Going into the Parliamentary Recess the Government has adopted twin strategies in the wake of its Chequers White Paper. Firstly, the new Cabinet team are being more assertive in the face of EU intransigence. We wait to see whether this means much. Secondly, preparations for ‘no deal’ are being stepped up.
These ‘no deal’ preparations send out two simultaneous messages. The EU are being told that the UK has an alternative to a bad deal, but they are unlikely to believe this for a minute even if they are talking up their own ‘no deal’ counter-measures. The ‘no deal’ preparations are also being used as ‘project fear 2.0’ aimed at the UK electorate. It is no coincidence that support for a second referendum has overtaken opposition for the first time.
On his first trip abroad after replacing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt announced his fear that without a ‘change in approach from the EU negotiators’ we face a real risk of ‘no deal by accident’. In a statement which did not treat a no-deal scenario with undue pessimism (a new and promising thing in statements from Theresa May’s government), Hunt went on to note that, ‘Britain would find that challenging, but in the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically’. The real danger, said the Foreign Secretary, was that it would turn Britons against the EU ‘for a generation.’
Dominic Raab has proven similarly bullish in his first days as Brexit Secretary, branding Brussels’s fear-mongering over the risks of no deal ‘irresponsible’ and ‘obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure’, and emphasising that UK payment of a £39 billion divorce bill is conditional on the EU ‘fulfilling its side of the bargain’.
Meanwhile, the EU has reacted to the Government White Paper with characteristic inflexibility, with Michel Barnier ruling out the UK’s customs proposals. Further discussions of the plan is likely to take place at a meeting in Salzburg on 20 September, which has been billed as Theresa May’s ‘last chance’ to sell the Chequers plan to European leaders. Viewed as unworkable by Brexiteers, Remainers and EU officials alike, this looks like an act of persuasion May is ever more unlikely to pull off. The Tory membership are close to revolt, and an Autumn crisis is ineviatable.
Can’t we, just for once, hear from some sensible Brexiteers? John Rentoul for the Independent
BfB co-founder Professor Robert Tombs has been touted as the face of ‘moderate Brexit’ by John Rentoul in the Independent (even if Mr Rentoul remains less than impressed with Robert’s stance on the Chequers agreement).
“There is a good case for a middle position. One of the few people who expressed it well was Robert Tombs, the Cambridge professor and author of The English and Their History. He argued that most peoples of Europe are sceptical about the EU, but that the British have always been more so – and that the decision to join in 1973 was the product of temporary economic crises. ‘Yet it was based on a fundamental misconception,’ wrote Tombs. ‘When measured over the whole half century from 1950 to 2000, Britain’s economic performance was no different from the European norm.’
Munira Mirza – Leaving the EU & opening up the UK to true Internationalism
Munira Mirza is an acclaimed essayist and writer, as well as a former Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture in London. In 2012 she published her book ‘The Politics of Culture: The Case for Universalism’. She talks to the BfB podcast about her support for a more liberal immigration system than that available within the EU, and also touches on the narrow-minded reaction to Brexit displayed by those working in the Arts.
“In many ways the British public are better informed than the political elite on this. Various people in the Lords who are trying to thwart Brexit would be better off seeing how we could get a good deal and how Britain could work differently after Brexit. Something has been opened up in peoples’ minds and we have to honour that in some way.”
Kate Hoey, MP – Thank goodness we are now leaving the EU!
Kate Hoey, the ardent and long-standing Brexiteer Labour MP for Vauxhall, discusses what she thinks Brexit means for Britain and her conviction that this will ultimately be good news for Britain. In this lively podcast, Hoey also discusses the ‘monstrously stupid’ scare stories about a No Deal scenario given airtime on the Today programme, and her views on the recent Select Committee appearances of Olly Robbins and Dominic Raab.
“If he [Olly Robbins] is leading in our negotiations I can see why we are being done over. I thought Raab was much stronger, and I liked some of the statements he and Hunt were making about a No Deal situation.”
Our Blogs this week
No compromise now over democracy By Richard Tuck
Prof Richard Tuck, Professor of Government at Harvard University, argues that leaving the EU is essential to restore trust and transparency in our politics. While debate within a democracy like the UK has to operate openly, the EU, as an intergovernmental organisation, encourages secrecy and mistrust.
“International negotiations have always been pre-eminently the arena in which governments act secretly and spring faits accomplis on their citizens… to make important decisions through international bargaining, decisions which then structure the economy, and even to some extent the society, of a member state, as those made through the EU institutions must do, is to bring secrecy into the heart of domestic politics.”
What The Brexit White Paper Means for Financial Services By Nicholas Thompsell and John Worthy
Nicholas Thompsell and John Worthy, partners at Fieldfisher, look at how the UK government proposals will affect businesses in the financial services sector. This useful guide examines the pros and cons of the Chequers proposals.
“For financial services businesses, the key requirement is a clear and predictable regime for cross-border trade. The White Paper offers a glimmer of hope that this can be achieved, but the devil will be in the detail – and the lack of time to deal with it.”
Brexit is a wake-up call to the EU, but so far it is not being answered. By Paul Sheard
Paul Sheard is the former Vice-Chairman and Chief Economist of S&P Global, which includes the international ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s. He argues that the EU needs to recognise that a flexible, political approach to negotiations is the best way to guarantee sustainable future relations with the UK. Instead, however, they have been trying to operate through a fixed, technocratic approach.
“The European Union is a fundamentally flawed political and economic entity, resting as it does on a selective and inconsistent sharing of sovereignty by 28 nation states. That is a harsh judgment, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”
“No Deal” is Coming Up Fast on the Rails by Rob Lee
Rob Lee contends that the recent White Paper on Brexit offers no realistic prospect of future trade deals, no effective parliamentary control over many of our laws and regulations, the continued supremacy of the ECJ in key areas, and no independent immigration policy. Thus the probability of the “no deal” scenario has risen dramatically.
“The terms “soft” and “hard” Brexit were always misleading – “messy” (which is what the government is now aiming for) and “clean” are much more properly descriptive.”
The Subscribers’ Views page on the website allows subscribers to submit their own articles. Submissions welcome. We’ve recently added two new posts.
Looking at Brexit from on top, rather than from underneath, by Sir Peter Marshall
Sir Peter Marshall advocates rebuilding the World Trade Organisation, which has never had the clout nor the resources required for it to do its ever-expanding task.
Competition Law and Brexit – a Lesson from History, by Nick Pimlott and George McLellan
In this light-hearted article, Nick Pimlott and George McLellan argue that Competition lawyers are steeped in EU law but forget the English origins of law on competition and monopolies.
We are also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/briefing4brexit retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the National News. This week has seen a particularly impressive response to Kate Hoey’s podcast appearance, which on the latest count has received 47 replies 521 retweets and 1,068 likes.
Discussion continues on Facebook, with a particularly strong response to Munira Mirza’s podcast. Alice Digby comments, ‘Brilliant upbeat interview. Thank you Munira and Briefings For Brexit.’ Carol Haley adds, ‘Beautifully put. If only our so called leaders would engage with the Leave people instead of appearing to only take note of the remain sides wishes and wants!’.
How you can help
Do keep reading our posts, and tell others about us. We want you to 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. By sharing our content and articles we hope that we can increase public understanding of the real impact of Brexit on the UK.
We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
You can follow us on twitter https://twitter.com/briefing4brexit
Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BriefingsForBrexit/.