29 days to Independence Day!
Migrant crisis returns
Under a headline “Is this why Cameron is dodging TV debates?”, the Mail reports that the migrant crisis is back with a vengeance, after Italian authorities picked up 2600 migrants in one night (and, of course, brought them to Europe – doing the traffickers’ job for them). The paper makes a direct link between the migrant crisis and Cameron’s reluctance to debate the issues. He has no answers to the open borders question, and he knows it’s a key issue.
“Brexit surge leaves pro-Brussels politicians very worried”
An interesting comment from the BBC’s Nicholas Watt on Newsnight: he says that pro-Brussels politicians are “very worried” about what he calls the “Brexit surge”. Certainly the weakening opinion polls seem way out of line with our experience on the ground and on the doorstep, where it can be difficult to find voters who want to Remain. Here’s hoping that Mr. Watt has called it right.
IFS warns of “more austerity”
I had thought better of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, but they’ve chosen to join the establishment chorus in Project Fear, warning that Brexit could lead to “two years of austerity”. Perhaps they’re trying to out-bid Osborne’s “year of recession”.
The fact is that all these diverse warnings are based on one assumption – that the Pound will devalue. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that this will happen – and if it does, the reason will quite simply be that major figures have spent months insisting that it will happen. If this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a heavy burden of blame will lie at the doors of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.
We need to understand that the EU is all about costs, not benefits. The direct EU budget costs. The regulatory costs. The costs of the Common External Tariff, which increases prices on imports. The vast misallocation of resources (for example on the EU’s wind farm obsession). And the benefits? Clearly there is a trade benefit in duty-free market access. But since the EU is the UK’s largest export customer, and the UK will be the EU’s largest export customer, there is an overwhelming economic imperative that trade should continue. Which is why we can be sure that we will get a free trade deal with the EU after we leave.
Britain’s aid budget rises 144% in ten years
The Daily Mail suggests that we in Britain are becoming “the mugs of the world”, as we continue to hose ever more borrowed money around (frequently to countries that don’t need it, like India and China). Other papers also carry the story. We are burdening our grandchildren with debt so that our politicians can do gesture politics and “virtue signalling” on a grand scale. It’s easy to be generous with other people’s money. When will our politicians come to their senses?
Generals for Brexit: “Britain will be forced to join EU Army”
A group of military top brass makes a strong case that Britain’s armed forces have been weakened and made less effective by EU membership. The Express quotes a line from the Lisbon Treaty which talks about a duty of “on-going structured military cooperation”, and argues that this amounts to a commitment to an EU Army. I have no doubt that the ECJ would interpret it in those terms – this is the way that “ever closer union” comes about. So when Cameron tries to redeem his pledge that we’re exempt from “ever closer union”, the reply will be “But you already signed up to this measure at Lisbon”.
The Mail also carries the story. Interestingly one of these generals is Sir Michael Rose, whose name was included (despite his strong reservations) in an early pro-Remain letter.
Universities urge students to vote to Remain
Several major Universities have written to students urging them to vote for Remain, apparently in breach of Electoral Commission rules requiring bodies with charitable status to refrain from campaigning. It’s quite clear that they have European funding in mind. And extraordinary that they can’t understand that we will have more money to invest in education and research when we stop sending £10 billion a year (net) to Brussels.
“Youth appeals from both sides fail”
Under the headline “Who EU kiddin?”, the Metro reports that campaigns aimed at young people by both Leave and Remain have backfired. Remain has produces a right-on video (“Get votin so you can keep workin. Keep Chattin, keep Roamin, Keep Ravin””). This is rightly seen by young people as a mite patronising. On the other hand the problem cited for the Leave campaign seems less serious – Alesha Dixon pulls out of a scheduled concert appearance. A pity, but not a game-changer.
“Breakthrough on Greek Debt Deal”
Or as my old mother used to say, “Pull the other one”. The EU institutions are desperate to postpone the next Greek debt flare-up until June 24th. So right on cue, we have the assurance that a new tranche of debt has been agreed (remember this will never be repaid, so it’s deliberately misleading to call it a loan). The EU and the IMF appear to have agreed to “debt forgiveness” (this means writing it off), but the devil is in the detail – no one has agreed when, or how much, or who takes the hit. This story will run and run (until the €uro breaks up).
Hinkley C crisis deepens
City AM reports that the crisis over the new nuclear plant at Hinkley C has deepened. They’re saying that there is “zero probability” that the plant can be completed by 2025. There is even some doubt that French contractor EDF can finance the deal, since the cost may exceed its capital.
And the link to Brexit? There are many reasons for the crisis in the UK’s nuclear industry, starting with the failure of governments over decades to maintain a nuclear programme, and Gordon Brown’s catastrophic decision to sell Westinghouse (he made a bad job of selling our gold reserves, too). But the hopeless regulatory uncertainty surrounding EU/UK energy policy has created a climate in which investment in major energy infrastructure ranges from difficult to impossible. Hinkley C appears to be moving to the impossible end of the scale.