Brexit – a virus which attacks the ecomomy

Virulent Brexiteers

The Secretary of State for International Trade (aka  Liam Fox MP), recently called for the UK to leave the EU Customs Union for the obvious reason that the Customs Union impedes the ability of the UK to make separate trade deals with  non EU member states.

Now the very widely respected Chairman of the  Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, Bernard Jenkin MP, has written this for the Financial Times:

There is no such thing as hard or soft Brexit – Britain should look to leave the EU as swiftly and simply as possible”.

That is in sharp contrast to the position of the Chancellor which is:  “to ensure access to the single market for our financial services industry”.   But the, the Chancellor is doubtless aware of the contribution the City of London makes to UK tax revenue – see this  from the Guardian: “London pays almost a third of UK tax, report finds“.

It would be interesting to hear from Mr Jenkin how he proposes that the tax revenue from the City would be replaced and what changes to the budget he would recommend were the revenue to be lost.

The Teresa May government has, of course,  a fair number of pro-Brexit ministers, and she herself has stated that  “Brexit Means Brexit”.  There is this report in the Independent: “Theresa May has said she has an “open mind” about the impending Brexit negotiations and that Britain should not necessarily adopt a model “that is on the shelf already”.   That is a sensible approach.

But it may be a very hard goal.  See this in the Independent:  “Theresa May’s pledge to deliver Brexit is about to encounter a big hurdle – Britain had a tough time finding common ground when it intended to remain in the EU – it’s going to have an even tougher time now.

There is good reason to believe that public opinion is very divided – and moving.   This report in the Independent is about farmers having second thoughts: “Farmers who backed Brexit now regretting vote over subsidy fears  – Parliament warned dropping funding for farming will collapse the fabric of rural society”.

Likewise this Independent report might give concerns to workers in the automotive industry: “Ford to consider closing UK factories in Leave towns after Brexit – Ford makes engines at plants in Dagenham and Bridgend that are exported to the EU where the cars are assembled”.  It is not just Ford which considers Europe as a single market – so do the other participants in this sector.


Soft Brexit or Hard Brexit?


It is yet to be ascertained whether the Teresa May government will opt for a “Soft Brexit” or a “Hard Brexit” solution.

Boris3On Sunday, the Observer had this:  “EU considers migration ‘emergency brake’ for UK for up to seven years”.

This development in the EU position was not unexpected (indeed it was the view of Clown Boris (now HM Foreign Secretary)  that such an offer would be forthcoming .Such an offer permits a good case to be made either (i) for remaining in the EU, or (ii)  for opting for a solution akin to the Norwegian model of single market access.

Ideally, it would be preferable for the UK  to opt for a “Remain” solution along these lines because that would permit continued UK involvement in the formulation of single market policy while the Norwegian model involves acceptance of  EU legislation without participating  in the making of it.

Sebastian Payne writing today in the Financial Times has this: “Theresa May positions herself against ‘hard Brexit’“.   The article concludes that Mrs May is laying the groundwork for a more moderate Brexit that will attempt to assuage Leavers and Remainers and that once the best solution emerges, she will attempt to boot out those demanding an instant “Hard Brexit“.

Tory Brexit fanatics threaten a revolt

However, the Sunday Times had this:  “Tories warn May of revolt over Brexit lite” (meaning “Soft Brexit”).   The same story was also in the Sunday Excess  Express: “’We don’t trust her –  Theresa May faces Tory revolt if she FAILS to curb migration from EU” and there was a similar story in the Telegraph “Tory MPs react with fury as EU leaders consider UK ’emergency brake’ on free movement”.  The Daily Mail also reported the story: “Tory rebels ‘won’t settle for Brexit lite’: MPs hit out at plans to keep access to the single market without full immigration controls“.   It is noteworthy that the Daily Mail was the only newspaper to have a headline making it clear that it was only a small minority of Conservative MP’s involved rather than the whole of the Conservative benches – most of whom were pro-Remain.  Yet another example of the Tail wagging the Dog.

Ian Duncan Smith aka “In Deep Shit”

Names mentioned included the usual suspects: Ian Duncan Smith MP,  John Redwood MP,  Bill Cash MP and Steve Baker MP.    Generally, anyone involved with the man who likes to be referred to as  “IDS” is likely to end up In Deep Shit and in this case the “Deep Shit” will adversely affect the many neglected people in deprived areas who voted “Leave” not least because of things IDS did when he was in charge of welfare.

