May’s Brexit deal: 40 rebuttals to Downing Street’s 40 rebuttals

May’s Brexit deal: 40 rebuttals to Downing Street’s 40 rebuttals
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Is a deal better than no deal? After Mr S attempted to answer that question over the weekend by publishing 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, No. 10 got in touch with 40 rebuttals to Steerpike's 40 horrors.

Still with us? Well, episode three of this series is finally here. Mr S thanks 10 Downing Street for conceding many of the 40 points on the Withdrawal Agreement, and for engaging in all of them. In the spirit of friendly discussion, here are all 40 of Steerpike's responses.


First, a note on ambiguity: In its rebuttals, No10 accepts ambiguity over how the document might be interpreted - which, in this case, is crucial. Under this system, if the UK And EU disagree over the interpretation then the EU (or the ECJ) decides. A normal international trade agreement would involve an independent third party mechanism for solving ambiguities. But in this Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the government has given control of ambiguity to the EU. This is what makes it so legally unusual. It is therefore to the benefit of the EU for ambiguity to exist. Conversely, ambiguity is dangerous for the UK.

We started by pointing out that this is deal open-ended. In theory, there will be a transition period until a new trade deal between the E.U. and UK starts. In practise, that deal might never come: if so, the "backstop" would kick in keeping the UK in a Customs Union and we could not walk away without the EU's say so. So this is not a fixed-length contract. The Withdrawal Agreement mentions an undefined end date sometime this century (“up to 31 December 20XX”, Art. 132) but there might be no end. No10's rebuttals start at this point.

Downing Street: Article 132 has a blank date because the date has not yet been agreed between the two sides. The date will represent a maximum length.

Mr Steerpike's response : Oh no it won’t. There is no 'maximum length' to this: it's designed so one phase can move seamlessly to another. An important point which explains why so many ministers have resigned. If this deal was genuinely time-limited, as the UK originally wanted, it would not be so controversial. It is designed to be extended indefinitely - and uniquely amongst international treaties, this does not allow us to walk away or serve notice.

1. Steerpike's critique: From the offset, we should note that this is an EU text, not a UK or international text. This has one source. The Brexit agreement is written in Brussels.

Downing Street: The draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is a text which has been negotiated between the EU and the UK. The WA constitutes international law for the UK because the UK is no longer bound by the EU treaties after March 2019.

Steerpike: This is an EU text, written in Brussels, published by Brussels with EU language and studded with hallmarks of EU draftsmanship. Namely: clauses with deliberately loose wording, which can be later interpreted under ECJ adjudication. This is the method by which the EU expands its reach and power. The UK was caught out in exactly this way last December when No10 said the Northern Ireland backstop was legally meaningless.

2. May says her deal means the UK leaves the EU next March. The Withdrawal Agreement makes a mockery of this. “All references to Member States and competent authorities of Member States…shall be read as including the United Kingdom.” (Art 6). Not quite what most people understand by Brexit. It goes on to spell out that the UK will be in the EU but without any MEPs, a commissioner or ECJ judges. We are effectively a Member State, but we are excused – or, more accurately, excluded – from attending summits. (Article 7)

Downing Street: Article 7 is simply a technical provision which enables the UK to be treated as a Member State for the purpose of EU law which is applied by the Agreement during the implementation period and the winding down phase. Without this provision, the orderly winding down of the application of EU law in the UK would not be possible.

Steerpike: Again, is it a technicality of the UK is being “treated as a member state for the purpose of EU law” after it has supposedly quit the EU?

3. The European Court of Justice is decreed to be our highest court, governing the entire Agreement – Art. 4. Stipulates that both citizens and resident companies can use it. Art 4.2 orders our courts to recognise this. “If the European Commission considers that the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties or under Part Four of this Agreement before the end of the transition period, the European Commission may, within 4 years after the end of the transition period, bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union”. (Art. 87)

Downing Street: Article 4 does not provide for the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK. This is an agreement about winding down the application of EU law. It does not makes sense for that law to have a different status in the UK while its effects are wound down. This would create inconsistency and legal uncertainty. Article 87 is about events which take place up to the end of transition. It is nothing to do with events after that.

