Mr Redwood’s contribution to the debate on the European Union Referendum Bill, 16 June 2015

John Redwood (Wokingham (Con): I hope that, when the Government bring the Bill back on Report, they will give further consideration to the question of campaign spending limits. We are all freshly back from an energetic general election campaign, and one of the finest things about the United Kingdom’s traditions that ensure fair and free elections is the fact that we have pretty strict expenditure limits in each constituency. Those of us who were the incumbents fighting to retain our seats were rightly subject to rules stating that we could not use our incumbency in any way, as that would have provided us with an obvious advantage. We could not use our ability to raise more money, for example, because there were strict limits in place.

Those strict limits applied for a five-month period. We had the long campaign period, which was subject to expenditure control, followed by the short campaign period. It is the short campaign period for the referendum that we are talking about today. I believe that it was right to impose the campaign limits early, because political parties are increasingly campaigning well in advance of the general election proper, and it looks as though the referendum campaign will kick in well before the referendum proper. Indeed, there are clearly already stirrings, even before this Bill has passed through the House of Commons.

It is good that we all have to face the challenge from a number of candidates, any one of whom has a reasonable chance of raising the maximum that we are allowed to spend in a given constituency. It is quite a large sum for an individual to raise, but it is quite a modest sum for someone who has a reasonable amount of support or who asks for small or medium-sized donations from a range of people. It is not that difficult for a relatively popular party or candidate to raise the money needed in order to spend right up to the constituency limit, to give them the maximum chance in the challenge.

I understand that the sums will be rather bigger in a national referendum campaign, and that if one side is a lot more popular than the other, that would give it an advantage not only in the vote but in the amount of fundraising it could do. But I do think that, under the current Bill, the very large sums that would be available, because of the way the parties and some of the supporting organisations are thinking, are thoroughly disproportionate. That would give the impression of unfairness, and the British people have a great sense of fairness. Many people on the yes side have a sense of fairness and would prefer it if the referendum campaign were conducted with more equal sums of money, so that the weight and quality of the argument matter more than access to funds and special ways of messaging.

My second point is to support those who are talking about the duration of the campaign. The campaign proper could well be limited to four weeks. An awful lot can be said in four weeks. Those with little interest in politics will get rather bored if the referendum campaign dominates the news and media for more than four weeks. Given the natural interest of quite a lot of people in this subject, and the enthusiasm of many of those who wish to campaign on either side, there will, in reality, be a longer period. There should be a long and a short period, as there is in a general election, so that there is proper control of the messages and the money spent in the longer time period, although it would be up to either side, or both, to take the view that they really do want to concentrate their spend and their message in the last four weeks because they might be afraid of overdoing it. I suspect though that they will want a longer period, so we will need some kind of regulation on the longer time period—the full duration of the campaign proper.

My third point is to support those who have raised serious issues about the expenditure of public money, particularly about the expenditure of European Union money. It would be wrong for the European Union to spend any money intervening in a British referendum over whether the United Kingdom stays in the European Union. It is, after all, United Kingdom taxpayers’ money. On current polling, we know that there is a split of opinion, with very substantial bodies of opinion on both sides. People would be very reluctant to see their tax revenue taken by the European Union and then spent on putting out messages and propaganda on just one side of a very contentious referendum.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): I must remind the right hon. Gentleman of what happened in the Scottish referendum. The only difference was the way that it was funded. In the United Kingdom, funds are collected centrally and go to London. If the European Union had the same model, they would be collected centrally and go to Brussels and then given out again. The point is that it is taxpayers’ money. In Scotland, we saw our taxpayers’ money come back to the UK Government and used against one side of the referendum campaign.

John Redwood: I quite understand, but I am suggesting something different. I am suggesting that to have a completely fair and independent referendum, there should be much stricter controls over the expenditure of Government money.

Mr MacNeil: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his revelatory tone and words. He said that he wants a stricter and fairer system, so his commentary on the Scottish referendum is instructive and very welcome.

John Redwood: The result in Scotland was pretty conclusive, so the expenditure of Government money was not the crucial thing that made the difference to the result. The result speaks for itself. But we can always learn from past experiences. For my choice, I do not favour the expenditure of public money on interfering in elections and referendums. I am known to be careful with public money anyway, and I would not want the money to be spent on this area. It is for individuals to decide what they wish to do by way of political intervention, and they can make their own decisions. If we let them have more of their own money to spend, they may wish to spend it on interventions in elections. That is how I would rather it was done. In this case, it would be particularly counterproductive for the European Union to spend some of our money, which we send to them, on intervening on one side. It would cause enormous resentments. Indeed, the no campaign might even welcome it as it would be a cause in itself which it would make use of if this became a clear use or abuse of public money.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I raised the issue of the EU on Second Reading. I had a helpful letter back from the Minister for Europe this week. Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on his final paragraph? He says:

“I would trust the proper diplomatic relationships with Governments and institutions, and encourage them to stick by their duty to respect the right of the British people to take their own decision responsibly.”

