A new foreign policy towards the EU


The Foreign Office has always had a passion to give in to anything European. They seem to see more EU government as a good in itself, and the UK’s destiny. They have been overwhelmed by pessimism about an independent UK, and by a love of the power the EU gives to officials at the expense of electors and their elected Ministers.

The new UK foreign policy we need would be based around the construction of a new relationship with the EU. That relationship would be based on trade and mutual co-operation where it made sense to do so. It would be outside the federalist treaties. It would restore the UK’s right to an independent foreign policy, borders policy, criminal justice system and much else.

The UK would have a new financial deal which allowed us to keep more of our own money, and took us out of the financial obligations of the EU Treaties.  We would  regain control of our own waters and fishing grounds.

The new relationship would still see the UK seeking to influence the EU and building alliances with it on matters of common concern. We would meet their standards for exports of goods and services to them, but be free to choose our own which might be different for our own domestic market and for other overseas trade.

The policy would require us to rebuild a complete chain of embassies and Ambassadors for the whole world, no longer relying on some EU Embassies to represent us. It would also of course free us of our share of the joint costs of the EU diplomatic service.  Any common defence commitments and interests with our EU neighbours would be handled through NATO, not through the EU.

Negotiating this should be the prime task of the FCO for the next three years.

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  1. Nina Andreeva
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Sorry John but I do not see the EU as being the bogeyman that you and the regulars here portray it to be. It was not the EU that allowed the banks to get out of control. It was not the EU that opened our borders wide open to anybody who could make it to Dover. Its not the EU that forces our soldiers into wars that are not in the UKs national interest. It was not the EU forced our schools to go to seed with a crap syllabus and joke exams. I could go on and on about how its really the fault of the political establishment in Westminster. The fault lies with their slavish devotion to a neo lib economic agenda which they still hold so dear even though it blew up in their faces in 2007/8. You could leave the EU tomorrow and the big problems that the UK face will still be there waiting for Dave and Co to sort them out. God help us!

    Reply It was a heavily regulated EU influenced system of banks which went wrong in 2008, nmot a competitive freee market system. The EU has a big role in the problems of our borders and banks. Schools and wars are down to Westminster.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      I beg to differ but after Sweden, for example, reformed its banks in the 90’s it seemed to survive 2007/8 unscathed without the EU poking its nose in. While with regard to our borders did we not go the extra mile and give the Poles more access than the EU required us to do so?

      Reply The UK did not enforce the possible transitional arrangements on Eastern |uropean migration, but has now to have open borders regardless. UK banks were partly regulated under EU rules, which may well have given UK regualtors a false sense of security.

      • Hope
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Cameron accepted the EU arrest warrant when he did not have to, he accepted the extra costs for Strasbourg not to upset France, he had the opportunity to make changes to the Lisbon Treaty in 2010 when in power,that he warned us about, and chose to do nothing, the veto that never was ie he was going to stop Eurozone countries from using EU institutions, he did nothing. You get the picture, Cameron talks a lot and does little. Further proof in the economy and spending cuts versus tax rises. All the hype about tax avoidance, how about the promised spending cuts? He is a waste of space. Three years in office and no change from Labour.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink


          Not to mention Cameron’s and the government’s total hypocrisy in complaining about tax havens and (morally repugnant) tax avoidance. While, through the non dom rules, running one of the World’s best tax haven’s going and tipping cash down the drain, hand of fist, on quack energy, HS2, over expensive libraries in Birmingham, soft loans to PIGIS and the IMF and totally counter productive wars.

          • Hope
            Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            While trying to claim elderly care is a big problem and one the government cannot afford. What a load of tosh. If the UK can afford EU contributions, afford over seas aid, endless wars, mass immigration, welfare increases of 5.5 per cent so it does not pay to work, then it can afford elderly care. Unlike MPs gold plated pay, expenses and pensions and then be given a hand out to go to the H of Lords. Meanwhile Davey peddling out his rot about wind farms, green energy and man made climate change. Yet he does not have any consistent evidence that climate change is man made. Pitiful to watch. I hope all pensioner, savers and the prudent give the lib Dems and Tories the poke they deserve when it comes to election time. Each time the electric bill drops through the door, each time they fill up their cars, each time the food bill goes up, each time the water bill goes up. Afghanistan cost about £3 billion last year, elderly care is estimated at £1.5 billion and yet the government cannot afford it!

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

            Did they not make yet another, as yet unfulfilled, promise of capping care cost for the elderly cost too?

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Anyway its nice to see you defending Brown’s “light touch” regulation that prevailed prior to 2007/8. The more I read of your stuff recently I am beginning to believe that your conservatism has been corrupted by Dave and the young ‘ins

        • libertarian
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Unfortunately Nina your lack of knowledge and awareness of the causes and problems with International Banking and global financial markets doesn’t really help your arguement

          • Nina Andreeva
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

            Examples please of my ignorance and whats your narrative of its causes?

          • Nina Andreeva
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

            … and sort your grammar out as well please!

          • REPay
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            There was never any light touch regulation. The FSA, created because Brown thought Eddie George might be a tory, had forests of regulations. However, no one there was looking at the system and the BoE was now looking at the economy – (badly it turns out, with its committee stuffed with Brown/Balls appointees.)

            Many middle ranking bankers could see the utterly obvious asset bubble coming in the mid 2000s, but when Brown deserted prudence (circa 2001) for splurge spending, he loved the City generated tax revenue and the money lent to the UK government, so that everybody looked the other way.

            In real terms the ONLY growth under Labour was in state jobs, state salaries, unfunded pensions and in personal borrowing for houses and imports. A classic debt bubble. The private sector was static or fuelled by debt…

            Would the Tories have done anything different? They would not have stripped the FSA out of the Bank of England. They would not have borrowed so recklessly and would not have bloated the public payroll to the extent Labour did. After 2005, when it was clear public finances were in a parlous state, some of us tried to get the party to talk about the public finances but this was deemed likely to frightened the voters. (Voters, like human beings cannot stand too much reality apparently!) If they had listened they might have been seen a prescient and won in 2010.

            This time if/when re-elected Labour will find it much more difficult to splurge or ignore asset bubbles because the UK can’t do another big bailout again. Maybe, though there seems no evidence of any learning taking place from Ed Balls, that a healthy economy needs a private sector, not just a public sector.

            PS Most of the after the horse has bolted legislation has made the depression worse. However, it pleases voters and officials tend not to have a stake in the real economy – even if there is a pay freeze you can get a promotion and your pension remains generous and index-linked.

          • Glenn Vaughan
            Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

            Nina: Don’t you mean “sort out your grammar” rather than “…sort your grammar out…”?

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            “sort out your grammar” rather than “…sort your grammar out…”? Who cares?

            “sort your room out” or “sort out your room” what is the difference?

      • Acorn
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        The EU had nothing to do with the 2007 Financial crash. That was down to successful lobbying by banksters that bamboozled self serving politicians in Washington and Westminster.

        There isn’t going to be any repatriation of powers. We will still be in the EU in 2020. We will probably be in the Eurozone by then as well. So stop kidding yourself and start taking holidays in Portugal, and see what our future will look like. And stop talking about “growth” cos we have nothing to grow but housing bubbles. Everything we used to grow was based or large amounts of government and household deficit spending. Every bright spot in the private sector is too small to make any difference to our GDP, and particularly our Current Account Balance.

