The Foreign Office needs to understand why we need a new relationship with the EU

The Foreign Office was keen to get the views of a range of states and people likely to praise the current state of the UK’s relationship with the EU. In doing so they seem to have overlooked the views some of us were putting to them regularly in the Commons and elsewhere explaining why the current relationship is unacceptable to most UK voters and is not in the UK’s national interest. The Foreign Office also seem to have ignored the Prime Minister’s own Bloomberg speech, which made clear it is now government policy to negotiate a new relationship with the rest of the EU. Surely one would only do that if you had already agreed that the current relationship is not working.

I wish to explore how this new relationship can be defined and brought about. Let me begin today by reminding the Foreign Office what they should have picked up from the debates in Parliament in recent years.

The Conservative party in opposition opposed the Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties. We did so willingly, as a united Parliamentary force. We did so because we thought these Treaties transferred far too much power from UK democracy to EU decision taking. We did not accept the loss of 68 vetoes over important policy areas at Lisbon, the loss of 46 vetoes at Nice and the loss of 24 vetoes over key areas at Amsterdam.

The arrival of Conservative Ministers in office has not changed the Conservative party’s view on the unacceptability of these Treaties. The need for Conservative Ministers to reach an accommodation with Lib Dem enthusiasts for the EU does not mean the Conservative party has now given up its principled and fundamental opposition to the mass transfer of power recorded under the previous government in these three large Treaties.

There is also a strong feeling amongst many Conservatives that vetoes sacrificed on a lesser scale under previous Treaties in the name of promoting freer trade have not lived up to billing or should no longer go unchallenged. Far from fostering more trade, these qualified majority votes are all too often used to impose more regulation, backdoor taxation and charges on business activity. There has been a continuous erosion of our right to settle decisions democratically at home, and put the results to the British people in elections.

Conservatives are not looking for some minor adjustment of powers, or the amendment of a few directives to settle a new relationship. Just as the name implies, most of us want a very different relationship to the present one. We want to preserve and foster trade with the continent, which is as much in their interest as well as ours. We did not wish to be locked into collective decision taking across most of the range of government activities before the Euro started to place greater pressures and tensions on the EU. Now the Euro members are seeking even more intense unification, seeking political as well as monetary and economic union, it should be obvious to all that the UK, a non Euro member, must have a new relationship with what emerges.

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80 Comments

  1. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Never heard a credible comment yet on how eg Canada manages perfectly well without being homogenised in to America. If you ask a Canadian you’d be sectioned. Where oh where did this mindset of inadequacy come from that we are saddled with–this coupled with a combination of stupidity and just plain mendacity? Think of Mr Peter Hain saying that Lisbon was just a tidying up exercise. Would be humorous if weren’t so serious.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      I remember K.Clarke using that phrase in one of his rambling, knockabout, unequivocal comments about Lisbon and all things EU on Questiontime or the like. Perhaps it was the recommended propaganda to keep the populace calm and not panicking Corporal Jones style.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Firstly the relationship between Canada and the USA isn’t similar to the relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU.

      Secondly the US and Canada are involved in several unions, such as NAFTA.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        @U5: Indeed it isn’t similar, that is the problem, if only it was – and I suspect that was Mr Singleton’s point!

  2. Jerry
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    In doing so they [the FO] seem to have overlooked the views some of us were putting to them regularly in the Commons and elsewhere explaining why the current relationship is unacceptable to most UK voters and is not in the UK’s national interest.

    Well it would be nice to know what the nation thinks, if only someone would actually ask us directly, the only judgement the FO can make is on the last GE voting figures…

    The Conservative party in opposition opposed the Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties.

    But did support the Single European Act and Maastricht Treaty when in government, without either no of the later treaties would, could, have existed, ho-hum… It could be said that whilst Labour used to be the party opposed to the EEC/EU it was the Tories who signed us up lock, stock and smoking barrel, and since then Labour has simply been attempting to make our membership work – and of course as the EU has moved towards the political left many in the Tory party now don’t like what was previously done in their name – with a few notable exceptions were were all these descenting Tories between 1975 and 1997?

    The arrival of Conservative Ministers in office has not changed the Conservative party’s view on the unacceptability of these Treaties.

    It might not have changed the Conservative Ministers or even the parties views but the government is not a Tory one, this thus begs a wider question, should the civil service within the FO panda to the party political or to some wider (inter-)national view. If policy is to be made in a political parties central office why even bother having such government departments, isn’t one of the function of the Civil service to protect government from its self?

    There has been a continuous erosion of our right to settle decisions democratically at home, and put the results to the British people in elections.

    Not sure if that is true, it is just that no UK government since 1975 has dared ask the question of the British people at the ballot box!

    Just as the name implies, most of us want a very different relationship to the present one. We want to preserve and foster trade with the continent, which is as much in their interest as well as ours.

    Sounds like you want us to remain members of the ICC/TCCB but want the our own club to start playing Baseball, is there any real prospect of that, can we really expect to stay active members. Are we not simply heading to the reserved area of the stands with our associate membership card in hand, no longer able to influence the game of Cricket nor play the game of Baseball?

    Reply Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon transferred far more power than the SEA or Maastricht – Labour sacrificed 138 vetoes, Conservatives 42.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      @JR reply: Indeed but without the foundations of either SEA or the MT UK, European and perhaps world political history would be very different, that is the point far to often glossed over by eurosceptic Tories (I know that some spoke up at the time and continue to do so), indeed had there been no SEA (or MT negotiations) there would have been no “Black Wednesday” ERM crisis. Sorry but until the Tory Party takes a long hard look in the mirror and confront their own mistakes (both economically and politically) in relation to the UK’s relationship with the EEC/EU they will never be able to compete with either the UKIP or Labour, attempting to be all things to all men simply doesn’t cut the mustard any more – if it has ever.

      I want the EU referendum, I want it before 2015, if it is not held before June 2015 then the next election WILL be about nothing other than the EU (even more so should the Tories not do well in the 2014 Euro elections), the Tories will once again loose votes to the europhile and europhobe parties, thus it will comes down to who the middle ground swing voters see as more popular, Ed or Dave, one with no record or someone defending tax cuts for millionaires and the “Bedroom Tax”…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Margaret Thatcher set the precedent that having gained the consent of the people to a certain contract you could then make radical changes to that contract without any need to refer back to the people. Not just the wholesale abolition of national vetoes when it had been explicitly promised that the UK government would always have a veto, but also the inclusion of other countries – Greece, Spain and Portugal – which were not part of the original deal. And that is how it has carried on since she set that precedent, with more and more national vetoes abolished, more and more powers transferred to the EU, and more and more countries being added, and all without either a Tory or a Labour government ever thinking that the outcome of a general election fought on multiple issues, and often with very little mention of the EEC/EC/EU issue during the election campaign, might not be sufficient mandate for destroying the basis for the popular consent gained in 1975.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      The FCO is not fit for purpose and there should be radical removal of its leadership and key positions from decision making. We are all aware that it has hidden agendas of an “ever closer union” as with its secret FCO report 10/3048 from 1971 by stealthy incremental steps so the sheeple wouldn’t notice.
      Article 50 Lisbon treaty is the only solution to the EU problem and Cameron’s renegotiation nonsense is just kicking the can down the road.
      Trade and friendship with Europe, not the EU integration, mass migration, control and directives all at huge costs in net costs and our health, education and public services.
      We want our democracy back.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Timeaction–Article 50 is their solution not ours and if we go down that route we can only leave their way and on their terms which personally I can do without. In all history, when rulees have thrown off their rulers it has by no means always been by prior agreement to put it mildly. We should tell them we have decided to leave and be perfectly polite about it with adequate notice and if they don’t like it, too bad.

        • Sean O'Hare
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Article 50 is their solution not ours

          Sorry, but we are signatories to the Treaty so it is ours too!

          Article 50 allows for negotiation so I don’t see why you should interpret it as leaving “their way”, surely it is “the negotiated way”?

          We should tell them we have decided to leave and be perfectly polite about it with adequate notice..

          That is exactly what Article 50 provides for.

          The only problem with Article 50 as an exit strategy that I can see is that the FCO will be given the job of negotiating on our behalf. That would be fatal! I would like to see a negotiating team to include our host JR and Dr Richard North of EuReferendum.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Sean–We only signed because of ignorance, stupidity, self-interest and mendacity, so it doesn’t count. I agree the FCO are beyond the pale in this matter.

      • sjb
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        The report published a few days ago that appears to have disappointed some Eurosceptics can be found at the following: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/call-for-evidence-on-the-governments-review-of-the-balance-of-competences-between-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      We elect MEPs to look after our interests in the EU. When the majority of the EU wants something different from the UK minority why should we have a veto? It is essential that the number of areas where we have a veto is reduced.

      We should spend a lot less time and money trying to change and adjust decisions that have been made by the majority in the EU.

      We should be working to ensure more democracy within the EU rather than to avoid decisions that have been taken democratically.

      • Sean O'Hare
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        We elect MEPs to look after our interests in the EU

        You are labouring under the misapprehension that the EU is in someway democratic and that the European Parliament makes the laws.

        • uanime5
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          The European Parliament does make laws. Just because some europhobes claim that all EU laws are entirely created the European Commission doesn’t make it true.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        “why should we have a veto?”

        Because we are a “proud sovereign nation”, © Prime Minister Tony Blair September 2006:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5382430.stm

        and a proud sovereign nation does not willingly submit to unwelcome decisions made by transnational majority voting.

        And moreover it is what was promised by an earlier Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1975 when he was urging the nation to vote “yes” to staying in the EEC:

        http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

        “The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

        Which was not entirely true then, as inter alia the annual EEC budget was already decided by majority voting under the 1957 Treaty of Rome, and is rarely true now thanks to the surrender of vetoes through subsequent amending treaties starting with the Single European Act pushed by Thatcher.

        Of course if you are one of those disaffected persons who no longer see themselves as part of our proud sovereign nation then for the present you are free to think that your primary allegiance is now to the EU, without any fear of being put on trial for treason, because while you would be in the company of only a small minority of the British population you would be protected by a large majority of their elected (and unelected) representatives in the British Parliament.

        “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Regarding JR’s reply, there is no reason not to repeal Maastricht. We are allowed to change our minds; if that would entail some Wets resigning from the Conservative Party, so much the better.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        Lindsay McDougall: “if that would entail some Wets resigning from the Conservative Party, so much the better.

        Do remember that it was the “wets” who saved the Tory party from certain defeat in 1992 (and thus a return to the old style Socialism that was the Labour Party before Blair), many a dry contributed to the 1997 defeat, it has been the disgruntled “drys” who have resigned from the party and joined the UKIP who stopped a Tory Majority in 2010 – your rabble rousing talk might go down well within the right of the Tory party and the UKIP but it has gone down like a lead balloon with the electorate over the last 20 or so years…

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted July 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Name me a Wet Conservative Prime Minister who has ever won two successive General elections. MacMillan? Heath? Major? I think not. Once they were rumbled, they were toast. In the present climate of opinion, Europhiles are a millstone round our necks.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: Irrelevant and you know it, the facts are that in the 2010 GE more seats were won by europhile parties than eurosceptic or europhobic…

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    What about the Maastricht treaty ;did you disagree with the signing of this? I actually did have faith in John Major. I thought he was forward looking, but the slippery slope began. I am not sure whether it is too late to turn back at this stage . We are already overcrowded. Even our own’ born here Brits’ want to pull down our heritage and go grey suits. Unfortunately I feel that all is lost for the British.
    I went to Tatton Hall RHS show yesterday. There were some beautiful floral displays, but tradition was lost. The hamburger , hot dog and paella stalls were in profusion , when I wanted to see strawberries, raspberries, fresh home grown salad stalls and a reminder of our natural richness . Perhaps we should just let it all go to foreign cigarettes, cheap lager and curry and learn to live amongst kebab litter and grubbiness.

    Reply I voted No in 1975, tried to persuade Mrs Thatcher not to sign the SEA, and opposed Maastricht in Cabinet.

  4. Nina Andreeva
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    JR why is the Coalition not proposing that some sort of exam in commons sense be included as part of the FCO’s recruitment process and elsewhere for that matter? Here is a super example from New Zealand showing how a government can work efficiently in the interests of its citizens.

    Albert Buitenhuis is (an overweight ed) chef from South Africa, to whom the NZ government has said that because of his weight he is likely to be a drain on on their social services and therefore he is not getting his work permit renewed. No consideration has been made to any international human rights laws that NZ may be signed up to, he is going and thats that. NZ hardly has the reputation as being the natural homeland for heartless hardline conservatives such as me, in fact most commenters here would say they have never met a “nasty” kiwi. So why can they get it right and we cannot?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23475583

    • Jerry
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      @Nina Andreeva: How says the NZ government have got it right when 30% of their own nationals are overweight. If this person is paying their NZ taxes what if the difference between an overweight foreigner and a overweight Kiwi requiring health care treatment?

      Oh and be very careful of spreading xenophobia, not with a family name like yours…

  5. Richard1
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The solution presumably will have to be a face-saving ‘win’ for the pro-EU side which actually delivers the UK a Switzerland type deal in practice. Using the fact that we are not only not in the Euro, but (unlike the other non-euro countries) not committed in principle to be, the UK needs all sorts of special carve-outs. We can trade those in a negotiation against continued ‘membership’ and support for the EU’s integrationalist measures (which won’t apply to the UK). But this is only a credible negotiating strategy if there is an In-Out referendum. That needs a majority Conservative govt. This should be a good dividing line at the next election.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      A majority conservative government is at least seven years away and probably seventeen + thanks to Cameron’s EU ratting, ever bigger state, high tax, hugely wasteful, quack green, expensive energy by design, over regulate, say one thing do the other, anti growth and anti democratic government.

