Daily Debrief March 8th

“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.

Several papers remark on fears that any attempt to ship migrants back from the EU to Turkey could provoke violence in the camps.

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.

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5 Responses to Daily Debrief March 8th

  1. Ex-expat Colin says:
  2. ian wragg says:

    Roger, not sure that Turkish visa free travel is only for the Shengen area. The text I saw seems to convey the idea that it is for the EU as a whole.
    Also Britain is being stung for £250 million towards the Turkish bribe of £3 billion. One of the largest donations.
    This despite Cameron saying we have an opt out from EU asylum policy.
    Snake oil salesman if ever there was one.
    As they say,… you know he’s lying because his lips are moving….

  3. Shieldsman says:

    Sorry to return to Cameron’s con trick, but is vital that the Public are aware of his skulduggery.
    Cameron was too late for the Oscars as best actor in – THE REFERENDUM – REFORMING THE EUROPEAN UNION.

    Breitbart: Pro-EU Campaigners Let Slip, Cameron’s Renegotiation ‘Entirely Cosmetic…Failing To Alter Anything Substantial’ This leads to Euractiv.com :Cameron’s renegotiation is nothing more than a rebranding exercise. There is nothing of substance to the United Kingdom’s renegotiation agreement, but it has been sold as a full revision of the country’s EU membership, write James Bartholomeusz and Daniel Schade.

    It is a great pity that Jean Baudrillard did not live to see the past few weeks, in which British Prime Minister David Cameron successfully ‘renegotiated’ his country’s membership of the European Union. The French philosopher would have been in his element, for this spectacle has surely been the perfect realisation of his prognosis for postmodern society: the point at which politics is completely supplanted by political communication.

    Since Cameron’s announcement of the June referendum, politicians across the UK and the rest of Europe have taken to the airwaves to attest to the seismic changes that have been made, announcing that the EU is now fit for continued British membership. Some, including Angela Merkel, have gone so far as to suggest that Cameron’s reforms will not only be good for Britain but for other member states as well.

    None of this, of course, is in any way true. The concessions that Cameron claims to have won are entirely cosmetic, if that: many, such as cutting regulatory red-tape and the involvement of national parliaments in law-making, were already permissible under treaty law or form part of the European Commission’s current legislative plan; others, such as welfare support for intra-EU migrants, tinkered at the margins of the issue whilst failing to alter anything substantial.

    But then, this was the result that many predicted. The renegotiation process was never about any problems with the state of Britain’s EU membership, but rather a haphazardly choreographed attempt to manage the divisions within the British Conservative Party.

    Having conceded to rising Eurosceptic sentiment in his own party and the British public more widely for over five years, he could not be seen to support continued EU membership in its current form; however, it was also abundantly clear that other European countries had no appetite for British special pleading, beset as they were by a chain of crises and impatient with Cameron treating European Council meetings as a series of domestic media opportunities rather than as forums for serious diplomacy. There was only one solution: to launch a ‘renegotiation’ that would change next to nothing, but sell it as a wholesale rewrite of Britain’s membership conditions.

    For now, anyone with an interest in the European order must engage in this charade and back Cameron’s campaign to stay in the EU; the real questions about the role of the UK in a Europe that must either dissolve or press onwards into full integration remain unanswered. Until that happens, the postmodern malaise that Baudrillard predicted will be the order of the day.

    The Turkey Deal.
    It appears to be a very, very expensive sticking plaster to fix Merkel’s self inflicted injury.
    Will it stick and who is going to pay Turkey? Many of the member states are nett recipients, so will the others cough up?
    The idea of distributing the migrants around the member states has been rebuffed, so will Germany and Sweden take them all, including the one for one or what ever the deal with Turkey is.

    Will we see civil war in Europe and the breakup of the EU empire.

  4. Jane Davies says:

    What a load of tosh in this article…….unfortunately there is no comment facility or I would have had a go at them.
    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/opinion/leaving-the-eu-would-hurt-britains-economy.html?_r=3&referer

  5. About the BCC: You are right: it is sinister.
    The reason the big beasts in the BCC want to stay in is because last year they spent €20 on lobbying, as Dan Hannan pointed out yesterday, and got some €200 million back. Their actions favour big business at the expense of small businesses. For instance, the drug industry severely restricted their small competitors.
    There are an awful lot of small businesses, some of which would no doubt turn into bigger ones. Thanks to this lobbying, they won’t get that chance.
    And, do you know what? The small businesses pay all their taxes and do all their compliances themselves without the aid of huge departments to do it for them.

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