What should the UK say to Germany?


           The UK has no need to fear Germany. The UK has no need to be impolite to Germany. The UK should resist the temptation to lecture Germany on how to lead the Euro zone.

             There are unwelcome signs that the UK/EU relationship is becoming strained. The Coalition  government seems nervous about the impact of faltering economies on the continent, and concerned about recent policy moves. Germany and the EU seem annoyed at the UK government’s “grandstanding ” from outside the Euro, and insistence it should be in the room. The UK wants to play but does not want to pay.

            It is easy for the UK to correct its part in the faltering relationship. UK Ministers could and should answer all enquiries on the state of the Euro, Euro bond markets and the like with the tedious but safe formula “We have no wish to provide a  running commentary on the Euro”. They should not wish to undermine it. Nor should they be in the business of trying to buttress it. They should avoid comments that disagree with Germany on it, and comments which avoid disagreeing with France. As France and Germany disagree, that means keeping quiet.

               What the UK government needs to do is to articulate strongly and clearly the UK’s wishes. This has to be in the  form of a flexible  approach depending on how the Euro area evolves. It is safe to assume that any fix for the zone entails much more detailed centralised control by the EU over Euro member states. No UK government could join it. We need to explain that we require a different relationship with the increasingly integrated zone.

                         The immediate threats to the UK are fourfold. The first is the attempt to establish extra territorial jurisidiction over UK financial markets, to exclude us from Euro business. This needs forceful rejection by political and legal means. The second is the rapid push to complete regulatory control of all financial activities in London by the EU. This too needs firm rejection by legal and political means.  The third is the impact of EU energy measures on UK energy prices, which is becoming a major obstacle to retaining and growing industrial activity in the UK.  Now the UK Chancellor has identified the issue, the government needs to take a remedy to Brussels for discussion. The fourth is the general burden of cost and complexity pushed onto the UK by the EU budget and regulations. The UK needs to seek powers and money back.

                    Just getting a vague promise of movement on Working Time is no longer sufficient. UK growth and prospects now depend on moving some of the roadblocks to growth imposed by Brussels. The UK government has to say it needs a renegotiation and it needs it now. It will put the results to the people in a referendum. That should get Germany’s attention. It is then up to them whether the UK votes on a package the people  are likely to accept, or on the current deal. Polling shows 80% of the British people do not think the current deal is satisfactory.


  1. lifelogic
    November 30, 2011

    Indeed “The UK government has to say it needs a renegotiation and it needs it now. It will put the results to the people in a referendum.” But cast rubber Cameron will do no such thing alas.

    1. Disaffected
      November 30, 2011

      I agree with Lifelogic. John, why do you think cameron will renegotiate with the EU when he did everything he could to stop an EU referendum that might take place sometime in the distant future? He also has Heseltine, Major and Clark from a previous Tory Europhile government, that regrettably cemented the UK further into the EU, acting as his current advisers. One of whom still wants the Uk to join the Euro!!

      Add into the melting pot the luny wishes of Clegg, Cable and Huhne, as you rightly point out Huhne’s energy policy is costing the country and each household a huge price on their energy. Why would you think weak Cameron will not just throw the towel in for more EU integration while trying to stay outside the single currency??

      1. Tim
        November 30, 2011

        Your explanation of where we are is totally logical but we need and in/out option as any renegotiation would be watered down by the EU. I’m afraid we need new blood as our negotiators are so Europhile they won’t be trying very hard. Mr Hannan regularly points this out. I can’t see the current Tory leadership wanting to give us any chance of a vote on Europe and Germany and France know how weak and out of their depth the coalition Governement trully are with everything. Besides if Mr Cameron tried they would install a technocratic dictatorship Government here like Italy and Greece!!

    2. zorro
      November 30, 2011

      John, you are a logical, reasonable man. What percentage chance do you think there is that Cameron will renegotiate and then put this option to a referendum? I don’t think that you’d put your house on it!


      Reply: Mr Cameron may have to negotiate, given the pressure of events. It is well worth asking him to at this point

  2. David Thompson
    November 30, 2011

    “The UK government has to say it needs a renegotiation and it needs it now” No. We need to leave and we need to leave now.

  3. Mike Stallard
    November 30, 2011

    BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Xinhuanet) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for more political unity in Europe in order to overcome the debt crisis ravaging the continent.”The euro is far more than just a currency. It is the symbol of European unification and it has become the symbol for half a century of peace, freedom and prosperity. I will say it over and over again: if the euro fails, Europe will fail. We want to and we will avoid that. That’s what we are working for because it is a project of such historic proportions.”

    You cannot do a deal with someone who knows that they are right and that you are weak and only half with them. I know that that is what politicians do all the time, but in this case, we are dealing with someone who doesn’t care one jot for what 80% of the people of a foreign country seem to think and who is determined to unite the continent even if it makes her unpopular at home. Sort of like Mrs Thatcher in reverse.

    So insisting on your four totally reasonable points in UK is very very different to carrying them forward in a negotiation on the continent.

    Have a nice (strike) day!

  4. Atlas etc, etc
    November 30, 2011

    Off topic a little.


    The latest wheeze to get the IMF to do more bailing out of Spain and Italy, drempt up by the EU Finance Ministers yesterday, misses the point that these countries cannot devalue – a vital part of the IMF’s medicine bag. It would though mean a bigger contribution by the UK to the IMF.

    So can the IMF route work? Or is it just a political way of Merkel avoiding been seen as the one swishing the cane?

    Reply: It just buys time, it does not solve the underlying problems

    1. PayDirt
      November 30, 2011

      If the public sector strikes take hold, UK will be asking for IMF help (as per Nov 1976) rather than paying into the thing.

  5. Pete the Bike
    November 30, 2011

    If Dave threatens a referendum he’ll probably be removed by his masters in Brussels. That seems to be the new system in our sham democracy. A better idea would be to simply announce an in or out referendum within a month and keep his head down until it’s held.

    1. lifelogic
      November 30, 2011

      He will do neither.

  6. Antisthenes
    November 30, 2011

    The recommendations you have listed are excellent. However there is so much more that the EU does that is restricting growth or is wasteful or counter productive in agriculture and fisheries for instance that there can never be a reason for remaining a member of it. Leaving the EU must be a priority then tackling all domestic growth restrictions; regulations, green policies, high taxes, bloated public sector and over generous welfare system.

    1. Disaffected
      November 30, 2011


  7. GJ Wyatt
    November 30, 2011

    “They should avoid comments that disagree with Germany on it, and comments which avoid disagreeing with France.” So our traditional ‘divide and rule’ policy for neighbouring powers?

    1. Robert Christopher
      November 30, 2011

      Hardly! Just let them get on with it. As JohnR says:

      “… As France and Germany disagree, that means keeping quiet.”

      With such good advice being ignored, is Cameron on another planet?

      Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

    2. Mazz
      November 30, 2011

      I think what John meant was, not to antagonise Germany and France by commenting on the Eurozone because we are not in it. Even if it does affect us, it’s their business and the other Countries who are in it. I’m sure ‘divide and rule’ does not come into it at all.

      1. John Wrexham
        December 2, 2011

        It’s cringeworthy seeing our politicians lecture other countries on how to solve their economic problems. When our unemployment count is down, economic growth is up and UK plc’s balance of payments is in our favour, then may be the Government will be in a position to dole out advice. Until then, a period of silence would be very welcome. Even worse, our leaders appear to often give advice that would go against our national interest eg fiscal union in the Eurozone.

    3. GJ Wyatt
      November 30, 2011

      Well I agree with both Robert Christopher and Mazz (and JR). But lost irony I’m afraid – I was merely drawing attention to the inadvertent double negative in the original.

      1. GJ Wyatt
        November 30, 2011

        further clarification: there’s a double negative with respect to Germany and a triple negative with respect to France.

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    November 30, 2011

    Whatever we say the UK will not allow any loosening of their control; they want more not less. By saying, as Cameron has done, that he will not hold an in/out referendum on our membership of the EU as he thinks we should be members, he has betrayed the UK people and given away any negotiating strength he might have had.

  9. javelin
    November 30, 2011

    The markets are hopelessly optimistic that a solution will be found – it wont. The debt will NOT go away. Shuffling it around will not make it go away.

    The markets also hopelessly pessimistic that a solution will be found – it wont. They are on a buys strike and not investing or lending.

    The DEBT is the EZ and UK is not going away it is GROWING. It needs to be paid back. If we have overspent for 7 years we will need to underspend for 10 years.

    Apart from a dual currency system there is no way out of this crisis.

  10. Mazz
    November 30, 2011

    Another excellent post. I wish Cameron and his advisers would take notice and act upon them.

    1. Duyfken
      November 30, 2011

      I get the impression that no matter how sensible the analyses, suggestions and recommendations which JR delivers time and again, the Cameroons will just ignore these or worse do the opposite, simply because of the source. We can but hope that constant dripping will wear away the stone.

  11. Liz
    November 30, 2011

    I am afraid all the evidence shows that this Government does not do “forceful rejection” in anything connectd to the EU. They know that we will just roll over and accept any EU directive and that our civil service will even add more regulations – increasing the effects. The Tobin tax will become a reality within a few years – the City will be damaged as our agriculture, industry and fisheries have been.

  12. Peter van Leeuwen
    November 30, 2011

    The impression that the UK likes to preach from a pedestal to the eurozone comes maybe because it doesn’t seem to want to speak at the same level, like the six non-euro countries (including Denmark and Poland which have their consultations within the competitiveness pact (euro-plus pact). When a country isolates itself, does it make the negotiations for repatriation of powers any easier?
    (signs of isolation from the mainstream: from EPP to ECR, no participation in the euro-plus consultations, vain effort to become the leader of a non-euro alliance within the EU, the tone in the British media, which are widely read)

    The idea of a referendum down the line may be a clever one as a looming threat, but who will control the public mind come a referendum? Can you be so sure it will be the eurosceptics?

    Why not preach about an agenda of economic restructuring and growth, in which Britain and Germany (and the rest of northern EU) could well be allies?

    1. Mike Stallard
      November 30, 2011

      “Why not preach about an agenda of economic restructuring and growth, in which Britain and Germany (and the rest of northern EU) could well be allies?”

      European history and our own history are very different. What we do not need is more and more regulations and standardisation coming out of a distant bureaucracy in Brussels. That is how we see the German alliance, you see. It is just not popular. Our history has always been of ordinary people fighting the authority of the government.

      I assume you are Dutch? You, too have the same kind of thing as us. The Germans just do not have that. They have a history of authority and efficient government untrammelled by real power to the ordinary folk. As do the French.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        November 30, 2011

        @Mike Stallard: You have a point of course, our cultures are quite different. But having worked closely with French, Germans and Brits in a small company I can testify that the different business cultures can also complement each other and lead to joined success: British pragmatism with German “Gründlichkeit”, Dutch bluntness and French “grandes idées”. A bit between the German and the British approach the Dutch would like to have the British on board for their business approach. What we have in common with the Germans is e.g. more consensual politics (like years of negotiations between worker-unions and employer-association about pensions, resulting in a common position vis-a-vis the Dutch government, hardly any strikes)

        The UK has enough in common (in business terms) with northern EU members and nobody likes over-regulation, even though you may like much less of it than some other countries. There is a common EU effort to decrease regulation, as yet not too successful but the intention is there.

        Reply: The EU law making factory is busier than ever, strangling more and more areas with their silly prescriptions.

        1. Peter van Leeuwen
          December 1, 2011

          You might win support across the EU for this UK self-imposed rule that no new regulation for SMEs may be proposed without another regulation being abolished. It would be a small step as yet, but a way to make policy makers aware of the much too heave regulatory burden for small businesses.

          1. John Wrexham
            December 2, 2011

            Most of British history has been part of European history. The period of ‘fog in the channel, continent isolated’ was the exception and sensible British leaders have always been involved in Europe for fear of what might happen were we to stay out. (Thank heavens for the Channel!)

            Sensible politicians and people on the right realise this; only the Colonel Blimps and their modern day counterparts in UKIP believe we can somehow remain totally detached from what is happening on our doorstep. Only the deluded see salvation in our special relationship with the USA and its policies.

            The real challenge is building partnerships issue by issue ( used to be called making alliances in the past) rather than just providing an annoying running commentary.

