Tory Civil War
There’s only one real story today, and it’s the Tory Civil War. First it was splits over the Referendum, but now they’re fighting like ferrets in a sack over The Budget, and George Osborne, and the IDS Resignation. The serious papers are remarkably consistent. Indy: “IDS twists the knife”. The “I”: “Explosive exit of a quiet man”. Guardian: “Tories plunge into open warfare”. FT: “Cameron fights to calm civil war”. Mail: “Civil War engulfs the Tories”. Nonetheless, the Daily Express manages to find an EU angle, headlining “New Boost for EU Exit Hopes”, making much of the damage that the Tory Turmoil will do to the credibility of the Remain Campaign.
They are surely right. At the very least, this is a massive distraction (in referendum terms) for the two main protagonists of Remain — Cameron and Osborne. Both are diminished personally, and are less able to inspire a confident vision of a future for Britain in the EU
CBI Study: Brexit to cost £100 bn and a million jobs
Several papers carry the story of a report commissioned by the CBI from accountants PwC which estimates that Brexit would cost £100bn, and a million jobs. If the reference to the CBI didn’t ring any alarm bells in your mind, then the suspiciously convenient round figures perhaps ought to.
The way firms like PwC operate is rather like a computer model — indeed I’ve no doubt that PwC has a very sophisticated computer model of the British economy. You feed in assumptions and one end, and Bingo! Out come the predictions at the other end. There is perhaps a read-across here from the climate industry, where predictions of computer models have been undermined repeatedly by subsequent experience. But as any computer buff will tell you, there’s a basic rule: “Garbage in, Garbage Out”. Someone has to make the assumptions, and plug them into the system. The consistent approach of the Remain side has been to make the most adverse assumptions possible, and to present them in the most damaging light. Running them through PwC’s econometric model doesn’t validate false assumptions.
The CBI’s earlier claim that “Brexit will cost every British family £3000 a year” was comprehensively trashed by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. They seem to be looking for a way to recycle it in different words.
But Brexiteers should take encouragement: for fifteen years they’ve been telling us that leaving the EU puts three million jobs at risk. Now it’s only one million. That’s progress.
In any case, the EU is a job-destruction machine. We are “Creating an industrial massacre on Europe”, as former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani remarked. Plants are closing, energy-intensive businesses are moving aboard, taking their jobs and their investment with them. The CBI should be worrying about the jobs we’re losing here and now, because of EU polices, not about biased predictions on the threat of Brexit. Ask the steelworkers.
“British expats back Brexit”
An interesting little story that cropped up yesterday. The assumption is always that British expats back staying in the EU. They too have been bombarded by extreme threats of what Brexit would mean. They’d become “illegal immigrants” overnight. They’d be deported in droves. They’d lose access to healthcare and social welfare and so on. And as for pensions….!
A related point: Remainians love to say “OK, maybe we have two million European immigrants in the UK. But don’t forget that there are two million Brits living across Europe. It’s a two-way traffic”. What they forget to mention is that many of the Brits in Europe are well-heeled and middle class, who sold a nice stock-broker home in Esher and took the proceeds to Spain, whereas many (not all) of the European immigrants in Britain are poor and unskilled Eastern Europeans. The numbers may be in broad balance — the net worth is not. There were British expats living perfectly happily in Spain before we joind the Common Market in 1973, and there will still be British expats in Spain after we leave
But the news is that while, indeed, many British expats will vote to Remain, many more will vote to leave. Some of the groups that Remain thought were in the bag — expats, the Asian Community — are still in play.