The Will of the British People is to Remain in the EU

One month ago, the major pro-Europe organisations came together to launch the single combined campaign, “People’s Vote”, i.e. for the British people to have a vote on the final Brexit deal to be proposed by the Government.  It is important to recognise that such a vote is not the organisations’ final objective, but rather the essential mechanism through which the present will of the British people will be expressed. Leavers will argue that this will has already been expressed through the 2016 Referendum.  This brief paper concludes that this has changed and that the present will of the British people is to remain in the EU. Continue reading “The Will of the British People is to Remain in the EU”

What’s the cost of Brexit?

On Wednesday 28 February 2018, campaigners from across Kent descended from a familiar looking battle-bus to deliver a message to Kent County Council. This bus carried the slogan: “Brexit to cost £2,000 million a week” – a different message from its infamous predecessor!

Richard Morris – a SSTIE committee member gave the following speech outside County Hall. Continue reading “What’s the cost of Brexit?”

Will Hutton: The Challenges We Face

The following is a full transcript of the keynote speech by Will Hutton, Political Economist, Writer, Journalist, held at the Remainers to Campaigners workshop on 21st October 2017 in Sevenoaks.

I’m delighted to be here, and delighted to see the two flags. I’m very keen that we should always fly the EU flag alongside the Union Jack. For me the EU flag stands for values that I really care about, and I know most Europeans and most British care about too. These are the values that we have inherited partly from our Christian tradition, and partly from the European Enlightenment. The Aquis Communitaire, the Four Freedoms, Europe’s collective commitment to democracy, the rule of law, evidence-based science, non-fake news, belief in objective reporting, tolerance of the Other, respect for argument, are essential conditions for our wonderful European civilisation.

I’ve been a lifelong European, I learned it on my father’s knee. He landed in Normandy on D-Day plus 8, and he had a few things to say to Nigel Farage about fighting Germans. Continue reading “Will Hutton: The Challenges We Face”

Roaming

One of the EU’s great recent achievements is abolishing mobile roaming charges.

It used to be that when crossing a border within the EU, you’d see the savvy travelers swapping their PAYG SIM cards, while the not-so-astute contract customers would absorb horrendous roaming charges (which they’d only notice on their bills at the end of the month). Continue reading “Roaming”

We are not only the 48%

Many a turning point in history has been decided by a margin smaller than 48%. For instance, the American referendum to use German as their official language (instead of English) was defeated by a narrower margin; and the French referendum to keep the Franc (instead of adopt the Euro) was defeated by a narrower margin. But:- Continue reading “We are not only the 48%”

Chlorinated chicken and more….

Don’t forget, imports from the USA could also mean:-

  • Beef washed in ammonia (american pink slime)
  • Genetically modified food
  • Meat products laced with antibiotics
  • Swine flu (from battery pigs)
  • Flawed drugs testing (FDA)
  • Contaminated blood & blood products
  • Fake Whisky (Jack Daniels could wipe-out our Scottish industry)
  • Fake French Wines from California, labelled “produit de E-U
  • Aggressive marketing (MLM – Pyramid selling – Ponzi schemes)
  • Litigation culture
  • High CO2 emission manufactured goods (outside Paris accord)
  • 3-D printed guns that can kill, but cannot be detected
  • Erosion of personal privacy

And Sajjad Karim has a good blog here of how negotiations with Donald Trump are likely to go: Hey Brexiteers – watch out Liam Fox! – The European public (especially UK citizens) did not want TTIP; we’re unlikely to change our mind now.

Seems the Tories now agree: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4806180/Tories-warn-David-Davies-avoid-trade-deals-US.html

Brexit could be good for little fishes

Strolling along the quiet fishing quay at Scheveningen, I met an old fisherman who said he hoped Brexit would not happen because then they would not be able to fish in English waters. – He himself had already given up fishing and become a lorry driver instead. The Scheveningen commercial fishing fleet consists of about 8 substantial ships (one of them sailing under a German flag), each of which I measured out as typically 70 to 90 meters long. Only a few weeks before they had taken part in a protest at sea against other fleets who had been catching under-size fish. Their slogan: “give little fishes a second chance”

The North Sea is divided according to the 12 Mile coastal zone which is protected by the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 and out of which all foreign fishermen are excluded unless given a special license (very few have this license). Then it is divided by the mid-way line in lieu of the 200 Mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is protected by the United Nations. The continental half of the North Sea is shared by Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France. (https://www.nrc.nl/)

The Dutch fishing industry supports about 600 businesses; employs a crew of 2,000 and is worth about 1 Billion Euro per annum. They mainly fish for Plaice, Sole and Herring. (Herring is as important to the Dutch culture and national identity as is say Grouse or Haggis is to Scotland; they even have a national day to mark the start of the Herring season.) – On the other hand, the British preference is for Haddock and Cod. (Think of how important “Fish & Chips” is to our culture and national identity.)