I do not feel that I can trust the EU on this very important issue. Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that?

John Redwood: I am afraid that I do share some of the hon. Lady’s worries. I would like to see that clearly stated in writing and as an act of policy from the EU itself. That would probably be much appreciated in many sections of the United Kingdom, so that we can be sure that there would not be clumsy, unwarranted or unwelcome interference. It would be a double irony if the EU were using our money to do it. That is what makes it particularly difficult. UK taxpayers of both views would be paying the money to the EU, but only one side of the argument would be funded by that money.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Surely the Government could do something on this front. They could ask the European Commission and the European Union not to intervene and not to fund the referendum campaign. They could then get a written undertaking from the Commission not to use European Union funds. That is outside the scope of the Bill, but the Minister could give such an undertaking.

John Redwood: Indeed. I am speaking to amendment 10 tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who seeks to clarify this point and prevent the use or abuse of EU money. I hope that the Minister will respond and that he will have his own proposals on Report. The Electoral Commission has given exceedingly good advice across the board on this referendum. It seemed to suggest that it would not be right for the EU to give money for the campaign, and it would be nice to have a reassurance that the Government share that view and accept the advice of that august body, which is there to guide us. There is an additional issue with EU money, to which some colleagues have referred. What do we do about the EU money that is routed to bodies or organisations within the UK that choose to make a donation to a referendum campaign? That is another difficulty. As I understand it, such a donation would be perfectly legal because the organisation giving the money would be able to say that it had other sources of money and it was not a direct gift of EU money to the referendum campaign. Such a body may be swayed by the fact that it had had generous access to EU moneys in the past. While one would hope that none of them were donating for that reason, people would suspect that a body in receipt of substantial EU moneys in the normal course of business that saw fit to give money to the campaign to stay in would hope that the EU would be better disposed to it when it put in its next application for money.

Sir William Cash: I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was here when we were debating part of this, but the Electoral Commission’s position is that a central principle of the regulatory regime that it supervises is that foreign sources of funding should not have undue influence on our democratic process. It has come to the conclusion that the European Commission does not fall within the list of bodies that can register as a campaigner. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have to get to the bottom of that? It is highly arguable that the European constitutional arrangements are effectively embedded in our own constitutional arrangements by virtue of sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. We need to get this right.

John Redwood: I was present to hear my hon. Friend speak to his amendment, and I am aware of the legal minefield that the provision could represent. That is why I worded my remarks cautiously—I said that I thought it was the view of the Electoral Commission that it would not be appropriate for the EU to spend money on the campaign. As he reminds us, it has made a clear statement about being a principal donor to the campaign, but there are other ways in which it could help, and it might argue that it was a domestic institution for these purposes. It might say that the EU’s writ runs within the UK. There is an office of the EU in London; it might try and route it through the London office. We need to say that that would be unwise. The Minister may think that it is illegal or that it should be impeded in some way. We need clear guidance from the Minister.

I return to the issue of indirect funding of the campaign by grant-in-aid to organisations that are helped or partially funded by the EU. Of course, it is a matter for the referendum campaign to argue over the rights and wrongs of EU funding. I am sure the no campaign will want to say that the money we send to Brussels and which it gives back to our organisations could be given to them directly by the United Kingdom Government if Brussels were not in the way. It could be pointed out that the £11 billion we send to Brussels in tax revenue is spent outside the UK, so, were we to leave, that money would be available for either tax cuts or extra spending in the United Kingdom.

That would be a matter of debate in the referendum, but an issue for the Bill relates to the legality, morality and political wisdom and judgment regarding the point at which an organisation becomes so dependent on EU funding that it has a very strong interest in it. Restrictions or limitations—or at least a declaration of interest—might need to be made if such a body decides to become involved in the referendum campaign. It would be wise to let people know of such a clear financial interest if the body played an important part in the yes campaign.

Sir William Cash: Does my right hon. Friend think it would be possible to have a register of interests? Then, when companies go on the BBC and say, “We don’t want the United Kingdom to leave the EU,” we would know where their money comes from, what their actual policy is and the extent to which they are dominated by the EU system.

