Slip Slidin’ Away

BreakOutEUchains2bTheresa May’s speech in Florence today might as well have been backed by music and lyrics from Paul Simon –

Slip slidin’ away, slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Her offer to give the EU an estimated £20,000 million and hang on to transitional membership until the end of 2020 pushes the UK into funding the EU for longer but with little or nothing in the way of benefits. It translates into a poll tax of £600 on every person taking part in 2016 vote and means that it will have taken our politicians 1,652 days to actually implement the results of that referendum. Grandad seems to remember Prime Minster Cameron threatening that our leaving would be on the day after the vote!

So now we need to add a 1,000s column to our Leaving The EU Scoreboard but still live in the hope that someone will have the guts to call a halt to the whole charade and do what it said on the tinLeave!

How Much?

It seems that Grandad was wrong! The UK’s net weekly contributions to the EU are now estimated at far more than than the £121 million we have been using to date. Stories circulating today quote Office of Budget Responsibility’s estimates for 2017 to 2022 at more than twice our previous figures.

So rather than painting a black picture of EU’s consumption of our taxes Grandad has been seriously understating how much the Brussels Eurocrats have been syphoning off from the British economy – and out of our essential services. Apologies to all for making the EU seem less of a financial burden than it actually is …

Some more accurate estimates for the side of the bus

Lack Of Interest

Reuters today reported .. HSBC, one of Britain’s “Big Four” banks, expects the Bank of England to raise interest rates twice over the coming 12 months … rates to be lifted by 25 basis points in November and then again in May 2018, taking Britain’s benchmark interest rate to 0.75 percent.

Man1So perhaps this marks the start of a gradual normalisation of interest rates after they were pushed off a cliff in 2008. Then rates went from 5% to 0.5% in just a few months. A rate that stayed until 2016 when a lack of confidence by the experts prompted a move to the current all-time low of 0.25%. A move that fueled a fall in the value of sterling – so increasing the cost of imports and reducing the spending money of anyone going overseas.

Now we have had eight years of exceptionally low Bank interest rates. A situation where many have forgotten, or never experienced, living with the effects of rising interest rates.

Clearly in a rising-rate scenario any outstanding debts will require increased monthly repayments and this could be a problem for those with little or no slack in the budgets. When rates collapsed careful borrowers kept up their old repayment amounts – so reducing their total debt more quickly. But anyone who opted to go for reduced payments, or who started a new loan with lower rates, will face a hit eventually.

However if inflation takes a sudden upward turn then the controlled interest rate strategy of small steps upwards over an extended timescale will be ditched in favour sudden hikes … so don’t get caught out.

Enough Already

Yet another fifty days have ticked over on our Leaving The EU Scoreboard and still we have very little good news to report.

NEU_flag1A_400Obviously the UK net payments to Brussels have continued and our estimate has just passed £7,777 million since the Brexit vote 450 days ago. So that’s another £800 million or so we will never see again. A thought that makes statements calling for delays to the Brexit talks due to the UK side questioning the EU demands or being told that the EU intends to teach the British people a lesson just add more fuel to the smoldering fire. The case for a clean break gets almost unavoidable given that the EU views its leaving demands and financial penalties as, in effect, non-negotiable.

Meanwhile UK MPs are trying to progress with the bill to restore the supremacy of UK law – and so regain our independence – despite opposition from most members of the Labour, SNP and Liberal Demo-prat parties. Why they think that is the right way to uphold the authority of parliament and enact the will of the people God only knows. Anyway they are all now taking turns to go to their respective party conferences so this vital bill wont get its final vote for some time yet.

Finally there is a promise that our PM, Theresa May, will make a major speech setting out her vision for a new deal with the EU next Friday in Florence. However there is still likely to be a very big gap between what the EU and the UK want from the negotiations. And Mrs May’s track record on major announcements is very weak after that early-election decision fiasco. If the Florence speech is a flop then we may be faced with yet another general election! Another case of political power brokers pushing their own agenda?

Barnier’s Bung

The chief negotiator for the European Union, Michel Barnier, remains adamant that British taxpayers will need to pay at least 100,000 million euros to settle what he likes to call the divorce. This, apparently, would not be the only payment but it is the one that is needed to show good faith and start trade talks.

