Forget the World Cup, the coming week’s crunch match will be at Chequers on Friday. Mrs May looks intent on keeping the UK in a form of customs union that is likely to prevent the UK from striking new trade deals and will maintain Brussels’ influence over commercial regulation in the UK. Two Cabinet working groups will report on her favoured ‘Customs Partnership’ alongside the alternative Max Fac approach which would take us out of a customs union altogether.
In what looks awfully like a stich-up, the views of pro-Brexit ministers are being mis-represented in working group reports and ministers are only being shown selected portions of Number 10’s proposed White Paper on UK plans for Brexit. To forestall a revolt, the PM is asserting that she will stay as leader unless a majority of Tory MPs vote to displace her.
All of this comes on the back of a week in which Airbus threatened to scale back investment in the UK, wrongly reported as a fairly ridiculous claim that if there is no Brexit deal they will be forced to leave the UK, taking 14,000 jobs with them. Given that Airbus has previously said they were prepared to move production to China – which last time we checked is not in the EU – it does not seem credible that this has much to do with Brexit. Mrs May’s support for a customs union reflects heavy pressure from the vested interests of aircraft and vehicle manufacturers.
In fact, Airbus’s main problem is not over customs, since much of their trade takes place (unsurprisingly) by air. Rather, it involves safety certificates issued by an EU agency. Airbus noticeably did not address their complaints to Brussels, perhaps under the influence of their French and German owners. Since Airbus were also vociferous proponents of the UK adopting the Euro they do not always get things right.
BfB’s Media Coverage and Political Impact
The New Project Fear
We have been in communication with our politician and journalist friends, who have asked for our assistance in taking on the claims of the new Project Fear, and are helping us identify the most pressing areas in which to do this. If you want to listen to just one item to get to grips with the state of negotiations, and to hear concise rebuttal of the alarmists, we recommend starting with Dr Graham Gudgin’s podcast, on which more below.
Dr Graham Gudgin: A response to the new Project Fear
BfB co-founder Graham Gudgin discusses the most important issues surrounding the Brexit negotiations. This 28-minute podcast is a whistle-stop tour which cuts through complexity and refutes alarmist anti-Brexit claims with speed and clarity. Topics covered include:
- Errors in Treasury estimates
- The viability of a free trade deal
- WTO trading rules
- Technical solution to the Irish border question
- Pressure from business over the customs union, and the advantages of a customs deal outside the EU customs union
- Unsavoury tactics used by the EU which are stoking alarmist media narratives
We strongly recommend listening for a quick, reliable briefing against the ‘disasters’ being touted by businesses and the media this week, with concise explanations of why and how this new Project Fear is overstated.
“Last week Brussels banned the European Civil Aviation Authority from talking at all, and having any discussions with the UK… They are trying to put the squeeze on the negotiations to say if you don’t play it our way your planes may not be able to land…
“My reaction to that is: ‘Make my day punk!’ That is not going to happen. Can you imagine that happening? And the publicity hit the EU would take if it stopped planes, people from all over the world coming here and not being able to land. They are not going to do it but they have threatened to do it. A deal depends on the backbone and spine of the UK government.”
Dr Richard Johnson: Why the Labour Party should reject a “soft” Brexit
In a continuation of the work of BfB’s strong Labour contingent, Richard Johnson argues that the Labour Party should reject a “soft” Brexit and return to its internationalist roots:
“Outside of these trading institutions, including the Customs Union, we can forge humanitarian trade policies which are focused on restoring connections with former countries in the Commonwealth and so on. From a moral perspective, I think we have an obligation to be engaged with these countries around the world in Asia, Africa, in the Americas, and Australia and try and have an outward looking partnership with these countries which we just can’t do if we stay in the Single Market or the Customs Union.
I think for Jeremy Corbyn, who is an internationalist and interested in Latin American politics in particular, that gives up a huge opportunity to have trading relationships with these countries on a much more equal and humanitarian basis.”
Our blogs This Week
Remain and the Civil Service, by Pamela Dow
Part of our ‘Remainer Revolt’ series, Pamela Dow discusses the (often unintentional) ways in which the civil service is undermining Brexit.
“Talk to entrepreneurs about Brexit as the ultimate disruption and they see the possibility of new markets, access to new talent from across the globe, the opportunity to improve on lowest common denominator Commission policy. Talk to civil servants about Brexit as the ultimate disruption and they mobilise for damage limitation. They are trained to see risk and cost, not opportunity and alternatives.”
What Have the Remainers Not Understood? By Robin Dunbar
In another contribution to our ‘Remainer Revolt’ series, Professor Robin Dunbar argues that Remainers suffer from a complete absence of any appreciation of how the EU constitution works and how it came to be the way it is. He argues that the EU’s constitutional structure is rooted in the centralised uniformity of the French Revolution, leaving it inflexible and dictatorial:
“The revolutionaries’ solution was to devise a highly centralised administration that sought to impose Parisian views on the provinces… It hardly needs rocket science to recognise this as the model for the political and administrative structures of the EU, with its centralised, dictatorial bureaucracy based in Brussels.”
A Very English Coup d’Etat, by Gwythian Prins
In this article, originally published in the Spectator as a member of Veterans for Britain, Professor Gwythian Prins criticises the recent DEXEU Technical Note on defence collaboration with the EU, which includes ambitions to lock us into subordination with the EU Political and Security Committee and EU Military Committee: “We should have no institutional relationship on Defence and Security with the EU at all.”
Spectator link: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/06/a-very-english-coup-detat/
Is H M Treasury the Enemy of Brexit? By Graham Gudgin
Graham Gudgin examines the baleful role that the Treasury has and continues to play during the Brexit negotiations. Far from being neutral, the Treasury’s pessimistic economic modelling is politically-motivated.
“The Treasury’s role in spreading exaggerated pessimism does however continue to undermine, the already low, public confidence in official predictions. It certainly merits much greater public scrutiny than it gets either in parliament or in the media.”
The Subscribers’ Views page on the website allows subscribers to submit their own articles. Submissions welcome.
We are also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/briefing4brexit retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the National News.
Discussion continues on Facebook too, with our new blog by Robin Dunbar, ‘What have the Remainers not understood?’ attracting particular attention. Lorna Ainsworth comments, ‘Another excellent article from Brexit academics. What indeed do they not understand? Democracy?’ Peter Preston adds, ‘I have a “mole” within the EU Parliament, he fully understands how EU operates BUT Remainers even argue with him.’
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BfB Newsletter Editor