Ambassadors from EU nations are meeting on the south coast of England this weekend, to discuss where the UK’s relationship with the EU may go next. In principle co-operation between the UK and EU is welcome, if it leads to the EU softening its opportunistic stance on granting UK financial services “equivalence” status or opposing further easements for Northern Ireland. The danger, though, is that the UK will sign up to EU initiatives without properly considering the implications for strategic autonomy or UK interests.
Seaside and Strategy
That danger is magnified by the possibility that the UK fails to use its new regulatory autonomy effectively (for one success on that front see Key Points below). Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has told the European Research Group of MPs that only 800 of 4000 EU-derived laws will be removed under the Retained EU Law Bill.
As has been pointed out, the fact that 800 such laws could be identified suggests that objections to the review exercise were always over-egged. Though disappointing in this respect, the Bill does preserve changes to how the courts will interpret and alter EU laws going forward, which will reduce EU law’s constitutional pervasiveness (see sections 5 – 7 of the draft Bill).
In other EU-related news, Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni visited London on Thursday to discuss migration, and other issues. Brazilian negotiators are bridling at the insistence by some in the EU that Brazilian exports adhere to EU environmental standards – prompting suggestions that EU exporters should be held to Brazilian ones.
In world news, China is seeing high levels of defaults and write-offs concerning loans paid out under its Belt and Road infrastructure-for-influence schemes. Finally, Sudan is spiralling into a civil war between rival power-brokers, further imperilling its fitful transition to democracy and civilian rule. Together with the possibility of localised famines in war-ridden Somalia, and ongoing civil conflicts in Yemen and Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa is becoming dangerously unstable.
Road to Nowhere?
The Campaign for an Independent Britain (CIBUK) is raising money to produce a documentary to make the positive case for an independent UK. As they make clear on their site, this is important given the negative portrayal of Brexit in the media, and its association with the country’s problems with Covid and inflation. If you feel you can support them, head to their fundraising website here.
Fake News from the New Statesman, by Graham Gudgin
Like 18th century Jacobites, Remainers never give up. The New Statesman is the latest purveyor of fake news with its meaningless comparisons of economic growth in Ireland and the UK. Living standards in Ireland are apparently double those in the UK. Anyone who actually believes that (the Irish certainly do not) is, as they say in Ireland ‘wired to the moon’.
“Distortions introduced by low tax rates dominate economic reporting in Ireland to the extent that headline GDP figures are close to meaningless.”
Who was responsible for the NI Protocol?, by Andrew McCormick
Responsibility for the Northern Ireland Protocol will be a controversial issue for historians for many years to come. In this article Andrew McCormick contests the account given by Lord Frost of why the Protocol was agreed.
“Lord Frost and the then Prime Minister have claimed that they did not expect the Protocol to have the effects that began to emerge as soon as it started to be implemented in January 2021, but I find that impossible to reconcile with the documentary evidence, or my recollection of the events in which I was involved at that time.”
Rising rates of corporation tax and heavy windfall levies have created fears that Britain is sliding into a scenario characterised by European high taxes and American sub-par public services. Already, North Sea investment has been seriously hampered by such measures, and there are warnings that general investment could suffer further .
Yet the picture is not entirely grim. The UK’s tech industry is flourishing – third behind the US and China, according to the government’s estimates, and comfortably largest in Europe (double that of Germany and triple that of France). At least in the tech industry, London remains an innovation hub.
Part of the secret of its success has been the light-touch regulatory environment, compared with the slow and cautious approach adopted in much of Europe. Had the UK been compelled to follow the EU’s regulatory approach, it is quite plausible that its tech sector would have been comparatively stifled.
There certainly are perils that come with tech innovation – not least the potential for uncontrolled AI innovation – but the UK also seems relatively well set-up to deal with the challenges AI will bring, according to one recent study.
Stoking the Blame Game
In light of Catherine McBride’s recent article for Briefings on inaccurate Brexit reporting in the Financial Times, it is interesting to see the same issues repeated this week. “Brexit derangement syndrome” may be a harsh term for such a relentless focus, but it does carry an element of truth…
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. Alternatively, make an appointment to speak to them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
Yet 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 has benefited the UK economy and democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
A trainee barrister
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge