Michael St George’s selections for comment from recent Brexit-related media articles.
NB: (£) denotes article behind paywall
The country cannot afford to extend the Brexit deadline – Centre for Brexit Policy
In its full paper to which the headline piece is a summary and introduction, the CfBP shows that extending the transition period for two years would cost the UK economy £380billion.
At any time, this represents a penalty which no democratic government should impose on its people unnecessarily and in effect in defiance of the mandate given to it by the people when asked. But this is not ‘any time’. We are starting to emerge, painfully and hesitantly, from a Government-imposed Covid-19 lockdown of the economy which may not even have been necessary, which has seen the State intervene in the economy to a massive degree, and which will already burden the taxpayers with the costs of servicing and repaying at least £300billion of additional borrowing.
On both economic and democratic grounds, there is scant, if any, justification for extending transition and thus delaying full Brexit still further, even if that means, in the light of the EU’s continuing intransigence over a future trade deal, exiting to WTO terms.
It comes no surprise that the instigators of the latest plea to Barnier and the Brussels Eurocrats, intended to delay or preferably stop Brexit using Covid-19 as a transparently disingenuous excuse, comprise the usual suspects of the arch-Remainer, anti-democratic, minority parties of the ‘Liberal’, State-Socialist and Green Left.
The plotters’ claims of ‘significant opposition to the UK Government’s refusal to consider extending the timetable’ are tenuous at best. Recent polling shows a majority in favour of ending transition by December 31 or even earlier, particularly in the blue-collar electorate Red Wall constituencies which deserted Labour at last December’s election. Nowhere other than London is an extension favoured.
Moreover, the supplicants’ reference to the alleged backing for an extension from the (both Remainer and Socialist) Scottish and Welsh governments is irrelevant. As both Brexit and trade negotiations are competences reserved to the UK’s national government, and thus indisputably outside the scope of devolved matters, the regional administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff have no political equivalent of locus standi in them. They, and their Westminster MP mouthpieces, should be ignored.
This welcome, if long overdue, pledge was included in the negotiating documents released by the Government on Tuesday. Given the considerable political significance of the UK regaining ultimate control of fishing rights applying to its own territorial waters as part of any trade talks, despite the industry’s marginal economic importance, any retreat from such a robust promise should carry dire political consequences. What ‘any measures necessary’ means, however, is left vague; the phrase will carry weight in negotiations only if it is made clear from the outset that it excludes undesirable concessions as a trade-off in other areas which are less politically visible.
Also welcome is the news of impending tariff reductions on up to 60 per cent of global imports, holding out the possibility of both food and household appliances being cheaper for consumers under new trade arrangements.
Finally, the opportunity appears to have at last been taken to reject the EU’s persistent negotiating intransigence, in which it has shamefully been supported by the diehard Continuity-Remainer rump in the Whitehall, Westminster and media Establishments. Frost’s letter to Barnier embedded below is the letter which should have been written and sent three years ago.
Supporter of and occasional contributor to TCW, Dr Lee Rotherham locates the current drive for pan-European strategies on healthcare, ‘climate change’ and taxation in response to Covid-19, promoted assiduously by the Merkel-Macron, Franco-German axis, firmly within the EU’s history of exploiting international crises to increase integration and accrete unaccountable centralised power to itself at the expense of sovereign democratic nation states.
Notwithstanding the setback handed to both the EU’s latest power-grab and ECB bond-buying programme by the German Constitutional Court, the latest drives towards integration carry the inevitable connotation of higher contributions from member states. The UK is already exposed through its European Investment Bank liabilities, and any extension to the transition period would involve fresh UK contributions into the next multi-annual budgetary planning system.
Another reason – as if one were needed – for refusing any extension and exiting transition on time.