Steerpike: Article 4 makes clear that the ECJ is supreme: now, and after we "leave" on 29 March. The ECJ is mentioned 60 times in the Agreement. As for “winding down” the phrase appears six times in No10’s comments, but not once in the Agreement. Mr S can't help but wonder whether that is because the EU has no intention of “winding down” control of the UK? The Agreement's language is consistent with it being seen by the E.U. as the final deal. 

4. The jurisdiction of the ECJ will last until eight years after the end of the transition period. (Article 158).

Downing Street: The 8 years has been agreed since December and refers only to issues on citizens’ rights. Unlike now, references from the UK courts on citizens’ rights will not be compulsory.

Steerpike: So the jurisdiction of the ECJ will last until eight years after two dates which have not yet been agreed. As Dr Gunnar Beck has since pointed out: “As of 30th March 2019 the ECJ will convert from being a joint court in which the UK plays an equal part, into being a wholly foreign court over which the UK will no longer have any degree of control.” Why accept jurisdiction of a foreign court? The UK uses Common Law, so do many other countries (like Canada & the US). The EU uses a totally different type of law. That makes it even odder to let them have control.

5. The UK will still be bound by any future changes to EU law in which it will have no say, not to mention having to comply with current law. (Article 6(2))

Downing Street: Article 6 (1) provides that where Union law applies in the UK after exit, it is Union law as it stands at the end of the transition period, except where specifically agreed otherwise as in the implementation period. Article 6(2) is a narrow technical provision which covers only a handful of pieces of EU legislation. It does not provide for the dynamic alignment of EU law in the UK.

Steerpike: Again, No10 says this is a “technical” issue, but these things have a habit of being a lot more "dynamic" than the UK expects.

6. Any disputes under the Agreement will be decided by EU law only – one of the most dangerous provisions. (Article 168). This cuts the UK off from International Law, something we’d never do with any foreign body. Arbitration will be governed by the existing procedural rules of the EU law – this is not arbitration as we would commonly understand it (i.e. between two independent parties). (Article 174)

Downing Street: No. Disputes under the agreement are decided by an arbitration panel if they cannot be resolved within the Joint Committee. All that Article 168 does is be clear that the provisions of the agreement on dispute resolution are those agreed in the agreement and not other ones. The arbitration panel will apply EU or international law as is appropriate to the issue under dispute.

Steerpike: And who might the ‘arbitration panel’ report to? Might it be the ECJ? Martin Howe QC explains: 'If a dispute involves a point of EU law, the arbitration panel must refer that point to the ECJ for a ruling. The UK has no veto. The arbitration panel is then bound to give a judgment conforming to the ECJ ruling, so it will act as a postbox for referring issues to the ECJ and issuing judgments which rubber stamp the ECJ’s rulings.'

7. “UNDERLINING that this Agreement is founded on an overall balance of benefits, rights and obligations for the Union and the United Kingdom” No, it should be based upon the binding legal obligations upon the EU contained within Article 50. It is wrong to suggest otherwise.

Downing Street: This is simply referencing the fact that the agreement contains reciprocal rights and obligations. It has no effect whatsoever on the legal basis for the treaty.

Steerpike: If it has no effect, why is it in the treaty? Language matters, otherwise one suspects it would not have been typed. This Withdrawal Agreement is all about duties the UK has to the EU: the premise behind almost every clause and the extent of those duties to be defined by the EU’s court under the EU’s law.

8. The tampon tax clause: We obey EU laws on VAT, with no chance of losing the tampon tax even if we agree a better deal in December 2020 because we hereby agree to obey other EU VAT rules for **five years** after the transition period. Current EU rules prohibit zero-rated VAT on products (like tampons) that did not have such exemptions before the country joined the EU.

Downing Street: This is about payment of VAT on goods sold before the end of the transition period. It has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the VAT regime in the UK after the end of transition.

Steerpike: Alas the fact remains: we’ll be supposedly “out” of the EU on 29 March 2019 - but still forced to tax tampons as a luxury item until an unforeseeable date that the UK cannot set. Not the most obvious reading of 'take back control'. 

9. Several problems with the EU’s definitions: “Union law” is too widely defined and “United Kingdom national” is defined by the Lisbon Treaty: we should given away our right to define our citizens. The “goods” and the term “services” we are promised the deal are not defined – or, rather, will be defined however the EU wishes them to be. Thus far, this a non-defined term so far. This agreement fails to define it.

