A new relationship with the EU for the UK

Most people in the UK strongly oppose a federal EU state. We are fed up with the continual power grab??by Brussels, and the dissimulation by this government as they give more and more power away. Yesterday in the House??Conservatives failed to get a commitment to a referendum on part of the Constitution when we pressed, if they decide to smuggle some of it in by the back door. It is typical of this government’s approach.

Some now think the only answer is to declare unilateral withdrawal from the EU. There are two big problems with this approach. The first is there are??no MPs??elected??to vote for this in the present Parliament, and no-one thinks there will be any elected on such a ticket for a fringe party after the next election either. Secondly, we would need a series of agreements with the EU and other European countries which would need to be negotiated when changing the relationship. For example, we need agreement for landing rights at continental airports, train route agreements through the Tunnel, general trading agreements, environmental agreements over cross border pollution, agreements over the use of the North Sea and Channel.

Countries outside the EU like Switzerland have a complex series of agreements with the EU to sort out trade, transport, environmental and border issues.

The issue therefore is a simple one. If you like me belong to the Eurosceptic majority that wants a different relationship with the neighbours, is it best to negotiate without unilateral withdrawal, or try to negotiate after you have pulled out?

It seems obvious that you should negotiate. The best approach is for the UK government to seek to negotiate a relationship we can be happy with, and then put that to the UK people in a referendum. The fact that the result of the negotiation will?? be put to the people would give the continental negotiators an incentive to give us a better deal, for otherwise the UK will reject it.

In the last three General Elections Eurosceptics have split their votes, giving the federalists an even bigger majority. It is ridiculous that a country which opposes the Euro, common borders, a common foreign and security policy and the constitution by big margins should be represented by a Lab Lib majority who want all these things.

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5 Comments

  1. Ken Adams
    Posted January 17, 2007 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I think Mr Redwood you are attempting to put the horse before the cart, first we should hold a referendum on staying in or leaving the EU, then the government would negotiate the various agreements with the EU.

    The important point is returning power and accountability to our lawmakers not on agreeing with several different international agreements out sovereign government would have the power to make for the benefit of the people of this country. The reasons for leaving the EU should not be conflated with landing rights at continental airports.

    I am not persuaded by the argument that to vote for a party which stands on the platform of leaving the EU is splitting the EUsceptic vote, the Conservatives do not offer us that option, for as long as we remain a member, our own parliament in Westminster is a charade, and it really does not matter which particular British political party has to follow the socialist EU line.

  2. Tony
    Posted January 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    John, I think it is interesting that you propose a referendum on the result of a negotiated position with Europe. Would it not be more sensible to discover the wishes of the public before negotiating anything?

    If Britain negotiated a different relationship with the EU, but the public actually wanted complete withdrawal from the union, would it not be fair to say that the wishes of the British public were not being represented? Do you feel the Swiss relationship with the EU is an example of what can be achieved without giving up sovereignty?

    I believe we would still retain a strong position because we produce goods and services that people in EU states demand. If the Swiss can negotiate a position with the EU from outside its structures then we could too. But before negotiation of any type takes place I think it is essential for the government to obtain a mandate from the electorate through a referendum, asking whether we want to be in the EU, out of the EU, or in with repatriation of key powers. It is not politicians who should decide for the public, but the public who should instruct the politicians.

  3. Sam Tarran
    Posted January 17, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I am an idealist, and would love a reformed Europe, or at least a newly renogiated relationship with the EU. However, if Tony Blair failed miserably even to get a solid guarantee on reform of the CAP, do you, Mr Redwood, believe that the Tories could do better to tackle a continent currently full of federalist leaders, "steaming … to destroy democracy"?

  4. Werner Patels
    Posted January 22, 2007 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I urge everyone to sign the Better Off Out petition (http://www.betteroffout.co.uk/)

  5. Christine Constable
    Posted February 13, 2007 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Majority voting will prevetn any change from taking place – as those in the "majority" naemly the left wing ex-Communist states who relish authoritarianism and have never really known or understood democracy will continue with the steamroller that is Europe. We have simply given up our freedom and English Liberal values for a new authoritarian state – o.k. maybe without a shot being fired but with the absolute treachery and irresponsibility of MPs from all three parties – herein lies the problem of trying to win over the public – trust in all politicians has disappeared – thanks to Heath and Major and now Blair…….

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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