The Sun: Pole Chancers
Personally I have great respect for Polish people in the UK. Their grandparents made a hugely important contribution to the UK war effort in the dark days of the early forties. Today’s Poles in Britain have an enviable reputation as hard workers and reliable employees. Nonetheless the Sun highlights a worrying issue, with its headline “Pole Chancers: Migrants’ guide to raking in UK benefits”. A Polish newspaper in the UK, Polish Express, has published a guide for Polish immigrants advising them on how to make the most of UK welfare benefits.
The Sun believes that this guide will encourage many more Polish migrants to rush to the UK ahead of the migrant welfare curbs that Cameron claims to have negotiated (though there is great doubt that they will ever take effect). The Polish Express newspaper is widely read on-line in Poland, and could amount to a pro-immigration campaign. I have no reason to believe that there is anything illegal or improper about the guide – I have no doubt that it deals with benefits that are actually available under UK/EU rules. Nonetheless it may leave a bad impression with British voters already concerned about very high immigration levels.
The Sun stands by its story on the Queen
According to the Mail on-line, the Sun is standing by yesterday’s story that the Queen backs Brexit, claiming that it was based on two separate and credible sources. But constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor has serious doubts, and the Palace is lodging a complaint with IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Meantime Michael Gove stands accused of leaking the story. He is reported to have been at the lunch where the Queen is claimed to have discussed the EU issue with Nick Clegg. Gove was reportedly “at the heart of a Cabinet row” over who leaked the story. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP has ventured the view that the Queen would support Brexit because “Her deepest commitment is to the UK and the Commonwealth”.
The Express headlines “NOT AMUSED – Queen’s outrage at Brexit story”, while several papers again mention the Palace’s complaint to IPSO.
Macedonia blocks the Migrant Trail
Macedonia has closed its southern border with Greece, blocking the migrant route north to the rest of the EU, and stranding thousands of migrants in appalling conditions in Greece. No use crying over spilt milk, but the EU should have moved months ago to interdict migrant traffic in the Aegean. This would have saved Greece the current crisis, destroyed the business model of the traffickers, and removed the incentive for migrants to set out on the perilous sea crossing. It would also have stopped the drowning. It would have meshed with the policy of the USA and the UK to provide funding for refugee camps in the region, rather than dealing with large numbers of displaced people in Europe.
In a plenary session yesterday, Nigel Farage said “I wish the British Prime Minister were as good a negotiator as the Turkish Prime Minister”. The bizarre swap deal tentatively agreed between the EU and Turkey involves rapidly escalating payments to Turkey – now looking like €6 billion, including £500 million from the UK. There are promises of cutting the migrant flow in exchange. A typical EU deal. We pay up front, and the other party delivers …. when? This year, next year, sometime, never?
There is now no simple solution, and European leaders must face the consequences of their folly. But for the UK, we did not hang out an “All Welcome” sign, as Angela Merkel did. We did not allow (and I trust would not have allowed) large numbers of migrants to land on our shores. We are not part of the Schengen free movement area. While we continue our humanitarian support for refugees in and around Syria, I think we are entitled to say to Brussels: “You broke it. You fix it”. With current net immigration into the UK running at a third of a million a year (thanks to the EU and “free movement”), we are in no position to admit big additional numbers.
Follow the Money
Stephen Hawking is hugely respected – and even loved – in the UK. A brilliant scientist who has triumphed over a life-threatening illness to become one of the giants of British physics and cosmology. I have actually read his book “A Brief History of Time” – all the way through. But while Hawking knows a great deal about Black Holes, he seems blissfully unaware of the Black Hole that faces the European project. The Telegraph reports that he has led an initiative by 150 scientists from the Royal Society against Brexit. They make essentially two points: first, that Brexit would stem the flow of bright young European scientists into the UK, and second that the loss of EU funding would be a disaster for science and academia (recall that the EU funds Jean Monnet professorships in many British Universities).
Sorry, Stephen, but I’m afraid you’re wrong on both counts. First, under the Australian-style points system which UKIP proposes after Brexit, bright young scientists from the EU (and from around the world – no discrimination in favour of Europeans) would continue to be welcome, and continue to make an invaluable contribution to our universities and research programmes. Second (how many times do we have to say it?), every pound we get in EU funding costs the UK around £3 – and that ratio can only get worse as the EU brings in poorer countries like Turkey. So after Brexit, we’ll have more money – not less – for all the good things we want to do, from supporting research in universities to cutting the deficit to agricultural support programmes for farmers.
The fact is that there is extensive cooperation between British universities and other institutions around the world. I am genuinely puzzled as to why we can cooperate with universities in the USA and Australia (say) without being governed by Washington or Canberra, but the Royal Society believes that we can only cooperate with continental universities if we agree to be governed by Brussels. Answers on a postcard, please….