Where I stand on TTIP‏

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade deal between the EU and the USA, which is already proving to be controversial – although I suspect it to still be years away from coming to fruition. Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation being put out about my position – including by 38 Degrees. I am therefore publishing my views here on my website.

TTIP is a very complex proposal.  It is vital that we have a thorough, public debate on this issue; at present, MEPs do not have access to the full text.  To an extent, we are therefore running blind.

As a Party, UKIP is committed to the principle that there must be an exemption from the agreement for the NHS. I recognise the importance of this issue to many local issues, and I have submitted two written questions to the European Commission about the proposal. I have raised the issue of the Investor-State Dispute Mechanisms and sought clarification over the proposed power for multinational corporations to take legal action against national governments. Both of these, if they are as reported in the press, would be unacceptable in my view.

As a UKIP MEP I have other concerns; the EU Trade Commissioner negotiates this deal on behalf of all 28 countries of the European Union.  They may well not look out for British interests in areas where we are traditionally strong; a one-size-fits-all deal won’t work.

I understand the benefits that a genuine free trade agreement between the UK and the US could offer (and indeed, so could a free trade deal between the UK and many other countries including our forgotten Commonwealth partners). However, I am far from convinced that TTIP will be in our national interests.

Addressing Child Poverty in the North East‏

In the wake of today’s story in the Chronicle that child poverty is rising to such an extent that almost 50% of young people in some parts of the North East (47%, Elswick, Newcastle) are living in poverty, I was asked on Twitter for my views.

Sometimes, 140 characters just isn’t enough to do justice to an issue.  I don’t think that even a single article is enough to do justice to it, either.  I believe that we have genuine poverty today in a way that we didn’t see when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  At that time, people spoke of poverty in relative terms.  But I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about in the 21st century.  We’re talking about families who literally struggle to put food on the table, children going to school hungry and without having suitable clothing.

Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s first elected MP, said “If we speak with passion, let it always be tempered with compassion”.  In just a few words, he’s articulated exactly what UKIP should be about.  I may be passionate in opposing the waste of our foreign aid budget, when it goes to countries in the G20 or those with nuclear and space programmes.  But I am equally compassionate when I hear of those suffering with and dying from Ebola, those whose livelihoods are wrecked by tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. In those cases we should be the first to help.

I may be passionate about having a controlled immigration policy, but equally compassionate about helping our fair share of refugees who are genuinely fleeing persecution.  I may be passionate about having a much tougher stance on crime, yet believe in compassion and mercy where the circumstances warrant it.  I may believe that our National Health Service should not be an international health service, yet still believe that it’s right to make exceptions in a case like that of Malala Yousafzai – whether on humanitarian grounds or simply to send out a message to the world.

That’s the UKIP way: passion, tempered with compassion; libertarianism, tempered with common sense; democracy, tempered with nothing.

I’ve seen the problem of child poverty through visits to food banks.  I don’t believe that in the 21st century we should still have a society where food banks are needed – but we do.  And whilst we do, as well as having a responsibility to speak out as an elected Member of the European Parliament, I believe I have a responsibility as a citizen to do my bit in donating.

Many children in poverty have parents who are in work, for whom the minimum wage just isn’t enough.  What can be done?  We can’t adopt Labour’s £8/hour minimum wage plan, because it would be beyond the ability of many companies to pay (particularly here in the North East).  That would just increase unemployment and wouldn’t help anyone.  Instead, we should raise the tax threshold so that those on minimum wage aren’t paying a penny piece in income tax.

For others the problem is sick leave; some people fall through the gaps when they’re ill and only capable of working sporadically.  In the absence of a regular income, the bureaucratic nature of the benefits system means that they often get nothing at the time they need help the most.

The answer here is to simplify the benefits system; well-meaning but misguided Labour politicians from 1997 to 2010 made the system so complicated that many people don’t get the help they need when they fall on hard times.

Still others struggle for lack of a job, and our North East unemployment is the highest in the land.  The answer here is to create jobs: to have a bonfire of EU regulations, make British business more competitive, scrap laws pushing our energy prices higher, and to provide tax relief for small businesses.

Politicians of all parties will say things like “we have to do more to stop child poverty”.  I don’t disagree, but the best approach would be to unravel the mess that they’ve created.

No tax on minimum wage, a simpler and fairer benefits system, and encourage businesses to grow and create jobs.

Letter – Yet more evidence highlights the lack of recovery in the North East

Dear Editor,

 

Sadly, I was not surprised to read yet again, that the North East is lagging behind the rest of the country.  Recent reports show that while UK house prices are rising, prices in the North East are in decline.

This is yet another sign of the lack of recovery in the North East.   Unemployment is rising across the region, whilst it falls in every other part of the country. Meanwhile our local NHS at best is stagnating – while at worst it crumbles, areas of the region have among the highest percent of vacant shop fronts in the UK and our infrastructure is overcrowded and under funded.

The North East has been let down for long enough. It is the out of touch Conservatives and the Labour “one party state” in the North that have led us into this mess – they were the cause but they are not the solution.  UKIP are the true opposition in the North of England and we will ensure the elitist political classes are held to account on behalf of its citizens.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – Don’t believe Labour’s Lies

Dear Editor,

It was bitterly disappointing to see Labour’s MP for Hartlepool, Iain Wright, resort to gutter-style politics in Wednesday’s (Oct 15th) edition of the Northern Echo.

Labour seem completely incapable of debating UKIP on policy, so instead, have resorted to smears and lies, in a measly attempt to stop the UKIP surge in Hartlepool.

UKIP do not want to charge patients to see their GP and do not want to see the NHS privatised. In fact, it was Labour Peers Lord Winston and Lord Warner, who have suggested that individuals should be charged for use of the NHS. It was under the Labour Party that we saw privatisation of our NHS balloon in the form of PFI agreements.

How can Mr Wright possibly suggest that UKIP want to see tax rises for the poorest in society when it has been UKIP’s policy for years to ensure that those who earn the minimum wage don’t pay a penny piece in income tax?

Let’s hope in the run up to next year’s General Election Labour decide to debate policy and substance rather than misinformation and smears.

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP

Letter- A long-term railway investment plan is required

Dear Editor,

Last week, Grand Central announced a large investment in the region’s rail network, but the Journal’s story today reinforced yet again just how much work is ahead of us before infrastructure in the North East is on par with the rest of the country.

Whether you are travelling to work, an event or just going to the shops, the railways are key to thousands of peoples daily commute.  Yet those same lines are plagued by outdated trains, over crowding and underinvestment.  This chronic overcrowding proves beyond any doubt the demand for rail services and the justification for further investment.

We need improved lines, updated trains and more seats.  A temporary fix it up will not be good enough, nor is maintaining the status quo.  London spends 24 times as much per person on transport infrastructure as we do in the North East, if we seriously want to tackle this vital issue, then we need to invest in our railways and put in place a long term solution.  Fixing this issue will make life easier for thousands of local people everyday whilst simultaneously strengthening the region’s economy.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East region

Shock new figures show UKIP could be set to win Hartlepool

UKIP could be set to win Hartlepool at next year’s general election according to shock new figures released by a national newspaper over the weekend.

UKIP came just 617 votes off Labour’s Liz McInnes in last Thursday’s Heywood and Middleton by-election, with the party increasing its share of the vote from just 2.63% in 2010 to 38.69%.

Figures reported in The Sun show that if the same swing was reported in Hartlepool, it would see Labour’s Iain Wright lose his seat, and UKIP pick up their first in the North East of England.

UKIP’s North East Euro MP, Jonathan Arnott, said “Hartlepool will be a two horse race between UKIP and Labour next May. Lazy Labour have taken their voters for granted in Hartlepool, and people don’t just feel neglected, but completely and utterly betrayed too. We got a fantastic result last week in Heywood and Middleton in what was an incredibly short campaign. If we emulate that next May, we will win here”.

UKIP picked up two councillors last May and came top in the town in the Euro elections.

Arnott added “Many people across Hartlepool like our policies such as ‘no tax on the minimum wage’, having a fair Australian-style points based immigration system, and stopping the political elite from continuing to privatise our NHS. Rather than focus on the tiresome left/right struggle, we’d much rather prioritise what’s right and wrong”.

