The Anglo-German meeting

 

            The UK’s foreign policy objectives are currently very muddled.  The UK wants the Euro area to adopt bond buying and quantitative easing. This would delay but not prevent the ultimate crash of the Euro. It would mean bigger debts and more unemployment by the time  Greece and other weaker members are finally driven out, or Germany decides to leave as it is all too costly. It is difficult to believe the southern states can become competitive within the zone, or that Germany will be prepared to pay all the bills to keep it going.

              The UK wishes the Eurozone to integrate more rapidly, adding political union to monetary union. This would create a strong new country on the continent, something previous generations have fought against. The UK wishes to have a “seat at the top table” despite not wishing to be part of this new political union. It is difficult to see how this could  work.  The UK does not wish to make further financial contributions directly to the poorer areas in the EU, but will do so indirectly through the IMF.

              The UK government should think again. Instead of this muddle the UK should start from the proposition of what is best for the UK, and then set about selling it to the other EU members. The UK should use every bargaining strength it has. It has two major ones. The first is Euroland needs UK consent to Treaty changes. The second is 80% of the British people do not support our current relationship, and either want to leave or want substantial powers of self government returned to us. The UK government should grasp just how frightened of referenda the EU now is, and could  threaten one.

               So what do we want out of our relationship with the rest of the EU and Euroland?  We want a peaceful friendship. We want to carry on trading on sensible terms. We need some agreements to cover detailed matters like air and sea links, matters of common environmental importance like pollution and noise, double taxation arrangements, and an extradition system. We have these type of agreements with non EU countries through bilateral negotiation and international treaties, but for the EU they are now subsumed within the acquis communitaire or common law codes. Many of us at least want our full rebate back on the budget, as the EU did not deliver the reform of agricultural spending promised as the offset. A new relationship could clarify where we are happy with shared law making, and how ti should be decided.

             On defence and foreign afairs we should continue to make NATO the cornerstone. We should politely decline  further involvement in EU based defence initiatives. Foreign policy should remain a UK matter. We might take a common stance with the rest of the EU where it suited them and us, but each matter should  be judged on its merits and subject to veto or opt out.

             On trade and commerce we should simplify. All we really need is the right to offer goods and services for sale. This does not need to be complicated by hundreds of laws laying out in detail how you make a tyre or provide an insurance policy. Given the huge accretion of law and regulation I suggest negotiating the right for the UK to disapply any EU regulation that the UK Parliament does not accept. First the UK would offer amendment or repeal to all EU members as our preferred way of tackling it, setting out our reasons. If the EU disagrees we should have the power to disapply the measure through Parliamentary process.

              The same should apply to areas like the environment, transport and energy where the EU has come to legislate and regulate substantially.

                 The EU should be given a simple choice. If it offers us such a deal then the UK government would recommend it to the British people and would  campaign to carry the vote in a referendum. If the EU refuses to give us a satisfactory deal the UK would still have a referendum, and the British people might decide to leave altogether. As a concession to the rest of the EU the UK might offer a different arrangement on the EU budget, as otherwise the UK could opt itself out on a permanent basis. In practice our budget contribution would need to be negotiated in the light of how much we stayed in. If we took ourselves out of the agriculture policy, for example, we would need a substantial reduction in fee.

 

 

 

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130 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I agree fully with every word of this but it is not going to happen under Cameron and Clegg is it? How can we force a move in this direction?

    • me
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Vote UKIP.

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Voting UKIP makes it even less likely to happen – but I would at MEP level – not that that will make any difference.

        • rose
          Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Lifelogic, we do this too. It is all we can do. Letting in a socialist/liberal coalition would be disastrous – as it always has been in whatever form it takes.

    • Tedgo
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      I think the only way to get the governments attention will be a mass withholding of Council Tax as this is the only stick we still control.

      Think of Maggie and poll tax.

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      I hold John in high regard and wish the likes of him were in cabinet. He is not because of the views he holds- Cameron does not want to select him nor does he share John’s views. However John’s analysis is wrong because the project is about political ideology NOT economics.

      None of the other EU countries have made a comment let alone a protest of the EU taking over Ireland, Greece or Italy. Acquiescence is helping Germany takeover Europe and have a stronger say in the way the pan European state is to be led ie looking and approving Ireland’s budget before Ireland’s puppet politicians do.

      German ministers have made it clear this week that there is no room for negotiation. They have seen Cameron as weak because of his coalition with Lib Dems and his own personality. If the EU will not negotiate on the CAP after we gave them more money why has not Cameron not pursued this? He gave up on reclaiming money for Strasburg about two weeks ago. Why on earth do you think they will entertain any renegotiation or that Cameron will seek any substantive new terms?

      Rogue nations, through economics or opposing the ideology, are being taken over. They want the transaction tax to place the UK in an indefensible position so it will be easy for the EU to take over the UK.

      What has Cameron done to speak up for Ireland? The country and “close friend” “we” thought so much about to lend it £7 billion contrary to what Cameron said about helping bail out EU countries. Another £9 billion bail out money in July to the IMF and another tranche of money going to the IMF in the near future. While spinning lies that the UK will not contribute. We already have and are going to continue helping EU bail outs that we cannot afford and do not have to contribute towards. This is not the actions of a person who will negotiate- pure fantasy to think so.

      The money the UK gives to the IMF will bail out Greece which will help them pay for the 6 submarines they are buying from Germany. Why doesn’t Germany and Greece cancel the order and save the billions leaving out the UK and other countries from bailing them out??

      All the negative talk from Germany about the UK and its lack of help. Why doesn’t Germany put its hands in its pocket, they created the scheme that its economy is profiting from. Germany allowed countries to act against the rules of the wretched Maastricht Treaty. Let them have the consequences of their actions- tough.

      I appreciate what you say about some of the federalist MPs not voting against Europe, but they must wake up as well. Public opinion is growing that Germany has embarked on a take over of Europe and they do not want to be part of it. Clegg will not want to hear it , but people will return to the principles of the second world war because it is in our genes not to forget the horrors that German enacted to fulfil its fanatical dreams.

      Heseltine last week still thinks it is good to join the Euro for goodness sake. He has lost the plot through ideology and will never change his mind. Clegg, Alexander and Huhne will never change their minds either. Cameron is advised by Major who led the UK into the Maastrich Treaty and ERM.

      The idea of renegotiating the terms of the UK to the EU are over. The other side will not entertain it no matter how sensible your proposals are. They will falsely listen while working out how to undermine your position or that of the country to get their way.

      There is only one choice- out of the EU ASAP. Stop any payments as of now.

      • uanime5
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        This post is full of paranoia and ignorance but very few facts.

        The EU hasn’t taken over any country. The leaders of Greece and Italy were removed as a condition of receiving bailout money because they were responsible for their countries getting into financial trouble. However the Parliaments of Greece and Italy decided who the new Prime Ministers would be. The recent election in Ireland had been planned since November 2010 (the previous election was in 2007).

        The German government have constantly had coalitions, so it’s unlikely that they’d regard coalitions as weak. Coalitions are common in most democracies.

        The ‘rogue nations’ you claim are being taken over are the ones that have the most financial problems. So taking them over will greatly weaken whoever is trying to control them. It would be like trying to merge with Enron.

        The transaction tax applies to all EU countries, not just the UK.

        As John Redwood explained if we wish to remain in the inner circle in Europe we will have to join the Euro and integrate further. If not we can remain on the outer part of the EU with all the countries trying to join the Euro and Denmark (like the UK it has a Euro opt-out).

        • David Price
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

          Those leaders were not removed because they caused the debts.

          The World Bank set the precedent for this kind of conditional loan when France was it’s first client – you only get the money if you remove undesirable elements from your government.

          Please do not try to pretend there is any democratic process or freedom of choice involved here. The elected Italian leader has been replaced by an unelected ex-EU official, how is that democratic?

          • sjb
            Posted November 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

            The democratic element is satisfied because Mario Monti was confirmed by the Italian parliament.

            What seems to me of more concern is his past dealings with Goldman Sachs because their cross currency swaps with fictional exchange rates helped mask true levels of sovereign debt.
            Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,676634,00.html

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Germnay knows the Uk is dependent on the City of London because it raises 30% of our tax. If they dominated this the UK would be financially sunk and they could hold the country to ransom as they have Ireland, Greece and Italy.

      Germany created the single currency and allowed other countries to act contrary to the Maastricht Treaty by running up huge debts, it should have stepped in much earlier. Now they have created the mess and allowed its continuance they should pay for it NOT the UK.

      Cameron is using Major as an advisor on foreign policy- more fool him. Major was a Europhile. Would this not be contrary to Cameron’s stated position on Europe? Cameron was an advisor to Lamont at this time of a Tory Europhile government. Major took the country into Maastricht and tried the ERM to our huge cost. Major should be left out of the equation as a failure to UK interests- but here is the thing, Cameron was part of the last Tory failure in Europe.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        When Lamont went to see Major to explain the only sensible course of action with respect to getting out of the terrible ERM mess, Major got his europhile buddies, Hurd, Clarke and Heseltine, in on the meeting so Lamont was out-manoeuvered. The europhile position of staying in the ERM prevailed and Black Wednesday followed thereafter.

        • rose
          Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Hurd has been allowed to have his bad record forgotten. He was no help to Mrs T when she was in the same position, being stabbed in the back as well as out-manouevered

          • rose
            Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, terrible typo – out-manoeuvred.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          Lamont should have resigned at that point instead of making a complete fool of himself by hanging on for months thereafter.

          • rose
            Posted November 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Yes, he should have, as his betters did before him – Enoch, and his 2 co-ministers at the Treasury when Macmillan introduced money printing and inflation. John Major’s PPS did resign over the ERM, explaining that his mother was German and he knew the Germans couldn’t go on a picnic without wanting to run it. Unfortunately, this time they didn’t.

          • Alan Wheatley
            Posted November 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            In his political autobiography, “In Power”, Norman Lamont says that he did consider resigning and explains why he did not do so. Probably it would have been best for his long term reputation if he had resigned, but he comes over as a team player taking one for the team.

          • rose
            Posted November 21, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

            He also judged Robin Cook’s resignation to have been an old-fashioned honourable one, whereas it looked much more like a leadership bid to me, because of its timing.

      • uanime5
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        The whole financial sector only contributes 10% of GDP, so it’s impossible for the City to provide 30% of out taxes.

        Also your conspiracy requires that every European country runs up as much debt as possible. Had these countries shown more self-control if would have failed.

        • David Price
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          I believe you are comparing apples and oranges, it depends on how you measure it but GDP likely includes government expenditure so I don’t see how you correlate the two.

          PWC reckoned in December 2010 that the financial sector contributed 11.4% of taxes in 2010 while a recent BoE report suggests that the finance sector contributes around 7.7% of GDP, though it states that calculating the contribution is difficult.

          If this is still the case then it is quite possible for the proportion of tax contribution to signicantly exceed the GDP contribution – by these numbers tax contribution was roughly 148% of GDP contribution.

          Not sure about conspiracy but how many times has the European Stability and Growth Pact been allowed to be broken by how many countries? It seems the much vaunted laws and rules of the EU are disposable when it suites the EU elite.

        • Disaffected
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          Germany could have and should have stepped in at any time to stop the overspending as it was against the rules of the MAastricht Treaty- the rules of the game. A bit late moaning once the horse has bolted and you enticed the horse out of the stable.

          As for the EU not taking over, then pray tell why the German politicians are allowed to approve Ireland’s budget before their puppet parliament views it?

      • Bob
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        The Tobin tax once established will be increased a little each year, just like every other tax. It could be the final straw for the UK, because the financial sector could move to Singapore (where they would be most welcome), and so the UK would lose another major revenue stream and the direct and indirect employment it creates.

        Bar Stool Economics
        Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

        The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
        The fifth would pay $1.
        The sixth would pay $3.
        The seventh would pay $7.
        The eighth would pay $12.
        The ninth would pay $18.
        The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

        So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.”
        Drinks for the ten now cost just $80

        The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

        They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay! And so…

        The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
        The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
        The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
        The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
        The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
        The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

        Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

        “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”

        “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

        “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

        “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

        The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

        And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

        David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
        Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

        • Bazman
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          For a kick off. David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
          Professor of Economics, University of Georgia Did not write this.
          Most parables like this are complete crap and this is no exception. It is an apologist stance for simpletons justifying tax cuts for the rich and the main point of the rich leaving is completely false. Bernie Ecclestone is quoted as saying that few successful businessmen work for the money….. It’s not the main aim. Maybe he should tell the Tories?
          Tax cuts for the rich proponents are often made by people who know that when they climb out from under their stones will have their ideas ripped to shreds. Hence the amount of one post wonders on this site. Your church is wrong and we are starting to see this inequality of income hit the middle classes quite hard.

    • Vincent
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Its not going to happen period, irrespective of who is Prime Minister. The EU is a one-way ratchet and all this discussion of an a la carte Europe is just a waste of space. The fact that the likes of J Redwood and D Davis can seriously consider it possible merely exposes how deluded they are.

      Its the EU or EFTA make up your mind, there is no middle ground.

      Reply: The issue is how do we get to be able to make a sensible decision with a pro federal Parliament and so many MPs voting against a referendum?

  2. alan jutson
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I agree with much of your post John, the UK Government appears very confused.

    Perhaps Mr Cameron does not really know what he wants, all he seems interested in at the moment is for the Euro to save itself somehow, without a direct cost to us (IMF contributuions excluded). He seems very reluctant to use the present position as any sort of bargaining chip for the UK interest.

    His problem is that too many country’s are in debt and denial, and only one (Germany) can possibly help bail them out, but the debt is so large, even they cannot afford it, even if their citizens wanted to.

    Quite honestly, the sooner it all goes pear shaped and each country finds solution to its own problems, with its own exchange rate, the better. Yes, a huge amount of pain at the time, but surely better that than an even bigger collapse in a few months time.

    If Europe does get together on one fiscal policy, theUK will be marginalised, no question, and I guarantee that they will not be reluctant to turn the screw on us.

    Wth regard to your suggestion of still making contributions, sorry why, we simply need to trade with these people, as do others around the world. If we can have some other agreements as you suggest, that are in the common interest of all country’s, then why pay, its a surely a mutual benefit for all, no payments needed.

    Reply: I would rather not make any payments, but I am trying to find common ground with the majority in Parliament who still think the EU matters. We need to offer them a possible negotiation that they can buy into, and then see what happens, with a referendum lock on the result.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      To reply: Why do you think that the majority in the commons feel as they do (against the will of 80%+ of voters) yet none are able to put forwards a single rational argument to defend their pro EU stance?

      Trade and a seat at the table are clearly not rational arguments.

      • rose
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Timidity and a lack of national self confidence.

  3. A.Sedgwick
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    A well argued piece.

    If Germany leaves the Euro it becomes pointless and will collapse and if it collapses the EU collapses, this is Germany’s dilemna in a sentence. If she throws her wealth behind the Euro it could survive and the country would dominate a Europe super state. Whether the German people want this political ambition is doubtful, many if not most liked the DM and did not want the Euro at all.

    “Instead of this muddle the UK should start from the proposition of what is best for the UK” – this has not happened for the last 14 years of Government, the survival and success of the political party and the ego of its leaders have been the driving factors.

    • NickW
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Part of the reason for the present situation is that Europe corrupts all the politicians and staff who work in the European Government by giving them enormous “expenses” which bear no relationship to the legitimate costs incurred, enormous salaries on top of the expenses, and

      Tax FREE status.

      National politicians are bribed and corrupted to forget their national loyalties and bow to the unelected masters of the EU.

      Clegg and the other Lib Dem’s stance on Europe has nothing to do with national interest and everything to do with their future financial security working for what is now becoming an occupying power. The same applies to other politicians looking for an insurance policy in case they lose their seat.

      Think just for a minute of the Greek EU officials who enjoy tax free status, forcing penal taxation on their own countrymen.

      It’s interesting to note too that the Italians are urged to make tremendous sacrifices for the good of Italy, the Greeks are urged to make tremendous sacrifices for the good of Greece, but the Germans are expected to give away all their money “For the good of Europe”.

      • rose
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear Nick.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        The Germans aren’t expected to give away all their money for the good of Europe. This is a calling of bluff.

        If they want the eurozone so badly then they should put their money where their mouth is. If they’re not prepared to do so then …

        It’s a good reality check for them.

    • davidb
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      I reserve my general opinions about EU membership. On the idea that the collapse of the Euro is the collapse of the EU, where did that notion come from? What difference does it make to a free trade area whether they pay for goods and services in Euros, gold dust or cowrie shells? It would result in a period of economic hardship as the fissures open up and markets reprice all the currencies relatively, and I don’t doubt that more banksters will be crying, their hands outstretched, to their ex schoolmates in the governments of the member states, but once the adjustment is over we are all back to trading again. Where does the currency take on the status of all or nothing for the whole EU?

      On the subject of the desirability of Mr Redwood being in the cabinet, its probably better for us that he is where he is. His voice would be drowned out by collective responsibility, and he would not be permitted to openly criticise the government on this wonderful blog. I have learned a great deal over the past few years reading this blog and the comments beneath. I wouldn’t want to have to lurk elsewhere.

  4. JimF
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A very convincing and succinct piece. Please put it in your back pocket for use in a Conservative Party Election Broadcast at the next GE. I think then you might have found your cure for UKIPitis.

    • Bob
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      So, keep Mr.Redwood on the backbenches, but wheel him out at election time to give the party a veneer of credibility.

      How very New Tory!

      Reply: I wheel myself out daily
      .

      • Bob
        Posted November 20, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Sorry, you’re right, you wheel yourself out daily to give the party a veneer of credibility.

        Reply: To represent my constituents, and people like you who are always saying what I do is not good enough, but you lack anyone who has actually got elected to the Commons to do more for you.

        • Bob
          Posted November 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          I applaud and respect you Mr. Redwood, but fear that your efforts are just giving the Tories a semblance of credibility that they do not deserve. I’m afraid that the Lib Dems have far too much influence over and maybe inside the Tory Party, thanks to your current leader.

  5. NevermindtheMolluscs
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Do Cameron and Osbourne exist in cosy little bubbles insulated from the realities of life for ordinary people? I run my own small business by myself and see the tenacious grip EU legislation has upon the construction industry. In addition, usually have too much work for one person (often 10% of my time is spent on accounting, another 15% admin). I have no holidays, no sick pay and bu..er all pension to look forwards to having single handedly put my daughter through med school. Based on the experience of a close friend who also runs her own business I do not want to employ someone- she took on a young woman who promptly announced her pregnancy and demanded employment rights that my friend and I could only dream of.
    It is this sort of EU sourced legislation (enthusiastically embraced by Blair and his wife) that is killing small businesses.
    I avidly read your column for crumbs of comfort amongst your words of wisdom that there is someone amongst the bunch of elected donkeys who does see the danger to the Uk as we know it. Renegotiation of British interests is the very least Cameron should be doing. I prefer a Referendum and exit from the EU.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      It was fascinating listening to Question Time on Radio 4 yesterday when a TU Boss said that he had very mixed feelings about the EU. After a bit of blah about democracy, he admitted that it was the legislation which you have just been describing that made him a keen supporter of parts of the EU policy.

      Remember that the Labour party, to say the very least, has strong ties with the TU movement.

      Excellent piece in today’s Telegraph about your sad plight.

  6. Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    We are in a strong position. Do you think the government is being timid because it fears trade-war with Europe, or is it just a doctrinaire attachment to the union and/or hopes of lucrative seats on the commission?

  7. Pete the Bike
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Cameron is frightened that a threat of referendum would result in his replacement by an EU commissar as it has in Greece. Of course Berlusconi didn’t even have to make a public mention of democracy to be given the boot so maybe Dave’s already been warned not to cross his EU masters.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      No all Berlusconi need to do was ruin his country’s economy, be more worried about his new album being delayed than his country’s economy, falling asleep during a meeting with leaders of EU countries regarding how to save his country’s economy, and bragging about his sex life (etc). It it any wonder than Italy didn’t get a bailout until they had a more competent leader.

  8. Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Funny how some have said we should leave the EU but not the EEA, as we’d still be stuck with the pernickerty single market regulations you’ve alluded to. Are they frightened Brussels would impose an import levy if we left both? If that happened, our retaliatory levy would truly cripple the eurozone, thanks to the balance of trade discrepancy. So if necessary we can blackmail a free trade, no single market treaty out of Brussels. And then watch other countries leave the EU shortly afterwards……..!

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Any goods sold in the EU has to comply with EU law. So even if we left the EU our exports would have to meet EU standards.

  9. Duyfken
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    The quickest way to focus minds on what needs to be done, is to place a freeze on all payments to Brussels, subject to satisfactory settlement of what the UK requires. Would that be in breach of EU regulations, and even if so, as Ed Balls famously said: so what?

  10. Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you should be PM?

    Mr Cameron doesn’t have the bottle to against the EU.

  11. Liz
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Germany wants to keep the Euro but does not want to pay for it on her own – she wants others -notably the UK to share the costs mainly through the proposed financial transaction tax, She wants the advantages that the Euro has given her making her goods cheaper to export (which she does not admit to) but not take the consequences of this in supporting it in hard times. She also loves to dominate the rest of Europe – her 20th century dream. Although we have strong cards in our hand in negotiating with the EU I do not believe that we will play them to our advantage or at all. There does not seem to be the will – even without the LibDems for such a course of action – which requires steely determination. My guess is that the Government will capitulate to almost all demands, the transaction tax will go through and that they will wriggle out of any demand for a refererendum on any new treaty. We will further beggar ourselves for the Euro and the EU. I hope I am wrong.

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    When David Cameron stood up during the time when the Conservatives were in the wilderness and made his first speech, I listened rapt with attention. He was saying all the things which I wanted so badly to hear! Very exciting!

    Now Europe is drifting very fast towards technocracy, away from the democracy, which we built up together at the end of the Second World War. On our historic continent democracy is in no way either natural or inevitable. In the middle of this dangerous and seminal time, the government is strangely silent. I do not see any plans at all like the (clear, well thought out and do-able) ones above. Just a fairly useless visit to Mrs Merkel, many of whose voters simply cannot understand why we don’t either just walk away or alternatively jump right in.

    Meanwhile, the economy is slowly sinking beneath the waves and government spending is drifting upwards towards the targets set by Mr Brown.

    At Eton, whatever the merits of that school, Mr Cameron must have learned leadership. And so did his other Cabinet Members at their (outstanding) schools. So let us see what these very privileged people produce in our hour of need.

    • Bob
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Remember the Cambridge Five!

  13. Boudicca
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    If Mr Redwood was Prime Minister, I would still be a Conservative Party member. Unfortunately, we have Call Me Dave and he and the other pro-EU CONservative elite are running the show.

    The LibLabCon will not be able to ignore public opinion on the EU for very much longer. When 80%+ of the population want a Referendum and a reasonable majority simply want to leave, their policy will have to change. Crunch time will be the 2014 EU Parliament elections (if the Commissars don’t cancel them) when I expect the British people will vote UKIP the winners. That will give the Party a huge boost before the General Election in 2015.

    Meanwhile, it is OUR politicians that are keeping us trapped inside the EU, not foreign ones. They have betrayed the British people in their determination to build a European Superstate, dominated by France and Germany with us inside – and we shouldn’t forget it. Quislings come in all shapes and sizes – and they are all featured on the Red and Green benches in Westminster.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Given that less the half the population votes in elections don’t expect too much of a change.

  14. John merop
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    As a former conservative party member (now ukip), if you were able to bring the above to reality, I would rejoin the conservative party.

  15. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Even if they appear muddled, it is for the first time in decades that the UK’s foreign policy objectives are based on a majority of the electorate. In a proper proportional democracy you would have had over 100 UKIP MPs and it might have been easier for eurosceptic ideals, but that’s not the case. Whatever changes you aspire must first be agreed with the sensible LibDems, which will have a dampening effect on any repatriation of powers, even though “now” doesn’t seem a bad moment in time to exact some quid-pro-quo from the EU. Maybe that is exactly what Mr Cameron is already trying to do in his various meetings with EU partners. The wish-list in this blog is very long and each item would have a price. The EU is not a weak negotiation partner and could well function without the UK.

    Reply: How do you get from 3% to 100 MPs? The British people would decide whether to stay or go, so I suspect the rest of the EU would make concessions as they get so much out of our current membership.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      In real proportional elections like the EP elections UKIP scored 16% and 17%. I realise of course that in national elections there are also national issues that affect voter choice, but the FPTP system makes people vote for the largest few parties. Aren’t the eurosceptic proportions in continental parliaments far larger than in eurosceptic Britain, and doesn’t UKIP align with many national Tory policies? (a similar story of under–representation could be told for the Greens, if one compares with proportional democracies). I also realise that there are quite a few eurosceptic MPs among the Tories, but I remain convinced that in a proportional system in Britain the eurosceptic policy would be more pronounced. (So basically I should be happy if you keep your FPTP system!)

      I’m sure many countries want the UK inside the EU (I’m sure any Dutch government would love it) and I’m sure that concessions would be made, like in the past, but at any price for the EU, I don’t think so.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      “The EU is not a weak negotiation partner and could well function without the UK.”

      And we, of course, would be far better off with the Commonwealth which is exactly the kind of organisation which our political leaders are assuming (wrongly) the EU to be – or at least that is what they tell us.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 20, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        For preventing the financial transaction tax taking hold in Europe, leaving the EU in favour of the Commonwealth is not the best move.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I agree the UK government should rethink foreign policy.

    If the UK does run with your proposal to seek a substantially different relationship with the EU, then two further things need to happen in parallel.

    Firstly, for change to be successful and receive popular support it is necessary not just to highlight all that is wrong with current arrangements but also to explain the alternative and to show how it would be much better. In this case the alternative is not just a different relationship with the EU but the UK’s relationship with the rest of the World, in particular the Commonwealth. We are continually being fed the line that the UK’s trade within the EU is so important to our future wellbeing that it must be maintained at all costs: my view is that if this trade is indeed “too big to fail” then we need a different, diversified plan for trade.

    Secondly, it is all well and good for the UK to seize the moment as being a good opportunity to renegotiate, but negotiations take two (or 27 in this case). What happens if the other 26 do not want to play the renegotiation game? Or, if Cameron really does push hard, talks that the 26 use to delay, obfuscate and confuse? All previous negotiations indicate the UK will never get all it wants, so in this case where are the “red lines”, who decides where they are, and how do we decide what constitutes “success”? Certainly the UK will get nowhere renegotiating if it does not have prepared a credible plane in the event of “failure”, as should the 26 simply say “NO” that leaves the UK humbled and subservient, and with nowhere to go other than ever closer union.

    If leaving the EU is to be one possible outcome of a re-thought foreign policy then the work must be done NOW to be able to show to the UK population that it is a viable and credible option.

    Reply: My proposal is to have a referendum on the result of the renegotiation, so the people could decide to leave if the EU does not offer sensible terms.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      I do understand your position, John. But a referendum on such a basis only makes sense if there is a clear, credible plan for implementing the “leave” option, and I see no sign of that in the offing. Further, just because you think renegotiation is a sensible course, and for the sake of the argument lets say it is sensible from the UK perspective, there seems to me little prospect of finding a counter-party ready, willing and able to negotiate the EU position.

      Reply: Fine, we then proceed straight to a referendum. I think you all refuse to engage with how we persuade more MPs to start this crucial journey to a different relationship with the EU. It’s no good just saying pull out – they are not going to do that.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted November 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        John, whether you proceed straight to a referendum (IN on current terms or OUT) or negotiate new terms and then have a referendum (IN on renegotiated terms or OUT), OUT has to be seen to be a credible option.

        I have commented elsewhere about issues relating to “renegotiation”.

        As to persuasion, that probable needs to come out of a debate on the UK’s future in the World and how the EU should feature. The Conservative Party and the population at large need to catch up on these matters after there being pushed into the background for too long.

        Renegotiation is not policy but a plan, and to get support plans need to be seen as an effective means of achieving an objective.

        Reply: There are very few MPs who would vote for a simple In/Out referendum or for the UK to leave. That is why I think we need to go on a journey, and expose the poor deal we are currently getting, giving the enthusiaists for the EU the chance to negotiate a deal the pople might buy. All the purists who just want out never explain how they are going to achieve this. I voted for out in 1975 and lost. The people wanted something else. We need to reflect that in how we now proceed.

        • Bob
          Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          Another reply to reply.

          In 1975 the people voted on a false prospectus.
          They were offered a common market, not an EEC or EC or EU.
          The real objective was always in the Treaty of Rome but the general public were not informed about it, and there was no internet at that time, people didn’t even know what a PC was in those days.

          Our source of information at that time was the press and broadcast media and they deliberately misinformed the public that this was just a free trade agreement with no intention of political union. Any sceptical broadcasters were promptly moved aside or retired early to make way for more compliant ones. This is where the rot set in.

          Reply: I read the Treaty of Rome which was quite clearly a federal Treaty. That was why I voted No

      • Val Duncan
        Posted November 20, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        reply to reply.

        It’s no good just saying pull out – they are not going to do that.
        *******************************************

        Maybe, someone should remind them that we have long memories and they could well be kicked at the ballot box if they don’t listen to the things people want?
        Fever is getting high, names are being saved and much more of this… you WILL stay in the EU because WE want it that way… and people are going to get very, very ‘upset’….yes?

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    When I read of this “muddle” I become even more suspicious of the true intentions of the UK government. Yesterday’s meeting on the face of it seemed a long way to go for lunch. Again it is what we are not being told that is relevant. I do not trust any of our cabinet when it comes to the EU. Your party colleagues have the ready made excuse that the EU’s placemen Clegg and Huhne won’t allow them to take the necessary steps to deal with this mafia style organisation. I have repeatedly referred to the EU as anti-democratic not just undemocratic. There can surely be no doubt about that now after the events in Greece and Italy. Your own colleagues show scant regard for democracy when they call for political union in the eurozone over the heads of the people in those countries. Democracy is for the Middle East and North Africa not for the countries of Europe. The sooner we cease to be members of this rotten gang the better.

    • Tim
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      This is a good post and I agree we haven’t heard a whisper from our Government about the political coups that have occurred in Italy and Greece. Disgraceful. They are forever quoting the 40% or 50% of trade we have with the EU, but we run a deficit of £50 billion last year and £262 billion net over 10 years. We also make a net contribution of over £10 billion for the benefit of foreign infrastructures and farmers. I’m told a significant amount of our trade to the EU is via Rotterdam (an export destination) to non EU countries but counts as EU trade. The same applies to Ireland who send their exports via Northern Ireland as they do not have ports with sufficient depth.
      We just need trade and friendship with our European neighbours. Nothing more and as one of the highest populated countries on the planet (England) we don’t want any more people or jobs being taken from our young people. Employers are paying the minimum wage but not for the public services. That’s passed onto us the English taxpayer.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      And do not forget Ireland where the budget has to be scrutinized by the Germans before being presented to the Irish parliament.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15788530

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      What’s undemocratic about 2 countries replacing their heads of state in exchange for bailout money? It’s no different than demanding a CEO retire before bailing out their company.

      • Bob
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Private companies also have to pass an annual audit!

        If the rules relating to company directors were applied to EU commissioners I suspect that they would all be in jail, with their company having been wound up.

  18. Mazz
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    … The UK government should think again. Instead of this muddle the UK should start from the proposition of what is best for the UK …

    Couldn’t agree more. I wish you were PM. A great post, thank you!

  19. Electro-Kevin
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    It’s not simply a case of a right or wrong policy. In or out. Closer union or our withdrawal to the periphery.

    It’s that this issue is so big – and the proposed changes so dramatic – that this really ought to be put to the country.

    What true democrat can possibly argue with that ?

    We need a referendum. We need a fairly run referendum and we need it now.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      NATO

      I thought the Soviet threat had subsided.

      I once heard the role of NATO described thusly:

      To keep the Russians out

      The Americans in …

      And the Germans down.

      • forthurst
        Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        …and that Afghan women enjoy a quality of education denied to English people.

  20. Robert
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    ”The UK government should grasp just how frightened of referenda the EU now is, and could threaten one.”

    Have you not grasped how afraid our government is of having one here? Cameron went to Berlin to assure Merkel we would not have a referendum on Treaty changes. This week so did the Irish and the Danes. They have form when it comes to regerenda.

  21. oldtimer
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    This is a sensible way to proceed but the difficulties are clear or perhaps that should be rephrased as unclear – as in the fog of war. The EU, and the EZ in particular, is in a serious financial mess with starkly differing financial interests at stake between the constituent states. It is not at all obvious that clear heads or clear thinking will prevail. The scope for misunderstanding and misrepresentation is very great. “Follow the money” is probably the best guide available for the UK and the EZ. That will provide answers that many EU politicians will find extremely disagreeable because of the incompatibility of interests that are laid bare for all to see.

  22. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    It looks as if the Euro is in intensive care, and it’s close relatives and fanatic supporters are refusing to accept that it’s brain-dead. How much more of Europe’s rapidly diminishing wealth/rapidly increasing debt and democratic deficit must be consumed before the acceptance of the inevitable?

  23. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Successful negotiation needs a understanding of the other party’s point of view. Seen from the perspective of the other 26, should the UK seek to change its relationship with the EU in such a fundamental way they may well think the game isn’t worth the candle. They could well say that if that really is the sincere and heartfelt view of the UK people, then it is best for all concerned for the UK to leave the EU.

    The UK needs a Plan B; the UK out of the EU.

  24. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the EU is a high risk undertaking for Cameron. While it is easy to say that a looser relationship is desirable, it is quite another matter to act to bring it about. All sorts of things could go wrong.

    There is the problem of determining just what is the new relationship we should be seeking: there are lots of possibilities and just as many opinions. Where do you draw the red lines? Just how much support will there be for the negotiating position: in the Party, in Parliament, in the country? “Conservative Party Splits on EU” type headlines can be readily foreseen.

    Assuming it is possible to arrive at enough of a consensus, what about the negotiations themselves? What would the other 26 do? What would be the outcome? Was it a success, and, more significantly, what would public opinion be? What if failure – where now? The safe course of action would be not to start negotiating until you were confident of success having sounded out the views of the other party (all 26 in this case), but the last thing the 26 want at this time of Euro crisis will be to wast time and effort talking to pesky old UK having another whinge.

    So the safer course for Cameron is to avoid renegotiation.

  25. Simon 123
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Very elegantly put. I agree with every word. John Kay of the Financial Times has said that the EU elite is fighting reality and will lose. I agree with that too.

    The British Government should do three things. (1) protect itself as far as possible against the unwelcome consequences of the Euro’s demise. (2) Formulate a shopping list of EU laws which must be abandoned in the UK if Britain is to remain inside the EU. (3) Promote a robust public debate culminating (when the time comes) in a national referendum about EU membership.

    ‘A robust public debate’ does not include the BBC and the rest of the left-wing press constantly banging on about Tory Party splits. To reduce debate to that level is to show contempt for the voters.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      So a robust debate means excluding anyone who won’t agree with you. Sounds like your idea is showing contempt for freedom of speech and democracy.

      • Val Duncan
        Posted November 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        uanime5

        So you agree that the BBC should be allowed to continue to slant their ‘so called’ fair news-speak so people only get their view and no other?
        EVERYONE who watches the BBC News has to pay for it, are they not beholden to give all sides of the debate and all views (even those they don’t much like)?

        As for the left-wing press… they never claim to be neutral so I guess their readers get what they pay for.

      • George Whitfield
        Posted November 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        The BBC and the press are platforms for debate – the are not meant to take part in the debate.

  26. Acorn
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    If you get a chance JR, please have a read of the following. It is the best I have seen on the subject so far. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,797626,00.html .

    The article is in four parts, the second part has a sub-heading “Parallel Democracy”, would appreciate your thoughts on this bit in particular. The old EU is dead, as the article says, but is the “Merkel Method” a legitimate way to go? Would I be mistaken if I said it was like the Redwood Model as described above?

    • John Maynard
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      I agree , Der Spiegel has a good summary.
      As the article says, Germany also resents the massive petty interference of the EU nomenklatura, but (mistakenly IMHO) believes that it can turn southern Europe (or most of it) into a model of German fiscal and financial rectitude.

      They are also correct in pointing out that France does not support a super-federal-state, but just wants Germany to be the funder of first resort.

      The EU/Eurozone is shot through with contradictions, and will tumble sooner or later.

      Cameron’s priority must be bring the British public deficit/debt under control ASAP, which implies no early collapse of the Eurozone.

      If the Conservatives fail to control the deficit, the longed for parliamentary majority in a second term is likely to be a fading dream.
      A Miliband government returned to power in 2015/16 would render pipe-dreams of renegotiation/leaving the EU, just a bad joke.

      It’s a matter of practical politics and tactics.
      Much as I identify with Mr Redwood’s political reflexes, opening a major rift with the EU now, would be utterly self-defeating.

      The Eurozone is becoming steadily more indebted.
      At least the current crisis will have the beneficial effect of forcing our exporters to seek new markets beyond the comfy old EU !

      Reply: The aim is not to open a rift, but to do a better deal to tackle what is a chasm between what most UK people want, and what we are being forced to have and to pay for in the EU

  27. NickW
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I agree entirely with the proposition that we should state clearly what kind of relationship with Europe is acceptable to us; ask for it, and if we don’t get it, we have a referendum on leaving the EU. Apart from anything else, Europe would be financially very stretched ( if not bankrupt) if it lost our budget contribution, which is one of the biggest.

    Our foreign policy at the moment consists of appeasing and encouraging a budding dictatorship which is right on our doorstep. This is a very real danger which has to be acknowledged.

    We have been in this position before, and it did not turn out well.

  28. Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Government policy should always be based on what is best for Britain, but for many years, our governments have been more interested in “looking good” or “prestige” or *influence”. Personally, I’d much rather our government took the same position as Norway or Switzerland, and just looked after our own interests and kept out of world affairs except in matters where they might directly affect us.

    But our leaders are unlikely to do this, they have an obsession with being in the centre of things, they want to be liked and don’t wish to offend anyone, so at his meeting with Merkel, judging by the press reports, Cameron behaved more like Chamberlain than Churchill, and one suspects that he will continue to do so. We need senior government figures who have been in business and know how to negotiate, as it is quite clear that none of our politicians, or their staff have the foggiest idea how to drive a bargain.

  29. Phil Kean
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Very well put, John.

    * Headless chickens; because they have no real clue what course they should take.
    * Committed to supporting the EU and sustaining the Euro; but more through ideology than pragmatism.
    * Fearful; because their limited minds are unable to comprehend what leaving the EU would mean for Britain.
    * Desperate & contradictory; proposing measures to sustain the Euro which are anathema to all right-thinking Conservatives, in an attempt to escape the likely contraction to the UK economy (though not as much as the Europhiles would have us believe) that would result from an orderly break-up, purely to create sufficient – albeit temporary – economic stability to provide a relatively smooth path to re-election in 2015.
    Of course, such a policy may well be in the Coalition’s interest; but it is most definitely not in Britain’s long term national interest.
    .

  30. Posted November 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Historically the reason Europe became the continent of the Industrial Revolution and dominated the world is because we had small separate countries in competition with each other and thus governments were unable to prevent progress. While China, ruled by a massive bureaucracy contolling the entire place, was able to legislate progress out of existence (eg making it a criminal offence to own ocean going ships while Europeans, from Columbus on, explored the world).

    Thus the EU is diametriclly against all the successful traditions of European culture. Europe is adopting the failed Chinese model just as China is adopting our successful one.

    The greatest service Britain could do Europe, as well as ourselves, is reestablishing our independence.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      1) Europe had the industrial revolution for many reasons but competition between small countries wasn’t one of them. Spain, France, Austria, Prussia, Italy, and Britain were not small.

      2) China outlawed ocean going ships because the previous emperor spend $6 billion in today’s money maintaining a trade fleet that would travel all over the Indian Ocean. This was too expensive to maintain.

      3) China declined for many reasons during the Ming dynasty including the emperor becoming more autocratic (less debate in court), an increase in eunuchs who hampered the government with their plots and counter plots, loss of control of most cities, requiring general to maintain armies (this made soldiers loyal to the general, not the emperor), and high inflation. During the Qing dynasty they had to deal with British opium as well.

      4) As the EU and EU countries have regular elections, all cities are under the control of the various government, and taxes are collected effectively in most EU countries the EU will not suffer the same fate as ancient China.

      • John Maynard
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

        The industrial revolution was a British achievement, followed by Belgium, America and France – and Germany later.
        Italy had their industrial revolution in the 1960s and Spain in the 1980s.

  31. Matt
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Public rows between Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy would be counterproductive.

    But Mr Cameron should coolly list the UK’s terms for integration of the 17 and they should be as wide ranging as Mr R suggests in his blog. (Such integration isn’t in the interests of the UK or indeed the 17, but there’s nothing that we can do to stop them trying – in the end the experiment will fail)

    Mr Cameron is being vocal, but he’s not actually saying much –

    Contrast this with the German approach – they state exactly what they want and what they want suits Germany, they went into the Euro and the value of the currency and its low interest rate was a boon to their exports. When it goes wrong they want the UK through the IMF and a city tax to pick up our share of the bills.

    Mr Cameron didn’t want a referendum on the grounds that it’s the last thing Europe needs at this time – it would be unsettling.

    Yet it doesn’t stop Mrs Merkel‘s dash for integration. She’s setting the pace for the 17 and for us it seems.

  32. backofanenvelope
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    What is the Australians call us? Whinging Poms. And that is what we are to the EU. Sitting on the sidelines and whinging. Offering advice they don’t want to hear. Our best policy for now would be to sit tight and shut up; see how things pan out. I thought that Frenchman was very restrained when he said we should shut up.

    I don’t believe there is a majority to leave the EU; but I do believe that what most of us want is Mr Hague’s policy, now abandoned, in Europe but not run by Europe.

  33. rose
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I can’t quite decide whether civil war in Europe will flare up over the tyranny of the technocrats or the anarchy of the shanty towns.

    However, with the latter in mind, it is worth remembering that the Unilateralist Movement in general, and Greenham Common in particular, did achieve something, if not their desired objective: the male conservative vote went up for the first time in peacetime.

  34. rose
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    PS I mean all shanty towns, not just the indigenous political ones which the authority vacuum has allowed and will inevitably increase the numbers of immigrant ones.

  35. Andrew
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Spot on, John. I agree with everything you say about our memebership of the EU. It is worth noting, however, that if we had been in the Euro, we would be bankrupt like Greece. If we are to get out of the EU, can we please behave like the Germans – balance our budgets, save, insist on low inflation etc, so that we do not behave in the fesckless,k irresponsible way we have done for years. That means encouraging small businesses and innovation, something the present government have no understanding of – read Charles Moore in today’s Telegraph.

    • John Maynard
      Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      That would also require no more Labour governments, ever.
      It isn’t going to happen, is it ?

  36. BobE
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Sarkozy is up for election, April/May 2012.
    Merkels next election is between August and October 2013.
    A new French Leader may alter the dynamics.

    • davidb
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      It is likely to be Hollande, another bloody socialist, the French elect. Marine will be ganged up on.

      • John Maynard
        Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        And a (an ?) Hollande government, might be the best chance of the UK doing some deals with Merkel. If she finds Sarko irritating, what will she think of Hollande and his “back to the French basics (35 hour weeks, lush pensions, dirigiste industrial policy and all) ?

  37. If only...
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    A good post John, however…

    What chance is there of Cameron being a Churchill and not the Chamberlain his actions indicate?

  38. forthurst
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    What is best for the UK is for the EUSSR to break up taking with it the Euro. As long as it exists it will be a ravening monster feeding on the greed and duplicity of politicians. An inner core would if anything be more more dangerous than we have now; at least now it is weakened by its inherent non-viability.

    Going on the Grand Tour trying to re-negotiate with fractious foreign politicians and bureaucrats with other things on their minds such as the latest Eurocrisis is absurd.

    When people say they want re-negotiation, what do they actually want to achieve, a pig-in-a-poke or a clearly defined result? Why not help people clarify their expectations by asking them such questions as: Do you think our fisherman should be allowed exclusively to fish in British waters? Do you wish to pay a lot for inefficient French farming practices? Do you think we should pay a lot of money to Brussels in order to get some back? Do you think Brussels should decide how long people might choose to work? Do you like foreigners coming here, taking our jobs and undercutting our wages? Do you think foreign governments should be allowed to own our industries? Do you think Brussels should be able to close down our viable energy intensive industries? Do you like paying a lot for gas and electricity? etc. Do you want to buy your next BMW without paying import duty? There’s a ‘Yes’.

    How many people being asked if they want to leave the EU or to re-negotiate membeship actually want the same outcome in practice, membership of a customs union for noncomestible goods and services? This can be achieve by the same parliament which filled our statute book with EUSSR diktats repealing them. Treaties stand only until they are revoked.

  39. Damien
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday’s Speigelonline analysis ‘Phoenix europe’ Part 2 “Parallel democracy’ describes in some detail how the EU leaders would progress to a United States of Europe (USE) without the need to have treaty change. The stakes are high and it is clear that the contageon is spreading and the current funding arrangements of the ECB and EFSF are inadequate.

    If the ‘parallel democracy’ were to happen who would call foul? After all the alternative of a liquidity crisis could easily turn into a solvency crisis. What would be the effect of a default on the 2 trillion of Italian bonds and 1 trillion of Spanish bonds?. Add to that the trillion of corporate bonds. Do the banking and corporate bondholders around the world not have a vested interest in protecting their investments.

    Immediately the ECB should to paraphrase Roubini engage in EU QE, lowering interest rates to 0% to depreciate the euro while continuing to buy Italian bonds and peripheral debt. Roubini also calls on Germany is increase stimulus to offset the fall in aggregate demand because of the austerity measures in the periphery.

    Whatever the approach taken in the coming days and weeks there is every reason to believe that Cameron et al will try to negotiate as many of the ideas for a new relationship as clearly articulated here and in previous JR blogs however the first priority will be to navigate the choppy waters of the current EU crisis.

  40. Jose
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Cameron just comes out of the whole thing looking extremely weak. I understand that our wellbeing is currently very close to the EU economies but Cameron is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He should not be acting like he’s a vassal of Merkel, she owes him nothing as she’s fighting for Germany. If only he was seen to be fighting for the UK! They will try and inveigle us in their dastardly plots and Cameron just needs to threaten them with a referendum. If they don’t bite then call one for real and let’s see their response.

  41. Derek Emery
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happens to the eurozone it is not possible for Europe to compete effectively with China and others because our costs (salaries and social costs) are far too high. The rest of the world is creating its own professional class which is far cheaper than in the west. Germany in financial control of the zone is not going to bring growth to the PIIGs with the inherent high cost structure. Even within Germany there is poverty and the east is still far behind West Germany so there is no German magic key to creating growth.
    It is likely that the Chinese economy will exceed the US within a decade and much of the rest of the world has high growth whereas the EU has low growth. Within a decade the rest of the world’s economy will likely double whereas growth in the EU will be muted.
    It’s very likely that even more of the products and services we all love will be more cheaply available from the rest of the world and bought there rather than from the EU as time goes by reducing EU trade. The inherent high cost structure in the EU will worsen with ageing demographics. The EU is likely to become far less important economically even within just a decade.

  42. Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    All of this makes perfect sense, particularly since:

    1) the bailouts were illegal
    2) giving money to an institution which has not had its books signed off is illegal
    3) the EU has reneged on its pledges, such as on the CAP (hopefully, signed contracts)

    For legal reasons alone, Cameron has plenty of negotiating power.

    He will not, however consider any of the proposals you set out because he is patently pro- “ever closer union”.

    One might be tempted to offer, in Cameron’s defence, that he doesn’t want to be replaced with an EU technocrat like komrades Papandreou and Berlusconi – as Lord Tebbit suggested. Let’s not forget that Berlusconi has been hounded by the EU smear squad for a number of years – the pitch of which increased dramatically when Berlusconi threatened to leave the Euro a few years back. They’ve definitely been after him.

    Given that, well before the EZ crisis, Cameron enthusiastically adopted every EU measure – horrifying to EUrealists – perhaps the EU already has one of its placemen in situ.

    Doubtless, there’s a shadowy, spooky game going on in the halls of power across the continent. The stakes are high.

    But why on earth would Cameron want to tip the EU into totalitarianism and poverty by becoming the EU’s de facto (if not de jure) lender of last resort? Why would he put the UK in danger of being overpowered by a 17-strong bloc of (mostly socialist) countries headed by Germany?

    It is bizarre. It is suicdal.

    • Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Oops! I meant:

      But why on earth would Cameron want to tip the EU into totalitarianism and poverty by forcing Germany to become the EU’s de facto (if not de jure) lender of last resort?

  43. pedroelingles
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    How many times did Neville Chamberlain fly to the Continent to mollify Hitler in 1938/39? Is the record being broken 72/73 years later? Cameron and this Government know perfectly well what the majority of people in this country and are ignoring us and a Referendum. This is not democracy. We must get out of Europe now before the Conservatives in the Coalition Government cause it to break up on this issue. Should this happen the resultant chaos and vaccuum could destroy us politically and economically which is doubtless the Merkel Plan. Let us have a rapid, measured, statesmanlike withdrawel now. The time for talking has clearly passed.

  44. NickW
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Here is another glimpse of the new world;

    http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/capital-flight-and-forced-repatriation

    The EU is pressing to “Repatriate” $81 Billion dollars of Greek money from the Swiss Banks. That isn’t Taverna takings.

    A lot of it is money from earnings which legitimately are not taxed in Greece.

    How much would the EU earn if it properly taxed all the EU Government employees, cleaned up their expenses and charged benefit in kind taxes?

    Shouldn’t they do that if they are chasing everybody else and confiscating their money?

    Like cornered rats, the Elite will destroy everything to save themselves.

  45. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid this isn’t going anywhere because of a “de facto” change to the EU treaties.

    Yes, I know that under Article 48 TEU, starting on page here:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0013:0046:EN:PDF

    the UK government still has the notional “de jure” right to propose EU treaty changes, as indeed does the government of any other EU member state.

    But “de facto” only Merkel now has that right.

    So if she says that she wants an emergency narrow treaty change now, political union later:

    http://euobserver.com/18/114314

    then that’s what will happen, nothing else permitted.

    And if she says that there should be no referendums, there won’t be.

    Even the Irish people have found that their supposed constitutional requirement for referendums on EU treaty changes doesn’t apply to either the radical EU treaty change already agreed by EU leaders on March 25th:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:091:0001:0002:EN:PDF

    or to the intra-eurozone ESM treaty springing from that EU treaty change:

    http://consilium.europa.eu/media/1216793/esm%20treaty%20en.pdf

    As stated in two Written Answers here, June 21st 2011:

    http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/06/21/unrevised2.pdf

    65 – “As no amendment of the Constitution arises, a referendum will not be required in order for Ireland to approve the amendment to Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”

    74 – “On 25 March 2011, the European Council adopted Decision 2011/199/EU amending Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union … Primary legislation will be required to enable Ireland to ratify the ESM Treaty and implement its decisions. Based on the existing text, the Attorney General’s Office has confirmed a referendum will not be required for the adoption of the ESM Treaty.”

    So that’s all very convenient.

  46. uanime5
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    John the UK is in no position to dictate terms to the EU. The 17 Eurozone member states don’t need the UK’s approval for a treaty that will only apply to countries in the Eurozone.

    Any good and services we offer for sale will have to meet EU standards to be sold or provided in the EU. So we’ll have to comply with EU rules, even if Parliament doesn’t approve of them.

    Finally given that EU directives and regulations are made by the European parliament and we have several MEPs it would be pure arrogance to demand that the UK parliament be allowed to veto any EU law that that it doesn’t like. Would you also approve of Councils being allowed to ignore any laws from Parliament that they didn’t like?

    Reply: The 17 do not wish to have to undertake a new inter 17 Treaty.
    EU rules have to comply with WTO rules, and non EU countries do export to the EU without major problems
    The UK is in a very different position to a local Council. We wish to restore our sovereignty

    • Tedgo
      Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      I have noticed in several threads, recently, people talk about EU Standards. While the EU has some standards of its own, such as CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI many many more are Internationally accepted standards promoted by trade and national standard organisations. I am thinking of ISO, British Standards, DIN, SAE, Lloyds, DNV, one could go on. Most of the latter organisations are sponsored by the users of those standards.

      Many standards are created and maintained by interested trade groups and companies. For many years my father used to attend meetings and international conferences setting standards for lead acid batteries in cars and lorries. There deliberations were incorporated into the appropriate British, American and German standards. That process still goes irrespective of the EU, the EU is small time player in the field of standards.

    • Alexis
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      European laws and directives are not made by the European parliament, but by the European Commission. This body is unelected and unaccountable. Your MEP can debate them but has little real power over their enaction.

      This is a great simplification, but it is the essence of how EU law is created and passed. The European parliament does not in any way resemble the UK parliament, either in form or function.

  47. Fernando
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    John, I’d put an entirely different construction on Cameron’s remarks about the future of the eurozone. Germany and France pay lip service to closer political union and regard the common currency as a crucial plank in the edifice. By pointing out that if they want a single currency spanning a number of different countries which started from different positions, have different national characters, different growth rates and different rates of inflation, they need a central bank which can act as the lender of last resort, a treasury, fiscal union and some central political authority to control the process, he is, in fact, showing that the experiment is doomed. Germany doesn’t want to pick up the bill for other countries, the nations with high borrowing don’t want the decades of austerity needed to reach German levels of stability and the electorate is sidelined as technocrats take over like administrators in a bankrupt company.
    If he said the euro is defective and needs to be abandoned, he’d be ignored as a wrecker. If he tells them the sober truth that if they want a single currency they need a single political entity, he at least receives a hearing. I think Cameron realises they can’t/won’t take the necessary steps
    Neither do I think there will be just one renegotiation of terms. Up to now, the eurozone has proposed too little, too late. Why won’t the treaty changes be the same? I can see treaty revisions coming along well into the next decade.

    • simple soul
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      No-one could say we give too little thought towards UK policy on the EU.

      This obscures a vital consideration, namely that we have little inkling of how EU policy towards us may develop.

      The fate of Italy and Greece is not encouraging. The EU is not kind to losers, or to odd men out.

      That is why any idea of marching off towards freedom on our own is so hazardous: not wrong, not unachievable, but wildly unpredictable. For anyone who thinks this is a matter of settling all by a handshake at the end of the game, let us remember that you have to search long and hard to find even one good will concession by the EU to the UK for many a year past. There have been so many occasions when obvious causes of bad feeling could have been removed or averted, but I cannot recall a single example of a gracious gesture from Brussels in our direction.

  48. Jim
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all of this – but I’m not sure how relevant it is now. If Euroland is rapidly approaching meltdown, then the time for ‘bargaining’, ‘selling propositions’ or ‘threatening a referendum’ has passed: bargaining with whom? having a referendum about what?

