£1.7 bn for the Brussels Begging Bowl

 

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£1.7 bn for the Brussels Begging Bowl

It is an outrage that Brussels has ambushed the British Prime Minister with an unexpected demand for an extra £1.7 billion — based on their re-assessment of Britain’s economic growth.  And David Cameron is not a man to trust on the issue.  He should just say NO.

(You can’t trust the Tories in Brussels either.  Last week on the vote to approve the new European Commission, they split three ways — for, against and abstain.  Needless to say, UKIP MEPs all voted against).

In this country we don’t allow HMRC to come back retrospectively and change the rules, and demand money from previous years.  We can’t accept Brussels doing that either.

What this amounts to is a deliberate policy of punishing success (the UK), and rewarding failure.  Apparently France will receive nearly £800m.  But even in its own terms, this EU initiative isn’t working.  It’s taking money from Greece, which is nearly bust, and giving it to Germany, which was doing relatively well until recently.

Of course we in UKIP don’t want to be in the EU’s inward-looking, protectionist club in the first place. We don’t want to be giving Brussels £10 billion net a year to start with, never mind the extra £1.7 billion.  We don’t want British industry burdened by the dead hand of Brussels regulation, estimated by some to be ten times the direct budget contributions.  We want Britain to be free to make its own trade deals with the world.  We want to focus on growing markets in the Americas and Asia, not on a declining Europe.

So we are adamantly opposed to this extra impost, at a time when real wages in the UK are stagnant and public services are desperate for funds.

The timing of the demand, just weeks ahead of the Rochester by-election where UKIP is leading the Tories in opinion polls, has suggested to some that there might be dirty work at the crossroads.  One suggestion: maybe Brussels thinks (wrongly in our view) that a success for UKIP will lead to a Labour Prime Minister, who would not agree to an EU referendum.  So was the timing deliberately designed to help UKIP in Rochester?

Or maybe they want to help Cameron and block UKIP.  Will they climb down a couple of days before polling day, so that Cameron can come back from Brussels waving a piece of paper and declaring “Peace in our Time”?  We’ll see.  Cameron insists he won’t pay on December 1st.  But December 2nd?  One thing’s for sure: he won’t pay before the Rochester by-election on November 20th!

 

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Is David Cameron making a fool of himself?

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Can’t Pay: Won’t Pay

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Is David Cameron making a fool of himself? He reacted to Brussels’ sudden demand for £1.7 billion (yes, that’s Billion with a “B”, not million with an “M”) with apoplectic outrage.  It was wrong.  It was unacceptable.  He absolutely refused to pay by December 1st (the date the money is said to be due).  He said it several times.  Each time: “I refuse to pay on December 1st“.  He repeated this rather curious qualification yesterday in the House of Commons.

His response begs the question “So what about December 2nd?”.  The problem is paying the money at all, not whether we pay today or tomorrow.

In a sense, he has only himself to blame.  I understand that negotiations on a new system of assessing member-states’ GDPs were under way at the end of the last Labour administration in 2010 – but were signed off after the General Election, by George Osborne as the new Chancellor.  So from Brussels’ point of view, everything is in order.  The new assessment method is properly agreed, and if that increases the UK’s liability, so be it.  Surely those pesky Anglo-Saxons should be gratified to find they’ve been doing even better than they thought?

From a UK perspective, however, it looks like daylight robbery.  And it is.  We are already paying a net £10 billion a year for the dubious privilege of membership of the EU, and that figure is rapidly increasing.  Yet EU membership arguably offers no net benefits to the UK.  What about trade, you ask?  Well the three largest external exporters into the EU are China, Russia and the USA.  Obviously none of these is an EU member-state, and currently none has any special trade agreement with the EU (though the Transatlantic Trade Agreement is under negotiation).  If they can export to the EU so successfully, how can it be argued that the UK could not?

Then again, the UK is both the EU’s largest customer (EU less UK, that is), and the EU’s largest net customer.  They just can’t afford to restrict trade with the UK, whether we’re in the EU or not.

Now, however, we read that Cameron is softening his attitude, and getting ready to pay up.  We in UKIP always said he would.  The surprise is that he’s started to climb down even before the Rochester by-election on November 20th.  And the reason for the change of heart?  According to the Daily Mail Brussels has said that if the UK fails to pay, then the British rebate will be under threat.

This is surely the most incompetent threat in the whole sordid history of blackmail (for blackmail it certainly is).  The fact is that rebate or not, the UK remains a net contributor (as well as a net customer) of the EU.  So there can be no meaningful threat that Brussels will withhold money from us.  But there is a powerful and credible threat (if Cameron had the back-bone to use it) that we could withhold money from them.

In terms of budget contributions, and in terms of trade, Britain matters far more to Brussels than Brussels matters to Britain.  It’s time to start showing a little self-confidence, and exercising a little clout.

One good thing at least arises from this sorry mess.  Finally Cameron’s confidence that he can succeed in renegotiating our EU membership has taken a knock.  Maybe he’s starting to engage with reality at last.

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Bob Neill’s EU Referendum Bill

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Bob Neill clearly has the enthusiastic support of his Tory colleagues

Business for Britain is a great think-tank and campaigning organisation.  Recently they’ve been writing to businesses asking them to sign up to support Bob Neill’s EU Referendum Bill.  This is the Bill that would make it mandatory to have an EU Referendum in 2017.

Of course UKIP wants an EU Referendum, so we’d support Bob Neill’s Bill, wouldn’t we?  No.  I don’t think we can.  Here’s why.

First of all, David Cameron isn’t serious about leaving the EU.  He’s just trying to get his activists and back-benchers off his back.  He’s trying to kick the EU issue into the long grass until after the General Election.  This isn’t about Brexit.  It’s merely a cynical ploy to try to keep an increasingly desperate Tory Prime Minister in Office.  That’s not something that UKIP wants to support.

And Bob Neill’s Bill is another cynical ploy to add an air of spurious credibility to the original referendum ploy.  It’s meaningless, since if the Tories fail to win next year’s General Election, a future government can simply repeal it.  No government can bind its successor.

So supporting Bob Neill’s Bill is simply offering a helping hand to David Cameron.  The only Referendum Bill that UKIP should support is one that gives us a firm commitment (no IFs and BUTs) to a straightforward In/Out Referendum on a robust and rapid timescale.  I’ll vote for that any time.

 

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Business supports Britain’s EU membership …. …..doesn’t it?

An INEOS plant. The boss says there’ll be no chemicals industry in Europe in ten years.

An INEOS plant. The boss says there’ll be no chemicals industry in Europe in ten years.

Whenever we get into a debate about EU membership, the euro-luvvies will come up with the assertion that all of British business, and all the British businesses groups like the CBI and BCC, support EU membership.  Heads of large companies, especially auto companies, insist that if Britain leaves the EU, jobs and investment will be under threat, and businesses will move out of the UK and into remaining EU member-states.  These guys must know the score, surely?  They must be right?  Well maybe not.

Let’s take the auto companies head-on.  That’s people like Carlos Ghosn of Nissan – a big wheel in the auto businesses.  He says that future investment would be under threat if Britainleft the EU.  But then he was saying exactly the same fifteen years ago — but then it was “If Britain doesn’t join the €uro”.  That was a vast error of judgement, and it doesn’t give us any confidence in his judgement in these matters.  And given Nissan’s close links with Renault, we have to recognise a conflict of interests.  Does Ghosn speak for Nissan?  Or for President Fançois Hollande?

If it’s so important to be in the EU, how come the Ford Motor Company chose to close its van operations in Hampshire and move them outside the EU — to Turkey?  Part of the incentive was an £80 bn loan from the European Investment Bank, but they must also be confident that they can service the EU market from Turkey.

Maybe ten years ago, you’d have heard the same from the City of London.  As a global financial centre, many City figures took it for granted that the City had to be in the EU.  Nowadays you’ll get a much more mixed reaction — especially in private.  They’ve seen a series of irresponsible decisions, from bonus caps to the Financial Transaction Tax, which have been ill-thought-out and pursued with a reckless disregard for the EU’s most important financial centre — or as some would say, a deliberate determination to damage one of the UK’s major industries, and to teach a lesson to those troublesome Anglo-Saxons

Why are these senior business people happier to speak in private?  We need to recognise that the EU wields enormous influence — far too much, in fact.  So companies that want to modify the rules need to mollify the beast.  Businesses and industries are simply afraid to speak out against Brussels, for fear their lobbying efforts are ignored when new rules are crafted.  Or that they lose lucrative contracts, or are otherwise disadvantaged.  I’ve lost count of the times when I have attacked EU policies in open meetings in Brux or Straz, and afterwards industry people have thanked me for stating a common-sense view.  But they add “We’re glad you said it, but of course you understand why we can’t speak out so vigorously”.  Indeed I do.  It’s a bit like all the organisations that feel they need to pay lip-service to climate orthodoxy — yet get their people privately over a coffee or a beer, and they sing a different tune.

