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Newsletter 19 April 2020

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We’re all going to be locked down for another three weeks, but the good news is that the government is said to be considering a partial return to school by 11 May, along with the re-opening of some shops.

Dear Subscribers,

We’re all going to be locked down for another three weeks, but the good news is that the government is said to be considering a partial return to school by 11 May, along with the re-opening of some shops. Unfortunately, pubs, restaurants and cultural and sports events are unlikely to be among the first wave but a return to normality is on the horizon.

For us Brexiteers the other good news is that the UK government stated categorically that Britain will not ask for an extension to the Brexit transition period, nor will it grant the EU an extension if it asks. This is exactly the right stance.

Some are arguing that the pandemic makes it unwise to leave the customs union and single market in December thus inflicting a further burden on weakened firms and on over-burdened public authorities including HMRC. Part of this is of course Remainers trying their luck yet again. We encourage the Government to stick to its guns. The current crisis has proven a stark reminder of the desirability of leaving the EU as soon as possible. In this time of crisis, we will be better off being able to act without regard to EU regulations and spending limits.

As some EU sources have reportedly started to recognise, the current crisis has made walking away without an extension or a deal easier for the UK. One of the stronger arguments against a no deal exit was that it would inevitably cause some short-term economic disruption. Against the backdrop of the much larger disruption wrought by the virus, these bumps in the no deal road are unlikely to cause alarm. Even so, both the UK and EU are unlikely to want to add to the current unprecedented levels of economic difficulty.

Once it is clear to the EU that the UK is not for turning, a quick free-trade agreement could be the best way of avoiding new tariffs. Even a temporary agreement would do, and this might include no customs checks in return for a short-term moratorium on regulatory divergence. The EU will, as usual, claim that its inflexible procedures make special measures difficult to introduce but surely it can see that its ponderous legalities are undermining its future.

One example of the EU getting in the way of progress comes from Ireland. Almost three months after last February’s general election in which Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party Ireland still has no government. The two large mainstream parties have now finally put together a set of principles to entice minor parties into a coalition. These principles steal Sinn Fein’s populist clothes, but everyone knows that they can be funded only with huge borrowing. At the same time the minor parties understand that Eurozone rules will prevent this borrowing from ever materialising. No-one in Ireland is holding their breath.

On the website this week

Blogs

Turning a crisis into a calamity – the EU’s coronavirus failure, by Anna Bailey

Political scientist Dr Anna Bailey examines the political crisis that has developed in the EU over its financial response to Covid-19. While the EU has managed to muddle its way through the numerous crises thrown at it over the past decade, the deal reached last Thursday does not appear to offer a resolution to the current crisis, but has merely kicked the can a little further down the road.

“To paraphrase a Russian saying, you can’t spread ‘sorry’ on your bread. With populations under lockdown and unable to earn, governments need to provide their citizens with financial support.” 

A Brexit Tutorial, by David Palfreyman

The vote for Brexit was dismissed by its opponents as the result of insular ignorance and prejudice. But serious analysis, such as now exists, shows it as the predictable consequence of major social and political changes, both in Britain and round the world. David Palfreyman, of New College, Oxford, offers an Oxford-Tutorial-esque reading list.

“As Readers under COVID19 lock-down exhaust that pile of novels they hitherto had never had time to (re)read, here is, Oxford Tutorial style, some reading for an essay on ‘Why did the UK vote Brexit in 2016?’”

The UK is the Eurozone’s dumping ground, by David Blake

Professor David Blake, of Cass Business School, argues that the EU is following a classic ‘beggar thy neighbour’ strategy with its trading partners, in particular the UK, by exploiting the Euro’s structural undervaluation.

“It is quite shocking that the new German president of the European Commission calls for zero dumping, when her own country is one of the world’s biggest dumpers of goods onto world markets.”

Brexit – and why the transition period must not be extended beyond December this year, by Shanker Singham

As Covid-19 rages around us, putting the economy of this country and the world into a self-induced coma, EU officials and some in the UK have questioned whether the ambitious deadline of concluding the EU-UK FTA by December this year has in fact been rendered a “fantasy land” – and argued there should be an extension of the transition period. While the EU is unlikely to seek an extension, it expects and hopes that the UK will. But, as Shanker Singham explains, if the UK makes any such request, it would be falling into a trap from which it might never escape.

“Radical steps will be needed to help developing countries to escape this Coronavirus catastrophe. The UK will have no flexibility to execute them and help to build private sector growth in these countries if it has to continue the EU’s policy of regulatory bans.”

Briefings

UK-EU trade talks: a view from Japan, by Kazuhito Yamashita

Trade expert Dr Kazuhito Yamashita offers a Japanese perspective on the UK-EU trade negotiations and explains why the UK is in an advantageous position over the EU. He questions the EU’s unequal treatment of the ‘level playing field’ and suggests that the EU is making unreasonable demands of Britain which it did not make of Japan and Canada when it reached FTAs with them.

“The European Commission’s demands on the U.K. leaves one wondering if the EU has become more arrogant than the U.S.

Reports

Is France Too Big To Save?  The Debt Crisis In The EU, by Professor Russell Napier

President Emmanuel Macron has recently warned of the collapse of the EU as a “political project” unless it supports stricken economies and helps them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.  There is no indication that the so-called “frugal states” are ready to contemplate debt mutualisation.  Professor Russell Napier suggests that permanent damage will flow from the inability to create the necessary institutional framework at the EU level and the failure of the Euro, or even of the EU, is a probable outcome of the current crisis.

“The European Commission’s demands on the U.K. leaves one wondering if the EU has become more arrogant than the U.S.”   

Social Media

Twitter 

(@Briefings­_Brit)

We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.

Facebook 

Discussion also continues over on Facebook. On the question of an extension to the transition period, Stephen Saunders make a point that will be weighing on the minds of Tory ministers, ‘Extension = no reelection.’

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.

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Yours Sincerely, 

Newsletter Editor

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

About the author

Briefings For Britain