Clean Brexit by Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons || REVIEW by Stuart Crank

  • August 16, 2018 12:41
  • Stuart Crank

Clean Brexit || REVIEW by Stuart Crank / @S_W_C__


As Britain’s exit from the EU, scheduled for March 2019, draws ever closer, the time for rhetoric is behind us and the need for level-headed and comprehensive analysis intensifies. With that in mind, the arrival of the fully updated paperback edition of Clean Brexit: Why Leaving the EU Still Makes Sense could not come at a more apt time.

Despite being written by two economists, Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons, the book reads surprisingly well. This warrants considerable praise, given the comprehensive nature of the discussion, in which no detail, acronym or intricacy is spared. The reader is rightly taken seriously. This new edition also comes complete with an updated foreword by Gisela Stuart, doyen of Labour’s common-sense wing, and a revised afterword by the high priest of Brexit himself, Jacob Rees-Mogg – giving this Brexit bible papal approval.

The authors’ conclusions have changed little since their original elaboration in the first edition last year. This is because, as the authors state, the essential realities and logic of Brexit remain the same now as they did a year ago, hence why leaving still makes sense. Specifically, that in order to be faithful to the referendum result and beneficial for the future, they argue that the UK must – MUST – uncouple from the main entities of the EU – namely, the single market and customs union. To avoid a messy future we need (as they put it) a ‘Clean Brexit’.

Halligan and Lyons maintain that there is no such thing as ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit, only Brexit or no Brexit. The soft/hard dichotomy is nonsense, conceived and propagated only by those who seek to dishonour the referendum result and bring about Brexit in name only.

‘Soft Brexit’ – the continued membership of the two main constructs of the EU, the single market and customs union – is not Brexit, they make clear. It would mean UK law remains under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, the continuation of multi-billion-pound contributions to the EU budget, the inability to maintain an independent trade policy and continued freedom of movement. ‘In sum, a betrayal of the referendum result.’ It would bind the UK to EU rules and regulations without allowing us a say. It would amount to vassalage.

Being outside the single market and customs union, meanwhile, isn’t ‘Hard Brexit’, it is Brexit. Indeed, ‘the repeated use of ‘Hard Brexit’ – which has become ubiquitous, used freely by the broadcast news media – makes leaving the EU seem like an extreme, ideological and damaging position.’ In truth, it is the only way to honour the main reasons why people voted to leave: to end freedom of movement, to cease large budget contributions to the EU and to strike trade agreements further afield – and the only way to ensure the UK can thrive post-Brexit.Cover clean brexit pb

The authors predicate their discussions on Brexit and beyond with a historical overview of the European project and Britain’s tetchy relation with it. This is well-trodden ground, and the authors do no more than succinctly reprise what we already know. Where they do break new ground, though, is their discussion of how the world has changed, and what this means for Britain post-Brexit. The EU, Halligan and Lyons argue, ‘was founded in a different era to the one we live in now’. Unprecedented geopolitical, economic, technological and logistical change over the past half century or so means that Europe, ‘once the world’s economic powerhouse … now accounts for a diminishing slice of the world economy’.

So much so that – whilst the UK will remain closely tied to Europe given our close proximity – ‘as the weight of global population, growth and raw economic power continues to shift eastwards, it is vital that the UK raises its sights from Europe, putting far more emphasis on commercial, economic, political relations with the rest of the world’. Echoing Churchill’s promise that, ‘if Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea’, for the authors, the essential logic of Brexit still holds true.

Halligan and Lyons bring greatly appreciated analysis and certitude to two issues that increasingly dominate the squabblings of the media commentariat: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and the Irish border.

They make clear that no-deal Brexit ‘simply means that we don’t strike a UK–EU FTA before March 2019’. This is far from a disaster, they reassure us. All it would mean is that we trade with the EU on WTO rules; rules which already facilitate the vast majority of all worldwide trade. (They are quick to remind us that most of the world’s biggest economies trade in enormous quantities without a FTA, and on WTO rules.) Although their vanity would have us think otherwise, trade doesn’t happen because politicians sign trade deals, and it certainly doesn’t cease when those deals aren’t signed.

Indeed, far from viewing it as a fatal cliff-edge, Halligan and Lyons argue that Britain should emphasise to the EU its willingness and preparedness to trade without a FTA, on WTO terms: ‘unless the EU sees that we are prepared not to sign a FTA, we will only be offered a bad one’. Here they are 100% right. If we look like a beggar, the EU will treat us like one. Even if Theresa May has changed her tune, no deal remains better than a bad deal.

This is also why the whole idea of a ‘people’s vote’ on the final deal is completely counterproductive. Those moved to call for a vote do so, honourably, as they don’t want the UK to be disadvantaged by the final deal. But by doing so they play right into the hands of the EU.

For, if there is a vote on the deal, the EU would have every incentive to make sure it is a bad one. And if we voted for said deal, the UK would no doubt end up in a more disadvantaged position than we are in currently; and if we voted it down, we would – well, god only knows what would happen next! Either way, the UK would find itself in a political and procedural nightmare. And the EU would have succeeded in making Brexit a disaster, discouraging the other dissatisfied member nations (of which there are many) from questioning their own membership.

Even though the UK would have no problem trading without a deal, a good FTA, however – one that caters to the UK’s service-dominated economy, that doesn’t impede our ability to sign other FTAs, or require payments for access to the single market – is still the most desired outcome.

And there is good reason to believe that the UK will get one, for most trade agreements involve haggling down tariffs and harmonising complex regulations. ‘The UK and EU, though, start with zero tariffs and identical rules.’ Meaning that much of the heavy lifting is already complete. Additionally, given the immense volume of trade that flows from Europe to the UK, and vice versa, there is enormous commercial pressure to secure as free a trading relationship as possible.

That said, the authors admit that ‘securing a deal becomes more complex once Britain begins to size up FTAs elsewhere’. Given our enthusiasm to seek free trade further afield, this does jeopardise the chances of securing a comprehensive trade deal with the EU by March 2019; and is why the UK should be prepared for a no-deal scenario.

But the biggest thing standing in the way of securing an UK–EU FTA, as we know, is not economics, but politics. ‘There is a strong political imperative for the UK to be seen not to benefit from Brexit, so as to avoid encouraging populist parties in nations such as France, Italy and Greece to push harder for their own EU membership referenda.’ If Brexit is a success then it could spell the end of the EU project, a possibility the EU is all too aware of – and hence their incentive to ensure that Britain does not succeed. This, again, is why the UK should prepared and willing to trade under WTO rules.

As for the Irish border, since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement the 310-mile border separating the Republic from Northern Ireland has been a border in name only. British and Irish membership of the EU undoubtedly played a big role in facilitating the signing of the agreement. Many have warned, however, that Brexit necessitates a hard border between North and South – something no one wants to see. For, if we leave the single market, a hard border would need to be in place to put in place to stop the Irish border becoming a back door for immigration into the UK. Likewise, if we leave the customs union we must have a hard border to enforce customs checks on goods. This has emboldened many leading figures (all of whom conveniently voted to remain) to propose that the UK must remain inside the/a single market and/or customs union, in order to preserve the hard-won peace settlement.

As we have seen, the authors emphatically reject continued UK membership of the single market and customs union, both in principle and practice. But, they also don’t want to see the hard border put in place – so how do they reconcile the two?

Concerning freedom of movement, the authors argue that ‘all travel from the Republic to the UK mainland and EU is, for obvious reasons, by boat or plane’. ‘As such, border checks can be carried out electronically, with staff intervention where required, before boats sail and planes take off.’ Therefore, so long as proper information sharing is conducted there needn’t be a hard border. Likewise, so long as there is significant investment in the relevant technology, Lyons and Halligan state that there is no reason why trade between Ireland and the UK cannot be frictionless, even outside of the customs union. ‘As long as the UK invests heavily in new technology and border staff, there is no reason why goods and people should not continue to move freely.’

