Those who want to stay in the EU should impose a tax to pay for it

Many people who want us to stay in the EU also like higher levels of public spending and more government. That is why they support EU membership, as it brings both in a package UK voters cannot influence much and cannot control or veto. The large gross and net contribution to the EU budget is one of the reasons this country continues to live beyond its means and runs a large deficit.

It is one of the many cruel ironies of the EU that it takes too much of our money and spends it, whilst lecturing us and other EU states to cut our domestic budgets to keep our deficit down. In recent years the UK has simply ignored the requirement to have a deficit below 3% of GDP, but all the time we remain in the EU there is the possibility that the EU will take tougher measures to try to enforce its strict budget rules. Doubtless those who like the current EU agree with their approach to budget discipline.

The honest way to tackle this for those who do want to stay in on current terms would be to impose a tax to pay for our European contributions. The public would then see how much the EU costs each taxpayer and the deficit would get closer to the EU ceiling. As recent judgements on VAT, welfare and borders remind us, the EU regularly taunts the UK by its decisions. I therefore propose calling this new tax JEST – Joint European Solidarity Tax.

I know many pro EU people are good sports who sometimes pride themselves on having a better sense of humour than mine, so they will enjoy selling a good Jest to the British people to pay for the EU and to live by its fiscal rules. So bring on the Jesters. Tell us why we should pay this tax. You don’t have to pay a tax in order to be a customer of the rest of the world, so why do you do so with the EU? Why does the rest of the world trade with the EU without paying EU contributions?


  1. Lifelogic
    June 9, 2015

    Indeed but far worse than these direct costs, are all the cost are of the daft regulations, the compliance costs, the expensive intermittent energy agenda, the parasitic legal, HR, political and other advice industries that these endless daft regulations give rise too. Also the absurd misguided nature of the new banking regulations.

    The EU largely benefits the malignantly growing state sector, lawyers and politicians at the expense of the productive workers in the private sector. Just as the ECHR mainly seems to benefits HR lawyers and criminals.

  2. Jerry
    June 9, 2015

    “The honest way to tackle this for those who do want to stay in on current terms would be to impose a tax to pay for our European contributions.”

    I thought we already had one, a tax brought in by Heath, called VAT?!

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 9, 2015

      Yes, a proportion of VAT revenues, or rather notional VAT revenues, is one of four elements in the calculation of the EU budget contribution. Naturally it’s complicated but it seems to come out as about a tenth of the budget, about the same as custom duties on imports into the EU, which go to Brussels after allowing the member state to cover the costs of collection. By far the largest element is related to GDP or GNI.

    2. Hope
      June 9, 2015

      Quite right Jerry. And an amount that needs EU approval to be reduced! All EU. Only from the UK comes from UK taxpayers’.

      Glad you were at the debate today. Why is Salmond not restricted to 10 minutes like everyone else, more bias towards Scotland?

      Reply Because he is the official FCO spokesman of the 3rd largest party

      1. Timaction
        June 10, 2015

        What a sham of democracy when UKIP got 4 million votes and 1 MP and the SNP just 1.5 million and 54 MP’s. UKIP had more votes than the SNP and Lib Dems combined. I wonder why so many English people feel disenfranchised and wondering why they pay taxes to a party that only won 37% of the vote.

        Reply They pay taxes to the government, not to the Conservative party. In England Conservatives won more than 37% of the vote and a large majority of seats.

        1. Timaction
          June 10, 2015

          Mr Redwood, you are right and we also pay taxes that the Government gives away in EU and foreign aid. £26.5 billions in fact. This still doesn’t alter the fact that the voting system is no longer fit for purpose in the 21st Century when the 3rd largest party by votes has one MP and SNP/Lib Dems 64 with less votes!

          1. jenny endicott
            June 17, 2015

            Surely there is only one word that need to be said to those who still believe the British economy would be better off as part of the EU. ‘Greece’

    3. Jagman84
      June 9, 2015

      You will find that VAT was a rough replacement for purchase tax. Purchase tax was levied on wholesale prices but VAT is on retail prices.

      1. Jerry
        June 10, 2015

        @Jagman84; But purchase tax was also not levied on a whole host of items that VAT is, not to mention that the PT rate was controlled solely by the UK government.

    4. Lifelogic
      June 9, 2015

      And what an absurdly complex and wasteful tax it is for companies to comply with.

