Brexit and UK outbound

It is still early days, the impact of the decline in the purchasing value fo the £ has not yet worked through, the larger companies have hedged into next year buying € & $ ahead. But unless the £ recovers, which seems very unlikely, holidays will cost more next year. For smaller companies who have not hedged a 10% decline in the value of sterling hits their margins very hard.

€

$

First Choice, the home of all-inclusive holidays has released new research which has found almost 60% of us feel in desperate need of a break and some political respite after the nation voted to leave the EU at the end of June.

Mark Hall, Director of Product at First Choice said: “Despite the political upheaval, holidaymakers are not being put off booking their holidays.  More than ever before they want to flee the UK, spend time with their families and switch off.  All inclusive holidays are increasing in popularity as customers want peace of mind and control over their holiday budget, so they don’t have to worry about what they’re spending while away.” more

Easyjet has been widely reported to be pursuing registering an air operator’s certificate in a European country.

“easyJet is lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe. This would mean that easyJet and all European airlines can continue to operate as they do today.
As part of easyJet’s contingency planning before the referendum we had informal discussions with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC (air operator certificate) in an European country to enable easyJet to fly across Europe as we do today.
easyJet has now started a formal process to acquire an AOC.
Until the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations are clearer easyJet does not need to make any other structural or operational changes.
We have no plans to move from Luton – our home for 20 years.” More in the FT

Today EasyJet shares fell 5%+ as the markets opened after the airline reported an 8.3% drop in revenue per seat for the three months ending June 30, although some of the damage was reduced by a 3.8%  improvement in cost per seat. They also reported that

“Commercial and operational performance during the quarter was impacted by the Brussels attack and Egyptair tragedy, significant disruption due to air traffic control strikes and congestion, runway closures at Gatwick airport and severe weather causing 1,221 cancellations.” More

Low Cost Holidays
The Low Cost Travel Group ceased trading on 15th July, based in Mallorca and registered with the  Balearic Islands authorities it did not have an ATOL and it was not a member of ABTA. Approximately 27,000 customers were reported to be in resort and a further 110,000 who had booked with Lowcost but have yet to travel.

Low Cost Holidays moved its base to Mallorca and lodged £1.09m with authorities in the Ballearics – enough to pay out just a few pounds (£7.78)  to each customer. More

 

 

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Maybe economic efficiency is not all it’s cracked up to be

Neil Irwin writing in today’s New York Times has suggested that the chasm opening up on both sides of the Atlantic is between the economic elite who favour a “dynamic globalized economy” – bankers, trade negotiators, international business people and mainstream political leaders.

“Efficiency sounds great in theory. What kind of monster doesn’t want to optimize possibilities, minimize waste and make the most of finite resources? But the economic and policy elite may like efficiency a lot more than normal humans do.”

” Perhaps the pursuit of ever higher gross domestic product misses a fundamental understanding of what makes most people tick.”

There has been a rejection of expert opinion in the USA and the UK and Irwin asks “what if those gaps between the economic elite and the general public are created not by differences in expertise but in priorities?”

“If there is one crucial lesson from the success of Mr. Trump and Brexit, it is that dynamism and efficiency sound a lot better to people who are confident they’ll always end up being winners.”   Read much more here

Seems obvious to me ……

The winners and losers of Brexit…

“As Naomi Klein argued in The Shock Doctrine, disaster capitalism operates by delivering massive shocks to the system and then using the ensuing period of anarchy, fear and confusion to reassemble the pieces of what it has broken into a new configuration. This is what was done in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and it is ultimately what is at stake in Brexit. The right wing of the Tory party has succeeded in throwing the UK’s affairs into complete confusion. The losses may be enormous: the preservation of the United Kingdom in its present form is far from certain. The winnings may, at first sight, seem modest: £350m a week will not be available to save the NHS; the free movement of labour will have to be conceded; and Britain will lose its place at the EU negotiating table. But the potential winnings for ruthless politicians are nevertheless enormous: the prize is the opportunity to rework an almost infinite range of detailed arrangements both inside and outside the UK, to redraw at breakneck speed the legal framework that will govern all aspects of our lives.”

Disaster capitalism: the shocking doctrine Tories can’t wait to unleash
Howard Hotson more in The Guardian 

 

Posted in EU, Politics, UK | Comments Off on Maybe economic efficiency is not all it’s cracked up to be

Muddling through Brexit – still no one knows what will happen

What happened?

10 days on it is still hard to make sense of what has happened. It is clear that those who voted for Brexit wanted to send a message to the Westminster and Whitehall establishment, to some extent the Brexit vote had some of the characteristics of a by-election rebellion. At least some of those who voted for Brexit were just wanting to protest and they did not expect or want to win – and they are saying so to camera.

Ipsos Mori interviewed 1,077 people poll for BBC Newsnight on 29th and 30th June.

  • 5% of Leave voters would now reverse their vote
  • 2% of Remain voters would change their vote.
  • More than a third of people believe Britain may end up remaining in the European Union even after the vote for Brexit. 22% said they did not know if the UK would follow through with its Brexit vote, while 16% are convinced the country will defy the result.
  • 48% want a general election before negotiations begin, so voters can give their verdict on each party’s plans for life.
  • 59% of respondents were not confident the Government will get the best deal for Britain – rising to 76% of Remain voters.
  • 38% said that losing access to the single market would be a price worth paying for new curbs on immigration
  • 42% including 18% of Leave voters, said Britain should continue to allow EU citizens to live and work in Britain in return for access to the single market.

As Brenda O’Neill has pointed out in The Spectator “Brexit voters are not thick, not racist: just poor. By forcing Britain to quit the EU they have given a bloody nose to an elite that views them with contempt”

Where are we now?

The Brexit side made a great many promises some of which have already been denied by Brexit leaders.

As the Labour Party goes through it paroxysm over the its leadership and purpose it is not unreasonable to ask whether the referendum was really about the leadership of the Conservative Party. If it was then there has been a great deal of collateral damage.

Two of the leading Brexit campaigners are going to be there on the side lines demanding more, much more – exercising power but without responsibility.  It is not clear that Farage, Johnson or Gove expected to win – they certainly had no plan for what to do when they did win. |It is not even clear that they expected to wine

As Fathom Consulting pointed out on 24th June the UK electorate has bought “a pig in a poke”

buy_a_pig_in_a_poke

Boris Johnson has written in the Telegraph today about the “hysteria, a contagious mourning of the kind that I remember in 1997 after the death of the Princess of Wales” amongst part of the public. Johnson is right tThe tear widens as David Cameron resigns.

Boris Johnson was at home with a small team, watching the prime minister resign live on TV.

Victory, one insider said, was the moment it all went wrong.

Another told me Boris felt he was staring down both barrels of a gun. He had rather a nice life – did he really want to be PM?hat there is lack of clarity about what happens next, and that fuels fear. He has quit the field, withdrawn to criticise from the side-lines, abrogated responsibility. The Brexit campaign was fought by divergent groups who could agree only that they wanted to leave the EU and get their country back. They could not agree on a programme for action after the vote.

It is not clear that either Johnson or Gove expected to win – they were silenced for a few hours by the unexpected victory.. BBC Journalist Mark Mardell gives an insider’s account of what happened

04:45 BST

A mobile phone rings in the Gove household.

His wife, Sarah Vine – as she explained in her Daily Mail column – hears her husband’s phone go off.

Then this exchange.

“Michael, guess what? We’ve won!”

“Gosh.”

She wrote in her column: “Given Michael’s high-profile role in the Leave campaign, that means he – we – are now charged with implementing the instructions of 17 million people.

“And that is an awesome responsibility.”

As the mobile phones go mad: “‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off,’ I said, in my best (ie not very good) Michael Caine Italian Job accent.

“In other words, you’ve really torn it now.”

The tear widens as David Cameron resigns.

Boris Johnson was at home with a small team, watching the prime minister resign live on TV.

Victory, one insider said, was the moment it all went wrong.

Another told me Boris felt he was staring down both barrels of a gun. He had rather a nice life – did he really want to be PM?

 

On 26 June Johnson wrote in The Telegraph

“I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe – and always will be” and

“It is said that those who voted Leave were mainly driven by anxieties about immigration. I do not believe that is so. After meeting thousands of people in the course of the campaign, I can tell you that the number one issue was control – a sense that British democracy was being undermined by the EU system, and that we should restore to the people that vital power: to kick out their rulers at elections, and to choose new ones.”

This is certainly not what many of those who led the Brexit campaign, and who voted for it, thought was the Brexit. objective.

On 4 July Johnson opines that

“It was wrong of the Government to offer the public a binary choice on the EU without being willing – in the event that people voted Leave – to explain how this can be made to work in the interests of the UK and Europe.”

It was surely the responsibility of those wanting a Brexit to make clear what they thought the alternative to Remain was – they failed to achieve that.

Johnson has made clear his aspiration:

  1. There is no risk whatever to the status of the EU nationals now resident and welcome in the UK, and indeed immigration will continue – but in a way that is controlled, thereby neutralising the extremists.
  2. It is overwhelmingly in the economic interests of the other EU countries to do a free-trade deal, with zero tariffs and quotas, while we extricate ourselves from the EU law-making system.
  3. We can do free-trade deals with economies round the world, many of which are already applying.
  4. We can supply leadership in Europe on security and other matters, but at an intergovernmental level.
  5. The future is very bright indeed. That’s what Geldof should be chanting.

But it is still very vague – no commitment on immigration numbers, nor agricultural support, nor the NHS …….

So what next?

Harold Macmillan when asked what a prime minister most feared responded: ‘Events, dear boy, events’. Now that the campaign is over events will unfold, in the real world of negotiating with 27 countries – each of which has a sovereign mandate over the terms of our disengagement – the idea that we might get full access to the single market without paying into the EU budget and accepting free movement of labour seems highly unlikely. Economic and political realities will crowd in.

So where does that leave us.

With Theresa May as the likely next leader of the Conservative Party, triggering Article 50 and beginning to negotiate terms – no manifesto – the Leavers are divided about what Britain voted for beyond the simple idea of Brexit.

The Labour Party is distracted in an existential crisis.

Tim Farron the Liberal Democrat leader argues that there needs to be a democratic  mandate for the form of Brexit which is negotiated, whether a referendum or a general election..  The Liberal Democrats argue that one person a minute’ joining Liberal Democrats to fight Brexit .

The legalities …. 

Professor Dougan explains to the  that all markets have regulations which are enforced by judicial systems – if you want to trade in a market you have to accept the rules. Treasury Committee

Professor Michael Dougan, of Liverpool University, assesses UK’s position following vote to leave the EU and concludes that a democratic mandate is required to implement the results, Parliament will need to pass a great deal of legislation.

However, once Article 50 is activated the “UK is cut out of EU decision-making at the highest level and there will be no way back unless by unanimous consent from all other member states.”

“Once the UK tells the EU that it is withdrawing under Article 50, “the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it,” the rule says.

However, the UK will carry on taking part in other EU business as normal, but it won’t participate in internal EU discussions or decisions about its own withdrawal.”  BBC

Mishcon de Reya, lawyers acting for a group of business people and academics, argue that it would be unlawful for a prime minister to trigger Article 50 without a full debate and vote in Parliament.

“Kasra Nouroozi, a Mishcon de Reya partner, said: “We must ensure that the government follows the correct process to have legal certainty and protect the UK Constitution and the sovereignty of Parliament in these unprecedented circumstances.

“The result of the referendum is not in doubt, but we need a process that follows UK law to enact it.

“The outcome of the referendum itself is not legally binding and for the current or future prime minister to invoke Article 50 without the approval of Parliament is unlawful.

“We must make sure this is done properly for the benefit of all UK citizens. Article 50 simply cannot be invoked without a full debate and vote in Parliament.”

“UK: lost, divided and alone: The Brexit vote was a insurrectionary protest against neoliberalism, globalism and cultural contempt. It will break up the UK, and split England forever”???
Read Paul Mason in Le Monde

Whilst it seems very unlikely that MPs would deny the will of the people expressed in the referendum they might attach a process requiring that the “deal” be put to the people before being implemented.

The future is unclear – but at some point there will likely be a democratic mandate by referendum or general election. We could be in for a long period of uncertainty.

Posted in EU | Comments Off on Muddling through Brexit – still no one knows what will happen

It is going to be a messy divorce – if it happens….

When people divorce they want a fresh start, sometimes they already have a new partner in mind. Less often they just want to be clear of a relationship which although once significant  enough to them to generate a marriage, no longer is.

Many headed Hydra

In the Brexit divorce the party suing for divorce is a many headed hydra – during the campaign many promises were made,  some of which have already been disowned by Brextiers. The Brexiters never has and agreement about what they wanted post Brexit.

The Brexiters are already divided and planning to exclude the man who started it all. Nigel Farage’s supporters are not going to accept that and neither is Farage – he will be there constantly criticising the Brexit deal – it is plain foolish to think he can be sidelined. More

In may ways the referendum was like a by-election – there was a strong anti-Westminster vote. Some clearly voted Out and were surprised and dismayed when they won.

Over the next weeks the consequences of the Out vote will become clear, one of the Outers will emerge, from the coup in the Tory party, as leader and the  struggle to develop a negotiating position, to find a consensus, will begin.

Uniting the Hydra will be very difficult. With no manifesto for the Out side in the referendum there is no programme against which they can be held to account. However, everyone who voted Out had a clear idea of what they expected to get and they expect to get it. They were promised their dream and they expect to be given it.  I blogged yesterday about the back tracking already taking place.

Then comes the problem of actually divorcing – of completing the legalities. It is not clear that the Conservatives, under a new Brexit leader, will have the necessary parliamentary majority to pass the large number of documents necessary to accomplish a Brexit. It is not as simple as leaving there is a mass of legalisation to be repealed and new policies and laws agreed.

Then will come a general election, as the new PM tries to secure a working majority. There will have to be a manifesto, the proposals for Brexit will have to be laid out in some detail and by then it will be harder to criticise the Remain side’s concerns as merely scare mongering, there will be evidence in peoples’ everyday lives of the consequences of Brexit.

So the Brexit may not happen. It is not over

It is now becoming clear that divorce proceedings are delayed while a government not yet formed decides what it wants. If Boris Johnson becomes PM it looks as though what Britain wants will be substantially different from what I surmise the Leave voters thought they were voting for.

“It is said that those who voted Leave were mainly driven by anxieties about immigration. I do not believe that is so. After meeting thousands of people in the course of the campaign, I can tell you that the number one issue was control – a sense that British democracy was being undermined by the EU system, and that we should restore to the people that vital power: to kick out their rulers at elections, and to choose new ones. “

“I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. 

British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. Britain is and always will be a great European power, offering top-table opinions and giving leadership on everything from foreign policy to defence to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing – all the things we need to do together to make our world safer. “

The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal. This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK. 

Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden. 

“There is every cause for optimism; a Britain rebooted, reset, renewed and able to engage with the whole world. This was a seismic campaign whose lessons must be learnt by politicians at home and abroad. We heard the voices of millions of the forgotten people, who have seen no real increase in their incomes, while FTSE-100 chiefs now earn 150 times the average pay of their employees. We must pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron’s fine legacy, such as his campaigns on the Living Wage and Life Chances. There is no doubt that many were speaking up for themselves. “

Read more in the Telegraph

Ironic that we appear to have inadvertently kicked out our PM in a referendum rather than an election, that Boris appears to be writing of ever closer union and of being in the single market without accepting the regulations of the single market and the free movement of labour so fundamental to it.

There is at least one Conservative MP who does not think Boris wanted to win the referendum and that he used it to oust Cameron. She may be right.

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10153845144376939/

Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times does  not believe that Brexit will happen either.

And the Brexit campaigners didn’t have a post-Brexit plan

ShitCreek

We are all migrants – House of Commons speech

Inter-generational conflict

Regional madness

Project Farce is Boris delusional?

Kelvin Mackenzie of The Sun admits ‘buyer’s remorse’ after voting for Brexit

The Sun has also got around to telling its readers what Brexit will mean, and they are not happy read the story

‘Go back home’ – Bitter backlash post EU referendum more

Sean O’Grady I voted Leave – but looking at the reasons, it’s undeniable that we’ll stay in the European Union after all read

Posted in EU | Comments Off on It is going to be a messy divorce – if it happens….

Britain sues for divorce – but has no idea what it wants.

Beware of what you wish for.

I am being asked by friends and colleagues about what happens next – nobody knows. 37% of the UK electorate has decided that it wants a divorce. When and on what terms is unclear – but it will not be amicable and Britain is already clearly an outsider.

Neither is it clear what future the Brexiters want.

Of course Farage had said that if the result was close there should be a second referendum, he is not saying that now.
“In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.” 16 May 2016

The 17,410,742 people who voted for Britain to leave need to remember the promises that encouraged them to vote Out. They will be broken. We need to hold those politicians to account if they fail to deliver on their promises.

The Leave side has many different visions. No one knows what divorce settlement they want let alone what the ‘spouse’ (all 27 of them) wants.

Already there are Brexiters who are arguing against what people thought they were voting for

TheBus

Already Farage is distancing himself from the Leave campaign’s commitment to spend the money we no longer will send to the EU on the NHS.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan back tracking on immigration 

Daniel Hannan (Pic:PA)

Daniel Hannan (Pic:PA)

“People are grown up and they understand this isn’t something that can happen tomorrow.

“No one has ever suggested there is going to be no immigration.

“There will be EU nationals watching this programme now and I want to underline – no one has suggested any change in their status.

“In terms of migration from the EU the one thing we can do as a result is we will no longer be citizens of the European Union.

