A New Place Of Exile

Richard Hutton

Sanguine Rivers – The 50th Anniversary Of 1968: Enoch Powell’s Speech Modernified (and all that).

 

 

The supreme ship of statesmen is to prevent unpreventable evils. In seeking to avoid the unavoidable, one often encounters obstacles which are more than a mite trying.

The old patience seems to give, somewhat. There is a test of resolve – and all that kind of rigmarole.

You can’t always be entirely sure you haven’t imagined the whole thing, what?

And of course, by the time you’ve figured out which end is the beginning, well, it’s often as not time to go home.

This is why perhaps lots of people – far too many to be precise, but at least two persons of my acquaintance, at any rate – choose to focus on the present.

According to them, things do not exist, until they have materialised.

Amidst this hoo-ha, however, one abstrusion stands clear: such people confuse causing troubles, with predicting troubles.

“If only,” they like to believe; “if only people wouldn’t purposely set out to provoke acrimony, then it probably wouldn’t arise!”.

Peradventure, this habit of thought goes back to the era of primitive computer programming – and its attendant command that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical:

“Name of Object to be Created Identical to Existing Name IS_PERF_MON_STATS_TM of the Object Type Table error BaseAttributeForm” they think.

The discussion of potentially mausoleous, and – without vigilance in the present – needless evils derived from the past, is the most unpopular and, at the same time, the most worthwhile occupation for the politician.

Yet those who knowingly eschew the opportunity for their own personal advancement do not infrequently receive the derision of those who are only too keen to supplant them.

As a bad dose of good luck would have it – a week or two ago, I fell into conversation with a constituent of mine: a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man – who was unemployed in one of our nation’s many outsourced industries.

After a sentence or two about the weather – one obliges, of course, out of democratic principles; also the climate in this country really can be rather beastly – he suddenly said to me: “if I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in Britain – I would move abroad”.

I gave a deprecatory reply, to the effect that Monday seldom becomes Wednesday, without Tuesday featuring at some point; and that even permanent afflictions cannot trouble us forever.

But he took no notice, and continued: “it’s because of migration, it is” – that is how proletarian people speak and talk – “I simply want what is best for my family, and will not be satisfied until I see them all settled and working overseas; given the way things are headed in this country”.

Here is a decent, ordinary, patriotic Briton, who – in broad daylight – in my own town, says to his Member of Parliament – me – that this great country is not worth living in.

He feels compelled to move abroad, in search of a better life – and to take his family with him.

And why?

Because of the basic wrongness, of migrants and their dependents being able to travel hither and thither, without restraint. Something he simply cannot relate to.

In 15 or 20 years’ time – give or take several months, as a margin for error – minorities will be giving the stouthearted yeoman of England, a good sound thrashing in the societal stakes.

I can already hear the chorus of incredulation.

How dare I be so bold as to relay such anecdata?

How can I stand to tell such vertiginous tales?

The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so – because the time
never was, nor ever has been, even more of the essence than now. One can no longer afford to completely avoid having no opinion.

As many as five decades have elapsed during the past fifty years. Yet throughout that period, no fewer than zero Black people have led Britain’s government – and that is a number which can only increase.

Since 1953, only a single white person has ever been crowned Britain’s monarch.

And why are a meager eleven months of the year devoted to white history; when a mere twelfth of the population are persons of colour?

I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something more worthwhile.

What my constituent was saying, thousands of hundreds are thinking aloud. Not throughout Great Britain in its entirety, perhaps; but certainly in those areas of the country which remain largely untouched by migration.

These locales are already undergoing the total transformation – to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history; with as many as ten people in every hundred being a member of an ethnic minority.

On present trends, that could become ten per cent of the population, before the year is out. Possibly even one in ten!

That is not my figure. That is the official figure, told to a friend of mine – who is very knowledgeable about such things.

By no later than the present, those native-hewn Britons who were born here – and whose ancestors arrived in this country, from distant climes beforehand – will continue to be the majority of people living in our country.

It will be as if the true-born Briton, who can boast of immaculately British conception, simply did not exist; and never had done. Scarce will one English family be left alive, which does not from some foreign-origin ultimately derive.

It is this appreciation of factfulness which creates the extreme urgency of caution now – of just that kind which is the very hardest for politicians to take: being frank and direct, with members of the public.

In fact, it is not long since I myself witnessed the devastating impact of the sweeping and rapid cultural-change, which foreign introductions have wrought upon this once benighted nation, first-hand.

In the aisles of my local supermarket, I encountered as stouthearted and sensible a chap as ever I met – who was no stranger to roughing it, having spent 30 years or more, working in the cut-throat world of soft-furnishings.

Yet there he stood, completely overcome – and weeping tears of bitter lament.

Several other experienced men – to judge by their epaulets, retired officers from the merchant navy, all – were close by; rapt in a similar state of anguish.

The cause of their distress? A loaf of French bread being sold in full view of the unsuspecting public – on a shelf in the bakery section, of an otherwise perfectly British shop.

It should be understood that they bore no ill-will towards these foreign imports on any personal level.

It was not that they regarded the uncorruptible British bap as a far superior specimen of the yeast-born, and crust-laden, than any mere baguette you could mention.

No – they merely had very real concerns about the demographic threat posed to British loaves, on already crowded supermarket shelves; and these concerns must be taken seriously.

The suggestion that we might simply use a larger shelf – or an additional one – is, frankly, preposterous. The fact that nobody is allowed to talk about this dread appertainance…well, I will say no more.

This whole incident was symptomatic of the horrors faced by the embattled British population; who comprise a mere 94 per cent of the local community, these days.

The natural and rational first question for a nation confronted by such a prospect to ask is: “how can its dimensions be increased?”. Granted it be not wholly increasable, can it be expanded, or swelled – bearing in mind that numbers are of the essence – ?

The significance and consequences of a British element – residual in this country and its population – are profoundly different, according to whether that element is 94 per cent or 95 per cent.

The answer to the simple and rational question is equally rational and simple: a plethora of upright Britons, lying back and thinking of England; taking the bull by the horns – without stint – until the cows come home.

The only alternative to this simple and rational scheme, is to adopt an approach to migration which is neither rational nor simple. Chiefly, the encouragement of unarriving in Britain; combined with a determined discouragement of not departing, forthwith.

It almost passes belief that, at this very moment, no fewer than three thirds of some communities in modern Britain are either immigrants, descended from immigrants, or not even categorized as either of these.

And that is without taking into account the unknown number of people who cannot be added to this sum; because their numbers are unknown.

I stress that by the words “immigrants”, I am not talking about people who moved to Britain in order to work in our National Health Service; and whose efforts have allowed our economy to be expanded faster than would otherwise prove possible.

Or else those who raise their families here; and can generally be regarded as sound and useful members of the common-wealth.

Instead, I am talking about unquantifiable others – nebulous figures of nameless dread; who haunt our waking nightmares as intangible phantoms, that can but be imagined.

It is like watching through a gap in one’s drawing-room curtains, as a nation engages in heaping up its own funeral procession.

So insane are we, that we actually permit unmarried persons to move into Britain, for the purpose of marrying somebody – and founding a family.

This kind of behaviour has no precedent in human history.

Nobody has ever wanted to travel abroad before; let alone considered marriage – less still have they desired to start families.

It is certainly not something which should be regarded as simple and rational.

Instead, it should be reduced at once to negligible proportions; and the necessary legislative and administrative measures be taken without delay.

We cannot overstate how much this danger is underestimated. There is no more inaccurate misconception of the realities we currently face in the future, than those long since promulgated protuberantly by various vociferous denouncers of “discrimination”.

Be they the tabloids who hurrahed for the black-shorts – and which tried to blind this country to the rising peril of intolerant demagogues, who had a bee in their bonnets de douche about minorities in their midst.

Or corpulent archbishops, who live in opulent palaces – long known for their blasé attitude towards adherents of minority religions; and their zealous concern for the poor of this world.

Unlike them, migrants im into Britain – a country which has never known any discrimination between citizens, regardless of whether they were permitted to vote or not; or however lowly their status in life might be.

Yet once here, they are treated almost as well as native-born Britons; thereby incurring the out-spoken resentment of the silent majority.

The sense of alarm and resentment, of indignation and disgruntlement, of immeasurable discontent and incalculable antagonism, of fathomless jaundice and untold pique, boundless acrimony and incomputable rancour – with more than a fair share of unshared unfairness being sensed – lies not with the immigrant population; but with people whose ancestry in this country dates back many recent years.

For reasons which they could not comprehend without effort – and in pursuance of a decision on which they were never consulted, outside of elections – they found themselves as if strangers in their own country.

Britain seemed like a foreign land – something that no newcomer to our shores could ever truly understand.

Housewives could no longer buy traditional British food, like three-milk cake. Instead, they were forced to consume “pastel de tres leches“.

They found their husbands unable to obtain putting wedges at the local golf club. 

Men discovered that their spouses were unable to secure hospital beds, unless they were prepared to stand back and watch them being treated by foreign doctors and nurses – who had not even been born in this country!

Homes and neighbourhoods had changed beyond recognition. Sacrificial fires – with flames lambent – had replaced British street lamps.

Witch doctors could be witnessed carving unpronounceable words into the bark of English trees, using teaspoons: a practice for which they are ill-lent; and a habit seldom witnessed in this country, until the arrival of some two-score shamanics, no more than three weeks whence.  

Those few people in the majority, now find themselves in workplaces where employers hesitate to apply to the migrant worker the standards of promptliness, rectitude – and probity – which Britons modestly demand of themselves, at all times.

Plans for the future are now history.

In the hundreds upon thousands of letters I received, when I first spoke on this subject last time around, there was one striking feature which was largely new – and which I find ominous, most distinctly.

What surprised and alarmed me was the high proportion of ordinary, decent, sensible people – writing with a rational and often well-educated pencil; using a first class stamp, instead of the second-class variety.

I am going to allow just one of those many few dozen letters to speak for me:

“A long time ago, only a short while back, during a respectable street – on the outskirts of fashionable Puedam – a discerning house was sold to somebody who looked of foreign extraction.

Now, less than ten solar years later, only one white woman – a pensioner, of old-age; Caucasian and female – runs her own home”.

This is that woman’s story – it is an accurate report of feelings.

She was terrorised by immigrants – who pushed leaflets advertising takeaways, which specialised in foreign-cuisine, through her letter box; at least once a week, daily.

Due to nothing more than the ingrained British reluctance to surrender, she refused to take the easy option, and simply place a sign in her window asking them not to.

Instead, she complained to the Council, and contacted social services, then the village parish – before finally seeing sense, and dialing 999.

It would be no exaggeration to say that calling the response she received desultory, would be the greatest understatement in the history of these isles.

One young “lady” she encountered even went so far as to ask why the woman didn’t “just put the offending leaflets in her recycling bin?”.

If this woman has a fault – which I am not at liberty to observe – it is that she is apt to become discursive, when strongly moved.

Having lost her nerve, as anyone would in such circumstances, she began to talk at random – saying the first thing that chanced to enter her head.

In this instance, that would seem to have been the Pekingese: and the merits of austere treatment, if one is to get the very best out of the breed.

Her interlocutor having got the wrong end of the stick entirely – while being of a candid disposition – wound up the proceedings by making an opprobrious remark about the woman’s character, and general bearing in life.

Naturally, afterwards – when a calmer mood had descended – she wrote a letter to me, outlining this horrifying tale; and her own extremely dignified behaviour, throughout, in full.

And here I relay it now.

One is shocked – one raises the eyebrows! That is why I object to the prevailing sentiment in some quarters, that this tragic and intractable phenomenon – which we watch with mounting horror – is merely the devil of our own imaginations.

We are on the verge here of a change: foreigners have introduced xenophobia into this country; along with other strange customs, alien to our land, which seem weird and frightening.

The words I am about to use, are re-parroted verbatim – as they appeared in the local press on a day of the week, last Season.

They are not mine, but those of a very learned Member of Parliament – of a progressive bearing; who, in his time, has been described as “not incompetent”, on more than one occasion.

This is his story:

“Despite being seated beside a fearfully important West End producer, a fellow from the Punjab mistook the white jacket I was adorned with, for the accouterments of a waiter!

He then asked me to fetch the jam roly-poly and oysters for him – if I wouldn’t mind; please and thank you!

I bally well did mind – it was much to be regretted!

I don’t think I’m going too far, when I say that this whole episode just about took the giddy aunt!

And when I attempted a clarification – more for his sake than mine – dashed if he hadn’t proceeded to critique my method of eating artichokes!

The strongest condemnation does not suffice. The code of we Britons is rigid on certain points, such as this, for good cause”.

Give dangerous and divisive elements the very pabulum they need to flourish, and they will agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens: seeking to divide and dominate the rest, with the conducive mumbo-jumbo which the ignorant and the ill-informed are apt to trust.

All credit to the Right Hon. John Doe for having had the insight to perceive that – and the courage to say that that’s that; before all the unpleasantness in Miami, at any rate – the demise that never was, and so forth; which has detracted from the general thrust of his purpose, somewhat.

Nevertheless, rules and procedures exist for a reason; and where I am concerned, reason is wholly absent.

I have been assured by a very knowing Roman of my acquaintance in London, that my sense of foreboding is well founded.

Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber tributating into the River Thames.

As he had the good grace to explain: thy brim multi spumante sanguinary cernobbio” – which, if my Latin remains serviceable, means “you can’t possibly hope to make an egg, without breaking a few omelettes”.

The kindest thing that can be said about those who propose and express support for this sort of palaver, is that they know not what they say.

Having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject during the past week – and maturely weighed the plots and schemes of my rivals – I have found them to be grossly mistaken in their computation.

One tries to be tactful, of course; but one is simply swimming against the tide. Indeed, it has all but foundered.

In numerical terms, it will be of Biblical proportions – long before the end of the century has begun.

Following discreet calculations, I have reckoned it at no fewer than one million and a half migrants, per native Briton.

Of these, I calculate there may be about several hundred or thousand additional foreign souls – from which number I add countless few score (times two, because coupled in wedlock); and this being granted, there will be a very great additional grievance of no less than a fair few dependents, defendit numerus

If we then round this figure up by four dozen and seven threes, we will arrive at the precise sum of half a migrant – plus a million or so – for every British indigenée in the land.

I assure you, I have worked this out parsimoniously.

Only resolute and urgent action in the future will avert this prospect in the present.

Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know; all I do know is that the public will not cease to demand this action, until it has been obtained.

For my own part, I have no personal interest at stake, in lending my endeavors to this necessary task – indeed, I hold no motive beyond satisfying the public good of my country.

It would merely undermine the public’s confidence in its statesmen, were they to believe otherwise.

 

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How to write uninteresting and uncomplicated male characters in fiction – a sort of guide.

I am often asked how I manage to create so many uninteresting male characters when writing fiction.

It’s something which comes naturally to me, so I’ve never really given the matter much thought. In fact, I can’t recall ever spending any time thinking about the craft of writing at all, until now.

Nonetheless, a very learned friend of mine – who is by trade an author of literary fiction (and has won several prizes) – cajoled me into a spot of edification.

According to her, there is simply no shortage of female characters who feature in classics of modern prose, as decidedly uninspired constructs.

By contrast, their male counterparts tend to be depicted as complex and highly absorbing. “Convincing portrayals of real human beings”, as she put it.

My acquaintance wondered if I might be willing to help tip the balance, therefore; by demonstrating – on this very page – how easy it is to achieve an unemphatic characterization of fictitious men.

As a favour to her, I am only too happy to oblige.

Rather than spend a lot of time and effort pondering the ins and outs of characterization, however, I considered it best to simply provide clear examples of this material in action.

Perhaps the following excerpts can be regarded as a portrait gallery, of sorts.

*

“Maurice sauntered over to the bar – musky and tenacious – lifting his trouser leg; and slowly revealing a be-socked ankle.

His chin stuck out straight and true; the figure-hugging wrist-watch he wore glinted tantalizingly in the reflection of a light, or some such; which was shining from somewhere.

I could see the details of his credit card, impressing themselves against the taut cloth of his fibrous jacket pocket. His little flanks looked delicious”.

 

*

“Boris stood lordly above the shrimp and persimmon sandwich – his lips mouthed the word ‘caution’; but his stomach grumbled ‘proceed’. His gamey man-bosom was concealed only by the tweed jacket he always wore to the less welcome funerals.

Also the shirt underneath it, which was tight enough to both lift and separate, becomingly. His earlobes were plump and firm – imbued with the type of inherent nobility, which only centuries of inbreeding among the aristocracy can truly guarantee”.

 

*

“I am the little gopher – who enjoys a bit of the old how’s-your-father. Hear me squeek!” he whispered softly. “Yes” I replied.

“Has anybody ever lost their virginity to the ravishings of an especially virile male gopher?” he intoned. “Other than a female gopher?” I asked, uncertain. He smelled like a wax crayon.

I mimed the act of stroking his imaginary tail, mulling over the possible motives why some mammals have prehensile appendages – while others do not.

Romance with a gopher, who had faintly prominent pectorals, was a particularly specialized fantasy come true”.

 

*

“I could not help but notice his serene, manly handsomeness – the proud regard with which he seemed to hold his eyebrows, his hips; and his legs – crossed fetchingly at the ankles.

He then slammed the ammo cartridge into place. ‘Lock and load!’ he cried, with a sultry flick of the eyelashes.

The eight-man SAS patrol approached the compound, with their svelte frames enshrouded in immaculate uniforms”.

 

*

“Colin Burn ambled testicularly towards the buffet cart. While his loins were cold and damp as yesterday’s muesli – they had entered the room before the rest of his body; due to implacable laws of nature.

This symbolic happenstance was further enhanced by the fact that his long forgotten hairline revealed a lustrous and slightly pinkish-grey forehead.

His jowls had always been shapely – but now they were glowing with phlebitis; while the regal bearing of his buttocks was a sight to behold. Even if he did say so himself.

‘If only I could find an outfit to match’ he pondered silently; as the crest of his ample, poignant man-bosom heaved above the vest which clung to him – like a shipwrecked sailor, grasping at rocks in a swelling tide of some kind”.

*

 

“Following the divorce, Bailey had undergone plastic surgery in one or two key areas – and remodeled his body by doing lots of press-ups. His beautiful brown eyebrows had remained constant throughout.

He was now lying on his bed, in the halls of Residence – with his bare elbows exposed – when his fellow mature-student of archaeology, Sheila, knocked at the door.

She had come to help him with his dissertation.

The door opened – and there he stood: his generously proportioned biceps moved freely, as he twisted the door handle, nervously. His taut, rippling knees were simply bewitching.

Bailey’s voluminous derriere had always prompted remark, whenever a female gaze rested upon it. He now turned, and led Sheila towards the bed.

They discussed the recovery and analysis of excavation data long into the night”.

*

As you can see, it’s really rather easy to portray male characters in this fashion. So why don’t you encounter them more often in works of fiction?

There are many, many examples of female equivalents depicted this way in countless novels and short stories. It requires no real effort or imagination to write them at all, in fact.

I can only conclude that too many male authors simply regard men as more complex, and profound, than women; and portray them accordingly. Performing a real disservice to themselves and their readers, in the process, I might say.

The Right-Minded View: Tony Blair’s wise words & Article 50’s anniversary.

I, for one, welcome Tony Blair’s wise words today. On the very first anniversary of Article 50, they could not be more timely.

I have had my disagreements with him in the past – for instance, his choice of tie has occasionally been less than sober.

I was even slightly inconvenienced by the Iraq war – as one of the protests against it caused traffic delays; which resulted in me being more than an hour late in getting home.

Nonetheless, even I have managed to overcome the fact that I agree with Blair about everything, and recognise him as the most principled man in politics: due to his staunch and unwavering opposition to something that I also happen to dislike.

In fact, I genuinely don’t get why people disfavour Blair.

So far as I can see it, his only “crime” was to undertake a humanitarian intervention; which made creative interpretation of the law – and imaginative deployment of rhetoric.

What’s so wrong about all of that? That sort of thing used to be taught in the better universities, as part of a young gentleman’s upbringing. Prizes were given.

And the way people carry on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that his post-PM role, running PR campaigns on behalf of dictators, was unsavoury.

The fact that Blair has managed to keep himself busy, while commanding high fees, strikes me as a true measure of the man’s qualities, I say.

I mean, he opposes Brexit – surely that more than makes up for everything else, anyway?

The Right-Minded View: I, and the people who agree with me, are very sensible.

We all know that Jeremy Corbyn is personally responsible for everything that people who occupy the sensible centre ground of politics currently dislike.

True, the Conservative Party decided to conduct the Brexit referendum – and were aided and abetted by Sensible Moderate Labour MPs, who all supported their call to have one; and arguably helped lay the rhetorical groundwork for the Leave campaign.

Therefore, clearly, Corbyn is the one to blame.

As for the shocking revelations that Corbyn once expressed a vague bit of support for an iffy mural half a decade ago – well, it simply takes the biscuit.

This isn’t like sending vans around BAME neighbourhoods, telling foreign people to go home – or deploying derogatory terms while discussing woodpiles in Parliament.

And it certainly isn’t on a par with using colourful language about People of Colour, before assuming the mantle of Foreign Secretary.

Oh no – even famed anti-racism campaigners, such as Nigel Farage and Norman Tebbit have seen fit to vent spleen at Corbyn. They can see that this sort of thing isn’t cricket.

Meanwhile long-standing advocates of religious tolerance, such as Iain Paisley Jr, have taken the very brave, and very principled stance of confronting the shortcomings of their political opponents.

Quite rightly too, I say.

And let us reserve our fullest condemnation for Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to condemn Vladimir Putin.

All we ask is that Corbyn utter a simple condemnation – no more, no less. We all know it would suffice.

Now, admittedly Corbyn did condemn Putin – but it’s not enough to simply utter condemnation, is it now? We all know it doesn’t suffice.

If only a Sensible Moderate Labour MP was in charge of their party right now – they could make good use of all the competence, and long-term thinking, which the strategic masterminds behind the Ed Stone are renowned for.

Neither Mear One’s mural, nor Jeremy Corbyn are anti-Semitic – but sometimes satire goes wrong.

You may have read various articles about the furore surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s expression of support for a supposedly anti-Semitic mural.

The artwork in question was called False Profits, and it was created by an artist called Mear One. Here is the screenshot, as it appears on the Guido Fawkes website:

Scary stuff, no? A cabal of men, with a Freemason symbol behind them? I mean that’s straight out the annals of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, right?

Well, no.

To put it succinctly, the mural is not an anti-Semitic image. It is a critique of capitalists, exploiting workers.

However, it is problematic – and there is a valid criticism which can be made of both the artist and to some extent Corbyn; but it’s not the one that anyone seems to be making.

People have got the wrong idea about this mural – but that’s the point at issue here. It is wide open to misinterpretation – the imagery is very easily misconstrued; and so there’s a need to think more carefully about how something impacts on an audience.

Let’s go through the themes of the mural first of all.

In 2012, the artist uploaded a video to Youtube which describes the point he was trying to make:

“I came to paint a mural that depicted the elite banking cartel known as the Rothschilds, Rockerfellers, Morgans – the ruling class elite view, the Wizards of Oz; they would be playing a board game of Monopoly on the backs of the working class”.

Well, any reference to the Rothschilds is always liable to make people slightly uncomfortable – because they were frequently cited by actual anti-Semitic demagogues.

But the Rockerfellers and the Morgans are not Jewish. Instead, as Mear One says, what they have in common is that they are families synonymous with capital.

That this was the point of the mural is evident from simply looking at the full picture, rather than the cropped version:

Look at the hooded lad on the left-hand side, with his sign about the New World Order. Then at the gaunt mother on the right edge – the machine cogs, the polluting factories in the background. The Monopoly game on the backs of faceless men, doubled over.

This is not high art – if anything, it’s a fairly gauche purview on capitalism.

But what about the pyramid in the background? I mean, that’s a bit of an odd symbol, surely? Where might you have seen it before?

On US currency bills:

Let’s not have any laurel-resting, though. Mear One presumably included this symbol in his painting, in order to illustrate the theme of US capital.

So what actually is it, originally? What does the motto “novus ordo seclorum” mean?

The unfinished Pyramid is the Great Seal of the United States. Contrary to the mural’s suggestion, though, “novus ordo seclorum”does not mean New World Order – it means “new order of the ages”.

It was intended to signify a vision for the future, following the establishment of the United States, and the Declaration Of Independence.

Needless to say, regardless of whether you share the artist’s viewpoint, this is all mundane enough.

It is tempting therefore – and maybe even justifiable – to dismiss this incident out of hand, as nothing more than a misunderstanding; but if you’ve read this far, you will have surmised that it takes a fair bit of research to understand the artist’s point.

This was a mural, for people to walk past in the street – and it is a picture which is easily misunderstood. Indeed, it has been by a number of people; and has resulted in Corbyn issuing an apology.

This ease of misinterpretation does matter.

In fact, the same week that histrionics erupted over this mural, a similar incident made the news – namely a Scottish comedian using anti-Semitic language, while making parodies of Nazism; through the medium of pug.

It resulted in a boorish diatribe from another comedian, defending the jokes on the basis of free-expression.

That is, it received the exact opposite response to the censure which Mear One’s anti-capitalist mural prompted: namely, defending the use of anti-Semitic language in a joke; as opposed to denouncing a mural, because it bears a faint resemblance to anti-Semitic images.

There is an obvious cynicism to some of the reactions to both of these instances – but they don’t need to be given ground, in order to address the problem here properly.

The few-ish people who visit this site will have gathered that I tend to write a lot of parodies. Some of these involve lampooning xenophobia – including the genteel form it can take, at times. And in one case, a short play satirizing anti-Semitism.

Whether you care to take my word for it or not is entirely at your discretion, but I would say that it is not necessary to use racist words in order satirize racism. Quite the opposite. Not least of all because it simply ends up being unfunny if you do.

Did Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator see a comedian using the same language as Hitler? No – what it did instead was depict a crackpot ranting away about total nonsense; so that when people watched Hitler doing much the same thing, they saw him for what he actually was.

If Chaplin can manage to make fun of somebody like Hitler, without being hurtful towards the people persecuted by the Third Reich, then I am sure anyone else can manage it about his tinpot derivatives in the present day.

It is a problem when people do use derogatory language, even in jest – and especially with satire, because it is usually intended to be subtle; and the point being made is not always immediately clear. It is often purposely ambiguous, in fact; and it frequently does result in something being misunderstood.

If you want illustrative examples of this, look no further than Charlie Hebdo cartoons – be it their picture of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram:

Or their image of Aylan Kurdi, depicted as an adult assaulting women:

Shockingly callous, right?

No. People looked at these images, and saw them as racist caricatures; when they were not.

But that is the fault of the cartoonists, and no-one else. If satire requires an extensive background knowledge of context, in order to get the point being made, then it is weak.

The French public were outraged at the kidnapping of Nigerian girls – while supporting the misogynistic policies of their own government, aimed at single mothers living on low incomes in France.

The European public were horrified when an infant refugee drowned, trying to reach safety from war. They reacted with hysteria to sketchy reports of refugees sexually assaulting women in Cologne.

It was the double standards of these attitudes which the Hebdo cartoonists were depicting – and they evidently made a hash of it.

It happens – I don’t write satire in order to be cruel towards people; but to demonstrate how silly something affecting them is. To show it up for the nonsense it amounts to – and sometimes it goes wrong.

It isn’t really good enough to simply say ‘I can do what I like, because free speech’ – or to pretend that everyone else is stupid. It necessitates a bit of self-criticism; and maybe in some cases an apology.

Or at least a clarification, which rests on the basis that somebody else’s misperception arose off the back of your ineptitude.

What you say matters, because it can hurt people – however unintentionally. How you choose to depict something will have an impact, for better or worse, on any audience it receives.

This is the actual problem with Mear One’s mural – a lack of thought, about how someone else might see it; and an unwillingness to accept that it was ineffectual as satire.

It’s the same faultiness behind the Hebdo cartoons, and the pug jokes – and probably also some of the less successful pieces I have written.

This is not about free-expression – it is about using your brain properly; and accepting that sometimes, you cock things up.

Now let’s never speak of my ineptitude again.

The Right-Minded View: Cold War – Part Deux. This time, it’s personal.

As far this whole Russian brouhaha goes – there’s a time and place to talk about politics. That time is never; and that place is nowhere.

I mean, do we really want the Houses of Parliament to be politicized?

It is not the job of the Opposition to actually oppose the government, after all – merely to support the way it is going about things; and perhaps pledge to go one better.

It comes as a matter of no small surprise, therefore, that the leader of the Opposition balks at the suggestion we must place our absolute trust in the proper authorities.

It’s people like that who allow the facts get in the way of a good story.

Even steadfast supporters of Jeremy Corbyn – such as commentators in the tabloid newspapers – have called this poor form; while, his unfailingly loyal backbenchers have seen fit to complain about him, for the first time ever.

By contrast, the fine response by many opposition MPs was a truly glorious sight to behold. There are times where the national interest comes first. The enemy in the Salisbury spy attack is Russia, not the government.

It’s not hard.

It’s called doing what’s right by this country’s proud history and traditions.

In fact, the real mystery is why such individuals have ended up as pariahs among their own voters. Scrambling obediently into line behind a Tory Prime Minster, purely to embarrass their own party’s leader? That’s such stuff as statesmanlike dreams are made of, I say.

True, Corbyn did condemn Russia and Putin – repeatedly; over a variety of formats. But it’s just not enough.

And while we received a very sober and dignified call to see evidence, before acting, from the French President Emmanuel Macron; Corbyn villainously asked to see evidence before acting – for reasons of pure evil.

What kind of irresponsible politician asks for an investigation to take place, instead of instantly rushing to conclusions?

What kind of leader stands by due process, instead of immediately bowing to political expedience; and following the crowd?

Oh, Corbyn might have called for asset-freezing injunctions; but what about REAL measures – such as, you know, strong words in Parliament? Macho posturing, bombast, saber-rattling – full of sound and fury. That sort of thing.

As ever, it fell to the electable members of the Labour Party, to set a solid example, for all to admire. Penning a good, stiff letter, thus:

“We, the undersigned, welcome this bout of hot air from a desperate Prime Minister trying stoke and exploit a major panic, in order to deflect attention from the appalling mess her government has made of – well, everything; by wrapping herself in an aura of faux patriotism”.

And if the most principled opportunists in Parliament are willing to place blind faith in the government, then it is not for the likes of you and me to question matters.

As for those wags mentioning the Light Brigade, or the whole Iraq jolly – well, it simply lacks taste.

If anything, it inclines one to re-evaluate who the real victims of that excellent war actually were.

I would wager that politicians whose judgment is questioned, instead of automatically deferred to, have suffered far more than the many thousands of people they helped liberate to death.

And let us have no more of this false-equivalence malarkey.

While Britain would surgically launch a drone strike at a wedding party, Russia instead deploys an indiscriminate nerve agent – which makes no distinction between combatant and civilian. A clear difference, between the two countries.

Our mistakes are made in good faith – and we learn all the correct lessons; no matter how many times it should prove necessary.

All told, it is overdue that we stopped politicizing the behaviour of politicians; and furthermore, Russia really should just shut up, and go away.

The Right-Minded View: on the new offence of intimidating one’s social and political betters.

It is about time that a government law was introduced, putting a stop to intimidation in public discourse.

Nobody abhors the nanny state more than I – but this is one area where a clampdown is long over due. And pronto.

Members of the common herd calling politicians “war criminals” – just because they initiated illegal wars. Or saying that their elected representatives are “incompetent”, and their policies “ill-conceived”. It all goes too far.

There was none of this online thuggery when I was a lad. Admittedly, the internet didn’t exist back then – but that is largely beside the point at hand.

I worry that our public debate is coarsening into a feral free for all. And also that political correctness means we can no longer say what we wish, without being tutted at.

I’ll have you know that it is quite possible to disagree with somebody, without demeaning them on account of opposing viewpoints. Through engaging in childish name-calling, for example.

If only the members of generation snowflake would take that on board.

But instead, what do we see? Braying mobs of young folk hurting peoples’ feelings; using rude words – and making them upset.

Likening grown men to gammon. Throwing cornflakes at cafes. Disagreeing with their social betters on the internet!

Not to mention radical students censoring panto; and militant statistics-watchdogs censuring government ministers.

Well, it’s not on. The decent among us shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of thing.

Thank God we have a sensible government, I say. One which will put a stop to PC palaver; and allow us to voice our robust opinions freely, once again.

And arrest anyone who makes disrespectful comments about us, in the process.

The Right-Minded View: defeating fascism in the marketplace of ideas.

To put it mildly, I am appalled that some people are determined to close down free-expression, and alternative views, in this day and age.

From what I gather, a certain politician encountered a certain amount of protest – while delivering a speech about the merits of ethnic self-interest, on a campus somewhere.

Well it simply goes too far. But then I’m afraid that’s the nature of the hard-left for you.

In fact, it all brings to mind the notorious Scuffle Of Cable Street – where Oswald Moseley’s Legitimate Concernsmen were no-platformed by the PC Brigade.

Those in attendance may not have agreed with what Sir M. had to say; but refusing to listen to his argument, and then argue against that argument with a better argument, merely degraded an otherwise perfectly civil debate about which groups were no longer welcome in British society.

You may have disagreed with Moseley’s politics; but saying he was not a good man perhaps hurt his feelings. Did you stop to think about that?

This is merely one of many historical precedents, of course; and in my view, fascism can be overcome without any of this indecorous protesting malarkey – simply by defeating it in the marketplace of ideas.

For example, instead of launching a violent uprising against local authorities, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto should’ve taken the more civil approach of constructive engagement. Calm leafleting, for example.

Or better yet, they may have sought to occupy the moral high ground – through peaceful engagement, and asking respectful questions of their opponents.

What’s more, when the Soviets swept into Berlin during the onset of 1945, they didn’t deploy force of arms to achieve their ends. Oh no. Instead they engaged Wehrmacht officers in robust debate – leading to a full and frank exchange of views.

What they realised was really quite straightforward. Namely, that smashed windows – and broken rules – will always lead to raised eyebrows.

Consequently, the best way to bring about the Third Reich’s demise, was by praising moderate stormtroopers – encouraging them to do the right thing.

Accordingly, they all lived very sensibly ever after.

And say what you like about the Nazis, but at least they didn’t go around calling people rude names on the internet. Not if the historical records are anything to judge by, at any rate.

Besides, things have changed a bit since the 1930’s and 40’s, haven’t they? So why not give Moderate Fascists another shot at government? Where’s the harm?

Fingers Crossed, they won’t begin erecting concentration camps and all that palaver, once again.

The Right-Minded View: Men evolved to protect the boundaries of tribes, Feminism precedes the fall of empires – a commonsense approach to sexual politics.

Call me old-fashioned if you will, but from where I’m standing so much of what passes for feminism these days is not feminism per se, as I see it; but – instead – an unabashed attempt to achieve socio-economic parity for women in all walks of life.

This is of course not unreasonable; but anyone with a pair of ears can see that it is not enough. I think we have to look at this in context.

I simply cannot remember the last time I read an article about genuine areas of concern for women – such as the most efficient arrangements of potpourri; or the best way to find a husband.

As for so-called ‘sexual equality’ – I have an acquaintance who is very knowledgeable about such things; and according to him it is entirely unnecessary in this day and age.

For example, women don’t need equal pay legislation – as they can simply work additional hours, until they have earned as much as their male colleagues.

What’s more, rather than worry unduly about reproductive rights, they might simply embrace a lifetime of celibacy instead.

There is no need for educational opportunities either, he reckons. Should a woman need help with anything complex, she may simply request assistance from any passing gentleman that happens to be in the vicinity; who – being a fellow of gentility – will graciously grant it forthwith.

I feel that little more remains to be said on this subject, quite frankly; save to note that sexual equality is perhaps a matter best discussed between a woman and her doctor.

Brexit was the result of a corporate lobbying campaign, which backfired. What did the people behind it really want?

Vote Leave poster for the EU referendum, 2016.

 

Introduction

The campaign for Brexit was conducted by a network of lobbying organisations; but it was underscored by an extensive campaign, which had been pursued through Parliament and the media, over the course of many years.

This ultimately lead to the referendum on EU membership, of 23rd June 2016; and it resulted in a vote for Britain to withdraw from the European Union.

On the surface, therefore, it would appear to have triumphed. Yet, despite their claims, the aim of many Brexit-campaigners was almost certainly not for Britain to depart the European Union.

Instead, their initial ambition had been to transform the EU itself into a deregulated free-trade zone; which would suit the commercial interests of certain British and American businesses, who were funding their efforts.

When this failed, they attempted to reform the UK’s relationship with the European Union; with the aim of receiving leeway to curtail the EU’s financial, environmental, and employment regulations within Britain.

The overriding ambition was to withdraw Britain from the European social model – and transform it into a US-style society; featuring minimal taxes – and maximum profits – for transnational corporations.

They also wanted to gain the flexibility to grant the City of London’s financial sector freedom to exploit overseas markets – particularly in developing countries.

However, rather than being left in a strong position to make demands of the European Union, the referendum result has placed the British government in a weak and uncertain one.

The consequences of this are liable to prove damaging to the United Kingdom, economically; while creating a series of constitutional, political, and legislative dilemmas.

So who was conducting this campaign? Whose interests were they serving?

 

‘Euroscepticism’ – Business for Britain 

A previous lobbying effort makes plain what the intentions behind the Brexit campaign really amounted to. It is highly revealing about the nature of corporate lobbying, and the extent to which it has corrupted British politics.

In 2013, a group called Business For Britain published a letter in several media outlets, signed by 500 professed business-leaders; which demanded a set of reforms to the European Union, in order to better serve their own interests.

The full text of the letter claimed that:

“As business leaders and entrepreneurs responsible for millions of British jobs, we believe that the Government is right to seek a new deal for the EU and for the UK’s role in Europe.

We believe that, far from being a threat to our economic interests, a flexible, competitive Europe, with more powers devolved from Brussels, is essential for growth, jobs and access to markets.

We therefore urge all political parties to join in committing themselves to a national drive to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU.”

It is significant that these people were not demanding Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union at this juncture – instead, they were pressing for the EU to be reformed, in the interests of British businesses.

What this would have amounted to was a more profitable arrangement for themselves. As noted in the BBC article which reported on this letter: “employment law was the number one area they wanted opt outs from”.

In 2016, Business for Britain reconstituted itself as Brexit Central: the working group for the individuals at the forefront of the Vote Leave campaign; many of whom had been involved in the Taxpayers’ Alliance lobby group.

Business for Britain was quite open about this lineage; noting on its website that the group was “launched in 2013 and formed the basis for Vote Leave, which won the EU referendum on the 23rd June 2016”.

There is evidently more to this matter than meets the eye, however – not least of all because one of the individuals who signed Business for Britain’s letter was Stuart Rose; who was appointed the Campaign Chair of Britain Stronger In Europe, which campaigned to remain in the European Union, on 12th October 2015.

Needless to say, it is highly incongruous that people involved in the same lobbying effort, on the same theme, would subsequently take converse sides in a referendum on the issue of EU membership.

In fact, the motivation at work here was reaffirmed by other signatories of the Business for Britain letter. For example, the group’s chairman – Alan Halsall – was quoted in a City AM piece, stating:

“Business for Britain has been formed because many would have you believe that business doesn’t want politicians to try and renegotiate a better deal from Europe”.

This is what the group were pressing for in 2013 – not Brexit, but “a better deal” [1].

The head of Business For Britain was Matthew Elliott, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance; who would also lead the Vote Leave campaign, during the referendum itself.

Elliott proposed leaving the EU on 14th August 2015 – yet only two months beforehand, on 3rd June 2015, he was pressing the case for reform of the European Union; rather than Britain’s withdrawal from it.

The reforms he was lobbying for were outlined as “ten changes” on 3rd February 2015. These included demands to “return control over social & employment laws” to Britain. To “cut the EU budget to save taxpayers’ money”, and “protect the City and financial services”; as well as “fast track international trade deals”. At this point, there was no reference to leaving the European Union.

Instead, Elliott was demanding that Britain’s government “hold a referendum on the results of any future renegotiation”; as this “offers the best prospect of securing the far-reaching change backed by a majority of voters and business leaders”. Significantly, Business for Britain published a pamphlet on the issue at this stage, entitled ‘The Change We Need‘.

Elliott reiterated the objectives he was lobbying for, in his Telegraph article of 3rd June 2015 – in particular “returning power over social and employment law to the UK and a complete British opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

He also alluded to Boris Johnson, who had “called for radical reform or abolition of the Common Agricultural Policy, along with a British opt-out from the Common Fisheries Policy”.

Again, the article provides a link to Business for Britain’s ‘The Change We Need’ document; which featured additional proposals from Boris Johnson, demanding that Britain “scrap EU social and environmental legislation”.

At this point, Elliott had begun to intimate at the possibility of favouring Brexit if these reforms were not attained:

“what if we cannot secure the change we need? On this issue, the Prime Minister has been equally clear, having said that he would ‘rule nothing out’ if his renegotiation aims are not met”.

This had changed by 22nd June 2015, however; when Elliott suggested in a more straightforward manner that either the European Union reforms itself to suit Britain, or Britain should leave the EU.

Notably, by this point Business For Britain’s tract had turned from ‘The Change We Need’ into ‘Change Or Go‘. A remarkable transformation of opinion, in the space of 3 weeks.

Likewise, as reported by the BBC in November 2015, David Cameron issued his demand for ‘reforms’ to the EU. Yet these were announced to much chagrin from ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservative MPs; who were apparently underwhelmed by their scope.

It is noteworthy that this BBC article features a comment from Vote Leave’s campaign director, Dominic Cummings; already opining that:

“the public wants the end of the supremacy of EU law and to take back control of our economy, our borders, and our democracy…the only way to do this is to vote leave”.

On 3rd December 2015, Cameron’s demands remained unmet; and it was announced that no reforms were liable to occur before February 2016.

In between, on the 8th December 2015, Elliott openly called for Britain to leave the EU:

“If you want to take back control from the EU and stop sending £50million each day to Brussels and spend it instead on our priorities such as the NHS, now is the time to stand up and be counted.

If you want your children to live in a more democratic and prosperous country, then join our campaign to leave the EU”.

This was two months in advance of the expected date for a reformed treaty, which he had previously encouraged his peers to await patiently.

As a testament to how false his case was, Elliott complained that:

“the leaders of all the main political parties, big business groups such as the CBI and the establishment Britain Stronger in Europe (BSiE) campaign have huge resources at their disposal”.

Furthermore, that:

“big multinational businesses do well out of the EU because they have armies of well-paid lobbyists who help them stitch up the rules in Brussels to favour them at the expense of smaller, growing companies”

This is true enough – but their counterparts are lobbyists such as Elliott himself, of course; whose interest in this issue revolved entirely around changing the “rules in Brussels” to suit the profiteering of his backers: foremost among them were executives of large companies.

In fact, this was a markedly hypocritical claim for Elliott to make, given the fact that his Brexit campaign was nothing more than a lobbying effort on behalf of “big multinational businesses”.

This was also evinced in Business For Britain’s letter from 2014, which purported to speak on behalf of “business leaders and entrepreneurs responsible for millions of British jobs”.

Moreover, Elliott had written a piece in 2014, on the Conservative Home website – bemoaning the introduction of EU regulations to the City Of London’s financial district; which is dominated by multinational banks.

It is possible that Elliott, and Business For Britain’s key personnel, had changed their minds in this short space of time – and genuinely favoured Brexit; but this is unlikely in light of spending years continuously pressing for reforms to the EU, rather than an end to UK membership.

More to the point, if they genuinely thought Britain would be better off outside the EU, why not simply make that point from the outset?

It cannot even be claimed that Business For Britain altered their position in light of David Cameron’s failure to secure the reforms they desired – as both Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott had begun to voice their demand for Brexit before February 2016; which was the point when Cameron’s failure had become clear.

Elliott’s demand for Britain to leave the EU, regardless of any reforms, was repeated in March 2016. So, either his views had evolved markedly in the course of half a year; or he simply changed his tune to suit the same purpose.

In reality, of course, his commitments hadn’t changed at all: for him, the referendum was the means to an end, sure enough – but for reforming the EU to Britain’s advantage, not leaving it.

He had made this plain on at least two occasions via The Spectator during 2014 – in January and September, respectively. It was in the second of these articles that Elliott made explicit what his agenda actually amounted to here:

“Only a referendum can deliver a better deal and they know it. Try telling Scotland you don’t get anything back if people think you are serious about the alternative to membership of a political union”.

The aim was a “renegotiation backed up by an EU referendum”; which would be “our best hope of securing a better deal for the UK”. The referendum, therefore, was an attempt at extorting the EU.

More indicative still of the duplicity at work here, Business For Britain had published a far lengthier version of their ‘Change Or Go’ Pamphlet, funded – significantly enough – by the Telegraph Media Group. This 1,000 page document outlined what Business For Britain actually wanted [2].

Its core aim was for the European Union to dispense with social protections and employment laws; and allow Britain to be transformed into a free-market zone.

Business For Britain complained that “the EU increased its remit beyond the narrow needs of a purely common market into “the social dimension of Europe many years ago” (p. 199); before proposing that “any satisfactory renegotiation would have to see the UK, once again, exempt from the Social Chapter” (p. 200).

This document was published in July 2015. It was accompanied by a series of articles published by Business For Britain in the Telegraph, at the same juncture.

This booklet and media campaign had evidently seen a great deal of effort and funding devoted to its creation. It will therefore have had a serious purpose in mind – one which cannot reasonably be expected to undergo a wholesale change in the space of a few weeks.

Not only did it feature an editorial board, but a secretariat; and a panel of “outside experts”. It even provides a page of acknowledgements, thanking more than a score of individuals and groups for their input.

This included the Politics and Economics Research Trust (an affiliate of Mathew Elliott’s group, the Taxpayers’ Alliance); whose funding of this very document was subsequently investigated by the Charity Commission, and adjudged to have breached grant-application rules.

It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that far from wanting Britain to leave the EU, Elliott and his peers had instead desired the prospect of Brexit to result in the EU granting Britain concessions on employment laws, business regulations, and social protections.

In fact, Change Or Go made this explicit, when it evaluates the prospects of attaining a more favorable arrangement for Britain, via a “‘blackmail’ threat to leave should only inadequate terms be offered by the other EU members” (p. 221-22).

Moreover, Elliott’s predecessor at Business for Britain, was Dylan Sharpe – a former affiliate of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and Boris Johnson; who had published an article in the Huffington Post, on 17th January 2014.

Sharpe stated plainly that “Business for Britain doesn’t want to leave the EU, but we do want some simple and achievable changes made that would help businesses to compete” [3].

 

Open Europe And ‘Euroscepticism’

This same agenda can be seen in the lobbying campaigns of Open Europe; as can the level of access that lobbyists of this persuasion have to Parliament, and to high-placed politicians.

Like Business For Britain’s initial output, Open Europe did not call for Britain to leave the EU. Instead, they wanted the European Union to be transformed into a deregulated free-trade zone.

They lobbied specifically for “radical reform based on economic liberalisation, a looser and more flexible structure, and greater transparency and accountability”. This was announced in a press release published on 20th October 2005 [4].

However, in November 2011, the Research Director of Open Europe – Stephen Booth – published a piece on Conservative Home; which indicates that the organisation’s priority had changed slightly, into a demand for Britain to be granted these reforms – seemingly with a view to it precipitating change throughout the European Union.

As with Business For Britain, Open Europe demanded that the UK’s government begin: “repatriating EU powers over areas such as social policy or financial services”, along with “an EU Treaty change and negotiation”.

However, they also called for  “a comprehensive plan to get powers back from the EU as part of the long-term political settlement to reshape Europe”. The same month, Stephen Booth had published a longer treatise on this issue; which even considered what the UK could do in the absence of an EU agreement to these demands.

Booth’s answer was not for Britain to leave the EU, but for its Parliament to simply ignore EU rulings – on the fairly ill-defined basis that there would be a measure of political conflict with other EU countries; but that this would eventually be resolved in Britain’s favour.

Also in 2011, Open Europe published another briefing document entitled ‘The Case For European Localism‘ – written by Anthony Browne, and Mats Perrson; outlining their overall objective: “the end game is likely to be that the UK should lead the formation of a ‘localism bloc’ of EU countries dedicated to pushing localism”.

They were not advocating Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, however – as they stated:

“while pursuing a European localism strategy, Britain should make clear that it has no desire to leave the EU in the short-term”.

What they wanted instead was a reformation of the EU itself, in Britain’s favour. “Localism” evidently amounted to deregulation of the European Union; with Britain being able to opt-out of social policy.

This goal remained in place, as recently as October 2015. Open Europe were not as upfront about intending to use the referendum to coerce favourable reforms from the EU, the way Business for Britain had been.

Nonetheless, it could not be clearer that this was their aim; as they expressly called for “change in Europe – a substantially better deal both for the UK and EU”; and viewed the referendum itself as “an absolutely unique and massively important opportunity to reform the EU”.

That they saw the referendum as the means to this end was reaffirmed when they noted:

“the biggest risk is that an early vote would leave too little time for sweeping EU reform to be negotiated, potentially wasting a huge opportunity”.

This point had been made less emphatically in an earlier piece published by Open Europe, during February 2015; which contended that an early referendum would “limit the time the Government has to push for EU reform”.

It is therefore clear that Open Europe were not lobbying for Brexit – at least, not at this juncture. As with Business For Britain, they wanted the EU referendum to result in a transformation of the European Union; and for UK businesses to gain even greater advantages than they already enjoyed, as a consequence.

In fact, during this time-frame, Open Europe opposed leaving the EU – on the grounds that it would impede trade. This was outlined in a briefing published during 2012. While evaluating “existing alternatives to EU membership”, Open Europe noted that:

“from purely a trade perspective, these options all come with major drawbacks and EU membership remains the best option for the UK”.

What Open Europe wanted at this point was for the UK to:

“remain a full member of the single market in goods and services and of the EU’s customs union, but take a ‘pick and mix’ approach in other areas of EU policy.”

By 2017, however, Open Europe had drastically altered their position; and suggested that the UK should not only leave the EU, but the customs union as well – to ensure it is free to “strike the best global trade deals”.

That is, Britain should pursue what Open Europe had called “the ‘WTO option’”. They reaffirmed their demand a month later. Yet in their report from 2012, they had advised against this; as it would “see some exports facing relatively high tariffs (i.e. 10% on car exports) and market access for services would be limited” – thereby proving economically damaging.

Needless to say, the fundamental reality of EU membership and trade had not changed during these five years. So why had Open Europe lurched from expressing reservations about the merits of leaving the EU – to demanding the most extreme version of Brexit? The answer lies in the interests it was intended to serve.

 

Fresh Start and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform

Open Europe’s reports became the basis of policy for a coterie of Conservative Members of Parliament, called the Fresh Start Project.

This had been co-founded by the Tory MP, Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom also helped to set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform, to which Fresh Start was conjoined.

The All-Party group was established in 2011; and it dissolved after the General Election of 2015. Despite its brevity, however, it indicates how lobbying efforts of this kind function.

Leadsom was directly involved with Open Europe; and would later become one of the foremost campaigners for leaving the European Union. This was despite the fact that in 2013, she had suggested that withdrawing from the EU “would be a disaster for our economy and it would lead to a decade of economic and political uncertainty”.

After the EU referendum – and following David Cameron’s resignation – Leadsom contested the Leadership of the Conservative Party; before withdrawing, and being appointed to Theresa May’s cabinet as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

This indicates plainly the high level of Parliamentary access which lobbying groups can enjoy through their affiliations with MPs.

While the nexus at work here was convoluted, its purpose can be identified easily enough. In September 2014, Leadsom was among the speakers at an Open Europe event entitled ‘How to Achieve Sweeping Reform in Europe’. Fresh Start and Open Europe had also hosted a conference together, in January that same year – again, devoted to the subject of EU reform [5].

Leadsom was campaigning for the same objectives as Open Europe, and Business For Britain. This was made plain in a piece she had published on Conservative Home, in February 2013; which stated that:

“The Fresh Start Project, of which I am a co-founder, outlined in its ‘Manifesto for Change’ the powers that we would like to see repatriated to Member States. These include Social and Employment Law, Regional Policy, Fisheries Policy and Energy Policy”.

Furthermore: “the Manifesto also calls for the EU to go further in terms of trade liberalisation, both within and outside of the EU”.

Fresh Start also made their intended audience plain. Their briefing documents were expressly aimed at “Conservative MPs, Peers and MEPs”.

This was outlined in a lengthy report, which they submitted to Parliament in the form of a Green Paper – that is, a preliminary set of proposals; which are published precisely in order to generate discussion at a high level of government.

Some of its content was even included in an official Parliamentary research briefing, created by the House of Commons Library. These are purposely made available to all MPs, and their staff.

Like Open Europe and Business For Britain, Fresh Start wanted the EU to grant Britain liberty to curb:

“the regulation of working hours or the financial markets, centralised environmental policies, the development of common laws in areas such as crime and policing, or spending policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and regional development funds that are financed via the EU budget” (p. 8).

As with their peers, they saw a referendum on EU membership as a means to achieving this outcome:

“Once the plan for reform is complete, then begins a significant renegotiation and this must be followed by a Referendum. The British people must be given their say on whether to remain in the EU with a reformed relationship that gives powers back to the UK, or whether to withdraw from the EU to make our own way in the world” (p. 7)

Evidently, Fresh Start were at least considering the possibility of Brexit at this stage; yet they followed Open Europe in warning against Brexit itself.

As their report noted: “the UK could withdraw from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union” (p. 21); but they noted that this would create severe economic problems for Britain, as “around half of manufactured exports to the EU would face an average tariff of over 5%, with some sectors particularly hard hit” (p. 21).

Fresh Start also adduced that this would have a “significant effect on UK business”, and “make the UK a less attractive location” for foreign direct investment (p. 22). Moreover, “the UK would also lose its influence on framing EU regulation, and it is unlikely to be an option that any UK government would seek” (p. 22).

Perhaps predictably, once the EU referendum was announced, Leadsom began to advocate the exact opposite of what she had spent several years saying. Yet the agenda at work had not altered.

In May 2016, she published an article on Conservative Home. This outlined her rationale for supporting Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union – namely that David Cameron’s efforts at securing reforms on behalf of British businesses had failed; therefore the EU was beyond reform, and must be departed – for the sake of British businesses.

As with Open Europe, in their Green Paper, Fresh Start even considered the merits of Britain’s government engaging in unlawful behaviour as a means of securing favourable concessions from the European Union. That is, to “unilaterally disapply EU social and employment law in the UK, through an Act of Parliament” (p. 122).

As they noted:

“This would be a clear breach of the UK’s EU treaty obligations in international law. Under general international law, the other Member States might be able to suspend obligations they owe to the UK internationally, including but not limited to EU treaty obligations” (p. 122).

They also saw it as a potential means of exaction:

“It could, though, create the conditions to force a meaningful negotiation if other Member States had previously refused to take the UK seriously” (p. 122).

However, up until this point, Fresh Start evidently had not viewed Brexit with any enthusiasm. Instead, their main concern was dismantling the various social protections which EU membership affords to the UK; on behalf of the business concerns whose interests Fresh Start represented.

In fact, Fresh Start were relatively upfront about the type of groups whose behalf they were serving. The list of acknowledgments which appears at the end of their Green Paper  extends gratitude towards a number of organisations for their input; and thanks several members of Open Europe for their “work in drafting this paper” (p. 279).

While the groups who contributed to Fresh Start’s report included several trade unions, a preponderance of their affiliates were corporate lobbying organisations and think-tanks; such as the Tax Payers’ Alliance, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs, Global Vision, and the Adam Smith Institute.

Also featured were the City Of London Corporation – along with various banking groups, such as Barclays, and JP Morgan. Additionally, there was an anti-environmental group called Global Warming Policy Foundation, which had been co-founded by the Conservative peer – Nigel Lawson, in 2009.

 

A network of lobbying organisations

There was an even greater level of co-operation between lobbying organisations than this, however: one which is highly revealing about the network of groups behind the campaign for Brexit – both in terms of the techniques they deployed, and the interests which they were serving.

Open Europe’s various briefings were the underpinning for Fresh Start’s lobbying efforts; while Fresh Start’s proposals would in turn be cited extensively in Business For Britain’s Change or Go booklet (pp. 192-197).

Open Europe were also funded by another lobbying group, called the Institute for Policy Research; which has donated significant sums of money to a number of similar organisations.

These include the Centre for Policy Studies, along with the European Policy Forum; and Eurofacts – a seemingly defunct publisher of fortnightly ‘Eurosceptic’ news briefings. Its editor – Ian Milne – had also been the director of another anti-EU think-tank, called Global Britain. This has received funding from Patrick Barbour, who is a trustee of the think-tank Civitas.

Barbour is also a long-standing financial backer of Ukip, as well as the Taxpayers’ Alliance; and supports another anti-EU think-tank: the aforementioned Global Vision. During the EU referendum campaign, he would donate £500,000 to the Vote Leave campaign.

To return to the starting point here, the Institute for Policy Research has also funded a group called Politeia: a think-tank comprised primarily of Conservative MPs, which lobbies for free-market policies in all areas of public life. Its Westminster Advisory Council includes Michael Gove – who would subsequently be at the forefront of the official Vote Leave campaign.

If this array of think-tanks and donors sounds convoluted, it pales beside the extensive umbrella organisation for ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying outfits, called the Stockholm Network. At its height, the Stockholm Network represented over 120 groups – including many of the aforementioned ones.

So what were these elaborate efforts geared towards? What was their agenda?

 

The Stockholm Network and ‘Euroscepticism’: corporate lobbying in Britain, America, and Europe

The Stockholm Network was created by Helen Disney and Roderick Nye; who had both been involved in the Social Market Foundation – a think-tank, which lobbies for privatisation and deregulation.

Disney was a journalist – whose articles in numerous publications invariably pressed the case for public institutions to be privatised. Nye had formerly been a director of research for the Conservative Party.

The Stockholm Network was itself derived from the public relations firm, Market House International; and drew upon the resources of multiple ‘Eurosceptic’ organisations, to lobby for a “market-orientated reform” of the European Union [6].

As with their peers, the Stockholm Network did not want Britain to leave the European Union. On the contrary, they had actively lobbied Parliament for the European Union to be expanded; as they outlined in a memorandum submitted to a House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, in 2006.

It was in this document, however, that the Stockholm Network outlined their priorities – namely that “if the EU is serious about reaching Europe’s maximum economic potential, it should seek to deregulate individual and business activity”.

They also suggested that the European Union should promote “consumer-driven healthcare” – that is, a healthcare system modeled around free-market profiteering; and deliver “a more flexible labour market”. Or in more honest terms, the EU should dissipate employment rights.

More oblique still was the Stockholm Network’s call for “reforming European energy markets to ensure the most beneficial balance between economic growth and environmental quality”. Needless to say, perhaps, this was not as benign as it sounds.

It was a euphemistic means of calling for EU environmental protections to be discarded in favour of energy companies’ business-interests. It cannot be proven that the Stockholm Network advanced this position after receiving money from the petroleum company, Exxon; which is why suggestions to the contrary will not be made herein.

However, the tangible possibility that the Stockholm Network was lobbying on behalf of such clients is what makes the various groups and donors which supported it particularly significant; especially with regard to the agenda underscoring their campaign for reforming the European Union.

As Helen Disney had herself adduced during an exchange with the Corporate Europe Observatory, financial supporters of the Stockholm Network comprised:

“major funders across a variety of sectors including public affairs firms, venture capitalists, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, trade associations, software companies and the energy sector”.

These were not named, publicly. The various companies Disney lobbied for can be discerned from the Stockholm Network’s annual reports, however, which provide a list of their sponsors.

They include the Cato Institute, Exxon Mobil Corporation, the private healthcare firms Bupa and Nuffield Hospitals – along with the aforementioned Patrick Barbour; and two magazines: the Spectator, and the Economist.

It also included a number of pharmaceutical companies – such as Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, Phrma, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (Ifpma). However, the most notable of these was the company Merck Sharp & Dohme [7].

The Stockholm Network’s campaigning on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry is especially indicative of the business interests they were serving. This was not limited to Britain, however; nor even to the European Union.

 

US-UK Lobbying: The Centre For Medicine In The Public Interest

Numerous members of the Stockholm Network actively collaborated with an array of American lobbying groups to promote the same purpose. One of these groups was the Centre For Medicine In The Public Interest.

According to her own biography on the Talk Standards website, Helen Disney “sits on the advisory board of the Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI)”. This was written in 2010; and the group’s advisory board is now seemingly defunct.

However, the Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest’s own archived webpage indicates that Disney was among their advisers as far back as 2006.

The Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest was as misleadingly-named as such organisations invariably are. It campaigns on behalf of pharmaceutical companies; often against the public interest.

It is also a subsidiary of the Pacific Research Institute – which is in turn affiliated with the UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs: the two groups having been created by the same person, Antony Fisher [8].

Both the Pacific Research Institute and the Centre For Medicine In The Public Interest lobby on behalf of business concerns. In the case of the Pacific Research Institute, this includes anti-environmental activism and pro-tobacco campaigning on behalf of their clientele – such as Exxon and Phillip Morris [9].

The Center for Medicine In The Public Interest performs a much more specialized function, however. Its president and co-founder is Peter Pitts; and the group campaigns solely in the commercial interests of major pharmaceutical companies.

What makes it particularly significant herein is the fact that this purpose coincides with the Stockholm Network’s priorities and donors – as noted previously, this included the Pharmaceutical company, Merck [10].

Merck had been a client of Peter Pitt’s employers – the public relations firm Manning, Selvage & Lee; and it was responsible for manufacturing a drug called Vioxx.

Vioxx had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999; and received worldwide distribution. It was used to treat acute pain – primarily when caused by arthritis [11].

However, Merck withdrew Vioxx from sale in 2004, after it had become clear that the drug increased the likelihood of patients suffering heart-attacks and strokes.

The US Food and Drug Administration calculated that Vioxx-usage had led to approximately 28,000 heart-attacks or deaths among American citizens, between the years 1999-2003. Vioxx is also estimated to have caused between 88,000 to 140,000 excess cases of serious coronary heart disease [12].

The Vioxx scandal had become public knowledge in 2004. It did not stop Peter Pitts speaking in defence of its sale, across a variety of media outlets; deflecting responsibility from Merck – and placing the onus onto consumers.

In 2007, Pitts would opine that:

The more I think about Vioxx, the more I’m convinced that it should not have been pulled from the market. Vioxx was a tremendous opportunity to put forth a responsible argument that drugs have risks as well as benefits and that the public needs to be better aware of that.

But it turned into good versus evil—the public health was served in no way. And when you withdraw drugs that actually helped lots of people from the market because of political pressure, then you know we’re heading in the wrong direction”.

In 2013, the Stockholm Network’s erstwhile Director of research, Meir Pugatch, would co-author a paper “commissioned by the trade associations of the research-based biopharmaceutical industry, PhRMA and EFPIA”, which offered a distinctly similar viewpoint:

“With regard to medicines such as Vioxx (rofecoxib) and Avandia (rosiglitazone) there are also fundamental doubts as to whether or not it was in the public’s interest for either of these potentially safe and effective treatments to have been withdrawn, as opposed to their usage indications being better defined” (p. 29) [13].

Furthermore, both the Stockholm Network and the Center For Medicine In The Public Interest would campaign for wider distribution of a cholesterol medication, called Lipitor. This has distinct implications for the interests being served by ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying.

 

‘Euroscepticism’ and private healthcare 

In 2006, the Stockholm Network published a pamphlet aiming to secure support for the promotion of anti-cholesterol drugs within the European Union. This was written by Stephen Pollard, Mike Sedgeley, and Tony Hockley – and entitled ‘Cholesterol: The Public Policy Implications of Not Doing Enough‘.

Its three authors proposed the “wider use of statins, a class of medication that lowers cholesterol” as a remedy to the supposedly burgeoning “health and welfare crisis in Europe” (p. 7).

While the drugs listed included Lipitor, it is noteworthy that the final page of the pamphlet acknowledges “this report is made possible by an educational grant from Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD) and Schering-Plough corporation”.

Merck were the manufacturers of Mevacor and Zocor – two of the other statins which the pamphlet’s authors allude to, as viable means of treating obesity throughout Europe [14].

However, the three authors of the pamphlet are conspicuous in their own right. None were qualified medical experts. Instead, they were involved in various free-market think-tanks – which have played a long-standing role in campaigning for business-friendly reforms throughout the European Union.

Stephen Pollard is a columnist/newspaper editor – but he has also been a Senior Fellow at the Centre For The New Europe; and was listed as an adviser to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, in 2006.

The Centre For The New Europe is typical of these lobby groups – advocating free-market policies, usually via the pages of tabloid newspapers. As with many of its peers, the group is opaquely funded by corporations, such as Exxon, the tobacco company Phillip Morris; and the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer [15].

Perhaps more indicative still of the lobbying effort at work herein, are the two fellow authors – Tony Hockley, and Mike Sedgley; who were members of a group called the Policy Analysis Centre.

In 2005, the Policy Analysis Centre bemoaned the EU Working Time Directive, as it meant healthcare companies had to recruit increased numbers of staff; rather than being able to force employees to work longer hours (pp. 9-10).

However, during 2006, both Hockley and Sedgley were involved in an Institute of Economic Affairs campaign for healthcare reform. This was announced in a pamphlet entitled ‘The British One Size Fits All Healthcare Model should be abandoned‘.

This appears to no longer be publicly available – at least not in its entirety. Nonetheless, the announcement itself makes sufficiently plain what was being advocated herein; as does the foreword – written by Tony Hockley – which remains online.

The Institute of Economic Affairs proposed that “consumers should take more responsibility in the fields of healthcare and drugs”; and that this “will lead to more productivity and innovation”.

However, they add that a consumer-led model of healthcare “may cost more money”, meaning that “co-payment by patients may be necessary”. The announcement then adds: “if consumers had control of their own spending on drugs, they would be willing to pay much more to obtain new innovative treatments”.

It seems fairly clear that this was a call for fees to be applied to healthcare, within the UK; on the grounds that this could form a personal budget for consumers – that is, patients – to spend on new pharmaceutical medicines, sold at high-cost. It is pretty obvious that the pharmaceutical industry’s commercial interests were the fulcrum of this scenario.

Significantly, the Institute of Economic Affairs’ announcement also “applauds the practice of direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies which is currently banned in the EU”.

This is a form of advert, whereby pharmaceuticals provide “information directly to consumers coming from entrenched healthcare interest groups”. Or in more straightforward terms, it allows companies to advertise healthcare products directly to patients with particular ailments.

As a final note, the announcement calls for reform to “the provision of drugs”. More specifically:

“In the UK the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has an increasing role in determining which treatments are offered to all patients nationwide. This approach is diametrically opposed to the consumer-led drugs policy that we should be following”.

In sum, what the Institute for Economic Affairs were lobbying for herein was a deregulated free-market system of healthcare; which facilitates profiteering among major pharmaceuticals.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that Tony Hockley had previously been employed by one of these – namely, GlaxoSmithKline; or that his organisation, the Policy Analysis Centre, has received funding from the pharmaceutical companies Merck Sharp & Dohme, and Schering-Plough.

Helen Disney of the Stockholm Network would echo these same sentiments, in 2007; calling on the European Union to put them into effect. The European Parliament had processed a Motion for a Resolution on “action to tackle cardiovascular disease”, in July 2007.

The Stockholm Network responded to this, with Disney opining that:

“although the motion for resolution rightly identifies the threat posed by cardiovascular disease, it does not fully address the impact of heavy government regulation and involvement in health systems in Europe, nor does it fully recognise the need to ensure access to medicines and the latest treatments.”

This was a more oblique way of demanding commercial healthcare than had been advanced by Tony Hockley. Nonetheless, the shared agenda is made plain as Disney continued; contending that the crisis of cardiovascular disease:

“will remain unsolved while health care technology assessment bodies continue to ration health care technologies, and access to consumer information is restricted which limits patient awareness of treatment options.”

It could not be clearer, therefore, that this collection of British and American groups were seeking to reform public policy to serve the business-interests of their backers. It was this priority which underlay ‘Eurosceptic’ efforts to deregulate and remodel the European Union.

It was not merely in terms of healthcare, of course; but this was an area where a lack of effective regulations in America had resulted in members of the public suffering harm, as a direct consequence of unsafe medicines being prescribed to people. This eventuality was evidently treated with indifference by the Stockholm Network, and its affiliates.

 

 The business interests behind ‘Euroscepticism’: Nurses For Reform

No less revealing are the efforts undertaken by one of the Stockholm Network’s members – a group called Nurses For Reform.

Nurses For Reform had been created in 2007, and posed as:

“a growing pan-European network of nurses dedicated to consumer-oriented reform of European healthcare systems”.

That is, a group of nurses demanding increased involvement of private companies within the NHS. Needless to say, this was not the upshot of genuine grassroots agitation.

In reality, Nurses For Reform was set up by Helen and Tim Evans. Both had been involved with the Stockholm Network, and the Centre for the New Europe; but Tim Evans had also been a public relations representative for the Independent Healthcare Association – a trade body for private hospitals, and private social-care providers [17].

As is the case with many lobbying organisations, the official website and publications of Nurses For Reform are no longer available online.

However, the organisation – or, at least, Helen Evans – would maintain a wordpress blog for several years beforehand, under the name Nurses For Reform.

This records precisely what the group were campaigning for – namely,”the complete privatisation and deregulation of all aspects of healthcare and medicine”.

Nurses For Reform’s blogposts were marked by invective – to the point of histrionics, in places. What underscored this was a campaign for ‘market-based’ healthcare; and a promotion of the pharmaceutical industry’s commercial interests.

Their stated objectives included “private top ups for NHS patients who want to access innovative medicines denied to them by the state”. What this meant in practice was increased public funds for businesses working within the NHS; via public-private partnerships.

The ultimate aim behind this was revealed by Evans in a previous blogpost, when noting that once the government allows “private top-ups the NHS will be over”; adding that Nurses For Reform “welcomes this”. The rationale being that “the NHS is an essentially Stalinist, nationalised abhorrence”; and that “Britain can do musch better without its so called ‘principals’” [18].

Nurses For Reform also called for deregulation of Direct-To-Consumer advertising, on behalf of pharmaceutical companies:

“the next government must end health censorship. In today’s internet age it is absurd that advertising by doctors and pharmaceutical companies are still largely restricted or subject to outright bans”.

Moreover, despite claiming to represent “a growing number of nurses”, Helen Evans would also bemoan the prospect of nursing staff having influence over healthcare – complaining that “for far too long politicians have allowed the General Medial Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council to be market monopolists”.

Furthermore, she complained that the British Medical Council and the Royal College of Nursing “should lose their monopoly status in law” – because they inhibited “genuine consumer empowerment and choice”.

It is therefore evident that the people behind Nurses For Reform were not ordinary nurses, but decidedly crude individuals; lobbying for ‘market-based’ healthcare, in order to serve the profiteering of private sector concerns.

In Helen Evans’ case, this would involve giving speeches at a conference organised by the Galen Institute and the International Policy Network.

While the International Policy Network was another lobbying organisation created by Anthony Fisher – with a fairly predictable array of corporate sponsors – the Galen Institute was devoted exclusively to the privatization of healthcare: namely, “to inject consumer-power and market competition into public programs”.

In 2006, Helen Disney and Stephen Pollard of the Stockholm Network would also collaborate with the Galen Institute – along with the International Policy Network – and a further group, called the Institute for Policy Innovation.

They contributed to a pamphlet, whose various authors cited the supposed shortcomings of health-services in several European countries, including Britain – in order to counter calls for a similar system being adopted in the United States [19].

However, despite their shared commitments, Nurses for Reform would leave the Stockholm Network in 2009 – supposedly having their membership withdrawn by Helen Disney, for reasons which are not entirely clear.

Yet, this is not the end of matters. In fact, despite the relatively brief existence of Nurses For Reform, the organisation would provide a key link between these corporate lobbying efforts, and the Vote Leave campaign [20].

 

Global Vision 

Two other people involved with Nurses For Reform as advisers were Ruth Lea and Shane Frith. Suffice to say, neither Frith nor Lea had any expertise or background in nursing.

Instead, they were two lobbyists – who would both campaign elsewhere for reform to Britain’s relationship with the European Union; and subsequently for Brexit.

Frith had been involved in a variety of think-tanks, including the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Open Europe; as well as Reform – which is dedicated to privatizing the NHS – and Progressive Vision, which was the short-lived successor to Nurses For Reform.

Frith was also a managing director for the Stockholm Network. However, of particular significance among this plethora of organisations was his involvement in Global Vision – as Ruth Lea was the director of this group [21].

In 2012, Global Vision published a lengthy document, outlining their aims for a reformed relationship between Britain and the European Union.

Global Vision differed from many of their peers, however, by virtue of being relatively upfront about their intentions to leave the EU – though they were more reticent about the material consequences which were liable to follow; and the position they advocated was ultimately contradictory [22].

What Global Vision’s case amounted to was a suggestion that Britain could simply select whichever aspects of the EU it pleased, and disregard any which the authors considered inexpedient.

This prefigured the Vote Leave campaign’s misleading message; but it is also in this respect that the itinerary motivating their calls for Brexit were made clear.

As with Business For Britain et al, Global Vision made a series of complaints about environmental legislation, employment protections, and tax regulations. It is evident that their aim was for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, in order to terminate these.

For instance, after lamenting that the European Single Market “is not intended to be a straightforward free trade market, as many in the UK would like it to be, it is intended to be a regulated market” (p. 16), Global Vision complained that it is:

“underpinned by and influenced by the Continental Social Market Model, which is characterised by heavy employment regulations (social protection) and trade protectionism (especially in France)” (p. 16)

In fact, this was the focus of Global Vision’s animus; as they clarified, bemoaning “extensive employment regulation”, such as the Agency Workers Directive; along with harmonised tax-rates (p. 16).

They also complained about “draconian cuts to manmade greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” and “a series of demanding climate change and energy targets to be met by 2020” (p. 24); as well as “a very heavy price of costly regulations, not least of all on the City of London” (p. 21).

However, Global Vision’s position was paradoxical. For instance, they contended that “Britain needs a new relationship with the EU, one which means withdrawing from the Customs Union, from the Single Market and de facto and de jure from the EU itself” (p. 27).

Yet they went on to say that “going it alone”, where “Britain simply trades with the EU under the WTO umbrella, with no free trade agreement and/or bilateral agreements”, seemed “unnecessarily ‘isolationist'”; and therefore “it is not our preferred option”. (p. 27). It can not really be had both ways, of course.

So what did they want? Their proposal was a “Swiss-style option”, whereby:

“Britain negotiates a free trade agreement with the EU and mutually beneficial bilateral agreements…this is our preferred option for a new relationship with the EU” (p. 27).

In other words, Global Vision wanted Britain to leave the European union; then make a series of demands for a new trade arrangement, entirely on the terms which Global Vision, their peers – and their respective sponsors – considered favorable.

At no point did Global Vision outline any prospective time-frame or cost to these scenarios, however. Instead, potential liabilities were treated dismissively; and there was no consideration given to the possibility that other EU countries might simply reject these demands.

Of particular significance therein is Global Vision’s cursory reference to Article 50 – that is, the official mechanism required to initiate the process of withdrawing from the European Union; and therefore of optimal importance.

In fact, Global Vision devoted only one paragraph to this issue:

“Article 50, Treaty on European Union (TEU), which says “…any Member-State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

Article 50 also says “…the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State…taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.” (p. 28)

Suffice to say, the ellipses removed certain information.

Article 50 itself explains how complex this scenario would actually prove for any country withdrawing from the European Union; and indicates plainly that the terms of any future trade-arrangement would depend upon the agreement of other EU countries.

It also states that withdrawal would take a minimum of two years to process – a somewhat salient fact; which Global Vision neglected to mention. Despite being frank about their intentions, therefore, Global Vision were not making an honest case.

Moreover, there is a question of who the intended audience for their briefing was. It was published in 2012, two years into the tenure of the Coalition government; of which its co-author, Brian Binley, was an MP.

Global Vision made no reference to any referendum within Britain, in order to secure their aims – and their pamphlet is unlikely to have been intended for a general audience, given its length (51 pages); and the amount of technical data contained in its various appendices.

Instead, it was almost certainly aimed at policy-makers – or perhaps written for them as a resource; as signified by the high number of Conservative MPs and Peers affiliated with Global Vision. This is equally true of its progenitor – the Centre for Policy Studies; of which Ruth Lea was also a director.

It is consequently plausible that Global Vision were seeking to obtain Britain’s withdrawal from the EU via an act of government, irrespective of any public vote; and regardless of popular approval.

The involvement of Lea, in particular, denotes an additional agenda behind these lobbying efforts – namely, advancing the monetary concerns of Britain’s financial sector; concentrated in the City of London.

It was in this regard that Global Vision had made their demand for Britain to withdraw from the European Union:

“Whilst the UK is in the Single Market, there are major and potentially devastating limitations on what any UK Government can do to resist the Commission’s increasing regulatory and supervisory control over the City of London.

In order to maintain the pre-eminence of the City, the UK really has no choice but to leave the Single Market. ” (p. 23)

In fact, evidence indicates that this was the primary motivation for several of the foremost organisations which campaigned for Brexit. It would also seem to have proven self-defeating – or at least, to have been rooted in divergent interests; several of which have proven unattainable in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

 

The City Of London

Ruth Lea is an economic adviser to Arbuthnot Banking Group – a City of London investment bank, run by Henry Angest. Angest is a significant financial supporter of several anti-EU organisations.

However, he has also donated considerable sums of money to the Conservative Party over the course of many years, under various guises; and is a member of its premier supporters’ group – the Leaders’ Group.

This grants Angest and his peers access to leading figures within the Conservative Party; including the Prime Minister. It thereby facilitates high-level lobbying.

The convergence of Global Vision, a City of London bank, and the Conservative Party, is indicative of what was arguably the most substantive element underscoring the campaign which eventually lead to Brexit.

In April 2016, Lea had been asked by a local newspaper in Exeter why she intended to vote for Britain to leave the EU; and had answered: “I’m a democrat. I wish to live in a self-governing democracy that makes its own laws. It’s about political freedom”.

Needless to say, this motive did not feature in the Global Vision pamphlet Lea had co-authored. Her actual motivations were markedly different; and had been outlined in detail on several occasions prior to the EU referendum – reaching at least as far back as 2005. They revolved almost entirely around the interests of the UK’s financial district.

Lea had been unabashed about this concern. For instance, in February 2016, European Union leaders agreed on a new settlement for the UK, at the behest of David Cameron – who consequently announced a date for the EU referendum.

According to Cameron, this arrangement would protect the City of London from any unwanted EU regulations. Lea complained, however, that “the political reality is that on serious financial regulation the UK will be impotent. People who think otherwise are delusional”.

Furthermore, Lea had written several commentaries advocating Brexit, with the City of London’s interests at the forefront of her justification.

What they amounted to was as paradoxical as the case made by Global Vision: namely that Britain had no leeway over EU policy while it remained a member of the European Union, and should therefore withdraw from it. Yet once outside its confines, the UK could expect to have its demands acceded to by even the most powerful EU countries, without opposition.

For example, in contrast to her claim in February 2016 that Britain would be “impotent” on financial regulation, Lea opined several months later that following Brexit, the UK would not be a “a supplicant with regard to negotiations over financial services”; as many EU financial institutions benefit from the City of London, and therefore “it would not be in their interests” to inhibit any future arrangement.

In fact, Lea’s stated reasons for leaving the EU contradict her forecast for the aftermath of Brexit. Global Vision’s pamphlet complained that “the power to ‘influence’ Single Market legislation within the EU is very limited for any member state” (p. 16).

Moreover, that “the UK, as a frequent outlier, finds it almost impossible to form political alliances to form blocking majorities to stop legislation it does not wish to be implemented” (p. 16).

Yet, once Britain has left the EU – and thereafter become an outlier in the most extreme sense possible – “sheer commercial pragmatism” would mean that trade deals are “done quite expeditiously”; because “money will talk”.

This would also supposedly ensure that Britain “could repeal regulations”, and “it could have its own trade deals and decide exactly what its immigration policy should be”. This clearly fails to add up.

So, what explains this self-contradictory rationale? It is possible that Lea was genuinely unclear on the reality; but it seems more plausible that the case being presented was insincere – and was driven by an ulterior concern. It is not difficult to discern what this was.

In reality, Brexit was not merely intended to prevent the imposition of EU regulations on Britain’s financial district. Instead, once Britain was no longer constrained by EU trade requirements, UK financial companies would be able to expand their commercial interests into developing nations; and exploit them.

During May 2016, Lea had written in the Financial Times that “non-EU markets will probably be the major growth markets for financial services in the future”; and had noted that “London’s recent toppling of Singapore as the second-largest renminbi clearing hub is a significant development”. Renminbi is an alternative name for China’s currency. 

There is a further element to the matter, however; which clarifies how self-serving this motivation really was. Lea continued:

“the government may decide that the restrictions imposed by regulatory equivalence are too restricting, and instead pursue a more liberal regulatory path”.

What Lea omits to mention here is the fact that “regulatory equivalence” had been applied throughout the Eurozone in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis; in order to prevent a re-occurrence.

This omission was not simply a matter of oversight for Lea’s part – on the contrary, the Global Vision pamphlet had been quite specific in complaining about “the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive” (p. 16); which had been instituted in 2011, in order to regulate hedge-funds, and similar forms of high-risk investment funding.

Global Vision were therefore lobbying to repeal the protective regulations imposed upon Britain’s financial sector, regardless of the potential consequences.

There was another dimension underscoring Lea’s reference to “a more liberal regulatory path”, however; which was arguably more egregious still. Global Vision’s complaints about EU regulations had not been limited to the concerns of British banks; but had encompassed employment rights too.

As they contended:

“The latest major piece of EU social legislation to be implemented (October 2011) was the Agency Workers Regulations, which will cost British business £1.9bn a year.

The imposition on businesses of this absurdly expensive piece of legislation makes a mockery of the Government’s war on red tape. Suffice to say the net regulatory impositions are increasing, and the net costs on business are increasing, damaging British competitiveness” (p. 23).

The UK Agency Workers Regulations act of 2010 was derived from the EU’s Temporary Agency Work Directive of 2008.

It had been intended to guarantee that people working through employment agencies would receive the same pay and conditions as employees at the same company, who perform identical work.

In other words, it would prevent businesses discriminating against agency workers; or exploiting them. Global Vision evidently wanted to reverse this; and saw Britain’s withdrawal from the EU as a means to that end. They were not alone [23].

 

The Heritage Foundation 

In fact, Lea had been more explicit on this theme a decade earlier – during a conference held by the American lobbying group, the Heritage Foundation. This had been entitled “Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?“; and was conducted on the 28th June 2005.

Alongside Lea were several other figures who would later be at the forefront of campaigning for Brexit. This included the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, along with the Ukip peer, Malcolm Pearson; and Ian Milne, the director of Global Britain.

The transcript featured a discursive preface written by Margaret Thatcher – which bemoaned the possible “consequences of a more bureaucratic, more centralised Europe” in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty; and stressed “the need to strengthen our Atlantic ties”.

Lea had been much more specific with her objections to the European Union, however – deploring “environmental regulations”; along with regulations affecting “industry groups”, “the labor market”, and employment (p. 35).

In fact, Lea’s series of complaints about the EU continued; including regulations that “covered equal opportunities”; while bemoaning “employment protection”, and requirements to ensure safe working-conditions (p. 35).

She also lamented the European union’s attempts to regulate financial services via “the Market Abuses Directive”, and “the Financial Services Action Plan”; along with the prospect of harmonized tax-rates being introduced throughout the Europe – which would prevent reductions of corporation tax within Britain (p. 36).

In sum, as she stated: “we’d like the free trade, but not very much else” (p. 37).

Yet was the agenda of the Heritage Foundation really that limited? It seems unlikely. This conference, after all, was not concerned with the impact of EU membership on Britain; but questioned whether the European Union served the interests of the United States. It thereby had an additional significance.

This was alluded to in the closing remarks of the symposium – made by a Heritage Foundation official, Ed Meese; who had spoken of the need for a “cross-Atlantic alliance” between British, European and American lobbyists.

Their shared priority would be “to limit the power of the European Union to the extent we can”; and “to exploit its own internal seeds of its own destruction” (pp. 62-63). The overarching aim was evidently to make the European Union a more profitable market for American businesses; one which could be exploited with impunity.

This was made plain by another participant called Mark Ryland, from the Discovery Institute; who referred to an anti-trust case between Microsoft, and the EU’s Commission of the European Communities, resolved in 2007.

To cut a prolix anecdote short, according to Ryland, the European Union unfairly inhibited Microsoft’s profits via “competition regulation” (p. 40) [24].

In reality, Microsoft was fined €497 million in 2004 by the European Commission, for abusing its dominant market position. It would subsequently face an additional fine of €561 million for failing to abide by the EU’s anti-trust ruling.

Suffice to say, what the likes of Ryland wanted was a scenario whereby US companies – such as Microsoft – would not find themselves beholden to regulatory frameworks, while remaining free to trade in the European Union.

These excerpts indicate that the Heritage Foundation’s objective was not really a free-market, with liberal economic competition – as the conference organisers had claimed; but one in which major American corporations are free to behave as they please.

This corresponds directly to the lobbying efforts of the aforementioned ‘Eurosceptic’ groups; who repeatedly cited free-enterprise, while campaigning for repeals of any EU legislation that inhibited the profiteering of the American and British transnational companies who had sponsored their efforts.

These respective lobbying groups shared donors, as well such as priorities, of course. The likes of Exxon, pharmaceutical companies, and Microsoft had provided money to the Stockholm Network. The same applies to the Heritage Foundation; which had also received funding from these same sources, amongst others [25].

 

 US and UK corporate lobbying for Brexit – a shared agenda

While this conference had made plain what type of entity its participants wanted to turn the European Union into – and indicated what they had in mind for Britain – these ambitions were revealed to be far more expansive in an essay published by the Heritage Foundation on 26th September 2014.

It was written by Nile Gardiner and Theodore Bromund – who were both involved in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

This organisation had been established in September 2005, following a donation from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to the Heritage Foundation. So, this clearly revolves around a joint effort, conducted by US and UK conservative groups.

However, Gardiner and Bromund’s essay expressly advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union; in order to create a Free-Trade Arrangement with America. That is, “a modern, bilateral agreement directly with the United States”; which Britain’s membership of the European Union precluded.

It was not made entirely clear what precisely the two authors envisioned; but the nature of the agreement they had in mind can be discerned to a fair extent, when they suggested that:

“the most important facet of a U.S.–U.K. free trade area is not what it would do now, but what it would do in the future. Simply put, it would significantly insulate the U.K. from the damaging effects of further EU interference by aligning it clearly with the U.S. as a nation outside the EU’s regulatory reach”.

Moreover:

“This would not just benefit the U.K. It would also help the U.S. by improving the ability of the most important foreign investor in the United States to continue to serve as both a source of investment and a recipient of it”.

This was evidently intended to facilitate American trade with the UK; and prevent any EU safeguards being applied within Britain. What did these two facets really concern, though?

It would seem to revolve around financial services, and the export of American agricultural goods to Britain:

 “a U.S.–U.K. agreement would focus on sectors in which agreement is likely to be easy (including the promotion of investment) and on the major gains that are to be had (for example, in the agricultural sector).”

As will become clear, there is a considerable significance to the issue of agriculture.

However, ending the imposition of EU regulatory safeguards on the City of London is consistently among the foremost priorities of the organisations which lobbied for Brexit.

In fact, the Heritage Foundation piece had quoted the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson; declaiming that “we cannot allow jobs, growth and livelihoods to be jeopardized by those in the EU who mistakenly view financial services as an easy target”, with regard to the European Union’s financial transaction tax.

However, as noted, the Heritage Foundation were not merely concerned with the present, but were looking to the future.

In that respect, their essay echoed Global Vision’s pamphlet; which had opined that Britain should leave the EU, and thereafter establish “closer trade links with the Commonwealth, the USA and other favoured nations” (p. 4).

Global Vision had gone a step further than the Heritage Foundation, however; and outlined the purpose behind this aim:

“by negotiating these closer relationships, Britain would be in a much better position to realign its trade patterns towards fast growing economies, thus stimulating economic growth, than it is now” (p. 4).

So the aim of this cross-Atlantic effort was not merely to protect UK financial services from EU regulations, but to establish a trading bloc with the United States; and thereafter form a series of arrangements with “fast growing economies” – which bypassed any regulatory framework that the EU might impose.

It is an obvious question to ask, perhaps, but why? Who stood to gain from this outcome of an unregulated financial sector; and a series of bilateral free-trade arrangements? This can be answered partly, by the lobbying efforts of Open Europe.

 

Open Europe and Brexit

On 5th December 2011, Open Europe issued a press release; entitled “UK Government should use EU Treaty negotiations to secure ’emergency brake’ on financial laws”. This was evidently of a piece with one of the key priorities advanced by the Heritage Foundation and Global Vision.

Open Europe contended that “the Government must seek to safeguard the economic benefits to Europe and the UK offered by the financial services sector”; and that Britain’s government should seek “a UK ’emergency brake’, giving London the right to block disproportionate or protectionist EU financial regulation”.

Furthermore, they complained that:

“The EU market is likely to offer limited new growth opportunities for UK financial sector firms, at a time when opportunities elsewhere in the world are on the rise.

Between 2005 and 2050, the BRIC countries’ share of global banking assets is estimated to increase from 8% to 33%, while the EU will see its corresponding share drop radically”.

Global Vision had said much the same thing – that once outside the EU, Britain “would actually be better internationally networked, especially with the world’s growing economies” (p. 4).

The Heritage Foundation, likewise, had opined that: 

“The U.K. relies heavily on the export of financial services, in which it had a surplus in 2013 of £61 billion. As major investors abroad, as leading recipients of foreign investment, and as the homes (London and New York) of the world’s most important financial centers, both the U.S. and the U.K. have much to gain from promoting investment freedom” (p. 7).

It seems fair to conclude, therefore, that the agenda herein was shared by these respective groups: their priority was not what would benefit Britain as a country; but how best to serve its financial sector – specifically, it would seem, investment banks

What they wanted was not merely to prevent EU regulations being imposed on the City of London – but leeway for Britain’s financial sector to pursue opportunities in developing countries.

In 2012, Open Europe claimed that “over the next decade, growth opportunities for financial services within the EU are likely to be more limited than elsewhere in the world”. Therefore “the benefits to London of acting as the gateway to Europe are becoming less convincing”.

Consequently, they suggested that the need “to keep the door open to emerging markets elsewhere across the globe” has become “far more important”.

In fact, at this juncture, Open Europe did not endorse withdrawal from the EU; but instead, advocated two measures, intended to be profitable for the United Kingdom’s financial sector.

The first of these was for Britain’s government to “work with likeminded countries to seek assurances” that the UK’s influence over EU financial services law “will be safeguarded”.

This, Open Europe suggested, “could commit the EU to a pro-growth, outward looking and proportionate regulatory regime while safeguarding the UK from decisions taken solely by the Eurozone for all 27 member states”.

Secondly, they recommended that Britain’s government should seek:

“UK-specific, legally watertight safeguards that will ensure that the UK is not overruled on a vital financial measure and cement London’s ability to do business and compete in global markets”.

In other words, financial services throughout the EU should be deregulated; while Britain’s financial district should be free to profiteer outside its confines.

This was seemingly Open Europe’s key lobbying concern – given their conclusion that, as “financial services account for at least 10% of UK GDP”, it is “therefore clear where the UK should concentrate its political capital”.

While Open Europe changed their position after the EU referendum – and began to press for the most drastic form of withdrawal from the European Union – their core aim remained in place.

On 27th July 2016, they suggested that Britain should “maintain good links with the EU and strike a free trade agreement with the US (two regions which do demand services)”.

However, they added that the UK should also be “preparing the ground for future expansion” into the “growth markets” of “Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa”; who “are likely to demand more of what the UK provides – in particular business and financial services”. This would ensure that “the UK is ready to take advantage of any opportunities”.

They clarified this further, the following day; contending that “there is little doubt” if Britain “is going to leave the EU, it should leave the customs union”. The rationale for this was that “the alternative approach of staying in the customs union but trying to leave the EU” will mean “the UK would not be able to strike its own trade deals”.

However, it is clear from Open Europe’s piece that this was not intended to benefit Britain as a whole. As they noted, it would cause the economy to contract: “in the long run (up to 2030), there will be a permanent cost to leaving the customs union. This cost is around 1% to 1.2% GDP”.

In fact, despite boasting that they had published “one of the few Brexit reports to actually pay attention to the issue”, several other organisations had done much the same. Only they had estimated that the cost of leaving the Customs Union would be significantly higher; at c. 4.5% of Gross Domestic Product being lost.

Even so, in March 2017, Open Europe again called for Britain to withdraw from the Customs Union. Yet the report which accompanied this announcement detailed the complexity involved in departing the Customs Union; and indicated that a range of British industries would suffer economic damage as a consequence: due to tariffs being applied, and supply-chains being disrupted (pp. 21-24).

So who would benefit from this scenario? Evidently not Britain itself, given the long-term economic decline which will ensue; and many business-sectors would also suffer losses.

Open Europe’s report reveals more than its authors perhaps intended it to, however. The source of its data was an article published by the business consultancy firm, Bain; in February 2017.

As it notes:

“net exporters in industries with low WTO tariffs, such as aerospace, or industries characterized by zero tariffs and a global production footprint and sales mix, such as pharma, could potentially benefit from a hard Brexit due to pound depreciation and lower UK tax rates.

In this scenario, aerospace companies may see profits increase by 4% to 8%, and pharma, by 2% to 3%. Indeed, large industrial and pharma companies, including Rolls-Royce, Boeing, GSK and AstraZeneca, have confirmed their commitment to continue investing in the UK”.

While this appraisal stands in conflict with the fact that these self-same industries nearly all opposed Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, it is nonetheless significant that a number of representatives from these industries have supported Open Europe – either in the past; or currently.

It is likely to have been this factor which underscored Open Europe’s self-contradicting change of stance, after the EU referendum: it was acting on behalf of its backers [26].

 

Open Europe and the Conservative Party 

In fact, a number of Open Europe’s financial-sector supporters had campaigned for Brexit – such as the investment banker, Rupert Hambro; who had served on the advisory board of Open Europe, and was a signatory to letters calling for Britain to leave the EU, during the referendum campaign.

Hambro had also been involved in the group, Business For Sterling; which was a forerunner of Open Europe. Alex Hickman and Rodney Leach were among the figureheads of Business For Sterling, too – and co-founded Open Europe in 2005; thereafter serving on its advisory board.

There is a further significance to this lineage, however, and to Open Europe as a whole: namely, their links to the Conservative party. Leach was a Conservative Peer (he died two weeks before the EU referendum took place). Business For Sterling had been set up by Nick Herbert who is currently a Conservative Party MP.

Rupert Hambro had served as an adviser to David Cameron. Furthermore, in 2015, Open Europe’s director – Mats Persson – was appointed a special adviser to David Cameron.

Of a piece is Dominic Cummings – while he was not affiliated with Open Europe, he had been involved in Business For Sterling; and would become the Campaign Director for Vote Leave. He also served as an adviser to the Conservative government minister, Michael Gove, between 2007-12.

Likewise, Neil O’Brien had been involved in a campaign to prevent the UK government ratifying the Lisbon treaty (2004), which was another precursor to Open Europe – of which O’Brien would become the director. He was subsequently appointed as an adviser to George Osborne in 2012, until July 2016; and became a Conservative MP in June 2017.

This patronage is equally true of another Open Europe supporter – the aforementioned Henry Angest; who is also a long-standing and substantial financial donor to the Conservative Party.

Moreover, several of Open Europe’s personnel have been appointed to advisory roles within the Conservative Party. As with Mats Persson, one of Open Europe’s co-founders – Alex Hickman – worked as an adviser to David Cameron, between 2006-07.

In October 2016, Open Europe’s Co-Director – Raoul Ruparel – became a special adviser to David Davis; who is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

Alex Greer – a Research and Communications Officer for Open Europe – was a Communications Officer for the Conservative Party between January 2015 – December 2015.

Victoria Borwick worked as a fundraiser for Open Europe; before becoming the Conservative MP for Kensington between 2015-17.

Henry Newman has served as an adviser to Simone Finn, and to Michael Gove; while “Lord Salisbury” – i.e. Robert Gascoyne-Cecil – has been both a peer and an adviser to Open Europe. This network extends even further afield, however [27].

 

The Conservative Party and Corporate Lobbying 

The activities of corporate lobbyists and Members of Parliament have been intertwined within all major political parties; but this has been especially pronounced among the Conservatives.

Conservative government ministers were at the forefront of the Vote Leave campaign; yet many Tory MPs who opposed Brexit had been involved in lobbying organisations whose campaigns would pave the way for both the EU referendum, and its outcome.

Boris Johnson was the foremost campaigner for Vote Leave; and simultaneously a Conservative Member of Parliament. He had also been the Mayor of London between 2008-16, however; and as noted, during that tenure he had campaigned against EU regulations, being imposed on the City of London’s financial district [28].

Another Conservative MP, Michael Gove was named one of the joint heads of Vote Leave (along with the former Labour MP, Gisela Stuart). He had also been involved in a lobbying organisation – Policy Exchange; as was the aforementioned Simon Wolfson, who is a Conservative Party donor.

Policy Exchange had itself been a part of the Stockholm Network; and was created by Conservative Party peers and donors.

Policy Exchange seem not to have taken a position on the EU referendum; yet would advocate the most extreme form of withdrawal from the EU, in 2017 – publishing a pamphlet, which urged Britain to withdraw from the Single Market and the Customs Union.

One of its authors was Gerard Lyons; who had served as the Chief economic adviser to Boris Johnson, while he was the Mayor of London.

The counterpart to Johnson and Gove, was David Cameron – who had been the de facto head of the Stronger In campaign. Yet, as with the official leader of Stronger In – Stuart Rose – Cameron had previously supported ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying efforts; and was affiliated with many of the organisations who would campaign for Brexit [29].

As with Boris Johnson, Cameron opposed the EU, when it attempted to apply a tax on financial transactions to the City of London, in 2013.

Two years beforehand, he had blocked an EU-wide treaty – designed to mitigate the Eurozone’s financial crisis; ultimately weakening Britain’s position within the EU, in the process. This, likewise, had been undertaken on behalf of Britain’s financial district.

Cameron had also objected to EU social policies – particularly employment rights; announcing in 2007 that:

“I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level. It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control”.

Cameron repeated this complaint in a speech about the EU, during 2009; claiming that “too much EU legislation” in the areas of “social and employment legislation” were “damaging both our economy and our public services”. This included “the aspects of the Working Time Directive which are causing real problems in the NHS and the Fire Service”.

However, Cameron also proclaimed that:

“we will pay particular attention to the area of financial regulation, where we will be vigilant and tenacious in defending the competitiveness of the City of London”.

These were the fundamental precepts underscoring ‘Euroscepticism’, of course; and would in turn form the pretext for Brexit. 

Moreover, it was an effort that Cameron would reanimate in July 2015, as a precursor to the referendum campaign itself. As the Telegraph noted:

“Prominent business leaders and economists have argued that Mr Cameron should lead Britain out of the EU if he is unable to secure a veto for the UK over European laws and win back control over employment rules”.

The “prominent business leaders” would seem to be those involved in Business for Britain; as indicated by another Telegraph article, published the previous month.

It referred to Business For Britain’s Change Or Go report; and noted that the editorial board which produced it:

“was chaired by Jon Moynihan, the former executive chairman at PA Consulting Group. Other members include Andrew Allum of LEK Consulting, Luke Johnson, a leading venture capitalist, and Helena Morrissey, one of the City’s most prominent fund managers”.

These individuals have all been prominently involved with the Conservative Party. Jon Moynihan is a both a substantial donor to the Conservatives; and the executive of a venture capital firm, called Ipex [30].

Andrew Allum was one of the co-founders of the Taxpayers’ Alliance; and a Conservative Party Councillor between 1998-2003.

Luke Johnson is a supporter of Open Europe, and was an advocate of the Conservative Party in 2015.

Helena Morrissey was the executive of the hedge fund bank, Newton Investment Management – based in the City of London financial district; and had been advocating Brexit since at least 2013. She was also appointed as an external adviser to the Treasury in July 2015, by George Osborne.

In fact, David Cameron would spend 2015-16 making a series of demands for reforms to Britain’s relationship with the EU, which aligned with the interests of Business For Britain – pledging not to rule out leaving the EU, if his conditions were unmet.

Both facets resulted in failure; and this inability to secure favourable concession from the European Union would be exploited by Business For Britain/Vote Leave campaigners, in order to augment their case for Brexit [31].

The links between David Cameron and ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying had run even deeper than this, however. It was not merely a case of a shared alignment, and the same set of priorities; but identical personnel, too.

The Conservative MP, George Eustice, served as Cameron’s press secretary from 2005-07; and supported his campaign to become leader of the Conservative Party. However, Eustice had been the director of the anti-Euro ‘No Campaign’ between 1993-2003 [32].

Likewise, Susie Squire had been head of press for the Conservative Party, from July 2012 to October 2012; before becoming Press Secretary to David Cameron. However, Squire had previously been the head of communications at the Stockholm Network; as well as a former Campaign Manager of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

In fact, this was alluded to by the Taxpayers’ Alliance themselves, in their published review of the organisation’s lobbying efforts, during 2008-09. Of all the think-tanks involved in ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying, it was the Taxpayers’ Alliance whose activities during this epoch arguably served as the antecedent for Brexit [33].

 

The Taxpayers’ Alliance 

Although Vote Leave had been a multifaceted organisation, the Taxpayers’ Alliance had been the principle body behind it. Matthew Elliott was the chief executive officer of both groups; and they shared a significant number of financial backers.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance was also registered within the Stockholm Network; and was among the Conservative Movement of lobbying organisations affiliated with the Tory Party [34].

They had published an annual review of their campaigning throughout 2008-09; and the affiliations mentioned therein – including the political issues they were concerned with – would become cornerstones of Vote Leave, in 2016.

It is also plausible that these endeavors helped to establish the climate of opinion which proved operative during the referendum campaign itself.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, caused by the collapse of US-UK banks during 2007-08, the Taxpayers’ Alliance exploited the cost of the publicly-funded bailout of the banking system – along with the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009 – to campaign for reductions of government expenditure; and thereby, reduced taxes for their wealthy supporters.

Their rhetoric on this theme informed the Conservative Party’s electioneering during the General Election of 2010; while their aims were reflected by a number of the policies enacted by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, once in office.

It is also clear that David Cameron was incorporating material produced by the Taxpayers’ Alliance at this juncture; as their review states: “David Cameron’s speech on quangos in July 2008 prominently quoted TPA research”.

This lobbying was evidently having a more significant import within the Conservative Party as a whole, however; as the Taxpayers’ Alliance boasted that “our research was submitted to the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee, and it is now Conservative Party policy”.

This concerned Regional Development Agencies; which would be abolished by the Conservative-led government in 2010. Moreover, in 2008, the Conservative Party renounced their previous commitment to matching the Labour government’s public expenditure levels – which was something that the Taxpayers’ Alliance had demanded [35].

However, in 2007 the Taxpayers’ Alliance also campaigned against the supposed “costs of the EU”; and during 2009, they began promoting The Great EU Debate – creating a series of videos, featuring several people who would later become prominent in the campaign for Brexit.

This included Daniel Hannan, who advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union during his interview. Far more significant, though, was an interview with Lee Rotherham – who outlined a case for leaving the EU, which would later form the basis of Vote Leave’s argument for Brexit.

Rotherham had authored a book of fiction – aptly enough – called Ten Years On; which depicted Britain prospering ten years after leaving the European Union. This novel was accompanied by a cinema advert.

However, Rotherham had served as a policy analyst for the Taxpayers’ Alliance since 2009, and would become “director of special projects” for Vote Leave. He was also an adviser to Business For Britain, and had been a research assistant to the ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservative MP, John Hayes [36].

The Taxpayers’ Alliance evidently worked directly with Conservative MPs during this period. Their 2008-09 review alludes to a number of sympathetic Tory politicians, who were active in ‘Eurosceptic’ campaigning; many of whom would later campaign for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

These include Michael Gove, Liam Fox, David Davis, and Daniel Hannan – along with Eric Pickles; though he was among the ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservative MPs to oppose Brexit.

Furthermore, the Taxpayers’ Alliance worked with several of the lobbyists and media professionals who would play a similar role during the EU referendum campaign.

Particularly notable among them were Dominic Cummings, “Guido Fawkes” (i.e. Paul StainesTim Montgomerie, Fraser Nelson, James Frayne, and Ruth Lea – whose lobbying group, Global Vision, had formed a partnership with the Taxpayers’ Alliance at this juncture.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s methodology was equally noteworthy – not least of all, through conducting opinion polls in order to bolster their pressure campaigns.

For instance, their review notes that “Portland PR carries out focus groups and polling for Global Vision and the TPA, showing overwhelming demand for radical change of our relationship with the EU”.

This method of lobbying would be repeated by Business for Britain in September 2013, when pressing the case for a referendum on EU membership; by citing an opinion poll they had conducted among UK businesses.

As an equally distinct forerunner, the Taxpayers’ Alliance proclaimed that a “TPA-ComRes poll” had been conducted, “showing that voters blame overspending” for the recession of 2008; and “see tax cuts as the way out”. This theme would become a cornerstone of their anti-EU campaign, entitled “Stop the EU Rip-Off“.

Moreover, their annual review indicates that to some extent the Telegraph was working in conjunction with the Taxpayers’ Alliance – just as they would with Business For Britain; when it notes that “The Daily Telegraph breaks the MPs’ expenses story, with the TPA leading reaction”.

Further afield, the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s review notes that their personnel were collaborating with American lobbying organisations: Matthew Sinclair had given a speech at the Heritage Foundation; while Matthew Elliot had spoken at the Koch foundation.

These two groups played a key role in funding US-UK corporate lobbying ventures; while Brexit had been openly advocated by the Heritage Foundation, since at least 2005 – and was welcomed by the Koch subsidiary, the Cato Institute [37].

Likewise, under the heading “The TPA believes that radical reform of the public sector is necessary to achieve better services and lower taxes”, the Taxpayers’ Alliance refer to “an authoritative pamphlet on Better Government by Patrick Barbour and Corin Taylor”. This supposedly “launched a campaign which now plays an important part in the public policy debate”. 

Corin Taylor was a research director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance; and would subsequently become a lobbyist for the fracking industry. He is also a member of the steering group for Iain Duncan Smith’s think-tank, the Centre for Social Justice – which would itself collaborate with the Taxpayers’ Alliance, while drafting policy recommendations.

Patrick Barbour, however, was a financial backer of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, along with the Stockholm Network – and had been a donor to the Conservative Party, and Ukip; as well as the Vote Leave campaign, in 2016.

Also mentioned in the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s review was Mark Wallace – who had been a campaign director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance; and would become executive editor of Conservative Home.

Wallace would also help to found the Better Off Out campaign for Brexit. This had been initiated by the Conservative MP, Philip Davies, in 2006; and was comprised primarily of Conservative Party politicians [38].

It was during this period that the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and a similar lobbying organisation called the Bruges Group – which shared many of the same financial backers – began to promote the idea that membership of the European Union was needlessly expensive for Britain.

As the Taxpayers’ Alliance claimed in their review:

“In the past year the TPA has turned its sights on the huge cost of the European Union to ordinary taxpayers. Our ‘Stop the EU Rip-Off’ campaign, launched in partnership with Global Vision”.

This was reinforced when the Taxpayers’ Alliance published an analysis of The Galvin Report, in 2008.

As with the MPs’ expenses-scandal in Britain, this saw the Taxpayers’ Alliance exploit the issue of European Parliamentary expenses, to support their ulterior agenda of reducing public expenditure on social institutions – in order to cut taxes for their backers [39].

Moreover, the Taxpayers’ Alliance alluded to their campaign for preventing EU regulations being imposed on the financial district, in the City of London:

“the EU campaign continues apace. We are already rallying support in the City against the EU’s proposed financial directives, which seriously endanger the hedge fund industry. “

It is therefore clear how extensive and formative a role the Taxpayer’s Alliance played in paving the way for the Brexit campaign, throughout this era.

 

The Common Agricultural Policy: Agribusiness Lobbying

However, the primary focus of the Taxpayer’s Alliance at this point was the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy [40].

In fact, the Taxpayers’ Alliance proclaimed that their lobbying on this issue met with approval from a Labour MP, Caroline Flint; who had been the Minister for Europe at the time.

As they noted in their annual review of 2008-09:

“After releasing our CAP report, then Europe Minister Caroline Flint agreed that ‘the CAP does not serve the best interests of farmers or consumers across Europe. We will use the opportunity of the EU budget review, starting later in the year, to argue for the long-term reform that is needed’”.

Moreover, on 31st March 2009, the Telegraph published an article, which quoted the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s claim that “British families are paying nearly £400 a year in higher food prices and taxes because of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy”. This theme would of course become a tenet of the Vote Leave campaign, in 2016 [41].

The Taxpayers’ Alliance were not alone among ‘Eurosceptic’ groups, in their hostility towards the Common Agricultural Policy. In fact, a number of their peers have lobbied against it – with particular intensity during 2012-13; which was when key reforms were being negotiated [42].

However, these organisations were not particularly upfront about the real cause of their animus.

For instance, Open Europe published several reports on the issue between 2005-12. In 2005, they lobbied for the Common Agricultural Policy to be ended. In 2007, they contended that developing countries were disadvantaged by it.

In 2012, however, this putative concern was no longer mentioned; and instead of demanding an end to the Common Agricultural Policy, Open Europe called for it to be deregulated. Their pretext for this being that Britain contributes more funding to the Common Agricultural Policy, than it receives in return.

Moreover, while Open Europe were correct to suggest that EU agricultural practices have undermined poorer farmers, especially in developing countries, this is hardly likely to be an an area they genuinely care about.

On the contrary, their overall lobbying efforts are geared towards policies with exacerbate global inequality; and Open Europe have advocated domestic policies which would increase poverty among foreign workers within Britain. Taken together, therefore, their complaints do not really add up.

Likewise, in 2015, the Taxpayers’ Alliance demanded an end to the Common Agricultural Policy – yet they wanted a continuation of the subsidies it grants to British farms; as they called for Britain’s government to “withdraw funding from the CAP and continue subsidies directly for British farmers”.

So, why had these groups been lobbying against the Common Agricultural Policy? It would seem to be due to the system of subsidies it provides to small farms throughout EU countries; along with the environmental measures it applies.

There are several core aspects to the Common Agricultural Policy, as outlined by Corporate Europe Observatory in 2012. These include production-subsidies for farmers – along with a range of “environmental protection incentives to limit the environmental damage caused by industrial farming practices”; which, paradoxically, are often the result of subsidised farming.

These protections are fairly weak, however; and riven with loopholes. The shortcomings of the Common Agricultural Policy in this regard have long been criticized by environmentalist organisations – such as Friends of the Earth, or Greenpeace.

Given that the Taxpayers’ Alliance had wanted to retain the system of subsidies – and Vote Leave campaigners would pledge to maintain them, in 2016 – it seems reasonable to conclude that their hostility was directed at the environmental protections; limited as they are [43].

However, there is another plausible reason, which is consistent with the priorities of these organisations – namely, agricultural-industry lobbying.

A number of US and UK lobbying organisations have called for an to end the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy; and evidently regard this as an opportunity for profiteering among multinational agri-businesses.

For example, as far back as 1990, the Heritage Foundation opined that America wanted “all barriers to agricultural trade removed, all export subsidies eliminated, and all production subsidies substantially reduced”.

As they complained: “opposition to this is led by the twelve-nation European Community”; which “strongly defends one of the EC’s main economic pillars, the Common Agricultural Policy”.

In 2001, the Heritage Foundation again bemoaned the Common Agricultural Policy as an impediment to “agricultural liberalization” – complaining that it was “the single largest sectoral impediment to free trade in the world”.

The focal point of their objection, however, was that it provides a basis for “limiting agricultural imports into Europe”; as:

“the EU claims the right to ban the import of products if there is an uncertainty or the possibility of a health or environmental hazard, even in the absence of scientific evidence to substantiate such claims”.

This revolved around “environmental, food safety, and animal welfare concerns”.

What the Heritage Foundation proposed as a remedy bears a distinct resemblance to the case that would be made for Brexit. Namely, that the US government should “work toward establishing a global free trade association (GFTA) of countries genuinely committed to free trade”.

The Heritage Foundation envisioned this including countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, which would “agree to further liberalize their comparatively free-market economies for mutual benefit”. This “all-encompassing trade strategy” would then “force the EU to rethink any reticence about market liberalization” [44].

In 2003, the Heritage Foundation would again lobby for reform to the Common Agricultural Policy – specifically, demanding an end to the system of subsidies and tariffs it provides. They also wanted to terminate the protection of designated origins.

As outlined in their complaint:

“The EU is seeking to dominate the market for products such as Parma ham by using name protection to hinder producers outside of the region from using terms such as “Parma.” Even names can be trade barriers, and they should have no part in a liberalization agreement”.

It seems fair to conclude that the Heritage Foundation’s overarching aim was to facilitate the sale of US agricultural produce within Europe, at the expense of EU farmers.

 

Corporate agriculture: genetically-modified crops 

One of the authors of this piece was the aforementioned Nile Gardiner; who had advocated Brexit, in 2014. In 2016, he reiterated the demand for a US-UK free-trade area to be formalized.

Furthermore, on 5th October 2017, Gardiner would join with the Conservative MP, Owen Paterson, at a seminar entitled ‘why Brexit is great for the UK and the USA’ [45].

Paterson was at the forefront of the Brexit campaign. He had been appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by David Cameron between 2012-14; and would oppose environmental protections throughout this tenure.

He also lobbied on behalf of agribusiness concerns during his time in office; and one of the companies whose interests he served was the US firm, Monsanto. Paterson opposed the EU’s proposal to prohibit the herbicide, glyphosate – which is sold by Monsanto, as Round-Up weedkiller.

Furthermore, Paterson has campaigned in favour of genetically-modified crops; and opposed the EU’s prohibition of a pesticide, which harms bee populations. In both cases, he had been acting on behalf of the Syngenta company – which has a stake in genetically-modified foods; and had been communicating with Paterson when he lobbied against the pesticide ban.

There is also evidence that Paterson planned to fast-track the planting of “RoundUp Ready GM maize” throughout England, in 2014. The Conservative-led government had been collaborating with the producers of genetically-modified crops on this venture [46].

Andrea Leadsom’s Fresh Start group were involved in this campaign, too; publishing a report called ‘Life Sciences‘ – written by the Conservative MP, George Freeman; with research assistance from Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki.

Fresh Start complained that:

“the EU is developing an increasingly hostile regulatory framework which risks undermining Europe as a hub of biotechnology.
This regulatory hostility to biotech is having its most serious impact in agricultural research, where the EU’s hostility to GM has already led German based BASF and US major Monsanto to announce their withdrawal from Europe in Agricultural Research and Development” (p. 4).

They also referred to a government review; and contended that:

“GM crops were specifically cited as an area where ‘some respondents argued the EU applies a political overlay that disrupts trade and stifles innovation, putting all EU countries at a competitive disadvantage’” (p. 28).

Paterson had made much the same complaint. In 2014 voted to relax EU laws on the introduction of the aforementioned RoundUp Ready GM maize; and proclaimed that:

“this is a real step forward in unblocking the dysfunctional EU process for approving GM crops, which is currently letting down our farmers and stopping scientific development”.

It is notable that Andrea Leadsom would be appointed the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in July 2016. In January 2017, she pledged that Brexit would lead to the end of “EU red tape” within British agriculture; while opining that “agri-tech is where the future of food and farming lies”.

It is not difficult to surmise the interests this would serve [47].

 

Neoliberal agriculture: the Institute Of Economic Affairs & Séan Rickard

There are yet further indications that the hostility of Brexit-campaigners towards the Common Agricultural Policy was being conducted on behalf of the agribusiness industry. 

For instance, the Institute Of Economic Affairs has repeatedly published calls for the Common Agricultural Policy to be either reformed, or abolished altogether.

In February 2012, they issued a self-styled discussion paper, written by Séan Rickard; entitled ‘Liberating Farming From The Cap’.

This paper was highly critical of Oxfam, and the World Wildlife Fund – due to the objections these two organisations had themselves previously made about the Common Agricultural Policy [48].

Rickard complained that the World Wildlife Fund was unfairly critical of “intensive agricultural practices”; and that they made a “sweeping rejection of the many benefits of a modern, technology-based agriculture” (p. 5).

He also bemoaned Oxfam, because they “called for a focus on the productive potential of smallholder agriculture on the basis that ‘…modern agro-industrial farming is running faster and faster just to stand still’” (p. 5).

It is made relatively clear that the Institute Of Economic Affairs were lobbying on behalf of corporate agribusiness, when Rickard continues:

“It is however, industrial-scale farming that is more suited to adopting the scientific advances that are the basis of efficient, productive and sustainable farming” (p. 5).

Rickard demanded the removal of direct subsidies to farms (p. 4), and contended that there is an “urgent need for science and technology” (p. 5). He also advocated “releasing market forces” (p. 13); along with the farming of genetically-modified crops (p. 15).

Moreover, one of of the sources he cited was a press release by Monsanto; called “Industry Leaders Collaborate on Precision Agriculture” (note 51; p. 15). It is therefore clear who stood to benefit from following the recommendations made by Séan Rickard, and the Institute Of Economic Affairs [49].

In fact, Rickard had made this plain in a presentation he gave to a conference, convened by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, in November 2015.

Rickard had called for a programme of “capital intensive sustainable intensification”. That is, high-cost, intensive agriculture; which revolved around “plant and livestock biotechnologies” – such as genetically-modified crops.

He noted that “large scale farms have an advantage”, due to the amount of money this entails; and again advocated ending subsidies provided by the Common Agricultural Policy.

This would evidently eliminate smaller farms in Britain – as it entailed “restructuring to larger scale more productive farms”. It would also facilitate more intensive use of chemicals, as “both farmers and their suppliers would benefit from the UK’s exit from the EU’s long drawn out, opaque system for approving pesticide products”.

However, while Rickard expected a withdrawal from the EU to result in swifter reforms to British agriculture, he evidently did not view the prospect of Brexit favourably.

On the contrary, he forewarned that it would weaken UK agriculture’s lobbying power:

“the claim that leaving means regaining control over policy is perplexing as outside the EU the UK would have to follow the regulations cited as reasons to leave and UK agriculture – with just 1% of GDP – would have to argue its own case compared to the power it now enjoys within the EU”.

Moreover, he had cautioned that “the process of leaving would create at least two years of uncertainty during which competitors eg, Ireland might succeed in attracting food sector investment away from the UK”.

Rickard also suggested that the plan for a free-trade agreement between Britain and the EU, as advocated by Brexit-campaigners, would mean that “unfettered access to the single market is unlikely”. When asked by an audience member about the merits of leaving the EU, Rickard replied “I think it’d be barking mad to leave” [50].

After the referendum, however, Rickard published a further piece for the Institute Of Economic Affairs, in October 2016 – which advocated deregulating rules on food standards, animal welfare, and environmental protections; while repeating the call for investment in genetically-modified agriculture. Other lobbying organisations followed suit.

 

The Adam Smith Institute 

One of these was the Adam Smith Institute, which published a piece, on 9th September 2016, advocating genetically-modified crops. They also published a briefing paper on 24th July 2017, extolling the merits of chlorinated poultry.

This was reputedly set to be imported into the UK under the terms of a free-trade arrangement between Britain and America, once Britain is outside the EU. It is a prospect which has been welcomed by Brexit-campaigners; such as the Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg [51].

These groups evidently wish to fundamentally transform the entire system of UK farming. On 3rd November 2017, the Adam Smith Institute outlined their preferred model for British agriculture.

What they advocated was based on New Zealand’s agricultural system. It is evidently a version which is intensive, and environmentally harmful; and likely to benefit large-scale farmers, while undermining those on smaller farms [52].

Moreover, the Adam Smith Institute has called for the European Union to:

“unilaterally abolish the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common External Tariff so that Britain and other EU countries can trade freely with the rest of the world”.

This, they averred, would “allow producers in developing countries to compete fairly against European producers”. They also stated that if Britain does leave the EU, it should “unilaterally abolish all import tariffs”.

In a report published during August 2017, the Institute of Economic Affairs made an identical demand. Namely, that Britain should “commit to a policy of unilateral free trade with the rest of the world, thereby eliminating all barriers to imports”.

They added that Britain should do this “regardless of whether other countries impose tariffs on their imports from the UK or not” (p. 5) [53].

Criticism of this proposed model for UK agriculture has been made by the National Farmers’ Union. While the Union did not officially take a position on either side of the EU referendum, they were evidently not enthusiastic about the prospects for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

In fact, they published an impact assessment, outlining the potential benefits and problems which might arise for UK agriculture; depending on the type of trade-arrangement Britain secures with the EU, after it has left.

Specifically, they denoted “the trade and farm income effects” of three prospective systems:

1) a UK-EU Free Trade Arrangement (FTA)

2) a WTO default position

3) a UK Trade Liberalisation (TL) scenario

Of particular relevance here, is the situation they predicted would ensue if Britain was to adopt the trade liberalisation scenario; which is evidently the type of agricultural system advocated by the likes of the Adam Smith Institute, and the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

The National Farmers’ Union forecast that this model would result in:

“higher imports of a number of livestock products mainly coming from outside the EU due to the significant price difference between the EU and the UK.

As a matter of fact, UK prices for these products will tend to be lower than in the EU, making it difficult for the EU to be a competitive exporter to the UK” (p. 6).

However, it is likely that this will cause a systemic loss of income for many British farms – particularly within Scotland:

” the UK TL scenario shows the most significant changes. Farm incomes decline in all regions, except for England-East where half of the horticultural farms are located and which are little affected by the reduction of direct income payments” (p. 8)

Moreover, trade liberalisation would have:

“a significant negative impact on farm incomes across all sectors, except for field crops when 100% direct payments is retained. In particular, the grazing livestock (dairy, sheep and cattle) and the pigs and poultry are strongly affected by the price decreases under this scenario” (p. 7)

However, while many farms would suffer a severe loss of revenue, income could be “expected to increase in the horticulture sector no matter the level of direct support” (p. 7). By a striking coincidence, genetically-modified crops are produced by the horticultural sector [54].

The agenda that Brexit was designed to serve thereby was not limited to Britain, however. Instead, it was to be expanded world-wide [55].

 

Bilateral Free Trade Agreements

Numerous Brexit-campaigners have advocated an expansion of bilateral free-trade agreements, once Britain has withdrawn from the European Union. 

The Heritage Foundation, Open Europe, Business For Britain/Brexit Central, the Institute Of Economic Affairs, and Global Vision have all recommended that the UK should sign a series of these treaties – particularly with the United States, Russia, and China; along with Brazil and India.

What these pacts comprise are trade-agreements between one country and another, as opposed to arrangements being negotiated by trading-blocs – such as the European Union; and the South-American regional equivalent, Mercosur.

For example, Business For Britain/Brexit Central published a piece on 25th February 2017, which proclaimed that “momentum is now gathering within EU countries for pragmatism and common sense in framing new bilateral arrangements with the UK”. They had also declared that: “we have an incredible line-up of countries wishing to sign up bilateral trade deals” [56].

Global Vision had been particularly repetitious with their demands for “the UK to break away from the EU’s grip and develop its own bilateral links with friendly nations” (p. 26).

In fact, Ruth Lea and Brian Binley had been writing in 2012; and were among the few Brexit-campaigners to advocate leaving the single market and Customs Union at this juncture.

They had done so for the very reason that Britain would consequently be able to forge type of treaty. Global Vision denoted these as “mainly liberalisation and market opening agreements” (p. 18). This is not quite the full picture, however.

It is not a coincidence that so many neoliberal think-tanks have been lobbying for bilateral agreements – they are a means of imposing greater market-liberalisation on countries; thereby serving the interests of transnational businesses, often at the expense of democratic oversight.

They can also undermine the ability of governments to determine policies in areas such as healthcare; while protecting corporate-investors from legal accountability, should their actions cause harm. They can even permit foreign businesses to sue governments, should their profits be jeopardized by policies.

This model of trade lends itself readily to the privatization of public assets which the aforementioned organisations have lobbied for within Britain. It is also central to the motivation behind their campaign for Brexit [57].

Membership of the EU is not necessarily a counterpart to this system – in fact, the European Union has itself ratified bilateral trade-agreements; and pressurised national governments into privatizing public services.

However, rejecting this framework serves to demonstrate how extreme the form of economic liberalization advocated by neoliberal Brexit-campaigners really is [58].

 

Global Britain 

Despite this underlying reality, a number of individuals affected concern for the well-being of developing nations, in order to support their case for pursuing the most extreme form of Brexit; and to justify an expansion of bilateral free-trade.

For example, on 26th September 2016Brian Monteith of Global Britain opined that if Britain doesn’t “leave the Customs Union and take back our own seat at the World Trade Organisation”, then the UK “would not be allowed to strike the trade deals with emerging nations that can deliver a more prosperous, faster growing economy”.

He also complained that “without growing a single coffee bean, Germany profits more from processing coffee than the whole of Africa does from growing it”; and added that:

“the EU seeks to mitigate the effects of its protectionism with notoriously wasteful aid schemes that often support regimes known to be undemocratic, corrupt and reliant on torture”.

Monteith had published this piece in City AM. In fact, he repeated this refrain the same day, in The Scotsman newspaper; declaiming that due to:

“the combination of the EU’s obscene Common Agricultural Policy and its punitive Customs Union that is designed to protect it, the poorest of nations are forced into a cycle of dependency on foreign aid”.

Monteith contended that Britain’s withdrawal from both the Common Agricultural Policy, and the Customs Union, would permit the abolition of import tariffs; and thereby “give hope to the poorest of the poor that their goods would find a place in the British market”.

He also bemoaned the European Development Fund – suggesting that Britain should “remove all support to the EU aid programme”; and thereafter “administer the funds more efficiently” through the UK’s Department of International Development.

Furthermore, Global Britain issued a press release the following day, suggesting that if Britain remained in the Customs Union, it “would consign millions of people in Africa and Asia to continuing life-threatening poverty and malnutrition”.

This accompanied a report, written by Monteith – entitled ‘Making Aid Work Outside The EU‘; which expanded on these themes [59].

However, it is not plausible that Monteith and Global Britain campaigned for Brexit, in order to remedy the lives of the world’s poorest people; or to liberate them from oppressive governments.

Leaving aside their failure to explain – at any point – how Britain’s departure from the EU would achieve either outcome, evidence indicates that they had a quite different priority in mind.

As with Brian Monteith’s articles, Global Britain’s report notes that Monteith has “worked on government reform in Botswana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Trinidad & Tobago and Tunisia” (p. 28). Suffice to say, the human-rights records of these governments is not exemplary [60].

Moreover, Monteith does not disclose the nature of the consultancy work he performed on their behalf. In fact, there is seemingly no online record of his undertakings.

However, by a striking coincidence, somebody with the name Brian Monteith had written a document for an organisation called Enable Nigeria – which outlined how lobbyists working for private-sector concerns could “influence policy makers”, and create a “better business environment”; particularly when seeking to reduce regulations which were “costly or troublesome” (p. 4).

Enable Nigeria was a project funded by the UK’s Department Of International Development; and implemented by Adam Smith International (along with a business consultancy firm called the Springfield Centre).

As Enable Nigeria’s website notes:

“The programme works to improve the quality and quantity of business advocacy and Public-Private Dialogue in Nigeria, resulting in an improved legislative, policy and regulatory environment for businesses”.

Adam Smith International is, in reality, a subsidiary of the Adam Smith Institute; as clarified by the £16.9 million contract they received for their work in Nigeria.

Adam Smith International has long profited from the aid-work it conducts via the Department Of International Development; an arrangement which evidently results in public-finance generating business for UK firms, rather than remedying poverty overseas.

As reported by Global Justice, Adam Smith International has received £450 million in aid-funded contracts since 2011 (p. 5); and its work involves overseeing the privatisation of public services [61]. 

This seems a more tenable reason for the likes of Brian Monteith and Global Britain to advocate ending Britain’s contribution to the EU aid budget; in favour of re-routing it to the Department of International Development. 

The profit-margins of business are more consistent with their political commitments and personal background, than philanthropy.

Global Britain was founded in 1997 by three peers in the House Of Lords, who have supported the Conservative Party/UKIP. Several of them have been involved in other lobbying organisations.

For instance, one of its founders was Ralph Harris; who was General Director for the Institute Of Economic Affairs between 1957-1987. Equally significant is another of its creators: “Lord Pearson Of Rannoch” – that is, the UKIP peer (and the party’s former leader), Malcolm Pearson.

Pearson remains listed as a “business & political supporter” of Global Britain – along with another UKIP donor, Patrick Barbour. Moreover, Global Britain’s “political advisory committee” consists of four Conservative MPs, who all campaigned for Brexit: Owen Paterson, Dominic Raab, Gerald Howarth, and Peter Bone.

Its “Business and Academic committee” includes Ruth Lea, and John Mills – who has donated money to the Labour Party; and long been involved in ‘Eurosceptic’ campaigns. 

Since the EU referendum, this group have been advocating the most extreme form of withdrawal from the European Union – under the moniker of ‘Leave Means Leave‘; which shares its address with a series of similar think-tanks, such as Civitas [62]. 

 

Extreme libertarianism, big-business interests, and Brexit

There is a larger network behind these efforts, however; which illustrates plainly the interests that Brexit is intended to serve.

Brian Monteith has himself been tangentially involved with the Adam Smith Institute’s activities; through an organisation called the Free Society. This was a campaign group, created by the pro-tobacco lobbying outfit, Forest.

However, it not only involved Eamonn Butler from the Adam Smith Institute; but incorporated members from the Living Marxism network, too [63].

Living Marxism was a magazine, published by the Revolutionary Communist Party – which had been disbanded in 2000, following the loss of a libel case; after it had falsely accused ITV and Channel 4 of fabricating evidence about the Srebrenica massacre.

Its personnel subsequently reformulated themselves as Spiked Magazine, and the Institute Of Ideas.

The Institute Of Ideas was founded by Claire Fox, who supported Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Likewise, Spiked Magazine is edited by Brendan O’Neill; who also advocated Brexit before the EU referendum – and continued to promote it afterwards.

Both had justified this stance on the grounds that their concern was the general public’s well-being. The sponsorship they have received over the years indicates that their priorities are inconsistent with their rhetoric, however – as it comprises a series of multinational businesses; such as Pfizer, and a number of telecommunications companies.

Spiked Magazine has also engaged in anti-environmentalism, and published articles on behalf of agribusiness concerns – specifically advocating genetically-modified crops; or else downplaying controversy surrounding the use of pesticides. This involves American and British lobbyists.

For example, in 2001, Spiked published an article by Alex Avery and Dennis Avery – extolling the merits of “non-organic” foods; and bemoaning “pesticide fear-mongering”.

Spiked denotes the two authors as director and research director of the Centre For Global Food Issues; and omits to mention the fact that this was affiliated with the Hudson Institute. This is a right-wing American think-tank, which has received funding from agribusiness corporations; such as Dow Agrosciences, and Monsanto [64].

All told, this seems an unlikely wellspring of humanitarian concern for the world’s poor.

 

Unilateral Free Trade

What this network of people were actually concerned with is evident from the briefings published by Global Britain/Leave Means Leave; and it bears no relation to altruism.

Instead, it comprises an extreme form of economic liberalisation, of a piece with their overall political commitments. Namely, unilateral free trade. Brexit is the means to that end.

For example, after the EU referendum, Brian Monteith – and his fellow member of the Freedom Association, Ewen Stewart – published a pamphlet for Leave Means Leave; entitled ‘Why our financial services need a clean Brexit: Only leaving the Single Market can deliver greater opportunity for UK financial services‘.

This cast Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as an “opportunity to deregulate domestic financial services” (p. 6) [65].

However, as with Brexit-campaigners who wanted to end the Common Agricultural Policy, Global Britain’s foremost priority was the abolition of import tariffs.

In March 2015, they outlined their “recommended ‘Brexit’ option”, entitled “The Global Britain Free Trade Option” (p. 16); which would see the UK removing “all trade tariffs on imports from other nations, thus becoming the largest free trade economy in the world” (p. 16).

Furthermore, Global Britain claimed this would “ensure that the City of London grows its position as a global financial centre of excellence rather than have further damaging EU regulations and costs imposed upon it” (p. 16).

Moreover, in contrast to their vaunted concern for the material uplift of the world’s poor, Global Britain opined that this approach to Brexit would result in “controlled immigration” (p. 4).

The priority therein would be the interests of UK businesses – as they would be able “to determine the numbers and required skills of those who wish to work in the UK” (p. 17).

Global Britain are not the only Brexit-campaigners lobbying for unilateral free trade, however. In fact, it has had numerous advocates – all from the same nexus of think-tanks, along with their donors; and evidently with identical priorities in mind.

For example, Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute, has repeatedly called for Brexit to deliver unilateral free-trade: in May, August, and October 2017, respectively [66].

Likewise, in October 2017, Tim Martin – the owner of the Wetherspoons pub-chain, and a financial supporter of both Open Europe, and Vote Leave – followed suit: pressing the case for unilateral free-trade, on his pub website.

However, there is a more concerted aspect to this particular lobbying effort. The Bruges Group think-tank published a paper in 2016, which advocated “unilateral free trade” and the “unilateral abolition of tariffs” (p. 8).

They opined that the repeal of the Corn Laws by Robert Peel, in 1846, was a precedent which had resulted in both a “massive increase in demand for foreign agricultural produce”; and “a truly global trading network which in turn facilitated and supported Britain’s financial services sector” (p. 8). This saw import tariffs on foreign corn being rescinded.

It also decimated UK agricultural prices, resulting in widespread unemployment, loss of wages, and poverty throughout rural areas. Its impact was combined with the Poor Law Amendment Act, enacted in 1834; which had introduced punitive Workhouses. Suffice to say, the Bruges Group neglect to mention these aspects of the history.

However, what they did make clear was their wish to see Britain’s membership of the EU end, in order to facilitate free-trade arrangements with America and China. Presumably with a repetition of Britain being inundated with foreign agricultural produce; in return for being granted leeway to exploit the American and Chinese financial sectors.

Moreover, the Bruges Group has the same political commitments as Global Britain; and they share a number of its personnel, and sponsors. Most significantly, however, it is advised by Patrick Minford – who was an economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

Minford is arguably the key figure behind this particular aspect of the Brexit lobbying campaign [67]. 

 

Economists For Free Trade

Patrick Minford is the head of Economists For Free Trade; and he has repeatedly advocated the most extreme form of Brexit, in order to pave the way for unilateral free-trade.

A number of the organisations who follow suit have either cited Minford in support of their case; or else published articles by members of Economists For Free Trade [68].

For instance, in August 2017, Policy Exchange published a report called Farming Tomorrow; which called for Britain to abolish tariffs on food imports, after leaving the European Union. Its principle author was Warwick Lightfoot – who is listed as a member of Economists For Free Trade.

Moreover, the Brexit Central website has published articles by Kevin Dowd, in August 2017; and David Paton, in September 2017. The two authors both advocated unilateral free-trade policies; and are listed as members of Economists For Free Trade.

Other individuals involved in Economists For Free Trade have followed suit: Roger Bootle published an article in the Telegraph, during February 2017; making the same call for unilateral free trade. Likewise, Graeme Leach had claimed that there was a “moral dimension” to “unilateral free trade”, in City AM, during September 2016 [69].  

 

Deregulating the City Of London

What this network of people wanted was no different to Global Britain; and had been clarified implicitly, in a paper published by another of their members – David Blake – during May 2017.

In his introduction, Blake contends that the City Of London’s financial sector “should encourage the government to support the overseas expansion of UK financial services in the fastest growing regions of the global economy”.

The primary means of achieving this would be through “bilateral trade agreements with emerging financial centres, such as Hong Kong and Singapore” (p. 60).

Quoting the City Of London’s lobbying organisation, the City UK, Blake notes that this would be supplemented via “deepening ties with European companies” – notably “companies”, not countries; along with “old friends like the United States and Japan, and new markets like China and India” (p. 64).

Blake’s reference to establishing arrangements with Hong Kong and Singapore was derived from a Centre For Policy Studies bulletin, which merely asserted the point. However, in contrast to Blake’s suggestion, the City UK had wanted Britain to retain access to the European Union’s single market.

Nonetheless, Blake goes on to say that “Brexit also opens up the opportunity for the City to escape from the clutches of both the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and EU regulators and hence enhance its competitive position relative to continental financial centres” (p. 61).

That is, Britain can end regulations identified by Blake, such as the “bankers’ bonus cap“, which was introduced in 2013 to curb high-risk activities; along with the “Working Time Directive” – which limits the number of hours somebody can be required to work per week.

According to Blake, Brexit would also enable Britain to prevent the “proposed financial transactions tax“, and end “the Market Abuse Regulation“; along with the “Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive” – which is intended to regulate hedge funds (pp. 61-62).

Blake reaffirms his case by quoting Nigel Lawson; who claimed that deregulation of the kind “which we demonstrated in the 1980s” offers “the prospect of the greatest economic gain” (p. 64).

This was clearly the top priority which Brexit might enable, in Lawson’s view. As he stated, it: “is entirely in our own hands, and not a matter of negotiations with others. That is what we need to be focused on now” (p. 64).

Lawson had been Chancellor of the Exchequer for Margaret Thatcher; and it was his deregulation of London’s financial sector, in 1986, which ultimately paved the way for 2008’s financial crisis. This itself had prompted the EU regulations which Lawson and his peers cited to justify leaving thee European Union.

Evidently, Lawson, Blake and their peers not only want to revert the City Of London to its deregulated model, and trade with countries like America and Japan on that basis – but wish to extend this system internationally, to the “new markets” of China and India.

What they are aiming to achieve via Brexit is an extreme liberalisation of the financial sector, on a global scale – which Blake advocates under the banner of a “world financial sector” model (p. 78).

Likewise, Blake quotes the Conservative peer, Howard Flight, of Global Asset Management (pp. 64-65); who had been a participant in a Financial News Brexit Panel. Several of its members had opined that Britain could be transformed into a “super Singapore”, once it has left the EU.

In fact, numerous Brexit campaigners have advocated turning Britain into a replica of Singapore – such as, Owen PatersonBoris Johnson and Michael Gove; and Patrick Minford, who included it with China and New Zealand as economic entities for Britain to emulate.

Suffice to say, Singapore is a repressive police state. While it has a disproportionately high concentration of very wealthy people, it is also marked by extreme levels of inequality, and poverty.

This is evidently the type of society which these particular people wish to see Britain turned into, as a consequence of leaving the EU. There is evidence for this throughout various commentaries published by Patrick Minford, and his peers.

 

Patrick Minford 

During October 2016, Minford was quoted in The Sun, claiming that once Britain has withdrawn from the European Union, the City of London “will undoubtedly thrive, growing by £20bn over the next ten years’” (p. 80).

This is not the only time Minford has suggested that Brexit would prove lucrative for Britain. In August 2017, he claimed that Brexit would see Britain gain £135 billion per annum.

However, in November 2017, Economists For Free Trade claimed that leaving the European Union would only “boost the economy by £65 billion a year”. The same month, Minford published a piece on Brexit Central, which downgraded this further still to “around £60 billion a year”.

Likewise, various Brexit campaigners – often citing Minford – have put the figure at different amounts. For example, Better Off Out claimed that Britain would gain “a minimum of £90 billion a year”.

Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute repeated the £135 billion figure. Ukip’s Trade spokesman, William Dartmouth MEP, put it as high as £190 billion.

John Longworth of Leave Means Leave was slightly more conservative with his estimate; and suggested it would be £156 billion per year.

Equally inconsistent are Patrick Minford’s claims about the trade and consumer benefits that Britain would supposedly gain as a result of leaving the European Union. In April 2016 he was quoted in a Reuters article claiming that:

“by leaving the EU and unilaterally scrapping tariffs on imports of food and manufactured goods, Britain would be able to reduce average prices by 8 percent”.

In May 2016, however, Minford suggested that leaving the EU would see manufacturing and food prices “fall 10%”.

In September 2017 this figure had doubled to 20%, as once Britain was outside the European Union, it would supposedly be able to end “variable levies that collectively raise the price of food by around 20 per cent and well above this for some foods” (p. 7).

Likewise, in June 2017, Minford published an article in The Conservative Online; which claimed that “EU tariffs are as it happens rather low – around 3.5 per cent on manufacturing industry”.

Yet in May 2016, he bemoaned “the problem of EU protectionism”, which saw manufacturing subject to a “c 20%” tariff. In March 2016, he had put these figures at 10%.

A number of economists have faulted Minford for making what they saw as basic errors – but while his commentaries are contradictory, there is a pattern to them nonetheless; which indicates that he was attempting to misinform people. As before, the same is true of other Brexit campaigners who have cited his output [70].

For instance, Minford has claimed that Britain’s manufacturers will benefit from Brexit, while acknowledging elsewhere that this is untrue. In March 2017, he stressed that leaving the EU would make UK manufacturing “much more profitable than before over the short and medium term”.

A year beforehand, however, Minford had published an article in The Sun; which stated that “over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing” throughout Britain. It went unsaid by Minford that this is estimated to terminate approximately 2.68 million jobs [71].

Moreover, Minford has cast British farmers as victims of the European Union – yet also portrayed them as a vested-interest group; who make unfair profits from the EU, at the expense of the British public.

In the March 2016 article he published via The Sun, Minford avowed that Brexit would ensure “we’d stop listening to French farmers and instead the UK would help struggling farmers in our own country”.

In September 2016, however, he suggested that the “Brexit referendum can be understood as a battle between UK producers and UK consumers”. That is, between farmers – amongst others – “who gained directly” from EU funding; as opposed to “general householders”, who consequently “paid the higher prices or the extra taxation” for goods.

Similarly, despite the centrality of the financial district’s interests to the case Economists For Free Trade made in favour of Brexit, both Minford and David Blake were deprecatory towards the City Of London when it proved opportune.

Minford had, of course, claimed that the City Of London’s banks would “gain massively” from leaving the EU (p. 4); yet suggested that their opposition to Brexit represented “simply the prosecution of vested interests”, which “had nothing to do with the UK’s national interest” (p. 52).

Meanwhile, David Blake complained that “following the Referendum, the City has become full of whiners concerned only about their own interests” (p. 9) – but quoted Minford proclaiming that “London is the financial capital of the world”; along with his aforementioned reference, that once “free from the shackles” of the European Union, “it will undoubtedly thrive, growing by £20bn over the next ten years” (p. 81).

 

Unilateral Free Trade and International Agribusiness

Suffice to say, this series of claims does not add up. In fact, the issue of farming is arguably the most illustrative of these cases. It demonstrates the falsity of the Brexiters’ contentions – but it also unveils one of the key purposes which unilateral free trade is actually intended to serve.

For example, the Brexit campaign group – Better Off Out – claimed that “if Britain left the EU”, the “levels of government support to British farming would be unaffected, and might actually rise as the UK contributes more to the CAP than it receives back”.

They also suggested that the National Farmers’ Union “and other groups” would be “lobbying British ministers attuned to British interests, not remote bureaucrats in Brussels more interested in Spanish olive growers”.

They added that the Common Agricultural Policy is “great for Europe as a whole allowing for cheap crops but hurting Britain’s ability to compete in the market”; concluding that the EU’s “farm subsidies are not helping British farmers”.

However, Better Off Out is a front group for the Freedom Association; which had itself published a report by Patrick Minford – claiming the exact opposite. Namely, that crops are expensive, as “one key cost of being in the EU is our inability to trade freely at world prices”.

According to Minford, this is because “our exports to the EU face subsidised prices”; and “because our importers must pay elevated prices for all goods imported from the EU and from elsewhere that are protected by the EU customs union” (p. 16).

In other words, British farmers are not disadvantaged by this system; and it protects their prices within Britain from cheap imports. This was a point which the National Farmers’ Union had made in criticism of the unilateral free trade model proposed by Minford et al.

In August 2017, the Union’s president – Meurig Raymond – had specifically named Minford (along with the Institute Of Economic Affairs, which Minford is affiliated with); and stated that:

“I have grave concerns over the implications for British food production. Under the scenarios they advocate, British farming would be severely damaged as cheaper imports are allowed in while British exports remain subject to high tariffs abroad”.

Patrick Minford clearly knew that this scenario would unfold as a consequence of unilateral free trade. In August 2017, he stated plainly that “if we reduce our trade barriers on imports” then “we reduce the prices of imports to consumers” (p. 4); and that:

“under global free trade, we would cease to levy these food tariffs and our farmers’ prices would fall to world levels. They would export their food to the world market at these lower prices” (p. 7).

This scenario would not benefit British people, any more than it would help farmers, however; as it would undermine employment both within farming, and in factories which process the UK’s agricultural goods.

A report published by the Resolution Foundation and the UK Trade Policy Observatory, in October 2017, estimated that “overall, 1.4 million people are employed across all the sectors that could be affected” (p. 6).

These jobs would clearly be placed in jeopardy by the model of trade advocated by Brexit campaigners [72].

So why have Minford – and the network of campaigners he is affiliated with – advocated leaving the EU, in order to pursue this agenda? The reasons have been clarified by Minford himself.

He was criticized by both Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron, during the Prime Minister’s Questions session, of 11th May 2016. Corbyn had denigrated Minford’s proposal to deregulate the City Of London – and turn the UK into a tax haven – once Britain has left the European Union.

