MPs vote through Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal
Academic Professor Matthew Goodwin has poured cold water on any hopes the Prime Minister might have of a landmark trade deal with the United States in the near future. The University of Kent Professor further warned the Conservative Party it was increasingly out of step with the British public, while anticipating more “turbulence” in the years to come.
The Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, whose new book, Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics, is published at the end of the month, was speaking before MPs overwhelmingly ratified Mr Sunak’s Stormont Brake, the aspect of his Windsor Framework plan which is intended to provide Northern Ireland with a means for vetoing EU laws, by 515 votes to 29.
The situation remains problematic however, given the Democratic Unionist Party’s staunch opposition as a result of their concerns about the role the European Court of Justice potentially still has in settling disputes.
As a result, DUP members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are refusing to legislate in a power-sharing legislature, with the result that the region currently has no devolved government, nor any prospect of getting one in the near future.
Prof Goodwin was doubtful about whether the party’s opposition will make any major difference, in the short term at least.
However, he nevertheless foresaw problems ahead, emphasising that despite Joe Biden’s planned visit to Northern Ireland next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday agreement, Mr Sunak’s proposals did not offer a universal solution.
Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden (Image: GETTY)
Former PM Boris Johnson was one of just 29 MPs to oppose the Stormont Brake (Image: Getty)
Prof Goodwin told Express.co.uk: “I don’t think there’s going to be an American free trade and a free trade deal with America anytime soon.
“But what we are seeing is a repositioning of the country away from obviously the EU towards other global powers.”
Mr Sunak was “instinctively pro-global”, wanting the UK to forge links with areas of the world which were growing at a much faster rate than the European Union, Prof Goodwin, hence the bid to join the powerful Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
He continued: “That’s a fair enough strategy – the long-term repositioning is important.
“But it means a completely different immigration policy, which we’re now beginning to see the full effects of, it is probably going to mean much more dramatic deregulation of services and the economy than people want and I think it’s going to increasingly transform Britain into a very sort of hyper-globalised, free trade-oriented country.
“And as we know that that tends to have pretty negative effects on domestic workers.
“The evidence on how globalisation has smashed workers has not been good.
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Rishi Sunak published in California with Joe Biden earlier this year (Image: Getty)
More than 60 percent of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, including Dominic Raab, were privately educated (Image: Getty)
“Wages have been lowered, working conditions have deteriorated, communities have become weaker – globalisation has had some really profoundly negative economic and social effects.”
In the course of his book, Prof Goodwin argues Mr Sunak remains very much a figure of the establishment, pointing out that more than 60 percent of his cabinet having gone to private schools and almost half Oxbridge graduates.
However, he said: “There are a large number of voters in this country that do not feel, for good reason, that their values are reflected in our political class, that our political and media class give them a sufficient voice in the national conversation and in the institutions.
“And they increasingly feel that they’re looked down upon as a morally inferior group in society compared to elite graduates and minorities.
“So if you are from the working class, if you have not gone to university or if you hold more traditionalist values on issues like Brexit, immigration, identity, Britishness, you are simply not in the national conversation to the extent that the university educated minority are.”
This applied not just to politics and the BBC, but also across creative Industries, cultural institutions and universities, Prof Goodwin suggested.
He added: “That really helps to explain why we’ve had these incredibly turbulent events of the last decade.
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“We’ve had the rise of populism, we’ve had the rise of Brexit we’ve had the rise of Boris Johnson.
“All of that, all of those revolts are symptoms of the way in which many people simply do not feel that they are represented by left or right and they are trying to push through a different kind of politics, which better reflects their values, which gives them a sense of voice in the conversation, and which doesn’t leave them feeling as though they’re being overlooked in favour of other groups in British society.
Looking ahead in the context of Mr Sunak’s apparent breakthrough, Prof Goodwin said: “The Brexit waters have calmed, but I actually think the ongoing turbulence in British politics will stay with us for a long time to come.
“I think we’re in a pause, we’re in a break between this remarkably turbulent decade of the 2010s and what is likely to follow in a few years.
“I don’t think most voters have really appreciated just the scale of change that’s been introduced into the country.
“I don’t think they realise how quickly Britain will be transformed in the years ahead and I think that that’s going to cause some pretty significant political shocks.”
Matthew Goodwin is the author of Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics, which is published by Penguin on March 30. Available to pre-order here.