What’s behind the sudden seeming determination to improve relations with the EU?

In the space of 24 hours I have read one article about a cross-party meeting on limiting Brexit damage and another about Rishi Sunak wanting to “rebuild UK’s relations with the EU”.

Why now, all of a sudden?

Bloomberg says: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

I don’t buy it.

Surely we heard about the invasion 12 months ago? Took a long time thinking about it then…

Maybe it’s because the IEA cell (Truss, Kwarteng, Raab, Braverman, Javid, Sharp) are self-destructing so fast he now feels strong enough to move?

But I think it’s something else…

I think it is this:


Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and – crucially – the EU’s response to it.

Basically, Biden is going to throw $369Bn of tax breaks at US Green Tech AND whack up huge barriers to overseas competitors.

“That’s not fair!” Tough.

The EU’s response (finally) appears to be:

A. massive de-regulation to speed up development of Green Tech;

B. changes to state aid rules to permit huge tax breaks / subsidies / investment;

C. skills training;

D. trade deals: Australia, New Zealand, Mexico.

Obviously the EU’s response is aimed squarely at Biden’s policy – I doubt if little UK even crossed their minds – but at a stroke it removes the one, pitifully slim, silver lining on the Brexit cumulonimbus.

“Nimble regulation, changes to state aid, new trade deals” Familiar?

Yup: the EU have snatched away the one Brexit straw we were still clutching at.

It also leaves Starmer’s strategy for “making Brexit work” in pieces on his Islington floor: it was based around the UK stealing a march on the EU & US in Green Tech.


Maybe Brexit deregulation and state aid relaxations WOULD have given us an edge in a rapidly-developing field, but everything has changed now … and suddenly.

The two sleeping giants have woken up and are about to crush us – probably without even noticing.

I reckon this is why the tectonic plates of Brexit policy are suddenly starting to shift.

The very last glimmer of a possible Brexit upside vanished last week when the EU responded to the Biden plan.

The only bright side for Sunak is it is much, much worse for Starmer.


Originally tweeted by Jim Grace (@mac_puck) on 12/02/2023.