‘Locked In Orbit ?’ …. We had hoped to mark our 50th edition with Britain’s final exit from the EU. Although the treasonous chicanery of the Lords and Remainer MPs has been narrowly defeated in the Commons, there are still many obstacles to our fully leaving the EU. Not least of which is Mrs May’s craven attitude towards Brussels; going down on bended knee and seeking their forgiveness. We have the strongest possible cards to play in the forthcoming trade negotiations with the EU, but don’t bet against Mrs May chucking our hand in. Perhaps when we reach edition No.100 we can finally open the champagne !
So in the meantime, we keep on ‘keeping on’. Our task is constantly to remind people what the UK voted for on 23rd June 2016 and as important, what they did not vote for. 17.4 million voted to leave the EU not only in name, but in substance. They voted ‘Leave’ to regain control of our laws, our borders and our trade. They did not vote ‘Leave’ in order to remain in the EU Customs Union; they did not vote ‘Leave’ in order to remain subject to the EU Single Market Regulatory Regime; they did not vote ‘Leave’ in order to keep an open border to unknown numbers of people. They did not vote ’Leave’ so that Britain could become a satellite state, ’locked in orbit around the EU’.
Democracy In Danger …. Without a hint of irony, the government has announced the first week of July to be ‘National Democracy Week’; a ‘celebration’ of the state of our democracy. We are living in a new age of anti-democracy; when anti-democratic ideas and beliefs are being propagated by an increasing number of political, cultural, academic and business figures. We see this particularly in the behaviour of those who refuse to respect the outcome of the 2016 EU Referendum, or the election of Donald Trump as US President. Closer to home, the wishes of the 84% who voted against the new unitary authority in Christchurch’s referendum are being overridden, even though it was a far more legitimate expression of the public’s view than the bogus ‘consultation‘ exercise carried out from on high.
Fear of ‘the mob’ is nothing new. In Ancient Athens, the cradle of European democratic thought, there were often fierce debates over how much power the people (’the demos’) should be given. Yet the history of Western Europe over the last 500 years has been of a growing enlightenment; away from arbitrary rule by medieval Emperors and Popes and towards parliamentary democracy and universal suffrage. Now it appears the peak may have passed and we are on the downward path again. The smear-label ’populist’ is being routinely applied to any political party of the right-wing spectrum that dares to articulate what the people actually want. What if the ‘demos’ are wrong ? What would happen if they made the ‘wrong’ choices ?
Fear of democracy is deeply rooted in the institutions and ideology of the EU and underpins everything it does. When twinned with the EU’s other great fear, nationalism, you can see the euro-federalists starting to twitch and foam at the mouth. Ah yes, they argue, national democracy is all very well in theory, but look what happened when Germany ‘elected’ Hitler? We cannot possibly allow that to happen again.
Such thoughts have understandably, driven official thinking in Germany and in much else of what the media regard as ‘progressive’ European opinion. But to argue that democracy ‘caused’ Hitler is to turn historical truth on its head and stems from a misunderstanding of Germany’s history in the inter-war years. To deal with it fully would take more space than we have here. Another time perhaps …..
It also ignores the evidence of countless countries where parliamentary democracy has been the key to peace, security and prosperity for all its citizens. It’s a tried and tested institution which we undermine at our peril. It is the best, perhaps the only way in which fundamentally divisive issues can be resolved peacefully without violence. But we all have a responsibility to respect its rules, to respect its outcomes and to be vigilant to ensure it is not undermined. The answer to tyranny should always be more democracy, not less. That is why despots and dictators have always sought to suppress it.
‘Arrivederci’ Brussels ……. After March’s General Election, when anti-EU parties won 70% of the vote, a coalition government agreed by the two leading parties (Five Star and ‘Lega‘), was vetoed by Italy’s pro-EU President, Sergio Mattarella. The objection was to the choice of the distinguished economist Paolo Savona as Finance Minister, on the grounds that he has described Italy’s decision to join the euro as ‘a historic error’. A substitute ’administration’ of unelected technocrats headed by the pro-EU economist Carlo Cotarelli was proposed instead, a similar manoeuvre to that used by the EU’s agents to anul the unwelcome results of recent General Elections in Greece and Portugal. But Italy is rather too big to be bullied in this way, and after agreeing to move Snr Savona to the post of Europe Minister (where he will probably cause Brussels even more trouble), it was agreed to let the Coalition take office. A major pillar of the EU and a founder member of the Common Market now has Western Europe’s first anti-EU government.
What this episode demonstrates (yet again), is the distain the EU has for democracy where it does not produce the results that the EU wants. Rejection of the euro is not unconstitutional. There is a strong argument that restoring the national currency is the only way in which countries such as Italy, Greece and Portugal can be saved from utter ruin. It is a proper subject for democratic politics.
