Daily Debrief April 4th

“Brexit vote will mean the end of the EU”

The Telegraph reports that Xavier Rolet, head of the London Stock Exchange (currently in merger talks with Deutsche Bőrse) says that Brexit could mean the “implosion” of the EU.  While you may think that this is unequivocal good news, Rolet goes on to make a case for Remain, arguing that an economic melt-down might even require the US to come with a new Marshall Plan to “put Humpty Dumpty together again”.

I take a different view, and I think Humpty Dumpty might work a whole lot better as a creature of parts.  I see Brexit as a step towards a simple European Free Trade Area, with no political superstructure.  Independent, democratic nations linked only by free trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation.  As I’ve said before, Brexit is not the end, but a new beginning.

Scaremongering bites back

The FT reports mounting fears in the currency markets as the EU Referendum approaches.  Of course a certain amount of volatility and irrational paranoia were to be expected in the run-up to any major change in the EU’s architecture.  But I believe that the market concerns have been seriously exacerbated by scaremongering from the Remain camp.  David Cameron and his Remain colleagues bear a heavy load of responsibility here.  They have deliberately sought to drive panic about the possible consequences of Brexit, and to talk up exaggerated risks in the most lurid terms.  They must not be surprised if in talking down Britain’s prospects they also spook the financial markets.  But they bear a very heavy burden of responsibility, and if their prophecies prove partly self-fulfilling, they will not be forgiven.

It’s also worth remembering that when we left the ERM in 1992, and the value of Sterling fell, that started a long-term sustained economic recovery.  Brexit could do likewise.

And contrariwise: You’d expect foreign holidays to get more expensive as the Pound comes under pressure.  But the Express headlines “Holiday Bargains as costs tumble”.  While Sterling may be under pressure from Referendum volatility, the real economies of Southern Europe continue to suffer from economic malaise and the €uro, and holidays are consequently cheap.  One could observe that the €uro has real and underlying problems, whereas the Sterling issue is merely a little froth in financial markets.

“Border chaos threatens deal to deport migrants”

The Times reports that the EU/Turkey deal is threatened with chaos, as the Greeks say they have “no idea” how many migrants will be deported, and far too few EU officials have arrived to implement the plan.  Some reports say that 750 migrants will be deported today; others that today’s figure will be “nothing like 500”.  The initial group are said to be mainly from the Indian sub-continent.  Of course the whole deal is a one-for-one swap, so it makes no net difference to the numbers on either side.  Meantime there is unrest in the holding camps on the Greek Islands, with some migrants reportedly threatening self-immolation if deported, plus protests on the Turkish side by local residents opposed to the plan.  Most reports indicate that only the most vestigial preparations have been made by Turkey to receive the migrants – perhaps a sign that they don’t really expect the programme to go ahead.

EU immigrant numbers: Government promises clarification

There has been huge doubt over statistics on EU immigration into the UK, with official statistics showing around 900,000 since 2010, but 2.25 million NI numbers issued.  Of course the numbers don’t have to tally – EU migrants who apply for NI cards may subsequently go home, and while we count them coming in, we don’t seem to count them going out.  Nonetheless the government, under some pressure from the Leave Campaign on the question, has promised to publish clarification in May – ahead of the Referendum.  It seems inevitable that this will inflame the immigration debate and lend support to the Leave Campaign in the final weeks.

And a good news story on steel – at last

The Telegraph headlines “British Steel to rise from the Ashes” in a story that should warm the cockles in Port Talbot.  Let’s hope they are not disappointed again.  The Meyohas Brothers, of investor Greybull, who are already negotiating to buy part of the Scunthorpe plant, have expressed an interest in Port Talbot, and suggest, engagingly, reviving the “British Steel” name.  Meantime Sanjeev Gupta of Liberty House, who has already done a smaller deal on steel in Scotland, is reportedly planning to meet the government to talk Talbot.  And in an embarrassment of riches, the Guardian reports that German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp (with whom Tata are reputedly setting up a joint venture) has also expressed interest.  Take your pick.  And fingers crossed that something emerges.  The government is making positive noises about supporting any viable rescue project – but concerns are already being raised that government action (for example bailing out Port Talbot’s massive Pension Fund) could fall foul of EU State Aid rules.

An amusing headline in the Mirror: “Time to say Tata, Minister”. Industry Minister Sajid Javid has not had a good crisis.  Caught off-guard in Australia, he has been struggling to catch up, and repeating clichés in the absence of real policy initiatives.  Even making allowances for the Mirror’s anti-government bias, they maybe have a point.

“The Panama Papers”

The Guardian reports on a massive leak of confidential banking data from a Panamanian Law Firm Mossack Fonseca.  Reportedly bigger than Wikileaks or the Snowden data, it allegedly links close associates of Russian President Putin to money laundering activity.  So far no news no links to EU figures – but watch this space.

Yesterday’s Sunday papers: Michael Howard, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Colonel Kemp

The Sunday Telegraph published a double page spread featuring comment from these three figures.

Lord (Michael) Howard gave a very moderate and reasonable defence of the case for Brexit. He clearly regrets being at odds with his former protégé David Cameron and his friend George Osborne, but he has decided to do what he believes is best for his country, and back Brexit.  His argument is simple; we live in dangerous times, and the EU is taking away our control.  As a letter writer to the paper put it recently, “There are risks associated with both leaving and staying.  That being so, I’d rather choose the option where we have some control of events – I’ll vote to leave”.

Fredrik Reinfeldt is less well known, at least in the UK.  He’s a former Prime Minister of Sweden, and he makes a typical argument in favour of Remain. He fears that Cameron may lose the referendum on the basis of “anti-élite sentiment”.  He also says that Britain leaving would be a bad thing for the rest of the EU, and he could be right at that, but our task is to make the right decision for our country – not the best decision for other member-states.  Moreover as I mentioned above my view is that Brexit is not the end but the beginning, and I hope very much it will lead to a radical re-think of the European project, and may even achieve my ideal, of a democratic Europe consisting of independent, democratic states trading freely and cooperating voluntarily, on an intergovernmental basis.

But Fredrik makes one other point that stuck in my throat.  He argued that because the UK is a net EU contributor, and because Brexit would leave a big hole in the EU budget, Brussels would demand a major cash contribution to allow us access to their single market (as per Norway).  Sorry, Fredrik, but free trade doesn’t work like that.  Do Russia and China and the USA (who have no special trade deal with the EU) pay for access to the single market?  They do not.  Nor do Canada and Korea (who do have free trade deals).  Free trade is mutual and reciprocal.  We get access to their market in exchange for them having access to ours.  If anyone is to pay for the privilege, Brussels should pay us, since we buy far more from them than they do from us.

Col Richard Kemp, who once commanded UK troops in Afghanistan, has said it is an “absolute certainty” that if we stay in, the UK would have to allocate troops to the European Army; that this would undermine NATO; and that we should no longer be able to make independent military decisions (like defending the Falklands). Europhiles used to deride the idea of a European Army, saying it was a sceptic scare story that would never come about.  Now, of course it is coming about.  We should heed Col Kemp’s warning.

Safety alert as EU blocks vital checks on doctors’ qualifications

The Mail draws attention to fears that the new European Professional Cards for doctors would allow continental practitioners with inadequate language skills, and quite possibly inadequate professional skills, to practice in the UK, and that our own medical authorities would find it difficult or impossible to challenge them.  Yet another way in which voting to Remain undermines our safety.

British businesses unfazed by Brexit

Despite the CBI’s strong stand against Brexit, their own members’ survey shows considerable confidence which doesn’t appear to have been damaged by the “uncertainty” over the Referendum. The private sector anticipates a strong pick-up in business in the coming months, the figures show.  The proportion expecting increased business until July registered 19%, against a long-term average of 10%.

Opinion polls

Yesterday I reported the Opinium poll giving Leave a 4% lead.  Meantime the National Centre for Social Research has a poll-of-polls showing 51/49 in favour of Remain. Many years of campaigning have taught me to be distrustful of anecdotal impressions from door-knocking or street stalls.  Nonetheless I must confess I am surprised by the roughly 50/50 figures.  I find on street stalls (of which I’ve done a number) the response is much more like 70/30 in favour of Leave.  Throw in a little differential turn-out for good measure, and it seems to me that Leave is in with a shout – indeed rather a loud shout.  Maybe Remain voters just don’t go to High Streets and Market Places.

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9 Responses to Daily Debrief April 4th

  1. ” they will not be forgiven”
    That will be true in any case.
    His so-called reform was and is a bad joke and he seems prepared to destroy this country for no gain at all.

