What would a new UK relationship with the EU look like?

Those who want the UK to stay in the current EU at all costs argue either that there is no alternative, or argue that any kind of trade based relationship outside would be worse. They say we would have no influence over the rest of the EU from outside. They say we would have to accept whatever rules and regulations they set for trade within their area. They conflate this with wider influence in the world.

Most of this is silly nonsense. The UK will never have the same relationship as Switzerland or Norway, the two cases usually trotted out. The UK is a much larger country, a much more important market for the rest of the EU, and above all a global power as a leading member of NATO, the Commonwealth and the UN security Council. The UK is in many global networks. The UK from these positions can both seek to influence and persuade others, and in turn is courted for her support.

The UK should begin its renegotiations with the rest of the EU with two simple propositions. The first is that the UK fully accepts the logic of the single currency. The UK will not stand in the way of Eurozone members completing a political union to complete their currency union, as long as the rest of the EU understands this necessitates a new and looser relationship for the UK. As the one large country that can never join the currency union for democratic and economic reasons, we need an honest analysis and new deal based on that obvious truth.

The second is that the UK wishes to remain or become again a national democracy, where the main decisions are taken by Parliament, and where the voters can change government, policy and the law at a General Election when they cease to please. This means the UK cannot sign up to irreversible EU laws. The UK may by agreement accept joint laws, but it must in important cases reserve the right to change its mind.

Once these two simple propositions are grasped, the rest falls into place. The UK may agree to common foreign policy actions, but we will always have a veto on whether to join in or not. The UK can discuss and see if there can be common cause on laws governing business, energy or whatever, but they will only be common all the time both sides still consent. UK exporters will of course meet EU requirements on all goods and services exported to the rest of the EU, just as they observe all US requirements on exports to the US. In some cases the UK will find it easier and better to have exactly the same rules for EU exports to us. In other cases we will have our own rules. They will all be compliant with World Trade obligations and be designed to promote freer trade.

If we take the one issue usually produced as an attempted show stopper, the 10% external tariff on car exports, I would expect both sides to agree not to impose such a tax in either direction. The UK will be a willing partner in measures which cut tariffs and other barriers to mutual trade.

The UK will have enhanced influence in the rest of the world as it will no longer have to submit to common EU positions in global talks on issues ranging from climate change to trade arrangements. With the EU the UK will have the clout of a major trade partner who imports more than she exports from the rest of the EU, and the status that one of Europe’s large and powerful countries will always have when leading European countries sit down to discuss many global and regional issues.

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91 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    You say:- “Once these two simple propositions are grasped, the rest falls into place.” Well perhaps, but not even the Tory leadership have grasped this yet. Cameron has, so far, asked for nothing but a fig leaf. He probably will not even be in place to ask for anything at all post May 7th thank to his lack of vision and broken compass.

    You say “The UK will never have the same relationship as Switzerland or Norway” – indeed we need a far better deal than the ones they have. We will be able to obtain one should we ever insist on it. This by virtue of our position as a large market for the EU they need our market more than we need theirs. Cameron alas is not even asking for anything real or substantive.

    “Those who want the UK to stay in the current EU at all costs argue either that there is no alternative, or argue that any kind of trade based relationship outside would be worse. They say we would have no influence over the rest of the EU from outside.”

    This position is clearly compete and utter drivel. We will have far more influence when we are free to accept or not accept EU rules than the current position of essentially top down anti democratic rule from Brussels. With the current position, even if every MEP the UK sent was a Nigel Farage clone they would still have virtually zero influence. The UK only has about 10% of the MEPs.

    MEPs anyway have little power. They are essentially just a very expensive fake democratic veneer. The power largely rests with unelected & clearly incompetent (and often corrupt) bureaucrats. Bureaucrats with mad, power hungry, dreams like the EURO, CAP, health and safety, employment, transport, energy, common fishing policy, breaking up the UK, standardisation of everything and the likes.

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Just like Canada vis-à-vis the US–ask any Canadian. Canada has a much smaller population than we do and exports a much greater percentage (about 75 %) of its exports to the US without all the baloney about “no influence” and no border and being told what to do by foreigners of different culture, history, geography and just about anything one cares to name. Given their common language and heritage one might if anything have expected a bigger desire for homogenisation across the pond. And as for the EU preventing conflict, don’t make me laugh or rather cry. Don’t see much rebuttal of any of this because there is none.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Postscript–Unfortunately the argument that “they” need our market more than we need theirs is not much cop because there is no “they” in the sense that each and every EU nation has to agree to any changes, certainly significant ones, and I cannot see that happening, at least not the way the wretched EU thinks it should. Some of these places many, certainly including me, could not find on a map. We are likely to have to act unilaterally.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Mr Redwood you are effectively stating UKIP policy but you are a member of the Conservative and LibLab legacy parties who’s stated intentions is to remain in the EU dictatorship come what may.
      The lies are out. The EU is a political project to create a United States of Europe by incremental stealthy step. With an unelected President, Commissioners who decide on the majority of our laws and have them rubber stamped by MEP’s who give them to Westminster to enact. You lot with very little to do then pretend you made the majority of the laws and policy given to you by the EU. Metrification, unlimited immigration anyone? The British under legacy party rule must do as it is told by the EU.
      The charade is over. We want our sovereignty and democracy back. The legacy parties refuse us this choice so must be removed. We are no longer a self ruling Country as can be seen by the handover of most of our competencies to the EU dictatorship.

  3. Brian Taylor
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    That sounds good, would you please expand on the financial and political side, we would I take it have no need to have MEPs nor pay into the EU as in effect we would have LEFT the EU as we know it?
    I take it to get to the above point we would have had some form of renegotiation and a referendum.
    As I have mentioned before I voted to stay in The Common Market in 1975.
    I hope I live long enough to vote to leave and see the creation of The Common Market without the cost!!!!!

    Reply Yes a renegotiation and referendum. NO we would not need MEPs.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      MEPs are clearly pointless and very expensive too. They add nothing to any real EU democracy. MPs will become pointless too soon with the current direction of travel to destroy such residual democracy as still pertains.

      • Hope
        Posted February 16, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        MEPs are to help the deception that there is democracy by the people participating in some form of election. The fact that MEPs influence very little matters not, it helps the illusion.

        When people listen to the Ken Clarke types of the world just remember he would have the UK in the Euro just like the other EU fanatics, and where would the UK be now?
        That alone should be a reason for any right minded person not to vote for the LiblabCon cartel.
        What True Tory would want to be part of an organisation where former communists, socialists, Maoists and other social engineers are in place to make every country the same including mass immigration? Do not think the self acclaimed heir to Blaire is any different. He has failed to negotiate anything for our country when he had ample opportunity to do so, he failed to deliver his promises on the Lisbon Treaty- giving away more sovereignty in the creation of the Constitution for the EU superstate and gave away our taxes to promote closer union to the EU when he stated otherwise. If that was not enough he could not give a fig about individual liberty of each citizen when he promoted the EAW and broke another promise to allow his own MPs to debate the subject. Why would anyone vote for Cameron?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Please take the time to read this:
      http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/TheNorwegianWay

    • DaveM
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Our current MEPs have absolutely no influence anyway so it wouldn’t make a jot of difference.

    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Reply Yes a renegotiation and referendum. NO we would not need MEPs.

      What you seem to suggest, without actually saying it, is that we should give notice to leave the EU by invoking Article 50 and then negotiate trade-terms from a position of strength. Unfortunately that is not what Cameron is proposing is it?

      Richard North’s variation on the Norway option (Flexcit), which you dismiss in your article is, in the opinion of many of us, by no means silly. It offers a way of expediting Article 50 negotiations by adopting an off-the-shelf solution for an interim period during which trade talks between UK and the rest of the world culminate in FTA’s able to compensate for existing agreements between the EEA and non-EU states. Such as approach would get the UK out of harms way with regard to CAP, CFP, EAW and creeping political integration.

      Despite all the evidence to the contrary Cameron still seems to think that the EU can be turned into an intergovernmental organisation rather than the supranational beast is was always intended to be. The day we get some honesty from the Conservative Party in this regard will be the day I might consider voting for them again.

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted February 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Well, I’m not voting for any of the 3 major parties. I have always been a staunch Tory supporter but not since Cameron has been leader. He talks a good act but doesn’t follow up with anything useful and sounds the same as Milliband and Clegg. How can many Tory MP’s do nothing but tell us about the bad things when we belong to the EU and then tell us we must vote to stay in? I have seen nothing positive about staying in the EU but we know when the referendum comes up (if Cameron stays in) the weak willed politicians together with the scaremongering BBC will convince everyone we will be better off in. This is because all they will go on about is the loss of jobs!! There won’t be any loss of jobs and perhaps a lot more created if we leave the EU and all the ridiculous red tape that goes with it ensuring job losses. Renewable energy is one of the most destructive policies regarding job losses. The meagre job creation in renewables is diluted further by the fact that most of the work force is foreign! The developers bring their own workers over and many locals don’t get a look in. Thousands of jobs in heavy industries in the EU have been lost due to EU policy over the fallacy of man made global warming. Many of us are fed up with having the wool pulled over our eyes and it is about time some of the frightening undemocratic ways of the EU were exposed to the general public who might then see what a waste of money our EU contributions are. Honesty in politics today is a rarity.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I think those of us on the eurosceptic side need to come up with a formula under which we remain nominally ‘in’ the EU but have the sort of relationship outlined by JR above. If it becomes a simple in-out there is a good likelihood In will win as Out will be painted as a leap in the dark / loss of influence / 3m jobs to go etc. That’s the way opinion looks at the moment. So if we want to achieve in practice the sort of relationship JR outlines, what we need is a face saving formula for the EU under which the Uk stays in with MEPs etc but has an opt out of all the anti market EU regulation protectionism and subsidy. Happily, the need for eurozone integration provides exactly such a mechanism. All the UKs opt outs could be justified by reference to this.

      • Mark B
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        I am sorry, Richard1 but that is absolute tosh !

        As a regular contributor to our kind hosts site, I would expect a little better of you. We know that you are very pro-Conservative Party, but really, there is no excuse.

        • Richard1
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          Ok. Got any arguments against it?

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Those of us who long ago moved through the sceptical phase and became convinced of the need to the UK to leave the EU do not want to be “in” in any way, shape or form.

        We can have friendly and constructive international relationships with the EU, and the rest of the World.

        “Out” can be painted in honest, rosy terms.

        • Richard1
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I very much doubt it will win based on current opinion polls. A renegotiation has a much better cbance of getting the right result

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Yep , people would vote for the status quo .

            That is without the fear mongering campaign that our wonderful impartial state sponsored broadcaster would be waging .

            Trouble is , all the EU and it’s supporters have to do is play a waiting game .

            Those of us know have known what a Britain that governed itself will be replaced by a new generation of children who have been brainwashed in school and know no different .

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Richard–But unhappily there are so many Brussels types who, apart from their obsession with homogenisation, get so much personally out of the EU that they would die in a ditch rather than allow opt outs worthy of the name; plus the agreement of every country is needed which as above I do not see coming, not voluntarily anyway.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        We’ve heard “Happily, the need for eurozone integration provides exactly such a mechanism” and such like for years now, we know it has never come to pass and see no reason to think it will do so in the future.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        http://www.brugesgroup.com/eu/britain-and-europe-the-culture-of-deceit.htm?xp=paper

        Read this re the nonsense spouted by the lying Europhiles.
        I don’t know how many times it needs stating that the EU is a POLITICAL project for the creation of a superstate. You don’t have to be in it to trade with it e.g. China, USA, Japan, Korea etc etc!

  4. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    If we produce stuff that people want to buy and can be configured for anybody to buy then no special agreement(s) is necessary. Try making more of that stuff…soon! Its “businesses and hard working families” after all, who have to stump up the taxes to make all the EU cr*p work. Wasted effort to a bureaucracy that is not needed.

    The EU will surely ensure that the products of the financial centre in London will not exist for too long, as we have known it. So it might be a good idea to relieve us of the EU restrictions on our ability to produce, and early. Emission Targets and other EU directives that cost and disadvantage us. Just reject it all.

    I think we also need to review our operations with the UN/NATO and the current administration of the USA. Ukraine is but one example of dangerous behaviour on the part of these organisations. My american friends are very concerned about the behaviour of the USA in Europe…for one. I am too…it damn right dangerous.

    Too many VI’s around to enable any of this.

  5. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    You have said this again and again in various forms . I agree with you .What we need with the EU is concordance not compliance.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      The EU is what it is. And what it is, is what its treaties make it. And that is, a UNION.

      As such, you are either IN or OUT !!!

      Which is it to be ?

      • bigneil
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        I would rather use the term Dictatorship than Union. All they want is money for their own egos. Cameron is extremely good at giving them taxpayers money, but then there are those here who are clearly NOT paying tax who want to stay in the EU. Corruption among the elite is as rampant as ever.

        • Jerry
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          @bigneil; “I would rather use the term Dictatorship than Union”

          Are we still talking about the EU or are you now talking about the UK, because there are some who might think your comment best describes aspects of life in the UK!

  6. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    From “outside” the EU this new UK relationship “with” the EU looks the basis of something very attractive.

    To this should be added the new UK relationship with the rest of the World, in particular the Commonwealth. Lets hear about that.

    Then comes the show-stopper, the way all this can be achieved. But there is a glimmer of hope, and by May 8th “yes we can” could be burning bright. You just have to vote for it to happen.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      What I think our kind host is suggesting, is some sort of, EU-Lite. Pure fantasy.

      Reply I am suggesting negotiating each matter on its merits as a sovereign nation!

      • Mark B
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply

        To be considered a Sovereign Nation, we must have exclusive use of all powers over all policy areas. Currently, we do not.

        Your proposals as I understand them, would leave the UK in an even worse position. Cambell-Bannerman and Myrtle do not have exclusive rights to the best means by which the UK can seek a new ‘relationship’ with the EU.

        Perhaps you might take some trouble, and some time, to read Dr. R. North’s proposal – FLEXIT. The you could write a piece on its advantages and disadvantages ?

        • Richard1
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          Nonsense. The piece above suggests signing up to such arrangements as suit the UK and reserving the right to leave them. If you want exclusive use of all powers – whatever that means – that would preclude any treaties at all, including for example membership of NATO

  7. JimS
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    If only we could be as well off as Norway. They get to chair the UN committee on fisheries, we don’t even have a seat. They have a non-existent car industry yet have a seat on the UN committee; we have a major car industry but don’t get a look in. Yes Norway ‘suffers’ from ‘fax diplomacy’, once they have helped set the UN policy they send the ‘fax’ to the EU to tell them to act!

    Minor countries like Canada and Australia have had trade treaties with the US for decades, yet we and ‘the largest trading group in the world’ haven’t managed that yet.

    Far from being an enabler the EU prevents us acting quickly in both our international and domestic interests.

  8. agricola
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The trade argument is just so much bovine scatology. As to complying with EU regulation on specification and trade, we do already. It is one of the requisites of business that you endeavour to give the customer what he wants. I fear that the truth behind the “Stay in” scaremongering is really self interest. The pro lobby like it because :-

    1. They like the generally socialist basis of the EU. To them this basis is more important than the result.

    2. Big business wishes to stay in because they can control the market place for their own ends.

    3. Politicians and civil servants support the big business argument because they are on a promise of largesse when their first career ends. There was a classic example of this in the Daily Mail yesterday.

    4. Lawyers love it because they have made a fortune out of the legislation that spews from the EU.

    5. Bankers love it because they can enjoy very good returns from loans to dodgy national clients. That is of course until it all goes pear shaped and governments bale them out with taxpayers money.

    6. A general fear, emanating from the dependency culture, of standing on ones own two feet without a support system at hand should you falter. Wise up readers you are a major part of the support system of the EU.

    The logic of your paragraphs 3 & 4 is that we leave the political EU via Article 50. There is no workable pick and mix option. Renegotiation is just a muddying of the waters to try to confuse those voting in a referendum. If you have not been listening, the EU have made it abundantly clear that renegotiation on the main issues that concern the people of the UK is a none starter. Nor could we trust our civil service or current parliamentarians to conduct a renegotiation because their desired outcome is in conflict with that of the British people.

    After our intentions are clear to those in Brussels we can list those areas which we are happy to continue to cooperate with, such as air traffic regulation, Interpol, etc. Only then can we start to enjoy having our country back in our control, a sovereign Parliament and our own law.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Whist I agree with many of your points John, I simply do not see Cameron, Miliband, or Clegg agreeing, or even wanting, anything like this at all.

    So far Cameron has outlined only a pathetically small list of trivial requests.
    Miliband and Clegg have listed absolutely nothing.

    Cameron has shown he has few negotiation skills with his past performance, (Coalition agreement and the Scottish Vow) and seems to throw OUR money away like some drunk every time he goes abroad.
    His choice of outside people to key positions has been dire and full of later controversy, and he has already stated that he wants to stay in Europe.

    I do not wish to be a defeatist, but the only way to stand a chance of getting what you want, is to actually leave (or at the least, apply to leave by a certain date), stop paying our contributions and then start negotiations for a trade and co-operation deal.

    To do this he would need to secure the services of a certain Mr Farage, yourself, and/or a few of your like minded colleagues to negotiate on our behalf, who would all actually believe in what they were doing.

    Failure to do the above I fear will lead to us continuing to pay our massive contributions for trade access only, which would be a financial disaster.

  10. Douglas Carter
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Sorry to start with a statement of what ostensibly might be obvious, but it needs to be set out;

    It would pre-suppose a UK Parliament which has already emplaced legislative articles to remain outside the EU and (presumably) will conduct its affairs accordingly with clarity of communications with any UK electorate. That some hypothetical politically integratory re-engagement with the EU must be conducted so with the honesty that was lacking in the fifty years up to this date.

    In terms of ‘relations with the EU’ I’d want to see the UK adopt a strict first-principle that the EU (as it currently stands) is not a nation. It’s an administration which conducts mediation of legislation between nations to adopt common postures and stances. It also acts as an intermediary for adoption of trading standards, laws and articles which pass to it from relevant bodies above the EU to which nearly all nations worldwide already possess individual membership of. But the EU is not a Country, and no British Administration should consider itself under an obligation to reward the vanity of some senior figures in the EU who have convinced themselves otherwise.

    However, if the EU in those terms wants to define itself early as an aspirant programme to create a single defined Country, let that body advise the UK Government and electorate accordingly with the requisite legal clarity. Thereby, the main host of the electorates within the nation states of the EU might be alerted to that notion. They themselves will then have the opportunity to make their deliberations with regard to the EU as a matter of democratic course.

    But until then, any UK Government should conduct its affairs with the EU as it does any other organisation well below the status of a single democratic entity, such as NATO, or the ICRC. As in, it is only a limited-purpose body for specific administrative and executive affairs.

  11. Douglas Carter
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    With respects due to Dr. North of the EU Referendum Blog, you might find these contributions useful John. At some point a blueprint for EU withdrawal will be needed and this one seems by far to be the most comprehensive.

    ‘Comprehensive’, naturally doesn’t necessarily mean ‘perfect’ however, on the basis that something would be worth at least considering in advance, a programme the Bruges Group are interested has also appeared here. Personally, I think it deserves much wider acknowledgement.

    http://civitas.org.uk/newblog/2015/02/new-study-the-norwegian-model-is-a-viable-brexit-option/

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/TheNorwegianWay

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      The very fact that the UK Government and no major, or aspiring to be major, political party has any such plan, screams volumes to me.

  12. Jerry
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    John, you seem to be suggesting that the UK will, should any referendum result mean we stay in the EU, exist as an almost shadowy figure, either walking out through the doorway marked “EU”or back in as and when it suits – good luck with that one! Also NATO is a red herring in all this, Germany has always been a more (strategic) important country, and will continue to be, hence the recently announced US EIC review and resultant restructuring that will see a move away from UK bases to Germany.

    I suspect the UK will be given three choices: 1/. remain and be a part of the whole package (and that will include both the Euro and Schengen), 2/. reduce our membership to that of EEA or EFTA status, or 3/. leave entirely and trade etc. with the EU on the same basis as the RotW does.

    In this regard those who say that the UK can’t renegotiate our membership terms are correct, and why should the majority of broadly content EU member countries play second fiddle to the UK on this, as I’ve said before (elsewhere on your site) what Cameron needs to do is see if he can bring some of the big(ger) players within the EU with him to modify the whole and not just how far we can be through the doorway, after all if it makes sense for the UK to have changes made to how the Euro works or Schengen is implemented (for examples) then it will surely make sense for others too – no? If he can do this then the UK is in a better position should a majority of voters decide for the UK to remain within the EU, bearing in mind that I suspect most people will vote in any such referendum on political or economic ideology rather than any hard facts.

    The UK, perhaps because of the two world wars, always seems to think that it is a special case, that might have been true at one time but 15 years into the 21st century it no longer applies.

    • Douglas Carter
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      ‘why should the majority of broadly content EU member countries play second fiddle to the UK on this’

      At no point, not from the beginning right up to this point has Cameron indicated he was seeking a UK-unique settlement. That any concessions or alterations he might achieve would be available across the EU should any state or states wish to take them up. If Spain was seeking specific derogations for its own electorate, you won’t find me obstructing that. It would be ‘good luck to them’.

      Because as far as I’m concerned, the electorate of Spain can justly consider themselves as special cases. A title I’d award to the individual electorates of each and every nation in the EU.

    • Longinus
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Agree that only 3 outcomes are possible.

      Our affairs are too intertwined with those of the EU to have it any other way. For example, foreign policy – how can we opt out of decisions on military intervention if the EU has a common army that we are part of ?

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      You seem to have bought into the, ‘renegotiation meme’ ? You believe that better terms can somehow be extracted from compliant EU Member Countries. They cannot !

      One of the fundamental rules of the EU is, once a power is ceded too the EU, it NEVER be returned. Therefore, you will not get anything meaningful, as the Commission will not allow it. Because if the UK got something back, then all the other Member Countries can ask for various powers back. And that will be the unraveling and lead to the eventual end of the EU itself. In short – It ain’t going to happen.

      You can leave the EU and go straight into the EEA / Single Market with EFTA membership. This would negate long and difficult negotiations as many of the rules are already in place. ie A ready made option. Once out of the EU, we can then begin the process of filtering out and getting rid of many unnecessary laws, regulations and rules, whilst at the same time, seeking bi-lateral trade agreements with other countries and eventually, the EU itself.

      Not one giant leap into the dark, more a gradual withdrawal.

      ie FLEXIT

      • Jerry
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        @Mark B; “You seem to have bought into the, ‘renegotiation meme’ ? You believe that better terms can somehow be extracted from compliant EU Member Countries. They cannot !”

        Then I would hope, and plea, that the UK does indeed decide to leave!

        “Therefore, [the UK] will not get anything meaningful, as the Commission will not allow it. Because if the UK got something back, then all the other Member Countries can ask for various powers back.”

        That is were so many Eurosceptics get confused, surely it’s not about getting concessions for the UK -as you say, we wont- it’s about persuading the others that there is a better way to do things within the EU umbrella.

        What I have “bought into” is political realism, the fact that the UK might not leave and if that is the case then we need to make the best of it. I would prefer Cameron to try rather than do as some Eurosceptics want, have a referendum first and then have go back to Brussels to try and get such improvements afterwards when the EU (never mind the other member countries) could legitimately argue that the democratic will of the UK electors has voted in favour of the EU as is…

        • Mark B
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          Jerry

          I for the life of me cannot believe some of you people. I do not know how long I have been posting to this site, but I am amazed at hubris, and it is hubris, of some. I genuinely shocked.

          The EU is what it is. It is because that what its treaties say it is. Its members make the treaties. They are where they are because that’s how ‘they’, the other 27 Member Nations like it. It is a fact, that we negotiated treaties and had a very big say in its construction. To turn round and say to all the others; “Can we please re-look at this, we don’t happen to like it ?”, after we had signed on the dotted line, comes over to the other 27 Member Countries as a bit arrogant.

          Strewth !!

          • Jerry
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            @Mark B: “The EU is what it is.”

            Perhaps it is, if so then best we get out, but what I’m suggesting and asking for is a Plan B for going forward should a UK majority not want to leave – as it happens I share many of your opinions, I’m just asking for a bit of an insurance policy!

            Did you see my comment from yesterday, if not it might give you insight as to why;
            http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2015/02/14/is-germanys-european-union-falling-apart/#comment-754250

    • ChrisS
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Jerry, I assume here that by “majority of broadly content EU member countries” you mean the governments of those countries ?

      It’s clear from all the polling that goes on across the EU that there certainly isn’t a majority of voters in most member countries that are “broadly content”

      I suspect that if you held a referendum on changing the basis of the EU from “Every Closer Union” with the eventual goal being a US of E to a “Common Market” voters in almost every country in the EU would vote for the latter.

      Sad thing is their political classes will never give them the chance.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        @CrisS; “I assume here that by “majority of broadly content EU member countries” you mean the governments of those countries ?”

        No, I mean the people, it is clear that the ‘popular vote’ does not vote for Europhobic parties who want out, most vote for Europhile, Euro-realist or Eurosceptic parties – where the latter might want reform but not exit. Look at Greek GE, a clear majority vote for highly eurosceptic parties but they want changes (to their responsibilities) but a Grexit is last resort from what the parties say. In the 2014 MEP elections the French FN party achieved less that 25% of the vote even though they came first – in the UK too, UKIP only achieved less than 27% even though they came first, with other anti EU candidates or parties wiped out, whilst in Germany the AfD parties best ballot percentage so far seems to have been around 12% in Saxony.

        • Mark B
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Jerry

          You cannot use the Greek elections, or indeed any elections to put forward such arguments. Political parties are elected for a whole host of reasons, and some people, much to my annoyance, tend to vote for the same party regardless.

          What is interesting about Greece is, they voted for a party that will rid them of what they see as unfair EU/German treatment. In short, they typically, do not want to settle their debts, but remain in the Euro due to past history of their governments behavior.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

            @Mark B; Best you tell UKIP then, that they are a busted balloon, even though many polls suggest otherwise, even though they won two by-election, etc etc etc after all you cannot use any elections to put forward an argument – apparently!

            Stop trying to cherry pick, stop daydreaming, the facts are the facts, and what I cited were real world figures, not even opinion polls.

    • ian wragg
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      The UK is a very special place and that’s why half the worlds population would like to come here.
      You say broadly content EU members, see how that works when our subscription is lost. Greece, Spain and Italy, all 3 of which I have visited recently are not content. The politicians may be but Joe Soap with no job or prospects in Naples, Florence Barcelona and Athens are by no means content.
      In Lisbon a few weeks ago, business men were touting sunglasses, dodgy watches etc, the Africans having left.
      The Euro and stupidity of Brussels is bankrupting countries with the young of the PIIGS suffering enormously. There are demonstrations in Germany and Scandinavia regarding immigration and free movement (funny not covered by the BBC). No, all is not well in Europe.

    • DaveM
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I can see the point of your last paragraph, but just because we can no longer necessarily live off the war, that doesn’t mean we have to meekly submit to what other countries want – that’s the essence of it all; being an independent sovereign nation that chooses its own direction and makes its own decisions.

      And our relations with Commonwealth countries are a huge bargaining tool. The UK government should stop worrying that countries like India will bypass us to get to the EU. The Indians don’t really like doing anything without grandma to guide them. Never underestimate the power of the English language and the cricket bat!

      • Jerry
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        @DaveM; “that doesn’t mean we have to meekly submit to what other countries want “

        But that is not what I said, in fact it is the exact opposite, I want a strong UK in the EU, persuading the case for reforms and change (doing what Thatcher did, bang the table and get change), otherwise not even be in the room, but we can’t expect to have others start listening to what we want only after a referendum, we need to start the process before.

        “And our relations with Commonwealth countries are a huge bargaining tool.”

        I keep hearing eurosceptics mention the Commonwealth, as if it’s some sort of “get out of Jail Free” card, but has anyone actually bothered to ask them what they might do, after all many of them had to find alternate markets when the Heath unceremoniously dumped them in favour for the EEC.

        Outside of the EU the UK might be better off forming closer ties with North America (via NAFTA, yes I know it might need to be renamed…) as well as even better relations with the BRIC countries – and yes our shared love of tea and Cricket, plus the shared language will help with India! 🙂

        • David Price
          Posted February 16, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          It may not be what you meant but it is clear that our purpose in the EU is exactly that – submit, pay up and and do so as meekly as possible.

