Friday, 29 April 2016

Review of the week: Project Fear ascends; and British ex-pats get the thumbs down

Well, what a week it’s been!


The mass media has given the EurIneers a good run for their money, trying to manipulate the public into thinking the Brexit shall equal economic doom.  The Brexiteers seem to have gone quiet on the issue, failing to recognise that the rest of the world trades quite happily without being members of the European Union.


By the end of the week, it became clear that the Brexit campaigners started to diverge.  The grassroots movement - unofficially lead, at least in the mass media, by Nigel Farage - continued to press the immigration issue, but the establishment’s own Brexit campaign realised that the immigration issue is potentially an own-goal for many of its establishment supporters.


Objectively, there is still no public strategy for UK’s membership of the European Union, no equivalent of the Brexiteers’ Flexcit plan.  It’s looking likely that there is no such plan.  EurIneers need to hurry up: time is running out guys…


And John Major got an interview for the EurIn case.  This was a good opportunity, but it didn’t work.  More about that interview in its own blog entry.


In the meantime, a few more reactions to the week’s mass programme of distortion, disinformation and Project Fear.

  • Home Secretary: leave the ECHR, but stay in the EU
  • Project Fear: OECD claims that Brexit would cost Briton’s a whole month salary… by 2020
  • Project Fear: Carney says hard to predict effect of post-Brexit slide in sterling
  • British expats lose the right to vote in the referendum


Home Secretary: leave the ECHR, but stay in the EU
On 25 April 2016, the Telegraph reported Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech in which she said the UK should leave the European Convention of Human Rights and leave the European Union.  May says that it is the former, not the latter, that caused problems when dealing with Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, and led to a situation where the UK Parliament was told to give votes to prisoners.


The problem is that membership of the EU requires commitment to the ECHR.  The Europeans certainly needed a bill of rights to protect citizens against the warmongering of their own governments (twice in the same century).   The British drafted it, and it became the ECHR.  One could argue that the world has moved on.  Then again, a European citizen would probably have good cause to worry if the ECHR failed to provide some recourse against the excesses of their own local government.


So divorcing the ECHR and the EU is a non-starter.


To leave the ECHR, the UK would need to leave the EU beforehand.


The consequences of the UK walking away from the ECHR is another topic altogether!


Project Fear: OECD claims that Brexit would cost Briton’s a whole month salary… by 2020

On 27 April 2016, Reuters reported Angel Gurria, OECD secretary general, saying Britain would have less access to the bloc's single market of 500 million consumers, slowing investment resulting in a loss of income.


Yet more consequential, opportunistic fear-mongering nonsense from the establishment keen to make a headline out of deliberately dodgy statistics and flawed assumptions.


Ignore.


The Telegraph reported the same story, with more colour and analysis.


Project Fear: Carney says hard to predict effect of post-Brexit slide in sterling



On 27 April 2016, Reuters reported a written answer from Carney that basically admitted to the obvious fact that all the Bank of England’s modelling of a Brexit is pure speculation, with no basis in empirical fact, or even probability (let alone likelihood).


British expats lose the right to vote in the referendum

On 28 April 2016 reported the Telegraph that the High Court has dismissed a claim for British expatriates to vote in the referendum of 23 June 2016.


UK law changed in 2015 to rule out the electoral rights of ex-pats who had lived abroad for more than 15 years.


I have no sympathy.  Ex-pats know the risks of being an ex-pat, and have no right to assume that Britain would favour the interests of ex-pats over those of us still in the UK (and paying UK taxes, by the way: are there any long-term ex-pats still paying UK income tax on their worldwide income?).  Leaving a country and hoping that its laws might still supersede those of your new host country is monstrously daft.


“Almost certainly our lives would be disrupted if Britain left the EU, from health care to pensions. Many of us would be forced to go back to the UK. Brexit would affect us deeply,” [the appellant] told The Telegraph from his home in Gourdon, inland from the French Riviera.


Hey ho.  The grass is always greener.  You made your choice; now live with it.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Review of the week

Well, what a week it’s been!


  • HM Treasury predicts long-term mega-doom of Brexit
  • The Leave Alliance begins to realise how little changes with leaving the EU
  • US President Obama urges Britain to remain in the EU, but Americans might be waking up to what the EU really is
  • And even Juncker is presenting himself as waking up
  • Brexit or EurIn, how much confidence can we give UKGov for joined-up thinking?  NHS pension schemes offer an example
  • Parliament reports on EU and science: basically, Brexit is irrelevant to science


HM Treasury predicts long-term mega-doom of Brexit
On 18Apr2016, the UK Treasury published an “Analysis of the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives.” (“the Report”) (Summarised by Reuters).


Having skim-read the executive summary, I’m not convinced that the Report is worth reading any further.  The logic is flawed and its outcomes are absurdly exaggerated.


To take one example, one paragraph in the executive summary says:


These estimates are based on the EU as it is today, without further reform. [...]


In other words, HM Treasury does implicitly recognise that the EU is one gigantic counterfactual in constant motion.  In which case, the effort put into the Report looks academic, misdirected and wasted.


Ultimately, the Report uses a series of economic models whose connection with the real world is unprovable and the results are outrageously incredible.  The Report believes that a Brexit would result in a loss of GDP in 15 years by -3.8% to -7.5%  By contrast, Open Europe’s version of the numbers make similar herculean assumptions about the future, yet its results are within a more credible range of -2.2% to 0.8% of GDP.


But as trade is going to happen anyway, whether the UK is in the EU or not, trade remains irrelevant to the issue of Brexit.  The whole Report was flawed at the outset.


The Leave Alliance begins to realise how little changes after leaving the EU

Best summed up by this blog, Semi Partisan Sam.


The Leave Alliance itself, on 23Apr2016, lead with a comment “The globalisation of regulation should be at the heart of the Leave campaign”


US President Obama urges Britain to remain in the EU, but Americans might be waking up to what the EU really is

On 22Apr2016, Obama wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Britain should stay in the EU because the British voice is stronger when it is surrounded (drowned-out?) by other European voices.


In so doing, Obama makes it abundantly clear that American interests are best served by a Britain governed by an outside force (an EU, of sorts).


Obama would have a stronger case if he extolled the USA’s membership of the EU.  But he won’t, because the USA won’t:
  • recognise international law;
  • recognise the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • recognise labour law and labour standards;
  • inhibit itself with market socialism, in particular inappropriate sacrifices (‘welfare on the never-never’ or ‘mortgaging the future’) that market socialism entails;
  • adopt Single Market regulation (TTIP shares many principles in common with the Single Market, but makes governments accountable for their policy choices, which the European ruling elite really despises);
  • curtail the self-aggrandising jurisdiction creep of US state courts to have effects well beyond American borders (see wiki);
  • won’t enforce privacy law as Europeans would like it (as demonstrated by the collapse of the Safe Harbor data processing agreement between US and EU).


So, in substance, Obama recommends a political impediment for Britain that Obama would never accept for America.  Obama would need to have ‘skin in the game’ to have an opinion worthy of further regard.


Additional coverage from the New York Times.


But one comment in the Boston Globe suggests that Americans might be waking up to what the European Union really is, and what it means for American foreign policy.  The author concludes that Brexit should happen.


And even Juncker is presenting himself as waking up

On 20Apr2016, Reuters reported that Juncker himself - he who has consistent contempt for democracy - said that Euroscepticism arose because Brussels sought to interfere with people’s lives.


"Yes it's right we are not very popular when we plead the case for Europe. You are no longer respected in your country if you insist that in the necessity of supra-national bodies."


Perhaps you and your anti-democratic pro-European acolytes should actually make the case for a supra-national body instead of just foisting it on us, no?


Brexit or EurIn, how much confidence can we give UKGov for joined-up thinking?  NHS pension schemes offer an example

On 21Apr2016, a journalist commented in the Telegraph about a lack of joined-up thinking within UKGov.


The article is self-explanatory, but here’s the schema:
  • Policy 1: UKGov reformed pensions so as to preserve a future tax base, crucially capping the size of an individual’s pension fund to £1 million, lest punitive taxes apply on the individual;
  • Policy 2: UKGov poured money into the NHS to hire more general practitioners.
  • Consequence: general practitioners cannot afford to continue working because, if they did so, their pension schemes would blow the £1m limit and suddenly become taxable.


One of the reasons for the departure of GPs from the profession is money. Not a shortage of money, an excess: they have too much of it.


At least, they have too much money in their pensions, for tax purposes anyway.


  • Policy 3: UKGov wants to crack down on tax avoidance.


Did anybody tell policy maker #1 about policy makers #2 and #3?


This demonstrates perfectly why both Brexiteers and EurIneers need to be terrified of an inept UKGov, however the public votes on 23Jun2016.


Parliament reports on EU and science: basically, Brexit is irrelevant to science

UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology published on 20Apr2016 its report into the relevance and impact of the EU and scientific endeavour in the UK (including funding).


Cutting to the chase, paragraphs 15 and 16 of the report sum it up perfectly (my emphasis added):


15.The UK might wish to become an Associated Country in the event of Brexit. We heard, however, strong views that the UK would lose its influence and roles in setting strategic priorities and in decision-making. If Associated Country status were to be pursued, further investigation would be required in order to ascertain to what extent, and at what expense, the UK’s currently influential position would be diminished. (Paragraph 235)


16.Even those who were most in favour of continued membership of the EU—the university sector—criticised aspects of the UK’s relationship with the EU. We therefore conclude that, in the event that the UK chooses to remain part of the EU, there would be scope for the UK Government to advance reforms to enhance the interactions between the EU and UK science and research. We suggest that a particular areas of focus should be the influence of the EU on the UK’s regulatory environment and the support available for UK businesses in order to facilitate engagement with EU funding schemes. (Paragraph 250)

As is always the case with the English, it’s not what they say that matters.  It’s what they don’t say.


Translation:


When the report says...
It means...
If Associated Country status were to be pursued, further investigation would be required
We have no idea what this might mean for anything, or even whether it’s relevant.  In other words, we don’t know.
there would be scope for the UK Government to advance reforms
There is opportunity, as there always is, but we see no guarantee that we can exploit such opportunities.  In other words, we don’t know.


In other words, Brexit is wholly irrelevant to science in much the same that that Brexit is irrelevant to trade.  Science will continue to happen, just as trade does, irrespective of the EU.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The logic of UKGov’s position

In its leaflet, UKGov demonstrates purely incoherent confusion.

If a government wants to make a case for joining (or remaining a member of) a union as part of a plebiscite vote, then it needs to spell out the strategy of that union and how it favours the plebiscite.

But UKGov doesn’t do that, in part because the European Union has no clearly documented strategy (and won’t do until June 2016 at the earliest).  Only the objectives of the European Union are published, the UKGov has said repeatedly prior to this leaflet that it doesn’t share all of them (in particular, political union).

On the contrary, UKGov:
  • compounds its own lack of strategy with irrational craziness to defend a defiantly-amended-status-quo by scaring the electorate against any form of useful, fundamental change;
  • combined with an absolute ruling-out of the fundamental political aim of the European Union, i.e. political integration and the ultimate abolition of each member nation’s national government;
  • then pretends that it is major world player;
  • but one which apparently needs to belong to a club whose rules it doesn’t want to follow.

In so doing, UKGov demonstrates continued denial and ineptness that was present in the accession negotiations of 1968-1972.

As a result, UKGov’s leaflet should terrify both Brexiteers and EurIneers alike:
  • Brexiteers depend upon a competent UKGov to weed out the individual laws that pervert global standards into a more corruptible European version (a classic example being how the European Union adopted International Accounting Standards except for the bit that would have revealed just how bankrupt French banks were, and probably still are; the technical reference is IAS39).
  • EurIneers depend upon a competent UKGov to defend British interests from lobbyists in Brussels constantly seeking regulatory ‘protection’ from competition (barriers to entry) within their tin-pot industries (“national champions”), in their continuing zeal to rip-off consumers (a classic example being the Lisbon treaty, formerly the ‘constitution of Europe’).

The proof of UKGov’s ineptness is that it holds a mid-air position, thinking that somehow it is a workable compromise.

The mid-air position is that UKGov has sought a special status that means UK is in the EU, but without the apparent obligation to follow EU rules, or EU strategy (undocumented as at April 2016).  The other 27 national governments of the EU have agreed to UKGov holding this mid-air position (presumably on a “be careful what you wish for” basis).

But the mid-air position is fundamentally, perverse illogical, akin to a naïve religious person trying to join a synagogue insisting that the Christian Trinity is the undoubted truth.

Noises from the European Parliament suggest that the Parliament can see the craziness of UKGov’s mid-air position.  An opt-out from integration creates uncertainty for the European institutions, because if formalised, the opt-out becomes contagious.  A German comedian has already proven this uncertainty: if the Brits can keep their freedom and pay less into the EU, then why is our German government so scared of demanding the same?  This is the point at which a union would collapse: its solidarity would be bust.

Ultimately therefore:
  • Either UKGov seeks to be a full member of the EU, in which case UKGov must ultimately submit to European political integration and self-abolition.
  • Or UKGov doesn’t want its own abolition, in which case it cannot afford the risk to remain a full member of the EU.  Instead, if it wishes only to trade with EU, then EEA/EFTA membership is all that is required.

It really is a very simple bi-nominal choice, and has been since before 1968.

The underlying “fear of missing out” from opportunities allegedly within the EU but out of reach of the EEA/EFTA is irrational, because trade is going to happen irrespective of government(s).  Free trade agreements only ever formalise trade that already happens, and even then only to simplify bureaucracy that both trading countries stupidly impose on each importer.  Hence why trade should be irrelevant to the voter in the referendum of 23 June 2016.

Given that the logic set out above has applied since 1968, it is bizarre that UKGov still seems to be hell-bent on denying the relevance and importance of the integrationist project.  Bad economics is bad politics, and the integrationist project is bad politics that drives bad economics (i.e. the Eurozone, the Social Model of (Un)Employment, etc).  Fine: let’s not get involved in bad politics.  But there are easier ways to work with Europe than to be an obstinate member of the wrong club within Europe.

And all of this logic flows in volumes from the pages of UKGov’s leaflet.  As always with the English, it isn’t what they say (or write) that matters: it’s always what they omit (or write) that matters.

And, by the way, since the Suez crisis of 1956, UKGov had indeed lost an empire and failed to find a useful role in the world.  The European Union is no substitute for that former useful role, and, objectively, no-body in their right mind wants that role.  Even some Americans have woken up to how much being the world’s policeman costs, especially when everybody else seeks to free-ride off one’s efforts.  It would be much easier for UKGov to be a small player in the world for the next few hundred years, and dodge the bullets intentionally exchanged between the world’s larger players.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

UKGov’s leaflet on the EU Referendum 23 June 2016

The paper leaflet arrived last week.  The electronic version is here.


What is it?

Really, really disappointing.


Question
Answer
Is this is a strategic view by a government of a governmental club, pointing to either UK or EU strategy in the wider world for the next 50 years?
No
Does UKGov take this opportunity to explain and to account for the publicly declared (since the 1960s) political objective of the European Union (fully-integrated political union)?
No
Does UKGov take this opportunity to explain that much UK law is based upon global standards, not European standards, and that arguably the European Union as potentially as redundant as a national/member state government?
(see comment by eureferendum.com)
(the Digital Economy Act 2010 is a good example of how a non-European global standard is implemented into UK law)
No
Does UKGov explain how Cameron’s deal of 19 February 2016 has already changed the realpolitik of the European Union?
No
Is it an attempt to make Europe relevant to ordinary people’s daily lives?
Yes
Does it succeed in making Europe relevant to ordinary people’s daily lives?
Yes
How does it make Europe relevant to ordinary people’s daily lives?
Project Fear.


Detailed reactions to the leaflet



UKGov says…
My reaction is…
The UK has secured a special status in a reformed EU:
  • we will not join the euro
  • we will keep our own border controls
  • the UK will not be part of further European political integration
  • there will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for new EU migrants
  • we have a commitment to reduce EU red tape
It isn't secured until it becomes legislation.

Where is the evidence that that European Parliament will ratify the deal that 28 governments agreed?

EU countries buy 44% of everything we sell abroad, from cars to insurance. Remaining inside the EU guarantees our full access to its single market. By contrast, leaving creates uncertainty and risk
Trade is irrelevant to the Brexit issue, because trade would continue as it is whether UK was in or out of the European Union, in short-, medium- and long-terms.  The European Union is more than just a trading arrangement between nations.

If the UK were to leave the European Union, UKGov would rationally seek to re-join the European Economic Area and therefore the European Free Trade Area, restoring the EU's access to the British market - by far more important for the EU than for the UK - on terms similar to those today, but at a fraction of the 'membership fee' we currently pay today.

Why in this leaflet does UKGov remain silent on the other 56% of exports?
Being inside the EU also makes it more attractive for companies to invest in the UK.
Reasons to invest in the UK are nothing to do with the European Union, and probably not even the European Economic Area.

The main reasons to invest in the UK include:
  • a stable, legal environment of rule-of-law;
  • good, confident, commercially-minded legal arbitrators and commercial courts;
  • a recent (and successful) move by commercial lawyers to simplify the language used in commercial contracts;
  • a relatively low cost of legal and fiscal compliance (i.e. you can get on and just run your business);
  • a competitive tax regime, where the burden falls mainly on British citizens to fund the cost of the British state;
  • timezone (GMT is workable between east coast America and all of Europe);
  • a generally disinterested state, so thankfully few interventions or corruption (believe it or not);
  • a relatively more open and transparent business and compliance culture than other European Union member nations (even the Netherlands is more opaque than the UK because of its nest of conflicting and inhibiting collective workers' agreements).

Ireland shares many of the same advantages as UK.
A vote to leave could mean a decade of more of uncertainty.
False and deliberately misleading.

Staying inside the EU is likely to result in a decade of equal uncertainty.

If the European Parliament ratifies Cameron’s deal of 19 February 2016, then the whole integrationist European project is called into question.  Result?  Uncertainty.

On the other hand, if the European Parliament rejects Cameron’s deal of 19 February 2016, then what?  Does Britain (the Conservative Party in particular) meekly accept its serfdom within the European Union and carry on with the integrationist European project?  Or does UK hold repeated referenda until the apparently necessary goal of certainty is achieved?

What is this idiotic fear about uncertainty anyway?  Uncertainty is always somebody’s opportunity...
If the UK voted to leave the EU, the resulting economic shock would put pressure on the value of the pound, which would risk higher prices of some household goods and damage living standards.
Nonsense.

UKGov has no magic crystal ball, so it cannot predict with any confidence how foreign exchange markets would react to the referendum result.  For all UKGov knows, the exchange rate has already "priced in" a Brexit win.

Besides, even if the pound depreciated against the Euro and US Dollar, that means exports become cheaper.  Imports - food and raw materials - might rise a little in price, and this is precisely what UKGov wants anyway.  It’s inflation.  Inflation erodes the value of debt, including public sector debt.  So presenting exchange rates as a problem for the people is deeply disingenuous.

