Archive for the ‘Welcome’ Category

Antisemitism of the Extreme-Left in the UK.

mardi, septembre 4th, 2018

Here’s the latest article from BCiP Chairman Jeremy Stubbs published in the Causeur magazine (www.causeur.fr) and addressing the antisemitism of the extreme-left in the UK.

JS Causeur antisémitisme RU

Russia and Salisbury – Why did Putin really do it?

mardi, avril 10th, 2018

Former BCiP member Robin Baker poses the question of the real motivation behind the attempted assassination in Salisbury: 

The attempted assassination in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, presumably on the orders of President Putin, is hardly surprising. Both Russian and Soviet autocrats have regarded the right to have their opponents killed off as one of the perquisites of their office since Tsarist times. Stalin had Trotsky, then living in Mexico, murdered in 1940. Few will have forgotten the assassination of Georgi Markov by a poison tipped umbrella in London in 1978 or the killing of Alexander Litvinenko by poisoning with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006. The number of deaths in the UK in recent years that can be attributed to Russian agents is thought to be as many as 14.

However the attempt on the lives of the Skrypals has a unique and disturbing feature: it was carried out in a way that posed grave risks to other members of the local community, in fact by smearing the deadly nerve agent over the front door handle of Sergei Skripal’s house. Theresa May had come under much criticism over her reaction as Home Secretary for having tried to block investigations into the facts of the Litvinenko case on the grounds that they could endanger Anglo-Russian relations. It would seem that the method used on this occasion could have been designed to provoke a harsh reaction from the May government.

If it were so designed it was brilliantly successful, as was the reaction itself. May’s achievement not only through the steps taken by the British Government’s but in generating similar actions from friendly states, has been outstanding. Even Boris Johnson has been widely praised for his success as Foreign Secretary, something unprecedented in the life of this government. So Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister has been significantly strengthened. How does that impact on Putin?

Putin does not like the European Union. Russia does not wish to join nor would it be permitted to do so, the Russians see the post Warsaw pact adhesion of former allies to both NATO and to the EU as surrounding them and that they regard as a threat. So Putin perceives it as in his interest for the EU to be damaged.

The United Kingdom leaving the EU will certainly damage both the UK and the EU itself. This is now generally expected to happen. However it remains dependent on Theresa May winning the necessary parliamentary votes. That the Government is not confident of winning votes on Brexit in the House of Commons is shown by the fact that they have been avoiding them after their defeat by Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the Brexit Bill. That amendment means that MP’s will now have the right to vote on approving or rejecting the final terms of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Should they vote to reject them the Government still cannot leave the EU without parliamentary approval, so MPs would vote to approve leaving without a deal. It is far from certain that the Commons would support such an outcome.

Theresa May’s weak position has previously encouraged Conservative MPs to vote against her. The strengthening of her position following the Salisbury attack may well make that less probable.

The question in my mind is whether that is what Putin wanted all along?

Robin Baker

Brexit and Transition – a view from France.

mercredi, avril 4th, 2018

BREXIT ET TRANSITION – a view from France by BCiP member Evelyne Joslain, le 31 mars 2018:

Le 29 mars, le Ministre du Brexit, David Davis, a publié un article dans Brexit Central pour rappeler à ses compatriotes les progrès accomplis dans les négociations et pour faire le point: « Dans un an d’aujourd’hui, après des décennies d’adhésion, des années de
consternation et des mois d’âpres négociations, nous quitterons enfin l’EU et ce jour-là restera dans l’histoire ».

S’il est indéniable que les négociations ont pris beaucoup de retard du fait des blocages multiples dus à l’esprit de revanche mesquin des Eurocrates, les Brexiteurs ont tout de même bien avancé depuis le déclenchement de l’Article 50 et Theresa May, malgré ses
faiblesses et ses contradictions, a fait preuve d’un certain courage dans la tempête et d’une ténacité surprenante, comme si elle était dopée par les attaques de tous bords.

Le Projet de Retrait de l’UE est passé au Parlement malgré les Euro-nostalgiques fielleux et frileux. Début 2018, la « note de départ » à payer a en fin été fixée: 37.1 milliards de Livres Sterling payables sur…45 ans. Car si cette union douanière (aux droits de douanes très élevés du reste !) affiche entrée libre, la sortie, elle, ne l’est pas.

La priorité était de régler le coté humain afin de rassurer les citoyens directement concernés dans leur vie personnelle et pour désamorcer les tensions : le sort des expatriés anglais dans l’EU est désormais résolu tout comme celui des membres de l’Union vivant au Royaume Uni, dont 3 millions de Français exiles fiscalement à Londres et qui ne reviendront jamais. Les statuts de résidence sont inchangés et c’est une immense victoire d’avoir obtenu cela.

Enfin, le fameux accord marchand entre l’Angleterre libérée et l’UE, si épineux en raison des services financiers à inclure, est en bonne voie. Rappelons que le slogan des Brexiteurs ces derniers mois était: « pas d’accord, pas d’argent ». Au cas où l’impasse n’aurait pu être brisée, les Britanniques étaient déterminés à claquer la porte et à rejoindre l’OMC. Ce qu’ils pourraient encore faire en cas de coup bas imprévu car « rien n’est acquis tant que rien n’est définitivement établi ».

Reste en souffrance la question de la frontière irlandaise: les prétentions de l’UE à vouloir garder l’Irlande du Nord dans le Marché Unique et dans l’Union Douanière ne prévaudront jamais car c’est là une chose qui ferait éclater le royaume jusque-là uni, ce  « qu’aucun  Premier Ministre britannique ne pourrait accepter », a sèchement rétorqué May. Aussi l’obstacle est-il reculé à la toute fin du processus de sortie, ce qui est plus logique puisque l’on ne connaitra les détails de l’accord marchand UK_UE qu’en fin de parcours.

Enfin, a été conclu un accord pour une période de transition (Transition Deal) et là aussi les Brexiteurs marquent des points même si les plus pressés y voient un retard inutile vers le but ultime qui est de retrouver leur souveraineté pleine et entière à se gouverner
soi-même, leur système juridique ancestral, la liberté d’avoir sa propre politique étrangère et de commercer avec qui l’on veut. Ce qui n’empêche nullement le royaume d’être toujours une nation de la vieille Europe et de continuer une collaboration consentie dans certains domaines.

Pendant la transition, point capital car il répond aux revendications libertariennes du mouvement, les Brexiteurs ont obtenu le droit de pouvoir négocier les futurs traités marchands avec le reste du monde. En revanche, ils ont échoué à supprimer la Politique Pêchière Commune, l’équivalent sur mer de la PAC honnie, et l’industrie de la pêche, qui a beaucoup contribué à la victoire du 23 juin 2016, se sent à juste titre trahie. Toutefois, la transition est strictement limitée à 21 mois après le 29 mars 2019, ce qui place le jour de la libération totale des Anglais, et de leurs pêcheurs, au 29 décembre 2020.

De plus, l’attaque de Salisbury a ranimé un sentiment de sympathie appréciable envers nos amis anglais. De savoir qu’ils sont à mi-parcours et qu’ils tiennent le bon bout devrait faire passer la pilule de la transition. Qu’est-ce que 21 mois de plus dans le temps long d’une nation?

De plus, pour les aider à ronger leur frein, ils peuvent comparer leur sort au nôtre. Eux descendent de la galère tandis que nous, nous ramons enchainés, à cadence infernale, vers des écueils évidents mais que les élites aux commandes ne voient pas, ivres de leur vanité et aveuglées par une utopie qui est à contre-courant de l’histoire.

Or, l’Histoire n’est jamais charitable envers ceux qui cherchent à lui barrer la route…

The Conservative Party and Young People in 2018

vendredi, mars 23rd, 2018

The Problem of Commitment to the Conservative Party

A personal view by BCiP Member Peter Huggins:

The CPF paper and covering note* set out the scale of the problem and the background to it in a clear and coherent manner. However, the nature of the problem needs further clarification.

The CPF paper speaks of two thirds of young people ‘supporting Labour’ at the last general election. This reflects the proportion of young people voting Labour. To speak of ‘support’ in this context is misleading. Authoritative and broadly based  survey results demonstrate unequivocally that young people voted Labour for two main reasons unrelated to left-wing ideology:

  1. They found the degree of Europhobia of the Labour party less alien than the more radical Tory version, or at least that of vocal groups in the party;
  2. The Labour party promised them relief from the financial burdens of higher education, especially university education

On point 1), survey results have showed that young people were particularly influenced by the expected worsening of job and career prospects through Brexit. They were also influenced by wider social and cultural considerations. To a young Londoner, Vilnius or Budapest or Coimbra are less remote than Dundee or Scunthorpe were to an older generation. Young Britons do not have a strong feeling of identity distinct from that of the Rest of Europe. To them, most of the rhetoric of the Brexiteers is simply anachronistic. When I was young and my parents spoke of the Boar War, it sounded almost like something from the Old Testament. Many young people appear to locate Brexit arguments similarly far away from their own interests and concerns.

*Reference is to the documentation for the Conservative Policy Forum of 22nd February 2018 and the BCiP response to which is the subject of the previous article on this blog.

Young people in a slightly older age group had other reasons not to vote Conservative. For example, they linked Conservative policies to the lack of affordable housing and to commuting costs which many were aware to be by far the highest in Europe.

Point 2) is very straightforward. If promised free university tuition by one party and tuition financed by massive personal debt by the other, rational self-interest implies choice of the former.

To those  in yet older groups and with wider political and economic interests, the choice was something like that suggested by Heseltine: – five years in the salt mines with Jeremy Corbyn or a life sentence with Boris Johnson in cloud cuckoo land.

There follows an obvious  answer to the central CPF question: ‘What should the Conservatives be doing in policy terms to help restore the confidence of young voters?’ The answer is obvious but its proposal at a Conservative conference would be distasteful heresy. The overwhelming majority of young people are staunch remainers who are not optimistic about the party changing its Brexit course.. Some might be won over by concessions on university fees but the majority will vote for other parties unless the Conservative party changes heart on Europe. For the moment, it seems more attracted to the Brideshead Revisited world of Jacob Rees-Mogg. The party can take consolation from the fact that 95% of the  95+ age group of Conservative voters doubtless share the views of Rees-Mogg. (Jacob, of course, not his very sensible father who ran The Times so successfully.) In doing so, it risks ignoring the fact that only one in five or so young people voted Conservative at the last general election. If the party really wants to win back the young, it must honestly and competently produce arguments and policies to convince them that Conservatism corresponds better to their aspirations than the Labour and LibDem alternatives. The job will be particularly difficult in coming months because of the May local elections. These will be dominated by pro-remain London  with its enlightened, moderate and popular mayor. Skill will be needed to present a convincing Conservative message against the pragmatic and plausible Labour message for London already in place. This message is quite distinct from the ‘loony left’ message of the national Labour leadership.Extraordinarily, the sympathy of the CBI and the City may favour Labour rather than the Conservatives in the May elections

Education, Training and Employment

Finding an under 30 Conservative voter is rather like sighting a Dartford warbler, a rare event worthy of excited reports negating with relief the assumption of extinction. A major factor in the alarming decline of the young Tory  species is that of concern about education, training and employment. At this time of the year, the annual cycle of company recruitment to graduate traineeships starts to get under way. When times are good, this is a season for optimism and celebration as graduates begin to reap the benefits of their studies and move confidently into a new and exciting phase in their lives. First reports on 2018 suggest that UK companies will be recruiting 10/20% fewer graduate trainees this year because of Brexit uncertainties. This is a depressing situation for those in their last year at university but also an alarming indicator about the way UK-based companies see the future. Many have already announced plans to be less UK-based in the future or even to move their HQ from Britain. There is ample evidence for this in reports from the CBI and other employers’ organisations. The City is especially pessimistic. Somewhat more anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a similar trend in apprenticeships, an area anyway long-neglected in the UK compared to Germany, Austria the NL, Scandinavia, Switzerland and other top-end OECD countries.

The CPF note on training and education is thorough and comprehensive. In the main,  it provides a good starting point for government policies to help the economy and young people at the same time as restoring confidence in the Conservative party. If  British  industry, commerce and the financial system are to thrive or even survive in the post-Brexit environment, effective training and education are  essential. Furthermore, the UK government also needs  to think in terms of replacing in the British economy the Polish plumbers, Slovak nurses, Italian hotel staff and French IT start-up aces and all the other bright young people  who may be  repelled by Brexit.

While the CPF note is generally competently written, it does seem to deviate from the traditional Conservative free market doctrine in making the prediction of technological trends rather too much a government function and too little a function for the private sector. Perhaps this is related to a certain breakdown of confidence between the party and employers’ associations whose views on economic prospects do not concur with the Brave New World Brexit ideology of many party members.      There is also some influence from the hard Brexit invent your own facts school.

