The end of UK influence in the world?

 

         There have been some absurd statements and articles about the way the UK will cease to have influence, now we have decided not to use force against Syria.  If anything, the contrary is true. We have a better platform now to influence the debate in the US, and to play a bigger role in diplomacy and peace brokering.

          The idea that we will lose influence is based on the preposterous Foreign Office and Chatham House doctrine that the UK only has influence in the world if it agrees with any proposal the USA puts forward, and only has influence in the EU if it agrees with everything the Commission wants. Clearly the authors of this dogma do not understand the meaning of the word “influence”. Were the US Congress now to turn down the idea of military intervention in Syria, that would indeed show the influence of the UK Parliament on world affairs.

          If the UK receives a phone call from the USA telling us what they plan to do by way of military intervention, and we agree to help, we have not had any influence over the decision. If the EU tells us we will turn up a discuss a new law on a stated topic when we have no wish for any such law, we have no influence. The establishment insiders confuse “influence” with “inside knowledge of an other’s intentions” which they like to have. It is easiest to get this inside information if you always agree with its impact on you and do not “make trouble” by disagreeing. The UK in the last decade just seemed to give in or go along with anything coming from either Washington or Brussels.

                  Some of them argue that if we accept the strategic decisions of the US/EU, we can then have some influence over the detail of how it is done. That may be possible, but it also may not work. We are either in the position where we have a little influence over the tactics, but none over the strategy, or in the position where we are simply taking dictation from a  superior power.

                If we want to have more influence over what happens in  foreign policy in the wider world then we need to have our own often distinctive policy, and argue for it through NATO, the UN, with our US ally and the rest. We will have influence when we have a good proposal backed up by good arguments. We will have influence when we command votes at the UN, or support within NATO, or persuade the US to our position.

                  When it comes to having “influence in and through the EU” that was made extremely difficult by the abolition of many vetoes over policy. It is far easier to influence an EU policy or law if you have a veto, than if you are inside and likely to be crushed by majority voting. The Foreign Office gravely weakened this country and its scope to influence events by so heavily backing Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. That is why we need to put a new relationship with the EU at the heart of  our policy. A new relationship with the EU is the only way to re-establish an independent UK policy.

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105 Comments

  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    If the Syria vote were in part the MPs taking note of the voters,and with the majority of voters hoping for a new relationship with the EU would it not be best to state clearly what you hope to be able to offer the voters well before the 2015 Election?
    Why would we vote for any party that is not prepared to state clearly the minimum it will accept so we can decide!!!

    Reply: I have said what I want by way of a new relationship well before the election. I am encouraging Mr Hague to do the same.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Why would anyone vote for Cameron, who admits his “Heart and Soul” in the EU, who does not want a Greater Switzerland on Sea (but cannot find any reasons why not), cannot even say what powers he seeks back, has ratted on his Cast Iron Guarantee , ratted inheritance tax promise, clearly wants to fight yet more counter productive wars, if allowed, and who says, very clearly indeed, “I’ll never campaign to take us out of Europe”.

      Also someone who has employed Ken Clarke, Chris Huhne, Ed Davy, Vince Cable and even puts Lord Patten at the head of the BBC Trust.

      What else does he have to do to convince us of exactly where he stands?
      How can such a person hope to negotiate anything at all?

      For good measure he is also wrong on the economy, wrong on green energy, wrong on the size of the state sector, wrong on immigration policy, wrong on the over regulation of everything, wrong on enforced “equality”, wrong on the NHS, wrong on employing Mary Portas, wrong on gender neutral insurance, wrong on HS2, wrong on airport runways, wrong on sound money, wrong on tax levels ………

      Reply Mr Miliband would be considerably worse than Mr Cameron. Mr Miliband would not have vetoed the Fiscal Treaty for the UK, would not have negotiated a lower EU budget, would not have strengthened Uk border controls etc.

      • zorro
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        John, that’s cheered us no end…..How lucky are we?….. 😉

        zorro

      • Bazman
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Basically he is wrong on not pursuing a neo liberal conservative agenda that is not extreme enough for you despite this agenda producing the divided society that we have today with the average person facing an ever increasing onslaught of living standards and expectations. Your energy agenda is to be sustainable and viable for the next 2oo years because you presume so miraculous scientific breakthrough such Father Christmas is going to solve the problem as an example. Wrong. The next scientific breakthroughs will be expensive and hard won. Right wing fatalism such as your has no place and dressing it up as reason fools nobody especially me. Greater Switzerland? Again? How do you square this middle class Germanic society and its absurd regulations laws and spying on one neighbour with Britain? You must answer this. (etc ed)

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          The UK could actually be far more successful than Switzerland with the right policies, just turn nearly all Cameron’s policies round by 180 degrees.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

            More fatalism and fantasy is not going to work.

      • Hope
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        No, Labour would be equally the same as Cameron. Cameron wants to mimic his cherished hero Mr Blaire. He also, out of choice, chose former Labour ministers to write policy reports for him. However, Mr Miliband might be who you think will get in power. I prefer to think UKIP will gain votes from all three LibLab Con. There is no difference between them and people want change that they will not get from any other party. Cameron has confirmed he cannot be trusted with the economy, EU, Immigration and only seeks to alienate his supporters. He does not “get it”‘ but he will have to go because the public do not want him.

        Reply No poll concerning General Election voting intentions has got anywhere near UKIP winning a few seats, let alone winning a majority.

        • Hope
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          Promoting Lynton Crosby’s strategy that it is either a choice between the two incompetence Cameron and Miliband is short sighted and wrong. Tere is no difference between them or their parties. Petty party politics JR. The mood is against Cameron and if you are not aware of it then you are hiding your head in the sand.

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            The electorate will surely prefer Miliband, he is clearly dreadful but he is not a proven serial ratter and his word still has some value. If he promises a referendum, say he will cancel HS2 and goes for cheap energy then he will wipe the floor with Cameron. Even without he will I suspect. Even though he is the voice of Unison and the state sector.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          UKIP can not win power at a general election even if they come first in May 2014. Too many always have always will voters and party inertia.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            Plus most see them for what they are. Turbo Tories.

      • Boudicca
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        So we can have Cameron : wrong on everything, completely untrustworthy and be trapped in the EU.

        Or we can have Miliband: wrong on everything and completely untrustworthy (etc ed) – and be trapped in the EU.

        Or we can vote for Farage and feel clean.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          That is indeed the choice.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Surely they are wrong on linking interest rates to the unemployment rate and on the government underwriting of mortgages too.

        Do these people ever learn? Apart from (almost) abolishing HIP packs, the M4 bus lane and squatting has Cameron done much that is actually positive?

  2. colliemum
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    This is meant with the saying ‘the chickens coming home to roost’: “The UK in the last decade just seemed to give in or go along with anything coming from either Washington or Brussels.”
    After decades of politically correct education, where our kids have taken up the dogma that all cultures are of equal merit, that we as a country are institutionally racist, that we as a country have to atone for our dreadful, imperialist, colonial past – what do we expect? Those kids, who have been taught to despise what Mrs Thatcher did, who cringe when we mention the word ‘patriotism’, are now in the FCO and are forming our policies and advising the Foreign Secretary.

    That is why utterly insane policies such as getting along with Brussels unquestioningly are promoted, and in fact are institutionalised.
    That is why the latest insanity about arming the rebels in Syria was pushed and taken up by Mr Hague, and why they advised to drop a few missiles on Syria to ‘punish’ Assad. That is why they unquestioningly fall for ‘democracy = good’, regardless that those who use those labels are all but – thus Libya, thus Egypt and the support for the Muslim Brotherhood, thus Syria and the proposal for us to support Al Qaeda formations in Syria.

    On top of which these advisers seem to know less about how the political system works in the USA than we do, and seem to formulate their policies only according to what the ‘progressive’ MSM in the USA write, never looking outside ‘the Beltway’.

    So there we are …

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      As was pointed out last week by someone else we need to recognise that the British way is not necessarily the best way and we need to become less ethnocentric in our view of how the world should work and how people should live their lives.

      I was down visiting a friend in hospital last night, she is in between a lady from Britain and another from Somalia. We were amazed at the non stop stream visitors the Somali lady was getting, who did her nails, fluff up her pillows and see that she was generally well looked after. In comparison my friend noted that the British lady next to her had yet to have a visitor and will presumably die of cancer alone. So when it comes to how we care for the elderly, are some not cultures inferior to another? Is the British way of dumping the elderly in a home or letting them die of hypothermia the morally superior route that should be emulated by all?

      To sum up this ethnocentrism and thinking that we have the truth and the way as to how people should live their lives is at the route of why we keep walking into deadly traps like Iraq and Afghanistan.

  3. Nina Andreeva
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    This week’s “Any Questions” is worth a listen on iplayer purely just to listen to the chickenhawk Nick Boles. He claims Britain is a great moral force in the world because of its willingness to get involved in misadventures such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Personally I do not give a toss. I am sick of seeing some grieving mother being interviewed on the news about the death of her son in Afghanistan. The chickenhawks will say the deaths of British soldiers are necessary because Afghan girls need to go to school They know fine well too that once we leave, the mostly drug addled and illiterate Afghan army will melt away into the hills and if (any “guilty” leader ed) does (not? ed)get away quick enough, he too will be strung up from the nearest lamp post
    like Najibullah was when the Soviets left.

    If the UK wants to emulate anyone it should be the Scandinavians who put their armed forces to good use through peace keeping in the world rather than war making. Britain has more than enough influence in the world with its cultural legacy. For example when I am abroad I find, for example, ordinary people are more interested and impressed by the prowess of our football teams than our ability to blow things up. If anything our martial prowess is a hinderance rather than an asset to both ourselves and the people we are out to “save”.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      I recall Blair talking about the need for a “blood sacrifice”.

      But not his blood, of course.

      • zorro
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Interesting, I wonder if he was inadvertently giving too much away…..I do remember that he wrote his autobiography with the aim of donating the profits to soldiers who fought in his wars.

        I seem to recall that he agreed with the usage of the words ‘blood sacrifice’ in relation to its links to the ‘special relationship’ with the USA. Mr Blair, aka Middle East Peace Envoy, becomes stranger by the day……

        Michael Cockerell – “one of the elements of the special relationship for the Americans is that Britain is prepared to send troops to commit themselves, to pay the blood price. Do you recognise that?”

        Tony Blair – “Yes. What is important though is that at moments of crisis they (the USA) don’t need to know simply that you are giving general expressions of support and sympathy….That is easy, frankly. They need to know, `Are you prepared to commit, are you prepared to be there when the shooting starts?”

        zorro

    • peter davies
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      you mean the chickenhawk politicians who would not even think of letting their own kids join the armed forces?

      • nina Andreeva
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        no they just line them up a safe seat

      • Boudicca
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        They’re all too busy lining up to become MPs and get on the taxpayer-funded gravy train for life. Jack Straw’s son is the latest wannabe MP.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    “A new relationship with the EU is the only way to re-establish an independent UK policy”. Indeed but it is not going to happen in any serious way under Cameron types is it? In the highly unlikely event that Cameron ever wins an election, then he will clearly just find a fig few leaves and then the CBI, the bureaucrats the EU, the BBC, come charities, Labour, Libdems and the Tories will do all they can to win the referendum by scare stories on 50% of our exports etc. Thus causing the final end to what little remains of UK democracy and self rule.

    Nick Boles, yet another Winchester/Oxford PPE, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government was again rubbishing the Switzerland by the Sea view on Friday. One assumes his plan is for the end of the UK and for the EU to hold all the serious power. With UK just having local government to decide on how to collect the rubbish, while of course still complying with the EU land fill, recycling rules and taxes. One wonder what word they will use for the “subsidiarity” con this time?

    Reply Most Conservatives are after a lot more than fig leaves from the renegotiation.

    • William Long
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I wish I could be confident that the desire for more than fig leaves applied to most of those around the Cabinet table.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      To reply:

      It does not look as if they will get anything but fig leaves from Cameron, anyway he surely cannot win, he failed to beat Brown. Miliband is clearly worse (very slightly), but harder to beat than Brown. He does not even have a level electoral playing field. Nor does he have any real record of success in any area.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Cast Iron has already used the absurdly transparent and pathetic fig leaf that a treaty, once ratified is magically no longer “a treaty” but part of EU law.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      When most of the service are in the hands of mercenary private companies even this fantasy is wrong.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:29 am | Permalink

      Most Conservatives are after a lot more than fig leaves from the renegotiation. However, they will only get it if:
      (1) They publish their ‘red lines’ in their 2015 manifesto and put a pistol at the head of the EU negotiators. ‘We get this or it’s OUT’; and
      (2) Conservatives who won’t sign up to this will not be parliamentary candidates.

      Mr Redwood, how sure are you that you can deliver this? It’s not reasonable to give Mr Cameron an entirely free hand with the negotiations, bearing in mind the British experience with Harold Wilson’s ‘fundamental renegotiation’.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    The First World war was 100 years ago now. The Second World War, when we lost our Empire, is half a century ago. We are now powerless and deeply in debt. I do not think Mr Mugabe or President Assad is really quaking in their shoes, do you?

    We are now a very minor and decaying offshore island off Brussels, full of out of date Socialist ideals, with an educational system that seems totally divorced from real life and the needs of industry/manufacture and menial jobs.
    But do we care?
    Not a lot.
    (Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Norway, Switzerland even Bangkok are places I have visited recently. I cannot help comparing them with my own divided and decaying little country.)

    Reply I think you are too pessimistic. We do possess considerable weaponry which we need to use with skill and sense, and have a large and growing economy.

    • alan jutson
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      I understand where you are coming from Mike.

      It certainly feels like we have fallen behind when you travel a lot, and see first hand what is going on elsewhere in the World.

      Certainly agree John that we should stand our ground more often, no matter if we are thought of as a reduced World player or not.

      We keep on hearing that we have one of the best foreign office contacts in the World, with our huge range of embassies and experienced foreign office staff, but it does not seem to be putting itself to much use, if all we intend to do is poodle along with the EU and the US at every turn.
      If that is all we intend to do, then we may as well close all of these expensive buildings, make all staff redundant, and rely upon Lady A something (sorry forgot her name) who is on a giant salary, to represent us in the future, heaven forbid !

      Yes John you ARE RIGHT, we need to be more independent in thought and deed, but we need to take off the shackles of the EU and untie ourselves a little from the US.

      No point in being in a so called partnership (it is not that at all) if you cannot disagree from time – time and allow each to do their own thing in THEIR OWN INTERESTS occassionally.

      We many well be the fourth most powerful military Nation on earth in weapons terms, but we simply do not have the wealth to sustain its use anymore, so we need to rethink our policies in new terms, in what will eventually be a new World order.

      • Mike
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Our military spending may be 4th but it is poorly used.

        In fact a lot of the defence budget ends up in European collaborative projects are effectively just another EU tax.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          Indeed military procurement and organisation is often appallingly inefficient, in common with most of the state sector – aircraft carriers with no aircraft.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

            (Using external contractors like -ed) Serco and G4 is efficient and prudent?

          • zorro
            Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            John has written a useful piece here – We are an ‘influential’ country still, but it stems from our independence of action and skills of diplomacy, not unquestioning obedience.

            We have the fourth largest military budget and are a permanent member of the UN Security Council…..quite good leverage when all is considered and when used properly.

            With the US, you have to sometimes ‘treat it mean to keep it keen’….

            zorro

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

            @Bazman

            The government choose which private sector contractor they use and agree the contracts. They are clearly to blame if these do not work well.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Being done up like a kipper as they have no real knowledge of the complex industry or services required is indeed the governments fault for using contractors only out to make money. If you want it like that.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      @Mike Stallard ‘ …with an educational system that seems totally divorced from real life and the needs of industry/manufacture and menial jobs….’

      An interesting idea. Do you mean, in our Brave New World, some people do not need an education so they can be prepared for the a lifetime doing menial jobs?

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Yes just like the former Soviet Union, Upper Volta with missiles

    • ian wragg
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Well said Mike. I have spent most of my adult life living and working abroad. The worst decision we ever made was settling back here a few years back.
      Watching our awful leaders spouting their fake green credentials and constant capitulation to Brussels, I despair. John is a very educated and talented man but he continues to support such (people ed).

      Reply I do not support capitulaiton to Brussels as my speeches and votes makes clear. Nor did I vote for the Climate Change Act.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        As far as I can see anyone who can vote for something, as daft as the climate change act (or even HS2), is totally unsuitable to hold any decision making positions at all. They clearly can have no understanding of the physics, the engineering or the economics of the issues involved.

        Oxford PPE graduates and emotional, PR, sound bite, magic money tree, spin merchants one assumes.

      • zorro
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply – We know that John, but we admire your resilience/fortitude even indefatigability in the light of the calibre of some of your parliamentary brethren…..

        zorro

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          Indeed we do.

  6. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I miss the distinction between the USA and the other organisations that you mention, in that the USA is a foreign power but that you are (part of ) the EU, Nato and the UN even though foreign nations are part of those as well.
    Obtaining instead of abloshing more vetos in the EU will make it a less effective organisation and that, in stead of more subsidiarity, is not the way to go. If the UK doesn’t like that and were to get a new relationship with (but no longer within) the EU, it will not give it more influence. It may than rightly see the EU as a foreign power (like the USA is a foreign power) and it will have as many veto’s over EU policy as it has over USA policy.

    Reply Clearly we would have more influence over what we do and a better relationship if we were outside the EU than in it on current terms.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: I find that difficult to predict. More influence over what you do – certainly, but more influence over what the EU will do – certainly not.
      I cannot prove what would serve you best in the long term, becoming a leader and driving force in the EU, or a totally independent nation outside. My guess is that in the EU will be better and that many young British will think so too, come a referendum.

      Reply History tells us that European countries drift out of or break up unions – the Roman empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Catholic hegemony, the Scandinavian union, the Latin and Scandinavian currency unions, The French empire, the attempted German empires of the last century, the Soviet eastern European union, the rouble bloc etc. A majority of UK voters do not wish to be paying servants of another attempted European union.

      • APL
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Peter van Lueewen: “but more influence over what the EU will do – certainly not.”

        Incorrect.

        Norway is not in the EU, it is at many of the intergovernmental organizations that frame international regulations that then get interpreted into European Union regulations.

        In this scenario Norway has more influence than the EU.

        The UK could too.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          @APL: I don’t think that e.g. Norway’s WTO membership gives it more influence of what the EU will do, than if it had been an EU insider, sitting at the table where EU decisions are made.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:38 am | Permalink

        Peter, continental Europeans are lovely people. We want to trade with you, take holidays in your countries, admire your history and culture. It’s just that we don’t want to share institutions of government with you.
        Why do you find this simple point so difficult? Many of us want also to drive nails into the coffin of organised religion and it’s much easier to do this in one country than in a Union dominated by the Church of Rome.

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Hi Peter, I read that you are very pro-EU can you explain to me what you believe the EU role is in this protection of innocents in Syria? Who do we pay in the EU to decide what united force is required?

      I read above the Scandinavians are the peace keepers, what are they doing? Why does the UK have to join in with this action if France has stepped up to the plate? If Hollande is happy to join in with this then all good and well. Just what are rich and powerful Germany doing about this situation?

      Do any of the other EU countries support UK military intervention financially?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        @a-tracy: I read that a third of Syrians have become fugitives and lack basic care. Don’t you think that the EU could do far more for these people. The EU might do more in term of sanctions and put pressure on Russia China and other countries to form a common front towards a political solution. Personally I don’t believe in a military solution, and I doubt that my country (the Netherlands) would support or participate in a military solution, at least at this stage. For many the reason being that no military solution is deemed possible.

        • a-tracy
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          That’s my point Peter, I do think this is one aspect that the EU should be beneficial for the UK but it isn’t is it. No-one seems to be co-coordinating an EU response to this crisis yet we pay people in the European committee, heads of this and heads of that and they can’t even suggest what sanctions and pressures the EU should apply, so what is the point of being in the EU?

          I don’t believe that the UK needs to be involved in the proposed military solution that Obama threatened unless we were consulted before his threat was made, and as I said if France, apparently the USA’s number one ally, are prepared to get this resolved then good its about time other major countries in the EU step up. If the EU members want to use the UK as a EU armed response force then there should be a mechanism in place to compensate the UK for the costs incurred for doing so ( including a contribution towards the support, disability and pension cost of anyone injured or killed whilst performing such a duty for the EU ).

          Why would the Netherlands be asked to step up when the UK covers everyone’s backs without any recompense to our costs. There must be some benefit for the UK after our politicians over the last 100 years signing all our freedoms away (something I don’t agree with but now its done I want to see the benefits from it).

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      “Obtaining instead of abloshing more vetos in the EU will make it a less effective organisation and that, in stead of more subsidiarity, is not the way to go.”

      We know all about that “subsidiarity” ploy, Peter, having had it from Major and Hurd at the time of the Maastricht Treaty; and having seen a recent example of how the “strengthened” provisions put into the EU treaties through the Lisbon Treaty work it has been confirmed that “subsidiarity” is not worth the proverbial bucket of spit.

      On January 7th the Commons had a debate about a proposed EU Directive to impose gender quotas on company boards.

      Starting at Column 52 here:

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130107/debtext/130107-0002.htm

      The upshot being that at the instigation of the government and with the support of MPs the Clerk of the House was instructed to send the EU Commissioner Viviane Reding a “reasoned opinion” objecting to her proposal because it breached the principle of “subsidiarity”.

      But it made no difference: our Parliament was outvoted by other national parliaments and the Directive is going ahead anyway:

      http://euobserver.com/justice/118749

      “Most national parliaments in EU countries say the European Commission should go ahead with a law on female quotas on corporate boards. But six disagree.

      Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told press in Brussels on Wednesday (16 January) the consultation with MPs was not about the content of the proposal, but about “subsidiarity” – the question whether a given problem is best tackled at EU or local level.”

      We will remember this if Hague claims that by dint of hard negotiations the UK government has extracted stronger rules on “subsidiarity” and starts blathering about “red cards”.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Pushing harder for subsidiarity, together with allies, is bound to have some effect in my view. Wait for discussions on Britains EU membership, after the German elections are over.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

          Peter, the principle of “subsidiarity” always has been and still is and always will be nothing more than a worthless sop.

          As one Tory MP put it back in 2005:

          http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/vo050209/debtext/50209-26.htm

          “We heard again the tired argument about this new power for national Parliaments over subsidiarity.

