Lecture at Middlesex

On Thursday evening I gave a lecture at Middlesex University about the long period of the UK’s membership of what became the European Union, and why it led so many UK voters to conclude we will be better off out.

Two  things  were most  neglected in the Referendum thanks to the dominance of the Remain campaign and the Establishment behind it in driving the media agenda. These  were the economic damage that membership did  to the UK, and the plans of the EU to move onto political as well as full monetary and economic union. I will consider these today and in later posts.

We need to examine  the EU’s love of austerity policies. They are embedded in the Maastricht Treaty, and apply to the UK as well as to Euro members, though without the same enforcement mechanisms for us as for a  Euro member. Maastricht says that  no state should borrow more than 3% of GDP in any year, and all states should  bring their state debts down to 60% of GDP. This latter requirement forces a country like Greece to try to run a budget surplus, and lies behind Chancellor Osborne’s wish to repay debt in the UK. Each year the Treasury reports on our public finances against the Maastricht requirements, and each year we have a Parliamentary debate about our progress or lack of it in hitting these targets.

Our membership of the EC began badly with a deep recession in the middle 1970s. Whilst this was not directly caused by our EEC membership, it did lead some  people in the 1975 referendum to doubt there would be economic gains from membership. Our presence in the EC did not begin with a surge of new business from joining the Customs Union.  In the first decade the removal of all tariffs from manufactures where we were relatively weak allowed continental countries led by Germany  to boost their exports to us greatly, helping destroy jobs and factories here at home. Conversely a lack of market opening in services where we were stronger meant we ran perpetual large balance of payments deficits.

The worst impact of the EU on us came from their requirement that we join the Exchange Rate Mechanism. This gave us a boom/bust nightmare – entirely predictable as I wrote  in a pamphlet prior to the event. We lost 5% of National Income and Output from the slump it caused. The 2016 referendum was our first chance to vote on the EU’s role in that disaster. The UK government that was the agent of it had long since perished at the ballot box as electors removed the EU’s agent of recession in the 1997 election.

The austerity policies in Greece, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere have been of altogether much greater magnitude than in the UK where we have broken the rules by more and for longer on debt and deficit. In Greece there have been endless rounds of cuts including large cash cuts in pay and pensions which we in the UK have rightly never considered. These policies have been deeply damaging to their economies, resulting in  high unemployment and excessively high youth unemployment.



  1. duncan
    April 16, 2018

    It is surely naive to believe that the EEC and its modern-day equivalent, the EU, is not a political union in all but name. I would go as far to say that the EU is German political and economic imperialism simply as a result of its pivotal importance in the EU construct.

    If Germany falters the entire EU charade collapses. It is the sun around which all other EU member states revolve

    The UK does not exist to serve the needs of the German and French politcal class. Yes, we will play our part in defending democracy and freedom against aggressors but that does not nor should it mean we sacrifice our own sovereignty and democracy in the process

    The British people have always been imbued with common-sense and morality. The left have worked hard to replace those moral values with political narrative but no amount of political and liberal left propaganda can circumvent our natural sense of justice and a knowing what is right and wrong. This explains why Leave won the EU-Ref.

  2. Lifelogic
    April 16, 2018

    I get the impression that almost no members of the public support May’s bombing! It must be at least 9:1 against I suspect. Especially when done just the day before the investigation and without any approval from parliament. Why the rush?

    Certainly a huge incentive now for chemical weapons being uses by the forces opposing Assad, while pretending it was his forces.

    1. eeyore
      April 16, 2018

      The polling is 36% pro, 40% anti and 24% don’t know.

    2. Know-Dice
      April 16, 2018

      Agreed, unless it shortens the conflict which IMO has been extended by the West 🙁

      You say ” Why the rush? ” I guess it was to stop any chemical weapons etc. from being moved. But, on the other hand with inspectors arriving on Saturday? the smoking gun/guns had probably already been “disappeared”…

    3. Hope
      April 16, 2018

      Salisbury should have shown that Russia has chemical weapons. How does bombing in Syria stop Russia from giving Assad chemical weapons? What was the consequences of blowing up these sites to the people in the surrounding Areas? We saw in Salisbury a big clean up, May cannot control the wind from blowing harmful chemicals into populated areas who had nothing to do with Assads deeds.

