The EU and the Queen’s Speech

I welcome the Referendum Bill proposed in the Queen’s Speech and welcome Labour’s conversion to it. It is better to go forward with the support of parties that attracted 81% of the vote between them for what is a crucial decision and vote of the UK electorate. We knew already that the referendum idea was far more popular than the Conservative party in the General Election, and some people voted Conservative primarily to get that referendum.

The dinner last night between the President of the Commission and the Prime Minister was also an important stepping stone on the way to the vote. I think it is a good idea that the PM gives trying to negotiate the best deal for the UK his best shot. I urge people from all sides of the debate to support him in doing so. If as UKIP argue there is no willingness to negotiate from the other side, then it makes winning a vote for Out that much easier as undecided voters will be swayed by the unhelpfulness and unreasonableness of the rest of the EU.

If, on the other hand, the rest of the EU sees that the UK has no wish to be drawn into the emerging political union, and wants a trade and business based relationship where we can co-operate and do things together that suit both sides, then that may be the easiest way of achieving the new relationship.

My bottom line is the UK needs to restore her democracy, so where the UK voters and Parliament wish to make a change or to decide a matter we can do so without interference or override from the EU. Today electors have signalled very clearly they want the UK to settle its own migration and benefits policy. So be it. Tomorrow it might be our energy policy or our criminal justice policy. If you want a democracy then Parliament has to be able to respond to the public mood, and needs the powers to take action to do so.

Many of us are fed up with being told that we cannot change things for the better or as the public wants because we have some old treaty commitment or legal requirement from Brussels. By the back door a long forgotten Parliament binds its successors, by adopting an EU policy which we cannot change.

The EU’s latest crisis is not just the pressure in the UK for a new deal, but also the opposition of the Greek people and government to Euro austerity, the coming opposition in Spain on a similar basis, and the rise of the National front in France demanding more power for French government. UK Conservatives have no love of these disparate forces on the continent, but at the highest level they do spring from a common problem, the lack of democratic accountability of the EU to national electorates, and the unpopularity of various EU policies. This year’s elections so far in Greece and the UK have posed differing challenges to the EU establishment. Spain has just done so in local elections and may do so in national elections later this year.

The EU would be wise to debate a solution with Mr Cameron, as some of the others may have more extreme demands.

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92 Comments

  1. JoolsB
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    “My bottom line is the UK needs to restore her democracy”

    We will never be a democracy until England is given equal status to Scotland, Wales & NI, i.e. it’s own self determining legislature. Devolution TO England and not within it but there’s not much chance of that is there John? Instead we are being offered Osborne’s balkanisation by stealth.
    With respect, your party along with the other two anti-English parties, Labour and the Lib Dums don’t know the meaning of democracy!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Has they understood they would not have given away so much to EU without any authority from the public.

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    So where is the list of Mr Camerons negotiating demands with the EU? If we don’t know what they are, how do we know either that he is aiming for things that we want, or how much he has had to concede? I’m not suggesting that we have another referendum about the list; just that the public should have an opportunity to both contribute to the list and to know if they have been listened to.

    For all we know, the only “red line” is that Mr Cameron is allowed to keep the shiny new pen that he uses to sign away the rest of the UKs independance. We have discovered that the political classes lied to us about European aspirations in 1975. There is a lot less trust now, and for good reason.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Unless Mr Cameron gets us into EFTA and the EEA as a prelude to complete independence and freedom to trade, once again, with the whole world in a society which depends on a rule of law which is made in Britain and administered in terms of Common Law, I shall certainly not be voting Conservative again.
      I shall sit in my chair and sulk.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Mike

        ” I shall certainly not be voting Conservative again”.

        I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to come to this conclusion. Many of us left the fold ages ago. I don’t think sulking is going to do it!

    • John C.
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      The vagueness so far about what any renegotiation involves is a sure sign that a fudge is being prepared. “What do you think I can offer to the UK electorate?” asks Mr Cameron of his Euro friends and between them they prepare a package which appears to signal a Cameronian victory but essentially represents nothing.
      Genuine negotiations would involve Mr Cameron stating clearly what he wants, and then we could see how far he has got along the road. But has he stated what he wants, except in the vaguest of terms; things like “a better deal for Britain”?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:00 am | Permalink

        Indeed he is vague to the point of absurdity. A pointless fig leaf fudge is being prepared he clearly is not serious at all. He needs to raise the expectations of the public so the EU has no option but to deliver. He has done none of this.

      • A different Simon
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        John C.

        I was talking to a sincere well meaning socialist the other day who loves Britain and he has been totally suckered into believing that the EU cares about workers and Britain doesn’t .

        He seems to have fallen for this good cop (EU) / bad cop (Britain) act that Cameron and his pals insult our intelligence with .

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          ‘a sincere well meaning socialist’ – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  3. Stevie
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I used to think that Cameron as a raging europhile was kipper madness, but if we are really only asking permission to withhold four years of benefits and exclusion ‘from the principle of every closer union’ then the kippers were right all along. Cameron is just as much as euro zealot as Blair!

    I voted Tory for the first time in a long time. I knew Cameron still couldn’t be trusted when he gave away control over criminal justice at the end of the parliament, but hoped his party could teach him about democratic accountability.

