We are always told that three million jobs are dependent on our membership of the EU and its single market. Even though, as I pointed out during my radio debates with Nick Clegg, the academic who calculated this figure meant the jobs were linked to trade; they are not reliant on us being in the EU’s political union. We still hear it parroted by desperate parts of the political establishment.
This week the European Court of Justice (ECJ) takes the debate one step further, putting the whole concept of the single market as we know it into jeopardy and causing yet another euro mal de tête for our beleaguered Prime Minister.
The ECJ has just begun hearings in which European Central Bank policy documents show plans afoot to insist that euro-clearing should be conducted in the single currency area. Britain says this amounts to an ultimatum that London-based clearers must relocate to the eurozone – or the UK must join the disastrous single currency.
At the moment 40 per cent of global trades in euros are cleared through London, and believe you me this statistic is one which causes deep upset in the corridors of EU institutions. The euro for them is about control and possession – their control and their possession – so why is so much business in their pet currency project taking place outside their jurisdiction?
The UK has lost two important battles in the ECJ recently: they failed to stop EU regulators extending their power to ban short selling, and were told that a challenge against the financial transaction tax was premature. It’s not a run of luck which I see is likely to change.
The attitude to financial markets and the City of London among MEPs is one of distrust bordering on hatred. One only need look at the new chairman of the Euro Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee – an Italian socialist with no financial experience on his CV.
He will be backed by a German socialist as a vice-chair, and another hard-left official will fill the critically important role of EU Economics Commissioner. They are convinced that any fall in the creditworthiness of a eurozone country or bank is not the fault of the single currency or the decisions made by commissioners or MEPs. Instead it’s the credit rating agencies and speculators who must be blamed and who need to be brought into line by legislation in order that Frankfurt and Brussels can control the international currency markets.
It’s utter nonsense, of course. The City of London is a global trading hub in spite of our membership of the European Union. The EU is not responsible for the bedrock of the English Common Law, our robust independent judiciary, our stable parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, the English language, the London time-zone or the critical mass of professional service providers in London. Those are the reasons London has been successful since exchange controls were lifted. The EU understands none of this, only jealousy.
With the ECJ judgment due in a few months it will be very interesting to see the reaction to this latest attempt to bring all euro trades inside the single currency area. If the judgment goes against Britain then Mr Cameron – and Boris Johnson – have a clear decision to make. No longer will they be able to pretend that there can be a two-speed Europe, making the most of a single market. It will be time to decide if we’re in or out. And those will be the only options.
MPs’ pay: here’s what I really think
More controversy following an interview I did on LBC earlier this week which led to reports that I called for MPs to get a pay rise to £100,000. Wrong.
What I have always said is that a greater salary comes with greater responsibility. Given that MPs are essentially some regional council rubber stamping work of the EU, where most of our laws are made, I see no justification for a pay rise of any kind for MPs. Indeed, they should have a pay cut since they are doing less work. Quite why they think they should get an increase shows the kind of self-aggrandisement which have left people with the view that their representatives have no idea how the rest of the country live.
However, should we leave the EU (which is looking more likely every week), MPs would once again be taking responsibility for the laws governing this country. It would seem right in these circumstances that they are paid the same as a headteacher of a comprehensive school or other senior figures in the community. This wouldn’t be an additional burden on the taxpayer because they wouldn’t have any MEP salaries, staff, offices, regional assemblies or expenses to pay.