Newsletter 29/01/23

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Rishi Sunak’s government has continued intensive negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol this week.

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Dear Subscribers,

Rishi Sunak’s government has continued intensive negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol this week.  The EU and UK are reported to be close to a technical agreement on Protocol issues.  The danger is that resolving technical issues solves the EU’s issues – namely, how to have their Irish Sea border enforced – but does nothing for the UK’s goal of changing the Protocol’s fundamentals.

On that subject, UK officials are reported to have dismissed retailers’ concerns about the substantial cost differences between providing goods for mainland and Northern Irish markets, caused by the differences in labelling required by EU regulations.  According to website ExBulletin, “retailers will have to suck up the cost, they said.”

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The future of shopping in Ulster?

For readers outside Ulster who are fed up with the Northern Ireland issue, Ulster matters because Northern Ireland is the hook with which Rejoiners think they can catch the rest of the UK.  As Daniel Hannan analyses for the Daily Telegraph, if the Protocol is retained then UK politicians will be loathe to diverge from EU standards, for fear of making trade between Ulster and the mainland impossible.  Alignment of standards is the necessary first step for Single Market membership – a position to which the Labour Party seems to be committed.

In a report about a dispute over access to land on Dartmoor, the Times reported, a propos nothing in particular, that the landowner in question, Alexander Darwall was a brexiteer and ‘joined a number of academic and business figures behind the BriefingsforBrexit website’.

Alexander did make an early donation to the site and was among the thousands of others who have made, generally small, donations to the site. Because BfB is run largely by volunteers its costs are minimal and hence it is able to run without large donors and retain full independence.


Keeping our sovereignty

In broader news, French officials want the UK to curb British charities that are interfering with French efforts to control Channel migration.  Following British promises, the United States and Germany have agreed to supply main battle tanks to Ukraine.  Main battle tanks are important – as we covered last week, they are vital if Ukraine is to launch armoured attacks over open country.


Briefings co-editor Robert Tombs and contributor Catherine McBride have published a joint piece in CapX, which we republish below for Briefings.  They pick apart recent headlines that claim that the UK has missed its export targets – and debunk some other myths about post-Brexit economic performance in the bargain.


What’s wrong with claims of a ‘£1tn export failure’? Just about everything…, by Robert Tombs and Catherine McBride

The recent Guardian article lamenting that the UK ‘will be 15 years late in hitting £1tn annual export target’ is among the sillier bits of trade reporting to have appeared in recent years. 

“Another example [of flawed measurement methods] is UK exports of tropical fruit: you may be surprised to discover that the UK’s banana exports dropped from £19m in 2020 to only £1m in 2021 and UK citrus fruit exports dropped from £34m to £2.5m. Of course, no UK-based banana farmers or orange farmers went out of business, we just changed the way we measure trade.”

A Global Perspective on Our Identity, by Hugo de Burgh

It took a member of the CCP Central Committee to remind me that the British Empire was a WISE [Welsh-Irish-Scots-English] endeavour, in which the four nations spread enlightened ideas throughout the world. He predicted that, in time, the four nations will come back together, not to celebrate the past but to reaffirm their solidarity in a great endeavour of human civilisation, the sharing of our insights with the world.

“The Irish are not the only people to have a tangled attitude to the Empire. Mahatma Gandhi, often cited as its opponent, was, in WW1, also its staunch advocate. The great anti-colonialist Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe praised British administration, compared it favourably with both before and after. As with Indians and Nigerians, it is not necessary for Irish or Scots to deny their part in the empire, or its benefits, in order to prove their patriotism.”

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Key Points

The UK is rightly regarded as one of the early pioneers of the modern notion of the rule of law.  Yet there is one area where our judges are vulnerable to partiality.  Concerning Retained EU law, and the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Irish judges have participated in “Chatham House Rules” conferences with pro-EU academics – and some such academics have been quoted extensively in their constitutional judgments.

This is hardly surprising, for those familiar with the Supreme Court’s judgment in Miller No. 2 – the case in 2019 which declared the government’s use of the Royal Prerogative to prorogue Parliament unlawful.  Indeed, so ardent is the fervour of some supporters of this kind of judicial intervention that it can lead to farce – witness a children’s book celebrating Baroness Hale for her role in “writing new laws” in the fight for social justice.

Contrast this attitude with the relentless, pro-integration bias of the European Court of Justice.  As Perry Anderson analysed for the LRB (see Robert Tombs’ summary for Briefings), the ECJ has consistently overridden national sovereignty and democracy in favour of aggregating power to European institutions – particularly itself.  Most recently, the Court’s Advocate General has proposed heavier punitive sanctions on the UK for non-compliance with Northern Ireland-related penalties, clearly indicating its hostility.




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.

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Yours Sincerely,

Newsletter Editor

A Cambridge 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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