EU frustrations

I can fully understand the frustrations many feel about the turn of events in the EU.

Many Eurosceptics thought that once a new Treaty proposal came along, all the UK Prime Minister had to do was to table a series of amendments and opt outs for the UK so we could loosen our relationship, as our price for signing up to let the others move forwards to yet more closer union. After all, they argued, the previous Conservative governemnts had managed to negotiate effective opt outs from the social chapter, the common borders, the criminal justice provisions and the single currency. Labour has now given most of those away, and most Conservatives want to get control back over vital matters like borders, criminal justice and the economy.

The proposal for a new Treaty came along quicker than the government had expected. Mr Cameron asked for less in exchange for UK consent to the others going ahead with more integration than I would have wanted, but had even his modest demands turned down before Christmas. He rightly decided to veto the EU draft Treaty, and renewed that veto this week.

Instead of bringing the rest of the EU round to offering the UK a better deal, it led directly to their decision to create an inter governmental Treaty between up to 25 states. The unresolved issue between Mr Cameron and some of his Eurosceptic critics, is could the UK find a way which works to stop the 25 (or however many finallly sign up if they do) from using EU institutions to develop and enforce their enhanced co-operation in these budget and economic matters? Some think he could. He himself says he will watch it vigilantly and take legal action if need arises.

He clearly cannot see an easy way to stop them using the EU facilities as they choose. Ultimately for the other members these issues anyway will be settled by the European Court of Justice, a federalist court. Labour signed the UK up to Treaties which introduced “enhanced co-operation” and special treatment for Euro members enforced by the EU institutions, undermining the UK position.

So what are the other options from here? The UK could hold a referendum on continued membership, and on the terms of membership, preparatory to seeking a renegotiated settlement or exit if that is the wish of the electors. The UK government could notify its EU partners of its intention to hold a referendum and seek negotations of a better deal to put to the UK electors prior to a referendum. Both these routes have been firmly ruled out by a decisive Parliamentary vote against a referendum when we recently engineered a motion and vote, thanks to the overwhelming wish of Labour and Lib Dem MPs to back Coalition Ministers.

The UK could make proposals for piecemeal repatriation of powers that have some cross party support. The idea of repatriating a third of the EU budget by opting for national control of regional and structural funds described here recently might attract such support. If it did so the government would have to take it up in the EU. Proposals this week that have come from Parliamentary sources to repatriate the lost criminal justice powers would probably attract less cross party support.

The government could take the advice some of us are offering them about the need to play tough on the issue of the use of the court and other institutions to enforce the Treaty of the 25. If the EU intends to use its legal and institutional architecture against us in pursuit of a Treaty of 25, the Uk could counter by legislating in the UK to modify our adherence to EU law in a way which offset or compensated us for the extra legal reach the 25 were asserting. There are all sorts of legal arguments about whether the UK could or should undertake unilateral legal action. Some of us think it is the obvious answer to moves by other EU states to circumvent EU agreement by having a Treaty amongst a lesser number of states, yet continuing to use EU legal process.

I understand many of you just want to leave the EU. As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy, and the Lib Dems and Labour make a virture out of being federalist parties. This means that it is not about to happen. If this Parliament will not vote for a referendum, it is certainly not going to vote to leave the EU.

That is why come out Eurosceptics have to unite with moderate Eurosceptics to try to reverse the tide of powers flowing to the EU, and to get us a looser relationship. As the last week has shown, even that is going to be very difficult. It is, however, important that for the first time the rest of EU has demanded a Treaty and the UK has refused to sign it in any form. All previous Prime Ministers have signed up to all proposed Treaties, some willingly, some after opting the UK out of important bits. We have to work with the Euroscepticism that there is in Parliament, as whatever Eurosceptics in the country want, it all hinges on Commons votes. People in the country who are very frustrated by the never ending march of EU power can help and can make their voices heard. They need to lobby all those MPs who do not vote in the Commons for less EU control of our lives, or for a new relationship for the Uk with the continental powers.

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107 Comments

  1. figurewizard
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    What is so extraordinary about a proposed new treaty to save the Euro is that many of the members seem to be agreeing to create obligations that are going to make their already difficult situation worse than it already is. Perhaps they would be well advised to take a look over their shoulders to discover how voters in their country are going to react to years of austerity in the interests of preserving Germany’s new economic miracle.

    Better still they should be considering taking a leaf out of the UK’s book and return to national currencies with the disciplines of devaluation or otherwise that goes with that.

    Reply: It is still possible that this unloved German inspired Treaty does not make it to successful ratification.

    • SteveS
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      The best way to ensure that you win a war is to pick a fight at the right time, to inflict maximum damage upon your opponent’s position. The fiscal compact has already been significantly watered down, there are significant levels of dissenting voices in Finland and Holland. Even Luxembourg has been less than enthusiastic about it. It will do nothing to solve the problems in the Eurozone that are in my opinion completely unsolvable without Eurobonds which Germany’s constitutional court has ruled illegal under the present German constitution. Ireland will inevitably have to put it to a referendum, but the threats against Ireland for not ratifying will be weaker against a background of further euro problems in Portugal and a default in Greece, and Italy wobbling on the brink. I predict a stay at home pro-Euro vote in Ireland with the No’s coming out in force.

      All in all, my assessment is there is less than a 10% chance of any action solving the implosion of the Eurozone. We must buy time to prepare further for the inevitable, and effectively ‘reserving our position ‘ is sensible for the UK at this time. When the whole thing falls apart, we will be in the best position to strike the European Union out of a whole host of intrusive business that it has no need to be regulating at all.

      I want the UK out, but support the Cameron position on this.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        “Ireland will inevitably have to put it to a referendum”

        Not at all, the Irish government is intent on avoiding a referendum, other EU member states have done what they can to help avoid an Irish referendum, and there’s no knowing which way the Supreme Court would decide.

        http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0131/1224311004444.html?via=rel

        “In Government circles, well-placed sources say there is a growing sense the treaty, on balance, will not necessitate a referendum. However, Ministers are braced for the likelihood of a Supreme Court challenge to any move to ratify the pact without a plebiscite.”

        So far the Irish government has ruled out holding a referendum on either:

        1. The EU treaty change agreed on March 25th 2011 to grant the eurozone states the right to set up the ESM.

        2. The ESM treaty itself.

        Now they’re hoping to also get away without a referendum on the “fiscal pact”.

        Even if there was a referendum, there would be a good chance that the Irish could be intimidated into voting “yes”.

        And even if there was a referendum and the Irish voted “no”, under its own terms the “fiscal pact” only needs 12 of the 17 eurozone states to ratify to allow it to come into force for the ratifiers.

        • SteveS
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

          Denis, the Supreme Court in Ireland is going to find it quite difficult to say that this is not a change in Ireland’s constitution when the majority of those who are going to ratify will be changing their constitutions themselves – Germany in particular is very keen for constitutional implementation. The Irish Supreme Court will IMO be a far fairer arbiter of a potential transfer of sovereignty than the arrangements we have under the so called Referendum lock, that simply allows those in power to say “It is not a transfer – so let it be written, so let it be done”!

          • SteveS
            Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

            Sorry about the double posting, but in reply to the issue of only needing 12 of the 17 to come into force, it will hardly be a ringing endorsement of the Eurozone if they fail to get all 17 on board. A failure to get one or two Eurozone countries on board (those that don’t ratify will probably be the weaker ones anyway) will almost certainly result in a further loss of confidence in the whole Euro confidence trick. I see nothing but problems ahead for the Euro elite.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        When the whole thing falls apart, we will be in the best position to strike the European Union out of a whole host of intrusive business that it has no need to be regulating at all.

        What makes you think this is what will happen? Sadly there is no precedent for this and Cameron is showing himself to be entirely unwilling to press for any repatriation of powers, other than those given the nod by Nick Clegg.

  2. Polly Ethel Leane
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    JR:-“I understand many of you just want to leave the EU. As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy.”

    Cart before the horse there Mr. R. Given that a vote for UKIP is considered a ‘wasted’ vote, on the grounds presumably that such a vote might let the wrong coloured lizard in, then if no party has leaving the EU as a policy; de facto it is an option that no-one CAN vote for. All three ‘main’ parties have had a referendum as part of their manifesto and look what that has given us. With few honourable exceptions, arrogant liars and rent-seekers the lot of them.

    • outsider
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Mr Redwood’s reasoning is uncharacteristically weak here. There are many things that a quarter or more of voters want that are not represented in any of the three main parties. For instance, all three favour the entry of Turkey into the EU without a referendum to become its most populous and poorest nation. I suspect that 85 per cent of the electorate does not want that. At least a quarter probably favour much higher taxes on “the rich”. Not a good idea but that widely held view goes unrepresented. The three parties all chase what they take to be the undecided few in the middle who might be persuaded to change their vote. The power of the media lies in its assumed ability to affect the views of that flexible group.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Given that only 1% of the population earns enough to be in the 50% tax rate more than one quarter of the population is likely to support higher taxes for the rich simply because it won’t effect them.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:02 am | Permalink

          On that basis perhaps they should all be taxed at 100% or perhaps the richest 20% should just have all their wealth stolen and given to the state to waste. Hopefully the sensible ones will see that it is not in any one’s interests to overtax as it raises less tax in the long term, destroys jobs, is immoral, and makes everyone poorer.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

            There’s no such thing as overtaxing as long as you have a welfare system for those with low incomes. Also it won’t destroy jobs or make everyone poorer.

        • alan jutson
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          Uanime5

          …it won’t affect them.

          Your right of course, until they decide that running a business in the UK is more expensive than elsewhere in the World, then they go, and the workforce need to find another job.

          Perhaps it does not happen on a large scale, but it happens.

          Recent case:
          Mars moved some production from Slough to Eastern Europe.

          TaTa I am given to understand are now looking at the possibility of only assembling some Cars in the UK, but from a growing list of components made in India.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            This might surprise you but a business can operate in one country even when the CEO of the business lives in another country, so even if the rich leave the business itself will not.

            The Mars example you listed is an example of a company outsourcing production to a country where production costs are lower, not the CEO of company leaving the country to avoid paying taxes. Thus it does not not back up your claim that taxing the rich causes businesses to go abroad.

            Regarding your TaTa examples car companies do this because it’s cheaper to import car parts from India and build a car than importing cars from India. This is mainly due to EU tariffs which prevent India undercutting EU car makers.

            Do you have any example of CEO’s leaving the UK to avoid taxes and taking their business with them? Companies where the CEO was the only employee don’t count.

          • alan jutson
            Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

            Uanime5

            So if Mars producion goes to eastern Europe it keeps the same number of workers at Slough does it ?

            The CEO may still be there, but believe me many huundreds of employees were made redundant, including a number of people I knew personally, thus jobs were lost.

            Yes fully aware some TATA parts are now made in India, just give it some time, and you will see more production assembly going that way as well.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m afraid a growing number of Tory voters are disallusioned with Politicians and their failure to deliver on those things that matter to the electorate. We are coming to the conclusion that voting for the same old parties delivers the same results i.e. no change except for more taxes. Then its time to vote for new parties. Out here in the real world we see our taxes going abroad to pay for Mr Camerons vanity projects, £21 billion net to EU and foreign aid. Only yesterday we were reminded of the vast sums going to the indian sub continent when they have more millionaires than us. They choose to spend their money on nucleur programmes, space projects, armies etc. It beggars belief that we should be taxed to pay for this indirectly. Why should I be taxed to pay for EU foreign infrastructures and farmers? The trade stuff is a nonsense with a trade deficit of £50 billion with the EU last year alone. We want out of this undemocratic monster. Immigration! Just when is Mr Green going to deliver instead of talk. Another announcement whilst Rome burns. I do not see any persuasive arguments for remaining in the EU and the tired old excuses just don’t wash. We need that referendum or vote for those who would deliver what we want.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        We’d still have a trade deficit of £50 billion with the EU even if we left the EU because the UK is a net importer. The deficit will continue unless the UK sells more products to the UK than it buys from them.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I too have to pick you up on this rather clumsy point. If it wasn’t for that troublesome James Goldsmith none of the ‘main parties’ would have had to bother with offers of referenda.

      Thank God there are (or at least were) some individuals who put this issue above party politics.

      reply I seem to remember resigning from the Cabinet to help force this

  3. lifelogic
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The electorate cannot vote “out” in UK General Elections they can only vote for the candidates offered who have a chance of winning in their area. Usually just two or three mainly pro EU candidates (and with many other issues to be combined in the one vote). Only a referendum would allow that as they were promised by the parties. Even then a referendum could be subverted by the BBC (with Lord Patten at the head of the BBC trustees and EU money being supplied to them). Further the choice of the question, the timing and the parties with their base support could subvert democracy again.

    Heath, Major, Blair, Brown and even Thatcher have created this mess. Cameron is clearly a socialist pro EU person at heart (clearly indicated by his choice of Lord Patten). Had he not been one, he would surely have won the election with a proper Tory agenda. It is hard to see a way out from the mess these people have created. Certainly not with Cameron and the coalition in power. A proper Tory party is the only answer but looks very distant indeed.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      In relation to the use of service companies for remunerations of, effectively, full time civil servants.
      I see that a treasury spokesman said that Mr Alexander was “not made aware” of the potential tax benefits when he approved this appointment and salary levels, and had now ordered an “urgent review” into the “appropriateness” of civil servants being paid through an agency or private service company.

      Is he really expecting us to belief that Mr Alexander (yet another Oxford PPE graduate I see) did not know that there were clear tax advantages in using a service company? Or perhaps the spokesman is suggesting that as Chief Secretary to the treasury Mr Alexander is so ignorant of tax matters that he would need to be “made aware” of this. In which case clearly he is not in the right job.

      How many more of these arrangement are there in the state sector, quangos the BBC, the EU? How many more have been signed off by ministers?

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        I’m surprised you’re objecting to this when you always claim that everyone in the private sector has a right to utilize tax avoision so they may pay as little tax as possible. Why is tax avoision wrong in the public sector but not the private sector?

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:18 am | Permalink

          Tax avoidance should not be necessary but tax rates are so absurdly high and the system so complex it is. It is also highly moral and better for all in the long run, as it will almost certainly be spent better by the individual than by the state who will waste in on vanity projects, green energy, the EU, buying votes and similar.

          In the case of the state sector all the pay is coming from taxes anyway so stopping tax avoidance by civil servants is a direct net reduction in net government expenditure and should therefore result in lower taxes on the productive sector being needed to fund it. Then again they might just find another thing to waste it on!

        • APL
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

          uanime5: “when you always claim that everyone in the private sector has a right to utilize tax avoision so they may pay as little tax as possible.”

          Avoidance is legal. What right has the public sector to demand more than is legally required? To organize one’s financial affairs such that you pay only what you are legally obliged to pay is sensible and legal.

          Evasion is a different thing altogether.

          [edit] this is the first time I have come across the word ‘avosion’
          I imagine you are deliberately conflating two similar sounding but distinct words to further the leftist agenda.

          Tax avoidance == Evil. something nasty capitalists do.

          uanime5: ” Why is tax avoision wrong in the public sector but not the private sector?”

          Everyone in the Public sector avoids income tax.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            The point I was making was that lifelogic was being hypocritical for promotes tax avoision in the private sector but condemning it in the public sector.

            Also avoision means ‘Non-payment of tax that cannot clearly be seen as either tax avoidance, which is legal, or tax evasion, which is illegal’. It has meant this since the 1970’s.

          • APL
            Posted February 6, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

            uanime5: “Also avoision means ‘Non-payment of tax that cannot clearly be seen as either tax avoidance, which is legal, or tax evasion, which is illegal’.”

            Thank you for your reply.

            If it cannot be seen as clearly illegal, take the issue to court and get a ruling. The revenue and Customs are not usually backward in coming forward if they think they can make a case.

            If the tax code was much simpler then there would be less scope for ambiguity. Where there is ambiguity, that is the fault of MPs who are supposed to be providing oversight to the finance bill.

            Note: The finance bill has not been defeated in Parliament in living memory. Perhaps MPs ought to take their job more seriously.

      • sm
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, i would expect all the public sector to operate in a manner which supports public policy in general. This is why a general anti avoidance principle is the way forward, as is the principle behind it. Also all public procurement rules should ensure that all contracts awarded mitigate the use of offshore locations outside of EU.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      John, Yesterday you asked what more could Cameron have done, when you answered this question on many occasions previously on this blog. I can appreciate that you and the rest of the Eurosceptics might feel embarrassed or let down. Especially people like IDS and Boris Johnson who only days before stood up for Cameron. He sold you and the rest of the Eurosceptics a pup. The veto that never was a tactic to prevent a referendum taking place. He knows, like the Germans, that the FU will be incorporated by all 27 nations when the full effects of the Lisbon Treaty into force in 2014. Look at Cameron’s Youtube video on the effects of the Lisbon Treaty when he was in opposition. Accepting his previous stance, the question ought to be: why did he do nothing for giving up control of the UK budget to the socialist undemocratic EU?

      He could have done many things and negotiated something for the UK, he gave up the UKs control of its budget to the EU. Lib Dems have already voted previously for this to happen. They must be delighted. Furthermore, he did not secure any safe guards that he ranted about for the City.

      At the moment he is happy to go along with the anti capitalist stance by bashing CEO pay, putting pressure on Mr Hester to give up his bonus, taking away knighthoods etc. Cable must think he is in heaven. But what exactly has Cable done, as the Business Secretary, to secure business for the UK. Who would believe Cameron that the UK is open for business when his actions are in contrast with his statement? Call a leader contest before it is too late.

      What Cameron did achieved is successfully out manoeuvring you and the other Eurosceptics by preventing a referendum and conning the public that he would get something in return for allowing the EU countries to use the EU institutions. How many cast iron U turns do you need before you realise that you cannot believe a word he says?

      Reply: I do not agree the cause is lost. The UK is not signing any Treaty, and the government has had to say ti will be vigilant about creeping powers nonetheless. There is all to play for, and we are in a better position than if we had the usual UK government who would have simply signed up.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps a “very slightly” better position at best. But Cameron does not inspire confidence nor does the prospect of any legal actions – how could he appoint Lord Patten if his heart was really in the right place.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        I suppose Camerons promises are about as solid as George Osborne promising the UK wouldn’t be signing up to IMF funding of £30 billion to save a currency union. Now what are the latest murmurings form the Tory elite and its whips? I thought you couldn’t save a drunken man by giving him more drink or indebted nations by lending them more cash?

        • Martyn
          Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, but I would put it another way. Throwing yet more of our money at the IMF to save the Euro flies in the face of completely one of the hardest-won lessons of history and warfare, which is ‘never, ever reinforce failure, it simply makes a bad situation far worse’.

          As I suspect in due course we shall see become once again true in this case.

    • APL
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      JR: “I do not agree the cause is lost. ”

      You are right, the cause was not lost, it was given away.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Given that the BBC couldn’t get change of the voting system in the AV referendum it’s unlikely they’ll have any major effect on an EU referendum.

      • davidb
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that had we been offered a form of PR which was designed to fairly represent the electorate’s will rather than the system we were offered which would have benefitted the big parties – and the LibDems most, then the voters may have voted differently.

        I always assume that there is an equal propensity for stupidity randomly spread across the population, so the more savvy folks can work out what they want and how to get it. Witness how the votes are cast in European elections, or how sophisticated the manipulations are of the system in the Scottish parliament elections ( a very slick form of PR ). It takes only a couple of elections for we stupid voters to work it out. That PR we were offered was not much different to what we have now – except it may have entrenched the LD’s in coalition perpetually. We made the right choice.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

        The do have a major effect on things they set the whole tone and basis of the debate even before it starts. The endless BBC refrain is for ever bigger and more government, many more levels of government, more forced “equality of outcome”, more and higher and “progressive” taxes, more EU, more immigration, more overseas aid, more millennium domes and the like, more Olympics, more trains, more bikes more buses, more regulations, more rights, more quack green energy engineering. They are wrong on pretty much all counts.

    • Bob
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Caterpillar
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    “I understand many of you just want to leave the EU. As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy”

    I think the above is a little unfair, at UK GEs voters are essentially chosing between bundled products.

    The Guardian/ICM survey October 2011 (when the PM failed to take the refendum opportunity) indicated 49% of UK would choose to leave and 40% would choose to stay in EU. Around three quarters wanted a referendum. (Note this was reported as UK survey not England survey).

    And yet, “Parliament will not vote for a referendum, it is certainly not going to vote to leave the EU”.

    It is a great shame that something like MMP representation wasn’t an offer in the voting system referendum, this may well have allowed single product parties voices to be heard.

  5. Adam5x5
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Again you comment about people voting for the parties which want to remain in the EU.

    Most people voted for a Conservative Party which had indicated that it was to repatriate powers and negotiate a new deal from Europe – there was also some fudging about a Lisbon treaty referendum.

    Before we start asserting that the UK population does not want to be seperate from Europe, we must consider the behaviour of the people.

    In the current system, there are three main parties (though probably only two after the Lib Dims get a pounding at the next election). To vote for any of the other parties is often seen as a wasted vote.
    People who do not like the tories are most likely to vote Labour to stop the Conservatives winning. and vice versa.

    It is hard for a small party to break in. UKIP are starting to break through, with a 50% increase in their share of the vote, especially since they are starting to sound like the Conservative party should – libertarian, low tax, independent of Europe.

    You may find that this trend continues as the traditional conservative voters move to a party that more accurately represents their views.

    For example, at the last election I voted Conservative as my constituency (Shipley) was a key marginal and my MP was making the right noises in parliament so deserved my loyalty.
    I have now moved to Chester/Wales and when I vote here, it is highly likely that my vote will change to UKIP – unless the conservative candidate in the area has a good track record.

    Reply: As you can see, we need the Eurosceptics votes in Parliament now. There is no single UKIP MP who can help the Conservative Eurosceptic MPs.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      As explained John, many of us believed that Cameron was going to repatriate powers, renegotiate with the EU etc. He copied Obama’s mantra for the need of change etc. It is not the fault of the voters if politicians are not honourable and do not keep to their word. Lib Dems stated they would give a better EU referendum than the Tories. After recent events do you think this was a truthful statement? If both Tories and Lib Dems pledged a EU referendum why has it not taken place? The country had an AV referendum for the wishes of 58 Lib Dem MPs that was very costly and most of the population did not want. That appears to me to be an abuse of power. I submit the Lib Dems never had any intention of providing an EU referendum.

      Reply: I cannot explain the position of the Lib Dems on a referendum. As I have explained endlessly, the Conservatives promsied a referendum before Lisbon was ratified. We voted for one in the Commons and lost. The leadership then withdrew the promise of a referendum after ratification of Lisbon, before the election. You and I do not like that, but it does mean they did not mislead people in the election. There was quite a public fuss when they removed the promise. Some of us proposed a joint EU/AV referendum but the Coalition would not buy that.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Reply: As you can see, we need the Eurosceptics votes in Parliament now. There is no single UKIP MP who can help the Conservative Eurosceptic MPs.

      And yet, aside from a few notable candidates (yourself, Phil Davies, a couple of others), the majority of MPs make the noises that people want to hear, but when push comes to three-line-whip, do not stand for what their constituents want.

      So, given that I am a strongly Euro-sceptic, who am I to vote for if not UKIP since the Conservative party does no longer seem to represent my views.

      Also note, I did not have the option of voting UKIP in the last election as they didn’t stand against MPs with a good track record of voting against Europe.

      It seems to me, that David Cameron et al will only start to listen to the people when they start losing seats to a split vote with UKIP. Hence why my alliegance is changing.

  6. Bernard
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Oh Dear!
    I wish I could fault your last couple of paragraphs.
    I really do.

    Juggernaut.
    Recht ist Macht. – (Have I got this right?)

    We used to be free. Now we are most certainly not free. We are being stripped of hundreds of years of hard won privileges by unelected bigots.

    Never mind eh!

  8. Antisthenes
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The sensible approach for euro-sceptics is to seek to repatriate a raft of powers back from the EU. The EU will refuse or make derisory offers which will enrage the UK electorate who will then demand to leave. The problem of course is getting the current PM to initiate such a move.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      Actually if the PM promises to repatriate powers from the EU and fails the PM will be blamed, not the EU. Blaming the other party when negotiations don’t go your way rarely makes people support you as people generally feel that if you’d negotiated more tactfully you would have been victorious or that you were foolish to try to negotiate what wouldn’t happen.

  9. Duyfken
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    A petty point perhaps but if the non-EU Treaty members use the resources of the EU institutions, I trust that the UK will not be lumbered with a share of the costs.

    That aside, I reckon you and your like-minded colleagues will need to be ever vigilant to prevent further slides into the EU’s clutches. I am now one of the let’s-get-out brigade, because of little or no faith in our leaders (and mandarins) being able or wishing to pull back powers from Brussels. Even the concerted effort which you suggest in your final paragraph has little chance of success in the face of so many forces against us.

    My counter-suggestion is that the “moderate” Eurosceptics should unite with and adopt the outlook of the “come out” Eurosceptics

    • John Bracewell
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I agree, that has become my view too. For years there has not been a chance to record my EU opposition at GEs since all 3 main parties do not give that option, so after voting Conservative all my life, I will now not vote again until there is an In/Out EU referendum.

  10. James Reade
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    It’s very important to get control of borders back so that you can add more regulations and red tape to get in the way of UK businesses isn’t it?

    It’s damn inconvenient this EU stopping us from restricting those pesky Europeans from coming here and doing jobs and making better quality products that we can enjoy, isn’t it?

    Let’s get control of our borders, restrict them so we can protect mediocre British workers who wouldn’t have got the jobs had they been properly exposed to competition from workers from around the world, so we can go back to poor quality British produce that fails on international markets.

    Let’s wait as all other countries in Europe make it hard for us to go there and take jobs that we’d like to as they are profitable opportunities both for us and the firms involved, in tit for tat (it’s reasonably they’d do it since that’s what we’re world beaters at here in the UK).

    Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? This is going to really lead to an increase in economic activity here in the UK, isn’t it? Firms are really going to think “let’s expand” if they can’t hire the workers they want to hire to do the work, aren’t they?

    A bit like what happened after the election when your party watered down its proposals over non-EU immigration, you might do well John to admit that your idea about “taking control” of borders is a sure fire economic disaster – simple economics tells you so, yet when it goes against the wishes of your electorate, you abandon simple economics and try and convince them all that you’re still talking economic sense. You’re not, and this is one of your lies on the economy that one of your commenters was wondering about in a recent post.

    Reply: I take it then that you would like the UK to welcome in any benefit seeker or health tourist and just pay the bills. The government has no wish to stop talented people coming in to do difficult jobs to a high standard, but most of us think we do need to protect ourselves from allowing a large number of people to enter who wish to use free facilities and claim state derived income without working.

    • stred
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, the top echelons of the UK Civil Service must be full of people with this sort of ideology. Principled but taken to the point of dogma. Inflexible and unable to see the unpalatable problems. Unable to adapt to solve particular problems. Most other non-European countries adapt their immigration policies to suit themselves, and keep out anyone likely to present a cost to their taxpayers. Why do we have to be so muddled and not just copy Canada, US, Australia and the rest?

      • James Reade
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks – please point out where I’m inflexible, and please point out exactly what the “unpalatable problems” are – is it those pesky horrible nasty foreigners coming along, those dishonest mean vicious Europeans taking the jobs we turn our noses up at?

        My approach is very flexible and I apply it to all situations. I’m not so sure about yours though. Please tell me all the calculations you’ve made to arrive at the conclusion that the net benefit of enacting another bureaucratic monster to keep out the few health and benefit tourists is greater than that of letting the few dishonest folk come in, but allowing the many others that would happily work hard and do an honest day’s work – without the same moaning and complaining most Brits engage in whilst producing a shoddy end product.

        Go on. I’m waiting, Mr Flexible.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Clearly if we continue to let in huge numbers from the EU (and elsewhere) as seems certain, we will have to vastly reduce paying benefits to all or severely restrict them in some other way perhaps to people who have paid very substantially into the system first.

      The UK cannot afford it otherwise nor can the UK workers who have mortgages and families and are clearly being undercut or even put out of work as a result.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Erm, what about the extra production from all the folk that come here and do a decent job? What about the income tax from their earnings, what about the VAT on everything they buy?

        Stop taking such a blinkered narrow minded view of the situation.

        Stop protecting the lazy British workers you mention – if they aren’t good enough in their job, why should they be protected? Why shouldn’t they be going out and finding something they do better? Why are you standing in the way of us having a more dynamic and flexible economy?

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Of course the facts and figures do not support your view Mr R. Recently Messrs Grayling and Green were trying to defend their lack of action by a joint article in the DT over the previous two years by continuing to blame Labour and today we have more sophistry from Mr Green. His performance to date based on figures shows he has been completely useless in his post. The UKs infrastructure cannot support the ever increasing population, four times what it was in 1980, and allGovernment departments have yet to come up with a strategy to support the continuing mass immigration policy that Labour created and the Lib Dems advocated support in the general election. Is Mr Huhne’s energy policy going to help? Is Mr Landley’s Health changes going to cope? Mr Cable’s business strategy? Mr Osborne’s budget strategy going to be met? Ms May’s progress with the HRA to help crime and deportation. European arrest warrants allowed and accepted despite claims to prevent it.Mr Clark’s soft on crime strategy and to make motorists pay for victims of crime? No, I suspect a lot of hot air and bluster from Mr Cameron with forceful promises what he will do followed by a quiet subservience to the EU to let it all happen. Two years on and no substantive action or progress on any key policy issue. UKPI for me next time.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        The facts and figures as you look at them dont support by view, and that’s because you look at them through a very prejudiced mindset I’m afraid to say. You’ve long ago decided that there’s too much immigration, and nothing will change your mind. Until you’re prepared to be a little more open minded, there’s nothing much I can say here that will change what you think.

        What I don’t get is quite how you know there are too many people in the UK. Have you done a study to work out just what is the optimal level of population in the UK? Because if you look at the numbers globally, we don’t have all that high a population density.

        What I also don’t understand is why you want to tell businesses exactly what to do. Why should you have the right to tell businesses who they can and can’t hire on the basis of their birthplace? Why shouldn’t firms be allowed to employ the most productive, most motivated, most keen people to the jobs they want to fill? Why will you tell them they can’t hire that person because they are from Nepal or some other far flung part of the globe?

        I just don’t understand it to be honest.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      As a Catholic, I notice a lot of immigrants who come from across the world to worship in our church and to receive our hospitality. Believe me, although every single one is quite documented (we don’t check) as a European citizen, there an awful lot of Indians, Russians, Africans and Asians there. In nearby Peterborough there are two new shiny mosques too. And there an awful lot of veiled women in the mall. I am sure, of course, that every single one comes from Portugal.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Set up a system, people will try to get around it. It’s why so many South American footballers playing in the UK have EU passports.

        Whatever system you put in place next, people will play the system as much as they can to get around it. And the system will cost a lot of money and will stop genuine folk seeking to work in the UK from coming here, hence have a lot of indirect costs too.

        More than not having a system in the first place? Really?

    • Robert K
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      You are both right. Free movement of labour across national boundaries is a very healthy thing. Subsidising the idle is a very bad thing, whichever nationality they are and wherever they happen to be living.
      How about tackling our own unemployment problems by saying to everyone under the age of 16 that they will have a maximum number of years in their life when they can claim benefits? Personally, I would not pay unemployment benefit to anyone under the age of 21. If sends entirely the wrong signal to children that they can quit 12 years of high quality and free education at 16 with no qualifications and enter a world of subsidised unemployment. And yes, I know what the statistics say about youth unemployment and the lack of jobs – I also ssee that virtually no young person working in a cafe or coffee shop in London is English. I guess employers such as Pret a Manger and Costa find it easier to teach foreigners working English than it is to teach English youngsters a work ethic.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Robert:

        Taxpayers are subsidising Pret a Manger to the tune of one person’s dole for every foreigner they employ.

        Cut dole as you say, but raise minimum wage too. It is inexcusable to pay minimum wage in central London (to people living 4 to a room) whilst expecting the taxpayer to subsidise the unemployment costs.

        • James Reade
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          Electro-Kevin that is so wrong and the way you’ve twisted it is simply remarkable.

          The state is not forced to provide benefits to unemployed people, it chooses to do so. That sends a signal.

          Surely, surely you agree a company should be able to employ who it sees as most productive in a job? Why ever should it be different?

          Why then should you decide further how much that firm should pay? What do you hope to achieve other than a hopelessly distorted system? Why would any firm want to operate in such a stifled environment?

          That person not employed by Pret also needn’t be on benefits if they are motivated enough to actually get a job. Such a bizarrely twisted logic you’ve shown.

          My word, I thought John’s readers were all conservatives but clearly not…

      • uanime5
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        “Personally, I would not pay unemployment benefit to anyone under the age of 21. If sends entirely the wrong signal to children that they can quit 12 years of high quality and free education at 16 with no qualifications and enter a world of subsidised unemployment.”

        It’s this sort of idiocy that is causing so many problems in the UK. If someone fails all their GCSE exams at 16 forcing them to remain in education until they’re 21 won’t fix anything. It would be far better for them to get a job or be given vocational training as they are clearly not academic.

        “And yes, I know what the statistics say about youth unemployment and the lack of jobs – I also ssee that virtually no young person working in a cafe or coffee shop in London is English. I guess employers such as Pret a Manger and Costa find it easier to teach foreigners working English than it is to teach English youngsters a work ethic.”

        Adam Smith debunked this argument more than 240 years ago. In ‘The Wealth of Nations’, book 1, chapter 8 Smith pointed out that if an workman is not paid a subsistence wage (a wage sufficient for the husband, wife, and 4 children to live on) then these workmen will not last beyond the first generation.

        At present the wages paid by Pret a Manger and Costa are too low for an English family to live on so English people cannot afford to work in Pret a Manger or Costa. However as immigrants have lower living costs because they’re willing to live 8 or more to a house until they make enough money to leave the country can afford to live on these wages. So unless minimum wage is increased until it is a living wage immigrants will continue to perform all the low paid jobs and English unemployment will continue to rise.

        • James Reade
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Wow, more twisted logic, and an attempt to cite Adam Smith to justify it! Remarkable.

          Do read again Smith’s work. I severely doubt he was quite so prescriptive about what a firm should do. This, after all, is the man that said it’s not to the generosity of the baker, the brewer and the butcher that we owe our breakfast, but their self interest.

          The fact is, if people are prepared to work for less than British kids are, we have to ask why. Why are we so snooty about particular jobs we think are beneath us? And then snooty about those that take those jobs and work incredibly hard for them?

          The fact is such jobs have a low marginal product and hence the wage can’t be high unless there is subsidisation from somewhere – and why should the govt subsidise sandwich shops?

          Pret shouldn’t pay a higher wage just so a particular lifestyle can be afforded, that’s patently ridiculous. It pays efficiency wages clearly because somebody has agreed to take the job, and they are surviving – and likely not in the conditions you display your prejudice in assuming.

          It’s attitudes like this that precisely show why this country is in a mess, not those that wish to restrict benefits.

          Your logic is also totally twisted – withholding benefits til 21 is not forcing them into education, it’s forcing them into a job!

          The mind boggles.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            “This, after all, is the man that said it’s not to the generosity of the baker, the brewer and the butcher that we owe our breakfast, but their self interest.”

            This quote is from ‘The Wealth of Nations’, book 1, chapter 2 in which Smith points out that animals do not trade with each other and can only obtain food by ‘fawning’. He contrasts this with humans who are able to barter and don’t need to rely on the benevolence of others for food, unless they are a beggar.

            James Reade you are the one who is twisting Smith’s words, probably because you’ve only read select quotes rather than the entire book. Adam Smith was against low wages, praised high wages because they allow workers to live better, and even called for a welfare system for those who lost their jobs due to industrialisation.

            “The fact is, if people are prepared to work for less than British kids are, we have to ask why.”

            I already explained that these salaries are not enough for an English family to live on but is sufficient for immigrants whose family lives in a low cost country.

            “The fact is such jobs have a low marginal product and hence the wage can’t be high unless there is subsidisation from somewhere – and why should the govt subsidise sandwich shops?”

            Did you mean ‘low marginal profit’? Also the Government is subsidising low paid workers as they can claim tax credits and housing benefits. This is why the welfare bill is so high.

            “It pays efficiency wages clearly because somebody has agreed to take the job, and they are surviving – and likely not in the conditions you display your prejudice in assuming.”

            What exactly is ‘efficiency wages’ meant to mean? Wages paid in a timely manner?

            Also can you state what conditions someone would be able to afford in in central London if they worked 40 hours a week for minimum wage (£6.08 per hour)? I doubt it would be better than 8 to a house.

            “It’s attitudes like this that precisely show why this country is in a mess, not those that wish to restrict benefits.”

            It is people like you who believe that everyone can live on minimum wage who are getting this country into a mess, not those who point out it is too little.

            “Your logic is also totally twisted – withholding benefits til 21 is not forcing them into education, it’s forcing them into a job!”

            This is assuming that there exists a job to go into, not very likely in the North of England which has high unemployment levels. Your belief that there are enough jobs for the entire population shows you have not done basic research into the causes of unemployment.

          • James Reade
            Posted February 7, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            Hi uanime5, good to hear back from you.

            I’m incredibly intrigued by your reading of Adam Smith because libertarian economists take it to be a pitch for fully free markets – let the invisible hand do its work. Many such economists (they are on the fringes) treat economics as if it stopped at Adam Smith, and the subsequent developments in the impact of imperfect and incomplete information, and in particular in the use of game theory, never happened. I’ll fully admit – I’ve never read the book because my training in economics never required me to. It is something I would like to do at some point, but the pressures of publishing, teaching and administration, along with family life, don’t allow me so much time for these kinds of things – and as said, economics has evolved greatly from the days of Adam Smith – built considerably on his shoulders, it ought to be said, before some Scot tries to crucify me.

            I should also apologise – sometimes my laziness means I write things that are rather strong – your logic isn’t twisted, it’s just different to mine.

            Now on to points of substance. I meant marginal product – the additional product produced by an extra unit of labour. And by efficient wages I referred to the concept I believe (but can’t be certain) proposed by Beveridge, that of a wage sufficient to feed one’s workers, rather than the lowest possible wage.

            Of course, once one gets into that area you’re faced with the kinds of questions that you pose – what is the right level for London, and the answer is: I haven’t got a clue, I don’t live there, and even if I did I wouldn’t know either – and governments clearly have this problem since people moan about how much folk get on benefits!

            One solution is don’t intervene. We can’t know this kind of information, it’s too complex if even the answer exists. Allow the market to do its work. If the govt gets out of the way of micro managing, making it much easier for firms to set up business then the jobs will appear in the North and other depressed areas, and if some employers are harsh and don’t pay enough, well soon enough they’ll find that out as in a competitive market where there are lots of competing firms, workers will go elsewhere and vote with their feet.

            The main reason the North is doing so badly still, after almost a century of poverty (I’m thinking Jarrow marches etc), is that its uncompetitive – it needs its real wages to fall. Fiscal transfers, which we have, don’t cut the mustard – they just transfer money so that regional governmetns don’t go bankrupt like Greece will. So long as governments mandate minimum wages, wages will remain unable to move as freely as they might to adapt to economic situations, and hence firms won’t set up as they need to satisfy all this kind of legislation.

            Radical I know, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed out of hand, as many commenters on this site are well adept at doing.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Your forgot that allowing immigration ensure employers always have a large pool of people willing to work for as little money as possible which helps them keep salaries low.

      Also why did you only mention mediocre British workers losing their jobs but not mediocre British employers?

      • James Reade
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        That’s the way the world is. Deal with it.

        Mediocre British employers would go out of business in my world, they wouldn’t be protected, bailed out by the state for their mistakes, like RBS and the like.

        • sm
          Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          The reality is labour and other costs have been subjected(by capital) to world deflation by immigration,outsourcing, industrialization,technology. Notable exceptions aside.
          Service industries can take up some of the slack but only if consumers have disposable income. A densely populated country called serfdom will not be happy one.

    • James Reade
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      As always, deflecting attention away from your own contradictions.

      Nope, I haven’t said I want to invite all these terrible “health tourists” (btw how many are there? What are your sources?) or people bent on claiming benefits.

      But the point is your supposed systems that stop these people are simply going to stop people that want to come and work – they are not perfect and many mistakes will be made.

      And the cost of such a system must be weighed against the positive contribution of the vast majority of people that come here to work.

      Tell me you’ve done the calculations John – the positive benefit of immigration vs the costs. And let me know how you know it’s much less that the cost of some bureaucratic system providing yet more red tape to businesses just trying to choose the most appropriate worker for each vacancy they have.

      • James Reade
        Posted February 7, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Additionally, nobody has picked up on the contradiction and simply admitted it for what it is.

        You say you’re against Europe because of all its restrictions and regulations, yet actually in this area you all want to add more restrictions and regulations.

        It’s not trivial either. The regulations and restrictions you want to add will be economically harmful to this country, just as the other ones you want to get rid of in other areas may well be!

        Can someone here just admit this glaring contradiction please?

        Reply: We want to be able choose for ourselves what we regulate and what we do not regulate. That is not a contradiction, just a wish for self government

  11. Mazz
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Your next to last paragraph; very depressing! The trouble, is that most people are not interested in politics and probably will not be until the debt crisis starts to affect them personally. Maybe then, some deprivation will concentrate their minds. You can bet that the last thing they will give up is their ‘telly’. The BBC; what a socialist propaganda institution that is!

  12. David
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    It really is time for people to give up on the surrenderist Cameron/Clegg/Miliband parties. They have no intention of restoring our ability to govern ourselves. They are a distraction that guides us further and further into the mire.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    John it would seem to me given that there is very little overall difference between the three main political Party’s on the majority of topics.

    The first one to offer the genuine opportunity of an in out referendum, guaranteed to take place within 18 months of being elected, may sweep the floor for votes !

    This I would have thought would be an opportunity not to be missed.

    But then being rather sceptical, perhaps all three would then offer the same guarantee, but instead of doing a “U” turn, all three would still then campaign hard for us to stay in, and spend a fortune on the campaign to do so, whilst at the sme time restricting the money to the out campign !

    Politics is certainly a dirty business.

    Almost makes Bankers look like good guys, at least we know were we stand with them, it just about money !.

    Reply: Keen as I am on a referendum, Eurosceptics on this site are wrong to think there is a sudden easy popular answer. After all, UKIP which some fo you think is the answer only gets around 20% of the vote in a PR European election, so that implies pulling out of the EU is not popular.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      So even a 10% increase in a vote for any Party would not matter then ?

      Just think where your Party may have been with 10% more votes at the last general election.

      The truth is John, not one of the main party leaders wants to give the population a free vote on, in or out of the EU. because

      THEY ALL WANT IN,

      NO MATTER WHAT THE NATION THINKS.

      So the nation is denied a vote.

      Hardly a Democracy at work is it.

      But thanks for your efforts, keep on pushing.

      With Ref to UKIP.

      I think/hope Mr Cameron gets a shock at the next set of European Election results.

  14. Bill
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Agree with your line here, John. I think Eurosceptics of various shades should collaborate rather than robbing each other of votes. You don’t have to be a great student of history to see that collaboration and party discipline will build acceptable legal frameworks (e.g. the great Butler Act of 1944) while perpetual fragmentation only lets the other side motor on.

    Doesn’t Butler autobiography use that quotation ‘politics is the art of the possible’?

  15. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Voting in a general election is akin for most to walking into an isolated pub on a moor in torrential rain desperate for food and being offered beef, salmon or lettuce sandwiches. A few crisps are on the bar as alternatives.

    The opinion polls I have seen suggest a close call for the result of an in/out referendum but clearly Cameron and Co., as Europhiles, feel they are on a loser or as with the Scottish referendum they would also adopt the John Wayne approach. Until the electorate see real options with PR, as shown ironically with the MEP elections, most will opt for the sandwiches and ignore the crisps.

    Who in their right mind would want to be involved in an organisation whose main preoccupation appears to be retrictive, bureaucratic rules and regulations and endless summits discussing them when the wellbeing and futures of tens of millions is under economic threat.

  16. Sir Richard Richard
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Both these routes have been firmly ruled out by a decisive Parliamentary vote against a referendum when we recently engineered a motion and vote, thanks to the overwhelming wish of Labour and Lib Dem MPs to back Coalition Ministers.

    I hope it will be more interesting come next Parliament what with the Lib Dems destroyed. Of course the ideal is that Mr Redwood would join the forces of the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Davis, Phillip Davies, Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Gove etc. and form an entirely new party – one which is respectable enough to garner seats in the UK Parliament (unlike UKIP) but which truly stands for conservative values, unlike the Conservative party.

    The UK government could notify its EU partners of its intention to hold a referendum and seek negotations of a better deal to put to the UK electors prior to a referendum. Both these routes have been firmly ruled out by a decisive Parliamentary vote against a referendum when we recently engineered a motion and vote, thanks to the overwhelming wish of Labour and Lib Dem MPs to back Coalition Ministers.

    Whilst I feel, and share your frustration about not being about to do anything in Parliament, I should like to dispel this myth of the need for ‘negotiation’ with the EU. Despite the ramblings of Factortame and Simmenthal and Internationale Handelsgesellschaft, the Parliament of the United Kingdom remains sovereign. Accordingly, should we wish to repatriate powers, no negotiation with the EU is necessary. It is enough to pass legislation along the lines of “The Bishop of Brussels hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England”. The only problem remains in the lack of cross-party support for the repatriation of powers.

    He himself says he will watch it vigilantly and take legal action if need arises.

    To the EU, laws are like ice cream; easily melted…

    Reply: Yes, I agree that Parliament could enact laws in the UK that included clauses to prevent EU power or meddling. However, very few MPs wish to do that. Proposing negotiation of a new relationship will win us more support, and reflects the reality that the UK does have to reach agreement with other European countries on a number of important matters to carry on trading etc.

  17. lojolondon
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    John, this is so complex, and it could be so simple. A referendum within one month, parliament follows the wishes of the people and we stop our EU payments within 60 days. All the rest will follow from there, with an additional £15Billion per annum to spend locally.

    I saw this comment on the ‘Biased BBC’ website – it is absolutely pertinent, so I am quoting it below :

    ===============================
    “The BBC claims here that the President, Prime Minister and people of the Czech Republic are all against the pact.
    “The country’s influential – and Eurosceptic – president, Vaclav Klaus, has already told Mr Necas he will not sign Czech accession to the fiscal compact. So even if the Czech prime minister wanted to join it (he doesn’t), the president would not let him.” “even if the Czech people were in favour of more budgetary oversight from Brussels (they are not), simply organising a referendum could take months, possibly years.”
    But then the BBC attributes the rejection to Mr Necas’s Civic Democrats..
    “…who are, like Britain’s Conservatives, deeply divided over Europe. Like the Tories, the Civic Democrats are plagued by a right-wing, viscerally Eurosceptic fringe.”
    I don’t know if what they say about Czech politics is accurate or not, but I do know that opinion polls show a clear and consistent majority of Britons opposed to the EU. To the BBC however MPs who represent the majority constitute a plague and visceral fringe. The BBC’s choice of phrasing tells you everything you need to know about where they are coming from on the EU issue. They don’t seem to be at all aware that their blind obedience to the Brussels agenda shows that it is they who form the visceral fringe of opinion.”
    ==================================

    My point is that a vital cog in this system is the intentional bias of the BBC. They speak out at every opportunity in favour of the EU, and against anyone who questions the EU. As a public broadcaster, bound to deliver impartial service they completely violate their mandate, and they are the most pervasive, influential force in the country by far. Who will stop them?

    Reply: There have been various attempts to get the BBC to change its bias on EU matters. They have been better in giving airtime to serious critics of the Euro scheme in more recent times, as even they can see the Euro is not working well and its critics have some good points.

    • Bob
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      @lojolondon

      Are you providing financial support to the BBC?

  18. frank salmon
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    John
    It’s your job to lead, just as Nick Clegg (Mr 8%) thinks he has a mandate to lead. And I think you can muster a lot more than an 8% vote for leaving the EU. Keep plugging away, and seize your opportunity when it comes……

  19. oldtimer
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Andrew Lilico argues here (http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thecolumnists/2012/02/andrew-lilico-whens-the-eu-referendum.html)
    that the proposed Fiscal Union Treaty will create a bloc vote, available to overide any UK objections to changes to financial regulations. This in itself, he says, is reason enough to trigger a referendum because it causes a significant change in the UK relationship with the rest of the EU. Do you agree with this view?

    Another but related point concerns the present status of Parliamentary oversight of EU generated laws and regulations. Is this adequate at present. If not how should it be strengthened?

    Reply: I have long argued and voted for a referendum and still want one. I have argued for a new relationship with the rest of the EU because they are rushing into ever closer union which we do not want.

  20. Sue
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    “I understand many of you just want to leave the EU. As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy”.

    And I need to remind you, unlike Labour, the Conservatives gave the impression they were going to repatriate powers from the EU when they got into government. That “cast iron guarantee” was a play on words and many who voted for you interpreted as a referendum promise.

    Cameron even produced this specially crafted video, here on youtube “David Cameron: We need a referendum now”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veRsC44HPXE

    Worse still, one of Clegg’s election promises was a referendum.
    http://twitpic.com/7324k3

    Put quite simply, those who voted Conservative and LibDem were deceived. The chaos in the EU is getting worse by the day. There’s news of a threat of famine in Greece and unemployment is the highest it’s been since the Euro was introduced. We are now all aware that the goal is a political union and so circumstances have changed.

    Quite simply, the EU is destroying the United Kingdom and the government is not only allowing it to happen but positively encouraging it.

    It is your duty as our representatives to listen to us. Not just before the election when everybody knows that each promise is meant to lure us to support you but after you have been elected too.

    Reply: I agree we need a referendum and voted for one. Try to persaude those who did not. As you well know, the Conservatives argued for a referendum on Lisbon and voted for one in the Commons as promised. labour voted us down. The Conservative Manifesto did not promise one.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Pathetic response John. When it suits the manifesto is used to support the point when it does not the coalition is the excuse. Once more, you want to have your cake and eat it. Until honour, honesty and integrity is forced into politics we will have snake oil salesman at Westminster and the pervasive corruption.

      Right to recall and a truly independent regulator of MPs so that the people can hold MPs to account. Amendments to the Representation of the People Act so that MPs can be forcibly held to account for what they pledge and promise or recalled and removed.

    • Bob
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      David Cameron imposed a three line whip to prevent people like IDS from voting for a referendum. The man is disingenuous. Don’t trust him!

  21. Damien
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    This draft of the treaty seems to say the UK will be kept informed but does not state that the government may attend any of these meetings. It certainly looks like its a two speed EU.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9049257/Leaked-EU-draft-treaty-in-full.html

    repkly: Of course it is a 2 speed Europe. When the EU is going the wrong way we need a two systems Europe. That is what we have had in effect ever since we opted out of the Euro.

  22. backofanenvelope
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    The trouble with people like James Reade is that they see immigration as a matter of economics. I on the other hand, see it as a matter of culture, society, internal security and crime, as well as economics. It seems to me that the most important departments of state are Education and Welfare. Education is trying prevent the creation of yet another generation of unemployed teenagers and Welfare is trying to get the present generation into work. I don’t see these aims being helped by importing a quarter of a million foreigners every year. However brilliant they are.

  23. sm
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy, and the Lib Dems and Labour make a virture out of being federalist parties.

    Thats only partly fault of the voters, mostly its a system that has been hijacked/hacked and compromised. Will it be change brought by politics or change brought via economic reality (my thinking is the latter).

    Would the IMF recommend the UK leaves the EU when and if we ask them prior to realising an inflationary depression and debt spiral looms. It cannot be right if our debt/gdp ration is so high that we pay such high EU contributions?

    If the 25 continue to use EU institutions to undermine the UK position and signed treaties then this surely must trigger a referendum vote. Sadly it seems those in power can pick and choose the laws or their interpretation to suit the ‘ever closer union’ agenda. The problem is not just the EU but those in the power structures that push forward the EU agenda.

    Looking back at the election results- i cant help but wonder what an unambiguous mandate for a referendum would have achieved (assuming it would be honoured).
    A majority government -outward looking to the world and open for business with the industrializing world.
    1) Savings in EU contributions £15 billion.
    2) Savings in imported food costs.
    3) Savings from Eurobureacracy £xx billion
    4) Freedom to set our own policies for us at a local level- (priceless)
    5) It would allow the Europroject to continue to its logical conclusion, keeping friendly trading relations as with any other country.

    Reply: Remember also that even in Euroepan elections, only one fifth vote for a party that wants out, when there is PR and more of a single issue.

    .

  24. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    “The creation of Europe’s largest trade union federation for industrial and manufacturing workers was agreed this week.

    National trade union leaders of three European trade union federations: the European Metal Workers; the European Chemical, Energy and Mine Workers Federation and the European Textile Workers Federation have agreed to form the European Industrial Workers Federation which will cover 8 million unionised workers throughout Europe.”
    http://www.powerinaunion.co.uk/european-industrial-workers-federation-on-the-horizon/

  25. waramess
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “I understand many of you just want to leave the EU. As I need to remind you, very few UK voters vote for that view in UK General Elections, so none of the 3 main parties has it as a policy”

    If this is indeed the case why does Cameron not simply hold a referendum and increase his credibility with his backbenchers.

    If what you say is true then it is also quite improper for you to resist the will of the people and you should temper your own views to reflect what you see as the wishes of the population at large and not your own personal views.

    The truth is that Cameron knows better than his backbenchers and a referendum has the possibility of opening up a Pandoras box.

    Conservative back benchers seem to be a timid lot unwilling to trust their instincts and unwilling to take up the fight but happy to do a lot of shouting.

    As long as this continues to be the case we may expect further weakening of democracy in favour of the EU until such time as shall come the man of the moment

    Reply: I support a referendum and voted for one – so do 80% of the public. I voted No to staying in the EU when we had a referendum, and found myself in a minority. I have ever since argued for less EU power, trying to keep it to a common market which people voted for. How should I change my views? What is wrong with that stance?

    • Adam5x5
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Reply: I support a referendum and voted for one – so do 80% of the public. I voted No to staying in the EU when we had a referendum, and found myself in a minority. I have ever since argued for less EU power, trying to keep it to a common market which people voted for. How should I change my views? What is wrong with that stance?

      It is not that your views are wrong. I think what most people would like is for you (or someone like you with similar views) to be more vocal, to lead a concerted, high profile campaign to get the government to give us a referendum.
      I would love to help and support a campaign such as this – but I am not the person to lead or be a spokesperson for it.

      You say 80% want a referendum, yet we are denied one.
      Why is that?
      Surely the government is there to relfect the will of the people. The people want to have a referendum.
      I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories. I tend to believe the cock-up version of history. But something is amiss here – most likely self-serving politicians putting their own careers ahead of the nations’ interests.

      Reply: I do regularly call for a referendum. I guess there is no wider camapign because people do not think 500 MPs are about to change their minds, or because the cause is less popular than you think. Voters can make a difference if they all write in to their MPs who voted against and demand action. I see no signs of that happening on this issue.

      • forthurst
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        “Surely the government is there to relfect the will of the people.”

        Not really. The lumpen proletariat are insufficiently trustworthy so they need either to be bounced e.g. in the attack on Iraq in order to dismember it and steal its oil, or groomed into it e.g. when the Tory membership were enticed with the aid of an American psephologist with his bag of tricks supported by the BBC into selecting a Europhile PR specialist, signed up in advance to the phony war on terror whereever it might lead (Libya, Syria, Iran), over a successful and patriotic Englishman because in both cases, that was what those who actually decide these matters wanted.

        “I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories.” Very wise, as so often they can lead seemlessly into thoughtcrime; however sometimes the facts fit the conspiracy theory so much better than the official. oft changing, version of events that they are quite hard to avoid. Senator Paul Wellstone, (“There are so many things going on re 9/11 that just don’t make sense”) died when his plane crashed in 2002.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        There is of course something you and the other rebels could do.
        Leave the conservative party and create your own party with broad conservative policies, of which one could be an immediate departure from the EU.

        You never know, people might vote for that!

        This would plunge Cameron into the mire, as he would either have to gain your support to carry on, or be forced into an election and oblivion.

        This is more likely to get what you and I want – a chance to get out of the EU altogether – than anything else you can do remaining inside the Tory party – who lets not forget don’t agree with you about the EU!!!.

        But no, you would rather remain tied to a corpse of a party that doesn’t agree with you on much, ensuring that the electorate continues to have no opportunity to do anything about our slow but steady loss of centuries of hard won freedom.

        As this goes on, UKIP will benefit and will continue to pick up disenchanted Tories and others. I don’t fancy your party’s chances of holding on to power next time and you never know, you might have some UKIP MPs joining you sooner than you think.

  26. javelin
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I think you have to remember in all of this is that EU is about to be plunged into a very deep recession.

    Once Greece defaults then all the PIIGS are going to want to shave 70% off their debts (even the UK).

    When it becomes acceptable – who wouldnt do it !!! Everybody is going to want to default. Its the fashion init! “It serves the stupid lenders right for not doing their due diligence.” – right ?

    Which voters in their right mind will not want it. After all the pensions have been savaged so who will support the bold holders? reap what you sow and all that. You certainly wont be getting any support from the voters.

    That will lead to massive contraction in the EZ. When everything is lost then the EU will consider anything to survive.

  27. outsider
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    The EU debate would be sharpened if the Labour Party had a coherent policy, rather than just being vaguely “pro-European”, mainly perhaps because most of its leaders still think “eurosceptics” are on the right.
    A few months ago, the Polish foreign minister Mr Sikorski gave a brilliant and rather inspirational pro-Federalist speech in Berlin that was little noticed in the UK, except by your fellow blogger Charles Crawford. In it, he argued:
    ” The more power and legitimacy we give to federal institutions, the more secure
    member states should feel that certain prerogatives, everything to do with national
    identity, culture, religion, lifestyle, public morals, and rates of income, corporate and VAT taxes, should forever remain in the purview of states. Our unity can survive different working hours or different family law in different countries.”
    In other words, the quid pro quo for more Big Europe is a lot less of the annoying Little Europe.
    That would seem an electorally viable policy for Labour to adopt, with some hope of succeess at the EU level. If it did so, the Conservatives would need to present a coherent alternative strategy instead of the current PR blather and we might be permitted to make up our minds rather than having the issues swept under the carpet.

  28. BobE
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    If in 3 years time UKIP becomes a visible minority party it will send a message to the leadership.
    Any party that put an In/Out referendum in its manafesto would get a garanteed landslide. Its either that or watch UKIP grow.

  29. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    65% of voters turned out at the last election and most of those voted tribally and without looking at how their candidate stood on the EU. Tory voters are concerned about other issues seem to assume that the whole party has a degree of Euroscepticism – obviously this is not so.

    • Steven Whitfield
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      I think the majority of the voters would endorse the entirely sensible views of the Redmeister on European matters. But the out of touch, politically correct elite that run the coalition dismiss such views as ‘populist’ . (code for any policy that could help win an election but is too difficult or un PC to implement in practice)

    • APL
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Electro Kevin: “65% of voters turned out at the last election and most of those voted tribally and without looking at how their candidate stood on the EU.”

      The problem is most areas of government are the ‘competency’ of the European Union now. We have arrived at Ken Clarke’s Nirvana where the UK government has no more power than a local authority.

      Hence they debate chocolate oranges. Cede more authority to to the EU and look at ways to entrench their enchanted lifestyles at the expense of unrepresented tax payers.

      This isn’t going to end well!

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    “Many Eurosceptics thought that once a new Treaty proposal came along, all the UK Prime Minister had to do was to table a series of amendments and opt outs for the UK so we could loosen our relationship, as our price for signing up to let the others move forwards to yet more closer union.”

    That was the message sent out by Tory HQ, that there was no longer anything to be done about the Lisbon Treaty but it would be different the next time.

    But when the next time came it didn’t happen, and even then Cameron himself carried on saying that it would happen next time …

    October 24th 2011, Column 36:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111024/debtext/111024-0001.htm

    Mark Reckless:

    “The Prime Minister tells The Daily Telegraph today that we should use any treaty change to shore up the euro to get powers over employment and social policy back, yet on 25 March, he agreed to precisely such a treaty change, but did not ask for anything in return.”

    Cameron:

    “I have to take issue with my hon. Friend … The point I made yesterday and that I will make again today is that I believe that huge changes will take place in the EU and the eurozone. That will give us opportunities to maximise the national interest … “

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Ah the words of a true erm….politician. Say one thing in opposition then keep saying it in power.

      But do the opposite.

  31. William Blakes Ghost
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    There are three rules in politics

    Labour lie
    The Libdems are pointless
    and…..
    NEVER trust the Tories over Europe (particularly Cameron).

    This lousy Coalition and Cameron’s generally weak performance have convinced me that the Conservatives are unworthy of my support . So for the first time in my life I will be voting for withdrawal at the Euros and the next General Election!

    If Parliament won’t represent our views then we better get rid of the morons that frequent that most disturbing of Westminster Freakshows, the House Of Commons….!

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      If Parliament won’t represent our views then we better get rid of the morons that frequent that most disturbing of Westminster Freakshows, the House Of Commons….!

      I wish I had said that – that is exactly what needs to happen and it can only happen without the LiBLabCon.

  32. Derek Emery
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Can the eurozone survive in the longer term with a growth free EU which therefore faces an ever-rising debt scenario? Some economists think it can but others do not. If it does fail then pressure from the UK public will be for an far looser connection than at present. The EU is a big ship but very uncompetitive in world terms so is slowly sinking. It will never be able to compete in growth terms with the rest of the world so has to face becoming increasingly economically insignificant as time goes by.

  33. Steven Whitfield
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    It is not that your views are wrong. I think what most people would like is for you (or someone like you with similar views) to be more vocal, to lead a concerted, high profile campaign to get the government to give us a referendum.

    I think John Redwood does what he can on the referendum issue within the constraints of being a member of the Coalition government although I understand peoples frustration. The problem seems to be that for every John Redwood there are many more Mp’s who’s overriding priority, it seems is to stay ‘on message’ and curry favour with the leadership . There can be precious few Mp’s who bother to write a blog as comprehensively as he does and still find time to answer questions.

    Anyone who is in any doubt as to his commitment to democracy need only watch his commons appearacne speaking on the referendum debate. It was a powerfull heartfelt speech i thought.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7ybR_OesyA

    There is a campaign to get a referendum on the EU. I hope that the Redmeister will consider lending his support to the Peoples Pledge campaign, he would be a great asset to it.

    http://www.peoplespledge.org/about_us/mps_that_have_signed_the_pledge

    (please allow this link Mr Redwood)

  34. Monty
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    John, this reply of yours:

    “Reply: Keen as I am on a referendum, Eurosceptics on this site are wrong to think there is a sudden easy popular answer. After all, UKIP which some fo you think is the answer only gets around 20% of the vote in a PR European election, so that implies pulling out of the EU is not popular.”

    I think is an incorrect conclusion. When we vote in an election, we are seeking the best compromise we can get on a full slate of issues, and we are also trying to both promote our own political allegiance, while defending the country from the worst excesses of our political nemesis. In this constituency, I vote to defeat the labour incumbent, which often means voting for independent candidates. That’s called lying, but I do it just the same.
    A referendum is a very different scenario. You can vote for your choice, without jeopardizing other, unrelated issues. If Labour promised us a referendum, I still could not bring myself to vote for them in an election.
    So there is that. But there is one other aspect. We don’t trust the pledges that are issued by parties anyway, even the party we support. No election pledge is ever given unequivocally, there is always a get-out clause for when the leader decides to renege on his promises. We know that. It’s called lying, but you all do it, just the same.
    Calling a referendum offers considerably less wiggle room. Governments can’t get away with not telling us whether they will be bound by the results, or what the acceptance criteria are. They can’t get away with looking plausible while being dishonest. And we, the voters, can’t get away with feigning innocence, when we get exactly what we voted for, good and hard.

  35. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I think the term “Eurosceptic” has been so abused that it has become meaningless and should no longer be used within serious debate. For some time the term has been so freely used in so many circumstances that the reader/listener is at a loss as to know what point is being made, or if, indeed, to create an impression without making a point at all!

    And now we have a new challenge to comprehension: “come out Eurosceptic” and “moderate eurosceptic”.

    From my dictionary, the most relevant definition of a (Euro)sceptic would be a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of EU accepted beliefs. It is not clear to me how “moderate” and “habitual” can sit together within a coherent meaning.

    Also, “come out” and “eurosceptic” are surely a contradiction in terms. Those who advocate the case for the UK to leave the EU are not “sceptical”; doubt has been superseded by certainty.

    So lets banish “Eurosceptic” from sensible discourse, a term so used and abused as to obscure meaning. Though, of course, that could have become the contemporary object of usage.

  36. Derek Emery
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    The EU is likely to become increasingly unpopular over the next decade as it can only offer GDP growth for Germany. The consensus view from over a dozen experts was that the Eurozone does not have a long term future http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-experts-view-on-the-euros-future-it-doesnt-have-one-6298180.html
    Any breakup will be messy and in several stages and is likely to lead to a loss of belief in the EU elite and in the process of ever increasing integration. This is why the elite fear breakup most of all.
    I doubt the elite understand the importance that the EU public place on economic growth and the loss of confidence that lack of growth will bring.

    • SteveS
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      ‘The only strong note of optimism was sounded by Olli Rehn, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the euro, who predicted the currency would emerge stronger from the crisis. “We are undertaking nothing less than an economic reformation of Europe,” he said. “Step by step, we are creating financial stability and the conditions for sustainable growth and job creation.”

      Sounds more like Comical Olli to me. Total delusional nonsense.

  37. Jon
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    As a eurosceptic the last thing I would want is a referendum when there is just a small majority in favour if that of leaving the EU. I question so called eurosceptics who would lead that charge of the light brigade.

    The more the EU becomes distant, corrupt and barmy the more votes that will accumulate. Throwing a tantrum and bolting too early does not win a war. All it will do is vent frustration, make others think they are mad and loose. Also there is a lot yet to be played out here.

    • Derek Emery
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      It’s very easy for politicians to get whatever answer they want by how they frame the questions. Giving a choicee between a straight in or out will give one answer. Splitting the options and/or careful wording will give other answers. You start by knowing what answer you want (as always in politics) and then design the the question(s) to get that answer. Simples.
      Politicians want to remain in the EU so in the extremely unlikely event of a referendum can be guaranteed to get the ‘stay – in’ verdict they want. If they get it wrong they can always use the EU method of getting the public to vote again until they come up with the “correct” answer.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    My frustrations arise from the fact that the Conservative Party’s Eurosceptics are inventing obstacles that just aren’t there. The key requirement is to win the next General Election, ensuring that the number of pro-European Conservative candidates is minimal. Then you just repeal our membership of the Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon treaties unilaterally. You don’t need to ask permission from the EU and you don’t need a referendum – after all, no referenda were held when those treaties were signed. This will have the huge advantage that, in UK law, the Euro will become a de facto currency rather than a de jure currency. And it will give us carte blanche to organise its destruction, or at the very least to encourage individual Member States to leave it. No matter how much they huffed and puffed, the Franco-German alliance would be powerless to stop us.

  • About John Redwood


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

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