“Government taking the public for fools over Brexit”
A former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, and a member of Economists for Brexit , Cardiff Professor Patrick Minford says that government, with its scaremongering tactics, is “taking the public for fools” over Brexit. He argues vigorously that taking Britain out of the EU’s Customs Union would be a shot in the arm for the British economy. He adds that the Treasury’s economic analysis is “a load of complete nonsense” that tries to blind us with science. The Telegraph article comes with a tasteful photograph in the European parliament featuring my colleagues Gerard Batten and Stuart Agnew.
The same article reports that NIESR, the National Institute for Social & Economic Research, is forecasting that Brexit would “leave everyone in Britain between £500 and £2000 worse off”. Of course it was NIESR that came up with the old “3½ million jobs” claim, although to be fair they did always insist that the jobs depended on trade with the EU, not on membership of the EU.
The trouble with economic models like that of the Treasury, and the NIESR (and indeed with climate change models) is that you have to input assumptions about how the world works, and if you make wrong assumptions, you get wrong answers. In the case of NIESR, they simply assume that Brexit would cause the pound to devalue by 20% — and all the bad news follows from that. But though there will certainly be volatility around Brexit, there is no reason to suppose that the pound will devalue by 20%. Indeed there is every reason to expect it to appreciate as soon as markets realise that contrary to expectation, the sky is not falling.
The NIESR adds for good measure that “Whatever scenario you look at, UK consumers are going to be worse off”. But that’s because they’ve only considered negative scenarios.
UK’s trade deficit with the EU hits new high
The Telegraph reports that the UK’s trade deficit with the EU has hit a new record – an eye-watering £23.9 billion in the first quarter of 2016. This can largely be attributed to disarray in continental economies and the eurozone.
Two vital things we need to bear in mind about the economy: that EU membership has certainly not done wonders for UK exports to the EU, or for the UK/EU trade deficit; and that the EU economies (and British exports to the EU) are in long-term relative decline.
New Poll: 55% of voters say Brexit is the only way to control immigration
A new Ipsos-MORI opinion poll in the Daily Mail finds that a clear majority of the British public believe that the only way to control immigration is to leave the EU. Not a surprise, but it’s nice to have confirmation of what we hear on the doorstep. Now let’s hope that 55% vote to leave on June 23rd.
Farmers for Brexit!
A survey by Farmers’ Weekly on April 29th showed a clear majority of farmers, 58%, in favour of Brexit (apologies that I didn’t flag it up earlier). A second survey dated May 7th shows 62% of Young Farmers backing Brexit. This is hugely encouraging news. I’ve always regarded farmers as patriotic folk who might support the independence of their country – and who are highly critical of the bureaucracy of EU regulations and cross-compliance. But at the same time, they have very natural concerns about their CAP cheques, without which many UK farms would cease to be viable.
Both I and our Agriculture Spokesman Stuart Agnew MEP have been at pains to point out that agriculture is subsidised in virtually all developed countries, that the UK had a perfectly good farm support scheme before we joined the “Common Market” in 1973, and will have one after we leave. But it is very encouraging that in the face of genuine concerns about funding, a majority of farmers – and an even greater majority of young farmers – are backing Brexit.
Surprise: Patten opposes Brexit!
Good heavens. Here’s a former European Commissioner (on a European pension) arguing that Brexit would damage Oxford University’s standing as a global centre of learning and academic excellence. He bases this on his assumptions that (A) universities would get less money (but if we save £10 billion net on EU contributions we’ll be better able to fund essential UK services); and (B) That we’ll make it more difficult for foreign students and academics to come to the UK. But there’s no proposal to do that, and it would be a bad move.
Sorry, Chris, but wrong on both counts.
Iraq Report delayed until after Brexit Referendum
In what looks like a cynical piece of stage management, publication of the long-awaited Chilcot Report into the Iraq War has been delayed to July – just after the EU referendum. It will undoubtedly embarrass a number of prominent Remain campaigners, not least Tony Blair. David Davis has said that the report has been deliberately delayed “on the thinnest of excuses” until after the referendum.
Turkey: “Europe is cruel to migrants”
Turkey’s President Erdogan has accused Europe of being “cruel” by closing its borders to refugees. European nations, he said, showed “no mercy and no justice”. Meantime the EU/ Turkey deal on migrants appears to be heading for the buffers following the resignation of former Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu. I hesitate to say what I think of President Erdogan’s opinion – after all, a German comedian is currently facing trial and a possible three years in jail for disrespecting the Turkish President.
ISIL plan to use migrant routes for UK attacks
The Telegraph reports that Afghan jihadists linked to ISIL are proposing to use migrant routes to launch attacks in the UK. It also says that Theresa May has authorised additional maritime resource to stop terrorists and traffickers using smaller ports on the South Coast to infiltrate.
Kettle and toaster ban to follow EU vote
The EU is preparing to carry forward plans to ban high-powered small appliances like kettles, toasters and hair-dryers – but not until after the EU vote. High powered vacuum cleaners were banned in 2014, despite public protests. Maybe a kettles ban is not the strongest reason to vote for Brexit, but perhaps it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“Ploddy ridiculous” was the Sun’s front-page headline on this story. When I first heard that the police had apologised for a realistic emergency simulation exercise, I naturally assumed that the public had been unnecessarily alarmed by guns and explosions on the street. I was astonished to find they were actually apologising for potential offence to Muslims because the “terrorist” shouted “Allahu Akbar”. Political correctness has reached absurd proportions when the police have to apologise for staging a realistic training exercise. Maybe they should have dressed the “terrorist” as Winnie the Pooh?
The fact is that while “Allahu Akbar” may be a sacred phrase to most Muslims, it has become a war-cry for jihadists, and it seems to me entirely appropriate that the term was used in that context. It is the Jihadists who should be apologising for indiscriminate murder and outrage, not the police for conducting a training exercise.
Cameron accuses Nigeria of corruption
You could almost feel sorry for David Cameron. For weeks he has been rightly castigated for his increasingly paranoid and bizarre warnings of the perils of Brexit. Yet today he faces criticism for telling the truth. Unfortunately he told it while speaking to Her Majesty and the Archbishop of Canterbury – and was caught on camera. Corruption in certain countries is widespread and well documented. But in mentioning it, especially in such a high-profile circumstance, he created a diplomatic incident. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.
Has Boris had a make-over?
The pictures of Boris Johnson in the papers yesterday suggested a new persona. Serious. Earnest. Focussed. And with hair cut short – the familiar blond shock no longer in evidence. Is this the new Prime Ministerial Boris, we ask ourselves?