Downing Street: The definition of Union law is a specific provision tied to this agreement. The definition of “UK national” comes from the unilateral declaration made by the UK. Terms such as “goods” are defined by reference to EU law because Part Three of the Withdrawal Agreement are about the winding down of EU law.

Steerpike: So, we're agreed: the government admits it has conceded GDPR and Intellectual Property rights. The idea that there is a definition of 'good' within EU law upon which the UK would want to rely is erroneous. Most people noticed how EU control grew from its first stated aims, morphed into ‘spheres of competence’ under the Maastricht Treaty and then went far beyond that. If the government is trying to push back to the days of Maastricht it needs to define ‘goods’ - or ‘goods’ will be taken to mean anything. This Withdrawal Agreement was the perfect opportunity. And one the government has failed to take. If the service sector ends up regulated - will the UK government indemnify them for their loss?

10. The Mandelson Pension Clause: The UK must promise never to tax former EU officials based here – such as Peter Mandelson or Neil Kinnock – on their E.U. pensions, or tax any current Brussels bureaucrats on their salaries. The EU and its employees are to be immune to our tax laws. (Article 104)

Downing Street: This provision of the agreement respects rights which individuals have acquired during 40 years of membership of the EU. It would not be appropriate for these rights to be summarily removed.

Steerpike: Are we so sure that it's 'not appropriate' that Lord Mandelson or Lord Kinnock should pay tax on their EU pensions? Isn’t the point of Brexit that we can, as a country, ask these questions and get rid of the rules that make no sense?

11. Furthermore, the UK agrees not to prosecute EU employees who are, or who might be deemed in future, criminals (Art.101)

Downing Street: This is simply untrue.

Steerpike: Really? Because it’s not at all clear from the text. And clarity has not been helped by the agreement making repeated reference to the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities (EU law); rather than simply setting out the extra rights of EU connected individuals in the document - as a properly-drafted standalone agreement would. If No10 says what is now Article 9 (ex 10) is excluded, Mr S notes many other Articles are included giving all sorts of extra rights to EU employees. A standalone agreement would just make plain what the rights of such people are (or are not) on its own terms. This looks like the EU’s draft notes on what it wanted, nodded through by the UK.

12. The GDPR clause. The General Data Protection Regulation – the EU’s stupidest law ever? – is to be bound into UK law (Articles 71 to 73). There had been an expectation in some quarters that the UK could get out of it.

Downing Street: Union law on data will only apply to the data transferred to the UK from the EU before the end of the implementation period until an adequacy decision is granted. It does not apply to data transferred after the end of the Implementation Period.

Steerpike: So yes, then.

13. The UK establishes a ‘Joint Committee’ with EU representatives to guarantee ‘the implementation and application of this Agreement’. This does not sound like a withdrawal agreement – if it was, why would it need to be subject to continued monitoring? (Article 164). This Joint Committee will have subcommittees with jurisdiction over: (a) citizens’ rights; (b) “other separation provisions”; (c) Ireland/Northern Ireland; (d) Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus; (e) Gibraltar; and (f) financial provisions. (Article 165)

Downing Street: A Joint Committee is a perfectly normal oversight body in an international agreement. It exists in this instance to make some specific decisions, for instance on the wind down of the monitoring authority on citizens’ rights, and to resolve disputes.

Steerpike: The government may wish to consult Chapter 28 of TTP for guidance on what is or is not ‘normal’ in international trade. The arbitration panels suggested in this Brexit Agreement consist of UJ/EU and joint officials. If they disagree, why does the ECJ adjudicate? Also, nowhere in the 585 pages is there any reference to 'winding down'... It is important to note that expanding the definition of ‘citizens rights’ has allowed the ECJ to further control Member States over 40 years - why would the EU stop now?

14. The Lifetime clause: the agreement will last as long as the country’s youngest baby lives. “the persons covered by this Part shall enjoy the rights provided for in the relevant Titles of this Part for their lifetime”. (Article 39).

Downing Street: Article 39 is about the rights accorded to citizens, rights that both sides do not wish suddenly to expire, putting those citizens in a wholly uncertain legal situation. This applies for both UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.

