Last night, as a registered supporter of the Brexit Party, I went to London’s Olympia for Nigel Farage’s final European election campaign rally. He was on fire and I suspect that his predicted victory in Thursday’s election is but the appetizer for his presence on the domestic political stage for years to come – and which may shortly sound the death knell for both our main political parties.
Yes, for the first time it is not fanciful for me to imagine that Farage might yet be the next Prime Minister but one. A political earthquake of seismic proportions is taking place before our eyes but our media and political establishment is blindly unable to take even the basic precautions necessary to avert being buried alive in the earthquake he is about to cause.
Thousands – both young and middle-aged (hardly any old – apart from me) – stood, chanted and cheered as the 70 Brexit Party candidates marched onto the stage in preparation for a gathering, the like of which I only previously experienced forty years ago when Margaret Thatcher addressed the Tory conference for the first time as Prime Minister after her election win in 1979. Like Thatcher, Farage has a magnetic appeal to an audience like no other. His physical appearance and style appeals beyond old-school party politics and the more the Tory and Labour parties sneer at him, the more his poll ratings increase.
The warm-up act was provided by my former parliamentary colleague, Ann Widdecombe. “Warm up” was an understatement; she and Farage set the gathering alight as they both apologised for her description last month that Theresa May is “the worst Prime Minister since Anthony Eden”. This time they both agreed, following May’s incendiary offer of a second referendum only hours earlier, that “May is the worst Prime Minister ever”. The audience went wild. Even I could not contain my anger at May and her hapless Tories.
May’s ridiculous speech, just three hours earlier, of appeasement and surrender to Corbyn’s Labour Party combined with her determination to send scores of Tory MPs to their political death at the next general election, could not have been better timed to guarantee a triumph for the Brexit Party tomorrow. But Farage is already looking to 6th June for the by-election in Peterborough – and beyond.
Tory bozos in CCHQ will be engaging the daftest of clever-clogs minds in preparing the banal excuses for the James Cleverlys and Brandon Lewises to spew out onto the media. But no Tory spin doctor or aspirant Tory Prime Minister will be able to halt this Brexit tsunami which is about to drown the SS Tory Party and all who sail aboard her.
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Unlike most of the Westminster elite – who wouldn’t know a fishing boat from a yacht – I have had many jobs catching cod and eel in the freezing cold Baltic Sea. My family are fishermen in south eastern Denmark and my brother-in-law’s family have lived off the sea for generations.
Working in many parts of the fishing industry has shown me the devastating effect EU membership has had on the Danish fishermen, including my family: evident from the declining number of fishing boats in the local harbour year on year.
The number of fish landed in the UK has gone down by more than 50% since we joined the EU and the number of fishermen has almost halved since the mid-1990s.
If you take a place like Fleetwood in Lancashire, which was once England’s third biggest fishing port, it now has no full-time fishermen left with the last remaining trawlerman recently putting his boat up for sale. This is absolutely disgraceful considering the fishing industry in Fleetwood used to employ 11,000 people. The decimation of the fishing trade is not only disastrous for coastal communities, but has economic implications for the whole country. British fishing communities may have had the backs of the Westminster elite turned on them for the past forty years, but this will not be the Brexit Party’s response.
The sad thing is that that we import over 40% of the fish we eat from other EU countries, much of it caught in our waters. The UK used to be self-sufficient in fish but since 1984 we have had to import more and more fish to feed ourselves. Why are our fishermen going out of business while foreign boats are selling our own fish back to us?
When we leave the EU, it is extremely important that we leave the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy, and take back full control over our fishing waters in a 200-mile exclusion zone. As the independent fact checking organisation Full Fact has stated:
‘The UK is signed up to the UN Law of the Sea Convention which allows countries to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone of up to 200 nautical miles from their coast. If the UK were to leave the EU we could have control of all fish which were within this zone.”
The sooner we leave the European Union and the Common Fisheries Policy, the better!
Fish stocks should be managed as a renewable resource; the failed EU system of quotas does not work, partly because of huge discards. What this means is that it is not uncommon for boats to have to throw as much as 50% of their catch overboard due to an inefficient and bureaucratic quota system. And most of the fish thrown overboard are already dead, which means the fish stocks are not preserved anyway – a complete failure of the system.