Halligan and Lyons also outline the policies that a post-Brexit Britain should prioritise. These include a large-scale house building program; a reduction and simplification of the UK tax regime; increased focus on digital and technical skills; large scale infrastructure spending, particularly in the North; accelerated fiscal devolution; and sizeable welfare reform, to name but a few. These suggestions are radical, and would do a lot to address the systemic problems the UK faces. Given the current inertia party politics, however, these policies are unlikely to find implementation.

But these policies are more than just wishful thinking; indeed, they strike at the heart of why people voted to leave the EU. People voted to ‘Take Back Control’: to bring political authority and accountability closer to home, so that, as a country, each and every British man and woman is empowered with more say at the ballot box. And so that we don’t have to pay homage to our EU masters every time we want to spend our own money, pass our own laws or trade our goods.

People did not vote for Brexit believing that all their woes would disappear overnight. Brexit is not – and never has been – a panacea. It has always been a means to an end. A means of creating a fairer, safer, less bureaucratic, less centralised, more dynamic and prosperous Britain.

So it may be easy to scoff at Halligan and Lyons’ ideas and recommendations for post-Brexit Britain. But very soon, Britain will have left the EU (that much is certain). And when have, we, the British people, will be the only pilots at the helm – once more the masters of our own destiny, beholden to no one but ourselves – so we better have a destination in mind. We need to think hard and fast about what kind of country we want after Brexit, and this book is as good a place as any to start.

A comprehensive and scholarly appraisal of the decision taken by the British people to leave the EU, now over two years ago is unfortunately, seemingly, anathema to those tasked with its implementation. This book is nothing less than a manifesto for optimism and reason in a political climate fraught with whinging and dogmatism, and one that should be read widely if we are to spare ourselves from the fatal quagmire that would ensue if the UK was to decide upon anything other than a ‘Clean Brexit’.


Click here: Clean Brexit by Liam Halligan / @LiamHalligan and Gerard Lyons / @DrGerardLyons

Published: 16 AUGUST 2018


When football considered a ban on players smoking - but only after 11am on match days!

  • August 15, 2018 14:38
  • Jon Henderson

Smoking wasn't just a way of life for the majority of professional players in the 1940s and '50s, it helped some of the game's stars make a few extra quid on the side - even if they didn't smoke themselves.


Compiling a list of ten leading footballers who smoke regularly would be a great deal harder than it would have been either side of the Second World War. In those days, a more revealing list would have been of ten top players who didn’t.

In the 1940s and '50s the dangers of smoking were only just beginning to be understood and J.L. 'Jack' Jones, captain of the Spurs side who won the FA Cup in 1901, was well ahead of his time in warning against tobacco in his book Association Football. Jones was more tolerant of alcohol, writing that beer was ‘so much a recognised article of diet that it would be impossible or at least unwise to forbid it’.

At halftime in the 1950 Cup Final Denis Compton, the England cricketer and Arsenal footballer, even quaffed a fortifying brandy.

Jones was markedly less sparing on the matter of smoking. He said that he could not ‘find words strong enough to express my disapproval’ of a practice that ‘once started may lead to grave disasters’. But it was many years before anyone took much notice. Half a century later, in 1957, a ban was mooted – after 11am on match days.

In fact clubs regularly handed out cigarettes as a Christmas present to their players - and it wouldn't do if a player felt he wasn't getting his fair share.

Bill Leivers, who went on to become a star player for Manchester City (1953-64), remembers that it was being short-rationed in a Yuletide handout that contributed to his leaving his first club.

Each December a director at Chesterfield gave cigarettes to the players, 50 to each of the first team and 20 to each of the others. 

‘Well, I’d been in the first team until just before Christmas 1952 when I got injured,’ Leivers says, ‘and when the manager, Teddy Davison, came to hand out the cigarettes he gave me 20. I had never smoked a fag in my life and had no intention of doing so, but my dad did and in the past I’d given them to him.’

When Leivers failed in his protest that he deserved 50 because being injured was the only reason he was not in the first team he said something that he has regretted ever since.

