Author Archives: Arnold Kiel

Let us Celebrate European Democracy!

The European elections on May 26 are primarily seen as a problem best avoided for Britain on its way out, and an untimely complication for a people’s vote to remain. Even Remainers are surprisingly shy about them. Conventional wisdom says that the UK must first sort its membership question before a possible participation in these elections should be considered. I am arguing for the exact opposite.

A passionately fought election campaign for the UK seats in the European Parliament would be the meaningful People’s Vote. It would force the British public to have an overdue debate at a moment when public knowledge, interest, and passions are at a historic peak. It could divert the hitherto unproductive debate from in/out of the caricature of an organization to the question: in which direction and with which allies do we want our MEPs to push the EU?

For the first time, EU-minded candidates can make their case for remain and reform in a manner that will be noticed; pro-EU voters will, for the first time, see the purpose of the institutions, and the importance of sending constructive contributors as their MEPs. These candidates will surely compete against a full UKIP-field, which will struggle much more than in the past to promote its destructive agenda. Their old claims have been substantially debunked, and their old advantage from asymmetric mobilization should be gone. Besides, with the membership question still open at that point, sending Europhobes to the European Parliament makes little sense: if the UK remains, rebuilding relationships in Brussels and other capitals must be the UK’s top priority; otherwise, British MEPs serve no further purpose.

The Conservatives would be very hard pressed to field candidates and campaign. How shall they position themselves? Fielding UKIP-clones makes little sense and would be unlikely to succeed. But how would they campaign “positively, just in case”?

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The Brexit nightmare is dead

To paraphrase a man whose name I shall never again say or write.

The UK cabinet, with collective responsibility supposedly fully restored, made the following statements within 24 hours on no deal: “make sure that there’s adequate food supplies”, “obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure”, “that kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media, to the extent that the public pay attention to it, I think is unhelpful”, “well, I think that’s a rather irresponsible thing to be coming from the other side. We ought to be trying to reassure citizens on the continent …

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“Let’s take back control of our money and fund the NHS instead”

Sounds familiar? Time to make some sense of this slogan.

As shown here before, Brexit has already, and, if carried through, will continue to inflict massive economic damage to UK household incomes, tax revenues, and public spending potential.

According to the Bank of England, the British GDP is already £20 billion smaller than it would have been after a remain-vote. This is consistent with the 0.5% GDP growth underperformance of the UK compared to the G7 since 2016 (1% of GDP is equivalent to £20 billion). Given the UK’s previous position at the top of the G7 growth …

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Taking back control of our laws? A reality check, part 3

Following Part 1: Money, Part 2: Borders

The Government’s leaked impact assessments also summarise the economic impact of regulatory divergence: a gain of 0-1.3% of GDP, depending on the study and the pursued policy. The higher number would require repeal of elements across social-, environmental-, energy-, consumer-protection, product-standards, climate-change, air-safety, or banker bonus caps. A majority for such measures is unlikely even among leave-voters, and Government and opposition have already stated that they have no such intentions.

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Taking back control of our borders? A reality check, Part 2

No leading Brexiter has problems with goods, services, and capital flowing freely. They even want to leave the “protectionist club” EU, even though part of the leave-vote in deprived regions has been caused by the capital exodus that replaced local industry with imports. I will nevertheless focus on the leaver-“concern” people.

The borders of any island are “controlled” by the departure- and arrival- (in case of expulsion) approvals of countries across the water. In a rule-based order, e.g. the EU, other countries execute the UK’s wishes, and thereby underpin the widespread national border-controllability-illusion. The growing refugee-crisis should make the contingent nature of these conventions abundantly clear. Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, etc. will not absorb Millions of people forever. Ironically, an island-mentality impedes the realisation that the continent’s physically enforceable land borders are much less reliant on international rules than UK beaches.

Leaving this aside, border control has a pull and a push-aspect: attracting people you want and repelling the others. Brexit certainly has not helped the former, but let us focus on the latter which is widely regarded as the problem at hand.

To inspect the effectiveness of push-strategies, it is instructive to look at non-EU immigration: Despite official hostility, barbaric retentions, unjustifiable expulsions, inhumane income thresholds, asymmetric legal recourse, nonsensical student-counting, and arbitrary quotas, the Home Office has consistently missed its target. The absence of a civilised, sensible, and effective immigration policy where “full control” already exists, is quite remarkable. There must be strong economic and social forces at work that dwarf the means of a committed Government. 

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Taking back control of our money? A reality check, part 1

In 20 months, all the British Government did was initiate an unprepared Brexit and sign two entirely EU-written documents. Not only did the Government waste valuable time with Tory-internal, constitutional, and other unwinnable disputes; it also drags any material clarification about Britain’s post-Brexit state beyond March 29 2019 into the so-called implementation phase. The intent is to sleepwalk the country over the point of no return, unable to reality-check any Brexit-promise they continue to uphold against all likelihood and their better knowledge. This tactic has the convenient side-effect of limiting the practicality of a timely “first referendum on the facts”.

Nevertheless, …

Posted in Op-eds | 69 Comments

OBR on Brexit: time for fearless Brexiters to face project reality

The budget discussion concentrates on the recent growth reassessment by the OBR. Bad enough as that is, a fuller picture emerges if one compares their recent estimates with its last pre-Brexit report from autumn 2015.

The Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Koeln has done so and compared the OBR’s growth estimates for 2016-2020 at those two points in time:

Cumulative growth 2016-2020 (%):   2015 report   2017 report   shortfall
GDP   12.6   7.6   -5.0
Private consumption   12.8   7.7   -5.1
Business investment   39.2   9.4   -29.8
Posted in Op-eds | 36 Comments

Unconditionally surrender to the EU or be a failed state

The fact that Brexit will be a total disaster brought about by deceitful propaganda and an illegitimate, undemocratic procedure, is now firmly established. Brexiteers, if you are not yet ready for reality: print and read in 2 years.

The election has produced a bigger remain-majority in Parliament:

“Hard Brexit” is a logically consistent, albeit disastrous, course of action. “Soft Brexit” is a nonsensical placeholder for the other logically consistent and only sensible course of action (until that becomes permissible to think and speak): “Stop Brexit”. Interpreting Labor-votes as endorsing “Hard Brexit” is ridiculous and desperate. “Soft” is the tactically smart “Stop”. A second referendum is a similar placeholder: systemically more consistent but electorally less effective.

Coming events will produce a bigger remain-majority in the general public:

Posted in Op-eds | 74 Comments

Is the Euro a good reason for Euroscepticism and Brexit?

I often read here that the Euro has pushed Southern Europe, and indirectly somewhat also the UK, into misery and that the EU is therefore a doomed project that must be left. I could not disagree more.

Greece did not develop any competitive employment, especially for the qualified, since joining the EU 1981. Its dominant public and partially closed private sectors do not have the economic structures of a developed industrialized country. Strong growth in the last ten years has been based on public and private consumption financed by the EU and an uncontrolled amassment of debt. The disappearance of cheap money and the resulting fall in demand have brought record unemployment perpetuated by structural standstill.

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Meet the new Brexit actors: facts, realism, truth


“This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.” If the second part of the PM’s sentence had been true, there would have been no need to state it. Therefore it isn’t. Revocation of Article 50 by a British Government would be the ultimate vote of confidence in the EU. Europe would never pass on that opportunity. Therefore the campaign continues.

In the first phase of the Brexit-campaign until now, Leave’s weapons (unsubstantiated dreams, outright lies, fraudulent slogans, the opinion press), were more effective than Remain’s (appreciation of a status quo, plausible but uncertain projections, the information press).

The EU will conduct the negotiations publicly, and thereby also force the UK Government into the open. All dreams, lies and slogans will be exposed; Remain will rearm with powerful, hitherto unavailable or ineffective weapons: facts, realism and truth.

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How the UK economy’s key sectors link into the EU’s single market

A report with this title was released last week by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for Open Britain.

This report was somewhat shyly presented by cautious Remainers as a case against sectoral EU-negotiations. More importantly, however, it makes a compelling case for continued full membership in the European single market.

It should be mandatory reading for everyone who still believes that:

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Opportunities? Brexiteers, please specify

The motives and backgrounds of leave-voters are by now sufficiently understood to conclude that many of them cannot afford to and would not have voted for becoming substantially and permanently poorer. Some may, but had it been widely understood that Brexit comes at a high economic price for everybody, the result would have been a different one.

Apparently, most leavers dismissed the economic arguments of remain, and instead of asking for better arguments from leave bought the “scaremongering”-claim (admittedly, leave was much better at creating slogans). And this continues: leave already claims victory on the economy after 6 months in which nothing (apart from a 15% devaluation of the country) has happened. Luckily, consumers so far remain complacent and keep spending.

I know the typical response I can expect from Brexiteers: unsubstantiated claims (“see the opportunities”, “champions of free trade”…), denial (“Q3 was good”), fluffy sovereignty-talk (“Brussels”), and pressure (“how dare you not respecting the will of the people?”). Is that all you have got?

May I challenge you to think a little harder? Specify trading opportunities the UK currently misses because of EU membership, which outweigh the losses from leaving the single market. In other words: How and when will you have replaced the benefits of preferential access to 27 EU member states and the EUs’ 53 third-country agreements with higher yielding UK-deals? How and when will you recover the transitional losses? Will the current generation of young people recover from the damage within their professionally active lifetime? No leave-campaigner has ever presented any such case. Can you?

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A populist Parliament


I am a German citizen and UK resident. I am also a fan, but not a member of the Liberal Democrats.

I appreciate your party’s stance on Brexit, but I urge you to go further:

Stop expressing misguided respect for a misguided referendum result. People want and deserve a better life, and you know Brexit will give them the opposite: Brexit impoverishes, endangers, brutalizes, and kills.

An MP voting with the Government on triggering Article 50 against his or her conscience is worse than Johnson or Farage, because he or she will not only be a populist, but will irreversibly go down in history as a legislating populist. MPs must protect the country and its people from harm, also and especially if self-inflicted.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 62 Comments

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