Saturday , January 19 2019
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The author Simon Wren-lewis
Simon Wren-lewis
Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, and a fellow of Merton College. This blog is written for both economists and non-economists.

Simon Wren-Lewis

Parliament’s Brexit game

Someone may have done this elsewhere and probably with more accuracy, but I hadn’t seen it so I thought I’d work through the numbers myself. Suppose parliament breaks down into five main factions, with a very approximate indication of their size. Brexiters - No Deal         100May loyalists - No FoM   200People’s Vote                 150Corbyn loyalists               30Soft...

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Is Norway+ the way forward?

A number of MPs seem to think so. Their argument goes as follows. Although the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is not about trade (beyond the backstop), and trade is dealt with in the Political Declaration that is not legally binding, a vote for Theresa May’s deal will be taken by her as endorsing her wish for a hard Brexit. In that case parliament should instruct the government to pursue a much softer Brexit now, because it is better to do that now than later (especially if later never happens)....

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Should we worry about temporarily raising government debt? – Blanchard’s AEA Address

This post not about the main part of this address, although as its my area and interesting I may write about it later. Instead I’m going to talk in a non-technical way about its premise, because that alone has implications that may be well known among economists but not elsewhere. The following is based on his presentation. Should governments worry about temporarily paying for things by borrowing? One standard answer is yes, because although nothing obliges government to pay off this extra...

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The 2016 referendum was a badly designed rigged vote corruptly and unfairly won. Why is there so much deference to it?

We are probably about to take the huge step of leaving the EU that a majority of the population no longer want. We will do so because certain political forces have elevated a rigged, corrupt and unfair vote into something all powerful, that demands to be obeyed. If you doubt this think of all those who claim a second referendum would be undemocratic: a statement which is a contradiction in terms unless 2016 has some unique, special status. The purpose of this post is to argue it does not...

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Lexit misdirection

Just as Brexiters have heavily influenced the way the mainstream media understand Brexit, so Lexiters have heavily influenced the way those in the Labour party understand Labour’s policy towards Brexit. In bothcases we have an argument based on ideology dressed up with spin designed to persuade others. The main focus of this post is the argument that Labour has to support Brexit because otherwise it will lose lots of seats in any General Election. But I want to start with state aid. This idea...

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What does the ‘Stupid Woman’ saga tell us about the media

It was the middle of December 2018, with 100 days to go before the UK was due to leave the EU. Parliament was supposed to have had a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) negotiated by the EU and Theresa May. If parliament failed to approve the WA and nothing else happened, the UK would exit with No Deal (ND) and economic and social chaos would follow. It was therefore vital that this vote took place to move things forward, but after days of debate the government ‘pulled’ the...

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What will happen if Labour enable Brexit

There are some in the FBPE community that claim that Brexit could have been stopped if the Labour leadership had abandoned Brexit. This is either arguable if applied to 2016 or just simply wrong since 2016. But in the turmoil that is likely to follow the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in January, the Labour leadership will play a crucial role. This post is about what happens if Labour enable Brexit in any way. I am not suggesting they will (and hope they do not), but right now this is a...

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How Brexit circumvented democracy

It is difficult to overstate the mess that UK politics is in, and the harm that is doing to many of its citizens. MPs have accepted a mandate from the people that Brexit should go ahead, but cannot agree on what form Brexit should take. With the possibility of leaving with No Deal a 100 days away, firms are having to make decisions to move jobs abroadto avoid the impact of that outcome. That in turn reduces the living standards of everyone in the UK. Rather than trying to convince them to...

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How Leavers can believe that a People’s Vote is anti-democratic

How many times have you heard Brexiters, or Theresa May, argue that to hold a second referendum is impossible because people have already had a vote. The people have decided and the government is carrying out their instructions. To hold another referendum would break that contract between the people and government, and would as a result destroy the people’s faith in democracy. And so on. Some even say flatly that it is anti-democratic. When people put forward similar arguments I have found...

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Will the Brexiters kill Brexit?

How do we rationalise the Brexiters refusal to vote for May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement (such that she pulled the vote), and then attempting to bring her down? It appears like the actions of a petulant child that refuses to accept they cannot have the expensive toy they have just seen in the shop, even after they have been offered a less expensive toy. Rationally they must know they are a clear minority of MPs, and so their desired outcome of No Deal is not going to ever be voted for by...

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