This week the news was dominated by the budget and the question of how far Phillip Hammond’s plans are reliant on a Brexit deal. To us at BfB, the whole debate looks more like an excuse for political point-scoring than anything of substance. Our editors have gone to print this week (see Media below) pointing out the manifold ways in which the dangers of a no deal scenario have been overstated.
Dominic Raab has taken a ‘fact-finding trip’ to Ireland. There are reports, however, that behind the scenes, the civil service is still trying to concoct a way in which Northern Ireland can be kept in the Single Market and Customs Union. The DUP have understandably expressed their concerns about the sea border which such a plan would introduce. It is unbelievable that any plan involving divergence between Northern Ireland and Great Britain should still be under discussion. It is only a few weeks since the last debacle over the Irish border, which saw Dominic Raab fly to Brussels to pour cold water on similar proposals from overzealous civil servants.
Predictably, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had told Raab that Brexit has ‘undermined’ the Good Friday Agreement. The BBC and others have been treating this as ‘news’. In fact it is merely the continuation of his longstanding strategy of dramatising the border issue for political gain, on which BfB has been reporting for months.
‘A no deal Brexit is nothing to fear’: Robert Tombs and Graham Gudgin in Prospect
This week BfB founders and editors Professor Robert Tombs and Dr Graham Gudgin have written an article published in Prospect magazine, in which they discuss claims that a no deal Brexit will be an economic disaster. They show that such claims are based on statistical exaggerations. In reality, there is nothing to fear.
“In brief, there may be some short-term disruption due to a no deal, but we see no reason to expect long-term damage to British living standards.”
The article can be found here: https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/economics-and-finance/a-no-deal-brexit-is-nothing-to-fear
On the website this week
Why Negotiating With Brussels Has Been A Waste of Time (and Money) By Robin Dunbar
Robin Dunbar, emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy, says we should not be surprised that negotiations with Brussels have proved fruitless. He highlights the similarities between the experiences of British negotiators and those of Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Finance Minister. He argues that such intransigence is in the nature of the EU’s top-down structure of power.
“It’s a reflection of a fundamental malaise in its design and of the bureaucrats’ attitudes towards the member states – an inability to engage in a grown-up discussion and a paternalistic “We know what’s best for you, so behave yourselves in the back row” attitude.”
Brexit and Science Funding: What Exactly is the Problem? By Sir Noel Malcom
Sir Noel Malcolm, FBA, Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, explores some dubious claims about post-Brexit science funding made on the Today programme by Nobel prize-winner Sir Paul Nurse. He concludes that science funding is not endangered by Brexit: the government has already committed extra funding to scientific research to plug any post-Brexit gap. Moreover, Britain will still be able to take part in the EU’s excellence-driven science funding programme after Brexit, as long as we make an appropriate financial contribution. The government, scientists and Brexiteers are all committed to making such a payment. It is likely Britain will gain greater net funding after Brexit than it did before.
“All attempts to put figures on the UK’s contribution to any particular area of spending will rest on assumptions that are open to question; but here at least we have the basis for a simple comparison. We have been paying 10.7% of the total EU budget, and receiving 9.64% of the disbursements for research.”
Brexit in Name Only: Causes and Consequences By Dr Lee Jones
Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary, University of London, and co-founder of The Full Brexit, argues that the government’s botched job of negotiations risks making the divide between rulers and ruled in the UK deeper than ever. Brexit was a chance to for politicians to ‘tear themselves away from the Westminster cocoon and its umbilical linkages to other European capitals, and start representing what British electors want, after decades of disengagement’. However, the Remain-obsessed political elite are failing to take this opportunity, with dangerous consequences.
“This opportunity for democratic renewal now risks being missed entirely, with grave consequences. Any attempt to overtly overturn the referendum result, through a second referendum or similar, will result in the rapid resurgence of British populism… Crucially, if this happens, this will primarily be the fault of Remainers, not Brexit.”
Chequers White Paper. What has gone wrong and why? By David Blake
Professor David Blake of Cass Business School discusses why Theresa May rejected the option of a workable Canada-style free trade deal in favour of the universally unpopular Chequers proposal. He explains what he calls the Civil Service’s ‘Mad Hatter strategy’ and urges politicians to return to a Canada-style proposal which will not involve compromises on the Irish border.
“The PM turned down the EU’s offer of a Canada deal and we have ended up with the utter dog’s breakfast of the “Chequers White Paper”, with no trade deal in sight less than six months before leaving the EU, and with the UK now an international laughing stock.”
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, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion continues on Facebook too, with David Blake’s excellent article ‘Ten reasons that justify the UK’s decision to leave the European Union’ reaching over 4000 people with 116 shares from our page alone.
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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