If you don’t like TTIP, you’re going to hate the European Union

First published 25th June 2015 in The Journal

 

Nigel Farage is in his 17th year in the European Parliament, and he tells me he’s never seen anything like it. We’ve been deluged with emails, letters, phone calls and other messages about the proposed trade deal between the EU and the USA. At one point I had to respond to over a thousand emails in 24 hours. A lot of people reading this article will have already been in correspondence with me on the issue.

The Left of British politics have attacked this trade deal because of the huge power it would give to big corporations: as it stands American companies could compete for public sector contracts in the UK, companies would have immense power to sue national governments and big business, not small business, would benefit. They’re right to do so. Personally I’d be all for a genuine free trade agreement between the UK and the USA, expanding our markets, but not the ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)’. What’s being proposed isn’t a free trade agreement, but a corporatist trade agreement.

When this all came before the European Parliament and it became clear that there was massive public interest – largely unreported in the media – the Parliament’s President used an arcane procedural point to cancel the vote. That point could technically be used to cancel a vote on almost any matter with significant interest, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it used. The next morning, they cancelled the debate too.

Everything that’s wrong with TTIP is not an isolated instance, but a miniature glimpse into the workings of the European Union. If you dislike TTIP for the reasons above, you should truly hate the European Union!

European Union public procurement rules already force UK government contracts to be put out to tender to foreign companies. The Private Finance Initiative (which was the driving force behind the part-privatisation of our NHS under Labour) was a product of that Labour government trying to get around EU rules on public spending. Ask yourself the question: does it even make sense that Labour Party, the Party of Aneurin Bevan, would have part-privatised our NHS voluntarily? Yet if our government fails to follow these rules, then we can be hauled over the coals and sued in the European Court of Justice.

There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels, which is more than 40 lobbyists for every MEP – though I’m not interested in being lobbied by big business. I’m interested in being lobbied by my constituents. Corporate lobbyists push for tough new legislation, knowing that they can cope with it – whilst small businesses don’t have the resources and will be put out of business. I’m not interested in being wined and dined by them, or the free-flowing champagne which is on offer every night in the European Parliament buildings to those who are prepared to listen (or sell their soul?) to corporate lobbyists.

Democracy and the will of the people are routinely ignored: they force people to vote again until the ‘right’ referendum result is achieved, and the unelected Commission has far more power than the elected MEPs. Decisions are made behind closed doors and if – like Greek Prime Minister Papandreou – you dare to challenge the European Union on anything – you find yourself out of office very quickly.

These are exactly the same problems as we have with TTIP, and worse, only they’re not just proposals – they’re going on right here and right now whilst we’re members of the European Union. This is why the ‘old’ Labour guard – people like Tony Benn – opposed the European Union. Sadly, that movement within Labour is just a shadow of its former self. Even if I disagreed with some of what they said, I respected where they came from. They truly cared about working people.

As a UKIP Member of the European Parliament, I take left-wing views on certain things – like helping working people to make an honest living – and right-wing views on others – for example I want tough action on crime. I oppose uncontrolled mass immigration from Europe (right-wing) for left-wing reasons. A massive oversupply of unskilled and semi-skilled labour drives wages down for British workers, which is great if you’re mega-rich and want to hire a nanny, but terrible if you’re a bricklayer, security guard or electrician.

Labour Party plans “too little, too late”

Plans for a “Labour Party of England” as suggested by left-wing MP Jon Cruddas are “too little, too late” , said UKIP North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“This is a patronising approach by Labour to millions who deserted them at last month’s General Election to vote for UKIP. It comes as no surprise, when UKIP took 17% of the vote in the North East, our best result anywhere in the country.”

Mr Cruddas has indicated to Daily Telegraph journalist Mary Riddell that Labour would be looking to replicate its Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour offshoots with the new English-only group soon, saying: “We are going to do it… it will be imminent.”

Mr Arnott, North East MEP said, “Labour was shell shocked to lose an election they thought they had in the bag when voters they have long taken for granted turned to UKIP instead.  But Labour will still be run by and for a Hampstead London elite.  Listening to people shouldn’t be about gimmicks but policies, and Labour clearly opposes English votes for English laws.

“Even Andy Burnham has admitted today that Labour only really like posh people.  The British people have realised that, and are looking for a common-sense alternative, which is one of the reasons so many are turning to UKIP.”

