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Newsletter 21/01/24

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Google has announced £1 billion worth of direct investment in the UK as it plans to open a new data centre outside of London. The data centre is intended to meet growing demand for Google’s AI and cloud services.

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Dear Subscribers,

Google has announced £1 billion worth of direct investment in the UK as it plans to open a new data centre outside of London. The data centre is intended to meet growing demand for Google’s AI and cloud services.

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Google expresses confidence in the UK

The Safety of Rwanda Bill passed Third Reading in the House of Commons. The much-feted backbencher rebellion amounted to just 11 votes against the government from Conservative MPs. The idea that Rishi Sunak is hamstrung by division in his own party is increasingly untenable given that 11 votes is the largest rebellion of his premiership. He is far more authoritative than some of his predecessors, and if his premiership is characterised by half-measures and inertia it will be his own fault.

MEPs have passed a resolution demanding that the EU council explore the possibility of stripping Hungary of its EU voting rights. It is the latest move in a dispute over judicial reforms in Orban’s Hungary.

The CEO of a leading European chemicals company has warned that the EU is more reliant than ever on Russian fertiliser, and that, until alternate sources are found, the EU will be vulnerable to interference from Moscow. In addition to the EU’s reliance on Russian gas, this should expose the fallacy that Britain would be ‘more powerful’ inside the EU than out – how can hitching yourself to an organisation compromised by strategic vulnerability to Putin’s Russia increase your influence in the world?

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Poland’s highest court has ruled that Donald Tusk’s media reforms, which saw state broadcasters being taken off air and put into liquidation, are unconstitutional. Tusk’s response was to say that the ruling had ‘no legal significance’ because of alleged politicisation of the courts. While Tusk’s politics is far removed from pro-brexit centre voices in the UK, his complaints are very similar. But while Tories moan, Tusk takes action.

Media

Matthew Lynn on Net Zero and the closure of Port Talbot steel foundries.

Matt Goodwin on the moribund Conservative Party.

Blog

History May Not Repeat Itself Though Often Rhymes by Adrian Hill

Britain is aiding Ukraine.  What about our NATO allies? US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on 11 January 2024 that the United States has suspended security assistance to Ukraine and will not resume sending aid to Ukraine until Congress approves funding. Kirby stated that the United States provided the last package of aid to Ukraine for which the US Government had enough funding – $250 million security assistance announced on 27 December 2023.

How can the great republic reduce itself to an election contest between two ageing draft dodgers, both almost as old as me? How dare America’s political class – I include the media – impose this pitiful magic lantern show on the American people? An eighteenth century constitution risks the electoral college overturning millions of votes and handing victory to the loser. That almost happened last time. And victory is bought with millions of dollars worth of television advertising. The Democrats give Trump free TV adverts every time he appears in Court.

Sadiq Khan’s Brexit figures are straight out of fantasyland by Robert Colville

In 2018 we published a critique of a Cambridge Econometrics study of the predicted impact of Brexit on London, undertaken for the Mayor of London. We pointed out that the report’s figures actually predicted a rise in per capita GDP in London, although this was not mentioned int he press release which instead focussed on a negative impact on the size of the economy. Now, six years later the same group have produced an even more negative Brexit report for the London mayor. In this article Robert Colville, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies shows what is wrong with this latest report.

That said, it is pretty depressing how many people, and news outlets, seem to have swallowed these estimates whole, despite them being prima facie implausible to say the least (or at least dependent on a non-Brexiting Britain having a truly fantastic growth record, in every sense). If the first lesson of politics is ‘learn to count’, then for Londoners the second might be never to take their Mayor at his word – at least on anything to do with data.

Deloitte Attitude To Trade Survey 2024

Pro-Brexit economists always expected short-term trade difficulties from Brexit but predicted that firms would adapt and proper. This DeLoitte survey of directors of 750 firms of all sizes involved in international trade suggests that companies are indeed becoming more optimistic. Most are complimentary about the impact of the Department of Business of Trade.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that our Attitudes to Trade Survey 2024 finds that business sentiment towards UK trade policy is generally positive and in many areas has improved notably from our last survey in early 2023.

 

Key Points

In a bid to get Stormont back up and running, the Prime Minister has reportedly offered the DUP a ‘patriotic rebrand’ of the effective border in the Irish Sea. It would see what is now known as ‘the green lane’ – which allows ‘trusted traders’ to avoid customs checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain – being renamed as ‘the UK internal market lane’.

Needless to say, the proposal is a slap in the face to unionists concerned about the creation of an economic border between Northern Ireland and the other home nations. Rather than address their concerns about the integrity of the Union being sacrificed for the sake of better relations with the EU, the PM has offered them a way of managing the news.

What this shows, ultimately, is that Rishi Sunak’s government doesn’t really care about Northern Ireland’s place inside the United Kingdom. By persisting with the Windsor Framework he is allowing the EU to implement a programme of state building on the island of Ireland, encouraging closer economic integration between Northern Ireland and the Single Market while alienating Ulster from the rest of the UK.

Unfortunately, this is typical of this government. Rather than take meaningful action on important political issues, they find it easier to try and manage the news without doing anything to influence outcomes. The Safety of Rwanda Bill is another example. For it to achieve its aim, there are good arguments to think that it must give ministers the power to ignore rulings from the ECHR. But rather than assert the authority of his own government in order to solve a problem which voters care about, Sunak prefers window-dressing.

If the DUP accept the deal and return to Stormont, it will not be because they believe in the Windsor Framework. Rather it will be because they think that this is the best they can hope for from a UK government.

 

 

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Briefings For Britain