The Times reports the anger of pro-Brexit Ministers, who are now graciously allowed to campaign for Leave — but denied access to relevant Cabinet papers. It is preposterous and unprecedented that Cabinet Ministers should be denied papers in their own departments. Not content with splitting the Conservative Party from top to bottom, Cameron now seems intent on driving a wedge between Ministers and civil servants.
The Prime Minister’s provocative, petty and partisan policy on this issue is undermining the respect due to his high office. It is also reflecting very badly on the Remain campaign which he is leading. Voters will take a dim view.
Ten years of uncertainty? Not sure about that
Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock has said “Britain will face ten years of uncertainty if we leave the EU”. He argues that it will take this long to negotiate new trade arrangements. This contrasts with Digby Jones’ opinion that after Brexit “We will have a UK/EU Free Trade Deal in twenty-four hours”. Under Article 50, we will have two years of orderly negotiations on a free trade deal with the rump-EU. We will have the protection of WTO rules. We have the EU’s obligation under the Treaty to negotiate favourable terms with neighbouring countries. Most important of all, we have the overwhelming economic logic that as the EU’s largest customer, the EU will be obliged to seek good terms of trade with the UK.
Even if Matt Hancock were right, some might feel that ten years of uncertainty was better than decades of uncertainty and subservience in a dysfunctional and declining European Union which is clearly heading to the scrap-heap of history.
In the case of existing trade deals negotiated through the EU with third countries, we should expect to see those deals grandfathered to the UK in the short term, and subject to renegotiation in an orderly way if and when we and the third party choose to do so. (But no doubt British ministers will be frantically lobbying those third countries to make negative noises about post-Brexit trade — as they have done with the USA).
And post-Brexit, we shall be free to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world, where the growth is. Like China. And the Commonwealth.
Finland: the new €uro victim?
The economy of Finland is in trouble. Apple has eaten Nokia’s lunch. Increasing internet use has reduced demand for paper (a major Finnish export). Turmoil in Russia — plus Russian sanctions — has damaged the Finns’ export business. If the Finns had kept their currency, they could have adjusted to changed circumstances. But Tuomas Malinen, an economist at Helsinki University, pulls no punches. : “The main blame for our economic woes should be placed where it belongs, namely on the euro membership.”
BoJo a hypocrite?
Boris Johnson is “a hypocrite” for backing Brexit at the same time as he celebrates Crossrail/The Elizabeth Line, for which the EIB advanced a loan of £1 billion, fumes the Huff Post. Biting the hand that feeds him.
It may have escaped the attention of the Huff Post that the money we get back from the European institutions is our money, and every pound of it costs the British economy around £3. So after Brexit, we’ll have more funding available for infrastructure, not less. They should also consider the fact that the government is well placed to borrow for long-term projects, at very advantageous interest rates.
Meantime the improbably named Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib-Dem mayoral candidate, warns that Brexit could deny London billions in infrastructure investment – making the same point about the EIB. Same answers apply. Plus the fact that major investors, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds are only too eager to find major, viable infrastructure projects to invest in. Sorry, Caroline, but another paper tiger just bit the dust.
It’s clear that the stay-mongers are going to keep talking about Norway – because there are obvious down-sides with Norway’s position that wouldn’t apply to an independent UK. I was particularly struck by Thérèse Coffey MP on BBC Any Questions last weekend. She launched into the usual stuff about Norway. Paul Nuttall responded in robust terms that we didn’t want to be like Norway. But poor Thérèse clearly couldn’t find the “Pause” button, and just carried on regardless. We must shoot this one down mercilessly every time they bring it up.
Cost of benefits for jobless EU migrants to hit £1 billion?
The Express publishes a report claiming that the annual benefit cost for jobless EU migrants is headed to £1 billion. Of course these costs will be unaffected by proposed changes to in-work benefit payments.