It was a week for thinking about Britain’s chequered past. There was some thoughtful reconsideration of how we might be more candid about our role in the early modern slave trade. Seventeenth-century slaver Edward Colston was thrown in the river – in what some have seen as poetic justice for the slaves thrown into the sea during the Middle Passage, and others have seen as an unfortunate triumph of mob rule over constitutional means of change.
Colston’s swim in the Bristol docks may have prompted an overdue discussion, but things have since become rather sillier, with debate springing up about statues of figures including Gandhi and Gladstone. Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament square being boxed up has to be one of the more ridiculous happenings in Britain in recent years. The moderate majority (of all races and genders) agree that for all Churchill’s faults, winning a war against Hitler is a pretty good thing to celebrate. Extremists on all sides will surely only shoot themselves in the foot if they continue with this madness.
As Telegraph cartoonist Matt noted, there are – alas – no statues of Michel Barnier to pull down. His statute book, on the other hand, is there for the dismantling. The EU shifted away from its long-term strategy of saying it is ‘open’ to an extension, now saying that an extension is their preferred option. The UK government has been wise to call this longstanding bluff, and has reiterated again this week that they will not be asking for or agreeing to an extension.
Much media coverage of the UK proposal for light customs checks for six months into 2021 were described as a U-turn but they were nothing of the sort. It has been government policy for some time that trucks will undergo only light checks coming into the UK to allow firms to get used to new procedures and to prevent all of those massive holdups that Remainers so confidently foresaw.
On the website this week
Whither – and whence – the experts? By David Landsman
Has the Covid crisis meant that ‘experts’ are once again in charge? Before we jump to conclusions, it might help to ask which experts we should listen to, on which subjects, and on the basis of what criteria.
“We need to acknowledge how expertise is nuanced, not to say paradoxical. Only a few weeks ago, that might have sounded like a heresy, but it seems we are learning (again) that “following the science” isn’t as simple as it seems.”
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. June Slater enjoyed David Landsman’s piece on experts, calling it a ‘great piece’ and sharing it on her own pages.
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