The balance of power

 

               For centuries England and the Uk has stood against any one power dominating the continent. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the superpower was Spain. England supported the Dutch rebellion and established the supremacy of her navy, protecting these islands from invasion. The Protestant revolt fractured the power of the Habsburgs, who found it difficult to forge a union out of Iberia and the Holy Roman Empire, the wider Germany.

               In the later seventeenth century and the eighteenth century England stood against French imperialism. We constructed alliances of the smaller states who resented the idea of French  control. We fought lop sided wars,with the superior English navy trying to check the progress of the all conquering French army. Finally England forged an army of heroes, which fought its way up through the Iberian Peninsula to Paris. This same army had to finish the job at Waterloo, after  the victors mishandled Napoleon again.

            In the twentieth century even more blood and treasure was spent to prevent German domination of the continent. All these wars centred around the low countries. There has been much Flanders mud on British military boots over the centuries. The theory stood that England should never allow Belgium and Holland to fall under the control of a large and potentially hostile power.

             From 1972 onwards UK foreign policy has turned this round. It has backed plans to create a single governing force on the continent. Instead of playing off one great power against another, or one superpower against an alliance of smaller ones, the UK foreign office has promoted a scheme for bureaucracts and a proto Parliament to exercise more authority across a united Europe. EFTA, the rump of the old Protestant alliances,  was summarily dismissed.

          In the earlier days some remants of the divide and rule approach to Europe was incorporated.  Some were  reassured to learn that the UK, by being round the table, could get its way by exploiting the disagreements and rifts between the various continental countries.

           In more recent years all such pretence has been largely abandoned. The UK has been told by the foreign affairs establishment to go along with the plans emerging from Brussels. The double speak says we have to be in the EU to have influence, yet having influence usually means going along with whatever the latest EU fashion is in excessive government and more regulation.

          It is true we should worry less today about a large power controlling the low countries. Such a development will not lead to any direct threat to ourselves, as the emerging power or powers on the continent will not have military aims against the UK.  We should ask ourselves why there has been such a dramatic lurch in the UK’s position.

        We should  note that endless briefings have told us “Europe is going our way”. They meant by this it was moving to an association of sovereign states who wish to trade with each other and be friends with each other, promoting more competition and freer commerce. This is at best a monumental misreading of what has been happening, and at worst is an attempt to deceive.

         The truth was expressed in  the Treaty of Rome. It was no simple prospectus for a Common Market, as described by the political establishment of all three main parties. It was always a guide to ever closer union, the first steps on the long road to a United States of Europe. By ignoring it at first, then joining it later, the Uk has ended with the one thing it always said it wished to avoid – a single power on the continent with power over us. Successive governments have given it more powers in an attempt to humour it. The long retreat from the Common Market has proceeded through Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. Veto after veto has been surrendered, and with it  the capacity for effective self government in many areas.

                  It is time to be honest. It is time to reappaise. It is time to say what we want.

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57 Comments

  1. norman
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    To be fair many people have been being honest about where the EU will ultimately take us but they have been derided and written off variously as, in the words of one leading politician, fruitcakes, little Englanders and xenophobes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Derided mainly by many politicians the Bair/Heathites /Shirley Williams types in particular and the BBC, funded by the people under threat of prison and often indirectly by the EU I understand.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I so much agree with the above.
    China went through the same process, I think. The various powers fought a war and eventually the strongest won. Meanwhile Japan stayed out and formed its own island civilization And what a civilization that was too.
    I reckon that we have a lot to offer the whole world. We are truly democratic (or were and we believe deeply in equality, fairness and honesty (or we did once). We have an outstanding political system (or we did once). We also have a lot of eccentrics who are not content and who restlessly invent stuff.
    By simply rolling over and giving up we risk all this.
    The Europeans simply do not have the same attitude. I live alongside them – they have totally different values to us.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      “Meanwhile Japan stayed out and formed its own island civilization And what a civilization that was too.”

      Until the 1960’s Japan was a poor country used by the US for cheap manufacture, much like modern day China.

      “We are truly democratic”

      We are one of the few developed countries that use the First Past the Post election system. Most other developed countries use the much fairer Proportional Representation. Given that we also have an unelected upper house we have a long way to go before becoming truly democratic.

