33 days to Independence Day!
Gove warns of pressure on NHS and 5m more migrants by 2030
Justice Secretary Michael Gove has warned of a possible five million additional EU migrants by 2030 if we vote Remain. He bases this on the possible accession of five new member states, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Turkey, and warns of the huge additional pressure that these numbers would put on the NHS (never mind schools and housing). Of these five countries, Turkey is far and away the biggest with a 79 million population.
The Remain side has countered that Turkish accession is unlikely in that time-frame. David Cameron is of course schizophrenic on Turkey. In Istanbul, he claims he is Turkey’s strongest champion on EU accession, while here at home he assures us that Turkish accession is decades away and that we should ignore it on June 23rd. The Remain side may be right that Turkish accession is unlikely in the short term, but the European Commission has explicitly committed itself (and therefore us, if we remain) to accelerated accession for Turkey.
Nonetheless Gove is absolutely right to worry about the pressures of immigrant numbers on social infrastructure. The NHS is already reeling from increasing demand, and even the current level of net immigration at 300,000-plus a year is unsustainable. At this rate, even without new accession states, we can expect close to five million new immigrants by 2030.
Juncker rattles his sabre
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has started sabre-rattling over Brexit. If we leave, we will face “consequences”, he says. We will be “treated as a third country”. (But I thought that was the whole point?). We will be regarded as “deserters”, and “not treated with kid gloves”.
It is quite wonderful how far away Juncker is from the real world. He doesn’t seem to understand that by making this sort of threat, by allowing the mask to slip and showing the ugly face of the Brussels machine, he is likely to drive anti-EU sentiment in Britain. He doesn’t understand the economic imperatives which will force the EU to reach a positive trade deal with the UK. He’s forgotten that trade with “third countries” is subject to WTO rules. He even seems to have forgotten the terms of the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50, which requires the EU to reach favourable trade deals with neighbouring countries.
Brexit campaigners are entitled to be angry with these comments. And to be motivated to greater efforts.
How safe is Cameron’s “EU reform package”? Last night I was debating Brexit in Leighton Buzzard against Tory MP Andrew Selous He insisted that Cameron’s renegotiated EU Reform Package (for what it’s worth, and that’s not a lot) was absolutely rock-solid and guaranteed, and had been confirmed as such by international legal experts. I disagreed. But today’s Telegraph reports Juncker as saying that the package “will not be easy to deliver”, and that key measures will have to be passed by the European parliament. Nice to be vindicated in the next day’s paper.
Osborne’s extraordinary claim that Brexit could take 18% off house prices
George Osborne gives us a glimpse of the Treasury’s next apocalyptic report on Brexit, saying it could cause house prices to fall by 18%. (It’s remarkable that such tenuous guesswork can come up with such precision).
His chain of reasoning seems to be that Brexit could cause a violent economic shock (if it does, it’ll have been caused by his own scare-mongering), and that this will increase interest and mortgage rates, and depress consumer spending. Mortgages will become more expensive, fewer people will afford them, demand will fall and house prices go down. Answer: 18%.
Two points in response: firstly, every stage in his chain of causation is hugely open to question. Secondly, there is broad agreement that UK house prices are excessively high. Many economists (and many first-time buyers) would find the prospect of cheaper houses rather attractive.
Cameron still facing “running scared” taunts over TV debates
The Express reports that Prime Minister David Cameron continues to face accusations of “running scared” as he resists head-to-head debates with key Brexit figures, including Boris, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage. Instead, he insists that he will face audiences of voters and take their questions. My guess is that the public would overwhelmingly prefer proper head-to-head debates.
Now the Remain Camp complains of BBC bias!
Pity the poor BBC. It’s accustomed to eurosceptics complaining (with some justification) of persistent pro-EU bias. But now the Remain Camp are up in arms over a programme by Jeremy Paxman that show-cased the absurdities of Brussels. Apparently criticism of the EU on the BBC during a referendum campaign is just too much to take.
Previously Paxman had an EU article pulled from the Radio Times because it was deemed to be too critical of the EU.
Greek Judges tell Syrian refugee “Turkey is unsafe”
The BBC reports the story of Greek Judges who told a Syrian Refugee that Turkey is “unsafe”. Amnesty International was quick to assert that the decision put the whole EU/Turkish migrant deal in question. If Turkey is unsafe, then the European Convention on Human Rights would prevent the deportation of migrants from the EU to Turkey. But safety is, of course, a matter of degree. Nowhere is totally safe, so it becomes a judgement decision whether any particular place is deemed “safe” or not. If in doubt, try watching “Midnight Express”.
Would Brexit kill off big projects?
This is the title of a piece by Ross Hawkins on the BBC’s web-site (funded by you and me). The article discusses fears that loss of funding from the EIB after Brexit could put major infrastructure projects in jeopardy. The article itself is reasonably balanced, putting the case for both sides. Yes, we’d probably be unable to access EIB funding – but there are plenty of other options. The headline, however, sets the tone, and comes straight out of the “Project Fear” play-book.
Remain campaign cites Martin Lewis without permission
Martin Lewis is described as “a consumer champion”, and in one poll was found to be the most trusted voice on the Brexit debate. The Mail reports that he choked on his cornflakes when he found a quote from himself in a Remain leaflet. He’d never given his permission. And while the quote appeared to back Remain, Lewis insists it was taken out-of-context, and that he himself wasn’t supporting either side in the debate.