25 days to Independence Day!
Boris & Gove lash Cameron on immigration
The Times headlines “Boris and Gove lash Cameron on immigration”. They have a strong point. Before the last election, Cameron made a clear and unequivocal promise to get net immigration down to “tens of thousands”. This was (generously) interpreted as “below 100,000”. He utterly failed. Immigration figures went up. But instead of being honest, and admitting he simply can’t keep that pledge while we’re in the EU, he offers some mealy-mouthed hope that it can still be achieved – but no one knows how.
Gove and Johnson rightly claim that Prime Ministerial promises which are self-evidently false “corrode public trust”, and they are not wrong.
In a related story, Minister Priti Patel writes an incendiary piece saying that Cameron, with his wealth and privileged lifestyle, simply cannot understand the damage which mass immigration does to ordinary people. The wage compression, the pressure on schools, hospitals, housing, public transport.
And the effect on party management? It is difficult to see how the Conservative Party can reconstitute itself, either internally or in the eyes of the public, after the vitriolic tone of the Brexit debate. But that’s Cameron’s problem, not ours. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen says “Cameron is finished”.
Gove challenges PM to admit Five Key Facts on Brexit
The Sun reports that Michael Gove has written to David Cameron challenging him to admit “Five Key Facts” on Brexit. Gove argues that Remain will hand the EU’s 450 million inhabitants the permanent right to move to Britain; force Britain to admit EU economic migrants whether or not they have a job; give judges in Europe power to decide whether we can expel foreign terrorists and criminals; allow the European Court to over-rule any British government decision about asylum or immigration; and support the EU’s failed policies to deal with the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
“600 economists reject Brexit”
The Observer runs a headline “Massive boost for PM as 600 economists reject Brexit”. The Guardian qualifies the claim: in a poll, 88% of 600 economists reject Brexit. I make that 528, then. But it’s the same old story. Again and again, economists suffer from group-think. The old joke is that ten economists in a room will come out with eleven opinions. But on great issues, they largely agree with each other – and they’re usually wrong. Many of them are in Universities, who are notoriously pro-Remain, in the mistaken belief that Brexit will lose them funding.
I have mentioned before the letter in The Times from 364 economists in 1981 attacking Thatcher’s economic policy – just as the tide turned and she was vindicated. In the late nineties, large numbers of economists wanted Britain to join the €uro – a course that most would now recognise as disastrous. And of course many prominent economists support Brexit, not least Roger Bootle, Patrick Minford and Tim Congdon. In 1999, the CBI was strongly in support of joining the €uro (how history repeats itself!). For a forensic rebuttal of the Treasury’s Brexit analysis, read Tim Congdon.
“Key trade deals to stay in place after Brexit”
The Express highlights an explosive report from Lawyers for Britain, who argue that existing trade deals negotiated through the EU would stay in place after Brexit. This contradicts the Remain Campaign, which insists we’d have to start again with a clean sheet of paper and negotiate new trade deals from scratch – a daunting and time-consuming prospect. I’ve always argued that we would simply “grandfather” existing EU-brokered deals into bilateral deals – because this would be simple and advantageous for all concerned. I’m not qualified to comment in detail on this legal question, but it’s been hailed by the Institute of Economic Affairs as “a game-changer”.
MEPs vote to keep the Tampon Tax
In Brussels this week, in a “mini-plenary” session, MEPs voted against a proposal to drop VAT on tampons. This has been a vexed issue which has caused great concern amongst women, who object to paying VAT on a basic and essential sanitary product. George Osborne recently announced with a great flourish that he’d got permission from Brussels to drop the tax. Then it turned out that he hadn’t. And in any case, the European parliament voted it down. Osborne had cited this as an example of British influence in Brussels. It turns out to be an example of British impotence in Brussels. We can’t get a minor tax adjustment, even though it matters to British voters. Stepping back, it’s outrageous that we even need to go cap-in-hand to Brussels to ask permission on this issue.
Remember that MEPs also get to vote on Cameron’s “Reform” of in-work benefits, as part of his so-called “renegotiation”. I’m betting they’ll vote that down, too.
HSBC Boss: Seven reasons we’ll be Better Off Out
Mike Geoghegan, former boss of HSBC, has set out seven reasons he believes we’ll be better off after Brexit. Check them out here.
France retreats from NATO, seeks to dominate EU Army
We’ve had NATO Generals and Secretaries General telling us to stay in the EU. So it’s interesting that the Express reports that France in particular is intent on side-lining NATO, while pitching for a lead role in the new European Army. This is another reason why the EU is a threat to our security. Without the USA and NATO, there is no way the EU can defend itself – or us – in a dangerous world.
Signage on the highway
On Friday Morning I debated Brexit with Secretary of State Amber Rudd MP, at the Hastings Chamber of Commerce. Driving back through the day (the bank holiday traffic was appalling), A21/M25/M11, I saw about half a dozen examples of Referendum signage. (Sorry – I was driving too fast to take photos). It was all for Leave – none for Remain. And two examples were massive, billboard-sized, in prominent road-side sites. Impressive, highly professional stuff.
Caroline Lucas’s Dilemma
Pity poor Caroline Lucas. She wants to Remain, but she hates TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade Deal currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU). So she’s come up with a preposterous proposition that “Leaving the EU won’t save us from TTIP”. Nice try, Caroline, but it won’t wash. Like most Brussels apologists, she stresses that she wants to see major reform in the EU. But Caroline, we’ve been calling for EU reform for forty years. Don’t you understand yet? The EU doesn’t do reform.
Four great articles on Brexit
Worth a read: David Davis: “A Great British future awaits us outside the EU” Charles Moore: “The Leave Campaign must now allay the anxieties of Mr. & Mrs. Prudence”. Lord (David) Owen: “The risks of staying in are infinitely greater” Allister Heath: “Start-up Britain will thrive out of the EU”.