The European relationship

It is important to remember that the UK  joined a “Common market”. The British people have only been asked once for their opinion. In 1975 they were asked if they wished to remain in a  “Common market”. The whole EU project has always been sold to the British people in terms of selling more goods, creating more jobs and having access to the wider EU economy. Usually politicians at the same offered assruances that sovereignty or British “red lines” would be preserved. No mainstream party ever argued that surrendering sovereignty was  for the greater good, or set out the full EU project to the British people.

This is not how most continentals see the project. They have always seen it as primarily a  political project. They wanted the UK in, as they wish to move to common government  in more and more areas. They want to make sure the UK cannot differentiate and outperform.

It is time anyway that the UK government  dropped the argument that we have to go along with much of the EU agenda in order to enjoy all the benefits of the common market. This is way out of date. The world of the 1970s was hedged around with tariffs, which meant belonging to the EU area did lower some barriers. As it happens they lowered the barriers more quickly on industrial goods which favoured the contiental exporters  than they lowered the barriers on services which would helped the UK more. As a result we always ran a balance of payments deficit with the rest of the EU. Today access to the EU market is assured by the rules of the World Trade Organisation, which has lowered barriers more effectively for the world as a whole. Non members of the EU have equally good access to the market as members.

Some in government  recognise this shift, and argue that our membership is important because it allows us a say in  shaping the myriad regulations and Directives which the EU imposes on those who trade within its area. The last government showed it is possible to get little or no leverage over those same rules, as their style of avoiding serious engagement or confrontation on difficult issues meant the UK accepted the lowest common denominator or the Commission view.

The problem for the UK is that the EU lost its economic dynamism shortly after the UK joined. Subsequent decisions to widen the area, merge DM with Ostmark, and then to create the Euro have added to the woes of the central economies. The EU is now a slow growth area at best. It has a malfunctioning currency which cannot work for all the varied economies forced into it. It has a declining  working age population in most countries. It is being rapdily outpaced by the more dynamic parts of the world.

The danger for the UK is that we will be left with too many expensive and inappropriate rules, reglations, taxes and charges as a result of the EU’s legislative excesses. This will hinder us, making it more difficult for us to compete with the freer and faster growing countries elsewhere. If the Uk cannot persuade the EU to embark on a major programme of deregulation and repeal, it needs to negotiate a way out from the more damaging measures for itself.  We should not see our EU relationship as the cornerstone of our jobs and prosperity, but as a problem to manage when the rest of the world is getting a lot more competitive.

The recent meeting showed the problem starkly. The UK government was unable to get cuts in the large and growing EU budget, or even to achieve a standstill, because it has to proceed by majority voting. The government  can dig in and insist on a falling budget for 2014-20, as they have a veto over that. They can also dig in over the proposed new Treaty. If the EU wants to Uk to sign it, the Uk should demand some powers back from the many areas where Conservatives opposed Labour’s past surrenders of authority.

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65 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    John

    The Common Market is an outdated solution, to outdated problems.

    In short it is a busted flush, it serves its delegates as an ideal for Socialism, and the personal enhancement of ego’s, at a huge cost, which bears no relationship or has any meaningful benefits for anyone, save for those who work within the system.

    Look at Baroness Ashton’s Empire, artical by Mary Ellin Synon in the Mail on Sunday.

    Time to take stock of this huge waste of money, which is slowly but surely strangling business with regulations, rules, laws and directives which increases overheads, and makes us all less competitive.

  2. ong
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood

    I think the major flaw in your article is the use of the word “us” to describe the British people.

    For the political elite in this country of all shades of opinion, the idea of a special status for people of these islands has long fallen out of fashion, and the people are regarded as undffferentiated from the mass of humanity, and particularly from those in the EU.

    One small insight into this; I live in South Yorkshire, an area of low income and high unemployment with all the social ills that spring from that. I have a young acquaintance who has finally managed to get a job in a local warehouse. 75% of the people working there are Polish. In fact he tells me that it is usual to address somebody in Polish first rather than English as it is more likely to be a Pole to whom one is speaking. In any sane country those jobs would be offered without further consideration to natives first but here that would be illegal.

    I know that those set up above us will give all manner of reasons and excuses as to why this is a good thing for the country, but it is hard for me to see it.

    One example. I could fill pages with more

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    JR: “No mainstream party ever argued that surrendering sovereignty was for the greater good, or set out the full EU project to the British people.”

    Correct; and they still don’t! We have been betrayed and lied to year after year. This “project” was always a political project but “sold” to the British public as an economic one. This became very clear to me during the run up to the 1975 referendum. I voted against membership of the Common Market. Since then the “project” has been rebranded as the EEC and now the EU. At each stage more and more of our democracy has been removed and transferred to an institution which is undemocratic in its workings and antidemocratic in its philosophy. I can see no hope of success for the Conservative policy of expecting the EU to hand back powers surrendered by every government since we signed the Treaty of Rome not least because I don’t believe that there is the real political will to so do. One day this edifice will tumble – with what consequences we can’t be sure. Those who have conspired in our betrayal will have much to answer for.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I do not believe for one moment “cast iron” Cameron will “dig in” over the treaty and EU budget from 2014 unless he is some how forced to. It would be totally out of character and he has the Liberals to use as a fig leaf too.

    How is he to be “forced to” is the question really needing a good answer.

  5. John M
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Excellent article. Now, how do you propose to persuade David Cameron and his ruling elite to take up these vital and urgently needed common sense proposals?

  6. Glyn H
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Praise be! Thank you! Exactly what did Mr Blair get in exchange for stuffing LDV and accepting Mann (Austrian built) trucks for HM forces?
    Must be something in the air in Witney that takes the backbone out of politicians, three in a row!
    I much prefer a land governed by a civilised man, son of a stockbroker and married to a landowners daughter than (unflattering description of Mr Brown) but why are generation after generation of politicians (with a few honourable exceptions) telling us fibs about the EU?

  7. forthurst
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    In retrospect, it seems easy to see that Bolshevism was about nothing more than a criminal gang borrowing money from a New York bank in order to mount a political campaign to steal and plunder a country and who needs popularity when a Cheka is even more effective in controlling dissent? Yet there are still many who persist in attempting to judge Bolshevism purely on its alleged economic strengths and weaknesses. We ourseves would also be well advised to refuse to be sucked into a discussion on whether the EU is ‘good for us’ purely on economic criteria. When the EU commission castegates France for deporting Roma back to Romania it would appear that the original concept of free movement to seek work has been subtly expanded to free movement as of right and if that is the case, what exactly is the objective? If Bolshevism was nominally about Marxism, then this looks to be Cultural Marxism. (words left out) Do we really need to be part of such a monstrous organisation?

    Perhaps we need to attempt to build a commonality of interest with the Nordic and Germanic countries and use that to weaken the larger enterprise, but by preference, we should simply leave?

  8. The ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    We agree that a commercial business’ approach would be to sign a new treaty only if we received other concessions. Apart from the proposed size of the increase and the frivolous uses to which it would be put, whatever happened to the CAP reform for which Mr Blair signed away part of our rebate? Our senior statesmen need to grow, show and use talons.

    2 thoughts to advance the cause here:

    1. What specifically would we do the day that we gave the EU notice of our withdrawal? Stopping the money and redeploying some of it, converting our Brussels operation and retrenching MEPs, explaining to the world the benefits to them and us of the new UK and setting up revised trading arrangements – all these may be a part of our Action Plan. This would show it wouldn’t be that daunting a task we believe.
    Dr Lee Rotherham’s recent book ’10 Years on. Britain without the EU’ might also give some clues.

    2. A sequel to your funny and effective ‘Letters from the CEO of UK plc’ with the CEO of EU plc being introduced to your readers and the wider world to display his organisation’s ridiculous and wasteful role in our lives!

  9. The ESSEX BOYS
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Apologies.That was OUR blog – we used the wrong internal link.

    We think the ‘Girls’ can be relied on to agree with our comments when we meet later this week!

  10. WitteringsfromWitney
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “the Uk should demand some powers back”

    Pray who decides, Mr. Redwood, just what powers we should demand the return of and how are these ranked in order?

    All powers ceded should be demanded back! You took the oath of a Privy Councillor and in so doing swore that no foreigner “should rule in this land”.

    Left to Parliament, again? No thank you as it has been by leaving it to Parliament that most of this country’s woes can be traced back to.

    The question has to be asked – and I mean no offence in so doing – did Wokingham elect, as their MP, a Conservative Party candidate or a Cameroon Party Candidate?

  11. Bill
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Well said … I don’t buy the argument that the EU “will leave us behind on the platform” – train to slow growth and over regulation.

    The UK has big leverage; a veto, runs a big trade deficit with the EU and is 2nd biggest net contributor to the budget.

