EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen this week expressed confidence that the UK would rejoin the EU, saying that ‘the direction of travel’ is clear. Perhaps she had in mind the Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, whosaid that closer ties with the EU would be his top priority in office, and that EU leaders found dealing with Sir Keir Starmer like “honey on toast”.
The Spanish government said that a deal on the post Brexit status of Gibraltar with the UK was “very close” offering no more details. Lord Cameron was credited with a “willingness to reach an agreement”. Gibraltar was excluded from the main UK-EU Brexit negotiations and remains a part of EU agreements pending a final settlement.
The Ukrainian Security Services are purportedly responsible for two explosions on the main railway between Russia and China. Russian state media said it was being investigated as a terrorist incident and that rail transport is back up and running.
Finland’s Minister for European Affairs blamed Beijing for damage to a gas pipeline in the North Sea caused by a ship’s anchor. The pipeline was damaged in October along with two communication cables.
Off the back of the Korean President’s State Visit to the UK this week, £367 million worth of support has been secured for a South Korean manufacturer to build a wind tech factory near Redcar, in the Tees Valley. The scheme will create 750 jobs in Teesside and see the construction of the world’s largest wind monopile factory in Redcar.
Negotiations for a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur (a South American trade bloc) have been put on hold in wake of the election of Javier Milei as President of Argentina. The libertarian President-elect threatened to withdraw from the bloc on the campaign trail. President Macron has also criticised the deal for exposing European industries encumbered by environmental regulations to competition from unencumbered South American ones.
Milei throws a spanner into the works
Jorge González-Gallarza for The Critic on the EU’s hypocrisy on the rule of law.
Not Despite but Partly Because of Brexit. There is no denying that the UK economy has some serious structural problems. However, current extreme pessimism about UK relative economic performance understates the problems facing our competitor economies and ignores distinct UK strengths. Contrary to received wisdom the UK is likely to grow faster than both the EU and the US in the next two years, not despite Brexit but in large part because of the freedoms and flexibility it provides.
Assuming the BoE proves nimble of foot I therefore confidently predict that the UK will grow faster than the EU and the US in the next two years. Hence, we can look forward in due course to the OBR, the BoE, the IMF, the BBC and many other pessimists eating humble pie in Christmas 2025!
Suppose you had a large majority but were 20 points behind in the polls and had to hold an election within a year. What would you do?
If you were determined and very optimistic, you might try to turn the polls around. This would mean using your large majority to push through headline-grabbing reforms that you know are popular. There might not be time for these reforms to bear positive fruit, but you hope that people will appreciate the direction of travel when it is time to vote. You could look for popular causes by referring to the manifesto which won you your large majority.
If you were less optimistic but ambitious to leave a legacy, you could use your large majority to push through unpopular but necessary reforms which will leave the country better off in the long run. You accept that the next election is a lost cause, so you might as well do some good. This would mean calling the election as late as possible, and filling the next year with productive activity.
If you were less concerned about doing good as you were about your opponents doing ill when they, inevitably, take office, you could use your last year to make life as difficult as possible for them when they do. This would mean using your large majority to pass into law policies you know the opposition want to reverse and limiting the power of the executive (for example, by setting up an independent body to oversee policy areas you know the opposition want to focus on).
If you didn’t really care about doing good and you weren’t all that concerned about the opposition assuming office, and if you had forgotten why you wanted to govern in the first place, you could use your large majority to bypass the Fixed Term Parliaments Act and call an early election. That would allow those who want to leave politics to leave politics and allow those who want to stay to start positioning themselves for promotion instead of focusing on governing. Additionally, defeat might be a chance to get rid of colleagues you never really liked in the first place and an excuse never to get around to doing things you said you would do but never really wanted to do.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate