Another day when few EU issues make the front pages, which are dominated amongst the serious papers by the fall-out from George Osborne’s Budget, and in the popular papers by the genuinely tragic death of PC David Phillips. We read that before driving at the PC, the young thug involved shouted “Watch this!” to his passenger. But reportedly the jury were not told this until after the verdict.
There is of course a link between the Osborne story and Brexit, since two of the primary protagonists for Remain, Cameron and Osborne, now look significantly diminished. Stephen Crab, the new Work & Pensions Secretary, announced “an end to the cuts”, leaving a £4½ billion hole in Osborne’s budget. It’s worth reflecting that this hole could be filled immediately, and twice over, by leaving the EU.
Brexit “would not lead to exodus of bankers”
The front page of the Telegraph Business News headlines “”Brexit would not lead to exodus of bankers from the UK”. They quote reports from the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and from Moody’s. There are of course the usual caveats – it will be important to get new arrangements in place quickly. Nonetheless the overall tone is positive, and gives the lie to those who say that the City of London would migrate to Frankfurt and Zurich. We recall that they made exactly the same predictions with regard to €uro membership, and were proved spectacularly wrong.
EU/Turkey deal in chaos
It seems the EU/Turkey deal has run into a legal blockage. It’s a technical point over the status of Afghans and Iraqis. Turkey will not give them refugee status, which would prevent them being deported to war zones. But without it, returning them to Turkey from Greece becomes illegal under international law. Impasse.
Meantime, the practical arrangements on the ground are scarcely starting to be put in place, and pieces of paper signed in Brussels are having no impact on the rate of migrant arrivals. The EU/Turkey deal is starting to look like a dead letter before the ink is dry.
MEP calls for legal action against EU to allow access to migrants
Yes. You read that right. Ana Gomes, a Portuguese Socialist MEP, has called for legal action by MEPs against the Commission, demanding that they give full access to all migrants who choose to come to the EU.
EU/UK trade balance
We believe that after Brexit we’ll be in a very strong negotiating position with the EU, because we buy so much more from them than they do from us. Virtually twice as many cars (by value). The Remainians counter by saying OK, but the continental EU is much bigger. They’re 42% of our exports, while we’re only 7% of their exports. Viewed that way, they matter more to us.
I responded (in my open letter to John Major) that you pay the bills not with percentages, but with folding money, and that there’s no way the rump-EU could afford to lose what will then be its biggest customer in the world. But Tim Hammond, commenting on my blog, puts it in far more demotic terms:
“It is like saying that Chelsea play 100% of their games against Premier League clubs, but the other Premier League clubs only play 5% of their games against Chelsea. That is “true”, but meaningless”.
Terrorist attacks in Brussels
As I write, there has been a bomb (or bombs) at Brussels Zaventum Airport, with many casualties, followed apparently (news is still sketchy) by a series of explosions at Metro stations. I and my staff are unscathed, though Rachael was rather close to one of the Metro explosions and is consequently a bit shaken – she gamely came on and in to the office. Allison Pearson has Tweeted “Brussels, de facto capital of the EU, is also the jihadist capital of Europe. And the Remainians dare to say we’re safer in the EU! #Brexit“, and been condemned by trolls for “exploiting the injured”. Nonsense. She’s rightly drawing attention to the lies at the heart of the Remain campaign, and deserves credit for it. Our security matters. We need to control our borders. We need to leave the EU.
Where Britain leads, Europe follows
We in Britain are rightly focused first and foremost on our own referendum on June 23rd. But in a very real sense, British independence is not an end, but a new beginning. We may be the first: I don’t believe we shall be the last. In Germany, we’ve seen the rapid growth of Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), from a 5% party to 20%+ results in recent regional elections, on the back of concerns about Merkel’s immigration policy, and there are now demands for a German referendum on the EU.
In France, a recent poll showed that 53% of the French people favour a “Frexit” referendum – an alarming figure for Brussels in one of the original six founding members. As many as 25% oppose free movement, following the Paris attacks. There is increasing talk of EU exit in The Netherlands and the Czech Republic. This last Saturday I spoke at the well-attended annual Conference of the Lithuanian Order & Justice Party in Vilnius, and talk of a radical new order in Europe was well-received.
I have a vision of a Europe of independent, democratic nation states, bound together by nothing more than free trade and voluntary intergovernmental negotiation. And I believe that Brexit will kick-start the process to achieve it. Once again, Britain will have saved itself by its exertions, and Europe by its example.