Cameron cronies honoured
The Sunday Times leads with the story “Revealed: Cameron’s honours for cronies”, and continues “Prominent Campaigners to remain in the EU, including four Cabinet Ministers, are in line for Knighthoods”, along with major Remain donors.
It may not be possible to bring the Honours System into more disrepute than it already faces. But rewarding only one side in the campaign — and the losing side, at that — shows cynicism on a grand scale. If Cameron is deliberately trying to undermine the Honours System entirely, he’s going about it the right way.
Hinkley C Latest
Now Vince Cable (everybody’s favourite uncle, as I like to think of him) is spilling the beans from previous Cabinet debates. He says that Theresa May had always expressed reservations about allowing the growth of Chinese investment in the UK. Was he right to tell secrets out of Cabinet? And if she had those concerns, were they justified? You be the judge. I have a simpler question: if we’re prepared to let the Chinese and French governments invest in Hinkley C — why wouldn’t it be better to let the British government invest in it?
At least if it were a British government which had invested £18 billion in Hinkley C, it might be less likely to bring in damaging and capricious energy regulation and taxation.
The Telegraph adds a detail: Cable says that May privately demanded security vetting for would-be Chinese investors. Can’t blame her for that. Makes sense.
Axeing Hinkley could cost £2.5 billion: The Times reports that cancelling the Hinkley project at this stage (which now looks at least a strong possibility) could leave tax-payers with a bill of £2.5 billion (yes, Billion with a capital “B” — not million). Cheerless news.
Merkel under fire for open-door immigration policy
Angela Merkel has stuck boldly to her open-door immigration policy. But now, thousands of German citizens are taking to the streets to demand that Merkel should go, and to oppose open-door immigration.
Maybe it’s time to buy shares in Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), the German eurosceptic party which opposes open-door immigration.
The tone of the debate in Germany is becoming increasingly toxic, as pro-immigration groups call themselves “anti-Nazi”, implying that reasonable concerns about mass immigration are equivalent to racism, if not genocide. The immigration and European debates in Germany are bedevilled by the shadow of the Nazi legacy.
Farmers and “Regrexit”
Searching as ever for anti-Brexit stories, the Indy picks up a legitimate question from the Earl of Sandwich John Montagu, in the House of Lords, about future farm subsidies after Brexit, and turns it in to a “Farmers now regret voting to leave” story.
The Noble Earl is perfectly entitled to ask the question — and many on the Tory benches have an ideological uneasiness about subsidies. But the fact is that all farming in developed countries (more or less) is subsidised (and EU farm subsidy levels, contrary to public perception, are about average in global terms). All politicians in Westminster know that subsidies are essential to maintain the agriculture industry in the UK. They know that British agriculture is essential for food security, for our balance of payments and for maintaining the rural environment. They would be mad if they failed to continue farm support at more or less current levels (but hopefully with less bureaucracy and box-ticking).
It’s a sad statistic that the average age of farmers in the UK is around sixty. But at least they’re old enough to remember that we had a perfectly good farm support regime in the UK before 1973, when we joined the “Common Market”. We will continue to have one after Brexit.
We have a choice. Do we want a farm support mechanism designed in Britain for British farmers? Or a farm support mechanism designed in Brussels for French farmers?
Aid for trade
And now a little piece of good news. The Telegraph reports that post-Brexit Britain will leverage its massive foreign aid budget to promote trade deals. It was absolute lunacy that we failed to do this in the past (and lunacy to commit to 0.7% of GDP in foreign aid). But if we’re going to spend this money, let’s at least see some return for it. A little hint of sanity returning.
Barclays’ benighted future
Barclays’ Bank publishes its assessment of prospects for UK and EU economies post-Brexit. Sadly, they haven’t “got it”, their forecasts today seem to be just a rehash of Project Fear. They seem to take no account of the up-sides of liberation.
My suggestion is: let’s trust what we see in the real world, rather than the down-beat forecasts of the pessimists. But that’s not what the City expects:
“City bets on interest rate cuts and more stimulus to boost the economy”: So reports the Sunday Telegraph. Maybe they should read Allister Heath’s column from Saturday: “Britain is roaring ahead of US and Europe”. It’s time to stop talking ourselves down — and to start making the most of the opportunities that Brexit offers.
“Rate cut could cost UK banks £1.3 million”: “This is Money” reports estimates that a further 0.25% rate cut by the Bank of England, expected this week, is likely to cost British banks around £1.3 billion. If so, it seems unlikely that the BoE rate cut will be reflected in lower borrowing costs for customers.
Theresa May to miss the Olympics
Now here’s a first. I don’t think I’ve ever before cited a story from the Sports pages. For me, they’re like Tolkien’s “South Harad, where the stars are strange” (and some of the stars on the sports pages really are strange). But The Telegraph sports pages report that our Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to miss the Rio Olympics “in order to focus on Brexit”. And so she should. Karen Brady and Tracey Crouch will take her place. Whether fears of the Zika virus played any part in the decision, we don’t know.
Port Talbot: Decision next year?
Port Talbot has been out of the headlines for a while. But now the Telegraph reports that Welsh steel workers may have to wait until next year for a decision, while Tata struggles to finalise a deal with Germany’s Thyssen-Krupp.
Shoppers head back to the stores
“This is Money” reports research showing that after a short Brexit blip, shoppers are returning to the high street, and retail sales are more or less on trend. However it adds “This is despite very low consumer confidence”. Another example of a phenomenon I have pointed out before. The real facts — in this case footfall on the high street — look good. But expectations and confidence look negative, whether it’s the Purchasing Manager’s Index or consumer confidence. Yesterday at the UKIP Chairman’s Conference in Derby, out-going party Chairman Steve Crowther (to whom the Party owes a great debt of gratitude) launched a leaflet outlining all the positive post-Brexit news. We need to get out there and make the point. We Won. And it’s Working.