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The EU Withdrawal Agreement

The Full Brexit is not a political party and as such its contributors take different views, including of the Withdrawal Agreements negotiated by the May and Johnson governments. Here we provide summaries of the Agreements, and debate over whether to accept them.

Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement 

Lee Jones argues that, given Britain’s political malaise, Johnson’s revised Withdrawal Agreement is the best that can be reasonably expected. It offers substantial improvements over Theresa May’s deal by limiting the EU’s future powers over Great Britain – though not Northern Ireland – and by minimising restrictions on democratic political decision-making. Political wrangling should now shift to the future relationship, where there is all to play for. But if parliamentary deadlock persists, a disastrous second referendum could be inevitable.

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Costas Lapavitsas analyses Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement from the perspective of British capital and the left. Business interests prefer it to no deal. For the left, it offers reduced constraints on future socialist policies, but only if the future UK-EU relationship is not based on neoliberal lines. The Political Declaration threatens precisely this, so Labour should amend it to favour the left.

The Withdrawal Agreement between Boris Johnson and the European Union agreed this month is not Brexit, argues James Heartfield. On the contrary, the agreement ties us into the neoliberal policies of the European Union at the expense of Britain’s democratic self-government. No deal remains the best way to take back control.

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Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement 

The Withdrawal Agreement is long – 585 pages – and complex, and no summary can be exhaustive, but here we distil its key aspects. The agreement establishes a transition period to December 2020 when the UK has formally left, but is still extricating itself from EU jurisdiction in practice. It also contains a "backstop" protocol which kicks in if the UK and EU cannot agree on their future relationship during this time.


May's deal is the best we could expect from a political establishment unenthusiastic about, or even hostile to, Brexit, argues Chris Bickerton. If it is rejected, this will embolden anti-Brexit politicians to push for a second referendum to overturn the result of the first. This would be disastrous for British democracy. Therefore, we should back the deal, as a first, faltering, but necessary step in the restoration of British sovereignty.

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The backstop protocol threatens to lock the UK, especially Northern Ireland, into EU rules in perpetuity, neutralising all the prospective gains from the referendum, argues Lee Jones. A second referendum would damage British democracy, but not so much as accepting this. The situation is grim, but the only alternative is to fight for a Full Brexit, a total break with the EU.

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Legal analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement shows that, like the EU Treaties, it seeks to lock in neoliberal policies and outlaw socialist ones. Professor of public law Danny Nicol argues that, in order to restore the democratic contestation over economic policy that Britain desperately needs, this must be rejected.

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