Post referendum debrief August 8

Government gets stuck into Brexit plans

The Express reports that the government — or at least the “Brexit Department” under David Davies — is starting serious discussions with industry figures about the form that Brexit should take. So far, the assumption has been that we need to stay in the EU’s “Single Market”, (I have argued elsewhere that the Single Market is no more than an old-fashioned, protectionist Customs Union overlaid by a mountain of red tape) and one of the strongest arguments for doing so has been the question of “passporting” for the banking industry. Passporting enables a bank registered in one member state to operate in other member-states as of right.

The assumption has been that without the Single Market and passporting, a significant part of the City of London’s financial services industry could move to the continent. But the debate has moved on to more measured and balanced territory, with a recognition that an independent Britain could scarcely sustain a global financial services business if subject to foreign banking regulation.

The same article also reports a survey from ConHome, where 69% of (admittedly self-selecting) respondents reject a “Norway-lite” option, which would provide market access but leave us subject to free movement and Brussels regulation. A clear majority believes we need independent border controls, not some kind of fudged “emergency brake” within the EU’s free movement system.

The Telegraph reports that the Treasury is looking seriously at the implications of leaving the Single Market.

IDS says NO to Brussels Budget Contributions

Ian Duncan Smith has insisted (rightly, in my view) that Britain must not contemplate any settlement with Brussels that leaves us contributing to the EU budget (and see below on the issue of Eurocrat pensions).

Patrick Minford urges “Cut EU ties now”

Distinguished economist Professor Patrick Minford, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, has urged the UK to cut ties with the EU immediately, rather than becoming engaged in endless bickering over details. He insists that Britain would be better off with a global free trade model rather than seeking to pick up the pieces of a post-Brexit relationship with Brussels. He makes good sense — there is a risk that at this rate we shall still be engaged in pre-Article 50 discussions for months or years.

Jane Collins MEP: “No free movement”

UKIP MEP Jane Collins (Yorkshire) has slammed down a hint from Boris Johnson that some concessions of free movement might be a price worth paying for EU market access. She’s right — as all UKIP members and most Leave voters will agree. If we voted for anything, it was for an end to EU budget contributions, an end to EU laws — and an end to free movement. We cannot and must not compromise on any of those points. Theresa May says “Brexit means Brexit”. UKIP says “Independence means Independence”.

Opinion polls in major EU countries say “punish Britain”

A series of opinion polls in major EU countries show majorities of the public agreeing that Britain should be “punished” for leaving the EU, and offered “unfavourable terms”. I wonder if those respondents understand that Britain cannot be offered less than WTO terms — and that any attempts to restrict trade will cost jobs on the continent.

Juncker’s right-hand man leads anti-British campaign

In a related story, the Express reports that a close colleague of Juncker, German lawyer Martin Selmayr, is leading an anti-British campaign in Brussels. He believes that the UK has been an obstruction to further EU integration. In that, at least, he’s probably right.

“Regrexit”? It ain’t so

Disgruntled Remain campaigners are trying to build a narrative that says that many who voted Leave on June 23rd now look at the short-term effects and wish they’d voted Remain. Hence the inelegant term “Regrexit”. Sadly for them, however, opinion polls show the opposite.

As I have noted previously, most of the post-Brexit “bad news” tends to consist of gloomy forecasts — reflecting the legacy of Project Fear. Meantime the actual data remain positive. Now the Guardian reports that consumer spending held up well in July, despite the Brexit vote. On the downside, the Telegraph reports some negative impact in London and the South East.

Turkey to reinstate death penalty

Turkish President Erdogan has insisted that he will reintroduce the Death Penalty in Turkey following the recent coup . Brussels officials have repeatedly insisted that reintroduction of the death penalty would put an end to Turkey’s hopes of joining the EU. It also calls into question the EU’s immigration deal with Turkey. The EU will not be able to return asylum seekers to Turkey if they may face the death penalty (could this be a factor in Erdogan’s thinking, I wonder?).

Retrospective from August 3rd: Two stories I perhaps should have covered:

Who pays Eurocrat pensions after Brexit?

The Telegraph ran a story on August 3rd claiming that Brussels is demanding that the UK take over responsibility for UK Eurocrats after Brexit. This is a preposterous and wholly unacceptable demand. It’s as if someone retired from a company pension scheme, and the company said “Now you’ve left we’re no longer responsible for paying your pension”.

While Britain has been in the EU (or its predecessors) from 1973, the UK has paid handsomely into the budgets of the EU institutions, covering inter alia the accrual of pension rights for all EU employees. The EU was in fact the employer of these staffers, and has exactly the same responsibility to each and every one of them to make good the pension promises it made. Those pension commitments were made by the institutions to the individuals, and are completely independent of the subsequent relationship between the UK and the EU. The Brussels demand is as absurd as if the UK were now to demand a rebate equal to the share of its contributions to the pensions of all EU employees when we cease to be a member.