UKGov’s comment stems from the same rigged model of the economy as other so-called economists use.  It’s bogus.
EU reforms in the 1990s have resulted in a drop in fares of over 40% for lower cost flights.

Mobile phone roaming charges will be abolished across the EU
Stop press!!  After 30 years of protectionism - including turning a blind eye to cartels (because they were ‘national champions’) -  within the Common Market, common sense applied and the Europeans agreed to the bleeding obvious.

Should we be grateful?  Or disgusted at how deliberately, corruptibly slow this European Union is?  What the hell are us taxpayers actually paying for?

How many more decades shall it take for the Single Market in Services to appear properly?  Are we still in the queue while vested interests parasitise consumers?

It was only as recent as October 2015 that the European Commission finally blew the gaffe on the illegal state aid that Netherlands and Luxembourg gave to some of its corporate taxpayers, smuggled via “transfer pricing rules”, long-standing (since 1930s) international corporation tax standards to prevent tax avoidance.
EU membership also gives UK citizens travelling in other European countries the right to access free or cheaper public healthcare.
Tell that to Mr & Mrs King, who were arrested under another great invention of Europe - the European Arrest Warrant - as they sought an effective health remedy for their youngest son's cancer when the National Health Service of England denied the remedy to them, upon which the local council went on a witchhunt for “child-abduction”... of their own child.
Voting to leave the EU would create years of uncertainty and potential economic disruption.
Wrong.  Ultimately, global standards and global rules would apply, most of which are pretty similar to what we already use (typically without the tweaks, perversions and ‘special protections’ that the European Union likes to introduce).  There is no uncertainty for us ordinary taxpaying plebs.

From day one of Brexit, trading agreements would continue until explicitly cancelled.  That's international law, like it or not.

Oh, OK, there might be uncertainty for our risible ruling elites.  But I don’t care about them.
EU membership means UK police can use law enforcement intelligence from 27 EU countries.
Wrong.  Bi-lateral agreements enable police to share data, and not all jurisdictions need the permission of their state to share data relevant to the other state.  The European Union might have brokered some part of a data-sharing deal, but data-sharing was likely to have happened anyway.

Not that it made much difference to the security of Brussels in March 2016.
Since 2004, using the European Arrest Warrant, over 1,000 suspects have faced justice in UK courts and over 7,000 have been extradited.
Excluding the 2 incident being Mr & Mrs King, all remaining 7,998 incidents would likely have happened anyway under the existing extradition arrangements.
EU membership means you and your family have the right to live, work or study abroad in any of the 27 other member countries.
Deliberately misleading.

One already has the right to apply to live, work or study anywhere in the world under UK law.  Whether the other country wants an immigrant is up to that country.  The European Union cannot influence the decisions of New Zealand, Canada, Australia, America, Russia, China, India etc.

Had the European Union not existed, then one’s ability to migrate to a European country would have remained identical to the process that still exists for the non-European world.

So to present international law as a special feature of the European Union is either disingenuous, or a simple falsehood.  Even within the European Union, member nations can refuse entry to any European citizen in accordance with its national law.

The sole feature that the European Union adds to this situation is that a European Union member state cannot generally discriminate against nationals of any other member of the European Union.  So where is the evidence that member nations would have retained general racial/national discrimination, but for the European Union?
The UK is a strong, independent nation. Our EU membership magnifies the UK’s ability to get its way on the issues we care about.
If the UK is a strong, independent nation, why does UKGov present our existence as wholly dependent upon membership of the European Union?

Where is the evidence that proves the magnifier effect of the EU on UK foreign policy?

UKGov’s leaflet gives all taxpayers, all Brexiteers and all EurIneers good, hard reasons to question the competence of UKGov.


Sources



UKGov seems to have a complicated media strategy, deploying two portals about the same referendum: