BFP Must-Reads 22.V-27.V: Record levels of immigration & Bregret, Latin America and Johnson in Texas
As expected, this week's immigration figures dominated discussion about the UK's international relations. There was the inevitable discussions about costs, the benefits, whether public opinion is moved by it, and what it means for Global Britain. Brexit was not far behind in the headlines, with polling also showing new record levels of Bregret. Brexit's effects on the city, gardening, fishing, chemicals, investment and competition have all been under scrutiny. Meanwhile James Cleverly paid a visit to a part of the world that almost always (with one obvious exception) falls off the UK's foreign policy mental map: Latin America. Further North in the same hemisphere, Boris Johnson has been busy lobbying Texas Republicans to shore up support in the GOP for US support for Ukraine.
Immigration ~ UKICE: Immigration and public opinion – more than a numbers game? Anand Menon and Sophie Stowers highlight the increasing complexity of public opinion on immigration, suggesting that the relationship between high numbers and public concern should not be taken for granted.
Immigration ~ UKICE: Public opinion and the government’s options on migration. New migration figures out today show net migration at record numbers in the 12 months since May 2022, with the net migration figure at 606,000. Heather Rolfe looks at how news of this increase is likely to be received by the British public, and at the government’s options to bring numbers down.
Immigration ~ Bloomberg: Tom Rees — Britain Loses Its Luster for Job Seekers From Poland to Portugal. Lower unemployment in Europe reduces the UK’s drawing power. Polish community in Britain shrank since the 2016 Brexit vote.
Immigration ~ Bloomberg: Therese Raphael — The UK Can’t Cut Immigration Without Suffering the Consequences. Global Britain has arrived, though it’s not what Brexiteers imagined.
Immigration ~ London Economics: The benefits and costs of international higher education students to the UK economy. The estimated total benefit to the UK economy from 2021/22 first-year international students over the duration of their studies was approximately £41.9bn, while the estimated total costs were £4.4bn. This implies a benefitto-cost ratio of 9.4.
Brexit ~ YouGov:Matthew Smith — Most Britons say Brexit has been ‘more of a failure’. YouGov tracker data records the highest levels of Bregret among Leave voters to date.
Brexit ~ FT: Janan Ganesh — Starmer must wait before breaking the Brexit omertà. Voters know they made a mistake. That doesn’t mean they are ready to be told so.
Brexit and flowers ~ FT: Peter Foster — British gardeners warned new border checks will cut choice and raise costs. Plant growers say long-delayed controls will add £42mn a year in red tape and business expenses, for little gain.
The City moves to NYC ~ FT: Patrick Mathurin and Anne-Sylvaine Chassany — Flight risk? London listings are the most vulnerable to New York’s allure. An FT ranking of 50 companies listed in Europe with the strongest rationale to move their primary listing to Wall Street.
The City and Climate Change ~ Bloomberg: Tom Rees — Bailey Says BOE Will Stick With Climate Plan Despite Critics. Former officials say central bank has too many goals. Governor says financial system can’t ignore climate risks.
Competition policy ~ Bloomberg: Samuel Stolton — Microsoft UK Veto Versus EU Nod Poses Questions, Vestager Says. Vestager says EU decided remedies were ‘pro-competitive’. Microsoft has appealed UK veto at Competition Appeal Tribunal.
Competition Policy ~ CER: Zach Meyers — The UK’s Competition Authority is Ready to Regulate Big Tech. The UK competition authority has decided Microsoft cannot acquire games company Activision. This should reassure politicians that the authority wants dynamic and competitive markets – and it is less willing than the EU to rely on intrusive rules which could stifle innovation.
Investment and Brexit ~ FT: Guy Chazan and Chris Giles — Post-Brexit UK investments drive FDI in Germany to record level. Berlin warns total volume set to fall in 2023 as companies turn to US on back of Inflation Reduction Act.
Chemicals and Brexit ~ FT: Peter Foster — UK failure to create post-Brexit chemical regulations risks ‘irreparable damage’. Government attempts to replicate EU system threatens innovation, warns industry.
Fishing and Brexit ~ FT: Madeleine Speed — UK fishing industry gets green light to hire more overseas workers. The sector is struggling with labour shortages and post-Brexit export regulations.
UK-Latin American relations ~ FT: Michael Stott — UK seeks to revive post-Brexit trade links with Latin America. Foreign secretary says there is ‘much more to do’ but Britain faces tough struggle with China in the region.
UK-China ~ Bloomberg: Ellen Milligan — Sunak Warns Against ‘Blanket’ Protectionism to Counter China. UK prime minister speaks at defense conference in London. Comes after Group of Seven leaders discussed efforts last week.
Johnson in USA ~ Politico: Annabelle Dickson — Send for Agent BoJo! Boris Johnson dispatched to Texas to shore up Republican support for Ukraine. Former UK prime minister takes his message to US heartlands, as skepticism simmers in run-up to 2024 election.
Defence ~ Bloomberg: Ellen Milligan — Sunak Told to Apologize for UK Treatment of Gay Veterans. Report into historic homophobia details electro-shock therapy. Bullying, intrusive medical examinations also reported.
Nuclear weapons ~ ICDS: Peter Watkins — British Nuclear Policy. Nuclear deterrence has been a major pillar of British defence policy since the mid-1950s. The United Kingdom maintains a minimum, credible, independent strategic nuclear deterrent force, assigned to the defence of NATO. Its purpose is purely defensive: to deter the most extreme threats to the security of the UK and to that of her NATO allies. Potential adversaries must thus take into account the UK’s nuclear capabilities when facing UK conventional forces deployed as part of NATO’s forward deterrence and defence posture, not least the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia. The UK does not see a contradiction between cooperation with allies and having an “independent” deterrent – its nuclear force is operationally independent and only the UK Prime Minister can authorise the use of the UK’s nuclear weapons, even as part of a wider NATO response. Today, the Soviet Union is gone – yet a weaker but more dangerous Russia as well as an increasingly powerful China create a potential “two peer” nuclear challenge. The UK is currently renewing its nuclear deterrent as the existing capability is aging – but continues to seek opportunities for multilateral nuclear disarmament as the strategic circumstances allow. In light of the international security environment, the 2021 change to the warhead ceiling reflected that. But the UK needs to ask itself whether bigger changes will be needed for the future.