About a month ago, The Scotsman has this on Brexit Lite:   “UK could adopt ‘Brexit-lite’ approach of quitting EU“.  It was then and remains the best option for giving effect to the result of the referendum which David Cameron so ill-advisedly promised to the Brexiteers.It remains to be seen how the Prime Minister will now deal with the pretensions  of the “usual suspects“.   Teresa May may well prove to be a lot tougher with back-bench rebels than David Cameron ever was.

Economic Impact of Brexit

Yesterday the Telegraph had this: “UK profit warnings rise to crisis highs amid Brexit uncertainty“.  The Financial Times has this: “UK business confidence drops to lowest since financial crisis after Brexit – CBI“.    Also this: “Brexit puts third of commercial property deals in doubt“.  See also: “Philip Hammond stresses need for ‘positive’ EU response to Brexit“.

Everything is going to be a tad volatile until the UK-EU negotiations are further advanced.


The Teresa May Brexit strategy

The PM’s First Week in Charge

Teresa May has completed her first few days in office. Parliament is taking its summer break and will sit again shortly before the Party Conferences.

The Telegraph has this assessment of progress so far: “Theresa May’s first week in charge: The new Iron Lady, Corbyn’s worst nightmare and a sober introduction to Europe – 7 things we learnt”.

The “Torygraph’s” verdict is of importance to the Conservative Party, especially in the run-up to the Party Conference,  and it may be thought that this article will be welcomed in No 10 Downing Street.

May-Hollande Press Conference  -Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

However, while Mrs May’s “getting to know you” visits to Berlin and Paris went as well as could be expected,  the Telegraph  points out that at the post meeting press conference, President Hollande made a key observation about Free Movement:-

” He insisted that while France would reluctantly grant the UK some wiggle room on the timing of Article 50, on the thorny issue of free movement of people, there would be none.”  

Rightly, the Telegraph points out:  ” It is this that will be the key conundrum of the coming talks – how Britain can assert some control over EU worker migration while retaining access to the EU single market.

Mrs May was Home Secretary before becoming Prime Minister.  She knows only too well how impossible it was to meet the daft commitment of the Cameron government to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands while respecting the EU “free movement” obligation.

She must also be aware that the Home Office relocated asylum seekers to the poorest towns in England in order to save money.  See this article in the 26th January 2016 issue of the Sun: “Map reveals the top 10 UK towns where asylum seekers are being ‘dumped’“.  The MP for Rochdale is reported in the article as saying: “You have groups of asylum seekers, who through no fault of their own have nothing to do because they are not allowed to work, wandering around the town centre, not speaking English. It’s not fair on the asylum seekers and it’s not fair on Rochdale residents.”

Perhaps it is fair to say that while Mrs May loyally supported her predecessor’s campaign to remain in the EU, she is aware of the impact of immigration on  the referendum vote.  So she is willing to attempt to find a solution which permits the UK to continue to have access to the single market in goods and services WITHOUT  free movement.

Rather surprisingly, yesterday’s Daily  Mail reported this warning from the head of the National Audit Office: “Brexit is a ‘tidal wave’ that will wash away and cancel major infrastructure projects such as new nuclear power, spending watchdog warns”.    The Mail also had this:  “Germans raid the City! Leave ‘isolated’ London and get rich in Frankfurt, mayor tells financial firms”.   Even if these two articles were rather buried in the gossip, it’s good to see the Mail actually writing something about a real economic issue.

HM Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Clown Boris in his new guise as HM Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was in New York asserting that the UK would keep EU passporting rights for Financial Services without having to continue with free movement: see this Financial Times report: “Johnson expects City to keep passporting rights – New foreign secretary says Brexit can be ‘fantastic thing’ for UK finance“.

Obviously, Clown Boris had to say something like that. But  Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris, are queuing up to offer their cities as headquarters for London’s EU financial services operations.

It remains to be seen whether the efforts to obtain continued access to the EU single market for goods and services without a commitment to free movement will be possible but there are numerous experts who consider it highly unlikely to succeed since it is one of the EU “sacred cows”.

