Mrs Merkel and the UK

 

              Mrs Merkel has increased her vote and  remains Chancellor. Her coalition will be different. If she has to do a deal with the SPD she will be under some pressure to be more generous towards the southern Euro states, and to be less accommodating of the UK’s wish for less EU.

            The AFD attracted some support which tries to create  the opposite pressure, but failed to win a single seat. This was a bad result. After all, all the other parties in the German election are pro the Euro and pro more EU integration, so AFD had a clear run at  Euroscepticism and was working in a PR system. Merkel’s current coalition partners the FDP struggled and lost all their seats. 

          Some of the UK establishment think Mrs Merkel will make some concessions to the UK’s wish to return powers to the member states from the EU. After all, Germany sells so many goods to the UK she needs to be friendly to such a big market. She also values the UK’s support on trying to limit EU spending and our offer of  some moral and political support for cutting deficits by spending control.  She is a natural consensus seeker. If the UK – with the Netherlands and a few others – argues strongly for powers back, by definition the mid point or consensus will have shifted and Mrs Merkel will wish to reflect that.

          However, we are talking about two different negotiations here. The UK can hold a negotiation with the re-elected Mrs Merkel under the coalition. This will be with the approval of the Lib Dems, will be an agreed government policy, and will be seeking some powers back for all member states by consensus. I wish it well, and it may get something back we want.

             It is not, however, the negotiation the Conservatives will pledge in the next manifesto  to negotiate a new relationship for the UK with the rest of the EU. That will be a negotiation just by  us to create a new relationship. It is not something the Lib Dems or Labour  support. This is necessitated by the move of most of the rest of the EU to unity under the Euro, with the non Euro members largely agreeing to follow suit. The UK’s refusal to join the Euro, now common policy of Conservatives and Labour, puts us in need of a new and looser relationship with the emerging political union on the continent. A few agreed powers back is not the answer to this problem.

             That is why the referendum promise (and attempt to legislate for it) is so important. The voters then have a guarantee that if the government is unable to negotiate a new sensible relationship with the emerging wider Euro union, they can vote us out of the EU altogether. It will give Mr Cameron leverage when negotiating with the rest of the EU, and it will ensure he cannot come back and recommend a deal which fails to tackle the underlying main issues. He will not want to return with a package which will be defeated. If he cannot get a sensible deal then he will have to recommend refusal. He naturally remains optimistic he can get a deal which makes sense for the UK. Any negotiator is often wise to remain upbeat about the chances of success.  Mrs Merkel will be important in just that matter.

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84 Comments

  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    The relationship this blog argues for is a post-exit relationship and would only come into play after a 2017 referendum deciding on an exit, as it wants a new relationship with the EU not within the EU.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      For once I agree with you! However, our host’s views are far removed from Cameron’s view and the latter has no intention of allowing the UK to leave the EU. This will no doubt please you, which is where our agreement ends.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: Good to see that there are still a few things we do agree upon.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      So rather than years of fruitless faffing around we might as well activate Article 50 TEU and put in our notice that we are leaving now, and go straight into the process of negotiating the new treaty arrangements for after we have left the EU.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Just a small hurdle here – there is no majority for invoking art. 50 and I don’t expect there ever will be. On the contrary, if the Conservatives were to form the next UK government, The result of negotiations will likely be a more flexible arrangment for all EU members, at least those outside the EZ, and such a negotiation deal will be defended by the then UK government in a referendum, resulting in a “yes” vote. As the time between te first and second referendum would then be 42 years, the issue of EU membership would have been put to bed for at least a generation.

      • Hope
        Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        The biggest problem is not Merkel but Cameron. A problem JRaxnd others in the he Tory party are unable or unwilling to change.

    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Exactly Peter. That relationship can only come about by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty giving notice of our intent to leave the EU. UKIP’s Nigel Farage now supports this means of exit, but unfortunately Cameron wants us to stay in so in we will stay until he’s gone.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        @Sean O’Hare: How many seats in parliament has Nigel obtained during the last 20 years? How likely will this change significantly?

    • JoeSoap
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      So you’re agreeing that the Tory party idea of a substantive re-negotiation whilst remaining in the EU is a non-starter? On that, at least, we all agree. Except the Tory party.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        @JoeSoap: I think there might be substantive re-negotiation because the UK is not alone in wanting certain changes and so there might be scope for some changes. But these will fall far short of wishes to have a number of treaties annuled. That is simply not going to happen

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Two really good things the Conservatives could easily do without any problems at all:

    Publish the fall in the number of civil Servants in the DfE since Mr Brown left office.

    Get on immediately with the renegotiation to see if anything – anything – is at all possible. Now that Mrs Merkel is back in place, this should be done now so that those of us who are hovering over the UKIP button can see what is possible. We will, you must know, not be lied to or promised away any longer: we have had enough of that.
    Action this day!

    Otherwise, Mr Miliband will be the next PM and God help us all.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Miliband is surely virtually inevitable I can see no escape with Cameron in place and no one can usefully replace him now. Cameron is aiming the tanker towards the rocks and it is too late to turn it round. They will surely come behind UKIP in May 14.