Norway is not part of the Common Fisheries Policy and has managed to preserve its fish stocks and its fishing industry is buoyant. Norway has a 200-mile exclusion zone and as a result a very strong negotiating position. In fact, there have been examples of Norway denying the European Commission’s requests and stopping EU fishermen entering their waters. This is called a strong negotiating position, something our Government could learn from in the Brexit negotiations. In fact, Norway has the same number of fishermen as the UK, even though the UK population is twelve times bigger.
EU boats catch four times as many fish in UK waters as UK fishermen catch in foreign waters, so by leaving the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy behind will give a huge boost to our fishing industry, while at the same time allowing us to ensure sustainability for this valuable and essential resource.
The world is in need of more fish. It is a sustainable and healthy food for us and the UK has huge resources in its waters. The UK will have a big voice in the world of fishing if we regain control of our waters, just like Norway.
We must implement an environmentally and economically fit-for-purpose policy, becoming sustainable and successful looking after our own resources.
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As the ruling party of the United Kingdom slumps to just 10% by the measure of some recent European election polls, a colourful spectrum in varying levels of self-reflection descends across its parliamentary representatives. A stark, immediate and pressing question of political direction faces the Conservative Party.
Currently, its MPs are reaching different conclusions as to the phenomenon taking place in British politics; Steve Baker, Lucy Allan and Andrea Jenkyns recognise the threat Nigel Farage and his ilk pose and the necessity for renewal. His success is only explained by Conservative failure in handling Brexit, whether it be in complete reluctance to leave on WTO terms, a capitulating negotiation strategy or (as some Tory MPs would profess) an inability to pass Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement through the Commons.
What is for certain, however, is that Farage’s no-deal Brexit proposals are rallying support quickly, most of it from the Tory base – and at an unprecedented rate. If polls are to be believed, in a matter of a few weeks, the Brexit Party has managed to consume half of the Conservative vote. This would put the possibility of the Conservatives remaining in government close to zero. Forecasts have furthermore predicted that Secretary of Defence, Penny Mordaunt, Tory chairman, Brandon Lewis and countless more would be among some 150 Tory MPs to be unseated at a general election.
Whereas some of the more resilient European Research Group MPs have considered the looming electoral threat appropriately, the likes of James Cleverly, Brandon Lewis, Steve Barclay and Theresa May herself apparently believe the phenomenon at hand can be put to rest by ‘delivering’ Brexit with the Withdrawal Agreement. Others accept the need for a fresh face as leader but believe that another corporate centrist May 2.0 candidate such as Amber Rudd or Rory Stewart (who espouse continued close affiliation with the European Union) would save the party.
For the latter two, political reality seems to have escaped. A naive misreading of the situation has led them to overlook the hyperpoliticisiation that has taken place recently among the voting public. This is evident in Change UK’s rapid collapse into obscurity and irrelevance, despite mainstream outlets largely hailing support behind them. Gone are the days when good spin could determine public opinion.
It is the same for public rejection of May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which is unlikely to budge. The deal is an objectively poor position for our country to be in, a customs union would prevent us from pursuing self-deterministic free trade away from the European Union while still being beholden to its laws. The public appear to clearly recognise this. Additionally, after the BBC’s airing of Brexit: Behind Closed Doors (a fly-on-the-wall documentary from the European side covering the negotiations that led to the Agreement) revealingly depicted EU negotiators celebrating and declaring that the UK had been turned into ‘a colony’, there is little spin that is likely to convince an ever-observant public otherwise.
Most of the parliamentary Conservative Party remain committed to the deal, yet in a pragmatic sense their doing so seems totally irrational. A clear majority of Conservative Party members prefer a no-deal Brexit, despite loud and conceited fear-mongering in political discourse consistently describing the option as a ‘cliff edge’. This suggests the electorate and Tory base is engaged and is analysing for themselves, not apathetically settling for the orthodoxy. No matter how many fabricated, wishfully-thinking polls Rory Stewart cites, the parliamentary party’s passion for the deal is highly unlikely to ever be matched by voters or the grassroots any time soon.
This disconnect, alongside the continued appraisal of deeply unpopular Brexit agreement, is the reason for the haemorrhaging of support to the Brexit Party. A party abandoning a majority of its base represents unquestionable political stupidity. The political narrative from Remainers used to cite the possibility of a no-deal Brexit as a financial catastrophe and cliff edge – yet it is in fact the Tories who have come to find themselves staring over the edge of an increasingly volatile cliff. Perhaps this repeated prophecy was not meant for Britain in the eventuality of a WTO Brexit, but for its ruling party without one. The near 200-year-old party is enduring, but it is becoming quickly apparent that it is certainly not invincible.
Factional infighting, especially over the topic of Europe, has long been the bane of the Conservatives. Yet this time it is different. The oldest party in British politics may not be facing potential electoral oblivion yet but the Brexit Party is already polling considerably higher than UKIP ever did – and there is a feeling we have not yet seen it peak to its full potential. Further polling has suggested Nigel Farage’s new party has risen to become Britain’s most popular party for the European elections and could well attain second place at the national level.
As academic Matthew Goodwin puts it, the Tories have themselves to blame. It is their ineptitude to address adequately issues such as democracy, sovereignty and demand for free trade whilst in government that has far from quelled populism in the United Kingdom – it has put it on steroids. Farage has tapped into where the Tories, by all measures, should be – into long-deprived mainstream centre-right opinion. Patriotism and ambition is something that has long seemed vacant since the current Prime Minister took office.
The party’s own cliff edge situation now means that without embracing No Deal – the most popular Brexit option – what we have seen so far suggests they could be democratically replaced by the new right-of-centre party on the block. Currently, the Conservatives seemingly hold no ideological foundations. Under May the party has sold itself purely on pragmatism and competency. Its ineptitude in office suggests neither and ideologically inspires none, which is a dangerous position in which to be.
Trends in Europe show that traditional right-of-centre parties are susceptible to collapse and crash from their position in mainstream politics: France’s Les Républicains did in 2017, Italy’s Forza Italia did a year later, whilst Germany’s CDU and Spain’s Partido Popular are also currently looking like they are on their way out. First past the post has been often stated to be Britain’s structural defence of the two-party system; the public are well aware that without their tactically voting for their left-right preference they could well end up with their ideological opposition in government. This, then, is likely a sign that patience is wearing thin.
What’s more dangerous than Nigel Farage saying the things Conservative voters think, is that the Brexit Party’s strong polling means they are fast becoming a viable political option for the vast number of those the Tories neglect to represent.
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The sheer, bare faced audacity of the UK/EU establishment is something to behold. And why not? After all we “peasants” were conquered in 1066, so it stands to reason that we subjects should fall into line.
I recall at numerous lunches I “enjoyed” as head of the Chambers of Commerce, being lectured by a Tory grandee who now appears to have fluid political allegiances. It was quite obvious that his kind considered democracy to be merely a mechanism for the acquiescence by the masses to the things the establishment wished. He said as much, in terms, on more than one occasion. I only mention this because it is a common theme amongst the not so common people, our superiors and betters – you know, those who tell us that they are more intelligent.
This attitude runs across the political spectrum, “despite” (to coin a phrase) that it is laughable. I remember being at the Labour Party Conference in 2015, pen poised in anticipation of spoken policy gems, while listening attentively to a Labour shadow spokesman, who is also politically fluid. When finished there was nothing on the page, so vacuous was he, but still full of righteous entitlement.
From the moment our very superior, former Prime Minister made it clear he preferred soundbite to substantive negotiations, the establishment have worked tirelessly to get what they want. In June 2016 they got a temporary surprise. With the democratic will of the people against them, it just became a little more difficult, the optics were not good, but why should that change a “divine right to rule”?
This tragi-comedy has descended into political pantomime, albeit currently out of season, and it will soon come around in the never-ending story of Brexit delay and obfuscation. And the characters are emerging, ready for a finale.
The original seven dwarfs of Change UK have become eleven; for sure modern politics is inhabited by political pygmies by comparison with yesteryear.
The wicked stepmother continues to try to push her establishment agenda through Parliament, asking once again who is fairest of them all. This time dressed up with a nod to the socialist agenda, they in the clouds at the top of the No. 10 tower will stop at nothing and have even rolled out a smiley “Buttons” in the shape of the “adorable” Matt Hancock, hoping he has learned to count the parliamentary blind mice. Forgivably, I can’t think of a role for what’s his name, Rory Stewart.
That great convenor of the one nation, Sir Nicholas Soames, continues to play Widow Twankey. Quite obviously a man of the people and not of the establishment, I remember he once told me he had never been in a supermarket and had his groceries sent from Fortnums. I wonder whether he knows that the EU apply tariffs which protect rich landowners at the expense of ordinary consumers? I bet he does.
Pantomime always nods at cultural references and undoubtedly Gollum has made his appearance, speaking in backward riddles which are only intelligible in the context of a general election, which is “mine”! “Mine it is,” says the beardy one. Truly a useful servant of the establishment.
And then we have the wise, old wizard of doublespeak, where Liberal means illiberal and democratic means anti-democracy. But he has now transmogrified from Cinders into a princess, whose name I can’t quite remember.
Every time Juncker or Selmayr or Barnier appear on the establishment stage we will be able to call out “he’s behind you” – because they certainly are.
Undoubtedly it would be comic if it were not so tragic. They, the establishment, continue to scheme and hatch plots to defeat the democratic will of the people. So brazen are they, that few now try to hide their determination to stop Brexit.
However, there is one other vital character in plays from Shakespeare to pantomime: a character who determines the flow of events and who is always given the last word, that is the narrator.
Enter stage right, once again, our Brexit narrator, Nigel Farage.
However entitled, arrogant and ghastly, or loved, adored and cheered are the characters in our Brexit pantomime, I suspect they have not yet come to terms with the likelihood that their entrance and exit – their role, beginning and end – will likely be put in context, if not determined by, the narrator.
And Brexit? Well it will be alright in the end and, if it is not alright, it is certainly not the end. Let us not forget, the narrator always has the last word.
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Lord Heseltine will be voting for the Liberal Democrats. This will come as no surprise to many Conservatives – the less generous amongst us may suspect this isn’t the first time – but to publicly endorse another party goes directly against our party rules; rules which are being used to intimidate and shut down Conservative Brexiteers who are threatening to vote for The Brexit Party on Thursday. As things stand, there has been no response to Heseltine’s outburst from CCHQ. [Since publication it has been announced that Lord Heseltine is being suspended from the Conservative whip in the House of Lords – Ed.]
Darling of the Tory grassroots, Ann Widdecombe, was treated quite differently. She received her letter of expulsion – after 53 years of service, including a period as a minister – merely a day after she announced her Brexit Party candidacy. Of course, standing for an opposition party is different to simply endorsing it. But it is not Ann Widdecombe who’s changed her position; it’s the Conservatives. On social issues, public opinion has developed and Widdecombe doesn’t reflect this. But she reflects other important Conservative principles, particularly in her bracing commitment to free enterprise, free markets and democracy. It is we who are failing to honour democracy, not her. She is a great loss and many Tory activists will have been encouraged to give Nigel Farage a second look because of her departure.
Perhaps there are explanations for Heseltine’s increasingly bitter position. He is, in many ways, an anachronism; an old patrician who is watching his country move in a global direction which he loathes. His recent Telegraph article revealed his long-held contempt for Margaret Thatcher; a grudge based more in his own failure to replace her than anything she did to him. Most Conservatives would choose Thatcher over Heseltine. Indeed, many blame him for her defenestration and, thereby, generating the circumstances for our protracted mid-1990s march into the wilderness. As I write, Heseltine is still a Conservative member. So the question is: why should there be one rule for Michael Heseltine and another for everybody else? [BrexitCentral has since learnt that the Conservative Party Board has decided to allow him to retain his Conservative Party membership on account of him merely stating a voting preference for another party but not campaigning for them or encouraging others to do so, and that any party member simply expressing a preference for another party at this European election will be treated likewise – Ed.]
It is no secret that the Conservative Party is in a bad way. The disconnect between the grassroots and the leadership has never been more profound. Associations are holding no confidence motions in the Prime Minister. Activists are downing tools. The relationship between the ordinary membership and much of the Parliamentary party – particularly the self-styled, Ruddite “one nation” wing – is at breaking point. There is a clear reason for this: Brexit.
Repeatedly, Theresa May promised us we would be leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. Repeatedly, she promised us we would be leaving on 29th March. Repeatedly, she told us no deal was better than a bad deal. All of these promises have now been broken. There is a collective sense amongst not just the activist base but the wider country that we’ve been wilfully misled.
It should be no surprise that the Brexit Party is trouncing us in the polls. What is a surprise is the way our leadership seems to be reacting to this. CCHQ is threatening activists who show sympathy to Farage’s pro-Brexit movement with disciplinary procedures, including suspension and expulsion. Is there really anything to be gained from throwing out Brexiteers simply for sticking to their principles? Why encourage further splits in a party which is already split? Clearly, there will be a leadership contest soon and a new Prime Minister installed. Given the Herculean task they will face, they will need all the support they can get from the grassroots – including Brexiteers, who, we mustn’t forget, make up the majority of the membership.
The solution to this mess is obvious. Rather than be seen to favour Remainers over Brexiteers or grandees over activists, the Conservative Party should announce an amnesty. These elections were never supposed to happen; indeed, we were repeatedly told they wouldn’t happen. Emotions are running high. Now is the time for CCHQ to be circumspect. Activists who have supported the Conservatives in many cases for decades deserve a degree of respect and a chance to make their voices heard. Let’s park the internal acrimony and stop trying to intimidate an already seething base. The Conservative Party should allow Conservatives to be honest about their vote this Thursday.
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All eyes in Europe are on this week’s elections to the European Parliament, surprisingly (and shockingly) enough still also including the UK – where the Brexit Party now finds itself at 35% in the polls, followed not by Labour (15%) or the Conservatives (9%), but the Liberal Democrats at 16%. But while you Brits may well see the European elections as a vote on whether or not Brexit was the right decision – with the MEPs elected not present in Brussels for very long, we presume – for other Europeans, the elections present more of a vote on the future of the European Union itself.
Dubbed by the media as the “battle for Europe” – a slight overdramatisation – the elections will nonetheless provide a sign of where the EU will head in future years. Will it pursue the path of “ever closer union” or revert back to less integration? Or will it continue to follow the path it has in recent years (and decades): the one of a little more integration, but not too much; the one of compromise, which often ends up in half-baked solutions that maybe would have been better not pursued in the first place (like the euro, for example)?
While many might hope for clarity, it is highly unlikely that the election results will show any clear winner, as the European Parliament is set to see a drastic fragmentation. The “Grand Coalition” between the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – both of which are staunchly pro-EU and have ruled EU politics together for decades – will most likely lose its majority. Politico predicts that the EPP will lose 48 seats and the S&D 49 seats, meaning that the projected haul of 315 seats shared by these two mainstream establishment groups would leave them well short of a majority in the 751-seat parliament.
They will thus need help in order both to stay in power and also to decide who will succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, whether that be Manfred Weber from the EPP or Frans Timmermans from the S&D (or someone else entirely). This help might come from the Greens (with a projected 54 seats) or Emmanuel Macron, whose En Marche will most likely team up with Guy Verhofstadt’s ALDE (expected to come in at 104 seats) and could be the kingmaker in any attempt to achieve a majority.
The biggest question, of course, is how well the variety of parties – both savoury and unsavoury – on the right of the political spectrum will do. Over 250 seats could go to parties and movements sceptical of the EU in its current form (although the number will decrease when the UK leaves), which would be a major jump for the so-called “right-wing populists”. Whether those 250 MEPs could come together in a single group – which would be the biggest in the parliament – remains to be seen although, frankly, it is very doubtful. In their currently fragmented form, it is unlikely they will wield much power or say over decision-making processes.
It is clear, however, that a strong showing from these parties will cement “populist” forces as an established part of European politics. With a group of heads of state in the Council around Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orbán, they will, I predict, play a major role in the years to come. So how will the establishment parties respond to these new and emboldened adversaries? Will they nonetheless continue to argue for more EU and thus alienate even more Europeans? Or will they be ready to change and to reform the European Union to build a more decentralised, democratic, and free Europe?
The Brexit vote of 2016 should have sparked such a change. Instead, europhiles doubled down on their ideas. Will they now use the second chance they will be afforded by a strong showing of eurosceptics later this week to have a rethink? It will be fascinating to see how they react in the coming weeks and months.
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I’ve never had any doubts about Brexit. It’s an economic liberation, stopping the drain of jobs, money and demand to the EU, breaking out of its declining protectionist bloc into a growing world, and stopping our slow decline into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Germany.
Others see things differently. The result is that there’s a wide choice of Brexits on offer. Remainers want a Brexitless Brexit. The Liberals want a Bollocks-Brexit with European federalism, the euro, and unrestricted continued immigration thrown in. Conservatives want a Tory Brexit with free trade, deregulation and tax-cutting. Caroline Lucas, who’s dropped the usual greeneries to defend the EU as the source of everything good and Green, sees Brexit as a globally-warmed hell. Labour wants a blancmange Brexit with a People’s Vote to make sure we don’t get it. Parliament wants a liquorice allsorts Brexit. Finally, on present form, we’ll end up with a never happening Brexit.
Take your pick. Personally, I prefer a Mitchell Brexit. This offers everything we need to do anyway, with or without Brexit. Brexit needs a big spending boost like Barack Obama’s Recovery Act to repair the damage to manufacturing, the infrastructure, health and education done by austerity. This will boost us through the initial problems. We’ll also need an industrial policy to develop the new and sustain the old, government support and investment on a Chinese scale, a strong regional policy, and competitive exchange rate to tax imports and boost exports as every competitor has done.
That’s the only Brexit which will work, and poor Theresa could use it to break out of her impasse. My party would find it difficult to refuse such a Labour Brexit. Tories wouldn’t like it, but they love power more than their prejudices, and they owe it to the country to repair the damage done by their austerity. The SNP is schizophrenic, part-Labour, part-Tory – so at least half of them will accept it, particularly if a lot of barbers for Scotland are thrown in. Similarly the DUP. As for the Liberals, Greens and Chuckers, they can continue their naive dreams in opposition. Where they belong.
Problem solved. A nation which Remainers want to drift back to Remain will be happier to get the leadership it voted for. The public prefer going somewhere to being humiliated by clever dicks in the EU. It would cost a lot more than Theresa May’s cheap jack sell-out, but Britain needs a huge Keynesian boost anyway just to remain viable.
The economics make sense. A nation with its own currency can spend until the productive resources of people, machines, factories and services are fully stretched, without inflationary problems. The pound would come down, but should anyway to reverse our huge trade deficit. The EU won’t like it, but at least it will set them free to tackle their own problems rather than picking on us.
So why not go for it? It’s so much better than mouldering on for more years of misery and argument while the disastrous consequences of austerity cripple the country. Britain deserves better than an incompetent elite and a broken political system prolonging this long running farce.
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An emotionally-charged campaign to overturn the 2016 referendum result is in full swing. We are told Britain is falling apart; that our economy is in crisis and our international reputation is in tatters. And it’s all down to Brexit. Daily the drip-drip of negative stories dominates insidiously biased media coverage. Terms and phrases such as “falling off the cliff edge”, “crashing out”, “a catastrophe”, “a disaster” have become the staple of the anti-Brexit reaction.
An unholy alliance has sprung up between cosmopolitan, metropolitan liberal elites and the ranting, rabid far-left, best symbolised by David Lammy’s outrageously polarising rhetoric. When the Remain ultras are not smearing millions of British people as racists, they are busy trying to scare millions of British people back into the status quo. Project Fear, however, is really just about that: fear-mongering.
It’s a concerted propaganda effort aimed at demoralising the British public and shaking our confidence in the UK’s ability to make success of Brexit. As all propaganda, it distorts facts by presenting a warped view of reality, devoid of any nuance or reflection. One way it does so is by filtering out real facts that do not fit into the prevailing anti-Brexit narrative of impending economic calamity. What follows are some such facts.
For instance, the news in April that the UK has been ranked as the top investment destination in the world, knocking the US off the top spot for the first time ever, comes simultaneously with the latest record-breaking drop in unemployment – now lowest since records began. As the Eurozone teeters on the edge of another recession, Britain’s growth is sustained, stable and is being achieved alongside record-breaking falls in CO2 emissions – the lowest on record since 1888.
Foreign Direct Investment in the UK is at record high. And as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show, the bulk of this new investment is coming from Asia (a 33% increase in 2017). According to Deloitte, the UK attracted more Foreign Direct Investment over the past three years than any other country in Europe, bringing in more capital investment than second- and third-placed Germany and France combined.
It is a similar story with financial services. Since the referendum, London attracted more financial services Foreign Direct Investment projects than eight other global financial centres, securing 55 inbound projects in 2017 – more than double the number of Dublin (26), Paris (26), Frankfurt (24) and New York (20). London is set to become home to the same number of fintech unicorns as San Francisco, attracting more investment in the sector than any other city in Europe. When I asked a banker friend of mine about him relocating to Frankfurt he replied: “You go live in Frankfurt …”.
Back in February, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, announced a record-breaking increase in its investment in the UK, raising its “exposure to British companies, property and bonds regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations”. This bullish confidence is matched by private investors like Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos recently announcing a £1 billion injection in British oil and chemical industries.
British exports are going through the roof – the UK is the second fastest-growing goods exporter among the top five economies, just behind China, with our goods exports growing by 3.1% to £10.6bn in the year to January. UK exports of beverages alone, such as Scotch whisky, reached a high of £8.3bn in the year to February 2019, increasing by 7% on the previous year.
It’s worth remembering that the bulk of UK exports go outside the EU – the United States is our largest export market, followed by Germany, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, China and Switzerland, in that order. One of the greatest myths created by Project Fear is that Britain trades with the EU Single Market. In reality, Britain mostly trades with just seven of the other 27 member states of the EU. For example, the UK’s annual exports to the United Arab Emirates are worth more than the UK’s exports to Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Hungary combined.
The list of our achievements since 2016 can go on. It should not be surprising that there is little media coverage or discussion of these trends – that wouldn’t fit in with the prevailing anti-Brexit narrative. However, they should not be taken as evidence that Brexit is somehow risk-free. For example, UK’s exports to Poland are worth more than our exports to over 40 non-EU markets combined. And it is clear that some businesses across the economy are more exposed to Brexit-associated risks than others.
Some economic news since 2016 should give us serious cause for concern, but the trends outlined here should give us confidence in the underlying strength and resilience of our economy. I campaigned and voted for Remain in 2016 but, like many former Remainers, I’ve accepted the outcome of the democratic process and came to realise that Brexit is complex and requires a deeper, more nuanced understanding. It is a shame that we’ve failed to acknowledge this complexity in our public debate and this is very much down to Project Fear and the wider campaign to overturn the referendum result. It distorted our collective vision of reality, undermined public faith in democracy and damaged national morale. When Project Fear wins, Britain loses.
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It was after I spoke at the Brexit Party’s Durham rally that a burly gentleman came up to me and thrust a plastic card into my hand. “Do what you want with that. You can cut it up if you wish, but I’ll be having no need for it anymore. I’m finished with them.”
I looked down at what he had given me and recognised immediately it was a Conservative Party membership card. He then volunteered that he was now voting for the Brexit Party and had signed up online, paying his £25 as a supporter. I hung on to the card so I could take a photo and let people see this is no invented anecdote.
Since our European Parliament election campaign started in the North East with a street stall in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I have found similar expressions of disgust, anger and the rejection of Britain’s two dominant parties to be a common occurrence. I have met no one willing to admit to being a Conservative. Not one person, and I have been in leafy prosperous suburbs as well as red brick terraced streets.
Nobody has sought to defend the Prime Minister as “resilient” or having the bad luck of being dealt a poor hand. No, the Prime Minister is viewed as someone who repeatedly breaks her promises – on every significant aspect of Brexit – and she is not being let off with any sympathy. There is a perfectly obvious reason for this – time and again I meet people who tell me they simply want out of the EU. Out. Period.
People of all ages pass our Brexit Party street stall and wink at me or give the thumbs-up to signal they are supporting the new party, but when they stop to speak they are straight to the point: they voted to Leave, they weren’t asked for a deal. They want us to leave now, deal or no deal.
And then there are the Remain voters who tell us they are voting Brexit Party because they want the vote respected. There are plenty of people who think like that turning up at every stall I have done – including some EU nationals who think Britain’s democracy is a beacon of hope to the world and should not be so easily cast aside.
One weakness that I admit to having feared has been put right for me; I thought the fact the Brexit Party is so new it has not had time to help organise postal votes for supporters would put us at a disadvantage – but I am being proved wrong. Time and again an elector will come up to our team and say “You’ve got our vote, we’ve voted already” or “I’ve posted my vote and you’ve got it”. The irony of all those people who have no doubt been encouraged to have a postal ballot by the Labour Party in the past now using the peace and quiet of their own home to give up on a party they have probably voted for all of their lives.
For, make no mistake, in the North East it is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party that is haemorrhaging votes like a beast at the slaughterhouse. Former Labour voters feel the party that once represented the working class and was necessary to protect their interests has taken them for granted too often and has now abandoned them. I know this because I am told it with the rapidity of a pneumatic drill wherever I ago. Labour, the party of these voters’ parents and grandparents, is now just an artefact of the past like so many of the chimneys that no longer ventilate a coal fire.
To be honest, it’s not just Labour’s unwillingness to deliver a real Brexit that has done it for Labour, it is Jeremy Corbyn too. I have campaigned in elections and referendums since 1979 but never before have I heard Labour supporters so critical of the party’s leader. In particular I have recognised how the North East is very proud of those who serve or have served in our forces; and to those who have, Corbyn is reviled.
Nor have I ever manned a stall, like I have in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar or South Shields, where so many people have come up asking for a window poster or a leaflet. We have had people offering to buy our publicity and a lovely lady opening her purse offering to donate (I had to politely decline as we have no facility for handling cash).
In short, and despite being on the winning side of many a political campaign, I have never experienced an election where I have been welcomed with such warmth and good wishes.
We keep hearing two things over and over again: firstly, that the result of the referendum must be respected by leaving the EU now; and secondly, the real hurt and anger felt by Leave voters who have been told so often that they were duped, ignorant and too stupid to know what they were doing. The condescending arrogance of Remainer politicians really has upset people and only made them more committed than ever before.
There is now less than a week left until the election and I have many more stalls to do, but if my social antennae and political judgement are at all sound, in the North East the Conservatives face oblivion and Labour is set to receive the most almighty hammering, the like of which will last longer than for just Brexit.
The post Expect a massive rejection of Labour and the Tories in the North East at the Euro election appeared first on BrexitCentral.
I have never felt so passionate about anything in my life. The way the public have been treated over the whole Brexit shambles is not only humiliating, it’s exasperating and embarrassing. The world is laughing at the ‘Mother of all democracies’.
As a medical doctor, television presenter and passionate campaigner, I’ve spent the last 24 years of my life fighting the system. I’ve been a vocal advocate for minority groups, patients, carers and families, ensuring their voices are heard by those in power who make decisions.
I’ve campaigned vigorously to clean up our filthy hospitals, successfully lobbied to implement new-born screening for the life-threatening condition Cystic Fibrosis, fought to improve care for the elderly in our hospitals and care homes, pushed the Government to role out the PrEP trial to protect high-risk individuals from HIV and worked with school caterers to ensure that every child in a British primary school gets at least one hot meal a day.
These are extremely important and life-changing campaigns.
But the campaign we are now fighting – to ensure the democratic will of the people is respected – is now paramount.
Having spent three years commentating on TV about the way the Government and the Opposition have been handling the Brexit negotiations, I couldn’t sit and watch the wilful fragmentation of democracy any longer.
Campaigning for the Brexit Party in the North West has been exhilarating. I’ve never been so sure that what I am fighting for is right. There is palpable and tangible anger which the Westminster elite have failed to recognise. This anger and frustration unites people across the political spectrum and all social classes.
Rallies in Fylde and Chester were extraordinary. Speaking in front of 2,000 people who are cheering your every word and sentiment is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The messages of support on social media are overwhelming. The common theme amongst them is that people are relieved that they are finally being represented by candidates such as myself wiling to put their heads above the parapet and fight for them against the establishment.
The political class has done everything it can to thwart the will of the people. We’ve heard doom-laden scenarios touching every aspect of our lives.
One of the most outrageous weapons has been the use of false information about the availability of medicines after Brexit. I’ve read time and time again that we will run out of medicines, hospitals will close and lives will be at stake. It is nonsense and it is dangerous. It is causing fear and panic.
Although we will leave the European Medicines Agency, our medicines will continue to be regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MRHA), as they are now. We already conform to European standards and it is the interests of both the EU and the UK that we continue to have regulatory collaboration.
Big Pharma is not confined to Europe. It is global and flexible. Many pharmaceutical companies have footprints in the UK, EU and around the world. Seven of the top global pharmaceutical companies have a manufacturing presence in the UK.
The majority of our medicines are generic and these are made around the world in India, Japan, Switzerland, Israel and the US. India now makes a third of the world’s generics. By 2050 it is thought that India will make half the world’s medicines.
But what about cost? This is not an issue. If we do move to trade with the EU on WTO rules, medicines will continue to be tariff-free, as they are now.
There will also be added incentive for the MRHA and NICE to become more highly aligned and streamlined, so we can make the UK more attractive to the pharmaceutical industry. We can also carve out a global regulatory role with Canada, Australia and the United States.
In summary, patients’ lives are not at risk. This fear-mongering must stop. Fortunately the public are not stupid and can see through it.
As a doctor, I know the most important commodity you can have is trust. The people were asked a binary question. Politicians on all sides said they would respect the will of the people. The public took them at their word. 17.4 million people voted to Leave. They expected us to leave. We haven’t left. The elected representatives have lost the trust of the people. The message is clear, their time is over.
Next week will be a watershed when we vote with passion and history will be made.
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