The Guardian has a useful piece on the sequencing of Brexit negotiations: “UK officials seek draft agreements with EU before triggering article 50.

Financial Impact of Brexit

The Times has this: “‘Flash’ survey points to post-Brexit recession”.  The gist of the piece is as follows: “The British economy has suffered a “dramatic deterioration” in activity after the vote to leave the European Union, dropping to a level not seen since the financial crisis, according to a closely watched survey”.   See also this piece from the BBC:  “Brexit causes dramatic drop in UK economy, data suggests“.

On 19th July the Financial Times reported a downwards revision of the UK’s financial situation post Brexit: “IMF cuts growth forecast for UK following Brexit vote – Economists knock 1% point off projection for 2017 and say global outlook dragged down“.  Yesterday, the Financial Times reported: “Brexit fears of market contagion look overdone – Britain’s referendum has had a limited impact on global markets“.  No doubt, these and other indicators will receive close attention from the Chancellor and the Bank of England and will be reflected in the Autumn statement.

The Guardian published this this analysis on Friday:  “One month on, what has been the impact of the Brexit vote so far?”

Other Brexit Issues

We know that the judicial review application seeking to ensure that Parliament vote to authorise the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is due to be heard in October with the Divisional Court already making provision for an eventual “leapfrog”  appeal to the Supreme Court.  This is an important matter of some constitutional importance.

Sadly it is now also known that Mr “Repulsive” Aaron Banks has plans for a new political party: “Leave donor plans new party to replace Ukip – possibly without Farage in charge“. This ought to be a concern for the established parties.


Brexit is not a viable solution

Brexit – Defence and NATO

TeresaMayWhile Mrs May is making the rounds of the European Capitals to see what can be done about the Brexit Vote,  it will be important that all the players have regard to an ongoing threat to European Defence and NATO.  The first duty of any national government is to assure the defence of the nation.  All those EU countries who were once in the Warsaw Pact:  the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,  Slovakia, Slovenia and Albania know the dangers of being close neighbours of Russia – and indeed, for most of them, NATO membership was  a more urgent and important matter than membership of the EU.

Donald Trump

But it is entirely possible that Donald Trump could become the next President of the USA.  Yes, it’s a horrible thought.

But if, God forbid, that were to happen,  the US relationship with its European NATO allies might  well change.  See this in the New York Times: “Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack”.

The NYT article summarises the Trump Defence policy thus:

Mr. Trump repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms. Its roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders were each quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States”.

In those circumstances, the European members of NATO have to consider that they may no longer be able to rely on the USA as the guarantor of European security.  It is worth looking at this paper: “The UK and European defence: leading or leaving?” which gives a lot of the background to the UK’s dealings with the other EU Member states on Defence. There is a long history of both the USA and the UK unsuccessfully seeking to persuade other EU NATO members to step up to the plate on Defence spending.

The USA spends 3.5% of GDP on Defence.  The UK spends 2.2%  of its GDP on Defence,  but the majority of European states spend less than 2%.  That may now have to change – and quickly.

Further, there are only 2 nuclear weapons states in Europe: the UK and France.  So with the USA possibly being set to renege on its NATO obligations, the ultimate nuclear  deterrent rests on just two European powers.

The UK Parliament has just voted to renew its Trident Nuclear submarines.   What this is really going to cost the UK is difficult to ascertain.  See this in the Guardian: “Trident renewal: would £205bn be a price worth paying?“.  France also maintains its nuclear deterrent capability.  See: NTI – France.  Britain and France co-operate bilaterally to maintain their capabilities – but while these are national capabilities they are also in reality a NATO capability protecting those EU states which are NATO members.


Bayeux is located seven kilometres from the coast of the English Channel and 30 km north-west of Caen. Bayeux is  best known to visitors for the Bayeux tapestry, made to commemorate the 1066 Norman Conquest of England.

During the Second World War, Bayeux was the first city in France to be liberated during the Normandy Campaign.  The British Bayeux War Cemetery is situated in the south-western outskirts of the town on the by-pass, which is named Boulevard Fabian Ware. On the opposite side of the road stands the Bayeux Memorial:


The inscription translates:  “We (British) once conquered by William have returned to set free his native land.”  With two uncles in WW2 war graves in France, I have always been a fervent supporter of the European Union.  I am sad to see our Government reneging on the deal because of the idiocy of the Brexiteers who infest the Conservative Party.  It is to be hoped that a solution will be found which will recognise the common interest of the UK and its European partners.