  49. Frances Matta
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    The UK’s contribution to the EU Budget has gone through,on the nod, on a Saturday evening and is up by 2%.
    It was announced, very quietly, on radio 4.
    Another £814,ooo,000 wasted.

  50. ian wragg
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I can’t for the life of me understand why there isn’t a leadership challenge. All politicians must realise that the Tories are sunk under Cameron with his arrogant liberal ways.
    It will be no good coming after a trouncing at the EUSSR elections and promising reform after the election ( providing Estonia is in the Euro ) or some such nonesense.
    Loyalty within the party is misplaced and the subjugation of Britain will result under Cameroons guidance.
    For Gods sake wake up you cowardly MP’s.

  51. Frances Matta
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    To forthurst,
    My dear,
    Even if my trusty Subaru died, I would never buy a BMW, Audi or Mercedes for their designers have totally lost it and all their cars now resemble angry looking biscuit tins.
    Seriously ugly cars.
    Frances

    • Bazman
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      As if a Scooby was ever a good looking car. What planet are you on?

  52. rose
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece, Mr R, as ever, and very clear minded.

    One quibble: you say we need agreement with them on “matters of common environmental importance like pollution and noise” – but this is where they are so overweening and muddled: for example, they say on the one hand that unnecessary noise should not be permitted (health), and then on the other they say everything which can be mechanised must be (safety). As they haven’t stipulated that we must buy only Japanese quiet low-pitched equipment, what are we supposed to do? Well, as it turns out, everything is mechanised of course – window cleaners not allowed up ladders any more, no-one can use a broom or shovel any more, dustbins cannot be emptied by hand any more…and so forth. Life is now deafening, from as early as 4am, and very polluted too. The left hand doesn’t know what the other left hands are doing. It is all too big and muddled.

  53. Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    The eu could leave us before we leave it.

    Its policies are designed to wreck economies and encourage debt (sadly ours are too). My belief is that national imperatives will trump the eu quango’s grand top-down plan and the whole thing will slowly sink into itself.

    In 20 years the eu will be a quant left wing think tank. Either its demise would be through piecemeal and peaceful disintegration OR it will be a consequence of civil war across much of Europe. I hope it is the former.

    The eu is certainly anti-European and extreme. I hope good European see sense before it is too late.

  54. David Hearnshaw
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Correct me if I am wrong but this looks a lot like the Funk plan devised towards the end of WW2!

  55. Bob
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    This shows how serious David Cameron is about repatriating powers:
    From http://www.telegraph.co.uk

    Dave goes an extra mile for the EU
    When David Cameron, implausibly describing himself as a Euro “sceptic”, made reference in his Guildhall speech on Monday to “pointless interference, rules and regulations” from Brussels, he might have been thinking of Kevin Doherty of Yeovil, whose story seems perfectly to exemplify what the Prime Minister was talking about.

    When Mr Doherty was made redundant in the 2008 recession, he started his own business, Auto-Movements, taking cars all over the country on a trailer for dealers and leasing companies. All went well – he turns over more than £100,000 a year – until he recently met a friend’s son working for the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA). He told Mr Doherty that new EU rules coming into force on December 4 might apply to him because the combined weight of his van and trailer exceeds 3.5 tons.

    When Mr Doherty discovered what this was about, he was shocked. Under EU Council Regulation 1071/2009, thousands of small businesses like his are being put on the same regulatory footing as large transport firms operating trucks all over Europe. He will have to pay £1,000 and take two weeks off work to obtain an International Certificate of Professional Competence (even though he never works outside the UK), or hire a fully qualified transport manager. He will have to keep £8,000 permanently in the bank as security, and acquire “premises” to store his vehicles when not in use.

    As shocking as anything was that – although Mr Doherty learned about it only by chance – the new law comes into force in just two weeks’ time. Yet VOSA tells him it will take 12 weeks to process his paperwork. So for more than two months it will be illegal for him to work.

    On looking into it, I was astonished to find that the statutory instrument putting the EU regulation into UK law was only laid before Parliament on November 7, less than a month before coming into force. When I discussed this with the Department for Transport, they were clearly sensitive to the difficulties it was creating. They admitted that they had no way of notifying all the businesses that will be affected, but said that VOSA will take no enforcement action for six months, until businesses have had time to comply.

    Oddest and most shocking of all, however, is to read in the EU regulation that it is “unnecessary” for it to be applied to firms “which only perform transport operations with a very small impact on the transport market”. If Mr Cameron’s Government had wished it, thousands of tiny operations such as Mr Doherty’s could quite legally have been exempted altogether. Instead, it has imposed on them a wholly unnecessary burden which is likely to force many out of business.
    ..
    By Christopher Booker
    7:00PM GMT 19 Nov 2011

    As so many have said before, we’re too diligent when it comes to enforcing EU diktat.

    • sjb
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      The headline Dave goes an extra mile for the EU is misleading because the “wholly unnecessary burden” is not for the EU’s benefit.

      As Booker’s article points out the Regulation (a co-decision of the EU Parliament and Council of the EU) exempted “undertakings which only perform transport operations with a very small impact on the transport market.”

      For those interested in original sources the Reg. can be read in the Official Journal of the European Union at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:300:0051:0071:EN:PDF

      Readers of the original source may note the date of the Reg. is 21 October 2009 and perhaps wonder why (a) it took two years to transpose the Reg. into national law and (b) why HMG did not take advantage of the derogation and exemptions provided for under Articles 1.4 & 1.5?

  56. George Stewart
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    John, A simple question. Why did David Cameron go to Berlin instead of Angela Merkel coming to London?

    • sjb
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Because he had to see Van Rompuy and Barroso before his meeting with Merkel.

  57. pete
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    V good article Mr R, I suspect that nothing will change until their hands are forced. Dave doesn’t have the will or will ever get the backing of the wet lib dems who would just sign everything over if they were fully in power.

    Nothing will happen until the whole thing collapses………..

  58. Javelin
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    The CAP is 50% of the EU budget. If there is fiscal union then the CAP will get dragged into the fiscal policy. So you cannot have fiscal union and the UK involved in the CAP.

  59. Norman Dee
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Once again, all the right things being said by you and all the usual and interesting replies, and fine with that, repeating the same thing over and over doesn’t make it wrong. What is also as usual is that nothing will be done to achieve any of the suggested outcomes, you and your colleagues will talk and raise your collective hands when required, and still outnumbered the hand goes back under the arse until the next time. Someone has to make a bold and eyecatching move, something that will catch the attention and demonstrate to others that sitting on your hands is the only way to achieve nothing. Then emboldened by these actions the support will come, don’t expect anything from the public apart from vocal support, people talk a lot but live in fear of their jobs and way of life, the start has to be from those who lead and rule, those who chose and were chosen to be in the position to do something. How many of your colleagues have entered parlaiment with the mealy mouthed words “I want to make a difference”, well here it is, the big chance to do just that.

    Reply: David Davis tried the by election route in the last Parliament, but it did not start any landslide. I resigned from the Cabimnet to stop us joinging the Euro. That and other events did keep us out of the Euro. Timing and judgement is needed.

    • Norman Dee
      Posted November 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I think you will agree that times have changed since the last Parliament, the situation is certainly more pressing and urgent in the last 12 months and rate of decline is increasing every day. The bomb we call Europe is going to go off soon, and all we are doing is picking up speed almost as we want to be there when it goes up.

      • Bob
        Posted November 22, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        I’m reminded of the film “Speed” starring Keanu Reeves whereby a bomb planted on a bus is set to explode if the the speed of the bus drops below 50 mph. In the case of the EZ, Angela Merkel is the lady driving the bus under the guidance of Nick Sarkozy as the Keanu Reeves character trying to keep the economy from dropping below the critical speed.

  60. Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Your article assumes that the British government actually wants what is in the interest of Britain. I suspect they are more concerned with what is in the interests of their mates in Europe.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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