Letter sent to George Eustice and the other MPs who say they are forming a new group to reverse moves to ever closer European union.

            I welcome your establishment of a new group dedicated to reversing ever closer union. We need new thinking, new energy and new names in the cause. I also understand your wish to define new language and a new position for a new Parliament.


           It seems to me this will in part be done for us by the rapid rush of events. We can indeed say we have a new cause for new circumstances. Never has the drive towards ever closer union been so fast or so furious, so desperate or so necessary, as the 17 battle to save their single currency. We can with George Osborne say we see their need to dash helter skelter for full economic and fiscal union. They in turn must understand that we as  non members of the Euro cannot possibly join in such a move. We will need a different relationship with the emerging unified economic government of Euroland.


             They need our support and approval to use mechanisms, money and people involved in the EU to run their tighter and more controlled  central core. We in turn want more than a simple opt out from the more intrusive new measures they require. We need powers back to govern ourselves more fully, and this is  the time and the chance to gain them.


              Those of us who have urged a looser relationship for us for many years in Parliament have had two important victories on which we can now draw. The first was to keep the UK out of the Euro. This is fundamental to our current position, and is the origin of our need for a new relationship now they need to mend the Euro by stronger central controls. The second was persuading our party to oppose Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon in Parliament. In the case of each Treaty we strongly opposed the transfer of powers, the accretions of  more areas to the acquis, and the surrender of  a large number of vetoes.


             My suggestion is we should make a very modest proposal to the EU, urging our government to use this moment to negotiate a long term solution to the UK’s problem. The proposal would be that we will happily allow the other members to do whatever they like without our seeking to block or veto it. In return we will be given the right to opt out of anything that the EU has agreed or may agree in the future, as Parliament sees fit. The rest of the EU would be spared the UK acting as the brake on the train, the wrecker at the unification party. The UK would be spared having  law and regulation forced upon us with which we did not agree.


           Normally we would go along with new and old EU legal proposals. We would still sit down to negotiate and draft with the others. We often  might reach collective agreement with them and happily implement what was decided. We would not however, be able to hold them up  or resist if they were determined to do something, and they would not be able to force us to do it. We would need to be able to go back over past agreements, but would do so sparingly and only after raising it with them to see if all EU members might like to repeal or amend the offending law.


          The UK would be a democracy again, where one Parliament could not bind another in perpetuity by including the measure as an EU law. Moderate Eurosceptics would no longer feel oppressed by EU measures, as extreme ones could be suspended in the UK. Pro Europeans could relax that we have not tried to withdrawn from the EU – they are still in and they can try to persuade us to accept more not less. Those who want to come out completely can press for less, seeking to use Parliamentary channels to remove blocks of EU law which they do not like. It seems to me to be the best way to let us all have our views on how much Europe we want, and to channel them within a UK Parliamentary framework.


          Is this negotiable? I think in the extreme circumstances of Euroland today it is. It can be presented accurately as the permanent solution to the British problem. The EU could be shown that it still means we make financial contributions and trade under most of  their rules, advantages for them. What better offer could there be, when UK opinion is now so sceptical about our relationship with the EU?



  1. Mick Anderson
    August 29, 2011

    JR: Although I like the idea that the UK would not be obliged to cede extra control to the EU, with Mr Cameron in Downing Street we can only expect that he will sign up to anything and everything no matter whether it is required or not.

    There might be a nice, shiny new Euro-sceptic group in Parliament, but until the Executive is forced to take notice of it (and the population at large), the situation is not going to improve.

    1. Tim
      August 29, 2011

      Mr Redwood. Your position would still leave us in the EU and contributing the lions share of £13.5 billions net per year and rising. This is tax that could be reduced from borrowings at home, like the £11.5 billion foreign aid budget! We still have a £40 billion trade deficit last year with the EU and £262 billion over the last 10 years. We would still be subject to the CAP costing us more £ billions in food costs, our fishing industry needs to return and control on immigration once more in order that our young people can compete in the jobs market. We can only achieve this by leaving the EU and having trade agreements ONLY. Sign up to the Government E petition calling for a referendum on this issue. We need to be out of this undemacratic monster.

  2. norman
    August 29, 2011

    I’ve heard it said before that David Cameron is a lucky politician and the evidence isn’t to be doubted.

    Fighting a general election against the most inept and disliked PM any of us are likely to see, the majority of the country crying out for fiscal responsibility, an oppostion floundering around that doesn’t know what it’s for or against, riots and looting that have given him a mandate to enact meaningful social reform, sky high taxes and a huge government bureaucracy giving him plenty of scope to implement real growth orientated policies, and to cap it all the Euro crisis giving him the strongest hand imaginable in dealing with the EU, which for a self proclaimed Eurosceptic must have him rubbing his eyes in disbelief.

    It will be interesting how he plays this Royal Flush and to see where we are in four years time.

    1. Mike Stallard
      August 29, 2011

      Excellent thoughts.

      1. zorro
        August 29, 2011

        He will flunk it.


  3. Epigenes
    August 29, 2011

    Your suggestions are admirable and represent a diplomatic move to a semi – detached UK within the EU. However, the only person to negotiate any position that was more favourable to the UK was Mrs Thatcher. Governments since she lost power have capitulated to EU demands at every opportunity. I would trust you to lead the negotiations but not the current administration.

    It may be easier using the arrangements already in place for Norway and Switzerland as this would obviate lengthy negotiations.

    You do not mention the UK’s financial contribution to the EU. Presumably any change in the UK’s status, along the lines you suggest, would involve a substantial reduction. Also, what representation would you want, if any, in the EU institutions?

    I do not trust MPs on this matter. Any change to UK law, other than minor arrangements to facilitate trade agreements, should be put to a referendum

    1. Pete Chown
      August 29, 2011

      ‘Presumably any change in the UK’s status, along the lines you suggest, would involve a substantial reduction.’

      I could go with this proposal if it meant a cut in our gross contribution by a factor of 1000—from around £10bn to £1M. £10M would be a reasonable sum to pay for the administration that would be required as we cooperate with our European allies.

      The British government spends money on things like schools and hospitals. It would be a problem if something went wrong so that those services weren’t provided any more. The EU is different. It doesn’t provide any services that people rely on, so it follows that its budget is almost entirely wasted.

      At the moment there is pressure on our own government’s budget, but there is a painless £10bn saving right here.

      1. Pete Chown
        August 29, 2011

        That should have been…

        from around £10bn to £10M

        of course. Sorry.

  4. Duyfken
    August 29, 2011

    A very well-reasoned letter, notable particularly for its moderate tone.

    My being more hot-headed, I suggest that instead of “we will be given the right to opt out of anything that the EU has agreed or may agree in the future, as Parliament sees fit”, we should initially opt out of all existing EU laws, directives and regulations, and only opt in if and after each such law etc has been agreed in parliament. We should start again from scratch.

  5. lifelogic
    August 29, 2011

    Is this negotiable – not by Cameron and the Coalition I suggest.

    “We will be given the right to opt out of anything that the EU has agreed or may agree in the future, as Parliament sees fit.”

    Even with this freedom – Cameron types, and this parliament, would probably go along with nearly everything from the EU anyway.

    1. Tedgo
      August 29, 2011

      Yes, but at least the following Government would have the means to put it right without having to go back to Brussels.

      1. lifelogic
        August 29, 2011

        Indeed but would they?

  6. A.Sedgwick
    August 29, 2011

    I know politicians don’t understand simple, complicated is what keeps a bureaucracy afloat but what about an MP register for those supporting an in/out referendum. All this verbage and fence sitting just masks and delays the fundamental question.
    If the Liberal Coalition can rustle up a mickey mouse referendum on electoral reform let’s have the main event.

  7. JimF
    August 29, 2011

    Sorry but your solution here is a bit of a recipe for fudge, muddle and indecision as neither side will actually agree with what the other is doing. It will be “put on hold” pending a General Election in 3 years time in which an EU friendly party/group will be elected again anyway.
    You need democratic backing for what you are proposing, which is perhaps too weak a change anyway. Why not point to Switzerland and Norway as examples, propose a referendum on what you really think is the best viz. a trade agreement but no legal, political, democratic or other control, and be done with it?

    Reply: i have done so, but there is no majority in the Commons for a referendum.

    1. Tim
      August 29, 2011

      If this is true then we need to be voting for a party that does what WE want. MP’s need a radical change in attitude as they are our servants and should be acting for us and our countrys needs. NOT foreigners or foreign issues. The public have become very annoyed at politicians, particularly David Cameron who has not fulfilled one of his election promises. Public spending up, immigration up, EU contributions up and no referendum, Human Rights Act etc. The only thing he does is rub our “right wing” noses in it by increasing the foreign aid budget……….so he looks nice!!

      1. nemesis
        August 29, 2011

        Couldn’t agree with you more Tim. Well said.

  8. Tedgo
    August 29, 2011

    I would also add that other EU countries would be welcome to adopt the new arrangement as they see fit.

    Such an arrangement would allow for a multi speed Europe with each national Parliament regaining ultimate control over all legislation within their respective countries.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    August 29, 2011

    JR: “Never has the drive towards ever closer union been so fast or so furious, so desperate or so necessary, as the 17 battle to save their single currency. We can with George Osborne say we see their need to dash helter skelter for full economic and fiscal union.”

    Even you seem to have ignored the fact that what you propose is undemocratic. At least there is some opposition to this from someone with influence. The Telegraph reports that Christian Wulff, Germany’s president, has accused the European Central Bank of going “far beyond its mandate” with mass purchases of Spanish and Italian debt, and warned that Europe’s headlong rush towards fiscal union strikes at the “very core” of democracy. “Decisions have to be made in parliament in a liberal democracy. That is where legitimacy lies,” he said.
    Why is it that so many politicians in Europe are always talking about introducing democracy into other countries whilst at best ignoring and at worst opposing it in their own countries?

    1. Tedgo
      August 29, 2011

      I do not see your point, JR is suggesting that our Parliament would regain full control over EU competencies as they applied to the UK. I cannot see how that is undemocratic.

      1. Brian Tomkinson
        August 30, 2011

        I was referring to the removal of democracy from the 17 members of the Eurozone by enforcing fiscal union without reference to the electorates in those countries and by so doing feeding the seeds of future uprisings in Europe.

        1. sm
          August 30, 2011

          We still have a problem with ‘Representatives’ voting as instructed in the UK.

          Why continue to pay for a European Union? Is that just a way of buying off the buraucracy or those invested with an EU employment or similar contract pension?

          When last parliament ignored the people a certain Oliver Cromwell took matters to hand? Our MP’s need to pause and prove they are representing the people. I have no faith in parliament as a representative body on EU issues and some others.

  10. Matt
    August 29, 2011

    It probably is negotiable within Euroland, the German voters may even want to join us.

    Question is, is it negotiable within the coalition?

  11. Anthony Harrison
    August 29, 2011

    I would prefer an outright departure from the EU but I would settle for your solution. I just do not think it is going to happen. There are two Conservative Parties: yours (the one I used to vote for…) and Mr Cameron’s. Your Party is far smaller, despite what you say in your closing sentence about UK opinion, as demonstrated all too clearly whenever there is a vote on related matters in Parliament. I await with moderate interest, but no optimism, the effect of George Eustice’s group. I wish you the best of luck – but you know your own Party better than I do. Yes, we have to alter radically our relationship with the EU before the manure really hits the fan, but your Party’s leadership is behaving toward the EU rather as Neville Chamberlain (and all too many Tory MPs) did toward Hitler. I don’t think the EU is as bad, of course, but it threatens severe damage to our country on much the same scale if by different means.

  12. Javelin
    August 29, 2011

    I think we need to use the term “sheer”, “stress”, “fault” or “fracture” more often with the EU. Because that is the structure of the actual situation.

    – Sheer line, stress line, fault line, fracture line

  13. Mike Stallard
    August 29, 2011

    Hooray for you, Mr Redwood. At last some real action! I notice that other people, thankfully from all parties, are coming together to protest about the encroachments of the EU. In October we will see what happens.

