•I used to think of Open Europe as a half-way sensible, reliable, euro-critical think tank. Some of their reports were quite helpful, at least for their data if not always for their conclusions. So it is disappointing just before a General Election to see them going into over-drive as apologists for Brussels.
First there was their report, a few days ago, claiming that leaving the EU would save only a tiny fraction of the regulatory costs of EU membership, so we’d do better to stay in and renegotiate – a proposition that could have come straight from the spin doctors at Conservative Central Office. They said that EU regulation currently costs £33 billion a year (a serious under-estimate, but let that pass). But if we left, and (say) adopted the Norway model, as many recommend, we should still be subject to EU rules costing 90% of the current figure. So stay and fight.
What they have done is to make a great case against the Norway option (which in any case UKIP could never accept, since it involves keeping the EU’s “free movement” rules). They have not, however, made any case at all against Brexit. And they’ve sought to give credence to the idea that significant renegotiation is possible. If you can’t take the word of Jean Claude Juncker and other EU leaders that they will not give way on basic elements of the Treaties, then look at the history. For over forty years British politicians have been declaring that they would win key concessions in Brussels, but they have failed over and over again, and we are ever deeper in the mire.
•Twenty-one years after our formation, and on the eve of what promises to be one of the closest, most exciting general elections in recent memory, the truly remarkable rise of UKIP and our leader, Nigel Farage, have caused nothing less than a tectonic shift in British politics.
This week UKIP Leader Nigel Farage has launched his new book, The Purple Revolution, the untold story of the journey UKIP has travelled on.
With characteristic wit and candour, the book describes the values that underpin Nigel Farage's own journey: from successful City trader to outspoken critic of the European Union and champion of Britain's right to govern itself.
From today, and until Thursday 26th March – if you sign up as a UKIP member, you will receive, in addition to the usual benefits, a free copy of The Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything.
• On March 20th, the EFDD group will give a platform to notable British experts and a special guest from Iceland to explain how the UK can escape control by the sclerotic and self-obsessed EU institutions and go back to its traditional position as an independent global trading force.
Speakers include: Ruth Lea, Economic Adviser, Arbuthnot Banking Group and Chairman, Economists for Britain;Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group and author of "Everything you wanted to know about the EU but were afraid to ask"; UKIP MEP William Dartmouth, member of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, UKIP spokesman on trade; and Gunnlaugur Snær Olafsson, political scientist and member of the internal Committee for Foreign Affairs of Iceland's governing conservative Independence Party.
“My intuition is that [EU] treaty change is close to mission impossible today... We need unanimity between 28 member states, in the European parliament, in 28 national parliaments in the process of ratification."- European Council president Donald Tusk [inset]
UKIP Press Release
•In response to commentsby the European Council president Donald Tusk that EU treaty change is “close to mission impossible,” UKIP leader Nigel Farage today said:
“David Cameron must come clean with the British people and tell them honestly that EU Treaty negotiation is not going to happen as the EU leaders have made it clear that they will not have it.
“EU bigwigs Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have all said there will be no changes on EU free movement or EU treaty change.
“This heightens the need for UKIP’s demand for an early referendum as clearly re-negotiation is futile.
“Treaty change depends on the agreement of 28 member states, many of whom have no appetite for change, making Cameron’s talk of renegotiation on any issue of substance a non-starter.”
The European Commission is taking a huff and suggesting Iceland must jump through numerous hoops before it can wriggle free... Choosing between the EU and EU exit, the British electorate are getting a taste for Kippers." -UKIP Fisheries spokeman Raymond FinchMEP
•The Government of Iceland has formally withdrawn its application for EU membership, a major contention being quotas imposed on mackerel fishing on which Iceland depends economically.
Officials in Iceland said they will set their own mackerel-fishing quotas after two nearby states negotiated an agreement with the European Union without including them.
"The Goverment of Iceland has no intentions to resume accession talks. Furthermore, any commitments made by the previous Government in the accession talks are superseded by the present policy," the formal letters to the Commission and the Presidency of the EU Council said.
The Icelandic government submitted these letters on Thursday, but a communication from the Commission's press officer for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement said that Iceland will not be taken off the candidate countries' list, citing 'certian rules that have to be followed.'
In response, UKIP Fisheries spokesman, MEP Ray Finch said:
"The new Icelandic government had a choice between the EU and a heap load of mackerel, and they chose the mackerel. I love their great choice. It demonstrates two things - that countries can work in the economic interests of their citizens and that EU expansion in no longer inevitable.
"I think as a nation, we should celebrate how far we’ve come. We should stop beating ourselves up on the issue of racism – regardless of whether other politicians want to keep beating our country up over it or not." - UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP in the Daily Express.
•There's a little bit more about yesterday’s [12.03.2015] media circus surrounding my comments on British jobs and discrimination than meets the eye.
Politics can be a funny old business. I got up on Thursday morning, put the kettle on, made a cup of tea, lit a cigarette, and listened to the 6am news.
My mind was full with the day ahead, and little did I expect the shock that I got with the second news item: “Ukip leader Nigel Farage wishes to abolished all race relations laws in Britain”. I nearly spat my tea out.
I never said that. What on earth were they talking about?
It emerged that the top news line had come from an interview that I’d done with Trevor Phillips as part of a Channel 4 documentary which had been recorded back in September.