By contrast, Cameron had faulted Minford for wanting “to see manufacturing industry in our country obliterated”; and declaimed that “it would be a disastrous step if we followed the advice that he gives”.

It is Minford’s response to this criticism which reveals the interests that Brexit and unilateral free trade are intended to serve.

In September 2016, Minford clarified that he welcomed “the elimination of protection”, which “would in turn eliminate low-value manufacturing”. That is, what he deemed to be “metal-bashing done much more cheaply in the Far East” (p. 8).

This scenario would align with the commercial interests of big-business owners such as James Dyson, who is listed as an adviser to Economists For Free Trade; and had campaigned for the most extreme form of Brexit.

Dyson’s goods are manufactured in South East Asian countries, such as Malaysia. He has also lobbied for Britain’s government to reduce corporation-tax; and to weaken employment laws, once Britain has left the EU. Brexit and unilateral free trade are intended to facilitate these aims.

Moreover, while Minford acknowledged that “the WTO-free trade effect” would damage British farming and manufacturing, he also claimed it would cause “other industries” to expand (p. 42). It is not stated what “other industries” referred to herein.

Nonetheless, Minford indicates the reality in a piece he published via the Institute Of Economic Affairs, during February 2016 – when he claimed that leaving the EU would “enhance the shift of the UK economy away from manufacturing into service industries”; and “reorientate our economy towards the service activity” (p. 140).

What are the service industries in question? Again, Minford doesn’t elaborate. However, in one his article for The Sun, published during March 2016, he had referred to “a service such as marketing or finance”. Along with “advertising, law and education”; and “PR” – that is, public relations.

It seems reasonable to conclude that the primary concern here was financial services, such as banking; due to the extensive lobbying efforts conducted in the interests of the financial sector by Economists For Free Trade.

It is also unlikely to be a coincidence that so many of the group’s members and advisers have a commercial stake in a variety of financial services. The same can be said of Global Britain – along with many similar organisations, whose personnel stand to benefit from their clients gaining access to markets in China, India, and America [73].

 

Biotech Lobbying

This fundamental transformation of Britain’s economy was evidently not intended to benefit its populace. Instead, it is set to enhance the profiteering of major businesses. As before, the issue of agriculture proves especially indicative.

In August 2017, Minford suggested that once Britain departs the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy “our farmers still can be supported as required; but they will need to raise productivity and switch crops to gain the greatest efficiencies” (p. 7).

This is a euphemistic suggestion that British farms should become larger, and more intensive; while being concentrated among fewer owners.

The references to switching crops would also seem to revolve around the introduction of genetically-modified produce, once Britain has left the EU.

This is indicated by a piece Minford published in 2003; which complained that the “EU will be isolated from the downward pressure on world prices brought about by the global productivity boost as a result of GM crops” (p. 81).

He had also opined that the Common Agricultural Policy “isolates the EU from productivity increases in GMO-adopting regions through flexible import tariffs.” (p. 81).

Furthermore, in 2003, Minford envisaged this being of benefit to US agribusiness; as ending the Common Agricultural Policy “would greatly increase” agricultural imports into the EU: particularly American and Canadian dairy products, and crops (p. 86). Brexit was evidently intended to achieve the same outcome.

Likewise, in 2017, Minford opined that Britain’s adoption of unilateral free-trade “would cause immense damage to EU interests” (p. 4); and pressurise them into adopting a similar arrangement.

This, of course, aligns with the stated aims of US lobbying groups, such as the Heritage Foundation; who wish to turn the European Union into a deregulated free-trade zone, which can then be inundated with cheap – and poor-quality – American agricultural goods [74].

According to another piece published by Minford, unilateral free-trade would also enable “competitive public procurement” – that is, organisations can buy goods and services at low cost; while “guaranteeing full legal protection for foreign direct investment” – such as “intellectual and other property rights” (p. 5).

In other words, the profiteering of transnational businesses would be accelerated; then guaranteed, in law [75].

 

Exploiting Developing Nations

However, unilateral free-trade is also intended to facilitate corporate exploitation of developing nations, in the same manner; as made plain by its advocates – whose pretexts echoed the likes of Brian Monteith, in feigning concern about poverty in foreign countries.

For example, writing in City AM – during July 2016 – Ryan Bourne suggested that Britain has a “moral duty” to pursue “unilateral free trade”. Specifically, that “the UK should remove all tariff and other trade barriers, allowing British consumers to import goods from all over the world without constraint”. 

However, Bourne is currently employed by the Cato Institute; having previously worked for the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre For Policy Studies.

In 2006, Cato had themselves advocated “unilateral trade liberalization” for the United States; and their case was indistinguishable from the argument made by Patrick Minford:

“Unilateral liberalization will bring better opportunities for U.S. business, greater choice and lower prices for consumers, and greater opportunity for the developing world to partake of the benefits of the global economy”.

Moreover, they cited the recommendations of “Professor Bhagwati” – that is, Jagdish Bhagwati: a long-standing proponent of unilateral trade liberalisation; who has had articles, essays, and speeches published by the Institute Of Economic Affairs [76]. 

 

The Institute Of Economic Affairs

It is not a coincidence that people affiliated with the Institute Of Economic Affairs have been lobbying for Brexit to deliver an extreme form of liberal trade. This organisation has itself been calling for the removal of import tariffs, on the premise of supposedly helping poorer countries.

In 2010 the Guardian published a briefing by the Institute Of Economic Affairs, announcing their report on Fairtrade – which claimed that “multinational companies such as Starbucks, Kraft and Nestlé do more for developing-world coffee farmers than the Fairtrade Foundation”.

However, it also complained about “the Fairtrade Foundation’s refusal to accept child labour and genetically modified technology”; suggesting that protections against these “represent ‘the whims of western consumers’ rather than the needs of farmers”.

Suffice to say for present purposes, the Institute Of Economic Affairs’ hostility towards Fairtrade is that it runs counter to free-market profiteering by transnational businesses; as it requires standardised prices, employment rights, and environmental protections [77].

However, the Institute Of Economic Affairs’ report was written by Sushil Mohan; who would publish another piece for the organisation, in 2012. Both of these documents advocated “agricultural trade liberalization” – that is, the wholesale abolition of tariffs; along with the removal of “non-tariff barriers”.

The 2012 report makes clear what, precisely, these people had in mind. It was not intended to promote human welfare. It would instead open-up developing nations to the exploitative commerce of agribusiness companies; and evidence suggests that this is part of a broader agenda [78].

The Institute Of Economic Affairs’ press-release, accompanying their 2012 report, outlined a series of  supposed “non-tariff barriers” to trade – namely, “health and safety regulations”, along with “labelling schemes such as fair trade and organic”; and “environmental standards, such as those relating to palm oil exports”.

In fact, the Institute Of Economic Affairs has lobbied on behalf of the palm oil industry – which is notoriously damaging to rainforests; and has often profited from of the coerced expropriation of land.

 

International Policy Network 

There is further evidence that the Institute Of Economic Affairs advocates unilateral free-trade on behalf of multinational agribusinesses – specifically, corporations which produce genetically-modified goods.

In 2015, they published a report called ‘Brexit: directions for Britain outside the EU‘ – which specifically states their aim of weakening environmental protections; and “regaining regulatory control over genetically modified (GM) crops” (p. 26).

There is a wider network behind this campaign, however. The Institute of Economic Affairs’ 2012 report alludes to research, created by the Initiative For Public Policy Analysis (p. 19/p. 28).

This is a free-market think-tank, based in Nigeria – whose advisory board includes Linda Whetstone. Whetstone is a trustee at the Institute Of Economic Affairs; and a director of the International Policy Network, along with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Both of these groups engage in anti-environmental lobbying; and have been recipients of funding from Exxon. They are also connected to similar American lobbying outfits – including Cato, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation [79].

They are linked to a further organisation, however, called the Sustainable Development Network – which has promoted genetically-modified agriculture, under the guise of reducing poverty in developing countries.

One of its founders is Kendra Okonski – who has worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and has lobbied on behalf of Monsanto’s genetically-modified cattle treatment.

Another group within this nexus is the Liberty Institute – a free-market think-tank, based in New-Delhi, India; which has campaigned on behalf of genetically-modified crops – specifically, Monsanto’s cotton. Its seeds were sold extensively throughout India; to the detriment of local farmers [80].

These organisations are evidently lobbying for the benefit of transnational businesses – not on behalf of poor farmers, or the general public, in developing countries. It is these commercial interests that bilateral free-trade agreements, and Brexit, are ultimately intended to serve.

This is confirmed by the Institute Of Economic Affairs’ 2012 report, which complains about the EU’s “rules of origin and rules relating to traceability” (p. 4).

That is, regulations covering food safety-standards, along with proof of the nationality for goods; which are designed to reduce risks to public health, in international trade.

Furthermore, the Institute Of Economic Affairs bemoaned the “onerous” combination of “such rules with preferential trade agreements” (p. 4).

These arrangements permit farmers producing goods outside the EU, to export their produce into European Union countries, with either reduced costs – or without having to pay tariffs – provided they meet ‘rules of origin’ criteria.

They are purposely intended to benefit developing nations. They are not free from shortcomings, however – and there have been criticisms made of them by organisations, such as Oxfam, in 2007.

In fact, as with the Institute of Economic Affairs, Oxfam had been critical of “the plethora of non-tariff barriers that continue to impede access to rich-country markets” (p. 3). Yet, it is precisely the proliferation of free-trade which Oxfam objected to – on the grounds that it often proves exploitative.

Specifically:

“Rich countries are using these bilateral and regional ‘free trade agreements’ (FTAs) and investment treaties to win concessions that they are unable to obtain at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where developing countries can band together and hold out for more favourable rules” (p. 2).

Oxfam also noted that “these agreements seek to benefit rich-country exporters and firms at the expense of poor farmers and workers”; and that:

“the worst of the agreements strip developing countries of the capacity to effectively govern their economies and to protect their poorest people” (p. 2).

For instance, the “rules on liberalisation of services” within these free-trade agreements can “drive local firms out of business, reduce competition, and extend the monopoly power of large companies” (p. 3).

This method of trade also incorporates intellectual property rights, which results in an increased cost of medicines, for example; while expanding the foreign-ownership of public assets and financial services within poorer countries (p. 2).

These outcomes had all been expressly advocated by the neoliberal think-tanks, lobbying for Brexit. It is evidently the reason why they wish to increase this model of trade [81].

Moreover, in direct contrast to the Institute Of Economic Affairs, Oxfam contended that “radical tariff liberalisation” imposed by free-trade agreements jeopardizes “the livelihoods of small farmers”. It also prevents “governments from using tariff policy to promote manufacturing” (p. 3).

In sum:

“the overall effect of these changes in the rules is to progressively undermine economic governance, transferring power from governments to largely unaccountable multinational firms” (p. 3) [82].

This prospect has been reaffirmed by Unicef; who have been equally critical of free-trade agreements which eliminate tariff-protections. As they note, there is a major imbalance of power between U.S. agricultural producers, and farmers in poorer countries.

This is particularly significant, due to an expansion of US-UK agricultural trade being a key priority for so many Brexit-campaigners. Eliminating tariffs – and inundating poorer countries with American goods – causes a major decline in prices; and thereby, a significant loss of income among farmers in developing nations.

The consequences of this have been exemplified in Mexico. As UNICEF reported, the North American Free Trade Agreement resulted in Mexico’s agricultural sector being opened-up to foreign competition. As a result “farmers cultivating traditional crops faced intense competition from U.S. exports”.

It is noteworthy, therefore, that the likes of the Institute Of Economic Affairs, and Cato, have bemoaned anti-dumping regulations – which are designed to curb the practice of inundating poorer nations with cheap produce created by wealthy countries.

It is equally notable that Brexit-advocates, such as Global Vision, have suggested that Britain should join the North American Free Trade Agreement [83].

It is estimated that 1.7 million Mexican agricultural workers lost their jobs after this Agreement came into effect. While it did create employment opportunities in other sectors, a significant proportion of these were insecure positions, providing extremely low wages; as reported by the Women’s Edge Coalition

This did not prove particularly beneficial for American workers, either. Instead, it established a means for U.S. businesses to relocate production overseas, to countries where workers could be exploited – before importing their goods back into the United States; resulting in major job-losses among American citizens.

 

The upshot of Unilateral Free Trade

This explains why corporate lobbying organisations, and Brexit-campaigners, have been calling for an end to import tariffs: it is evidently not intended to provide a material uplift for the world’s poorest inhabitants.

Instead, the aim is to further enrich its wealthiest people. It will not merely come at a cost for foreign countries, however; but jeapordise the livelihoods of many people within Britain, as well.

Unilateral free-trade would cause a drastic reduction in the prices of UK goods – leading to widespread unemployment, and reduced incomes. The system of deregulation proposed by leading advocates of Brexit, would create a low-wage economy; and be combined with few meaningful employment rights, or environmental protections.

It would, however, create opportunities for transnational corporations – such as agribusinesses, who want to farm genetically-modified crops within Britain; or those British companies with a commercial stake in importing cheaply manufactured goods, at low cost.

Likewise, Britain’s financial district would be able to conduct its trade as it had done prior to the financial crisis of 2007-08. This system would be extended internationally, via a series of bilateral free-trade agreements with countries such as America, India, and China; along with much poorer African nations.

It would generate lucrative returns for British financial services – along with companies which stand to profit from public resources in developing nations being privatised.

This is the most plausible reason why Brexit-campaigners such as John Redwood, Ruth Lea, and Leave Means Leave, have advocated trading internationally via the World Trade Organisation: in order to force this system of corporate monopolization onto foreign governments; devoid of even the minor safeguards against these practices, which EU membership entails.

This is what unilateral free-trade really amounts to [84].

 

 Brexit lobbying: the Legatum Institute

In July 2016, Economists For Free Trade pressed the newly appointed Prime Minister, Theresa May, to embrace their vision for Brexit; and pursue “a global Britain”, devoted to unilateral free-trade.

Likewise, in October 2016, the Legatum Institute and the Centre For Social Justice jointly published a collection of essays, which advocated much the same arrangement.

This included contributions from seven Conservative MPs, who had actively campaigned for Brexit – such as Owen Paterson, John Redwood; and the Centre For Social Justice’s founder and chairman, Iain Duncan Smith.

Despite echoing their peers, by simulating concern for people living in poverty within Britain, these essays made plain that this venture is intended to serve the profiteering of multinational businesses.

For instance, their call for Brexit to result in “reducing or eliminating tariffs on goods typically imported from developing countries” (p. 21) is clearly of a piece with the lobbying efforts of Patrick Minford et al [85].

In fact, one of the authors was the Conservative MP, Peter Lilley; who recommended a variation of the proposal made by “Economists for Brexit” (p. 21) – which was the moniker adopted by Economists For Free Trade, during the EU referendum campaign.

However, personnel from the Legatum Institute had also contributed several essays to this collection. Legatum have been lobbying the government to pursue the most drastic form of departing from the EU; and even created a Special Trade Commission in July 2016, to facilitate this – evidently with some success [86].

The Legatum Institute’s commissioner, Crawford Falconer, was appointed Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser by the government’s Department For International Trade, in June 2017.

The Department For International Trade was itself seemingly created at the suggestion of the Legatum Institute’s director of economic policy, Shankar Singham – who had contributed to the Legatum/Centre For Social Justice’s collection of essays.

Singham specialises in overseeing economic liberalization – such as privatising public utilities; something which his consultancy firm, Competere Group has undertaken, internationally.

He has also been involved in the creation of “Enterprise Cities” – that is, “geographic zones within a country that operate under government-approved free market-oriented charters”, as the Heritage Foundation phrase it. These seem to amount to the outsourcing of local government services, to businesses.

This would also appear to be the type of outcome that Singham wants Brexit to deliver. His essay in the Legatum Institute/Centre For Social Justice publication calls for the creation of a “prosperity zone” (p. 36).

This would be formed around “a commitment to open trade, competition on the merits and property rights protection” (p. 36) – while “aggressively opening up markets for its core industries” (p. 37); and maximising “market access and contestability for Britain’s very strong services industry” (p. 38). Agricultural subsidies would also be abolished (p. 37).

Singham further recommended eliminating the “precautionary principle” (p. 39) – which is designed to protect public health and the environment, from potential harm.

Moreover, he suggested that Britain could join the Trans-Pacific Partnership – as long as it is “truly a Free Trade Agreement, without labour and environmental provisions that are distortive” (p. 37). It is clear, therefore, that this mode of trade is intended to bring maximum profit to multinational companies.

Singham makes this explicit, when he demands “higher level property rights protection than exists in any existing free trade agreement”, and “comprehensive investor-state dispute” (p. 36).

This is the aforementioned mechanism which allows businesses to sue governments, when their profits have been adversely affected by policy.

It is equally significant that the Legatum Institute appointed Matthew Elliot from the Taxpayers’ Alliance/Business For Britain as a Senior Fellow in January 2017 – primarily to focus on the “progress and possibilities of a UK-US trade deal”.

Moreover, another member of Legatum’s Special Trade Commission is Alden Abbott – who is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Legatum also feature several former Conservative Party personnel in senior positions – including Philippa Stroud, who worked as a special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, when he was the minister of the Department for Work and Pensions; along with Alastair Masser, who has served as an adviser to several Conservative MPs.

The Legatum Institute also conducts meetings with government ministers; and is thereby actively involved in shaping the outcomes of Brexit, to favour the interests they serve.

These include the City Of London Corporation, which has funded Legatum’s efforts after becoming a member of the think-tank in March 2017. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the Legatum Institute has put the interests of the financial district at the forefront of their campaigning since that juncture [87].

However, as with Economists For Free Trade, the Legatum Institute have pressed the government to pursue a strategy of “Global Britain“: that is, commit to a system of unilateral free-trade [88].

Given their proximity to members of the government, it is not surprising that the Legatum Institute’s rhetoric coincides with that of the Prime Minister.

 

How lobbying is reflected in government policy 

The network of Brexit-supporting lobbyists, donors, think-tank personnel, advisers, and Conservative MPs became more powerful after Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, on 25th July 2016.

Several were assigned to cabinet positions – particularly in the fields of trade, agriculture, and foreign affairs; along with the new, specially dedicated Department for Exiting the EU.

At the Conservative Party’s annual conference, in October 2016, May announced her “ambitious vision for Britain after Brexit” – namely, “Global Britain”.

This consisted of the same tenets as those advocated by Patrick Minford/Economists For Free Trade, Business For Britain, Global Vision, the Legatum Institute; and the lobbying organisation, Global Britain.

These outfits had all campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union in order to terminate EU regulations, such as food-safety rules; and to apply business-orientated controls over migration.

They also wanted Britain to pursue free-trade agreements with Commonwealth nations; along with countries such as America and China.

Likewise, May intoned that Brexit would deliver:

“a Britain in which we pass our own laws and govern ourselves. In which we look beyond our continent and to the opportunities in the wider world. In which we win trade agreements with old friends and new partners. In which Britain is always the most passionate, most consistent, most convincing advocate for free trade”.

More specifically, Britain’s government would “have the freedom to make our own decisions on a whole host of different matters”; such as “how we label our food”, and “the way in which we choose to control immigration”.

In January 2017, May reiterated this plan for a “Global Britain”; and announced her intention to end “the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain”.

This had been called for by Vote Leave – as one of the demand’s progenitors, Owen Paterson MP, boasted during his speech to the Heritage Foundation.

In contrast to the Brexit campaigners, May had pledged to protect workers’ rights, after withdrawing Britain from the EU. In-keeping with their duplicity, however, she has consistently voted to weaken employment regulations, while in office.

Moreover, May appointed Liam Fox and Priti Patel to Ministerial offices; when they have both called for an end to the supposed burden of workplace-protections, provided by membership of the EU.

May had also stated her intention to withdraw the UK from the EU’s Customs Union; so that Britain would be “free to establish our own tariff schedules at the World Trade Organisation”.

It seems reasonable to conclude that this was intended to pave the way for unilateral free trade. It did not go quite to plan, however.

May initiated Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, by ratifying Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, in March 2017; restating her ambition to create “a truly global Britain”. In April 2017, she announced that a General Election would be held; having previously ruled this out.

It was widely expected to result in an overwhelming victory for the Conservatives – whose ministers reputedly wanted a “snap election”, in order to eliminate any meaningful Parliamentary opposition to their Brexit plans.

Instead, the General Election backfired; and deprived the Conservative Party of a governing majority [89]. 

 

Post-General Election 

Nonetheless, even after the General Election, the political commitments of Theresa May’s administration have corresponded to the framework of policies lobbied for by Brexit-campaigners.

For example, on 24th June 2017, Liam Fox and Priti Patel extolled the merits of using Brexit to eliminate tariffs on goods produced in poor countries – supposedly with a view to mitigating poverty overseas; and reducing consumer prices within Britain. 

On the 27th June 2017, Patel would provide a clear indication that Britain’s government wanted UK Aid to promote public-private partnerships – that is, outsourcing public services in developing nations, to private-sector investors; including “British firms”.

Likewise, in July 2017, Theresa May announced a £60 million programme of support “to help Africa integrate into global financial markets” – which, as it should happen, “paves the way for a strong partnership with the City of London, creating more opportunities for London to become the finance hub for Africa”.

Moreover, government ministers have continued to arrange problematic trade agreements, on behalf of multinational companies. 

In Brazil, during 2016-17, Greg Hands and Liam Fox – both Ministers in Britain’s Department For International Trade – have worked to secure contracts for Shell and British Petroleum, to extract Brazilian oil resources.

In March 2017, Hands had reportedly also promoted “energy-related Prosperity Fund projects to interested Brazilian commercial partners”. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the Brazilian government had previously announced its intention to privatise state assets.

In fact, the Prosperity Fund was created in November 2015, as part of the UK Aid strategy to improve “the business climate, competitiveness and operation of markets, energy and financial sector reform” in foreign countries; and to “create opportunities for international business, including UK companies”. This, of course, would be facilitated through bilateral trade agreements [90].

However, government ministers have also outlined policies which align with the Brexit-campaigners’ plans for Britain itself.

On 4th January 2017, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Andrea Leadsom – announced that her department would end “EU red tape”; such as the “ridiculous, bureaucratic three-crop rule”.

The Brexit campaign group, Better Off Out, had complained about this rule in one of their briefing documents, making the case for leaving the EU. It was also cited by the Business For Britain subsidiary, Farmers For Britain – who bemoaned “red-tape and ill thought out initiatives like the Three Crop Rule” [91].

However, in June 2017, Andrea Leadsom was replaced by Michael Gove; who, like Leadsom, had campaigned for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

In their report, Farming Tomorrow, Gove’s former think-tank – Policy Exchange – had called for the government to “phase out direct subsidies for agricultural production and income support” (p. 8).

Thereafter Policy Exchange wanted the government to redirect this funding “towards protection for natural and public goods” (p. 8); as well as to research and development, in order to “boost innovation and the sector’s long-term productivity” (p. 8).

Policy Exchange published this report on 21st July 2017. The same day, Michael Gove announced that farm-subsidies would be reformed, with a view to encouraging “good environmental practice”.

Furthermore, in October 2017, Gove announced that the replacement system would focus on “enhancing the environment”, and “supporting innovation”.

Policy Exchange had also suggested that these reforms would result in “freed-up land that can be used for housing or commercial development” (p. 8). Gove echoed this, forewarning that farmers will need to cede land to house-building, after Britain leaves the EU.

There is evidently a correlation between government policies, and the demands made by organisations which campaigned for Brexit, hereby. This is not limited to the issue of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, however; nor is it restricted to the Conservative Party.

 

Cross-party lobbying 

British governments of all political hues have long been receptive to similar campaigns – often run by the same organisations; which were equally determined to influence policy in favour of the commercial interests they serve.

One of the core aims of Brexit-campaign groups was to use the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union as an opportunity to turn Britain into a low-wage economy – deprived of employment, social, and environmental protections [92].

They also wanted to end public services, in order to fund tax-cuts; and to create lucrative opportunities for certain private-sector businesses – both within Britain, and abroad.

Yet this is a societal model which these organisations have long lobbied for, irrespective of the EU referendum; and governments have frequently proven amenable to their demands. 

For example, the Institute Of Economic Affairs was created in order to press the case for Britain to be turned into a low-tax society – in which healthcare, state schools and other public services are privatised; while social security is severely reduced. It therefore helped to form the framework of policies applied by Margaret Thatcher’s governments [93].

As noted, one of the Institute Of Economic Affairs’ trustees is Patrick Minford – who has demanded “greater decentralisation, competition and privatisation” of the National Health Service (p. 1); along with the imposition of “market disciplines” on schools (p. 13). He also served as an adviser to Thatcher.

Brexit-campaigners, such as Nigel Lawson, have made it clear that they regard leaving the European Union as an opportunity to “finish the Thatcher revolution”. That is, taking these policies of privatisation, deregulation, and corporate-profiteering to their fullest extremity [94].

Yet, even while Britain has been a member of the European Union, public assets have been continuously privatised, under a succession of Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat administrations in government.

Both advocates and opponents of Brexit have overseen the privatization of transport, prisons, detention centres, the probation serviceutilities, the postal service, healthcare, universities, schools, social care, and the social security system [95].

 

The political foundations of Brexit 

This has occurred primarily through public-private partnerships, in which governments contract private companies to undertake public services, on a profiteering-basis.

Politicians of all governing parties have overseen this programme – including those who would occupy the respective forefronts of both the Leave and the Remain campaigns, during the EU referendum.

For example, Michael Gove oversaw the increased marketisation of state schools, during his tenure as Minister of the Department for Education, from 2010-14. This revolved around granting businesses the opportunity to profit from managing Free Schools, removed from any local-authority oversight.

In fact, one group which campaigned for these reforms is the Parents And Teachers For Excellence campaign, set up by Rachel De Souza and Jon Moynihan; and supported by representatives of private companies, who stand to benefit from the Free-Schools/Academies programme.

This did not begin with Gove, or the Coalition government’s administration, however. Instead, it was derived from an identical programme of transforming comprehensive schools into academies, which were withdrawn from Local Education Authority regulation; and sponsored by private companies.

This was initiated by Andrew Adonis; while working as an adviser to Tony Blair’s Labour government. It was implemented by Alan Johnson MP, who was serving as the Secretary of State for Education and Skills – and who would lead Labour’s official campaign to remain in the EU.

There is evidently a clear alignment between the political commitments of Gove, Moynihan, Adonis, Johnson, and Blair – to privatise public assets, for the benefit of private business concerns. Yet whereas Gove and Moynihan campaigned for Brexit, Blair, Johnson, and Adonis opposed it [96].

The same dynamic is illuminated by policies to privatise the National Health Service; which have also been overseen by Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative governments.

This has long been advocated by many of the organisations who would campaign for Brexit – such as the Centre For Policy Studies, the Adam Smith Institute, and the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

David Cameron had held a meeting with the lobbying organisation, Nurses For Reform, in 2009; which had of course been pressing for the NHS to be privatised. This is an objective shared by Patrick Minford.

Yet despite their similar intentions to privatise the National Health Service, Cameron and Minford would find themselves on opposite sides, over the issue of Brexit [97].

Likewise, Richard Branson has profited from the privatization of NHS hospitals; but opposed Brexit. He is also reportedly a financial-supporter of a lobbying group, created to prevent Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

This is led by Alan Milburn, who served as a Labour Minister under Tony Blair; and oversaw NHS-privatisation, before taking employment with Price Waterhouse Coopers – which itself profits from outsourcing healthcare to private companies [98].

However, Milburn had served on the Conservative government’s Social Mobility Commission – but would resign in December 2017; ostensibly in protest at Brexit detracting from progress on social mobility.

Several weeks later, Andrew Adonis resigned from his role, as chairman of the government’s Infrastructure Commission; likewise, objecting to Brexit.

The EU referendum evidently put this congregation of think-tanks, lobbyists, and MPs at cross-purposes; despite the close alignment they otherwise have in common.

In fact, even the agenda behind withdrawing Britain from the European Union is shared, to a significant extent, by several of its most high-profile opponents.

For example, Economists For Free Trade advocated Brexit, in order to pave the way for world-wide, bilateral free-trade agreements. Yet, while the Labour peer – Peter Mandelson – had opposed Brexit, he has clearly been sympathetic to the economic agenda it is intended to fulfill.

In 2006, Mandelson was serving as the EU’s Trade Commissioner; and announced that the European Union should pursue what the European Commission’s press-release described as “ambitious bilateral agreements that drive forward global liberalisation”.

Mandelson had himself stated that he wanted these free-trade agreements to apply “across the full range of sectors. Not just goods, but services, non-tariff barriers and rules on issues such as investment, competition and public procurement as well”.

He also wanted “an open and ambitious approach to bilateralism that drives forward the dynamic of global liberalisation”. Moreover, Mandelson intoned that:

“opening a market to trade is not just about lowering tariffs – it is about creating markets in which foreign companies – European companies – get a fair deal, with freedom to compete and legal protection when they do” [99].

There is a very obvious parallel between this framework, and the unilateral free-trade scheme outlined by Brexit-campaigners. In fact Mandelson had also overseen privatisation of public services, within Britain – such as outsourcing lucrative aspects of the Royal Mail, during 2009.

 

Anti-migration politics: a rhetorical precursor to the Brexit campaign?

It seems reasonable to conclude that the likes of David Cameron, Tony Blair, and Peter Mandelson – amongst others – were left unable, or unwilling, to make a compelling case against the economic model advocated by Brexit-campaigners, because they subscribed to it themselves.

This is reaffirmed by the fact that Brexit-advocates have repeatedly attempted to manipulate public opinion, through advancing false claims about migration; which their counterparts have done, likewise.

For example, in May 2016, the Vote Leave campaigner and Conservative MP, Iain Duncan Smith, claimed that EU “immigrants undercut UK workers”. In June 2016, Smith was quoted in The Sun, complaining that “we have seen a 50% rise in immigration, which means around a 10% fall in wages”, due to membership of the EU.

Several other Vote Leave campaigners, including Boris Johnson – and the former Labour MP, Gisela Stuart – reiterated this suggestion that migration from the EU resulted in reduced wages for British workers [100].

In reality, these politicians were misrepresentating data published by a Bank of England official in 2015; which indicated that the impact was minimal.

The National Institute Of Economic And Social Research concluded from the Bank Of England’s report, that the impact of migration on the wages of unskilled British workers “since 2004 has been about 1 percent, over a period of 8 years” [101].

This did not stop Theresa May repeating the same claim at the Conservative Party conference of 2016, that migration resulted in a loss of wages among Britons. She had engaged in similar rhetoric, including hostility towards migrants and asylum seekers, the previous year.

As before, however, this is another issue which many high-profile opponents of Brexit have helped to embed in mainstream political discourse; thereby leaving them in a weak position to oppose the rationale for departing the European Union.

For instance, David Cameron had repeatedly exploited anti-migrant sentiment, for political ends. He opined in 2013 that migration into Britain was “uncontrolled”, and placing pressure on public services; with people arriving in the UK to “take advantage of our generosity without making a proper contribution”.

Cameron also suggested that “net migration needs to come down radically from hundreds of thousands a year, to just tens of thousands”. This would lead to him announcing curbs on the provision of social security to EU migrants, on 18th December 2013; despite the fact that these restrictions already existed.

The same day, The Sun lobbied for the repatriation of powers, on its front-page:

The Sun, 18th December 2013.

It cited an opinion poll conducted by Yougov, which suggested that the majority of Conservative voters (and Ukip supporters) thought “the ability to limit immigration from other European Union countries” was “of the upmost importance”; and that “Britain should only agree to a renegotiation if we get this” (p. 2).

Cameron would legislate for an official cap on migration, in 2015; which proved untenable. In 2016, he attempted to secure further reductions to social security for EU migrants, as a pre-condition for campaigning to remain in the European Union during the referendum. These policy-changes were not achieved, either [102].

This was a case of David Cameron pretending that a problem existed, then failing to provide a solution. Cameron’s failure would be cited by his equally disingenuous counterparts, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – along with Nigel Farage – as proof that Britain needed to withdraw from the EU, in order to regain control over migration policies [103].

Much the same holds true for the Labour politicians – Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Alan Johnson, and Andrew Adonis. For example, as reported by The Sun in February 2016, Mandelson bemoaned the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn; who had criticised David Cameron’s attempt to undermine benefits for EU migrants.

As Mandelson complained, Corbyn:

“dismissed out of hand what the prime minister is doing in relation to migration. I happen to believe that people in this country don’t want to pull the drawbridges up actually.

But they do want a fair system. They don’t want a free for all, they don’t like this sense that people can come here and take us for a ride.”

Likewise, the former Labour MP – Michael Dugher – was quoted in the same article; lamenting “the negative consequences that large-scale unskilled EU migration has had on many of Britain’s traditional working class communities” [104].

This, of course, was the same rhetoric deployed by Brexit-advocates before, during, and after the EU referendum – particularly through the pages of tabloid newspapers; which advertised Brexit as the means to remedy “mass immigration and social breakdown”, as the Daily Express phrased it, in September 2016 [105].

For example, in 2014, Ukip had exploited public anxieties about the impact of European migration on employment opportunities for Britons.

Ukip Poster (2014)

During the EU referendum campaign, the Ukip leader – Nigel Farage – would repeat much the same motif.

Ukip poster (2016)

Evidently, therefore, opponents of leaving the European Union have helped to perpetuate myths about migration, which were then exploited by Brexit-campaigners.

In fact, this tendency continued after the referendum. In the wake of the Brexit-vote, a number of Labour Party politicians who had opposed leaving the EU, began to demand controls on immigration; despite the fact that these already exist.

Likewise, Peter Mandelson responded to its outcome, by making a series of demands for a restricted migration system, which echoed the rhetoric of Brexit-campaigners.

Andrew Adonis followed suit, advocating “EU membership without freedom of movement in respect of right to work and right to reside for all EU nationals”.

More pointedly still, Tony Blair repeatedly called for Brexit to be reversed; on the grounds that migration from the EU could be restricted while Britain remained within it. This was of course denounced by Brexit-campaigners; whose cynicism equaled Blair’s own [106].

In September 2017, the former Ukip MEP – Steven Woolfe – derided Blair as “hypocritical to talk about ‘control’ in the context of immigration when he failed to do exactly that for many years”.

Similarly, Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers – The Times and The Sun – both published articles at the same juncture, disparaging Blair’s announcement for being belated [107].

In reality, Blair had overseen a number of inhumane migration policies while he was Prime Minister; and had himself exploited anti-migrant rhetoric – particularly during the General Election of 2005, when the Conservative Party, under Michael Howard, had itself campaigned on a pledge to restore control to Britain’s migration system.

Conservative Party General Election Poster (2005)

Nonetheless, writing in 2017, Andrew Adonis claimed that “the immigration issue” had been all but ignored by Blair’s government. Far from ignoring it, however, between 1997-2007, Blair’s Labour governments had passed four migration-related Parliamentary Acts; and the issue had a section devoted to it in Labour’s 2005 manifesto (pp. 51-53) [108].

The same year, Blair had given a speech in Dover; which focused on asylum and immigration. This was clearly intended to counteract the Conservative Party’s electioneering, on the same theme. Its content was also equally vulgar in places.

However, in his 2005 speech, Blair contended that:

“we know we have to tighten the asylum system further. I also understand concern over immigration controls. We will put in place strict controls that work”.

Yet Labour’s 1997 manifesto had stated that “every country must have firm control over immigration and Britain is no exception”; and added “the system for dealing with asylum seekers is expensive and slow”.

This perhaps foreshadowed David Cameron, in pretending that a problem existed; then failing to provide a solution.

Nonetheless, it is evidently not tenable to claim that Blair’s administration ignored the subject of migration. On the contrary, they had repeatedly attempted to exploit it for political gain.

The opportunism of Blair and his peers, in their response to the EU referendum, was derided by Spiked Online; which declaimed that “the pro-EU brigade’s support for immigration” was “little more than a virtuous veneer painted on to the technocratic reality of the EU”.

This is evidently true enough for some; yet Spiked have themselves made the same vacillations – advocating unrestricted migration from Eastern Europe in August 2006, yet bemoaning the “pro-migrant lobby” in September 2015; and claiming that EU migration was inimical to Britain’s working class in August 2017 [109].

Nor were Spiked the only supporters of Brexit who have contradicted themselves on this issue. Patrick Minford’s response to the EU referendum result called for a new system of restricted migration, in order to mitigate the “depressed wages imposed on poor communities by unskilled immigrants who pay little or no tax”.

Perhaps predictably enough, elsewhere Minford had advocated a continuation of large-scale migration – specifically, “untrammelled labour mobility, competition and flexible labour markets”. Along with tax-cuts, of course.

Therefore, despite the fact that immigration is integral to the economic model which they support, both advocates and opponents of Brexit have espoused anti-migrant rhetoric when it suited their political purposes [110].

It would not be fair to say that anti-migration rhetoric led directly to Brexit; as public attitudes towards immigration are complex – and tend to fluctuate.

What is in evidence, however, is the weak position that opponents of Brexit placed themselves in, through adopting exploitative approaches to the issue of migration.

This conundrum was epitomised by Alan Johnson, and Stuart Rose. During the EU referendum campaign, Johnson would object to suggestions made by Brexit-campaigners, that migration puts pressure on public services – which is the opposite of what he said in 2009.

Slightly different, but equally indicative, was a statement made by Stuart Rose to the Treasury Select Committee on 2nd March 2016; which had been cited by Brexit-advocates, to support their case that the free-movement of EU workers lowered wages.

This was not an accurate surmise of Rose’s words; yet it was nonetheless a fair reflection of his previously stated views. How could he then refute the allegation with any conviction?

Much the same holds true for David Cameron – who was ultimately the figurehead of the Stronger In campaign. The Conservative Party’s manifesto of 2015 had featured a lengthy segment on the subject of “Controlled immigration that benefits Britain” (p. 29-33).

The document’s pages were even underscored with the mantra “cutting your taxes, making welfare fairer and controlling immigration”; and despite noting that “immigration brings real benefits to Britain” (p. 29), the Conservative manifesto continued:

“immigration must be controlled. When immigration is out of control, it puts pressure on schools, hospitals and transport; and it can cause social pressures if communities find it hard to integrate.” (p. 29).

What was the implication of this, other than to suggest that migration posed a serious problem for Britain; and that the Conservative-led government had failed to solve it during their five years in office?

 

Why did opposition to Brexit prove so ineffective?

High-profile Remain-campaigners have evidently contributed to the political framework which was exploited by Leave-campaigners, during the referendum. This can also be said of the European Union itself, to a significant extent.

It has a long-standing record of enacting policies detrimental to the public interest, yet lucrative to business concerns; and this seems to have placed some opponents of Brexit in a tenuous position, from which to prevent a more extreme version of the same agenda.

In fact, the European Union’s more damaging policies were often cited by Brexit-campaigners, to support their case.

For example, in July 2015, Daniel Hannan bemoaned the severe austerity measures imposed upon Greece by “Eurocrats”; even though he advocated a continuation of austerity policies within the UK, during July 2017.

While there was no sincerity to Hannan’s overall position, it was nonetheless true that the European Union has caused harm to people within Greece, in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis.

During 2009, austerity policies were imposed by the Troika – that is, the European Bank, and European Commission; working in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund.

It resulted in a public health-crisis among Greeks – with suicides increasing exponentially; and severely-ill patients being frequently deprived of medical care.

Suffice to say, this evidently created a degree of ambivalence towards the EU; even for people like Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned for Britain to remain a member of it.

Moreover, the European Union is no more free from the corrupting influence of corporate lobbying, than Britain. On the contrary, the European Parliament is the world’s most intensively lobbied government body.

Not only has the EU often failed to curb problems, such as international tax havens – but it has also pressed national governments to privatise state assets.

This was exploited cynically by advocates of leaving the EU; as demonstrated when the Daily Express proclaimed, in May 2016, that a leaked document from Brussels “revealed the NHS will be killed off if Britain remains in the European Union”.

The point at issue here was the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, between the United States and the EU. While the Daily Express’s claim was not particularly truthful, it was not entirely inaccurate either.

As outlined by Full Fact, this trade agreement was ambiguous; and was intended to facilitate profiteering among multinational companies.

It was of course hypocritical for Brexit-campaigners to bemoan the potential privatisation of the National Health Service, when this was something they themselves supported.

For instance, in March 2016 the Ukip leader – Nigel Farage – opined that remaining in the EU would result in the NHS being privatised; yet Ukip has repeatedly demanded its replacement with a private health-insurance scheme.

Nonetheless, it indicates the problem that both left-wing and right-wing opponents of Brexit faced. Those who supported the Brexiter’s extreme free-market agenda could not make an honest account of its demerits – and were unable to claim convincingly that the EU was meritorious, when they had spent many years decrying it.

Equally, those who opposed the radical neoliberalism espoused by Brexit-campaigners, were tasked with defending membership of the EU – which has not proven entirely distinguishable in its policies [111].

A contrary viewpoint here would be to suggest that Brexit-advocates were simply more effective campaigners than their counterparts. Evidence does support this, to a fair extent.

Public opinion did not favour Brexit when the EU referendum campaign began. In fact, support for remaining in the European Union had increased over the course of the preceding months.

Yet there was a major change of voter-intention during the weeks of May-June 2016; resulting in the Leave camp taking a lead in the polls. Clearly, therefore, their campaigning had an impact.

Moreover, ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying predated the EU referendum, by many years; and consequently there was a vast body of pre-existing literature and briefing notes, devoted to the key issues which were central to the case for Brexit.

These organisations had also benefited from decades of widely-believed myths about the EU; which had been promoted extensively by UK media outlets.

There have been conflicting claims made about that role that Britain’s media played, however. For example, a series of posts published by the London School Of Economics claimed that the media left people misinformed; and, conversely, that it provided them with accurate information.

Perhaps more plausibly, the former Green Party leader – Natalie Bennett – suggested that many voters felt “confused, poorly informed”, and “frustrated at the quality of the debate they are hearing around the EU referendum”.

While Bennett suggested that this was not entirely, or even primarily, the media’s fault; it had nonetheless failed to provide a corrective – and instead focused overwhelmingly on internecine tensions within the Conservative Party.

In the foreground of this was the rivalry between David Cameron and Boris Johnson – who were figureheads for the two official referendum campaigns: Stronger In, and Vote Leave.

Between the two, Johnson enjoyed a higher level of public trust; which is liable to have been a factor behind increased support for the campaign to leave the EU once he began to lead it [112].

Yet, there was little – if any – substance to the claims being made by Brexit-campaigners. For instance, it was public knowledge that Vote Leave were misleading people, with their flagship claim that EU membership cost Britain £350 million per week.

This was also applicable to the official case for remaining in the EU – as advanced by David Cameron and George Osborne. Their claim that household disposable income would be £4,300 lower as a consequence of Brexit, was deemed a misrepresentation of matters by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, in May 2016.

However, Boris Johnson was known to have opposed Brexit, then supported it; within a short-enough time-frame to indicate that his change of position was opportunistic.

This was put beyond doubt in October 2016, when it was revealed that Johnson had written an unpublished article, endorsing Britain’s continued membership of the EU [113].

A similar point can be made about the level of credibility that high-profile supporters and opponents of remaining in the EU held: Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, David Cameron, and the former Liberal Democrat leader – Nick Clegg – were renowned for their falsity, and incompetence.

Yet the same is equally true of the most prominent advocates of Brexit. Boris Johnson had made a number of racist remarks in public, for instance; while the likes of Iain Duncan Smith – and Chris Grayling – had overseen welfare reforms, which caused severe levels of harm to disabled and unemployed people [114].

Therefore, while both Leave and Remain campaigners made misleading claims about the realities of departing the EU, it is still questionable why more people placed faith in the arguments made by Brexit-campaigners.

The explanation is likely to be an admixture of all the aforementioned factors: from the crude but simple soundbites of Leave campaigners’ output – to long-standing popular prejudices; or misplaced trust, and a lack of clear information.

Yet what was found by Ipsos Mori to be the primary concern at issue for the voters who favoured leaving the EU, was immigration.

This was reaffirmed by NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey, conducted in 2014; which found that “opposition to membership of the EU is particularly high among those who are concerned about immigration” (p. 1).

According to a subsequent report by Ipsos Mori, what underscored this outlook was a belief that migrant workers deprived Britons of jobs. There has never been any substantive evidence to support this notion.

Why then were people susceptible to believing otherwise? Why did it take precedence over the prospect of Brexit resulting in increased unemployment?

It seems implausible that Brexit-advocates could have successfully exploited myths surrounding this issue, had it not been for so many politicians and journalists placing it in the foreground of political discourse; and depicting it as a cause of social problems, for so long.

Likewise, the success of the lobbying effort behind Brexit was not unprecedented. Instead, it reflects a continuation of unaccountable and undemocratic influence upon government, on behalf of commercial interests.

In large part, this has been a consequence of business-backed think-tanks influencing political decision-making; in order to create opportunities for their financial supporters to profit from public resources.

Moreover, the personnel of numerous lobbying organisations have frequently been appointed as advisers to government ministers; who have themselves often taken paid positions with businesses – whose profiteering they had facilitated while in office.

This has clearly created an inter-relationship between business and government; with numerous politicians serving private-sector interests, regardless of the public’s well-being. The practice of misinforming people, in order gain popular support for this scenario, is one long-standing aspect of these efforts.

There is another, however. The fulcrum of the Brexit-campaign was a US-UK lobbying network, which wanted to weaken the European Union; and transform it into a deregulated free-trade zone, from which British and American corporations could profit. This agenda was shared by a significant number of high-profile figures, including many who opposed Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

It was evidently this corruption of mainstream British politics which Brexit emerged from. The same politicians who helped to create these circumstances were unable to counteract them during the referendum campaign; which indicates plainly why their opposition to leaving the EU proved inadequate.

The referendum itself was an outcome of this dynamic.

 

Why was the referendum held? 

It has been suggested that David Cameron pledged to conduct a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU, in response to a surge of support for Ukip, during 2012 – which seemed liable to take votes from the Conservatives; and result in them losing office to Labour.

While this is likely to have been a factor behind Cameron’s decision, it is not the whole story. There was evidently a more compelling determinant than electoral prospects at work – namely, lobbying.

In 2011, pressure had begun to be put on David Cameron by ‘Eurosceptic’ politicians, including a number of his own colleagues – when a cross-party group of backbench MPs began to call for an in/out EU referendum; creating an astroturfing campaign, called the Peoples’ Pledge [115].

While the website devoted to this no longer exists, the pledge in question was quoted approvingly by a Ukip Member of the European Parliament, in April 2011:

“I will only vote at the next election for a candidate who publicly promises to support a binding referendum on our EU membership and to vote for it in the House of Commons”.

However, the Peoples’ Pledge itself had been created by Stuart Coster, and Marc-Henri Glendening; along with Mark Seddon and John Mills.

Mills is the owner of the consumer products company, JML; and has been a major financial donor to the Labour Party. He would campaign for Brexit, in 2016; as the chair of Labour Leave.

Seddon is a journalist; and had been a member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee at the time.

Coster and Glendining were both involved in a ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying organisation, called Democracy Movement – which was derived from a merger of several anti-EU campaigns, during 1998.

The Democracy Movement evidently enjoyed the support of Labour and Conservative Party MPs – including Graham Stringer, and Gisela Stuart; who would both join Vote Leave, and advocate Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union during the referendum [116].

In April 2012, the Guardian reported that 64 MPs had signed the Peoples’ Pledge. 11 of the signatories were Labour MPs; including the chair of the Backbench Business Committee, Natascha EngelThis committee provided the lobbying effort with even more substantive representation within Parliament [117].

On 24th October 2011, it passed a motion in support of holding an EU referendum; which resulted in a House of Commons debate, the same day.

The motion was defeated; but as the BBC noted, it saw “the largest rebellion against a Tory prime minister over Europe” – when 81 Tory MPs defied their party whips, and voted in favour of holding a referendum.

This clearly put David Cameron under pressure to conduct a referendum – as presumably did the opinion polls being published in the media, simultaneously; which indicated that 70% of the public wanted a vote on EU membership – and that most favoured leaving the European Union.

So why had the Backbench Business Committee facilitated this lobbying campaign for a referendum? The answer perhaps lies in its membership.

In June 2010, the election of members for the House of Commons Backbench Business Select Committee concluded; resulting in a number of ‘Eurosceptic’ MPs being installed.

Natascha Engel was one; but others included the Conservative MPs Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone, and Philip Davies. These three Tories had belonged to an informal grouping of ‘Eurosceptic’ backbench MPs; who exploited the Backbench Business Committee to promote their agenda.

Moreover, in June 2012, another member of this group – John Baron – would organise a letter signed by 100 Conservative MPs; again demanding a referendum on EU membership.

On 15th May 2013, the speaker in the House of Commons – John Bercow – permitted an amendment to the Queen’s speech, on behalf of Baron. This proposed for MPs to express “regret that an EU referendum bill was not included in the Gracious Speech”. It would not pass a Commons vote.

Nonetheless, Cameron was faced with the prospect of 100 MPs rebelling against him – and, according to the BBC, he therefore “side-stepped and announced the Conservative Party would back a private member’s bill to hold a referendum by 2017”; ensuring that Cameron “was cornered into a referendum promise, which became a key plank of his 2015 election manifesto” [118].

However, it had been several months beforehand – in January 2013 – that Cameron announced a referendum would be conducted on Britain’s continued membership of the EU, if the Conservatives were re-elected in 2015.

In fact, the Conservative Party had introduced its first European Union referendum bill to Parliament, in May 2013; which had been proposed by the MP, James Wharton, as a private members bill.

This reputedly met with David Cameron’s approval – but the bill was not passed by Parliament, and was seemingly deferred; before being replaced with the EU Referendum Act of 2015 [119].

While this had been pledged in the Conservative Party manifesto of 2015, it was ratified after the General Election of May 2015; and secured with votes from the Labour Party – as instructed by its acting leader, Harriet Harman.

Clearly Ukip’s supposed electoral threat was not an issue at that juncture – for either Labour or the Conservatives; as Ukip had made no gains in the General Election. In fact, they lost one of the two Parliamentary seats which they had won in byelections, during 2014 [120].

Moreover, as far back as 2008, David Cameron had pledged to conduct a referendum on the EU Treaty of 2008-09. Ukip were immaterial at this point: polling at 3.1% of the national vote, in the General Election of 2010. This was a minor increase on the 2.6% it gained in 2005.

In fact, in 2008, Cameron had opined that his aim was to repatriate power from Brussels to Britain; and that while he did not support leaving the EU, the Conservatives were “not happy with the status quo and there are some things we want to change”.

Therefore, despite eventually opposing Brexit, Cameron’s own priorities clearly foreshadowed both the themes – and the pretext – for the EU referendum of 2016. There was yet another factor at work, however [121].

In 2010, the Taxpayers’ Alliance began to press the government to “hold a referendum on fundamental renegotiation of the UK-EU relationship”; contending that there was “no chance of this happening (sadly)”. The organisation included this demand in a manifesto they published, prior to the General Election of 2010 [122].

The Taxpayers’ Alliance reiterated their call to “hold a referendum on fundamental renegotiation of our relationship with the EU”, and to “start EU Reforms” (p. 25) in their annual review of 2009-10.

Both of these entreaties would ultimately be granted by David Cameron. Not only did Cameron pledge to hold an “in-out referendum”, but he had stated in 2013 that “we are starting to shape the reforms we need now”; with an overriding aim to “entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek”.

This centered on “a new Treaty” which Cameron hoped would “enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain”. Therefore, the aim was not merely to secure favourable concessions for Britain; but to thereby fundamentally reform the EU.

It is clear from this speech how closely David Cameron’s sentiments were aligned with the ‘Eurosceptic’ groups, who would lobby for Brexit. For example, Cameron opined that he wanted a “drive towards global free trade”.

He also complained that there was “not enough focus on controlling spending and shutting down programmes that haven’t worked”; and that there needed to be less bureaucracy.

Furthermore, Cameron declaimed that “we must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one size fits all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration”. His overall call was for “an updated European Union”; which was “more flexible, more adaptable, more open”.

Two months later, in April 2013, the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s front-group, Business For Britain, called for “a flexible, competitive Europe, with more powers devolved from Brussels”; on the basis that this was “essential for growth, jobs and access to markets”.

They did not merely call for the Conservatives to support this, but wanted “all political parties to join in committing themselves to a national drive to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU”.

This had been the principle aim of Open Europe, as well; who had been contending that “the EU must embrace radical reform based on economic liberalisation, a looser and more flexible structure, and greater transparency” since 2006.

They were echoed in 2007 by Global Vision – who would bemoan the EU’s “increasing regulations and costs for British business, which are now an impediment to creating the dynamic, flexible economy we need to succeed in the 21st century”. Further contending that “if Britain is not to be held back, our only option now is to negotiate a new, looser arrangement with the EU”.

Moreover, in 2015-16, Cameron would repeat Open Europe’s demand – made in 2014 – that in-work benefits should be reduced for EU migrants within Britain; as a precondition for opposing the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

He would also make much the same ultimatum as ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbyists: namely, that if the EU did not grant Britain the reforms his government were demanding, he would support the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union [123].

These demands and complaints would become the premise of the case for Brexit. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that Cameron was lobbying for the same set of objectives as his counterparts; regardless of the different positions they would adopt during the EU referendum campaign itself.

What they had wanted was concessions from the EU, which would favour the profiteering of British businesses – and especially the City of London’s financial district.

Cameron failed to secure these; and thereby lent credence to the case being made for Brexit – namely that the EU was “incapable of reform“; and Britain should consequently withdraw from it.

The referendum would seem to have rebounded on the Leave campaigners, however, just as much as it had on David Cameron.

 

Has the EU referendum backfired on its advocates?

In contrast to the bullish prophecies made by advocates of Brexit, a series of impact assessments have estimated that withdrawing from the EU will prove damaging to Britain’s economy [124].

For example, on 1st June 2016, the International Monetary Fund published its report on the implications of Britain withdrawing from the European Union.

Despite its own long-standing history of advocating economic liberalization, the International Monetary Fund was highly critical of the unilateral free trade scenario, proposed by Patrick Minford; and adjudged its supposed benefits to be implausible [125].

It predicted that Britain’s “reduced trade access” to the EU “would cause a permanent reduction in the level of output”; and that this would be “worsened by associated disinvestment, productivity reductions arising from lessened trade” (p. 27).

Moreover, if it was accompanied by “restrictive inward migration policies” then “labor shortages and mismatching” would ensue (p. 27). This was estimated to result in the industries of “hospitality, food and drink, and construction” suffering particularly adverse effects (p. 28).

This would not generate increased employment – or wages – for low-skilled Britons, as Brexit-campaigners had suggested. Instead, reduced trade with the European Union would cause “firms to reduce investment and lower real wages” (p. 29); while unemployment would increase dramatically (pp. 31-33).

The intensive deregulation advocated by Economists For Free Trade, and others, is unlikely to mitigate this circumstance; as:

“the UK is comparatively deregulated already, and productivity problems in the UK are more to do with skills, infrastructure, and planning problems than regulatory burdens associated with EU membership” (p. 27).

Likewise, any direct “fiscal saving from leaving the EU” – and no longer contributing to its budget – would be outweighed by the fall in revenue arising from the “loss of trade income (and, potentially, lower productivity)” (p. 28).

Consumer prices would not fall, either, as Minford and his peers had averred – but increase, due to “exchange rate depreciation” (p. 33); resulting in losses to household incomes.

There have been indications since the referendum result was announced that this estimation will be borne out.

In November 2017, it was reported by the London School Of Economics that food prices had increased since the referendum, as a consequence of inflation. By contrast, wages have stagnated.

Also in November, it was announced that both the European Medicines Agency, and the European Banking Authority, would relocate from London to Amsterdam and Paris; resulting in the loss of c. 900 jobs within Britain.

The same month, the local council authority in Cornwall reported a significant decline in the number of EU migrant workers, following the referendum; resulting in crops remaining unharvested.

One of the serious political problems engendered by withdrawing from the EU came to light in December 2017, however – when the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, clarified that the issue of Northern Ireland’s border had to be resolved before trade-talks would commence.

This posed a dilemma for the UK government, as its plans for leaving the Customs Union – and thereafter pursuing unilateral free trade – were not compatible with the EU’s demand to prevent the introduction of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

Theresa May had initially proposed an ambiguous solution, which was rejected on the 4th December 2017 by the Conservative Party’s coalition partners, the Democratic Unionist Party.

While the Legatum Institute had proposed in September 2017 that Britain’s government should impose a ‘hard’ border within Ireland – and monitor it with airships and drones; on 10th December 2017, Theresa May would instead concede to the demands made by the European Union – evidently to the dissatisfaction of several Brexit-campaigners [126].

This problem had been predicted before the EU referendum – yet no contingency plan had been put into place by the government, or the Secretary Of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers; who had herself campaigned for Brexit.

In fact, it seems to have received no substantive consideration from Brexit-campaigners at any point prior to the Autumn of 2017. For instance, concerns about the unique complexity of Brexit’s impact on Northern Ireland were dismissed as “simply scaremongering” by the Better Off Out group [127].

Equally indicative of how ill-thought through the campaign for Brexit was, are the articles published by one of the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s affiliates – the Telegraph columnist, Allister Heath [128].

Heath’s articles demonstrate that the EU referendum result was not one that had been planned for adequately. On 25th May 2016, he advocated leaving the EU; predicting that the campaign would defy expectations, and win.

However, on 19th October 2016, Heath opined that Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union was faltering; and needed a new campaign. By 23rd August 2017, he was demanding a new economic plan in preparation for life outside the EU. On 20th September 2017, Heath wanted a new administration to oversee Brexit itself.

It had, of course, been as far back as 2013 when David Cameron announced that a referendum would be held on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Brexit campaigners therefore had 3 years to devise a unified plan of action before the referendum; yet failed to do so.

By contrast, it took 15 minutes for the leaders of the other 27 EU nations to ratify draft guidelines on how the EU would negotiate their part in Britain’s exit.

Similarly indicative of where the balance of power between Britain and the EU resides as a consequence of Brexit, was the announcement of December 2016 that Britain would have to pay the EU a settlement bill of c. £50 billion, before negotiations over a new trade-arrangement would begin.

Conservative MPs and leading Brexit-advocates, including Boris Johnson and John Redwood – along with Theresa May – had repudiated any suggestion that this would happen. However, after a year of similar hubris and bombast from their admirers in the press, during December 2017 Britain’s government agreed to pay £39 billion.

Likewise, Brexit-campaigners, such as Peter Hargreaves and Ruth Lea, had predicted that a vote to leave the European Union would result in EU countries clamoring to serve Britain’s interests. Their presumptions have proven misplaced.

Hargreaves would himself lose c. £400 million as a consequence of the EU referendum – he was not alone. Howard Shore, the owner of Shore Capital Group had donated £25,000 to the Vote Leave campaign; but the referendum result would see the company’s value decline by over £10 million. Shore personally lost £4 million.

These are perhaps not significant sums for the super-wealthy. Yet the Conservative MP – and Brexit advocate – John Redwood, works for an investment management firm; and it was reported in November 2017 that he was advising similar clients to withdraw their money from the UK.

Moreover, UK banks whose personnel had supported ‘Eurosceptic’ campaign efforts for many years – in order to lobby against European Union regulations being imposed on the City of London – would suffer financial losses after the referendum; and begin the process of relocating to the European continent, where they will be subject to the EU’s strictures.

Open Europe is particularly illustrative of the way that Brexit has backfired on ‘Eurosceptics’; as a significant number of their backers suffered adverse outcomes, due to the referendum.

For example, Simon Wolfson – the chief executive officer of Next PLC – is listed as a supporter of Open Europe. In 2013, Wolfson called for Britain to either radically reform the EU, or leave it.

In 2016, Wolfson advocated Brexit. The vote to leave the EU proved detrimental to his own company, however; which is perhaps why he called for the process to be delayed, in 2017.

John Ritblat, the “Honorary President and Former Chairman and CEO” of the British Land Company, is another listed supporter of Open Europe; whose company decreased in value as a consequence of the Brexit vote.

John Barton, “Non-Executive Chairman” of Easy Jet also supports Open Europe; yet Easy Jet opposed Brexit – and faced a period of legal uncertainty, as a result of the vote for Britain to withdraw from the European Union.

This pattern holds true for the financial services sector – whose interests were evidently a top lobbying priority for Open Europe; yet seem to have been ill-served by their efforts.

Open Europe was founded by the merchant banker, Rodney Leach; and its supporters – past and present – include a number of representatives from banking/insurance organisations. Several of these opposed Brexit, and suffered a downturn as a result of the EU referendum.

For instance, Simon Robertson, who had been Deputy Chairman of HSBC Holdings until the of 2015, is a listed supporter of Open Europe; yet HSBC warned against leaving the European Union. The day after the EU referendum, HSBC announced that they would relocate from Britain to Europe; at an estimated cost of £300 million.

Likewise, Citigroup plc supported Open Europe; yet following the Brexit result, announced that they would move to Frankfurt. Much the same was true for the JP Morgan bank; whose chairman, Robin Renwick, is a supporter of Open Europe. JP Morgan opposed Brexit, and announced that they would transfer numerous jobs from Britain to Europe after the EU referendum [129].

This conflicted outcome of the EU referendum was embodied by Stuart Rose. He had lead the official campaign against Brexit; yet he had funded groups such as Business For Britain – which formed the basis of Vote Leave.

Rose also supported Open Europe, which had peddled so much pivotal misinformation about the EU. Its output was cited repeatedly by Vote Leave campaigners during the referendum campaign, to support their case.

The internecine disputes between ‘Eurosceptic’ campaigners during the EU referendum, would be replicated among advocates of Brexit afterwards. For example, the editor of Leave HQ, Peter North, would bemoan Ruth Lea in February 2016; before publishing a vindictive piece deploring Brexit itself, in October 2017.

In March 2017, Leave HQ would object to the extreme form of withdrawal from the EU, that the likes of Lea had promoted; and which they themselves had helped to deliver.

Similar in temperament to Peter North was Dominic Cummings – the campaign director of Vote Leave; whose attitude towards Brexit became increasingly hostile in the aftermath of the referendum.

In September 2017, Cummings would bemoan the initiation of withdrawing from the EU, as a “historic, unforgivable blunder”.

He derided Brexit’s implications in less sedate terms, on his personal Twitter account during July 2017. By October 2017, he had deleted his account; and described Brexit as an unfolding disaster.

Likewise was Gisela Stuart, who had been the foremost Labour MP to campaign for Brexit. In July 2016, Stuart would complain about the lack of guaranteed legal status for “EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom in the event of the United Kingdom’s leaving the European Union”.

Despite demanding the most extreme form Brexit in December 2016, during June 2017, Stuart suggested that the referendum had been a “vacuous exercise”; and that it should not have taken place.

Equally revealing, was Boris Johnson’s reaction to the EU referendum, on 24th June 2016 – which was noted for its despondency. A week after the vote, Johnson withdrew from the Conservative Party leadership contest, which had been triggered by the Brexit result.

David Cameron granted these people the referendum they demanded. He had evidently done so with much the same agenda in mind as them. It would result in his resignation.

 

 

Further Reading And Resources 

The purpose of this essay was to provide an overview of the lobbying campaign which ultimately led to Brexit; and to illustrate the aims it was intended to achieve.

The organisations behind this share a high volume of personnel, and donors; while serving the same overall set of interests. Given how convoluted this network is, it proved necessary to focus on some groups and individuals, at the expense of others. I have also restricted the material cited to online resources, for ease of reference.

With all of this in mind, if you wish to conduct further research into the subjects discussed, there are a number of published works and websites which are helpful; and they provide more in-depth accounts of key issues than was possible within a blogpost.

 

Books

‘The Great Brexit Swindle’ by T.J. Coles (Claireview; 2016)

  • Despite its sensationalist title, Coles’ book is a good academic work. It does have several shortcomings, though. For instance, it was published before the General Election of 2017, which has inhibited the Conservative Party’s ability to enact its intended form of withdrawal from the EU. However, it is one of the few accounts of Brexit which identifies the corporate-profiteering agenda behind it.

‘A Quiet Word’ by Tamsin Cave and Andy Rowell (Penguin; 2015)

  • While it does not relate directly to the issue of Brexit, Cave and Rowell’s book is a comprehensive examination of professional lobbying; and its corruption of democracy in Britain. It also discusses some of the more unsavoury behaviour therein.

‘Hungry Corporations’ by Helena Paul and Ricarda Steinbrecher (Zed Books; 2003)

  • This is a scholarly account of the agribusiness industry; which documents how biotech corporations have monopolised global farming. Of particular relevance to this essay, are Chapter 3 “Image Control: Manipulation and Public Relations” – which assesses the efforts of lobbying organisations, including the Institute Of Economic Affairs; and Chapter 7 “Government Legislation and Corporate Influence”. It is currently out of print; but the authors have published it online – via their website, Econexus.

‘Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy’ by William Dinan and David Miller (Pluto Press; 2007)

  • Dinan and Miller’s book is a collection of essays, which analyse the lobbying and public relations industries; and demonstrate how they promote the interests of big businesses – often at the public’s expense. See in particular chapter 6 “Exxon’s Foot Soldiers: The Case of the International Policy Network”; chapter 7 “Biotech’s Fake Persuaders”; chapter 13 “The Atlantic Semantic: New Labour’s US Connections”; and chapter 15 “Corporate Power in Europe: The Brussels ‘Lobbycracy’”.

 

Online Resources 

The following websites are helpful sources of information on the activities of people and organisations involved in lobbying:

Powerbase is an online encyclopedia, created by the Spinwatch organisation. It provides a wealth of detail on think-tanks; and has a section dedicated to Brexit lobbying.

Sourcewatch is a similar website, focused on lobbyists in America; and was set up by the Centre For Media And Democracy.

Corporate Europe Observatory is a slightly different site – although it maintains a database on the activities of lobbying organisations within the EU, it primarily publishes articles examining their activities in depth.

This also applies to Corporate Watch; which provides research and analysis on specific companies.

In the United States, lobbying organisations are required by law to publish records of their campaigning. Open Secrets is the website devoted to making these public.

Tax Justice Network publishes research and reports on a range of issues, including the creative tax arrangements of multinational companies.

Not dissimilar is Bankwatch, which applies scrutiny to European financial sectors.

The Corner House is a grassroots initiative, which aims to support communities being affected adversely by corporate activities.

Econexus is dedicated to analyzing the impact of biotechnology and agribusiness on people, and the environment.

PAN Asia Pacific is much the same, but focuses on agrochemicals and pesticides.

GRAIN – or Genetic Resources Action International – is a non-profit organisation, which supports small farmers; and works to preserve biodiversity. It also highlights corporate abuses of power, within the agricultural sphere.

DeSmog UK is an investigative media outlet, which reports on environmental and energy issues. There is a longer-standing American version, called DeSmogBlog.

Unearthed is also dedicated to journalism on the subjects of energy and climate change, and was created by Greenpeace.

Exxon Secrets is another project maintained by Greenpeace; which documents the activities of anti-environmental organisations, funded by Exxon.

Tobacco Tactics is run by the University Of Bath, and performs a similar role; but examines the ways that the tobacco industry influences public policy.

 

 

Notes

[1] Alan Halsall would donate £30,000 to Vote Leave – he is therefore another Business For Britain supporter, who initially wanted to reform the EU, rather than leave it; yet whose opinion changed, when it proved expedient. See ‘Alan Hansall‘ by Powerbase.

According to Halsall, an article published by Conservative Home in 2011 was the progenitor of Business For Britain. See ‘Alan Halsall: We need a better business deal in Europe. That’s why I’m backing Business for Britain‘ by Alan Halsall/Conservative Home (22nd April 2013).

 

[2] See the section 5.4 “A benchmark for the renegotiation” (pp. 197-205); and the paragraph under the heading “Conclusion” on p. 244 in ‘Change Or Go‘.

 

[3] Matthew Elliott was director of the No2AV campaign against the Alternative Vote, during the referendum of 2011.

This featured much the same pattern of misleading claims as he would preside over during the EU referendum – notably, that introducing the alternative vote would cost £250 million, which could be better spent on the NHS.

See ‘Voting referendum “will cost £250 million” claim campaigners’ by Andrew Porter/Telegraph (15th February 2011).

The figure of £250 million was fictitious.

See also ‘No to AV baby ad is in dire need of reform‘ by Sunny Hundal/Guardian (25th February 2011)

And ‘Vote 2011: UK rejects alternative vote‘ by BBC (7th May 2011)

Business For Britain’s Dylan Sharpe would later go on to function in a public relations role for The Sun; and would send pornographic images to a number of female journalists. See ‘The Sun’s Head Of PR Dylan Sharpe ‘Trolls’ Kay Burley With Topless Picture, Sends Twitter Into Meltdown‘ by Louise Ridley; Huffington Post (22nd January 2015).

 

[4] According to Open Europe’s press release, their supporters include “Stuart Rose, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, Crispin Davis, Chief Executive of Reed Elsevier, Simon Wolfson, Chief Executive of Next, and Michael Spencer, Chief Executive of ICAP. Other supporters include Robin Renwick, former UK Ambassador to Washington and a Labour peer, and Sir John Jennings CBE, former Chairman of Shell”.

 

[5] For more information on Open Europe’s affiliation with Andrea Leadsom/Fresh Start, see ‘Andrea Leadsom‘ by Powerbase.

See also ‘Don’t say MPs don’t do detail on Europe‘ by Open Europe (16th January 2013)

And ‘Open Europe offers you a date with the future: what can the UK achieve in talks over its EU membership terms?‘ by Open Europe (25th November 2013)

See also ‘Tory leadership: Everything you need to know about May, Leadsom and Gove‘ by Joe Sandler Clarke/Unearthed (6th July 2016), which notes that:

“Leadsom’s brother-in-law, Peter de Putron, an offshore financier, donated more than £800,000 to the Conservative Party since 2010. De Putron also made donations worth £680,000 to the think tank Open Europe, which Leadsom is personally affiliated with”.

 

[6] This agenda is outlined by the reference to “The Progress of Market-Oriented Reform in the EU” (p. 4); while the groups affiliated with the Stockholm Network are listed under “Building Our European Network” (p. 12) in ‘Inspiring Growth – The Stockholm Network Annual Report 2007/08‘.

See also ‘10 years of the Stockholm Network – the Stockholm Network Annual report 2006/07‘. Under the section “A year of activity” (pp. 2-3) the Stockholm Network note their involvement in several US-UK lobbying events.

One was on 5th May 2006, called “Bridging the Atlantic: a case for an open Atlantic prosperity area”; which featured Liam Fox MP. For the significance of this alignment, see ‘Liam Fox’s Atlantic Bridge linked top Tories and Tea Party activists‘ by Jamie Doward/Guardian (15th October 2011).

Equally notable was Helen Disney attending “a number of events focused around healthcare reform” in America, on 16th October. This included a Capital Hill conference, co-hosted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, the International Policy Network, the Heritage Foundation, and the Galen Institute.

On 15th November 2006, the Stockholm Network hosted “a private dinner” with the American Legislative Exchange Council – seemingly devoted to a discussion on how best to reduce local government, and thereby cut taxes.

 

[7] See the section “Our supporters” (p. 16) in ‘Inspiring Growth The Stockholm Network Annual Report 2007/08‘.

 

[8] The Pacific Research Institute note that “the Pacific Research Institute was founded by Sir Antony Fisher” (p. 30) in ‘Ideas In Action – 2004 Annual Report‘. Fisher also set up the Institute Of Economic Affairs; and thereby became one of the key figures influencing the policies of the Thatcher government.

For more on the background of the Institute Of Economic Affairs, see ‘Institute Of Economic Affairs‘ by Powerbase.

 

[9] Between 1998–2005, the petroleum company – Exxon – would provide the Pacific Research Institute with $355,000. See page 33 in ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science‘ by the Union of Concerned Scientists (January 2007).

See also ‘Pacific Research Institute (PRI)‘ by Desmog.

For more details, see ‘Factsheet: Pacific Research Institute For Public Policy, PRI‘ by Exxon Secrets.

And ‘Pacific Research Institute‘ by Sourcewatch.

The Pacific Research Institute’s efforts were part of a broader lobbying effort to undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What marks them out from similar groups, however, is the fact that they cooperated with the Cato Institute to issue a legal challenge against the introduction of the Act, during the autumn of 2014.

This had been “coordinated and funded” by a further lobbying organisation, called the Competitive Enterprise Institute; as they themselves explained, in November 2014:

“The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is coordinating and funding both the King v. Burwell case and the D.C. Circuit Halbig v. Burwell case”.

These two cases were the lawsuits filed to challenge a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – namely the provision of premium tax credits, to people who lived on low incomes.

As America’s Inland Revenue Service outline:

“The premium tax credit is a refundable tax credit designed to help eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Exchange, beginning in 2014”.

This provision was designed to ensure that healthcare would be affordable even to American citizens who lived in poverty.

The two lawsuits represented an attempt by Cato and the Pacific Research Institute – along with their backers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute – at depriving several million American citizens of health insurance; and thereby leaving them without access to medical care.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is also one of the more aggressive anti-environmental groups; and has received funding from Phillip Morris, Exxon and Pfizer.

For more information, see ‘Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)‘ by Desmog.

See also ‘Meet The Anti-Science Extremist Who Could Transform The EPA‘ by David Helvarg/Mother Jones (18th November 2016).

The president of the Pacific Research Institute, Sally Pipes, continued to lobby for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as recently as March 2017; and it is clear that she knew this would result in people on low-incomes being deprived of healthcare – as was made plain when she suggested that the Trump administration should refuse:

“to fund Obamacare’s ‘cost-sharing reduction’ subsidies — federal dollars that reimburse insurance companies for covering many of the out-of-pocket costs of low-income exchange enrollees”.

 

[10] Merck Sharp & Dohme are listed as supporters by the Stockholm Network in their annual reviews. See page 16 in ‘Inspiring Growth – The Stockholm Network Annual Report 2007/08‘. Also featured are Pfizer, PhRMA, and Schering-Plough.

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest had received a grant of $120,000 from PhRMA in 2008. See ‘PhRMA’s Grants To US Organisations In 2008‘ by Knowledge Ecology International (5th February 2010).

PhRMA is the trade group which lobbies on behalf of pharmaceutical companies in the United States; and several of its members would be represented by public relations firms – ones which the director of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, Peter Pitts, has been employed by: namely, Manning Selvage & Lee; and Porter Novelli. See ‘Peter Pitts‘ by Sourcewatch.

 

[11] See ‘Manning Selvage & Lee Creates Global Healthcare Issues Management and Litigation Communications Practice‘ by Business Wire (26th July 2006)

 

[12] In 2007, Merck would pay $4.85 billion to settle the 27,000 lawsuits which had arisen following death or injury from the use of Vioxx. In 2016, the company would provide a further $830 million to the company’s own shareholders, on the grounds that its executives had made misleading assurances about the safety of Vioxx. As Bloomberg reported in 2016, Merck:

“also paid $950 million, and a unit pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge related to the illegal marketing of Vioxx. That settlement included a $321.6 million criminal fine and $628.3 million to resolve civil claims that it sold Vioxx for unapproved uses and made false statements about its cardiovascular safety”.

 

[13] As with Vioxx, Avandia was withdrawn from sale due to indications it increased the risks of heart-attacks and strokes. Its prescription would be permitted by the FDA in America; but discontinued in Europe following a recommendation by the European Medicines Agency.

The Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest would defend the sale of Avandia via their blog, Drugwonks – which is much more vulgar in its mode of expression than the organisation’s invariably anodyne press communications. Avandia was created by GlaxoSmithKline – who were a client of the public relations firm, Manning Selvage & Lee, which had employed Peter Pitts.

See ‘MS&L Wins Glaxo Diabetes Work‘ by Steve Bevan/PR Week (30th May 1997)

Also ‘Glaxo Diabetes Drug Withdrawn From Sale‘ by Juliette Gardside/PR Week (5th December 1997).

EFPIA is the acronym for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations; which represents “the pharmaceutical industry operating in Europe” – as noted on its website.

 

[14] See ‘Cholesterol: The Public Policy Implications Of Not Doing Enough‘ by the Stockholm Network (2006).

As a testament to the type of personalities the three authors are, this pamphlet includes the line “of course, a reduced life expectancy for the old may, at a collective level, be a benefit – at least so far as state-run healthcare systems are currently constituted”  (p. 6)

See also the press briefing ‘Soaring Cholesterol Levels Could Plunge Europe Into a Welfare Crisis by 2020 if not Tackled Today‘ by the Stockholm Network/PR Newswire (28th May 2006).

Significantly, this briefing notes that the media director of the Stockholm Network was Katie Perrior – who would subsequently run public relations for Boris Johnson when he contested the London Mayoralty in 2008 and 2012; and for Theresa May during the Conservative Party leadership election, in 2016.

Perrior would resign over undeclared conflicts of interest, in February 2017. See ‘Katie Perrior‘ by Powerbase.

In fact, Perrior had written an article in 2008, which suggested that Boris Johnson would be amenable to lobbying, as London’s Mayor. See ‘Lobbyists Should Make The Most Of Boris’ Willingness To Listen‘ by Katie Perrior/PR Week (5th June 2008).

This article notes that the Labour MP, Kate Hoey, was appointed by Boris Johnson to advise him. It is significant how many of those involved at the highest level of campaigning for Brexit, were involved with Johnson at some point beforehand.

 

[15] As with so much lobbying material, the original documents are no longer available online; but they can still be accessed via archived pages. The Pfizer forum in August 2000 notes that:

“Stephen Pollard’s second Pfizer Forum article, ‘A Question of Health’, explains how the UK’s public has changed its views concerning the future role of the National Health Service and the potential popularity of private sector healthcare, according to a recent Social Market Foundation opinion poll”.

The Social Market Foundation was a progenitor of the Stockholm Network; having employed both Helen Disney and Roderick Nye. This excerpt is indicative of how self-referential this nexus of organisations often proves to be.

Pollard’s article is also available through an archived webpage. See ‘A Question Of Health‘ by Stephen Pollard/Pfizer Forum.

This preceded the themes advanced by the Stockholm Network and its peers – particularly with its complaint about “the new National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness” supposedly “rationing” access to new medicines. Pollard also advocated either the introduction of fees, or a system of private health insurance to replace the National Health service.

It is not entirely clear which of these Pollard favoured, as he attributed his opinions to a poll conducted by the Social Market Foundation. The relevant quotes being:

“There is an emerging conflict between the desire for a greater range of choice and problems arising from the rationing made inevitable by the NHS’ funding mechanism. Something will have to give – and it could be the overall legitimacy of an NHS which gives rise to such conflicts.

…voters don’t trust politicians to target any extra resources properly, and would thus prefer an hypothecated health tax.

…expect to have to make some kind of regular payment for their future healthcare, either within the NHS (such as for GP visits) or via a ‘top up’ mechanism, perhaps involving insurance”.

Civitas would make much the same case – albeit more intelligibly – in ‘Options For Healthcare Funding‘; which featured input from Stephen Pollard, and Helen Disney – who represented Civitas at the time. This paper was sponsored by Reform – which has long lobbied for the National Health Service to be privatised.

However, the Pfizer forum archived page also cites “Fred L. Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute”, who warned “against the dangers of the European Union stifling scientific innovation and foreign trade in pursuing the ‘Precautionary Principle’ in his article, ‘The Dangers of Precaution'”.

Smith’s article bemoans “European regulatory restrictions” – citing the ancient Greek myth of Aeschylus in support of its case. See ‘The Dangers Of Precaution‘ by Fred L. Smith/Pfizer Forum.

See also the Pfizer Forum’s archived homepage ‘Welcome To The Pfizer Forum‘.

According to a Phillip Morris tobacco document, the Centre For The New Europe was “newly formed” by the Hudson Institute.

For critiques of the Centre For The New Europe, see ‘Centre For The New Europe‘ by Think-Tank Watch.

See also page 32 in ‘Under The Influence: Exposing undue corporate influence over policy-making at the World Trade Organization‘ by Action Aid (January 2006).

Of note, Civitas published a booklet in 2005, in which Stephen Pollard made a case for remaining in the EU; while the Ukip peer, Malcolm Pearson, argued in favour of Britain’s withdrawal. See ‘Should we stay or should we go?‘ by Civitas (2005).

What Pollard’s section revolved around was the prospect of making the European Union “more market-friendly”; resulting in a ” a resettlement of the EU’s foundations” (p. 31).

 

[16] Tony Hockley’s foreword to the Institute of Economic Affairs’ pamphlet reaffirms these points – proposing that people be regarded as “consumers not patients”, advocating “direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs”; while bemoaning “restrictive national service standards” and limitations on “what users themselves can or must pay”.

Hockley also reiterated the call for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to be abrogated: “It is no longer tenable to assume that what is good for one person in one part of a country is good for another person elsewhere.”

A more critical viewpoint of direct-to-consumer advertising has been expressed by at least one actual healthcare professional; as quoted in a piece published by the World Health Organisation, in 2009:

“The truth is direct-to-consumer advertising is used to drive choice rather than inform it,” says Dr Dee Mangin, associate professor at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Christchurch, New Zealand, pointing out that the ‘driving’ is typically in the direction of expensive brand-name drugs. New Zealand consumers then go to their doctors and the pressure to prescribe begins”.

Hockley has written on this theme for Civitas – complaining that “reduced prices for patent-protected pharmaceuticals can have many knock-on effects. They inevitably affect patients’ access to medicine” (p. 8) in ‘Health Care In The Balance‘ by Tony Hockley/Civitas (2006).

He had also caviled about patients being denied access to “innovative” drugs in ‘A Common Disease with Uncommon Treatment‘ by Tony Hockley and Joan Costa-Font/Policy Analysis Centre (June 2012).

This paper states that its “research was commissioned and funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. MSD reviewed the report prior to publication in line with the ABPI Code of Practice” (p. 4).

It also notes that Hockley has been a “Special Adviser to two Secretaries of State for Health” (p. 6) – which signifies the level of access that lobbyists of this kind often have to government officials.

According to Hockley’s Linked-In profile, the two ministers were Virginia Bottomley, and Stephen Dorrell. Bottomley has profited from positions with pharmaceutical companies; while Dorrell lobbies on behalf of KPMG – which has a commercial stake in privatisation of the NHS.

 

[17] See Tim Evans’s biography on the Centre For Education Economics.

According to his biography on the Centre For The Study Of Market Reform Of Education:

“Over the years, he has consulted with the global corporate affairs leaderships of many of the world’s largest companies including Pfizer, ExxonMobil, Microsoft and Merck Sharp and Dohme”.

Both Tim and Helen Evans have been fellows of the Adam Smith Institute – a free-market think-tank, which had itself been a member of the Stockholm Network for a period; and which has demanded the privatisation of the National Health Service.

One of the individuals who had created the Adam Smith Institute was Eamonn Butler; who would reputedly also sit on the advisory board of Nurses for Reform.

 

[18] The spelling/homonym errors appear in the original text.

 

[19] The Galen Institute is part of the State Policy Network, which has received funding from pharmaceuticals. The same is true of the Institute for Policy Innovation; which features the usual plethora of corporate donors, such as Koch industries and Exxon.

Galen has lobbied on behalf of pharmaceutical industry interests – such as the Medicare drug discount card it advocated, in 2003. These were credit cards for the purchase of pharmaceutical drugs. The Heritage Foundation endorsed them, in 2004.

Helen Disney and Stephen Pollard were among the authors of a document, entitled ‘The dangers of undermining patient choice: lessons from Europe and Canada‘, published by the Institute for Policy Innovation, in conjunction with the International Policy Network and the Galen Institute (October 2006).

For further information on the Institute for Policy Innovation, see their profile by Sourcewatch. For more on the Stockholm Network, see an overview provided by Corporate Europe Observatory.

Pollard and Disney, along with Eamonn Butler, would make a campaign video in 2007, which advocated Britain’s adoption of a free-market healthcare system.

The type of personality that Helen Evans of Nurses For Reform actually is can be discerned from a piece she published on 30th January 2007, deriding the former Labour MP – Alice Mahon – for using private healthcare.

For a more accurate overview of this, see ‘Ex-MP battles NHS over eye drug’ by the BBC (30th January 2007). The NHS Primary Care Trust had refused to fund Mahon’s medical treatment, due to the high expense of the medicines – a point which Evans omitted from her account of matters.

For further examples of Helen Evans’ lobbying in favour of privatising the NHS, see ‘The NHS: Health Care Needs To Be Depoliticised And Patient Led‘ by Helen Evans/Telegraph (9th March 2010). Patient-led is a euphemism for consumer-driven, and market-based.

See also ‘Is There A Role For Markets In Health Care?‘ by International Policy Network/Galen Institute (14th June 2007). International Policy Network was a member of the Stockholm Network, until 2008.

And see ‘Chance chat over dinner led Blair to order u-turn on private beds‘ by David Hencke/Guardian (28th July 2000).

Nurses For Reform have also been involved in pro-tobacco lobbying, as chronicled by Tobacco Tactics. Helen Evans was a signatory to a letter published in the Telegraph, objecting to plain-packaging for tobacco products.

See ‘Enemies of enterprise seek controls on tobacco‘ by Patrick Basham et al/Telegraph (9th March 2011). The letter was signed by representatives of the Institute Of Economic Affairs, the Taxpayers Alliance, Big Brother Watch, Forest, and the Adam Smith Institute – amongst others.

This coalition had published a more expansive version of their letter on the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s website. See ‘How to declare war on the enemies of enterprise: declare war on shopkeepers, apparently‘ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (9th March 2011).

Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, had also signed the letter. This is a subsidiary of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Hamilton is also director of the UK lobbying firm FTI Consulting – which is notable for the involvement of the former Labour Health secretary, Patricia Hewitt; who was found to be actively facilitating the corporate lobbying of government, in 2010.

Doctors for Reform has a Steering Committee, whose members include Dr Paul Charlson –  a director of the lobby group 2020health. It has received funding from major pharmaceuticals; and advocated privatising the NHS.

Powerbase states that the lobbying firm, Westbourne Communications, was involved in the launch of this group – as were Reform, which has received funding from private healthcare companies.

It is noteworthy that Priti Patel MP had previously worked for the public relations firm, Weber Shandwick; whose clients included British American Tobacco. Among other tasks, during November 2000, Patel lobbied members of the European Parliament in an attempt to prevent a tobacco control directive.

 

[20] In 2009, the Stockholm Network would publish a pamphlet entitled ‘The UK Pharmaceutical Industry: Current Challenges and Future Solutions‘; demanding, amongst other things, greater government intervention in the pharmaceutical industry.

This would prompt several of the Stockholm Network’s members to leave. It would not be until 2012, however, that the Stockholm Network would become defunct.

Their last publications seem to have been a series of videos from January 2012; which were entitled ‘The Welfare State After the Crisis‘ – and featured the former banker, David Freud; who was working as the Conservative Party’s minister for Welfare Reform.

Freud had previously lobbied for the privatisation of social security, in 2007. His report advocating this had been commissioned by the then Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton; and welcomed by both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

In 2008, Freud became an adviser to Hutton’s successor, James Purnell; who oversaw Freud’s recommendations. Freud changed party-affiliation in 2009, when he was appointed shadow minister for welfare reform, by David Cameron.

There was clearly a cross-party consensus at work, therefore; which saw both Labour and Conservative governments receptive to lobbying; and thereafter, actively facilitating privatisation.

John Hutton would himself become a lobbyist, after leaving Parliamentary office; while James Purnell would embody the revolving door, between working in the media and Parliament.

This same dynamic underscored the relationship between the City of London’s financial district, and government. It played a fateful role during the banking crisis, of 2007-08. See ‘Revolving Doors, Accountability and Transparency – Emerging Regulatory Concerns and Policy Solutions in the Financial Crisis‘ by David Miller and William Dinan/OECD (5th May 2009).

 

[21] See ‘Helen Evans and Shane Frith – “Alternatives To Government-Run Healthcare“‘ by Oxford Libertarian Society (23rd January 2010). Frith and Evans were at this point both members of yet another think-tank, called Progressive Vision – which also advocated abolishing the National Health Service.

Progressive Vision’s website is no longer online; but an archived version exists. The group had suggested replacing the NHS with a system based on Singapore’s; as would the Institute Of Economic Affairs – whose director, Mark Littlewood, was Progressive Vision’s director of communications.

Significantly, Helen Evans had previously published a pamphlet via the Institute Of Economic Affairs. See ‘Sixty Years On – Who Cares For The NHS?‘ by Helen Evans/Institute Of Economic Affairs (22nd June 2008).

For further details of Shane Frith’s affiliations, see his biography on the Conservative Institute website; which notes that:

“Before his appointment to New Direction, Shane worked for a number of think tanks in the United Kingdom, including Progressive Vision, Institute of Economic Affairs, Reform, Open Europe and Global Vision”.

It also states that Frith “has advised conservative MPs in both Britain and New Zealand”.

Frith’s biography on Independent Journal Review adds that:

“Shane Frith is the founder of Doctors’ Alliance and a board member of Nurses for Reform, two organizations advocating for commonsense health care reform in the UK”.

The fact that he was managing director of the Stockholm Network is listed on page 9 in ‘Eye On Europe – Issue 12‘ by the Stockholm Network (2007). As part of the Stockholm Network, Frith had lobbied for private healthcare in Germany.

Frith was also the director of New Direction – The Foundation for European Reform. Somewhat amusingly, another Brexit campaigner – Richard North – took a very low, and sardonic view of Frith’s contributions to ‘Euroscepticism’. See ‘Oh Dear‘ by Richard North/EU Referendum.com (28th September 2010).

If this makes North seem at odds with other Brexit campaigners, that would be misleading. North had outlined an identical case for leaving the EU, in order to serve the same interests. It was published in conjunction with the Bruges Group. The acrimony between these people is more likely to reflect the type of personalities involved in this campaign.

North’s rebukes of other ‘Eurosceptics’ would continue after the referendum. The group he was involved with created Flexcit: The Movie; and it would seem that North’s own plans for Brexit rested on contingencies, which did not arise.

 

[22] As is the case with many of the documents produced by these groups, Global Vision seem to have removed their report from the internet. Its original address was:

http://www.global-vision.net/uploads/2/4/3/6/24363368/global_vision_paper_-_ruth_lea_brian_binley.pdf

A copy can still be accessed via the European Parliament’s website.

Global Vision were remarkably glib, however; and made a series of presumptions which have already proven ill-founded. For example, after acknowledging that Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union would place it outside the single market, Global Vision opined that:

 “at risk of repeating a point we have already made, the other EU countries would trade with Britain, it is fatuous to suggest otherwise” (p. 28).

Needless to say, the terms on which Britain would trade with other European countries will fundamentally alter after Brexit.

Global Vision’s hubris was equaled by a number of Remain-advocates; who were similarly presumptuous. For example, see ‘EU referendum: why Remain will win by a mile, and why, on balance, it should‘ by Hamish McRae/Independent (19th March 2016).

And ‘Calm down. Trump won’t be President – and Britain won’t leave the EU‘ by Ian Leslie/New Statesman (7th June 2016).

A counterpart to this would be the Vote Leave briefing, which proclaimed:

“Europe yes, EU no. We have a new UK-EU Treaty based on free trade and friendly cooperation. There is a European free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and we will be part of it. We will take back the power to negotiate our own trade deals”.

No aspect of this has materialised, at the present time of writing.

 

[23] Not unrelated were Ruth Lea’s complaints about working family tax-credits; which she had also advocated ending, in 2009. Suffice to say, this system of tax-credits was intended to mitigate poverty among working families.

It was derived from Family Credit, introduced by the Conservative Party’s 1985/6 social security bill. See page 7 in ‘Working Families Tax Credit and Family Credit‘ by Pat Strickland/House Of Commons Library (9th April 1998).

In 2015, the Institute of Economic Affairs would make the same case for leaving the EU, as Lea – who complained about “social and employment legislation and unhelpful financial regulations”.

See their complaints about “regulations such as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2004/39/EC), the Capital Requirements Directive IV (CRD 4)36 and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (2011/61/EU)” (p. 28) in ‘Brexit: directions for Britain outside the EU‘ by the Institute Of Economic Affairs (2015).

They also proclaimed that “a wide range of EU health and safety regulations should be either repealed or reformed” (p. 29).

Suffice to say, contrary to the complaints these groups make about the Working Time Directive, it has not prevented people undertaking overtime work. See ‘Workers in the UK put in £33.6 billion worth of unpaid overtime a year‘ by the Trades Union Congress (24th February 2017).

It seems reasonable to surmise that for the likes of Lea, “competitiveness” is a euphemism for profiteering. It is a myth that high-taxes reduce efficacy among businesses. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2017-18, the most competitive nations (p. ix) include a plethora of high and low-tax countries.

 

[24] See pages 40-43 of ‘Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?‘ by The Heritage Foundation (12th September 2006). It provides the transcript for a conference held on 28th June 2005.

The impact that Brexit could have on EU countries, and regions, has been estimated by a University of Birmingham research project. While Britain would be the most adversely affected, several European countries – primarily Ireland, Cyprus and the Netherlands – are expected to be economically damaged. Germany, Belgium, and France would also suffer, to a lesser extent.

See ‘The continental divide? Economic exposure to Brexit in regions and countries on both sides of The Channel‘ by Wen Chen, Bart Los, Philip McCann, Raquel Ortega-Argilés, Mark Thissen and Frank van Oort/Regional Science (12th December 2017).

For a shorter summary of this paper, see ‘Where Brexit will hurt most in Europe‘ by Jacopo Barigazzi/Politico (8th January 2018).

 

[25] Pfizer and PhRMA are listed as “Heritage Foundation Founders” on page 28 in ‘The Heritage Foundation 2006 Annual Report‘ by the Heritage Foundation (2006).

On page 29, ExxonMobil are listed under “Premier Associates”; GlaxoSmithKline are featured as “Executive Associates”. Microsoft fall into the category of “Associates”, on the same page.

A number of other corporations including Boeing, Lockheed, Sanofi Aventis, Johnson and Johnson, and Chevron are also listed as supporters of the Heritage Foundation; and Margaret Thatcher became a patron in 2006.

For the Stockholm Network’s funders, see page 16 in ‘Inspiring Growth‘ (2008).

More recently, a member of the Discovery Institute would enthuse about Brexit; complaining that:

“the growing regulatory apparatus of the European bureaucracy and courts has particularly encumbered American business interests with excessive regulation, arbitrary antitrust restrictions, and punitive fines”.

See ‘Markets have nothing to fear from Brexit‘ by Stephen Meyer/National Review (28th June 2016). Meyer also bemoans “antitrust judgments”.

For the European Court judgment, see ‘Judgment of the Court of First Instance (Grand Chamber) of 17 September 2007. Microsoft Corp. v Commission of the European Communities‘ by the European Court (2007). 

For the European Commission’s findings, see ‘Commission Decision of 24 May 2004 relating to a proceeding pursuant to Article 82 of the EC Treaty and Article 54 of the EEA Agreement against Microsoft Corporation’ by the European Commission (2004).

 

[26] Despite evidently funding ‘Eurosceptic’ organisations, the Pharmaceutical industry opposed Brexit. See ‘Brexit: Pharma Says There Are Advantages To The UK Remaining In The EU‘ by Emily Hughes/EPM Magazine (31st May 2016). For more on UK pharmaceutical lobbying efforts, see ‘Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry‘ by Powerbase.

Even more conflicted, however, was the sugar industry. In Open Europe’s report ‘Nothing To Declare‘, published during March 2017, among the discursive references to “sector-specific” impacts on various British industries (pp. 21-24), the report names two companies, with a shared interest: Tate & Lyle, and Associated British Foods; which are both involved in manufacturing sugar.

According to Open Europe, Britain’s membership of the EU means:

“Tate & Lyle Sugars is currently forced to choose between sourcing its imports of raw cane sugar from higher-cost suppliers that have been granted preferential access to the EU market, or pay the high EU tariff on raw cane sugar imports from cheaper suppliers such as Brazil or Thailand.

This essentially made its UK operations unprofitable in 2015. The company hopes to lobby the UK government to cut import tariffs on raw cane sugar after Brexit – but, to do so, the UK needs to leave the EUCU’s Common External Tariff (CET)” (p. 24).

By contrast:

“Associate British Foods potentially stands to lose from the UK leaving EUCU. The company produces more than two million tonnes of sugar every year from sugar beet factories in the UK and Spain.

It would therefore be hit by customs duties should the UK and the EU fail to strike a deal after Brexit” (p. 24).

Or, more succinctly, Tate & Lyle are seemingly set to benefit from Brexit; whereas Associated British Foods will lose out.

This perhaps provides a reason for Open Europe’s ambivalence – as both companies have been financial supporters of Open Europe. Their archived list of supporters includes “Sir David Lees, Chairman, Tate and Lyle plc”.

More circuitous, but the Institute For Policy Research distributes money to an array of lobbying organisations – including Open Europe. The Garfield Weston Foundation has funded the Institute For Policy Research; and the Weston family founded Associated British Foods – which runs British Sugar PLC.

Notably, David Lees was also a funder of the Taxpayers’ Alliance – which did not preclude the Taxpayers’ Alliance complaining about the EU subsidies Tate & Lyle received, in 2008.