      What next bombing in Saudi Arabia or Yemen? How about North Korea firing missiles across Japan? The West promised to get back the 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria and then forgot them!

      May has just given up our territorial waters and fishing stocks to a foreign power for nothing in return when we leave the EU and she has the Gaul to talk about national interest!

      May cannot keep her word on anything and has betrayed every red line for Brexit. She is completely untrustworthy. Why does she even expect the public to believe her on any issue after so many broken promises and lies over the last Year? She has capitualited on our national interest i.e. Examine line by line the EU financial demand to talk about trade then give it £100 billion while raising our taxes for her unnecessary surrender.

      The agent caused your party to be in the worldliness for decades prepare to expect worse from May being in office.

    4. Bob
      April 16, 2018


      “Certainly a huge incentive now for chemical weapons being uses by the forces opposing Assad, while pretending it was his forces.”

      Yes, the Syrian govt has no motive for such behaviour, but the forces lined up against them certainly do (and that could include the Western “democracies”).

      Dangerous times.

  3. Fedupsoutherner
    April 16, 2018

    Your posts this week should be very interesting John. I am sure there are many of us that still don’t realise the negative results from joining the EU and the way Germany and France made sure it would all be to their advantage. I think if more facts were made clearer to the voters during the referendum the vote to leave would have been higher. I look forward to being enlightened.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 16, 2018

      More government, beyond about 15% of GDP for the essentials, is nearly always hugely damaging to an economy. The EU meant very much more government (and more lawyers) both at EU level and UK level. More regulations, more legal uncertainties and costs, more fees to pay, loss of fishing, more subsides for daft things like CAP, more taxes and tax complexity, more green crap, the ERM, the EURO, more diesel cars and an insane “bloated government knows best” agenda.

      Thanks goodness we are leaving (assuming May actually does eventually leave properly).

    2. Len Grinds
      April 16, 2018

      You should be aware that not a single reputable economist thinks that EU membership harmed the UK economy. It was clearly a big boost to growth, by opening up export markets. But if you prefer Redwood’ s ideological grandstanding to hard-headed experts, that’s up to you

      1. Richard1
        April 17, 2018

        It is likely that membership meant mote trade than there would otherwise have been, at least in the 70s and 80s, although some of this would have been trade diversion from former trading partners. Many eminent economists -who have been proven right on the major issues over 30 years (eg Patrick Minford)- argue, correctly, that the EU has retarded growth. This will be due to polices such as the ERM, the euro, the CFP, the CAP, stifling emphasis on harmonisation and unscientific regulation (eg on GM foods).

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        April 17, 2018

        Harmed economy vs harmed industry.

        Immigration is good for the economy (short term effects) but the micro position is different.

        I feel you may find similar anomalies in the micro economy for local industry being damaged short term by EU membership. This in turn made us more reliant on imports.

        Had the tap been turned on slightly rather than fully there may have been a more productive outcome driven by competition

      3. Edward2
        April 17, 2018

        Your statement is very vague Les.
        Over what timescale?
        By what percentage was there a “big boost”
        “Not… harmed the economy”..standards of living over 50 years have obviously risen but if you look at the EUs growth rates versus the rest of the world it shows a poor performance.
        The EUs share of world trade is declining.
        Unemployment and particularly youth unemployment is dreadful.

        But it isn’t about trade.
        We are leaving to be a free, independent nation once more.

    3. Hope
      April 16, 2018

      How sad we have a PM who wants to sell out our nation to a foreign body called the EU and the leader of the opposition siding with the Kremlin against our nation! The Swamp known as Parliamnet needs to be cleared.

    4. Adam
      April 16, 2018

      A concept for France & Germany being unified via the EU was to avoid repeated conflict. Populations forced together might oppose, causing the opposite of intended effect.

    5. Alison
      April 16, 2018

      ats off to Dr Redwood for all these debates. These are precisely what is needed. And much more of this sort of activity is desperately needed.

      To add to Fedupsoutherners’ point – there is massive ignorance in the UK, particularly the young (under 30) about what the EU does. Many young people still think that we the UK receive massive amounts of money and funding (they think these are separate things, ie funding of roads in addition to massive pots of money). The Remain literature for the referendum that I saw fed on this, nearly surpassing the LibDems in glossing of figures (amounts ‘received’ by Scotland, implying in one year, without saying that this was over a period of over seven years … Blatant manipulation, and they knew it).

      The EU makes it a condition of project funding that the project be advertised. So there are lots of road signs etc, proclaiming ‘funded by EU whatever’ – whereas, of course, the funding was by the UK, via the EU, and decided, ultimately, through EU channels, orchestrated by the Commssion. In the UK we should have done and should do a lot more in the UK to celebrate our own project funding, regional in particular. Not just with road signs but also with newspaper coverage … although of course these might be accompanied by protests, something else should have been funded. But, of course, that is one of the fundamental reasons why we should leave the EU – we get to argue and decide among ourselves.

  4. oldtimer
    April 16, 2018

    It is becoming evident that the purpose of the transition period is to give Remainers more time to shift public opinion. The first staging post is the call for a second referendum. The EU would also like second referendum to reverse the result of the first as it contemplates the cost of the first. Recent comments by M Barnier suggest he thinks he has the UK negotiators by the short and curlies. No doubt there are those in the UK establishment seeking to overturn Brexit who are aiding and abetting this outcome. I hope that the ERG are alert to these dangers and are considering their options closely when the deal is presented for approval by Parliament.

    1. Anonymous
      April 16, 2018

      Called The People’s Vote so that the wealthy pro EU establishment demanding it can trick us into thinking it was our idea.

    2. Lifelogic
      April 16, 2018

      This certainly seems to be their plan and T May seems to be going along with it at every turn.

    3. Hope
      April 16, 2018

      It is not a transition. It is absolutely clear it is a punishment extension as a vassal state. Barrier now publicly saying the U.K. will cave in to demands on Gibraltar! He has the measure of weak and wobbly May who will give away literally anything to remain in the EU by another name. So far May has agreed to hand the EU billions in money just to talk about trade, legal jurisdiction over citizens in this country, immigration, benefits to EU citizens not yet born or set a foot in this country, regulatory alignment deal or not and customs union because EU will never agree to any suggestion over the Irish border. If not insulted enough she has now agreed EU decides what happens in our territorial waters and what fish we are allowed to catch after we leave! In return May has got or secured nothing!

      JR, could anyone predict such an awful outcome to date or would be so stupid or moronic to accept the terms to date? And she still kisses the man on the cheek in public who makes threats to our nation! Assad is not a threat to us, May definitely is.

      1. Peter
        April 17, 2018

        All true, but those in a position to remove her havenot done so.

        They must also share the blame.

      2. Tasman
        April 17, 2018

        Hope, you should not be blaming Mrs May. What is happening is exactly what the Remain campaign told you would happen if you voted to Leave. Yes, we have to pay huge sums to the EU, yes we have to accept the ECJ’s jurisdiction plus immigration, benefits and regulatory alignment, and no, we are getting no trade deals to replace what we have lost. Hope, the people you need to blame are the Leavers who made you false promises about how the Uk would hold all the cards and we would get frictionless trade at zero cost. So don’t blame Mrs May (who promised none of that), blame Gove, Davis, Johnson, Redwood etc

        Reply Such terms would be a bad deal – No Deal would be a lot better

        1. Hope
          April 17, 2018

          Tasman, totally wrong. Remainers are agreeing the bad deal. It is not worth keeping May in office for the agreement to date. JR and chums must oust her. JR and others mistake was to believe May, she has never kept her word. Cameron the same before her, I am surprised leaver MPs do not learn from experience.

      3. John C.
        April 17, 2018

        I must say I was never optimistic about the resolve of our negotiating team, but considering your list of our points of capitulation, it is truly dismal. It’s a wonder we’re not negotiating in a railway carriage at Compiegne.

    4. L Jones
      April 16, 2018

      When this ”transition” period was mooted, and the EU pretended that it might not agree to it, so that the UK had to ask nicely, then the alarm bells began to ring even more loudly.
      You’re right – it is now obviously just a ploy to buy time for the remainders to get their act together.

    5. Andy
      April 16, 2018

      I am a Remainer – and I do not want a second referendum. A second referendum is a cop out. I am fully in favour of an immediate hard Brexit.

      Not because I think Brexit is good – on the contrary I think it is an unmitigated disaster.

      No, I want a hard Brexit because it is the best way to permanently crush Euro scepticism.

      The incompetent Leave clowns in government would struggle to run a tap let alone a country.

      They will own the blame when the inevitable Brexit car crash comes. And we will then systematically use it to permanently destroy the Tory party.

      We’ll have Brexit undone by 2035 – just in time to pay some of your pensions in Euros – and will reduce the party of Churchill to an irrelevant rump. 21st century Whigs.

      This electoral tsunami has already been triggered but because most of you don’t converse beyond blue rinse brigade circles you’ve not figured it out yet.

      1. Edward2
        April 17, 2018

        Strangely I am moving to a point of liking the idea of a second referendum as it would help to permanently shut up the moaning of remain extremists.

  5. Bryan Harris
    April 16, 2018

    It’s very worthwhile to highlight the failings of the EU – their wrong straight-jacket policies that were right out of the old USSR….The EU was intent on also on making sure inflation was kept under control – a sad policy that had many ramifications, that led to a real drop in the value of wages….while very few companies actually gave employees a pay rise during the last 15 years… and this has impoverished many.
    Other problems around EU policies, were the huge fines they made us pay for violating rules, which other countries didn’t suffer from, in quite the same way. The way they redistributed our cash meant that while our streets were crumbling, places like Poland were made beautiful.

  6. Mark B
    April 16, 2018

    Good morning.

    We need to examine the EU’s love of austerity policies.

    Or to be precise, Germany’s.

    The worst impact of the EU on us came from their requirement that we join the Exchange Rate Mechanism.

    That is not how I remember it. The ERM was set up in 1979 and the UK declined then to join. I remember that John Major and Douglas Hurd convinced Lady Thatcher and the Cabinet to joining. All this against her best instincts as we joined at a time of high German interest rates. This was always going to lead to disaster, and so it did. Sowing the seeds, as our kind host observes, to the Glorious Referendum of 2016. Kama ! 🙂

    The 2016 referendum was our first chance to vote on the EU’s role . . .

    That is a little unfair. The requirement to join the ERM was there since 1979 and the UK Government declined. The joining and the faffing about ( Google, The Poisoned Chalice ) when John Major (then PM), Ken Clarke MP, and Michael Heseltine where sitting around a table while the country was going down the pan and did NOTHING !! And this was by their own admission in that TV Documentary mentioned above. So I am not making this up.

    The ERM fiasco can only ever be laid at the UK Government and the Conservative Parties door. They brought us into the then EEC. They took us into the ERM. And it was they that watched while the UK economy burned. I, along with many other people were deeply hurt by what happened, and I shall never forget or forgive.

    This may sound like a bash at our kind host and his party, but it is not. It is a lesson that they, the Conservatives, need to relearn time and time again – Stop taking your voter base for granted.

  7. Richard1
    April 16, 2018

    In the 70s and 80s the EU was, relatively speaking, a voice for freer trade and market liberalisation. The balance of advantage for the U.K. probably shifted post- Maastricht with the introduction of the euro, which we’ve never wanted to be part of, and the consequent and necessary focus on political union to enable economic and monetary union. (in fact monetary union was probably adopted in order to deliver political union, the long term objective). Historians will probably decide that once the euro went ahead an eventual U.K. exit was inevitable.

    We cannot say however, as many leavers do, that the euro is an unmitigated disaster. It needs economic and political union to work properly and to avoid endless austerity in deficit member states. But it’s also created a wide and deep capital market, with advantages for access to and cost of capital, and has almost certainly boosted trade within the Eurozone.