          The net recipients in the EU outnumber the net payers and we are one of the higher net payers, not to mention giving away access to our fisheries. With Germany ruling the roost, at the moment, there is no room for the UK to be “strong” within the UK. In my view we are vulnerable because we have become too dependent on services export with finance being too large a component of that.

          All the EU has to do is change a few rules and the city loses market share or even access to a market, maybe this is what makes the UK establishment so compliant.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

            @David Price; “submit, pay up and and do so as meekly as possible.”

            Well yes, you are of course correct – if we never bother trying to improve our lot, something so many eurosceptics hero never did, she attended summits, banged the table, got refunds, said No!, gained respect, got her way…

  13. David Murfin
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    All very good, but will it become Conservative Party policy after the election, if they form a government? If not, and the Conservatives campaign to stay in the EU, will you stay a member?

    Reply If we have a Conservative government then we have our one chance of a renegotiation and a referendum. I understand a lot of you wish to stop us bring this about, but I am still trying to help achieve it. I will campaign for Out and hope to win the referendum, if we do not have a sensible new relationship on offer following renegotiation. Trying to reduce the number of people in the Conservative party and trying to reduce their current support is a good way to ensure we all have to stay in the current EU!

    • DaveM
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      R to R – we believe you John. The problem is that we don’t trust your leader. We think he’ll make a dirty, secretive, shady, dishonest deal with the EU, and present a paper that makes people think they’re getting what they want so they vote IN. (Enthusiastically aided by the BBC.) And we also think that if the referendum vote is too close we’ll be made to vote again and again until he gets the answer he wants.

      He still doesn’t seem to realise though, that the British people are not as stupid as he (and his cross-party pro-EU allies) think.

      But you know all this already.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        @DaveM; Oh do make your mind up, first you say that the majority of voters will do as they are told and then you claim that the same people are not stupid and will see though the “dirty, secretive, shady, dishonest deal”

        I suspect that most (that is over 50%) already know how they would vote and won’t change what ever “deal” Cameron or any one else comes up with, half of those who don’t won’t bother voting, only the rest might be influenced either way. Oh and on that, I suspect that the BBC will be the least of the campaigns problems, after all they like all broadcasters will be bound by election laws, it will be the Press, NGOs, Unions and the CBI etc.

  14. Ken Adams
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    What you suggest can only be achieved by leaving the EU this renegotiation rubbish is meaningless, we cannot achieve what you say you want because the EU is not built that way. The EU is designed to be a supranational government organization it is not and has never been an intergovernmental trading group. The EU is not going to unpick and rebuild all its basic rules just for us, that would destroy the whole project.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you would explain why your leader and the majority of your party do not want to see such a new relationship but would rather we remain entrapped within an anti-democratic organisation where we have continually diminishing influence?

    • DaveM
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      That’s the mystery Brian. Baffles me.

      • agricola
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Vested interests, that’s why Dave. If not directly, then because big business, and the banks offer them ultimate reward, or because it is a socialist haven.

        • DaveM
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Yes I know. Just wish they’d be honest and say exactly why they are so keen to betray their country and the people who voted for them and trusted them to act in their best interests. But in that respect politicians are like lawyers. Honesty is not in their vocabulary.

          (Our kind host excepted of course.)

          As an Englishman and a British citizen I’m sick to the back teeth of being held to ransom by selfish unprincipled career politicians. Enough is enough now.

    • matthu
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      And if we accept that nothing Cameron is intending to do will anywhere approach what John Redwood wants (and i assume John will correct me if he disagrees here) then surely it makes sense to start arguing vociferously now for what we want, and not leave it until Cameron calls a snap referendum leaving as little time as possible for the OUT side to get their act together?

  16. Bert Young
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    On many occasions I have explained my reactions to our EU membership . I don’t like it , I don’t want it , I see no advantage to it , I have supplied prize winning evidence of the steps necessary and the benefits of withdrawing ; I have no intention of repeating any of this now .The sooner we are out the better .

  17. Mark B
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    You were going reasonably well until you hit the third paragraph. Then you went a bit wibbly-wobbly, ending up off the road and into a ditch by the end.

    I cannot believe for the life of me, a man of such intelligence and experience, can be so wrong on a fundamental subject such as this. Our kind host may read the posts he allows on his site, and I for one thank him for that, but does he understand anything that is being said ?

    You cannot stop the march to EVER CLOSER UNION because it is law. It is enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and reaffirmed in all treaties since. Signed by our Government and passed though Parliament untouched.

    The ONLY way, and it is, the ONLY way that you can FORCE the EU the negotiate a relationship like the one you describe, is to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. Upon which, the EU and all the 27 Member Countries, are obliged by treaty and law, to enter into negotiations with the UK Government, seeking new terms based on trade, cooperation and friendship. It is these things that we seek, and it is these things that can only come about by invoking Article 50.

    You are either IN or OUT of the EU !!!!! What is there that is so hard for people like our kind host and others to understand ?

    It is a UNION !!

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/union?searchDictCode=all

    You cannot ask the EU and all the 27 Member Countries to sit round and discuss other arrangements with EU especially for the UK. It does NOT work like that !!

    You have to leave !!

    Reply No need to shout. I voted to leave in 1975, and would vote to leave again today if we had an In/Out referendum. I am describing a new relationship for the UK with the centralising EU , which is clearly outside the current Treaties – why can’t you grasp that?

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply.

      I am shouting because you, as I have already said, do not seem to be listening.

      I know you voted out in 1975. You have reminded us on more that one occasion. Believe me, I get it !

      It is not what I do not understand, it is what you and your Party Leader and many of your colleagues do not understand. ie The whole purpose and nature of the EU and, by which means we can renegotiate a new relationship.

      Even the EU, from fellow Member Countries, the Commission and Even the President of the European Council of Ministers, has been telling anyone that will listen, that key items like the Freedom of Movement, are NOT up for discussion.

      If you cannot make them talk this and a whole host of other issues, what can you talk about. It isn’t as if you haven’t had the time to draw up a list.

      The ONLY, and it is the ONLY means, is via Article 50.

    • Bob
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Once we have regained self rule we can choose to adopt specific EU laws or not and cooperate in international affairs or not.

      Frau Merkel has made it abundantly clear to the three stooges that as an EU member we cannot cherry pick which rules to abide by and which to ignore and that open borders is non-negotiable.

      So lets repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and get on with with building a brighter future outside the crumbling EU empire.

  18. Francis Lankester
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    It’s a mystery (to me at least) why any Conservatives want the Eurozone to work. Its existence is a deadly threat to our independence just by virtue of its successful continuance. While it stands there can never be a “Europe des Patries,” which is what most Conservatives have always said we want. Moreover, Ken Clarke et al. will always be able to say-“It works, at some point we will join.”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s no great mystery to me why those leading the Tory party want the eurozone to work, it’s for the very reasons that you have stated.

    • APL
      Posted February 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Francis Lankester: “Ken Clarke et al. will always be able to say-“It works, at some point we will join.””

      Hopefully, the Euro will last a year longer than dear old cheeky traitor EU patriot Ken.

      Then we’ll be spared his childlike but malicious twatering.

  19. oldtimer
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The UK should be quite capable of negotiating and managing a new relationship with the EU if/when no longer a member. Mutual interests ought to see to that.

    But that does not necessarily mean that that would be the outcome. For a start, the ruling political elite do not want to see UK departure not least because it would be perceived, world wide, as a huge blow to the EU project. So everything will be done to try to prevent it. And if that failed there will be those who would seek to undermine the UK, economically, after separation. That said, I think the way ahead for the UK is outside the EU. But the route there, for practical purposes, probably has to be via a process of negotiation.

  20. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I am surprised that you so casually dismiss the Swiss and the Norwegian option. In fact, by entering into any radical form of negotiation, we are adopting the Swiss position.
    The problem here is that it takes years and years to come to an agreement. The EU insist that if one agreement fails, then the whole lot goes down. Recently there was a Swiss referendum on immigration – which caused a lot of problems and which has been fudged now. Even so, the Swiss have managed to pull off a deal with China. Many international agreements, too, take place in Basel. Their deal is better than ours.
    The one we want to go for is, of course, Norway. As members of EEA and EFTA, we would be able to trade freely on European ground on European terms. Norway acts on international bodies much more powerfully than any other EU country including Germany. Norway has a good relationship with the EU and also gets a certain latitude too.
    How do I know all this? Well, from the EU Referendum blog with their Flexcit idea. A recent study by Civitas came to the same conclusion. And it deals frankly and conclusively with all the usual canards – government by fax etc.
    http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/TheNorwegianWay

    PS Apart from Mr Owen Paterson, why is not one decent politician up to speed on this?

    • Tom William
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I would like to shout “I fully agree”.

  21. They Work for US?
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    The EU has in the past been a Franco-German stitch up as far as the UK is concerned.
    The replacement of Hollander by Sarkozy or another non rabid Socialist would see the Franco-German stitch up return. Three is a crowd as they say and we will always be the awkward third. Most of the rest of the EU countries would be subservient to an FC alliance. We are better off out and be friendly traders not wallflowers at the dance.

  22. Paul Cohen
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Pity your ideas and comments don’t seem to get to a much wider audience.

    These proposals are set out in clear prose and should appeal to many.

  23. ian wragg
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Is your boss aware of any of this John. Less than 3 months to an election and he still won’t tell us what he is negotiating. Has anyone in Westminster any idea of what the red lines are for negotiation?

    • Bob
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      He couldn’t even negotiate a decent settlement for England within the UK so what hope is there that he could reform the EU?

    • Chriss
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      There is only one red line and it’s one that Cameron intends to cross : that is to con the British people into voting for a “renegotiated” deal that promises a lot and will ultimately deliver nothing at all.

  24. fkc
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Quite right Alan.. Stop paying the money to EU then negotiate our trade position. So far Mr Cameron’s influence has been non existent. Milliband and the LibDems have yet to state their position. I think they all three want to stay in the EU and keep spending our money which is sorely needed here at home. Money is the key, stop paying and it concentrates the mind greatly.

  25. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    “The UK will not stand in the way of Eurozone members completing a political union to complete their currency union, as long as the rest of the EU understands this necessitates a new and looser relationship for the UK.”

    So you are willing to accept that the whole of the continent of Europe, and some other territories which are not even in Europe geographically, will be solidly united against us as a single country, a sovereign federation.

    And you will accept that even if some of the peoples in other EU member states don’t actually want it, but will have it imposed upon them because their country is either already in the eurozone or it is under a legal obligation to join the eurozone at the earliest opportunity, or it will be required to assume that legal obligation as a condition for its accession to the EU with whatever benefits it may expect to enjoy.

    Madness, JR, utter madness; a foreign policy which can only lead to the extinction of our country as an independent sovereign state just as surely as if we stayed in the EU.

  26. Terry
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I have never been able to understand why any country, unless they abhor patriotic independence, would want to be governed by a group of middle men in Brussels. None of whom were ever elected by the citizens of Europe. Does anyone have the true answer?

    To me, the EU is just a over-bloated middleman. An interfering one at that and as in all good business practice, the middleman should be cut out, so that the two parties in any deal can seal it without their hindrance.

    And that is what the EU is – a huge hindrance to good business practice.

    So any new relationship MUST be confined to the limited bounds of the original Common Market and nothing more. To continue with any of the existing undemocratic political controllers and their rules and regulations would be treachery.