    The entrenched bureaucrats, living off the taxation system without any real controls, even effective and honest accountancy, are not going to give up easily. Nevertheless, the scheme which you propose could just scrape by under the radar.

    I know, from my efforts to set up a free school, how very powerful entrenched bureaucracy is. And it is extremely skilful in bending good ideas into very lucrative hypocrisy too.

    But you – and some of the other Eurorealists – have been around long enough to be able to recognise this often unmentioned fact.


  14. waramess
    August 29, 2011

    Just say NO. It can’t be such a beneficial club that we can’t leave, and so long as politicians try desperately hard not to upset those who want a closer union then we the electorate will be the losers because, whatever your starting position is it will be diluted beyond recognition by the time action is taken.

    Push for a referendum before giving up the fight and then, perhaps with a strong mandate from the people. the politicians will find their courage.

    Cameron betrayed the people in this respect, whatever gloss one might care to apply and he should not be allowed to forget

    1. Tedgo
      August 29, 2011

      If there was a IN/OUT referendum tomorrow I think the IN’s would win. I think JR’s proposal could be easily sold in a referendum, what is there not to like about our Parliament regaining full control over EU competencies as they applied to the UK. Politics is all about compromise.

  15. Sue
    August 29, 2011


    Same old, same old. It’s got to the point Mr Redwood that nobody believes “Conservative Eurosceptics” anymore.

    It’s just another ploy not to give us a referendum.

    Tell me, is this still a democracy?

    Reply: I support a refrendum and voted for one, so don’t blame me.

  16. alan jutson
    August 29, 2011

    Events in Germany on Sept 7th when their Constitutional Court decision is to be made public, about the leagality or not of EU bailouts may make your letter uneccessary.

    The whole juggernaught of the EU may just be stopped in it tracks by this German decision, and a break up of the EU as we know it at present, may be on the cards as those countries who are bankrupt may be ejected or have to leave.

    If the German result is that EU bailouts are illegal under the German constitution, then surely its all up for grabs as far as renegotiation is concerned, the EU will have been shown up for what it truly is.
    An unelected political monster which is slowly bankrupting its member nations with a onesize fits all socialist agenda.

    Reply: the German court is unlikely to give a ruling so strong they cannot get round it. If joy of joys they find the bail outs are illegal, they will probably show what has to be done to make them legal.

    1. zorro
      August 29, 2011

      As John suggests, the pantomime is on 7th September….Do you really think that the German Court will rule against the bailouts? No, they will say how they can be made legal on receipt of their new shiny gold Greek beach huts….


  17. David John Wilson
    August 29, 2011

    Surely in a democracy everyone accepts the decisions of the majority. If th UK decides to pick and choose which EU laws it wants to adopt, that makes the UK less of a democracy not more. I would agree that the EU needs to become more democratic and for the parliament to have more powers.
    If the UK wants to move in this direction then the EU should be given the ability to make some laws optional as part of the democratic process that sets them up.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 29, 2011

      Your error is to think that a pan-EU legislative assembly can be “democratic” in the absence of anything approaching a pan-EU “demos” – as pointed out, by the way, by the German court in its verdict on the Lisbon Treaty.

      If there is to be any democracy within the EU, it cannot be on any scale greater than that of the sovereign nation state: beyond national democracy, it has to be international diplomacy.

      1. lifelogic
        August 30, 2011


  18. Denis Cooper
    August 29, 2011

    There is a serious omission from this letter, because it makes no reference to the radical EU treaty amendment already agreed on March 25th:


    Once that EU treaty amendment had come into force, the eurozone countries would in effect be licensed under EU law to pursue “ever closer union” just among themselves, at least ostensibly, through treaties made just between themselves, and in the first instance they themselves would interpret the terms of their licence and define its scope.

    The first such intra-eurozone treaty, the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism signed on July 21st, is here:


    and straightaway it will be noted that:

    a) Willingly or reluctantly, all of the present 17 eurozone states have been induced to become parties to that intra-eurozone treaty.

    b) The UK is not a party to that intra-eurozone treaty, and therefore unlike an EU treaty the UK has no veto over that treaty or future amending treaties.

    c) The treaty is being erected on the new legal base in the EU treaties which would be provided by the major EU treaty amendment agreed through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th, once that had come into force.

    In due course Parliament will be asked to pass a Bill approving that EU treaty amendment, and once that had been done the UK would have lost its leverage to negotiate other EU treaty amendments to safeguard our national interests.

    Bear in mind that out of 27 EU member states 17 are already in the eurozone, while as things stand 8 more are under a treaty obligation to eventually join the euro, and that same condition is automatically imposed on all new EU member states, and once a country has joined the euro there is no treaty provision for it to ever make an orderly withdrawal.

    Incidentally this article from Australia analyses and roundly condemns that first intra-eurozone treaty under the title:

    “A poisoned chalice of EU power”


    The author points out:

    “European governments do not have the slightest interest in a thorough debate about the introduction of the ESM. They cannot risk the public understanding what this ESM treaty really is: an enabling act that undermines budget rights of parliaments; a coup d’état of the continent’s political leadership against their peoples; and the most costly piece of legislation ever put before European lawmakers. It would be crazy to explain to ordinary Europeans what their political leaders have conspired to introduce. And so they don’t.”

    and concludes with a rhetorical question:

    “Having lost its fiscal sanity, Europe is about to give up its parliamentary democracy as well. When will the citizens of Europe stand up to those who are supposed to represent them?”

    The ESM treaty depends on the EU treaty amendment in European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th coming into force, and that depends on the Decision being ratified by all EU member states, and whatever happens in other countries the UK Parliament should defend both our own national interests, and parliamentary democracy across Europe, by refusing to approve it.

    Reply: I agree about the importance of the potential Treaty change, and will want my colleagues to vote against it should it be put to Parliament, assuming there is no gain for the Uk from its passage.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 29, 2011

      Passing the agreed EU treaty change would certainly be a huge gain for those who want to see the eurozone survive and grow until eventually the UK is the only EU member state not in the euro, when it will be easier for it to engulf us in its federalised maw.

  19. Damien
    August 29, 2011

    JR you say “They need our support and approval to use mechanisms, money and people involved in the EU to run their tighter and more controlled central core..”

    The ECB bond purchases has neither support nor approval by all its own Eurozone members yet it continues buying over e110 billion of bonds. The German president has questioned the legality of the recent ECB purchases and his concerns were supported by the Bundesbank president.

    I suspect that the the EU 17 will sidestep the issue of a veto much in the same way as the ECB has by justifying such action as permissible to avoid the collapse of the euro. Certainly I cannot imagine any circumstance where the UK would exercise its veto to bring down the euro.

    Given the above it would seem that partnerships with other EU members who share some of our concerns could be the way forward and certainly the establishment of a new group has many of the advantages you have laid out.

  20. Robert Eve
    August 29, 2011

    We just need to leave the EU.

    There is no other solution.

    1. Jeremy Poynton
      August 29, 2011

      Agreed. The time for half measures is past. No bureaucracy as big as the EU is and is becoming can be anything but totalitarian in nature. It is the name of the game. It may manifest differently to how we have witness totalitarianism in the past, but totalitarian it will be.

      Out. ASAP.

  21. Derek Buxton
    August 29, 2011

    No, no, no, what you suggest Sir is not possible, not now not ever! You do not understand the EU one little bit. It is working as it was designed to work, by stealth and deceit. It hollows out a Nations traditions by suborning the politicians in that Nation and they then do the dirty work for the Commissars. As one who knows far more than I about it said “we do not have a relationship with the EU, we are now part of it”.
    The EU is building a single state, non democratic, the fraud and corruption followed on from the way it works, no accountability. It is ruled by the Commissioners alone, the EU parliament is just a rubber stamp, and very nice gravy train for those on it. Everyone involved in it from top to bottom is required to forward it’s objectives, and that includes our PM as a Member of the Council of Ministers. And he is certainly doing that!
    There are only two choices, in or out, the former is an end to Great Britain especially England. The latter would enable us to get our Nation back to where it belongs as the mother of parliaments as opposed to a town council as it now is.

    Reply: And how pray do you intend to get us out of it? Electors do not vote for pull out parties at Westminster.

  22. pipesmoker
    August 29, 2011

    Whilst I don’t doubt your sincerity it should never be forgotten that it was your party that took us into this organisation in the first place, Margaret Thatcher signed up to the single European Act and John Major the Maastricht Treaty and so on. Enoch Powell and others warned of the dangers and I postulate he was sacked for his views on our membership of the Common Market, his infamous speech being the excuse.

    Until the last general election I voted Tory because I had faith they were the only party to get us out of the EU. I did not vote then and the next time I will vote is in a referendum on this countries membership of the EU because I am fed up with false promises to keep me on board.

    The Cleggerons were keen to give us a vote, when it suited them in the run up to not the constitution and promised to argue their case but conveniently like boy Dave have forgotten their pledge.

    Boy Dave should be reminded this country can have a referendum on any issue they want, but not the elephant in the room! It sucks.

  23. Barry Reed
    August 29, 2011

    Although I have voted Conservative for almost fifty years so far I have been totally dissapointed with Cameron’s to say the least. He promised an open and honest government and one that would stand up against the EU, and a promise of a referendum on the EU should anyything change within the Treaty of the EU.
    Brussels appears to change the treaty by stealth on a daily basis to suit themselves at the sufference of those living in the UK.
    Cameron made charges against those governments now deposed by the “Arab Spring” of not listening to their people. It appears Cameron is totally deaf, this Government is supposed to be a servant of its people, what is called in the dictionary “a democracy”, and not the other way ’round?
    As long as we are in the EU and under the present membership conditions, the UK will never get back on its feet!


  24. Popeye
    August 29, 2011

    Good for you Sir!
    Hopefully Finland will throw a spanner in the works, since our spineless Government will not!

  25. Norman Dee
    August 29, 2011

    I think the concept is admirable, my only fear that if you set the bar too low for negotiation it will be watered down to reach a compromise, this is why I believe we should still go for the complete solution I.E. withdrawal. Now a negotiation from that point would yield a compromise point that is more acceptable, the position mooted above being the minimum acceptable finish point, not start point.
    Another point is that using the comparison of the EU being a company that each individual member is a director of, some of our fellow directors are breaking the company law to achieve questionable results, is there legal redress available for this ?and if not why not?

  26. Anne Palmer
    August 29, 2011

    Although your letter is “welcome” to the likes of me, under the present leaders of the Conservatives, I doubt it will get very far. The present EU legislation that is going through Parliament now, needs to be STOPPED. The permanent destructive division of the Nation and Country of ENGLAND through the EU’s Localism Bill should be thrown out right away. The fact that it started its Journey in the European Union can be checked for eventually the EU will Govern through its new Regions. Scotland is already classed as an EU Region as is Wales. Check the Council of Europe, and also the United Nations, although I believe it went “upwards” from the EU and did not start its Journey in the UN. (“The Precedent of the European Charter of Local Self-Government”)

    The HS2-which we cannot afford- is also part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy as you well know and I repeat here for the sake of those that have not made the connection. Through the whole of TEN-T we give away Sovereignty over our land, Sky, Ports and Sea.

    Much as I am impressed that there are some Conservatives beginning to question their stance on the EU, I doubt it is strong enough, particularly as the EU is extending its desires through what we have come to know as the ‘Arab Spring’, (“Support for Partnership, Reform, and Inclusive Growth.”) . Sadly, Libya is only the beginning and perhaps as a warning should other Leaders prefer to remain as they once were. That will not happen for there are 27 Nation States that can tell them other-wise. Each one in turn will eventually set them-sleves free as will the people of ENGLAND set the United Kingdom free if the Government they elect and continue to pay do not set this Country free.

    1. Jeremy Poynton
      August 29, 2011

      Anne – we already have Ministers for the various English regions – however, the fact is not bruited abroad.


      these posts are being fronted as in place for future “devolution”; in fact, they are, I suspect, there to aid further centralisation of power.

  27. uanime5
    August 29, 2011

    I doubt being allowed to opt out of any law will be allowed. No other EU country will allow the UK to obtain an advantage by opting out of a troublesome laws. It is also very open to abuse as the Government could oppose laws that would give people greater rights in order to maintain its own power.

    The best we can hope for is to leave the EU but remain part of the European Economic Area (EEA), giving us a similar status to Norway and Iceland. Though this would still allow the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital among the EEA countries. It would also mean we would have to comply with all EU law while having no EU representation.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 29, 2011

      Norway only has to accept about one fifth of all new EU laws.

  28. Susan
    August 29, 2011

    I really believe the only option for the UK is either in or out of the EU, there are no half measures that will work. This idea of trying to claw back powers would take such a vast amount of negotiation that I believe it would not be possible to reach agreement. The UK could have a status such as that of Norway and Switzerland, but I see no reason why it would want to do this. The UK under this type of agreement, so I understand, would still have hefty contributions without any of the benefits. It would still have to accept certain EU rules and regulations but without having any say in how these were formulated. Norway is oil rich and Switzerland has a tax haven, both have far smaller populations than the UK and their economies cannot be compared to Britains. If it was decided in the UK to move to the sort of position these two Countries have within Europe, the UK Government would have to be very sure that it could stand alone in the future.

    However, one of the real difficulties for the UK Government pulling out of the EU completely, would be the question of Scotlands very pro EU stance. With the power Alex Salmond now enjoys, closer union with the EU will remain Scotlands policy.

    Besides the difficulties of negotiating back powers from the EU, I feel it would be entirely the wrong message to send out about democracy, if the only way this could be achieved was by giving Britains consent to a more integrated EU. What the UK Government would not accept for itself it should not agree to for other Countries.

    1. Tedgo
      August 29, 2011

      I think JR’s proposal would be attractive to other member states who would also want the arrangement for themselves. Those states have exactly the same bargaining power as the Uk. If enough states adopted the proposal the EU could be reduced to an administrative office and the European parliament closed down, along with all the attendant costs.

      Ultimately the member states could agree on a policy which is then implemented by the Parliaments of each member state. Seems a rather grown up way of doing things.

      1. Susan
        August 30, 2011


        There is no indication that I know of, that other states wish to follow the UK in the action proposed. Indeed the opposite appears to be the case, that more integration would be the obvious solution. Therefore, to my mind it is always wise to deal with the situation you have, not what you would wish it to be. However, it would be undemocratic anyway if the only way the UK could get powers back for itself was by voting for, or allowing policy to pass for other Countries that it would accept for itself.

        There also remains the problem of Scotland, these proposals would not be acceptable to their Government. The Lib/Dems would also be against the changes suggested.

  29. Ian B
    August 29, 2011

    It’s not feasible. Either you are in a club, or you are not in a club. Being in the EU is a club for countries who want to have EU-style governance, to move towards a closer union. I personally do not want that, but many people do. There is no practical means of being in the EU and not acting like one is in the EU. Either we do it properly, or we don’t do it at all.

    Governance is a matter of binding. To be governed in some aspect of life is to agree to be bound by the governance structure. That is why I have over the years become a libertarian, because there are many aspects of life in which I am currently governed but do not wish to be governed in. That is, I do not want the State to bind me in many aspects of life. But it does. I wish to be less governed by the EU, but also less governed by Westminister. It should not be, for instance, the business of governance structures in either London or Brussels to decide whether I and my local pub landlord can agree that I may light a cigarette on his premises. But both governance structures do claim that area of governance.

    What you are asking for is the equivalent, at the national level, of saying, “the government may ban smoking, but then everyone should be able to opt out of that law”. That would be nice for me of course, but that would be in fact not allowing the Government to make smoking rules, because everyone who didn’t like them would just ignore them. Likewise, agreeing that the EU will govern, but then that the governed nations can arbitrarily not participate, is to deny that governance power. “You may not smoke, unless you want to” is not governance. “You must join an economic stabilisation fund, unless you don’t want to” is not governance either.

    Either you accept the rule of the EU, or you don’t. There isn’t a compromise, of this type, available. It is nonsensical.

    1. APL
      August 30, 2011

      Ian B: “It’s not feasible. Either you are in a club, or you are not in a club. ”

      John Redwood is trying to distract our attention from the fact that the temperature of the water is steadily rising, ‘ Quick, look over there! A brand new shiny Tory group.’

      Meanwhile he offers us a democracy that can only be a democracy with the permission and oversight of a klepto-cratic oligarchy.

      Reply: I am certainly not trying to distract you – I am highlighting the issue. I am also trying to get some support for a move in the right direction, which will be difficult to achieve.
      Is that really what we all want?

  30. Kenneth
    August 29, 2011

    Mr Redwood I think you may be onto something that not only could unite the Conservative Party but even the Coalition. It is something that Mr Cameron may take to Nick Clegg.

    Some may accuse you of being soft but I think you are being realistic and pragmatic.

    Mind you, if the BBC doesn’t buy it then you are scuppered. It would be better if the idea came from the Labour Party and permeated the other way. That way it is likely to get BBC backing. However I live in hope.

  31. John Galt
    August 29, 2011


    With respect
    I think the term “Fiddling while Rome Burns” is probably the most apt.

    Whilst I am sure you need no reminder or advice on the imminent implosion of the Eurozone, I don’t quite understand your approach, I admire your fondness for the art of diplomacy, but England and the Isles have no time left for the niceties of civil discourse. It is just such an approach that has gotten us to the present place, and if anyone especially you, think that the “boy” has the metal, understanding, foresight or even just one principle, that would achieve anything other than the same old stuff we have been foisted with for the past 60 years then you and they will be sadly mistaken. More pussy footing around, more polite discourse, more outreach, more negotiation, frankly you’ve tried that for the last 40 years and its got us absolutely bugger all, its complete and utter bollocks and we can all see it.

