Readers do not seem to be very interested in the Brexit subject, and I cannot say that I blame them, but I am writing these little commentaries for fun, so I hope that you will put up with it.
Tonight’s effort on ITV was actually something like a real debate, but still relied upon questions from the audience. Clearly, the debaters knew what the questions were in advance because some of them were reading from prepared notes.
There were three debaters from each side. I forget their names, apart from Johnson and Sturgeon. Oh, and there was a woman called Amber Rudd. On someone’s suggestion, I watched Dr Wollaston trying to explain why she changed from a supporter of Brexit to a supporter of ‘Remain’ earlier on. Readers might remember that she is a ‘single issue’ MP, and not a Conservative. Her maiden speech was on the need for minimum pricing of alcohol, and we all know that she is an anti-tobacco company fanatic. That is her real political party – The Prohibitionist Party. Andrew Neil was taking her apart on her change of mind. It appears that she changed her mind because her ancient father persuaded her to do so. Why not? I mean, it is not as though she is in Parliament to bother about unimportant things like Sovereignty, wasted taxpayers funds, corruption in high places, trade, and silly stuff like that. What clicked in my mind, while I was watching Wollaston, was that she had a nice, sweet voice, but her face was granite. Oddly enough, the Amber (!!) Rudd was much the same, without the nice, sweet voice. She came across as hard as nails, and had a voice to match.
What struck me forcibly was that the two camps had decided on their agendas. For ‘Remain’ it was economic hardships; for ‘Leave’ it was immigration.
What amuses me is how silly some of these MPs are. What about Soubry not knowing that ecigs were in the tobacco directive? What about Allison being a closet smoker (although she might have stopped smoking in public now)?
So they gave their little speeches, called each other liars, lied, and generally tried to frighten everyone into voting this way or that. After the debate, ITV news showed videos of half a dozen families who were undecided, watching the debate and commenting as it went along. One person later commented that he was still undecided, because nothing in the debate had helped him. How can you blame him? On the ‘Remain’ side, they said that leaving would be disastrous economically and that we would all be poorer, while the ‘Leave’ side said leaving would open up the world to trade for us and we would all become rich.
One thing especially struck me. Johnson, the only male by the way, had a great opportunity to explain why the £350,000,000 per week contribution to the EU was correct, but he messed up a bit. A couple of times, one speaker or another said that our gross contribution was like your gross salary. If you were asked what your salary is, you would state the gross figure, eg. £30,000 per an. I do not think that that is a correct analogy. The UK is ‘contractually committed’ to paying £350,000,000 per week, however those payments are made. Does anyone know precisely how the payments are made? Does the EU have an account with the Bank of England which is credited with £X millions from time to time, with a corresponding debit to the UK Government account? But what is more important is how the so-called rebates work. Does anyone know?
I can imagine that the full amount, calculated on the UK’s GDP, is commuted by various other commitments. Yes, our GDP is X, and thus our contribution to EU costs is Y. I do not know what the commuting factors might be. And that was Johnson’s opportunity. What are the commuting factors which reduce our gross contribution? Did none of the debaters know? I mean, we are not talking about chicken feed. Later on, after the debate, ITV News said that our gross contribution was reduced by some £100,000,000 to around £250,000,000 per week. In other words, instead of handing over £350,000,000 pw, and then being handed back £100,000,000, we handed over the net figure of £250,000,000. So, it is easy to see that our ‘contractual obligation’ is the gross figure. It appears that there is also a further refund of about £50,000,000 which our Gov uses for EU projects.
Either Johnson did not know what the £100,000,000 was for, or it is shrouded in secrecy. He could very easily have said: “Our gross contribution, which we are ‘contracted’ to pay is £350 mil per week, but we already contribute £100 mil by ….. whatever”. What is the ‘whatever’? What are we doing which is worth £100 mil per week that benefits the EU? Is it the cost of bombing Syria and similar things? After all, Germany and other EU States are not involved in such things and do not incur those costs. Does France get a similar commutation for much the same reasons? I suspect that Johnson knows very well what the reason for those commutations are, but they are highly secret. Despite the cuts, the UK still has a very strong military. Johnson stuck to his figures without explaining why, and he took the flack and brushed it off, without explaining why.
I thought that Nicola Sturgeon made a great case for England to sever relations with Scotland and let Scotland stay in the EU. With a population of some 5 mil, I am sure that Scotland’s opinion, as compared with Germany’s, would carry great weight.
Enough for tonight’s amusement.