Breaking News: Queen Backs Brexit!

In a shock revelation,  the Sun has revealed that the Queen is a secret but passionate supporter of the Leave campaign.

In a conversation with the then deputy prime minister,  Nick Clegg,  five years ago,  she is alleged to have said:

“Who are you?  The trademan’s entrance is over there!…….”   Followed by,   “I’ve never liked those Germans, you know,  especially that pushy  Saxe-Coburg and Gotha lot.  Why do you think I changed my name to Windsor?”

“As for the Greeks,  they’re a coarse, greasy race;   trust me,  I know!”

New Revelations

News is just coming in of backing for the Leave campaign from an even more important quarter.

A senior Leave campaign spokesman, who would only reveal himself as ‘Nigel’,  reported the following incident.

“I was driving home from the Duck and Dog after five or six pints when suddenly there was this bright light!

“I got out the car and heard this deep booming voice saying, ‘Merkel! Merkel! Why persecuteth thou me? ‘  and then I saw this ladder leading up to Heaven filled with Syrian refugees;   only they were all economic migrants and not asylum seekers.”

“Then it all disappeared,  and there was this bright flashing blue light and the sound of what I took to be heavenly trumpets.  And another deep voice said,  “Could you just blow into this, sir?”.    Then all went black.”

Neither ‘Nigel’ nor Allah were available for comment this morning, but in a printed statement from Paradise,   a spokesman said,  “Mr Blair does not normally comment on this kind of thing unless a very large fee is involved.”

Reuters.

 

 

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A new ‘Cautionary Tale’ from Hilaire Belloc

In the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, quoting the Anglo-French writer, Hilaire Belloc accused the PM of being like the ‘boy who wants to keep a-hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse’, . Apart from the fact that the boy, Jim, was actually torn to pieces by a lion, which makes it a rather inappropriate metaphor for leaving the EU, it seems that Mr Rees-Mogg should be better acquainted with more of Hilaire Belloc’s work, a lesser known example of which I append below:

ReesMogg
Jacob… who disliked all foreigners and tried to bring  his country to ruin and perdition in consequence…

There was a boy whose name was Jake,
-His parents believed him a mistake-
But as they had a lot of dosh,
They brought him up to be quite posh.
From Eton, then to Trinity,
His parents paid his every fee.
And friends said, “He’ll go very far,
With such a very famous pa!”
And so, on gaining 23,
He was appointed an MP.
The forelock tugging voters thought,
A gent like this, is whom we sought!

But Jacob from his earliest years,
Had always had irrational fears.
And even at the age of one,
He said, “Mama, I loathe the Hun!”
And when he met the French or Dutch,
He didn’t like it very much!
And so, ’twas Jacob’s special failing,
To emulate his friend, Chris Grayling.
He wanted Britain as a nation,
To live in splendid isolation.
No matter that would mean decline,
He thought, ‘For me it will be fine,
And all my eurosceptic mates,
Will think that I am really great!

Alas, and so as Jake would fix it,
The country moved towards a Brexit,
And Boris joined him in his quest,
(He always liked a hearty jest)

But now,the warning in my tale,
Young Jacob’s bid was bound to fail,
He thought his voters were all yobs,
And cared not if they lost their jobs,
Nor if the country went quite bust,
Not if his worthy cause was just.

In June came referendum day,
There really is no more to say,
Poor Jacob lost and now will rue,
His hatred for the old EU.

For sad to say, for this omission,

He’s President of the Commission!

Hilarious Belloc

belloc

 

 

Will 400,000 British pensioners lose their right to free health care in the EU?

There are nearly half a million British people who have chosen to retire in the other 27 countries of the EU in line with the provisions and reciprocal arrangements allowed for in the European treaties.

Apart from a minority of  wealthy individuals who have chosen private health care and private health insurance,  the majority are dependent on the state health schemes in their chosen country.   They are permitted under EU law to join these schemes and the cost is refunded from the UK Department of Health.