    He has the countries’ support, John, but I am increasingly worried that he is not supporting us, by representing what we want, rather than what he can easily get to pull the wool over our eyes again.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      He certainly does not seem to be remotely serious about the negotiation. He seems to be asking for nothing at all of substance.

  4. Old Albion
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    I welcome a referendum on our membership of the EU. But it has to fair, honest and open.
    I fear Cameron returning and claiming all sorts of renegotiation success, which actually is nothing of the sort.
    It’s pretty clear that virtually all Westminster politicians will promote staying in the EU whatever.
    In short, i think the public will be duped, again.

    Reply IT is by no means clear most MPs will want to stay in.

    • ian wragg
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      reply to reply,
      It may not be clear to you John but it is abundantly clear to the great unwashed.
      Dave is going through a charade as he doesn’t want to offend the EU elite as he has already told them he will remain in the EU at all costs.
      He actually likes it as it is him being a closet big government socialist at heart.
      You say it may be the energy policy next. I fear that is too late. With Gideons ruinous carbon tax shutting down the cheapest and most reliable stations with abandon, when we get the first power cuts it will be too late to change direction.
      Then the power companies will have us over a barrel installing expensive emergency capacity and charging the earth.
      The STOR generators will be polluting the atmosphere cancelling out any perceived CO2 savings from stationary windmills and it will probably be the final nail in the LibLabCon story.
      We will awake from our slumber and realise we have been taken for mugs by the chatterati of Isligton and the champagne socialists posing as Labour.

    • John C.
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      But will the MPs get a vote, so that we can see what they think? Or will the only vote they get be in the referendum itself, like any other voter?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        On the 1975 precedent MPs will certainly be allowed a vote before the referendum, so that the official government pamphlet urging a “Yes” vote – sorry, of course I really meant the strictly impartial official government information pamphlet to put the full facts before the voters to help them come to their decision – could include an updated version of:

        “Fact No. 4. On April 9, 1975, the House of Commons voted by 396 to 170 in favour of staying in on the new terms.”

        It’s possible that the Commons vote would be on a draft of a Decision of the European Council promising that the valuable changes negotiated by the UK team would be formalised in the treaties the next time there was a new amending treaty for wider purposes, the so-called “Danish option” which would speed things along to an early referendum, most likely on May 5th 2016 but otherwise in the autumn of 2016.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      It seem pretty clear to me that about 2/3 of MPs including Cameron are for in.

  5. agricola
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I would rather you had used the word sovereignty with democracy as the first by product.

    There is a relatively easy solution offering continuity of trade and the repatriation of sovereignty. This is EFTA/EEA as enjoyed by Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein. I have seen nothing to suggest that Brussels would not be happy with this. Noises out of Europe suggest that they are amazed we are not asking for it, rather than the pick and mix that Cameron appears to be indulging in. Daniel Hannan, much closer to the engine noise than me, would seem to confirm this. Read his website contribution yesterday.

    Cameron’s wish list is long overdue for publication. We have not sent him in to Tesco to see what he can find on the shelves for the weekend. This is the future of our country he is shopping for.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Cameron clearly needs to say something real and substantive on what he seeks from the negotiation.

      So far he has just been his usual vague, vacuous & pathetic self. He has a majority now & no Libdem fig leaf – so when will the man wake up?

  6. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Changing EU policy is always possible – together with enough allies. Pretending that treaty requirements are somehow “old” or “new” is not helpful. The UK has to be trustworthy for its international agreements, such as EU treaties. If a subsequent parliament doesn’t like what a previous government signed it can always act to invoke article 50 and leave altogether. It is more a reflection on deficient UK democracy that parties believe not to be bound to treaties signed when they were in opposition.
    I suppose the bottom line for the continent will be that the UK is not given unfair advantages within the single market, like Cameron already tried once with regard to financial services. Any reform must be reform for all. But above that bottom line I expect there a lot to be possible, including opting out of areas which don’t affect the single market and also assurances that the non-euro countries will continue not be treated unfairly either.

    Reply You do not understand UK democracy. I and my colleagues opposed and voted against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. We have not suddenly converted to them, so of course we want to remove the UK from them. If that requires us to leave the EU so be it.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: In that case (“just remove us from Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, full stop”) I could well imaging the rest of the EU asking you to kindly leave, as the “UK government” would have become too unreliable a partner, as whatever the current Tory government would sign up too could also be shredded by the next minority government. That is not so unlikely in the polarized, UK political landscape.

      • Stephen Berry
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        Peter, you may be surprised to learn that there are still some people who believe that the UK has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs. One of the essential consequences of this is that successive UK governments can make, remake and indeed annul treaties with foreign states and organisations.

        “… whatever the current Tory government would sign up too could also be shredded by the next minority government” is of course, correct. After all that’s the way democracy works in the UK – and not just in the UK. People who don’t like a law or treaty then campaign and vote for a government which will seek to change it. If this possibility is denied the voter, it’s not entirely clear how democracy can function effectively. I am sure you are being pessimistic when you doubt this is an idea the rest of the EU can get used to.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

          @Stephen Berry: of course it is people’sright to have treaties amended. What I meant to convey is that may look like a decisive country in the short term may end up in a longer term zig-zag pattern. More consensual policies would provide more consistency in the longer term I think.

      • yosarion
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        The trouble is Peter we are already in a Union and that is withering on the vine, we also have still not totally sorted out the problems caused last time a Dutchman stuck his nose into are affairs.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          @yosarion: I believe he was invited in by some Englishmen? If you don’t agree you’d have to admit that you’d been successfully invaded by a foreign country 🙂

          • yosarion
            Posted May 29, 2015 at 1:45 am | Permalink

            When Foreigners like Brown sneak in the the back door at Lisbon with no Mandate and not having been elected to the role, I would say Usurped is a better word.
            If however you are going back to 1066 when the last English King was defeated at Hastings, then you are correct.

      • Stuart B
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:52 am | Permalink

        The function of the UK government is not ‘to be a reliable partner’ to the EU. It is to protect the interests of its citizens, and above all to protect the three fundamental bases of those interests, which are national sovereignty, democracy and the continuation of a national legal framework developed over centuries.
        The function of the EU is not so fundamental – founded in the ambition to reduce armed conflict, it is now properly seen as a putative mechanism for generating wealth. As such, its aims are intrinsically provisional, and should be subject to renegotiation or withdrawal on the part of any of its members, in the light of their more fundamental duties to their own citizens.
        There is no inevitable or eternal desirability of membership for any of its members – not just the UK. When trade is monopolised or turned into political power it becomes a tyranny. This has been true from time immemorial, and it has always resulted, in the end, in ruin. I am no historian, but surely, you can go back as far as the Templars, or the Hanseatic League, and probably much further, for instances of this?

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          @Stuart B: I agree that any country should be allowed to leave, which is what the article 50 is for.
          I don’t see trade being monpolised or turned into political power. Competition rules and commissioners are pretty effective to prevent this with, if need be large fines.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        From the way you talk one might suppose that the governments of the other EU member states were all reliable partners, rather than bunches of shysters who have few scruples about bending and breaking the treaties when that suits them, and even though those treaties were approved by their national parliaments as they stood.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: I grant you that many countries will seek their own advantage. Others should be on the alert to prevent this.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:16 am | Permalink

            I’m not talking about governments seeking advantage for their own countries, which they should do, I’m talking about governments conniving to bend and break the treaties which they have agreed and which have then been approved by their national parliaments, which they should not do.

    • agricola
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Financial Services are not just an EU / UK interchange. They encompass the World and the UK needs to be in there dealing with the World. Europe at present is not a great wealth creator, more the opposite I would think. UK Financial Services contain much we could all criticise, and it is up to our government to curb their excesses, but not to the point of throttling their legitimate wealth creation which is a key component of our economy. Push too hard and the companies migrate to more agreeable climes.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        @agricola: I assume that both most continental allies and the UK want the City to continue having access to the single market . . . which can be ensured by an “IN”vote in the referendum.

        Reply and by voting to leave with a trade agreement

    • lojolondon
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Peter, you are speaking rubbish as usual. 1) The UK has a 1,000 year old democracy that has been over-written by dishonest politicians. 2) The UK is by far the most successful country in Europe for FS, legislating to damage that industry is bad for the whole EU, but devastating for the UK. If we wanted laws against cars larger than 1600cc and Germany opposed those laws, would they really be ‘seeking unfair advantage’? 3) As the UK invests more into and receives less benefit from the EU than any other barring Germany, it is quite clear why Europeans are threatened by the UK wanting to leave, who will pay for the big socialist party to continue?
      We are happy for the EU experiment to continue, and especially the Euro, but as a massive contributor and very minor beneficiary, we just want to play absolutely no part in it.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        @lojolondon: the UK pays as much as any other country, just about 1% of GDP making the cost per citizen something in the order of 50p a day I believe. Having more people of course the total than becomes more.
        Being so old (your democracy) probably explains why it is in very bad need of reform. If you cannot see that, I consider you beyond help.
        The comparison between the 1600cc cars and what Cameron tried to pull off in december 2011 is not correct.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    JR, you write in the Telegraph today:

    “The people who voted in the general election to ask for a referendum on the EU are the right people to vote in that referendum. It does not make sense to change the franchise from the normal one in general elections.”

    I can see why you are arguing that, because there is a campaign to lower the voting age to 16 and quite rightly you do not want that to be done for this referendum even though the Scottish Parliament was foolishly permitted to do it for the independence referendum last year, along with other absurdities such as allowing temporary foreign residents such as Bulgarian students to have their say on the historical destiny of Scotland and the UK while refusing to allow Scots born and bred in Scotland from many generations of Scots, but now working in England, to vote, even though if Scotland had become independent then the Scottish government would no doubt have welcomed them as Scottish citizens and given them Scottish passports, albeit at present expatriate citizens.

    First and foremost what make sense is to restrict the franchise for the referendum to British citizens. If the government is going to ask the British people whether they want their country to leave the EU, as it keeps saying it intends to do, then it should ask the British people and only the British people, and not also ask foreign citizens for their opinions just because they happen to live here.

    Personally I have long argued that British citizenship should be the first requirement for anyone to be allowed to vote in any of our public elections or referendums. I would not have elections to an EU Parliament simply because we would not be in the EU, but if we were still in the EU then I would insist on the same first criterion being applied and only allow British citizens to elect the British representatives in that assembly.

