TTIP vote delay condemned by UKIP

Following the European Parliament’s delay of the vote on TTIP, local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott has described the European Parliament as “a democratic vacuum.”

“Thousands of people have been contacting UKIP – including many to me personally –  as they are worried about how TTIP will privatise the NHS. They are begging their MEPs to vote against it.

“But rather than listen to the will of the people and dropping TTIP, the EU Commissioners have put the vote off until such a time they think they can win it.

“Instead of doing what the people want, they are trying to get the people to do what they want.

“I had managed to persuade the European Parliament to extend the debate on TTIP so that it could be given greater security but then we were ambushed with a proposal to postpone that as well as the vote.

“I spoke on behalf of UKIP’s MEPs arguing that it should continue because it was a matter of such public importance. But sadly we lost the vote on that by 183-181, with the British Conservative Party voting to postpone the debate – so sparing them exposing their embarrassing internal conflicts.

“For democracy, the NHS and for public services it has never been clearer than it is today that the UK needs to leave the EU,” he said.

 

Statement on TTIP

I have received literally thousands of emails and letters from members of the public about TTIP. Without a single exception, they have raised concerns about this proposed trade deal between the European Union and the USA.

I share most of these concerns. I am concerned about the potential threat to our NHS, to other public services, that our government could be overruled in lawsuits from private investors, and a small businesses may not get a level playing field.

I support the principle of free trade but what is on the table is not really a free trade agreement; it is a corporatist trade agreement.

After much consideration I have therefore come to the conclusion that I must vote ‘NO’ to TTIP in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

My constituents can be assured that I will, however, be supporting amendments tabled by UKIP and others (including Amendment 27) to mitigate the worst aspects of TTIP, should it eventually come into force.

Expression of opposition to Royal Mail sell-off

The further sell-off of the Royal Mail has been criticised today by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The plans announced by George Osborne will see the Government sell the remaining 30% stake in Royal Mail leaving it owned by a mix of employees and private investors.

“I oppose the Royal Mail sell-off. It’s a natural monopoly and I firmly believe it should have always remained in public hands to safeguard its long-term future.” Said Mr Arnott.

“EU Postal services directives 97/67/EC and 2002/39/EC don’t help because they allow companies to compete with lucrative parts of business leaving Royal Mail with the expensive parts of delivering letters. I don’t want to see our 1st Class Royal Mail become a 2nd Class service” He added.

Royal Mail has already had to make huge changes to the way it operates in the last twelve months including the difficult decision to undertake huge cuts to try to remain profitable. This further sell-off makes the long term security of the Royal Mail even more uncertain.

North East jobs are at risk because of EU bureaucracy

Vital jobs in the North East are at risk because of EU bureaucracy, warned UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

The situation in the North Sea oil and gas industry has been described as “critical” by an industry chief because the UK loses out to foreign competitors.

Dennis Clark, chairman of OGN Fabricators, says the industry is on the brink of extinction and has predicted that if no more work is secured before the last of its two remaining contracts is completed in November their Wallsend yard will close with 1,250 job losses.

“When the government is spoken to about this he says that they respond saying they cannot favour UK content as it is against European rules,” said Mr Arnott, North East Euro-MP.

“This is just not good enough, British jobs including thousands in the North East, are at risk.

“This is a classic example of how our hands are tied by the EU and nothing is going to improve on that front until we withdraw our membership.

“Our government talks about developing the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but

this does not auger well. The North East needs a great deal of investment and commitment and this includes the offshore oil and gas industry,” said Mr Arnott.

Response to OLAF fraud report

Figures released by EU anti-fraud investigators OLAF are doubtless just the tip of the iceberg of the vast sums lost to fraud, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

“These shocking figures show that Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria are the worst countries for such illegal behaviour and I’m glad to say that the UK is at the bottom of the list.

“The EU Commission’s financial control is useless and tens of billions of pounds are lost through mis-management and dishonesty,” said Mr Arnott, who sits on the parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee.

“This lack of control makes it much easier for fraudsters to get their sticky fingers on the money – a staggering £55million a day of which comes from the UK.

“OLAF relies on co-operation from the member states. I think we can see that some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, are, to say the least, lax with their financial safeguards and open to exploitation.

“Every day we find more and more reasons why we urgently need a referendum so we can escape the tentacles of the EU and get back our sovereignty and keep our taxpayers money in our own country.”

Why Labour is wrong on TTIP

There’s actually a lot of agreement between Labour and UKIP on the proposed EU-USA trade deal (TTIP).

We agree, I think, that public services – and in particular the NHS – should not be opened up to competition from American companies.

We agree, I hope, that the notion of allowing companies to sue national governments if they don’t like their policies is absurd. And that’s why UKIP opposes the Investor-State Dispute Settlement. You can see why the Americans want it in; they don’t have the same level of trust in all 28 countries and want some recourse in law. But it’s not in the UK’s interests (and if we were allowed to negotiate our own trade deal with the USA they probably wouldn’t even be requesting it).

So what was yesterday’s spat all about? It was, at its heart, a clash between pragmatism and naïveté.

The Parliament committees aren’t really voting on TTIP at the moment. Of course they aren’t – they couldn’t just amend a proposed treaty at will, without consulting the other side! The European Parliament is considering what it thinks the EU’s negotiating position should be.

So in yesterday’s committee, William Dartmouth for UKIP proposed amendments which specified and named the British NHS as requiring protection from TTIP. Exclude other public services as well? By all means – but make no mistake about it: the NHS is a red line. We will not allow it to be privatised by a trade deal.

The Labour MEPs proposed a ‘compromise agreement’ which removed specific mention of the NHS – but did say that public services should be exempted.

Technically they’re right that no mention of the NHS is specifically required, but that’s monumentally naive. We’re discussing what the EU’s negotiating position should be.

With William’s amendment, we’d have sent a clear message to the Americans: hands off our NHS. He knew what he was doing and why. Now, the message that will be sent to America is less clear.

The Labour ‘compromise amendment’ stopped William’s amendment being voted upon; it seems that, rather than consider the benefits of a specific mention of the NHS Labour would rather ensure that an amendment didn’t pass which was proposed by UKIP. Would they have done the same, I wonder, had it been a Lib Dem amendment?

William Dartmouth is an experienced member of the Trade Committee of the European Parliament. He’s seen this all before and knew what he was doing and why. Has Labour Party politics just made the fight for our NHS a shade harder to win?

Five reasons why membership of the European Union is bad for the North East

Compelling reasons why membership of the European Union is bad for the North East have been voiced by UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

Responding to remarks by local Labour Euro-MPs giving five reasons to stay in the European Union Mr Arnott has given five cogent reasons to leave.

UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott said:

“Sadly, the pro-EU case is selling myths (such as the idea that the EU, not NATO, keeps the peace), scaremongering (claiming that jobs are at risk when they’re not, or raising the spectre of phantom trade tariffs) and half-truths (praising some ‘good’ pieces of legislation like maternity rights – where our Parliament in Westminster could, should and does provide protection for our own workers).  There’s a positive case for trading with Europe but not being governed by Europe, which actually addresses the vast majority of their concerns.  Here are my top 5 reasons to leave:

Reason 1.  To stop sending £55 million+ of taxpayers’ money every single day to Brussels

Whenever you hear talk about ‘EU money’, remember that just means we’re getting a portion of our own taxation back.  Every EU project has been paid for – and more – by the taxpayer.

Reason 2.  To develop our global trade links and create new jobs

Outside the EU we’d be free to negotiate our own trade deals.  Forget flawed deals (like the proposed TTIP) negotiated for us by the EU Trade Commissioner.  Switzerland has more free trade deals than we do; it’s time to remember the Commonwealth, look to the wider world, and trade with emerging markets as well as Europe.

Did you know?  Companies like JCB and Dyson want to leave the EU because it would be good for trade.

Reason 3.  To control our borders

We believe that the British people, and the British Parliament in Westminster, should have the right to determine our own immigration policy.

Reason 4.  To regain the freedom to make our own laws

From agriculture to commerce, foreign aid to business, criminal justice to transport, our own Parliament in Westminster should be taking the final decisions.  Every so-called ‘good’ EU law could have been passed by our own Parliament, but we could avoid the ‘bad’ ones.

Did you know? The European Arrest Warrant leaves British citizens vulnerable to deportation without any evidence being weighed up in a British court.  

Reason 5.  To stop EU red tape and regulation strangling our small businesses

With more lobbyists in Brussels than Washington DC, big business certainly knows how to shape EU legislation so that it has a competitive advantage.  But small businesses don’t have the resources to cope.  Our small businesses shouldn’t be strangled at birth, but freed to become the big business of tomorrow.

Did you know? Many small businesses can’t afford to trade with Europe any more because of the new VATMOSS regulations.

More of the same from this year’s Queen’s Speech

“The Queen’s speech contains a lot of ‘more of the same’, continuing to throw unrealistic amounts of taxpayers’ money at projects like HS2.

But many of the proposals are frustrating because they’re halfway to being good. Extending the right-to buy scheme is a great idea, but only if we build a new council house to replace every single one bought.

Increasing the tax threshold copies a long-standing UKIP plan, but it’s a cheap imitation because it won’t take those working a standard working week on minimum wage out of income tax altogether.

Banning so-called ‘legal highs’ is needed, but we need to see the detail to prevent loopholes being exploited.

The ‘Northern powerhouse’ remains light on detail, and I’m keen to ensure that proposals for greater democracy don’t just mean more politicians.

Sadly, it seems that nothing will be done to repeal or reform failing policies like the ‘bedroom tax’.

It’s not the worst queen’s speech, but there has been a massive missed opportunity.

Parity for pre-payment energy meters

A call was made today for Ofgem investigations into pre-payment energy meters being forcibly installed in people’s homes to go further.

Local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott said, “While I am pleased that the energy watchdog is looking into this practice I would like them to also press for the higher charge levied on pre-payment customers to be dropped.

“Why should those who pay in advance for their gas and electricity have to pay an average of £80 a year more than direct debit customers?

“Often those with pre-payment meters are the least able in society to meet their bills and yet they are penalised with higher charges. I would like Ofgem to press for this unfair discrimination to be stopped.”

Ofgem is to look into the imposition of pre-payment meters by court order for those who have run up debt after figures revealed that 97,000 pre-pay gas and electricity meters were installed in England, Wales and Scotland last year alone.

Mr Arnott, pointed out, “Because pre-payment meter customers are unable to benefit from competitive better deals they are at a permanent disadvantage. People struggling with debts need help, not an extra financial burden.”

ends

Jonathan Arnott MEP stresses that leaving the EU would not mean severing trade links with Europe

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP’s North East MEP, said that leaving the EU would not mean severing trade links with Europe, and added: “It appears that Cameron’s approach to renegotiation is to not actually ask for meaningful reform of the European Union, so there’s certainly no reason why we can’t get on with the referendum and hold it as soon as possible. The referendum has been dangled for many years, so it’s no wonder that there’s some uncertainty being caused.

“Of course, no business would want to cut our trade links with Europe – but fortunately that ‘nuclear option’ isn’t on the table. We have a stark choice to come in the referendum. There’s the status quo of a little-European mindset, continuing the EU’s backward-looking insular protectionism. Or, we can continue to trade with Europe without fear – but open our eyes to the needs of a modern, vibrant, global economy and develop our trade links with emerging markets.”