Were taking our laws back! Expert exposes SIX Brexit negotiating myths – and huge win

EU at ‘crunch point’ over future of the Eurozone says expert

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Barnabas Reynolds, a partner at top City law firm Shearman & Sterling, was responding to the bold vision for the financial services sector outlined by Rishi Sunak at Mansion House last week, in which the Chancellor said Britain was now free to do things “differently and better”. In an article written for the Politiea think thank, Mr Reynolds said: “This year a vast array of opportunities opened to the newly sovereign UK.

“So far they have been under-appreciated.

“Why has the legacy of ‘Project Fear’ continued to cast its long shadow?

“To answer, we need only cast our minds back to the misleading claims, reasoning and analysis of the notorious ‘Project Fear’ campaign which, though now vividly exploded by events, revealed how many had lost faith in themselves and the UK.”

Mr Reynolds selected six specific myths which he said had already been exposed as fallacies:

  • The UK had to be worse off outside the EU
  • The UK had little choice but to accept most of the EU was offering, “representing a bunch of fruit, some of which might be cherries, others rotten
  • The UK would not be permitted to negotiate trade deals until outside the EU
  • There was a ‘cliff edge’ for financial contracts, requiring certain EU financial business to be transferred immediately to the EU
  • The UK should negotiate as a country, whereas the EU could negotiate partly as a bloc and partly as separate states, for example on citizens’ rights
  • The only solution to maintaining an invisible north-south border with the Republic of Ireland was the application of EU law in Northern Ireland
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    He added: “Yet the most serious mistake, which underpinned the absurdity of these failings, was a failure to examine, let alone understand, the fundamental differences between the UK and EU legal systems and methods of reasoning.

    “The differences are marked. The UK system belongs to no one, and was developed by a multiplicity of judges over centuries, with limited Parliamentary and regulatory interventions.”

    By contrast, in the EU and across much of the world, legal codes sought to “superimpose often vague and abstract notions of fairness on individual and commercial activity”, Mr Reynolds argued.

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    He added: “The doomed negotiations of Theresa May and her team, which accepted the imposition of EU law on the UK’s economy in the belief that this was good for UK commerce, were misguided, since they failed to accommodate the crucial legal distinction.

    “Worst of all was the negotiators’ acceptance of the EU idea that the application of EU law in Northern Ireland would provide some form of workable solution to an invisible border on the island of Ireland.

    “The renegotiation of the whole arrangement under the Johnson-Frost team now requires them to grapple with an ideological EU thought process, embedded as things stand in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and its Northern Ireland Protocol, in which theory trumps the facts, in a manner alien to the common law.”

    With respect to the benefits of ditching the bloc’s complex rules and regulations in favour of the UK’s simpler, more straightforward system, Mr Reynolds stressed: “The prize is worth having, not only for the UK, but for global commerce and for the liberal values espoused by the UK’s legal system.

    “Many states have begun to realise the benefits of the common law.”

    He added: “The foray into the EU’s legal scheme without sufficient thought has been a digression, but with two great leaps it is now possible to arrive back where the UK should have been, in a world far more modern, dynamic and interconnected than it was when we first entered the European Communities.

    “For the current world, with its World Trade Organisation arrangements and services capable of being provided through the ether, is based on low tariffs and cross-border trade, both virtual and real, to an extent that is far easier than ever before.

    “Maybe our predecessors’ mistake was not to see that coming, but this error was compounded by their more fundamental failure to understand our own unique system.

    “Fortunately, the results are only temporary and we can now think our way through to renewed success.”

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