‘Teddy Davison was a lovely little chap,’ he says, ‘but I told him, “You can stick those cigarettes right up your arse – and you can put me on the transfer list at the same time.”

‘And that’s how I came to leave Chesterfield – over a few cigarettes.’

For some of the top players advertising cigarettes was considered a perfectly acceptable way of earning a little extra.

Johnny Paton, who played for Chelsea in the late 1940s, recalls an incident involving Tommy Lawton. ‘Although Tommy was only on £10 a week,' Paton says, 'he came in one day and threw 400 Players cigarettes on the table: “There you are lads, help yourselves.”

‘Tommy was advertising them. He didn’t smoke at all – but there was a picture of him with a cigarette in his hand. Other big players were doing the same sort of thing to earn money on the side. I mean how did Stanley Matthews get his hotel at Blackpool? He didn’t get that out of his wages.’

Although Matthews was also a devoted non-smoker, he appeared in one ad alongside the words: 'It wasn't until I changed to Craven "A" that I learnt what smooth smoking meant.'


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.


Veterans’ verdict: our generation would adjust far better to today’s game than the modern player would to when we played

  • August 13, 2018 17:26
  • Jon Henderson

Stars of the 1950s such as Tottenham’s Cliff Jones and Peter McParland of Aston Villa are in no doubt that they and their contemporaries would do just as well if they were playing now.


One forum where old pros can savour a little of the adulation the modern player does and air their views pubicly on changes in the game is the corporate box, that essential addition to the twenty-first-century stadium.

As the star hosts in these boxes on match days the veterans mingle with champagne-fuelled clientele eager to ask questions.

Cliff Jones says not only does he enjoy doing this but he gets paid more than he did when he played for Tottenham from 1958-68. And the question he is asked more than any other is how he thinks he would have fared in today’s game. His reply is that the more relevant question would be: how would the modern footballer have done in the time he, Jones, played?

He says: ‘I think players of my period would adjust far better to the modern game than today’s modern footballers would to the game of yesteryear when it was much more physical.

‘The game may be quicker today, but when I played the ball went forward quicker. You watch Barcelona today. Sometimes they pass right across the midfield, 20 or 30 passes, and they’re still in the midfield.’

Terry Allcock, arguably the deadliest striker Norwich City have ever had during his 11 years (1958-69) at the club, has a similar story. ‘These days,’ he says, ‘I still host the match sponsors at Carrow Road. I look after 20, 25 people and many of them say to me, “Do you think you could play in today’s game?” I say, “I’m sure I could because I had two good feet, I could head the ball and I could score goals for fun, really.”

‘And then I say that they couldn’t have played with us because we were too physical.’

Alex Dawson sees in the modern game the same possibilities that existed for him when he started out for Manchester United in the 1950s: ‘In one respect I wouldn’t really fit in today because the game’s played at a much faster pace. On the other hand what I did was score goals and I think if you’ve got that ability it doesn’t matter which era you play in you’ll always be successful.’

Like Dawson, Peter McParland, an ace scorer for Aston Villa (1952-62), was an attacking forward who sees even greater scope in the modern game for his style of play than existed in his day. ‘I’d fancy playing against lots of the defenders in England now,’ he says, ‘because they give you space. I liked a wee bit of space to get a smack at it, get in and score a goal.

‘If you gave me space I was always capable of eating it up and getting something out of it. And that’s happening now in the game in the goalmouth and my job was to be in there getting touches and that.’

What McParland says he would not enjoy about playing today is ‘all the shady stuff that they do, pull your shirt and all that, which is absolutely outrageous as far as I’m concerned.

‘And you have to put up with it otherwise you’d probably be off for hitting people.

‘During my career you could probably count on one hand the number of times my shirt was pulled. Nobody pulled your shirt and it’s annoying to watch that sort of stuff.

‘When someone came to mark you tight for a corner kick we didn’t pull each other and wrestle with each other and all that because the referee would have given a penalty. Now it’s a penalty only once in a blue moon.

