Q: Just say it is late 2018. Britain and the EU have just agreed a Withdrawal Agreement (WA) with us largely under EU control until 2021, losing existing voting power. The future relationship declaration is non-committal. Would there be a second referendum?

 

 

Sacked minister Justine Greening wants a complicated referendum with 3 options – accept the deal, leave with no deal or remain in the EU. Voters would also get a second choice! Sammy Wilson MP responded that voters had already had referendums to reject the EU and Alternative Voting!

BIRDS OF A FEATHER? Greening (Times) and Mandelson (Guardian) both urged a second referendum, but their articles made the same error on being unable to influence EU rules. As former Trade Commissioner Mandelson would know better – this points to their articles being orchestrated.

The government wouldn’t want a referendum. Apart from splitting the Conservative Party and reviving deep public tensions from 2016, it would take up precious Parliamentary time. Organising a poll and appointing official campaigns would be on impossibly tight timescales unless the Brexit date was put back.
The uncertainty might not actually appeal to the EU either! Bureaucrats in Brussels are overloaded with trying to get EU legislation through while the current European Parliament and Commission are still in place and would not relish the possible disruption to their preparations and extra work. However, it was noted that EU leaders quietly agreed to keep MEP seats for Britain in the event that we did not leave before July 2019!!! So, the possibility can’t be ruled out.

The EU (Withdrawal) Act doesn’t repeal the European Union Act 2011 until we leave the EU, but as current plans won’t give the EU new powers, no referendum should be triggered.

It’s a hard call how MPs would vote on the WA. Most Leaver MPs would probably vote for it to ensure Brexit, salving their consciences that it is only a temporary deal and their vote keeps Jeremy Corbyn out of power. Although Tory Remoaners will bawl “worse than EU membership”, they typically fall into line in practice.

With their 2017 manifesto preaching the benefits of the Single Market, Labour MPs might think twice about voting down legislation that kept Britain in it. On balance, a soft Brexit would probably get passed.

Greening’s line that “the final decision” should be for the people and “out of deadlocked politicians’ hands” is a joke. The deal being voted on is only interim (Transition) and the final deal should be ready towards the run up to the 2022 General Election.

Article produced by Brian Mooney of Resistance

The complexities of plastic bags

Do you dislike the UK’s “throwaway” culture? Do you share the Daily Mail‘s concern about the damage with plastic waste is doing to our coastlines and oceans? If so, you will probably be pleased to know that since the introduction of the 5p charge on plastic bags in supermarkets in 2016, single plastic bag use has dropped dramatically – by as much as 90% according to some sources.

Now the 5p charge is being extended. Small outlets (defined as those with less than 250 employees) will lose their exemption and will have to start charging for plastic bags too, most likely before the end of the year.

While most of us must surely be delighted if there are fewer discarded plastic bags cluttering up our roadsides, the issue isn’t quite that straightforward.

Firstly, it exposes the complexities of political life for politicians like Michael Gove, the current Secretary of State for the Environment. Gove has traditionally been labelled “Centre Right“, which has historically meant a supporter of small government.  You would think, therefore, that although he was apparently “haunted” by the amount of plastic which is polluting our oceans, he would look to find a solution which is more free market and less statist than the introduction of what is, in effect, another tax.

This, however, is far from the only complexity which has been raised in this war on plastic. When the initial legislation bringing in the 5p charge was introduced, nowhere did it mention that it has its origins in an EU directive. Not once does the 2015 Bill mention the EU or the Directive, according to the EU Observer. Perhaps, claims the author, Gove “may want to portray the success of the 5p charge as a domestic affair”.   For sure, given that the original legislation pre-dated the Brexit vote, the omission of any mention of the EU cannot have been as a result of wishing to downplay the EU’s role for fear of boosting its popularity and thus undermining the case for Brexit. More likely, as the writer suggests, in these days when politicians are eager to emphasise their “green credentials”, it is more a case that Michael Gove or perhaps even Theresa May are wanting people to make assumptions that the 5p tax is their idea, given that the war on plastic is largely seen as a good thing.

In a sense, the EU Observer is making something of a mountain out of a molehill. Although the writer is upset by the reluctance of UK parliament and politicians to acknowledge the EU’s role in the war on plastic, preferring to claim the credit themselves, as one astute observer has put it, without the UK’s influence, much of the EU’s environmental legislation would never have got off the ground in the first place:-  “all the current EU countryside environmental schemes have their origins in UK policy goals and schemes.”

And finally, to anyone who now feels uncomfortable now they realise that a development which they considered beneficial had its origins in Brussels, it is worth remembering that even the most odious of political régimes occasionally do good things. For instance, Germany is rightly proud of its Autobahn network and while the oldest section of it dates from the late 1920s, its most significant and dramatic period of expansion, from a mere 108km to 3,736km took place between 1935 and 1940 because of one man’s far-sighted recognition of the value of a nationwide high speed road network. His name was Adolf Hitler.

Photo by oparrish

A letter from our Chairman – EU rules caused Grenfell fire

This letter was sent to the Derby Telegraph by our Chairman, Edward Spalton on 10th July 2017 in response to yet more misleading propaganda from the ardent europhile Mr C.N. Westerman

Sir,

Mr.C.N. Westerman attributes the tragic fire in the Grenfell tower to a peculiarly British and Conservative lack of regulation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following a fire in a tower block in Knowsley in 1989, the British Building Research Establishment was asked to devise a means of preventing a recurrence.

They decided that this should be a “whole system test”, covering all the materials on the outside of the building to see how they inter-acted when used together. Following another similar fire in Scotland, the House of Commons recommended in 2000 (during the Labour government) that this “whole system” test, British Standard BS 8414, should be adopted.

But it was overruled by the EU with its own inadequate test – a European standard EN 13501,which became mandatory in 2002. This was again under a Labour government but it did not matter what party was in power, as EU law always trumps British law. That is the basis of the whole institution. Parliament is powerless against it, as long as we remain in the EU.

The other factor, driving the use of inflammable insulation material, was the EU’s obsession with better insulation to to combat global warming. All that mattered was the “thermal efficiency” – and none was more efficient than the polyisocyanurate used in Celotex, the plastic insulation chosen in 2014 for Grenfell. If the Grenfell installation had been tested under BS 8414, it would not have been used.

Whilst we are in the EU, we cannot enforce that standard.

Similar fires have occurred in Germany and this is reported in the EUReferendum.com blog. The author is not just another Eurosceptic but Dr. Richard North, a highly qualified former Environmental Health Officer with a relevant diploma in fire precautions. He has published many detailed articles on this topic but Mr Westerman and others might find this particular one an enlightening beginning.

Yours faithfully

 

Edward Spalton

 

Photo by Ben Sutherland

The power of the pen…..

…..or I suppose we should say word processor today!

Correspondence with local papers is one very effective way in which independence campaigners can keep their cause before the public and pressure on the politicians to deliver their promises. Editors like a controversial letters page and, it is said, that this is often the most-read part of the paper.

One of our opponents, a Mr. C.N. Westerman from South Wales, is most industrious in using this method of publicising his views. If you Google, you can see he writes to papers all over the country. This one appeared in the Derby Telegraph  of February 14th under the heading “EU has the best solution for cleaning up our air”.

In every city on Earth, some citizens are being poisoned by pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide from cars and by particulates from diesel lorries.

Many British voters believe that such problems should be solved by “the market”.

Other voters believe that such problems are the province of the Government by means of any necessary punishments to corporations and personally to directors.

Some citizens reckon that , since the expense of dealing with the population’s bad health falls upon the taxpayers through the NHS, then the businesses which cause the pollution should contribute to the cost of the NHS.

But the citizens of the 27 other EU countries have a quite different view that vehicle pollution never was either a commercial matter or a national problem.

They possess quite opposing beliefs, that pollution is an international problem to be solved by national governments uniting into make grants for research in universities to find the best scientific answers so that citizens of all countries can breathe pure air.

The EU idea of social responsibility is is quite opposite to the Trump/UKIP populist thinking so common today.

EU citizens are living at a higher level of human thought than Brexit voters. Within the EU the role of all governments is to serve the needs of the world and its peoples.

Now this is a very well written letter but the arrogance is more breathtaking than the air pollution Mr. Westerman complains about! In other letters he has referred to those who do not share his views as “moral degenerates”.

So I thought it deserved a response and the Derby Telegraph printed this reply the next day .

The industrious Mr. C.N.Westerman churns out letters in praise of the EU at a great rate. He thinks that the inhabitants of mainland Europe are somehow higher beings than ourselves. He writes “EU citizens are living at a higher level of human thought than Brexit voters”- a sort of Herrenvolk, it seems.

*It is quite true that some Germans sometimes deride us as “Inselaffen” – Island Apes. They have a right to that opinion and I support freedom of speech – theirs as well as mine and Mr. Westerman’s. They have rather made monkeys out of us through the agency of the EU.

He then goes on to say that only the supermen and superwomen of the EU can control vehicle emissions. Well, it seems to have escaped his notice that our government passed a series of Enabling Acts to bypass our Parliament, to give the EU rule over us and we are living with the consequences. It was actually environmental legislation which encouraged the proliferation of diesel cars. Their fuel efficiency reduced the output of that harmless, beneficent gas carbon dioxide which is also a natural fertiliser. That was the fashionable demon pollutant at the time . They overlooked the diesel’s propensity to belch out nitrous oxide and particulates.

In the meantime, Germany is building a new series of very efficient coal-fired power stations. We could do with some too – to make our industry more competitive – but EU rules would not allow it!

We have been commemorating the centenary of the Great War of 1914-18 and should perhaps consider the war aims for which Germany fought. On 9 September 1914, the Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, wrote: “Russia must be thrust back as far as possible from Germany’s Eastern frontier and her domination over non-Russian vassal peoples broken…We must create a Central European Economic Association through common customs treaties to include France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Austria-Hungary and perhaps Italy, Sweden and Norway….

All members will be formally equal but in practice under German leadership and must stabilise Germany’s economic dominance over Central Europe”.

The EU fits this long-held purpose exactly,which is the reason for the EU’s present proxy war in the Ukraine. If Mr. Putin stops the insane eastward expansion of the EU project, the “Drang nach Osten”, he will have done us as big a favour as the Red Army did at Stalingrad.”

So, campaigners, please do not neglect your local papers!

*  They cut the second paragraph with its references to “Inselaffen” and monkeys. No doubt they were worried about being accused of “hate speech”.  The previous editor had lived some years in Germany and told me  that he had occasionally been called an “Inselaffe” (Island Ape). Although I sent a note to this effect, the paragraph was insufficiently PC.

 

That booklet!

We have received a number of e-mails from people very angry about our money being spent by the government producing the booklet which landed on our doormats last week.

Some people have very kindly responded by making a donation to us, for which we are most grateful. “I don’t want my taxes used on propaganda… so I have to do my bit to redress the balance” said one kind contributor.

But what of the booklet itself? It has been criticised  – and with good reason – both for its style and content. Rosalind Moffitt, an inclusive communications consultant at Inklecomms, said of the former, “I….am astounded by the long and complex sentences within the leaflet. It also uses many unnecessarily difficult words. The leaflet is written at a complex level for average-low literacy readers, so it will be difficult for many to read and understand” Good news for the Brexit campaign!”

Turning to the content. Lord Wemyss did not mince his words, calling it “senseless twaddle – insulting to the intelligence of the recipients.”

This is indeed a good summary. If the “twaddle” can be categorised, most of it comes under three headings:-

  1. So-called “benefits” which aren’t actually very beneficial.
  2. Benefits which we don’t actually need to be in the EU to enjoy
  3. Untrue and misleading statements.

In the first category comes the European Arrest Warrant, which is mentioned under “keeping us safer”. Since 2004 (when the EAW was first introduced), we are told “over 1,000 suspects have faced justice in  UK courts and over 7,000 have been extradited.” Fine. You try telling people like  Andrew Symeou or  Edmond Arapi how wonderful the EAW is. These men suffered gross miscarriages of justice, being exposed to judicial processes on the Continent which do not include the legal safeguards we are accustomed to in the UK. It is so easy to forget that Magna Carta may have crossed the oceans, but it never crossed the Channel. One consequence of this is that you can be tried in absentia, tried on hearsay evidence or kept in detention for ages without being charged. The EAW potentially exposes any one of us to all these horrors.

Also sold as a benefit, on page 12, we are told that “the EU is leading the world on tackling climate change”. Try telling those made redundant in the now defunct UK aluminium smelting industry what a good thing this is! Perhaps when we suffer blackouts because our government has signed up to unachievable emissions targets we will console ourselves with how virtuous the EU is being!

Turning to the second category, the phrase “Single Market” comes up no fewer than eight times. There are probably few regular visitors to our website who aren’t aware that we can retain access to the Single Market on leaving the EU by re-joining EFTA and availing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement.  The booklet boasts how the EU “guarantees many employment rights” without mentioning, of course, that most employment legislation originates with global organisations like the International Labour Organisation. These benefits would not disappear if we left the EU.

“EU reforms in the 1990s have resulted in a drop in fares of over 40% for lower cost flights”, proclaims the booklet.  Once again, one has to question whether this benefit would disappear if we left the EU. to help us answer this question, guess which airline won the “Best low-cost airline in Europe” award in 2015? It was called Norwegian and furthermore, this airline which seems to hoover up awards, flies to a number of European destinations but isn’t based in the EU.