To be honest, I’d forgotten I’d even done it. The phone started ringing. Newspapers. TV companies. My press office. And I agreed to get to London and start doing some interviews.
I made the point that I clearly remembered saying in the interviews that I thought the law on employment needed changing.
I believe that employers and especially our millions of small businessmen and women should be able to employ British people in preference to Southern or Eastern Europeans, without fear of breaking the race relations laws.
•Wikipedia defines the UN's Agenda 21 as “An action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development”. Of course we immediately recognise the phrase “sustainable development” as weasel words, a catch-all term incorporating a host of modish obsessions.
Much of the activity described as “sustainable” is clearly unsustainable – for example, the EU/UK energy policy which is doing such huge economic damage across the continent. A better phrase for the UN’s Agenda 21 might be “An action plan with regard to climate alarmism and carbon dioxide paranoia” – though it covers a wide range of other fashionable leftist issues as well.
The odd thing is that most people have simply not heard of Agenda 21 – although local authorities across the country, and government institutions across the world, at national and local level, have signed up to it. There’s even a cultural dimension. Clearly then, Agenda 21 is a key part of the UN’s global governance pretensions, and it seeks to drive policies which generally speaking are pretty unpalatable to our party.
"But over the long-run, EU membership has been prohibitively expensive and disastrous for many of our industries - from fishing to coal mining. Britain would be better off out." - Patrick O'Flynn, UKIP MEP and Economics Spokesman.
•A new report by the Institute of Economic Affairs shows that the ability to trade with Europe does not rely on membership of the EU.
Patrick O'Flynn, UKIP MEP and Economics Spokesman, said: "This excellent and very measured report from the Institute of Economic Affairs gives the lie to ridiculous claims peddled by all three other parties that leaving the EU would cause a jobs meltdown."
"As the author notes, there may very well be net job creation in the wake of a British exit.
"What is quite clear is that the ability to trade does not rely on membership of a political union, but the ability to be an independent democracy relies on not being absorbed into a political union.
A propaganda move by the EU to try to make people believe that eurocrats can regulate costs out of existence
UKIP press release
•UKIP says cap on credit card fees is an EU propaganda gesture that will drive up bank charges. Experience of similar caps in Australia, Spain and America shows credit card companies and banks just shift the fees to other consumer charges.
Steven Woolfe, UKIP MEP for the North West and spokesman on finance, called today's vote in the European Parliament "a propaganda move by the EU to try to make people believe that eurocrats can regulate costs out of existence."
The vote will allow the European Commission to impose a limit on fees paid by retailers to banks when customers make payments by credit and debit cards.
But Woolfe said: "All this cap will do is ensure the banks and credit card companies move the fees somewhere else. Someone always pays and that someone is always the individual consumer.
"The EU wants consumers to believe a command from Brussels can force businesses to provide something for nothing. It can't. Bottom line is the consumer always pays."
How it took five months for the European Commission to answer one question from Ray Finch MEP on how the taxpayer-funded "golden good-byes" to European Commissioners are calculated
by Dirk Crols, Assistant to Ray Finch (pictured), MEP for the South East
• On 30 September 2014, UKIP MEP Ray Finch submitted a question to the Commission: "Can the Commission provide details of the transitional allowance granted to each of the Commissioners whose period of service ends in 2014?"
It was a straight-forward question - marked as "priority" - from an elected official to an unelected bureaucracy. It concerned how the unelected bureaucrats were spending taxpayers' money on "golden good-byes" for their colleagues among the Commission's elite.
But it was not until almost five months later, on February 17, 2015, that the bureaucrats finally replied to Ray. The arrogance of their answer was even more extraordinary than the disrespect shown in their delay: "For detailed information on the transitional allowances Commissioners are entitled to when leaving the office, the Commissioner refers the Honourable Member to Regulation N° 422/67/EEC, 5/67/Euratom of 25 July 1967 determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission and of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice".
In other words, "Run along. However many thousands of euros the handful of Commissioners are being paid, the amounts are not worth mentioning to you."
"Even more concerning would be the prospect of British troops, under European command operating in the Eastern Ukraine.” - UKIP Defence Spokesman Mike Hookem MEP
•Mike Hookem, UKIP’s Defence Spokesman, today condemned Jean Claude Junker’s calls for a European Union Army saying the plans would be an “utter disaster for the UK.”
Mr Hookem, who sits on the Defence Committee in the European Parliament, said, “UKIP have been ridiculed for years and branded scaremongers for suggesting that the UK’s traditional parties were slowly relinquishing control of our defence and moving toward a European Army. However, yet again, UKIP’s predictions have been proved correct.”
“A European Army would be a tragedy for the UK. We have all seen the utter mess the EU has made of the Eurozone economy, so how can we even think of trusting them with this island’s defence. This is simply a disaster in the making that would see Gibraltar returned to Spain, and the Falkland Islands left open to an unopposed invasion by Argentina. Even more concerning would be the prospect of British troops, under European command operating in the Eastern Ukraine.”
“As an island nation, with interests around the world, we must have our own armed forces that are equipped and trained to protect our people, our interests and our economy. This is why unlike the Lib-Lab-Con, who are complicit in the disastrous European experiment, UKIP will oppose the creation of a European Army.