        Most importantly, Michael (phrase left out ed)Gove, has slipped to 7 – 1 from 4 – 1, to be our next Foreign Secretary! Surely some mistake? I was looking forward to joining Dad’s Army here on the south cost. Stupid boy.

        Come to think of it, does the Border Agency have a Home Guard department?

        • zorro
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          The former agency does rely on a number of retired people to fill holes in its border and visa operation. I know some people who were retired and occasionally go back on a temporary contract.


      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply: interesting attempt at a new blame-the-EU narrative, but the communis opinio puts far more blame on the UK and the USA, even in the conservativehome blog I read: “The first simple fact is that the policy of the USA and UK allowed too much money into the economy, too cheaply, for too long”.

        Reply Euroland performed less well over and after the crisis.

        • uanime5
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          Only 3 eurozone countries have seen wages reduced in real terms by a greater amount that the UK and most of the eurozone countries are closer to their 2008 levels of GDP in real terms than the UK.

          While some eurozone countries have performed very badly the majority are doing as well or better than the UK.

    • Hope
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      JR, yesterday you were promoting the Lynton Crosby theme that it was a choice of the two incompetents Cameron or Miliband. Both are the same and both want the EU superstate. No choice. The only way the UK will get a change in EU policy is by voting for an a party that wants out of the EU, and the only choice on offer for this is UKIP.

      Reply According to current polls the choice will be between Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron for PM, so I describe the world as I see it. It is not as I would wish it to be,as I did not want a Coalition and I am not happy about Labour’s poll lead.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      For sure UK Govt’s have sought to in public deflect the blame for many things on to the EU when in most cases the UK Govt itself is the problem .

      As an example , successive UK Govt’s have pursued a deliberate policy of importing cheap labour from abroad in order to reduce wages in the UK .
      They attempted to socialise this subsidy to big business by benefits funded by taxes on the middle classes – but now the middle classes have no money left .

      Similarly the UK Govt consistently puts the interests of the UK financial services industry ahead of the interests of the British people themselves and resists any attempt by outsiders to curtail it’s negative influence whilst doing diddly squat to reform it themselves .
      Thus it makes itself out to be a villain in the eyes of its own people .

      The UK Govt actively puffs house prices to increase mortgage interest income for banks and denies it’s citizens access to a decent pension scheme in order to force them into the clutches of the financial services industry .

      The British Govt does an excellent job of making European countries like Holland and Germany look like the good guys and they do seem to treat their citizens better .

      Trouble is people equate mainland European countries with the EU and they are very different things .

      If the UK wants to be successful again it needs to stand up and be counted by starting to govern itself again after years of devolving responsibility for stuff it can’t be bothered with to the EU . This would be almost like a declaration of independence .

      From your name I suspect there is a high chance your family came from a country in the former soviet union .

      Do you have any worries about the anti-democratic nature of the EU leading to a tyranny and emergence of an over zealous secret police force ?

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        No I do not worry about the EU turning into something out of Stalin’s Russia. Try bossing around the French with their Jacobin tradition of taking to the streets when something annoys them.I am actually very interested in the works of the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas who says that if the EU sorted out its democratic deficit, it could actually become a great moral force in the world (the sort of thing the chickenhawks claim to want). Until that happens I am opposed to the EU, in its current form, as being just another get rich quick scheme for failed politicians from all over Europe and a general waste of everybody’s taxes

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          “just another get rich quick scheme for failed politicians from all over Europe and a general waste of everybody’s taxes”

          Indeed that, nice pensions, tax perks, fraud & corruption are clearly the main driving forces.

    • lojolondon
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      John, you are correct that the EU has a responsibility, but specifically – our former Chancellor split the BOE into three parts with conflicting responsibilities and instructed that ‘light-touch regulation’ was to be exercised. He personally has a great deal of responsibility for the failure of the banks. Evidenced by the fact that NOT ONE commonwealth country, all running on old, legacy BOE regulations, had to bail out a single bank.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I tend to agree with Nina.
      Dr Redwood expends too much time and energy criticising the EU. The main problem lies with our own government. A new British government could assert British priorities if it had the will to do so. The fundamental point at issue here is the attitude of the British political establishment. All else will follow from that, whether it is a looser arrangement with the EU or proper controls on immigration. That is what the Tory government was elected to do and it has not come up to the mark. It will pay the price not only at the next election but for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the British public will pay a far higher price. And it remains to be seen for how long the Conservatives continue to be the main opposition party after the next election.
      Dr Redwood is quite right to attack the EU but the emphasis must shift to the causes of our problems within the EU, and these problems are fundamentally British questions that need to be dealt with within Britain.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        It could be said that ultimately it’s our fault for electing the wrong people to the Commons, and so getting the wrong people in government, who then sign us up for various damaging foreign entanglements of which the EU is the worst; on the other hand, our parliamentary elections are dominated by three entrenched, unpatriotic and anti-democratic political gangs and it’s very difficult to break their stranglehold on the system.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      The politicians believed the banksters lies and fantasy in the UK and the USA in return for tax and personal jobs. Blaming the EU will not wash though no doubt they filled their boots as well. Take the short term loan companies or pay day as they are known. Interesting to see the banks missing a trick Huh!? What does this tell us of both of them?

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I look forward to seeing the results, preferably before the next election so I know which party to vote for!!!!

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    A “relationship would be based on trade and mutual co-operation where it made sense to do so. It would be outside the federalist treaties”.

    Interesting, but these are negotiations for after your referendum, as it leaves the UK outside the EU. Better first give the electorate its say.

  4. Sniper
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Article 50 then Citizen?

  5. Leslie Singleton
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Of course I agree with every word this morning and if I thought you had a chance of delivering it I would be much cheered up but unfortunately I don’t. I hope I am wrong but it seems to pretty much everyone that the Foreign Office has gone so native and naive with so many positions and tentacles and ramifications of all kinds being in place now solely to service the wretched EU that it beggars belief that they could ever come back on side. Too many senior careers at stake for a start. What else would they do? They seem actually to believe the twaddle that gets spoken about how we are too small and inadequate and all the rest to be able to survive independently just like essentially all other countries, almost all much smaller than us and without anything like our friends and contacts around the world.

    There is little or no hope from Cameron but perhaps still some small glimmer that the Euro will blow up and take the EU with it and I pray for that but against that it seems that the fanatics are willing to assign millions of people to the scrapheap and destroy whole chunks of the upcoming generation rather than admit the project has been a failure. In any event one hears the cry that it would be too complicated now to unravel it all irrespective of right or wrong.

    Anyway, keep on doing what you can, being rude to Hague as often as you like with my blessing.

    • GrahamC
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Maybe we should say that if we stay in the EU after 2017(ish) then we see no need for the FO and it will be closed and everyone there made redundant.

      However if we are set free from the EU then personal ambition is back in vogue.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      There is no reason to believe that the Foreign Office is any less of a nest of traitors now than it was in the time of Philby, Blunt, etc and their numerous accomplices. No they are not naïve.

  6. lifelogic
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Sounds like you are dreaming again, the existing staff at the FCO are surely pathologically incapable of renegotiating any such thing. Clearly Cameron does not even want them to, he cannot even bring himself to even say what powers he wants back. All he says is no Greater Switzerland, he could never campaign to leave the EU and his “heart and soul” is clearly with the existing FCO line.

