Newsletter 23 June

Briefings For Brexit

Happy third anniversary of Britain’s decision to leave the EU! In this time, people have started and finished undergraduate degrees.

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Dear Subscribers,

Happy third anniversary of Britain’s decision to leave the EU! In this time, people have started and finished undergraduate degrees. Babies have been born and grown into toddlers who can run, jump and talk. Francis Drake could have circumnavigated the globe with time to spare. And yet we are still in the EU. The failure is astonishing.

Now that the Tory leadership contenders has been whittled down to two, Boris Johnson remains well ahead of Jeremy Hunt, despite the dramatic personal headlines of the last few days. Whoever wins, it will be important to put aside the drama and settle Brexit as soon as possible. This week our website features a proposal from Steve Baker MP setting out a straightforward plan for how to do this.

Mr Baker discusses the issue – at dispute between Boris Johnson and the head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, this week – of whether we can leave with zero tariffs under the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) article 24. As Baker explains, contra both Johnson and Carney, the situation is a nuanced one: we can leave under GATT 24 ‘so long as the UK and EU both agree to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement and notify the WTO of a sufficiently detailed plan and schedule to agree it’. But if the EU refuses to make such an agreement, Baker notes, we must be prepared to leave regardless, making necessary preparations to protect at-risk industries. It is another worrying sign for British political discussion that Carney’s complete ruling out of GATT 24 has been accepted so uncritally in the media.

Baker goes on to discuss solutions to questions including the Irish Border, EU citizens’ rights, trading standards, tariffs and the UK’s future trading strategy. No deal is not an end in itself: the real aim should be a Free Trade Agreement, as offered by the EU in March 2018. But to achieve this, we may need to go through a period of trading on WTO terms:

“Political, trade and regulatory independence for the UK is not an ideological position: it is the basis on which most countries around the world choose to govern themselves. Independence will bring new opportunities for our economy. It will not preclude a comprehensive FTA with the EU. It will bring material growth, allow the UK to conclude other FTAs, and strengthen the UK in EU negotiations.”

This is what we voted for three years ago. Our politicians have a duty to implement it.


Graham Gudgin has been named to the new DExEU Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group, to work on alternative arrangements to the Irish border question. He is also a member of the parallel parliamentary group on alternative arrangements chaired by Nicky Morgan and Greg Hands. The latter will launch their interim findings at a conference tomorrow (June 24th). Both groups are discussed by RTE, Ireland, here.

BfB contributor and lawyer Martin Howe has also been clarifying the claims made by Mark Carney about GATT 24. Carney, challenging Boris Johnson, has said that without a deal with the EU, the UK will not be able to use GATT 24 to maintain zero tariffs. As Howe notes, this is true, but the ‘deal’ need not be the Withdrawal Agreement, and could instead be a temporary arrangement:

“The UK and the EU can enter into a temporary free trade agreement, intended to last only until the full FTA is negotiated and concluded.”

The story was printed in the Financial Times and the Irish Times.

On the website this week


Driving off a Cliff Edge: Is Brexit really the cause of the problems with the UK car industry?, by Philip B Wyman

Sceptical of the tired Remainer complaints about Brexit and the plight of the car industry, Economics Professor Philip B Wyman argues instead that the real story is that of an industry facing challenges that have little or nothing to do with Brexit. Brexit, indeed, should facilitate solutions to the real problems.

“Brexit could itself become part of the solution, rather than being portrayed as part of the problem

The Strange Case of Rory Stewart: Stalking Horse? Trojan Horse? Or both?, by Gwythian Prins

Emeritus Research Professor at LSE, Gwythian Prins, explores increasingly frantic efforts to stop Boris and to derail Brexit – by any means possible – on the part of the BBC’s Today programme, Channel4Remain and the metropolitan Twitterati. This Remain-backing elite have been falling over themselves to give airtime to the surprisingly weird and increasingly inconsistent musings of a very odd MP: Rory Stewart.

“[Stewart’s] is the conduct of a stalking horse. In its sheer battiness it serves to normalise the equally Remainiac views of Trojan Horses”

Before You Go to Brussels, New Prime Minister, Ask the Swiss, by Adrian Hill

Adrian Hill – the former head of the Commercial Department at the British Embassy to South Korea – warns of the next Prime Minister of the EU’s intransigence, demonstrated in its dealings with Switzerland this week.

“Anyone thinking of drawing up a deal with the keepers of the Gordian knot in Brussels should consult the Swiss … and their advice is straightforward – don’t!””


A Clean Managed Brexit, by Steve Baker MP

The Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group, Steve Baker, here sets out a proposal which the new Tory government could follow to withdraw Britain from the Eu. This is a clear and practical plan, offering a clear alternative to the failed Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.

“Neither the EU nor its member states are entitled to seek to break apart the UK, nor to retain the power to direct how Parliament legislates or regulates the UK economy.”

Brexit: Leading the Way to a Europe of Nations, by Emmanuel Todd

French academic Emmanuel Todd gave an interview soon after the 2016 Referendum, making points so prescient and wide-ranging that we at BfB have decided to make key points available to a British readership. He discussed how Brexit would reveal the weakness of France next to a bullish Germany, pose important questions about the failings of democracy in Europe, and abolish the North-South divide in England as Leavers across the country united in a common cause.

“The British are leaving because they don’t like the Brussels bureaucracy, of course, but most of all because liberty is part of their nature”

Social Media



We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.


You can also join us to continue the discussion on Facebook.

How you can help

We urge our supporters to ‘take back control’ in our present confusion.  There are thousands of you.  Our MPs listen to their constituents.  Write to your MPs.  Perhaps send them copies of some of our articles (or links to them), especially when they are relevant to your local conditions – for example, in rural areas, on the threat to British agriculture.  Better still, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery: they will take notice when people are lining up at their doors.  Make you views known where MPs might be wavering, or where they are working to sabotage Brexit, especially in Leave-voting and marginal constituencies, which Richard Johnson listed in his recent article.

Do also keep reading our posts, and to tell others about us.  Share links to our quality content so that others can understand how leaving the EU can be good for the UK economy and for our own democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.

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Yours Sincerely, 

Newsletter Editor

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

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Briefings For Britain