Farage: bad news, good news
The bad news: Nigel Farage has resigned as Leader of UKIP. Nigel has devoted more than 20 years of his life and his career to the task of reclaiming our country for democracy and self-determination. Without him, there would have been no Referendum. Without him and the party he largely created, we should not have been able to win the Referendum. I have personally seen in recent years the extraordinary workload he has taken on (which before you ask is one reason among many why I shall not be throwing my hat in the ring). He now says he “wants to take his life back”, and few people have so well deserved an opportunity to do so.
The good news: Nigel plans to stay on as an MEP, and as co-President of the EFDD, our parliamentary group. We can still expect to see him on the front row of the hemicycle, sparring with the europhile leaders of other groups, and with Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (until Angela Merkel gets Juncker fired). That in itself will be a full-time job – I fear that Nigel will have to wait a bit longer for that fishing trip.
Death threats after the Brexit vote: The Express reports that Nigel has faced a number of death threats, and threats against his family, following the Brexit vote. It is appalling that in our free country a man who has done so much for Britain can face this level of harassment and threat. With the memory of the Jo Cox murder still in our minds, this level of risk to public figures should be a serious concern to all of us.
The Independent. “Farage’s Legacy”. The Indy predictably offers an unflattering account of Nigel Farage’s resignation, blaming him for the short-term consequences of the Brexit vote (where the blame, of course, lies with Cameron and Osborne and their dire predictions which seem to have spooked the markets). They also warn of serious consequences “if migrant workers are forced to leave Britain”. Get real, you guys. No one has proposed that migrant workers currently in the UK should be deported (though I note that Theresa May declines to guarantee their status).
The Metro: “Is this what they meant by Project Leave?”. The Metro front page shows Boris and Nigel, with the Question “Is this what they meant by Project Leave?”. They’re trying to build a narrative that the leaders of the Leave campaign are running away from the consequences of the vote (although Gove and Leadsom are still in the Tory leadership race). But Boris wanted to be PM, and only withdrew when he realised he couldn’t win, while Farage will continue to play a major rôle in UKIP. I had a similar line in a radio interview yesterday: “Whom do the public hold to account if things go wrong?”. But we’re not interested in planning whom to blame if things go wrong – we’re interested in making sure they go right, and that Britain benefits from the opportunities which Brexit offers.
“UKIP plot to get Andrea Leadson as PM”
It’s extremely flattering when others believe you have almost supernatural powers to move the world – however improbable it may be. But this one takes the biscuit. The Times has a front page report “UKIP plot to install Leadsom as PM”. In fact the detail of the story reveals that it is little more than an accusation from the May Camp following the decision of Arron Banks, a major UKIP donor, to support Leadsom. It is surely no surprise that many UKIP members think that Andrea Leadsom is the best of the bunch seeking the Tory Leadership. She had an excellent Referendum campaign. She is transparently sincere. She wants to fast-track invoking Article 50, and getting on with the Brexit process. And as an added bonus, she understands the problems with wind turbines as few in the government do, and she opposes the absurdity of HS2.
Certainly in social media (or at least the parts that I follow) there is great support for Leadsom. But the Times suggestion that UKIP is in a position to plot, and to pull strings, and select the next Tory Leader, is fanciful. If only.
Johnson backs Leadsom: Boris Johnson has declared his support for Andrea Leadsom. Many of those previous supporters of the BoJo campaign are expected to switch to Leadsom.
Leadsom Launch event: The Leadsom launch campaign took place yesterday. She promised to invoke Article 50 as soon as elected, and to control immigration. She also undertook to protect the right of EU citizens currently in the UK. Meantime the BBC continues to stoke unwarranted fears for the status of existing immigrants.
Theresa May has 100 pledges: The Daily Mail reports that Theresa May now has the backing of ten Cabinet Ministers and 100+ MPs. May has promised to go ahead with the Trident replacement. There seems little doubt that May will top the list of two MPs which will be put to Tory voters in the country. It seems increasingly likely that we shall see an all-woman short list, with Andrea Leadson also featuring. May remains the bookies’ favourite, but in politics, the favourite doesn’t always win.
Schulz calls for “a real European government”
Both parliament President Martin Schulz and Commission President Jean Claude Juncker are facing criticism, and calls for resignation, on the basis that their pressure for faster EU integration is seen to have driven demand for Brexit in the UK. But completely unchastened, Schulz is now calling for “a real European government” that could be voted in and voted out like the government of a member state. But there’s a problem with the Schulz plan (beyond the fact that very few people, barring Schulz himself, seem to want it). Before you can have a real, legitimate, democratic European government, you need a real, genuine European “demos“. You need an electorate with a common identity. As Enoch Powell put it, they need to “share enough in common, in terms of language, culture, history and economic interests that they are prepared to accept governance at each other’s hands”. Sorry, Martin, but no such electorate, no such demos, exists in Europe. The only way to deliver a democratic Europe is to have a Europe of democratic nation states, linked by free trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation. That is the Europe that could be ushered in as result of the courageous decision of the British people to leave the dying, dysfunctional EU structure.
German business chiefs warn against “punishing” the UK
The FT reports that Markus Kerber, head of the German equivalent of the CBI, has repeated his warning against Brussels seeking to “punish” the UK over Brexit. I have always argued that there is an overwhelming economic/industrial imperative for the EU to reach a free trade deal with the newly-liberated UK, and that German CEOs would kick the doors down in Brussels to get a good and timely deal. It seems my point is not misplaced. There seem to be three opinion groups in the EU: Senior politicians like Merkel, facing re-election fairly soon, are keen to do a deal with Britain to avoid trade blockages and job losses. Business leaders are equally keen, recognising the importance of the UK market. Only the bruised egos of the Brussels apparatchiks are calling for punitive measures. And of course if the EU wants to “punish” the UK, it will find that it has done even more damage to itself. In the current parlous state of the eurozone economies, that’s something Brussels really can’t afford.
UK set to pay Brussels £12 billion next year
The Express helpfully reminds us that despite the Brexit vote we’re still on the hook for £12 billion net next year. The next Tory PM may like to reflect that each month we delay invoking Article 50 will cost the UK economy another billion pounds in EU budget contributions. Germany of course is very concerned that after Brexit, it may be called upon to pick up the slack in the EU’s budget. The new accession countries in the east won’t help – they’ll be net recipients, not contributors.
Standard Life suspends property fund redemptions
The Guardian reports that Standard Life has suspended redemptions from its property fund owing to uncertainty in the property market following the Brexit vote. This seems to be another legacy of Osborne’s Project Fear. I expect markets to stabilise within weeks, and Standard Life to resume redemptions.
A tax haven on the EU’s doorstep?
Juliet Samuel in the Telegraph has an interesting take on Osborne’s plan to cut corporation tax in order to promote inward investment following Brexit: she describes the UK as “a giant tax-haven on the EU’s doorstep”. Neat idea.
Sweden: more trouble with migrants at public gatherings
Distasteful it may be, but we should be aware of it. There are more reports of assaults and rapes by “young men of foreign appearance” at two Swedish pop festivals over the weekend. No wonder that Sweden’s legendary tolerance of immigration is coming under increasing strain.