Only 26 days to Independence Day!
Cameron rows back on Project Fear
Our Prime Minister has a track record of saying one thing in the UK and another overseas. In Istanbul, he’s Turkey’s strongest supporter for EU accession. In London, Turkish accession won’t happen until the year 3000. In Britain, Brexit would be an economic disaster and cause a Third World War. But in Tokyo, it’s a different story. In Japan at the G7 yesterday, he insisted that Britain could survive outside the EU. Reminded of his previous statements (months ago) that Britain could thrive outside the EU, the Express reports he said “I withdraw absolutely nothing of what I’ve previously said”.
So there you have it: Dave is going soft on Project Fear (though he denies allegations that he’s a closet Brexiteer).
All these Project Fear Doom-and-Gloom stories are based on the idea that Brexit would damage the economy. If you start from that point, then you can select almost any group or organisation in our society, and say it will suffer too. That’s why we’ve had all the “Brexit will damage pensioners/universities/science/the-NHS/small-businesses/jobs/cancer-sufferers/whoever-you-like”. But the economic case is built on two very questionable assumptions: that the Pound will devalue, and that trade will be reduced.
Neither of these claims is particularly credible. As I have argued before, the Pound looks a much better prospect that the disastrous €uro. And trade will continue: we’ll keep buying BMWs and Mercedes, they’ll keep buying Toyotas and Jaguars.
Voting to Remain could hurt your pension
Turning the tables on George Osborne’s hysterical claim that Brexit could cost pensioners £32,000 each, pension experts are pointing out that voting to Remain could hurt your pension. The EU’s Solvency Directive has already reduced annuity rates in the UK, and will do so further. Moreover if we stay in the EU, we will not be able to avoid the costs of a €uro collapse – even though we’re not in the €uro.
The same article quotes a former HSBC boss making the economic case for Brexit, saying it could protect the UK from the inevitable €uro meltdown; reports that a committee of MPs has savaged the Remain claim that Brexit would cost every family £4,300 a year; and highlights Cameron’s unfortunate suggestion that mass immigration was “a price worth paying” to avoid an economic meltdown. Sorry, Dave, we don’t have to have either the meltdown or the mass immigration.
Armed Forces Minister confirms: if we Remain, we’ll have to join the EU Army
First they said that EU Army was a Eurosceptic fantasy. Then they admitted it would happen – but we could stand aside. Now the redoubtable Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt lets the cat out of the bag: if we stay in the EU, we’ll be dragged into the EU Army. As I’ve said before, I don’t see too many members of our armed forces voting to be commanded by German (and other) officers.
Priti Patel: only Brexit can prevent immigration chaos
Another Minister weighs into the Brexit debate, saying that Brexit is the only way to prevent immigration chaos.
Obvious, but worth repeating. And refreshing to have a Minister from an ethnic minority background making the case: that’s a rebuke to Gordon Brown and his racist slurs.
Boris reassures British farmers on agricultural support
Boris Johnson, speaking on the BBC’s Countryfile, has reassured British farmers that farm support will continue after Brexit: there’s life after CAP.
Almost all advanced countries operate a system of farm support of some kind, and the EU’s CAP is by no means the most generous. It’s in the middle of the pack in terms of percent of GDP. We had a farm support régime before we joined the EU. We’ll have one when we leave. Obvious, but worth repeating.
If our own government has failed to take post-Brexit planning seriously, it seems the same cannot be said of EU leaders. The Independent reports that core EU countries are looking at how to handle the aftermath of Brexit, amid concern that it could lead to “contagion” (in other words, if Britain can recover independence and democracy, other EU member-states might take a similar approach). This story comes with the usual warnings that we in the UK can’t expect a good deal, because that might encourage other defectors.. But when Brexit happens, sheer economic imperatives will overwhelm any punitive ideas.
And another reason why Brussels fears Brexit
Ron van het Hof, chief executive of Euler Hermes in Germany, says that Brexit could cause an increase in insolvencies in Germany. He too is making the highly questionable assumption that Brexit would harm trade between Britain and the EU. But when German or French politicians argue against Brexit, they’re not just thinking of our benefit: they’re thinking of their own. (Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, for example, wants to ensure that British tax-payers’ money keeps flowing to French farmers).
Committee of MPs condemns claims on both sides of the debate
The “i” leads on the criticism by the Commons Treasury Committee of claims made on both sides of the debate. Their conclusion seems to be “a plague on both your houses”.
Delia Smith cooks up a wrong answer
Delia Smith has a thoughtful piece on the front page of the Guardian, lamenting the ding-dong debate over Brexit, complaining of scare tactics, and asserting that those tactics are not working – the public is inclined to ridicule them. That’s true – and arguably more damaging for Remain than for Leave.
But she makes one salient error which reflects a dangerous strand of thinking in the Brexit debate. There are still people (including Delia) who seem to think that the EU is some sort of international friendly society or social club, where we all get together to help each other. And who wouldn’t want to do that? As Delia puts it, “The much-maligned European Union is in essence a group of democratic countries attempting to work alongside each other”. If only, Delia, if only.
The EU is in fact a supra-national level of governance. It requires us to surrender our right to govern ourselves to an unaccountable, undemocratic, self-serving technocratic élite who clearly do not have the UK’s best interests at heart. Moreover it is a form of governance that, despite its pretensions of technocratic excellence, proves to be simply unable to deal with major challenges like mass immigration, or Turkey, or the €uro, or mass unemployment across southern Europe. In short, it is utterly dysfunctional.
We on the Leave side are all in favour of good relations and trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation. But we also believe we have both a right and a duty to govern ourselves in a democratic country. We want to be good neighbours, not bad tenants.