Finally, a majority for some form of Brexit in the House of Commons. This should be big news. It should mean that Brexit is all sewn up. But, alas, no.
Appropriately enough, the ‘Zombie’ Parliament continues to haunt us as Halloween approaches. The Remain faction in the House of Commons continues to take all opportunities to delay or block the Government’s plans. So now we wait for an external power – the EU – to decide the next chapter of the Brexit story for us.
An extension of around three months now looks like the most likely scenario. The question then is whether there will be a General Election before or after the Deal is passed. Boris Johnson and his Government are keen to go to the country sooner rather than later, hoping to return with a substantial majority which will ensure that the Deal goes through unimpeded by any amendments which aim to weaken it even further.
Corbyn says he too wants an election. Whether his party will let him agree to one remains to be seen. The betting is that the turkeys will not vote for Christmas, while Corbyn becomes more and more inventive in his reasons for further delay
For us at BfB the deal is a long way from perfect but can just about be lived with. One glaring imperfection is the treatment of Northern Ireland. The planned tariff and regulatory border, internal to the UK, is more familiar to the Soviet Union than to a modern democracy. Internal tariffs were a cause of the French Revolution and disappeared with the various ancien régimes of Europe. They have not been seen in the UK for hundreds of years.
This aspect of the agreement is causing great tension in Northern Ireland and has achieved the hitherto avoided prospect of renewed loyalist violence. The worst aspects of the Agreement, including West-East trade declarations, were included unknown to UK ministers. Boris Johnson also appears not to have known that the DUP opposed a majority-vote approach to confirming the arrangements after four years. The cock-up theory of politics reins supreme. The saving grace is that a future free trade agreement may render much of this unnecessary, but to achieve this we will once again be at the mercy of the EU.
BfB co-editor Robert Tombs, has written a piece for The Telegraph this week, entitled ‘Clio, the muse of history, would despair at what Remainers have done to Parliament’. Robert discusses the unprecedented stance of Remainer MPs, who are going to unparalleled lengths to block the will of the people. This marks a new and worrying departure in British history:
“Centuries of representative government, and a century of democratic practice, are being pushed aside by many of those whose duty it is to defend them, but who see their interests, prejudices, hopes and ambitions in conflict with their own voters.”
Both Robert and our other co-editor, Graham Gudgin, have been talking at a Brexit conference at the University of Verona this weekend with Remainers, some of whom tended to be emotional rather than logical. The lack of a common language reminded them why moves towards a United States of Europe are bound to fail.
We would also like to draw readers’ attention to an article entitled ‘In the heartlands of white-flag academia’, which BfB contributor and distinguished historian Sir Noel Malcolm has written for the magazine Standpoint. The piece describes the University of Cambridge’s strange refusal to publicise a fact-based BfB article on the impact of Brexit on universities. The University’s press department has continually failed to provide a convincing rationale for this decision, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was made on partisan grounds.
“When people who are well-informed resort to falsifying simple facts, and people employed to communicate resort to stubborn silence, there must be a strong reason.”
On the website this week
What would Boris’ deal mean for the economy? By Julian Jessop
According to Brexit pessimists, the UK economy is already as much as 3% smaller than it would have been if the UK had voted to remain in the EU, and the deal that Boris Johnson’s government has negotiated could reduce GDP by another 7% over the next ten years. Fortunately, as independent economist Julian Jessop explains, neither of these numbers stands up to serious scrutiny.
“Boris’ deal offers the best chance of making the most of the new opportunities that Brexit will create.”
Negotiating Brexit, by Simon Blackford
Barrister Simon Blackford discusses the clear choices that MPs must make. They can choose to empower the Prime Minister and his negotiators, or they accept a rotten deal. It is dishonest to refuse to empower the Prime Minister and then to throw up their hands in horror and demand a second referendum.
“We finally have a Prime Minister who has some understanding of the negotiating realities of the situation. But he has no apparent way of dealing with the vast cohort of MPs who are determined that the result of the referendum will be overborne.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion continues on Facebook too. Elaine Stonelake enjoyed Julian take-down of misleading economic predictions, commenting, “Which crystal ball did they use for these predictions. If we had remained we have no idea what the EU had planned for our future.”
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. Sign up to the Brexit Pledge here. 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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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