4th February 2019update
I attended our Eastern Region AGM on Monday and was delighted that George Konstantinidis has agreed to continue as Chairman, Brian Lee as Secretary and Mark Anderson as Treasurer. Although I didn’t mention it at the time, I am happy to take responsibility for delivering UKIP (Outpost) newspapers to sub-depots on members’ premises around the Region. The publishers of the newspaper only want one address per Region to deliver the entire consignment to. I have the facilities at home to receive lorries and store pallets and the willingness to use my car and commit the time to distribution. All I need is a ‘transport manager’ to work out my most efficient route around the list of addresses of Branch Chairmen, etc.
I went to Brussels on Tuesday, arriving just in time to do a recorded TV interview for a foreign station. This was a set piece event of myself and Seb Dance MEP (Labour, London) debating Brexit issues. Please Google Seb Dance and I think you will agree that it would be difficult to find two men more different in every way!
I called in afterwards to both the AGRI Committee and to vote in the Internal Market Committee (IMCO). As mentioned in a previous diary, Anastasia, my Parliamentary Assistant, is now much busier since my move to the ENF Group and has the responsibility of producing voting lists for both AGRI and IMCO. This will extend to plenary (main Chamber) voting as well.
That evening saw Janice Atkinson MEP back in action. Janice, who was expelled from UKIP for a transgression that a third-party subsequently pleaded guilty to, has been away from the Parliament for six months. She has recovered from her throat cancer, which had made both speaking and eating extremely difficult. A disaster for her, as she thoroughly enjoys both activities. Whilst she is keen to make up for lost time on the speaking front, she is determined to retain her new very slim figure. Spicy food, abrasive food and alcohol are painful to swallow. She had been busy organising a ‘Free Speech’ event in the Parliament and treated all her speakers to a pre-conference dinner on Tuesday evening. I very much appreciated my own invitation to sit round a table with:-
Anne Marie Waters
The format was for us each to introduce ourselves in a five-minute speech about our background and motivation. A few questions would follow. It was a private room with good acoustics, resulting in a fascinating evening.
The following day the main event took place, where the speakers related the lengths that the “establishment” has gone to in order to shut them up. Amy Mek’s story is the most alarming, with her husband losing his job as a result of her published opinions. He has effectively now become an Orwellian ‘non-person’, finding it extremely difficult to obtain appropriate employment. He was present in the audience. The interesting point is that he doesn’t actually share all his wife’s political opinions, however, he does believe in her right to express them. The strength of their marriage is remarkable and exemplary. They are simply not going to give in to these ghastly trolls and internet stalkers, who are the equivalent of a group of self-righteous medieval witch-accusers.
The final speaker, Lauren Southern, who was not able to attend the dinner, showed excerpts of a new film she is making. It is very hard to believe that this young woman is only 23 years old. She has already established herself as a fearless and well-travelled investigative journalist. Her latest endeavour is to get amongst human traffickers in Greece and Morocco. I have no doubt that when this film is shortly released, her reputation will be further enhanced. I was obliged to miss some of her talk to do radio interviews with Radio Norfolk and Three Counties Radio.
This was an ENF event and, therefore, routinely boycotted by most MEPs and staff. However, I did notice a few from other Groups. Janice is to be congratulated for pulling all this together and, of course, she made sure it was filmed.
We had a plenary voting session on Thursday, after which I returned home. An email from Lord Pearson of Rannoch was awaiting me, please see attached Lord Pearson's submission to the Home Affairs Committee Islamophobia Inquiry To paraphrase it, according to the Office of National Statistics, Muslims will achieve a majority of the population in England by 2067. If we do not get rid of their parallel legal system of Sharia Law very quickly, this will also predominate by that date, with its implications for females, homosexuals and drinkers. Anyone under 30 today is likely to witness this phenomenon and I urge them to visit an Islamic country to get a sneak preview.
Readers of this diary will recall that I was on the wrong end of a farm machinery theft two weeks ago. The news on Friday morning that one of our most secure buildings had been broken into and burgled the previous evening made me very unpleasant company. We lost a quad bike, chain saw and my son’s partner’s brand new upmarket bicycle. The dust with my insurance company from the first hit had not settled and now I was in the embarrassing situation of opening another claim file. No sooner had the initial police and insurance admin been dealt with, I received a call that the quad bike had been seen abandoned in a hedge by a layby about half a mile away.
I am a member of ‘Norfolk Farmwatch’ and they were able to tell me exactly what had happened the previous night.
At about 19.00 hours a white transit van called at our arable farm premises, where my son Jethro lives with his partner. They were out at the time. A good stout padlock was destroyed and a building adjacent to his house broken into. The bicycle was loaded into the van, which was already well loaded with other stolen goods. The quad bike, which was without its keys, was towed away with the chainsaw in its carrier frame. Having left the long farm drive and reached the public highway, the driver appeared to think he might look suspicious, or for other reasons, cut the tow rope and pushed the quad bike into a hedge beside a layby. The driver continued to a village five miles away, where he entered another premises and set off an alarm. This put the Farmwatch social media app into a frenzy and stirred the police into action. They caught up with the van a few miles south and forced it to stop. The van then rammed the police car, the occupants jumped out and ran into the woods. There is a travellers’ site less than a two hour walk from there. The chief culprit is known to the police. Last summer he had red hair and a beard. He was banned from Norfolk by a court order, however, this has now expired and he is back, cleanly shaven with brown hair. Lulu, Jethro’s partner, is now in negotiation with the stolen goods recovery company, who are also looking for the owners of two good generators, plus other items.
I congratulate Farmwatch on their use of modern technology. The real problem with alarm systems is false alarms. If you can arrange things so that your alarm is reliable, then go for it. However, on our poultry unit, false alarms set off by the birds themselves occur too frequently for me to involve social media. We always investigate these, despite extreme inconvenience at 03.00 hours in heavy rain. We are now investing in some serious steel and concrete infrastructure down at the arable farm to make things a bit more difficult to gain access.
On Saturday, my researcher, Jeff Parkes, produced this summary of Article 24 of GATT. I think you may agree that it seems a very plausible solution to our present Brexit impasse.
In early 2017 Officials from the Department for International Trade were said to be investigating the full meaning of Article 24 of the GATT. Under a little-known WTO clause,(GATT) the U.K. and Brussels would be allowed a reasonable length of time (10 years) after Brexit to agree a free-trade deal before trade law would force both sides to impose the same tariffs on each other as they do on everybody else. Such a transitional deal would allay fears about an impending cliff edge in March 2019, when Britain could face the EU's steep external tariffs on goods ranging from meat to cars. According to Geneva-based officials, British trade experts worked on the understanding that a decade would constitute a “reasonable” time frame to stay on special trading terms with the EU. They are supported by the WTO rules, which state that any interim agreement should exceed 10 years only in exceptional cases.
I think the key passages that may be germane are paras 5 (a) and (b) below but as usual Article XXIV is complicated and you would need a lawyer to confirm my thoughts. (a) with respect to a customs union, or an interim agreement leading to a formation of a customs union, the duties and other regulations of commerce imposed at the institution of any such union or interim agreement in respect of trade with contracting parties not parties to such union or agreement shall not on the whole be higher or more restrictive than the general incidence of the duties and regulations of commerce applicable in the constituent territories prior to the formation of such union or the adoption of such interim agreement, as the case may be;
(b) with respect to a free-trade area, or an interim agreement leading to the formation of a free-trade area, the duties and other regulations of commerce maintained in each of the constituent territories and applicable at the formation of such free–trade area or the adoption of such interim agreement to the trade of contracting parties not included in such area or not parties to such agreement shall not be higher or more restrictive than the corresponding duties and other regulations of commerce existing in the same constituent territories prior to the formation of the free-trade area, or interim agreement as the case may be; and
(c) any interim agreement referred to in subparagraphs (a) and (b) shall include a plan and schedule for the formation of such a customs union or of such a free-trade area within a reasonable length of time.
I also received this link
from long-standing member John Youles, which I think you will find interesting.