The 4th July approaches, and it won’t just be Americans celebrating Independence Day this year. The inauguration of the newest of our ‘new normals’ will see Britons return to pubs and reconnect with family and friends. Squint a little and you might even be able to imagine there’s no pandemic on at all.
Brexit news remains far from the top of the agenda, but what glimpses we have from behind the scenes also sound promising. Much print has been devoted this week to the speculation that the UK will allow the EU to punish British companies with tariffs if the UK departs from EU environment and labour-market rules. Happily, David Frost has said clearly that there is no truth in these predictions. Meanwhile, EY have written an important report noting that businesses have stopped talking about post-Brexit relocations. Omar Ali, UK Financial Services Leader at EY, commented,
“Firms have built out the infrastructure they need on the continent to ensure they will be able to serve clients once Brexit happens – be that with or without a deal. They are now waiting for clarity on the level of cross border access and alignment – if indeed any… The fact remains that no one solid alternative is emerging to challenge London as the preeminent financial centre in Europe, but financial centres around the globe from New York to Singapore do represent a real threat to European centres. This should be front of mind for all those at the negotiating table.”
The IMF also continues to forecast faster growth for Britain than the EU in 2021 (though the post-pandemic numbers are not looking good for anyone). Both the UK and Eurozone economies are predicted to contract by 10.2% this year, but the UK is predicted 6.3% growth in 2021, just exceeding the Eurozone’s 6%. Meanwhile, anecdotal reports from the City suggest that many businesses have finally seen the light and have started to look forward to ditching unnecessary regulation post-Brexit.
The benefits of deregulation to consumers are becoming ever clearer too. As Catherine McBride reports for BfB, non-EU free trade agreements promise significant decreases in food prices. As usual, protectionist arguments are being dressed up as concerns about standards and animal welfare. The Financial Times, for instance, has written a long piece about the concerns of Britain’s very small number free-range pig farmers, while neglecting to mention that most UK and EU pork is not free range but rather produced in feedlots– just like those in the US. Consumers can choose whether the to spend more for free range without protectionists making the decision for them. We do not need to make some (free range) pig farmers more equal than others.
This sort of one-sided reporting has bedeviled discussion of Brexit since the start. But over the coming months, as our new relationship with the EU is finalised, refuting the misinformation will be more important than ever. That is why BfB has this week launched a second email newsletter, specifically focussed on rebutting misleading reports on Brexit. We hope you enjoy it!
On the website this week
Lying by omission, propaganda versus choice in food trade, by Catherine McBride
Economist Catherine McBride argues that the FT uses blatant propaganda on trade with the USA, simplifying farm standards down to illogical sound bites: Chlorine washed chicken is bad, but chlorine-washed salads fine. Their underlying argument is really US: bad and EU: good.
This is a shorter summary of Catherine McBride’s full report, which is available here.
“If a farm cannot survive without government subsidies or protection from competition, then it is not a business it is a hobby.”
DfID adieu – I shall not lament your passing, by Gwythian Prins
Professor Gwythian Prins discusses why the abolition of DfID is a matter for celebration. It should never have been created. It was the wrong answer, underpinned with the wrong basic analysis and created with the wrong motives.
This is a shorter summary of Professor Prins’s full report, which is available here.
“Foremost was its cultural arrogance and lack of basic skills to understand the people it claimed to help. Ironically it was a more arrogantly colonial enterprise than its late colonial predecessors.”
The return of the Remainer Undead, by Robert Tombs
They don’t give up! Having tried and failed to force an ‘extension’ to the transition period, Remainers are now trying to raise obstacles to our trade negotiations with other partners. Beware ‘chlorinated chicken’ and other agricultural scare stories. Robert Tombs, BfB co-editor and Professor of French History, uncovers a coordinated campaign.
“The Covid crisis, far from being a cause of delay, provides an opportunity to move on.”
The Brexit Phone Contract, by Caroline Bell
For a bit of fun, Caroline Bell imagines that the following telephone conversation took place between David Frost and an EU Telcom rep, Mon. Michel Barnier.
“Michel: ‘I’m calling from EU Telcom regarding your mobile phone contract.’
David: ‘But I no longer have a contract with you…’”
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 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 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 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