This week’s Newsletter is the first in a series aimed at provoking discussion on the issues and news of the day. Hot topics this week are:
The Hinkley reactor
The economy, scaremongering and good omens.
The EU appointment of the EU’s chief negotiator.
The Labour Party’s latest leadership contest, which comes less than a year after the last, pits the uninspiring Owen Smith, the preferred candidate of Labour’s? MPs against incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn, the darling of the membership. The members decide who wins so it’s Corbyn who stands as the book
?makers’? favourite, Smith ?is judged to ?only ha?ve a 15% chance of winning.
A ridiculous political civil war is playing out before a public whose views appear to count for absolutely nothing. 90% of Labour Members want to remain in the EU, an even higher proportion of MPs agree with them, yet Labour heartlands in the Midlands, in the North, and in Wales all voted overwhelmingly to Leave. This is astonishing if you consider that we are still in the aftermath of a once-in-a-generation referendum, the result of which totally defied the? Establishment’s wishes. When is the Labour going to wake up and realise the most pressing issue is to make government more representative? Instead, they seem determined to make it less.
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Hinkley Point C – A Mess
Start with an unproven technology within an extremely dangerous method of power production. Add a price per watt double the current wholesale price that has been? guaranteed by the British Government, incorporate other severe concerns such as the size of the project – at £18-36bn, it is described ?”?the most expensive object on earth?”? – and the fact that it is being built by a company (EDF) on the brink of financial collapse and being financed by a country (China) with an unscrupulous foreign policy agenda and you have a mess of epically worrying proportions.
On Thursday, the Government issued the latest in a long string of delays to the sanctioning of a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Time to face the reality, this project is too ambitious, too expensive and too risky. Better for the government to call its losses before they become too big for the project to be allowed to fail.
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Look at those companies blaming downsizing and pinched profits on Brexit and you will see some unsettling scaremongering at play (will the Remainers not accept defeat?). Lloyds is cutting back on staff, a decision made before Brexit; London estate agents are attributing dives in profits to the referendum result, even though the higher stamp and a higher supply of properties are really to blame; and Rolls Royce ?has lost £2bn as a result of a hedge it made in the currency markets as the pound devalued.
OK, Brexit caused the pound to budge, but we, and especially RR should be thankful. The Pound has been overvalued for far too long. Rolls Royce is a net exporter, it will benefit more than most from a weaker pound.
Meanwhile, every single day another major company decides to set up or expand here in the UK. This week, GlaxoSmithKline invested £275m to enlarge its manufacturing base across the country.
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The European Commission’s New Negotiator
Round two of the UK-EU negotiations, except this time, no-one (we hope) is talking about membership. The European Commission has appointed a career politician turned EU Commissioner, and a Anglophobe, Michel Barnier to lead the EU’s side of the negotiations.
Barnier is held in high esteem in Brussels and Berlin. His appointment tells us the EU is finally taking Britain more seriously. The new negotiator in chief is a skilled talker, albeit in French not English, but there’s not much he can be expected to achieve with such a weak hand.