          That is not new; we can object already. It is certainly not a power, as we can object all we like, and the Commission can go on ignoring us.

          All that we get in this constitution is a new right to be ignored.”

          What we need and want is not this “new right to be ignored”, but the right of exercising a veto which cannot be ignored.

    • ian wragg
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Are we bovvered what the EU will do. (Especially without our hardware) No we are not.

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Yes we need a new relationship with the EU. Influence is a multi layered concept. The UK has not only to influence, but it has to be seen to have influence. People are born with an empty perception of moral values ( as far as I can determine) and for survival soon learn what they do not like and project it on to how they treat others , by a combination of learning from parents and instinct. So many share these early formed views of the world it becomes difficult to establish who has influence and who does not have influence, so what then becomes important,for the sake of power, is to demonstrate the influence.
    As in academia and many find unfair,show becomes an important factor. This show has to underpin the best of moral intentions to be acceptable ,therefore needs to be underscored in treaties and laws with the option to mutate when it becomes obvious that it does not suit present circumstances.

  8. Andyvan
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Maybe we need a new relationship with the Foreign Office too.

    • cosmic
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      There’s the old joke about the American who was walking along Whitehall and asked a policeman which side the Foreign Office was on.

      The policeman replied, “They’re supposed to be on ours, but it’s often hard to tell”.

  9. Cheshire Girl
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe a word of it! This is being said to embarrass the UK government. There is already talk in the Telegraph this morning of pressure on David Cameron to return to Parliament for another vote. Seems some people are not going to take No for an answer. On Newsnight on Friday an American gentleman (whose name escapes me) said that the result of the vote would make no difference to the cooperation between the USA and ourselves. Gavin Esler seemed disappointed at this answer. The media are having a field day with this one!

    Reply The Times and a couple of peers want another vote. The government has made clear they are not going to hold another vote – and for one very good practical reason. If they tried a vote to authorise the use of force in Syria they would lose it by a much bigger margin than their bland motion of Thursday last.

    • Michael McGrath
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      It’s just as well that messrs Barroso, Van Rompuy et al are not involved or they would be instructing David Cameron to have another debate and vote to get the “right” result!

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        And “Heart and Soul” would surely obey at the double.

        • zorro
          Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          I see that Boris thinks that the House should look at it again…..

          zorro

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–As things stand of course that is obvious and unarguable, indeed doesn’t need saying (certainly not loudly, making relations worse) but too much doesn’t have to happen to change all that. Item: Proof that Assad responsible. Item: More and maybe bigger gas attacks. Item: Assad admitting, and perhaps even boasting about, his “achievements”. Unnecessarily foreclosing our options is entirely typical of this hopeless Government. Assad is appalling but the alternative seems worse. Maybe if “we” had sided with Assad from the start instead of sending arms to those wishing to overthrow him we wouldn’t be in this mess. What our hesitation should have been about is getting involved in any way shape or form in the first place for it was nothing to do with us. Hague in particular got this spectacularly wrong, no question.

      • zorro
        Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, was Assad a danger to UK national interests? I think not. We could have actually exercised some useful ‘influence’ in the area.

        zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      To reply:

      Thanks goodness for that. I hope very much that you prove right. You have been right on most issues over the years but this rarely seems to count in politics. Just a shame that the Tory Party and House of Commons so rarely listens to sense and reason.

  10. Gary
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Foreign policy in both the UK and USA was hijacked in the early 90s by a bunch of neocons who preach democracy but actually pay no attention to it. These people have their roots in Trotskyism revolution. They laid out their roadmap for empire in a paper they released in the mid-90s from The Project for a New American Century.

    The only antidote to this madness is to turn to to real democratic consensus, and that is what Cameron and Obama appear to be doing. You only have to see the hysterical reaction to this by the neocons to see that this is the correct path.

    • zorro
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, but they are pushing hard for another vote and to find new ‘evidence’. Could it be that the Syrian Army had been firing in the area and inadvertently hit a rebel chemical weapons store?

      I also see that NATO has stated that the Syrian Army was responsible…..I am not sure if this is my suspicious mind, but if there was a ‘chemical attack’ on Turkey, do you think that the US would intervene ‘legally’ under NATO auspices….?

      zorro

      zorro

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    It is far too early to talk about loss of influence – I predict that following EU-best-practice that motion on Syria will be presented to the Commons again and again until the “right” outcome is achieved and we can join the USA in launching an attack.

    • matthu
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      You don’t feel that were Cameron to lose another similar vote on the same issue, he might be pressured to resign?

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        No, next time he’ll get a firm commitment from Milliband that Labour will support it – read the newspapers today, the softening-up by ministers to prepare us for another vote is already well underway.

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I am more worried about the massive failure of the immigration policy, and the fact the bad news of the new figures was released on the same day as parliament was recalled as a good day to bury bad news. The public are not that stupid.

    • zorro
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, net migration went back up quarter on quarter by c25,000 pa to around 176,000. The explanatory notes suggest that this was because emigration faltered…http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23878689

      zorro

  13. Mike Wilson
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    It ought to be so easy to take the pulse of the nation on this. You could probably ask 80% of the population, electronically, if they approve, or not, of military action against the Assad regime.

    Some things we delegate to our elected representatives. Deciding to kill innocent people on our behalf is not something that should be delegated. WE should have a say on this.

  14. Bryan
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Would Messrs Cameron, Hague, Obama et al be so gung ho if the perpetrators were, for example, Russia or China? Hypothetical I know but nobody seems to have asked the question in public!

    • Richard1
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      No we did not hear either the same outrage nor the same calls for military retaliation after the massacre of 2000 innocent people in Tianaman Square. That’s fair enough though, we should only threaten military force when its a practical option. The moral outrage is therefore selective.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Some people like, Ashdown and Rifkind for example, seem to think that we only have influence if we make military strikes against other countries. Just what the outcome of such military adventures is not known but it makes them feel good to know that we have “punched above our weight”. If innocent civilians are killed or we replace one tyrant with another, as bad or worse doesn’t concern them. How about showing some leadership and influence by trying harder to resolve disputes without recourse to military action. Our government has taken sides in a civil war. Instead of taking sides at the outset and encouraging, helping and wanting to arm a disparate group of rebels against the Syrian government it should have worked harder to help find a peaceful solution.

  16. Bob
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “re-establish an independent UK policy”

    I like the sound of that. UK independence.

  17. Chris
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Your comments about QMV and how we are powerless are particularly apt with this morning all the upset about the EU and speed limiters. For an authoritative analysis of the situation see
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84296
    EU regulation: speed limiters are on the way
    “…Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is said to have “erupted” when the proposals landed on his desk. If the paper (The Mail) is to be believed. he has told his officials to block the moves.
    A Commission report is now expected in the autumn, and then, possibly, there will be more legacy media coverage. But, no matter what the media do and how much the politicians squawk, the die was cast once the members states agreed to Galileo and allowed it to be funded.

    Now the system lies within the realms of possibility, it will be used. And with road safety being an EU competence, agreed by QMV, there is nothing UK politicians can do to stop it, even if they wanted to. And despite McLoughlin’s protestations, the UK is already making the technical preparations. Far from trying to stop its introduction, it looks as if our Government is an enthusiastic partner with the Commission….”

  18. James Sutherland
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Since not attacking Syria apparently renders the country irrelevant, has anyone asked how Russia and China feel about their new-found irrelevance?

    I was pleased to note John’s name on the list of those voting against the motion, and the public reaction in the US seems a lot more positive than a lot of media and political commentary here seems to have expected.

    If merely disagreeing with a course of action – let alone trying to dissuade others – means we “lose” influence, did we ever really have it? Anyone could rubber-stamp the demands of another, and pretend that means they are in control, but when did we last change the outcome of something – real influence? Too long ago, I fear, as John says.

    • Chris
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Mr Redwood did not vote against the motion. He abstained – rather different.

      Reply I spoke against military intervention and was ready to vote against any motion seeking authorisation for military action.

  19. Dan H.
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    To be honest, I think it is about time we opened our eyes and looked at how our near neighbours the French do things. France seems to have an inordinate amount of influence on the EU, and a hitting power way above what one might predict that it ought to have. France after all has spent much of the last few decades teetering on the edge of Socialist-induced disaster (and working out precisely why they’ve never gone under would be good thinking exercise for our Labour colleagues).

    However, most of the French influence comes from sheer stubborness. The French do quite like saying “Non!” to all and sundry and whilst over here this has little influence, it does seem to work very well indeed on the EU. What also helps is a degree of unpredictability; if another country cannot really work out ahead of time what we will do in any given situation (as is often the case with France) then negotiations tend to be much more polite and a good deal more diplomatic space is given.

  20. Bert Young
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Britain’s standing in the eyes and opinion of the world was emphasised by a few back benchers who decided they should stand up and be counted . Events now show how important it is for the integrity of the individual to resist pressure and to stick to their own judgement .

  21. Martin Ryder
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Shades of the EU! If the results of a referendum are not liked by our imperial masters then another must be held immediately so that a proper result can be obtained. We must NOT act like them.

    A vote has been taken in the UK Parliament, which I consider to be only legislature on the planet that should determine the UK’s involvement in foreign wars, and their decision must be accepted, as it was by the Prime Minister. What a marvellous piece of political theatre that was in the dying moments of the debate: both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition came out of that moment very well I thought.

    I believe that a different decision might have been reached if the debate had been held this week but that was the Prime Minister’s mistake and one that cannot be undone. I am against intervention in Syria, basically on the grounds that (a) Syria is not a country whose internal affairs we are responsible for; (b) it would cause more bloodshed, (c) it is highly unlikely to deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future and (d) could broaden the conflict. No one knows how this will play out.

    If the vote in Parliament had gone the other way I would not have expected another debate and vote to be held just to change it to one that I approved of.

    Reply THis week would have produced the same result unless Mr Miliband changed his mind again. There are plenty of Conservatve MPs who are against military action who would vote against any motion authorising the use of force, which Thursday’s motion did not try to do.

  22. JimS
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    We need to be like Norway where we can have our own seat on UN committees (and even chair them!) to initiate policies that the EU meekly follow.

    If all the ‘leaders’ in the EU just follow the line of the Commission and the aims of the Treaties then there is no point in having ‘leaders’, which, of course is the whole point of the EU: One Commission, One Folk.

  23. peter davies
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    With little knowledge I have of the FO – coupled with Mrs Thatcher’s frustration broadcast recently in Thatchers years it seems therein lies the root of the problem, the FO and their mandarins so a root and change of the culture in this dept perhaps is needed.

  24. Terry
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I totally agree with you John.

    So, how can we rid ourselves of these “establishment insiders” before they do any more damage to our country? Are they elected or merely appointed by the PM? If the latter case, Mr Cameron should have a cull of his own and turn UK plc around.

  25. cosmic
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    One of the things which dragged us into the EU was a lack of faith in Britain following the loss of empire and a desire that we have a ‘seat at the top table’ and all the rest. It’s also partly an explanation for the fondness for military adventures in the ME.

    The point of having influence is that you can see your will done.

    Having a junior seat at the top table, bought by going along with all sorts of things which are not in your interest, is hardly influence. It allows various people to flatter themselves that they are important.

  26. sym
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling that this “get the Parliament/Congress/etc approval” business is new. If there were votes before, they were much more informal and consultative, and now they seem much more binding. And the most important thing about such votes is that they’re far more likely to be “no” compared to the unilateral gung-ho decision of a President or Prime Minister decided to play war and impress his leadership upon the swooning masses.

    The West (and in particular the US and UK) is also much more aware of how bankrupt it is. The social-democratic states revolving around entitlements and thus running colossal annual deficits which have added up to literally unimaginable debts, borrowing and printing money far in excess of what has ever been attempted before, all these things leave an imprint in the public opinion and politician’s minds – no matter how irresponsible and cynical they are. The West just cannot afford military action so easily.

    Then we have the failed nation-building experiments of Iraq and Afghanistan. The failed “Arab spring” which turned sour everywhere – more likely to lead to terror Islamic states and largely socialist, state-run economies rather than rule of law, democracy, freedom and capitalism.

    Then it surely looks like Assad is a bad guy, but it’s not clear at all if his opposition are the good guys. Plenty of evidence indicates otherwise. And this is not just Syria.

    So in conclusion I’d disagree with you. The influence of the UK is waning. As it should, since it’s a fundamentally bankrupt country and a progressively smaller fraction of the global economy, while the various conflicts in the Middle East are enormously complicated. Democracy and prosperity cannot be bombed in. If after the gigantic effort in the Afghanistan campaign the most likely outcome – after the troops are pulled out – is a return to the Taliban rule, why bother doing it to begin with?

    The Parliament’s vote reflects this. It’s a combination of:

    (1) it’s expensive and we can’t afford it
    (2) our past similar efforts have ended in failure anyway
    (3) there’s an increased awareness that intelligence is flawed and the “dictator – bad guy / rebels – good guys” narrative is just a fairy tale and thus military action is unlikely to actually produce a good outcome.

    Or what influence does one have when even the unaffordable, prohibitively expensive armed interventions cannot produce the desired outcomes?

    This is a recognition of the lack of influence.

    Reply The bigger question is how much influence over the Middle East does the USA currently enjoy, with all its military firepower?

    • sym
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Not much, particularly with Obama at the helm. Not only is he virtually lacking any flair for international relations (and leadership in general), but he’s been busy digging their fiscal grave while brandishing his class warrior credentials. Matches his BBQ buddy over here quite well.

  27. David Hope
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    “the preposterous Foreign Office and Chatham House doctrine that the UK only has influence in the world if it agrees with any proposal the USA puts forward, and only has influence in the EU if it agrees with everything the Commission wants”

    Never was a truer word spoken. The foreign office in this country is often intellectually lazy, showing little desire to construct coherent, independent policy.

    Much easier to go to lots of expensive dinners and conferences, mixing with US and EU colleagues, agreeing to everything and feel satisfied with yourself.

    • zorro
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      I thought that this was one of John’s more incisive posts on an area, foreign policy, which is not always considered very often on the site. John has mentioned some of the usual suspects who have been very bellicose over the years, FO, Chatham House, RUSI, amongst others, without seemingly considering British national interests.

      The post also addresses the ‘seat at the table’, ‘influencing decisions at the centre of Europe’ type arguments by showing that influence and merely agreeing with the majority are different things. Influence means that you actively assist in decision making instead of just supporting a decision which has been made.

      zorro

  28. matthu
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Jim Murphy, shadow defence secretary, displays his complete lack of any grasp of statistics:

    The unusual thing about Thursday’s vote is that most MPs voted for an in principle policy of not ruling out military action in the future. The Labour policy attracted 220 votes and the Government motion won the support of 272, meaning that of the 550-odd MPs who voted 492 supported a version of conditions-based potential use of UK military force if very tight criteria had been met.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2013/sep/02/syria-mps-politics-live-blog1

    If that is the best that an MP can do, what hope for the rest of us?

  29. Neil Craig
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    That the US is now going to invoke the constitutional requirement that Congress must assent to war, is a remarkable change from recent practice. Not since WW2 has Congress been allowed this voice – and most notoriously, Clinton fought a conventional war against Yugoslavia for 3 months with no reference to the Constitution.

    This is entirely because of Britain. That is influence.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Correct, albeit the result of the Commons vote was to some extent accidental, we may be helping the Americans to return to the democratic principle laid down in their own Constitution, which successive Presidents have contrived to ignore or circumvent. And that will be the case even if Congress supports what the President says he wants to do.

  30. Toby G
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I agree, but with Syria its a right mess and one we could do well to stay clear of.

    Some of the ‘evidence’ is also fast unravelling
    According to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak, (the chemcial weapons were an accident by the rebels ed)

    And this is someone that isn’t just fresh out of journalism school. As Paul Joseph Watson noted, “Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.”

  31. Terry
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Of course we have lost our influence in the world and as long as we are ruled by Brussels, it will continue.
    The unelected EU President is not an impressive figure, yet he has the power to control the UK. The International community must see this insignificant person ‘in charge’ of 28 nations (Including the UK) under the EU banner and what else can they deduce but the EU has no influence over anything and that Europe’s individual nations are reduced to nothing but nodding sheep.

    Remove Britain from the EU and regain world recognition. There is no alternative!

  32. oldtimer
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    You make good points with which I agree. We have witnessed an apparent abdication of responsibility and consequent loss of influence in the matters you describe. It is difficult to see how this will change without significant changes in mind set, and probably in personnel, in the executive and in the civil service. That seems unlikely in the short term unless voters continue to give those in charge a good kicking – preferably out of office..

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    That new relationship with the EU has to include an end to all aspects of federalism. A repeal of our Accession to the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties is needed. Since we acceded to all of these treaties without referendums, why do we need a referendum to reverse these accessions?