      I cannot see Labour sorting the boundaries out in the Tories interest after 2015 after Cameron failed to.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        A depressing view. I agree the failure to get boundary changes through is a disaster. There are some other good tricks to pull though. What about an English parliament consisting of English members of the HoC to vote on all English-only issues as the Scottish parliament does on Scottish issues? Would be very popular and another good dividing line. Dumping green policies would be another huge vote winner. Cameron has signed up for some nonsense in the past but he’s a skillful politician and might find a way of dropping the leftist rubbish by the election.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          But he has saddled himself with the Libdems he can do nothing sensible at all even if he wanted too.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: Without the LibDems Cameron and the Tory party can not do anything at all (sensible, or not), other than ask people for their votes at the ballot box – again…

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      A majority conservative government is at least 7 years off more likely 17+. Labour are hardly going to level the constituency boundaries when Cameron failed, all thanks to his lousy deal with the Libdems.

      Who will vote for a proven ratter, tax borrow and waste, quack green, high tax, expensive energy by design, say one thing do the other once elected, anti democratic, anti growth, over regulate, heart and soul pro EU leader who could not even beat Gordon Brown? Miliband is dreadful but far harder to beat than Brown was and Cameron had some credibility then, now he have none.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      The problem with a Switzerland type deal is that the UK would still have to obey almost all EU law, would no longer have any influence over this EU law, and would lose access to the service sector of the EU (Switzerland can trade goods within the EU but not services because they haven’t been able to negotiate a deal with the EU).

      • Edward2
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Ah the “obey” word again Uni.
        A very significant use if the word.
        Anyone reading that might think the EU was some kind of ambitious dictatorship.
        Surely not.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        I was thinking of a Switzerland – type deal from within the EU meaning the UK would retain some input – for what that’s worth. The single market has not extended to services. It is increasingly difficult to conclude that the supposed influence over regulation from being an EU member out-weighs the undoubted benefits of flexibility over everything from trade deals to regulation and taxes from being outside the EU. A UK exit would be a massive failure for the EU project. Therefore a special deal, retaining nominal membership, might be possible.

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    The problem is that you write about “Conservatives” and “the Conservative party” holding certain views on the EU which are being ignored by the Foreign Office, but it is clear that the man in charge of the Foreign Office does not share those views.

    When Hague was Tory party leader in opposition his mantra was:

    “In Europe not run by Europe”.

    Which of course was itself deeply flawed, as it is obvious that it if you are in the EU you will increasingly be run by the EU.

    But now that Hague has got his officials to embark on an exercise to check whether the present “balance of competences” is supposedly “correct”, then evidently his previous mantra should be amended to:

    “In Europe but only run by Europe to the correct extent”.

    Not so snappy, I agree, but reflecting the fact that Hague will now be content provided that his studies show that we have about the optimum level of subjugation; more or less the right measure of the eurofederalism he has previously claimed to oppose on principle, not too much but not too little, a kind of Goldilocks scenario.

    As you say, when in opposition he repeatedly claimed that the Lisbon Treaty would give too much power to the EU – references can be provided if necessary – and that treaty is in force, so how can it turn out that the balance of power between the EU and the UK is now roughly OK?

    Has Hague now realised that before the Lisbon Treaty came into force the EU actually had too little power, and in fact that treaty made just the right adjustments to the balance of power for it now to be almost perfect?

    So is it just as well that he and Cameron did not persist with the oft-repeated “we would not let matters rest there” threat, because if the people had been given a retrospective referendum and had then rejected the Lisbon Treaty the balance of power with the EU would have been too much in favour of the UK?

    There is no consistency, and no honesty either.

    • APL
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: ” and no honesty either.”

      That’s the Tory party for you, it makes its living by lying.

      There is a general election looming. It is trying to portray itself as Eurosceptic and our host who knows that is not the case is obediently playing along.

      JR: “The Foreign Office needs to understand why we need a new relationship with the EU”

      Which of course is disengenious nonsense! We are *in* the EU and obliged by the treaties to behave in a particular way. The foreign office:

      1. knows it is only doing the bidding of successive administrations.
      2. If it were not, it’s a failing of political direction that it does not.

      • Mark B
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        +1

  7. lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    One assumes that the Foreign Office have decided that Cameron is just making skeptical noises for the electorate and anyway will be gone in 2015. Also one presumes they have William Hague’s support for these actions. I have not heard Cameron or Hague complain of these dreadful but typical F/O actions.

    Alas they are right Cameron can indeed not be trusted one inch to be genuine in negotiations he has not even said what he wants to negotiate.

    I understand the government now have rather unpleasant vans touring certain areas with messages for illegal immigrants to leave, one assumes as part of their election strategy but paid for by tax payers but perhaps I am too cynical. I cannot see it working, either electorally or in reducing illegal immigration.

    I suspect they will still come third to UKIP in the MEP elections in May 14. This mainly because no one (not even the Foreign Office it seems) believes Cameron renegotiation is other than a delaying electoral ruse, nor that he is anything other than, a say one thing do the other EU ratter. We judge him on his actions even his Bloomberg speech was very pro EU membership. His actions, his heart and soul, his no to a Greater Switzerland all say he is a pro EU person who promises a referendum then rats on it, a fake green pro EU, big state Libdem at heart.

    You say “Conservatives are not looking for some minor adjustment of powers” but Cameron has not said what he want to negotiate at all. I suspect that a minor adjustment fig leave is exactly what he seeks. After all he clearly does not want us to become as rich, independent or democratic as Switzerland or Norway.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    On another point, JR, could you put your hand on your heart and swear that there is no contact, no collusion, between Roland Rudd and government ministers and other senior members of the Tory and LibDem parties?

    Or are we to suppose that when Hague gets the next unsolicited letter from a foreign government saying that we should stay in the EU, he will be really angry and maybe make that clear in this kind of outburst to his officials:

    “Damn (whoever got ed) the South Koreans to send me this letter saying that we should stay in the EU, which may easily leak into the media and could help to persuade some people that we must stay in the EU”.

    Or possibly the Canadians, according to the report in the Daily Mail.

    Of course once upon a time we would once have laughed at any suggestion that the government might be colluding with an outside group in that kind of way, before we realised that it is happening all the time and can even involve the government handing over taxpayers’ money to favoured lobby groups so that they can more effectively lobby the government in the way that the government wants.

  9. James Matthews
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    There is an old and tired joke that that it is called the Foreign Office because it works on behalf of foreigners. Sadly, that now seems to be more of a descriptive observation than a joke.

    • sm
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Smoke and Mirrors and misdirection.
      The foreign office is controlled by the UK government , which is acting against the UK electorates interests in attempting to delay a UK exit or referendum. The letter may as well be addressed to the relevant minister and cast iron dave.

      • James Matthews
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        The Foreign Office, like all civil service departments, should be controlled by the UK government. In reality, is the elected part of the UK government always in control? Undoubtedly not, although you may be right in this case.

  10. Edward.
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    The Brussels tango.

    I find it to be a credulous position, thinking that somehow Britain can negotiate a ‘repatriation’ of competencies back, has no one heard of the acquis?

    Verily! The Tories are the innocents in all of this, I rather think not John.

    The Foreign office gave up the ghost after WWII, this capitulation to a union, any union and away from splendid independence coalesced when Ted forced marched us into the arms of Brussels, without a by your leave – remember he was a Tory PM.

    With the EU, there will be no re-negotiation John, they [Brussels] will not dismantle a process commenced before the Treaty of Paris (1951) was signed – it’s not logical or, in their [Brussels] eyes conceivable.

    Mr. Cameron, wants pie-in-the-sky, he also plays fast and very loose with the truth, one wonders whether he is truly seeking renegotiation or, is it all just a duplicitous charade?
    A charade, where Mr. Cameron plays both to the gallery in Westminster and to Brussels, he should be talking earnestly to Berlin – awkward of course with the forthcoming German national elections.

    A merry dance indeed.

    Then, what is left to those who know that Britain’s best interests lie in independence and freedom from alien political interference?

    The only method Brussels will listen to – is ultimatum – there is a way and its named the Lisbon Treaty, inserted by Giscard d’Estaing – it is named article 50.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Camerons renegotiation is very clearly a duplicitous charade, it surely could not be anything else. What has he negotiated so far, what indeed is he trying to negotiate, he will not even tell us, it is a complete joke just like Cameron and Osborne’s promise on Inheritance Tax.

      They are contemptuous of the voters and are totally contemtible, how on earth they imagine they can do a thing but lose very badly in 2015 I do not know.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: What can Cameron negotiate, he will can not tell us because he needs to ask the LDs what they want/think first, if he goes behind their backs we will be at the ballot box far quicker than expected…

        UKIP and europhobes really do take the biscuit on this, they constantly criticise that Cameron hasn’t done anything about our membership of the EU but fail to acknowledge that they lumbered the Tories with a coalition were the balance of power is held by probably the most europhile party in the UK!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          Cameron lumbered us with the Libdems with his fake green, big state, cast iron ratting etc. and giving Clegg equal tv billing. he only had to ask me what to do and he would have won easily against sitting duck brown.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: Wrong. The facts tell us something different, in 2010 UKIP took votes from the Tories, meaning that the Tories came second were they would have won – heck UKIP and their leader (in waiting) even had the audacity to boast about the fact!

            Had Cameron not entered a coalition there would have been another election within weeks, the likelihood was that Cameron would have been seen as the person who blocked a coalition deal -or national government- meaning that Labour and the LibDems would likely have benefited.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

          Jerry,
          I seem to remember that it was Cameron’s decision to enter into a coalition with the LibDems – I wasn’t consulted, neither were you nor any other voter.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

            @Brian Tomkinson: I seem to remember that the Tory party failed to achieve the necessary electoral majority at the ballot box, and yes you were consulted, it was called the general election… I hear that a certain well know chain-store who sell everything for just £1 are thinking of stocking clues 😛

  11. Duyfken
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Sir John Cunliffe was appointed the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU, this just in January last year, and now he is off to the BoE as Deputy to Carney. This seems a very short spell as UKREP and I wonder if there are unpublished reasons. Further, will not the person selected as Cunliffe’s successor be a litmus test for us to assess the government’s intentions vis-a-vis the EU?

  12. alan jutson
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    The simple fact is John, that the Europhiles are already starting their campaign to try to snowblind everyone into their way of thinking, ready for the so called 2017 referendum (if it ever happens)

    I can just see it know:
    No more investment into the UK by overseas companies.
    3,000,000 jobs lost.
    No voice in Europe.
    Complicated trading terms if we are not members.
    Uk workers kicked out of Europe.
    No Health Benefits for UK residents living in Europe.

    So far you have done well to at least get as far as you have given the opposition (even within your own Party) but the real fight and hard work has yet to start.

    You and your like minded members of Parliament need to get some big hitters from business on your side of the argument to go public in support of the out/renegotiate campaign.

    I see from Press reports today (Mail on Sunday Marin beckford) that we do not count immigrants on entry, we just appear to interview 12 people a day, and ESTIMATE how many are arriving from their answers.

    The comment in the Press, Disney World has better technology than our border agency.

    From your posting yesterday about immigration figures/economy/GDP, were you even aware of this method of estimation of numbers.

    Sounds like another bloody fiasco if true.

  13. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    When I read the various Conservative positions (not just the eurosceptic ones) and read the Taliban accusations, it seems to me that the best way for the Conservatives to be united is to become the opposition again.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Peter

      Always easier in opposition because you are not in power, the cookies only come home when you get that power, if ever.

      As they say, a week in politics……..

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      What “Taliban accusations”, Peter?

      Some idiotic statement from somebody who started off supporting the Tory party, then got himself elected as an MEP on the Liberal Democrat party list, and then defected to the Tory party, which was foolish enough to accept him?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        @Denis: Obviously not a true believer 🙂

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Presumably the Foreign Office is working to Hague’s instructions. He kidded many of us that he was a eurosceptic but now we know that he, just like Cameron, is wedded to our membership of the EU and will do all he can to keep us there. The whole renegotiation idea is no more than a ruse and a copy of Wilson’s tactics for the 1975 referendum. Those determined to keep us in the EU at any cost are beavering away to ensure that, if a referendum is ever held (which is still not certain), just like Wilson, they will deceive the electorate and convince them to confirm their loss of self-governance to a foreign organisation. Conservative MPs who show such pleasure at Cameron’s plans and don’t want to see us entrapped in the EU need to start turning up the heat again before it is too late; or do they think that they have seen off the UKIP threat? If the latter, I think they are mistaken.

  15. Martin
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    “continuous erosion of our right to settle decisions ”

    Make a decision minister? Isn’t that the traditional British way to do something. Look at the SE England airport building saga. Goes back to E Heath’s time as prime minster. Form a committee. Produce report after the election. Then further consideration (by elections pending etc)). After that we have the running to courts – judicial review applications. Then another committee and another election.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Martin

      Same can be said of new power stations.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      So what would you prefer?

      Maybe you’d prefer it if the EU Commissioner for Transport issued a diktat:

      “I have decided that the Union needs a new airport at this location, that is what is going to happen, here are the plans, get started and build it.”

      • Martin
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Sounds a good idea to me. I hate flying round stacks waiting to get into Heathrow.

      • Normandee
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Not if directed from the Commissariat, but we need a National government to make a decision on a new airport and quickly, otherwise it will be too late again and like the M25 obsolete before it was finished.

  16. John Wrake
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    You state that the Conservative Party’s hostility to treaties which gave too much power to the E.U. has not changed.

    That statement does not accord with the well-publicised views of the Leader of the Party, nor with the voting patterns of Party members. It may be the view of a minority of Conservative M.P.s, of which you are one, but that minority is ineffective, as has been demonstrated on a number of recent occasions.

    The claim that the Prime Minister seeks re-negotiation of the terms of our membership, that he has promised a referendum in 2017 if he wins the 2015 GE are intentions which are demonstrably false. The Prime minister is as aware as every thinking person, that re-negotiation of membership terms is not an option, in view of the founding principles of the E.U. and the stated opposition of other European leaders. He is also aware that full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in 2014 negates any later referenda.

    When will sitting M.P.s cease pretending that they can affect what happens in any meaningful way while our membership of this corrupt organisation continues.

    The democratic principles on which our form of government has been built were denied by a Conservative Prime Minister, who gave away what he did not possess – the sovereignty of the people of this nation. No vote, no speech, no protest, no claim will be effective until that sovereignty is restored.

    It is time to return to the Rule of Law.

    John Wrake.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      “He is also aware that full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in 2014 negates any later referenda.”

      No, it is not true that “full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in 2014 negates any later referenda.”

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      I always find John’s articles informative yet I likewise enjoy the posted comments; they are also informative. John is repetitive in many ways and it eventually and slowly begins to sink in and from this point I can begin to question .

      You say Mr Wrake that perhaps we should return to ‘The rule of law’ but how is that today to be interpreted as this rule can be defined as a framework and can also apply to European law , similarly is can be applied to Sharian law with substantive social directions.

  17. roger
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    John, an excellent article as always. However, myself and many others are convinced that,
    whatever concessions DC might obtain in his negotiations (and they are sure to be few) he will campaign (together with big business, most MPs, most of the media etc) to stay in the EU. Unless he spells out some acceptable ‘red lines’ that will bring back powers to our parliament and leave us with just a trading and cooperation arrangement that we voted for all those years ago, he won’t be trusted and will not be given the opportunity to try.

  18. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, but if you will the end you also have to will the means. The Foreign Office is and has been for at least 50 years a nest of pro EU vipers and traitors. To force a change in their attitude requires a purge from top to bottom. If we don’t get it, all sorts of dark and inaccurate propaganda is going to pour out of the FO between 2015 and the referendum in 2017. During that interval the FO will , if unreformed, deliberately try to undermine the Prime Minister’s renegotiation by misrepresenting his position, by publishing concessions that he has not agreed to, and by encouraging their counterparts in Brussels to be as obstructive as possible.

    There will also be a chorus from the likes of Major, Hurd, Heseltine, Howe, Clarke and their young pro EU proteges, saying ‘Give up; renegotiation is too difficult; things aren’t too bad.’ That’s why we also need a purge of the Conservative Parliamentary Candidates list.

  19. Peter Stroud
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    A very good article that expresses the views of the majority of rank and file Conservatives. Cameron, and his EU leaning cabinet, had better not weaken in their demands, and had better not try to fudge the issues. If he does weaken, then ordinary Tories will joint UKIP in droves.

  20. Monty
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic, but I hope this latest outrage by Ashton and her gang can be deep-sixed.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/bruno-in-brussels-eu-unplugged/brusselsbruno/367/eu-planning-to-own-and-operate-spy-drones-and-an-air-force/

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      All reminiscent of the Orwellian 3 divisions world.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      I think that if the UK government wants to stop this proposal then it can.

      Under the EU treaties a group of EU member states cannot embark on “enhanced co-operation” without approval from the Council, and while in most cases that could be given by majority voting it still needs unanimity for anything “within the framework of the common foreign and security policy”.

      It’s worth noting that both the Eurocorps standing army and the Eurogendfor paramilitary force have been established by intergovernmental agreements outside the EU treaty structure:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurocorps

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Gendarmerie_Force

      and presumably a group of member states could also do that in this case, but then they could not involve Ashton or any other EU officials or institutions without the consent of the UK government.

      Perhaps JR can confirm that this is correct.

      Reply The legal interpretation of the Treaties is flexible in a federalist direction, as they are ultimately interpreted by the ECJ

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        True, but if the “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy” wants to get her hands on drones then I think it will be difficult for anyone to argue that her proposal is nothing to do with the EU’s common foreign and security policy and therefore a decision on “enhanced co-operation” can be taken by majority voting rather than needing to be unanimous. If the UK government went along with that and agreed that it didn’t have a veto then presumably it would go along with anything.

  21. uanime5
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I suspect the foreign office isn’t looking for a new relationship due to the difficultly that will be involved in getting the other 26 members to agree to this new relationship. Having less than 2 years until the next election also makes it more difficult to negotiate any new relationship.

  22. Normandee
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s getting more and more futile, and some people will give up, and that is what your conservative party is hoping for. I say “your conservative party” because it is isn’t it? right or wrong you are a conservative. There is going to be a massive pro EU programme that some think has already begun, not just for next year but for 2015 and 2017. The conservative party will support this and because you are inside the party you are powerless, a mere irritation that Cameron can brush aside, you haven’t got the numbers your 1 vote is valueless against a majority of Cameron’s arse sniffers. Will you support non conservative parties? No, you will keep making the same good but wasted stand from where you are.
    So what are you going to do about that “owt or nowt”? as they say in Yorkshire ?

  23. Terry
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Seems simple to me. Whoever runs the Foreign Office, calls the shots. And that is not Will Hague, it is a ‘Sir Humphrey’ clone. I fear that a succession of well intentioned Ministers have had been chopped off at the knees by those ‘permanents in situ’.

    Until we have a complete change to our political system, it will be those civil servants, behind closed doors, who actually run this country but in the way THEY see fit. The electorate, therefore, are treated with contempt. It’s time we chopped these desk jockeys off at the knees and let our elected representatives get to work for our benefit.

