Farage: EU Planned to Keep UK ‘Trapped Inside’ Customs Union, Time to Deliver ‘Clean Break Brexit’

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage arrives for a debate on Brexit at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, northeastern France on September 18, 2019. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Nigel Farage has warned that the humiliation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson by the “pip-squeak prime minister of Luxembourg” during Brexit talks was a sign of the bad faith the EU plans to have with the UK if the country accepts the withdrawal treaty, saying now is the time for a “clean break Brexit”.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday morning, Mr Farage warned that even without the Irish backstop, which could lock the whole of the UK in regulatory alignment with the EU and stop the UK signing its own trade deals, the withdrawal treaty is still “a very bad deal for Britain”.

“It’ll leave us trapped inside European Union rules, it’ll leave us under the auspices of the European Court. And having given everything away in the withdrawal agreement, the worst part is that any future relationship relies on ‘good faith’.

“We put ourselves entirely in your hands, we put ourselves indeed at your mercy and I would suggest that events we have seen across Europe this week do not indicate that ‘good faith’ exists,” Mr Farage said, referencing Xavier Bettel’s “ritual humiliation” of Johnson on Monday, only for the prime minister of Luxembourg to be later “greeted like a hero” by France’s President Emmanuel Macron the following day.

While the outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker’s statement on Wednesday that he has “no sentimental attachment to the backstop” may suggest that there is some room to renegotiate the withdrawal treaty, even without the backstop in its current form the EU will insist that something very much like it must replace it to avoid a so-called ‘hard border’ between the UK’s Northern Ireland and the EU’s Republic of Ireland — likely involving a new ‘customs union’ with the bloc.

Mr Farage asserted that it was “very clear” that it was Brussels’ intention all along to keep the UK in the Customs Union “from the start” of negotiations to stop Britain becoming a stronger economic force on Europe’s doorstep, and that the only way to fulfil the 2016 referendum mandate is to leave without a deal.

“We’ve seen from other speakers today the fear is that the UK breaks out of the Customs Union, breaks out of the Single Market rules, and we become more competitive and we become much wealthier outside of the European Union than within it,” Mr Farage said.

“Mr Verhofstadt, we want no part of your European Empire the only way forward now to deliver on the referendum is for a clean break Brexit. Once we’ve done that, we can have a grown-up conversation about trade and about the way forward,” he added.

Speaking later to LBC, Mr Farage said that a wider conversation must be had over the treaty and the implications of signing it, saying if the UK agrees to it, the EU “will never give us a free trade deal, ever”.

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