Saturday 16 September
“All I can say is, thank God we’re leaving”, exclaimed Nigel Farage at the State of the (European) Union address in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Britain’s one-time solitary insurgent against the faceless Eurocracy is now one of the European Parliament’s elder statesmen, sitting atop the right side of history. Where he leads, others follow, including the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker.
In his address, a few moments earlier Mr Juncker had sought to pre-empt Farage’s inevitable rebuke by belittling Britain’s era-defining vote to leave the EU. “We will keep moving on because Brexit isn’t everything, it is not the future of Europe”, he said.
This was the line leapt upon by the media. Juncker’s new and genuinely improved position on migration less so: “When it comes to returns, people who have no right to stay in Europe must be returned to their countries of origin”, a line straight out of the Farage playbook, albeit one lacking signature panache.
But the Commission President is a step behind his fellow elites in European capitals. The Times revealed today a proposal drawn up by France, Germany, Austria and Denmark with the support of Norway to be allowed to suspend Schengen for periods of up to four-years under “exceptional circumstances”, spelling the demise for the borderless zone.
Juncker’s Commission is railing against the Franco-German plan for the reintroduction of border checks, which are currently limited by the EU to a mere six months.
Eurofanatics are now feverishly attempting to resurrect David Cameron’s dream of “remaining and reforming”. Preposterous. The UK is not even in Schengen. At issue for most Brexit voters is the total absence of sovereign power to restrict residency to EU citizens. In any case, internal EU frontiers are often porous, with or without controls. For instance, the Berlin truck attacker Anis Amri managed to sneak past checks at the Italian border before being gunned down by police in Milan.
As ever, it is the voters themselves who define the mood, and the pathway for future policy. An Ipsos Mori poll released today revealed only 21% of citizens worldwide view immigration positively. Negative sentiment is strongest in Europe, particularly in Hungary (5%), Italy (10%), Belgium (14%), France and Germany (both 18%).
Very slowly (too slowly), the Establishment is waking up to the real world we live in. Today, yet another terror attack. This time on the London Underground, injuring 22 people. But our rulers’ doziness is not limited to our security.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May fell victim to repeated broadsides at the hands of Jeremy Corbyn, who for once, did a half-decent job at pointing out that near-full employment counts for little if pay is too low.
Brexit should of course cut the flow of cheap labour, allowing wages to rise, a simple law of economics receiving too little attention. Maybe that is about to change. The cavalry rode into town midweek with former Bank of England Governor Lord King, James Dyson, Ringo Starr, and the new US Ambassador to the UK (see image below) all making optimistic cases for an independent Britain.
Appearing on Newsnight, Lord King proposed a second “capable” team of civil servants be assembled to focus on maximizing the benefits of Brexit should the EU decide not to sign a trade deal and fall back on WTO rules and tariffs. Disdainfully questioned on his equivocal position during the referendum campaign by host Evan Davis, Lord King replied:
“In the long run, I didn’t think the economic consequences would be very different if we left than if we stayed in just the same way that I don’t think joining transformed the British economy.
“I also said that If you’re going to enter a negotiation, it’s actually very important to make sure that the other side of the table knows that you have a fallback position that you’re capable of delivering”.
Captain of British industry James Dyson informed listeners on the Today Programme that his company already pays the WTO tariff to sell goods into the Single Market before explaining that the Single Market is anything but (click here to hear what he said, well worth a listen).
Ringo Starr selected the sovereignty route, “I think it’s a great move to be in control over your own country”, he told Newsnight.
A star of a different kind, Jacob Rees-Mogg chipped in on LBC with his devastating appraisal of the European Commission President’s speech: “a United States of Europe is Juncker’s dream, but it is everyone else’s nightmare”, he said.
The pro-Brexit onslaught overshadowed somewhat the historic vote on Monday night in favour of the EU withdrawal bill, which passed 326 to 290. Special thanks to those Brexiteers sitting on the opposition benches, Kate Hoey, Frank Field, Ronnie Campbell, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, and Graham Stringer. Caroline Flint abstained. Labour’s treasonous attempt to block the bill failed 318 to 296.
In economic news: labour market figures confounded Project Fear predictions as the unemployment rate hit a stunning 42-year low with the UK on course to enjoy the highest employment rate in the western world; it was a good week for the City as a new survey once again put London at the top of the global financial industry as job volume in financial services surged and the value of assets managed in the UK was found to have increased by 20% in the last year; and even more large businesses affirmed their commitment to Brexit Britain as Dulux pledged £100m in investment for a new paint plant and Airbnb reported an 80% leap in visitors to Britain.