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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour MEP jailed for fraud

Disgraced Labour MEP Peter Skinner has been jailed for four years for fraud.

Skinner served three terms as a Labour MEP for the south east of England between 1999 and 2014. Between 2007 and 2009 he stole about £100k from the taxpayer which he used to pay his divorce settlement and fund a honeymoon in the US for his second marriage.

Labour say Skinner is no longer a member of their party but his website still hasn't been updated.

Friday, 29 April 2016

UKIP on 20% in YouGov poll for next week's local elections

With just a week to the local elections, YouGov have put UKIP on 20% in one of their opinion polls - the highest the party has ever had.

It's only one poll and such a jump hasn't been seen with other polling companies but it is a significant result nonetheless. A party needs 20%+ of the vote to be reasonably confident of getting multiple MPs elected under the Victorian FPTP system.

In Wales, where UKIP is tipped to make the most significant gains, the party is currently sitting on 17% for the constituency vote and 16% for the list vote with YouGov and those figures are fairly consistent across polling companies. To put that into perspective, UKIP got less than 5% in the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections. Interestingly, the Tories are only on 19% for the constituency vote and 20% for the list vote whilst Plaid are on 21% for the constituency vote and 20% for the list vote. The vagaries of proportional representation mean that a 1-2% difference in vote can mean a 100% difference in seats (it's still an infinitely better system than FPTP though) but with these numbers it's possible that UKIP could end up the second or largest party in the Senedd next week.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

EU threatens £93m legal action against UK over HGV Levy

The EU has threatened the British government with legal action after they botched the implementation of a policy they nicked from UKIP.

In 2014 the Tories implemented a version of UKIP's Britdisc, requiring foreign owned lorries to pay to use our roads. But they made the mistake of reducing road tax for UK-based lorries at the same time which the EU Commission has decided gives an unfair advantage.

If they are not convinced by the British government's response they will take the UK to the EU Court of Injustice where the taxpayer is likely to have to stump up more than £90m that has been raised from the HGV Levy.

UK haulage firms are already facing unprecedented challenges from high fuel prices, high taxes, cut price competition from abroad, crippling fines for the mistakes of border staff and violent attacks from illegal immigrants at ports. The HGV Levy goes some way to redressing the balance but if the EU get their way our hauliers will be on the back foot again.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bernard Jenkin MP is right to suggest an alternative to the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

The editor of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, is claiming that a letter from Bernard Jenkin MP reveals that Vote Leave wants to keep us in the EU for at least a decade but the letter doesn't actually mention Vote Leave and Kassam appears not to have read the letter properly.

Whilst there are undoubtedly some in Vote Leave who want to use a Leave vote as a negotiation tool to get reformed membership, the campaign itself is officially in favour of a Leave vote meaning we leave the EU. As Vote Leave's Chief Executive, Matthew Elliott, told us earlier in the year:
I'm not quite sure what else to say, other than the fact that if we are to win this referendum, we have to convince voters who have previously taken a "reformist" stance to come out for Leave - sadly Leave is not yet at over 50% in the polls! I am campaigning for a Leave vote, and there is no way I will campaign for or recommend a Remain vote. 
What Bernard Jenkin MP has said in his letter to a constituent is that he (not Vote Leave) thinks that there are other options available to the UK in the event of a Leave vote than immediately invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty as David Cameron has said he will do. His preference is to instead negotiate a new treaty with the EU that would do away with the need to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

In his eagerness to "prove" that Vote Leave is a trojan horse for the establishment Kassam has ignored the fact that Jenkin hasn't even mentioned Vote Leave and failed to consider whether what he says is a viable option.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty the only legal way to leave the EU is by giving notice to quit under Article 50 of the treaty. If the other member states agree to let us leave (no, this is not a joke) then a two year process is triggered in which we negotiate the terms of our exit and our future relationship with the EU. At the end of the two years we are out.

The is no other provision in the Lisbon Treaty for leaving the EU but under international treaty law a new treaty can supercede the Lisbon Treaty just like a piece of domestic legislation can implicitly or explicitly supercede another piece of domestic legislation. Bernard Jenkin's suggestion that we could conclude another treaty with the EU that would result in our exit from the EU and not require giving notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is absolutely valid and in fact the deal that we would negotiate with the EU if we leave by way of the Lisbon Treaty would quite likely result in a new treaty or at the very least a new annexe to the Lisbon Treaty. If it did result in a new treaty then that treaty would of course contain the repudiation of the Lisbon Treaty.

Where Kassam gets the decade in the EU thing from is Jenkin's clumsy wording about negotiating the new treaty where he says that we would have to negotiate with all 27 remaining EU members. 
It would be for the UK and the EU to agree the basis of a new relationship in the aftermath of a vote to leave. This would involve negotiation with all the other 27 member states at government-to-government level. This could take the form of a new treaty, which would mean the UK would not need to resort to Article 50. We will have many options open to us after a vote to Leave, unlike if we vote Remain and I am grateful to you for offering me your thoughts on the matter.
Conducting 27 separate negotiations would indeed take many years but there wouldn't be 27 trade deals with 27 EU members. One of the fundamental arguments for leaving put forward by Leave campaigners is that as EU members we can't negotiate our own trade deals because they have to be done collectively by the EU. Reading the whole paragraph, Jenkin is clearly referring to lobbying of the individual EU governments as Cameron did to get his "deal" to ensure that the agreement reached with the EU goes the right way.

If it was practical I would like to leave tomorrow but the whole machinery of the state needs to move from its current model where large chunks of government are outsourced to the EU to one where they actually do their own thinking. The biggest challenge will be DEFRA which has been little more than an outpost of the EU in the UK, the British government having handed control of fisheries and agriculture to the EU many years ago. In the case of DEFRA they will effectively be building a brand new government department. Government moves at a sedentary pace, it is unlikely that they could even decide what the department should do let alone resource it and get it working effectively. If there was an opportunity to delay the insourcing of at least some aspects of government beyond the two years allowed by the Lisbon Treaty then as long as fully leaving the EU is the end game and it doesn't delay that objective unduly, it isn't something that should be dismissed.

David Cameron has predicted pretty much everything short of an alien invasion (from outer space, not the middle east) when we leave the EU and when we do vote to leave he will want the record to show that he was right. Government departments have been instructed to make no plans for leaving and he has said that he will give notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty as soon as we vote to leave so government departments and the civil service will be starting from scratch with a fixed two year deadline to bring everything that has been outsourced to the EU back in-house and negotiate a new relationship with the EU. It's been set up to fail to secure Cameron's legacy but what Jenkin suggests is a way to make it work.

With an agreement that we cap our relationship with the EU as it is now, sign up to no new treaties and hand over no new powers we can chip away at what competencies the EU has (with a corresponding reduction in the membership fee of course) whilst negotiating a new treaty in parallel which will take us out but maintain a relationship with the EU on terms that work for us. As long as there is an agreed deadline for getting out completely - perhaps 5 years - and it's not used as a stalling technique there's no reason why we should choose to limit ourselves to two years to leave and equally no reason why we should have to use the Lisbon Treaty to leave if our best interests are served by leaving in a different way.

Vote Leave is clearly the establishment campaign - it's the one the politicians and other establishment figures flocked to - but is it a trojan horse? I don't think so. Our preference was for Grassroots Out to be designated the official Leave campaign but the Electoral Commission chose Vote Leave. Their decision was made transparently and whilst the decision wasn't the one we wanted there is no point trying to undermine the campaign that has all the money and resources and the mandate from the Electoral Commission to lead leave campaigners. Kassam's misleading analysis of Bernard Jenkin's letter and incorrect attribution of that misleading analysis of the MP's comments to Vote Leave are not helpful. Now is the time to work together, not play silly games.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Peterborough Labour withdraw "cheap and divisive" leaflet

The Labour Party have been forced to withdraw a local election leaflet being distributed in Peterborough after it emerged they had replaced a section about immigration in a Polish translation in a leaflet with words about keeping the city tidy.

The English section of the leaflet says that Labour will deliver a crackdown on the UK's "unjust immigration policy" but the Polish translation omits the mention of immigration and instead talks about the importance of keeping the area tidy and getting people involved in local politics.

The leaflet has been criticised as "divisive" with local Conservative MP, Stewart Jackson, saying "this is a cheap and divisive tactic that should have no place in an election campaign". Mr Jackson has presumably forgotten that just two years ago the Conservative Party in the London Borough of Newham went even further, appealing directly to the Muslim population with discriminatory election pledges in a leaflet written in Urdu and Gujurati. Hypocrisy aside, though, he's correct. This sort of thing is divisive and has no place in an election.

Why does the US want the UK to stay in the EU?

Last week President Obama told us that we must stay in the EU and that we'll be "back of the queue" when it comes to setting up a trade deal when we leave.

It has been noted that "back of the queue" is a very English thing for an American president to say. In the American vernacular he would be more likely to say "end of the line". Clearly there was some influence from this side of the pond in the president's speech.

But why would Obama be so interested in keeping us in the EU?

The US is the world's largest economy and naturally dominates world trade. Of the 15 trillion dollar economies, 5 of them (including the UK) are in the EU and have given up their seat at the World Trade Organisation and the right to negotiate their own trade deals. It is much easier for the US to dominate world trade with a third of the world's economic superpowers out of the equation.

The UK is the world's 5th largest economy and this is despite being a member of the EU rather than because of it. The last thing the US wants is for the UK to have a strong and flexible economy able to eat into the American share of the global economic pie.

But the main reason Obama so desperately wants us to stay in the EU is TTIP. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership is a trade agreement being negotiated behind closed doors between the EU and the US. National governments, MEPs and voters aren't allowed to know any of the detail of the agreement, it is being negotiated by unelected commissioners with the help of corporate lobbyists. TTIP will remove most tariffs on imports and exports which is a good thing but it will introduce Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which isn't.

ISDS is a mechanism that allows companies to sue national governments for doing something that harms their ability to make a profit. The US has written ISDS into its trade deals with its South and Central American neighbours and it has been a disaster for them. Columbia is currently being sued by a number of companies for loss of potential future earnings, the largest claim being for nearly £13bn which is about 20% of the country's national budget. That claim is for lost future earnings caused by the Columbian government turning part of the Amazon rainforest into a nature reserve where a mining company wanted to mine. In 2008, a quarter of such disputes being heard by international arbitration tribunals were cases brought against South American countries by US corporations.

The UK accounts for 17.5% of the EU's entire economic output. If TTIP isn't signed before we leave the EU, the agreement will lose nearly a fifth of its value overnight and American companies will miss out on the right to sue the British government for limiting their ability to make a profit. UKIP and others have tried and failed to secure an exemption for the NHS from TTIP to ensure the health service can't be forced into private hands through ISDS litigation. The big American healthcare providers will be able to sue the British government for not giving them a level playing field to compete with the NHS or allowing them to deliver services at the taxpayers' expense unless we're out of the EU before TTIP comes into force.

Obama has no interest in what is best for the UK, he is only interested in what is best for his own country which is entirely the correct attitude for the president to have. World leaders look after their own interests, not talk their country down and deliberately undermine confidence in their own economy to suit their political agenda. Cameron may think that he's pulled off a coup by getting Obama to back him up on the EU referendum but all he's done is show himself to be a weak, manipulative little man.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Illegal immigrants blockade Greek/Macedonian border

Illegal immigrants in Greece have blocked a border crossing into Macedonia, demanded to see ID cards and told Greeks they aren't allowed to pass.

The border crossing at Idomeni is home to 154 Greeks and 10,000 illegal immigrants trying to illegally make their way across Europe to countries like Germany, Sweden and the UK who offer the best benefits.

Left wing agitators were seen supplying the illegal immigrants with food to enable them to keep up their illegal blockade.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

History repeating itself

The EU Referendum is just a warm up for the 2020 general election. #EURef / #BRExit / #GE2020 / #UKIP

Be prepared - UKIP are now more important to the UK's continued existence than ever - and will be for a few years to come. 

The EU referendum result is likely to be close (although I have a few quid on 70/30 for out) - this will make GE2020 the real show down.

If Leave win, there will be two years of negotiation and GE2020 will be a referendum on the result of those negotiations. I believe the parties will go into the election with very different positions on the negotiation:-

Labour and Lib Dem (what is left of them) will go into GE2020 saying the negotiation has failed but was unnecessary and that #BRExit should be cancelled.

