Douglas Carswell

26 APR 2017

Job done

First words in House of Commons – June 28th 2005

"I shall speak up for an independent Britain trading with Europe and beyond, yet governing ourselves once again, living under our own Parliament, making our own laws."

Last words in House of Commons – April 26th 2017

"What assurance can the Prime Minister give ... that if she is in office after June 8th, the United Kingdom will become a sovereign country once again, living under our own Parliament, making our own laws?"

20 APR 2017

Over and out

I have never felt more proud and honoured than when representing my Essex constituents in the House of Commons.

Over the past twelve years I have had great fun working with, and getting to know, many wonderful local people. Together, we ran all sorts of local campaigns, from safeguarding local services to getting a new seafront. Local has always come first.

As I promised in my maiden speech, I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union - even changing parties and triggering a by election to help nudge things along. Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again.

I have decided that I will not now be seeking re-election. I intend to vote Conservative ‪on June 8th and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton Constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.

It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn't feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I'm delighted.

Having been an MP for about half my adult life, I believe that it is time for me to move on to other things. I look forward to being able to read newspapers without appearing in them.

It has been the highest honour to have represented Clacton in the House of Commons.

10 APR 2017

Shareholder democracy works

The news that BP is cutting its CEO's pay by 40% in response to shareholder pressure proves an important point: part of the solution to soaring corporate pay is more shareholder power.

CEOs aren't taking home huge pay packets because – as some claim – that's just the market rate. On the contrary: corporate executives have seen their salaries rise much faster than the market cap of the companies they run.

This is an example of what's known as the principal-agent problem: CEOs are acting in their own interests, instead of those of the people who own the company. Because the owners have lost control.

One of the reasons the salaries of corporate executives have rocketed to absurd levels is that their earnings are decided by remuneration committees rather than shareholders. And remuneration committees are invariably made up of corporate executives from other companies.

When corporate mandarins sit on each other's boards and award each other's pay, it's hardly surprising that they're getting richer. The system is a closed shop. A self-serving oligarchy.

BP's decision is telling because the shareholders' vote on the boss's pay last year wasn't even binding. Imagine the difference it would make across the corporate world if such votes were. Ordinary shareholders would be able to break the corporate cartel.

To defeat the emerging oligarchy, power needs to be dispersed in all walks of life. It's time for shareholders to Rebel.

06 APR 2017

Set all schools free

How would you react if the government said you could no longer shop at a supermarket outside your local area? Or get a job more than a few miles from your house? You'd probably find the idea absurd. So why do we accept it for schools?

Catchment areas are designed to suit providers rather than customers. The system works to keep bad schools open by leaving parents no alternative choice.

That, in turn, leads to selection by house price. Parents looking for a good school have to buy into its catchment area – pushing up house prices. So poorer families are priced out.

The good news is that free schools are increasing choice. A new report by the Centre for Policy Studies shows that allowing people to set up new schools wherever they want has dramatically improved education standards in the poorest areas.

But we could go a lot further. Why not give parents control over their share of the education budget – and let them spend it on whichever school they want? Why not let all schools decide their own curriculum, instead of setting it nationally, and let families choose which is best for them?

Fundamentally, why should bureaucrats in Whitehall and the town hall decide how your money should be spent on educating your children?

In my new book, Rebel, I show that tax revenues have been captured by an oligarchy which runs public services to suit its own interests – not the public's. To get better services, the people must take back control.

05 APR 2017

Hilary isn't helping

I'm confident that Britain will reach a trade deal with the EU. There is good will to strike one in Europe. But we could do with more good will from the Brexit Select Committee.

Madrid aside, the response to Article 50 in European capitals has been constructive. The EU Ambassadors I've spoken to are clear their governments want a deal that works for both sides.

But, to get a good deal, Theresa May has to be prepared to walk away. If EU negotiators think she will take anything – like David Cameron – they will offer nothing.

The good news is she can walk away. It is workable for the UK to trade with the EU on WTO terms. Facilitating trade is what the WTO is for.

The fact that WTO terms are a viable alternative makes a good trade deal more likely, not less. But that seems to have escaped the Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn. His Committee's latest report – rejected by over a third of its own members – dismisses the principle that no deal is better than a bad deal as 'unsubstantiated'.

It's actually self-evident. We had a referendum on it. The majority decided that EU membership is a bad deal – with all the obligations it entails. They chose an end to the status quo – even if that meant a clean break.

The irony of Benn's approach is that it makes no deal more likely. Were EU leaders to start the negotiation under the illusion that the PM isn't prepared to walk away without a deal, she would be left with no choice but to do so.

Select Committees aren't for political partisanship. They exist to help ensure good government. Benn should follow the lead of EU governments – and stop refighting the referendum.

04 APR 2017

Fiat money serves the oligarchs

Yesterday, Bitcoin's price jumped after Japan legalised it. I'm all for currency choice. But why should governments get to decide what currency we can use in the first place?

Today, when every major currency is managed by central banks and backed by nothing more than government fiat, it's easy to think money and the state are intrinsically bound together.

But they're not. Money developed organically. It filled a market demand for a means of exchange. It emerged solely because prehistoric people wanted to trade with each other.

Ruling elites took over money as a short cut to parasitism. Control over the means of exchange equals control over trade – and the ability to seize wealth by stealth.

In the past, ruling regimes would clip the coinage to increase their share of the wealth – usually to fund wars. But that's nothing compared to the scale of currency debasement today.

Our central banks now openly set targets for inflation. Money manipulation is still used to fund governments – only now it's used to help politicians buy votes by raising spending without raising taxes.

Private currencies like Bitcoin have caught on as an alternative to depreciating fiat money. So it's hardly surprising that governments have tried to restrict its use.

In my new book, Rebel, I make the point that parasitic monetary policy leads to inequality. I also set out the solution. To defeat the oligarchy, currency needs to be set free.

31 MAR 2017

Voters must decide which EU laws to repeal

The Great Repeal Bill is a bit of a misnomer. It's really a Great Transfer Bill. That's the right approach. How we change the law in the future should be up to voters to decide in the next election.

As the government's white paper sets out, the Great Repeal Bill will merely transfer EU law – the acquis communautaire – onto our statute books from the day we leave the EU.

It might seem strange to begin Brexit like this. But it's the best way – for three reasons.

First, it ensures a smooth transition.

Second, it makes negotiating a trade deal with the EU easier. European trading partners should know that regulatory parity won't end the moment we leave.

Third, and most importantly, voters should decide what laws to change.

I'd like the burden of regulation on small business to be lifted post-Brexit. Equally, I want to see stronger environmental protections – to reverse the damage done to our countryside by the Common Agricultural Policy.

But these aren't choices for MPs alone to make. They need to be put to the electorate in manifestos. The 2020 general election should be fought over competing visions for the kind of law and regulation we want.

Taking back control isn't for politicians. It's for the people.

30 MAR 2017

After Brexit, spread power

Now we're leaving the European Union, we have the chance to rethink huge areas of policy that were subcontracted to Brussels. Our aim should be to spread power outwards and downwards.

Britain is breaking free from an oligarchy. In Brussels, decisions are made by a tiny elite behind closed doors. Special interests have more say over legislation than voters. Taking back control means leaving that system of government behind.

So repatriating powers from Brussels shouldn't just entail transferring them to our own elites in Whitehall. It should mean giving people control over their own lives.

Yes, we'll be able to spend the money we currently send to the EU on our public services at home. But why not let individuals – not bureaucrats – control their own share of spending on health and education?

Yes, we'll be able to decide our own product regulations. But why not empower consumers to choose between goods regulated to different – competing – standards?

Yesterday, Theresa May talked about building a fairer Britain – to spread wealth. But financial inequality doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's the result of oligarchy. The way to spread wealth is to spread power.

Prosperity increases when oligarchy is overthrown. We need to Rebel.

29 MAR 2017

Cheer up! Liberal Brexit starts now

Throughout my time in politics, I've campaigned for a liberal Brexit. Today, the Prime Minister is making it happen by triggering Article 50 – and I couldn't be happier.

As a founding member of Vote Leave, I'm heartened that the government has opted for our vision of Brexit: taking back control from the supranational regulatory system misleadingly referred to as the single market, and embracing free trade, outside the EU's protectionist customs union.

The government is right to be ambitious about the trade deal it will now negotiate with the EU. For all the tough talk from top Eurocrats, the key figure in the negotiations will be the German Chancellor, who will take a much more pragmatic approach.

Crucially, Theresa May has made clear that she is prepared to leave without a deal. She mustn't waver on that. Not just because trade on WTO terms is workable – after all, facilitating trade is the entire purpose of the WTO. But because being prepared to take a deal at any price will result in a bad deal. David Cameron proved that last year.

But Brexit isn't just about our future relationship with the EU. It's also about the kind of society we want. Restoring parliamentary sovereignty means giving voters a say over policy that they have been denied for decades. Power is returning to the British people.

So cheer up! Democracy is coming home.

28 MAR 2017

Don't buy into the big man myth

How often do we hear that all we need is a new leader? Whether it's Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or Tony Blair, we're assured that all our problems will be solved just by changing the big man at the top. That myth is at the root of what's wrong with politics.

The more popular leaders are on entering office, the more they inevitably disappoint. How could they not? No human being is a god.

Yet every few years we seem to go through the same charade. Forget that the last messiah didn't work out, or the one before that. Just have faith that the next one will.

This idea isn't just absurd. It's dangerous. Right now, voters who have lost faith in established saviours are turning to insurgents instead. But what happens when the insurgents fail? The danger is that people will lose faith in democracy itself.

Rather than obsess about the people at the top, we should be focusing on everyone else. The most prosperous and successful nations are those where power is dispersed. What matters is not the personalities, but the systems.

The solution is to take power away from big-man elites, and restore it to individuals. Read my new book Rebel to find out how.

25 MAR 2017

Job done - thank UKIP!

It has been an extraordinary achievement. UKIP, my party, which was founded in 1993 in order to get Britain out of the European Union, has now achieved what we were established to do.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister is going to trigger Article 50, beginning the formal process of withdrawing our country from the EU. By April 2019, Britain will no longer be a member of the EU. After twenty-four years, we have done it. Brexit is in good hands.

UKIP might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever. We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better. Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for UKIP – and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.

Our party has prevailed thanks to the heroic efforts of UKIP party members and supporters. You ensured we got a referendum. With your street stalls and leafleting, you helped Vote Leave win the referendum. You should all be given medals for what you helped make happen – and face the future with optimism.

Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP.

I will not be switching parties, nor crossing the floor to the Conservatives, so do not need to call a by election, as I did when switching from the Conservatives to UKIP. I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent.

I will leave UKIP amicably, cheerfully and in the knowledge that we won.

At the hundreds of meetings and action days I have attended as a UKIP activist across the country since I joined in August 2014, I have met some truly remarkable people. You are heroes! Thank you and well done. I wish you all well.

When first elected to represent Clacton in 2005, I promised to do all I could to help ensure that Britain left the EU. To the consternation of my then party whips (some of who, I'm delighted to see, are now ministers helping make Brexit happen), I made my intentions on that front plain in my maiden speech. Job done.

I will be putting all of my effort into tackling some of the local problems affecting the NHS in our part of Essex, including GP shortages and the threat to our local Minor Injuries Unit. In that spirit, I called a Westminster Hall debate last week about the future of primary care in our part of Essex. Local comes first.

Cheer up! The days when small elites can try to arrange human social and economic affairs by grand design are coming to an end. Change is coming - Brexit is just the beginning.

24 MAR 2017

Secrecy in family courts must stop

New research on the family courts documents that, despite transparency guidance, only a tiny minority of proceedings are published. That's deeply concerning – because secrecy promotes injustice.

Sadly, children do sometimes need to be taken into care. Most of the time, I'm sure, family courts make the right call.

However, some families are broken up unnecessarily. In 2008, Camilla Cavendish wrote a number of articles for The Times, documenting serious mistakes by social services. In several cases, expert witnesses gave testimony without ever having met the families involved.

The problem is that we don't know how widespread these errors are, because the courts sit in secret. Adoption order proceedings are closed to the public and the press, and rarely published. Moreover, the identities of expert witnesses are protected. Secrecy allows injustice to be covered up.

It has long been recognised – by both ministers and judges – that more transparency is required. Yet efforts to increase it have fallen short.

Sir James Munby's transparency guidance, for example, left the decision as to whether to publish to judges' discretion. The new research by academics at Cardiff University reveals that very few judges have opted to do so – as a paper published by the UKIP PRU predicted.

The system needs much bolder reform. In our paper, we called for the publication of judgments to be mandatory, greater media access to both proceedings and case documents, and expert witnesses to be identified.

We also advocated greater use of Special Guardianship Orders, so that, if children do have to be taken from their families, they are placed at least temporarily with grandparents or other relatives, rather than total strangers.

Transparency helps ensure justice. It shouldn't be resisted.

22 MAR 2017

Monetary policy is hurting productivity

Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's chief economist, has admitted that ultra-loose monetary policy is a drag on productivity. So why won't the Bank change course?

Productivity is the key to prosperity. Increased wealth comes from producing more using less effort, time, and resources. If productivity stagnates – as it has in the UK – prosperity will follow suit.

One of the drivers of low productivity growth is cheap credit. Inefficient companies that would otherwise have failed, and replaced by better competitors, have been sustained by artificially low borrowing costs.

Haldane's case for record-low interest rates is that they prevented mass unemployment. Perpetuating zombie companies was worth it, he claims, to safeguard jobs.

That argument had some force in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. Less so nearly a decade later. Keeping interest rates at record lows indefinitely means making low productivity growth the norm, while at the same time creating the conditions for another job-destroying financial crisis.

Cheap money is not the only reason for poor productivity. Another, which Haldane neglected to mention, is corporate welfare. Tax credits incentivise employers to use cheap (often imported) labour, rather than invest in new technology – as UKIP's Economy Spokesman, Mark Reckless, explains in a recent paper.

But the economic effects of artificially manipulating the price of capital shouldn't be underestimated. Experience has shown that official price controls create either gluts or shortages. Market prices always allocate resources better.

Capital is no different. Lower productivity is one of many dangerous imbalances caused by ultra-loose monetary policy. They need to be corrected, not excused.

21 MAR 2017

Give voters the right to sack MPs

Like so much of what the House of Commons does these days, yesterday's debate on MPs double-jobbing was mostly virtue signalling. That's because MPs don't like the real solution: recall elections.

In the United States, representatives can be recalled by their electorate. If enough local people sign a petition, they trigger a by-election. Voters then decide whether or not to renew their representative's mandate at the ballot box.

We could have had the same system here. In 2014, a Recall of MPs Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech.

But the title was misleading. Under the final legislation, voters can only trigger a by-election if a committee of grandees – or a court of law – has first found an MP guilty of wrongdoing. Rather than put voters in charge, the Bill let MPs act as a self-serving cartel.

Indeed, the government made sure Zac Goldsmith's amendments to the Bill – which would have led to a real right of recall – were rejected.

Now we see why. Would the former Chancellor would have taken on so many roles outside Parliament if a recall election in Tatton were a possibility?

The debate about MPs taking jobs outside Westminster in any case misses the point. The most common form of double-jobbing is the appointment of MPs as ministers. Voters should have a say on that too.

Until a century ago, they did. Prior to the Re-Election of Ministers Acts (1919 & 1926), MPs had to face ministerial by-elections to join the Cabinet. They could only become ministers with their constituents' consent.

Consent wasn't always given. Between 1895 and 1926, there were 127 ministerial by-elections. On eight occasions, the ministers-designate lost.

The way to keep MPs in check isn't to empower a toothless regulator. It's to let their constituents hold them to account.

20 MAR 2017

Politicians and press have become indistinguishable

George Osborne's appointment as Evening Standard editor says a lot about the state of the press. It ought to be perverse for a politician to be a journalist. But, when many so-called journalists do little more than push a political agenda, what's the difference?

The idea of journalists as brave, independent scrutineers of politics may be appealing, but it's not accurate. The relationship between the Fourth Estate and the political class is actually far too cosy.

Because politicians trade access for positive coverage, many journalists end up going native. Instead of exposing the governing elite, they act as its cheerleaders.

"That's nothing new," you might think. "Newspapers have always had a clear bias."

Of course, there has always been an editorial point of view. The difference now is that there is little but opinion. Subjective analysis now masquerades as news.

During the referendum campaign, for example, it was striking how both print and broadcast media reported George Osborne's Project Fear narrative as objective fact. No matter that none of it has turned out to be true.

Pundits frequently make out that established media are losing market share because consumers are now more interested in fake news than truth. The people, we're told, are at fault.

The reality is the opposite. People are losing faith in established media because they see through the false pretence to objectivity. There's a market for truth which the press is failing to deliver. Rather than cater to the public, pundits have joined the oligarchy.

Osborne will no doubt use his perch at the Standard to push the same spin he did as Chancellor. Far from being unqualified, he's taking up an all too familiar role. That's the problem.

17 MAR 2017

The Bank of England should follow the Fed's lead

Ultra-loose monetary policy is one of the biggest risks to the global economy. Belatedly, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates this week. The Bank of England should follow suit.

There is no justification for record low interest rates. They were supposed to be temporary measure, in the wake of the financial crisis. Instead, they have become permanent. Indeed, the Bank cut them even further last August.

The consequences of artificially cheap credit are disastrous. It encourages consumers to borrow too much, banks to take excessive risks, and companies to buy back shares rather than invest in improving productivity.

Moreover, it transfers wealth from the asset poor to the asset rich. It is stoking a housing bubble that is preventing a generation from buying their own homes. 

Central banks are reluctant to raise interests because they fear the only thing keeping the global economy afloat is consumer borrowing and spending. Yet they must know that is an unsustainable model.

Eventually, borrowers will default, and contagion will spread to the entire system – just as it did a decade ago. Compounding the problem with more debt will only make the ultimate correction all the more painful. (For more on this, see my paper After Osbrown.)

Yesterday, Kristin Forbes, one of the nine members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, dissented from the majority decision to leave rates unchanged, and voted to raise them. Let's hope she persuades the rest of her colleagues next month.

16 MAR 2017

Forcing U-turns is Parliament's job

Pundits see the government's decision to scrap its planned rise in NI contributions for the self-employed as the Chancellor's failure. Perhaps it should just be seen as Parliament doing its job.

Politicos have become so used to budgets being nodded through by MPs that they have come to believe Parliament is supposed to work like this. But it's not.

Prior to the 1930s, backbench MPs could table amendments to the budget resolutions. The national government changed the rules to prevent it. Since then, Parliament has tended just to rubber stamp hundreds of billions of pounds' worth of spending and taxation.

Yet opposition from MPs has now forced a volte face on the centrepiece of the budget after only a week. Perhaps Parliament isn't quite so powerless after all.

It will be interesting to see how the Chancellor now replaces the ditched measures.

In autumn 2015, George Osborne backtracked over tax-credit reductions without replacing them with alternative cuts. Instead, he conjured up an extra £27 billion from nowhere – based on conveniently revised borrowing projections. In effect, he simply borrowed more money.

By contrast, Hammond has hinted at a broader rethink of the treatment of the self-employed in the tax system – so as to achieve the same ends by different means. That suggests self-employed people shouldn't celebrate just yet. Alternative tax rises may be coming in the autumn.

That's the wrong approach. Rather than tax – or borrow – more, government needs to spend less.

Parliament has demonstrated that cross-party opposition can block tax rises. Now we need cross-party support for spending cuts.

15 MAR 2017

We need a Bloggers Freedom Bill

Five years ago, I crowdsourced a Private Members' Bill on Guido Fawkes. From five options, the people picked a Bill to repeal the European Communities Act. How prescient they were. Now I'd like to revive another of my suggestions: a Bloggers Freedom Bill.

Britain's libel laws are out of date. They were developed at a time when very few people published anything. Those who did were affiliated to large organisations with the financial resources to defend themselves in court.

Yet they are now applied in a world where millions of individuals – without financial backing – publish constantly, both online and on social media.

The law needs to be updated for the digital age.

People do need protection from libel, and their intellectual property should be safeguarded. But, at the same time, those posting on social media should have some security against being sued.

The Bloggers Freedom Bill I suggested would be a compromise. It would give bloggers and tweeters a 48-hour period of grace – to remove content – before legal action could be taken.

The status quo skews the law in the interests of big media, rich claimants, and lawyers. It restricts the democratisation of media made possible by the digital revolution.

Let's make libel law reflect today's reality – and the public interest.

14 MAR 2017

WTO terms are an asset - not a foe

The UK should be able to strike a free-trade agreement with the EU. It is in our mutual interests to do so. However, if we cannot reach a good deal, the World Trade Organisation helps us ensure workable terms of trade even if we walk away.

Some MPs seem to think that trading under WTO terms is tantamount to isolation or protectionism. It appears to escape their notice that the precise purpose of the WTO is to facilitate trade.

Under the most-favoured-nation principle, the EU would not be able to discriminate against UK goods with extortionate tariffs even if it wanted to.

As to non-tariff barriers, remember all British companies already comply with single-market regulations and standards by default – unlike those of any other country that trades with the EU on WTO terms.

Imports, meanwhile, would be entirely at our discretion. We could not only set tariffs as low as we want, but also unilaterally allow any product manufactured to EU standards to be sold here – thereby keeping the compliance costs passed on to UK consumers as low as possible.

Those MPs who claim any deal with the EU is better than no deal are being disingenuous about what a bad deal would mean.

An agreement that failed to restore our sovereignty, or our control over our borders and fishing waters, or our freedom to determine our own regulatory environment, or our ability to sign free-trade deals with other – growing – economies beyond Europe is an agreement we cannot accept. Acquiescence would be not only counter to our economic interest, but anti-democratic.

Those who want the government to rule out trading with the EU on WTO terms are, in effect, attempting to rule out Brexit. They are seeking to give the EU sole discretion over our terms of exit – which would mean never leaving.

But Brexit is happening. Parliament has – finally – voted for it. There is every reason to believe we will sign mutually beneficial trading deal with the EU. Yet, whatever the outcome of negotiations, we must all now adapt to a new reality.

13 MAR 2017

Brexit begins

264 days since the referendum, Article 50 could be triggered this week. Finally, Brexit is becoming a reality.

Assuming the House of Commons votes down the Lords' amendments to the Article 50 Bill today, the Lords will be unlikely to obstruct the Bill again. The PM could then trigger Article 50 as soon as tomorrow morning.

Of course, there will be other big Parliamentary votes on the Brexit process – both on the final deal and on the Great Repeal Bill.

But the nature of the debate will now change. There will be no going back.

Ideally, from now on, Parliament would play a constructive – rather than obstructive – role. We can now have substantive discussions about vast areas of policy that were delegated to the EU.

Taking back control shouldn't be thought of as the end of the process, but the beginning. Power should be spread outwards and downwards: not just from Brussels to Westminster, but from Westminster to local communities, and ultimately to individuals.

But, as the budget debate testifies, the instincts of both the government and the opposition are fundamentally statist. There is a gap in the political marketplace for a localist, classically liberal domestic agenda.

I set out some ideas for what that agenda could look like in my new book, Rebel – published April 6th. No time to lose.

09 MAR 2017

The stopgap budget

Philip Hammond's first budget was something of a non-event. Borrowing is still too high, and the tax hike on the self-employed is unwelcome. But the biggest story is that he has put off the major decisions until the autumn.

The Chancellor is right not to spend more this year simply because borrowing projections are better than forecast. But he made no extra effort to balance the books either.

According to the OBR's projections, there will still be a budget deficit in 2022 – and that's if everything goes to plan. It's a far cry from George Osborne's promise to eliminate the deficit by 2015.

Of course, economies don't obey Whitehall's plans. The business cycle always turns. There is a danger that the public finances still won't be in surplus when the next crash hits. With the Eurozone teetering on the brink of a new crisis, that could happen sooner many seem to think.

The good news is that the economy is still growing. While the OBR's longer-term forecasts are invariably shaky, its improved growth forecast for 2017/18 – from 1.4% to 2% – reflects the real strength of the economy since the referendum, pace Project Fear predictions.

The bad news – in addition to borrowing – is the hike on national insurance contributions for the self-employed. If the Chancellor wants a flexible labour market and more disruptive innovation, introducing disincentives to self-employment is an odd way to go about it.

But the main message of this budget is that the big decisions – on overhauling business rates and social care funding – have been deferred. Today the Chancellor announced consultations on both. But the changes won't come until in the next budget, which – because of a timetable shift – he will deliver in six months' time.

I suspect the autumn budget will be much more eventful.

08 MAR 2017

The end of Osbrown?

When Philip Hammond delivers his first budget today, we'll find out what kind of Chancellor he is. Let's hope he proves to be more fiscally responsible than his predecessor.

Reports suggest the budget will contain few new spending announcements. Instead, the Chancellor is expected to announce a £60 billion Brexit "war chest".

His ability to do so is a reflection on the strength of the economy since the referendum. Growth was higher in the second half of 2016 than the first. Government borrowing this financial year is on course to be lower than the OBR forecast.

The Chancellor is right not to take the fall in borrowing as an invitation to spend. This government's failure to keep its promise to return government finances to balance has already increased the national debt by 50% since 2010. We need a return to fiscal sanity.

UKIP would therefore support saving more – by scrapping the £56 billion High Speed 2, reducing overseas aid by up to £10 billion a year, and reforming the Barnett formula.

At the same time, we propose cutting VAT on domestic fuel bills, hot food, and sanitary products. Regressive taxes like VAT hurt the poorest most. That burden needs to be lifted.

I'd also like to see a change in outlook from Philip Hammond. After two decades of failed Osbrown economics, we need a Chancellor who recognises that loose monetary policy will never generate sustainable growth.

Today we may find out if the Osbrown era is finally over.

07 MAR 2017

The message of GM's EU exit

General Motors' decision to sell Opel/Vauxhall to Peugeot is a reminder that the European market is in decline. Post-Brexit Britain needs to look beyond it.

As Matthew Lynn points out in the Telegraph, by selling Opel/Vauxhall, GM isn't pulling out of Britain. It's pulling out of Europe. That's telling.

GM hasn't had an easy decade anywhere. It was bailed out by the US government in 2008, temporarily ending up in public ownership.

But its lack of profitability this side of the Atlantic has much more to do with the European market.

Annual car sales in the EU are still 20% lower than they were in 2007. By contrast, US car sales hit a new record in 2016 – with GM's sales in December 2016 10% higher than in December 2015.

The EU's economic problems aren't going away. Another sovereign debt crisis is imminent. The EU doesn't have the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions. And even if it did, the plain fact is that Europe is in demographic decline.

Whichever way you look at it, the European market is shrinking. It's no longer the comparatively dynamic trading bloc that Britain joined forty years ago.

Britain needs to reorient its economy toward the growing regions of the world to prosper. That would have been the case whatever the result of the referendum.

Of course we want – and will negotiate – access to the EU market post-Brexit. But we can't stake our future on it.

Brexit provides the opportunity we need to revamp our trade policy for the twenty-first century. Let's make sure we take it.

06 MAR 2017

Fiscal sanity can't wait

The Chancellor has promised no gimmicky giveaways when he delivers the budget this week. But this government is still postponing eliminating the deficit. That's a big mistake.

Two decades of Osbrown economics have wrecked the public finances. In cash terms, the national debt has quadrupled since 2003. It now stands at over £1.6 trillion – or 88% of GDP.

And those are just the official figures. Take into account the government's off-balance-sheet liabilities, and the government's true debt could be over five times greater – almost £9 trillion, according to the Taxpayers' Alliance.

Those who think we can keep borrowing forever should consider that the government is paying £36 billion a year in debt interest – even excluding interest paid to the Bank of England. That's more than we spend on defence.

If debt interest costs that much at the peak of a bond bull market with interest rates at record lows, what will that bill look like when the price of borrowing rises?

We often think of countries collapsing because of war or conquest. What's often overlooked is that many great nations and even empires were brought down by bondholders. (For more on the history, see my forthcoming book.)

Public debt is a huge economic risk. The more we borrow now, the worse the government's position when the next financial crisis occurs. A responsible Chancellor wouldn't put off balancing the books.

03 MAR 2017

Blame monetary policy for income stagnation

"Government reforms are projected to increase inequality", claims the IFS. But there's a big point missing from their analysis. If inequality is rising, it's not primarily because of fiscal policy. It's down to monetary policy.

One of the main reasons incomes have stagnated since the financial crisis is because interest rates have been kept artificially low.

The Bank of England's vast monetary stimulus kept up inflation even during the recession. That enabled employers to keep staff and maintain wages in cash terms – because they were falling in real terms.

The IFS notes that income inequality fell in the years following the financial crisis, because wages stagnated for all both high and low earners. But income inequality only tells part of the story.

The most pernicious effect of ultralow interest rates has been to stoke asset bubbles. As a result, those that already owned assets – e.g. houses – saw their value appreciate, while those who didn't were prevented from buying them.

In short, there was a huge transfer of wealth from the asset poor to the asset rich. And it happened with no public consent.

If you want a different taxation and spending regime, you can vote to turf out this government and elect a new one. But whom do you vote for if you want to raise interest rates?

As Moneyweek's John Stepek writes, the closest thing to a dictator in the United States – at least where the economy is concerned – isn't the elected Donald Trump. It's the unelected Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen.

Central banks are artificially sustaining a fatally flawed monetary and banking system. The side-effects at the moment are unfair. But the consequences when the system finally collapses could be disastrous.

The world is going to need a new monetary model. It's time monetary policy stopped being the sole preserve of technocrats, and became part of public debate.

01 MAR 2017

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.

28 FEB 2017

Has Brussels given us a blessing in disguise?

Brussels looks to have blocked the merger between the London Stock Exchange and Germany's stock exchange, Deutsche Boerse. For Britain's sake, that's probably just as well.

The European Commission's demand that the London Stock Exchange divest its stake in MTS, an Italian bond-trading platform, came as a shock. Stock Exchange bosses and shareholders are understandably annoyed.

But, for Britain, it could well be better for the merger not to go ahead – because of the assets that EU institutions could threaten further down the line.

The European Central Bank has been trying to move euro clearing from London to the Eurozone – and the London Clearing House is owned by the London Stock Exchange.

So, for the ECB, a merger would be a boon. A majority of the shares in the new entity would be held by Deutsche Boerse shareholders, who might back moving euro clearing to Frankfurt. Moreover, German and EU regulators would have greater powers of oversight.

Even beyond euro clearing, there's good reason to be concerned about closer financial ties with Frankfurt. The Eurozone is teetering on the brink of financial meltdown. Its authorities are becoming ever more interventionist.

The City may not be able to escape exposure to this unfolding disaster, but there's no reason to court it.

Unintentionally, Brussels may have done us a favour.

27 FEB 2017

Public spending is out of control

In their attempt to block Article 50, many Remainer MPs rebranded themselves as champions of Parliamentary sovereignty overnight. If they really believed in it, they would call out Parliament's powerlessness over public spending.

Preventing the Crown from spending public money without Parliament's consent was one of the key provisions of the 1689 Bill of Rights. Our democracy is built on that limitation of prerogative power.

It follows that approving how the government uses public money should be one of Parliament's most important jobs. So why are only three days a year set aside for it?

On these Estimates Days, as they are called, hundreds of billions of pounds go through on the nod. Sometimes there isn't even a vote.

The Supplementary Estimates for 2016-17, which the House will discuss this week, cover £68 billion of additional public spending. The details stretch to 756 pages. Yet only a few items of spending will even be debated on the floor of the House.

Three centuries since the Bill of Rights, the executive has effectively regained full control over the public purse.

Is it any wonder the state has racked up trillions in debt?

Ministers shouldn't get such an easy ride. If Select Committees had the right to veto departmental spending, we might even be able to balance the books.

But the state is now so big, it is virtually impossible for Parliament to scrutinise it properly. Perhaps we need a twenty-first-century Bill of Rights to bring it back under control.

24 FEB 2017

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.

23 FEB 2017

Who will save the liberal order?

Do you support Donald Trump, or side with the anti-Trump protesters? Are you persuaded that Theresa May is doing great, or convinced Comrade Corbyn is the answer?

Look at how polarised politics is becoming. It's supposed to be about deciding which box to mark on the ballot paper. Instead, it is increasingly all-encompassing. People are coming to be defined by their political allegiance.

But is that constructive?

There is a real divide in politics. On one side are the New Radicals – e.g. Trump, Five Star, Syriza. On the other are those who might loosely be called the liberal elite.

Yet the truth is that neither is a particularly compelling proposition. The critics of the New Radicals have a point. But so do those who are fed up with the established ruling class. There really is a political and economic oligarchy emerging in most Western states.

Is this a new phenomenon though? Maybe there have been other instances in history where elites have concentrated power, and provoked an insurgency in response. Perhaps it's worth thinking now about what kind of fightback worked – and what didn't.

If we want to preserve the liberal order that has been the norm in the West since the end of the Second World War – and expanding to the rest of the world since the fall of Communism – then self-styled liberals may need to ask themselves whether they are really true to liberalism.

These are some of the themes I explore in my forthcoming book.

22 FEB 2017

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.

21 FEB 2017

Peers are playing with fire

The unelected oligarchy in the House of Lords could vote to amend the Article 50 Bill today. They don't seem to recognise how self-defeating that would be.

Some peers – Lord Mandelson, for example – think they can get away with obstructing the referendum result. That attitude betrays an incredible lack of self-awareness.

The most the upper house could do is delay Brexit, not block it. But if peers do decide to dig their heels in, they risk triggering a constitutional crisis that they will definitely lose.

The House of Lords did just that a century ago. Peers thought they could block David Lloyd George's "People's Budget". Instead, not only did the budget pass, but the Lords ended up losing their power of veto.

"Surely, peers today can't be quite that tone deaf", you might think.


The upper house may no longer be made up of hereditaries. But it is no more representative for being stuffed with ex-MPs, donors, and party placemen instead.

Today's House of Lords is an excellent cross-section of the House of Commons ten years ago. It is almost designed to be outdated.

There is widespread consensus that the House of Lords is long overdue for radical reform. Peers could start that process today.

20 FEB 2017

All the President's pundits

Media types seem to be perpetually outraged at President Trump's comments about the press. If they want to rebuild public trust in journalism, they are going the wrong way about it.

Reporters called the President's press conference last week "extraordinary". But was it? He has been criticising the media consistently for almost two years. It's part of what won him the election.

Trump's attacks on the media resonate with voters in middle America because they have long since lost faith in the press. Rightly so.

The leftist bias of mainstream American news outlets, like CNN and NBC, is pervasive – much like it is at the BBC. Yet, just like the BBC, they refuse to acknowledge it.

You would think growing public dissatisfaction with the press would prompt some humility and reflection. Instead, it appears to have the opposite effect.

Journalists now seem to think of themselves as great heroes of the Trump "resistance". The greater his criticism of them, the more sanctimonious and self-congratulatory they become.

Apparently, pundits still don't get that they are merely justifying his message in the eyes of voters. They aren't hindering the President. They're helping him.

The remarkable thing about President Trump isn't that he attacks hostile media. It's that he has managed to harness them. He has made them his useful idiots.

Throughout the campaign, Trump got billions of dollars of free publicity thanks to news outlets broadcasting his every critical tweet. He has created a kind of feedback loop: the more he attacks the press, the more hysterical they become, the more support he wins.

There's a big gap in the market for reasoned, dispassionate, insightful analysis about what's going on in Washington. If mainstream journalists weren't so preoccupied by their own wounded pride, some of them might seize it.

17 FEB 2017

Europe needs to recommit to NATO

NATO is supposed to be a partnership. Yet, for too long, European countries – including Britain – have effectively subcontracted their defence to the United States. That has to change.

We may be one of the few countries in NATO to spend anywhere near 2% of our GDP on defence. But it's a close-run thing. Numerous reports suggest that the MoD relies on some pretty creative accounting to meet the commitment.

Besides, 2% isn't a target. It's the bare minimum. Given that defence is one of the government's most basic responsibilities, you wouldn't think it would be something to skimp on.

Spending, of course, can be a bad metric. Much of the defence budget is wasted on overpriced equipment that doesn't work, delivered by a price-gouging contractor cartel that ministers and mandarins often seem only too happy to subsidise.

But there's a deeper issue here. Since the beginning of the Cold War, we in Europe have come to expect America to defend us. Consequently, our governments haven't taken defence seriously.

Now the danger of that complacency is becoming clear. Americans have come to resent supporting Europe's defence when Europe is not prepared to defend itself.

What's lacking is the right political will. Some European governments have gone to great lengths in the attempt to save the Eurozone. Imagine if they put the same effort into saving NATO.

Our safety doesn't come free. European governments may need to rethink their priorities.

16 FEB 2017

How to cut the cost of living

A third of British households now live on inadequate incomes, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. To increase prosperity, it's not enough to raise wages. We need to scrap the policies that are pushing up the cost of living.

Unemployment is exceptionally low in the UK. That's the upside. The downside is that high employment has been achieved through wage compression.

Downward pressure on wages is partly the result of the free movement of cheap labour from Eastern Europe. But that's not the only reason.

The government is also subsidising low pay – through tax credits. Employers are incentivised to keep wages low, knowing taxpayers will top them up. In-work benefits are also an added incentive for immigration.

But low pay isn't a stand-alone problem. Wage stagnation is an issue because the cost of living is high and keeps rising. For that, government bears much greater responsibility.

Regressive taxes – VAT, 'green' levies, duties on fuel, alcohol and tobacco etc. – place the greatest burden on the least wealthy households. According to official statistics, the poorest fifth of households spend an average of 30% of their disposable income just on indirect taxes.

The poorest are also hit hardest by monetary policy. Decades of low interest rates have not just raised prices that would otherwise have fallen, but also stoked a housing bubble – transferring wealth from the asset-poor to the asset-rich in the process.

Letting people keep more of their own money, and not debasing its value through constant monetary expansion, would raise the welfare of the poorest at a stroke.

The answer isn't more state intervention. It's less.

15 FEB 2017

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.

14 FEB 2017

We need to look beyond comprehensive education

MPs on the Education Select Committee claim that the government hasn't presented enough evidence for new grammar schools. But how much evidence is there for keeping the comprehensive system?

Comprehensive education was never based on evidence. It was about ideology.

Marxist educational theorists backed one-size-fits-all schools because they refused to accept the reality of natural differences in ability. All differences in ability, they maintained, were about class.

Which is why, when comprehensives were first set up, they didn't stream by ability.

Now, of course, they do – because one-size-fits-all education doesn't work in practice. Why would it? The idea of natural equality is absurd.

The reality is that people are diverse. So the education system should reflect that.

Opening new grammar schools should be part of a wider effort to diversify the system.

Schools should be able to decide what and whom they teach – with no national curriculum.

Parents should have the right to control their share of the education budget and send their children to whatever school they choose – not a school determined by postcode lottery.

Unfortunately, any change to the current system – however minor – is opposed by vested interests in the teaching unions and academia, many of whom are still wedded to the bogus theories of the past. Our education system is hamstrung by producer capture.

The overriding aim of school reform should be to face down the education establishment and free up the system. That's what MPs should be pushing for.

13 FEB 2017

Don't jeopardise Brexit with Commons chaos

Parliament has some big Brexit battles ahead. We need to win them. So Brexiteer MPs should base everything they do in the Commons on a simple litmus test: does it benefit Brexit, or not? That's my perspective on the latest effort to unseat the Speaker – and why I won't support it.

There's no doubt John Bercow's attempt to stop President Trump speaking in Parliament is wrong. It's an absurd overreach. It's student politics.

It's also an appalling double standard. Last year, Parliament invited the Chinese President to speak. He is not democratically elected. His government restricts freedom, imprisons dissidents, and routinely abuses human rights.

Yet MPs politely listened to him speak, and had tea with him afterwards. Indeed, the Speaker was only too happy to host him.

In fact, Parliament has welcomed numerous illiberal despots and tin-pot tyrants over the years.

So blocking the elected President of our closest ally – the leader of the free world – is worse than mere virtue signalling. It's morally perverse.

But that doesn't make another Tory challenge to Bercow a good idea. Because the one thing we don't need now is Commons chaos.

Parliament has serious votes on the Great Repeal Bill ahead. Majorities could be tight. Remainer MPs will continue to frustrate the referendum result.

Brexiteers should be exclusively focused on winning those fights – not picking others. Nothing else matters.

President Trump should absolutely be invited to address Parliament.

The Speaker needs to stop posturing, swallow his pride, and roll out the red carpet.

But I won't join the charge to depose him. There are much more important battles to fight.

10 FEB 2017

We should be optimistic about Brexit negotiations

As we prepare to trigger Article 50, some MPs are decidedly pessimistic about Brexit negotiations. They seem to think talks will be based on spite. The reality is mutual interests will prevail.

Visiting London yesterday, the EU's financial services commissioner dismissed the notion of punishing Britain for Brexit. Instead, he spoke of reaching a free-trade agreement that benefited both sides.

Hardened Remainers may find that surprising. They shouldn't.

While several EU capitals may envy London's status as a financial centre, European banks still need access to London's financial markets. Even the European Parliament has acknowledged that.

The same applies to other sectors too – notably manufacturing. Interrupting integrated supply chains with new trade barriers would damage EU manufacturers.

Plus, there's the wider context. Eurozone growth is still slow. The sovereign debt crisis is returning. Is access to the UK's consumer market – and the trade surplus that comes with it – really worth risking out of spite?

Those who think the EU has to punish Britain for leaving to deter other countries from doing likewise seem oblivious to the damage another economic shock would do to the Eurozone. Yet that – not Brexit – is the biggest political threat the European project faces.

Some, however, are still missing a much more basic point: we don't need to be in a political – or regulatory – union with European countries in order to trade with them.

Nowhere else in the world is international commerce thought to depend on the sacrifice of sovereignty. It shouldn't here either.

09 FEB 2017

Britain can't afford to bank on the Eurozone

News that the Eurozone faces yet another Greek debt crisis should be a wake-up call to those still lobbying for single-market membership. It's a reminder that artificially tying Britain's economy to the EU is a bad idea.

The sovereign debt problem isn't going away any time soon. Inside the single currency, Greece will struggle to grow enough to pay her debts. Outside, she would devalue her currency, and effectively default.

That would do huge damage to Europe's banks. Research published by UKIP in Parliament shows the Eurozone's big banks still have dangerously low capital reserves. They would need a bail out – which technically the ECB can't give them.

Yet the last few pro-Remain MPs seem oblivious to what's happening across the Channel. They seem to think that Britain faces no risks from being too closely linked to the Eurozone.

The reality is the opposite. Of course we want a free-trade deal with the EU. That's in our mutual interests. But we can't afford to wall ourselves into the world's only declining market, particularly given the fragility of its financial sector.

Leaving the customs union and the single market and trading more with the world's growing markets is offers Britain much greater long-term gains – as PwC's latest Brexit report highlights.

Parliament needs to remember that Brexit isn't happening in a vacuum.

08 FEB 2017

Want to fix the housing crisis? Stop stoking a housing bubble

The government's new housing white paper boasts of "fixing the broken housing market". But all it reveals is that ministers still haven't worked out the crisis is caused by monetary policy.

The reason that so many young people can't afford to buy isn't primarily about a lack of supply. Were that the problem – as Moneyweek's Merryn Somerset Webb observes – rents would be rising in tandem with house prices.

But they're not. House prices have rocketed, but rents have only increased in line with cost price inflation.

That's because the Bank of England has stoked a housing bubble. Nine years of record low-interest rates have kept house prices rising even as wages have stagnated. Our central bank is actively subsidising those who already own assets at the expense of those who don't.

But rather than deal with the real cause of the crisis, the government has merely come up with new ways to compound it – e.g. extending George Osborne's Help to Buy scheme, which enables first-time buyers to get a mortgage with only a 5% deposit.

Cheap credit and government-backed mortgages aren't the solution to a housing crisis, but the cause. It's what precipitated the subprime crisis in the United States – and the global financial crisis that followed.

To fix the housing crisis, policymakers need to stop meddling with the market. Interest rates should return to normal, and house prices must be allowed to realign with wages. If not, we know all too well how the housing crisis will end.

07 FEB 2017

Don't pretend the EU protects the environment

Car buyers are increasingly choosing hybrids over diesels. That's good news for the air quality in our cities. But let's not forget that, if it weren't for the EU, diesel cars would never have become so prevalent in the first place.

One of the big Europhile myths is that the EU has been great for the environment. It hasn't.

The Common Agricultural Policy has damaged the countryside. The Common Fisheries Policy has wrecked our fish stocks. But on a par with both is the EU's legacy on pollution.

Diesel-fuelled cars are a European phenomenon. They make up 50% of the market in the EU, compared to just 3% in the US. That's no coincidence.

Ever since the 1990s, the EU has favoured diesel over petrol. The justification was that diesel is cleaner, because burning it emits less carbon dioxide. On that basis, taxes on petrol were ramped up, while diesel was subsidised.

What we weren't told is that its other emissions are far more toxic. Diesel cars produce 15% less CO2 than petrol, but four times more nitrogen dioxide – and 22 times more particulates, which directly harm human health.

Moreover, we now know that the big corporations that pushed for diesel – like Volkswagen – were gaming even the lax rules they lobbied for.

Now consumers – who want better air quality – are correcting the regulators' mistakes in the market. Something for the champions of top-down, supranational government to ponder.

06 FEB 2017

The MoD is letting a contractor cartel rip Britain off

Defence procurement is a mess. Most new equipment seems to be delivered late, over-budget, and partially defective. So why does the government keep going back to the same failed contractors?

Bad procurement has left big gaps in Britain's defences. As the Sunday Times revealed yesterday, we have spent billions on drones that can't fly, ships that can't sail, and tanks that can't be transported.

But are the contractors penalised for ripping Britain off?

Quite the reverse. After every fiasco, they get another, bigger contract. No failure goes unrewarded.

This isn't just incompetence. It's the result of bad policy.

Every government favours a tiny contractor cartel with operations in Britain. That oligopoly knows it can hold the government to ransom. It's called producer capture.

The supposed argument for protectionist procurement is that it maintains a strategic industry. But that's a myth.

Most British defence companies have long since been merged into pan-European conglomerates. Almost no equipment is produced solely in this country.

So when ministers talk about "buying British", they actually mean buying from across Europe – requiring the permission of half a dozen different governments. So much for industrial sovereignty.

But perhaps even protectionism doesn't tell the full story.

President Trump is not only the foremost protectionist in the Western world but the loudest supporter of bottomless defence spending – and he leads the country with the world's biggest defence lobby. Yet even he has called out price gouging by major contractors – and actually got them to cut costs.

It's depressing that our government can't summon the courage to do the same.

03 FEB 2017

What is the point of economic forecasts?

The Bank of England has revised up its forecast for the UK economy again. So much for the post-referendum recession they told us would definitely happen. But it does make you wonder: are economic forecasts worth anything at all?

Many pundits seem to treat social sciences as no different from the hard sciences. Economic predictions are reported as facts. But that's a mistake.

Empirical science is based on testing hypotheses. Experiments are controlled. Variables are isolated.

But a social science, like economics, can't possibly work that way. There are far too many variables. Instead, broad principles about economic growth are inferred from broadly similar experiences.

Yet economic predictions are based on the premise that those principles can be turned into universal equations. A few assumptions are seen as sufficient to make specific forecasts for future growth rates.

No wonder those forecasts are invariably wrong. How could they not be?

In the last 500 years, human knowledge has expanded enormously. The rate of progress has been extraordinary – so much so that 'experts' are often expected to know.

But there are many things we can't know. It will never be possible to predict the behaviour of millions of people accurately. It's a conceit to think it could be.

Yet forecasters trade on that conceit. Like oracles in the ancient world, they claim prophetic knowledge that no one else possesses.

Calling out these so-called experts isn't about dismissing science. It's about recognising the real limits of knowledge.

02 FEB 2017

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.

01 FEB 2017

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.

31 JAN 2017

Quantitative easing is a corporatist con

Back in August, the Bank of England claimed more quantitative easing was necessary for the sake of the economy. Detractors said that was just an excuse to offer more subsidy to a corporate cartel. Who do you think was right?

Yesterday, the Telegraph reported that corporate borrowing under the Bank's latest QE is far higher than expected. The Bank has bought £5 billion in corporate bonds in just three months.

So a few big corporations have taken advantage of ultra-cheap borrowing. What about the rest of us?

The Bank's Governor, Mark Carney, has taken credit for preventing the post-referendum slump that has never even looked like materialising. That's fantasy, to put it mildly.

There was no sign of a slowdown when he announced the measure, as I wrote at the time. It was based on nothing but Project Fear propaganda.

But QE and ultra-low interest rates do have long-term effects – and they're extremely damaging. Asset bubbles. Zombie banks. Too much credit. Too few savings.

A systematic transfer of wealth from the asset-poor to the asset-rich.

To manipulate the price of capital is to misallocate it. Central bankers may be hubristic enough to believe that they are managing the economy, but, in reality, they are merely stoking the next financial crisis.

When public bureaucrats set the price of capital – offering handouts to Big Business in the process – free-market capitalism has been seriously corroded.

Beating the corporate oligarchy requires breaking the monetary monopoly.

30 JAN 2017

Who does Labour represent?

Some Labour Remainers are openly attempting to subvert the referendum result. Labour's leader wants retro socialism. Who is it that this once serious party now represents?

It's very unlikely that a small minority of MPs will succeed in blocking Article 50. If they do, however, it's almost certain there will be a general election. That might be no bad thing.

What unites Labour now seems to be total disregard for voters – especially in their own constituencies. Seven in ten Labour seats voted Leave, while many traditional Labour voters have little in common with Castro-loving Corbynistas.

If it's no longer clear who Labour now represents, it's because representative democracy itself has been turned on its head. Identikit career politicians are parachuted into safe seats by the big party machines. Rather than voters choosing their preferred candidate, candidates are choosing voters.

UKIP now has a great opportunity to challenge Labour's stranglehold on parts of England, and offer voters a real choice – starting with the upcoming by-elections in Copeland and Stoke.

But breaking the political cartel is a big task. It requires reforming an electoral process built by the big parties to maintain their monopoly – which began with the abolition of multi-member seats.

Britain is heading for the kind of political realignment that last happened when Labour deposed the Liberals a century ago. But successful insurgency isn't just about replacing the personnel. It's about changing the system.

27 JAN 2017

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.

26 JAN 2017

Why Labour loves EU red tape

At PMQs yesterday, ex-Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn defended EU regulations, and attacked the prospect of a US-UK free-trade agreement. The line of questioning was revealing. Brexiteers want to enable free trade. Labour want officials to restrict it.

Labour MPs still campaigning to keep Britain in the single market – and, thereby, effectively in the EU – make out that it has to do with trading access.

But that argument doesn't hold up. We don't need to have the same rules as EU countries to trade with them – and do so on good terms. Access to the single market doesn't require membership.

The truth is, for many on the left, the rules are really the goal. That's what the single market is, after all – the European Union's regulatory system.

Corbyn and co are hostile to a US-UK trade deal because they see consumer choice as a bad thing. They don't trust us to make decisions about what we buy, eat, or drink for ourselves. They want officials to decide for us.

At its core, this is a debate about the nature of society. Many on the left can't accept that trade happens when it is mutually beneficial for both parties, not when the state coordinates it. They see progress as something that happens through top-down planning, not bottom-up evolution.

But, in truth, society is self-organising – as the market demonstrates. Freedom has created prosperity. Central planning has only ever held progress back.

Many supporters of the EU sincerely believe that officials in Brussels can run our lives better than we can ourselves. But we're leaving that behind. Brexit means more power for individuals to organise themselves. It truly does mean taking back control.

25 JAN 2017

This Parliament needs to back Brexit - or make way for one that will

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling has cleared the way for Brexit. MPs have already backed triggering Article 50 by March. If they drag their heels now, we can always elect a new Parliament.

The real risk in yesterday's ruling wasn't the government losing the case. It was that the court might give the devolved administrations a veto over Brexit, or specify what kind of legislation the government would need to put before the House.

But that didn't happen. The judgment makes it very clear that the next steps are for Parliament, and Parliament alone.

That's good news. It means the government can put forward a simple one-line bill. The Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has signalled that he will advance legislation within days.

Watching MPs question David Davis in the House today, it was striking how continuity Remain has dissipated. Europhile MPs have been reduced to points about process. The argument has been won.

But if MPs, or peers, do still want to be obstructionist, we can always settle the question at the ballot box. A huge majority of Parliamentary constituencies voted Leave. The PM wouldn't have much trouble securing a mandate for Brexit – or, indeed, radical reform of the House of Lords, should that prove necessary.

Either way, Britain will be leaving the European Union. So let's just get on with it.

24 JAN 2017

What a US-UK trade deal looks like

When Theresa May goes to Washington this week, she will eat food, drink wine, and use goods approved by American regulators. To have free trade, we just need to make it legal to buy those same, federally approved products in the UK – via mutual standards recognition.

Britain has spent so long in the single market, many pundits have come to believe that international trade is impossible without uniform standards. But that's simply not true.

We don't need to have the same rules in order to buy each other's goods. People in different countries have managed to trade for millennia without a common regulatory system.

Instead of imposing new standards – like TTIP – our deal with the US will likely be based on mutual standards recognition. That means whatever can legally be bought and sold in the US we will be able to buy and sell in the UK – and vice versa.

Mutual standards recognition allows a trade deal to be done quickly – within months, as Trump's team has suggested.

Moreover, it promotes systems competition. It incentivises regulators in both countries to work in consumers' interests – because consumers will choose which regulator's products to buy.

Of course, both sides will want some caveats. From our end, that might have to do with chemicals in food. From theirs, it could be drug patents.

But the basic point is that, when dealing with a developed country with similar standards, we don't need new rules to permit trade – or a new layer of officialdom to make them.

For Britain, permissions-based trade is soon to become a thing of the past. We're about to rediscover what free trade means.

23 JAN 2017

Inequality is a problem - but redistribution isn't the solution

Oxfam is once again touting redistribution as the solution to inequality. That's a false promise. NGOs seem to see private property itself as the problem. But to reduce inequality, we need to recognise that the erosion of property rights is often what causes it.

Inequality is actually falling on some measures – especially here in the UK – while Oxfam's methodology for calculating it is deeply misleading.

Where it has reached extremes is in the pay of top corporate managers. In 1998, the average pay of a FTSE 100 boss was around 50 times the average UK wage. Now it's 180 times.

But the issue here isn't that getting rich is bad per se. The world as a whole is getting better off. We shouldn't see wealth as a zero sum game – because it's not.

The problem is that CEOs are being rewarded for failure. Their pay rises far outstrip any increase in the value of the companies they lead. Managers are gaining at shareholders' expense.


Because shareholders have lost control. Their votes on managerial pay aren't binding. And most no longer hold their shares directly, but rather through funds. The proportion of UK equities held by individual shareholders fell from 50% in 1953 to just 12% by 2010.

Redistribution won't solve a problem caused by poor corporate governance. Moreover, do we really think one form of expropriation can be corrected by another? Shouldn't we aspire to cut it out full stop?

Rather, the answer is to align the interests of managers with those of owners. CEOs should be made much more legally accountable to their shareholders. Corporate democracy needs to be restored.

To beat the CEO kleptocracy, shareholders must take back control.

20 JAN 2017

Let's be optimistic about President Trump

Today Donald Trump becomes President. Two months on from his election, some British politicos and pundits still seem to be in a state of mourning. It's time to snap out of it.

From Britain's perspective, there is a lot to look forward to from the new administration. Unlike his predecessor, President Trump wants to sign a free trade agreement with Britain post-Brexit. He won't be backing the EU at our expense. That has to be good news.

Those worrying about his attitude to Putin have remarkably short memories. It was President Obama who promised a Russian reset, scrapped plans for a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, and ignored his own red lines in Ukraine and Syria. If the new president is soft on the Kremlin, it will hardly be a shift from the status quo.

Beyond what President Trump means for us, we should watch his plans to shake up the political establishment with interest. By spending so little on his campaign – half what Clinton spent on hers – he has already shown up Washington's vast network of fundraisers and lobbyists. He's lost no time in calling out the price gouging of the defence contractor cartel. And his cabinet picks aren't afraid to challenge official groupthink – notably on education.

Beating vested interests is a tall order, though. Outsiders have won political office on occasion ever since the Roman Republic. But most have failed to deliver the change they promised. Instead of overthrowing the ruling class they opposed, they ended up entrenching it.

It's not enough just to change the people at the top. Defeating oligarchy requires abolishing the system that keeps it in place. As my new book argues, that system is almost always based on redistribution, rather than free exchange.

Very often, the danger from insurgency isn't being radically different from what came before. It's being the same. So let's wish President Trump well – and hope he succeeds.

19 JAN 2017

Brexit makes free trade possible

I'm confident that Britain will strike a good free trade deal with the EU. It's in our mutual interests to do so. But more important are the implications for our trade beyond the EU. Because Brexit is what makes free trade possible.

The EU is a protectionist club. Its tariffs raise the price of agricultural and manufacturing goods, in particular, 20% above world prices.

Brexit is a rejection of EU protectionism. It allows us to buy those same goods more cheaply.

Wider economic benefits will follow. Spending 20% less for the same amount of food and widgets means that 20% saving can be spent on something else – clothes, cars, meals out.

That won't just make consumers better off. More demand means more opportunities for British producers. More jobs.

"What about the producers who lose out from international competition?" You may ask. "Doesn't free trade hurt them?"

Economies are fundamentally dynamic. Production techniques improve over time. Conditions change. As some industries grow, others shrink. That's inevitable.

The right response to that reality isn't protectionism. Trade barriers are part of the reason why so many EU economies are stagnating.

Rather than resist economic progress, we need to embrace it.

Leaving the single market allows us to make our industry more competitive. I'd like to see us repeal EU rules that have increased energy bills, pushed up compliance costs, and raised barriers to entry to small business.

But we can go further than that. Liberalising international trade isn't enough. We need to make free exchange between people in Britain easier too. That's one of the big themes of my new book.

18 JAN 2017

Theresa May is broadening the Brexit coalition

Think back to January 2016. If you'd been told we'd have a Prime Minister committed to Brexit – without caveats – within a year, would you have believed it? That's how far we've come.

What was significant about the PM's speech yesterday wasn't that she confirmed Brexit entails leaving the single market and the customs union. We knew that already.

No, what struck me most was her tone. Positive. Internationalist. Recognising that the economic opportunities for Britain in the 21st century lie beyond Europe's frontiers. Prepared to work with the EU pragmatically – but as an equal, not a supplicant.

I felt that the Prime Minister channelled the infectious optimism that Boris Johnson brought to the Leave campaign – which is all the more remarkable because she wasn't a Leaver herself.

Seven months ago, that upbeat approach helped build the broad coalition we needed to win the referendum. Now it will help to bring former Remainers on board with Brexit too. Others will follow the PM's example.

So I'm incredibly excited. Resistance in Westminster and Whitehall is melting away. Britain is coming together behind a liberal Brexit. This time, the people are winning.

17 JAN 2017

Brexit optimism has gone mainstream

Today, Theresa May is set to confirm Britain will leave both the single market and the customs union. Over the weekend, the Chancellor hinted we could cut taxes to be more competitive after leaving the EU. Isn't it extraordinary how the new year has brought a new attitude to Brexit?

Brexit optimism goes beyond Downing Street. The Bank of England admitted it got its forecasts wrong. The City has dropped its demand for passporting, and is backing a trade deal with the EU based on regulatory equivalence. The FTSE 100 has had its longest winning streak ever.

Meanwhile, with a new US President and Congress, the prospects for a US-UK trade deal are brighter than ever.

Lots of companies that were negative about Brexit are now starting to see how Brexit could be good for business. That's actually not so surprising.

Many CEOs were fed a negative view of Brexit by their corporate affairs team. Some of these lobbyists are to Brexit forecasting what Bernie Madoff is to investing.

But businesspeople themselves are pragmatic. They can see the opportunities.

In fact, across Britain, the Leave coalition is growing as people have realised that the sky hasn't fallen in after all – and self-government will make as better off.

For pundits, stuck in pre-referendum groupthink, the PM's speech might be news. But it should have been obvious that we were leaving the single market and the customs union on June 24th.

The real significance of her speech is that it reflects a new reality. British politics has fundamentally shifted. We're all Leavers now.

16 JAN 2017

The age of technocratic groupthink is over

Do you get the feeling that the world is being reshaped by people who think differently?

For several months, some of us have been talking about making a free trade deal with the United States. Now – as Michael Gove revealed today in his interview with the President Elect – that deal is within reach. It now looks likely that we could have an agreement on the table within 24 months – in time for Brexit.

How can a deal be done so fast? Because it doesn't require unifying standards, like the single market. Instead, it's likely to be based on mutual standards recognition: with some obvious caveats, whatever it is legal to buy and sell in Clacton will become legal to buy and sell in California, and vice versa.

The important question now is what effect mutual standards recognition could have on British industries and exporters – pharmaceuticals, financial services, beef farmers? We need to be prepared to do business differently.

If there's opposition to a deal based on mutual standards recognition, it won't come from the US Congress. The real obstacle will be the federal regulatory agencies. They tend to see regulatory equivalence as a dilution of their own powers.

So it will be crucial to take note of whom President Trump puts in charge of these bodies: will they be people likely to challenge the institutional mentality of officialdom? That's where the front line in trade negotiations is likely to be.

The commentariat is months behind this story. Bovine pundits are still struggling to get their heads around the fact that we're leaving the single market, let alone the idea that there is a different model of international trade.

However the US-UK deal plays out, it's clear the world is being dramatically reshaped. Those stuck in the old groupthink won't be shaping it.

13 JAN 2017

Free trade doesn't require common rules

One of the big misnomers in Brexit coverage is that free trade requires uniform rules. It doesn't. The trade deals we now make should be based on mutual standards recognition, not regulatory union – as industry is starting to agree.

Reading the Brexit recommendations published this week by finance lobby group The City UK yesterday, I was struck that they omitted any demand for continued passporting arrangements for banks. Instead, they call for "the mutual recognition of regulatory regimes".

That's an approach we should adopt more widely.

Trade isn't free if it depends on reams of new regulation that makes every transaction subject to official permission.

Successful free trade deals are instead based on mutual standards recognition: each party allows the sale of goods and services produces produced according to the other's standards.

Many of the economies we want to trade with – from the US, to the EU, to Japan – are highly developed. Their regulatory regimes are similar to ours. So we can trust each other's rules when we buy each other's goods. We don't need to have the same rules to be able to trade.

Even the EU is capable of trading based on regulatory equivalence – as its new MiFID II rules testify. So that's how our future trade with the EU should work too. On that basis, we can have single market access without single market membership – as Leavers said all along.

But there's a broader point here, which is that trade isn't orchestrated by fiat. The mandarins who make a living from overcomplicated, permissions-based commerce want us to believe that they are an essential part of international trade. But they're not.

To beat oligarchy, we need to get these parasites out of the way.

12 JAN 2017

Davos elites still don't get that they're the problem

"Anti-establishment sentiment" may reflect "a threat to the democratic process itself", according to the World Economic Forum. Does it ever occur to this Davos elite that they might be the problem?

This year's Global Risks Report, which the World Economic Forum published yesterday, ostensibly identifies pitfalls for the global economy. But much of it just seems to highlight threats to the rule of people like them.

The report complains that "when moderates point to public debt and overstretched monetary policy as constraining room for manoeuvre, they can be portrayed as patronising." Would these be the moderates who presided over the financial crisis – and bailed out banks with taxpayers' money?

It laments that "historically, relatively small numbers of media outlets provided a widely trusted common foundation for national debates", but now "the media landscape is characterised by fragmentation, antagonism and mistrust". Apparently, we should miss the days of media cartels.

It proposes that governments tackle the "cultural challenges associated with immigration" just by "getting better at communicating change" – as if the only problem is that establishment politicians haven't propagandised enough.

Solutions to the world's political and economic problems aren't going to come from the crony clique that created them – and has most to gain from perpetuating the status quo.

But equally the answer is not just to overthrow this governing elite, and replace it with another. We need a system that prevents oligarchy from emerging in the first place. What would it look like? That's what my new book aims to set out.

11 JAN 2017

Capitalists should worry about corporate pay too

It's easy to mock Jeremy Corbyn. He rather sabotaged his own relaunch when he called for a maximum wage. But there is a problem with excessive executive pay – and capitalists can't just laugh it off.

Make no mistake: a maximum wage is a daft proposal. They tried it in Russia last century, and still do in places like Cuba and Venezuela today. It's fair to say it has been disastrous each time.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a problem with corporate pay. A survey of FTSE 350 companies published by the Lancaster University School of Management last month found that, between 2003 and 2014, average CEO pay rose by 82%, but the average return on capital was less than 1% per year.

In other words, the people who run companies are enriching themselves at the expense of people who own them.

Jeremy Corbyn offers retro socialism. Capitalists need to offer more than kleptocratic corporatism.

Few seem to understand that we now do capitalism without capitalists. We have diluted corporate ownership – so that shares are now held through third party organisations like funds and trusts. That makes it easy for managers to help themselves to other people's capital.

We're experiencing the resurgence of an old problem. In the eighteenth century, the East India Company became a byword for parasitism by expropriating not just Indians, but its own shareholders.

Poor corporate governance today is likewise sapping economic dynamism. The number of well run businesses and successful start-ups is declining – especially on this side of the Atlantic. Productivity is stagnant. That's because capitalism has been corrupted.

So how do we fix it?

I'm working on a couple of ideas in my new book. One is to insist that directors don't draw a salary at all, but own equity instead. Another is to give shareholders more power to control the management.

One way or another, free marketeers need to come up with a cure for corporatism. Otherwise, in a few years' time, Jeremy Corbyn's Castro impersonation won't sound so stupid.

10 JAN 2017

Theresa May won't solve anything with more patrician Toryism

Theresa May is inching her way toward the idea that there is something wrong with executive pay, corporate governance, and lack of opportunity. But what is her answer? For all the fanfare, it appears to be just more patrician Toryism.

Writing in the Telegraph yesterday, the PM criticised "burning injustices", called for "building the shared society" – and concluded that "it is the job of government ... to correct the injustice and unfairness that divides us wherever it is found".

Rather than looking for opportunities for government to intervene in people's lives, surely she should be looking to create an economic and social system that doesn't require ministers to intervene.

If she wants to reform corporate governance, why doesn't she stop the people who manage companies from parasiting off the people who own them?

If she is serious about economic reform, why isn't she breaking the producer cartels that dominate everything from energy to credit?

If she believes in equal opportunity, when is she going to do something about a monetary system that transfers wealth to those who already have assets, while preventing young people from buying a house?

There is a hugely important debate to be had about oligarchy. But we're not getting it from the leaders of the big parties. For Jeremy Corbyn, the answer is 1960s Cuban-style socialism. For Theresa May, it seems to be pre-Thatcherite conservatism. Both have been tried before. Neither has worked.

The real answer is uber-liberalism – in the genuine sense of the word. We need to frustrate a system that allows an oligarchy to rule. My forthcoming book, Rebel, shows how.

09 JAN 2017

Britain needs a bill of rights to protect press freedom

Mark Reckless and I refused to support plans to penalise the press when they were put before Parliament in what became the Crime and Courts Act 2013. We feared the new rules would restrict press freedom. It's now clear we were right.

Section 40 of that act, on which the government is currently consulting (until tomorrow), would force media outlets that aren't signed up to the state-approved press regulator to pay the full costs of any libel action against them, even if they are vindicated in court.

This is censorship through the back door. It means papers would avoid running exposés – about top politicians, for example – for fear of being sued, even if they are printing the truth.

Good news for vested interests in the Westminster cartel. Bad news for the public interest.

Free societies don't do censorship. Elites should not be able to use the law to protect themselves from criticism. Super-injunctions and state regulation of the press allow the rich and powerful to do just that.

In the United States, Section 40 would likely be unconstitutional. The First Amendment enshrines the freedom of the press as a basic right.

Evidently we can't trust our government to safeguard press freedom as a matter of course. We need our own bill of rights to make sure ministers can't violate it.

06 JAN 2017

The trouble with the Treasury

Economists at Cambridge have produced a new report critiquing the Treasury's Brexit forecasts. It's well worth reading.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. The Treasury's use of data – or not:

"It was a serious weakness of the Treasury report that almost no evidence of the record of UK trade with the EU was included in the analysis."

2. The problem with forecasts:

"A model based largely on equations reflecting past relationships between macroeconomic variables has little to go on in attempting to project a long-term future outside the EU."

3. Overestimating the common market:

"It is a little known fact that Commonwealth markets have grown faster than EU markets since the UK's historic switch from the former to the latter in 1973."

4. Post-Brexit house prices:

"The provision of housing for migrants through the buy-to-let market pushes up prices and crowds out other potential buyers. With lower net migration after 2019 this pressure is expected to recede."

5. The real economic challenge:

"The economic outlook is grey rather than black, but this would, in our view, have been the case with or without Brexit. The deeper reality is the continuation of slow growth in output and productivity that have marked the UK and other western economies since the banking crisis."

Could this be the start of a constructive debate about Britain's future?

05 JAN 2017

Why Project Fear won't die

The post-referendum recession George Osborne promised never happened. So why won't the doomsayers admit they got it wrong?

The economic news since the referendum has largely been good. Markets are up. Unemployment is down. The economy is still growing. Investment is flowing in. Construction and manufacturing are expanding, while our trade deficit is closing.

Moreover, international politics has changed. With President Trump, Britain will move from the back of the queue for a trade deal with the world's biggest economy to the front.

But has any of this provoked a rethink from the scaremongers? Although many Remainer politicos and pundits are coming round to embrace the opportunities of Brexit, there are still some – ever more desperate and shrill – promoting Project Fear.

What this reveals is that Brexit pessimism isn't rooted in data, but rather on false assumptions.

"Experts" still overlook the prospect of scrapping trade barriers with the world beyond the EU, or cutting the burden of EU regulation on small business. Pundits still can't tell the difference between membership of the single market and access to it.

Ultimately, many members of the ruling elite can't get their head around the fact that trade is organic and self-organising – and doesn't require centralised orchestration by people like them.

They're heading for a rude awakening.

04 JAN 2017

Ivan the Terrible

Sir Ivan Rogers quit as Britain's ambassador to Brussels yesterday. Apparently he's upset that the prime minister doesn't do what he tells her. Sorry, but who's in charge here?

Sir Ivan had a big hand in David Cameron's EU "renegotiation". A staunch Europhile, he reportedly blocked even the tiny changes suggested by the last PM's team. So I suppose we Leavers should be grateful: Sir Ivan unwittingly helped as win.

Unlike David Cameron, though, Sir Ivan didn't resign after losing the referendum. Instead, he has used his perch as Britain's champion in Brussels to talk Britain down.

For all his faults, David Cameron knew that his mandate ultimately came from the people. Officials, however, often have no such awareness.

The FCO, in particular, seems to pursue its own institutional agenda. That's deeply problematic – not just because it doesn't reflect what voters want, but because it prevents effective diplomacy.

British diplomats were blindsided by both Brexit and Trump because they never thought either could happen. Their political preferences clouded their strategic vision.

Officials need to buy into Brexit, whatever their personal beliefs. Those who can't should follow Sir Ivan's belated lead.

21 DEC 2016

Pundits: please stop making predictions

Pundits are already busy already telling us what to expect in 2017. But hold on. Aren't these the same people who confidently told us Brexit and Trump would never happen this time last year?

One of the lessons of 2016 has to be not to put faith in "expert" soothsayers. Pollsters, economists, and politicians formed a consensus about the likelihood of Brexit – and the consequences of a Leave vote. They were wrong about both.

Part of the error was down to groupthink. The data that comes out political and economic models reflects the data that goes in. Most of the people building these models started with the same shared assumptions – and never took any challenge to them seriously. It's no wonder the consensus was wrong.

But it's also about the limits of possible knowledge. Sixty-five million people can't be reduced to data points in a statistical model, let alone understood by commentators who rarely set foot outside the M25.

Next year, it would be nice to see a little more epistemic humility from would-be forecasters. I'm not expecting that – but I'd happily be proved wrong.

20 DEC 2016

Brexit is just the beginning

2016 has been the most incredible year in British politics in my lifetime. But what's truly amazing is that there is so much more to come.

Brexit was the reason I went into politics. But when I first stood for Parliament in 2001, the idea Britain could leave the EU outright was considered absurd even among the majority of Eurosceptics. A referendum on our EU membership was a distant hope.

So, for me, just having that referendum was astonishing – let alone winning it, and seeing Brexit become official government policy.

Of course, the job isn't done yet. There are still people intent on undermining Brexit, by trying to keep Britain in the single market and the customs union.

But when we are finally out of the EU for good, that won't be the end. It'll just be the beginning.

Once Britain is a self-governing nation again, we can ditch the tired technocratic consensus that has dominated our politics year after year, and – for the first time in decades – start to have a real, public debate about what kind of country we want to be.

Whichever way you voted in the referendum, that's an exciting future in prospect.

19 DEC 2016

Bitcoin is 2016's forgotten insurgency

2016 will go down as year of political insurgency. But there has been another, quieter rebellion against governing elites that hasn't happened at the ballot box. It's called Bitcoin.

Bitcoin – the digital currency based on blockchain technology – has been one of the hottest commodities this year. It has outperformed stocks, bonds, currencies, and gold.


Because it isn't fiat money.

Bitcoin is self-organising. It isn't regulated top down, by a central bank, but by its global network of users. It has become currency only thanks to consumer demand. That is the root of its success.

The big reason behind the Bitcoin boom is security against the state. Venezuelans are using Bitcoin to dodge central-bank-driven inflation. Chinese are buying it to avoid new capital controls. Indians are adopting it to elude the government's crackdown on cash.

It's popular in the West too. Since the financial crisis, Western governments have used their monopoly over money to enrich bankers at the expense of savers and taxpayers. Bitcoin offers an escape from that monetary manipulation.

To overcome oligarchy, it isn't enough just to change the people at the top of government. Their monopoly itself must be broken.

The biggest threat to establishment elites isn't political, but economic: self-organising systems that make big government obsolete. In other words, the market.

16 DEC 2016

So much for the EU's united front

Yesterday's so-called story, making out the PM has no friends in Europe based on ten seconds of footage, only shows how much pundits have bought into Project Fear. The reality is EU countries aren't united on Brexit – any more than they are on anything else.

Brussels may have tried to put up a united front against Britain, but it has already fallen apart. Behind the scenes, member states don't agree with the Commission, and the Parliament doesn't agree with the Council.

That's hardly surprising. When has the EU ever been able to speak with one voice? It's because there isn't a single supranational interest which unites all of Europe that we voted to leave the federalist project – and why other European countries may soon follow suit.

The federalists at the Commission might want to punish Britain pour encourager les autres, but they aren't the only people who matter. Other European nations are not blind to the mutual benefits of trade. They won't back a negotiation based on spite.

Our media do nobody any favours by swallowing the Eurocrats' hype.

15 DEC 2016

What is the government's problem with confirmation hearings?

Yesterday, I asked a junior minister if he supported confirmation hearings for quangocrats. He seemed to find the very idea offensive. Could it be that ministers are threatened by the prospect of parliamentary power?

David Cameron took office six years ago promising a bonfire of the quangos. It didn't amount to much. There are still hundreds of quangos – along with over 3,000 paid positions on their boards.

No one elects these people, yet they control serious sums of taxpayers' money. If the government won't rein them in, Parliament should.

We need confirmation hearings to make quangocrats accountable. Parliamentary select committees should interview top quango appointees before they take up their post – and, if necessary, veto their appointments.

It's hardly a new idea. President-elect Trump's cabinet picks will all be subject to confirmation hearings in the Senate. In America, powerful officials can't just be appointed without scrutiny. Why should they be here?

British ministers only baulk at confirmation hearings because they don't want to lose their monopoly over patronage. Their own vested interest takes precedence over the public interest.

This year, we broke the stranglehold of the Brussels cartel. The Westminster cartel must be next.

14 DEC 2016

Don't let Sir Humphrey run Brexit

When Philip Hammond told the Treasury Select Committee he supported a transitional deal with the EU, he noted that his opinion is the "universal view among civil servants on both sides of the English Channel." Why does that make him think it's a good idea?

Cheerleaders for a transitional deal claim it's essential to avoid economic instability. But the public pretext for a policy and the motive for it aren't always the same thing.

The real reason the mandarinate – along with the rest of our Europhile establishment – backs a transitional deal is that it could very easily turn into a permanent arrangement.

There's no genuine justification for a stopgap. Because Britain is starting from the position of total regulatory equivalence with the EU, sorting out a new trade deal needn't be so complex that it can't be done in two years.

So the imperative should be to get on with it. Brussels should know we're not prepared to wait forever.

Whitehall has always opposed Brexit. If we let officialdom dictate how the negotiations are run, we'll never leave. This is no time for ministers to go native.

13 DEC 2016

Decarbonisation has wrecked our energy market

Higher fuel bills. Risks of power cuts. Massive taxpayer subsidies to Big Green. Decarbonisation hasn't saved the planet. But it has ruined our energy market.

Peter Lilley's new report on the cost of the 2008 Climate Change Act is a must-read. He calculates that, on average, every British household is forking out over £300 a year to cut carbon emissions – and will be paying more than six times that in 2020.

And what have we got to show for it?

Shutting coal power plants has left us desperately short of supply. Renewables are too intermittent to fill the gap, while new nuclear plants won't come online for another decade.

But at least the planet has been saved, right?


Since we passed the Climate Change Act, China has increased its annual emissions by a billion metric tons of carbon – more than eight times our total annual carbon output.

So, whatever your stance on anthropogenic global warming, Britain's CO2 cuts haven't made a blind bit of difference to the planet.

There's no justification for this decarbonisation disaster. The government's priority should be cutting costs and keeping the lights on. For that, we need a free-market energy revolution.

12 DEC 2016

Nation states will outlast bureaucratic empires

"European nations will disappear without the EU", says the EU's chief bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker. So the only way to preserve individual nations... is to subsume them into a superstate. Can he really be that delusional?

Juncker might not have noticed, but beyond Europe, nation states are normal. In fact, unlike the EU, small polities are flourishing – even in difficult circumstances.

Taiwan has become an industrial powerhouse, in the face of decades of hostility from Beijing. As has South Korea, notwithstanding the rogue nuclear power next door. Israel has developed a high-tech exporting economy, despite being mostly surrounded by longstanding foes.

What Juncker doesn't get is that trade happens organically, not by grand design. Specialisation and exchange – enabled by free markets at home and free trade abroad – can make any small country internationally competitive.

Meanwhile, the EU has tried to orchestrate an entire continent's economy from Brussels. How's that working out?

What's obsolete is central planning by bureaucratic empires. Even Juncker should be able to make out the writing on the wall of his gilded cage by now.

09 DEC 2016

Eurocrats should make the most of their new golden egg - it could be their last

Earlier this week, the EU unveiled its new, taxpayer-funded, €321 million headquarters, shaped like a huge egg. Perhaps that's an appropriate motif – now that its chickens are coming home to roost.

According to its architect, the new building will bring 'joy' to the peoples of Europe. Because we all enjoy officials pampering themselves at our expense, don't we?

Particularly the Greeks, no doubt, who have endured years of austerity thanks to Eurocrats who told them there was no money to spare. Now we know where the money was going.

Across the Atlantic, President-elect Trump is set to cancel the new Air Force One because it costs too much. He gets the problem with taxpayer-funded opulence – and he's a billionaire who lives in gold-plated luxury.

Did it even occur to anyone on the Brussels gravy train that their new folly might be an affront to the people who paid for it?

There has been a lot of commentary since the referendum purporting to explain why Leave won – mostly from pundits who months earlier had told us why Leave couldn't win.

We've heard Leave voters slandered as xenophobes and morons.

We've been told the vote was just a protest against the Tories – or was it Labour?

We've been told it was a rejection of globalisation – even though one of the key planks of the Leave campaign was ending EU protectionism, and embracing free trade.

What few of these self-appointed authorities seem able to appreciate is that the EU is a bad system of government run by mollycoddled mandarins who are deaf to the concerns of the people over whom they preside, and blind to their own incompetence.

Across Europe, people are sick of Brussels because it seems to expend more resources on building a giant, glass-encased egg than on solving the migrant crisis, sorting out the sovereign debt disaster, and ending almost a decade of economic stagnation.

We voted for Brexit because the EU is hopeless. Why is that so hard for pundits to grasp?

08 DEC 2016

Team Remain's top three new Brexit fibs

Yesterday's Brexit debate featured a couple of great speeches – notably Michael Gove's. But, overall, it only offered more disingenuous delaying tactics from reactionary Remainers. Their bid to block Brexit now rests on three major myths.


Myth #1: "The government hasn't revealed its negotiating strategy to Parliament"

The idea behind yesterday's motion, tabled by Labour's front bench, was that the government has kept Parliament in the dark over its goals from the Brexit negotiations. But that's bunk.

The government has said it wants to take back full control over our laws and our borders, while maintaining the freest possible trade. That seems like a pretty clear aim to me.

What the deal Britain ultimately reaches with the EU will look like, however, is a separate question. That can't be revealed before negotiations start – because, by definition, the negotiations will determine it.

The government can hardly be attacked for failing to disclose the unknowable. If that's Remainers' best excuse for refusing to back Article 50, it's pretty desperate.


Myth #2: "Brexit should mean staying in the customs union/single market"

Brexit campaigners were clear about what a Leave vote meant: no more laws from Brussels; no more common external tariff; no more freedom of movement; access to – but not membership of – the single market. And, at the time, Remain campaigners agreed.

But strangely, since losing the referendum, they've changed their tune. Some MPs now pretend that leaving the EU can mean staying in EU institutions. They seem to think they can rebadge "EU membership" as "Brexit", and no one will notice.

How stupid do they think the British people are?


Myth #3: "We respect the referendum result"

Those MPs still campaigning to block Brexit were careful to preface their remarks yesterday by affirming that they respect the referendum result. It's a meaningless platitude.

The referendum result doesn't need to be respected by MPs; it needs to be obeyed. Parliament gave the people the right to decide whether Britain would leave the European Union. But, six months since that decision was taken, many MPs have done nothing but obstruct it at every turn.


Enough of this parliamentary posturing. This timewasting by MPs serves nobody's interests – and popular patience is rightly wearing thin.

If this House of Commons won't deliver Brexit, let's dissolve it, and elect one that will.

07 DEC 2016

Theresa May must call a binding vote to trigger Brexit - and watch Remainers squirm

Six months ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any political party in any British election ever. Turnout in the referendum was higher than in any general election since 1992. A clear majority backed Brexit. The British people issued an unambiguous instruction.

Yet today marks the first time that the Labour party has formally set out a position in the Commons on Brexit since the referendum. Ostensibly, their motion aims to push the government to disclose its Brexit plan for parliamentary scrutiny. But who are they kidding?

The pretence that some on the Labour frontbench are sudden converts to the idea of parliamentary oversight is pure sophistry. This is a party whose leadership willingly signed away parliament's sovereignty to Brussels on countless occasions over the last twenty years.

If Labour's backing for Brexit is conditional on how the government negotiates it, that alone is an affront to the pro-Brexit majority. The referendum result was unconditional and unequivocal. Obstructing Brexit on any pretext is anti-democratic.

Yet obstructionism is all some Remain MPs have to offer. In reality, the sole intention of today's motion is to give Europhile MPs an excuse to obstruct the triggering Article 50. They want nothing more than to bog it down in an unendingly complex Bill - over which they and the courts can then preside.

That was until the government called their bluff.

Last night the Prime Minister tabled an amendment that turns Labour's plan on its head. By calling for Article 50 to be triggered by March 31 2017, the amendment puts Parliament's reactionary Remainers on the spot.

I have cheerfully added my name to the amendment.

But enough of these Parliamentary parlour games. I'd like to see the government go much further. Today's vote isn't binding. We need one that is – and the sooner, the better.

Rather than waste time letting lawyers and vested interests tie the Prime Minister's hands, the government should put Brexit legislation before MPs now. If this parliament refuses to back it, let's elect one in 2017 that will.

Remain supporting MPs are in no position to dictate terms. By some estimates, seven out of ten Labour constituencies voted Leave. I know at least two Remain Tory MPs being threatened with deselection by their local associations. Go ahead, my friends. I dare you to go all Guardianista in your constituencies in the current climate.

There's a rising unease out there across the country. If this Parliament gets in the way of what the people have decided, we can always elect a new Parliament. And many Remain MPs know it.

Let's call their bluff with a binding Bill to trigger Brexit.

This article originally appeared in the Telegraph

06 DEC 2016

The euro is overdue a popular revolt

Matteo Renzi has become the latest prime minister to quit after losing a referendum. The vote was on constitutional reform, but it could herald another referendum on Italy's membership of the euro. That has been a long time coming.

The economies of southern Europe have been in crisis for almost a decade. Italy's economy has contracted by 10% since 2007. Youth unemployment is 39% - and even higher in Spain and Greece. Banks across the Mediterranean are overexposed to their own governments' debts.

Much of this is directly attributable to the single currency.

First, the euro enabled southern European countries to borrow too cheaply. Currency parity with Germany made imported goods cheaper than they should have been. The result was debt-fuelled consumption – which couldn't be sustained.

Having created the debt bubble, the euro then prevented the correction southern Europe needed to overcome it. If Italy, Spain, and Greece hadn't joined the euro, the value of their currencies would have dropped when the downturn hit. That would have made their exports more attractive, stimulated tourism, and made many of their debts cheaper to repay.

Instead, they had no way to devalue, while the ECB – which had made monetary policy too loose for southern Europe before the sovereign debt crisis hit – kept it too tight afterwards.

Economically speaking, the main beneficiary of the single currency has always been Germany. With southern Europe dragging its value down, the euro is cheaper relative to other major currencies than the deutschmark would have been. That makes German exports more competitive.

But, even for Germany, the costs of maintaining the single currency now outweigh the benefits. If Italy goes down, it will take German banks – like Deutsche – with it. German taxpayers have already had to fork out to keep Greece (and her German creditors) solvent. Doing so again for Italy – a much bigger economy – will provoke huge public resentment.

Yet amidst all this, the EU maintains the fiction that the euro is a roaring success. According to the European Commission, the benefits of the single currency include "improved economic stability and growth" and "greater security" – along with "a tangible sign of a European identity".

The Commission's blissful ignorance of reality could be its downfall. No one would bet against a political backlash against the euro across the Continent. The "tangible sign of European identity" may soon pull the entire European project apart. For southern Europe's sake, let's hope it does.

05 DEC 2016

Grayling is right to take on Network Fail's monopoly

Clacton's commuters are all too familiar with the poor service delivered by Network Rail. I've long argued that ministers need to challenge the monopoly that enables Network Rail to ignore passengers' interests. Now it seems ministers agree.

Rail privatisation is a bit of a misnomer. Since the collapse of Railtrack, Network Rail – a government subsidiary – has owned and operated all the track.

Yes, private franchise operators run the trains. But the conditions for how trains are run are issued by the government – along with substantial taxpayer subsidies.

The Department for Transport actually has more direct control over railways now than it did in the days of British Rail.

Which is why renationalising the railways is no solution to poor service. State-backed monopolies aren't the answer. They're the problem.

It's because Network Rail has no competition that it has no incentive to avoid delays. British Rail was much the same.

So the news that Network Rail's monopoly may soon be coming to an end sounds promising. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, is set to announce that Network Rail will have to share responsibility for maintenance with train operators – who have more of an interest in finishing repairs on time.

There may be other ways to boost rail competition too. Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority recommended that the government open up intercity routes to multiple train operators instead of contracting them to just one franchisee.

Of course, there is no silver bullet here. Consumer choice is difficult to create when infrastructure is limited and economies of scale are important. With any reform, the devil is in the detail.

But passengers will never get better service as long as train and track operators can get away with ignoring them. Breaking the monopolies is the right way forward.

02 DEC 2016

Ending free movement is non-negotiable

Immigration from the EU hit record levels this year, according to the latest figures. The majority of the British people made clear in the referendum they want immigration brought under control. Ministers and MPs now need to make that happen.

In June, we voted to take back control. That entails an end to the free movement of people. From now on, our parliament and our government must control our borders. We should be able to decide how many enter and on what grounds – and to modify criteria as circumstances change. Anything else would be a surrender of sovereignty.

Most voters want immigration reduced. David Cameron was elected on the promise to cut it to the tens of thousands. Brexit will allow the government to fulfil that manifesto pledge on EU immigration – though it must also do likewise for non-EU immigration, which it already has the power to control.

But controlled immigration doesn't mean zero immigration. We should attract talented people who add significant value to our economy.

That's not the system we have at the moment. Unskilled immigrants from the EU get priority over skilled immigrants from non-EU countries. People are judged based on nationality, not merit. That's not just bad for Britain. It's patently unfair.

The latest immigration figures should be a wake-up call to the Remain rearguard in Parliament. The issues that motivated people to vote Leave won't just go away. If control over our laws and our borders is not restored, the majority of voters – Lib Dem by-election success notwithstanding – will react accordingly. Remember, seven out of ten Labour constituencies voted Leave.

There is an alternative to obstructionism. Brexit enables us to rethink whole swathes of policy areas – from immigration, to fishing, to energy. We have the opportunity to build a broad, new post-Brexit consensus.

Those Remainers who accept the people's mandate will play a constructive role in shaping Britain's post-Brexit future. Those who reject it will ultimately be ousted by the electorate. Choose wisely.

01 DEC 2016

How to fix Britain's broken banks

Three of Britain's biggest banks failed the Bank of England's latest stress tests. Despite billions in bailouts, interest rate cuts, and new regulations, our banks still aren't any more secure. Doesn't that suggest governments got their response to the financial crisis wrong?

This year's stress test was meant to mimic the economic conditions of the financial crisis. So it's ominous that RBS, Barclays, and Standard Chartered all failed. None would have sufficient capital to withstand another shock.

That's an indictment of the response to the financial crisis.

We were assured that there was no alternative to bailing out the banks, because they were too big to fail – notwithstanding the cost to taxpayers, who still own a majority stake in RBS.

We were told ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing was essential to keep banks liquid – in spite of the dire consequences for savers.

But we were promised that new regulations would make sure that banks were much better capitalised, so they wouldn't have to be bailed out at our expense again.

In reality, though, all governments, central banks, and regulators did was to reward banks for failure – and repeat the same mistakes that caused the crisis.

They allowed banks to privatise profits, while socialising losses. They made credit too cheap, incentivising banks to issue too many high-risk loans all over again. They never significantly raised capital requirements.

The precarious state of Britain's banks today comes as no surprise to UKIP in parliament. Last year, we published a paper warning that banks' capital ratios were far too low, while the Bank of England's stress tests were far too weak. In fact, the only surprise is that the test seems to have been toughened up.

Our paper recommended that banks need much higher leverage ratios: not 3%, as mandated by Basel III, but 15%. Interest rates also gradually need to rise.

But to make the financial sector secure in the long-term, we have to go further still.

The only way to stop bank failures is to rein in the excesses of fractional reserve banking. To do that, we need a legal separation between deposit accounts and loan accounts – as I wrote in my pamphlet After Osbrown. Banks should no longer be able to lend on deposits multiple times over as a matter of course.

The banking crisis wasn't a failure of capitalism. It was a failure of government. Around the world, governments incentivised banks to take reckless risks by protecting them from the consequences of their own decisions. To fix the financial system, that's what needs to change.

30 NOV 2016

Defence procurement needs competition - not industrial strategy

The Royal Navy today has only 19 frigates and destroyers. That's too few for comfort. Sir John Parker's report on shipbuilding critiques some of what's gone wrong with defence procurement. But it doesn't go far enough.

Too much taxpayers' money is consumed in wasteful defence procurement. Major projects routinely arrive years late and billions over budget – if they arrive at all.

The comparison to private-sector procurement is staggering. Parker notes that the Type 23 Frigate took 17 years to deliver, whereas 'mega-cruise' ships, which are 9 times the size, are delivered in 5.

The delay makes a huge difference. There's not much point in a ground-breaking, complex system if it is obsolete by the time it is delivered.

Our warships need to be built more quickly. So why aren't they?

Partly because government is often held to ransom by a monopoly contractor. Parker points out that BAE Systems' shipyards are "the only UK shipyards currently used to design build and commission a sophisticated naval warship" – thanks to "an exclusive position held under the Terms of Business Agreement between BAES and MOD."

In this context, Parker's recommendation that the construction of the Type 31 Frigate be opened up to a wider range of companies and shipyards in the UK is welcome. As is his plan for the Type 31 to be simpler, so that it can enter service urgently.

I'm less convinced by his belief that an industrial strategy which gives British shipyards a monopoly over warship construction can make them more, rather than less, competitive.

It's important to sustain British shipbuilding. But the way to achieve that is to free our shipyards to compete internationally – not to give them preferential treatment.

The reason BAE's shipyards in Scotland are less efficient than commercial shipyards elsewhere in the UK is because the government gives them guaranteed custom, whether or not they meet deadlines and costs.

By contrast, Britain's commercial shipyards – Parker acknowledges – display "no single customer dependency culture" because they are "sustained by multiple income streams".

What makes manufacturers competitive is open competition. If we want efficient procurement, shouldn't that be the model to follow?

The primary purpose of defence procurement is to keep this country safe. At the moment, it's failing. The corporate contractor cartel needs to be broken. Read our paper – Rethinking Defence Procurement – to find out how.

29 NOV 2016

UKIP's future is bright

Congratulations to Paul Nuttall! UKIP is beginning a new era – and we have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Our greatest victories are yet to come.

In his inaugural speech as leader yesterday, Paul set out his vision for UKIP to replace Labour as the party of the working-classes. It's ambitious – but it's also genuinely achievable.

Over the last year, pundits have pored over the splits in the Parliamentary Labour party between pro-Brussels Blairites and pro-Castro Corbynistas: in other words, between South Islington and North Islington.

But that's an irrelevant sideshow. Labour's real fracture is between Labour elites and traditional Labour voters. Post-Brexit, that electoral coalition could be broken beyond repair.

Seven in ten Labour constituencies voted to Leave. Yet all but ten Labour MPs declared for Remain. Indeed, many still seem to be campaigning for it.

Nor is it just on the EU that Labour MPs are out of touch. From defence, to justice, to foreign policy, to education, the position of Labour MPs is diametrically opposed to that of many traditional Labour voters.

But there's more to it than that. The truth is top-down, centrally planned government doesn't sell anymore.

In the digitised world, people are citizen-consumers. The Internet gives us more choice than ever before.

Yet, when it comes to government, Labour still expects people to take what they're given by Whitehall mandarins. They think the bureaucracy knows best. Voters know otherwise.

To beat Labour, UKIP needs to offer Labour voters choice and control. Autonomy over healthcare – so funding follows patients, not the other way round. Autonomy over education – ending the constraints of catchment areas, so kids' prospects are no longer determined by the price of their parents' house.

The lesson of the referendum is that taking back control is a winning proposition. If we offer control on the domestic front too, we can break the political cartel. Our future is brighter than ever. As Paul Nuttall put it, "there's no need for pessimism in UKIP".

28 NOV 2016

Castro symbolises socialism's moral bankruptcy

Fidel Castro systematically tyrannised and impoverished the people of Cuba for fifty years. Jeremy Corbyn has eulogised him as a "champion of social justice". Welcome to the moral bankruptcy of the left.

Castro wasn't just any autocrat. He was one of the nastiest exponents of Communist despotism.

He executed political opponents by the thousands. He sent men to forced labour camps to "correct" homosexuality or "effeminate mannerisms". He maintained power through military oppression, mob violence, and a network of neighbourhood informants.

His economic planning – which, at one point, involved co-opting people from every walk of life to work the sugar fields – reduced the people to penury. Some three million Cuban citizens fled the country for the chance of a better life elsewhere.

Both politically and financially, Castro turned Cuba into a Soviet dependency. He was instrumental in the Cuban missile crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

But Western left-wingers – and not just longstanding Communist apologists like Corbyn – have turned a blind eye to these inconvenient facts.

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, praised a "legendary revolutionary". France's President, Francois Hollande, paid homage to a man who represented "the pride of rejecting external domination". President Obama – the leader of the free world – tritely hailed "the enormous impact of this singular figure".

Their selective recall has been topped only by their media echo chambers: the New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC.

The left's indifference to the reality of Castro's Communism is reprehensible in itself. But what makes it outrageous is the fact that these people have appointed themselves the guardians of human decency and the rights of the vulnerable.

The reason the left won't condemn Castro is because they agree with him. Like him, they propagate the lie that the world's evils can be blamed on capitalism, and the solution is socialism.

The truth is the precise opposite. No system of government has ever lifted so many people out of poverty so quickly as free-market capitalism. And none has subjected so many to poverty as socialism. The socialist lie has cost the lives of millions of people.

Leading leftists have used a veil of faux compassion to perpetuate mass suffering for the last century. They're still doing it today. It's high time to expose them for the frauds they are.

25 NOV 2016

Blairism is bust - and even Blair can't save it

Nicolas Sarkozy has abandoned his hopes of a comeback, and given up on politics for good. So, it seems, has Hillary Clinton. Shame Tony Blair didn't get the memo.

By no popular acclaim, Tony Blair has decided to return to British politics, aiming to overturn the result of the referendum. It's a sign of how detached from reality he has become that he seriously believes he could succeed.

In the first general election I fought as a candidate, back in 2001, I stood against Tony Blair in Sedgefield. There's no doubt that he was an impressive campaigner. I saw that first-hand.

But times have changed. Just as his landslide victory in 1997 marked a popular rejection of almost twenty years of Tory government, so Brexit is a public revolt against two decades of Blairism.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were blasé about European integration. With the Lisbon Treaty, Brown railroaded through the EU Constitution Blair had signed – the constitution which had been expressly rejected in referenda in Holland and France – without ever asking for the people's consent.

Blair didn't just ignore public concerns about immigration. He made immigration a taboo subject for debate. Perhaps he genuinely thought there was a consensus behind multiculturalism. But all he actually achieved was to stoke public resentment.

He might have left Number 10 in 2007, but Tony Blair effectively defined government for the next nine years. David Cameron proudly called himself the heir to Blair – and so he proved to be. On European integration, as on so much else, he delivered continuity.

But now the British people have rejected that elite consensus. Blairism is over. Thankfully, not even the return of the man himself can take us back to 1997.

It is revealing, though, that he thinks he can.

Though some ex-holders of the office seem to forget it, prime ministers aren't monarchs. They don't have a God-given right to rule forever. The people are their boss, not the other way round.

When I lost to Tony Blair in 2001, I accepted the result. Not because I thought his agenda was better than mine. But because I recognised it was for the electorate to choose.

Now the voters have chosen again. Brexit is going to happen, whether establishment grandees like it or not. They might as well get used to it.

24 NOV 2016

The political establishment can't dodge the blame for debt

Successive pro-EU Chancellors have more than trebled the national debt in ten years. Yet yesterday the pro-EU Westminster bubble tried to blame rising debt on Brexit. This is why people don't trust politicians or pundits.

As the graph illustrates, our national debt has risen from under £500 billion in 2005 to over £1.6 trillion today. That's even without including nationalised banks, or unfunded pension liabilities.

Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats have all been in government over the last ten years. They have all had ministers at the Treasury. They are all directly accountable for the mess our public finances are in.

But instead of accepting responsibility, they prefer to blame the British people. What's pushing up debt is Brexit, they tell us. We're supposed to believe that a problem that has been growing since 2005 is somehow the fault of the way the majority voted in 2016.

Worse still, this pathetic excuse for an argument is trotted out uncritically by equally pro-EU pundits. These are the people who are supposed to scrutinise our politics. Yet all they provide is an echo chamber for the political establishment.

What's truly bizarre is that politicians and pundits actually expect people to be credulous enough to buy this rubbish. No wonder Donald Trump won.

Debt isn't increasing because of Brexit. It's increasing because government spends too much money. Because successive Chancellors haven't kept their promises, or even followed their own fiscal rules.

If we don't want to impoverish the next generation, government needs to shrink. No amount of hypocritical whining from shameless Remainers can change that.

23 NOV 2016

Osborne - not Brexit - is to blame for borrowing

I'm interested to hear Philip Hammond's first Autumn Statement today. Hopefully, unlike his predecessor, he'll spare us political gimmicks and giveaways. But I'm curious to see if he will turn out to be any more fiscally responsible.

Even though the economic news since the referendum has defied Project Fear, pundits tell us that the Chancellor is set to warn of higher gilt yields, lower growth, and even more borrowing – and that Brexit is to blame.

Plus ça change.

Given how often Treasury and OBR forecasts have proved wildly inaccurate, you'd have to be pretty foolhardy to put much faith in them.

But if the public finances are in a perilous state, that didn't suddenly happen this year. It's down to the decisions made by the last Chancellor.

Prior to the 2010 election, George Osborne promised to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015. It didn't happen. Instead, during his tenure, he doubled the national debt. He transpired to be no different from Gordon Brown.

If Britain is unprepared for rising gilt yields, it's because we're still borrowing when we're meant to be running a surplus.

Relying on borrowing at record low rates forever was always a high risk strategy. Government bonds worldwide are a bubble - and all bubbles eventually burst.

This one needs to burst, too. Record-low bond yields – the result of record-low interest rates – have created a huge black hole in pension funds. It's a crisis, which can't be solved unless rates rise.

But, from the perspective of the public finances, we may once again be about to discover the costs of what George Osborne would call failing to fix the roof while the sun is shining.

22 NOV 2016

Why the left is finished

I was quite struck by Will Hutton's review of all the Brexit books in the Guardian. Not because of what it says about the inside story of the referendum campaign – I got to see most of that first hand. But because of what it reveals about the sorry state of the left.

Ex-Observer editor Hutton has been an influential figure in the Labour party for decades. He was chief executive of the Work Foundation – whose mission is to "transform people's experience of work".

So it's striking just how much contempt his review displays for the millions of working-class Brits who voted to Leave.

At every point in the review, Hutton seeks to diminish and belittle those he disagrees with.

The Leave coalition, he writes, is "a malign alliance of obsessed constitutional nationalists and far right-wing populists."

Remain's failure to make its case for the EU was, he modestly claims, "what happens to countries in irreversible decline".

Brexit, he mourns, is "going to transform the country into an unpleasant, illiberal and inward-looking island."

Hutton sees the whole campaign through the prism of people with ulterior motives putting party before country. Nowhere does he acknowledge that there were people – on both sides of the debate – who passionately believed in what they campaigning for.

This is the reason the British left is in existential decline. Its leaders are so convinced of their own moral superiority, they have no sense of self-awareness.

The majority of the electorate voted Leave. Labour's base is abandoning the party. But its representatives never seem to ask why. Every loss for the left is seen as a dastardly manipulation of people who can't be trusted to know their own best interests.

It never seems to occur to these savants that maybe voters can think for themselves. Or that, just perhaps, they're fed up with sneering condescension from those who claim to represent them.

"The liberal centre, derided as the establishment, could not muster the matching energy, conviction, unity and passion to fight back", Hutton concludes. "Nor, as matters stand, is there any sign it has learned its lesson."

Well, quite.

21 NOV 2016

All MPs should back Steve Baker's Brexit letter

Along with around 60 other MPs, I'm backing Steve Baker MP's letter to the PM to ensure Britain leaves the European single market and the customs union. We're standing up for what the majority voted for. Any MP who respects the referendum result should follow suit.

Brexit entails being outside the single market and the customs union. Every Leave campaigner made that clear during the campaign. It's the only way to take back control over our laws, our trade policy, and our borders.

So the claim that voters didn't know that's what Brexit looks like is demonstrably false. Those MPs and peers still trying to block Brexit on that pretext do so in the full knowledge that they are putting their personal wishes ahead of those of the majority of the electorate.

Equally false is the idea that leaving the single market and the customs union means losing trade with the EU. Britain doesn't need to be a member of the single market to have access to the single market. Countries around the world have bespoke, bilateral trade deals with the EU. We will too.

Leaving the customs union frees us to make trade deals with other countries. Many foreign leaders are queueing up to make those agreements – not least, reportedly, the new, pro-Brexit President-elect of the United States.

The important question now is what kind of trade deals we will make. Will they be overregulating, single-market-style agreements that set uniform standards in the interests of Big Business? Or will they be genuine free-trade deals, based on mutual standards recognition?

The reactionary obstructionism of Remainers fighting a rearguard action is a pointless distraction from what we should be discussing. All MPs now have the chance to shape the UK's future as a sovereign, independent country.

Let's implement what the people voted for, and get on with something constructive.

18 NOV 2016

Obama represents the problem with political hype

Barack Obama is on his farewell tour of Europe. David Cameron has long since departed Downing Street. Both were in office for the best part of a decade. What did they achieve?

Obama was supposed to mark a clean break with the Bush years. The symbol of hope and change that would unite not just America but the entire world.

Instead he leaves behind a long trail of broken promises.

He pledged to close Guantanamo Bay; it's still there. He said he'd reset relations with Russia; yet they're worse than they have been since the Cold War. He argued that being conciliatory would pacify America's enemies; but, from ISIS, to Iran, to North Korea, they seem to be even more emboldened.

As for bringing America together, between the Ferguson riots, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the election of Donald Trump, it's hard to see how he could have left the country more divided.

David Cameron, too, promised something new. A different, modern, radical kind of Conservatism – prepared to hug hoodies and huskies alike.

But, ultimately, what was Cameronism? Did we ever find out?

His big promise was to sort out the public finances; instead, with George Osborne's help, he doubled the national debt. The "Big Society" turned out to be no more than a slogan. He seemed comfortable in power, but never looked particularly determined to do anything with it.

New, radical Conservatism? With his patrician instincts, David Cameron was more reminiscent of Harold Macmillan than Margaret Thatcher.

In falling short of their promises, neither Cameron nor Obama are remarkable. Very few individual leaders significantly change their countries for the better. Yet, every election cycle, a new supposed saviour is overhyped.

Shouldn't we have learned to temper our expectations by now?

The limited legacies of so many of those who have attained high office ought to remind all of us in politics that we are just passing through. But there's a lesson for electorates too: the more hyped the candidate, the more disappointed we often end up.

17 NOV 2016

Free trade means mutual standards recognition

Brexit entails leaving the single market and the customs union. It's a Remainer fantasy to think otherwise. The real question is what I asked the PM yesterday: will our new trade deals be based on suffocating single-market-style regulation, or mutual standards recognition?

Free trade is a good thing. It has made this country better off for centuries. Specialising in the fields in which we have the greatest competitive advantage, then trading our products for other goods from abroad, makes us much more prosperous than we would otherwise be.

Self-sufficiency always makes countries poorer. Just ask the North Koreans.

But the kind of trade deals we have today – the kind attacked by Donald Trump on the campaign trail – aren't really free-trade deals at all. They don't free trade. They restrict it.

The single market, TTIP and TPP are all permissions-based agreements. Every party has to agree to a set of specific production standards for every sector, which they all have to abide by. Which means manufacturers can only make what the rules allow. Product design is determined by official specifications, instead of consumer demand.

Permissions-based trade is the reason there is so little entrepreneurship in the single market. Endless regulation stifles innovation - not just by raising business costs, but by limiting what can legally be produced.

But trade deals don't have to be like this. You don't need to be in a regulatory union with another country to be able to trade with it.

All you really need is mutual standards recognition. That just means whatever can legally be bought and sold in one country can be legally bought and sold in the other.

Mutual recognition is not a revolutionary concept. Many of our biggest trading partners are developed economies, with similar regulatory systems to ours. It's not as if we can't trust their standards.

The only reason for complicated, drawn-out, permissions-based deals is to make work for bureaucrats. They often do more harm than good. If the government is serious about free trade post-Brexit, mutual standards recognition is the way to go.

16 NOV 2016

Few do post-truth politics better than the Beeb

"There is no plan for Brexit, leaked memo says", declared the BBC yesterday, following the front page story in the Times. Both somehow failed to mention that the memo was written by consultants with no access to Number 10. Post-truth politics, anyone?

The real story was that Deloitte issued a report saying the government needed 30,000 more people for the Brexit negotiations – many of whom could no doubt have been recruited via outsourcing to Deloitte. It wasn't news – it was a sales pitch.

Of course, it also isn't news that pro-Remain media can't tell the difference between analysis and lobbying. During the referendum campaign, they consistently presented Project Fear propaganda as fact – without ever mentioning that many of the prophets of doom had a vested interest in the Brussels gravy train.

But this particular piece of shoddy journalism does raise a more fundamental question of trust – especially in the BBC.

Since the US election, the BBC has been talking about the role of 'fake news' stories on Facebook in building support for Donald Trump. Perhaps it should be looking closer to home?

Admittedly, there is a big difference between the BBC and Facebook. Unlike the BBC, Facebook isn't bound by a charter that mandates it to keep content politically impartial – or funded by a tax on television sets.

There's a reason established outfits are losing market share to new media on the web. It's not because the new outlets are necessarily seen as any more reliable. It's that readers are sick of supposedly respectable sources like the BBC packaging their own prejudices as news.

The Beeb probably thought it was skewering the government yesterday. Instead, it has only damaged its own reputation. If BBC bosses want to save it from obsolescence, maybe they should stop peddling propaganda, and stick to their remit.

15 NOV 2016

Brexit can boost maritime trade - and cut queues at Dover

Leaving the European customs union, writes Rishi Sunak MP, will allow Britain to create "free ports" – commerce-boosting free-trade zones outside the UK's customs territory. It's not the only way that Brexit will boost Britain's maritime trade.

Free-trade zones are common outside the EU. They allow goods to enter and leave without paying tariffs for the privilege. Turning some of our ports into free-trade zones could boost business considerably. New research, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, suggests that could create tens of thousands of jobs.

But Britain's ports will benefit from leaving the customs union in other ways too. Last year, UKIP in Parliament published a paper on the logistical costs of EU trade barriers. We found that the Common External Tariff, which gives EU imports an artificial advantage over those from the rest of the world, doesn't just impact on our external trade patterns, but congestion on our roads as well.

Here's why. Because EU-standard pallets are slightly too big for international standard containers, our imports from the EU come in lorries rather than in containers that can be transferred to rail. Mostly, these lorries arrive and leave via Dover or the Channel Tunnel. That creates huge pressure on motorways in Kent, resulting in the delays and costs of Operation Stack.

Leaving the customs union will help relieve that pressure. Without protectionist EU tariffs, we will trade proportionally more from the rest of the world, and less from the EU. Because the equivalent imports from non-EU countries are predominantly containerised, they can arrive at a wider variety of ports around the country – and be transported by rail, rather than road.

Britain's ports will also gain from leaving the single market, by avoiding a costly new law. The Port Services Regulation would have forced Britain's ports to open up to internal services competition, wrecking their economies of scale.

I know, from having represented Harwich, how vital maritime trade is not just to the British economy at large, but to local economies and local communities. Quitting the customs union and the single market will allow our ports to flourish. Remainers take note.

14 NOV 2016

How did "progressives" become so reactionary?

Having taken a break to be shocked at the US election result, Remainer MPs are getting back to using process to block Article 50. It's a mystery why voters are so angry, isn't it?

Some left-wingers around the world seem to be think that, with a little obstructionism, everything can go on as before. That's delusional. If yesterday's models are being rejected by the people, it's because they no longer work.

Much of what today's elites think of as so normal as to be unchangeable are really late twentieth-century innovations. The EU is an unprecedented political experiment. Multiculturalism is an unprecedented social experiment. Global fiat money is an unprecedented economic experiment.

It's not unreasonable for people to judge these innovations against their results. In fact, that's what any reasonable person should do.

And the results don't match the goals.

The European project was meant to deliver peace and harmony across a continent. Instead, it is expanding the economic divide between north and south, and fuelling political discontent.

Multiculturalism has evolved into safe spaces and identity politics that, far from ending stigmatisation based on background, has established an inverse moral hierarchy of race, religion, gender and sexuality.

Fiat money was meant to make the monetary system more secure. Instead, it has facilitated financial crises, and transferred wealth from average earners to the super-rich.

Systems don't survive simply because they are articles of faith among the people who benefit from them most. They were uncertain novelties a few decades ago. Their own deficiencies have made them uncertain again.

This year's political rebellions have challenged some, but not all, of these presumed certainties. They may be the beginning of new experiments for the twenty-first century.

But that's no reason to fear. The norm is change, not stasis. Not all change is progress. But trying to keep a failed system afloat is often worse than allowing it to fail.

Today's self-described progressives are really reactionaries. They might consider the opportunities of change – and the risks of obstructing the correction.

11 NOV 2016

Armistice Day should remind us how fortunate we are

The reaction in some quarters to the US election makes it sound like we're facing the apocalypse. Today should put that melodramatic response into perspective. Remembering those who fought and died in the First World War should remind us how lucky we are to be living today.

Over 900,000 soldiers died for the British Empire during the First World War. Over 8 million lives were lost on all sides. Including the wounded and missing, the total casualties came to over 37 million.

A hundred years ago this month, the Battle of the Somme ended. In the space of 4 months, 1.5 million had been killed. British forces suffered nearly sixty thousand casualties on July 1st, the first day of the battle, alone.

Of course, war and suffering aren't a thing of the past. But the world is becoming less violent. The peace that most of us in the West have enjoyed since the Second World War, in spite of the Cold War, is unprecedented.

In fact, notwithstanding the atrocities of Nazism and Communism, the twentieth century was comparatively less bloody than those that preceded it. As Steven Pinker has written in The Better Angels of Our Nature, before the modern era, conflict was often even more deadly.

It's easy to be pessimistic about the future. Maybe it reflects a tendency to romanticise childhood, and fear old age and death. But the fact is the world today is better in almost every way than it was a century ago, and it is likely to get better still.

This year, in both Britain and the United States, some people have reacted to votes that didn't go their way by expressing shame in their own countries. Today we remember that, a hundred years ago, millions of young men had to give their lives in the service of those countries. Lest we forget how much we have to be grateful for.

10 NOV 2016

We can learn from the failure of opinion polls

For centuries, ancient Greeks trekked to the Oracle of Delphi in an effort to find out the future. Pretty silly, right? If only they'd had professional polling companies to consult instead.

Over the last two years, pollsters have been catastrophically wrong more often than not. They didn't just call the presidential election wrong. They got Brexit wrong too. And many of the presidential primaries. And our general election last year. And Israel's general election a few months earlier. And the US midterm elections, in 2014.

Yet, despite their track record of failure, pollsters are still treated as reliable forecasters. Why?

Perhaps because, a few years ago, it seemed like polls were getting better and better. UK pollsters got the 2010 election spot on. US statistician Nate Silver was hailed as a genius for forecasting the right result in every state in the 2012 presidential election.

But opinion polling isn't a hard science. Forecasts are shaped not just by the raw data but also by weighting adjustments for different groups. The methodology rests on assumptions that reflect what happened last time around – which is no guide, necessarily, to what will happen the next time.

In framing their assumptions, one thing pollsters seem to have repeatedly failed to account for is shy voters on the right. In the general election, the referendum, and the presidential election, polls underestimated their numbers, apparently because they were reluctant to disclose their voting intentions publicly.

Why is that? Could it be because Leave and Trump voters were dismissed as nasty, stupid and racist by establishment elites? By stigmatising large portions of the electorate, elites may have unwittingly created the statistical illusion of their own strength.

The anger at both Trump and Brexit derives, in part, from epistemic hubris. People were shocked to realise that the stats weren't as reliable as they had supposed. That they didn't know their own countries nearly as well as they had thought.

But the best way to react to this realisation isn't rage, but humility. Recognising the limits of our knowledge ought to encourage us to investigate more.

Assuming total knowledge is part of what's polarising Western societies. It's the complacency that encourages people never to leave the Facebook filter bubble, or meet anyone who thinks – or votes – differently.

Understanding – rather than just railing against – seismic political shifts requires recognising that people can't easily be reduced to statistics in a survey.

09 NOV 2016

How Trump redrew the map

In his first ever election, Donald Trump has won the most powerful office in the world. No one can deny that it's an astonishing achievement. Pundits and pollsters are perplexed as to how he did it. Might part of the answer be that he borrowed from his opponents' playbook?

The election result may have been a surprise, but the reaction from left-wing commentators is predictably melodramatic. This morning, Simon Schama took to the airwaves to brand Trump a 1930s-style fascist. Anne Applebaum added that his election marks the end of the West.

But, while Trump's language may be extreme, much of his policy platform is a lot more "centrist" than that of his Republican rivals. Indeed, in many ways, he sounds more like a Democrat than a Republican.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect talked about new infrastructure spending, creating new jobs. That idea is reminiscent of the 1930s – in America, that is. It harks back to FDR's New Deal.

Indeed, throughout the campaign, Trump has drawn policies from both left and right. He has taken protectionism from the Democrats, and a tougher stance on immigration from the Republicans. He has attacked political correctness, but, at the same time, ignored much of the socially conservative culture war. He has pledged to cut taxes, but not to cut welfare.

That might explain how Trump has managed to do what no other Republican presidential candidate has done since the 1980s: run the table across the so-called Rust Belt states.

The danger is that, having promised change, Trump's presidency just brings more of the same. Borrowing to fund infrastructure and entitlements will come at a huge long-term cost. Statist stimulus doesn't usually produce the kind of sustainable economic boom Trump has promised. At least, it didn't for FDR. Or, for that matter, Obama.

But the irony is that, after years of gridlock between the President and Congress, it could be the man Democrats despise more than any other who enables bipartisanship. With Trump in the White House, Republicans in Congress may end up backing a big-government agenda similar to the one they have trenchantly opposed for much of the last eight years.

That may not solve America's problems. But it could mean Democrats end up getting what they want. So, not for the first time, maybe the leftist mass hysteria is overkill.

08 NOV 2016

The president America needs is Thomas Jefferson

Today's US presidential election concludes a campaign that has lasted for 18 months, and cost some $4 billion. And all for a binary choice between the most despised candidates in recent history. No wonder people are so desperate for change.

One of the remarkable things about this election isn't how different the candidates are, but how much they actually agree. The contrast in tone masks a surprising similarity of substance.

For the first time in decades, the candidates of both major parties support protectionism in trade. Both back leaving welfare spending unchecked – in spite of unfunded liabilities that, by some estimates, stretch into the hundreds of trillions of dollars. Both advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy that may end the era of Pax Americana.

But the real issue is that the presidency is such a big prize at all.

When the United States was founded, the federal government's executive branch employed fewer than a hundred civil servants. Today, it employs nearly 3 million.

The reason billions are now spent on the presidential election is because the winner gets control of this vast bureaucratic empire – and the astonishing array of powers to direct people's lives that come with it.

It's no coincidence that, as government grows, the gulf between establishment elites and the people across the West is expanding too. Increasingly, the burning inequality today is one characterised less by wealth than by power. It's the gap between the government and the governed.

The growth of government threatens free society itself. As one of the United States' Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, wrote 200 years ago:

"What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalising and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate."

Perhaps the question we should be asking today isn't: who should be in charge of the bureaucratic leviathan? But, why are we ruled by it at all?

07 NOV 2016

Lib Dem peers should remember Asquith

Nick Clegg thinks Lib Dem peers can extort concessions from the government over Brexit. It's a reversal of what Tory peers tried to do to a Liberal Prime Minister a century ago. They should remember who came off worst.

In 1909, when the House of Lords broke with convention not to interfere with a money bill and vetoed Chancellor Lloyd George's so-called People's Budget, it might have seemed like a show of strength. In reality, it was the opposite.

The consequence was two general elections in 1910. The Prime Minister, Asquith, fought the first on the budget. The Liberals lost seats, but still came out ahead. Faced with their new mandate, the Lords backed down and passed the budget they had blocked the year before.

But the battle didn't stop there. Asquith fought a second general election on reforming the House of Lords. Again he received a mandate. Again the Lords tried to block the legislation. Yet when Asquith threatened to flood the upper House with Liberal peers, backed by the King, the Lords relented.

The result was the Parliament Act 1911. The House of Lords lost its absolute power of veto. What had begun as a show of strength ended in a humiliating surrender.

Asquith's election address in the second 1910 election especially resonates today: "Are the people, through their freely chosen representatives, to have control, not only over finance and administrative policy, but over the making of their law?"

A century on, Clegg seems to believe it is legitimate for the people's representatives – both elected and unelected – to veto a policy that the majority of the people chose at the ballot box. A policy, moreover, that seeks to restore the people's control over their laws.

It's a mark of the Liberals' decline that their position today could have been articulated by a Tory peer a hundred years ago. Might that elitist shift have something to do with their failure to win a general election since 1910?

The Tory peers in 1909 didn't know how their campaign would turn out. With the gift of hindsight, Lib Dem peers today ought to be wiser.

Fight the people at your peril.

04 NOV 2016

Brexit is going to happen come what may

The High Court's ruling on Article 50 has excited some denialist Remainers. Its impact shouldn't be overstated. Brexit is going to happen – even if it takes another general election.

All this decision proves is that lawyers and financiers can be relied upon to be obstructive. But we knew that already. It won't change the fact we are leaving the EU. Indeed, it won't especially change the process.

Whether or not Parliament votes on Article 50, it was always going to have a vote on the Brexit process. MPs will need to pass the Great Repeal Bill to void the 1972 European Communities Act.

Some Remainers – both in Parliament and outside – may have convinced themselves they can use these votes to veto Brexit. But that's a fantasy.

The Brexit majority is already bigger than it was at referendum day. According to a recent poll, a fifth of Remain voters have accepted the result and want the government to get on with implementing it. Among Conservative Remain voters, that figure rises to 35%.

So if MPs really ally with lawyers and elites to try and block Brexit, what do they expect to happen? If this Parliament won't accept what the government has a mandate to do, the public will elect one that will.

Indeed, if this kind of petulance does affect Brexit, it won't be in the way the denialists imagine.

Ever since the referendum, I've put all my effort into promoting a liberal, outward-looking Brexit, based on free trade and a global outlook. By behaving this way, Remain elites are making that more difficult to achieve.

I receive a lot of angry e-mails from my constituents about these naked attempts to reverse the referendum result. The more obstructionism we see, the harder it is to reassure them that their votes won't subverted.

If the Prime Minister has to call an election on Article 50, so be it. Given that she has an 18 point lead in the polls, I doubt she's quaking at the prospect. But obstructionist Remainers should think very carefully about what that election will be like.

03 NOV 2016

Brexit will curb judicial activism

The High Court will rule today on whether the government can trigger Article 50 unilaterally. The prospect of judges subverting the will of the people is appalling. But it's also a reminder of why it was so important to vote Leave.

The petitioners for Parliament to vote on Article 50 claim it would be undemocratic to do otherwise. That's a disgraceful subterfuge.

Evidently, their aim is not for Parliament merely to rubber-stamp Article 50. What they want isn't a vote, but a veto. They seriously believe it would be legitimate for MPs to block Brexit, and for judges to collude in allowing them to do so.

Judicial activism – whereby judges increasingly make the law – is fundamentally anti-democratic. Fortunately, Brexit will constrain it.

Prior to joining the European Common Market, it was impossible for a court to strike down an Act of Parliament. When it came to lawmaking, the elected legislature was supreme.

That changed when we joined. The supremacy of EU law over UK law entails the ability of the European Court of Justice but also British courts to annul an Act of Parliament in the event of a conflict with European law.

Taking back control is not just about restoring powers ceded to the European Parliament, Council, and Commission. It's also about limiting the powers of unelected judges to shape our laws.

Brexit can't prevent our own elites from trying to impose an outcome against the people's wishes. That's an ongoing battle. But it will, at least, overturn an anti-democratic mechanism built into our legislative system.

Just one reason why we can't leave soon enough.

02 NOV 2016

We need procurement reform to keep Britain safe

MI5 chief Andrew Parker's warning about the Russian threat to the West is a reminder that post-Cold War peace can't be taken for granted. It should also make us think about the cost of wasteful protectionist procurement.

British armed forces are smaller than they have been in decades. The army has fewer than 90,000 regular troops. The Royal Air Force, fewer than 250 combat aircraft. The Royal Navy, fewer than two dozen warships.

Britain also has serious capability gaps. We currently have no maritime patrol aircraft. We have no aircraft carriers. And, when the new carriers are delivered, we'll initially have no planes for them to carry.

Part of the reason our armed forces have shrunk is reduced funding. Despite being one of the government's primary responsibilities, defence always seems to be the first target for spending cuts.

But it's also about the way the budget is spent. Vast sums are spent on inefficient procurement. Contractors routinely deliver equipment that is years late, millions over budget, and often doesn't work.

It doesn't have to be this way. The problem is protectionism.

Rather than open up the procurement process to manufacturers around the world, the Ministry of Defence favours a cartel of companies with some operations in Britain. Guaranteed contracts for favoured firms means they have little incentive to deliver equipment on time and on budget.

The pretence is that this policy maintains industrial sovereignty. But since many of these firms have long since been merged into pan-European conglomerates, that's not the reality.

In truth, often only a fraction of equipment is actually manufactured in the UK. As UKIP PRU research revealed last year, so-called "buying British" actually requires the permission of multiple foreign governments – compromising operational sovereignty.

Protectionism comes at a serious cost. The more we spend on subsidies for inefficient contractors, the smaller our military will be.

Misusing the defence budget puts our national security at risk. To keep Britain safe, procurement needs to be reformed.

01 NOV 2016

Interest rates need to rise

Should Mark Carney stay on as governor of the Bank of England? It was wrong for him to politicise the office during the referendum campaign. But the more important question now is: will he stop peddling Project Fear, and raise the interest rates?

Britain has now had eight years of record-low interest rates and quantitative easing. These were supposed to be emergency measures, in the wake of the financial crisis. Instead, they have become the norm.

There always seems to be another lame excuse for ultra-loose monetary policy. We were assured it was necessary to ward off deflation – even though inflation has never stopped. We were told it was essential to stimulate growth – but when growth resumed, interest rates didn't return to normal.

Rather than raise the rates after eight years, Carney and co. have pushed them even lower. This time, the excuse was that Britain was about to suffer a post-referendum recession. But, instead, Britain currently has the fastest-growing economy of any developed country. Once again, the case for monetary easing doesn't hold water.

Keeping rates low isn't about playing on the safe size. Loose monetary policy is the big risk to the global economy.

By making it artificially cheap to borrow, central bankers are intensifying economic imbalances. They're driving up household borrowing while dropping pensions into the red. They're encouraging savers to pump capital into unsustainable asset bubbles rather than productive investment.

As UKIP's Economy Spokesman, Mark Reckless, has written in a new paper (and in City AM), loose monetary policy is one of the biggest factors behind stagnating productivity.

The real reason the Bank of England finds any excuse to keep rates low has nothing to do with what's best for Britain long-term. Loose monetary policy is just a short-term fix to prop up zombie banks and let the government get away with fiscal irresponsibility.

Cheap credit is like cholesterol clogging up the arteries of our economy. There's no justification for it to continue.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee meets again on Thursday. For Britain's long-term economic health, it needs to raise the rates.

31 OCT 2016

Brexit doesn't mean isolationism

Last week, the government announced an increase in Britain's NATO deployment to Eastern Europe. We'll be sending more troops to Estonia, and fighter jets to Romania. It's a timely reminder that, pace Project Fear, Brexit doesn't mean we stop cooperating with our European allies.

Remainers often tell us that the EU will punish us for voting Leave with a bad deal. Political posturing by European politicians is taken at face value and cited as evidence.

But that line of argument is specious. Not just because a spiteful, adolescent negotiation is in nobody's interests. But because our relationships with our neighbours in Europe go deeper than the EU.

Our defence cooperation – through NATO – predates the EU by decades. Our trading relationship goes back centuries before that.

Even tariff-free trade long predates the European customs union. It's over a century and half since Britain first signed a free-trade agreement with France.

British Europhiles still seem to look at our relationship with Europe in purely binary terms: either we're part of a European superstate, or we're cut off from the continent.

Yet Britain doesn't need to be in a political union either to trade with European countries, or to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.

There are more – and better – ways to play a constructive role in both Europe and the world. Taking back control gives us the freedom to do so.

28 OCT 2016

Experts, eh?

The latest GDP figures show our economy grew in the third quarter, rather than shrinking as the "experts" predicted. Pundits tell us growth happened "despite Brexit". Shouldn't that be despite the technocratic elite's unshakeable faith in the European project?

The data proves many "expert" predictions about the economic consequences of a Leave vote false. Supposedly authoritative sources, from the IMF to the OECD to the IFS, told us our economy would contract this year. Not after Brexit. Now.

Naturally, some are still trying to present their predictions as true. "Maybe the economy is growing now", they say. "But wait until Article 50 is triggered. Wait until we actually leave the EU."

Yet all their spin reveals is that the idea Brexit would cause an economic slowdown was never a scientific theory, to be tested against facts, but an article of faith.

In a sense, that's not surprising. Economic models reflect the assumptions on which they're based. The trouble is these assumptions are often absurd.

The 364 economists who incorrectly informed Margaret Thatcher that raising taxes to curb government borrowing would be economically disastrous based their warning on the dogma – derived from John Maynard Keynes – that government should borrow and spend during downturns.

As did the IMF three years ago when it wrongly warned that modest cuts to public spending would cause another recession.

Gordon Brown's ludicrous belief that he had "abolished boom and bust" – shared by central bankers and economists at the time – was based on the monetarist mantra that bureaucrats can manage the money supply better than the market.

The Treasury's forecast of a huge post-Brexit slump is based on the equally preposterous premise that the UK would fail to strike not just a free-trade agreement with the EU, but any new free-trade agreements with non-EU countries.

Throughout human history, the only thing that has consistently produced economic growth is economic freedom. The over-regulated single market restricts economic freedom. That's a big reason why those of us who recognise the importance of free markets and free trade campaigned to Leave.

For all that Keynes was wrong about economic theory, he was right when he wrote that "practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist".

Let's not be slaves to the live ones either.

27 OCT 2016

Is the Project Fear coalition collapsing?

The Guardian thinks it's a scoop that the PM, who openly campaigned to Remain, campaigned to Remain. It's less bothered that Jeremy Corbyn – one of Parliament's staunchest Eurosceptics – is now parroting Project Fear. Fortunately, he looks to be in a shrinking minority.

Guardianistas might not have noticed, but Theresa May isn't the only Remainer to change her tune on Brexit. The international bodies George Osborne wheeled out to bully us into voting Remain have quietly switched course too.

The IMF has said that, far from suffering the post-referendum slump it originally forecast, the UK is set to be the fastest-growing economy in the G7 this year.

The World Bank, which just a few months ago blamed Brexit for a global slowdown, today claims the UK is the best developed economy in which to do business.

Now the head of the World Trade Organisation, who had warned us it would be tortuous to renegotiate the terms of our membership of his association, says actually there needn't be any disruption after all.

The fact that these international bodies have swallowed their words so easily gives the lie to the notion that they are independent, objective observers.

In reality, as you might expect from organisations so often led by ex-politicians, they are political. Their "expert" wisdom should be treated with caution.

But it reveals something else too. Now that Brexit is a reality, not just a prospect, the game has changed. These bodies now have an incentive to be constructive, rather than obstructive.

Maybe the Remain rearguard in Fleet Street – not to mention Westminster – can learn something from their "expert" idols after all.

21 OCT 2016

Even Remainers know Brexit means leaving the single market

During the referendum campaign, there was one thing Remainers and Leavers agreed on: that a vote to Leave meant leaving the European single market. Who are Nick Clegg and co. kidding by denying that now?

One of the Remain rearguard's transparent attempts to subvert the referendum result is to make out that Leave voters didn't know what they were voting for. "17.4 million people might have voted for Brexit", they say. "But they didn't vote for a particular kind of Brexit".

"Brexit", they expect us to believe, is just an empty word. It can mean anything you want it to mean. What the majority thought it meant when they voted for it is an unfathomable mystery.

Except, as anyone who was hasn't erased their memory of the last nine months knows, it's not. Throughout the referendum campaign, Brexit campaigners consistently made it clear what a vote to Leave meant. In short:

  • No more EU budget contributions
  • No more freedom of movement
  • Full Parliamentary sovereignty
  • Control over our trade policy – by leaving European customs union
  • Access to – but not membership of – the European single market

The fact that a Leave vote entailed leaving the single market was always a key plank of the Leave campaign. But it wasn't just Brexiteers who said so – although we did, repeatedly. Remainers said so too. The evidence, conveniently compiled by the Daily Politics, is clear (H/T Guido Fawkes).

Voters weren't kept in the dark. On the contrary: the majority made a deliberate choice to quit the single market.


Not because they didn't know what it meant, but because they did. Because single-market membership entails accepting the four freedoms, including freedom of movement. Because – above all – it means Britain couldn't become a sovereign nation again.

Staying in the single market would mean many of Britain's laws would still be made by a foreign, supra-national government without the consent of the British people. The question as to who should make Britain's laws wasn't a side issue in the referendum campaign. It was absolutely central.

Apparently it's too much to expect that trying to impose an outcome that the majority of voters expressly rejected would be beneath the dignity of elected representatives. But they should know better than to think voters won't notice.

20 OCT 2016

Tony - not Hilary - Benn should be MPs' guide to Brexit

MPs have voted for Remainer Hilary Benn to chair the Brexit select committee, rather than Leaver Kate Hoey. The rest of the committee has been agreed behind closed doors by the big parties – so no space for me as UKIP's only MP. Do Parliamentarians really think this is how representative democracy is supposed to work?

Three months since the referendum, many MPs still haven't come to terms with the outcome. In fact, they're still trying to undermine it.

Despite 17.4 million people voting to take back control of our laws, our borders, and our trade policy, some MPs disingenuously claim that Brexit can mean staying inside the European single market and customs union. They think Parliament has the right to block Article 50.

Choosing Hilary Benn – by a margin of 330 votes to 209 – to chair the committee that will scrutinise the work of David Davis and his department is merely Parliament's latest attempt by to block Brexit.

For a brief period, it looked like the referendum might be a wake-up call to the self-serving cartel that dominates Westminster. Apparently not. MPs still seem to think they can get away with ignoring the people they are elected to represent.

This is a dangerous route to go down. The most cocooned of Westminster insiders may not have noticed, but respect for politicians is already at rock-bottom – with good reason. By setting themselves up in opposition to the Brexit majority, MPs risk doing serious damage to public faith in representative democracy. If that happens, what then?

Fans of Hilary Benn might be better advised to heed the words of his late father: "The Parliamentary democracy we have developed and established in Britain is based, not upon the sovereignty of Parliament, but upon the sovereignty of the People".

Tony Benn wrote those words in a letter to constituents forty years ago. They were part of his case against staying in the European common market.

Maybe forty years of common-market membership have made Parliament forget what it's for. Now that we're leaving, it's about time MPs remembered.

13 OCT 2016

Britain didn't vote against globalisation

"Brexit was a rejection of globalisation", glib pundits often tell us. It seems to have escaped their notice that quitting the EU customs union to trade freely with the world was a big plank of the Leave campaign. Britain is fast becoming one of the few countries in the world with broad public support for free trade – and we need to harness it.

Free trade and prosperity go hand in hand. The division of labour – enabling specialisation – is infinitely more efficient than self-sufficiency. As Smith and Ricardo realised over 200 years ago, doing what you're best at and exchanging your product for everything else you need is the way to get maximum return on your labour.

What works for individuals applies to countries too. We are wealthier as a nation by virtue of our businesses specialising in fields in which they have a comparative advantage, and trading their goods and services internationally, than we would be if we tried to produce everything we wanted at home.

Yet, around the world, free trade is facing a backlash. The Doha trade round collapsed. The corporatist fixes the EU calls trade deals keep stalling. And, for the first time in half a century, both the Republican and Democratic candidates for the presidency are running on protectionist platforms.

In this context, it's particularly welcome that Theresa May, along with the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, have made promoting free trade a priority.

But it's also important to rebut the idea that 17.4 million voted against it. Taking back control from an unelected, foreign government was never about raising barriers to trade.

You don't need to give up control over your laws or your borders to trade freely with people in other countries. Pundits may not be able to understand that, but the people do.

12 OCT 2016

'Industrial strategy' is the kiss of death to progress

George Osborne, Michael Heseltine, and Vince Cable returned yesterday to lecture the Business Select Committee on why politicians like them should impose an 'industrial strategy' on the country from Whitehall. Could there be a better illustration of why central economic planning is a bad idea?

Who forecast twenty years ago that Google, Facebook, or Amazon would now be among the biggest companies in the world? Certainly not politicians or officials.

All three are the result of disruptive innovation – what the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter called 'creative destruction'. They succeeded because they offered consumers something that superseded existing products on the market.

The process by which we become better off involves radical change. Few people see it coming – after all, most start-ups fail. But the driving force is always the same: consumer demand.

Which is why the idea of 'industrial strategy' – driven not by consumers but by ministers and mandarins – is absurd. Not just because government fails to spot future demand. But because it actively holds back progress, by artificially perpetuating the products of the present.

Take one of George's signature white elephants: Hinkley Point. Even leaving aside the eye-wateringly high strike price – double the market rate – the project rests on a very shaky assumption: that nuclear technology will be an efficient way to produce energy when the plant opens in some ten years' time. The long-term trend suggests solar power is the technology making big strides in efficiency, while nuclear is stagnating.

That's not to say government should subsidise solar instead. It shouldn't. Subsidy served to extinguish a company's incentive to make a product that can successfully compete on the market. (Solyndra in the US was perhaps a case in point.)

The point is that even if preferential treatment of particular sectors or businesses didn't create perverse incentives, it would still negatively distort the market. Instead of backing what will be big in twenty years, government tends to favour what's fashionable now. Rather than foster disruptive innovation, it entrenches the status quo.

Osborne praised Cameron and May for committing to industrial strategy, which, he said, "was not always in the Conservative lexicon". There's good reason for that. The last Tory PM to prioritise industrial strategy was Ted Heath – and look how that worked out.

When governments try to micromanage markets, progress and prosperity suffer. If that's what we're likely to get from the new government, there's all the more need for a libertarian alternative.

11 OCT 2016

Control must belong to the British people - not political elites

Parliament is a proxy for the will of the people. Taking back control from Brussels to Westminster is ultimately about restoring power to the British people. Those Remain MPs still trying to use Parliament to thwart the popular will by blocking Brexit have forgotten whom they work for.

The reason Article 50 doesn't require Parliamentary approval is very simple: the majority voted for it directly in the referendum. Why do we need the people's representatives to sanction something that the people have already approved?

The only possible purpose in holding a Commons vote on Article 50 would be to block it. The new Shadow Brexit Secretary may have disingenuously denied it at the despatch box, but it's clear recalcitrant Remainers aren't really asking for a vote, but for a veto.

Parliament's newest champions over Article 50 have been strangely silent on the Great Repeal Bill, which will revoke the European Communities Act and restore Parliamentary sovereignty. That bill will go before the House. So why haven't they declared their support for it? Could it be perhaps because they will vote against it?

For long-time Eurosceptics, it's incredible to watch the case for Brexit now being made by government ministers. But it's perhaps even more remarkable to see mostly Labour MPs – who pretend to stand for workers – brazenly representing the ruling classes in opposition to their own constituents.

Margaret Thatcher once said, "we didn't roll back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at the European level". By the same token, we didn't vote to end anti-democratic rule from Brussels only to see it re-established by establishment elites in Westminster.

Control belongs to the people. Parliament cannot refuse it to them.

10 OCT 2016

Is this life after Osbrown?

Ever since the Nixon shock in 1971, loose monetary policy has been the norm. Even though the results have been disastrous, policymakers always insist the alternative is worse. But that could be about to change.

Much of Theresa May's domestic agenda raises serious cause for concern. But there was one part of her conference speech which was encouraging: she admitted monetary stimulus has caused growing inequality by stoking asset-price inflation – and she said that needed to change.

She's right. Asset-price inflation transfers wealth from producers to parasites. There's only one word for it: malinvestment. Misesian monetary theory, it seems, is going mainstream.

But what does the PM's critique mean in practice? The Bank of England is responsible for interest rates and quantitative easing, and it is independent from the Treasury. Downing Street has already denied any suggestion of changing that arrangement.

Indeed, even if the government could convince the Bank to tighten monetary policy, it wouldn't be enough by itself to limit asset-price inflation.

A lot of the monetary expansion behind asset-price inflation doesn't come from central banks, but from retail banks. Fractional reserve banking – whereby only a fraction of demand deposits are available for withdrawal – facilitates vast credit creation, much of which flows straight into the property market.

In fact, banks are encouraged to keep reserves low and lending dangerously high by the safety net of not just emergency central-bank bailouts but also government-backed deposit insurance.

Asset-price inflation happens because banks know they can privatise profits, but socialise losses. If the PM is serious about addressing it, that's the perverse incentive she needs to end.

Reports suggest the precise change in policy direction will be announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. After eleven years of listening to Brown, Darling, and Osborne, that might finally be something I look forward to.

06 OCT 2016

Brexit Britain needs better yardsticks

Britain is the fastest-growing economy in the G7, says the IMF. It's great they've admitted they were wrong about post-referendum economic Armageddon. But are the G7 nations – over half of which are in the EU – really the countries we should be measuring ourselves against?

We often hear pundits use the phrase "in Europe" when comparing the UK's relative performance in some area or other. But we need to stop using Europe as the yardstick if we are to be a global success. It's how we are doing relative to the world that counts. 

By comparison to EU countries, for example, Britain – with predicted growth of 1.8% in 2016 – might be doing well.

But compare Britain to other countries with a similar population, and you get a very different picture. South Korea's economy, according to the IMF, is forecast to grow 2.7% this year. Turkey, 3.3%. Thailand, 3.2%. Tanzania, 7.2%. Myanmar (aka Burma), 8.1%.

Obviously, these countries face very different economic issues. Some are still just starting to develop. Others have only recently opened up to foreign trade and investment. None is a perfect analogue to Britain.

Here's the point, though: neither is the Eurozone! The old so-called advanced economies are collapsing under the weight of the failed single currency. We shouldn't be using them as a yardstick.

Brexit isn't just about taking back our sovereignty. It's also about changing our mindset. We need to start seeing ourselves in competition with the world's best performers.

Outside the EU, we can finally aspire to more than being the least broken member of the world's only declining trading bloc. It's time to set our sights higher.

05 OCT 2016

Why Britain needs UKIP

Theresa May is off to a great start. We finally have a prime minister committed to taking Britain out of the EU. Repealing the European Communities Act – not exactly a mainstream position when I proposed it in a private member's bill four years ago – is now government policy.

But alas, during her keynote conference speech, she seemed to advocate statism. She says she wants to "embrace a new centre ground" where the government "steps up, not back". That's why Britain needs an unapologetically free-market alternative: UKIP.

I was saddened by Diane James's decision to resign as UKIP leader yesterday. I hope she and her family are okay.

But I also hope that UKIP can regroup quickly. Not just for the party's sake, but for the country's too.

Theresa May has already created a department for "industrial strategy". She has talked about intervening in corporate boardrooms. Apparently, she's now proposing Ed-Miliband-style price controls on energy.

Trying to micromanage markets, businesses, and individual lives suffocates innovation and stifles freedom. It draws on the worst and most disastrous Conservative ideology: Heathism.

In a decade's time, I suspect the Left will have largely imploded. The tragedy of the 1920s, which saw the Labour party displace the Liberals, will have been undone. Politics will be a contest between a patrician Tory party and a radical liberal party (in the Gladstonian, not American, sense).

The race is on to be that alternative. I hope it will be UKIP.

30 SEP 2016

BBC Brexit bashing needs to stop

"Anger at billionaire's farm subsidies", reports the BBC on the EU's handouts to a Saudi prince. It seems to come as news to Auntie that the EU is a corporatist racket. Maybe if it gave Eurosceptics a bit more airtime, it might have found out sooner.

The BBC has been anything but impartial in its referendum coverage. Its director general, Lord Hall, couldn't name a single programme that has been positive about Brexit since June 23rd. I certainly haven't encountered any. Pro-EU puff pieces, on the other hand, are ubiquitous.

Barely an episode of the Today Programme goes by without a Remain ex-minister telling us how important it is to stay in the single market or the customs union – indulged by sympathetic interviewers.

Its latest hobby horse is the false option of a "soft Brexit" – meaning "EU membership in all but name".

The BBC seems to take it as red that the single market is an economic panacea. Given the state of Europe's economy, that's a pretty shaky assumption. Yet it never seems to occur to BBC journalists that the problem might be crony corporatism in Brussels.

Agricultural subsidies barely scratch the surface of the EU's favouritism for Big Business. With its reams of regulation, the single market is designed to benefit corporations that can afford legions of lobbyists and compliance lawyers. Small businesses don't get a look in – which is why so many backed Brexit.

One of the reasons all the economic growth and progress is happening elsewhere is because the single market successfully strangles disruptive innovation. But you'd never get that impression from the Beeb.

Perhaps, as an organisation that owes its own survival to a funding mechanism that lets it extort the public and exploit an unfair advantage over its competitors, the BBC has a natural affinity for corporatism?

By constantly promoting a continuity Remain narrative, our national broadcaster is actively undermining what the nation voted for. Maybe the next referendum should be on abolishing the licence fee.

29 SEP 2016

Sarkozy is wrong about Brexit - and French voters know it

Nicolas Sarkozy, who couldn't convince French voters he'd be a better president than Francois Hollande, believes he can persuade us to reconsider Brexit. Based on the way his compatriots now feel about the EU, he might be better off doing some rethinking of his own.

Part of Sarkozy's pitch for a presidential comeback is a new EU Treaty. He wants to negotiate a "new Europe". Where have we heard that before?

Every British prime minister for decades has assured us the European project could be reformed. Their broken promises are what made many people realise the only way out was to vote Leave.

Perhaps more interesting is how Sarkozy's plan will play at home. According to recent research by Pew, only 38% of French voters have a favourable view of the EU today, compared to 69% in 2004. It's no coincidence support for the Front National has surged at the same time.

Even in Germany, Euroscepticism is on the rise. The anti-EU AfD party recently beat Angela Merkel's CDU into third place in a regional election.

While the European centre right is still committed to the European project, the peoples of Europe are increasingly Eurosceptic.

It's hardly surprising. From the Greek debt disaster to the migrant crisis to the terror attacks coordinated from Brussels itself, Euro elites have presided over one mess after another. Yet many are so detached from the people they rule they can't even understand why they are resented.

And this is the point: if centre-right leaders keep backing a failed, federalist Europe come what may, they will drive more and more voters into the arms of radical – in some cases, extremist – alternatives.

So, with respect Monsieur Sarkozy, it isn't Britain that needs to think again about its relationship with the EU. It's politicians like you.

28 SEP 2016

Labour doesn't like Essex? The feeling's mutual

Shami Chakrabarti has been pleading with Jewish Labour party members - who might feel let down by her report into anti-Semitism - not to quit the party. Her pitch? "Don't leave me locked in a room with Essex Man." Is there anyone Labour doesn't have a problem with?

It may come as news to the noble lady, but Labour isn't exactly flavour of the month in Essex.

Over the eleven years I've represented Clacton, Labour has lost a lot of its support base locally. Many of my constituents abandoned Labour because they felt Labour had abandoned them. It seems they were right.

What's extraordinary is how narrow Labour's target demographic now seems to be. Leave voters? Not welcome. Centrists? No admission. Jews? Only if they're prepared to put up with what looks increasingly like institutional anti-Semitism.

Labour's growing disconnect from most of the country isn't just a party matter. It's a problem with our political system.

It's no coincidence that the big corporate parties have kept their monopoly on politics despite no longer representing the people. On the contrary, it's by design.

More than a century of legislation has increased the power of party machines, created safe seats, shut out competition – and marginalised the views of voters. (I've written about this at more length in the New Criterion.)

Politics is a cartel. But the cartel can be broken.

How do I know?

Because we did it in Clacton. Twice.

Perhaps I ought to invite Baroness Chakrabarti to come to Clacton to meet some Essex folk. She'll discover they're as decent as anyone she sits next to in the House of Lords.

27 SEP 2016

Deutsche Bank is the tip of the iceberg

Deutsche Bank's shares hit record lows yesterday. Its market cap has fallen by 75% since the start of 2014. Is this Lehman Brothers all over again? There's no doubt the rest of the Too-Big-to-Fail banks are still dominoes waiting to fall.

It's no surprise that Deutsche is in so much trouble – at least not to UKIP in Parliament.

Our study on Europe's financial sector, published late last year, found Deutsche to be the least capitalised of any major European bank, with the lowest leverage ratio, and the worst performance under a hypothetical stress test.

But Europe's other big banks – including the UK's – are scarcely any better capitalised, or less vulnerable. So if Deutsche goes down, it's taking the rest of the financial sector with it. As the IMF – in a rare moment of lucidity – warned three months ago.

The question is: why is this happening at all?

After the financial crisis, billions of pounds have been pumped into the world's biggest banks to keep them afloat. New regulations – from Dodd-Frank to Basel III – are supposed to have made sure they couldn't collapse again. The global financial sector is meant to be fixed.

But it's all a sham.

Public subsidies for banks – whether QE, low interest rates, deposit insurance, or direct state bailouts – have only encouraged them to take more risks, in the sure knowledge taxpayers will pick up the tab.

New capitalisation rules haven't raised banks' leverage ratios (core capital vs. liabilities) any higher than they were before. The margin of error is still far too thin. In fact, the biggest banks are the most exposed to risk.

Official stress tests, meanwhile, invariably overstate the big banks' strength. But then why wouldn't they? They're carried out by the same central bankers who are supposed to have reformed the system. Regulators can't admit there's a problem without confessing their own negligence.

The left tends to blame financial instability on corporate greed. Unfortunately, it's much worse than that. The real problem is systemic: fractional reserve banking.

Banks that lend against deposits dozens of times over are inevitably unstable. They're bound to be vulnerable to shocks and bank runs because they never had the capital to cover all their liabilities in the first place.

In a free market, bad banks would fail. Fractional reserve banking would be unsustainable in the long term. Why? Because the only thing sustaining it now is state subsidy.

Overleveraged banks like Deutsche are too big to survive. Fixing them requires tackling the excesses of fractional reserve banking. How? I proposed one way to do it in After Osbrown.

26 SEP 2016

What's progressive about the Labour party?

62% of Labour members voted for Jeremy Corbyn. 38% voted for Owen Smith. What percentage of the country still cares?

The Labour leadership election pitted 1990s Blair/Brown nostalgics against 1970s CND throwbacks.

People who, three months on, still haven't come to terms with the referendum result against people who, thirty years on, still haven't come to terms with Thatcher.

South Islington against North Islington.

If Labour is lagging in the polls, it's because its whole internal debate takes place within a tiny inner London bubble. The party has become hermetically sealed off from the rest of the country

Just consider: those parts of the party most in tune with the public mood – Labour Brexiteers like Gisela Stuart and John Mann – didn't have a dog in the fight.

So when Jeremy Corbyn talks about his party as the "engine of progress", it's hard to tell if he's being serious. Britain has progressed a lot faster than Labour.

What's retrograde about Labour isn't just Jezza. It's socialism.

Since the Second World War, no system of government has perpetuated suffering for more people than socialism. Whereas no system of government has lifted more people out of subsistence than free-market capitalism.

From Mao's China to Castro's Cuba to Chavez's Venezuela, socialist statism has done nothing but perpetuate poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

Yet these are the leaders Corbyn and his Comrades seem to admire. Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro, even tweeted the Labour leader his congratulations.

The Corbynistas can't shake the fantasy that government is better at running people's lives than people themselves. That's why they're relics of the past: they infantilise the electorate.

In the referendum, the majority voted for control. It's a choice we should have more often.

We should be able to vote for control over how our individual shares of education and health budgets are spent. Control over local planning decisions. Control over how we live – without the taxman punishing people for their lifestyle choices.

Labour's implosion presents UKIP with a huge opportunity at the next election. Control is the real progressive alternative we can offer.

23 SEP 2016

Is Theresa May prepared to fight corporatism?

City AM reports that Theresa May is scrapping David Cameron's Business Advisory Group – a forum for the PM to be lobbied by corporate cronies. I hope it's true. Less corporatism can only be a good thing.

Britain may not have a corporate lobbying industry on the scale of K Street in the United States, but it's still pretty extensive.

Whitehall is never short of corporate affairs executives seeking official audiences. Ex-ministers are routinely recruited to lucrative "advisory roles" in big corporations.

Those bidding for government contracts or patronage aren't even shy about currying favour. It's no coincidence Westminster station is plastered with adverts for defence contractors and runway-hungry airports.

The influence of vested interests creates conflicts of interest. MPs – including ministers – are there to stand up for their constituents. It's impossible to represent Big Business simultaneously. Lobbying directly undermines democracy.

"But what's the alternative?" You might say. "Surely businesses would be stupid not to lobby government."

That's true. But only because government makes lobbying profitable.

Our supposedly free-market economy is really a permission-based system. Unless you have official approval – whether from regulators, local authorities, Whitehall, or Brussels – you can't sell your product.

Markets depend less on what buyers want than what mandarins permit.

For big corporations, that creates a huge opportunity. The reason they put so much money into lobbying isn't just to get their products permitted. It's to get their competitors' products prohibited.

Which is why, when leftists say the way to constrain corporatism is more regulation, they're playing right into the hands of the CEOs. Regulation isn't a threat to the biggest players. It's what keeps them in business.

Our permissions-based economy is what allows big corporations to rig the market against upstart rivals, and shut out wealth-creating disruptive innovation. Maybe that's why productivity is stagnating.

To end lobbying culture, we'd need to get rid of the gains lobbying generates. That requires less government intervention, and more regulatory competition.

Closing one cosy corporatist club won't reform our economy. But it's good to see this government might be less beholden to vested interests than the last.

22 SEP 2016

Brexit pessimism is based on dogma, not data

The OECD has backtracked on its prediction of a post-referendum UK slowdown in 2016 – revising its growth forecast up. The ONS says there is no evidence that the vote has had a major effect on the economy. Does this mean Project Fear is finally over? Don't get your hopes up.

The economic data since the referendum has been remarkably positive. Exports, employment, and markets are up. Deficits – both trade and budgetary – are down.

But the doomsayers haven't given up yet. Maybe growth won't slow this year, but it will next year, the OECD now claims. The economy will stall without more monetary stimulus, says the Bank of England.

It's not clear what hypothetical piece of information could convince them that their predictions are wrong.

People in major financial institutions are employed to draw sound conclusions from data. Instead they seem to interpret the data to fit their predetermined conclusions.

Too often, what is sold to us as informed analysis is really a reflection of groupthink and dogma. That's why – from the launch of the euro to the financial crisis to the referendum – global economic forecasters have been so wrong so often.

Instead of trying to prophesy the future, maybe they should look at the past. Nothing in the EU's recent history suggests it's found the elixir for economic success. Where are Europe's Apples, Googles, and Facebooks? Where's the growth? Where are the jobs?

The reason so many of us are confident Brexit will make Britain better off is that the EU is fundamentally broken.

Are the 'experts' so detached from reality that they can't see that?

21 SEP 2016

Why Britain needs to leave the single market

So much of the media debate about Brexit seems to focus on whether the EU will give Britain permission to keep trading with it. Isn't it just as important that, after we leave, we won't need the EU's permission for the rest of our trade?

Of course we want to keep trading with the EU – and, like so many other non-EU countries around the world, we will. Britain doesn't need to be a member of the single market to have access to the single market.

Take EU passporting rights for financial services, for instance. Pundits tell us our banks can't trade in the EU without them, so we mustn't leave the single market.

But that's simply not true.

New EU financial rules (MiFID II and MiFIR) will allow firms in foreign jurisdictions with equivalent financial regulations to the EU to trade in the single market.

The UK's financial regulations aren't just equivalent to the EU's. They're identical. So there's no reason why British banks should lose their trading rights (as Moody's and DLA Piper agree).

In any case, as the Bank of England acknowledges, more EU firms use the current passporting system to trade in the UK than British firms use it to trade in Europe. Is the EU going to hurt its own banks just to spite us?

Surely, though, there's a bigger point here than just our trade with the EU. Yes, British firms that want to export to the EU will still have to abide by its rules post-Brexit. But they make up only 6% of all the companies in the UK.

What about the rest?

Brexit allows us to set the other 94% free from single-market rules. Rules that, according to Open Europe's estimates, cost British industry £600 million a week. Rules like the Clinical Trials Directive, which has kneecapped a whole industry.

Instead of worrying about how to comply with Brussels' burdensome bureaucracy, shouldn't we be looking forward to taking back control of our laws?

20 SEP 2016

The SNP's Brexit claims are bogus

Three months since the referendum, Project Fear's economic warnings have already proven false. But none are more bogus than those of Remain's most recalcitrant rearguard: the SNP.

Nicola Sturgeon makes out that, compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland's economy will be particularly badly hit by Brexit.

But what's the basis for this idea?

As Moneyweek's Matthew Lynn writes, the numbers don't support the SNP's case. Because, compared to the UK as a whole, Scotland does a much lower proportion of its trade with the European single market.

Excluding oil and gas, Scotland's exports to the EU are worth £11.6 billion per year, compared to £15.2 billion for those to the rest of the world, and £48 billion to the rest of the UK. So, if Scotland left the UK post-Brexit, just 18% of its total exports would go to the EU.

Moreover, its exports to the EU fell by 16% last year – the fastest of any of the four nations in the UK.

Plus, businesses in Scotland already use much less cheap EU labour than those elsewhere in the UK. Just 7% of Scotland's workers are born abroad, compared to 13% for the country as a whole.

Then there are the opportunities. New free-trade deals could, for example, cut massive tariffs on exports of Scotch to developing countries, like India.

The SNP's goal of an independent Scotland is fundamentally political, not economic – as Nicola Sturgeon admits. What political union Scotland should be part of is up to the Scottish people. But it's got nothing to do with the economics of Brexit.

19 SEP 2016

UKIP can break the political cartel

Congratulations to UKIP's new leader, Diane James! As I said in my speech at conference, I will be giving her my 100% support. The party now needs to rally behind her. If we do, UKIP can go on to break the political cartel.

Last summer, we didn't just beat the Remain campaign. We beat the political establishment. We beat the cosy Commons cartel who, for decades, told us leaving the EU was not an option.

Westminster groupthink doesn't stop there.

It's the coalition of the comfortable, who back benefit cuts for ordinary people but never challenge corporate welfare for banks or government-to-government handouts masquerading as overseas aid.

It's the class of professional politicians who reflect each other's prejudices more than the views of the electorate.

The big parties don't just collude to maintain an unfair electoral system, which means UKIP can get 4 million votes but only one MP. Their contrived consensus means voters never get a real choice at the ballot box.

Groupthink has run Britain for far too long. And it's running us into the ground.

UKIP needs to be the party that offers an alternative. The party of change.

That's why, working with Mark Reckless in the House of Commons, I've been producing policy papers setting out a real radical alternative on everything from energy, to banking, to the family courts.

This summer, we showed the political cartel can be defeated. UKIP can be the force that breaks it. Our party's biggest victories are yet to come.

16 SEP 2016

Can anything convince our central bank to stop printing money?

The Bank of England has come as close at it's going to get to admitting Project Fear was wrong. "Indicators of near-term economic activity have been somewhat stronger than expected," it now says. So why is it still printing more money?

The predictions of post-referendum economic catastrophe have fallen flat. From the markets to employment to exports to construction, every metric has shown growth. Even the fall in the relative value of sterling looks beneficial, as Britain's gaping trade deficit has shrunk.

Which makes the behaviour of the Bank of England perplexing. Its August stimulus package was ostensibly premised on economic contraction. But, with almost two months of data now available rather than one at the time, it's clear that isn't the case.

Yet, instead of changing their policy, the Bank has merely changed its justification. Now the argument is that the good economic data just reflects the impact of the Bank's actions.

When you think about it, that's an unfalsifiable hypothesis. The economy's expanding? Monetary stimulus is sustaining growth. The economy's shrinking? We need monetary stimulus to stop a recession.

It seems like there is no question, in Threadneedle Street, to which expanding the money supply isn't the answer. Even a surge in inflation won't necessarily provoke a rise in interest rates – as Mark Carney has alluded.

In reality, printing money isn't the solution to economic problems, but their cause. Currency debasement and cheap credit have channelled resources into vast unsustainable asset bubbles instead of productive investment.

Constant monetary stimulus will at some point lead to either serious inflation or an almighty correction. The question – as Steve Baker said in his brilliant Commons speech on QE yesterday – is whether people will recognise that the centralised mismanagement of our money is responsible when it happens.

15 SEP 2016

Libya shows why military action needs Parliamentary approval

I abstained in the vote on military action in Libya because I felt the aims weren't clear enough. Five years on, the Foreign Affairs Committee has shown just how inadequate the government's planning was. This is why military action needs Parliamentary approval and scrutiny.

Two years after Libya, David Cameron requested the backing of MPs for another round of regime change in Syria. He didn't get it.

I voted for military action against Assad. But, for those who voted against, I suspect the unfolding disaster in Libya informed their decision.

Had it not been for Parliament, Britain and the US would probably have removed Assad from power. That would have got rid of a tyrant – and struck a blow against the expansionist ambitions of Russia and Iran.

But it's very possible that IS and other Islamist groups would have become stronger and more dangerous if Syria had become a totally ungoverned space like Libya.

Of course, David Cameron did get Parliamentary approval to go to war in Libya, just as Tony Blair did for war in Iraq. The House of Commons is not a fool-proof failsafe against poorly thought out military action. But it's still is a necessary check on the executive.

The fear of losing a vote on military action, as Cameron did in 2013, will force future prime ministers to think harder about going to war – and come up with action plans that stand up to scrutiny.

Arguably, it already has. Cameron's 2015 plan to attack IS was much narrower in scope than the previous proposal for military action in Syria. Its goals were better defined. That's why I was comfortable voting for it – and perhaps why, on that occasion, a majority of MPs approved it.

One lesson of the committee's report five years after the fact is that, in future, we need better legislative scrutiny before going to war.

14 SEP 2016

Have Remainers reached the acceptance stage?

One-time Remainer Charlie Elphicke is introducing a bill today to "implement the withdrawal of the UK from the EU." It's wonderful to see he's come to terms with the referendum result. Does this mean the Remain rearguard is finally accepting reality?

Charlie Elphicke's volte-face is remarkable. Just a few months ago, he was a full-throated campaigner for Project Fear.

He told us leaving the EU would somehow endanger Britain's bilateral Le Touquet treaty with France.

He made out we shouldn't restore British sovereignty, because it would only result in Vladimir Putin trying to take it away again.

I wonder what changed his mind. Did someone manage to explain to him that Britain and France had diplomatic relations before the EU? Or that the EU isn't the same as NATO?

Or was it the fact that the vast majority of his constituents in Dover voted Leave? Strange that his rigorous warnings failed to convince them.

The government doesn't need Parliament's support to trigger Article 50. It has a clear mandate from the people. Theresa May has made it clear she won't be putting that to a vote.

So this bill – like so much of what happens in the House of Commons these days – is a futile exercise. I'll be voting for it. But Britain is leaving the EU whether it succeeds or fails.

It will be interesting, though, to see how many Remain MPs still believe they can block the will of the people.

Some MPs just can't understand that, in a referendum, their vote is just one in 40 million. They seem to think their view counts for more than everyone else's.

Maybe today's debate will finally convince them that it doesn't.

13 SEP 2016

Protectionist procurement puts corporatism before country

What's the point of the Ministry of Defence? You'd think it has one job: to keep Britain safe. But, if procurement is anything to go by, that isn't how the MoD sees it. Ministers and officials seem to be more interested in protecting defence contractors than protecting the country.

Take our Type 45 destroyers. Yes, they're among the world's most sophisticated ships. But they cost £6.5 billion – 30% over budget. They were delivered two years late. Plus, only six were built – half the number planned.

And they don't work properly. Propulsion system failures mean they all have to be refitted with new engines, less than a decade after they entered service. Taxpayers will be saddled with another multi-million pound bill.

This isn't a stand-out case. Overspends, delays, and technical flaws are the norm. See the Nimrod MRA4. Or the SA80. Or the Joint Strike Fighter.

Procurement failures aren't just a waste of money. They make our armed forces – and our country – less safe. So why do ministers put up with it?

Because procurement policy is protectionist. Instead of choosing equipment based on quality, the government favours a small group of major British contractors.

So, naturally, the contractors have the upper hand. If you know you have a guaranteed customer no matter how expensive, late, or inefficient your products are, why deliver quality?

Defence contracts are really just a subsidy for a corporate cartel.

It doesn't have to be this way. Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Defence Procurement if she would take a different approach for the new Type 31 Frigate.

I inquired whether the government would boost its bargaining power by seeking to purchase jointly with NATO allies – which was the original procurement plan for the Type 45s.

I asked if she would cut costs by ditching protectionism.

Her response? "Complex ships can only be built in the UK."

Theresa May said that, under her leadership, Britain would be a global leader in free trade. Procurement would be a good place to start.

12 SEP 2016

One-size-fits-all education is intellectually bankrupt

Predictably, the education establishment – what Michael Gove used to call 'the blob' – is attacking plans for new grammar schools. "There's no evidence grammars improve social mobility", critics say. "They're retrograde." But this objection is a subterfuge. The real question is: does selection by ability improve learning?

The fact is, it's not just independent and grammar schools that select by ability. Comprehensives do it too. Streaming within comprehensive schools is now normal.

It's easy to forget that wasn't what comprehensive education was meant to be like. Originally, students of all abilities were taught together.


Certainly not because that was empirically proven to be better. Experience testifies that it's not.

Think back to when you were at school. How many times did you struggle because you felt teachers were moving too fast, or get bored because they were going too slowly?

Children – and adults – learn different subjects at different paces. It's easier to learn with people at the same level as you. That's why comprehensives started to stream.

The reason comprehensive education was initially one-size-fits all wasn't to get the best out of every pupil. It was to ensure every pupil got the same. The aim was equality of outcome. Schools were merely a tool for social engineering.

The comprehensive ideal is based on the premise that we are all born identical in ability, and only develop differently because some grow up more privileged than others.

That's not evidence. It's ideology. And it's false.

Diversity is natural. Education needs to be diverse because children are diverse.

To create a diverse education system, the government would need to go beyond setting up a few new grammar schools.

Why not allow schools freedom over what, how and whom they teach, with no centrally dictated national curriculum?

Why not give parents the legal right to control their share of the education budget, and educate their children the way they choose?

Whether grammars or academies or free schools, the education establishment always opposes any change to the system that might make it more diverse, and less wedded to bankrupt Marxist dogma.

Who's really retrograde here?

08 SEP 2016

Central banks are corrupting capitalism

We often take for granted that we live in a free-market economy. But do we? At the heart of our supposedly capitalist system, capital is allocated by fiat. Central bankers believe they can allocate resources better than the market. Their conceit is corrupting capitalism.

Interest rates are supposed to represent risk. The cost of borrowing should reflect the risk of lending. At least, they would if interest rates were determined by the market.

But they're not. They're set by small groups of bureaucrats in central banks. The Bank of England base rate determines the cost of borrowing throughout the economy. It fixes the price of capital.

When you think about it, that's bizarre. We don't readily accept official price-fixing in any other sector of the economy. We don't want the state to try and set the price of butter or eggs. We know the result would either be a supply shortage or a useless surplus. So why do we accept it for capital?

Central bankers think they can price capital better than the market. They believe they can use interest rates to manage the economy and beat the business cycle. As Mark Carney demonstrated in yesterday's Treasury Select Committee hearing, they take credit for economic growth, but never the blame when the economy crashes.

The reality is the reverse. Keeping the capital price too low distorts risk. It makes borrowing too cheap. It creates asset bubbles. It makes investors chase risk. It depresses pension yields. It keeps capital away from productive sectors of the economy. It's what caused the financial crisis.

Left-wing critics of bankers' bonuses and crony corporatism blame capitalism. Statism, they say, is the solution. What they miss is that so much of what's going wrong with the global economy is caused by state-control over capital.

Earlier this week, I spoke at the Adam Smith Institute about how capitalism has been corrupted. Unless we recognise the cause, we won't be able to fix it.

07 SEP 2016

Family-court secrecy needs to end

Yesterday I asked the Justice Secretary what progress the government has made on opening up the family courts. Too often, families are broken up without proper scrutiny. This is an urgent issue. Yet, year after year, little seems to change.

Often courts have no alternative but to take children suffering abuse into care. But I fear that in too many cases the wrong decision is made. Good parents have been judged unfit, and children have been adopted by strangers rather than loving grandparents.

Part of the problem is a lack of transparency in the family-court system. Access for the press is limited. The identities of expert witnesses and social workers – on whose evidence the judgment often depends – are protected. Proceedings aren't made public.

Some miscarriages of justice have been documented by journalists, notably Camilla Cavendish. But how many others are unknown because judgments are made behind closed doors? Secrecy opens the door to injustice.

Almost a year ago, UKIP in Parliament released a paper calling for the family courts to be opened up. We called for court proceedings to be published, and the identities of expert witnesses and social workers who testify in court to be revealed.

We're not the only ones to raise the issue. Sir James Munby, president of the family courts division, opened a consultation on transparency two years ago.

But what's happened since?

That was the question I put to the new Justice Secretary. Her response gave little indication that this issue is a priority for the government.

Since the referendum, there has been the sense of political upheaval in Britain. A new prime minister, a new government, a new Brexit outlook.

But much of the change that excites politicians and pundits is superficial. Too often, we get different personnel, but government stays the same.

For families on the wrong end of the family-court secrecy, transparency can't wait. This is a real opportunity for urgent reform. I hope the new Justice Secretary takes it.

06 SEP 2016

The idea of a Commons Brexit vote only damages Parliament

Yesterday several continuity Remain MPs claimed that denying Parliament a vote on triggering Article 50 would be undemocratic. The truth is precisely the opposite. The idea of MPs voting on – and voting down - Brexit can only damage Parliament.

Parliamentary sovereignty is shorthand for the sovereignty of the people. But, on Brexit, the people don't need a proxy. They made their will abundantly clear in the referendum. The government has its mandate directly from the voters.

The pretence that Parliament hasn't had a say is absurd. Who gave the choice to the people if not Parliament? A majority of MPs passed the Referendum Act.

Those insisting on a Parliamentary vote do so in the name of democracy. Yet their aim is, of course, fundamentally anti-democratic. They still think a majority of MPs could overturn the referendum result.

The Prime Minister has made clear that this naked attempt to block Brexit won't sway the government. The real danger it poses is to Parliament.

Many MPs have clearly forgotten where their mandate comes from. They don't seem to have asked themselves what the consequences of countermanding the people would be.

Do they really think voters would accept Parliament ignoring their mandate? Do they believe it would have no effect on popular confidence in politicians?

The danger with this proposal, as with so much else that MPs do, is that people will lose faith in Parliamentary democracy. What happens then?

Across the Western world, voters are in revolt against what they rightly see as a self-serving ruling class. They are sick of a crony cartel monopolising power in its own interests.

One continuity Remainer criticised the use of royal prerogative yesterday. It's worth remembering how that became constrained. Charles I found out the consequences of ruling without popular consent.

Ignore the people at your peril.

05 SEP 2016

Referenda need less official interference, not more

How do you give people more control over government? I've always believed the answer is direct democracy: more decisions made by voters, fewer by politicians and officials. But the Electoral Reform Society seems to think the opposite. They want to give officialdom more control over direct democracy. Why?

The ERS's latest recommendations come from its scathing report on the referendum campaign. I also thought some of the conduct in the campaign was disgraceful. But much of their critique is misplaced.

There is, for example, barely any criticism of the Remain propaganda issued by Downing Street at taxpayers' expense. And no mention of the use of the civil service as an extension of the Remain campaign. Apparently, co-opting the organs of the State to gain an unfair edge is no big deal.

The report also says people felt ill-informed, and the campaigns provided disinformation. Yet there is no admission that many of the outlandish claims came from supposedly independent "experts" – many of whose warnings, especially on the economy, have already been proven wrong.

On the other hand, the report does complain that none of the big-name political figures had an earth-shattering effect on public opinion. But what does that prove? Many voters had already made up their minds. Undecideds tend to swing elections, but they rarely make up a majority of the electorate.

Yet on the basis of this flawed critique, the ERS say we need to overhaul the way we do referenda in future – in part by giving more powers to the Electoral Commission.

They want the Commission to issue an "official rulebook" for both sides. And to publish a "minimum data set" giving "the basic data relevant to the vote". And even to "intervene when overtly misleading information is disseminated by the official campaigns".

These recommendations are misguided, in several respects.

First, the idea that there is some perfect, objective source of information to call on is bogus. "Experts" – as we found out – very often have their own political agendas. They're certainly not divine founts of wisdom.

Moreover, making the Electoral Commission into the Ministry of Truth is bound to end badly. It would become the prime target for campaign lobbyists trying to get an unfair advantage. The effect would be counterproductive to the aim.

But the big problem with the idea of official arbiters for campaign information is not the practical execution, but the premise behind it. In a democracy, we already have an arbiter: it's called the people. The whole point of democracy is that voters analyse what they are told by the opposing sides, and make their own decision.

Underlying the ERS's report is the sense that people can't really be trusted to know what they are voting on, so instead we should let unelected technocrats decide for them. That's not the kind of electoral reform Britain needs.

02 SEP 2016

Mark Carney needs to reverse course

Yesterday's manufacturing PMI data was the biggest rise in 25 years – up 5 points since July. It's the latest piece of economic good news since the referendum. Is the Bank of England paying attention?

The "expert" consensus told us that the vote to leave the EU would kill confidence in Britain's economy - then spent the aftermath of the referendum doing their level best to kill it.

But to no avail. Two months on, markets are up. Employment is up. Export orders are up. Consumption is up. Foreign direct investment is flowing in. The pound is rising again.

Yet many of the Remain doomsayers are sticking to the script. "Maybe things are okay now", they say. "But wait till we actually leave the EU."

Aren't these the same people who said markets would price in Brexit immediately? If it's already priced in, why expect market optimism to change?

The "experts" on the touchline may not be able to see the opportunities for post-Brexit Britain, but the people who actually participate in the economy – investors, producers, and consumers – clearly can.

That's not to say economic growth is assured. But the risk we face isn't so much from the referendum, but from the policy response to it.

The big threat to the global economy is the misallocation of capital, caused by too much credit, churned out by trigger-happy central banks. To counter it, interest rates need to rise.

Instead, Mark Carney used the supposed Brexit downturn - based on July's PMI data - as an excuse to print even more money, cutting rates to new depths from already record lows.

Voting Leave hasn't made our economy sick, but the supposed public-policy cure might. The latest PMI data has removed any basis for "economic stimulus". Monetary policymakers need to swallow their pride, and reverse course.

01 SEP 2016

"Soft Brexit" is no Brexit at all

The Remain refuseniks have a cunning plan to block the will of the people. The idea is to keep Britain in the EU but – here's the genius part – rebadge "EU membership" as "soft Brexit". Because no one will notice, right?

In the run-up to the referendum, Vote Leave couldn't have been clearer about what a Leave vote meant. We campaigned for control: over our laws, our borders, and our trade policy. Control is what the majority voted for.

The only way to take back control is to leave the Single Market. That's not news. Michael Gove said it time and again during the campaign.

Of course, we want continued access to the Single Market – that is, we want to continue buying from and selling to Continental Europe, and to do so tariff-free.

But free trade with the EU doesn't require Single Market membership. Canada, Turkey, and Switzerland are proof. Each has its own tailored arrangement with the EU. We can agree our own bilateral free-trade deal too.

The Remain rearguard wants more than free trade. They want what the British people explicitly rejected: European political union.

So they claim that Brexit is some big mystery. They say no one knows what it means. They make out that keeping EU laws, EU courts, EU free movement, and EU external tariffs doesn't mean we haven't left the EU.

It's David Cameron's great EU reform ruse all over again. After all, that really convinced people the first time, didn't it?

Over 17 million people voted to leave the EU. They know what they voted for: no more laws from Brussels, no more uncontrolled immigration, no more political union.

Deceiving the electorate takes more than a cheap trick like this. British voters know that soft Brexit is no Brexit at all.

Whom do the continuity Remainers think they're kidding?

31 AUG 2016

France has just proved TTIP was never about free trade

France appears to have killed TTIP – the EU-US trade deal. "The Americans are giving us nothing", the French trade minister complains. Which only goes to show that TTIP was never about free trade in the first place.

If TTIP were a genuine free-trade agreement, it would simply allow customers to buy products made in California as easily as those made in Calais or Clacton.

But that isn't what it does. As France has let slip, the negotiations aren't focused on taking down trade barriers, but on bargaining over concessions. That's very different.

Far from making trade easier, TTIP attempts to expand the permission-based system of the Single Market across the Atlantic. It seeks to decree who is allowed to produce what and where – so that certain corporations in certain countries are kept safe from foreign competition.

In other words, it's not about free-trade, but protectionism.

Protectionism seems to be all the rage right now. It unites Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, Francois Hollande and Marine Le Pen. The conceit is that it makes average earners better off. But it's a con.

Trade barriers only protect producers – and they do so at the expense of consumers. They artificially enable some suppliers to sell products at a higher price than the market by barring foreign competition. Which means consumers have to pay more to get less.

France's own Frédéric Bastiat realised this two centuries ago. He mocked the idea that punishing foreigners for selling us products that we want to buy makes us better off. Protectionism, he wrote, just creates scarcity.

All the arguments in favour of TTIP are about restricting abundance in the interests of certain producers. Just like the case for the Common Agricultural Policy, with its subsidies and quotas. Or the state-aid rules that slam American Apple for not paying enough tax, but somehow permit direct government handouts to French Renault.

Like everything else the EU does, TTIP is a corporatist, protectionist fix.

Protectionism is what creates crony cartels, and entrenches rent-seeking elites. Spreading wealth requires a system that protects the interests of consumers. It's called free trade.

19 AUG 2016

Economics isn't just an extension of politics

"The economic risk of Brexit is over", says Moody's. "Now the risk is the US Presidential election." For two centuries, economic growth has been driven by technological innovation. Why do the economic 'experts' seem to think it's all about politics?

Technology is radically transforming the global economy right now.

Last week, the World Economic Forum published a report on how blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin - is set to revolutionise financial services. It offers more transparency, greater trust, fewer middlemen – and less need for ratings agencies like Moody's.

Blockchain's potential goes beyond business. Two weeks ago, the government made a blockchain company an approved public-sector supplier. It hopes the technology could eliminate fraud and overpayment in the welfare system.

Another incredible innovation on the horizon is the driverless car. Uber is about to pilot driverless minicabs – which will ultimately enable it to cut fares even further than it has already.

Ten years ago, who would have predicted that either of these technologies would now be mainstream?

Innovation tends to take everyone by surprise. That's nothing new.

Two hundred years ago, Malthus predicted mass starvation because of overpopulation. Instead, because of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, not only did the world's population boom, but the standard of living unprecedentedly rose too.

The unpredictability of innovation is one of the reasons why economic 'experts' have such trouble foreseeing the future – and why the doomsayers are so often wrong.

Of course, politics can negatively affect economies. In fact, it usually does. The more politicians try and micromanage the economy, the more they hold it back.

But innovation is changing politics too. Thanks to the digital revolution, politics as we know it is giving way to iDemocracy.

Politicians love to think economic growth is all about them. No one else needs to play along with their fantasy.

18 AUG 2016

We can trust the experts - to get it wrong

Unemployment will rocket if we vote Leave, they said. Instead, it's fallen. Time and again, the economic data since the referendum has proved the 'expert' predictions wrong.

Here's a reminder of their perfect record of failure:

  • Referendum uncertainty will slow economic growth in the second quarter, the Bank of England told us. In reality, the growth rate rose.
  • Markets will reassess the UK's prospects after a vote to Leave, said the Treasury. The FTSE 100 is close to its all-time record.
  • Britain's economy will suffer a post-referendum recession, Berenberg confidently predicted in the spring. Actually, there won't, admit Berenberg now.
  • Foreign direct investment will fall, warned the IFS. Which must be why Japan's Softbank is putting £24 billion into ARM.
  • No one will want to make trade deals with post-Brexit Britain, sneered the OECD. Except China, India, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Iceland... Have I missed any?
  • There'll have to be an emergency budget, threatened George Osborne. Not a chance, we were assured – by his replacement.
  • Farming will collapse, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones seriously suggested. The government has already guaranteed to match CAP funding.

At this point, any logical person would be surprised if the so-called 'experts' got something right. Yet the mainstream – or should that be the Remainstream? – media is still shocked by every failed prediction. No amount of reality can shake their faith in their failed oracles.

'Independent' pundits and 'experts' seem to be stuck in their Brexit bunker. Maybe someone could tell them it's safe to come out.

17 AUG 2016

Rail fares rise because the government has a monopoly

Strikes on Southern Rail. Abellio keeping the East Anglia franchise despite persistently poor performance. Rail services aren't improving, but the government is raising fares yet again. If you need evidence that public-sector monopolies don't serve the public interest, this is it.

Rail fare rises are a tax on employment. Many of my constituents have no choice but to commute by rail to London for work. Yet the rail fares have increased faster than their wages.

The idea that rail fares only rise in line with inflation is - as Moneyweek's Merryn Somerset Webb astutely points out - a lie. CPI has long since replaced RPI as the official measure of inflation. But, for rail fares, RPI still applies. Why? Because it's over a percentage point higher. The aim is to milk commuters for as much as possible.

The government raises rail fares because it can. It has a monopoly. It owns all the track. It awards all the franchises. The Department for Transport has much more control since 'privatisation' than it ever did in the days of British Rail.

All the franchise system has done is replace quangocracy with corporatism. Private companies get to operate the railways, and reap guaranteed profits – at the expense of taxpayers and commuters. The rail regulator consistently supports the interests of the operators rather than the consumers.

The track, meanwhile, is still run by a government agency. Network Rail is fully state-owned. That doesn't make it any better than the franchise operators. In my corner of Essex, repairs regularly overrun, causing misery for my constituents as they try to get to work.

No matter how poor the quality of service, the government will always demand more from commuters – because commuters have no choice. Fares never fall, because there is no competition.

"Renationalise the railways," says Jeremy Corbyn. In what sense have they been privatised?

16 AUG 2016

It's time to end Nixon's failed monetary experiment

Richard Nixon was, in many respects, a disastrous president – chiefly remembered for Vietnam and Watergate. But one of his most destructive legacies is often forgotten. It began forty-five years ago yesterday, when he decoupled the dollar from gold.

By ending the Bretton Woods system, Nixon began an experiment that had never been tried in the world before: free-floating, fiat currencies, unbacked by any commodity. For the first time, governments had a total monopoly over the means of exchange.

Bretton Woods – or the gold-exchange standard – wasn't the same as the classical gold standard. It had fundamental flaws.

The idea was that the dollar would be convertible to gold at a fixed rate – although crucially only foreign governments, not individuals, could convert it. Other currencies, meanwhile, could be exchanged for the dollar, which would serve as the global reserve currency.

In practice, the Federal Reserve increased the money supply, inflating the dollar. The real value of the dollar fell, but the nominal price in gold didn't. So, naturally, other countries swapped their dollars for gold, causing a gold run.

But inflation before 1971 is nothing compared to the inflation since. Unbound by any link an external constraint, central banks have gone into overdrive: printing money to boost credit, artificially inflate markets, and fund government deficits.

The price of one ounce of gold has risen from $40 in 1971 to $1,339 today: a 3072% increase. Before 1971, the dollar price of gold had barely doubled in 200 years.

Gold hasn't got more expensive: money has become cheaper.

"So what?" you might think. "Why does it matter?"

Actually, it's hugely important.

Every housing bubble. Every debt crisis. Every banking failure. Every small correction that low interest rates obscure, and major crash that they create. Every bank bailout and subsidy scheme that transfers resources from wealth creators to rent-seekers, and entrenches inequality.

All of it can be traced to the full nationalisation of the money supply.

Financial pundits today treat today's monetary system as if it's normal. Any suggestion of fundamental change is seen as kooky and absurd. They seem to forget the current system has only been around for 45 years – and, in that short time, has brought the global economy to the brink of collapse.

To be a functioning means of exchange, money shouldn't be susceptible to debasement at the whims of central bankers. Commodity-backed money offers some security. Competing currencies, whereby the ultimate guarantor of value is the market, might be better still.

But first, we need to admit that Nixon's monetary experiment has failed.

15 AUG 2016

After Brexit, we can do more than just replace funding

The Treasury has guaranteed post-Brexit funding for farming and science – exactly as Vote Leave promised. It's an important announcement, which puts another Remain myth to bed. But I hope the government goes further than simply matching EU schemes.

The Treasury's announcement ought to be another nail in the coffin of Project Fear. We were told that after we left the EU farming would fold and science would cease. Instead – as Vote Leave said - support will continue, only it will come directly from our government, instead of via a detour through Brussels.

It's hard to understand why that should ever have been in doubt. Britain is the second-largest net contributor to the EU. For every two pounds we put in, we get only one back. All 'EU-funded' projects in the UK are already paid for by British taxpayers twice over.

What's important is not just that we'll have more to spend once we no longer pay dues to Brussels. It's that we – not the Eurocrats – will have control over how our money is spent.

I'd like to see the government explore the options that come with greater control. CAP often subsidises big corporate producers at the expense of smaller farms. Maybe, instead of simply replacing the payments, the government can create a fairer system.

The same applies to science. Many researchers worry not just about the funding but the fate of international collaborations. But Britain could keep participating in Horizon 2020 even as a non-EU country – like Israel. Or perhaps there are universities in non-EU countries that would welcome being better networked with our scientists. Let's look at the possibilities.

In farming and science, no less than in trade, Brexit is an opportunity.

12 AUG 2016

The Court of Appeal has got it right: leave Labour alone, M'Lud

The debate about who should be able to vote in Labour's leadership contest is none of my business. Labour's internal rules shouldn't be the business of anyone except the Labour party's. So I'm delighted the Court of Appeal has overturned the High Court's verdict, and let the party decide. The implications are profound.

Whether you're a member of any party or none, this ruling has consequences for you – and for our democracy. Parties should to the greatest possible extent set their own rules and arbitrate their own disputes about the application of those rules. Courts should not normally intervene.

Some argue that an activist judiciary is one of the checks and balances necessary for good government. They tend to be people who don't like what the majority voted for. Or lawyers with an inflated sense of what should be determined by lawyers.

Judges aren't elected by anyone. They aren't accountable to anyone. In this country, they aren't even subject to confirmation hearings by anyone who is elected.

So the notion of a judge interfering in politics is the opposite of a check. It's a power grab.

Judicial activism has been emboldened by the EU. Until we joined, it was impossible for Acts of Parliament to be struck down in court. Now they can be if they conflict with EU law: both in the ECJ, and in our own courts.

The courts could yet have an impact on our exit from the EU. A prominent law firm is preparing a legal challenge aimed at forcing Parliament to vote on triggering Article 50 – in the hope that the majority of MPs would vote it down, and block Brexit.

That would be deeply anti-democratic. Parliamentary sovereignty is shorthand for the sovereignty of the people. The referendum makes the will of the people crystal clear.

There may be a temptation for judges to get involved in the Brexit process. I hope the courts will act judiciously.

12 AUG 2016

BBC balance is baloney

The BBC Trust has published a report on BBC impartiality in presenting statistics. It concludes not just that the BBC is impeccably impartial, but that it should be "braver" in "guiding the audience". Is it April 1st already?

During the referendum campaign, I and other Leavers were constantly interrupted by BBC interviewers while trying to get across basic facts and figures about Britain's EU membership. We were barely allowed to articulate our arguments, let alone have them contradicted.

I didn't notice the BBC challenging Project Fear claims about economic collapse. In fact, it's still reporting them as fact – even now they've proved to be nonsense. Why are the so-called "experts" stating them never taken to task?

Yet the FT has reported the BBC Trust's findings as evidence that the BBC didn't attack Leavers enough. If only it had tried to discredit Vote Leave contributors more! Then the voters would have swallowed elite groupthink got the "facts".

Since the end of the referendum campaign – and its explicit restrictions on bias – the BBC has let its full pro-EU sympathies show. This is, after all, the organisation that commissioned staunch Remainer David Aaronovitch to explain why people voted Leave.

So I'm not sure what's more absurd: the idea that the BBC was somehow too easy on Leave campaigners, or the fact the FT – and perhaps the BBC Trust - seriously thinks it could have been.

In its outlook, the BBC is indistinguishable from the Guardian. No one could confuse it for FOX News. The problem is that, unlike the papers, it pretends to be neutral. That fiction is one of the reasons so many people – especially, I suspect, Leave voters – no longer trust it.

Impartiality, for any media outlet, may actually be impossible. But if the BBC is going to be the broadcast wing of the Guardian, it shouldn't be funded with licence-fee-payers' money.

10 AUG 2016

Leaving the EU must mean leaving the Single Market

The IFS has a new report out on membership of vs. access to the Single Market. It's welcome that they've finally grasped the distinction. But it's incredible they still think staying in the Single Market is possible after the clear vote to leave the EU.

During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave consistently showed that Britain doesn't need to be a member of the Single Market to trade with it. Few pundits seemed to understand the point, let alone make it. Yet the distinction is critical.

Single Market membership means 100% of UK businesses are bound by Single Market rules – even though only 6% of UK businesses export to the Single Market.

Access means trade goes on, but only those 6% have to comply with Single Market rules. That will lift a huge regulatory burden on the domestic economy.

But the IFS not only discounts the economic benefits of leaving the Single Market. It also maintains the fiction that remaining in it is consistent with the mandate from the electorate.

Over 17 million people clearly voted to take back control of their laws. That means leaving the Single Market. No amount of "expert" sophistry can change that. There can be no backsliding.

Despite recognising a distinction between access and membership, the IFS misrepresents what access means. It presents the options as binary: either free trade as a Single Market member, or WTO tariffs.

But there is of course a third option: a UK-EU deal to maintain free trade. An entire government department has been created to negotiate an agreement. Yet somehow the IFS seems to discount it as a serious possibility.

At this point, some "experts" like to point out that not being a member of the Single Market means we don't get a say on the rules. That's a misnomer too.

First of all, it's doubtful we ever had much of a say over the rules – as one 28th of a bloc.

More importantly, regulatory convergence has gone global. Rules on finance or pharmaceuticals aren't made in regional blocs, but in worldwide trade bodies.

Leaving the EU allows Britain to regain her voice in international regulatory bodies – like the World Trade Organisation. We will now have more of a say on the international rules affecting our key industries, not less.

The IFS spent the referendum campaign stumping for Project Fear. They now seem to be a surrogate for the denialists of continuity Remain. It's well-known that they receive EU funding. Reports like this don't do much for their credibility.

What a pity that, six weeks since the referendum, pundits and "experts" still won't take seriously the points that Vote Leave made, and over 17 million people voted for.

09 AUG 2016

Is Pax Americana over?

Six months ago, the US sent $400 million in cash to Iran when four American hostages were released. In secret. Without telling Congress. President Obama claims it wasn't a ransom. Iran says otherwise. Ransom or not, it symbolises a worrying shift in US foreign policy.

The President says the $400 million was backdated payment for an arms deal made before the Shah was overthrown. But that seems pretty odd too. Why settle up now with the regime that forcibly overthrew him?

The cash looks all the more concerning in the context of the Iranian nuclear deal. In theory, that stops Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. In practice, not so much.

The deal lifted Western sanctions on Iran, worth billions of dollars. But the concessions in return were minimal. No destruction of centrifuges. No decommissioning of its plutonium reactor. Limited inspections.

Plus, it expires after 10 years. Not that the ayatollahs need that: Iran is already cheating according to German intelligence.

Yet none of this seems to concern the White House. Per Obama's chief foreign policy SpAd Ben Rhodes, the real achievement wasn't actually getting Iran to ditch its nuclear ambitions, but spinning the deal to the public.

The President seems to have pursued a policy of rapprochement with Iran no matter what. No matter its sponsorship of Hezbollah terrorism and Assad's genocide. No matter its avowed intention to destroy Israel. No matter its ruling regime's open and deep-seated hatred for the West, by which every American ally is a surrogate for the Great Satan.

The President tried the same approach with Putin: the Russian reset. The idea was that if America reaches out, peace follows. Events in Ukraine suggest otherwise.

As global policeman, the US hasn't always got things right – see Iraq and Vietnam. But in general it has been a positive force that kept rogue states in check.

Under Obama, it has retreated from that role. The question is: will that be a permanent shift, or a temporary holiday?

The next President will be either Obama's Secretary of State or an isolationist who seems to prefer the Kremlin to NATO. Either way, Pax Americana could be a thing of the past. Now we'll see how much we miss it.

08 AUG 2016

'Economic stimulus' is just corporate welfare

Taxpayer-owned RBS lost another £2 billion in the first half of 2016. Its shares are now worth less than half of what Gordon Brown paid for them. Yet policymakers still pretend that bailing out banks with public money is good for the public.

The Bank of England's unnecessary Brexit bailout includes another £100 billion for the big banks – such as RBS - plus another £10 billion to buy corporate bonds. Mark Carney calls it a stimulus package. The more accurate name for it is corporate welfare.

Printing money to give to banks doesn't come cost free. Ordinary savers and consumers have to pay for it via higher inflation – as Carney freely admitted. In effect, the banking elites who falsely claimed the economy would collapse if the majority voted Leave will now be paid a bonus with the majority's money.

For most people, corporate subsidy is the opposite of an economic stimulus. Channelling resources from savers and wealth creators to rentiers not only increases inequality, but also hinders real economic growth. It's one reason why productivity in the UK has flat-lined.

Because of the trillions pumped into zombie banks, the global economy is drowning in debt. If we want sustainable growth, we shouldn't be expanding corporate welfare; we should be cutting it.

05 AUG 2016

Brexit could transform international development

Criminal cultists. Hamas terrorists. Recent revelations about rogue recipients of British aid don't inspire confidence in DfID's due diligence. We're overdue a rethink of how we do international development – and Brexit makes it possible.

Foreign aid isn't just misspent in select cases. It's partly flawed in principle. Providing emergency disaster relief is absolutely right. But development aid is a different story.

The premise underpinning development aid is that the way to spread wealth is by simple redistribution from rich states to poor. But the history of the world in the 20th century shows that's not the case. As I pointed out in The End of Politics, there is no evidence of any link between aid inflows into a country and economic growth.

Take China. Fifty years ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world. Mass starvation was a regular occurrence. Today, it is an economic superpower. Its GDP per capita is almost 50 times what it was in 1962, and its total GDP is over 200 times greater.

That transition didn't happen thanks to handouts from the West, but through trade and investment. It's largely the same story in India, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Now compare Asia with Africa. Despite being home to two thirds fewer people than Asia, Africa receives more development foreign aid – around $56 billion in 2015, according to the OECD. Yet, year after year, much of the continent remains still desperately poor. Aid hasn't changed the paradigm.

It's not all bad news. Parts of Africa are taking off economically – but only thanks to foreign investment.

What many on the Left can't accept is that, from the perspective of the countries receiving it, trade is aid. It has brought millions of people permanently out of poverty in a way that handouts never can.

When Priti Patel, the new International Development Secretary, said aid should be linked to post-Brexit trade deals, Labour were predictably quick to criticise. But taking back control of our trade policy from Brussels finally allows us to make new trade deals with developing countries that will benefit both parties.

Brexit could transform the way we do development assistance for the better. How's that for internationalism?

04 AUG 2016

Will Mark Carney use Brexit to stoke a dangerous bubble?

The Bank of England is widely expected to cut interest rates to record lows today. We're supposed to believe that Brexit makes more monetary stimulus for the economy indispensable. But that's not what the evidence shows.

Since June 23rd, markets have gone up, not down. So has foreign investment. The pre-referendum Q2 economic data, which the "experts" predicted would show uncertainty depressing growth, turned out to be strong. Yes, sterling fell against the dollar, but it has steadied, and Britain's gaping current account deficit suggests that, in relative terms, it was overvalued before.

Granted, not all of the data has been good. The PMI index shows business confidence has been shaken. But how much of that is down to the Brexit hysteria stoked by George Osborne and the Bank's Governor, Mark Carney?

UKIP's Economy Spokesman, Mark Reckless, suggests the Bank's policymakers are determined to cut interest rates no matter what because they're still stuck in a Remain mindset. You can watch his take here.

I suspect the malaise goes deeper still. If the financial crisis showed anything, it's that the global economy is dangerously hooked on credit. But the lesson central banks the world over have taken seems to be that the withdrawal symptoms are worse than the drug.

Since 2008, central banks have done everything they can to boost borrowing and spending all over again. The aim is to create the illusion of sustainable growth. But – as we saw in 2008 – a credit-fuelled boom is dangerously unsustainable.

Brexit isn't just the latest excuse for more money printing. It's the scapegoat for the monetary policy disaster. As Mervyn King, Mark Carney's predecessor, has written, cheap credit is the systemic risk to the global economy.

Instead of casting around for someone else to blame, shouldn't central banks take some responsibility?

03 AUG 2016

Taking back control doesn't end with Brexit

Brussels is apparently demanding Britain foot the bill for the gold-plated pensions of British Eurocrats. Denialist Remainers might want to take note: this kind of thing is why over 17 million people voted Leave.

During the campaign, Remainers disparaged it. Since, some Leavers have downplayed it. But the truth is Vote Leave's message on the money – the £350 million figure – resonated with voters.


It was, partly, a question of fairness. When Britain is facing budget austerity, why are we funding EU budgets to rise? When the state pension is being squeezed, why should we bankroll a luxury retirement for ex-Commissioners like Peter Mandelson? Why be governed by a remote, rent-seeking elite when we can take back control?

I believe the potency of the £350 million argument goes further than the referendum. It could also herald a shift in the way we think about inequality.

From Karl Marx to Bernie Sanders, political campaigners claiming to want to clamp down on inequality have always advocated forced redistribution: more taxes on the rich; more Government intervention; more State, less private property.

But the EU shows up that socialist dogma. It's the ultimate centralised Big Government bureaucracy. And it's run by people who have rigged the system specifically to promote inequality: to enrich themselves – with inflated salaries and special tax rates – at taxpayers' expense.

Vote Leave put forward a different answer. We said the way to stop the racket isn't to give our rulers more power, but to take back control. Over 17 million people agreed.

Public sector privilege and cliquey corporatism aren't confined to Brussels. It's rife among our own ruling elite too. The solution isn't socialism; it's to give taxpayers more control over their money, and how their taxes are spent.

Could a political party win on that platform? The lesson from the referendum is that control sells.

02 AUG 2016

Honours are the tip of the cronyist iceberg

"David Cameron's resignation honours list is riddled with cronyism," scream the pundits! Where have they been for the last six years?

The honours system is legalised corruption. Never mind cash for peerages. For some, knighthoods and ennoblement are priceless. More than enough for a Prime Minister to buy their loyalty – and their principles.

The vast reach of Prime Ministerial patronage is part of what makes Parliament so powerless. On top of the whips and the payroll vote – which incredibly extends to almost a hundred ministers – the promise of honours offers an added incentive for MPs to toe the line. Loyalty is acquired with a mix of bullying and bribery. Whatever happened to inspired leadership?

But titles are only the tip of the iceberg. What about the quangos? What about the revolving-door regulators? What about the boards of business advisers, populated by the same few dozen Davos types? Corporate cronyism is everywhere in government.

And it cuts both ways. The post-politics careers of former ministers invariably involve consultancy roles and corporate directorships. Is that a reflection of their expertise? Or is it - implicitly at least - in return for services rendered while in office?

Nepotism in British government is supposed to have gone out with Northcote-Trevelyan over 150 years ago. Instead it has been allowed it to creep back in under the subterfuge of royal recognition.

Our new Prime Minister has spoken a lot about equality of opportunity. The old-boys network is meant to be making way for meritocracy. Reforming the honours system would be a good place to start.

01 AUG 2016

The next leader of UKIP faces three big questions

The deadline for nominations has closed. A range of different candidates – including, I gather, Steve Woolfe, Lisa Duffy, Jonanthan Arnott, Diane James, Bill Etheridge and Liz Jones - will now compete to be the next UKIP leader. The winner will be declared mid-September.

I wish them all well. They are all decent people, and each one brings something distinct to the party. But I am not going to be backing any one candidate in particular. Why?

As UKIP's only MP I must try to work closely with the party leader. This was not always very easy in the past, but with a bit of good will and trust all round, I'm sure it will be possible going forward. That means staying absolutely neutral in the leadership contest – and letting our members decide.

The identity of the candidate I vote for will be something I keep to myself. And to be honest, I've not made up my mind.

For what it is worth, I feel that the next leader of our party faces three key questions. If he or she is able to address them, they and our party will thrive. If not, we won't.

1. What is UKIP for?

Founded to get Britain out of the European Union, the obvious first question our next leader faces will be, "What is UKIP now for?"

It's my own view that our future lies in going after traditional Labour voters. They have been let down by the cartel that is the Labour party. They deserve something better.

Almost two thirds of those that voted Labour in Clacton in 2010, voted UKIP in 2015. That's how we won in Essex, and it's how we can win elsewhere too.

But the next leader needs ideas on how to appeal to traditional Labour voters without simply trying to offer reheated socialism.

That is what the Corbynistas are there for. They are not doing a great job of it because, in the age of Netflix, top-down Fabianism just does not have the kind of mass appeal it might once have had in the 1950s.

2. What is our election strategy?

UKIP has 22 MEPs, 7 members of the Welsh assembly, 2 in the London assembly and 1 MP.

Of those 32 elected representatives, the majority of them will – thanks to Brexit - no longer hold elected public office in a couple of years. Nor are there many big elections on the horizon.

So do we focus on building up our presence in local government? If so, we need to up our local election game. Or do we hold out for a by-election to try to get our new leader into Parliament? If we go for the by-election route, do we fight it like we fought Thanet South – lots of noise, focus on macro issues? Or should be try the "beyond the base" approach that worked in Clacton?

The new leader needs to have clear answers.

3. Leadership style

If UKIP is going to rise to the challenge, competent individuals need to be given clear mandates – and allowed to get on with delivering them.

All party leaders surround themselves with sidekicks. But when those sidekicks are incompetent proxies, waging war on anyone who does not show obsequious devotion to "the boss," serious people move on. If the king surrounds himself with too many court jesters, the court jesters become the court.

UKIP's next leader needs to be collegiate. Winning elections means working with people who understand policy, messaging, data and direct mail – to name just a few. There are capable people within our party with those skills. The new leader needs to bring them into the fold.

29 JUL 2016

Hinkley Point is what's wrong with Government procurement

So let's get this straight: Hinkley Point won't come online until at least 2025. The price we'll pay for the electricity it generates is double the market rate. The contractor, EDF, has a track record of failure. How is this a good plan?

The fact that two EDF directors have now resigned over Hinkley Point should set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall. Its Flamanville plant is years late and three-times over budget – but at least it's been built. But, according to EDF's finance director who quit a few months ago, Hinkley Point could actually bankrupt the company. If that happens, what then?

Making a deal with the French and Chinese governments to foot the infrastructure bill for Hinkley Point must have seemed tremendously clever to George Osborne. But it comes with serious risks. For one thing, they could pull the plug. For another, is it strategically sensible to put nuclear assets in the UK under the control of foreign governments?

Banking on this plant to deliver 7% of our total energy is a huge gamble by the Government – especially when Britain is already facing a capacity crisis.

It's not as if they're aren't alternatives. Gas power is cheaper to produce, and the power stations are cheaper, quicker, and simpler to build. Plus, leaving the EU will give us much more flexibility over energy policy on fossil fuels. In the short-term, at least, gas looks a much safer bet.

Hinkley Point is an example of what often goes wrong in public procurement. Rather than simple solutions that are proven to work, the Government tends to favour complicated programmes that are too big to succeed. See NHS Connecting for Health. Or the Joint Strike Fighter. Or the Millennium Dome.

Isn't it time to learn from past mistakes?

28 JUL 2016

Let's break BT's monopoly - and Ofcom's

BT Openreach delivers woefully slow broadband in much of the country. Its customer service is, by many accounts, sub-par. It's a classic state-backed monopoly. So why has Ofcom chickened out of breaking it up?

By owning the network as well as acting as a service provider, BT has an obvious unfair advantage over its competitors. That can only be bad for consumers – which is why I joined a cross-party group of MPs in signing a report calling for BT and Openreach to be broken up.

But instead of a real change, Ofcom have instituted only a 'legal separation.' BT will still own Openreach, but Openreach will now get a new board of directors ...with the non-execs appointed by BT. It's a façade.

Removing BT's artificial market advantage would have been a start. But even that wouldn't have come close to solving the fundamental problem: the fact that Openreach has a monopoly over the broadband infrastructure.

For consumers to get cheaper, faster broadband, it's that monopoly which has to be broken. We need more broadband networks. Why not allow other companies to run their cables alongside Openreach's?

Ofcom's soft touch points to a deeper issue in the way regulators relate to the market. Too often, Big Business seems to get off lightly, while consumers lose out.


Partly because there's a revolving door between the regulators and the companies they oversee. It's the crony corporatist cartel at work again.

We don't just need producer competition. We need regulatory competition. Instead of unaccountable, public regulators, we should be looking to create competition between private regulators. The better the regulator at serving consumers' interests, the more it - and the companies it oversaw - would be trusted by the public.

State monopolies are a recipe for failure. To put consumers first, disperse power.

27 JUL 2016

It was "Taking back control," not immigration, wot won it

Since the referendum, some Remain campaigners have made out Leave's victory was solely driven by angry nativism, and Britain is now radically polarised. Their narrative has been uncritically repeated in parts of the broadcast media. But a new report by British Future – a genuinely neutral observer – with polling by ICM suggests these articles of faith are really nonsense.

Here are some of their most interesting findings:

  • Sovereignty was the top Leave concern: '54% of Leave voters said that "taking power back from Brussels" was the main reason they voted as they did, more than double the 24% who cited immigration as their number one reason.'
  • There is a broad consensus on immigration control: 'Three quarters (74%) of people agree that "Immigration brings pressures as well as gains, and our decision to Leave the EU gives us a chance to change the system."'
  • And an even broader consensus on the status of EU nationals already in the UK: '84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three quarters (77%) of Leave voters.'
  • But voters on both sides disliked the tone of the immigration debate: 'A majority of Leave voters (52%) and UKIP supporters (53%) agreed that the debate on immigration in the campaign became dangerously overheated, with 80% of Remain voters feeling this way.'
  • Britain isn't necessarily an 'increasingly divided nation': 'In 245 out of 395 electoral districts the average person could easily expect to meet approximately the same number of people who voted differently from them in their main local high street.'
  • Continuity campaigning is holding Britain back: 'If the 48% tribe stays mobilised – and thinks it might ask the same question again – then the motley coalition of the 52% would have to stick together too, ready to refight the last war.'
  • A Brexit consensus is possible. If we transcend the tribalism, we can start to have new, productive debates: 'Many people will want to engage in the debate about what changes after Brexit could mean for the causes they care about.'

Have a read.

26 JUL 2016

Western guilt won't defeat terrorism

Nice, Munich, Ansbach, Würzburg, Reutlingen. Not a day seems to pass without a new act of terror in Europe, almost always with an Islamist motive. Security in our cities can no longer be taken for granted. Yet too many lazy assumptions remain unchallenged.

Europe is gripped by cognitive dissonance, writes the Spectator's Douglas Murray. He's right. Facts are being ignored because they conflict with predetermined narratives. That's a bad recipe for effective public policy.

After every terror attack, we still hear it argued that the victims are really the perpetrators.

The September 11th attacks were blamed, in some quarters, on American imperialism. The July 7th bombings in London on the Iraq war. Military adventurism didn't quite hold as a motive for the spate of atrocities in France over the last few years, so instead it was pinned on enforced deprivation in the banlieues.

What supposed oppression will be scapegoated for the recent attacks in Germany?

In some minds, only the West is capable of proactive violence. Non-Westerners only act with justifiable provocation. This is absurd inverse racism. Post-colonial guilt offers no protection against terror.

The only thing that Germany can be accused of is generosity. With several attacks perpetrated by presumed asylum seekers, Angela Merkel's magnanimous decision to admit so many people so quickly from Syria and elsewhere looks increasingly misguided.

It should be clear by now that mass immigration from a warzone where terror groups are ascendant poses security risks. Yet many remain unwilling to admit it. No matter the reality, the idea that all immigration is always beneficial is still considered sacrosanct.

Lone-wolf terrorism is difficult to eradicate. It can, however, be contained, and its effects mitigated. Israel, which has a far lower mortality rate per terror attack than Europe, shows how we might do it: a combination of low-tech defence mechanisms – e.g. concrete blocks around street targets – and high-tech tools – e.g. cyber-monitoring of radicals on social media.

But first our basic assumptions need to change. Self-loathing won't keep us safe.

25 JUL 2016

Boris can build a new consensus

Theresa May's decision to make Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary prompted howls of outrage in some quarters. But already the appointment looks inspired. Boris is showing that Brexit Britain will be optimistic and outward-looking. That's exactly the message we need.

As Foreign Secretary, Boris is delivering on the vision he presented as one of the leaders of Vote Leave. He envisaged a Britain that didn't wall itself into an outdated political union, but looked outward to new markets and global opportunities.

That message came across very clearly during the campaign. I saw it first hand when I joined Boris on Vote Leave's battle bus. His charisma may have drawn the crowds, but it was his message - Project Hope - which inspired them.

From the start, the received wisdom conveniently ignored the internationalism of the Leave campaign. Before the referendum, Brexiteers were smeared as parochial little Englanders. Now we're told the vote wasn't even about the EU, but just a bitter rebellion against globalisation. It's a narrative solely aimed at delegitimising the result.

Most people don't want to see Britain cut off from the world. Britain has always been a maritime, trading nation. Leaving the EU won't change that. Self-government doesn't mean isolation.

As the United States retreats from its role as global policeman under the current President, and perhaps even more so under the next, Britain may need to play a greater role in foreign affairs. European countries may have to put more resources into NATO. Cooperation with our allies will be increasingly vital to our national security. It's clear the new Brexit Government intends to deliver that.

Rather than provoke hysteria, Boris's appointment should actually reassure Remainers. The global outlook he is bringing to his new job offers the opportunity to both sides in the referendum for a new consensus. Let's help him build it.

22 JUL 2016

Labour voters deserve a better choice

Who represents Labour voters best? The unreformed Blairite who wants to ignore the referendum result? Or the unreformed Trotskyite who wants to scrap our nuclear deterrent? Don't they deserve a better choice?

In too many seats, voters have had too little choice for too long. Safe seats have made it too easy for candidates to get elected just because of the colour of their rosettes, and then ignore their constituents once the election is over.

Parliament has become a self-selecting cartel: instead of being chosen by voters, MPs are selected by – and loyal to – the party machine.

But cartel politics doesn't just undermine democracy. It also stops innovation, and entrenches bad ideas. Especially on the Left.

Successive Labour leaders have complacently assumed that Labour voters supported not just the EU, multiculturalism, and immigration, but also welfarism and fiscal irresponsibility.

What was once the workers' party has become paternalist and patrician: believing that all the masses want is more handouts bestowed upon them by the ruling elite.

The Left is disconnected from the times we live in. This isn't an era of passive receipt. This is the age of Twitter, Amazon, and Airbnb - where self-expression is expected, choice is normal, and disruptive innovation is progress.

In the modern world, one-party monopolies should be an anachronism. At the next election, I believe there will be huge opportunity for another party to give people in Labour seats still considered unlosable a real choice.

That party will need to offer a genuine alternative. It will need a plan to tackle both the rigged system that keeps political elites in power, and the rigged market that keeps corporate elites in the money. It will need to offer not handouts, but control.

I hope that party will be UKIP.

21 JUL 2016

In experts we trust?

Remember the post-Brexit economic Armageddon the 'experts' told us to expect? It's taken less than a month for them to admit they got it wrong.

Yesterday the Bank of England – which told us growth would plummet if we voted Leave - reported there is 'no clear evidence' of a slowdown. The IMF – which warned Brexit meant a recession – said, actually, it doesn't.

In reality, the economic data since the referendum is encouraging. The FTSE 100 is back in a bull market. The domestically oriented FTSE 350 is up too. ONS figures show unemployment is at record lows.

Yes, the pound has fallen, but - as Moneyweek's Merryn Somerset Webb points out – Britain's massive current account deficit suggests it was overvalued before.

It's tempting to believe some of the 'experts' now eating their words were deliberately dishonest during the referendum campaign. I suspect the truth is more prosaic. It wasn't a masterful conspiracy. Just groupthink.

The bogus Brexit predictions reflect a herd mentality. The 'experts' all produced the same conclusions, because they started from the same – false – assumptions.

They made out that a UK-EU free-trade deal wasn't possible. It clearly is.

They claimed we didn't know what Brexit looked like. In fact, our proposal was clear from the start.

'Experts' aren't infallible oracles. They can be as tribal as anyone else. Davos types don't think alike because they're great minds. They agree because they don't listen to the dissenters outside their bubble.

Is it any wonder they're out of touch with voters?

It's striking that the economic insiders who rejected the groupthink – Neil Woodford, Nick Train, Jim Mellon – are some of the top investors. People who made fortunes by ignoring the received wisdom, and separating themselves from the herd.

Trusting the 'expert consensus' can be high-risk. That's why I prefer to trust the people.

20 JUL 2016

Britain should welcome foreign investors

We were told Brexit would discourage foreign investment. The takeover of Arm by Japan's SoftBank shows what a fiction that was. Investors abroad want to keep buying into Britain. The question is: will our new government let them?

Theresa May welcomed the Arm deal. But she has also said she will assess foreign takeover bids on a case-by-case basis. She has now created a department for industrial strategy. The signs are a little ominous.

Asset stripping can of course be damaging. But there's also no reason why a foreign corporation should be more predatory than a British bidder. Attacking foreign investors would undermine the broader post-Brexit message that Britain is open for business.

More fundamentally, blocking takeovers is an assault on private property. Imagine your pension was invested in a British company that sparked foreign interest. Imagine the takeover bid made the share price spike (like Arm's), offering you a huge financial boost for your retirement. You'd probably want to sell. Why should the Government be able to stop you?

There's also the question of our investments abroad. British pension funds rely on foreign markets to diversify their portfolios. Emerging markets need British capital, and British investors can make good returns. If we put controls on foreign investment, what's to stop other countries doing the same to us?

The idea of 'industrial strategy' has a bad pedigree. It didn't work for Labour in the 1970s. It doesn't work in Defence. Government attempts to pick winners invariably produce losers – George Osborne's horrendous Hinkley Point deal being a case in point.

Micromanaging the economy from the centre is bound to fail. Concentrating control is the problem, not the solution. The PM is right to want to spread wealth. The way to achieve it is to disperse power.

19 JUL 2016

Trident is about sovereignty

I campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union because I believe in British sovereignty. Last night, I voted to replace Trident for the same reason.

The rationale for our independent nuclear deterrent is the same now as it was sixty years ago. When hostile powers and rogue states have nuclear weapons, we need them too.

The arguments against replacing Trident don't stack up.

It's too expensive, some say, as if surrendering a key pillar of our national security would be an economy.

We can shelter under America's nuclear umbrella, argue others. But in recent years the US has retreated from its role as global policeman. We can't just take its protection for granted. Nor would it be right for us to expect American taxpayers to pay for our security.

Then there are the resurgent Labour unilateralists. Jeremy Corbyn says we have to abolish Trident to create a 'nuclear-free world.' Anyone would think Britain were the only nuclear power on the planet.

Unilateralists are always conspicuously unconcerned about the nuclear capabilities of non-Western states. Who seriously believes the world would be a safer place if Russia, China, and North Korea were the only countries with nuclear weapons?

Mutually assured destruction has actually been remarkably effective at preventing nuclear war. The fact that no nuclear weapon has been used in anger since World War II, in spite of the Cold War, must be testament to that.

But Trident is not just about security. It's about independence. We don't need it only to deter a nuclear strike. We need it to stop another nuclear power holding us to ransom.

Preserving sovereignty requires the capability to use hard power if necessary. If we want to be a self-governing country, we can't give our nuclear deterrent up.

18 JUL 2016

The end of Osbrown?

The old Downing Street clique is out. We've got a new PM, and – perhaps more importantly - a new Chancellor. But will the new man at Number 11 ditch the Osbrown orthodoxy? Or will we just get more of the same?

In opposition, George Osborne styled himself as the radical alternative to Gordon Brown. In office, it was impossible to tell the difference.

Like Brown, Osborne borrowed during the boom years – doubling the national debt. Like Brown, he backed massive credit creation by the Bank of England. Like Brown, he tinkered incessantly with the tax code, and filled his budgets with political gimmicks.

Worst of all, like Brown, he now pretends to have saved the economy.

Eight years since the financial crisis, we're still facing the same problems. The big banks remain insolvent. Economic growth is still far too dependent on credit-fuelled consumption. Our huge current account deficit shows we're still spending far beyond our means.

Eight years of record-low interest rates haven't fixed the economy. Quite the reverse. The national debt is now so high, it's not even clear the British government would be able to bail out the banks if and when they collapse again.

Policymakers aren't prepared to do more than apply a short-term sticking-plaster: keeping zombie banks on life support by churning out credit.

The long-term solution requires the whole model of fractional reserve banking to be reined in - as I wrote several years ago in After Osbrown.

George has one advantage on Gordon: he got out before the storm. His dismissal by Theresa May might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for him.

Now Philip Hammond will be left to pick up the pieces. To fix the financial sector, he'll need to be radical.

15 JUL 2016

Cameron's legacy could be more direct democracy

I disagreed with David Cameron on a lot – which is why I left his party. But there is one aspect of his premiership which I think deserves praise: on three occasions, he called referenda, and let the people decide.

I'm a big believer in direct democracy. In a world where digital technology makes it easy for voters to be instantly clued in to current events, there's no justification for entrusting major national decisions to the political elite alone.

Since Britain's first referendum – Northern Ireland's vote on whether to join the Republic – in 1973, there have been a dozen others. But most have been local or regional. We've only ever had three national referenda. Two have been held in the last six years.

David Cameron called three significant referenda: on the Alternative Vote, Scottish independence, and Britain's EU membership. Yes, he did so under pressure. But the fact remains, he staked his political career on them, and ultimately lost.

Politics remains a cartel. Far too much power is still concentrated in a tiny clique at the top. Bringing back power from Brussels, under the new Brexit government, is a huge first step toward progress. The next will be bringing back power from Westminster and Whitehall.

That requires a government - and a party - far more radical than David Cameron's. But, intentionally or not, he has unleashed the momentum for change. Reformists now need to seize it.

14 JUL 2016

To solve inequality, Mrs. May, cut the corporatism

Theresa May's inaugural speech as Prime Minister focused on social justice. But her predecessor also promoted the 'Big Society.' In policy terms, it didn't amount to much. Patrician conservatism won't tackle inequality. The real solution is far more radical.

Inequality has increased not in spite of the last government, but, in part, because of it. George Osborne was a corporatist Chancellor. He backed monetary stimulus for broken banks. He subsidised corporate payrolls through the tax system. He tried to pick winners, and rig the market in the service of vested interests.

But the Official Opposition is no better. Ever since Rousseau, the left-wing answer to inequality has always been to redistribute wealth. Yet it has never succeeded. If anything, it has made the situation worse. In Venezuela – whose government Jeremy Corbyn admires – the population has starved while its Communist leaders live in luxury.

Redistribution fails because it just rigs the system in a different way. It channels wealth to a different privileged few. The real solution is the opposite. To solve the problem caused by rigging the market, Government has to stop rigging the market.

Think about your biggest financial challenges. Many of them are the direct result of public policy.

Houses unaffordable? The Treasury is stoking an unsustainable house price bubble.

Fuel bills going up? The Government is shutting power stations, and subsidising eye-wateringly expensive nuclear energy.

Broadband too dear? BT Openreach has a State-backed monopoly on the infrastructure.

No pay rise in years? Corporate tax credits and open-door immigration have let Big Business keep wages down.

Actually tackling inequality entails confronting vested interests. It requires overturning the certainties of both the corporatist right, and the redistributionist left.

The Labour party has no new ideas. I don't believe the Conservative party is capable of delivering change either – that's why I left it.

The radical agenda for progress is waiting to be seized. I hope UKIP takes it up.

13 JUL 2016

There's no justification for more candy-floss credit

The markets are up. The pound is rallying. The threat of big companies leaving Brexit Britain is evaporating. George Osborne's dream of economic Armageddon isn't happening. So why is Mark Carney about to cut interest rates?

In response to the referendum, the Governor of the Bank of England is promising more monetary stimulus. But why do we need it? Three weeks on, markets have already returned to normal.

That's not to say there aren't risks to the British economy. There are. They're just the same risks we were facing before the referendum: an unsustainable housing bubble; zombie banks; and far too much debt.

The problem is that interest rates have been too low for too long. Pension funds are being punished to prop up house prices. Capital isn't going where it's needed to increase productivity and sustain growth. To fix our economy, it needs to be weaned off credit.

But instead, the Bank of England is proposing to do the opposite. It looks to be planning more subsidy for banks. More house price inflation. Even lower interest rates, leaving pension funds even deeper in the red.

The real reason for cutting rates now may have more to do with China than Britain.

China recently devalued the renminbi, in an artificial bid to make its exports more competitive. It's fighting a currency war. As the Telegraph's Liam Halligan argues, Mark Carney may be following suit.

Printing money won't make us richer. Our economy will suffer because of it. But it's got nothing to do with Brexit.

12 JUL 2016

How to build the new Brexit consensus

Theresa May will be Prime Minister by tomorrow. She was a Remainer, but she has made clear Brexit means Brexit. No backsliding. No backdoor membership. No second referendum.

Many Leavers would have preferred to see a committed Brexiteer in charge. But the truth is any new PM would have faced the task of building a broad coalition behind Brexit. That coalition must include Remainers.

I believe many Remainers are interested in working with us to make Brexit a success. Our job is to reach out to them.

So how do we do it?

First, we have to keep our promises – starting with the status of EU nationals already living legally in the UK.

Both UKIP and Vote Leave have consistently maintained that EU nationals legally resident here before the referendum should have the indefinite right to remain. We need to allay their fears, and stick to our commitment.

Second, we need to put the outward-looking, optimistic outlook we upheld during the campaign into practice.

Let's welcome the offers Britain has already received from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and others to strike new trade deals. And let's keep working together, as good neighbours, with our European allies.

Third, we should find ways to reassure the most concerned sectors of our society and our economy.

Universities, for example, are worried about losing access to EU research collaborations and exchange programmes. But Britain doesn't need to be an EU member to participate in these schemes. Non-EU Israel participates in Horizon 2020. Non-EU Turkey is part of ERASMUS.

Leaving the EU doesn't mean losing positive bilateral UK-EU cooperation. We, on the Leave side, should push to make sure we keep it.

All the pre-referendum Remain rhetoric about post-Brexit British isolation has already been ditched. Angela Merkel has said she wants a good deal. Even George Osborne is making the case that Britain is open for business.

A new post-Brexit consensus is emerging. Let's help to build it.

11 JUL 2016

Remain rage needs to stop

Two weeks since the referendum, some on the Remain side still can't seem to accept the result. People who preach openness and respect now tell us – without irony - that over 17 million Leave voters are so gullible, stupid, and racist that their votes shouldn't count. This is divisive and dangerous. There has to be a better approach.

The minority who voted to Remain was undeniably large. But it was, nonetheless, a minority. The mandate from the majority was clear. Leave means Leave.

That doesn't mean, however, that the 48% should be ignored. We need to reach out to Remainers to bring as many people as possible with us as we negotiate our exit from the EU. I believe there is the will on the Leave side to do so – but it has to be reciprocated.

For some Remainers to make out that Leave voters were systematically deceived, or incapable of making an informed decision is simply a disgraceful attempt to subvert our democracy. The choice was clear from the outset.

We consistently campaigned for a new relationship between an independent Britain and the EU, based on continued tariff-free trade without continued free movement of people. That is what the majority voted for. That is the mandate for the next government to deliver.

The referendum campaign was emotionally charged, and the reaction to the result was bound to be too. But, now that some time has passed, level heads need to prevail. The campaign is over. We should now be focused on delivering the mandate from the electorate.

Bickering and recriminations will get us nowhere. The best outcome for Britain will come from a new national consensus around Brexit. I hope some Remainers will join us to build it.

08 JUL 2016

British politics is ripe for renewal

It's extraordinary how Britain's political establishment has been turned upside down. David Cameron's lame-duck government is pointless. Chilcot has taken Tony Blair to task. Labour is in crisis. Even the Greens are holding a leadership contest.

We're witnessing the decapitation of a political class – and it's exactly what Britain needs.

For years, this country has been governed by a cosy clique. In recent decades, there has been nothing to choose between the big parties. Too many assumptions have gone unchallenged – from the size of the State, to monetary policy, to immigration.

Parliament, which once facilitated a contest between different visions, has collapsed into a narrow technocratic consensus. As the referendum revealed, the real dividing line in British politics today isn't between parties. It's between the Westminster bubble and the electorate.

It's fashionable in certain parts of the commentariat to bemoan the "uncertainty" of the current political climate. Many seem to want this exceptional period to end as soon as possible.

I think that attitude is a mistake. This is the first chance Britain has had in decades to have a genuine, wide-ranging political debate. We shouldn't be afraid of it. We should be embracing it.

The political class now has a rare moment to pause and reflect. To challenge failed political orthodoxies, and present alternatives. To stop imposing ideology on the country from the top down, and start listening to what British citizens actually want.

This could be the start of a political renaissance. Let's not squander the opportunity.

07 JUL 2016

Credit - not Brexit - is the economic threat

Project Fear has predictably proved overblown. Yes, sterling has fallen against the dollar. But the FTSE 100 is now over 3% higher than it was before the vote. UK gilt yields have hit new lows. Investors aren't deserting Britain.

Across the Channel, though, it's a different story. The CAC 40 – France's top share index – is down over 7% since June 23rd. So is Germany's Dax 30. Italy's FTSE MIB has fallen 14%.

More worrying is what's happening to Europe's financial sector. Italy is facing a full-blown banking crisis. Deutschebank's share price has been in freefall for almost a year.

Corporate elites have been quick to blame British voters. But why should Brexit affect Eurozone banks and markets more than British ones? It's not a credible argument.

The truth is there are systemic problems with the global banking system. We didn't suddenly create them two weeks ago.

The real source of instability is something I've been writing about for years: dangerously loose monetary policy.

Ever since the Greenspan Put in the 1980s, central banks the world over have been flooding economies with cheap credit. The aim has always been to prevent economic slowdown. The result has always been the opposite.

By manipulating the price of capital, the real value of assets was obscured. Stock and property markets became bubbles. The world's biggest banks ended up overleveraged, overexposed, and ultimately insolvent – as we found out in 2008.

Policymakers assure us the banking system has been fixed. In reality, nothing has changed. Six months ago, UKIP in Parliament published a policy paper predicting another European banking collapse. Now we've been proved right.

Brexit isn't to blame for the failure of global finance. Monetary policy is. Another financial crisis is inevitable. This time, let's get the cause right.

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?

02 JUN 2016

The EU can never be reformed

This week, William Hague claimed if we vote Remain the EU can be reformed. What does he think every UK government has tried and failed to do for the past 40 years?

Wasn't that what David Cameron's 'renegotiation' was meant to achieve?

If the Eurocrats won't concede any real reform when our membership is at stake, what do you think we'll get if we meekly submit and vote to stay?

If we vote to Remain, there will be risks. A failed Eurozone, massive EU unemployment, mass migration, and more.

Not being in the EU means being like most countries in the world – most of whom grow faster than those inside the EU.

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.

17 MAY 2016

On the road to independence!

I'm on the Vote Leave battle bus today. We're making the case for Brexit across the West Midlands. If you're nearby, come and show your support!

Travelling around Britain over the campaign so far, I've seen unbelievable support for Leave. Vote Leave banners are popping up in windows, on cars, and by railways. Volunteers are leafletting in every town centre. Eurosceptics are uniting across the country.

There's a long way to go, but we really can win this.

Just the fact that there is so much support shows how disingenuous the other side has been. If you listened to Remainers, you'd think everyone in Britain was on their side. All the business leaders back the EU, they tell us. All the investors. All the educated classes. All the experts.

But it's a fiction. More and more business leaders are supporting Leave – small businesses especially. So are top entrepreneurs and economists. Don't tell Karren Brady, but even football managers are backing Brexit.

The Remainers don't get why the polls aren't moving in their direction. George Osborne has called in all his favours. IMF staffers have fabricated their most outlandish statistics. Even President Obama has made a cameo. Yet nothing has worked.

The reason is simple. EU interference affects every aspect of our lives. Millions of people know they'd be better off out, because the EU makes their lives more difficult every day. They don't need to be patronised into submission by Establishment elites.

Six weeks out from the referendum, we're on the road to Brexit. One last push and we'll make it happen. We still need your support. Join the growing campaign to take back control.

16 MAY 2016

How Brexit will make you better off

"How does the EU affect me and my family?" It's a question I hear a lot on the campaign trail. With six weeks to go until the referendum, lots of people still feel they don't know how it will affect their lives.

So here are some concrete ways voting Leave will make you better off:

  • Better public services. Every week, Britain hands over control of £350 million to the EU. That's enough to build over 50 new hospitals a year. If we vote Leave, we'll be able to spend our money on our priorities.
  • Higher wages. Uncontrolled immigration from the EU has depressed wages, especially in the lowest-paid jobs. If we vote Leave, we'll be able to control immigration, so pay will go up. Even the leader of the Remain campaign admits that.
  • New jobs. EU red tape costs British businesses £600 million a week. If we vote Leave, we can set our businesses free, creating jobs in the process.
  • Cheaper energy. EU energy rules have forced Britain to shut power stations and pushed up our bills. If we vote Leave, we can cut regulation, and cut our costs.
  • Lower prices. EU tariffs make imports from the rest of the world artificially expensive. If we vote Leave, we'll still have access to the European Single Market, but we won't face tariffs, and we'll make new trade deals with non-EU countries. More free trade means lower prices.
  • Affordable homes. One reason so many young people can't afford to buy a home is the strain uncontrolled immigration from the EU puts on the housing market. If we vote Leave, we'll ease the pressure.
  • More security. The EU is a failed project. It can't manage its borders, its currency, or its economy. Giving unaccountable Eurocrats so much power over our lives is a huge risk. Voting Leave is the safer option.

We'll all be better off if we vote Leave and take back control.

13 MAY 2016

Remain 'experts' are reading from a lobbyist's script

Yesterday Mark Carney joined the parade of 'independent experts' warning us about the catastrophic consequences of Britain becoming a self-governing nation. Doesn't it all seem a bit too rehearsed?

Carney claims Brexit will cause a recession. He said this the day after new statistics showed that UK manufacturing is now in recession for the third time in 8 years.

Our manufacturing sector – like so much of Europe's economy – is being held back by red tape and high energy costs imposed on us by Brussels.

But there's a reason why the so-called experts are pretending otherwise.

Earlier this year, I attended a rather opulent summit for Anglo-French grandees. It was full of corporate captains and mandarins. There was lots of talk about how to derail Vote Leave. Almost alone, I argued Britain would be better off out.

During the discussion, Remain lobbyists appealed directly to the assembled grandees to help intimidate the public into voting the way they want.

"Warn them about the dire consequences of leaving," one suggested.

Mark Carney wasn't there that day, but other senior Bank of England officials were. Similar discussions have no doubt taken place at the Bank.

We're meant to think that all these 'experts' are speaking as independent authorities. In reality, they are part of an orchestrated attempt by Downing Street spin doctors to manipulate the public.

But this will be their undoing. At no point have the Remainers made a positive case for EU membership. They treat the public like small children. And the public doesn't like to be patronised.

If there were a positive case for Remain, we would have heard it from Mark Carney. Instead all we get is these bogus lines cooked up in collusion with Number 10.

Somehow I don't think Britain is going to come to heel this time.

12 MAY 2016

In Gordon we trust?

Britain can't make it outside the EU, says Gordon Brown. He's never been wrong before, right?

Lest we forget, here are some of Gordon's greatest mistakes:

  • Sold the gold. Gordon swapped Britain's gold reserves for euros when gold fetched less than $300 an ounce. Now it's worth nearly $1300 an ounce. That's a loss of some $13 billion to the taxpayer.
  • Doubled the national debt. Even without counting all the PFI and pension liabilities he hid off balance sheet.
  • Abolished boom and bust. He said he'd beaten the business cycle. Reality begged to differ...
  • Didn't spot the financial crisis. In 2008, Britain's biggest banks faced total collapse. The Chancellor never saw it coming.
  • Bailed out the banksters. The Brown bailout was one of the biggest transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich in British history – yet the banks are still as broken as before.
  • Never got elected PM. Gordon was handed the keys to Number 10 by Tony Blair, Labour's most successful PM ever, who won three successive elections. He couldn't win one.
  • Lost Labour Scotland. Labour used to be Scotland's dominant party. Today even Gordon's old constituency is an SNP stronghold.

Now Gordon Brown is taking a leading role in the Remain campaign. What could possibly go wrong?

11 MAY 2016

Vote Leave, raise wages

Remainers claim the EU is 'good for the economy'. Really?

Countries inside the EU's single market happen to be the ones performing less well.

Yesterday Iain Duncan Smith highlighted some of the costs that come from being in the EU: depressed wages, inflated house prices, overstretched public services.

The sort of people who fly club class at someone else's expense might like the project. It was, after all, built for and by people like them. Not everyone else gains.

As Britain came out of the last recession there was - for the first time ever - no rise in wages. Why? Perhaps the import of cheap labour had something to do with it?

Free movement from the EU affects house prices too. As demand rockets, prices have to rise. That's one of the reasons so many young people today can't afford to buy a home.

It also affects public services. The NHS is struggling to cope with the pace that demand is rising. The status quo isn't sustainable.

Elites are quick to sneer at the idea of controlling migration. "Little Englanders pulling up the drawbridge," they proclaim.

But no one in Vote Leave is talking about closing our borders. We simply want to control them. Like Australia, we want to be able to decide who comes, and with what skills.

Establishment Europhiles are indifferent to the effect of the EU on wages, because their salaries aren't affected.

If we vote Leave, wages will rise .... as even the leader of the Remain campaign has admitted.

10 MAY 2016

British business is backing Leave

The BCC's new referendum poll of British business is significant. It doesn't just demonstrate a marked shift towards Leave. It also shows that, among businesses that either trade domestically or only export to non-EU countries, Leave supporters are the majority.

Why is this so important?

Domestic traders and non-EU exporters represent 94% of British business. The BCC's overall result doesn't reflect this, because the survey is skewed towards EU exporters.

But the data tells the real story. The lion's share of British business, which doesn't trade with the EU, clearly wants Britain to leave.

Even those businesses that do sell to the EU increasingly recognise that access to the single market does not depend on being in the single market. There is tariff-free trade from Iceland to Turkey, even if we vote Leave.

No wonder the polls are moving in favour of Brexit.


10 MAY 2016

Desperate Remain is a smear campaign

Yesterday the Remainers were warning us Brexit would cause World War III. Now they're making out Boris Johnson is Putin's man in Uxbridge. I don't know if it's because we're level in the polls, but they're really getting desperate.

Boris Johnson's liberal case for Leave was a tour de force. Voting Leave, he argued, is the logical conclusion of David Cameron's own case for the reform he never got. If you value your freedom, he concluded, don't give it up to the Eurocrat elite.

Boris's speech was measured, reasoned, and sensible. The Remain response was anything but. Instead of trying to refute his arguments, they accused him of being an apologist for Vladimir Putin. Nowhere in Boris's speech was Putin mentioned. It's a pathetic smear.

Vladimir Putin is thoroughly reprehensible. Under his rule, Russia has regressed from a nascent liberal democracy to an authoritarian autocracy. He tyrannises his own people. What he has done in Ukraine is indefensible.

But here's the irony of the Remainers' smear campaign: if you care about containing Russian aggression, if you want a strong NATO, if you believe in Britain's national security, then the logical thing to do is to vote Leave.

If we stay in the EU, we will ultimately be forced into a pan-European army. That means giving up control of our military. And for what? Britain and France are the only two Western European countries capable of projecting force – and we already have bilateral military cooperation. Just like with the Common Fisheries, we have everything to lose, and nothing to gain.

The idea that subcontracting our national security to the European Commission makes us safer is patently absurd – and the British people can see it. That's why the Remain campaign is resorting to ad hominem abuse. They're losing the argument.

09 MAY 2016

Patronising the public will lose Cameron this referendum

First we were told Brexit could mean the end of the Premier League. Then they said it would destroy London's economy. Yesterday George Osborne told us house prices would collapse. Today David Cameron is predicting world war.

Intimidating the public into voting the way Downing Street wants might sound like a good idea late at night in Chequers. In the sunshine of a spring morning, it looks ridiculous.

I am increasingly confident that the Remain side are going to lose the referendum, and one of the reasons is because of the cackhanded way the Remain side are making their case.

At no point has anyone on the Remain side made a positive case for Britain being in the EU. "It's rubbish, but we need to remain" is their pitch.

Downing Street started off assuming that undecided voters would be bowled over by David Cameron's fabulous new deal. It turned out to be a damp squib.

The Remain side seems to assume the public is going to recoil at the supposed risks of voting to leave. It turns out that the public rather resent ministers talking down Britain.

It is a little hard to keep suggesting that the whole idea of self-government is far too complicated and risky, when you are the government.

Downing Street has badly misjudged the mood.

There is an honest, honourable case to be made for Britain's membership of the EU. It's not a view I share, but there are valid points to be made.

Instead of making them, the Downing Street clique are taking the electorate for fools, talking down at them. This endless succession of obviously bogus stories about the dire consequences of what will happen if we vote to leave is starting to grate.

Far from convincing undecided voters, it screams out at them that this is how the political elite think that you think. You can be patronised ("No more football"), lied to ("The price of your house will fall") and bamboozled ("All the experts say we must stay") into voting the way they want.

Yet the public know that there is nothing outlandishly risky, reckless, or irresponsible about wanting to be a self-governing country. If David Cameron has confidence in his case, why can't he make it honestly?

He doesn't. And every time he keeps patronising the punter, he declares it.

06 MAY 2016

Is this news .... or just a journalist's script?

When we watch the news, we are being shown what's going on, right? The journalist is giving us a report on how things are. Actually, no.

Since I became an MP, I've discovered that many "news" stories have actually been scripted by a producer. Sure, they want to tell a story. But their story does not always entail reporting the way things are.

First, a producer decides what story they want to tell. Then they cast around for people to say what they want said to camera. Again and again, producers will phone me to see if I'm willing to say something that tallies with the narrative.

They are not phoning round to establish and then report opinion. They have decided what needs to be said. Then pitch for folk to say it.

These efforts at casting are often comically absurd.

In the past 24 hours I had one TV journalist ask if I would come on to discuss the Conservative party's response to yesterday's elections. When I pointed out that I was a UKIP MP they paused, before saying they'd ring back. Presumably they'd forgotten to up date their list of disgruntled Tory backbenchers.

Next, a radio producer invited me to go on air to talk about Lord Dubs "as one of his well-known opponents".

Come again? I've never met Lord Dubs. Nor was I aware of my "well-known opposition" to him.

Of course, what the Guardianista producer meant is that they wanted someone to go on air and sound frightfully right wing and say lots of beastly things about the noble Lord. But they couldn't put it quite like that....

When filming in Poland recently, a deputy mayor waxed lyrically to me on camera about the need for his town to team up with a city in China. Far from disagreeing with the Brexit point of view, he said things that reinforced the idea that we should look to the wider world. Curiously his off script comments never made it through the editing process.

One of the reasons people are so disaffected with politics is because they regard politicians as bogus. But part of the reason politics looks bogus is the way the establishment media presents it.

The trouble is the public increasingly see through it. In America, the mainstream media are mistrusted just as much as the political class. The same thing has started to happen in Britain.

So here's an idea for the media moguls: why not report events as they are, not how your producers want to script them?

05 MAY 2016

Turkey's return to illiberalism should worry us

What has happened to Turkey? How has the country of Ataturk become the country of Erdogan? Turkey reflects a Middle East in cultural regress. But it's also an indictment of Western foreign policy.

Turkey once seemed to be moving towards liberal democracy. It enabled a secular culture to flourish. It joined NATO. It was an ally of the West in a Soviet-dominated region.

But today Turkey is moving towards Islamism and nationalism. Its president suppresses protest and press freedom while increasing his own power. It has been ambivalent over the crisis in Syria unfolding on its borders.

Turkey's retreat into illiberalism is sad. It's also alarming. Another Islamist power in the Middle East won't just make that region even less safe, but ours too.

Yet – incredibly - the EU is banking on Erdogan's Turkey to keep us safe.

Under the new deal rubber-stamped by the Eurocracy yesterday, the EU will pay Turkey billions, and give 75 million Turkish citizens visa-free access to Schengen countries. In exchange, Turkey will promise to control its border with Syria. What the EU practically gets in return isn't clear.

Turkey has stopped even pretending to try to liberalise, but that doesn't stop it getting what it wants out of Europe. The EU is now an enabler of Turkey's repressive regime.

Turkey's pivot to Islamism also reflects America's lack of leadership. For the last half century, the US was the world's great power. People were often quick to criticise American interventionism. But now we see what the world looks like without it. Restrained, rudderless, retreating America has allowed frenemies like Turkey to become regional challengers.

The post-Pax Americana world doesn't bode well for Europe.

04 MAY 2016

Is Donald Trump the new Wendell Willkie?

Donald Trump is now virtually certain to be the Republican nominee. For someone fighting his first election, it's a remarkable achievement. But is he America's next president? Or is he the new Wendell Willkie?

Trump isn't the first political outsider to win the Republican nomination.

The closest parallel might be Wendell Willkie.

Like Trump, Willkie was a rich Manhattan big businessman who claimed he couldn't be bought by vested interests. Like Trump, Willkie was a former Democrat. Like Trump, Willkie divided Republican opinion.

Willkie won the Republican nomination in 1940. But he went on to lose the Presidential election to FDR. Will the same happen to Trump?

Trump has beaten the Republican establishment. But beating the Democratic establishment looks trickier. Trump trails Hillary Clinton by some distance in head-to-head polls. Millions of Americans love him, but millions more despise him.

Hillary should be beatable. She is the ultimate political insider, as deeply entrenched on Wall Street as she is in Washington. She is tainted by scandals, some of which are still under criminal investigation. She has neither the charisma nor the novelty of Obama. Her only Democratic opponent is a seventy-four year-old socialist, and she is struggling even to overcome him.

In an anti-establishment election season like this, the establishment candidate shouldn't win. This ought to be the wrong place and the wrong time for Hillary Clinton. Yet to many Americans, she still looks like the lesser of two evils.

It's possible Trump will beat Clinton in November. It's more likely that he'll lose. If that happens, isn't it possible he's not the right kind of insurgent after all?

03 MAY 2016

UKIP Spring

Spring is here - and the outlook has never been brighter for UKIP.

Britain's creaking old political cartel is falling apart.

The Conservative party has the slenderest Commons majority, and is led by a clumsy Downing Street duo, staggering from one blunder to the next.

The Labour party has exited stage left from mainstream politics.

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are on a holiday from history.

The cartel consensus is crying out to be broken. UKIP is the party to do it.

Look at Wales. UKIP is consistently polling at record highs. We have first-class candidates standing in this week's Welsh Assembly elections. If they win, they will bring a new energy and freshness to an assembly that has been dominated by one party for far too long.

The big parties have failed because they have cut the people off from power. UKIP stands for bringing power back to the people at every level. More power for local communities and individuals. Less power in the hands of remote bureaucrats.

Freedom and direct democracy, or the tired old status quo? I think UKIP's future looks bright!

29 APR 2016

The Left cannot deal with anti-Semitism until it makes peace with Israel

What is it with Labour and anti-Semitism? All parties have bad eggs – mine is no exception. But anti-Semitism is a persistent problem on the British Left. Why?

Part of the issue is political opportunism. There are sectors of the electorate where taking an ostensibly anti-Israel, essentially anti-Semitic, stance is a vote-winner. The Left is not immune from pandering to prejudice.

But let's face it: plenty of those caught out in recent weeks weren't pandering. They said what they actually believed.

The problem is that the postmodern, post-nationalist Left has an issue with the idea of national self-determination. And no modern country embodies that more than Israel.

Right now, Jews are celebrating Passover. Every year, for over two millennia, Jews have marked it with the words "next year in Jerusalem." With the foundation of Israel in 1948, that hope finally became a reality.

But Israel isn't just the fulfilment of an ancient national project. It's also an incredible modern success story. 60 years ago, it was a developing, agricultural country. Today, it has a sophisticated, high-tech economy – making Intel microchips and cutting-edge cancer drugs. Its GDP per capita is over six times higher today than it was in 1950.

Israel's success is the reason many left-wingers hate it. Israel has gone from strength to strength. Many on the Left saw national self-determination as an outdated relic. Israel has proved them wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn claims he'll deal with anti-Semitism in his party. But until he deals with the endemic anti-Zionism nothing will change. If the Left is serious about stamping out anti-Semitism, it needs to make peace with the idea of national self-determination.

28 APR 2016

Brussels is strangling small business

EU red tape costs small business billions. The PM's renegotiation was meant to lift the burden of EU regulation on SMEs. It failed. The only way to set small businesses free is to vote Leave.

Small business is the core of Britain's economy. It accounts for 47% of private sector turnover, and 60% of private sector employment. It's also often the source of the disruptive innovation that produces economic progress. Better conditions for SMEs means more jobs and more prosperity.

But Brussels is holding small business back. EU legislation covers every area of commerce. Packaging goods? Check you've complied with EU standards. Designing an appliance? Make sure you've followed the eco-design directive. Selling food? Don't forget to put the right EU-approved label on it.

The burden falls heaviest on SMEs. Big corporations can afford entire compliance departments to apply the rules – and expensive lobbyists to write them in the first place. SMEs don't have the same resources. The EU lets the big players keep out competition by rigging the market.

EU red tape costs our economy hundreds of billions of pounds – according to the Government's own figures. Based on official impact assessments, the annual cost of EU regulation is over £33 billion.

That's only part of it. Factor in quotas and trade barriers too, and the bill is much higher. In 2005, the Treasury estimated that these cost European consumers up to 7% of GDP – which for Britain comes to £125 billion a year. That's £4,639 per household, or £23,236 per company.

EU trade makes up 10% of our economy. But 79% of British businesses exclusively cater to the domestic market. Why should EU red tape apply to 100% of our economy?

To free small business, create jobs, and grow our economy, we need to repeal restrictive regulation. We can only do that outside the EU.

28 APR 2016

Want more bobbies on the beat? Vote for it!

People often say we need more bobbies on the beat. Now you have the chance to make that happen. Next week's PCC elections make the police directly accountable to the people they serve.

The idea of elected sheriffs – which I first proposed some 14 years ago – isn't just about police accountability. It's also about localism. Different regions have different issues with crime. Local people need the right to determine local police priorities.

PCCs faced a lot of criticism when they were introduced four years ago. But they've proved the doubters wrong. Best of all, they have overthrown ACPO – the quango that used to set one-size-fits-all policy from the top down. Localism is working.

And PCCs are only going to get better. In 2012, the election turnout was low, as people weren't sure how the new system was going to work. Now people are familiar with the system, and can judge the incumbents on their records, elections will be harder fought, and turnout will be higher. More public engagement means better policing.

If locally elected police chiefs work, why stop there? Plenty of public services are still centrally directed by remote bureaucrats in Whitehall. What if we had locally elected transport, environment, or health commissioners too? What if we gave people direct control over the public services they receive?

Localism is a question of trust. Do you trust the Gentlemen in Whitehall – or Brussels – to know what's best for you? Or do you trust yourself? Better public services will come from more direct democracy.

27 APR 2016

Eurocrats or doctors? That's the referendum choice

The NHS is strapped for cash – and I don't just mean junior doctors' pay. Clacton's Peter Bruff ward, which provides essential mental health services, is being shut just to save a few quid. But instead of more funds for healthcare, Britain sends £350 million a week to the EU.

Health may be a protected Government budget, but it isn't half as protected as our tribute to Brussels. In 2009, Britain's EU membership fee was £14 billion. By 2015, it was £18 billion. This year, it's forecast to be over £20 billion.

Where does that money end up?

Increasingly, in officials' pockets.

Doctors may be facing pay restraint, but the same can't be said for Eurocrats. In EU institutions, above inflation annual pay rises are a matter of course. Extra allowances and gold-plated pensions come as standard. To cap it all, EU officials pay a special, discounted rate of tax.

Self-serving Euro elites live in luxury on money extorted from European taxpayers, while paying only a pittance themselves. Isn't this what the peoples of Europe revolted against 200 years ago?

By voting Leave, we can reclaim our taxpayers' money to spend on our priorities. £350 million a week makes a lot possible. The junior doctors' impasse could be solved in just one fortnight – with no more lives risked by walk-outs.

Do we fund better healthcare, or more modern-day Marie Antoinettes? It's your choice.

26 APR 2016

UKIP stands up for steel

For Britain's economy as a whole, steel is important. But for the economy of South Wales – where I'll be today – it's crucial. Losing the steel industry would be devastating. But that's what could happen if we stay in the EU.

Brussels makes it much harder for British steelmakers to do business. The EU's anti-fossil-fuel directives and regulations have driven up energy costs – and heavy industry is paying the price.

While Chinese manufacturers make the most of cheap power, fuel costs for ours have rocketed. EU interference in our energy market is making it impossible for our industry to compete.

The EU also stops us taking action to keep our steel industry afloat.

Tata's Port Talbot steelworks pays close to £10 million in business rates every year. But EU state-aid rules prohibit the Welsh Government from materially reducing that bill. Thanks to Brussels, we can't cut our own taxes, even when they're meant to be devolved to Wales.

Overproduction of steel in China is making it especially difficult for British steelmakers to break even. But, as EU members, we can't take action against Chinese steel dumping.

So what could we do if Britain leaves the EU?

To give our steel industry a sustainable future, we need to give our manufacturers the freedom to compete. That means lowering their taxes, and cutting their energy bills.

The Remainers talk about the 'economic benefits' of the EU as if they are spread equally. In reality, the gains are restricted to an elite few.

25 APR 2016

Let's make June 23rd a real independence day

Independence Day 2 will be released in Britain on referendum day - June 23rd. Trailers show London being destroyed by an alien invasion. Like any Hollywood blockbuster, no doubt the humans eventually win. Will we take back our independence in real life too?

In the myriad films about an alien conquest, the assumption is always that Earth is better off independent. No one ever says, "these aliens will give us access to a galactic market; maybe surrendering our planetary sovereignty wouldn't be so bad."

Millions of movie-goers pay to watch fictional characters fight for their freedom against impossible odds. But our real-life leaders have grown much more timorous.

The Defence Secretary says we can't fight wars on our own anymore.

The Chancellor tells us – perhaps from personal experience – we can't successfully manage our own economy.

The Prime Minister flies in foreign leaders to tell us the world will put us on the naughty step if we don't do as we're told.

Project Fear's case for staying in the EU is rooted in defeatism. Never mind that Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and a permanent member of the UN Security Council; we're told we're too small to go it alone. President Obama's message to Britain is, "No You Can't."

The trouble with defeatism is that it's self-fulfilling. Britain is not a subservient satellite state, but it will become one if we surrender our future and our freedom to the failing European project.

Unlike Will Smith and his 2016 successors, we're not facing insurmountable odds. A vote to leave the EU is a vote to become an independent, sovereign country again – like most other countries beyond Europe's borders. It's a vote for the safety and security that comes with control.

Let's kick our alien overlords out, and make June 23rd a real independence day.

22 APR 2016

Brexit will sow the seeds of change

My vegetable garden in Clacton is where I go to escape politics. With the EU referendum looming, I rarely get much chance to go there. But even when I do, I recently discovered I can't escape Brussels.

You see, I recently ordered some seeds from It's a small, independent business which sells a huge variety of open-pollinated seeds for proper vegetables – not the hybrid seeds behind the tasteless produce sold by big, corporate supermarkets.

But it turns out the European Commission wanted to introduce a new EU Seed Law to regulate the varieties of seeds that could be sold.

What possible justification for EU regulation of trade in vegetable seeds could there possibly be?

The EU's assault on seed was classic Commission corporatism. In every industry, small firms that can't afford lobbyists and compliance departments get crowded out by Big Business buddying up with Brussels bureaucrats to rig the rules.

Gardeners of Britain, Vote Leave! (And buy lots of seeds from small, independent producers .....)

21 APR 2016

Brexit will create more and better jobs

Unemployment is up. Project Fear predictably points the finger at the prospect of Brexit. But to create not just more but better jobs, we need controlled immigration, less business regulation, and more free trade. For that, we have to vote Leave.

Unemployment may still be low, but for many people in Britain it's not easy to find a job. EU free movement rules have hugely increased the labour supply, as millions of EU nationals have come to the UK in search of higher pay. In-work tax credits and the rising minimum wage have only added to the incentive.

Because the labour supply is limitless, wages have stagnated – particularly at the lower end of the labour market. People applying for those jobs are facing more competition for less reward.

Open-door immigration is one of the reasons Britain's economic 'recovery' has been so unconvincing. The combination of zombie banks and a cheap workforce has pushed businesses to be labour, rather than capital, intensive. Instead of investing in new technology to become more efficient, companies have relied on low-wage workers. Consequently, our productivity has also stagnated.

The EU is an obstacle to productivity in other ways too. Reams of business regulation prevents innovation, and costs British businesses an estimated £600 million every week. Trade barriers stop us accessing expanding global markets beyond the borders of the world's only declining trading bloc.

If we leave the EU, we can rebalance our economy. We can have a fair, points-based immigration system, which prioritises high-skilled labour that complements capital, rather than low-skilled labour that acts as a substitute for it. We can repeal the regulation holding our business back. We can enable our companies to go global.

Controlled immigration, faster innovation, and wider trade means not just more jobs, but better-paid jobs too. Make it happen: vote Leave.

20 APR 2016

We don't need EU membership to have European friends

Last week, I visited Świdnica – Clacton's Polish twin - for the first time. Our bilateral ties prove something important: we don't need to be in the EU to be have strong friendships in Europe.

Świdnica has a fascinating history. For most of the last 500 years, it has been under foreign rule.

In the late 14th century, it moved from Polish to Czech control. In the 16th century, the Austrian Habsburgs took over. In the 18th century, it was annexed by Prussia. It was returned to Poland at the end of World War II, only to be part of a Communist USSR satellite state. It wasn't until the fall of Communism that Świdnica was truly restored to independent Polish rule again.

Yet Świdnica is also a monument to national sovereignty. Its most famous building is the Church of the Peace, which commemorates the Peace of Westphalia. Those peace treaties created the Westphalian system of sovereign nation states that underpins international law to this day.

I went to Świdnica – courtesy of Sky News - to talk about the referendum. Because of the EU, national sovereignty is under threat. Foreign rule is reasserting itself in both Clacton and Świdnica, only this time it's bureaucrats in Brussels in charge.

The EU's erosion of national sovereignty doesn't just motivate Brexiteers in Britain. It worries Poles too. Poland has just elected a Eurosceptic government. When you think about the history of a town like Świdnica, you can understand why. The Remain campaign's pretence that everyone in Europe is passionately pro-EU except us is just not true.

Taking back control from Brussels doesn't mean cutting Britain off from Europe. It means a different relationship with Europe. Ties based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not customs union rules and common laws.

The wonderful people I met in Świdnica made it crystal clear that, whatever happens in the referendum, our friendship won't change.

19 APR 2016

UKIP is the party of Gladstonian liberalism

"All the world over, I will back the masses against the classes," said William Gladstone. Only one party in Britain stands with the people against establishment elites today. That party is UKIP.

It's because UKIP is the closest party to Gladstonian liberalism today that this picture of the Grand Old Man appears in our Welsh manifesto.

UKIP – like Gladstone – stands for freedom. Like him, we're against a big, intrusive state. We oppose punitive taxation and economic central planning. We support individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Like Gladstone, UKIP stands for putting power in the hands of the people. In his day, that meant expanding the franchise. In ours, that means more devolution – not just to the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, but to cities and towns, and ultimately to families and individuals. It means calling for referenda – like the one we're having on June 23rd.

Like Gladstone, UKIP stands for free trade. We don't support protectionist trade blocs with trade barriers against goods from the rest of the world. We want Britain to leave the EU, and open up new trade links to the rest of the world.

It was Gladstone who introduced Irish Home Rule. Proposing the bill, Gladstone told Parliament: "we have proposed this measure because Ireland wants to make her own laws."

UKIP is the only party that believes Britain should make her own laws, and that the government of Britain should be solely accountable to the British people. Gladstone is rightly our inspiration.

19 APR 2016

Shareholders of the world, unite!

Why are corporate CEO salaries so inflated? The Left blames capitalism. But the battle over BP boss Bob Dudley's pay rise tells a different story. The shareholders – the capitalist owners - rejected his new pay deal. The problem is they were ignored.

When pundits and politicians talk about the 'democratic deficit,' they're usually thinking about government. The centralisation of power in unaccountable bureaucracies like the European Commission. The powerlessness of Parliament. The establishment consensus that withstands every election.

But the same thing has happened in business. Instead of shareholder democracy, authority has become centralised in a boardroom oligarchy. CEOs are increasingly unaccountable to the people who own the company.

The executive elite has emerged from the ruins of shareholder democracy. In the absence of accountability, the managerial class has succeeded in enriching itself at the shareholders' expense.

As a result, the wealthy and powerful today are no longer entrepreneurs, but corporate bureaucrats. Just like at the height of the East India Company, managers – not innovators – fill the upper echelons of society. The Davos Men are the new nabobs.

The new nabobocracy has transformed our economy. Leftists and Rightists alike pretend that we live in a capitalist, free market. They're both wrong. Our economy is no longer capitalist. It's corporatist.

Look at how many boardroom bureaucrats sit on advisory committees to the PM and the Chancellor. Look at the revolving door between Big Business and the regulators that are meant to keep it in check. Look at the CEO consensus on staying in the EU – the corporate lobbyist's paradise.

Managerialist government and managerialist business have given us a (poorly) managed economy.

To end the concentration of power and money in a tiny elite, it won't be enough to restore democracy in politics. We need to bring back shareholder democracy too.

18 APR 2016

To end inequality, we need to mend monetary policy

What is the biggest cause of income inequality? Angry protesters like to point the finger at greedy corporate fat cats, but they miss the mechanics of how wealth is actually redistributed. The cause is messed up monetary policy. The culprits are central banks.

Cheap credit is at the root of the world's economic malaise. Using zero interest rates and quantitative easing, central banks have pumped out credit like cholesterol into the arteries of the economy. The aim was to stimulate economic growth. The result has been the opposite.

Manipulating the money supply is a form of price fixing. For decades, central banks have set the price of capital far too low. The result is what economists call malinvestment. Resources flow from wealth-creators to rent-seekers. Wealth moves from the asset poor to the asset rich.

Eventually these central-bank-caused economic imbalances become a full-blown economic crisis. Think I'm exaggerating? Look at the graph (above) from my pamphlet After Osbrown.

Today, people are finally waking up to the consequences of record low interest rates. An unsustainable housing bubble, that prevents young people getting on the housing ladder. An unsustainable pensions shortfall, that left a £2 billion black hole in Tata Steel's employee pension fund. An unsustainable financial system, which keeps broken banks in business and rewards their creditors for failure.

I've drafted a probing amendment to the Bank of England Bill with the people at Positive Money. It calls for a commission to report on the impact of monetary policy on sustainable development and inequality – and make sure we don't make the same mistakes again.

We need monetary policy that promotes long-term economic prosperity for all, not the short-term political gain of Establishment elites. Let's see if the Government agrees.

15 APR 2016

Let select committees sack bad bureaucrats

Earlier this week, MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee threw out the civil servant they were questioning for giving atrocious answers. "Parliament flexes its muscles," said the press. Really? The fact that the best the committee could do was send the official back to his desk shows how powerless Parliament has become.

Parliamentary select committees are supposed to hold government departments to account. Yet they can't actually change what departments do. They have no say over budgets. They can't control appointments. Ministers and officials are free to ignore their recommendations.

Parliament's powerlessness means unelected bureaucrats have a free reign. Officials who not only evade scrutiny in committee hearings but demonstrate that they don't know their brief carry on through the ranks of the civil service anyway. How can this be a good system of government?

It isn't like this everywhere. In the United States, elected representatives have much more power. Congressional Committees don't just have the power to block official appointments, but control the legislative process and the executive's budget.

What if we gave Parliamentary committees more power here? What if top officials needed to be approved in select committee hearings before they were appointed? What if, instead of giving underperforming civil servants a slap on the wrist, select committees could sack them?

In a democracy, the people are meant to be able to turf out their government. Parliament's powerlessness over officialdom means we can't do that. To restore our democracy, we need to give select committees more clout.

14 APR 2016

It's time to unite to win the referendum

Congratulations to Vote Leave! Its designation as the official Leave campaign is good news for Brexiteers. Of all the groups vying for designation, I believe Vote Leave is best placed to win us the referendum. Now we need to unite behind it to make that happen.

I've supported Vote Leave since even before it was launched because I think it has the best organisation, the brightest strategists, and the broadest reach to win the referendum, and make sure Britain leaves the EU. It's that simple.

I'm glad there was competition for the designation – competition is a good thing. But now Vote Leave has got it, we need to put aside minor differences on means, and focus on our shared goal.

To win the referendum, Eurosceptics of every stripe have to work together. UKIP, Tory, and Labour; businessmen and trades unionists; ardent socialists and avid free-marketeers. People who may rarely see eye to eye on anything else, but agree on one thing: that the way Britain is run should be decided by the British people, not bureaucrats in Brussels.

Working together doesn't mean speaking with one voice. On the contrary: we need different voices to appeal to different priorities among voters. For some people in Britain, the biggest issue is immigration. But for others, it's the economy, or exports, or public services, or the cost of living. The EU has an enormous impact on so many aspects of our lives. To win, we have to address all of them.

Referendum day is only two months away. The polls show the campaigns are neck and neck. Britain's future is hanging in the balance.

We need your support to win. If you haven't already, sign up to Vote Leave, and join the campaign to take back control.

13 APR 2016

The IMF ruined Greece. Why trust it on Brexit?

Stop the presses: the IMF has come out for Remain. Who'd have thought it? An elitist, supra-national body led by a lifelong Europhile supports the EU. Treat its conclusions with caution: the IMF has been wrong about European integration before, and it's wrong again now.

The IMF has an immaculate track record of failure. It was wrong about the euro. It was wrong about cutting Britain's budget deficit. It was wrong about the global economy before the financial crisis, and it was wrong about the response afterwards.

But its approach to Europe in recent years hasn't just been wrong; it has been catastrophic. The IMF is one of the members of the troika that has repeatedly failed to solve the Eurozone sovereign debt disaster, and reduced Greece to debt deflation and constant crisis.

Four years ago, IMF director Christine Lagarde said the latest European Stability Mechanism loan to Greece would "help to bring back Greece's debt ratio to a sustainable path."

I was more sceptical, writing at the time: "A new IMF-led bailout-and-borrow initiative will be no more successful at solving the problems of the Eurozone that all the previous bailouts proved to be."

Who was right?

The big issue for the IMF is always uncertainty. But what kind of certainty do we get from the EU? If experience is any guide, it's the certainty of sky-high unemployment, economic stagnation, and business-strangling regulation.

There is a tried and tested route to economic growth and prosperity: free markets, free trade, light regulation, and less government.

The EU stands in the way of all four. That's why our country and our economy will be better off if we leave.

12 APR 2016

The real offshore tax scam is the EU

The PM's tax affairs have caused a bit of a media kerfuffle. But there's an even bigger tax scam people are missing. It's called the EU.

Many Eurocrats have been getting tax-free salaries for years. Enraged at the idea of officials not paying their fair share? It's a way of life for many on the Brussels gravy train.

EU officials work under a special tax code that gives them preferential treatment. As we revealed in our EU Rich List, top EU officials each pay £50,000 less tax every year than they would in the UK.

That's not all. Remember the outrage about Google, Starbucks, and Apple not paying corporation tax in the UK? That is made possible by the EU too.

EU tax law allows multinationals to pay tax on European revenue in whichever EU member state they claim to be based. So obviously they pick the state with the lowest tax rates.

And it doesn't stop there. Multinationals also get a helping hand from the European Court of Justice. New research shows European court rulings have forced HMRC to pay back tens of billions of pounds to corporations.

Ultimately Britain is powerless to prevent tax havens. We can't make the laws in Panama or Monaco or Singapore. But we do have an opportunity to change the laws here. On June 23rd, we can vote to take back control of our tax system from Brussels.

There's a better way tackle tax avoidance than staging pointless protests on Whitehall. If you really want to stand up to an untaxed, rent-seeking elite, do something that makes a difference: vote Leave.

11 APR 2016

Our taxes are being used to tell us what to think

In this age of austerity, Britain sends £350 million of your taxes in tribute to Brussels every week. "Money well spent," insist the Remainers. So what are the Eurocrats spending your money on? Pro-EU propaganda for British schoolchildren.

The EU is sending freebies of 'The Mystery of the Golden Stars' – its 'child-friendly' self-mythology – to state schools across Britain. Because it's not enough for taxpayer-funded pro-EU PR to bombard us at home, now it's targeting our kids at school too.

For an organisation whose benefits – the Europhiles tell us – are so obvious, the EU spends an awful lot on publicity. If Euro-federalism worked, why would Brussels need to divert so much money into convincing us?

The peoples of Europe aren't blind. We can all see the economic stagnation, the broken single currency, the endless sovereign debt saga, and the constant migrant crisis. The Eurocrats can't fix it. So instead – like any good apparatchiks in a failing superstate - they put all their efforts into persuading us we can't trust the evidence of our own eyes.

The vast quantities of publicly-funded propaganda coming our way in the referendum campaign sends a message – but not necessarily the message its authors intended. It tells us that, two months out from the referendum, they're seriously scared they're going to lose.

So let's take heart from the agitprop: the real subliminal message behind it says we can win!

08 APR 2016

Spending taxpayers' money on pro-EU propaganda is disgraceful

Local NHS officials shut Peter Bruff ward in Clacton saying they need to save money. GP surgeries in Clacton can't accept new patients because they don't have the resources. Yet David Cameron is spending £9.3 million of your taxes on sending pro-EU PR to every household in Britain. It's disgraceful.

Making the government an organ of the Remain campaign is totally inappropriate – and it's not just us Eurosceptics who think so. The Electoral Commission agrees.

The PM claims there's precedent for what he's doing from the 1975 referendum on Europe. But at least back then households were sent leaflets from both sides of the debate. Make no mistake: what he's sending out isn't information, it's propaganda.

This isn't the only pro-EU publicity you're paying for, either. Brussels is pumping money into the campaign too.

But in one respect this stunt highlights what the referendum is all about.

The elites in Whitehall and Brussels think they have the right to tell you what to think. In their eyes, your job is to do what you're told by the officials.

On the Leave side, we disagree. We believe in something called democracy. In a democracy, the government doesn't get to tell the people what to do. The people get to tell the government.

The referendum is our opportunity to take back control from the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and spend our money on our priorities, not theirs.

If you can't wait till June to send Downing Street a message, here's an idea: return the PM's propaganda to sender.

07 APR 2016

In the digital world, tax havens aren't just for the rich

The Panama Papers have sparked an international furore. But haven't we heard it all before? The political pledges to close tax loopholes. The socialist slogans saying 'soak the rich'. The disputes about the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Isn't there anything new to say?

Here's something the pundits are missing: tax havens aren't just for the rich anymore.

The digital revolution means it's not just plutocrats who can hide their wealth away. Anyone can do it. Create a Bitcoin wallet, and you too can store wealth in secret, and access it from anywhere in the world.

Digital wallets create a conundrum for the taxman. How can governments clamp down on tax evasion when every iPhone could be a tax haven?

Perhaps we should be looking at something bolder than tweaking the rules. If you buy or sell a house, the amount you pay is a matter of public record. What if the money you paid to and received from the State were publicly disclosed too?

In Scandinavia, tax returns are publicly accessible. Imagine you could read David Cameron's tax returns. Would total transparency keep our leaders completely scrupulous?

Well, not necessarily. Look at the Icelandic PM: you wouldn't find anything untoward on his tax returns – because he didn't declare the dodgy assets.

Maybe we need to accept there are no easy answers. The tax base is liquid. The only thing we can really do to level the playing the field is to have lower, simpler taxes for everyone.

06 APR 2016

The Greek tragedy was made in Brussels

Project Fear claims our economic prosperity depends on the EU. Try telling that to the Greeks. Six years since the sovereign debt crisis began, Greece is still facing economic catastrophe – and the blame lies in Brussels.

Greece's problems began with the euro. The single currency misrepresented the risk of lending to Greece. It allowed Greece's consumers and its government to buy what they couldn't afford on credit they should never have been lent – money which came from banks in Germany and elsewhere in the EU. Greek borrowers should have known better, but so should European lenders and policymakers.

In response to the inevitable crash, though, only Greece was expected to pay the price. Instead of making the lenders who made bad investments in Greece bear the full cost of their bad decisions, the EU Troika has forced Greece into a vicious circle of economic contraction and debt expansion that creates a constant crisis.

Yet Greece has been abandoned not just for its creditors' sake, but for the euro's. Restoring the drachma could have freed Greece from debt deflation. But to keep up the absurd pretence that the single currency is a success, the Greeks have been reduced to debt servitude instead.

The EU hasn't just failed to save the Greek economy. It has sacrificed the Greek economy to save the European project. Tell me again how we're safer leaving the Eurocrats in control?

05 APR 2016

Beware the siren song of statism

Port Talbot looks likely to be saved by private investors, yet that hasn't stopped politicians and pundits banging the drum for nationalisation – because it worked so well 40 years ago. But the new statists aren't just selectively recalling the past; they're missing the failed State planning all around us.

Nationalised industry didn't work well in the 1970s. State-owned companies were massively lossmaking and, because they were State-owned, the taxpayer had to pick up the tab.

Today, it looks like the State will be on the hook for the £2 billion shortfall in Tata's employee pension fund. That might well be the best option in the circumstances. But remember, that bail-out won't be created from thin air: it will come out of your pocket.

We don't have to go back to the 1970s, though, to see that nationalisation doesn't work. The evidence is everywhere today.

Let's start with the Tata pension fund: why is there a shortfall in the first place? As Moneyweek's Merryn Somerset Webb observes, it's down to interest rates. Because the Bank of England set the rates so low, pension funds everywhere in Britain are struggling to meet their obligations. Our State-owned central bank has a monopoly over the money supply, and it has catastrophically mismanaged it.

Nationalisation is at the root of the steel crisis too. Why is China dumping millions of tonnes of steel? Because its predominantly State-owned steel industry, governed by central diktats rather than market demand, vastly overproduced.

From the Post Office to Network Rail to RBS, there is nothing in the recent history of State-owned enterprise in Britain that should make us think the next nationalisation will work wonders. But if Britain does embark on a new statist spending spree, be sure that you – the taxpayer – will pay the price.

04 APR 2016

Britain's future should belong to the young, not the Eurocrats

Project Fear's Nicky Morgan is taking aim at millennials this week. Generation Y join football, London, science, and airports on the Inners' checklist of things that will cease to exist the moment we vote Leave. But in reality, it's the youngest voters who have the most to gain from taking back control of Britain.

Leave supporters are a minority among 18-34 year olds, according to the latest opinion polls. However, the same polls say 18-34s are among the least likely to turn out to vote – which doubtless has nothing to do with the Education Secretary's latest apocalyptic lobbying.

The fact that political disaffection may once again deter young voters from the ballot box on June 23rd is curious. Disillusionment with what's happened to our democracy is precisely why I'm campaigning to leave.

The EU has hollowed out our democracy. A huge proportion of our laws are written not by representatives we choose at the ballot box but by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the European Commission. Many people say it doesn't matter who they vote for, because nothing will change. Since Parliament is no longer sovereign, they're right.

In the absence of popular accountability, the EU is run in the interests of Davos elites. Brussels is the Mecca of regulatory capture. Big Business and corporate lobbyists love it. That's why Tony Benn and his disciples, like one Jeremy Corbyn, always saw the EU as a crony corporatist club. They're right too.

European integration has increasingly centralised power and money in a cross-Continental oligarchy. The referendum is our chance – almost certainly our only chance – to take it back.

A vote to Leave will mean most to the youngest, because it offers a genuine opportunity to shape Britain's future. Backing Remain is a vote for more disenfranchisement and decline. If you want the power to decide what Britain looks like in 50 years' time, vote Leave.

01 APR 2016

Monetary manipulation is messing up our economy

UK household savings have sunk to record lows. The UK's current account deficit has reached a record high. Our so-called recovery is really just more debt and more overspending. And it's all because of the monetary policy that was meant to fix our economy.

The reason people aren't saving is simple: the Bank of England has taken away the incentive. For the last seven years, the Bank of England has kept interest rates absurdly, artificially low – lower even than inflation. When investments no longer yield a decent return, why should people save?

Effectively negative interest rates have transferred wealth from the poor to the rich. They have subsidised the banks at the expense of the people. Worse still, they have perpetuated the excesses that brought about the financial crisis. Instead of fixing a failed system, the Bank of England has propped it up, and rewarded its worst offenders for failure.

Broken banks and overflowing debt are proof we live in a centrally planned economy. In a free market, bad banks would have gone bust and interest rates would match the risk of investing. Instead, at the core of a supposedly market economy, central bank bureaucrats set the price of capital.

Our economy is stalling because it increasingly rests on what Hayek called the fatal conceit: the idea that a tiny elite can allocate resources better than the millions of minds that make up the market.

Central economic planning – whether in Threadneedle Street, or Whitehall, or Brussels – is holding our economy back. Trusting the same elites and policies that got us into the mess to get us out of it is madness. To rebalance our economy, we need to trust the free market.

31 MAR 2016

Vote leave and free the energy market to save the steel industry

The British steel industry is in trouble. Why? Globalisation and Chinese steel dumping are a factor. But there is another major cause: our own misguided energy policy. So can we change it? Not unless we leave the EU.

Britain's energy market is rigged. Anti-CO2 taxes, subsidies, and caps on fossil fuel generation have driven up energy costs by billions of pounds a year. Restrictions on coal generation have eroded one of Britain's key advantages: ample coal reserves.

While energy-intensive businesses in Britain have seen their bills rocket, manufacturers in the US, China, and India have made the most of low global fuel prices. It's no surprise that our manufacturers are struggling to compete.

The only way to make our industry competitive is to cut the CO2 taxes and level the playing field. But as long as we're in the EU, we can't. The EU's Emissions Performance Standard, Large Combustion Plant Directive, and Emissions Trading Scheme have cut our fossil fuel generation and raised our costs – and we are powerless to do anything about it.

If we vote Leave, though, there is a lot we can do. As Roger Helmer, UKIP's Energy Spokesman, set out in our recent policy paper, an independent Britain could cut energy costs, secure generating capacity, and create efficient new technology, all by setting the energy market free.

Britain may no longer have a comparative advantage in heavy industry, but that doesn't mean we should be making life unnecessarily difficult for our manufacturers with artificial costs. A government that truly believed in giving British steel a viable future would back Brexit.

30 MAR 2016

Protectionism and socialism can't help us - just ask the North Koreans

North Koreans have reportedly been told to brace for another 'arduous march' – or devastating famine – the last of which killed 3.5 million people. Whereas North Korea's central economic planning and autarky have brought nothing but poverty, open markets and free trade have turned South Korea into one of the world's most dynamic economies. So why do politicians in the prosperous, free West fetishise the failed economic doctrines of Pyongyang?

Attacking free trade and free markets is in vogue on both the right and the left. Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership on a platform of back-to-the-70s nationalisation and redistributive taxes. Bernie Sanders is drawing swathes of support by attacking capitalism and globalisation. Donald Trump is leading the Republican race by advocating not just a physical wall against Mexico, but tariff barriers against China.

All three pretend that life can get better with the stroke of a pen in Washington or Whitehall. Wages too low? Tax the rich! Jobs too scarce? End free trade! Factories closing? Blame Beijing!

Trump, Sanders, and Corbyn style themselves as champions of the poor. They are praised by their supporters for going where the Establishment fears to tread. But are they really so brave? Making false promises of quick-fix solutions has always been the politician's path of least resistance.

Free trade and free markets aren't always the easiest sell. It's simple to point to the negative effects of globalisation for industrial cities in the West, as manufacturing jobs are automated or offshored. Showing the wider positive effects – lower prices, new jobs in the service sector, better specialisation – takes more explanation.

But here's the simple truth: if we listen to the protectionist and socialist snake-oil salesmen, there won't be an industrial renaissance. There'll be poverty.

24 MAR 2016

Free marketeers can't support extortionate executive pay

“Sky-high executive pay is damaging capitalism,” writes Moneyweek’s Merryn Somerset Webb. I think she’s right. Rocketing remuneration for a corporate clique can’t just be a target for the Left. Free marketeers shouldn’t support it either.

You’ve probably seen the headlines about the eye-watering levels of CEO pay today. The average FTSE 100 CEO now earns 183 times more than ordinary British workers. Martin Sorrell, Britain’s best-paid executive, takes home £43 million. As average wages have stagnated, CEO salaries have risen faster than ever.

Many on the Right treat executive pay packets as just a function of the market. But is it? How much value does a CEO really add to a company?

Companies often base their CEO’s salary on their share price. When the share price goes up, the CEO makes more money. The idea is that a rising share price means the boss is doing a good job.

But, in recent years, that’s not how the stock market has worked. Share prices have risen not because companies have got stronger but because central banks have flooded the market with cheap capital. The stock market is an artificial bubble, and CEO salaries are inflated by extension.

Massive CEO salaries are a sign of a corporatist economy. Today, the highest returns too often come from lobbyists rigging the rules instead of innovation. No wonder the wealthiest people nowadays are managers, not entrepreneurs.

Inflated executive pay reflects redistribution from the poor to the rich. It’s time the Right stopped defending it.

23 MAR 2016

The West lacks the leadership to tackle Islamist terror

And so it goes on. Another horrific atrocity. What is so shocking is that perhaps it isn't so shocking anymore. It is 15 years since the 9/11 attacks woke the West up to Islamist terror. We have suffered these attacks time and again for a decade and a half. What are we doing about it?

In response to the attack on the Twin Towers, Blair and Bush intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and tried to encourage democracy. It is very fashionable to sneer and deride them for that now. But who's got a better plan? Other than holding hands and making trite statements, what are our current leaders actually going to do?

The problem with the middle-of-the-road, managerialist, technocrats who govern the West today is that all they do is tweak the status quo. We need fundamental change at so many levels to deal with so many new challenges, but Western policymakers aren't up to the job.

For too long, Western diplomats have cosied up to states that are frankly frenemies: countries that pose as friends, but are really enemies. For decades, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States have exported money and radicalism to the West – and we have done nothing to stop it. Now we are paying the price.

Last week, EU foreign policy involved giving Turkey billions of euros and visa-free access to Europe in return for the promise that they might stop one or two boats. The West is in an incredibly weak position.

When I heard the news from Brussels yesterday, I thought the same thing as I did after the bombings in Paris and the attack on the airliner over Ukraine: what would Reagan and Thatcher have done? What would Churchill and Attlee have done? Where are the leaders of their calibre now?

The threat of radical Islam can be met, but only with a major shift in public policy and real leadership.

22 MAR 2016

Why I'm voting against Osborne's irresponsible budget

UKIP believes in fiscal responsibility. I supported last year's budget because it made some necessary and responsible reductions in public spending. But I will be voting against this year's budget, because it is fiscally irresponsible.

Balancing the books is not optional. If the Government continues to spend tens of billions more than it takes in taxes every year, our creditors will soon treat Britain as a risky bet, and stop lending us cheap money. When that happens, pensions, benefits, and healthcare will suddenly face a funding crisis from which there is no escape. The only way to preserve the welfare state is to make it financially sustainable today.

For all his clichés about difficult decisions and fixing the roof, George Osborne has failed to tackle Britain's ballooning borrowing. He broke his promise to close the deficit by 2015. He has ignored his welfare cap. Having nearly doubled the national debt in absolute terms, he is now violating another of his rules and letting it rise as a proportion of GDP too.

Once again, Osborne has stored up cuts for the end of the Parliament, only to be abandoned before the next election – if he survives at Number 11 that long. After six years, it's obvious that for as long as Osborne is Chancellor, Britain will never stop borrowing.

Like Gordon Brown before him, Osborne opts for gimmicks and giveaways instead of fiscal responsibility. He tries to take the British people for fools.

I believe the British people deserve honesty. Unless we fix Britain's systemic fiscal and financial problems, we are heading for an economic catastrophe. Borrow-and-spend budgets are a luxury we can't afford.

21 MAR 2016

The digital revolution comes to farming

200 years ago, Malthus predicted it would be impossible to feed the world's rocketing population. He was wrong. Thanks to the agricultural revolution, food production didn't just keep pace with population growth, but far surpassed it – lifting millions off the breadline. Now the digital revolution is pushing farming forward again.

The innovation that has made farming so efficient has mostly been on the supply side: combine harvesters, pesticides, drip irrigation. Technology that enabled farmers to get more food out of the same amount of land.

But what about the demand side?

That's where the digital revolution comes in. A Chinese start-up has invented an app called Meicai that links restaurants directly to farmers. Instead of farmers having to take their produce to market, or rely on intermediaries, buyers find farmers through their smartphones.

By cutting out both middlemen and timewasting, the app makes the selling process much more efficient. Farmers get higher returns, restaurants get lower costs, and consumers get fresher food. It's a win on all fronts!

The app has one more big benefit: it forecasts future demand. By giving farmers a precise indication of how much to grow, the app helps them allocate their resources better in the production process too.

In Europe, we have got used to treating pressures on farmers with subsidies. The EU first paid farmers to produce mountains of wasted food, and now pays many not to produce at all. But making farmers dependent on taxpayers isn't a long-term solution. Cutting farmers' costs and raising their returns is. So when can Meicai come to Britain?

17 MAR 2016

Britain's banks are too big to save

It is sometimes said that the banks are too big to fail. The reality is many have become too big to save.

In 1971, when the pound was linked to the dollar, and the dollar was linked to gold, the assets of British banks were worth well under 100% of our GDP. Today, they come to well over 400%.

The only countries with a higher ratio of bank assets to GDP than the UK are Ireland, Iceland, and Singapore. The precedent from two of those three should make us worried.

A little like late mediaeval Venice or early modern Holland, there is a real risk that Britain's economy is excessively built on a fundamentally unstable banking structure. As our paper revealed a few months ago, our banks hold so little equity they are no safer than they were in 2007.

We often condescendingly look across the Channel at economic stagnation Europe. We pretend – like the Chancellor did yesterday – that our economy is in much better health. Actually we're vulnerable too.

Trying to keep broken banks afloat won't protect our deposits and our savings. We need to start thinking about how to let big banks fail safely, and build a better banking system.

There is life After Osbrown.

16 MAR 2016

Obesity can't be stopped by fiat

Mums and dads will now have to pay more because George Osborne disapproves of their kids drinking Coke. The Chancellor says the Treasury will make £520 million a year from his new sugar tax on soft drinks. That's £520 million taken out of the pockets of families.

Of course there is a problem with obesity, which needs to be tackled. But the idea a fizzy drinks tax will solve the problem is absurd. What about Coco Pops? That's full of sugar. Bulmers cider apparently contains as much sugar as a can of Coke. Will that be subject to this new tax too?

What percentage of an obese child's obesity is caused by fizzy drinks? How much is caused by overeating pizza, burgers, and chocolate – or lack of exercise? Will there be a tax on all of that too?

Yet again, a politician thinks he can reshape the nation – literally, in this case – by grand design. The Chancellor is clearly thinking of his legacy. But he has done nothing today to tackle child obesity.

If people want to lose weight, they need to do what George Osborne did: eat less and move more.

16 MAR 2016

Another Osbrown budget means more debt and clever gimmickry

George Osborne will doubtless try to pull some surprises out of his budget red box today. But after six years, we know what to expect: more gimmicks, more borrowing, and more taxes.

Osborne used to criticise Gordon Brown for doubling the length of Tolley's tax guide. But his constant tinkering has made the tax code even longer and more complex. The biggest beneficiaries of his chancellorship are lawyers and accountants.

This budget will be full of gimmicks about infrastructure. We'll hear more about the Northern Powerhouse and shiny new railways, but there's no substance behind the spin. Government investment spending, including infrastructure, has more than halved since he took office in 2010 - from over 3% of GDP then to under 1.5% today.

The Chancellor likes to style himself as Britain's Robert Moses, but he's no master builder. After six years, this Government hasn't even managed to agree a plan for a new runway, let alone build one.

Osborne likes gimmicks and his minor giveaways tend to reek of pork barrel politics. Every budget, he uses taxpayers' money to buy off his favourite backbenchers. Today, he'll no doubt be rewarding MPs who have sold out over the EU. But will it be the kiss of death?

I suspect this Chancellor is approaching a day of reckoning. For all the talk of austerity, Osborne has ducked dealing with the deficit, and left us unprepared for the next crisis. Just a few months ago, he claimed to have conjured up another £27 billion based on overoptimistic economic projections. Now the economy is deteriorating, he has nowhere to hide.

Osbrown manipulation has crashed our economy. It's time for a new approach. Let's close the deficit by saving public money – not least the £55 million a day we send to Brussels. And let's unleash the economy with lower, simpler, fairer taxes.

15 MAR 2016

Scrap the licence fee, embrace the market

Isn't Netflix great? For £6 a month you get access to high quality programmes from all over the world. Netflix has changed television for the better – and all without the aid of a licence fee.

The rise of Netflix is a victory for consumer choice. People who can't afford extortionate cable TV can now access cable programmes online. It competes as a programme maker too. With shows like House of Cards, Netflix has demonstrated it can make the finest dramas around.

Netflix has shown up the conceit that the BBC makes the best programmes in the world. We're told we need the licence fee to get high quality television. But what brilliant shows is the BBC actually making with its extorted money? Bargain Hunt? Barely Legal Drivers?

Today, the best detective shows are made in Scandinavia. The best dramas in America. Even the presenters behind the BBC's most successful show, Top Gear, have moved to Amazon Prime.

If the BBC's output is really so good, why do people need to be forced to pay for it? Netflix shows that if you make programmes people want to watch, they will pay for it. Why should the people who don't want to watch the BBC subsidise those who do?

The fact that people can face criminal prosecution for not having a licence for a television isn't just absurd, it's draconian. The licence fee is regressive – just like the poll tax. It gives the BBC an unfair advantage against its competitors. But it doesn't produce better programmes.

Consumer choice, not compulsory charges, is improving television. Let's scrap the licence fee, and unleash the market.

14 MAR 2016

Get ready for the Osborne bust

Britain is one of the best prepared countries in the world for the next economic crash, boasts George Osborne. Really? On his watch, our national debt has nearly doubled, our current account deficit has broken records, and our public books still aren't balanced. The sun is about to stop shining, but the Chancellor has left a gaping hole in the roof.

Osborne's version of austerity is all talk. Over the last decade, Britain hasn't just had monetary stimulus, but fiscal stimulus too. Remember: he broke his promise to close the deficit by 2015. Every year, the Government has spent tens of billions more than it took in taxes. If that's not fiscal stimulus, what is?

For the last few years, the Chancellor has been able to hide behind economic growth. But the recovery has been an unsustainable illusion, based on cheap credit and Government largesse. Just like his 1970s predecessor Anthony Barber, Osborne's borrow-and-spend strategy has stoked a temporary boom. As Barber found out, it will all come crashing down.

The problem with borrowing is that at some point you have to pay it back - with interest. Despite record low interest rates, Britain's annual debt interest payments (currently £47 billion) exceed the departmental budgets for the Home Office, the Foreign Office, Justice, Transport, BIS, and DEFRA combined. The minor cuts Osborne has made have only funded higher pay-outs to the State's creditors.

Osborne can't escape the blame for Britain's next bust. He put off balancing the books till tomorrow. For a real recovery, we need to face up to our economic problems today.

11 MAR 2016

We need to cut back on the credit cholesterol

I happened to be in a room full of bankers when the announcement came through that the ECB was about to create more cheap credit. Many of them were visibly pleased. That alone shows something has gone very wrong with our banking system.

Low interest rates and cheap credit bring forward spending from tomorrow to today. The problem is that when today becomes tomorrow, we'll have nothing left to spend. As Mervyn King puts it in his brilliant new book, we are digging deeper and deeper into tomorrow's demand.

One of the reasons the West's long-term GDP outlook is falling is the huge glut of chronic malinvestment that comes from manipulation of the money supply. Cheap credit is like cholesterol in the arteries of the economy. The West is already wheezing; if we carry on like this, we're heading for an economic heart attack.

The credit boom hasn't just inflated asset prices and enriched bankers. It has also laid an economic time bomb. Think of all the insurance firms and pension funds that rely on returns from low-risk assets. Because of ultra-low interest rates, they won't be able to provide the yields that millions of people are relying on in 10 or 20 years' time.

The fact this latest injection of credit comes from the European Central Bank is especially concerning. One of the only good things you used to be able to say about the euro was that it was managed less recklessly than the pound. When the euro was run like the old deutschmark, at least it had rigour. Today's euro is the worst of both worlds. No discipline, but more austerity.

Candy floss credit got us into this economic mess in the first place. We won't get out of it unless we restore sound money.

10 MAR 2016

Protectionism hurts the poorest

The prosperity we take for granted today couldn't have happened without free markets and free trade. That doesn't stop people – even presidential candidates - saying we'd be better off starting trade wars, and only buying goods made at home. But the fact remains: protectionism is the route to poverty.

Globalisation gets a bad press. When manufacturing moves from Britain or the US to China and India, it looks like we're losing out. But the result is that we get our clothes, shoes, computers, phones, and televisions much more cheaply. And lower prices don't just make us better off. They also increase demand, and create jobs.

As Adam Smith and David Ricardo realised 200 years ago, prosperity comes from specialisation. If each of us tried to be self-sufficient, we would all be living in prehistoric penury. Instead, we specialise in what we're best at, and exchange the product of our work for what we need.

The same applies to countries. Today, Britain's comparative advantage is in services. Other countries are best at heavy industry or agriculture. By specialising in services, we get more and better manufactured goods and agricultural produce than we would if we diverted our resources into making them ourselves.

Protectionism might seem like the solution for people who have lost out to globalisation. But its effect would be regressive - like the poll tax. It would force prices up, and employment down. That would hit the poorest hardest.

In many cases, protectionism isn't the antidote to industrial decline, but the cause. Decades of State subsidies are what made companies like British Leyland and General Motors incapable of beating foreign competition.

To revive our economy, we have to allow people to specialise in what they're best at, not prop up industries that are no longer productive. We need to learn from history, not live in it. The answer is freedom.

09 MAR 2016

Eurocrats can't control EU's own borders

The migrant crisis shows no signs of abating. Greece is overwhelmed. EU plans to settle millions of migrants have only encouraged more to come. Now the EU's latest agreement with Turkey will make a bad situation worse.

The new deal relies on trusting Turkey to stop illegal immigration from Syria – which it may not be able to do. Yet in return, Turkey will receive €6 billion from European taxpayers (that's £500 million from Britain) – double what was agreed a few months ago. Plus, visa-free access to Schengen countries for 75 million Turkish citizens will now start from June instead of September.

Turkey won't become an EU member with this deal, but Turks – in effect – will. I'm sure the Eurocrats will tell us there won't be much immigration from Turkey because of it. But officials have a history of seriously underestimating the effects of freedom of movement. Remember, they said there would be minimal immigration to Britain from Poland and Romania.

What's really bizarre is that this deal aims to prevent illegal migration by regularising it. For every migrant the EU sends back to Turkey, one migrant in Turkey will be settled in Europe. That's not a plan to solve the migrant crisis; it's a plan to normalise it.

The EU's ineptitude is a far cry from the Australian approach. It's now been two years since the last boat landed on Australian shores. Stopping the boats solved Australia's migrant crisis, and saved lives. Sensible leaders would follow Australia's example.

But are our leaders sensible? The EU can't control its borders. It can't manage its currency. It can't sort out its economy. It can't fix its banks.

The truth is EU leaders simply aren't up to basic statecraft. That's a big reason why it's safer for Britain to vote Leave.

08 MAR 2016

Hinkley Point is Osborne's gold giveaway moment

Gordon Brown's most disastrous deal was selling off our gold reserves for $275 an ounce (it's now worth $1,275 an ounce). George Osborne's Hinkley Point energy deal is turning into his gold giveaway moment.

Osborne announced his plan for a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point amid much fanfare. The spin made it look great: Chinese money, French know-how, cleaner energy. But as I pointed out at the time, the cost is eye-wateringly high.

When I asked the Energy Minister to confirm that electricity generated at the new plant would be sold at market rates, she told me the plant "must represent value for money." Instead, Osborne's deal locks British taxpayers and consumers into paying at least £89.50/MWh for energy from Hinkley Point – double the current average price.

You would need to be as commercially inept as Gordon Brown not see what a dreadful deal this is. Even EDF, the company that is meant to be building the plant, can see it – in fact their finance director has just resigned because of it.

Osborne should accept that the failure of his plan in good grace, and scrap it.

There is a better approach to energy. Instead of subsidies, we need to set our energy market free. Our policy paper – Securing Britain's Energy Future - points the way.

08 MAR 2016

Mervyn King's book is right on the money

Mervyn King has written a fantastic book that diagnoses the problem with our banks. The cheap shot response would be to ask why he didn't take action when he had the power. But I don't think that's right. The important thing is that here is a central bank bureaucrat admitting, for the first time, that the big issue is fractional reserve banking.

King doesn't just point out that fractional reserve banking causes financial instability. What's really refreshing about his book is that he describes malinvestment – the excess creation of credit – in clear, easy-to-understand terms.

Whereas the great Austrian School economists, like Oskar Morgenstern, talked about Auflockerung – 'unlocking' – King coins the term 'unwinding.' He explains that to fix the financial system, we need to flush the candy floss credit out of the system.

There has been a surfeit of books about the banking crisis. What makes King's different is that he identifies the actual causes. Unlike Adair Turner's book, which claims regulators like him need more regulatory powers, King shows that fundamental change is required.

King proposes reining in the worst excesses of fractional reserve banking through a system of insurance liabilities. I still think my proposal – a legal distinction between deposit accounts and loan accounts (see After Osbrown, page 38ff.) - is a neater answer.

Whatever the best solution, one thing is clear: the fight against unrestrained fractional reserve banking is now mainstream.

07 MAR 2016

Does British democracy need to be renewed?

3.9 million votes for UKIP. One MP. Do you think British democracy needs fixing?

Read our latest policy paper: Renewing British Democracy. Then tell us what you think in our poll. 

07 MAR 2016

Brexit uncertainty? There's no certainty without control

"Brexit means uncertainty" reads the Remain scare tactic handbook. Isn't that an odd argument? The only way we can have any certainty about our future is to be in control of our own destiny. The real uncertainty comes from entrusting our future to EU elites.

Remainers like to pretend we don't know what life outside the EU looks like. Anyone would think Britain had never been an independent country before. Brexit means we continue to trade with the EU, but we are no longer governed by the EU. That's hardly a leap into the unknown.

What we actually don't know is what life inside the EU is going to look like. Over the last 40 years, the EU has transformed from a common market into a political union. In the last 20, it has introduced its own currency and incorporated Eastern Europe. In the last 10, it has introduced its own constitution, president, and foreign minister. Who knows what will it look like in another 40 years?

The likelihood is there will be more integration and more members. The PM's EU deal – if it is ever implemented – would bind Britain not to oppose more economic integration in the Eurozone. The EU's new deal with Turkey – allowing visa-free European travel to 75 million Turkish citizens – paves the way for Turkish membership. What else could be on the horizon? And what would it mean for us? We really don't know.

As long as the EU controls our borders, our laws, or our trade policy, we can't possibly know what they will look like. So if you want certainty, there's only one option: vote Leave, and take back control.

04 MAR 2016

Leave means Leave

I'm campaigning to secure a Leave vote in the EU referendum on June 23rd. I don't think it is helpful for people to speculate about second referendums. Voting to leave must mean leaving.

Across Europe in recent years, there have been a series of referendums on matters EU. Voters in Denmark, Ireland, and elsewhere said no to more EU, and were made to vote again until they gave the right answer. We're not going to see that here. Leave means leave.

Of course, once we've left the EU, Europe will still be there. Instead of being grumpy tenants, we'll become good neighbours. We will have trade arrangements, and we will cooperate. None of that means we stay in the EU.

Vote Leave on June 23rd to leave the EU. If you've not already signed up with Vote Leave, click here to do so now.

03 MAR 2016

Cheer up: technology is creating more and better jobs

Here's an astonishing cheer-up fact: between 1992 and 2014, the total number of UK jobs rose from 25 million to 31 million. That's an increase of 23%. To put that in context, the population grew by 12%. Even though we have more computers and more automation, there's much more work.

Ever since Ned Ludd, we've been encouraged to think there is a conflict between labour and technology. For over 200 years, we've been told machines are taking our jobs. It used to be factories and mills we were meant to fear. Today, it's delivery drones, driverless cars, and automatic check-out tills. But it was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

Yes, there may be a short-term conflict. But history shows that technology frees people to exchange their time, labour, and resources in better ways.

Just look at the trend. In another 22 years, there's bound to be even more technology. But we can also expect not just more jobs, but better jobs. People will be working fewer hours, for more pay, on more interesting things.

Think about your great, great, great, great-grandfather. He most likely worked in a field, from dawn till dusk, six days a week, for barely enough to live on. Imagine he could see what you do for a living: he'd probably say it's not real work.

Technology is making the world better. We can look forward to less boring, less repetitive, less strenuous work. So cheer up: we're making progress.

02 MAR 2016

Pointless Parliament?

Today is Estimates Day – when ministers seeks the consent of Parliament to tax and spend. If those we elected were doing their job properly, it would be a key moment. Instead, it is a ritualistic formality. Parliament has lost its purpose.

When Charles I attempted to bypass Parliament and levy ship money on every county in England, we cut his head off. What would those who fought at Marston moor think of the nodding donkeys who sit in Parliament now?

Parliament then was prepared to wage war over a few hundred thousand pounds' worth of taxes raised without their consent. Today the Commons will okay over £220 billion pounds' worth of public spending on the nod. There may not even be a vote.

How did we get to this sorry impasse? A key moment came in the 1930s, when the front benches colluded to remove from individual MPs the right to amend budgets. Since then, MPs can only vote for or against a package of figures presented to them by the Treasury.

Politicians have become play-actors, the script often written for them by senior civil servants. Real scrutiny of Government has given way to booing and cheering at Prime Minister's Questions. Independence of thought has been replaced with robotic repetition of party lines. Real representation of the people has been supplanted by slavish subservience to the Whips. We have a pantomime Parliament.

This is why our democracy is in disrepute.

Unsustainable national debt, uncontrolled borders, unaccountable Government. These are the products of Parliamentary powerlessness. When will the people revolt?

01 MAR 2016

The EU makes the City less competitive, and British banks less safe

Daniel Hodson, Jim Mellon, Neil Woodford. Top bankers and fund managers are debunking the Project Fear myth that Brexit would be bad for the City. Several are making the case that financial services will thrive without EU red tape. But there's another point we need to bear in mind too: EU rules don't just reduce profits; they threaten financial stability.

Ever since the financial crisis, the City has been firmly in the EU regulators' sights. "Quite right," you might think. "The banks caused the financial crisis. They need to be regulated."

Hold on a second, though. Yes, we need effective banking regulation. But who seriously thinks that's what the EU has given us?

Look at what's happening across the Channel. Last month, Deutschebank lost 40% of its value. The Eurozone is so dysfunctional that even ex-Bank of England governor Mervyn King can see it needs to be broken up, yet its leaders are pushing for still more integration. As our banking paper pointed out, the EU rules that were meant to prevent another financial crisis actually stop member states introducing higher capital requirements to keep their banks safe.

Instead of making the City more secure, EU regulation only makes it less competitive. It gives us the worst of both worlds.

In reality, much of the regulation is written to benefit big banks at the expense of smaller ones. It's no surprise that the firms that can afford an army of lobbyists to write the rules favour the status quo. But many others disagree. I know from when I worked in fund management that a lot of investors see not just the gains from leaving the EU, but the risks of staying.

We can't trust Brussels to manage our banks. Let's vote Leave, and take back control.

29 FEB 2016

The EU's economic certainty: no innovation, no growth

Innovation is the mark of a successful economy. 19th-century Britain became the richest nation on the planet with a century of invention that raised productivity and prosperity to unprecedented levels. How did we do it? Low taxes, cheap energy, light regulations, open markets, free trade, and sound money. Why is Europe stagnating today? Because the EU does the exact opposite.

Compare the EU to 19th-century Britain. Instead of low taxes, it demands ever higher contributions from member states. Instead of cheap energy, it drives our fuel bills up. Instead of light regulation, it imposes one-size-fits-all legislation on every conceivable product. Instead of open markets, it gives us quotas and subsidies. Instead of ensuring free trade, it's protectionist – imposing tariffs on non-EU goods. Instead of sound money, its broken currency has produced malinvestment on a vast scale.

The Remain camp is staking its campaign on scaring us into believing that the EU is the route to economic prosperity. But hang on a second: the EU is the world's only declining trade bloc. Unemployment in EU countries is skyrocketing. More world-leading high-tech innovation comes from Tel Aviv, in a country surrounded by hostile neighbours, than the so-called single market. In fact, major innovators – like the biotech firm BASF – are leaving the EU because of its suffocating red tape.

Over the next few months, Establishment figures will tell you that we can't risk the uncertainty of voting Leave. Well here's the certainty if we stay: no bureaucratic empire in human history has ever unleashed innovation and economic growth. Nothing the EU has done suggests it will be the first. The only way to create the conditions for innovation in Britain is to vote Leave.

26 FEB 2016

Want border control and fair immigration? Vote Leave

The latest migration figures released yesterday prove once again that we can't control our borders as long as we remain in the EU. But voting Leave isn't just about controlling the numbers; it's also about making possible a fair immigration system.

EU freedom of movement makes it impossible for the Prime Minister to fulfil his promise to cut immigration to the tens of thousands. He is consistently out by 300,000 a year.

The PM's claim that the "emergency brake" can cut the numbers is no more credible. It has already been debunked by his Cabinet colleague, Iain Duncan Smith, who predicts that numbers might even go up because of it. Besides, the brake isn't even in our hands.

But open borders aren't the only issue. Just as problematic is that EU rules make us discriminate against immigrants solely on the basis of their nationality.

People want to come to Britain because we have a sophisticated economy with global reach. To sustain that economy, we need to be able to attract the brightest and the best from across the world. But instead, our system favours those who happen to hold an EU passport.

The EU is the world's only declining trade bloc. It is shrinking both economically and demographically. Meanwhile, China, India, and South Korea are producing highly talented graduates who could be assets to British businesses. Yet EU rules mean we are turning them away in order to allow in unlimited EU citizens, irrespective of their skills.

We need to be able to control our borders. We need an Australian, points-based immigration system so that we judge people by their talents, not where they come from. How do we do it? Vote Leave.

25 FEB 2016

Direct democracy - not Brussels bureaucracy - will save Europe

It's still four months until the referendum, but the prospect of the British people demanding Brexit is already breaking the continental consensus. Dutch voters now want their own referendum on EU membership. Democracy looks to be contagious.

Democracy – especially direct democracy – is antithetical to the European project. The Brussels bureaucracy is predicated on top-down, one-size-fits-all government that takes no account of differences between countries, and can't be held to account by the people.

Time and again, Euro elites have demonstrated their contempt for the will of European voters. Just look at what they did to the mother of democracy, Greece. When voters elected an anti-austerity government, the parasitic paymasters in Brussels forced through an even tougher austerity package just to show them.

But there is nothing Eurocrats hate more than a referendum. Which is why, in the past, it has simply ignored them. When voters in several EU countries gave the 'wrong' answer on the EU Constitution in 2007, Brussels first made them vote again and then decided to bypass the voters altogether and introduce it as the Lisbon Treaty instead.

But now the Euro empire is creaking. Like in 1848, the people are rising up against the remote, elitist ancien regime. But unlike in 1848, the change isn't coming through violent revolution, but peacefully at the ballot box.

Over the next few months, the Remain campaign will accuse Eurosceptics of being anti-European. They are so wrong. 300 years ago, Britain imported a Dutch king, and with him limited, constitutional monarchy. Today, we are exporting direct democracy back to Holland. This referendum is Britain's chance to spread the European ideas that underpinned the Enlightenment across the continent again. Brexit can set Europe free.

24 FEB 2016

My favourite Brexit bull stories

Most countries in the world aren't part of the EU - and much of the rest of the world is doing a lot better than the EU. This obvious truth hasn't stopped Downing Street and the Remain Campaign pumping out a lot of scare stories warning of the dire consequences of voting to leave.

Here are my favourite Brexit bull stories:

Football will be in jeopardy, warned Karen Brady, preposterously.
What's that game they play in Brazil and Argentina involving 22 men kicking a ball?

Brexit would damage Heathrow and Gatwick, airport bosses told us.
Anyone would think they didn't have planes in China, India, or the USA.

Welsh farming would collapse, predicted Labour's Carwyn Jones.
Because apparently there were no farms before we joined the EU .... or something.

Science would suffer, claimed Boris Johnson's little brother Jo.
Somehow he forgot to mention that the European Clinical Trials Directive has killed off vital research into new lifesaving drugs.

Asset management would flee from the City to Dublin and Luxembourg, screamed the FT.
Just as the City collapsed after we refused to join the euro fifteen years ago.

The Six Nations rugby wouldn't be the same, tweeted Welsh Remain, for no other reason than Wales were playing a rugby match.
It's not like France and Italy joined our Home Nations tournament, is it?

London would collapse, professed another sock-puppet group for the European project.
Not a view shared by London's most successful mayor, Boris.

Germany would no longer trade with us, threatened a German MP.
Except that Britain is Germany's largest export market. Does he seriously think Audi, Siemens, and Bosch will stop wanting our custom just because we leave a political union?

Brexit would trigger the disintegration of the EU, cautioned Barclays.
And the downside?

23 FEB 2016

If 5,000 ISIS fighters have entered the EU, how does the EU make Britain safer?

The Remain campaign claims leaving the EU threatens our national security. But how safe is Britain in the EU? The head of Europol, Rob Wainright, reports that up to 5,000 ISIS fighters are already back in Europe. The real threat to our security is the EU's failure to control its borders.

When I put the Europol chief's point to the Home Secretary in Parliament yesterday, she claimed being outside the borderless Schengen zone is enough to keep us safe. But her answer is disingenuous. As her Cabinet colleague Iain Duncan Smith has said, we can't control our borders for as long as we are forced to accept free movement of people from the EU.

The threat of another terror attack in Europe because of the lack of border controls isn't idle. In fact, recent EU actions may have made it more likely. The deal with Turkey that will give 75 million Turkish citizens visa-free access to Schengen countries, along with residency for 400,000 Syrian refugees, from October of this year risks making it even easier for ISIS fighters to get in.

There is no point fighting a war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq if we don't also rigorously control our own borders. The EU's determination to maintain free movement come what may prioritises federalism above security. Voting Leave is the safer choice.

22 FEB 2016

Vote Leave, end managed decline

Since World War II, the governing philosophy of the British Establishment has been managed decline. Decade after decade, we've been told we're not strong enough to make it on our own. The pro-EU camp is appealing to the same backward-looking defeatism today. But we don't need to resign ourselves to self-doubt and decline. The way to end it is to vote Leave.

Europhiles have long tried to portray Eurosceptics as parochial, pessimistic, 'little Englanders.' It's not just a smear, it's a smokescreen.

Our case is based on freedom, democracy, and internationalism – just read the extraordinary pieces by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. We're arguing that if we stay true to the ideals that made Britain great in the past, we will have a bright future.

It's the Europhile case that is really based on parochialism and pessimism. Remainers see Britain as too small to be anything more than a province in a European political union. But it's more than that: they have so little faith in freedom and democracy as the engines of progress that they are willing to sell out both for the sake of hiding behind the tariff wall of the cosy Euro club.

The EU cannot survive. In fact, it is already failing fast. Ultimately, the European project is based on a conceit that human economic and social affairs can best be organised by grand design. The would-be designers in Whitehall have lost confidence in their ability to get the big decisions right, which is why they want to defer to technocrats in Brussels. Instead they should draw the opposite conclusion: stop trying to organise Britain by grand design, and set people free to run their own lives.

We don't need to abandon ourselves to decay. Let's vote Leave, and place a vote of confidence in the British people.

19 FEB 2016

The 'renegotiation' charade is over. Let the campaign begin!

This morning the PM will come back from Brussels duff deal in hand. Months of talks that we were promised would reform Britain's relationship with the EU have changed nothing. Today marks the end of the 'new EU' myth. Now the real campaign begins.

The PM intended these talks to show that the question before Britain wasn't In or Out. He wanted to show there was a third way – that the EU could change. Instead, he has proved it can't. We now know categorically that the EU will hold onto the 'acquis communautaire' come what may. Powers once taken by Brussels will never be given back.

It's because the EU will never stop centralising that the stakes are so high. This referendum isn't just In or Out; it's now or never.

The important thing in the Leave campaign is that Leave wins. It doesn't matter who leads it. It doesn't matter who said what about which campaign group. It doesn't matter who takes the credit.

Instead of focusing on the few big names, we need to look toward the many. To win the referendum, we need to build a broad coalition of voters – bigger than any political party has assembled in recent history. If the campaign is narrow and sectional, we will lose.

We need multiple voices to reach out to people of multiple different backgrounds and opinions. We have to emphasise that people who disagree on everything else should vote Leave to ensure that those disagreements are thrashed out in a democratic, sovereign Parliament, not ignored by remote officials. Above all, we need to be positive, and show that Britain will be better off out.

We have four months to secure a bright future for Britain. Let's work together to Leave.

18 FEB 2016

Our national security depends on NATO, not the EU

What keeps the peace in Europe? Euro elites like to pretend it's the EU. Yet for most of the last 70 years, only NATO has stood between Western Europe and war. The latest Russian incursion into British air space yesterday should remind us that NATO remains vital to our national security today.

Europhiles have long tried to argue that the European project ensured peace after the Second World War. It's nonsense. Almost as soon as the WWII ended, Europe was divided against itself again – only along different battle lines. The Cold War gave Western Europe a common foe, and a common interest. What kept it safe was NATO's military might and nuclear umbrella.

The USSR's collapse led many Western policymakers to believe that Russian imperialism was over. Despite proving that assumption wrong, Vladimir Putin has done nothing to dampen their optimism.

Hoping to pacify Putin, President Obama openly sought to 'reset' relations with Russia. He scaled back missile defence shields in Eastern Europe. He let Putin to cross his 'red lines' with impunity. He allowed Russia to become the regional powerbroker in the Middle East. But the result is that as NATO has receded, Russia has filled the vacuum.

In recent years, Russia has invaded Georgia and Ukraine. Russian bombing raids in Syria are aimed not at destroying ISIS, but at enabling the brutal Assad regime to crush other rebel groups. Russian operatives poisoned Alexander Litvinenko on British soil.

The increasing regularity of Russian attempts to probe the NATO air defences in the UK, not to mention in Turkey, shows that the threat she poses to our security and that of our allies is growing. NATO's recent decline has made us less safe. Euro-federalism won't protect us. We need to sustain the international alliance that does.

17 FEB 2016

MEPs' power to reject the PM's deal means there is no deal

Yesterday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz confirmed MEPs wouldn't ratify the Prime Minister's so-called EU deal until after the referendum – and could decide not to approve it. To all intents and purposes, that means there is no deal.

Cameron's claim that his 'renegotiation' would be "legally binding" was baseless from the beginning. A binding renegotiation would require a treaty change. The vague promise of a future treaty change carries no legal weight at all. Schulz's comments just highlight that whatever the PM claims to have agreed is still at the EU's discretion.

Of course, even if the European Parliament approves the agreement, the EU will still hold all the cards. Even the 'emergency brake' – the only remotely substantive change – wouldn't be in our hands. And that is assuming the Eurocracy doesn't water down the duff deal even more.

The emptiness of the 'renegotiation' proves how inconsequential our influence in the EU really is. I suspect that even the PM, committed Europhile that he is, must be surprised by how fruitless his endless talks with European leaders have been. If the EU won't give us anything we want on this fundamental question, why expect it to represent our interests on anything else?

Polls show support for Leave is growing as people see through the spin. If the PM has achieved anything, it is to show us how much sovereignty we have given up.

The starting gun on the referendum race will be fired on Friday. The choice is binary: keep the Commission cartel in control, or take back our democracy. Let's make sure we win!

15 FEB 2016

The digital revolution will make journalism better

Media insiders seem miserable that the Independent will become the first national newspaper to ditch print and move online. But there's reason to be optimistic: the Internet has made a lot of industries more efficient – and it will do the same for journalism.

The digital revolution has brought about the biggest expansion in access to information since the invention of the printing press. The Internet has made it cheaper, easier, and quicker than ever to find out the latest news.

Journalists sometimes complain that the replacement of traditional reporting by blogs and Twitter brings down quality. They bemoan the clickbait and dumbing down. Many are assuming that's the direction the Independent will now go in.

I'm not so sure: I suspect one reason newspapers have resorted to clickbait online is to subsidise lossmaking print editions. In the long-term, scrapping print could free up resources for more serious investigative journalism.

Besides, if the Internet is breaking the big, corporate cartel that used to dominate the industry, that can only be good for consumers. As in any industry, competition drives quality up. In fact, there are already a number of genuinely interesting online-only media outlets: CapX, the International Business Times, the Daily Beast.

Disruptive innovation is at the root of human progress. So don't weep for the Indy; it's going to a better place. 

15 FEB 2016

Betting on the EU is the risky option

Last week, European bank shares collapsed in value. Investors bet against the Eurozone in a big way. So why are Establishment elites still telling us it’s safe to stake our economic future on the EU? 

The European project has been an economic failure. It has led to sovereign debt crises in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. It has given Europeans years of economic stagnation and unemployment. It has helped to make Europe the world’s only declining trading bloc. 

For all the systemic economic problems Britain has, we’re in a better position than the Eurozone. That’s part of the reason so many EU migrants are coming to work here. But the Eurozone is a risk to our future too: if we’re too exposed to the Eurozone, its problems will become ours. 

The amount of trade Britain does with the EU has been consistently declining. But Brussels regulations still keep it artificially high. Tariffs on goods from outside the EU, coupled with the fact we can’t strike our own free trade deals with non-EU countries, make us depend on EU trade more than we otherwise would. 

Any investor will tell you that the safest option is always to diversify your portfolio. Overreliance on one asset is risky. If we leave the EU, we’ll keep trading with Europe, but we’ll be free to make our own trade deals with non-EU countries too. Diversifying our trade links is what will give us economic security. 

Hitching our economy to the sinking EU ship is a risk we can’t afford to take. The safe option is to vote leave, and take back control. 

1.       Listen to the markets: betting on Europe is the risky option

12 FEB 2016

Take a Short cut: UKIP in Parliament shows we can do more with less

The cost of doing research has fallen. Google finds more information in seconds than a team of people can produce in days. So why were Opposition MPs lobbying for more taxpayers' money for SpAds yesterday? It's the Westminster cartel again.

As the only MP for a party that got 3.9 million votes, I was entitled to a huge allocation of Short money funding for Opposition parties. But unlike the rest, I decided to take only a fraction of it. We were determined to do more with less.

Several months on, our small team in Parliament proves efficient politics is possible. Look at our output:

Our work has triggered two Westminster Hall debates. We are holding ministers to account, and offering genuine alternatives to the failed orthodoxies of the Establishment elites. And we're just getting started.

The big, corporate Opposition parties claim they can't be effective without masses of public money. In fact, the opposite is true: parties that rely on ever-increasing public subsidies have a vested interest in Big Government. That means they can't hold it to account.

It's because we've shown parties can do more with less that the politics subsidy is now being cut. On Short money, the Government is following UKIP's lead. We stood up for taxpayers against the Westminster cartel, and won. How's that for effective Opposition?

11 FEB 2016

Coming together for Brexit

Brilliant news for Brexiteers: yesterday ICM showed Leave ahead for the first time since 2013. It also showed that 17% of voters are still undecided. So it was great to get together yesterday with Eurosceptics from all parties to make the internationalist, optimistic, engaging case for voting Leave.

Yesterday the Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman hosted a fantastic event called the Good Life After Brexit. 

It brought together speakers from across the spectrum: Labour MP Graham Stringer, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr., Conservatives Steve Baker, Bernard Jenkin, David Davis, Liam Fox, and John Redwood, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and Vote Leave's Matthew Elliott.

What was great about it wasn't just the variety of people who came together. It was also the message. 

To win the referendum, we need to reach out beyond die-hard Eurosceptics to people who may never have thought about the EU before. We need to counter the scaremongering of David Cameron and co. in Project Fear.

That means presenting the positive case for voting Leave: making sure people understand that we will have better trade links abroad, more money for our public services, real control of everything from energy to banks to fish stocks, and  genuine freedom.

The ruling elites fear Brexit because they fear the people.

Eurosceptics need to show the British public that this is our opportunity to take back control of our country and our lives.

Let's make sure we take it!

10 FEB 2016

Cheap credit has crashed the economy

Since the financial crisis, ruling elites have bet the ranch on one thing: cheap credit. The idea is banks keep lending money they don't have. People go on borrowing and spending more. The problem is this approach is fundamentally wrong.

Monetary stimulus didn't start in 2007. Policymakers have been doing it since the mid-1980s. They tried it after the market crash in 1987. And again after the Asian financial crisis in 1997. And again after the collapse of LTCM in 1998. And again after the dotcom crash in 2000.

Every single time there has been a market correction, governments and central banks artificially inflated markets again – and provoked a worse correction to come.

Today's news shows people are expecting the same thing now. Pundits are asking not whether Janet Yellen will cut interest rates, but when.

We can't go on like this.

Credit does not exist to be a tool for officials to direct the economy. One person's credit should be another's savings, or deferred consumption.

The problem with the last 30 years of cheap money is that there is no correlation between credit and savings. Artificial credit is no one's deferred consumption.

The only thing cheap credit has created is malinvestment: buildings that should never have been built, businesses that should never have taken off, ventures that should never have been started.

Chronic malinvestment means there will eventually be an almighty day of reckoning. It could be now.

A good shorthand for the cheap credit orthodoxy is Osbrown economics: the monetary consensus of the political Establishment. The groupthink of the people who attend Davos.

When the day of reckoning comes, many will be looking for a way out. An alternative to the failed orthodoxy. That's why I wrote a paper called After Osbrown.

If you're writing an investor note in a City firm today, you could do worse than taking a look.

10 FEB 2016

The markets are right: Europe's banks aren't safe

Yesterday, Europe's banks entered a new crisis as their shares plummeted. Why? Didn't central banks say the financial sector was safe? Our banking paper explains what's gone wrong.

The banking system was meant to be fixed after the financial crisis. We were told banks were holding more capital, making fewer risky investments, being more prudent.

Yesterday's market rout showed it's not true.

To understand why, just look at what prompted investors to panic now: the EU's decision to give up on taxpayer bail-outs, and force bank depositors and creditors to bail in failed banks instead.

Think about this for a second: the idea that the taxpayer might not be on the hook if the banks fail wouldn't bother markets unless the banks were at serious risk of failure. What this panic shows is that investors were counting on taxpayer bail-outs. In other words, nothing has changed since 2007.

A few months ago, UKIP in Parliament published a policy paper explaining why another banking crisis was inevitable. Capital requirements for banks are still far too low. Too many dodgy assets – like the sovereign debt of EU member states – are still being labelled risk-free. The Bank of England's stress test was far too lenient.

It's no surprise, though, that the banks haven't been fixed. Everything policymakers have done since the financial crisis has perpetuated the problem. Banks have been subsidised with low interest rates and public deposit insurance. They have been encouraged to take big gambles without bearing the risk.

The banking cartel needs to be broken. Banks should be genuinely competitive, not propped up by the public purse. We need an alternative to the failed Brown/Osborne consensus – as I wrote in After Osbrown.

Our paper points the way to real reform.

09 FEB 2016

Anglo-French friendship shows we don't need the EU

David Cameron's latest EU scare tactic – claiming a vote to Leave would bring Calais migrants to Britain - isn't just dishonest, it's absurd. In reality, Britain's independent, bilateral border treaty with France is a great example of what can be achieved without the EU.

The reason Britain can carry out border checks at Calais is the bilateral Treaty of Le Touquet. Leaving the EU can't affect it one iota. Besides, France is committed to keeping it. Only 4 months ago, Bernard Cazeneuve, the Interior Minister, called the idea of scrapping the treaty "a foolhardy path," saying "a humanitarian disaster would ensue."

The PM's fearmongering makes it sound like Britain's international ties would fall apart without the EU. But actually Britain's friendship with France – historically our fiercest foe - shows how much can be achieved with bilateral treaties.

A century before the European Common Market, Britain and France established free trade – thanks to the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty of 1860. We formalised peace with the Entente Cordiale in 1904. Just 6 years ago, we agreed 50 years of mutual defence and security cooperation in the Lancaster House Treaties.

David Cameron's pretence that the EU helps us secure our borders would be laughable if the subject weren't so serious. Isn't this the PM who promised to cut immigration to the tens of thousands, but overshoots his own target by 300,000 every year? He knows as well as anyone that as long as we stay in the EU, we have no control of our borders - that's why he is putting up this smokescreen.

Britain and France prove that independent, sovereign European nation states can cooperate perfectly well – much better, in fact, than the dysfunctional EU. We don't need to be afraid of taking back control.

08 FEB 2016

Yes to green technology, no to subsidy

Wrightbus is currently testing new hybrid buses that use power recovered from their brakes. Where did this clean, green tech come from? Think it was funded by State subsidies? Guess again. It's from a completely commercial industry: Formula 1 racing.

F1 green tech is transforming transport – and not just on the roads. Williams F1, which designed the original flywheel system being copied on the buses, is working on similar technology for trains. It is even inspiring hybrid technology EasyJet is developing for planes.

Did I mention all this is being pioneered in Britain?

The green tech trickledown is exclusively the result of market demand. F1's cutting-edge engineering innovations are commercially viable thanks to millions of racing fans worldwide – the kind of people Big Green lobbies against.

According to Establishment orthodoxy, this shouldn't happen: green technology is only supposed to come about through redistribution by the State, subsidising eco-friendly manufacturers at the expense of consumers.

But the subsidy model doesn't work. It means manufacturers never have to make competitive products because they can always rely on handouts from the taxpayer. Subsidies are nothing more than corporate welfare.

Subsidies may even hold back viable clean tech. To quote flywheel developers Torotrak: "The conventional wisdom, boosted by government subsidies, suggests electrification is the only way to curb fuel use in cars, but flywheel technology could be a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way."

Last week, UKIP in Parliament published a new paper, co-authored by UKIP's Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer MEP. We make the case that to see a real renewable revolution in energy, we need to scrap redistribution and set the market free.

If we genuinely want green tech to take off, we need to say yes to new technology, no to subsidy.

05 FEB 2016

More power to the sheriffs

Perhaps it's because it's the term I used when I first proposed directly police chiefs over a decade ago. Maybe it's because there's something a little bureaucratic and pedestrian about the word "commissioner". Whatever the reason, I still think we should call Police and Crime Commissioners sheriff.

When locally elected sheriffs .... sorry .... Police & Crime Commissioners were introduced in 2012, they were met with a lot of cynicism. But four years on, PCCs have proved their worth. The Home Secretary's new plan to give them more power is a step in the right direction.

The idea behind elected sheriffs / PCCs was to make police services accountable to local people, and put a single person in charge. Experience shows they have succeeded. The Home Affairs Select Committee's PCC report confirmed: "PCCs have provided greater clarity of leadership for policing."

PCCs have also had one big success: overthrowing the Association of Chief Police Officers. That means policing now reflects local priorities, instead of national, top-down directives from unaccountable officials.

Of course, not all PCCs have been brilliant. But that's the beauty of electing them: commissioners who fail to serve local people properly can be turfed out in elections this May.

Critics of the PCCs said they would politicise the police and disempower the professionals. But recent reports of historic police scandals and cover-ups show how important accountability is. It's not enough just to trust the professionals: institutions need to be responsible to the people they work for.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary not only confirmed that PCCs are here to stay, but announced plans to increase their powers over criminal justice. This is good news: the Crown Prosecution Service is as closed to the public as the police were. It would be fantastic if PCCs could hold it to account.

04 FEB 2016

When the electorate's angry, you need a smile to win

For months, everyone has said Donald Trump is way ahead in the Republican race. The liberal media – his top publicists - built him up as a bogeyman. But in the Iowa caucus, something else happened: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stole his thunder. Authenticity and optimism trumped anger.

Cruz and Rubio show that successful anti-politics isn't about playing the electorate's anger back to them. Both got elected to the Senate in the anti-Washington Tea Party wave, but both channelled the frustration of the electorate into real political programmes. Cruz is campaigning as a conviction conservative and Constitutionalist. Rubio as a free-market optimist.

In Iowa, Cruz showed the Establishment can be beaten. He ran on an anti-subsidy platform in an ethanol-subsidy state. Political practitioners say that can never work. The state's governor even campaigned against him. But he went on to win the caucus anyway. Iowans showed the Establishment they can't be so easily bought.

Marco Rubio – who came a close third to Trump's second – surged in Iowa at the last minute because he campaigned on a vision for the future. He gave voters an optimistic alternative to Trump's abuse and vitriol.

Far from the anti-Establishment crusader he pretends to be, Trump could turn out to be the Establishment's alternative to Cruz. Mainstream media and Republican elites are starting to support him because he is much less of a threat than Cruz to the crony corporatist cartel. Trump's protectionism, Big Business background, and indifference to Big Government would continue the status quo politics Washington insiders love.

But real supporters of anti-politics should feel positive. Iowa showed that the people have more wisdom than sneering Establishment elites believe. Authenticity and optimism are what will make America great again.

03 FEB 2016

New EU deal? We don't even have our hands on the emergency brake

David Cameron's deal with Donald Tusk was meant to show Britain's relationship with Brussels could be reformed. Instead, it has proven the EU is incapable of change. The only way to keep Britain safe from the broken European project is to vote Leave.

We always knew the "tough renegotiation" was just spin, designed to mask the fact that the PM hadn't really changed anything. But the emptiness of the deal has surprised even Eurosceptics: there really is no substance to it at all.

Take the so-called "emergency brake" – the PM's signature moratorium on in-work benefits for EU workers. It's hardly a massive change, but he couldn't even secure that. Instead, any benefits restriction could only happen in exceptional circumstances, and at the sole discretion of the European Council. We don't even have our hands on the brake.

The same is true of the "red card," which was supposed to allow national parliaments to veto EU legislation. In practice, it means 55% of legislators across 28 member states would have to agree to block legislation, and that would only trigger a "comprehensive discussion" in the European Council.

This "renegotiation" was supposed to show that we could bring back control from Brussels without leaving the EU. Instead, it has proven we can't. There will be no repatriation of powers, no restoration of Parliamentary sovereignty, no national supremacy over borders, courts, trade, energy, employment, tax, fish – the list is endless. The bureaucrats in Brussels are still in charge.

So the British people have a simple decision to make: do we stay in this unreformed, undemocratic, reactionary political project? Or do we take back control of our country and our future?

There is only one sensible choice: we need to vote Leave.

02 FEB 2016

Mortgaging Whitehall to the Gulf sums up Osbornomics

The Department of Health is subject to sharia law. You read that right: to turn London into the "Islamic finance capital of the world," George Osborne secretly made three Whitehall buildings the property of Middle Eastern banks under an Islamic bond scheme, so they are now governed by Islamic law. The question is: why?

Many people will find the idea that an external legal code applies to the heart of British Government disquieting – and rightly so. But there is a more disturbing question: why is the Chancellor using public assets to prop up a bond scheme? Or put it another way: if the scheme were viable in the private market, why would he need to subsidise it?

The truth, I suspect, is that this is classic Osborne corporatism. Like his dodgy tax deal with Google, and his Northern Powerhouse subsidies, this stinks of favouritism for Big Islamic Banks and oil sheikhs that may benefit the Chancellor but sells British taxpayers short.

But if you're outraged about a few buildings being mortgaged to powerful foreign interests, just think about the public finances more broadly: the Government is totally dependent on borrowed money. We're still running massive deficits every year. Total declared public debt is over £1.5 trillion. The whole country is being mortgaged.

If just £200 million of debt means the Department of Health has to be sharia-compliant, what kind of leverage over Britain do you think £1.5 trillion buys?

Debt and corporatism led Britain to financial ruin in 2007. But instead of changing course from Gordon Brown, Osborne has kept on going. To be a successful sovereign country again, Britain needs to change course: that means balanced public finances, free markets, and sound money.

01 FEB 2016

Trust in technology

Tech sceptics often fear the Internet is inhuman. We're so wrapped up in the global village, they say, we're forgetting how to build real human relationships. Turns out it's not true: technology is actually helping us to trust each other.

The Internet – as Wired explains - is building new networks of trust. Yelp tells you if you can trust a restaurant. Uber allows you to track the stranger who drives you home. Dating apps allow people to get to know each other before they meet in person.

"But hold on," you say. "Aren't all these open to abuse?"

Obviously the Internet isn't vice-free: it provides a platform for anonymous trolls, scammers, and stalkers too. But here's the thing: the Internet is providing much greater accountability than what it has replaced.

People used to put their faith in big, central institutions. The Gentleman in Whitehall was meant to keep us safe. But we've seen that was all a mirage: Parliament, Government, the media, the regulators, the church, the police have all been exposed for scandals, cover-ups, negligence, and corruption. Popular faith in national institutions is at an all-time low.

So instead of trusting institutions, people are starting to trust each other again. How? Through technology. The Internet enables open data and transparency, so that people can make informed decisions instead of putting blind faith in a remote bureaucrat to decide for them.

Amid the bad stories that get reported about Uber or Airbnb, let's not lose sight of the overall good story: technology is gradually restoring our faith in each other.

29 JAN 2016

America's Presidential primaries have lessons for our democracy

Next week, the Iowa caucuses kick off the US Presidential race in earnest. So far, British coverage has been transfixed by Donald Trump. But the Presidential primaries are much more interesting for what they can teach us about democracy.

Different states' electoral systems embody different models of democracy.

The Iowa caucuses are relatively restrictive: only party members can attend, and there is only one caucus location per precinct. As a result, turnout tends to be low, and the candidates that do best will those that appeal to a narrow, self-selecting group.

At the other end of the spectrum, fifteen states – from Alabama to Wisconsin – have open primaries. Anyone can cast a vote – not just party members. That means the winning candidate is more likely to be someone with broad appeal.

A big problem with our democracy today is that a narrow, zealous minority gets to choose who is in office, while the vast majority are so fed up with the political class, they are totally apathetic. Democracy has been subverted; as William Butler Yeats put it, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

The aim should be to do the opposite: energise the best people to come out and vote, and ensure the winner has a real democratic mandate. The answer already exists in fifteen states: open primaries.

But what do we have in Britain? The Iowa caucuses are a free-for-all compared to the selection process for candidates here. A tiny minority of voters pick their party's local candidate for Parliament. Many candidates are special advisers parachuted in by the central party machine. Parliament has become a self-selecting cartel.

If we want to restore our democracy, we need to burst the Westminster bubble: open primaries are part of the solution. The rest is all part of The Plan.

28 JAN 2016

Don't panic about Apple's slowdown: that's how capitalism is meant to work

Apple's slowing sales have made a lot of people panic. But for consumers it could actually be good news: Apple is selling less because other manufacturers are catching up. Capitalist competition is what makes producers more creative and consumers better off.

One of the big myths about capitalism is that it allows a stable, wealthy elite to line their pockets with profits. But that's not how it works: in a free market, a company that makes a groundbreaking new product will face massive competition from others who see an opportunity to imitate it. As they catch up, its profits will consistently decrease. The only way to stay on top is to keep creating and innovating.

Don't believe me? Think about some of the world's most successful corporations today: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Walmart. Where were they 30 years ago? Google didn't even exist. Now think about some of the biggest corporations then? IBM, DuPont, Bethlehem Steel – which has long since disappeared.

The big names have changed, and they'll change again. Who knows what Apple will be doing in 30 years' time? Maybe they won't exist. Maybe they'll focus on Apple Pay and become a bank. Either, way disruptive innovation will change the market - and transfer wealth from elites to consumers.

It's the industries in which the big names haven't changed that should make us suspicious: big banks, energy, American car manufacturers. Too often, the reason they survive is because they have colluded with Government to rig the rules and keep out the competition. Too often, the taxpayer bails them out – transferring wealth from ordinary people to the corporate elites. That's not capitalism; that's crony corporatism.

I hope Apple meets the competition with wonderful new innovations. But if its competitors pick up the baton and out-innovate Apple, so much the better! Market-driven innovation is what makes all of us better off.

27 JAN 2016

Fed up with big corporate tax avoidance? Vote Leave

Google is in the news for avoiding UK corporation tax. It's not the only multinational to do it: Starbucks and Apple have done the same. So how come our Government can't do anything about it? Because of the EU - and for two key reasons.

First, EU law allows multinational corporations to pay tax on European revenue in whichever EU member state they claim to be based. So companies obviously pick the state with the lowest tax rates. This is a tax loophole the EU intentionally created.

So, despite having thousands of employees in the UK, Google denies having a 'permanent establishment' in the UK, instead claiming it is a UK 'branch' of its Irish operation. It therefore avoids tax in the UK.

Second, EU law prevents the UK clamping down on tax-avoidance. One wheeze is for a company to move intellectual property offshore. It then pays licence fees to that offshore entity, shifting its profits from the UK to a tax haven. UK law seeks to prevent this by levying a 25% withholding tax on licence fees transferred to a tax haven.

However, Holland does not apply any such tax and EU law stops the UK applying a withholding tax on transfers to a Dutch company. Therefore multinationals set up Dutch companies to channel licence fees from their UK company to whichever tax haven holds their intellectual property, thereby avoiding UK tax.

Here's the key point: for as long as Britain stays in the EU, we can't close Google's tax loophole, or Starbucks', or Facebook's. Our Government is bound by EU law, and is powerless to change it.

We cannot demand that Google pay its fair share of UK tax unless we take back control of our tax law from Brussels. The British people have the power to change the rules: the solution is to vote Leave.

27 JAN 2016

Low interest rates make pensioners poorer to keep bankers rich

British people are living longer, healthier lives. That's fantastic! But we're also facing a problem: the Bank of England is making it harder to save for retirement than ever before.

Mark Carney recently announced he would be keeping interest rates at record lows of 0.5% for an eighth consecutive year. Borrowers will see that as good news. But it's very bad news for savers – and people with pensions most of all.

Artificially low interest rates are making it far too hard for private pension funds to get a return on investments. Years of low yields mean many funds are in crisis – or have had to stake their customers' retirements on higher-risk assets. Either way, savers suffer.

Low interest rates hurt insurers too, for the same reason. If investment returns are lower, premiums have to be higher - meaning policy holders have to pick up the tab.

In every case, the debasement of currency transfers wealth from ordinary people to wealthy corporate elites.

At the same time, the State pension is in crisis. We know pension liabilities are unfunded in the long-term. Where's the security for retirement there?

Pension funding should be a policy priority. Instead it's being brushed under the carpet. As the pressure on State pensions grows, it's all the more important for people to be able to save independently. It's time to stop putting bankers first, and raise the rates.

26 JAN 2016

British business will boom after Brexit but suffer if we stay

More and more businesses are debunking the BSE myth that Brexit will damage our economy. The question we should be asking is not about the risks of leaving the EU, but the risks of staying.

Today, Unilever became the latest major manufacturer to say that Brexit would make no difference to its future plans in Britain. Toyota and Nissan have already stated the same.

"That's all very well," I hear you say. "But what about the businesses that want Britain to stay?"

That's true: there's Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bank of America - the bankers who brought us the last financial crisis, and are now trying to buy the referendum. There's the super-rich elites David Cameron was trying so hard to impress at Davos. Are these really people who have Britain's best interests at heart?

The reason parts of Big Business love the EU is that the EU is a cosy corporatist club. It enables a tiny clique to rig the rules and suffocate the competition.

The people telling us Britain can't survive Brexit are the same people who said we couldn't survive outside the euro. In fact, the then CEO of Unilever, Niall Fitzgerald, told us, "Britain will ...lose influence, investment, jobs, and economic growth." But look at Britain – and Unilever – today, and then look at Europe.

If European economic union is such a good idea, why are Continental countries in a state of economic emergency? Why is Eurozone unemployment sky-high? Why are EU migrants queueing up to work in Britain?

The European project has proved to be an economic disaster. Shackling Britain to more European integration would mean Britain faced the same economic future as Greece, Spain, and France. Tell me again how that makes us better off?

25 JAN 2016

BT Openreach is the Internet's Network Rail

Ask Essex commuters their opinion on Network Rail, and you won't find many who think it should be the model for national infrastructure projects. So is why the Government using exactly the same model for broadband?

Network Rail is an unaccountable public monopoly. BT Openreach is an unaccountable private monopoly. Just as Network Rail controls the whole of our railways, BT Openreach controls our broadband infrastructure. It faces no competition, and has total leverage over its clients. So in both cases, the result is the same: poor service for consumers.

BT Openreach has received £1.7 billion of taxpayers' money to make broadband faster. Yet 5.7 million people across Britain are still stuck with Internet connections that don't meet the industry's minimum standard. And that doesn't just affect households, but businesses too. BT's poor service is costing Britain money – and the Government is rewarding it for failure.

That's why I signed a cross-party report calling on the regulator Ofcom to hold BT to account. The report's main recommendation is that Openreach should be separate from BT, which as a service provider as well as the infrastructure owner has an unfair advantage.

I think we can go further still. Making Openreach an independent private monopoly won't solve the core issue. We need to start looking into ways to break the infrastructure monopolies altogether, and introduce real competition. Services won't improve until customers have real choice.

22 JAN 2016

Oxfam's crusade against capitalism will keep Africa poor

Oxfam is on another crusade against inequality. It claims the richest 1% will soon own more than the other 99%, and points the predictable finger at capitalism. But Oxfam's Occupy agenda is dishonest: the free market is finally ending Africa's poverty. The socialist politics of aid agencies are selling out the world's poorest people.

Fifty years ago, Asia, not Africa, was the poorest place on Earth. Famine was endemic, and millions starved. Yet today, famine in Asia is a thing of the past. What changed?

The big shift was down to capitalism. India, China, and countries across the Far East opened themselves up to private investment and foreign markets. Catastrophic Communist economic planning was reined in. As a result, living standards rapidly rose.

Meanwhile, what has happened to Africa? Many countries that were once rich have gone backwards. Rhodesia was once the breadbasket of Africa; Zimbabwe, under Mugabe, has become one of the continent's poorest countries. Dictators, warlords, and militias have perpetrated genocides and entrenched economic collapse. That is, until recently.

In the last few years, things have started to change. Corruption is being constrained, and democracy starting to develop. Investment – instead of aid - is flowing in. Wealth and health are on the up. "Capitalism," as Fraser Nelson writes, "is lifting people out of poverty at the fastest rate in human history." 

But what's Oxfam's big solution? Clamping down on tax havens. Now let's be honest: making sure that HMRC gets more money from the jet-setting rich won't make life any better for the African poor. Oxfam is just selling the socialist dogma that - as a great lady once said - would rather the poor were poorer provided the rich were not so rich.

Markets – not redistribution - are the solution to Africa's problem. We need to remove the constraints on African economies – like EU tariffs – that keep the continent poor. We have to enable Africans to produce and sell, not abandon Africa to more decades of dependency. That's why UKIP believes in trade, not aid.

Oxfam needs to be honest: capitalism is making lives better; it's time to stop fighting it.

21 JAN 2016

Safer in the EU? There is no national security without national border control

Seen the Project Fear propaganda about Britain being safer in the EU? Here's something they won't tell you: Eurocrat-in-chief Jean-Claude Juncker is about to rip up the rules on the resettlement of refugees. No longer will asylum seekers be obliged to seek refuge in the first country they come to. Instead, Britain will be forced to accept EU asylum seeker quotas. Once again, the EU is taking control of our borders.

The "Dublin rules," which mean asylum seekers have to seek refuge in the EU country they entered first, made some sense. It is one thing for people fleeing state failure in Syria to seek asylum in Greece. It is another for people who have reached Calais to look to stay Britain instead of France. The rules were intended to distinguish between migrants by necessity and migrants by choice.

The reason Juncker wants to change the rules is because the numbers arriving are too high. Those countries that are first in line rightly feel they can't possibly handle the volume of people entering. But how will redistribution from Brussels solve the underlying problem?

Opening Europe's doors to mass immigration will only make the migrant crisis worse. Almost a million people have already risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean. Many drowned in the attempt. Creating EU asylum seekers quotas will only encourage more people to make the same perilous journey.

The EU's cack-handed approach to the migrant crisis is doomed to fail. It will make life worse for the countries of Europe, and worse for people fleeing state failure.

But here's the question for Britain: as long as we stay in the EU, our basic sovereign right to determine who lives in this country will be overridden by the preposterous political priorities of the Euro elites. Who honestly believes that makes us safer?

20 JAN 2016

The Bank of England's plan has failed

The economy is meant to be sorted by now, isn't it? The Chancellor told us he'd fix the roof while the sun was shining. The Bank of England said it would lead Britain back to prudence and prosperity. But now another downturn is approaching, it's clear our overlords have just repeated the mistakes of the past.

Yesterday, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, announced he wouldn't be raising interest rates from record lows until at least next year. "The world is weaker and UK growth has slowed," he explained. "Now is not yet the time to raise interest rates."

But when is the time? The Bank originally cut interest rates to 0.5% in 2009 as a temporary measure to deal with the financial crisis. They were meant to be raised again in 2010. Seven years later, the rates still haven't changed. Clearly the Bank's plan has failed.

The real reason Mark Carney won't touch interest rates is that our banks couldn't survive a rise. They are totally dependent on artificially cheap capital. Quantitative easing and ultra-loose monetary policy hasn't saved us from economic collapse. On the contrary: it has just redistributed more wealth from taxpayers to a crony cartel of Big Banks, and propped up a failed financial system.

The financial crisis was caused by seven years of massive public subsidies to the financial sector by central banks and central Government. And what have our wise leaders done to make sure it doesn't happen again? Another seven years of public subsidies to the financial sector. Well guess what: if you make the same bad decisions, you can expect the same results.

The UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit recently published a paper on the need for real banking reform. Our paper makes the case that to avert economic disaster, the Government needs to stop rewarding bankers for failure. This time, let's not repeat our mistakes.

19 JAN 2016

Want immigration equality? Vote Leave

This year many UK-resident non-EU citizens who earn below £35,000 face deportation. Lots of people are saying this is unfair. They're right: as EU members, Britain has a discriminatory immigration policy that penalises immigrants based on their nationality. There is only one route to fair immigration system: vote Leave.

The only reason the Home Secretary is clamping down on non-EU immigrants is because there is nothing she can do about immigrants from the EU. Deporting non-EU immigrants based on how much they earn is a futile attempt to reduce record high immigration figures. But as long as Britain remains in the EU, over 400 million EU citizens will automatically be free to live in Britain.

Our immigration system is failing us not just because the numbers coming in are uncontrolled but because it is essentially xenophobic. It allows all EU entrants in without question, but turns back doctors from Delhi and computer scientists from California. It discriminates between immigrants not based on what they can bring to Britain, but where they were born.

UKIP is the only party that supports an Australian points-style immigration system. We want to take control of our borders, and admit people based on their talents and the nation's needs – no matter where they come from. But it is impossible to implement that system while we locked into the workforce protectionism of the EU.

A fair immigration policy wouldn't reject people because of their nationality. There is only one way to make immigration equality possible: vote Leave.

18 JAN 2016

No, machines don't create mass unemployment

The Spectator has resurrected the old myth about technological unemployment. Millions of manual jobs will soon be done by robots, it warns; this is a 'potential catastrophe'! Except it's not true. Mechanisation didn't cause mass unemployment in the industrial revolution, and it won't today.

In 19th-century Britain, many artisanal industries became mechanised – but that didn't mean people had no work. On the contrary, mechanisation generated so many jobs that employment kept up with an unprecedented explosion in population as Britain broke the Malthusian trap. It made basic goods like clothes and fuel much cheaper to produce and transport, and therefore much cheaper to buy. It allowed millions of people to escape poverty and earn a stable wage.

Yes, there were losers as well as winners. Weavers, for example, didn't gain from the mechanisation of the textile industry. In fact, textile workers formed a movement – the Luddites – to protest against the rise of the machines, by smashing them up. But the employment losses suffered by a small group were outstripped by the enormous employment gains for a much larger one – and the wider economic gains for consumers.

The key point is this: mechanisation creates jobs because it creates demand. By cutting the cost of production, mechanisation means people have more money to spend. It stimulates consumption and demand. More demand calls for more supply – which means more people end up being employed in the production process.

Arguing that robots can replace all human jobs completely misses the point. It is Bastiat's 'broken window' fallacy: yes, industry may radically change so that people won't be doing some jobs in 50 years' time that they do today; but what about the wider effects we're not looking at?

If we actually get to a point where people don't need to work for a living, that won't create destitution; it will open up brand new economic activity. It will create enormous demand. And that will allow people to exchange their skill and labour in entirely new ways.

The Industrial Revolution made Britain the greatest country in the world. We shouldn't be afraid of harnessing that spirit today. Quite the opposite: market-led innovation will make Britain a world-leader again!

15 JAN 2016

Why are European judges writing our laws?

The European Court of Human Rights has decreed that employers now have the right to read their employees' private messages. This is a major change to UK law: why is it being made by unelected, unaccountable foreign judges?

Whether or not employers should be able to see employees' personal messages that are sent during work hours is an arguable point. Of course employers expect employees not to use work time for private purposes, or use a private messenger account for work – just ask Hillary Clinton. But employees can also justifiably claim that allowing their boss free access to their personal messages is a direct violation of their private property. There is a case both ways.

What can't be justified is that this is being decided by a handful of unelected officials in Strasbourg. Step back and think about this for a second: the decisions of a foreign court now take precedence over those of both our Parliament and our judges. We have simply surrendered our sovereignty. And for what?

The European Court of Human Rights was set up in the wake of the Second World War. It was meant to protect the people of Europe from appalling persecution by tyrannical governments. But instead it has been co-opted to do the opposite. By overriding national democracies and judiciaries, it has eroded the rights and liberties of the peoples of Europe.

We don't need an international court to determine the relationship between employers and employees. In fact, we don't need a uniform relationship at all. The solution is freedom of contract: individual employers and employees should have the right to work out their own terms and conditions through bargaining. Restricting that freedom doesn't preserve our rights, it violates them.

If we meekly give up our democracy, sovereignty, and liberty to an unaccountable administrative elite we have learnt nothing from the last century. The ECHR is no different from the EU: it's time we leave both, and take back our rights.

14 JAN 2016

Don't despair about deflation: falling prices are good!

Here's an amazing fact: in 1955, 1MB of computer memory cost over $400 million. Today, it costs less than 1 cent. Some of the world's poorest people today have better computers in their pockets than the world's richest people could afford 60 years ago. Falling prices have made billions of people better off.

High-tech deflation has transformed our lives. Think about communication: 30 years ago, calling a friend abroad cost a fortune in phone bills. Now you can do it for free with Skype or WhatsApp. For sending messages, snail mail was the only option. Now, with e-mail, it takes no time and costs consumers nothing.

Or think about information: Google and Wikipedia have given us more information at our fingertips today than you can find in the world's best libraries. The Internet has made information so cheap, even hard copy newspapers have become giveaways to compete.

The 'freeconomy' shows that the doom-and-gloom claims about falling productivity may be a myth. As a recent piece in Prospect argues, conventional productivity statistics miss the fact that the economic productivity of communication has soared by enormous proportions.

The papers today are full of panic about falling prices: oil, houses, food. But hang on: isn't that a good thing? If you pay less for petrol, heating, and groceries, aren't you better off? If you wouldn't have to borrow so much to buy a house, wouldn't you feel more secure?

Commentators are saying another recession is around the corner – and they're probably right. But the problem isn't that prices are too low, it's that they're too high. House prices and the stock market have risen much faster than wages. They've been driven up artificially by central banks. Asset price inflation has made elites rich as the expense of everyone else.

Falling prices are what we should be aiming for. If we can get more for less, that isn't something to panic about; it's economic progress!

13 JAN 2016

Staying in the EU is the risky option

A lot of people are asking what Britain would look like outside the EU. Businesses, employers, and investors are increasingly making the case that Britain will thrive outside the constraints of EU red tape. But here's the question that the Remain side doesn't want you to ask: what would Britain look like if we end up staying? The truth is we don't really know – but the signs aren't good.

The EU never stops integrating. It has changed radically just in the last few years. The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, gave the EU its own constitution, President, and Foreign Minister. The sovereign debt crisis enabled central EU institutions to dictate national policy in Italy, Ireland, and Greece – and even impose an unelected Prime Minister on the Italian people. Slowly but surely the EU is taking power away from member states and centralising it in Brussels.

So what does the future of Europe look like? If the last few years are any guide, it means more economic stagnation, more sovereign debt crises, and more open-door immigration both within and outside the EU. It means less democracy and accountability.

What will that mean for Britain? The Prime Minister claims to want Britain to opt out of the words 'ever-closer union'. But changing the semantics is one thing; changing the reality is another. When the EU introduces the next round of major integration, will Britain be dragged along with it? What protections will we have? From the PM's 'renegotiation', it doesn't look like we'll have any. But the truth is no one knows.

What we do know is that EU restrictions on Britain's trade with the rest of the world mean that Britain's economy is dangerously tied to Europe's. We'll be much more exposed to the EU's next economic crisis if we stay in the EU than if we leave.

Europe's future is out of our control. But Britain's future isn't. Brexit would give the British people – instead of the Brussels elite – the power to determine this country's destiny.

The risky option is to trust the bureaucrats in Brussels. The safe choice is to vote leave and take back control.

12 JAN 2016

China's stock market collapse highlights the hubris of central planning

China's stock market bubble has finally burst. The Communist leadership's attempt to control the economy has been shown up for what it is: the cause of chronic malinvestment. Once again, the hubris of central planners has made entire populations poorer.

The Chinese people are no strangers to suffering brought on by the economic insanity of their leaders. Chairman Mao – the worst mass murderer in human history – tyrannised the population through authoritarian central planning. His 'Great Leap Forward' ended up killing 45 million people in four years.

China's progress from a country in economic catastrophe to a global superpower in a few short decades is down to one thing: market forces. By liberalising the economy, making room for private enterprise and private investment, the Chinese government unleashed astonishing productivity growth and wealth creation.

But let's keep a sense of perspective: China is not a free country. People are still denied basic liberties and rights. The Government is still authoritarian and all-powerful – unchecked by either the people or the rule of law. The State still manipulates the economy. The idea that modern China has escaped its Communist past is a myth.

The dangerous results of the latest round of Chinese central planning are now coming to light. Huge new ghost cities – built by regional governments trying to keep up with national growth targets – that no one can afford to live in. A vast asset bubble, and an ever bigger mountain of credit. Enormous fiscal and monetary intervention by Chinese authorities failing to stop the rot. China is facing a serious economic correction ahead – and there is nothing the State can do to stop it.

Western commentators are facing a correction too. During China's boom, pundits were quick to jump on the bandwagon, telling us that big statist projects and contempt for liberal democracy were the way forward after all. They ignored the fundamental reason the West has been economically supreme for so long: free enterprise, and limits on the power of the State.

China's crash should be a wake-up call for the West: the only route to prosperity is to set the economy free.

11 JAN 2016

Are Britain's banks really fixed? Tell us what you think!

The Bank of England says Britain's banks have been fixed. But have they really? Our research suggests the banks are no safer today than they were before the financial crisis, and shows they need real reform.

Watch our video, read our paper, then tell us if you agree in our poll.

08 JAN 2016

I asked the Energy Minister why the State is subsiding wind; all I got in response was hot air

When will the State stop subsiding wasteful wind farms with taxpayers' money? That's what I asked the Energy Minister yesterday. It's a reasonable question: British workers give up a huge portion of their wages in tax; the State shouldn't be squandering it. Shame the Government doesn't seem to agree.

If you wanted to make an industry inefficient, you could not devise a better system than State subsidies. British Government subsidies to the banks gave as Too Big to Fail and the 2008 financial crisis. EU agricultural subsidies to farmers produced wine lakes and butter mountains – excess supply no one could consume. US Government subsidies to General Motors and Chrysler resulted in failing companies manufacturing cars people don't want to buy.

Subsidies break the connection between producers and consumers. Normally, a company needs to satisfy the interests of consumers if it wants to make money. A company that makes products people don't want won't sell, and won't succeed against better competitors. That's why under normal circumstances producers have an in-built incentive to keep improving their product.

But a company that receives subsidies from the State doesn't have to satisfy consumers. Instead of making its revenue from selling good products, it can simply collect a cheque from the State. Subsidies allow companies to get away with making bad products knowing the taxpayer will pick up the tab.

State subsidies aren't just bad for the taxpayer. They are bad for the industry they are supposed to support. They take away the incentive to innovate, improve, and deliver good value for money.

Subsidies for renewable energy don't only hurt for British taxpayers and households. They damage renewable technology too. If we want renewables ever to become efficient and useful, we need energy producers to be incentivised to create more efficient technology. Lavishing taxpayers' money on wasteful wind farms serves nobody's interests. It's time to end the renewable racket.

07 JAN 2016

Stop blaming the patients for healthcare shortages

Clacton has a chronic GP shortage. For many of my constituents, it is becoming impossible to access primary care. Analysts too often blame "demographics" for strains on healthcare. But the patients aren't the problem. Something is very wrong with our healthcare system.

Doctors in Clacton are at a premium. Three out of four of GP surgeries won't accept new patients. Even if you are lucky enough to be on the books, it is exceptionally difficult to get an appointment.

So what's the problem? The pundits would probably tell you the problem is too many patients. Clacton, they would say, has an ageing population. Doctors, they would claim, can't cope with the increasing demand on the system.

But think about this for a second: in what other area of our lives is too many clients a problem?

Does Tesco complain that it has too many customers? Does O2 worry that too many people want to buy iPhones? Does Saga claim there are now too many old people who want to buy insurance or go on cruises?

No other provider worries about too many people wanting to use it. Quite the reverse – the aim is more punters. So why is this "blame the patient" argument acceptable when we talk about healthcare?

The truth is that something is going very wrong with the system. My constituents have paid into the system all their lives. The fact that many cannot access healthcare today is a breakdown in how the system is supposed to work.

The problem is that GP contracts are centralised. A doctor with a very high workload in Clacton receives little more than a doctor with a relatively low workload somewhere else. This isn't fair on doctors. It isn't fair on patients either. The system has created perverse incentives: doctors should be incentivised to come to areas where demand is highest, like Clacton. Instead they are incentivised to leave.

The Conservative Government points the finger at Labour. They will say John Reid made things worse when he overhauled GP contracts in 2004. But what have they done, after almost 6 years, to fix the problem? Ministers fiddle with their central production targets and spreadsheets, isolated and insulated from what is happening on the ground.

The political class needs to recognise reality. We urgently need to look at how other countries deliver primary care, and see if there may be lessons for our system. Otherwise Clacton's GP shortages will soon affect the entire country.

06 JAN 2016

Structure - not culture - is the problem with our banks

Britain's banks are in bad shape. They are too indebted, too protected from the disastrous consequences of their own decisions, and – thanks to decades of Government subsidy – far too big. They need serious, far-reaching reform. What they don't need is a pointless official review into their "culture."

Several Labour MPs on the Treasury Select Committee are apparently furious that the Financial Conduct Authority has scrapped an inquiry into "Britain's banking culture." But what do they think it would have achieved?

Watching bank executives work – as if they exist in a vacuum – will tell us nothing. To understand how banks act, we need to think about their incentives. That doesn't require an inquiry; they are there for everyone to see.

Broken banks are the result of perverse incentives dictated by the central bank and the Government. The Bank of England has kept interest rates – the price of capital – unprecedentedly low, so banks are incentivised to borrow and lend. The Government insures deposits, so banks are incentivised to run down their reserves. Taxpayers are forced to bail out banks when they fail, so banks are incentivised to take as many risks as possible.

If banks have a culture of excessive risk-taking, it is because monetary policy, public subsidy, and Government regulation has encouraged it. Recognising the symptom is not enough; we have to tackle the cause.

Last month, the UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit published a report explaining the danger of banking collapse, and the reforms necessary to avoid it. I encourage anyone looking for a serious discussion of financial reform to read it.

We urgently need to end a financial structure that systemically transfers wealth from taxpayers to the Big Banks. If Labour MPs were really different from corporatist Conservatives, that's what they would be championing. Of course, we know they're not: in 2008, Gordon Brown instigated the bank bailout that amounted to one of the biggest transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich in human history.

Only UKIP is prepared to take on the Big Bank cartel.

05 JAN 2016

Vote for innovation: vote Leave

Innovation is what made Britain a global superpower. Our agricultural and industrial revolutions ultimately transformed the economy of the entire world. But today we don't have the freedom to innovate, because of reams of red tape regulation from the EU. Brussels is holding British business back.

The latest victim of the EU's dead hand is the e-cigarette.

Some of the e-cigarette technology (the cartomiser) was invented in Britain. Today, there is a huge market for e-cigarettes in the UK. They have been so successful in helping quitting smokers give up tobacco, even the NHS has recognised their potential.

But now the EU is stepping in to crush the e-cigarette. In May, they will become subject to the EU's Tobacco Products Directive. Think about how absurd this is for a second: the whole point of e-cigarettes is that they are not a tobacco product.

The EU has form when it comes to blocking efforts to reduce early deaths from smoking. Brussels bureaucracy has already had devastating consequences for medical research in Britain. Before the EU Clinical Trials Directive came in, about 6% of all clinical trials happened in this country. Now, it's a shade over 1%, with innovation leaving the EU altogether.

The Tobacco Products Directive could be just as catastrophic for the e-cigarette industry. Manufacturers will now have to submit detailed annual reports on their sales and users. Big Business might be able to cope with this bureaucracy. But small businesses – like most in the industry – will be suffocated.

The sad thing is that none of this comes a surprise. The EU is corporatist to a fault: it always acts against the interests of small business. It always produces regulation that hurts SMEs the most. It always works to defend Big Business from disruptive innovation by new start-ups.

Small businesses know this too. That's why so many are already set to vote for Brexit.

Britain needs to recapture the entrepreneurial spirit of the industrial revolution to succeed in the 21st century. We should be pioneers in the digital revolution – and lead the world in innovation again. You can make it happen: vote Leave.

04 JAN 2016

Happy New Year! Bring on the moment that will define Britain's future

Happy New Year! 2016 could be the biggest year in British politics in four decades. The referendum on Britain's EU membership may be only six months away. We have a once in a lifetime chance to take back control of our nation, and define our own future. Let's make sure we take it.

Britain's future is bright. We have the creativity, the innovation, the vibrant democracy, the global prominence, the confident national identity to continue to be a great, successful country in the 21st century. There is just one thing holding us back: the EU.

The EU is a product of 20th-century anxieties. It is rooted in the fear of European war, and of European peoples. It is a reactionary force, dedicated to obstructing all change except further European integration.

The Remain campaign has rightly been labelled Project Fear. It's not just that the Remainers don't believe Britain can survive outside the EU. It's that they don't believe Europe can survive without the EU. They buy into the pessimism and fear that defines the whole European project.

Change is inevitable. The world of 2016 is not the same as the world post-World War II. Germany and France are not about to drag Europe into total war again. In fact, the main cause of tension in Europe today is the EU itself.

We cannot let our destiny be determined by the paranoia of the European Establishment elite. We have to be free to adapt to a new world. We need to be optimists about the future, and realists about the EU.

Let's make 2016 the year we place a vote of confidence in Britain.

29 DEC 2015

2015, the year of political insurgency? Wait 'til you see 2016 .....

Just before Christmas, Spanish voters became the latest to rebel against their political Establishment. The global rise of political insurgents tells us one thing: the old political consensus isn't working.

Voters around the world are all disaffected with their governments at the same time. This isn't a coincidence. People aren't just playing copycat. Nor is this only about economics. There is a deeper issue at the heart of our politics.

People are realising that whichever way they vote, nothing seems to change. That's why they are now voting for genuine, radical alternatives instead. The political Establishment has failed them.

Some are aghast about the rise of insurgents. They see extremists winning public support, and they fear the will of the people. But it is misguided to fear voters. We should be afraid of the failure of democracy: if the people support change but government stays the same anyway, we no longer live in a genuinely democratic society.

But it is also misguided to believe that a change of rhetoric and personnel will automatically bring change in government. Syriza in Greece are a case in point: they were originally elected on a platform of opposing EU austerity measures, and have ended up implementing even harsher EU austerity measures than those they set out to oppose. And when the insurgents fail, what then?

The problem is that too much government is totally disconnected from the people. In the UK, we are governed from Brussels by EU officials we never elected and cannot get rid of. But we are also governed by unelected officials in Whitehall. Vast institutions with their own political agendas that elected representatives can no longer hold to account.

The root of stasis and groupthink in political Establishments worldwide is Big Government. As long as we allow power to be centralised in opaque officialdom, there will never be change. Insurgents who ignore the role of Big Government will inevitably fail to deliver. Effective insurgency must shrink the State to give back power to the people.

27 DEC 2015

The gentleman in Whitehall is inept

Do you trust the "experts" in the Treasury to manage the economy? Would you trust them if you knew the economic data they use was less than 80% accurate at best?

It turns out that the UK is one of the least reliable advanced countries in compiling accurate economic data. This dodgy data is what the Chancellor and the Bank of England base their grand plans on. Anyone spot the flaw here?

The inaccuracy of our economic data might explain a lot. It may tell us why Government borrowing always overshoots projections. It might give us a clue why so many people in Britain feel no better off even though the economy is supposedly growing.

How do you measure the product of an entire economy accurately though? The truth is it's impossible. A major economy comprises trillions of individual transactions – more than anyone can possibly understand, let alone keep track of. Every metric we use to measure growth is only a broad estimate, and GDP is a pretty suspect estimate at that.

If measuring the economy is beyond us, how can we possible expect to manage it? The idea that any "expert" can run the economy and allocate resources better than the market is what Hayek called the fatal conceit. Yet this delusion is part of the DNA of our political Establishment.

Believing in the free market is about recognising that the gentleman in Whitehall doesn't know best. It is about trusting millions of individuals to manage their own affairs rather than putting our faith in the tiny elite that keeps getting its sums wrong with disastrous results. Hubristic central planning is what holds our economy back. The route to prosperity is to set the economy – and the people – free.

26 DEC 2015

EU Rich List - why every day is Christmas day for the Euro elite

How much do you think the top EU officials get paid by the taxpayer?  Now you can find out.

This week the UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit has published the first ever EU Rich List – setting out the salaries, pensions, benefits, and tax advantages of the 200 best-paid Eurocrats. It makes astonishing reading.

Our research reveals:

• The top 200 EU officials cost taxpayers over £50m last year

All of the officials in the EU Rich List earned more than the Prime Minister.

• The top 200 EU officials each brought home nearly ten times as much as the average British worker.

On average, officials in the EU Rich List each pay £50,000 less tax than they would in the UK.

• Pensions of officials in the EU Rich List are projected to cost European taxpayers £4.5m every year

Since the financial crisis, central EU institutions have imposed severe austerity packages on several member nations. Yet while Brussels has forced cuts on the peoples of Europe, it has allowed its own budgets to balloon. Our report shows Eurocrats' salaries have increased in real terms in spite of the financial crisis. EU officials have insulated themselves from the pain they have inflicted on the people.

Want to see the full scale of Euro excess? Read the EU Rich List here.

Cheer up!  This time next year, we could have voted to leave......

23 DEC 2015

To arm, or not to arm?

Yesterday the Evening Standard published a poll suggesting the majority of people in Britain believe the police should be routinely armed. I'm not so sure.

I can see arguments either way. Perhaps this is something best decided locally? What might be suitable for parts of London might be very out of place in rural Essex. Some parts of our country are at more serious risk of terror attacks than others. Some have more violent crime than others. What is right for police in one part of the country may not be right for police in another.

The good news is we now have a way to decide police priorities and tactics locally through elected Police and Crime Commissioners, plus in London, the Mayor.

Perhaps we ought to be asking candidates to be PCCs - and London mayoral candidates - whether or not they would arm the police? Then the voting public could have their say in a real ballot instead of an opinion poll.

I suspect most would say a firm "no" to routine arming where they live - but support more armed response police where needed.

Whether or not the police carry guns is an issue that needs to be seriously debated. The Paris attacks last month were a reminder that armed terrorists on our streets are a genuine threat. It is no surprise that public support for arming the police has since gone up. But after the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting ten years ago, many criticised the idea. If there is going to be a fundamental change in policing, it is important it has explicit, democratic backing from the people.

The next PCC elections take place in the coming year. So does the election for the Mayor of London.

Localising control over policing does not bring out the mob-mindset. It means a sensible debate about how best to deal with the policing challenges we all face.

22 DEC 2015

We can't solve our housing crisis without taking back control of our borders

The Labour MP Frank Field has published a report confirming what people outside the Westminster bubble already know: open-door immigration is making Britain's housing crisis worse. Frank Field has always been a voice of reason in Parliament, and an original thinker who is not afraid of defying the Establishment consensus. The question is why the political Establishment is so blind to the obvious.

You don't need to be an economist to see that a massive rise in demand without a corresponding rise in supply will push prices up, or even create shortages. Yet that is what the Government is allowing to happen in the housing market, year after year, by letting unrestricted immigration continue unabated. (Of course, George Osborne doesn't understand basic market forces in housing, but that's another story.)

This Government isn't even trying to control immigration. Immigration control is certainly nowhere near the empty agenda of David Cameron's sham EU "renegotiation." The truth is we cannot control immigration until we become sovereign again.

Sovereignty is the core issue. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a genuine debate in this country about immigration. Some were in favour, others were against. But the point is people's opinions counted for something. And when Parliament voted, its decisions were binding and meaningful.

Today, neither the people, nor Parliament, nor even the Prime Minister have a say over border control. We have ceded the right to determine who comes into this country to bureaucrats in Brussels. Foreign officials are even opening our borders to immigrants from outside the EU without our democratic consent. Whichever side of the immigration debate you come down on, how can anyone seriously defend that?

I believe that controlling our borders is critical to our national security. I also believe that controlling immigration is indispensable for a cohesive society, a functional housing market, and a remotely sustainable welfare state. I understand that other people in Britain have different views. I can't understand why anyone in Britain would want their views to be irrelevant. That, fundamentally, is why I believe we need to vote leave and take back control.

21 DEC 2015

Cheer up! Christmas is nearly here, Christmas lunch is getting cheaper - and the days longer

Here's a Christmas cheer up fact: this year's Christmas lunch is set to be the cheapest since 2011. In fact, In fact, global food prices have hit a seven-year low. Who do we have to thank? Technology and the free market.

Food prices have come down from a particularly high peak. Back in 2012, rocketing food price inflation every year was a serious concern. So what has changed?

One major driver of the price of food is the price of fuel. In 2012, the average price of a barrel of oil was $109. Today it is under $40. Over the last few years, fracking in America has unleashed a wave of new supply. That has not only cut the cost of fuel, but also cut production costs in agriculture and industry.

This is helping break the oil cartel. Saudi Arabia and others are starting to supply what the market wants, not what it suits oil producers to produce.

Britain isn't feeling the full benefits of cheap oil though. The cost of petrol at the pump hasn't dropped anywhere near as much as the wholesale price. Neither have energy bills. Why? Because Government regulations and taxes on fossil fuels keep costs up.

The Government's campaign against fossil fuels doesn't just affect the price of energy. It raises the cost of basic necessities across the board. A tax on fuel is a tax on food too.

Many people across Britain still have to scrimp and save to provide their Christmas lunch. Farmers and factories struggle to break even every year. By keeping energy prices artificially high, the Government puts unnecessary pressure families and businesses. Cutting regressive green taxes would be a nice Christmas bonus for all of us.

P.S. It's also December 21st - the shortest day of the year. The days can only now get longer...


18 DEC 2015

Are the banks really fixed?

Could there be another financial crisis around the corner? The Bank of England claims the big banks have been fixed. Our new banking study shows they haven't.

The big banks are supposed to have built up their reserves since 2008. They are meant to be taking fewer risks. They are assumed to be much safer now. That's what the Bank of England says anyway.

But hold on a minute: the Bank of England didn't see the last financial crisis coming. It thought the banks were fine in 2007. Why should we trust it today?

The UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit has done its own study of the UK and European banks. We found that the Bank of England is masking serious problems. Its stress test of the banking system relies on dodgy risk assessments and overoptimistic economic projections.

So we did an alternative stress test – looking at what would happen if the banks faced the same shocks as they did in 2008. Our test shows that the big banks are actually no safer now than they were then.

The big banks are still broken. They have only survived because of massive subsidies from central banks. This week the Federal Reserve raised interest rates from record lows for the first time in almost a decade. But credit is still far too cheap – and the big banks can no longer survive without it.

Banker bashing is very fashionable. Popular movements rail against the greed of financial fat cats. But the problem goes much deeper than the bankers: the problem is the system.

Central banks, like the Bank of England, are actually the core issue. Providing unlimited credit to a few banks is what has made them too big to fail. Bailing them out at the taxpayer's expense is what has encouraged them to take more risks.

The banking system needs radical reform. For a start, the retail banks urgently need to beef up their reserves. Otherwise another serious crisis is inevitable.

Read our paper to find out more.

17 DEC 2015

If the PM can't answer questions on his EU "renegotiation," how can we trust him?

3.8 million UKIP votes. One Member of Parliament. Zero chance of having a question answered by the Prime Minister. Welcome to the Westminster cartel.

People across Britain are genuinely anxious about the Prime Minister's "renegotiation" of our EU membership. I recently met a trade unionist who represents public sector workers in Essex. He is open-minded about the EU, but is worried about what the renegotiation would mean for employment and social law.

Yesterday I put that question to the PM. I pointed out that two years ago he said he wanted to bring powers over employment and social affairs back from Brussels to Britain. Now it looks like he has given up on any repatriation. So I asked him straight: in his negotiations with the EU, would he be demanding those powers back or not?

But instead of answering, all the PM could come up with was abuse. Instead of enlightening millions of concerned citizens, he decided to play to a tiny clique of careerist MPs.

I had to wait four months for the chance to be called at PMQs, and give Clactonians and 3.8 million UKIP voters a voice in Parliament. The PM's refusal to answer shows the political cartel at work. He knows he won't deliver any reform, so he has resorted to covering up for his cronies in Brussels. He has become the EU's PR-man in London.

Do you trust David Cameron to get the best deal for Britain? Watch his response, and decide for yourself. Want to wipe the smug smirk off his face? Vote leave.

16 DEC 2015

Britain is powerless to block the EU's dodgy deal with Turkey

Did you know the EU's new deal with Turkey gives 75 million Turkish citizens unrestricted access to Europe? Did you know it allows 400,000 Syrian migrants to settle in EU countries? Did you know Britain is powerless to do anything about it?

The EU spins its deal as the solution to the migrant crisis. It is no such thing. Europe's porous borders caused the crisis. Opening them even wider will only make a bad situation worse.

We had no say over this agreement. It was negotiated and signed with no British input. But it will have a huge impact on Britain.

The deal is supposed to apply only to Schengen countries, not the UK. But once the 400,000 migrants have got EU residency papers, what is to stop them coming here? Answer: nothing. In fact, migrants placed in countries where unemployment is rampant – like Portugal or Italy – will be looking for the first opportunity to leave.

This is a seminal moment: we will now have open-door immigration not just from inside the EU, but from outside it too.

On Monday night, this dodgy deal was discussed by a virtually empty Commons chamber. Most of the political Establishment was happy to let this key issue of national security pass unnoticed.

But the real tragedy is that Parliament was powerless to do anything about it. Even if MPs had been given the opportunity to vote the deal down, it would have made no difference. The debate was a sham. Parliament long ago signed away the right to control Britain's borders.

The British people had no say over this deal. Their elected legislators had no say. Their Government had no say. Is this really how we want to be governed? How can it not be better for Britain to vote leave and take back control?

15 DEC 2015

Man wasn't born free, but he may be liberated by blockchains

Imagine if a business leased a fleet of driverless cars, and ran them as a taxi firm available through uber. You could, in theory, automate every aspect of the firm. When to lease or more vehicles or clean them could be determined by demand. Every aspect of the business, including how and when to advertise, could be run by a computer programme.

Except you don't have to imagine it: soon it will be real.

Technology is transforming the way we do business. Uber's app already enables people to order vehicles at the touch of a button. Google's driverless cars are around the corner. Now blockchain technology – set to take off in 2016 - is revolutionising how companies work.

Blockchain – the digital code technology behind Bitcoin – is an automatic, public database of transactions. It allows direct, peer-to-peer buying and selling, with no central, corporate broker keeping a record. It enables a company to be entirely run by software.

This technology has enormous implications. It means people can trade without any interference from the State. Blockchain facilitates smart contracts: the rules of the trade are written into the code – meaning trade is self-regulating. No legal system is required to enforce the contracts.

Blockchain prevents other State intervention too. Bitcoin has already broken the State's monopoly over currency. It allows people to avoid the tyranny of the Osborne pound and his mendacious monetary manipulation.

Technology allows us to see what a genuinely free market would actually look like. No red tape. No price controls on capital by central banks. No debasement of the coinage by the Big Banking/Big Government crony cartel. No arbitrary extortion on private enterprise, conjured up every six months in burdensome budgets by the Chancellor.

For hundreds of years, parasitic elites have lived off other people's labour and ingenuity. High-tech innovation may finally set humanity free.

14 DEC 2015

Nicky Morgan is right to highlight the forced adoption scandal. But does her own department agree?

There has been a huge rise in new-born babies being taken from their parents by the State. Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, has rightly expressed alarm. But does her own department feel the same?

Just three weeks ago, the Minister for Children and Families told Parliament the adoption system was working just fine. He said the family courts have a "strict and stiff test" for adopting without consent. He also dismissed the need for greater scrutiny, glibly parroting that going beyond the current system "requires careful consideration."

Ministers are encased in a Whitehall bubble that insulates them from reality. They are surrounded by officials who present the adoption system as it ought to be, rather than as it is. That's why it takes the seizure of new-born babies for Nicky Morgan to wake up to what's going wrong.

UKIP has been part of a long campaign to reform the adoption system.

I triggered the Parliamentary debate on forced adoptions three weeks ago. I made the case that it is too easy for the State to break up families, and that there are too many cases of injustice. I argued that secrecy in the family courts is the problem, and that we need more openness and public scrutiny of the adoption system to ensure that the right decisions are being made.

We also published a paper on the change the system needs: Opening Up the Family Courts.

This issue is too important to be left to ministerial mediocrities. It shouldn't take a scandal for ministers to notice that the system they're supposed to be running is causing terrible harm. We need ministers who can get a grip on policy. Responsible Government should be acting in the interests of children and the public, not those of the family court cartel.

Watch our video, and join our campaign:

13 DEC 2015

Dan Hannan, Jim Mellon and me - united for Leave!

The EU Referendum campaign is stepping up.

This coming Saturday, 19th December, I'll be joining speakers from across the political spectrum in Eastbourne to make the case that we need to vote leave and take back control. Come and make your voice heard too.

I'm delighted to be speaking alongside some great believers in Britain's future. Dan Hannan MEP has spent his entire adult life spearheading the campaign against a federal Europe.

It's great that Jim Mellon, one of Britain's most successful businessmen, who has been involved in Leave.EU, will be joining us. We're all coming together because this referendum is so important.

Our political Establishment is determined to sell us out to Brussels. The PM's sham row with Donald Tusk last week embodies everything that's wrong with the EU. The European project is built on undemocratic attempts to subvert the will of the peoples of Europe.

That's why the referendum is so important. For the first time ever, the British people are getting a say on our membership of the EU. We have one opportunity to win back control of our country from the Euro elites. Join the Vote Leavecampaign to make sure we take it!

If you are near Eastbourne, why not come along?  

11 DEC 2015

Osborne's mortgage subsidy is making houses unaffordable

George Osborne's Help to Buy mortgage subsidy makes it easier for first-time buyers to borrow. "That's great," you might say. "Now more people can get on the housing ladder." But what effect does this policy have on house prices? And what does it mean for everyone who can't claim the subsidy?

New data shows London's house prices are higher than ever . Prices are rising much faster than wages, making homes less and less affordable. Why? Because the Chancellor has made it easier for a chosen few to get a mortgage.

Osborne's mortgage subsidy increases the reservoir of buyers. Because more people can borrow money, more people are in the market for a house. But the mortgage subsidy doesn't increase the housing stock by one brick. More people are bidding for the same number of houses. That means house prices go up.

If you're a first-time buyer, you might be okay. The mortgage subsidy means you can buy a house – even if you have to borrow a fortune. But what about everyone else? People who can't claim the subsidy are now finding a new house out of reach. So instead of expanding home ownership, the Chancellor has restricted affordability to those who can get easy credit. Because he has picked a tiny pool of winners, everyone else loses out.

But can Osborne see the damage he's doing? Not remotely. In fact, next year he'll be rolling out a new London Help to Buy. While all in favour of helping people in London buy, this approach will actually mean even fewer affordable houses overall.

More affordable housing requires more houses and less cheap credit.

10 DEC 2015

The elitist Establishment is feeding the Donald Trump monster

Isn't Donald Trump appalling? He's brash, abrasive, and obnoxious – not to mention deeply illiberal. He even treats the US Constitution with contempt. But here's the thing: if everyone agrees he's so awful, why is he so popular?

Millions of Americans support Donald Trump because they can't stand mainstream politicians. Confidence in Washington has plummeted. People look at Congress and see both parties cosying up to lobbyists. They know that legislators collude to gerrymander electoral districts – denying voters a real choice.

The political cartel creates bland politics. A year ago, everyone assumed this presidential election would be a contest between another Clinton and another Bush. In a country founded on rejecting monarchy, politics has become dynastic. Is it really a shock that voters are thumbing their nose at that?

In the West, we are fortunate to be citizen consumers. Choice is a normal in almost every area of our lives. Why should we be expected to put up with identical politicians?

Hatred of the political classes is the fuel for Trump's campaign. That's why he says ever more outrageous things. On Monday, a new opinion poll suggested his support in the first primary state – Iowa – was fading. His response? Bait the Establishment. Right on cue, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and his Republican rivals lined up to condemn him – and handed him just the boost he wanted.

The people who really fear Trump are the Republican Establishment. They can't bear the thought of him winning the nomination. Yet they helped make his candidacy possible. Under Bush Junior, they complacently assumed the Republican base was behind big-spending, oversized Federal Government, and illiberal economic intervention. They expanded Washington as much as the Democrats. Now the base has rejected them because of it. Donald Trump is the monster they created.

People on this side of the Atlantic need to understand that hysterically attacking Trump only makes him stronger. Instead of virtue signalling at PMQs about foreign political showmen, maybe we could allow MPs for Cumbria to ask about flooding. When political insiders focus on self-righteous grandstanding instead of real issues, is it any wonder people are sick of them?

09 DEC 2015

What should Britain's defence priorities be? Tell us what you think

Britain's armed forces need the best possible equipment to keep us safe. That means getting the best possible value for money in defence procurement. Yet for decades the Government has prioritised the supposed interests of big defence corporations over the interests of the country.

I believe defence procurement needs radical reform. Watch this video and read our paper to find out why. Then tell us if you agree in our poll.

09 DEC 2015

Fake rows. Bogus bust ups. The EU elite take us for fools

The Prime Minister is supposed to be at odds with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. If the anonymous briefings are to be believed, unless Brussels backs down, daring Dave will jolly well campaign to leave.

Except it's all balls. A deal has been quietly agreed, and all this bogus bust up is designed to make it look like a big win for Britain.

We know this because Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith has let it slip that the PM has already cooked up a deal "behind closed doors". This whole row is a farce.

What this bogus deal does reveal is the contempt that the political elite have for the voters. Thinking that it is still 1990-something, they believe they can spin and manipulate public opinion.

Stage a couple of fake rows, and their pet pundits in the press lobby will loyally write it all up as a big win for Blighty.

I'm not so sure. We live in an age of deep seated distrust of politicians. Folk can and will see through it.

Dave's new deal is meaningless. Staging a scripted row fools no one.

It's because of stunts like this that trust in the political class is at an all-time low, and radical politics around the world is on the rise.

We don't need to be governed by a remote elite that holds us in contempt. Come the referendum, we can end this charade – and defy the Downing Street clique - once and for all.

08 DEC 2015

State-sponsored multiculturalism is back

Is Britain still a Christian country? The evidence around us suggests it is: people are buying Christmas presents; choirs are singing Christmas carols; radio stations are playing Christmas songs. So why does a Government commission claim it isn't?

The new report by the Commission on Religion and Belief claims that religion - and particularly Christianity – is in decline. It says Britain needs a new "national conversation" on "fundamental values." It demands that national and civic events mirror "the pluralist character of modern society."

But does this really reflect Britain today? Yes, fewer people go to church. But British culture is still hugely influenced by Christianity. People of all faiths and none share elements of Christian culture – like Christmas. Look at the Tube map: Blackfriars, Charing Cross, St. Pancras. The church is part of the landscape.

Christianity is also intertwined with our legal system. Common law is rooted in biblical commandments. From Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, the relationship between church and state has framed our constitution - and enshrined the principle of religious liberty for every citizen. 

Britain's religious identity is about the foundations on which our civilisation stands. Fundamental change should be decided directly by the people – and perhaps organically over time - not by unelected officials and academics.

But I suspect most people are perfectly comfortable living in a Christian country. Commissions like this are part of a multiculturalist agenda imposed by the ruling elite.

The new report is full of multiculturalist doublespeak. For example: "the right to free speech includes the right to offend, but the latter does not enjoy the same degree of importance and immunity." All free speech is equal, but some is more equal than others.

It also tries to deny the connection between religious ideology and terrorism. It claims there is no "one-way causal link between a worldview, ideology or narrative on the one hand and specific actions and behaviours on the other." Recent events in Paris, San Bernadino, and Leytonstone suggest otherwise. Perhaps the Commissioners missed Sayed Qutb's Milestones?

The Church of England criticised the report, saying it had "fallen captive to liberal rationalism." If only! Multiculturalism can't be pinned on the Enlightenment. It has, however, been championed by the clergy - in fact Rowan Williams was one of the Commission's patrons. The Church can hardly complain about the results of its own policy now.

Britain doesn't need to apologise for its Christian roots. Creating a cultural vacuum can only make our society worse. Let's ignore this attempt at cultural engineering, and have a happy Christmas!

07 DEC 2015

Corbyn's comrades ruin Latin America

Last month, the people of Argentina rejected Peronism and elected Mauricio Macri. Now the people of Venezuela are set to turf out Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro. Why? Because socialism has brought both countries to ruin.

Both Argentina and Venezuela are in economic crisis. Inflation in both countries is rampant, driving up the cost of living, and depressing living standards. Nationalisation has caused industrial stagnation. Price controls have created supply shortages of basic goods. Crime and corruption are pervasive. In Venezuela, the healthcare system is collapsing, and State repression of dissent is increasingly ugly.

These ought not to be poor countries. Both are rich in natural resources. Their economies have been destroyed by central planning. A corrupt elite in both countries lives in luxury off the backs of the people they rule. As the supermarket shelves have emptied and medicine run out, Maduro and Kirchner have amassed millions. Socialism has made the rich richer, and the poor poorer. It's like an Ayn Rand novel come to life.

None of this is surprising. What does surprise me is that the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition is an open admirer of Nicolas Maduro. He even says so on his campaign website, claiming: "Success for radical policies in Venezuela is being achieved by providing for the poorest, liberating resources."

05 DEC 2015

United for Brexit

Yesterday night's Brexit rally in Canterbury was by all accounts a fantastic success. If you missed it, don't panic! There are two more coming up in the South East. I'll be speaking at the last - in Eastbourne on 19th December.

The Brexit campaign is hotting up. Before the end of 2017, you will have the chance to have your say on Britain's membership of the EU. Over the next two years, I'll be joining people from all parties and all sectors of society to make the case that Britain will be richer, safer, and freer if we vote leave and take back control.

This month's rallies – organised by Daniel Hannan MEP – feature representatives of the Conservatives, Labour, and UKIP. Guests at last night's rally heard from one of this country's greatest living authors, Frederick Forsyth. In Eastbourne, I'll be speaking alongside Jim Mellon – one of Britain's most successful investors.

The Brexit campaign transcends normal politics. It unites people from all walks of life who may disagree deeply about how to run Britain, but all believe that the British people – not Brussels bureaucrats - should decide.

The EU referendum will determine the future of this country. Now is the time for everyone who wants to take back control of Britain's destiny to get involved. Start this month: join me on the 19th.

04 DEC 2015

It's time to break the college cartel

Isn't it odd that almost all British universities charge undergraduates the full £9k a year? The idea was that different universities providing different kinds of education would charge different prices. Yet instead they all charge the same. Why? Because they are a cartel.

Universities aren't just a cartel for fees. They are a cartel for ideas. Yes, there is still incredible research in the sciences – because it is hard to politicise the empirical method. But in the humanities and social sciences, leftist orthodoxies are barely ever challenged. Universities are so dominated by leftist groupthink that they actively silence anyone who thinks differently.

Groupthink has meant that publicly funded universities no longer serve a public purpose. Since the 1970s in America, think tanks replaced universities as the producers of new ideas. Now the same has happened here.

Who is producing new ideas to deal with our broken public finances? In the last month, the IEA, the Adam Smith Institute, and the Legatum Institute have all launched projects challenging fundamental economic assumptions with long-term thinking. Three think tanks are producing more than the whole university system.

Who is coming up with new thinking to fix our broken banking system? The only major, radical thinker at a university is Jesus Huerta de Soto. Otherwise, the only places to find original ideas are think tanks like the Cobden Centre.

Universities are unable to challenge Establishment ideas because they are the Establishment. They share the same statist outlook because they are all big, bureaucratic, taxpayer-funded organisations. Just like at the BBC, leftist assumptions are institutionalised and pervasive. Supporting the free market, controlled immigration, and responsible government spending would run counter to their whole ethos.

As a result, the ivory tower is higher than ever before. Universities are cut off from society. They rely on a research funding model that backs projects precisely because the market – i.e. ordinary people – would never have any use for them. They think they have a right to taxpayers' money, even though the vast majority of taxpayers don't benefit from anything they do.

People across the world are realising the political cartel needs to be broken. The academic cartel should be next in line.

03 DEC 2015

Labour represents elites, not working people. The real alternative is UKIP.

Labour was once a decent party. It used to represent working people. Now it represents only elites and Maoists. Today, the progressive, radical alternative to corporatist Toryism is UKIP.

The Labour party has been severed from its roots. The party of Keir Hardie used to reflect the sectional interest of organised labour. Its MPs used to be people who had worked in industry.

But many Labour MPs today are indistinguishable from the Tories. They do the same PPE degrees at the same Oxbridge colleges. They spend their entire careers inside the Westminster bubble. They created the soggy Blairite consensus which has monopolised politics for the last two decades. They are part of the parasitic Establishment.

It is because Labour lost touch with its roots that party members rebelled in the leadership election, and voted for someone completely different. But Comrade Corbyn is even more out of kilter with what Labour used to be. His anti-Western worldview is remarkable in a party that used to be so proudly British. He speaks for the mob in the streets and on Twitter, not working people.

Corbyn and Blair are supposed to be polar opposites. In fact, they have more in common than they would like to admit. Both are creatures of unrepresentative elites in Islington. Champagne socialists and bohemians have dominated progressive politics for too long.

The real progressive alternative to the Tories today is UKIP. In the long, English, radical tradition of the levellers and the Chartists, UKIP stands for the ideals of liberty, democracy, low taxes, and free markets that made Britain great, and will make her greater still.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Lib Dems have been the mid-term alternative to the Government. That is no longer true. UKIP has firmly established itself in that role. Against all the odds, the public has broken the Westminster cartel and made UKIP Britain's third party.

Whatever the Westminster elites think, Labour has no divine right to hold safe seats whose voters it no longer represents. UKIP - as a serious, radical, progressive alternative - can displace Labour too.

02 DEC 2015

The EU's deal with Turkey means we have lost control of our borders

The EU's new deal with Turkey means non-EU citizens will now be able to live in the UK without any permission from our Government. We have lost control of our borders.

From October 2016, Turkish citizens will be able to travel within the Schengen area without visas, and 400,000 Syrians will be settled across Schengen countries. Once they have European residency papers, they will then be able to come to Britain – even though Britain isn't part of Schengen.

This deal is meant to solve the migration crisis. It is full of sweeteners to incentivise Turkey to control its border with Syria and stem the flow of migrants to Europe. But it is hard to see how migration to Europe can be controlled by giving 75 million Turks unrestricted access.

In fact, this agreement will give us no control at all. Europe has no way of logging people in. We don't know that people who enter won't stay – and we won't know if they do.

This deal is dangerous. We know from the Paris attacks that jihadist terrorists have already got in to Europe by posing as refugees. Opening Europe up to a country that ISIS can easily infiltrate is asking for trouble.

It is also deeply undemocratic. The British people were never consulted about freedom of movement within Europe. Now we have no say over free movement not just from outside Europe, but from a warzone. We were never asked about giving up control of our borders to the Eurocrats. Now our border control is being abandoned altogether without our consent.

But the fault for this hugely misguided policy lies not just in Brussels, but also in Number 10. It is David Cameron who has allowed the EU to negotiate on our behalf, and enact policy that endangers our national security.

The British people are powerless to change this decision. But some time between now and the end of 2017, citizens will finally get their say. The EU referendum gives the people the chance to regain power over Britain. We need to vote leave to take back control.

01 DEC 2015

How do you feel about forced adoption?

How would you react if the State took away your child?

Watch our video about the scandal of forced adoption, and tell us how you feel in our poll below. 

01 DEC 2015

UKIP: the low tax, progressive alternative

Austerity politics is over. That was the message of the Autumn Statement. From now on, this Government is about high borrowing, high spending, and high taxation – all based on the fantasy of eternal economic growth. George Osborne is leaving Britain in worse shape to face another recession than Gordon Brown did.

The fundamental problems in our economy remain unresolved. Over the last five years, the national debt has doubled. The Government is still spending billions more than it takes in taxes. Welfare is still unreformed. Productivity is worryingly low. Britain's trade deficit is wider than ever. Britain's banks are still dangerously exposed to toxic debt. The Bank of England is still too afraid to raise interest rates from record negative levels.

Like Gordon Brown, George Osborne assumes that the economy will continue growing forever. But the economy works in cycles: a period of growth, followed by a correction.

So what happens when the next crash hits? When the national debt is already so vast, where is Osborne planning to find the money for another dose of "fiscal stimulus"? When interest rates can't go any lower, how can the Bank of England inject more "monetary stimulus"?

The truth is Osborne isn't planning. He hasn't fixed the roof while the sun is shining. In fact, he isn't even trying anymore. He has left Britain dangerously unprepared for the next recession.

Now that the Labour party has embraced its inner Maoist, the Tory leadership has clearly decided to fill the vacuum on the centre-left. The Conservatives are now New Labour. They have already broken the promise to safeguard "economic security" on which they were elected only months ago.

We cannot fix our broken economy without radical change. Businesses need to be set free from crippling regulation. Families need relief from high taxes. The State needs to slim down and spend within its means.

The Conservatives no longer support lower taxes and a smaller State. Only one party offers a responsible alternative to kamikaze borrow-and-spend economics. Only UKIP.

30 NOV 2015

How to resign and spark a tricky by-election - my guide for rebellious MPs

It's not much fun being a Labour MP right now.

Just as you were trying to come to terms with not winning the last election, Jeremy Corbyn takes over as leader. Its not just that someone you used to regard as a bit of a joke is now in charge. He's unelectable.

Yet there he now is, backed up by hundreds of thousands of new members convinced that their Twitter timeline reflects the views of middle England. Worst of all, they are demanding that you tag along with every daft demand – or face deselection.

"People don't speak to each other face-to-face as aggressively as they do on Twitter," said one Labour acquaintance of mine. "Except in Labour branches."

Sooner or later, it will end badly. I hope that some of the saner MPs in the Labour party don't wait to be pushed. Here's my advice on how to jump:

1. Be discreet. If you are going to make the move, don't let on. You don't owe Jeremy and the comrade clique anything. Make sure that the first that they hear of your dep