My book – The Blueprint: Our Future after Brexit

‘The Blueprint: Our Future after Brexit’ is my latest book – available on both eBay and Amazon now.

Have you ever heard people say that they’ve got no idea what Brexit will actually look like? Please help me to get the message across that we have a bright future outside the European Union.

It’s a short book, no need to worry about spending weeks reading it. I’ve written it in a diary style, going through what happens day by day after a vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd.

The book starts from June 24, 2016 and goes through the key dates until mid-2020. Please order your copy today; I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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Anger over government pro-EU propaganda

Local MEP Jonathan Arnott has described spending almost £10 million on pro-EU propaganda for every household in the country as ”a kick in the face of democracy.”

Leaflets arguing for Britain to remain in the EU published by the government are due to land on doorsteps in the North East by next week.

“It is not just a kick in the face to democracy, it’s outrageous,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.

“Taxpayers money is blatantly being used by the government to finance this propaganda blitz but meanwhile the campaign for Brexit is barred from spending such a vast sum.

“That is totally unfair and out of keeping with the British sense of fair play.

“It is also completely in keeping with EU tactics which not only try to fool people into believing it it is good for us but use our own money to bludgeon us about the head with their misleading information.

“Justifying it by saying that independent polling indicates 85% of voters want more information to make a decision before the June 23 referendum is disingenuous.

“People do want more information but they want to know the case for both sides and not just one,” added Mr Arnott.

My Column – The New GCSE Mathematics Syllabus: What’s Wrong

From 2017, the new GCSE Mathematics syllabus will be examined. There’s much to admire about the principle – more problem solving, a little more rigour for the strongest candidates, and because of the importance of Maths it will be given extra weighting in school league tables from now on (specifically it is now double weighted in Progress 8). The new system, though, simply exchanges one set of flaws for a different set. It’s yet another example of overcompensation; where the 1997-2010 Labour governments went wrong in one direction, the current Conservative government seems intent on going wrong in the opposite direction. Every time, teachers must get used to a massive change in the subject they teach. That’s why in my view, small incremental change is better than sudden transformation – but once again, sudden transformation is what we’ll have.

So what’s wrong with the current changes? To understand the problem, it’s first necessary to understand the nature of examination candidates and what our education system should seek to achieve. In my experience from teaching Mathematics, there are three distinct categories:

1. Those students who have the capacity to continue their study to A level and possibly beyond.

I’m referring here broadly to candidates who will obtain an A or A* at GCSE, or possibly those at the top end of a B grade.

For them, a GCSE examination needs to be challenging and intellectually rigorous. It needs a high level of problem-solving and for concepts like mathematical proof to be understood. The purpose of a GCSE syllabus for them is to lay a foundation; it should provide a platform for higher future study. There are a huge number of jobs which will require these skills, particularly given the highly technological nature of our modern economy.

2. Those students who will not have the level of abstract mathematical ability required to consider higher concepts.

I refer here, perhaps, to those who currently are expected to obtain grades E, F or G at GCSE. Their mathematical requirements in later life are likely to be functional in nature. What should we be teaching them?

I want to see them develop their numerical skills. When will they ever use a quadratic equation in later life, or even linear algebra for that matter? Instead, wouldn’t it be better for them to be competent with percentages, to come out with an understanding of how interest rates work and the skills needed to know whether you’re being offered a good or bad deal by a credit card company? Shouldn’t they have a good basic mental arithmetic, particularly given that many will end up doing jobs in the retail sector, and the ability to estimate so that they can broadly spot when an amount is a long way away from what it should be? How about the ability to compare different deals and offers, calculating percentage discounts? Or calculation of areas (imagine a decorator or landscape gardener needing to work out how much carpet or paving to buy in order to quote for a job)? These skills are taught already, but I would rather see a much higher level of competence in these rather than teaching unnecessarily complex algebra which will be of no use to them in later life.

3. Those students who fall somewhere between the two categories above. In my experience somewhere between half and two-thirds of all students are here.

It’s important to teach mathematical concepts; I can think of many B or C grade candidates who I’ve taught who have found need of their mathematical ability in later life. They may have had to work very hard at Maths at school, often asking the question ‘when will I ever need to know this after I leave school?’. They may be right of course, but equally they may be wrong. Nor can you ever know which part of the syllabus is important. There’s still an importance in focusing on the functional parts of the syllabus, but algebra and trigonometry are also important as part of developing a skill set which could prove to be useful in later life.

Back to the GCSE syllabus, some fifteen years ago it was split into three tiers: Higher, Intermediate and Foundation. It was broadly aimed at the three groups I’ve identified. The system was flawed, but aimed at the correct people. When the Intermediate tier was abolished, Foundation became more difficult and Higher easier, ensuring that the new examination and syllabus really didn’t suit the vast majority of candidates.

Fast-forward to today, and the Gove reforms are coming in. He correctly recognises that more rigour is required to test the top candidates. Maths will now be graded on a 9-point scale with the bottom of a grade 4 being the equivalent of the bottom of a C grade and the bottom of a 7 being the bottom of an A. The Higher tier will become more challenging, as will the Foundation tier – which will have a top grade equivalent to a low B. There is a ‘Functional Skills’ mathematics course, but its status is being taken away. Schools will try to put everyone through the new GCSE, because it’s in their best league table interests to do so. There’s even less incentive now for the functional course. That may be indicated by the AQA June 2015 examination entries; just 1974 students attempted the Level 2 examination, with a pass rate of just 38.6% – indicating that nationally, just 762 people gained that qualification with the country’s largest examination board. Take away its status, and even fewer people will attempt it. The level 1 course had 2079 entries, for comparison.

The annoying thing is how easy it would be to tweak the new system to meet the needs of all candidates. Keep the new Higher course, relabel the new Foundation as Intermediate. Revamp and soup up the Level 2 certificate in ‘Functional Skills’ mathematics, add a greater emphasis on percentages and estimation (for example), rebrand it as a new Foundation Level GCSE with a maximum grade D or possibly C in today’s grades, and then at least the system would actually reflect what it’s supposed to. The various entry-level qualifications (and possibly the Level 1 certificate) could be kept in pretty much their current form for anyone who would struggle to sit any GCSE examination.

With these straightforward amendments, the system would not be perfect – but it would be far better than the system which the government is introducing. There would be an appropriate, challenging examination available for every student. We would have a system which would be robust enough not to require constant structural change, and the residual problems could be dealt with through minor tweaks to the syllabus.

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post website.  You can view it here.

My Column – The coming months are about project fear versus project hope!

Three weeks ago, I spoke at a public meeting to around a thousand people in Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre.

I’ve spoken alongside Nigel Farage many times before around the country, but what has been truly inspirational recently is the way that campaigners for Brexit, spanning all political divides, have been able to come together. Brendan Chilton, secretary of Labour Leave, agreed to speak as Kate Hoey MP was unavailable – and he wowed the audience. There were Conservatives, Trade Unionists and an even more politically varied audience. The UKIP members I spoke to afterwards were delighted by the Labour speakers. A Green Party member came up to me afterwards for a chat, as did many others – including a lovely couple who had been Labour for decades but couldn’t abide their Party campaigning to stay in the European Union.

I’ve never seen such agreement between people of different political parties. Nigel Farage maybe mentioned immigration a little more than the Trade Unionists did, whilst the Labour speaker mentioned it more than I did. But the focus of the message of freedom from the European Union was the same.

The whole event reminded me of the national campaign in miniature. There’s an incredible degree of togetherness and camaraderie across party political divides. It’s about so much more than ‘UKIP wants to leave the European Union’. The RMT and Aslef trade unions, over 140 Conservative MPs, a Green Party peer, a number of Labour MPs, the old Liberal Party, the DUP and TUV in Northern Ireland, a former Lib Dem MP, the Director-General of the British Chamber of Commerce suspended for daring to back Brexit, the founder of the SDP, entrepreneurs like James Dyson, businesses like Tate & Lyle, JCB, Legal & General and the manager of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. There’s top economists, Nobel prize-winning scientists, founders/co-founders of Superdrug, Littlewoods, Moonpig, Wetherspoons, the boss of Lloyds, the CEO of Next and many more.

The ‘IN’ campaign make much of security, but a former head of Interpol described Schengen as ‘like a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe’. There’s a former head of counter-terrorism at New Scotland Yard, a former Commander of the SAS, an ex-Major General of the Royal Marines, and even one of the names on the pro-EU document supposedly signed by Army chiefs at Downing Street’s request turns out to actually back Brexit.

Whilst the American President is publicly campaigning for the UK to stay in the European Union (I wonder if he’d accept a pan-American union where the USA had to subsidise smaller nations, where the USA didn’t have the power to write its own laws, where ‘gas’ prices more than doubled overnight, where they had to accept unlimited immigration from Mexico and where they had to ask other countries’ permission to set their own foreign policy), his political opponents – who may well be in power come November – take a very different view. Switzerland has just dropped its application to join the EU by a huge majority, with the MP sponsoring the bill saying that they are ‘calling Switzerland Britzerland’ in solidarity with the British people wanting to join them in freedom from the European Union. Like Iceland’s recent overtures, it seems that the European countries outside the EU want to show us that the grass can really be greener on the other side.

Those campaigning to stay in the European Union would have you believe that big business, science, economists, the military, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the Trade Unions and half of the Conservative Party are pitted against UKIP and the other half of the Conservative Party.

It’s not working, partly because it’s untrue and partly because people no longer care for being bounced into things by the political establishment. So, they turn to Project Fear instead: before the derby they were claiming that the Premier League would suffer if we left the EU (really? Non-EU footballers ply their trade here – why can Lithuanian footballers come here no questions asked whilst Brazilians have a tough entry system?). They claim we’d be worse off (actually we’d save our membership fee AND rebuild industries like fishing that have been decimated by the EU). They claim we would still have to allow unlimited immigration after Brexit (odd, then, that Liechtenstein doesn’t).

That’s why I say the coming months are about fear versus hope: the conjuring tricks of those trying to terrify us into voting to Remain versus the hope of a prosperous self-governing nation if we Leave.


This article was originally published in The Journal.  You can view it online here.

My Column – Where’s Our Moral Compass?

Just as a powerful magnet can confuse a compass, so is political correctness confounding our society’s moral compass. What is right, what is wrong; what merits anger and what merits kindness; what should be lauded and what should be condemned.

Last week in Brussels we saw horrific terrorist attacks. The cruel callousness of those who would attack our way of life merits a robust response. The ideology which gives birth to the perpetration of such atrocities must be fiercely opposed.

When it is the job of political representatives to talk about how best to keep us safe from further attacks, Nigel Farage and my colleague Mike Hookem had dared to point out the elephant in the room – that the existence of the Schengen area adds to the difficulty of maintaining security.

Which of the two events I’ve referred to should elicit moral outrage from left-wing politicians? The butchering of innocent civilians, the devastation of communities, the pressure on emergency services and the all-round inhumanity of these barbaric attacks is what we should be condemning in my view, but instead the Left chose to gang up upon Nigel Farage. To them, that was the real outrage.

I saw an example of the same kind of nonsense myself on Sunday. One of my Labour colleagues tweeted her utter disgust at the protests which had taken place in Brussels over the attacks. From labelling them hooligans and fascists to saying ‘not in my name’ via ‘shocking’ and ‘disrespect’, in just 140 characters the scale of her anger at protestors was made known.

Now, I’m not saying that I disagree with the main point of opposition here: a protest march in Brussels just days after an attack isn’t exactly a sensible way to proceed. What I am saying is that there’s something spectacularly off-beam about using that kind of anger and language to condemn those who protest the attacks, who kill no-one, whilst studiously avoiding the same language to describe the vermin who seek to destroy our way of life by planting explosives in public places to kill and maim innocent people.

It’s human nature that people are frightened by terrorist attacks, and the threat of more. It’s human nature that some people will misunderstand the nature of that threat. Some seem to criticise all Muslims for the actions of Islamic State. It’s wrong to do so. Others seem to put their hands over their eyes and blindly imply that there are no problems which need to be addressed within any mosques in the United Kingdom.

We actually need a sensible, well thought out, considered response to the threat of terrorism. Sadly, that is impossible in the culture of intolerance caused by those who put political correctness above our national security. It’s time that the Left stopped demonising those who take a different view to them. Frankly, they have themselves become as intolerant as the ‘intolerance’ they claim to condemn.

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post website.  You can view it here.

Booklet – Making the case for Brexit: Why the North East should vote to leave the EU

UKIP North East’s Jonathan Arnott MEP has produced a two-part booklet explaining why the North East would be better off outside the EU. In the first part, he explains the positive case for leaving: why we would be better off if we could write our own legislation rather than have it dictated by Brussels diktat; why trade and jobs would improve if we were an independent nation, and the impact on fishing and farming. The other half of the booklet takes 18 of the top myths peddled by the pro-EU side, and destroys them one by one. The case for leaving the European Union has never been stronger; with a referendum approaching on June 23rd the other side’s arguments are efficiently dismantled in this booklet.

Please click here to read the booklet