Newsletter 13/11/22

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Ukraine has retaken the strategic city of Kherson, as Russian forces abandon their positions on the western bank of the Dnieper.

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Dear Subscribers,

Ukraine has retaken the strategic city of Kherson, as Russian forces abandon their positions on the western bank of the Dnieper.  This marks a major strategic success for Kyiv, continuing the huge turnaround in Ukrainian fortunes since the USA and UK began supplying precision artillery weaponry in the summer.

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Good news from the front

In the UK, the government has been preparing the ground for tax hikes in its upcoming budget.  Given the rapidly oncoming recession, there is a clear risk that fiscal contraction will intensify any slump further.  No doubt this will blamed, as with everything else, on Brexit.  Yet as we note on the website the S&P Global Construction Index shows that EU construction activity plunged by 10% in October.  In the UK it grew by 6%.  A fall is probably also coming in the UK due to rising interest rates, but this data shows that recession is a widespread and perhaps global problem.

The government also seems keen to do a deal with the EU over Northern Ireland – potentially risking a sellout that will only entrench Loyalist refusal to co-operate in power-sharing.  There is little sign that Brussels is willing to compromise where it matters or even show an ounce of good will.  Most recently, the European Commission instructed EU officials to avoid talking to their UK counterparts unless absolutely necessary.

At present, the cost of complying with the Northern Ireland Protocol is staggering.  Because of its support given to UK traders in filling in customs forms, the government has spent £340 million this year alone in supporting UK-NI trade.  And as Lord Lilley pointed out in an excellent speech in the House of Lords, any deal which leaves the Protocol substantially unaltered violates the UK’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement – an illegality under international law in which our establishment seems curiously uninterested.

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Capitol uncaptured

The US midterm elections defied expectations, with the Democrats retaining control of the Senate, though the Republicans may secure a narrow majority in the House of Representatives.  Amid many theories as to why a “red wave” failed to materialise, one concerns the Democrats’ success in mobilising mail-in voters – in some states getting over 25% viewer votes in polling booths, but still securing victory overall.  In Brazil, leftist former President Lula achieved a wafer-thin majority over Jair Bolsonaro, the incumbent.


Our Report on the Impacts of Brexit is heading towards 17,000 views, though this hasn’t prevented outlets like the Financial Times from continuing to present Brexit as an economic catastrophe.

Co-editor Robert Tombs wrote this week in the Daily Telegraph about the bizarre idea of climate reparations, which Ed Miliband last week suggested could form part of Labour policy.


Lord Lilley’s defence of the Protocol Bill

In his House of Lords speech on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill on October 11t, Lord Lilley supplied compelling reasons why the Bill should be become law without’ further delay.

“We have a right and a duty to replace this protocol—preferably by agreement; if not, unilaterally—under EU law because it is temporary, under the EU’s own doctrine that international obligations must be subordinated to supreme constitutional laws by the Act of Union, under the protocol itself which says that the Belfast agreement takes precedence over the protocol, and under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, of which the EU is in breach.”

Carney v Portes. Does it Matter?, by Catherine McBride

It was disingenuous for a former Governor of the Bank of England to compare the UK economy exclusively with the German economy when they have very different dominate industries, international trade, and energy provision and then pretend the relative performance had something to do with Brexit.

“The two country’s economies are not comparable – they are apples and oranges. Manufacturing contributed 23.4% of German GVA but made up only 10% of the UK’s GVA in 2017. While according to the ONS the German service sector as a proportion of GDP was the lowest in the G7 at 68.7%, while the UK’s service sector was the highest at 79.2%.”

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Key Points

The Independent recently carried a story suggesting that strained relations between Brazil’s President Lula and the Conservative Party would make it difficult to secure a trade deal.  In fact, the real issue in negotiations is the lack of divergence from EU food standards.

As Briefings contributor Catherine McBride pointed out, the Brazilian complaint was precisely that “[UK negotiators] want access to the financial market, IT and education, yet there are barriers to the import of Brazilian meat products, especially beef. They seem to have EU regulations in place despite Brexit.”

As she notes, by lacking such a deal, we reduce our service exports, but also increase food costs to UK consumers at a time when food costs are high and made higher by imported animal feed prices inflated by the Ukraine war.  Given that we already import animal feed from Brazil, we should surely cut out the extra food miles and benefit from Brazil’s comparative advantage as a highly competitive meat exporter.

Legal Tidying

Jacob Rees-Mogg responded to the claim that ministers have “discovered” an extra 1,400 EU laws that will need to be repealed as part of the government’s drive to “assimilate” EU law by 2023 via the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.  As he pointed out, the reason that many of these laws are so obscure is that they simply do not matter.  In the unlikely event that the issues they cover become legally relevant, they can by the courts through the ordinary process of the Common Law – incrementally developed through precedent.

Critics of the Bill more broadly have claimed that the task will be gargantuan, expensive, and even undemocratic.  This last accusation conveniently forgets how these laws arose in the first place – through CJEU or EU Commission fiat, in many cases either without UK consent or as the result of some unsatisfactory horse-trading and compromise in the European Council.  By contrast, the Bill is quite clear that proposed alterations will be subject to Parliamentary vote.

As for the expense, many rules do not need the kind of intensive scrutiny that critics envisage, but can be done away with fairly simply.  The bureaucratic insistence on preventative regulation, per the “pre-cautionary principle” of EU law, is a hamper on growth and innovation.  And ample provision exists within the bill for EU rules to be imported, albeit on subservient footing to UK primary legislation (the Bill also usefully bars the application of EU law concepts).  Indeed, that regulators simply domesticate EU rules via this procedure is the more pressing worry.



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 – 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 benefits the UK economy and our own democratic governance.  We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Yours Sincerely,

Newsletter Editor

A Cambridge 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


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Briefings For Britain