Brexit supporters were put on alert by comments made by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in interview, who stated that he was keen to “remove the vast majority of trade barriers between us and the EU”. This seems to reflect the position more generally within senior circles of the administration – including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose Brexit credentials have been doubted, and whose bid for a Northern Ireland deal by April looks like a potential sell-out to EU demands for regulatory alignment.
Red lines and blue flags
Moreover, the government’s new budget is likely to amplify Rejoiner claims about the negative effects of Brexit. Increasing taxes (and freezing tax thresholds) to pay for the pension triple lock, protection for education and the NHS will harm entrepreneurs, investors and young people, and leave the UK highly uncompetitive.
This is a short-termist policy. It will reduce long-term growth, and therefore even the government’s own tax receipts, in the interest of short-term balancing the books. The proposed reliance on migration to make up the numbers only bakes in the cheap-labour, low-productivity model that has hobbled the British economy for decades.
The resulting poor performance will only add to Rejoiner calls for re-entry to the Single Market as the magic cure for these ills – though as in the 1970s with no actual benefit. In truth the real cause of ballooning government debt was neither Brexit nor the pandemic, but the decision to lock down the economy at ruinous expense, championed by so many on the left.
On the world stage, the COP-27 summit concluded this week with relatively few fresh commitments by any of the parties – bar the decision in principle to create a fund for developing countries suffering from climate-related loss and damage. Sticking points include the fund’s size, whether China will be a contributor, and whether developing nations will need to de-carbonise faster in exchange.
A fair COP, guvnor?
Elsewhere, Emmanuel Macron accused Australia of entering “nuclear confrontation” with China as new prime minister Anthony Albanese refused to reverse the AUKUS deal with the UK and the US which so incensed France last year. The Republicans secured a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, which will create difficulties for President Biden.
Our Report on the Impacts of Brexit has surpassed 20,000 views, and was mentioned by Larry Elliott, economics editor of Guardian, in an article arguing against the prevailing Remainer narrative of Brexit causing economic decline. A summary is due to appear in tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph
The Liberation of Kherson, by Adrian Hill
The Ukrainians as winning, and their fight is defending us. There is good reason to think they can and will succeed. But we need to do much more. We cannot rely on others to defend our vital interests.
“We know from NATO members’ track records during this year that the Americans give the most help, Britain is second, Poland is third, Germany fourth, followed by Canada then five other NATO countries. France and Italy give less than Norway, Estonia and Latvia. Britain gives more than the whole EU added together.”
Agriculture minister George Eustace recently criticised the UK-Australia trade deal. At Briefings, we agree with him that the deal has problems – but those were created by Mr Eustace himself, who heavily pressured against trade liberalisation which could have seen a deeper, more substantive agreement reached.
Rather, Eustace’s comments represent nothing new – save that they confirm his downward trajectory from a supporter of free markets to the mouthpiece of the protectionist agricultural lobby.
What was unprecedented, however, was his attack on New Zealand trade expert and Interim Permanent Secretary at the Department of International Trade Crawford Falconer. As Shanker Singham points out on Twitter, Falconer was brought in in 2017 to train up the UK’s trade negotiating team effectively from nothing. These ugly public criticisms, as Singham indicates, are part of a campaign to stigmatise and denigrate the few civil servants who actively try and encourage deviation from EU trading mediocrity.
That stands in sharp contrast with the majority of the institution, however. The Bank of England has recently come under fire for dragging its feet over Brexit deregulation, while civil servants have used a series of relatively flimsy accusations to try and remove ministers they dislike ideologically (trying with Suella Braverman and Dominic Raab, succeeding with Gavin Williamson).
Meanwhile, many column inches could be devoted to the weirder forays into wokeness of British bureaucrats, like vegan safe-spaces, re-branding none-white ethnicities as one happy “global majority”, and watchdogs recommending that computing students (among others) be taught about the “colonial” content of their subject (as is already happening at Oxford).
The sad fact, however, is that the Tories have done precious little with their 80-seat majority to bring about the kind of root and branch institutional change needed to remould these organisations in their own image. With the current government it seems even less likely that they will do so.
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.
A Cambridge PhD Student
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge