Cameron: the agony continues
Today the hounds of the media open up a new front; Most of the papers headline a lifetime gift of £200,000 to Cameron from his mother, which could potentially avoid death duties of £80,000. The Telegraph puts it politely: “Cameron in line to avoid inheritance tax of £80,000”, while the Mirror is snidely patronising: “Cameron’s £200,000 gift from Mummy”
Quite genuinely, I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Cameron. Lifetime gifts are a perfectly legitimate, responsible and prudent method of tax planning, regularly used by thousands – maybe millions – of parents and grandparents up and down the land. So why is it headline news when Mrs Cameron senior does the same? Of course Prime Ministers (like Cæsar’s wife) should be above suspicion. But if we also expect them to walk on water, we shall soon run out of suitable candidates. With masterly understatement, Cameron has admitted that “he could have handled the issue better”. Indeed.
Those who feel that any kind of tax avoidance is wrong should ask themselves if they have pension schemes or ISAs – both of which, like lifetime gifts, are proper and legitimate tools for tax avoidance and planning. We should also be asking serious questions about what our American cousins call “The Death Tax”. Arguably it is neither fair nor economically efficient.
Meantime Cameron has also published what is claimed to be the most comprehensive account of his personal financial affairs ever issued by any Prime Minister. The press will be all over it. This story will run and run. The Express is now raising questions about Sam Cam’s wealth. Given that her father reportedly earned £350,000 a year from wind farm subsidies, maybe he’s thinking in terms of lifetime gifts as well.
Cameron’s leaflet: the fight-back
The Telegraph reports that Tory Eurosceptic MPs in Westminster are planning a new campaign against the government’s (or part of the government) pro-EU leaflet. Bill Cash is to table an amendment to the Budget tomorrow that would lift the spending limit during the ten-week referendum campaign. That would go some way toward levelling the playing field – although it still leaves an imbalance of £9 million of tax-payers’ money on the Remain side.
It’s official: the EU is making us poorer
The Express reports that German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has actually declared that the EU is making low-paid workers and pensioners (whom he patronisingly refers to as “the little people”) worse off. Of course UKIP has been pointing out for years that uncontrolled immigration causes wage compression. But it is remarkable to have that view publicly confirmed by a senior European Finance Minister.
Herr Gabriel adds that “”What the European Central Bank is doing now is for many savers, for little people, for workers, for pensioners, an expropriation”. He means of course that negative interest rates applied by the ECB are a disaster for savers, and reduce the value of pensions savings.
Dan Hannan likes to say that the EU is making us poorer, and less democratic, and less free. It is gratifying that the German Finance Minister should resoundingly confirm the first of those points in the middle of the Brexit Referendum Debate.
Defence Minister: “Brussels is harming UK security”
Defence Minister Julian Brazier MP has confirmed what UKIP has been arguing for some time – that EU policies (for example its overtures to Kiev) are provoking Russia, and so reducing the security of Western Europe in general and of the UK in particular. It’s good to have our view confirmed by a government minister.
EU propaganda in schools: it gets worse
Yesterday I reported on the Sun’s story that the EU was targeting crass comic-books at British schoolchildren. Now we hear that a European parliament report “Learning EU at school” sets out to incentivise teachers to present a positive picture of the EU – in other words, political propaganda for a highly contentious view. It’s time we recalled that the 1944 Education Act requires contentious views to be presented in schools (if at all) in a balanced way. Will the EU also fund the alternative view? I suspect not. The report in the Express carries an extended quote from Paul Nuttall MEP. The EU is explicitly trying to introduce EU propaganda lessons into school curricula across the continent.
Germany, not Brexit, will destroy the €urozone
Excellent article by Stewart Cowley arguing that the fundamental imbalances within the €urozone, and especially Germany’s massive current account surpluses set against losses for southern Europe, will be the main factor causing a break-up of the €urozone. Well worth a read.
Can’t check doctors, can’t check dentists
On April 4th, I reported a story that EU rules, and the new EU European Professional cards, will prevent medical authorities from checking the language and professional skills of doctors from EU countries. I suppose it was wearily predictable, but it seems that the same applies to dentists. The Mail reports the story, adding that foreign dentists from EU countries are four times as like to be struck off as British dentists. But we mustn’t let patients’ health and well-being stand in the way of the EU’s integrationist ideology, must we?
Migrant crisis: more deaths at sea
The BBC reports what it says are the first deaths of migrants in the Aegean since the EU/Turkey deal came into force a week ago. Sadly, five people are reported dead. Meantime the EU’s deportation programme is still struggling to get going.
“Hug a Brit” campaign for Remain
The Indy reports a campaign by Europeans in London (clearly and properly using the term “European” to mean “continental not British”) to “love bomb” Brits, taking photos of them hugging and posting the photos with the hash-tag #PleaseDontGoUK. This is the kind of naff initiative more likely to drive us into the Brexit camp. But more worryingly, it shows a disturbing failure to understand what Brexit is about. It’s not about animosity or Xenophobia or isolation or marginalisation or blowing up the Channel Tunnel. It’s not about dislike or prejudice directed against Europeans. It’s not about rejecting our history or shared culture.
It’s about freedom and self-determination and democracy. It’s about rejecting not people, but a flawed system of governance. It’s about being good neighbours, not bad tenants. I’m sure that Brits will hug Europeans after Brexit, but we will do so as free men and women, not as a subject people in a remote off-shore province of a country called Europe.