“An end of irregular immigration”?
Speaking after yesterday’s Brussels meeting on the immigration crisis, The Donald (Tusk, that is, not Trump) the President of the European Council, announced that “The day of irregular migrants is over” (though maybe the people in the inflatable boats in the Aegean as we speak may see it differently). Bold words, but little substance. The meeting, which included the Turkish Prime Minister, claimed to have achieved “broad agreement”, but the details are still to be finalised on March 17th/18th (while as any lawyer will tell you, an agreement to agree is no agreement at all). Details are sketchy, but appear to include a bizarre one-for-one swap, under which non-Syrian migrants in Greece will be exchanged for Syrian (or “genuine”) refugees from Turkey. The in-coming Syrians will be “held in camps in Europe”. Then there were repeated promises of massive funding for Turkey to assist with its migrant influx – although the €3 billion promised already has not yet materialised.
Of more concern to British Eurosceptics is the promise of visa-free access for Turkish citizens to the Schengen Zone from next year, plus fast-tracking of Turkey’s EU membership. We cannot remind ourselves too often that Turkish membership means that 75 million Turks (who on average are very poor by Western European standards) will have complete access, as of right, not just to the Schengen Zone but to the whole EU, including of course the UK. We must vote for Brexit before Turkish accession.
Meantime the migrant row continues
The European Commission is desperate to set up some kind of “migrant sharing” deal across the EU, but is meeting stiff resistance. Credit to Prime Minister David Cameron for declining to join in and insisting that the UK has an opt-out. But it remains to be seen how long the British government will resist the pressure to “show solidarity”. And the mere fact that we come under pressure and have to fight our corner on this issue is yet another reason for leaving the EU. Other countries are also resisting. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban, a prominent eurosceptic, has reiterated his refusal to take more migrants at the behest of Brussels, and is hinting at the “nuclear option” – a Referendum on the issue in Hungary. The EU institutions have a real fear of referendums – with good reason. The BBC is hinting that other northern European states, who would not themselves speak out against migrant quotas, are nonetheless glad to hide behind Viktor Orban’s stand.
No 10 accused in the John Longworth affair
The Daily Mail headlines: “Proof that No. 10 did put the knife in”. It reports that Daniel Korski, an aide to David Cameron, gave the former head of the BCC John Longworth a tongue-lashing over his position on Brexit, and that Number Ten contacted Nora Senior, the President of the BCC, hours before Longworth’s suspension. Downing Street had previously denied putting pressure on the BCC over the Longworth case, but their denials are looking very suspect indeed. This is Banana Republic behaviour – not what we are entitled to expect from the office of a British Prime Minister. John Longworth’s only offence was to breach the BCC policy of neutrality on the Referendum. Yet Guido reports that two regional Chairmen of BCC have publicly backed Remain – and (surprise surprise) no action has been taken against them.
Meantime John Longworth reportedly criticised David Cameron for his “highly irresponsible scare stories” about Brexit.
Bank of England: sensible precaution, or flagrant propaganda?
Both the Telegraph and the Times (and the Daily Mirror) report on the Bank of England’s plans to pour billions of pounds of extra liquidity into the UK’s financial system ahead of the June 23rd Referendum, to help cope with any volatility that might arise, and to prevent possible runs on banks. It is an open question whether this is merely a sensible precaution, given the febrile state of the financial markets – or is it part of a carefully choreographed campaign to support the Remain Camp by stressing the perceived risks of Brexit?
“If you want lower electricity bills, vote leave”
Energy expert Rupert Darwall has a brilliant piece in yesterday’s Telegraph. It is entitled “Wind & Solar have destroyed the ability of the market to signal price”. But if I’d been the sub-editor on the case, I’d have headlined his final sentence: “If you want lower electricity bills, vote leave”.
He makes a key point that I’ve been trying to get across for some time. Because renewables are subsidised, and the Grid is obliged to take renewable energy when available, coal and gas power stations can find their output worthless when the wind blows and the sun shines. You can’t run a power station profitably in those conditions, so now no one wants to build the gas-fired back-up to provide the cover for intermittent renewables. So Amber Rudd and the government are proposing another massive layer of subsidy to get investors to build gas-fired power stations. As I constantly say, regulatory uncertainty is blocking vital investment in energy infrastructure. As Darwall says, “Private ownership and state control is the worst of all worlds”. The current crisis over Hinkley C perfectly illustrates his point.
Some of his other gems are worth repeating. “The Report (from the “Big Six”) peddles the grid parity fib, which ignores the hidden costs on the rest of the system”. (I’ve been asking for some time how renewables companies can claim grid parity whilst also complaining they can’t operate without subsidy). “Clearly it was a colossal mistake to have embarked on renewables with storage unsolved”. And he discusses the disaster of Germany’s “Energiewende” renewables project – which some in the UK would like to replicate.
But he saved his best line to last. Vote leave for lower electricity prices. Amen to that.