    However as that principle is not yet being applied I would point out that there is no rational reason why the same franchise must be used for a national referendum to decide some specific question of great national importance as for the election of parliamentary representatives or indeed local councillors.

    For now pretty much obsolete historical reasons we have reciprocal arrangements with the Irish Republic allowing Irish citizens to vote in our elections and our citizens to vote in Irish elections; but that ridiculous arrangement does not extend to referendums in Ireland, when only Irish citizens are allowed to vote; why then should we allow Irish citizens to vote in our referendums, how can they object if they are excluded?

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this decision has a far longer implication than for the next 5 years. Whilst it makes sense for foreign workers here to vote for the next government, whether they be Irish or any other, it makes far less sense for them to vote in the EU referendum. The rules need to be changed for this referendum – only UK citizens, here or abroad should be able to vote.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        On the contrary, it makes no more sense for foreign residents to be allowed to vote in our elections that it would be ask a lodger to help you decide what to do about a house which he is living in but you own.

    • John C.
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      In fact, to summarize the situation concerning who in Britain can vote on what issue and in what forum and at what age : it is a complete and utter dog’s dinner.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Denis Cooper; Trying to nobble this referendum will likely have the opposite effect, expect a lot of UK ex-pats, of under 15 years standing, if needs-be to return to vote, just as the ex-pat Irish community did recently in their own referendum – we may never know how such people effected that result. Don’t forget, a lot of UK ex-pats quite like the idea of the EU, not to mention “freedom of movement and employment”…

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Jerry, the people trying to “nobble” the referendum are those who want all of the eastern European and other immigrants to have a say on the future of the UK even though they are not UK citizens, plus young people, in fact still children, who have not yet had much opportunity to see through the pro-EU propaganda they are fed by their pro-EU teachers. And so far I have said nothing whatsoever about the voting rights of expatriate UK citizens, that is another matter to be decided after all the non-citizens have been excluded from voting as they obviously should be. I understand your position, but unlike you I do place value on my British citizenship and do not see why non-citizens should enjoy all of the rights of a citizen.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper; “Jerry, the people trying to “nobble” the referendum are those who want all of the eastern European and other immigrants to have a say on the future [../etc/..]”

          But that is not what the government is proposing, they simply want to use the same general election registrar, thus you seem to be complaining about something that (bar the government loosing control of its own MPs) is not going to happen – so may I congratulate you on a nice, but needless, “rant”! 🙂

          I totally agree with you, as I have said before, that EU migrants, beyond those who have traditional GE voting rights should not be allowed to vote, all so think that those pushing for those aged 16 and 17 years old are utterly wrong, what is more their logic is some silly.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

            Jerry, back in 2004 when the Tory MP John Maples drafted a referendum Bill with the franchise being that for elections to the EU Parliament:

            http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmbills/022/2004022.pdf

            I actually rang his office to ask him what he thought he was playing at. Incidentally I was shocked that MPs like David Heathcoat-Amory and Kate Hoey had agreed to sponsor that Bill with its blatantly wrong franchise.

            And in 2013 when the Tory MP James Wharton produced his referendum Bill with the franchise set as being that for UK general elections I pointed out that this would include some people who are not UK citizens and who should not be invited to help decide the future destiny of the UK.

            I ask you the same question that I put to our host a few days ago: why should Irish citizens be allowed to vote in this UK referendum when UK citizens are not allowed to vote in any Irish referendum, regardless of the (now outdated) reciprocal arrangement for voting in elections?

            Reply I understand the question. History provides the answer. There is no appetite in the Commons to amend this position, so let’s concentrate on getting the right answer on the EU.

  8. David Murfin
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    “By the back door a long forgotten Parliament binds its successors, by adopting an EU policy which we cannot change. ”
    By the back door current parliaments introduce or retain measures contrary to the popular will, by implementing measures drawn up in Europe without proper debate of their relevance to current UK conditions.
    What happens if emergency powers are needed in hurry?

    • lojolondon
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      John, it is a key principle of Democracy that a government cannot bind it’s successors, so please tell me, why have successive British governments over the last decades merely followed their predecessors tracks, and never proceeded with their new mandate, ignoring commitments made to the EU?

    • bigneil
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      The emergency powers will depend purely on who is asking – and for what. If the EU wants another £??bn from us – DC will hand it over, after blustering that he won’t do any such thing. If the emergency involved us shutting the doors to a boatload of a thousand IS fighters asking for asylum and a free life – the EU would rule that we HAVE to let them in – or be fined for discrimination.

  9. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The idea of our needing to be subjugated politically to foreigners, some in places most of us have scarcely heard of, is preposterous. Never get a peep as to how and why for instances Canada is not politically subservient to Washington but Canada (more than) survives and ever so well: she is smaller than us economically and happily sends three quarters of her exports to the USA. It is close to criminal the drivel the EU fanatics talk.

  10. Richard1
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Has Mr Cameron briefed Conservative MPs as to what his negotiating objectives will be? According, eg, to Dan Hannan, Mr Cameron is planning to ask for much less than he could. Mr Hannan says various EU figures are open to giving the UK a sort of associate status under which we are in trade arrangements but can get out of all the other federalising policies – food, fisheries, energy, currency etc. is this true? Do you think Mr Cameron is shooting for objectives which if achieved will command support from eurosceptics?