    Post Brexit there’s going to have to be a relentless focus on making sure the U.K. is competitive. We won’t be able to afford gesture policies (high taxes, HS2, the Severn barrage etc). If the Integrated Eurozone starts to outperform the U.K., public opinion will shift & we will end up in it.

  8. Ian wragg
    April 16, 2018

    The Remainiacs never give us any idea why we should stay in the EU.
    From the negotiations to date it has become obvious to all but the terminally stupid just what a thoroughly rotten outfit it really is.
    It has been exposed as the protectionist organisation it is and the level of mismanagement and corruption laid bare.
    It really is difficult to understand why anyone would want to be a member other than France Germany.

    1. John C.
      April 17, 2018

      Well there are inducements for the recipient nations, the biggest of which I believe is Poland. Child benefits alone, supplied by us , must be an encouraging start.

  9. Anonymous
    April 16, 2018

    “…damage that membership did to the UK, and the plans of the EU to move onto political as well as full monetary and economic union.”

    Nowhere was this more manifest than in the abolition of the nation state the most obvious impact of this being the removal of privilege from born and bred citizens who found themselves less than equal to new arrivals.

    I don’t actually think that the establishment thirst for mass immigration can be blamed on the EU but there had to be consequences from the British establishment’s maltreatment of the still enfranchised British citizenry.

    That consequence was a long, patient, peaceful, lawful and intelligent campaign which resulted in a referendum.

    The establishment had been told time and time and time again that The People were unhappy.

    In its crudest form the impetus for Leave was widespread disatisfaction with immigration policy (much higher than 52%.) Remainers twist this to mean anti *immigrant* in order to void the referendum result.

    Frankly I would prefer to have home rule but direct rule from Brussels without a UK Puppet Parliament would be better than the present charade which is nothing but an insult to the intelligence.

  10. Epikouros
    April 16, 2018

    Indeed the EU is not an institution that has or can foster economic growth or deal with members economic, political and social problems as they arise. That is far better done by the members themselves as their problems are particular to them which a one fits all solution as practiced by the EU in many cases makes the the problem far worse as it is not tailored to fit all circumstances. This one fits all solution is applied in everything the EU does and is an unmitigated disaster for some members and give others either an unfair advantage or benefits that they do not deserve.

    This attribute with its myriad of problem causing consequences on its own is sufficient to claim that the EU has not and cannot deliver on the promises that gave rise to its birth. There are many other reasons such as lack of democratic accountability and the other losses of control over our actions to name just a couple. The UK public the sensible ones that is recognised the fact that the EU causes far more harm than good and voted for Brexit. For their own sake the rest of the member countries citizens would benefit from following the UK’s example and plan their own exit.

  11. Original Richard
    April 16, 2018

    Whatever damage the EU can do to us outside the EU it is nothing compared to the damage they can wreak upon us when we are inside the EU and subject to all their laws, regulations, taxation, budget commitments, trade, foreign and immigration policies as well as using our assets such as our fishing waters and our military.

    All of which is decided either by unelected bureaucrats or by QMV.

    The idea that we have any influence as one of 28 countries (soon to be 35) is delusional.

    In addition, we have always been at a severe disadvantage by always being the first to implement EU regulations and being unable to organise industrial scale cheating whether it be subsidies, CAP type olive growing frauds or implementing diesel emissions cheating devices.

  12. Adam
    April 16, 2018

    Nations who pooled their currency were happier behind a docile net contributor’s shield.

    As the UK angle-grinds its EU shackles, increasing metal fatigue fragments chains of other nations into freedom.

  13. Denis Cooper
    April 16, 2018

    Well, I diverge from your view, JR, insofar as I reckon the overall economic effects of our EU membership have been marginal. Most probably negative, but only marginally so.

    My reason for saying that the effects have been marginal is that the UK economy has been expanding at a compound trend rate of 2.5% a year for the past seven decades:


    without any obvious changes clearly attributable to the UK joining the EEC or to the later creation of the EU Single Market, and with the latter having added only about 2% to the collective GDP of the EU member states according to Michel Barnier himself:


    while the benefit for the UK has probably been only half of that, about 1% added to our GDP, which corresponds to about five months natural growth at the trend rate.

    I find it strange that our negotiators be adopting such a submissive attitude to the EU’s negotiator when they should know that in his previous incarnation as a EU Commissioner he publicly admitted that the EU Single Market had had so little economic benefit – 2.13% added to the EU collective GDP and a 1.3% increase in employment.

    Perhaps they should print out his report and have a copy clearly visible on the table during all the negotiations, with those numbers written in a note attached to the front.

    1. Hope
      April 17, 2018

      Dennis, it has become clear the alleged negotiation is a charade. The UK Govt. accepting punishment to leave in name only as an example to other countries.

      The outcomes already decided that the U.K. will leave in name only to leave the door open to return. Davis does not make claims that we might never leave the EU for no reason, Hunt: May’s Brexit or no Brexit, Hammond: modest changes only.

      No right minded person or self respecting country would accept the terms to date. They are outrageous. The MP leavers hope that once technically out they might be able to change to a proper clean break. That is a fallacy as the final deal will become a treaty.

  14. Cynic
    April 16, 2018

    I believe that membership of the EU has been bad for us in other fundamental ways. Having laws and regulations imposed on us by Brussels has eroded respect for the rule of law – an important safeguard of our liberty – and our judicial system is gradually being politicised.

  15. Ian wragg
    April 16, 2018

    “According to Open Europe there will be no trade negotiations until after we have left on the 29th March.
    If we have no destination how come we need a transition period. There is nothing to vote on as we just leave.
    I hope Brussels have been told that there will be no money until agreement is reached.
    We should just walk away.

  16. BOF
    April 16, 2018

    There is little to disagree with on the past and present relationship with the EU.

    This week will see our unelected Lords debating Brexit. Also more negotiations between our incompetent team and the EU. With a bad deal already waiting to be presented we cannot have any confidence that there will be yet more capitulation and compromise by our Prime Minister as she allows herself to be led by our Europhile civil servants.

    With Mr Gove having sold out UK fishing, I now hear that the Foreign Office, with Mr Johnson in charge, has sold out the Falklands fishing industry to foreign interests.

    Is the thinking in Government that when there is nothing left to sell out on, the British people will meekly fall into line?

    1. John C.
      April 17, 2018

      I suppose a nation with nothing to hang on to, not even its self-respect, is unlikely to mount the barricades. Defeated from within- who would have guessed it?

  17. graham1946
    April 16, 2018

    Why the rush?

    Probably just timing. I have no doubt Trump told her he was going to do it and she didn’t want to be left out and wanted to look big.. As usual she made the wrong choice. Expect more jihadi episodes in the UK over the next few months. Apparently nothing much was achieved and Assad won’t care. If his palace was targeted he may be more worried.

    1. graham1946
      April 16, 2018

      This was a reply to LL above and was duplicated by the poor quality ‘captcha’ system used on this blog.

  18. henryS
    April 16, 2018

    We all know that Greece is in a terrible place..as it has been for years..the people as a whole has been living well beyond their means and that with successive incompetent governments.. also with failure of oversight on behalf of the EU auditors has allowed this Greek calamity to happen..so no point in bringing Greece into the equation- Greece to my mind doesn’t compare with anything

    Ireland on the other hand have made awful mistakes in the past as well but have paid the price through austerity, emigration and collapse of the banking and housing markets..only ten years ago..but they are now well on the mend.. this morning it is announced that Irish beef exports to the Chinese market have been approved..three approved factories to start with- this will be the first beef exports deal from any of the EU countries in the modern times..and furthermore with five more beef factories to follow..so whatever about the fallout from brexit or austerity..as they see it.. they are obviously doing something right and pushing ahead with their International trade deals and not letting internal wrangling or brexit get them down.