  13. Disaffected
    November 30, 2011

    Your speculation is pure fantasy. Cameron wants more EU not less. Eu subservience continues, he has ploughed billions of our money into EU bail outs that he said he would not do, EU prevented an EU referendum, more powers acceded to EU, nothing done about the wretched HRA, mass immigration from the EU continues to overload the WHS and other public services, trade deficit with EU is in their favour not ours and I’m sure you can think of many more examples. He is a PR man full of hot air and no substance. He is clueless how to run the country. He has either listened too much to the lefty civil servants put in place by Blair or listened too much to loony Lib Dems. Either way he is not fit for office.

    1. uanime5
      November 30, 2011

      The HRA is nothing to do with the EU, we have human rights because we signed the ECHR.

      1. Denis Cooper
        November 30, 2011

        “we have human rights because we signed the ECHR.”

        Are you sure about that?

        So for the first years of my life I had no human rights, then one day pen was applied to paper and I got some?

  14. NickW
    November 30, 2011

    A neutral approach on the Euro as John Redwood suggested will pave the way for quiet discussions in a calm atmosphere on topics which are of common interest.

    A starting point is the discussion with the right people in Germany on the effects to industry of EU energy policy. On that point our two countries will be in complete agreement. German loss of competitiveness in the export market is a looming problem under a variety of different possible outcomes to the ongoing debt crisis.

    The next established EU tactic would be to suggest the necessity for an EU wide 20% tax on wine due to the “rising cost of alcoholism in the middle classes”.
    When the French have an apoplectic fit, we can agree to drop it in exchange for the EU dropping its attempt to destroy the City of London.

  15. English Pensioner
    November 30, 2011

    Our government should be encouraging our businesses to look for sales outside the EU, and particularly outside the Eurozone. Both the Government and Businesses have been lazy and inclined to take the easy option of going for sales within the EU, and they need to be encouraged to look elsewhere. It should provide incentives to companies which make sales to non-EU countries and help them by providing significant assistance from our embassies in such countries. The government should particularly find ways of helping our small specialist companies, on whom our future depends, to seek business in non-EU countries, as they have no “high-powered” sales teams and probably have no idea how to start to seek business in, say, South America or India.
    Only by rapid action to try to increase sales in non-EU countries will we be able to cushion the effect of any collapse in Europe.

    And in response to your question What should the UK say to Germany?, I’m afraid that the three or four short words that I would use would be instantly deleted by any moderator.

  16. Sue
    November 30, 2011

    I happen to agree we should have a say in everything that goes on within the EU, we are major contributors, including risking taxpayers money to bolster the Eurozone economies! The IMF are on the verge of giving financial assistance and we are contributors to that too!

    “The UK government has to say it needs a renegotiation and it needs it now. It will put the results to the people in a referendum. That should get Germany’s attention.”

    Not going to happen, Mr Redwood. Even now, they’re plotting (Cameron too) at changing the treaty, so that it doesn’t require a referendum.

    “Legal experts, preparing a proposal for the next EU leaders summit on Friday week, are concentrating on changes to one of the 37 protocols added to the EU Treaty that deals with the functioning of the EU.

    One of these protocols, number 14, deals with the Eurogroup and it could be changed by member states’ leaders and then by their parliaments, avoiding the need for a referendum in Ireland and the need for a lengthy process to change the Treaty proper.

    Because it is done inter- governmentally it requires just a majority of member states to agree which would mean that Britain — that has severe reservations — could not use its veto”.

    And there you have it.

    From that point on, we’ve lost any chance for self determination or “clawing back” any power.

    1. Jon Burgess
      November 30, 2011

      And no doubt this will be sold to us as a ‘victory’ that the working time directive can be watered down in Britain – meaning that we can all work longer hours while the slippery Cameron treacherously avoids the need for a referendum on this treaty change. He’ truly is the heir to Heath.

      What can we do about this, Mr Redwood?

      And you say the Conservatives are the best hope for eurosceptics! Vote UKIP people, it is our only route out of this nightmare.

      Better off out!

      Reply: You’ve tried that two elections running and there is still no UKIP MP.