Letter – We need improved infrastructure to be competitive with other regions

Dear Editor,

I am delighted with the news that Grand Central have decided to invest in our regions rail infrastructure.  Our transport links, whether that is the road system (especially the A1 – which I am campaigning to have dualed), rail, buses or airports, are vital to improving the economic fortunes of the region.

I can speak from first-hand experience that the local rail system badly requires significant investment – not just the lines but also the trains themselves and these issues should be addressed via this investment.  I will be playing an active role in the local consultation and I highly recommend as many of your readers as possible get involved, this is your transport system and it should be designed to suit your needs.

Sadly our region remains massively under invested in – London spends 24 times as much per person on transport infrastructure as we do in the North East. This investment is a good start but we have a lot of work to do to put ourselves on an equal footing with the rest of the country.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East region

Letter – Time to gain control of our borders

Dear Editor,

 

Due to the high number of immigrants moving to the UK because of EU enforced unlimited migration laws, recent reports have revealed that the UK now has one of the highest birth rates in Europe.

Our health system is under unprecedented strain, our public transport is overloaded, and we face a severe shortage of housing.  If our birth-rate continues to rise so rapidly, how will we afford to build the new schools, hospitals and the other services these new citizens will require?  Simultaneously, while we fund all these new services, government departments face universal funding shortages and we have to tackle an unprecedented financial deficit.

Controlled immigration has benefits for our society, but I believe it is time to end the senseless open-borders policy enforced by the EU.   We must introduce a new migration system, based on what our country needs.  This system should be based on the model used in Australia – who have an immigration system tailor made to suit the needs of the country.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

 

Letter – Shaking up the cosy chumocracy

Dear Editor,

 

It’s a given that if you wish to shake up the cosy chumocracy in Parliament that you’ll receive a host of attacks, and be on the end of a type of politics, which quite frankly, should remain in the gutter.

Dennis Sewell’s letter yesterday (07.10.14) was a fine example of this.

When we look at the millionaire-filled green benches of Westminster, on all sides of the house, who claim to represent the decent hard working people of the North, is it any surprise that people are voting UKIP in their droves?

I’m a former Maths teacher. UKIP’s deputy leader is from Bootle, one of the poorest constituencies in the country. Amjad Bashir MEP; a bloke from Bradford who started off selling perfume door-to-door in order to support his family. Would any of us seriously be accepted into the bloated political consensus which exists today?

Let’s scrap the bedroom tax, put a halt to the Labour/Tory drive to privatise our NHS and ensure those who are the lowest paid in society do not pay a penny piece in income tax.

This would be a strong start to support the North East, and punish Lazy Labour which has neglected our region for years.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP, UKIP

North East Region.

Seized cash should be used for communities

Jonathan Arnott, the region’s local UKIP MEP, has thrown his weight behind calls for communities blighted by crime to receive all of the assets and cash seized from local criminals by councils

“I fully support the Local Government Association (LGA) in their demands for communities affected by crime to benefit from the assets seized from those responsible.

“At the moment councils get less than half the assets they recover from convicted crooks and the government keeps the rest,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP’s North-East Euro MP.

The LGA says that councils help recover an estimated £40 million in cash and assets fraudulently stolen by benefit fraudsters and rogue traders using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 every year.

The money helps fund support and compensation for victims, crime prevention initiatives and further trading standards investigations into fraudsters and counterfeit goods. It also goes towards improving local areas and has paid for park regeneration schemes, anti-graffiti projects and youth clubs.

Amjad Bashir MEP, UKIP’s Communities spokesman, added “It is plainly right that criminals should have their cash and assets confiscated and to my mind it is also plainly right that all of that should come back to benefit the affected community.

“It should all be spent improving the lives of local people and not just disappear into government funds. We are talking of millions of pounds which would make a huge difference to our communities and help fund further investigations and prosecutions.

The Government is strengthening Proceeds of Crime Act powers under the Serious Crime Bill, which returns to the Lords on October 14.