BBC hides Express headline from news roundup

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German Push for EU Army

They told us that an EU army was just a fantasy – a nightmare dreamed up by eurosceptics to frighten the children.  Nick Clegg himself assured us that the idea of a European Army was “a dangerous fantasy”.

But of course it’s always been part of the plan.  Now Macer Hall of the Express – an indomitable newshound who has broken many EU stories – reports on documents showing that Germany is actively planning for an EU Army that would bring the British Army under the control of Brussels. Ian Duncan Smith says it’s alarming that our government is pressing the British people to agree to something that involves surrendering control of our national defences.

If you wanted a single, overwhelming reason why we must vote for Brexit, this is it.  But of course it fits perfectly with German strategy.  After the trauma of the Second World War, Germany wanted to be seen as a good citizen, and European integration had the laudable objective of tying Germany in to broader structures which would prevent any recurrence of German militarism.  But if Germany is now proposing the creation of an EU army – in which Germany would be a dominant force, as it is in other areas of EU policy – then European integration could lead to exactly the outcome it was designed to prevent.  We must stop this from happening.  The only way is Brexit.

Where was the BBC?  The BBC provides daily images of thefront pages of national newspapers.But for some reason the Express’ explosive story somehow got missed off the list today.  Can anyone suggest why?  Answers on a post-card, please…

“It’s your choice: the EU, or the NHS”

Senior medical consultant Angus Dalgleish has issued a stark warning on the damage which EU membership – and the TTIP trade deal – could do to the NHS, reports the Express.  This follows on from yesterday’s reports that secret EU documents obtained by Greenpeace Netherlands give a strong hint that EU and US governments would regularly review the status of “government enterprises and monopolies” with a view to opening them to the market. This flies in the face of assurances from the European Commission and our Westminster government that the NHS would be protected in any transatlantic trade deal.

Get your facts right, Greg

Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has resurrected the claim that Brexit would cost jobs – though interestingly, and perhaps concerned that Project Fear has entered the realms of  counter-productive self-parody, he has dropped the repeated claim about “3 million jobs”, and opted instead for 100,000.

In the same statement he makes the extraordinary claim that the EU’s Single Market is “the most complete commitment to free trade that exists”, and that leaving would lead to higher prices for consumers.  It is really worrying that a senior minister has such a limited understanding of the EU.  Far from “a commitment to free trade”, the EU is in fact a Customs Union (a rather 19th Century form of economic structure) which is downright protectionist, and is surrounded by a “Common External Tariff” which flies in the face of free trade, and puts prices in Britain up, not down.

Does the EU raise or lower prices? Various claims have been made in the referendum debate, Remain arguing that EU membership saves British households £450 a year, while Leave has claimed that membership has increased prices for consumers.  Channel Four Fact Check has examined these claims, and it finds that “the most dubious number is that £450 per household per year”. The Remain camp arrived at their figure by looking at research on United States trade from 1972 to 2001, which they attempt to read across to the EU.  So it’s more than fifteen years old, and arguably irrelevant.

The estimated savings are based on the concept of “variety gains” – in other words, if you have more sources to choose from, you have a better chance of finding a cheaper offer.  They ignore that fact that trade liberalisation would very probably have occurred without the EU; that the Common External Tariff has exactly the opposite effect – making accessing cheaper goods on a global basis more difficult; they ignore the massive regulatory costs in the EU which drive up prices; they ignore EU energy policies which add to the cost of every shopping basket in the country.

The only question remaining: is Greg Hands simply ignorant, or is he deliberately misleading?  I suspect both.

Turkey: Visa-free access by July?

The BBC reports that the European Commission is about to recommend visa-free access to the Schengen Area for 79 million Turkish citizens as early as July of this year – about eight weeks away. It is quite extraordinary (and alarming) that Angela Merkel has allowed Turkish President Erdogan to back her into a corner where she – and the European Commission – have no option but to accede to Turkish demands.  Checkmate.  Visa free access or we open the door to migrants to allow them into Greece and the EU, says Turkey.

The proposal still has to pass the European parliament, where there are serious concerns about human rights and free speech in Turkey.  No prizes for guessing which way I shall be voting.

The Remain Camp will try to reassure us that we have nothing to fear, as we’re not in Schengen.  The deal would apply for short visits and would not allow the Turks to work in the EU.   But the consequences of relaxed immigration in the EU will pretty soon turn up on a street near you, and it would be naïve to imagine otherwise.

On the immigration question, an important clarification from the Leave Campaign which we would do well to keep in mind: when the Remain side says “We control our borders”, they mean we do passport checks.  But we are totally unable to refuse entry to so-called “EU citizens”.

Cameron should apologise to Donald Trump?

In the race for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump has just scored a stunning victory in Indiana, and his last remaining challenger Ted Cruz has quit. Trump now looks like a racing certainty for the nomination.  This is worrying, as polls show that he would probably lose against his likely democratic opponent Hilary Clinton (though he could well win against Bernie Sanders, who has just beaten Hilary in Indiana .

But it’s a difficult call.  Many Republicans are seriously turned off by Trump, and may desert him and their party.  But he may appeal to many uncommitted voters and previous non-voters.  Time will tell.  Trump is no free trader, but I suspect he would be more open to a deal with the UK than the present incumbent.

Meantime a Mail front page story reports that Trump’s team has called on David Cameron to apologise for calling Trump “divisive, stupid and wrong”. Cameron is perfectly entitled to disagree with Trump, but maybe he should use more restrained language about a possible US President.

Cameron & Boris: not such good friends?

The rift between former buddies David Cameron and Boris Johnson over Brexit was yesterday’s story, but the Guardianis still reflecting on it, with a thoughtful piece on friendships between long-serving politicians. But perhaps Cameron should be more concerned about the rift between himself and his party than about his spat with Boris.  Many Conservatives are hopping mad that what they once considered a Eurosceptic party is now the mouthpiece for Brussels.

Cameron is stuck between Scylla and Charybdis: Lose the referendum and he loses his job.  Win it, and he loses a big chunk of his party.

Meantime a short piece the Sun’s front page undermines Cameron’s blether about “a reformed EU”.  Repeating a story which the Express covered a while ago,  it says that only one in ten EU immigrants is claiming in-work benefits, and therefore that the effect of the PM’s ban would be trivial.  Others have pointed out that the “pull factor” of Osborne’s “living wage” will far outweigh any disincentive on welfare benefits.  The PM’s “EU renegotiation” is unravelling as we watch.

Can the EU be reformed?

See Robin Horsley’s seven-minute video of his interview with me on this question:

 

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