      • Hope
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        I think Cameron has been successful in destroying the Tory party. The analogy about hitting the rocks assumes his actions were unintended. I think rom anacdviser in the Majorca government to being in government now he has demolishing all obstacles for the UK to join the EU and the Euro. He was there at the Treasury on black Wednesday when the country lost billions to full a fanatical dream. JR and likes are a minority that is not listened to by Cameron and Co. Anyone who thinks a negotiation or fair referendum about the EU will take place is deluded. BBC still not reporting properly of the massacre of Christains in Pakistan. Why is the UK sending aide to this country? Only Cameron could make such a poor judgment.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Don’t be fooled by the “vote UKIP get Labour” scare tactic. There are all sorts of possible outcomes from the next General election, and based on current local government voting patterns that is far from the most likely.

      • Winston Smith
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        The political elite’s friends in the media and the commentariat are ramping up this message, in recent weeks. Most people do not realise how intertwined the media and political are.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    The lesson seems to be if you want to win three elections in a row it helps if your party to has a female leader with a science degree, preferably chemistry it seems. Though I would personally prefer a physics, but there are remarkably few female physicists about at all, and almost none in politics.

    Heart and Soul has already hugely weakened his EU renegotiation stance by saying he will never campaign to leave the EU and by making his love of the EU clear. Also by saying he will only start any negotiation after he has left power. His current odds of his winning a majority at the next election are only about 20%. Any coalition would kill the negotiation and is likely not to have a Tory membership of it anyway.

    Cameron’s main problem is that his word now has no value. If Miliband promised something (and he will if he has to), there is at least some chance we could believe him, with Cameron there is no chance as he has ratted on the EU, IHT and many other things already. He has shown complete contempt for voters and tory supporters and halved the tory membership.

    Miliband has at least acted well on Syria which is most encouraging. He will surely win and can not be that much worse (perhaps even better), than Cameron’s Tories at least on pointless wars.

    I will have to be a price worth paying forced on to the country by the dreadful, pro EU tax borrow and waste political disaster & socialist Dave Cameron. Why on earth did he ever join the Tories with his silly views?

    Reply Mr Blair was neither a woman nor a scientist but won 3 in a row.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      To reply:

      That is true but rather due to the fact that the foolish John Major drove the Tories over the cliff (just as Cameron is doing). With the entirely predictable failure of the ERM and his failure, even now, to learn the lessons or even apologise.

      Blair was dreadful especially his war on a blatant lie and acting as a poodle to both the USA and EU. But he was initially less economically incompetent than the memory of Major, the 15%+ interest rates, repossessions and the ERM fiasco.

      Major destroyed the parties reputation for economic competence and buried the party for 3 +terms. True Hague, IDS and Howard were all a big disappointment but in truth there was little they could do. Cameron has done little to restore this reputation so far. Worse still he has totally destroyed his credibility.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Doh!

    • matthu
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      John has correctly pointed out the flaw in your message. (Everything else you say is probably beyond dispute!)

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Quite; The EU it is built on cross trade and our production, I believe, is on the up, so why would others want to be awkward with our request for a better relationship. Our imports cost us too much , some we need some we don’t , but the UK can play at swapping goods anywhere, build in most regions and pay less than the lowest minimum in Countries who where the minimum would seem plentiful.

  5. John Bolton
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Your usual succinct and accurate analysis Mr. Redwood. But you have ignored a vital point. Mr. Cameron is a devotee of the EU. Can he seriously renegotiate? There is only one clear way – the use of Article 50 and membership of EFTA.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted September 24, 2013 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Article 50 is a sham. It has to be approved, if you read the small print, by the Parliament of Europe. This body can only vote on motions which are proposed by the Commission. Mr Barroso has already made it crystal clear in his State of the Union Speech for this year that he wants all the European countries, not just the Eurozone, to become part of a closer Union. In no way will he propose our exit.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    JR: ” If he cannot get a sensible deal then he will have to recommend refusal.”
    Dream on. No one can possibly believe that after what Cameron said in his Bloomberg speech and since. This was his attempt to shoot the UKIP fax which failed. His plan is to emulate Wilson in 1975 who achieved little in “renegotiation” but claimed he had and recommended staying in what was then called the Common Market. There are so many unanswered questions about the proposed referendum which add to the suspicion of deceit. Your leader is not trusted and suggesting that he would recommend leaving the EU is risible.

    • zorro
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      John, in this case, if Cameron does not recommend leaving the EU, I expect you, as a forfeit for trying to convince us that he would, to don a Hull City football shirt and dance an Argentinian tango with John Prescott in the Albert Hall for the entertainment of the masses……

      zorro

      Reply At least we will have an In/Out referendum and I will do everything in my power to win for Out if there is no decent deal for the UK on offer.

  7. Atlas
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    After hearing the German election results this morning, the following thought went through my mind:

    I wonder what new tune the Organ-grinder (Merkel) will be playing for the Monkey (Cameron) to jump to?

  8. Leslie Singleton
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Who says, apart from you just now of course, that “If he cannot get a sensible deal……he will have to recommend refusal”? First, I have never heard him say this, rather the opposite by report. Secondly, even if he has said it, surely you don’t expect us to believe him? He would find a way to prevaricate and wriggle out. In his own mind it would be for the good of the country to do so. This waiting till after the Election has in any event no sense to it at all given that he cannot possibly be certain he can deliver. To Hades with what the Liberals think of course.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Indeed.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    There are attempts to deceive the British public into believing that Merkel would be an ally of the UK in seeking to repatriate powers from the EU.

    It is true that as part of her election campaign she said that perhaps the time had come for the EU to “give something back” to the member states, but it was also made clear that she is not envisaging any treaty change for that purpose.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2393471/Germany-start-talks-clawing-powers-Brussels-weeks-major-boost-Cameron.html

    “Mrs Merkel has opened a secret back channel to Tory MPs who are working with the Foreign Office to draw up a list of demands for the renegotiation.

    She sent an envoy from her Christian Democrat party to talk to members of the 100-strong Fresh Start group of MPs – and he promised to support the UK as long as their proposals do not involve changing EU treaties.”

    So what use is that? Without EU treaty change any “concessions” extracted by Cameron would be no more than worthless, and probably temporary, sops to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate and persuade them to vote to stay in the EU, which is what he wants above all else, at more or less any cost; even if the 2017 referendum happened it would just be an attempt to rerun the 1975 referendum under Wilson, who also failed to secure any treaty changes during his “long, hard negotiations”.

    Not that Merkel is necessarily opposed to treaty changes, but like the treaty change that Cameron gave her for free through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011 they would be treaty changes to further integration, not to decentralise power.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 24, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Comment missed for moderation, pointing out that Merkel is against any EU treaty change to repatriate powers from the EU to member states.

  10. Peter Stroud
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I suppose there is no hope of persuading Mr Cameron to bring the promised EU referendum forward to 2015. Should he be in Downing St after the GE.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Well it would not make any difference as he clearly won’t be. Unless some huge “event” changes the landscape totally and gives him a working compass.

  11. Peter Davies
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It seems there are far too many smoke and mirrors with this strategy. For a start no one has told us what powers they want back.

    For me its ALL political and legal powers including the UK’s removal from CAP and CFP and all other treaties leaving only product standards and specifications making it a trade in goods and services only relationship.

    If that is genuinely what the Tories are seeking (which I doubt) then surely it would be simpler to cut and leave then negotiate an FTA without all the social bells and whistles so turning the 2015 GE into a pre referendum – except this time the party that promises the referendum actually DELIVERS it.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “The UK’s refusal to join the Euro, now common policy of Conservatives and Labour, puts us in need of a new and looser relationship with the emerging political union on the continent.”

    It may be their common policy at the moment, but I don’t assume that either party has permanently abandoned any thought of joining the euro, and as that “emerging political union” expands to encompass all of the EU apart from the UK, with Cameron’s blessing, there will be increasing pressure for the UK join as well.

    The salient facts are:

    1. Apart from the UK and Denmark, every EU member state is under a legal obligation to join the euro.

    2. That legal obligation is automatically imposed on every new member state.

    3. There is no mechanism for a country to leave the euro once it has joined.

    And:

    4. There is no guarantee that the British people would have a referendum on whether to join the euro; the so-called “referendum lock” law is not in any way entrenched against normal repeal, so a future government of whichever party or parties could simply use its Commons majority to override it and take us into the euro without a referendum, and as in point 3 once we were in the euro there would be no way out.

    Back in 2010 Cameron had the opportunity to demand EU treaty changes to nullify points 1, 2 and 3, in return for the EU treaty change being demanded by Merkel to ensure that the eurozone states would have the legal right to set up a permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, but instead on March 25th 2011 he just gave her that treaty change and got no other treaty changes as a quid pro quo.

    So you will understand, JR, why I do not trust him an inch.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      No one trusts him even a millimeter as doubtless Cameron would prefer it.

  13. ian wragg
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Funny how Roon can get things done despite the Limp Dumbs when he wants but his hands are tied over Europe.
    Most of us know there will be no meaningful negotiations and certainly not a referendum.
    What is stopping him publishing a list o0f powers he would like repatriating??

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      What is stopping him publishing a list of powers he would like repatriating?

      Err well, he can not think of any and does not want to keep “banking on about Europe”, he just want to kick it into the long grass until after he has left office with many on his MPs in 2015.

      Reply He will make proposals for the renegotiation following the full publication of exisiting powers currently underway.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        banging not banking

  14. forthurst
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    “The AFD attracted some support which tries to create the opposite pressure, but failed to win a single seat. This was a bad result.”

    The AfD only just failed to pass the 5% threshold from a standing start in February 2013. They are quite likely to do much better in the European Parliamentary elections next year together with other European Eurosceptic parties which is bad news for Frau Merkel and Mr Cameron, leaders of Europhile soft right parties.