Sweet_Barnier1Quite how far this is from practical economic reality seems lost on Eurocrats enjoying a gilded existence at the public expense. Part of this lack of understanding comes from not translating the vast numbers thrown about into their actual effect on the general public. So time to do some basic maths.

The first point is who would contribute to the 100,000 million euros bill? The obvious options are – 1. everyone that voted in the 2016 referendum; 2. everyone that voted to leave or 3. everyone that volunteered to pay the leaving bill.

Doing some simple sums the contributions that each voter would need to make can be estimated as –

1. Everyone that voted in 2016 – 2,980 euros per person
2. Everyone that voted leave – 5,743 euros per person
3. Everyone that volunteered (estimated at no more than 500,000) – 200,000 euros per person or more

Clearly that final option depends on how many decided that the UK does actually need to pay any such EU bill. And so far very few people have said that we should pay no matter what. In fact it has only been a few, well-known politicians and celebrities that have been pressing for the UK to pay. And even then they expected us, the average citizen, to pay the bill rather than themselves.

So perhaps we should instead try a fourth option – one where everyone that wants to make a voluntary contribution can donate cash or their spare holiday euros. Then the UK negotiators can offer the EU whatever has been collected has a true reflection of how much the British people think EU membership is worth ….

When To Go?

With Prince Philip standing down from official engagements at the age of 96 and rumours of a plan for Charles to take over as Prince Regent when the Queen reaches 95, the wider retirement age question is back on the social agenda.

Young_Mr_GraceCertainly the issue of retirement age needs to be addressed for both MPs and the noble Lords. With no apparent restrictions, the average age of our lawmakers in Westminster seems to be drifting ever upwards.

That young militant Dennis Skinner took his seat in 1970 is still sitting there 47 years later. He will be 90 at the end of the current parliament. And no matter how good a job he has done for the voters of Bolsover there must have been someone else in the local party that would have welcomed a chance to represent the constituency. With Ken Clarke also taking his seat in 1970 and scheduled to stay on until 2022 clearly there seems little to discourage MPs staying on well past the national retirement age.

But the geriatric make-up of the House of Lords is quite amazing – with the official figures stating that their average age is currently 69! Meaning that – on average – the entire house could retire with immediate effect .. A dream scenario that would speed up the procedures of government no end. And certainly something that would make Dennis Skinner happy for the rest of his days.

From The Captain’s Table

Since well before the vote to leave the EU there have been attempts to discredit those in favour of separation by portraying them as ill-educated plebs who don’t understand the great European vision.

CaptainBlogsYet few of the pro-EU voters who were interviewed by the media at the vote seemed to have any reasons beyond wanting to have easy holiday travel, cheap mobile phone access and, in a few cases, employment; despite not being fluent in another European language.

Not many of those in favour of remaining an EU state seem have read the Pan-European Manifesto of 1923 – the basis for current EU policies and thinking; even though much of its contents have been proved wrong by subsequent events. Similarly not many voters seem interested in the aims of the Five Presidents’ Report of 2015 and so are unaware of its implications for Britain in just a few years time.

In fact the most serious and far-reaching assessments of the strategy behind the actions of the EU’s political leaders seem to have come from the independence side via MEPs, investigative journalists and analysts. For example this quote from Christopher Story (1938-2010) makes a bold statement about the sort of future that EU activists have planned for us  ..

.. European Union structures are engaged in relentless low-level, but prospectively terminal, secret warfare against their constituent nation states, while posing as their benefactors. Under the guise of open-ended and ever-expanding ‘cooperation’ – the preferred weasel alibi of the penetrated British Foreign Office – the European Union is in practice engaged in wholesale collectivisation via relentless, open-ended regulation: the very essence of Communism.

Sadly there are still plenty in power in Britain who are either ignorant or deceitfully aware of the price citizens will have to pay for a future in a European super state controlled from Berlin. But for me it’s obvious ..

Electric Avenue

On Friday the man behind electric vehicle maker Tesla, Elon Musk, launched the long-awaited Model 3 – the zero-carbon economy car for the masses. Tesla-3A-300And it looks good from the publicity shots even if the stark dashboard – just a single screen – may not appeal to all the target buyers. With a starting price of $35,000 it should sell well in states like California especially since Tesla claim to have over 500,000 advance orders already.