Of course it simply isn’t true that all businesses back EU membership — although I accept that a majority probably do, at least in public.  But you only need to check the Business for Britain web-site to find hundreds of British firms that take a different view.

It’s easy to assume that the Captains of Industry really understand the issues of EU membership.  But I suspect that they don’t.  I spent 33 years in management positions in international businesses, and I’ve now spent fifteen years in the European parliament.  So I’ve seen the question from both sides.  And I suspect that most of the senior business people who pontificate about the EU couldn’t explain the difference between a Free Trade Area and a Customs Union (I suspect that the cuddly/fluffy term “Common Market” was deliberately designed to preserve this ambiguity).  And they couldn’t, off the top of their heads, define “optimal currency area”’

Could you, I hear you ask?  Well how about: “An optimal currency area is an area which is sufficiently large, and sufficiently uniform, that the benefits of a common currency, in terms of predictability and elimination of exchange costs within the area, significantly exceed the disadvantages of a one-size-fits-all monetary and interest rate policy”.   The Isle of Wight is too small to be an optimal currency area, while the Eurozone is — not too large — but far too diverse, in terms of member-states’ economic performance and cycles, to be an optimal currency area.

Energy-intensive businesses in particular are voting with their feet and leaving the EU — or at least switching their investment outside the EU.  Jim Ratcliffe of major chemical company Ineos has said that under present policies there won’t be a chemical industry left in the EU in ten years time.  BASF, Germany’s chemical giant, has said that it will shift the majority of its investment outside the EU for the first time, and blames European energy prices.  Siemens takes a similar view.

The EU is bad for business.  Brexit potentially offers lower taxes, lower energy prices, more rational regulation, lower costs.  What’s not to like?

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Guest blog by Christopher Monckton on climate change

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Science is not, repeat not, done by consensus. Head-counting scientists forms no part of the scientific method. The fallacy of argument from consensus (or, as the medieval schoolmen sneeringly called it, the argumentum ad populum) has no place in any rational argument. Nor is it any help to appeal to the supposed authority of scientists (who, for one thing, are as prone to rent-seeking and profiteering as anyone else: white lab-coats are no indication of exceptional purity). For the fallacy of argument from authority (the argumentum ad verecundiam) is another bogus form of argument. Both of these fallacies, and a dozen others like them, were categorized and excoriated by Aristotle 2350 years ago. They really should not appear in any educated discussion of a scientific topic today.

In fact, the claimed “consensus” does not exist. The largest peer-reviewed survey of opinion as expressed in the peer-reviewed learned journals on climate and related scientific topics found just 41 of 11,944 papers, or 0.3%, endorsing the official UN IPCC “consensus” to the effect that most of the global warming since 1950 was manmade. However, the authors of the “study” that analyzed the 11,944 papers reported the “consensus” as 97.1%. Police in Queensland and in the UK have been poring over the paper concerned, and prosecutions may yet follow. The patience of those of us who have diligently been contributing papers to the learned journals (my latest, on the IPCC’s aprioristic failure to take uncertainties properly or honestly into account, is attached) is running short, and outright falsehoods such as the “97%” lie are no longer going to be tolerated.

It is in fact barely possible that most of the warming since 1950 was manmade, but only if one assumes not only that CO2 exerts a larger forcing on the climate object than is at all plausible but also that the “temperature feedbacks” in response to the direct warming arising from that forcing are strongly net-positive when observation indicates they are somewhat net-negative. A paper by me in Physics and Society in 2008 was among the first to suggest, by the application of elementary climate physics, that there would be less than 1 K global warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration – and that only half of that would be likely to make itself manifest within 100 years of the doubling. Now such papers are appearing just about once a week, as others pick up the threads I exposed in that early paper. Indeed, I am very close to publishing a further paper providing for the first time a climate model that anyone with a pocket calculator can use to obtain estimates of climate sensitivity less unreliable than those of the billion-dollar brains on whose feverishly over-excited and anti-scientific predictions the climate scare was founded.

The fact that there has been no global warming for 18 years 1 month, according to the RSS satellite dataset, comes as no surprise at all to me. For I see things not only in a mathematical perspective informed by both physical theory and observation but also by the climate over geological time. One example: in the Neoproterozoic era, 750 million years ago, CO2 concentration was three orders of magnitude greater than it is today. It was at least 30% of the atmosphere, compared with today’s paltry 0.04%. Yet during that era of very high CO2 concentration glaciers a mile high came and went twice, at the Equator. And how many equatorial glaciers are there today?

True, the Sun was somewhat fainter then than now. And the continents were in different places. But I have seen the tillite deposits of one of the major equatorial glacial moraines at Arkaroola Station, South Australia, rubbing shoulders with deposits of dolomitic limestone (which can only be precipitated out of the ocean if the atmosphere contains at least 30% CO2). I have poured hydrochloric acid on to the rock to see the CO2 foaming back out of it. I have seen the curly mallee trees above it, which only grow on dolomitic limestone (though the 600 other mallee species are not so picky). And I have done some calculations that suggest the forcing effect of CO2 was – and, therefore, is – a very great deal less than the models find it to be. I was so perplexed by the IPCC’s forcing value (which has already had to be cut by a hefty 15%) that I investigated how it had been arrived at. I discovered – not greatly to my surprise – that it had been reached by intercomparison between three models. There appears to be no direct, observational estimate of the CO2 forcing, because that forcing cannot easily be distinguished from the far more significant water vapor forcing. It is really the latter that keeps the planet warm: at the crucial lower-to-mid-troposphere altitudes where it would be necessary for warming to take place if there were to be much effect on near-surface temperatures, the characteristic absorption bands of CO2 are almost entirely overlain by those of water vapour.

It is only in the upper troposphere, where water vapor is rarer, that CO2 might in theory have some warming effect. However, the atmosphere in the upper troposphere is so attenuated that little warming is to be expected at that altitude. No surprise, then, that in the mid-troposphere, where the models predict that in a warming world the rate of warming would be thrice that at the surface, no such “hot-spot” is to be observed. It was I who gave the “hot-spot” its name: but it is non-existent in very nearly all of the datasets.

And all of this is before we even begin to consider the economic case. A paper by me for the World Federation of Scientists’ Annual Proceedings three years ago demonstrated that it is 10-100 times costlier to mitigate global warming today than to adapt to its imagined net-adverse consequences the day after tomorrow. I remain the only researcher to have applied the IPCC’s own climate methodology and results to the standard techniques of intergenerational investment appraisal in order to provide a proper economic analysis. So far, the most heroically stupid of all the heroically stupid methods of trying to make non-existent global warming go away is to introduce electric vehicles, as you will see from my Energy & Environment article, which contains an admittedly breathless summary of the calculation.

So far, despite careful enquiry, I have seen no compelling case for doing anything about the climate. It has changed for 4.5 billion years. It will continue to change. And there is not a lot we can do about it. There are plenty of real and solvable problems: why waste an instant longer on non-problems that could not – even to the extent that they were rela problems – be solved except at entirely disproportionate and extravagant cost?

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Fire-walking: A key skill for EU Commissioners?

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The first Slovenian nominee for EU Commissioner, was Aleka Bratusek. As a result of odd electoral circumstances, she had managed to nominate herself, despite her party having just been voted out of office – but that’s another story.  She gave a very lack-lustre performance at her parliamentary hearing (which I attended), and as a result, she was persuaded to withdraw.

Her replacement is Violetta Bulc, Slovenia’s Development Minister  She is a woman of remarkable views and skills.  She has the ideal solution to global warming.  She says “Natural environmental heat can be transformed directly into electrical energy”.  Wonderful.  We can cool the planet and generate electricity at the same time.  I just hope that Violetta has a patent on the process, so that she can make a few kopeks out of it.

Then, she is a campaigner for Syntropy. No, I don’t know what it is, either.  But she refers to complex formulæ.  And floods of emotions.  So it must be important.  She’s also a blogger.  A recent blog is entitled “The vibrations of the white lions in the new era” .  I haven’t read it in detail, but it shows an original angle.

She has a Black Belt at Tae Kwan Do.  But best of all – she’s a qualified Shaman and Fire-Walker!  How about that?  It never occurred to me before, but I guess fire-walking is a very valuable skill for an EU Commissioner-Designate.  It might help her to negotiate some of the hot issues she’s sure to face.

Only one problem: so far as I can find out, she doesn’t walk on water.  But there.  You can’t win ‘em all.

(Hat-tip to Open Europe, who came up with most of this stuff)

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