    Reply 95% of German voters voting voted for strongly pro Euro pro EU parties.

    • Richard
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      “Reply 95% of Germans voted for strongly pro Euro pro EU parties.”

      AfD missed having a seat or seats by just 0.2 percentage points.

      Anyway, the important point for us is that those of the UK electorate who wish the UK to leave the EU must vote UKIP and not be frightened into voting Conservative for fear of letting Labour into power.

      Or otherwise the new governing party, including the Conservatives under Cameron, will say that so few people voted for UKIP that it shows there is no demand for an EU referendum.

      Reply I find it worrying that only 5% of the Germans can see the damage the Euro is doing and want to change it.

      • Richard
        Posted September 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply :

        The general opinion seems to be that the Euro has been very good for Germany because its value has been lower than would have been the value of the Deutschmark, and hence Germany has been able to have a booming export business. The fact that an over-valued Euro is a disaster for the countries of southern Europe does not worry the Germans (yet).

  15. Mark B
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Mrs. Merkel is pro-EU. She wants ALL members to join the Euro and that undermines your overall analysis.

    She does not have any natural allies which will enable her to form a majority government, especially as the Greens’ have said they they will not enter into a coalition with anyone.

    The AfD did not win any seats because they did not achieve the 5% minimum need – they got 4.8%, which, when you think about it, is quite an achievement being a new party and coming late into politics. So, I think that there is a very strong anti-EU sentiment in Germany which is may get stronger as the move to a Federal Europe begins to gather momentum.

    Cameron has yet to name one ‘major’ power he wishes to get back from the EU. These so called renegotiation and any referendum are unlikely to achieve much, if anything.

    I wish I could share our hosts optimism. But frankly, when you make even a cursory study of matters EU, ones hope fall far short of the reality of the situation.

    Reply Mr C And the government have named powers they want back even given the constraints of coalition – e.g. the current attempt to get back power over our benefit system and borders.

    • Dave B
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      ” Mr C And the government have named powers they want back ”

      What powers are these?

      Reply As I explained, they are currently seeking back powers over benefits and borders, and of course will opt out of many criminal justice powers etc.

      • Dave B
        Posted September 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        In his speech at the recent UKIP Conference Gerard Batten MEP said the Conservatives have transferred more criminal justice powers to the EU during this parliament

    • Mark B
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      John Redwood MP said:
      “. . . . attempt to get back power over our benefit system and borders. ”

      I am sorry Mr Redwood MP but you are in cloud cuckoo land if you think you are going to get even those two back. They are both covered by the EEA agreement and NOT the EU.

      This coming from a senior backbench politician and even my own government leads me to believe:

      1) you think we the people are stupid, and do not know much regarding the EU, EEA and EFTA.

      2) The political class are ignorant of these matters.

      Whilst I can take on the chin the first, the second gives me great cause to worry.

      Reply I am referring to the current court cases and to the negotiation to assert the right for us to decide who receives benefits, and to avoid paying benefits automatically to anyone using EU rights of movement of workers to come to the UK.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The underlying main problem for the Conservatives is that Party Policy is to remain in the EU. Worse, there is no Conservative vision of the UK out of the EU, let alone an argued case of how the UK would fare in such circumstances. So the options offered by theConservative are: (1) in the EU on the best terms that can be agreed; or (2) out of the EU into an undefined, uncertain future – a scary prospect.

    If one of the possible outcomes of renegotiation is failure, then we all need to know what that means for our futures. The Conservatives have no credibility on the UK/EU relationship until they address this fundamental point.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. What is to stop us negotiating at least outline trade deals with countries on the understanding we could put them in place should the UK vote to exit the EU?

      The thought of all those trade deals with booming, newly emerged, and emerging countries waiting in the wings might just sway many pro-EU people to think, “you know what? Those are pretty tasty prospects.”

      Or perhaps that’s why our government(s) aren’t doing it.

      Reply No government would waste time negotiating with us prior to our commitment to exit the EU. We still have a wait for a referendum to get out, even if we do get a Conservative government – with no way out if we don’t.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        No way out if we don’t and no way out if we do, which is highly unlikely anyway.

        Chance of a Tory majority 1/5, chance of a Tory party under Cameron getting a sensible arrangement with the EU after 2017 – perhaps 1/1000. Chance of both 1/5000. So forget it we might as well have the dreadful Miliband and Balls at least we will have no HS2 and no wars in Syria.

  17. cosmic
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    There are two options:

    Art 48 of the Consolidated Version of the TEU, which theoretically allows for wholesale renegotiation of the treaties to gain the concessions discussed. In practical terms this is so unlikely as to be not worth thinking about. Don’t forget that these are concessions which would break the Aquis Communautaire.

    Invoking Art 50 of the Consolidated Version of the TEU, which gives notice to quit and outlines a process for a future relationship with the EU, not as part of the EU.

    I don’t understand how this business of “negotiating with Mrs Merkel” or “negotiating with the EU” has any serious basis unless defined in terms of Art 48 or Art 50.

  18. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The Conservative Party would do well not to negotiate at all while in coalition and to include in its manifesto a full set of red lines. Given that we do not want to belong to a European federation based on the Euro, the logical thing to do is to ‘unsign’ the treaties that authorised and encouraged that Union. Specifically, we should repeal our Acts of Accession to the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties. Nor do we need a referendum to do this; there were no referendums when we signed the treaties.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      We need to go back further than Maastricht with the “unsigning”, to Rome via the Single European Act.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted September 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        The Single European Act gave us the closest we are likely to get to free trade within Europe. In practice, the commitment to ever closer Union will disappear once we repeal the 4 Acts of Accession that I have mentioned. The point of including agreed ‘red lines’ in the Conservative manifesto is obtain the approval of all Conservative Eurosceptics and of many UKIP supporters. We need to create a Eurosceptic majority in the next parliament. It can consist of Conservatives, Ulster Unionists, UKIP and a few Labour back benchers such as Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer and others.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 25, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          The commitment to “ever closer union” was stated in the very first line of the Treaty of Rome and merely reiterated in the Maastricht Treaty; therefore if we withdrew from Maastricht we would escape the reiteration but not the original statement. There would be no question of it somehow disappearing if we repealed the Acts of Accession to the last four treaties, either in principle or in practice; instead the other countries would still expect the UK to perform what it promised in the Treaty of Rome, and quite reasonably so; inevitably there would be constant pressure for us to agree to further integration, because that it what we said we wanted, so basically the whole process would start up again; moreover the fundamental idea that EEC/EC/EU law always has primacy over national law was deduced or invented by the lawyers on the Court of Justice on the basis of that commitment by the member states and we would not escape that either.

          The Single European Act abolished a swathe of national vetoes, and as Thatcher did not do the decent thing and put it to a national referendum it was a gross betrayal of the British people, who had been explicitly promised in the 1975 retrospective referendum on EEC membership that British ministers would always be able to veto a proposal which was against our national interests. We must get all those vetoes back, along with those abolished by later treaties.

          I know that there are some who believe that the so-called “Common Market” was OK but the European Union went too far, but that ignores the fact that Maastricht was a natural development of the process started by Rome and furthered through Thatcher’s Single European Act. Even plans for a single currency originated while it was still the supposedly harmless “Common Market”, and indeed in its official pamphlet for the 1975 referendum the Labour government gave the false reassurance that those plans had been dropped; and some of the current proposals for further integration to reinforce the eurozone, possibly dragging us in as well, depend on Single Market provisions in the treaties which date back to the Single European Act and which mean that we do not have a veto.

          Reply: Number of vetoes abolished:

          Rome 38
          Single European Act 12
          Amsterdam 24
          Nice 46
          Lisbon 68

          That’s Uk voters 38 (referendum 1975),Mrs Thatcher 12, Labour government 138.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted September 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            With very active assistance from Thatcher and other Tories, Wilson won the 1975 referendum on the basis set out in the official government pamphlet delivered to every household at public expense:

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

            That stated:

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

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

    • Mark B
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      We cannot ‘unsign’ the Treaties as you put it. We have put unto law the Lisbon Treaty which requires any member state to first declare their intention to leave. Then, and only then, will the other members of the EU renegotiate terms for our withdrawal. Much as I would like us to just leave, we can no longer do this. Nigel Farrage and UKIP have, rather belatedly, come round to this way of thinking. In time, others, including our kind host, will too.

      We have never had referendums on any of the EU Treaties, from Rome too Lisbon, why ? Because the requirement for such is not in our constitution, unlike say the Swiss.

      Which really rather baffles me as to why we need to have a referendum in say 2017. Particularly as a new treaty is in the offering. Some knowledgeable bloggers like Dr Richard North at EUReferendum seem to think proposals for such may be in the Spring of next year. If so, that is going to set back any renegotiation, as thee other member states will be very unlikely to play ball, particularly as their very existence, so to speak, is at stake.

      Reply The larger states in the EU do negotiate different arrangements without accepting the current Treaties when they wish to get changes. I suspect Germany would rather we negotiated than simply announced withdrawal, but if she doesn’t then we will have to announce withdrawal and I hope a majoirty of the Uk voters would then see why and go along with it. I am not sure a majority of voters would vote to simply withdraw without a negotiation.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted September 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        “We have put into law the Lisbon Treaty ………” You miss the key points of what I am proposing. European law applies to the United Kingdom only to the extent that we allow it to apply (and by ‘we’ I mean our parliament). That is the whole point of sovereignty. No treaty that the UK signs is irreversible. We don’t need to ask anybody for permission to do anything, as long as we have the means to defend these islands.

  19. Acorn
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Looks like a coalition with the Greens is on the cards in “Angieland”. No room for right wingers including AfD (euro sceptics) or FDP (big business and bankster party), which got wiped out as you say JR. Even the Greens and the Left parties took a bit of a hit, which nobody expected. Still no nukes are good nukes for Greens, the one big hurdle that now does not have to be jumped for a Green / CDU / CSU coalition.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Last I heard, the Greens do not want to be part of a coalition. Maybe they have had a good look at a mess ours is and the damage it might cause to their reputation, and thought, “Nahhh !”

