Now that summer has finally arrived here are a few reads that you might want to smuggle away in your case to balance your more typical holiday reads.
First up is a speech given by Theresa May in defence of remaining in the EU that she gave during the EU referendum campaign. The PM has since made clear that Brexit means Brexit, but her April 25 speech gives a helpful insight both into how she approaches big political decisions and also her understanding of key concerns that are going to be recurring features during the Brexit negotiations. The speech shows her to be a pragmatic multilateralist who recognises that in some instances the pooling of sovereignty is necessary to protect and promote the national interest.
Next up is a 2,000 word article by David Davis on the Conservative Home website setting out his views on how the Brexit negotiation should proceed. The article was posted last Monday before Theresa May was confirmed as PM and before he was appointed as the Cabinet Minister responsible for spearheading the Brexit negotiations. It’s worth a read not least because government officials across the Europe will no doubt be poring over the piece.
Davis suggests holding of triggering formal negotiations until the end of 2018 and using the next 18 months to negotiate key trade deals with Britain’s non-EU partners. His preferred option is continued tariff-free access to Europe’s single market, but suggests that if the EU is irrational during the negotiations then the UK should accept restrictions on free movement and shift to World Trade Organisation rules and levies, including 10 per cent levies on car exports.
You can make your own mind up on whether this blueprint represents a credible strategy and we will have to wait and see whether it survives the scrutiny of Whitehall mandarins but the article does provide a useful insight into David Davis own views on how the UK should exit the EU.
The third piece of holiday reading is a detailed analysis of the state of the UK economy from the Centre of European Reform written by Christian Odendahl and John Springford. This is not for the faint of heart as it calmly dismantles the optimistic outlook of the Leavers and explains why the UK may be heading for recession.
It’s the type of piece that if read when holidaying abroad might encourage you to stay. The analysis appears confirmed by the latest IMF World Economic Outlook published this week which downgrades its economic growth forecasts for the UK.
Odendahl and Springford remind us that the Brexit negotiations won’t take place in a vacuum but against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty and wider financial stress. It draws into question whether Theresea May will be able to deliver on the ambitious social agenda that she set out from the footstep of No 10 last week.. ‘One Nation’ government costs and sadly Britain’s coffers remain empty.
To complement this reading I also recommend downloading on to your Ipod the BBC Radio 4 Point of View: After the Vote series which consists of a series of thoughtful reflections from leading thinkers including Onora O’Neil, Roger Scruton, Peter Hennessey , Mary Beard and John Gray.
You can take your pick but I found Peter Hennessey’s contribution particularly helpful especially his suggestion that in the wake of Brexit we need two Royal Commissions: one to explore the question of Britain’s role and the other to look at who we are as country and how we should relate to one another. Britain might have an entered an age of uncertainty but such uncertainty, where worlds are in flux, can be particularly creative time and can lead to a renewal of the body politic.
The final recommendation for summer reading is a short report published this week by Policy Exchange a center right think tank based in London. Authored by Professor John Bew of Kings College London the reports warns that Brexit cannot be allowed to become the latest instalment of a narrative of decline in Britain’s influence on the world stage that has been building up in recent years.
Bew says that the government must ignore the ‘siren calls’ that Brexit equals isolationism and swiftly and decisively reset the UK’s relations with key allies, especially the United States, Germany and a number of other EU member states, particularly those in the East. The report holds it is critical to reassure those key allies that Britain will not look through a short-term, narrow lens and adopt a ‘neo-Elizabethan’ age approach to foreign policy by simply favouring bilateral relations with emerging markets.
In the short-term, it recommends the UK reasserting its commitment to NATO by signalling an intent to raise defence spending above the 2% GDP target, appointing 20 more trade negotiators to work with the new International Trade Secretary, bringing forward the scheduled 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to autumn 2017 and to seek a special summit with the next President of the United States.
Let me know what’s top of your post-Brexit summer reads.