Tag Archives: brexit

Controlled migration with free movement – squaring the circle

No matter how we try and fool ourselves, migration issues played a substantial part in the Leave vote, and many Remain voters, myself included, voted to remain despite reservations about immigration levels. Doubtless racism played a part, perhaps 2 million of those Leave votes representing the percentage that the BNP received in 2009. The racists didn’t stop being racist, they simply moved to a new home. But over 90% of the 33 million voters were not racists.

When you dig down further as to why people are concerned about migration there is a common theme. As a country we have hugely expensive housing whether buying or renting. We have a creaking and overcrowded public transport infrastructure that is painful to negotiate and roads with commuter jams at 6:00am. We have a healthcare system that cannot cope with the demand yet struggles to pay off PFI stupidity promoted by Brown. We have schools that cannot deliver the quality our kids deserve and in some areas are hamstrung by the number of children with a poor grasp of basic English. Our infrastructure was not built for the numbers of people now trying to use it, and yet still more come in never-ending numbers. Patience has snapped and we must deal with it.

Freedom of movement is a precious right, for me probably the most important, although when it was first established it was reasonably balanced. The freedom to import labour at will, whether for agriculture or high tech projects, is critical to our economic success. And the EU will not allow us the benefits of unfettered access to the free market without freedom of movement whatever fantasyland Boris is currently living in. So we are in a near impossible position. What we need in terms of free trade relies on conceding free movement that we cannot cope with.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Sir Graham Watson writes…Is there a way back from the Brexit decision?

What happens now?

Initial reactions in London and Brussels have been stark, along the lines of ‘Out means Out’. Will they change with more considered reflection? As the foreign ministers gather in Berlin today and the leaders of Germany, France and Italy meet on Monday to prepare Tuesday’s European Council (‘summit’) meeting, economic interests may have started to impinge on political considerations. It seems most likely, however, that when David Cameron arrives in Brussels on Tuesday he will find his 27 counterparts almost all singing from the same (German-language) hymn sheet.

In a statement Friday by the Presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission it is made clear that there can be no further renegotiation and that the concessions made to Cameron in February are now null and void. The summit can be expected to rubber-stamp this.

The most Cameron can hope for is a period of 12 weeks for the UK to sort out the shitstorm which will now be unleashed by the most calamitous case of self harm in Britain’s democratic history. The EU Treaties leave it up to the country which seeks to leave to decide when and if to invoke Article 50, to start the formal process of withdrawal. But the continental clamour for it will be deafening. Britain’s footdragging, wheel-spoking and taking home of wicket in recent years has drained any patience or sympathy our partners might once have felt.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 48 Comments

A new Union of Democratic Control?

It may be a mistake, but in my idiosyncratic way, I tend to approach the present – and the future – through the past.

So I feel the need to point out at this time, that in 1914 during the earliest days of the First World War, there arose within the British Left a movement called the ‘Union of Democratic Control’, one of whose prime movers was a Liberal Radical journalist called ED Morel. (He had already led a very interesting life, and went to have a short but even more interesting life subsequently, including both imprisonment and beating Winston Churchill as a candidate in a General Election).

The UDC initially had three aims: to subject to scrutiny in the House of Commons the secret pacts and war aims agreed between the UK and its allies as pan-European war broke out; to push for a negotiated settlement to prevent conflict escalating into mass loss of life, and to investigate the influence of the arms trade upon UK politicians.

Needless to say, in the short term, their campaign was not successful and was regarded with suspicion and official opposition.
But their guiding principle – that the nation had a right to have its foreign policy and strategy debated by its democratic parliament for its moral and ethical worth – was fundamentally right.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Johnson and Gove, like Trump, believe in the magical power of the word


In a recent analysis  in the Washington Post of why Republican voters keep on supporting Trump and his “macho gone beserk”-rhetoric, the veteran American political analyst E.J. Dionne cited a classic book about Right-Wingers and their rhetoric, what they believe their phrases can accomplish.

The social scientists Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab observed in their classic book from 1970 “The Politics of Unreason/ Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970” that:

Right-wing extremists have always highlighted ‘the magical power of the word’ and the faith that just saying the right thing, believing the right thing, is the substance of victory and remedy.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Jo Cox: Brexit is no answer to real concerns on immigration

As part of our tributes to Jo Cox, we’re linking to this article in the Yorkshire Post, published last Friday. In it, Jo Cox very persuasively argues that Brexit will not solve concerns over immigration. She accepts that those concerns are genuine – sincere worries about pressures on GP surgeries or schools.

But she explains that Brexit will not answer the concerns and calls for practical steps to improve the situation.

Posted in Europe Referendum | Also tagged , and | 15 Comments

Official, authoritative Dutch government calculations: “Every Dutch citizen stand to lose 1000 euros through a Brexit”


The morning papers in the Netherlands and NOS (our BBC)  all reported last week on a report of the government’s Centraal Plan Bureau (CPB = Central Planning Office, authoritative since its start in the late 1940’s like your IFS; they seldom are far off the mark in their predictions). I base this piece on articles in De Volkskrant (our Guardian) and Financiele Dagblad (equivalent of the Financial Times) and the NOS news website. It makes for worrisome reading.

The immediate effect of a Brexit is, according to the report, that it will cost 1.2% of GDP by 2030, that is, 575 euro per Dutch citizen. Indirect consequences like loss of innovation because of lower trade can increase that by 65%, to 1000 euro each. The damage will be sector specific; the most seriously affected (around 5% loss) will be

  • the chemical sector (that is for example DSM, and our petrochemical sector near Rotterdam);
  • electronics (Philips, just now specializing in expensive medical technologies);
  • food processing (our emblematic dairy industry: Friesland Foods and our extensive chicken and pork breeding industry; in Brabant province there are more pigs than humans).
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 28 Comments

Brexiters have nowhere to hide on crime, policing, terror and intelligence

With the Brexit debate currently focusing on the question of trade, Brexiters are able to wrongly claim that the UK would enjoy better trade agreements outside the EU, sooner or later. This exercise in hand waving complacency is not available when it comes to our security.

This is not just about the European Arrest Warrant, responsible for the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 27 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Pearce 2nd Jul - 12:45am
    Glenn, freedom of movement is an issue because Leave have made it an issue. We are in an insane position because they failed to explain...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 2nd Jul - 12:11am
    "People who voted leave should be ashamed of themselves" The overwhelming majority of people who voted Leave are not racist and do not condone this...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 1st Jul - 11:55pm
    @ Chris Bertram. Well said. Migration is vital to the economic and social well-being of this country. Immigration policy needs to be generous in spirit,...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 1st Jul - 11:23pm
    The Party has played a blinder in the last fews days, serving as a centre point for people who want to live in an open,...
  • User AvatarAndy Hinton 1st Jul - 11:21pm
    I'm late to this party, but: Holly is right, fighting the liberal fight on immigration means properly addressing the challenges created by migration, rather than...
  • User AvatarCassieB 1st Jul - 10:51pm
    Bill > As it is here is where we are one week on: When absolutely nothing has changed (i.e. we are still in the EU)...