Steerpike: This is a tad rich given that Theresa May was the only candidate in the 2016 leadership battle who thought that 3m EU citizens in the UK should face precisely this uncertainty. Article 39 demonstrates the sheer longevity of this supposedly temporary agreement.

15. The UK is shut out of all EU networks and databases for security – yet no such provision exists to shut the EU out of ours. (Article 8)

Downing Street: That is because access to UK networks and databases is up to us.

Steerpike: So yes, then. At least this admission was brief.

16. The UK will tied to EU foreign policy, “bound by the obligations stemming from the international agreements concluded by the Union” but unable to influence such decisions. (Article 124)

Downing Street: This is not about foreign policy. It is about all the international agreements we rely on to keep planes flying, trade with other countries etc. This provision is about the status of these agreements during the implementation period. It would be unnecessarily disruptive for them suddenly to cease to apply. Almost all the international agreements we will be bound by have been signed up to during our membership of the EU.

Steerpike: Certainty. Article 39 demonstrates the sheer longevity of this supposedly temporary agreement

17. All EU citizens must be given permanent right of residence after five years – but what counts as residence? This will be decided by the EU, rather than UK rules. (Articles 15-16)

Downing Street: The Government has been clear that its first priority as part of securing a smooth and orderly exit from the EU was to provide certainty for EU citizens living in the UK, and UK nationals living in other EU countries. The residence rights apply equally to UK citizens in the EU. The definition of what constitutes residence is set out in EU rules that were agreed when we were a Member State.

Steerpike: Another admission that we have ceded control of our laws. If two UK lawyers need to settle an argument about what a word means by looking it up in the EU’s books then that is EU control of our law. As someone who wanted clarity for EU nationals living here, it’s not clear why the government didn’t, if only for their sake, just spell it out here.

18. Britain is granted the power to send a civil servant to Brussels to watch them pass stupid laws which will hurt our economy. (Article 34)

Downing Street: This is about ensuring we are aware of changes to specific provisions about the administration of social security in relation to UK and EU citizens who benefit from the citizens’ rights part of the Agreement.

Steerpike: Another admission. Although, the government could have at least tried to pretend the EU will in future make brilliant laws. But they won’t will they - certainly not after we lose all influence on them.

19. The UK agrees to spend taxpayers’ money telling everyone how wonderful the agreement is. (Article 37)

Downing Street: This is about ensuring that citizens who want to understand their status under the agreement are given that information.

Steerpike: If the UK government wanted citizens to understand their rights under this agreement, why not set them out in this 585-page agreement? But given that we are obliged to spend money on “awareness-raising campaigns,” why not print this Withdrawal Agreement and send a copy to every voter? After all, it’s their power over their government that is at stake.

20. Art 40 defines Goods. It seems to include Services and Agriculture. We may come to discover that actually ‘goods’ means everything.

Downing Street: This is a separation provision dealing with the winding-down of EU law at the end of the implementation period for all goods (including agricultural products) but explicitly not services.

Steerpike: That is a stated policy objective of HM Government. But if it is ever going to be real then it needed to be set out here. The government has approved an Agreement without insisting that the EU define three crucial words: agriculture, goods and services. Everyone’s jobs depends on this and the government has failed to define them here - which is where they are needed. Without a strong and binding definition here the EU, and the ECJ, can interpret them as widely as they like.

21. Articles 40-49 practically mandate the UK’s ongoing membership of the Customs Union in all but name.

Downing Street: This is not correct. These are separation provisions which only deal with goods and customs movements that happen to be taking place at the end of the implementation period. Once these goods and customs movements have been completed, the articles have no application to future movements.

Steerpike: IF the transition period ends and IF the backstop doesn’t start.

22. The UK will be charged to receive the data/information we need in order to comply with EU law. (Article 50)

Downing Street: We are paying for continued limited access to EU databases that we felt was beneficial to the UK to retain as we are winding down our cooperation.

Steerpike: Another admission.

23. The EU will continue to set rules for UK intellectual property law (Article 54 to 61)

Downing Street: No, they won’t. EU trade marks, registered and unregistered Community designs and Community plant variety rights currently give protection throughout the EU with a single right. These rights will cease to be valid in the UK after the end of the implementation period. The UK will therefore grant national rights in place of existing EU rights so that right holders do not have any loss of rights or gap in protection in the UK.

Steerpike: The UK will grant mirroring rights. The freedom to copy and paste someone else’s law is not the freedom to make law.

24. The UK will effectively be bound by a non-disclosure agreement swearing us to secrecy regarding any EU developments we have paid to be part. This is not mutual. The EU is not bound by such measures. (Article 74)

Downing Street: The EU will continue to treat any UK data or information provided before we left the EU as it if were that of a member state as set out in Article 73. They are also bound by Union law, as defined at the end of the implementation period, to protect classified information from the UK.

Steerpike: As if we were a Member State. Of the EU. With the EU on top and in charge.

25. The UK is bound by EU rules on procurement rules – which effectively forbids us from seeking better deals elsewhere. (Articles 75 to 78)

Downing Street: No, this is about procurement activity underway before the end of the implementation period. It has no impact whatsoever on future UK procurement arrangements.

Steerpike: As the end of the ‘implementation period’ is not set out and cannot be decided by the UK alone, the UK government should be worried.

26. We give up all rights to any data the EU made with our money (Art. 103)

Downing Street: No. This is about the protection of EU owned archives of information currently stored in the UK.

Steerpike: We were Members of the EU. The UK government gave away our right to argue for accrued assets, they did so promising us a good deal in return. As we do not have a good deal, why can we not instead get some of our jointly owned assets back?

27. The EU decide capital projects (too broadly defined) the UK is liable for. (Art. 144)

Downing Street: This is a negotiated financial settlement. It covers the UK’s financial commitments to the EU and the EU’s financial commitments to the UK. The UK and the EU have reached agreement on the components of the settlement, the methodology for calculating the UK’s share and the payment schedule.

Steerpike: The UK government has agreed to let the EU set the sum (in Euros).

28. The UK is bound by EU state aid laws until future agreement – even in the event of an agreement, this must wait four years to be valid. (Article 93)

Downing Street: No, this is not right. The new UK state aid regime will be in place from the end of the implementation period. This provision is about state aid granted under EU law before the end of the implementation period. It has absolutely nothing to do with state aid law applying in the UK afterwards.

Steerpike: But in this Agreement is that there is no ‘afterwards’. There is either eternal transition or backstop.

29. Similar advantages and immunities are extended to all former MEPs and to former EU official more generally. (Articles 106-116)

Downing Street: Again, it would not be right summarily to remove rights from individuals built up over 40 years of membership.

Steerpike: See Mr S's rebuttal at point 10.

30. The UK is forbidden from revealing anything the EU told us or tells us about the finer points of deal and its operation. (Article 105).

Downing Street: No this is incorrect. This article is about the legal immunities which attach to EU documents located in the UK. Such provisions are very common in treaties with international organisations.

Steerpike: And it applies from the beginning of this agreement, throughout transition (so from 20XX to 20XX) - including many crucial moments of the agreement itself.

31. Any powers the UK parliament might have had to mitigate EU law are officially removed. (Article 128)

Downing Street: This is solely about the implementation period which is a standstill arrangement during which EU law will apply to the UK as if it were a Member State.

Steerpike: You said it. So why pretend that the UK is “leaving the EU” on March 29 2019? Is this not the textbook definition of what some MPs call “Brexit in name only?”

32. The UK shall be liable for any “outstanding commitments” after 2022 (Article 142(2) expressly mentions pensions, which gives us an idea as to who probably negotiated this). The amount owed will be calculated by the EU. (Articles 140-142)

Downing Street: The UK Government has said that it will pay a fair financial settlement as part of our withdrawal from the EU, which is substantially lower than the sums originally quoted. This includes residual liabilities such as pensions where the UK will contribute towards those pension rights accrued on or before 31 December 2020, but not after. The UK will not have to pay for liabilities that remaining Member States would not have to pay for.

Steerpike: Of course we do not have to pay more the Member States are liable for in total - that is not reassuring. What is shocking is that we would have to pay at all.

33. The UK will be liable for future EU lending. As anyone familiar with the EU’s financials knows, this is not good. (Article 143)

Downing Street: This is about a fair financial settlement as we leave the EU. The UK will not finance any commitments that do not require funding from Member States, and will receive a share of any financial benefits that would have fallen to it had it remained a Member State.

Steerpike: So yes. The UK government hereby admits we won’t control our money.