  34. uanime5
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off topic but I was wonder how is the plan to make children continue to study maths and English until they’re 18 if they don’t get a “C” at GCSE level going to work? Are A level students going to be forced to attend GCSE classes (assuming that it’s possible to timetable this)? Are they going to receive extra lessons, in which case how much extra will teachers need to be paid for the extra time? What is the point of these pupils doing any work when there’s no mandatory assessment to motivate them (retaking their GCSEs is optional)?

    I’m also surprised that Gove is calling for this since he was initially complaining about pupils repeatedly taking exams until they get a good grade.

  35. forthurst
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    “The idea that we will lose influence is based on the preposterous Foreign Office and Chatham House doctrine that the UK only has influence in the world if it agrees with any proposal the USA puts forward, and only has influence in the EU if it agrees with everything the Commission wants.”

    From the Chatham House website, “Independent thinking on International Affairs”, Hillary Clinton has been gifted with the extremely prestigious “Chatham House Prize”. Hillary Clinton’s “Venimus, Vidimus, Mortus est” will reverberate down the centuries and she will no doubt be rewarded for her loyalty as the neocons’ spear carrier by a term or two in a future Democratic White House. Where would we be without such ‘outside the box’ thought processes?

    Using extremely expensive and lethal weaponry to kill people abroad whom we presumably believe to be completely harmless as we encourage them to immigrate en masse and multiculturalise us at home, strikes me as a policy which is totally insane. I can only believe there are some extremely stupid or extremely nasty people directing are international and domestic affairs. Having a mighty arsenal did not prevent the Soviet Union collapsing. We cannot rely on might of arms to substitute for coherent domestic and foreign policies, policies which can create a secure and prosperous future for an independent people. We will not have influence in future if we have become subsumed into the EU and act as supplier of cannon fodder to further the neocons’ megalomaniacal ambitions. We will not have influence since we will have ceased to exist as a nation or a people.

  36. John Wrake
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood.

    You are right in your assessment that Britain needs a new relationship with the E.U. What needs to be reconsidered is the method to be employed to obtain that change.

    The current government, under a prime Minister with a legacy of broken promises, speaks of a re-negotiation of the current terms of membership, but without any detail of what needs to be changed. Re-negotiation will perforce be between this country and a majority of European nations who have clearly and consistently stated that a re-negotiation of membership terms is not possible. Since it takes two to tango, re-negotiation is not an option.

    The damage being done to this nation by those of our political leaders who will not grasp the nettle of regaining our sovereignty, fraudulently given away by those without the right to do so, must stop – and without further delay and obfuscation.

    We have no wish to dictate how our European neighbours run their affairs. We do demand of our own leaders that they enable us to run our own country and get rid of those who will not listen to the electorate and take heed of clearly expressed wishes.

    John Wrake

    Reply If the rest of the EU does refuse to negotiate with a Conservative government, if one is elected in 2015, then the British people will get an early referendum on continued membership and can vote to leave. None of this will happen without a majority Conservative government.

  37. Acorn
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Arizona Senator John McCain lamented the decline in Great Britain’s geopolitical muscle, especially given what he called the neutrality of the United Nations in response to chemical weapon attacks in Syria. “I feel badly about the British,” he told host Jay Leno. “They’re our dear friends, but they’re no longer a world power. It’s just a fact of life.” (nbc.com)

    Rue Britannia: A cock-up wrapped in a muddle inside a shambles. That’s as good an explanation as any for the extraordinary scenes in the House of Commons Thursday, Aug. 29, as parliamentarians defied Prime Minister David Cameron and voted to ensure British troops will play no part in any military action in Syria. A chastened — and angry — Cameron acknowledged that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action — I get that.” Not since the Suez crisis has a British prime minister been so humiliated on a question of foreign policy. “You’re a disgrace; you’re a disgrace,” Michael Gove, the education secretary and a foreign-policy hawk, screamed at rebel Tory MPs after the result was announced. (Washington Post-FP)

    It’s influence JR, but not as we know it. (Spock)

  38. matthu
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    The telegraph is telling us “The European Commission has warned of a slide towards “blatant and uncontrolled protectionism” across the world as emerging markets defend themselves, warning that abuses by Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, China and other key states pose a growing threat to global recovery. ”

    What a surprise!

    The EU slaps tariffs on Chinese solar panels and then moans when other countries hit them back?

    The EU tries to impose a tariiff on every single plane simply overflying Europe (all in the name of preventing global warming, you understand) and moans when other countries hit them back?

    So emerging markets are beginning to protect themselves againsts the bully-boy tactics of the EU, are they? Whoever could have anticipated that!

  39. John Wrake
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Reply to my comment at 5.21 on 2/09:

    Mr. Redwood,

    Your answer to our problem rests on an unlikely outcome of an election two years off and a promise by an unreliable Prime Minister with a record of broken promises.

    It will not do. If Commons procedure will not allow you to do anything else, then Commons procedure, as presently applied, is not fit for purpose and must be changed.

    We hear terms such as Royal Prerogative and Parliamentary Democracy bandied about, but they are sops to the ignorant. We live in a Constitutional Monarchy, not a Parliamentary Democracy. The Royal Prerogative does not belong to the Prime Minister, though successive governments have prevented the Queen from using it.

    Parliament must return to the Rule of Law – Law which is being consistently broken.

    John Wrake.

    Reply Parliament is about constructing majorities for helpful or popular policies. The voters chose a Parliament with Eurosceptics in a minority, so we are where we are.

  40. StephenO
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    With the US I can’t but help feel saying no for once will actually improve what influence we have, as saying yes all the time can lead to our support being taken for granted.

    The US has seemed to put its relations with Argentina above those with the UK at times, which surely is a sign they did not feel the need to worry much about their UK relations. As does their vocal support for EU integration.

  • 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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