A cautious Eurosceptic Welcome for Mrs May's Agreement

The completion of the first stage of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union was bound to cause controversy.  The nature of such a process was that compromises will be made. The question for those of us who want to leave is whether we can accept them. Are they compatible with regaining control, the central argument of the Leave campaign.  I have been deliberately slow to come to a conclusion because there is inevitably noise and spin around the fifteen page document that has been issued as well as differences of interpretation from the participants.  Each of the three areas is important and to some extent interlinking, so it is worth looking at them in turn.

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How to save a Union

The situation in Catalonia has become troubling. The Spanish Government’s decision to suspend local autonomy and the response by the Catalonian Parliament to declare independence must be frightening for people living in a country that had a Civil War in the 20th Century. In these tense circumstances there is little that a British politician can say other than to hope that the two sides will be able to come together peacefully. It would be wrong to presume to offer solutions to so complex and sensitive a situation but it is interesting to consider how the United Kingdom avoided the same level of angst over its own separatist difficulty.

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Work Must Pay: The Principle Behind Universal Credit

The principle behind the Universal Credit is simple. Its intention is to make work pay and to ensure that the transition to employment from unemployment is as smooth as possible. As it replaces six existing benefits, it will ultimately be an easier system to use. Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will all come into one payment. One of its main advantages is that it is withdrawn at a slower rate for those moving from unemployment to work, as of the last Budget at 63%, so that any form of work will make a claimant better off because for every pound earned thirty eight pence will be kept rather than being wiped out by the loss of benefits. It also mimics employment. Those who have salaries do not receive different payments from their employers for their housing costs, nor are there bills paid directly. Most firms pay monthly rather than weekly or fortnightly and do so directly into a bank account.

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