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.”