Too much weight in the note is given to trendy mantras about digitalisation and robotisation linked with neo-Luddite warnings about how these developments will destroy jobs without creating new ones.      Beware also techno-bandwagons.  For example, those now pontificating about the need to prepare for all electric car fleets can learn a lesson from the past. The majority of taxis in New York in 1900 were electric and the electric car, not petrol or Diesel, was then expected to dominate in future. In fact, within half a dozen years,  the market for electric cars collapsed for just the reasons that now, without generous government subsidies, it might not survive. Then as now batteries are too heavy, take valuable space, provide only a limited range and require expensive infrastructure with big questions about who pays.

This is not to say that governments should not be thinking about future techno-trends. They should but not without listening to the players in the market and their organisations. And government should let private investors punt their money on expected trends, not risk tax-payers’ cash.

Fortunately there are valuable mines of information on education and apprenticeships  to be exploited by the government and the Conservative party. Inter alia, I would recommend the regular reports that the OECD makes on education and apprenticeships and the very good Oct. 2017 report by the Dep. Of Ed on further education and skills in England.

Possible Conclusions

Rather than prejudging the results of reflections by the party at this stage, I would recommend scrupulous honesty  in approaching the young voter crisis. Boris Johnson campaign bus slogans  alienate rather than convince the young. The struggle to bring young voters back to the Tory fold requires intelligence and dedication. Bombastic and unfounded propaganda is counter-productive

Peter Huggins, BCiP Member

 

 

Overseas Elector Bill – Erika Angelidi, Athens

jeudi, mars 8th, 2018

From Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece:

Ιn view of the 23rd February 2018 when the Overseas Elector Bill successfully passed its second reading in the UK Parliament, I wish to express some personal thoughts regarding the issue of the right to vote for Expatriates.

I personally believe that each British citizen who resides outside of the UK, even for a longer period of time, does not cease to be interested in the present or future of the UK. He is of British citizenship and this is something that he carries throughout his life. To refuse the right to vote to a UK citizen based on the date where he left the country to live elsewhere is equal to being cast off. This argument does not reflect emotions alone, it goes deep into the connection of the mother country and its people, the very bond of citizenship.

Besides this, a question of properly exercising civil and political rights is raised. It must be noted that each Party that is voted to power decides on, promotes and applies different policies regarding its citizens who live abroad. In view of this fact, it is obvious that a citizen living abroad must be able to vote in favour of the party that best represents his interests as a British citizen and as an Expatriate.

Let us hope that this Bill will eventually be brought into Law and provide that all British citizens living abroad will have the right to vote regardless of the time they stopped having residence in the UK. British Expatriates are a part of British society and contribute to its dynamic and welfare. Expatriates deserve to vote for life!

Erika Angelidi,
Conservatives Abroad Representative,
Athens.

New Year Greetings for 2018 from Erika Angelidi.

vendredi, janvier 5th, 2018

From Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece:

« My warmest wishes for health and happiness in the New Year. The New Year will undoubtedly be critical for the [Brexit] negotiations between the U.K. and the E.U.; we all wish that they shall be fruitful. May the New Year come with success!?

Best wishes

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative,
Athens

Identity Politics & Brexit

vendredi, décembre 15th, 2017

Professor Matthew Goodwin, Visiting Senior Fellow, Europe Programme, at Chatham House writes « In 2018, Europe’s Populist Challenges Will Continue« , and that despite the ?Macron moment?, traditional politics remains under pressure across the continent:

A question of identity

« Central to each of these [elections across Europe], and to Europe?s agenda overall, is identity politics. As we showed in another 2017 Chatham House briefing on the ‘tribes’ of Europe, many voters remain instinctively sceptical about how the EU is managing not only immigration and the refugee crisis but also European integration more generally. Indeed, while there is cautious optimism about economic growth and the eurozone, in the latest Eurobarometer survey that tracks public opinion across the continent most voters say that immigration and terrorism are key priorities. »

« If the EU is to really erode the appeal of populist parties then it will need to resolve this underlying angst over refugees, borders and security. »

The Brexit dimension

« Such issues also run through the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Nearly 18 months after the referendum, there is little evidence that Brits are changing their minds. Though they have become more pessimistic about the economic effects of Brexit, and they are more dissatisfied with the Conservative government?s handling of the negotiations, they remain deeply polarized. »

« In the latest poll, 44 per cent of voters feel that the decision was right, 45 per cent feel it was wrong and 11 per cent are unsure. Despite minor fluctuations, few of which extend beyond the 3-point margin of error, these numbers have remained remarkably static since the vote (just 15 per cent want to overturn Brexit entirely). »

