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Douglas Carswell's Blog

01 JUN 2016

There's nothing progressive about the EU

What's more progressive? Keeping the status quo for fear of change? Or accepting that, when the world changes, the way we are governed has to adapt?

When Britain joined the Common Market 40 years ago, the world was dominated by massive power blocs. Eastern Europe was cut off from the world behind the Iron Curtain. Joining a Western European trading bloc seemed like a good idea.

But today, the circumstances that made us join the Common Market no longer exist.

The Soviet Union has collapsed. China, though still a nominally Communist country, has swapped autarky for globalisation. International trade is now governed by the World Trade Organisation, which prevents protectionism. Free trade is the global norm.

Today, the world's best economic performers are often not the biggest players, but the smallest. South Korea is now a manufacturing powerhouse. Tiny Israel is a high-tech pioneer. City-state Singapore is a financial hub. Everything has changed.

Everything, that is, except the EU. As the rest of the world has opened up, globalising trade and localising power, the EU has done the opposite.

Trade barriers and preferential subsidies keep our consumer prices artificially high. Power is increasingly centralised in unelected, unaccountable Eurocrats, whose endless stream of one-size-fits all regulation – compounding the disastrous single currency - makes EU economies ever more uncompetitive.

In fact, the EU isn't just out of date. It's actively retrograde.

In recent decades, we cheered as Spain, Portugal, and ex-Communist countries across Eastern Europe made the transition from dictatorship to democracy. 

Yet the EU has imposed austerity on Greece, a new government on Italy, and a constitution on every member state - all without any consent from the people. It is deliberately reversing democracy in Europe.

Today, successful countries embrace global free trade. They recognise that individual liberty and democracy make progress and prosperity possible.

In the modern, globalised world, the EU is obsolete. Right-on Remainers are really reactionaries. The progressive choice is to vote Leave.


31 MAY 2016

Join tonight's Vote Leave rally in Hammersmith!

I'm teaming up with Dan Hannan, Graham Stringer, and Lord Owen tonight for a Vote Leave rally in Hammersmith. Get your free ticket here!

Our rally shows the breadth of the support for Leave: four speakers representing four different parties, united by our commitment to democracy.

Amid the scandalous scaremongering from the other side, it's easy to forget that what we're campaigning for is so uncontroversial.

Democratic, national self-determination is the settled norm across the Western world. It's what made Britain prosperous. The extreme choice is to give it up to unaccountable foreign elites.

I believe we're going to win this referendum. But we need your help.

Downing Street, Whitehall, and Brussels are marshalling the full resources of the bureaucratic machine against us.

To beat them, we need to build on the fantastic grassroots support I have already seen across the country, and mobilise an army of activists for Leave.

We have one chance to escape the EU. We have less than a month to do it.

If you're in London on Tuesday, please sign up to our rally, bring your friends, and join the fight for freedom.


27 MAY 2016

Immigration is a symbol of lost control

New figures show that last year 270,000 people came to settle in Britain just from the EU. Under a government that got elected on the promise to reduce total immigration to the tens of thousands. Immigration is a symbol of lost democratic control.

Taking in a city the size of Oxford every year is building pressure on GPs, hospitals, and schools. It's intensifying our housing shortage. It's not sustainable.

But the bigger issue is what it represents: the supremacy of EU law; the powerlessness of Parliament; the irrelevance of elections. No government can control immigration when the EU controls our immigration policy.

Increasingly, the way we vote changes the people in office, but not the people in power. EU bureaucrats and judges make many of our laws, but we have no mechanism to hold them to account, or kick them out.

Democracy isn't a romantic ideal. It's a safeguard. It makes sure that the interests of the government align with the interests of the people.

As EU members, we don't have that safeguard. A majority of British voters may want controlled immigration, but the Eurocrats don't – and it's their will that counts.

If we stay in the EU, we will continue to be governed by people who don't have our interests at heart. There's no greater political risk than that.


26 MAY 2016

Independence keeps Britain safe

Britain is among the top five military spenders in the world. We're a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We're the second power in NATO, behind the USA.

Our independent military power is what keeps us safe. But – as a dozen top ex-generals made clear yesterday – that's what's at risk if we stay in the EU.

Even the Remainers-in-chief can't deny that independence is the main thing keeping Britain secure. Asked about Trident at PMQs yesterday, George Osborne said: "For almost 70 years, our independent nuclear deterrent has provided the ultimate insurance for our freedom."

Which begs the question: why is he campaigning to give our military independence up?

It's no secret that the EU wants to create its own military to replace national defence forces. Angela Merkel has said it. Jean-Claude Juncker has said it. It's the obvious next step for 'ever-closer union.'

If we stay in the EU, we risk losing control of our defence forces. That won't just make Britain less safe, but Europe too.

Yesterday a group of British former generals launched the Veterans for Britain campaign to vote Leave. They made the point that Britain helps keep Europe safe, not the other way round.

After World War II, Europe was divided against itself along the Iron Curtain. Britain was the major NATO power this side of the Atlantic fighting to contain Communism. NATO, not the EU, kept the Soviets from invading Western Europe.

Today, the USSR may have collapsed, but our military standing hasn't. Britain and France are still the only countries in the EU capable of power projection. Through the Five Eyes agreement, we are still the EU's top intelligence-gathering power.

If we vote Leave, we'll still cooperate militarily with France – that's guaranteed by several bilateral treaties. We'll still use our top-class intelligence to help our European neighbours.

Why risk our military independence by voting Remain?


25 MAY 2016

The high-risk choice is George

Who should you trust more? Thousands of personal investors who risk their own money in the marketplace? Or the career politician who doubled our national debt in six years?

The Share Centre's new survey of 1,800 personal investors poll shows 56% support Leave, compared to 39% for Remain. 53% believe Brexit will have a positive impact on Britain.

Let's put this in perspective. These are people who invest their own money. They have a personal interest in Britain's prosperity. They have no ulterior motive.

On the other side is George Osborne.

The Chancellor who broke his promise to balance the books. Who spends other people's money without worrying how future generations will pay it back. Who fills every budget with tricks and gimmicks designed to bamboozle the British people.

Oh – and whose career depends on the result of this referendum.

Who's more credible?

Trusting the Downing Street doomsayers means turning a blind eye to the real economic effects of European integration.

To believe that the EU brings economic prosperity, we would need to pretend there was no never-ending debt crisis in Greece. No permanent youth unemployment in Spain. No stagnation across the Eurozone.

We're better off than our neighbours on the Continent today mainly because we didn't join the disastrous single currency. The lesson is the less Europe, the better.

Under national self-determination, Britain went from backwater to industrial powerhouse.

Under the EU, Europe has gone from world-leader to the world's only declining trading bloc.

The high-risk option is to ignore the evidence in front of us. Britain will be better off out.


24 MAY 2016

Business isn't buying Brexpocalypse

'British Big Business wants to stay in the EU,' briefs the Downing Street spin machine. Slight snag: the latest survey of FTSE 350 companies shows the opposite.

ICSA's new poll records a big drop in support for the EU. In their last poll in December, 61% of businesses said the EU positively impacted their business. Now that's fallen to 37%.

Barely half of boardrooms have even considered the impact of Brexit on their business, while only 43% see any downside risk. In fact, of all the things boardrooms are worried about, political risk is bottom of the list.

The survey shows up the Downing Street scare stories for the sham they are. If Britain's corporate captains don't believe in George Osborne's Brexpocalypse, why should anyone else?

Perhaps the most interesting finding in the poll, though, is that the top governance issue for businesses is over-regulation and pointless compliance. In that light, is it any wonder they're not the biggest fans of the European Commission?

The EU's trigger-happy approach to regulation (see Brexit the Movie) is holding our economy back. Open Europe estimates that it costs British business £600 million a week.

For most British companies, there's not even any benefit attached. Only 6% of British businesses export to the EU. There's no reason why the other 94% needs to be tied up in EU red tape.

Our economic growth depends on a dynamic private sector. We should be taking down the barriers to creativity, entrepreneurship, and trade that are stifling our businesses. As EU members, we can't do that.

To set our companies free from EU regulation, we need to set our country free. British business will boom if we vote Leave and take back control.


23 MAY 2016

Osborne the oracle?

Today George Osborne tells us to trust Treasury economists predicting a recession if we vote Leave. Would these be the same Treasury economists who in 2006 predicted 3% annual growth in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – during what turned out to be the worst recession in recent history?

George Osborne set up the Office for Budget Responsibility in 2010 precisely because Treasury forecasts can't be trusted.

Not that the OBR has been any more reliable. Lest we forget, here are some of George's previous predictions proved wrong:

  • In the 2010 emergency budget, he forecast the elimination of the budget deficit by 2015. In fact, we borrowed £74 billion last year. Now he says the books won't be balanced until 2020.
  • In the 2011 budget, he told us growth would strengthen. In reality, we only nominally avoided a double dip recession.
  • In the 2015 Autumn Statement, he found an extra £27 billion for the public finances – revising predictions from his 2015 emergency budget only a few months before. Then, in the 2016 budget, he revised it back again.

If we trusted all of George Osborne's predictions, we'd have to believe that the economy is simultaneously growing and contracting. That borrowing is both rising and falling. That the economy is in fantastic health and at the same time falling apart.

The Chancellor's predictions aren't just false. They're logically impossible.

But the latest Treasury figures are worse than that. Unlike the OBR's figures, they're not remotely independent. They reflect the political priorities of a man who sees everything as a political opportunity.

Underneath the bogus forecasts, the only genuine prediction George is making is that Brexit will bad for his career. Let's not allow that to distract us from what's best for Britain.


20 MAY 2016

Still undecided? Read Why Vote Leave!

Are you one of the millions of voters still undecided about the referendum? Are you waiting to hear a convincing case? Well don't panic! Read Dan Hannan's brilliant Why Vote Leave.

With characteristic eloquence, Hannan explains how the European project failed, why it can't succeed, and what Britain has to look forward to if we vote Leave, and take back control.

Here's a quick taste - first of all on what to expect if we stay:

  • Economic decline: "One of the reasons that the EU is stagnating while other advanced economies grow is because cronyism and protectionism flourish in the necessarily undemocratic Brussels institutions."
  • Oligarchy: "The democratic deficit isn't an accidental design flaw; it is intrinsic to the whole project."
  • Corporatism: "Lobbyists love the EU, intuiting from the moment they arrive that it was designed by and for people like them."
  • Powerlessness: "The UK has voted against an EU legislative proposal seventy times. She has lost the vote seventy times. No other country is so regularly isolated and outvoted."
  • High risk: "A vote to stay will be a vote to be part of the continuing political, fiscal, and military integration of the EU. As we see that the euro and migration crises are deteriorating, that future can hardly be called risk-averse."

Alternatively, here's what we'll gain if we vote Leave:

  • Lower taxes: Saving £19.6 billion a year in EU fees "would allow the entire country to get a 71% rebate in council tax."
  • Less austerity: Between 2010 and 2015, "our gross contribution to the EU was £86 billion – more than twice as much as was saved by the austerity programme."
  • More trade: "We'll recover our parliamentary sovereignty and, with it, the ability to sign bilateral trade agreements with non-EU countries."
  • Greater prosperity: "The strongest case for voting leave is that it offers a better future... We'd be better off in the literal, financial sense."
  • Control: "Britain would reassert the primacy of her own laws on her own soil... She would recover her seat at the global top tables."

Need more convincing? Get a copy!


19 MAY 2016

The EU makes the Queen's Speech meaningless

The Queen's speech is meant to tell us what new laws to expect. But wasn't something missing?

Many of the new laws we'll be subject to this year weren't announced yesterday, or included in any manifesto, or voted on by the British people. Instead, they'll be made behind closed doors in Brussels.

The State Opening is meant to be the day Parliament asserts its authority. When the door is slammed on Black Rod, it's supposed to show Britain's laws are made by the people's elected representatives. The message is that sovereignty resides with the Queen in Parliament.

Except, in reality, it doesn't. Our laws aren't all made by people we elect. Our Supreme Court isn't actually supreme. Our democracy is subservient to EU law and EU courts.

Today, a large proportion of our laws are written by unelected bureaucrats at the European Commission – people no one ever elected. They're rubber-stamped by MEPs – people few voters even recognise, let alone cast ballots for. They're signed off by the Council of Ministers – where the UK has opposed 72 laws, and been outvoted every single time.

What happens if Parliament's law conflicts with the EU's? Ours can be struck down in court by unelected judges. Until we joined the EU, that was constitutionally impossible.

Four centuries ago, Britain fought a civil war over the right of Parliament to make our laws and set our taxes. Then, people saw that surrendering that right was a licence for tyranny. Yet, since 1975, we have given it up willingly to the EU.

Nothing to worry about? Rule by unaccountable Euro elites isn't always benign. Just ask the Greeks.

The EU makes yesterday's ceremony meaningless. There's no longer substance behind the ritual. Beneath the pomp and circumstance, Parliament is powerless.

Surrendering sovereignty isn't safe. Our rights, our freedom, and our security depend on our democracy. Want to keep them? Vote Leave, and take back control.


18 MAY 2016

If Remain had a good case, they wouldn't need to deceive us

"If we cannot secure these changes, I rule nothing out." That's what the PM told Parliament back in February about his EU 'renegotiation'. Now we know he was crossing his fingers. Even then, he was privately plotting with Big Business to campaign to remain.

The PM's leaked letter to Rupert Soames shows he was never negotiating in good faith. He got no reform from the EU, because he asked for none. In return for his collusion, the Commission - along with big corporate vested interests - is bankrolling the Remain campaign.

This stitch-up encapsulates everything that's wrong with the EU. Crony corporatism. Disdain for democracy. Contempt for the people. Government of elites, by elites, for elites.

In previous referenda, when the people have given the 'wrong' answer, Euro elites have ignored the result. This time, they've tried to rig it from the start.

"We're all better off in," the Remainers claim.

If that's true, why did the PM keep Parliament in the dark?

Why is European taxpayers' money being used to get round campaign finance restrictions?

Why, instead of a positive case for the EU, do we only ever hear threats and scare stories?

If there were a good reason to remain, we wouldn't need to be hoodwinked.


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