LETTERS

The government must be prepared to fight for our fishing industry

Dear Editor,

Democracy has prevailed! Article 50 has been triggered and the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. Talks between the UK and EU will kick off soon and many different priorities have been discussed in recent days; these have included everything from defence and security concerns to the wellbeing of London bankers.

One policy area that I feel has not received enough focus from either politicians or the media is our fishing industry – particularly here in the North East. We are a coastal region whose strong traditional fishing industry has been decimated thanks to EU policies which have caused untold misery and unemployment. Brexit represents a chance to start to undo some of these mistakes and could give the fishing industry a chance to prosper. We must stop foreign vessels overfishing our waters and rebuild our fishing fleet.

However, this will not happen if Theresa May and her government do not view this industry as a priority. British fishermen have been let down countless times since 1972; it is only fair and right that they be prioritised now. The Remain campaign did not agree, but our fishermen and the wider fishing industry are every bit as important as trendy jobs in London and our government must be prepared to fight for them.

 

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

Statement on Article 50

I am hugely encouraged that, 9 months and 6 days after the British people spoke loud and clear in the EU referendum, Theresa May has today finally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and we now begin the formal process of withdrawal from the European Union. This move has the overwhelming support of the British people: in a recent YouGov poll, just 21% said that the referendum result should be ignored or overturned.

I call on Theresa May and the British government to now deliver a deal which will secure the future of the United Kingdom as a vibrant, independent, global trading nation. We must regain our own sovereignty, stop payments to the EU budget, regain the power to fully control our immigration system, and most importantly of all regain the right to make trade deals in our own right once more.
Our destiny will be in our own hands once more. Never again will politicians be able to hide behind our EU membership and tell us that they lack the power to deliver for the British people. Here in the North East we are a trading region. We want the right deal with the European Union, one which enables us to trade with them freely and without tariffs. But we also want to open up new markets, new trade opportunities by developing our trading links across the world. Napoleon once called us a ‘nation of shopkeepers’; today we declare that we are once again open for business.
LETTERS

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK

Dear Editor,

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK after we leave the EU.

He has told the BBC that as well as hoping to have a friendly relationship over the next decades he is not in a hostile mood with Britain. Again I am glad to hear that.

Time will tell, of course, and there’s an awful lot of negotiations to go under the bridge first. One thing he has said that is undoubtedly true is that the EU is not in the best form and shape it could be in.

He admits that if three, four or five more countries leave the EU would collapse but does not believe that will happen.

Again time will tell, but the whole EU edifice is a flawed concept and collapse is its ultimate destination.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Yet another sickening crime against an animal

Dear Editor,

A dog has been burned alive in a bin bag, after a catalogue of recent offences including a nail hammered through the skull of a dog before burying it alive, a horse stabbed in the legs, neck and abdomen, and thugs filming themselves torturing an animal to death. These sickening crimes happen regularly, as readers will know.

Many culprits escape jail altogether. But when was the last time that for any such offence, no matter how horrific, anyone ACTUALLY spent more than 2 months in jail? I honestly can’t remember it happening. The maximum sentence is 6 months, which is discounted to 4 on a guilty plea – and those sentenced to 4 months are released in just 2.

When the very worst offenders spend no more than two months in jail, it’s time to change the law. A 5 year maximum, as recommended by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, would be a good starting point.

If MPs thought there were a million votes in it, there’d be a Bill on the floor of the House of Commons within hours. Instead, out-of-touch politicians (with some notable exceptions like Anna Turley) continue to ignore this outrage.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Newcastle does not need a congestion charge

Dear Editor,

Local bus companies have proposed introducing a London-style charge on motorists who wish to drive in Newcastle. They claim that this should be done to ‘cut congestion’ but I would not blame some of your more cynical readers if they saw this as a bid to increase bus company profits. London is very different from Newcastle, is much bigger than Newcastle, and has a level of public transport funding that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams.

This charge would add yet another financial burden to already stretched local families and small businesses.  It would also do much to discourage people from visiting (and spending money) in Newcastle. We should be encouraging people to visit our cities, not putting them off.

Frankly I think motorists are already paying enough. We pay 58p a litre in fuel duty, then we pay VAT on the cost of the fuel and the duty. We pay road tax, tax on our insurance premiums, extortionate parking charges and a toll to go through the Tyne Tunnel. Should a driver stray into a bus lane for more than a millisecond, a fine quickly follows. If local bus companies want to increase their profits they should focus on improving their service to make bus travel more appealing rather than launching a war against local drivers.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

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Jobs and proper job security needed

The latest unemployment figures for the North East demonstrate that all the government talk about the Northern Powerhouse is just hype, says regional MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“While the figures of the ONS show that nationally unemployment is down, in this region the figures are actually up on the last quarter.

“The previous quarter had shown a decrease in those out of work but the rate was still the highest in the UK.

“I have no doubt that leaving the EU will provide the manufacturing boost that the area needs and since the Brexit vote I have been aware of a real sense of hope among our working class communities. And as we get nearer to leaving the EU the more I believe that will increase.

“I sincerely hope that the next ONS figures for the North East show a noticeable decrease and that the current ones are a blip.  I am fortified in that belief as the figures are down year-on-year from 102,000,” said Mr Arnott.

“What does worry me is that the North East has now been described by the TUC as the UK capital of insecure work, with the equivalent of two-thirds of jobs created in the region in the last five years being without guaranteed pay or normal employment rights.

“People not only need jobs but they need proper job security and legal safeguards,” he added.

LETTERS

The North East needs investment, not empty promises

Dear Editor,

New reports suggest that North East schools would get an extra £323 million per year if they were based in London.  The worst thing about this?  I am not even slightly surprised.

Just about everything in the North East is underfunded when compared to other parts of the country (especially London).  Roads, railways, the NHS, ambulance services and schools are just a few examples of public services that have been underfunded in the North East for a very long time.

At every General Election Labour and the Conservative Party come to the North East promising investment, jobs and opportunity. They tell us that the North East has been overlooked for too long – but nothing ever changes and those same politicians  always come back making the same empty promises at the next election.

The North East needs investment, not empty promises – it is a great shame that successive Labour and Conservative governments have shown no interest in providing this investment.
Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

PRESS-RELEASEV2

Anger over EU private army costs

A £230 million bill for UK taxpayers including helping fund a ‘private army’ to protect EU MPs has been slammed by MEP Jonathan Arnott.

Estimates have shown the European Parliament’s budget is rising to £1.7 billion – an above inflation increase of 3.3 per cent.

This includes funding of a private army, known as “Unit Protection” to protect MEPs and despite voting to leave the EU British taxpayers will have to contribute £230 million towards the Parliament’s costs.

Mr Arnott, a member of the parliament’s budget committee, said: “The European parliament’s costs continue to spiral out of control, now including a private army.”

“Easy ways to cut costs have been ignored year in, year out, and here we go again with a rise in the budget.

“It also means that the UK will have to pay more than £3.8 million towards a £28.5 million pro-EU publicity campaign for the 2019 European elections. That is particularly galling as Britain will not even be taking part.

“The parliament’s Secretary-General Klaus Welle has even admitted that they want this spending spree before Brexit happens and puts a strain on their finances.

“They love playing fast and loose with other people’s money and should reassure any doubters that our decision to leave was 100% the right one,” said Mr Arnott.

“This is yet another reminder that there is no situation to which ‘more money’ or ‘more Europe’ is not the European Union’s default position. “

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Statement on the Brexit Bill defeat in the House of Lords

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Brexit Bill, Amendment 9B, which states that the government must bring forward proposals to ensure that citizens of other EU and EEA countries and their family members who are legally resident in the UK must be allowed to remain in the UK and continue to be treated in the same way in respect of their EU-derived rights post-Brexit. The amendment was passed by 358 votes to 256, a majority of 102.

The idea that we shouldn’t kick out EU nationals currently in the UK is a good enough one, but for three reasons I have a huge problem with this amendment:

1. It is remarkably short-sighted. We need a reciprocal agreement between the EU and the UK: “We will allow EU nationals to remain in the UK post-Brexit, and in return UK nationals will be allowed to remain in the EU nations post-Brexit.” It’s much harder to gain such a reciprocal agreement on behalf of British ex-pats currently living in other EU nations if we’ve conceded their half of the negotiation position first. Yes, we do care about EU citizens living in the UK – but we also care about British citizens living abroad, and this Amendment damages our ability to help them.

2. There is one point where we would not wish to continue offering identical rights to EU citizens post-Brexit. The vast majority of those who come here are law-abiding citizens, but a small minority are not. Those who abuse our hospitality by committing serious criminal offences should not continue to have immunity from deportation. The current standard, which effectively requires us to show that an EU national poses a specific tangible threat to the United Kingdom, has been proven to be insufficient.

3. I do not believe that the House of Lords should be amending this Bill in particular. I recognise the Lords amend many Bills placed before Parliament in their role as a revising and scrutinising chamber. There is a question as to whether the unelected Lords have become an anachronism in the 21st century, neither one thing nor the other, since it was stuffed with political appointees. I would prefer a democratically-elected second chamber, but that is a discussion for another time. This time, though, the Bill is a response to an Act of Parliament which provided for a referendum on the European Union, and to implement the decision of the British people in that referendum. It is not for the Lords to add pre-conditions to those negotiations or to tie the hands of the British government to make their job harder.

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IJonathan Arnott steps into the ring for charity

A North East political heavyweight is set to step into the boxing ring at London’s famous boxing venue, the York Hall, to become a heavyweight of another kind next month.

Chess playing MEP Jonathan Arnott will be punching above his weight – literally – when he swaps the chequered board for boxing gloves in a charity double whammy seeking to raise money for the Ally Cadence Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (ACT for SMA).

Jonathan is raising money for the charity after a friend and colleague sadly lost their baby daughter to the condition in October.

In what promoters describe as ‘a headline bout with political clout’, it will be UKIP versus Lib Dem as Jonathan Arnott faces Toby ‘Slowby’ White of the Liberal Democrats, a veteran of two previous contests.

The event is organised by the London Chessboxing Association. It involves three minute rounds of chess followed by two minutes of boxing. Chess and boxing rounds alternate until there is a winner Competitors can either knock their opponents out by checkmate on the board, or more fittingly by a knockout in the boxing ring. If neither checkmate nor knockout occurs, then the end result of the bout is determined by the judges’ scorecards.

The UKIP hard-hitter is determined not to be out for the count in either of the skills – which will challenge his abilities against the clock both in and out of the ring. In a blow-by-blow account he makes it clear that in both capacities as a talented chess player and a novice boxer he is aiming for a knock-out.

“Nobody would ever have expected someone like me to take part in a boxing match, so I’m hoping that will encourage plenty of people to donate to raise money for this worthy charity. According to my sparring partners, I’m hard to hit in the ring – just like in politics where my opponents struggle to lay a glove on me. I pack a powerful punch, which will eventually break my opponent’s resolve.

“But I think I’ll beat him at chess before I manage to knock him out in the boxing ring, so I’m predicting that my knockout blow will come by checkmate in the fifth round.” said Jonathan.

36-year-old Jonathan has previously competed in international chess tournaments but has only relatively recently turned to sparring in the gym to get fit. “It certainly makes a change from my regular travels to Brussels and Strasbourg representing my North East constituents – which is a challenge of a different sort.

“These chessboxing events usually attract about 750 people but fortunately I am used to appearing in front of large audiences, and if it raises money for charity then it will definitely be worth it. With just a few weeks to go until the event, I’ll definitely be stepping up my training regime to make sure I’m in great shape.” said Jonathan, who is also UKIP’s General Secretary and Constitutional Affairs spokesman.

As well as chess he is a talented player of the board game Stratego and has represented Great Britain at the game’s World Championships.

The bout will headline the “Pity the Fool” bill on April 1st at London’s York Hall, but Jonathan is adamant that this is no joke. “I want to make a difference for a fantastic charity, and what better way than this?

“Playing chess is a great way to train your mind, and boxing is not only fantastic for fitness but so many young people’s lives are changed for the better by the disciplined training that it offers.”

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