We should be deep in silly season, but two weeks into recess, Westminster is still a hive of activity. Bad news for purveyors of pictures of unusually shaped vegetables, but very good news for Brexit. Dominic Cummings has continued his pugnacious announcements, this week reminding Remainer MPs that they do not get to ‘choose which votes they respect’. He’s also announced that he will pursue a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy on civil service leaks. As our contributor Nick Busvine notes, this is increasingly important at a time where the civil service have become more politicised than ever.
The government appears admirably focussed on making sure that Whitehall is as prepared as it can be for Brexit. The change of pace we have seen under Prime Minister Johnson is evidence of how much more could have been achieved if Brexiteers had been running the show all along. Cummings has also demanded proof from all government departments that they are no deal ready. Unsurprisingly, the Treasury and Business Department are reported to have performed worst, having been run by arch-Remainers in the previous Cabinet.
Remainer MPs continue to cast around for ways in which they can stop no deal. But the momentum appears to have been decisively seized by Johnson and his team. With Jeremy Corbyn still under pressure from his own side and performing poorly in the polls, it seems unlikely he will be able to command a majority in Parliament after a vote of No Confidence, without a General Election. Team Johnson look to be riding a powerful wave.
On the website this week
Is the Civil Service Impartial? By Nick Busvine
Former diplomat Nick Busvine argues that the civil service suffers from a wide pro-remain consensus. There are circumstances, he says, in which civil servants can become consciously or unconsciously politicised in their approach to implementing government policy, which is bad for our civil service culture. The establishment’s extraordinary reaction to the referendum result may mean voters can no longer take our democratic system and government institutions for granted.
“Perhaps we should go down the US route and accept political appointees. This may be a backward step but might at least be a bit more honest than the arrangement that seems to prevail today.”
An Open Letter on Irish Attitudes to Brexit, by Anthony Coughlan
In this open letter, Anthony Coughlan, Trinity College Dublin, takes aim at the Irish Times and their internationally celebrated columnist, Fintan O’Toole, for their extreme and damaging attitudes to Brexit. Professor Coughlan argues that it is time for the Irish Government ‘to act as a mediator between the EU and the UK and help London get the best deal possible with the EU, while recognizing that the UK is leaving the customs union and single market’.
“The truth is that Brexit is neither a right-wing nor a left-wing cause. It is just democratic – a value that transcends conventional Right and Left.”
The Single Market isn’t delivering the goods, by David Blake
Professor David Blake examines economic performance in the EU and discovers that trend growth in traded goods actually declined after the Single Market was launched on 1 January 1993. He concludes that the Single Market is a giant economic non-event.
“The ignorance in this country about the failings of the Single Market is woeful. The price of that ignorance will turn out to be very high – not only over here, but also over there.”
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
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.
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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