    Its time to get out of the arm chair, I know you have been quietly beavering away but be honest, the (c)conservative party as a body think your too extreme, which just about sums up the situation, the conservative party is no more conservative than the labour party, it is so far to the left that the view of the center is determined as extreme right. The party has no defining conservative principles left. The protection of the citizen, the country, its borders, heritage, its very existence cry out, they have been treasonably abandoned by consecutive waves of government aided and in most cases abetted by the party of conservatives in name only.

    Never mind another sop to whats left of the grass roots, another grouping, another club, we’ve seen it all before and truthfully so have you, it will just be another excuse for the socialists in central office to go to work discrediting and smearing the group.
    Its time now to put the country first we need leaders, we need men of action, our politicians have betrayed and let us down, and none more so than the conservatives.

    Reply: So what is your proposal?

    1. John Galt
      August 31, 2011

      In truth
      I’m with Mark Steyn, I think its too late.

      However, as a regards action, or more unfortunately a last defence I think it needs a call for a return to real conservative values and I think those values need to be rite and shouted large at every opportunity.
      Small government, real small government, and todays environment it is surely the time for that. To use Rick Perrys recent comment “ensure that the government stays out of your life”.
      The principle of individual responsibility, accountability for ones actions and freedom can in no way be commensurate with a Euro-bureaucracy or indeed any type of officious bureaucracy of which the western world and particular europe has become so engrained.

      There is still I believed a particular popular dislike of officious bureaucracy in all its forms and that dislike is there to be tapped by a principled and thoughtful leader. That dislike/distain of government in all its forms is is indeed the very principle of conservatism. Government as a boil or carbuncle needs to be lanced for its roots lay deep into the EU, the law, education, and it is an enabler, it walks hand in hand with socialist dogma, its mantra, that its there to protect and cosset when in truth its the life and soul sucking parasite of freedom.

      You ask what is a proposal, well lets start with principles, stop tinkering around the edges with policies and hold up everything to the basis of principled conservative values. My goodness that alone would thin the ranks. And I say this as an observation only, ask any man or woman in the country who the last principled British politician was, I have asked that question many times over the years to many people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and status and whether they agreed or not with with his policies there is only really one name, and he had and still has posthumously popular grass roots support, but of course its a name that dare not be mentioned by PC company.
      The political class in this country is forever led fawning sycophantic craven kow-towing to the media, well the medias gig is bust, its shown to be a bust in Australia, Canada and after the last mid term elections in the US. Newspapers are dead, the big left leaning stations CNN, ABC, NBC et. al. market share, viewer numbers negligible, the big hurdle here is the BBC but a return to conservative principles would see that seething bed of hateful socialism condemned to a scrap heap in any market place and out of our pockets and lives.
      The conservatives among us cry out for a voice and sorry but I will not join a party that is conservative in name only, myself and so many more its not that we are not “engaged” by politics but that no one represents us, we have been dis-enfranchised and no one is listening.
      Really John, no one is listening, so encouraged by the media and the talking heads to believe that we are lone voices, we have been fleeing these shores the last 20 years by the thousands not wanted and un-represented, as the old English settlers of young America sent back the message loud and clear all those years ago. No representation. No taxes. You might ask George how the tax take is doing right now but I think you know the answer.

      I take it you are familiar with the name.

  32. Anne Palmer
    August 29, 2011

    I refer to Denis at 11.47 who I believe is quite correct that should there be any agreement through a yes vote and therefore a great alteration to those Countries in the Eurozone, there would be a great desire, no, a great need to pursue that, “ever closer union.” This would indeed bring with it great changes to all Member States, thus altering the Treaty of Lisbon. I do note and cannot understand why this has been debated by only two presidents from the Euro-Zone Countries when the proposed changes will affect ALL in the Euro Zone as well as those outside it.
    However, I have been looking once again through the Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties and such great changes to the Treaty of Lisbon would indeed give the Euro-zone Countries more powers.

    All 27 Countries would have to thoroughly debate those proposed changes and ratify those changes if all 27 States agree to them. This cannot and must not be avoided.

    Through the words of Denis, those Countries not in the Euro Zone will be given more power to those not in it, therefore a referendum should be held, not just for our Country that has been definitely promised-although as most are aware, I am not in favour of such referendum held here in the UK, however, a referendum on this matter must take place, for indeed the desired change for the Eurozone would be giving more power to the Union. Far better I think to let the Eurozone go on to their ever closer Union and allow the rest their freedom to govern themselves.

    Such is the importance of this proposed alteration to the Treaty of Lisbon, if our Government allows such vast alterations to the Treaty of Lisbon without debate and the promised referendum for the people, it perhaps has the makings by the people for a challenge to the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties, for there is no point in having such a Convention and importance of ratification if alterations to the original make a nonsense of the whole procedure.

  33. Anne Palmer
    August 29, 2011

    Jeremy, not quite the same. The New English EU Regions are to have “elected” Mayors and/or until they can be elected, “pretendy” Mayors are to be put in the gap! The Localism Bill is to divide ENGLAND permanently. An Extra layer of Governance the United Kingdom has never had before in all the history of this Country-not wanted now-and we-the people, certainly cannot afford it

    Remember too, we are already paying billions and billions of British pounds for the extra layer of European Union Governance and have been doing so since 1972.-How rich every country in the EU would be now if none had ever paid into the EU.

    Perhaps if we reduce the House of Commons by those the people have to pay for all the Mayors, their Cabinets and all the entourage and regalia that goes with the pomp and circumstance it wouldn’t be too bad-the question people will be asking-will there be ANY NEED OF A BRITISH GOVERNMENT OR PARLIAMENT. I think when all is set up, they may have made themselves redundant. Sorry JR.

  34. dan
    August 30, 2011

    Unfortunately Redwood, nor it seems his colleagues, havent the balls to make the ultimate stand over the EU, by resigning their seats in protest.
    Thats too much of an ask for career politicans.

    Reply: That would be an excellent way to purge the Commons of Euroscepticism – get real.

    1. dan
      August 31, 2011

      Dont you have the courage of your convictions to resign and stand again, an independent, on a platform of leaving the EU?
      Dont you think you’d get back in outside the Conservative ticket?

      Reply: I am quite sure UKIP wouldn’t win. Why do I need to re-run the last election?

      Thats getting real, Mr Redwood.
      Your bluff has been called.
      Too much to lose, eh?

      1. dan
        September 1, 2011

        Seriously, thats the reply?……thats classic ‘fobbing off’.

        Very disappointing.

  35. Steve Whitfield
    August 30, 2011

    I hope this group becomes very influential and really annoys people like Nick Clegg, John Major ,Michael Heseltine,Chris Patten ,Kenneth Clark… and the many others who have consistenty been wrong about the European Union.

    1. APL
      August 30, 2011

      Steve Whitfield: ” .. and really annoys people like ..”

      That would be the Tory party then?

      1. Steve Whitfield
        August 30, 2011


        That is almost correct, I’m sure the letter will annoy the most influential part of the Tory party that doesn’t have a problem with overturning centuries of history and denying generations to come their democratic birthright.
        I think John Redwood would agree that the Eurosceptic’s in the party are in a minority and have been on the back foot since the days of Major. I suspect some of the enthusiasts for integration share his views but suppress them publically so as not to harm their promotion prospects.

  36. Paul
    August 30, 2011

    Typical deceitful conservative drivel designed to appease genuine eurosceptics. As many have already commented, the ONLY solution is for Britain to pull out of the EU altogether. The British people have been fooled for decades into believing that our country genuinely benefits from EU membership by liberals hell-bent on destroying nation states. Of course, you’re right John, that the British people do not vote in general elections for genuine eurosceptic parties like UKIP. This is partly because there has never been any real communication, debate or discussion between politicians and the public on the ‘pros’ and cons of EU membership. The best we got was 10 mins in the Sky News debate in the 2010 General Election – which was full of untruths and deceit from all three party leaders. Slowly but surely the British people are wising up to the EU, but not fast enough. Although I am unsure John if you would prefer to see what most people want; Britain out of the EU altogether, I do believe you are one of the very few genuine Tory eurosceptics, but frankly there aren’t enough you in the Commons to make any real difference. Surely, you must see that the only way for Britain to survive from the claws of the monstrous EU is to leave it and therefore UKIP is really the only hope.

    Reply: I voted No in 1975 because I thought the EU would damage UK democracy and our economy. I have since accepted what I took to be the view of the British people, that they want to be in a “common market” but not governed by Brussels.

    1. Paul
      August 30, 2011

      From that reply I take it that you would like to see Britain out of the EU, eventhough you have never said it in such words. I’m also pleased to see you support the EU referendum campaign, however, I’m slightly puzzled as to why you voted to increase EU powers by voting for a European External Action Service.

      Reply: I have always said I voted against membership when we had a referendum on the subject, and have ever since sought to limit the EU’s involvement in the UK to membership of a common market. I have always opposed common government. The EU diplomatic vote was from memory a take note motion, which was not going to alter the fact that Mr Hague had gone ahead. Were there to be a vote offering the chance to come out of the EAS I would vote for such a move.

  37. Anne Palmer
    August 30, 2011

    To Dan at 12.14 and Paul at 1.19 This Blog I believe is just one of the very few that allows all comments to remain on. (Unless perhaps they are very rude or offensive) Other blogs I have found, particularly by one well known MP that many believe is what others might think of as “eurosceptic” or as I like to put it, “fighting for their Country’s freedom from foreign Rule” are NOT what they seem to be at all, and are what I take as a “sop” to soak up and waste people’s time, yet collect more votes at election time.
    I still see them as traitors to their Country for too many people I knew gave their young lives fighting for this Country’s freedom (Yes! One young Sailor went down with the HOOD-which I doubt many of you even know what I am writing about) and what today’s politicians are doing now and have done ever since 1972 is indeed contrary to our own Constitution, and may well be treason for which at one time, they might have lost an important part of their body. Sadly now, I doubt there is a Judge that would take such a case.
    The present Leaders of this Country perhaps should take time to read that history and then look their children’s faces and try to think what kind of Country they are going to leave behind for THEM when they are trying to make their way in the World. Will they be hampered by too many EU Regulations (except that it will not be known as the European Union then of course) and if we remain in the EU now, there will be no Nation and Country known as the United Kingdom.

  38. APL
    August 30, 2011

    JR: “new”

    Thirteen instances of ‘NEW’ in that article Mr Redwood, don’t tell me you are employing the same bag of tricks that old rascal Blair used?

    JR: “but would do so sparingly and only after raising it with them to see if all EU members might like to repeal or amend the offending law.”

    Our democracy should be second tier to the EU, we would need to get their permission to act in our own best interests. You seem to think that describes democracy. It is not.

    JR: “The UK would be a democracy again, where one Parliament could not bind another in perpetuity by including the measure as an EU law.”

    A week or so ago, you asserted the constitutional tenet that no Parliament could bind its successor Parliamen,t still has effect. Today you seem to imply that it does not.

    Which is it?

    Reply: Parliament cannot bind its successor by UK law, but it can bind it by committing to an EU law if it has given up the will to change the EU arrangements or laws. This is the very issue we are arguing about.
    I am stressing the “new” as my “new” colleagues wish to make a new case about an old subject, to distinguish themselves from the bruising battles over Masstricht.

  39. Anne Palmer
    August 30, 2011

    Having read your reply to APL I think that you and your new colleagues have left it far too late to have any affect. Although quoted so often that “No Parliament may bind another” or words to that effect, Treaties are binding unless by one means or another they become obsolete through war, civil unrest and mutual agreement by all Parties involved of course. Even the first Treaty ratified was contrary to our Common law Constitution and if we went through each EU Treaty the people have a right to ignore it and all Treaties and their contents because each and every one is not compatible with our Constitution. Others on the continent can easily change their Written Constitutions because they were written after World War II. Ours is very old and cannot be altered easily, but to get round that Government have simply ignored them.

    Mr Cameron however, is intent on bringing out a new Bill of Rights, which I suspect he will allow a referendum on, perhaps allowing people believe that it will out rank and balance out the Human Rights Act. Many people will perhaps vote for the NEW, only to find in the acceptance of the New they have wiped out the best Bill of Rights any people ever had, the Declaration and Bill of Rights 1688/9 and the great Magna Carta admired through-out the World, yet once that treacherous deed has been done, the people will find that the EU over-rides even the NEW Bill of Rights-the main objective in bringing out the new is for the people to destroy their own.

    Perhaps it should be mentioned that when Magna Carta was used once before, it removed much authority from the British Crown-which government over the years have made great use of in the Crown’s name. If it is used against the Government of this Country-and it is there to be used should the need arise to save this Country from foreign rule forever-there may never be another Government ever again. (Remember the Magna Carta will have no master!) Having written that, if we never have a government that is prepared to take us out of the EU ‘err long, exactly the same thing will happen-we will have no real UK Government,- so, perhaps Magna Carta has yet another part to play for rather it is used by the people so they are free to govern themselves without a Government or not use it and eventually they will be governed directly through EU regions without their own Government anyway. Which should the people choose?

    Reply: It is never too late, nor is it suddenly easy to construct an alliance to win votes after years of MPs declining to vote in such a direction.

  40. rapscallion
    August 30, 2011

    Your whole article John is a non-starter. We don’t have to ‘negotiate’ anything with the EU. We just leave. We most certainly don’t need their ruddy permission.

    Moreover it strikes me that for years, nay decades we’ve all been reading about how eurosceptic the Conservative party is, yet since being back in government again you have actually been voting for more powers to be transferred to the EU. I can only conclude therefore that the Conservative party isn’t actually eurosceptic at all, and if as you claim, there are plenty of ‘eurosceptic’ MP’s that why haven’t they actually DONE ANYTHING to repatriate powers to the British parliament.

    The truth is – and you won’t admit it, is that the problem lies with the UK parliament. You could get us out but somehow you never vote for it. For all your talk – you’ve DONE NOTHING in terms of ACTION.

    Reply: I have always said the problem lies with the UK Parliament! I have reguarly voted for less Europe, but too few MPs do the same. If there were an easy way of fixing I would, but there isn’t.

    1. dan
      August 31, 2011

      Get your group of like minded colleagues to force the issue…resign your seats.
      Have some integrity, man.

      Reply: I stood for election on a sensible Eutrosceptic ticket and am keeping to all that I said. How does that lack integrity?

  41. Steven Woolfe
    August 31, 2011

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    You have recieved a huge amount of response to your letter. However, I wonder if you would clarify one thing for us all. Is your political view ( a) the United Kingdom should withdraw from the EU by repealing the 1972 ACT or (b) as your letter and blogs appear to suggest, you favour the view that the UK should remain a member of the EU albeit staying out of the Euro and retaining certian vetos / competencies.

    If you would be so kind to assist that would be much a ppreciated.


    S Woolfe

    Reply My view is very clear and has been for years. I voted No to staying in the EEC in 1975. I have ever since tried to implement the wishes of the UK people in that referendum, which I took to be an endorsement of a single market but no acceptance of transfers of governing power. That is why I have subsequently opposed the Euro, Nice, Amsterdam, Lisbon etc

    1. Steven Woolfe
      September 1, 2011

      Thank you John, I now have a clearer understanding of your position, namely:

      a. you did not want to be in the EEC.
      b. but accepted that the voters at that time did, so are pursuing a course of opposing the EU where it strays from the principle of the that vote, namely endorsement of a single market.

      I can see that does mean remaining in the EU, but trying to oppose, amend, or otherwise directives, rules and / or regulations to ensure the single market provisons remain. I am grateful that you have opposed the increasing powers of the EU and identified the arguments where this has occured e.g Lisbon.

      However, I respectfully dont agree with your analysis that remaining in the EU and trying to implement the wishes of the people for a single market by opposing such EU regulations that that fall contrary to the single market works achieves such a result. However, I do appreciate that it is an honestly held view that such oppostion in its current form can do so.

      I too would prefer to have a single trading market with European partners. However, my analysis and conclusion is that, (a) the current EU structure and supporting treaties are not the appropriate economic or political framework to achieve such an aim, (b) there are alternatives to the current structure, for example some simply propose Treaties entered into by soveriegn states on specific markets, (c) attempting to amend the EU framework by proposing changes, amending directives or even offering more power to the parliament etc are simply doomed to failure, and (d) as the current framework fails to achive the aim, trying to work with the EU is for change is fanciful nonsense, the best interests of the UK are served by withdrawing from the current EU (either unilaterally by repealing the European Act or offering a referendum on the same proposition) and commencing negotiations for treaties to do so.

      Reply: yes, there are other theoretical options which would be better than the current position or the position I am trying to achieve. I do not see how any of these can be reached from where we are. This has to be a journey of many steps.

  42. Vanessa
    September 1, 2011

    It is not just ever closer union that we should be fighting but the humungous cost of being a member. And not just our membership fee but the fines and taxes on top , e.g. landfill tax and fines for not flying the flag of stars. Also all the interference like the banning of 100w and now 60w light bulbs, driving with headlights on 24 hours a day (in the pipeline) what a waste of fuel! How anybody can say the EU is beneficial to the UK is beyond belief. Our food bills have shot up due to the tarrifs and barriers the EU puts in place, our inability to trade with Africa because it is too expensive for them. The destruction of our fishing waters, our farming industry, our aluminium industry, our steel industry – the list goes on and on. Why are politicians so in love with the EU? Surely this short list above is evidence that the EU is NOT good for the economy, not good for democracy – but it is obviously good for politicians !!!! Could it be anything to do with money?!!!

    Reply: Only MEPs get money from the EU. Westminster and local politicians do not get any cash from the EU. Some foolishly think the UK gets EU cash for projects which we should be grateful for, failing to understand that we only get back a fraction of what we pay in.

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