Jean-Claude Junker, Daniel Hannan, and Theresa May

Daniel Hannan, the conservative MEP, has an article in last Tuesday’s Sun, which I’ve only just seen: “Only hated Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker is stopping a quick deal to leave the EU” (I don’t like that “hated”, by the way; it’ll have been chosen by a sub-editor at the Sun and not written by Daniel Hannan. I don’t hate Jean-Claude Junker and I’m sure Daniel Hannan doesn’t either.)

Daniel Hannan argues that the behaviour of M. Junker, the President of the European Commission, is making Brexit negotiations difficult “If a deal is now less likely, it is largely because no British minister will want to have a private conversation with him”. He goes on to point out that Labour and Liberal Democrat parties side with the EU President, quoting Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron.

Daniel Hannan is a respected MEP, well informed about the failings of the EU, and was a prominent campaigner for Vote Leave. He is surely an asset to the Conservative Party, and would be even more of an asset were he in Parliament. So it’s disturbing to read, for example in the Express (Top Brexiteer MEPs ‘set to lose out on safe Westminster seats at General Election’) that his proposed candidature in Aldershot has been blocked by Conservative Central HQ.

Conservative candidates in this election are describing themselves as “Theresa May’s candidate in [insert name of constituency here]”. Daniel Hannan isn’t one of them; neither is his fellow Brexit supporter David Campbell-Bannerman. I’m afraid I think that tells us something about Theresa May’s priorities – about which more later.


My first live radio broadcast…

… was rather fun. Listen to it on Radio Lancashire – the Gary Hickson show.

The “pop up living room” was on the flag market all day; passers by were invited to tell the Radio Lancashire team what they (the passers by) thought were the most pressing issues for Prestonians in this year’s general election. Three questions were put to the Preston candidates: on homelessness, “hate crime”, and immigration. Our section starts 11 minutes in, and lasts about 25 minutes.

Thank you Mike Stevens and the Radio Lancashire team. They’ll be taking their pop-up living room to all 16 constituencies in the Radio Lancashire area between now and the election.

British universities have a bright future after Brexit

John Redwood’s diary is a thought provoking blog. Today’s post, Some reality breaks out in the EU, is a case in point, this section:

Meanwhile I see the Evening Standard on line gives prominence to the fear that university research will be damaged by Brexit. Have they not heard Ministers stating clearly talented and well qualified people will be free to come to the UK. This will include faculty members, with an open door for foreign students to undertake courses at our universities.

prompting a reply from me, as follows:

There’s a lot of rubbish talked about EU membership and British universities.

Until recently I was a university lecturer (including during last year’s referendum campaign in which I participated as a Leave campaigner while my university, including the vice chancellor, was strongly and officially for Remain). At my university there were and still are many foreign students and many foreign members of staff. The very great majority of these were from outside the EU, especially from China and the middle east. Some of those from EU countries came to Britain before their home countries entered the EU. All came on the relevant visas. I only remember one case where immigration processes caused difficulty – a new member of staff from an African country was delayed in taking up his post because of the time it took to issue a visa. But none of this is affected by Brexit.

In respect of international research projects, notably those funded through EU programmes such as Horizon 2020, I often heard that British universities got more out of the EU science programmes than they put in (we’re pretending, here, of course, that money is not fungible). My response to that was that British universities did well out of these programmes for two reasons, reasons not affected by Brexit: first, their expertise – many British universities are world-beating; secondly, the English language – the international language of science gives Britain a natural advantage. These factors are not going away with Brexit, and if universities from the residual EU wish to collaborate with British universities, to gain the benefit of their expertise, they will still be able to do so, including in programmes such as Horizon 2020 and likely successors (many non-EU countries participate in Horizon 2020). Of course, it is conceivable that the residual EU will exclude the UK from future programmes for political reasons, but I doubt that would happen and, if it were to come to pass, we’d be back at the old question of whether we really want to be in a club that seeks to punish us for leaving.

Universities are notoriously risk averse. During the referendum campaign it was no surprise to me that university managers were afraid of change. (I don’t mean just my own former university, but universities all over the country – all of them, I think.) But they will do very well outside the EU, when Britain is once again standing on its own two feet.

Labour’s shambolic policing plan

A few days ago, in the wake of the the Labour party’s announcement of their plan to recruit more policemen,  I wrote to the Daily Telegraph to point out the incompetence of Labour’s financial planning. My letter wasn’t chosen for publication, so here it is:

Dear Sir,

Diane Abbott’s confusion during her LBC radio interview on Labour’s policing proposals is understandable and excusable. We all make mistakes, especially when put on the spot. But both she and Jeremy Corbyn eventually settled on and defended a figure of £300 million as the cost to employ 10,000 police officers. The Labour Party leadership clearly thinks a policeman can be employed for a cost of £30,000 p.a. It appears that the Labour Party’s costings only account for salaries. The Shadow Home Secretary said as much in her interview: “we’re looking at both what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London.” This is spectacularly inept and is not excusable. It is not misspeaking. It is incompetence.

I don’t have the detailed knowledge accurately to estimate the cost of a policeman, but anyone with any experience in business finance or project management, in whatever field, will recognise that direct wage costs are just part of the costs of a business. Policemen do not come cheap: I think that an additional 10,000 policeman would cost a figure much closer to £1,000 million.

Police numbers have been reduced significantly in recent years; I understand by about 20,000 across the country. Prestonians will recognise this phenomenon; we see few policemen on the streets and police stations are closing all over Lancashire. This has happened under Conservative and Conservative/Liberal Democrat governments. UKIP will reverse this decline; our pledge to increase police numbers by 20,000 across the country will be funded from money currently misspent on misguided foreign aid programmes.

My first political interview

This morning I recorded an interview with Mike Stevens of BBC Radio Lancashire. I spoke about my passion for Preston and my belief in a prosperous future for Preston and Britain. There should be a short feature on the Preston candidates on air tomorrow morning at about 8.15.

Tomorrow, Radio Lancashire will be on the Flag Market all day, speaking to Prestonians about what’s important to them in the general election. Pop down to speak to them and let them know. In the evening, from about four o’clock, there will interaction among the candidates on air (live, I think). I’m looking forward to it. Tune in to Radio Lancashire through the day tomorrow.

My promise to Prestonians

If elected as your MP I will:

  1. Put Britain first, Preston second, and UKIP third.
  2. Keep my main home in Preston. I quite like London, but have no wish to live there. I am a Prestonian.
  3. Have my constituency office in an easily accessible part of the town centre, not an out-of-the way place on an industrial estate.
  4. Spend my weekends and other free time in Preston (occasional family holidays and outings excepted).

Simon Platt is the UKIP candidate for Preston in the 2017 general election

As a Proud Prestonian I am delighted and excited to have been chosen to be UKIP’s candidate for Preston in the forthcoming general election. Preston has lacked adequate representation in parliament for many years, and I will change that.

Under Mark Hendrick and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour locally and nationally is committed to undermining the historic decision made last year by a majority of Prestonians and a majority in the country. They seek to remain in the EU Internal Market and Customs Union, preventing Britain from forging its own trade deals and keeping Britain subject to EU regulations and the European Court of Justice. They undermine the UK in our negotiations with our friends and neighbours in the EU. Preston and Britain deserve better. Of the major parties only UKIP is unequivocally committed to independence for the United Kingdom. Voting for me will put pressure on the government to fulfil its promise to respect the wishes of the British people, democratically expressed in the historic referendum of 23 June 2016.

But UKIP policy, and mine, is not just about Brexit. I look forward to communicating those policies to Prestonians over the next month. As your MP my priorities will be supporting families and small businesses, improving education, developing environmental protection and energy policy, strengthening local decision making for example in planning matters, supporting our armed services and the defence industry, and restoring sanity to the UK foreign aid programme. In many of these areas, not least defence and education, Preston in particular has been very badly served by Labour, coalition and Conservative governments for generations. Preston needs a new voice to stand up for its interests and the country’s. That voice is mine.

As your representative in parliament, I promise to put Britain first, Preston second, and UKIP third. Believe in Britain, and vote Platt for Preston.