Angel of the North victim of EU madness

Moves in the European Parliament which could mean iconic views such as the Angel of the North could no longer be photographed without permission have been slated by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The EU is threatening to restrict the long-established principle of “freedom of panorama” which would mean major landmarks being blocked from videos and photographs for fear of copyright infringement.

A French ally of the Lib Dems has suggested amendments to legislation involving introducing rules, which would force photographers, artists and filmmakers to seek permission and even pay to be able to film, paint and photograph some of Europe’s most famous landmarks.

The original proposals were submitted by Germany’s Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda in a report earlier this month to protect Freedom of Panorama. But the European Parliament’s legal committee, while approving most of the report, implemented several amendments.

One of these says – “The commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them.”

UKIP Euro-MP Mr Arnott said, “This would end up being another example of unintended consequences which so often happens when the EU passes laws.

“It is idiotic and would mean that visitors would not be able to snap views of the Angel of the North and other famous works and use them commercially if they so wanted.

“This attempt to restrict the Freedom of Panorama, by allies of the Lib-Dems in Brussels, strikes at the root of our liberties.  It will destroy an explicit British freedom guaranteed in our copyright legislation for over 100 years.

“Art and photography are valuable because of their intrinsic freedom. Freedom is constantly undermined by the European Union as we have seen time and time again,” said Mr Arnott.

The full European Parliament will be voting on the controversial measure on July 9.

Top local authority salaries “unjustifiable”

Regional MEP Jonathan Arnott has described paying almost £1,000 a day to a part-time council boss as “unjustifiable”.

“The North East Combined Authority (NECA) apparently has to dip into its reserves to help fund this nine month contract which at a time of such austerity is totally wrong.

“And it is particularly galling in light of a survey showing that children’s healthand drug related crime could increase in the region if Treasury plans to cut £200 million from local authority budgets go ahead,” he said.  The survey involved almost 300 members of the Faculty of Public Health, who are holding their annual conference in Gateshead this week.

“Responsibility for some elements of public health, including drug and alcohol misuse, has gone back to local authorities but running the services with reduced funding will be a nightmare. Of course one way of easing the burden would be stop paying top bosses astronomical salaries.

“In a further slap in the face to local taxpayers NECA’s new interim head of paid service, Adam Wilkinson, has had two separate redundancy pay-outs worth £500,000 from local authorities in the past seven years.

“He is plainly very experienced and knowledgeable but this whole practice of giving ‘golden goodbyes’ to local authority top dogs, who so often then waltz into other highly paid jobs, needs to stop. It is totally unfair on the ratepayers who pay their wages,” said Mr Arnott.

Letter – The number of people who smoke whilst pregnant in Hartlepool is extremely concerning

Dear Editor,

I was extremely distressed to read in Friday’s paper that Hartlepool has more than twice the national average of women who smoke whilst pregnant.  As the Mail said in its editorial, we all know that smoking has risks and we are constantly bombarded with reminders of this.  However, shouting very loudly does little good if nobody is interested in listening to what you are saying.

The quantity of warnings is not in doubt, but what about the effectiveness?  Does the public understand the risks involved with smoking during pregnancy?  The current drive against smoking is focused on plain cigarette packs – but I have to wonder if this will actually influence any smokers at all or if it is just a way for the government to look like they are doing something about the issue?

I don’t want a nanny state, we should not ban smoking – it is a personal choice and any adult should be free to smoke – but like many of your readers I am deeply concerned by the impact it could have on unborn babies. I am also puzzled how Hartlepool can be over twice the national average?  I could understand how a town could be over the average, but double?

Regardless of the reason, this is not a problem that will be solved overnight – or by a simple letter from a politician.  This is an issue which will require a lot of thought – both locally and nationally and it is one that must be addressed.

In the short term, I would encourage all smokers who fall pregnant to get in touch with your doctor and ask about nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) – patches, gum etc which are available free on this NHS – which coincidentally is yet another reason why key hospital services must be available within Hartlepool.

If anyone would like to discuss how we might begin to approach this important issue or why the rate is so high in Hartlepool then I would love to hear from you in my office at 41 Elwick Road, Hartlepool or via email at jonathan.arnott@europarl.europa.eu

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Government, business and educators need to work together

Improvement of our education system needs government, business and educators to work together, said regional MEP Jonathan Arnott.

He spoke out following comments by the CBI director general about the eduction system in England, who has said that it needs to change and he has described the exam system as “narrow and out of date”.

John Cridland wants GCSEs to be scrapped and for the introduction of an exam system with equal status for vocational subjects.

UKIP Euro-MP Mr Arnott said, “When the head of the CBI says that the education system needs to change, it’s important to listen.

“There’s certainly something in what he says: like Germany, we need to place greater value on the vocational route and not see it as a second-class option.  The education system should be varied and prepare young people for the world of work, not just for a university lecture theatre.

“But his proposed solution seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

“Having GCSEs in so many varied subjects at 16 gives the chance for a broad base of knowledge, with specialisation post-16.  The real answer is much simpler than that: government, business and educators need to work together to strengthen the quality and value of vocational and technical education in the UK.”

Outside of the EU we could negotiate tailor-made trade deals

Dear Editor,

It’s not often that I see eye-to-eye with my Labour colleagues in the European Parliament, but Jude Kirton-Darling MEP is right to say that there are huge dangers with the proposed EU-US trade deal known as TTIP.  There is certainly a threat to our public services, and an Investor-State dispute mechanism which would give companies huge power to sue national governments.  I’ve received thousands of emails, letters and phone calls on this subject from people who care about the issue.  It’s a level of political engagement from local people that I’ve never seen before, and none of my UKIP colleagues have either.

I’m not interested in attending champagne receptions to be lobbied by big business.  I am, however, interested in being lobbied by the constituents who elected me to work for them in the European Parliament.  I was hugely disappointed that the President of the European Parliament used an arcane procedural rule to prevent the vote and debate on this issue from taking place, but expect it to come back in September.  I assume that Jude will be re-submitting her amendment which opposed the investor-state dispute mechanism, and I will support that and other amendments with the same aim.  Likewise, I hope that Jude will support the UKIP amendments aimed at specifically protecting the British NHS.

I must, however, point out that outside the EU we would be free to negotiate our own trade deals; not only could we get a deal that is tailor-made for the UK rather than a European fudge, but we could (like Switzerland) actually have more free trade deals than we do at present.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Onshore wind farm subsidy end welcomed

The end to new onshore wind farm subsidies from next April has been welcomed by UKIP.

“Wind power is not the answer to Britain’s energy needs and it is iniquitous that householders have been forced to contribute towards this madness.

“They have blighted some of our most beautiful countryside and sadly there are many more with planning permission waiting in the wings to add to this sacrilege,” said local Euro-MP Mr Arnott.

“I am pleased that onshore wind farms will be excluded from this generous hand out scheme a year earlier than anticipated and hope that many of the estimated 3,000 schemes awaiting planning permission will now wither on the vine with the funding tap turned off.

“These subsidies benefit wealthy developers and investors and penalise energy users. Many householders are struggling to make ends meet while the fat cats just get fatter.

“We are all held to ransom through levies on our fuel bills to meet ridiculous renewables targets and these levies should be reduced from April in line with the subsidy cut. But I dare say I’ll just be whistling in the wind with that hope.

“And let’s not forget off shore wind farms which are also ugly eye sores and equally as useless and their subsidies should also be scrapped,” added Mr Arnott.

 

 

 

The only definitive way to recover control of human rights is to withdraw from the EU.

Dear Sir

The 800th Anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta is timely, for it reminds us that England has been involved in what we now call ‘human rights’ for even longer than that.

Anglo-Saxon Kings of England were guaranteeing the right of access to the courts before the Conquest, a right which is clearly part of the modern human rights canon.

The evolution of our traditional rights and liberties since those early beginnings underpins our Constitution, our politics and our culture.

Now our human rights are in the hands of Continental judges who know little of and care even less for our long history of liberty and Common Law. It should be the British people and our Parliament which builds on that heritage and upholds our rights and liberties.

However whilst we remain members of the EU, this can never be so. Article 6.2 of the Treaty on European Union commits the EU to accede in its own right to the European Convention on Human Rights.

When it does so, the Convention will become undeniably part of EU primary law which, by virtue of Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972, will in turn be fully binding upon the United Kingdom. We might withdraw from the European Convention ourselves, yet still be bound by it along this route.

The only definitive way to recover control of human rights is to withdraw from the EU.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott