Saturday, 30 April 2016

OECD cuts roaming charges in the EU

The EU have finally got around to implementing the OECD's recommendations for reforms to mobile phone roaming charges.

Mobile phone companies have been hiking their prices over the last couple of years to compensate for the £350m loss of income from roaming charges ahead of their abolition in 2017. Big cuts to roaming charges came into effect today, reducing roaming charges by about three quarters.

The OECD tasked regulators and industry bodies with finding ways to reduce or abolish roaming charges, one of which was the EU. Not that you'd know from the self-congratulation from our wise and benevolent masters in Brussels!

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

UKIP Hull appeal for support after billboards vandalised

Anti-democracy campaigners in Hull have vandalised a UKIP billboard within hours of it being put up.

Pain has been thrown on the billboard which was paid for using money raised by members and supporters in Hull. Most of the paint has been thrown over a picture of candidate Sergi Singh which could point to it being racially motivated.

UKIP Hull are trying to raise £5,000 to replace the billboards that have been vandalised. You can donate through the GoFundMe website.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The EU Commission - The end of 800 years of English Democracy and Liberty.

800 years on, democracy lost again

 From the EU's own website:
The Commission is the European institution that has the monopoly on legislative initiative and important executive powers in policies such as competition and external trade. It is the principal executive body of the European Union and it is formed by a College of members composed of one Commissioner per Member State. It also chairs the committees responsible for the implementation of EU law. The former comitology system has recently been replaced by new legal instruments, implementing and delegated acts.

Here in the UK, people often have a slightly confused view of government and parliament. This is because our government is made up of elected MP's chosen from parliament by our Prime Minister who is also an elected MP,.

We don't really see government/parliament as that different we focus more on the 'party of government' and 'party of opposition'.

Compare this to the USA where they have two houses (The Senate - like an elected house of lords, and The House of Representatives - like our elected 'backbench' MPs) but their government (the executive) is the separately, directly elected President and anyone who he appoints as his 'ministers', none of whom have to have been elected or ever have been a Senator or Representative.

The EU has the worst of both of these worlds - unlike the UK the EU government/executive is not made up of elected MEPs, it is appointed by unelected bureaucrats - but further even the president who runs it all isn't elected either!

The EU president may as well be like the English King John who ruled as absolute monarch until he was put under the 'Magna Carta' which established in law the rights of the English to be ruled by an elected parliament to whom even the King was answerable.

The EU government strips away 800 years of the best of English liberty and democracy. It is horrific that this has been allowed to happen - and even more horrific that people are arguing to let it continue by voting to remain in the EU at the upcoming referendum.

[First Published at]

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Great Tory #BRExit Con.

If UK convincingly votes 'remain' all bets are off, the UK is dead and we are history.

If UK votes for BRExit, Cameron will resign, Boris will take over and start (supposedly) negotiating our exit deal.

However, in Conservative hands it will not be a brexit deal - it will be an 'improved' remain deal...

This will be completed ready for the 2018 UK general election - and the general election will be presented as a second referendum on brexit.

Conservatives will go into GE2018 taking a win as support for their 'new improved' remain deal (associate membership).

It will be essential for UKIP to be in GE2018 and to win it - as they will (again) be the only part completely committed to brexit. And the only person I trust to lead UKIP doing this is Nigel Farage - whatever his faults, he is the only big name politician I trust to genuinely deliver brexit, because he is the only one who really believes in British values, British culture and a British future.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

GO public meeting in Stoke on Monday

Friday, 15 April 2016

Conservative councillor in Cheshire resigns over charity fraud

A Conservative councillor has resigned from his cabinet position on Cheshire East Council after it emerged that he is currently serving a four year ban from being a company director.

Cllr Sam Gardner was banned from being a company director after his company, Fomfest Ltd, went into liquidation with £440k of debts and auditors found that the company had spent £4k that it had raised for charity on company running costs.

UKIP councillor Brian Silvester has been leading calls for Gardner to resign and questioned why someone with a failed business with such large debts was put in charge of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money running the council's leisure services.

Deputy Chairman of Bradford Conservatives suspended

The Deputy Chairman of Bradford Conservatives has been suspended after being accused of anti-semitism, discrimination, misogyny and clan politics by Bradford MP, Naz Shah.

Abdul Zaman is accused of promoting clan politics, making anti-Jew comments and endorsing misogyny and anti-equality values in a letter sent to David Cameron by the MP.

The Chairman of Bradford Conservatives, Barry Whitaker, is conducting the investigation but has already made up his mind that Zaman is innocent and that he fully supports him. No prizes for guessing what the result of that investigation will be.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Green MEP and EU official call for ban on referenda

The Co-President of the EU Green group has joined the Director of the EU Asia Centre, Fraser Cameron, in calling for referenda to be banned across the EU.

Rebecca Harms MEP, a German Green MEP, wants to ban referenda on things that she thinks aren't suitable such as the €uro, immigration and trade agreements. Fraser Cameron went further the other day, calling for an outright ban on referenda.

Europhiles are unhappy at having to very publicly ignore the result of a Dutch referendum on an EU treaty with Ukraine which was rejected at the ballot box. The EU preference is not to ask voters for opinions because they might not get the "right" answer and then they have to go to the effort of rigging another referendum to make sure they get the result they wanted or just ignoring the result which leads people to ask inconvenient questions about democracy and why they no longer have any.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Calling Cllr Banwait ....

Some of UKIP's local election candidates in Derby have got a question for the Labour leader of Derby City Council, Cllr Ranjit Banwait ...

Cllr Banwait accused the leader of the UKIP group, Cllr Alan Graves, of being "borderline racist" for arguing that it's not unreasonable to expect an immigrant to learn English before coming here rather than expecting the taxpayer to fund English lessons or translation services for them once they've arrived.

Vote Leave designated official leave campaign

The Electoral Commission has designated Vote Leave the official leave campaign for the EU Referendum.

The decision wasn't a surprise as one Tory MP congratulated Vote Leave on their designation last night, two days ahead of tomorrow's deadline which may have forced the Electoral Commission into making the announcement today.

UKIP's NEC has voted unanimously to get behind Vote Leave whilst Aaron Banks says he intends to seek a judicial review on behalf of Leave.EU which could potentially delay the referendum until October. Grassroots Out says that it will continue to campaign within the reduced spending limit.

The Electoral Commission decided that the politician's choice was the campaign that would best represent leave campaigners rather than Grassroots Out. Vote Leave is a much slicker campaign with the most professional politicians behind it but Grassroots Out is the blue collar campaign that wanted to pull everyone together. Regardless of the dubiousness of the Electoral Commission's reasoning, we now all need to get behind the designated leave campaign and win this referendum. Refusing to support Vote Leave, wasting time and money on legal proceedings or any other distractions are not going to help the campaign, we have just 70 days to secure our independence.

Powerless UK Competition & Markets Authority begs EU to block Three-O2 merger

The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has written an open letter to the EU Commission begging them to block the merger of mobile phone operators Three and O2.

The two companies agreed to a merger last year which would create the UK's largest mobile phone operator. In anticipation of opposition from the CMA, Three said that it would open up the combined network to virtual mobile network providers like Virgin and Sky to encourage competition but the CMA isn't happy at the prospect of having only three mobile networks and desperately wants to block it but that authority has recently been quietly transferred to the EU.

Last year, when the CMA was still allowed to do its job, they approved the merger of BT and EE. This created a combined operator that still has a virtual monopoly on fixed line phone and broadband, is the dominant mobile phone operator with both EE and BT Mobile between them owning around 40% of the 4G spectrum (thanks in no small part to OFCOM letting EE use part of its 2G spectrum to get 4G services out ahead of its competitors) and is one of the dominant streaming TV operators with BT TV, BT Sport and EE TV. Why they feel inclined to oppose the Three-O2 merger but not the BT-EE merger is a mystery but how pathetic is it that the UK regulator has to ask the EU to block a merger that they don't think should go ahead?

EU pushing for tax power grab off the back of Panama Papers

The EU are trying to use the Panama Papers scandal to grab more powers over taxation.

Despite there being very few reports of criminal activity, they are focussing entirely on tax evasion as an excuse to call for more centralised control over taxation, a pan-EU blacklist of countries that won't share information with the EU and penalties for anyone putting their money offshore.

Under new regulations, large companies will have to publish information about the amount of profit they make in each EU country, how much money they make before tax and how much tax they pay. The proposed new regulations have been criticised by some of the businesses affected and industry analysts who point out that this is commercially sensitive information.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

British government will spend £9m on EU propaganda leaflet for every household

The British government is planning to spend more than £9m on sending a pro-EU leaflet to every household.

