Boris Johnson likes his Brexit breakthroughs to come with a bilateral love-in. Who can forget the honeymoon couple-esque photo shoot that accompanied Boris’s announcement that he and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had settled their differences over the Irish backstop?
The worry is that this week’s visit by French President Emmanuel Macron is a precursor to a similar announcement. The photos are less romantic (as anyone affected by the lockdown ‘bonking ban’ knows, social-distancing and romance are not natural bedfellows), but according to Spectator columnist James Forsyth, they may herald a similar step towards a compromise.
But, as BfB contributor Harry Western discusses in an important article for BfB this week, Brexiteers should be wary of any quick fixes at this stage. The compromise discussed by Forsyth, and which the Financial Times has since suggested really is government policy, bears uncomfortable similarities to the much-reviled Chequers deal. It would involve the UK being free to jettison regulations, but the EU free to punish any such regulatory divergence with tariffs.
In reality, this would create enormous pressure for the UK to maintain regulatory alignment, while giving the EU carte blanche to introduce whatever new regulations it wanted and the power to threaten the UK with serious repercussions if it refused to fall in line. We hope the UK negotiators are not seriously pursuing this option, and that if they are, they will soon recognise the need to reconsider. We will all be watching this space.
On the topic of watching and space, this week also brings news that the UK is revising plans for its independent satellite navigation system to replace Galileo, from which it was vindictively excluded by the EU following the Brexit referendum. New, lower cost, proposals being evaluated include backing the OneWeb satellite company. The US is pressing the UK to develop something technologically different from GPS to reduce the vulnerability of the five-eyes intelligence system.
BfB contributor and Professor of Economics David Blake has written a piece for The Telegraph entitled ‘The EU must not be able to get away with using the UK as its dumping ground’. He argues that the EU is following a classic ‘beggar thy neighbour’ strategy, exploiting the Euro’s structural undervaluation to disadvantage the UK. The piece echoes an earlier piece Professor Blake wrote for BfB.
On the website this week
Brexiteers be alert for a ‘Chequers Mk.2’ deal, by Harry Western
The Government may be mulling a Chequers mark-2 deal. Brexiteers need to remain alert. As economist Harry Western explains, if the Brexit trade deal outlined in James Forsyth’s recent piece for the Spectator accurately reflects UK government thinking, supporters of a genuine Brexit should be deeply alarmed.
“The risk would be that huge pressures would be created for the UK to avoid diverging from EU rules, both the current rules and any the EU might choose to introduce in the future as divergences would trigger trade penalties.”
We Need to Up Our Game on Aid, by Nick Busvine
The merger between the Foreign office and DfID is a sensible move. Whether it will actually make any difference is another question. Nick Busvine, a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1982-2011, discusses the challenge.
“The only long-term escape route from poverty in the developing (not to mention the developed) world is economic growth. With the required preconditions in place, that growth has to come from enterprise, investment and trade.”
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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