    • agricola
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I suspect the MPs have had the same mushroom treatment as the electorate. Daniel Hannan is I am sure correct. We could have EFTA/EEA status up and running in a year once the decision is made. This is trade without the federalising policies, or put another way, our sovereignty back in a democratic parliament.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I am pleased to agree; my bottom line too is that the UK needs to restore her democracy.

    I remain of the opinion that the democracy we seek can not be achieved while the UK remains in any sense “in” the EU. So I can not foresee how it can be possible for David Cameron to achieve a successful renegotiation in which the UK remains in the EU.

    Sooner or later the debate has to change to the new relationship between independent countries, the UK and the superstate EU. And the sooner the better we get away from the public debate being limited to the narrow minded view of the UK being defined by the best deal the EU will allow us to have to the open minded vision of the UK as an independent, World country.

    In the days of sail we achieved the British Empire. Why oh why, in the days of jet travel and the Internet, does the horizon have to be the continent of Europe?

  12. Vanessa
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Better still would be to invoke Article 48 (if No.50 is a step too far). This states:
    “The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the European Council proposals for revising all or part of the provisions of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union relating to the internal policies and action of the Union.”

    “The European Council may adopt a decision amending all or part of the provisions of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The European Council shall act by unanimity after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, and the European Central Bank in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. That decision shall not enter into force until it is approved by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    The points here are that the procedure is open to any Member State to invoke (it does not require approval of the European Council or its president), and in Part Three, administration of the Freedom of Movement provision are covered. Furthermore, approval by the European Council can be very quick – in the space of a rainy afternoon in Brussels, as I put it. And while the European Parliament has to be consulted, its approval is not required.

    It is a shame that nobody writing in the National Press bothers to research their subject before writing utter lies for the public to read.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    But Cameron does not seem even to be asking for anything that would be remotely acceptable. Tinkering with benefits and threatening to confiscate illegal wages is just totally pathetic. He need to play the strong hand he holds or better still just leave.

    I see that Osborne has given his ‘french’ kiss as promised to Lynton Crosby. He as got the wrong person. He should be kissing the unelectable Ed Miliband and above all the totally unacceptable (to the English anyway) Nicola Sturgeon.

    The wet, socialist light, approach of Crosby/Cameron was a big mistake they would have far done better with some real Tory, lower tax, high growth, cheap energy, selective immigration and far less EU vision.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:54 am | Permalink

      Also helped by the many UKIP supporters who voted Tory as the least bad option, while holding their noses tightly. Now all being kicked in the teeth, as Cameron seems to want nothing substantive from the EU negotiations at all.

      Reply I thought they voted Conservative to get a referendum which we will deliver.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    JR: “I think it is a good idea that the PM gives trying to negotiate the best deal for the UK his best shot. I urge people from all sides of the debate to support him in doing so.”

    I cannot support what I believe to be a sham. Many of us able to vote in 1975 can see that this is no more than a repeat performance. A party divided on membership of the EEC (now the EU) makes a manifesto commitment for a referendum after renegotiation of the terms of membership. Little is agreed but the government recommends staying in and people are tricked into believing that they have voted for something different from the reality.

    A few quotes from the government pamphlet sent to all households in the UK in 1975, entitled “European Community (Common Market)”, in support of the Government’s recommendation that people should vote in favour of staying in:

    “We explain why the Government, after long, hard negotiations, are recommending to the British people that we should remain a member of the European Community.
    We do not pretend, and never have pretended, that we got everything we wanted in these negotiations. But we did get big and significant improvements on the previous terms.
    We confidently believe that these better terms can give Britain a New Deal in Europe. A Deal that will help us, help the Commonwealth, and help our partners in Europe……..
    The Government have recommended that Britain should stay in on the new terms which have been agreed with the other members of the Common Market.
    That is why we are asking you to vote in favour of remaining in the Community.”

    No doubt that pamphlet is being suitably amended right now to bring it up to date for Cameron to re-issue.
    Those wanting to know what to expect can see the full prototype here: http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/index.html

  15. JimS
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Negotiating with the EU is like joining the MCC then telling them that you only wanted to use the bar and can they please stop playing that boring cricket stuff.

    The whole purpose of the EU is to form a political union where national governments are eventually abolished once they have served their purpose of obscuring the work of the commission in destroying the nation states.

    We were told in 1975 that ‘free movement’ was in the rules but in practice it wouldn’t happen. Now we are told it is a core principle, yet it is the UK government that gets the blame for not controlling immigration.

    Delay the issue long enough and there won’t be enough ethnic Britons in these isles to vote against this union by deceit.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      No, I think the cricket came before the bar. It is the free drinks for all we need to get rid of.

  16. Atlas
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    “Let us see what Cameron negotiates”: true – but what is being spun so far by Cameron’s spinners is a mouse not a lion.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      It is even a mouse?

      • Atlas
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic – I was being charitable to Cameron – perhaps describing it as a flea might encompass the size of his ambitions !!

