God save the King!
Yesterday’s coronation was a well-balanced blend of ancient ceremony with enough concession to twenty-first century mores. Despite the weather, the ceremony largely went off without a hitch – proof that the government can organise state occasions even if other public services leave more to be desired.
Local election results this week in England saw the Conservatives lose nearly a thousand seats and control of 48 councils. The results were less a decided swing to Labour and rather a vote against the Conservatives, with the Liberal Democrats gaining 416 seats to Labour’s 635, though Labour now has the highest number of council seats across the country. What will happen to various “progressive alliance” pacts at a general election remains to be seen.
Labour has however ended in hot water over its approach to ex-civil servant Sue Gray, who chaired the enquiry into Boris Johnson’s “partygate” scandal. Some evidence suggests that she was approached by Labour while she was still a serving civil servant (though it’s not clear that this was before partygate investigation concluded). If true, it could undermine her credibility as a neutral investigator of the allegations.
A nine-country EU ‘Group pf Friends’, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy, are pushing for the removal of national vetoes on EU foreign and defence policy. East Europeans are generally opposed, fearing soft overtures to Russia over the Ukraine.
In Europe, France has seen its credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA- by ratings agency Fitch, reflecting long-term difficulties in reforming the public sector and high government debt. Russia may have lost as many as 100,000 troops in Bakhmut, though the EU has allowed its eastern members to block imports of Ukrainian grain over concerns that members’ own producers are being undermined by low prices.
Briefings co-editor Graham Gudgin published a piece in Northern Irish paper The Newsletter on why he opposed the Good Friday Agreement when it was being negotiated – read it here and on the Briefings site (below).
Meanwhile, co-editor Robert Tombs has published a barrage of articles since our last Newsletter – one on the spoon used at the coronation, one on the King’s stabilising role, and one on the risks created by appeasing China.
Downfall. Diane Abbott’s spectacular Own Goal, by Brian Morris
Racism, it seems, is only experienced by black people, and discrimination against other groups best described as ‘prejudice’. This assertion, set out in Diane Abbott’s infamous letter to the Observer, has exposed the flaws in radical campaigns claiming to address terrible historical wrongs and legacies of the past still oppressing black citizens.
“Diane Abbott’s reason for confining the word racism to those who lack social, economic and political power, was to exclude those pesky people, the Jews. Any league table of points scored for racial suffering, distasteful though it is, must put the Jews at the top.”
The Bad Friday Agreement, by Graham Gudgin
The international celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement were a moment of self-congratulation (including by the EU which played no role in it). However, the Agreement itself has not worked well and continues to bring instability to Northern Ireland politics.
“It also important to remember that while support for the GFA in 1998 was almost universal on the nationalist side, it is estimated that only a narrow majority of unionists voted for the Agreement. The polling evidence today is that current supporters of the GFA are a distinct minority among unionists.”
The UK’s environment laws, Retained EU Law Bill and yet more BBC propaganda, by Catherine McBride
The BBC’s Countryfile, various conservation organisations and even the House of Lords all seem to be convinced that without 4000 unused and forgotten EU regulations – the UK’s environment would be destroyed. But the evidence suggests that just doesn’t appear to be true.
“If you are in any doubt about the REUL bill, I urge you to review the spreadsheet of regulations to be abandoned. If you see one that hasn’t been replaced or amended but that you really believe the country should keep, then let your MP know, but I very much doubt that you will.”
Proponents of the EU often point to the bloc’s supposedly higher regulatory standards as a reason for membership. It is therefore ironic that the EU allowed animal testing for makeup ingredients in 2020. To align with the EU’s chemical regulations in this area the UK has followed suit. A legal challenge in the High Court against this policy has just failed.
This is a good example of how the regulatory freedom gained from Brexit isn’t simply a benefit for those on the right – suppressing animal testing has long been a more progressive cause. According to the BBC, legalisation of this type of testing is also opposed by many high street retail brands, as well as the general public. The government’s decision to align with the EU in this area is regrettable.
Another illustration of this comes from recent news about Dutch farmers. The EU has allowed the Netherlands to pursue a plan for compulsory purchase of farmers’ land in order to cut nitrogen emissions. The plan arises for the Netherlands’ need to comply with EU environmental regulations about nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. The plans provoked extensive protests and saw a pro-farmers’ party win numerous seats in council elections in March, becoming the largest party and underscoring the extent of opposition to the measures.
Controversially, farmers will be prohibited from re-establishing themselves in other European nations – which plainly breaches the EU’s vaunted “four freedoms”. Advocates of benevolent Brussels regulation should think twice given this latest display of the political tensions and disregard for popular opinion created by EU-mandated rules.
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.
A trainee barrister
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge