“It’s the EU, stupid”


             Many policy roads lead to the EU. The Treasury blames the Euro crisis in no small measure for disappointment over UK growth. Our dear energy policy is partly fashioned in the EU, with all sorts of requirements placed on the UK to prevent UK industry having low bills like the USA or Asia. The EU controls immigration to the UK from the rest of the EU, now has a chain of EU embassies to flex its  muscles in foreign policy, is moving in on criminal justice matters, and of course regulates and regulates again across wide swathes of industry and services.

           Many writers on this site simply want to leave the EU. The issue they never seem willing to discuss is how this would come about. Either the present UK Parliament has to vote for a referendum on In/Out, and then the public have to vote in sufficient numbers for out, or at some future date the public has to elect a Parliament with a majority government pledged to pull out come what may. Neither of these eventualities looks very likely at the moment.  When I and just over a hundred other MPs voted to give the UK public a referendum, we were voted down by  a huge majority, as Labour, Lib Dem and Coalition Conservatives united against a public vote.  Only if the official Labour position or the official Conservative position shifts is a referendum at all possible.

          The reason I argue for a new relationship with Europe, is that we are closer to building a majority for renegotiation than we are close to the point where public and Parliament are going to demand pull out. The official Conservative position favours renegotiation were the Conservatives to have a majority. Conservative Ministers would make demands for repatriating powers if they were not currently in coalition with Lib Dems. Their backbenchers would push them further.

          Some of you say it is pointless seeking  powers back or seeking a renegotiation, as you think one is impossible. I say, what is there to lose? If the EU is as inflexible as you say, then, surely that will radicalise the UK people.  If we  see no commonsense and no acceptance that we the UK have simply put up with too much power and money grab from Brussels, wont that persuade more people to demand Out and vote for Out? If Brussels gets it, they will offer us substantial powers back, with a view to rescuing a relationship which has gone horribly wrong and is no longer wanted in its current form by  a majority of the UK electorate.

          Some of you ask what have Eurosceptic MPs  achieved by staying in  the Conservative party and fighting from  within? I would say we Conservative Eurosceptics did much of the work to keep the UK out of the Euro, a crucial victory, and have now persuaded Mr Cameron to veto the latest integrationist Treaty. There is much more to do, but UKIP are not in any position to help, because they have no votes in the Commons. It’s votes in the Commons now that are needed to block an increase in the budget, to demand powers back, t0 vote against any further transfer of powers, and to require a referendum.


  1. Brian Taylor
    August 4, 2012

    In the Lisbon treaty, as reported elsewhere,there is talk of article 50,which if I understand it,if this was evoked states that a country wish to leave the EU? Which would trigger negotiations as to what the relationship that country would want with the EU,such as Switzerland or Norway.
    Is this correct?

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 4, 2012

      Article 50 TEU on voluntary withdrawal from the EU starts on page 43 here:


      Article 48 TEU on revision of the treaties starts on page 41.

      There would be no legal obstacle to the UK government invoking Article 48 to propose EU treaty changes that it wanted, including treaty changes that would take powers back from the EU, while holding Article 50 in reserve in case its proposals were unreasonably rebuffed; what is lacking is not a legal route in the EU treaties but political will in the Tory party and therefore the UK government.

  2. lifelogic
    August 4, 2012

    “Some of you say it is pointless seeking powers back or seeking a renegotiation, as you think one is impossible.”

    It certainly is impossible with Cameron’s stance (who says he will never want to come out even before the negotiations) also Clegg and many career politicians, always responding to party not voters and who do not give a dam so long as they are paid well.

    First action sort out the BBC, it will never become sensible with Lord Patten types.

    Of course the treasury will blame the EURO but it Cameron’s government that is failing in so many ways – tax, borrow and waste, green expensive energy and more tax/regulation is rather unlikely to allow much growth.

    1. Disaffected
      August 4, 2012

      Lifelogic, another failing with John’s thoughts is that politicians will tell the truth in plain language and when they make a pledge or manifesto commitment they stick to it. They do not. Right to recall and referendums on serious matters would focus their minds on these points.

      Before the expense scandal broke, none of the 650 MPs had the moral fortitude to stand up and say the system was rotten nor make substantial efforts to bring about change (302 were overpaid or fiddled their expenses many more avoided tax which they now chastise the public for even contemplating). There is no prospect that the current crop of Eurosceptic MPs will have the courage to do or achieve anything. Look at the composition of the cabinet for Eurosceptics, how many of Cameron’s advisers are Eurosceptic? I understand there was an opportunity to revise the Lisbon Treaty in Dec 2010, no changes were made by the UK. How is the Human Rights Commission coming along? Any more resignations? Any chance of a British Bill of Rights as declared by Cameron? Was the European arrest warrant opposed by the Government or did it just swing into motion by itself? Climate Change Act, any MP read it? Or at least think about how it would damage the economy when it is claimed the economy is the number one priority?

      Now for those who have not followed Cameron, he has made so many U turns no right minded person could believe a word he says. Secondly, does anyone know what his position is on anything?

      It appears to me John is getting desperate to convince the public that Eurosceptic Tories actually achieve something. They do not. Circular debates without any achievement. Jam tomorrow if we stay loyal, although the loyalty will not be reciprocated. Vote Tory and you get Labour and the self-proclaimed heir to Blair. Vote for change and out of the EU- vote UKIP.

      1. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012

        Certain Cameron will not be trusted ever again, but we do know where he stands – he is for the EU, every bigger government, happiness indexes, gay marriage, socialism, more regulation everywhere, mad gender neutral insurance laws, silly employment restrictions, promoting people on the basis of their gender/ethnic group regardless of ability, propping up the absurd EURO PIGIS with money borrowed against our children’s future, and devaluing your pensions and pounds with QE.

        In short everything I am against (other than hay marriage) which I cannot see any reasons for not having – they should also have civil contracts for male/female partners – should they prefer it to a marriage. It would be useful for IHT tax planning perhaps.

        1. Disaffected
          August 5, 2012

          I see the Dt is getting up to speed with the dumbing down of university education. It highlights today that Edinburgh will allow a student access to a course if he/she has 3 Bs from a poor school or background while in preference to those who might have 3A*s.

          With Mr Cable intent to help social engineering and a race to the bottom one can only predict how useless university education will become. Mr Cameron claimed he was powerless to act on the employment of Prof Ebdon- this is the PM saying this! And Mr Cameron claims the economy is his number one proirity!

          1. uanime5
            August 5, 2012

            You’d be surprised how difficult it is to get 3 B’s in one of the worst schools in the country. By contrast it’s much easier to get 3 A*’s when you went to the best school money can buy.

            Also universities favour this system because it gives them students who are better at independent learning, rather than students who only get high grades because they’ve been spoon fed everything.

          2. lifelogic
            August 6, 2012

            Some adjustment for potential is justified I feel, it would be interesting to see how 3B kids from poor schools compare with the 3a* from Westminster when they do the finals. Just analyse results and admit on estimated potential.

            My concern is that many can come out of University even with double firsts often in law and humanities or similar and still lack much by way of numeracy, science or even common sense. They are just good at University exams it seems. Dennis Healey for example.

      2. Derek Buxton
        August 5, 2012

        There is one thing that Cameron does believe in, the EU and all it’s works. He will neither attempt to renegotiate, which is not allowed in any case, nor get out, not ever. And he picks his MPs with that in mind.

  3. Freeborn John
    August 4, 2012

    It is only FPTP that prevents UKIP from winning seats in the Commons for now. More than 3 times as many people voted for UKIP in 2010 than voted Green for 1 less seat. Under FPTP with 3% evenly distributed support UKIP don’t win seats but do deny Tories a majority. And that will be even more the case in 2015. I did not trust Cameron on the EU in 2010 and am glad I voted UKIP for the first time. Cameron has been a bigger disapointment than even I expected and I cannot imagine the circumstances in which I would vote Conservative in any election while he is leader. It is you Tories who need To wise up, not we voters, and ask yourself why you have not won a majority since Maastricht and why you are on course to lose again. Why are UKIP at 7% now in the polls? Why has the only significant improvement for Cameron in his ratings been in the 3 months after his EU treaty veto last December? I really think Conservative politicians are not very smart. You have the polling from Lord Ashcroft in which he seems to ignore all these opinion poll facts and recommends doing nothing about the EU. Well that Mr. Redwood is why you losing election after election after election.

    I will be delighted if the Tories lose the 2015 election so heavily that Cameron is forced to step down and be replaced by a real eurosceptic. If Tory MPs want to win in 2015 then you have to replace Cameron in this parliament. He burnt his bridges (and EU negotiating ability) by saying there are no circumstances in which he would campaign to leave the EU and I see no circumstances in which I will vote for him.

    1. Disaffected
      August 4, 2012

      I predict Labour will get back in government by itself, but that is no reason not to vote with your conscience or wishes. The scare of Labour getting back in is no more frightening than Cameron. Spend and waste, more EU, mass immigration continues, more U turns, more Middle East wars, dumb down education and higher education, public service deteriorate at more cost to the taxpayer, ECHR, gay marriage, more equality babble, bigger state, overseas aid increase set in law etc etc.

      No thanks, I will vote UKIP.

    2. Timaction
      August 4, 2012

      The public is waking up to the deliberate lies we have been told by the mainstream parties (Lib/Lab/Con) for over 40 years. Starting with the secret released FCO briefing paper to Edward Heath in 1971 (FCO 30/1048) It spells out clearly how our lying political leaders should present the EEC as a trade only arrangement with no threat to sovereignty/democracy and then by incremental stealth to create a European Superstate over time. This includes brain washing by mass migration to take away feelings of nationality and nationhood. If this was done to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon there would be an international outcry. The fact its been done deliberately by our socialists and continues to be done by the inaction of Cameron’s Calamity Coalition on the English nation is ok? It’s treason of the highest order and whilst our leading politicians, like the EU, may consider us beyond democracy, I don’t. I will not vote for the Conservative Party again until Cameron/Osborne are replaced and we have an unequivical date for an In/Out referendum.
      Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!

      1. uanime5
        August 5, 2012

        Do these secret papers explain why every government for the past 40 years had gone along with this plan and ow they’ve been able to implement it without any problems despite showing ineptitude in every other area of Government?

        1. Boudicca
          August 7, 2012


          They’re not secret any longer. They were released under the 30 year rule and when challenged, Heath admitted that he had deliberately lied about the effect joining the EEC would have. He knew it was intended to morph into a political union but if the British people knew that, we would reject it.

          ALL successive UK governments have followed the advice in this FCO file – which is basically to disguise where legislation is originating from and never to ‘blame’ the EEC/EU for unpopular policies; to deny the people any say in the matter until the ‘project’ is so far established that it is impossible to get out. THAT is what the Lisbon Treachery is about – and the imposition of QMV in over 100 policy areas in Nov 2014.

    3. Andy
      August 4, 2012

      Problem is by voting UKIP all you do is allow the Labour Party in. All your vote for UKIP did at the last election is allow the LibDems into government and just look at the result. What we actually need is for the Conservative Party and UKIP to make peace and fight the common enemy. And we all know where that enemy is !

      1. John Gough
        August 5, 2012

        As a candidate in the 2010 GE for the Conservatives in a marginal seat, I can tell you it was not UKiP that cost my seat. It was a a general anti Tory feelings plus a particular local issue exploited by Labour.

      2. Disaffected
        August 5, 2012

        There is not any difference between Labour and Cameron. What substantial changes has he made? Economy is in a complete mess, EU still taking over the UK, mass immigration, equality babble still be pursued, overseas aid etc etc.

        No fear in Labour getting back in any more as Cameron and Osborn have changed sweet FA.

      3. cosmic
        August 5, 2012

        If I vote for the Conservatives, I’m voting for things I don’t want; further EU integration, further immigration, distortion of the economy in the service if climate change, further tax and spend, more half-baked social engineering, albeit with some dishonest patter to hint that they are not like that.

        If you vote for the version of things you don’t want which pretends to be slightly different to the more honest version (Labour), don’t be surprised when you get things you don’t want and don’t expect to see much difference between the two.

    4. lifelogic
      August 4, 2012

      It is indeed “only FPTP that prevents UKIP from winning seats in the Commons” that and political inertia that makes some “always have always will voters” continue in this mode. But first past the post is what pertains.

      I tend to think Cameron will stand down and a new leader (Boris perhaps) will issue a new cast iron promise on the EU – Would any believe it I wonder.

  4. iain gill
    August 4, 2012

    Dont forget the eu/india trade agreement nonsense which is all pop sided and forces the uk to print ever more work visas to indian nationals

    1. uanime5
      August 4, 2012

      Given how many ICT companies in the UK want more Indian nationals I suspect more visas will be created even if EU/India trade agreement collapses.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    August 4, 2012

    JR: “It’s votes in the Commons now that are needed to block an increase in the budget, to demand powers back, t0 vote against any further transfer of powers, and to require a referendum.”

    Just when have any of that list been achieved by votes in the Commons? I cannot think of one example. I don’t agree either with your assertion that “if Brussels gets it, they will offer us substantial powers back”. They don’t “get it” nor do they have any such desire. They want “more Europe” haven’t you been listening? Any attempt at renegotiation, if it ever took place which I also doubt, would be a cynical charade connived at by the three main parties. It would be followed either by a declaration of success or a referendum which would offer either acceptance of the “new improved” deal or the status quo – not a vote to leave. Your party leader has made his position clear – no In/Out referendum as he doesn’t think leaving the EU is in the interests of EU. A statement which clearly illustrates the consummate EU politician – anti-democratic dictat from the centre.
    The hypocrisy of your party’s leaders, who daily tell us of their concern about the lack of democracy in Syria and other countries around the world, whilst actively abandoning democracy in this country to EU rule, adds further insult to the people of the UK.
    I feel that rather weakening the UKIP case you strenghten it. Clearly, we must vote for MPs who want to leave the EU and not for parties who are happy for us to be subservient to their masters in Brussels.

