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TCW’s Brexit Watch


BREXIT Watch seems to have become Remainer/Rejoiner watch as we observe the resurgence of the establishment’s globalising remainers, opportunistically seeking to use the virus crisis to get the Brexit date extended indefinitely. 

Once again this anti-democratic alliance, still including Whitehall, it seems all too clear, trumpets the Project Fear message. The Labour Party’s refusal to accept the referendum vote was reheated by leadership candidate Lisa Nandy, claiming in the Guardian that the UK economy could not manage with a December 31 Brexit. 

The Financial Times’s Tony Barber weighed in, as so often before, in a newsletter calling Brexiteers ‘millennarians’ as if they were crazed prophets. He writes that their determination to avoid an extension of the transition period would cause chaos at a time when national economic survival is at stake. It is notable how the question of a nation state’s democratic mandate for Brexit is never seriously discussed by such eminences grises. ‘They’ know best, despite the terrible record of the Project Fear Treasury modelling. The real millennarians, of course, are the Remainer prophets of doom, unable to imagine a UK freed from the EU, able to feed itself from its recovered fishing grounds or to engage in manufacturing at home to a greater degree than now, though Nissan clearly has sufficient imagination. 

The prophets of doom have our globalised civil service on their side, similarly terrified of such a change. Yet it’s Priti Patel who is now proved right for wanting far better control of people entering the UK as EU states have closed their borders in response to the coronavirus scare, with her former Permanent Secretary looking distinctly out of date. 

It is fascinating to see quite how rapidly the EU has reverted to its national identities and how entente cordiale went out of the window. Germany declined to send ventilators to Italy and China stepped in. The New York Times says that Germany has ventilators to spare and urges they be shared, but no, just as in the Greek financial crisis, Teutonic charity stays at home. The German writer concludes: ‘But this solidarity seems to be bound by borders. As multiple European countries impose travel restrictions and close their gates, it becomes ever clearer where practical European neighborliness ends. The tough truth is that in this global emergency, while solidarity expands, the idea of “we” shrinks. My country, which takes some pride in being the European Union’s indispensable nation and economic powerhouse, is no exception – as Berlin’s approach to ventilators, Europe’s most wanted machines, shows. Now is not the time for closing in on ourselves. Europe must step up its efforts, and Germany should lead the way.’

Emmanuel Macron’s France impounded a lorryload of face masks headed for the UK in a similar fit of Euro-love. Later, says the Telegraph, he apparently blackmailed Boris Johnson into toughening up his self-isolation policy by threatening to ban travellers from the UK if he did not. That politico-economic threat would make a nice question for an exam in international law – was it legal?

It equates well with the essence of the EU approach to the Article 50 trade negotiations with the UK: unless you do this, we will not trade with you, notably accept our European Court of Justice ruling over your trading with us, accept the European Court of Human Rights and its interpretations of rights even when against democratic votes, and give us your fishing grounds as now. Yet still Barnier talks of ‘level playing fields’ and ‘cherries being picked’ – in fact he wants the cherry tree itself. He needs to note that French fishermen will be able to do some fishing if they apply for licences, as is the case in normal agreements over a nation’s internationally guaranteed rights of its 200-mile fishing grounds. But what the EU wants is not in fact permission to fish, but power to grant that permission to themselves. It’s a power issue over UK sovereignty.

The EU and UK have swapped their prospectuses over trade talks and future relations, and the EU programme for the first round of talks includes – weirdly to UK eyes – Northern Ireland. 

Those talks are postponed for virus reasons, despite the longstanding video-conferencing technology. But the EU is simply doubling down on its demands and what can only be seen as blackmail tactics, helped by the Remainer legions here as they try to undermine the leaving date and preparations for no deal – a favourite ploy of Sir Huawei (the iconic Sir Humphrey has been replaced by a more realistic talisman for Whitehall mandarin globalism).

The coronavirus crisis, say pundits such as Dominic Lawson in the Mail, is not like a war: German U-boats are not starving us into submission. True. But the EU strategy against the UK, with Macron’s border threats and requisitioning of medical supplies, with demands for UK territorial waters and economic control of Northern Ireland, is more like a war situation, without the bombs and bullets, on top of which the EU has picked at the healing scab on Irish sectarian strife to further its own ends.

There will be no fair deal on December 31 or in years to come. The EU will continue to make its demands, helped by the CBI, Sir Huawei, Labour and our post-democracy Remainer caste. It is not remotely interested in a fair deal. The UK knows now that this is not going to happen. That is why quiet and intelligent no-deal preparations should be humming away, rather than being stopped under the cloak of the Covid-19 crisis.

The good development has been the birth of a Centre for Brexit Policy, which should push for this, to be launched by Owen Paterson MP, the former environment secretary and John Longworth, former MEP and the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, along with Graham Stringer, the former Labour MP, and Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Treasury spokesman in Westminster. They’ve warned that the coronavirus pandemic would ’cause multiple pits of bad debt to deepen in southern Europe’. Mr Longworth added: ‘It is not in our interest to see a precipitous collapse.  We must however put as much distance between us and the eurozone as possible – it would not be wise to be in the same room with an explosion.’ Mr Paterson said: ‘The period of recovery could be long, but the countries which emerge the strongest will be those which can manage their own laws and affairs to suit their own circumstances.’ It begs the serious question of whether the FT remainer writers have engaged at all with the huge financial risks of not getting a clean Brexit?

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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