Gareth Lyon: Post-Boris. The Prime Minister is more Lyndon Johnson than his jokey former self.

Gareth Lyon is a councillor in Rushmoor and the Chairman of the Aldershot and North Hants Conservative Association.

“At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”

“Kennedy promised. Johnson delivered.”

It has been often remarked by those who hold grave doubts about the new Prime Minister that the Boris Johnson of 2019 is far removed from the Boris Johnson of 2012.

People who make this remark are drawing attention a certain loss of levity once held by the Mayor of London who was able to defy the gravity of mid-term Conservative unpopularity whilst suspended by a zip-wire.

Inevitably the seriousness of the offices he has held, and the acrimony of politics in recent years, have led to a more grounded and mundane take on the man. Just as in the time before he ascended to City Hall, there are those who doubt that stunts and flights of fine rhetoric alone can carry him to his desired destination.

Ironically, the most serious minded, long-term and conviction-driven decision of Johnson’s career, the decision to lead the Vote Leave campaign, is also responsible for many of the most vehement accusations of vacuity and vanity levelled against him.

Yet, the consequences of the Leave victory and the ensuing train-wreck of his leadership bid may also have been the making of the true Mr Johnson.

For we are now witnessing him in the post-Boris era, in which the whiff-whaff waffle and the loquacious Latin has been stripped away, and the inner Lyndon Johnson is what is left.

Just as it took required the sad and untimely end of an eloquent and widely liked politician for Lyndon Johnson to ascend to the office he had coveted for much of his life, so to it is with our new Prime Minister. The only oddity is that in our modern case both characters were in the same man.

If the leadership election, in both Parliamentary and member stages, were anything to go by, then Johnson is showing an almost cold and brutal adoption of machine politics in the manner of his namesake.

Lyndon Johnson’s focus on delivery was perhaps unlofty but it was effective.

The legislative achievements of his Presidency were great in number and transformative – in marked contrast to the energising but ultimately empty rhetoric of the vastly overrated Kennedy.

Whether good (civil rights, voting rights and immigration reform), bad (medicare, Medicaid, The Great Society) or good but badly executed (public service broadcasting and Vietnam) there is no denying that Johnson delivered.

The early signs are that Boris Johnson’s administration will be similarly focussed on delivery. The appointment of many of the most effective operatives from his time in City Hall and the Vote Leave campaign are mirrored in what now seems to be an almost revolutionary move in having a cabinet united in resolve and purpose.

Some of the most Lydonesque tendencies of new administration were also apparent in the treatment of those who made the wrong choice in the recent leadership election and paid a very public price. The signal this sends to those considering disloyalty in future will have been received by those it was intended for.

Similarly, it is notable that some of those who are loyal and competent and have proven to be so in the past have missed out on the elevation they felt they earned. This too sends a clear message – that these are necessary but not sufficient qualities for promotion and survival.

On a final note which may hold some promise as a precursor – Lyndon Johnson’s early nickname of “Bull***t Johnson” overtime gave way to the rather more complimentary “Landslide Johnson”, as he blew away the opposition party’s ideologically committed opponent in a general election.

Overall this metamorphosis should be seen as a positive one. Whilst we may look back with sadness at the loss of the preceding jovial Johnson, with the need to get Brexit done and get Britain’s politics moving again, we may find that we can “go all the way with LBJ…”

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There is a world of support out there for Brexit Britain as you embrace self-governance

From my office in Los Angeles, nearly 5,500 miles from London, I watched with interest the Brexit vote in 2016. I listened to the media and the political elites and heard the polling numbers, but secretly held out one little glimmer of hope that perhaps those who spoke the loudest weren’t right. Was it possible that the people of the UK who were dismissed and underestimated, mocked and looked down upon, shamed and scared, could quietly pull off the impossible? Without well-funded coordination, but with collective faith in their fellow countrymen, they went to the ballot box and shocked their nation – and the world!

World For Brexit has now been established to support the 17.4 million people in the UK who voted to Leave the EU in a free and fair referendum. There was a two-year plan in place to facilitate that yet, three years later, they are no closer to exiting than they were then. It is a terrible betrayal of democracy and should not be allowed to happen – especially there. The appetite for Leaving is only increasing, not decreasing, and many who weren’t in favour of Leaving originally are now at the point where they just want to “get on with it” and implement a full exit. It seems like a reasonable expectation. The voters want what they voted for. Still. And who can blame them?

