claimed: “There are no checks GB-NI. There will be some light touch measures to ensure there is no illegal trade in endangered animal species and banned firearms”. That provoked laughter. The Brexit Secretary admitted the previous day that paperwork would be required for sending goods from Great Britain to NI. What’s more, the government’s own impact assessment says: “Goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be required to complete both import declarations and Entry Summary (ENS) Declarations because the UK will be applying the EU’s UCC [Union Custom Code] in Northern Ireland. This will result in additional administrative costs to businesses.” (See para 241.)
  • The Prime Minister added that there was “absolutely no provision for the EU to have a say” on whether NI leaves these arrangements. That’s also wrong. The revised NI protocol says: “Any subsequent agreement between the Union and the United Kingdom shall indicate the parts of this Protocol which it supersedes.” So NI may leave parts of these arrangements if the EU agrees – and that means there is provision for it to have a say. (See Article 13 (8)).
  • He also claimed his deal “ensures that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and benefits immediately from any UK trade deals”. But he left out a crucial passage to the effect that NI can only benefit from trade deals with third countries “provided that those agreements do not prejudice the application of this Protocol.”  Some deals Johnson might cut – such as importing chlorine-washed chicken from America – would contravene EU regulations. So NI wouldn’t be able to “benefit” from those. (See Article 4).

6 fishy promises

The Prime Minister isn’t just telling porkies. He’s also making fishy promises. Here is yesterday’s crop.

  • Johnson told MPs: “I can confirm that we will take back 100% control of the spectacular marine wealth of this country”. How can he square this with the political declaration sketching out our future relationship with the EU that he signed last week? This says the UK and EU should try to “establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares” by next July 1 (paras 73 and 74).
  • He promised “there will be no crashing out [at the end of next year], because we will negotiate a great new friendship and partnership within the timescale.” How can he guarantee that? Michel Barnier, who will be in charge of the EU side of the negotiations, yesterday said that talks could take “two, three or more years”.
  • Johnson guaranteed “no problems at the channel ports and no problems on Kent’s roads”. Again, how can he give that assurance? If we crash out next year, it will be worthless.
  • The Prime Minister said he had “every hope that the entire 3.4 million [EU citizens who live in the UK] will have registered by the time of the deadline.” Maybe the vast majority will have. But the “entire” group? We may be heading for a Windrush-style scandal where some EU citizens who have lived here legally for years are subjected to the Home Office’s infamous hostile environment for migrants.
  • He gave a “commitment” to reinforce environmental standards, in response to a question over whether there would be a “clear non-regression clause, as we have on workers’ rights”. Even if he does, a commitment that copies the wording on workers’ rights won’t be worth much.
  • Johnson also gave an “assurance” that consumer protection will be written into the Bill. Again, if it’s like the language on workers’ rights, that will be cold comfort..

Sadly, the Prime Minister has a habit of making misleading statements. On Saturday, in a desperate attempt to avoid asking the EU for extra time, he told three other porkies about Northern Ireland and made implausible promises about workers’ rights and a future trade deal. (Read our exposure of those here).

Perhaps Johnson doesn’t understand what he has signed up to, in which case he will himself benefit from taking more time. Or perhaps he knows exactly what he has agreed, in which cases he is trying to hoodwink MPs. Either way, the longer the scrutiny goes on, the more his deal will be shown to be rotten to the core.

Edited by James Earley

Categories: Brexit Negotiations

6 Responses to “6 more porkies and 6 more fishy promises from Johnson”

  • Anyone who accepts any “assurance” from Mr Johnson, or any member of his Cabinet for that matter, is either incredibly gullible, or not in possession of all their faculties.

  • Johnson either doesn’t understand what he is doing, which is easily believable or, as is much more likely, he is telling barefaced lies. Let’s not mince our words with euphemisms like “porkies” – the man is, both in his personal and professional life, a thoroughly corrupt, barefaced liar.

  • As a military pilot flying reconnaissance aircraft, I spent the 80’s protecting the UK waters from trawlers entering our seas, be them Icelandic, Spanish or Russian.
    It was a colossal task, requiring an equally large amount of resources. The RAF had three squadrons in Scotland and one in Cornwall. Each squadron consisted of around eight highly trained crews that comprised of 11 people. Each base had perhaps 2000 personnel supporting the operations.

    The end of both the Cold War and our isolationist relationship with Europe resulted in both Kinloss and St Mawgan shutting down, the aircraft were scrapped and all resources lost forever.

    Although the UK now has a single Jetsteam aircraft tasked with looking after all the UK’s waters, but this country has does not have the resources to police our waters. Even if the Government threw billions at the problem, it would take decades to have a cohesive structure in place

  • Must admit I enjoyed Jeremy winding up our Tinpot Dictator, unfortunately not enough to cause him a coronary. As he could’t truthfully answer Jezza, Johnson reverted to type and dredged the old smear about “Corbyn is a friend of the IRA” from the bottom of the Tory sewer. The truth? Mo Mowlam gave him the job of mediating between the IRA and the New Labour government. Jezza has repeatedly proved that he never supported the IRA. Despite claiming she “denied terrorists the oxygen of publicity” Thatcher personally had discussions with representatives of the Provisional IRA.

    Look up one Maria Gatland, a TORY councillor in Croydon on Wikipedia. In earlier life she was born in Dublin as Maria McGuire and joined the Provisional IRA. She claimed she joined as she wanted to kill British squaddies.

    What was that Tinpot Dictator Johnson saying about Jezza being an IRA sympathiser?

  • Any MP who backs Johnson because she or he believes his lies, simply is an uneducated incompetent. They can’t all be that clodsome, in which case in all likelihood they wish to profit from Johnson’s future financial arrangements. Which indeed is a powerful incentive to bin democracy, honourable intentions and a general competence as an MP.