The Prime Minister: mendacious and malicious
In David Cameron’s speech yesterday, he repeated the “three million jobs” line. “Three million jobs are linked (my emphasis) to the Single Market”. Note that weasel phrase “are linked”? This is not strictly speaking a lie. It is widely believed that around 3 million UK jobs depend on trade with the EU. But Cameron is clearly seeking to imply that the jobs depend on the membership. That is what he wants the public to understand, and it is a deliberate deceit.
The well-worn phrase “a leap in the dark” features again. But as I have repeatedly argued, it’s not a leap in the dark. We have a secure safety-net in the WTO rules. Many companies and independent countries trade successfully with the EU on that basis, and so could we. But we are very confident that we will get a bilateral trade deal, for the reasons I have repeatedly outlined. And we will get it quickly (Digby Jones said “within 24 hours”), because they need it even more than we do. If three million UK jobs depend on EU/UK trade, then five or six million continental jobs depend on it too.
But the most shameful point of Cameron speech was his accusation that Brexiteers thought that “job losses were a price worth paying” for Brexit. Cameron knows (or ought to know) that everyone on the Leave side believes that our country and our people will be Better Off Out. We can have a legitimate debate about whether we are right or wrong in that opinion, but for Cameron to accuse all of us, including some of his Cabinet colleagues, of deliberately and carelessly imperilling British jobs is beneath contempt. As I Tweeted yesterday, he should be ashamed. And he should apologise.
The “27 countries” Myth
On of the myths of the Remainians is that after Brexit, we will have to negotiate separate trade deals with all the remaining 27 member-states. That shows a vast ignorance of the EU project. It would be true only if all 27 also left the EU. I don’t see that happening (or at least, not immediately!). The whole point of the EU is that it does trade deals on behalf of the member-states. So we would need a single bilateral UK/EU trade deal, and for the reason outlined above, we will get it in short order.
Draghi throws the Kitchen Sink
The BBC reports that ECB President Mario Draghi has “thrown the kitchen sink” at the eurozone economy, with zero and negative deposit rates, a massive increase in Quantitative Easing, and new incentives for banks to lend to companies and consumers. Meantime the Bank for International Settlements (which presumably knows nearly as much about macro-economics as Mr. Draghi) is issuing dire warnings of a credit bubble, with national and personal debt at record levels threatening a global meltdown. I’m having difficulty reconciling these two propositions, which seem, on the face of it, to be in conflict. But I have a prediction: Draghi may have thrown the kitchen sink at the problem, but the €uro will still go down the plug-hole.
News from Iceland
If we think we had a financial crisis, it was a minor affair compared to the financial tsunami that hit Iceland a few years back. At the time, it was the conventional wisdom that the only solution for Iceland was to join the EU, and that the €uro was the only route to salvation. Iceland applied to join the EU in 2009. But the wheels of Brussels grind slowly, and in the meantime, Iceland devalued and started to claw its way back. For the last six years its GDP growth rate has been close to 3%, and is expected by the IMF to be 3.2% this year. A few weeks ago, Iceland withdrew its application to join the EU. Recent polls show that 70% of Icelanders are happy to be out of the EU. Iceland’s current Prime Minister Sigmund Gunnlaugsson says “There is hardly any doubt that if we had been in the EU and the euro at the time, the country would have been bankrupted”. Shades of Greece. Déja vu all over again.
The Telegraph reports that Iceland sees the EU as “increasingly dominated by Germany”, with the UK “having little say”. Gunnluagsson pours scorn on the idea that if Britain stays in the EU we can achieve further reform. In the same report, Richard Sharp, a member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee, tells the Treasury Select Committee that he is unconcerned about Brexit. “It is not an issue for financial stability” he said.
Wellby: “It’s OK to worry about immigration”
In an astonishing turn-around, the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted that it’s “outrageous” to call those concerned about immigration levels “racist”. Well said Sir. But for years, UKIP has been attacked by the left, and by the church, as “racist” for raising the immigration issue (indeed I believe we can take credit for bringing this untouchable issue into the public square, and for daring to say what millions of our fellow countrymen and women were thinking). This despite the fact that our “points system” immigration policy involves no racial discrimination at all — unlike this Conservative government’s pro-European, anti-Commonwealth immigration policy.
There is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, as the Good Book says, and Welby’s statement is welcome. But maybe he should now apologise on behalf of all those who have played the Race Card in the past, to those who have striven to put this important issue on the table.
Young people not captivated by the EU referendum
The BBC reports an alarming lack of interest in the EU issue amongst young people — who in any case are less likely to vote than older people. As a politician eager that the Referendum result should have legitimacy, I believe they should take an interest (and I’m doing my bit — a public debate tonight at Derby University). But I can’t help also reflecting that older people are more likely to vote to leave (perhaps, I would say, because they’ve had longer to see and understand the mess that EU membership has got us into), so this story looks positive for the Leave Campaign.