Meanwhile in the UK the Government announced that they intend to stop the sales of diesel and petrol motor cars by 2040. So giving the UK’s motorists 23 years to change the habits of several lifetimes. This story made the headlines in the news bulletins yet few in the media (or the Government) seem to thought through what such a change would mean in reality.

When the issue was raised of where all the electricity would come from to power the vehicles the studio expert said it was not such a big problem as most people would want to recharge their cars overnight when other demand was low. Then the issue of where to plug-in was raised and the suggestion was that lamp posts could be equipped as charging points.

Now both of these answers are totally impractical yet they are just a couple of superficial issues. The bigger issues include – what tax will replace the millions-per-day in duty and VAT on petrol and diesel that funds so much Government spending? Who will fund the upgrading of the power distribution network that runs to every street sub-station and home? With at least forty cars just in Grandad’s short street the overnight charging load would be too great for the existing cabling to handle. Digging up roads and erecting more pylons seems unavoidable.

Renault-TwizyOf course the Government will attempt to use legislation to make the ill-considered plan work – with their usual limited effectiveness. They may, for example, limit the size of the electric vehicle we can own according to perceived need – with singles being limited a micro-car and four-seaters being reserved for families of four, etc. Anyone with unused seats in their vehicle will be surcharged.

Even our public services will not be exempt with police, fire and ambulance vehicles included in the fossil-fuel ban.

Renault-Twizy17And some enterprising car makers are already on the case … as you can see in this shot of a Renault ambulance [This is a real vehicle – not a Photoshop creation!]

The only bright spot for anyone who believes that switching to a more economical petrol car now would be just as effective, cheaper and quicker to implement is knowledge of politicians’ previous track records. Take, for example the Government plan to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2016. It turned out to be totally ineffective .. like the various carbon-trading schemes and misguided incentives in Northern Ireland.

Best to leave engineering to engineers and for politicians to stick to politics …

Tick, Tock

Another fifty days have ticked over on our Leaving The EU Scoreboard with progress being even less visible than in the slowest of slow test matches.

Scoreboard3_4Now back in January Grandad used the best impartial estimates of Britain’s EU contributions and refunds to calculate that the tax payers are giving a net £121 million per week to Brussels.

Since then the EU have upped the UK’s bill. But even without that increase the total we have contributed has reached a staggering £6,914 million net since our independence vote last year. And its little wonder that some fat cats are upset at the thought of being forced to diet if we really do leave.

But is there any doubt that we will get back our independence one day? Well it seems there is .. with some lobbyists wanting the leaving process halted or reversed. And others wanting a very weak exit that is little different to, or less expensive than, staying as an EU member. This is euphemistically called a Soft Brexit – to make it seem more attractive to the British public. While taking a strong approach towards protecting the UK’s position is labeled a Hard Brexit to make it make it appear difficult and dangerous. A use of language that could have come straight from George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. But in reality a soft (= weak) outcome would mark the end of any true British independence and make us all second class citizens on the edge of an emboldened European pseudo-state.

But still some limited progress has been made. Meetings have been held between both sides in Brussels – even though the top men on the British side seem to have restricted their efforts to smiling for the cameras and then heading home. Also a Westminster bill to transfer-in all the missing EU laws – and restore the supremacy of UK courts – has been presented but not debated. And nothing much will now happen to until everyone’s summer holidays – and study tours to exotic destinations – are out of the way.

With MPs not due back to Westminster until 5-Sep-2017 – but then hoping to leave for the conference season on 14-Sep-2017 – there are just eight working days in the Commons before October. Not much time to review the efforts of their public service sherpas – or make sensible, informed decisions about anything. However the situation in Brussels (and Paris / Berlin) may be no better – but then we don’t get to hear about that back in the UK.

Status update – hoping for the best.

Can You Believe It?

XpressWeather201707Despite years of contrary experience Grandad reluctantly agreed that the Express was right when warning of a Conservative melt-down. And so their journalistic credibility had been restored in our eyes.

In which case we simply had to believe their forecast of a 100 days of blazing heatwave – and planned for sweltering Summer.

But at less than halfway through those 100 days we find Rebecca Flood (did you spot that kiddies?) is forecasting 70 days of hail, rain and freezing temperatures instead.

With no way that both stories can be correct it’s back to bottom of the pile for the Express journalists. And perhaps Grandad’s biased prejudices were nearer to the truth after all.