  6. Mike Stallard
    August 4, 2012

    This is a very honest and frank article, so it is much appreciated. Thank you.

    You are right. At the moment, just walking out is impossible when all three parties are more or less in favour of staying in even under the present conditions. They consider that they represent the whole country and that that is what they were elected to do. They must be correct (but certainly not right).

    The whole idea of politics is to talk about things and come to agreements. So it seems to be common sense for elected politicians to deal with the EU by civilised discussion and re-negotiation.

    BUT the EU Commissioners are not interested in what we think. They are going to go on in the same direction whatever we say or do. Look at the way the Germans are being treated. The ECB was under EU guarantees when it was set up. Those guarantees are now being torn up. Remember Mr Blair and Mr Major’s Red Lines? Or Mrs Thatcher’s rebate?

    We are one of 27. We hold some high cards in the Berlaymont administration, but lower down we are terribly thin on the ground. We have, possibly, a couple of allies. Our EU MEPs sit in a party which is in a tiny and ridiculed minority. When UKIP members speak, Mr von Rumpuy sits there reading the newspaper. Mr Hofstadter stands up with another anti-British rant and everyone cheers him to the rooftops.

    The real danger must be that by going along with realpolitik both in the EU hemicircle and Council of Ministers and in the national parliament, we are actually dividing the right into UKIP, Tories and Conservatives. That way we leave the door wide open to a Labour-Liberal alliance which will cause the total bankruptcy of the country.

    Oh dear! Have a good week-end.

    1. uanime5
      August 4, 2012

      Each of the 27 EU Commissioners is appointed by the leader of an EU country. So if the UK’s Commissioner isn’t interested in what we think we have to ask why did Cameron appoint them.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2012

        It be quite wrong if the Commissioner nominated by the UK government paid any more attention to what we thought than to what the peoples in other EU member states thought. A Commissioner is there to serve the EU as a whole, not his home country, and takes an oath to that effect; there is no legitimate sense in which a Commissioner who happens to come from by the UK can be regarded as being “the UK’s Commissioner”.

    2. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      Unfortunately, a total bankruptcy is just as likely under the Coalition government…. Not very likely as they will just print to monetise the debt. It will make little difference as it is clear that the EU will not change its aims. If it wants to keep the Euro it will have to print and monetise the debt. It is happening in the USA and UK, and will have to happen in Europe. All will be clear after the German Constitutional Court in September. It seems clear which way that decision will go now…..


  7. Brian Tomkinson
    August 4, 2012

    Sorry for error in the sentence “Your party leader has made his position clear – no In/Out referendum as he doesn’t think leaving the EU is in the interests of EU.” The final “EU” should of course be “UK”, although no doubt Cameron thinks both are applicable.

    1. Boudicca
      August 7, 2012

      I thought you got it right the first time.

      The UK leaving the EU is not in the interests of the EU.

      1. Russ
        August 7, 2012

        Spot on.

  8. Anthony Harrison
    August 4, 2012

    It’s votes in the Commons now that are needed to block an increase in the budget, to demand powers back, t0 vote against any further transfer of powers, and to require a referendum.
    You ask us, Mr Redwood, to accept that there is little prospect either of a national referendum on leaving the EU, or of UKIP making significant progress. I ask you in turn what the chances are of increasing significantly those “votes in the Commons” for renegotiation.
    You know as well as anyone that this has lasted decades, that to many of us our situation within the EU is becoming ever more onerous and less tenable, that the longer we remain the greater the erosion of our sovereignty and the less likely we can break away; you acknowledge that your bid for a referendum was “voted down hugely” by the mass of MPs.
    So from where is this Parliamentary impetus for renegotiation coming? What are its prospects? Surely you cannot simply be urging us to forget about UKIP and vote Tory next time? I mean, look where that’s got us in the past, and recognise that it is anathema for many of us to give your Party’s leadership any sort of encouragement whatsoever. A vote for the Conservatives is simply an endorsement of Mr Cameron’s avowed intention to keep us in the EU. I personally could not possibly vote for Cameron’s Party.
    Of course, events might overtake the chronic procrastination and ineffectuality of the Conservative Party: the EU might implode anyway, showering us with rather more shrapnel than might be the case if we were mature enough to be proactive and just leave asap…

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      John, Cameron shot his bolt in 2010…..and blew it when he could have achieved something close to what you want to do if he had tried to beat Brown and stuck to a more Eurosceptic line AND had promised (I know he used weasel words on Lisbon) a referendum on Europe…..

      The fact that Cameron could not beat Brown in those circumstances is enough for any sane person to reconsider ever voting for Cameron…..

      People are now prepared to no longer trust the Tories and will vote for what they think is right for the country, as they see that it makes no visible difference. Be prepared for a very big shock in 2015 if you keep Cameron.


  9. Colin D.
    August 4, 2012

    “UKIP are not in any position to help”.
    True, UKIP have no MPs. But the onward march of UKIP and the growing defections of councillors will encourage those dithering MPs, who are sitting the fence, to opt for the more radical approach to the EU problem.
    By that means, UKIP most certainly IS in a position to help.

  10. Phillip Youle
    August 4, 2012

    Personally i would have thought the renegotiation stance was somewhat naive, for whatever powers you do claw back will just be handed back to the E.U. when the next Labour Government comes in. A bit like they did with the rebate John, or had you forgotten that?

  11. Martin Cole
    August 4, 2012

    I believe that looking to the institutions that have delivered us into the EU, to now remove us, given that THEY have thus gained POWER and WEALTH from complete and non-democratically removable absolute power over 27 once democratic and former independent states, verges well towards the wishful thinking.

    Self-congratulation on our nation not having joined the Euro, (one small part of the giant conspiracy whose collapse is now driving us towards economic wipeout, while having no say in the direction of travel – but an almost full share of the consequential heavy costs), is similarly misplaced.

    The EU is divided between those with the power, mostly unknown individuals and multinational corporations, hiding behind their placemen in the EU institutions, and those who are paying the bills in the EU Regions which control the much reduced expenditure which is fed back via EU approved projects in the areas we all live, via EU Committees whose members also remain largely unknown and also operate in secret. A real absolute tyranny at work!

    The protests presently underway in the origional and historic people’s regions of Spain bear watching, perhaps becoming a blueprint as to how we may remove this horror from our own lives. There in Spain, it is becoming a battle between those who in reality hold the purse strings on the remaining real proceeds of production against the treacherous national elected politicians who have betrayed the trust of their electorates with integrity of their national currencies together with that of their central banks and indeed individual freedom itself.

    The post you put up here this morning makes it very clear that we would be mad to expect our own elected MPs to do anything helpful in removing this monstrosity from our lives. Where I do agree with you is that elected UKIP MPs in Westminster would prove equally pathetic in achieving that end, they would merely also have a seat on another gravy train, just as happened with their MEPs.

    1. uanime5
      August 4, 2012

      The UK is divided between those with the power, mostly unknown individuals and multinational corporations, hiding behind their placemen in the UK institutions, and those who are paying the bills in the UK Counties which control the much reduced expenditure which is fed back via UK approved projects in the areas we all live, via UK Quangos whose members also remain largely unknown and also operate in secret. A real absolute tyranny at work!

      No all problems in the UK come from the EU.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        August 7, 2012

        How about doing something really revolutionary, such as keeping taxes as low as possible, government as small as possible at as low a level as possible, and not bailing out failed companies?

  12. Old Albion
    August 4, 2012

    John, i do not usually set myself up as a ‘voice of the people’ On this occasion i think i can. The people want out.
    If the Lib/Lab/Con won’t give us an in/out vote. Some of us will vote for other parties. This may happen in such large numbers at the next Genetral election that coalition will be the only way a government can be formed (again) Or quite possibly it will let Labour in, is that what you wish?
    Seeking repatriation of powers is a nonsense. You know it, we know it. Every treaty signed by UK governments, locked us deeper into the EU stranglehold. Those at the top of the EU will never allow a single power to be repatriated.
    Equally i have no doubt if this policy is adopted by the Conservatives or indeed any party. All sorts of claims about successful repatriation of power would be made. Not one of them would be true.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      Indeed, this is correct. The EU has no intention of coutenancing any country exiting the EU. It assimilates all it touches….Men are more easily governed by appealing to their vices rather than their virtues……


  13. Kevin R. Lohse
    August 4, 2012

    It is somewhat ironic that while conservative resistance to the Euro centred around a principled argument, Labour’s resistance to the Euro centred round one man’s hatred of his Party Leader. That’s politics, I suppose.

  14. JimF
    August 4, 2012

    I tend to the opinion that until something transparently detrimental happens to the UK there will be no call for a referendum by the three main parties. After that, the rules of the game will change anyway, rather than just the UK’s part in it. You might subsequently claim this as a victory for the common sense of your position, but it won’t be. It will be a victory for the markets over politics in this Country.

    Can’t you see how badly you’ve already been let down by the leadership of both Libdems and Tories, both of which have promised a referendum? Is this really likely to change on the back of a failed re-negotiation? I think you are putting far too much faith in the ability and willingness of your leadership here.

    Meantime we continue wasting time and money in the present arm-lock. The only valid position for many of your contributors is to support the UKIP position of an immediate in-out referendum, rather than the “wait and see, something might just turn up” or “let’s renegotiate, then see what happens” present position of the Eurosceptic Conservatives, which you echo above.

  15. A.Sedgwick
    August 4, 2012

    I think most contributors acknowledge your position and reasoning but many of us think that the chances of the collective EU offering us a light membership that takes us out of all the contentious and costly programmes are nil.

    The “Eurosceptic” Conservative MPs by not forcing an in/out referendum are compliant in the end of the Conservative Party as it has been known since 1945. If the Libdems renege on the boundary changes(this alone should in a sane world end the Coalition)then Labour will win with a serious majority in 2015 or earlier, with Libdems seats much reduced and UKIP probably costing the Cameron Party 50 seats. In this eventuality it is doubtful Labour will consider an in/out in their manifesto. If the boundary changes go through the election result will be closer and Labour may well do so especially if UKIP become the major Party in the European Elections in 2014. This again would signal a serious majority for Labour.

    The Conservative Party under Cameron can only win in 2015 with an in/out referendum.

    Reply; Eurosceptic backbench MPs did vote for a referendum! There still are not enough of us.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      Reply to reply: Indeed, and that is a Conservative Party issue….. Your party is not Eurosceptic if the most it can muster is only 100 out of 300+ ‘Conservative’ MPs. You need to be rid of Cameron and his acolytes if you are to gain any credibility, or indeed win a vote in Parliament.


      1. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012

        Indeed, but they are, alas, the only residual hope – albeit a very weak one.

  16. David Whitley
    August 4, 2012

    Mr Redwood, “What have we got to lose?” you say about a renegotiation. Here are some thoughts:

    1. Delay. It will take years I believe. As every day goes by our chances of extrication from the EU lessen and our competitiveness worsens.

    2. Complication. Giving politicians and officials the task of renegotiating will play into their hands. It will take ages and the average person will have no idea what the results are. Can we really trust our politicians to do the right thing? I say not.

    3. EU intransigence. Why will they play ball when there is nothing in it for them? On every issue they have shown that they cannot be trusted, will bend the rules to suit them and will simply refuse to accept results.

    1. Mark B
      August 6, 2012

      3. EU intransigence. Why will they play ball when there is nothing in it for them? On every issue they have shown that they cannot be trusted, will bend the rules to suit them and will simply refuse to accept results.

      David, I think you maybe aware that, in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty it gives a ‘maximum’ of 2 years to negotiate an exit from the E.U. Even if we agree to nothing we can still walk free.

      We can of course ask for an extension if we so wish, and may even be able to exit sooner than 2 years if we get our skates on.

  17. Alan Wheatley
    August 4, 2012

    It is indeed the EU, and several, interrelated themes are address in this blog. The place to start is with the principle: should the UK be in the EU.

    The EU is not something that can be judged by weighing up the practical advantages and disadvantages. For one thing the elements have changed and continue to change. For another quantising the elements is next to impossible to any meaningful extent. But the “European Project” has never been about material benefits, it has been about ideals.

    A good example is the current Greek Euro crisis. There would never have been a Greek Euro crisis if monetary union had been conducted on sound financial principles for Greece would never have been a member. But monetary union was never just about money, it was merely a lever of political union; and so politicians swept aside the concerns that were raised and made sure Greece did become a member because that was seen as an important part of the drive towards the political ideal.

    So the basic question for the UK is whether or not we embrace the european ideal. If we do them we should get on with it. If we do not then we should get out and pursue our own course.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      August 7, 2012

      The Euro crisis is not confined to Greece. Germany simply does not have the resources to bail everybody out and observers are beginning to recognise it. The proposals now coming out of the ECB and Club Med involve turning the Euro into a soft currency through various devices to print money or issues lots of bonds of dubious value. Even so, Germany still loses and the German electorate knows it. Angela Merkal is under international pressure to commit political suicide.

  18. alan jutson
    August 4, 2012

    I agree with what you say.

    What I do not understand is how the majority of MP’scan believe the present situation is best for the UK, and thus will do absolutely nothing about it.

    Try renegotiation if you like, but let us be serious about it.

    Unfortunately Cameron has already said he will never pull out, so your chances of getting anything out of renegotiation are already doomed to failure.

    1. Disaffected
      August 4, 2012

      Not doomed to failure, it will not be allowed to happen. Cameron will never pull out. Think about Europhile advisers around him who have spent a lifetime to make their fanatical EU dream happen irrespective of the public’s wishes.

      Labour will get back in but that is no reason not to vote with your conscience or wishes. The scare of Labour getting back in is no more frightening than Cameron.

  19. WitteringsfromWitney
    August 4, 2012

    How, exactly, would you propose to renegotiate our membership of the EU? Where, in the Lisbon Treaty, is there any article that allows for renegotiating?

    You know, as well as I, that a power once ceded to the EU is never returned – if the EU allowed just one power returned to one country there would be a queue of other countries wanting the same.

    There is only one way that renegotiation of our membership can be accomplished and that is through Article 50 wherein we give notice to leave and negotiate a free trade agreement either through EFTA or by means of bi-lateral agreements as has Switzerland.

    It is of course not the HoC that should decide anything, but the people and to withhold that right of the people is no better behaviour than that of a dictator. As for a majority of MPs deciding matters – while the present system exists wherein there are MPs more concerned with personal advancement up the greasy pole – it will never happen.

    In fact, in my opinion, the entire system of representative democracy and politics in this country stinks and both require radical overhaul.

    Just say8ing…….

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 4, 2012

      This may well be a correct analysis in political terms, but not in legal terms.

      Article 48 TEU on the revision of the treaties, starting on page 41 here:


      states that under the ordinary revision procedure:

      “The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaties. These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.”

      Therefore the legal possibility of negotiating treaty changes to take powers back from the EU is expressly admitted in that article.

      1. WitteringsfromWitney
        August 5, 2012

        That may be so Denis, but when has the EU returned just one comma of a competence? Does not the Preamble of the TFEU not state “determined to lay the foundations for an ever closer union…..”? So why would the EU agree to something which goes against that stated aim?

        Article 48 is, in my oinion, a sop to giving an appearance of democracy in something which most definitely is not. Yes, we can ask to change the rules, but you and I both know that that won’t happen, so why waste time with Article 48?

        Also, being a pedant, where does it state in Article 48 that renegotiation can be requested specifically to “take powers back”? The words “take powers back” are not ‘expressly’ used.

        Just saying………

        1. Denis Cooper
          August 5, 2012

          I think one could ask a couple of other questions: –

          1. When has the UK government actively proposed treaty changes?

          2. If it has actively proposed treaty changes in the past, have any of its proposals for treaty change ever gone against the grain of “ever closer union”?

          The role of the UK government with regard to EEC/EC/EU treaty changes seems to have been above all reactive, always waiting for other countries to make their proposals, not proactive.

          Even when Wilson claimed to have significantly improved our terms of EEC membership before the 1975 referendum none of his claimed improvements actually required any treaty change.

          Until we have a UK government which is prepared to invoke Article 48 TEU to propose EU treaty changes in our national interests but against the process of “ever closer union”we don’t know what would happen if it tried to do that.

          1. WitteringsfromWitney
            August 5, 2012

            Come, come, Denis -methinks you are attempting to ‘muddy the waters’ a tad.

            Can we deal with my original points before we start considering ‘other questions’? You made some statements which were factually incorrect, which I queried and I believe it only right that you justify those first.

            Without also being accused of muddying the waters, I note our host has yet to intercede in our discussion – I wonder why?

  20. APL
    August 4, 2012

    JR: “The issue they never seem willing to discuss is how this would come about.”

    Clearly we are willing to discuss this issue. It’s just that we approach it from different perspectives.

    You a loyal Tory apparactchnik. You have been promising to change the Tory party from within for the last twenty years: No sign of that happening yet!

    Us, disillusioned ex Tories. Who have seen umpteen promises made before an election and broken immediately afterward, we are to say the least disillusioned and bitter.

    Give us the change you have been promising, and we might take you seriously. Otherwise you are the provisional wing of the Tory party, but with out any weapons.

  21. John R W Marchant
    August 4, 2012

    Hi John,

    Good piece overall. However renegotiation is not going to happen when we are in a position of weakness. We are in this position because we have a coalition government which sends out mixed messages to us and to the EU.

    Look at the brinkmanship happening now in the EU over the Euro. Its a who blinks first mentality but playing around with billions of Euro’s of people’s hard earned taxes.

    The only way to negitiate with the EU is from a position of strength, to use a crude expression “with a knife to their throats”. We need to find that knife and use it.

    The current crisis with the Euro whilst extremly damaging for everyone,not just members of the Eurozone, has highlighted the abject failure of the whole EU project. All the presidents and commisionaires at the very least should fall on their swords if they had any honour which they dont.

    UKIP can offer allot of help actually, you are bleeding center right voters, councillors by the day. At the very least UKIP are a threat to the Conservative Party and needs to be addressed.

    Personally i think Cameron needs to go. He has played his cards to early, or blinked if you will, so the EU will not believe anything or any threat he uses.

    Regards John

  22. Single Acts
    August 4, 2012

    In a sense British people opposed to the EU are a bit like French people opposed to German occupation in 1942.

    Some took the Vichy route and tried to talk with the occupiers, some flatly opposed it and tried to get themselves out, (others still were active collaborators of course). Of course in 1942, the resistance could not defeat the Wehrmacht; to continue the analogy the EU is approaching its financial Stalingrad and its getting weaker and more desperate. But just like the Wehrmacht, it may take time now, but the EU will implode.

    Each of us must now ask themselves is it better to side with Laval type figures in the conservative party who still want to talk to the beast, or with the forces of De Gaulle who know that no negotiation is possible with these people and indepence is the only real choice for freedom ~ for there will be none from the EU.

    (For the avoidance of doubt, of course I do not advocate violent resistance, the metaphor only goes so far)

  23. Stephen Almond
    August 4, 2012

    “Some of you say it is pointless seeking powers back or seeking a renegotiation, as you think one is impossible. I say, what is there to lose?”

    Here’s the problem. Cameron/Milliband/Whoever will return from a ‘summit’ proclaiming they have got yet another great deal for the UK. I’ve been hearing it most of my life as powers are given away.
    How is the CAP reform coming along?

  24. Alan Wheatley
    August 4, 2012

    The Third Way – renegotiation.

    If IN is unpalatable and OUT is too scary, then is there a third way? There has oft been talk of “fast and slow” and “inner and outer” forms of the EU, so could there be a version of the EU that the UK could embrace and would it be a practical proposition?

    The fast/slow analogy never made any sense because “slow” simply meant being dragged kicking and screaming in a direction one did not wish to travel ever fearful of the eventual, inevitable destination.

    The inner/outer analogy is much more difficult to assess because it all depends on what is “inner” and what is “outer”, and the interrelationship between them. I suppose it is theoretically possible to create a type of EU in which the UK is “in” for some aspects and “out” for others. However, what is “in” and what is “out” is like the length of the piece of string – you can make it what you want with no inherently right answer. The whole things lends itself to being a process where the objective is not to reach some worthwhile objective but to show that something is being done. The end result, any end result, can be sold as a success simply because it is the end and by which time people have forgotten where the start was and why we were bothering, there having been so many twists and turns and changes of personnel and ideas along the way.

    But in any event you have to suspect that any such approach is merely yet another attempt to find a form of words that give the superficial appearance of agreement while hiding the underlying reality; nothing has fundamentally changed.

    There is also the fundamental question of whether a pick-and-mix EU could possible work, even with all the best endeavours of all the participants. And why would the enthusiasts of the EU want to try when to succeed would be to undermine the very ideal they were dedicated to achieving?

    And if club rules have to be changed so much as to accommodate a wide range of ideas, objectives, aspirations and concepts, one has to wonder what it is that makes it worthwhile for such a disparate group to want to belong to the same club in the first place. Likely there will never be a coherent strategy and the club will degenerate into in-fighting and inevitable disintegration.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 4, 2012

      In 1975 I unwittingly voted for the UK to remain a party to a treaty which commits us to a relentless process of “ever closer union” designed to lead to the extinction of the participating countries as independent sovereign states.

      Knowing better now I would never support any such treaty, so while that solemn commitment remains in the preamble to the treaties I could never vote to stay in the present EU whatever else may be changed in the treaties.

      However my attitude is no excuse for the government to refuse to even attempt to get the treaties changed in our national interests.

  25. oldtimer
    August 4, 2012

    I think your position is clear and well argued. In particular your case for doing things in a particular sequence is, I believe, the only practical way forward at present.

    What could go wrong? What could change the political landscape either here or in the EU to change things?

    On one side the lemming like rush to the cliff edge in Greece, because a majority of people there want to retain the euro, is testament to the power of the idea of the euro and the EU. The second of these ideas, remaining a member of the EU, would probably be strong in any UK referendum. That is a powerful reason for seeking renegotiation first.

    On the other side, a strong vote for UKIP in next years European election would send a strong signal about the public mood to the Westminster political class. I expect this to occur.

    The third potential element is upheaval in one or more of the three main political parties. The Conservative party seems to be a leading candidate for this, not necessarily driven by EU issues, but as a consequence of continued stagnation or decline of the economy.

    A fourth potential element is upheaval in the EZ. Possible triggers could be Greek exit from the EZ with its potential domino effect on other EZ members, or Germany with others (Netherlands and Finland?) finally and unequivocally saying enough is enough. It might require the political downfall of Merkel for that to happen. So far she has succeeded in winning votes in the Bundestag. Will she continue to win them in the country? I have no idea. But alarm bells are definitely ringing in the German media.

    All this, and the observation that all EZ politicians are able or willing to do is kick the EZ can down the road, suggests that they are waiting for the final crisis to be market driven – so that the politicians can blame the “bankers” (Denis Healey owns the copyright on “the gnomes of Zurich”). All this suggests to me that events will take over the timetable and provide the opportunity you seek.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      I suspect that it will be economics/market turmoil which will provide the final blow…..and it will have to be big enough to provide an overall political concensus that membership of the EU is not in the UK’s interests.


  26. mick
    August 4, 2012

    sorry john you are wrong on this, you and many others should defect to UKIP that is the only way you will get big dave to sit up and listen, yes maybe you have stop us getting into the euro but the rest of the time its just huffing and puffing with no real substance the people of this once great country have had a belly full of the EU you and others just dont see it

  27. Paul Danon
    August 4, 2012

    It’s less that repatriation of powers is futile, more that it’s impossible. The acquis and the treaties only allow temporary opt-outs, not reverse-ferrets. Integration is a ratchet, ever-closer union a one-way street. This is why euro-exit is impossible without EU-exit. The revived Wilsonian platform of renegotiation is a dangerous distraction and a sorry myth. We stay in and integrate further or we leave. There’s no such thing as stasis or limited retreat. Please will Conservatives stop peddling this non-existent option.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      Dennis will say that Article 48 (theoretically) allows the idea of a principle of renegotiation of competences……I suspect that this provision is a fig leaf in practice.


      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2012

        Well, if it had the political will to do so the UK government could find out whether or not it’s a figleaf, and if so what’s underneath it …

  28. waramess
    August 4, 2012

    Far too much thinking about the art of the possible, which is no more than backing away from the issue, and far too little confrontation. Look at what the socialists achieve with confrontation. You rarely see them seeking the art of the possible.

    Faint heart never won…well you know.

    Almost nothing has been achieved by the Tory backbenchers opposed to the EU. Was it not one Gordon Brown who kept us out of the Euro?

    For my part I would prefer my MP to stick to his guns and fight for what he believed in rather than for “the possible”, which is almost always a horrible compromise that benefits nobody in the end.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      John, you only live once! Go for it!


  29. Alan Wheatley
    August 4, 2012

    The art of the possible, or politics as it is sometimes called!

    If parliamentary decisions are at odds with electorate wishes, then something will happen.

    (1) elected representative align themselves with the electorate;

    (2) those elected representatives who wont are replaced by those who will;

    (3) emigration;

    (4) riots.

    Of course, there could be an honest debate where the winning argument is accepted by all. But is that possible?

  30. Duyfken
    August 4, 2012

    No way. Not on your Nellie. The Conservative government is unfit for the task you suggest – it would not succeed even were it to attempt those measures, and any progress in that direction would be half-hearted and aimed purely at trying to woo voters rather than acting from principle.

    Your intentions are good, but unrealistic with this present mob. My vote has long since been lost by the Tories and it is unlikely to be regained, so badly has the Cameron cabal misrepresented us.

  31. Manof Kent
    August 4, 2012

    If boundary changes can be secured for the 2015 election there will be a number of seats up for grabs.

    Let’s push for open primaries and question candidates on their views on the EU and AGW.

    I’m thinking about a possible new Weald constituency here,which apparently a number of sitting MPs are keen to represent.

    The only way to beat the party machine is to elect MPs with independence of thought who owe primary allegiance to their electors and not the whips on these issues.This is the type of MP making up our present band of patriots [ rebels].

    If the Lib Dems scupper the boundary changes then still question sitting and prospective MPs at the election to make them appreciate where their support lies.

  32. Leslie Singleton
    August 4, 2012

    Nothing personal, but our Government is clearly useless in this matter. How can it be that “a relationship which has gone horribly wrong and is no longer wanted in its current form by a majority of the UK electorate” (I assume that given you said it this is true) is nevetheless supported by all three major parties? We just have to hope and pray that the the Euro collapses or countries leave, or both, followed by UKIP successes. Say what you like but it is the case that an enormous number of people, unfortunately persuaded by the “useless vote” argument, are potential UKIP voters–it just needs an event (Dear Boy) to break the dam(n). It is also possible that another Jimmy Goldsmith might come along and organise a private referendum. How many people ante-ing up say fifty quid each would it take to do that?

  33. Atlas
    August 4, 2012

    As usual – sagely put.

    If we assume UKIP will not make a breakthrough in the next UK elections (the European Parliament elections are a different matter!), then will it take a change of Conservative leadership to bring words into action?

    I find Boris more and more ‘the Future’, with Cameron and especially Osborne aply described as ‘You were the future once’.

    Interestingly my wife thinks that Boris is trustworthy whilst having gone off Cameron (moreover utterly so with Osborne). She says it is no more than feminine intuition in action – and thinks she is not the only woman by a long way with that analysis. Doesn’t sound good for Cameron and hence the Conservative Party’s chances of a majority.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      ‘She says it is no more than feminine intuition in action’…..bearing in mind that the subject is Mr Johnson, I could be sorely tempted to comment, but will hold my counsel….


  34. Jerry
    August 4, 2012

    I will try and be brief.

    The official Conservative position favours renegotiation were the Conservatives to have a majority.

    As it happens, that is a position I have some sympathy for and I suspect that many who are prepared to -and in some cases, hold their noses whilst doing so- vote UKIP do likewise, but nothing substantive has ever come from it. The problem is that this idea has been around for over 30 years now, yet the EU marches on into an ever closer political union, yes Thatcher got a rebate but even in her time we moved ever closer with the signing and ratification of the Single European Act (and then the later signing and ratification of the Maastricht Treaty under Major). If the principles that underpin the thinking of the hard-line Eurocrats can’t be changed even at a time when the UK had some real punch within the EU then what hope now – how much pressure do these reforming groups really have, and I suspect their effective block voting power will only get less due to the changes that are going to happen. The best they can hope for, and this is were people like Mr Farage and Mr Hannan score, is to publicise just how absurd and undemocratic the EU parliament really is.

    Conservative Ministers would make demands for repatriating powers if they were not currently in coalition with Lib Dems. Their backbenchers would push them further.

    Not sure what you are saying here John, sounds like the Tories are worried that any referendum will return a “Stay In ” result and the LibDems are worried that any referendum would return a “Get us Out” result. Mr Cameron has no authority to act either way from what I can see, repatriating powers attracts the wroth of the LibDems (and Labour on the other side of the floor), actively seeking solutions within the EU framework attracts the wroth of Cameron’s own party.

    Some of you say it is pointless seeking powers back or seeking a renegotiation, as you think one is impossible. I say, what is there to lose? If the EU is as inflexible as you say, then, surely that will radicalise the UK people. If we see no common sense and no acceptance that we the UK have simply put up with too much power and money grab from Brussels, wont that persuade more people to demand Out and vote for Out?

    Yes, and how will these radicalised people ask for such a referendum, vote UKIP, after all and as you have pointed out, until it is official Tory policy… Thus the vote gets split even further with every likely hood of pro EU parties being in the majority in Westminster and thus forming a coalition, thus the Eurocrats will have achieved their goal by “Divide and Rule”, the Eurocrats will then march on and on until we are all marching under the one and only national flag and playing the national anthem of the USofE.

    There is much more to do, but UKIP are not in any position to help, because they have no votes in the Commons.

    Except that they DO have seats in the EU parliament, were these EU budgets and transfer of powers are voted on first. If, as you have implied, such measures are voted down or amended within the EU bureaucracy they might not even reach the floor of the Commons… The only vote were UKIP can’t help, bar lobbying, is the one that has to happen in the Commons so that a UK wide referendum can be held.

    The question has to be put before 2015, otherwise such a question has to be official Tory policy and mentioned in the next manifesto – I don’t see either happening, at least under Mr Cameron’s watch.

  35. j goodchild
    August 4, 2012

    that is like getting a divorce and then living with your spouse.
    It wont work
    we need a complete break then renogotiate our trading agreements. we import far more from the eu than they import from us so they are not likely to want to loose that buisness. if as you say most mps do not want a referendum i wish they would explain why! and if they wont listen to their electors than they dont deserve.to be realected.
    I have voted conservatice for 30years and all of family. We have worked hard for the party door knocking,fundraising etc. we will all vote UKIP next time without a doubt.
    The tories will loose the next election over the eu i then urge you.and other like minded mps to join UKIP and form a new party that will represent the true feelings of the majority of people in this country and not just the metropolitan elite

    1. Jerry
      August 4, 2012

      I have voted conservatice for 30years and all of family. We have worked hard for the party door knocking,fundraising etc. we will all vote UKIP next time without a doubt.
      The tories will loose the next election over the eu i then urge you.and other like minded mps to join UKIP and form a new party that will represent the true feelings of the majority of people in this country and not just the metropolitan elite

      This is what scares me, it will be a miracle in such an instance that the Tories will be in any position to demand terms of a coalition. I strongly suspect that the divided Tory/Euro-sceptic vote will simply allow a clear win for the Labour party (not that a Labour government would be the issue, as bad as it might be for those who believe in small-state and free enterprise, the disaster is that Mr Blair and his cohorts so effectively cleansed the Labour party of any real power base from which the left-wing/Euro-sceptics could campaign within the party for an EU exit. In fact, then, the Euro-sceptics likely only hope could well be the ties Labour has to the unions, should there be a two or three large unions that start turning a Euro-sceptic funding thumb-screw.

      1. zorro
        August 4, 2012

        Blame Cameron…..


  36. Chris Rose
    August 4, 2012

    I have been critical of the proposal to renegotiate our terms of membership, as I think the EU will not play ball with us, and will use every trick to delay and ignore the process. But, if you and your fellow MPs think you can pull off a worthwhile renegotiation, good luck. If you are successful, I shall be delighted.

    We certainly want to have a close relationship with our neighbours; we have much reason to work closely with them, but I should like to see our trade based on the principle of free trade, not the Single Market.

  37. Mactheknife
    August 4, 2012


    I keep hearing about “renegotiating the relationship” but when is it going to happen ? All we see and hear is more and more regulations and laws introduced from the EU.

    I’m not one to push for an in/out referendum, but the case becomes more compelling the longer the government defer any action to repatriate powers.

    At the election we were told that the European Human Rights legislation would be replaced by a British Bill of Rights, but we are over 2 years down the line and NOTHING !!!

    The government had a chance to correct a ridiculous energy policy, but they have done little or nothing to reduce carbon reduction targets which we have unilaterally imposed on top of European targets.

    I challenge you to give us one example where we have renegotiated any policy ?

  38. norman
    August 4, 2012

    How do votes in the Commons come about? By MPs being elected.

    How do MPs become elected? Getting more votes than the other candidates.

    A vote for UKIP is not wasted. Let’s keep pushing the Conservative out of the centre and in to the right by voting UKIP. Does anyone think the prospect of losing 1 million votes+ doesn’t worry Osborne? OK, bad choice of words. Does anyone think the prospect of losing 1 million votes+ doesn’t worry Conservaitves with any strategical nous and a vision that extends past what’s for dinner?

    Vote however you want and I know where mine is going.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 4, 2012

      “How do MPs become elected?”

      Unfortunately, the answer is: first and foremost, by getting pre-selected and then finally selected as an official candidate for one of the main parties.

      In England, that means just the usual three pro-EU main parties; in Scotland add on the SNP as a main party, and similarly there are regional main parties in Wales and Ulster.

      In England, if you fail to get the official endorsement of one of the three main parties your chance of becoming an MP is very slim, with typically one to three independent or minor party candidates elected at each general election.

      That’s less than 1% of MPs, and probably less than 0.1% of all the independent and minor party candidates who stand for election, and it really makes little difference whether an independent or minor party candidate is better suited to become an MP than the main party candidate who wins.

      So the task of British supporters of the EU is simplified: provided they can keep control of the selection of official main party candidates, they can prevent the emergence of significant opposition to the EU in the House of Commons.

      1. Alan Wheatley
        August 5, 2012

        What a compelling explanation of the necessity for voting for a credible minority party candidate.

  39. Mike A R Powell
    August 4, 2012

    I still feel Parliament could pass an In/Out EU Referendum bill before the next General Election if the Conservatives were pushed in that direction by public opinion.

    A free vote in the Commons would be much more likely if Cameron saw electoral defeat staring himself in the face. The Tory rebels must do something very brave for their country. They must defect en masse to UKIP amid massive publicity and risk their seats at the next election.

    When the Gang of Four left the Labour Party to launch the SDP in the early eighties, there was a snowballing of support, more defections and the sensational winning of by-elections. The SDP enjoyed a lead in the opinion polls that indicated an overal majority in a General Election. General Galtieri’s invasion of the Falklands changed all that but who knows what might have happened if Thatcher had not measured up when it counted.

    A massive boost to UKIP would trigger the Conservative Party into emergency mode and we would get our referendum. I challenge all the staunch eurosceptics to take a massive and historic step. Get together in a massive country house with some really big names. Pick your time carefully then telephone Nigel Farage with the good news. Let the BBC, SkyNews, anyone who will come know then launch your defection to UKIP. Expect some Labour and Lib/Dems to follow for the fame that will follow.

    Reply: The Conservatives are in a minority in the Commons -we always need votes from amongst the two federalist parties Lib dem and Labour to be sure of passing something.

    1. Jerry
      August 4, 2012

      [JR] Reply: The Conservatives are in a minority in the Commons -we always need votes from amongst the two federalist parties Lib dem and Labour to be sure of passing something.

      John, you keep repeating this as if every MP in every other party is pro the EU or status-quo! Even members of the LibDems have publicly stated that they would welcome such a referendum as it would close down this contentious, politically energy sapping, issue once and for all.

      If it was such a certainty that Mr Cameron would have got the result he seemed to want, why did he feel the need to impose a whip when this referendum issue was voted on via a backbench committee motion a few months back – you imply that every member of the Tory party could have voted for the motion yet loose…

      Reply Why then didn’t these Lib Dems vote for a referendum when we tabled a proposal to try to get one? I have to deal daily with MPs in the Commons, and can assure you there is no anti EU majority. If there were our problems would be well on the way to solution. Mr Cameron imposed a three line Coalition whip against the referendum, encouraged to do so by the Lib dems.

      1. Jerry
        August 5, 2012

        [JR] Reply Why then didn’t these Lib Dems vote for a referendum when we tabled a proposal to try to get one? I have to deal daily with MPs in the Commons, and can assure you there is no anti EU majority.

        OK, you obviously have a far better knowledge of what is said in private away from what intended for media consumption. Thanks for the insight!

  40. Nick
    August 4, 2012

    It’s the debt stupid.

    If you can’t admit to how much debt you’ve run up, its not surprising the UK is going down the toilets.

    Ah yes, you’re not going to pay the state pension, “because that’s not the way it works”

    Make good on your promise to tell us, made during the election. Still waiting for the number.

  41. Nick
    August 4, 2012

    So when are you going to give up power to legislate and give it to the electorate?

    Or is it that you want the power back from the EU to dictate?

    Somehow I suspect the later.

  42. Neil Craig
    August 4, 2012

    EU referendum – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.

    The same could be said of anything.
    Repealing the Climate change act – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    Ending mass immigration – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it – even when they claim it is their policy.
    Getting out of recession and into at least world average growth – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    The campaign against ID cards – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it – except David Davis did and won.
    Stop pretending we are experiencing catastrophic warming – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    End the broadcast news monopoly of state owned broadcasters, or at the very least enforce the BBC charter requirement of balance, rather than just totalitarian, big government propaganda and lies – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    Promote Britain’s fastest growing industry, space development, with X-Prizes funded from the money we give to the useless and bureaucratic european space agency – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    Stop the endless pointless and criminal wars – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.
    End (abuses in former Yuogoslavia-ed) – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.

    No I think I will continue to press for honesty, decency and sanity though told – don’t discuss it because the political class oppose it.

  43. Terry
    August 4, 2012

    Surely, John, a renegotiation is an impossibility? The Lisbon Treaty assures that. Why moron Brown ever signed up to a deal that had no back door exit for the UK is a mystery. Maybe he hated our country so much that it was done out of spite.

    However, the damage has been done, so there is no chance of any renegotiation. Unless the Unelected Leaders in Brussels, change the rules and move the goal posts again.

    1. Jerry
      August 4, 2012

      Why moron Brown ever signed up to a deal that had no back door exit for the UK is a mystery.”

      There is an exit clause in Lisbon, in fact I think the UK was one of the countries that pushed for its inclusion, just no sure fired way of member countries renegotiating due to the fact that any substantive changes then need to be ratified by all member states as treaty change – this is why there is so much hot air with regards the Euro problem, nothing can be done unless the Eurocrats use smoke and mirrors. It is the Treaty that created and governs the Euro that has exit mechanism.

      1. Jerry
        August 4, 2012

        Sorry, that last bit should have read – It is the Treaty that created and governs the Euro that has NO exit mechanism.

        1. Denis Cooper
          August 5, 2012

          The absence of any mechanism for a country to leave the euro while staying in the EU is part of the poison pill legacy bequeathed to us by that nice Mr Major.

          Along with the rule that a new country can’t join the EU without also pledging itself to join the euro as soon as economic conditions are deemed correct by the EU institutions, so that any enlargement of the EU necessarily implies a corresponding expansion of the eurozone some years later.

          And also the fact that a non-euro EU member state now has only one possible means to block an additional country ill-advisedly joining the euro, potentially causing problems for all EU member states, which is for the leader of the objecting non-euro state to kick up a huge fuss on the European Council and threaten reprisals if its objections are ignored.

  44. forthurst
    August 4, 2012

    “If the EU is as inflexible as you say, then, surely that will radicalise the UK people.”

    This is an extension of the efficient market hypothesis in which information about political ideas are traded by players having access to market information, act rationally, if not individually but as a group, to ‘price’ a concept realistically.

    When it comes to political ideas, the man in the street is at a very serious disadvantage; his access to correct information is extremely limited and at the same time the whole MSM, not just the BBC, as some allege, is full of the most blatant untruths designed not to inform but to groom the people into false beliefs for the benefit of insiders. The best historical example of this is Bolshevism (our WWII ‘allies’) under which instead of gaining a ‘fair’ share of the land and wealth as promised, the people were enslaved, tortured and murdered by the tens of million. Had the people had the essential information about the criminal gang lurking behind their Russified names, they would not have supported them.

    So it is with the EU; when enacting laws in parliament originating from
    EU diktat, the politicians defend and propagandise these laws as either a good thing or as a ‘not too bad to get worked up about’ thing but never as a ‘we are doing this because we have been told to do it’ thing. The MSM conspire with the politicians in their lies.

    The issue therefore, is how does the public become informed against a background of deliberate missinformation, that eg is being used about Syria and previously, Libya? Is that even a practical aspiration? The alternative is that politicans and their active supporters who are motivated more by patriotism than their own self-interest including a pathological hatred of the English, become in the ascendant. I do not see how enough people can be persuaded to read eg JR’s extemely well informed and argued blog as against the turgidity emanating from the MSM, 24/7. Therefore, I believe that only by the political activism of a patriotic and well informed in-group can the war be won, not only for England but for western civilisation against an ideology which has all the hallmarks of an internationalist collectivism (Bolshevism) whose enemy is the white middle class.

    1. David Price
      August 5, 2012

      “When it comes to political ideas, the man in the street is at a very serious disadvantage; his access to correct information is extremely limited and at the same time the whole MSM, not just the BBC, as some allege, is full of the most blatant untruths designed not to inform but to groom the people into false beliefs for the benefit of insiders.”

      It makes a mockery of democracy but I believe you are right about the average citizen being at a disadvantage.

      I would guess most people simply don’t have the time or interest to work at understanding the situation even if the information were available, they are to busy with earning a living and bringing up their families. So the spoon fed information from the MSM is about as far as most would go, it takes too much effort to find out the unvarnished information, if that’s possible, so many wouldn’t unless there were some major event to trigger it. In any case the Left continue to beaver away deflecting attention from the statist hand, eg for their own and the EUs failures on the bankers. Not to say the bankers are without blame but they are a convenient shield.

      We rely so much on good representation and from events in recent years it is clear that good men and women that truly represent our interests are hard to find.

  45. Denis Cooper
    August 4, 2012

    “Conservative Ministers would make demands for repatriating powers if they were not currently in coalition with Lib Dems.”

    I don’t think that’s true, because long before the general election it was pretty clear that Cameron intended nothing of the kind.

    1. Cameron’s public announcement on November 4th 2009, that he would accept all the EU treaty amendments in the Lisbon Treaty package.

    2. Followed by a statement from Hague on the Andrew Marr show on November 8th 2009, that for the Tories is would be “business as usual” for some years:


    And then two days later, Clarke:


    “Mr Cameron last week said that instead of holding a vote on Lisbon, a Tory government would try to win back some powers from the EU.

    Speaking to journalists at Westminster, Mr Clarke appeared to downplay the significance of that pledge.

    He said: “We’re going to have a go at repatriating, going back to the old opt-out on the social chapter. People want to be reassured on criminal justice.

    He added: “I think it’s largely reassurance, myself.” ”

    3. Cameron’s statements on the Today programme on November 19th 2009:


    and on the Andrew Marr show on November 22nd 2009:


    that he was totally committed to EU membership and was opposed to holding an “in-out” referendum in case he lost it.

    Over the four years since he had been elected as Tory leader on the pretence that he was strongly “eurosceptic” it had already become clear that he was not, in fact he was yet another of Tory “pseudosceptic” breed; and for those who keep track it has become more and more obvious that even if he not a deeply committed federalist like Clarke he is at least a federalist fellow-traveller.

    Even if the Tories had won a Commons majority Cameron would not have made any moves to re-patriate powers, and if a section of the Tory MPs had pressed him to do so and had started to withdraw their support in Commons votes about the EU then he would have happily turned to LibDem and Labour MPs to secure a majority.

    Indeed far from seeking to re-patriate powers he has agreed that Parliament should surrender further powers, and if necessary he will have no qualms about calling upon opposition support to counter any rebellion by Tory MPs.

    1. zorro
      August 4, 2012

      Quite right Dennis….As I have said before on this blog, the Lib Dem Coalition is a fig leaf. Even if Cameron had won with 500MPs, he wouldn’t have approached this differently becuase he doesn’t want the UK out of the EU. In fact, a big majority may have emboldened him to go further in the wrong direction!…..How this is not clearly obvious to anyone despite his faux pleading is beyond me….


  46. outsider
    August 4, 2012

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    I am sure that you are in tune with the common man on this (not so sure about women). I know there are readers who accuse you of selling out and being a Brussels fifth columnist but this is right-wing fringe nonsense. There are prominent bloggers who accuse UKIP of being traitors. In my youth this sort of fissiparous ideological purity was the stuff of the extreme Left.

    Personally, I have long disliked the tactic of securing a special deal for the UK. (We should have vetoed Maastricht.) It understandably sets other EU countries against us. Far better to build alliances and negotiate repatriation of powers for all.
    The situation has changed fundamentally with the eurozone fiscal union, so there is a much better case for a special deal, but I still think we should first try to build a movement for reform.

    The first reform should be to abolish the rule that says that proposals originating with member states require much bigger majorities to pass than those proposed by the Commission. Why should this be so? Surely, most of our EU neighbours would agree.

    Then we should seek to abolish the rule that obliges all member states (except UK. Denmark and in a different way Sweden) to join the euro. Joining the euro now means something quite different to even five years ago so it should be voluntary. Many of our colleagues would surely agree.
    Then we can get on to the Common Fisheries Policy and so much else.

    Reform/renegotiation should be a four year programme followed by a referendum announced and fixed beforehand, preferably for May 2017 or, if nothing can be done before the next General Election, promised by your party for May 2019.

    It would be great to leave the EU tomorrow but let’s join you in being pragmatic.

    1. outsider
      August 4, 2012

      PS. By the way, how was the rowing?

      Reply Very good – will write about it soon.

  47. Gary
    August 4, 2012

    It’s not, it’s the bankers.

  48. Denis Cooper
    August 4, 2012

    There is now a dispute between certain groups of opponents of the EU – a dispute which typically has quickly become acrimonious and personal and damaging – about whether the UK should just up and leave the EU, or attempt to proceed through Article 50 TEU on voluntary withdrawal from the EU.

    Article 50 is defective, not because it allows up to two years for negotiation of new arrangements between the state which intends to leave the EU and the states which intend to stay in the EU, or because the latter will adopt common positions decided by QMV, but because its introduction as a treaty provision makes withdrawal from the EU a matter of specifically EU law, rather than just national and general international law, and it does not exclude the final arbiter on EU law, the ECJ, from interfering with the process.

    It would have been possible to write into the article that the ECJ would have no jurisdiction, but that was not done and so it would be open to the opponents of a state’s withdrawal from the EU to appeal to the ECJ.

    For example, a state’s decision to withdraw must be taken “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, and it’s conceivable that the federalist lawyers on the ECJ could rule that this had not been done properly and therefore the decision was invalid; that would stop the process of negotiating withdrawal in its tracks, and provide opponents with a fresh opportunity to prevent it happening.

    1. Duyfken
      August 4, 2012

      Most interesting points, Denis. I wonder what redress could be made by the EU were the UK just to withdraw regardless and precipitately. The first thing to do might be to freeze all payments to the EU and peripheral bodies, and that might focus their attention on the weakness of their, not our, position.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2012

        Well, while precipitate withdrawal of the UK from the EU would be possible legally – Parliament still being the supreme legal authority for the UK and therefore empowered to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 in very short order, so making it necessary for the UK government to immediately and unilaterally abrogate the EU treaties – it’s obvious that the practical consequence of suddenly cancelling all the international arrangements that are presently encapsulated in those treaties that would be chaos, including chaos for trade.

        1. Duyfken
          August 5, 2012


          The fact that we, and others, are talking about such things, shows the mindset has changed in that let’s say a year ago, few would even consider withdrawal as necessary or viable. Now we are looking for the best way out.

    2. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      I assume you are referring to the Harrogate Conference organised by Dr North. Obviously there is disagreement between those that advocate using Article 50 as the vehicle for getting out as opposed to those that advocate simply repealing the ECA 1972. I don’t believe it as acrimonious as you seem to suggest. A consensus will be reached.

    3. Jerry
      August 4, 2012

      Article 50 is not defective, as it set in stone (well vellum) the concept of withdrawal within the mechanisms of the EU – The ECJ is irrelevant to the issue, the United Nations Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1 paragraphs 2 and 3 will trump nicely anything the ECJ lawyers might attempt to throw out of a parm!

      2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

      3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion;

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2012

        If you could find any UN body competent to rule on the matter then no doubt it would point out the incontrovertible fact that all the EU member state governments and parliaments agreed that the ECJ would have jurisdiction over the process by which a member state withdrew from the EU.

        Which is the case, because under the treaties the default position is that ECJ is the final arbiter for everything in and springing from the treaties, including the withdrawal procedure laid down in Article 50 TEU.

        And even if that default position wasn’t expressly stated in the treaties, which it is, its existence would be a logical deduction from the presence in the treaties of some expressly stated exceptions to the general rule, for example in Article 24 TEU:

        “The Court of Justice of the European Union shall not have jurisdiction with respect to these provisions … ”

        Article 50 should have been written to expressly exclude the ECJ from any involvement in the withdrawal process, and it should also have been made clear that a seceding member state is not bound to follow the stated procedure.

        There’s also a technical flaw in Article 50 insofar as it assumes that only a single state wishes to withdraw at any time; if two or more states wished to withdraw simultaneously then there would have to be an ad hoc variation of the procedure laid down.

        1. Jerry
          August 5, 2012

          “If you could find any UN body competent to rule on the matter then no doubt it would point out the incontrovertible fact that all the EU member state governments and parliaments agreed that the ECJ would have jurisdiction over the process by which a member state withdrew from the EU.

          You seem to think that the UN is subservient to the EU!…

          1. uanime5
            August 5, 2012

            The UN is unlikely to become involved with something that can be settled at an EU level, especially when all the parties freely consented for the ECJ to have jurisdiction over this process.

          2. Jerry
            August 6, 2012

            Reply to uanime5: I wonder if some are getting confused between the ECHR and the ECJ. If a EU member country wants to leave the EU then it will also wish to leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ by extension.

            If the UK asks to leave then we do not wish to be subservience to the EU, we wish to (re)gain our own self determination, I seem to recall the UN charter was used to back eastern European countries in the 1990s when they wished to break away from Russian rule (not USSR rule, which had already collapsed to all intent) so why should it be any different for the UK -or any other EU member state for that matter- that wishes to leave the EU?

          3. Denis Cooper
            August 6, 2012

            Not at all.

            I’m only suggesting that as far as the UN is concerned the UK is a democracy, and as its government and Parliament have freely agreed that the ECJ could supervise the withdrawal of the UK from the EU under Article 50 TEU then it would see no grounds to object.

            Blair didn’t have to agree to the corresponding Article I-60 in the EU Constitutional Treaty; when that treaty was being drafted he could have insisted on changing the provisions on the withdrawal of a member state to exclude the ECJ from any involvement in the process, but he didn’t; similarly Brown didn’t have to agree to it when it came back as part of the Lisbon Treaty, but he did; and Parliament didn’t have to approve it, but it did; and Cameron has accepted it and everything else in the Lisbon Treaty as now being part of EU law; so why should the UN object to it?

  49. Sebastian Weetabix
    August 4, 2012

    The trouble being, the only candidate I could vote for at the last general election who explicitly wanted to exit the EU came from UKIP. In the end I voted for the Tory, with gritted teeth, on the grounds that we had to get that fool Brown out, but consoled myself that when canvassing the Tory promised he would vote against EU measures at every opportunity and was at least in favour of re-negotiation. What do I find now he sits on the backbenches? He is just continuity-Labour. He has voted with pro-EU drones at every opportunity. You can judge a man by the company he keeps.

    Fool me once, etc. So next time around it will be UKIP.

  50. Badgerbill
    August 4, 2012

    A referendum would have given a stronger negotiating hand were it in favour of leaving. As it is the prime minister knows what the likely result would be and therefore will not permit one. The EU people know this so they can carry on regardless knowing there is nothing the UK can do other than keep bailing out the Euro which they created and which is falling apart. Cameron and company show their lack of experience and unsuitability to run the country. Their removal is required before the country is bankrupted more than it is becasue of the failure of those in office with no idea as to what to do to put matters right.

    1. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      There are no degrees of bankruptcy – you either are or you are solvent. Unfortunately we aren’t!

  51. Ashley
    August 4, 2012

    Renegotiation won’t work because whatever form of symbolic appeasement we obtain will be a piecemeal offering that is whittled away over time by the EU tentacles. When Mr Redwood asks what do we have to lose I would answer our freedom and democracy as a sovereign state.

    Just look around at the level of patriotism being displayed by the British during the Olympics and you can see this is a country that is proud of its own identity. We neither need nor desire overlords in Brussels telling us how to live our lives and run our country.

    The politicians have lied to us repeatedly and if a school report was being written the comment would read “must do better”. As a life long Conservative it makes my blood boil when I see Conservatives kowtowing to EU diktats and saying we don’t have any choice. Nobody gave our politicians the right to surrender our sovereignty.

  52. FreedomLover
    August 4, 2012

    Good points, John. You should be in the Cabinet. Best of luck when the very long-delayed reshuffle finally occurs!

    1. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      JR doesn’t stand an earthly of getting a cabinet job while Cameron is PM – get real!

  53. Normandee
    August 4, 2012

    Being defeatist isn’t going to get any results either, obviously it needs to be approached from a new direction. UKIP will not get any votes without the people see the point in voting. Your constant cry of “shun them they are not the answer” is not a constructive comment, so what is a constructive comment ? voting conservative is obviously not the answer, and the thought of either of the other parties in power is an even worse concept. So, who to vote for ? you either have to make the conservative party change to that which seems more electable from the point of Europe, and you need to do it quickly because we are slipping inexorably and finally into corrupt self serving fascist state. Or, or you have another choice, make the alternative party electable give people another choice. You don’t like UKIP then get in inside it and change it, if a number of like minded mp’s crossed the floor you would hold a powerful position in the revamped party, it’s heart is more conservative sometimes than the conservatives themselves, so there should be no great culture shock, and released from the weight the right of the party have, the flimsy remains of the party will swing left almost immediately.
    But, what’s the point, as I have said before you are so very comfortable where you are, and safe for the moment so don’t make waves eh?

    1. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      You don’t like UKIP then get in inside it and change it..

      A point I am always making to UKIP detractors whether MPs, Conservative Party Members of members of the general public. We need a genuine anti-EU party and the front runner is UKIP.

      1. David Price
        August 5, 2012

        But UKIP associate themselves absolutely with the Conservative party and that is their failure in their stated purpose of extracting the UK from the EU.

        If UKIP truly want to get out of the EU then they need to attract voters from all persuasions but especially they need to supplant the LibDems as the junior partner in a coalition. Trying to attract defectors from the CP is unlikely to do the job, it won’t increase the number of anti-EU representatives to a workable extent. John and the other pro-referendum MPs who defied the whips couldn’t force a change, but far fewer LibDem ministers seem to have disproportionate influence.

        If UKIP had any sense they would target all LibDem seats at all levels, not just nationally. But there is their second failure, it makes no sense to vote for a “UKIP” local councillor .. you need a new name, a new branding and a new game guys.

  54. Remington Norman
    August 4, 2012

    Voters in the UK – at least those who bother to think about the matter with any degree of sagacity – feel betrayed and traduced by politicians. For decades their concerns about the EU have been brushed aside. Massive transfers of power from UK to EU, backed by serial lies over ‘no loss of sovereignty’, have occurred, often surreptitiously, without popular mandate. Cameron makes ‘cast iron’ promises on which he fails to deliver and, in any case, is widely seen as lacking the guts to face a vote, having no idea what he would do if the result was ‘out’ or ‘renegotiate’. Balsamic words aplenty but no sign of action.

    Do the Tories not understand that people are frustrated and very angry that politicians of all stripes seem to continue to believe, in the fact of all the evidence, that the EU is somehow beneficial. The reality is that it is wasteful, corrupt, bureaucratic, uncompetitive, arrogant, deceitful and largely unaccountable. This, to a nation that has fought for and values its independence, is reducing us to a third class power and undermining our sovereignty. For these reasons people will now vote for anyone that evinces the determination to redress that balance. That includes UKIP. Eurosceptic MPs should now force the referendum issue.

  55. Remington Norman
    August 4, 2012

    Voters in the UK – at least those who bother to think about the matter with any degree of sagacity – feel betrayed and traduced by politicians. For decades their concerns about the EU have been brushed aside. Massive transfers of power from UK to EU, backed by serial lies over ‘no loss of sovereignty’, have occurred, often surreptitiously, without popular mandate. Cameron makes ‘cast iron’ promises on which he fails to deliver and, in any case, is widely seen as lacking the guts to face a vote, having no idea what he would do if the result was ‘out’ or ‘renegotiate’. Balsamic words aplenty but no sign of action.

    Do the Tories not understand that people are frustrated and very angry that politicians of all stripes seem to continue to believe, in the face of all the evidence, that the EU is somehow beneficial. The reality is that it is wasteful, corrupt, bureaucratic, uncompetitive, arrogant, deceitful and largely unaccountable. This, to a nation that has fought for and values its independence, is reducing us to a third class power and undermining our sovereignty. For these reasons people will now vote for anyone that evinces the determination to redress that balance. That includes UKIP. Eurosceptic MPs should now force the referendum issue.

  56. Nigel Wheatcroft
    August 4, 2012

    The change in circumstances which is required for there to be a real debate on the EU is going to happen in two ways in the next couple of years.
    Firstly there is the Euro which is causing problems now,but if there is no solution to its set up is going to fail and drag down all the countries in the EU .I for one cannot see what the leaders of Europe can do to right the fundamental flaws that dog the whole Euro debacle. They say that closure integration is the answer,to me that will make the situation worse as it will take the whole EU bureaucracy and government further away from the people of Europe and lead to greater ill feeling against it.
    As things get worse across the continent they anti EU the population will see the EU as not the answer to their problems but the cause. In the next two years this is bound to occur….then we have the European elections when we will probably see a surge towards UKIP in this country(either by those who see the elections as a great chance to kick the coalition or those who growing in number who believe that UKIP is correct and stand for the type of government they desire). In Europe by that time in 2014 you will also see a rise in the number of anti EU parties as well……..so a growing number of anti EU MP’s will be in Brussels/Strasbourg as a guerrilla movement to cause maximum distress to the Euro elite.
    If that happens the parties in this country have a year before they face the electorate in 2015 in a general election,for anyone of them not actually take up the baton of offering a referendum would be election suicide…..the writing will be on the wall for MP’s as they know the anti EU feeling will be high by then…..the next few years will show us if we have any leaders with backbone who will give the man in the street the vote on Europe.
    How ever long they try to ignore the wishes of electorate,the greater will be the backlash against them.
    I await the next couple of years with great anticipation, with politicians trying at every turn to get out of the referendum which will have to be given to the public

  57. Kevin Robbin
    August 4, 2012

    Mr Redwood,

    Please keep up the good work.

    Renegotiation has to be the only sensible way ahead. If no agreement is achieved, then at least there will be a valid start point for discussion on leaving the EU.

    From my own experience in Salisbury, talking to friends and contacts, there is a real groundswell of dissatisfaction with the EU and most things that come out of it and people just want the government to get started on sorting out the situation. ‘Jam tomorrow’ is not acceptable.

  58. Cary
    August 4, 2012

    That’s all very well Mr Redwood but your glorious leader has said that he will not consider leaving the EU, making negotiations pointless as the EU knows it has nothing to lose by refusing to open such negotiations. There are four positions on the EU that make sense (each in their own way):

    1. leave it.
    2. demand renogiations of powers with a threat to leave it if not granted.
    3. repeal the 1972 Act thereby giving the British parliament sovereignty in EU matters, take back those powers Britain wants and dare the EU to expel us if they don’t like it (which they won’t do because they’re gutless when faced with a challenge and could not afford to run the EU without Britain’s financial contributions).
    4. accept the current basis of EU membership.

    We can all make our choice and have a discussion as to which is best, but David Cameron’s position is incoherent.

    By the way, my preferred choice is 3, with the threat of 1.

    1. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      If the ECA 1972 were to be repealed then we are out so there is no difference between your options 1 and 3. I have it in writing from a government authority that Parliament is sovereign (at least over EU law), so repeal automatically releases us from any obligations under the Treaty of Rome and all subsequent Treaties. However, the consequences (we would be in breach of an International Treaty) would be considerable loss of international confidence in the UK’s word. My own feeling is that they would get over it, but others feel that invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is the honourable way out. Which ever! I just wish we could get the ball rolling now!

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2012

        It’s not so much that Article 50 provides an honourable way out – the EU is not an honourable enterprise – but it provides a way out which would avoid the legal and practical chaos which would inevitably ensue from the sudden cancellation of all the international arrangements presently encompassed in the EU treaties, including above all the arrangements for trade.

  59. David Langley
    August 4, 2012

    John, the Euro zone is imploding, we have all spoken on this site about the need to prepare ourselves for the big bust. Every time we start thinking of recovery our banks ratchet up the bad financial news of another scandal. The government is a joke when it comes to the EU, just a load of puppets dancing to the tune of god knows what, fear probably. Frightened of standing up for what is required. What is wrong with our MPs why cant they see what is blindingly obvious to the rest of us. We are now trading better outside the EU which is about time.
    Please stop talking about renegotiation, this is not going to be a sit down round the table compromising and fudging a deal in the hope it will take us on for another day. If you want some plans then ask UKIP for ideas, they have plenty. It is appreciated all that you say may be correct, but it is a question of will and common sense and if we have to vote for UKIP to get a three line cross party whip for the repeal of the Lisbon treaty then we will do it. A lot of MP,s jobs are on the line I believe, I just wish we could arrange things better. My MP votes in the yes lobby for anything he is told to do, according to his record. Career politicians will do that if they want preferment.
    I will continue to motivate and radicalise as many people who will listen to me, we will see what happens in due course.

  60. Bert Young
    August 4, 2012

    Dr.JR , Agree, agree , agree with everything you say , but , nothing is going to happen for several months , and , as each month goes by , the UK’s position will worsen . It is necessary to focus on and have a plan in place in , say , 4 months time . Conservative MPs must galvanise sufficient support in the House to bring about the block on the increase in the budget , to demand powers back and to vote against further transfer of powers etc . Whether this can be done from behind the scene or, by forcing the matter out in the media , is down to a recognised and respected leader . I cannot put my finger on such a person – you are in a much better position to do so ; I urge you to do so . A friend of mine has been pressing the same point on Norman Tebbit ( I respect him very much , but , he is too much a figure of the past ) , others have suggested Boris ( he has no seat for the time being ) , so , who can it be ? I wish William Hague had not veered off from his previously eurosceptic stance otherwise he would be a good candidate . Best of luck.

  61. Faustiesblog
    August 4, 2012

    I understand your argument, I think: you are trying to work with what we’ve got, within the parameters of what is achievable.

    Fine. But consider that in 2014, virtually all matters EU will be subject to QMV. If we coast along, hoping something will turn up, we might find that we have lost so much sovereignty that we cannot secede. We cannot be complacent and allow that to happen.

    Also, we’ve seen how ‘mainstream’ parties have been overturned and/or reduced to rubble across the world and in particular, EU states. Are you content to accept that fate for the Conservative Party, given its current EU-phile trajectory? Or is it time for party members (particularly the senior variety) to do something radical like deposing the Dear Leader for a decisively Better Off Out candidate?

    UKIP might not appear to be a threat to Tory fortunes but how long can it be before an MP with a mighty EU-realist constituency defects to UKIP, having seen the writing on the electoral wall?

  62. Christopher Ekstrom
    August 4, 2012

    Oh come now, Mr. Redwood! UKIP have no votes in the Commons today; when Cast Iron next calls an election (unless he is planning on going the Lord Protector way) there will be plenty. But that’s another world & in your short term political calculas the Titanic is just beginning to list. Wrong. The UK is in the midst of a full-blown crises. SamCam may find those “idiotic” who reject “Boyles UK” as a monstrosity; but we may hang his effigy at Traitors Gate the day England is free.

    Reply: Current polls show that UKIP will not win a single seat in a General Election, just like last time.

    1. Sean O'Hare
      August 4, 2012

      Reply: Current polls show that UKIP will not win a single seat in a General Election, just like last time.

      Reply: Current polls show that UKIP will not win a single seat in a General Election, just like last time.

      But at last we are seeing even the BBC listing UKIP as a discrete entity


      About time Beeb! I reckon if Cameron stays and the EU continues to hit the “bad” headlines in two years time you will see UKIP getting polling sufficient to get it some MPs. Ain’tcha a bit worried John?

      Reply: I remain worried that UKIP continues to split the vote of the Eurosceptics, ensuring continued inaction over the EU problem they claim to want to solve. As a Eurosceptic you should also be worried about this.

    2. Jerry
      August 4, 2012

      [JR] Reply: Current polls show that UKIP will not win a single seat in a General Election, just like last time.

      Well lets hope, for your parties sake, that the next election is this year then, if the Euro or countries within EU starts to implode all bets will be off.

      In any case, even if the polls are right and UKIP doesn’t win a single seat, how many seats will they loose for the Tories… UKIP and the Conservatives are not poles apart at grass roots level, voters might well swap their allegiances without understanding the ramifications.

  63. A different Simon
    August 4, 2012

    The EU is just an excuse .

    The current Govt has worn it out and I’m surprised that a few visitors to this site still buy it .

    Your Govt is under no obligation to pay benefits to visitors from the EU – so why do you keep doing it and keep encouraging them to come ?

    As for expensive energy the whole Carbon Dioxide credit trading scam was concocted in the City of London to keep the trickle-up going . They instructed you politicians to deliver the scheme straight to their trading desks and that is what you have all done .

    Your Govt can’t even get it’s act together on shale hydrocarbon extraction . Instead you are taking the cowards way out by keeping it under perpetual review .

    So much for the myopic fund managers in the City of London who haven’t even twigged that the time might be ripe for their investing in shale . Their herd mentality just makes the current crisis worse . Anyone can look good in a rising market . Thank goodness the Chinese will be their to fund UK onshore hydrocarbon extraction .

  64. Antisthenes
    August 4, 2012

    Those who say they understand the complex legal system of the EU such as EU referendum blog say that renegotiation/repatriation of powers is not possible whilst remaining a member of the EU. They say the only legal framework is for the UK to leave and renegotiate re-entry. They are probably right but further as well already we know from past experience, CAP renegotiation was agreed would occur but never has, that any negotiation within the EU is pointless as it would either not be countenanced by other EU states (notably Germany and France) or would be promised but never be delivered. The only solution is to leave ASAP as to re-enter would only be on the old terms or even worse.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 4, 2012

      They’re not “probably right”, they’re “definitely wrong”, as far as the legalities are concerned.

      See Article 48 TEU starting on page 41 here:


      which admits the possibility that proposed treaty changes could:

      “serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties”.

      That’s the legalities; of course it’s a different matter when it comes to the politics.

  65. Barbara Stevens
    August 4, 2012

    In politics, its wrong and careless to assume a small party will not make gains of enough strength to have an impact. We should look to history and Germany, who assumed the Nazies wouldn’t gain power, and we all know how wrong they were. Luckily, we have no parties along those lines, but our small parties are making progress and gaining strength and popularity. The mainstream parties should be worried, for they are out of tune with the majority in the country, and the smaller parties seem more attractive. UKIP, is gaining popularity, and rightly so, for it’s offering the people of this country what it wants.
    To talk about what will happen if we up and leave the EU, and make it sound as if we will decline is almost laughable; didn’t we alone challenge Germany in 1939, was that folly, we stood alone then and we can do so again. We all know the challenges we face, but lets face facts, those that have led this country over the decades are the ones who we should question. They just ignore our wishes, and that is wrong in its self. We can as a nation do anything to protect our freedoms and we expect those who stand to lead us to do the same. At the moment our elected leaders and MPs are not doing the job they were elected for. We don’t want the EU, so what will it take to make MPs of any party realise it?
    To talk that we cannot do anything is wrong, as a nation and the right people at the helm. we can do anything we desire. Its a matter of putting the right people at the helm. Cameron is not that person.

    1. uanime5
      August 5, 2012

      Firstly the Nazis didn’t start to gain power until after the 1929 stock market crash, a time when extremists started gaining power throughout Europe, and by the time Hitler became Chancellor they were already losing their influence.

      Secondly France also challenged Germany in 1939.

      Thirdly some people do want to be part of the EU. Especially those who job depends on selling things to other EU countries (it we’re outside of the EU we’ll have to pay an import tax).

  66. Matthew
    August 4, 2012

    In the absence of a referendum on EU membership being granted I think your approach, of focusing on a renegotiation of EU powers, is the only feasible one to take.

    Indeed if a referendum were granted, it may be too early; there would be a groundswell of voters ready to vote to withdraw. The problem is that on the other end of the scales the present party leaders would support continued membership. Many people would be persuaded that there were certain advantages to withdrawal, but would be frightened off by talk on 3 million jobs relying on our continued involvement. We’ve been part of the Euro zone, in its widest sense, for 40 years now and continued membership is a bit of a comfort blanket to people and politicians alike.

    The “Yes” camp knows well what buttons to press and they are well versed in applying their threats of doom. (It used to be the treat of future wars, now its economic collapse)
    If there is a referendum and the status quo is maintained, that could sink the withdrawal argument for years.
    Better to aim for repatriation of powers because-

    – It is attainable, with all of the internal turmoil within the Euro zone and the development of a two speed Europe there is no better time to go for it.

    – It would assist in achieving economic growth, the social chapter in particular.

    As for Conservative MP’s deserting the party for UKIP, well I’ve given it 5 seconds thought and I can see flaw in that argument. At the next election the defectors, would all lose their seats and with that, any influence that they may have ever had. Many of the euro sceptics are part of the new intake of Conservative MP’s and are very impressive.

    UKIP are following a strategy that could have been designed to do just the opposite of what they declare that they want… Someone should tell them that we have a first past the post system here and the euro sceptic ranks are likely to be depleted because of their actions.

    The fact that UKIP haven’t come even close to picking up one Westminster MP doesn’t seem to deter them. Maybe they’re on the wrong Earth.

    I think the day will come when the UK leaves the EU but it could take a long time yet, and who is to know what will become of the EU? It unlikely to exist in its current form.

  67. Derek Emery
    August 4, 2012

    Economically the EU is going to go down the tubes as it’s whole approach to life in general is totally non-competitive. This is simply because it places its left liberal politics as totally controlling of all else and far more important than anything else by a country mile.

    The ruling EU elite live in a dream world where like the think they have the power to stop the tide (effects of world competition in a globalised economy) from coming in.

    They forget that the world and money and competition from limited resources are real and that it’s politics that is pure fiction. The real world is never going to adjust itself to fit with their political foibles whereas they believe it can will and must.

    They despise economics, markets, and and finance and the competition all this involves. Hence the EU (Germany) designed a eurozone that could never work in the real world. Many economists predicted it would take 10-15 years to cause serious problems and fail as such unions have in the past.
    Worse still they show no signs of coming to terms with what would be needed to make it work because that would not fit their politics.

    Germany has a drastic fear of inflation and devaluation because of its experience of hyperinflation in the past but that’s what has to happen. Outside the zone most of the countries by now would have devalued by 30-60% to match their poor productivity in world terms.

    Most of the EU has an ever-rising problem from the unfunded costs associated with aging demographics leading to ever-increasing public debt/GDP ratios rising into the stratosphere see “The future of public debt: prospects and implications” by “The Bank Of International Settlements” in 2010 at http://www.bis.org/publ/work300.pdf

    The EU left liberal approach can never be competitive because that is the antitheses of left liberal dream of equality and working together.

    The EU is going to go down the tubes both economically and technologically compared with the rest of the world.

    As illustration take car production which is a big contributor to the German economy and hence to the EU. A decade ago Hyundai as example was nowhere compared with German cars. Today there is not a single European car in the top ten for reliability and Hyundai is sixth. The top ten (except Chevrolet) are all made in the Far East (see What Car Reliability Survey 2012.)

    Ask yourself a simple question. Where is European car production likely to be in another 10 years and where is the EU economy likely to be? The EU dear energy directive means that much EU car production (and with it the jobs and taxes) will be off-shored.

    The EU has the least effective most narrow sighted and minded government in the whole world and that will seal its fate.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      August 8, 2012

      So Germany and other fiscally sound nations cannot co-exist in the same currency union with Club Med and other fiscally incontinent nations. Either Germany etc leave the Euro Zone and form a new hard currency (called the Thaler?) or the weak nations leave the Euro Zone one by one, starting with Greece.

      Either will do, provided that the need is realised now so that the slow break-up can take place in a planned manner, and not in a panic after another £2 trillion has been spent in stupid bail outs a la Ponzi.

      I wish that our PM and Chancellor were articulating such a course.

  68. Sue
    August 4, 2012

    I must say, I agree with “A different Simon” above. Having lived in Spain for a number of years, it was so utterly blatant that most of the regulations were completely ignored. Banned insecticides are “under the counter”, you can still buy strong bleach with an ordinary lid on it, Spanish employers refused to take on foreigners unless they had no choice, skill or language wise, ordinary lightbulbs on sale everywhere, infact, there are still pubs you can go to have a cigarette with your drink (policeman even go there). Absolutely nothing is enforced at local levels.

    Much of the over-regulated nannying is by the UK government who seem to follow the letter of EU law and then add some…. (that is what you lot should be working on).

    There are clearly two ways of leaving, invoking article 50 as someone has already noted and revoking the European Communities Act 1972 which essentially makes anything since then illegal (null and void), whatever you want to call it.

    “In enacting the European Communities Bill in 1972 through an ordinary vote in the House of Commons, Edward Heath and his Government breached the constitutional convention which requires a prior consultation of the people (either by a general election or a referendum) on any measure involving constitutional change or loss of sovereignty”. We could take this to the highest court in the land but we all know we wouldn’t win, whether it was illegal or not. All things EU are now above national law.

    I don’t believe for one moment that Mr Cameron and his inner circle or Whitehall will allow either of these things to occur. The alternative for us “peasants” is to change things at a local level. This seems to be the way UKIP are working. Slowly but surely, Lib/Lab/Con councillors are being replaced by UKIPPERS or independents. In my opinion, either of those has to be a better alternative. It may be a slow arduous process but even the EU wasn’t built in a day.

    There are more and more of us anti-EU advocates starting to get off our backsides and becoming activists. Firstly we need to begin by replacing local civil servants who are party orientated and then MP’s.

    The vast majority of us are ex-Conservatives but not exclusively. You’re losing far more now than ever before. Cameron was their last hope and he has proven to be the worst Conservative PM ever and a total Europhile. The Conservative idea that “gay marriage” has bled your membership is a false flag, after all, most of us lean towards libertarianism. It’s still the lack of action on the EU that has done the damage.

    Reply: There are various ways of leaving the EU. The legal and technical issues are not that difficult. All require one thing – an act of political will. No Parliament since 1970 has ever wanted to assert such political will to get our independence back.

    1. uanime5
      August 5, 2012

      Banned insecticides are “under the counter”, you can still buy strong bleach with an ordinary lid on it

      Which directive prohibits these?

      Spanish employers refused to take on foreigners unless they had no choice, skill or language wise

      You do realise that under EU law you can refuse to employ people if they can’t speak the language because they’re a health and safety risk.

      ordinary lightbulbs on sale everywhere

      They’re still on sale in the UK. 2012 is the last year you can sell them.

      there are still pubs you can go to have a cigarette with your drink (policeman even go there).

      You do realise this is only banned in the UK. The EU hasn’t made this illegal.

      Edward Heath and his Government breached the constitutional convention which requires a prior consultation of the people (either by a general election or a referendum) on any measure involving constitutional change or loss of sovereignty”.

      No such constitutional convention had ever existed. Even if it did it wouldn’t be enforceable in a court of law because conventions aren’t legally binding.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        August 7, 2012

        There is a convention, whether constitutional or not, that you do not blatently lie to the electorate. The official government pamphlet, published before the 1975 referendum stated “Our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament.”

        So, if we don’t want to assert that Harold Wilson and his colleagues were liers, we have to conclude that the option of leaving is still available.

        When is Mr Redwood going to address the real issue, which is how you ensure that there is a Eurosceptic majority in the NEXT parliament. If he wants people to vote Conservative, it needs two things: suitable policies in the manifesto and a purge of the candidates list so that ONLY candidates supporting those policies stand for the Party.

        Reply: I am working all the time on a manifesto for 2015 that does the job.

  69. Darrol Skinner
    August 4, 2012

    The E.U Is To Blame For The Economic Shambles?? £1.2Tril Deficit & We Bailed The U.K Banking Industry Out To The Tune Of £1.2Tril. Yup, Bloody E.U.

  70. Richard
    August 4, 2012

    One can almost see the foam and froth in Mr Redwood’s mouth as we read this article…

  71. Normandee
    August 4, 2012

    Reply: Current polls show that UKIP will not win a single seat in a General Election, just like last time.

    Your single reply to all the mails that have arrived since you posted this diary, absolutely hopeless ! The British public have not a single source of relief, you cannot or will not change the Tory party, and you slag off the only real alternative for the voting public. I wonder if you really care that much or you just love the attention.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      August 10, 2012

      Realistically, the only way for UKIP to become plausible at the next General Election is to be the Party that wins the largest share of the popular vote in the 2014 MEP elections. Place your bets.

  72. i.stafford
    August 4, 2012

    The problem with a renegotiation which involves us still being a part of the EU is that we cannot control what extensions to EU competence will occur later. The ECJ has a record of mission creep thus expanding EU competence. Take subsidiarity which HMG proudly thought would but an end to this creep but the court ruled that the absence of harmonisation was a case for a matter being taken at Community level. Look at how the EU foreign policy has expanded; on the basis of previous legal rulings it may be that we no longer have competence on relations with Iran for instance as it can on precedent be argued that so much EU activity has taken place on this matter that member states cannot act alone (ie with the USA!) To have any sense a renegotiation must involve leaving the EU and then opting for a separate treaty stating whatever our association status with the community is desired to be.

  73. Frances Matta
    August 4, 2012

    The only sure way out is the repeal of the 1972 “European Communities Act” and that is never going to happen under a Labour or Consevative administration with or without the Lib Dems….. as coalition partners when the leader of ones party completely screws up and fails to win a majority against one of the worst Prime Ministers EVER.
    I’m fed up with all the tabloid lambasting of Cameron for being a “toff.”
    He’s just plain thick.

  74. Andy
    August 4, 2012

    Of course John you are assuming the EU survives if and when the Euro implodes. It could be that the EU falls apart too. And good riddence to bad rubbish.

  75. Lady Carole
    August 4, 2012

    The bulk of the british people wish to pull out the problem as you state is the political elite who take no notice of the people so your idea of renegotiation of terms and conditions is the best way forward as it is certain theEU will proce totally intrancigent and will be seen to be so by the public at large ,This process should be implemented immediatly and can be justified by the lack of leadership or action on the euro zone problems which will only get worse .Now is the time to start if there is to be any hope of winning the next electionseverl issues must be tackled and the problem of europe is chief among them

  76. Ferdinand
    August 4, 2012

    In effect what you are saying is that MPs no longer represent their constituents.

  77. BobE
    August 4, 2012

    Any true Brit MUST vote for UKIP. Its the last possible chance.
    2 years to go.

  78. Audun Sigurdsson
    August 4, 2012

    Norman Lamont suggested in an article some time ago that the best option for the UK in relations with the EU would be to renegotiate and join the EEA. UK would then take control of the agricultural, fisheries, and foreingn policy and could get rid of 80% of rules and regulations from Brussels. It would retain all the benefits of being within the common European market but liberate its enterprise currently stifled by Brussel’s red tape and over regulations.

  79. Michael Lee
    August 5, 2012

    Mr Redwood explains the difficulties which would be encountered should Britain seek to withdraw from the European Union. But these difficulties are not insurmountable. On 2nd July, Liam Fox delivered a speech to The Taxpayers’ Alliance on this matter. I understand that Dr Fox will have more to say in the coming months.

    Speech by Dr Liam Fox on 2nd July 2012 delivered at The Taxpayers’ Alliance

    (It concludes…)

    It is the British public who must be the final arbiters and their voice has been ignored for too long. Politicians of all parties must show that they are able and willing to put the national interest ahead of narrow electoral interests.

    We should not wait for EU leaders to recognize the failure of the ill-conceived euro before we set out what we want for the British people.

    Britain’s destiny is not a debating issue for leaders on the continent. It must be made in Britain. This is the time for us to rise to the challenge.

    Reply: And why do you suggest I disagree with the thrust of what Dr Fox argues. You seem to forget I voted No in 1975, so don’t blame me for all the needless problems membership of the EU is causing us, or suggest that I am in some way a problem in the way of resolving this mess.

    1. Michael Lee
      August 5, 2012

      Sunday, 5 August 2012
      Dear Mr Redwood,

      I have to apologize for any implied criticism of your opinions on Britain’s position within the EU. I found Dr Fox’s speech to the The Taxpayers’ Alliance very interesting and worth reporting. Whether complete withdrawal from the EU, or renegotiation of Britain’s position is the best course of action, I am unable to say. My criticism is reserved for Mr Cameron, who appears reticent to take any action at all; I do not believe that he will ever allow a referendum on this matter.

      Michael Lee

  80. Christopher Hawkins
    August 5, 2012

    If you truly believe that we need to renegotiate only you are short sighted as you are condemning the rest of the continent to a dictatorship which is bound to one day threaten us. Cross the floor and become the UKIP MP!

    Reply: We had one of those once. What happened to him? He made absolutely no difference.

  81. Adam5x5
    August 5, 2012

    Mr Redwood,
    Your point about everyone voting for Euro-federalist parties is somewhat flawed.

    It assumes that people are going to vote for what is in their best interests and the country’s. It also assumes that the parties operate in the best interests of the country.

    With a few notable exceptions, the parties and politicians operate for their own benefit – if they thought that being anti-EU would get votes the parties would change, and we can see this starting to emerge with the mutterings from Labour about holding a referendum to try and entice disaffected Tory voters who are fed up with Cameron’s broken promises.
    I predict that in the run-up to the next election Labour will promise one, and will probably do it before the Tories. I also doubt that they would hold one as it is another thing that would just never happen – like the British Bill of Rights.

    A lot of voters vote merely along party lines, not what would be best for them – see the “I’ve always voted x, because y are rich ****s” argument.

    Also, a lot of people voted for the Lib Dems. Does this count as a vote for a federalist party? Given that they had promised a referendum (I note that this is not forth coming)…

    So what are we to do – voting UKIP would seem to be the last hope. Otherwise it will be a case of just accepting EU rule, or uprising.
    History has shown repeatedly that Britain and the British will not accept rule from the continent – we have been free of their yoke for nearly 1000 years with the last time we were conquered being 1066. Heading further into the union without the consent of the people will lead only to trouble.

    If a referendum were to return a ‘stay in’ result, I would accept that – I would make plans to leave the country – but would accept it. Surely it is morally and legally desirable for the people to choose who governs them? After all, isn’t this what Cameron and the government say about Syria, Libya, Falklands, Gibraltar, anywhere but here in fact?

  82. peter davies
    August 5, 2012

    At least it looks like the focus is shifting from the Lords issue – though I do agree with one of the comments that ‘renegotiation would be like getting a divorce and living with your spouse’ – pointless and naive leaving the door wide open for a new government to simply give powers back later on (Mr Bliar)

    Its time to put in place alternative free trade arrangements in place to mitigate what will be lost by leaving the EU and set out a timetable for an In/out referendum. I suspect the whole EZ will be forced to break up anyway by the markets at some point, followed by mass dissatisfaction leading to the fragmentation of the EU.

    I’m no historian on this matter but read somewhere that before WW1 the med countries tried a Latin currency and eventually kicked it into the long grass.

    I really don’t understand the political point of the EU – after all wasn’t the Balkans a group of countries stitched together by Tito? – Look what happened there.

    I agree with many that if Cameron hasn’t got the guts for this its probably time to look at replacing him with someone like Boris and start putting into place plans for setting a path to EU withdrawal.

  83. adams
    August 5, 2012

    Give the people PR and not FPTP and there would be at least 20 UKIP MPs in our not fit for purpose Parliament . SHameron and Niliband would only allow a vote on AV . The lumpen Mps went along with this as they knew a choice of PR on the ballot papar would see many of them without a job . Parliament stinks to high heaven and you are part of this emasculation of our democracy Mr Redwood .

    1. cachaciero
      August 19, 2012

      Indeed! can’t find anything to disagree with there 🙂

  84. The Prangwizard
    August 5, 2012

    OK, so we are all fed up. Something must be done, etc., but Mr Redwood is right. There must be changes via parliament. So, if you are as fed up as you say, and all you have done is comment here, do something else to help, write to your MP. It is frustrating though, I wrote to mine about an English parliament – he is a minister – and all I got back was a load of waffle. I have absolutely no idea where he stands, my guess he is too timid to speak his own thoughts, if he has any, and if he doesn’t he should on such an important matter. Not much encouragement there about the democratic process. When we’ve all had replies we can then know how useful it is.

  85. backofanenvelope
    August 5, 2012

    In my opinion we should lie low and do NOTHING! There is no point in lashing ourselves into a frenzy over re-negotiation – our friends/partners/enemies in the EU have other things on their minds. Nor should we agree to anything new. Just hold the line and see how things pan out. Stick to the rules and insist that the rest of them do the same.

  86. Barbara
    August 5, 2012

    Genuine question – did any of the polls predict a Green MP last time round? Or a Respect MP in Bradford West?
    The Greens have just one MP – but a huge amount of influence on all three party leaders’ policies. Why, in theory, shouldn’t UKIP do the same?

    Reply: I believe local polls showed a possible Green win in Brighton. We did have a UKIP MP following a defection but that did not seem to make any difference to Labour’s pro EU stance.

    1. Adam5x5
      August 5, 2012

      Reply: I believe local polls showed a possible Green win in Brighton. We did have a UKIP MP following a defection but that did not seem to make any difference to Labour’s pro EU stance.

      No, it didn’t make much difference, but the chance of being able to steal some disaffected Tory votes sure is changing Labour’s position with whisperings of a referendum.
      All this does is reinforce the view that political parties and politicians are merely self serving and will say whatever is necessary to get in and then just do what they want anyway.

  87. Muddyman
    August 5, 2012

    If nothing is done to resolve this , then we face the eventual use of (direct action? ed) as the people realise they always pay the piper but never get to call the tune.

  88. James Reade
    August 6, 2012

    Amongst the usual splutter and bile, which takes up a vast majority of the comments thus far, there’s something missing. That funny, inconvenient thing called evidence. Empirical evidence, even theoretical evidence, that if we managed to change everything, we’d somehow get stellar growth. Where is the evidence?

    Don’t cite me right wing think tanks and their “output” (or left wing ones for that matter). Where is the impartial, unbiased evidence on the impact of leaving the EU?

    Now the interesting thing is that this impartial, unbiased evidence (which doesn’t exist) might suggest we should leave the EU – I have no idea, like everyone else, my brain isn’t capable of thinking through all the implications on the billions of daily decisions made by millions of people in and around the UK. As a result, I don’t tend to take particularly strong positions on this matter, and hence I don’t spew forth all these assertions about how wonderful it would be if we decided to leave.

    Those of you that do take a strong position, how do you know, other than via your hunch, supported in chats down the Conservative Club on a Friday evening, that it would lead to better outcomes than if we stayed inside? And, given you have absolutely no idea other than your hunch, why are you so desperate to drag us into this?

    I personally like policy that is evidence based. You can of course assert that joining the EU in the first place wasn’t particularly evidence based and I’ll happily agree with you. But, starting from where we are, I see little evidence that leaving the EU is going to dramatically improve the way our economy functions, and hence I don’t see the point in kicking up all this kind of fuss, all this kind of distraction, instead of getting on with the kinds of things that might actually promote growth.

    1. David Price
      August 6, 2012

      So we should act like a frog being boiled?

      You could just as easily say at this stage that unless there is unambiguous evidence of direct and net sustained benefit for our society and economy we should leave the EU.

      I can’t speak for others but it isn’t a case of knowing for sure that the outcome will be better if we change our relationship with the EU. I worked all my life in the high technology sector and there were and are never any guarantees, to expect such is naive and to wait for for clear eveidence of zero risk is a good way to go bankrupt

      For me the issue is whether I am prepared to contribute to an economy and want my children growing up in a society which I have absolutely no influence over. The EU have shown themselves to have no loyalty to anyone nor willingness to defend our interests, quite the opposite, so why should I want to be their vassal?

      Outside of the EU we pick our own desitiny, not some distorted utopia sanctioned by EU autocrats whereas if our government messes up we have a chance of changing it (in theory).

      Perhaps we stand a better chance of growth if the people who generate it believe they are contributing to their ultimate benefit rather than that of some faceless bureacrats and bankrupt countries elsewhere? Perhaps you won’t get your growth until working people believe their efforts aren’t being squirted against EU and foreign walls.

      1. James Reade
        August 8, 2012

        Perhaps – but I doubt it. You see, as I pointed out, I rely on evidence, rather than opinion. And I want my government, wherever it is (my town hall, Westminster, Brussels), to rely on evidence too, not opinion.

        Your rant is entirely opinion, no facts, no figures, just opinion.

        You make no convincing argument about how the EU is affecting us, yet you expect me to be convinced by what you say?

        1. David Price
          August 9, 2012

          I am not trying to convince you of an answer on the EU one way or another, just that a numerically based approach may not give the answer to the kind of question you are asking.

          I am suggesting that the numerical data you are looking for may not exist and could be immaterial anyway to what the majority of the electorate want.

          It is people who matter, not numbers. People are not fungible like money, you can’t take someone who was in an engineering career and force them into say retail and expect them to operate at the same levels of effectiveness and efficiency. It is what people feel about their circumstances that affect their decisions and behaviour, who they vote for, how hard they are prepared to work.

          You may prefer an orderly and evidence based world, but it doesn’t exist. People can change their mind or adopt a position counter to facts, their priorities can change over time and depend on whether they have a family or not. If you ignore that aspect then I doubt any of your theories or models will be good enough to be effective or even valid.

          Good luck in finding your hard data, but you might want to consider just how much you can trust the numbers coming from the EU which is after all a political project which considers itself above mere laws and evidence.

    2. Lindsay McDougall
      August 7, 2012

      We could mimic what we did when we went in. We could come out and hold a referendum nearly three years after the event seeking approval for the decision. By that time we should have ample evidence.

      Instead of hunches, you could try a logical approach. List all of the acts of government that have been forced on us by EU treaties, laws and directives and see how many of these we could improve on left to our own devices. It’s a long list.

      1. James Reade
        August 8, 2012

        I’m not the one relying on hunches here.

        Correct me if I’m wrong too, but didn’t we go in only after a referendum then hold another one?

        You really think the list of things a UK-based govt could have improved on is that long? I seriously doubt it. Our politicians and bureaucrats are no better than the ones in Brussels.

        Reply: There was no referendum before entry, only one to endorse staying in in 1975.

  89. Lindsay McDougall
    August 6, 2012

    As I keep saying, those votes in the House of Commons can only come in adequate numbers after the 2015 General Election, preceded by clear policies in our manifesto and the deselection of candidates who will not pledge themselves to vote for those policies.

    We might, if we can, release some other European countries from EU/Brussels bondage. A strategy of staying inside for a while to wreck it, playing the role of Perfidious Albion, is what I have in mind. We would need allies, more than just the Czeck republic. Students of history will recall how disruptive Irish Nationalist MPs in the Commons were before Ireland got its independence.

  90. cachaciero
    August 19, 2012

    Methinks the plot has been well and truly lost and Mr Redwood along with most / all? Politicians of the last 40 years should be wearing sack cloth and ashes and facing charges of treason.
    The problem is not the EU per se, the problem is successive governments of both major parties who have sold this country down the river over the years, being economical with the truth or out right lying when there was no other option.
    Before we do anything we need a major overhaul of our political systems such that MP’s and government are truly accountable to the people they purport to serve, Then we can tackle the EU, confident that whatever direction we go in it has the support of a population that has signed up to the short term hardships that a major change of our relationship with Europe would undoubtedly bring.
    I for one under the current political system would have no confidence in any Government elected under it for getting us out of the EU in an efficient manner that works for UK rather than Brussels /’ Paris.

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