This week Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost gave an admirably clear – and personal – account of what he hopes to achieve from a Free Trade agreement with the EU. In an extremely welcome change of tone from the days of Theresa May, Frost showed himself willing to make the case for independence as a good in itself: “sovereignty is meaningful and what it enables us to do is to set our own rules for our own benefit.”
Frost also made an economic case for Brexit, while nonetheless resisting the tendency to reduce arguments about Brexit to economics alone. Offering a clear vision for Britain’s post-Brexit future is going to be an integral part of making the next few years a success. We must hope that Frost’s clarity of vision is shared by the rest of the government.
Of course, the EU were not so impressed. Michel Barnier responded to Frost’s request that the EU drop the demands for regulatory alignment with a blunt rejection. Barnier argues that the geographical proximity of the UK to the EU makes a Canada-style free trade detail unworkable. Barnier claims contradict earlier offers he had made to the UK. They were also soon questioned by the EU’s own trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, who wrote to national parliaments assuring them that a Canada-style agreement would involve “legally binding and enforceable” rules on fair competition.
In more peripheral negotiating news, Greece spotted an opportunity to recover their lost marbles. Perhaps the EU Commission will recover some of their own marbles soon too, and finally recognise that Britain has no interest in a deal which keeps us bound to EU rules and regulations.
Leading Economist and BfB contributor Ashoka Mody has written a powerful piece for the Spectator’s Coffee House blog, entitled ‘The EU is in trouble and Ursula Von der Leyen is the wrong person to rescue it’. He catalogues the manifold challenges faced by the EU, concluding that it is “clearly losing its way”:
“Today it is hard to identify one strategic goal on which European leaders are unified to better the lives of European citizens.”
On the website this week
Economist Harry Western explains that the EU’s actions over the last two weeks show that it is not aiming at a free trade agreement with the UK, but rather to protect itself against international competition and deter other EU member states from following the same path as the UK. Underlying this policy is the EU’s dangerous retreat from free trade towards an inward-looking and imperialist economic model.
“It seems that right now, the EU is only interested in trade deals that contain elements that forward its political goals.”
While not an immediate threat, the risks of the ‘establishment left’ re-emerging with a plan to re-join the EU in the medium-to-long-term are real. Those on the left who supported the restoration of the UK’s democracy and legal integrity through leaving the EU, need to keep making the left case for remaining independent and never again being subjugated beneath the EU’s political, legal and economic hegemony. In particular, left-leaning Leavers should remember the European Court of Justice’s long history of eschewing of the principles of democratic socialism.
“Thanks to EU legal supremacy, the technocrats, jurists and lobbyists in and around the EU are able to exploit the vague and open-ended EU Treaties and exercise unaccountable law-making power over swathes of policy areas.”
The EU and the City: putting equivalence in perspective, by Catherine McBride
Economist Catherine McBride argues that it would foolish for the EU to attempt to prevent its companies from using the financial services provided by the City of London. She takes the view that it would harm EU companies to force them to use alternative providers and in any case many EU companies already have offices in London.
“The new Chancellor needs to get over his predecessor’s EU fixation; the EU is a great place for travel, but Financial Services are so much bigger that the EU.”
We shall have a fishie on a little dishie: Fisheries and Deterrence, by Gwythian Prins
Specialist on security and defence Gwythian Prins explains that the issue of fisheries has much wider political significance than the small percentage of UK GDP which fisheries represent. This is the wrong optic. The issue is fundamentally not economic at all. The battle over fisheries protection will send a signal to the EU about what sort of nation we are and set the tone for all future conversations.
“The penny has not yet dropped in Brussels – and maybe it never will – that the tactic of aggregation, which worked so well with May, won’t work any longer.”
Our new ‘Key Documents’ section of the website brings you closer to the action by publishing core documents about Brexit in their original form. This week, Boris Johnson’s top Brexit negotiator David Frost gave a major speech at ULB Brussels University on Monday evening where he set out the British government’s plans for a UK-EU trade deal. This is a transcript of his speech, which sets out his personal commitment to Brexit and plans for the negotiations.
“It’s clear that many in Britain more or less unenthusiastically went along with the EU for mainly economic rather than political reasons.”
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. Ed Humphreys comments in response to Harry Western that, “The EU has always been about protection, with higher prices than on the world market, just look at agriculture, CAP which protects French farmers and France has resisted any change, and keeps out cheaper food from Africa.”
How you can help
There is much about Brexit still 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 see 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 will 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.
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