Straws in the wind

Apart from signs of possible movement in the stalled negotiations with the EU on trade, events are beginning to push into reality those matters which have previously been merely the subject of rhetoric and speculation.

Whatever plans the government has, it will have to start giving practical information to businesses in the early new year about its intentions. In our extended article The Complexities of Brexit, we pointed out the urgency of the situation for chemical manufacturers, farmers, food producers and other businesses which have long production cycles or investment programmes which reach into the post Brexit era.

Whilst trade associations like to avoid publicity which might upset the government and to conduct their negotiations in private, the urgency of the situation is pushing these matters into the public sphere. Two articles from City AM of 22nd November demonstrate this.


EASYJET yesterday set out plans which could force UK shareholders to sell their stakes after Brexit, as it prepares to comply with foreign ownership rules.

Under EU law, the airline needs to ensure majority control and ownership by EU nationals after Britain leaves in order for it to keep operating intra-EU. Yesterday it unveiled plans to amend its articles of association which currently give directors the power to limit the ownership of the firm’s shares by by non UK nationals. Easyjet intends to change this so they apply to non EU shareholders, which will exclude UK shareholders once the UK has left the EU – giving it the power to force UK shareholders to divest their shares if need be.

The airline will put the changes to shareholders at its annual general meeting in February, saying the switch-up will ensure that Easyjet is able to remain EU-owned and controlled at all times after the UK has left the EU.

The carrier said it has “no current intention” of using the proposed powers……


By Jasper Jolly & Alys Key

THE GOVERNMENT must secure a Brexit transition deal by the end of the first quarter of 2018 before businesses implement “no deal” contingency plans, according to the head of the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Speaking at the lobby group’s annual dinner last night, IoD director general Stephen Martin said businesses “are concerned about what happens if a breakthrough is not made at the next round of talks in December”.

He said “It’s as simple as this – we are now only 16 months away from leaving the EU. We need the discussion to move on to our future trading relationship and critically what happens when the Article 50 timeline runs out in early 2019.

But he praise IoD members for their “determination” in preparing for every Brexit eventuality, saying that businesses have upheld their end of the bargain and now need the politicians to “deliver” for them.


A colleague, who has been quietly lobbying trade associations for months, decided it was time to speak to his MP. During the course of their discussion, he mentioned EFTA (The European Free Trade Association) and was astonished to find that this shadow minister did not know what it was. He had never heard of it. Over many years of campaigning, we have often been surprised at the lack of knowledge by MPs of all parties concerning the European project. A national referendum and over a year’s intense debate on the result appear to have been insufficient to disperse the fog of ignorance on even such a basic matter as this.

It is not just politicians either. At a private meeting of senior business people, not one participant raised a hand when asked if they had ever downloaded and skim-read an EU Free Trade Agreement. Former civil servants at the meeting said that this was also true of ministers they had served.

Mind you, half an hour of reading the sort of leaden prose which the EU produces is enough to sap the will to live! Considering the very definitive statements made by leading spokesmen and media personalities, it would be interesting to know how many of their very emphatic opinions were based on direct acquaintance with the text. The Devil is always in the detail.


Commenting on a report of this meeting, our good friend John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave wrote “I haven’t been home long from three days in London and I too can’t say what I have been up to, but I can confirm there is a wind of change. I have a lot of work to do now, but I am happy with the three days, never satisfied enough. But movement is at last happening, so to all readers, keep the pressure up.

“The two factors which had the most effect on them were, on the one hand, a most extraordinary level of ignorance and, on the other, an almost complete inability to listen. If anything, the stories that have leaked out on these aspects are somewhat under-stated” – yes, spot on”.


The divorce Bill to the electorate

This letter, written by CIB Committee member Michael McGough, appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 22nd November 2017.

SIR – I hope that the Prime Minister and her team will be able to justify any “divorce bill” paid to the EU.

Sums must not be plucked from the air, but fully justified and audited. Most of the information upon which to calculate this payment is readily available. Our share of EU assets must be fully accounted for at our exit.

This is not an auction, but an orderly departure. We will pay what is due, but no more.

Michael McGough

The latest Futurus briefing paper – the financial settlement with the EU

CIB Committee member Anthony Scholefield has published his latest briefing paper entitled The financial settlement with the EU. This is a most timely contribution to the very topical debate about the Brexit divorce settlement.

The paper takes as its starting point an earlier analysis by Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) whose report was highlighted on this website a few months ago.

This august body assessed our assets and liabilities to the EU, concluding that the rumoured exit fee demanded by the EU was far higher than could be justified.

The Futurus paper goes further and states that actually, the EU owes us a refund. The gist of the argument is  that the UK should not be liable for any “authorised spending not yet incurred” by the EU, which amounts in total to £28 billion. It also raises the issue of the development of  the “intellectual property”  of the EU, such as the cost of constructing databases, building up regulatory systems, and so on. These are not included in the calculations but the  UK contributed a great deal to these matters and will probably now have to build its own systems. It can legitimately claim to be recompensed for the asset which is not recognised in the EU accounts.

At a time when discussion of the final exit settlement is reaching a critical stage, this short and readable analysis is a useful contribution to the debate.

Last night’s vote:- a step towards freedom

We will leave it to others to provide a blow-by-blow account of the progress of the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) bill through Parliament. Yesterday saw the start of eight days’ scrutiny of the Bill by the House of Commons. The vote to repeal  the 1972 European Communities Act was comfortably passed by 318 votes to 68. Calls for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have a veto over the process were rejected by 318 votes to 52.

Mrs May’s plan to enshrine in law 29th March 2019 as the date on which we leave the EU was debated but was not voted on. This could prove a bit more of a challenge when the vote takes place next week, particularly with some 15 Tories indicating they were likely to vote against this amendment.  The Daily Telegraph created something of a storm by referring to these 15 as “mutineers.”

Tory MPs on both side of the Brexit divide have sought to distance themselves from the Telegraph‘s rather strong language while some of the group of 15 have accused the Telegraph of bullying.

As always, when feelings run high, it is vital to differentiate between genuinely obstructive remoaners and MPs who are not seeking to block Brexit but are uncomfortable with the way the Government is going about it. We would not wish to make any comment beyond repeating that whatever side Tory MPs took in the referendum campaign, the number of hard-core remainiacs is actually quite small. Most Tories know that delivering a successful Brexit will determine their future and they must sink or swim together.

Meanwhile, each successful vote takes us one small tiny nearer to freedom. In the present chaotic climate, we must be thankful for these small mercies.

MPs’ vote on Brexit deal – is it a climbdown?

Yesterday, David Davis announced that MPs would get a binding vote on the final Brexit deal agreed with the EU. Although Labour called this decision a “climbdown”, in reality, it does not concede very much and does not put Brexit in doubt.

Essentially, MPs will be asked to take it or leave it. The choices will either be to accept the deal or to crash out of the EU without a deal.

Unsurprisingly, the Tory incorrigibles, led by Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry were none too happy with Davis’ concession, calling it unacceptable.

It may well be, however, that the wrangling turns out to be academic. There has to be an agreement upon which to vote and there is no sign of the two sides moving any closer. One informed commentator, indeed, has suggested that within a few weeks, the  chances of a deal will drop to zero.

There is no question that the “transitional deal” about which there has been much talk faces huge obstacles. Such outlines as have been provided would be unacceptable to many Tory Brexiteers and would still need a huge amount of negotiation with the EU within a short timescale to be signed off by Brexit day.

Is there a via media between this pipe dream (or better, pipe nightmare) and the worrying prospect of having to fall back on the so-called WTO option?  The EEA/EFTA route has been ruled out, a “deep and comprehensive” trade deal on the lines of the EU/Ukraine agreement would take too long and any bespoke deal would take too long to conclude.