    What a negotiating position

  12. lifelogic
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    My comment on you lasts “Jobs in the State Sector” seems to have been lost for some reason I do not think there is any actual reason to moderate it.

    It was as below:

    Natural wastage tends to get rid of the best people but then redundancy has legal restrictions too (on who you can actually legally make redundant). As much of what the state does is either pointless of negative for the economy anyway perhaps this does not matter too much for this sector.

    The best solution is clearly to limit pay offs for all to say £3,000 and change the law to restrict all legal claim to this figure. This would encourage the private sector to take more people on and both sectors could hire and fire the right people at will without much risk, thus making everything much more efficient.

    Better for employees, employers and consumers all round and we would get rid of many pointless legal/tribunal jobs in the parasitic employment litigation industry as a free bonus.

    There is of course no chance of Cameron & Clegg doing anything sensible like this. They would rather just appear to be “caring” “fair” & “progressive” while actually damaging all the citizens in the process.

    Appearance and PR is everything to them and being “fair” and “progressive” far more important than actually making genuine progress for all.

  13. Colin D.
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Your article is all common sense.
    The first duty of politicians is to put the interest of their electorate first and foremost. That 2.9% extra EU contribution would probably have kept the Ark Royal and the Harriers flying for years. Just wait until the Argentinians march back in! It seems that the EU is a higher priority than the defence of this nation’s interests.
    Hague has gone weak on Europe, Clegg is European through and through, and on Europe, Cameron now seems to be words rather than deeds. I do not believe Cameron has the guts to stand up to the EU and I don’t believe for a second he will give us a referendum if a revised treaty is required.
    We, the electorate, have been let down so often over the EU disaster that we have neither trust nor faith left in our leaders.
    We need someone to risk ALL to get likeminded MPs to form a pressure group within Parliament such that our leaders are forced to put the good of this nation first and foremost.
    Where is a latter day ‘Churchill’ who can emerge and recover our freedom and democracy from the EU?

  14. Derek Buxton
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with Messrs. Jutson and Tomkinson, the EU came about by stealth, deliberately, because if they told the truth, which Heath certainly knew, we would not accept it. Lies and stealth were always the plan. By now it is almost too late because getting out is more difficult with every concession made. Forget all the talk about reform or repatriating things, it cannot happen, it was designed as such from the start. They hollow out National institutions and take over control, using our own politicians. This is why so many like Cameron will not do anything to upset the present system, they are the system.

  15. Simon Gates
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Despite the WTO there is still a labyrinth nightmare of export and import regulations to be observed and duties to be paid, none of which occurs with inter-euro trade. Selling to countries outside of the EU frequently requires local specialists in tax and legal duties, and often requires employment of staff whose sole purpose is to make selling anything legal.

    Trading with other countries within the EU avoids all of this.

    Whether this makes membership financially worthwhile I do not know, but it cannot be ignored in the argument. It appears to be impossible to enjoy a free trade zone without some submission to the demands of the other members over regulatory equivalence – imagine the fear unrestricted trade with China would bring to our industry.

  16. GJ Wyatt
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    If the conservatives are the party of small government they should get to work on the EU. Years of experience tell us that reform from within is well nigh impossible. Just as the Hydra grows two more heads for each one cut off, so reform of the EU is a Herculean task. The anti-democratic accretion of powers by the EU is a wonder to behold. But the conservatives should mount a full frontal attack, and not leave it to Ukip to snipe from the margins. A plausible threat of secession is needed to rein in EU ambitions and excesses.

  17. Jamess
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    You’re completely right. But do you see any hope that Cameron will stop (let alone reverse) the creeping spread of the EU?

  18. Tim Yates
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    “The danger for the UK is that we will be left with too many expensive and inappropriate rules, reglations, taxes and charges as a result of the EU’s legislative excesses.” ??

    We already have hundreds of useless expensive, invasive and stupid rules and regulations from the EU. Why does the political class not face reality and accept that it will never be changed by the UK and just get out? That would give 10 years work to a load of bureaucrats just repealing all the laws we’ve been subjected to.

  19. Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I have moved from being a Euro-sceptic to believing we are better off out. The EU will never be content with any sort of reduced power or simple agreement. There is no doubt that the ultimate goal is a united states of Europe. Most people know this.

    So the question is – do we want to be a part of a huge European country – or not. That’s the only genuine question that remains.

    I don’t. Everyone else needs to make their own minds up. Then we should have a referendum and get this issue settled so we can move on. One way or another.

  20. Richard M
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    So just how do you make a PM honour an election manifesto EU Referendum pledge? No spending of taxes without the taxpayer endorsing it. Both Tory and Liberal recommended a referendum, and now the taxpayer is being mugged for millions more to the EU. All we get from number 10, is a shameful silence.

  21. Stuart Fairney
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    One might reasonably ask “What additional benefit are UK taxpayers getting in return for the additional near half a billion pounds we now pay to the EU?”

    And as for pointless regulation/crypto-taxes, my industry has been blighted by SPA legiclation which effectively neuters development on or near designated areas and simply jacks up the cost of development many miles away. Regarding a project my company is involved in, we are forced to hand over an additional £19,450 over and above the usual section 106 costs, planning charges, VAT, corporation tax etc etc.

    That incidentally, is a graduate salary, and a graduate I won’t be employing this year as a result.

  22. norman
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    It does feel like we are approaching a tipping point (if we haven’t already passed it with the Lisbon Treaty). We need to dig our heels in now and say ‘enough’ on something, draw a line in the sand and reassert our national supremacy.

    The Party leadership have decided that the budget isn’t that something, let’s hope the next issue will be.

  23. Bob
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    The Tories have done more to deliver us unto the EU than anyone else. The Tories are not connservative.

  24. Rose
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    The most poisonous effects of the EU have been moral and social: because it sucks people in from all over the world to the detriment of its own peoples, and still keeps pushing out its borders, while destroying the borders and civilizations within. Its officialdom and bureaucracy (allow waste and worse-ed), and its chief bequest to Christendom has been cynicism. It is the new Soviet Union, but wthout the order and stability of that sad empire.
    Just compare the streets of Serbia today with the streets of Greece, and then think back to what Nicolas Ridley was sacked for saying: that there would be rioting in the streets and nothing the governments could do about it as they had given away their powers to a central bank. Yet Serbia is so desperate to join she is (stretching the truth ed).

  25. electro-kevin
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    The EU is a stealthy, insidious and undemocratic entity designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats. It is corrupt, impoverishes us and is unstoppable. It already sweeps aside inconvenient referendums and I believe it will eventually lead to tyranny in Europe.

    British politicians are in thrall to it and those who aren’t (such as yourself, Mr Redwood) languish on the periphery of fake parties for fear that to be without would risk even more obscurity.

    There isn’t really much point to British politics anymore.

  26. S Matthews
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    John, what is/are the reason(s) for trying to negotiate a return of powers rather than simply withdrawing from the EU?

  27. Nick
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    The bit I don’t understand is with such logical, economics-based entirely reasonable arguments when the vote arose for the EU budget 546 MPs were for it.

    Not only is the majority of the electorate against raising the EU budget most are wholeheartedly set against being a member at all, yet our servants, our MPs demand that we remain in this (word left out) monstrosity.

    For far too long deliberate decisions were made to ‘fiddle the figures’ and disguise rising benefit dependency, huge unemlpoyment and enforce mass immigration. There was hope the Conservatives would reverse this nonsense, but it seems there is not only no intention of doing so, but also the intent to continue on with the wasteful malevolence of the Labour government, fiddled figures, weasel words and all.

    Mr Redwood, the people of Britain demand a referrendum on our continued membership of Europe.

  28. Andrew Johnson
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    An excellent overview with which I agree. However, you did not mention the unintended (sic) consequences of “free movement of labour, goods and services”. This has allowed almost unregulated immigration measured in millions from any EU country to GB. Mr. Cameron is a strong supporter of Turkey’s EU entry which would see even more millions emigrating Westwards.
    The difficulty Eurorealists like myself have, is that none of the Lab-Lib- Con political party leadership shows the slightest interest in allowing a referendum on the EU or even initiating a public debate on it’s pros and cons.

  29. Alte Fritz
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    One now no longer hears it said that we must be on the EU side of the economic fence. The current argument, or, rather, assertion, is that we need to remain because the EU is our largest trading partner. Does it follow that, going to the logical conclusion, if we withdraw, that trade will fall away?

    Readers of this blog appear to have no confidence that the British political class will ever stand up to the EU. For my own part, in almost forty years of political argument, the abuse heaped on me has never been greater than when arguing with professional politicians against British membership of the EU.

  30. Richard1
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The last para made a very goof point which I didnt realise – that there was no saying ‘no’ to 2.9% becasue it is a majority vote decision. But the Govt could announce now that they will block increases beyond 2014 and a new treaty – and perhaps trade that against a resinstatement of the rebate and exemptions from the more uncompetitive socialist inspired regulation.

  31. Robert
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    There are so many issues with which you seem to be at odds with the current leadership of the Conservative Party. The EU is an obvious one. Your summary of our position is logical and simple but does not explain why the Conservative Party which should know better has been the main driver over the years in our further integration into this evil and corrupt organisation. Surely they must have known what we were getting into?

    You are too kind to Cameron to suggest that it was majority voting that stopped him getting a zero increase to the EU budget. There was never any chance of him changing that decision. It was his total ignorance of the way the EU works and the bad advice he must have received from the civil servants and others, that he has been made to look so stupid over this issue. To come back flourishing his laurels just makes him look a bigger fool.

    I understand it is difficult for you to openly critcise the leadership of your party, and that in many ways it serves the cause of true conservatism that you stay attached to the party. However, the party support for the EU and all it’s damaging regulation and it’s attachment to the global warming scam is costing the country dear.

    How do you propose to convince them that we are better off out of the EU and to actually get them to take us out?

  32. Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The EU is now a substantially smaller proportion of the world economy than it was immediately after we joined. This is because, although it has greatly expanded in area its economy has more than “compensated” for that apparent success by its own failure. Even the EU “Enterprise” Commissioner is on record as saying that pointless regualtions cost 5.5% of the continent’s economy – equivalent to costing £80 billion for the UK. There is no economic, social or political argument whatsoever for enduring this strangulation & we should leave.

  33. The Talking Clock
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Well, while many of your readers will no doubt agree – myself included – with every word you say and applaud the way you say it…

    …may I ask if this is the opening salvo in a backbench movement to actually do something about it?

    I’m not sure what needs to come first – (a) a Private Members Bill or (b) a Conservative Party leadership challenge.

    But I believe Carswell (national hero) was working on (a)…

    …and you may as well start collectively instigating (b) because Cameron’s reputation – and Hague’s – lie in complete tatters with those opposed to the EU dictatorship; especially after the spineless surrender on the budget which cost British taxpayers another half a billion pounds at the end of last week.

  34. AndyLeeds
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Good article. Cameron is part of a political elite which is out of touch with its own people, and I don’t mean just here but across Europe as a whole. I have come to see the ‘European Project’ as merely the construction of a (authoritarian ed) State of which we should have no part. It is doing untold damage to our country not only economically, but also to our laws and traditions.

    The Euro may have been the EU’s ‘high water mark’ but you have to feel sorry for the people of Greece (a country I know well and where I partly live) who are seeing their economy destroyed all because their political class wanted to look big and joined the damned Euro. I say let us leave and come to a suitable arrangement with the Europeans. I fear in the long run it will break up probably by exploding into a bloody war. Lets have no part of that.

  35. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, Havent you said at some previous date “would you consider opening a bank account with your neighbour because that is what we have done with Brussels”?
    I think I quote you correctly but in my view Peter Hitchen on Any Questions said it for Britain’s majority. We cant afford it and we shouldnt be in it. Why are we denied a referendum one has to ask?

  36. Iain Gill
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Lots to be learnt from Switzerland, whether we are in or out many of their policies would make sense for us

  37. Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Great article – I really need to read more post of this standard

  38. Bazman
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that whenever you go to France or Germany they always look, despite forever looking into the abyss, more advanced and human countries than the UK. At least for their own citizens. Not subjects. Anti European sentiment is often just a cover for the never ending race to the bottom, put forward by people who will never have to go there. There is often about as much ‘common sense’ in these arguments as towing Britain to a better climate.
    Tuscany Darling! Marvellous!

  39. Norman Dee
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Yes John we know all this, but you are the man in place to make a start on changing it, all we can do, those that comment and follow, is moan and complain and feel completely powerless, and as we know the greater majority of the public are kept in the dark. Mainly by the BBC, but a lot of the MSM do the same, so it’s down to you, all we can do is vote, you have that, lets start seeing some heat and light in the HoP. You get the party to make enough real promises and you will get the electorate behind you. They may not have won any seats but there is no doubting that UKIP sucked enough votes away to make a difference. You will at least get those votes back, and properly informed you will get some labour votes back as well.
    Please do something ! before we disapear over the precipice with the rest of the facist Comission for Europe.

  40. Tim Robson
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    John

    Spot on. I’ve had many years of being Euro sceptic but I find that even with a Euro sceptic PM, the European rachet keeps being cranked in the integration direction.
    This budget nonsense (it should have been a cut not an increase in any sane world) is finally the time I say – “enough – in or out”.

    UKIP are my friends here – what about the Tories (you’re in power aren’t you?)

  41. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    It might be a mistake to suppose that British views of this project are radically different from those of people in other countries. The disease of eurofederalism has infected all of the European populations to some degree, but in almost all countries its incidence is far higher in the upper echelons than among the masses, which seem to have some kind of natural resistance. It is of course endemic in the senior levels of all three of the main UK political parties, including the Conservative party – at least since the resignation of Eden every Conservative Prime Minister has been more or less seriously infected with the disease except possibly one, and only one of them was ever cured.

  42. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    The history of the EU teaches us that the UK can huff and puff as much as it likes but it gets us nowhere; even apparent gains prove to be illusory or short term. Margaret Thatcher recognised that, eventually.

    The only conceivable way the UK will be able to significantly move the rest of the EU to our way of thinking will be so say that if we do not get what we want we will walk out. And the only way the rest of the EU will take any notice will be if we demonstrably demonstrate we have done all the preparatory work to indeed walk out.

    And, of course, having done all that preparatory work we might as well do ourselves a favour and walk out anyway.

    A free-trade Commonwealth awaits us.

    And not only can we look forward to a better economic future but we will once again be able to live under a democracy.

  43. sjb
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    JR wrote: “The whole EU project has always been sold to the British people in terms of selling more goods, creating more jobs and having access to the wider EU economy.”

    With respect, peace and security were key selling points, too. The following extract is reproduced from the Conservative Party’s 1975 Referendum Leaflet.

    “(a) Peace in Europe

    European unity has helped to guarantee peace in Europe for 30 years.

    Since the war the gathering process of European unity has contributed substantially to peace in Europe. This period is in marked contrast to the previous 30 years which spanned two terrible world wars that had their origins in Europe and in the rivalries of European nation states. One of the cardinal achievements of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), established in 1951, was that it made virtually impossible war between France and Germany. Indeed, this was one of the explicit objectives of the 1950 Schuman Plan which laid the basis for the establishment of the ECSC. By binding together the nations of Western Europe in peaceful and fruitful partnership the founding fathers of the present European Community made their most important contribution to the peace of Europe and of the world.

    (b) Secure Food Supplies

    Membership of the Community helps to provide us with secure food supplies at relatively stable prices.

    In a world in which there is only about three weeks’ supply of grain in store and at a time when both political and climatic conditions are more uncertain than for a long while past, secure food supplies are of great importance to Britain. We in this country have to import about half of all our food; and of that which we produce ourselves, we depend for about half on imported feedstuffs, fertilisers and fuel. The rest of the Community with its high levels of self-sufficiency for nearly all the temperate foodstuffs is now our most reliable source of supply. It may not always provide us with the very cheapest food available at any given time, but recent experience has shown how dramatically world food prices can fluctuate above and below Community levels, and how reliance on world supplies can leave us with shortages in time of need. It is therefore far better for us to rely on secure food supplies from our Community partners than to gamble on insecure supplies from the volatile world market. As Mr. Peart has said, “it would be irresponsible … to plan for the future other than on the assumption that the general level of world food prices is likely to be higher than in the past, with the strong possibility of sharp fluctuations in both availability and price”. (Hansard, 9 April 1975. Col. 1245.)”

  44. Boudicca
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    The EU is like a tiger and successive UK governments have held onto its tail, hoping to change its direction. Cameron won’t let go because he fears what the tiger will do to his premiership, far more than he fears what the British electorate will do.

    The UK gets very, very little from the EU in return for the billions we pour into it. Retaining the British contribution would go a very long way to solving our deficit problem; and leaving the EU would restore our sovereignty and independence allowing us to return to our historic role as the first global trading nation.

    Our future economic prosperity lies with the emerging economies; India, China, Brazil and others – not with a debt-ridden, socialist, bureaucratic and anti-democratic cabal in Brussels. We should be exploiting our historic ties with the Anglo-Commonwealth and India and rebuild an alliance of free, English-speaking peoples.

    Successive governments, since Major, have denied the British people a Referendum on the EU because they fear the result. Cameron is no different. He is an EU stooge – prepared to sacrifice British interests in order to appease the Politburo. That is why I am an ex-Conservative and voted UKIP in the General Election. There will be many more next time.