First PMQ’s for Mrs May

Conservatives – Mrs May’s Government

TeresaMayWell, it looks as though Mrs May has by and large completed the organisation of her Ministry, she has presided over her first Cabinet meeting and she faced PMQ’s in the Commons today before beginning a round of visits to her opposite numbers in Germany and France. At PMQ’s she performed very well and dealt very easily with Jeremy Corbyn who must have come away from the session feeling less than happy.

The first major policy change from that of the Cameron Government appears to be that the incredibly stupid  “Net Migration Target” has been scrapped:  See this in The Telegraph: “Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson signal Tories’ migration target has been scrapped”.    The Guardian has a  balanced report: “May and Rudd distance themselves from Cameron pledge to cut immigration”.

The change seems eminently sensible. No government should promise what it cannot deliver.  The Cameron “tens of thousands” target was always impossible, particularly because of EU “free movement”, but also because it was unfair to others who had lawful family reunion, marriage, and other proper claims for admission.

Needless to say, this realism has unleashed howls of anger among the unwashed – see this in the Express “Britain’s net migration targets ABANDONED by May’s Government, Johnson and Rudd suggest” and this in the Daily Mail “Cabinet chaos as failed Tory pledge to cut migration by tens of thousands is on the verge of being scrapped“.

The Labour Party

It looks as though the Labour Party is making an attempt to resolve the differences between the Parliamentary Party and the the Leader by way of a Leadership challenge – see this report in The Guardian: “Owen Smith to face Corbyn in Labour leadership challenge“.  Whether this will mean that there will be an effective Opposition from Labour after the Summer recess remains to be seen.  The Telegraph has this: “Labour stares into the abyss” with this observation:  ” It is impossible to speak of Labour under Mr Corbyn as an alternative government.”  Today’s PMQ’s  served only to reinforce that observation.

Brexit Issues

(1) Legal Challenges to the Article 50 procedure

The various legal challenges to the Government’s position that Article 50 can be triggered using the Prerogative powers and without a vote in Parliament are under way.  See this report in the Financial Times about yesterday’s preliminary  hearing: “UK High Court to hear Brexit challenge in October“.   See also this report in the Daily Mail: “High Court judges WILL rule on whether MPs can overturn Brexit vote while some campaigners end fight and blame ‘threatening’ racist and anti-semitic abuse“.

(1) the Divisional Court will hear the case in October and after the decision may well allow a “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court so that the issue can be resolved as quickly as possible;

(2) at the hearing the Government would not trigger Article 50 before the end of the year so the the Court will have time to rule on the matter first;

(3) there has been trouble with law firms and clients receiving racist and anti-Semitic abuse from Brexit fanatics and Court warned that ‘aggressive and threatening abuse’ could amount to a criminal offence and would be dealt with ‘very seriously’.

(2) Economic Issues

Warnings about the economic impact of Brexit continue:  The Guardian has this: “Brexit impact is going to be horrible, says leading City fund manager“.

(3) UK EU Presidency

Downing Street has announced that it will pass on its 6 month EU presidency in the light of the Brexit Vote.  That seems to be a sensible decision.

(4) Brexit Scenarios

The Financial Times has published this:  “Four scenarios: how Brexit process could unfold Nasty, neutral or friendly . . .  or it might not happen at allFour scenarios: how Brexit process could unfold Nasty, neutral or friendly . . .  or it might not happen at all

The Institute for Government has a useful briefing paper:  “Negotiating Brexit“.  But more importantly, The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has today published a report “Equipping the Government for Brexit” which reaches two damning conclusions:-

“The previous Government’s considered view not to instruct key Departments including the FCO to plan for the possibility that the electorate would vote to leave the EU amounted to gross negligence. It has exacerbated post-referendum uncertainty both within the UK and amongst key international partners, and made the task now facing the new Government substantially more difficult.”

“The lack of contingency planning inevitably means that the Government’s plans are tentative and just emerging. We intend to examine these at the earliest available opportunity, including how the Government plans to consult other interested parties in the UK.”

(5)  The Three Brexiteers

Clown Boris is now Foreign Secretary 

The “Three Brexiteers” (i.e. Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox) have been given a “country house share” – more precisely Chevening House,  which was gifted to the nation by the 7th Earl Stanhope.  Usually, it is placed at the disposal of the Foreign Secretary but under the May administration the house is to used by the Three Brexiteers – which the Guardian suggested  may have indicated something of a Prime Ministerial put down: “Boris Johnson forced to share mansion with Liam Fox and David Davis“.   Clown Boris had a fairly uncomfortable time at a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State  – see this Guardian Report: “Boris Johnson grilled over past ‘outright lies’ at uneasy press conference“.

Brexit Secretary Davis

Perhaps the Prime Minister’s offer of a “country-house-share” was a hint to the Thtee Brexiteers that they will need to do some homework.  For example, this article by Professor Mark Manger of Toronto writes: “David Davis has demonstrated a decidedly muddled understanding of trade policy”.

Small wonder that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is worried.   After so may years in the EU (during which time trade deals were negotiated by the Commission on behalf of all Member States), the United Kingdom simply does not have the requisite expertise, whether among Ministers or Civil Servants.  To make matters worse, trade deals cannot  made with other countries until after the UK has left the EU.

It is properly arguable that the UK’s interests  would be best served by the UK doing exactly what other EU Members have done after a negative referendum result: somehow finding a way to reverse a referendum decision which is against the national interest.

But unless and until the Three Brexiteers fail in the process of preparing a viable Brexit plan,  Mrs May is hostage to the stance she has thus far taken.








Sunday 17th July 2016

May Government – More Departures & Appointments

Leavers: Anna Soubry MP (formerly Business Minister) has resigned from the Government.  So has Baroness Altman (formerly Pensions Minister) and also Ed Vaizey MP (formerly Culture Minister) also  Dom Raab, and Justin Tomlinson, Mark Francois, George Freeman, Sir Desmond Swayne, Hugo Swire, Julian Brazier, James Duddridge, Charlie Elphicke, John Penrose, Andrew Selous and Baroness Verma.

Some further ministerial appointments have been announced and these will be reflected on the The Teresa May Government page.

The Conservative Home blog has a useful post:  “Meet the new team at Number Ten” which provides some insight into the PM’s private office:  all the former David Cameron aides have been sent packing and the first 6 key May aides are given as:  (1) Nick Timothy: Joint Chief of Staff,  (2) Fiona Hill: Joint Chief of Staff, (3) John Godfrey: Director of Policy, (4) Katie Perrior: Director of Communications, (5) Lizzie Loudon: Press Secretary, and (6) Liz Sanderson: Head of Features.  The post gives some insight into the background of each.

The UK Prime Minister visits the Scottish First Minister

May SturgThe Guardian has this: “May tells Sturgeon Holyrood will be ‘fully engaged’ in EU talks“.

The Scotsman had this leader: “Leader comment: May and Sturgeon on a collision course“. and the Scottish Daily Record has:  “Theresa May willing to listen to Nicola Sturgeon on EU options but says Scots have ‘had their vote’ on independence“.

If nothing else, the meeting of the UK Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister at Bute House shows how far we have moved on since 1558 and John Knox’s proposition:

To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant to nature; contumely [an insult] to God, a thing most contrary to his revealed will and approved ordinance; and finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice”  [First Blast of the Trumpet against The Monstrous Regiment of Women].  

Since the Scottish First Minister has obtained assurances from the Prime Minister relating to participation in any Brexit negotiations, it was interesting to note the Announcement on STV: “Brussels trip for MSPs as Brexit talks get under way“.

It is to be hoped that as a supporter of the Union, the Prime Minister has come away from Scotland with a very clear understanding that Brexit might very well be the trigger for the withdrawal of the nation of Scotland from the Union.

Other Brexit Issues 

No-one will be surprised that the sad events in France and Turkey take up much of the space in the Sunday papers – pushing Brexit issues off the front and inside pages – with few exceptions.

The Observer has this: “Brexit won’t free UK from paying for botched EU farming subsidies, warn audit office” – agricultural subsidies are a problem Andrea Leadsom now has on her desk.  The Observer also has this:  “A hard truth for Leave voters: Brexit means big government” which is summarised thus “The unshackled post-EU economy that free marketeers dream of will only succeed with high immigration – and massive state investme

david-davis-graphicThe Sunday Times has “Whitehall scours City for Brexit trade experts – Ministers scramble to build negotiating team as talks to leave EU loom“.

Legal Week has this “Seven ways Brexit will impact international law firms“.  It might be very hard for the Secretary of State for Brexit to persuade any respectable lawyer to join him in his campaign to wreck the City of London.

Yet, the Mail on Sunday has this from the Secretary of State for Brexit: “We’ll send EU migrant ‘surge’ back: Brexit Minister David Davis says he may send home Europeans who rush to get in before we leave Brussels

One has to wonder whether the Prime Minister approved that statement before it was released.  Still, appointing David Davis to any position in government was always going to be risky.



The PM and her Brexit Ministers

Conservatives – May Government

The Daily Mail has this:  “March of the meritocrats: May loads new Cabinet with state educated Ministers on the most brutal day of top-level sacking in modern history”.

The Telegraph goes with “The Blueprint for Brexit: how Britain will negotiate out of the EU and spend for the sake of the economy

Boris3Perhaps, less encouraging for the PM was this in the Guardian: “The Guardian view on Boris  Johnson – no joke at all” – which asserts:

“Mr Johnson’s first foray will be a meeting with EU foreign ministers on Monday in Brussels. Celebrity and brash behaviour will not go far in the pursuit of strategic goals – and Britain right now has much to try to secure. Mr Johnson will no doubt continue to make headlines, because that is his special talent. But his appointment is, simply, very bad news”.

Brexit = Break-Up of the Union ?

The Prime Minister is due to travel to Scotland today.  No doubt she will have access to this morning’s headlines in the Scottish newspapers:-

The Scotsman:  “Alex Salmond warns Theresa May: Don’t mess with people of Scotland

The Daily Record has: “Theresa May to hold Brexit showdown talks with Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow as new PM heads to Scotlandand “Separate EU deal for Scotland written off by new Chancellor Philip Hammond

The Prime Minister, as a Unionist, will be only too well aware of the risks to the Union which a Brexit vote would engender.  Let’s see how she gets on with Nicola Sturgeon.

David Davis – Delivery of Brexit

The new Secretary of State has this on the Conservative Home website:  “David Davis: Trade deals. Tax cuts. And taking time before triggering Article 50. A Brexit economic strategy for Britain“.   On first reading some people might even think it is quite sensible.

The same text is also reproduced, together with some pretty graphics (which were not part of the original post)  in, of all places,  the Sun newspaper: BREXIT STRATEGY May’s new chief Europe negotiator David Davis lays out plans to take us out of EU

David Davis MP now recyled as Secretary of State for Brexit

One supposes that Sun readers quickly lose interest in text that does not have pictures or graphics.

This rather charming exercise in tarting up the text might serve to remind people just who the old codger newly recycled as Secretary of State for Brexit really is.  He has rather faded from the public mind since he last held office as Minister for Europe in the John Major Government until 2nd May 1997 when he was replaced by Douglas Henderson – though he has since been a fairly well regarded member of the Conservative Party’s “Awkward Squad” on the back benches.  – declining to join the Cameron coalition government in 2010.

However, the Financial Times has a very good “Brexit Briefing” e-mail service and Mr Davis’s article was discussed in this morning’s FT e-mail:-

“How credible a negotiating strategy is this? Not very, says John Springford of the Centre for European Reform. “Mr Davis does not understand the economics. Some 45 per cent of UK exports go to the EU and, on average, about 8 per cent of the exports of each member state go to the UK. So there is far more at risk for Britain in conducting a hard ball trade strategy with the EU.

Springford says: “Overall, I don’t think Mr Davis’s piece really tells us much about what the UK’s negotiation will really be like. The analysis is so flawed that the mandarins in Whitehall will tell him he has to think again.

I’m not so sure about the Mandarins.  Most of those with good experience of negotiating trade deals have either retired or moved to Brussels where the EU can make good use of them – and they will probably prefer to remain there.