Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Free Trade Agreements, access and membership of the Single Market

Now that we have made the momentous decision to leave the EU, we are constantly asking ourselves what does Brexit look like?

In much the same way as people get confused about the difference between debt and deficit, there is a great deal of confusion between free trade agreements, membership and access of the single market. I thought I might give you what I understand to be the differences, and what I think we should aim for.

Firstly, free trade agreements are generally agreements between two countries in which they agree not to impose tariffs (a tax) on imported goods and services. This may be across the board or only on goods, or in certain sectors of the economy. Many countries have these and there are some cases where there is a free trade agreement between a country and the EU. Within the EU we are in effect in a free trade agreement with the other 27 nations of the EU.

What is the EU single market? It is a customs union in which all members agree not to impose import tariffs, i.e. a free trade agreement between the 28 nations including ourselves.

Is that all? No. The single market is more than that. When you sell goods into the US the goods you sell must adhere to US regulations, likewise with the EU. The Single Market makes it so that every country within the EU has the same regulations, so as a member you know that if you make something for France it will also be good enough for Germany. Being a member of the Single Market means that you agree to adhere to all the EU regulations for all your goods and services (though the single market in services is not yet harmonized).

That sounds great, so we must have access to the single market? Yes, of course we must have access to the single market - but that's not really in question. The US has access to the single market, Western Samoa has access to the single market. Access just means that you are able to sell into the single market - well you can as long as the goods you sell adhere to EU regulations, just like with the US.

So what's the confusion? Some politicians and commentators confuse access to the single market with membership of the single market. We will have access, but whether we are a member is the crux.

It sounds good to be a member of the single market, so why would we not want to be? Those EU regulations which we need to adhere to, we also need to adhere to them for any goods which we don't intend to export to the EU. In fact around 95% of our economy does not export, and some of this regulation is very heavy handed. We could have lighter British regulation for all our economy, and then apply EU regulations for only those exporting to the EU.

Any other drawbacks on being a member? Yes. The EU has made it so that the single market negotiates with other countries on free trade agreements as a Block, which is why we have not been able to have FTA's with like minded countries like the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and tigers such as India and China. Being outside, we can push ahead with new FTA's.

Furthermore as a custom's union, the single market does impose import tariffs on external countries, even if the UK does not wish to. Agricultural goods from Africa are cheaper, but with tariffs are more expensive. This is to protect inefficient french farmers and the common agricultural policy. Outside the single market we can drop those tariffs and get cheaper food from Africa which will help us and help Africa.

Also the EU single market membership holds that free movement of peoples is a pre-requisite which is why immigration has become an issue and, unless the EU becomes more flexible, the reason why we will have to stop being members.

The way in which Theresa May has set up the new departments, one for Brexit and an International
Trade seems to infer that we will have to stop being members of the single market (otherwise we could not negotiate FTA's).

I would bet my bottom dollar on not being members of the single market but having a free trade agreement with the single market in all areas which are already covered.

Hope that explains.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A big day for May. A bad day for Labour and UKIP.

Theresa May becomes Prime Minister today, and I wish her well. She's a bit cold but maybe that is going to be useful in the upcoming negotiations with the EU.

I just hope her re-shuffle shows a break from Cameronism and embraces Brexit. I want to see George Osborne moving on from the Chancellorship, the Foreign Office is ok. I don't want to see Philip Hammond as Chancellor as he is gloomy, miserable and still scare mongering - even now. We need an optimist and someone radical to simplify the tax code. Maybe Gove, maybe Dominic Raab.

She should keep Gove in as either chief negotiator or to finish his Justice reforms. Boris should be brought in as maybe Party Chairman or Education Secretary. If not Gove then David Davis would be great as chief negotiator. She does have a few good female talents to draw on, Priti Patel, Amber Rudd and Anna Soubry. She could put Andrea Leadsom in as Treasury Number 2. We'll see.

Yesterday's meeting of the Labour NEC came up with the correct result of having Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper. He needs to be destroyed by a legitimate democratic voice and not a stitch-up. They then came up with silly rules to exclude new members from voting, but allowing registered supporters. They need to sort this out quickly. If Corbyn is ousted, Labour would do well to copy the Tory party process.

UKIP went equally mad yesterday and excluded every one from their leadership ballot who has not been a member for 5 years. The party has only been in existence for 20 years or so and the last 5 years has been their best. In one foul swoop they have taken out their brightest and most able media performers, especially Suzanne Evans and Douglas Carswell. Carswell does not want to be leader but Suzanne Evans would have added respectability to the party as she is likeable. It's now got an unknown in Stephen Wolf and Diane James who I don't rate. I think UKIP won't be around as a political force in 5 years time.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Understanding Corbynistas

I had a conversation with a left wing friend the other day and he was saying how great a leader Jeremy Corbyn was. I was incredulous. How could an otherwise sensible man believe this? He couldn't understand why I couldn't see it.

Today I was listening to the Iain Dale programme on LBC and to a man who was calling Angela Eagle a Blairite or Thatcherite! In the days of Tony Blair you would have said that Angela Eagle was on the left of the party (just not as left as Corbyn). The caller then said that the vast majority of people who don't vote are supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, but obviously there is no evidence for this at all!

I think the caller exposed something though which I think is key to understanding Corbynistas. I think that people on the far left believe that everyone, by default, has the same beliefs as them.

I mean how could anyone believe anything different? And if they do believe something different, then if you're right wing then you must be evil and if you are centre-left then you are a traitor.

It is for this reason why moderate Labour MPs are being bombarded with extremely negative messages on twitter and facebook. They are being bullied with horrendous and vicious attacks - some sexist, racist and homophobic messages - from the supposed party of equality.

It is so easy to surround yourself with people who have the same views, especially on the new media of Twitter and Facebook. It's called the 'echo chamber' as you have your own views echoed back to you. Momentum is a big echo chamber of the far left and their member's are extremely vociferous in giving their views, but I doubt it will ever get more than one million members.

The members of the far left, though, forget about the silent millions of centre-left voters who want a reasonable Government with a bigger state but not a ruling state. It will become clear to them when the Labour party splits as it soon will in one way or another. But the people who don't support the people's front are traitors anyway aren't they?


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Corbyn vs PLP (or Eagle vs Corbyn)

It looks like Angela Eagle is set to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the Labour party on Monday.

I cannot believe how slow the Labour party coup has been. It's taken two weeks already and the Labour party looks like a joke. The Tory party does this so much better, they do not accept crap leaders for long. And if Angela Eagle is the best challenger it shows the paucity of talent in the Labour ranks.

The Labour party is a mess from top to bottom. The party members are not representative of Labour voters. The Parliamentary Labour Party is not representative of the membership and Corbyn does not represent the PLP.

If Jeremy Corbyn wins there will have to be a split. The moderates will have to leave and set up a new party.

If Angela Eagle wins, will Momentum split taking Jeremy Corbyn and his small band of far left wingers?

I don't think the broad church of the Labour can sustain any longer, it just remains to be seen who takes custody of the Labour name and party machinery.


May vs Leadson

The Tory party leader and next Prime Minister will either be Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom.

I think Michael Gove would be the best Prime Minister, he is a radical with great ideas on social justice. Unfortunately, by the way he treated Boris Johnson, he has seriously damaged his credentials and so was third out of the leadership contest.

The two ladies fighting it out now do not fill me with enthusiasm, like David Cameron did, and so I hope the hustings will show some ideas which get my mouth watering.

I think, though, that I want Theresa May to win. I think her experience will be very valuable. She has styled herself as the new Iron Lady and I hope she is able to live up to the original. I don't like the fact that we have two months of campaigning, we desperately need a new PM soon to start taking away the doubt in this post-referendum world. In fact it would be great if Andrea Leadsom stood down so we could have a new PM immediately.

The last few days has shown that Andrea is a bit politically naive and I hope she learns from this. She seems to have picked up the right wing and UKIPpers - which worries me greatly. She would benefit from a cabinet job in Theresa May Government.


Rosberg vs Hamilton

Last week in Austria Nico Rosberg made a mistake, collided with Lewis Hamilton and damaged his car. Note, how I lay the blame on Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton left Nico plenty of room to turn, Nico left Hamilton none and only turned at the last moment.

Let's trace this back.

Rosberg started it.

In Bahrain 2014 we witnessed a fantastic race with overtaking hard but fair on both sides, with Hamilton coming out on top. All nice and clean. Apart from the fact that Rosberg had used an engine setting with more power - against Mercedes' own rule to get close to Hamilton.

Two races later in Spain, Hamilton retaliated and used the 'forbidden' engine mode to stay ahead of Rosberg to take the win.

Then Monaco. In qualifying, Rosberg had a very suspicious off, destroying Hamilton's lap as Rosberg was running ahead of him on the track. He even reversed back onto the track. It was clearly a foul. Hamilton was incandescent.

In Hungary, Hamilton had another problem in qualifying with his car on fire and so he had to come through the field. Hamilton and Rosberg found themselves running 3rd and 4th. Hamilton was asked to allow Rosberg to pass, but as he was still in the hunt for the win he said he wouldn't slow down - Rosberg would have to get closer, which he didn't.

In Spa, Rosberg got a good run on Hamilton up Les Combes and tried to pass but managed to clip Hamilton's rear tyre puncturing it. There was a public flair up and the first laying down of the law by Toto Wolff.

Turn to 2015.

In Japan, Hamilton was aggressive into the first corner, leaving Rosberg 'out to dry' as Hamilton had the racing line.

In Austin, again into the first corner on a wet track, Rosberg was slightly ahead on the outside, with Hamilton on the inside trying to turn and with cold brakes going straight on pushing Rosberg out. This is the most similar situation to the recent Austria incident, but Hamilton had cold brakes and tried to turn. Incidentally, Rosberg said he was 'slightly ahead so had the luxury to take the racing line.' Remember that.

Now to 2016.

In Spain, Rosberg passed Hamilton off the line but was in the wrong engine mode and stopped picking up speed as they went through turn three. Hamilton closed fast and went for the inside but Rosberg closed the space and went into Hamilton. Both were out, but both were at fault.

In Canada, Rosberg again got partially alongside Hamilton after the start but was on the outside and Hamilton again, with cold brakes, was about to take the racing line with Rosberg having to take to the grass. They had banged wheels.

Finally Austria. Interestingly, Hamilton was slightly ahead on the outside, Rosberg had failing brakes. This time Rosberg said 'he had the inside line and so was able to take the racing line' - which is the opposite of what he said in the race in Austin! He didn't even take the racing line, he failed to turn in and specifically pushed Hamilton wide.

In conclusion. Rosberg started hostilities. Hamilton has raced hard but fair and when he forced them to touch, they banged wheels with both cars continuing. Rosberg when racing wheel to wheel makes too many mistakes and causes bits to fall off cars. Hamilton is a better racer. That's why Hamilton has 3 world championships.


Thursday, 30 June 2016

They say a week is a long time in politics. The world has changed

A week ago Britain voted to leave the EU.

Since then the political landscape has changed quite a lot.

Firstly the PM has resigned and will be gone by 9th September. David Cameron has been a good Prime Minister and has led this country out the worst of the credit crunch. He gave us a good Olympics, gay marriage, and some great Education reforms. Unfortunately, he also gave us the NHS reforms which were not well thought through. I think he ended up surrounded too much by his own clique, but he did give us the referendum, on which he found himself on the wrong side. We may find that we miss David Cameron more than we thought!

The doom-mongers seemed to have a point as Friday markets opened. Both the pound and FTSE plunged. There two days of falls, and now three days of rises and now the FTSE 100 is at a ten month high. The FTSE 250 and 350 indices have also nearly reached their pre-brexit values. The pound however is still low, but I'm sure it will come back.

