• The UK tax code is notoriously complex. As long ago as 2009 we had the longest tax code in the world – read the Telegraph story here - and it’s only got worse since then. Everyone agrees that we need tax simplification, but no one can deliver it. And politicians are always coming up with ideas for clever new ad hoc complications. This time it’s BoJo.
Just a few years ago we were being urged to switch from petrol cars to diesel, because diesel produces less CO2 emissions per mile than petrol. So we could save the planet (if you believe in that kind of stuff). Now bien pensant opinion has decided that the negative health effects of particulates in diesel exhaust (in terms of respiratory diseases) is even more serious than global warming, so the advice is turned on its head. Please switch back from diesel to petrol. The average punter will be saying “Make yer mind up!”.
But Boris has taken this to heart. He wants to have heavier congestion/pollution charges in London for diesel vehicles. And he promises to lobby George Osborne for a national increase in diesel duty, to make petrol more attractive.
• UKIP's campaign against taxpayer-funded EU propaganda was bizarrely opposed by a Labour MEP - who defended the use of public money for an 'artists' cooperative' in the mountains of Northern Germany.
The stunning justification for the EU's vast 'cultural budget' - long a tool to fund pro-EU propaganda from the public purse - came after newly-elected UKIP MEP for the North West Louise Bours ridiculed how these funds are spent.
Addressing the EU's Committee on Culture and Education, whose €1.4 billion budget is responsible for outrageous past projects such as the 'House of EU History', Bours said:
•New UKIP economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn MEP today branded the coalition government a total failure, after the latest official borrowing figures showed that the public sector deficit is rising sharply once again.
Borrowing in June totalled £11.4bn, some £700million more than had been forecast by economists, and a massive £3.8bn up on the same month last year.
Allowing for the impact of a one-off cash transfer from the Bank of England last year, borrowing in the first quarter of the 2014-15 financial year has come in at £36.1bn, some 7.3% higher than the same period in the previous year.
Mr O'Flynn said: "This coalition government was formed to get rid of the deficit and yet it barely got a third of the way towards that target and now it is going backwards fast.
•Perhaps the most striking feature of David Cameron’s extensive reshuffle is that it is largely a defensive response to UKIP. We are setting the agenda. We are making the weather.
The three main themes of the reshuffle were:
Presenting a more eurosceptic facade: Philip Hammond, described as “a vociferous eurosceptic”, becomes Foreign Secretary, spun as “The most openly sceptic Foreign Secretary in decades”. Michael Fallon goes to Defence. He too has a eurosceptic reputation – though it’s difficult to see how he’ll bring that to bear in the defence rôle. Priti Patel becomes Secretary to the Treasury, and is a lady of robust opinions. On the other hand the nomination of Lord “Who’s He?” Hill as EU Commissioner raised some eyebrows – and got Jean-Claude Juncker googling to find out who he was. He is presented as “a deal-maker”, but apparently he makes his deals very quietly. He is expected to lead the charge on Cameron’s renegotiation agenda. It may end up rather like the Charge of the Light Brigade. “C’est magnifique. Mais ce n’est pas la guerre”.
•The head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz said on Wednesday that the "radically anti-European" views of Jonathan Hill, British premier David Cameron's nominee for the European Commission, might prevent him getting onto the EU's executive body.
Responding to this, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said this afternoon: "This is a declaration of war by Schulz on the choice of the British government.
"How dare Martin Schulz interfere in the British nomination of European Commissioner and prejudge what the decision of the MEPs will be.
"He is supposed to an independent chairman, but he has demonstrated absolutely no respect for national democracy or national government.
"And where he even gets the idea that Jonathan Hill is a Eurosceptic is completely beyond me."
"We won’t solve Europe’s problems with new initiatives, new instruments, new policies. We’ll solve Europe’s problems by unwinding the damaging policies of the past."- UKIP MEP Roger Helmer
•Last night I attended a meeting in the Strasbourg parliament of the Industry Committee ITRE, which had been called for a hearing to approve a new Industry Commissioner, Mr. Ferdinando Feroci. He will be replacing the previous Italian incumbent Antonio Tajani, who has had to step down as Commissioner, having been elected to the European parliament. But of course a whole new Commission will be sworn in in about four months’ time, so poor Mr. Feroci gets to sit in the seat for a very limited time, in which he will be able to achieve very little, except to keep the ship on course. The whole thing was a mere formality, and arguably a waste of time.
Mr. Feroci was previously Italy’s Ambassador to the EU, so we know which side his bread is buttered. As a wise man once said, it’s very difficult to convince a man of something when his job and his income depend upon his not believing it.
"The EU juggernaut will still roll on, and Mr. Juncker will still become Commission President, but this time there are 24 UKIP MEPs determined to stand up for British interests and fight for democracy." - UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott
• Wednesday was my best day so far in the European Parliament, quickly following my worst on Tuesday. On Tuesday, the reality had set in: even the largest UK Party in the European Parliament, UKIP, is only a tiny minority out in Brussels. As the stitch-up of Committee votes had shown, even mild eurosceptics are ostracised. As the EU machine rolls on in Borg-like [Star Trek] fashion, democracy is irrelevant. It felt like I would never be able to make a difference in that place.
On Wednesday, it was time to stand up and fight for the interests of British voters and plough on regardless. First I found out that I've got the opportunity to speak in a debate on youth unemployment next week - a massive issue particularly in the North East, where one in four young people are unemployed. Then I was able to get on with the business of helping constituents, and in the evening I had the opportunity to question Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is almost certain to become the next President of the European Commission.
"This judgement demonstrates how any British government’s hands are tied in this matter." - UKIP MEP Gerard Batten
UKIP Press Release
•Yesterday the European Court of Justice dealt another blow to David Cameron’s promise to require migrants to be able to speak English from outside the EU.
The European Court of Justice gave its judgment in the case of Dogan v Germany (Case C-138/13). The Court held that the German law which requires new immigrants to pass a basic German language test, as a condition of getting a German visa for family re-unification, is contrary to the EU-Turkey Association Agreement. As part of ‘EU law’, the association agreement is superior to German national law.
Mrs. Dogan, a Turkish national, was refused a visa to join her husband, who is self-employed in Germany, as she failed to take the language test. The EU Court considered that the requirement of passing a language test undermined the 'freedom of establishment' between the EU and Turkey, as Turkish nationals might be deterred from working in Germany if their families cannot join them without passing a language test.
“David Cameron, George Osborne and in fact the whole Tory Party are being unmasked as plastic sceptics when it comes to protecting British national sovereignty." - UKIP MEP Patrick O'Flynn
•UKIP’s Patrick O’Flynn MEP has urged party members to support a new petition that calls for the Government to begin moves to leave the EU before the wholesale loss of national vetoes occurs in November.
The loss of vetoes in 43 areas of public policy will occur on November 1 under a provision of the Lisbon Treaty. It will come as Home Secretary Theresa May also opts back into EU control of 35 justice and policing measures.
East of England MEP Mr O’Flynn said: “On their own either of these moves would constitute a very significant loss of national sovereignty. But in combination their impact will be enormous.
"This EP Sash is just right for the silly season if not the marching season," says UKIP Deputy Leader Paul NuttallMEP.
• The European Parliament has today launched an "Official Sash" for Members, according to a communication from the parliament's Protocol Unit.
"MEPs who are interested in purchasing the sash can do so online... from the company that produces them," the email says, noting that "the design of the sash was made in agreement with the Protocol Service of the EP." A leaflet was also attached (reproduced below).
Commenting, UKIP Deputy leader Paul Nuttall said: "These people are so pompous they are beyond parody. Just how silly would you feel walking about town in an official European Parliament Sash?
•Commission President-nominee Jean-Claude Juncker takes questions from EFDD group Members at the European Parliament in Brussels, 9 July 2014.
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage's statement on EFDD Group meeting with Jean Claude Juncker
Juncker said there was no such thing as a “European People”, that he was opposed to direct democracy at a European level and there would be no change concerning intra EU migration.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “We are very pleased that Mr Juncker chose to come and speak to the most Eurocritical group in the European Parliament which says something about him as a person. We had a polite exchange of views but Mr Juncker made it absolutely clear that on the question of the free movement of peoples across the European Union, there was no question of any negotiation of that position.
"I came to this place already opposed to the European Union. But if I'd been a waverer, the utter hypocrisy of the last week would have persuaded me of one thing: it is beyond hope, beyond even the possibility of reform."
•Lightning can indeed strike twice. Only last week, democracy was subverted by the European Parliament stitching up the vice-presidents to break the mould of the usual system. This week, they apply similar undemocratic tactics to the composition of Committees.
In the European Parliament, the chairmanship (and vice-chairmanships) of a committee is allocated by strict formulas. The bigger groups receive the chair of more committees than the smaller groups. This is then rubber-stamped by a vote within the committees themselves. In this case, the EFDD Group (which contains pro-democracy members from Italy, the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, Sweden and Latvia alongside our own Ukip delegation) was due to receive the Chair of the Petitions Committee.
They could allow Big Brother to turn off your lights
By Roger Helmer MEP
<< Click on image to enlarge
• Pretty soon you’ll be offered a “smart meter”, with all sorts of sales talk about the benefits and savings it will deliver. But smart meters may not be all good news. The Mail on Sunday has an interesting article pointing out that there are serious flaws in their design, and that many problems have not been resolved with these expensive systems.
There’s a happy, smiley marketing campaign which advises consumers of the benefits of the system — “helping the consumer” to understand how to reduce electricity use and therefore lower bills, and so on. But they don’t discuss the risks: the wireless system may not be robust; it may be vulnerable to malicious hacking; the programme nationally will cost £11bn; and it indeed may change the way consumers are billed — but not in the way the energy companies and government are selling the idea.
• When I arrived in the European Parliament, I fully expected that there would be stitch-ups, slanderous accusations, voters’ wishes ignored by the establishment and backstabbing from the political groups. At the time of writing, I have officially been an MEP for just over 24 hours – what has shocked me is that I have witnessed all of these happen already.
On Monday, the EU colours were paraded in military fashion and then on Tuesday the EU ‘national anthem’ was played to open the session, with pomp and ceremony to instill some kind of faux-European nationalism. Even pro-Europeans in Britain would have been shocked by what is going on in Brussels. Today Van Rompuy described Europe as ‘our new country’. That’s what the euro-elite see the European Union as being – a country, and they are fiercely nationalist when defending that ‘country’. They call for more European military co-operation, moves towards a European army. Even many in the ALDE (Liberal Democrat) group have been strongly in favour of war in Syria and Iraq.