Daily Debrief May 4th

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German Push for EU Army

They told us that an EU army was just a fantasy – a nightmare dreamed up by eurosceptics to frighten the children.  Nick Clegg himself assured us that the idea of a European Army was “a dangerous fantasy”.

But of course it’s always been part of the plan.  Now Macer Hall of the Express – an indomitable newshound who has broken many EU stories – reports on documents showing that Germany is actively planning for an EU Army that would bring the British Army under the control of Brussels. Ian Duncan Smith says it’s alarming that our government is pressing the British people to agree to something that involves surrendering control of our national defences.

If you wanted a single, overwhelming reason why we must vote for Brexit, this is it.  But of course it fits perfectly with German strategy.  After the trauma of the Second World War, Germany wanted to be seen as a good citizen, and European integration had the laudable objective of tying Germany in to broader structures which would prevent any recurrence of German militarism.  But if Germany is now proposing the creation of an EU army – in which Germany would be a dominant force, as it is in other areas of EU policy – then European integration could lead to exactly the outcome it was designed to prevent.  We must stop this from happening.  The only way is Brexit.

Where was the BBC?  The BBC provides daily images of the front pages of national newspapers.But for some reason the Express’ explosive story somehow got missed off the list today.  Can anyone suggest why?  Answers on a post-card, please…

“It’s your choice: the EU, or the NHS”

Senior medical consultant Angus Dalgleish has issued a stark warning on the damage which EU membership – and the TTIP trade deal – could do to the NHS, reports the Express.  This follows on from yesterday’s reports that secret EU documents obtained by Greenpeace Netherlands give a strong hint that EU and US governments would regularly review the status of “government enterprises and monopolies” with a view to opening them to the market. This flies in the face of assurances from the European Commission and our Westminster government that the NHS would be protected in any transatlantic trade deal.

Get your facts right, Greg

Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has resurrected the claim that Brexit would cost jobs – though interestingly, and perhaps concerned that Project Fear has entered the realms of  counter-productive self-parody, he has dropped the repeated claim about “3 million jobs”, and opted instead for 100,000.

In the same statement he makes the extraordinary claim that the EU’s Single Market is “the most complete commitment to free trade that exists”, and that leaving would lead to higher prices for consumers.  It is really worrying that a senior minister has such a limited understanding of the EU.  Far from “a commitment to free trade”, the EU is in fact a Customs Union (a rather 19th Century form of economic structure) which is downright protectionist, and is surrounded by a “Common External Tariff” which flies in the face of free trade, and puts prices in Britain up, not down.

Does the EU raise or lower prices? Various claims have been made in the referendum debate, Remain arguing that EU membership saves British households £450 a year, while Leave has claimed that membership has increased prices for consumers.  Channel Four Fact Check has examined these claims, and it finds that “the most dubious number is that £450 per household per year”. The Remain camp arrived at their figure by looking at research on United States trade from 1972 to 2001, which they attempt to read across to the EU.  So it’s more than fifteen years old, and arguably irrelevant.

The estimated savings are based on the concept of “variety gains” – in other words, if you have more sources to choose from, you have a better chance of finding a cheaper offer.  They ignore that fact that trade liberalisation would very probably have occurred without the EU; that the Common External Tariff has exactly the opposite effect – making accessing cheaper goods on a global basis more difficult; they ignore the massive regulatory costs in the EU which drive up prices; they ignore EU energy policies which add to the cost of every shopping basket in the country.

The only question remaining: is Greg Hands simply ignorant, or is he deliberately misleading?  I suspect both.

Turkey: Visa-free access by July?

The BBC reports that the European Commission is about to recommend visa-free access to the Schengen Area for 79 million Turkish citizens as early as July of this year – about eight weeks away. It is quite extraordinary (and alarming) that Angela Merkel has allowed Turkish President Erdogan to back her into a corner where she – and the European Commission – have no option but to accede to Turkish demands.  Checkmate.  Visa free access or we open the door to migrants to allow them into Greece and the EU, says Turkey.

The proposal still has to pass the European parliament, where there are serious concerns about human rights and free speech in Turkey.  No prizes for guessing which way I shall be voting.

The Remain Camp will try to reassure us that we have nothing to fear, as we’re not in Schengen.  The deal would apply for short visits and would not allow the Turks to work in the EU.   But the consequences of relaxed immigration in the EU will pretty soon turn up on a street near you, and it would be naïve to imagine otherwise.

On the immigration question, an important clarification from the Leave Campaign which we would do well to keep in mind: when the Remain side says “We control our borders”, they mean we do passport checks.  But we are totally unable to refuse entry to so-called “EU citizens”.

