As British politics returned from holiday, Boris Johnson doubled-down on criticism of Chequers, likening it to a suicide vest, and is reportedly one of 80 MPs who will vote against May’s plans. He also joined Jacob Rees-Mogg and others in promoting an Economists For Free Trade Report, which suggested that a clean break with the EU could boost the economy by £1.1 trillion.
Like EFT we think that in the long run of a decade or so Brexit will expand GDP in the U.K. Our own estimates (to be published soon) are less bullish than the EFT’s and also include some short-term turbulence. The EFT make good points about how WTO rules will prevent much of the EU obstructiveness that Remainers predict.
This week also saw the chief executive of the London bank Coutts & Co., Peter Flavel, downplay any negative effects of Brexit. The Electoral Commission was criticised in the High Court for giving misleading advice to Vote Leave during the referendum campaign.
Vince Cable said something about a second referendum, again. Fortunately, nobody paid very much attention. Mark Carney agreed to extend his term as Bank of England Governor until 2020; final proof that non-EU unskilled migrants will be welcomed in Britain after March 2019? We can find no supporting analysis for Carney’s, widely-publicised and alarming prediction that house prices could fall by a third with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Our own analysis suggests no fall in house prices. This is yet another worrying sign that Project Fear without supporting evidence is becoming the norm from our great economics institutions.
The EU panjandrums also had a busy week as Barnier suggested a deal could be struck by November, an announcement which prompted a rise in the value of sterling earlier in the week. Donald Tusk clarified exactly why Britain needs the EU by releasing a movie trailer in which he shakes hands with various people. EC President Juncker found space in his State of the Union address to criticise Chequers, but failed to acknowledge the £1bn the UK has spent on the Galileo GPS system from which it will be excluded, or indeed the irony of the EU criticising Hungarian premier for ‘eroding democracy’.
The Salzburg summit of EU leaders this Thursday looks set to be an event of major importance, setting the tone for the final stages of negotiations. The Irish press say that there will be no weakening of EU negotiating guidelines at Salzburg, but if so we do not see the purpose of that meeting.
Our blogs this week
Seven reasons why another Brexit referendum is a bad idea by Tom Simpson
Tom Simpson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy the University of Oxford, argues his trade union the UCU should not support the campaign for a second referendum. He outlines several general reasons why a second referendum is a bad idea. Most importantly, he also outlines the opportunities which leaving the EU presents to UK institutions of higher education: the UCU will enjoy greater influence in Westminster than Brussels, and thus greater influence over how research funding is spent.
“Higher education will be affected by the policies that post-Brexit governments adopt, but UCU will have more means of influencing and contesting these once we have left the EU.”
Brexit: pollsters and press play bait and switch, by Bob Edwards
Dr Bob Edwards argues that pollsters do not have sufficiently reliable information on which to base the widely publicised claim that there has been a significant move back to remain in areas which voted leave. He provides a detailed critique of the recent and widely-publicised FocalData study, which claimed that “more than 100 Westminster constituencies that voted to leave the EU have now switched their support to Remain”.
“The only statistically valid statement that can be made on the basis of these data would be something like ‘we estimate that 5.6 percent of the YouGov panel, or 45,000 panellists, have switched from Leave to Remain’. About the remaining 46,103,000 electors, nothing can be said.”
Germany’s Strategic Perspective 2040 by Adrian Hill
In a wide-ranging contribution to our Subscribers’ Views section, former soldier and diplomat Adrian Hill questions how far German geopolitical ambitions are consonant with those of the UK. He explains that German dominance, foreseen by Thatcher in the 1980s, and its links to a malign Russia combine to pose a threat to the future of NATO, the UK and worldwide security. Miles advocates pursuing a more global alternative which embraces the commonwealth, encourages migration from and trade links with growing African and Asian economies and allows the UK to look beyond the hostile aims of Germany and Russia in making security arrangements.
“expect a gradual disengagement from NATO by the European Union countries led by Germany until eventually that leads to a Russo-German pact draped with a European Union flag”, instead “Britain has the gift of reinventing itself”
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. This week Richard Tuck’s proposal for the Irish border proved popular, and we were delighted to receive the following comments from followers:
Nick at EOR (@EarlyOakR): “Leave voters have a valuable ally in academia, in the shape of @briefing4brexit. A group of (under the circumstances) brave individuals, proving that intelligence extends both ways.”
David L (@DavidLuscombe2): “BfB crew are 1st class. been following them since they formed. Really well presented stuff on their website. Shame few people know of them.”
Discussion continues on Facebook too, with a strong response to Dr Bob Edwards’s debunking of polls suggesting support for a second referendum. Lorna Ainsworth comments, “Thank you Briefings for Brexit. Good to have some real brains on our side.”
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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