    Off topic, I cannot see much point in “forcing” people who cannot get a Maths or English at GCSE continue with them. Perhaps they should just train to do something practical that they can do well. I see that Mr Gove only passed his driving test on the seventh attempt so perhaps he thinks try. try and try again is a good strategy. Are we better off or safer as a result of this one wonders? Given the line most MPs take or took on expensive quack “renewable” energy, the ERM, the EURO project, HS2, linking interest rates to unemployment, wasting nearly 50% of GDP, over high tax rates, gender neutral insurance, introducing HIP packs …… it is very clear the commons is teaming with innumerates, who have little grasp of numbers, science, real economics or reality.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      £200M spend on a very ugly public library in Birmingham when they already had another (slightly) less ugly one already. £200M could buy over 10 million e-readers bought in bulk, with millions of out of copyright free books included. One for each child in the country and a dictionary included to help them with the idiotic English spellings perhaps. Since they are not allowed to evolve and improve it seems.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        An absurdly PC opening ceremony with the Pakistani sixteen year old girl Malala Yousafzai, and much nonsense talk about female architects, even by Cameron standards it was rather nauseous and totally wrong headed.

        Could they not have found a decent female (or even male) architect to do it for rather less than £200M, £1M is sufficient. Not that any building was actually needed with new technology and the existing one due for demolition anyway. It is knowledge and real science that matter in the age of IT, not expensive & pointless white elephant buildings.

        • JimF
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          Apparently we all still need structures, and nobody thinks ahead to us all dealing with things by mobile device.
          Coincides with me noting today that my village rail station has installed a strange monstrosity to give up to date train information, which trains are coming etc. and every station in the Country is getting one. This added to the thing which sells tickets in place of a person, which was installed last year, also seems to be installed at every station now.
          This c-ap does spoil the Swiss scenery. Bureaucrats don’t disappear when you leave the EU.

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            No but the fewer levels of government the better.

      • zorro
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        And we wonder why they try and say that it will be £40bn+ for HS2 when they charge £200m for ONE library. I hope that they don’t come back to central government or council tax payers saying that they have no money…..


        • lifelogic
          Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          I am sure they already are doing if not it will not be long they will need more money to run, staff and heat it no doubt. Books will not usually be high on the priorities usually in Libraries the staff comfort will be the main one.

  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Politics is the art of the possible – you often say that.

    So let us look at what Jose Manuel Barroso is saying shall we? No, on second thoughts, perhaps not. Let us listen to the sensitive receptivity of Guy Verhofstadt in the Hemicycle perhaps? The Treaty of Lisbon was not about negotiation. It was about “More Europe”. That is why Mr Brown hid behind closed doors to sign it. He wanted to seem disapproving.

    Just as there is no appetite for leaving the EU (we couldn’t do it anyway legally whatever referenda or parliament say) so, in the Hemicycle and, more important, in the Commission and even more important than that in UKREP, there is no appetite for either renegotiation of compromise. More Europe!

    So stop kidding around.

    One thing we could soon do, and it would come very easily indeed: give the EU people (just listed) the freedom to broadcast as freely as Stephen Fry and Phil Jupitus. At the moment, they are in hiding. Let them speak to us so we can see what they think. They may, after all, be right!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      “Just as there is no appetite for leaving the EU (we couldn’t do it anyway legally whatever referenda or parliament say)”

      Nonsense, we are a sovereign state and on the international plane our government can abrogate the EU treaties any time it chooses, while on the domestic plane our Parliament can repeal its previous Acts to approve those EU treaties and give them effect in our national law.

      And if you doubt that, you are not only disagreeing with our own government and Parliament and courts about our constitutional position, you are also disagreeing with all the other national governments which agreed Article 50 in the Treaty on European Union and all the other national parliaments which approved its insertion into the EU treaties through the Treaty of Lisbon.

      That Article 50 TEU explicitly acknowledges, page 43 here:


      “1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

      Note that this new statement in the EU treaties is correctly viewed as no more than an acknowledgement of the enduring legal position; it is not an authorisation, as no external authorisation is needed for a sovereign state to withdraw from a treaty and nor indeed could any be provided through the treaty.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Den going back to “runs on the pound”, do you think the world’s capital markets would still have confidence in gilts, if the UK did something as radical as leave the EU or would they limit our sovereignty by threatening to dump them?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          My only worry on that score is that certain governments which want us to stay in the EU might try to manipulate the markets in an effort to prevent us leaving.

          One such foreign government, which in reality is only notionally committed to ideas of freedom and democracy, is located in Washington DC; and some hold that it was the consequences of its hostile actions during the 1956 Suez crisis which led to the UK government applying to join the EEC in the first place.

          I don’t think there would be any objective reasons for investors to have less confidence in gilts if we were outside the EU, and some reasons why they could have more confidence.

  8. Duyfken
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Would that we could achieve those aims! But first we need to re-construct the FCO.

    A suggestion: Would it not be useful for the UK and certain Commonwealth countries to share embassies (if we do not already do so) – a way of saving costs and reaffirming close bonds with one another.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      They do already Kiwis use our place for example in Warsaw and we have also shared facilities with the Germans in Kazakhstan too

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    If you want to be “outside the federalist treaties” then by definition you want to be outside the EU, because it is those federalist treaties which have established the EU.

    The Treaty on European Union, consolidated version here:


    starts by listing the participating countries, goes through their reasons and intentions, and then says that they:

    “HAVE DECIDED to establish a European Union”.

    And in Article 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:

    “2. This Treaty and the Treaty on European Union constitute the Treaties on which the Union is founded. These two Treaties, which have the same legal value, shall be referred to as ‘the Treaties’.”

    If you really want to leave the EU and negotiate alternative treaty arrangements with the other countries then Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union outlines a procedure for doing that, although as a sovereign state the UK could still decide not to be bound by that procedure but instead abrogate the treaties as a whole including Article 50 TEU.

    Article 50 TEU starts on page 43 at the link given above; it says:

    “A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”

    So if:

    “Negotiating this should be the prime task of the FCO for the next three years.”

    then the UK government needs to start the ball rolling by putting in its notification that the UK intends to withdraw from the EU, which of course it could only do over the dead bodies of both Clegg and Cameron.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Article 50 is the only way forward and this 2017 Referendum is a pure smokescreen. Cameron is probably the most politically out of his depth post war PM. His approach has decimated Conservative Party membership and he naively thinks that 2017 is going to save him from humiliation in European elections in 2014 and defeat in 2015. Sadly too many sceptical MPs are pretending that 2017 and renogiation are viable and realistic. The handringing will begin on May 8th 2015.

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Exactly!….which is why JR`s concluding sentence “Negotiating this should be the prime task of the FCO for the next three years” will not be on the FCO agenda.

      It remains to be seen what progress is made on subsidiarity negotiations. My working assumption is that the FCO will drag its feet. Progress will only be made, I suspect, if Germany and a re-elected Merkel decides to join the movement for repatriation of powers. I also think that the HoC vote on Syria will also concentrate minds of the EUrocracy on the potential power of UK public opinion on the matter.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        I don’t know whether Germany’s imminent elections will make much difference but one thing I do know is that there will come a time when Germany increasingly feels that it is time that they stopped feeling guilty and when that happens they will decide they do not want to be part of the EU certainly not as it stands.

    • Chris
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      You have put this very clearly, Denis.
      I have been extremely puzzled and concerned by the impression Mr Redwood gives that all this renegotiation is possible without first declaring an intention to leave the EU. The central tenet of the EU is towards ever closer union, something which all the countries have signed up to. The UK cannot cherry pick as it would start to unravel the whole project, and unravelling is not what current EU members want. It would seem that the UK and many politicians have always had a poor understanding of what the European project is about and the nature of the commitment to it, and this lack of understanding and commitment causes both consternation and amazement from our European partners.
      To suggest a partial withdrawal, besides not being possible, would still mean that the UK is burdened with bureaucracy, restrictions and edicts from Brussels. Far better to free ourselves completely and then to put in place the type of trading relationship that we do want. Difficult yes, but not impossible. The UK has to regain its sovereignty again and the power to determine its own affairs.

    • Andy Baxter
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Hear Hear Denis…

      couldn’t agree more.

      Mr. Redwood: I have a direct question at the end and would appreciate a succinct simple non political answer which are invariably wrapped in doublespeak and then dipped in fudge.

      You have a constant theme of ‘renegotiation’ with the EU coming through in many of your posts, yet as an intelligent well educated and experienced politico within Westminster you MUST know of and be aware of the implications of the Acquis communautaire


      A competence (Power) once ceded to the EU can never be taken back. It is this salami slice by slice approach to ever greater integration politically and fiscally that has brought us to where we are today.

      The only option is to invoke article 50, give notice to leave and then we can ‘renegotiate’ until our hearts content on every power once ceded, by remaining within EFTA we retain full access to the ‘common market’ all our goods services and labour can continue to compete free of any hindrance by EU law until we then either choose to remain as part of EFTA and/or enter into Bi-lateral agreements with other nations or the EU itself.

      I am constantly amazed by anyone especially yourself who has considerable experience and MUST know the workings of the EU that clinging to this ‘renegotiation’ meme from WITHIN the EU is utter nonsense and can NEVER be achieved because it is the very antithesis of what the EU is about.

      so my question: do you advocate article 50 withdrawal and ‘renegotiation this way? or do you cling to the vain hope that the EU can be reformed from within?

      I’d seriously like to know?

      Reply The Eu evolves and develops through a series of rows and disputes between members. I am saying that we should ask for a renegotiation. Either they oblige and we then present the results to the British people, or they do not. If they do not we the voters can still decide, and if we vote No then the Uk exits. Why is this so difficult to grasp? There is no majority to vote through an Article 50 Exit without trying to renegotiate. Your policy of simple exit would only be possible in a Parliament with 326 MPs committed to immediate withdrawal.

  10. Andyvan
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Clearly the Foreign Office is not fit for purpose like so many of our institutions. It has betrayed the country consistently for decades and if it cannot be relied upon to negotiate hard and well for British interests then what is the point of it? Apparently it’s role over the last 50 years could have been performed by an answer phone with the recorded message of “yes” saving us millions of pounds on staff and buildings. It is so entrenched in the hierarchy of government that reform is impossible, again like so many institutions, so it should be closed. No messing about, just close it. Whilst you’re at it there are quite a few other departments that could go at the same time, Business, Innovation and Skills (which it has none of), Defra, Culture, International Development, Energy and Climate Change. The list goes on and on. All perform no task that could not be done better and cheaper – or not at all- by the private sector saving us billions and making us freer and happier to boot. Of course there is no chance of any of that happening because too many snouts are in the trough of public money.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      “too many snouts are in the trough of public money” indeed policy is usually driven by this. They rarely care what they are doing or whether it is good or bad for the public – so long as someone will pay and pension them well to do it they are happy.

      They are just as happy building some new daft construct as they are ripping it down for the latest new daft idea.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Need to add Health and Education. The Heath department appears to be presiding over a policy of capping entry of British students to English Medical schools at 6,000 whilst the NHS needs an infusion of 13,000 new doctors p.a. The Education dept has been presiding over a policy of dumbing down as well as grooming children with marxist propaganda for decades. Meanwhile people who can afford it, opt out of state provision of Health and Education.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Indeed one assumes the government have decided it is cheaper to import doctors. Or perhaps that the UK ones qualifying will leave the UK and work elsewhere anyway.

        Clearly the solution is to train anyone who can pay the costs and is able to manage the course. With repayable loans available to those who cannot afford the fees.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      How exactly will allowing the private sector to create the rules that they have to follow benefit anyone other than CEOs of companies? The belief that the private sector will act for the good of the UK, rather than as asset strippers, is naive.

  11. Richard1
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The Conservative leadership need to scope out in detail the Conservative vision for the UK-EU relationship for the next election, it could be a big winner. We need a formula such as you outline above but where are still members of the EU. I don’t believe the pessimism on the potential for renegotiation. The other EU countries would prefer the UK in. Remember Maastricht. The UK signed but John Major got us an exemption from the 2 major – and worst – components, the social chapter and the euro. We can do the same again.

    In other news it looks likely Tony Abbott will win the Australian election. This will be the first western govt to repudiate global warming alarmism and its attendant expensive green policies. The Conservatives should learn from that too with all the new evidence demonstrating how exaggerated the alarmist arguments have been.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Indeed the people of the UK too have seen through the absurd global warming exaggerations despite endless incubation by quacks at the BBC/the government/ Cameron /Huhne /Ed Davey/Yeo types, the met office and even the Royal Society (who should know far better). Tax payers own money used to ram propaganda down the same tax payers throats.

      Stop all tax payer grants for daft technologies like PV, electric cars, HS trains and wind now and let the industries compete on a level playing field if they can.

      The Met Office’s temperature forecasts issued in 12 out of the last 13 years has been too warm a case of religion over science one assumes. Why no resignations? Just close it down and toss a coin for more accuracy. They cannot predict the weather in a months time let alone in 100 years. Anyway warmer looks far better for the world than colder, on balance.

      See how it goes and adapt as needed, that is the way to go. No significant warming at all for the last 15 years anyway despite the increasing C02 concentrations.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        If you’d bothered to actually look at the evidence you’d know that every decade has been warmer than the previous decade and the average global temperature keeps increasing. That’s why the scientific institutions are producing evidence showing climate change is man made, while the deniers just spout unsubstantiated nonsense.

        Your delusions that warm is always better just shows that you have no idea what this means. Much of Africa has become a desert because it’s now too hot to grow crops.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          If you think you can predict the weather (or even climate) in 100 years when you cannot do it for a week on Tuesday, and you do not even have most of the input data, you are clearly totally deluded. Just like the rest of the anth. global warming disaster merchants.

          Chaotic systems such as weather simply do not work like that, co2 is only one variable of countless. See what happens and adapt if needed is the only rational approach. Anything else is pissing money down the drain.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Such exemptions are never intended to be permanent, they are only allowed in order to get a new norm agreed and into force, and then they can be attacked and eroded and circumvented and eventually eliminated.

      By 1996 Major was complaining that the UK’s exemption from the social chapter was being circumvented, as can be seen from his “Dear Jacques” letter reproduced here:


      “However, in its judgement today, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the scope of Article 118A is much broader than the United Kingdom envisaged when the Article was originally agreed, as part of the Single European Act. This appears to mean that legislation which the United Kingdom expected would dealt with under the Protocol can in fact be adopted under Article 118A.

      That is contrary to the clear and express wishes of the United Kingdom Government, and goes directly counter to the spirit of what we agreed at Maastricht. It is unacceptable and must be remedied …”

      I don’t imagine that it was ever remedied.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Of course it was not remedied and did not Major promise us “subsidiarity” yet now they even want to force our vans to go at 62 MPH. There is no aspect of our lives that they will not tax, licence or regulate, if they are allowed to.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Richard1 ,

      Mr Abbott is unfortunately an Oxford PPE graduate so don’t expect too much from him if he takes power .

      In the lead up to this election he has supported the “Lock the Gate” campaign where farmers deny access to hydrocarbon E&P companies .

      Rather makes a mockery of the principle of public ownership of mineral resources .

      Sure he’s got his boxing blues for Oxford but I doubt very much he’ll remove the “carbon tax” .

      Rudd is an improvement on Gillard , (etc ed)

      The only poli out there who has impressed me is Queensland’s Campbell Newman . Every other politician in the world claims that wages need to rise whereas Newman alone makes the case for reducing the cost of living .

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Anything is better than Gillard surely.

  12. mick
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Morning Mr Redwood, i`ve read a lot of your posts and to be honest i think you are pro-European like the rest of your back benches buddy’s, if not why do you stay in a party that is slowly turning into a side shoot of the lib-dem`s, why not all get together and form a break away party that is true anti European, and don`t come back with the reason that you can make a difference being part of the conservative machine because you are not, people are getting very tired of what is happening to are once great country and we need change and now not in 4 years with a promised referendum , not as though that is going to happen, at this moment you are all giving loads of spin because of the GE in 19 months time, well the Conservatives/labour/lib-dem`s are all in for a rude awakening

    Reply On the contrary, I and my Eurosceptic colleagues have persuaded the government to keep us out of the Fiscal Treaty, negotiate a lower budget and pledge a future referendum. We would not have achieved any of that if we had stood for parties that could not get anyone elected in 2010.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: We would not have achieved any of that if we had stood for parties that could not get anyone elected in 2010.

      I think the 2015 election will be a completely different affair from the 2010 election. In 2010 we were reeling from the credit crunch with a very unpopular Labour Prime Minister. I think people were appalled at what Labour had done and many of those that voted Conservative, voted on the basis that ‘best to vote for nurse, for fear of something worse.’

      Now, how many people will vote Conservative in 2015 thinking you are actually the best party to govern the country? I think you will be surprised at how few votes the party gets in 2015. I don’t see any real swing back to Labour. Which means 2015 is wide open.

      Keep going as you are and I think you, and Labour, are in for a very big surprise. The Lib Dem vote is likely to collapse and UKIP may well get between 20% and 30% of the vote. Few would have voted UKIP in 2010 – we were in a crisis and the most important thing was to get Labour out. Even so, and with an unpopular Prime Minister, you could not win a majority.

      I think you and your colleagues really are away with the fairies if you think you have a snowball in hell’s chance of winning in 2015.

      You could win. If you STOPPED immigration now and only allowed entry to the country on a work permit basis. And if you made a list of the powers we want back from Brussels, published them now and started the re-negotiation NOW so you could put whatever you achieve to the people in 2 years time.

      None of that will happen and you are sleep walking to the end of days for the Conservative party.

      Reply Have a nice day!

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        I too cannot see how Cameron can possibly win, he could not even beat sitting duck Gordon Brown. His pledge of a future referendum simply will not be believed, he has ratted too often and his heart is in the EU, as he freely admits.

  13. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    John – What is your estimate for the total financial cost for us to “…rebuild a complete chain of embassies and Ambassadors for the whole world, no longer relying on some EU Embassies to represent us.”?

    Reply Its a matter of millions, not billions – not one to trouble the scorer, and to be seen in the context of savings on EU contributions.

  14. alan jutson
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I like what I read John, but do you honestly believe that many of the existing people employed by the FO will be able to change their thought processes.

    Do you think any PRESENT Party leader would be brave enough to undertake or even consider such a task.

    I would suggest that the defeatist, go along with the crowd and I will not get blamed culture, is now so inbred in so many departments of State, that you would virtually have to start again, with different people and different advisors.


    Is there a number of frustrated employees, managers, politicians that are champing at the bit waiting for such an opportunity, because they have been held back for so long.

    No, the dream is not impossible, but a huge change in mindset is needed if we are to be successful with such a plan.

    We need the spirit and determination of the self employed, and the private businessman/woman for such a task, not the PCC brigade from University.

  15. DaveK
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    John, I would like to know of any organisation that allows full members to change their membership without first leaving and then re-applying.

    As you know, in the armed forces staff pay mess fees and associate members are often allowed with reduced rights and responsibilities, however they have to have left first and then be invited or apply for an associate membership. The same applied to a golf club I was a member of.

    When a club member is paying the second or third highest subscription fees then the club committee are extremely unlikely to let them change to reduced fees and more influence, showing other members that the grass is greener.

    May I also ask is the FCO that you refer to the same organisation that has spent decades making addenda to EU directives that make them even worse for this country?

    Always good to read your fine diary and see you on the box.


    p.s. Good one on getting rid of a certain Baroness though.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Well, the army is not an international organisation established by treaty between its sovereign member states, and nor is a golf club.

      If all the EU member states agree that one member state shall have some special status within the organisation then the treaties can always be written or rewritten to give legal effect to that.

      Indeed that has already happened within the EU on many occasions; many, maybe even most, of its member states have at least one “opt-out” from the general treaty provisions, the eurofederalists thinking it expedient to allow temporary exceptions or “derogations” in order to make it possible for the rest to agree a new norm, with the prospect that later the norm will be extended to the exceptions.

      Often these are written into protocols attached to the treaties:


      A notable example from our point of view being:


      which starts:


      RECOGNISING that the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to adopt the euro without a separate decision to do so by its government and parliament … “.

      But what JR says he wants would require such a fundamental rewriting of the treaties that even if all the other EU member states were prepared to agree it would be far more than could sensibly be accommodated by the addition of new protocols to the existing treaties, it would be better to start from scratch with a new treaty.

      Reply I have always made clear I do not wish to be within federal treaties.

    • stred
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      After having been deposed by the army, it must have been a rather strange experience for the elected president of Egypt to be visited by the never elected EU foreign office minister. Presumably she had some comforting advice on how to stay in power while lacking any popular support.

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    You must know that Cameron would never agree to what you propose. He will thank you though for the dog whistle to EUsceptics. I think next years EU elections will show just how much support your party has jettisoned.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      The Tories will get fewer votes than UKIP in May 14 surely certainly not much more?

  17. Bryan
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I have asked this before, but cannot remember the reply – why, if 70% or more of our domestic laws have an origin in the EU, is our relationship with the EU a matter for our Foreign Office rather than say the Hone Office?