“If people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU they are going to be disappointed

“Of course there is still going to be immigration. There are still going to be people coming here to work and you will look in vain for anything the Leave campaign said at any point that suggested there would be any kind of border closure or pulling up of the drawbridge.

“All we’re asking for is some control over roughly who comes in.”

more here

+++++++++++

One of the Brexiters is not keen to start divorce proceedings

Brexit campaigner Dr Liam Fox said: “A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again and that (invoking article 50) is one of them.

“I think that it doesn’t make any sense to trigger article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the Cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we’re going to be seeking and in what timescale.

“And then you have to also consider what is happening with the French elections and the German elections next year and the implications that that might have for them.

“So a period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are.”

The electorate for the referendum was 46,500,001

Remain 16,141,241 (34% of those who could have voted)

Leave 17,410,742 (37% of those who could have voted)

Remain 16,141,241 (48.1% of those voting)

Leave 17,410,742 (51.9% of those voting)

 

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The morning after …

13494766_10153701992497217_299328861097517194_n

I am disappointed but not surprised by the outcome of the referendum and by Cameron’s decision to resign. Those Conservatives who express surprise that he has gone and who signed the letter asking him to stay on should note that you do not always get what you wish for.

RefOutcome

There are some grounds for thinking that what we have participated in as a referendum on membership of the EU was actually a campaign to determine the leadership of the Tory party.

Primary

If you want to know who voted Out – the best data available is here

The 17,410,742 people who voted for Britain to leave need to remember the promises that encouraged them to vote Out. They will be broken. We need to hold those politicians to account if they fail to deliver on their promises.

TheBus

Already Farage is distancing himself from the Leave campaign’s commitment to spend the money we no longer will send to the EU on the NHS.

The negative consequences predicted by those experts denigrated by the Outers have occurred. The £ fell as low as $1.3236; against the € the £ dropped 7% to €1.2085;  the FTSE 100 lost 500 points before regaining some ground. Shares in Barclays and RBS fell ~30%. Shares in Bovis Homes down 50% more

FTSE

£'Euro £'USD

 

 

Wise words from Alex Smith

@alexsmith1982

 

The experts so denigrated by the Outers now have to manage the consequences.

Mark Carney Bank of England

If you want to understand the legal background then read this

https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2016/06/22/transcript-professor-michael-dougan-eu-referendum/ 

If you want to read about why referendums can have perverse consequences. Read the piece in the New York Times.

Posted in Culture, EU | Comments Off on The morning after …

I want my country back…..

On the bus in Manchester this week: two NHS nurses in their late fifties, lamenting the state of the NHS, the queues and waiting lists, the missed appointments, the cost of interpreters, the lack of funding, the state of Britain and what it all means for their grandchildren. They are both going to vote leave because they are sick of Westminster politicians – as one said to the other “It can’t be worse if we leave….”

For once in their lives, every vote counts: for too long, mainstream parties have courted the floating voters and ignored the alienated and the dispossessed. For once in their lives, they have a chance to strike back against the Westminster élite … and who can blame them for taking the opportunity? Their voices have not been heard, except through UKIP. Blair’s failure to deliver Proportional Representation was an historic mistake: two Manchester nurses unrepresented, and millions more like them.

Blair could have improved democracy, built social housing, invested in state schools, in care for the elderly and in doctors and nurses. The Labour Party ignored the needs of their core vote – alienated them and lost them. Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that for “working-age adults, inequality has continued to rise (albeit gently) across much of the working-age spectrum.”[1]

With a strong political consensus in Westminster, all the established parties support remaining in Europe: it is not surprising that alienated voters turned to UKIP and the Leave Campaign. They want their voices to be heard; they want some of the safety nets and certainties of the past; they want decent public services, they want their children to be able to find affordable housing. In short: they want their country back.

The repeated failure of mainstream parties to deliver – despite the UK’s oil-fuelled boom, and the imposition of austerity in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis – has created a very large group of disaffected voters. Immigration and the EU, so often the convenient scapegoat for British politicians when they failed to deliver on their extravagant election promises, have been successfully used to create the campaign for Brexit.

I want my country back – but it is not credibly possible to blame the European Union: for the UK governments’ failure to build houses, for the Academies, for privatisation, for the excesses of banks and  bailouts, for the underfunding of the NHS, for the failure to provide adequate care for the elderly, for the Iraq war, for the Syrian refugees. None of this can be laid at the door of the EU. The fault lies in Westminster and Whitehall.

The Brexit campaigners are not a government in waiting – they do not have a credible alternative to membership of the EU. They accuse the Government and the Remain campaigners of scare-mongering because they point to the dangers of leaving. But the Brexit campaigners have not told us what their plan is. Indeed it is difficult to believe that such a diverse group could agree on an alternative strategy.

Boris has said that VoteLeave is not an “alternative government”, although his Vote Leave colleague, employment minister Priti Patel, asserts that they are “campaigning to take back control of our country and our government and unleash that control back to the British public.” [2]

It would take much greater constitutional change than merely leaving the EU to achieve that and to give back control to the public. That is NOT on offer.  Although claiming not to be an alternative government, VoteLeave did on 15th June commit to end free movement of labour, curb the power of EU courts and conclude a UK-EU free trade deal by May 2020.  Even if they could deliver that, it is, according to them, at least four years away. more

The VoteLeave group is not a government in waiting. They agree only that they want to leave Europe and that Britain will prosper if we leave. If there is a vote for Brexit, the leave coalition will fragment. They are unable to tell us which form of trade deal they envisage negotiating and in reality it is hard to see how the UK could have the benefits of free trade into the single market without accepting the principle of free movement of labour. The Brexiters make much of how much the EU needs access to our market. Maybe some countries do, but we’ll be negotiating with all 27 – and they do not all benefit from trade with us. Divorce settlements are generally bloody affairs.

Essentially the British electorate is being invited to jump off a cliff on little more than a wing and prayer.

The Brexit campaign is technically populist.[3] Leading politicians, some of them in the Cabinet, are seeking to secure the support of ordinary people by promising to give them what they want and by attacking the establishment – of which, of course, they are a part.

There has been a great deal of mudslinging in this political circus – a great deal more heat than light. However, on major issues of principle, there have been some significant shifts of position. For example, Boris Johnson quoted at length in the Telegraph on 25 October 2013 [4]

I’m probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration.”

“I believe that when talented people have something to offer a society and a community they should be given the benefit of the doubt,” Mr Johnson added.

Some backbenchers have voiced the opinion that Mr Johnson is the only Conservative capable of combating the threat to the Tories from the UK Independence Party.

However, the [former] Mayor’s views on migration could distance him from backbenchers if he was to ever attempt to become the Conservative leader.

Earlier this year, Mr Johnson called for a one-off amnesty for illegal immigrants.

He challenged the Coalition’s opposition to an amnesty and said that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay after 12 years in Britain.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday: “I’m not going to resile from or going to dismiss the notion that you’ve got to be tough on illegal immigration.

“Frankly it was, if I may so, the active decision of the Labour government to turn a complete blind eye that undermined immigration in the eyes of many people in this country.

“And you should think about that because it did serious social damage.”

He added: “I go back in a pedantic way to this distinction between legal and illegal immigration. It is vital that we do make that distinction. I’m probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration.”

People are entitled to change their view – but they need to, and should be able to, explain why. The big risk is that if the public votes for Brexit, and IF a large and immediate reduction in immigration does not occur then the disillusioned, alienated and marginalised will move further to the right.

I am of the same view about the EU as Churchill was of democracy – I agree with him about democracy too – unless there is an assuredly better prospect on offer then take Hillaire Belloc’s advice:

“…always keep a hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.”

There is much to criticise in the EU – the gravy train and a lack of democratic accountability – as there is in Westminster. We fail to hold our MEPs and MPs to account – too much power rests with the national governments in the Council of Ministers – but it is our Government Ministers who exercise the national veto on our behalf in the Council of Ministers.

I also think that the EU is too pro-Big Business – so are many of out Westminster politicians – but consider this from Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard in February:

“I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union.
‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.” [5]

Many have argued that there is a lack of facts in this campaign, that they only tell us what they want us to know. There is a lack of facts in all campaigns but, ironically, there have been more in this one than in most. The facts are readily available on the BBC website[6] – lots of them on the economic impacts, jobs, the cost of EU membership[7] (£276m with the rebate and £161m nett, less than 0.5% of GDP), immigration (more arrive from outside the EU than within) and sovereignty – we are out of the single currency, the Schengen Agreement and we have a veto on foreign and defence policy.  Competition policy and enlargement of the single market to the east were all strategies championed by Britain. A single market requires a level playing field of regulation – unfortunately, the Brexit campaigners make no distinction between regulations and laws. We hear much about the red tape that will be removed if we leave the EU, but those businesses which want to sell in Europe will need to comply and Britain will no longer be part of determining those regulations. There will be lots of scope for the creation of non-tariff barriers against UK business interests.