If Britain votes to leave, then these arrangements will no longer be guaranteed.  The UK government may decide that as it is no longer in the EU, then it will no longer need to fund the scheme.   Or the country where the pensioner now lives,  may decide that he or she is no longer eligible to join the scheme at all.

Consequences:

If this occurred,  pensioners would only be able to access health care through enormously expensive private health insurance,  which would have to cover 100% of their needs.

Worse,   as no health insurance scheme will cover existing conditions,  those already being treated for cancer, for example, would find their treatment suspended unless they had the means to pay the enormous cost of treatment privately.  As the elderly are likely to have a number of serious existing conditions,  they would be faced with either bankruptcy or being uprooted from their homes to seek treatment back in the UK from the NHS.   In fact, it is worse, as there is no guarantee that they would be immediately entitled to NHS treatment having been absent for some years and with no proven recent residence in the UK.

Scaremongering, aren’t you?

“Ah, ” say the Leave campaign.  “You are scaremongering and this would never happen.  You will be covered under ‘vested rights’.”   But look what happened when I checked out the British government’s own Parliament research paper on the legal consequences of a Brexit, published as recently as February 2016.

Parliamentary report on legal implications of exit BRIEFING PAPER
Number 07214, 12 February 2016

“There is nothing in the EU treaties which states that vested rights
acquired during the currency of the EU treaties would automatically
continue after leaving the EU. Unlike many international treaties, there
is no ‘survival clause’ with rules on the protection of acquired rights
of/against British citizens and businesses and the possible survival of claims based on EU law. “

Concerned by this,   I wrote to my British MP.

I would be grateful for your help in finding some definitive answers and assurances to the following questions.  I have been researching for the past year, with contradictory results and nobody is able to provide me with a clear response..
There are currently, according to the Financial Times, 400,000 Britons claiming their pensions in other EU countries.
We all currently benefit from reciprocal health arrangements in the EU.   For example, this means that I am able to be a member of the French health service scheme which covers 70% of my health costs (although like all in France,   I also have a private health insurance costing 1,500 euros a year,  which covers the remaining 30% of costs.)
As a member of the EU,  Britain refunds the cost of health care for its retired citizens.
The fear is that after a Brexit,  reciprocal arrangements would end,  and that British pensioners would be required to pick up the whole cost of their health care through private health insurance.

Not only would this be enormously  expensive,  unaffordable for most,  but far worse, it would not cover existing conditions, which may well include illnesses  like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so on.

Recent past history is not encouraging, as the French government only ten years ago attempted to prevent non French EU nationals (below pension age)  from belonging to their health system at all.   Many already receiving treatment for cancer found themselves in a position where they faced an end to their treatment.   Only the intervention of the EU courts prevented the French from implementing this change.
After a Brexit,  British citizens, including pensioners, will not be covered by EU law as they will no longer be EU citizens.  Therefore there will be no guarantee that reciprocal health care will continue and there will be no obligation on the French (or any other EU country) to maintain arrangements with British pensioners, particularly if the British themselves decide it is no longer necessary to continue to fund these.
I have heard it argued  that we have ‘nothing to worry about’ as the law of ‘vested rights’ applies,  and therefore obligations entered into under treaty arrangements cannot be removed.  Others including experts in international law, have taken a contrary view.
Reading the recent Parliamentary report with which you will be acquainted,  on the legal implications of leaving the EU,   I find the following paragraph:
There is nothing in the EU treaties which states that vested rights
acquired during the currency of the EU treaties would automatically
continue after leaving the EU. Unlike many international treaties, there
is no ‘survival clause’ with rules on the protection of acquired rights
of/against British citizens and businesses and the possible survival of claims based on EU law. “
Parliamentary report on legal implications of exit  BRIEFING PAPER
Number 07214, 12 February, 2016.
This seems to make it abundantly clear that there is no guarantee that our rights to health care will continue and that there is nothing in the treaty which would ensure this after a Brexit.
For reciprocal health care to continue, it would require the agreement of both the  country of residence and the British government to continue current funding commitments under the EU Treaty.  How will this be achieved?
This is of immense concern to all British pensioners living in the EU, except for those with considerable means.
I have  sunk my entire life savings into exercising my right to free movement under treaties which have existed for more than 40 years, burning my bridges, with the reasonable expectation that treaties which have existed for most of my life are unlikely to be abruptly changed. I have  no home back in the UK and I would be financially ruined if I was forced to move.

