The budget often has us worrying about what the Chancellor might have in store and there is no doubt that George Osborne still has a tough job on his hands if he is to bring the budget in to surplus by 2019/20.
But what I am hoping for is that the finances will now allow him to invest in infrastructure, particularly in the north.
The government is keen to improve trans-Pennine rail links and this is going to be essential in the development of a northern powerhouse, bringing more jobs and prosperity. While the government has given strong support to the improvement plan I am hoping that the budget will see it given the financial approval it now needs for the actual work to get started. Five stars to the Chancellor if he can manage it.
I was somewhat alarmed to hear some pro-EU MP giving credit to the EU for negotiating a deal with Turkey for the repatriation of some migrants/refugees, which may well prove to be illegal anyway. As anyone who has ever been to Turkey will know, haggling is a Turk’s favourite pastime, and they are very good at it. It comes as no surprise to me therefore to see that the EU’s negotiators seem to have lost their trousers and shoe laces on this one.
The deal, it seems, involves visa free movement for 80 million Turks who want to come into the EU. It also necessitates the fast-tracking of Turkey’s application for EU membership. Some of my political opponents seem to think this a great idea. I’m not so sure.
The secular, democratic Turkey of Kamal Attaturk, is slowly being eroded. The government recently took over editorial control of Turkey’s main newspaper. They didn’t do that so as they could help to enhance press freedom. There have been concerns about the relationship between President Erdogan’s son and the leaders of ISIS. There are huge concerns over the treatment of the Kurds and Turkish military actions in Northern Iraq.
Turkey has borders with Bulgaria and Greece to the north. But to the south and east it has borders with Iran, Syria, Georgia, Armenia, Iraq and Azerbaijan via Azerbaijan’s enclave of Nakhchivan and you really wouldn’t want to see who they all border with. With Turkey in the EU the reality is that those borders become our borders and, with the absurd Schengen area in operation, there are few obstacles between there and Calais.
The claims that the EU somehow helped in the war in Ukraine is, frankly, insulting. The EU was heavily culpable in what happened in the region as, blinded by its desire to expand its field of influence, it ignored clear warnings from Russia that Moscow was unhappy with the EU cosying up to its former Soviet bloc partner.
The EU continued showing its ankle and once the pro-EU demonstrations broke out, laughable EU foreign affairs kingpin, former CND campaigner Caroline Ashton, once the world’s highest paid politician, yet someone who has never stood for election, anywhere, went to Ukraine with then EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule to try and broker a deal. Putin warned her off after she was seen standing on the barricades of the pro-EU demonstrators. The rest is well documented but the EU accepts no blame for its geo-political irresponsibility.
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