    We are waiting for our first UKIP MPs. It would be good if those Conservatives who know that the EU is bad for Britain were to make the change the country needs. How about it John?

  45. sjb
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    In addition to the Conservative Party’s 1975 referendum literature, HMG’s leaflet that (I think) was delivered to every household stated:

    “The aims of the Common Market are:

    * To bring together the peoples of Europe.

    * To raise living standards and improve working conditions.

    * To promote growth and boost world trade.

    * To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.

    * To help maintain peace and freedom.”

    Source: Page 5 of the [Labour] Government’s 1975 Referendum pamphlet

    So, rather more than just goods, jobs, and access to the EU market.

  46. Posted October 31, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    But Cameron won’t do anything.
    As my wife says “Cameron’s not a ‘real’ man.”

    As I explained in my own blog, her idea of a real man is one who will do his very best never to be beaten by a woman. One who would want to show a woman who had previously done the same job that he could do it far better and get better results.

    She didn’t need to mention Margaret Thatcher!

  47. Peter T
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    At last a senior politician who has a good grasp of where we stand in the EU and is able to articulate the difference between the UK and Continental Europe. That the people of this country have never had an opportunity to approve anything other than a Common Market and have little democratic input available to them is a travesty particularly as none of the other members have anything like our history of stable government. As a Conservative I have always placed my trust in my Party to uphold the status and soveregnty of this land but I am getting more than a little concerned that this is not the priority it should be. David Cameron needs to realise that after his previous “cast iron” promise he can ill afford to make the same mistake twice.

  48. Robert George
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I have more faith in the future of porcine aviation than in the slightest possibility that Cameron for all his blabber about the Big Society will give the British people any opportunity to get out of the EU jail.

    But I am not particularly worried about it, we saw one centrally planned socialist experiment fall apart in Eastern Europe twenty years ago. The same will happen to the Western European Socialist experiment for exactly the same reasons, a vast bureaucracy directed by an out of touch, self-aggrandising political class.

    The EU will fall apart under the weight of its own problems and so will the UK, once England is shot of the Europeans and the Celts England will thrive as never before.

  49. Alan
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Many Eurosceptics do not seem to be able to get over the fact that they lost when the question of whether or not to join the EU was put to the people. Their inability to accept this leads them to call for the vote to be held again because they just can’t believe the answer. But it was real; they are not going to wake up and find it was all a dream. We are in the EU and we will stay in the EU. I think any serious politician should accept that as part of the background against which they they have to work.

    I’m not sure it is accurate to say that the EU started to stagnate shortly after the UK joined. It seems to have been doing reasonably well since then, and we have done better since joining. I think widening the EU, unifying Germany, and even creating the euro were all beneficial to us. Of course it could all just collapse and fall apart now, but that is not really likely. I think the EU is here to stay and we should play our part in ensuring that it works well, and that responsible UK politicians should work towards that.

  50. Bill
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    You say

    ‘The whole EU project has always been sold to the British people in terms of selling more goods, creating more jobs and having access to the wider EU economy…’

    but I remember watching the Oxford Union debate on TV just before the referendum. To my surprise Ted Heath argued in a passionate speech for the EU on the grounds that war had destroyed too many lives in Europe and the EU would bring permanent peace to our Continent. The same argument was used by Chancellor Kohl who had, I believe, lost a brother in WW2. That is why I voted for the EU. I did not understand the economic arguments which, as some commentators said, appeared to cancel each other out.

  51. Jose
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    What an excellent start to the week, a good dig at the EU!
    Agree with most of what you say about this beaurocratic nightmare. It appears to me that we seem to derive more pain than benefit from being fully paid up members.

    I should like to know exactly what benefits we derive from being members and the consequent costs. I suspect that we are paying for a ‘political project’ of yesteryear with little or no relevance to Joe public of today; witness the Parliament moving to Strasbourg!

    Get us a referendum and let’s sort out our own destiny.

  52. NickW
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The political elite of Europe wanted to make sure that Europe was never ruled by a dictatorship again.

    So they formed a Dictatorship to prevent that from happening.

  53. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, it’s a nice article, but it illustrates the British mindset of “us” (UK) and them (EU).
    The UK often complains getting a bad deal, but the UK losing its industrial base was never due to the EU. Why did e.g. British Leyland disappear while most continental car manufacturers (even SAAB) somehow survived?
    The UK could align with the northern part of the EU (home to some of the most competitive countries worldwide in the ranking of the world Economic Forum). However, it prefers to expend its energy in “repatriating powers” or even leave the EU.
    I just wonder, whether, in a few decades, the British people will again feel having been sold an idea that didn’t work. Some of the British problems might be much more of a national nature, while the EU serves as an easy scapegoat.

  54. electro-kevin
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Further to my last comment it seems that Mr Cameron is yielding to the EU. This must be disappointing for many. Time for the Tory Eurosceptics to make their mark appears to be running out.

  55. lola
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. Now make it happen.

  56. Markj
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    A late reply on this…. David Cameron is digging a grave for himself and the Conservative party by pandering to the EU much like Labour did. He claims to be “Eurosceptic” howver his actions do not back up this claim. He risks alienating large parts of the Conservative support and splitting the party in two. William Hague is no better, once upon a time not so long ago being vocally against the EU and Lisbon Treaty, now caving into their demands and supporting a bloated EU Foreign service.

    As far as I and many others can see this Conservative Coalition Government is no better than Labour when dealing with the issue of the EU, and this seriously needs to be addressed. Anger is running high that we in the UK are forced to tighten our belts whilst the EU continues to spend money like water without the need to spend what they already get more efficiently. Instead they arrogantly insist on an increase that no member state can afford at prsent.

    Do David and William actually understand and acknowledge the desire (and need) for a referendum?

  57. Little Black Censored
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    … it needs to negotiate a way out from the more damaging measures for itself.
    You should have stopped after the word “out”.

  58. Jan
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness we didn’t join the euro. At all costs we must keep financial independence.

  59. Posted November 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    John,
    I seem to remember that the referendum in 1975 was on the subject of Wilson’s ‘Renegotiated’ terms.So the question put to the Great British People was, ‘Do you agree with the terms renegotiated by this (Labour) Government’. The answer,of course,had to be ‘Yes’ A fixed question from a rather dodgy politician. Then the same Politicians have the nerve to say that the general public is apathetic towards them.

  60. Nick
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t there laws for treason?

  61. eddyh
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I regret that I was one who voted for the common market in 1976. I consider that I and the British people were lied to by Edward Heath and have continued to be lied to by every subsequent government.
    The rationale for the EU wss to prevent war in Europe. This is fighting the last but one, or two or three wars. The true reason for the EUSSR is to embed socialism.
    However, I have no faith that our political masters will ever allow the people to decide to withdraw from the EU, so the only way forward is a Tea Party in the UK to force the issue.
    A;ternatively, I gather that if England voted to leave the UK, we would be automatically out of the EU. An idea that has several merits.

  62. Andrew Johnson
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    To all those who have contributed positive posts to remaining in the EU I pose the following. Why have you described the benefits in such general terms? If the EU is as beneficial to the UK as you believe it is, then could you give us some specific examples or links to them and audited cost benefit analysis?
    You may have a little difficulty here, because as you know, the EU acounts have not been signed of by the auditors for over a decade!
    For me, the pro EU argument comes down to this. If it really is as good as its supporters say, what have you got to lose by having a full public debate, followed by a referendum? The result would then settle the matter.

  63. dan
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    # lolaon 01 Nov 2010 at 12:07 pm
    Excellent post. Now make it happen.


    Thats the part the Redwoods, Carswells, Cash and Hannans of the political world havent shown any willingness to bring about…

  64. sjb
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    @Andrew

    “For the second year running the EU annual accounts have received a clean bill of health from the external auditors….”
    http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/1690&format=HTML&aged=0&lan
    Contrast with the accounts of the DWP, the UK’s largest spending department.

    The greatest benefit to the UK is peace. I don’t know how the bean counters calculate this in monetary terms but the treasure expended by Britain in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns runs into billions. So imagine how much another war on the European continent involving the big powers would have cost. Another tremendous achievement is how former Iron Curtain totalitarian countries such as Czech Republic and Poland came into the EU family. Perhaps if they had not we might have seen ethnic cleansing a la Milosevic.

    The single market is one achievement that may even be endorsed by the eurosceptics 🙂

    Reply: It was not the EU that brought on the peace. France would not have invaded Germsany if there had been no EU. I seem to remember the US army stayed in Wwestern Europe for a long time to guarantee it all as well. That was not the result of EU action.

  65. Andrew Gately
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    One good thing about Europe is that is offers UK citizens protection from the UK government.

    I am particularly disappointed that the Conservative party seem comfortable in the decision of the previous government to steal Northern Rock shareholders shares, flog them on and pocket the cash.

  • 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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