Measured meteorologically or politically, it has been a sunny week for Britain. Briefings for Brexit is a non-party organisation covering a large part of the political spectrum. But we feel sure that nearly all our contributors and readers will welcome the arrival of a government which, for the first time since the Referendum – and indeed before – shows a clear and firm intention to take Britain fully out of the European Union.
We agree that that this should be carried out by 31 October, without requesting any further extension, for which there is no good reason. We are encouraged not only by the repeated unambiguous commitments of the new Prime Minister and his colleagues, but also by his appointments, both of ministers and advisors. Particular congratulations go to our contributor Munira Mirza, who has become head of the Downing Street Policy Unit.
We note Boris Johnson’s offer of a ‘new deal’ with Europe, to replace the disastrous May ‘deal’ which our contributors have strongly criticised. We trust a ‘new deal’ will be an offer to continue tariff-free trade with the EU, initially under Article XXIV of the GATT as advocated by several of our contributors.
But if the EU refuses this offer, we must proceed, as the Prime Minister says, towards a so-called ‘No Deal’. Briefings for Brexit has written extensively to show how ‘No Deal’ will not be the disaster that Remainers claim. We welcome the PM’s promise to deepen preparations for this possibility, which, as we have reported, are already extensive.
We shall continue in the coming weeks to provide detailed argument and data on the preparations that have been made and still need to be made, and the economic policies that can cushion the effects of a temporary disruption of trade. We also intend to contribute further to discussions on the economic, political and international future beyond Brexit.
The Prime Minister’s optimism is justified: with the right action, Brexit is not a threat but an opportunity to make our country a better place.
It is interesting to record the view of the establishment media on ‘No Deal’. This week’s Economist Magazine cheerfully states that a ‘No deal’ exit is a needless act of self-harm’ that will ‘hurt the economy, leave the country diplomatically isolated, and is ‘an existential threat’ to the unity of the UK. Boris Johnsons’s style is ‘unthinkably reckless’ and he is making ‘unrealistic promises on Brexit. Contact with reality the Economist says, ‘will be brutal’. In its view the country deserves a second referendum to revisit the ‘fantasy version’ of Brexit sold to electors in 2016. Parliament needs to stand in Johnson’s way to prevent him ending up looking not like Churchill but like Chamberlain. We are now only three months away from a potential No Deal, Let’s see if the Economist is as wrong about this as it was on leaving the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992.
BfB co-editor Robert Tombs spoke to Jon Snow on Channel 4 News, noting that there is little to fear from No Deal: “The likelihood is that we shall be suffering very little from Brexit if we do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, the work of the technical panel of Prosperity UK’s Alternative Arrangements Commission (which included our other co-editor, Graham Gudgin), was discussed by the panel’s chair, Shanker Singham, in the Telegraph. As Singham notes, “Boris is quite correct to say that the [Irish] border issue can be resolved without the backstop – and that he is right to show the unbridled optimism which comes so naturally to him, and which this country badly needs after three years of relentless negativity.”
As ever, we are eager to engage in discussion with those who take a different view from ours. Two of the most outspoken are the Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, and the Labour MP, Jess Phillips. We have written to invite them and also to David Gauke to express their views to Briefings for Brexit. So far, we have received no response from them, but we shall not give up.
On the website this week
Parliament has no sovereignty higher than a popular mandate, by Richard Tuck
Richard Tuck, Professor of Government at Harvard, argues that Remainers in the House of Commons, who have repeatedly asserted their right to ignore popular mandates, are defying the spirit of our democratic constitution and turning their backs on centuries of history.
“Modern Parliamentarians seem incapable of emulating the wisdom of their precursors and recognising that above them is still ‘the sovereign people of this country from which Parliament gets its authority’.”
The Case for Fiscal Expansion Post-Brexit, by Robert Lee
Economic consultant Robert Lee examines the scope for a fiscal stimulus package to support the economy in the post-Brexit period, particularly in the event of “no deal”. The author is a lifelong fiscal ‘hawk’ but concludes that a deficit of 3.0-3.5% of GDP – an increase of £40bn – can now be justified, especially if concentrated on infrastructure spending, and accompanied by supply-side reforms.
“Fundamentally, Hawks need to accept that the present low interest rate environment is likely to be maintained well into the future.”
Remainers should be frank about their real intention, by David Blake
David Blake, of Cass Business School, suggests that Remainers who want to block a ‘no-deal’ Brexit should be frank about their real intention. Their plan is for the UK to be subsumed into a United States of Europe with the most important laws determined by unelected officials in Brussels
“Hammond is now known as ‘Phil Guevara’ around Whitehall. Perhaps this nom de guerre is appropriate, since his hero Che helped to create one of the most undemocratic countries on the face of the planet.”
Retail banking in Australasia: A post-Brexit opportunity for UK regulated services? By George McLellan and Andrew Hood
With the UK’s pending departure from full EU membership and a ‘hard Brexit’ looking increasingly likely, British financial services companies are eyeing previously discounted options to expand in Australia and New Zealand as alternatives to closing EU markets. Andrew Hood and George McLellan, partner and associate, respectively, in the regulatory and trade practice at European law firm, Fieldfisher, discuss these options in detail.
“Three years of government dithering over what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be has increased the likelihood of the UK exiting the bloc without any confirmed trade deal, and left many services companies scrambling to find alternatives.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Over on Facebook, subscribers enjoyed reading about the opportunities provided by Australasian retail banking. Howard Wilkins noted that many ‘EU companies are dependent on the City of London for survival!’
How you can help
We urge our supporters to ‘take back control’ in our present confusion. There are thousands of you. Our MPs listen to their constituents. Write to your MPs. Perhaps send them copies of some of our articles (or links to them), especially when they are relevant to your local conditions – for example, in rural areas, on the threat to British agriculture. Better still, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery: they will take notice when people are lining up at their doors. Make you views known where MPs might be wavering, or where they are working to sabotage Brexit, especially in Leave-voting and marginal constituencies, which Richard Johnson listed in his recent article.
Do also keep reading our posts, and to tell others about us. Share links to our quality content so that others can understand how leaving the EU can 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.
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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