Now it's squeaky rail franchise finger up the bum time
How could he grab the megaphone back from the Labour Party? This looked difficult, especially as the Kippers’ policies do not overlap significantly with Labour’s, but when Corbyn made a firm commitment to talking rail franchises back into public ownership as and when they expire, Mr Thirsty saw his moment. He knew all about railways. And he knew that the rotten EU passed things called directives on the subject.
And so it came to pass that the UKIP Twitter feed told “Sorry Jeremy . . . the EU won't let us renationalise our railways!” This was backed up with an article by the party’s transport spokesman Jill Seymour, “who sits on the Transport committee in Brussels”. She says “Ever since the First Railway Directive back in 1998, the EU has dictated that all member states must provide competition and allow independent companies to apply for non-discriminatory track access”. And she is plain flat wrong.
Member states must provide for competition, which is not the same thing at all. And franchised operators are operating services specified by the Government, using trains allocated by the Government. That same Government can award franchises to a company owned and run by itself - and on two past occasions in the UK, it has done just that.
So when Farage blusters “Sorry @jeremycorbyn but it would be illegal under EU law to renationalise the railways due to European Union directive 2012/34/EU … Can @jeremycorbyn answer how he intends to overrule EU law to renationalise the railways whilst advocating that we remain in? … Come on @jeremycorbyn, be honest. You can't renationalise the railways inside the EU”, he is also plain flat wrong.
When National Express handed back the keys for the East Coast franchise in 2009, the then Labour Government mobilised a subsidiary called Directly Operated Railways, which ran the franchise until earlier this year. Government can also step in before any default, as they did in 2003 with Connex South Eastern, forcibly taking the franchise away and running it through a publicly owned company.
While Mr Thirsty wibbles “Railways another example of an issue where the EU decides rather than Westminster. Let's leave and run our own country”, he’s talking out of the back of his neck. What Corbyn has proposed is allowable under EU rules and directives - otherwise, how would all those state owned railway operators in other member states have survived? This is another example of why UKIP are fast becoming an irrelevance.