Newsletter 17 November

Briefings For Brexit

Dear Subscribers,

Nominations have been finalised and the election is a mere 25 days away. Although we at BfB are a non-political organisation, whose members do not agree on all aspects of Brexit policy, we have put together a statement of thoughts on the upcoming election. You can find it published here, under the title ‘Where we stand’.

We believe that, in the current political circumstances, a Conservative majority is the best – and probably only – way to secure a real Brexit. We have misgivings about Boris Johnson’s deal. However, if Johnson has the security of a large majority, his Deal will be able to form the basis of just the sort of Free Trade Agreement with the EU that we at BfB have long advocated:

A successful outcome depends not only on the terms of the ‘deal’ now concluded, but on the future political strength and resolve of the government that will be formed after the December general election.  For that reason, whatever our previous party loyalties or our differing views on a range of policies, we firmly believe that it is vital for Boris Johnson to be given a workable majority to enable him to negotiate effectively with the EU.”

Nigel Farage has partially accepted the logic that splitting the pro-Brexit vote poses a real threat of handing to Remainers a chance to continue their campaign of undermining Brexit at every turn. A number of Farage’s objections to the Johnson Deal are based on misunderstandings. For example, the Johnson Deal does not commit us to co-operate in EU defence and foreign-policy initiatives. The Brexit cause will be best served if we – the pro-Brexit majority – deliver a strong Brexit mandate through one party. In the current circumstances, that party can only be the Conservatives.

The chances of a clear Tory victory look positive at the moment, even if Boris Johnson appears to be auditioning for the post of teaching assistant in a primary school rather than PM. Our election predictions will appear on this site tomorrow. In the meantime, a YouGov poll published today puts the Tories head by a whacking 17%. More importantly it puts them ahead by 20% in marginal seats and even more among those certain to vote. As we know, large leads can be lost, and this week should show whether this campaign will be more successful for the Tories than 2017.


BfB co-editor Robert Tombs has written a piece for the Telegraph, entitled ‘This Brexit election will decide if we can call ourselves a true democracy’. Robert notes that this election is a battle to assert the importance of democracy against a trans-national elite who wish to stifle it: “We seem now to be within sight of carrying out the legal will of the electorate as expressed in the 2016 referendum. I fervently hope that this will rebuild popular confidence in our democratic system.”

Robert has also been interviewed by the French magazine, L’Incorrect.

Meanwhile, our other co-editor Graham Gudgin has written a blog for the Spectator, ‘A Remain electoral pact shouldn’t stop a Tory majority’, exploring the promising prospects for a Tory majority. Graham discussed the ins and outs of various electoral pacts and voting scenarios: “The Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru are generally too weak to make much difference in the 60 constituencies (49 in England and 11 in Wales) covered by their pact.”

Graham is also cited in another Spectator article by David Paton, which discusses the fact that pro-Brexit opinion is more widespread on UK university campuses than one might initially think.

We also continued to be amused and outraged observers of the posturing of the pro-Remain media. An apology from the Financial Times for its one-sided and misleading coverage of Brexit is long overdue. An apology of sorts duly came this week on Radio 4’s Media Show. Retiring FT editor, Lionel Barber, said that the FT ‘did not get Brexit right’. Unfortunately, he then spoilt it by saying what the FT had got wrong was its failure to realise that irrational views on migration and Turkey’s potential membership of the EU were more important than rational economic assessments. What arrogance.

On the website this week


Where we stand, by Briefings for Brexit

The Briefings for Brexit editors and several regular contributors explain that despite their strong misgivings about the Boris Johnson Withdrawal Agreement, they nonetheless feel that the Conservatives must be supported in the forthcoming general election, to ensure that we actually leave the EU.

George Orwell and the language of Brexit, by Robert Colls

Robert Colls, Professor of Cultural History at De Montfort University, discusses what George Orwell can teach us about politics today. Politics always involves language and the control of language. In his essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ (1946), Orwell pointed out how slovenly language made for slovenly politics. In Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), he warned also against the manipulation of language in order to misrepresent reality. As our politics is being recast, we need to speak plainly.

Three years of Brexit has given us plenty examples of slovenliness and misrepresentation.  In the mouths of Remainers, ‘crashing out’ and ‘off the cliff edge’ have long since replaced plausible economic speculation.”


Rating agencies betray their anti-Brexit prejudices, by David Blake

Professor David Blake is an economist at the Cass Business School, City University of London. He notes that rating agencies that warn of Britain’s post-Brexit prospects are systematically exaggerating the costs and underestimating the benefits. This is politics, not economics.

The economic models that these organisations use to make these predictions underestimate the benefits of the free trade deals we will negotiate after we leave the EU and overestimate the costs of the border frictions that the EU will impose on UK goods being shipped to the EU after Brexit.” 

The EU has hardly covered itself in glory with Brexit, by Paul Sheard

Dr Paul Sheard, Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, outlines key reasons for supporting Brexit. He argues that ‘the problem with the EU, and the key to understanding Brexit, is that the EU embodies an incomplete and inconsistent form of sharing of sovereignty’.

The overwhelming focus in the Brexit debate is on the UK and what a mess the UK polity has made of the Brexit negotiations, as if the EU is just an innocent bystander. I am more critical of the way the EU has handled the whole Brexit process.”


Johnson’s Brexit offer takes us to the desired Destination, by David Collins

Professor David Collins, Professor of International Economic Law at City, University of London, argues that Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement gets the UK precisely to where we wanted to be all along.

The full, prosperous Brexit the British people want will take time, but the path laid out by Johnson’s withdrawal agreement is clear and achievable and deserves our support.”

The Devil Still Dances in The Defence Details, by Gwythian Prins

The national security imperative is for a strong majority Conservative government to extricate the UK from the EU Defence Union. In this article, Gwythian Prins revisits and develops warnings about threats to national security arising from the manner of our exit from the EU (published in his earlier articles for BfB). A proper understanding of current risks is more essential than ever due to the narrow pathway to safety opened by the Johnson Withdrawal Agreement. Thankfully the Johnson Deal is not the May Deal. But it still entails risks to national security.

It is wrong to say, as Nigel Farage has, that only a clean exit can protect our national security from a rampant EU Defence Union.”

Subscriber’s Views

Don’t be afraid of relocating to the UK post-Brexit, by Sabrina Bucknole

Sabrina Bucknole describes Brexit as a scary prospect for foreign entrepreneurs but concludes that the UK will continue to be one of the best countries in the world in which you can make a name for yourself and your business idea, or nurture your career to achieve your full potential.

It’s easy to assume that the United Kingdom is pretty much picking up its ball and going home when it comes to welcoming foreign talent and specialised skill sets from overseas, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

Social Media



We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.


Discussion continues on Facebook too. Lorna Ainsworth enjoyed our statement of ‘Where we stand’, commenting, ‘Excellent.’

How you can help

We urge our supporters to ‘take back control’ in our present confusion.  There are thousands of you.  Our MPs listen to their constituents.  Sign up to the Brexit Pledge here. Write to your MPs.  Perhaps send them copies of some of our articles (or links to them), especially when they are relevant to your local conditions – for example, in rural areas, on the threat to British agriculture.  Better still, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery: they will take notice when people are lining up at their doors.  Make you views known where MPs might be wavering, or where they are working to sabotage Brexit, especially in Leave-voting and marginal constituencies, which Richard Johnson listed in his recent article.

Do also keep reading our posts, and to tell others about us.  Share links to our quality content so that others can understand how leaving the EU can be good for the UK economy and for 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 Twitter:

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Yours Sincerely, 

Newsletter Editor

An Oxbridge 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