There has been a series of warnings from some companies taking about relocation, but these are the same warnings as before brexit. We don't know whether they will carry out their threats for a number of years.

The EU has gone into full fingers in ear mode, and Juncker is looking like a right pillock. Hopefully Angela Merkel will be the voice of sanity.

On the trade front, the PMs of Australia and New Zealand have reached out for full trade deals, as has Paul Ryan, the speaker on the US House of Representatives. So much for being at the back of the queue.

Predictably the remainers have signed a petition to try to get a second referendum. Just like the Corbynites and countless others they will continue to be deluded. There will be no second referendum.

What annoys me, is the refrain 'Old people have stolen the future of the youth'. The youth may have voted 75% to 25% in favour of remain, but that's of those who chose to vote. In fact only 24% of those eligible to vote went for remain, so it's not like they were overly exercised by the issue. Decisions are taken by those who turn up.

For most of us, we have been wanting a referendum for years to put right the bad decision made in 1975 - and I still have plenty years left. Remainers have been putting it to the youth that they will not be able to travel or work abroad after Brexit. What crap, we were able to before being a member of the EEC and we will be able to after Brexit!

What is despicable is the number of hate crimes against members of the public by racists and xenophobes. What a crying shame that's happened and I would have thought that we cold be a more civil society. I wanted brexit to be a more fully committed member of the world rather than as part of an insular club.

The Tory party has started to choose a new leader. It looked likely to be a predicted Boris vs Theresa contest but was thrown into the air by Michael Gove ditching Boris, going it alone leading to Boris pulling out of the contest (though he never officially entered). It appears to be to do with Gove losing confidence in Boris, but it has left a lot of Boris supporters screaming blue murder about betrayal.

I wasn't sure who to support. I'd like to support Gove as Theresa May is a bit too cold and we need some optimism and vision. I'll wait to see if any of the contenders have some interesting policies up in their pocket.

What I think is clear is that the poison of Europe will gradually leave the Tory party and it can once again be the political winning machine that it was for most of the 19th and 20th centuries.

You may not recognise the person above. It is Paul Flynn, 81 year old Labour MP. Today he made his debut at the despatch box after being an MP for 29 years. The Labour party is a complete joke. Every day has seen resignations from the shadow cabinet and shadow ministerial teams. Pat Glass made history after being appointed as shadow Education secretary on Monday and resigning on Wednesday. A whole 2 days.

I think Jeremy Corbyn has scraped the barrel of Labour MPs to form his shadow team but he can only fill around 30 positions (he needs around 90). The rest of the PLP has voted JC down in a vote of confidence by 172 to 40. Any normal leader would know that he should resign, but Jeremy Corbyn and his socialist workers misfits know that it's probably their only chance to shape the Labour party in their image and so they are clinging on.

It looks like Angela Eagle will challenge in the next few days, but if JC stands in the subsequent selection, he will probably win and then there would be a serious split in the party. This has been on the cards for some time, but brought into focus by the referendum.

Fascinating times. Let's see what the next week brings!


Friday, 24 June 2016

David Cameron resigns

I suppose it was inevitable, but I hoped the mould could be broken and David Cameron could hang on but alas not.

David Cameron has just announced that he will step down before the Tory party conference in October. It's sad, very sad. They say that all political careers end in failure, and so that is how this last act will be seen.

Such a shame.


The referendum is over: Brexit

We will find out what David Cameron is going to do within the hour.


Eu referendum: Update 4 p.m.

Leave are now leading the votes by roughly 500,000. 51.3% to 48.7%.

I don't think Remain can win now and that Leave will get it.

The sun is about to rise, and I would like to go to bed soon. Alas the excitement of where we go from here will keep me awake. Will Cameron resign? Will he trigger article 50 of the Lisbon treaty today?

Exciting times.

Dare to believe in democracy.

Very tired, slightly more tipsy.

Eu referendum: Update 2 a.m.

It's 2 am. My initial thoughts that Remain would win have now been dispelled. It looks increasingly clear that Leave might make it (we still have most London votes to go).

The current outlook is Leave 53%, Remain 47%.

So far I have yet to see any area of England, apart from London, voting in favour of Remain.

It looks like we're going to be in for some rocky times over the next few days before the impact sinks in.

It's going to be a long night.

Quite tired, a little tipsy

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Some thoughts about the referendum: Re-alignment

I think there could, just could, be some seismic changes to the British political landscape following the referendum.

The Tory Party is split down the middle. If Leave wins, I think the party will coalesce around a new Brexiteer leader, Boris Johnson or maybe Micahel Gove if he can be persuaded. If Remain wins then I can foresee a split like what happened to Labour in 1981. The Brexiteers will feel extremely let down by David Cameron's behaviour, using the Government machine for propaganda will not have gone down well. George Osborne is nearly a dead man walking.

The Labour parliamentary Party is united against Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour Party at large are now largely for him. Everyone knew that Corbyn would be a Leaver had he not been leader. The referendum has added a new cleave between the parliamentary party and a large section of their voters. There are now so many disconnects within Labour it could rupture quite quickly. It may even disappear completely.

If Leave wins then UKIP can disappear along with Nigel Farage with their voters finding new homes. If Remain win then this party could unite with Tory malcontents to form a new party. Otherwise a similar change to what happened to the SNP could occur under new leadership. Europe was not a big deal for most people, but it will be now. I expect UKIP to do quite well after a Remain win, but Farage would have to resign - he is now toxic. I would prefer to see Suzanne Evans as leader, in fact I think leave would have had a better change with her at the helm.

Farage may not stand down though, and maybe he wanted them not to win to continue as leader of this party. He may sense an SNP type surge, but I can't see it with him at the helm.

The SNP and Lib Dems are the only ones who would be untouched.

Alternately, we may just trundle on as before.


Some thoughts on the referendum : The polls

The polls were all over the place for a long time and were level pegging for most of the campaign. For a while Remain was ahead, then it swung to Leave, in the final days it swung back to Remain.

The betting markets have been majorly for Remain all along, bobbing about the 75%.

The most fascinating thing about the polls is that it is so difficult to work out the turnout. Older people are more likely to go for Leave, hyoung for Remain and we all know older people turn out to vote far more than the youth.

Also, though, ABC1s are more for Remain and more likely to vote than C2DEs.

Both these factors conflict and so it will be interesting to see if these correlate to what happens in a few hours. Not long to go now.

My view is that it will be 54% remain, 46% leave. But I'm just as in the dark as everyone else!


Some thoughts on the referendum : Stars and Duds

Some people have starred in the campaigns and others have been found wanting. Here's my round-up.


Ruth Davidson - Anyone who followed the Scottish referendum debates knows that the Scottish Tory leader is a star with a big crossover appeal. She's like an a completely authentic Boris Johnson with appeal but none of the perceived faults. She was great in the big BBC debate and was a surprise to some.

Sadiq Khan - Also at the BBC debate the new London Mayor shone calling the Leave campaign 'Project Hate'. Together with Ruth Davidson they really made a big impression for the Remain campaign, where as the Remain campaign was lacklustre on the ITV debate.

Andrea Leadsom - Was very good at both debates with common sense responses, though overdid the 'as a mother...' line. Maybe a future star of the Tory party.

Gisela Stuart - Has always been an impressive backbencher for Labour, she impressed at both debates making the good leave arguments.

Michael Gove - Firm and assured with courteousness, he would be my choice for next PM. Logical without invective.

Dominic Raab - Another Leaver who made sensible points in a calm measured way.


David Cameron - The PM is very good when on his own talking to an audience and he was good again. Unfortunately all 'project fear' has wasted a lot of the good will to him. If Remain wins, he will be a confirmed winner. If Leave wins he will have ruined his career.

