Daily Debrief April 10th

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.



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13 Responses to Daily Debrief April 10th

  1. The BBC and the Remainers have been very successful in conflating Europe and the eu.

    It would be helpful if the deployment of this eu/Europe conflation is challenged in debates (especially those on broadcast media). I know this takes up valuable airtime and may seem pedantic, but it colours the whole debate.

    The eu is not Europe. The eu is anti-European.

    • rfhmep says:

      A critical point, Kendall, and we try to make it. I once tried to distinguish between a country and a political system by saying “Love Cambodia, hate Pol Pot”. I’m not sure everyone was comfortable with that, though.

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Hug a Brit? That’ll be the crowd of N. London numb nuts I suspect. Those that babble/giggle round a table on BBC R4 quite often.

    I did observe the Turkish Coast Guard (whatever) circling the invaders in their inflatable boats. Huge patrol boat engines whipping up quite some water disturbance very near those boats as they circled them. Killers I thought….not guards of anything. Every time the name Turkey comes up I think…Midnight Express.

    Anyway, blame Putin and his mates for…ummm everything. And he gets a US prisoner released from more killers in Syria. Usually that stuff about hostages would be all over the media with a mix of send £3 a month for blankets/snow leopards etc. Hardly a word on it…is there?

  3. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

    I too feel a bit sorry for Cameron. The points about tax planning are well made and used up and down the land all the time, regardless of political stance. Try messing with a left winger’s pension and see what happens.

    I accept that what he has done is legal, although why his dad had to go all the way to Panama seems a little curious. However, I am only a bit sorry for him because a few years ago, he was castigating big US corporations for using the rules to reduce tax, suggesting such behaviour was immoral. Maybe it was, but he makes the rules and he can change them, subject of course to EU rules, so the solution was within his powers as it was when Labour was on its wrecking spree.

    Very simply, what he and millions of other people do is either legal or illegal. Either way, it is up to HMRC to deal with it, something HMRC seems curiously reluctant to do. I hope that Jimmy Carr can now revert to his ‘aggressive’ avoidance scheme with a clear conscience.

    As for death duties, they are iniquitous to the extreme. People have worked hard during their life, paid their direct taxes and let us not forget, a huge chunk of indirect taxes too. Their wealth has been fairly gained. If that was not the case, it would have been confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act. To take another 40% when they die is plain wrong. I wonder if there is a committee somewhere working out how to tax embryos. Everybody else in the total life cycle is being hammered.

    • rfhmep says:

      As Reagan famously put it: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it”.

      • Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

        I do believe that you have just written the perfect description of the EU. It should be embroidered on that godawful flag.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    The general term as regards taxes is:

    We are being farmed. The higher the yield the better.

    • rfhmep says:

      Jean Baptiste-Colbert, Finance Minister to Louis XIV, famously said: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing”.

  5. Shieldsman says:

    As Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says the Cameron’s were using sensible inheritance tax planning. With house prices rocketing away, heirs are soon in the 40% tax bracket.
    More relevant was the off-shore tax avoidance schemes.
    Everytime the wealthy Chairman, CEO or Banker writes in support of EU membership one has to wonder whats in it for them. We know of course the ex-Commissioner for the sake of his pension is honour bound to support EU membership.

    Christopher Booker: The historians may note that David Cameron’s supposedly “renegotiated relationship” with the EU was even more of a joke than that claimed by Harold Wilson – and that the propaganda pamphlet he sent to every household was even flimsier and more cynical than that sent by the Wilson government in 1975.
    They may observe that, as it floundered through crises on every side, the EU looked in so much more dismal a state than it had done 41 years earlier that, if Britain was not already a member, few in 2016 would have good reason for joining it.

    Well many of us know that ” I want to stay in this Reformed European Union” was just a charade and nothing changed for the other 27member States. Its just the Media, especially the BBC will come out and say Cameron lied, nothing changed as a result of his Brussels visit.

    Back to Booker, what does he want the negotiatiing stance to be, does he want it to be Richard North’s flecit. He should bear in mind that as things stand, if David Cameron remains PM and in charge, having already rejected the Norway option, the basic aim of a return to a free trade relationship could be lost.

    Leaving aside the Lisbon Treaty which the amateur bullion dealer Gordon Brown signed without asking the Public, much will remain in the form of International agreements the UK has made with other European Countries over the years. Adding these agreements to the Brussels paperwork does not make them the exclusive right of the EU Commission.

  6. rfhmep says:

    Many in major industries feel impelled to speak positively of the EU. Otherwise, the next time they have an issue on which they wish to lobby the Commission, they’ll be out on their ear.

  7. MIKE MAUNDER says:

    There are, apparently, many people who don’t know which way to vote on the E.U. Could it be arranged for Roger Helmer to talk to these people, via video. He is time served with the E.U. He has the facts to hand, with a personality that is pleasant and direct. Although a member of UKIP, he does not seem to just push on the Party. An easily understood teacher !

  8. Ex-expat Colin says:

    EU subsidises the CHINESE steel which is decimating British industry


    Don’t bother to discuss..just get out!

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