    For us.. looking back to 1973 is probably not the answer to our problems either.. best thing to do now is to look at where we are..and see where we are going and more importantly where we want to go, but seriously as a people,..if we do not get the deal with the EU we want then at least we know there are some worthwhile International trade deals are out there for us but we have to go out and fight for them- whatever about anything else- including the bombing of Syria- I believe a sideshow for Mrs May?- we also need a good dose of British realism into the whole UK brexit debate- as it’s starting to drag us down

  19. Melvin Cornwell
    April 16, 2018

    There is ZERO need for a ‘transition/implementation’ period. Businesses have as much or as little vision of the future as they have ever had, and should be progressing accordingly. Many of them are controlled by those who are looking for opportunity to CONFECT problems, and the longer they get, the more deceitful their actions will become. In summary: businesses that have failed to prepare do not need more time – they need new management…

  20. mancunius
    April 16, 2018

    I’ll be interested to see if the House of Lords voting this week to stay in the customs union. And watching very keenly to see how May responds to it.

  21. a-tracy
    April 16, 2018

    How can you say there have been no cuts in pensions in the UK, by moving a woman’s pension age back from 60 to 65 you gain an extra five years Employees NI contributions, then they can’t access their state pension for five years cutting their income by approx. 35,000 pounds so around 40k. Then everyone now has their pension age being moved back year by year until 70, so a loss of around 10k pounds pa for low earning workers.

    If this Windrush generation and I’ve read there are around 50,000 undocumented potential claimants haven’t got the requisite years NI contributions in, do they still get housing benefit, other social security benefits and a pension credit? That woman I know can’t get and is expected to get by on 75 pounds pw.

  22. ian
    April 17, 2018

    Everybody should read Robert Fisk story in the independent newspaper about the so call gas attack on Douma in Syrian. Just gone to press 2 hours ago.

    1. Mitchel
      April 17, 2018

      Commentators like Robert Fisk,Patrick Cockburn,Peter Oborne and our former ambassador to Syria,Peter Ford,know what they are talking about-many of the others speaking from studios in London or at best Lebanon with supplied briefing notes do not.

    2. John C.
      April 17, 2018

      I think the undoubted fact that there are doubts in many quarters about what happened is very worrying. We have a PM who orders military action on supposition- and receives support!

  23. Ron Olden
    April 17, 2018

    I saw the wage growth figures today and notice that over the past year wages have risen faster than prices as measured by the ‘new’ CPIH which includes Housing Costs.

    This is good (albeit predictable) news, but some of us will be surprised that the favoured measure for inflation, didn’t already include Housing Costs.

    Is it assumed than we don’t require Housing? If so perhaps they should have excluded food and clothes as well.

    The slow down in House Price inflation and rent rises is key feature of us getting better off. The only people who benefit from House Price inflation are people who own houses that they don’t need to live in themselves, and people who inherit owner occupied houses after the owner dies..

    In any case these figures don’t include the rise in personal allowances, rate bands and the NIC threshold in April. So it’s even better than it looks.

  24. Ron Olden
    April 17, 2018

    It’s not the budget deficit constraint that causes the problems for cocuntries like Greece. It’s the fact that they have no control whatsoever of their own monetary policy.

    Removal of import taxes when we joined the EU benefitted UK consumers and businesses here which bought things on which there had previously been tariffs. If any business here couldn’t compete without tariff protection that’s their problem.

    Whilst the the ERM was a terrible idea, I’m not sure it caused the extent of Tory defeat in 1997.

    The ERM recession technically ended in the month after the Tories won the 1992 General Election. The darkest hour is always before dawn, so theoretically that must have been the worst time to have the election.

    By 1997, there had been five years of continuous economic growth.

    The circumstances of ejection from the ERM in late 1992 damaged credibility, but even then there was nothing serious in the Opinion Polls. In any event all three consecutive Labour Leaders, Kinnock, John Smith and Blair had been in favour of staying in the ERM.

    I voted to stay in the EU in 1975 and if I went back I would do so again. But by 2016 voting Leave was the only sensible thing to do. The EU is not the same as the early EEC we joined

    Reply Conservatives lost in the polls immediately after the ERM debacle and never recovered in the years that followed. People constantly told us of tgeir displeasure with the recession the ERM caused

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