It took three and a half years of Parliamentary infighting, two general elections, one European election and infinite patience with irritating people in blue and gold face-paint, but it has finally happened. We’re out!
Of course, a lot still needs to be done to secure full independence. But this is a historic moment. Congratulations to all who have helped, through this site and elsewhere to make calm and rational arguments for leaving. We deserved our moment of celebration and a few rousing choruses of God Save the Queen, even if some inevitably dubbed this triumphalist.
Britain has managed what many thought impossible. We have asserted the importance of self-government and accountability, in the face of intense pressure at home and abroad. Under the EU, politics had become progressively more distant and more technocratic. We were told there was no alternative, that this was economic suicide, that we were voting for an extreme. But it is not extreme to believe in self-government, as British voters kept calmly reasserting each time they were called back to the ballot box.
It was not easy. Since the 2016 referendum, we have seen antidemocratic sentiments stated more openly than any time since the nineteenth century. Many people felt that 2016 was the first time their vote counted for something. The shameful efforts of the so-called People’s Vote campaign and Liberal Democrat Revokers risked pushing political trust to a whole new low, permanently tarnishing this nation’s proud tradition of democracy. The stakes could not have been higher.
But the voters of 2016 have been vindicated, and with them democracy in this country. History will perhaps judge that the survival of British democracy through one its most severe tests was the most important outcome of the Brexit years. Though the future of an increasingly pro-Brexit Tory party looked uncertain at times, in the end it was the most pro-remain parties that were in disarray.
Brexit – our formal withdrawal from the EU – is now done. But major decisions about post-Brexit Britain’s place in the world are still undecided. We are therefore making the occasion by changing our name from Briefing for Brexit to Briefings for Britain (which we absolutely intend to include Northern Ireland). Our site will continue in operation until the task is completed, and full independence secured.
As you would expect, it’s been a busy media week. Our co-editor Robert Tombs spoke to the French newspaper, Le Figaro, about why it was essential that Brexit took place so that British voters were not trampled on. He also wrote two pieces for German newspapers – the Frankfurter Allgemeine and the Berlin Taz – explaining why Brexit is a victory for British democracy. Robert has set out his vision for Britain’s future in the Australian Financial Review too, in an article entitled, ‘Britain’s future is like its past: an independent global island’.
Closer to home, Robert was on Radio 4’s World This Weekend earlier today, discussing Britain’s future place in the world. He has also been published in the Financial Times, noting that Britain never had much enthusiasm for the European project in his article ‘The “damn fools” got it right on Brexit’. Finally, Robert has written a piece for the Telegraph, entitled ‘Brexit was a vote of self-confidence. Our future is now open, in an uncertain and turbulent world’, which looks forward to a bright future in which the UK flourishes on the global stage, and embarks on a programme of national renewal at home.
On the website this week
If I were in charge of the EU UK trade negotiations, by Catherine McBride
Economist Catherine McBride writes that a trade agreement with the EU is less important than often suggested. Many multinational firms will continue to supply from their existing facilities. Even with no deal, she argues, trusted trader schemes would meet the needs of most multi-nationals.
“If trade deals are so important, why don’t we have one with the UK’s largest trading partner – the US?”
Over the Hills and Far Away – the Aggregation Battle Looms, by Gwythian Prins
At the end of the month we shall crest the hill; and in a series of articles, Briefings for Britain is plotting the topography of the other side, where General Boris and his forces will needs fight our next battles. This is a conscious re-registering of BfB’s guns; for we know that, in Churchill’s words, 31 January once achieved will be a victory for democracy, of course, but it will only be the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. Gwythian Prins, of Veterans for Britain, here issues a fresh call to arms.
“The danger of falling into the trap of aggregation – where everything is linked to everything else, where nothing is signed until everything is signed, which is in the EU’s DNA – is real and present.”
Macron’s New Post-Brexit Negotiating Position by John Keiger
Political Scientist Prof John Keiger suggests that since Boris gained his massive majority in the House of Commons, a chasm has opened up between what the French reckoned they could extract from Britain in the post Brexit EU negotiations and what Emmanuel Macron will now be prioritising.
“The Macron mood music points to trade interests being sacrificed to political aims except in a couple of areas crucial to France: banking and fishing.”
Ok, Snowflakes, by Ashok Chattergee
Corporate lawyer Ashok Chattergee is mystified why young people look to the EU as a positive force when in fact it fails to deal well with a whole range of important problems.
“When Spanish PhDs are serving coffee in London, this cannot be evidence of the EU working well, either for the best and brightest of Spain, or for the ordinary people of the UK.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
You can also join the discussion over on Facebook. Michael Castiau responded enthusiastically to Titus’s piece: “Brilliant article that clearly explains why we should not even consider an extension beyond the end of 2020. Can’t wait to be rid of the EU yoke!!!” Nor can we, Michael.
How you can help
There is much about Brexit still to be decided. Our MPs listen to their constituents. Do continue to send them links to our articles, especially on matters relevant to your constituency – for example, in rural areas, articles on the threat to British agriculture. Alternatively, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
As Boris Johnson said in in his post-election address, it is also time for unity and reconciliation. Keep reading our posts and share links to our quality content to help others understand how leaving the EU will 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.
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