There is no way I could afford 100% private health insurance which according to estimates would cost more than  half of my annual pension income.

 British pensioners in the EU are entitled  to the following reassurances:
1.  A commitment by the British government,  that even in the event of a vote to leave in the referendum,  it would guarantee to continue its commitments to pensioners under current reciprocal care arrangements.
Please ask the current Minister for Europe or the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to provide such an assurance.  We need to know BEFORE the referendum what our future will be.
2.  A commitment from the Leave campaign that they would continue to  support and honour the current treaty arrangements affecting British pensioners in Europe.  As someone supporting the Leave campaign,  I would be grateful if you would put that question to those leading the campaign.
3.  An assurance that under Article 50 and the ensuing discussions with other member states that this would be one of the fundamental conditions which the British government would wish to preserve in its future relationship with the EU.
I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you would pass these concerns to the appropriate members of the government.  Please  seek an urgent  response from them.  It is important that such information is made public well before the referendum.

His extremely brief reply was:

“The government will tell you that you are right to be concerned and will not attempt to offer reassurance since it wants to remain.

The Leave campaign cannot promise you anything since it’s not a political party and not seeking office but I’m sure would point out that the sort of un-neighbourly action you fear would provoke reciprocal action on a number of fronts which would be in nobody’s interests. “

Hardly what I would call reassuring!    It seems that half a million British pensioners have a LOT to worry about, especially with the prospect of a post Brexit British government of the right which will want to save money wherever it finds it easy and convenient to do so.

After all,   pensioners living in the EU,  many of whom cannot vote and on whom no UK government is relying for support, are expendable.  Few UK voters will be that concerned about our plight, until we begin to die.  And maybe not even then.  

What ACTUALLY happens if Britain votes LEAVE?

There is something of a myth being spread about what will actually happen if Britain decides to vote Leave in the referendum on June 23rd.

Of course there will be bilateral negotiations between the leaving state and the remaining countries of the EU,  but  much of the detail will be determined in closed session with Britain specifically excluded, as Article 50,  the clause which determines the procedure for a country leaving the EU states:

Article 50
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall NOT participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

The reason this should concern those supporting the Leave campaign is that behind the scenes when discussing what conditions will pertain for a Britain outside the EU,  we have no idea what many of the smaller and most unhappy countries may demand and how far they will block the kind of ‘special deal’ the ‘Leavers’ seem convinced they will get.

 

BUT, surely we will still be able to have full access to the Single Market?  The EU sells more to us than we do to them?

NO!

In laymans terms:

“But Germany, France and Italy won’t stop buying things from the UK if we leave” say the brexiteers, they NEED us, and they won’t put us into a tariff regime, so says the Leave EU camp.

It won’t be a choice, it’s not a case of the EU damaging their imports to be spiteful to a UK that just voted to leave the EU. The fact is that there exists a document called the Treaty of the European Union and it sets out the very foundation of how the 28 member states work and cooperate together. It was part written by the UK and part drafted by UK lawyers.

It was agreed by all Member States that the EU would create a ‘thing’ called the “EU Common External Tariff Regime” for countries outside the EU that wanted to to trade with EU businesses. Different tariffs are in place for different product types. Higher for products the EU doesn’t desperately need and lower for the things it does need desperately like energy for example – which explains why Norway get such a good deal as around half of Norways exports to the EU is oil and gas.

