Just two weeks to Independence Day!
Billionaire Backs Brexit
The Times headlines “Boost for Brexit as billionaire votes to leave”. This is Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB. God bless those big yellow machines. JCB is one of the largest engineering companies, manufacturers and exporters in Britain. It’s a global player that trades all over the world, so Lord Bamford knows what he’s talking about. He’s also a major Tory Party donor – which must be making Cameron squirm. Of course we’ve always known that Lord Bamford is a eurosceptic, but his announcement – and especially the timing, with just a fortnight to go – is a superb bonus for the Leave campaign.
Sarah Wollaston goes the other way: ITV reports that Sarah Wollaston MP has switched from Leave to Remain, apparently outraged at what she sees as exaggerated claims about the NHS made by the Leave Campaign. Presumably she takes the view that Remain’s claims are all moderate and reasonable.
Farage wins the “debate” with Cameron
I wrote yesterday about the Farage/Cameron face-off on ITV on Tuesday night. The Times runs a “Red Box Poll” which measures viewer reactions during the programme. Nigel Farage scored higher amongst both supporters and undecideds than Cameron did. That will provide food for thought for the Vote Leave campaign, which has always felt that Farage was too divisive a figure to make a positive contribution.
Repercussions of the debate: Today’s Sun leads with the story of Harry Boparai, the father of three who savaged David Cameron in the ITV debate, saying Cameron had allowed uncontrolled immigration to ruin his home town of Slough. Mr. Boparai urges Sun readers to vote for Brexit, saying that he will quit the UK if we vote to Remain, and adding for good measure that Cameron should trying living Mr. Boparai’s life for a day. I think it’s fairly clear where the Sun is heading in the Brexit debate.
Thatcher Minister quits Tories in Brexit Row: In another blow to David Cameron, John Nott, Defence Minister during the Falklands War, has left the Tory party, incensed by the line that David Cameron is taking. He attacks Cameron’s “tirade of fear”, saying that Cameron and Osborne have “poisoned the debate” with their “frenetic warnings” over the consequences of Brexit. They are “alienating Conservatives”, who are “not Little Englanders or quitters”.
Osborne terrorises Scotland
Osborne will warn today that Brexit would cause huge damage to Scotland, increasing unemployment by 43,000 and youth unemployment by 6000. I have previously described this regular Remain ploy: you start with two highly questionable assumptions – that Brexit will (A) cause the Pound to fall out of bed, and (B) reduce trade – and everything else follows. You can choose any group – the universities, the NHS, cancer patients, scientific research, or in this case, Scotland – and infer damage to the selected sub-group. But the whole thing is a nonsense if the underlying assumptions are false. We want Brexit because it will facilitate growth and prosperity. The Scots (and the rest of us) will be better off out.
Nor should we panic about a break-up of the United Kingdom. The SNP will no doubt want to consider Brexit as a pretext for a second Scottish referendum. But a recent poll in The Scotsman showed that after Brexit, and if there were a new Scottish referendum poll, Scots would vote by a decisive ten-point margin to stay in the UK. And they would be right to do so.
What does Cameron really believe (if anything?)
Footage has emerged of a young David Cameron, then Leader of the Opposition, in a tirade against Brussels. Yet today he is leading the campaign to keep us in the EU. Or as someone put it on Twitter, “We can see the flames – we can smell the smoke – but Cameron tells us to stay in the building”. UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall comments: “He ditched his promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, he ditched his promise to get ‘fundamental reform’ of the EU, and now he appears to have ditched his belief Britain could ‘thrive’ outside the EU as he continues his preposterous Project Fear scaremongering”.
Cameron told to rule out Brexit sabotage by pro-Brussels MPs
Cameron has tried to rule out blue-on-blue debates on TV. But he couldn’t duck PMQs when Tory MPs, led by Liam Fox, demanded he rule out the possibility of pro-Brussels MPs sabotaging Brexit during the course of post-Brexit negotiations. A possible anti-Brexit guerrilla campaign by pro-Brussels MPs was described as a “democratic outrage”. Cameron is still saying he would stay on to negotiate Britain’s exit after a Brexit vote, but pro-Brexit MPs, and perhaps the British people, will demand that the process be led by someone who actually believes in it. Boris? Fox? Gove?
World’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund backs Britain after Brexit
Bloomberg reports that the world’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund, that of Norway, has said that it will maintain its investments in the UK regardless of the outcome of the Brexit vote. Given the extraordinary and blood-curdling warnings of post-Brexit economic collapse from the Remain Campaign, it’s good to see we have the endorsement of Norway. Whereas we in the UK spent the proceeds of North Sea Oil as we went along, the canny Norwegians put most of their proceeds into their Sovereign Wealth Fund – as we hope Britain will do if and when the shale gas business takes off.
We hear a lot about “the Norwegian Model”. It’s not the sort of EU relationship we want, as it would leave us liable to free movement, EU budget contributions and much EU legislation. But it has worked well enough for Norway. Their per capita GDP is $100,000, compared to the UK at $44,000 and an EU average of $38,000. Compare also Switzerland, another not-quite EU member, at $88,000.
“Albanian double killer lives freely in UK”
Yesterday I reported on Dominic Raab’s dossier of 50 serious offenders from Europe who have been allowed to stay on in Britain. Following the same theme, the Mail today leads with “Albanian double killer who has lived freely in Open Borders UK for 18 years”. On the run from a 25 year prison sentence imposed in his absence, he has reportedly claimed large sums in benefits while also working in the black economy.
Government to extend voter registration by two days
Voter registration in time for the referendum vote was due to close on Tuesday at midnight. But because the system crashed, due to the large number of hits, the deadline has been extended by 48 hours, to midnight today. Genuine excuse? Or the government desperate to skew the result and sign up younger voters ahead of the referendum? Who knows?
Jeremy Corbyn on Sky TV: perhaps not the most exciting piece of Brexit news, but the same Telegraph report announces that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will make his Brexit TV debut on Sky News on Monday June 20th. Perhaps his objective is to inject a little enthusiasm into the campaign. But not too much.
Merkel’s row with Turkey deepens
Despite Germany’s strong wish to maintain the EU migrant deal with Turkey, the spat between the two countries may get out-of-hand. Germany has summoned the Turkish Ambassador to complain of allegations by Turkish President Erdogan that some German MPs of Turkish origin are terrorist sympathisers, and apologists for the PKK Kurdish separatist group. The accusations seem to have been prompted by the Bundestag’s vote last week to recognise the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The issue is a red rag to Ankara. This row augurs badly for the EU/Turkey agreement.
EU means millions of toxic cigarettes smuggled into Britain
A report from accountants KPMG shows a massive rise in the smuggling of counterfeit and potentially toxic cigarettes from Romania. The flow has increased rapidly since Romania joined the EU in 2007, and Romanian citizens acquired free movement rights. In 2015, 580 million of these cigarettes were imported, up from 150 million in 2014. Of course the recent plain pack legislation will further facilitate these illegal and counterfeit flows. Yet another EU disaster to which Brussels is unable to respond.
France more eurosceptic than UK?
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in the Telegraph about a recent Pew Survey showing that dissatisfaction with the EU is even higher in France than in the UK – 61% (France) versus 48% (UK). This follows the progressive deterioration of the French economy, which is widely blamed on the EU. Not surprising that Greece is also up there at 71%, and even Spain at 49%. It looks increasingly likely that Brexit will spark a revolt across Europe which will profoundly change the shape of the EU, and may spell the end of the European project as we know it. I look forward to a new Europe of independent, democratic states linked solely by free trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation. A vote for Brexit is first and foremost a vote for Britain. But it may also prove to be a vote for a free and prosperous Europe.
A ban on European holidays?
A poll by a travel agency of over 2000 respondents shows that an extraordinary one-in-six believe that Brexit would mean a ban on European holidays. This sounds absurd, but it is a serious issue. The research says that 88% of those who believe there’ll be a ban think it’s a bad thing and will vote Remain simply for this reason. That could be more than 10% of voters. Let’s get the message out – after Brexit, we’ll still go on European holidays, we’ll still buy European cars and wine, and Europeans will still visit Britain and buy Jaguars and Nissans. Trade and travel will continue.
Tim Montgomerie on immigration
Worth reading Tim Montgomerie in the Times – Why Immigration could be what destroys Cameron. And David Young: “Ignore the WTO – we’d be better off with Brexit”. Subtitle: “The EU is at heart uncompetitive”. Well yes, that’s all too true.
“Brave Lions stand up to euro terror”
I don’t often cite the Daily Star, but I liked their headline “Brave Lions stand up to euro terror”. So should we.
Fog over the Channel
I was delighted by a headline in Dernière Nouvelles d’Alsace this morning. It featured “Brouillard sur Brexit”. My French isn’t very good, but I think it means “Fog over the Channel – Continent isolated!”.