Brussels claims a precedent with regard to the League of Nations, which was dissolved in 1946. The member states of the League of Nations took over pension responsibilities for their own nationals. But that is appropriate for an international organisation which ceases to exist — not for an international organisation where one party leaves. Morally (and I suspect legally) the EU has exactly the same pension responsibilities and liabilities to former employees as any other employer would have.

Rural Grants on hold after the Brexit vote

The Telegraph reports that farmers, rural businesses and charities are “in limbo” as the Rural Payments Agency has frozen EU-funded projects in the wake of the Brexit vote. Just to clarify: as I understand it, this does not affect the primary CAP funding line for agriculture, but rather the “Leader” programme to support the rural economy.

We on the Leave side have always argued that since we put roughly £6 billion into the EU’s CAP pot, and get around £3 billion out, then after Brexit the government will be well placed to support farming at least as well as the CAP did, and maybe better. That remains the case. I suspect that the Rural Payments Agency is simply awaiting government decisions on future funding arrangements for any EU-funded programmes that might run on beyond the possible Brexit date. Clearly the uncertainty is bad for our farmers, and the government needs to give high priority to clarifying the position. Maybe that will come in the Autumn Statement.

Some will wonder whether this delay is a device by Whitehall to spread alarm and despondency amongst key groups of decision-makers in the aftermath of Brexit. Is it? Maybe. I couldn’t possibly comment.

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23 Responses to Post referendum debrief August 8

  1. Simon Blanchard says:

    So the Brexit team is talking to the very people in “big business” who want the UK to remain in the EU. It’s obvious from the get go that they want to remain in the “Single Market”, they want Brexit-lite. The Single Market is just a re-branding of the Common Market. Which involves 4 pillars which the EU will never concede on – Free movement of people, goods, capital and services. A market that is shrinking year on and year out. Why would we choose to have a millstone around our necks on the say so of fraudulent Big banks and big corporations, who don’t give a fig about sovereignty or independence?

    We voted to leave the EU and not be part of any EU immigration or EU border controls or EU anything. These talks are just that talks. When is the Brexit team going to start walking the walk?

    • How do you propose to make a settlement with the Eu when we leave?
      Is it not by appealing to some kind of law? Some kind of contract? In the article above, Roger Helmer appeals to the WTO and also to pensions law.
      We must stay in the EEA while we negotiate: a sudden break would be economically disastrous. Yes, EEA while we negotiate our way out.
      Brexit lite, as you call it, uses existing arrangements which everyone understands and helps to end some real anomalies too: everyone knows where we stand as we negotiate our way out. EFTA allows us to leave the CAP and CFP and it also allows us to negotiate equality with Liechtenstein (an EFTA member ) on controlling immigration.
      What is not to like?
      Without EFTA/EEA while we negotiate, we are doomed to decades of fruitless argument from outside the Single Market. The Project Fear threats will come true.

      • Roger Helmer MEP says:

        “Temporary” EEA membership sounds like a tempting option. But remember when they introduced income tax, it was supposed to be a temporary measure. No Mike. We want OUT. And we want a free trade deal — nothing more, nothing less.

  2. ian terry says:

    No quibble with that Simon. In the old days a lot of companies adopted the JFDI principles to get where they want to go. It worked for Tesco and Sainsbury’s so why not the UK government?

  3. June says:

    Brexit means Leave the EU NOW and take down the EU flag from our country. We, The People, are fed up with the delays and lame-brained excuses from our leaders. In 1972 deals and negotiations were made behind closed doors and in secret. We were duped and lied to. Never again. Now means Now, we want our freedom from the shackles of the unelected despots. We will make our own laws, keep control of our own borders, trade with the world and use our money for our needs. No more petty, spiteful and asinine laws from across the channel. We have not known democracy for 40 years. We are fed up with dictatorship. Leave EU now – negotiate later on our terms. 40 years of EU terms are more than enough. Resist-Revolt-Reform

  4. mike5262015 says:

    Could we please get on with it ? David Davies is doing the right thing, by asking Business what they think and hope for, but Government must hold the Nation’s requirements first.

    Our referendum question was straight-forward enough, as it was in or out of the E.U. There were no smudged options, of Oh ! we didn’t mean that to be voted on. The vote was held and Leaving the E.U. was the choice of the British Nation. So just do it.

    As for so many European Nations wanting to punish Britain for leaving. Just remember that what is dished out, so often flies back and has to be shared. The trade balance is something that they seem to have overlooked, but much more important is their attitude of ‘How dare they exercise their Democracy, right in front of us.’ ( The opportunity to cancel old Treaties should be looked at so that we don’t get involved in anything nasty when the E.U. crashes !).

    As for land borders. I am sure that MPs from Ireland and Britain can think up something quite meaningless in that matter. ( That’s what their good at ! ). As for Scotland, they should think long and hard about their future. – Independence is not really on the table. – Leaving Britain, but entering the E.U. is nothing to do with independence, and they should check their history with regard to the Darien Scheme, before they joined Great Britain, and reflect on the loss of money that came from that !

    • davidbuckingham says:

      Eire should be made an offer to leave the EU as it once voted to do – and enter into civilised cooperation with the UK, within EFTA, or even to re-join the UK – which seems the best most natural option to me. Especially when the EU and the Euro continues to go bankrupt and the UK becomes a new Hong Kong.

      • Simon Blanchard says:

        Maybe Ireland would go for it. Who knows. Economically it would make sense. It would solve the issue with the borders too. The vast bulk of Ireland’s trade is with the UK. Something to at least ask them to see if there is any interest or aversion to the idea.

      • mike5262015 says:

        I think there would be interest in Eire, but at the present time, not a majority. If the Euro continues as it is, and falls further, then that is a different matter ! – The Irish are not so different to us, in that they love their Nation, but EFTA would be their choice.

  5. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

    The Rural Grants issue is interesting. The last I heard, the guys responsible for paying Scottish farmers their rebates were at least a year behind and kept changing either the paperwork, ground rules or both. I have not idea if it is the same mob, but if it is, this is hardly a Brexit issue. They have been cross threading it for at least 12 months previously.

  6. davidbuckingham says:

    Apparently the New Zealand option of withdrawing all government support to its farmers has resulted in a huge increase in productivity and efficiency. If a nation so dominated by and reliant on farming can do it so can the UK. Government subsidy means taking / taxing money from wealth creators and giving it to those who ain’t. Good recipe for economic disaster. Free trade and free market is always going to be best – the last 100 years of theory and history could not demonstrate that truth more clearly.

  7. ian wragg says:

    Why is anyone advocating that we should pay a contribution or accept some form of free movement to “access” the single market.
    Around 160 countries not in the EU, EFTA or EEA have access to the single market without any contribution or free movement.
    Access and part of are two distinctly separate animals.

    • davidbuckingham says:

      The benefits of being outside the regulatory system of the badly named ” single market” are clear. Is the only virtue of being in the single market the lack of EU tariffs? As you say ACCESS isn’t an issue – never has been. The other 160-180 nations in the world choose simple ACCESS even with no tariff benefits. So how do Residual Remnants as well as Outers continue to portray it as a problem?

      As Nigel Farage, yourself and others have tirelessly pointed out, even in the unlikely event that the EU countries did impose them effectively at their own expense they would still be cheaper than existing UK contributions – so what’s not to like? What’s the excuse for not worrying about it?

      Also I think it’s Patrick Minford who is advocating unilateral abolition of UK tariffs anyway. Consumers of goods and services at home benefit from lower prices and it encourages reciprocity.

    • mike5262015 says:

      Total agreement Ian. Close co-operation and trade with those next door, but as much distance as possible with the E.U.

      • Not on offer, I am afraid.
        The EU is like a fortress: you are either in or out.
        The problem is not just tariffs. They are indeed part of it though.
        The real trouble is standardisation. If we produce stuff for export to Europe which doesn’t conform to EY standards, then all hell breaks loose. (NTBs)
        If you would like some more info, do e mail me and I will send you a couple of pages on the subject which explain it in detail with all the acronyms.

  8. Frances Fox says:

    For heaven sake Brexit must come out NOW not next year or the year after but NOW and as for the EU they only want Britain for our Money which they have at times demanded more even in the past fined Britain to get moremoney.
    . It really is getting on my nerves that Brexit is hanging about. LEAVE NOW PLEASE.

  9. Anyoldiron says:

    Take down the EU flag and in its place hoist our Union Jack and the St George Flag in England, our Union Jack in Wales along with the Welsh Flag etc.

  10. alexr64 says:

    Good post Roger, this should be going further but I met two more UKIP stalwarts today, members for many years, active online BUT they are not on this mailing list. What on earth is going on? Clearly IT IS TRUE that UKIP has wreckers on the inside who have ‘lost’ thousands upon thousands of email addresses ‘accidentally’.

  11. With a legal divorce, there is the legal mess to deal with. You cannot just walk out. there is the cat, the dog, the children, the new TV and the mortgage to consider too.
    Sorry, but there it is.

  12. Anyoldiron says:


    When I came across an, “EU Restricted Paper”,
    Slashed across the page with black standard ink,
    With “TRADE SENSITVE” writ large in Capital letters,
    Now what about that, do YOU think?
    So many EU papers are “EU RESTRICTED”
    For the EU wants to “speak for ALL”
    It’s the “Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership”
    Commonly known as the “TTIP” that is now the call.

    Yet the EU would speak of so many things,
    Not to ‘us’, but to the US of A no less,
    On industrial and agricultural products,
    Far too many for ME to relate here I confess.
    Far too many papers are now “restricted”,
    Not available for OUR eyes on these, dare they fall.
    Only those that work in those great tall towers
    In Brussels, are allowed to answer to that call.

    Also discussed was investment papers,
    Telecommunications and ‘financial services’ of course,
    Even a touch of Government Procurements,
    Labour, and state-owned enterprises that use to be yours,
    So many matters, some issues of global concern
    Yet neither you nor me will have a ‘SAY’,
    Nor those we elected to speak for us,
    They have given THEIR RIGHT TO SPEAK, AWAY.

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