The Leavers won a fair democratic process. The loser’s consent is not required in order to move forward with the winning side’s ideas. And furthermore, contrary to the opinion of some on the Remain side, just because the vote was 52% to 48%, it doesn’t mean that consensus – or even compromise – is required. That’s not how the democratic process works.

The talking points of those in the Remain camp are primarily based on fear and negativity. They highlight all that is perceived to be wrong with Brexit and generate anxiety along every step of the process. Their narrative is so toxic – as if Leave was a vote against something.

In truth, Leave was a vote for something. Actually a vote for everything. Brexit was a vote of confidence. It was an expression of strength. A belief that the UK could – and should – stand alone as a strong, successful, independent and sovereign nation capable of ruling itself. A vote for a country that is ready to lead, not follow.

The UK is one of the longest-standing democracies in the world and has championed democracy all over the globe. The vote to Leave the European Union was the largest democratic mandate there has ever been in British history. How can the vote of the people be so ignored? The world shows outrage when other countries like Venezuela, Cuba or Iran face political suppression, yet are ignoring it now with the UK vote.

Of course, the UK has not been part of the EU for hundreds of years – only since the mid-1970s. Most UK voters still have first-hand knowledge of being an independent, sovereign nation. Implementing Brexit is not a deviation from democracy, it’s an affirmation of democracy and a return to it. What is a deviation from normalcy is the surrender of allegiance to an unelected body of commissioners over which the governed have no power. Why would anyone subject themselves to people who are appointed, not elected – and to people who can’t be voted out if those they represent are unhappy with their leadership?

Some say that the EU provides stability. The news I hear out of Europe involves rioting on the streets of France and an approval rating of 27% for Macron. Merkel is barely holding her own government together in Germany, a previous powerhouse, and Portugal and Greece and other EU member nations constantly need financial bailouts. It seems to me that the UK is the stabilising force for the EU – not the other way around.

The doom-mongers say Leaving will create economic ruin. If you look at a map of the world, you will see that the EU comprises a relatively small section of land. Once the UK breaks free from the EU chokehold on their economy, the world becomes open to trade with, negotiate with and establish bilateral relationships with. And with no more need to ask permission from Big Brother Brussels to do so. The thought of that should be freeing, not frightening.

Like the Leavers, I believe that a country which is free and prosperous and proud and industrious should not be limited or constrained by its European neighbours, but should embrace the limitless potential that will come globally once again from independence and self-governance.

Thank you, brave Brexiteers, for inspiring us with your boldness in 2016. We hope the support of World For Brexit will embolden you now.

The post There is a world of support out there for Brexit Britain as you embrace self-governance appeared first on BrexitCentral.

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Why a US-UK trade deal ought to mean us finally getting some sense from Brussels

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already made it clear he will urgently look for a trade deal with President Trump. From a purely political viewpoint, this clearly makes sense in a world where the EU is mortally afraid of what President Trump might do next to it. However, there is also an economic logic to it which is worth spelling out, both for those embarking on the US deal at this end and for those seeking an EU response to our offers of a trade deal.

What a US trade deal would do would be to open up our markets to US goods, both food and manufactures, in return for UK tariff-free access to US goods markets and easier access into US services markets, where we already operate fairly freely in practice. From the EU viewpoint it is the former that matters: US barrier-free supply of food and manufactures into the UK market would mean that UK prices would fall sharply in response to the more or less infinite (relative to the UK market) availability of supplies from efficient and large US suppliers at best world prices. Effectively UK home prices would fall to world levels, a drop of some 20%, this being the scale of EU tariff and non-tariff protection against world competition. From our trade viewpoint this would therefore operate like unilateral free trade, lowering consumer prices and forcing competition on our home suppliers, who would have to meet it by raising productivity. The gain to UK GDP and welfare of even half of this would, we calculate, be around 4%; double that if it all goes through. This makes a US trade deal highly desirable for us in its own terms.

Of course this deal will be fought tooth and nail by all the usual business and protectionist lobbies – the CBI etc. Ministers must be ready for the full litany of objections; they should be in no doubt that for this deal to go through, they must rebut the whole stable of these stale arguments, whether it is the preservation of jobs (read ’existing jobs’ for that – new jobs are constantly being created by our economy); the collapse of manufacturing (only if it cannot raise productivity, which it has done relentlessly for three decades); the disappearance of our farm industry (but it too can raise productivity and will be helped by our new farm support policies); the pollution of food standards (by higher-standard US food?); and so it will go on.

Assume our new government has the determination to get this through. What then happens to EU attitudes? Already no doubt ‘softened up’ by worries about losing the £39 billion promised in the Withdrawal Agreement, these attitudes are now transformed by the new economics of failing to do a trade deal, that’s what. Suppose now no trade deal so that tariffs go up both ways between the EU and ourselves. EU sales to us are bigger and on higher tariff items, so our tariff bill on these would be £13 billion a year. On our sales to the EU their tariff bill would be £5 billion a year. But more importantly, who ‘pays’ these tariffs, in the sense of being worse off to the tune of these amounts? Once a US trade deal is in place and UK prices are at world levels, the apparently surprising answer is that all these tariffs, both ways, are paid by EU traders.

Consider why. First, EU export traders, to sell in the UK market at these world prices, will have to match them; they cannot raise prices when the tariffs go on, or they risk selling nothing at all. So these EU exporters must absorb the tariffs. The UK Treasury will thus receive its £13 billion direct from EU exporters.

Second, EU importers of UK exports. UK exporters can sell their products at home now at world prices, so they will not take less for EU exports; hence EU importers will not be able to ‘pass back’ the EU-levied tariffs to UK exporters. Instead they will add them into EU prices. Will this reduce UK exports to the EU? No, because remember EU prices are above world prices by 20%, the effect of EU protection. So in effect EU importers can well afford to absorb the EU tariffs on UK exports (which average about 5%, much less than that overall 20% world protection inclusive of non-tariff barriers), and still be cheaper than other EU competition. So what all this means is that the £5 billion tariff revenue of the EU is simply taken from EU businesses.

So overall, a failure to do a trade deal will cost EU businesses £18 billion a year in lost profits. £5 billion of this will go to the EU in extra revenue, £13 billion to the UK Treasury. From the EU’s internal viewpoint, these are non-trivial costs to business; the fact that some of it is directly levied by the Commission will add to its unpopularity with business opinion, which is the biggest Brussels lobbying voice. Total gross profits in the EU27 are around €4,000 billion, of which some two thirds is capital depreciation, giving net profits of about €2,500 billion, so implying on a normal dividend payout ratio dividends of about €500 billion. So we are talking here of a significant hit to company dividends in the rest of the EU from a no trade-deal Brexit.

Up to now, the assumption in EU circles has been that no trade deal would be unpleasant in some parts of the EU but the worst effects, such as in Ireland, would be manageable, through some sort of compensation to this small economy. With the UK still a protected market with high prices, EU producers would not face tough competition and so could possibly pass on UK tariffs to UK consumers without too much loss of market share. Meanwhile UK exporters would absorb EU tariffs with their alternative market only being the limited home market or much lower-priced world exports.

This all changes, as we have seen, once a US-UK trade deal is signed. The EU trade deal arithmetic is transformed to a nasty corporate loss across the whole EU business sector.

There is more. When the UK signs the US trade deal, the direct effect on the prices the EU can sell at in the UK market will be a fall of 20%, even with no change in UK tariffs. Similarly our exporters to the EU will now sell to them at those 20% lower (now world) prices, assuming no EU tariffs. As we import some £100 billion a year more from the EU than we export, this 20% price fall will cost the EU £20 billion – even before any action on EU-UK tariffs. This will also come directly out of EU business dividends.

So when we sign a US trade deal, the EU will lose £20 billion at once, and a further £18 billion if there is no UK-EU trade deal so that mutual tariffs are levied – a total of £38 billion a year, nearly 8% of EU corporate dividends. This implies that the EU will be anxious to dissuade us from making a US trade deal by being more obliging in its negotiating approach over Brexit. Of course, in doing this they will risk annoying President Trump; nor is our new Government anyway likely to be dissuaded from such an important strategic deal.

But it all goes to show that the route to getting sense at last from Brussels lies through Washington and President Trump. It is good to see that Mr. Johnson is planning to take this route in short order.

The post Why a US-UK trade deal ought to mean us finally getting some sense from Brussels appeared first on BrexitCentral.

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