Welcome back! We hope all subscribers have enjoyed a merry Christmas. Here’s hoping 2019 brings good fortune and a proper Brexit.
Unfortunately, the new year in Parliament is so far looking as grim as the old one. The Parliamentary arithmetic for May’s deal is looking as shaky as ever, yet still she pushes on. Jeremy Corbyn’s delusions of forcing a general election look just as ill-founded, yet still he pushes on.
Meanwhile, we have endured kamikaze Remainers trying to undermine No Deal preparations. Despite massive media fanfare about the ‘success’ of these wreckers this week, they have so far only succeeded in making a minor Finance Bill amendment. This minor amendment is already a strong contender for most over-reported event of 2019, at least until Harry and Meghan’s baby is born. It is, however, a bad sign for the way voting in Parliament is likely to go over the next few weeks.
That’s why we at BfB are currently engaged in a full-on campaign against the Withdrawal Agreement and have used the holidays to put together a sustained defence of the managed No Deal option. This is laid out below, and in particular we’d like to draw your attention to our ‘Brexit toolkit’, a series of bitesize Briefing Files, which summarise some of the big issues of Brexit in a few brief bullet points, as well as offering suggestions for wider reading.
Some of you may have heard the Chairman of Calais and Boulogne Ports talking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme. He said that there was no question of any more customs checks than at present and no prospect of hold-ups. He was astounded that the UK Government was paying millions of pounds to provide extra ferry capacity and taking other measures to avoid hold-ups at Dover. He sounded affronted that the careful French preparations were not being taken seriously.
An influential and widely referenced article by an anonymous civil servant associated with BfB was published in the Daily Telegraph on December 28th. This stated that preparations for no deal were well advanced in the civil service. The implication was that the Government was playing down the extent of these preparations to scare MPs and voters into supporting the Withdrawal Agreement as the main alternative to no deal.
A letter also appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday January 12th 2019 signed by Lords Trimble and Glasman, former Irish ambassador Ray Basset and Shanker Singham as well as Graham Gudgin and Robert Tombs. It argued that the backstop arrangements included in the Withdrawal Agreement to follow the Transition Period cannot be temporary as the PM claims since whatever replaces it can only be the same or worse from a UK point of view.
BfB has brought a smile to at least one face this week. In his Diary for the Spectator, journalist Charles Moore describes how he ‘burst out laughing’ reading Sir Noel Malcolm’s ‘brilliant’ analysis on BfB of the idiocies and inconsistencies contained in the Universities UK and the Russell Group’s recent pro-Remain open letter to MPs.
Robert Tombs’s article ‘Hard-line Remainers reject democracy itself in elitist attempt to subvert Brexit’ was published by The Telegraph on 22 December. The article charts the elitism underlying Remainer arguments:
‘A lady in Newnham (Cambridge’s miniature Islington) told me recently that she had only understood Brexit because her Leave-voting gardener and cleaning lady had explained it: it did not occur to her that their views had any value – though her own were, to use an apt term, nebulous. She could not conceive that their experience of working and bringing up families could have given them a knowledge of the world as valid as her view from the ivory tower.’
The Express also published a summary of the article under the title ‘Remainers fury over Brexit fuelled by CONTEMPT for working classes’.
Subscribers may also have missed this article by Robert Tombs on how the French Gilet Jaunes protests are a warning to Europe over the widening gulf between rulers and the ruled, published in the Daily Mail earlier in December.
Graham Gudgin’s has written an article for The Belfast Newsletter, responding to claims in the Financial Times that a rising Northern Irish Catholic population will inevitably lead to a United Ireland. He also rebuts claims that a substantial proportion of Northern Irish Protestants would prefer to join a United Ireland than leave the EU along with the rest of the UK:
“Among the whole population of Northern Ireland only 20% support Irish unity and this has changed little since the Brexit referendum.”
Graham has also written a similar piece for the The Belfast Telegraph.
Gwythian Prins has been busy giving a series of interviews to The Conservative Woman, all worth a read, which have been well received, seeing Gwythian dubbed a ‘Prins amongst men’. Here are interviews 1, 2, 3 and 4.
We also enjoyed our shout-out in Peter Rhodes’s ‘Look back on Brexit during 2018’ for the Express and Star. Rhodes commends us for making ‘good case for quitting’, but worries that we ‘will never turn pessimists into optimists’. We hope 2019 will prove him wrong.
On the website this week
The BfB Brexit toolkit
We’re prepared short, practical guides to what you need to know about Brexit during these crucial last few months. Confused by the barrage of rolling news? These Briefings distil the core issues of Brexit down to a few key bullet points. They also offer suggestions for further reading. So far, our Briefings cover the following topics:
We’ve also published a useful précis of the May government’s proposed draft deal, based on published documents.