John Redwood: A register of interests would be one way of handling it. It would be quite complicated for large companies, but rather easier for grant-receiving organisations. The issue for companies is rather different. I am all in favour of business people taking an active part in our politics, but they may need to intervene as individuals, because if they are an executive in a very large company that has a broad shareholder base, they may not be speaking for their shareholders on a very political issue. People would ask them, “Is this your private view or are you speaking for the company and has it been tested in a company general meeting?” That is probably a debate for another day. I am all in favour of major business involvement, but unless someone owns the company they have to be careful in associating the company with their own particular views.

The conclusion I wish to put to the Government is that this Bill is extremely welcome, but it is work in progress. These are very complicated areas, because the EU is a unique and powerful institution. In order to have a fair assessment by the British people of its worth or demerits, we need to be very careful and to not in any way trammel our usual belief in independence and fairness when we test the mood of the people. I do not think the Bill quite yet meets that requirement, but I hope that, on Report, Ministers will have better and more detailed answers about how we handle the scale of campaign donations and the period prior to the referendum campaign proper with respect to controls over messages and financing, and that they will be able to address the very vexed subject of how much power, influence, money and messaging the EU itself can inject into what should be a United Kingdom debate.

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43 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Well said but huge bias is already confirmed on the UK funding for political parties nearly all of which are for the yes side and by the yes/no nature of the question. Cameron has already sloped the pitch, plus we have the BBC who are hugely biased on this issue (see Rod Liddle’s excellent piece in the spectator today of his experience there).

    It was however good to see someone (even on the BBC!) on the daily politics yesterday correctly pointing out that the gender pay gap is in essence a total myth pushed by the left. Women just sensibly choose to take very different career choices to fit in with their work life balance – perhaps best illustrated by the fact that 93% of workplace deaths are of males. Anyway younger women (and woman without children) already do earn more than males. This despite the fact that so few girls choose to study Computer Science, Physics or Further Maths at A level.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:17 am | Permalink
      • Hope
        Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        As predicted, Cameron now claims treaty change might be possible before the referendum! How come? It was when the fiscal pact was required in 2010 where he had an ideal opportunity for something in return and asked for nothing. Do you still trust him JR? Do suspect he is rigging the EU referendum (question, purdah, money allocated etc) and starting to talk about locks and such rubbish to con people as he did last year with his pledge for EVIL and the extra £1.7 billion he gave away to the EU for nothing in return.

    • Hope
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      It appears on ports that Greece is being threatened by the IMF and the EU of being on their own, Demonstrating Greece will be shunned. Bullying culture that is attributed to the EU soviet styled dictatorship who is a main contributor to the mess. Namely, allowing Greece in the Euro, prepared to sacrifice Greece to save the Euro currency, to save private banks and the EU project.

      What is Cameron’s position through the IMF or EU? Is he offering help like he did with Ireland or is he supporting the threats and squeeze on Greece? Presumably, like Ireland, he could offer Greece a loan?

      Reply No, the UK government has no wish to offer Greece a loan, and is not part of the Eurogroup that are making the decisions about the EU response to Greece.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        I think the expression is “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” the rhetoric coming from the Greek Government and Syriza spokesperson seem very strident in the last few days and suggesting that it the problem is “democracy” i.e. the Greek people have democratically decided against austerity and it’s their democratic right that the rest of the EU should pick up the tab…

        It seems that Greece (or certain sections of Greek society) has been living the high life since joining the Euro under false pretenses and now the “chickens have come home to roost” or should that be roast…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Giving more loans to Greece just enables them to continue with their over paid and bloated state sector. They need to cut their state sector hugely. The loans mean they do not bother. This locks them into a death spiral of higher tax rates, thus still fewer tax payers and thus less tax revenue and a declining economy.

        They should get out of the EURO, issue a new currency and write off the debt. That last thing the UK should do is throw any more money at them or the IMF or the EU for this purpose. The loans will never be repaid that is fairly clear. They will be more credit worthy after they do this than they are now.

      • Hope
        Posted June 25, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        Not quite correct. The UK is on the hook for £1.7 billion through the IMF is it not? Despite Cameron saying he would not bail out countries directly or indirectly. Clarity what position Cameron is taking, bullying the Greeks or helping a distressed state?

        After all he gives away £14 billion on overseas aid, could not some of this be used? At least people in need would receive it rather than consultants and fat cat salaries for overseas aid, estimate to be about £3 billion and the EU gives away another £2 billion of it without any say or influence from a British politico- these are our taxes he is wasting. I thought Cameron said last week that overseas aid helps to stop people wanting to come here? Is this not the same?

  2. Jerry
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    @LL (and others); “plus we have the BBC who are hugely biased on this issue (see Rod Liddle’s excellent piece in the spectator today of his experience there).”

    I fear that some people need a new TVs or radios as they only ever seem to be able to receive the BBC, thus they don’t seem to understand that other broadcasters are far more biased, a classic example is Ch4 (news) who are far more towards the left on most things, they can sometimes make “The Mirror” appear almost Thatcherite and the Socialist Worker some what moderate, whilst Sky (news) can be somewhat biased to the right – especially so if picking up on stories originating from their U.S. sister network.

    As for the opinions of Rod Liddle, and his opinion of the BBC, the Wikipedia page for him (that appears well referenced (words left out as unsubstantiated allegation ed) After all he was editor of the BBC’s flagship Today Programme [1] for four years (between 1998-2002), during a time when even I thought the programme was rather to easy-going on Blair’s government, although it should have been no surprise considering that Liddle once worked for the Labour Party.

    Context is King…

    [1] and often criticised by the right wing

    • Ted Monbiot
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Alternatively you could argue that if someone like Rod Liddle with his well known political leanings feels the BBC has a left leaning liberal bias having worked for them, then that is significant.

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes , Channel 4’s bias is also worrying .

      However , the BBC (with the exception of Andrew Neil) have completely given up journalism and have gone from reporting the news to making it .

      Even Match of the Day (which is probably produced by an outside production company) has taken on the BBC’s immature “style” .

      Here is an example :-
      – At Saturday 22:25 , the BBC newsreader says they are going to show the football results so look away if you don’t want to see them .

      – At 22:30 , Match of the Day starts up . As an introduction to a match they are just about to show hilights of they will read out a not very cryptic clue as to what the result will be .
      eg ‘Burnley have not won at Anfield for 50 years” means Liverpool suffered a shock defeat earlier in the day .

      It’s the same juvenile sixth-form middle class style that Osborne shows when baiting the opposition when the country needs policies rather than political point scoring . What is worse they all think it’s frightfully clever .

      I don’t think self made people would behave this way .

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      “Context is king” tell that to the press or those whose comprehension doesn’t grasp the whole . I have never known 2 decades like it for taking a few words from a paragraph and changing the whole meaning to the disadvantage of others.

  3. Douglas Carter
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    We’re entering an era I was wearily confident we’d inevitably see. After all the years of trying, our opponents protest ‘Now you’ve got your referendum, you’re complaining’.

    A very large number of us didn’t want ‘A referendum’. We were asking for a ‘free and fair referendum’. Which implies ‘a free and fair Referendum Campaign’. To our discredit, unfortunately we carefully concealed that notion by saying exactly that repeatedly, in plain English language, clearly and unambiguously. Observers would have had to apply specific mental disciplines to evade those comments. We should have learned by then that Europhiles are historically incapable of noticing such advance comments placed directly under their noses.

    I’d say the Purdah strictures are vital less for the money spent – although doubtless the disparity will prove of some significance – it prevents the Government from literally making it up as it goes along, as per ‘The Vow’ late in the day in the Scotland Referendum. The protests from Mr. Hammond and Mr. Lidington with regard to the need to disestablish Purdah simply don’t hold water. There is nothing whatsoever to prevent individual members of the Government from enjoining the official campaign, with the proviso they indicate at each and every intervention they do so on a private and personal basis only – that they do not imply they have Government backed sanction.

    Successive Governments have had in excess of four decades to advertise the benefits of the EU. That they would throw themselves into a tizz over a further 672 hours is a little difficult to justify.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    So what was the outcome of the debate?

  5. JoeSoap
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Personally, whilst still an issue, I think this is a bit of a sideshow.

    When the chief negotiator hasn’t set out his position in front of his electorate, transparently, and said “Unless I meet these I will recommend withdrawal”, we know the game is fixed anyway.

    Goalposts cannot only be not moved, they aren’t even available to see!

  6. JoeSoap
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Quite clearly with a pro-EU government, you will get a pro-EU referendum result!
    The answer was for the group of you long, long ago to make your case from a separate party.

  7. agricola
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    The EU must be told to keep out, and must be made to confirm that they will keep out. Ministerial assurances are insufficient. What for instance is to prevent the BBC, funded in part by the EU, giving airtime to Brussels.

