The news this week was dominated by the on-going Court battle over the Government’s prorogation of Parliament, after the Scottish Court of Sessions ruled against it. It remains to be seen whether the UK Supreme Court will side with the Scots or the English High Court, which decided that the prorogation was a political matter that should be left to the Government. The High Court of Northern Ireland, meanwhile, stayed out of the prorogation debate, but did rule that No Deal posed no threat to the Good Friday Agreement. This was, of course, no surprise to us. Equally unsurprisingly, the ruling has not been so widely reported.
The debate over prorogation is a distraction from the constitutional impasse of the Remainer MPs’ own making: their decision to block an election. Boris Johnson’s government has therefore been left in power, but with legally-binding instructions from the Commons to act against its own policy.
We assume that the Johnson government is continuing to pursue a deal with the EU. This is looking slightly more likely, as the DUP appears to have softened its red lines as we had expected. Nonetheless, the Government will also be looking for a means by which it can escape the terms of the Benn Bill if a better deal is not forthcoming. What this route might be remains unclear.
Meanwhile, we were also treated to the publication of the much-anticipated Yellowhammer report. Unfortunately, it turns out to read more like a mid-ranking piece of GCSE coursework than a major government report. For BfB co-editor Graham Gudgin’s take on these few pages of hastily compiled assumptions, see ‘News’ below.
In other news, new economic forecasts this week from KPMG received wide publicity including in the Financial Times. The forecast was that with a ‘deal’, GDP would grow by 1.5% next year and thus be close to the long-term trend. With ‘no deal’ there would be a year-long recession with GDP falling by 1.5%. On closer inspection these were not new forecasts at all but were taken from a July 2019 report from the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility. Those OBR forecasts were, in turn, not forecasts but assumptions, i.e. a scenario, used to model government finances. This is how ‘project fear’ builds. No-one intends to mislead, but media reporting omits to tell us what is not new and what are mere assumptions.
BfB co-editor Graham Gudgin has written a piece entitled ‘Yellowhammer is yet another example of Project Fear’ for the the Spectator’s Coffee House blog. This is a detailed take-down of a number of claims made (without evidence) in the Yellowhammer report released last week. As Graham concludes, “In short, this is a poor-quality report written in a way that would obviously cause maximum unease. We should ignore it.”
On the website this week
What Makes Die-Hard Remainers Tick? By Robert Tombs
Historian and BfB co-founder Robert Tombs addresses the ever-perplexing question of what makes the die-hard Remainers tick. This is not about whether it was more sensible in 2016 to conclude that we should be better inside or outside the EU – that question was then debatable, but now has long passed. Today the question is how far they are ready to strain our constitution and risk its legitimacy in order to nullify a legal and democratic decision.
“Remain is a way of identifying with an international elite of the right-thinking, which by definition cannot be wrong or be seen to be wrong… Evidence and argument suggesting that the right-thinking are wrong provoke not discussion, but impatience, even anger.”
Draghi’s Dangerous Farewell, by Ashoka Mody
Princeton economist Ashoka Mody argues that the risks of the further monetary stimulus measures planned by the European Central Bank outweigh the benefits. Additional stimulus will either amount to less than anticipated or will not be sustained – yet it could still undermine the eurozone’s financial system and public finances in far-reaching ways.
“The squeeze on profits has intensified as eurozone growth has slowed to a crawl, with some countries now close to recession.”
Prorogation litigation, by Titus
Academic lawyer ‘Titus’ examines the ongoing conflict between the Government, parliament and the courts. He concludes that It is not for the courts to step into such a political maelstrom with declarations fit for Charles I.
“What is going on is politics, and the House of Commons has made its choice of its response. The Courts should not declare the politicking of one-side to be justiciable, when that of the other side can hide behind Parliamentary privilege.”
Remainer MPs are doing incalculable damage to democracy, by Bryan Gould
Bryan Gould, a former diplomat and Labour MP in his native New Zealand, argues that far from supporting British democracy, Remainer MPs are attempting to concede to an outside agency the power to decide how we should govern ourselves, irrespective of the declared preference of the British people.
“Not only have they used their votes in Parliament to frustrate the will of the people, they have now gone further and have removed from British negotiators with the EU the one bargaining chip available to them.”
Now for a Free Trade Deal, by Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips discusses the fact that learn that Theresa May turned down the EU’s offer of an FTA – though this is exactly the arrangement the UK needs. Now is the time to go back to this offer.
“If it looks like the UK will leave the EU without a deal – the EU will need a deal that will get through.”
No Right to Rule – MPs vs. The People, by Dr Sheila Lawlor
By removing the party whip from rebel MPs, the Prime Minister is restoring the institutional basis for democratic government, says the Director of Politeia, Dr Sheila Lawlor. This article was first published on the Politeia website.
“MPs have seized the powers that properly belong to the executive, and instead of protecting the people’s freedom by ensuring their decision in 2016 is honoured, they have used their power to prevent that from happening.”
Peak Brexit Lunacy, by Caroline Bell
Civil Servant Caroline Bell takes to task the hypocrisy of Remainers claiming to defend democracy. She catalogues the ways in which Remainers in the Conservative Party have shown themselves willing to trash their constituents, their government and their party in order prove their loyalty to the EU.
“The do or die defenders of our democracy could of course vote for the general election they will be offered once again today. But it is the wrong sort of democracy.”
Labour’s surreal referendum policy, by Brian Morris
Media consultant Brian Morris looks at Labour’s policy to put a new deal with the EU to the people in a second referendum and argues that negotiations would be a political charade.
“While there would be excited news bulletins about how negotiations were proceeding, these would simply be political farce. The deal would be whatever the EU Commission wanted it to be.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion continues over on Facebook too. David Rice agreed with Bryan Gould that Remainer MPs are doing incalculable damage to democracy, highlighting the “number of MPs who lied to get elected when they stood on manifesto promises.” And yet, David as notes, “none have the courage of their convictions to go back to their constituents. A disgrace.”
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.
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.
You can follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/briefing4brexit
And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BriefingsForBrexit/
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