May-Barnier Withdrawal Agreement. Not the End of the Story, by Professor Jonathan Story
Professor Story, Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at INSEAD, comments on the Withdrawal Agreement. He describes the WA as a deal for which there is no parallel in British history: the UK government is in effect saying that the UK is a province of the EU. His comments should be read in conjunction with the WA Summary on our Briefings page.
“International treaties between equals involve reciprocity. The WA holds no indication of reciprocity… The EU is not negotiating; it is dictating.”
Prepare for A WTO Brexit and Liberation! by Robert Lee
Robert Lee, Former Chief Economist, Board of Executors (South Africa), discusses the WTO option for Brexit. In the absence of Parliament agreeing a deal, this is the default option. Lee discusses what is meant by a ‘managed deal’. Britain has little to lose and much to gain from such a Brexit, which will cause short term turbulence but soon lead us on to the calmer waters of a clean, global Brexit.
“Largely unnoticed in the Brexit drama, preparations for leaving without a deal are reported to be advancing fast. According to The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson, one Cabinet member says that “the civil service might yet turn out to be the heroes of Brexit …. the preparations are amazing. I really think we can handle this. Last month, I didn’t”.
The City of London is strong enough to go it alone post-Brexit, by Professor David Blake
Professor David Blake, of Cass Business School, discusses his recent evidence to the House of Commons Treasury and International Trade Select Committee. He argues that the City of London should never accept being a rule taker from Brussels, where they have no idea how to run a financial system, and lays a number of models by which the City could successfully ‘go it alone’.
“[The City of London] does six times more financial services business with the EU than the EU does with the UK… If Brussels refuses to accept enhanced equivalence or mutual recognition, then the City is more than capable of ‘going it alone’ – as it has done very successfully for most of its history and as countries such as Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore are currently doing.”
A WTO-based Brexit could yield the UK £80 billion per year, by BfB Contributors
Over recent weeks, there have been renewed efforts to claim that the UK leaving the EU on WTO terms will result in economic catastrophe. This important article signed by nine economic contributors to BfB argues that there are in contrast huge potential gains from no deal. These include ending payments to the EU, regaining fishing grounds, ending the CAP, striking new free-trade deals, reducing benefit payments to EU migrants, cutting EU tariffs and reducing regulatory burdens. Using published estimates of these gains the article generates a total potential advantage amounting to £80 billion or 4% of GDP, which is larger than reasonable estimates of the loss of trade with the EU.
“A smart WTO Brexit with well-designed trade, immigration, agricultural, fishing and regulatory policies would, far from being a ‘disaster’, have an excellent chance of delivering substantial long-term net benefits.”
Universities and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit: some rather desperate misrepresentations, by Sir Noel Malcolm
Sir Noel Malcolm, Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy, analyses the doom-mongering letter to MPs recently published by representatives of the higher education sector. He unearths a series of alarming misrepresentations and displays of ignorance. The letter fails to mention funding guarantees already made by the government and contains evidence that President of Universities UK does not know how EU funding works. It stokes unfounded fears about migration rules and quotes questionable statistics. Straying far from the standards of academic excellence they claim to promote, the authors sacrifice truth for political distortion.
“It is hard to avoid the overall impression that this open letter was cooked up rather hurriedly to serve a political purpose, in these final days before the expected parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.”
The European Union is in total crisis – we need to get out now! by Professor David Blake
Professor Blake reports on the precarious state of the EU. He catalogues numerous crises – political, economic and financial – besetting the bloc. The EU has been unable to agree solutions to these crises. The only way they can be solved is through political and economic union: an EU empire. If the UK stays in the EU while it forms this empire, we will see the EU drain the financial assets of the City of London to bail out the rest of the bloc. Thus it is imperative that we get out now.
“The EU and the house of cards it has built is slowly collapsing before our very eyes, and yet Europe’s leaders want to create a new European Empire to take on China and the US.”
Richard Johnson, lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University, tells BfB how he believes Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership are positioning the party to win more Leave voting constituencies in the next General Election to defeat the Tories.
“I think that the Labour leadership that we have – and I say this as someone who was an initial sceptic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – is one that understands the political reality and also has intellectual sympathies with the key group of voters who it needs to win to form a government.”
Andrea Jenkyns MP on #StandUp4Brexit & GO WTO
Andrea Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, tells us why she is not afraid to #StandUp4Brexit and give her support to the “GO WTO” campaign, a major public campaign to inform and promote a clean WTO exit from the EU which has been launched this week.
“We are all Brexit fatigued but Brexit is too important to give up on. More people voted to Leave than for either political party in the last two general elections. As democrats, we have to keep fighting for the democratic mandate that got presented to us by the British public in the Brexit referendum… Leave is stronger than ever in my constituency.”
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.
Discussion continues on Facebook too. Lee Stranders has passed on this cheery anecdote, in response to David Blake’s article on the City of London: ‘I attended a private briefing in the city last November at one of the large law firms. It was under Chatham House Rules and well attended by big city players. There was a consistent message “the government has advised that we prepare for no deal”. Honestly preparations are done even if those doing them are not happy.’
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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