Conservatives will go into GE2020 backing the weak renegotiation they will have managed which will amount to the 'associate EU membership' they wanted all along.

However if Remain win, Lib Lab Con will go in as same old, same old.

But whatever the result of the referendum Leave or Remain, UK Independence Party will go in on a full an immediate exit - content to go with World Trade Organisation terms if needs be.

UKIP cannot declare this as it would be used to exclude them from the two years of negotiations that would follow a Leave vote, and they must at least try to make it real 'brexit' (No EU Fees, No EU Laws, No EU Passports) - however given the comments made by the Conservative (so called) Leave supporters I have no doubt they have no real intention of leaving - just of manoeuvring.

Given a leave vote, GE2020 will be the EU's 'second referendum' - the one they always have when the people give them the 'wrong' answer.

Be prepared - UKIP are now more important to the UK's continued existence than ever - and will be for a few years to come.

Radio Free UK - Top #BRExit Videos

Do share any you like!!

- Camerons EU Leaflet
- BBC Lie Live on Air
- 16yr old German Girl Merkel has Destroyed Germany (dubbed)
- You can't do that (remix)

Brexit Music Playlist

Audio Book - The Nazi Roots of the Brussels EU


[First published at]

Happy St George's Day

Friday, 22 April 2016

George Osborne's maths is as bad as his economics

George Osborne announced earlier in the week that leaving the EU will cost every household £4,300 per year.

Economists laughed at him and even the BBC briefly published an article explaining why his dodgy dossier was dodgy before "fixing it" to get it back on message. But just how dodgy is Gideon's dodgy dossier?

The "model" that was used to come up with the £4,300 per year cost of leaving the EU makes some assumptions. It assumes that we will end up with the same trade deal with the EU as Canada. Why Canada? No idea but it was probably chosen for its unsuitability to the UK's relationship with the EU but the main reason is probably that the Canadian free trade agreement has yet to come into force for the EU so the figures they use are conveniently unverifiable guesswork. The model also assumes that there will be slow economic growth and that the British government - specifically George Osborne's department - will impose tariffs on EU imports.

Assuming these worst case scenarios - economic depression and deliberate economic suicide by the Treasury - come to bear at the same time and we have the same trade deal as Canada and Canada's trade deal turns out to be rubbish then the model says GDP will be reduced by £36bn a year by 2030.

So how has the Chancellor got from a £36bn in GDP - the value of the economic activity of people and businesses in the UK - to Brexit resulting in a reduction in household income of £4,300 per year? The answer is that he hasn't. Or rather, he has made a link between the two but it's nonsense.

The £36bn reduction in GDP in 2030 has been divided by the estimated number of households in the UK in 2013 from statistics provided by the Office of National Statistics. This is the Office of National Statistics that tells us that 257,000 EU immigrants came to live here last year whilst HMRC issued 630,000 National Insurance numbers to EU immigrants in the same period. So if you divide this hypothetical £36bn by what the ONS guessed were the number of households in the UK three years ago (rather than the projected number of households in 2030) then you arrive at a figure of around £4,300. But actually, you don't because even the maths is wrong. There are approximately 26.7m households in the UK and 1/2,600,000th of £36bn is £13,483 so where has the £4,300 come from?

Claiming that every household would be £13,483 per year worse off by leaving the EU would convince absolutely nobody bu £4,300 per year? That's kind of believable if you didn't know better and were in the habit of believing economically illiterate politicians. But it gets better. If GDP was directly linked to household income as George's dodgy dossier suggests then the average household income of the UK would be £719,101 per year!

Imagine you get a knock at the door from a gas and electricity supplier who tells you they're going to save you money. They then proceed to tell you that based on your next door neighbour's tariff, your monthly phone bill and the amount of electricity your mum and dad used when you were 12, your current supplier will be overcharging you for your gas by £10,000 per year in 14 years' time would you give sign on the dotted line? Or would you laugh in their face and get back to Coronation Street?

Osborne's claims aren't even thinly disguised dishonesty, they are blatant fearmongering nonsense. The numbers don't add up, he's comparing apples with oranges and making assumptions based on dodgy statistics and guesswork to come up with an outrageous but just about believable headline for the papers.

Getting the big decisions right

Keep your nose out President Obama

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Happy Birthday Ma'am