The swimming pools have reopened and no chlorine-related deaths reported as yet. Unfortunately, membership of the government’s new Trade and Agriculture Commission has been announced, and it is full of just the sort of people who might decry chlorinated chicken as the spawn of Satan. Though to be fair, the new chair has suggested that alarmism about chlorinated chicken should end – at least one step in the right direction.
More generally the Commission is, in the words of BfB’s Harry Western, ‘top-heavy with NFU [National Farmers’ Union] representatives (who can be expected to lobby for the status quo or something even worse) and environmental activists with a penchant for taking farming back to some kind of prelapsarian state when peasants toiled happily in wildflower meadows.’ The lack of free marketeers (we can spot only two) on the Commission and prevalence of representatives with vested, protectionist interests does not bode well. These are often the people who spent recent months pushing misinformation and food scare stories. We have catalogued just how inaccurate these arguments are in a number of recent BfB articles (see here, here and here). How can we hope for a sensible approach to new trade deals if the government is taking its advice from these ‘experts’?
In happier news this week, Brussels has finally backed down on its unrealistic proposal to stop European firms using London’s clearing houses. London’s clearing houses are world leaders in the facilitation of derivatives trading, and many EU financial services firms depend on them. This is a clear win for British negotiators, who were right to recognise that the EU had no real alternatives and would have to compromise in the end.
As the FT reports (through what must be gritted teeth), “London dominates the European market for swaps and futures clearing, handling the bulk of the €735tn market, and Europe has few alternative venues to cope with the volume of business…. Brussels has repeatedly urged the financial sector and companies to adapt to the fact that Britain is leaving the single market; the EU also adopted legislation last year to make it easier to force clearing houses to relocate to the continent. But progress has been slower than the EU had hoped and investors have kept their business in the UK.”
Meanwhile, the latest figures show that 1153 new inward investment projects came to the UK in the year to March 2020. This is more than in the year before the Referendum, so little sign of any reduction in foreign confidence in the post-Brexit UK. Together with expansions in foreign-owned firms, 56,000 new jobs were created. Almost half came from the USA and more jobs came from India and China than from Germany, France and Italy combined.
On the website this week
Does Soaring Debt Matter for Post-Brexit Britain? By Graham Gudgin
The UK faces a range of unforeseen challenges as it leaves the EU Single Market and Customs Union at the end of the year. One worry suggested by some financial commentators is that the Covid pandemic will leave the UK with an unsustainable public debt. This article argues that this does not represent a serious problem.
“Japan has had a debt twice as large for decades and we grew rapidly through the post-war decades with a much higher debt than we now face. Let’s worry about something else.”
Economist Harry Western, notes worrying signs of a serious and well-organised insurgency aimed at forcing the UK into close alignment with the EU. The most worrying of these developments is the announcement of a new agricultural commission to advise on food standards and trade policy. This was set up in the wake of an aggressive and well-funded campaign, led by the NFU, which featured a mass of misleading claims and scare stories about food imports.
“There is an almost total absence of genuine expertise in the field of agricultural trade and economies.”
Lying by omission, propaganda versus choice in food trade, by Catherine McBride
Economist Catherine McBride argues that the FT uses blatant propaganda on trade with the USA, simplifying farm standards down to illogical sound bites: Chlorine washed chicken is bad, but chlorine-washed salads fine. Their underlying argument is really US: bad and EU: good.
“Essentially, the UK is a captured market for EU food producers – and they hope to keep it as such by denigrating any potential competition.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion also continues over on Facebook.
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 speak to 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