However, a number of Brexit-campaigners have lobbied on behalf of the sugar industry; and vice versa. Tate & Lyle’s senior vice president, Gerald Mason, published a piece on Brexit Central in February 2017, titled ‘Brexit offers an opportunity to end the EU’s damaging sugar policy‘.

Having previously benefited from EU subsidies and dumping – amongst other unethical practices – Tate & Lyle had supposedly suffered losses as a consequence of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy; though the matter is not entirely clear.

However, in 2012, Tate & Lyle had launched their ‘Save Our Sugar‘ campaign, in an unsuccessful attempt at lobbying against this measure. This explains why it was among the few British companies to actively campaign in favour of leaving the European Union; after David Cameron’s attempts to gain concessions from the EU failed.

In January 2017, Tate & Lyle were also cited by the Guido Fawkes website – which made a similar case to Open Europe, when demanding Britain’s withdrawal from the Customs Union. The Guido Fawkes site had previously complained about the EU subsidies Tate & Lyle received, when it suited the site’s authors – as they objected to a proposed UK tax on sugar.

For an overview of sugar industry lobbying and the European Union, see ‘A Spoonful Of Sugar’ by Corporate Europe Observatory (July 2016). Note the section on Mexico’s government being sued by several American firms for applying a sugar tax (p. 9) – one of the companies was a subsidiary of Tate & Lyle. This revolved around the Investor State Dispute Settlement, which many Brexit-campaigners advocate.

There is evidence of Tate & Lyle lobbying Members of the European Parliament directly. See, for instance, the entry under “07/02/2012” which mentions the lobbyists Gerald Mason and Tony Bennett from Tate & Lyle, in ‘Lobbying Contacts Report 1st January – 30th June 2012‘ by Richard Ashworth MEP.

Tate & Lyle would also sponsor a Brexit-advocacy event hosted by the Institute for Economic Affairs, at the Conservative Party’s conference in October 2016; providing free porridge with Lyle’s golden syrup to attendees. They would repeat this in October 2017 – seemingly without the porridge.

For more information on Tate & Lyle’s lobbying, see their profile on Powerbase.

See also ‘Addictive substances and behaviours and corruption, transparency, and governance‘ by David Miller and Claire Harkins (2015).

 

[27] Open Europe had a further connection to parliament via the Fresh Start Project. Personnel from both organisations were involved in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform.

This included the former Labour MP, Gisela Stuart; who campaigned for Brexit as a co-chair of Vote Leave. Stuart had to step down from Parliament before the General Election of 8th June 2017, over a conflict of interest.

As a measure of her integrity, Stuart had been among the Leave campaigners who misled the public about membership of the EU costing Britain £350 million per week; claiming that “we should give our struggling NHS the £350 million we send to the EU every week”.

After the referendum, Stuart would form the Change Britain lobbying group, to pressurize the government into acting upon the EU referendum result. Its personnel included Maurice Glasman, who created the anti-migrant Blue Labour faction. Glasman is further registered as a fellow of the Legatum Institute.

Also featured is the Conservative Party donor, Peter Cruddas; along with Charles Guthrie, and Robert Salisbury – a supporter of Open Europe.

As with his peers, Henry Newman’s commentaries on Brexit are nonchalant and unedifying. See ‘There Will Be A Brexit Transition Period – But It is Unlikely To Be Via The EEA Or EFTA‘ by Henry Newman/Conservative Home (29th July 2017).

 

[28] In 2009, Boris Johnson had written to Goldman Sachs’ chief executive officer, Lloyd Blankfein, affirming his support for London’s financial services industry to remain free from EU regulations – specifically, “the threats of punitive taxation and new burdensome EU regulations”.

Moreover, Goldman Sachs’ vice chairman, Michael Sherwood, was employed as an adviser by Boris Johnson. For more on the City Of London Corporation’s lobbying efforts see ‘The City UK‘ by Powerbase.

There is an additional significance to Goldman Sachs, herein. The company’s official position of opposing Brexit, had been exploited by Leave campaigners – such as Better Off Out, David Owen, and Vote Leave. Who omitted to mention that David Sismey – Managing Director of Goldman Sachs – had signed a letter published in the Telegraph, which advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Another of Boris Johnson’s aides was Simon Milton, who served as the deputy mayor of London. He died in 2011.

However, Milton was the director of a lobbying firm called Ian Greer Associates – this organisation had a track-record of serving the tobacco industry’s interests. See ‘Tobacco Advertising: Lobby firm ‘helped block smoking Bill’: Government accused of receiving help from cigarette makers as MP’s proposal runs out of time‘ by Chris Blackhurst/The Independent (13th May 1994).

Likewise, Milton’s replacement – Edward Lister – served as the chief of staff to Boris Johnson; and as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, while Johnson was the Mayor Of London.

Lister had been the leader of Wandsworth’s Conservative council; and while working for Johnson, he was evidently a recipient of gifts and hospitality from various private-sector concerns.

It is not clear whether this resulted in them receiving favourable policies. However, during Lister’s tenure, the Australian property development firm – Lend Lease – secured a number of lucrative contracts, to build housing in London.

See ‘Lendlease wins £40m contract for Croydon’s Ruskin Square‘ by Gavriel Hollander/Construction News (3rd July 2015).

Also: ‘Bovis Lend Lease and Willmott Dixon make final shortlist for £300m Wandsworth BSF‘ by The Construction Index (21st January 2010).

And ‘Delancey/APG buy Elephant & Castle shopping centre‘ by Paul Norman/Costar (2nd December 2013).

Whether the donations of money and free-lunches provided to Edward Lister and other Conservative councillors by Lend Lease played any part in the company being granted these commercial opportunities – who could possibly say?

See, for example the reference to “01/08/2012 – Lunch with Deputy Mayor, Sir Edward Lister; Name of donor: Lend Lease”, at a value of £50 in ‘Gifts and hospitalities: 21/04/2012 – 21/04/2014 (Councillor Peter John)‘ by Southwark Council.

And the entry for Edward Lister on “11/03/2014”; which denotes “Lunch at MIPIM Conference”, provided by “Lend Lease & Gensler” in ‘Gifts and Hospitality Mayoral Appointees 01.02.2014 (10am)- 01.09.2014 (10am)‘ by Greater London Authority.

Likewise, whether the gifts and hospitality Lend Lease provided to Labour Councillors in Haringey had any bearing on the multi-billion pound redevelopment contract they were given in turn, is equally unclear.

See ‘Outcry over bid to build 5,000 homes in Haringey as new developer announced‘ by Nathalie Raffray/Ham & High (8th February 2017)

And ‘Storm Over Haringey Council Links To PR Firm: Why Did They Dine Out 13 Times?‘ by Emma Youle/Ham & High (8th December 2016).

House-building firms have lobbied governments extensively – as attested by the number of Conservative Party conference events they have sponsored, for instance. They tended to oppose Brexit, however. It cannot be proven that the Home Builders Federation has funded Policy Exchange’s lobbying on housing issues; but they have evidently found it conducive.

 

[29] After David Cameron’s resignation, a number of maudlin jeremiads were published on his behalf; depicting him as a tragic figure, of desperate circumstance.

For example, see ‘How Remain Failed: The Inside Story Of A Doomed Campaign‘ by Rafael Behr/Guardian (15th July 2016).

Also ‘The Downfall Of David Cameron: A European Tragedy‘ by Martin Kettle/Guardian (24th June 2016).

And ‘Why we lost the Brexit vote‘ by Daniel Korski/Politico (20th October 2016).

It was seemingly beyond the ability of David Cameron, his advisers – and his admirers – to anticipate that the media would grant Conservative politicians a free pass to make false claims, when it suited.

Not unrelated, see ‘David Cameron is “proud to campaign” alongside Sadiq Khan to stay in EU‘ by Rowena Mason and Andrew Sparrow/Guardian (30th May 2016) – which notes that “David Cameron has said he is proud to campaign with Sadiq Khan to stay in the EU, weeks after claiming Labour’s London mayor was unfit for office because of links to Islamist extremists”.

The supposed Islamic extremist in question was a Conservative Party supporter, called Suliman Gani.

For further points of correspondence between David Cameron’s priorities, and those of Brexit-campaigners, see Cameron’s statement during a House of Commons debate in 2012, that:

“half our trade is with the European Union, but the other half is with countries outside the European Union. In recent years we have obviously seen very fast growth in that trade with some of the fast-growing BRIC countries—the Brazils, the Russias, the Indias and the Chinas—but we also have very strong relations with our Commonwealth partners. We should be encouraging our trade relations with all those countries”.

See also ‘David Cameron: I will kill off safety culture‘ by Andrew Woodcock, Dan Bentley, and Ben Glaze/Independent (5th January 2012).

What this would have amounted to, of course, was the removal of workers’ rights, environmental standards, health and safety laws; and consumer protections.

In that respect, it prefigured the interests intended to be served by the Great Repeal Bill; initiated through Parliament, in March 2017. David Davis MP was quite upfront about the agenda at work therein. Other Conservative MPs followed suit.

The Great Repeal Bill was also viewed enthusiastically by Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, as a means for wholesale deregulation.

For a more critical perspective, see ‘This is why “The Great Repeal Bill” is such a big threat to British democracy‘ by Nick Dearden/Independent (7th September 2017).

Likewise, in December 2016, the Conservative MPs John Whittingdale and Michael Gove openly encouraged the Confederation of British Industry to outline which EU regulations they wanted to see abolished, after Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Moreover, Martin Callanan MP was appointed to the Department for Exiting the EU in October 2017; having stated in February 2012 that the European Union should “scrap the working time directive, the agency workers’ directive, the pregnant workers’ directive and other barriers to actually employing people”.

There are even more direct points of comparison between David Cameron and the Brexit-advocates, however. For instance, the Coalition government’s agreement of 2010 had a section devoted to Europe (p. 19).

While it outlined a commitment to ensuring that “the British Government is a positive participant in the European Union”, it notes that:

“we will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences and will, in particular, work to  limit the application of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom” (p. 19).

It also announced support for “further enlargement of the EU” (p. 19). It therefore seems fairly clear that Cameron, and Nick Clegg, had wanted an expansion of opportunities for UK companies to profiteer.

This was not limited to British businesses, however. Cameron’s government had been at the forefront of efforts to permit low-quality Chinese steel to be dumped in European countries. There is a clear point of comparison between this scenario, and the crudely stated aims of Brexit-campaigners, such as Patrick Minford.

While it is slightly tangential, just as Theresa May had attempted to bypass Parliament in order to undertake the Article 50 process; Global Justice Now were the recipients of leaked documents – which indicate that David Cameron had sought to sideline Parliament, while ratifying the trade-agreement between Canada and the EU.

Furthermore, David Cameron had announced a programme to limit EU regulatory Red Tape, in 2013. In April 2017, Theresa May’s government inaugurated the Red Tape Initiative – designed to identify and reduce EU regulations.

It is noteworthy that its staff and advisory board include personnel drawn from both opponents, and supporters, of Brexit.

Among them are Martin Howe and Theresa Villiers MP – both involved in Business For Britain’s subsidiary, Lawyers for Brexit; along with Charles Moore and Archie Norman from Policy Exchange.

Equally noteworthy is Oliver Lewis; who is listed as:

“the Research Director of the successful Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. Before that, he was the Research Director for Business for Britain”.

Furthermore, Lewis is the director of Hanbury Strategy – a Conservative political strategy firm, created by the former adviser to David Cameron, Ameet Gill; and the former British Bankers’ Association director, Paul Stephenson. Hanbury Strategy assisted in Emmanuel Macron’s Presidential campaign, during 2016.

Notably, several Labour MPs are listed as advisers: namely, Frank Field, and Stephen Timms. Along with Liam Byrne, who is involved in the Institute For Government – a think-tank, run by David Sainsbury; who was a major financial supporter of Stronger In.

The Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, is also a member of the advisory panel; having previously encouraged UK businesses to exploit weak employment laws, as a government minister in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, during 2013.

 

[30] See ‘Vote Leave campaigner and Tory donor behind Parents and Teachers for Excellence campaign‘ by John Dickens/Schools Week (22nd September 2016).

 

[31] Following the EU referendum result, Helena Morrissey would exploit the loss of value in a number of companies, to purchase them. Newton Investment Management as a whole were less insouciant, to judge by their immediate response, however.

It became clear after the referendum that Morrissey’s motivations were not political, but purely financial. She is quoted in the Telegraph, stating “the ideal situation is a tailored deal to give financial services more open access [to the EU markets] than the rest of the country”. Which would of course mean that people misled into voting for Brexit would lose out, in favour of people like Morrissey – who had helped mislead them.

The European Union’s chief Brexit-negotiator, Michael Barnier, would rule-out “a special deal” for the city of London, in December 2017.

‘Eurosceptics’ would bemoan the reforms secured by David Cameron during 2015-16. See ‘EU Reform Deal: What Cameron Wanted and What He Got‘ by the BBC (20th February 2016).

See also ‘EU Referendum Plan Savaged By Tory MPs, “Is That It?” They Ask David Cameron‘ by Ned Simons/Huffington Post (10th November 2015)

For the discussion in the House Of Commons, see ‘Europe: Renegotiation’ by Hansard (10th November 2015).

 

[32] George Eustice also joined the public relations group, Portland PR, in 2009. Eustice had been a founder of both Fresh Start, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group For European Reform.

Portland PR plays an active role in Brexit-lobbying on behalf of business; in a way which reflects the opportunism underscoring these efforts.

For example, Alastair Campbell works for Portland Communications. Campbell is one of the more high-profile opponents of Brexit; yet Portland’s former employee, Mark Wallace, campaigned for Britain to leave the EU – and used Portland’s site to advocate the most extreme version of Brexit.

Moreover, Portland’s Brexit-lobbying department has employed Amy Richards – from the Stronger In campaign, and formerly an adviser to Labour MP Yvette Cooper; but it also employed Henry Cook – a special adviser to Michael Gove, and formerly of Vote Leave.

For more on the relationship between Portland PR and Parliament, see ‘The curious case of Michael Gove, Portland and the ever-revolving door‘ by David Singleton/Total Politics (27th September 2017).

Portland’s staff also includes a significant number of former advisers to Tony Blair; who has himself been involved in public relations work, on behalf of repressive governments.

Blair would also be receptive to lobbying from multinational businesses, during his tenure as Prime Minister. This included the tobacco industry.

Notably, while several media outlets have promoted a conspiracy theory that Vladimir Putin played an operative role behind the vote for Brexit; his government had been a client of Portland – between 2006-14.

 

[33] David Cameron also had a number of dubious affiliations via the Leader’s Group: a club for the highest-paying Conservative Party donors; which evidently granted them opportunities to influence Cameron.

Among its members was the Conservative peer, and Brexit-advocate, Philip Harris; along with Henry Angest, and Anthony Bamford – who also funded organisations which campaigned to leave the EU.

For further information on David Cameron using his position to lobby the EU on behalf of big business – evidently meeting with a degree of reciprocity from the European Commission – see ‘Cameron and the European Commission: doing the business of business‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (6th May 2015).

The Conservative Party Leader’s Group continues to lobby Theresa May, as reported by the Mirror on 15th December 2017 and 4th January 2018. The Conservative Party has a number of donor clubs; wherein its financial supporters can gain access to ministers, and members of Parliament.

 

[34] Vote Leave was founded in October 2015 by Matthew Elliot and Dominic Cummings. It was a cross-party organisation, featuring donors and MPs who supported the Conservatives, Ukip, and Labour. This was outlined in Vote Leave’s registration document, submitted to the Electoral Commission.

The Taxpayer’s Alliance was the key group behind Vote Leave, however; while its staff were predominantly involved with the Conservative Party. This lineage can be surmised directly from two articles published on Conservative Home by Jonathan Isaby – chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

See ‘Jonathan Isaby: Ten policy victories from the first ten years of the TaxPayers’ Alliance’ by Jonathan Isaby/Conservative Home (12th February 2014)

And ‘Jonathan Isaby: Introducing Brexit Central‘ by Jonathan Isaby/Conservative Home (19th August 2016).

Isaby would leave his post at the Taxpayer’s Alliance in order to become editor of Brexit Central.

According to the Telegraph in 2014, David Cameron had wanted to appoint Matthew Elliott as his director of strategy. Theresa May would reputedly make the same consideration, in 2017.

Moreover, as Powerbase note:

“Most of the known Taxpayers’ Alliance funders also donate money to the Conservative Party, these donors include Anthony Bamford, Robert Edmiston, Stuart Wheeler, Christopher Kelly, Patrick Barbour, Rocco Forte and Tony Gallagher.

Two of them, Stuart Wheeler and Patrick Barbour, donate to UKIP and one, Tony Gallagher, has given donations to both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.”

See also ‘Globalisation: Taxpayers’ Alliance‘ by Powerbase.

For more on the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s backers, and the interests it exists to serve, see ‘Who is behind the Taxpayers’ Alliance‘ by Robert Booth/Guardian (9th October 2009).

Their backers include corporate executives – such as Bamford – who would campaign for Brexit; along with Mike Denham – a former Conservative Treasury official.

The group’s academic advisory council has included the likes of Ruth Lea, Kevin Dowd, and Eamonn Butler; who would all play a key role in similar ‘Eurosceptic’ think-tanks, and the Brexit campaign.

In addition to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Ukip, Global Vision, and Vote Leave, Patrick Barbour also funded the Stockholm Network.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance reportedly drew inspiration from the astroturfing efforts of Grover Norquist – who created Americans For Tax Reform; which arguably served as its precursor.

 

[35] See “In the last year the Daily Mail quoted the TPA in 517 articles. The Sun obliged 307 times, once bizarrely on page 3 when a topless Keeley parroted the TPA’s line against energy taxes. The Guardian mentioned the group 29 times” in ‘Who is behind the Taxpayers’ Alliance‘ by Robert Booth/Guardian (9th October 2009).

It is significant that the MPs’ expenses scandal was serialized by the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph would publish extracts from Business For Britain’s ‘Change Or Go’ pamphlet, leading up to the EU referendum (it is not clear whether topless Keeley advertised Business For Britain’s message elsewhere, however).

See ‘The true costs and benefits of staying in the EU – or leaving‘ by Jon Moynihan, Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott, Luke Johnson, Mark Littlewood, John Mills, Helena Morrissey and Matthew Ridley (21st June 2015).

Also ‘Time for the City to speak up on the case for Brexit‘ by Peter Cruddas/Telegraph (23rd June 2015).  

And ‘Immigration: Britain can only control who comes in if we leave the EU‘ by Jon Moynihan, Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott, Luke Johnson, Mark Littlewood, John Mills, Helena Morrissey and Matthew Ridley/Telegraph (25th June 2015).

Matthew Elliott published a self-congratulatory write-up of this lobbying effort, on Brexit Central (27th September 2016). 

The Taxpayers’ Alliance had also played a role in the harmful welfare reforms introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, between 2010-15.

Their annual review 2009-10 denoted the organisation’s campaign to reduce public expenditure – and one area of concern was the benefit system (p. 21).

They had created a video called ‘Welfare Reform In Tough Times’ – which promoted a claim that the benefit system incurred an “annual fraud and error bill of £4.5 billion” (p. 21). It also advocated making the benefit system “simpler”; to “improve incentives to work”, and “cut costs” (p. 21).

As the Taxpayer’s Alliance boast, they secured a “policy victory” when the government’s Emergency Budget of 2010 increased the personal tax allowance. They also noted that they would be “working closely” with Iain Duncan Smith, during his welfare reform consultation exercise (p. 21).

The Taxpayers’ Alliance would not quite get the system they were lobbying for here. Nonetheless, it is striking how many of the organisation’s rhetorical flourishes would be adopted by Conservative ministers; and would thereafter inform government communication.

See, for example ‘Britain hit by £10bn tax credit fraudsters, claims Duncan Smith‘ by Robert Winnett/Telegraph (30th December 2012), which repeatedly bemoans the supposed cost to “taxpayers”.

As well as ‘Benefits for workers may be scrapped altogether in welfare revolution‘ by Daniel Martin/Daily Mail (31st July 2010). Note the reference to the proposed welfare system “pushed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance”.

On 30th July 2010, the Taxpayer’s Alliance boasted that:

“The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) today welcomed the 21st Century Welfare report released this morning by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which cites TPA research and argues for a major simplification of the benefit system”.

In fact, during 2010, they had published a report themselves, entitled ‘Welfare Reform In Tough Fiscal Times‘. One of its authors was Corin Taylor; who would contribute to a lobbying document created by Iain Duncan Smith’s think-tank – the Centre For Social Justice – in 2013.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance also proclaimed a “policy victory” for reforming welfare, claiming that “our Work for the Dole proposal was adopted in September 2013; within a month of its publication”.

In reality, workfare was introduced by the Labour government in 2008. The new regulations applied by the Conservative-led government to these schemes had been declared illegal in February 2013.

Nonetheless, during September 2013, George Osborne announced a policy which he referred to as “work for the dole”. This was evidently briefed extensively to media outlets.

Osborne and David Cameron’s vulgar rhetoric towards benefit-recipients also seems to have been derived from the Taxpayers’ Alliance; who were openly disdainful towards “dole scroungers”, as they phrased it in 2008.

It is notable that a piece they published in 2007 quotes “the reboubtable Frank Field” opining that incapacity benefit “is a racket, which governments have allowed to exist for far too long”.

In fact, the Taxpayers’ Alliance have been quoted frequently in tabloids, demanding reductions of social security. See, for example:

Taxpayers’ foot bill for scroungers £1/2m home‘ by Tony Bonnici/Express (24th July 2007)

Madness of Britain’s handout culture: Scroungers rake in £85,000 a year from benefits‘ by Giles Sheldrick/Express (14th May 2014)

REVEALED: How UK’s most notorious benefit scroungers spend OUR cash‘ by Bradley Jolly/Daily Star (24th July 2016).

The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s tropes would also be echoed by an electioneering-advert run by the Conservatives in marginal constituencies, during 2012.

The reforms applied by Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne – to the satisfaction of the Taxpayers’ Alliance – caused significant levels of suffering, premature deaths, and suicides among benefit claimants; especially for disabled people. There is no reference to these outcomes on the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s website. They are not listed under “policy victories”.

 

[36] Lee Rotherham had been involved in the European Foundation, which was another in the endless series of ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying groups. In this case, it had been created by the Conservative MP, William Cash; who would campaign for Brexit during the EU referendum.

The European Foundation featured numerous Tory MPs, however, and published a regular journal – edited by another Taxpayers’ Alliance factotum, Sara Rainwater; with contributions from Conservative politicians who would advocate Brexit – such as Liam Fox and Owen Paterson.

As noted by his biography on the Taxpayers’ Alliance website, Rotherham had also been a researcher for the self-styled Westminster Group of Eight – that is, 8 Conservative MPs; who had demanded a referendum on EU membership while John Major was Prime Minister.

Furthermore, according to his Linked In profile, Rotherham was the director of the Centre for European Studies – which was created by the Conservative MP, Richard Body; who founded the Anti-Common Market League. This reformulated itself as the fairly shadowy organisation, Get Britain Out in 2007, which supported Brexit.

Also noted on Linked In, Rotherham was a “Co-author” of “Change or Go 2015 – 2015”. That is, “one of the three lead co-authors of the 1000 page analysis of Brexit, that received a full week’s coverage in the Daily Telegraph”.

 

[37] Matthew Sinclair would lobby on behalf of the Tobacco industry in 2011. See the aforementioned letter ‘Enemies Of Enterprise Seek Controls On Tobacco‘ published in the Telegraph on 9th March 2011; signed by representatives of various other think-tanks.

For more on the activities of the Koch brothers, and the groups they fund, see ‘How corporate dark money is taking power on both sides of the Atlantic‘ by George Monbiot/Guardian (2nd February 2017).

 

[38] Better Off Out was evidently a fairly cynical lobbying group, as indicated by Mark Wallace himself during a short presentation in 2016 – wherein Wallace talks about which public attitudes need to be manipulated by the Brexit campaigners. As with so many of these organisations, Better Off Out featured input from Ruth Lea.

 

[39] See ‘The Great European Rip-Off‘ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (1st March 2009). And ‘A Great EU Action Day: Stop The EU Rip-Off!‘ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (8th May 2009).

 

[40] The Taxpayers’ Alliance seem to have enlisted the botanist, David Bellamy, to front this campaign. Bellamy is not the reputable scientific figure that the Taxpayers’ Alliance suggest – he has engaged in climate-change denial, for example.

In March 2008, Bellamy was a guest speaker at an ‘International Conference On Climate Change‘, hosted by the Heartland Institute – which has received funding from Exxon.

For criticism of Bellamy, see ‘Junk Science‘ by George Monbiot (10th May 2005). See also ‘David Bellamy‘ by DeSmogBlog.

For an in-depth analysis of Exxon’s track-record of funding think-tanks and lobbyists to misinform the public about climate-change, see ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Hot-Air‘ by the Union Of Concerned Scientists (January 2007).

 

[41] The actual pamphlet had been written by Lee Rotherham; and published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, in conjunction with Global Vision.

The headline statistic of the Common Agricultural Policy costing each British family £400 per year prefigures the same motif employed by Vote Leave in 2016 – that EU membership supposedly cost Britain £350 million per year.

It seems to be equally misleading – as Rotherham appears to have arrived at this figure by dividing the amount Britain contributes as a whole, among the general British public:

“the CAP costs the UK £10.3 billion a year, £398 per household. That is equivalent to adding around £7.65 per week to family food bills” (p. 3).

Suffice to say, for present purposes, the cost of numerous foodstuffs increased in the wake of the EU referendum – and is expected to rise as a consequence of Brexit: something reaffirmed by Simon Wolfson; who had advocated it.

In fact, the World Trade Organisation model advocated by many Leave campaigners is liable to increase the cost of some foods further still. On 4th April 2017, John Redwood and Better Off Out claimed that this form of Brexit would result in cheaper food.

In reality, as noted by the BBC: “the average WTO tariff varies from product to product, from 0% on mineral fuels and pharmaceuticals, to around 20-35% on processed food and 45-50% on meat”. This is what the vaunted ‘no deal’ scenario would entail, when food is imported from the EU.

See also ‘Brexit: True cost of UK leaving EU without trade deal revealed‘ by Ben Chu/Independent (23rd September 2016).

 

[42] See, for example:

Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy‘ by Tim Worstall; Adam Smith Institute (21st September 2008)

Common Agricultural Policy: the cap on growth‘ by Scott Benson; Civitas (27th October 2011)

More for Less: Making the EU’s farm policy work for growth and the environment‘ by Christopher Howarth, Mats Persson, and Anna Kullman; Open Europe (27th February 2012

The section “CAP, the CFP, climate change and energy policies” (p. 24) in ‘Britain and Europe: a new relationship‘ by Ruth Lea and Brian Binley; Global Vision (2012)

Abolish the CAP, let food prices tumble‘ by Kristian Niemitz; Institute For Economic Affairs (18th January 2013)

The Common Agricultural Policy is emblematic of all that is wrong with the EU‘ by Warwick Lightfoot; Brexit Central (3rd August 2017).

 

[43] This was further indicated by the Conservative MP, Owen Paterson, who campaigned for Brexit during the EU referendum; while Business For Britain’s subsidiary – Farmers For Britain, led by the Conservative Minister, George Eustice – had written a letter to the Telegraph pledging a continuation of farming subsidies. This sum was the £350 million per week which Vote Leave had elsewhere pledged to the NHS.

It is therefore possible that the Leave campaigners had no intention of maintaining farm subsidies. Yet, many of the leading Leave campaigners/supporters are themselves direct beneficiaries of this funding.

As Greenpeace noted:

“supporters and donors of Vote Leave could benefit from large pay-outs to their estates, including JCB owner, Lord Bamford; vice-president of Conservatives for Britain, Viscount Ridley; and Sir James Dyson”.

Other beneficiaries of this funding include the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre; the Conservative MP, Iain Duncan Smith; and Eustice himself.

 

[44] Cato would make much the same complaint, in 2006 – that the Common Agricultural Policy is one of “the most important obstacles to the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations on global trade liberalization”.

It cited Patrick Messerlin, who is an adviser to the European Centre for International Political Economy think-tank – a free-trade lobbying organisation. The Doha negotiations had aimed to liberalise global trade; but would breakdown in 2008 

 

[45] There is another link in this lobbying network – as both Owen Paterson and Nile Gardiner are listed as advisers to the lobbying group, the European Foundation; run by the Conservative MP, Bill Cash.

 

[46] For more examples of Owen Paterson’s lobbying efforts on behalf of agribusiness, see ‘Quit EU to embrace technology and feed world, says Paterson‘ by Phillip Case/Farmers Weekly (13th May 2016).

Also ‘NFU Responds To GM Speech By Owen Paterson‘ by National Farmers Union (20th June 2013).

And ‘Environment Groups Condemn Paterson’s Plans To Plant RoundUp Ready GM Crops In England‘ by The Land Workers’ Alliance (14th March 2014).

As well as ‘GeneWatch UK PR: Paterson and GM industry work together to open England up to RoundUp Ready GM crops‘ by GeneWatch (9th June 2014).

See also ‘Shropshire MP Owen Paterson Speaks Out In “Sex Toys” Row Over Commons Colleague‘ by Sue Austin/Shropshire Star (30th October 2017) – though this is not directly relevant to the issue of genetically-modified goods.

There is evidence that MPs have used the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture to promote the commercial interests of companies, involved in genetically-modified agriculture.

See ‘GeneWatch UK PR: GeneWatch warns of conflicts-of-interest in parliament on GM crops‘ by GeneWatch (4th January 2013).

Syngenta’s executive responded to the EU referendum, by suggesting that Brexit would allow Britain to invest more heavily in biotechnology – including genetically-modified goods.

This call for less regulation and more scientific innovation aligned with the stated ambition of a Conservative MP, Alan Mak; who complained that the European Union’s Precautionary Principle:

“meant, for example, German chemical company BASF and American agribusiness Monsanto stopping research on GM crops in Europe at a time when the Continent could have turned itself into a world leader in crop technology”.

While Mak is a minor figure, there is a revealing significance to this. On 31st October 2016, he suggested that “Britain must lead the fourth industrial revolution” – that is, the government should continue to promote business interests.

In the course of this article, Mak refers to his leadership of “the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, backed by the free-market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs”.

The Free Enterprise Group is evidently a joint project created by Conservative MPs, and the Institute Of Economic Affairs; to lobby on behalf of big business. It is therefore significant that a number of high-profile Brexit-advocates, such as Andrea Leadsom, are among its members.

So is James Cleverly MP; who functions as the group’s media contact. In 2012, Cleverly was involved in activist training, with the conservative Young Britons’ Foundation; whose advisory board includes the likes of Patrick Minford and Matthew Elliott.

It is often striking just how extensive these convoluted lobbying networks are; and how much access they have to Parliament, along with members of government.

 

[47] Paterson’s think-tank, UK2020, is based at 55 Tufton Street, London – an address it shares with groups such as Civitas, and the Taxpayers’ Alliance (amongst others). The Taxpayers’ Alliance have created a venture with a distinctly similar title: the 2020 Tax Commission.

The Fresh Start report has been removed from their website – the original link was:

http://www.eufreshstart.co.uk/LifeSciences.pdf

It is noteworthy that a copy was published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.

Fresh Start’s affiliates, Open Europe, have made their enthusiasm for genetically-modified goods clear. See ‘New rules on GMOs: a step towards a more flexible EU?‘ by Pawel Swidlicki/Open Europe (13th January 2015).

For further information about the lobbying efforts of these groups, on behalf of agribusiness, see ‘The UK Government and the GM industry: colluding to promote GM crops and foods, undermine consumer choice and ignore environmental harm‘ by GeneWatch (May 2014).

Along with ‘Conflicts of interest and fraud in the re-assessment of glyphosate in the EU, the UK and the US‘ by the Coalition against Bayer Dangers (published online by Moray Beekeeping Dinosaurs in 2014 – the original seems to be unavailable).

See also ‘Lawsuit Documents Reveal Monsanto’s Counterfeit Science Campaign‘ by the Union Of Concerned Scientists (April 2017). 

And ‘GM crops could be planted in UK from next year as EU relaxes laws‘ by Lizzie Dearden/Independent (13th June 2014)

Along with ‘Owen Paterson faces calls to reveal names of donors to private think-tank after it paid for trips around the world‘ by Caroline Mortimer/Independent (2nd March 2016).

For further reading about the problems posed by genetically-modified agriculture, see ‘Genetic Engineering Risks and Impacts‘ by the Union Of Concerned Scientists. 

In January 2018, George Freeman would enthuse that Brexit presented an opportunity for fees to be introduced to the NHS. In the process of this article, Freeman states his support for “a cross-party commission”, which will supposedly examine “how the NHS operates and how it could be improved”.

In reality, this commission appears to be an attempt at creating a cross-party consensus for ending the provision of universal healthcare. See ‘Taking politics out of the NHS? Or constructing an elitist “consensus”?‘ by Stewart Player/Open Democracy (17th January 2018).

The type of interests Freeman intends to serve can perhaps be surmised from his involvement in a Conservative Party conference event, sponsored by the private healthcare firm, Bupa; during 2014.

Its theme was the introduction of charges, when people visit NHS GPs. This event had been organised by the Social Market Foundation.

 

[48] Both the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs have excoriated environmental organisations. For example, see ‘For Sale: Environmental NGOs In Britain‘ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Energy And Environmental Legal Institute (September 2017).

The Energy And Environmental Legal Institute is an American group, with a track-record of denying climate change. See ‘Energy & Environment Legal Institute‘ by Sourcewatch.

On 5th July 2013, the Taxpayers’ Alliance published a briefing, entitled ‘EU Taxpayer Funded Environmentalism‘.

The Institute Of Economic Affairs had written a similar piece on 8th March 2013, called ‘European Commission using taxpayers’ money to fund groups that lobby for larger EU budgets and more EU regulation‘. Its author was Christopher Snowdon, who has been involved in lobbying on behalf of the tobacco and sugar industries. He is evidently one of the more unpleasant personalities involved in these efforts. 

For more responsible evaluations of the problems with the Common Agricultural Policy, see:

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)‘ by the Wildlife Trusts

Common Agricultural Policy‘ and ‘The role of the Common Agricultural Policy in flood risk mitigation‘ (February 2014) by the Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds.

The Common Agricultural Policy Reform‘ by BirdLife International

A New Food and Agriculture Policy for the European Union‘ (2013), and ‘The Common Agricultural Policy‘ by Friends Of The Earth.

For a similar analysis of the Common Fisheries Policy, see ‘Countdown 2020 – will the EU deliver its promise of healthy seas and shift to low-impact fishing?‘ by Greenpeace.

For more information on the sugar industry and the European Union, see ‘The Great EU Sugar Scam: How Europe’s sugar regime is devastating livelihoods in the developing world‘ by Kate Raworth/Oxfam (2002).

 

[49] For Monsanto’s press-release, see ‘Industry Leaders Collaborate on Precision Agriculture‘ by Monsanto (8th February 2011).

Monsanto are one of the world’s largest biotech corporations. See ‘Monsanto‘ by Sourcewatch, which details their lobbying efforts.

As with other ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbying groups, such as Open Europe, the Institute Of Economic Affairs make a fetish out of New Zealand’s agricultural model. This is an intensive and ecologically-damaging system of farming. See ‘The Changing Face Of NZ Farming‘ by Greenpeace (June 2009).

See also ‘Environmental pressures rising in New Zealand‘ by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (21st March 2017). The report which accompanies this press release is ‘OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: New Zealand 2017‘.

The Institute Of Economic Affairs continued to lobby for deregulated agriculture, after the EU referendum. In October 2016, they published a lobbying document entitled ‘Ploughing The Wrong Furrow‘.

This was written by Séan Rickard, and was created in conjunction with several European think-tanks; under the guise of the European Policy Information Center. It was advertised, uncritically, in the Guardian. See ‘Losing agricultural regulations could outweigh EU tariff costs, says thinktank‘ by Philip Inman/Guardian (18th October 2016).

 

[50] The Agricultural Industries Confederation is an agribusiness lobbying group. It was critical of Brexit; and published a manifesto calling for Britain’s agricultural system to be protected once the UK has left the European Union.

The video of Rickard’s presentation is available on Youtube, titled ‘The UK in or out of the EU – Agricultural meltdown or new opportunity?‘ by AICTube (29th November 2015). 

For the question and answer session video, see ‘Agribusiness 2016 Panel Session 2‘ by AICTube (27th November 2015)It is not quite audible whether Rickard says “I think it’d be barking mad to leave”, or “I think we’d be barking mad to leave”; but he is not British, so presumably the former is accurate.

Rickard has been involved with Open Europe and Fresh start, contributing to a panel discussion they had convened. See ‘APPG for European Reform Meeting on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’ by Open Europe (28th February 2012).

The Conservative Party MPs, Andrea Leadsom and George Eustice, were also participants. It is noteworthy that Leadsom and Eustice have both served as government ministers for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, given their involvement in these lobbying efforts.

For criticism of Rickard’s general views on agriculture, see ‘Not Necessarily, Mr Rickard‘ by the Campaign For Real Farming (18th August 2010).

 

[51] The full briefing paper is ‘Chlorinated Chicken – Why You Shouldn’t Give A Cluck‘ by Peter Spence/Adam Smith Institute (April 2017). The Adam Smith Institute seemed unable to decide which pun they should employ. See also ‘Don’t get into a flap about chlorinated chicken!‘ and ‘Don’t cry fowl play‘ both published on 24th July 2017.

Spiked Magazine made much the same complaints.

It is noteworthy that in 2015, the Institute of Economic Affairs advocated Brexit, but noted:

“the highest economic priority should therefore be to ensure that zero tariffs are maintained on bilateral trade between the UK and the EU in all areas other than agriculture” (p. 3).

Presupposing that other European Union countries agreed to this, EU agriculture would thereby be subject to tariffs within Britain; increasing its cost. This would not benefit UK farms, as their exports to the EU would be subject to the same tariffs.

So, presumably this scenario was intended to pave the way for Britain being inundated with non-European, and particularly American produce – though the Institute of Economic Affairs did not outline their motive.

Similar to chlorinated chicken, is hormone-treated beef. Both Cato and the Heritage Foundation have complained about EU restrictions on its import. The US government has followed suit.

While none of the aforementioned UK think-tanks have very much to say about this particular subject, it is noteworthy that the Institute Of Economic Affairs list the EU’s “ban on the use of hormones in cattle” among other supposed forms of protectionism; which limit the use of chemical additives in food.

See page 27 in ‘Cutting the Gordian Knot‘ by Iain Murray and Rory Broomfield/ Institute of Economic Affairs (2014).

 

[52] The Adam Smith Institute also advocated “a shift to a ‘polluter pays’ principle”. This already applies.

For further information on the Adam Smith Institute’s lobbying on behalf of biotechnology, see ‘Adam Smith Institute‘ by DeSmogBlog.

The Institute Of Ideas undertakes similar campaigns; and has received funding from the Adam Smith Institute – which perhaps acts as an intermediary for the unacknowledged origins of this money.

A number of campaign groups have raised objections to the prospect of large-scale, high-intensity farms proliferating UK agriculture as a consequence of Brexit. See ‘Brexit likely to create a rise in UK megafarms‘ by Fiona Harvey/Guardian (28th July 2017).

It is noteworthy that Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, welcomed the prospect of megafarms. This organisation has political ties to the Conservative Party.

Although Powerbase’s information is old, among the organisation’s past funders have been a number of construction companies – who have a commercial interest in the sale of farm-land.

This is something which several advocates of Brexit have lobbied to facilitate. It is not clear whether there is currently a conflict of interest, however, as the Countryside Alliance are not transparent about their sources of funding.

 

[53] See also ‘Post-Brexit Britain Should Adopt Unilateral Free Trade‘ by Ryan Bourne/Institute Of Economic Affairs (20th July 2016).

 

[54] It is also noteworthy that agriculture in Wales – and Scotland – would be affected with especial severity by trade-liberalisation; due to their higher ratio of livestock farms.

The website, CapX, had published an article on 7th November 2017; which advocated ending the subsidies that Welsh livestock farms depend upon. However, the CapX website notes that “CapX is owned and produced by the Centre for Policy Studies. Its Director, Robert Colvile, is CapX’s Editor-in-Chief”.

The Centre for Policy Studies is a Thatcherite think-tank; staffed by a significant number of Conservative MPs, and their affiliates.

Its Board of Directors have included Ruth Lea; as well as the Brexit-campaigner – and Conservative Party donor – Rocco Forte. It also includes Meg Allen – a supporter of Open Europe, and a trustee of the Heritage Foundation. The Centre for Policy Studies had itself lobbied for Brexit, and for the liberalisation of Britain’s agricultural trade.

In 2008, the Centre for Policy Studies would claim that the Labour Party, rather than the UK’s financial district, had been responsible for the banking crisis. During 2011, they had lobbied for Lloyds bank to be re-privatized, after it received a bailout of public funds; and would advocate granting the City of London’s banks priority treatment during Brexit, in September 2016.

It is notable that the Centre For Policy Studies has links to the Heritage Foundation, and to the Institute Of Economic Affairs. Indicative of the purposes served by this network, Rupert Murdoch had given a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in 2010.

Murdoch has also been affiliated, less directly, with the Institute Of Economic Affairs; which he would praise in 1994, as the progenitor for an international network of free-market think-tanks.

Margaret Thatcher’s government was evidently a key part of this overall nexus. To a significant extent, the governments led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron would follow suit.

However, Murdoch’s News Corporation publications would be divided over the EU referendum. While The Sun advocated Brexit, The Times opposed it. It is not clear why they diverged; yet the agenda behind both positions was evidently the same. Namely, to further the profiteering of companies like News Corporation.

 

[55] There is an abundance of information relating to corporate lobbying of the EU, by the agricultural sector. The scale of it is unique.

As reported by Corporate Europe Observatory, in 2012 agribusiness lobbyists “outnumber other voices by four to one according to figures in the EU transparency register”. During this epoch, there was a concerted effort at:

“pushing the Commission to direct the €4.5 billion research budget towards more environmentally damaging intensive approaches based on the ‘bioeconomy’ which uses plant material for food, fuel and other products”.

See also:

Agribusiness CAPturing EU research money?‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (26th June 2012)

Lobbying the European Union by Committee‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (3rd July 2007)

Screening of new Monsanto Papers‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (8th November 2017). 

Powerbase have compiled profiles of biotech lobbyists, such as Monsanto; and the Science Media Centre – whose funders include AstraZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Syngenta. See also their section on the Biotech Industry.

Agribusiness lobbying in the United States is equally extensive – as recorded by Open Secrets.

 

[56] For a significant example of similar demands, see ‘A Blueprint for Britain: Openness not Isolation‘ by Iain Mansfield/Institute Of Economic Affairs (2014).

This briefing was upfront about the model of trade which advocates of Brexit wanted to attain. China, the United States and Russia were the highest priority as future trading partners (pp. 17-18).

Moreover, the author states that:

“The outcome would be to accelerate the shifting pattern of UK’s exports and total trade away from the EU to the emerging markets, where the majority of the world’s growth is located.

A more business friendly regulatory regime and the new security of the City of London from European interference will enhance competitiveness and compensate for the partial loss of access to European markets.” (p. 3)

This essay was awarded a lucrative prize by the Institute Of Economic Affairs; and would form the bedrock of their key Brexit lobbying publication.

See also:

A Trade Policy for a Brexited Britain‘ by Kevin Dowd/Institute Of Economic Affairs (18th August 2017)

Brexit And Free Trade‘ by Sam Winders/the Bruges Group (2016)

Nothing to declare: A plan for UK-EU trade outside the Customs Union‘ by Aarti Shankar, Stephen Booth, and Vincenzo Scarpetta/Open Europe (27th March 2017)

Global Britain: Priorities for trade beyond the EU‘ by Aarti Shankar, Alex Greer, Henry Newman, Stephen Booth, Vincenzo Scarpetta/Open Europe (25th April 2017).

Open Europe’s lobbying was promoted through the media. See ‘UK can replace EU trade by picking trade partners wisely, says Open Europe‘ by Tim Wallace/Telegraph (25th April 2017).

Aside from contributing to Open Europe’s publications, which had advocated the most extreme form of Brexit, Aarti Shankar works for a think-tank called European Movement UK – which is dedicated to preventing Brexit.

This organisation is a cross-party Parliamentary group; but notably, one of its executives is the Conservative MP, Stephen Dorrell – who has facilitated the privatisation of healthcare. Corporate lobbying is not limited to people who support Brexit, of course: its opponents are often wed to the same overall set of priorities, too.

Suffice to say, while these groups repeatedly complained that EU growth had slowed in recent years, they invariably neglected to mention that this downturn had occurred as a result of the financial Crisis, of 2008.

 

[57] For an overview of bilateral trade agreements, and the problems they pose, see:

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and ISDS‘ by the Trade Justice Movement.

Fighting FTAs: the growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements‘ by Bilaterals.org (January 2008)

The Neoliberal Turn In Regional Trade Agreements‘ by James Thuo Gathii/Washington Law Review Association (2011).

Bilateral Trade and Investment Deals a Serious Challenge to Global Justice Movements’ by Aziz Choudry/GRAIN (December 2003)

Ecuador rips up 16 toxic trade treaties‘ by Nick Dearden/Global Justice Now (25th May 2017).

 

[58] This was made relatively clear in a pamphlet published by the Institute Of Economic Affairs, during August 2017; which bemoaned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, precisely because of the environmental standards and employment rights it incorporated:

“The problem is that removing trade barriers is no longer the focus of the ‘big’ recent trade deals. For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) does not even mention trade in its title and focuses instead on regulatory harmonisation (e.g. of environmental and labour standards) and the woolly notion of ‘partnership’” (p. 29).

By more responsible accounts, the Trans-Pacific Partnership made very limited provisions for workers, and the environment.

 

[59] A noteworthy claim made by Monteith/Global Britain in both ‘Making Aid Work Outside the EU‘, and via an article in City AM, concerned tomato farming in Ghana.

These repeated the same basic contention that:

“the Ghanaian tomato industry has largely been destroyed by the dumping of subsidised Italian tinned tomatoes, forcing Ghanaian farmers to migrate illegally to work on Italian tomato farms where they are known as ‘the invisible ones of the harvest'”.

The source for this claim was an article by Al Jazeera, which says something quite different:

“The failure of the Pwalugu processing factory, the strong competition from neighbouring Burkina Faso and especially the arrival of a wave of tinned tomato imports from Italy and China destroyed the dreams of the farmers in the region”.

This is evidently a more complex picture than the one presented by Monteith.

So why had he ignored the other factors; and simply cited the impact of imports from Italy? More to the point, how does this scenario provide a justification for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU?

The problems Ghanaians have experienced were primarily due to the influx of cheap foreign produce. This is the same agricultural system that Monteith and his peers want to see adopted by Britain, in the wake of Brexit; which would surely have a similarly damaging impact on UK farmers.

In fact, the Al Jazeera article quotes “Philip Ayamba, the Director of the Community Self Reliance Centre, an organisation closely associated with tomato producers”, who suggests that government regulation of the market would have prevented the damage to Ghana’s tomato farmers.

Moreover, the exploitation of Ghanaian migrant workers is an upshot of the migratory system advocated by Brexit-campaigners, such as Monteith and his peers.

See also ‘UK must leave EU aid schemes to help developing countries and save lives’ by Global Britain (27th September 2016).

Brian Monteith has been particularly insistent on this theme of putative concern for Africa. On 16th March 2006, he complained in the Scottish Parliament:

“Members have mentioned that the European Union is the greatest obstacle to improving trade conditions for the poor of Africa”.

He therefore proposed that:

“we can abolish—not reform—the common agricultural policy; if we cannot do so, we can leave the European Union and trade freely with the world’s poor. The obscenity of trade injustice cannot continue”

However, he appears to have plagiarised an otherwise decidedly incoherent paper, published by the Institute Of Economic Affairs on 5th March 2006. Its author, John Blundell, asks:

“What is Mugabe’s main source of income? Tobacco, maize, or lignite? No it is aid, much of it not with the faintly sanctimonious glow of UK official gifting but from Libya and China. Zimbabwe’s Torture State is only sustained by subsidies”.

A fortnight later, Monteith contended that:

“The profits from tobacco, maize or lignite—which used to be ample in his country—do not keep Mugabe in power; it is the economic aid from Libya and China that ensures that he can maintain his grip”.

See also ‘Why Brexit is the best thing that could have happened for the world’s developing nations‘ by Brian Monteith/Brexit Central (28th September 2016). 

There is a precedent for this rhetoric; but its origins do not lie in philanthropy. Instead, it revolves around the commercial interests of US businesses.

For example, The Heritage Foundation has claimed that developmental aid has “helped to perpetuate poverty in Africa”; and has lobbied for the US government to pursue free-market policies, instead.

