Having your UKIP porky pie and eat it?

After severe food shortages during and after the last world war the EU instigated the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to ensure we had food security in Europe. Although reduced in size, it still is one of the most costly EU programme we all benefit from today taking up about 40% of the EU’s budget.

UKIP farmer with EU axe to grind

UKIP farmer with EU axe to grind

So how is #UKIP going to save £55 M. a day if their Agricultural spokesman Stuart Agnew MEP proposes to pay UK farmers roughly the same amount per acre as the current EU’s CAP Single Farm Payment, typically worth approximately £210 per hectare (£85 per acre), per annum?

Is this another case of having your #UKIP pie and eat it?

Sources:

  • £80 per acre on lowland, pro-rata decrease on marginal and hill land, capped at £120,000 (1,500 lowland acres, pro rata higher acreage limits on other land)

http://www.stuartagnewmep.co.uk/images_server/stuart_agnew/documents/8_AgriculturePolicyE-version.pdf

  • See last paragraph: Is it worth it? current EU’s CAP Single Farm Payment £85 per acre

http://www.savills.co.uk/promotions/country-house-consultancy-update/october-2012(1)/subsidies-and-the-non-farmer.aspx

  • Leave the EU and save £55 million every day (p. 10)

http://www.ukip-ynl.org/ukip-manifesto-2014.pdf

  • CAP shareof EU budget has decreased very sharply over the past 25 years, from 73% in 1985 to 41% in 2012

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/graphs/graph1_en.pdf

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How the English-Speaking Peoples did not invent freedom

Two recent right wing political books have kippers all aflutter at the moment.

The first book is “How We Invented Freedom” by Daniel Hannan –  Publisher: Head of Zeus (November 19, 2013) and the second is David Green’s “The Demise of the Free State: Why Democracy and the EU Don’t Mix”, out later this month from Civitas.

The only  countries fought for liberty in both World Wars and the Cold War?

The only countries fought for liberty in both World Wars and the Cold War?

I have to admit I haven’t read them personally and would rather not line the pockets of the authors involved buying them. The various UKIP tweeted excerpts, readings and reviews have put me right off in any case.

Following the advice of a follower on twitter I  listened not long ago to one of Dan Hannan’s Youtube rants. One where on a visit to Australia he pretty much claimed England invented the concept of democracy single handedly rather than ancient Greece, where I was taught it came from. After all the term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, so I found that an odd claim from the beginning. Below is an example of Hannan’s grand standing:

Most of the libertarian lexicon was originally English…The English language has been a vehicle and a guarantor of liberty down the centuries.” Inventing Freedom, (pgs. 32-33)

Well one of the things I always admired about  early European philosophers is how they not only studied ancient greek and latin manuscripts but somehow read and corresponded with great thinkers across the European continent in different languages. This useful cross fertilisation of ideas seems to have died a death in English speaking countries with the inexorable rise of English  as the global lingua franca. The English no longer felt the need to study and teach other languages. One thing is sure though: Montesquieu and Robert Schuman also wrote important things about democracy and the rule of law and they wrote in French!

Now today I was alerted to a another political blog in the the Telegraph entitled:  “The Demise of the Free State: Why Democracy and the EU Don’t Mix”, this time by David Green. I wondered: “Did these two conceited individuals by any chance study history under the same crazy professor in Oxford to get these pretentious ideas?

This is how this kind of vile anti #EU propaganda works. Authors start by writing a couple of paragraphs tapping into some current local political scandal, one that everybody in England is up in arms about, to get the reader’s attention. Next they write a few mother Goose and apple pie common sense lines, that no one in their right mind can have an argument with. So with the reader at ease, they are ready to inject the venom:

The style of government favoured by the European Union is very different from the free state that our ancestors fought to develop over many centuries.

Oh really? How did you jump to that conclusion all of the sudden Mr Green?  You saw a flash of light, God appeared and told you so? Meanwhile Green’s UKIP followers are already frothing at the mouth like intercontinental who asserts:

The EU is a copy of the Soviet, Communist model.
Power and control is in the hands of the few while the general population is bound by endless diktats thrown down from Brussels.

Anyway if there is an EU style of government it surely is constantly adapting to changing regional and world circumstances just as Dan Hannan’s precious body of ‘common law’? An anonymous commenter anotherview3 voices my sentiments in an admirable way and restored my faith in British common sense. So I will let him finish this week’s UKIP demolition job:

 I love the way skilled writers can write fine sounding phrases that are meaningless. Mr Green ties criticism of Maria Miller, a British politician and so one of the Westminster ruling elite into a criticism of the ‘Brussels ruling elite’, whoever they are. They are people from UK, Latvia, Finland, Slovakia and 24 other countries. And they all got their positions by being elected. The fact that there is an electorate daft enough to vote for Farage, (one of the Brussels ruling elite!!) is one of the weaknesses of democracy. To imagine that there is a ruling elite of power mad foreigners determined to grab power over UK is paranoid beyond belief. I suggest that more concern should focus on the Westminster ruling elite. There is obviously a close connection between government politicians, top media people and top London policemen.

Mr Green says, “Along with the peoples of many other countries, we developed what turned out to be the most successful way of life so far discovered: liberal civilisation.” Fine words, and yes, it is quite good here, although you wouldn’t always think so from all the complaints. But haven’t we been under the control of that power-mad EU for years?

The fact of the matter is that Mr Green’s phrase, ‘Along with the peoples of many other countries’ includes the countries of the EU and that is why we gain strength and freedom from our association with the EU. If the EU included countries that harboured or supported the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Putin type dictators then I would join UKIP immediately. As it doesn’t, and as it strongly supports my values then I won’t be.

[Further down] Calm down! The power of rule making lies with the MEP’s and Council of ministers. We will be voting for MEP’s in May. I suggest you vote for someone who will be constructive when he gets to Brussels, not someone like Farage who pockets his EU money and then spends all his time trying to vilify the EU. Our democratic system produces our ministers and they will, hopefully be representing our interests in Brussels in the Council of Ministers. The unelected bureaucrats to whom you refer are like our civil servants all beavering away in Whitehall. We can’t vote them out, either.
The EU writes down all its principles and aims. They seem ok to me and not a bit like your claims.

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Its the Nissans Stupid!

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Mail your questions for the great Clegg Farage #EU debate

twitter is abuzz with the eagerly awaited Clegg Farage debate on Britains position within the European Union, which will be broadcast on Wednesday 2 April at 19:00 on BBC Two.

You can eMail your questions to the BBC following this link and have a chance to be a member of the audience.  I sure would buy a RyanAir ticket from Limoges to Stanstead to take part.  Or you can print the attached cards and play #UKIP bullshit Bingo?

Cleff Farage debate BBC will be broadcast on Wednesday 2 April at 19:00 on BBC Two.

Cleff Farage debate BBC will be broadcast on Wednesday 2 April at 19:00 on BBC Two.

#UKIP bullshit Bingo and #WhyIamIn

#UKIP bullshit Bingo and #WhyIamIn

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10 Reasons to be Cheerful about EU

I promised in my last blog to write about the European Union in a less defensive manner, emphasising the positive aspects the EU has brought in my personal life, rather than responding to an anti EU agenda set by UKIP fruitcakes. So here it goes.

  1. Travel (Free Movement of People). I am old enough to remember having to show my passport three times on my first holiday from Holland to Spain in the sixties. Now even the remnants of the old border stations I passed are gradually demolished. Some Dutch joke goes that the only way you know you passed Belgium on the way to France is because the motor way had quite a few pot holes in that stretch.
  2. Right of abode (again free movement of people). I have worked and lived in four EU countries: From the Netherlands I moved to the UK where I worked 15 years for British Telecom and then started my own company MaXware UK Ltd. Having sold the Company to German SAP I then lived and worked five years in Belgium before settling down in France. Never a permit was needed or even an application form to be filled in.
  3. Free Trade (free movement of goods and services). When MaXware UK was started, I just had the sole right to sell MaXware products, developed in Norway, in the UK market. Because of my language skills on the one hand and the vicinity of  Stanstead and Luton airport, home of RyanAir and Easyjet, I was soon given responsibility for Europe wide sales. It meant I could have sales meetings anywhere in Europe and be back in my own bed by night fall. The founder of Easyjet Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is in fact one of the UK business leaders that has said his business would not even exist without the EU. I also enjoyed the fact I could sell our goods and services without ever having to fill in a single customs form.
  4. Human Rights. In 2007 I found myself one of the million UK innocent citizens on Labour’s National DNA data base. It was only after intervention by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg  (S and Marper v United Kingdom [2008] ECHR 1581) that our privacy was restored. This is how Europe protects us from over ambitious national politicians.
  5. Democratic Rights Being a resident, but not a citizen of the United Kingdom, I was never allowed to vote in national elections. Voting for my MEP meant that I felt that at least I had some democratic rights.
  6. A better Quality of Life  I am as weary of British Upper Classes, Industrialists and Bankers represented by the Tories, as I am of the overzealous UK Labour movement. Like a see saw out of control they waste all their efforts on blaming each other and the first years of any new government are wasted on undoing where the previous one overshot their ambitions. Some say that around 70% of national legislation is nowadays concerned with European Directives. There is nothing intrinsically bad about these directives. It seems to me they are far more balanced and thought out than the legislation ‘on the hoof’ you can witness in national parliaments, Westminster no exception.  So when a car I buy has EU type approval and I see EU quality labels on food I have trust in that. I also think that the EU is preventing a ‘race to the bottom’ trying desperately to be competitive with the emerging markets. I am thinking of things like working hours, paid holidays and health and safety.
  7. Peace in Europe Having heard first-hand from my parents of the atrocities and deprivation of World War II, I am conscious of how lucky our generation has been never having had to go through something like that in our life-time. To some that argue that it was NATO that kept the peace I say that NATO is a fight club and to me fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity!
  8. A stronger voice in the world I am conscious of a shifting global power base in the world. Far from a ‘special relationship’ I have always felt that the USA treated my adopted home country as a lap-dog. While I have admiration for the bravery of British troops, I feel that there is no reason why they could not be just as brave in the context of a European army, one that one day might replace NATO and where America plays a less dominating role. By the way I think that the Dutch Soldiers in Afghanistan and the French Soldiers in CAR are doing just as important and brave a job and that here it’s more about protecting lives than US Oil interests.
  9. Care for the environment Pollution has no respect for National Borders. A poisonous radio active cloud can traverse the English Channel just as easy as it can blow eastward into Russia. #Chernobyl. It is pointless to be nuclear Free in Holland when Belgium has the highest concentration of reactors sitting right on our border. So to have environmental policies on a National level is pointless. On a European level it makes a bit more sense and at least together as Europe we have a hope of influencing developing economies not to make the same mistakes as we have.
  10. The Euro Yes that most hated thing in Britain, I still call it one of Europe’s greatest success stories. I remember the shouts of delight in some corners of Britain when its value against the Dollar dropped from around a dollar ten to around 80 dollar cents.  These same people were awfully quiet when the humble Euro surged back to a high of around $1.60. Wikipedia tells me the euro today is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. As of November 2013, with more than €951 billion in circulation, the euro has the highest combined value of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar. No doubt UKIPS Professor Congdon will say it all will end in tears, but I see very little evidence of that. As for the pound, I see it converging towards the Euro and then no doubt some smart ass politician will convince the British public that now would be a good time to step in, when they could have gone in at 80 pence and made my Pension worth 20% more!
Euro vs the Dollar over the years

Euro vs the Dollar over the years

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UKIP OXYMORONS

I have a new favourite word I associate with UKIP and it is ….. ‘oxymoron’!

Oxymoron conveys in one word my feelings about the United Kingdom Independence Party (#UKIP), a single issue populist movement that has no problem at all juxtaposing lots of contradictory policies and silly ideas. Furthermore their activists seem to be mainly morons, a further reason for my mind’s playful association .

It’s bad enough meeting these boring people at some party spouting their straight bananas from Brussels nonsense. You can usually shut them up with a simple question: “Name me one thing, where the EU has had a negative effect on your personal life”. Uh.. Deafening Silence (now there’s an oxymoron!).When interviewed on the radio your average kipper doesn’t fare much better. Just listen to the LBC radio clip below. James O’Brien does a much better UKIP demolition job than I do at dinner parties.

LBC media clip

James O’Brien Took On UKIP Member… And Dismantled His Argument In Two Minutes

On social media like facebook and twitter these paranoid loonies or ‘kippers’ are even harder to stomach; they seem to be in constant fights with lots of imaginary enemies or trying to pick new ones by endlessly regurgitating their wrongly held beliefs. Mostly these fights are all about some vague but passionately held belief that they should have the inalienable right to cut off their noses and spite their face, free from any #EU interference. All this in order to make the United Kingdom a worse place to live in and appear less attractive to immigrants from the EU and the rest of the world. Yes ‘mass immigration’, real or perceived is another favourite UKIP bug bear. It is this obsession with immigrants which cause people to suspect them of darker racist, even fascist motives. The fact that Great Britain is in fact the one of the largest exporter of surplus people in the world and certainly the biggest in Europe totally passes these people by. The FT recently reported that the number of European migrants in the UK is almost exactly balanced by the number of Britons living elsewhere in the EU, according to official figures. But hey, not something your average kipper would know, much less care about? To them free movement of people is a one way street.

For an amateur political analyst like me it is very difficult to fathom what UKIP actually stands for. UKIP seems to be a single issue party and the issue in question is Britain’s membership of the European Union. It seems that just about everything that is, or could possibly go wrong in Britain can be blamed  by a kipper on the EU or it’s sister organisation the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The average ignorant UKIPer probably has no idea these are separate organisations governed by completely different treaties. It will come as a complete shock, should they ever invoke article 50 and leave the EU after a referendum, that they would still be part of the Council of Europe and it’s  treaty on Human Rights.

The two major established political parties in the UK are Labour and the Tories. Especially the Conservative Tory party, seems to have been shaken to the core by some recent political gains by a few successful UKIP candidates in local council elections, mostly far from London’s Westminster, but in what is considered Tory heart land. These gains are often dismissed as protest votes, but they still hurt at a local level. UK’s parliament seems for now reasonably protected from UKIP by Britain’s peculiar ‘First past the Post’ electoral system.

Cameron running scared on UKIP and EU

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is of course under a lot of pressure, not only from Tory councillors losing their seats to UKIP, but also from many grass root Tory supporters, who’s views on Europe are not that dissimilar to those of UKIP.  To placate this group and stop them defecting, Mr Cameron recently pledged that, if the Conservatives win the May 2015 election, an in/out referendum of sorts would be held within the first half of the five-year parliament – which means by the end of 2017. It will be the first referendum on Europe since Britain voted in 1975 to stay in the EU, two years after joining.

Far from placating his Euro-sceptic back benchers, Cameron’s move seems to have back-fired on him. You see Cameron, in common with Britain’s established political classes does not really want to leave the EU and everybody in Westminster knows this! So he prattles on about ‘repatriating’ some powers from Brussels to make the EU more palatable for his back benchers. He suggests he has allies in Europe that desire the same like the Dutch!  Instead of giving Cameron ample prior lea way to favourably reposition Britain’s position within Europe, a private members bill by Conservative MP James Wharton tried to guarantee this public in-out-vote on the UK’s EU membership would happen willy-nilly in 2017. After an initial cross party majority was achieved in the Lower House, Mr Wharton’s bill was effectively killed by the House of Lords On January 31st.  Furthermore Cameron was cold shouldered about the whole idea by other EU leaders, most notably President Hollande and Chancelor Merkel who have better things to do. Thus the Conservatives continue to dream their dreams, prattling about negotiations which can never happen, the return of powers they never name and meaningless referendums sometime in the indefinite future. Thanks for that observation Mr.Booker!

So Back to UKIP, why do they so get under my skin?

Firstly you have to realise that, as an EU immigrant in the UK for 25 years, I was unable to vote and felt disenfranchised from both the political system in the country I lived and worked in for so long as well as my home country in the Netherlands.  Sure, after the first five years I could have obtained UK citizenship and the right to vote. However living in a constituency with a fifty year old safe Tory seat, I didn’t really feel the urge. As a practising and committed European, I satisfied myself concentrating on and voting for European and local elections. Here my votes at least counted.

Over the years I became aware of a persistent negative tone in anything that was reported on European matters in mainly foreign owned British Newspapers. This aroused my suspicion. I checked facts with my sister who worked for the EU Commission and my Spanish brother in Law, who happened to be a Euro MP. More often than not the facts as presented to the British public turned out to be twisted. Some of my lesser educated British friends were lapping up the straight banana scare stories, as eager as my cat lapped up his breakfast milk. They seemed to positively revel in any negatively slanted EU story. I put this down to their island mentality and lack of EU travel.

And then we witnessed the rise of UKIPs court jester Nigel Farage.  Someone with the gift of the gab for sure. But why does he have to spout his nonsense on serious debating programmes like BBC question time? Even chairman Dimbleby has to chide Nigel regularly for turning every question into another EU issue. Why does the BBC feel the need to keep inviting the leader of a protest party with zero MPs and a manifesto comprised entirely of bits of old Jeremy Clarkson jokes? Thanks for reminding me Martin Robbins.

EU Elections are no joke; not to be used as an opportunity for protest and to send UKIP terrorists to Strassbourg!

The United Kingdom’s 2014 European Parliament election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 22 May 2014, coinciding with the 2014 local elections in England. My fear is that UK voters for all the reasons outlined above will not take this election serious and just use it to give the existing coalition government a good kicking by voting UKIP.

After the last EU elections UKIP managed in this way to take up 13 of the seats allocated to the UK. Currently only 9 Members are left in the European Parliament.  Not only have these people the worst voting record of practically all Euro MP’s, when they do make their sporadic appearances they use them for calculated displays of rudeness aimed at causing upset and attracting attention. The latest to cause embarrassment in this way was of course, Godfrey Bloom, already notorious for describing party activists as “sluts” and for hitting a journalist. Parroting a Nazi rallying cry to attack German social democrat Martin Schultz in European parliament led to his forceful removal from the Euro Parliament. IT seems that the only reason for travelling to the Euro parliament meetings for these people is to try to degenerate democratic debate and of course pick up their fat Euro expense checks. UKIP leader Nigel Farage and his Euro MPs claimed nearly £800,000 in expenses and allowances from the EU in one year while campaigning for Britain to leave. What hypocrisy!

UKIP should be judged by the company they attract and keep courting

It is not surprising that a young single issue party should attract more than its fair share of nutters amongst its followers. Or is something far more sinister at work? Channel4 news recently obtained a letter from Farage’s schooldays where a teacher branded the Ukip leader a ‘fascist’ and ‘racist’ when he was a schoolboy. Is it any wonder that his on-line followers like to play the race and mass-immigration card so often? Let me give you the example of failed comedian Marty Caine and his blog ‘Simple Economics’. Marty describes himself as a UKIP activist living in Poole, Dorset who does not want to see Britain turned into the Alcatraz [SIC] of Europe by the EU. He continues “If you ever wanted to know what it would have been like if Hitler had won the war just let the EU win this one”. In true Joseph Goebbels style he then conjures up some figures that are meant to represent serious ‘research’ and would have us believe that the UK government’s bill for benefits rose by a staggering 31% and guess who is to blame? Marty concludes:” Like I said I am no economic genius but if those figures and the research are correct then a large majority of that £50 billion increase in the past two years has to be down to mass uncontrolled immigration, either that or we have just had the biggest baby boom in history and no one has noticed.” I wrote a detailed rebuttal to this article, after all Marty himself said “I will be very happy if I am proven wrong” but so far Marty has only approved one comment to his ‘learned article’ of a fellow moron who said “YOUR BLOG IS GREAT”

marty

When confronted with the above ‘real research’ on twitter, @Marty_Caine pretty quickly spat his dummy out and blocked me. I tried to explain Marty you can’t take a figure out of the Telegraph one year and another out of the Guardian newspaper the next year, without knowing what the base is of those figures.  Unless comparing apples and pears suits the anti-immigration scare you are trying to promote of course.

Via Marty’s 3,822 followers you can get to meet lots of UKIP supporters that are even more deluded. Below is a list of some of them. I repeat some of their more outrageous quotes:

To end this month blog post let’s try to debunk some of the more outrageous claims about the EU being ‘undemocratic’, ‘bloated’, ‘corrupt’ and ‘expensive’.

Where does the often quoted EU costs to Britain of £50 M. per day come from?

It comes from UKIP of course. Specifically from a report written for them by Eurosceptic professor Tim Congdon quoting figures from the Office for National Statistics out of context.

A gross figure of £18.4 billion divided by 365 days indeed comes to 50M. a day. But note these are ‘gross contributions’ and ignore any money that the UK gets back from the EU as Maggie’s rebate or in the form of regional development grants, payments to farmers etc. In fact 80% of EU outgoings is disbursed by National Governments, so to think this money is all wasted/could be saved means that there would be be many unhappy UK recipients of this money like farmers. If we quote the net figure we get closer to £10 billion (why don’t they use that amount? It’s also nice and round, easy to remember for kippers?) but we still have to figure that this entire amount is wasted and need not be spent by the UK on alternatives for EU regulation, the environment, EU foreign aid, Regulating EU’s banks etc. Let’s not forget Whitehall’s habit of ‘gold plating’ just about every directive coming from Brussels!

To put things in perspective, £10 billion a year seems to be what Britain spends on replacing its ageing fleet of Trident armed nuclear submarines. Now which would you rather spend £10 billion on to guarantee a peaceful and prosperous Europe?

Turning our attention to the UKIP accusations of corruption, the various myths propagated are that the EU’s accounts haven’t been signed off for 20 years by its auditors. When you dig down into the guts of these stories the problems are nearly always traced back to errors made by EU members, the nation states in other words, who spend as much as 80% of the EU’s budget. So is it a surprise that in Sicily some EU funds end up in the wrong pockets? No! But does that make President Baroso a member of the maffia? Of course not. We in Northern Europe should be cautious to throw the first stone when it comes to corruption and expenses fiddling (#duck house) . We should be glad EU auditors pick up on these things and should be worried if they didn’t!

Actually the ‘bloated and for ever growing bureaucracy in Brussels’ is another wonderful UKIP myth. It’s positively tiny compared to the behemoth in Washington DC that runs the United States of America. Birmingham city council, which employs about 35,000 staff, employs more civil servants than the EU which employs 32,666 according to its latest figures. A very modest figure indeed! And you’d be surprised how many Brits amongst them.

The EU is not undemocratic.  It has a structure which assures the ultimate sovereignty of the member nation states. The European Commission, which ukippers often describe as the government of the European Union (which it is not), is simply the executive body of the Union. It executes the decisions taken by the Council of the European Union or the Parliament, knowing that these decisions stem from the European Council’s democratically agreed strategy. The members of the European Commission are nominated by the member states. If you have an issue with these people take it up with the people appointing them. Don’t keep repeating infantile suggestions that the EU is an undemocratic dictatorship. Please!

PS 106 views from #UKIP members. Not a single reply in comments. They must agree with me right? I will try to write about the positive aspects of #EU in my next blog. That will really rile them!

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YES! UKIP’s two major ‘Raisons d’être’ this week been thoroughly debunked

UKIP’s two major ‘Raison d’être’ have this week been thoroughly debunked:
First their mythical scare stories on EU immigration where it appears in and out neatly cancel each other out and by the way Britain is the largest exporter of surplus people in Europe http://www.telegraph.co.uk/exp…

And secondly the myth about cost of EU regulation strangling British Business: Turns out that Cameron’s own commissioned research shows him up for the fool he is; most respondents from business organisations and individual firms, supported the current balance of competence on the free movement of goods and felt that, on balance, EU action was beneficial to the UK’s national interest.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-p…

Conclusion: Voting UKIP is a waste of votes as most of the time they don’t even bother to turn up in the EU parliament, let alone that they help shape EU legislation in Britain’s or anyone’s interest.

I bet David Cameron, who ordered the reports as part of a review of the UK’s relationship with Brussels, now wishes he’d kept his stupid mouth shut about his referendum on British EU opt out. Everywhere doors are slammed in his face, from Paris to Washington!

Image

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