The EU offers a safety net of workers’ rights, health and safety legislation, clean beaches, and air and water directives. The anti-EU campaigners have been less than specific about which red tape they would remove and very free to offer increased funds for farm subsidies and the NHS – popular, populist promises but with plenty of wiggle room. Becoming internationally competitive by cutting labour costs may be the biggest advantage of leaving the EU for employers but it will bad news for many of those who may be misled into voting for Brexit on Thursday. Further austerity will hit their living standards and public services.

The dismissal of experts is a classic populist strategy: facts and informed opinion do matter. One of the legacies of this campaign is likely to be a rejection of informed opinion in favour of stirring up and spreading prejudice. The BBC’s impartiality has benefited the Brexiters who have had airtime to repeat their claims – the £350m a week claim has stuck because it has so often been repeated, even though it is not true. When the Remain campaign calls it for what it is they, are accused of mudslinging; when they point out the dangers of a Brexit they are accused of spreading fear.

There are a few obscure facts of which have emerged during the campaign

  • The EU is encouraging new “sharing economy” firms such as Uber. Katainen, the commission’s vice-president, said on June 2nd “We want to keep up, and keep Europe as open as the US for new innovative business models, at the same time as addressing the negative effects.”
  • 800,000 people in Britain are employed in the car industry
  • In March 2015 it was a European Court of Justice ruling that annulled an ECB document which would have resulted in Euro clearing moving from London to within the Eurozone. The ECJ does not always rule against our best interests.

The facts are complicated – if you want to know how often Britain has lost out in votes in the EU – been on the losing side – take a look at the Full Fact website – the government has been on the losing side 2% of the time since 1999; government ministers were on the winning side 95% of the time. The balance has shifted in recent years. The detail matters.[8]

Britain cannot leave Europe: we can leave the EU, but we cannot leave Europe. If our leaving further weakens Europe – and we are seeing the rise of right-wing and populist parties across the continent – then we will find ourselves with increasingly unstable neighbours; as so often in the past, we shall find ourselves sucked into European conflicts. Trump has said that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of the international security alliance, because it is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune.”[9] The destruction of the EU is not in our interest.

As The Economist has pointed out

“If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open, and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.   .. [and to maintain access to the single market] .. Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of labour – the very things that Leave says it must avoid.” [10]

I want my country back too. It will not be achieved by leaving the EU – quite the contrary –  if the populists win the referendum we’ll be moving in the other direction.

I should have turned to those two nurses and pointed out that things can get worse – on Thursday things could get worse, be careful what you wish for.

There is a rising star in the Conservative Party – she is from north of the border. She had the last word for the remain campaign in last night’s debate, listen to what Ruth Davidson had to say

+++++++++++++

Caroline Ashley is a friend who has written eloquently about why she is voting remain, read what she has to say.

There are some useful links in her piece if you want to read more

[1] http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/R107.pdf p.36

[2] June 1st

[3] http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/06/21/analysts-referendum-boost-populism/

[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10404421/Boris-I-am-the-only-British-politician-who-will-admit-to-being-pro-immigration.html

[5] http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/this-terrifying-rupert-murdoch-quote-is-possibly-the-best-reason-to-stay-in-the-eu-yet–WyMaFTE890x

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36027205

[7] The Telegraph printed the facts in February – it is less than the budget for the Home Office http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12176663/EU-Facts-how-much-does-Britain-pay-to-the-EU-budget.html and also https://fullfact.org/europe/our-eu-membership-fee-55-million/

[8] https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-facts-behind-claims-uk-influence/

[9] http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/whats-trumps-position-on-nato/

[10] The Economic June 18th 2016 p. 13

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Cruising has major negative social and environmental impacts

The visit by Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas to Southampton has raised again the issue of the pollution caused by cruise lines.

Harmony of the Seas

Noxious emissions and air pollution near airports is a major problem but pollution around marine ports is also an issue. In London and Southampton air pollution caused by marine transport is a major issue and there is evidence that it damages residents’ health.  Harmony of the Seas has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day.

The Guardian has a dramatic graphic revealing the scale of the emissions and quoting Daniel Rieger of the German environment group Nabu.

“Cruise companies create a picture of being a bright, clean and environmentally friendly tourism sector. But the opposite is true. One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.”   More

Paul Mills, a journalist, has written about being an undercover waiter on a cruise ship.

