Let’s get rid of EU austerity

The EU preaches austerity to its member states yet is itself a spendthrift organisation. The UK is meant to adhere to the 3% maximum budget deficit the EU seeks to enforce on Euro members, though all the last 3 different governments have broken the EU limit. Meanwhile the EU insists on us sending more and more tax revenue to them as they think they can spend it better than we can, usually outside our own country.

The EU sees no contradiction between telling us we need to cut our spending and raise our taxes, and demanding we send them more money to spend.Out of the EU we would be able to choose our own budget deficit level without need to report in to the EU. More importantly we will get our £15 billion back that we send to them to spend. Around £5bn of this is spent by them in the UK and the rest is spent in other countries.

The Leave campaign has made clear we would want to pay farmers, universities and others the same sums as they get today from the EU out of the money we get back. That leaves us £10 bn to spend. We could banish austerity in the private sector with tax cuts, or spend more in the public sector to give more of a real boost to spending than recent budgets have allowed. I am working on a suitable package. This is your opportunity to influence it. What balance of tax cuts and spending increases would you like? What are your priorities?

This could be one of the clinchers for the referendum. Many people would like the public finances to allow more for good purposes.Getting our money back from the EU would allow us to banish austerity and run our own affairs.

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BBC fails to point out Leave MPs wish farmers to receive all current subsidies on exit, paid by UK governments

The Radio 4 Farming Today programme this morning spent time debating life after subsidies have been abolished in the context of exit from the EU. Whilst they said the UK could pay subsidies itself on exit, the rest of the piece left farmers with the clear impression the base case was no subsidy. This is simply false. I know of no likely post exit UK government that would remove all farming subsidies. The Leave campaign says we should just pay what is currently paid.

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Who’s afraid of Martin Wolf’s view of the EU?

Yesterday I was invited to a short debate with Martin Wolf of the FT about whether the UK will be better off or worse off out of the EU.

Martin Wolf is an intelligent and well informed commentator on the UK’s senior business newspaper, so I was expecting a polished and detailed analysis of the UK economy in or out of the EU. Instead he resorted to the usual tactics of the Better Stay in Europe campaign. His case was negative. It entirely centred around the proposition that if we left the EU the rest of the EU would in some way retaliate against their trade with us, in unspecified ways which would cost us and not them.

He did not say they will be throwing our exported goods into the harbour, nor did he suggest Germany would no longer wish to sell us BMWs and Mercedes, though he might as well have said that. He implied we would have to carry on sending contributions to the EU after we had left it so they still buy some of our goods, and implied they could find ways round WTO rules to impose new barriers on our exports. He concentrated on goods, not services in all his figures, so presumably he is expecting physical barriers and tariffs on trade in goods.

I told him I had met senior representatives of the German government before Christmas who has assured me Germany sought no new tariffs or barriers on trade if we leave. I asked him if he thought the German government had been lying? He seemed surprised, and claimed that other unspecified EU countries might be able to stop this sensible German approach to Brexit. I pointed out that as they sell us more than we sell them they have an interest in sensible trading arrangements. I reminded him that over 160 countries around the world trade successfully with the EU but are not members and pay no contributions. Mexico and Canada have free trade agreements with the EU, and the EU now says it wants more of these agreements with bigger trading partners. Surely that would also apply to us.

He had no positive thing to say about our membership of the EU. He did not seem to want us to join the Euro or Schengen, the main features of the modern EU. He just wants us to stay in a club with some countries he thinks will behave badly if we leave. Is this the best stay in supporters can do?

We need to keep asking them

Why don’t they want us to join the Euro and Schengen, as these are central to the project?

How do they think the UK can avoid having to pay some of the bills and provide some of the support for the ailing Euro area?

Why hasn’t the EU in 43 years negotiated free trade agreements with the USA, China or India?

How can the UK be kept apart form the increasing rules and taxes needed within the financial services and banking union?

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Let’s say No to a European army

The EU does wish to supplement or even rival NATO, and does wish to work towards a European army, navy and airforce.
In their defence paper in July 2015 they called for “EU owned dual use capabilities and a proposal to explore how capability needs could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union”. They have not got there fully yet, but the direction of travel is clear.
In the meantime The EU has created a naval force in the Mediteranean to pick up economic migrants and asylum seekers exposed to dangers at sea. It also has another naval force tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa.
The EU began by pooling iron and steel manufacture, then the sinews of war. It has moved on to some joint defence procurement, and to the creation of a defence and aerospace industry crossing frontiers to make member states interdependent in the production of weaponry.
The EU has created an EU defence force, with a rapid response army and a common command headquarters. The Eurocorps, called “a force for the EU” has a “permanent operational multinational structure capable of being deployed at very short notice” with up to 65,000 troops. At the core of it is a joint Franco German force. It has seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo and twice in Afghanistan. So far it has usually worked through NATO.
The UK has been wary of this emerging force, but has nonetheless gone along with various collaborative projects, especially with the French. The UK has also joined in various joint weapons and aircraft programmes. UK Ministers often have to argue against further EU involvement or control of military matters. Meanwhile our security is guaranteed by our own forces and by our membership of NATO. It is noteworthy that we belong to Five Eyes, the enduring and successful intelligence gathering and sharing alliance with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand out side the EU.
The UK wishes to avoid the creation of an EU army and navy directly under the control of the EU where member states have no say in whether to participate or not. The NATO alliance is founded on the principle that each member state decides whether to back a NATO military intervention or not, and if so with how many personnel and with how much weaponry and supplies. The EU has a habit of moving from voluntary co-operation to legal requirements in other areas. The UK is keen to avoid a situation where British troops could be put in danger against the wishes of the UK people and Parliament.

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4 parties share a platform to make the case to leave the EU

Some readers of this site will be pleased to know that Conservative, Labour and Democratic Unionist party MPs joined with UKIP MEPs to make common cause this afternoon for leave. BBC cameras and various journalists were present. The conference was entitled “The Good life after Brexit”. The common platform included Liam Fox, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Nigel Farage, Graham Stringer, Ian Paisley and myself.

I am grateful to David Campbell Bannerman MEP for organising the event and giving us such a good introduction to the case for leaving.

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How they misled voters before on the EU

The 1971 White Paper set out the case for the UK to join the European Economic Community. In that document people were left with the firm impression that little would change and the UK would stay in control of her own affairs. The White Paper stated

“Sovereign governments are represented around the table. On a question where a government considers that vital national interests are involved, it is established that the decision should be unanimous. …There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty.”

“The common system rests on original consents, and ultimately on the continuing consents of member states and hence of national Parliaments. The English and Scottish legal systems will remain intact”.

These promises were soon broken. Majority voting was introduced on an ever wider range of issues, removing the UK veto over important policy areas. The English and Scottish legal systems came increasingly under the control of the European Court of Justice. The more EU law there is, the more matters have to be based on that EU law with ultimate appeal to a European court.

It is true the White Paper did say the aim of the EEC was ever closer union, did recognise it would be based on freedom of movement of people, and that the organisation would work towards a common foreign policy and other matters. The White Paper tried to allay fears over this by pointing out the 6 existing member states of the EEC were all relatively prosperous countries with similar high wages to the UK’s, and reminded readers that developments of more centralising policies would be partially fashioned by the UK view.

The document did begin the long standing confusion of power with sovereignty. It stated “Where the members reach common agreement to pool resources and authority, it is done because they consider it is in their interests to do it. At present the Community institutions are purely economic. But if the development of European policies in non economic fields calls for new institutions, then as a member Britain will play a full and equal part in devising whatever additions to the institutional framework are required”.

So was recorded the EU’s future long march to full economic, political and monetary union. So began the long series of rearguard actions by successive UK governments to avoid the transfer of too many powers, or to pretend no power was passing when large powers were being given away.

The British people were never given a vote on the transfer of their powers of self government to the EU. The first referendum was based on these principles, that the Uk could always veto anything it did not like and our own court system common law and much else remained unaffected. The forthcoming referendum is the first time UK people can express a view on their government having to get the agreement of many other EU governments before being allowed to make simple changes to welfare payments, certain taxes, our borders and much else besides.

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We could control our borders outside the EU but not inside it

It was strange to read yesterday that if we leave the EU we could lose the Calais frontier system currently in operation. This border is the result of a bilateral agreement between France and the UK which has nothing to do with the EU. France could unilaterally renounce it at any time. If she did so and we were still in the EU it would make it difficult for us as people arriving in Dover from Calais would have legal protections for their claim to reside and work here from EU law, with European Court making the final decisions. If we were outside the EU then the UK Parliament could introduce new laws like Australia’s to control the numbers.

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The Better Stay in Europe campaign seek more endorsements from past famous people

The Better Stay in Europe enthusiasts are working the Ouija boards hard to tell us how famous celebrities now dead would want to vote in our referendum. We on the leave side prefer to concentrate on the living who have votes and voices so their views are easier to hear and more telling on the day.

Rumour has it that recent attempts at BSE séances have had mixed responses. It is perhaps inevitable that Julius Caesar and Napoleon would both favour us staying in the EU, but BSE are a bit shy about revealing that. More worrying for them would be Elizabeth 1’s stubborn support for leave on the basis that she could never herself countenance the Spanish government having some role in the government of England. Nor did they get very far with Pitt the Elder or the Younger who both thought the UK capable of running its own affairs successfully.

It appears that contacting past celebrities has its dangers. For my part I stick to my view that it is a meaningless question to ask. They were great in their day, but they cannot be brought back to life to express an opinion on modern political controversies.

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You are less powerful if you pool sovereignty

According to supporters of the EU if I pooled my decision making with my neighbours I will be more powerful. Let me show you what nonsense this is.

Let us suppose I joined with 27 of my neighbours to be more powerful. It is true that by combining we would have considerably more income and spending power than I have on my own. If we agreed what we wanted to buy we might qualify for a better discount. The problem is to get the benefit of combined buying I would no longer have a veto on what we bought. I might lose the vote to buy beef for dinner and have to accept the common view of pork. I might want a UK made Honda but have to accept a German made VW to get the benefits of bulk buying.

It would also not be long before the neighbours had a vote on sharing. Anyone with a larger income could be outvoted by those on lower incomes, leading to the few richer neighbours having to pay more in but getting less back. It would be in my interest to earn less than the average to improve my take from the club.

My neighbours might want to extend this to voting. In a low turnout local election 28 votes might matter and would clearly have much more impact than my one vote. To use the power I would have to accept going along with the majority view of 28 and all casting our votes for the same party, even if it was one I did not like.

If a big local planning issue came up 28 people saying the same thing might have more influence than just 1. Again the problem is my view on the plans might be the minority one which got suppressed by the rules of the neighbours club.

Far from being more powerful my neighbours club would soon become a huge nuisance, getting in the way of me spending my money, using my vote and expressing my view as I see fit.

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Margaret Thatcher does not have a view on the referendum

It must be a new low for the stay in campaign when they turn to the dead to support them.

May Margaret Thatcher rest in peace. She was in her political prime 30 years ago, before the treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon transformed a relationship based on trade and business into much more of a common government. I was her chief policy adviser in her middle years and would not presume to attribute views to her about current political issues. She never expressed a view as PM without thorough briefing and study of the issue.We do know that she did object very strongly to economic and monetary union before she left office and showed no appetite then for the high degree of integration we now experience under common EU laws, powers and policies.

I find it disappointing that Lord Powell should presume to be able to communicate with the dead and tell us what they are thinking. It’s not the first time pro EU people have tried this, as they often assert Churchill wanted us to be part of the united Europe he talked about when most of his references to that made clear he also wanted the UK to be part of a separate Union of the English Speaking peoples and not part of the United Europe. That of course was why he wrote a History of The English Speaking peoples rather than a history of Europe, as that set of books makes clear.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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