Briefings for Brexit Newsletter 4

Briefings For Brexit Holdings

March 30th 2018
Dear Subscriber,

If you haven’t caught up with this week’s new content on we provide a summary below.

Our media appearances

Graham Gudgin has had a busy week in Northern Ireland appearing on a hour-long debate on BBC NI TV’s flagship current affairs Spotlight programme, and on several and BBC Radio Ulster broadcasts. He argued the case that the Irish border problem has been hugely exaggerated. The Irish common travel area, a probable UK-EU free-trade agreement, electronic customs clearing (as shown in the EU’s own ‘Smart Borders 2.0’ report authored by the former head of the World Customs Association) and the fact of complete regulatory alignment are enough to solve most of the border problems. The great majority of academic and professional opinion in NI is pro-remain so a pro-Brexit view-point on the BBC NI is an important corrective.


Four New Blogs

Our two latest blog posts are by Professor David Collins on “A New UK – EU Free-Trade Agreement” and Sir Peter Marshall on “The Light at the End of the Tunnel”.

Professor David Collins: A New UK – EU Free-Trade Agreement (

David Collins, Professor of International Economic Law, City, University of London argues that EU arguments against ‘cherry-picking’ in trade agreements is inappropriate. He explains:

“..There is no such thing as a standard FTA and that aiming for another (EU-Canada) CETA is rather unambitious. No two treaty partners have the same relationship or same trade objectives and those of the UK and Canada are quite distinct. For a UK-EU FTA the EU’s focus will understandably be on goods while the UK’s is on services (where each enjoys a respective trade surplus). ..”

He concludes: “Although it is unquestionably true that departure from the EU will mean that the UK’s economic relationship with the EU will be diminished, there is no reason why the trading relationship cannot remain strong, stronger in fact than that between many of the EU’s existing trade partners. Rather than mourn what was lost, it is time to cheer up and aim high. The UK-EU FTA can become the new “gold standard” trade treaty for others to follow.”

Sir Peter Marshall: The Light at the End of the Tunnel (

Peter Marshall, was a   member of the British Diplomatic Service from 1949 to1983.  He was successively Economic Under-Secretary at the FCO, Deputy UK Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and Permanent Representative in Geneva. In 1982 he was elected Commonwealth Secretary-General (Economic) an appointment he held until 1988.

He assess the progress of Brexit one year on from triggering Article 50 as  “very positive”He writes:

 “The European Council (under Art. 50) readily adopted on March 23 the further Guidelines prepared to reflect the progress made. Although they [the guidelines] quite properly reiterate various provisions of their predecessors, they represent overall an enormous advance on them. It is a testimonial to the outcome of that meeting that the Prime Minister felt able to write the same day to “UK Businesses” a very positive and informative letter about the way ahead.”

“It is natural that the question of the Irish border should have gained great prominence.  In essence it is a problem, familiar in international negotiations, of reconciling two apparently conflicting sovereignties or integrities. – in this case the integrity of the Single Market on the one hand, and the integrity of the United Kingdom on the other.   Just as the British Government has made it clear that it has no intention of impugning the former, so our partners will surely recognise that it would be a grave threat to their own long term interests, as well as a breach of their responsibilities towards another member state, to seek to undermine the latter.  Happily, both sides want a solution.

A further two new blogs give a weighty analysis of the recently signed Transition Agreement and where the UK stands constitutionally on Brexit. There is real intellectual force and analysis in these two blogs and it again illustrates that Brexiteers can give reasoned credible arguments of historical significance for wanting to leave the EU.

Robert Lee: After the Transition Agreement. Deal or No deal

He concludes:

“There will be many moments of drama yet to come. The talks will probably go to the wire. Difficulties will probably emerge that nobody has thought of yet. However, for the above reasons I am confident that the UK will in the end achieve an FTA with the EU which is at least Canada plus, plus –that is including a substantial agreement on services, including financial services. There will be a security partnership – we have too much to offer the EU for this not to happen. There will be agreements on aviation, intellectual property rights, education links, nuclear fuels, and the like. We will regain control of our border, laws, money – and fishing waters. Recent events make it clear that the UK fishing industry cannot be ignored – too many  Conservative MP’s, including probably all Scottish Tories, would vote against a deal which tried to do so. Mrs May has now pledged that the UK fishing industry will be re-built. The news that the UK has recently taken delivery of the first of five £116m gunboats for the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron is an indication of real intent.

So, it’s going to be a bumpy ride folks, but I think the “no-deal” scenario is now very unlikely!”

You might also enjoy Robert Lee’s footnote on the Passport debate and who should manufacture them.

 “I am of that older generation that used to have a blue British passport, and will be applying for one as soon as they are available. The government’s decision to prioritise this change was much mocked by some anti-Brexiteers, and the recent announcement that these passports are to be made by a Franco-Dutch company was cue for much giggling from the same quarter. This amusement pictures the disgruntlement caused to Brexiteers by this decision, who they believe to be inward looking and “nativist”. A few Brexiteers have indeed harrumphed in this way. However this passport issue illustrates in small but highly symbolic ways exactly why Brexit will be a success. Firstly, the new passport reminds us that the return of sovereignty is central to Brexit, with all the benefits that will bring. Secondly it demonstrates that Brexit Britain is serious in its intention to be an outward looking nation, providing a much needed global lead towards free trade and away from protectionism. So the laugh is actually on those doing the mocking!”

Dr Richard Ekins: Restoring Parliamentary Democracy comes highly recommended.

In a 10,000 word Report also shortened on our Blog page Ekins argues:

“The constitutional lesson of the E.U. is that a constitution is only an effective frame for joint action if it is adopted by a people willing and able to act together, who share a common good—and know they do— and intend jointly to pursue it as one. The British have long had such a constitution and like other free peoples have exercised self-government by way of their representative institutions, which lead and respond to public deliberation with reasoned action. The U.K. joined the EEC in accordance with this constitutional order, but membership was always difficult to square with the principles of parliamentary democracy and the difficulty increased over time. The decision to leave the E.U. is a choice to disengage from the European legal order and thus to restore self-government. The rational appeal, and continuing capacity, of the U.K.’s scheme for parliamentary democracy is illustrated in how the U.K. decided to withdraw from the E.U. and is now implementing that decision.”

We have also been busy on Twitter retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the National News.

John Mills @John_Mills_JML tweeted out his article in Prospect Magazine saying:
The soft Brexit which we are now very likely to end up with will make little difference to the UK’s future economically, or in other ways. Securing the best possible deal is important, but this will not be a seismic shift. My piece for @prospect_uk.”

The Former Chair of Vote Leave concludes: “Will this sort of soft Brexit make much difference to the UK’s future economically or in other ways? Probably not. We will neither prosper much more than we otherwise would have done, as Brexiteer optimists hope, but nor will we suffer the decline which Remain pessimists fear. We will pay a bit less, have a bit more control over our laws, our borders, our trade and maybe our fisheries. We will have rather less influence in EU counsels.

Is this all a seismic change? No, life will go on very much as before. Is it important that we secure the best deal we can? Clearly the answer is yes, but, if we are heading for the sort of compromise outlined above, Brexit won’t be such a significant event after all.”

Journalist Tim Shipman got 2,000 likes for his tweet in reply to claims of foul play on Brexit referendum expenditure:  (Tim Shipman‏ @ShippersUnbound Mar 24)

“1) The Remain campaign colluded with its satellite campaigns every morning 2) The government spent £9m of taxpayers money on Remain campaign literature. How’s that for slanting the result 3) Who is funding this vast months-long investigation? Not just the Observer, I’ll warrant.”
Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby between 1977 and 2015 wrote an article tweeted out by and @BrexitHome which began:

“Comic as it is to see those who opposed a referendum now demanding another to reverse the first, it’s right to wonder why they want to go back to an EU which is so weighted against us. It drains Britain to finance Germany’s greedy surpluses. It hinders negotiations with other countries by dragging French agricultural protection into them. Then it makes us pay higher contributions than are justified by our relative GDP to belong.”
And so it continues……


We have enjoyed your engagement with us on Facebook. Here is a flavour of one recent strand. Commenting on our After Europe, Book Review, by Tara McCormack:

Victor Jones: “It highlights the sad situation that the EU finds itself in – it has become more concerned about its own institutional survival than about the 500 million people whose interests it is supposed to represent – in fact one could argue that we are at the stage where just like the computer HAL in Kubrics film it has begun to turn against those it is supposed to serve – we know how that ended….
Nail head hit!”

David Rice: “more concerned about its own institutional survival than about the 500 million people whose interests it is supposed to represent”.

Victor Jones had also read the whole of Ekins review. He writes: “Just read the whole review – took a good half hour but provides unarguable proof that our vote to leave was 100% legal and that Gina Miller was wrong and so was the supreme court in supporting her. What it illustrates most of all however is how the EU is a failed entity – it is undemocratic and technically bankrupt due to the Euro crisis

One more thing
We are pleased to see more positive reporting of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy. These two BBC programmes scheduled to mark one year since Theresa May triggered Article 50 are well worth a listen and a watch.

You may recall Graham had protested to the BBC that he believed its coverage to be biased against Brexit supporters. So having been through the psychological phases of “denial and anger,” after the 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU we are glad to see the BBC finally arrive at the all-important “acceptance” phase.

BBC Newsnight’s Katie Razzall looked at the impact of Brexit in Cornwall where there was considerable optimism. She spoke to the fishing community. (23 minutes into the programme)
BBC Radio 4 The Brexit Lab, explored how Britain could change after Brexit, and again this programme displayed optimism.

Reporter Ian Martin talked to policy-makers, experts and campaigners about the ideas which could come to fruition after 29 March 2019 including on issues such as the environment. He finds some surprising alliances being forged.

How you can help

As our Mission statement points out: “Most of the founders of this initiative voted for the UK to leave the EU. Our reasons for doing so are not identical and we come from different parts of the political spectrum. However, what has brought us together is a firm conviction that Brexit is about reasserting popular control over decision-making in the United Kingdom. We do not think control is a fantasy or a dream. Nor do we think it is worth sacrificing in exchange for EU membership. We believe not in the sovereignty of governments, which EU membership props up all too well, or of supra-national bodies, but in the sovereignty of the people. After a considerable amount of economic analysis we also do not feel that leaving the EU will be economically damaging, even though a degree of short-term disruption may well be involved.”

Do keep reading our posts, and tell others about us. We want you to share links to our quality content so that others can understand how Brexiting the EU can be good for the UK economy and for our own democratic governance. By sharing our content and articles we hope that we can increase public understanding of the real impact of Brexit on the UK.

We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long term impact of Brexit.
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Briefings For Britain