  3. Mike Stallard
    June 9, 2015

    Here’s why:
    1. President Obama and Mr Cameron have had a frank discussion about the EU and our continued membership.
    2. Angela Merkel thinks that the EU is a good idea and that we in UK should stay in it.
    3. Mrs Sturgeon is going to be really cross if we leave.
    4. The Foreign Office has a big stake in staying in.
    5. It has already been agreed by the Cabinet that we stay in.

    So JEST about as much as you like: Europe is our future – one flag – one EU – and there is NO Corruption anywhere in the EU either!

    1. Hope
      June 9, 2015

      Good speech today JR, well done. I think the forceful point you made about business and jobs was spot on. It diluted the scare rubbish about jobs that is inevitable from the other side as we heard today. This needs to be repeated again and again. Tate and Lyle Sugars are opposed to the EU, it has and is damaging their business by stupid regulation. Owen Patterson was on the money about the lopsided purdah and finance. Looking at Clarke’s red face I thought he was going to burst, yet he had nothing of substance to say, nor Damain Green. They repeated the same old rubbish, but do not say why they want to be governed rather than to govern. This needs to be asked of them. Do they want to lead or follow being tugged by the EU lead to correct them.

      I just do not understand Salmond whatsoever. Either he wants independence or not. Surely he must see Ireland did the same before him! Free from the England but to be subsumed and instructed from the EU with no voice. Stupid stance.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        June 10, 2015

        Dear Hope–Salmond is one of those who would infinitely rather be a region of the EU than what he sees as an adjunct of England. As with much else the wretched EU has caused the problem.

      2. Denis Cooper
        June 10, 2015

        Hope, there you have mentioned one MP who yesterday claimed to value parliamentary democracy while having striven for many years to destroy our national parliamentary democracy, wanting our national Parliament to be reduced to the status of “a council chamber in Europe”, and another who said “Indeed, Parliament needs improving, but that does not mean we should give up on the many and manifold advantages of parliamentary democracy”, but meaning the EU Parliament not our national Parliament. Neither of them believe in the sovereignty of our national Parliament, and therefore by extension therefore the sovereignty of our nation, and in my view neither are fit to be members of our national Parliament; however it is their constituents who decide that, and keep electing them.

  4. Duyfken
    June 9, 2015

    But are not JESTERS those who glimpse your presence on the coming third day of the week? Acronyms-R-Us.

    1. Hope
      June 9, 2015

      Cameron has been caught out already. Do as I say or be sacked. Superior pompous attitude will never disappear it is in his DNA. Same with Mitchell and it wrecked his ministerial political career and cost him a shed load of money. Quite right to.

    2. Duyfken
      June 10, 2015

      I see that Julia Hartley-Brewer has picked up on your suggestion with approval (and with mine).

      Is there somewhere you could please direct me to ascertain the composition and amounts of what we, the UK, pay to the EU, and similarly how much and to what organisations the EU in its wisdom grants to UK interests? I should think it worthwhile to see a detailed analysis of gross and net.

      Reply The Treasury publish it, and I have written about it here in the past

      1. Duyfken
        June 10, 2015

        Thanks, JR.

  5. Old Albion
    June 9, 2015

    Careful JR, you’ll get the sack …………..

  6. Richard1
    June 9, 2015

    Here’s the reply that will get: the money for EU contributions (<1% of GDP) is very well spent to save us from the disaster of the loss of 3m jobs etc; why do you think so many major employers say the UK should remain? etc etc. there's no escape: for the Out campaign to have the slightest chance of getting more than c 30% of the vote there will have to be a very clear answer to the question as to why the UK will be a MORE attractive environment for investment and jobs growth Out than In. Yes it would be nice to have £12bn off the budget, but it's trivial in the wider picture.

    1. Hope
      June 10, 2015

      It is better to govern yourself with the public allowed the choice who that might govern rather than be governed by a foreign power that can impose whatever it wants, including tax, and cannot be got rid of. It is about our freedom and liberty as people and a country. This is much wider than just economics.

      However on this point there is no argument for paying to be in a trade club with heavy restrictions to be productive, competitive and prosperous, we do not have to pay to trade with the common wealth countries or any other part of the world. Does Canada have to be part of the U.S. a nd be led by its government to trade with it- absolutely not. Obama needs to keep his unfriendly nose out. We would also have our seat back at the World Trade Organisation and speak for ourself rather than an unelected EU bureaucrat who has to represent 28 different wishes and economies.

    2. Timaction
      June 10, 2015

      You don’t have to be in the EU to trade with it. Ask China, Japan, USA, Korea etc. It is and always has been a project to create a Superstate by incremental stealth. “Ever closer union” (FCO 10/1048 from 1971). The 3 million jobs at risk is baloney and is taken from a report of more than a decade ago. The authors have since withdrawn from the remark as it should have said linked to trade. With a £77 billion annual trade deficit (£20 billion with Germany alone!) all we need is a trade deal and friendship. Nothing more. No costs or regulations. We have a voice of 1/28 and NO seat at the World trade talks. We pay 11% of its budget (£14.5 billion and rising) for 8% voting rights. We are always outnumbered in qualified majority voting. The Commissioner’s make the laws but we didn’t elect them and have no means or mechanism to remove them. Large Corporations support our membership as they like regulations as it squeezes out the small and medium businesses from its competition. Just 8% of our companies trade with the EU. 12% with the rest of the world and growing. No fees to trade with them! 100% of our businesses have to deal with the stifling EU regulations. Just look around your home with all the “E” signs on them! I could go on and on. What price is worth our sovereign democracy?

  7. agricola
    June 9, 2015

    I imagine your “friend” Cameron is an enthusiastic supporter of JEST, as he would have us bind ourselves more effectively to this failed experiment. As a committed Europhile, who would tie us to this un-democratic, totalitarian experiment, it should be to his liking. He has yet to explain what attracts him to an EU run by failed politicians at their national level. Please ask him what he has been offered to stay in this political FIFA.

    Cameron’s political judgement is quite dreadful. On a question of national sovereignty who would try to bind his ministers on a party political basis or even on a personal loyalty basis. Only Cameron could not see that it would backfire on him within 24 hours, and then have to backtrack claiming very spurious misinterpretation. He must find it curious that it was seen the same way across the media spectrum. Trying to shift the blame on the press makes him look pathetic, if not shifty. It would now seem that ministers have to resign if they find that his re-negotiation falls short of what they expect. Even this I find abhorrent, what makes his interpretation of what we want from his re-negotiation sacrosanct. No person, minister or otherwise should be subject to sanction for having a position where national sovereignty is at stake.

    The last few days have seen such a pathetic performance on Cameron’s part that I have no faith in his ability to re-negotiate anything meaningful with the EU or his honesty in portraying the result. At best re-negotiation is a halfway house, a pick and mix solution that can never be to my liking. It is a way of keeping us in with a few rule changes.

    This is especially so when an ideal solution, the Norway option of EFTA/EEA is available off the shelf. I despair for my country in the hands of Cameron.

  8. alan jutson
    June 9, 2015

    You have obviously woken up with a sense of humour today John, or is it simply frustration that those who crow about EU membership will not recognise how much it truly does cost.

    A few of us locals run an adhoc discussion group between ourselves from time-time.

    Todays topic is with regard to our membership of the EU.

    I have just sourced two pieces of government information from the web with regards to the EU.

    House of Commons Library Briefing paper Number 06091 dated 3rd June 2015

    HM Revenue & Customs UK trade info. Overseas trade Statistics – EU latest release.

    I will read them before our discussion starts to see what info they contain.

    They are supposed to have no bias.

  9. alan jutson
    June 9, 2015

    Would be interesting to see a breakdown of all government spending listed, department by department, sent out on an annual basis.

    1. bigneil
      June 9, 2015

      Thanks for that – I needed a good laugh.

    2. alan jutson
      June 9, 2015


      An excellent speech in Parliament on the EU debate, which as usual was clear, factual, and held interest.

    3. cliff. Wokingham.
      June 9, 2015

      Yes, a very good idea Alan and don’t forget the local taxes which we are forced to pay which are imposed by the EU. The landfill tax: A tax where an unelected foreign power imposes a huge charge on us to put our own waste in our own land. ( By “our” I mean the UK)

    4. David Price
      June 10, 2015

      That would have to include the EU department spending as well and I am confident it will be .. once the accounts have been properly audited

  10. Gary
    June 9, 2015

    has anyone done a reconciliation , with the numbers itemized, what the EU costs and what it earns in trade efficiencies ? I have never seen it.

    The skeptics just tell us about the costs, and the ‘philes just tell us about the trade and jobs. Let’s see a profit and loss account so that we clearly know the situation and we can hold people to the numbers.

