Day One of the Official Campaign
Yesterday saw Boris Johnson speaking at a Leave campaign event in Manchester. As always, he was ready with the memorable phrase, comparing the Remain Campaign to the notorious remarks of jeweller Gerald Ratner, which wiped half a billion from the value of his company. Like Ratner (says Boris) the Remain Campaign has a dodgy product which they don’t really believe in themselves (as evident in Jeremy Corbyn’s EU speech), and of which they are secretly ashamed. Yet they still try to pass it off on the unsuspecting public.
Never short of hard-hitting similes, Boris also likened voting Remain to “being locked in a mini-cab with a dodgy sat-nav and a driver who speaks no English”. The Mirror describes Boris as “a joke that has ceased to be funny”. Personally I find him hilarious – and also rather effective.
Michael Gove in Nottingham: Michael Gove spoke at a rally in Nottingham, saying Britain would be “stronger, safer and more prosperous” outside the EU.
George Osborne’s broken record: Osborne repeated his warning that Brexit could cause market volatility (a small price to pay for freedom and democracy) and could also lead to a lower Pound (exporters will be grateful) and possibly higher interest rates (savers will be glad of that). Yes George. Brexit could also lead to lower prices, cheaper energy, faster growth, more jobs. And freedom and self-determination.
“Brexit pressure mounts on Cameron”
The FT headlines “Brexit pressure mounts on Cameron”, reporting that Ken Clarke, that old stalwart of the pro-Brussels movement, said “Cameron will not last 30 seconds after an OUT vote”. For once I’m inclined to agree with Ken. Meantime Tory Eurosceptics like Bernard Jenkin were issuing dire warnings of the consequences for the Conservative Party if Britain votes to remain in the EU.
The Express nails its colours to the mast
Under a massive headline “STICK IT TO THE EU”, the Express offers a free window poster for Brexit. No doubt where they stand, then.
The Blair Rich Project
After the Panama Papers, the innuendo about Cameron’s off-shore bonds, and the farce of Corbyn’s failure to tell HMRC about his three pensions, The Times now takes aim at Tony Blair, devoting its whole front page to “The Blair Rich Project”. If Cameron has recently been choking over his Weetabix, this could well have our Tony phoning his lawyers over the Œufs Bénédict.
Greeks shop for guns as migrant concerns rise
The Telegraph reports that Greeks are buying hunting rifles amid concerns over unrest among the many thousands of migrants building up in the country. Let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come.
Foreign aid spending set to overtake council funding
It’s forecast that next year our UK foreign aid budget will exceed central government financial support for local councils. The outrage against our disproportionate foreign aid spending is growing. We’ve seen money given to China (while Chinese steel exports undermine our steel industry) and to India (while it builds a nuclear weapons capability and a space programme). We’ve seen aid going to corrupt dictatorships. And apparently DFID are scratching around desperate to spend truckloads of money in the absence of viable projects. This has to stop – along with our eye-watering contributions to the EU. This is borrowed money that our children and grandchildren will be paying back for decades.
No more Roundup?
Last week in Strasbourg MEPs voted to ban the use of the weed killer glyphosate in a domestic/home context (they’d tried to ban it entirely, without success). Glyphosate has been in widespread use in farms and in gardens for decades, with no evidence of harm. It’s the active ingredient in Roundup, which I have used on my garden. But the Greens and their allies have seized on disputed reports that it may be carcinogenic. But then so are wood-smoke and coffee, and no one is banning them.
We need to distinguish between risk and hazard. Lots of things in daily life are hazardous – paracetamol and petrol, to name but two. But properly used, the risks are minimal, and we are not filled with terror when we fill up with petrol. In Brussels, they love to talk about “The Precautionary Principle”. I’d rather they kept a sense of proportion.
MEPs to spend £8 million on liveried chauffeurs
While we’re on the subject of MEPs, there’s a parliament plan to spend £8 million on “liveried chauffeurs” for the parliament – to “guard against the risk of kidnap”. Security is always a good excuse for spending money. The only way to stop this folly is Brexit. Please vote on June 23rd to give me my P45.
“La menace du Brexit”
I rarely venture into foreign newspapers, but yesterday I was in Paris (for three and a half hours), on a panel at a Conference on Brexit and Higher Education at the University of London’s Institute in Paris, on the Rue de Constantine. and I noticed a headline in Le Figaro. “La menace du Brexit se rapproche”. I don’t think you’ll need a translation. The message seems to be getting through.
Now the Dutch want a TTIP referendum
Fresh from their success in their referendum on the proposed EU/Ukraine deal, the Dutch are now proposing a new referendum on TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. But it looks as though the Brussels institutions will simply ignore the Dutch vote.
The Eurovision farago perhaps stands as a metaphor for the EU: set up with good intentions to bring people together, it results in ridicule and rancour, with accusations of political bias – and some very embarrassing performances. The Daily Mirror, always focusing on the great national issues, reports that the current head of the project (if we can dignify it with the term), Swedish producer Christer Bjőrkman, has claimed that the late Sir Terry Wogan “ruined the show with his mockery”. Personally, I thought that Sir Terry was the only thing that made it worth watching.
One other parallel between the Eurovision Song Contest and the EU – they’re both so last century.