Newsletter 30 June

Briefings For Brexit

Dear Subscribers,

We edge ever closer to life after Theresa May. Olly Robbins, the outgoing PM’s chief negotiator, has announced his plans to resign soon after the new Prime Minister takes office. He will apparently move on to a job in the City (it seems there are still a few going, ‘despite Brexit’). Whoever takes over as PM has a clear opportunity to take negotiations in a new direction, unshackled from May’s negotiating stance.

Both leadership candidates have started to spell out their plans in more detail. Hunt has announced that his team would feature Canadian heavyweights Stephen Harper and Rona Ambrose: “I’m going for Canada-plus, not Chequers,” he tells the Sunday Times. Johnson, meanwhile, has recruited prominent Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir Geoffrey Cox and Stephen Barclay draw up his Brexit strategy.

It is very promising that both candidates are making clear that May’s flawed Withdrawal Agreement will be abandoned. It is also promising that both are stating ever more consistently that Britain will leave Europe by 31 October. Whoever wins, Tory MPs must rally round and make sure that these promises are delivered.

Boris Johnson has welcomed this week’s interim report on the Irish border from Prosperity UK’s Alternative Arrangements Commission chaired by Greg Hands MP and Nicky Morgan MP. Our co-editor Graham Gudgin was one of the report’s authors, but more significantly the authors included an impressive range of UK and European customs experts and a previous head of the UK Border Force. Significantly, the report has not been rubbished by the EU who previously like to dismiss innovative ideas on the Irish border as ‘magical thinking’. View the report at:

In other news, we were interested to receive an email from Oishi Kuranosuke, a supporter in Japan, who has kindly provided us with a translation of a recent Japanese article about the problems at Honda. The article emphasises that the Swindon closure is a consequence of Honda’s problems of chronic over-capacity. This is nothing to do with Brexit. The translation and a link to the original Japanese can be found here:


Two letters were published this week by BfB contributors, one in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the other in the Financial Times on Friday. These defended the use of GATT article 24 in maintaining free trade with the EU. Both are reproduced on our News pages, and we include shorter extracts here:

The plain fact is that Article XXIV of the GATT does permit tariff free trade to continue pending the conclusion of a full Free Trade Agreement. As Boris Johnson has suggested, the UK should offer this to the EU. All that is needed is for the EU to consent to a one-page agreement in principle… There is no need for the 500-page Withdrawal Agreement or any elaborate ‘implementation period’.

Sir Richard Aikens, Professor David Blake, Dr T D Grant, Dr Graham Gudgin, Dr Ruth Lea, John Mills and Professor Robert Tombs, to the Daily Telegraph

Much attention has been given to the points made by Mark Carney and Liam Fox that the agreement of the EU would be needed to invoke article 24. These points are silly since it is obvious to all that EU co-operation is needed in initiating an FTA process and then using the article 24 route. No-one to my knowledge has suggested that an FTA can be initiated unilaterally, the clue is in the word ‘agreement’. The EU may of course refuse to go down this path, thus harming many of their own firms as well as ours. In this case, if no agreement is possible then no deal would be forced upon us. Not our preferred outcome, but equally not the end of the world.

Dr Graham Gudgin, to the Financial Times

On the website this week


Why Does the Establishment Get it Wrong? by Nick Busvine

The Mayor of Sevenoaks and former FCO member Nick Busvine questions how the UK has managed to find itself in such a bind over Brexit. Recalling his time in the FCO during the Iraq invasion, he explores the effects of a ruling class blinded to the facts by group think. He comes to the conclusion that democratic accountability is essential – look at Hong Kong.

“From my local government perspective, there is a strong sense that voters have begun to lose faith and trust in the competence and integrity of the ruling class.”

The New Prime Minister Needs a Credible Brexit Negotiation Strategy – He Also Needs Conviction and Commitment, by David Blake

Professor David Blake argues that only a credible, non-cooperative strategy which cannot be blocked by either the EU or Parliament will get us out of the EU by 31 October. The new Prime Minister would have to be execute this strategy with ruthless conviction and commitment.

“Time’s up for doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”

Europe is Prepared for a No Deal: Forget the Scare Stories, by Robin Fransman

Most articles published on BfB support Brexit, but this is an exception, posted in the interests of free and accurate discussion. Robin Fransman demonstrates in detail –from a vehemently anti-Brexit standpoint – the comprehensive preparations which have been made by the EU to ensure economic exchange continues in the event of a so-called ‘No Deal’.

“And remember, no-deal is not an end state. It’s just the beginning of a new round of negotiations … my hunch: Bring it on.”

The Irish Government’s Brexit Policy is in Tatters and its Bluff is Now Being Called, by Ray Bassett

This article by former Irish Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, compares the Irish Government’s solution to the financial crisis of 2008 – a disastrous blanket guarantee for the liabilities of the failing banks – to the current bluffing over the backstop. There are worrying similarities.

“It would be the Taoiseach’s nightmare that in a messy Brexit, Brussels demands that Dublin respect the integrity of the Single Market and start erecting barriers.”

Subscribers’ Views

Time to Change the Brexit Narrative, by Brian Morris

Media consultant Brian Morris has penned an open letter to the two Tory leadership contenders, explaining that the victor needs a PR strategy which will challenges the media narrative that the UK’s Brexit problems are all of our own making.

“We must turn the spotlight on the EU. We can start by forcefully pointing out that not only does it take two to tango, it takes two to arrive at a ‘no deal’”

Social Media



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


On Facebook Carol Haley could not agree more with Professor David Blake: “The only strategy that the new PM needs is to take us out, preferably, before the 31st October 2019, on Article 24 of the WTO. So, simple is made difficult, only by those who want to stay in the EU!”

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