Northern Ireland remains in the news this week. There are continued rumblings that the UK government will concede many of the EU’s demands – though these would be deleterious for the province and Great Britain more broadly, as we analyse on the website. Medicine shortages are also threatened in Ulster, despite EU claims to have relaxed standards over the issue.
More positively, the Retained EU Law Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons. The Bill will now go for a vote in the Lords, which is threatening to hold up reforms. The Bill has also been criticised for unworkability, though as we’ve argued before not only has much of the work already been done, but the number of laws to review per department is actually relatively low. This is particularly true where many are relatively insignificant.
Otherwise, natural gas prices have now fallen to levels last seen before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That, and good growth numbers we reported last week, have given the government some budgetary flexibility. Britain has also been ranked in the top three global markets for investment, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s (PwC’s) annual Global CEO Survey, which could be improved by accession to CPTPP markets which is currently under negotiation.
In Ukrainian news, as we explore on the site, Russia is burning through its stocks of missiles quickly. It continues to launch attacks from ostensibly neutral Belarus, though that country has not entered the war (as sometimes been rumoured). To strike back and regain territory, Ukraine would greatly benefit from modern Western armour – something the UK has provided with Challenger tanks, the US is contemplating, but which is being held up for EU nations by Germany’s refusal.
Germany blunting the armoured spearhead?
In the EU, the European Parliament corruption scandal continues. The President of the Parliament has claimed to have behaved virtuously by declaring gifts made to her (unlike any previous president!) – but has been criticised for logging some 125 of these records late. One of those MEPs accused of corruption has made a deal with prosecutors, potentially providing more names in the growing scandal.
Briefings co-editor Robert Tombs reviewed An English Tradition, by Jonathan Duke-Evans, for The Daily Telegraph. Economist Patrick Minford has published a report on the effects of Brexit which largely confirms our own findings – our report now having amassed over 40,000 views.
The EU’s existing proposals to modify the Northern Ireland protocol will do nothing to create a stable environment. If it wanted to compromise, the EU would start by recognising that it is exercising power in someone else’s country and that is extra-ordinary. There is no sign of that.
“To summarise the scheme of the proposals:
The UK may petition the EU to exercise its sovereignty over the NI-GB border more gently.
The EU may choose to grant the petition.
But the UK will have no remedy if the EU decides otherwise or changes its mind.”
Ukraine: On The Battlefields, by Briefings for Britain
What have the Russians got in store, both metaphorically and literally? It looks as though—if they intend major attacks—they will revert even more to the bloody tradition of using the bodies of their soldiers as their prime weapon. Can they get away with that today? They have used a lot of their weapons stocks, but can continue with Iran’s help. Britain and America are right to supply tanks, which could make a huge difference.
“By summer the Ukrainian’s could possess the kind of force that breaks through any Russian defences and strikes deep, hundreds of kilometres. I suspect the Americans and ourselves have insisted that any such strikes should be aimed at occupied territory only, please, but that gives more than enough scope!”
Making Brexit Work. A Book on Covid Provides Answers, by Brian Morris
The success of the UK’s Vaccine Task Force in procuring vaccines could provide a best practice example of how the UK can flourish outside the EU.
“The UK’s VTF didn’t get ahead of the EU because we’d scrapped their regulations or signed a free trade deal. They did it by being smarter, faster, working closely with pharmaceutical companies, and taking calculated risks.
We should aim to make a habit of this. The EU must balance the priorities, economies and politics of 27 nations.”
Who caused the problems for our labour market?, by Catherine McBride
Catherine McBride questions the Labour Party’s attitudes to Brexit when it is clearly the free movement of labour within the EU that destroyed the unionisation of labour and its collective bargaining power. She also views the high proportion of people going to university as leading to many young people having to take jobs for which they are overqualified and which make it difficult to repay student debts.
“The true EU market of 500 million people was the market of workers. Suddenly, UK employers were able to pick staff from what was sometimes called ‘the best and the brightest’ but was more accurately – the cheapest and the already trained.”
A group of UK MPs (Ben Bradshaw for Labour, Caroline Lucas for the Greens and Alyn Smith for the SNP) have taken a case to the European Court of Human Rights against the government over alleged Russian interference in the Brexit vote in 2016. They brought a judicial review of the government’s decision not to investigate said allegations, which was thrown out by the High Court in 2021. Now, the ECHR has asked the government to respond to the claims.
This case indicates the lengths that pro-Remain activists will go to try and discredit every aspect of Brexit. Asking a foreign court to rule that the referendum was illegitimate is a sad but logical next step. Russian interference has become an article of faith for some – despite the fact that the UK outside the EU has more flexibility to move faster, more confidently and to take the lead against Russian aggression. If Russia thought Brexit was in its interests, it miscalculated.
This belief in Russian interference also flies in the face of the evidence. Despite being chaired by arch-Remainer Dominic Grieve, an Intelligence and Security Committee Report in 2020 found no evidence that Russia had interfered, as we covered at the time.
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