Data published this week shows that demand for British food and drink exports to countries in the CPTPP increased dramatically in the 12 months up to October 2023. The UK joined the trade bloc in July, which it would not have been able to join as a member of the EU. Over the past year, UK chocolate exports to Singapore have increased by 220% while UK sparkling wine exports to Japan have increased by 140%.
Bumper year for English vineyards
Spain’s government has confirmed plans to close all the country’s 5 nuclear power stations, which currently provide 20% of Spain’s electricity. A similar energy policy has left Germany dependent on coal and Russian gas while at the same time writing Net Zero by 2045 into law. Rational energy policies continue to elude Europe.
The UK has announced that it will send 200 air defence missiles to Ukraine, after Russian missiles hit civilian targets earlier this week. The UK has now given or promised £4.6 billion of military aid to Ukraine.
The new Polish government led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk has begun a crackdown on state broadcasters after accusing them of political bias. The state TV, radio, and news corporations have all been taken off air and put into liquidation. Conservative critics of the BBC will be looking on with envy.
Tusk takes on the media
UK consumers will be able to buy pints of wine once again after the government announced that EU regulations restricting the sale of wine would be scrapped in 2024. Remainers are quick to ridicule the measure for its triviality, but the regulations were ridiculous in the first place. Who would want to be subject to a bureaucracy which wastes its time legislating on such minutiae?
It is with great pleasure that we report the award of an OBE to Catherine McBride who most of you will know is a regular contributor to this website and is a member of the BfB Advisory Group. Catherine is an economist, who primarily writes about trade, agriculture and financial service regulation. She is a member of the UK’s Trade and Agriculture Commission, tasked with scrutinising the UK’s new trade agreements, but the citation on her award highlights her voluntary writing. Catherine’s expertise on finance and trade enabled her to combat the misinformation about Brexit propagated in the mainstream media – which dismissed the benefits of trade outside the EU and disparaged goods imported from non-EU countries. Most of these claims were easily rebutted by simply reviewing the UK’s actual trade figures in detail and Catherine has regularly done this for us.
Catherine’s City career in finance, almost exclusively trading non-UK equities, financial instruments and commodities including the larger EU equity markets, enabled her to see that EU economies were not the Nirvana presented by the UK media, and that the UK economy depended on non-EU trade, especially trade with the US. Her first BfB article was about chlorine-washed chicken, at the time being endlessly disparaged in the mainstream media as a valid reason to not do a trade deal with the US, the UK’s largest export market. Many Britons seemed to be unaware that the UK is almost self-sufficient in chicken meat and so would be unlikely to ever import chicken from the US. They also seemed to forget that consumers choose what they buy, no one forces them to buy imported food. It was mass hysteria stirred up by the media.
Her many articles about agriculture and food production in both the UK and internationally, led to a place on the Trade and Agriculture Commission scrutinising the UK’s new trade deals. Two papers analysing the UK’s trade by industry and by sector, comparing trade with EU and non-EU countries examined whether there were any obvious changes after Brexit and whether the assumptions used by the OBR were still valid. The answer to both questions was no.
She believes that the UK will thrive as an independent trading nation outside the EU, and energetically promotes this idea and intends to continue to rebut nonsense in the media. It is very pleasing that her efforts have been noticed and publicly recognised with an honour.
Neil O’Brien MP on the UK’s catastrophic immigration policy
Jamie Bryson on sovereignty (or lack of) in Northern Ireland
The cost of asylum and how to reduce it by Catherine McBride
Another 7 boats containing 292 illegal immigrants arrived in Britain on Friday 15th December. With an additional 55 arriving on a single boat the following day. These 347 presumably men, (88% of small boat arrivals are male), will be put up in accommodation costing the taxpayer £90 a night, or £91 a night if they are housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset, as we learned last week. They will also get £47.39 a week for food and toiletries, or £9.58 per week if the accommodation provides food. That totals £677.39 a week – more than the UK average wage before tax of £663.
Although the number of illegal migrants arriving in the UK is small compared to the UK’s legal migration and its official refugee/asylum programs, most people worry much more about undocumented arrivals. People are rightly frightened of boatloads of unidentifiable young men of fighting age arriving uninvited without passports, jobs, universities or families to go to. The only way to solve this is zero tolerance, tow the boats straight back to France to apply for asylum at the British Embassy.
Ukraine is Nato’s front line by Adrian Hill
Is the West, and especially America, running down its support for Ukraine? If so, the costs in the medium and long term will be immense.
To deter and defend against a renewed Russian threat following a full Russian victory in Ukraine the United States will have to deploy to Eastern Europe a sizable portion of its ground forces. The United States will have to station in Europe a large number of stealth aircraft. Building and maintaining those aircraft is intrinsically expensive, but challenges in manufacturing them rapidly will likely force the United States to make a terrible choice between keeping enough in Asia to defend Taiwan and its other Asian allies and deterring or defeating a Russian attack on a NATO ally. The entire undertaking will cost a fortune, and the cost will last as long as the Russian threat continues—potentially indefinitely.
Irish Republic must not be rocked by Sinn Fein’s divisive agenda by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Last week, in the Irish Parliament, a slew of senior politicians from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael took the gloves off and said in no uncertain language what they think of Sinn Fein.
At last democrats are beginning to face up to the threat, recognising that to have Sinn Féin in power in the Republic would enormously strengthen their influence in London, Brussels and the United States. It would also be potentially catastrophic for the Republic. And justice is becoming the touchstone. Because Sinn Fein would not acknowledge war crimes, said Varadkar, “is why we cannot have a Sinn Féin Taoiseach, a Sinn Féin justice minister and a Sinn Féin defence minister, in the next government or any government”.
2023 was supposed to be a good year for the Conservatives. Having brought some stability to Westminster, Rishi Sunak was going to offer a new sense of purpose to the government. Inflation was going to come down quickly, along with NHS waiting lists. His five pledges were going to set the tone
Instead, at the beginning of 2024, Labour have a double-digit lead in the polls; just one of the Prime Minister’s five pledges has been fulfilled – halving inflation – and most people know that he had very little to do with it; and the impotence of the government is on full display as they repeatedly fail to implement effective controls on illegal immigration.
2024 could be even worse. The Conservatives start the year with 350 MPs. They could finish it with fewer than 100. The Reform Party are polling as well as they have ever done and expect a boost as Nigel Farage returns to frontline politics. If they don’t win any seats themselves, they will surely take enough votes to deprive the Tories of some of theirs.
If Conservatives want to avoid disaster, they must realise that something has to change. The current strategy is failing and there is no reason to doubt that it will go on failing in the New Year. To keep things as they are until the election would be suicidal.
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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.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate