BFP10: 21.11-28.11 Talking to EU
This week some of the narratives that have defined Britain’s post-Brexit international relations came briefly into touch with painful realities. The reality of a growing need for closer relations with the EU infuriated extreme Brexiteers. Record immigration levels highlighted (again) the shallowness in the ‘take back control’ debates. A trade deal with one of the world’s largest economies hasn’t delivered because the reality is the UK no longer delivers access to a bigger European market. And as British businesses keep pointing out, the government's obsession with divergence from EU regulations isn’t going to cut it as a way to get Britain out of its current economic mess.
Here then are my British Foreign Policy 10 from the week when some Brexiteers realised that Brexit has put Britain on a course that won't end with ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ but with a ‘Britain-on-the-Rhine’: 10 of the best reports, podcasts, twitter threads speeches etc. that I’ve added to my Zotero database this past week.
Following reports about the UK wanting a Swiss-style deal, Peter Foster asks Can the UK improve its Brexit deal? As he points out, ‘If the UK government sticks to its red lines on EU law, budget contributions and regulatory alignment, it cannot be improved that much according to trade and economic experts.’
The furious reaction to the idea of closer relations with the EU showed just how painful Brexit remains. Over at the FT, Robert Shirmsley points out that ‘The true Brexit divide is now between pragmatists and zealots’ For Sunak it’s the extreme Brexiteers, while for Starmer it’s the extreme rejoiners
Peter Kellner asks What should Labour’s Brexit policy be? What if Starmer and his advisers set themselves, ‘the following exam question: leaving aside the words to be written in the next manifesto, and the slogans to be used in the election campaign, what policy on Brexit would be best for Britain?'
But how strong is ‘Bregret’? Rejoin vs stay out: who has changed their mind about Brexit? For the UK in a Changing Europe, Paula Surridge and Alan Wager look at public attitudes by age, education and changing geographic patterns. ‘However, politically it matters not just how many people have changed their mind. It also makes a difference who those people are, and where they live. Furthermore, it is also important to understand not just what people think about the past, but how this translates into attitudes about the UK’s future outside the EU.’
The UK-Japan trade deal has delivered the opposite to the boost expected to UK-Japan trade. It appears that losing access to the bigger EU single market has made the UK itself a less attractive market. Brexit blow: exports to Japan slump after ‘landmark’ free trade deal
Over at UK in a Changing Europe, Mark Blyth, Lucio Baccaro and Jonas Pontusson explain the concept of national ‘growth models’, drawing on their recent book Diminishing Returns: The New Politics of Growth and Stagnation. Beyond varieties of capitalism: a growth model approach
Rachel Wearmouth reports on a speech by David Lamy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, that Labour plans to move from 'patronising and paternalistic' foreign aid to helping with climate change and employment projects. Meanwhile Andrew Mitchell, former Secretary of State for International Development, tells The Times that Britain is no longer the development superpower it once was.
The latest ‘that’s not my Brexit’ is the news that ‘Net migration to UK hits record high of 504,000’. Rob Ford and Marley Morris published a perfectly timed report for the IPPR on ‘A new consensus? How public opinion has warmed to immigration’. The government's reported response includes a clampdown on foreign students, an idea that provoked yet another backlash.
Chatham House hosted an event on the BBC at 100, with a special focus on how Auntie copes in an age of disinformation. The battle for truth: The BBC's role at 100.
And finally… London’s stock market is back on top. Thanks to the rise in the value of the GBP the London stock market has overtaken Paris only 10 days after the French capital claimed the top spot.