The expected Remainer reaction to the revolution in the Tory party stepped up several gears this week. The plans for a government of national (dis)unity may be laughable but Labour, Lib-Dems and the SNP continue to talk to each other and may yet come up with something. Perhaps the funniest moment of a week which could have come from a Monty Python script was Kenneth Clark’s modesty in offering himself as interim PM. A Clarke government, perhaps with Jeremy Corbyn as Foreign Secretary, what a thought.
Enemies inside the civil service are a different matter. Dark forces indeed. The Project Fear ‘no deal’ predictions splashed in the Sunday Times today repeat most of the well-known disaster-movie scenarios from last September’s similar leak. We notice that we never see the full documents in these cases. No-one ever explains why the French, Belgians or Dutch are supposed to delay their own exports to the UK nor why French ports’ expectations of readiness are not believed. Nor is there any mention of HMRC promises to avoid any inbound delays at UK ports. Why should a putative 85% of UK hauliers be unprepared when French customs have been handing out leaflets to drivers for weeks. The Sunday Times front page claimed that these are reasonable rather than worst case assumptions, but the inside pages make it clear that many are indeed worst-case assumptions.
The government, meanwhile, continues to ramp up no deal preparations. Civil servants across Whitehall are being drafted into ‘enhanced planning’. Despite its small majority, the Johnson administration continues to look organised and united. Whisper it softly but Boris Johnson is starting to look statemen-like. The Government’s reaction to today’s Yellowhammer dossier will however be a test of its true intentions. Brexiteers sceptical of the new Government’s resolve will be watching closely.
The party-political divisions hampering the Remain side in Westminster are also a foretaste of the problems they will face if there is a General Election later in the year. Boris Johnson is making serious progress in reuniting Brexit voters. It is now Remainers who run the bigger risk of a split vote, but the Tories and Brexit party need to think hard to avoid the fiascos of Peterborough and Brecon by-elections.
There was much excitement from Remainers this week as the UK recorded economic decline (0.2%) in the second quarter of 2019. This decline was largely due to firms running down the stocks they had built up in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU on March 29th. Year on year growth to mid-2019 was 1.2%, exactly the same as in the Eurozone. Even with a possible ‘no deal’ future, the IMF forecast for GDP growth in the UK in 2020 is only a little below the Eurozone average.
On the website this week
Is the Constitution an Impediment to No Deal? by Anna Bailey
Political scientist and Brexit Party PPC Dr Anna Bailey considers recent claims that the constitution can be used to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
“While it is not impossible for Parliament to block no-deal, constitutional law and convention grant Prime Minister Boris Johnson the overwhelming balance of control”
Why is There Still No Single Market in Financial Services? by David Blake
In the second of his articles on the failings of the EU Single Market, Professor David Blake argues that regulations at EU level tend to be protectionist, excessive or ineffective – and this is impeding rather than promoting the process of integration.
“The City of London is not only a global financial centre, it is also Europe’s financial centre … it is therefore deeply concerning that the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration would allow the EU to continue to regulate our financial services after Brexit.”
Two Serious Strategic Mistakes, by Gwythian Prins
Emeritus Professor at the LSE, Gwythian Prins discusses the UK’s defence strategy. He notes with concern that the Johnson administration seems as eager as its predecessor to place its trust in cooperation with the EU. The PM must comprehensively and urgently change the security team.
“The Johnson government should… pull the UK out of all the engagements made with the burgeoning EU Defence Union.”
Why the Obsession for a Brexit Deal?, by Ed Robertson
This article highlights some of the myths surrounding the elusive Brexit deal – such as that ‘a deal is necessary for Brexit’, and that ‘a good Brexit deal for the UK is also in the EU’s best interests’ – whilst showing how they have been hijacked by individuals with ulterior political motives.
“A mutually beneficial Brexit deal is as unlikely to appear as the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
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 on Facebook. Dianne Parker enjoyed Anna Bailey’s article on Brexit and the constitution, saying ‘this article gives me hope’.
How you can help
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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