34. The UK will remain liable for capital projects approved by the European Investment Bank. (Article 150).

Downing Street: The UK Government has said that it will pay a fair financial settlement. This includes its share of liabilities as at the end of 2020, such as guarantees on EU and European Investment Bank (EIB) financial operations ensuring loans to businesses and projects in the UK are protected. The UK will not have to pay for liabilities that remaining Member States would not have to pay for. The UK will receive a share of funds that accrue to the EU budget from activities that were agreed during the period of membership.

Steerpike: Some confusion here: this was our negotiating position. This is what has now been given away in order to get this deal.

35. The UK will remain a ‘party’ (i.e. cough up money) for the European Development Fund. (Articles 152-154)

Downing Street: The UK will continue to participate in the current European Development Fund (EDF), which covers the same period as the 2014-20 budget plan. The majority of the current EDF has already been committed and forms part of the UK’s overall commitment on Overseas Development Assistance, supporting low income countries. UK Overseas Territories will benefit from the current EDF until its closure, and from previous EDFs until their closure.

Steerpike: Taking back control of your money means spending it as you want to.

36. And the EU continues to calculate how much money the UK should pay it. So thank goodness Brussels does not have any accountancy issues.

Downing Street: This is a negotiated financial settlement. It covers the UK’s financial commitments to the EU and the EU’s financial commitments to the UK. The UK and the EU have reached agreement on the components of the settlement, the methodology for calculating the UK’s share and the payment schedule. The Government has negotiated arrangements to provide assurance on payments made under the financial settlement. This includes the right to appoint auditors working on the Government’s behalf to assure the implementation of the financial settlement.

Steerpike: And if these UK auditors disagree about the sum owed, then what? Oh, guess what: ambiguity.

37. The UK will remain bound (i.e coughing up money) to the European Union Emergency Trust Fund – which deals with irregular migration (i.e. refugees) and displaced persons heading to Europe. (Article 155)

Downing Street: The UK will honour commitments it has previously given for the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

Steerpike: Some might question the EU track record on helping vulnerable people and might think that the UK could use our money to help those people in a better way - including refugees in Turkey. What we have agreed to is to pay the money paid directly to the Turkish government - many question that payment and it is not clear why our right to stop it has been given away.

38. The agreement will be policed by ‘the Authority’ – a new UK-based body with ‘powers equivalent to those of the European Commission’. (Article 159)

Downing Street: No, this is just wrong. This is about the establishment of an independent authority to monitor the application of the citizens’ rights provisions. It is in place of the EU’s view which was that the European Commission should do this. It is only right that the UK government is held to account for how it implements the rights agreed here of citizens who came with the wholly legitimate expectation of being able to stay.

Steerpike: So another admission. It is inconceivable that the UK would agree to let US citizens be treated this way - but just wait until the ECJ defines EU citizen to include UK citizens after we leave ...

39. The EU admits, in Art. 184, that it is in breach of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which oblige it to “conclude an agreement” of the terms of UK leaving the EU. We must now, it seems, “negotiate expeditiously the agreements governing their future relationship.” And if the EU does not? We settle down to this Agreement.

Downing Street: No. Article 50 requires the EU to conclude an agreement setting out arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. “The framework for its future relationship” is what will be set out in the accompanying political declaration.

Steerpike: We have accepted the EU re-defining its own duty as narrowly as possible. It was for the UK government to point out the words “must” “conclude” and “taking account” in order to push for one agreement and to hold a breach of duty claim over the ECJ. It was for the UK to point out that the only conceivable reason for the wording of Art. 50 is to protect the weaker member state from the remaining other states. It was for the UK to reference that Greenland leaving was the only prior example and that Art. 50 was written to protect future Greenlands (i.e. the UK). The UK Government has given that extremely strong hand away in return for: nothing.

40. And, of course, the UK will agree to pay £40bn to receive all of these ‘privileges’. (Article 138)

Downing Street: The Government has always been clear that any agreement on financial matters should represent a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing Member State, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.

Steerpike: And the 52 per cent of voters were clear that, if we cough up this cash, we should have actually left the EU and that we should get a trade deal. We’ve agreed to pay, but the EU has not agreed to let go - and in this document it counts the many ways in which we will not be going anywhere.