What does the Queen’s Speech have in store on immigration?

With Ukip’s victory drums still ringing in their ears, the coalition has been working on measures to woo temporary Nigel Farage supporters in a thin Queen’s Speech. We don’t know precisely what’s in the State Opening of Parliament programme tomorrow, but the speculation game has begun.

The Daily Telegraph suggests new powers are expected to discourage immigration, including deporting unemployed Europeans after six months and a law to discourage British firms employing cheap labour.

These powers, if passed, would add to Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ and may prompt the European Commission to label Britain ‘nasty’ again. Depending on how the laws are worded, they could actually break EU treaties. On one hand Britain might be fined, on the other, it would be following the spirit of David Green’s suggestion that Parliament should call the EU’s bluff and assert its own sovereignty.

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EU elections: feminists, indignados and communists triumph

Unless you’ve been under a wireless-impermeable rock, you will know the headline European Parliamentary election results. You’ll have heard plenty about Ukip’s rise, and endless speculation over the old parties’ reaction. You probably absorbed some comparisons with France’s Front National, which did similarly well, or Holland’s Partij voor de Vrijheid, which did terribly.

The French and British results (even Scotland elected a Ukip MEP) suggest a narrative of Europe’s people moving towards anti-establishment, anti-immigration, anti-EU parties.  This story is attractively simple, but loses much of the election’s colour. Here, then, are some other points of interest: Continue reading…

Will last-minute media attacks hurt Ukip?

The EU elections are on Thursday. This is the most attention they have ever got, and the so called ‘fringe’ parties are likely to take unprecedented levels of the vote, far more than minor rebellions against Blairite foreign policy did. For years the media’s promoted Nigel Farage, perhaps because he’s a genuine, charismatic individual with a simple message. But now with real, important elections looming, they’re rounding on their darling.

The Times is the most committed attacker, running story after story about Ukip expenses irregularities, European extremist links, bizarre party management and Farage’s marital flutters. The BBC’s Nick Robinson followed their cue in investigating Mrs Farage’s job. Now The Sun is savaging Ukip too, oddly since it’s another of Rupert Murdoch’s papers. The Australian mogul has a soft spot for Farage, indeed has dined with him and tweets in his support, so it’s odd that two of his papers can pursue such a vendetta. Standpoint sees a conspiracy of celebrity columnists and Cameron cheerleaders behind the ‘hysterical campaign’.

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UKIP launch controversial campaign amid funding furore

Parliament is on holiday, so the media’s keen to seize on any hint of a story. This emerged yesterday: UKIP has unveiled posters for the European Parliamentary elections. Nigel Farage kicks off the campaign proper with a speech in Sheffield at 13:00. The posters’ content is stirring up a storm, as was intended. Continue reading…

Can Ukraine learn from Ulster’s compromises?

I spent last weekend in Newry, a Northern Irish city an hour up the coast from Dublin. I arrived outside the courthouse, whereupon a local cheerfully informed me, “Dissident Republicans still try to blow it up every year or so – it’s a bit of a tradition.” Continue reading…

EU paralysis & Ukrainian chaos

Yesterday pro-Russians occupied the Donetsk regional assembly, declared a People’s Republic, announced a referendum on joining Russia then appealed for Russia to invade as a ‘peace keeping force’. Oleksander Turchinov, interim Ukrainian president, says this deliberate ‘second wave’ recreating the ‘Crimean scenario’ to ‘dismember’ Ukraine, was coordinated by Russian special forces. Continue reading…

European trade or EU-dependent trade: a crucial distinction

The pro-EU pressure group British Influence has published research updating key economic indicators of the EU’s importance. They admit that the figures used until now – 3 million jobs and £3,300 per household – are outdated. Their new numbers, commissioned from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), suggest that 4.175 million jobs (13.3% of national workforce) were ‘associated with exports to the EU’ in 2011. ‘Total income associated with demand from EU exports was £211 billion or £3,500 per head…in 2011,’ CEBR writes. Continue reading…

Clegg vs Farage: some points of interest

Last night saw the first of two ‘In vs Out’ EU debates between the leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom Independence Party. SO this blog isn’t an exercise in patting myself on the back, I’ll just say now; seven (and a half) of my predictions were right. Clegg said what Clegg would say, and Farage responded predictably – indeed, he used Civitas research when arguing about cars. Continue reading…

EU-US trade deal threatens NHS and corrodes sovereignty

Barack Obama is meeting European leaders at The Hague to discuss Ukraine, but the ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ (TTIP) won’t be far from his mind. TTIP is intended to be the jewel in Obama’s legacy crown, a free-trade and regulation-harmony deal that for the world’s two largest markets in concert. David Cameron is also championing TTIP, arguing ambitious deals like it should be pursued aggressively as part of his EU renegotiation. Kenneth Clarke, the government’s main TTIP cheerleader, thinks the £180 billion deal ‘will create the largest single market ever known’. Continue reading…