Former spy chiefs say Brexit is a security risk
The main headline in the Sunday Times is “Spy Chiefs say quitting EU is a security risk”. Baron Evans of Weardale, the former director-general of MI5, and Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, say Brexit could also lead to “instability on the Continent”, compounding the current “economic difficulties, the migration crisis and a resurgent Russia”. Both men are at pains to say that they write on their own behalf and were not put up to it by the government. So I suppose it’s just pure coincidence that their statement comes at the same time as Prime Minister David Cameron makes a pitch to put national security at the heart of the Remain Campaign. This has all the hallmarks of a planned intervention orchestrated by Downing Street.
The view of these gentlemen is in flat contradiction to the recent statement by Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, who said that leaving the EU would not cause significant damage to UK security, and in material ways – not least in terms of border control – would enhance our security. Sir Richard’s views were echoed by former head of the CIA General Michael Hayden.
This CIA view is significant. By common consent the UK’s most critical security and intelligence cooperation is with the “Five Eyes” group including the USA, Canada and Australia. Note that the Five Eyes cooperation does not require supranational institutions to make it function: nor should intelligence cooperation in Europe. European intelligence services will cooperate with the UK because it’s essential to do so for their own security – not because we are, or are not, members of the EU. In fact closer intelligence integration with the EU could damage the Five Eyes relationship. The CIA has well known (and well justified) concerns about intelligence leaks from some EU member-states.
Immigration creating “unsustainable pressure” on schools
If the Sunday Times splashes a pro-Remain story, the Sunday Telegraph redresses the balance with a pro-Brexit report. Under the heading “Migration pressure on schools revealed”, it speaks of “huge and unsustainable pressure” on schools from 700,000 children of European migrants. This includes 25,000 arriving in one year alone. An influx on this scale would require (says the report) 27 new secondary schools or 100 new primary schools to be built.
Priti Patel says ““These figures show how the EU’s open borders policies, and the uncontrolled immigration that stems from that, is leading to huge and unsustainable pressures on our schools,” adding that it undermines attempts to reduce class sizes.
Of course it’s not simply the numbers. Many of these children have very limited English language skills, so require much more resource than an English-speaking child. Meantime the problems in schools are paralleled by similar pressures in housing and hospitals
Terror suspects win human rights appeal
On the same front page, the Telegraph also reports Theresa May’s failure, after ten years of trying, to deport six Algerian terror suspects linked to Osama bin Laden. The Special Immigration Appeals Committee has effectively confirmed their right to remain in the UK, and May is reportedly not planning further appeals. It is reported that this latest legal action will have cost “a further £1 million”. It is not clear what the total cost is, but with legal aid, government legal costs, and no doubt welfare payments to the suspects, it will be many millions of pounds.
The complete impotence of the British government to deport criminals and terrorist suspects is surely by itself sufficient reason to vote for Brexit. Perhaps Baron Evans and Sir John Sawer would like to explain how this latest decision enhances British security.
Energy Levy “to stop blackouts”
Under “capacity markets” arrangements, consumers will pay subsidies of £3 billion to keep old coal, nuclear and gas power stations running through 2017/18 – and to prevent the blackouts which would otherwise be inevitable. This will amount to £38 per household.
The government’s mealy-mouthed justification is that otherwise there would be electricity shortages and price spikes, which could be even more expensive for consumers.
But as the Irishman said, if I wanted to go to Dublin, I wouldn’t start from here. It was the government’s own green obsessions, its head-banging commitment to expensive and intermittent renewables, and its pusillanimous kow-towing the perverse Brussels energy policies, that got us into this situation to start with. If we’d stuck to proven, reliable and affordable generation technologies, we wouldn’t be in this hole. Let’s be clear about this: the problem ultimately comes from Brussels, and as long as we’re in the EU we’re denied a rational energy policy.
UKIP has been warning for several years of the coming capacity crunch. And it’s not just UKIP: The Institute of Mechanical Engineers foresees an extraordinary 40% shortfall by 2025 if we stick to current policies. And Sainsbury’s is so worried about power cuts that it is setting up its own, independent generating capacity to keep it going when the lights (and the freezers) go out.
The Germans don’t play cricket (but the migrants do!)
The long shadow of the British Empire reaches to the heart of Germany. No one in Germany (or at least very few) played cricket. But now large numbers of migrants in Germany from Pakistan and Afghanistan are taking an interest, and giving a huge boost to the nascent sport in Germany. I trust I never live to see the day when Germany beats England on the cricket field. The sound of leather on willow will never be the same.
The City of London is more concerned with global rivals than Brexit
In a thoughtful and thorough analysis economist Gerard Lyons of “Economists for Brexit” argues that Brexit should not be a problem for the City of London, and indeed in the medium term may be a life-saver.
His article is well worth reading, but in summary, he argues that London’s main competitors are not Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris, but New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. And the City’s ability to compete globally is at risk from the every-growing mountain of EU financial regulation, not least the financial transaction tax and the bankers’ bonus cap. Brexit could free the City to compete globally, helping to establish its position for the long term. If we remain within a declining EU, we may well see the UK’s financial services business decline as well.
Greece: Juncker is whistling in the wind
The Guardian reports that Commission president Jean Claude Juncker says that “Greece has basically achieved its reform goals”, and that therefore talks on debt relief can go ahead. I suspect that the IMF will want to take a view on that. The plain fact is that Greece will never repay its debts. Any further “loans” are not loans at all – they are gifts. One way or another Greek debt will have to be written off – either inside or outside the €urozone.
Chaos in Rural Farm Payments
Christopher Booker writes a scathing piece about the chaos in the administration of CAP payments to farmers. The British government (he says) has already incurred fines of £642 million to Brussels for its failures, and the figure could reach £1 billion. The piece is too long to summarise, but worth reading if you have an interest in farming.
The Indy carries a report on “How TTIP will allow the USA to force the EU to lower standards”. In a separate report, the European Commission insists that “TTIP is far from over”, although on the other hand France is hinting it will veto the deal.
Still with the Indy, I was surprised (but pleased) to see that it gave reasonable coverage of UKIP’s remarkable results in Wales.
An amusing neologism
We’ve had Brexit and Grexit. Now the Sunday Times offers us “Jexit”. Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly planning to take a week’s holiday just before the EU referendum – perhaps to spare himself the embarrassment of having to argue for a proposition with which he profoundly disagrees. Pro-EU Labour MPs are said to be furious. Personally I can’t see it making a lot of difference.