Daily Debrief March 14th


Boris attacks Obama over Brexit

In his Telegraph column today, Boris Johnson launches a scathing attack on President Obama’s “hypocrisy” over Brexit, remarking quite rightly that the USA itself would never contemplate such infringements of its sovereignty as EU membership involves. The USA hasn’t even signed up to the International Criminal Court.  It (wisely) never signed up to the Kyoto protocol.  But it wantsBritain to remain signed up to the whole nine yards of European integration.

Yesterday I Tweeted “The USA fought and won a War of Independence. Obama of all people should understand our campaign for British Independence”.  And: “Barack Obama is widely regarded as the least pro-British US President in living memory. Maybe that’s why he opposes #Brexit”.  Barack Obama is of course a lame-duck President at the fag-end of his unspectacular Presidency, and seemingly can’t wait to get back to the golf course.  He’s prepared to do a last favour for his friend David Cameron, even if it means (perhaps because it means) leaving Britain as an offshore province in someone else’s country — a star on someone else’s flag.

The BBC this morning was remarking that America was united against Brexit.  That may be true of the Democrats, but some in the Republican Party are starting to take a clearer view.  

The post-Brexit Blueprint

A regular theme of the Remain Camp is to complain that the Leave Campaign “can’t say what the alternative is”, what trade deals the UK might have — or might have to negotiate — after Brexit.  In yesterday’s papers, Justine Greening MP  (who so far as I can see has no experience of international trade — the arena in which I spent much of my career) says we should “cut the rhetoric and give the public clear details on how Brexit would work”.

Two immediate responses might be:

1        OK, Justine, no one can predict the future exactly — just as you can’t tell us how the EU will work (or whether Turkey will be a member) in five years’ time.  But we have a pretty good idea.

2        Justine, you could try asking the dozens of countries (including the USA, Russia andChina) which trade successfully with the EU, despite not being in the “Single Market”.  And you could reflect on the fact that on average those non-EU countries are performing significantly better than the EU in economic terms.

We have a safety-net:  The fact is that we on the Leave side are constantly spelling out the probable pattern of trade relations we can expect after Brexit.  First of all, we have a securesafety-net — this in no “leap in the dark”.  That safety-net consists of WTO rules, which are the basis on which dozens of countries trade successfully with the EU.  Secondly, as I have repeatedly argued, there will be overwhelming economic pressure on both the UK and the EU to negotiate a rapid and timely free-trade deal.  Thirdly, there is every reason to suppose that existing EU free trade deals (like Korea, for example) will simply be grandfathered to the UK.  This will be a win-win deal for all parties.  Fourthly, we will be free to set up new bilateral trade deals with the rest of the world, where the EU so far hasn’t bothered.  If Switzerland and even little Iceland can do trade deals with China, I’m sure that the UK, as the world’s fifth biggest economy, can do so.  And we can pursue deals with big, growing Commonwealth countries, like India.  The opportunities are mouth-watering.

The truth is, Justine, that we have a clearer picture of the future of an independent UK than you have of the future EU, threatened as it is by several existential crises.  Leaving the EU gives us greater economic security than staying in.

Storm Clouds over Turkey

The Indy leads with the terror attack in capital city Ankara which has left dozens dead and a hundred wounded. Turkish officials have been quick to blame Kurdish rebels, though some point the finger of blame at ISIL. Turkey is the country that Brussels wants to fast-track into the EU.  It’s a country with a population of 75 million (larger than the UK, and soon to be larger than Germany), mostly Turkish Muslims, but a fifth or so Kurds.  For decades there has been tension between the army, which is broadly secular, and civilian politicians, many of whom seek a more Islamic stance.  Tension also between Turks and Kurds.

Turkey has borders with Syria, Iran and Iraq, and the Kurds are seeking an independent state that would intrude into what is currently Eastern Turkey.  They could get one when the dust settles in Syria.  Turkey is a poor country.  Per capita GDP is $11,000, making Turkey poorer than most countries in the EU, where the current average is $32,400 (compare the UK figure of $42,000).  An immediate result of Turkish accession would be the diversion of EU agricultural and cohesion funds away from Western Europe to the east.

As part of its increasingly desperate attempts to address its migrant crisis, Brussels proposes to offer Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen area by June of this year, and to fast-track Turkish accession to the EU (which has been on the back-burner for decades).  If Turkey joins the EU, its citizens will be free to come to Britain.

Brussels plan in tatters: The bizarre migrant swap plan proposed between the EU and Turkey has been roundly attacked by the UN and humanitarian organisations, as potentially illegal. They are saying that every migrant that Brussels intends to return to Turkey will be entitled to an individual tribunal hearing — a process that could take decades, with no certain outcome.  It clearly won’t work, and may not even get past the European Council scheduled for later this week.  Member states are also asking serious questions about the funding of the €6 billion deal.

A million Turks in Britain?  No one knows how many Turks would come to Britain if Turkey joined the EU.  Certainly previous estimates of migration have been overwhelmed by reality.  It is not unreasonable to expect that several millions of Turks would want to move westwards, seeking better security, jobs, higher wages and a better life.  Many might be attracted to the UKby the proposed “living wage”, which (while good from many angles) will certainly increase the pull factor. It is by no means inconceivable that a million might choose to come to Britain.

Merkel humiliated as AfD surges

Most of the serious papers cover the regional elections in Germany yesterday, where Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats got a bloody nose at the hands of Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), described in some papers as “a far-right party”.  The Mail gives the flavour: “Crushing verdict on open-door migration: Merkel humiliated as German voters turn to far-right party”.

The German press was pretty clear: Bilt headlines “Nightmare for Germany”, obviously concerned about the ghosts of Germany’s past.  Yet the description of AfD as “Far Right” deserves closer examination.  The party was started by academic economists and constitutional lawyers concerned about the direction of European integration.  It was almost too esoteric and academic to be a political party at all.  The immigration issue seemed to come almost unexpectedly, and coalesced around AfD as the only party prepared to break the politically-correct convention that “We don’t talk about immigration” (as was the case with UKIP in the UK).  I don’t see them as “Far Right” — rather as a rational common sense party responding to the legitimate concerns of citizens.  They deserve our congratulations for their achievement, and Merkel may rue the day she put her personal prejudices ahead of the verdict of the people.

Prize for best headline

This must surely go to the new paper “New Day”, reporting on the costs of child-care: “Crèche and burn”.  Brilliant.


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8 Responses to Daily Debrief March 14th

  1. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Cattle Truck Holiday Alert
    ABTA lobs a widespread disaster at Leaving:


    We’d rob all those EU southern states of major incomes. Eastbourne anybody?

    If they got rid of that Euro widespread disaster it might be good to go there…. again. I certainly miss Italy.

  2. Shieldsman says:

    Oh, that Greening woman again, I mentioned her yesterday. She runs the department that gives the funny money away, tho 0.7% of GDP which Osborne borrows and turns out to be £12billion in real money
    One of the more bizarre mysteries of contemporary British politics is the ironclad, almost fanatical intensity of the government’s commitment to foreign aid spending and the activities of DFID, the Department for International Development. The Times reveals today that Britain is paying professional aid staff up to £1,000 a day to work in Africa and Asia as part of a spending ‘frenzy’ to meet a government target.

    I thought Simon Heffer’s article yesterday was very good and I added the following comment, though I note you cover the BREXIT blueprint today.
    No one appears to realise the almost impossibility of answering the charge tell us (Brexiteers) what your plans are for leaving the EU.
    David Cameron has been acting like a one man band and in fact he is still PM in charge of a divided Cabinet and Government. In practice unless he stands down when we vote to leave it will be his task to negotiate our leaving.
    He said he had no plans, so perhaps he never envisaged being in his present position, and it all unfolded by accident. The Bloomburg speech, all his fault finding with the EU and the manifesto promise to rectify them were to keep his backbenchers and the Conservative voter on board.
    What were those promises made to the Tory faithful and the Public?
    The EU is too bureaucratic and too undemocratic. It interferes too much in our daily lives, and the scale of migration triggered by new members joining in recent years has had a real impact on local communities.
    Conservatives believe in controlled immigration, not mass immigration. When immigration is out of control, it puts pressure on schools, hospitals and transport; and it can cause social pressures if communities find it hard to integrate. We will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and then ask the British people whether they want to stay in the EU on this reformed basis or leave.
    The predicament he finds himself in is because he would never be allowed to lead an out vote and his fall back position – I will reform the EU, has been exposed as false.

    There were no Treaty changes made on the 19th February. There was a promise made to revisit the treaties at a future date and insert a clause to the effect “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.”
    Those three little words ‘ever closer union’ will remain.

    The best knock-down was: 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. (This was printed a few days ago)……………….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.