‘I think they’ve got to look at that now. The managers don’t care now if they’re doing it because they’re getting away with it. If they didn’t the manager would have to say, “Hey, you’ve got to stop pulling shirts and dragging fellas down in the penalty area”.’

Howard Riley, an artful winger for Leicester City (1955-65), speaks for ‘most of my generation’. He reckons ‘we’d have been OK playing the modern game. We’d have adapted. As long as players have got the skills and the speed and the awareness – that’s what it’s about.’


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon pubished by Biteback Publishing. 


Eastham's story: from football star to (highly successful) cork salesman - and back again

  • August 10, 2018 12:18
  • Jon Henderson

In 1960 George Eastham walked out on Newcastle United after more than 100 first-team appearances in four years. His action, which led eventually to a move to Arsenal, would change the transfer market for ever.


‘When you think about it,’ George Eastham says, ‘it was a silly sort of situation. All I was looking for was a job in the afternoons because footballers did nothing in those days. You finished at lunchtime and then the rest of the day you became a good snooker player or whatever, a good golfer – but you didn’t have anything to do.’

Eastham was approaching his twenty-fourth birthday. His wedding was coming up. It struck him that rather than potting snooker balls all afternoon it would make more sense to find a second job and save some money.

‘In those days, when you married they gave you a club house to reside in, you paid your rent and that was how it worked. There was no buying your own house because you couldn’t afford it.’

The house he had been given was on the shabby side. If he could earn a little more he might be able to do something about it.

‘But I couldn’t get a job and I couldn’t come to any agreement with Newcastle,’ he says. ‘They told me, “Oh, we’ll get you a job, no problem, no problem.” But nobody ever did anything.’

So one day he told them: ‘I’m off to London to find a work.’

In London he went to see Ernie Clay, an army friend of his father’s, who had a firm in Reigate, Surrey. Thanks to Clay, later the chairman of Fulham football club, Eastham started work as a cork salesman. His career as a footballer was placed on hold because Newcastle had withheld his registration.

The club were entitled to do this under football’s retain-and-transfer rule – aka the slavery rule – despite Eastham’s contract with them having come to an end. What is more, in accordance with the rule, Newcastle stopped paying him and refused to release him to play for anyone else.

The upside for Eastham was that everyone wanted to buy cork off the man whose photograph and story were all over the front pages. ‘Everywhere I went was an open door,’ Eastham says, ‘nobody said they didn’t want to see me because I was in the newspapers. So I sold a bit of cork and I was getting more money selling it than I was playing football.’

Eastham hung on for seven months before Newcastle relented in October 1960 and allowed his transfer to Arsenal. For the moment, this ended one of the most acrimonious ‘moving on’ stories in English professional football.

Eastham repaid Arsenal with six productive years after starting off true to form: two goals on his debut and an early skirmish over his wages now there was no upper limit. In 1966 he would be picked for England's World Cup finals squad but did not get a game.

He fondly remembers his Highbury days – ‘I did well at Arsenal,’ he says. ‘It was a good club for me’ – and evidently the fans liked him, too. An approving profile on the Arsenal website says that Eastham was ‘blessed with a left foot which wouldn’t have looked out of place on the end of Liam Brady’s leg’.

He is touched when I tell him this: ‘Well, that’s good enough for me.’

Something else was happening in the autumn of 1960. Professional footballers generally were on the march and their leader, Jimmy Hill, would soon threaten the strike that ended the maximum wage.

Emboldened by their victory on pay, the Professional Footballers Association resolved to carry on and remove the scourge of the slavery rule.

‘Newcastle were probably hoping that after I eventually signed for Arsenal the dispute over the retain-and-transfer system would fall away,’ Eastham says. ‘But the PFA were looking to me to be the man to take the fight forward, to bring an end to the system.

‘They were coming to the end of their resources – they weren’t a big PFA in those days, they were a small PFA, the money wasn’t coming in like it does now – but they offered to pay my expenses if I carried on.

‘I said, “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s go the whole hog.” I wasn’t happy with the way things had gone with my transfer. So the case went to High Court and that broke the retain-and-transfer system.’

It was an historic triumph that could hardly have been concluded by a more appropriate figure. The judge appointed to try the case in 1963 was Mr Justice Wilberforce, whose great-great-grandfather, William Wilberforce, led the movement that resulted in the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

It seems almost too neat to be a mere coincidence that 156 years on Richard Wilberforce would be the one to abolish football’s so-called slavery rule.

Little could Richard Wilberforce or anyone else have known that his landmark decision, even though loudly hailed at the time, would eventually transform the game by quite such a multiple.


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.


There were more knives and forks in front of me than we’d got in our house

  • August 08, 2018 11:36
  • Jon Henderson

Alec Jackson made several debuts on 6th November 1954: one was travelling by train, another was having lunch at the Dorchester – and then there was his first game for West Bromwich Albion in English football’s top division.


For many of the young men whose football careers started either side of the Second World War, their first railway journeys as professional footballers were also the first time they had left the localities in which they grew up. The sense of departure must have been as keen as that of an astronaut being fired into space.

Such a man is Alec Jackson. Had he not become a professional footballer Jackson might never have travelled by train for more than a few miles from his home in Tipton in the West Midlands, where he was born in 1937.

Jackson still lives in Tipton. His father was a factory worker and ‘my mum was just a mum’. Jackson himself was educated in Tipton and worked in the town as a machinist for the engineering firm W.G. Allen.

He tells how he was discovered playing for the St John’s Church team at Prince’s End in Tipton. ‘I never got any proper coaching when I was young,’ he says. ‘After we’d seen how the top players did it, we’d go down the fields and we’d have a go at it.

He says he did go to train briefly at Walsall when that club showed an interest in him. Apart from this, the furthest he had ever been until West Bromwich Albion spotted him was Great Bridge, a village just down the road but still within Tipton.

Once signed as a professional as a 17-year-old in September 1954 Jackson’s progress in speeding past some of the Football League’s best fullbacks was rapid. Two months later he boarded a train to London to make his First Division debut for Albion against Charlton Athletic. ‘I couldn’t believe what was happening to me,’ he says. ‘It was unreal, putting me out of contact with the life I’d been used to. A new world hit me.’

He says that at times he found it hard to cope with being so suddenly thrust into the spotlight of professional football. ‘But my football got me out of trouble.’

The journey to London for the Charlton game started when Len Millard, the West Brom captain, picked him up at Great Bridge. When they arrived at Birmingham station a crowd of supporters travelling to the match spotted them.

Jackson reckons he was only five feet tall – he grew to about five six – and being unknown to most of the fans he was probably mistaken for Millard’s son. When they found out he was in fact a player they all crowded around wanting his autograph.

On the train an incident revealed ‘how illiterate I was in terms of my new surroundings’.

One of his new teammates went to buy a round of teas and coffees. Jackson was used to drinking out of a big mug at home and when the teammate called out, ‘How many sugars do you want, Jacko?’, he replied, ‘Oh, put me about six in.’

The coffee cups were only this big, he says, holding the tips of his thumb and index finger three inches apart, and whoever it was shouted back: ‘Where the hell do you think you’re going to put these six lumps then?’

When in London, the team went by coach to a hotel for lunch. ‘I’d never seen anything like it. It was just across the road from…. What do they call that park? That’s it, Hyde Park.

‘It was the Dorchester Hotel.’

When the players sat down for the meal Jackson had a moment of panic. ‘There were more knives and forks in front of me than we’d got in our house.’

Jim Sanders, the goalkeeper and a senior member of the team, came to his rescue. He put his hand on Jackson’s shoulder and said: ‘I’ll sit right across from you and whichever tool you’ve got to use I’ll give you the nod.’

‘So every time I went for one he’d either shake or nod his head.’

Not long afterwards Jackson was running onto the pitch to make his debut for West Brom in English football’s top divison. And his impact could hardly have been more immediate. He scored within three minutes against Charlton to set up a 3-1 victory. ‘All I can remember about the goal was that once I’d knocked the ball in they couldn’t catch me,’ he says.


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon pubished by Biteback Publishing.