What about the untrue and misleading statements? It’s hard to know where to begin. Going back to the Single Market. we are informed that “No other country has managed to secure signficant access to the single market without having to follow EU rules over which they have no real say /pay into the EU”. Shoddy work here. As we have pointed out, Norway is widely consulted  in the framing of EEA relevant legislation (which amounts to less than 25% of the total Acquis)  and the price it pays to access the singel market is peanuts compared with how much we pay per capita to the EU as a memebr state.

The first page proclaims that “the UK has secured a special status in a reformed EU.”  Oh really?  The legality of the agreement has been widely questioned, with Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the vice-president of the European Parliament, describing it as “nothing more than a deal that has been hammered out down the local bazaar”.

Part of the “deal” is that “we will not join the Euro” Didn’t we secure that opt-out over 20 years ago? What about the “tough new restrictions on access to our welfare for new EU migrants”? Well, suppose that, say a  Latvian decorator moves over here after 2016, falls off a ladder and breaks both legs after living here for three years dyring which time has only worked for 29 months. In theory, he shouldn’t get much out of our system under Dave’s new deal. In practise….?

Keeping our own border controls is another benefit which is part of our “special status” so we are told. Once again, if this means that we are not part of Schengen, this is not exactly a show-stopper. We secured an opt-out here many years ago.

The biggest criticism, however, is that nowhere in this booklet does the word “sovereignty” come up. The  EU’s unique selling point is that it requires member states progressively to hollow out their national institutions and surrender soverignty to supranational institutions. These other issues are peripheral. the creation of a federal superstate is the EU’s raison d’être. Failing to mention it is rather like a supplier of fruit trees illustrating its products with lovely pictures of apple blossom but failing to show a single picture of a nice ripe apple or to mention that the reason you buy an apple tree is to eat of its produce.

To be blunt, this reluctance even to mention what the EU is all about is just plain dishonest. If the referendum is won by the “remain” side without this issue being at the centre of the debate, it will have been a pyrrhic victory which will leave us stilll being the EU’s awkward partner, always dragging our feet and being outvoted more than any other member state.

Is this really what Mr Cameron  wants? it will be a most unsatisfactory legacy. Best for his sake and for our country if we deny him such an opportunity by securing a vote to leave.

 

 


 

A greener country outside the EU?

Green issues have so far not had a high profile in the EU in/out debate.  The official Green Party line is that the UK should stay in as the EU provides better environmental protection than the UK would, and it is only the EU big stick that makes us toe the line. Other environmental campaigners use a similar argument.  According to these people, we owe whatever environmental standards we have to a bunch of Brussels bureaucrats and left to ourselves we would not bother.  A curious argument which flies in the face of all the evidence.

England had its first clean air act in the 13th century, and this was followed by others, notably in the 19th century when the use of coal increased dramatically.  And in the 1950s and 1960s, other acts followed.  Since the 1970s, being a member of the EEC, the UK has adopted whatever standards the EU/EEC has directed. It has not been a case of the UK being forced to do something it would not otherwise do.  What has happened in the past two decades is that research has shown the potential health dangers of many particulates not previously considered dangerous, and the understanding of climate change drivers has forced a reassessment of the use of fossil fuels.  This has been while the UK has been a member of the EU so naturally it has been the EU’s responsibility for establishing environmental standards.  It would have been pointless and irrelevant for the UK to duplicate this process.  To say that the UK would not implement environmental policies in the absence of the EU is just, well, bonkers.

One never mentioned fact about EU climate change policy is that each member state is given a target reduction in CO2 emissions, and can be fined if it fails to reach that target.  Yet the source of most of these CO2 emissions is the country’s population which consumes power for heating, cooking, driving, traveling even on public transport, sitting in traffic jams, etc.  In fact, almost every human activity in a modern consumer society involves the consumption of power, most of which in the UK is generated by fossil fuels (and is likely to remain so for at least another 40 years until better technologies are available).  But another strand of EU policy is the free movement of people, and the UK has around 3 million immigrants from other EU countries.  These all undertake the usual consumer activities which produce CO2 emissions which makes it harder and harder for the UK to meet its targets which were based on lower population levels.  And the Government’s own projections anticipate another 3 million EU immigrants over the next decade.

It’s a topsy-turvy world when the UK is condemned to ever harder-to-meet emission level targets whilst not being allowed by the same central authority to take prudent steps to limit the number of agents that produce them.  The counterpart is that it is easier for the EU countries with net emigration to meet their environmental targets!

Then there is water quality in the environment – our rivers and seas.  According to those hypnotised by EU propaganda, any standards we have are due entirely to the Brussels bureaucrats.  Without Brussels, our rivers would be dead and our bathing waters a sewer.  Yet there was major UK legislation on these issues long before Brussels decided it was their province to establish standards – what about the Water Act of 1973, the Control of Pollution Act 1974, and the establishment of river authorities and river boards before this?    The transformation of the Thames into a thriving wildlife habitat owes nothing to the EU.  All that Brussels has done is to assume responsibility for what the standard should be, while avoiding any responsibility for actually finding the money to fund them.  And of course, its free movement of people policy ensures that there are more sources of pollution in the UK every year.

I have heard people argue on the television and radio that without the EU there would never have been any schemes to protect the countryside, schemes such the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, the Farm Woodland Scheme, the Hedgerow Incentive Scheme, nor any of the regional schemes which subsidise activities in remote rural areas.  The irony is that these schemes only exist because the UK argued for them.  The UK has historically had much greater concern for the preservation of the countryside than EEC countries whose main preoccupation was agricultural production for production’s sake – the more one produced, the more subsidy one got.   All the current EU countryside environmental schemes have their origins in UK policy goals and schemes.  And even the EU regional schemes are merely developments of UK schemes of the 60s and 70s.  This is not to argue any great virtue on the part of the UK – it was indeed a mix of policy preferences and budget practicalities.  Under the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK being a food importer paid a large amount into the EEC/EU budget but got very little in return.  Getting the EEC to adopt environmental and regional programmes was one way of getting some of this money back.  Essentially, this budgetary imbalance still exists, because of the importance of the agricultural budget.

But all this is just a part of the fundamental irreconcilability of the preservation of the environment with EU policy on free movement of people.  If a country is large, spatially, in relation to its population, then uncontrolled immigration might have minimal impact for some time (though not for ever).  For a spatially small country like the UK with an existing relatively high population density, a high rate of immigration has a disastrous impact.  This is especially so when most immigrants go to all already densely populated regions.  There might be space in the Scottish Highlands or the Welsh hills but there is no work nor infrastructure there to attract the migrants.  The main environmental impact of this immigration is firstly demand for housing, which impacts on an already tight housing market.  Three million migrants need housing, even more houses have to be built, towns and villages expand, new towns are developed, and we have the suburbanisation of the countryside.  And it does not end there.  Every barn in the countryside becomes a developer’s dream because planning permission rules are relaxed to meet the exigencies of the housing market.

The necessary huge increase in house building is one impact.  Another is the increase in traffic and congestion, leading to calls for more roads, wider roads, more motorways etc.  These developments all require space, something even politicians cannot conjure out of a hat.  So we lose more countryside.

I have a house and a garden.  It is sufficient to accommodate my family and any visitors I care to invite.  Imagine the chaos and decline in the quality of life if I had to take in anyone who cares to turn up on my doorstep!  But that is what is happening.  Living abroad I see the changes from mass immigration more starkly when I visit periodically than people living in the UK who have had the changes creep up insidiously.  It is much more serious than people realise.

I haven’t even mentioned the impact of mass immigration on health, education and other public services ….

This point of view has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia.  I don’t believe that British is best, or the average Briton is necessarily superior to a foreigner.  Not at all.  But I do believe that the British have a right to preserve their culture and quality of life, and the countryside is a key part of that.  And villages and towns for that matter.  Their character is being destroyed by development.

The EU is not the only source of immigrants, and it is true that successive UK governments have done little over the years to restrict immigration from other regions of the world.  There has been no overall population policy.  Governments have regarded a larger population as a goal in itself as it increases the size of the tax base.  No one in government is concerned about the preservation of the countryside, protecting it from urban and suburban creep.  Those of us who do care are just the hoi-polloi.  The Establishment, and the large corporations that buy power from it through political donations and the bribery of individuals, never face the same problems as the rest of us.  With their money and connections they can buy themselves the privacy, the large estates, the services they want (made cheaper by immigration), the holidays abroad etc.  They don’t even see the degraded countryside as they speed along the motorways on their way to their secluded, private country houses or their overseas villas via the airport.   Their lives are extremely satisfactory.

This referendum is not just about trying to preserve our environment from crushing population levels, it is also about trying to wrest back control from the rich and the powerful.  It is the people against the privileged.

This article, by Jos Haynes, first appeared on http://greenleavers.co.uk/ and is used with full permission of the author.