Boris Johnson - Had plenty of chances to shine but was generally outperformed by others at the debates. The one time he shone was at the end of the BBC debate where he got a standing ovation.


George Osborne - The punishment budget, the dodgy statistics (£4300 per household worse off by 2030) for project fear have severely weakened the chancellor. Other times he has come back from it, but I don't think he can this time. Expect to see him immediately resign if Leave win, and be moved if Remain wins.

Alan Johnson - The leader of Labour Remain. Where was he? Didn't see him at all. All those saying that he was the best PM we never had, had better have a rethink.

Jeremy Corbyn - Again he was useless. He didn't believe in Remain and would have been more convincing if he'd gone for Leave, though his parliamentary party would be out for more blood.

Nigel Farage - The man who has worked for so many years for this opportunity became a liability as did the Leave.EU compaign. Bad posters bordering on racism has no place in UK politics. One would think he didn't want to win this campaign - more on that later.

Special mention

Dan Hannan - He has been making great Leave debating points, videos and arguments for years. It's a shame he wasn't used in any of the main debates because he is a star when talking about the decrepit EU.


Some thoughts on the EU referendum: The campaigns

The EU referendum campaign has come to an end and so I'm going to give some thoughts on it before the result is declared.

I don't think either campaign has done justice to their case.

The Remain campaign went far too far with doom and gloom. By going so heavy with predictions on everything getting worse such as GDP, employment, house prices, and even the impact on bees they made arses of themselves. If they had been more temperate in their views and saying that Britain would be worse off if we left and there would be some turmoil, I think they could have gotten away with being believed.

£4300 per household worse off by 2030 was the worst statistic used by remain. It was split as GDP per household, a completely bogus metric which isn't used anywhere else. Who knows the number of households by then, especially as this didn't take account of current levels of migration.

The worst move was George Osborne's threat of an emergency budget. Everyone knows that if we leave it will take at least 2 years for it to take happen, and so this had only one effect. It trashed the Chancellor's remaining credibility with half the Tory party and the public. I used to quite like him, now I wanted him moved or sacked.

The worst aspect of the remain campaign was that there was absolutely nothing positive at all. When confronted by this, they just said more jobs etc. (which cannot be disproved or affirmed) before going back to rubbishing leave.

Now that I've complained about it, I think it has worked to some extent and people are scared shitless to leave. A lot of people think there will be mass unemployment and disaster if we leave.It's such a shame.

The Leave campaign kept a few simple messages, but some of these could be easily challenged by commentators.

The worst was the £350m we send every week to the EU. It's not true, it's more like £275m of which we get a third back. If they had started with £275m then commentators would not have been able to challenge it and say its a lie. Maybe, though, it's my naivety though because, apparently, £350m was the one item of both campaigns that stuck in people's minds.

As someone on the Leave side, I was disappointed by the focus on  immigration. Of course this was part of the wider but more intangible argument around sovereignty, but it was a negative and could be perceived as racist by anybody wanting to! Of course, if Leave wins then immigration probably won it, but it is a shame. The focus on Turkey was a shame, it may be true that they will join before we have a chance of another referendum but they are not going to imminently join.

The good side of Leave was that there were some positives about trading with the rest of the world. It's a message that works for me. I don't think the argument of how the custom's union works was explained well enough making it easy for Remain to scare people that EU trade will be turned off if we Brexit.

The one argument that was not made well enough at all was that the EU is on a certain path. It has been since inception and nothing is changing that. Our biggest threat was this referendum and to possibly leave but they couldn't account for any significant change of direction even with this threat. If we remain we will be discounted as all talk. It should have been said that if people genuinely believe in a United States of Europe then they should vote Remain, otherwise they should vote Leave - give the EU the shake it needs to reform itself.

Both campaigns were poor and people are voting on prejudice (immigration or economy) rather than facts, it's a shame as it could have been so much more impressive.