A report on EU expansion commissioned by France and Germany was presented to European politicians in Brussels this week. It suggested offering four different ‘tiers’ of membership, naming the UK as a possible new joiner. Among reforms deemed ‘necessary’ for expansion, the report recommended a larger EU budget and stronger ‘rule of law’ requirements.
The Prime Minister announced exemptions and delays to several key green policies, including the ban on diesel and petrol cars, alongside a 50% increase in cash incentives to replace gas boilers. The legal commitment to being ‘Net Zero’ by 2050 remains unchanged.
Sunak puts the brakes on electric cars.
Keir Starmer said that, if he becomes Prime Minister, he would introduce legislation requiring ministers to consult the Office for Budget Responsibility before any changes to tax or spending plans. The policy was endorsed by George Osborne. Were it to go ahead, it would constitute a shift of power away from democratically elected politicians towards unelected bureaucrats.
The EU Trade Minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, is in China to discuss EU-China trade. Relations have been deteriorating as European officials have blamed Chinese restrictions on European businesses for a growing trade deficit and have announced their intention to ‘de-risk’ their relationship with China. The EU recently announced a probe into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles, to the chagrin of Chinese officials.
Sino-European relations sour.
The arrival of more than 8,000 migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa has reignited debates about European immigration policy. Ursula Von der Leyen visited the island alongside Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and called for a “European solution”. Suella Braverman said she would raise illegal migration on an upcoming trip to America.
Matthew Lynn for the Spectator on why Labour will regret handing more power to the OBR.
Julian Jessop for the Telegraph on failing economic arguments against Brexit.
Andrew Lillico for CapX on the Bank of England’s decision not to raise interest rates.
Gina Miller: Can she really talk us into rejoining the EU? By Brian Morris
Gina Miller became a star of the Remain campaign with her successful legal challenges to the Boris Johnson government. Now she campaigns for the UK to rejoin the EU. But the hurdles she faces illustrate how difficult it will be to rejoin an organisation we voted to leave only seven years ago.
Remember when John Major said of one of the Maastricht Treaty Conservative rebels that every time he heard his name ‘I hear the sound of white coats flapping’? Remember how these Tory MPs were dubbed a gang of swivel-eyed obsessives who would stop at nothing in opposing our integration with Europe, including, on one occasion, smuggling a sick colleague from hospital into the Commons to win a vote? Welcome to their counterparts from the Remain camp. Those who, like Gina Miller, are now working to reverse the referendum result and take us back into the EU.
It is probably a mistake to take Keir Starmer’s OBR announcement as a policy promise. The intention is to project an aura of fiscal responsibility and remind people about the Truss-Kwarteng mini-budget (and how the Conservatives can’t be trusted to “run” the economy). It is hardly a promise that he needs to worry about keeping – will anyone remember he made it by the time he gets into office? And if anyone does, will anyone still care?
What is puzzling is why ceding power to anonymous, unelected bureaucrats is seen as a responsible thing to do. It is the opposite. Democratic institutions are not a foil against bad governments, but they do make sure bad governments can’t stick around. As soon as one fails, it has only until the next election before new people with new ideas win an election and take over. In an institution like the OBR, in which there is no way for the people who suffer as a result of poor performance to hold those who perform poorly to account, bad governance can last indefinitely.
Democracy also preserves trust in public institutions. So long as people think that they have some control over what goes on, they will have a reason to believe that what goes on is intended to be in their best interest. If they realise that their means of control has gone or that there is a group who have monopolised power, their reasons fall away and their trust goes with it.
Unfortunately, many influential people in Britain appear to have lost faith in democracy. They think that checks and balances must be rolled out at the level of individual policies to ensure the worst excesses of an uninformed and fickle electorate can never be indulged. The idea that parliament and ministers’ power over taxation and spending might be limited by a beefed-up OBR is a comfort to them. We can only hope that once Starmer has real power, the idea of giving any of it away will seem less appealing, and that this policy will quietly be dropped.
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring
Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion also continues over on Facebook.
How you can help
There is much about Britain’s relationship with Europe that remains to be decided. Our MPs listen to their constituents. Do continue to send them links to our articles, especially on matters relevant to your constituency. Alternatively, make an appointment to speak to them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
Yet it is also time for unity and reconciliation. Keep reading our posts and share links to our quality content to help others understand how leaving the EU has benefited the UK economy and democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate