Cameron backs wealth
In the Commons yesterday, the Prime Minister made an heroic effort to get back on the front foot by defending wealth – and the right of parents to pass their wealth on to their children. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was not impressed. It has perhaps forgotten Peter Mandelson’s aperçu that he was “intensely relaxed if people get filthy rich”. Cameron’s defence of wealth and the right to property might have carried more weight if it had not followed close on the heels of the tax-and-offshore-funds scandal, and the personal attacks on Cameron himself.
Meantime the Mirror lambasts George Osborne because the tax changes he recently introduced will benefit him personally by £2,500 a year (not, I should think, a life-changing sum on the Osborne household). The “i”, on the other hand, leads with the story that Osborne is to publish his own tax details. But as Google doesn’t seem to recognise the“i” (silly name) here’s the link to the same story from the Guardian.
Cameron’s EU “deal” under threat from the European parliament
Cameron’s much-vaunted “renegotiation” of the UK’s EU membership terms (in fact the changes he’s claiming are trivial) has come under attack from a leading German Liberal MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who is also a Vice President of the parliament. Lambsdorff said that the Council had “gone too far” in purporting to have reached an agreement with the UK. He insists that it is not a position of the EU as a whole, and that the deal such as it is must be subject to the consent of the parliament. He goes so far as to say: “At the moment, the whole thing is nothing more than a deal that has been hammered out down the local bazaar”.
The Express has picked up the story and presents it in its usual robust style. So when we vote on June 23rd, we have to be clear that even Cameron’s minor concessions can be voted down in Strasbourg. And very likely will be.
In a furious debate in the Commons yesterday, Europe Minister David Lidington had the unenviable task of trying to defend the indefensible – the government’s £9 million pro-EU leaflet. But in a withering speech John Redwood said that public anger over the plan will persuade more voters to vote for Brexit. Meantime Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire in his own party for failing to show enough energy and commitment for the Remain campaign. But then energy and commitment are not his strong suit.
The leaflet will be going out in England very shortly (Wales, Scotland and N Ireland come after their own elections). Be ready to post the offending material back to Downing Street!
“Brexit would save the NHS”
The ding-dong over the impact of Brexit on the NHS goes on, but the Remainians are not having it all their own way. The Times reports that fifty medical professionals have called for Brexit in order to free up more funds for the NHS. A choice – would you rather send £10 billion to Brussels? Or to the health service?
John Longworth on Brexit
John Longworth is the former head of British Chambers of Commerce. He resigned recently following enormous pressure on him after he expressed a personal view that the UK should leave the EU. Writing in the Guardian recently, he said that he had resigned “in order to tell the truth about Brexit”. In his article, he says “Anti-Brexit multinational corporations, which represent only around 5% of the businesses in Britain, are short-termist and narrowly focused ……. It is outrageous, in my view, that these corporations have signed up to the EU cause without reference to their shareholders, customers or employees – just as outrageous as the government using taxpayers’ money to fund the pro-EU case”.
Of course Mr. Longworth is absolutely right. But there is one other point that should be made, and that is the huge extent of EU patronage. These large corporations are greatly affected by EU decisions, and they therefore value access and favourable attention from the EU Commission. They will not get that access, and that favourable response, unless they toe the Party Line. Step out of line on Brexit (or on climate change), and they’ll face a hostile Commission. The Commission’s patronage is dangerous and anti-democratic – but also real and powerful. The only solution is Brexit.
And David Miliband (remember him?) on Brexit
Fresh from the sound-bite factory, David Miliband says “Now is not the time for unilateral political disarmament”. Good line, David, but you’re out of touch with reality. Give the man a banana.
Collapse of waste treatment plants
The Mail reports the closure of two of the UK’s largest recycling plants, in Lancashire. This will cause extensive redundancies, and industry experts warn that such closures could be repeated elsewhere – such are the economics of recycling. The plants were opened nine years ago based on a £2 billion Private Finance Initiative. The Australian company behind the plan, Global Renewables, said it would treat and recycle 300,000 tons of domestic rubbish each year. But with falling commodity prices, the scheme ceased to be viable. Two years ago the operation was taken over by Lancashire County Council, but it can no longer afford the losses. So the plants will be mothballed and the waste diverted to landfill.
And why the over-ambitious targets for recycling? Why EU recycling targets and landfill taxes, of course! So another green dream bites the dust. But it’s not just recycling. Across the Atlantic, there was Solyndra, an ambitious solar power project which President Obama described as “leading the way to a brighter and more prosperous future”. In 2009 it received a $535 million loan from the US taxpayer. In 2011 it went belly-up. And today there’s SunEdison, another major solar company which is reportedly in serious trouble. Reuter reports that SunEdison’s problems “imperil solar projects worldwide”.
Another story about grandiose and extravagant schemes to meet EU climate and emission objectives: there is a plan to convert Leeds into a “hydrogen city“, at a cost of £2 billion. This would involve a massive programme to convert all gas appliances in the city from natural gas to hydrogen – and while hydrogen emits no CO2 when burned, natural gas is already relatively low-emission compared to other fossil fuels. One can imagine that the switch-over will be a bit like switching from left-hand-drive to right-hand-drive in a phased programme with some vehicles driving on the right and some on the left during the transition period. A recipe for a car-crash.
What these ideological zealots forget is that hydrogen is not a primary fuel. It doesn’t come out of the ground like natural gas. You have to electrolyse water to get hydrogen, and that itself takes lots of energy. It’s a bit like electric cars – no emissions at the point of use, but rather a lot if the original power comes from coal.
The main effect of the Leeds plan (apart from local chaos) will be to make the UK even less competitive, to make energy more expensive, and to drive away energy-intensive businesses. Meantime China and India will keep building coal-fired power stations, will keep undercutting us in global markets, and will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Stop the travelling circus!
As I write in Strasbourg, I reflect that I spend three nights a week, twelve weeks a year in a Strasbourg hotel (admittedly a fairly modest one). That means that for seventeen years I’ve spent roughly ten percent of all my nights in a Strasbourg hotel, at the taxpayers’ expense – as have 750 other MEPs, give or take. There’s only one way to stop this nonsense – the only way is Brexit.