Brexit should ring in real change in Whitehall

The battle to get Big Ben to bong on Brexit day goes to the heart of what Brexit was all about. People voted to restore sovereignty, to “take back control” – so what does it say about the country if we can’t even ring a bell to celebrate our independence? The stumbling block is the wall-to-wall bureaucracy that says “you can’t do this.” What it usually means is: “We don’t want you to do this.”

Of course Brexit is controversial and, yes, a lot of people were against it. But the mood has changed dramatically since the general election. Even many Remain voters now want to get it over with and most of the prophets of doom have gone strangely silent. A few ring on: the economist Will Hutton intends…

Crushed by Boris Johnson, the Brexit gloomsters have no choice now but to cheer up 

When Boris Johnson warned outside the doors of Downing Street that the "critics… the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters" were "going to get it wrong", he had picked a vast number of enemies to fight. But within a year, he has come out on top against such seemingly insuperable odds.

George Osborne, who last March was acidly suggesting in the pages of his Evening Standard that the Tories "had better get ready for many years in the wilderness" under Boris Johnson "as he seeks to lead us to the promised land of Brexit", this morning said something constructive about life outside of the European Union.

The former Chancellor, who was at the forefront of the campaign to stop Brexit, admitted…

Jeremy Corbyn’s flip-flopping Brexit fudge lives on in Labour’s leadership hopefuls

After Jeremy Corbyn led Labour into the electoral equivalent of the Charge of the Light Brigade last month, those vying to succeed him are in no doubt as to why that happened — even if they did little to stop it at the time.

“We weren’t trusted on Brexit," Rebecca Long Bailey declared on the Today programme this morning, insisting that she "certainly" argued privately against the fudge Mr Corbyn settled on. Her fellow leadership contenders are similarly unanimous in blaming Labour’s Brexit policy (which is just the tip of the iceberg), as they pitch themselves as candidates who would make put and end to the constant prevarication, triangulation and flip-flopping.

But judging by how Mr Corbyn’s…

It sounds ambitious, but a friendly Brexit divorce is now on the cards

The Swedes have a rather beautiful New Year’s Eve tradition where Tennyson’s Ring Out, Wild Bells is recited in front of a crowd in Stockholm just before midnight. The words, this year, seemed especially poignant: “Ring out a slowly dying cause/ and ancient forms of party strife. Ring in the nobler modes of life/ with sweeter manners, purer laws.” 

For those of us who backed Brexit, a similar celebration will take place on the last day of this month when a specially revived Big Ben will strike 11pm – midnight in Brussels. It will mark Britain’s departure from the European Union – and the chance for something new to begin, in place of strife.

  • Read Fraser Nelson’s latest column on…

Brexit will give the British economy a chance to thrive

Of all the slogans that sum up the past decade – Make America Great Again, For the Many Not the Few – one of the most satisfying is Despite Brexit. Despite Brexit, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), Britain’s economy has not only defied forecasts that it will be surpassed by France but is now expected to be a quarter larger than the French economy by 2034. Meanwhile, says the Resolution Foundation, 2019 saw record employment and the strongest nominal pay growth in over a decade. Public commitment to Brexit has remained high precisely because the so-called experts have been proven so wrong about it. If we had been able to leave the EU sooner, the situation might…

If Boris Johnson can win, then so can Donald Trump

The forces at play in last week’s resounding victory for the Tories are similar to those facing the president

After the astonishing Tory win, I’m upgrading Donald Trump’s chances of re-election from “weak” to “strong”. Brexit and Trump dance a minuet. The surprise Brexit victory in 2016 made Trump’s election seem possible; Boris Johnson’s new majority, built on the slogan “Get Brexit Done”, suggests Trump will beat the Democrats next year. Why? Because the forces at play are so alike.

There are big differences. Brexit is far more popular than Trump for a start, partly because Trump is more controversial on multiple levels. Brexit will change some very important things in Britain but it has…

To secure their majority, the Tories must unleash the free market

It is astonishing what a visionary prime minister with a proper majority can do. For three long years we were told that Brexit was undesirable and impossible; the only way to do it, said the establishment, was to water it down. And yet last week, a pro-Brexit PM at the head of a pro-Brexit Tory Party not only passed the withdrawal agreement with a whopping majority but vastly improved it in the process.

Extending the transition after 2020 is banned, and Boris Johnson promised a future relationship with Europe based upon “an ambitious free-trade agreement, with no alignment … on EU rules”. With a new immigration system to boot, Britain could truly take back control.

Remain won’t give up that easily:…

Of course Boris Johnson can get a good post-Brexit trade deal done in a year. Here’s why 

Not one day on from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stunning and decisive electoral victory, and the sneering negative forces of the Remain Alliance were already back in business. 

Slapped down with the scale of electoral defeat and vote to ‘Get Brexit Done’, they have now switched to campaigning on a supposed need for a ‘softer Brexit’, citing the claimed lack of ERG influence now, assert that the deal would have to be a bad one in such a short timeframe, and be only being deliverable if the UK surrenders to remaining in lockstep with the EU on its regulations – such as ‘dynamic alignment’ with its Single Market laws, including new laws not just existing ones. Basically, they claim we must dance…

Ending the year with hope – and Brexit

This is what a truly representative Parliament looks like. Yesterday, the Commons voted 358 to 234 on the Second Reading of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, edited to prevent endless delay: the transition period cannot be extended post-2020. The Government won and the Opposition collapsed. Six Labour MPs voted for the Bill and 32 chose not to vote at all, including MPs who have previously opposed Brexit in the strongest terms.

Objections that Boris Johnson is rushing this legislation through are ridiculous. Parliament has debated nothing but Brexit for three years, and if Labour MPs say they prefer earlier versions of the Withdrawal Agreement, they should’ve voted for them when they had the…

This Brexit debate turned into a festival of Tory gloating… while Labour looked feebly on

It was, in a way, completely pointless. Five whole hours had been set aside to debate the new version of the Brexit bill, but five minutes would have been more than enough. Boris Johnson’s election landslide had rendered today’s debate a formality, a walkover, a stroll in the park. 

So, instead of argument, dialogue and scrutiny, what we mostly got was Opposition moping – and Tory gloating. 

Throughout, Labour were miserable. They looked cold, grey and lumpen, like forgotten porridge. When Jeremy Corbyn, still nominally their leader, rose to speak, not one of his colleagues cheered; some of them actually groaned. Mr Corbyn muttered at length about the possible horrors of an American trade deal…