A puppet Parliament?

I made a speech a bit like this yesterday in parliament:

Is this a puppet Parliament?
Or does it have within it the ability to take back control?
Is this puppet Parliament to remain a mere cipher for Brussels?
Or can it take back control to make our own laws and levy our taxes?

Was not this once great Parliament founded on the principle that there should be just laws
And redress of grievances before we grant taxation to government?
Was it not founded on the very principle that those who pay the taxes should have a vote and a voice over how they are imposed?
Was not this the principle that led to the foundation of the world’s greatest democracy, the United States of America,
Taking British ideas and adopting them in a neglected colony where we had foolishly ignored the public will?

Has this Parliament no collective memory?
Has it no understanding of the underpinnings of democracy?
Has it no shame?
Has it no sense of the struggles of those who went before us to establish our democratic rights?
Can they be so easily, needlessly and foolishly swept aside?

Are there no Hampdens and Miltons on the Labour front bench?
Is there no Cromwell who guiltless of our country’s blood
Can with words and votes cast off this monstrous EU intrusion on our democracy?

The Labour front bench are but marionettes, dancing to the tune of Brussels.
Many government Ministers are but players in a drama scripted and written by the EU.

This lackey Parliament tamely puts through law after law required by the EU.
The civil service instructs Ministers to implement every Court decision, regulation and directive.
Most UK governments decline to oppose things in Brussels we do not want, for fear of losing the vote.
Most UK governments seek to disguise how much power has gone.
They try to suppress debate and minimise fuss
So they use this Parliament to rubber stamp decisions made elsewhere.

Today the government accepts an amendment to the Gracious speech to stand up for the UK’s NHS
We were forced to move this because the EU does not share with us the details of the trade agreement negotiations
Why can’t this Parliament debate the terms and mandate the government?
Because these matters are initiated by unelected Commissioners
They escape proper supervision by 28 countries who disagree about what the Trade Treaty should say

Today we debate the dreadful pressures on our public services.
The Conservatives in the last general Election promised to reduce the demand by controlling migrant numbers.
How can we do this inside the EU?

To pay for our public services we need more revenue from taxation.
Where in this Gracious Speech is the measure to stop the loss of corporation tax revenue?
In the last parliament the UK had to repay companies more than £7bn of tax levied thanks to European court cases we lost.
The government forecast yet another £7bn loss this Parliament from more defeats by the EU.

You might have though the modern Labour party would show some solidarity with its sister party Syriza in Greece.
It might lift a voice if not more against the relentless and destructive austerity policies forced on that poor country.
You might have expected a demonstration or two over the mass unemployment of young people in Spain, Portugal and southern Italy.

But no. Because they are promulgated in the name of the EU the Labour front bench judge it prudent to keep quiet
To not rock the boat, to allow it go on.

I have at times in recent years think we happy band of brothers and sisters seeking to restore Uk democracy
Are fighting the English civil war again without the muskets
Just as they had to face down an unaccountable King
Taxing in ways that were unpopular, and promulgating unacceptable laws
So today we find ourselves having to fulminate against Brussels taxes
And EU laws many in our country do not want.

Will the people now speak?
Will they bring an end to this puppet Parliament?
Will they reveal the sham show. The pretend Parliament
Which strut on the stage as if in charge
But has long since given far too much power away,
The power to tax, the power to decide welfare, the power to control our own borders, the power to handle our own criminal justice system.
This is no Parliament
This is but a side show
A pale imitation of the real thing
A masque, a stooge, a lackey of the European sovereign

Posted in Uncategorized | 91 Comments

The collapse of the pound in the EU

Under the last Labour government the pound collapsed within the EU – far more than the latest ridiculous Treasury forecasts of possible future falls.
In July 2008 the pound bought $2. By January 2009 it was under $1.40, a fall of 30%.
In July 2007 the pound bought 250 yen. By January 2009 that was down to just 122. It had halved.

Better stewardship of the UK economy and events elsewhere since has brought the pound back up to $1.45 and to 160 yen.
I do not recall the Treasury forecasting the huge falls in sterling we experienced towards the end of the last decade.
If they were unable to forecast the pound accurately then when such a big change was about to happen, why should we believe their latest forecast?

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

It’s the economy stupid – we will be better off out

The Remainians want it every which way. If economic figures disappoint, they claim that is the result of Brexit fears. If the numbers fail to disappoint, they claim that is because people think Remain will win!

Their most consistent claim is the pound will go down if we leave. It’s as good a guess as any. You have a fifty fifty chance of being right. The pound has often gone down whilst we have been in the EU. With a colossal balance of payments current account deficit we are currently running thanks to our lop sided trade with the EU and all those EU contributions we have to send abroad, it is quite possible it will go down again. Just to make it more likely the Chancellor has weighted the dice. He has imposed higher taxes on foreigners buying property in the UK. He has just toughened the anti money laundering rules to deter dubious foreign cash from continuing to come. He has toughened the rules against tax avoidance, to put people off using once normal offshore schemes into London from abroad. That ought to lower the pound.

It is therefore curious that since the end of February, as the referendum campaign has come to prominence, the pound has gone up a bit against the dollar. It serves to remind anyone interested in the truth rather than the mindless and often misleading slogans that the pound is part of a much larger currency turmoil where the dollar has been slipping at last against the other main currencies of the world , unlike last year which was a year of dollar strength.

This year has also brought the surprise that the yen and the euro have strengthened a bit despite the large amounts of these currencies being created as part of their exotic money policies. Both the Euro area and the yen area are running large current account surpluses, so helping to underpin the currency values.

The Chancellor also forecasts that Brexit will slash house prices. Many see this as a good thing, so it might backfire as a political trick. However, the Chancellor should be reminded that he wants to get house prices down so they are more affordable. That is why he set more penal Stamp duties at the top end against foreign purchases, and why he has sought to stop some foreigners buying by new rules and regulations. So many house prices in Central London have already fallen, no thanks to Brexit, but thanks to a deliberate policy of trying to get them down set out by the government itself.

Recent retail sales figures have been strong, undermining the government’s view that fears of Brexit are damaging the economy. The main investors in the UK motor industry have all said they are staying and will continue to invest if we leave, and HSBC has completed its review and decided to stay in London before knowing the result of the Brexit vote. There is simply not enough bad news around to underpin the government’s pathetic wish to talk us down and to force us to stay for fear of worse, when out of the EU we will be better off. We will spend our own money on our own priorities, which brings a modest 0.5% boost to our National Income once we do it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 77 Comments

The Conservative Manifesto and opposition to EU measures

The Conservative Manifesto in 2015 could not have been clearer. It said we will “reclaim power from Brussels on your behalf and safeguard British interests in the single market”. It went on to say “No to ever closer union. No to a constant flow of power to Brussels. No to unnecessary interference”. I agreed with all that.

I now seek to implement it. It means not voting for Directives and regulations, as each one of those transfers more power to Brussels. It means opposing judgements of the European Court, like the one that will force us to put VAT up on green products. It means opposing the anticipated Treaty of Political Union in its entirety.

Because Mr Cameron’s renegotiation succeeded in getting no important power back from Brussels, surely it also means voting to leave the EU. I don’t see how voting to stay is compatible with the clear statement that we must get powers back and stop unnecessary interference. Mr Cameron did not even wrestle back the power to choose our own welfare policies, let alone the power to control our own borders and implement our crucial pledge on migration numbers.

I and a good number of my colleagues have stayed true to our Manifesto, by opposing a succession of EU measures. We will continue to do so all the time we remain in the EU. We do now need to leave the EU to do the democratic job properly which we promised at the last election.

We have a few more days left to explain to more voters just how much power has already gone and why it matters.When I write to constituents and explain that Westminster cannot right wrongs they suffer because we no longer have the power, they often express surprise. All those in government and the media who over the years have refused to talk about the EU and refuse to cover the stories of the huge transfer of powers have left the public debate denuded of important information now needed to help people make up their minds about how they wish to be governed In the future?
It is difficult to understand how Ministers can support the very truncated powers many of them now enjoyl

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The EU, TTIP and the UK Parliament

A number of Conservative MPs tabled an Amendment to the Queen’s speech . This is an unusual but available means to require the government to do something that Parliament wants but the government has omitted from its programme. It could also be used to seek to drop something from the programme.