When we tear up our membership card, Article 50 of the Treaty I mentioned comes into force. It says that a country that notifies the EU we are leaving the club all our agreements terminate 24 months after notification. When this happens (potentially summer 2018) we are automatically under the external tariff regime that the UK helped to draft and fully signed up to.

The ONLY way this could be changed is if the Treaty is changed. This requires the agreement of all remaining 27 countries. Many of whom have a referendum lock if there are any changes to the Treaty. It just isn’t feasibly possible to have all the necessary referendums and treaty change agreed by heads of state of 27 nations across Europe in the 2 year time limit.

Meanwhile we could continue to renegotiate the 4,500 plus different product groups that we trade with the EU to try and get lower tariffs on the things we buy and sell. This could take as much as a decade (or longer if other trade negotiations are any guide).

The point is that the UK becoming a part of the EU Tariff Regime (which meets WTO guidelines) is automatic if we elect to Leave and there is nothing that Germany, France or Spain or even the UK can do about it.
Currently we enjoy unlimited trade with the largest trading bloc on the planet free from duties, tariffs or quota and that is my main reason for voting to stay IN the EU.

It’s also worth noting that of all the top ten economies in the world every single one of them with a population of less than one billion people is a member of a continental trade bloc like the EU. Do we really think we are powerful enough to buck the trend of global trade and international economics? I think not. We are pretty good, but not *that* good.

p.s. You won’t find this information in the Fact Free Zone that is the Leave EU campaign, but fact check any of the above if you so wish.

Common Myths From Euroskeptics

See also: http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/category/mythbusters/

1. “We are paying £50 million a day to stay in the EU.”
Fact: net it is £35 million after the rebate. Take away the money we get back from Brussels for agriculture and science, it comes to only £17 million, not expensive for totally free access to a market of half a billion people.

2.  “Britain will still have free access to the single market even if we end free movement.
Fact: No country in the world has full access to the single market without free movement of people.. Both Norway and Switzerland, the two most ‘quoted’ countries as a UK model, have had to accept free movement as one of the prices to trade freely with the EU.

Why would Europe given Britain a special deal which would enable every other country to do the same and destroy the entire single market concept and remove the central element of free movement of people as well as goods and services?

3. “There are 500 million Europeans who can potentially arrive in Britain tomorrow due to rules on free movement.”

Fact:   The 500 million figure Mr Farage loves to quote, includes the 65 million Britons already living in the UK, so is doubly absurd.   Why would 60 million prosperous Germans or 66 million affluent French want to move to Britain.  Or for that matter 59 million Italians or millions of others living comfortable lives in Holland,  Austria,  Sweden and so on.

Free movement is also not synonymous with permanent migration and many come to work for a number of years before returning home or to moving to another EU country.  Many of the 2.2 million British people who have moved to other EU countries have done the same.

Flexibility and freedom to move around is at the heart of the European ideal.

See also: http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/category/mythbusters/

Questions for those who want Britain to abandon Europe

Questions for the Leave Campaign

1. Are you happy to increase business costs as the UK would face the EU’s common external tariff of 10% for cars, and 15% for food?

2. How long will it take the UK to renegotiate trade deals with more than 50 countries with whom we trade on the basis of EU deals?

3. Britain will have to accept many EU regulations in order to trade with it, while having no say over how they are drawn up.  Why do you claim this will not be the case when no country in the world has full access to the Single Market without accepting free movement and all the regulations, and some having to pay a financial contribution to the EU based on the size of their economy?

Myth: The EU cannot impose tariffs because of WTO rules. They need us as the UK has massive trade deficit with EU.

Fact
If we adopted normal WTO trading rules with the EU, as most other countries do, we would face new tariffs on 90% of our exports. This includes a tariff of 10% on cars, around 15% on food and 11% on clothing.

Myth  Europe sells more to us than we do to them so could not afford to make us pay tariffs or restrict our trade access.

Fact
The argument that Britain runs a deficit in exports with the rest of the EU is misleading. Around half of the UK’s total trade is with the EU, but just 10% of EU trade is with the UK.

Furthermore, almost all of Britain’s deficit with the EU comes from trade with Germany and the Netherlands; other countries depend much less heavily on exports to Britain.

Yet decisions about what would happen post Brexit will lie with all 27 remaining countries and many may block any special deals with the UK,  with their veto,  especially those eastern European states who will be most hit by the end of free movement to the UK.

Myth:  Britain pays more than almost all other EU states and is supporting most of the other countries and their economies.

Fact:
The UK is now ninth among Member States in the amount paid per capita. In the event of the UK leaving the EU, the UK’s contributions to the EU budget would still continue in order to gain access to the Single Market.

When you take into consideration the British rebate, the amount received in agricultural subsidies and regional support,  our net contribution to the EU budget is not large and gives us access to a single market of half a billion people.

“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”   Einstein.

How easily we forget. Leave in haste, repent at leisure.

How short are our memories! How quickly things change, for the worse as well as the better. How rapidly we forget how things once were.

Just seventy years ago, Europe lay in ruins after the second most bloody and destructive war in history. Poverty and austerity predominated, people died from starvation and the cold, and economies were destroyed, dependent on American aid for their survival.
Yet within five years, the French and Germans, recognising that war was caused by economic and national rivalries, reached out to each other and formed the European Coal and Steel Community, the foundation for the EU, in 1951.

Just forty years ago, Spain and Portugal were fascist dictatorships, their peoples sunk in poverty and oppression. Greece was a military dictatorship where 3,500 people were detained in ‘torture centres’ and basic civil rights obliterated.

Just 25 years ago, Germany, like the rest of Europe, was still divided, and walls and fences were there to keep people IN the communist tyrannies, not to keep refugees out. What are now EU countries like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary were still controlled by the Soviet Union.

Just 20 years ago, the Balkans were riven with civil war and there was genocide on Europe’s doorstep.

We now take it for granted that today, there is a European Union of 28 states, embodying ALL of these once divided regions. The old Iberian dictatorships are thriving democracies with prosperous and growing economies. despite the nightmares of the 2008 international banking crisis.

A united Germany which transformed its impoverished and crippled eastern sector in only 20 years at a cost of 2 TRILLION euros, now sets an example to the rest and drives the changes.

The other eastern European states, such as Poland, enjoy growth rates reaching 3.5%, and they have been transformed into modern democracies with growing prosperity.

Once war torn, Croatia is now an EU member and Bosnia has applied to join.

While NATO may have defended us from the Soviet threat and acted as the nuclear shield during the darkest days of the Cold War, it was NOT Nato which brought these once warring countries together into a single economic union, nor was it Nato which brought once authoritarian dictatorships in Europe into the fold of democracy and economic revival. That was and continues to be the EU.

But look again at the time scales above. They are short. Things change rapidly. It is so easy to discount the achievements and take all for granted.

Whether we speak of 70, 40, 30 or 25 years, countries which are today friends co-operating with common goals for growth and prosperity, could so easily revert to being enemies, using their economic and military power against each other.

All wars begin with nationalistic economic rivalries, and those who so willingly and eagerly pursue the ‘Leave’ option in Britain, dismiss ther lessons of history at their peril.

Once you turn your back on economic and political co-operation and believe instead that only a narrow, selfish, nationalistic interest is our ‘better future’, do not be surprised if others follow down the path to disaster.

Who can say what our world, and our Europe would be like in 25, 30 or 40 years if we take this path? Everything that has been achieved could unravel so rapidly and return us to the days of the 1930s.

Staying in Europe is about more than so called bureaucratic regulation, more than reclaiming an imagined lost ‘sovereignty’, more than even fears of immigration; it is about our future and the kind of world we hope that our children and children’s children will live in where they can hope to be free, safe and secure.