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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Europe"

Trump’s Immigration Measures, Far From New, Follow Europe’s Example

President Trump’s approach to migration might seem unusual, but it follows a model pioneered by the European Union and Australia — though they may not have pursued it with Mr. Trump’s bombast.

Like Mr. Trump’s policies, defined by child-filled detention camps and his extraordinary move to ban nearly all asylum claims at the southern border, this model relies on two strategies to keep migrants and refugees from reaching the border at all:

1) Make the journey so daunting that they will not even attempt it.

2) Enlist poorer countries to detain or expel those who do anyway.

That approach, which Europe and Australia have taken to extremes beyond many of Mr. Trump’s policies, was meant to curb record migrant arrivals and the white backlash to them that was upending Western politics. Those arrivals have since declined, and populist revolts cooled.

But the lessons of Europe and Australia’s experience may not be so straightforward.

Strategies to deter or block migrants, research has found, may temporarily reduce arrivals. Over the long term, however, they may simply push migrants to try even more dangerous routes. They may also end up requiring governments to take ever more extreme measures to shut down each new round of arrivals.

“The costs are becoming higher and higher and higher, and there’s no real proof that it works,” said Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, a Danish scholar who is co-author of an authoritative study on deterrence in immigration.

Those costs include concessions to countries tasked with keeping migrants away — Turkey, Sudan and Libya for Europe; a network of island nations for Australia. Mr. Trump is now pushing Mexico and Guatemala to do the same.

They extend beyond money. Europe is subjugating an ever-growing share of its foreign policy and trade agendas to the appeasement of Turkey and Libya’s authoritarian leaders. Australia’s immigration policies increasingly deter even high-skilled workers.

Mr. Gammeltoft-Hansen said he had seen the same pattern play out in Europe for years: The bloc escalates harsh policies to deter migrants. It works for a while. Refugees find new tactics. And then the cycle would repeat.

“Very few states can say that the strategies they’re pursuing are overall effective,” he said, and for one simple reason: “Because you haven’t fixed the underlying problem.”

The European Union has not so much ended the migrant crisis as relocated it. It has diverted hundreds of thousands of people to poorer countries that have proven neither able nor willing to bear that burden indefinitely — creating the conditions for more crises.

Europe dressed up its policies in the language of regional stability and human rights, as has Australia. Now that Mr. Trump is using overt hostility to immigration and appeals to racial resentment to explain the same approach, it may make the costs and trade-offs of those policies more difficult to ignore.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156685743_761ac238-81cb-4fcc-a9c5-ade34b678f75-articleLarge Trump’s Immigration Measures, Far From New, Follow Europe’s Example United States Trump, Donald J Refugees and Displaced Persons Politics and Government Middle East and Africa Migrant Crisis Latin America Immigration and Emigration Europe Australia Asylum, Right of

Passengers ride across the Suchiate river marking the Guatemala-Mexico border.CreditLuis Antonio Rojas for The New York Times

The immigration strategy increasingly common across Western governments — and the reasons many experts consider it far less effective than it appears on the surface — can be seen in the story of two migrant boats that departed Libya’s coast for Europe earlier this year.

The first boat capsized early in its journey across the Mediterranean, killing all but three of the 120 passengers. Under the central premise of European immigration policy, that should have deterred more migrants from attempting to cross.

European policymakers didn’t set out to capsize boats. Their goal was to make the journey so dangerous — by curtailing search-and-rescue missions, restricting aid groups, even closing their ports to emergency rescue vessels — that migrants would be dissuaded from setting out in the first place.

And yet just one week later, another boat set out from Libya’s coast, its passengers undeterred.

This was not unusual.

A 2016 study found that physical barriers to migration in Europe and the United States had not prevented crossings. Instead, it said, they had produced “an increase in the number of deaths” by pushing migration into “ever more dangerous paths.”

The second boat was intercepted by Libya’s coast guard, as part of a European Union deal granting its government sweeping concessions. The 144 on board, including children and pregnant women, were returned to Libya and locked in warehouses so squalid that they, too — in theory, anyway — should have scared people off from trying the sea crossing.

“No amount of preparation can actually prepare you for standing inside the detention center and seeing the sea of faces huddled in a dark room,” said Sam Turner, the head of mission for Doctors Without Borders in Libya. “It’s really harrowing.”

Detainees told Mr. Turner that the conditions had come as no surprise, and it seems clear they were no deterrent. Fewer than 1 percent of the half-million-plus refugees and migrants in Libya are held in such centers. Among the rest, Mr. Turner has found, the warehouses are seen as a reason to try all the harder to cross.

“We are a bit naïve in this,” Mr. Turner said. “Policies supposed to act as deterrence factors are actually acting as push factors.”

An offshore migrant detention center used by Australia on Los Negros Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea.CreditAshley Gilbertson for The New York Times

These arrangements, which come at terrible cost to migrants, allow rich countries to skirt domestic and international laws requiring them to grant certain rights to any refugees who reach their borders. And they allow rich countries to push the human costs of their policies out of sight.

While the Trump administration’s detention centers have provoked major controversies in the United States, the camps created under European and Australian policies have met with far less backlash.

If Mr. Trump’s experience is anything like Europe’s, he may find that persuading Mexico or Guatemala to detain refugees on the United States’ behalf will drastically worsen conditions for refugees, but alleviate much of the backlash from Americans.

Mr. Gammeltoft-Hansen, however, said he had seen many such deals come and go. They rarely survived long. Host countries lost interest as refugee camps overflowed and aid dried up, or lost the ability to uphold their end of the deal when they encountered political crises of their own.

More often, migrant flows just shifted to a new route.

It was a cycle.

The European Union would scramble to cut a new deal. Each would cost European governments more than the last, to overcome skepticism from poor countries that had seen the ever-mounting risks of becoming Europe’s refugee camp. And, each time, the number of people accumulating in intermediary countries would grow.

The buildup meant that even a single dam break in the system could cause a sudden rush in arrivals. The 2015 migrant crisis, for example, was partly the result of a single short-lived break in Libya, one of Europe’s most reliable bulwarks against migrants until its government collapsed.

Since then, pushing the burdens of migration onto poorer countries has grown only more common.

“The biggest thing that I think is changing is the ability of governments to essentially put the responsibility of refugee hosting on the less powerful,” said Stephanie Schwartz, a migration scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s become really brazen.”

Migrants rescued by a German-flagged rescue ship aboard a patrol boat as they are brought into Malta.CreditMatthew Mirabelli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As policies to deter migration escalate, each new measure temporarily slows arrivals without changing the fundamental calculus made by anyone considering setting out for a new country.

Mr. Turner, the Doctors Without Borders aid worker, noted that as risky as the journey may be, many refugees already face grave dangers and hardships at home that drive them to flee in the first place. Even the risk of death — a chance of one in 20 for a Mediterranean crossing, some data suggests — is not always enough to overcome the forces that drive someone to seek asylum.

A quirk of European immigration misled many Westerners into believing that deterrence works, Mr. Gammeltoft-Hansen said.

For years, European countries have imposed harsh measures to scare would-be migrants into settling in another European country. These did not reduce overall arrivals to Europe, Mr. Gammeltoft-Hansen said. It merely moved them around.

But it has led Western governments to chip away at the global rights and practices governing modern immigration.

Mr. Trump is unusual only in that he is openly and deliberately driving to upend that system. It is impossible to say for sure whether this could set off a backlash against such policies — or grant more governments license to do the same.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Johnson’s August 3) Delivering campaign pledges – in so far as he can without a durable majority

It is now overwhelmingly likely that Boris Johnson will be the next Conservative Party leader and become Prime Minister.

He may well face a no confidence vote in September, and the Brexit extension expires at the end of October in any event.

So he and his new team will have to hit the ground running in August. We continue our series on what he should do during that month and late July before the Commons is due to return on September 3.

– – – – – – – – – –

According to our weekly updated list, Boris Johnson has made some 25 policy pledges during the Conservative leadership election.  In the probable event of a general election in the autumn, he won’t be able to deliver on many of them.  And he will soon have a working majority of only three in any event.

Which surely rules out a Special Budget in September.  It would have to contain more provisions for No Deal, and wrapping them up in this way would only encourage MPs to vote them down.  He would do better to try any that he needs on the Commons piecemeal.

MPs would also vote down any tax cuts “for the rich” – a category who they would collectively argue includes those who pay the higher rate of income tax, the threshold of which Johnson has promised to raise.

It would be impossible in effect to cut income tax rates in time for a snap election anyway, though the Commons might nod through a rise in the national insurance threshold for lower paid workers, another of his pledges.

But just because Johnson can’t do everything – or even anything much that requires a Bill – doesn’t mean that he can only do nothing.

Governments have greater discretion on spending than tax.  So, for example, he could start to deliver on increasing funding per pupil in secondary schools and raising police numbers.  That would come in handy with an autumn election looming.

The latter move would go hand in hand with a battle with Chief Constables and others over the best use of new resources.  Voters want to see more police on the streets and more use of stop and search.  Johnson’s new Home Secretary should pile in.

And while he will have little legislative room for manoeuvre, he will be able to propose some relatively uncontentious Bills for September – settling the status, for example, of EU citizens.

Then there are measures that he could announce the new Government will not proceed with, as well as those that he wants to proceed with.  Theresa May is providing a growing list of the former.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he should take an axe to parts of her legacy programme – including, as Henry Hill has argued, the hostage to fortune that is the proposed Office for Tackling Injustices.

He will also want to show a direction of travel on some major policy issues.  We do not believe that refusing to commit to a reduction in immigration is sustainable.  As a starting-point to establishing control, he could do a lot worse than take up the Onward proposals floated on this site yesterday by Mark Harper.

There is a limited amount that the new Government will be able to do a in single month – not least when the new Prime Minister is bound to be out of London for parts of it, Parliament isn’t sitting, there is a new Brexit policy to get into shape, and the threat of a no confidence vote in September.

What Johnson can do is form a team, shape a Cabinet – of which more later – begin the Brexit negotiation’s new phase, and show what his priorities are: police, schools and infrastructure, with a particular stress when it comes to the latter on the Midlands and the North.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mark Harper: Most people think it is right to reduce migration. We need a Sustainable Immigration Plan.

Mark Harper is a former Chief Whip, and is MP for the Forest of Dean.  He was Immigration Minister from 2012 to 2014.

One very clear message that the electorate continues to send to politicians is the importance of having a sensible migration policy that controls the levels of immigration into our country.  The topic featured prominently during yesterday evening’s leadership election debate between Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson.

The Conservative Party has spent nine years and three general elections pledging to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands, yet last year it stood at 253,000 a year. It is clear that some new thinking is required to make our migration policy more effective, and this involves moving beyond our current net migration target.

What was a powerful statement of intent in 2010 now stands as a visible statement of a target that we have never managed to hit. Back then, we reassured ourselves that the last time we were in government, in the 1990s, net migration averaged fewer than 50,000 and never exceeded 100,000 a year.

It was Labour, not the Conservatives, who oversaw a four-fold leap in net migration during their 13 year stint in government, helped along by Tony Blair’s unilateral decision to relinquish free movement controls in 2004. Moreover, because EU net inflows were minimal, a full 88 per cent of net migration was under direct government control.  Net migration in the tens of thousands was deliverable, but the target was not the way to achieve it.

Despite being maligned as too tough by the Left, the target has proved weak. It sits above different migration routes and therefore gives no indication of the government’s priorities between different skills, industries or types of migration. It has no teeth with Whitehall departments, allowing the merry-go-round of departmental and business special pleading to continue with no consideration of the trade-offs.

As a result, net migration adds a city the size of Newcastle upon Tyne to the population each year. If you add up cumulative net migration since 2010, a total of 1.4 million more people have come to the UK compared to if we had hit our net migration target every year. It is hardly surprising that a majority of every age group, ethnicity and both Remain and Leave voters support reducing immigration and three quarters of people think reducing immigration to the tens of thousands is the right thing to do.

That is why I support new proposals this morning from the thinktank Onward to replace the target with a long-term Sustainable Immigration Plan – published by the Home Office every year and presented to Parliament. This would force the Government to set out its own plans and forecasts for immigration, across different routes, skills and nationalities and make the trade-offs that are inherent in immigration policy.

But this plan needs teeth. That is why we should go one step further and create a new independent Office for Migration Responsibility – along the lines of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility – to enable Ministers to be held to account on the impact of their own immigration policies. This body would provide the information needed to enable Parliament to hold Ministers’ feet to the fire on their promises on immigration and bring an end to unattainable targets.

We must restore public confidence in immigration policy by not only setting out a well-structured and actionable plan to make sure politicians have the ability to decide which – and how many – people come into the country every year, but by being truly accountable for delivering on it.

For far too long the public have thought, and quite rightly too, that our politicians do not have their hands on the wheel when it comes to immigration policy. This has to change, and as we leave the EU we will regain the ability to shape a migration policy that can control immigration from wherever in the world it comes. I hope that our next Prime Minister – whoever that may be – will welcome this report and embrace these proposals into their government’s agenda.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nicky Morgan: Our report on Alternative Arrangements holds the key to leaving the EU at last – and avoiding a general election

Nicky Morgan is Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, a former Education Secretary, and MP for Loughborough.

Last Thursday, members of the Prosperity UK Alternative Arrangements Commission, which I am co-chairing with Greg Hands, visited Brussels. We were there to present our interim report on how alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland can be found, and to listen to comments on our report.

Later this week, we will present our final report and draft protocols, again to demonstrate how, with pragmatism and goodwill on all sides, a solution can be found. Without one, it appears that it will not be possible to have a withdrawal deal passed by a majority in the Commons and, if the UK is to leave the EU, then it will do so without any deal or formal understanding about the future relationship between the UK and EU being in place.

Meanwhile, last week, a number of MPs backed amendments to the legislation on Northern Ireland that we were debating in the Commons that aimed to stop Parliament being prorogued – and, therefore, to stop a No Deal Brexit taking place. One such amendment was passed and two were not.

We have reached a quite extraordinary state of affairs when the thought of proroguing Parliament to stop MPs having a say on a major shift in the UK’s foreign and trade policy is even a possibility.

I understand why colleagues want to put down a marker now that prorogation won’t work. And I understand why so many are so keen to take on the undesired outcome (for most people) of a No Deal outcome to Brexit.

On those issues it is worth reading the replies both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have sent to the One Nation Caucus on these issues.

From Boris Johnson:

“With regards to your question on ‘No Deal’, I want to again emphasise that this is not an outcome I am aiming for and is not an outcome that I want. As I have set out before, I believe that the very act of preparing for ‘No Deal’ will make that scenario less likely…I would also like to make it absolutely clear that I am not attracted to arcane procedures such as the prorogation of Parliament. As someone who aspires to be the Prime Minister of a democratic nation, I believe in finding consensus in the House of Commons.”

And from Jeremy Hunt:

“I would reassure your colleagues that I still believe that the quickest way, the safest way, and the most secure way to leave the EU is with a good deal….In no circumstances would I prorogue Parliament as a means of securing a No Deal outcome.”

So it seems to me that rather than poring over our Erskine May and Commons standing orders, we would be better to recognise the reality of parliamentary arithmetic, and the need for a positive way through the current Brexit impasse.

Now more than ever the public (and the EU) need to see what MPs are in favour of – not what we are against. If anything, we need to crystallise the Brady amendment into something tangible and practical.

And the tangible and practical proposal on offer will be the Alternative Arrangements report and protocols produced by the Prosperity UK Commission.

On these proposals and in reply to our letter, Johnson said this:

“Key to this new deal will be avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, a prospect no serious candidate would ever dream of entertaining. To that end, I have read the Alternative Arrangements with great interest and I will continue to use it as a consultation document moving forward. The EU has also recently announced that it will be looking into the Alternative Arrangements, a clear sign that our joint goal to ensure there is never a no hard border in Northern Ireland is already underway.”

Hunt said this:

“The negotiating team would be tasked with producing an alternative exit deal, based on the Alternative Arrangements proposals, that can command a majority in the House of Commons and address, seriously and forensically, legitimate EU and Irish concerns about the Irish border and the integrity of the Single Market.”

I would therefore hope that all those working on plans to stop No Deal will find the time to add, to their summer reading lists, our final report. It is clear that it will be influential with whoever is the next Prime Minister. And it has always been the case that the best way to avoid No Deal is to have a deal, which is what we have been working on since April.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Johnson’s August 1) He must spend some time in Scotland

It is now overwhelmingly likely that Boris Johnson will be the next Conservative Party leader and become Prime Minister.

He may well face a no confidence vote in September, and the Brexit extension expires at the end of October in any event.

So he and his new team will have to hit the ground running in August. We open today a brief series on what he should do during that month and late July before the Commons is due to return on September 3.

– – – – – – – – – –

Today’s papers suggest that the new Prime Minister will visit Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron – it apparently isn’t yet decided in what order – and seek to visit Donald Trump early in search of a UK – US trade deal.

He will also have to go to Dublin to make personal contact with Leo Varadkar – testing and perhaps fruitless though such a trip may be.

One can begin to see from the number of journeys that Johnson will have to make from Downing Street that he will need a strong team, with perhaps a Deputy Prime Minister or First Secretary of State in place, and certainly a capable Minister at the Cabinet Office, to run much of the Government’s new domestic policy in his absence.

The new Prime Minister shouldn’t be out of London more than is absolutely necessary – after all, the Iran standoff may suddenly flare up, in the manner of August foreign policy crises – but he will surely have to find time for a trip to Scotland.

There is evidence that his ratings in Scotland are weak; much of the Scottish Conservative Party will have voted for Jeremy Hunt; Ruth Davidson is not a fan, the SNP would undoubtedly use any No Deal Brexit to make a new push for Scottish independence – and Scottish Parliamentary elections are due in 2021.

In short, the threat to the Union “hasn’t gone away, you know”, and the new Prime Minister must seek to head some of the trouble off.  His main downside seems to be that he is seen in parts of Scotland as quintessentially English figure.

But the same could be said of almost any Tory successor to Theresa May, including Jeremy Hunt.  And some Scottish MPs and MSPs have broken for the front-runner.  Ross Thomson, Colin Clark, Douglas Ross and Andrew Bowie are now signed up.

The last is May’s PPS, and will be a useful guide to Scotland for the new Prime Minister.  Thomson is a long-standing supporter.  One of Johnson’s first decisions will be what to do with David Mundell, the experienced Scotland Secretary, who along with several of his colleagues backed Michael Gove.

Three MSPs  – Michelle Ballantyne, Margaret Mitchell and Oliver Mundell – are also doing so, though they are very much in a minority in their group.  Mundell explained his reasons recently on this site.

Johnson has dropped his original wish to recast the Barnett formula, and will now seek to be styled Minister for the Union as well as Prime Minister.

But he will need to do much more than that if he is help bolster the Union early – and rebuff claims of indulging in mere Red-White-And-Bluewash.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Mansfield: Brexit by October 31. Stop using the Left’s language. And stand for skilled workers. Essentials for our next Prime Minister

Iain Mansfield is a former senior civil servant, winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs Brexit prize and a Conservative councillor candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.

Our next Prime Minister will take office at the most challenging time since the 1970s. Not only is there Brexit – an issue of fundamental national importance, that has destroyed the last two Prime Ministers and poses an existential challenge to the future of the Conservative Party – but the old political assumptions are changing. Across the West, traditional voter coalitions are shifting, as citizens reject centrist compromises. Flatlining productivity, unaffordable houses and millions of voters feeling abandoned, either culturally or economically, are just some of the challenges they will face.

Many of those who voted for David Cameron in 2010 are lost to the party, alienated by Brexit. In Britain today, age and education level are better predictors of a person’s vote than class. To win a general election, our next Prime Minister must forge a new coalition of voters that unites the traditional Tory shires with the left-behind Leave voters in the Midlands and North. Even more importantly, they must deliver authentic right-wing policies that address the causes of ordinary working people’s dissatisfaction. People want change and, if the Conservative Party does not deliver it, they are likely to seek answers in the flawed blandishments of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism.

In that context, there are three essentials that our next Prime Minister must prioritise for the good of the people, the nation and the party:

  • Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed.
  • Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left.
  • Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes.

Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed

Not only is delivering on the outcome of the referendum a democratic imperative, it is vital for the continued existence of the party. Recent polling shows that, if we have not left the EU, the Conservatives are likely to suffer devastating losses in a general election; these figures could be even worse if large numbers of members, councillors or even entire associations defect to the Brexit Party. Many members have held on over the last few months purely out of hope that the next Prime Minister would deliver where May failed: another betrayal in October would see these members permanently lost.

Leaving with a deal is preferable, if some changes to the backstop can be agreed and Parliament will pass it. If not, as I have argued previously on this site, we have nothing to fear from No Deal. Preparations for such should be put into top gear on the first day in office. The Prime Minister must make clear that they will under no circumstances ask for an extension; and that they are, if needed, prepared to systematically veto any measure put forward by the EU on regular business if the UK is for some reason kept in. While every effort should be made to secure a deal, if it cannot be reached, Parliament must be faced with the simple choice of permitting a WTO exit or voting no confidence in the Prime Minister – a gamble, admittedly, but one that is preferable to another disastrous extension.

Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left

In recent years too many Conservative politicians have allowed our opponents to define the playing field. We cannot beat the socialists by adopting the language and assumptions of socialism. Our next Prime Minister must stop feeding the narrative of identity, grievance and division, with its assumption that an individual’s potential is defined by their characteristics, that so-called ‘burning injustices’ are solely the responsibility of the state to address, and that the government always no best.

Changing the narrative will be a long endeavour. The systematic appointment of those with conservative values into key ministerially appointed positions; an authentically right-wing approach to policy making in Whitehall; and the withdrawal of state funding from the network of organisations that maintain the left’s grip on the policy narrative are essential. But over and above this, the Prime Minister must be willing to personally stand up and champion individual liberties and freedoms; to condemn progressive authoritarianism and to be visibly proud of Britain, our culture and the rich global heritage of our citizens.

Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes

Young, metropolitan graduates may once have been natural Conservatives, but no longer. There is little hope of reversing this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. Instead of squandering our effort here, our new Prime Minister should instead make the party the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes, particularly in the midlands and north.

Such voters have a natural affinity to the traditional conservative values of low tax and individual liberty, but also greatly value and rely day-to-day onn strong public services. This places the Conservatives in a difficult position after a decade of austerity: Labour made hay campaigning on cuts to police numbers and falls in per pupil spending in 2017. But how to fund significant increases in core services without raising taxes or alienating core Conservative voters, such as via the disastrous proposals on social care in the 2017 manifesto?

To find the funding the next Prime Minister must be bold enough to slay the progressive sacred cows that soak up billions annually in public funding. Three immediately spring to mind:

With the additional £15 billion plus a year, the Prime Minister could at a stroke increase police funding by 25 per cent (£3 billion), boost school funding per pupil by 20 per cent (£8 billion) and increase spending on social care by 20 per cent (£4 billion). And then split the proceeds of further growth between public services and tax cuts.

As well as this, we should champion the interests of the high street, enterprise and small businesses and oppose crony corporatism. Multinational companies that make use of aggressive tax avoidance, abuse their market position or actively work against UK sovereignty should not enjoy government grants, procurement or time in No. 10. Fundamentally, our next Prime Minister should spend more time listening to the Federation of Small Businesses and less time listening to the CBI.

Conclusion

As members, we have two candidates set before us. Both are able politicians and tested leaders who represent the best the Parliamentary party has to offer. As we assess who should be not just our next leader, but our Prime Minister, we should do so against their ability to deliver these vital elements.

Both have committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 – but which one has the ability, the genuine will and the courage to do so by any means necessary? Both are true-blue Conservatives – but which one will truly champion our values, taking the battle to our adversaries with the eloquence and conviction of a Thatcher or a Churchill? Both recognise the importance of reaching out to new voters – but which one can devise and push through the policies needed to unite the Tory shires with the Leave voters of the north? Consider carefully and cast your vote.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Jenkins: Too many excuses are made for Iran – especially by the EU. We must get real, stand with America – and take decisive action

Sir John Jenkins is a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government’s Muslim Brotherhood Review of 2015.  He is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange.

How do we – the UK – solve a problem called Iran? The answer is more complicated than it should be, given the fragmented state of British politics, the way in which the Brexit debate has sucked all the policy oxygen from the room and now the absurd diplomatic spat with the Trump Administration.

But it is also urgent, given the way regional tensions are rising, bellicose noises from Washington DC and Tehran and our own self-understanding as a major international actor with a massive stake in global order and the reduction of conflict in the Middle East. What we decide to do about Iran now will also shape the views of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the US, France and Germany about what sort of power we shall continue to be after Brexit. It’s a test of our national will.

The general view of the commentariat seems to be that recent tensions are the fault of Donald Trump and his National Security Adviser, the belligerent John Bolton. They shouldn’t have abandoned the JCPOA, the nuclear deal negotiated over many painful years by the EU3+3, it is said. They shouldn’t have reapplied sanctions. They certainly shouldn’t overreact to Iran’s deliberate breach of the 300kg/3.67 per cent limits for uranium enrichment. And they should lay off Twitter. Is this fair?

Well, let’s remember that Iran has been an aggressive and often hostile presence in the Middle East since 1979. Under the Shah, it may have thrown its weight around from time to time. But it did so largely through OPEC and by trying to bully much smaller countries like Bahrain, backing down when confronted.

By contrast, the Islamic Republic tried from the start to export revolution. When this failed, it sought to subvert its neighbours by providing support to a wide variety of largely Shia Islamist groups. It helped to establish Hezbollah in Lebanon in the early 1980s. After 1983 it built similar groups in Iraq – and after 2011 in Syria – on the same model. It now backs the Houthis in Yemen.

Throughout this period, Iran has engaged either through others or on its own account in terrorist attacks on the US (Beirut and Kuwait 1983), France (Beirut and Kuwait 1983), Kuwait (1983, 1985, 1988), Saudi Arabia and the US (Al Khobar 1996) and Israel (Buenos Aires 1994, and Thailand and Bulgaria 2012). It sponsored kidnappings in Lebanon throughout the 1980s and the 2007 abduction of a British IT adviser, Peter Moore, and his close protection team in Iraq. Through its allies in Iraq it killed and maimed US and UK military personnel from 2003 to 2010. It has conducted regular assassinations at home and abroad.

During the latter part of the Iran-Iraq war, it indiscriminately sowed mines in international shipping lanes. It is almost certainly behind the recent attacks on shipping off the UAE, in the Gulf of Oman and elsewhere. For years it has offered tactical if intermittent support to Al Qaeda – and at one time to the Taliban – including training the operatives who carried out the 1998 East Africa bombings. It has given substantial and sustained military support to the Assad regime in Syria. It has illegally supplied missiles and advanced guidance systems to Hezbollah, some Iraqi Shia militias and the Houthis. And it continues to seek to establish permanent military bases in Syria in order to threaten Israel directly.

You’d think that all this would give commentators pause, especially when they wonder whether war is coming. They don’t seem to have noticed that it never really went away as far as Iran is concerned.

Now you could argue that this picture is exaggerated. Everyone’s doing it in the Middle East. And that in any case Iran is simply defending itself against sectarian Sunni revanchism and bone-headed US hostility.

But everyone’s not doing it. The brutal murder of Jamal al Khashoggi was shocking for many reasons. But one of them is precisely that the Saudis don’t normally do that kind of thing. They may, of course, do lots of other things people don’t like, including locking up human rights activists, executing people without what we would consider due process and exporting extremism.  There’s truth in all that – but Iran does the first two things on an even greater and the third on at least a comparable scale. And the point here is not whether a particular country has an unpleasant way of managing itself, but what the impact is on regional and therefore global security.

On this point, there is no comparison. The Saudis, together with the UAE, certainly helped fund popular opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But such opposition already existed, was widespread, peaceful and growing from 2012 onwards. There has been regional competition for influence in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war there in 2011. But no other Middle Eastern power has sought so consistently as Iran to foment violent revolution in neighbouring states or exported vast quantities of weapons to those who seek to subvert them. No-one else since the collapse of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi has sponsored terrorist attacks across the region and abroad, obstructed maritime free passage, harrassed foreign naval vessels or laid mines. Virtually everyone else has made some sort of accommodation with Israel.

And no other state has talent-spotted, backed or created and sustained such an array of powerful and purposeful sub-state actors – from Lebanese Hezbollah to the Badr Brigade, the Leagues of the Righteous and Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, the Afghan and Pakistani Shia militias in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. No doubt these groups have their own interests and their own purposes. Hezbollah in particular is also a global criminal enterprise with its tentacles extending through West Africa to Europe, Australia and South America, engaging in human trafficking, money laundering, the drugs trade – including a nice recent line helping smuggle Captagon out of Syria to pay for Iranian oil – and cheque fraud on a vast scale

But with the exception (mostly) of the Houthis, they all recognise the supreme religious and political authority of the Supreme Leader in Iran and in practice share the same overriding goals, of an expanded Shia hegemony over the greater Levant and, if possible, further afield under an Iranian umbrella and the eventual triumph in these areas of Khomeini’s heterodox doctrine of Wilayat al Faqih – the trusteeship of the righteous jurisprudent, in practice the Supreme Leader in Tehran.

The Houthis now fire missiles with gay abandon at airports, power stations and desalination plants in Saudi Arabia, and have threatened to do the same to the UAE. It turns out that the most recent drone attack on oil pipelines in the Kingdom – something that only makes sense in the context of Yemen – originated in Iraq. You might say that KSA is at war with the Houthis. But you can’t condemn Saudi attacks on civilian infrastructure in Yemen without doing the same for the Houthis. And what’s Iraq got to do with any of this?

The answer, of course, is that they’re all in it together. Iran has mobilised its allies and assets from the Bab al Mandab through the Gulf of Oman up to Iraq, Syria and indeed Lebanon in order to send a clear signal about its geographical reach, the variety and deadliness of its partners and the way in which it can use asymmetric and often deniable attacks to compensate for its conventional weaknesses as it seeks to preserve its gains in the wider region, face down the US and intimidate Europe.

The US under Trump seems incapable of transmitting such clear and consistent signals – there’s the constant hiss of tantrum-driven static instead. But you’d think in the circumstances that the EU would be inclined to stand with Washington – its single most important ally – and state clearly and collectively that we will not be intimidated, we condemn all targeting of civilian infrastructure and interference with shipping; that we will join forces to guarantee the freedom of navigation in the Gulf and adjoining seas, work to prevent further missile proliferation and respond robustly to attacks on the Arab Gulf States – at the same time as seeking to end the calamitous war in Yemen.

You’d be disappointed. The EU’s incoming High Representative for Foreign and Security Affairs, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell instead simply shrugs his shoulders and says that the EU will continue to work with Iran – and if Iran wants to destroy Israel, well, we’ll just have to learn to live with it. His predecessor, Federica Mogherini, quixotically used her last months in office to promote a special financial mechanism to enable European companies to avoid the impact of US bilateral sanctions on Iran. They won’t use it, of course. Who in their right minds would? But it was important to show willing. Willing to help Iran, that is.

And this points to a bigger problem in the mindset of European and indeed US elites over Iran, quite separate from the question of whether the US was right to withdraw from the JCPOA. If there’s any benefit of any doubt going around, Iran gets it. This isn’t just because Iran keeps teasing Europe with the idea that they might be the ones to save the JCPOA (though it does). And it isn’t quite universal. There’s an excellent and acerbic account of the intense final stages of the nuclear negotiations by the then French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, which makes clear his view of how Iran played the Kerry team. And even Europe may eventually run out of patience with Iranian posturing.

But there has long been a strong thread of Iranophilia in European policy circles, particularly but not exclusively on the Left. This is not out of love for Iran: but because far too many people in these circles dislike the US and did so even before Trump. A year or so ago at an Iran-related event, I heard a senior European External Action Service adviser tell a friend that it was important to support Iran (rather than Saudi Arabia) because only Iran in the region stood up to US imperialism.

That’s not an uncommon view and is now combined with a visceral loathing for Trump. It’s reflected in the way that many liberal commentators can’t bring themselves to admit that Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and many of the Iraqi Shia militias are in cahoots. The argument tends to be twofold: (a) Iran has a right to defend itself and (b) proxies equals puppets – any suggestion that these groups are just proxies misses their functional independence within particular socio-political contexts.

It’s a classic straw man argument. No one serious claims that these groups are puppets or simply proxies. They’re actually lots of different things, most of them unpleasant. But none of that alters the fact that they will serve Iran when Iran calls. We have seen them do so repeatedly from the 1980s – when Badr fought with Iran against their fellow Iraqis and Hezbollah bombed and kidnapped with impunity – to the present – when the Houthis keep the Saudis pinned down and distracted with Iranian technology while pumping out their propaganda from the Hezbollah stronghold of South Beirut. And little of this is about Iran’s right to self-defence.

It’s still not clear to me that there will be open war between the US and Iran. The latest French outreach to Iran may encourage both sides to step back. Neither wants a real fight. Trump has made clear his aversion to one as the US enters an election year. Iran knows and seeks to exploit this just short of conflict, though it also believes that if something does kick off, Trump is likely to want to end it quickly.

But you never know. And there are some clear if unsurprising policy conclusions for the new Foreign Secretary – when one is appointed and has decided who will replace the admirable Kim Darroch in Washington. First, si pacem vis, bellum para. What stokes the flames at times of tension is weakness and a lack of clarity. During the 1980s, Iran backed off because the US was crystal clear about both sending and acting upon its signals. Barack Obama set a bad precedent by abandoning his red lines in Syria in 2013. Trump didn’t do much better by striking Syrian targets once in 2017, blustering, and then last month advertising the fact that he had aborted a military response to the Iranian downing of a US surveillance drone.

This can only be remedied in Washington. That’s going to do take a lot of work. We should certainly advise against war – there are other things we can do instead. But we must stand by the US when it acts – whatever we may think about the President, the US is more than one person and remains indispensable to our security. The instinctive wringing of hands in Brussels and other European capitals simply encourages Iran.

The French at least will probably also want to be robust. We should work with them in shaping a realistic response with the US. If that means joint military action, we need to be part of it. We also need collectively to be clear about the triggers for any escalation ladder – from the new Gulf maritime protection force proposed by the US to the use of proportionate force in self-defence against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces, the possible targeting of IRGC command and control nodes if they persist in hostile action and so forth.

We should be hard over against the Iran-aligned Shia militias in Iraq – just as we’ve decided belatedly to get real with Hezbollah by ending the feeble pretence (which they publicly ridiculed) that they have separate military and political wings. The Iraqi Prime Minister has said he wants to bring them under proper central governmental control. Some people suspect that’s an excuse to let them take over the state instead. We need to work with partners – again the US and the French, the Kurds, elements of the Iraqi government and key Iraqi Shia clerics – to stop them doing so.

We need to push for a settlement in Yemen. The war damaging, draining and entirely counterproductive. The UAE have wanted a settlement for the last couple of years and are now drawing down their forces. We have our differences with them. This is an area where we can potentially work together.

In the longer term, British and indeed western policy towards Iran needs to be what it always should have been, clear, robust, sustained and collective containment and deterrence. I’ve recently seen some very prominent former Obama officials argue that that’s precisely what the JCPOA was.

I didn’t think that withdrawing from the deal was particularly sensible. But that wasn’t because I thought it was a great deal. It was because I thought it bought us time – around 15 years to be precise. The task was to agree how to use that time well. But that’s not what actually happened. When the deal was formally ratified in 2015, the Obama Administration did nothing about Iran’s horizontal escalation in the region. Instead, they urged western businesses to start flooding back.

But business was reluctant – they suspected rightly that they’d find themselves in bed with some alarming partners which would spell serious trouble for them back home if these partners didn’t stop doing what they were doing in Iran, in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, not to mention further afield. And that was the problem. There was no effort to stop them nor any plan for containment and deterrence, just relief that we’d escaped from the trap we’d set for ourselves when we’d threatened consequences we weren’t prepared to deliver.

I’m glad to see we’ve now had the guts to stop a tanker we believe is smuggling Iranian oil in defiance of sanctions on Syria. The fact that the Iranians have threatened to retaliate – and may already have tried – suggests the charge is true. This won’t have been an easy decision to make. Over the last decade, there has been a startling lack of action over Iranian smuggling – of weapons, missile components and oil, even in areas where international maritime task forces – with British participation – operate such as the Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Horn of Africa and the approaches to the Red Sea. So to stop a tanker now – even if it is Syria-related – sends a message of intent. It may also suggest that we are becoming more inclined to back the US – which has probably have supplied the intelligence on which the stop order was based.

And this is one way ahead. It’s not a question of toppling the Iranian regime. That’s a matter for Iranians. Nor is it a question of war: if the Iranians insist on continuing to threaten their neighbours, imperil shipping and subvert our friends, then we need to find and use ways to stop them doing so. But we need to do so proportionately, coolly and in partnership with others who are similarly willing, the US and the French in particular: the Germans will remain ambivalent. We also need to go after the criminal money flows around the world that sustain Iran and its allies in the region. The US Department of the Treasury and the FBI have been doing so for years. We should be part of all this.

In doing so we need to make sure that our military, our intelligence and security services and our diplomatic effort are properly funded, with the right equipment, staff and skills. And that they feel they have the full backing of ministers. That’s not been the case for some years now. Putting things right will be a generational task.

Needless to say, none of this will be remotely possible if a Corbyn government gets elected. So best get cracking now…

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Clark Vasey: Only Johnson can deliver Blue Collar Conservatism

Clark Vasey is the founder of Blue Collar Conservatism and was the Conservative Candidate for Workington in 2017

Since we first set up Blue Collar Conservatism in 2012, I have worked with Esther McVey to encourage the Conservatives to focus on the working class voters who have been taken for granted by Labour. They have been consistently let down by that party, and have been turning to the Conservatives in greater numbers than any other group. With the election of Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of posh metropolitan socialism followed by the Leave victory in the EU referendum, we were well placed to achieve an historic realignment.  But in 2017 with a Brexit message diluted by unpopular policies we lost ground.

With our failure to deliver Brexit, what was once an opportunity now poses an existential threat to the party. Rather than winning over working class voters we now risk losing them hand over fist to the Brexit Party, as both the European elections and the Peterborough by-election demonstrate.

If we are still in the EU come 1 November, we risk irreparably breaching trust with these voters and offering Corbyn a route to power. Yet if we can deliver a proper Brexit at the end of October, thereby depriving Nigel Farage of his narrative of betrayal, then the potential of connecting with these voters remains. Corbyn does not speak for working- class people and, with Tom Watson determined to turn Labour into a party for metropolitan remainers, Labour are dropping any pretence of speaking for its traditional communities.

This is why Esther relaunched Blue Collar Conservatism earlier this year. Once we have delivered Brexit, we must build an agenda for working people by focusing on the issues which matter most to them. Being on the side of the people who need us most is not only the right thing to do, but is the only way in which we can win a majority. And it is only with that majority that we can keep out the most destructive socialist government in our history, and transform our country with the opportunities which will follow leaving the EU.

I was proud to support Esther in a campaign which put Blue Collar Conservatism on the agenda of this leadership contest. When the dust has settled, people will look back and see that she presented the most coherent and costed campaign in this contest.

This was possible because we applied three simple principles of Blue Collar Conservatism – 1) that resources should be focused on things which really matter to people, 2) that we must always ensure people are able to keep more of their own money and 3) that we must use Conservative policies to grow the economy to enable us to do 1 and 2.

You do not win working class voters by dipping into Ed Miliband’s bag of tricks. We need a Conservative agenda which delivers the things which really matter, not watered-down Labour policies.

This is what Esther did with her calls for more spending on police and schools funded by taking the DfID budget back to 2010 levels. This why Esther talked about public sector pay and fantastic initiatives such as a new Police Covenant. This was about genuinely shifting the dial on these issues which cause us huge pain in constituencies across the country. It was also about challenging orthodoxies within the party such as the 0.7 per cent of GDP on international aid, which would have an important symbolic effect of showing we are listening, and are not just focused on Westminster priorities.

Over the coming weeks and months Blue Collar Conservatism will continue to make the case that the party must win over the support of working people, particularly in the Midlands and the North. Esther’s Blue Collar Conversations pub tour is making its way around the country talking to people who would not normally engage with Conservatives. This is helping us build up a body of ideas which our voters and potential voters actually want. But the most important challenge for us now is that the new leader recognises the importance of this agenda for our party and our country. This is why it was so welcome that Boris Johnson endorsed Esther’s Blue Collar agenda.

When it comes to shaping a popular agenda incorporating Blue Collar Conservatism there is only one remaining candidate in the contest, and that is Johnson. This is not about an individual’s background, but their ability to connect with people and present radical Conservative policies which will make a positive difference to them.

However, first we must deliver Brexit. If we are not out of the EU by 31 October we will never be given a hearing on what comes after, no matter how positive. Johnson is the only candidate who can restore trust on Brexit and deliver Blue Collar policies which will secure a Conservative majority and keep Corbyn out of Downing Street.

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Global Recession Risks Are Up, and Central Banks Aren’t Ready

Central bankers have a favorite mantra: Patch the roof while the sun is shining.

But 10 years after the Federal Reserve worked alongside the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan to bring the global economy back from the brink, their ability to prevent the next downturn is limited.

Whether the world’s central banks are prepared to combat another slump is becoming less of a hypothetical question as the global economy shows signs of strain. The chances that the United States will enter a recession by next year have grown as manufacturing weakens and trade uncertainty drags on. In Germany, the unemployment rate has ticked higher, and industrial production is slowing. In Japan, weak factory production and waning exports heighten vulnerability.

A recession is far from inevitable — particularly one as deep and painful as the last. But the capacity for the type of decisive response that prevented an even worse outcome in 2008 has been hindered. Back then, central banks cut rates, bought up bonds, extended government backing to financial products, lent money to banks and in some cases coordinated with government authorities to make sure their rescue packages didn’t work at cross-purposes. It was an unprecedented period of experimentation, one that saved economies careening toward collapse.

But today, interest rates remain below zero in Japan and Europe. They are low by historical standards in the United States, leaving less room to cut in a downturn. Most central banks still hold huge amounts of the bonds and other securities they bought to prop up their economies the last time, which could make another buying binge more difficult and dampen its effects.

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Global leaders like Christine Lagarde, who was nominated to be the next leader of the European Central Bank, are urging central bankers to act decisively in case of a downturn.CreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Monetary policy is also running low on credibility. Major central banks have failed to hit their 2 percent inflation targets during this expansion, heightening the risk that prices will slip dangerously low come the next downturn. And while promises of lower-for-longer interest rates have been a major source of stimulus in recent years, those pledges might lose some of their punch in a world where investors already expect permanently low rates.

Those constraints are especially worrying at a time when governments show little appetite for working together to offset a broad-based global slowdown. The United States and Europe are in the midst of a trade dispute that followed President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum and his threat to levy taxes on German and other European cars. Mr. Trump has criticized the European Central Bank for taking steps to protect the eurozone economy, accusing it of trying to weaken the euro and put America at a disadvantage.

Mr. Trump suggested last week that central banks were in something of an arms race, saying on Twitter that China and Europe were manipulating their currencies to gain an edge over the United States and that the Fed should start doing the same.

“We should MATCH, or continue being the dummies who sit back and politely watch as other countries continue to play their games — as they have for many years!” he wrote.

Central bank officials insist that they are prepared to act aggressively if another recession flares. The E.C.B. stands prepared to stimulate the eurozone, and the Fed is signaling that it could soon cut interest rates to try to get ahead of mounting risks in the United States.

But economists across the globe say central banks can no longer be sole saviors the next time a downturn hits. That reality is colliding with political constraints in the United States and Europe, where lawmakers may prove unable — or unwilling — to quickly roll out expensive stimulus packages.

“Fiscal policy has a much more active role to play, and it is not yet equipped to do so,” Olivier Blanchard, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist, said last month at a central banking forum in Sintra, Portugal, specifically referring to Europe.

When it comes to monetary policy, “surely there is not enough room to respond to even a run-of-the-mill recession,” he said.

Christine Lagarde, who has been nominated to succeed Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank and currently heads the International Monetary Fund, has warned that central banks are likely to be the main line of defense given fiscal constraints.

“High public debt and low interest rates have left many countries with limited policy room for maneuver,” Ms. Lagarde said in a June blog post. She added that in a downturn, nations would need to use their economic tools together, with “decisive monetary easing and fiscal stimulus wherever possible.”

Global economic growth has crept back after a deep recession, and as recently as early 2018 a coordinated international expansion was underway. But progress has shown cracks in recent months, with trade flows slumping and manufacturing indexes pulling back from Asia to Europe.

The Morgan Stanley economist Chetan Ahya estimates that if Mr. Trump’s trade war with China isn’t resolved and the administration follows through with its threats to increase tariffs, growth could fall enough that “we could wind up in a global recession in about three quarters.” Risks seem to have abated slightly after the recent Group of 20 meeting, where Mr. Trump suspended a tariff escalation and restarted trade talks with China.

But uncertainties persist. Those talks could crumble again, leading to additional import taxes. And beyond America’s trade wars, the threat of a disorderly British withdrawal from the European Union and a continuing slowdown in China pose further risks to international activity.

Those factors prompted Mr. Draghi to strongly signal in June that the central bank was planning to revive stimulus measures it had used during the eurozone debt crisis.

While Mr. Draghi insisted the bank still had “considerable headroom” to buy bonds as a way of pumping money into the economy, some analysts think he acted pre-emptively precisely because he knows the central bank’s capacity is finite. Better to use the bank’s limited resources now when they can still do some good.

In the United States, the Fed is also considering acting sooner rather than later as it tries to judge whether a rate cut is warranted. Emerging research suggests that moving quickly and decisively might be the central bank’s best defense.

While the Fed is in comparatively good shape because it has gotten rates off rock bottom — they’re at 2.25 to 2.5 percent — that leaves it just half as much room to cut borrowing costs as policymakers had back in 2007. In fact, the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, has started a yearlong review of just what its options are.

“Having low interest rates really challenges the existing tool kits of central banks,” Mr. Powell said during remarks in New York last month.

Fed officials say they are prepared to revive large-scale bond-buying programs to stoke economic activity when the next downturn comes. The central bank is also contemplating new policy approaches that would leave rates lower for a longer period after a downturn. Recent research suggests such policies would have had benefits — though in some cases small ones — if applied after the 2008 recession.

Japan offers a cautionary example that mere willingness to act doesn’t guarantee success. Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Bank of Japan, has pulled out all stops to reignite the country’s economy, cutting rates into negative territory and buying government debt and stocks in a bid to bolster markets and stoke confidence. The government has helped, spending readily to stimulate demand.

Despite all of that effort, inflation remains mired below Japan’s target, which is bad news since it increases the risk of outright deflation should growth weaken.

It is now unclear how much room Mr. Kuroda has for action should a deep downturn come, according to Makoto Hara, the author of a recent book on Japan’s central bank.

“Those taboo policies have become normal,” he said. “They’ve continued them until they became numb to them.”

Central banks in major economies are in their diminished positions largely because sustainable growth, inflation and interest rates have all fallen, trends that are attributable to long-running structural forces in the economy including aging populations and weakening productivity.

In the United States, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sees gross domestic product increases leveling off near 2 percent. The International Monetary Fund estimates that output could drift lower in emerging markets and advanced economies alike.

That has coincided with fiscal restraint across the globe, as governments try to rein in spending and avoid further bloating debt levels.

American politicians restrained government spending after the 2008 recession, even when unemployment remained high and growth was tepid. Recent tax cuts and spending increases, ushered in by Republican lawmakers, have increased the federal debt, but there does not appear to be a broader embrace of deficit spending underway, particularly as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

America’s budget deficit is on track to surpass $1 trillion this year, and some lawmakers are already looking for ways to cut, not add to, federal spending.

Central bank leaders have increasingly warned that their firepower will be limited without help from fiscal authorities.

“Monetary policy will continue to do its job no matter what happens to fiscal capacity,” Mr. Draghi said, just a few days after European leaders largely failed to set up a mechanism to jointly provide stimulus when needed. But aid from governments “would do the same job faster and with less side effects.”

Mr. Powell echoed that sentiment last month. “It’s not good to have monetary policy be the main game in town, let alone the only game in town,” he said.

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The civil service isn’t neutral. It shouldn’t be, it can’t be.

The civil service may be impartial, but it isn’t neutral.  Indeed, a world in which civil servants worked in a vacuum, without values, policy expertise or vision, couldn’t be the world that we live in.  Nor is it.  The civil service will remain broadly committed, whichever party holds office, to a core of policy aims that are unobjectionable, or ought to be.  These include maintaining a first-rate relationship with the United States – the “special relationship”, as it is sometimes, not uncontroversially, described.

Kim Darroch has in no way made that relationship more difficult by writing memos that are critical in some respects of the Trump administration.  It is the duty of our Ambassador to the United States to give Ministers and others his view, and it is his right to be able to do so in confidence.  As journalists, we rejoice in the Mail on Sunday getting hold of Darroch’s memos: they provide a cracking story.  But as citizens, with wider interests than journalistic ones, our take is that the leak is bad for Britain.  It will make politicians and civil servants alike less likely to tell the truth, as they see it, to both themselves and to each other.

It neither follows that all Darroch’s judgements are necessarily right, nor that the civil service’s instincts shouldn’t be challenged.  These are worth a long view.  Consider, for example, Michael Palliser – one of a series of Foreign Office civil servants who, during the run-up to British membership of the Commons Market, helped turn the department’s Eurosceptism into Euroenthusiasm.  Or Michael Quinlan, the civil service theoretician, at the Ministry of Defence, of nuclear deterrence.  Or Charles Farr, the former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who had a particular take on what policy should be towards non-violent extremism.

Examples are endless, and there are more of them since recently-retired senior civil servants have taken to Twitter.  Nicholas Macpherson, the former Treasury Permanent Secretary, likes the hashtag #soundmoney.  Simon Fraser, a counterpart at the Foreign Office, is critical of the Brexit project.  This takes us to the point.  The civil service worldview is multilateralist, pro-EU, pro-NATO.  There are worse causes to adopt.  But the referendum result has exposed a difference between the view of much of the machine and the take of a mass of voters.  Particular decisions have worsened this tension.  The civil service is responsible for none of them.

It was Theresa May, not the bureaucracy, who centralised Brexit policy, cut DexEU out of it, and made Olly Robbins, in effect, her personal negotiator with the EU.  It was also the Prime Minister who brought much of the culture of the Home Office into the heart of government.  We have nothing against Mark Sedwill, but senior parts of the civil service have become leaky on his watch: consider the recent briefing against Jeremy Corbyn, whose future was “openly discussed at an event attended by mandarins this month”.  It is the job of the rest of us to keep him out of Downing Street, not that of the civil service – let alone for mandarins to brief about it.

Which returns us to Darroch.  There is a suspicion that Sedwill, and not Darroch himself, was the real target of the leak.  The former is reportedly interested in the Washington post.  A new Prime Minister will be in place by the end of the month.  Changes at the top of the civil service are expected.  The leak looks designed to prepare the way for a replacement for Darroch who is more Trump-friendly than Sedwill.  But the disposition of Darroch’s replacement to the President is not the exam question, or shouldn’t be.

There is a precedent for sending a non-civil servant to Washington as ambassador: Peter Jay, Jim Callaghan’s son-in-law, was sent to Washington when the latter was Prime Minister.  However, the example is not encouraging.  Perhaps Prime Minister Johnson should scour the more junior civil service ranks, and send for one of those who, pro-Brexit Ministers tell us, have put in exemplary work preparing for No Deal if necessary, regardless of their own views.

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