Between naked protests, tied votes and flooding, Parliamentary politics looks ever more like a clumsily written sitcom. In the hardest to believe development of them all, there’s suddenly been lots of talk about a customs union – an idea less watertight than the Commons’ roof. If this is May and Corbyn’s best idea to underpin a workable compromise, we can only hope their talks are stalling as badly as the rumours suggest.
Theresa May continues with her single-minded insistence on getting the Withdrawal Agreement through parliament come what may. Rejections of the WA now routinely result in her seeking extensions to give more time to try again. Meanwhile, the Cooper-Letwin EU (Withdrawal No.5) Bill demands a further extension to forestall no deal. The bill passed its second reading this week by one vote including those of recently imprisoned and disgraced Fiona Onasanya and Malthouse supporter, Nicky Morgan, and will receive Royal Assent on Monday.
The Prime Minister has now asked the EU for an extension until the end of June, but it looks unlikely that the EU will give her exactly what she wants. Donald Tusk proposes a long extension; the French are making noises about giving no extension at all. Neither outcome would be a disaster for Britain, provided a long extension doesn’t turn out to be remain by the back door.
In the Commons Tory MPs are close to revolt. Andrea Leadsom describes a second referendum as the “ultimate betrayal” and ministerial resignations are threatened if participation in EU elections goes ahead. A strike is brewing in the wider Tory party with refusals to canvass for the May local elections.
The sorry state of both main parties was attested by the Newport West bye-election, which saw the number votes for both Labour and the Tories fall. UKIP came third, a reversal of their huge loss of support at the 2017 election. Post-Referendum, the UK looked to have diffused the threat of populist parties, which have been making gains across Europe. If the two main parties fail to implement Brexit as voted for in 2016, they will drive disaffected voters back towards the fringes. Politicians have had a chance, through Brexit, to restore faith in mainstream politics. But they are throwing it away.
This week, co-editor Robert Tombs has had a conversation on Channel 4 with children’s author Michael Morpurgo, discussing the difference between the EU and Europe, and the polarisation of the Brexit debate. They hold strong opposing views, but the conversation, entitled ‘The most polite Brexit debate ever?’ by Channel 4, is a model for polite Brexit debate. If only this were more common.
Meanwhile, Graham Gudgin has written about the opportunities of No Deal for Conservative Home, and appeared on a number of BBC local radio shows (Kent, Three Counties, Cambs, Ulster).
Briefings for Brexit contributor Dr Joanna Williams spoke to Standard Digital about Brexit and gender:
“Despite predictions that women might be more likely to vote Remain than men, only a small majority – 51 per cent – did so. ‘I don’t think Brexit is a gendered issue,’ said Joanna Williams, a member of Briefings for Brexit, a platform for pro-Leave business people, academics and lawyers.”
We have also been delighted by the positive feedback we have been receiving from readers, journalists and politicians.
However, we would like to emphasize to some of our eager readers that BfB is not a political party, has no links to any party, and does not intend to put up candidates in forthcoming elections. Our role is to inform.
On the website this week
Private sector economist Harry Western explains that the EU is scared of losing UK trade in the midst of the Eurozone economic slowdown and in the face of higher US tariffs. Rather than pander to a terrified EU, MPs should use the opportunities of a WTO deal to negotiate the best deal for the UK.
“A smart UK government would now be using the massive threat posed to the EU economy by a WTO Brexit plus US protectionism to push for a good free trade deal.”
Brexit: The Long View, by Michel Pinton
Former French MEP Michel Pinton discusses how an EU obsessed with moulding a continental technocracy from the sovereign nations of Europe will never understand the intrinsic emotional attraction the nation state holds for so many ordinary people, and therefore never convince European populations to abandon their countries.
“The Brussels vision of Europe’s future is an illusion, and Britain will not lack allies among the peoples of Europe as it defends its sovereignty.”
Why Britain Will Win in the End – Five Lessons from France, by Edouard Husson
French historian Professor Edouard Husson outlines five key reasons that the UK will emerge from Brexit in a better position than the EU 27. He points to the EU’s latent authoritarianism and failure to properly negotiate ,whilst underlining the aces in the UK’s hand, which include the rule of law and popular support.
“It is Britain, not the European Union, that will emerge as the winner from the current arm-wrestling match.”
Why a Customs Union Remains a Terrible Idea, by Graham Gudgin and Harry Western
Economists Harry Western and Graham Gudgin have updated an earlier article explaining the dangers of a customs union in light of the indicative votes which suggest some MPs believe that 1. this is a good idea, or 2. it represents a form of Brexit that was voted for in 2016 – neither of which is the case.
“Entering a new customs union with the EU would be a backward-looking step for the UK.”
Why the Internationalist Left Should Oppose the EU Customs Union, by Richard Johnson
The Labour party’s failure to firmly push for a consequential Brexit seems incongruous to politics academic Dr Richard Johnson. He explains that the way in which the EU effectively discriminates in favour of Europeans over the rest of the world not only restricts UK trading options, but also damages economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Historically, this was resisted by an internationalist Labour party, but that old opposition now appears to have been cast aside in the bid to force the UK to remain tied to the EU.
“For all of its high internationalist rhetoric, the European Union is a protectionist club.”
A French Veto: The Beautiful Symmetry, by Robert Lee
Robert Lee raises the possibility that Emmanuel Macron – fearful of the stumbling block the UK could prove to be for his long-cherished aim of further integration – will follow in the steps of Charles de Gaulle and veto UK membership of the EU.
“De Gaulle [said] that the UK was too different from continental Europe for [membership] to be a good idea for either itself or the existing members.”
An Open Letter to Parliamentarians, by Peter Semper
In an impassioned letter to MPs, Peter Semper accuses politicians of collectively breaking their promises to the UK – and most importantly, the promise to deliver a meaningful Brexit. Although there have been past instances of the Lords deliberately acting contrary to the will of the people, this is the first time the Commons too have treated the electorate with such contempt.
“It is the voting public which is sovereign, not you in Parliament who are there to reflect or carry out the decisions made in elections and referendums by the electorate.”
The Great British Brexit Showstopper May Be Yet to Come , by Caroline Bell
Regular contributor Caroline Bell explains her fears that the Fifth Column in Downing Street is so desperate to force Theresa May’s Withdrawal Deal vassalage through that it will force it through with executive powers, as May did with the Article 50 extension.
“[Theresa May’s] bosses in the EU should be thrilled with her clinical execution of their plan to stop Brexit… The EU’s aim has always been entirely aligned with May’s – to stop Brexit.”
Labour Should Wake Up to EU Reality, by Will Podmore
Subscriber Will Podmore highlights the hypocrisy of the Labour party, which aims to remain slavishly beholden to an institution that has run roughshod over Greek workers’ rights, an issue on which they have criticised the PM, and which calls for a customs union whilst demanding the UK has a say.
“By calling for a second vote and for staying in the Customs Union and the Single Market, the Labour party has set a precedent for overturning majority votes.”
We are also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/briefing4brexit, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Alex Lindsay sees the value in Robert Lee’s article about Brexit and Labour: “his excellent article goes to the heart of exposing the shouty left leaning marxist Labour momentum supporting remain activists, who simply do not care about the facts.”
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.
We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
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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