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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

Labour’s Brexit stance was a tragedy for Labour but not for the country. Brexit is an entirely Tory failure.

Before deciding that I’m writing about Labour when I should be writing about the disaster that is Theresa May, please read to the end. As it becomes obvious (sort of) that there is no majority among MPs for a People’s Vote (something that has actually been clearfor some time), the argument has been madethat this justifies Labour’s failure to support a People’s vote and instead to seek a compromise, a softer Brexit. I have talked about the wisdom of compromise over Brexit before, but I want to...

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Brexiters are stopping Brexit because they need to believe in the fantasy of Global Britain

It now looks like May will not get a chance to put her deal to parliament for a third time today, thanks to a ruling from Speaker Bercow. Yet while somecompare Theresa May’s relentless and humiliating quest to get her deal passed by parliament to the Black Knightfrom Monty Python’s the Holy Grail, and Bercow believes the deal has to change for it to be voted on again, there would have been a critical difference this time. Previously rejection has meant nothing except that we get closer to...

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Triangulation or bipartisanship does not work when one side goes off the scale

Brad DeLong describeshimself as a Rubin Democrat, which he defines as “largely neoliberal, market-oriented, and market-regulation and tuning aimed at social democratic ends.” It is a natural position for an economist to be: it is generally more efficient to tweek markets than destroy them. But he thinks the time has come for this kind of Democrat to pass the baton over to the left. “We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.” That is an unusual thing to say, on either side of the...

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If you enjoyed the last two years and want more of the same, vote for May’s deal

Trade negotiations happen after the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is signed, so why don’t those wanting a softer Brexit just vote for the WA and argue about trade later? The Political Declaration which does talk about trade is vague and non-binding. The reason is straightforward. Parliament will get very little say on the framework for those trade talks. The only real chance most MPs will get to influence the type of trade relationship the UK has with the EU is by directing the government now, as...

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Is the German Debt Brake the worst fiscal rule ever?

The answer is probably not: a simple balance budget is worse. The German Schuldenbremse fixesthe total cyclically adjusted deficit at 0.35% of GDP, which implies a gradually falling debt to GDP ratio. If actual outturns exceed this figure, there is a control mechanism which reduces the permitted deficit to get the path of debt back on target. So this debt brake improves on a simple balance budget by allowing a very modest deficit and cyclically adjusting. On the other hand it is worse than a...

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Is increasing workers’ bargaining power a way of raising real wages?

There is no doubt that the last decade has been a terrible period for average real wages in the UK, with levels still belowwhere they were before the Global Financial Crisis. It is very tempting to related this to the weak baragining power of workers. After all, we were being told before Brexit that the economy was strong, so if the benefits were not going to wages they must have been going somewhere else. Some people go further and say that one of the reasons that the bargaining power of UK...

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Parliament’s Brexit Game: has anything changed?

The PM’s only chance of getting her deal through by the end of March was to have No Deal as the inevitable and only alternative. Parliament has finally prevented that, for the moment. The threat of cabinet resignations (to allow voting for the Cooper bill that would delay Brexit in order to prevent No Deal) has forced May to propose the same. Parliament will now, in sequence, vote against May's deal, against No Deal and for a short delay. Voting against No Deal is just symbolic: only voting...

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We need a political party that is tough on the causes of Brexit

I fully share the anguish of so many people over the madnessof Brexit. All the evidence points to not leaving the EU, and the reasons given for leaving are generally vague or false. The vote on which this crasy policy is based was deeply flawed. As an economist I can clearly see the damage Brexit is doingand will do. While I could see the rationale for Labour’s triangulation strategy over Brexit before and immediately after the 2017 election, during 2018 as public opinion began to move it...

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The new party: lessons the Labour leadership and its supporters failed to learn

I know it is a cliché but too many supporters of the Labour leadership, and perhaps the leadership itself, seem to have forgotten it. Labour is a broad church. It has to be a broad church if it is to be successful. It has to be a broad church when led from the right because otherwise the leadership drifts too easily into the centre or worse. Labour needs its left to stay honest to its principles. If Labour is led from the left it needs to be a broad church to win elections and avoid policies...

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How to pay for the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal has recently been promoted by a group of Democrats including the inspirational Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I first came across it in a reportin 2008 by the Green New Deal group, most of whom are pictured above a decade later (HTAndrew Simms). The view that we face a potentially existential climate change crisis, which politicians seem currently reluctant to sufficiently tackle, and which therefore requires a government led programme on the scale in each country of Roosevelt’s...

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