Daily Debrief March 1st

Calais Burning: Jungle Warfare

Today’s papers are full of alarming pictures of fires at “The Jungle” migrant camp in Calais. The EU has allowed the migrant crisis to get so far out of control that forceful police action may be the only solution.

Cameron caused a frisson of concern with his hysterical claim that Brexit would lead to “Jungle Camps” in the Home Counties.  But in fact it is staying in the EU that carries the clear and present danger of uncontrolled mass immigration.  Merkel will give EU passports to a million migrants.  The Commission wants to fast-track Turkish accession and Turkey will obtain visa-free access to the Schengen zone next year. We need to take back control of our borders.  The only way is Brexit.

Cameron declares war on the Grassroots

He’s already told his MPs to ignore their constituency associations.  To Cameron, Conservative associations are the backwoodsmen.  They’re red-faced Colonel Blimps with old-fashioned attitudes that would never do in Saint John’s Wood.  To others, they’re the backbone of England.

But now the Telegraph reports a Conservative plan to cull 90% of their constituency associations. The excuse is “greater efficiency”.  But Cameron is clearly exasperated that his “Remain” Campaign is being resisted by Party members and activists.

If Cameron’s primary objective is to destroy the Conservative Party, he’s going about it the right way.  I’m glad I left it in 2012.

Is Matt Hancock plain ignorant?

(or just bending the truth?)

The Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP assures us that it will take “ten years of uncertainty” to renegotiate Britain’s trade links following Brexit, and he uses this outlandish claim to justify his use of the phrase “A leap in the dark”.

But it’s a very short leap – and it’s not very dark  Other stay-mongers are fond of saying that Brexiteers “have no idea what life outside the EU will be like”.  “What alternative do they offer?” ask the Remainians. So let’s tell them.

In any case, as Lord Lawson has said, it’s a very silly question.  The alternative to being in the EU is not being in the EU.  And far from being a mystery, it is in fact the current state of a hundred-plus countries around the world – most of whom are doing rather better, in economic terms, than the declining and dysfunctional EU.  It is the state that Britain was in for centuries before we joined the “Common Market” less than half a century ago.

I don’t think that many Canadians or Australians or Singaporeans wake up in the morning scared to death because their countries are independent and not in the EU.

For the benefit of Mr. Hancock, let me set out the parameters of Britain post-Brexit.  We shall have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU, and contrary to the government’s scare story, that will involve negotiation not “with 27 member-states” but with just one interlocutor – the EU itself.  But imagine a worst case, where we failed to negotiate an FTA.  Then, as Matt Hancock knows perfectly well (or ought to know), the default position is simply the WTO rules.

Arm’s-length trading on a WTO basis would be less advantageous that an FTA – but not much.  For example, the duties payable on our exports to the EU under the Common External Tariff would be less than half our current net contributions to the EU budget.  Dozens of countries around the world trade perfectly well with the EU on WTO terms.  The three largest external suppliers into the EU are China, Russia and the USA.  None of these has an FTA with the EU, but they trade with it very successfully nonetheless.

So of course we don’t know exactly what our terms will be  – just as the Remainians don’t know exactly what the EU will look like in 2026 (if it still exists).  But we do know that even the worst case would not be a major problem.

But this modest worst case won’t happen, because we shall have an FTA.  And that won’t take ten years to negotiate.  It is overwhelmingly in the interests of the EU to get trade terms agreed ASAP.  After all, more EU jobs depend on that trade than British jobs. And we will become the EU’s largest external customer.  Bar none.

If the Commission drags its feet in setting up the deal, EU industries – and especially the car industry – will be kicking their door down.  We’re a hugely important customer, and they need trade to continue uninterrupted even more than we do.  Meantime trade deals with third countries will be grandfathered.

I will do Matt Hancock the courtesy of assuming that he’s simply ignorant.  But if (as I rather suspect) he knows the score, then he’s telling porkies.

Staying in a reformed EU

I wish I had a Pound for every time I’ve heard that phrase recently.  “I take the view that we’d be better off staying in a reformed EU”, say the true believers (and the government’s pay-roll vote).

Please repeat after me, very loudly, “There is no reformed EU on offer”.  Cameron started out with the laudable objective of reforming the whole system, to the benefit of all EU member-states – though even then his vision of a reformed EU was sadly lacking in ambition.  But he’s delivered no such thing – just a few questionable tweaks to Britain’s position, which (if we stay) will soon be forgotten as the Brussels Juggernaut rolls on to Ever Closer Union.

While forests of paper and gallons of ink have been wasted debating the Cameron package, it has little meaning and less effect.  Essentially we’re choosing to leave, or stay, in a European Union that is utterly unreformed, with all the problems we’ve faced for years – plus all the new problems that will arise from future legislation and future enlargement.

Every time we hear that mendacious phrase – “A reformed EU” – we should challenge it forcefully.  Don’t let them get away with misrepresentation.


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22 Responses to Daily Debrief March 1st

  1. Kenneth Seakens says:

    I do admire your measured prose and comment. You are up there with Gerald Warner.
    Do keep up the good work.
    Ken Seakens

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “There is no reformed EU on offer”, “There is no reformed EU on offer”, “There is no reformed EU on offer”

    just repeating

  3. davidbuckingham says:

    Absolutely. THEN repeat ….. we are watching the Decline and Fall of the Treaty of Rome – the Barbarians are at the Gates…

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Dennis Skinner…LOL

  5. davidbuckingham says:

    NB …90% of our exports are to the rest of the world – those exporters would no longer be regulated by EU rules…. only the 10% who export to the EU would have to abide by them.

  6. Shieldsman says:

    The Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Our special status gives us the best of both worlds. We will be in the parts of Europe that work for us – influencing the decisions that affect us, in the driving seat of the world’s biggest market and with the ability to take action to keep our people safe.”

    This is pure fabrication a tissue of lies. His imagination is running riot and he is reading things into the European Council Conclusions – 18 and 19 February 2016 that are not there.

    It is not a treaty change and does not reform the European Union in any way. It appears to restate our current position within the EU.
    It is recognised that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the Treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union. The substance of this will be incorporated into the Treaties at the time of their next revision in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties and the respective constitutional requirements of the Member States, so as to make it clear that the references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom.

    Future insertion under whatever form of words is not reforming the EU it will only confirm the UK’s exclusion and will not remove the words ‘ever closer union’.
    Sovereignty is not returned to the United Kingdom.

    The best of both worlds needs some explaining. President Hollande has said he cannot have ‘pick and mix’. As no significant changes have taken place we must be currently enjoying the best of Mr Cameron’s worlds.

    Roger I am sure you know far more about the workings of the EU than the PM. The two derogations if passed would they achieve anything? Probably on past account little or nothing.

  7. Shieldsman says:

    I forgot to say – The Conservative Party, cut off its arms and legs and it will die.

  8. Jane Davies says:

    I suspect you all know about this but thought I would lob it in anyway. You need to watch out that this bunch of crooks don’t cheat to win the referendum…..

  9. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Our Ports…from the programme Coast

    In the first 2 mins in and a chap at Rosyth docks tells us about our trading…very big time numbers and is global!

  10. catweazle666 says:

    For example, the duties payable on our exports to the EU under the Common External Tariff would be less than half our current net contributions to the EU budget.

    Given that the we import roughly twice the amount from the EU that we export to it, presumably we would be able to charge the EU twice the amount in tariffs that they charge us.

    So that takes care of that.

  11. catweazle666 says:

    Schengen collapse is ‘bigger economic threat to Europe than Brexit’

    The prospect of a full-blown dismantling of the passport-free zone – where people and trade can move without restriction between 26 countries – is looking increasingly likely as Brussels buckles under the pressure of an unprecedented influx of refugees.

    EU ministers will gather later this month to decide on whether impose a two-year suspension of the Schengen agreement – a decision that would “mark the first reversal of European integration”, according to Morgan Stanley.


    What was that twaddle from Mandleswine et al about it taking a decade to renegotiate our trade agreements with the EU states?

    The way that lot looks to be heading, it strikes me that if we don’t pull our fingers out, there won’t be any need for Brexit!

  12. Jane Davies says:

    Expats in the EU are getting their feathers ruffled about their state pensions (could be frozen) and a bunch of other issues……..

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Think they’re slightly off track…its about money loss to the EU which is something they can’t afford I reckon? More truck loads of Euros going to Greece now and I don’t think thats going to stop any time soon. It’s truly magic money.

      The Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) to ex-pats looks as though its to be stopped. Ms Greening mentioned that on QT couple of weeks back.

      John Redwood in HoC yesterday:


      Various lower estimates for the UK’s saving from leaving the EU have been put about. Let me remind people where the £10 billion figure comes from. It is the last official ONS figure for a whole year, 2014, published in the Pink Book. It is based on the following figures:

      UK payments into EU
      Vat contribution £2388 m

      GNI contribution (based on recently revised up GDP) £13762 m

      Customs duties £2949 m

      Total (inc small items) £19107 m

      Payments to UK
      Fontainebleau abatement (Thatcher rebate) £4416 m

      UK charge for collection of customs duties etc £741 m

      Agricultural receipts £2309 m

      Capital receipts (universities, regional etc) £1478 m

      Other receipts £70 m

      Total Receipts £9235 m

      NET ONE YEAR COST OF EU £9872m

  13. Brin Jenkins says:

    At 80 I’ve witnessed the European Union debacle first hand, with all the argument loading, bias and deciept of Internationalism. Its never to late to leave but the difficulties and damage being arranged are immense and getting worse.

    Please just get us out of the New World nightmare.

  14. “But imagine a worst case, where we failed to negotiate an FTA. Then, as Matt Hancock knows perfectly well (or ought to know), the default position is simply the WTO rules.”
    Politicians, like everyone else, love simplicity and ease.
    So it is much simpler than going for an agreement with 27 other rival nations, to accept TEMPORARILY an off the peg solution to our interim trade while Article 50 is being applied.
    Which is why TEMPORARILY we need to accept EFTA rules which will free us up in a number of ways.
    We are already in the EEA anyway, but need to nail that down.
    Then we can go for the WTO option.
    Europe (we hope) will always be there. We will always have to negotiate with the continent as we always have. We need to free ourselves as much as possible, though. That is why we will need some determined and clever negotiators to do it.

    • With respect, Mike, please NO! EFTA comes with a mass of baggage. We want a simple bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the rump-EU, like (for example) South Korea has at the moment. No free movement, no application of EU regulations. Just free trade. A Free Trade Deal doesn’t need to imply membership of EFTA — or any other quasi-membership organisation.

  15. Pingback: Daily Debrief March 3rd | Roger Helmer MEP

  16. Pingback: EU membership costs in excess of 10% of GDP. |

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