Of particular relevance here, however, are transnational companies involved in biotechnology; especially genetically-modified produce.

These have long been advocated by the companies who stand to profit from their sale, on the basis that they provide the solution to world hunger; and Africa is seen as a key market therein.

A particularly egregious example occurred in 2002; when the UN’s World Food Programme attempted to force Zambia’s government into accepting genetically-modified food, during a famine.

That commercial concerns are the core aim of some Brexit-campaigners was clarified by a speech Owen Paterson MP delivered at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, on 4th October 2017.

As he claimed “when I visited South Africa in 2014, I saw at first hand the benefits that GM corn had brought the local smallholders” (p. 8). He also complained about “Greenpeace’s war on Golden Rice” (p. 8); and contended that:

“had Golden Rice been a part of their diet, millions of young eyes and millions of young lives, primarily in Africa and South Asia, would have been saved” (p. 8).

There is no substance to these claims. Golden Rice was a genetically-modified crop, patented by Syngenta, and a German firm called Greenovation. It proved highly damaging to local eco-systems. See ‘“Golden Rice”, Patents and Vitamin A Deficiency‘ by Helena Paul and Ricarda Steinbrecher/EcoNexus (October 2003).

For more on the issues surrounding genetically-modified crops in South Africa, see ‘GM Crops‘ by BioWatch.

Arguably the key significance concerns property rights: genetically-modified variants are subject to patents; thereby depriving farmers of ownership. It prevents them cultivating their own seeds; and leaves them dependent on corporations.

It can also result in them being sued, should crop contamination occur. See ‘Percy Schmeiser vs Monsanto: The Story of a Canadian Farmer’s Fight to Defend the Rights of Farmers and the Future of Seeds‘ by Democracy Now (17th September 2010).

For further information about the lobbying effort behind such initiatives, see ‘Africa Harvest Biotechnology Foundation International‘ by Powerbase. As well as their profile on Croplife International, and their general directory of GM Lobby Groups.

See also ‘GM Technology Fails Local Potatoes‘ by Africa News (29th January 2004). This particular issue has been discussed in detail by GM Watch

For an analysis of how the biotech industry promotes its business interests under the guise of humanitarian rhetoric, see ‘ISAAA in Asia: Promoting corporate profits in the name of the poor‘ by Devlin Kuyek/Grain (25th October 2000).

As a critical response to this practice, see ‘Voices from the South: The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on Genetically Engineered Crops‘ by Ellen Hickey and Anuradha Mittal (May 2003).

 

[60] See, for example, ‘Nigeria’s torture chambers exposed in new report‘ by Amnesty International (18th September 2014). Along with Amnesty’s overviews of Pakistan, Tunisia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago.

 

[61] The UK government has actively facilitated Adam Smith International’s profiteering, by helping it to secure aid-contracts.

The Department For International Trade notes that Adam Smith International was “assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which has since moved to the Department for International Trade” in ‘Adam Smith International signs £8 million agreement with MCC‘ by the Department For International Trade (5th February 2015).

The press release quotes Peter Young, “Strategic Director at Adam Smith International”; who says:

“UKTI has been incredibly supportive of our business, proactively giving us access to its networks, and getting us in front of new donor clients, like USAid and MCC. Having their backing is a real asset to our business”.

Young would resign in March 2017, along with two other executives of Adam Smith International, following allegations of misconduct. See ‘UK aid company bosses quit in crackdown on profiteering‘ by Matthew Weaver and Ben Quinn/Guardian (2nd March 2017).

As it should happen, Peter Young had been a member of the Federation Of Conservative Students, at the same time as Brian Monteith.

Moreover, Adam Smith International is run by Amphion Group; one of whose directors was Malcolm Rifkind, until August 2017. Rifkind has repeatedly been involved in lobbying for the privatisation of public services, within Britain.

It would seem that Adam Smith International served the same purpose overseas. See ‘The Privatisation of UK aid: How Adam Smith International is profiting from the aid budget‘ by Global Justice (April 2016).

See also ‘The Hunger Games: how DFID support for agribusiness is fuelling poverty in Africa‘ by Mark Curtis and John Hilary/War On want (December 2012).

The Adam Smith Institute were fairly clear about Brexit creating an opening for genetically-modified goods to be sold in China. See ‘Food for the future: Chinese food security and the opportunities of Brexit‘ by Honor Shelton/Adam Smith Institute (9th September 2016).

The original address for Brian Monteith’s document was:

http://www.enable-nigeria.com/bmopartners/download/14

It seems to be an unreliable link, however; so I have uploaded a copy. See ‘How to influence policy makers: developing your advocacy campaign’ by Brian Monteith/Enable Nigeria.

For a broader overview of this subject, see ‘UK government exporting Public-Private Partnerships‘ by Jenny Nelson/New Internationalist (18th January 2018).

 

[62] Much the same people had been behind the ‘Eurosceptic’ organisation, the Bruges Group; whose advisers included Ruth Lea and Patrick Minford. Malcolm Pearson is listed among its sponsors and patrons.

Other figures involved in this group include Rocco ForteRalph Harris, Robert Oulds, and Tim Congdon. Harris died in 2006 – but his colleagues in the Bruges Group would play an operative role in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU; under a variety of guises.

 

[63] Brian Monteith was appointed as policy director of the Free Society, in February 2008. The Free Society published Monteith’s book The Bully State; which seems to be of a piece with the pro-tobacco lobbying he has engaged in, along with Christopher Snowdon, and members of the Living Marxism Network.

For a segue of all three, see ‘Our Humourless, Illiberal, Curmudgeonly Rulers‘ by Chris Snowdon/Spiked (27th November 2009) – which provides an adulatory appraisal of Monteith’s book.

See also ‘Political commentator and former MSP to edit Forest’s Free Society website‘ by Forest (21st August 2013) – which notes that “Forest has appointed political commentator and former member of the Scottish Parliament Brian Monteith as editor of its Free Society website”.

Forest are a pro-tobacco industry campaign group; and lobbied against the introduction of mandatory plain packaging on tobacco products. Their Youtube channel compiles videos of various speakers at a conference, called ‘Stop The Nonsense: Plain Speaking On Plain Packaging‘, in March 2015.

Among them were Madsen Pirie – president of the Adam Smith Institute; John O’ Connell from the Taxpayers’ Alliance; Rory Broomfield – from the Freedom Association, and director of Better Off Out; Christoper Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs; Claire Fox from the Institute of Ideas; and Brian Monteith – who read a statement made by the Conservative MP Damian Green.

Speeches were also given by Emily Barley, from Conservatives For Liberty; along with Mark Littlewood from the Institute Of Economic Affairs; and Simon Clark, of ForestAngela Harbutt has been involved in both Forest and the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

Suffice to say, plain packaging does not inhibit anybody’s freedom to smoke tobacco; it does curtail the profiteering of tobacco companies, however – who fund think-tanks to lobby against it.

Significantly, the Competitive Enterprise Institute had advocated Brexit – working in conjunction with Rory Broomfield from the Freedom Association, and Better Off Out. 

 

 

[64] For more information about the Living Marxism network, see ‘LM Network‘ by Powerbase; and ‘Living Marxism‘ by Sourcewatch. As the latter note:

“Views expounded with regularity in LM included opposition to sanctions on apartheid South Africa, downplaying concern over AIDS as a heterosexual disease or as a problem in Africa, attacking environmentalists and eulogising biotechnology. LM writers also engaged in a sustained campaign of denial of the 1994 Rwandan genocide”.

It is perhaps no more than a coincidence that Brian Monteith describes himself as “the Blue Trot” – given his affiliation with so many putative Marxists, whose political commitments are right-wing.

The level of dissimulation involved in these efforts is exemplified by Dennis Avery; who declaimed in 2002 that:

“The activist stance on agricultural biotech is inhumane – it lacks humanity, caring, kindness, compassion, concern for people and society – it is denying the third world equal lifespan and lifestyle choice and it is offering mainly weed-slavery in the hot sun”.

His organisation, the Hudson Institute, has received funding from biotech corporations.

 

[65] This featured a foreword by Gerard Lyons – a former economic adviser to Boris Johnson, while Johnson was the Mayor Of London. Lyons has been involved in the City of London lobbying group, City UK; along with Open Europe. He is also a member of Business For Britain’s subsidiary, Economists for Britain.

 

[66] Tim Worstall has been involved in the ‘Battle Of Ideas‘ – which is an annual lobbying event, masquerading as an academic conference; conducted by the Institute Of Ideas.

During 2014, Worstall contributed to a debate about the merits of genetically-modified foods; entitled “Feeding the world: can we engineer away hunger?“.

The involvement of Unilever – along with an advocate of ‘Megadairies’, called Amy Jackson – indicates that the interests of agribusiness, rather than world hunger, were the priority here. 

Unilever have lobbied against the labeling of genetically-modified ingredients in their goods. See also their lobbying history on Powerbase. Of note, Unilever have been supporters of the biotechnology-advocates, Sense About Science: a lobbying organisation, which is part of the Living Marxism network.

Spiked have also been involved in biotech lobbying. For example, it convened a seminar about the labeling of genetically-modified goods, in 2003. This was conducted in conjunction with the public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton; and with the International Policy Network.

It has also published an article by Channapatna S Prakash – who lobbies on behalf of genetically-modified agriculture, via his organisation Agbioworld. Both Prakash, and Spiked, have been affiliated with Gregory Conko – who is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and is also among Agbioworld’s board of directors.

All of which clearly represents a multinational effort; and this network of lobbyists has often focused on trying to facilitate the profiteering of corporate agribusiness within Africa. See ‘Voices from the South: The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on Genetically Engineered Crops‘ by Ellen Hickey and Anuradha Mittal (May 2003).

Despite employing humanitarian rhetoric, it is evident that the priorities of these various lobbyists revolve around the interests of transnational companies, such as Monsanto; not the well-being of people.

Another affiliate of the Living Marxism network is Martin Durkin; who created ‘Brexit: the Movie‘. Durkin has made other films – variously advocating genetically-modified goods and silicone breast-implants; or else promoting anti-environmental messages.

He also directed a movie bemoaning foreign aid. According to an enthusiastic review, of sorts – published by the Cobden Centre – it featured several of the think-tank personnel who played a key role in the campaign for Brexit: such as Matthew Sinclair, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance; and Mark Littlewood, from the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

This film would seem to have followed the suit of these groups, in seeking to apportion blame for the recession of 2008 on public expenditure; rather than attributing it to the banking sector, which had created it in the first place.

[67] Similar to Patrick Minford is Global Vision’s co-founder, Norman Blackwell, who was a special adviser to Margaret Thatcher between 1986-1987; and the head of John Major’s Policy Unit, from 1995-97.

Blackwell is chairman of the Centre For Policy Studies; and has worked for a variety of financial-sector companies – including Lloyds Bank, and Scottish Widows.

He was also one of the people who signed a letter of “businessmen and opinion formers”, created by the Taxpayers’ Alliance; to lobby for reduced taxes on the very wealthy. The signatories included other figures involved in ‘Eurosceptic’ and Brexit campaigning, such as Rocco Forte.

The original version of this letter seems to be no longer available on the Taxpayers’ Alliance website. However, I have uploaded a copy of it – see TPA_CPS_signatories. It is notable how many of these people have been involved in ‘Eurosceptic’ and Brexit campaigning; as it indicates one of their underlying motivations. 

Blackwell published a demand for tax-reductions, via the Centre For Policy Studies, in 2004. He has also profited from privatisation of the NHS. See ‘Tory lord Norman Blackwell in bid to land biggest NHS privatisation deal in history‘ by Jack Blanchard/Daily Mirror (3rd December 2014).

The privatisation of NHS assets continued after the referendum. Care UK were granted a £55 million contract, in October 2017. Their former chairman is John Nash – the Conservative Party peer.

For further information on this issue, see ‘The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS‘ by Tamasin Cave/Spinwatch (1st April 2015). 

Other noteworthy members of the Centre For Policy Studies board include Anthony Bamford – who funded Business For Britain, and Vote Leave; Douglas Flint – the former group chairman of HSBC; and Fraser Nelson – editor of the Spectator, and an ostensibly reluctant advocate of Brexit.

While the remainder are mainly Conservative Party affiliates, a significant quotient have a vested interest in the finance industry.

Another notable member is Niall Ferguson, who is married to the anti-Islam activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Their neo-conservatism would seem to be a trait shared by other people discussed herein – not least of all the right-wing Christian network of Parliamentarians, such as Frank Field and Iain Duncan Smith; who would put anti-immigration rhetoric in the foreground of their Brexit-advocacy.

The Ukip peer, Malcolm Pearson, has also been openly involved with Geert Wilders. Vote Leave had exploited anti-Muslim sentiment, albeit quite subtly, by positing that Turkey was set to join the EU. This is one of the more concerning aspects behind the Brexit campaign; which has generally been overlooked.

 

 

[68] See: A Vote for Brexit: What Are the Policies To Follow After And What Are The Economic Prospects?‘ by Patrick Minford/Economists For Free Trade.

And: ‘“Seal The Deal!” Consumer Gains From Brexit Free Trade Are The Real Story, Not Marmite‘ by Patrick Minford/Politeia.

See also the Prosperity Conference 2017 videos, uploaded to Youtube. These feature numerous members of Economists For Free Trade, along with figures from similar lobbying organisations; expounding on the merits of Brexit.

 

[69] Graeme Leach was previously the “main board director” at the Institute of Directors. He is also a member of the “shadow monetary policy committee” for the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

Furthermore, Leach is listed as a “senior fellow” for the Economic Policy Centre – whose advisers include previously mentioned lobbyists; such as Claire Fox, Tim Evans, Corin Taylor, and Stephen Pollard.

This is noted in a pamphlet outlining a free-market approach to tennis, of all things, in ‘Rethinking Tennis For The Big Society‘ by Dan Lewis/Economic Policy Centre (2011).

It is noteworthy that a former special adviser to Tony Blair, and Times columnist – Philip Collins – is a member of the Economic Policy Centre’s advisory board.

While Collins’ professional lineage and lobbying concerns are indistinguishable from those of his colleagues, he would be one of the more high-profile media columnists to oppose Brexit; and complain about the referendum result – which his peers had helped to deliver, of course.

Collins would seem to have prevaricated on the issue, however; opining that “we can’t leave Brexit to the Tory wreckers” in July 2017 – then suggesting that the Conservatives should be allowed to proceed with Brexit unhindered by Parliamentary opposition, in September 2017.

Another similar figure is Derek Scott – listed as “Tony Blair’s former Economic Advisor and Deputy Chairman of Open Europe” in one of Open Europe’s press releases, on 20th October 2005. He died in 2012. Beforehand, he had campaigned for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008.

It is notable that Scott was personally involved with Gisela Stuart; and was among a number of ‘Eurosceptic’ figures, involved with the Social Democratic Party. This played a key role in facilitating the Thatcher government’s re-election, during 1983. Other relevant personnel include David Owen, and Andrew Adonis.

 

[70] A number of economists were critical of Patrick Minford’s claims about the benefits of Britain withdrawing from the EU.

See:

Economist Who Claims £135billion Hard Brexit Boost For UK Guilty Of “Violence To Basic Facts Of Economic Life“‘ by Owen Bennett/Huffington Post (21st August 2017)

Economists for Brexit: A Critique‘ by Thomas Sampson, Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano and John Van Reenen/Centre For Economic Performance

The BBC and Patrick Minford‘ by Simon Wren-Lewis/Mainly Macro (23rd August 2017).

Nonetheless, Patrick Minford’s various contentions were repeated voluminously by media outlets. It seems unlikely that anyone lacking a specialised knowledge of economics would recognise the falsity of Minford’s claims.

What ‘hard Brexit’ would entail was outlined by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, on 6th July 2017.

 

[71] See also ‘A UK without manufacturing’ by Hajera Blagg/Unite Live (29th April 2016).

 

[72] See:

How the post-Brexit trade deal will affect British farmers‘ by Samuel White/Euractiv (21st August 2017)

Latest modelling shows impacts of different Brexit deals‘ by the National Farmers’ Union (18th August 2017)

Impacts of Alternative Post-Brexit Trade Agreements on UK Agriculture: Sector Analyses using the FAPRI-UK Model‘ by John Davis, Siyi Feng, Myles Patton and Julian Binfield /the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (August 2017)

NFU anger at suggestions that Britain will benefit from unilaterally lowering tariffs‘ by John Swire/Farm Business (22nd August 2017).

 

[73] A number of people involved in campaigning for Brexit have a personal interest in providing financial or business services. This is particularly evident among the personnel of Economists For Free Trade.

For example, Roger Bootle is the Chairman of Capital Economics; which provides “macroeconomic, financial market and sectoral analysis, forecasts and consultancy”, to various “corporate clients” and “specialist firms”.

As they note, however, the majority of their clients “are in the financial sector, including some of the world’s largest investment banks and wealth managers”.

David Blake is listed as “Director of the Pensions Institute” – a think-tank, which lobbies on pensions-issues; and has received sponsorship from insurance firms, and large businesses.

John Greenwood is the “Chief Economist at Invesco” – a US investment management company.

Graeme Leach is listed by Economists For Free Trade as a financial consultant; while Neil MacKinnon is described as a finance-strategist.

Martin Howe QC provides legal advice on “Intellectual Property and EU law” – he is also the chairman of the Brexit-campaign group, Lawyers For Britain; which was an offshoot of Business For Britain.

Moreover, the two co-founders of Leave.EU were Arron Banks, and Richard Tice.

Arron Banks donated more funding to the Brexit campaign than any other person. He has also given money to the Conservative Party and Ukip. He is a shareholder in 20 UK companies – including insurance, banking, and political consultancy outfits.

Likewise, as Powerbase note, Richard Tice “is chief executive of Mayfair-based property investment firm Quidnet Capital”. He has also donated money to the Conservative Party – and was one of the key figures behind Leave Means Leave; and Global Britain.

Another founder of Global Britain was Ewen Stewart, who runs a financial consultancy company, called Walbrook Economics.

Stewart is also listed among the Council members of the Freedom Association; and as an adviser to the Cobden Centre – which was created by Toby Baxendale to promote neoliberalism; as indicated by Baxendale’s biography, provided by the Legatum Institute, where he is a trustee.

Other notable members of the Cobden Centre’s advisory board include Matthew Elliott from the Taxpayers’ Alliance; the journalist, Mark Seddon, who created the ‘Peoples’ Pledge’ campaign for a referendum on EU membership; and Sam Bowman, from the Adam Smith Institute.

Tim Evans of the Stockholm Network is listed as a senior fellow. So is Kevin Dowd, who was formerly involved in the Cato Institute, Forest, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and the Institute Of Economic Affairs.

Another “senior fellow”  is Tom Clougherty who is “Executive Director of the free market Adam Smith Institute”; and worked for the Globalisation Institute “where he focused on international development issues, including microfinance and water privatization, and environmental policy”.

See also ‘The Hedge Funds that Bankrolled Brexit’ by T.J. Coles/the Plymouth Institute For Peace Research (25th November 2016). 

Hedge funds, with ties to the Conservative Party, profited from the underhanded privatisation of the Royal Mail, during October 2013. One of these was Lansdowne – run by the Conservative Party donor, Paul Ruddock.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond – who would change his mind – have both followed Patrick Minford in proposing to transform Britain into a tax-haven, once it has left the EU.

For the problems with this scenario, see ‘Why becoming a tax haven would be bad news for Britain‘ by Richard Murphy/Guardian (22nd March 2017). 

In 2012, Ruth Lea, Patrick Minford, and Open Europe were among the groups lobbying Parliament to veto or repeal EU regulations being imposed on the City of London’s financial district. See ‘The future of the European Union: UK Government policy. First Report of Session 2013–14. Volume II: Oral and Written evidence‘ by the House Of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (21st May 2013).

In October 2017, three donors to the Conservative Party and Vote Leave would lobby Theresa May to withdraw Britain from the EU’s single market and customs union. Each of them has a vested stake in financial services. David Lilley and Michael Farmer both co-founded the Red Kite hedge fund; while Jeremy Hosking is a City asset-manager.

 

[74] See:

Revealed: Liam Fox’s Post-Brexit Trade Talks with US Business Lobby and Climate Denying Think Tank the Heritage Foundation‘ by Kyla Mandel/Desmog UK (15th November 2016). 

US farms use over twice as much antibiotics as UK farms‘ by Sustain (24th November 2011).

 

[75] Minford’s piece was published without a date – it would seem to have been published online in February 2017. See ‘What shall we do if the EU will not play ball?‘ by Patrick Minford and Edgar Miller/Economists For Free Trade.

Public procurement in Britain is currently governed by EU regulations. For more information, see ‘Public Procurement‘ by the European Commission.

For a brief outline of the effect Brexit may have on this system, see ‘The impact of Brexit on UK’s £200bn public procurement spend‘ by Colin Cram/Guardian (13th June 2016).

 

[76] Cato’s website devotes an entire section to the subject of global free-trade. See ‘Trade Agreements And The WTO‘ by the Cato Institute. See also ‘Globalisation: Cato Institute‘ by Powerbase.

Ryan Bourne has been involved in the public relations and lobbying firm Media Intelligence Partners. It was created by Nick Wood, who worked as a communications director for the Conservative Party.

Media Intelligence Partners provides services to a number of Brexit-campaign groups – including Leave Means Leave, Grassroots Out, and the Legatum Institute.

It has also been involved in pro-tobacco lobbying. In 2013, the lobbying-contacts disclosure of the Conservative MEPs, Giles Bryan Chichester and Emma McClarkin, records meetings with Matthew Walsh of Media Intelligence Partners/Phillip Morris. This concerned the EU’s tobacco products directive.

See also ‘Media Intelligence Partners‘ by Powerbase.

 

[77] Unlike the Institute Of Economic Affairs, the Guardian outlines the fact that:

“Fairtrade-certified farming co-operatives receive a ‘social premium’ of between 5% and 10% over the open-market price for their crops, as well as a minimum price guarantee should volatile commodity markets drop below a certain level”.

For the Institute Of Economic Affairs’ report, see ‘Fair Trade Without The Froth‘ by Sushil Mohan/Institute Of Economic Affairs (2010).

 

[78] See pages 111-112 in ‘Fair Trade Without The Froth‘ by Sushil Mohan/Institute Of Economic Affairs (2010).

See also ‘Removing non-tariff barriers essential to help developing countries, new research shows’ by the Institute Of Economic Affairs (13th November 2012).

 

[79] See ‘Factsheet: Atlas Economic Research Foundation‘ and ‘Factsheet: International Policy Network‘ by Exxon Secrets.

The Network For A Free Society is a subsidiary of these two organisations. It campaigns for corporate-profiteering throughout Africa, South America, and Asia.

Linda Whetsone is also listed as a board-member of a think-tank based in Nigeria, called Initiative For Public Policy Analysis; as are Gordon Johnson and Brian Lee Crowley – who both have backgrounds in lobbying for the privatisation of public services.

See also ‘International Policy Network‘ by Desmog.

 

[80] For example, Roger Bate from the Institute Of Economic Affairs, and the International Policy Network – along with individuals from the Free Market Foundation (whose advisers include Patrick Minford), and the American Enterprise Institute – created the organisation, Africa Fighting Malaria, in 2000.

The same year, it launched a campaign, called “Save Children From Malaria“. This received support from the Competitive Enterprise Institute – along with a mining and petroleum company, called BHP Billiton plc; and the Liberty Institute – amongst others.

In reality, this effort was being conducted on behalf of companies that produce the pesticide, DDT; which has poisoned people, wildlife, and the environment.

Africa Fighting Malaria has received funding from Exxon, and the tobacco industry. See ‘Africa Fighting Malaria‘ by Sourcewatch; and ‘Africa Fighting Malaria‘ by Desmog.

Furthermore, ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air‘, by the Union of Concerned Scientists, notes that Africa Fighting Malaria “received $30,000 donation in 2004 for ‘climate change outreach’” (p. 31).

Roger Bate also co-founded the European Science and Environment Forum –
as noted in his biography on the American Enterprise Institute‘s website.

For further information about its activities, see ‘European Science and Environment Forum‘ by Powerbase. See also ‘The Secret Love Affair Between Roger Bate And Big Tobacco‘ by Brendan Montague/Desmog UK (14th February 2015).

One of the individuals whose work was published by the European Science and Environment Forum is Bill Durodié – who is involved in the Living Marxism network. 

 

[81] For an example of intellectual property rights jeopardizing public healthcare, see ‘Free Trade Agreement Between the USA and Thailand Threatens Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment‘ by Oxfam (12th July 2004).

 

[82] Oxfam’s proposed remedies were the opposite of those advocated by the Institute Of Economic Affairs. See ‘Signing Away The Future‘ by Oxfam (March 2007).

Rather than extreme trade-liberalisation, Oxfam wanted trade rules to “enable developing countries to adopt flexible intellectual-property legislation to ensure the primacy of public health and agricultural livelihoods and protect traditional knowledge and biodiversity” (p. 4).

They also suggested recognizing “the right of governments to regulate the entry of foreign investors to promote development and the creation of decent employment, and include commitments to enforce core labour standards for all workers” (p. 4) – while actively including small businesses, trade unions, non-government organisations, women’s groups, and indigenous peoples in decision-making (pp. 3-4).

 

[83] Oxfam have been highly critical of agricultural dumping. For example:

“the United States and European Union spend US$1 billion a day subsidising their farmers. When these farmers produce too much, the extra produce is sold to developing countries at vastly reduced prices. This then pushes down the price of local produce, so poor farmers can’t compete”

in ‘What’s stopping fair world trade‘ by Oxfam.

See also ‘Farmgate: the developmental impact of agricultural subsidies‘ by Action Aid (August 2002).

And ‘A New Food and Agriculture Policy for the European Union‘ by Friends Of The Earth (2013).

Global Vision referred to Britain’s prospective “membership of NAFTA” on page 4 of ‘Britain and Europe: a new relationship‘ by Ruth Lea and Brian Binley/Global Vision (2012).

The core aim of Global Vision and their peers would seem to revolve around the circumstance of lower wages and production costs in developing nations; which increase the profit potential for multinational businesses.

This reality was outlined by the UK’s Department for International Trade, in May 2016. As they noted:

“NAFTA enables British companies to use Mexico as a low-cost manufacturing base with direct, duty free access to the United States”.

However, the same document states that:

“In July 2000 the European Union (EU) and Mexico signed a free trade agreement known as the ‘Global Agreement’. The agreement helps EU goods gain preferential access to Mexico”.

Why then had groups such as Global Vision wanted Brexit, in order to achieve a trade-arrangement which seemingly already exists?

For more information on exploitative working practices in Mexico, see ‘Workers in Mexico’s border factories say they can barely survive, so they’re turning to unions‘ by By Mónica Ortiz Uribe/PRI (29th February 2016).

Much the same is applicable within China. It is notable how frequently state-abuses of workers occur in the same countries which many Brexit-advocates want Britain to exploit, once it has withdrawn from the EU. It stands in contradiction to the libertarian stance they adopt, when it suits.

 

[84] Needless to say, none of the Brexit-campaigners were upfront about this motivation. For example, see the prolix piece ‘Brexit and International Trade‘ by Business For Britain’s subsidiary, Lawyers For Britain – which refers to the “WTO disputes mechanism”; but fails to outline the fact that it serves business-interests, at the expense of public bodies.

For more information on the potential upshots of trading through the World Trade Organisation, see: ‘WTO agreement condemned as deal for corporations, not world’s poor‘ by Philip Inman/Guardian (7th December 2013).

The article refers to criticism of the World Trade Organisation’s agreement, from an organisation called World Development Movement. This was the previous name of Global Justice Now.

See also the section “Corporate influence at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)” (pp. 1-2) in ‘Hungry Corporations’ by Helena Paul and Ricarda Steinbrecher/Econexus.

And ‘Under The Influence: Exposing undue corporate influence over policy-making at the World Trade Organization‘ by Dominic Eagleton/Action Aid (January 2006).

Unfortunately, there are not many critical resources addressing the issue of the World Trade Organisation being exploited by corporations. Those which are available tend to be old – and while this does not render them obsolete, it does leave them slightly unhelpful.

Moreover, none seem to have been published about this issue, with a focus on Britain’s prospects after it leaves the EU.

However, in 2003, the United States had attempted to bring trade-sanctions against the European Union, via the World Trade Organization; because the EU refused to import genetically-modified goods, from America.

The EU is evidently slightly conflicted over the issue of biotech. It has enacted directives on genetically-modified goods, which prioritize public safety over corporate profiteering; yet the European Commission has overseen industry-friendly legislation in the past.

Lobbying is likely to be a factor, of course. It is noteworthy that Open Europe have taken an interest in the issue of genetically-modified goods, and European Union policy.

See also ‘Government legislation and corporate influence‘ by Helena Paul and Ricarda Steinbrecher/Econexus (November 2003).

For more information about the system of fines and trade sanctions, which the World Trade Organization deploys to ensure compliance with its judgments, see their own chapter on settling disputes.

This does not always favor larger/more powerful nations, however; and it is questionable whether Brexit-advocates have fully understood the implications that trading solely via the World Trade Organization may have.

Then again, given their general absence of integrity, it is plausible that they are aware of the drawbacks; and are merely indifferent.

 

[85] The Centre For Social Justice has long feigned concern for people on low-incomes. In his foreword to the Brexit essay collection, Iain Duncan Smith declaims that it is right:

“for the CSJ to be involved in the debate, even if for no other reason than to ensure that the purpose of improving the lives of the lowest income groups in society remains at the heart of all planning as we leave” (p. 2).

His actions in Ministerial office resulted in significant levels of harm being imposed on the very poorest members of society. It is therefore not tenable for the likes of Iain Duncan Smith to pretend that their motives are humane. Smith has been highly receptive to lobbyists, however; and serving their interests seems a more plausible motive underlying his support for Brexit.

Equally insincere was Peter Lilley; whose putative concern for “low income households” (p. 21) can be contrasted with the vulgarity of his noted disdain for various people who are poor.

 

[86]  See ‘Shanker Singham: lingering in the EEA and Customs Union would guarantee a bad Brexit‘ by Shanker Singham/Conservative Home (7th July 2017).

Also ‘Why we must leave the Customs Union‘ by Shanker Singham/Legatum Institute (7th January 2017).

 

[87] The Legatum Institute was created by the hedge-fund manager, Christopher Chandler; but it also receives support from the City Of London Corporation.

In fact, the corporation’s document referring to this, notes membership of eight other think-tanks. This includes Reform, which has long been lobbying for the privatisation of public healthcare; and the European Policy Forum  – which is committed to the same concerns. It is currently run by the Conservative peer, Christopher Tugendhat.

It also funds two think-tanks which have been affiliated with the Labour Party: one is the Institute for Public Policy Research, which was involved in the privatisation of state schools, under Labour governments; and has collaborated with corporate partners, including the pharmaceutical company, Merck.

The other is the New Local Government Network; which lobbied for the privatisation of numerous public services. Beside the City of London, its funders include major companies, such as BT, Capita, and Tesco.

An older document, from September 2013, notes that the City of London Corporation had been involved with a variety of lobbying organisations during that era. Under a section entitled “Future Policy Engagement in Europe”, they state that they will:

“work with third parties, such as think tanks, political groups and business organisations, to provide forums to make the case for the importance of the Single Market to the UK”.

This document refers to several telling examples of networking therein. The first was a speech given by William Hague MP, to a dinner hosted by Open Europe; which advocated “reforming the EU”. Open Europe had been lobbying against EU financial regulations, throughout this period.

Another concerns the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman attending a series of meetings. These involved the Fresh Start group, and the pro-Europe Conservative organisation – European Mainstream; along with “the Europe Minister David Lidington on 18 July”, and “a dinner with the Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds on 9 July”.

The Corporation also sponsored “a major Policy Network Conference on 12 July that featured Michel Barnier, Sharon Bowles and Andrea Leadsom”.

Michael Barnier is currently the European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, of course. Emma Reynolds is a Labour MP, who has been involved at some level in lobbying; and received a good deal of hospitality from Policy Network.

Sharon Bowles is a Liberal Democrat peer, who would take employment with the London Stock Exchange in 2014. David Lidington is currently the government’s Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

It seems reasonable to conclude that this nexus of people were all seeking to reform the EU’s regulatory framework, in a way which would benefit the City.

Yet in January 2013, the Corporation had outlined “City of London involvement with think tanks since 1 January 2010” (pp. 97-103). This included organisations which have campaigned to end Britain’s membership of single market – such as the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Institute of Economic Affairs; suggesting that the Corporation’s lobbying has rebounded, somewhat.

This surmise is reaffirmed by the City of London denoting their corporate membership of two think-tanks (p. 81): one is the European Financial forum, which is listed as “the financial services arm” of the aforementioned European Policy Forum. Its chair, Christopher Tugendhat was formerly the Vice President of the European Commission.

The other think-tank in question is the Foreign Policy Centre; which was created by Tony Blair. Of a piece, Policy Network published a report for the City of London, in December 2013Policy Network was created by Peter Mandelson. Both Blair and Mandelson have been particularly vehement in their opposition to Brexit; despite sharing the general priorities of those behind it.

 

For more information on the Legatum Institute, see ‘Thinktank which “helped draft Johnson and Gove letter to May influencing Brexit policy” denies Russia links‘ by Caroline Mortimer/Independent (26th November 2017).

And ‘Legatum: the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank. Who is behind them?‘ by Peter Geoghegan/Open Democracy (26th November 2017).

For examples of its lobbying efforts, see ‘A New Partnership For UK – EU Financial Services‘ by the Legatum Institute (29th June 2017).

And ‘A new UK/EU relationship in financial services – A bilateral regulatory partnership‘ by Shanker Singham, Paul Edmondson and Victoria Hewson/Legatum Institute (April 2017).

As this report notes, Edmondson and Hewson both work for CMS Financial Services; which would therefore appear to have a vested interest in the matter of reforms designed to favour financial services.

The Legatum Institute are also involved in the Prosperity UK lobbying organisation, via the figure of Philippa Stroud – a former special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith; and a founder of the Centre For Social Justice.

Prosperity UK includes people who both supported and opposed Brexit – notably, “the Marquess Of Salisbury” Robert Gascoyne-Cecil; along with Simon Wolfson and Alex Hickman. All three have been involved in Open Europe.

One of the two founders, however, was the hedge-fund manager Paul Marshall – who has profited from the privatisation of state schools; and served as a board-member for the Department Of Education during 2013-16. He has also been a major donor to both the Liberal Democrats, and Vote Leave; and is a registered supporter of the Legatum Institute.

The second founding-member of Prosperity UK was the Conservative peer, Jonathan Hill – who serves on the board of the Centre For Policy Studies. He was a professional lobbyist – who has worked as an adviser to the pro-privatisation group, Reform. As with Paul Marshall, Hill had served in the Department Of Education – as the Schools Minister.

According to Legatum, Paul Marshall supported Brexit; while Jonathan Hill opposed it. Yet their agenda is evidently identical. The Prosperity UK conference, in 2017, featured a predictable set of contributors from the realm of private-sector lobbying – such as Tim Montgomerie, and Mark Littlewood.

However it also included representatives from major businesses and financial sector companies: such as Steve Bates – the Chief Executive Officer of the UK BioIndustry Association; and Carolyn Fairbairn – the Confederation Of British Industry’s Director General. Fairbairn would suggest that Britain’s departure from the single market should be delayed indefinitely, in July 2017

Also featured, however, were individuals involved in Economists For Free Trade – namely, Matthew Ridley, Liam Halligan, and Barnabas Reynolds. These three participated in a panel discussion, with James Sproule of the Legatum Institute – entitled Opportunities from Deregulation‘.

The video of this symposium is available on Youtube. While James Sproule suggests granting businesses the opportunity to sue governments when they over-regulate, Barnabas Reynolds advocates deregulating Britain’s financial sector for the profiteering of banks.

In 2016, Reynolds published ‘A Blueprint For Brexit: The Future of Global Financial Services and Markets in the UK’, via Politeia; which is supported by the Foundation for Social and Economic Thinking – itself a recipient of funding from the Nigel Vinson Charitable Trust. It funds similar think-tanks; such as Civitas, and the Institute of Economic Affairs.

It is noteworthy that Matthew Ridley opens the Prosperity UK panel discussion, by bemoaning EU restrictions on genetically-modified crops, and environmental regulations.

Ridley is involved in the Living Marxism network; by virtue of serving on the advisory council of Sense About Science. He is also a shareholder of Spiked; and has written at least one anti-environmental speech for Owen Paterson MP.

Furthermore, he has published a briefing, endorsing shale-gas extraction, via Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation. In addition to being a Conservative peer, Ridley was also chairman of the Northern Rock bank, when it collapsed during the financial sector crisis of 2007-08.

 

[88] See ‘The Brexit Inflection Point: The Pathway to Prosperity‘ by Shanker Singham, Radomir Tylecote and Victoria Hewson/Legatum Institute (November 2017).

And ‘Going Global: How to forge a truly Global Britain‘ by Darren Grimes/Brexit Central (4th April 2017) – which is a podcast, featuring Shanker Singham.

Darren Grimes was formerly a fashion student, who had been paid £625,000 to advertise Vote Leave on social media, during the EU referendum campaign. Grimes created the BeLeave organisation – listed as an ‘Outreach Group‘ by Vote Leave. It was reportedly ineffectual.

 

[89] See May Set to Defy EU by Opening Pre-Brexit Global Trade Talks‘ by Tim Ross/Bloomberg (23rd January 2017).

Lobbying of Theresa May’s administration by big business, financial sector firms – and Conservative Party donors – continued apace, after the General Election. See ‘Big business dominates lobby meetings with UK and EU Brexit negotiators‘ by Global Justice and Corporate Europe Observatory (25th August 2017).

See also ‘Six of Theresa May’s cabinet are paid up “members” of secret group demanding a total break from the European Union‘ by James Cusick/Open Democracy (22nd December 2017).

The entity in question is the European Research Group – whose former chair was the Conservative MP, Steve Baker. Other past personnel include Daniel Hannan, and Christopher Heaton-Harris MP.

According to a letter written by Michael Tomlinson MP, the officers of the group are Baker and Tomlinson; along with the Conservative MPs Craig MacKinley, John Penrose, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Nuttall, and Suella Fernandes.

In January 2018, Fernandes would be appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary, in the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The likelihood that Theresa May would pursue ‘hard’ Brexit is reaffirmed by the role assigned to Liam Fox – as developing free-trade agreements with non-EU countries is illegal, while Britain remains in the customs union: a fact which seems not to have been recognised by journalists. Economists For Free Trade and Brexit Central were relatively upfront about this, however.

It is why some Brexit-campaigners advocate Britain joining the European Free Trade Area, as the member-states within it retain their right to enter into bilateral trade agreements with countries outside its framework.

They tend not to mention its drawbacks, however. See pages 5-7 in ‘Comparing EU and EFTA trade agreements: drivers, actors, benefits, and costs‘ by the European Parliament (30th May 2016).

It is of course noteworthy that Theresa May had previously cautioned against Brexit; on the grounds that, after leaving the EU, Britain would have to make concessions in order to access the single market. She had added that “it is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy”.

 

[90] This has included funding the development of oil and gas infrastructure in Mozambique – as overseen by Adam Smith International; and promoting public-private partnerships throughout South Africa.

The Prosperity Fund would be criticised by the Independent Commission For Aid Impact, in 2017. See ‘Report: The Cross-Government Prosperity Fund‘ by the Independent Commission For Aid Impact (7th February 2017).

One of the criticisms centred on “conflict of interest concerns regarding the involvement of major firms”. As the Commission continue: “at least four large firms have advised on the development of the Prosperity Fund or individual concept notes”.

While the Commission did not suggest directly that lobbying had resulted in corrupt practices, it is nonetheless plausible. As they state: “suppliers saw the Prosperity Fund as a major opportunity for them to delivery services in middle-income countries not prioritised by DFID” (typing error in the original).

Moreover, while “the Prosperity Fund states that it has followed the procurement rules, the process has not been transparent”. This “risks creating the perception that firms have been shaping the operation of the Fund or the design of particular projects for their own benefit”.

As noted previously, Global Justice Now have reported on Adam Smith International profiting from UK aid.

For more information on the problematic nature of trade between Britain and Brazil, and the prospects after Brexit, see ‘UK Smells Money in Right-Wing Brazil After Brexit‘ bT.J. Coles/Telesur (6th December 2016).

Not dissimilar, in 2011, Greenpeace reported that “numerous high-level meetings” had been conducted between “Canadian ministers, oil executives and British government officials focused on the UK’s position on a new EU policy that would significantly restrict tar sands oil coming into Europe”.

See also ‘UK secretly helping Canada push its oil sands project‘ by Damian Carrington/Guardian (27th November 2011).

 

 

[91] The “three crop rule” is an EU requirement for crop-diversification; intended to maintain bio-diversity.

It applies only to large farms, however; and while it has been criticised by the National Farmers’ Union, their motives are liable to differ from the proponents of Brexit – whose commitments are evidently designed to serve the interests of agribusiness, to the detriment of many British farmers.

For instance, Better Off Out had quoted Liz Truss – who complained about the three crop rule in 2014, and in 2015, as well as in 2016. Truss has been the deputy director of the pro-privatisation lobbying group, Reform.

In that capacity, Truss is listed on the PolicyExperts database – created by the Heritage Foundation, in order to facilitate lobbying. This resource has existed since 1995.

Also included among the Heritage Foundation’s lobbying network on this list are other people involved in corporate, ‘Eurosceptic’, and Brexit lobbying.

Namely: Helen Disney, Stephen Pollard, Frank Furedi, Sam Bowman, Eamonn Butler, Philip Booth, Ian Milne, Madsen Pirie, Douglas Murray, Matthew Elliott, Mark Littlewood, Allister Heath, and Kendra Okonski; along with Helen and Tim Evans. The Conservative party politicians, John Redwood and Philippa Broom are also listed.

In October 2017, it was reported that Reform were organizing meetings between government ministers, and representatives of private companies.

Notably, Liz Truss had been among the authors of Britannia Unchained, in 2012; which derided British workers as indolent. This book indicated that its authors want to extend working hours, reduce wages; and increase the retirement age.

One of its contributors had also stated that “we need to look beyond Europe for economic success”.

 

[92] Economists For Free Trade had, of course, welcomed the prospect of falling-incomes among agricultural and manufacturing workers; as clarified further by one of their advisers – James Dyson.

See also ‘Tim Martin: taxes and wages are hurting businesses, not Brexit‘ by Katie Pathiaki/The Caterer (15th September 2017). Martin had funded the efforts of ‘Eurosceptic’ groups, such as Open Europe – and Brexit-campaigners, including Business For Britain/Vote Leave; who campaigned for an end to EU wage and tax regulations.

 

[93] See ‘Sharper Axes, Lower Taxes‘ by Philip Booth/Institute Of Economic Affairs (13th July 2011).

See also ‘Why The NHS Should Be Abolished‘ by Kristian Niemietz/Institute Of Economic Affairs (5th June 2015).

After the EU referendum, the Adam Smith Institute’s president, Madsen Pirie, would advocate using Brexit to turn Britain into this type of society. See ‘Rebooting Britain: making the most of Brexit’ by Madsen Pirie/Adam Smith Institute (2016).

 

[94] Lawson was repetitive on this theme. See:

Outcome of the European Union Referendum – Motion to Take Note‘ by Nigel Lawson/Hansard (5th July 2016)

Brexit gives us a chance to finish the Thatcher revolution‘ by Nigel Lawson/Financial Times (2nd September 2016)

Brexit will complete Margaret Thatcher’s economic revolution‘ by Nigel Lawson/Telegraph (23rd September 2016).

At no point did Lawson clarify what, precisely, this would entail. However, for an indication, see ‘Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed‘ by Alan Travis/Guardian (28th December 2012).

Also ‘Margaret Thatcher: one policy that led to more than 50 companies being sold or privatised‘ by Alistair Osborne/Telegraph (8th April 2013).

It was under Thatcher’s tenure that inequality within Britain began to increase, having declined steadily since 1925. See ‘Income inequality in historical and comparative perspective‘ A. B. Atkinson/Gini Project (March 2010).

Nigel Lawson played a key role in this, of course.

 

[95] These tend to take the form of Public-Private Partnerships – also known as Private Finance Initiatives. They would be advocated by Gordon Brown, during a speech he gave to the Social Market Foundation in 2003.

As a policy, they had been introduced by John Major’s Conservative government – and perpetuated by the Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative administrations since then; as well as by the Scottish National Party, under the guise of the Scottish Futures Trust.

For an overview of current private finance arrangements, see ‘PFI and PFI2‘ by the National Audit Office (18th January 2018).

For criticism of them, see ‘Seven Things Everyone Should Know About The Private Finance Initiative‘ by Joel Benjamin/Open Democracy (17th November 2014).

See also ‘Campaigners accuse government aid policy of fuelling big business interests in rush to support private healthcare and education‘ by Global Justice Now (24th April 2015).

And the section devoted to Public-Private Partnerships, by Bankwatch.

One of the key financial-supporters of the Stronger In campaign group was David Sainsbury; who is chairman of the board for the Institute of Government think-tank. It has extolled the merits of public-private partnerships.

Sainsbury has also lobbied on behalf of private-sector interests – particularly, for corporate science. He was made a Labour peer, and served as a government minister for science, under Tony Blair. Shortly before his tenure, he had donated funding to a company – called Diatech – which produced genetically-modified food.

Sainsbury continued to advocate genetically-modified crops, after leaving office; and contributes money to a laboratory, which undertakes biotech research. He also funded the New Labour think-tank, Progress, until June 2017.

Progress has long been involved in campaigning on behalf of private-sector companies; and has worked in conjunction with the disgraced lobbying firm, Bell Pottinger.

New Labour was itself highly amenable to business-lobbying. For more information on this, see ‘Business agenda‘ by Solomon Hughes/Red Pepper (April 2002). See also the slightly melodramatic ‘Britain for sale‘ by Greg Palast (1st May 2004). Along with Powerbase’s profile of the think-tank, Demos.

Privatisation also occurs through the practice of outsourcing – that is, paying private businesses to conduct public services. This increased dramatically under the Coalition government.

See ‘Outsourcing Public Services‘ by the Trades Union Congress and the New Economics Foundation (2015). New Labour had frequently outsourced services to the Adam Smith Institute, however. There has clearly been a cross-party commitment to the same policies.

 

[96] For more information on Jon Moynihan’s lobbying for the privatisation of schools, see the section “Education reform ‘astroturf’ group” under Powerbase’s profile of Rachel Wolf.

Notably, Wolf is married to James Frayne – the former campaign director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance; who had also been involved in Doctors For Reform. Frayne served as an adviser to Michael Gove, in the Department For Education.

Wolf and Frayne run the Public First organisation; which lobbies on behalf of private companies. Frayne is renowned for undertaking astroturf campaigns. He is also reputed to be one of the more unpleasant individuals involved in the privatisation of schools.

For further information on this issue, see ‘New Schools Network‘ and ‘John Nash‘ by Powerbase; along with their ‘Schools Portal‘ page – which documents similar efforts.

Michael Gove had been the Secretary Of State For Education from 2010-14; and oversaw reforms which delivered financial gains to various organisations that lobbied for them.

His former think-tank, Policy Exchange, were among the groups campaigning for schools to be outsourced to businesses. See ‘Force all schools to become academies by 2020, demands Policy Exchange‘ by Freddie Whittaker/Schools Week (23rd September 2014).

Also ‘School Enterprise Zones would turbo-charge Free School Programme‘ by Sean Worth/Policy Exchange (3rd September 2012)

For criticism of the academies/free school system, see ‘Barely Under Control‘ by Jenny Turner/London Review Of Books (7th May 2015).

Andrew Adonis’s lobbying efforts, on behalf of big business, continued apace after the General Election of 2017. See ‘Adonis and business leaders urge Government to press ahead rapidly with key infrastructure plans‘ by the National Infrastructure Commission (26th June 2017).

Adonis resigned from this commission on 29th December 2017 – complaining about Brexit.

Notably, the hedge fund owner, Paul Marshall – of Marshall Wace – had profited from the academy system introduced by Adonis; as Marshall would himself acknowledge, in 2011. In January 2018, Marshall Wace would profit from the collapse of the Carillion firm.

Comparable to Adonis is Michael Barber; who was involved in the privatisation of schools, on behalf of New Labour governments. He has also been employed by corporations, which specialize in profiting from the education sector – having worked for McKinsey; then Pearson.

In 2017, he was appointed to the Office For Students, to promote “choice and competition”. The Office For Students board is staffed by representatives of private businesses – such as Boots, Credit Suisse, DLA Piper, Norton Rose Fulbright; and a former head of public relations for HSBC.

