Power to the people

It is good news that David Cameron wants to tackle the feeling of alienation from politics and government that so many people share. He is right to say we need power back from Brussels, we need to transfer more power to people away from bureaucracies, and need a stronger Parliament to challenge and influence government.

Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell set out a radical agenda for much of this earlier in this Parliament. I praised it at the time, and many of you thought their agenda contained good things. It is time to them to get it down from the shelves and use it to inform debate, as they are doing. I wish them every success.

I myself have set out an agenda for less government on this website, in the Economic Policy Review, and elsewhere. Today I will look at how we could transfer power from Brussels. Tomorrow I will look at how we can reduce the power of UK government and make it more accountable.

The origins of greater EU power came through the introduction of qualified majority voting. If we still enjoyed a veto on every measure Brussels proposed, a sensible UK government could avoid all new EU law that was damaging or unwanted. The first task is to make clear the UK will not accept any more erosion of the veto, and that the veto does have to apply to all Foreign Affairs, defence and taxation as a bare minimum.

This government has given away so many vetoes, that simply stopping the rot is not sufficient. We need our veto back over employment and social law, over immigration and Home affairs, and over other areas central to the tasks of self government.

Restoring the veto for future laws is no longer sufficient, as too many laws of a kind we do not want have been passed already. A renegotiation for powers back has to encompass the right to remove EU laws we do not like in areas where the veto has been restored.

Two big areas of spending are fishing and agriculture. Neither of these policies have worked well. We need our own control of our fishing grounds, as I have often argued. We need agricultural reform, which should include more being done nationally and locally.

The loss of part of our rebate was one of the worst features of recent hopeless negotiating by the UK government. If we cannot reach general agreement on a lower budget for the EU overall, we willl need to raise again the issue of our contribution.

Some of you will have items of your own you want to add to the list for renegotiaiton. Some of you just want to pull out of the whole thing. That would still require negotiation, as the UK is now so interwoven with the EU that all sorts of issues would need to be decided for a new bilateral relaitonship between the EU and an independent UK. Those who think it best to call for immediate withdrawal need to tell us what kind of arrangements they would want on tariffs, market access, transport links and rights, competition policy and other areas requiring agreement across borders and how these can best be secured.

I think it best to have a renegotiation, and then to put the results to the people. It is high time the people could express a view on the value of our relationship with the EU. We might get that on Lisbon, if it remains unratified and there is a change of government. If not, let’s have a referendum on any renegotiation. That will concentrate Brussels minds on the need to give us real power back, if the people are going to judge the outcome. As a minimum we need full control of our social and employment policies, taxation, foreign and defence policy, and of Home afairs.


  1. figurewizard
    May 28, 2009

    It is always a good thing to negotiate from a position of strength. That is why a referendum on the Lisbon treaty; no matter what results from the Irish vote, should be the first item on the party’s list of EC objectives. Before the talking begins it should be as clear as daylight to those we are negotiating with as to the strength of support behind our representatives before the first word is spoken.

    1. Adrian Peirson
      May 28, 2009

      Wouldn’t you prefer it if we just tore up the Treaties.

    2. Alan Wheatley
      May 28, 2009

      Very wise. I agree.

  2. Amanda
    May 28, 2009

    “That will concentrate Brussels minds on the need to give us real power back,”

    “We might get that on Lisbon, if it remains unratified and there is a change of government. If not, let’s have a referendum on any renegotiation.”

    This is exactly why I will not vote Tory, and may not even vote at all next Thursday. I want OUT of Europe, it has brought us no good and cost us so much. I do not recognize the right of an undemocratic foreign institution to interfere in my life.

    It may be diplomatic to SAY Brussels needs to give us power back, but is the Tory mindset to TAKE it back, regardless?

    The referendum promise is still so full of ifs, buts and maybes. I, like so many others, want a firm and unequivocal promise that we WILL have one, whatever.

    It’s time we TOOK our sovereignty back, and put our country first. Whatever you think of old Henry 8 and daughter Lizzy, they did us the greatest favour to rid us of the tentacles of European autocracy that led to so many wars on that blighted continent.

    There are two types of nationalism, 1. that which says we are best and will fight you, 2. that which uses it to pull a society together for the common wealth. England followed the latter course, whilst Europe took the former option. At it’s heart that is why we can and should never be part of Europe.

  3. Robert K, Oxford
    May 28, 2009

    Withdrawing from the EU might involve complex negotiation but it would be worth it. The optimal arrangement for free market capitalism is the absolute minimum of state intervention. The EU is state intervention incarnate and affronts the notion of accountable democracy.
    Incidentally, Norway manages just fine outside the EU: Norwegian “mainland” GDP (i.e. excluding oil) has fallen less sharply than just about any country in Europe since the start of last year.

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      Key areas of the Norwegian economy are controlled through state enterprises. And despite not being an EU member state, Norway “contributes sizably to the EU budget.”

      “As a European commissioner I [Chris Patten] was responsible for relations with Norway, Switzerland and the rest. My conclusion was clear. They enjoy all the enhanced sovereignty that comes with staying at home while the decisions that intimately affect their own economic life are made by their neighbours in Brussels. We put a diplomatic gloss on it of course. But to enjoy our market they have to follow our rules: rules which they do not make or share in making. When we enlarged the European Union these outer-ring countries had to pay into the funds that we make available to help the poorer new members. I remember a Swiss negotiator telephoning me to plead that this subscription should be presented as a voluntary donation for development in the deprived parts of Europe, not an additional fee for access to a larger market. But we both knew the truth. De facto sovereignty or de jure?”

      1. Robert
        May 29, 2009

        One of the many problems with the debate on Europe is that support for the EU and opposition to it come from polar opposites of the political spectrum. Many on the right wing want out of the EU because they hate the erosion of British sovereignty and the imposition of EU social policy diktat. Many on the left want out because they feel the EU view of social equality does not match their own and believe their socialist ideal would more easily be realised without interference from Brussels. Hence the unholy alliances referred to in Patten’s article (thanks for the url). The so-called “centre ground” seems to favour European integration – Patten and Conservative Europhiles because they believe it can amplify the UK’s voice in the world and Blair because he wants to be President of Europe.
        My argument against the EU is the same as my argument in favour of smaller government all round. (It is important to highlight that this viewpoint should not be seen as coming from the “left” or “right” but from a classical liberal tradition).
        In theory, the EU is about creating the free movement of goods, labour and capital. In practice, it sees this freedom as applying within only its own boundaries and then only when certain vested interests have been satisfied (for example the Common Agricultural Policy). Beyond that it is a story of protectionism, subsidy and downright bossiness that is antithetical to the notion of free markets. And from the perspective of democracy and accountability it’s a complete non-starter. If ever you wanted to see what happens when bureaucrats get their hands on the controls you just need to look at the shenanigans of the European Parliament and Commission.
        I’m simply arguing that globally, politicians need to step to one side and let markets work to rectify the damage that nation states have wreaked through a combination of interference in their own internal markets and distortion of international free trade. Nowhere is this more important in the US.
        My comment on Norway was somewhat offhand: I hardly hold up a socialist state as a model of free market capitalism, although you might be surprised by the tough love approach of
        the Norwegian state to the enterprises in which it has stakes.

  4. Iain
    May 28, 2009

    “The loss of part of our rebate was one of the worst features of recent hopeless negotiating by the UK government. ”

    I have no problem blaming this Labour Government, but shouldn’t the charge for poor negotiations also be laid at the door of the EUphile Foreign Office? If memory serves weren’t the FO opposed to Mrs T hand bagging the EEC for our rebate? It was Howe at the FO who knifed Mrs T in the back, claiming she broke their bat before they had got into play, yet when Mrs T wasn’t there to give them some spine in their EU negotiations they sold us out at every opportunity? And recently the FO Diplomats have made dark hints that we will be sidelined if Cameron moves the Conservatives out of the EPP, something I thought was a pretty outrageous attempt by a Government department to interfere in politics.

    So sure blame Labour, but wouldn’t it be well to also beware of the FO, the constant factor in our ‘negotiations’ with the EU that has seen our sovereignty haemorrhage to the EU!

    1. Iain
      May 30, 2009

      Just to reinforce my argument, look no further than the Guardian Newspaper today where EUphile Tory Grandees and FO Diplomats are ganging up to attack the Conservative midly EUsceptic stance.

      The Conservatives cannot afford to come to office and allow the FO to sabotage their EU policy, they need a clear out at the FO and need to clip their wings.


  5. Lola
    May 28, 2009

    “Two big areas of spending are fishing and agriculture. Neither of these policies have worked well” should read “Neither of these two policies have worked AT ALL”

    I have a very simple place I want to get in our relationship with the EU to and that is as a free trade area. It is what I was voting for back in 1973 (?). All the bureaucracies, EU law, ECoHR, politics etc etc and ‘ever closer union’ can go hang. I completely understand that this needs work, so please just get on with it.

    In fact my free trade ambition applies globally. Death to subsidies and cartelisation. Death to mercantilism.

    1. alan jutson
      May 28, 2009

      Absolutely agree with your points about a free trade area and the rest of the World, anything else is really protectionism in one form or another.

      Aware that some Countries may get involved with Trade Dumping their own subsidised products onto a world market, but they cannot do that forever without expecting some retribution in kind.

      Do not see why negotiations should be complex at all, just say we are leaving, and give a sensible date if that is what the population of this Country want.

      The EU has become far, far too complex an organisation which will never work properly until:

      ALL tax revenues, laws, regulations, benefits, pensions, susidies, rates, community charges, utility charges, foreign policy, police, armed forces, defence etc, are the same throughout.

      If the above ever happens, and it seems to me that is what all of the Euro Politicians want, then it has by its very nature become a virtual single state with named areas/regions.

      No one in this country has ever voted for a single state, so let us have a referendum on the simple question and resolve it once and for all.

      Do you favour us to be a member of a completely integrated Europe in every respect, with all of the implications that this means, or would you prefer us to be on our own and make our own way.

  6. Victor, NW Kent
    May 28, 2009

    The EU agricultural and fisheries policies have worked very well indeed, for other countries.

    Spain is wholly in accord with the fisheries policy whilst France and Greece are happy over the CAP.

    Our very large contribution to the EU appears to be spent entirely on the costs of bureaucracy and the comic opera at Strasbourg. Did Ted Heath or Margaret Thatcher or John Major understand what they were signing up to? Or, did they understand but didn’t care?

    So, when David Cameron and George Osborne earmark the NHS and Foreign Aid as sacrosanct and proof against cuts do they mean the EU when they say foreign?

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    May 28, 2009

    Power to the people? I think you’re joking. The EU has shown it has a total disregard for the views of the people expressed in a referendum. If they don’t get the answer they want they make the people vote again until they do. Isn’t it the case that when Lisbon is ratified there will be no more referenda anyway? Politicians of all parties have conspired, without gaining the prior approval of the people of the UK, to give away the powers with which they were entrusted, to the extent that 75% of our legislation is now initiated in Brussels. These were acts of treachery against the people by those politicians. What sanctions will you apply when your attempts at renegotiation are rejected as they will be? None. If you then put those results to a referendum what will be the question? If you have failed would you then support a proposal for withdrawal? I predict that once in office your party will succumb to the powers of the EU and produce a fudge which would mean nothing in reality but allow your government and the EU to continue along the path that they laid out many years ago and continue to treat the people of the UK and Europe with contempt. What about President Blair’s appointment and the 18 additional unconstitutional MEPs who are being elected in June in readiness for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty? They don’t sound like the actions of a body which has any intention of even listening to the people.

  8. Mark M
    May 28, 2009

    We want the Europe our parents voted for, a European Economic Community.

    In my view, Britain should pull out of the EU and negotiate a trading arrangement similar to Switzerland’s. The most important point for any withdrawl is simple though: I don’t want the British people to have to live under laws that were made by people that no-one in Britain voted for. If that is not possible, then we should just completely withdraw and treat the EU as we would any tin-pot country that cannot get its accounts signed off by independent auditors.

    I don’t mind the idea of some European integration. However the EU, as it currently stands, is not the way to do it.

    PS. A few months ago, a BBC poll showed 55% of British people wanted the UK to leave the EU. Taking off your MP hat, in your personal view do you think that it is right to not allow the people a referendum?

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      In the 1980s – the heyday of CND – I recall an even greater percentage wanted us to get rid of our nuclear weapons.

      Six months prior to the 1975 referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EEC, “all the opinion polls suggested that the No campaign would be home and dry.”

      1. Mark M
        May 29, 2009

        Ok, but what has that got to do with whether we have a referendum?

        If we happen to get a ‘Yes’ vote then fair enough, but when polls suggest a strong feeling for leaving the EU even though no major party or newspaper supports that position you have to seriously question whether it’s time to ask the people.

        1. SJB
          May 31, 2009

          The European Election is in a few days time. Do you think the parties in favour of leaving the EU (UKIP & BNP) will achieve a 55% share of the vote?

  9. Demetrius
    May 28, 2009

    I have posted on this subject to the effect that DC, if elected, has a huge mess on his hands. In order to be effective he has to sort it out, but sorting it out may all take a lot of time and trouble.

  10. Acorn
    May 28, 2009

    JR, this is off subject but vital in terms of Power to the People (electric department).

    Get Greg Clark MP (I think), to pick up on the following for a possible parliamentary debate. This subject is actually more important than MP expenses.


  11. David Eyles
    May 28, 2009

    You have already mentioned agriculture and fisheries in your main piece, so these need to be added to your list of “minimum full control”. But, in addition to this, is the need to take back control of Environnment from the EU. Bear in mind that this is the origin of the most horribly expensive legislation that Parliament has just passed with barely a whimper.

    In fact, really, you might just as well take back the lot and withdraw completely, leaving behind a trading agreement – which after all is what we all thought we were signing up in the bad old days of Ted Heath’s government.

    What is not good enough is to leave it as David Cameron proposed in his last, otherwise very good, speech. I loved all the bit about minimum government, post bureaucratic age and the rest of it. But ultimately, the principles he espoused did not take the European issue to the logical conclusion of small government and localisation. Why can we not have localisation which gets rid of the biggest source of continuing damaging legislation from Brussels, fixes our national government in Westminster and restores faith in politics by actually handing power back to individuals who are actually accountable for their actions, instead of hiding behind a vast “system”?

    May 28, 2009

    “I think it best to have a renegotiation, and then to put the results to the people. It is high time the people could express a view on the value of our relationship with the EU.”

    Well put sir! Undeniably you are on the Reformers’ top shelf alongside Carswell and Hannan who we know are strong supporters of this site.

    May we re-run our recent blog here – a proposal we’ve been advocating to the Conservative leadership since 19th June 2004!

    Could it be that our time is coming…?

    May 17th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    The position we advocated before the 2005 General Election remains unaltered save for the substitution of Cameron for Howard.
    “We maintain that the Conservative manifesto for the General Election should contain a promise to use the first Cameron term to revise our EU membership terms as far as possible with a guaranteed referendum on continuing membership or otherwise at the start of the second term. The Conservatives can decide at that time whether to recommend a yes or no vote.”
    All research done by our friends and colleagues at ESSEX VOTERS VOICE shows this to be an immensely attractive proposition to the electorate.

  13. Henry Schnarr
    May 28, 2009

    The following link will cause more people to adopt Amanda’s attitude.

    When will this government see that it is too weak to do anything about the EU encroachment on our lives? Or are they turning a blind eye to it all; because they won’t be here to accept the responsibility for what they have done!
    Yet another ‘bad news’ story to bury in the MP’s Expenses furore.

  14. Robin
    May 28, 2009


    I think this would have more success IF we managed to open the EU to FOI requests.

    I am sure future Tory Ministers would find their job negotiating with the EU a lot easier if they had the public’s support. If the negotiation process was on-line, as Cameron promised we would see what the EU was trying to extract from the British people in return for the mistakes we made in the past.

    Yes the British people would be angry, but surely if the EU have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.

      May 29, 2009


      Our proposal above WOULD have the effect of giving our negotiators the public’s support.

      The EU would know that unless the UK government achieve reasonable concessions and renegotiated terms in their first term the subsequent promised referendum would almost certainly carry a ‘No’ recommendation which the public would confirm.

      Always best to negotiate, we say, not by wielding or threatening ‘violence’ but with a loaded gun in the drawer that the other side know is there!

  15. [[NAME EDITED]]
    May 28, 2009

    Sorry, can’t trust Cameron on this, whatever he says. He is simply too much like Blair. For Europe I shall vote UKIP. The vital thing to know is, what pressure there will be in the new parliament from the parliamentary Conservative party as a whole to return the leadership to true conservatism.
    If there is a massive clearout of candidates, will that bring about a party with more confidence in its beliefs?

  16. witteringsfromwitney
    May 28, 2009

    Mr. Redwood,

    Whilst your ideas are a start, they do not go far enough I am afraid.

    As an MP you wish to debate/decide matters affecting Britain and how we live our lives. Under Lisbon, Parliament will become no more than an administration centre for Brussles laws, hence your ability to do what you wish, ie debate/decide is curtailed.

    It is important, in a democracy, that those we elect to ‘govern’ us are accountable to us, however there is no point in having that element of accountability if that accountability is negated by the powerlessness off those we elect.

    The foregoing paragraph is therefore an argument against our membership of the EU and also the present selection methods of MPs.

    The correct course of action in respect of the EU is total withdrawal and then renegotiation for a trading relationship, similar to Norway. After all, it is the EU who would lose out were they to refuse in that as we export more to them than we import from them.

    Finally, in regard to the EU and democracy in this country, the only logical way is for adoption of The Plan in its entirity.

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      ‘Norway is part of the European Economic Area, a solution that gives the country and its companies access to the EU’s internal market. For most Norwegian businesses – the fishing industry is a clear and vocal exception – this arrangement is a necessity, with close to 80 percent of Norwegian exports going to the EU.

      The flip side is that Norwegians have to abide by almost every piece of internal-market legislation while having no vote on these laws. In Norway, this has become known as the “fax democracy,” since Brussels simply faxes new directives for the Norwegians to follow.’

      “The overall aim of the EEA and Norway Grants is the reduction of economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area. Over the five-year period 2004-2009, the three donor states contribute with €1.3 billion in funding. Norway’s contribution represents around 97% of the total support.”

      So Norway makes contributions without having a vote on legislation.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 30, 2009

        I don’t know how many times this has to be said.

        As a member of the European Economic Area, but not the EU, Norway has to comply with fewer than one in five EU laws, and most of them are of the minor technical standards variety which will also have to be observed by the exporters of any other country when they sell goods and services into the EU.

        Mexico, for example, which has a free trade agreement with the EU.

        Given the greater size and economic clout of the UK, we will certainly be able to negotiate a more favourable deal than Norway, or Switzerland, or Mexico.

  17. Neil Craig
    May 28, 2009

    tariffs, market access; Given the option I would join NAFTA but if not we can still offer to trade freely on our side & if they put up barriers against our goods we can either go to GATT, retaliate or live with it – except where there is a close to monopoly situation tariffs hurt the imposer more than the free trader, what they do is move the pain from those who have good lobbyists to the rest of the economy.

    transport links: air traffic should be unaffected, the tunnel is purely between us & France & sea carriage covered in the market access question

    rights; I actually belive we should heep the European Declaration of human Rights on the statute book till we have passed our own. The EU version is long winded & inprecise but it is better than nothing.

    competition policy: beyond having a Monoplies commission with clear & consistent principles & keeping it free of political interference which has been suspected of happening in the newspaper industry) I think we could do with little “policy” on this issue & letting competition compete.

  18. Yorrkshireman
    May 28, 2009

    Britain needs to gradually withdraw from much of the EU in a staged period over a period of time, maybe even eventual full withdrawal.

    This style of remote, undemocratic and unaccountable Government can’t continue. It will cause social unrest and riots.

    To much of the EU and its policies and priorities are cast in the Franco- German mould and this will never be in Britains interests.

    Great blog John – make sure your party hears it!.

  19. Cliff.
    May 28, 2009


    Giving power back to the electorate is a good idea however, it tends to be the implementation of such a policy that has the problems. I suspect it would mean setting up more little quangos or regional assemblies.
    All most people that I speak to want is for government to stop interfering in their lives and sending out diktat after diktat. My own personal gripe regarding government interference in my life, is the number of threatening adverts the government invade my living room with via the TV and radio.

    I know what your views on the EUSSR are however, is Mr Cameron just as Euro sceptic as you? I don’t think he is.

    One of your posters on here a few weeks ago had a link to a Stop Common Purpose website, on that website it suggests Mr Cameron may be a Common Purpose graduate; Are you able to cast any light on this suggestion because if it were true, some of Mr Cameron’s policies and speeches may make sense.

  20. sm
    May 28, 2009

    We should have a referendum in or out.

    I cant think why it would be so difficult to just leave.
    Would it damage the pension or goldplated lifeboat prospects of some of the political elite?

    The Law Lords can take over. (Job done)
    A new government can take over. (Job done)

    Everything else can be resolved by normal politics, this time with real leverage. Why cant closer co-operation be achieved by sovereign states where desired only.

    How many UK born citizen live and work in Europe? and vice versa?

    How could you enable free mobility of labour, which would enable say for example less wealthy, younger people to move, work and learn the language in another country without facing large economic problems which would effectively prevent it.?

    Would the EU pass a law making English an official job language for all states? not likely. Maybe make language tuition free in those countries which require local competence, with massive youth placement schemes. Why not? A lot of young people are going to hit a very soft job market?.

    Speaking a dialect of global English isn’t enough if its a native from England. Which language do you learn?

    The EU was not designed by the people for the people was it?
    Its an alliance of elites WITHOUT much democratic legitimacy.

    What happened to ‘Free Trade’ , GATT and EFTA? We could reach bilateral deals with any country we choose, particularly ex commonwealth trading partners.We could if agreeable reach agreements with other EU regions.

    The future of the UK would be an interesting issue.

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      sm: “How many UK born citizen live and work in Europe?”

      Interesting question. After five minutes searching, I could not find an authoritative breakdown but the FCO are reported as claiming around one million live in Spain. I think a lot of those may be Brits who have retired to sunnier climes.


  21. George Gittos
    May 28, 2009

    The plain fact is that is that the EU was sold to the electorate on the basis of the economic benefits. There are none. Membership costs British families about £2,000 a year. We have a massive trade deficit with Europe which is largely financed by a surplus with the rest of the world.
    Europe is an old and declining market with a huge unfunded pension deficit even worse than ours. Only a fool would concentrate his efforts on the declining market.

    There is a huge opportunity waiting for Britain in the new emerging markets.

    Out- before it is too late is the only realistic choice. Negotiate a trade agreement- scrap the CAP – re-aquire Britain’s coastal waters.

    The bonus is that we regain our freedom and restore Parliament’s authority.

  22. Freeborn John
    May 28, 2009

    “A renegotiation for powers back has to encompass the right to remove EU laws we do not like in areas where the veto has been restored.”

    This actually becomes the central issue as time goes by. Without an ability for incoming British governments to remove EU law which they inherit, we will effectively have an asymteric political system where Labour governments are unilaterally able to sign the UK state (i.e. future Conservative governments) up to EU decision-making (as they have done by surrendering Maastricht opt-outs) which future Conservative governments can only reverse with the unanimous support of 26 other governments.

    Without a right to remove unpopular EU law they inherit, Conservative governments are in effect agreeing to a federal Europe but saying they will slow it down. We do need Conservatives governments to stick a finger in the hole in the dyke of Euro-federalism. But we also need some way to bail out the water that Labour lets in when they are in power if the legislative power of Westminster is not be extinguished after a few electoral cycles.

  23. Richard North
    May 28, 2009

    And what if the colleagues refuse to negotiate? What then?

  24. UKIP member
    May 28, 2009

    “Those who think it best to call for immediate withdrawal need to tell us what kind of arrangements they would want on tariffs, market access, transport links and rights, competition policy and other areas requiring agreement across borders and how these can best be secured.”

    Quite. Well, to answer your question in full, tell Brussels that we want exactly the same deal as Norway currently enjoys. Member of EEA-EFTA through the EEA Agreement, signatory to Schengen-Agreement, and member of NATO. Thanks.

    Oh and while your at it tell Brussels that they must henceforth do without our £7bn per annum contribution, we have better uses for it than paying for the CAP, (which they promised to reform but didnt) and the disasterous Common Fisheries Policy.

    At least I assume its the CAP and CFP we pays for – their accounts are in such a rotten mess no-one really knows.

    1. Adrian Peirson
      May 28, 2009

      Why do we need to negotiate Tarrifs, they either want our good sor they don’t.
      Start bringing Tarrifs into it and we end up with the Beaurocracy we are trying to get rid off, pretty soon these Tarrif people will start holding meetings, demanding their own Big building in Europe somewheer and that all countries must pay towards the running of the Tarrif deciders and we will be back where we are now.

      Just make goods, if people want to buy them, sell them, if they don’t, stop making them.

      Keep it simple and we will all be a lot wealthier because we will not have to pay for these multi Billion Pound Quangocracies. how much of the Worlds wealth goes to these institutions.

  25. Freeborn John
    May 28, 2009

    JR: “We need our veto back over employment and social law, over immigration and Home affairs, and over other areas central to the tasks of self government”

    The UK and Ireland have (under Lisbon) an opt-out (with an opt-in arrangement on a case-by-case basis) in some of the areas you list, i.e. Justice and Home Affairs, including immigration. Therefore it seems to me you are only asking to restore national vetoes over employment and social policy.

    JR: “A renegotiation for powers back has to encompass the right to remove EU laws we do not like IN AREAS WHERE THE VETO HAS BEEN RESTORED”.

    It seems you are only asking to be able to reverse pre-existing EU laws in employment and social policy. You would accept to be bound by all the EU law you inherit in all the other policy areas where either vetoes currently exist (e.g. defence, foreign policy, tax etc.) and in all the areas where qualified majority voting is currently used (other than employment and social policy). You would accept for example to be bound by the existing EU law setting the minimum rate of VAT and all the EU law (other than employment and social law) where the UK has been outvoted in the past or which was approved because a Labour minister voted for something that a Conservative minister would have opposed.

    In short this seems to me to be a wish to restore the Maastricht treaty opt-out on social policy that was surrendered by Tony Blair but to accept everything in the treaties of Maastricht, Nice and Lisbon.

    I think we need more than that to restore democratic governance in this country. We need a change to the treaties on European Union to state that each piece of secondary EU legislation (i.e. the EU law created under the terms of those treaties) in matters other than the single market is only binding on the governments that voted for it in the EU Council of Ministers and for the lifetime of their administration. This would open up the possibility that at each national election political parties could state in their manifestos what pre-existing EU law they intended to opt-out of (or sign up to if the previous government had opted-out) and be given a certain period (perhaps 100 days) to make these changes after coming to power before being bound by the changes. Without real reform like this you are accepting that we live under EU laws that do not enjoy majority support in this country, and in effect are only delaying federal Europe rather than reversing it.

  26. The Huntsman
    May 28, 2009

    “Those who think it best to call for immediate withdrawal need to tell us what kind of arrangements they would want on tariffs, market access, transport links and rights, competition policy and other areas requiring agreement across borders and how these can best be secured.”

    On the contrary, it is for those who advocate continuing membership of the EU to explain why that membership would STRENGTHEN our position vis-a-vis the rest of the EU when it comes to negotiating in the interests of the UK on those policy areas.

    Given that our ability to veto any such arrangements will increasingly be restricted to the point of impossibility as the drive to ‘ever-closer union’ grinds inexorably on, we shall increasingly find that our negotiating position is weakened and our ability to say “NO” is diminished.

    As a Sovereign Independent Nation outwith the EU we would always have the ability to say “NO” if that was deemed to be in our interest. In the EU we may well find, as we already do, that policies which are utterly inimical to the UK’s vital interests are forced upon us, particularly by a Franco-German Cabal emboldened by the weakening of the UK’s political power.

    None of the policy areas which you adumbrate requires us to be members of the EU. On the contrary we shall be better placed to stick out for an agreement which is compatible with our interests if we are outside the EU.

    The phrase “areas requiring agreement across borders” are not what I expect to see in a post of yours: rather they are the weasel words of the LibDems who use such phraseology to imply that Sovereign Independent States cannot achieve such agreements.

    Besides the whole notion of agreements being reached by members will soon become nugatory. The whole point of Lisbon is to concentrate power into the hands of the unelected, unaccountable Eurocrats of the Brussels Diktat and thus to enable the seeking of agreements to be dispensed with.

    And with Lisbon providing power to the EU to dispense with any further need for consultation of its people, you should be certain that within a short space of time the need for agreement will disappear entirely. Policy will, thenceforth, be dictated to us from the cente and our views will neither be sought nor taken into account.

    And think on this: you speak of recovering a huge swathe of veto powers. Do you really think that the EU has spent the last fifty years aggregating, nay arrogating to itself the huge amount of power we have so carelessly given away, only meekly to hand it back?

    With great respect, if you believe that, then you are living in cloud cuckoo land. They will give not one iota of power back. The moment they concede one whit or jot of power back to a member state, then they fear there will form a disorderly queue of barbarians at the gates of the Berlaymont Building all demanding this or that power back for their particular Prefecture of the Empire. They will not give us anything back, if only as a matter of ‘pour encourager les autres’.

    The only way for the United Kingdom to secure agreements that are wholly in our interests is for us to be rid of the whole rotten shebang.

    Recovering full powers over all aspects of policy by withdrawal will also have the benefit , through restoring the primacy of Parliament, of making the position of Member of Parliament a meaningful one once more. Restoring control over our Sovereignty will give them lots to do and will persuade the British public that they are worthy of our respect once more, and perhaps that they might be worth better remuneration.

    A referendum on Lisbon, in force or not, should only be the starting point for consulting the British people on our relationship with other European nations. As I believe a massive raspberry will then be delivered to the EU and our own Europhiles, we can then move on to the business of the control that unelected and unaccountable foreigners have over our country.

    In due course we shall then have a referendum on full withdrawal. That is the nightmare of Europhiles, for we might well say a resounding “YES!” to that: the very sum of all their fears, that the people might gainsay their lies and deceptions at last, if given the chance.

  27. Robert Eve
    May 28, 2009

    Negotiation will not work. We need to leave the EU for good.

  28. Number 6
    May 28, 2009

    Why the hell as an independent nation should we negotiate for powers to run our own country to be ‘given back’ from the EU? Sorry John, this is why I left the Conservatives for UKIP. I cannot stand to see my country going ‘cap in hand’ for powers that belong to us where we s a truly soveriegn nation.

  29. Hugh
    May 28, 2009


    I have been trying to find data on the long term real increase in aggregate MPs Salary and expenses.

    The purpose of this search is to try and ascertain if there is any truth in the supposition that the current Administration has been more lax in controlling the costs of running about 650 MPs than its predecessors. Do you have any data on this?

    All the Best

  30. Adrian Peirson
    May 28, 2009

    We never needed the EU 100 yrs ago when we traded with Europe and the world, at its most basic, the EU is simply a way for Elitists to seize power and wealth over the rest of us.

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      An alternative view is that after two expensive, major European wars, £7bn per annum is a cheaper alternative.

      In April 1975, Margaret Thatcher stated: “the paramount case for being in [the Common Market] is the political case for peace and security. It is taken for granted now that Western Europe, which has been the centre of troubles within our lifetime, will not embark again upon its own destruction. I think that we should not too readily take that for granted but for the tremendous efforts and constructive purpose which have led to those nations working together in the Common Market.

      One of the measures of the success of the Community that we now take for granted is essentially security. I think that security is a matter not only of defence but of working together in peace-time on economic issues which concern us and of working closely together on trade, work and other social matters which affect all our peoples. The more closely we work together in that way, the better our security will be from the viewpoint of the future of our children.”

      1. Adrian Peirson
        May 28, 2009

        I think the International Banking elites had more to do with WWI and WWII than British, German or French people actually wanting to kill each other.

  31. A. Sedgwick
    May 28, 2009

    Many of us have been responding to numerous political writers over the years about whatever happened to democracy? Suddenly it is the flavour of the month because of the expenses/allowances fiasco. Possibly the most shameful recent example was the reneging on the Lisbon referendum compounded by the unbelievable backdoor and late arrival to sign up by Brown. This referendum fell into the category of half a cake is better than none for many voters. Poll after poll suggests that a majority want a free trading relationship with Europe and nothing more. Obviously detailed and extensive negotiation will be necessary to disentangle our membership, but to be blunt so what we are a powerful trading nation. Anything less than an in/out referendum will be a palliative to us dumb voters who maybe collectively have seen the light after 12 years of New Labour deceit.

  32. Robin
    May 28, 2009

    By the way … which of the parties I will be voting for on June 4th is going to make MEP’s expenses transparent?

  33. Mike Stallard
    May 28, 2009

    I agree about Europe with both Lola and Robert K.
    Now for the rest.
    One of my lady friends went, a couple of years back, to listen to the spanking new Mr Cameron speaking in Herts. Wow!
    At the end, he called for questions. His exciting theme had been the position of women in politics. There ought, he said, to be many many more women both in parliament and local government.
    Questions were then announced.
    My lady friend put her hand up. He asked a man. Her hand was still up. He asked another man. And so on.
    As he left, she pointed out that not one woman had been asked for a question.
    He looked stunned.

    If we want to take power back, we have got to do what this lady did. We have got to notice when politicians snitch power off us. Then we have to take the same steps as we would if our dog had nicked the Xmas dinner off the table and begun to eat it. We have been far too easy going about this.

  34. Alan Wheatley
    May 28, 2009

    “I think it best to have a renegotiation, and then to put the results to the people. …… That will concentrate Brussels minds on the need to give us real power back, if the people are going to judge the outcome.”

    It takes two to negotiate. The Brussels minds have shown no sign of renegotiation. The UK rebate Mrs. Thatcher achieved is a small exception, but that is unlikely to be repeated. Even with that success behind her, in “Statecraft” she argues that the EU juggernaut is on the course of ever closer union with no prospect of a change of direction. The only alternative is to leave.

    UKIP have a good idea of what can be achieved once the UK leaves the EU, so I suggest that renegotiation could be handled to them.

  35. Dr Bernard Juby
    May 28, 2009

    One of the nonsenses we had to adopt when we joined the EU was the VAT (TVA over here) system of Sales Tax despite the fact that vast sums are locked away in the system at any given time waiting to be given back to the previous Registered Trader. Cutting all this out would not only reduce the fraud that is in the system but also release hard-needed cash back into the small-business system and cut down on a lot of paperwork at the same time AT NO EXTRA COST!

  36. Dr Bernard Juby
    May 28, 2009

    By the way what many in the UK don’t realise is that mainland Europe is very Left-wing. The main parties for years in France for example have been the Communists and the Solialists. Why else do you think that Blair and Brown suddenly realised that the EU was “flavour of the month”? They suddenly woke up to the fact that they could get all that left-wing legislation into force via the back door!

    1. SJB
      May 28, 2009

      Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its sister party the Christian Social Union are both conservative parties. In France, the governing party – Union for a Popular Movement – is also on the centre-right of the political spectrum.

      1. Duncan
        May 29, 2009

        Jon Stewart once made the joke that the Canadian conservatives are equivalent to the American Gay Nader Fans for Peace 🙂 Not all conservatives are equal but I agree with SJB, I don’t think that Europe is leftist or that the EU is some kind of socialist conspiracy. It’s just fallen into the trap of believing that the ends justify the undemocratic means. To add to the list of centre-right governments: Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Malta, Lithuania, Poland, Malta, Latvia, Sweden, Romania, Czech Republic, Belgium, Finland and in grand coalitions in Luxembourg, Austria and The Netherlands.

        1. Dr Bernard Juby
          May 29, 2009

          Even with a right-wing government under Margaret Thatcher we got ratchet socialism. Just look at the history where the “Mediterranean countries” are still worried about a workers’ revolution (see the Social Chapter). Incidentally I have lived in France for the past 10 years. The French “NO” vote was because the French government gave every single house-hold a copy of the Lisbon Treaty and they, the voters, didn’t like what they were reading! The French are very patriotic and they don’t like losing control of their money supply nor any other inanities from the EU. Most of my neighbours, including the Mayor, want a Union of co-operating sovereign States. It will be interesting to see how they vote this time (all results are published)? 19 in the village voted for Le Pen – who made a very plausible election address on TV the other night.

  37. Ken Adams
    May 28, 2009

    Sorry I do not trust the Conservatives to reach an acceptable successful negotiation that returns full powers to our parliament, this would require rewriting the EU treaties, which would then need ratifying in all other states, such a thing is simply not on the EU agenda.

    So having failed to reach a successful settlement along the lines suggested I can imagine a Conservative government calling a referendum and using all the power of government to campaign for a yes! Rather a stark turnaround from calling a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and campaigning for a no. The referendum will also then be on the Conservative plan and not on the EU, our membership of the EU or the Lisbon treaty.

    The Conservatives have held power in Westminster for most of the period we have been members of the project, this Labour Government might have agreed to pass powers to Brussels, but they only continued along the lines and within the parameters of set down and agreed by previous Conservative administrations.

    We must never forget that without Maastricht we would not even be citizens of the EU and we must never forget that it was a Conservative administration that forced to become citizens of the EU! We should at the very least have the opportunity to vote for a change in the status of our own citsenship.

  38. Simon
    May 28, 2009

    I wrote to Cameron after his pledge to devolve power to the people. I suggested that he get someone to call all Tory Councils and tell them to hand the power to allow smoking in pubs back to Landlords. Just a matter of calling off the dogs in the shape of the smoking police and simply not enforcing the law as it stands in exactly the way that the hunting ban is not enforced. I also wrote to our local Tory Council Leader suggesting that he implement the idea. Very simple to do.

    Needless to say neither of them did it and neither even bothered to reply. All this stuff about devolving power and listening to the electorate is just so much hot air brought on by the expenses scams. We’ve heard it all before from Brown and Blair and even Boris, whose first instinct upon being elected was not to get London Government off people’s backs, it was to impose yet another ban. Cameron is exactly the same. All wind and piss. Don’t believe a word he says.

  39. Adrian Peirson
    May 28, 2009

    I can see now why they had to take away our right to bear arms.

  40. Gareth
    May 28, 2009

    Are the people sovereign or not?

    Not from where I am sitting in Yorkshire. Parliament has all the authority it needs to do as we wish.(And it knows how we feel because it will not give us a referendum)

    Cameron’s recent overtures to devolved power have got the issue entirely backwards. He has no power to gift us – it is and was ours all along. We lend it to you. Successive Governments (*and* Parliaments) have merrily handed it over to a multitude of quangos and undemocratic entities.

    Why should we continue to lend you our authority when so many of your Parliamentary colleagues refuse to deploy it in our interests? Being members of the EU is in *your* interest – it reduces your workload, reduces your culpability and reduces your accountability. When has an honest case ever been made for it being in *our* interest?

    Arbitrary withdrawal is nothing to be afraid of. I sometimes wonder how and why our politicians and civil servants have managed to become so cowardly and unable or unwilling to do their jobs. Negotiating trade agreements used to be bread and butter stuff now politicians run screaming from the very notion of proper work. How we have withered.

    1. SJB
      May 31, 2009

      Perhaps our creditors may conclude that a sovereign country that will happily breach its treaty obligations (“arbitrary withdrawal”) will not think twice about defaulting on its loans. Therefore, the Credit Default Swaps on UK bonds may rise resulting in an even higher PSBR.

  41. Michael James
    May 29, 2009

    I’m trying to work out exactly what negotiation will be required to facilitate the UK leaving the EU (or, more properly, the EU leaving the UK as they are the burden on us).

    Nope, can’t think of any. We area sovereign nation, a simple referendum followed by an Act in Parliament is all. The WTO sets the world trading rules, if the EU wishes to continue running its enormous surplus with the UK then we are happy to continue trading with them. Even before 1973 we did not need visas to visit western Europe-and we certainly did not need visas to go to France in June 1944.

  42. Julian Melford
    May 30, 2009

    There’s a lot of wishful thinking about ‘renegotiation’, but the key point is that you’re either in Europe and ruled by it, or out.

    Those who actually study how the EU works will know that it forced employment legislation (Working Time Directive) by the back door, by labelling it under a heading where we didn’t have a veto. Similarly, the European Court (in Case 22/70) decided that wherever the EU had an ‘internal policy’, by definition it had a matching ‘external’ i.e. foreign policy.

    There is more small print, the acquis communautaire, that obliges us to respect and obey the entire loopy package, including accepting the PERMANENT loss of sovereignty. There is no way that the megalomaniacs who want citizen surveillance, EU armies, Lisbon and ever-closer union will allow us powers back within the EU, so ‘renegotiation’ is distraction from the task in hand.

    We need an orderly withdrawal, stressing immediate national sovereignty, but committing to a bit of stability in trade and areas such as joint research programmes. It will take a few years to gradually disapply the mass of EU regulations (etc) that have crept into British law.

    We can always co-operate via the (non-EU) Council of Europe.

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