Keir Starmer has announced his priorities for his first term in office if he is elected prime minister. At a speech in Manchester, the Labour leader outlined a set of (fairly moderate) priorities for his administration. Labour suggested earlier in the week that they would extend the franchise to those aged 16 and above and to resident foreign nationals, though Starmer suggested in his public remarks that electoral reform was not his top priority.
Blair’s Second Coming?
Other Labour policies are to enhance co-operation with the EU by making it possible for UK carmakers to use non-EU parts for cars sold tariff-free in the EU (called cumulation). Labour also wishes to join the Dublin framework for migrants, which would enable the return of cross-Channel asylum seekers to the first country they arrived in.
Though European carmakers have lobbied in favour of the former as part of their issues with the EU’s own internal requirements, the latter will be harder to achieve – EU nations are currently arguing over how to reform the Dublin system.
In other UK news, the government has announced that it will require all products sold in the UK to be labelled “not for EU” to comply with the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Despite measures like these, businesses are concerned that the Protocol remains too limited. More positively, improved EU-UK relations have recently produced a Joint Memorandum of Understanding between the parties – though equivalence for UK financial services remains in the air.
Letting bygones be bygones?
In Europe, the Turkish election goes to its second round. President Erdogan leads with 49.5%, with his rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on 44.9%. Greece also faces elections on Sunday, with the party of center-right prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis likely to emerge ahead, but unable to form an easy coalition administration. Ukraine continues to slowly encircle the town of Bakhmut amid infighting between different elements of Russia’s armed forces.
US former president Donald Trump was ordered to pay damages for sexually assaulting and subsequently libeling a woman named E Jean Carroll in the 1990s. Though Ms Carroll’s civil allegation of rape failed the result further tarnishes Trump’s image. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad continues his slow journey to regional rehabilitation. The EU sees disputes over energy taxes and defence co-operation.
Briefings contributor Gwythian Prins spoke at the National Conservatism Conference on Tuesday. This conference addressed various questions for the right in the UK. While not producing a coherent set of answers, elements from this discussion may infiltrate the Conservatives’ agenda in future years.
Briefings contributors Harry Western and Catherine McBride were cited in Conservative Woman regarding the limited gains for farming from the Windsor Framework – you can read that piece here. Otherwise, MP Tobias Ellwood and Reform leader Richard Tice sparred over Ellwood’s claim that Brexit has reduced GDP by 4% per annum – we’ve debunked Mr Ellwood’s views on the Single Market in the past.
Another week of Brexit ‘fake news’, by Harry Western
This week has seen a further rash of press stories claiming terrible negative economic effects from Brexit. As so often, these stories have been either misleading, exaggerated or plain false.
“As we noted some months ago, these kinds of nonsense stories have been flowing freely since the collapse of the Truss government. Anti-Brexit observers and journalists now seem to feel they have no need to resort to reasoned argument or present any serious evidence for their increasingly wild claims as there will be no pushback from government and minimal, if any, scrutiny of such claims in the media.”
The UK government has introduced its Renters (Reform) Bill to the House of Commons, which if passed would substantially reform the rental sector. Among the many changes are (a) a compulsory database for landlords (b) the abolition of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (c) new civil penalties for unlawful eviction (d) limiting rent increases (e) restricting grounds of possession. You can read an overview here and here.
Many of the problems of this Bill reflect wider issues in the way the British state regulates – hitting the majority of legitimate individuals and businesses with increased costs which will simply be ignored by problem landlords. A database for landlords adds bureaucracy and expense for users and managers alike, as do more limited rent and possession grounds. These are likely to force legitimate landlords to jump through further hoops without fundamentally changing the outcome of many landlord-tenant disputes.
By contrast, many of the sector’s issues won’t be changed by this measure. Tenants unable to recover damages from rent-to-rent shell companies protecting foreign or disinterested freeholders don’t receive much help from this Bill. Landlords’ issues with difficult tenants or perennial arrears aren’t addressed either.
Further, the high rents and stratospheric property prices complained of by younger generations aren’t solved by tinkering with grounds for possession, slightly harder rent reviews or the right to keep “ornamental” pets. More housing, planning reform, restructured savings incentives to disinflate property prices in favour of productivity-boosting capital investment, lower immigration and family-friendly policies to reduce single households are the structural factors needed for change.
Home ownership, economic growth and social conservatism have been welded into a successful electoral platform before – the Conservatives should look to do so again. As it is, time spent on this Bill could have been better invested.
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. Alternatively, make an appointment to speak to them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
Yet 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 has benefited the UK economy and 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