And this remains the biggest concerns for those of us desiring to see a successful Brexit. There is no doubt that the remainiacs are still causing trouble, but outside the political bubble, very few people are taking any notice of them. The real worry is that the talks may fail and we will drift aimlessly towards March 29th 2019 with the resulting chaos leaving us battling calls to re-join the EU forthwith.

Make no mistake – Brexit is a revolution

The departure of Priti Patel has made Department for International Development (DfID), fleetingly, a relevant topic of debate. Now to me, if you want to understand Brexit you are best looking at DfID. The reason being that its very existence is the product of the left wing capture of the establishment and is emblematic of it. It is the canary down the mine.

A lot of crap has been written about “the establishment” by people who confuse money and status with power. Real power is control over the institutions because from there you can subvert the culture. Not for nothing did the USSR invest so much energy in infiltrating UK academia and media – and not for nothing did the EU set about doing the same thing. If you can do that then you are the establishment.

Though there has been much denial that the EU influences education, the denials are from a position of ignorance. The EU does not keep its objectives secret. The “conspiracy” is hidden in plain sight.

Cultural changes and global interdependence have led to the creation of a tremendous variety of European and international networks, focused on specific objectives. Some have been supported by Community funding. These networks link businesses, communities, research centres, and regional and local authorities. They provide new foundations for integration within the Union and for building bridges to the applicant countries and to the world.

Though it’s dressed up in Eurocratese when you look at the flow of funding it all starts to make sense. Universities are recipients, as are NGOs and the BBC. For years we on the right have complained about the encroachment of the soft left social democratic NGO inspired consensus only to be met with calculated ridicule from BBC Radio 4 “comedy” output. See The Now Show/NewsQuiz. Except we were right and we still are.

The reason the EU influence tends to be NGO inspired claptrap is because the globalist NGOs are immensely powerful lobbyists. But there’s more to it than that. Because there is no European demos to speak of and the EU does not enjoy democratic legitimacy it had to manufacture it by way of paying NGOs huge sums to lobby it. A well documented phenomenon. A mutually advantageous PR merry-go-round. Everything from climate change to saving the bees. Astroturfing as it is now called.

It has since set the agenda for media campaigns, and academic syllabuses. This then works its way into popular culture. Not least through children’s television. There was always a dose of NGO propaganda on the BBC from Red Nose Day (and the celeb culture therein) to the near constant agenda-driven content of Blue Peter and Newsround. School projects and teaching materials were also subverted. I would perhaps venture this is why millennials are such credulous wet blankets and hopelessly enamoured with the EU.

By the early nineties the buzzword “sustainability” could be found everywhere – and culminated in Cameron’s husky hugging eco-conservatism (just as the fad was waning). In between we’ve had any number of job-killing eco targets driving energy costs up for the poor. But this is the mentality which is common to the globalist elite. It is ultimately politically sterile left wing populism with its own dogmas, demanding conformity for advancement just like any other political bubble.

The encroachment of this political consensus was so advanced at one point that politicians thought it was an election winner. It was this assumption that caused Cameron to sanitise the Tory party and alienate the right, pushing them out into Ukip. I think that was probably when Brexit became an inevitability. The Tory party was weaponising virtue signalling. This brings me to an illuminating piece from Prospect Online, featuring the testimony of a DfID official.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Cameron forgot his previous commitment to match Labour’s wider spending total and embraced retrenchment. DfId, however, was immune. Aid was not merely shielded from the planned cuts, like the NHS, but continued to be earmarked for the rises required to get Britain to 0.7 per cent.

Cameron ventured to Rwanda where he gave a speech about development and announced the launch of his party’s own aid venture, Project Umubano. An annual two-week trip to Rwanda for Conservative Party MPs and activists, this proved to be Cameron and Mitchell’s secret weapon. As an aid project, Project Umubano is terrible. It’s gap-year-style volunteerism—building classrooms, teaching English, helping out in health clinics. The Instagram feeds of the volunteers are filled with pictures of them surrounded by smiling, grateful children. It’s striking how many people who have been involved in Umubano refer to their trips to “Africa”, not Rwanda.

But as a political project, it was genius. It attracted a stream of volunteers—ambitious would-be Tory MPs soon realised that a fortnight teaching English in a Rwandan village was a sure-fire way of getting yourself on the new “A” list for a safe seat. A decade on, the project’s alumni includes MPs, Lords and special advisers. Mitchell admits that helping Rwanda was only one aim of the project. “I introduced it, above all, to try to make sure that within the Conservative Party there is a core of people who are passionate about development. One of the reasons I bigged it up this year [on its 10th anniversary] was to try to rectify this drift in the Tory Party.”

Now you might write this off as typical Tory cynicism but this is endemic to the culture of Westminster. Here I come back to the words of a controversial blogger, who I shall not name. He observes that in the immediate aftermath of Jo Cox’s death tribute after tribute bore witness to Jo Cox’s uniqueness. “But in reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, women like Jo Cox are ten a penny across the West these days — bland, compliant functionaries who have been marinated in political correctness and are happy to regurgitate the platitudes and attitudes of their political masters. And are well-rewarded for doing so.

She was that toxic combination of self-righteousness and entitlement which believed itself possessed of a special moral insight into the moral shortcomings of their own people. Never slow to parade her compassion, she was also calculating enough to help more dubious causes, as when she lent her name to a government minister who was lobbying for Britain to begin bombing in Syria. Bombing and babies; it was all business for Jo Cox.

Hers was the typical smooth career path of the modern political cog. From her grammar school, where she was the Head Girl, she seamlessly moved onto an extended period at two universities before emerging as professional aid worker for Oxfam and Save the Children. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was another fashionable international development outfit in which she managed to wangle a position as “advisor.”

She certainly travelled extensively, but to what extent did she get her hands dirty? Rather than mopping sweat-covered brows, her role as a policy consultant seemed to revolve swanning around seminars, conferences and committee rooms in Brussels and London. Networking, rather than counselling, seems the main skill in this field.

The safe Labour seat seems to have been a reward for acting as a bag-carrier for prominent political wives such as that of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a former Labour leader and Euro aristocrat Neil Kinnock. Her constituency seat had been represented by local white men for decades so an all-female shortlist had to be imposed on the local party to ensure an acceptable candidate could be given this plum.

It was a gilded lifestyle with a houseboat on the Thames beside Tower Bridge at which she hosted networking events for important left-wing women. There was a second house in her constituency which was a venue for a huge Solstice party each year.

The role of international aid worker is highly valued among a section of shrewd university-educated females. It offers a particularly attractive combination of a good salary in an expanding sector, frequent foreign travel and high status among the do-gooding circles.”

As you might expect these words, at the time, went down like a lead balloon, but are nonetheless true. This is how the system works and if you want to get a close to power this is the narrative you must follow regardless of your party affiliation.

The reason the sentiment at the time was that the political parties were all the same is because they were. Nobody dared break ranks. Except of course Ukip, whose asinine “plain talking” garnered much support as a protest vote against an increasingly venal and shallow political class incapable of relating to the public.

In fact, the vote to embed the 0.7% GDP aid spending target was carried by a massive majority in the Commons while all polling suggested that few wanted to see an increase in aid spending. The terms “virtue signalling” and “out of touch” don’t even begin to cover it. This is a form of madness.

Our DfID official observes that in the post-Brexit world, “one reason that aid is proving so suddenly vulnerable is that nobody ever made the argument about what modern development involves. It’s not just grain handouts and paying for teachers or nurses. Often our support goes on things which, when ripped from its context and placed in size 72 font on a tabloid headline, can look like a waste. One such project was created in Ethiopia, an innovative crackdown on an epidemic of child marriage”.

It was called Girl Effect and Dfid funded it to the tune of £5.2m. A culture brand was created, called Yegna, which included a radio show and a girl group. The aim was to change perceptions of what girls could do, instead of entering into a marriage before they were 16. DfID thought it was a success, giving it an A rating.

Well of course it did. It makes everybody feel lovely. And that’s what counts isn’t it? Same as sending half a dozen clapped out RAF Tonkas to fire missiles over Syria makes us feel like the right hand of vengeance. Doesn’t actually matter if it has no measurable effect or even if the effects are vastly counter-productive.

And this is what we critics mean when we say there is no accountability. The system is largely self-audited by its own values (however far departed from reality they may be). We should note that the example cited is largely in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals which is pretty much written into the DNA of all UN regulatory activity. Watchers of UNCTAD and the fringes of the WTO will have seen a massive drive for gender equality and all the popular claptrap of the NGO set.

This is usually without listening to the natives who are not especially imbued with meddlesome Western cultural and moral imperialism. Very often there is devastating blowback which seldom ever goes reported.

It is not a good idea to impose Western social mores on tribal peoples. Ultimately it is the women of the West who have asserted their own equality and through trade we need to enable other women to do the same. Ploughing in with moralising lectures from upper middle class white saviour barbies is most certainly not the way to do it.

The touchy-feely narcissistic aid doctrines of the West have on a number of occasions proved utterly disastrous. Not for nothing do we see African nations starting to expel NGOs. They’re a menace.

This is not to say that DfID could not be put to good use but firstly the culture must change and our institutions must be decontaminated. Our aid policy is running almost entirely independently of the FCO, largely to an alien agenda to questionable effect. Its perverse culture is deeply intertwined with the EU which accounts for £5bn of our aid spending.

The whole system has lost the plot, lost its moral centre, forgotten who it serves – and who pays its way. In this regard it’s something of a pity that Ms Patel has blown it for herself. An idiotic wrecker is probably the right medicine for a department as bent out of shape as DfID.

For all that we have nominally had a conservative government for the last seven years we have in fact been living under the same régime since the early nineties. There has been a silent coup where the instruments of state have been re-purposed to serve the agenda of Brussels and the globalist NGOcracy. It is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

This is why the establishment has fiercely resisted Brexit because it affects their income stream and their access to the levers of power. When they say that Brexit means we will be less influential they mean they will be less influential. This is actually their naivety at work in that the culture rubs off on them and they go native. Hence why academia will go to bat for Brussels every time.

There are plenty of commentators who have noted there is a certain revolutionary zeal about Brexiters. They are not wrong. We want the narcissistic wastrels purged. We want the adults back in control. We want to see academic rigour and an academia that doesn’t mindlessly spout leftist doctrine as though it were the centre ground.

Now you’ll get no argument from me that the Tory right are absolutely insane but these wreckers will break the institutional melding between the EU and UK, it will cut of the funding for divisive EU political agendas, and it will starve the beast; forcing many of the decisions politicians thus far have been too cowardly to take.

Often I get lectures from the great and the good that revolutions are destabilising and often dangerous. Indeed they are. The Tory right will be the first to be consumed by it. But it will rip through politics like a cleansing forest fire.

You tell me it isn’t necessary and there are other means of achieving change, but there really isn’t. The system saw Ukip coming a mile off. It knows how to play political judo. The system is rigged for stability. That is part of its merit. But when it has been captured by an occupying force, we have no other choice. As much as the right-on, mustn’t offend, must not act in the national interest mentality has completely consumed DfID, the intellectual stultification that comes with it is widespread.

It goes hand in hand with the political correctness of the left to the point where a shadow minister must resign for the criminal act of telling the truth. When Westminster is more concerned with Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee than systemic child abuse it becomes a matter of urgency to clear the lot of them out – no matter the cost. Make no mistake, this is a revolution and if it does not succeed then the UK will be consumed by the narcissism and venality of the establishment to the point where nothing functions. By the looks of things we may be too late.