 

[97] The Government’s official case for remaining in the EU was ‘Why the Government believes that voting to remain in the European Union is the best decision for the UK‘ by HM Government (6th April 2016).

Tony Blair had been equally receptive to lobbying from Nurses For Reform. See ‘Chance chat over dinner led Blair to order u-turn on private beds‘ by David Hencke/Guardian (28th July 2000).

 

[98] See ‘Company owned by Alan Milburn had £663,000 profit increase in 2013-14‘ by Harry Davies/Guardian (29th January 2015).

 

[99] Likewise, in 2007 the European Commission announced their “Global Europe trade policy framework” – in ‘European Commission welcomes adoption of negotiating mandates for new Free Trade Agreements with India, Korea and ASEAN‘ by the European Commission (23rd April 2007).

This comprised a series of Free Trade Agreements, intended to:

“complement the EU’s strong commitment to the multilateral trading system by focusing on areas not currently covered by WTO rules such as investment, trade in certain services and the removal of non-tariff barriers”.

As their press release adds, the European Commission were “aiming at the highest possible degree of trade liberalization”.

For criticism of the EU’s approach to trade, see the sections “North–South agreements: a new route to enforce economic domination” (p. 6), “A stepping stone to changing global rules” (pp. 6-7), and “Undermining the multilateral trading system” (pp. 7-8)  in ‘Signing Away The Future‘ by Emily Jones/Oxfam (March 2007).

Much the same as Mandelson, was Tony Blair. During a speech devoted to “making the case for Britain in Europe”, delivered in 1999, Blair boasted that his government had used Britain’s presidency of the European Union to push “through the liberalisation of the gas and telecoms market”. That is, had opened these sectors up, for private-companies to profit from.

He also proclaimed that “with key allies, we managed to cap the growth of EU spending”; adding “we have halted the tidal wave of new EU legislation”. Blair had also unsuccessfully sought a reduction of EU farm-subsidies, in 2005.

He had of course been at the forefront of demanding an expansion of the European Union; and had clearly done so with free-market priorities in mind. This overall agenda was clearly of a piece with the priorities of ‘Eurosceptic’ lobbyists, such as the Stockholm Network.

To some extent, so was Blair’s proclamation in 1997 – quoted in the Independent the following year – that once in government, his administration would ensure “we will still have the most restrictive union laws in the Western world”.

The Independent’s editors regarded this favorably; yet even they were critical of Blair’s “imposition of an arbitrary 40 per cent threshold for ‘Yes’ votes in workplace ballots on union representation”.

In fact, Blair gave an interview to the Observer shortly before the General Election of 1997; in which it is clear how manipulative and evasive his sentiments on these issues were. Notably, Andrew Adonis was one of the article’s authors.

 

[100] Contrasting articles have been published on the theme of migration affecting wages; but it seems unlikely that the impact they had on public opinion could be equal.

For example, ‘BREXIT BOOST: Open-door EU immigration knocks 10% off UK wages, claims Iain Duncan Smith‘ was published by The Sun (8th June 2016).

Whereas ‘Impact of immigration on native wages ‘infinitesimally small’ says author of study cited by leading Brexiteers‘ was published by the Independent (25th January 2017).

Aside from the fact that The Sun’s article was published during the referendum campaign, while the Independent’s piece was written after it had concluded – and could therefore not influence the outcome – The Sun has a considerably higher circulation than the Independent: both online, and especially in print.

See ‘Independent, Mirror, Express and Star suffer sharp fall in traffic‘ by Jasper Jackson/Guardian (17th March 2016).

For the estimate that unilateral free-trade would increase wage-inequality, see “skilled workers’ nominal wages increase by around 11%, but unskilled workers’ wages fall by 14%” on page 2 of ‘Economists for Brexit: A Critique‘ by Thomas Sampson, Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano and John Van Reenen/Centre For Economic Performance.

 

[101] See also ‘Immigration and wages: getting the numbers right‘ by Jonathan Portes/National Institute Of Economic And Social Research (11th June 2016).

During the EU referendum campaign, another politician who exploited the supposedly deleterious impact of migration on British people, was the Labour MP – Frank Field. The falsity behind his position is not difficult to discern, however.

In an interview with the Cap X website, on 10th May 2017, Field was asked about immigration; and opined that

“the truth is, I wasn’t brave enough to raise it as an issue – though I thought it was an issue for yonks – until we were talking about white people coming in. And even then the anger that this was racist was something one had to face”.

In reality, Field has repeatedly made the same complaints – and demands – about migration; for a number of years. See:

A state of influx‘ by Frank Field/Guardian (21st September 2006)

Ex-minister’s immigration warning‘ by Brian Wheeler/BBC (28th June 2006)

Labour MP Frank Field warns of immigration population growth in Britain‘ by the Mirror (26th April 2009)

Labour MPs urge leadership to curb free movement within EU‘ by Frank Field et al/Guardian (1st June 2014)

Labour’s big debate on immigration‘ by Alex Hunt/BBC (11th July 2014)

Former Labour minister Frank Field hits out at Ed Miliband for being soft on immigration‘ by Andrew Grice/Independent (21st October 2014)

MP Frank Field: Immigration “could turn very nasty!”‘ by Ed Riley/Daily Star (6th December 2014)

Frank Field: Labour and Tories will be “broken up” by immigration‘ by the Telegraph (22nd December 2014)

If the Prime Minister can’t stop this immigration catastrophe, the British will do it for him…by voting to quit Europe‘ by Frank Field/Mail on Sunday (30th August 2015).

Failure to control immigration risks nation’s “common identity” says Birkenhead MP‘ by Wirral Globe (26th February 2015)

How to win the future: why Blue Labour is the way forward‘ by Philip Blond/New Statesman (29th April 2015)

This is evidently a lobbying effort for Field’s part. On 23rd January 2016, he co-authored a Telegraph article, with the Conservative MP, Nicholas Soames; entitled ‘This open-door immigration policy can’t go on‘.

Field and Soames are both co-Chairmen of the Cross-Party Group, Balanced Migration – which campaigns in favour of reduced rights for migrant workers.

It is administrated by the corporate lobbying firm, Quiller Consultants; along with Migration Watch – which is affiliated with Christian Solidarity Worldwide; whose patron is the aforementioned peer, Caroline Cox

Among Balanced Migration’s non-Parliamentary supporters are Jonathan Porritt – a former adviser to Tony Blair; and a lobbyist who works with big businesses, via his Forum For the Future think-tank.

Along with the journalist, Hazhir Teimourian – who is noted for his hostility towards Muslims, and migration; and his advocacy of Britain’s wars in the Middle East.

Another supporter of Balanced Migration is Charles Moore – chairman of Policy Exchange; and another person renowned for his antipathy towards Muslims, and migrants.

This casts a particular light on Frank Field‘s involvement in the anti-Islam Centre For Social Cohesion, which had been created by Civitas in 2007; and which merged with the neo-conservative group, the Henry Jackson Society, during 2011.

Key figures from this network of organisations would feature in the campaign for Brexit. It seems reasonable to conclude that their collective animus revolves around migration; and to some extent, Islam.

Field was also a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform – founded by Andrea Leadsom; and is an adviser to Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre For Social Justice.

It is noteworthy that the Blue Labour group, which Field is situated among, seem to willfully ignore the myriad reasons why Labour suffered a decline in popularity after 1997; and then a heavy defeat in 2010.

Not least of all, the corruption, deceits, and wars – along with the failure to prevent the financial crisis of 2008; about which neither Field, nor Blue Labour, have very much to say.

Moreover, to a significant extent, Ed Miliband’s Labour Party adopted the Blue Labour framework of policies; and campaigned on an anti-immigration pledge during the General Election of 2015. They did not benefit from doing so.

During the General Election of 2017, Frank Field had predicted Labour would suffer a heavy defeat; and should thereafter refashion itself as ‘The Peoples’ Labour Party’. It seems reasonable to conclude that this would have entailed adopting an anti-migrant stance.

 

[102] For examples of David Cameron’s hostile rhetoric and policies on immigration, see:

EU “benefit tourism” court ruling is common sense, says Cameron‘ by BBC (11th November 2014).

Immigration policy “hasn’t worked so far”, says David Cameron‘ by BBC (6th October 2015).

David Cameron announces new crackdown on non-EU immigration‘ by Matt Dathan/Independent (10th June 2015)

David Cameron criticised over migrant “swarm” language‘ by BBC (30th July 2015)

Cameron cuts EU migrants’ unemployment and child benefits‘ by Euractive (29th July 2014)

See also ‘David Cameron’s immigration speech‘ by HM Government (25th March 2013).

And ‘JCB Staffordshire: Prime Minister’s speech‘ by HM Government (28th November 2014). JCB’s owner, Anthony Bamford, was of course a long-standing donor to the Conservative Party; and a supporter of Brexit.

For a critique of this speech, see ‘Cameron’s migration speech and EU law: can he change the status quo?‘ by Camino Mortera-Martinez/Centre For European Reform.

Contrary to the widespread narrative that anti-migrant sentiment is predominantly a phenomenon among Northern, Labour-supporting, working class people – and that this would prove operative during the EU referendum – the Yougov poll from 2013 indicated that antipathy towards migration was more evenly spread: both in terms of class and geography; and was concentrated primarily among Conservative/Ukip voters.

Of the people who thought that “the ability to limit immigration from other European Union countries” was of “the utmost importance”, 38% were in social classes ABC1; while 47% were in social classes C2DE (p. 2).

Likewise, among the same group of people, 44% lived in the “North” and 43% lived in the “the rest of the South” (i.e. not including London).

What was a more significant factor than region or class, was age – along with political affiliation. Anti-migrant sentiment was at its highest among people aged 60+; and among people who supported the Conservatives/Ukip (p. 2).

It is also noteworthy how many people identified as “swing-voters”; or else as ambivalent about how they would vote during a referendum on EU membership. Migration was the key issue for this demographic (p. 2); just as it was for people who classed themselves as “firm out” voters.

However, the prospect of David Cameron either succeeding or failing to secure “a major renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union” made the most significant difference to the intentions of “swing voters” (p. 8).

This was also a tendency most pronounced among Conservative and Ukip voters, than for supporters of other parties (p. 8).

The indications are that if Cameron had gained the sweeping reforms to EU migration policy which he and ‘Eurosceptic’ campaigners lobbied for, then these electoral groups would have voted to remain in the EU.

Suffice to say, the reforms in question were not necessary; as the problem they were supposed to address did not actually exist – other than in popular imagination. A phenomenon which was perhaps – at least in part – the consequence of rhetoric that Cameron and his peers had long indulged in.

See also ‘Cameron’s Con: His “planned” rules against benefit tourism are already British law‘ by Mike Sivier/Vox Political (27th November 2013).

 

[103] See ‘Boris Johnson slams David Cameron for FAILING to slash immigration in searing attack on PM‘ by Tom Parfitt/Express (12th May 2016)

Also ‘David Cameron’s failure to meet migration targets is a ‘crime’, says Boris Johnson‘ by Laura Hughes/Telegraph (5th June 2016).

And ‘EU referendum: Boris and Gove pledge tough new immigration system after Brexit‘ by Peter Dominiczak and Steven Swinford/Telegraph (1st June 2016).

There was no substance to these claims. Britain has control of its borders, as it did not join the Schengen agreement. See ‘Britain, the EU and the Sovereignty Myth‘ by Robin Niblett/Chatham House (May 2016).

 

[104] For Peter Mandelson’s interview, see ‘Peter Mandelson makes case for the UK to stay in the EU‘ by BBC Newsnight (18th February 2016).

In contrast to Corbyn, Alan Johnson expressed support for David Cameron’s attempt to curtail social security for EU migrant-workers living in Britain.

As Johnson stated during an interview, in February 2016:

“we think there is something in the idea of an emergency brake or in the principle of fair contribution – that in-work benefits, mainly working tax credits, should increase in relation to the amount of taxes you’re paying”.

Furthermore, that “it looks like it’s going to be in this emergency brake part of the Cameron negotiations, and I think the principle of that can be supported” (pp. 2-3).

Other Labour Party Remain-campaigners would attempt to exploit anti-migrant sentiment, in order to oppose Brexit. See, for instance, ‘Ignoring immigration doesn’t work. Here are five reforms remain can sign up to‘ by Yvette Cooper/Guardian (14th June 2016).

Cooper had previously claimed that migration from Eastern Europe could deprive Britons of jobs and wages. See ‘Employers could use migration to cut UK workers’ wages, Labour warns‘ by Rajeev Syal/Guardian (1st January 2014).

Labour would of course produce mugs, emblazoned with “Controls on immigration” immediately before the General Election of May 2015.

Shortly after it had been lost by Labour, Yvette Cooper would claim that her party needed to be “less squeamish” on the subject of controlling and managing migration.

Cooper also gave a speech to the Centre For European Reform, on 28th June 2016; which repeated much the same claims. This is a corporate lobbying group, which had formerly been a member of the Stockholm Network.

See also ‘Watson says Cameron should push for reform of EU free movement rules during UK presidency in 2017‘ by the Guardian (14th June 2016).

And published shortly after the referendum: ‘Labour must unite and face the country, or die‘ by Lisa Nandy/Guardian (29th June 2016).

Perhaps predictably, Peter Mandelson’s complaints about migration in 2016 were the opposite of what he had said during 2009; when he had been questioned about the free-movement of workers, by Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee.

Mandelson had stated:

“I think that from this evidence one can only conclude that there has not been an adverse effect on the employment of British nationals and, on the contrary, the addition to our workforce of EU nationals has filled jobs and vacancies that would otherwise have remained very difficult to fill by British nationals and, therefore, they have had a positive contribution to the UK economy as a whole”.

He had also stressed that migrant workers from the A8 countries, which had joined the EU in 2004:

“are supporting the provision of public services and very few claim benefits. The government’s own research has found that there has been no statistically significant impact on wages from A8 migration”.

Why then did Mandelson subsequently enthuse over David Cameron’s proposal to discriminate against EU migrants; and suggest that they were beneficiaries of an unfair benefit-system?

His vacillations would seem to be indicative of the opportunism behind political exploitation of this issue.

 

[105] There have been numerous tabloid articles bewailing migration. For example, see:

Immigrants create overcrowding and fuel tensions, report finds‘ by Steven Swinford/Telegraph (3rd July 2013)

Mass immigration is on the verge of destroying Europe‘ by Leo McKinstry/Express (6th November 2015)

£17bn, the true cost of immigration to the UK every year‘ by James Slack/Daily Mail (17th May 2016)

Brexit is “once in a lifetime chance to fix damage caused by immigration”‘ by Macer Hall/Express (30th September 2016)

Ghetto Blaster: Mass immigration to Britain has changed it beyond recognition and turned communities into ghettos, reveals damning report‘ by Tom Newton-Dunn/The Sun (4th December 2016).

This is not limited to tabloids, however. For an analysis of the complex relationship between media output and public views of immigration, see ‘A decade of immigration in the British press‘ by Migration Observatory (7th November 2016).

See also ‘Brexit: People voted to leave EU because they feared immigration, major survey finds‘ by May Bulman/Independent (28th June 2017).

And ‘The immigration stats blunder shows how far perception is from the truth‘ by Abi Wilkinson/Guardian (24th August 2017).

In fact, articles and politicians continued blaming migration for job-shortages in Britain after the EU referendum. See ‘Brits are suffering from immigrants taking their jobs for half the price – we need an immigration deal that works for everyone not just bosses who want cut-price labour‘ by The Sun (16th February 2017).

And: ‘Amber Rudd vows to stop migrants “taking jobs British people could do” and force companies to reveal number of foreigners they employ‘ by Michael Wilkinson/Telegraph (4th October 2016).

There is no concrete evidence which supports these claims; and they are probably false. See ‘Are EU migrants really taking British jobs and pushing down wages?‘ by Alan Travis/Guardian (20th May 2016).

However, there was evidently a significant increase in news articles and public concern about migration, from 2012 onward. The conflict in Syria, and the refugee crisis it caused, would seem to have been a key factor underscoring this trend.

This issue was exploited by Nigel Farage during the EU referendum campaign; as were the supposed “migrant sex attacks“, which had taken place in Cologne, on 31st December 2015.

However, it is difficult to assess how consequential Nigel Farage was in terms of lobbying for a referendum on EU membership; and in changing public opinion, to favour Brexit.

Farage had campaigned for the referendum to be held; and a number of political commentators have posited that he played an operative role in galvanizing Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Yet this is not entirely consistent with evidence.

As reported by Ipsos Mori, there had been a rapid upsurge in support for Ukip by 2013. The General Election of 2010, had resulted in Ukip gaining only 3.1% of the public vote; while in the General Election of 2015, they finished with 12.6%.

According to Yougov, this increased support occurred primarily among working-class voters – who had voted Conservative, during 2010; and tended not to be highly-educated.

Readership of the Daily Mail and the Express was also a factor. Moreover, Ipsos Mori found that Ukip’s popularity had mainly risen among older generations.

Had the marked increase in popularity for Ukip – who were an anti-EU party – created a similarly dramatic change in public opinion, on the subject of EU membership? This does not seem to have happened.

Throughout this period, Ipsos Mori’s data indicates that most people generally favoured remaining in the European Union. Unhelpfully, Ipsos Mori do not provide data between 2007-2011; and their surveys were not conducted at consistent intervals.

However, in October 2011, a small majority of people favoured leaving the EU. This declined slightly, but was still true in November 2012. Yet the subsequent data, of May 2014, shows that most people wanted to remain in the European Union at that time. This stayed applicable in October 2014, and during June 2015.

A drastic alteration seems to have occurred at this juncture. Between June 2015 and October 2015, a majority of people began to support leaving the EU. Though the reason for this is not clear, news coverage of the EU ‘migrant crisis’ seems to have been a factor at this period.

Yet opinion changed once again, during March 2016 to May 2016; when most people favored remaining in the EU.

Suffice to say, this does not provide a clear picture. That is perhaps the point here, though – surely if ‘Euroscepticism’ driven by Nigel Farage and Ukip had made a significant impact on public attitudes towards the EU, then there would have been a consistent increase in support for Brexit, between 2012-16. Instead, it fluctuated.

In fact, Ukip themselves would seem to have been the beneficiaries of circumstance; rather than a determinant of them. The upsurge in support for Ukip coincided with a rapid increase of public concern about migration, from 2011-12 onwards – which is when the ‘European Migrant Crisis’ began.

Furthermore, the role Farage played during the EU referendum itself is equally uncertain. While the Loughborough University study found that Farage was the fourth most cited politician in media coverage; this was minor at 9%, compared to the focus on Boris Johnson (19%) and David Cameron (25%).

Additionally, despite various claims to the contrary, it was Conservative Party supporters whose vote proved operative in the referendum. See ‘Where’s the evidence that Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for Brexit?‘ by John Curtice/Guardian (4th July 2016).

For further information on public attitudes towards immigration, see ‘Immigration among the public’s most important issues‘ by Migration Observatory (20th August 2015).

See also ‘Shifting Ground‘ by Ipsos Mori (2017). For a more succinct write-up, see ‘Shifting Ground: Attitudes towards immigration and Brexit‘ by Ipsos Mori (17th October 2017).

Public opinion towards migration is evidently far from straightforward; thereby ensuring that any role the issue played during the EU referendum campaign is not clear-cut.

Not least of all because analyses of why people voted for Brexit tend to rely on data derived from Ashcroft Polls – which are notoriously unreliable; and seem to be a self-serving lobbying mechanism, for Michael Ashcroft’s part. He is not above such things.

What is much more readily discernible than Farage’s significance, however, are the details of who was backing him; and the interests he was actually serving. Ukip were funded by many of the same people behind the Taxpayers’ Alliance; along with financial donors to both the Conservative Party, and Vote Leave.

For example, Stuart Wheeler has given money to these organisations; as has Malcolm Pearson. Wheeler has also funded Global Vision – who would join him and the Tory MP, Bill Cash, in an unsuccessful legal case which attempted to prevent the Lisbon Treaty being ratified. Pearson had helped to found Global Britain.

See also ‘Who is behind the Taxpayers’ Alliance‘ by Robert Booth/Guardian (9th October 2009). Notably, Ukip had advocated the core policy lobbied for by the Taxpayers’ Alliance – namely, a flat-rate of tax; created by merging national insurance and income tax. This would favour the very wealthy, of course.

During the EU referendum, Farage was not involved in the official Leave campaign. Instead, he would join Grassroots Out; along with Arron Banks, Brian Monteith, and Peter Bone.

Arron Banks would launch the website Westmonster, in January 2017 – its co-owner, Michael Heaver, was a former press aide to Nigel Farage.

It is clear that the bulwark of Ukip voters were former Conservative Party supporters. Therefore it is questionable why, during 2014, the academics – Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford – promoted the narrative that Ukip’s surge of support had come from people who had previously supported the Labour Party; yet became disaffected by Labour’s supposed lack of hostility towards migration.

This claim would be disproven by the General Election of 2015, when Ukip failed to make gains; and Labour campaigned unsuccessfully on a pledge to place “controls on immigration“.

Yet Goodwin and Ford would iterate a permutation of their theory in May 2017. It would again be proven wrong, in the General Election of the following month.

It is notable that the issue of Ukip’s financial backers, and the interests which the party was actually lobbying for, remained absent from Goodwin and Ford’s articles. Likewise, the role that politicians and journalists have played in creating misconceptions about migration was similarly overlooked.

 

[106] See ‘Tony Blair defends call for EU migration curbs‘ by BBC (10th September 2017).

Also ‘Tony Blair calls for tougher immigration rules for EU migrants‘ by John Ashmore/Politics Home (10th September 2017).

 

[107] See also ‘How immigration came to haunt Labour: the inside story‘ by Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour/Guardian (24th March 2015).

This is a long, and poorly-researched article; which suggests that the putative problem of immigration was ignored by Labour, to their own electoral detriment – itself leading to the rise of Ukip.

As with Goodwin and Ford, the authors’ case would be disproven two months later, of course; when Ukip failed to make any gains in the General Election of May 2015 – resulting in one of Nigel Farage’s many short-lived resignations.

In February 2016, however, the Daily Mail exemplified the histrionics surrounding this issue. See ‘How Blair silenced debate over migrant influx and refused to acknowledge public’s doubts about open borders‘ by Tom Bower/Daily Mail (26th February 2016).

There is no truth to this claim – on the contrary, Blair actively exploited anti-migrant rhetoric during his Prime Ministerial tenure; and the Conservatives campaigned on the same sentiments in the General Election of 2005.

Both Labour and the Conservatives would again bemoan migration in their campaigns, during the General Election of 2015. Neither gained in popularity as a consequence.

 

[108] While this manifesto outlined several benefits migration has, and noted that “immigration has been good for Britain” (p. 51), it nonetheless depicted the migration and asylum systems as open to abuse – and in need of a “crackdown” (p. 51).

See also:

Full text: Tony Blair’s speech on asylum and immigration‘ published in the Guardian (22nd April 2005).

Blair “feared immigration effect”‘ by BBC (18th January 2007)

Tony Blair’s asylum policies: The narratives and conceptualisations at the heart of New Labour’s restrictionism‘ by Bethany Maughan/Refugee Studies Centre (December 2010).

Government Warns Of EU Crime Explosion‘ by Tim Hall/Telegraph (1st November 2006)

This demonstrates the vacuity of Brexit-advocates – such as The Sun – who bemoaned Blair for supposedly ignoring migration; yet it also indicates how high-profile opponents of leaving the EU helped to establish the climate of opinion, which facilitated the claims of their counterparts.

Prominent figures on the right-wing of the Labour Party continued to push anti-immigration narratives, after Labour had left government. See ‘Immigration under Labour‘ edited by Tim Finch and David Goodhart/Institute For Public Policy Research (2010).

See also the transcript of Caroline Flint’s “vote of thanks”, published in ‘Brexit: A Prize in Reach for the Left‘ by Policy Exchange (19th July 2017).

At this juncture, Flint opined that Britain voted to leave the EU because “the liberal elite” had “ignored public disquiet over immigration. It was side-lined because of the net benefit to the economy from EU immigration”.

This is the opposite of what Flint had said during the EU referendum campaign. It is also notable that in January 2018, Flint would be among the MPs who voted in favour of a tax-break for Brexit campaign-donors.

The original document for Labour’s 1997 manifesto does not appear to be available online – but a transcript is provided by Politics Resources.

 

[109] For examples of Brendan O’Neill’s vacillations, see:

Britain’s elites prefer migrants to the masses‘ by Brendan O’Neill/Spiked (5th December 2013). Subtitled: “Being ‘pro-immigrant’ is now PC code for being anti-public”.

Turning immigration into a tool of social engineering‘ by Brendan O’Neill/Spiked (23rd March 2010). Subtitled: “The elite now expresses its snobbery and authoritarianism by being ‘pro-immigration’ rather than anti-immigration”.

As opposed to:

Only a mug would vote for the anti-immigrant Labour Party‘ by Brendan O’Neill/Spiked (30th March 2015). Subtitled: “Why the outrage over a mug? Labour has been bashing migrants for 50 years”.

Let Them In‘ by Brendan O’Neill/Spiked (21st April 2015). Subtitled: “We shouldn’t demonise or infantilise African migrants. We should welcome them”.

Notably, in 2008, O’Neill had bemoaned “opportunistic anti-immigrant outfits” who exploit anti-migrant sentiment, in order to serve ulterior agendas. See ‘Greens are the enemies of liberty‘ by Brendan O’Neill/Guardian (15th July 2008).

As an aside, the rhetorical motif of “elites” versus ordinary people seems to be derived from lobbying efforts conducted on behalf of tobacco companies, the alcohol industry, and purveyors of junk food.

See for example ‘The War on Working Class Culture’ by the Institute Of Economic Affairs (29th April 2010). This concerned an event hosted by Patrick Basham of the Democracy Institute. The same year, Basham published an article in the Guardian, denouncing “public health toffs” and the “political elite” – who want to regulate harmful foodstuffs.

 

[110] The Adam Smith Institute have advocated free-movement, several times. See ‘Immigration Restrictions Make Us Poorer‘ by Sam Bowman/Adam Smith Institute (13th April 2011). Also ‘Plan To Curb EU Migration A Disaster‘ by Matt Kilcoyne/Adam Smith Institute (6th September 2017).

During March 2015, Open Europe had wanted Britain to maintain a “liberal policy for labour migration”. They repeated this call, in April 2016.

It is unlikely that humane considerations underscore the lobbying on this issue – from either the Adam Smith Institute, Open Europe, or Spiked.

Why then would proponents of Brexit want to leave the jurisdiction of the European Union; yet continue to apply “untrammelled” migration, as Patrick Minford phrased it?

What was arguably at issue here is the fact that freedom of movement within the European Union prohibits “any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the Member States”.

This applies in terms of “employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment”; and to “permanent, seasonal and frontier workers”. It therefore creates an international framework of employment law; predicated upon equal treatment for citizens of EU countries.

Free-movement and migration have often been abused by companies, in order to exploit foreign workers, however; which seems a more plausible reason for neoliberal organisations to extol the merits of immigration when it suits – while simultaneously demanding an end to employment protections.

See, for example, ‘Fawley refinery strike over “half pay” foreign workers‘ by BBC (13th July 2016).

Also ‘The exploitation of migrants has become our way of life‘ by Felicity Lawrence/Guardian (17th August 2015).

This issue has been exploited with inimitable cynicism by Spiked Magazine, in order to bolster their case for Brexit. See for example ‘Support free-movement? Then vote against the EU‘ by Ella Whelan/Spiked (8th June 2016).

 

[111] This dilemma was perhaps epitomised by the US President Barack Obama – who was the key figure proposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; and was thereby evidently intent on paving the way for American businesses to gain much greater access to British and European resources.

The same scenario was applicable to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama also instigated; though America withdrew from it, in January 2017.

However, while this was similar to the ambition shared by many Brexit-advocates, Obama visited Britain in April 2016, to warn against leaving the EU.

His opposition proved unhelpful – and perhaps counterproductive. See ‘EU Referendum: Barack Obama’s Brexit plea failed as “leave” takes opinion poll lead‘ by Ian Silvera/International Business Times (28th April 2016).

For more on the neoliberalisation of the EU, see ‘Maastricht 25 years on – what happened to the European Dream?‘ by Youssef El-Gingihy/Independent (21st October 2016).

See also:

TTIP: debunking the business propaganda over investor rights‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (3rd July 2014)

Writing the Script: The European Roundtable of Industrialists‘ by Corporate Europe Observatory (2003)

Neoliberalism in the European Union‘ by Christoph Hermann/Forba (2007).

As a measure of Daniel Hannan’s personal integrity, he was among the Brexit-campaigners who would claim during the EU referendum campaign that leaving the European Union would not jeopardize Britain’s membership of the single market. After the referendum, he would obliquely acknowledge that this was not the case.

It is plausible that such people simply expected Britain to vote in favour of remaining in the European Union, and would therefore not be found out. See, for example, ‘Nigel Farage wants second referendum if Remain campaign scrapes narrow win‘ by Kevin Maguire/Mirror (16th May 2016).

Suffice to say, both Farage and Hannan would immediately renege on the intimations they had made about immigration, once the referendum result was announced.

 

[112] Though it is not the most reliable source of data, see:

“A YouGov/Prospect survey last October found that the pro-EU majority would see its support increase from three points to 18 – a 15% bounce – if Johnson and Cameron both campaigned to remain.

When voters were asked in a separate sample how they would vote if Cameron supported remain and Johnson supported leave, the bounce fell to eight points”

in ‘Boris Johnson to campaign for Brexit in EU referendum‘ by Nicholas Watt/Guardian (21st February 2016).

Loughborough University published a series of reports analyzing the media coverage of the referendum campaign. For their conclusion, see ‘Media coverage of the EU Referendum (report 5)‘ by the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture/Loughborough University (27th June 2016).

The three issues which received the most media coverage were, in order: 1) the conduct of the referendum 2) the economy/business 3) immigration.

The focus of the media was predominantly on Conservative politicians – especially David Cameron, and Boris Johnson; followed by George Osborne.

By way of comparison, Cameron appeared in 24.9% news items. Johnson featured in 18.9%. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn was only mentioned in 6.1% – which was the highest percentage devoted to any politician who was not Conservative/Ukip.

For more examples of pre-existing literature, which Brexit-advocates had at their disposal prior to the referendum, see ‘Recommended Reading‘ by Get Britain Out; which provides a comprehensive bibliography of books, pamphlets, and briefing notes.

The Institute Of Economic Affairs had been evaluating the prospect of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, since at least 1999; in ‘Better Off Out?‘, by Brian Hindley and Martin Howe. While this did not expressly advocate Brexit, the authors’ arguments prefigured those made by Leave campaigners, 17 years after its publication.

In 2013, Civitas had published a similar briefing entitled ‘EU Renegotiation: Fighting for a Flexible Union‘ by Glyn Gaskarth. Documents of this kind clearly provided the network of Brexit campaigners with a wealth of preparatory material to draw upon.

 

[113] The documents and speeches made by the ‘Eurosceptics’ lobbying for Brexit were equally lacking in substance.

For example, the commentaries published by Patrick Minford are rambling in their own right; and when read as a series, amount to an incoherent and self-contradictory purview.

Likewise, the Spectator’s editor – Fraser Nelson – would make an equally incongruous case. On 30th March 2016, Nelson opined that the former civil servant, Gus O’ Donnell was “misleading the public about the EU rules on Brexit” – that is, over the realities of Article 50.

In Nelson’s words, O’ Donnell had cautioned that it would “take more than two years to negotiate the terms of UK’s exit, and this deadline could only be prolonged with hard bargaining from hostile partners”.

According to Nelson, this argument was “nonsense”, as “the UK can take all the time it wants to leave the EU. Its rules require us to give two years’ notice, which we do any time we want”.

Furthermore “formal negotiations start within the two year period, but the UK talks to all of its European partners all the time: much work can be done before the formal process starts”.

This is the exact opposite of what Nelson had said, on 14th January 2016. Namely, that under the rules of Article 50, “appallingly” if a nation “votes to leave, it cannot be in the room when other EU members discuss the terms of its departure”. Moreover, “as the EU demonstrates with terrifying regularity, it does not always act rationally”.

Equally indicative, during 2009, the Taxpayers’ Alliance filmed numerous interviews – featuring the likes of Daniel Hannan and Lee Rotherham; outlining their cases for leaving the European Union. The series was entitled ‘The Great EU debate’.

During the course of writing this essay, the Taxpayers’ Alliance removed these from Youtube. However, the interview with Rotherham can still be viewed via the Daily Motion website. Likewise, the video of his unintentionally hilarious London Mayoral-candidacy video remains online.

Similarly, Ruth Lea gave a speech in favour of Brexit, during 2015; at the UK Chamber Of Shipping.

As can be seen, despite the hauteur of their commentaries, they are all unconvincing public-speakers; whose claims are very nebulous, and offhand.

It is not something which can really be answered, but it is perhaps worth considering: what would have happened if it had been these people at the forefront of the Brexit campaign, instead of Boris Johnson?

Moreover, Johnson had been notoriously dishonest – well before the referendum took place. So why was he more trusted than his counterparts? Perhaps it is better to ask why his claims had rung more true than theirs; and why people were more susceptible to believing him.

 

[114] This was not limited to policies implemented by Conservative governments. See ‘”Staggering” ESA suicide figures prompt calls for inquiry and prosecution of ministers‘ by John Pring/Disability News Service (14th December 2017).

ESA – or Employment Support Allowance – had been introduced by the Labour government, in 2008; with the express intention of removing incapacity benefits from 1 million people.

See ‘No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility‘ by the Department for Work and Pensions (July 2008).

For a critical analysis of the free-market welfare reforms to disability and incapacity support, see ‘A Tale of two Models: Disabled People vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities’ by Debbie Jolly/Disabled People Against Cuts (8th April 2012).

I have previously made a chronology of deaths and suicides among benefit claimants, as a consequence of welfare policies. See ‘Some of the cases which illustrate the truth of “I, Daniel Blake”’ (1st November 2016).

 

[115]  The original website is no longer available, but its address was:

http://peoplespledge.org./

An archived version is online courtesy of WebCite. Similarly, the launch event of the Peoples’ Pledge is recorded on an archived webpage.

 

[116] For further information on the Democracy Movement’s personnel, see their profile on the Companies House site.

Stuart Coster published several articles which attempted to influence MPs into supporting the group’s demand for a referendum on EU membership. See:

Stuart Coster: The People’s Pledge’s League Table of Shame. The MPs who could wreck the Wharton EU referendum bill‘ by Stuart Coster/Conservative Home (7th November 2013).

Stuart Coster: The EU referendum bill – dodgy arguments from devious peers‘ by Stuart Coster/Conservative Home (23rd January 2014).

According to Sourcewatch, one of the advisors to The Peoples’ Pledge was Ruth Lea. The group’s advisory council also included Charles Moore. Several supporters of the group would join Vote Leave – such as Boris Johnson, Kate Hoey, and Graham Stringer; or campaign for Brexit independently, in the case of Jenny Jones.

Vote Leave’s submission of evidence to the Electoral Commission noted that:

“one of the two Co-Conveners of the Campaign Committee, Gisela Stuart MP, is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors. This provides a conduit through which informal reports to the Board may take place, assisted where relevant by Jon Moynihan, who is also both a member of the Board and a member of the Campaign Committee” (p. 3).

Graham Stringer is listed among the “Current Board of Directors” (p. 22).

Notably, on page 11, Vote Leave detail the various “campaign groups which have sent one or more representative to at least one meeting” (typing error in original).

It includes Ukip, Labour Leave, Global Britain, Grassroots Out, the Bruges Group, the Institute Of Economic Affairs, Conservatives For Britain, Better Off Out, Leave.EU, and the Democracy Movement.

Also among the list is the FUTURUS Group, which was created by Anthony Scholefield; and was part of the Leave Alliance. Its director was Robert Oulds, who is also director of the Bruges Group. Oulds had assisted Richard North with the creation of the Flexcit document; which purported to be a blueprint for Britain leaving the EU successfully.

Another campaign group listed is Calgacus: which is a slightly more amateurish outfit of Europeans who oppose the EU; but its authors are involved in various right-wing think-tanks – including a supporter of the Bruges Group, in one case.

 

[117] The Peoples’ Pledge campaign group also uploaded a series of videos to Youtube; which featured expressions of support from the foremost advocates of leaving the EU – such as Daniel Hannan, Tim Montgomery, and Ruth Lea.

Also notable are the contributions made by Brian Binley, Steven Woolfe, Priti Patel, Peter Bone, Mark Reckless, Douglas CarswellKate Hoey, Graham Stringer, David Davis, and Mark Littlewood.

 

[118] This campaign was evidently amplified by the media. See:

EU referendum pressure increases on David Cameron as 130 MPs back rebel amendment’ by Owen Bennett/Express (15th May 2013)

Eurosceptic Tories use Ukip threat to pressure Cameron‘ by Alex Stevenson/Politics.co.uk (29th April 2013)

David Cameron is told to call an EU referendum by 2014‘ by Tim Ross/Telegraph (19th November 2012). Note the reference to David Davis MP; suggesting that the government needs a “positive” referendum result, in order to have a “mandate” for convincing European leaders to negotiate a favourable new arrangement for Britain.

For Davis’s proposal see ‘David Davis MP speech “Europe: It’s Time To Decide”’ by David Davis (November 2012). This speech was given during an event on 19th November 2012, curated by Conservative Home. The video seems to be no longer available.

It is noteworthy that during a House of Commons debate in 2002, David Davis had cautioned against the improper use of referendums, to achieve constitutional change.

Steve Baker was among the 100 Conservative MPs who had demanded that David Cameron grant Britain a referendum on EU membership. He was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the UK Department for Exiting the European Union, in June 2017.

For more information on Baker’s lobbying affiliations, see his profile on Powerbase. See also ‘The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea‘ by Adam Ramsey and and Peter Geoghegan/Open Democracy (1st July 2017).

Natascha Engel had been a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform; as had a number of people who would campaign for Brexit, including Gisela Stuart. As noted previously, Open Europe had acted as the group’s secretariat; while Andrea Leadsom and George Eustice were its co-founders.

It is evident that Engel used her position as chair of the Backbench Business Committee, to grant members of this group leeway to promote their calls for a reformation of Britain’s relationship with the EU. See ‘Westminster Hall: Thursday 26 April 2012 – Backbench Business Committee‘ by Hansard (26th April 2012).

See also ‘Let the British people decide whether they still want to be part of the EU‘ by Natascha Engel/Guardian (29th January 2012).

 

[119] It is presumably not a coincidence that during 2013 and 2014, Wharton had received significant donations from a Conservative Party supporter, who would advocate Brexit – namely, Peter Cruddas; as well as from JCB Research, which is owned by the Grassroots Out and Vote Leave-backer, Anthony Bamford.

In September 2017, Wharton was hired by the lobbying firm Hume Brophy, to work as a senior adviser.

 

[120] These were Douglas Carswell, and Mark Reckless. Reckless would lose his seat in the General Election of May 2015.

Both had been among the twenty Conservative Party MPs who signed an amendment proposed by their colleague Peter Bone, in February 2011; designed to instigate an in/out referendum on EU membership.

The Parliamentary discussion of this begins under the section “Provision for further referendum” in ‘House Of Commons: Tuesday 1 February 2011‘ by Hansard (1st February 2011).

Bone’s amendment was defeated; yet it is clearly significant that two of the “rebel MPs” who “outfoxed Cameron to get an EU referendum” defected to Ukip within weeks of each other – presumably to bolster their demand for the referendum.

Moreover, Peter Bone had tabled his referendum-amendment a year before Ukip made their record gains in the local council elections, of May 2012.

It seems fairer to suggest that Ukip’s electoral prospects placed additional pressure on Cameron to conduct a referendum, rather than being the cause of it. The lobbying efforts conducted by Conservative MPs, abetted by their Parliamentary colleagues, were at least as consequential.

 

[121] It was not merely Conservatives, nor advocates of Brexit, who lobbied for a referendum on EU membership.

In 2013, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, would contend that an EU referendum was against the national interest. Yet he had pledged to conduct an in/out referendum, in a leaflet thought to have been published during 2008. His predecessorMenzies Campbell, had called for an EU referendum in 2007.

It is notable that Clegg had joined the lobbying organisation G Plus Europe, in 2004. Its clients have included Russia’s government, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Peter Mandelson had announced his demand for an in/out referendum, on the 4th May 2012. It would seem that Mandelson wanted Britain to vote in favour of a reformed European Union – one which emphasized free-trade, over fiscal union; which, of course, was the same agenda as Business For Britain, and their ilk.

That this was a similar lobbying effort for Mandelson’s part is fairly clear. He had evidently distributed a briefing-note to various media outlets, beforehand; given the fact that they reported the contents of his speech, prior to its delivery.

Moreover, the Guardian’s write-up states that:

“Mandelson will also refer to new Policy Network polling conducted by Populus, showing that 67% still support staying in the EU, although 80% are against joining a single currency, and 56% favour a referendum now, and 44% regard it as a distraction at this stage”

Policy Network was created by Peter Mandelson, in 2000; in order to counteract opponents of trade-globalisation.

Its address is 11 Tufton Street – the same as the Social Market Foundation; whose former director, Roderick Nye, was the director of Populus – and a progenitor of the Stockholm Network. 

Mandelson is also chairman of the opaque corporate lobbying outfit, Global Counsel. This group was established in conjunction with the WPP conglomerate; which has campaigned for lower taxes on multinational businesses – while many of its companies have exploited tax-havens.

It seems reasonable to conclude that the EU referendum of 2016 backfired on the likes of Mandelson. He had evidently wanted one to be conducted, in order to achieve free-market reforms throughout the European Union – and seemed to have given no real thought to the possibility of Britain voting to leave the EU.

Perhaps the most telling case of all in this regard, though, is the Green Party politician – Caroline Lucas. She had been a supporter of the Peoples’ Pledge astroturfing campaign, during 2011.

Moreover, as an MP, Lucas had voted to conduct the referendum of 2016; apparently viewing it as a means for attaining a substantive reform of the EU.

In the House of Commons debate, Lucas opined that the referendum would grant an opportunity to “make a positive case for a positive EU”; and to pave the way for “radical reform”.

While Lucas evidently did not share the same free-market agenda as Peter Mandelson, she followed his suit in seemingly not giving any consideration to the fact that Britain might vote to withdraw from the European Union.

After this had occurred, Lucas began campaigning for a second referendum on EU membership; and would make this policy a part of the Green Party’s platform, during the General Election of 2017. It seems clear that the EU referendum did not deliver what she had hoped for.

 

[122] This was outlined by Tim Montgomerie on the Conservative Home website. The original document was presumably ‘Taxpayers’ Alliance Manifesto‘ – though this was published in January 2010; whereas Montgomerie refers to a version published on 22nd March 2010, which does not seem to be available online.  

 

[123] The demand for “flexibility” made by ‘Eurosceptic’ organisations was, in part, an ulterior means of eliminating employment protections. This was made plain in the section “Employment Regulation” (pp. 3-4) in ‘Does the EU impede the UK’s economic growth?‘ by Jonathan Lindsell/Civitas (May 2013).

It also related to the prospect of gaining freedom to expand bilateral free-trade arrangements, as Civitas outlined in the section “External tariffs and slow Free Trade Agreement negotiation” (pp. 12-13).

David Cameron’s call for Britain to gain a more “flexible” relationship with the European Union was echoed by Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg; as noted by Open Europe in ‘Do Ed Miliband and David Cameron actually agree on Europe?‘ (17th January 2013).

Cameron’s failure to secure a 4-year moratorium on in-work benefits for migrant workers would be exploited by Brexit campaigners in support of their case. See ‘Tory MPs brand David Cameron’s EU deal “thin gruel”, “watered down” and full of broken promises‘ by Jon Stone/Independent (3rd February 2016). 

Open Europe continued to lobby for reductions of in-work benefits and employment regulations; and for the UK’s government to retain the power of veto over EU laws. See ‘New Open Europe/ComRes poll: Failure to win key reforms could swing UK’s EU referendum vote‘ by Pawel Swidlicki/Open Europe (16th December 2015).

The opinion poll they commissioned did not really support their case. Table 9/1 titled “Q4_SUM. How would you vote in the EU referendum if David Cameron DID NOT secure agreement on each of the following demands?” showed that the majority of respondents would vote to remain in the EU, even if Cameron failed to secure the four reforms in question; though this is not what happened, of course. 

[124] For impact assessments, see:

The economic impact of Brexit: jobs, growth and the public finances‘ by Iain Begg and Fabian Mushövel/ European Institute (2016)

Brexit: the potential impact on the UK’s banking industry‘ by Ashurst (1st March 2016)

The Economic Consequences of Brexit: a taxing decision‘ by OECD (April 2016)

HM Treasury analysis: the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives‘ by HM Government (18th April 2016)

Leaving the EU would almost certainly damage our economic prospects‘ by National Institute Of Economic And Social Research (20th June 2016)

The potential economic impact of Brexit for London, the UK and Europe‘ by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (21st July 2016)

Brexit: impact across policy areas‘ by Vaughne Miller/House Of Commons Library (26th August 2016)

The Impact of the UK’s Exit from the EU on the UK-based Financial Services Sector‘ by Oliver Wyman (5th October 2016)

The economic impact of Brexit-induced reductions in migration to the UK‘ by Jonathan Portes and Giuseppe Forte/Vox (5th January 2017)

Impact of Brexit on financial institutions‘ by Norton Rose Fulbright (March 2017)

Impact Of Brexit On The Manufacturing Industry‘ by Deloitte (August 2017) 

Brexit: The impact on sectors‘ by KPMG (24th February 2017)

One conducted several years before the EU referendum, was ‘Brexit – what would happen if Britain left the EU?‘ by Katie Allen, Philip Oltermann, Julian Borger and Arthur Neslen/Guardian (14th May 2014). Note the uncritical citations of Roger Bootle. Even people with a degree of expertise evidently found pro-Brexit material convincing.

The European Parliament has also published an extensive range of impact assessments, on individual sectors. See ‘Brexit Impact Studies‘ by the European Parliament.

However, it is significant that the majority of all these impact assessments had not been conducted before the referendum. It was in 2013 when David Cameron pledged to conduct an in/out vote on EU membership, if the Conservatives retained office in the General Election of 2015. Why then were these studies not undertaken, for at least three years?

 

[125] See ‘One size for all: A study of IMF and World Bank Poverty Reduction Strategies‘ by World Development Movement/Global Justice Now (September 2005).

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have both used leverage over developing-nation governments, to dictate Economic Reforms, on terms which were favorable to transnational companies. See ‘Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty‘ by Anup Shah/Global Issues (24th March 2013).

It is therefore particularly significant that the International Monetary Fund warned against Brexit. It shares much the same alignment as those who advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

 

[126] For more information on the problems Brexit poses for Northern Ireland, see ‘The Impact and Consequences of Brexit for Northern Ireland‘ by Jonathan Tonge/European Parliament (2017).

And ‘Why the Republic and Northern Ireland need shared regulatory frameworks‘ by Anand Menon/New Statesman (4th December 2017).

 

[127] Several people did attempt to bring the issue of Northern Ireland’s future to public attention, before the EU referendum had taken place. See:

EU referendum: Want a Brexit? We need to talk about Northern Ireland‘ by Kathryn Gaw/City AM (26th February 2016).

Troubles redux: Brexit would put the Good Friday Agreement in jeopardy’ by Brendan Donnelly/London School Of Economics (28th April 2016)

Northern Ireland cannot afford a British EU exit‘ by the Financial Times (9th June 2016)

Also on 9th June 2016, John Major and Tony Blair issued a joint warning that Brexit would jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement. This was dismissed as “scaremongering” by advocates of leaving the EU.

Equally insouciant, Better Off Out claimed that: “free trade will continue between Ireland and the UK under all realistic ‘Leave’ scenarios, so there will be no customs posts on the North-South border within Ireland, no passport controls or anything like that. Such claims are simply scaremongering”. 

 

[128] In 2006, Heath had written a pamphlet calling for flat-level taxation, published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Stockholm Network.

For criticism of this policy, see the reference “flat taxes are really about cutting taxes for the best off, cutting services (like the NHS) massively and requiring payment for their use instead, and increasing tax, overall, for the least well off” by Richard Murphy in ‘Why not… introduce a flat tax?‘ by Brian Wheeler/BBC (3rd July 2013).

Comparable to Heath is Lianna Brinded – another journalist, who extolled the merits of Brexit in June 2016; but bemoaned its prospects in October 2017.

 

[129] For the lists of Open Europe’s backers, see ‘Advisory Council‘, and ‘Supporters‘, by Open Europe. See also the section “who supports Open Europe” on p. 4 of ‘Open up: Why the EU must reform to survive‘ by Open Europe (2005).

 

All sources last accessed: January 2018.