Cameron should apologise to Donald Trump?

In the race for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump has just scored a stunning victory in Indiana, and his last remaining challenger Ted Cruz has quit. Trump now looks like a racing certainty for the nomination.  This is worrying, as polls show that he would probably lose against his likely democratic opponent Hilary Clinton (though he could well win against Bernie Sanders, who has just beaten Hilary in Indiana .

But it’s a difficult call.  Many Republicans are seriously turned off by Trump, and may desert him and their party.  But he may appeal to many uncommitted voters and previous non-voters.  Time will tell.  Trump is no free trader, but I suspect he would be more open to a deal with the UK than the present incumbent.

Meantime a Times front page story and here also in the Mail  reports that Trump’s team has called on David Cameron to apologise for calling Trump “divisive, stupid and wrong”. Cameron is perfectly entitled to disagree with Trump, but maybe he should use more restrained language about a possible US President.

Cameron & Boris: not such good friends?

The rift between former buddies David Cameron and Boris Johnson over Brexit was yesterday’s story, but the Guardian is still reflecting on it, with a thoughtful piece on friendships between long-serving politicians. But perhaps Cameron should be more concerned about the rift between himself and his party than about his spat with Boris.  Many Conservatives are hopping mad that what they once considered a Eurosceptic party is now the mouthpiece for Brussels.

Cameron is stuck between Scylla and Charybdis: Lose the referendum and he loses his job.  Win it, and he loses a big chunk of his party.

Meantime a short piece the Sun’s front page undermines Cameron’s blether about “a reformed EU”.  Repeating a story which the Express covered a while ago,  it says that only one in ten EU immigrants is claiming in-work benefits, and therefore that the effect of the PM’s ban would be trivial.  Others have pointed out that the “pull factor” of Osborne’s “living wage” will far outweigh any disincentive on welfare benefits.  The PM’s “EU renegotiation” is unravelling as we watch.

Can the EU be reformed?

See Robin Horsley’s seven-minute video of his interview with me on this question:

 

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10 Responses to Daily Debrief May 4th

  1. vera says:

    Cameron continues to show poor judgement. If he had remained neutral over Brexit, he wouldn’t now be in such a mess. And perhaps he wouldn’t have resorted to deceit and duplicity and nastiness to get his own way, losing supporters in droves.. But as someone once said about him, he only does enough to get through the day.

    • rfhmep says:

      Indeed. He should have followed Harold Wilson’s tactic — paper over the cracks in your party by giving them a free vote — then let the people decide.

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Excitement Alert (perhaps not)

    Court of Justice of the European Union supports Directive and stops (2020) Poland and Rumania from smoking menthol and any other flavoured fags/smokes. Not tobacco though? So, ok kids carry on smoking.
    http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2016-05/cp160048en.pdf

    I can just see the poles etc quitting that…yeah, so I can?

    And we can have all sorts of labels and bits of paper with the e-fags. And all sorts of cross border thingy’s. Can have lots of notifications as well. Remember the film Brazil….LOL

  3. Shieldsman says:

    It was in March that I picked up on Breitbart a lead to EurActiv.com dated 16 March
    Elmar Brok: ‘The idea that the EU will not advance any further is false’
    EU treaty changes are laborious and come with a great deal of uncertainty. As a result, the European Parliament is assessing an own-initiative report that intends to assess what reforms of the functioning of the EU are possible without treaty changes. EurActiv Germany reports.
    On 20 January, European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs rapporteurs Elmar Brok (EPP-CDU) and Mercedes Bresso (S&D-Partito Democratico) submitted their draft report. The final text is expected to be adopted by the Parliament before the summer break.
    German MEP Elmar Brok is chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.
    The Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee is currently assessing your report, which bears the lovely title “Improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty”. Is it really possible that many of the EU’s existing problems with the Lisbon Treaty could be addressed? Or are the proposals laid down in your report just the first steps towards greater reform?

    We are preparing another report, authored by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), to do with treaty changes and where they are necessary. But, we first wanted to demonstrate the fact that we need quick solutions and that there is still a lot of wiggle-room left when it comes to the Lisbon Treaty, as well as dispelling the mind-set that things can’t get done because we can’t change the treaty. That is why we have collated a number of examples of what is actually possible under the current treaty: from majority voting to new foreign and security policy, as well as the issue of EU headquarters and the possibility of a Commission vice-president also serving as president of the Eurogroup, among other matters.
    Whether any of these are actually pursued or not is neither here nor there, we have shown that the opportunity is there, though.
    Several of your report’s proposals call for the ‘passerelle clause’ to be activated, so that national veto rights can be circumvented and qualified majority votes counted instead. Is it not too optimistic to expect national governments to agree to this?

    We then go onto the actual document (PDF) – DRAFT REPORT on improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty (2014/2249(INI))
    Committee on Constitutional Affairs Rapporteurs: Mercedes Bresso, Elmar Brok

    91 & 92 I quoted yesterday related to the creation of a Permanent Military Operational Headquarters.
    Not much use without an Army to command.

    Has Liz Truss shot herself in the foot. The man responsible for the Climate Change Act at the behest of the EU, is saying that the hapless Liz Truss and her department cannot function without the heavy hand of the Brussels beaurocracy, and its directives.
    Wasn’t this one of the things David Cameron said he would fix by saying NO to? No to a constant flow of power to Brussels. No to unnecessary interference. And no to participation in eurozone bailouts or **notions such as a European Army**
    Jean-Claude Juncker as recently as the 19th April in a speech to the European Parliament indicated that Cameron had fixed nothing and the EU was having problems.
    “One of the reasons why EU citizens are stepping away from the European project is due to the fact that we are interfering in too many domains of their private lives and in too many domains where member states are better placed to take action. We were wrong to overregulate and interfere too much in the lives of our citizens,” he added We were wrong to overregulate and interfere too much in the lives of our citizens,” he added. The former Luxembourg premier said, “Today we are facing very tough times. We have the global refugee crisis, we have attacks on our free societies, all of our institutions are under immense pressure today and sometimes are really pushed to their limits.”

  4. mike5262015 says:

    If this news about our armed forces does not change the opinion of the people, ( from Germany no less ! ), then nothing will change British minds, and we deserve to be rubbed out as a Nation. WE HAVE TO VOTE OUT OF THE E.U. – Anything else is stupid !

  5. Jane Davies says:

    I’m concerned that the old British bulldog spirit that gave Hitler a pasting has been diluted over the decades with too many incomers who have no allegiance to the UK and who put their religion first before country. Before I am accused of being racist there was a recent poll of newcomers and they actually said this. The British citizens that fought in two world wars were very different to the British citizens of today, I just hope there are enough who see through the lies and smoke and mirrors and have the intelligence to see that this Tory PM and his supporters for remaining in the EU do not have the good of the country or the people they are supposed to serve at heart and vote out.

    As for the treasury they have proven in the past to be economical with the truth and even make stuff up. A while back the DWP claimed that expats were defrauding the economy by hundreds of thousands of pounds a year (it may even have been millions, I can’t recall the exact figure) and when pressed by FOI requests about this sum they had to admit that they had no figures to support this claim, so that figure was just plucked from the air to stir up resentment and to encourage divisiveness which this government does very effectively when it comes to the younger generation and seniors. If one could see how successful this resentment policy is one just has to read comments from younger people when referring to state pensions and pensioners and if one is an expat and is one of the 4% who has a frozen state pension based purely on where they live and they dare to protest at the injustice the hatred and misinformation stirred up by this government is alarming and the comments are full of that hate. We never resented paying for state pensions in the past, it was a given that our seniors must be cared for. This nasty vindictive government must go as soon as the referendum is over whatever the result.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      A lot of the folk you refer to Jane are those coughing up on inheritance tax. All in it together even when dead. I avoid public appearance as much as possible…freaking horrible overcrowded place….and more to come!

      Pensions…mine are on a downturn this year due to legacy financial mismanagement (CPI). Well configured was that. My company pension tells me that I was right to leave…another British loss creator, only its in the high tech game. The rot spreads from low level basic commodities right up the product list. Never mind…its ok on shelf stacking and dishing up cr*p coffee and sarnies. The strategy is to repeatedly extract from the sitting ducks…us!

      We’ll be voting today, but not for a Police Commissioner….s*d that/him. Just wonder when they get to create a Commissioner of/for Commissioners (with lunches perhaps?). Our local UKIP flyer spelt out some of this connivance very well this week. Talk about jobs for the boys and related families. Just hope the local folk read that flyer.

      Eagerly await the Trump Co v Clinton Foundation. BBC and ITV/C4 played it all down yesterday and still are. Showed the deeply insulted/hurt tossing their teddies out of cots various.,,,good! Plenty of sour grapes to come shortly.

  6. Oliver K. Manuel says:

    Trump has captured the public anger at both political parties for betraying the basic human rights protected by the National Constitution to gain favor in the globalist movement.

    When compared to sleazy politicians in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, even Donal Trump looks like a winner:

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