  17. mick
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Good Morning Mr Redwood
    i see the lab/dib-dems/snp mp`s are going to try and get a amendment to the EU bill by asking that 16 & 17 year olds get the vote, i hope very much this isn`t going to happen

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron has a lot of pressure on him and I wish him well. We need robust confidence from him at this stage – he has a mandate for reform and he should stick to it and reject threats from the EU any domestic calls or temptations to reign back.

    He has an opportunity to be very robust, and I hope he will also reject all those who say there should be a change in the voting system. Now is the time for decisiveness, not endless debate and attempts to please everyone.

    We need leadership and we will reward it.

  19. alan jutson
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I await and see what is actually in the Queens speech before making comment.

    With regards to Mr Camerons meeting.
    I do really hope he is working on the lines you are suggesting, but I cannot help feel that he will not demand anywhere near enough to get any great concessions to make a big enough difference for those of us who want a real and meaningful change.

    I hope for the best, but fear given his past negotiation skills (or lack of them) that he will get just enough to win a stay in vote from the majority who do not have any interest, or a clue in the real workings and cost of the EU.

  20. bluedog
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    It’s taken a long time Dr JR, but the penny seems to have dropped.

    Being a Eurosceptic is no longer the mark of a backward bumpkin but an entirely respectable, indeed patriotic, and astute position. The moral high ground has shifted so that the Europhiles are no longer wreathed in an aura of effortless superiority in promoting their agenda, but are on the defensive. The five years since 2010 have been an economic catastrophe for so much of the EMU that the Cleggs, Clarkes and Heseltines of the world who advocated joining the EMU have been made to seem unsound in their judgement.

    It is not alarmist to suggest that the EU will go the way of the USSR, and once again, nobody saw it coming. But the end could be very swift once the financial markets lose confidence in the paper issued by the ECB. In this event, Cameron will need to do no more than tell the rump of the EU how the UK will relate to the EU in future. They will be glad of our support.

    The EU befehls will become an embarrassing memory, embarrassing because they were taken seriously by so many for so long. The British Parliament will once again be supreme, but only because of the mistakes of its enemies.

  21. Bert Young
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Dr.JR. A very good and timely post this morning . I agree with every word . Bring back our democracy !

  22. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    The BBC at some point last night said that the Irish are able to vote on the EU problem. So it must be right….but why?

    How come a French national living in Scotland is an SNP MSP and is much offended when asked why he wants to vote on the EU problem and cannot (BBC WS last night). He has not changed nationality for 25 yrs? He may be good at the job, but why do they have to blurt the “offended” garbage so quickly/easily.

    And the Scots out of Scotland like next door in England along with those in the Army cannot vote on the Scots Referendum.

    This business of politics goes way too far and is weak!

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/french-born-snp-msp-cannot-vote-in-eu-referendum-1-3782858

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Basically that’s because the present Scottish Parliament is a devolved assembly, it is not a sovereign national parliament – legally it is at the same constitutional level as Kent County Council, the top tier of local government below the sovereign national, UK, institutions – and Major agreed that all the citizens of EU member states should be given the new status of “citizens of the Union” and be allowed to participate in “municipal” elections both as candidates and voters.

      That was the origin of the present Article 20 TFEU in the EU treaties, carried over from what Major agreed at Maastricht, with small adjustments:

      “1. Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.

      2. Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. They shall have, inter alia:

      (a) the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States;

      (b) the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State;

      (c) the right to enjoy, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which they are nationals is not represented, the protection of the diplomatic and consular authorities of any Member State on the same conditions as the nationals of that State;

      (d) the right to petition the European Parliament, to apply to the European Ombudsman, and to address the institutions and advisory bodies of the Union in any of the Treaty languages and to obtain a reply in the same language.

      These rights shall be exercised in accordance with the conditions and limits defined by the Treaties and by the measures adopted thereunder.”

      So now, paradoxically, we have this French citizen berating the Tories when he wouldn’t have been able to stand and vote in elections to the Scottish Parliament if it wasn’t for the Tories under Major agreeing to that in 1992.

  23. Kenneth
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    John, I agree that we must give the PM a chance.

    However, there is no point in the PM believing that a ‘tinkering’ solution will do. There must be early public pressure on him to negotiate a position where the UK Parliament is sovereign in all matters.

    If this early pressure is not kept up, the PM and his allies (and his allies in this matter could include the Labour Party, SNP and BBC) may cement themselves into a position where lacklustre reforms are seen as a victory.

    This could leave eu-sceptics looking sour and negative if they reject the deal late in the day, thus ensuring an IN vote.

    Now is the time to galvanise cross-party support for democracy. As always, the key is the attitude of the BBC and sadly, all the influence and contacts are with the IN side.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    For information, this is the referendum franchise that the Tory MP James Wharton proposed in his Private Members’ Bill, which it seems is the model which the Tory government now wishes to follow:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2013-2014/0063/lbill_2013-20140063_en_2.htm#l1g2

    “2 Entitlement to vote in the referendum

    Those entitled to vote in the referendum are –

    (a) the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency,

    (b) the persons who, on that date, are disqualified by reason of being peers from voting as electors at parliamentary elections, and

    (c) Commonwealth citizens who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote in Gibraltar as electors at a European Parliamentary election in the combined electoral region in which Gibraltar is comprised.”