      “We also have a lot of eccentrics who are not content and who restlessly invent stuff.”

      No we don’t; that’s why we have so few exports. Germany is the main innovator in Europe.

      • rose
        Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        The Japanese have a very good diet, and eat a lot of fish, three times a day for many of them. When we were at our most inventive, energetic, and independent, we had a lot of fish too – herring three times a day for many poor families. Fish oil is good for the brain, as well as other things. But our fish were treacherously given away, and now they are an expensive luxury.

        The Japanese have kept their national identity, as well as their inventiveness, and high standards of engineering (look at the contrast between their trains and the Chinese), besides their civilized ways of eating, and living in families. The terrifying setbacks they have endured – nuclear bombs, and earthquakes with fires and and great waves coming in their wake, have not been experienced to quite the same degree by the Germans. The two nations have much in common though. And both built themselves up meticulously and formidably, after humiliating defeat, near starvation, and destruction. The interesting thing about that though is that the Americans arranged the conditions for the Japanese to recover, including hanging on to the Imperial Family and the unintelligible alphabet, both of which in the long term have turned out to their advantage; and we set in place very good labour laws etc to enable the Germans to get ahead of us in the sixties. A favour we didn’t do ourselves.

        Perhaps our greatest misfortune has been not to have enough of it, terrible and ungrateful though that must sound. Our easy life has also attracted far too many people from abroad.

        • rose
          Posted July 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          PS the other advantage the Japanese have is that they aren’t carbound. The Chinese could go the American way and lose their fitness.

          • rose
            Posted July 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            The Japanese don’t have daft health and safety regs either, only sensible ones. So dogs are welcome, and food is prepared and stored the traditonal way. They must be the most hygienic people in the world too.

  3. Jose
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    All 3 parties have completely misrepresented our position vis vis the EU. The nonsense spouted about us having to be at the table to exert our influence has produced nothing of benefit to the UK in nearly 40 years of membership of this FrancoGerman collaboration. These 2 countries will always view it as ‘their’ toy to do with as they chose and the sooner we accept that we will not break this alliance the better for us; hopefully this dawns on your colleagues before they give up all of our veto ability.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The EU will end in tears, not only for the UK, but for many other countries when their populations eventually realise what they have already had to give up, and what more they still need to give up, to satisfy complete political union.

    The problem after realisation will be difficult to forsee, as the very core of each countries charecter and make up will have been altered considerably by the influx of uncontrolled movement of millions of people championed during the last couple of decades.

  5. Alison Granger
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Probably the best summing up of the situation I’ve seen. As for what we want that’s simple – we want out, now.
    We would lose nothing except a mountain or useless regulations, bureaucratic interference and massive membership fees. We would gain freedom, at least from foreign, unelected officials if not our own.

  6. AndyC71
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I want this country to be an independent sovereign nation once more, able to co-operate with its neighbours where desirable and take independent action where necessary.

    But it’s hard to see how voting Conservative is going to achieve that, when MPs who speak good sense on the subject – like yourself – continue in practice to go along with the integrationist party line. If 30 or so Conservative MPs were to stand up and force the issue, then the political weather would change very rapidly.

    A good start would be a bill that properly asserted the primacy of Westminster legislation over that coming from anywhere else, as was promised prior to the last election. I know you didn’t support the government’s con act in that regard Mr Redwood, but to be frank the opposition to it was all talk.

    • norman
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Thirty or so Conservative MPs do regularly stand up for Britain and rebel against the party whip ut 30 out of 650 is hardly going to make Cameron / Miliband / Clegg lose any sleep.

      The only way the 30 could make trouble would be to enter open revolt and side with Labour on non-EU issues but then the country isn’t in a place where that would help matters only make them far worse.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      “I want this country to be an independent sovereign nation once more, able to co-operate with its neighbours where desirable and take independent action where necessary.”

      Why? Independent action does not mean righteous or wise.

      Also do you suppose that so many MPs support integration because it’s actually good for the country.

  7. NickW
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    What do we want?

    We want to have restored to us the power to determine our own destiny.

    We want the power to remove from office politicians who have become so power crazed that they cannot understand, (or don’t care about) the consequences of breaking their own Treaty Law.

