Will patriotism trump hatred of Hillary?

The 2016 Presidential Election has perhaps been most notable for the fact that it features two of the most unpopular Presidential candidates in living memory. In recent polling by Gallup, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was found to have a net favourability rating of minus 31 per cent. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton didn’t fare much better with a net favourability rating of minus sixteen per cent. Ultimately though, despite their unpopularity, either Trump or Hillary will win the election and become the next President of the United States.

When Donald Trump first began his run for the Presidency, few commentators (myself included) gave him much of a chance. However, given the unpopularity of Hillary, he surely has to be considered to have a relatively strong chance of success in November’s election. One of Trump’s difficulties for a long while was his failure to gain the endorsements of senior members of the Republican Party. Contrast this with Hillary who was able to secure a vast majority of the super-delegates on offer during the Democratic Party’s nominating process. The support of super-delegates tends to be a strong barometer of a candidate’s levels of support amongst the party leadership, and securing the support of senior members of the party is absolutely vital when it comes to unifying the party after what is often a bruising primary campaign. The last couple of weeks have been notable for Trump in that he has finally begun to gain endorsements from some of the most senior members of the Republican Party.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (Getty Images).

On 2 June, Speaker of the House of Representatives and 2012 Vice-Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, finally endorsed Trump, after holding off for months. However, rather than actual support for Trump, it may be the case that Ryan has decided that with Trump as the nominee there is such a danger of losing the House and the Senate, that the Republican leadership’s only choice is to unite the party’s nominee and make the best of the situation that they find themselves in.

Perhaps even more notable than the endorsement of Paul Ryan, on Tuesday John McCain endorsed Trump. Remember that in June, Trump said this about McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.” Therefore, McCain now deciding to back Trump is a remarkable about face.

But perhaps it represents the difficult situation most Republicans find themselves in. If they endorse Trump then they’re seen as endorsing the repugnant views he has put forward about Mexicans and Muslims, among other things. Yet if they choose not to endorse him, then they are seen as going against the democratic will of their party members. In the United States, a country which prides itself upon being the bastion of democracy, the second option can be far worse for most politicians. Effectively, when it comes to endorsing Trump, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

In the case of McCain, he is facing a tough battle to retain his seat in the Senate in Arizona. McCain faces a tough primary opponent, a candidate associated with the Tea Party, whilst polling suggests he is in a virtual tie with the Democratic nominee for his seat, Ann Kirkpatrick. Therefore, perhaps McCain’s change of heart is understandable. He needs to have Trump’s support is order for his help in campaigning for his Senate seat. The worst that could have happened in McCain’s eyes is that Trump could have endorsed McCain’s primary opponent. But McCain’s hope will be that his endorsement of Trump will lead to Trump campaigning for him in Arizona.

Indeed, Trump has announced that he will be making a campaign stop in Arizona in the near future, where he will undoubtedly endorse McCain to continue as Senator. It seems that it is this need to unite the Republican Party which is forcing prominent Republicans to endorse Trump, despite the fact that they disagree with him on so many issues.

Senator John McCain (Photo: Mark Poster / Los Angeles Times; Associated Press; Cafe Press.com).

 

However, that hasn’t stopped some prominent Republicans from doing their best to disavow the views of Trump.

Mark Kirk is a Republican Senator from Illinois. The state of Illinois is traditionally a Democratic stronghold and therefore Kirk is understandably fighting hard to retain his Senate seat during the forthcoming election. Recently, Kirk openly withdrew his endorsement of Trump, saying: “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for president regardless of the political impact on my candidacy of the Republican Party.” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the most vehement Republican critics of Trump, has urged his fellow party members to rescind their endorsements. Graham also said, “There’ll come a time when the love of country trumps hatred of Hillary.”

This is perhaps the key point, the suggestion that prominent Republicans are only endorsing Trump because of their wish not to be seen as supporting Hillary Clinton.

Paul Ryan has also criticised Trump in recent days for the comments that he made regarding Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Donald Trump said was unfit to preside over a case because of his Hispanic ethnicity. Ryan said of these comments: “Saying someone can’t do their job because of their race is sort of the textbook definition of racist comments. I think that should be absolutely disavowed.” Does this perhaps suggest that the tide is turning and that senior Republicans will now rescind their endorsements of Trump as the begin to truly realise how bad a Trump presidency could be for the United States? Because one thing about Republicans is this. Yes, they hate Hillary Clinton with a passion, and the last thing in the world that they want is another Clinton Presidency. However, Republicans are always characterised by their fierce patriotism and love for America. Therefore, is there perhaps a chance that they will decide that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be more palatable than a Donald Trump presidency.

Whether or not prominent Republicans rescind their endorsements, it surely has to be said that Hillary has a good chance of being handed the presidency on a plate by virtue of Trump’s unpopularity, both nationally and within his own party. Winning presidential elections in a country as large as the United States requires the full party machine, and if the rest of the Republican Party are not so keen on a Trump presidency, then this would leave Trump at a significant disadvantage when it comes to campaigning for the election. It will be interesting to see whether the Republican Party convention features senior Republicans actually endorsing Trump’s policy ideas. I would bet that it won’t, and that Republicans will nominally support Trump but are unlikely to actively campaign for him to become President of the United States of America.

Trump’s serious unpopularity is a real boon for Hillary Clinton. Ordinarily, a politician with a net favourability rating of minus sixteen per cent would have no chance at all in a Presidential Election. However, this election is different. Trump’s severe unpopularity, coupled with the rising approval rating of Barack Obama, now at 51 per cent, gives Hillary a fantastic chance of winning the Presidency at a canter.

My view is that Trump is going to seriously struggle to win the Presidency. His comments on Hispanics will not have done him any favours in states with high Hispanic populations, such as Florida and New Mexico, both of which he could lose. Whilst his other controversial comments have not gone down well with the independents who ultimately decide the election. Surely, Hillary can rely on the lion’s share of independents casting their ballots in her favour.

Trump will regret not properly trying the unite the Republican Party earlier on in the campaign, as well as his failure to tone down his oft racist rhetoric. These two failures could combine to cost him the election.

It is rare that someone with an approval rating as low as Hillary’s could become President. If the Republican Party had elected a candidate who had the potential to gain the votes of independents and Hispanic voters, perhaps Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or John Kasich, then a Presidential race against Hillary would have been the best chance they’ve had of winning the Presidency in some time. However, the Republican Party’s decision to pick Trump will be shown to have confined them to the political scrapheap, at least in terms of the Presidency, for the foreseeable future.

Overall, patriotism will trump the United States’ dislike of Hillary Clinton. However much the American people dislike Hillary Clinton, they surely understand that she is the only person remaining in the race who is even remotely qualified to be President of the United States of America. A Trump presidency would result in the United States regressing on many different levels, and it would weaken the United States relations with their allies abroad. Something which could be disastrous given current world events.

The American people will recognise the issues that will be inherent in a Trump presidency, and this recognition will result in Trump being rejected at the ballot box. The American people are fiercely patriotic, and this patriotism will hand Hillary Clinton the presidency. Ultimately, Hillary will win at a canter.

Who could replace Nick Compton for England?

 I am a big fan of Nick Compton as a cricketer. His grinding out of runs is not always the prettiest viewing but has often brought success nonetheless. However, the numbers don’t lie and a career test match batting average of 30.20, coupled with an average of just 25.36 since his recall to the side in December 2015, mean that he has reason to fear for his place.

Compton needs to score runs in the Third test against Sri Lanka, which begins of Thursday at Lord’s. All Compton really needs is one big innings in order to regain his confidence and secure his place in the side, at least until the end of the English summer. I for one hope that he manages to do this. However if Compton fails to score big once again, there can be little argument against England looking elsewhere for someone to fill the number three slot in the batting order. Here is a look at the contenders to replace Compton, and be the next player to attempt to fill the current problem position in England’s batting lineup:

Tom Westley.

Tom Westley (Getty Images).

If you take a cursory glance at Essex batsman Tom Westley batting statistics, then he may not seem set to be England’s next test match number three. A First Class batting average of 35.14 is hardly anything to write home about. However, this season Westley has already scored 589 runs at an average of 58.90 in the County Championship. In addition, Westley has a knack of scoring big runs against strong bowling attacks. This season he made 108 in a match against the touring Sri Lankans. Whilst last season he managed 144 against the touring Australians. Therefore, he clearly has the ability to face the class of bowling that he would be up against at test level. All the signs suggest the Westley has excellent temperament, whilst his technique looks strong. Surely he must be in the conversation in England’s selection meetings?

Scott Borthwick.

Scott Borthwick. (Photo: PA).

Durham all-rounder Borthwick has already played test match cricket for England. In the final test of the 2013–14 Ashes whitewash in Sydney, Borthwick managed scores of 1 and 3 with the bat, whilst also taking four wickets over the course of the match. Borthwick has not been selected for the test side since then but, he has significantly improved his game in the meantime. Borthwick has a career batting average of 38.46, but this season he has already scored 574 runs at an average of 82.00. He is also a handy legbreak bowler. This season he has managed to take ten wickets at an average of 36.40. This would mean that in an England side he would take the pressure off Moeen Ali as another spin bowler, whilst also allowing England to nearly always select three genuine fast bowlers. Since he last played for England, Borthwick has improved immeasurably as a player, developing from a half-decent all-rounder into a genuinely top class batsman. He surely has to be given a chance in the England side at some point?

Sam Robson.

Sam Robson. (Photo: PA)

Australian-born Sam Robson featured in all seven of England’s home test matches in the summer of 2014, managing 336 runs at an average of 30.54 in contests against Sri Lanka and India. This was not enough to retain his place in the side and the following season, the selectors dispensed with Robson in favour of Adam Lyth. After a disappointing season last year with Robson only managing 891 runs in the County Championship, Robson knuckled down over the winter. This season he has been in a rich vein of form for Middlesex, scoring 636 County Championship runs at an average 79.50, with three hundreds. With Robson’s technically excellent defence, he clearly has the technique for test cricket, and having scored a hundred in his second test match against Sri Lanka, we know that he is capable of scoring runs in the test match arena. However, it remains to be seen whether Robson has the ability to consistently prosper in test matches, against the very best bowlers in the world. Nonetheless, on the basis of sheer weight of runs, Robson surely deserves consideration.

Mark Stoneman.

Mark Stoneman (Getty Images).

Stoneman doesn’t tend to be talked about as a potential England prospect in the same way that pundits talk about Westley, Borthwick, and Robson. Despite this, Stoneman batting statistics are impressive and, his form of late has been excellent. In this season’s County Championship, Stoneman has compiled 444 runs opening the batting for Durham, at an average of 55.50. On this basis, Stoneman is clearly another who should be considered for a role in the England side.

Daniel Bell-Drummond.

Daniel Bell-Drummond (Adam Davy/Empics).

Kent batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond is another excellent batsman, who at just 22 years of age, has the potential to be a long-term fixture in the England test match side. We perhaps first got a true glimpse of Bell-Drummond’s prodigious talent in Kent’s match against the touring Australians in June 2015. Bell-Drummond shrugged off a first innings duck to make a 92-ball hundred in the second innings, against a bowling attack featuring Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, and Peter Siddle. Since then, Bell-Drummond has kicked on and this season he has made 563 County Championship runs for Kent at an average of 93.83. Former Kent Captain Rob Key once declared that Bell-Drummond possessed the talent to play one hundred test matches for England, and on this evidence it is not hard to see why.

Gary Ballance.

Gary Ballance (Photo: PA).

Gary Ballance has already played fifteen test matches for England, but was dropped after the second test of last years Ashes series, following disappointing batting returns. This followed scrutiny regarding Ballance’s movement deep into his crease when batting, a movement which had left arm bowlers licking their lips. However, it must be remembered that Ballance still averages 47.76 at test level, having scored over one thousand runs in his test matches to date. Despite this, he has failed to correct the flaw in his technique that caused him so much trouble last summer. Couple this with his slim returns for Yorkshire this season, Ballance has scored 226 County Championship runs at an average of just 22.60, and an England turn does not look to be on the cards. Ballance has run scoring pedigree at test level, but given his technical flaws it seems somewhat unlikely that he would be able to replicate this if picked again.

Ian Bell.

Ian Bell (Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images).

The enigma of Ian Bell: 118 Test caps, scoring 7727 runs at an average of 42.69, on paper this looks good but for a player which such prodigious talent as Bell it is disappointing. When Bell was first selected for England he was earmarked as a future legend. However, he never seemed able to kick on and really prove to everyone how well he could bat. Bell was dropped for December’s South Africa tour after a disappointing test series against Pakistan in November. He has subsequently not been selected for the current series against Sri Lanka. Despite this, Bell has plugged away, having scored 307 County Championship runs for Warwickshire this season, at an average of 51.16. So he is scoring runs. However, although Bell has always been once of the most enjoyable English batsman to watch, thanks to his near-perfect technique, my feeling is that perhaps it is time to move on. Bell has had a lot of chances to cement his place in the England side and perhaps it is now time to give an exciting young player the chance to do the same.

Verdict.

In my opinion, England should be choosing between Tom Westley and Scott Borthwick when selecting the next batsman to be given a chance in the test side. Through sheer weight of runs, Borthwick demands to be given a chance. Whilst although Westley has scored fewer runs, in innings against touring Sri Lankan and Australia sides, he has shown that he can rise to the big occasion and score runs against the best bowling attacks in the world. These are both qualities which are absolutely integral to a successful career in test match cricket.

I also feel that Daniel Bell-Drummond is worth consideration. But with him being so young, I would personally like to see him finish the season strongly for Kent before there is any talk of test match honours.

I hope that Compton rises to the occasion in the Lord’s test starting on Thursday and makes a hundred to cement his place in the side for the rest of the English summer. However, if he fails then Tom Westley and Scott Borthwick will be waiting in the wings and both should be considered by the England selectors.

Could Jeremy Corbyn‘s apathy lead to Brexit?

                                               

In April, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would be campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union. However, for anyone who has observed the campaign would be forgiven for thinking that this was not really Corbyn’s view or, perhaps more accurately, that he doesn’t really care.

On Thursday (2 June), Corbyn made a speech at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London. Ostensibly, this speech was supposed to be Corbyn making the case for a vote to remain in the European Union. However, most of the speech was actually spent attacking George Osborne and the government. Corbyn was responding to Osborne’s suggestion that a vote to leave the European Union could lead to the UK falling into another recession. Instead of hammering home the argument that a vote to leave the European Union could lead to economic problems, potentially culminating in recession Corbyn attacked Osborne, saying:

“The biggest risk of recession in this country is from a Conservative government that is failing — failing on the deficit, failing on the debt, failing to rebalance to economy, and failing to boost productivity.”

Understandably, Corbyn and Osborne have very different political philosophies. Naturally they are going to disagree markedly on almost all policy areas. However, Corbyn has announced that he is campaigning for a remain vote. Therefore, why does he seem to think that it is a good idea to attack one of the most high-profile members of the remain campaign? Surely the conclusion has to be that Corbyn either want to leave the European Union or, at the very least, he doesn’t really care.

When Corbyn announced that he was going to campaign to remain the European Union, his statement offered little actual support for the European Union, instead focusing more on attacking the deal which David Cameron brought back from Brussels prior to the referendum.

                               Corbyn’s response to David Cameron’s EU deal.

Corbyn may not think that Cameron’s Brussels deal was any good. But, if he really wants a vote to remain then strongly criticising it hardly seems like a good idea, especially when the Labour vote will likely be crucial to a Remain victory. If the turnout for the referendum is similar to a general election turnout (and I suspect that it will be), then Remain need around nine million votes from Labour supporters, and around six million votes from Conservative supporters. Therefore, Corbyn could arguably be more significant to the outcome of the referendum than either David Cameron or George Osborne. Despite this, Corbyn has been extremely quiet on the subject when compared to Cameron and Osborne. Polling has shown that the lack of Labour voices in the EU debate has meant that traditional Labour voters are unaware of what the party’s stance actually is. Last week, a YouGov poll found that two in five Labour voter’s thought that the majority of the party was in favour of Brexit!

This lack of clarity is not helped by Corbyn refusal to campaign with David Cameron and the Conservatives. Corbyn’s argument is that there would be no benefit to this and that it would actually have the effect of alienating some Labour supporters. However, what it would do is actually clarify Corbyn’s position on the EU referendum. Everyone is aware that the Prime Minister is campaigning to remain in the European Union. Therefore, just one appearance with David Cameron may be enough for Corbyn to publicly clarify his position on the European Union and galvanise the Labour vote.

Some Labour politicians have campaigned with David Cameron, which will have had the effect of galvanising Labour voters in favour of a remain vote to some extent. Harriet Harman appeared at an event today with David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, and Natalie Bennett of the Green Party.

              Tim Farron, David Cameron, and Harriet Harman (Photo: Reuters).

Whilst recently elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been campaigning with the Prime Minister in London.

                        Sadiq Khan and David Cameron (Photo: Yui Mok/PA).

David Cameron has even campaigned with ex-general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Sir Brendan Barber. It is hard to think of two people who are likely to disagree on policy more than Cameron and Barber. However, despite this they have been prepared to put their differences aside and campaign together in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union.

This kind of cross-party campaigning is what is required in order to hammer home the importance of the referendum. In the face of the likes of Sadiq Khan and Harriet Harman being happy to campaign alongside David Cameron; and former adversaries George Osborne and Ed Balls campaigning together; Corbyn’s refusal to campaign with members of the Conservative Party looks petty.


Even if Corbyn is going to continue to refuse to campaign with members of other parties, he could still do more in order to try and keep Britain in the European Union. On Saturday, all of Labour’s living former leaders (except Corbyn) signed a letter in favour of remaining in the European Union. Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband; as well as former acting leaders Margaret Beckett and Harriet Harman, all signed the letter yet Corbyn did not. This seems to be yet another sign that Corbyn is, at best, apathetic about the result of this month’s referendum.


With the polls incredibly close, and many showing a lead for the Leave campaign, the remaining weeks of the campaign will be absolutely crucial to ensuring that Britain’s future is in the European Union.

                                                      Latest YouGov polling.

Labour voters hold the key to Britain remaining in the European Union. Labour have already lost core voters to UKIP, and they are in danger of losing more if Corbyn doesn’t take a more active part in the campaign. Whilst Corbyn is somewhat correct that David Cameron is unable to persuade Labour voters to back the European Union, Corbyn sharing platform with the Prime Minister would not lead to mass support for Brexit amongst core Labour voters. In fact, what it would do is clarify Jeremy Corbyn’s position on the referendum and increase support for Remain. Former leaders Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown have done their bit to campaign for a Remain vote. The same is true of other high-profile Labour politicians such as David Miliband and Lord Prescott. However, as the current Leader of the Opposition, Corbyn’s should arguably shoulder more of the burden of the campaigning. It is not enough for Corbyn to give the odd speech, if Remain are to win the referendum then Corbyn must be out campaigning every day, just like David Cameron.


Ultimately, Corbyn must make more effort to campaign for a Remain vote in the referendum. Failure to do so could end up with the UK beginning plans to leave the European Union of 24 June.

Why I will be voting remain on 23 June.

The UK would be stronger if it remained in the European Union. Whilst I admit that the case for remaining has been exaggerated somewhat by the StrongerIn campaign, just as Vote Leave have exaggerated their argument in support of Brexit, on the facts a Britain in the EU would be far stronger than a Britain outside the EU.

Trade.

The UK is currently part of the world’s largest trading bloc, with the European Union accounting for around 22 percent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to International Monetary Fund figures. This makes the EU the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP, after the United States. The effect of this is that countries like China and the United States are forced to take the EU seriously when it comes to trade negotiations. If we were to leave the EU, and then had to go to Washington or Beijing for a trade deal, we would be doing so without this bargaining power. Without the might of the combined EU economy, a trade deal with the UK would not be a priority for the likes of the United States and China. Even if we did get a trade deal, it would likely take many years to come about, as international trade deals typically take rather a long time to negotiate it could be years before we manage to do a proper trade deal with the United States. Indeed, on a visit to London in April, President Obama said the following: “I think it’s is fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon because our focus is on negotiating in a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done. The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”

Without the might of the combined EU economy, a trade deal with the UK would not be a priority for the likes of the United States and China.

In addition, the UK would be unlikely to be considered to be an especially important trading partner to these countries. Indeed, when David Cameron visited China in 2013, newspaper the Global Times said, “The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study.” As a result, we would be unlikely to get the preferential treatment that we can receive as members of the EU. In short, leaving the EU would cause a significant loss of power and leverage when it comes to negotiating international trade deals.

As well as the difficulties that would be inherent in negotiating trade deals following an exit from the EU, there are other significant benefits to trade which come courtesy of EU membership. The EU incorporates the free movement of good, services, capital and people. The so-called ‘four freedoms’. The free movement of goods means that companies based in the UK are able to sell their goods in EU countries without being subject to tariffs or other protectionist trade policies. This lack of tariffs can mean a huge saving for businesses who export their goods, meaning higher profits. Whilst it is true that European Union membership does bring with it some added red tape for business owners to have to deal with, the truth is that the gains from avoiding trade tariffs offset the irritation of this red tape significantly. If we were to leave the European Union, there is no guarantee that we would be able to retain a trade deal as beneficial as the one which we have access to today. In fact, it seems highly likely that any trade deal that we secure with the rest of the European Union after we leave will be on far worse terms than we currently enjoy, particularly if the Vote Leave campaign continue their mission to curtail the free movement of people which will likely come at a severe cost in terms of a worse trade deal with the European Union. Switzerland and Norway both benefit from some of the European Union’s trade rules, however they must also accept the free movement of people. If the UK leaves the European Union, and is then intent on also curtailing in the free movement of people (in itself a terrible idea) then we will almost certainly be landed with relatively poor trading terms. In any case, there is little doubt that exporting would become more expensive for British businesses. The imposition of tariffs would also likely mean that goods being imported into the UK for sale would be more expensive. As always, this increase in cost would be passed onto the consumer. The head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Robert Azevedo, suggested in May that leaving the European Union could cost British consumers around £9bn a year. Although it is almost impossible to truly estimate the costs of leaving of the European Union, it is virtually indisputable that trade would become more expensive.

Therefore, in terms of securing our position as a competitive trading nation, the UK must remain members of the European Union.

Employment.

Another significant benefit of the single market is that companies choose to base themselves in the UK, or at least have a significant presence in the UK, in order to gain access to the single market and thus benefit from the free movement of goods. Many American companies choose to have significant presences in the UK due in part to the common language and strong business infrastructure, but also in order to gain access to the single market, in particular the free movement of goods. For example, American investment bank JP Morgan employs 19,000 people in the United Kingdom, whilst Japanese car manufacturer Nissan employs 4,000 people in the UK. The same is true of many other multinational companies, who have a significant presence in the UK, in part, because of our membership of the European Union. Whilst it seems unlikely that any of these companies would completely leave the UK in the event of Brexit, there is a strong chance that they will end up reducing their presence in the country as a result. CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, suggested that JP Morgan could cut 4,000 jobs in the the UK, if the UK were to vote to leave the European Union. Of course it is easy to simply dismiss statements regarding potential job losses as scaremongering, but there is genuine risk. Seeing as these companies extract real benefit from the UK being in the EU then it stands to reason that they will move their UK business into a country which remains an EU member in order to capitalise.

Of course it is easy to simply dismiss statements regarding potential job losses as scaremongering, but there is genuine risk.

There is a big reason why so many international financial services companies choose to locate their European headquarters in London, and that reason is our membership of the European Union. The access to the single market which comes with our European Union membership has been a key reason behind the City of London becoming the global financial centre which it is today, leading to over half of the world’s largest financial services firms choosing to base their European headquarters in the UK. This sector provides over one million jobs all around the UK, with many of these jobs intrinsically tied to our membership of the European Union. Indeed, 100,000 of these jobs are said to be at risk if we were to vote to leave the European Union.

Access to the single market also offers significant benefits to manufacturing companies as they can export their goods tariff-free throughout the European Union. Access to the single market has been a key reason behind Britain’s thriving car manufacturing sector. Both Nissan and Honda have a significant presence in the UK, in part because of our access to the single market.

Many European companies also choose to have a significant presence in the UK because of our membership of the EU. This is because of our access to the single market. For example, German multinational Siemens employ 13,760 people in the UK. Chief Executive of Siemens UK, Jurgen Maier, has been vocal about the company’s wish for the UK to remain members of the European Union stating that, “it is very important”, for Siemens that the UK remains members of the European Union. The same is true of many other European companies who have significant presences in the UK. In February, a survey of 700 businesses carried out by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that 29% of British and German companies polled would relocate completely or reduce their capacities in the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union. This is an incredibly worrying finding. Even more worrying is that the wish to leave the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union, was particularly prevalent amongst companies operating in the IT and technology sector. This is currently one of the fastest growing business sectors and with continued innovation will continue to grow at great speed, meaning that it is absolutely crucial for our future prosperity. The possibility of technology companies leaving the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union would be a huge blow.

Ultimately, leaving the European Union could be a huge blow to the UK in terms of loss of jobs. Therefore, it is vitally important for employment that the UK votes to remain in the European Union on 23 June.

The Economy.

Aside from trade and employment, leaving the European Union would also have wider implications for the UK’s economy as a whole.

In a poll conducted by the Financial Times at the beginning of the year, 100 economists were surveyed. Three-quarters of these economists predicted that leaving the European Union would have an adverse effect on the UK’s economic prospects in the medium-term, with only eight per cent suggesting that a vote to leave the European Union would have a positive effect on the UK’s economy. This alone shows that there is a broad consensus amongst economists that a vote to the leave the European Union would be damaging to the UK’s economy. At the very least in the short to medium-term.

Evidence suggests that if we vote to leave the European Union, then the UK economy will suffer an immediate negative shock. In addition, if we were to vote to leave the European Union then there would be a transition period which would likely last around two years. During this period there would be significantly heightened uncertainty surrounding Britain’s trading relationships which would have the potential to significantly damage trade and investment. Traditionally, trade and investment decreases significantly in times of uncertainty, and that would be unlikely to be any different in this case. This would be likely to have a significant knock-on effect on the UK’s economic growth, and on household income levels.

There is also the fact that the UK depends upon migration from the European Union in order to meet our economic targets. Chancellor George Osborne has set the target for the UK to achieve a budget surplus by the end of the current decade. Analysis has suggested that this will not be possible without an increase in migration. Therefore, if leaving the European Union has a significant impact upon migration, which surely it will do, then this could have far wider reaching implications for the UK economy.

It has also been suggested that a vote to leave the European Union could leave a hole in the UK’s public finances. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (an independent think tank) has forecast that a vote to leave the European Union would lead to a hole of £20bn to £40bn in government finances, as a result of lower economic growth and higher borrowing costs. In turn this would be likely to mean the necessary extension of austerity for at least two further years, until 2022. This would clearly offset any financial benefit that we might gain my no longer having to make a financial contribution to the EU budget. The deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Carl Emmerson stated that, “the overwhelming analysis suggests that the economy would shrink by more than enough to offset the positive effect on the public finances of the reduced financial contribution to the EU budget.” Therefore, leaving the European Union could deal a hammer blow to the UK economy.

The economy would shrink by more than enough to offset the positive effect on the public finances of the reduced financial contribution to the EU budget.

Overall, it is the uncertainty which could be most damaging to the UK’s economy. Leaving the European Union could lead to years of uncertainty, with the potential to plunge the UK into another recession. This uncertainty would have far-reaching effects on the UK’s future economic growth, and household income. Therefore, the UK should vote to remain members of the European Union on 23 June. Economically, voting to leave is just too big of a risk to take.

National Security.

European integration was originally seen as a way in which to reduce the chance of a repeat of the Second World War, which saw huge loss of life and destruction throughout Europe. Although there seems little chance of war between European countries in the near future, membership of the European Union still remains crucial for the UK’s national security.

The European Union has significantly contributed to a safer Europe through its ability to impose sanctions upon Russia, with the European Union taking the lead in the confrontation of Russia over its annexation of Crimea. The European Union has also been a key player in confronting Iran over its nuclear programme.

In addition, the danger from terrorism around the world has scarcely been greater. Fighting terrorism is incredibly difficult as it is, but membership of the European Union does make it somewhat easier. Cooperation between European Union countries on the exchange of aircraft passenger records for example, can go a long way to help foil a potential terrorist attack. Continued cooperation between European Union countries will be absolutely integral to continuing success in the fight against terrorism, and remaining members of the European Union is the only way to ensure this.

Overall, remaining members of the European Union will benefit our national security greatly. Continued cooperation between European Union countries is the best way to maximise our chance of success in foiling terror attacks, and minimise war, in order to ensure our national security and the safety of our citizens.

Summary.

I have tried to keep this relatively brief by focusing purely on the economy and national security. I could comfortably have talked about the environmental protections brought in by the European Union, or the workers rights and safety standards which have been brought in by the European Union, but I felt that to focus on the effect that Brexit would have on the UK’s economy and its security would really hammer home the negative effect that leaving the European Union would have for the UK. I also felt that these were the areas in which the leave campaign’s erroneous claims about the European Union could be addressed. One of Vote Leave’s major campaigning points is that the UK sends £350 million a week to the European Union. However, when we account for the money that the European Union sends back to us, as well as the European Union spending on the UK, then the net amount that we pay to the European Union is closer to £120 million a week. This cost amounts to a fraction of the economic benefits which we gain from being a part of the European Union and, even if leaving the European Union means that we will no longer have to pay it, the uncertainty caused by our exit will hit economic growth and investment so hard that it will offset any saving. Therefore, there seems to be no monetary benefit to be gained from leaving the European Union at all. As for sovereignty and democracy, the UK remains a democratic country regardless of our membership of the European Union, and European Union law actually comprises relatively little of the legislation enacted in the UK each year. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has claimed that an astonishing 75 per cent of the UK’s law originate from the European Union. This is patently untrue. In fact, the figure is difficult to calculate for certain, but it closer to between 15 per cent and 25 per cent than Farage’s claim of 75 per cent. Once again this is a small price to pay for the economic and national security benefits provided by the European Union. As well as comments about the proportion of law made in Brussels, Vote Leave also regularly comment on some the ridiculous laws constructed by the European Union. For example, Boris Johnson has recently been keen to talk about European Union regulations regarding ‘abnormal curvature of bananas’. Yes, laws like this are somewhat ridiculous. But is this really a good reason to leave the European Union? No. The fact that Vote Leave are having to resort to arguments like this shows that they realise they are losing the argument in terms of the economy and national security.

Overall, the European Union is not perfect. Realistically, no trading bloc or indeed sovereign country can ever be perfect for everyone. However, the benefits of European Union membership vastly outweigh the costs. For the sake of our future economic success and national security, the UK must vote to remain members of the European Union on 23 June.

For the reasons which I have outlined here, I will be voting for the UK to remain a part of the European Union on 23 June. For the sake of our country’s future success, I hope that you will do the same.

The Lions Tour 2017: Runners and Riders.

With the first match of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour just over one year away, I take a look at the players (and coaching staff) in pole position to board the plane to New Zealand.

The Head Coach:

In 2013, Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland led the Lions to Australia. With a coaching team including Rob Howley, and then England coaching staff Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, Gatland led the Lions to a 2–1 series victory. Their first test series victory since 1997.

This time around, Warren Gatland appears once again to be in pole position to be appointed as Head Coach for the Lions Tour to New Zealand. It is rare for a coach to lead multiple Lions tour but despite this, Gatland seems the only credible candidate to lead the tour to New Zealand. For a time, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt looked likely, but Ireland’s mediocre performances in the 2016 RBS Six Nations Championship may have damaged his chances. England coach Eddie Jones has ruled himself out of coaching the Lions. Vern Cotter has overseen radical improvement in the performances of the Scottish national side but still feels like a long-shot. Overall, Warren Gatland seems exceedingly likely to be named as the head coach for a second consecutive Lions tour.

Prediction: Warren Gatland.

The Captain:

In 2013, Sam Warburton became the youngest ever captain of the British and Irish Lions at the age of just 24. Warburton captained the side in the first and second test before injury forced him to miss the deciding fixture. For this final match his Wales teammate Alun Wyn Jones took over the captaincy. The smart money would be on one of these two men to be named the captain this time around. Despite this, the name of Dylan Hartley should also be mentioned after he led England impressively in their Grand Slam Six Nations campaign. It should also be noted that Hartley plays in a less competitive position than both Warburton and Wyn Jones which, in theory at least, makes his place in the team more secure. In addition, Greig Laidlaw’s captaincy of Scotland has been increasingly impressive since he took over the job in 2011, this was particularly illustrated by his leadership in Scotland’s 2015 World Cup campaign. However, with so many options available to the Lions at scrum-half, there is no guarantee that Laidlaw will even be named in the final squad, let alone be named the captain. This brings us back to Warburton and Wyn Jones. Both players lead by example, and can be considered to be amongst the best in the world in their respective positions. But it is Wyn Jones who would be my choice. He would be assured of his place in the side and would lead from the front. He will be going on his third Lions tour, and he has experience in leading the Lions to a test series victory in that final match of the 2013 tour against Australia. It is a tough call but, for me, it has to be Alun Wyn Jones.

  • Prediction: Alun Wyn Jones.
  • In with a shot: Sam Warburton.
  • Wildcard: Dylan Hartley.

Forwards:

Props:

In 2013, the Lions selected six props in their original touring party. I would expect them to select the same number this time around. The undoubted star of the last tour was Alex Corbisiero who was called up as a replacement for Cian Healy and starred in both test wins. Unfortunately, Corbisiero is taking a break from rugby after numerous injury problems and will be unavailable for selection.

As for the props who will be selected, the best tightheads on show in this years Six Nations were England’s Dan Cole, and Scotland’s WP Nel. Barring a significant loss of form, both these players will travel to New Zealand. I would also expect Mako Vunipola to be selected for his second Lions tour. While Mako may not start in the test matches, his impact from the bench is second to none and I would happily select him for this alone. As for the rest of the party, Welshman Samson Lee has a good chance of making the squad, as do Irishmen Cian Healy and Jack McGrath. In addition, the likes of Alasdair Dickinson, Kieran Brookes, Paul Hill, and Ellis Genge should not be rule out of contention.

  • Prediction: Dan Cole, WP Nel, Mako Vunipola, Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Samson Lee.
  • In with a shot: Alasdair Dickinson, Kieran Brookes, Joe Marler.
  • Wildcards: Paul Hill, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler.

Hookers:

In 2013, the Lions originally selected Dylan Hartley, Tom Youngs, and Richard Hibbard as hookers. Rory Best was then called up after Dylan Hartley’s suspension following his red card in the Premiership final.

Based on recent performances, Dylan Hartley is currently the outstanding hooker in the British Isles and their seems to be minimal competition for the starting jersey on the Lions tour. If the rapid progress of Jamie George continues then I would expect him to be the second-choice on next year’s tour. The third place would then be between Rory Best and Sean Cronin of Ireland, and Scott Baldwin of Wales.

  • Prediction: Dylan Hartley, Jamie George, Scott Baldwin.
  • In with a shot: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Ross Ford.
  • Wildcards: Ken Owens, Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Second Row:

In 2013 the Lions took five second row players with Ian Evans, Richie Gray, Alun Wyn Jones, and Geoff Parling making the trip. Of these, only Alun Wyn Jones looks certain to make the trip. In the 2016 Six Nations Championship, the outstanding second row pairing was England’s George Kruis and Maro Itoje, and both should be as good as assured of their place on the plane. The advantage of Itoje, in particular, is that he is equally comfortable playing blindside flanker which would allow the Lions an extra lineout option in their forward pack. England are a team with significant depth in this position and the likes of Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes should also both be seen as being in with a shot. Jonny Gray of Scotland has been one of the outstanding second rows in the Northern Hemisphere for several years ago with his outstanding defensive workrate and to see him make the squad would be expected. Brother Richie, who travelled in 2013, would be less sure of his place. But his athleticism could be ideal off the bench and therefore he should definitely be considered. Likewise, Irishmen Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, and Ultan Dillane have been impressive in recent seasons and should be considered.

  • Prediction: Alun Wyn Jones, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Jonny Gray.
  • In with a shot: Luke Charteris, Richie Gray, Devin Toner, Iain Henderson.
  • Wildcards: Ultan Dillane, Matt Symons.

Flankers:

In 2013 the Lions selected five flankers: Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Sean O’Brien, and Tom Croft. Barring injury, you would expect Warburton and O’Brien to both be selected this time around, given that they are have been the outstanding flankers in the Northern Hemisphere for some time. In addition, Gatland is a huge fan of Dan Lydiate which gives him a strong chance of making the trip. Fellow Welshman Justin Tipuric provides express pace which could be invaluable off the bench. During the Six Nations, England’s flankers were Chris Robshaw and James Haskell. While both put in strong performances in this campaign, they have been criticised in the past by Gatland and would appear to be fighting a losing battle when it comes to selection for this tour. Despite this, if the pair can replicate their performances of the past year in the run-up to the tour, they would be undeniably deserving of selection. New Zealand born John Hardie has been very impressive since being selected for the Scottish national side and must be considered a strong possibility for this tour. Not least because of his experience playing in New Zealand and his ability to play as a genuine openside flanker. CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony have both been impressive for Ireland is recent seasons and would also merit consideration for the tour.

  • Predicted: Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, John Hardie, Dan Lydiate, Chris Robshaw.
  • In with a shot: Justin Tipuric, CJ Stander, James Haskell, Peter O’Mahony.
  • Wildcards: Tom Croft, Sam Underhill.

Number Eight:

Based on performances in the past few years, there seems to be only one candidate for the position of first choice number eight on this tour, and that is Taulupe Faletau. He is arguably second only to Kieran Read as the world’s best number eight (bear in mind I am not including David Pocock in this, as he is a flanker who happens to currently be playing number eight). In the 2016 Six Nations, the outstanding number eight was Billy Vunipola, and he should also make the trip. Expect competition from the experienced Jamie Heaslip, David Denton, and Nathan Hughes (who will by then have qualified for selection for England and the Lions). But it seems highly likely that it will be Faletau and Vunipola who travel to New Zealand.

  • Prediction: Taulupe Faletau, Billy Vunipola.
  • In with a shot: Jamie Heaslip, David Denton, Nathan Hughes.
  • Wildcard: Jack Clifford.

Backs:

Scrum-Half:

In 2013, the Lions selected Mike Phillips, Conor Murray, and Ben Youngs as the three scrum-halves for the tour. I would suggest that Murray and Youngs both have a good chance of also making the tour this time around. But, in my opinion, the outstanding scrum-half available for selection is, Rhys Webb. His pace and accuracy of passing, as well as his understanding with likely test starters Faletau and Dan Bigger will prove invaluable to the Lions side. England’s Danny Care is perhaps the most like-for-like replacement available for Webb, and for this reason he should also be considered. Whilst Conor Murray offers something different with his excellent tactical kicking game. I would also expect the likes of Greig Laidlaw and Ben Youngs to be considered, whilst the excellent form shown by Kieran Marmion for Connacht this season may yet catapult him into the Ireland team and a Lions call-up.

  • Predicted: Rhys Webb, Conor Murray, Danny Care.
  • In with a shot: Ben Youngs, Greig Laidlaw, Gareth Davies.
  • Wildcards: Kieran Marmion, Dan Robson.

Fly-half:

After this phenomenal performances in the 2015 World Cup, and his excellent showing following the tournament, the consensus seems to be that Dan Biggar is the presumptive test match fly-half for next year’s Lions tour. This is not a view which I am going to argue with. The much more interesting battle is for the second slot in the squad. Jonny Sexton started all three test matches in 2013, and although he has been somewhat disappointing this season, he showed signs of a return to his best form in the recent Pro12 playoffs. Owen Farrell, who also toured in 2013, has been the outstanding fly-half in the Aviva Premiership this season, and looks set to start for England in their upcoming test series against Australia. Both these players have strong cases for inclusion this time around. Despite his loss of form this season, we should not rule George Ford out of selection, whilst Finn Russell offers a completely different game from Biggar. Ultimately though, if Gatland is coach the expect Farrell to be selected, as Gatland is a big fan of his abrasive edge.

  • Predicted: Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell.
  • In with a shot: Jonny Sexton, George Ford.
  • Wildcards: Finn Russell, Danny Cipriani.

Centres:

In 2013 the Lions selected four centres in their original party, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Brian O’Driscoll, and Manu Tuilagi. It would be a surprise if they chose to take more this time, as any more than this makes the forging of partnerships rather difficult. The brilliance of Jamie Roberts, both in defence and attack, and the need of a powerful centre to take on Sonny Bill Williams, surely makes his selection a formality. The other outstanding inside-centre of the past couple of seasons has been Robbie Henshaw and I would expect him to also make the tour. That is not to say that there is not chance for the likes of Alex Dunbar and Henry Slade if they are able to establish themselves in their national sides and show strong form between now and the announcement of the squad. As for outside-centre, if Jonathan Davies is fit and firing then it would be a huge surprise if he wasn’t named in the squad. In terms of weight of tries then Jonathan Joseph should be considered whilst Elliot Daly is battling him for the England 13 shirt and both must be in with a shot. Scotland’s Mark Bennett should also be strongly considered, during the 2015 World Cup he looked like he was capable of becoming the new Brian O’Driscoll, and if he can regain this form he should have a good chance of making the tour. Duncan Taylor has also been quietly impressive in his appearances for Scotland, whilst if Manu Tuilagi can regain the form that saw him make the tour in 2013 then he must be in with a shot. Speaking for the new Brian O’Driscoll, 21 year-old Garry Ringrose has looked mightily impressive since breaking into the Leinster side and could be considered a long-shot for the squad.

  • Predicted: Jamie Roberts, Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Davies, Mark Bennett.
  • In with a shot: Jonathan Joseph, Elliot Daly, Alex Dunbar, Henry Slade, Duncan Taylor, Manu Tuilagi.
  • Wildcards: Ben Te’o, Garry Ringrose.

Wingers:

In 2013, the Lions selected four wingers: George North, Alex Cuthbert, Tommy Bowe, and Sean Maitland. At his best, George North remains the most destructive winger in the Northern Hemisphere and, barring injury, he is a certainty to make the tour. Tommy Bowe is currently suffering from a long-term injury but, if he can regain his fitness then he can be one of the best wingers in the world and I would select him in a heartbeat. Scotland’s Tommy Seymour has also proved himself to be a very impressive winger, whilst Anthony Watson has shown himself to be one of the most deadly finishers in the world. Both would make my squad. The eye for the try line shared by both Jack Nowell and Tim Visser would merit consideration. The same can be said of the creativity of Simon Zebo, the reliability of Dave Kearney, and the ability to create something out of nothing demonstrated on a regular basis by Jonny May and Christian Wade. But, North, Bowe, Watson, and Seymour are the most accomplished wings in the British Isles and consequently should be selected.

  • Prediction: George North, Tommy Bowe, Tommy Seymour, Anthony Watson.
  • In with a shot: Jack Nowell, Dave Kearney, Tim Visser, Jonny May.
  • Wildcards: Christian Wade, Semesa Rokoduguni, Chris Ashton.

Fullback:

In 2013, the Lions selected Leigh Halfpenny, Rob Kearney, and Stuart Hogg as their three fullbacks for the tour. Leigh Halfpenny’s performances on tour earned him the Player of the Series Award. Despite this, Stuart Hogg has made significant progress in the last few seasons and he should be considered the presumptive starting fullback for the test series. Hogg is currently the best fullback in the Northern Hemisphere, closely followed by Liam Williams who has been superb for Wales in the absence of Leigh Halfpenny. Both Hogg and Williams are guaranteed a place in the touring squad. I would also select Halfpenny although I do not feel that he is a guaranteed starter any longer. With Dan Biggar in the side, Halfpenny’s goal kicking is no longer as important to the team as it was in 2013. Therefore, the Lions have the luxury of being able to pick one of two brilliant counter-attacking players: Hogg or Williams. I would potentially find a place for Halfpenny on the wing, but he would ultimately travel as a back-up player unless his form on the tour demanded test match selection. Rob Kearney is still an excellent player, but given the competition in his position he would just miss out on this occasion. Mike Brown in also a good player, but for reasons outlined in a previous story, he wouldn’t make the cut. I would also consider Alex Goode as being in with a shot, but ultimately another player who would just miss out.

  • Predicted: Stuart Hogg, Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny.
  • In with a shot: Rob Kearney.
  • Wildcard: Stuart Olding.

So there you go, at this moment these are the players who will be making the trip to New Zealand with the Lions next summer:

Forwards: Dylan Hartley, Jamie George, Scott Baldwin; Dan Cole, WP Nel, Samson Lee, Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Mako Vunipola; Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Jonny Gray; Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, John Hardie, Dan Lydiate, Chris Robshaw; Taulupe Faletau, Billy Vunipola.

Backs: Rhys Webb, Conor Murray, Danny Care; Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell; Jamie Roberts, Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Davies, Mark Bennett; George North, Tommy Seymour, Tommy Bowe, Anthony Watson; Stuart Hogg, Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny.

I will revisit this following the conclusion of this year’s summer tours where others pay have put their hand’s up for selection.

Reducing Immigration Is Not The Answer.

Immigration is good for the economy. This doesn’t seem to be something which you hear very often. What with Nigel Farage’s constant statements of how an ‘Australian-style points system’ would solve all our problems, and Donald Trump’s rhetoric around the dangers of immigration, the positive case for immigration seems to be made ever so rarely. I aim to debunk some of the myths surrounding immigration and reinforce why we should vote to remain a part of the European Union on 23 June, with the unrestricted immigration from EU countries which this brings with it being a good thing for the UK economy, and the country as a whole.

Myth One: immigration causes economic growth stagnation.

It is often said that immigration is bad for the economic. However, this is simply untrue. Basic theoretical economics suggests that immigration in fact increases economic growth.

In order to understand how immigration drives economic growth, only an understanding of very basic economics is required. The basic definition of economic growth is an increase in the output of an economy over a period of time, whilst economic growth can also be defined as an increase in an economy’s productive potential.

As a general rule, most immigrants who come to the UK, come to the UK to work. These people are employed in a variety of roles within the UK economy. It may be that they are working in financial services in the City of London, they may be working as a doctor or nurse in the NHS, or they may be working as a labourer on a construction site.

Growth in an economy’s work force, allows an economy to increase its potential output. When the level of immigration exceeds the level of emigration then this leads to an increase in the workforce. An increase in the workforce means that the economy’s productive potential increases as more workers means more output. Simple, right?

The best way to illustrate this effect is by using a Production Possibility Frontier (PPF) graph. This graph illustrates an economy’s production level of consumer goods and capital goods and how an increase in the workforce can change the level of production.

                                              Production Possibility Frontier.

In this case, the purple curve represents the economy’s output level when only its original workforce is utilised. The yellow line shows how this level of output increases when new workers (in this case immigrant labour) are utilised and begin to contribute to the economy’s level of output.

As shown here, immigration is clearly a key driver of economic growth. As previously mentioned economic growth is effectively an increase in the production capacity of the economy. An increase in the workforce as a result of immigration is clearly something which achieves this. In fact, it is often said that the government would not get close to its economic growth targets if it were to meet its immigration targets.

Therefore, immigration clearly does not cause stagnation in economic growth. It is in fact extremely positive for economic growth.

Myth Two: immigrants are a drain on our public services.

It is regularly stated by campaigners for lower immigration that immigrants are a drain on our public services. In terms of the economic impact of immigration upon public services it is healthcare and education which are the most relevant public services to consider. It is often suggested that immigrants take advantage of the NHS and the UK’s state education system, whilst also claiming state benefits and therefore not paying tax. This would suggest that immigrants are a drain on our public services. It is often low-skilled immigrants from European Union countries who are particularly tarred with the brush of being a drain on public services.

However, studies have actually suggested that the opposite is true. In actual fact, immigrants are net contributors to the government’s finances. A studyby Christian Dustmann of University College London and Tommaso Frattini of the University of Milan into the impact of immigration on the provision of public services found that between 1995 and 2011, EU immigrants made a positive contribution of almost £4 billion. This can be contrasted with a negative contribution of £591 billion by native Britons. From these statistics it seems clear who is the real drain on public services.

As well as their net contribution to the public purse, it was also found that European immigrants were significantly less likely than native Britons to claim state benefits (eight percent less likely) and, less likely to live in social housing (three percent less likely). Therefore, from this standpoint as well, European immigrants are less of drain on public services than native Britons.

The effect on the provision of services such as healthcare should also be considered. Whilst it is true that an influx of immigrants means that there are a greater number of people for whom healthcare must be provided which makes healthcare more expensive, it is not as simple as this. Most immigrants pay tax and therefore pay into the UK’s healthcare system just as any native British taxpayer does. In addition, it has been found that there is a high likelihood that immigrants will return to their homeland following retirement. This means that the NHS does not bear the high cost of providing healthcare to many immigrants in old age. Therefore, for these two reasons, to suggest that healthcare is more expensive as a result of immigration, is clearly wrong.

It tends to be argued that immigrants lead to longer waiting times at hospitals and a less competent health service as a result. In actual fact the opposite has been found to be true. In a 2015 study by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, it was found that there was actually a correlation between increased immigration and lower waiting times. In Nottingham and Sheffield, cities characterised by high levels of immigration, hospital waiting times were among the lowest in the UK. Contrast this with Dorset and Herefordshire, both of which have very low immigration, where waiting times were around 50 percent longer. Therefore, the common perception that immigration increases waiting times at hospitals is clearly a myth.

Finally, without immigration, the NHS would not be properly staffed. More than a third of the doctors in the UK were trained abroad, and the same is true of many of the nurses working in the UK. If we were to significantly reduce immigration then the NHS would not have enough trained medical staff to operate properly. Of course most of those who support a radical reduction in immigration will answer that the solution is simple — train more doctors and nurses! However, it is hard to see how the UK will suddenly, magically be able to increase the number of medical staff that we train. Successive governments have failed to train a sufficient numbers of doctors and nurses, and it is hard to see how this will change in the short to medium term. Therefore, immigration is necessary in order to keep the NHS running to a high standard.

It seems clear that immigrants are not the drain on our public services that they are often made out to be. Therefore, we should not be using this as an excuse to reduce immigration.

Myth Three: immigrants drive down wages.

Basic economics would suggest that an increase in the workforce (in this case caused by immigration) would lead to a fall in average wages. This would mean an increase in the labour supply leading to a fall in the demand for labour, which would in turn lead to a fall in wages. This would look something like this:

                                                       The Theory.

In theory an increase in the labour supply leads to wage depression. As shown on this graph, the labour supply increases which causes a fall in demand for labour as previously available jobs are filled. This fall in demand for labour subsequently leads to wage depression.

However, this simple explanation fails to take into account the developed and dynamic nature of the UK’s economy. When immigrants come to the UK they increase the level of demand in the UK for a number of goods and services. This increase in demand for goods also leads to an increase in demand for labour through the creation of new jobs, which means that the wage level remains relatively unchanged. What actually happens looks something like this:

                                              What actually happens.

This graph shows how an increase in the labour supply leads to a subsequent increase in demand for labour, which keeps theoretically keeps wages at a stable level. Of course, this theory remains vulnerable to external shocks which can cause a wage decrease for the whole workforce as occurred as result of the recession. However, this is not something which is caused by immigration.

Therefore, immigration is not actually the most significant cause of wage depression.

Myth Four: immigrants caused the housing crisis.

A common theme throughout the immigration debate and the debate around the UK’s continued membership of the European Union has been the perception that immigrants caused the housing crisis. This stems from the view that the increased demand for housing from immigrants has caused the housing shortage that the UK faces today. This suggests that the problem is one of demand for housing being too high. However, this is fundamentally wrong. The problem is in fact, one of supply.

In 2004, the Barker Review of Housing Supply suggested that a quarter of a million homes needed to be built each year in order to guard against spiralling house prices and a shortage of homes. In 2007, this led to the UK government setting a target of building 240,000 homes a year until 2016. This target has not been met in any year since then, with the most successful housebuilding year being the 219,000 that were built in the year 2006–07. This lack of housing supply has been exacerbated significantly due the dramatic drop in new build property caused by the financial crisis. It is this legacy of the failure to build a suitable number of affordable homes that is hitting home now. It would be wrong to say that immigrants have no effect on the demand for homes, but their effect is negligible at best. This shortage in housing supply is likely to be exacerbated still further by the government’s extension of the ‘right to buy’ scheme which was announced in the Conservatives 2015 General Election manifesto. For right to buy to work properly the government must replace the social housing sold by building the same number of new houses. However, this does not happen. For example, government statistics show that 11,000 council houses in Cambridgeshire have been sold since 1980 under right to buy. Over this same timeframe, only 2,750 council houses have been built to replace them. The same is true all over the country.

Ultimately, the housing crisis is a problem of supply rather than demand. Immigrants are not responsible for the long-term failure to build a sufficient number of houses.

In addition, if immigration falls then the construction industry will be significantly harmed. All over the world the construction industry has always relied upon migrant labour, and the UK is no different. In the UK there are not enough Britons who are trained in construction, meaning that immigrant labour is required in order to fill the gap. Whatever your view on the causes of the housing crisis, there can be little argument that a strong construction industry will be vital to alleviating the problems with housing in this country. If immigration was capped, then the construction industry would be severely damaged and we may never properly recover from the housing crisis.

In summary, immigrants were clearly not responsible for the housing crisis and are in fact key to solving it.

Conclusion.

There are many myths surrounding immigration, and immigrants from the European Union are routinely vilified as having a negative impact upon the UK economy and the country as a whole. However, this is not the case.

I hope that this article has succeeding in debunking some of the myths which surround the effect of European Union immigration to the UK, whilst also making the positive case for immigration.

Professional Boxers at the Olympics: A Terrible Idea.

Yesterday the International Boxing Assocation (AIBA) announced that they had voted in favour of allowing professional boxers to compete in this year’s Rio Olympics. The AIBA will make 26 places available at a qualifying event set to take place next year in Venezuela.

The move has been welcomed by some professional boxers, most notably Amir Khan who has mooted the possibility of representing Pakistan in Rio. However, on the whole the move has been criticised by boxers, with Carl Frampton, David Haye, and Ricky Hatton all reacting negatively to the decision, and rightly so.

It is not that the move is especially dangerous, as has been suggested by some. In short four round bouts, wearing softer amateur gloves, the move is unlikely to be anymore danger than is already present in boxing. Indeed, it has been suggested by the likes of Carl Froch and Mike Tyson that it would be no surprise to see the best amateurs beat professionals that take part in the competition.

The issue with this decision is that it harms the Olympics. The tradition of the Olympics has been one of the Olympics being the most prestigious event that the athletes taking part have been able to win at this point in their careers. For track and field athletes, swimmers, track cyclists, and rowers this is absolutely the case. Although there are clearly football tournaments which players would consider more prestigious, at least steps have been taken which limit the number of players in each squad who are over the age of 23 to just three. However, with boxing there is little chance that professionals who have already become world champion at professional level will consider an Olympic medal as being prestigious. There is a similar problem with the inclusion of golf in the Olympic Games. It seems exceedingly unlikely that golfers will consider the Olympic title to be on a par with or a higher honour than The Open, The Masters, and The Ryder Cup. For these reasons, golf should also not have been given a place in the Olympic Games. In the London 2012 Olympic Games, Anthony Joshua won the Heavyweight Gold Medal. Joshua has subsequently become IBF professional champion. If Joshua were to take part in this year’s Olympics (which is rather unlikely), and were to defend his title, then it seems unlikely that the gold medal would mean as much to him as the one he won in 2012. This would be in contrast to the amateur boxers who have been training for four years for the chance to compete in the Olympics and will regard it as the highlight of their careers so far. For these athletes winning an Olympic medal will be a pinnacle in their careers and will mean what winning an Olympic medal should mean.

Ultimately, this decision by the AIBA undermines the integrity of the Olympics. The Olympics is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sports which are included in the games, and this decision threatens this. Therefore, the AIBA should reverse their decision before it is too late. Failing this, the IOC should get involved and stop this terrible idea from progressing any further.