Britain has ‘right’ as sovereign nation to change Brexit agreement, says TUAEU

Britain has ‘right’ as sovereign nation to
change Brexit agreement, says TUAEU

This article on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and government proposals for a Single UK Market Bill, by Doug Nichols appeared in the Morning Star in Sept 2020. Given the current impasses around Britain's negitioations and trade agreements, it is worth another visit.


BRITAIN has the right to unilaterally change the terms of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (WA) now that it is a sovereign nation, according to Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Labour and the SNP have joined some lawyers in protest against plans to override parts of the WA. The government’s most senior lawyer, Jonathan Jones, reportedly even quit over the move to modify the agreement.

Serious concerns were raised that the new Internal Markets Bill would break international law.

The Bill, published on Wednesday, would axe requirements for new customs arrangements in Northern Ireland and would end the WA’s legitimacy in areas such as state aid.

Northern Ireland is currently meant to adhere to some EU regulations after the transition period ends on December 31, in a bid to stop a “hard border” with the Republic.

The government said that the Bill is necessary to preserve peace in Ireland if a trade deal with the EU is not struck.

TUAEU secretary Doug Nichols said: “The right of sovereign nations to withdraw from any treaty that it deems to be against its national interest is enshrined in international law.






“Such action does not make them illegal or involve bad faith; they are merely a recognition of a changed situation.”

Mr Nichols said that the government was right to amend some of the terms as it was signed some eight months ago.

“In fact, it would have been a dereliction of its duty if it didn’t,” he added.

“After all, when [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson signed that Withdrawal Agreement, the UK was a member of the EU and, by definition, not sovereign.

“Once it left the EU and became independent it has the right — in fact, the duty — to revisit treaties that were signed when the nation lacked sovereignty, when the balance of forces favoured the ‘other side.’

“Unlike the Ten Commandments, international treaties are not written in stone.

“They are often amended or revoked, otherwise international relations will still be covered by treaties signed in the 17th or 18th centuries, if not before.

“It is always the case that when a country becomes independent through peaceful means or by force of revolution, it revisits and, more often, unilaterally withdraws from the treaties that the country had signed prior to independence.”


A Plan for Jobs in UK Mufacturing


A Plan for Jobs in UK Manufacturing


Unite offers seven ‘shovel ready’ projects to save jobs, create jobs and meet our climate obligations.

Download booklet

Unite Logo


Our economy is being reshaped at an unprecedented pace – but there are also significant opportunities for UK manufacturing to genuinely build back better.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed long held fears over short-termism, failures to invest in training and skills as well as plant, tooling and technology and the off-shoring of component manufacture, leaving a dangerous lack of resilience in UK supply chains.
  • The UK’s departure from the single market and customs union demands that we rapidly establish new trading relationships at a global level, while securing investment in UK manufacturing from global corporations and government.
  • And perhaps the greatest challenge of them all – the climate crisis – requires comprehensive action without delay if we are to transition our economy in time to meet even the modest targets of the Paris

Accord, while protecting jobs and putting workers and our communities at the centre of any planning for a greener economy.

Unite’s manufacturing members recognise that there is no time to lose in recasting our economy to meet these triple challenges.

The country is gripped by an economic crisis more intense than anything encountered in living memory, as we battle to protect the health of the nation. Throughout the pandemic our shop stewards and officers have worked hard to produce the goods and products we need while providing the services we rely on, negotiating innovative arrangements to protect jobs and create safe workplaces from short-time working to repurposing our factories to produce everything – from ventilators to PPE in support of our NHS.

But much more has to be done. Our competitors have committed far greater resources and long-term support to their manufacturing industries, working in true partnership with businesses and unions in a way that remains unthinkable to our Westminster government.

Today’s advanced manufacturing jobs and our research, design and engineering excellence must sit at the heart of a renewed economy, producing what we need here in the UK while exporting high value product across the globe. We are at the cutting edge of the design and technological developments necessary to green and clean our towns and cities, seas and skies.

Working with Acuity Analysis, Unite has identified seven projects that, with government engagement, will ensure that UK manufacturing continues to play its part in our national story.

  • If government focuses immediate-term investment and support on addressing the UK’s poor quality housing and on building the battery and component factories needed to support new electric vehicles, tens of thousands of new, sustainable jobs will be created.
  • A renewal scheme for the airline industry will retain our world-class engineers, as they construct the next generation of aircraft powered by hydrogen and synthetic fuels.
  • Carbon capture from our heavy industries like steel, ceramics and construction material, is not only climate necessary but alone can create 68,000 jobs over the next 25 years.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. To arrive at these seven schemes, we asked ourselves a simple question: where should government invest in order to create jobs quickly and with the greatest social and climate benefit?

We call these ‘shovel ready’ projects our ‘Magnificent Seven’. The opportunities and return on investment that they will give this country now, and for future generations, are tremendous. These projects deserve support from all those who want our economy back on its feet, our depleted tax base assisted to grow, and hope and opportunity for working people. The full economic analysis on which we base our calculations can be read in Acuity Analysis’ extensive paper here.

2020 has been an abysmal year for jobs. So many have been lost and many will not be recovered. Workers and communities urgently need a plan for jobs. Unite’s manufacturing members have one.


By Steve Turner
Assistant general secretary, manufacturing Unite the union

Britain’s Lack of Industrial Strategy

Britain's Lack of Industrial Strategy


GMB Scotland shows that Britain’s lack of industrial strategy has been laid bare for all to see.

Read more here.

Rebuilding Requires Unity
Oppose Scottish Independence

This is a letter that was published in the Independent on the 11th May:

It is an admission of weakness when Nicola Sturgeon says she is completely focused on dealing with the pandemic yet continually raises the question of a second independence referendum.

It reflects the fear that once the pandemic is contained, Scots will find that they have more pressing matters concerning the rebuilding of the country, something that can only be realised in cooperation between all parts of the UK, rather than spending time talking about independence, which is designed to separate them from their sisters and brothers in the rest of the UK, a path that can only lead to economic stagnation and continued social deprivation.

The government is right to insist that now is not the time to talk of a new referendum and if the SNP continues to highlight its plan to force another referendum, it will alienate itself from the population and begin to lose support.

Fawzi Ibrahim