Rolls-Royce announced this week that it plans to almost double the size of its Raynesway site, creating over a thousand new jobs in Derby. The site development is required to meet the growth in demand from the Royal Navy and as a result of the recent AUKUS announcement, whereby Australian submarines will be designed and built in Britain. Meanwhile, European leaders have been courting Elon Musk as he tours the continent looking for a site for a new Tesla factory.
A win for British industry
An EU court has rejected a claim brought by UK citizens residing permanently in the EU challenging perceived losses of rights as a result of Brexit. The claim, that the Withdrawal Agreement deprived them of rights they had acquired as EU citizens, was dismissed as inadmissible since the loss of EU citizens’ rights is, according to the court, an ‘automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union’.
UK politics has been dominated by the publication of the Privileges Committee’s 108-page report into Boris Johnson’s alleged dishonesty in statements to the House of Commons. The report would have recommended an unprecedented 90-day suspension were Johnson still an MP, instead it recommends withdrawing his access to the Parliamentary Estate. Those welcoming and those criticising the report have spent much of the week talking at cross purposes (read more below). Johnson ally Nadine Dorries has postponed her resignation until she can complete her own investigation into why she has not received a peerage.
End of the line?
The Treasury Committee published a report criticising the Government’s plan to abolish the Office for Tax Simplification, one of the few surviving elements of the Truss-Kwarteng mini-budget. Both the Committee and the Chancellor accepted the arguments for tax simplification – the report described complexity as ‘an obstacle to economic dynamism’ causing ‘compliance burdens and confusions’ and creating ‘disincentives to work or grow a business’ – the Chancellor says he would prefer to embed tax simplification ‘at every stage’ of policy design.
African leaders arrived in Ukraine at the beginning of this week as part of a peace mission. The delegation, including leaders of Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, South Africa and the Comoros, met President Zelenskyy after being greeted in Kyiv by a volley of Russian missiles. African leaders have a particular interest in Ukraine’s grain exports, and have been hit more than most by the disruptions to supply chains.
Meanwhile, President Biden has signalled he is ‘open’ to a plan to ease Ukraine’s path to NATO membership. At present, the Membership Action Plan requires a candidate nation to make military and democratic reforms, with NATO’s advice and assistance, before a determination of membership can be made. US officials suggested Biden would drop the Plan, if supported by NATO allies.
Briefings co-editor Robert Tombs has written for the Telegraph about the vain hopes and politicking of remainers and rejoiners. You can read the article here.
Robert Tombs also published an article earlier in the week drawing lessons from history about the future of Putin’s Russia. You can read it here.
Overlooked benefits from the UK Australia trade deal by Catherine McBride
Free trade, whether with the EU or with non-EU countries, is hugely beneficial for the UK economy. It increases exports, lowers the cost of imported goods giving consumers more money for other goods and it forces domestic producers to be more competitive. While Australia has dropped almost all tariffs on UK exports immediately, it will be up to 15 years before we drop all of the protections for UK farmers, which will also delay any import driven improvement in UK farm productivity.
What the Remain warriors ignore is that free trade, whether with the EU or with non-EU countries, is hugely beneficial for the UK economy. Trade benefits countries in several ways: increasing exports, lowering the cost of imported goods and forcing domestic companies to be more competitive. The last point is often overlooked but it has been existential for British industries for centuries.
Remainers becoming increasingly desperate by Graham Gudgin
Just for fun, here is a compendium of some of the wilder recent Remainer claims about the impact of Brexit from generally respected newspaper columnists. ‘Brexit has broken everything’ wrote one commentator and this rather sums up the childish mindset of such people.
We always knew that a hardcore of remainers would never give up. Just as Jacobites were still attempting to reverse the Glorious Revolution more than half a century after the event, we can expect remainers to try to reverse Brexit for at least a few decades. Even so, the increasingly desperate attempts to pin any and all negative events on Brexit are becoming more than a little tedious.
Boris Johnson has spent another week at the centre of attention. His critics can hardly contain their glee at the Committee’s findings, while his supporters are calling it the work of a ‘kangaroo court’. The controversy is hampered by frequent confusion of three independent questions:
- Is he guilty? And guilty of what? Some commentators have reflected on the absurdity of a Prime Minister being brought down over a slice of cake. The covid context of the cake notwithstanding, the charge against Johnson is only indirectly related to ‘Partygate’. He is accused of misleading the House of Commons, a charge which is severe no matter what the accused allegedly misled the house about. (The cries of ‘hypocrisy’ over one committee member’s being accused of attending a similar rule-defying Christmas Party miss their mark for this reason – Mr Jenkins does not appear to have misled Parliament.) Readers can make up their own minds given the evidence, but since the truth depends on what Johnson saw, what he remembered, what he intended, and what he made of the rules, absolute certainty is perhaps overly ambitious,
- Was the process just? Johnson allies, including his lawyer, Lord Pannick KC, were quick to point out the differences between the process of the Committee and the process of UK courts: Johnson was not allowed to be represented by his counsel, he was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses, and some committee members had expressed prejudice. Of course, diverging from the standard practices of criminal courts does not necessarily mean diverging from natural justice (and it is perhaps unreasonable to expect a committee of MPs not to have expressed prejudice about Johnson/Partygate one way or the other), but it is hard to argue that the process was an impeccable pursuit of justice. Once again, readers can make up their own minds, the question being somewhat philosophical.
- Did the committee exceed their authority? Johnson himself has implied that the Committee was not within its rights to recommend a suspension (and thereby a recall petition). Here, at least, there ought to be consensus. Parliament has long reserved the privilege of organising its own affairs – this is one of the things that makes Parliament ‘sovereign’. The Privileges Committee was established by a standing order and its report will be voted on by the whole House. It will therefore reflect Parliament’s view on a Parliamentary affair. There is a sense in which it does not matter whether he is guilty, nor whether the process was just, the Commons can approve whatever verdict it likes.
As a classicist, Johnson ought to appreciate the tragic irony of his demise: the final blow being dealt by the Parliamentary sovereignty he himself championed throughout Brexit.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate