Let’s say No to a European army

The EU does wish to supplement or even rival NATO, and does wish to work towards a European army, navy and airforce.
In their defence paper in July 2015 they called for “EU owned dual use capabilities and a proposal to explore how capability needs could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union”. They have not got there fully yet, but the direction of travel is clear.
In the meantime The EU has created a naval force in the Mediteranean to pick up economic migrants and asylum seekers exposed to dangers at sea. It also has another naval force tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa.
The EU began by pooling iron and steel manufacture, then the sinews of war. It has moved on to some joint defence procurement, and to the creation of a defence and aerospace industry crossing frontiers to make member states interdependent in the production of weaponry.
The EU has created an EU defence force, with a rapid response army and a common command headquarters. The Eurocorps, called “a force for the EU” has a “permanent operational multinational structure capable of being deployed at very short notice” with up to 65,000 troops. At the core of it is a joint Franco German force. It has seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo and twice in Afghanistan. So far it has usually worked through NATO.
The UK has been wary of this emerging force, but has nonetheless gone along with various collaborative projects, especially with the French. The UK has also joined in various joint weapons and aircraft programmes. UK Ministers often have to argue against further EU involvement or control of military matters. Meanwhile our security is guaranteed by our own forces and by our membership of NATO. It is noteworthy that we belong to Five Eyes, the enduring and successful intelligence gathering and sharing alliance with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand out side the EU.
The UK wishes to avoid the creation of an EU army and navy directly under the control of the EU where member states have no say in whether to participate or not. The NATO alliance is founded on the principle that each member state decides whether to back a NATO military intervention or not, and if so with how many personnel and with how much weaponry and supplies. The EU has a habit of moving from voluntary co-operation to legal requirements in other areas. The UK is keen to avoid a situation where British troops could be put in danger against the wishes of the UK people and Parliament.

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4 parties share a platform to make the case to leave the EU

Some readers of this site will be pleased to know that Conservative, Labour and Democratic Unionist party MPs joined with UKIP MEPs to make common cause this afternoon for leave. BBC cameras and various journalists were present. The conference was entitled “The Good life after Brexit”. The common platform included Liam Fox, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Nigel Farage, Graham Stringer, Ian Paisley and myself.

I am grateful to David Campbell Bannerman MEP for organising the event and giving us such a good introduction to the case for leaving.

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How they misled voters before on the EU

The 1971 White Paper set out the case for the UK to join the European Economic Community. In that document people were left with the firm impression that little would change and the UK would stay in control of her own affairs. The White Paper stated

“Sovereign governments are represented around the table. On a question where a government considers that vital national interests are involved, it is established that the decision should be unanimous. …There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty.”

“The common system rests on original consents, and ultimately on the continuing consents of member states and hence of national Parliaments. The English and Scottish legal systems will remain intact”.

These promises were soon broken. Majority voting was introduced on an ever wider range of issues, removing the UK veto over important policy areas. The English and Scottish legal systems came increasingly under the control of the European Court of Justice. The more EU law there is, the more matters have to be based on that EU law with ultimate appeal to a European court.

It is true the White Paper did say the aim of the EEC was ever closer union, did recognise it would be based on freedom of movement of people, and that the organisation would work towards a common foreign policy and other matters. The White Paper tried to allay fears over this by pointing out the 6 existing member states of the EEC were all relatively prosperous countries with similar high wages to the UK’s, and reminded readers that developments of more centralising policies would be partially fashioned by the UK view.

The document did begin the long standing confusion of power with sovereignty. It stated “Where the members reach common agreement to pool resources and authority, it is done because they consider it is in their interests to do it. At present the Community institutions are purely economic. But if the development of European policies in non economic fields calls for new institutions, then as a member Britain will play a full and equal part in devising whatever additions to the institutional framework are required”.

So was recorded the EU’s future long march to full economic, political and monetary union. So began the long series of rearguard actions by successive UK governments to avoid the transfer of too many powers, or to pretend no power was passing when large powers were being given away.

The British people were never given a vote on the transfer of their powers of self government to the EU. The first referendum was based on these principles, that the Uk could always veto anything it did not like and our own court system common law and much else remained unaffected. The forthcoming referendum is the first time UK people can express a view on their government having to get the agreement of many other EU governments before being allowed to make simple changes to welfare payments, certain taxes, our borders and much else besides.

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We could control our borders outside the EU but not inside it

It was strange to read yesterday that if we leave the EU we could lose the Calais frontier system currently in operation. This border is the result of a bilateral agreement between France and the UK which has nothing to do with the EU. France could unilaterally renounce it at any time. If she did so and we were still in the EU it would make it difficult for us as people arriving in Dover from Calais would have legal protections for their claim to reside and work here from EU law, with European Court making the final decisions. If we were outside the EU then the UK Parliament could introduce new laws like Australia’s to control the numbers.

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The Better Stay in Europe campaign seek more endorsements from past famous people

The Better Stay in Europe enthusiasts are working the Ouija boards hard to tell us how famous celebrities now dead would want to vote in our referendum. We on the leave side prefer to concentrate on the living who have votes and voices so their views are easier to hear and more telling on the day.

Rumour has it that recent attempts at BSE séances have had mixed responses. It is perhaps inevitable that Julius Caesar and Napoleon would both favour us staying in the EU, but BSE are a bit shy about revealing that. More worrying for them would be Elizabeth 1’s stubborn support for leave on the basis that she could never herself countenance the Spanish government having some role in the government of England. Nor did they get very far with Pitt the Elder or the Younger who both thought the UK capable of running its own affairs successfully.

It appears that contacting past celebrities has its dangers. For my part I stick to my view that it is a meaningless question to ask. They were great in their day, but they cannot be brought back to life to express an opinion on modern political controversies.

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You are less powerful if you pool sovereignty

According to supporters of the EU if I pooled my decision making with my neighbours I will be more powerful. Let me show you what nonsense this is.

Let us suppose I joined with 27 of my neighbours to be more powerful. It is true that by combining we would have considerably more income and spending power than I have on my own. If we agreed what we wanted to buy we might qualify for a better discount. The problem is to get the benefit of combined buying I would no longer have a veto on what we bought. I might lose the vote to buy beef for dinner and have to accept the common view of pork. I might want a UK made Honda but have to accept a German made VW to get the benefits of bulk buying.

It would also not be long before the neighbours had a vote on sharing. Anyone with a larger income could be outvoted by those on lower incomes, leading to the few richer neighbours having to pay more in but getting less back. It would be in my interest to earn less than the average to improve my take from the club.

My neighbours might want to extend this to voting. In a low turnout local election 28 votes might matter and would clearly have much more impact than my one vote. To use the power I would have to accept going along with the majority view of 28 and all casting our votes for the same party, even if it was one I did not like.

If a big local planning issue came up 28 people saying the same thing might have more influence than just 1. Again the problem is my view on the plans might be the minority one which got suppressed by the rules of the neighbours club.

Far from being more powerful my neighbours club would soon become a huge nuisance, getting in the way of me spending my money, using my vote and expressing my view as I see fit.

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Margaret Thatcher does not have a view on the referendum

It must be a new low for the stay in campaign when they turn to the dead to support them.

May Margaret Thatcher rest in peace. She was in her political prime 30 years ago, before the treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon transformed a relationship based on trade and business into much more of a common government. I was her chief policy adviser in her middle years and would not presume to attribute views to her about current political issues. She never expressed a view as PM without thorough briefing and study of the issue.We do know that she did object very strongly to economic and monetary union before she left office and showed no appetite then for the high degree of integration we now experience under common EU laws, powers and policies.

I find it disappointing that Lord Powell should presume to be able to communicate with the dead and tell us what they are thinking. It’s not the first time pro EU people have tried this, as they often assert Churchill wanted us to be part of the united Europe he talked about when most of his references to that made clear he also wanted the UK to be part of a separate Union of the English Speaking peoples and not part of the United Europe. That of course was why he wrote a History of The English Speaking peoples rather than a history of Europe, as that set of books makes clear.

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The UK will not be alone outside the EU

In recent debates with those who want us to stay in the EU I have been impressed by their pessimism and amazed at their fears. The most recent pro EU MP I heard told us that the Euro was a bad idea and the Schengen common borders was not working, but we needed to stay on the EU boat as it hit the rocks so we could show solidarity with the others and not be isolated. Yes, that was his image! I myself prefer to get off a boat going to the rocks. We then can rescue ourselves and be in a stronger position to help the others if indeed their boat sinks. By his own image the better European approach for the UK to follow would be to get off to be able to help after any disaster.

Others I have witnessed also agree with me that the Euro is not working well, the common frontiers are in disarray, yet still they want the UK to stay shackled to the EU’s tight legal grip. If this is the best they can do, surely many voters will want to head for the exit? Why don’t the stay in people believe in all the main aspects of the EU, which is now based around the Euro and free movement? Germany thinks the UK should in due course join the Euro. Why don’t the stay in people believe that too? After all some of them used to recommend we did join.

The pro EU lobby try to spread the fear we would be on our own if we leave. That is absurd. The UK will still be much courted by many countries in the world, including EU countries, when they want us to help them, when they want to spend our money, to solicit our assistance in some diplomatic or military activity, of persuade us to back some new treaty or international agreement. With our own voice and our own place at the table, instead of the through the EU, we will have more friends and be in a stronger position to influence others.

The pro EU lobby needs to answer exactly how they think the EU would come to our aid if needed if we stay in. They clearly have not come to assist Mr Cameron as he seeks very modest changes to our welfare system, and proper guarantees for our independence outside the Euro. If they cannot even be very helpful under pressure of the UK voting to leave, how can we expect them to be helpful when there is no such pressure?

The EU did not come to our aid when we had a bad banking crash in 2008. We had to pay our own bills to get out of that. They did not come to the UK’s aid when sterling was dropping out of their Exchange Rate Mechanism. They just watched us drop out and did nothing about the damage their economic policy had caused us. No compensation, no additional financial support.

They do not contribute to the UK financially and are unlikely to do so in future. We contribute to them.

Nor do they get behind the UK when we need diplomatic and military support. They did not back us when Argentina invaded the Falklands, claiming that Iberia’s links with Latin America prevented them from helping.

A person or a country can be more lonely in a relationship which is not working, than free of it and capable of making new friends and revisiting old alliances.

I have every confidence that outside the EU the UK will be less lonely than inside. Our relations with France and Germany will improve, as we will no longer be trying to stop or slow down the changes they want in the EU. meanwhile they will need to seek our support for wider global matters where today they can outvote us or take us for granted.

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The UK will be more secure outside the EU

The security of the UK rests primarily on the vigilance, hard work and success of its own people. Outside the EU the UK will be freer and more prosperous, freed of the EU taxes and rules that hold us back.

Our main defence will be strong, based on the UK military and our continuing membership of NATO.

We will be able to avoid being pulled into conflicts and insecurities which the wider EU shares.

The UK’s security has been weakened by EU energy policies designed to increase interdependence in a continent which is short of energy. The EU will have to be careful about its reliance on Russian gas.

The EU’s policy towards Ukraine, fostering a bigger divide between the two parts of the country, gave opportunity to Russia to exploit western weakness and seize Crimea. The UK has been dragged into this conflict whilst the EU has shown no ability to retrieve the damage done. All the UK in the EU can do is to protest loudly about the Russian action.

The EU border policy has failed to police the external border or provide a legal and orderly framework for deciding who can come and who cannot. Whilst the UK is protected from some of this by being outside the Schengen common frontier policy, the free movement of people means that anyone accepted anywhere else in the EU is free to come to the UK whether that meets with our wishes or not.

The free movement of terrorists over EU frontiers as we saw in recent French tragedies is worrying if we stay in.


There is not a shred of evidence for this proposal.

They cannot name a single way in which the EU has made us more secure. Far from doing so it has made our borders less secure, and pulled us into dangerous foreign and energy policies.

They say the European Arrest Warrant makes us safer. Outside the EU we would have similar procedures through normal extradition relations. We would continue to share intelligence as we do with some non EU countries like the USA as well.

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Influence, power and sovereignty – Please understand the difference.

Influence is the ability of a country to work with others to move world policy in its preferred direction, and to gain advantage from the actions of others.
Power is a country’s ability on its own to do things or to make others do things because it has authority, leads world bodies, has military power, has a large economy with plenty of financial clout and by other means.
Sovereignty means a country has the right to make all its own decisions, limited only by international law and by its own relative power in the world.

An individual can have all three. I am sovereign to make any decision I wish for my life, subject to the law, limited by my obligations to others and limited by my personal resources. I have not pooled my sovereignty with my neighbours, so I do not have to ask their permission to spend money or change job. If we clubbed together to buy things we would have more buying power, but I would have less influence over what we bought than buying my own things with my own money. That is why people do not usually pool their budget with the neighbours nor come to joint decisions about spending.

As an individual I may have influence by speaking, writing, voting, talking and working with people. I do not have power over them, as I cannot make them do things in the way the EU can make a member state do things.

Individuals also have some power. We have power to buy goods and services with our money, power to decide how to spend our time and what causes to assist, power to choose and develop our jobs.

People in favour of staying in the EU deliberately or inadvertently confuse these 3. They say we pool sovereignty to have more power, but there is no evidence we have pooled sovereignty – we have simply given it away. Nor is there any evidence we have more power, as so rarely does the EU back a UK wish. The UK is nearly always in disagreement over the direction of travel, and busily trying to opt out of the main parts of the project.We have just seen how we cannot even decide how much tax money to spend on welfare as our neighbours disagree with our decision.

They say we have more influence inside than out. That is a simple lie. Were we out the UK’s views on big issues would be taken much more seriously within the EU where they wished to work with us. They would no longer be able to vote us down or ignore our voice. If they wanted us on side each negotiation would be one of equals. At one stroke we would restore the UK’s veto over whatever they wanted to do, as we would no longer have to agree or do it if we did not want to.

The UK will have more power outside the EU, as we will regain our seat on many international bodies and be able to speak with its own voice to move world policy.

The membership of the EU is quite unlike NATO. In NATO we retain our veto over joining any joint NATO action. In the EU we are instructed to do things under pain of court cases and fines.

If the UK wants to restore its sovereignty it needs to leave the EU. EU TReaty law and the European court will be able to overrule us all the time we are in.
If the UK wishes to have more power to act we must leave the EU.We do not even gave the power to decide our own taxes or our own spending inside the EU.
If the UK wishes to have more influence in the world we must leave the EU. Inside it we do not even have a seat on many world bodies, so our voice is muffled or silenced.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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