If I were Dominic Cummings (and there’s a thought) I’d be deploying the acronym TTIP as a major part of the LEAVE campaign. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership is a very boring sounding free trade agreement between the US and the EU. From what I know about it, it scares the shit out of me. I have always suspected it was a bad thing, but now we have the proof. If it were just a free trade agreement everyone would support it, but it goes far beyond the realms of free trade. Until this week we only suspected what its contents were. Its drafting was so secret that the European Commission banned any knowledge of the negotiations. Anyone who revealed the contents were threatened with criminal proceedings. This week a draft of the agreement was leaked to Greenpeace and it makes for pretty horrifying reading. One of the main aims of TTIP is the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits. In effect it means unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments. For example, if the British government introduce an environmental tax on fracking which affects the profit of a US mining company, they can sue for loss of profits. Totally outrageous. It also forces public sector organisations like the NHS to effectively open up all their services to privatisation. Now that may be a good idea, but it is our government that should decide to do this, not TTIP. US manufactured GM food products will be forced on EU countries who currently ban them. I could go on. It’s an issue which even many Europhiles are uncomfortable with. In essence it’s an affront to democracy. There is some debate about wether national governments have a veto over its final draft. Some say it is subject to Qualified Majority Voting. In my opinion it’s so important there should be a referendum on it in each of the 28 countries.
On Wednesday I interviewed TTIP enthusiast Mike Gapes MP and War on Want’s John Hillary. You might be interested in listening to the discussion.
All anyone seems to want to talk to me about nowadays is who I think will be the next Tory leader. Whenever anyone asks the question I inwardly sigh. It’s an impossible question to answer in any meaningful way, mainly because there isn’t actually a vacancy. If there is one on June 24th then it’s clear that Boris Johnson will be in the driving seat. The niggling doubt in his mind, though, is that he might not be able to convince enough of his fellow MPs to vote for him to reach the final two. Like Theresa May he has very few devoted followers and acolytes. Off the top of my head James Cleverly, Ben Wallace and Nadine Dorries are the only three MPs who I have heard being Boris enthusiasts. I am sure there are others, but would they number more than a dozen? But if he gets into the final two, I suspect party members would give him a bigger majority than David Cameron achieved (66-33) against David Davis. The task for people like me is to identify who the outsider candidates might be. Sajid Javid was a good bet up until the moment he inexplicably declared himself to be a supporter of REMAIN. Greater love hath a Cabinet Minister than he lay down his career for beliefs he doth not possess. It’s a funny old world. Nicky Morgan has made clear she wants to stand, but the policy of forced academisation has done her no good among a range of Tory backbenchers. Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt are four leading female contenders. Indeed, it’s possible there may be more female candidates than male. Anna Soubry has impressed me of late, with some very deft handling of the steel crisis, but would Tory MPs vote for the woman who is possibly the most vocal advocate of Europhilia? My money remains on Michael Gove, who last week topped the ConHome next leader poll. Michael protests he isn’t qualified for the job and wouldn’t want it. Funnily enough I have never heard Mrs Gove back him up on that one. Someone should place a recording device under their respective pillows. I suspect the results would be very revealing. [Get your minds out of the gutter please].
So Donald Trump has more or less secured the Republican nomination. Shows how much I know. Can the Republican Party unite around him? Judging from the comments of many Republican commentator and strategists it is doubtful. Most of my republican supporting friends will be holding their noses and voting for Hillary. However, that might not be enough to stop Donald Trump. If he can appeal to people who haven’t voted for years and really burnish his anti-establishment credentials, he could still do it. I wonder whether we in this country have fallen for the same trick that we fell for when many people (not including me, I should say) thought that no way could the Americans vote for that stupid George Bush. We constantly misunderestimated George W Bush and I suspect that we (me included) are now repeating the trick with The Donald.