Cameron rejects live TV debate
The Telegraph headlines “Cameron rejects TV debates on Europe”. After initially appearing only to rule out a head-to-head TV debate against a Conservative colleague (read “Boris”), it now appears that he will do no live TV debate at all. Probably a wise move, as the weakness of his position would be all too apparent. But reportedly he has agreed to a half-way house – an ITV programme on June 7th on which he and Nigel Farage will appear and be interviewed separately – a half-hour each.
Meantime the Express reports Nigel Farage’s “anger” at the BBC’s suggestion that he be excluded from Brexit TV debates.
Boris attacks “demented” Cameron…while Osborne admits that the Treasury is doing contingency planning
Boris Johnson has launched his Brexit Battle Bus (photographed at the door, proudly holding aloft a Cornish pasty, for some reason) and has attacked the Prime Minister in robust terms, calling him “demented” for his extraordinary and improbable warnings about the risks of independence. This is the lead front-page story in today’s Metro. Gordon Brown claims that it “would not be British” to leave the EU (glad I don’t have to spin that one). He says he wants a Britain that is outward-looking, internationalist and engaged with the world. We in the Leave campaign agree – and that is exactly why we want to leave the EU. Not to be “isolated and marginalised”, but to re-join the rest of the world, where the growth is, and to be free to set up trade deals with those countries which the EU has ignored.
And at last George Osborne concedes that the Treasury has started to do significant work on contingency planning for Brexit. It was wholly irresponsible to leave it so late in the day.
Will Cameron’s Referendum Gambit back-fire?
The Telegraph’s Europe Editor Peter Foster offers a thoughtful piece suggesting that Cameron’s referendum gambit, originally intended as a tactic to disarm UKIP and his own back-bench eurosceptics, risks back-firing. The Remain Camp are right to say that there is considerable uncertainty with Brexit, but they seem to have forgotten that staying in a dysfunctional EU is equally fraught with uncertainty. The risk for the Remain camp, says Foster, is that the voters feel angered rather than cowed by the Prime Minister’s carefully conceived electoral conceit, and express their ire at being offered a non-choice by rejecting it.
Britain to be “forced” to accept EU refugee quota
The Telegraph reports a new plan by Juncker to force member-states to accept migrants on a quota basis, in a move which will spark fury across the Chancelleries of Europe. One Commission official likened it to “A declaration of War”. Britain has declared it will not accept such a quota. But if we vote to Remain, that will be seen by Brussels as a green light for this kind of activity.
Russian Oligarch funds Remain Campaign
Sky News reports that amongst the list of donors to the Remain camp is Len Blavatnik, a Russian-born businessman and owner of Warner Music Group, who is reportedly “Britain’s Richest Man”. That’s strange. The Remain Camp keep harping on about Brexit weakening Europe and playing into the hands of the Kremlin (although in reality the EU is playing into the hands of the Kremlin by talking about a European Army, and side-lining NATO). So why would a Russian Oligarch want to support Remain?
But hang on a minute. Did I say Russian? The Sky report says “USSR born”. Turns out he’s Ukrainian. So Russian-Ukrainian or Ukrainian-Ukrainian? Could it be that he sees supporting Remain as an anti-Putin gesture? Complicated.
Nigeria, Afghanistan corrupt, Dave? So what about the EU?
Yesterday I mentioned Cameron’s diplomatic gaffe when he told Her Majesty the Queen (and the Archbishop of Canterbury) that Nigeria and Afghanistan were “fantastically corrupt”. And now Nigeria is demanding the return of assets held in the UK. But to compound the PM’s embarrassment, the redoubtable Philip Davies MP at PMQs asked the PM where he would rank the EU on his corruption register. Given that it’s 21 years since the EU accounts got a clean bill of health, Mr. Davies, as usual, has a good point.
EU/Turkey Migrant deal “hangs by a thread”
There seems to be no solution to the stand-off between the EU and Turkey over the migrant swap deal, which so far has scarcely got under way. While the EU insists on liberalising measures, Turkey flatly refuses to comply. Erdogan is a tough negotiator, and he knows that the EU really needs the deal (although it’s wholly inadequate to solve the problem). Meantime in Germany….
Erdogan Burgers are a hit in Germany
Recently I reported on the German comedian who produced an indecent and insulting song about Turkish President Erdogan, and is now threatened with prosecution under an obscure German law which criminalises insulting foreign heads of state. But the story continues. The BBC reports that an enterprising Burger Bar owner in Cologne is selling “Erdogan Burgers” like … well, like hot cakes. And the distinguishing feature of an Erdogan-Burger? Why the addition of a thick slice of goat’s cheese. The reference to goat will not be lost on those who have been following the Erdogan scandal.
Express on kettles
Migrant babies drive Scottish population
The Scottish Daily Mail reports that births to foreign mothers have quadrupled in a decade, pushing Scotland’s population to a new high.
“Bomb plotters target Britain”
Again I featured this story yesterday, but the Daily Mail’s main headline today is “Bomb plotter’s tour of Britain”. An Afghan terrorist suspect used fake IDs to visit sensitive sites in the UK.
Polls still neck and neck
Guido offers a poll of six polls, and the result is 50/50. He adds that “Nothing seems to be working” (for the Remain campaign). They’ve thrown everything at it, from Barack Obama to the Third World War, but (in Guido’s engaging phraseology) “The Great British Public seem to be saying ‘Sod ’em all'”. Indeed. If we go into June 23rd on 50/50, we’ll win on differential turn-out.
Forgive this rather self-indulgent addition, but I really enjoyed two comments yesterday. The splendid Allison Pearson asks if David Cameron is “going through the change”, speaks of his “irrational and paranoid behaviour”, and suggests he might do something more normal for his time of life. Buy a Harley-Davidson, consider a gender reassignment, or ask that nice Tim Farron if he can join the Lib-Dems. Meantime in a more serious tone, Jeremy Warner says that if other EU member-states follow Brexit with their own referenda, that could lead to the death of the €uro in its current form. “It may be, as the Brexiteers claim, that ultimately it could also prove a positive and galvanising reform of a discredited institution”. As I love to say, we shall save ourselves by our exertions, and Europe by our example.