The Juncker Debacle
The arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker has been approved as the new President of the European Commission, despite bitter opposition from Britain and Hungary. No doubt the Commission HQ in Brussels will now be referred to in Britain as the “Juncker Bunker”.
For Cameron this has been a debacle, a fancy-pants words for screw-up. Not only is he looking isolated in Europe but he has finally buried the idea that the EU can be reformed.
Juncker’s appointment confirms that Germany and the EU have a federalist agenda. There is no prospect of an EFTA-style trading pact that many in Britain want. What is more, the episode has laid bare the extent of German influence in the EU. It is a German Sphere of Influence, nothing more and nothing less.
Those who argue that Britain should remain under the EU yoke are like the appeasers of the 1930s. They want Britain to remain under German domination. We Eurosceptics want our country to break free, and head for the open sea.
Tactically literate Eurosceptics (not everybody!) have welcomed Juncker’s appointment. It’s the best news since Germany’s defeat in the 1966 World Cup. It finally forces people to come off the fence. Either we continue to be crushed under the overwhelming weight of excessive EU regulations and are forced to accept the massive democratic deficit involved in having most of our laws made in Brussels, or we leave. There never was a middle way. Juncker’s appointment is the final proof.
It helps the Good Guys (i.e. the Eurosceptics) that Juncker is a smooth, smug, self-satisfied scumbag, no offense intended. His approval rating in England is only just a bit higher than our community partner Adolf Hitler’s was after the invasion of Poland.
To reassure supporters of the late Führer (of which there seem to be a couple reading my column, to judge from the anti-semitic tone of some of the comments!), I am not suggesting that Juncker is a nicer or warmer person than Adolf Hitler.
One or Two or Nine Too Many Nips of the Peppermint Schnapps
There has been front-page speculation in Britain this week that Juncker is an alcoholic. Comments have been made that the guy has a cognac with breakfast. This is unfair, however. I have no reason to suppose that he drinks more than half a dozen glasses of cognac a day – scarcely an alcoholic, then.
I remember this being said by a friend of mine in GO2 (he was double-hatted with MI6) about a mutual friend in CIA.
‘Jerry’ was trying to drive a wedge between us and it was suggested to me that my CIA friend was an alcoholic and had hit the booze pretty hard. This surprised me, as he enjoyed a drink. One thing alcoholics do not do is enjoy their drink.
When I inquired, it turned out the most the guy – a really fine man, and a great American – had ever drunk was a bottle of Jack Daniels a day. Hardly what you call alcoholism!
My friend had started drinking a bit more than he usually did after a large number of his assets in South Vietnam were tortured and executed after having been betrayed, with Nixon’s agreement, at the Paris Peace Conference.
He had also been on the Phoenix Program. Brilliantly effective, this highly focused program did however impose a mental strain on the CIA officers running it. The CIA are good people, and assassination programs, however necessary, are only ever run with reluctance.
Nixon got his comeuppance for the Paris betrayal by the way, indeed my friend was one of the officers who ran the Watergate operation. Years later, he still chuckled at any mention of E. Howard Hunt. We never actually met up in Washington, but had he suggested we meet up back at the car, I would not have needed to ask which car-park!
The Phantom Argument of 3.3 Million Jobs Lost
In a crackpot speech in Washington in this week, hosted by Johns Hopkins, our idiot Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, a fanatical supporter of EU membership, touted the line that withdrawal would cost the UK 3.3 million jobs.
This is ludicrous nonsense, with respect.It’s an update of the old Treasury lie that withdrawal would cost 3 million jobs.
The lie was based on some research about 12 years ago that suggested that some 3 million worked in jobs which were connected with exports to the EU.
It does not follow that these jobs will be lost when we withdraw, for four reasons:
(1) Import substitution. Since there is a massive deficit in goods with the EU – around $1 billion a week – there will be far more jobs in manufacturing after we leave. For every lost sale in Europe Jaguar will get at least two more in the UK, as European imports are clobbered by the tariff wall. They might even start making Minis with British steel!
(2) Freedom from silly rules. Excessive EU regulations cost British industry at least $80 billion a year. This costs jobs.
(3) The ending of EU labor dumping. Freedom of movement of labor tends to work one way. Europeans come here and take jobs, mostly working class jobs, at least two million of them. British expats in Europe tend to be retirees, i.e. they take their capital and pensions to Europe, contributing to the outflow of sterling.
(4) The ending of the Lisbon ban on stopping capital transfers will allow us to lower corporation tax, and possibly income tax as well. I have seen one figure which suggests that the UK is losing out around $200 billion a year, as corporations simply transfer their earnings out of the UK to be taxed elsewhere. That figure may be high, but there is no doubt that we are losing out, big time.
The UK needs to get out of the EU, fast. Happily the Coalition Government is on the verge of breaking up. Only this week the chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, called for the coalition partners to split.
Classic Movie of the Week: Triple Cross (1966), dir. Terence Young
This is an enjoyable intelligence yarn, based on the story of Eddie Chapman, a German quadruple agent in World War II. In the movie he is portrayed (very well, by Sir Christopher Plummer) as a treble agent.
Officially Chapman was recruited by the Germans in Jersey, where he was serving a prison sentence, then agreed to work with us, i.e. the Good Guys. In the movie his British handler is played, again superbly, by Trevor Howard, one of my favorite actors.
In reality Chapman was already working for the Abwehr when he was sent to prison, for crimes committed with Abwehr connivance. ‘Jerry’ has always been keen to recruit criminals and get involved in organized crime. Of course this doesn’t emerge in the movie, unsurprisingly, since Chapman himself was a consultant!
If you ignore the lack of historical accuracy it is an enjoyable movie to watch. The Germans are not two-dimensional, in particular the Baron, Yul Brunner’s character. Gert Frobe is always funny – in the movie he worries right up to the end about whether Chapman is a double or treble agent. Francis de Wolff, who was in From Russia With Love, does a very good generaloberst.
There are some useful hints for intelligence officers. Always make sure that the side you are pretending to work for isn’t testing you and hasn’t dropped you in a territory under their control before losing the radio! There is a funny scene where Chapman is dropped in France, but thinks he has been dropped in England.
The movie was a Franco-British co-production, never an easy thing to manage. For aviation buffs there is rare footage of piston-engined French kites. I am not very good with my French airplane recognition, but I think the twin-engined transport used is a Potez. I am open to suggestions, however!
The true story of Eddie Chapman would make an even better movie, I suspect!
Sad news this week, with the passing of the great Eli Wallach. He was a fine actor, on both stage and screen, much loved in England. He will always be remembered for The Magnificent Seven, but that was only a small part of his repertoire.
Michael Shrimpton is a barrister, called to the Bar in London 1983. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Michael was formerly an Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies in what was then the Department of National Security, Intelligence and Space Studies at the American Military University.
Michael’s ground-breaking, 700 page intelligence text “Spyhunter: The Secret History of German Intelligence” was published in England by June Press on April 14th 2014.
Editing: Erica P. Wissinger