It’s one year since Boris Johnson came to power. And what a year. Brexit is certainly in a better place now than Theresa May left it, with the ‘Botham for Boycott’ swap a roaring success. When December’s thumping election victory finally ended the Commons’ Brexit stand-off, it felt like we had entered a new political world. Brexit would actually happen.
Alas, within a few weeks of 31st January and the Brexit day parties celebrated across the country, 2020 sprung a rather less pleasant surprise. The Government’s response to Covid-19 has been less than impressive. Nonetheless, its resolve on Brexit has not wavered and Britain has enjoyed a number of successes in negotiations. Here’s hoping Boris will keep the momentum up, and manage to end this grim year on a high with an acceptable free trade deal.
The Rejoiner establishment (as they must now be called), however, have not let up either. Long term BfB readers will remember the long running saga of HMRC’s exaggerated estimate of the cost of post-Brexit customs declarations. You will be amused/appalled (delete to taste) to hear that the farce continues. HMRC first reported the cost to companies of customs declarations at £20 billion. Then it was £13 billion. This week’s figure is £7 billion, which we still view as greatly exaggerated. No surprise that the FT accepts the latest HMRC figure without question.
Meanwhile, MPs in the Commons continue to display a worrying lack of understanding of the dynamics of agricultural free trade. Boris came to power on the back of the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’. The challenge of the next year will be to persuade voters of the advantages of Brexit. A large minority of the population remain sceptical about the whole endeavour, and even some Brexit supporters might be wondering whether it is really such a good idea in the middle of a global pandemic.
The answer to these questions is simple. As Catherine McBride reports in two articles for BfB this week, there is a strong positive case for Brexit, particularly when it comes to tackling food poverty. New free trade deals will mean cheaper meat, without compromising standards. In the context of the Covid crisis, the government should be shouting from the rooftops about the ways in which Brexit promises to improve public health.
On the website this week
A quiet word with David Frost, by Adrian Hill
In its present form our whole national security fiefdom is a pointless duplication of several responsibilities, starting with the Prime Minister, Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary. What should we do? Former soldier and diplomat Adrian Hill offers a few friendly suggestions.
“Diplomats must take on board that their value is what they know about diplomacy and they need to educate themselves about what security policy really involves at the sharp end.”
Farm protection or meat poverty – your choice? By Catherine McBride
Catherine McBride exposes the protectionist motives within the Agriculture Bill currently going through parliament. Catherine has also written a longer report on beef, described in the ‘Reports’ section below.
“It is not a tragedy that a section of the UK population can afford the roast potatoes but not the roast beef to go with them: because a tragedy implies that its cause is outside your control while the high cost of roast beef in the UK and the EU is entirely self-inflicted.”
The True Cost of Customs: The UK should not be afraid of its own shadow, by Shankar Singham
There has been much heartburn caused today by the £7bn number being thrown around as to the cost of customs declarations as the UK leaves the EU customs union. Shanker Singham adds his weight to the arguments made previously on this site that HMRC exaggerate the cost to companies of making customs declarations.
“No-one has ever doubted that there is a cost to leaving the customs union. The point is that those costs are quite small compared to the enormous opportunities which are opened up if the UK can execute an expansive trade and regulatory policy.”
Where’s the Beef? By Catherine McBride
Dr Catherine McBride explains the realities of international trade in beef including the reasons for the use of hormones. She argues that importing grass fed beef from countries with more grazing land than people may be a better for consumers by lowering meat prices, help reduce UK obesity as well as UK food poverty.
“Why do UK politicians believe that the USFDA is omnipotent when it approves the latest cancer drug approval but a fool when it approves the use of hormone treatments in cattle?”
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