British government

Open Letter to Dominic Raab – what happened to the ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal?

Monica Harding, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Elmbridge Liberal Democrats, has today written to Dominic Raab about the Internal Markets Bill published this week.

You can read the letter below, or download the PDF here.

Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP
House of Commons

10 September 2020

Dear Dominic, 

At the General Election last year, your campaign literature in Esher and Walton told us that the Conservative Government ‘has secured a great Brexit deal’. Your leader claimed in the same election campaign that Brexit was ‘oven ready’ because of ‘this excellent deal’. 

This week, your government has published an Internal Markets Bill that gives Ministers the power to override commitments made in that Brexit deal – the Withdrawal Treaty, which was ratified by the EU only in January – and in so doing, threatens the Good Friday Agreement and the return of a hard border in Ireland. The Conservative Government is, by its own admission to Parliament, breaking international law. 

The Head of the Government Legal Service has resigned. A former Conservative Solicitor-General, Lord Garnier, has said the Attorney-General and the Justice Secretary should resign too. As a former government lawyer, I presume you understand the professional, constitutional and ethical gravity when the country’s most senior Law Officers break their oath to uphold the rule of law. Indeed, you have made much in the leaflet delivered to Esher and Walton constituents this week of the UK’s action in response to China’s breaches of international law in Hong Kong. Why should the Chinese take heed of this now, when your government is so ready to flout the law? 

Trust – the most valuable commodity in any international negotiation – is being destroyed at the very point where it is most needed if we are to secure favourable trade deals with our European and global partners. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has said this week there is “no chance” of a UK-US Trade Deal if the UK threatens the Good Friday Agreement by reneging of the Withdrawal Treaty. 

Two former Conservative Prime Ministers have gone on record this week to warn against the irreparable damage this government’s actions will do to Britain’s standing in the world. Sir John Major commented: “If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”

Trust of course is not only for international negotiation; it is also a part of the contract between the public and their elected representatives.  Sir John Major’s words apply equally to you. You fought the General Election in Esher and Walton on the basis that you had a deal – an “oven-ready deal”. You told the voters of Esher and Walton you would “get Brexit done with our deal”.  It would appear that your current opinion of your deal is that it was not worth the paper it was written on. 

The voters of Esher and Walton who returned you as an MP in December on the basis of these promises (as you noted in your acceptance speech in Sandown in the early hours of December 13th 2019) deserve an urgent explanation from you now that the deal is dead and you are prepared to break international law, risk the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland and put the country’s economic recovery at risk with the renewed threat of a No Deal exit.

I look forward to hearing from you on this point, as I am sure many of your constituents do.

Yours sincerely

Monica Harding

Parliamentary Spokesperson
Elmbridge Liberal Democrats