      1. John Wrexham
        December 2, 2011

        UKIP must surely be breaking the Trades Descriptions Act. They have almost no representation or support outside England; they have weakened the Conservative vote at several elections to the advantage of those parties whose policies on Europe they claim most to oppose and finally they are really a single-issue pressure group/fan club, rather than a political party.

  17. Paul Danon
    November 30, 2011

    Rather than keeping quiet the way Mr Sarkozy wants us to, or holding aloof, we should surely be using this opportunity to persuade Denmark and two of the Baltic states to leave the ERM, to persuade the PIIGS to resurrect their old money, and to persuade other states whose populaces have their doubts about the EU to invoke Lisbon’s article 50 and join a revived EFTA.

    1. Mike Stallard
      November 30, 2011

      I think you may well come up against the Civil Services in the various governments you mention. One of the first acts of the EU project was to link Brussels and national bureaucracies tightly together.

  18. Magelec
    November 30, 2011

    Unfortunately Cameron is so weak that I believe that the UK is going to be dragged along into the abyss. Thinking of all the servicemen’s lives that have been destroyed for our freedom over the past century makes me weep.

    1. Mike Stallard
      November 30, 2011

      We usually wait and see until it is far too late – then we win.

      Marlborough, Wellington/Nelson, Hague, Montgomery.

      1. Duyfken
        November 30, 2011


        1. libertarian
          November 30, 2011

          I assume he means Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig

      2. Jon Burgess
        November 30, 2011

        But this time Cameron will have run the armed forces down to nothing and the French will have the aircraft carrier!

  19. forthurst
    November 30, 2011

    Cast Iron’s inept Europosturing is surely less potentially damaging to the national interest than his rabble rousing in the ME, so perhaps it’s not expedient to be too dismissive.

    Surely, watching Merkel the Marxist and Sarko the S***n feverishly doling out buckets on the EuroTitanic whilst debt pours in much faster than the pumps can possibly mitigate, is quite entertaining; however, the passengers should be preparing to abandon ship because it’s a not a question of if but when. One can only hope the Germans are as good at bagging their seats on the lifeboats as they are at bagging sunloungers round the pool.

  20. javelin
    November 30, 2011

    Bunds today sell at negative yield -0.070

    Its presumably safer to buy bunds than hold cash in a dodgy EU (ECB) bank.

  21. javelin
    November 30, 2011

    The story is out on negative bund yields. It shows liquidity has dried up for EU banks.


    This chimes with the news that banks are not depositing in the ECB long enough to sterilise the PIIG bonds AND the FED, BoE, BoJ are offering short term liquidity. Things are coming to a head.

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 30, 2011

      Equity markets say that problem has been solved, at least in the short term.

      Would I be right to assume that somehow taxpayers will once again be chipping in to help equity investors, which usually has that kind of cheering effect?

      Reply: The problem is not solved. Taxpayers do not have to contribute you extra yet – that only happens if banks start to fail and governments decide to bail.

  22. Sebastian fairweathe
    November 30, 2011

    This is a very good starting point for negotiations I am sure

    You MUST show this post to Mr Cameron and ask him to discuss it. And if not,why not? He can’t ignore your advice as one of the brightest and intuitive members of the government. He can’t get us out of the mess
    We are all very worried about where the euro crisis leaves the UK?

  23. javelin
    November 30, 2011

    NYSE opens with an “Extreme Market Volatility Condition” – negative bund yields have signalled to the NYSE that an EU bank may be about to go pop.

  24. Andrew Duffin
    November 30, 2011

    If you think renegotation is the answer – or even that it is feasible – I fear that you have not understood the nature of what we’re up against.

    Renegotiation means treaty change, since without treaty change all the EU’s nonsense is automatically law in the UK. Treaty change requires unanimity amongst the other EU members. How likely is that, when they’re all fighting for their economic lives? Not likely at all, in fact vanishingly unlikely.

    And even that is assuming Cameron wants to renegotiate; going on what he does rather than what he says, it’s perfectly clear that he is fully and unhesitatingly EUrophile and would renegotiate nothing, even if it were possible.

    This is cloud cuckoo land.

    Change will only come from leaving this madhouse and letting them get on with it. They’ll crash and burn anyway, but at least we can could dump the worst of the regulatory overkill and start to rebuild our relationships with the free outside world. Assuming we had a government that wanted to do this, which we don’t.

    But despair is a sin.

    1. Jon Burgess
      November 30, 2011

      Wholeheartedly agree.

      The only way is to stop voting Labour, Tory and Lib Dem and vote for someone who will do what we want.

      I couldn’t care less if this lets in Milliband. Cameron might as well a Labour PM anyway.

      If enough voters desert the Tories it just might lead to their collapse as a party (and good riddance) and only then can a real conservative party fill that void.

      In the meantime UKIP will do nicely for me, thank you.

  25. Andrew Duffin
    November 30, 2011

    “What should the UK say to Germany?”

    I don’t think you would let my suggestions through moderation, actually.

  26. uanime5
    November 30, 2011

    Well we could tell Germany that we won’t stop anything the Eurozone countries do as long as it doesn’t affect us. This would allow the Eurozone to further integrate without requiring us to change anything.

    Of course this would leave the UK out of the EU’s inner centre, which would be unacceptable for Cameron. Thus anything the Eurozone does the UK will copy.

  27. Denis Cooper
    November 30, 2011

    As a point of passing interest, tomorrow will be a very special day for the EU Parliament because the first post-Lisbon EU treaty change will come into force and so it will once again be lawfully constituted.

    That’s after a period of two years since December 1st 2009, during which its composition has been in clear breach of the EU treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, as explained here:


    The root cause of the unlawfulness being the refusal of the German government to withdraw three surplus German MEPs, 99 having been elected in June 2009 when the Treaty of Lisbon set a new maximum of 96 MEPs for any country.

    I think it’s worth mentioning this, because hardly anybody in this country was aware of this legal problem with the EU Parliament, which could have and arguably should have rendered all its acts null and void, and hardly anybody in this country noticed when a treaty protocol to correct the problem was agreed by representatives of the EU member states in Brussels on June 23rd 2010, and hardly anybody in this country registered that Parliament was being asked to approve that first post-Lisbon EU treaty change through the entirely unrelated European Union Bill, the “referendum lock” law:


    “Part 2

    Implementation of transitional Protocol on MEPs

    15 Protocol on MEPs: approval, and addition to list of treaties

    (1) The Protocol amending the Protocol (No. 36) on transitional provisions annexed to the Treaty on European Union, to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, signed at Brussels on 23 June 2010, is approved for the purposes of section 5 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 (amendment of founding Treaties: approval by Act of Parliament).”

    Likewise it seems that hardly anybody in this country has yet noticed that the SECOND post-Lisbon EU treaty change was agreed by EU leaders on March 25th 2011:


    and that Cameron asked for and got nothing substantive in return for his agreement.

    So my answer to the question “What should the UK say to Germany?” is that first of all Cameron should say that he no longer intends to ask Parliament to approve that EU treaty change agreed on March 25th, until there have been further negotiations and a number of important conditions have been met.

    1. Chris
      November 30, 2011

      Greatly appreciate your posts, Denis, which are very valuable and so carefully constructed and sourced.

  28. javelin
    November 30, 2011

    Did the EU Lehmans moment happen last night? Rumors now that huge central bank intervention was to prop up a large EU bank.

    So now for the fall out. The central banks can save the EU bank – but when the public get wind of it there could well be a run on the bank. Northern Rock all over again.

    Do the Italians or French queue?

  29. Frances Matta
    November 30, 2011

    “What Should the UK Say to Germany”.

    Why did my Miele washing machine turn every load into a very large golfball?
    Those huge knots took forever to untangle.
    Was I glad to leave it behind.
    My Rowenta coffee maker. Ancient, but if you don’t raise the lid on the jug when pouring, it drips everywhere.
    Your machines may well go on forever but mine were not well designed.

    1. Bazman
      November 30, 2011

      Interesting to find out why companies like Miele withhold technical information and have expensive repairs through the their own engineers using expensive parts. Ain’t cheap if they break down at the end of the guarantee. Often not economically viable to repair and not green because of this. Maybe to EEC could put and end to these practices which are (questionable-ed), outlawed on cars. Good machine though.

  30. Alan Wheatley
    November 30, 2011


    As to the last paragraph, if there is to be a process of renegotiation at the end of which the people will be asked to state their view in a referendum, then to be meaningful several things need to happen.

    “The people” need to know from the government just what are the roadblocks and have it explained how they are having a negative impact on growth. That way they will appreciate the need for renegotiation.

    “The people” must be brought along with the renegotiation process so they can see how it is going; to know the various arguments being advance on all sides and to understand the merits of each case.

    “The people” will feel belittled if they are not involved until renegotiations are completed.

    There then comes the matter of what it is “the people” will be asked to decide.

    If renegotiations have achieved something beneficial to the UK, then the answer to a choice between the new relationship or the status quo is so obvious that it is not worth asking the question.

    So the only plausible question is between the result of the renegotiations (which in the worst case could be the status quo, if that is what the EU choose) or to leave.

    A policy of renegotiation followed by a referendum only makes sense if an option in the referendum is to leave the EU. The option of leaving the EU is only valid if the government has done the work to show that leaving is viable and the consequences are clear.

    A referendum where “the people” are asked to choose between a renegotiated relationship or the status quo would be a sham, as that is no choice at all.

    Reply: yes, what some of us want is an open process of negotiation, followd by a Yes/No referendum – Yes means stay in on the new terms, No means leave.

  31. john w
    November 30, 2011

    John,the prime minister should not threaten Germany with a referendum.He should tell them that we are going to have one.Then do it.

  32. Alan Wheatley
    December 1, 2011

    As “Polling shows 80% of the British people do not think the current deal is satisfactory” one would have thought renegotiation would be a policy the government would be keen to embrace. Apparently not. So why could this be so?

    All governments want the results of policy to be judged a success. To adopt a policy with an uncertain outcome is risky. With something as intangible as a new UK/EU relationship it is not so much “success” as there being so many possible outcomes to negotiation that all and sundry could come up with a plausible argument that negotiations have failed. Whatever the outcome some will say it is too little and most of the rest will say it is too much. So how does the government frame policy so that it will be able to show that negotiations have been time and money well spent?

    This negotiation could well be unique in the sense that, at least for some, failure would be the ideal outcome! Negotiations that failed to produce an acceptable UK/EU relationship would be an ideal springboard for a referendum result to take the UK out of the EU. This is a difficult negotiating hand to play, fraught with potential disasters.

    If from the outset one possible outcome of policy could be a majority voting for the UK to leave the EU, then it seems to me that government must do the work to show that leaving is technically possible and practically plausible. Indeed, declaration of the policy must be accompanied by a statement that there are no theoretical or practical “show-stopers” to prevent leaving: more detailed work would then follow. So there would then run in parallel negotiations with the presumed outcome that the UK would stay in on new terms and working up plans on the presumed outcome that the UK would leave.

    This strikes me as an enormously challenging undertaking for the Prime Minister in particular, as it would be he who would have to lead negotiations of such fundamental importance. This would be difficult enough with a united government, but a government united on the EU is something of a rarity. I can well understand renegotiation is something the PM would prefer not to take on.

    So what to do? Answers on a post card to Conservative Central Office, I guess!

  33. Bazman
    December 1, 2011

    Why are you so rich Germany, with so many regulations. If it is not allowed it is forbidden to use the old joke. A border impossible to police and a generous benefits system? All this and impressive infrastructure with Bavaria a conservative paradise, at least for Bavarians. Why is there so little German manual workers and why are white collar workers in pointless state and private jobs so highly paid? Your parents were forced to pay for university so you have a point, but you were forty years old. Wearing glasses does not make you middle class and intelligent. Fact. Clear as flat glass. Why is your TV so bad even though you have so many independent broadcasters? Maybe I am wrong and heavy religious TV then at the flick of a channel porn advertising is a good thing.
    Why is Germany such a good country for Germans, but often not for anyone else living there?

  34. Chris
    December 1, 2011

    Have just come across this link which gives some details of UK export trade with EU countries and elsewhere:
    Although I don’t agree with Andrew Oxlade’s headline, the article is useful in that gives table of exports (value and percentage share).

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