The Government’s omnishambles renegotiation

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The Government’s renegotiation is not legally binding because it cannot be - the only way to make things legally binding is to change the Treaties. This hasn’t happened and nobody can guarantee it will happen.


The European Court is in charge of exactly the same things after the Government’s renegotiation as it was before, and it can bin concessions made to Cameron the day after we vote.


The Prime Minister promised he would get a ‘complete opt-out’ from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights - he has completely ditched this promise.


The only way to get a new UK/EU relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation is to Vote Leave.

The British public want to end the supremacy of EU law and the European Court and take back control over our borders, economy, and democracy. The Government’s deal delivers none of this. The European Court of Justice is in charge of exactly the same things after the deal as it was before the deal.

Before the general election, the Prime Minister promised ‘fundamental change’ in our relationship with the EU and ‘full-on Treaty change’ before the referendum. That isn’t happening.

All Cameron has got is a promise from other leaders to think about including some trivial changes in the EU Treaties in a few years time, 1) if they are still leaders, which they might not be, and 2) if the Treaties can be changed at all which they might not be given that Treaty change requires unanimous agreement among all 28 members, which it is impossible to guarantee in advance. We don’t even know who might be leading these countries in five years time - never mind what they might agree.

It is the political equivalent of ‘a cheque for 99p is in the post and may arrive in five years or so if we’re still around’. The European Court is not bound to respect or enforce Cameron’s deal. The day after the referendum, the European Court could decide it is illegal.

The Government promised to get ‘full on Treaty change’. It hasn’t.

The main part of the deal is an agreement between countries in international law. It does not change the EU Treaties. The official agreement - a ‘Decision’ agreed between states - says that it is ‘in conformity with the Treaties’, while the European Council’s conclusions declare that the agreement is ‘fully compatible with the Treaties.’ Under the 1969 Vienna Convention, this means that the EU Treaties ‘prevail’ over Cameron’s deal.

The Government said its renegotiation would be ‘legally binding’. It isn’t.

The Government claims that the renegotiation is legally binding. Don’t be fooled: the Government’s deal is not legally binding. The Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove MP, has said that ‘The European Court of Justice is not bound by this agreement.’

Leading lawyers agree with the Justice Secretary:

  • Marina Wheeler, QC: ‘Michael Gove, the lord chancellor, is not wrong... what’s important is its status under EU law: if the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg considers any part of the agreement (or measures taken to implement it) to be incompatible with existing EU law, it can strike them down.’

  • Martin Howe, QC: ‘Governmental claims that the summit deal is legally binding are highly misleading.'

  • Lord Pannick, QC: ‘[the deal] would have no binding effect in our courts or in the Court of Justice of the EU on legal rights and duties until the other member states take action to comply with what they agreed last week’

  • Professor Sir Alan Dashwood, QC: ‘They could be challenged. I imagine a benefit claimant feeling peeved because his child benefit was being [linked] to the much lower cost of living in an Eastern European country, might well bring proceedings...’

  • John Howell, QC: ‘Mr Gove is right that, without treaty change, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is not bound by it.’

  • Professor Steve Peers: ‘There are some parts that might not be accepted by the EU court, and the plans for new laws on benefits might be blocked by the European parliament or challenged in the courts.’

  • Sir Konrad Schiemann: a former English Court of Appeal and former European Court of Justice Judge, has admitted that legally-binding changes can ‘only be achieved by following the lengthy processes in each Member State for ratifying Treaties’.

  • Jean-Claude Piris: The former Director General of the EU Council’s legal service has said a legally-binding commitment to change the Treaties at a future date is ‘called bullshit. There is no possibility to make a promise that would be legally binding to change the treaty later.’

Even the Government has admitted that any future attempt to add the EU’s promises to the Treaties could be vetoed by any one of the other member states. The President of the European Parliament has admitted that MEPs might reject the deal. The House of Commons Library has also said that the European Court will not be bound by the deal.

The EU has broken previous promises to Denmark

The EU made similar promises to Denmark in 1992 when it promised to respect national citizenship laws. Brussels told the Danish people that these changes would be ‘legally binding’. They lied. The European Court has now issued 80 judgements that completely ignore the promises made to Denmark. They are now trying to play the same trick on us. Don’t let them con you.

The Government is trying to spin that we should trust the deal because the European Court has to take the deal ‘into account’. To 'take into account' is not the same as being bound by it. The ECJ currently takes the Danish deal into account - and then decides to ignore it.

The ECJ can even ignore, or ‘reinterpret’, the Treaties.

Even when the Treaties are changed, the European Court can ignore them. For example, the Lisbon treaty committed the EU to accede to the ECHR. The European Court has said this is illegal and has blocked it. If we vote remain they will ignore the Prime Minister’s deal. They will break their promises.

The claim that ‘depositing the deal with the United Nations makes it legally binding’ is fiction

The claim that ‘being deposited at the United Nations’ makes the deal ‘legally binding’ is a fiction. The UN accepts all sorts of documents being deposited - it says nothing about their legal status.

Even if the UN were to claim that the deal is binding in international law, it would not necessarily be accepted by the ECJ because the ECJ has already made clear that it does not regard itself as bound to follow international law including even resolutions of the UN Security Council.

David Cameron promised to ‘get what Britain needs’ on free movement. He failed.

Before the election David Cameron promised that ‘We will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years’. He has not been able to get this. Instead we have to phase in welfare benefits over four years.

The Government’s so-called welfare ‘emergency brake’ is controlled by the Commission, not Britain. It's doubtful whether we can even use it - the European Court could stop it working the day after the referendum. It will only last for seven years. After that we’re right back to square one.

Even if we could use it, the Independent Office of Budget Responsibility has said, the ‘emergency brake’ will have ‘not much’ impact on migration.

The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights gives the European Court ultimate control over how Britain implements the important 1951 UN convention on refugees. Cameron’s deal does not change this at all.

The only way to take back control of our borders, end the supremacy of the European Court over immigration, refugees, and asylum, and have a more humane and sensible immigration policy is to Vote Leave.

The Government promised to stop sending child benefits abroad. They've broken their promise.

Before the election, David Cameron promised the British people that ‘if an EU migrant’s child is living abroad, then they should receive no child benefit or child tax credit, no matter how long they have worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they have paid.’

He has not done this. The new deal will force the UK to keep paying 28 different rates of child benefit. The costs of administering this complex and unwieldy system are likely to exceed any savings. The only way to take back control of our welfare system is to Vote Leave.

The Government promised that the deal would allow the UK to block damaging EU regulation. It doesn’t.

David Cameron promised to secure legal safeguards to stop non-Eurozone countries being penalised. George Osborne in particular promised to change this, saying he would ensure that ‘as the Eurozone chooses to integrate it does so in a way that does not damage the interests of non-euro members.’

He has not done this. The agreement specifically says that the UK will not have a veto. All we will be able to do is ask the EU to discuss laws a bit longer before they force them on us. Similar delaying mechanisms have been in place for twenty years and have not stopped the UK being overruled on all 72 occasions we have voted against a new EU law. The only way to take back control is to Vote Leave.

The Government promised to protect the City of London. They failed.

The agreement specifically allows the EU to regulate the banks in the City of London. The UK will be dragged into the failing Eurozone banking system if we vote to stay. We can’t afford to let the banks blow up the economy again as they did in 2008.

It’s safer to take control. We will be able to regulate the banks more effectively if we Vote Leave.

The Government has said we will not be liable to bailout Eurozone countries. They’re wrong.

The UK will still pay £350 million each week to the EU. David Cameron said he had ‘legal’ guarantees to keep us out of Eurozone bailouts before he even began his renegotiation, but George Osborne admits the Eurozone tore up that agreement last summer.

More promises of the same cannot be taken seriously. EU politicians will not think twice about getting Britain to pay for the euro’s crisis if we stay in. The European Court will allow them to do this as it always does. The only way to end our liability for huge bailout bills is to Vote Leave.

The Government said they’d make it easier to block EU laws. They’ve made it harder.

The Government says that its ‘red card’ will make it easier to block EU laws, but in reality it is worthless.

As the former Foreign Secretary, William Hague, admits, it would not stop the European Commission introducing the ‘slaughter of the first born’. The new deal actually makes it harder to use the ‘red card’, requiring 55% of parliaments to agree with the UK, not just the current 33%. The only way to take back control is to Vote Leave.

The Government says it has given the UK a ‘special status’. That’s just spin.

Nowhere does the deal actually refer to any ‘special status’ for the UK. It is just spin. Politicians have claimed for years that the UK has a ‘special deal’ or a ‘new deal’. It’s always proven to be just words. We keep having to send more money and powers to the EU.

Don’t get conned again. The ‘special status’ is exactly the same as the status quo. The deal explicitly says that the EU keeps all of its existing powers over the UK. The only way to get the ‘fundamental and far-reaching change’ that the Prime Minister once promised is to Vote Leave.

The only way to get a new UK/EU relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation is to Vote Leave.

Key Facts

Useful facts, videos and graphics to share with your friends and family

The renegotiation has failed to deliver the Government's manifesto promises

VIDEO: If we vote Leave, we can take back control from Brussels

Don’t believe BSE’s scaremongering

The EU-funded BSE campaign claims that the Government has secured ‘meaningful reforms’. Don’t believe them. Under this new deal the European Court will remain supreme over UK law. Over 9 out of 10 of the Government’s promises to change the EU have now been dropped. Even the head of the Labour-IN campaign has admitted that the deal is a 'sham'.

Further Reading


    The flaws of the renegotiation, detailed brief - LINK (pdf)

    An unsigned contract: the legal effect of the renegotiation - LINK (pdf)

    Key points on David Cameron’s omnishambles deal - LINK

    8 out of 10 of David Cameron’s demands to change the EU will not be delivered - LINK

    EU renegotiation has been watered down further, but with a sting in the detail - LINK

    Top judge blows apart Government’s EU renegotiation - LINK

    A vote to remain is a vote for the Lisbon Treaty/Constitution - LINK

    Spot the difference: New EU-UK deal is 99% the same - LINK

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