The eight continental fishing lands get about one third of their catch from the British zone; with the Dutch taking 80% of their Herring, 60% of their Mackerel and 35% of their Plaice from the Western half of the North Sea.  (Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman European Fisheries Alliance: http://fisheriesalliance.eu/) Loosing these sources will hit the Dutch fishing industries hard. One can expect lay-offs, business closures and ships being de-commissioned. (And even with the best will in the world, compensation will be demanded.) – But one can also expect losses on the English side as they lose access to Haddock and Cod which may be in the Eastern Sector.  This can only be good news for the fish as the Herring learn to hide in the West and the Cod learn to hide in the East! – But I cannot imagine any fisherman allowing this situation to last for long. Besides, Dutch Fishermen have been granted Freedom of the City of London in perpetuity for their generous act of feeding Londoners in the havoc that followed the great fire of 1666. This freedom entitles them to land their catch in London for all eternity.

What are our Energy Futures?

Entering the common Electricity & Energy Market is a slow process taking many steps; for instance, it took two decades to agree the European Standard Colour Code for Electricity Wiring. We are now in mid-leap for another step and may well have to change direction in mid-air. The step I am talking about is agreeing the domestic supply voltage.

The Low Voltage Directive, 2014/35/EU, stipulated that the supply should be 230 Volts ±6%. For countries that had previously been on 220 Volts, the transition was easy: legacy equipment had its life expectancy shortened, and replacement products would be better performing. The consumer did not notice the change and everyone wins. But for us, going from 240 down to 230 Volts, it’s not been easy. If we change, life expectancy of legacy products goes up, but performance goes down. If we don’t change, life expectancy of new products will go down. The EU passed Standard EN50160 which allows our supply Voltage to be 230 +10%/-6%. This does not alter the technical reality at all, it just allows European Appliance Manufacturers to sell into the UK. We still have a 240 Volt supply.

Now what happens when you go to the shops to buy “white goods” or Electricity Appliances? The appliance is probably labelled 220-240 Volts, which is a lie, as it is most likely designed to operate at 230 Volts. You either have to shop around for a product specifically designed for the UK market, which is shrinking in relative terms and probably only satisfied by the more expensive high-end products. Or you have to accept market reality, with the caveat that the product will burn-out sooner than expected.

Keith Taylor, our Green MEP, is acutely aware of this problem and suggests complaining to one’s Energy Supplier, the Energy Ombudsman or the Citizens Advice Bureau whenever an appliance bought since 2014 burns-out. (Though I somehow doubt that any of them could be persuaded to take the matter seriously)

This is not the only problem. Energy Companies force, what is often significantly more than 240 Volts, into an increasing number of devices designed to take 230 Volts they need more Capacity. Increased Capacity means more Power Stations; and the difference between accepting the Low Voltage Directive (without the caveats provided by the Standard) and not; amounts to several Power Stations at least the size of Hinkley Point. In other words, if we switched to 230 Volts along with the rest of Europe, we would not need to invest in Hinkley Point.

Power Stations need raw fuel, and Nuclear Power Stations need fissile material. Just one cold winter of fuel starvation and the politics will quickly turn very nasty. (Just think of the real story behind Iraq, Afghanistan and Pearl Harbour). The EU is there to ensure equitable access to raw fuel for all members; and the importance of this job should not be under-estimated.

Nuclear Safety is another issue. The greatest threat to our Nuclear Safety here in Kent is the giant old and run-down Nuclear Power Station at Dunkirk. Power Stations like this typically have an incident somewhere in the world once every three years, and the last ones at Dunkirk where in 2006, 2007 & 2009. – How long will it be before we have a Chernobyl or Fukushima on our doorstep? As an EU member, we are entitled to over-site of the safety at here; but if we leaves, what guarantees do we have?

The question is. If we leave the EU, will we continue with a switch to 230 Volts or will we stay as we are? Will the EU rescind EN50160 in order to improve standards, but making EU products less suitable for our market? Will manufacturers step up to fill our relative declining market? And, will we remain a member of EURATOM? (Theresa May wants us to leave).