The First Cabinet Minister For BreXit
Greg Lance – Watkins
John Whittingdale: The First Cabinet Minister for Brexit
Say what you like about John Whittingdale – the man’s got guts. I served with both John and Tom Watson on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and believe that each man would have been as amused as the other if told then that one of them would wind up in the Cabinet, and the other as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Cameron might have repented of his generosity when Whittingdale became the first Cabinet minister to lend his weight to Brexit. Before Boris, even before Gove, or Priti Patel, or Theresa Villiers, John Whittingdale, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, was the first to come out in favour of leaving the EU if the deal wasn’t good enough. He spoke to me exclusively yesterday to discuss the Leave campaign’s official launch.
Louise Mensch: It can’t have been a tremendously popular decision at number 10. What motivated you to be the first to break ranks on Brexit?
John Whittingdale: I didn’t break ranks. I hoped very much that the Prime Minister would get a deal which meant a significant change to our relationship in Europe.
LM: Were you surprised, as I was, by the paucity of the deal that the Prime Minister brought back from Brussels?
JW: What he set out to achieve represented really only a minor change, and he didn’t even get what he asked for. He got less than he’d asked for – and what he asked for was nothing at all like the kind of change that I would’ve wanted to see, to support staying in.
LM: It makes a mockery of the idea that if we stay in Europe, we’re going to have tons of influence.
JW: It’s interesting that the Prime Minister’s deal is not something that anybody is really talking about, very much, because it’s recognized this doesn’t really represent any significant change. As soon as you say it doesn’t require a treaty change, that in itself tells you that it’s not really a very big deal. The EU will go on behaving in the way it has to date- pressing for ever-closer integration.
JW: In so many areas, we already lost the power of veto. One of the reasons why I supported leaving is that I see almost every day, things coming up where we’re told either you can’t do that because it’s in breach of European law or you’ve got to do that, even though you know it’s not in the interest of this country, because it’s the European directive. We oppose things in the Council. We lose and then we have to implement them, because that’s the European law.
LM: We’ve lost 79 of 79 contested votes.
JW: We’re always told we’ve got to stay in because you’ve got to have a seat around the table. All one can say is that the record today doesn’t seem to demonstrate that we have much influence.
LM: With your hat on as Secretary of State for Sport … what do you make of the scaremongering that we wouldn’t be able to compete in the Champion’s League – we wouldn’t get any foreign footballers?
JW: (laughs) It’s ludicrous scaremongering that some people have been putting around. UEFA is not run by the European Union, thank goodness, and there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t compete. In terms of getting footballers, in actual fact, the EU prevents us from being able to choose footballers from anywhere in the world because they put limits on the numbers. If we have full control of our immigration policy, then we can allow in any players we want.
LM: We’d be more likely to have a few Pelés on the team if we Brexit rather than being stuck with the Klinsmanns?
JW: If that’s what the club wants to do! We have control over our own borders and therefore, we can determine who we want to welcome here or where we want to say that people don’t have the right to come. It will be back in our hands.
LM: Do you think film-making could be affected by Brexiting out of the EU?
JW: Particularly in the filmmaking, and indeed a lot of creative industries, the greatest advantage this country has is the English language. Films, music, generally are in English. Also, we have extraordinary talent in this country and skills, and we’ve put in place tax incentives to attract filmmakers, and we are the most successful nation in the world in that respect.
Now almost every major film is made, or at least part made, in the UK. None of that has anything to do with the European Union. Whether or not we’re in the European Union, I don’t believe would have any impact.
LM: Are there any regulations that you know of that limit the amount of tax incentives we can offer in the movie business?
JW: I’ll give you one example. When we originally put in place the film tax credit, there had to be a cultural test, which determined whether or not a film was British or European. Originally, we proposed various measures and we were then told by the European Union that that was unacceptable and that we had to rewrite it to stress “European themes and content”.
Every time the government wants to support a domestic industry, it has to get permission to do so under the so-called State Aid Rules. If we wanted to support the steel industry at the moment, we would have to get permission to do that.
LM: Obviously, as a former MP for Corby, my blood boils when I see the EU trying to prevent us from taking measures to save our steel industry and the manufacturing jobs which have been part of my former constituency. I see Tom Pursglove, my current MP, is fighting it very hard.
JW: It may be, in some areas, we decide we don’t want to subsidize or there’s not a case, but it should be our decision. What upsets me is that something which is a pretty important decision for a government to take, the government does not have the freedom to act in the best interest of the country, because it has to abide by the rules of the European Union.
LM: Let’s discuss the decision by Angela Merkel to allow the prosecution of a comic who satirized the obnoxious Prime Minister of Turkey. That seems to be almost literally incredible. What’s your view, as a minister for culture?
JW: Obviously, I genuinely believe in free speech within the law. I don’t like the idea of satirical magazines being prosecuted.
LM: In this case, it’s not really the magazine being prosecuted, it’s the comic and he can face up to three years in jail.
JW: I share your unhappiness at the idea.
To view the original article CLICK HERE
In Part Two of ‘Heat St.‘ John Whittingdale interview, the minister covers the BBC and complaints of bias; the post-Brexit political landscape; Boris Johnson and the other leadership contenders battling to shape our referendum – and the future.
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With an avg. 1.2M voters per MEP & Britain having only 8%, if united, say. The EUropean Parliament has no ability to make policy and has a Commission of unelected bureaucrats, thus clearly the EU is not even a pretence of being a democracy; yet The EU & many of its vassal States are willing to slaughter people in Sovereign States to impose The EU’s chosen brand of democracy on them!
The imposition of a Government and policies upon its vassal regions such as the peoples of Greece shows just how far from being a democracy the EU is.
There will be little or no change in Britain’s economic position, when we leave the EU, using a better negotiated & updated version of the ‘Norway Model’ as a stepping stone to becoming a full member of the Eropean Economic Area, where all will benefit, as we secure trade relations with the EU’s vassal regions, with an EFTA style status and can trade and negotiate independently on the global stage, as members of The Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.One huge benefit will be that we can negotiate with bodies like the WTO, UN, WHO, IMF, CODEX and the like, directly in our own interest and that of our partners around the world in both the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere at large; rather than having negotiations and term imposed by unelected EU bureacrats and their ionterpretation of the rules handed down as if they were some great achievement by the EU.The greatest change and benefit will be political, as we improve our democracy and self determination, with the ability to deselect and elect our own Government, with an improved Westminster structure, see >Harrogate Agenda<.
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