Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary have all imposed unilateral bans on Ukrainian grain imports, after EU officials allowed an EU-wide ban to expire. Eastern European countries are worried about cheap grain from Ukraine disrupting their domestic markets. It should be a reminder that the economic interests of Single Market members states do not all align, and membership only makes pursuing those interests more problematic.
EU ploughs on with Ukrainian grain
The UK government is reportedly drawing up plans for new legislation which will allow them to implement the Windsor Framework without functioning political institutions in Northern Ireland. This would most likely contravene the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement if not the letter. Once again, Unionist concerns are ignored and overruled in attempts to satisfy the EU.
Keir Starmer will visit France next week, meeting President Macron, who will break a longstanding protocol by hosting a foreign opposition leader in the Élysée Palace. The Labour leader reportedly wants to “test” French reactions to major policies before they go in a manifesto and discuss the future of UK/EU relations. It is perhaps revealing of Sir Keir’s mentality that he wants to get the French President’s view on his key policies before he asks the British people for theirs.
Starmer prepares for government.
The Romanian government is threatening to sue Austria over its use of the veto to keep Romania out of the Schengen Area over concerns about immigration. If the case is heard, it will represent another attempt to use EU institutions to undermine national sovereignty. In the shifting sands of Brussels’ constitution, there can never be a guarantee that nation states will be able to protect their own interests.
Owen Polley on Westminster’s dishonesty about the Windsor Framework.
Henry Hill challenges Rory Stewart’s Brexit revisionism.
Ben Habib criticises Johnson and Frost over Northern Ireland.
Rishi must be realistic about strategic threats – by Adrian Hill
America’s liberal establishment still clings to the idea that the EU makes Europe post national thus a united and stronger ally but this is naïve. They need a coalition of the willing including the UK We need enough ships, aircraft and submarines to sink a Russian fleet plus one from Argentina. At the same time as we may need to support the Americans and the Australians against China as Xi wants to gobble most of the Commonwealth.
NATO has become a coalition of the willing. Some countries have given help beyond their size, others including quite large ones, provided little or promised much then delivered at snail’s pace. Angela Merkel left Germany near enough disarmed, far too dependent on Russia for energy and with big investments on both sides of the Ural Mountains. Ursula von der Leyen, her defence minister, during 2018 drew up Germany’s strategic plan which in a nutshell said that both NATO and the EU are breaking up and Germany must look after herself.
A Labour leader using a tabloid newspaper to call for people smugglers to be treated “like terrorists attacking Britain” would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It should make Conservative MPs (more) worried. But Starmer’s proposals for stopping the small boats crossing the channel fail to deal with the underlying problem. He is promising to be tough on crime, but has little to say about the causes of crime, and, in the case of people smuggling, the causes are crucial.
The causes of the channel crossings are economic. Refugees fleeing danger find safety long before they reach Calais. The refugees who cross the channel, along with the many economic migrants who join them, have made an economic decision about where they want to end up. They pay substantial sums for a spot on one of the dinghies making the crossing, and there is clearly money to be made organising the attempts.
So people smugglers are much more comparable to drug traffickers than to terrorists. When members of a terror cell are arrested and locked up, there are not usually competitor terrorists waiting to fill the gap left in the market. This is not true of drug traffickers. As long as there is sufficient demand, drug traffickers will find increasingly ingenious methods to bring their product to market. So with people smugglers.
Starmer’s proposal does not recognise this problem. Giving police extra powers to detain people smugglers or restrict their movements might lead to more convictions and might bring down whole gangs, but so long as there is a market for crossing the channel, there will always be someone offering to provide the service. The best Starmer could hope for is a rise in prices.
A politician who was serious about dealing with the problem of the channel crossings would not just look at how to arrest the gangs who organise the crossings, but would ask why so many people think a space on a dangerous dinghy to Dover is a good investment and then do what they could to change the calculation. This is the thinking behind the ill-fated Rwanda policy. Unpalatable though it may be, Labour are yet to come up with a credible alternative.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate