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.

MEP slams peers amendment vote

Local MEP Jonathan Arnott has described the House of Lords vote on an amendment for the UK to continue in the EU’s Customs Union as “an utter betrayal.”

The amendment, tabled by cross-bencher Lord Kerr, passed with a majority of 123 votes and was backed not only by Labour and Lib Dems, but also by some senior Conservative peers.

Independent MEP Mr Arnott said, “It is both saddening and ironic at the same time that an unelected House of Lords sees fit to attempt to overturn the biggest democratic mandate in the history of our country.

“The one thing both Leave and Remain campaigns agreed on during the referendum campaign was that a vote for Brexit would mean leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.

“Labour are trying to keep the UK in the Single Market; the House of Lords are trying to keep us in the Customs Union. If the UK were to remain in both, we wouldn’t regain control of our  Parliamentary sovereignty, our courts, our finances, our borders, or our fisheries.

“We wouldn’t be able to negotiate trade deals for ourselves. In fact, it would mean nothing had been regained on every single major reason that caused Brexit voters to choose Brexit. It would be Brexit in name only, an utter betrayal of 17.4 million people – including a huge 58% right here in the North East.

“Instead of trying to limit Brexit, we should be trying to seize the opportunities it provides. Wouldn’t it be nice if our government started showing some vision, courage and leadership, working out how we can make the most of this momentous decision rather than constantly downplaying it? A good start would be for the Commons to torpedo this awful amendment.”

The fundamental principle of the EU telling us what our policies must be post-Brexit is reprehensible

Local MEP Jonathan Arnott has reacted angrily to EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier laying down the law over UK policies after Britain leaves the European Union.

Speaking at an environment conference, Mr Barnier declared that Britain must sign a ‘non-regression’ clause to prevent ‘key pre-Brexit standards’ being lowered in any further trade deals between the UK and EU.

“It is typical EU arrogance for them to imply they’re the only ones upholding ‘standards’, when in many areas we have higher standards than the European Union and legislated before them (they’ve finally caught up on the presumption of innocence this month, some 803 years behind us). But this isn’t really about standards, it’s about control. It’s about the European Union seeking to control our domestic policies, to prevent the UK becoming more competitive, to stop our economy booming – disappointingly, the Commission seems to consider a vibrant UK economy a threat to them, rather than an asset in a great trading partner right on their doorstep.

“Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of any of the issues raised by Barnier, the fundamental principle of the EU telling us what our policies must be post-Brexit is reprehensible,” said Mr Arnott, an Independent Euro-MP for the North East. “Their endless red tape and control is one of the reasons so many millions voted for Brexit in the first place. We voted for freedom and our government must stand firm and not be bullied,” he said.

“Even if the UK wanted to surrender on this point, I question whether a legally-binding guarantee about future domestic policies can even be legally achieved; a fundamental principle of the UK’s democracy is that no British Parliament may legally bind its successor.”

Mr Barnier has said that the UK would not be allowed to lower ‘standards’ on issues including taxation if a post-Brexit deal is to be achieved, insisting a so-called ‘level playing field’ must be achieved in not only environmental areas but also fiscal.