All democracies require some form of constitutional ‘backstop’ to guard against the unconstitutional use of power. To put events in Italy into perspective, imagine the reaction in Britain if Jeremy Corbyn won the next General Election and on going to Buckingham Palace to seek HM’s approval for his new government, was told: ‘I’m sorry Jeremy, we cannot accept your new government as it’s loony Marxist programme will bankrupt the country overnight. Instead I’m going to run things through an appointed Royal Commission …’ Some might quietly agree with her, but that’s not the point; in such circumstances, the democratically expressed will of the British people must prevail. They must learn from their mistakes; the hard way if necessary. However if Corbyn came to the Queen with plans for a Labour/SNP coalition government, she would be within her rights to refuse it on the grounds that the SNP’s presence in government would destroy the unity of the kingdom that she is constitutionally pledged to uphold.
A Customs Union is not needed for UK trade to flow freely after ‘Brexit‘, as Robert Hardman‘s excellent report on Felixstowe (Daily Mail, 19th May) shows perfectly. Felixstowe handles around £80bn worth of world trade each year; that‘s 25x the amount of trade crossing the Irish border. Around three-quarters of it arrives from outside the EU, yet with digital pre-clearance these goods pass as easily through the port as those from the EU. Most goods are onto lorries and on their way to British customers in an hour. The digital systems are swift, simple, and inexpensive and easily adapted to resolve the impasse over future trading arrangements across the Irish border.
‘In effect, I am looking at Britain’s biggest warehouse. And I can find no-one here who is unduly worried about the ’hardness’ or ’softness’ of Brexit, for the simple reason that they will cope with whatever the system asks of them; just as they do already. And this place is still expanding. Given that average insured value of each container is £20,000, I am actually looking at £1bn worth of trade right now. And most if it has nothing to do with the EU Customs Union. Over the course of a year, 4 million container units, the great majority from outside the EU, will pass through Felixstowe on some of the world’s biggest ships. Because they are mainly non-EU goods, they must be declared and processed (many EU containers in the same ships already go through this system because it is so painless and it would be more complicated to separate them from the non-EU stuff). And it all works like clockwork. A further 250,000 containers come and go each year on the Ro-Ro ferries to and from the Netherlands. Because they’re travelling within the EU and thus inside the Customs Union, these goods do not need to be declared. Post-Brexit they may need to be. In which case they will have to comply with the same process as the other 4 million. It is not rocket science. It is not even particularly difficult ………’
‘There are still plenty of checks going on. But 98% of non-EU goods will pass through here just as easily as EU goods, for the simple reason that most will have cleared UK customs before they even touch British soil. They do so using a tried and tested cargo-tracking system developed in Felixstowe, called Destin8. It has worked so well for more than a decade, it now processes most of the non-EU maritime trade coming into this country and has been adopted in 70% of UK ports ….. Anyone trading goods from outside the EU clicks a few boxes on their computer and the software does the rest. It will send the manifest of goods and the customs declaration to every relevant party, including the shipping company, the Port Authorities, HM Revenue and Customs, DEFRA and Trading Standards .….. So how difficult would it be to adapt this system if the UK left the EU Customs Union so it also had to include the EU trade coming into Felixstowe ? Billions of pounds ? Years of pain and technical heartache ? Er, not exactly. It might take a minute or two. ‘It would probably involve adding a few extra keystrokes’ says Alan Long, Chief Executive of MCP, the company behind Destin8 ….‘ (Daily Mail, 19th May)
Stories You Won’t Hear on the BBC ……
‘John Bercow is facing further accusations over his supposed impartiality after a second anti-Brexit sticker was spotted on his car. In March, the House of Commons Speaker faced an angry backlash when it was revealed his car was bearing a sticker declaring ‘B******s to Brexit’. Yesterday it emerged that Mr Becow’s Land Rover Freelander carried a second sticker bearing the message: ‘Don’t blame me, I voted Remain’ ….. (Daily Mail, 1st June)
‘Brexit-hating peers are sitting on EU pension pots worth £5.7mn. More than a dozen of the Lords who backed an amendment to keep Britain inside the European Economic Area are entitled to generous sums due to their former roles in Brussels. They include Lord Mandelson, who will receive more than £35,000 a year due to his former job as EU Trade Commissioner, ….. Lord Kinnock, who was an EU Commissioner for 9 years rising to be Commission Vice-President, has a £1.65mn pension pot worth £89,400 a year. Baroness Kinnock, who spent 15 years in the EU ‘parliament’ has a pension pot of £358,000. Lord Patten (EU Commissioner for 4 years), has a pension pot worth £749,000, paying him just over £40,000 a year .…. EU rules state that former commissioners have to remain loyal to Brussels to continue receiving their pensions …’ (Change Britain, 12th May)
‘Senior Electoral Commission members have faced calls to resign after voicing opposition to Brexit. Commissioners are bound by a code of conduct requiring them to act to ‘uphold its impartiality’. But last month it emerged that before he was appointed, Chairman Sir John Holmes had spoken of ‘his regret’ at the referendum and condemned the ‘panoply of eurosceptic nonsense‘, by pro-Brexit campaigners. Commissioners Bridget Prentice, Lord Horam and Professor David Howarth also criticised ‘Brexit’ while in post. Former Labour MP Miss Prentice said that Tony Blair’s suggestion that the referendum result should be overturned was ‘spot on’, while Lord Horam said there was ‘great logic’ in calls for a second referendum. Mr Howarth said the result could not ‘bind the young‘ …. The Electoral Commission has dismissed calls for the commissioners to resign …. ‘ (Daily Mail, 12th May).
‘Lord Heseltine, among the Tory ‘Brexit’ wreckers in the House of Lords, is reportedly pocketing £90,000 a year in EU land subsidies ….. Having amassed a fortune in publishing, he and his wife bought Thenford House in 1976, an estate on the Oxfordshire/Northants border, which included 400 acres of land and a small village …… A Freedom of Information request shows that Lord Heseltine appeared to have received a series of EU farming subsidies since 2000, averaging £90,000 a year …’ (Daily Express, 11th May)
‘Oxbridge colleges are sitting on assets worth an estimated £21bn, including a portfolio of property, investments, estates, endowments and precious artefacts. The land and buildings owned by the colleges covers 126,000 ha; an area more than 4x the size of Manchester ……’ (The Guardian, 30th May)
‘Britain’s highest earners (1.3%) paid nearly one third of total income tax last year. The 400,000 who earn more than £150,000 a year, paid £54.3bn in tax, enough for the entire defence budget with £6bn to spare and 30% of the overall income tax (£178bn) for the year ending March 2018 …… This was a rise of 9% from the previous year and HM Customs & Revenue expects it to rise again to £57.9bn this year. By contrast, all those earning less than £150,000 saw their tax contribution increase by only 1%, to £123.3bn..’ (Daily Mail, 2nd June)
‘Most British people are united around the view that the scale of recent immigration has harmed communities, a report from a leading left-wing think-tank said yesterday. The report by Demos found that 71% thought that immigration had divided communities where migrants have settled, rising to 78% in areas that report experiencing ‘large scale migration in recent years’. 47% said that protecting British values should take priority over multiculturalism, against 35% who would ‘give priority to welcoming different cultures’. 55% said the government is ‘doing too little to promote traditional British values’. It concluded: ‘Only three issues appear to truly unite the nation: the belief that the country is in a state of decline ….. that immigration has negatively impacted British society and that the nations culture and traditions are not being sufficiently defended and promoted…….’ (Daily Mail, 30th May)
‘Our countryside is being concreted over by housing development at the fastest rate in 25 years. 8,420ha of greenfields were lost to development last year alone; an area equal to a town the size of Hastings. The amount of greenfield land given to developers has more than doubled in the last 4 years’ (CPRE Report, June 2018)
‘Britain and Russia could end up fighting a catastrophic war ‘by accident’, the former deputy supreme allied commander of NATO warned yesterday …… In a speech at the Hay Festival, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said: ’I don’t think anybody actually believes Russia wants a conflict with NATO. The problem is we could slide such a situation through a series of escalating problems and find ourselves getting there by accident …’ (Daily Mail, 30th May)
EUSFUL IDIOTS (No.3) .. ‘LILY ALLEN has declared there’s no space for refugees at her luxury Notting Hill flat, despite previously pledging to take some in. The outspoken singer, who a couple of years ago came under fire after apologising to migrants at the Calais camp on Britain’s behalf and vowing to take in a displaced child, was asked how many refugees she’s housed since then. Her reply: ‘None ….. If I had a really big house I would, but all my bedrooms are occupied with children..…’ (Daily Express, 7th May)
Tales From Europe ……..