“It was hard to feel good about leaving the boat. With debts to pay off, a shortage of jobs at home and families to feed,quitting just wasn’t a realistic option for many of my colleagues. What’s more, it had long become apparent that many of them were getting a far rougher deal than I was.I met an Indian dishwasher, earning approximately $2 an hour,on an eight-month contract without a single day off, who had to borrow money to pay a $3500 agency fee to join the ship. He reckoned he would probably have worked about a year without managing to save anything. Given he hadn’t seen his family for a year and a half and had one of the most physically demanding jobs on board, his story is the one that made me most immediately angry and upset.” More

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For seven consecutive months the global average temperature has been at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month.

Last month was the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records. Nasa data shows that the global temperature of land and sea was 1.11C warmer in April than the average temperature for April during the period 1951-1980. more

The BBC have a graphic which shows how the average global temperature has risen

“The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2010 by 0.28°C (0.50°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,636 months on record, behind March 2016 (1.23°C/2.21°F), February 2016 (1.19°C/2.14°F), and December 2015 (1.12°C/2.02°F). Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures. April 2016 also marks the fifth consecutive month (since December 2015) that the global monthly temperature departure from average has surpassed 1.0°C (1.8°F) and it is the 12th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of record keeping.” more

 

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The ancient Town and Port of Faversham has a new Mayor

Last night Faversham invested its new Mayor in the presence of  Lord Boyce, Lord Warden of Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle, Faversham is a member of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports and many Mayors of the Cinque Ports were at the investiture last night.

It was as though Faversham had rediscovered its Port and the importance of Faversham Creek – Lord Boyce had visited the Purifier Building and seen the work of the Faversham Creek Trust.  He reminded those present of the importance of maritime Kent and of Faversham’s contribution to it.

Our new Mayor Shiel Campbell was entrusted with the Wand of Office, the emblem of straightness and integrity of rule.  In her acceptance speech, Shiel

  • committed herself to bring back mutual respect to relationships in the town.
  • to develop means by which the Town Council could be more proactive in planning and development matters
  • complemented the Faversham Creek Trust and its efforts to raise £125,000 for the Swing Bridge

There were gasps of surprise and delight at her support for the work of the Faversham Creek Trust.

Proceedings were closed by the Mayor’s Chaplain, the Revd Simon Rowlands with a prayer for Faversham’s safety, prosperity and welcome.

Last night it felt as though the tide turned in Faversham and that the Town was no longer turning its back on the Creek.

In Shiel’s own words: 

“There are three things I would like to promote in my Mayoral year:

Firstly, to build on and extend the levels of communication and co-operation with town residents and businesses.  It is a natural progression of the digital age that we live in that information can be quickly and easily sourced via websites and I would like to see this encouraging more people to come along to the Town Council meetings and take part, in a co-operative, collaborative way.  I believe we can get much more done by working together and building bonds.  So much more is achieved with a congenial conversation over a coffee than a correspondence clash via the local papers.

Secondly,  with four proposed major housing developments affecting the town, one from each point of the compass, the time is right to have some sort of forum to discuss and shape ideas and to address the fine detail regarding space and design within each development.  To have one good strong voice to advise and negotiate with the developers at the outset and not at the end.  It may also be that we can look at the knock on impact of all this development upon: traffic, transport, parking, cycling, walking, green corridors etc and a single port of call for discussions about major infrastructure requirements like roads, schools, surgeries and so forth.  There will be more of this at the Annual Town Meeting on the 23rd May.

Thirdly: I have been attending the Ladies’ Coaching sessions at the Recreation Ground on a Wednesday morning for 11 years, I have never done anything for that long and I still have lots to learn!   So, just for a bit of fun, and to encourage a more active local business integration, I hope to set up a Tennis Tournament, to rival former Mayor Ken Neame’s Industrial Bowls Tournament. 

Finally, the Mayor’s Charity, In recognition of the amazing work that was done by this charity last year, in having the vision and drive to think outside the box and find a way to make possible what seemed impossible, then in being part a very tricky deal of match funding from several separate bodies and giving us an outstanding example of what can be done when you turn from conflict and controversy to collaboration and co-operation.  Lastly in raising the £125,000 needed to get the whole show on the road in an eyewateringly short 5 months.  I am immensely pleased to announce that the Creek Trust will be my principle charity for the year. 

This group has restored a derelict building and helped to bring the Creek back into good use, it has set up boatbuilding apprenticeships and courses for the long-term unemployed.  It has been a long hard road and feelings have run high, but much has been achieved on both sides and now is the time to put the pain behind us and make the most of what we have, working together towards a bright and vibrant creek to be enjoyed by all.  This afternoon, the Admiral of the Cinque Ports, Lord Boyce was shown around and I know he was very impressed by all that he saw.”

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Harold Goodwin