At last even Theresa May seems to have admitted that it is time to go. Though she’s made clear her intentions to hang around long enough to preside over the (almost certainly disastrous) EU elections and one last (almost certainly doomed) effort to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, making her political death as long and drawn out as possible. At least no one can complain – as fans of hit TV series Game of Thrones have this week – that her demise doesn’t fit with her ‘character arc’.
The Sunday papers say that she will try to persuade the cabinet to offer sweeteners to both remainers and leavers to get her deal through parliament in the first week in June. Unfortunately for her prospects, the sweeties will be nothing new. For Labour there will be a strong statement on worker’s rights, but they have already been offered this. Noises off suggest a customs union could be thrown in but this would alienate her own party which stood on a manifesto pledge not to do this.
For leavers she will offer to look again at technological solutions for the Irish border. Crucially this will not include re-opening her Withdrawal agreement. Again, it is an offer already made and rejected. Meanwhile the Nicky Morgan/Greg Hands Commission on Alternative Arrangements for the Irish border is hard at work doing what HMG should have done years ago. BriefingsforBrexit are involved in this project along with European customs experts.
The Brexit party seems set for a stunning victory this Thursday (results will have to wait until Sunday). Thursday’s elections are likely to see a very poor result for the Conservatives. Privately, some senior Tory MPs tell us that they will be relieved to see the Tory vote in double figures. What then? The polls say Boris, although it remains to be seen whether his unpopularity with MPs prevents him making it into the play-off with party members. Leadership hopefuls will soon start setting out their visions for turning the party’s fortunes around. Steve Baker is usefully threatening to run himself if Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab do not promise to oppose the Withdrawal Agreement.
Jeremy Corbyn continues to be successful in thwarting his remainer colleagues but don’t expect Keir Starmer or Tom Watson to throw in the towel just yet. Labour have not got much political incentive to rescue the Withdrawal Agreement and talks about a cross-party compromise have now collapsed, but there is still some talk of whether the party could support the WA if a confirmatory public vote, or strong worker’s rights, are tagged on. We trust that JC will continue to hold the line.
On the website this week
Few City Blues on Brexit, by Briefings for Brexit
This week, BfB has poured cold water on that keystone of Project Fear – the disaster that Brexit would be for the City of London. The capital was meant to be one of the big losers from Brexit but three years on from the referendum City firms regard themselves as fully prepared and no longer focus on the issue.
“Brexit is just one of many challenges that the City continues to face and overcome. It seems more than likely that London will remain a top global financial centre alongside New York and Hong Kong, and far ahead of Paris, Frankfurt or Dublin.”
Franco-British relations, headed for rupture? By Michael Woolgar
Michael Woolgar, an economist and former business executive, writes that a fundamental difference between Britain and France is the historical predisposition in Britain for liberal free trade against the French preference for a quasi-protected domestic economy. The British negotiating team and the Remainer-dominated establishment elites in Britain never grasped, or are indifferent to, the most revolutionary element for France of Michel Barnier’s Withdrawal Agreement. This is that the Agreement is structured to ensure that France will be given a permanent advantage against Britain in trade, tariffs, financial contributions to the EU budget, regulatory convergence and submission of the UK legal system to the European Court of Justice. This might even be called the revanche for Waterloo.
Brexit is a catalyst for accelerating the discussion of reform of the EU. Britain should seize the opportunity urgently to become the creative leader for the reform ambitions of numerous member States and should set up a project group to work with sympathetic circles in France to develop a version of the Europe des Nations in which each nation is its highest legitimate authority.
A Second Referendum: Unfair, Dishonest and Undemocratic, by Brian Morris
Brian Morris, a media consultant and former current affairs TV producer, argues that any examination of the actual choices that would face a voter in a ‘confirmatory vote’ reveals the falsity of the claims made by Remainer campaigners.
“People who have shown little concern about the lack of democracy in the EU, argue that [a confirmatory] vote would deliver a democratic decision”
How you can help
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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