'EU playing with fire!' Mark Francois answers Express reader's questions on Brexit


Mark, did we actually leave the EU? If so why are we still living under the EU Rules and Regulations, why are we still paying VAT, why are we still paying money to the EU, why are we still negotiating a Brexit deal?

Yes. We have legally left the institutions of the EU, no longer have MEPs in the European Parliament and are paying off any outstanding historical dues regarding our previous membership. So, we have left – but in order to deliver the benefits of Brexit there is still more work to do.

Why are we still allowing super trawlers into our waters? Why do we do nothing about it?

The Common Fisheries Policy was a disaster and we are well out of it. Our fishermen now get a much increased catch and their French counterparts a much reduced one, despite the pre-election protestations of President Macron! There is still an issue regarding supertrawlers, which we are negotiating on.

Why doesn’t the UK take the EU to court or to the World Trade Organisation for unfairly treating the UK differently than the way they treat other countries – outside of the Brexit agreement?

Despite the doom-laden predictions of many Remainers we left the UK with a deal rather than none and then secured another one, with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. We only achieved this though with a tough but fair negotiating stance and we should be prepared to be equally robust in any future disputes with the EU – as history shows that actually brings results.

Having read ” Spartan Victory”, it was clear how deep Mays and Remoaners deception actually went. My question would be having got rid of the backstop and replaced it with what was supposed to be a temporary Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), when and how will the European Research Group (ERG) hold the Government to the promises they made you?

My book, “Spartan Victory: The Inside Story of the Battle for Brexit” (which is available on Amazon!) does was it says on the tin. It takes the reader behind the scenes and explains what was really happening as the ERG fought a three year battle to uphold the results of the 2016 Referendum – including our negotiations with No 10, under both Theresa May and then Boris Johnson. It is true that, in the end, we reluctantly voted for the NIP but only as an alternative to the dreaded backstop, so that we could, finally, get out of the EU, which we then did.

However – as the book recounts – Boris promised all of us at the time that the NIP would only be temporary and would eventually be negotiated away – and we in the ERG fully expect him and his Minister’s to keep his promise.

Why should I continue to support Conservatives when the PM has not got Brexit done and saddled the UK and especially Northern Ireland with horrendous treaties?

In fairness to him, the PM has managed to “Get Brexit Done” but the country and indeed the world was then hit by Covid, which has stymied progress on a whole range of fronts. However, the ERG has been warning No 10 about the lack of progress on the NIP for over a year and, if nothing is done very soon, we will probably see Sinn Fein/IRA taking control of the devolved Government of Northern Ireland within six weeks – on Boris’ watch.

How do you see our relationship with the French in the future with current co-operations and long term contestations?

President Macron is facing re-election in the next few weeks and we should probably view many of his recent statements in that light. That said, he is personally committed to an increasingly Federalised EU, which may yet evolve over the next few years. If the EU really does try to become a Federal state, In which individual nations are completely subsumed, that would only serve to underline that the ERG and the wider Brexiteer movement were right all along.

Mark, do you really believe that Truss or Johnson will ever trigger Article 16?

We should have triggered Article 16, as a statement of intent, months ago – but even if you do, it only “buys time” for an eventual solution. However, if the EU continue to be intransigent over the Protocol there is now a very real risk that the Unionist community will overwhelmingly withdraw their support – and that the Good Friday Agreement itself will eventually collapse as a result. The EU are “playing with fire” with these negotiations and our own Minister’s need to seriously raise their game and highlight the risks involved.


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