A vision for the North East

The UK Independence Party has today (Tue) launched a major new document which sets out UKIP North East’s proposals for a vibrant region post-Brexit,  proving that UKIP is here to stay as a major Northern political player for years to come.

‘A Vision For The North East’ is the Party’s response to false claims that UKIP is no longer relevant, and while the national Labour Party splits apart UKIP is working on consolidating its role as their main challengers in the North East.

From rebuilding our fisheries to upgrading our roads, from business rates to proposing new Veterans’ Centres in our cities to look after ex-forces personnel, the document covers ideas for how the North East can be turned around.

With the economic gap between the North East and the rest of the country having grown dramatically in recent years, the region has the highest unemployment in the country – and the difference between the North East and the UK average is now more than five times greater than it was a decade ago.

Local Euro-MP Jonathan Arnott said, “For far too long the North East has been abandoned and ignored by our governments. It’s time for us to fight for a fair deal in terms of funding, but also for our national government to understand the needs of local business and manufacturers.

“We’re a region that builds things, that makes things, that sells things. Our government and councils should be doing everything they can to make that easier.”

UKIP’s North East Regional Chairman Cllr Steve Turner added, “UKIP is all about bringing power back to the people, and that’s what the Party stands for in local government.

“We oppose the council Cabinet system, support local referendums and are the only Party to operate a no-whipping system because councillors should represent local people not Party bosses.”

The timing of the new document – just 10 days before voting closes in the UKIP Leadership Election – demonstrates that the regional Party is determined that the North East is not forgotten by the candidates at this critical time.

It is laying down the gauntlet to the leadership candidates to remember that the North East is crucial to the future of UKIP. The Party’s share of the vote at the last General Election was higher in the North East than in any other area of the country.




Statement on the UKIP leadership election

Over recent weeks, I have been amazed by the amount of support that I’ve received from ordinary hard-working UKIP members for my leadership campaign. It’s not a headline-grabbing campaign because it’s a campaign of unity, a campaign to bring this Party back together after all of the turmoil that we have seen since the referendum. My view is that there actually isn’t that much wrong with UKIP’s actual policies; rather, I want us to develop our messaging to appeal to a broader spectrum of the public than we’ve previously reached. I believe firmly that the Party requires internal reform, and that I have the necessary skills to deliver on that.

In an increasingly media-driven campaign, these messages are not ones which are likely to make the front pages. Nor am I prepared, as some have urged me to do, to abandon my principles and adopt a strategy of courting controversy in order to gain column inches. Indeed, my belief is that UKIP must become a grown-up political party which is capable of taking on the political establishment on their own grounds. I want to see a UKIP which isn’t frightened to talk about the economy, a UKIP which will discuss the future of our NHS, a UKIP which champions excellence in education which goes far beyond Grammar Schools, a UKIP which has at its core a belief in people power and Direct Democracy, and a UKIP which will declare war on the crime which blights so many working-class communities. I want to see a UKIP which is more professional in taking the fight to our opposition in the target seats.

Oddly I have been criticised by some for stating that we need tougher policies on animal welfare in this country. I’m told, as we all already know, that courts already have the power to jail those who video themselves torturing defenceless animals to death. That is so, but the maximum sentences are absolutely derisory and courts on a regular basis are not jailing those who do it at all. I’ve used this in speeches as just one symptom of the malaise that has overtaken our criminal justice system.

I’ve attended all of the Party’s internal leadership hustings so far. The format has allowed me to develop a platform, though actual debate between candidates has been limited. I have learned that I have significant support in the North of England, and indeed I am convinced that I am leading the race across the North. Yet it is a fundamental of the UKIP membership that the majority of members do not hail from the North of England; I would need not merely to be leading in the North of England but to have an absolutely overwhelming level of support in the North to have any realistic chance of winning the leadership election.

I’ve built a level of support for my campaign which would no doubt be sufficient for a second-place finish nationally, but no more than that – and there is no prize for a silver medal in a leadership contest. We are in the process of electing a new leader of the UK’s third political party. This should not be taken lightly, and the only reason for standing is for a candidate to believe that they can meaningfully aim to win the ballot. I do not subscribe to the view that anyone should stand to raise their own profile; we are in the middle of a very serious endeavour.

I have also been let down badly by those who have said one thing in private and done another in public. That’s politics, but UKIP should be better than that.

In a smaller field of candidates, there would be a massive chance for a uniting, positive, compromise candidate to win. That is not the race that we are in. Having spoken at length to colleagues, friends and family over recent days, I have come to the conclusion that it is appropriate at this time for me to step down from the leadership race. This will provide sufficient time for my supporters to endorse another candidate, whoever she may be. I wish them all the best. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of those who have worked on my behalf and supported my campaign, and to thank the MEPs, AMs, councillors, branch and regional chairmen and others who signed my nomination papers and endorsed my campaign. Your support, encouragement and help will not be forgotten.

Having gone from election campaign to referendum to leadership election campaign in the last six months, everything has been an emotional rollercoaster. I now intend to take a few weeks out, to take a holiday and to reconnect with personal friends I haven’t had chance to spend time with lately.

I shall continue to monitor future developments in the leadership election with interest. I have not yet fully made up my own mind which other candidate to support, and until I am fully convinced in my own mind I am not prepared to endorse any other candidate.

I wish the future leader of UKIP all the best.


Jonathan Arnott MEP welcomes investment from GlaxoSmithKline

The decision by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to invest £275m at its UK manufacturing sites including in County Durham has been welcomed by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“This is great news not just for the local area but for Britain in general and I am delighted with the firm’s view that despite Brexit the country remains an attractive location.

“There was such doom-mongering about the economic future of the UK before the Referendum vote but already we are seeing that the fears were exaggerated beyond belief and the GSK investment decision demonstrates this,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East.

The company, which has nine sites employing a total of 6,000 people, will invest a total of £92 million at the Barnard Castle site to build a new sterilising facility.

“Investment is desperately needed in my constituency which repeatedly comes out the worst in the country in terms of employment, wages and house prices. I earnestly hope that this GSK decision will be mirrored by other firms.”

Mr Arnott, who is standing for leadership of UKIP following the resignation of Nigel Farage, added, “Regardless of whether I become leader or not I will continue to do everything I can for the North East which has been shamefully neglected for decades by successive governments.”


Jonathan Arnott MEP announces bid for leadership of UKIP

UKIP’s Jonathan Arnott has announced his candidacy to be the party’s leader following the resignation of Nigel Farage.

Mr Arnott, 35, MEP for the North East, aims to reach out to the 13.6 million people who voted to leave the European Union on June 23 but who did not feel able to support UKIP at last year’s general election.

A former mathematics teacher, Mr Arnott is keen to develop a more unified UKIP with a wider appeal to all British citizens.

Speaking about his intention to speak directly to the millions who voted for Brexit but not necessarily for UKIP, he said: “These people voted for Brexit in a democratic election and our government must be held to account, to ensure that ‘no’ really does mean ‘no’ and that Brexit really does mean Brexit.

“It is increasingly clear, following Andrea Leadsom’s abandoning the race to become Prime Minister, that the establishment is organising itself for ‘business as usual’.

“Worryingly, under the new Prime Minister Theresa May, negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will be in hands of those who do not actually want us to leave.

“The Labour Party is of course in complete disarray, so quite frankly UKIP represents the only alternative to the establishment and will be the only unifying force for Brexit.

“Since June 23, the entire DNA of UKIP has changed. We are no longer a party of protest, but a party of the future.

“There are many challenges that lie ahead but first we must hold the government’s feet to the fire to enact the will of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit in the referendum.

“I envision a party which will use the opportunity provided by Brexit to create jobs for working people, to protect our steel industry and manufacturing, to rebuild our fisheries and deregulate our small businesses.

“We will stand up for the working people who Labour ignore and the Conservatives despise. And we will be the party that stands up for our small businesses, helping them to create jobs and become the big businesses of tomorrow.

“We are not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration, but we are fiercely opposed to uncontrolled mass net immigration, which drives down wages and ultimately costs jobs.

“We’re finally moving power back from Brussels to Westminster, but now we must campaign further to devolve that power from Westminster to the people.

“I do not fear taking on the rudderless Labour Party in its heartlands. In my region, the North East of England, I led the UKIP fight at the 2015 general election.

“We went from having below-average UKIP results in 2010 to gaining the highest UKIP share of the vote of any region in the country and we stand poised to gain Westminster seats.

“My two years as local elections co-ordinator, and six as the party’s general secretary, have given me an intimate understanding of the internal workings of UKIP and I propose constitutional reform that will achieve a dynamic, democratic party where the views of grassroots members and branches have greater input.

“Standing for leader has not been an easy decision for me to make, as I know the level of hard work and commitment that will be required.

“I have nothing but praise for the way that Nigel Farage, the greatest orator in modern politics, was able to devote so much time and energy to UKIP.”

Jonathan has been MEP for the North East since 2014. Prior to being elected he was the party’s general secretary for six years.

He enrolled at the University of Sheffield aged just 15, having gained his ‘A’ levels three years early, leaving after having attained a Masters in Mathematics.

He went on to become head of mathematics at a school in Sheffield before entering politics.

A skilful chess player, and former Yorkshire chess captain, Jonathan has also played for Britain at the board game Stratego. He is married and lives near Middlesbrough.

Mr Arnott has written a book about chess and more recently authored: “The Blueprint: Our Future After Brexit.”


Response to the Chilcot report

Many MPs voted for military intervention in Iraq, at the behest of Tony Blair, and have since changed their minds on the basis of what has happened since.

I opposed it at the time, largely because of the shifting reasoning. We were told that it was about support for terrorism. When that couldn’t be proved, we were then informed that it was about weapons of mass destruction. Finally, we were given the reasoning that it would help the Iraqi people.

But without a credible plan, there was no guarantee that it would actually help anyone. The rise of ISIS proved much worse than I, or many of us, could ever have imagined.

If the reason for war keeps changing, then it begins to look like an excuse: a government which was desperate to give any rationale it could think of for going to war, irrespective of evidence. War is not something which should ever be entered into lightly, or without due consideration and contemplation. It is the most solemn duty of any government, under the leadership of any Prime Minister. For that reason I opposed it.

Now the Chilcot report has been published, we know more than we did. It will take time to absorb such a lengthy, detailed and nuanced report. The report is hugely critical of the Blair administration, for example:

“Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

“The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”

It also questions how the legal basis for war was decided.

Blair told Chilcot that much could be seen only now with hindsight; Chilcot blew this out of the water: “We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion.”

The comments in the Chilcot report go beyond what I was aware of at the time; if the evidence available to the Blair government was even more overwhelming at the time, how could Blair and his cabinet possibly have gone along with it?

Robin Cook did not. He resigned from the Cabinet, being unable to accept collective responsibility on the war. His comments at the time were telling:

“On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own. Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies.”

Why didn’t more of the Labour Cabinet, who were in full possession of all the facts, speak out at the time?

There will be many questions that should be asked in the coming days but one will be pivotal. How did Labour get things so badly wrong, and how can we prevent war ever being entered into so lightly by a British government again?

Statement on the resignation of Nigel Farage MEP

Like most of you, I have just seen the news that Nigel Farage has resigned as leader of UKIP. I could say many things about Nigel Farage, as I’m sure we all could. But I’ll point out the two most obvious in my view. Nigel is the greatest orator of our time. His public speaking […]

Column – No place for racism in post-Brexit UK

If there were a prize for the most blindingly obvious title for any article anywhere, this one should be a pretty good entrant. Why do I even feel the need to write something which should be self-evident to anyone, anywhere?

Of course there’s no place for racism. In a post-Brexit UK, a pre-Brexit UK, or indeed in any other modern democracy. Yet the last fortnight has seen a pressure cooker of utter stupidity, mainly from the Remain side but I’ll hold my hands up and accept that some in Leave have been almost as guilty.

A vote for Brexit was many things. For most it was a vote to say that the UK is the best place to make British laws. For many it was a vote for control over immigration. For some it was a vote against the lobbying power of the big multinationals and for others it was a vote for a Britain free to negotiate trade deals around the world, looking to the globe not Little Europe. Still others voted to save money on our membership fee that could be pumped back into our NHS.

There were many reasons. To get 17.4 million people to vote for anything, anything at all, is completely unprecedented in the United Kingdom. If ever we needed proof that referendums engage and motivate people, it’s the fact that more people voted in this referendum than at a General Election. Many of who are totally disillusioned with party politics voted because they believed that this vote would actually change something.

Yet for a pathetically ridiculous few, it was a vote for something nastier. It’s the hate-filled vomit-inducing gut-wrenching bigotry of those who take a 1980s football hooligan mentality and aim it at immigrants.

(And on the Remain side there’s been some hooliganism too; we’ve had Leave campaigners see their property defaced, targeted and woken up during the night, thuggish graffiti daubed on boards, and women living alone preyed upon.)

I’ll condemn it from people who profess to support the UK too. I’m going to call the racists who daub themselves in a Brexit victory out for what they are. Racist, and stupid. Racist because whilst it’s a perfectly reasonable position to support limits on immigration, better policing of our borders and the deportation of foreign criminals, that is light years away from those appalling people who abuse those of a different skin colour. Death threats against those involved in politics haven’t gone away; from the UKIP candidate who was threatened with beheading last year to the threats against Pat Glass MP very recently. We need to ask why the law is not providing sufficient protection from criminal behaviour. The murder of Jo Cox MP raises further concerns around how we deal with mental health issues in this country, and security challenges which went ignored for too long.

