Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor-Gooby Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor-Gooby Columnist

Article excerpt

IRSTLY a Happy New Year.

FPolitically it is going to be an eventful one.

I will not try to call the next election, but what I am worried about is that deals with small parties and a minority government may bring about some bad consequences for our country.

I do not think David Cameron really wants a referendum about Europe because he knows that basically Britain needs to be in Europe. He has been bounced into promising one by sections of his own party and a perceived threat from Ukip.

So he could end up saddled with a result he doesn't want, which would make life very diffi-cult for him. I am not too bothered about that but what I am bothered about is the effect for the country and the North East in particular.

Most people appreciate that being in the EU is economically beneficial for the North East. Nissan would probably leave if we left the EU. If we left and Scotland opted to join, some businesses could go north of the border. This area has also received considerable grant aid from Europe.

So why the support for Ukip in this area? I do not think their support comes from economic arguments (Mr Farage is usually vague on the subject) but from concerns about immigration. These worries tend to be cultural as much as economic.

Recent events in France have inflamed concerns about extremists. In Germany there have been large demonstrations organised by the Pegida movement, against supposed "Islamification". Often these concerns are expressed in areas where there are no Muslims or recent immigrants, but it is there.

These cultural minorities have nothing to do with the EU. Muslims in France came from French North Africa, and many Turks were encouraged to migrate to Germany in the fifties and sixties to help a growing economy.

I do not think these countries have integrated their ethnic minorities very well. The minorities are still much worse off economically than the majority white population. We seem to have been much better at it in this country.

Ukip, thankfully, is not a racist party, despite having some rather odd members. It plays on concerns about migration from the EU, and these need to be addressed. …

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