Northern Ireland Politics 2017 – UKIP Conference Speech

 

Since the election on the 7th March this year the NI Assembly has met for 46 mins and to date it has cost the taxpayer, yes that’s you and I, £6 million to cover MLAs’ salaries and expenses. No provision has been made for an non-operative Assembly. In fact this week the Independent Financial Review Panel determined that they should receive an additional £500 now and a similar increase in 6 months time. Money well spent I hear you cry. If we had the equivalent in my Nottinghamshire County, NI would be governed by 80 County Councillors on approx £20k including expenses.

 

Meanwhile, there are cuts in care packages, waiting lists for hospital appointments are getting longer and Mental Health funding is curtailed. Road safety has always been a major issue in NI. Did you know that more people were killed due to road accidents than during the horrific unrest during the Troubles?

 

Excessive speed on rural roads, an investment in road expansions is urgently needed and potholes abound. A common phrase you can hear is; We used to drive on the left of the road. Now we drive on what is left of the road.

Over 25% are employed in the public sector, the highest region throughout the UK and young people not in Education, Employment or Training sits at approx. 20%. Job losses are announced far too frequently and this week the manufacturing sector in East Belfast has been dealt a significant blow.

 

The names of the Parties may be different but many people vote not for a party, but to ensure that the “other side” don’t get elected. It’s politics of fear and in the NI case it’s largely down to tribal voting patterns on constitutional matters. That’s why I joined UKIP in NI. It offered a non-sectarian Unionist alternative with a UK National party who believe that Direct Democracy through Referendums should resolve issues when politicians cannot agree.

 

The latest stumbling block preventing a return to the Assembly is the demand from Sein Fein for a standalone Irish Language Act.

The Irish language received official recognition and funding under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and for 20 years in Government SF seemed content to channel their efforts through the Irish medium education sector. There certainly hasn’t been desire to legislate for a bilingual public sector with preferential recruitment of Irish speakers. According to the 2011 census, only 4,045 people claimed Irish as their main language.

 

Language should threaten no one – however when language is used as a cultural weapon by political republicanism it clearly becomes a threat to British identity. Stormont has invested £171m in the past five years to promote the Irish language. However, SF has driven more people away from ever cultivating a genuine interest in the Irish language than any of these publicly funded incentives can ever hope to attract. Any legislation, no matter what it’s called or how its packaged, which underpins the Irish language in a legal framework will have massive implications for local government, the courts, the civil service, schools and everyday life in Northern Ireland. Legislative intervention will be used as an employment driver for Irish speakers and will open-up the potential for endless legal challenges on a range of related issues.

 

The parochial Unionist Parties wish to promote Ulster Scots and Nationalists advocate the Irish language. Maybe it’s time to discover the common language spoken throughout the North of Ireland for centuries, Ulster Gaelic. NI politicians should be focussing on that which should unite society – the need to tackle waiting-lists, the crisis in school budgets, and the need to create new and better jobs

BREXIT BORDER

 

On 23rd June 2016 the electorate in the United Kingdom of GB and NI voted to leave the EU together. We are united on this matter. No ifs, No buts, No fudge. Leave means Leave. Northern Ireland is not for sale to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union as proposed by the EU. This crazy idea breaches the Belfast Agreement. Northern Ireland is British. Carving up the UK is not on the agenda, not an inch.

 

Relations between Ireland and the UK have never been better. Ties of language, family, free trade and free travel bind us together. We regard the Irish as our “Kith and Kin”. All of these ties precede the formation of the EU. Irish farmers and small businesses export €1 billion with the UK every week. So you can see that it’s mutually beneficial for this situation to continue. Following the 2009-12 boom and bust in Ireland’s economy it was the UK who rose to the occasion with an offer of an interest free loan. The EU’s response, a € 64 billion Franco – German bank debt imposed on the Irish taxpayer.

 

100 years on from Ireland’s Independence we voted to regain our Independence because we want to make our own laws, spend our own money, act in our interest and determine our own destiny. With Brexit, Ireland has an even greater financial incentive to leave the EU and agree a free trade agreement with the UK. What we are witnessing is the EU’s provocation by interfering in our good relations, fanning the flames of political violence over the Border issue. A recent EU commission ruling on Ireland’s corporation taxation rate has also come as a shock leaving multi-nationals watching Apple Computer’s appeal very closely on the billions the EU says it owes the Irish Government.  But we all know that the EU isn’t about freedom, it’s about enslavement of nations and peoples. You cannot be a sovereign, independent self-governing country while being a member of the EU. To paraphrase Patrick Pearce, “Ireland unfree from the EU shall never be at peace”. Is it now time for the people of Ireland to demand a Referendum to determine whether they want to remain a member of the political EU or be granted Special Status within the EU? Let’s hope commonsense prevails and that our good relationship will continue to flourish and maybe the people of Ireland will join us one day as members of the Commonwealth.

 

Real free trade is only possible outside the EU

“Leaving the single market is protectionist”, claims George Osborne. He couldn’t be more wrong. Quitting the ‘single market’ is what will make free trade possible.

The so-called ‘single market’ is really a single regulatory system. Its purpose is not so much to facilitate trade but to create supranational law. As George might recall, that’s what the electorate rejected on June 23rd last year.

Remainers like Osborne seem to believe that free trade requires supranational regulation. But that’s patently false. We don’t need to have the same laws as another country to trade freely with it.

Instead, all we need to do is mutually recognise each other’s laws. Whatever it is legal to buy and sell in the EU, for example, it should be legal to buy and sell here – and vice versa.

Think that can’t work?

Actually, that’s exactly how free trade in the European Common Market worked some forty years ago, before widespread harmonisation. It’s called the Cassis de Dijon principle.

Supranational regulation isn’t just undemocratic. It can be trade-destroying, rather than trade-creating. It results in overregulation, inflexibility, and – worst of all – regulatory capture, as corporate special interests with expensive lobbyists co-opt the rules to cut out competition.

In place of barriers between countries, it creates barriers to small business and disruptive innovation.

We should have a free-trade deal with the EU. It’s in our mutual interests to strike one.

But that deal cannot entail any kind of ‘single-market’ membership. Britain must no longer be subject to EU laws.

If the EU refuses to trade on new terms, we will have no option but to walk away. But that will be their protectionism, not ours.

Post-Brexit, we will be free to set our own tariffs, make our own trade agreements, and decide our own rules. Our trade will be as free as we want it to be.

I’d like to see Britain make a raft of free-trade deals, based on the principle of mutual recognition – as per a forthcoming paper to be published by the UKIP PRU.

Brexit will only end in protectionism if people like George Osborne keep insisting free trade must be tied to supranationalism. That false assumption must now be laid to rest.

The EU has much bigger problems than Brexit

And so it goes on. The Euro crisis looms larger than ever. Six years since Greece hit trouble, financial contagion is still spreading. Britain can’t leave this unfolding disaster soon enough.

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard highlighted in yesterday’s Telegraph, the Eurozone is set for its biggest crisis yet. The Target 2 payments system has facilitated a huge socialisation of debt.

Debtors in southern states (especially Italian banks) now owe northern bloc central banks, via the ECB, hundreds of billions of dollars – money that they won’t be able to repay. If – or rather when – they default, the aftermath will engulf the entire Eurozone.

The debt crisis happens in the context of a banking system that is already dangerously fragile, even in Germany and France.

Research published by the UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit in 2015 found that major European banks were still dangerously undercapitalised, in spite of post-financial crisis banking reforms. The weakest of all was Deutsche Bank.

Then there’s the politics. Depending on elections this year and next, both France and Italy could attempt to leave the Eurozone. Either scenario would amount to a huge debt default.

Many British commentators look at Brexit as if it’s happening in a vacuum. They seem to assume we’re leaving a successful economic project that will sail serenely on.

That’s clearly not the reality. We’re leaving a failed political project that is heading for economic catastrophe – possibly, as Allister Heath suggests, even before Brexit negotiations are completed in 2019.

The EU is collapsing under its own weight. The sooner we’re out, the better.

Paris is no match for London

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says he wants London’s talent to move to Paris post-Brexit. A decade ago, Nicolas Sarkozy made a similar pitch to French citizens in Britain. There’s a reason they stayed here.

France isn’t exactly in great shape economically. The unemployment rate in France right now is 10%, compared to 5% here. That figure rises to 26% among young people, as opposed to 12% in Britain.

Which is why many have left France to work here. Estimates suggest London is home to as many as 300,000 French citizens – and has been for years. It’s no coincidence that Sarkozy campaigned here in 2007. France’s loss of so many able people is our gain.

Britain has higher employment partly because our labour market is much more flexible. In France, not only is the working week legally limited to 35 hours, but it can also be impossible for employers to dismiss underperforming staff.

Increased protection for workers is great – if you already have a job, that is. Not if you don’t. Because it’s so hard to get rid of staff, employers are reluctant to hire them in the first place.

Brexit doesn’t change the fact that the cost of employing people in France and elsewhere in the EU is often prohibitive. Far from relocating, as Macron might hope, British banks are already identifying Brexit opportunities.

Not for the first time, business is months ahead of politics.

But there’s a more important point here.

Economic prosperity comes from flexibility. To thrive, economies need to adapt to changing conditions. Static economies decline.

Brexit allows our economy to become more dynamic – because we’ll no longer be subject to single market overregulation. That’s why economically – not just politically – we made the right choice on June 23rd.

The left’s problem is pessimism

Across the West, the left is losing. Badly. But that’s not, as leftists seem to think, because the world has suddenly become reactionary. It’s because the left has lost its own belief in progress.

Last week, Nick Clegg claimed UKIP exists as ‘a voice for people who don’t like the modern world’. He couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s not right that is stuck in the past today. It’s the left.

The Lib Dems cling onto the mid-twentieth-century dirigisme of the EU. Labour can’t see beyond 70s-era socialism. As for the Greens, they hark back to a mythical pre-industrial paradise.

Leftists are often described as progressives or liberals. But they have ceased to be either. They won’t admit that the world is getting better, let alone that freedom is the root of progress.

Fundamentally, the left can’t accept the idea of a self-organising society. That’s why they are always trying to fix things by grand design – and why they place so much faith in ‘expert’ elites.

Yet elitism is what voters are rebelling against. Most people recognise that they can run their lives better than a remote bureaucrat can. They are turning to the right to take back control.

Progressive politics should be about defeating oligarchy. It should aim to spread power outwards and downwards. My new book – Rebel ­– sets out a manifesto for freeing liberal democracy from the crony cartels.

Meanwhile, the backward-looking left is on the side of the oligarchs. No wonder they’re losing.

Parliament needs to stop refighting the referendum

Three cheers for TheCityUK! Its latest report anticipates post-Brexit opportunities, instead of rehearsing yesterday’s arguments. If only MPs could do the same.

TheCityUK isn’t the only lobby group to perform a volte face on Brexit. The CBI has too. Project Fear pessimism is gradually being replaced by optimism.

I suspect the lobbyists are now playing catch up with their clients. Public-affairs folk may have bought into George Osborne’s narrative, but businesspeople are pragmatic. Now that Brexit is happening, they’re interested in the potential gains, not the spin.

But that positive attitude still hasn’t spread to all of the House of Commons. In the Article 50 debates, many MPs seemed to be stuck in a pre-referendum time-warp, repeating talking points from the Remain campaign. Many others supported Article 50 through gritted teeth.

That approach is counterproductive. Not just because it doesn’t help the government going into Brexit negotiations. But because a forward-looking Parliament could be remarkably effective.

Taking back control from the EU is a big job for legislators. This Parliament and the next will have more influence on Britain than any has had for decades.

As TheCityUK says, this is a once-in-a-generation chance to shape our future. If only MPs could see it.

Let’s just get on with Brexit

It’s now 224 days since a majority voted Leave on June 23rd. It’s 4,237 days since I first called for Britain to leave the EU in Parliament – in my maiden speech. We’ve talked about Brexit enough. Now it’s time to implement it.

Today Parliament will vote for the first time on beginning the Brexit process. It’s a day that I’ve been waiting for my entire political career.

I know most of my constituents feel the same. Indeed, I’m acutely aware that many are aggrieved that the process hasn’t started already.

With a few notable exceptions, yesterday’s speeches on the Article 50 Bill were striking for their lack of content. There are no new arguments to be made that weren’t put before the people last year.

Instead, the debate centred around process, as the last few MPs set on blocking Brexit came up with ever more sophistic excuses for ignoring the decision of the electorate.

But the grandstanding is just for show. Continuity Remainers don’t seem to be prepared to force the issue – and settle it in a general election. Their delaying tactics serve no purpose whatsoever.

So let’s just get on with it. Brexit is about restoring Parliament’s legislative sovereignty, after all. MPs should be jumping at the chance.

 

Brexit is changing Parliament for the better

Yesterday the government published a Bill to withdraw from the EU. It’s an incredible moment. Not just because Eurosceptics have been waiting for it for decades. But because it shows how the people have forced politicians to change.

Throughout most of my life, every piece of legislation on the EU has been about more integration. The European Communities Act. Maastricht. Lisbon.

As a Eurosceptic MP, I always used to vote with the minority in the ‘No’ lobby.

But that has all changed. Since the Referendum Act, Eurosceptics have been voting ‘Aye’ on bills about the EU – and we are in the majority. In December, most MPs voted to trigger Article 50 by March. Both the Conservatives and Labour will be whipped to back the Article 50 Bill.

The remarkable thing is MPs haven’t changed their views. Parliament is still made up of a majority of Europhiles. But the people have left politicians with no choice.

The economist Milton Friedman made this point best when he said:

“I do not believe the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.”

I keep that quotation on the wall of my office.

Some worry about the fact that Theresa May, along with majority of her Cabinet and MPs, campaigned to Remain. They see a non-Eurosceptic running a Brexit government as a bad thing.

But I think the approach we should take is the precise opposite. We have made it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. This is what success looks like.

The British people have made the entire establishment to reverse course even without changing the personnel. That’s some revolution. Just think of how much more we could change.

The will of the people on Brexit will be still be heard

paul-nutall.jpg

UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall MEP has said the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the Government’s appeal and insist that Parliament vote on the triggering of Article 50 would not jeopardise Brexit.

“This decision is hardly a surprise but in the end it will make no real difference,” Mr Nuttall said.

“The will of the people will be heard, and woe betide those politicians or parties that attempt to block, delay, or in any other way subvert that will.

“Other than making clear that this is a decision of the whole United Kingdom, rather than its constituent parts, what we can clearly see is that it will embolden those who rail against the decision of the people. It may give heart to those in the EU, used as they are to ignoring their own people, to attempt to play hard ball in the negotiations.

“But in the end I am convinced that though this skirmish has been lost in the courts, the war will be won.”

Statement on this morning’s Supreme Court Ruling

“I am disappointed by the outcome of this case. There were strong legal arguments put forward on both sides, and ultimately I had hoped that the government’s case would prevail because it would have reduced the risk of even greater delay to the British people’s decision to leave the European Union.

“Nevertheless, the ruling has now been made. In the United Kingdom, when something goes against us – an election, a referendum, the final process in a legal case – we accept the result and move on. That is the nature of living in a democracy. I fully accept that this result has gone against my views, and now it is the responsibility of our Westminster Parliament to enact the will of the British people and get us out of the European Union.

“Just as I must accept the result of this court case, so too must our MPs and Lords accept the result of the referendum. Exactly seven months on from the declaration of the referendum result, we are still waiting for the decision of the people to be enacted. I call upon Parliament now to pass legislation for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as a matter of extreme urgency. The democratically-expressed will of the British people can be frustrated no longer.”