    1. Michael Walzer
      June 9, 2015

      And as Alan is saying above, this should be done for all departments, not only for EU-related costs and incomes.

      Maybe we could see that a lot of the Public-Private Initiatives, Academy schools, Trident, or some foreign military campaigns …. (please add your favourites, here, …. for LL, HS2, “green crap”, … ) are not worth the good money we are spending on them.

      But given that most of this information is not easily available, the public is just left to trust our “representatives”, who certainly not liars are however very economical with the truth and only provide ideologically biased information.

    2. yulwaymartyn
      June 9, 2015

      Should this tax include the cost of educating my son at a university in Germany.? He is currently studying there as an EU national – for free.

  11. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    “In recent years the UK has simply ignored the requirement to have a deficit below 3% of GDP, but all the time we remain in the EU there is the possibility that the EU will take tougher measures to try to enforce its strict budget rules.”

    Having seen the crooked ways in which EU operates I’m not going to say that this would be impossible, but is it not the case that at least on paper the UK and the other member states still outside the euro, the so-called “member states with a derogation”, are exempt from the permitted “coercive” measures in that regard?

    Article 139 TFEU here:

    “1. Member States in respect of which the Council has not decided that they fulfil the necessary conditions for the adoption of the euro shall hereinafter be referred to as ‘Member States with a derogation’.

    2. The following provisions of the Treaties shall not apply to Member States with a derogation …

    … (b) coercive means of remedying excessive deficits (Article 126(9) and (11)) …”

    In addition to which, the UK’s euro “opt-out” Protocol (No 15) specifically exempts the UK from Article 126(9) and (11) among other treaty provisions.

    1. a
      June 9, 2015

      The UK getting under 3% deficit this parliament will be a modern miracle, unless we get the BoP trade deficit down to circa 2%. JR says “… UK has simply ignored the requirement to have a deficit below 3% of GDP”. So what was Osborne’s zero deficit plan by 2015 all about; back in 2010 budget? It has been more a case of the UK deficit ignoring Osborne! The UK private sector’s desire to save and not spend has kept the deficit higher.

      The UK has just failed its last EDP, so they appear to have started a new one (Article 126(7) gets trumped by a 126(8)). .

  12. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    Well of course the eurofederalists would very much like the EU to be able to impose EU taxes, eurofederal taxes, directly on the population, just as the federal USA imposes federal taxes, so you may find some support for your amusing idea of a JEST tax from unexpected quarters … one could even say, many a true word spoken in JEST.

    1. Hope
      June 9, 2015

      The EU does impose tax Dennis, does it not? Also it views the budget before parliament does! Outrageous. What other countries in the world outside the EU do this before they trade with each other?

  13. stred
    June 9, 2015

    The problem you have making points like this is the lack of logic present in the sort of people you wish to influence. They will not even register the point of JEST. A good example of the low quality of thinking was made on the early news this morning when the Welsh minister for health said they were banning E cigarettes now in order that they would avoid being proved right by scientific evidence in the future, as they had none at present.

  14. DaveM
    June 9, 2015

    It might have been better for your party – and Mr Cameron – if he’d realised early that he was going to obtain nothing substantial through his negotiations and just gone for a referendum.

    As it is, the euphoria which should now be enveloping the Conservative Party, and the sense of optimism and determination to cement themselves as the government of the next decade (at least) has been replaced by what might be a major crisis.

    I’ve written the ad for you:

    Needed urgently – party leader with genuine Conservative views, and with the ability to provide cohesion and unity in a rapidly disintegrating organisation. Men with floppy blond hair more than welcome.

    We voted for a Conservative government Mr R, not a bunch of Tories dominated by a front bench full of unmovable wet, ratting liberals.

    1. A different Simon
      June 9, 2015

      I fear you are setting yourself up for another round of disappointment if you are yearning for the jumped up kebab salesman to take the helm .

      Both Cameron and Boris are very persuasive . If one did not know better one could almost believe they were what they purport to being .

      David Davies any time over Boris .

      1. A different Simon
        June 9, 2015

        Correction : David DaVIS .

        1. DaveM
          June 9, 2015

          I’m hoping DD might lead the cause for England when the EU business is done. Boris doesn’t inspire me as a Tory leader, but his energy and his ability to read the mood does. Cameron’s cautiousness and desperation to appeal to all comers frustrates the hell out of me. As does his refusal to really state what he wants to achieve in politics and as the PM.

  15. Sean
    June 9, 2015

    The stupid with vote to stay in the Eu. Just look at the pros and cons and you have to be a fool to continue on the road to ruin.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 9, 2015

      The only pros they ever give are:- a seat at the table where we are outvoted, free trade and they have prevented war.

      All three are totally absurd arguments.

      Oh I did here the claim about telephone roaming charges! What a total joke these EUphile advocates are.

  16. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    I see that the European Union Referendum Bill is down for its Second Reading in the Commons this afternoon and it will kick off with the SNP rejecting the whole Bill:

    “That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the EU Referendum Bill because it fails to meet the gold standard set by the Scottish independence referendum in terms of inclusivity and democratic participation, in particular because the Bill does not give the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds or most EU nationals living in the UK, the Bill does not include a double majority provision to ensure that no nation or jurisdiction of the UK can be taken out of the EU against its will, and the legislation does not include provision to ensure that the referendum vote cannot be held on the same day as the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland elections.”

    So that’s it then, what the SNP decided to do in Scotland, with permission from Cameron and the UK Parliament, is now the “gold standard” for referendums.

  17. a-tracy
    June 9, 2015

    How would you collect this tax through VAT? What % do you estimate the JEST bill would add to VAT?

    1. bigneil
      June 9, 2015

      They would probably add 80% – it matches up nicely with the 20% – and would save the need for a lot of people in HMRC – just take every penny off us, it will soon be needed to pay for population increase.

    2. bratwurst
      June 9, 2015

      It is already partly collected through VAT. A proportion of VAT revenues from member states are paid straight to the EU to fund Brussels spending. Between 2007 and 2013, the UK paid over €18.9 billion in VAT contributions to the EU (source – Business For Britain)

  18. Atlas
    June 9, 2015

    … I think I hear the spluttering into the tea as No. 10 reads this eminently sensible suggestion of yours …

  19. MPC
    June 9, 2015

    Amusing articles highlighting the reality of EU membership are always good to read! But on a slightly less JESTful note, the massive costs, both in terms of our ‘membership fee’ and compliance costs across various sectors, are surely worth quantifying precisely and publicising? As the referendum approaches more and more uncommitted people will probably dip into this site and others to gain a balanced view of the arguments. I was struck by comments made by Brian May on Question Time recently to this effect – wanting more information on which to make a decision in the referendum. It was a timely reminder to those of us who feel passionate about the EU, have worked with Brussels and are clear about the disadvantages of EU membership, that there are many intelligent people out there who want to be persuaded one way or the other. I believe eurosceptics have all the winning arguments. If they are made with precision and hard data, then this will serve to undermine the vague generalisations made by the pro EU lobbies in the eyes of the undecided voter.

    1. Graham Wood
      June 9, 2015

      Some eurorealists have for years sought to get government to undertake a proper cost/benefit analysis of our EU membership, but I seem to recall that the excuse was that there is no clear way of analysing such costs, and too many variables and complications & etc.
      However it is enough for most of us to know that the EU is a highly expensive exercise for us in the UK with no clear benefit which could not be obtained by being outside such a corrupt organisation in its financial dealings.
      Thus we have little idea of where our Billion £33 contribution really goes do we, particularly as the EU’s own auditors have not cleared its accounts for a couple of decades ? What commercial set-up in the UK would be tolerated on that basis?
      And as hinted above the sheer cost of compliance with EU regulation and directives imposed upon business, especially burdensome to small and medium size firms is unquantifiable but clearly counter-productive.
      All in all simply on economic grounds alone there is no case for remaining in the

  20. margaret brandreth-j
    June 9, 2015

    I sense anger .I propose that those who want to stay in the EU pay a solidarity tax , however those who vote for out pay nothing at all. Of course this is not democratic in the sense that it is a majority decision in the best interests of all.
    I struggle with tax issues as it is ,having to pay to one employer nearly 70% tax for the tax offices mistakes , so would feel embittered if I were to pay for more for the EU. Tax problems have denied me the opportunity of partial retirement this year . We really are going towards that greater animal farm and hopefully Iwill be able to have a couple of years healthy retirement afore I go to the Knackers yard.
    With HSBC problems and DC making statements about staying in the EU …. well it is one big joke John.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have holidays , have time to find a partner, socialise and do all the other things life promised us .. Fat chance.I have been working since 14 years doing paper rounds , saturday jobs, student nursing since the early 60’s . They havn’t a clue.

  21. bluedog
    June 9, 2015

    A brilliant idea, Dr JR, and it seems to work out at £230 per head. Now that the SNP are calling for a double referendum on a states rights basis, it would be prudent to offer a dissenting component of the UK that opposes Cameron’s terms of renegotiation the opportunity to pay the entire UK membership fee. This calculates at £3000 per head for the Scottish population, which goes someway towards redressing the imbalance of the Barnett Formula. Such an impost may result in a change of SNP policy regarding the benefits of the EU.

    1. Denis Cooper
      June 9, 2015

      I see that the SNP say they want “a double majority provision to ensure that no nation or jurisdiction of the UK can be taken out of the EU against its will”, so maybe some MP could ask what they mean by a “jurisdiction of the UK”.

      I’ve found that SNP supporters don’t like it when they’re told the plain truth that the devolved Scottish institutions are on the same constitutional level as Kent County Council, one level below the sovereign UK Parliament and government in both cases, so it would be a good wind up for an MP to ask them whether they think that Kent should also be allowed a veto on the UK leaving the EU.

  22. David Price
    June 9, 2015

    I believe MPs will begin debating the EU Referendum Bill from today. This bill apparently specifically excludes rules on “purdah” which are the usual rules restricting government activity shortly before an election or referendum vote.

    Will you be pressing to change this unprecedented action by the government and restore the purdah rules?

  23. ChrisS
    June 9, 2015

    Brilliant !!!

  24. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    I note that Cameron is quoted in the Telegraph today as follows:

    “I believe it’s in our national interest to try and make changes in the European Union, changes in our membership and then giving the final decision to the British people.”

    Perhaps he could explain how foreign citizens, those of the Irish Republic and other Commonwealth countries, form part of “the British people”.

    If I went to live in Ireland I would not claim to be part of “the Irish people”, not even if I had lived there for many years, not unless I had applied for and been duly granted Irish citizenship and so given my allegiance to that country as required by Article 9(3) of the Republic’s Constitution:

    “Fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State are fundamental political duties of all citizens.”

    A concept of the fundamental duties which accompany citizenship that has now escaped some in this country, who have no problem transferring their primary fidelity and loyalty elsewhere while still claiming the rights and privileges of UK citizenship.

    And while as a UK citizen I would be permitted to vote in their elections, under now very outdated reciprocal arrangements with the UK, I would not be permitted to vote in any of their referendums which are reserved exclusively for Irish citizens.

    1. stred
      June 9, 2015

      I can not remember ever having to prove my British identity in order to be placed on the electoral list. What is there to prevent a foreign national entering themselves and family on the list when the enquiry form is delivered by post? A form was delivered to an empty house which I am renovating and, had I been keen to gain support for a particular side, there was nothing to prevent me entering four names on the form and asking these persons to vote, even though they were living somewhere else.

    June 9, 2015

    What is a jest? An inconsistency.The punchline being the abrupt realization of it. If you get it and get it often you are lucky.Also you are the recipient of the sum total of a culture, its values, education. The Great British Understatement:… our people have not been educated in the nuts and bolts, the “how to” of politics.

    Many people with and without high formal qualifications can argue for a long hour about football citing such detail and providing such analysis that if their debate could be metamorphosed into the political field, well, they would appear as wise as the most eloquent in the Scots Bill yesterday who chuntered on for ages insisting one phrase was “a veto”.A Conservative MP reminded the SNP that if the phrase is read “ordinarily” then it means no such thing. I doubt the SNP actually thought otherwise. They were dribbling. Possibly not just at the thought of a later nice dinner in a restaurant.

    The point. One cannot make a joke about the EU if the audience is wholly unfamiliar with the cultural political narrative. It has suited politicians of all parties very well not to involve everyone in “the game”.
    One sees it at the local branch level of political parties and trades unions. Dominated by a clique of people who possess important and very specific “how to” procedural and factual information. They misinform, they lie, they pretend, they hide much. Their aim is to ensure a lack of competitors to their position.

    Many people who vote YES to the EU will do so as the “logical” course to take as they will feel a continuation is safer than a change if they have not a clue about “the game” and its rules.
    No knowledgeable democracy here. And immigrants utterly unfamiliar with this joke are increasingly thought to be pitch invading.Dangerous times.

  26. DaveM
    June 9, 2015

    OT – are we actually going to start collecting people from the Libyan coast soon? This is getting ridiculous; the migrants know the routine now because they watch it on the TV!!

    As anti-EU as I may be, this is, for the time being at least, an EU problem, and one which needs to be gripped by so-called EU leaders. How much longer are they going to bury their heads in the african sand? Surely there must be a politician somewhere who is capable of making a decision and doing something about this situation.

  27. Kenneth
    June 9, 2015

    Wouldn’t that be good, not only a tax reduction if we leave the eu but, in the meantime, a separate tax accounting for the cost of the eu.

    However, this is the tip of the iceberg.

    How about if telephone companies were told to highlight the extra cost of domestic mobile calls where they have been hiked in order to pay for the cap on roaming charges? The richer jet-set have had their bills subsidised by the poorer domestic customers and this story needs to be told.

    What if industry were to be forced to highlight the extra cost of eu regulations in their bills? What if energy companies were to do the same?

    If these costs were made known to the general public we would be out of the eu in a flash.

  28. A different Simon
    June 9, 2015

    “Those who want to stay in the EU …. ”

    Why can’t they just move (or be removed) to the mainland and leave the rest of us to govern ourselves ?

  29. Colin Hart
    June 9, 2015

    On June 1 I wrote on this blog:

    “If we are obliged to remain in the EU, here’s a way to find the $15 billion annual membership fee. Impose a super corporation tax on businesses over a certain size. This should catch all the CBI worthies who think they know what’s best for us. If they want it, they can pay for it.”

    JEST is an even better idea. Only problem is it would require a Treaty change (because of VAT) and then we would have to have yet another referendum. Oh dear.

  30. Tim L
    June 9, 2015

    What worries me so much about the EU is their ambition to ‘harmonise taxes’.

    The UK is a great big collection of islands and almost all our big businesses are on the mainland.

    This is telling us something important; the more ‘harmonised’ our taxes become the more businesses will want to be on the mainland.

  31. Peter a
    June 9, 2015

    Good interventions in the debate today John. Unfortunately I predict a growing density of weasel words from your colleagues. It is logical that those who had no interest in leaving the EU could not have given a fig about a referendum, that the offer of a referendum was such an important factor in people’s voting in the elections should sharpen MPS minds.
    I suggest that nearer the referendum constituents are advised to write to their Tory MPs and remind them that they have a representative duty and to fail to do that duty and to campaign for remaining in, will result in de-selection by local commitees or an alternative voting intention come the next G Election. Those Wet MPs who seek to curry favour in the current administration and not represent their constituents should be under no illusion that it will cost them their career in politics.

  32. Alastair
    June 9, 2015

    It is perhaps worth mentioning here that a certain fraction of the UK’s VAT revenue is paid directly to the European Union (and, as one might expect in such a circumstance, the Chancellor doesn’t actually have full control over VAT rules and rates as is generally supposed, because Brussels has rules to protect its VAT revenue…)

  33. Graspingatstraws
    June 9, 2015

    Taxes brought in for a specific purpose never disappear when the original purpose disappears. An EU tax would simply be one more revenue raising tax and would open the floodgates for direct taxation from Brussels. If we were going to leave the Belgian empire that wouldn’t matter but as the Euro sceptics are being completely out maneuvered by Dave and his chums it would be yet another disaster foisted on the tax cattle. This referendum will be a stitch up by our completely out of touch and uncaring political masters. This new tax idea just helps them even more.

  34. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    Well, I’m watching Philip Hammond’s speech to the Commons, and he has just given himself away with a reference to “the European electorate”, singular.

  35. Peter van Leeuwen
    June 9, 2015

    Solidarity fund for all those sacked ministers? (those brave characters who couldn’t stop warning against the EU monster and paid the price for it) 🙂

  36. The PrangWizard
    June 9, 2015

    I have just been very fortunate to see your speech in the House on the EU Referendum debate – magnificent. I hope it gets the coverage it deserves. And without notes too.

  37. Cheshire Girl
    June 9, 2015

    Just to say what a brilliant speech you gave on the EU Referendum in Parliament this afternoon. You laid it right on the line, and spoke for so many of us. Well Done John!

  38. Glenn Vaughan
    June 9, 2015

    Excellent speech from you today John re. the EU Referendum Bill and not least because you undermined completely the ludicrous remarks from the Rt. Hon. Member for Rushcliffe.

  39. James Matthews
    June 9, 2015

    “Universities For Europe” campaign.

    Apologies this is way off topic, but it left me completely gobsmacked. Can this really be within the remit of Universities UK? If so, who is paying for it?

    If this is permissible we can discard, at this very early stage, not just any notion of a level playing field, but any hope of an incline of less than one in three.

  40. Denis Cooper
    June 9, 2015

    I’ve just done a word search on the transcript of Hammond’s speech, here:

    and I find that there were 19 occasions when he referred to “the British people”.

    And he said:

    “The referendum is about delivering a pledge to the British people to consult them about the future of their country. It would be a travesty to seek to include EU nationals whose interests might be very different from those of the British people.”

    Yet at the same time he doesn’t think that it would be “a travesty” to include citizens of the Irish Republic and Commonwealth countries; even though they are not part of the “British people” he insists that they must be allowed to vote in our referendum.

    1. James Matthews
      June 9, 2015

      The ability to believe two or more incompatible things at the same time is, if not essential, at the very least a major advantage in politics.

      Restriction of voting in general elections (and, after leaving the EU, local elections) to UK citizens is long overdue.

      In the Scottish referendum EU nationals were, thanks to David Cameron, allowed to vote on breaking up the UK. Our elected representatives make some very strange decisions. Our fault though. We should be more careful who we elect and trust them less once they are elected.

    2. stred
      June 10, 2015

      It was to be expected that Eural and his supporting gang would do everything possible to swing the referendum that they were forced to allow, but the speed and scope of the package of tricks is breathtaking. Citizens of a Euroland country and any Commonwealth country allowed to vote, when it is likely that they will wish to have access to EU free movement for relations while British citizens would have no right in their countries to vote on national sovereignty. Public servants and institutions allowed to campaign and already university bosses getting together, and no restrictions on expenditure by big business and EU propaganda. They must take us for fools or perhaps the attitude is- what are the Little Englanders going to do about it?

      The 60 or so Conservative and Labour MPs who wish to leave when the insignificant sops are made plain must make it clear that this referendum is about survival of the UK parliament’s authority and threaten to force another election by mass resignation if this referendum is to be unfair.

  41. Peter Smith
    June 9, 2015

    “Why does the rest of the world trade with the EU without paying EU contributions?”

    Did you think about trade barriers that the “rest of the world” faces? Given this ridiculously one-sided speech probably not. Convince us why we should leave the EU in an honest and balanced way.

    1. petermartin2001
      June 11, 2015

      Peter Smith,

      The world has moved on since the days of the “common market”. High tariff barriers or hidden trade barriers aren’t the problem in the modern world that they once were. There much less need to set up trading blocs than there used to be.

      The promise was that UK industry would have access to European markets. The reality has turned out to be that the Europeans have had more access to UK markets. So, whereas the UK trade with the rest of the world is close to balance, it’s heavily in deficit with the EU. The Germans sell us twice as much stuff as they buy from us, for example. €84 billion pa vs €42 billion pa.

      That’s not necessarily a bad thing IMO. I doubt the Germans would want that to change either – though maybe they should.

      In any case, I would say they have enough political clout in the EU to prevent any retaliation against an independent UK, which would put their beloved trade surpluses at risk.

  42. petermartin2001
    June 10, 2015


    I sympathise with your motivation but we shouldn’t be considering any increase in taxation, for the EU or otherwise, unless and until inflation becomes the key problem in the economy.

    We should be pointing out to the electorate that, just as with the 1975 vote, the 2016/17 vote, unless there are guarantees of treaty change, will be about a lot more than the IN/YES campaign will be admitting to. If the ‘ever closer unionists’ win there will be no more referendums for the foreseeable future. The result will be taken as a green light for them to do what they like, and sign up for as many new treaties as they like.

    The pound will soon be replaced by the euro. Westminster, inevitably, will be left with little more than local administrative responsibilities.

  43. Feodor
    June 10, 2015

    “Doubtless those who like the current EU agree with their approach to budget discipline.”

    I would have thought your good self–and Mr. Farage for that matter–would ‘agree with their approach to budget discipline’, too. Or have you had a Damascene conversion to the politics of Keynesianism?

    1. petermartin2001
      June 11, 2015

      I’m not sure its all about Keynes. It’s a matter of basic accounting that a N% (of GDP) current account (or trade) deficit has to be offset by a N% govt budget deficit , otherwise the money available to be spent in the economy will diminish and so imparting a recessionary bias.

      The discipline of arithmetic trumps other ‘disciplines’. IMO.

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