This week I spoke to former Vote Leave staffer Hugh Bennett to discuss how Vote Leave managed to beat Britain Stronger in Europe and the might of the British establishment.
The leadership of Welsh Labour passed from Carwyn Jones to Mark Drakeford after he beat Vaughan Gething and the peer and former MEP Eluned Morgan in a three-way contest. All three contenders for the position of Wales’s First Minister are typical of Welsh Labour’s delusional continuity Remain tendency.
Despite representing Leave-supporting areas of Cardiff including Ely, Fairwater and Caerau, Drakeford used his first press conference to announce the Welsh Labour Government would campaign for Remain in the event of a second EU referendum. He has called for a “second public vote” if Parliament did not back continued participation in the Single Market and “a customs union”. During the leadership election he told the New Statesman he is not a Unionist and does not have a strong sense of British identity, a sentiment more apposite to metropolitan Islington than Islwyn.
Left Foot Forward called the runner-up Vaughan Gething an “anti-Brexit Labour politician” out of touch with Leave-supporting Llanrumney, St Mellons, Rumney and Trowbridge in his Cardiff South and Penarth Senedd constituency. In his ‘People’s Vote’ leadership bid Gething demanded a second referendum “with a Remain option”. He told an audience it would be “wrong” and “awful” for the Welsh Government to prepare to leave the EU and wrote in the Independent that “Welsh socialists have a duty to fight [Brexit]”.
Baroness Morgan “still really hopes” Brexit does not happen, despite House of Commons Library estimates which suggest that 53% of voters across her Mid and West Wales regional list seat voted Leave.
It will irk Welsh Labour’s eurofederalists to think that the 50 pence Brexit coin will be pressed at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant. Nonplussed by their anti-Brexit machinations, Cardiff City Manager Neil Warnock spoke for Wales when he told Bluebirds fans he didn’t “know why politicians don’t do what the country wanted… They had a referendum and now we see politicians and everyone else trying to put their foot in it.”
The oligarchs are coming for Wales’ electorate whom they despise as parochial and déclassé. Over 60 Welsh MPs and AMs from Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Lib Dems, the Welsh Green Party – along with NUS Wales and some Welsh Media Bubble talking heads – recently signed a Wales for Europe letter demanding the First Minister presses the UK Government and Jeremy Corbyn to back the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ campaign.
Calling themselves ‘Welsh Europeans’, Wales’ elitist uprising claims Brexit is a “severe threat” to the people of Wales. Apparently Welsh voters cannot be trusted to decide what is in their own economic and political interests. It is as if they are ashamed of who we are.
Yet the purchase of their ‘European’ identity outside the Cardiff Bay bubble is very weak (YouGov found only 4% of Welsh respondents primarily identify as European) and highlights how out of kilter they are with Wales’ electorate, who backed Brexit in larger numbers than anything in a Welsh election for over two decades.
These are often the same discredited politicians who wanted Wales to join the European Single Currency. As part of Wales in Europe, Baroness Morgan said back in 2001 “we will pay a price if we turn our backs on this historic opportunity” to join the Eurozone. After Wales’ Brexit vote she said “people need to understand that they will pay a high price for the vote that took place last year”. She was wrong then and she is wrong now.
The Welsh Labour Government remains derelict in its preparations for Brexit. Welsh Labour Assembly Members have now backed a Senedd motion calling for preparations to commence for a second Brexit referendum if the UK does not remain in the EU’s so-called single market and a customs union – and an extension of Article 50, despite JP Morgan warning that delaying Brexit would be the ‘worst-case scenario’ for the economy leading ‘firms to choose other countries’. In the previous week, the Senedd Plenary was dominated by staged ministerial Brexit statements dubbed “Project Fear on steroids”, causing further mayhem through scaremongering.
The Welsh Environment Secretary objected to DEFRA’s Food is GREAT campaign featuring at the Royal Welsh Show and said “I don’t want to see the Union Jack on the food hall”. Her ‘Brexit in our land’ consultation has now slipped back to the summer.
And a hundred days left before Independence Day the First Minister turned down a meeting with Theresa May to discuss Brexit, instead choosing to attend a Labour fundraiser in Cardiff.
By contrast the Wales Office and UK Government have picked up the baton of Wales’ Brexit. The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, recently launched UK Research and Innovation in Wales. The Board of Trade has announced £240 million worth of Welsh energy and infrastructure projects to global investors. And Cairns accompanied the Prime Minister on her mission to Africa championing Global Wales, unlocking opportunities for Welsh businesses and showcasing pioneering Welsh firms.
Welsh Labour’s Brexit catastrophising bears no relation to Wales’ real economy where the dragon spirits are flying high. HMRC figures in September showed a 4.2% increase in Welsh exports to £16.6 billion compared to the previous quarter as Welsh businesses discover new export opportunities outside the EU.
There have been major votes of confidence in Wales’ industrial and manufacturing workforce. Hans Fischer of Tata is upbeat about the post-Brexit future of the UK’s biggest steelworks at Port Talbot. The Belgian Solvay Group opened a major facility for aerospace adhesives at Wrexham. Raytheon UK will create hundreds of new jobs at its North Wales hub to service the RAF’s shadow aircraft fleet. Aston Martin’s new St Athan factory is set to create hundreds of jobs. And Europe’s leading commercial vehicle accessory manufacturer Rhino Product UK built a new factory in Deeside.
Wales for Europe Chairman Geraint Talfan Davies told the New European that Wales would not be the “odd one out again” among the devolved nations in a ‘People’s Vote’. Yet Drakeford should think twice before endorsing the Wales for Europe letter. November’s Welsh Political Barometer (YouGov for UTV/Cardiff University) found opposition to a second referendum in Wales up four points to 49%. And August’s ComRes Brexit Express poll found that across Leave voting Welsh seats that returned a Labour MP in 2017, 61% think we should respect the result.
Speaking candidly, Baroness Morgan told WalesOnline the reason why Stronger In’s campaign during the EU Referendum in Wales failed – in spite of near full spectral dominance – was because “we didn’t listen enough to people”. She went on to tell Fabians Cymru “We [Welsh Labour] can no longer take the votes of our traditional working class for granted.”
Rhodri Morgan once described Wales as a “blue collar nation”. The workers of Wales optimistically voted for Brexit hoping that leaving the EU would bring better prospects, opportunities and more control. By contrast, Welsh Labour’s pro-Brussels tendency makes it look like an oligarchic party for those with privilege, money and power who seek to take hope from those who have none.
Welsh Labour politicians have a duty to deliver on the will of the Welsh people expressed through their Brexit mandate. Yet they have not once reached out to work with those on the Leave side of the debate, instead working in contempt of Wales’ voters to derail Brexit with confused calls for both a General Election and a ‘People’s Vote’. Increasingly they seem a class apart. If they will not respect the result then the people of Wales will have to tell them again and tell them louder.
The post The Welsh political elite are still holding the Brexit-backing population in contempt appeared first on BrexitCentral.
It is now well known that, if resurrected, the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement would keep the UK under EU rules and regulations, but without representation in the system that makes them, through a potentially immovable backstop.
What is less understood is that, even since the referendum in 2016, this EU system has moved on. As the recent European Foundation paper Behind Closed Doors shows, EU decision-making, never democratic by any standards, has in the last decade become even less accountable and transparent. A system that has always concentrated power in the hands of small “law-making groups” – the Commission and Council in particular – has become even less democratic, making the rationale behind its laws more opaque yet.
To grasp how the EU has functioned until recently though, it is worth briefly outlining what its structure was intended to be, through comparison with the UK Parliament.
In the UK, Parliament is the law-making body. In the Commons, all members are elected; the other house, though not directly elected, acts in an advisory capacity, and cannot veto laws. All proceedings are televised, every word transcribed. The Government is drawn from Parliament, with its ministers answerable to it, and they must appear before it frequently. This Government can be removed at set intervals, along with every other member of the Commons.
The EU, meanwhile, is a system of law-making groups, the most important being the Commission – a small, unelected gathering, where note-taking is banned and whose chamber none may enter without the Commissioners’ permission. Only the Commission may propose laws. These progress to the Council, which passes legislation through a qualified majority vote (QMV), following the abolition of the national veto. The Council is attended by Coreper (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, i.e. Member States’ ambassadors), which tries to reach agreement on Commission proposals before they get to the Council. How Coreper reaches agreement is also hidden, but 70-90% of decisions are now made this way, then adopted by the Council without further discussion. The European Parliament meanwhile cannot propose law, often is not consulted, and typically can be ignored.
While the Commission has always been an obstacle to transparent decision-making, after it initiates proposals the Parliament and Council are supposed to be able to amend and occasionally block them. Our research suggests that, as the Commission takes greater control of the EU system, even this little capacity is being seriously undermined.
At the heart of this is the growing use of “Trilogues”, small and little-known negotiating groups that operate on behalf of the Commission and Coreper. Designed to be subject to even less oversight, they are “a legislative body in [their] own right” and “possibly the most powerful, [governing] the overwhelming majority of legislative procedures”.
These Trilogues include a small number of Commission representatives, MEPs, and civil servants. They aim to secure legislative agreement before any transparent process occurs, giving the Commission even greater control while preventing the public knowing why laws are being made. Once Trilogues agree a text, neither the Parliament nor Council are able to change it, so with national scrutiny rendered “difficult, if not impossible”, Member States’ ministers now have little involvement.
Moreover, in both the European Parliament and the Council, the UK is now the country most often on the losing side, with Germany and an entrenched bloc of its Eurozone voting allies the most frequent winner. Even before it loses all representation in the EU institutions, the UK is already consistently outvoted on issues of profound national interest, like financial regulation, and has been unable to achieve any meaningful reform to this system.
These developments are disturbing indeed, as the continent that gave the world democracy and equality before the law is increasingly governed away from public view. Remaining under this system’s rules – either without representation, as the Withdrawal Agreement proposes, or via a second referendum – would severely undermine our democracy.
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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has swung into full ‘Project Fear’ mode with its latest claims that ‘UK Automotive (is) on red alert as ‘no deal’ threat sees manufacturing and investment plummet’ and ‘Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs’. Not for the first time, the SMMT has gone completely OTT.
Let’s deal first with the actual data. UK car sales and production did fall sharply in 2018. But it is misleading, to say the least, to attribute to this to the ‘no deal’ threat. As the SMMT itself acknowledges, the global auto sector is reeling from multiple shocks, including the diesel scandals and a sharp decline in demand from China. Indeed, when commenting earlier on the UK sales figures, the SMMT barely mentioned Brexit at all.
Some further context: 2016 marked a cyclical peak for the UK car industry, with sales flattered by cheap finance deals, the launch of new models and the last of the pent-up demand from the recession. A correction was overdue, regardless of Brexit. And while the UK was the weakest of the major European markets in 2018, sales data from the European trade association ACEA show that the decline of 6.8% here was matched in both Norway and Sweden.
What about the reported collapse in ‘investment’, down almost half on 2017 to ‘just £588.6 million’? To be fair, there is plenty of evidence from other sectors of the economy that Brexit uncertainty has made companies more cautious, and it would be no surprise if this has impacted the auto sector too. But these statistics still need a major health warning. They are not hard numbers for actual spending.
Instead, they are ‘SMMT calculations based on new, publicly announced investment decisions in 2018 covering genuine commitments to fresh spend on new product, tooling, equipment or facilities’. Even taken at face value, these numbers are likely to be highly volatile from year to year.
A lot has also been made of the shutdowns planned for April as a precaution against ‘no deal disruption. Again, a sense of perspective is badly needed. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), for example, is planning to extend its usual seasonal shutdown by just one week. To put this in context, JLR closed its main Solihull plant for two weeks in October last year, due largely to the slump in demand from China. It also extended the usual break over the Christmas and New Year holiday period by one week.
Nonetheless, all of this has been used as evidence that a ‘no deal’ Brexit in particular represents an existential threat to the UK automotive industry. Unfortunately, the sector has form here. The car makers warned in 2000 that they would leave the UK if we did not adopt the euro. Indeed, Nissan was still threatening to do so in 2004.
Of course, leaving the EU is potentially a bigger shock than remaining outside the single currency. Nonetheless, the comparison is valid. Membership of the euro would also reduce barriers to trade with the EU (by reducing currency risk and transactions costs, and increasing price transparency). However, it would only do so at the cost of losing control over key aspects of the economy (independence on interest rates and exchange rate flexibility) and potentially being on the hook for large budget payments to other members (the Greek bailouts). Car makers might only care about the former, but politicians also need to think about the latter. At the very least, the fact that the auto industry has cried wolf before makes it perfectly reasonable to ask whether it is doing so again.
To be clear, I understand why many businesses, including car makers, are worried about Brexit and especially the extreme ‘no deal’ scenarios: the potential for new tariff and non-tariff barriers, including border delays that might disrupt complex just-in-time supply chains. They could do without the hassle and additional costs. But there are two key points here.
First, there are still many ways in which these new barriers could be minimised. Both sides would have a strong vested interest in keeping border delays to a minimum, and tariffs may not be as big an issue as many assume either.
For example, the worst case assumes that, outside the EU’s Customs Union, manufacturers would have to pay the (actually quite low) tariffs on components every time these cross the new UK-EU border. As it happens, the number of times that this happens is usually exaggerated. But in any event, this ignores the many trade facilitation arrangements that already apply to parts imported from outside the EU, such as inward processing relief, which should also protect UK-EU supply chains from cumulative duties.
Tariffs on the finished cars themselves could be more of a problem, though this may also depend on the proportion of inputs coming from the EU. But if we are talking about worst case scenarios, these usually include another large fall in the value of sterling which could maintain the competitiveness of UK exports. Indeed, research by Deloitte has suggested that a ‘hard Brexit’ could do far more damage to the German car industry than our own.
The second key point is that even if there is some additional disruption in the short term, a ‘no deal’ Brexit could simply be an alternative stepping stone to a free trade agreement that addresses all the auto sector’s concerns. In other words, even a disorderly exit, while clearly far from ideal, need not have any lasting impact on investment or jobs.
To sum up, I’m not going to tell the SMMT how to make a car. But I do think it’s right to question what the industry is assuming about how Brexit might play out, and to view their darkest warnings with a healthy dose of scepticism.
The post Don’t believe all the car industry’s prophecies of Brexit doom appeared first on BrexitCentral.
As a loyal Conservative activist since the age of 18, I do not want to see the party I love torn apart and there is no need for it to be so. On Tuesday evening the party came together to vote for the Brady amendment. Parliament and the party have shown that for us to move forward the ‘backstop’ must be removed and replaced with alternative arrangements as set out in detail in the Malthouse Compromise. This gives the Prime Minister a way forward to ensure we Leave the EU on the 29th March 2019 with a deal.
However, our UK negotiating team thus far have made some serious errors and that is why eurosceptics felt confident enough to vote for the Brady amendment based on the fact that the negotiating team would be changed. So, this needs to happen, or Brussels will ignore us again. It is positive that Remainers and Leavers have come together with the Malthouse Compromise which seeks to reassure all sides’ concerns and helps us leave keeping our promises intact.
In proposing a motion to the governing body of the Conservative Party, the National Convention, I have sought to do the same. The motion provides support to our Prime Minister to deliver on our promises that we should Leave the EU on the 29th March, whilst countering various ‘helpful’ suggestions that only seek to thwart Brexit. It states:
“The National Convention supports the commitments the Prime Minister has made to the country to honour the European Union Referendum result of 2016 so that having triggered Article 50 we will leave the European Union on the 29th March 2019. Another referendum, a delay beyond the European elections, taking ‘no deal’ off the table or not leaving at all would betray the 2016 People’s Vote and damage democracy and our party for a generation.”
The other unacceptable suggestion I should have added is Jeremy Corbyn’s demand that we stay in the Customs Union which, as we well know, is the EU without a vote or veto.
The important thing is that we leave on 29th March. I mentioned the European Elections because, quite frankly, it would be ludicrous if we were still forced to undertake such a process. It would be costly, send the wrong signals and many Conservatives would refuse to campaign.
So, it was disappointing to read a PoliticsHome report on the motion which wrongly claimed that signatories to the motion were ‘willing to stomach’ a delay. Any reader of the motion can see its purpose and intent and we look forward to the debate.
It would be foolish too to take no deal off the table. This is a trap which forces us into a corner with little bargaining power. No wonder the EU love to tell us they won’t tolerate ‘no deal’! And no wonder Corbyn supports taking ‘no deal’ off the table. He does not understand the power play in negotiations. This is the same reason he supported CND. It was not CND that brought the Soviet Union to the negotiating table but Reagan’s Star Wars programme.
The Conservative Party is now united in searching for the best solution to take us out of the EU on the 29th March 2019, ensuring we take back control of our laws. The backstop has to go in its present form and we must not be in the Customs Union, so enabling us to agree far-reaching global trade deals and thus honouring our commitment to the referendum vote of 23rd June 2016. We support the Prime Minister in this endeavour.
The post The Conservative grassroots expect the Government to ensure we are out of the EU on 29th March appeared first on BrexitCentral.
In becoming a clash of caricatures, the Brexit debate loses sight of the main problem. The liberal intellectuals and Euro-enthusiasts who have fought such a long rearguard action to stop Brexit without admitting it, see Brexiteers as out-of-date jingoistic Blimps keen to go back to the days of empire and neo-liberal fanatics anxious to build a low-tax, de-regulated, free-trade hell in our green and pleasant land.
Remainers see themselves as progressive modernisers defending liberal principles, environmentalism and the good society all springing from a benign EU which they understand, love and are ever ready to explain and justify – even to the extent of justifying its desire to punish us on the grounds that they can’t do anything else without endangering its wonderful future.
I’ve not met any Blimps, though I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been left behind by globalisation and Europeanisation. I’ve also heard a lot of noise from Euro-enthusiasts for whom the EU is a matter of religion. My conclusion is that both sides are happier fighting symbols than looking at Britain’s economic problems and the effect the EU has on them.
Brexiteers regard the EU as an undemocratic imposition. Remainers see it as a great adventure in international idealism, building a federal union. Neither picture is real. The EU is essentially a protective bloc set up to provide powerful German manufacturing and expensive French agriculture with a wider protected market. The question Britain must face is whether that serves the different interests of a nation with a weaker manufacturing base which imports 80% of its food.
This is made worse by the euro acting as a series of guy ropes keeping the German exchange rate down, making its products even more competitive. The result is huge German surpluses at everyone else’s expense, particularly ours. Added to our growing contributions to belong – and the higher food prices necessitated by the Common Agriculture Policy, this means a steady drain of jobs, money and demand from failing Britain.
This can’t go on. Our annual deficit is around 4% of GDP – one of the biggest in the world. Because we can’t pay our way, we must borrow or sell our companies, property, farms and businesses. This creates a series of vested interests like the German firms BMW and Airbus threatening to withdraw, the car-makers demanding subsidies to stay, the big multinationals lured in by soft deals and low taxes sending their profits abroad, and the importers all tied to the protective bloc. The question now is whether this process of absorption has gone so far that the EU is better able to throw out our government and change it policies than our Parliament and people.
The EU is the problem. It should require Germany to redistribute its surpluses and end the enforced deflation of weaker economies in order to boost the stagnant EU economy. We need the ability to trade with expanding markets, buy food from developing countries and a reduction of contributions – giving us a return and no longer contributing to subsidies given by other members like the £130 million handed by Slovakia to Land Rover. It also requires equalisation of business taxes so countries like Ireland, Luxembourg and Holland can’t syphon off tax due in this country by low tax competition.
Remainers should (but don’t) show their concern by persuading the EU to accept it rather than devoting their efforts to undermining Britain’s case. It will be hard enough to get reform in an EU which prefers hypocrisy and puts its own interests first, yet if nothing is done, it’s surely better to leave the sinking ship.
Oliver Letwin was in the news on Tuesday night after he made an emotional Commons speech with some notable contents.
One eyebrow-raiser was his obviously daft statement that he was “past caring what deal we have” with the EU and would vote for one whatever it contained just to secure an orderly departure. It is not quite true so say that only an intellectual could say something so stupid, but nonetheless that part of his speech was easy to appreciate as and dismiss as meretricious drivel.
But, in my judgment, there was a second bit of nonsense too that this time takes a little more analysis to unpack. It was the notion that should the UK experience significant economic and other difficulties after a WTO Brexit, then the British public will inevitably blame the Conservatives and as a result the Conservatives will suffer dreadfully in elections for many years to come.
This was Mr Letwin’s effort to appeal to the self-preservation gene of inherently eurosceptic colleagues, no doubt based on a not wholly unreasonable view that not all of them are immune to considerations about their own ongoing personal political prospects.
Let me explain why I think he has it completely wrong on this score and why in fact the politics of “no deal” will work very well for the Tories (even if the economics are much bumpier than people like me predict they will be).
First off, if we have a no-deal Brexit on 29th March, nobody will be able to argue that this is because of a cavalier attitude from the Prime Minister. She has quite obviously bent over backwards to reach an agreement, in fact giving far too much of the Brexit vision away in the eyes of millions of Brexit voters.
A no-deal Brexit actually liberates us from the worst of her mistakes – agreeing to EU sequencing, making an unconditional pledge on the Irish border and legally committing to the farewell payment without getting the EU to legally sign up to their side of the bargain. Leaving with no deal takes us back to negotiating on level terms with the EU as its best customer. Ireland, on the other hand, is left in the weakest position.
Mrs May and the Tories will have ultimately opted – in a choice forced by Brussels – to prioritise patriotism over the wishes of the Big Business lobby. All of the Brexit-minded press will swing behind her – the Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph. She will have faced down the EU bullies and, to be frank, only a few Remoaner wet lettuces are going to care about occasional shortages of certain fresh vegetables.
The British public always sides with a British Prime Minister standing up for our country in the face of bullying from abroad – whether by other individual nations or supranational bodies. It will do so again.
There will be an appetite for a “Buy British” campaign should the EU kick up rough at the borders. The resilience Brexit voters have shown in the face of multiple iterations of Project Fear will show itself again. And, crucially, this experience will also cast a searching light on the patriotic credentials – or lack of them – of the Leader of the Opposition.
At the 2017 election Tory hit jobs on Corbyn’s links with the IRA, Islamists and the rest did not gain traction because he was a plucky underdog fighting his corner in a contest called by a Prime Minister who dared not show her face in debates. But if in a contemporary crisis about Britain’s right to govern itself, Corbyn’s Labour appears on the side of the foreign bully boy, all his form for not being patriotic suddenly becomes relevant and telling.
Likewise, May’s obstinate and ponderous nature becomes a strength. She is wrapped in the flag. A point or two off GDP growth will not move the dial against her when the prize of national independence is being grittily secured. Without wanting to go the full Mark Francois, I merely observe that the collective national memory of what Britain does and must do in the face of bullying from a German-led continent is an extremely powerful and in fact unshiftable force.
Two-thirds of Tory-inclined voters are strong Brexiteers. It is the dithering that has turned them off in droves. They know leaving without a deal might be bumpy at first – how can they not when broadcast media has predicted everything from no medicine to no food to no jobs? Things might even actually be bumpy for quite a few months (though it is very unlikely when measured against the advance scare stories that the reality will be felt to be remotely terrifying). But nobody will think May has blithely gone for no deal without trying to avoid it by making reasonable compromises (as I must concede they might have done had Boris Johnson been Prime Minister).
Politically the downside of not leaving on 29th March as the Government has assured us we will from the off would be catastrophic for the Tories (as I spelt out in my last piece for this site).
The putative political downside of leaving – that economic dislocation leads to certain items being in short supply and some multinationals downscaling their operations in the UK and then that is transmitted into blame for the Tories and a surge for Corbyn – just doesn’t make sense.
The public mood is much more likely to be to flay the unpatriotic CEOs of said multinationals, whose reputation is not high in any case. The public have already indicated they think the upside of extra democracy and national accountability is worth any likely economic penalty. They have chosen the Brexit path with their eyes wide open.
Not doing it on 29th March would finally resolve in the eyes of most voters the question of which comes first for the Tories – love of country or love of money. It would tell Brexit voters that they do not count, are not respected and inhabit a nation in which the ruling class does not believe. It would also lead to Britain having either to take whatever appalling deal the EU was prepared to offer or inexorably to us not leaving at all. Britain would, as Lord Kerr predicted, have “come to heel” under a Tory regime.
So Oliver Letwin is quite wrong. In fact, I predict that the many blue collar voters in key Tory-Labour marginals will overwhelmingly break for No Deal and No Surrender.
There was a time, it is true, when the economic downside of a key Tory decision on European policy did cause the party a catastrophic and long-term loss of support. That was the ERM experiment. But in that case economic misery coincided with the surrender of national sovereignty for it involved, in effect, a UK commitment to shadowing the Deutschmark and thus giving up the ability to use exchange rate policy to promote Britain’s economic needs. Many people lost their homes and their livelihoods as a result.
So it is demonstrably true that if you impose an anti-patriotic policy and inflict severe economic hardship as a result, the electorate is going to give you a long spell in the cooler. But retaining, in fact regaining, sovereignty is a very different kettle of fish.
Even if the economic downsides to no deal turn out to be severe and protracted, British people would in my view overwhelmingly – and correctly – blame the intransigent EU and its partial blockades of our country. To the extent that they see it as an inevitable consequence of Brexit, the vast majority of those who voted for Brexit will also see it as a price worth paying.
So you are wrong, Oliver. No deal actually works beautifully for the Tories in a political sense. The party can even resolve internal splits by going for a patriotic election on the back of Brexit whenever it likes and allow the rump of anti-democrats in the parliamentary party who have tried to block it to be de-selected. My prediction is that their numbers will shrink very quickly indeed – I am still by the way awaiting the resignations of the “dozens” of ministers spoken about by George Obsorne’s London Evening Standard.
Follow this path and the communitarian, patriotic Tory Party with working class and provincial kerb appeal dreamt of by the likes of Nick Timothy will have been forged in a crisis.
Oh and the legions of Big Business will come back knocking on your door for a way in as they always do. This is one of the world’s most lucrative and profitable markets. The corporate class may not welcome having to find some new supply routes and do things a different way, but it will be in their financial interests to make those accommodations. And so they will do so.
They will also realise that while the Tory Party is no longer in their pockets quite as securely as it was, it is still a much better bet than those Marxists Corbyn and McDonnell who offer the one sure route to penury and economic chaos.
Politics is often a matter of judgment and time will tell who is right. But my view is that Oliver Letwin has got it completely wrong. And let me sign off by observing as gently as I can that if that does turn out to be the case, then it wouldn’t be for the first time.
The post Ignore Oliver Letwin – the Tories have nothing to fear from a no-deal Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.
“If things go very wrong it will look like it looked 20 years ago. It would involve customs posts, it would involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up.”
So said Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Bloomberg during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.
Over the past few days, the Irish Government has been scrambling to play down those comments. In fact, our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, attempted to frame these ill-thought words as anecdotal in order to remind people what things were like before the peace process was finalised. But these comments unnecessarily antagonise our neighbours and jeopardise co-operation going forward; there is no explaining them away.
In a time of polarised politics and social upheaval, the leader of my country shouldn’t be making comments in jest about The Troubles in the North which resulted in the death of over 3,500 people. It is not appropriate, nor is it wise, to be smiling and joking on camera while thousands of people on the island of Ireland face an uncertain future.
The Taoiseach should recall the help we get from the UK’s armed forces. When Russian aircraft regularly enter controlled Irish airspace without their transponders on. it is the Royal Air Force that scramble jets to monitor the risk. So, as an avid member of the European Union that claims to be “United in Diversity”, why does Varadkar see it as acceptable to make a call to arms? Is it ironic or moronic?
Furthermore, the draft Withdrawal Agreement currently on the table proposes internal borders that directly contradict and undermine the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. There is work to be done, and we should work together. The assumption of a “stronger together” EU that works for us, not against us, may not be true in this instance. Let us segue to the story of Sir James Dyson to shed light on why we need to co-operate with our neighbours going forward.
Over the last week or so, the media in Ireland and the UK has been awash with criticism of James Dyson for moving his company’s headquarters to Singapore. In fact, it was met with raucous indignation by most media outlets as it was seen to be in direct contradiction with Dyson’s support of Brexit. This is either a simple assumption or a convenient opinion. Dyson has simply identified the shift in global trade and economic power away from the West – something the UK will soon be free to exploit on their own.
The reality is that the 21st century will see Asia increase in its ascendancy. During the first decade of this century, a rapid shift in the world’s economic centre of gravity showed the wilting power of the West and Europe. Airports such as Addis Ababa International in Ethiopia or Dubai International Airport serve as some of the busiest in the world due to growth in the South and East. It is time Europe adapted to this shift in power.
At present it seems highly unlikely that Ireland will be adopting our own portmanteau and rushing to have a referendum on Irexit, but maybe we can actualise some of the possible benefits the UK will see. With the UK soon to be creating their own trade agreements outside of the EU’s purview, Mr. Varadkar should seek to cooperate with our friends across the Irish Sea rather than antagonise them.
Perhaps the UK could become Ireland’s ‘Gate to the South’ rather than a conflict zone? Our Taoiseach’s salivating lips are anticipating a full plate of opportunity when Big Ben knells 11pm on 29th March; however, perhaps he ought to remember Pavlov’s dogs and be wary of an empty bowl. After all, friends make the worst enemies.
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One can’t help but admire how well Theresa May has defended her indefensible deal and the perseverance, firmness and skill with which she’s done it. If only she’d shown the same skills in negotiation with a tricky eurocrat whose brief was to ensure that Britain suffered from leaving…
Instead she’s negotiated on her knees, surrendered her cards and agreed massive payments (without securing anything) and become trapped in a Northern Ireland cage to end up with a deal unacceptable to both Brexiteers and Remainers. Now the Government is committed to the last resort of madness: repeating mistakes in the hope of producing a different answer. It may work, but it probably won’t. In which case it’s “no deal”, which the Cabinet will be scared to face.
That puts Britain in a desperate end game which can only be won by putting the ball back into the EU’s court, testing their unity and ability to negotiate sensibly, and facing up to damaging both Britain and their trade with us. So far, they’ve had the easy job of saying “no”, relying on their Remainer allies in Britain to undermine our government and its case.
Crunch time removes all the evasions and excuses for rejecting the will of the people, makes the pirouetting of Grieve, Benn and Cable irrelevant and forces government to firmness. Who else can now act?
The favourite excuse of those whose soft hearts control soft heads is a second referendum (the so-called “People’s Vote”). Not only would this take a year – and another £185 million – to organise, but it can’t happen unless there’s something to vote on. Which there isn’t until Parliament agrees a deal.
And the new centre party which Chuka Umunna and Mathew Parris prefer would have a gestation period longer than that of a mastodon. It really is wishful non-thinking. So is an agreement negotiated with the opposition, because Labour has no agreed alternative? Even if it had, it’s bound to conceal its disunity by futile demands for an election which ain’t going to happen.
The rising hope that Parliament will seize power from the Executive and impose its own decision, is another impossibility. Parliament can’t agree. Most MPs are Remainers in a nation which voted the other way. It can’t negotiate. Its aim is to give instructions to the Executive and it can’t even agree on what those are.
