Europe Day Bank Holiday Bribe

The plan to declare Europe Day – May 9 – a Bank Holiday across the European Union has been described as “a bribe”.

MEP Jonathan Arnott, who hit out at the plan ahead of today’s vote by the European Parliament,  said it was “to bribe voters with a holiday to like the European Union more.

“If it is thought that voters will actually like the EU more after this decision they are wrong. People are not as stupid as they like to think though they are still hell-bent on imposing their will on them.

Mr Arnott, Independent MEP for the North East, said he accepted that more Bank Holidays are needed, particularly in the UK, but suggested that in view of the Brexit vote, March 29 or June 23 “might be a little more fitting.”

The vote in favour of the May 9 Bank Holiday was passed by 455 to 190 votes but as it was non-legislative it may never come to fruition.

Mr Arnott has also voiced his concerns on a report on European Citizenship, which seeks to impose a EU identity upon citizens in countries across Europe.

“That is not a European identity, you can feel European while still considering the structures, these institutions to be bad for democracy and bad for accountability,” he said.

“If there is one thing we should have realised by now, should be absolutely obvious by now, it is that the State cannot impose identity on the people.

Mr Arnott, speaking in Strasbourg, pointed out, “There are more calls for taxpayers’ money to be spent to attack any anti-EU dissenting voice. When you define pro-EU is being good and anti-EU as being propaganda, when the State dictates speech and opinion you erode democracy.”

He added, “From my point of view virtually every decision they make just confirms that the British public were right to vote to leave.”

 

North East Fishermen News Welcomed

A concession that the North East’s fishermen would gain in the event of a no-deal Brexit, made by an EU Commissioner, has been welcomed by a local MEP.

Speaking to the EU Budget Committee in response to questions from Jonathan Arnott and others, Commissioner Oettinger said: “Fishermen from France, Ireland, Germany, Denmark fish in UK waters because we have a Single Market.

“This right would fall the day after an exit and that is why it is important if we want to maintain fishermen’s’ rights after a [no-deal] Brexit, if the Brits agree to that, then we would have to give ground on something else as well. There would have to be a quid-pro-quo.”

The news was welcomed by Mr Arnott, a North East Independent MEP, who said: “This is great news for the North East’s hard-working fishermen.

“Whilst I’ve always wanted the UK to negotiate a decent, fair deal with the European Union for Brexit, sadly at present there is no reasonable deal on the table.

“The Commissioner just agreed that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the European Union would lose access to fishing in British waters. He accepted that this would be a bigger blow to the EU than to the UK, and that the EU would have to offer something in return if it wanted to continue any access to British waters.

“That’s what we’ve been saying for decades – perhaps Remainers will listen now that they’re hearing it from an EU Commissioner.”

 

Statements regarding Theresa May’s Brexit deal defeat

Following Theresa May’s Brexit deal defeat North East Independent MEP Jonathan Arnott said, “The British government  has today gone down to the biggest defeat of any government in British history, on the most critical issue of our generation.

“This should be a huge win for those of us who recognise the massive failings of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, but it is difficult to be too optimistic right now.

“Anti-democracy forces are absolutely determined to subvert the will of the people, as expressed in one European election, one referendum and two General Elections.

“The coming weeks will be pivotal in determining whether or not the British people succeed in regaining the freedom that they voted for. Those weeks will determine whether we can still, in any meaningful sense, call our system of government democratic.”

CHILLING WARNING OVER NEW EU POWER GRAB  

A chilling warning about a new EU proposal to protect their budget by suspending payments to Member States it does not agree with has been given by MEP Jonathan Arnott.

 

“The EU Commission is trying a huge power grab,” he said.

 

“It wants to gain the power to stop sending money back to any Member State that isn’t complying with its wishes in terms of ‘the rule of law’ – as defined by that ultimate arbiter of ‘fairness’, the unelected Commission itself.”

 

Mr Arnott, Independent Euro-MP for the North East, explained that the proposal is for the harmless-sounding new ‘Regulation on the Protection of the Union’s Budget in case of generalised deficiencies’.

 

“In layman’s terms, every Member State pays money to the European Union in membership fees. The EU gives them some money back in EU funding and expects their flag to be draped all over it, so that countries are persuaded to think that the money is coming out of thin air rather than from the taxpayer.

 

“Now the Commission is making these chilling moves to gain the power to penalise any Member State as it sees fit.

 

“What’s worse with this particular power grab is that it means the unelected Commission can act unilaterally to suspend payments to any Member State without the elected Parliament even having a say.

 

“Only the European Council would be able to do anything about it, but even then it’s designed to be practically impossible: the Council would get just one month and they would have to use a Qualified Majority to overturn it. That means the Commission could effectively fine any Member State, with the support of only a minority of other nations.

 

“For years, the European Union has fined Member States for being broke. Now, they’re planning to suspend giving money to EU countries that don’t agree with them.

 

“I’m tabling an amendment in the European Parliament to reject the whole thing, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

“We were promised in the referendum campaign that Remain would mean more of the status quo. The European Union wasn’t going to change. There would be no further power grabs, there would be no European Army, no further erosion of our national sovereignty. That was clearly untrue.

The ECJ is there to interpret EU law, not make laws

A ruling today by the European Court of Justice has been highlighted by an MEP as another reason why Brexit should go ahead.

The ECJ has announced that the UK can cancel Brexit without the permission of the other 27 EU member states and without altering the terms of Britain’s membership.

“Basically the ECJ has just written a new law. When courts write laws, there isn’t even a veneer of democratic scrutiny,” said Jonathan Arnott, Independent MEP for the North East.

“The ECJ is there to interpret EU law, not make laws. I think this new direction is extremely worrying and it should not be allowed to go unnoticed particularly as it is a major issue.

“But even aside from that, democracy within the EU is not as we know it in this country. Most people here don’t realise that EU laws are proposed by an unelected Commission and rubber stamped by the elected Parliament.

“Bureaucracy rules over there and it is one of the reasons why 17.4 million people in the UK voted to leave. Today’s ECJ ruling is another reason why we must leave and regain our independence,” he said.

Statement regarding the draft Agreement on Brexit

Independent North East MEP Jonathan Arnott has issued the following statement with regard to the draft Agreement on Brexit, which will go before Cabinet shortly.

“The People of the United Kingdom participated in a Vote in June 2016. That vote of the people mandated withdrawal from the European Union. More people supported Brexit than have ever voted for anything else in British history. Previous elections confirmed the desire for such a vote; subsequent Acts of Parliament and a General Election underlined the decision already taken. To fail to respect such a mandate would strike at the core of our constitutional democratic process. It would irrevocably damage the relationship between the electorate and the government, to an extent I shudder to imagine.

Brexit must happen; that much is clear. Even a competent Prime Minister might well have struggled in negotiations; I have watched opposition politicians sniping from the sidelines for over two years, demeaning and belittling our great nation, and taking the side of the European Union unquestioningly on every issue in negotiations. Those politicians have made the task of negotiating Brexit immeasurably harder. They have done a disservice to our nation so great that it would be easy to resort to hyperbole. Each politician who has so undermined should examine their consciences and ask whether they owe the British people an apology: have they acted out of mere naïveté, blanket loyalty to the European Union, or from a genuine desire to sabotage the vote of the people?

As I have said, even a competent Prime Minister would have struggled. Instead, we have Theresa May. Her Mansion House speech exuded confidence, but I fear her subsequent actions have spectacularly failed to live up to her words. A weak Prome Minister may deliver powerful words, but not results.

The concessions we already know about are vast: compromises on legislation, on borders, on finances and on regulatory alignment.

In the coming days, we will no doubt learn of further concessions.

The Cabinet, and Parliament, must now scrutinise what Theresa May has returned to them with. The basis for such scrutiny should be whether or not the Agreement delivers upon the primary reasons people voted for Brexit.

It should, as Theresa May herself implied at the start of this whole process, be dependent upon whether we have as a nation genuinely taken back control. By the end of the process, will we have:

  1. Stopped EU courts overruling our own?
  2. Repatriated legislative power from Brussels to Westminster?
  3. Stopped sending vast sums of money to the EU each year?
  4. Gained the ability to sign our own free trade deals, without EU rules interfering with our trading arrangements with other nations?
  5. Regained full control over our policy on immigration, ending the discrimination between EU and non-EU immigration? 6. Regained full control over our sovereign waters and fisheries?

These questions broadly reflect May’s negotiation priorities. They also will generally shed light on whether or not the deal respects the people’s vote.

It seems unlikely, bordering on impossible, that the Agreement will even come close to respecting the Vote of the People in 2016. Nevertheless, it is all too frequent in politics – and it is the nature of the 24-hour news cycle in the media which pushes this – for detailed comment to be expected on documents not yet published, let alone read. Digesting 500 pages of technical agreement will not be straightforward, but all sides should take the trouble to do so. Informed debate matters.

Another question will be critical. We need to ask to what extent this Agreement will bind us in perpetuity. If it genuinely offers transition to a more acceptable relationship with the European Union, that is one thing. But if we remain trapped, locked into such an unacceptable fudge, with no means of altering the arrangement without EU approval, we risk being forever trapped. I am wary of this point, and await full publication of the Agreement.

If Theresa May has indeed failed in negotiations, then Cabinet and Parliament have a responsibility to prevent a poor deal going through.

Theresa May herself told us that no deal would be preferable to a poor deal: if she has indeed returned with a poor deal, Parliament would be right to reject it; in Theresa May’s own words, a no-deal scenario would be better.

Time is running short. It is unfashionable amongst those who support a true, proper, clean Brexit to say so, but time is now of the essence.

There is another approach, but that requires a change of Prime Minister. The window of opportunity will be short, but must be taken.

A simple but wide-ranging tariff-free trading agreement with appropriate mutual recognition of standards can, I believe, be negotiated in time – but it now requires courage and leadership. Those qualities have sadly been lacking in our government.

If this draft Agreement proves to be as bad as is being floated, there will only be a brief opportunity to replace incompetence with competence at Number 10 – to snatch victory from the jaws of the defeat which I fear is in turn being snatched from the people’s victory of 2016. Such competence will not, sadly, be found on the Opposition front bench.”

 

 

 

Unemployment figures welcomed by local MEP

Independent North East MEP Jonathan Arnott has welcomed today’s news that unemployment in the region has fallen:

“Figures show that unemployment in the North East fell by a further 3,000 to 56,000 between May and July. This is fantastic news for the North East economy, showing that we are finally beginning to catch up with the rest of the country.

“Whilst the rate of 4.4% remains above the UK average, it has fallen dramatically over the last two years and is now below other areas including the North West.

“Until fairly recently, the North East had by far the highest unemployment figures in the UK and it is positive news that the trend of improvement in the North East is continuing.”, said Mr Arnott, Independent Euro-MP.

“These figures prove that claims by Remainers that mass unemployment would immediately follow the referendum result were false. It is turning out to be the opposite; as we correctly predicted a couple of years ago, the lower pound has provided a boost to manufacturing in our region.

“Further good news is that wages are now rising faster than inflation. Of course, there is no room for complacency as there are still concerns about too many people having little choice but to accept casual and zero-hours contracts; job security matters too and that must not be overlooked,” said Mr Arnott.

Local MEP supports calls for child chess prodigy to stay

A chess playing MEP has lent his support to calls for a child chess prodigy to be allowed to remain in this country.

Nine-year-old Shreyas Royal has been dubbed Britain’s “greatest chess prospect in a generation” and is ranked number four in the world in his age group.

But his father’s visa will expire next month and the family, who came to the UK six years ago, must return to India.

Shreyas was born in India but has lived in south London since the age of three when his father, Jitendra Singh, was offered a job as an IT project manager – and his employers want him to continue working for them.

His son learnt to play the game in this country and has since represented England internationally.

Mr Singh, whose five-year work visa is due to expire next month, has called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let the family stay and two MPs are backing that request.

Jonathan Arnott, a North East Independent MEP, himself a chess Candidate Master, who has played in international competitions, has also voiced his support for the family.

“This should not happen under a supposedly merit-based system; it strikes at the heart of fairness. We need a true equivalent of the American ‘Extraordinary Ability’ visa to ensure that we don’t waste the talents of those who have something exceptional to offer our nation.

“In the meantime, common sense would dictate that Shreyas Royal should be allowed to stay in the UK.

“There is good reason why the public is concerned about ensuring that immigration is brought under control, but once again the Home Office appears to be going about it in the wrong way,” said Mr Arnott.

The Home Office has commented: “Every visa case is assessed on its own merits in line with immigration rules.”

Euro-MP blasts telephone ‘scam’ hitting pensioners the hardest

With consumers in the North East being ripped-off to the tune of over £11 for a 90-second call to Directory Enquiries services, local Independent Euro-MP Jonathan Arnott has called it a ‘scam’ and demanded immediate action – together with some contrition from those who caused this situation in the first place.
Twice as many over-65s (4%) use 118 services as all adults (2%), leading to suggestions that some of our poorest pensioners are being victimised most by the current situation.
Jonathan Arnott said: “It is utterly morally despicable for companies to be allowed to hike their prices so much without it being made clear to consumers that they’ve done so. They seem to think that fleecing local pensioners is a licence to print money, but it isn’t. This is an appalling situation for those who get a massive shock when their phone bill arrives. Ofcom have been monitoring this situation for over a year now; it’s time for less monitoring and more action.
“I’m sure many of us remember that before the switch over to the 118 services, a phone call to Directory Enquiries used to cost a flat-rate 40p. They may have forgotten, but I have not, that the European Union forced this situation upon us through Directive 2002/77/EC. The European Commission arrogantly seek to pull the wool over our eyes by denying on their website that they ‘demand the use of 118’, in the full knowledge that they actually demanded the change – they just would have allowed us to use a different number if we’d wanted to.
“This is yet another example of just how far the European Union reaches into our daily lives: forget rip-off Britain, this is rip-off Brussels. The European Union created this mess; it’s high time that Ofcom got on with fixing it.”
Notes to Editors:
2 – See, for example, footnote 15 on p19 of this document from the National Audit Office
3 – Directive 2002/77/EC required (article 8) the removal of this public service from BT and placing in the hands of various companies, causing confusion and huge price hikes: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32002L0077&from=EN
4 – The Commission, however, state misleadingly that “the UK was not forced to adopt the 118 directory enquiries prefix as a result of EU law”. Indeed  it was not; the UK could have chosen 117, 119 or any other three digits – but the Commission mandated the change. See: https://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/commission-to-blame-for-new-118-enquiry-number/

Jonathan Arnott MEP has slammed a suggestion by five North-East Labour MPs that the Brexit referendum should be re-fought

An independent North East Euro-MP has slammed a suggestion by five North-East Labour MPs that the Brexit referendum should be re-fought, saying the conversation should have moved on by now.

Jonathan Arnott said “Let’s just try to keep things in context, shall we? Yes, we had a referendum at which more people voted Leave than have voted for anything else in British history – including 58% here in the North East. But that one referendum didn’t come in isolation. The 2014 European elections, the 2015 General Election and the 2017 General Election were all won by parties pledging to leave the EU, or to hold and implement the referendum result.

“David Cameron, a Remainer, described the referendum as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’. Are we now to reinvent this, and say it should be two, three or four times just because he didn’t get his way?

“The conversation should have moved on by now. Leave or Remain should be ancient history; we should be debating what kind of independent nation we want to be, how to exercise our newly-regained power, imaginative policies on global trade or local tax that would have been illegal whilst in the EU.”

The five Labour MPs, who made the call writing in the Independent, are Phil Wilson (Sedgefield), Paul Williams (Stockton South), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South), Anna Turley (Redcar) and Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle North). Four of the five constituencies they represent voted for Leave at the referendum.