May 2nd, 2016


Monday morning and I'm on the train to London for another week at Westminster.  On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper. This week I discuss President Obama's intervention in the EU referendum campaign.

Nicholas Macpherson
Photo: The National

George Kerevan: Obama’s EU intervention is a sign not only of concern about Brexit but a realisation the US is not the power it was.

DESPITE appearances, President Obama’s valedictory intervention in the EU referendum debate is a sign of America’s weakness rather than Uncle Sam bossing about its British satellite.

Such is America’s global decline – in economics, political reach and even military effectiveness – the US really is desperate for the EU to help fill the political vacuum. Which is why the Brits have to get with the programme.

America needs the EU as an ally because the era when Western capitalism – essentially Europe and its North American outstation – could effortlessly dominate the rest of the globe has now ended.

With the fall of communism, China has become a major capitalist power in its own right (albeit with a heavy dose of state intervention).

George Kerevan and Alan Bell
On Monday, I met with the Governor of the Bank of England to discuss the recent Bill passed in the Commons, which aims at reforming the three century-old institution. We also talked about the current state of the UK economy and the upcoming EU referendum.

Following my visit at the Bank I went back to the Chamber where the Government's contentious Immigration Bill was going through its Third Reading. At the end of the debate I voted against the Government's motion rejecting the "Dubs Amendment"which had been passed in the House of Lords on March 20th. 

The Government's motion was passed by a small majority and the amendment to allow 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children to come to the UK from Europe was defeated. This is a black day for human rights.


On Tuesday morning, at the regular meeting of the Treasury Select Committee, we called in John Griffith-Jones and Tracey McDermott, Chairman and CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority respectively, to discuss its Annual Report.  I feel the FCA is failing in its duty to protect consumers and this was the jist of my questions.

Later on Tuesday I met with Adrian Jenner, Head of the National Audit Office parliamentary team, to discuss the way they operate and interact with Members of Parliament.

I recently wrote to the Comptroller and Auditor General to ask him some questions about the financial risks related to the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant project.

At the end of the day, I went to the the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church to take part in a Stop the War panel discussion on the theme of the UK and Western's military intervention in Libya.  


First thing on my schedule on Wednesday was a Westminster Hall debate on Violence against Women and Girls and Sustainable Development Goals.

Following the debate, I was interviewed by the deputy editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, a French monthly newspaper. We discussed the EU referendum campaign in Scotland and the possible impact of the result on Scottish politics. I also took the opportunity to ask about the current political environment in France.

In the afternoon, at the Treasury Select Committee, we quizzed Richard Tice and Arron Banks from the Leave.EU campaign.

After the meeting of the Treasury Select Committee I went to the Chamber to vote against the Government's proposals during the third reading of the Trade Union Bill, as they will have a detrimental  effect on Scotland.



Thursday's East Lothian Courier featured my weekly article.
I came home early this week to speak at a business breakfast organised by The Spectator magazine at the Doubletree Hilton in Edinburgh, and chaired by their business editor, Martin Vander Weyer. The topic was Selling Scotland to Europe: Opportunities Ahead, and here I am, in full flow, alongside Gordon Dewar, CEO of Edinburgh Airport, Vicky Brock, CEO of Clear Returns, and Eben Wilson of Taxpayer Scotland.
Then I went on to North Berwick High School to talk to S4 and Higher students about the life and work of an MP. In a few weeks' time 56 of their students are visiting Parliament for the day, so it was good to see round the Modern Studies department in advance. And as usual, they asked me some tough questions.


Constituency correspondence in the morning, then meetings with constituents and a visit to East Lothian Council's CCTV centre in Macmerry. I had not realised that cameras could be used to check on sick and disabled people as well as vandals, criminals and speeding motorists. There are very few constituencies in Scotland which have the technical support that East Lothian possesses. We are very well looked after here.

My day ended with the showing of Boom, Bust, Boom, a satirical film by Terry Jones, one of the Pythons, at the Corn Exchange in Haddington. Positive Money and Common Weal East Lothian had organised a seven-venue tour to provide a platform for debate about the fundamental changes which are needed to give us a more stable and democratic banking system. This was the final showing, and I spoke afterwards alongside Victoria Waldersee of the student-led group, Rethinking Economics.


The last day of the month was one of celebration. I was delighted to be invited by the Muirpark and Steading View Tenants and Residents Association to the official opening of APOGI park in Tranent, truly A Place Of Great Importance. The sun shone and the band played while we all admired David F. Wilson's splendid gateway and searched for our tallies, which record where our contributions have been placed. My collection of stones from the Acropolis, the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum and the Palace of Knossos on Crete are no.108, and I shall think of them every time I pass. Congratulations to Liz Hutcheson and everyone involved in the project.

Now on to the next stage, the bronze ox to record another piece of Tranent's fascinating history.
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