This £9m won't come out of the spending limit for the Remain campaign and will be in addition to the £700k or so of taxpayers' money that the Remainians will get when the Electoral Commission designates an official campaign.

Speaking of the Electoral Commission, they aren't happy about this leaflet. They have taken the unusual step of publicly criticising the government, saying that it isn't right and shouldn't be sent. They are, of course, powerless to prevent it being sent because no dictatorship worth its salt would allow an electoral commission to do its job effectively when it comes to distributing propaganda or enforcing election spending rules, for instance.

It has been suggested that the letters should be returned to 10 Downing Street marked "return to sender" but Royal Mail will ensure they are just discarded rather than deliver van loads of letters to wherever it is Downing Street's mail goes (it isn't Downing Street). A much better option would be to send it on to your local MP with a suitable and polite message explaining what the government can do with its propaganda. If they have a freepost address drop it in the mail. Or if you prefer hand deliver it to their constituency office. In a large group with a photographer in tow.

Dutch reject EU-Ukraine treaty in referendum

The Dutch have voted overwhelmingly to reject an EU deal with Ukraine that would give the country visa free travel with the EU.

The rejected treaty was designed to reinforce the EU's claim to Ukraine and wind up Russia. The referendum was seen as an opportunity to give the EU a kicking and the Dutch didn't disappoint.

Around 68% of those who voted in the advisory referendum voted against the treaty with turnout provisionally put at about 32%. A minimum turnout of 30% is required for the referendum result to be valid but the result is only advisory in any case.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Some perspective on trade and Cameron's dangerous games

Supporters of the EU talk a lot about the impact on trade of leaving the EU. They tell us that leaving the EU will be devastating for trade and cost 3 million jobs.

This claim is simply based on just under 10% of our trade being done with the EU, an assumption that just under 10% of of jobs are therefore linked to trade with the EU and a ridiculous assumption that leaving the EU will mean ending all trade with the EU and therefore making those jobs redundant. The idea that we would cease all trade with the EU when we leave is just preposterous and there is no evidence of any correlation between the percentage of trade we do with the EU and the number of jobs in the economy. These jobs (whatever the number really is) rely on trading with the EU, not being a member of the EU. Almost every country in the world trades with the EU and almost all of them are not members of the EU.

Let's just put these claims about trade into perspective shall we?

How much of the UK's trade is actually done with the EU? Listening to the Remainians you'd think it was most of it but it's not. Less than 10% of trade carried out in the UK is with an EU member state, just over 10% is carried out with non-EU countries around the world and a little over 80% of trade in the UK is domestic trade carried out within the UK.

So only about 9% of trade carried out in the UK is with EU countries and the other 91% is either domestic trade or with the rest of the world outside of the EU. The impact of the laughably implausible scenario of all trade with the EU ending two years after our referendum is not insignificant but we're talking 9% of trade, not 90%. In the incredibly unlikely event that the EU stops trading with its largest export market - that's us if you didn't know and it's something that literally nobody but Guardian readers believe would happen - then we're talking about 9% of all trade carried out in the UK as it stands now without the increased trade from being able to trade freely with the rest of the world again.

So whilst trading with the EU is important and of course serious curtailment of trade with the EU (which would be illegal under WTO and EU rules) would have a negative impact on the economy, what about the benefits of not being shackled to the red tape machine that is the EU Commission? Being able to retake our seat on the World Trade Organisation would be a positive, obviously. Free trade agreements with the world's largest and fastest growing economies would of course be another huge positive. But remember that over 80% of our trade is with ourselves where free trade agreements and import duties are irrelevant. The biggest difference leaving the EU will make on our day to day lives is that the 91% of our trade that's conducted outside of the EU won't be regulated and restricted by the EU.

When we vote to leave we can do away with EU tariffs on energy saving lightbulbs that were imposed to protect german manufacturers from cheaper Chinese imports. Nor will we pay through the nose for "cheap" shoes because of EU tariffs imposed to protect Italian cobblers. We will be allowed to eat bendy (or straight) bananas and square strawberries. We won't have to cover the cost of the EU's carbon trading scam scheme through our energy bills. In other words, we will be free from the kind of clueless, self-perpetuating bureaucracy that can spend 6 months investigating the safe quantity of wine gums a lorry driver can eat before discovering to their utter amazement that wine gums don't actually contain any alcohol.

