Letter – Welcoming the return of UK troops from Afghanistan

We all have countless opinions on whether our troops should ever have been involved, but I would like to set politics aside and thank our troops for all of their service and sacrifice in the Middle East.

It has been a long 13 years and each of the 453 lives that have been lost was a tragedy.   Our armed services have always been a vital part of our nation and I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who choose to serve our country.

Many of us have family and friends who have served and sacrificed for our nation. I am glad to see our troops finally return home and I hope that those who are injured or suffer emotional stresses receive all the care and support they need for as long as is required.

Although the world remains a very uncertain place, I hope that it is a long time before our troops are ever called off to war again.  And I hope that all of our other soldiers currently on active duty around the world return home safe and healthy.

Letter – Welcoming local people supporting their community

Dear Editor,

Having seen first hand the good work done by such facilities; I am pleased to hear that a local church is opening another food bank in Barnard Castle so they can help those in need.

However, in 21st century Britain, it saddens me that North East food banks were accessed nearly 60,000 times last year. Even worse is the fact that many people visiting food banks are in employment yet aren’t earning enough to support themselves or their families.

We must tackle unemployment, getting people into work so they can support themselves and have a better quality of life.  Then we must make sure that these jobs pay enough for people to be able to look after their families. One way to do this is by taking everyone earning the minimum wage completely out of income tax.

Regardless of how distasteful it might be that they’re needed in the world’s 5th-largest economy, I urge people to support their local food banks. They do a fantastic job and help many of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

EU’s demands for UK to pay additional £1.7bn is ‘outrageous

The EU’s demands for UK taxpayers to cough up an additional £1.7bn is ‘outrageous’ and the leadership of the Conservative Party is in ‘complete disarray’ according to UKIP’s EU budget spokesman, Jonathan Arnott MEP.

EU Chiefs plan to charge an additional £1.7 billion from UK taxpayers on the back of the UK’s better than expected economic performance in recent years.

Meanwhile, Syed Kamall, leader of the Conservatives’ MEPs, admitted this morning that Treasury officials may have known about the EU’s new demands a week ago.

Since then, Cameron told his MEPs to vote in favour of the EU’s new unelected commission, their whips overruled him and said to abstain, whilst still more MEPs voted against.

Arnott said “This farce would be as big a comedy of errors as Ed Miliband’s Party Conference speech if it weren’t so serious. Cameron broke his promise on the Lisbon Treaty, his much-trumpeted ‘budget cut’ was actually just a below-inflation rise, he failed to stop Juncker becoming Commission President and his EU ‘renegotiation’ hasn’t removed a single stroke of a pen from a single EU law. Now hard-pressed British taxpayers are being expected to cough up yet another pile of cash that we can’t afford. Cameron is out-manoeuvred at every stage by the European Union, and it’s our taxes that foot the bill”.

Eurocrats have recalculated national payments to the EU based on economic performance since 1995. Whilst the UK pays money to the EU, Germany and France are due to receive nearly £1.6bn between them.

It would add about a fifth to the UK’s annual net contribution of £8.6bn.

“It’s Alice in Wonderland stuff”, Jonathan Arnott continued. “Our ‘economic recovery’ is invisible in the North, yet we’re supposed to send cash to France. And Greece and Italy, in economic meltdown, are being expected to subsidise Germany. And these figures, backdated to 1995, are based on the EU’s estimate of illegal activities like drug dealing, which never gave the Exchequer a penny piece. The phrase ‘you couldn’t make it up’ has never been more apt.”

Letter – The importance of dualling the A1 should not be underestimated

Dear Editor,

Labour’s shadow transport secretary recently cast doubt on whether a Labour government would dual the A1.  I understand that it is traditional for the London elite to overlook and underfund the North East’s transport infrastructure, but even with this historical precedent this news is very disappointing.

The A1 is the main road from London to Edinburgh and is a vital transport artery in the North East.  It is pathetic that in so many places, the road is reduced to a single lane.

Dualling the A1 will make people’s lives easier and their daily commute less miserable.  It is also the road to growth for the North East, as it will make the region a much more attractive proposition for business, which is good for jobs and growth in the area.

Dualling the A1 is just common sense, rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on expensive vanity projects like HS2, the government should be looking for ways to make people’s lives easier and drive commerce. Dualling the A1 will achieve both.  And while we’re at it, shouldn’t we dual the A69 as well to improve our transport links to the North West?

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter- The number of foreign criminals in our prisons rises again

Dear Editor,

Our prison service currently faces a funding crisis and a chronic lack of places.  Standards and security have been dropping and suicide rates are soaring.  Meanwhile, the National Audit Office has reported that the number of foreign prisoners has gone up – yet again.  They reported that the UK now has 12,250 foreign offenders.

This exposes yet again the empty rhetoric constantly spun by the Labour and Conservative parties; both of whom have repeatedly claimed that tackling the number of foreign criminals in our country is a priority.  They will talk about regaining control of our borders, about deporting foreign criminals, but time and again this is exposed as what it is – all talk, no action.

I find it an affront to everything that this country is supposed to stand for that foreigners come to the UK, commit serious crimes against British citizens then the government uses the tax money gained from those same hardworking citizens to house, feed and entertain these prisoners.  Don’t believe the empty rhetoric of Labour and the Tories, if you want to regain control of our borders and deport offenders, UKIP is the only solution.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Parlimentary Activity – Bullfighting subsidy votes

I have had very many letters from Constituents urging me to vote to end the payment of CAP subsidies to landowners whose farms are used to rear bulls for bullfighting.

There were two separate votes on this subject today. In each case a “yes” vote was required to stop the subsidies.

The first vote was an amendment to the budget (from which the subsidies are paid) and although more MEPs voted “yes” than voted “no” (321-309) a two thirds majority is required on budget related votes and this hurdle had not been achieved.

The second vote was an amendment to the “Gardiazabal Rubial / Hohlmeier Report. This vote passed with similar numbers because only a straight majority was required.

However, this second vote was not a legislative vote. It was in effect an opinion on the EU budget. The applause that followed the vote would lead many to believe that subsidies would be stopped.

So we end up in the position of Parliament condemning the payment of subsidies for bull fighting, yet continuing to authorise their payment.

UKIP MEPs voted “yes” in each case.

British tax payers are only paying this subsidy because we are in the EU. As an independent country we would never waste our resources on this so-called entertainment.

Parliamentary Activity – UKIP North East MEP’s cost cutting amendment rejected without a vote

The UK Independence Party today slammed other political parties for voting in favour of yet more EU funding, as they approved the EU’s budget for 2015.

 

UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott, together with UKIP’s colleagues in the Italian Five-Star Movement, tabled a string of amendments to the EU budget to cut the cost to taxpayers.   Every single one of the 46 amendments were rejected: some were voted down, and some didn’t even make it to a vote because the Parliament had already voted to increase the budget items UKIP wanted to cut.

Cuts to MEPs’ salaries, offices and allowances, pensions and European Political Parties were all rejected – as were cuts to the EU’s public opinion analysis, European schools, Special Representatives and payments for co-operation with Greenland.

UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott, who sits on the Budget Committee, said “The Labour Party in particular have shown their true colours by voting down every attempt to save money from the European Union’s budget.  They have shown they just don’t care how much taxpayers’ cash is wasted by the failed European Union project.  In total almost a billion pounds would have been saved by the UKIP proposals.  In total almost a billion pounds would have been saved by the UKIP proposals.

It wasn’t just our amendments that were voted down either.  Other parties’ bids to scrap the House of History (a museum to the European Union) and the EU’s own television service went the same way.  I can’t say that I’m surprised – this is just how things are done out here.  If Cameron thinks he can renegotiate anything meaningful on the EU with these people, he is naive and out of his depth in European politics.”

The voting then descended into farce, as MEPs voted for an end to EU subsidies on bullfighting, but the vote won’t actually stop the subsidies.  On a tight vote, UKIP MEPs swung the vote as the Parliament voted by 323 – 309 to end the subsidies – only to be told that the motion was rejected for lack of a qualified majority.  Another vote criticising bullfighting was carried, but also didn’t affect the payments.

Jonathan Arnott also slammed the EU for voting for a 4 billion euro ‘top-up’ to EU funds for 2015, saying “When you run out of money, the answer is to stop spending not to fleece taxpayers for more cash.”