« While major shifts in public opinion are unlikely, the recent government defeat on an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill has given MPs a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with the EU. Though rebels are divided about what they want, this will inject even more volatility into an already unstable process, perhaps uniting the anti-Brexiteers and paving the way for a showdown of greater significance. »

Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) – Values (3/3)

mardi, octobre 17th, 2017

Our consolidated response to the Conservative Party Policy Forum questionnaire on « Values » can be found below:

Name of Constituency: Conservatives Abroad
Name of CPF Group: British Conservatives in Paris
Name of CPF Coordinator: Paul Thomson
Number of attendees: 8
Contact details for response:
Paul Thomson
BCiP Vice Chairman & CPF Secretary
Date of meeting: 29th September 2017

If you have a Conservative MP, please tick this box to confirm that you have sent a copy of this response to your MP: ?

Please indicate whether you used the accompanying powerpoint presentation and, if so, how useful you found it or in what ways you might suggest it could have been improved:
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Feedback:
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Data Sharing Information: We occasionally like to share CPF comments in a public domain. Please indicate whether you would like any such comments quoted from your Group?s responses to be attributed to your Group, to be anonymous or to remain private:
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Private ?

Question 1: Compile a list of up to a dozen values that your group considers to be Conservative values ? the distinctive and enduring core priorities that we should draw on in navigating the challenges of our age.
? Favouring reform over revolution ? For representative parliamentary democracy
? For the rule of law and for a law-abiding & orderly society ? For community
? For the notion of human stewardship (a responsibility which brings with it obligations & an ennobling endowment) ? For the dignity of the human person ? associated with a sense of tolerance for differences
? Patriotism ? love of ?nation? (though not in an ethnic sense) and country ? Acceptance of the fallibility of humans
? Appreciation for tradition(s) ? respect for the past at the same time as openness to the future ? For the ?conservatism of the working man?
? For pragmatism ? For ?aspiration?, freedom & a healthy individualism

Question 2: A short summary (up to 40 words) of what you understand by:
a. Modern Conservatism
We did not attempt to define these terms
b. Compassionate Conservatism
Idem
c. One Nation Conservatism
Idem
d. Blue Collar Conservatism
Idem
Having defined each of the phrases, on a scale of 0 to 10, to what extent do each of them resonate with your group?s ideas of Conservativism?
Comment: there was no unitary group view on any of the four items. Specific scores are instead indicated.
Modern Conservatism 0 1X1 2 3X1 4X2 5X2 6 7 8 9 10X2
Compassionate Conservatism 0 1X1 2X1 3X4 4 5 6 7 8 9 10X2
One Nation Conservatism 0 1X2 2 3 4X1 5X2 6 7 8 9 10X2
Blue Collar Conservatism 0 1X1 2 3X1 4X3 5 6 7 8X1 9 10X2

Question 3a: In what areas of life, our communities and the country would you say discrimination, division and the need for real equality [Comment: we agreed this was not the proper concept ? instead fairness should be considered] still persists? Rank the areas that you have identified according to how great a cause for concern you think they are.
? (In no particular ranking:)
– Education is too plutocratic (cf desirability of supporting grammar schools or finding some (better?) equivalent
– Foreign languages should be compulsory to a much greater degree ? to enable those from a less highly educated/cultivated background to be less disadvantaged compared to those exposed to foreign cultures/languages because of family influence
– Young people need to be given a better overall ?deal? going into adult life: the combination of high housing prices, high student debt and low wage growth is crippling ? consider (a) lower tuition fees (university), (b) material increase in housing supply, (c) otherwise employing tools to reduce the cost of housing for the younger generation
?
?
?

Question 3b: To what extent do you think it is the responsibility of the Government, of businesses, of charities, of families, of individuals and of other institutions in society to tackle entrenched disadvantage and to promote equality in these areas?
? Not covered due to shortage of time
? ? ?

Question 4: What Conservative principles do you think should guide the Government?s approach to reforms in each of the following areas? – Idem
? Brexit negotiations

? Social reform

? Political reform

Other Comments (if any)

Thank You. Please return to: CPF.Papers@conservatives.com

Keeping the Bridges Open (Conservative Group for Europe).

lundi, septembre 25th, 2017

The Conservative Group for Europe have published a policy options paper: ?Keeping the Bridges Open?, written by Joe Egerton, a specialist in regulation. He was a research assistant to The Rt Hon Maurice Macmillan MP, he has been a Conservative parliamentary and county council candidate and has his own consultancy business. Advising the Conservatives under a Labour government he became an expert on how determined back bench MPs can force governments to abandon legislation.

The paper is a detailed and indeed lengthy analysis of problems arising from Brexit and the extent to which the negotiation of a transitional period can help to resolve them. Within it there are some very important issues that I (Robin Baker) had certainly not appreciated before reading it. The purpose of this summary is therefore to bring them to the attention of a wider audience.

The paper?s argument is that there is no possibility of a smooth transition taking place in March 2019 to a world in which the UK is no longer part of the European Economic Area. (The EEA comprises the current 28 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein who are EFTA member states; they largely participate in the European single market.) Even moving from the EU to the EEA in so short a time is highly problematic ? over half the EU body of law, the acquis, would cease to apply overnight, including the EURATOM treaty and its associated international agreements.

The problems that arise from that are the following. The paper argues that a White Paper concerning their resolution is essential.

The Henry VIII clauses

These clauses in the Withdrawal Bill permit ministers to change the law of England without the assent of the House of Commons. They also allow the government to change the law of Scotland, but do not alter the Scottish Parliament?s power to enact primary legislation, that could lead to constitutional conflict. Dominic Grieve has described these proposals as making it ?an extraordinary monstrosity of a Bill.?

Ministers claim that they are necessary because the changes needed to incorporate European Law into British law are too complicated to be considered by parliament in the time available. This could be avoided by having a long transition period to give time for the changes to be considered fully by the British legislative bodies.

Northern Ireland
The problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit appear almost intractable. The Government has published ?a position paper? on Northern Ireland and Ireland that emphasises the importance of the ?interim period?

Legal Certainty
Many business and individual contracts will continue post Brexit. Continuing legal certainty on their operation and mechanisms for resolving disputes is essential so that judgments and decisions by arbitrators can be enforced. Clarity as to how decisions of the European Court of Justice are to be regarded by British judges after Brexit is essential and Parliament must legislate clearly and unambiguously.

Systems and Physical Infrastructure
Our current trade and border systems were designed for the EU systems. If these were to cease to apply in March 2019 many of them would be incapable of coping with WTO requirements. The problem is not simply one of updating IT systems (complex and costly though that is) but of adding infrastructure and physical resources. This may require complete new facilities ? for example, the cliffs behind the Port of Dover limit the space for lorries and indeed other vehicles. Creating new IT and physical systems would be neither easy nor quick even if we knew what was going to be required, but we do not and will not until agreement is reached with the EU on a number of areas. So, as yet, we cannot even state the system requirements. Big systems are notoriously costly and prone to failure; the Government?s record of managing the introduction of complex new IT systems in a hurry does not inspire confidence. The National Audit Office has doubts as to whether HMRC?s new customs system (designed only to meet the limited needs under EU membership) will be fully functional by 2019. We cannot risk an exit from the EU before we have put in place and tested systems to allow trade to continue to flow.

The Service Sector
Although a strong exporter, the UK service sector is frequently unable to export a service in the way in which a manufacturer exports products because the Single Market in services is not complete in the way it is for goods. A service company will often have either to invest in an establishment in each member state where it seeks to operate or enter into an arrangement with a company that is already established. This makes the service sector highly dependent on the ability of individuals to work in the different individual member states.

That means that any agreement that limits free movement of workers will not in practice permit free movement of services. The service sector generally is highly vulnerable to any restriction on free movement of people. This is especially true of the internet based sector.

As long as the UK remains in the EU or the relevant part of the EEA Agreement applies: the UK will continue to export these services without too much difficulty. Withdrawal from both would pose very serious problems. The service sector is very much at risk ? and the sector that is the most dynamic is most at risk ? unless there is a long Transition Agreement.

Impact on the City
There is worrying evidence that the Brexit vote has hit employment in the City. It is estimated that despite modest improvement after the election, the year to June 2017 saw a 23% year-on-year decrease in jobs available and a 49% year-on-year decrease in professionals seeking jobs. Unlike an assembly plant, human beings can decide to up sticks and move, in most cases having notice periods of one or three months.

An Open University survey of 400 British based firms has identified a loss of high earning (and high tax paying) EU professionals creating a skills gap costing British businesses £2bn a year. There is also wide disillusion among Millennials (those who reached young adulthood early in this century) who are now entering experienced or mid-level positions, making them a central focus of hiring across the financial services sector. They are integral to the future of the British workforce. We?ve already alienated countless EU nationals, we cannot afford to alienate a generation of creative and ambitious Britons too. Action must be taken to prevent a further brain drain of talent out of London. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is reported to have warned the Prime Minister that companies will start to implement contingency plans for a hard Brexit if they are not given reassurance in the next few months. He would be unfit for his great office were he not to have told the Prime Minister this uncomfortable fact.

Transitional arrangements giving individuals and companies confidence that nothing much will change as a result of the UK leaving the EU should do something to limit the decline in investment in both physical and human capital that is currently taking place, and reduce the outflow of skilled EU citizens.

EURATOM
International transfer of nuclear material, technology and know-how must be strictly controlled. This is achieved by the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (?NCA?) between states that have domestic legislation prohibiting nuclear trade with entities in other states with which there is no NCA. One of EURATOM?s functions is to act as an ?umbrella? organisation for its member states so the NCA between the USA and EURATOM allows nuclear trade between the USA and all EURATOM?s members.

The Government have given notice of its intention to leave both the EU and EURATOM. This will require the UK to negotiate a number of new NCAs, which is complex and time consuming. It will mean a new regulatory structure, approved, after inspection, by the International Atomic Energy Authority. Only after that can the UK negotiate an NCA with another state. Apart from the prodigious cost and diversion of resources that this will involve, there is a real timing problem.

Nuclear generation in the UK relies on the USA for imported fuel, nuclear technology and knowhow. If the UK leaves EURATOM an NCA with the USA will have to be put in place. A proper and transparent planning process for leaving EURATOM should have detailed the possible risks and in particular an assessment of the possibility of denial of fuel (fissile material) or components for the UK?s reactors, currently producing around one sixth of the UK?s electricity. Such an assessment should have included an analysis of potential loss of output and plans to deal with it. The Nuclear Paper seems to take for granted that the UK will obtain NCAs before the UK leaves EURATOM, presumably on the day it leaves the EU.

The worst case scenario of a loss of capacity causing a widespread failure of the grid may be highly improbable. But there is no detailed objective assessment of the risks. One needs to be made quickly and subjected to proper scrutiny because, if there are significant risks to generating capacity from leaving EURATOM, then these may be mitigated by transitional arrangements.

Nuclear Medicine
Imported radioisotopes, which have short half-lives and so cannot be stored, are used extensively for diagnostic scans and cancer treatment. Widespread concern has been expressed, e.g. by the Royal College of Radiologists, over continued access if the UK leaves EURATOM. The Government have stated that as these products are not fissile nuclear material they are not subject to international nuclear safeguards. However it is unclear what will happen if other EU member states interpret their obligations differently and decline to supply. If the UK rejects the ECJ for resolving such a dispute, what alternative is there? The risk is that people are going to die. The Commons? Health Committee should demand the evidence on which the Government?s statement was based and also ask the Royal College of Radiologists and the Euratom Supply Agency to give their evidence.

Nuclear Research and Development
Leaving EURATOM will terminate the UK?s participation in 3 international research projects involving many countries from outside Europe and including two important nuclear fusion projects. There is a clear risk of the UK, with a very substantial physics and engineering base, being excluded from what may prove exceptionally important research projects creating important opportunities for industry and employment.

EU Agreements with Third Parties (?ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS?)
There are more than 20 agreements between the EU (or EU and the member states) and third party states. Except in cases where the UK is a contracting party to the agreement in its own right, on leaving the EU the UK?s participation and the benefits from them will cease unless the UK has negotiated a new agreement to replicate the benefits.

The WTO
The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation both in its own right and as an EU member state but all WTO arrangements have been collectively negotiated by the EU. Thus the EU has single quotas (which permit it to export a defined quantity of the goods in question that incur lower tariffs than those that would otherwise apply); when the UK leaves the EU new quotas for the UK will have to established and that will raise the issue of a reduction in the EU quota ? a process referred to as ?carving out?. Because the WTO proceeds by consensus, this could cause problems. For example Poland would be able unilaterally to veto a UK agreement under WTO rules unless its demands for extra permits for Polish citizens were met. Sorting out WTO arrangements could be a protracted process. Transitional arrangements may well be essential while this is done.