    In my view “persons” should be replaced by “British citizens” in (a) and also (b) – I’m not sure, but I suspect there may be a few peers who are not British citizens, if that is not the case then (b) can stand unamended – and (c) should either be deleted altogether or amended to replace “Commonwealth” by “British” and to replace “a European Parliamentary election in the combined electoral region in which Gibraltar is comprised” by “a parliamentary election if Gibraltar were to be or form part of one or more constituencies in such an election”.

  25. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    It is to the UK’s advantage to highlight the problems in other countries as well as our own and persist with these tactics. The dissatisfaction with the present arrangement may then gain more credibility and the EU realise that a dictatorship is not on the books for the future.
    Here I suppose I am being a commentator and not an initiator.

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Now that Merkel and Hollande have agreed to pursue closer eurozone integration within the scope of the existing EU treaties maybe Cameron is regretting that he just agreed to that EU treaty change demanded by Merkel in late 2010 without asking for any other EU treaty changes in return. And maybe Tory MPs are regretting that they went along with it rather than insisting a) that Cameron should get something substantive in exchange, and b) that the package should be put to a referendum, notwithstanding the exemption that Hague had written into the European Union Act 2011 to avoid a referendum on it.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Denis,
      Very good points but the Conservative party at least in Westminster is predominently pro-EU so they couldn’t give a fig.

  27. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The bad thing, some would say, about the EU referendum is if the vote is in then the UK government Labour or Tory will be locked into that position for at least a decade or even longer.

    Greece, Spain. Portugal and others who enjoy the short-term buzz of kicking the can down the road in paying off national debt will compel the UK one way or the other to foot the bill.

    Counter-intuitively, an in vote will ultimately ensure UKIPs dream within a dream of becoming the UK national government. One can almost hear a united Tory /Labour/ SNP / Opposition crying and protesting at the “draconian” measures taken by the UKIP government to turn the ship of state to face the EU storm head-on with austerity beyond the ken, and a landslide victory for OUT in a rapidly organized second referendum with 85% turnout.
    It would be best for the Conservative Party if Mr Cameron utterly fails in his negotiations with the EU and then steadfastly advises the people of the UK to vote OUT in massive number.

  28. BeeCee
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hello Mr Juncker, may I call you Jean-Claude? Hello Mr Cameron, of course, may I call you Bro?

    So Jean-Claude, what can you offer me?

    Little to nothing I am afraid Bro, perhaps a little tinkering?

    Can we wrap it up in a way in which it can be recommended in our Referendum?

    Certainly Bro, Haven’t we always?

    Brandy Jean-Claude?

    Yes please.

    The Agreement of Ambiguity is approved.

    Reply If you know so much about the meeting, perhaps you can share with us this agreement?

    • BeeCee
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Like your Civil Service ‘letters’ it is either satirical or close to the bone.

      I leave others to decide which!

  29. Shieldsman
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I know which side of the fence the BBC are on – pro EU and lobbying hard for an IN vote. I am not about sure about all the Press, but the Telegraph’s correspondents appear to be for IN.
    Then we have the Captains of Industry and Business weighing-in and advising for an IN vote. But, couldn’t it be a case of I am alright Jack, don’t upset the apple cart. Directors are not always appointed for what they know, but who they know.
    We have Sir Michael Rake deputy chairman of Barclay’s Bank……………… who pushed for the UK to join the Euro advising to stay in.
    All the ex Prime Minsters and Parliamentarians who signed the UK up to an ever more Controlling and Political Union will have their say for IN.
    Tony Blair wasn’t he one of the architects of mass immigration and of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’.
    On the other side of the coin when Newspapers allow comment we start to get the opinion of the Public, the man in the street.
    Very few people trust Mr Cameron to produce any change in the EU Treaties. As he won’t say what he wants, with minimal change he could claim success.
    The Public must of course have some idea of the changes they want and their red lines for voting IN or OUT, with immigration being high on the list.
    If we stay in then we are committing to ever closer Political Union and ultimately to demands to join the EURO in the next TREATY.

    Reply If Mr Cameron fails to secure anything worth having then the Out case should be that much easier.

  30. ChrisS
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Let Sturgeon have her way over the EU referendum :

    Those countries that vote to stay in the EU can do so. Being rid of Scotland and the hard left SNP will give the voters of England an additional reason for voting to leave.

    Not only will we save the £15bn a year we pay to the EU, we will also save the £7.5bn-£10bn we send North to subsidise Scotland.

    By my reckoning that will save every taxpayer in England more than £800pa.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Your reckoning is incorrect!

  31. forthurst
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “I think it is a good idea that the PM gives trying to negotiate the best deal for the UK his best shot.”

    I think it would be a good idea as well, although we know for certain that will not happen as CMD is a Europhile who with his closest advisors are conspiring with the EU behind closed doors to construct a package to sell to the British people as a ‘victory’; they have no intention of asking for what Jacques Delors suggested for us, a “privileged partnership”, either in the EEA or simply with a free trade agreement, which is all we want and what most people thought they were voting for 1975.

  32. DaveM
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    It seems there are certain things which are touted as being EU-funded and EU-led, and in many cases probably are. Things such as Europol, etc. There is also cooperation between EU states which is usually a good thing. However, it seems that these initiatives also work closely with other nations such as Norway, Australia, and so on…..

    I think the EU (ie. France and Germany) recognises that the UK will not be dragged or bullied into a closer political union, and even if it is, it will just be troublesome. So, I believe the EU will go one way or the other; they’ll either agree to wholesale treaty change, or to nothing at all, leaving the UK to formulate its own relationships and agreements with the EU. They seem to have almost resigned themselves to the fact that the UK is not going down the same road as them, and are perhaps more nervous about the repercussions the UK’s actions may have in France?

    And I don’t believe the UK electorate will be duped by half-baked agreements and minor changes. For them it’s not all about benefits and the economy; it’s about sovereignty and the changing face of their areas.

    I don’t trust the PM 100%, but there’s no other choice at the minute is there? And as Mr R says fairly frequently – if you don’t like what you hear, vote for OUT. Simple.

  33. George Emerton
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Wise words Mr. Redwood but take care in your presentation.
    During the Scottish Referendum Ms. Sturgeon declared that it was positive to vote ‘Yes’ to leave the Union and saying ‘No’ was negative thinking for the future of Scotland. She prevailed.
    Today she advocates a ‘positive message’ is to vote to stay in the EU – so your comments today to leave if the deal is not positive for us will be presented as negative thinking.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Ms Sturgeon speaks in an emotive but illogical style. It is easy to say one thing is positive and another negative, but that is emotive language which intelligent people will see through. There needs to be back-up reasoning, facts and figures to support a view, not just that it is “positive” or “negative”.

      Unfortunately we have a PM who speaks and acts similarly. Perhaps that is why they appear to get on quite well….

  34. David Price
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    By all means give the PM a chance to negotiate. But that is no reason not to start pressing the case for withdrawl, if anything this would bolster the negotiations.

    I have no confidence that Mr Cameron will negotiate anything meanigful to our lasting benefit and see no need to give the pro-EU side any advantage in time or material.

    • A different Simon
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Cameron could come back with the Holy Grail .

      Nothing he could bring back would persuade me to vote IN .

      As with investing , you have to formulate your own set of rules to stop your emotions leading you to make mistakes .

      Voting to stay in would be like a battered wife listening to her abuser and letting him back in the house .

      Reply That is why we have a referendum so you can vote for Out!

  35. Gina Dean
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Please could you tell us which MPs and others are informing the PM what to ask for. Also whether they are pro or against the EU. Thank you

  36. DaveM
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Mr R, can you confirm or explain – as I am not an expert on electoral laws, parliamentary procedures, etc. Due to the fact that Scotland’s RESIDENTS voted to stay in the UK, are they not therefore bound to abide by parliamentary majority votes? If so, Sturgeon needs to stop banging on about double majorities. And, as the PM has stated that the GE electoral roll will be used, will all the nonsense about giving children the right to vote be kicked firmly into touch? And why is Sturgeon giving speeches as if she’s a head of state (or representative thereof) when in reality she is no more than the mayor of a regional assembly, with half the constituents Boris has got? Time for Mr Cameron to start demonstrating the toughness he seems to want us to think he has. At the minute he appears to be letting opponents overstep marks that he would never let his own party members overstep.

    Reply In a free democratic country a party leader can speak as they wish and gain attention as the media chooses.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:
      Yes but people are also free to point out that she’s talking b-ll-cks…

  37. Jon
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    We read today that Germany and France support a minimum level of corporation tax.

    We also read today renewed called from the pro EU SNP for more powers such as corporation tax with the intention they would compete for the lower rates.

  38. miami.mode
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I see that Merkel and Hollande are trying to harmonise company tax rates across the EU and doubtless complain that the UK’s are lower than either of them, but do other EU countries impose an Employer’s National Insurance tax? It is always essential to compare like with like which is almost impossible with the disparate nations in the EU.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps, but they certainly have nothing comparable to our “wonderful” business rates regime. Pay for local services then pay again to have your bin collected!
      It is the old story – picking one tax out of the air to harmonise it has knock-on effects elsewhere.

  39. DaveM
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    To reply: yes, but she’s speaking for Scotland as Scotland’s First Minister. Interesting to hear what England’s First Minister has to say……oh whoops, I forgot – we haven’t got one. So once again, no one speaks in England’s interests.

    Reply I do, as can all English MPs at Westminster.

    • DaveM
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      You do, John, and it’s appreciated. But not many others do – and the PM is more concerned with clinging to the notion of a 19th century UK than he is with looking after the people who voted him and his party into power.

  40. rick hamilton
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    The vote should be limited to British Citizens with Right of Abode in the UK and no others.

    Personally I was outraged to have lost my vote after more than 15 years resident abroad, when I was employed by British companies throughout and paying tax on a modest UK income. I wrote to David Cameron to ask him why he was considering giving to the vote to a convicted axe murderer but withholding it from those who did their bit for British exports.

    As you might expect, his reply was dilatory and entirely unsatisfactory. He seems to believe that long-term expats with homes and families in the UK have lost touch with their own country. Come into the real world for heaven’s sake.

    Reply He put in the manifesto that he wishes to change the 15 year rule

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      All British citizens have the right to live in the UK, do they not?

  • 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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