The amendment Peter Lilley proposed requires the UK government to protect the NHS from the EU’s proposed trade with the USA, the so called TTIP. Many think the present version of the TTIP would allow overseas healthcare companies to come in and compete against the NHS, and many disagree with such a development. The government seeks to assure them that this will not be the case. The Labour opposition and the Conservative MPs moving the amendment point out that if the government has already secured the objective there can be no harm to them in accepting the amendment. It looked as if the government took this line and accepted it, but subsequently it appears the government would prefer the Conservative sponsors to drop it. They are unlikely to do so. Maybe the government wants to resist the amendment because they know it is not in their power to deliver what is asked.

This is a rare and important development. Because Conservatives were prepared to pick up a Labour worry about something from the EU, itself an exceptionally rare event to find a Labour EU disagreement, there is at last some debate about an important matter which is an EU matter and no longer in the power of the UK Parliament. As I pointed out yesterday, the UK has moved from being governed by a fanatically pro EU Labour government for 13 years who rarely disagreed or stood up against EU proposals, to being governed by a grand coalition of Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative Ministers on all matters EU. This grouping has sought to carry on rushing everything the EU wants through the Commons without proper debate or explanation. They have been successful in taking the oxygen of publicity away from those MPs who have regularly turned up and opposed important EU driven matters. Because Eurosceptic Conservatives have rarely had enough votes to threaten the EU consensus, most media and journalists have chosen to ignore what we have been saying.

Now we have united to offer a referendum to voters we are having to compress the missing 18 years of lost debate on all matters EU into a few weeks. Too many voters have no idea of just how much power and sway the EU has over us, because the mainstream parties and much of the media have conspired to tell us little power has passed and the UK can still govern herself. Now people are at last realising that we do not control many of our laws, taxes, budgets, foreign policies and the rest.

Vote leave is always being challenged to set out why Out is better. That is an easy task, and this site has done a lot of that in recent weeks. More difficult is we also have to explain just how undemocratic and unfair things currently are for UK people, and just how much worse they can get if we vote to remain in a thoroughly undemocratic, expensive and often wrong headed organisation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 110 Comments

Why so many people dislike the EU elites

The UK referendum contains within it a battle between the haves who enjoy the golden privileges of office and access to the corridors of power in Brussels, and the have nots, the rest of us who have to pay the taxes to keep them going and follow their rules, however unpalatable.

In a functioning national democracy public opinion can force changes to policies and decisions that are unpopular. This present government has rightly been required to abate its cuts to disability benefits and to alter its stance on tax credits. It is now coming under pressure to stand up to the EU and big business over some of the undesirable features of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which they are negotiating, mainly behind closed doors with too little transparency for the rest of us.

When governments do not listen enough to public opinion, and when they mess up the economy and life chances of the citizens, they get swept from power in an election. Revenge is sweet for the long suffering public, and hope swells as a new team is chosen.

The problem with the EU is it does not respond to public opinion in the same way. Nor can we remove the Commissioners by popular vote. The EU blundered on for far too long with its Exchange Rate Mechanism., causing recession. That meant lost jobs, lost businesses, a house price crash and much other damage.

Then the EU decided to do the same thing all over again to Euro member states. The long deep recessions in Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal were made worse by savage austerity cuts which no sensible democratic state would have embarked on. The election of anti austerity parties and even governments in member countries did not deter them from their chosen course.

The EU is determined to destroy a large amount of EU industry by its very dear energy policies, making so many firms uncompetitive on world markets.

The EU refuses to listen to UK public opinion when we make it clear we want to control our own taxes and spend our own money o n jobs and public services in the UK.

It is high time right and left combined to renounce the EU’s austerity economics, renounce their unwarranted interference in our budgets and taxes, and renounce their harmful fishing, energy, agricultural and other policies that have cost us jobs and lost us businesses.

We want out democracy back. The EU’s bad model is fuelling anger and more extreme parties across the continent in frustration at the way it will not listen, mend its ways and leave more to national democracies to manage and handle.