DENMARK .… has banned full-face coverings from being worn in public, including Islamic veils such as the niqab and burka. Anyone caught flouting the ban from August 1st, faces a fine of 1000 Kr (£117). In a vote (31st May) Denmark’s parliament backed the new law by a large majority. Austria, France and Belgium have already brought in similar laws’ (Daily Mail, 1st June)
RUSSIA ….. ‘Ordinary Russians are not embarrassed at the mention of the Skripals. They believe the poisoning was a British plot to spoil President Putin’s fourth inauguration. Some did not intend to vote, but when they felt a foreign power was attempting to interfere, off they trooped to the polling station. ’We say Theresa May is the best election agent Putin has’ joked one .. (Clive Aslet, Travelmail, 2nd June)
SLOVENIA ….. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) became the latest to cause a political stir in an EU member state … After campaigning with a hardline stance on immigration, the Eurosceptic SDS came first with 24.4% of the vote, nearly double that of the anti-establishment party in second. Party leader and twice former PM, Janez Jansa, will now search for allies to form a governing coalition … (Daily Mail, 4th June)
AUSTRIA …. is to shut at least 7 mosques and expel up to 60 Imams in a crackdown on extremism … Officials believe that the mosques in question and those who run them, are funded by radical Islamist groups based in Turkey. Parliament passed laws in 2015 that protect the right of Muslims to practice their religion, but also require them to have ‘a positive view towards state and society’. The authorities have been working with moderate Muslim community bodies to identify mosques and imams suspected of having radical Islamist connections. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, said: ‘Political Islam’s parallel societies and radicalising tendencies have no place in our country …..’ (Daily Mail, 9th June)
SWITZERLAND ….. ’I cross the EU’s border with Switzerland every month. Not that I’d notice if I didn’t know it was there. Most of the crossings with the EU are unmanned. Some are invisible. It’s true that there are booths in places, but they are mainly concerned with ensuring foreign vehicles have purchased Swiss Road Tax discs. Their customs posts date from a time when exporters couldn’t file their customs declarations online.
Switzerland’s free movement agreement with its EU neighbours is similar to the one that exists between the UK and Ireland. Today, the Swiss/EU border is crossed by 2.4 million people every day. 440,000 Swiss citizens live in the EU. Switzerland sells 5x more per head to the EU than the UK. Every day, 23,000 lorries cross the Swiss/EU border carrying £millions of goods, with digital pre-clearance and minimal border delays. But here’s the thing: Switzerland is outside the EU Customs Union and almost no-one there wants to join it ……’ (Daniel Hannan MEP, The Sun, April 24th)
Rotten Boroughs ……..
It’s unusual for our rulers to be so frank, but the Transport Commissioner for London, Mike Brown, recently apologised to motorists who have complained that the network of segregated ‘super cycleways’ has made traffic congestion worse, calling the plans ’ill thought through’ and ’ill judged’. That will be little consolation to London motorists faced with average traffic speeds now lower than horse and cart in the 18th century. Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association was more forthright, calling the cycle super-highways ‘a complete disaster’. To add insult to injury, Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to extend the ’Ultra-Low Emissions Zone’ set for Central London next April, out to the North & South Circular roads from October 2021. Drivers will have to pay a whopping £12.50 a day to enter the zone. Part of the reason air quality in London is so poor is because drivers are having to sit for longer with engines idling or in low gear, because the road space has been so restricted by the huge new cycle lanes, which are often empty. But then one suspects the real purpose isn’t to improve air quality, so much as to tax private drivers.
Here in Poole and Mid-Dorset, we too have been ‘blessed’ with a fabulous network of new cycle lanes along our main roads, built at huge expense to the taxpayer but seemingly hardly ever used. Meanwhile traffic congestion gets worse and worse. So why are they not being used ? Broadly speaking there are cyclists and then there are CYCLISTS. There’s the likes of you and me trundling along on the cycle path, maybe using the bike only occasionally to work off a bit of excess flab, or to go up to the local shops on a fine day. Then there are the would-be Bradley Wigginses in top of the range lycra who always use the road; ’professional’ cyclists furiously peddling along, switching into the cycle lane only when needed to jump a red light. Many will not share the cycle lane with those slowcoaches they do not regard as ’serious’ cyclists. So until we have some penalties for those who refuse to use the cycle lane where it is provided, we will go on wasting taxpayers money on cycle lanes that few people use, while failing to make our roads safe for all.
The Final Word …. ‘And still they fight, still they kick, gripping the banister rail and screaming that ‘NO, NO, NO, they are NOT going to school, they are NOT going to eat their vegetables; they are NOT going to bed‘. Those of us who have been parents of young children know how it plays out, this sort of thing. They bite, thump us on the chest; tell us they hate us and that we have ruined their lives. We keep calm and quietly detach their pink little fingers from whatever temporary anchor they have grasped. Eventually, though still with much silent sobbing, they do what is asked of them because in the end, there is no alternative. We are bigger, we are stronger ……. ‘
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, members of our pro-Brussels elite had another of their spoilt brat tantrums ……
(Quentin Letts, Daily Mail, 9th May)
Don’t forget to check the monthly Dorset Digest (via e-mail) locally, as well as checking our branch website www.ukipmiddorset.org
Items for next Edition by 31st August to:
John Butler, 20 Nightjar Close, Poole BH17 7YN
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org All items in this newsletter are personal views only and do not necessarily represent the views of the UK Independence Party Mid-Dorset & North Poole