Mainly though, it’s stupid. Because a vote for Brexit was actually vote against discrimination. If we had voted to stay in the EU there would have been zero chance of ending the discriminatory policy of controlling immigration from non-EU countries whilst allowing a free-for-all for the EU27. The current system is frankly immoral: it values a French or Romanian citizen higher than an Indian or Australian.

Why did I vote Leave? Yes, it was for many of the reasons outlined above, but it was also to end that discrimination and to allow us to move to a fair system where we control immigration.

Words cannot express the utter contempt that I feel for the thugs who seek to hijack the just cause of Leave. Was every bit of rhetoric on the Leave side on immigration perfect? No. Was Remain’s World War 3 doom-mongering and cataclysmic threats perfect? No; indeed, it’s partly to blame for spooking the stock markets.

Leave and Remain together need to be quite clear that there’s no place for racism in a post-Brexit UK. Remain must acknowledge that there will be a post-Brexit UK, and attempts of a disillusioned few to overturn that result must be stopped. We should all now be on the same side; the side of rationally, fairly and reasonably implementing the democratic mandate for Leave – which here in the North East was one of the strongest anywhere in the country – and achieving the best possible deal for Britain.

Here’s why we need to get tough in negotiatons with EU

I never thought that Boris Johnson would win the Conservative Party leadership. Indeed, I predicted in my book that he wouldn’t make the final two. But I was wrong in that I expected he would stand.

Is Boris Johnson really the person we could see as a future Prime Minister? Is he the right person to negotiate our future trade deal with the European Union? He did go up in my estimation during the referendum campaign, but not enough to suggest that I’d want him as PM.

We need a tough negotiator. We need someone who will understand some fundamental principles of negotiation. Let’s talk about how I buy a car.

Firstly, I don’t take someone with me who’s going to tell me that the car is worth the asking price and I’ll never get a better deal. If I’m trying to haggle down the price, having a friend there telling me not to haggle is going to cost me a lot of money.

A lot of the Remain campaigners told us during the campaign that we could never get a good deal with the European Union. Okay, fair enough, they were campaigning for a Remain vote. Then we voted to Leave and they continued to say it. That’s quite irresponsible actually; it’s making it harder for us to negotiate a better deal.

Secondly, I ask for a better deal than the one I’m actually going to get. If I ask for the deal I really want, then I’ve got no room for manoeuvre.

Thirdly, I play to my strengths. I talk up the value of my trade-in car. If I can afford to pay in cash, I tell them it’s a hassle-free sale. If I’m taking their finance deal, I point out they’ll make profit on the finance deal.

We should play up our strengths in this renegotiation too. When we have 6 of the world’s top 25 universities, and the rest of the EU has none, don’t they want us to collaborate with them on research? When we’re major net importers from the EU, don’t they want to continue selling into our market? When we’re a permanent member of the UN Security Council and global leaders in security and intelligence, don’t they want an information-sharing agreement with us? Don’t they want to be able to trade freely with the world’s 5th-largest economy?

Fourthly, be prepared to walk away. Ultimately if I go to buy a car, and the dealership isn’t playing ball, I have to be willing to walk out of the door. As I leave, they always call me back and suddenly find that they can offer me a better deal.

So, we need to recognise that trading on World Trade Organisation terms would cost the EU more than it costs us. For every £1 (NET) we currently give the EU, we’d be paying 66p in tariffs. I mean hey, we could even pay the tariffs directly from the Treasury and our businesses would be no worse off. But the EU’s businesses would have to pay our government far more in tariffs. We’d be getting the better end of the deal.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s all sorts of reasons why the WTO+ option isn’t ideal. But we can’t be scared by it: it’s a worse deal for them than it is for us.
If we want a really, really good deal with the EU then we need to be prepared to do some tough negotiating.

The United Kingdom has voted to Leave the European Union

North East UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott said, “This is a tremendous day for Britain and for our democratic process.

“The people of the North East have led the way in voting clearly for Brexit. The British people as a whole have spoken and we have regained control over our own destiny.

“Now the hard work begins: we must now deal with our European colleagues as friends and neighbours and negotiate a deal for the future which allows us to trade freely with the EU, control our borders and work together for our mutual benefit.

“I am immensely proud of everyone who worked tirelessly to achieve this referendum result. We must now be vigilant to ensure that our government sticks to its promises and respects the result of the referendum.”