    • Acorn
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Property Real Estate Investment Trusts have enjoyed a year of good performance, though they too were hit in the June tumble. All the time official interest rates stay down in the main countries, and all the time the world economy advances, there should be good prospects for tenant demand, for rents and for capital values. An increasing proportion of world economic output comes from large cities. As more people congregate in the big urban areas, and as more successful businesses establish and grow there, so property investors can benefit. (JR; Chairman of the Investment Committee at Evercore Pan Asset Management)

      I favour helping home ownership. Most people either own their own home or wish to do so. It is the most flexible type of housing, leaving you free to sell and move in a way which you cannot do from social housing. It is the kindest on the elderly, as by the time you retire you will have repaid the mortgage. If you live in rented accommodation you will pay the dearest rents in your elderly years when you have less income, which is far from friendly. It is the best to give you the greatest freedom to adapt, decorate and enhance your property as you see fit, and change it over the years as your family needs change and fashions evolve. It also means you own an asset, which may be useful as security for borrowings if you wish to venture in other fields. (JR on this site)

      Hypocracy rules OK.

      Reply Nonsense. REITs invest in commercial property not in people’s homes. There is no disagreement between the two different postings. The whole point about home onwership is that you own it not some landlord investor.

  20. John Wrake
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    Your post sets out clearly the options open to Mr. Cameron in relation to the E.U. with a re-elected Angela Merkel. Perhaps I may be allowed an analogy of the Conservative position as you view it.

    Political Britain is like an omnibus. You and your fellow M.P.s in the three established parties are like the expert mechanics which keep the bus running. There are those who are expert in the election (sorry, the electrical) system, those who are expert in the timing, those who know the lubrication (lobby) system, road holding and balance, etc. etc.

    The problem is that those holding the steering wheel, over which, two are pulling in opposite directions, while the third intent on emptying out the fuel, are not only incompetent, but perverse and take no notice of where the passengers wish to go.

    A bus like that is heading for a crash and mechanical experts cannot prevent it. Fine tuning the engine is no longer adequate.

    John Wrake

    Reply I just do not see anyone who can buy and drive a new bus better for us.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      We’re in worse trouble than we thought then!

    • matthu
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Better to crash the bus earlier rather than let it continue to pick up speed, then?

  21. lifelogic
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Listening to Mr Balls is rather depressing, but at least it look as if HS2 is dead. Balls is the dreadful price the UK will just have to pay. All thanks to Cameron’s ratting, incompetence and soft socialism. It could have been so different all for want of a working compass.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      How much has been wasted on HS2 so far and will still be until Labour finally kill the absurd project at 2015? And how many properties pointlessly blighted in the process?

      • Bazman
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        It would be mainly cheap flats rented by workers on NMW, so what would be the problem of property blight?

      • Bob
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        “How much has been wasted on HS2…?”

        Hundreds of millions I’d hazard a guess.

  22. Simon
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Merkel would have won an outright majority if it were not for AfD, the anti EU party, she would then have then been in a much stronger position to support the conservative desire for a renegotiation, as it is she will probably enter into coalition with the SPD. The same situation (CDU/AfD) exists between the conservatives and UKIP and should be a lesson for Mr. Cameron and all conservatives. If the current situation carries on Mr Stallard is probably right and Miliband will be elected by default.

    • cosmic
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      But she’s always ruled out treaty change as part of these renegotiations.

      Without treaty change, what would these concessions be worth? I think we’d see an attempted re-run of 1975 with nominal concessions blown up into a big deal (which they weren’t) and no fundamental change.

      Anyway, Merkel may be a powerful figure, but getting the rest of the 27 to go along with treaty change which would involve a significant repatriation and give us a semi-detached status, is unlikely to be something she could arrange.

      I really don’t see how Merkel’s fate in the German elections makes much difference.

      If we are serious about wanting powers repatriated, it isn’t likely this could happen whilst remaining members of the EU, even if Merkel agreed.

      Reply That’s why the offer of the referendum is key – if they do not negotiate seriously the UK voters vote for Out.

      • cosmic
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply:

        But the only way the EU will take the negotiation seriously is if it is part of invoking Art 50 and exit, so we may as well cut to the chase.

        Reply And there is no majority for Article 50 exit in the current Parliament! Why can’t people writing into this site grasp that simple point? I have to work with the Parliament you helped elect, not with some imaginary Parliament you wish the public had elected.

        • cosmic
          Posted September 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          Well we’ve got a bit of a poser on our hands because, there’s no reason to believe the next parliament will be less enthusiastic about the EU than the present one. If it’s Conservative, there’ll be a grudging, maybe, concession to hold a referendum and every indication that Mr. Cameron, (who’d presumably still be leader after a victory) sees our future in ‘Europe’ and would push things in that direction, as is his declared intent.

          I don’t trust him an inch and that’s a general problem you’ve got.

          Your position depends on the political will to negotiate with the EU, (actually to present an ultimatum) and treat a refusal as the the degenerate case of a negotiation. “They wouldn’t negotiate, so no conditions have been met, what do you make of that?”. I doubt Mr. Cameron sees things that way and would seek to adjust matters.

          I smell an attempted re-run of 1975 coming.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 25, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        “That’s why the offer of the referendum is key – if they do not negotiate seriously the UK voters vote for Out.”

        Well, the other countries knew that the Labour government under Wilson was going to follow up the negotiations with an “in-out” referendum, but that did not induce them to make any significant concessions – there was nothing that required treaty change – and yet the wrong side still managed to win the referendum.

        Reply In a democracy the will of the people should prevail.

    • Dave B
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      “The same situation (CDU/AfD) exists between the conservatives and UKIP ”

      The CDU is pro-EU and pro-Euro. The AfD is pro-EU and anti-Euro.

      The parliamentary Conservative Party is pro-EU. UKIP is anti-EU.

      Reply Not so. IN Germany only the AFD is Eurosceptic. In the UK the Eurosceptic vote is split between UKIP and Conservative.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Dave B is correct. He clearly wrote: “The parliamentary Conservative Party is pro-EU. UKIP is anti-EU.” That is correct – just how”the Eurosceptic vote is split” is open to question.

        Reply The Parly Conservative party is committed to a new relationship with the EU because it does not support our current membership on current terms. It also includes pull outers, and others who want a looser arrangement.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted September 24, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          Reply to reply,
          The question is how many Conservative MPs would vote to stay in the EU if the current membership terms do not change. My feeling is that large majority would so vote.

  23. Dan H.
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    The satirist Ambrose Bierce defined allies as “Two thieves with their hands so deeply inserted in each others’ pockets that they cannot separately plunder those of a third”, and this description adequately describes the relationship between the EU and many European states. Merkel wants the EU to remain so the Euro stays weaker than the Deutschmark would be, and continues to feed German industry; she also want the EU regulation to continue to allow Germany to outsource its need for nuclear power to France (so that the nitwit Greens she is allied with can continue with their inane chant of “No more nukes” whilst using nuclear power to run German industry).

    The EU by contrast is hardwired to expand, to seek ever-greater power and to parasitise its hosts ever more heavily. It also churns out huge volumes of regulations, not really through choice but more because that is what large parts of the EU system do, and because nobody thought to include a rate-limiter in the system. The UK Parliament suffers from similar legislative diarrhoea.

    The net effect is that the EU and the member states now sit in a state somewhere between parasitism and symbiosis, with the line perpetually shifting, and where the parasite seems well able (as is commonly the case) to influence the hosts’ thinking capabilities.

    Our task is really quite simple: do we want to fully submit to this parasitism, or not?

    Reply A referendum is essential so people can have their say.

  24. John Wrake
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Reply to reply at 11.37:

    Mr. Redwood,

    You write ” I just do not see anyone who can buy and drive a new bus better for us”.

    Well, I do. I can think of a number of parliamentarians, including yourself and others of like mind, who know how to drive, who know what the passengers want and expect, and are quite capable of the job, if only they had the courage of their convictions and unshackled themselves from a party machine which is more interested in power and privilege, rather than the good of the country.

    There are varieties of loyalty and ‘loyalty among thieves’ is the least enviable.

    John Wrake

    Reply If a Conservative MP set his own Conservative party it just splits the Eurosceptic vote even more. Labour would love it.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      I would feel happier with this reply if there was a mechanism for purging pro EU candidates from the Conservative list.

  25. Iain Gill
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Merkel will drive the so called EU/India trade agreement through which forces all of Europe to accept unlimited workers from India, guess where they will be coming as almost all educated Indian nationals speak English and not German. Germany will gain many more exports and none of the downsides of this agreement. Nice trick if you can get away with it.

  26. JoeSoap
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Far too many “ifs”.
    It will never happen.

    When Labour get elected, it will be too late. IF your leadership were interested in doing something now, they would set themselves free from this tie-up with Mr 8% Clegg, and paradoxically they would get the support they would then deserve at the next election. This is a man who laughs at good Tory policies, and only picks the wishy-washy ones to let through.

    Fortune favours the brave.

  27. uanime5
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    If the UK – with the Netherlands and a few others – argues strongly for powers back, by definition the mid point or consensus will have shifted and Mrs Merkel will wish to reflect that.

    According to the CIA in 2012 Germany’s exported most of their products to the following countries:

    France 10.2%
    UK 7%
    Netherlands 6.9%
    US 6.3%
    Austria 5.6%
    Italy 5.4%
    China 5.1%
    Switzerland 4.7%
    Belgium 4.3%
    Poland 4.1%

    So the UK will also need the support of France, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and Poland if we want to form a block that Germany will have to listen to.

    Reply Not so – we are an important market for Germany and she would not want to annoy us too much.

  28. Fairweather
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why you are so disingenuous about Ukip
    They have their policies – divorce from the EU
    Conservative have their policy – stay in
    People are now more focused on these issues with half a MILLION people coming to this country from Eastern Europe every year because of open borders
    Let us all vote next time and we will see what happens
    The European elections next year will be a sort of referendum on leaving the EU
    Nigel needs to keep his powder dry. Everyone knows his convictions so when the time comes people can vote for him or not wherever he stands

    Reply If UKIP take this line and say a vote for them is a referendum on Out of the EU, they will do a lot of damage, as they will poll well below 50% and seem to show the UK wants to stay in!

  29. Tim
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    The thing I do not understand about Mr Redwood is that he is astoundingly clever. He is a fellow of All Souls. For that reason whenever I disagree I always re-question my views. Is this article evidence that little me, wallowing in relative intellectual backwardness can have in fact recognised ahead of the mighty Redwood that renegotiation was always an empty sham? I’m not expecting a call from All Souls soon.

    Maybe he will also now realise that entering negotiations with Cameron stating he would never support an exit is also not a smart bargaining tactic.

    Reply I think we need to negotiate first then have an In/Out vote. If you are wrong, and we get a good deal, what’s not to like? If you are right and there is no meaningful negotiaiton then the floating voters will have every reason to join the Out people and vote us out. Moving straight to an In/out could result in In winning.

  30. John Wrake
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    Your reply to Tim at 11.14:” I think we need to negotiate first then have an In/Out vote.”

    You are still stuck at that point of accepting that all that has happened in our relationship with the European Union has been lawful and acceptable and we need to undertake policies which are consistent with gentlemanly behaviour.

    Our membership was begun by a Prime Minister who lied to the electorate, who signed up without the electorate having a choice and entered a Union of closet (authoritarians ed) intent on creating a European Superstate. The political class have given away the freedoms which former generations of British people fought and died for. We no longer control our Law, our borders, our trade with the world.

    You do not negotiate with those intent on destroying your way of life. You defy them and if current parliamentarians don’t have the stomach for it, you will be swept away by those who do.

    John Wrake

    Reply It is the voters who voted Yes to the EEC in 1975 in a referendum and the same voters who have elected federalist Parliaments 1997-2010

  31. John Wrake
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Reply to Reply at 11.08

    The voters who voted Yes to the 1975 referendum were voting for an economic arrangement and not a political union. In any case, this referendum was a confirmation of the decision made in 1972, when voters had not been consulted, but had been given a false prospectus.
    I speak from personal experience.

    The voters since have elected parliaments on the basis that politicians were telling the truth. The broken promises on referenda and weasel words have continued to deceive the electorate. The record of the administrations from 1997 to date is one that honest citizens view with shame. Do not blame the lies on those who have been deceived. Recognise, from the evidence of falling membership and from reluctance to vote at all, that federalist parliaments have scraped in from minorities of minorities among the population in percentage terms. Now, ordinary folk have worked it out.

    For the governed, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. For parliamentarians, that light really is the headlight of the approaching train.

    John Wrake

    Reply Voting in the 1975 referendum was one of my first votes. I read the Treaty of Rome, saw it was about ever closer union, spoke out against staying in the EEC and voted No. With the rest of the No campaign I lost by a big margin. Why can’t Eurosceptics coming onto this site grasp that changing our relationship with the EU requires political leadership and persuasion, as the public does not regard pulling out of the EU tomorrow as their priority and for that reason has not elected a single UKIP MP in 20 years.

  32. John Wrake
    Posted September 25, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    You write “With the rest of the No campaign I lost by a big margin. Why can’t Eurosceptics coming onto this site grasp that changing our relationship with the EU requires political leadership and persuasion, as the public does not regard pulling out of the EU tomorrow as their priority and for that reason has not elected a single UKIP MP in 20 years.”

    The No campaign in 1975 lost by a large margin because the electorate then believed that both Conservative and Labour Governments between 1972 and 75 were acting in the country’s interests with the massive Yes campaigns, first for entry and then for continued membership. You may have read the Treaty, but most believed the lies that this was just about trade.

    As for UKIP’s lack of M.P.s – you, as an experienced and intelligent M.P. well know that our First Past The Post system favours established Parties. In addition, So-called Leaders of those Parties have consistently rubbished UKIP, aided by the BBC and the newspapers, which, either by silence on UKIP activity or hostile comment, have sought to influence public opinion.

    Your comment that the public have no desire to leave the E.U. as an immediate priority reflects the deceptions which have been practised by the established parties. Ask the public if they want uncontrolled immigration, free health care and welfare benefits for all who come,
    inability to deport foreign criminals because of their rights, concerns about pressure on school places, the cost of electricity and gas -the answer is clear from the correspondence columns nation-wide.

    Incidentally, how many M.P.s did the Labour Party have in the first twenty years of its existence?

    John Wrake

    Yes, it requires leadership – and what do we have? – Cameron, Clegg and Milliband!

  • 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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