  24. Mark B
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    It is all very well out host condemning the Labour Party for signing the Treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. But let us not forget, that none of those treaties would have ever been signed had not a Conservative Government signed the ‘Grand-daddy’ of them ALL – The Treaty of Rome. It is this treaty that has opened the door and jams it fully open to all that came after it. It is this treaty that commits member states too “ever closer UNION.”

    And now our host recognizes this fact when he writes; “Now the Euro members are seeking even more intense unification, seeking political as well as monetary and economic UNION (my emphasis) …….”

    UNION !!! It was always there ! It is what the political class and the establishment want. The Maastricht Treaty created the European UNION. But, they now realise that they are likely to be written out of the political script, so want to use the British People to renegotiate terms that allow them to continue. We will not officially be absorbed into the EU but will be very much part of it. They only seek means to continue their own existence, they have no intention of ever leaving.

    Reply Don’t blame me – I opposed the Treaty of Rome and voted No in 1975 to it.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 30, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      I am NOT blaming you for anything, other than to point out that had the Conservative Party not taken us into the then EEC via the Treaty of Rome, we would not be having this conversation. And you would have been spared having to vote OUT some 2 – 3 years after we had already joined. And remember, it was the Labour Party that allowed you that vote, not the Conservative Party of which you are a fully paid up member.

      With the utmost respect sir, I think you may take some of us for fools. I am aware of your position. I am aware of your past and possible future voting behavior regarding this issue.

      What I take issue with is, the way in which you choose to present the facts. I understand your profession and your position and, will generally make allowances. I know that elections to the EU Parliament are due next year and our own GE the year after. I am well aware that you and members of your party would like to be returned with a majority Government. That is only natural and fair. But please, if you wish to be taken a bit more seriously, do not present things in such a way that makes persons such as myself, seem gullible. I am not !

  25. John McEvoy
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Whitehall is entirely in the business of providing protected jobs for, ahem, Whitehall ’employees’.

  26. They work for Us
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    We all need to get real about some Prime Ministers (Blair the worst) and members of the Foreign Office about our relations with the EU and other countries.

    Blair oh so wanted to be loved and told he was a frightfully nice chap by foreign representatives. Telling him so was cheap, giving up part of the rebate and other concessions was not. He did not put UK interests first. He should have though of Machaevelli who roughly said “I do not care about being loved but I will be feared”.

    The Foreign Office are similar to Blair and seek the adulation and reassurance of their foreign peers. They also do not ruthlessly put UK interests first. Their reaction to pressure to do so would be to say “We can’t possibly say that……”

    Finally other countries have their own interests and these may not be ours. Obama and the Japanese pm may want us to be in the EU because it is advantageous to their countries. We should decide if it is in our best interest only and ignore their blandishments.

  27. Chris S
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I would put JR, Bill Cash, Douglas Carswell and Gisela Stuart ( Yes, I know she’s Labour ) on the negotiating team alongside the Civil Servants.

    That would sort out the Foreign Office Luvvies.

  28. Ken Adams
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The parameters of the debate are flawed, we do not need a new relationship with the EU we are in the EU we are part of the EU.

    Why is this even a matter for Foreign Office, that department deals with external relationships, the EU is internal, it is our ministers who sit in the EU Council, our MEP s who sit in the EU parliament, we are also represented in the Commission and right across all other EU Institutions.

    Also if you listen to the arguments for “Renegotiation” Cameron and his team are not seeking a new relationship for Britain, but are looking to rebuild the EU, otherwise they would not be interested in getting agreement with and backing from other member states on certain issues. That being the case we can expect nothing from these negotiations other than a repeat of 1975.

    Instead of one faction in the consevative telling us what we need, what would we do when we fail, and how will we know when we have failed, because unless you can uniquvically bind Cameron to your proposals we will get nothing and know nothing.

    It is the same old story have heard for years, we want to remain part of the EU, just not this one!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      It’s still the Foreign Office because despite its pretensions the EU is still no more than an international organisation established by treaties between its sovereign member states, and those treaties fall within the purview of the Treaty Section of the Foreign Office:

      https://www.gov.uk/uk-treaties#uk-treaties-online

      “The Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) Treaty Section supports the FCO and other government departments with advice on practice and procedural matters relating to the conclusion of treaties by the United Kingdom.

      We also provide information on those treaties to which the UK is, or has been a party, including the UK Treaties Online (UKTO) service which is freely available to all users.”

      If you simply search for “european union” in that database there are more than 200 hits, the most recent being a “Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the One Part, and Mongolia, of the other Part”.

  29. Atlas
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    All very true John, however you omitted the point that the Conservatives (under the Sainted Mrs. T.) got us deeper and deeper into this quagmire.

    I want out, but I don’t trust Cameron to deliver either a seriously changed structure to the EU worthy of consideration or an exit strategy. His idea of the ‘National Interest’ is, deep-down, EU surfdom.

  • About John Redwood


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

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