    We want the power to hold our Government to account (whether here or in Brussels) when it gets things wrong through those many human imperfections which have afflicted Governments from the beginning of time.

    We want to be free.

  8. Julian White
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “The double speak says we have to be in the EU to have influence, yet having influence usually means going along with whatever the latest EU fashion is in excessive government and more regulation.”

    The policy of this Government should remain that of John Major, and fortunately it does. I seem to recall that for example Maastricht was a Treaty heavily weighted in Britain’s favour. Not only re-affirming the British rebate, but influencing heavily the three pillar approach of the Union, and securing a series of opt-outs for Britain in areas as wide as the Social Chapter and the Euro, whilst maintaining our influence in setting such policies.

    Major wanted a widening and not deepening for a good reason, it was deliberately meant to reform the European Union into one which has to tolerate different speeds given the size, and allows the UK to maintain an influence in the decision-making process.

    We could leave every major organisation in the world, whether it be the UN, the EU or NATO, and we’d save a considerable sum. We could scrap aid budgets and cut back on our military spending. But I don’t think Conservatism lies in that direction, I think Conservatism for this country should mean fighting to improve the institutions and partnerships that we are in and showing that we believe our businesses and culture are the best in Europe and that as a nation, we want our values heard around the world, using whatever platform we can to do so.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      What planet are you on? Reform from within? Tried, tried and failed, as it always will.

      The EU cannot be reformed from within as the leading players do not recognise the need for reform. In their eyes it is the UK that needs to change, and over time that is exactly what is happening – endless reams of law enacted in Britain, but originating from a foreign power on the continent; a slow motion revolution that most of us don’t want but none of us can halt – as long as we vote Labour, Lib Dem or Conservative.

      The French and the Germans decide EU policy. They do not care what the UK wants or says and many other EU states openly deride the UK for what they view as our endless whingeing.

      Now it was a long time ago, but I remember Maastrict as opening the way for economic and monetary union. It was a radical change to the European Economic Community and should have required a referendum to ratify it, because of the fundamental changes it made to the way the UK is governed. I also remember the noble efforts of the Maastrict rebels for doing their utmost to scupper this nonsense, but alas, like today, there were too few of them.

      At least Maastrict led to the eventual formation of UKIP, and I again urge anyone and everyone who will listen to vote for them whenever you get the chance.

      Reply: UKIP has damaged the Eurosceptic cause and has never got anywhere near winning a Westminster seat, not even when they fought against the Speaker with none of the main parties putting up candidates!
      It is I and my Eurosceptic colleagues who vote against Euro measures in Parliament. There is no single UKIP MP to help us. Get real, understand the politics of the problem. We are not going to join UKIP – there is nothing to join, no MPs, no b ig bloc of Westminster votes. We stood as Eurosceptic Conservatives and we will serve as such.

      • Julian White
        Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        What planet are you on? Reform from within? Tried, tried and failed, as it always will.

        I have never actually seen a debate where so many of those on one side resort to abuse with quite such regularity. I don’t agree with John Redwood, but even he I note is being attacked and insulted by Euro-sceptics by some on this blog.

        With regards to your other comments:

        Yes, the EU can be reformed from within. It is a long process, but much reform has taken place, especially with regards to CAP.

        The comments about only France and Germany deciding EU policy aren’t true that I’ve seen, reverting back to the Major years since we are referring to Maastricht, much of the running on the structure of the EU was made by the Netherlands and the UK. Very many issues in EU summits over recent decades have seen different coalitions of countries negotiating with each other, rarely is it the same bloc against another.

        I’m not sure I understand why the French and Germans wouldn’t care about the UK position, politicians from both those countries have spent much time over the last twenty years negotiating closely and on friendly terms with the British, sometimes wanting the country to join certain projects, sometimes wanting British support for their projects.

        Major had a mandate on Maastricht at the 1992 General Election, it was in the manifesto and his party obtained more votes than any other party before or since at that General Election. Major opted out of monetary union. The other countries were likely to want a single currency, so it made sense for Major to insist on being part of those negotiations, whilst saying firmly he didn’t think Britain should or would join.

        As for UKIP, I agree with Mr Redwood, they’re gaining low levels of electoral support, whilst the parties that support our membership of the EU are gaining around 90% of the vote in General Elections.

        • Jon Burgess
          Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

          Hardly what I would call abuse – you need to grow a thicker skin.

          I stand by what I said – reform of the EU from within demands that those within the EU see the need for reform and then do something about it. I see no evidence of this. All I see are calls for bigger budgets and greater subsidies, demands for greater integration, endemic corruption, and the continuation of a policy of supporting the Euro at any cost (which is delaying the inevitable financial catastrophe, and magnifying its impact).

          If you do not believe that EU policy is devised through a Franco German prism, then that’s your choice. If you don’t believe that the CAP was devised for the benefit of French farmers, then again, that’s your choice.

          I don’t doubt French, German and British politicians get along. Why wouldn’t they? They are all on the same gravy train. But most British politicians are out of step with the majority of the British electorate on the EU, but choose to believe they know better.

          Mr Redwood is ‘getting a hard time’, because I and some others on this blog fail to see how his remaining a eurosceptic Conservative gets us any closer to leaving the EU, something Mr Redwood professes to want – and we wish to expose the impotency of the Tory eurosceptic position.

          Something different needs to happen, some other new right wing political movement needs to break away from the Tory straight jacket, or the eurosceptic Tories need to leave and join UKIP. I would have liked Mr Redwood to put his desire to leave the EU above his current party and recognise that this is a time for a true statesman. I was obviously wrong about that.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        I can’t agree that UKIP has damaged the Eurosceptic cause – they are the only party that says out loud that they wish to do what you want – leave the EU. How is it damaging to say that and offer the electorate a choice denied them by your party?

        And it’s you that needs to get real here – being a Tory Eurosceptic has got you no further in your aim of leaving the EU, or have I missed something in the last 40 years? Yes, you were very effective on the Euro debate, which is why people will follow your lead.

        We need statesmen (and women) on this issue – not career party politicians who see no further than toeing the party line. I’m sorry to have to say this, but maybe I’ve misjudged you and what I thought you stood for.

        Reply: I stand for change to our relationship with the EU so we can be self governing in all important respects again. UKIP’s simple mantra of leave tomorrow gets them no seats, so how does that help?

  9. NickW
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    If we view the EU as a malevolent superpower in the making, their refusal to curtail their budgetary demands can be interpreted in a different light.

    Armies cost money, and if the EU has taken away the money from all the Sovereign States in order to form its own army and hugely expensive foreign policy unit, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

    We aren’t alone in this; there are a whole host of other Sovereign States who may not wish to be crushed under the jackboot either.

    I wonder what the European army uniform will look like?

  10. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Interesting to read history through English eyes instead of Dutch eyes (both having their own bias).
    The sentence “a single power on the continent with power over us” is most revealing to me of the English mindset: An Englishman cannot see that he is actually part of that single power. See how a Pole ( e.g. prime-minister Tusk) can, even though Poland only joined the EU in 2004.
    Here the separation starts. Why? Is it being an island? Is it having recently been an empire? A different view on democracy? Let the UK define its more optimal relationship with or within the EU.

    • Chris
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      The simple answer is that we don’t want to be ruled by foreigners. Why should we? What about ruling ourselves, like we used to? Why should every country have to submit to Brussels, like some weak-kneed, gutless, spineless animal? Why should any country think that a foreign ruler is better than its own?
      Many people….and countries…. seem incredibly casual about placing themselves on the altar of subservience. Is it because they have no confidence in their abilities as a nation and need someone to hold their hand?

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      The simple answer is that no one asked the British people if they wanted to be governed by an unelected single power on the continent. It may suit you and your countrymen, but you haven’t been asked either and in your case you clearly don’t care. We do.

    • JimF
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      We will wait to see whether a German sees himself as European first or German first when he realises that he is working hard at 60 something to pay the pension of a younger Greek. You think he will shrug his shoulders and say it’s all ok in the cause of a greater Europe?

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      What you are missing is that the British people are not being given the option to determine their own future, as the main political parties all support UK membership of the EU. Even when all these parties guaranteed a referendum on the transfer of additional powers to the EU, they reneged on this when the opportunity arose.

      Fringe parties exist whose aim is to leave the EU, and there are notable MPs who support leaving the EU (such as our host) but they really get little or no publicity on state media, other than to be paraded as right wing extremists in left biased interviews and political TV shows.

      Unfortunately enough tribal voters trot out at election time to vote for their candidate – so a Labour or Conservative majority is always likely, and now both the Conservatives and Labour get along with the Lib Dems, we have the depressing prospect of coalition government if no one wins an overall majority.

      Its enough to make you want to emigrate.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      The reason is simple, we are a nation of idiots and xenophobes.

      Unfortunately being an island nation means we have a long history of being independent, rather than most European nations who were conquered or repeatedly fought over their borders. This has lead to a great hatred among many people towards any authority other than our own elected dictatorship.

      At present many people want the UK’s relationship with the EU to be nothing, as they are unwilling to accept that the UK is no longer an empire and that complete independence from the world is no longer viable. Hopefully a stronger EU presence will force the UK to grow up and make the people accept that we are not the centre of the world.

  11. backofanenvelope
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we have much to worry about. The French and the Germans will make a complete b***s of the whole thing. There is an enormous reservoir of dislike of both nations throughout the EU.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    A very good analysis. In the early 1970s I suspect the change was driven, in part at least if not primarily, by fear of economic isolation and exclusion from EU markets. At the time, IIRC, EU markets were quite heavily protected by external tariffs while the internal market powered ahead on much reduced internal tariffs. Several multinationals noted this, resulting in a strong gravitational pull of investment to the new Europe. The creation of Ford of Europe in the late 1960s was an example of this trend. Back then the £ was relatively strong against continental currencies and was at the start of its long decline. Presumably these economic considerations influenced thinking at the time.

  13. Electro-Kevin
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Emerging powers on the continent won’t have military aims against our country for one simple reason:

    We’ve already surrendered.

  14. John
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    John, we’re all thinking what you’re thinking. Now, how to take advantage of the zeitgeist?

    Either the Conservative or UKIP parties need to change leader(ship).

    Nigel Farage has TV-friendly, Ken Clarke style Charisma and ‘bottom’ but is too tainted now by a perception of running a personal fiefdom.

    Sadly, too many Conservative MPs are in thrall to the blue labour/Green Conservative ‘centre ground’ and will not rock the boat (in their eyes).

    Seems to me the only logical solution is for the true Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to form a new joint party with UKIP. Hopefully a Statesman will be among you, who will demonstrably put the Country first, and put the petty personal politicing to one side for a parliamentary term or 2.

    I would be more than happy to provide a very discrete venue in the Country (Surrey), and refreshments for such discussions!

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      I keep suggesting this too, but Mr Redwood just doesn’t seem to be up for it.

      Unfortunately there are only a handful of MPs with the necessary clout, but all seem too content with baying from the backbenches (and changing nothing) rather than risking all by trying to create something new we would support.

  15. Liz
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    It has always been the aims of France and Germany to dominate Europe and having failed militarily over the centuries they are succeeding through the European Union. Unless governments face that fact they will forever be fooling themselves that Britain has any “influence” whatsoever in the EU. Has one single major policy, Common Agriculturare, Fishery etc. where we have lost out hugely, but benefit France and Germany, been changed in the slighted degree for our benefit?
    The country at large do recognise the facts but ministers get beguiled by the EU as soon as they enter office – feeling important by attending,, but not influencing, endless summits is more important to them than representing and fighting for their constituents at home. To be honest I don’t think any minister since Margaret Thatcher has done anything other than roll over in the face of EU demands. If Britian does have any influence it is certainly never used. Now they are using Nick Clegg and the LibDems as an excuse for continuing passivity although it is doubtful if even all LibDem supporters are as fanatically pro EU as Clegg.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Common Agriculture and Fishery benefit Spain far more than Germany. Does this mean that Spain also has a large amount of influence in the EU?

  16. forthurst
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    An excellent case for the replacement of PPE with Modern History as a training for budding politicians; perhaps, then they would be less surprised when their schemes for the ‘greater good’ spectacularly backfire.

    To what extent were the French and their lingua franca of diplomacy, chastened by the Franco-Prussian war in which we were not involved, responsible for putting together the alliances that drew us into WWI and WWII?

    No doubt the French believe that grasping Germany firmly to their bosom, they can prevent their stronger adversary harming them, but why should we necessarily agree to compromise our own future to facilitate this?

    Is it not the case that there are ‘internationalists’ at work here whose first priority is not our future welfare but achieving the prior ambitions of the Comintern to create a monstrous dictatorship ruled by the new Nomenklatura (eletes) for their own benefit and those of their bankster chums?

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Our alliance with Belgium to prevent France conquering it drew us into World War 1 and necessity drew us into World War 2. All history shows you is that all bad decisions seemed prudent at the time.

  17. a-tracy
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered which language was to take precedence in the United States of Europe? Which Countries’ Human Rights Act have we all adopted and which Country already had a working time directive on the same rules we have now?

    • uanime5
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Originally the common language was French until the UK joined and they moved towards English.

      We haven’t adopted any country’s Human Rights Act, we made our own.

      The Working Time Directive applies to all EU countries so it applies to all of them. Though the UK is the only country where you can opt out of the 48 hour working week.

  18. A David H
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Whether we can assume that the EU would not have military (or indeed economic) aims against a separate UK, GB or maybe just England, I do not know. Even if it did have either or both these aims, it would (for me) be worth the future hassle to be free of the suffocating embrace of the EU. As to now being the time to be honest and say what we want, any time (preferably before now) would have been just fine for a referendum on In or Out.

    If the result of an In/Out referendum were to be “In”, then those who wanted to be Out would have clear choices to consider.

  19. Norman Dee
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of conspiracy theories about the way Europe is going and where it will end up, but believe them or not, we still seem to be creeping along a path that pretty much follows the theories. The drive and determination of these European komissars, to prop up a so obviously failing system, with their demands for more and more money and integration is frightening. It is more frightening because they are doing it without a fall back or plan B, because unlike earlier political adventurers they are taking no risks, when it all goes tits up, we will suffer and they will crawl off to their well padded hideaways with nothing to fear.

  20. David Saunders
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    So long as a ‘liberal Conservative’ is leader and Europhiles like Clarke are significant there is no liklihood that the UK will repatriate powers from the EU. No change, no chance.

  21. Richard1
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Are you in favour of leaving the EU?

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      To me it depends largely on what can be agreed but we need to be prepared to leave if the agreement is not changed radically to virtually free trade only. It will never be changed unless we make it very clear that the UK is prepared to leave.

  22. Bernard Otway
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic John,BUT why don’t you recognise that your leadership is Totally against what you say and believe.Why don’t you lead a Gang of 50 PROPER CONSERVATIVES probably more,
    look at the rise of the TRUE FINNS party in finland in it’s last national election.
    A PROPER conservative party would get at least 3 million guaranteed votes at a general election,but add that to the 1.5 million UKIP have at least right now maybe more and the others from the 10.7 miilion fro May 6 and you have a big start,also don’t believe that liebour voters and quite a lot aren’t anti EU.

    • BobE
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Bernard, John has a pension to protect.

  23. janet
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Hear hear! A perfect summary which needs to be repeated again and again and shouted from the rooftops. Unfortunately the mainstream media, and particularly the BBC, is so wedded to its belief in the EU that it seems well nigh impossible to get it heard. Norman’s point about this viewpoint being dismissed and derided is all part of that.

  24. Martyn
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Otto von Habsburg (deceased) a Member of the European Parliament once said “The closer you bring a decision to those it affects the greater the likelihood that the decision will be good. EU centralization is leading to the new feudalism being created in the name of efficiency. Bureaucracy is today the cancer of political institutions and seems to be ever expanding. Successive governments promise to reduce bureaucracy but very few are successful. In the end under the pretext of efficiency new bureaucracies are being established and the greater our states become the less efficient and the more expensive they are”.
    How true and how infuriating it is that our governments have successively moved us further into that arena with the EU. Cameron may well intend to have a cheery bonfire of UK quangos and the like, but it will achieve nothing because with the disappearance of one UK quango (should that actually ever happen!) ten more will arise based on EU diktat.

