ARTICLES

Noting Huw Merriman's recent weekly digest and his comments on the Conservative Government's determination to proceed with no-deal Brexit, as well as Amber Rudd's conversion to no-deal, one is left wondering whether either has the interests of the country at heart. 

If we taxpayers weren't paying interest on the National Debt at the rate of £923 million a week, we would have more than enough to fund the NHS and sort out our roads and housing problems but why do we owe so much?  

Since 1970 the UK balance of trade in goods has steadily declined from a surplus to today's deficit of £149 billion. We are now importing far more than we export and as a result the government's borrowing is rapidly increasing, so that in March 2019  the UK's national debt was £1.80 trillion or about 85.6 % of GDP. As Mr Micawber famously said "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."  

In 1978, household net savings were around 10% of net income and now they have fallen to 4%, household unsecured debt to credit card firms, banks and other lenders, is now nearly £16,000 per household. Many in work struggle to make ends meet and there is little evidence that the Thatcherite economic theory of trickle down wealth actually happened, given the widening gulf in wealth between the millionaires in the Cabinet and the rest of the country. 

The Thatcherite economics followed by Major, Blair and Cameron did nothing to halt the decline of manufacturing, crippled the long term productive capacity of the country and the result is now obvious.  The recent spate of anti-EU propaganda regurgitated by Jones, Walter and Walsh will not change the fact that the UK has a sliding and devalued pound [down 25% since Brexit], a shrinking economy [UK GDP growth rate fell to -0.2%], the lowest investment in the car industry in years and a collapse in investment into the UK, whereas it has surged 43% in the last three years in the EU.  

It's no use blaming the EU for decades of our own strategic economic incompetence, nor promoting the populist nostrum of Brexit, as that will not stop the UK's economic decline. The fantastical supporters of Brexit and no-deal will be in for a big disappointment in expecting a re-energised economy from the Brexit chimera. In the past Britain actually grew great on investment in productive industry, not today's call centres, gig economy, shady bankers and city gamblers like the new Chancellor who brought on the financial crash of 2008 and its consequent hardship. 

The  long term solution for the UK is an economy based on financing decades of long-term investment; a focus on training and education, support for technology, R&D and innovation as well as manufacturing excellence and British private and public ownership of key assets and infrastructure, so there is a national long term industrial strategy. Our local politicians only have an eye to their immediate future, so if and when an election is held, it will be well worth looking at the facts of the economic condition of the country before making choices. 

David J Daniels

Beech House Lane

Robertsbridge

 

Thoughts for a third EU Referendum: Revoke Article 50 OR Leave with “a” deal

The Government has held a re-negotiation of our relationship with the EU that promises - at least in the short run – to make everyone worse off, less secure, and diminished in the eyes of the world. Emotionally, we have already `left’ the EU, so the pro-Europe campaign must set out a positive case to answer the question of why we want to `join’ Europe.

The European Movement's members are fighting Brexit every day

  • Analysing public opinion on matters of concern: the broad conclusion is that UK and EU27 citizens currently share the same concerns about policy set at the Union level (other than Brexit). Can Europe help fulfil our aspirations in policy areas where it has a say? (NB: Education, housing, roads, railways etc. are nothing to do with Europe. Leaving Europe cannot solve these problems.) The EU is evolving rapidly to tackle these concerns. We should remain a full member if sharing the EU’s policies in the near future make it more likely that Britain can deliver its own commitments to its own people.
  • Understanding the detailed implications of a future relationship: Once Parliament is finally persuaded to vote for “a” deal, it must be carefully checked to see if it might be accepted by the EU27. Its peoples also have a “will” and the evidence is that they will not tolerate any unwinding of the single market that would give the UK frictionless trading access to their market.
  • Parliament as a whole should provide electors with a detailed, comparative report on the deal. Each elector would be sent an easy-read summary of a major Parliamentary report comparing and contrasting the assessment of the future relationship versus staying as we are. No-one could then say they were not informed about the actual choices.
  • Recognition of an “unfavourable” deal: In the first, 1975 referendum, the negotiation of a “favourable” deal produced a rapid, decisive swing in the opinion polls toward staying in. The final result was a 66:33 vote to stay. What will an increasingly obvious demonstration of the proposed current “unfavourable deal” do? What will be the impact on public opinion if the economic data in the months before a People’s Vote suggest that “the experts” are indeed turning out to be right? The Parliamentary Report (above) is likely to expose the bland statements by the Leavers in 2016 and amplify the detail of the likely damage shown by the Government’s existing analysis.
  • National healing: There must be a crash programme to alleviate the problems explicitly identified with localised migration problems. The finance would come from a temporary `solidarity’ tax surcharge until the next General Election in 2022. (Note: 1p on income tax would raise about £20 billion in this period). We need to identify how other EU states deal with the problems such as benefit tourism under the existing Treaties and implement corresponding policies in the UK.

Whatever the result of the Third Referendum, a formal decision would then be made by Parliament within a few days to Leave OR, to revoke the Article 50 notice of intention to leave. That would end the damaging uncertainty immediately.


by Graham Bishop, vice-chair of the European Movement and an experienced consultant on European Integration. 

 


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  • Sally Bishop