Brexiters led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith are calling for the EU Withdrawal Agreement to be rewritten if not abandoned because it keeps the UK “hooked into the EU’s loan book.”
The former Tory leader was a fervent supporter of the prime minister’s “oven ready” deal which was rushed through parliament after December’s general election but is now voicing his opposition because of details “buried in the fine print” of the agreement.
“Whilst the UK wants to have a good trade relationship with the EU as a sovereign state, the EU has different ideas,” tweeted Smith. “They want our money and they want to stop us being a competitor. The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) we signed last year sadly helps them.”
Smith – ‘buried in the fine print’
Smith, who is MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, set out his objections over three tweets, and continued: “To avoid their own budget black hole, the EU gets £39billion as a “divorce payment” from us, reflecting our share of the current EU budget. But it gets worse. Buried in the fine print, unnoticed by many, is the fact we remain hooked into the EU’s loan book.
“You can’t be half in the EU & half out, the problem is the WA. It costs too much & it denies us true national independence. This WA giving the EU future control over us has to go. Now Britain faces a £160billion #EU loans bill AFTER #Brexit.”
Smith has been lambasted for his comments and many replies to the tweets have suggested he should have read the document’s fine print before voting for it. Some also remind that Brexiters voted to reduce the time set aside for the Commons to debate the WA to three days.
‘Smith doesn’t realise how stupid he is’ – O’Brien
Broadcaster James O’Brien was particularly scathing of Smith’s latest remarks and said: “Of all the Brexit bonkerness, this is one of the choicest morsels of utter idiocy.
“It’s the inability to realise how stupid he is that essentially explains Iain Duncan Smith’s entire life. Anybody with an iota of intelligence would be too embarrassed to take public office if they realised how little intelligence they had. But he’s got so little intelligence, he thinks he’s clever.”
European Commission spokesperson Eric Marmer rejected Smith’s objections out of hand, and said: “I think it’s very clear that we are not going to get into a debate with British politicians on liabilities or any other of the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is there, it is now a firm document that has been accepted by both parties and it is the basis on which both sides are acting.”
Marmer said the UK has made “a certain number of completely normal legal commitments when it comes to its share of liabilities” and that the WA stands.
Meanwhile, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator tweeted a reminder that the transition period ends on December 31 and added: “Changes are inevitable, with or without agreement on the new partnership. Companies and citizens must get ready.”