The government is reportedly in the final stage of talks with the DUP over the Windsor Framework. The government is hoping to convince DUP leaders to return to Stormont despite their concerns over the internal trade barriers that will be set up when the Framework is implemented.
Nth time lucky for Stormont?
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a report predicting that taxes in the UK will amount to 37% of GDP by the time of the next election. If their prediction is correct, it would make this Parliament responsible for an increase in levels of taxation larger than any of its predecessors in the modern era. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ruled out tax cuts in the near future, but suggested that savings from welfare reform could allow for tax cuts further ahead.
Regulators have approved a new oil and gas project in the North Sea. It will constitute a direct investment of more than £8 billion and will require the creation of 1,600 new jobs. The news was not well received by environmental activists who don’t realise that the carbon footprint of importing natural gas is four times that of gas produced domestically.
7 years after the UK voted to leave the EU, the UK has been ordered to pay the EU £28 million by a European court for transgressing EU rules. The ruling relates to the alleged failure to enforce EU rules in Northern Ireland regarding fuel duties on fuel for commercial craft as opposed to private pleasure craft.
The White House said it was monitoring the deployment of Serbian troops on its border with Kosovo. The number of NATO troops deployed on peacekeeping activities to Northern Kosovo has increased as a result.
Briefings co-editor Graham Gudgin was invested as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in Windsor Castle. The citation was for services to economic development in Northern Ireland.
Jonathan Sumption on the case for leaving the ECHR in the Spectator.
India’s fake growth story by Ashoka Mody
India is seen in the UK as an important trade partner in achieving global Britain but Princeton economist Professor Ashoka Mody argues that in covering up the growing struggles faced by the vast majority of Indians, Indian authorities are playing a cynical and dangerous game.
Indian authorities are choosing to dismiss inconvenient facts so that they can parade seemingly flattering images and headline figures ahead of the G20 summit. But they are playing a cynical, dangerous game. Slippery national account statistics betray a desire to wish away slowing growth, rising inequalities, and grim job prospects. The authorities would do well to recognize – and reconsider – the path they have set India on.
The Times gives a LibDem Remainer a free run by Briefings for Britain
Last Monday, The Times ran a long column by FT journalist and Libdem candidate Edward Luce claiming that Brexit had damaged the UK economy. It then refused to print a letter refuting Luce’s case.
OK, fair-minded Leavers might say, everyone is entitled to his own opinion. A debate on this important issue is necessary. However, a debate requires that both sides are able to present their case, but the Times has failed to do this. The letter below responding to Luce’s inaccurate claims was sent to the Times but was not published. Luce’s claims have thus gone unanswered in the Times and the public has once again remained misinformed.
Lord Sumption’s excellent article in this week’s Spectator makes a strong case for leaving the ECHR and exposes a power-grabbing technique favoured by European officials: treaties intended to govern one area are reinterpreted as applying much more widely. But it would be wrong to think that leaving the ECHR would alone solve any first-order problems of pushing policies through Whitehall.
If the government and the civil service were determined to implement, for example, the Rwanda policy, there is very little the ECHR could do to stop them. Most countries that come under its jurisdiction, including Germany and France, have failed to implement ‘leading’ judgements in the past 10 years. Some, including Spain and Italy, have implemented fewer than half the ‘leading’ judgements that the court has delivered. Some serial offenders, like Ukraine, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, continually flout ECHR rulings with little or no consequences.
The reason why ECHR rulings can make Whitehall grind to a halt is that they are a convenient excuse to bin policies deemed uncouth, not because the court is a powerful institution. The history of the Brexit negotiations should show that institutional inertia can be wielded very effectively against policies that are unpopular amongst civil servants. The real problem ministers face when trying to enact policies is not a small group of judges in Strasbourg but a large group of Westminster insiders.
Restoring the executive power of democratically elected politicians ought to be a priority for all parties. That a government elected on a promise to ‘take back control’ has done so little on this front is especially disappointing. Repeated elections have shown that there is a feeling amongst the electorate that power has been sucked out of democratic institutions and that promising to reverse this trend is very popular.
Though leaving the ECHR would be a good start, if politicians really wanted to seize power back from the bureaucrats in the name of democracy they should focus on reforming Whitehall. Until they do, they will always be hamstrung by recalcitrance from within.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate