Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Unfinished Business of Brexit


It's time to well and truly close a chapter and consolidate those newfound freedoms. Post-Brexit Britain needs a plan, it needs a rallying cry, and the anxiety of Britain's place in the world needs to end. Managed decline or nostalgia-driven fantasies of 'Global Britain', dictates the naysayers charter. There are no solutions, they claim.

Well there are solutions, and we're seeing attempts to continue the long march to getting Brexit done stymied time after time. Yes, Britain has left the European Union and there is a trade deal, but on taking control of borders, on the revoking the remnants of EU law, the government has been slow to act. In fact, it has demurred. Furthermore, existing legislation, namely Section 29 of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 makes a general modification to all existing law, so far as to comply with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Despite the initial optimism of the Windsor Framework back in early 2023, Northern Ireland is still denied parity to the rest of the United Kingdom. Despite some progress on reducing the friction in the flow of goods, EU oversight, and the application of EU laws in Northern Ireland - a constituent part of our United Kingdom - there still remains European Union jurisdiction within Northern Ireland. It would hence be inaccurate to view Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, as a whole, to be a sovereign nation, able to make decisions on a sovereign basis. The Stormont Brake is a significant step forward, and we applaud this. Still, more needs to be done to restore Northern Ireland's place as a vital constituent member of the United Kingdom, because if we ignore one part of the United Kingdom, we ignore all parts of the United Kingdom.

This is a reminder that unity is strength, Northern Ireland should be given parity with England, Scotland, and Wales - it is the letter of the law. The Bruges Group will lead the way in opposing any and all attempts to create a border in the Irish Sea.

Our plan is for the UK to have the necessary border fixtures while retaining Good Friday Agreement/Belfast Agreement requirement not to have security installations. Free movement is maintained on the UK side. If the EU side wishes to create border posts, that is their choice.

More than maintaining the basic tenets of the functioning union that makes up this country, The Bruges Group seeks solutions to find growth and success for the United Kingdom at every corner. Northern Ireland's new Stormont Brake will further enable the abrogation of existing and future EU law to apply to the whole United Kingdom.

We will liberate Britain's finance industry, including private equity, asset management, and insurance from EU solvency requirements. British solvency funds (the amount of capital insurers and other finance had to hold as reserve money in case of difficulties) could be invested into crucial infrastructure. We need to make rules to ensure this solvency capital can only go into British projects, to support the great rejuvenation effort. More than just supporting infrastructure though, London's role as a finance hub must be supported, strengthened, and consolidated. The City of London must remain the clearing house of the world and its position must remain undisputed. However, we must also level-up in all sectors of industry, and that includes finance.

Growth is nothing without levelling up, and a well and truly levelled-up country is one with an economy supported by all its major cities, acting like nodes in the great economic transformation. To level-up finance, government action must be taken to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in other parts of the UK. The establishment of a second stock exchange in another major city, such as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Northampton, or Leeds, in order to promote the listing of British SMEs, will give these businesses more exposure and access to capital, and promoting levelling up.

We need to be more ambitious than what's already being done. With the EU's state aid rules repealed, the role of the UK Infrastructure Bank should also be reformed to go beyond giving loans to local governments for meeting net zero targets, and towards supporting British companies in building infrastructure both at home and abroad.

Defence is a topic that has lately controversial, and for good reason. Chronic underinvestment in defence has brought our nation's vulnerable position to the forefront. A lack of innovation and an insubstantial international presence has undermined Britain's position in the world since the winding down of Britain's defences in the Far East some 50 years ago, the geopolitical implications of which we are still dealing with today. Britain should exit EU defence arrangement and focus on the main alliance that matters and has always mattered: NATO. The Bruges Group supports an enhanced British defence sector: using British-built defence equipment, the UK should use its freedom from the Common Security and Defence Policy to begin negotiations to enter its own defence agreements with vital port nations/cities internationally, including ports with geopolitical importance, using the Royal Navy's position of strength as a shield. British companies should use their strength in corporate governance to help set up and lead the respective port authorities.

Fishing was a boiling point during the Brexit negotiations. The final Trade and Cooperation Agreement gave the UK some crucial wins, such as the EU fleet being required to cede a significant chunk of its quota, some 25%. The negotiation, however, could've brought it a lot farther. According to then-Minister for Fisheries, the Rt. Hon. George Eustice, "The tactical error on fisheries is that we left it too late. I actually wanted to move first in June 2020 and make a sensible offer around a multi annual 5 year agreement where quota shares to the UK increased towards something fairer and we offered access in return but would withhold access unless we got the share we needed."

Technological Freedom will be the new frontier in which we will fight. Dreams of a new Britain forged in the "white heat of technology" of Harold Wilson's era may not have come to fruition, but in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where Artificial Intelligence and new technologies are developing by the year, Britain must keep up. Britain must take stock. Britain must progress. The United Kingdom is on its way to becoming a tech hub, and its new Brexit freedoms shall bring it one step further, if done right. The EU's Digital Services Act, which poses immense burdens on digital service providers, provides the UK with a unique opportunity to attract major players in big tech. With the EU requiring tech firms to disclose algorithms for both moderation and recommender systems, the UK could reform the scope of the Online Safety Bill - which could be a contrasting legislation - to add protections for tech firms' algorithms to ensure a free market and a fair and level playing field, while still maintaining clauses against child abuse and obliging firms to take action against grooming.

These are just some proposals for giving Britons a brighter future. The march towards progress continues, and the mission to get Brexit done and dusted never ends. 

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Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames