Some readers will have noticed that Facebook this week refused to publicise a Spectator front cover which contained a mild satire on Joe Biden, though the magazine has previously published much more biting satirical covers on Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Jeremy Corbyn.
The Speccie does not allege conscious bias but instead blames Facebook’s AI systems plus their refusal to correct or explain the error. The problem with having insufficiently regulated private communications platforms is becoming acute – but the Online Safety Bill threatens, if anything, to make such platforms more, not less, censorious.
In the UK, headlines have been dominated by the claims in the Duke of Sussex’s autobiography. In more politically substantial news, funding for new small modular nuclear reactors is being held up, while the government has introduced watered-down legislation requiring emergency service workers to provide minimum service levels during strikes. Rishi Sunak’s recent address setting out his priorities contained little of substance (or indeed much else).
There are also rumblings among Conservatives impatient with the government over the slow pace of regulatory change. This should certainly be much more straightforward than the government makes it out to be, and it looks like the government is using House of Lords opposition to quietly shelve the prospect of regulatory change.
Delay in Westminster
In Europe, Ireland is squaring off against Brussels over its light-touch regulation of tech-giants. According to the most recent data Eurozone CPIH inflation was running at 11.1% for November, compared to UK inflation of 9.3% (remember in summer when higher UK inflation was all the fault of Brexit?). Likewise, health services and industrial relations are taxed all over Europe. In the US, Republicans finally elected a new speaker of the House of Representatives after overcoming obstruction from the party’s pro-Trump faction.
Co-editor Robert Tombs has written an excellent piece for Spiked on the declinism and deception integral to the case for the EU.
Why Government is Failing, by Nick Busvine
BfB’s Nick Busvine reflects on the growing public perception that government is failing and looks at whether the leadership of the civil service should be held more publicly accountable for departmental delivery
“The degree to which the Blair administration managed to embed consensus about what constitutes the UK national interest is very striking. Cameron wasn’t the only ‘heir to Blair’. The leadership cadre of the civil service also fall into that category. One might go so far as to suggest that the Blair administration succeeded in remodelling the whole machinery of state in its own image.”
We are humanity’s real revolutionaries, by Hugo de Burgh
Reformers and refugees have long looked to these islands for inspiration. Why? Because the offshore islanders went through a series of revolutions of the mind, which changed behaviour and installed institutions and habits more humane and just than the violent and bloody revolutions elsewhere.
“The germs of equality before laws made by the people rather than imposed by the elite, the possibility of unanimity in diversity, the dispersal of power and the idea of decision-making through discussion and consensus, may well have been present as early as the 9th century. The putting into legal and political practise of those ideas took over a thousand years.”
Pandemic far from over, by Dr Cam Bowie
Dr Cam Bowie argues that the COVID-19 epidemic is far from over and not too late to mitigate its serious consequences. But it will need political flexibility and wisdom.
“First, with flu on the rise, hospital beds already full and recorded NHS staff vacancies at an all-time high, the NHS will be overwhelmed. Second, we now know that Long-Covid causes much long-term sickness and disability. We are talking about an epidemic of sickness absence which will have a profound effect on the national economy.”
Though we don’t normally repost opinion commentary, it is interesting to see that Irish commentators have picked up on the follies of Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s attitude to Northern Ireland. As Patrick Murphy writes, when Varadkar came to power in 2017 he did not share his predecessor’s pragmatic attitude to the Irish border.
Instead, he adopted with an expressly political approach, reflecting Brussels’ desire to make Brexit as difficult and humiliating as possible – which has now left him with little room to manoeuvre to accommodate furious Unionists, and has wrecked the chance of a functioning Northern Ireland executive for a generation. Ireland has thereby abdicated a key national policy area to Brussels – something that the UK would also be forced to do if it rejoined the EU.
So Much for the Single Market
The EU publishes regular reports on the degree of integration of its various members into the Single Market for goods and services – the flagship trading area that Rejoiners claim is so vital for British trade. The most recent report, for 2020 is particularly embarrassing for such claims. It finds that then-member Britain had the lowest integration for goods trade, and the third lowest for services, out of the EU27.
As Facts4EU comments, this is not an isolated occurrence. The UK has persistently come low on this index, reflecting the fact that it is a more global economy and that the Single Market is not well set up for British interests. As Robert Tombs recently wrote for Spiked (see above, Media section), British growth rates consistently fell off after joining the EU.
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 Cambridge PhD Student
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge