The Three Brexiteers
Not a novel by Alexandre Dumas, but the sorry saga of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis, respectively running the Foreign Office, International Trade and the Brexit Department. We’ve been regaled with turf-war stories about the three of them for some time, as clearly their responsibilities overlap, creating an ideal ground for conflict. I don’t propose to analyse all the twists and turns, but I do recommend a thoughtful piece by Philip Johnston. He looks at the structure and concludes that it was designed by Theresa May to create chaos. Was her objective to see the Brexit planning hit a brick wall, providing an excuse to revisit the decision? Or was it merely a way of responding to the voters whilst ensuring that decision-making remained securely in Number Ten? We shall see.
TAP – She will have to decide what to do, or otherwise Fox could resign, and campaign against her from the back benches leading a rebellious group of eurosceptics. She will have to take turf from the Foreign Office which is traditionally the europhile a part of the Civil Service and allocate some of its former powers to International Trade, or see her BRexit design collapse. Why did she create International Trade if she didn’t see a role for it? Fox will likely get more support amongst MPs than Boris Johnson. She will have to bite the bullet.
Positive post-Brexit jobs news
City AM sums it up “Jobs miracle defies Brexit doomsayers”. The FT, a little more measured, has “Fall in jobless claims confounds forecast of culls after Brexit vote”, adding “The labour report was much stronger than we expected, and surprisingly robust”. Another Project Fear prognostication bites the dust. I have previously reported on a series on industries who have (rather surprised and even shame-faced) admitted that the anticipated Brexit slow-down has failed to materialise, so it was encouraging to read in yesterday’s Telegraph “Car sales showed no signs of slowing down in the first half of the year, and dealers are confident of further growth despite the EU referendum.” But with the lower pound, we may anticipate an advantage for UK manufacturers.
No post-Brexit recession
A key plank of Project Fear was the forecast that Britain could face a post-Brexit recession – a point repeated endlessly by George Osborne & Mark Carney, amongst others. But now ratings Agency Moody’s (which stripped the UK of its Triple-A credit rating after the EU vote) has said that it no longer foresees a post-Brexit recession. And the stock market is in positive territory – now higher than before the EU vote.
“London dines out on Brexit Bonanza”
In a heartening headline, the London Evening Standard leads with “London dines out on Brexit bonanza.” It speaks of “London’s remarkable post-Brexit boom” as tourists and locals alike dine out. Tourism has been boosted by the lower pound. Takings are robust in the hospitality business (though it has to be admitted that many of the employees in hotels and restaurants are migrants from the EU or elsewhere).
“2.2 million EU migrants working in Britain”
The Express reports latest figures showing that 2.2 million EU migrants are working in Britain – and the figure is up by 238,000 in the last twelve months. The total figure for foreign workers is now 3.45 million – over a tenth of the workforce. And workers from the eight former Communist countries in the EU number a million. Of course no one suggests that these workers should be sent home – and many UK businesses would struggle if they lost them. Nonetheless it is vital that we take control of our borders so that we can decide the rate at which immigration is allowed, and ensure that only workers with necessary skills are admitted.
German Minister recognises the economic importance of UK
During the EU referendum, we heard all kinds of sabre-rattling from Brussels, and the Remainians were keen to insist that the EU would “punish” the UK for having the temerity to leave. I, on the other hand (along with other Brexiteers) insisted that EU/UK trade was so vital for the continent that they simply could not afford to be without a UK free trade deal. We pointed to the huge trade deficit which the UK has with the rest of the EU. Remainians tried to wriggle out of this self-evident fact by insisting that although UK exports to Europe were much less than imports, nonetheless our exports amounted to a higher percentage of our GDP than did continental exports to the UK as a proportion of their GDP (as though we bought our dinner with percentages, not money).
Now, it seems, the Leave position has been endorsed by no less a person that Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Roth, who said that Britain could be given a “special status”. He added “Given Britain’s size, significance and its long membership of the EU, there will probably be a special status which only bears limited comparison with other countries that have never belonged to the EU”.
“London banks eye continental locations”
It’s not all good news. The Indy (of course it has to be the Indy) reports that major international banks based in London are looking at contingency plans, and renting office space on the continent, while they wait to see the detail of any new trade deal between the UK and the EU. Of course large commercial organisations are entitled to consider future developments and to make contingency plans – they would be irresponsible not to do so. Nonetheless I believe that the City’s strengths in financial markets will be sufficient to weather the storm – and that workable trading arrangements will be put in place. This report sounds rather like a desperate attempt by the Indy to keep project Fear on life support.
Norway writes down its UK property assets
Norway’s massive sovereign wealth fund has written down its property assets in the UKby 5%, citing uncertainty after the Brexit vote. This is maybe a responsible and conservative decision – but it’s worth noting that UK house prices continued to rise in the run-up to the Referendum, up 8.7% year-on-year in June, compared to 8.5% in May.
“Race hate crimes up after Brexit vote”
The Remainians lost the argument and the referendum – but now they’re seeking to adopt the moral high ground by blaming the Brexit vote for a rise in reported “race hate” crimes. There is of course no possible excuse for hate crimes of any kind – but there are also many other factors in play beside the Brexit vote. May I suggest:
- The broadening of the definition – any incident is now a race hate crime if you want it to be.
- The intense media coverage of the issue leading to increased reporting levels
- Race hate crimes may be an (unjustified) reaction to the horrific spate of terrorist atrocities we have seen on our TV screens in recent months.
- Race hate crimes may be a response to the rapid growth of legal and illegal immigration (which Brexit seeks to resolve)
- They may be a response (again unjustified) to the large numbers of reported sexual assaults on European women by migrants.
It is both facile and prejudicial to attribute the reported rise solely or primarily to the Brexit vote when so many complex and inter-related factors are in play. It appears to be part of an organised effort to portray Brexit voters as ignorant, isolated and racist. “Spiked” has an interesting and thoughtful analysis of this trend. http://www.spiked-
Migrant problems in Paris
The Mail reports that French police have removed 900 migrants from camps in Paris – but they are rapidly filling up again as a hundred a day arrive. Europe’s migrant crisis shows no sign of abating. Thank heaven we have the English Channel. All we need now is to police it (and, of course, Brexit).
Roger Helmer MEP (UKIP, fomerly Conservative)