A European Union (EU) diplomat has taunted Britain, claiming the country will become a “regulatory protectorate of Brussels” if Theresa May’s plan to align rules and regulations after Brexit goes ahead.
The eurocrat pointed out that if the UK pursued “regulatory alignment” with the bloc it could be forced to follow EU rules without any say in how those rules were made.
Theresa May earlier this week considered keeping Northern Ireland subject to many of the EU’s rules, regulations, and standards to effectively keep the Province in the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, in exchange for keeping the border with the Irish Republic open.
Scotland’s europhile first minister Nicola Sturgeon was quick to declare she would demand a similar settlement, and London mayor Sadiq Khan even suggested that the capital should be kept in the Single Market, too.
On Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) hit back at plans, insisting they would not allow the Province to leave the EU on different terms to the rest of the UK and be left effectively tethered to the bloc.
Brexit secretary David Davis subsequently claimed in the House of Commons that “regulatory alignment” with the EU is what the May government wants for the whole of the United Kingdom after Brexit.
Referring to Mr. Davis’s latest plan, an EU official told The Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief Daniel Boffey:
“The UK will not have any say on the decisions taken in Brussels and will basically implement them without having any influence over them… it makes the UK kind of a regulatory ‘protectorate’ of Brussels.”
Mr. Davis insisted his proposal was not the same as regulatory convergence or staying in the Single Market, but without giving much detail on how it would differ from these options.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he told MPs: “Alignment isn’t harmonisation, it isn’t having exactly the same rules, it’s sometimes having mutually recognised rules, mutually recognised inspections, that sort of thing. That’s what we are aiming for.”
He added: “Any regulatory alignment we get as part of a Brexit deal for Northern Ireland will apply for the whole country.”
EU officials and Brexit negotiators have previously been very clear that maintaining free trade with the bloc by staying inside the Single Market will mean the UK has to continue accepting unlimited EU immigration and free movement of people.