  25. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I see in the Express today:

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/260927/Ken-Clarke-Never-rule-out-joining-the-euro

    “Mr Cameron has vowed there is no prospect of Britain even considering joining the single currency.

    But former Chancellor Mr Clarke left the door open, saying only that Britain would not be in the eurozone “for the foreseeable future’’.”

    Of course Cameron’s stated attitude is much firmer than that adopted by Major when he first permitted the EU to start issuing its own currency – there are some who believe that beneath his public ambivalence, Major would definitely have tried to take us in if he’d thought he could get away with it – and firmer than that adopted by Hague when he was leader.

    However, the question is whether Cameron really believes that the UK can remain outside the eurozone for more than a couple of decades at most, when if it survives the current crisis the eurozone is set to expand to take in all the EU member states present and future.

    And left unchecked it will do that even if some of the countries which have joined would really prefer to leave it and resume their national currencies – because the treaties make no provision for any country to withdraw – and even if some of the countries which have not yet joined would really prefer not to – because apart from the UK and Denmark they are all under a treaty obligation to join once the economic conditions are deemed appropriate.

    Moreover under Article 140 TFEU, starting on page 108 here:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0047:0200:EN:PDF

    the UK has no say on whether yet another country should be pushed or pulled into the euro:

    “… the Council shall … decide which Member States with a derogation fulfil the necessary conditions … and abrogate the derogations of the Member States concerned.

    The Council shall act having received a recommendation of a qualified majority of those among its members representing Member States whose currency is the euro.”

    “If it is decided … to abrogate a derogation, the Council shall, acting with the unanimity of the Member States whose currency is the euro and the Member State concerned … irrevocably fix the rate at which the euro shall be substituted for the currency of the Member State concerned, and take the other measures necessary for the introduction of the euro as the single currency in the Member State concerned.”

    It’s impossible to say whether the UK government of the time would have even thought to vote against or veto the accession of Greece to the eurozone, but clearly the non-eurozone states have a legitimate interest in ensuring that it is not destabilised by the admission of unsuitable countries for political reasons and in defiance of the economics.

    Which is what happened with Greece, and is now costing us dear:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1095783.stm

    “Some investors have said they are worried the decision to allow Greece to join the euro will send out the wrong signal to financial markets – suggesting that in future other, weaker economies may be allowed in without complying fully with membership conditions.”

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    There’s an article in the FT:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bd091a80-b5e3-11e0-8bed-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1T6YsEZoK

    “Britain wants tighter eurozone – without Britain”

    which propagates the dangerous delusion that we could allow the emergence and growth of a federal European superstate and yet somehow we would always escape being engulfed by it.

    “The British nightmare of a federal Europe would be for others to pursue, while the UK would remain in an outer EU circle enjoying the benefits of the single market and its 500m consumers without being continually pestered by Brussels talk of “ever closer union”.”

    More likely we would find ourselves increasingly lonely in that outer circle of countries which had not adopted the euro, until one government or another finally declared that this was no longer a tenable position and bounced us into the euro without a referendum (“notwithstanding the European Union Act 2011”), and in the meantime of course we would still be continually pestered about “ever closer union” on all other matters.

  27. JimF
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    It sounds from this as though you are sensing a mood change?

    The reality of inflation helped Thatcher in the 70s; she captured the mood byreminding people that Labour = inflation, and squeezed incomes. This time, Labour has jumped ship leaving this Coalition of the woolly and half-baked in Government. My daughter, having started work a year or so ago, e-mails me to say her rent is going up but her wages aren’t.

    Something separate and different has to be offered in the same way again. People need to know that when they work for x Pounds a week then that will have at least the same purchasing power as it did a year ago. Otherwise somebody is fooling them, and the government will be in the firing line.

  28. Bazman
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    The idea of England standing alone in the world ruled by a right wing retards driving forward a never ending race to the bottom and blaming every shortcoming on foreigners is a non starter. Any health and safety will be seen as ‘soft’ and ‘just an excuse’. The state would be a mixture of politicians, bosses, Capos wannabe Capos and their apologists. With old people looking back to good old days. A gangster state not unlike Russia. Hong Kong? Switzerland? Lots of Hong Kong’s and Switzerland’s? Get real Britain is not Greece The British will be angry with our neighbour for doing what they likes if he pays his mortgage off. Therefore, having judged that to be happy means to be free. Making sure that if a man works for the council he is hindered by the obscurity of his condition Holding that vengeance upon their colleagues is more to be desired than any personal blessings and exercising a jealous surveillance over each other reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, happily, joyfully, determined to accept the risk…

    • RDM
      Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Bazman: “right wing retards”

      The only retards are Marxists dictators within the WAG, AND their supporters!

      The people voted for (Democracy) a Free Trade area! And that is what we should have!

  29. Julian White
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    In response to another poster:

    Of course Cameron’s stated attitude is much firmer than that adopted by Major when he first permitted the EU to start issuing its own currency – there are some who believe that beneath his public ambivalence, Major would definitely have tried to take us in if he’d thought he could get away with it – and firmer than that adopted by Hague when he was leader.

    John Major was never keen on joining the single currency, his position was constant, he always doubted it and said at the time that “he doubted the circumstances would ever be right”. However, he believed Britain had a right to negotiate on how the currency would develop as it would affect us indirectly if the rest of Europe joined.

    Major was primarily interested in keeping inflation low so that the economy could grow in a stable manner, which other Prime Ministers had failed to do, and joining the Euro wouldn’t have helped achieve that aim. He was keen on looking at mechanisms that delivered low inflation, and his obsession on that point did deliver the finest set of economic statistics for a generation.

    Ruling anything out for ever is a little pointless, if the current Prime Minister means that he cannot see joining the Euro in his time in office, then that was Major’s position too. If he means in 100 years time, then I can’t see how he can possibly foresee how economies will change.

    Major’s policy remained right. He said we should negotiate on how the Euro developed – which we did – but opt-out from joining it. Much effort was wasted by some Euro-sceptics trying to go further, but ultimately this was the position taken by the Blair Government, and if the Conservative Government wishes to remain strong, it should maintain the “we will negotiate on important changes, but we reserve the right not to join them”.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Major agreed to the creation of the euro, and by doing so set us up to be eventually bounced or even forced into it.

      He only negotiated the UK’s “opt-out” protocol under pressure from Tory backbenchers, and then Sir James Goldsmith.

      While publicly voicing concerns about the practicality of a “one-size-fits-all” currency, he nevertheless allowed the EU to make it the norm that all EU member states must join it.

      In public he was carefully ambivalent about whether the UK should join it – for example here’s Julian Critchley MP writing in the Daily Mirror in July 1996, complaining about the resignation of the Treasury Minister David Heathcote-Amory:

      http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Treachery+will+wreck+my+party%3B+The+Tory+party+is+in+total+disarray…-a061328290

      “That he should give as his reason a desire to campaign against a common currency is puzzling. John Major has deliberately kept his options open. There is no commitment by the government to join it willy-nilly.”

      Personally I’m inclined to agree with those who believe that Major wanted to take us in, and he would have tried to do so if he’d calculated that there was a reasonable chance of success.

  30. Winston's Black Dog
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Cameron represents EU and British Provincial interests come a very poor second in his eyes. The actions he has taken over 15 months unequivically bear out that statement.

    Hence why 274 Tory (sorry Coalition) traitors were whipped to vote to give away an additional £9 billion the UK does not have to bail out the Euro by stealth via the IMF.

  31. uanime5
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Given that the EU has increased workers rights, while the UK Government has supported bug businesses it’s no wonder why so many people are turning from the UK Government and asking the EU to help them.

    The people choose who has the most power and if the Government doesn’t want to be reduced to a rump Parliament it should start trying to win the support of the electorate before they turn to the EU instead.

  32. Phil
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    John a lot of blood has been spilt over the years so England can be free. The least you could do is cause a noisy rebellion against that quisling Cameron.
    Time to put Country before Party!!

    • Winston's Black Dog
      Posted July 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Conservatives (other than a courageous minority) NEVER put country before Party when it comes to the crunch.

      They talk about it in the run up to elections then do the opposite if elected. Cameron’s meaningless cast-iron guarantee re Lisbon and Fox destroying our aircraft carrier capacity almost before he’d opened his office door after the General Election being two examples.

  • About John Redwood


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

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