Posted in Uncategorized | 101 Comments

The UK is governed by a grand pro EU coalition

One of the strange things about the Labour leadership is their willingness to support any measure, however bad, if it is a requirement of the EU. Sometimes they put their party on a 3 line whip to vote for it. Other times they let them go home early or discourage them from voting, so Conservative Ministers and the SNP can defeat Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and secure the Euro measure.

Pro EU people are thankful that Labour behaves “responsibly” in this way. Critics of EU legislation are increasingly angry that the official Opposition in Parliament will not normally oppose anything that has made in Brussels stamped on it. Let’s hope the vote to leave the EU next month changes all this.

The need for Conservative Ministers to rely on Labour votes or abstentions to get through all the EU legislation they are required to pass is having an impact on the conduct of government generally. Yesterday’s Queen’s speech programme was clearly designed to build bridges with Labour, to avoid provocative policies which might jeopardise the implied informal coalition with Labour which is so necessary for the half of our law which now comes from the EU. Neither front bench wish to have a major row with Brussels over for example their insistence on the tampon tax or their Court judgement to make us put up VAT on green products. It is extraordinary that Labour will provide no effective opposition to these tax requirements from the EU.

The left in Parliament is generally quiet on the enforced and self defeating austerity of the Eurozone scheme. They decline to champion the cause of the unemployed in Spain or the poor in Greece, despite claiming to be good enthusiastic and committed Europeans. They confuse Europe with the EU, and seem to think it is their duty to defend all that the EU does, however indefensible. It creates a lop sided and dishonest politics, where the big issues of EU poverty, unemployment, slow growth or no growth are simply not debated. The more that Brussels does, the less a national democracy can function.

We have seen how the democratic will in Greece has to be overwhelmed by Euro area economic policies. The UK still has some democracy left thanks to our opt outs. In an increasing number of areas the UK, like Greece, has to accept whatever Brussels lays down. The refusal of the official opposition to oppose EU measures is the price we pay for this bad way of governing a once independent democratic country.

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Providing for migrants

The government pledged to reduce migration substantially at the last election. One of its main reasons for doing so is the pressure rapid large scale migration places on public services and housing, making it difficult for the country to keep up with demand. When we welcome people to our country we want them to enjoy a decent standard of living and to be a successful part of a community which is well off by world standards.

Some analysis which shows low paid migrants make a contribution by paying more in tax than they receive in benefits does not tell the whole story. Some of it does not even tell the whole story on tax and benefits, by leaving out Housing benefit. Relying on averages can be misleading. It is clearly true that a low paid migrant will pay some VAT and other charges, even if their NI and Income tax contribution is low. What this analysis rarely shows is the capital costs the state and others need to undertake to provide for the needs of a large new migrant inflow.

The ONS in their National Balance Sheet work has a figure for the end of 2013 saying that each UK resident is supported by on average £119,000 of capital assets. Housing is the main asset in each case, but we all needs road, trains, power stations, water works, doctors surgeries and schools as part of the community backup for us and our families. If one extra migrant arrives there may be no need to build a new surgery or add a new power station, but if hundreds of thousands arrive we do need to expand physical capacity and add buildings and equipment as well as hiring more public service staff.

The £119,000 figure is an average, and includes a lot of expensive housing in some parts of the country. It would therefore be wrong to suggest we need to provide £119,000 for every new migrant, or that all that money has to be spent on public provision. It is , however, the case that every migrant will need a home and many will need state or social housing as they will find home prices too dear. Some will rent from the private sector, but will seek Housing Benefit assistance as rents are often high.

One of the reasons we need more accurate figures for new arrivals is to plan better. We need to ensure the right number of new homes, extra school places, GP surgery capacity, adequate water and electricity supply and the rest. Each migrant will need several tens of thousands of pounds of backing investment on average to ensure they can all be housed and provided for to a satisfactory standard. There are said by the government to be 64.5 m people in the UK, but there are 68.4 m registered with GPs.

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The EU helps strengthen Turkish borders

The third EU Commission Report on progress in Turkey fulfilling EU requirements has changed the language a bit in its latest version, but still contains interesting comments on the EU approach to borders.
Item 10 requires Turkey to deploy sufficient “well trained and qualified border guards” (including military personnel)with “efficient infrastructure, equipment and IT technology, including through a more extensive use of surveillance equipment, in particular electronic means, mobile and fixed,video surveillance, infrared cameras and other sensor systems”. There are to be double lines of defence. “Land border detachments are based in border stations and observation towers near the border…patrolling…six kilometres into the territory from the border. A second line of surveillance is handled by the Gendarmerie.”
“The Turkish authorities have strengthened controls along the Syrian border through the construction of obstacles, fences, illuminations and patrolling roads”.
EU funded projects are helping strengthen these force deployments along the borders.
In other words the EU does now approve of physical barriers along stretches of the Turkish border to try to keep migrants out of Turkey and the EU. EU taxpayers are helping pay for better barriers, more surveillance and improved border defence forces. In return the EU becomes more dependent on the success of the Turkish authorities in policing their long borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria as the visa free area between Turley and the Schengen area of the EU takes shape.
It is a curious policy. Within the EU the EU is against physical borders and boundaries and in favour of free movement. The EU favours proper border controls on the EU’s external borders, but here along the Turkish border there is now an ambivalence as some of the attention shifts from the EU/Turkey border to the Turkey/Syria border. What is clear from the language and budgets is that the EU does now have a Trump element in its borders policy, helping finance tough border barriers to stop migration. The difficulty rests in the great length of the external frontiers and in combining this with visa free policies.

Posted in Uncategorized | 69 Comments

The problems with a German led EU

One of the reasons so many voters are unimpressed by Mr Cameron’s renegotiation is he did not stand up to Mrs Merkel.

It looks as if he asked her advice and was told to ask for very little. His demands fell far short of the requirements set out in the Bloomberg speech, and did not include gaining control of border policy with the rest of the EU. She then gave him even less than the modest demands he made.

Much of it was presented as the UK negotiating with Germany, just as the Greek crisis is usually presented as Greece negotiating with Germany, and just as the Turkish Agreement and migration arguments are usually led by Germany. Whilst some of this is media simplification, much of it is true. Germany is the lead country by a long way. It is German policy which dominates the economic policies of the Euro area, and German policy which has dominated the border issues. It will be thus, because Germany runs a massive surplus not just with us but with most other countries in the EU and has become the paymaster of the Eurozone.

The problem is German policy is proving damaging and destabilising to much of Europe. Germany’s insistence on austerity policies for the southern and western countries of the Eurozone left them deep in recession for much of the last eight years, and with high unemployment in most places.

It has destroyed the life chances of many young people, leaving as many as half of all young people of working age without a job in the troubled parts of the zone. Germany will not accept the need for larger transfers of money around the zone that are normal in mature single country currency unions, whilst Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are unable to make themselves as competitive as Germany and sell enough back to Germany to right the imbalances. They cannot devalue as they used to, and wage cuts so far have not succeeded in removing their deficits as Germany suggests should happen.

German migration policy has sent conflicting signals. First Germany offered a welcome which brought many more migrants into the EU, then Germany bowed to political pressures and proposed a less welcoming policy. Various countries decided to ignore the Schengen rules and impose new fences and walls at their borders, inviting migrants to find new and more dangerous or longer routes into the EU.

It is important to understand Germany’s view of the evolution of the EU. She sees the Euro and the common borders as central features and thinks all countries should join them in due course.She sees these main policies as part of the so called single market, which is much more than a trade arrangement as far as Germany is concerned. Germany believes that if more power over weaker countries is exercised from Brussels they will become stronger and will not need more transfers from German taxpayers.

In the meantime Germany is apprehensive about the Euro 600 bn of accumulated surplus she holds at the ECB matched by the accumulated deficits of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The Greek part of that is unlikely to be repaid in full and on time, and that could set a bad precedent.

Whilst in more recent months there has been some recovery in Spain, the Eurozone still struggles. None of this is stable. The UK leaving will help, as the last thing the EU needs at the moment is a semi detached member taking attention away from the big issues that the main EU centred on the Euro and Schengen need to tackle. The UK will be a good European if we leave and let them sort it out without the complication of a large non member of parts of the scheme always wanting something different.

I can’t see why we would want to stay in a German led Europe where there have to be bigger transfers to the poorer areas.

Posted in Uncategorized | 116 Comments
  • About John Redwood

    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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