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John Longworth is director general of pro-Brexit think tank the Centre for Brexit Policy. He was formerly director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and a Conservative MEP.
The referendum campaign was fought by Leavers above all else on the issue of sovereignty. Taking control of our laws, borders and money was central to why the people of Britain voted to leave the EU. Nothing could be clearer.
It is therefore a major scandal that the Remain establishment and the U.K. parliament did everything possible to undermine the will of the people and to make leaving as painful as could be. The Remainers will always be shamed for shackling the country to a poison pill: the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. Alongside the declaration on a future relationship, the Withdrawal Agreement remains to contaminate our opportunities and our relations with the EU for decades to come — our future as a nation.
So toxic is the agreement that it would be quite legitimate in international law to repudiate the treaty, and that is exactly what the U.K. government should do if the EU refuses to adjust its implications.
Theresa May’s government clearly saw executing Brexit as an exercise in damage-limitation and did not embrace it as an opportunity, a new beginning. The government worked hand-in-glove with Remain elements of the British establishment and in cahoots with Brussels and foreign powers to come up with the infamous 2018 Chequers deal, the basis for the Withdrawal Agreement.
It is outrageous that Germany should now seek what amounts to reparations from the U.K.