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “little known awkward EU event”
    UKIP’s Nigel Farage In Amsterdam For WEDNESDAY’S Little Known Dutch EU Referendum


    Malcolm Rifkind straightening out a BBC World Service babble brain last night…one of many of those whose speech is poor. Just whats needed for global comms (NOT)? It was about Acts of Parliament for Foreign Aid and… ummmm, BBC funding.

    I worked in Global radio comms systems and a prime requirement apart from power (Kilo watts) was clarity in speech and data assembly/transmission. And just to take the real p*ss they use Skype nearly all the time! You only get what you pay for…with the BBC its far, far less.

  3. Shieldsman says:

    A Frenchman – Xavier Rolet (where do his loyalties lie), head of the London Stock Exchange says that Brexit could mean the “implosion” of the EU.
    Why would Humpty Dumpty have a great fall, is it because our £22million a day nett payment is the glue holding it all together?
    Do these business men really think their jobs are on the line in the great fall out they are predicting, of course not.

    Put simply cannot the EU cope without our membership. David Cameron said the EU was not working and he would fix it. On his return from Brussels he said he wanted the UK to stay in his reformed EU which he repeats about every other day. If he actually reformed it why would it fall apart on our leaving?

    I think another Roger – Bootle speaks common sense. “If Britain voting to leave the EU causes the pound to fall, this is to be welcomed”.

    The scaremongering goes on, the poor kiddy winkies will lose out if we leave the EU.
    Michael Sani, chief executive of democracy campaign group Bite the Ballot Says, “We’re crying out for some good information to be able to make informed decisions and it’s not flowing at the moment. And it is frustrating, terribly frustrating, for young people because whatever impact comes from this decision, they’re going to be most affected – purely because they’ll live longer with it”.

    Scaremongers are feeding duff information to young people, no wonder they are confused. When you have Cabinet Ministers (you know who they are) suggesting young people will not be able to travel to Europe without a visa or study there if we BREXIT, it is a dishonest use of their position. As they are all supposed to be computer literate reference to the internet reveals which countries are open to visa free travel. Besides western European countries were open to visa free travel before we joined the EU.

    Richard North yesterday noted the suggestion by the Irish that if left it would require the establishment of border posts between the north and the south, pointing out the old TIR system was the answer.
    This promted me to look at the scaremongering Richard Branson, he must think he will lose money if we leave the EU. He is suggesting that EasyJet and RyanAir will lose traffic rights in Europe. Shows how little he knows.
    Ryanair Ltd. is an Irish low-cost (pioneered by the UK independent operators) airline headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland, and registered in Ireland. Its rapid expansion, is a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997. Even if traffic rights were contingent on EU membership, RyanAir qualifies as Eire remains in the EU.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    UKIP Invasion Alert

    The website behind the near half a million signatures which prompted the Netherlands’ very own referendum on the European Union has published a humorous video of the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage “sailing” to the country today to observe the vote.

  5. Alan Piggott says:

    I am a tad uneasy about the Leavers having a lead in the polls. This is not supported by the betting odds showing on Betfair. They are odds on to stay in. Do the Betfair punters know something that the rest us don’t. Perhaps they don’t go to the markets and street stalls either !

  6. catweazle666 says:

    Assuming that Brexit is a success, it will be essential that we appoint some really tough negotiators to sort out the large number of matters that will need to be settle – and rapidly.

    That absolutely disqualifies Cameron, his last effort at negotiation was the best example of the old saying about ‘sending a boy to do a man’s job’ I’ve ever seen.

    This is always going to be the problem with professional politicians with their PPEs, due to their utter lack of real-world experience they are going to be easy prey to any serious negotiator from second-hand car salesmen upwards.

    That goes for career Civil Servants too, of course.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Trump spoke about that as regards the screwed USA. Negotiators so far = cr*p. He has his ready…particularly for walls? The spat about NATO is another real good one from him.

      The current t*ssers don’t have this country at heart…just their VI requirements.

  7. Anyoldiron says:

    Wearing the Poppy at the Cenotaph.

    There they will be, again this year,
    Standing straight and true,
    But where are those we remember each year?
    They died, for love of YOU.

    How could they know it was all in vain?
    That they gave their lives for naught,
    Whilst they were so brave and valiant,
    It was for “today’s” weak men, that they fought.

    Weak men that betrayed even the memory
    Of those that fought in the wars,
    Yet they wear the flower of remembrance,
    Theirs is the shame, not yours

  8. Zoilus says:

    It is obvious that the Pound will come under pressure because of the uncertainty as to which group will win. The banks will win either way.

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