Opinion and Editorial from the Policy Exchange team.
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Former leading Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett — now Policy Exchange’s Senior Fellow for EU Affairs — examines the state of play in Brexit negotiations so far. Dr. Bassett notes that little progress has been made on key three issues that are holding up the negotiations – reciprocal rights of EU and UK citizens, the Brexit Divorce Bill and the Irish border. However, he suggests that there is less unanimity in the EU27 position than appears on surface and that the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, may dissent from the official EU position on the need to establish a customs border. Ultimately, as negotiations continue, the power of decision will shift from Brussels to Berlin, suggesting that pragmatism and self-interest may prevail, with a good trading relationship prioritised over the desire to punish the UK for leaving.
Hannah Stuart — Co-head of Policy Exchange’s Security and Extremism unit — analyses the High Court’s rejection of a legal challenge against the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, and its delivery IN higher education institutions. She explains why the ruling ‘highlights issues that are central not only to tackling terrorism in the UK, but also to challenging the extremist ideologies used to legitimise terrorism’.
Mike Taylor — Policy Exchange’s Economics Research Fellow — reflects on the IMF’s recent downgrading of its 2017 GDP forecast for the UK from 2 per cent to 1.7 per cent, which coincided with its upgrading of its euro area forecast from 1.7 per cent to 1.9 per cent. Pointing out that the areas are in different stages of their economic cycles, he concludes that ‘structurally, the UK is in better shape to deal with the bumps in the road ahead’.
School budgets are now a matter of urgent concern — but in seeking savings, are schools making the best choices? Are school and system leaders thinking radically enough about how their organisations can change to meet the core needs of children in education? John Blake and Mark Lehain of Policy Exchange’s Education Unit — former teachers with two decades of front-line experience between them — offer suggestions, and seek the views of parents, teachers, governors, and other interested parties.
Warwick Lightfoot — Policy Exchange’s Director of Research and Head of Economics and Social Policy — reflects on ongoing debate in the States about the trend rate of growth and the relative performance of the US economy. He argues that while America retains great relative strengths, it is ‘not immune from the structural impediments that hinder other advanced economies with developed welfare states’.
Richard Ekins — Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project — responds to news that the question of whether assisted suicide should be legalised is back before the courts, in an article for The Spectator. Ekins contends that the argument in the High Court this week is likely to focus on whether it is possible to design a system that permits assisted suicide without endangering the vulnerable, which he claims is ‘not a sensible question for a court to be asked to decide’. He conclude that ‘this continuing attempt to use the courts, with the encouragement of some (but certainly not all) judges, to usurp Parliament’s freedom to decide what the law should be is a constitutional travesty’.
Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment unit announces the launch of its new project looking at the opportunities for and barriers to boosting business energy efficiency. Richard Howard and Joshua Burke set out the context for this project, and identify the important questions they will seek to answer.
Warwick Lightfoot — Policy Exchange’s Director of Research and Head of Economics and Social Policy — reflects on recent research from the economics department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Different scenarios are considered regarding potential EU and UK approaches to foreign direct investment, leading Lightfoot to conclude that ‘being open to such investment will be the key to improving the UK’s economic well-being’.
Responding to comments by former Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, John Blake — Policy Exchange’s Head of Education and Social Reform — discusses the intention and impact of the free school programme. In an article published by the TES, he argues that ‘seeking innovative practice was not an afterthought, but a core aspect of the programme, and one that has yielded enormous dividends for not just those children attending the new free schools, but the whole system’.
Matt Rooney — Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Research Fellow — reflects on the way in which the Government’s view that leaving the EU must also mean leaving Euratom has made this previously obscure treaty into a ‘political battleground’. Calling for a national discussion about how to withdraw from Euratom smoothly, he posits that this will be the ‘first real test of the UK’s ability to leave the EU and open up to the world’.