A spooky sense of déjà vu arrived with Halloween this week, as Boris Johnson called another solemn press conference and announced another national lockdown. From Thursday, we will be pretty much back where we were in March, putting life on pause and hoping that Covid-19 will leave us all alone.
The depressing news of a second lockdown is of course leading all the news bulletins. Meanwhile, we continue to wait and see how the Brexit negotiations will turn out. Brexit might have been driven out of the news by Covid anyway but since the talks have gone into some sort of news black-out – what used to be called the ‘Tunnel’ – there is little to report. On the other had a news black-out suggests that serious negotiating is taking place. Boris Johnson badly needs some good news but let’s hope his desire for progress does not result in him giving away too much.
The world also watches and waits as the US enters the last few days of the race for the Presidency. All signs suggest that we will wake up to a Biden victory on Wednesday, but then Donald Trump has made something of a habit of confounding political expectations. Either way, it is to be hoped that the victor will pursue a productive relationship with Britain, including a mutually beneficial free trade deal.
For now, we leave you with this cheering report on Britain’s growing connections with Africa. It is this sort of shift away from Europe and towards a more global outlook which will allow a post-Brexit, post-Covid Britain to open up new opportunities and achieve renewed prosperity. Bring on global Britain!
A letter was published in the Daily Telegraph this week from 30 of our contributors urging the Government not to make damaging concessions in the face of EU intransigence in the trade talks. The text of the letter is as follows:
We support the government in standing firm against the unrealistic and indeed vindictive demands of the EU in the Brexit trade negotiations. The EU want zero tariff trade in goods, where they have a huge surplus in trade with the UK but offer little in return on services where they have a deficit. Their demands that the UK observes EU rules on state aid and a regulatory playing field go well beyond what they have agreed with other nations and of course they demand that their own courts act as judge and jury in disputes. The EU also refuses to recognise the UK product certification processes which have been acceptable for decades past although they accept them for Canada. In addition, although trade agreements do not usually give access to partners’ natural resources, they demand a large share of fish in UK waters. Finally, demands that EU officials be present at internal borders of the UK to monitor trade into Northern Ireland are unnecessary and should be resisted.
Parts of the business community are rightly concerned about barriers to trade and customs delays and it would better if an amicable agreement could be signed. However, the mood of the EU, is not, and has not been, one of mutually beneficial co-operation. Unless the EU has a last-minute change of heart, we should conclude that the gains from free trade in goods are not large enough to merit the UK acceding to these onerous terms.
On the website this week
An Australian view of the UK-EU trade negotiations, by Peter Anderson
Concern about the current trade negotiations with the EU spreads far and wide. Australian accountant and lawyer Peter Anderson airs his concerns in a communication from Melbourne.
“It has been interesting to note that, throughout the Brexit drama of the past 12 months, even Daily Telegraph journalists seem to have presented their commentaries and observations through an EU lens.”
Will the Remainer Undead never give up? By Briefings for Britain
The Remainer media are still publicising flawed and highly negative predictions for the economic impact of Brexit. Unfortunately, this is likely to continue long after we have left the EU’s customs union and single market.
“The half-life of these flawed reports looks likely to last for decades. Let’s hope that economic reality undermines their case more rapidly than political reality killed off the Jacobites.”
Key points this week
The Dog that didn’t Bark: Brexit and Russia
Opponents of Brexit have frequently sought to question the legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum by pinning the outcome to Russian interference. Despite the director-general of MI5 disavowing any insinuation that Russia interfered in the Brexit referendum, a group of Remain politicians with the legal firm Leigh Day and non-profit group the Citizens have launched a legal challenge to the government’s failure to hold an investigation. Though this move is framed as a disinterested move to force an inquiry into Russian interference and strengthen democracy, the personal opposition of many of those involved to Brexit (as well as the open comparison with the US election of 2016) make it quite clear that the Brexit Referendum is the target. Yet it is raking over these arguments again that is the true threat to the public interest, callously picking at the wound that three years of wrangling over the 2016 result produced in British political life.
Aside from this dangerous attempt to stoke division, the attempt to bring a case under the 2005 Inquiries Act is relies on the allegation that failing to hold an inquiry is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right of citizens to live in a society with free and fair elections. Though the insinuation that the UK is in any danger of losing free and fair elections is patently absurd, such campaigners might want to reflect on the consequences before pursuing their arguments further. After all, it was Remain campaigners who massively outspent Leave, distributed some equally misleading claims (George Osborne claiming immediate budget cuts would be necessary after a Leave vote), and enjoyed the support of the media, political and commercial establishments. If voters were manipulated, it was not by a Russian Spectre – but a British and Brussels-backed one. It is their refusal to be so cowed that is instead firm testimony to the strength of British democracy.
Key Points is compiled by a Cambridge PhD student.
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 Brexit still 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 – for example, in rural areas, articles on the threat to British agriculture. Alternatively, make an appointment to speak to them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
As Boris Johnson said in in his post-election address, 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 will be good for the UK economy and for our own democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
An Oxbridge PhD Student
Dr Graham Gudgin
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Professor Robert Tombs
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge