Douglas Carswell's Blog

16 JUN 2016

We won't be bullied by George Osborne

George Osborne is threatening to punish us if we vote Leave. He says he'll raise taxes and cut spending if we don't vote the way he wants. Are we going to stand for this appalling attempt at intimidation, or stand up to him?

Like many on the Remain side, the Chancellor seems to have forgotten he doesn't have a divine right to rule. Instead of taking his mandate from the people, he thinks he has the right to impose his will on us.

The Chancellor's vindictive threat is the lowest point in an astonishingly nasty campaign. Neither he nor the Prime Minister have made a positive case for Remain. Unable to persuade people of what they don't really believe themselves, they have resorted to bullying the electorate.

Using tax-raising powers as a weapon against the voters ought to be unthinkable in a democracy. It shows, once again, the contempt our ruling classes have for the people.

But don't panic: unlike George's unelected friends in Brussels, we have the means of holding him to account.

Along with dozens of other MPs, I've already signed a petition making it clear we'll vote down a blackmail budget.

George Osborne says he'll get it through with Labour support. Good luck with that. Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn confirmed to the House his party won't back any post-Brexit austerity.

The Chancellor's threat exemplifies the risk of trusting elites to act in our best interests. Prosperity for the British people comes from taking back control.

15 JUN 2016

Let's stop bankrolling the Brussels gravy train

The EU has admitted spending six-figure sums on private jets and five-star hotels for Euro elites. Who seriously believes we're better off funding their extravagance than taking back control of our money?

The Brussels gravy train is no myth – as our EU Rich List revealed a few months ago.

Eurocrats don't just earn more, get bigger pensions, and claim better benefits than the taxpayers who pay their salaries. They also pay far less tax themselves.

Our research showed the special discounted rate means the top EU officials each pay £50,000 less tax on average than they would in the UK.

The Remain campaign has spent a lot of time quibbling about precisely how vast Britain's EU membership fee is. Surely the focus should be on ensuring taxpayers' money is spent properly.

Britain is the second-highest net contributor to the EU. We put in nearly double what we get back – and what we get back, we don't control.

Why should British taxpayers, who've suffered cuts to public services at home, have to pay for largesse in Brussels? It's a trade-off that makes no sense.

When youth unemployment, austerity, and economic stagnation are the norm across the much of southern Europe, the fact that Euro elites are living in luxury at taxpayers' expense is disgraceful. It shows just how out of touch the EU's ruling classes are.

Taking back control can only make us better off.

14 JUN 2016

Western civilisation is what we're fighting for

Donald Tusk, one of the EU's five unelected, unaccountable presidents, says Brexit will mean the end of "Western political civilisation." Marie Antoinette had a better sense of irony.

The essence of Western civilisation is liberal democracy. Individual rights, dispersed power, and the rule of law made the West prosperous.

The political model that traces its roots to ancient Greece has proved so successful, it is now copied in capitals from Seoul to Santiago.

Across the Western world, there's only one political entity rejecting the principles on which the West was built. I'll give you a clue: it's the one that employs five presidents.

Mr. Tusk is a good example of the EU's contempt for democracy. We never voted for him. We can't remove him. The constitution that created his position was expressly rejected by many of the people over whom he presides, but implemented anyway.

But there's another Western political innovation the EU opposes even more: national self-determination.

A couple of months ago, I visited Świdnica, Clacton's twin in Mr. Tusk's native Poland. Its top attraction is the Church of the Peace, which commemorates the Peace of Westphalia – the treaties that created the system of sovereign nation states which underpins modern international law.

Peaceful cooperation between independent, self-governing nation states is no dream. It's increasingly the global norm. If we vote Leave, we'll be able to strike new trade deals with countries beyond Europe's borders not in spite of our independence, but because of it.

Look at the mess unfolding across the Channel. The mass youth unemployment. The migrant crisis. Growing animosity between north and south. Who really believes European federalism is keeping the peace?

On the Leave side, we're campaigning to take back the democratic, national self-determination that made the West exceptional. The risk is giving it away.

13 JUN 2016

Why Remain won't make a positive case

We've seen their scare stories. We've heard their warnings to trust the experts. We've witnessed their personal attacks against people on our side. But we still haven't heard a positive argument to vote Remain. Why?

Ten days out from the referendum, it's pretty remarkable that the Remainers haven't presented the people with one good reason to believe in the European project. Instead of trying to persuade, they have consistently resorted to manipulation.

First, they pretended the Prime Minister had renegotiated our relationship with the EU. But the public didn't buy it.

Then, they made out our economy would collapse and World War III would break out the moment Britain voted to leave. But people saw through that too.

Now they have resorted to insulting the Leavers. I lost track of how many cheap shots Team Remain aimed at Boris Johnson in last week's ITV debate. Yet snap surveys afterward showed viewers weren't sold on that either.

The Remain campaign has been an insult to the electorate's intelligence. As a tactic, that doesn't seem to have paid off.

But what if it's not a tactic?

Some Remainers genuinely appear to believe that voters can't be trusted to look after their own interests. The EU will stop Britain's nasty government doing what it was elected to do, Nicola Sturgeon told us. Most MPs want to vote Remain, said unelected Pensions Minister Ros Altmann, so why should the public get a say?

They seem to support Britain's EU membership not in spite of the fact it keeps power away from the people, but because of it.

Ruling elites have always despised democracy. The people have always benefitted from it. Don't be duped by their deception. Britain will be better off with the public in power.

10 JUN 2016

Reality is puncturing Project Fear

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford is the latest businessman to say there is nothing to fear from Brexit. Official stats show British manufacturing and trade isn't slowing. So why is our Government talking Britain down?

The Remain campaign's scare stories don't reflect what's happening in the real economy.

The latest trade stats, which show the UK is running a record trade deficit with EU countries, prove there is a greater incentive than ever for our European neighbours to keep trading freely with Britain whatever the result of the referendum.

Meanwhile, exports of goods to non-EU countries rose to a record £14 billion. The ONS points out that the share of British exports going to EU countries "has fallen by more than 10 percentage points over the last 15 years."

The facts don't lie: Britain's trading future is global.

At the same time, the latest manufacturing figures show output rose 2.3% in April – driven by exports. It's the largest rise since 2012. So much for George Osborne's great referendum recession.

Normally Prime Ministers are thrilled about exports and output rising. Instead, all we have heard from David Cameron is doom and gloom. In his desperation to win this referendum, he is willing to sell Britain short.

On ITV the other day, the PM made out that those of us who want Britain to leave the EU are unpatriotic. What exactly is patriotic about insulting the country you lead?

If there were a positive argument for Remain, we'd have heard it by now. The best the Remainers can do is deliberately misrepresent how strong this country is. That's a remarkably poor case.

09 JUN 2016

Give select committees genuine power

Until recently, a certain kind of pundit was dismissive about select committees. Not anymore.

The extraordinary revelations about Sports Direct and BHS this week have shown how effective Parliamentary select committees can be. Just imagine what they could do if they had some real clout.

One of the fundamental roles of Parliament is to keep the Government in check. But - unsurprisingly – Governments have progressively taken away its power to do so.

Take the most important piece of legislation every year: the Budget.

Until the 1930s, individual MPs had the right to amend the Budget. But today, hundreds of billions of pounds just go through on the nod. Spending – and debt - keeps increasing because there is no one to keep it in check.

But select committees could give Parliament the means to serve its purpose. Instead of merely holding business leaders to account, they should be empowered to do the same for Government.

Select committees should have the right to veto major public appointments in confirmation hearings, and dismiss officials if they're not up to scratch. They should also be able to amend and block the budgets of every Government department.

Too radical? I'm not the only one to advocate much greater powers for select committees. Five years ago, Parliament's Liaison Committee put a similar case to the Government. Have a guess whether the Government accepted their recommendations.

We won't get effective government with a toothless legislature. Select committees have proved their worth. Now let's empower them.

08 JUN 2016

The Remain mask has slipped

Several pro-EU MPs imagine they can just ignore the result of the referendum if they lose. Who do these people think they are?

Some of my Commons colleagues seem to have forgotten that our mandate comes from the people. Rather than citizen lawmakers who take their orders from the voters, they're behaving like seventeenth-century princelings with a divine right to rule.

Be in no doubt: Leave means Leave. Whatever happens in the referendum, the Government will have to abide by the result.

But this episode is revealing. It lays bare the contempt Europhile elites feel for democracy.

The ruling classes think they know what's best for the rest of us. That's why they like to centralise power in unaccountable bureaucracies like the European Commission.

Brussels gives politicians who've lost the people's trust – think Peter Mandelson – the opportunity to rule us without tiresome nuisances like elections.

Now the elites are panicking, as this desperate stitch-up attempt testifies. From the Prime Minister down, they're realising voters aren't buying their fraudulent fearmongering.

Across Britain, people are starting to see that they don't have to be ruled by the crony corporatist cartel that presided over the Eurozone debt disaster and the migrant crisis. Britain really can do better.

This referendum is Britain's one chance to break free from the Euro-oligarchy. On June 23rd, we can take back democratic control from our incompetent overlords. Let's put the princeling pretenders back in their place.

07 JUN 2016

Mass emigration shows the EU is an economic failure

"Leaving the EU will cause a global recession," runs Downing Street's laughable scare story. Let's be serious. If the EU is such an economic success, why are millions of EU migrants looking for work here?

European integration has been an economic disaster. The EU is the world's only declining trade bloc. The euro – which many Remainers once said we couldn't live without – has brought nothing but debt crises, austerity, and stagnation.

Young Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and even French nationals are increasingly looking for work here to escape sky-high unemployment at home.

But picking up the slack for the Eurocrats' economic mismanagement comes with costs for us.

Britain takes in a city the size of Oxford just from the EU every year. That makes it more difficult for young people to buy their first home. For parents to get their kids into the school they want. For old people to get the care they need.

We're also on the hook for more Eurozone bailouts. In fact, we may have to cough up another £2.4 billion just to plug the EU's budget black hole.

If we leave the EU, we'll be able to increase our trade with the rest of the world, and build a points-based immigration system. Controlling our trade policy will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Controlling our borders will relieve the pressure on our public services.

Tying our future to the failed European project is the high-risk option.

06 JUN 2016

Beware the "expert consensus"

There's a strong economic case for Brexit. It's based on more free trade, and less rule-rigging by corporations. We've heard all the Remain appeals to the "expert consensus." But what's their actual economic argument?

As the IEA's Ryan Bourne points out, all we've heard from the Remain side – apart from outlandish scaremongering - is appeals to authority. Instead of presenting the issues, they expect us to trust the "experts" to get it right.

The trouble is, when you look at the assumptions underlying the so-called experts' economic models, they're faulty. Their picture of Britain after Brexit is based on the premise that there will be less free trade.

That's simply false.

If we leave the EU, we'll still be part of the tariff-free trade zone that extends from non-EU Iceland to the Russian border. But, no longer subject to the EU's external trade barriers, we'll also get better access to global markets.

Leaving the EU means more free trade, not less. Which is why economists, corporate captains, small businesses, top investors and former Chancellors are all making the case to Leave. So much for the consensus.

Many of Remain's "experts" were wrong about the euro. Some directly benefit from the EU's lobbyist-friendly regulatory regime. Several owe their positions to George Osborne. Infallibility and integrity can't just be taken on trust.

But the real issue isn't with who they are, but what they're arguing. False premises produce false conclusions.

We only need to look across the Channel to see that something is seriously awry with economies across the EU. Trust the evidence of your eyes.

03 JUN 2016

Influence? What influence?

Angela Merkel claims Britain won't have "influence" on the EU after Brexit. In that case, we've got nothing to lose by voting to Leave.

The idea that Britain exerts genuine influence over the EU is a myth.

In the Council of Ministers, no country is more regularly outvoted. Britain has opposed EU legislation on 70 occasions, and lost every single time.

In the European Parliament, the largest British party is UKIP. That hasn't stopped the march toward federalism.

David Cameron couldn't even stop fanatical federalist Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming President of the European Commission – thanks to one Angela Merkel.

Britain doesn't need the EU to have clout on the world stage. We're the world's fourth largest military spender. The fifth largest economy. A permanent member of the UN Security Council. Just yesterday, Britain – not the EU – was pushing the UN to coordinate aid drops for Syrian civilians under fire.

As a trading power, we'll regain influence through leaving the EU, by resuming our seat at the table that matters: the World Trade Organisation.

We haven't gained any influence by joining the EU. We've just lost control. Only by leaving the EU will the British people have the power to choose their lawmakers and kick out their government. Isn't that the influence that counts?

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