EUROPE: Don’t blame EU for issues

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North East UKIP MEP (surely a contradiction) Jonathan Arnott wishes to fill the shoes of Nigel Farage as leader of UKIP.

Mr Arnott has said he is worried that negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will be in the hands of those who do not want to withdraw.

This seems to suggest that he wishes us to pursue withdrawal quickly, before it is clear as to how the EU/UK relationship is to be developed in relation to important issues such as trade and the rights of UK people living and working in continental Europe. Is UKIP determined to put the UK in the worst possible negotiating position?

Once we press the Article 50 button, we have two years to complete negotiations. The EU can sit on its hands for two years while our position deteriorates. Bear in mind that the UK derives about 13 per cent of its wealth from trade with the EU, whereas the EU derives about three per cent from trade with the UK.

Please tell us ‘The Plan’ Mr Arnott, and by that I mean actions and their intended outcomes.

How are we going to make up for the loss of toll-free trading with a market of 508million people and an annual spend of almost $17trillion? How are British universities going to make up for the £1billion annual investment from the EU? How is the north east going to make up the £1.1billion investment over the last five years?

I’d also like someone to explain why the ‘unfortunate mistake’ of the £350million per week that could go to support our NHS was not removed from the Brexit bus, particularly after the rebuke from the UK Statistics Authority. Apparently, the cost of negotiating Brexit is likely to be £350million per week. I did not see that written in big letters. The regions spectacularly voted for Brexit, despite EU investment. The regions have been in economic recession over the last 30 years, but I don’t see this as being anything to do with membership of the EU.

After World War II, British manufacturing found it difficult to remain competitive for various reasons – lack of investment, poor management, low skills, unionisation – take your pick. This resulted in government allowing the value of the pound to drift downwards for industry to retain price competitiveness.

Mrs Thatcher was elected on a promise to control inflation. This she did by pursuing policies that kept the value of the pound at an artificially high level. This encouraged imports and competition. It also put the unions and working class people in a less powerful position as factories and industries closed and unemployment rose. The regions used to be Britain’s industrial heartland. However, industry has shrivelled over the last 30 years as successive governments have pursued the same policy. None of this had anything to do with membership of the EU. If the new government wants to live up to its promises it must include a better balance between inflation and employment.

I think we can learn something from the referendum, mainly not to have referenda on matters of such complexity.

The Leave campaign was headed by individuals. The alliance has since evaporated. There is no group to call to account should its promises come to naught.

Perhaps another thing we can learn is that young people should register for and vote.

In recent years wealth has been directed away from the young. An example is university education. Most graduates leave owing thousands of pounds. This is so the cost is not met by the taxpayer because every time there is a general election the main parties make promises about not putting up tax.

However, if tax was properly collected from the wealthy and multi-national corporations it could pay for such education and the government wouldn’t be running a deficit.

A poll showed that 73 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds wanted the UK to stay in the EU, but only 63 per cent voted. According to the same poll, 90 per cent of people aged 65 or older voted.

Elections and referenda are about the future, not the past. Only by being voters will the government take notice of your needs.

Charles Thompson

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