By drafting in big business to fight on the side of Project Fear, David Cameron and his cronies are playing a very dangerous game. They are backing these companies into a corner where they will be forced to react negatively to a leave vote to save face, having told the world that the UK outside of the EU will be bad for business. Investors aren't going to have faith in the board of a London-based company that predicts the collapse of their business when we leave the EU and then after we've voted to leave carries on as if nothing happened. If they can't get that right then what else have they got wrong and while we're at it, why is their investment being risked by using it as a political football? These are the inconvenient questions they will be keen to avoid.

The complete lack of planning for a leave vote is another dangerous game. It's sowing uncertainty and it's having a negative impact on the economy. This is deliberate of course because companies and investors like certainty and they're not getting any and what better way to scare people into thinking a leave vote will damage the economy than by sabotaging it while we're still talking about it? Companies and investors want to know that the British government has a plan for life after Brexit but all they're getting is lobbying from ministers and civil servants trying to get them involved in Project Fear.

But the most dangerous game of all is talking down our prospects. Having spent the whole referendum campaign telling the world that we can't survive without the EU, he can't then tell the world that the UK is the best place to do business outside of the EU after we've left. In his desperation to make voters think that the world's 5th largest economy can't survive outside of the world's fastest declining economic bloc Cameron is telling the world that we are weak and that they may as well give us a wide berth when we vote to leave.

These are not the actions of a capable leader, these are the actions of a desperate man who has staked his political career on this referendum and has no qualms about taking the economy down with him to try and secure the result most likely to keep him in a job.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Project Fear claims Brexit will mean holidaymakers paying thousands in medical fees

The mad cows at the BSE campaign have claimed that leaving the EU will mean big bills for anyone getting ill on holiday because we will no longer have access to the EHIC card.

Except Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein are all members of the EHIC scheme but aren't members of the EU and the NHS has reciprocal agreements with Armenia, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia, British Virgin Islands, Falklands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, St Helena, Serbia and Turks & Caicos which allow British citizens to also get medical treatment in those countries as they would in EHIC countries.

Tens of thousands of journeys abroad are made every year by UK residents with the USA being the third most visited destination. Visitors to the USA don't get free healthcare, they buy travel insurance or increasingly get it included with their bank accounts. You can pick up £15,000,000 of health cover for a 7 day trip to the USA for under £23 for an average family of four (we checked) so EHIC is hardly a deal breaker when you're paying thousands for a family holiday.

UKSA instructs ONS to review its flawed immigration statistics

The UK Statistics Authority have told the Office for National Statistics to review the way they estimate immigration figures after figures were obtained in February that showed more than double the number of National Insurance numbers were issued to EU immigrants last year than the number of EU immigrants that the ONS said came to live here.

There is no routine checking of who comes into or leaves the country so ONS figures are estimated based on a survey of a few thousand people at ports. The ONS said that last year EU immigration was 257,000 people but the HMRC issued 630,000 National Insurance numbers to EU immigrants for the same period. Even if half those National Insurance numbers were issued to EU immigrants already living here who had spontaneously decided to start working and paying tax, every newly arrived EU immigrant would have had to be an adult registering to pay tax and it would still leave 58k NI numbers unaccounted for. The numbers just don't add up and by such an enormous margin that there is either benefit fraud on an unprecedented industrial scale or the ONS methodology is so fundamentally flawed that their statistics are no more accurate than rolling a dice and adding a few zeroes.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Labour's South Shields branch suspended until at least January 2017

The Labour Party has suspended its South Shields branch over allegations of bullying and intimidation.

A preliminary investigation found evidence of a "genuine problem" within the branch and the suspension will remain in place until January 2017 at the earliest.

The Labour Party has been forced to suspend a large number of members, councillors and even one of their MPs in recent months for various reasons including bullying, anti semitism, fraud and paedophilia.

Prescription charges in England go up to £8.40, still free in Scotland, Wales and NI

Regular as clockwork the British government puts up prescription charges in England every year on 1st April.

The yearly increase in the sickness tax falls on April Fools Day and we must be fools to continue to put up with it. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have all abolished prescription charges over the past few years but the British government has no desire to do the same in England.

Prescription charges are just one of many examples of the British government ignoring English public opinion and a symptom of the democratic deficit arising from the refusal to devolve power to an English Parliament. It's time the British government did the honourable thing and put it right.