So, we come back where we started, to a Prime Minister and her divided Cabinet. All the ultra-Brexiteers have been dropped, but the Chancellor and his mates are ready to cancel withdrawal if their weak deal for Brexit without Brexit fails. Another section will resign if there’s a sellout.
So far, they’ve failed to get the EU to agree to any of the usual fudges or accept the essentials from control of immigration to the ability to negotiate new trade deals. Emboldened by the British Remainers with whom they collude, they’ll be as unhelpful to Theresa as they were to David Cameron.
Which leaves only two ways forward: Leave without a deal, relying on the fact that they desperately need our money and can hardly deliberately damage us without arousing the anger of the British public and a world which will be eager to displace their exports on our market; or go back with new proposals for a better deal, which they can hardly refuse to discuss seriously.
Both demand more courage and a greater sense of the national interest than anyone has shown so far. They also require an understanding that the manufactured fears about “no deal” are enormously exaggerated. But either is the only way Britain’s elite can avoid humiliation and alienation by serving the will of the British people.
Photocredit: © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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I fear the British people are about to experience the worst betrayal in political history.
I use the word betrayal as I did in my letter (published in last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph) to the Conservative Party Chairman, Brandon Lewis, just after the recent No Confidence vote in the House of Commons. I hope others in the Party will join me in uniting against this heinous act committed against the will of the 17.4 million brave people who voted to Leave in the 2016 referendum.
The British people voted to leave despite “Project Fear” doom-mongers telling us that if we left the European Union the country would be plunged into our darkest economic period since the 1920s. All the so called ‘economic experts’, including the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, predicted mass unemployment, that the pound would plummet and how we would be outcasts in the wider world. It simply has not happened. May I remind you that these are the same ‘experts’ that predicted all of the same back in 1999 if we didn’t join the euro, which is now failing.
Across the eurozone, we are witnessing fear and discontent amongst the people, the once mighty economy of Germany is struggling, the French people are rising up against Macron’s economic reforms and the further confederation of the EU superstate. The average European citizen is witnessing a decline in the individual economic growth of member states, resulting in the decline of countries such as Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
Who on earth would want to be part of a club in such decline? Immigration across Europe is surging, largely due to the wealthy and permissive societies of Europe becoming more and more attractive to those who seek a better life.
This failing economic and political experiment will undoubtedly bring about the demise of the great European integration master plan.
The ballots had barely been counted for the Brexit vote before the plotters began their plan to reverse the will of the people and attempt, by hook or by crook, to lock us into the failing and corrupt European Union. Shamefully, the architects of this betrayal sit in Parliament itself. Parliamentarians have decided in their infinite wisdom that we, the voters, have made a huge error of judgement and to act in our best interests they must take control of the Brexit process, because they know best.
I made it perfectly clear in my earlier letter that the British people will never forgive the Government for its utter dereliction of its duty if it fails to carry out the will of the people. We are now being told that if parliamentarians don’t get behind the Prime Minister’s plan, which would tie to us the EU forever, we risk the delay of Article 50, a second referendum or worse still “no Brexit”. The British people will not tolerate it.
The time has come to send a very clear message to those parliamentarians and remind them that the referendum result was clear. The will of the people must be implemented in its entirety. Conservative MPs and the Government must stop seeking to deny us the Brexit we voted for and unite behind leaving under WTO rules if the EU refuses to make amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement.
If democracy is to survive in the United Kingdom, our elected officials must stand and deliver.
The Government has just over sixty days to save Brexit and regain the faith of the British people. Failure to do so would consign the Conservative Party to the history books as the public would hold us responsible – and who could blame them?
Back in 2017, when the misguided snap election was called, Tory activists turned out in their droves to campaign for the party. Regrettably, because of the Government’s badly-managed handling of Brexit, in Hornchurch and Upminster the long-standing party faithful are not renewing their membership. Our strong group of activists who would turn up week after week, no matter the weather, for local campaigning no longer bother to turn up. These are the people whose efforts have paved the way for MPs and councillors like me to get elected. Without them, the party is doomed. If the people are betrayed, what is the incentive for local activists to come out and campaign?
I personally would find it extremely difficult to remain a member of a party that was hell bent on reversing the will of the people and if someone like me feels that way, who has dedicated all of my adult life to the party, what hope can we expect from the electorate?
I urge the Prime Minister, the Government and all Conservative MPs to think carefully about the damage the anti-Brexit, anti-democracy stance has had on our Party. The British people did not vote for a deal, they voted to Leave and that must be delivered. Make no mistake – failure to do so will send the party to oblivion.
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