Despite having suffered the ignominy of losing three votes in one day and being found in contempt of Parliament, Theresa May is stubbornly sticking to her plan, apparently unaffected by impending defeat.
The main issue continues to be the backstop, with even Oliver Robbins – bête noire of the Brexiteers – conceding that the UK would not be able to leave it without the EU’s say-so. This was confirmed in Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice, the full version of which the PM had tried so hard to keep from Parliament and the public.
One might have thought that this was a time for compromise but remainers recklessly press on with their demand for a second referendum. As we have argued, this would scar politics for a generation, and we have seen no credible efforts by proponents of a second vote to explain how they would rebuild trust in democracy after such a blatant attempt to reverse a legimate democratic vote. Nor do we know what kind of future relationship with the EU they envisage.
The BfB team have been in discussing our thoughts on the best option for Brexit now available. We would urge readers not to be scared by the fear-mongering about no deal. At the moment, most of our energy is being channelled into de-mystifying no deal for politicians, journalists and the public. We see vastly more to fear from May’s deal, which could see us trapped in an inescapable backstop by international law, than from the probably minor disruptions of no deal.
Project fear economics were rubbished this week with strong criticisms of the Bank of England ‘scenarios’ (which were of course widely publicised as predictions) by Nobel prize-winning US economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times and ex-IMF research director Ashoka Modi in the Independent. In addition Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England, has railed against May’s deal, it being “intolerable for the fifth largest economy in the world to continue indefinitely as a fiefdom”.
Graham Gudgin talked to the Belfast Newsletter,(widely read by the DUP) explaining how the Brexit deal a ‘stepping stone’ to united Ireland. The Newsletter ran Duncan Elder’s report on Graham’s comments on their front page on Tuesday. The BBC included a summary of the story in their daily round-up of the Northern Irish papers.
Robert Tombs has been interviewed for a Channel Four podcast on the topic Will our politics be transformed by Brexit? Robert’s interviewer, Gary Gibbons, notes Robert’s ‘rather calm outlook on where we’re heading’.
On the website this week
It has been a busy week on the site as contributors rush to write about aspects of the growing crisis.
We have published a detailed yet accessible reply to the various alarmist scenarios (why is it always the ‘worst case’ scenarios that are headlined, never the sensible ones?) This is No Deal is No Nightmare, in which we set out in precise detail the many preparations that already been made on both sides of the Channel for trade under WTO rules (the so-called ‘No Deal’) to keep trade and traffic flowing. Perversely, the government has tried to play these down.
The Prime Minister is misleading the country on defence and security – A rebuttal of a Downing Street ‘reprimand’, by Sir Richard Dearlove and Major-General Julian Thompson
Following Downing Street’s response to former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service Sir Richard Dearlove and Falklands War Commander Major-General Julian Thompson article, the pair have issued a rebuttal of No. 10’s points. On matters of national security, intelligence, future trading relationships and the £39bn ransom, Dearlove and Thompson have stuck to their guns in the face of an obstinate No. 10.
“The No 10 reprimand revealed a worryingly poor understanding of the issues”
The Economist and Project Fear Mark II by Professor David Paton
Economics professor David Paton questions why the Economist Magazine has become mouthpiece of Project Fear of the Brexit doom-mongers at the Treasury. He articulates four fallacies with which that the once-respected Economist ply their readership, focusing on the 39bn divorce bill, growth rates, future trading relationships and WTO rules.
“Responding to Project Fear arguments is a bit like playing whack-a-mole: no sooner has one claim been demolished than another equally implausible and twice as bizarre surfaces.”
Brexit: Trading without deals, by Bob Edwards
Dr Edwards, of Edwards Economic Research, debunks the commonly held belief that trade agreements are absolutely necessary. He draws upon the example of Dubai – a de facto sovereign state – which trades perfectly well without trade deals, not least because of their use of technology and a liberal business climate.
“If “no-deal” emerges, by design or default, as the outcome of Brexit, Dubai’s experience might profitably be studied as a model for the economic success of the United Kingdom”
My Very Own Little Post by Professor Robert Colls
The author of Identity of England reflects on what is really going in inside our heads as well as inside our politics. How can a democracy negotiate with a bureaucracy? What does a country do when many of its intellectuals would prefer not to be part of it? In the long run, either the British nation state will continue to falter in the face of its old liberal elite who want the world, or the European Union will falter in the face of its own electorates who want to be heard. In what he describes as ‘a negotiation with myself” he asks, who will falter first?
Is Theresa May under the coercive control of the European Union? By Professor David Blake
Evan Stark defined coercive control as a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away an individual’s liberty and to strip away their sense of self. The Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiations have shown that she has been “subjected to a pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control”.
BfB’s Anna Bailey and legal expert Sir Richard Aikens shed light on a number of dubious arguments that have been made in an attempt to convince MPs to vote the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. The pair systematically expose where these claims are far-fetched, contradictory – or even untrue.
“In short, leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 (deal or no deal) is automatic”
A Letter to Remainers by Dr Graham Gudgin
Graham Gudgin struck a chord with his description of his experience of a remainer-dominated Brexit rally in affluent South Cambridgeshire. The people he talked to seemed to know little about the EU but were determined to air their credentials as ‘good’ people. Remainer Tory MP Heidi Allen made an outlandish prediction of the negative consequences of ‘no deal’ but refused to take a bet that this would actually happen.
We at BfB have responded to HM Government’s official propaganda The Brexit Deal Explained, clearly setting out how Mrs May has misrepresented a number of aspects of the deal. These deceptions range from border integrity and EU bills, to our controls over our laws and future trading relations and even to whether the UK will actually, in effect, leave.
“The Prime Minister is trying to “sell” her Withdrawal Agreement to the country. But she is making totally false claims about it”
BfB co-founder Professor Robert Tombs this week talks to BfB about Brexit and the UK’s constitution. In a wide-ranging interview, he discusses the Gina Miller case, the agitation for a ‘People’s Vote’ and how accountable the PM and Cabinet are to the electorate.
“the political system is at a loss as how to go forward … but it is only a very real crisis if some of the rules begin to be broken and the whole system begins to go off the rails”
The Subscribers’ Views page on the website allows subscribers to submit their own articles. Submissions welcome.
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.
Another week has brought more overly pessimistic predictions from the Treasury and piqued readers’ interest on Facebook – Dave Ashcroft is one who sees the big picture over the past few months and years: “The Economist (and The FT) have working tirelessly on the fear campaign.. manipulating charts, massaging stats to fit their narrative, and much more.. they have been engaged in subterfuge against our country since 2016…”
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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