Boris: We’d be mad to stay
Boris Johnson is making the weather in the Brexit debate today, under the banner headline “I’m fighting for Freedom”. He’s upping the rhetoric, insisting that “We’d be mad to stay”, and adding that David Cameron is “corroding public trust” over immigration figures. The Express runs “Boris: It’s mad to stay in the EU” as its lead story, and reports him saying “We’re on the brink of a great escape” and must vote to leave next month.
Boris also points the finger of blame at the EU for the situation in Ukraine (as UKIP has argued for some time). And Boris is immediately smeared (as UKIP has been) as “a friend of Putin”. The “i“ leads with the story. No guys. We’re not friends of Putin. We’re just pointing out that if you poke a bear with a stick, it may well get annoyed. Responding to the Prime Minister’s paranoid claims yesterday, Boris adds the (fairly obvious) point that Brexit will not spark World War Three.
Boris’s Five Questions: In a move reminiscent of Gordon Brown’s famous “five tests” on the €uro, Boris poses Five Questions for David Cameron and the Remain Campaign.
- How can you possibly control EU immigration into this country?
- The Living Wage is an excellent policy, but how will you stop it being a big pull factor for uncontrolled EU migration, given that it is far higher than minimum wages in other EU countries?
- How will you prevent the European Court from interfering further in immigration, asylum, human rights, and all kinds of matters which have nothing to do with the so-called Single Market?
- Why did you give up the UK veto on further moves towards a fiscal and political union?
- How can you stop us from being dragged in, and from being made to pay?
The Sun: “Cam’s in her Hans”
In an engagingly punning headline (and with a picture of Merkel pulling Cameron’s puppet strings), the Sun reports IDS’s remarkable claim that Merkel in effect controlled Cameron’s “renegotiation” process, and that he followed her instructions. IDS says “They (the Germans) had a de factoveto over everything…..We put ourselves in a compliant position to another country that doesn’t have our best interests at heart”.
Business opinion tip-toes towards Brexit
A new British Chambers of Commerce opinion poll with 2,200 respondents shows a marked shift towards Brexit amongst their members. There is still a majority for Remain, but the lead for Remain has been cut sharply, from 30% to 17% — and this despite the aggressive scare-mongering from the Remain camp. Given that “business support” is a key argument of the Remainians, this is heartening news – let’s hope the trend continues.
Former NATO Chiefs warn Brexit “will give succour to our enemies”
The Telegraph carries a letter from five former NATO Chiefs warning that Brexit would encourage enemies of the West. Just coincidental, of course, that this comes the day after the Prime Minister’s paranoid claim that Brexit will lead to war. The credibility of these former NATO leaders is somewhat compromised when we check the names: Lord Carrington, a Tory loyalist; Javier Solana, who served as Spanish foreign minister after the fall of General Franco; Lord George Robertson, a defence secretary in Tony Blair’s government; Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, previously a Dutch foreign minister; and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who was NATO Secretary-General until 2014. In other words, a roll-call of committed Europhiles.
Prime Ministerial Paranoia
I wrote yesterday about the Prime Minister’s extraordinary claim that Brexit could lead to war, suggesting it almost amounted to self-parody. Julian Lewis MP, of the Defence Select Committee, has penned a considered rebuttal which is well worth reading. He makes the critical point that our security depends on NATO, including the USA, because only the US military has the scale to deter aggression against other NATO states. Given low levels of defence spending in Europe (a whole other issue), there is no hope of the EU alone deterring the encroachment of Russia.
To the extent that EU military plans are designed to side-line NATO, EU membership actually and directly damages our security (as do the EU’s open borders). Cameron risks undermining his remaining credibility with such paranoid propositions.
Osborne: Brexit will cost thousands of jobs in the City
Project fear in full swing: The FT reports George Osborne’s claim that Brexit would cost thousands of jobs in the City of London. The parallel with similar claims made fifteen years ago about the consequences of not joining the €uro is almost too obvious for comment. Wrong then, wrong now. Outside a dysfunctional EU, the UK will rapidly come to be seen as a safe haven.
“Mental Health at risk if we leave Human Rights Convention”
In a story billed as “exclusive”, the Indy reports that a top psychiatrist has warned that mental health care in the UK will be put back years if Theresa May takes the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes – and there’ll be plagues of locusts, and the skies will rain blood.
CBI: “Cloud Cuckoo land to believe UK could have an EU FTA”
Carolyn Fairburn, DG of the CBI, has virtually accused Michael Gove of lying when he says he expects that the UK will have a timely Free Trade Agreement with the EU after Brexit. “In a world of growing protectionism and economic uncertainty, it is cloud cuckoo land to believe that the UK could easily walk into free trade agreement with the EU after Brexit”.
Check the trade statistics, Lady. In value terms we import about double the cars from the continent that we export to them. You think that Audi and BMW and Mercedes will be prepared to tear up their business plans while the EU Commission prevaricates? The hell they will. Get real. Your predecessor Digby Jones has said that after Brexit, we’d have a free trade deal in 24 hours. That may be pushing it, Carolyn, but I think you’re the one in cloud cuckoo land. Get some backbone. Have a little confidence in your country.
Greek debt – no agreement yesterday
I wrote yesterday about the looming Greek debt situation. Yesterday at a meeting in Brussels, Finance Ministers discussed the issue, but ended without agreement. Further talks will follow. But they insisted that there would be no direct debt relief – which means the Greek problem cannot be solved. Both immigration and Greek debt look set to explode – maybe sometime around mid-June.
“Millions of pounds of British aid money reaching Jihadists in Syria”
It’s claimed that millions of pounds of British aid money may have reached Jihadists in Syria. A total of £510 million has gone to Syria since 2011. DfID admits that “funds risk being diverted”, but insists that it is less than 1%. That would be £5 million. So that’s alright, then. But if you spray money around with a hose-pipe, you can’t be too surprised if some ends up in the wrong place.