Bank of Fear
Last week the Bank of England produced its economic assessment of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and compared it with that of a no deal Brexit. The choice of comparison is an interesting one, since almost no one, including fervent Brexiteers, think that a no deal outcome would be best.
The report was damning in its worst-case scenario predictions; over five years GDP could fall as much as 10.5%, whilst house prices could fall by 30% – which would make the 17% house price drop after the financial crisis look like a blip.
Though we shouldn’t all panic, apparently following a stress test “the UK banking system is strong enough to continue to serve households and businesses even in the event of disorderly Brexit”. So even if what we have is worth nought, the banks will still be standing to help us flog it.
Theresa May is likely to use the fear factor in the bank’s assessment to try and push her current and incredibly unpopular deal through parliament with the threat that blocking it means increasing the risk of a no-deal Brexit or even no Brexit at all. However, Jacob Rees-Mogg Chair of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit parliamentarians said of the report and Governor Mark Carney’s statement “it is unusual for the Bank of England to talk down the pound and shows the Governor’s failure to understand the role… he is not there to create panic”.
Theresa May is often cited as one of the most adept media performers in politics. So it makes perfect sense that she would challenge Jeremy Corbyn MP to a televised debate on the Brexit deal she has brought back from Brussels.
I’m being sarcastic here, but I don’t say it to be rude about Theresa May, nicknamed the submarine for her style of politics, she has a lot of strengths but debating just isn’t one. Given this there are questions over the purpose of the debate and the strategy that both sides will look to take. Perhaps the Conservatives are hoping to expose Labour’s, or rather Jeremy Corbyn’s, conflictions in the Brexit debate? Historically Corbyn has been Eurosceptic and has had difficulty convincing those in his party who are staunchly pro-EU that he is fighting for them.
However, given Corbyn’s strong record on media performances, and May’s lack of experience – Amber Rudd stood in for her during the 2017 General Election televised debates – this could be the undoing of a Prime Minister who on an almost weekly basis at the moment seems like she might be toppled.
McDonnell’s new Brexit policy?
The Labour Party’s position on Brexit has not always been clear. Swathes of the vote to leave the European Union came from Labour working class strongholds in the North East, whilst some of the strongest remain votes came from metropolitan Labour voters in London. Coming up with a policy that doesn’t alienate either of these essential bases of grassroot support is essential.
Much of the strategy has been to be as illusive as possible and watch the Conservative Party implode in civil war. The mainstay of Labour’s Brexit policies are the six red lines they set out for a deal, but these are so broad it would have been almost impossible for any government to meet them. These red give Labour scope to criticise the deal whatever form it takes.
The new Brexit policy set out this week, however, was from John McDonnell saying that his party will inevitably back a second referendum if the party is unable to force a general election. Given that two thirds of parliament are required for a general election which seems highly unlikely to come about, does that now make this the Labour Party’s new Brexit policy?
It may be that the party sees the tide turning and support from those pro-Brexit Labour Party pockets waning, but it’s pretty high risk if not and could alienate huge numbers of Labour voters.
Labour has warned that if the government doesn’t publish the legal advice from the Attorney General’s office on Brexit it could lead to a “constitutional crisis”, one that I’m sure in their minds would justify a General Election.
This was compounded by an attack from the resigning Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gyimah MP, who said releasing the advice is “key to restoring trust in politics”. Currently the attorney general Geoffrey Cox, a new star in the Conservative Party, is expected to publish a redacted version of the advice, which MPs argue does not respect a vote in the Commons last month to lay before parliament “any legal advice in full”.
It was announced last week that the UK will be leaving the military aspects of the €10 billion European Galileo satellite project and, once the UK has left the EU, will cease to have any further influence over the project. The news is a blow for the UK’s thriving aerospace industry that has been working closely with the European Space Agency on the project since 2003.
There is a silver lining though, the government has announced that it will be commissioning a feasibility study to explore the development of a domestic satellite navigation system. Industry has welcomed the news and companies in both Australia and New Zealand have already expressed interest in partnering with the UK.