  27. REPay
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    “The second is that the UK wishes to remain or become again a national democracy, where the main decisions are taken by Parliament, and where the voters can change government, policy and the law at a General Election when they cease to please.”

    I am not sure that this desire is true of the separatist parties, who want national democracies under the EU, or the Liberal Democrats and many in the Labour Party for whom the idea of policy being made by bien-pensant liberals is far more attractive than having to defer to a national electorate. Good or bad, the EU certainly promises much more government which makes it extremely appealing to those of a statist (“progressive” as the media labels it) disposition.

  28. Qubus
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    JR, if these EU bureaucrats are not elected, how exactly do they get their jobs? Are they simply nominated by the various EU member states on a Buggin’s turn basis?

  29. ChrisS
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Problem is that Cameron is now saying he wants to bring forward the referendum to 2016.

    There is no chance whatsoever of getting any worthwhile concessions cast in stone by 2016 ( or 2017 for that matter ) so we will be asked to vote on some cosy platitudes that will never be delivered.

    But then I believe that’s what Cameron would like to happen.

    Once he gets his yes vote, it can then be business as usual and his mate Cleggy can go off and get a big EU job, walk the deep-piled corridors of Brussels and build up a second gold plated pension, just like all the other failed politicians over there.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      “Problem is that Cameron is now saying he wants to bring forward the referendum to 2016.”

      Do you think this might have anything to do with it being an election year and the Conservatives heading towards defeat ?

  30. Alan Rogers
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    If we were starting with a blank sheet of paper, what would we design for our ideal Europe? Is that design likely to appeal to Norway, Switzerland, or other countries that might fall out of the Eurozone? The chances of a successful renegotiation are pretty slim, so shouldn’t we be seeking to lead a revamped EFTA/EEA body for any country that doesn’t want “ever closer union”?

  31. petermartin2001
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    All very good. The late Mr Benn would have agreed with the general thrust of it too. If the Conservative Party really want an EU referendum why don’t the promise just a 2-3year Parliament free from all other contentious policies?
    The in 2017 we can have that referendum and have new elections too , either then or the year after?

  32. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I fear that the argument has been won but the battle lost. For this I think we have to thank John Redwoods colleaugues for failing to elect him as leader.

    There was a window of opportunity that has now closed. The ship has sailed and gone.
    Today too many obstacles are in the way of a detachment from Europe. Too many vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

    In the unlikely event of securing a free and open vote, it could be vetoed by the Scots nationalists.

    Had the Conservative party not been duped by Major that he was a real Conservative , we could have been spared, Maastricht, David Cameron with his ghastly ‘modernisation agenda’ … and the 13 long years of Labour misrule.

    I’m afraid the time has now passed, too many sceptics have either died or emigrated to be replaced with foreigners or younger voters that are most likely to vote for the Eu.

  33. David Price
    Posted February 16, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Whatever relationship developed we rely on our government fighting our corner. Maybe there have been startling accomplishments behind closed doors but I have seen very little evidence of our governments or establishment winning or even defending our interests. Most outcomes seem to have been to our cost or at best neutral.

  34. Vanessa
    Posted February 16, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    JR – what you do not say is that the EU is no longer the maker of laws, most now come from new global institutions such as CODEX. They are then topped and tailed by the EU and sent to their “members” to implement. We do not have a seat on CODEX to argue our case, Norway and Switzerland DO ! When we leave the EU we can then take our rightful seat at these important “tables” and influence the laws by which we have to abide.

    The other benefit we would have when we leave is no more VAT at ONE FIFTH of everything we buy being sent to the EU. 20% is a pernicious tax on consumers. The other benefit (maybe) would be an increase in our exports to our Commonwealth countries and the rest of the world rather than the economy being based only on consumerism. There are so many big, important BENEFITS to leaving the EU the tiddlers who keep screaming about how catastrophic it would be if we leave should open their eyes and look at countries outside this protectionist, fearful, inward-looking club of “little Europeans”.

  35. ChrisS
    Posted February 16, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    While I admire Vanessa’s sentiments, her view that by leaving the EU we could eliminate VAT are very wide of the mark.

    Currently our net contribution to the EU is £13bn a year and rising awfully fast.
    If we left and paid nothing at all, that might then all be used to reduce VAT. I doubt the Treasury would allow that to happen but let’s imagine they did :

    In 2013/2014 the Treasury robbed the taxpayer of £103.5bn in VAT at 20%.
    All £13bn would do would be to allow the Chancellor to reduce VAT back down to 17.5%

    Bearing in mind that VAT used to be 8% then rose to 10%, 15% and then 17.5% and you can see just how much extra money that successive Governments have misappropriated and largely wasted from this one pernicious tax alone.

  36. James Reade
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure you fairly caricature pro-EU folk here – I don’t think the majority would stay in “at all costs”. The real difference between you and them is disagreement on the costs (and benefits) – which you think are too high (too low), and they don’t think so.

    I think there is little doubt that a UK on the outside would negotiate a reasonable trade agreement with the EU in time – but how long would it take, and at what cost? And would it really be any better than the current arrangement? What is the guarantee of this?

    One thing you haven’t mentioned here is the whole Rules of Origin issue which would make it very time consuming for firms to determine whether a sufficient amount of any product produced here in the UK (where we import many parts for production) would count as an import to the rest of the EU, or not. Again, hopefully some kind of agreement could be come to in the highly unfortunate event of an EU exit, but I doubt it would be particularly easy.

    And one point to make specifically is this: If you think, as you clearly do, that the UK hasn’t got a particularly fair deal, is never listened to whilst *in* the EU, what makes you think that once *outside* the EU it’ll be able to do any better? Why would our influence with EU power-brokers suddenly change for the better by exiting?

  37. Robert Taggart
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Agreed Johnny, but, is this not what UKIP are aiming for ? – and we all know what became of their government – in its first one hundred days (C4) !

  • 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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