    Rushing around trying to scare the Public with preposterous woes to vote to remain is just digging a bigger hole.

    Every time David Cameron opens his mouth he puts his foot in it or is it his sock.
    Sir, – In his speech to workers in Ellesmere Port on Thursday, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, claimed that leaving the EU could result in an increase in the price of socks. That is worrying indeed, until you realise that in the town centre of Ellesmere Port, virtually every pair of socks is imported from China.
    The price of the Prime Minister’s may rise if wears European-sourced footwear, but I am sure he can afford it.
    Linda Ledward

    I do get a laugh and a wry smile at all the shenanigans. Read Charles Moore today:
    In any event, Sir Nicholas is unwise to point the finger at politicians for breaking royal confidences. The most recent leading member of the Cabinet who unambiguously did this is the man who reported that the Queen was “purring down the phone” after the result of the Scottish referendum last year. That man was David Cameron. Does Sir Nicholas want him out too?

  3. Jane Davies says:

    I’m at a loss for words at the stupidity of those who think having Turkey join the EU is a good move. What is the game plan here, to fast track the destruction of the EU? Because as sure as eggs is eggs this is what will happen, why can these idiots not see this.
    The UK must leave before this happens or there will be a war on the streets of our once great country as the different religions, imported by Merkel, fight for supremacy.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Just guessing…they’ll all want jobs in London? Or perhaps Birmingham. Could get a bit sparky I think? Those places are rammed already and tribal to quite an extent.

      There was a case to build a wall round Iraq when that kicked off..seems the walls are appearing further north these days. Pretty soon most any border will be double barbed.

      Police state/continent anybody?

  4. Edward M says:

    Thanks for the succinct post-Brexit blueprint – its useful material to have when persuading undecided voters.
    It would also be useful to have a list of unpalatable proposals that the EU has put on hold and Lisbon powers the EU has yet to, but will be adopting.
    I agree about what you say about AfD – having listened to Bernd Lucke of the AfD at the Bruges Group – its a mild party whose origins were in rational concerns about the economic direction of the EU, certainly not far-right.

    • Edward, we need to nail down our membership of the Common Market (EEA) before we start to negotiate. Also we need the EU to recognise where we are heading too. If we join EFTA and accept Associate membership within EFTA, then the EU will know where we stand.
      This is not permanent: just while we negotiate.
      The negotiations, mind, may take several years, and during that time, we need to be safe.
      Mr Erdogan has demonstrated how to negotiate with the EU: Mr Cameron has just demonstrated how not to.

  5. Shieldsman says:

    I have just been reading ‘the best of both worlds’, it is a myth and is liberally sprinkled with ‘this reformed European Union’.
    EU Referendum:summary and analysis of the new Settlement for the UK in the EU on page 3 says it is not a binding EU treaty or law in itself.
    The three reports: The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom’s special status in a reformed European Union, Alternatives to membership: possible models for the United Kingdom outside the European Union and The process for withdrawing from the European Union.

    These documents were obviously prepared a long time ago, they did not materialise on the night of 19/20th February. They were preplanned and awaiting the return from Brussels when Cameron would exclaim- Eureka! I have reformed the European Union.

    We know it is not a treaty change and cannot have reformed the EU as it does not apply to the other member states. Nothing changed on the 19th February, our status remains the same we are in the same world as we were on the 18th. There is no intention of removing ‘ever closer union’ from the treaty

    If any thing we are in a worse position, the following paragraph was slipped in to negate our exclusion from further political integration.
    “(UK) will not create obstacles to but facilitate such further deepening (economic and monetary union) while this process will, conversely, respect the rights and competences of non participating member states”

    Freedom of Movement remains, so no control of migration from the EU member states.

    A vote to leave is a unilateral decision by the United KIngdom and whatever trade treaties are agreed, whether EFTA, WTO or a modified EEA, Freedom of Movement must not be included.

  6. martinbrumby says:

    You are a bit unfair about the fragrant Justine Greening, Roger.
    As others have pointed out she has loads of experience in picking the pockets of ordinary working people in order to enrich tin-pot dictators across the world.
    She also was in charge at the Department of Transport when the West Coast Main Line contract fiasco went belly up. Not international trade – she made enough of a horlicks of national trade contracts!
    Anyone except Dave Boy would have nipped her Ministerial career in the bud then, never mind shunting her into the “foreign aid” cesspit.
    Just the lass to criticise Brexit. Not.

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