The Withdrawal Declaration has been signed by both sides, and people across Britain are preparing their parties (or, for the die-hard Remainers, wakes).
As our contributor Titus notes, the EU signing on the dotted line does not mean that our relations with them will necessarily get a lot easier. The Commission has accepted that the UK will leave, but nonetheless aims to ensure such continuity of rules and regulations that we may as well not leave. It seems that the government is more prepared for EU tactics this time around – including the EU’s insistence that major issues are aggregated – but officials will need to up their game.
Meanwhile the European Parliament debated its forthcoming Future of Europe Conference with aim of interacting more with the people. This is likely to be a reaction to the shock of Brexit but what was striking was the lack of direct reference to Brexit. The mood was mainly congratulatory with the Deputy President of the parliament saying that the EU had been a great success growing from 6 to 28 members. She added that one (unnamed) member state was leaving but she thought that this would be temporary. Our impression was an organisation in denial.
It is perhaps promising that the first to go in the Labour leadership election was Jess Phillips. Her campaign was hampered by a series of uninspiring performances, notably her suggestion to Andrew Marr that she could campaign for Rejoin. Emily Thornberry, who has also failed to make a break with longstanding pro-Remain stance, looks set to be next.
Sajid Javid has spent the week telling Davos that ‘Britain is back’ and ready for business. The IMF agrees, predicting that the UK economy will grow faster than that of the EU assuming an orderly Brexit at a little under 1.5%pa. None of this is very impressive for any of the countries but once again the doom-mongering economic predictions of the Brexit naysayers are shown up as hysterical and small-minded.
Javid said that the UK will focus on getting a deal with the EU first. America waits in the wings, providing the government with a means of sparking EU jealousy if required. But US–British relations are not without their own tension points, particularly surrounding the question of Huawei. It is this the tricky new balancing act which Boris Johnson must now get right.
BfB co-editor Graham Gudgin had a letter featured in The Times this week. Graham cited polling evidence to point out that Times columnist Matthew Parris was on decidedly shaking ground when he claimed that there was increasing support within Northern Ireland for Irish unity
Our other co-editor, Robert Tombs, has written a piece for today’s Mail on Sunday, entitled ‘Finally our future can match our past – a self-governing island nation with a global horizon’. In this wide-ranging article, Robert rehearses the benefits of Brexit and discusses what should be done with this historic opportunity.
On the website this week
A young academic writing under the pen name ‘Titus’ shows how the EU continues to put difficulties in the way of a sensible trade agreement.
“‘The EU has time and again used the brinkmanship of “no deal” to extract concessions, and revelled in the ticking-down of the clock.”
Britain Must Not Play the EU’s Aggregation Game, by Caroline Bell
The EU is trying to resurrect Theresa May’s vassalage treaty in the Brexit trade talks. Britain must not play their game of aggregating a swathe of issues if it wants a free trade agreement which gets Brexit done, argues pseudonymous civil servant Caroline Bell.
“Eurocrats are still clinging to the notion that even if they cannot stop Brexit, they can so hobble us with red tape that we might as well not leave.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
You can also join the discussion over on Facebook. Michael Castiau responded enthusiastically to Titus’s piece: “Brilliant article that clearly explains why we should not even consider an extension beyond the end of 2020. Can’t wait to be rid of the EU yoke!!!” Nor can we, Michael.
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 see 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