Open Skies Agreement
Under the Open Skies Agreement any airline of an EU member state can fly between anywhere in the EU and anywhere in the USA. A new agreement involving the UK will have to be negotiated but this may well be less favourable. The Sun newspaper has leaked a report warning of a drop of 41% in passenger numbers between March 2018 and March 2019 if no agreement is put in place.

Banking
The Prudential Regulation Authority, part of the Bank of England, has warned that UK banks? ability to lend might be constricted since contractual arrangements underpinning long term financial arrangements will cease to be effective after Brexit. That will substantially weaken UK banks? balance sheets, giving the choice between reversing the progress on strengthening the banking system since 2007, creating major risks for the economy and taxpayers, re-capitalising the banks or banks reducing or even stopping lending.

Conclusion

At this moment there is an opportunity for the UK and EU27 to enter into a Transition Agreement. Whether that is based on the EEA Agreement or an extension of the two-year period under Article 50 is less important than both sides signing up to a binding Agreement that avoids dislocation in March 2019.

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The above only covers a minor portion of the subjects covered in the original paper (the whole paper can be downloaded from the publications section of the Conservative Group for Europe website). It was, of course, written before the Prime Minister?s speech in Florence in which she accepted the principle of a Transition Period. So at least some progress has been made, albeit without the detailed information that the subject deserves.

Robin Baker

Brexit and My « Pelican Boat » Woodcut Print – Raf. Pittman

mardi, avril 25th, 2017

As presented by BCiP member and artist Raf. Pittman at our AGM on the 19th April, here is the unabridged story of « Pelican Boat », his personal account of the creation of the original woodcut print from Lima via Havana to the press in Paddington:

This time last year (April 2016) was a very different political scenario when campaigning had not yet started and when Brexit was largely associated with UKIP, a political deviation in terms of party and following from the « Voters’ Parties and Leaders (1967 ) » by Jean Blondel , a text for politics students like myself.

By June 23rd and the referendum we were « out » – the cryptic text I received from a friend in London as I sat on a bench with my iPhone on La Rampa, the main highway in Havana where you can receive wifi with an official prepaid internet coupon.

Shock. My whole career since reading European Studies at Bristol University was about the new world order, a united Europe where I learned the skills of foreign trade, was trained in London, Hamburg and Paris for British multinationals , in a world of peace and harmony for which my father had served in the Armed Forces 1939 to 1945; an England that had welcomed my mother as a Basque teenage evacuee from Nazi Germany aggression.

I was truly saddened that those British voters who voted for the leave campaign had not sufficient understanding of the issues (there was no meaningful and coherent plan policy and analysis), that were to change the course of our history by taking us out of the European Union, and annoyed with David Cameron for wanting to consolidate his position (also maybe giving into the perceived UKIP threat) by offering the electorate a referendum. Worse was to follow with squabbling Tories vying for the leadership when the PM resigned, although sense appeared with the election of Theresa May to replace him, seen as a safe pair of hands at the helm.

This last week in June was my last week in Cuba where I had been working on a print that I had developed in January 2016 from my crayon drawing of pelicans on a boat anchored off the coast of Ica a desert region in south Peru. The flimsy piece of plywood I brought with me to Cuba (wood is in short supply) took shape from a monoprint I made earlier in Cienfuegos , central Cuba, at a society for artists. Then via bus train and ferry I reached the experimental artists workshop in Havana where I had booked myself in for a second fortnight the first being in 2014.

This was the first time I had seriously attempted a woodcut print and news of Brexit added to my ennui, with the project ending up in a mixed media print/ monoprint, the sort of art for which I am known at the Taller Grafica Experimental . The wood cut print per se was clearly still unfinished although we had taken some 20 prints from the ancient press to be used for future mixed media work. Within a few days I had packed half my plywood and donated the other half to my very able colleagues and was back at Heathrow but still with a wedge of dodgy prints.

Again within days I was at an art facility near Paddington and bingo!! Pelican Boat was born as a fully fledged woodcut print. It seemed both myself and Brexit had come out triumphant after a battering maritime journey full of metaphors: uncharted waters, ill-prepared , beleaguered. And yet like Sir Francis Drake’s original vanguard « The Pelican » , renamed « The Golden Hind », there was suddenly promise in this bold confident venture with global vision reminiscent of Drake’s voyage to the New World, and also in my print that had a purpose and meaning now in carrying the spirit of Britain and Brexit.

Raf. Pittman