    It would help solve a major problem at a stroke?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Because despite the ambitions and pretensions of its eurofederalist proponents, including the lawyers who sit as so-called judges on its so-called Court of Justice, the legal reality is that EU is still only an international organisation established by treaties between its sovereign member states, and naturally it is the Foreign Office that leads on international affairs including treaties.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Research by Parliament has shown that 8% of UK statutes and 14% of statutory instruments come from the EU. The 70% figure was made up by Eurospectics because they needed a big number to justify their campaign.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        You have been corrected on this before; the research to which you refer has been superseded by research which actually included all the EU regulations which don’t even go anywhere near Parliament.

  18. Iain Moore
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Great opening paragraph, which neatly sums up the institutional treachery of the Foreign Office.

  19. Bert Young
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Dr. JR . your aspirations are the same as mine – the EU as it is presently constituted and directed , is not the organisation I wish to be associated with . I am not a legal expert and cannot comment ( so many of your responders seem to be ) on whether we could pull the plug one way or another , I simply want to regain our democracy asap .

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      @Bert Young ‘ … I simply want to regain our democracy asap’

      And how do you propose to do that? Because voting for Labour, Lib Dems or Tories – it will NEVER HAPPEN.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Off-topic: it appears that in order to gain his support Obama has now told McCain that the proposed missile strikes against Syria would just be part of what McCain wants, a wider US strategy to alter the balance of power in Syria in favour of the rebels and bring about regime change, and this even though Obama has been insisting that this would not be the case and that he only wants limited strikes to “punish” Assad. I trust our MPs will note this, and any waverers will be reassured that by putting a stop to British involvement they have not just prevented us from taking part in this first stage but have prevented us being sucked step by step into Obama’s real plan to bring about regime change in Syria.

    Reply The UK government wanted to limit intervention to the legal option under UN rules of “preventing a future (chemcial weapon) atrocity. The UK constraint is now removed, and Mr Obama isbeing moved in this direction by neo Con Republicans. Who knows where Mr Obama will end up?

    • Chris
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: during the last year or so, there have been significant pronouncements by both Cameron and Hague stating precisely that they wanted regime change, and Assad “had to go”. This rather last minute insistence by Cameron and Hague that regime change is not what they have been seeking is not very convincing, and this is another reason why the public are not reassured by Cameron and Hague as to their real motives. One example below from Sept 2013 in the H of C where Hain apparently accuses Hague of obsession with regime change, and apparently suggests that the UK stance of supporting the rebels is only making the situation worse.

      UK Obsession With Regime Change Responsible for Syria Catastrophe
      British Politician Speaks Up Against UK Syrian Policy.
      “…Hague however, faced criticism from the Labour Party’s Peter Hain who accused Hague of an “obsession with regime change” that amounted to a “catastrophic and monumental failure of Western policy.”

      Hague responded by citing the August 3, 2012 UN resolution passed by the General Assembly, claiming that 133 supported the West’s stance, “with only 12 votes against.”

      Hague fails to acknowledge, however, that in addition to the 12 nations that voted firmly against the resolution, 31 nations abstained, a muted protest to the resolution. Nations either firmly opposed to the resolution or refusing to vote on it included China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, South Africa, India, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Iraq, North Korea, Belarus, Nicaragua, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe, representing nearly half the world’s population….”

    • forthurst
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      The Corbett Report Episode 279 – “Who is really behind the Syrian War?” complete with a reading list of authoritative sources spells out in detail how the war in Syria is part of two campaigns. Firstly, to reshape the ME to satisfy the wider neocon agenda with the ulimate goal, Iran, and second to block the proposed pipeline from Iran through Shia territory to the Mediterranian and on to Europe.

      It is very hard to see why we should partake of death and destruction in the ME to advance the cause of such fanatics when there isn’t even any clear advantage to us. It is also unclear why it would be disadvantageous to have a supply of gas from the largest gas field in the world in Europe. We need to have an independent foreign policy which looks to British interests, especially when US foreign policy appears to have been captured by those who do not care how many they kill in the furtherance of their agenda.

      Politicians will be very foolish if they purely focus on alleged use of poison gas by Assad when they should know from experience that there is always a casus belli to put before them even if it has to be manufactured.

      • Chris
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Regarding your last para, some politicians will harness emotive issues to their own advantage. Also, they have this tendency to underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. Finally, many have the arrogance that seems to come with power. All these factors have played a role, I believe.

        Yes, I am sure there is a bigger agenda linked to the neocons, and it does not surprise me one bit, Michael Gove’s outburst, as I understand that he has supported the neocons very strongly in the past.

        See extract from The Guardian, 3 March 2011
        “….Gove is the author of a number of neoconservative tracts. These include Celsius 7/7, which argues that Islamists are waging “total war” against the west, not because of imperialism but because of their root-and-branch rejection of “western values”. A more pointed intervention, though, was the essay “The Very British Roots of Neoconservatism and Its Lessons for British Conservatives”. In it, Gove was trying to persuade Tory allies sceptical of the adventurism of Rumsfeld and Bush that their policies were ones that the great patriarchs of conservatism would approve of. He argued that neoconservatism had strongly British roots that could be traced back to the statecraft of the Anglo-Irish Tory leader George Canning, whose pre-emptive battles with Bonapartism helped “advance the cause of freedom”. Palmerston and Churchill were also given their due as precursors to modern neoconservatism. Significantly, Gove’s trinity was entirely composed of Tories with some connections to Liberalism – if a neoconservative is a liberal who has been “mugged by reality”, many Tory luminaries from Burke onward have been instinctive Whigs turned counter-revolutionary….”

        • forthurst
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          I can’t help feeling that Gove, for a proper understanding of the roots of neo-conservatism, should have done more research for his article on the political philosophy of Leo Strauss and the ‘noble lie’ to which he himself may have fallen victim.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink


      “US general says Syria action could be ‘more substantial than thought'”

      “A former US army chief has claimed that Barack Obama is eyeing intervention in Syria that would go beyond a mere deterrent against chemical weapons to damage the military capacity of the Assad regime.”

      “General Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the US Army, told BBC Radio 4 that he had spoken to senior Republican senators who had been briefed by the US president on Monday, and had been assured that Mr Obama planned to do significant damage to the forces of Bashar al-Assad.

      The Obama administration has previously said that military strikes would not be aimed at toppling Assad’s government nor altering the balance of the conflict. Instead, the White House has suggested, they would be intended to punish Assad for the alleged gas attack in Damascus on Aug 21 and to reinstate Washington’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons.

      But Gen. Keane said he understood Mr Obama was planning a more substantial intervention in Syria than had previously been thought, with increased support for the opposition forces, including training from US troops.

      He said the plans could involve “much more substance than we were led to believe”.”

      And in view of my suspicions that Obama has been dishonest about his intentions, partly based on the proven dishonesty of politicians both sides of the Atlantic in the past, I would now take this claim:

      “What he won’t do is topple the regime.”

      with a generous pinch of salt.

      JR, I’m afraid two questions must now arise:

      Firstly, has this wider plan just been invented in the past few days?

      Secondly, assuming that it already existed last week, which seems most likely, how much of it was known to Cameron and Hague when they tried to get MPs to agree to our participation in the first stage of sending in a few cruise missiles?

      Reply Yes, I think this is a recent development, born of the President’s need to win over those McCain republicans who do want regime change or something more powerful by way of a response. The UK was talking of a much more limited intervention based on UN law over trying to prevent a future chemical weapon atrocity.

      • cosmic
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Hague has been pushing to arm the rebels for quite a time, according to our host. He hasn’t had much encouragement from his parliamentary colleagues.

        The moral outrage over the nerve gas incident was just the excuse they needed for a pattern of interference which could hardly do anything but weaken the regime and by implication, strengthen the rebels. A war-weary country was inclined to be more circumspect.

        Of course there has been a long standing intention to topple Assad, in the UK at least. I rather suspect Cameron sold this to Obama as a good idea and the uncooperative nature of parliament left Obama high and dry. This sounds like a gesture to get hawkish support in the US for Obama to save face. I have no idea whether the US was particularly interested in regime change in Syria as something they were willing to put themselves out for.

        Toppling Assad is one thing, what might follow Assad is quite another and from a moral point of view, unlikely to be more humane and quite possibly less so, as well as creating other problems.

        Note that all of this stops short of boots on the ground and nation building for now. At least something appears to have been learned.

  21. Pleb
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Instead of bombs why not charge Assad with a war crimes. Issue a wanted notice for him. Over time you could probably issue arrest warants for henchmen. They could be aprehended over time. This worked with Bosnia.

  22. Tad Davison
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I agree, but of the four major political UK parties, two are out-and-out federalists, one is also a federalist but tries to make out they are different, and the fourth – UKIP – is the only one with any credibility left. And until I see a wholesale movement in the Conservative party’s foreign policy, where it relates to our membership of the EU, I like so many others, will be voting UKIP at the Euro-elections next year.

    Their destiny is in the Tory party’s own hands, but they really do need to stop trying to kid all of the people all of the time, and give the electorate some raw meat. Suggestions as to how things might be done differently in future; changes that are alluded to but not followed up; and weak-kneed stances, just won’t do anymore. Just like the assurances of the accuracy of the government’s military intelligence, and the need to go to war, the people will no longer simply accept a politician’s word, because they have been conned far too many times.

    Tad Davison


    Reply The fourth,fifth and sixth parties within the Commons are all federalist parties – Nationalists, Greens etc.To be fourth party you need to win some seats.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: ‘The fourth,f ifth and sixth parties within the Commons are all federalist parties – Nationalists, Greens etc. To be fourth party you need to win some seats.

      Mr. Redwood – you keep making that rather pat comment about seats – from your ivory tower courtesy of the first past the post system you so benefit from.

      You are going to find 2015 a very different affair from 2010. Then, in the middle of a crisis, people were desperate for change away from Labour – so some voted for your party – but you could still not win a majority.

      The political landscape has changed again. Many Labour and Tory supporters are fed up with their parties. I think you will have to eat your words after 2015 as the fourth party you disparage may well get more votes than your party. If it does, and it still has few seats, your beloved first past the post system will have to go.

      Reply And who in the Commons so elected would vote to abolish FPTP? Do try and be realistic.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply: If we ended up with a vote split 4 ways – with Labour, Lib Dems, Conservatives and UKIP all on 25% – yet, somehow, someone formed a government, minority or otherwise, it would be apparent to everyone that FPTP no longer works.

        It won’t last forever, you and the Labour party playing pass the parcel with power.

        • A.Sedgwick
          Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          FPTP has become a travesty, exacerbated by the vastly different constituency size. The reality is the 50 odd seats in Scotland and about 500,ooo votes in English marginal seats decide the Government. If you are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories then our continued membership of the EU could be predicated on the lack of real EU opposition in the Commons, prevented by FPTP. The Palace of Westminster will become as relevant as the Palace of Versailles.

          SNP has showed what can be done with a PR system but again the Scottish arrangement is another example of our increasingly nonsensical political system.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Dear John–May I suggest that you are over-egging the pudding on UKIP’s not yet having won any seats, because the lack so far is hardly surprising on any basis? I believe it close to a given that UKIP will do very well in the forthcoming European elections, after which (what do you think? How much do you want to bet??) it seems very likely that they will indeed win at least a seat or two in 2015. To many of us, UKIP doing well and forcing a very different Coalition is the only, repeat only, hope. There is also the admittedly not so likely possibility that a phalanx of Conservative disillusioned and disgusted MP’s jumps ship first.

      Reply Conservative MPs are not going to defect to UKIP as you describe. It is time we got more suport from those of you who agree with us that we need to get out of the federalist grip of the EU and have a new relationship. At least we are elected and voting and speaking in the Commons accordingly despite the endless barrage of criticism and abuse from people who ought to be our friends.

      • Chris
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: “swivel eyed loons” and “fruitcakes” are not the best terms to use by people who ought to be friends.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: Why would anyone be your party’s friend? I’m as far away from voting Labour as the next bloke – but vote for your party? WHY?

        Sorry, it’s gone too far now. Even now we face a further influx of immigrants in January 2014. Do you seriously think most people here want this? Are happy with it? Why won’t you listen to anyone? Your current position on the EU is risible. A referendum on a negotiation whose scope has not been defined, in the next parliament, if you win a majority! It is twaddle.

        There is more chance of my winning the lottery this week than of your party offering an in/out referendum based on a meaningful renegotiation. I don’t ‘do’ the lottery.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply.

        John, if I lived in your constituency, you would be my first choice. That goes for many others in the Tory party such as Bill Cash, Richard Sheppard, and Peter Bone. That’s because your views and theirs, come closest to my own. And I venture both you, and many other Tory MPs share many common values with UKIP, but Chris makes the valid point that we are collectively thought of as ‘swivel-eyed loons and fruitcakes’ by the Tory hierarchy who are themselves nothing better than closet federalists. Were I a Euro-sceptic Tory MP, I’d be very uncomfortable with the present leadership and the direction the party has taken since 1973.

        It was really good though, after the local elections, to see Cameron squirming and backtracking, and choking on his words after he realised how much support had leached away to UKIP. Might that not happen again in 2014, and at the following general election?

        Something clearly moved him to say that he was going to seek a new relationship with the EU, but let’s not be fooled by this. A true Eurosceptic would had headlined that policy from the outset, not adopted it as an afterthought as a reaction to losing support, so people are right to question Cameron’s sincerity. It is done out of duress, and not conviction.

        It’s a never-ending charade. Tory’s denouncing that naughty old EU, then doing precious little to change it. We’ve had forty years of it, so when if ever, are they finally going to deliver?

        How many times should we trust the glib assurances of an habitual philanderer, gambler, or drunkard, and you’ll begin to see my point. Until we see actions instead of mere words, we are right to be reluctant to trust those who have denounced right-thinking people, whilst damaging the country with their mad pro-EU policies.

        And I recall George Gardiner once telling me some years ago that he thought quite a number of his colleagues were close to jumping ship even then, long before the UKIP life raft was as popular, as strong, and as organised as it is now, so I wouldn’t bet against it.

        Tad Davison


        Reply Mr Cameron made his new relationship speech after a series of meetings with Eurosceptic Conservative MPs who gave him ideas on how to develop his policy. There is no group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs thinking of joining UKIP. The time for any Conservative MP to join UKIP who wanted to would be now, before the European elections. I see no signs of that happening.

        • Chris
          Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          Reply to JR’s reply above:
          I suspect that the time that individual Cons MPs may jump ship is actually after the 2014 elections, MEP and local, when they will have a chance to see which way the wind is blowing, and the likelihood or otherwise of them losing seats in the GE. There are a significant number who are in perilous positions, and nothing focuses thinking and action more than a real threat. At the moment, some perceive a threat from UKIP; others continue to write it off. The politics will be fascinating, and what is certain is that sweeping claims about noone abandoning ship are somewhat premature. You simply do not know how your MPs will behave – they are an unpredictable lot, and not necessarily guided by principle, sad to say.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply– As with matters religious, I find it impossible to pretend that one believes if one does not, and I certainly do not trust or believe Cameron, in particular on the EU, that’s apart from the fact that he is unlikely to win in 2015 . I agreed and agree it is unlikely, but I still think it possible that what I called a phalanx of like-minded Conservative MP’s might decide to move en bloc to UKIP. If any were thinking along these lines I doubt they would tell you because you have said publicly and clearly that you would not leave the Conservatives, at least not in this Parliament I think you said. Would not have to be many. Personally I do not see how that could go wrong in terms of getting us out of the EU because it is impossible to see anything other than a surge of support for UKIP if that were to happen.

        Reply We Eurosceptic Conservatives who have voted for a referendum, against the EU budget and the other crucial EU issues this Parliament do talk a lot to each other. I would know if a group were planning to join UKIP, and I can assure you they are not.

  23. Neil Craig
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Considering we once ran 3/4 of the world giving up our prime ambassadorial position in much of it to the EU seems an unnecessary retrenchment. Can you give an example John? I assume this has not led to a cut in the FO budget.

    You may also be interested in this link which has the EU asserting that their own regulatory burden, compared to that of the USA, destroys an amazing 12% of gdp regulatory burden”.

  24. Iain Gill
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    We dont need to fund lots of embassies and such like, just share with with some other small country. Switzerland or New Zealand maybe. What British business abroad needs is the UK government getting out of the way and reducing its own costs.

  25. Atlas
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    John, there are too many neo-Lord Halifaxes in the FCO for your wishes to be acted upon.

  26. lojolondon
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    John, I agree with the bulk of this, except that the FOE has shown itself to be ‘not the man for the job’. Their utter capitulation to every EU move shows that someone else has to manage this process. As said many times before, I believe the best way is to stop the payments immediately, throw the £15Billion that we save at any problems that arise, and spend the rest on something useful (like the deficit!).

    • Bazman
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      The fantasy of using the EU contributions to reduce the decit is just that and you have proved your lack of any real knowledge of anything by writing this. Not worth going into anything with you.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      The fantasy of using the EU contributions to reduce the deficit is just that and you have proved your lack of any real knowledge of anything by writing this. Not worth going into anything with you. How are we getting on with our nuclear fantasises giving Japan’s problems. Is your Titanic theory still as in Japan not holding water? Japan is third world and socialist would be the usual response, but they are not so what is the problem? Corruption and bad engineering. Never happen here especially if they where in private hands huh? Within the M25 or not at all.

  27. peter davies
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Given the leanings of the FCO can they really be trusted to negotiate properly with the EU?

    All this negotiation stuff to me sounds like nonsense – the only viable way to sort this as I see it is a simple IN/OUT referendum followed by Article 50 – Anything less and some of these tentacles will still touch us.

    In my mind the only tentacles that should touch the UK are for the 15% of economic activity that constitutes exports – the rest should be discarded.

  28. rd
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    “The UK would have a new financial deal which allowed us to keep more of our own money…” This is unacceptable. A free trade deal does NOT imply that we pay or that they pay; it is free. I will not pay a penny to those whom I cannot elect.

  29. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    The clutter of differing opinions amongst less than 100 comments here underline how difficult it is going to be to renegotiate in the EU. Democracy is not the easy way out. There are comments of hopelessness, those who want to bring party politics to the table to spoil chances of renegotiation and support no one ( as though they could do any better), and those who simply want to shout and blame everyone else.
    Your attempt to remain positive , I hope will influence. The negative opinions simply surgically cut any chance of UK survival. I work with an Asian GP who can speak Urdu, Punjabi, French , Spanish and English. Many of my patients wander the EU countries and can speak similar….where are we? We have to keep up and progress.

    Reply Thank you for your sensible words. The main reason the Eurosceptic view of the EU has not prevailed more often in UK policy is the endless warring factions of Eurosceptics, always ready to attack their own and to divide their cause. The more “pure” and censorious groups there are, the less effective despite the opportunity to speak for the majority public mood.

  30. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you 100%. However, there are two difficulties.

    The first is that, although the EU can influence standards and specifications for the goods and services to be sold in Europe, it must not be allowed to influence social and production matters within the UK. Therefore, things like the Working Time Directive have to go.

    The second difficulty is institutional. The two places where pro EU people are dug in are the FCO and Conservative Central Office. People Lord Heseltine and John Major still punch above their weight, even in retirement. And Lord Howe says that the Conservative Party must get a grip on itself on Europe. No, Lord Howe, YOU must get a grip on yourself and recognise that you are in an obstructive minority.

    I don’t see how we can guarantee to prevail without doing two things (1) Instigate a purge of pro EU people from the FCO and CCO; and (2) State the ‘red lines’ of our negotiating position in our 2015 manifesto. We must insist on democratic legitimacy.

    Reply I do not think CCO is dominated by federalists!

  31. uanime5
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    It would restore the UK’s right to an independent foreign policy, borders policy, criminal justice system and much else.

    Given that the one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU is being able to freely travel between member states it’s nothing more than wishful thinking to believe that the UK can remaining in the EU while being able to prevent EU citizens working in the UK.

    We would meet their standards for exports of goods and services to them, but be free to choose our own which might be different for our own domestic market and for other overseas trade.

    I doubt the EU will allow the UK to freely export goods and services to the EU while the UK isn’t obeying EU employment law. After all every other country that doesn’t meet EU employment law is subject to tariffs.

    Reply Those of us who want a new relationship with the EU do not want to stay in the current EU on current terms! That is the whole point.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      It’s the EU mindset John. They have never experienced any other way, and falsely believe without the EU to govern us, the UK would sink without trace. But the opposite is true. We didn’t seem to do too badly before our accession, apart from the mess Wilson’s Labour government got us into in the 1960s.

      Europe was once seen as progressive and the way forward, but a few could see the dangers. Now those dangers have become the reality, the pro-Europeans think the only solution is yet more of it. I pity them really, if only they knew there was a better and more democratic way. The trouble with sleepwalkers though, is that when they eventually wake up, they often find themselves in a dangerous and precarious position from which they need help to extricate themselves.

      Tad Davison


  32. StephenO
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    There is a third strategy. Though we speak of the harm done by the EU to the UK economy and to the UK’s democracy, it clearly is not only the UK which is being harmed. Much if not all of Europe is suffering too, with Europe seems to be set for long term economic decline under EU rule, and to become ever less democratic.

    Rather that resist the imposition of EU rules on the UK, opposing them based on the harm to Europe would allow the UK to argue it not anti Europe, but rather the most pro-European (the people not the EU bureaucrats, that is) government in the EU. In the short term this would almost certainly make the UK more unpopular and isolated in the EU, but given the unpopularity of current EU policies, which surely must grow, in the long term the UK could end up with growing support any perhaps change.

  33. APL
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    JR: “A new foreign policy towards the EU”

    A fundamentally dishonest strap-line.

    We cannot have a foreign policy toward the EU, it is our government.

  • 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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