    There are no doubt many other organisations that Brussels has infiltrated with gifts of cash for just such a moment as this referendum. They should be openly identified, made to declare their interest, and prevented from spending EU / Our money in support of an in vote. Then there are those, unseen in the Foreign Office, who are without doubt heavily involved at the behest of your leader to negotiate a soft deal with the EU that looks like a changed relationship but in fact is more of the same. Somewhat like the EU Constitution when rejected became the Lisbon Treaty.

    Having audited the accounts of these stay in organisation , how about a law demanding that 50% of contributions from the EU must be donated to the out campaign. It would be a very good lesson in democracy and how it should work, for those in the EU who find democracy inconvenient.

    Have in mind when campaigning that a vote to stay in means that ultimately the Pound Sterling will be replaced by the Euro and for all the influence at the top table the UK will have no more significance than Iowa in the USA. Even less in fact as the USA still retains it’s democracy.

    • oldtimer
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      The Institute of Economic Affairs has published research articles on the role of “sock puppets” funded by the EU to advance the causes it wants to impose on EU member states and citizens. A search on their website should provide a lik to them.

  8. Sandra Cox
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    John, many thanks to you, Kate Hoey, Sir William Cash and others for a measured, but vital contribution to the issue of EU funding of the yes vote.

    It would certainly be helpful to have a register of those in receipt of EU funding – not only major organisations such as the BBC and the CBI, but all media – radio, tv, newspapers etc – unions, quangos, charities, universities, individual major companies etc.

    If any organisations or individuals appear in the media, surely they should declare they are in receipt of EU funding. I’d like to know why the BBC and some other TV channels aren’t displaying the EU logo in the corner of the screen – I thought this was a condition of receiving EU funds. If not, surely it should be so in the run up to the referendum.

    The EU funding list is endless and, even more disgracefully, includes individuals within our own parliament and civil service – so we should also have a list of government
    individuals who in any way receive incentives from the EU, past, present or future – pensions, appointments etc – and these facts should be declared at the beginning of interviews, articles, programmes etc.

    It is clear that many organisations and individuals are receiving UK taxpayers’ money in the guise of EU largesse, and we are being fed the EU and its supporters’ mantra that we all need more EU.

    Keep up the pressure John – what we really need is clarity!

    • Michael Walzer
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I am afraid you are asking for the impossible:
      Does a student part of the ERASMUS program qualify as receiving “EU” funding?
      Do UK universities and research centres involved in European research programs (in medicine, engineering, social and natural sciences, …) qualify as receiving “EU” funding?
      Do companies based in the UK with subsidiaries in European countries and getting money in these countries thanks possibly to EU regulations, qualify as receiving “EU” funding?

      If you really want a full picture to be revealed of the intricate web of interactions between the “UK” and the “EU”, you might have to create a work-force of independent inspectors to look at tens of thousands of cases and documents.
      And if such a structure were created, would it be paid by the UK, the EU, or you?

  9. Graham Wood
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I think Sir Wm. Cash made two very important points in the debate which needs to be emphasised.
    Firstly: “European Commission does not fall within the list of bodies that can register as a campaigner.”
    Indeed so and this should exclude all financial contributions, direct or indirect from the EU, and additionally should be extended to cover the views of the EU Commission and its servants by the BBC during the campaign. We know that the BBC in spite of the restraints on bias in its charter, is very supportive of the EU as it is a recipient of substantial financial loans from the ECB.
    That alone must exclude the BBC from being able to provide objective comment itself during the campaign, or by a selective process promote an imbalance of pro-EU comments on radio or TV. That would ensure that in no way could the Commission be given an effective voice for the ‘Yes’ vote, at least via the BBC.

    Secondly, Sir William referred to the ECA 1972: “It is highly arguable that the European constitutional arrangements are effectively embedded …. in our own constitutional arrangements. I have consistently argued that amendment of the ’72 ECA is long overdue in order to break the hegemony of EU law over our own, with a simple amendment clause that all regulatory legislation from the EU should be monitored as to whether it is in the national interest. What is not should be rejected by our parliament.

    That would not mean that initially the UK would leave the EU, but it would cut the Gordian knot of the oppressive and undemocratic grip that EU law making powers have over our national life, and economy.
    Once that is undertaken and given time, the ECA Act would be seen to be entirely superfluous to our requirements and allowed to wither on the vine and then repealed.
    Surely that process is far better than the tortured and humiliating ( doomed from the start) attempt by our PM to wrest the return of powers to the UK which belong to Britain by constitutional right anyway.

    Reply Some of us are very keen to amend the 1972 Act. The whole Conservative party voted to do so in opposition.

  10. DaveM
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Mr R,

    Many of the issues you have raised in that contribution, and in other posts on this site, have been highlighted both in the printed press and on TV/radio, including the BBC and Ch4. To that end, you and your colleagues are obviously getting through somehow – I’ve heard very little from IN campaigners (apart from those who don’t come from this country, who, as you say above, should keep their noses out of it). Well done.

  11. mick
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Cameron’s priorities: Key Demands

    Sovereignty: to exempt the UK from the EU’s commitment to “ever closer union” and boost the role of national parliaments.

    Chances of success: some progress likely. UK could be exempt from EU’s commitment to “ever closer union.” British MPs may be able to block EU laws if agreement reached with l other national parliaments but will not get sole veto.

    Euro: to safeguard the rights of the nine EU states, including the UK, which are not in the eurozone.

    Chances of success: reasonable. A form of words expected to be agreed. Britain not isolated.

    Immigration: to curb the rights of EU migrants to claim state benefits. Chances of success: tricky. Could be major sticking point, especially on proposed four-year wait for tax credits.

    Growth: To cut EU red tape and ensure it boosts economic growth. Chances of success: good. Seven other EU nations are already backing UK plans to deepen single market on digital services.

    Forget it Mr Cameron, we want out of the EU or don`t you read the MSM, even though i`m a true royal subject the Queen should`nt be endorsing the dreaded EU, we have had a belly full of what all previous goverments have done to our country, the country put you in but we can take you out, we will only be pused so far

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Don’t you have to be 25 to obtain tax credits anyway? We don’t need to amend EU law on benefit we need to amend UK law. Just say you have to have been paying NI for five years before anyone can claim tax credits.

      How many UK born people under 23 claim state benefits? What type of benefits do they claim and how much per region? The problem is too many people don’t want to take the really tough decisions or come up with the solutions, no flats and homes to people who haven’t contributed for five years. We would need hostels to house all the people kicked out by parents once the gravy train ends, then they would get filled up with immigrants and we’d get more homelessness. We are a cul-de-sac in the UK and unlike our EU neighbours who like to park all their problems here we are log jammed and indigenous British people are losing out instead as we can’t afford to look after the world plus our own elderly and disabled.

      Lots of red tape is UK made and is not wanted to be reduced as more social payments have been transferred to employers. The EU can just be a convenient excuse on this one.

  12. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    The nitty-gritty considerations of funding for the NO/YES campaign is important. Amounts should be equal.Equally, just what and who funds each side of the equation should be made public.

    If certain entities have nebulous titles then details must be provided giving names and lineage showing exactly what interests are at work. And spokesmen must explain those inter-relationships. For example, if a multi-million Euro company Ricky-Winky-Digital-Donut-Inc almost solely owned by a a hedge-fund group banking its money in a tax haven outside Europe then this should be made known.

    But there is a huge obstacle to fairness and democracy. We are not told the truth. The real opinions of EU member states. Only the official positions.

    I may cite the Iraq war for track record. The Polish people in polls available online at the time were over 90% against Polish involvement. Yet their government still sent a small contingent of troops. Some were killed.

    In terms of real European peoples’ opinions in regard to the UK and the EU. Why on earth would the leaders of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and many other tiny nations within the EU who have been bled dry of their brightest minds, their youth, their only practical building blocks for the future of their nations continue to support the EU? In Latvia only one man is left in a whole formerly bustling village, unless of course he has died in the last year or so, or emigrated.

    It is most certainly not in the fundamental interests of Hungary and Bulgaria and Romania when EU prevents them gaining cheap Russian oil. Continued EU membership for most countries excluding, arguably, Germany France and the UK actually is an objective threat to their very existence as nations and peoples. What kind of democracies can these countries possibly possess?

    We should leave the EU whilst the going is good. Sudden exits by other countries should be expected. The consequences for the UK by the rapidity and urgency of those exits will prove dire for our economy if intertwined with theirs.

  13. Bert Young
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It will be difficult to restrict the “behind the scene dirty tricks” that will occur one way or another in the referendum campaign . We all recognise how biassed the BBC is and the position taken by the CBI ; these bodies must be made to stay neutral .I welcomed JR’s contribution in the debate .

    The EU is bound to try to put its views to us during the campaign so , anything that can be done to stop this has to be welcomed . All media should be made to declare their position and , certainly , Ministers and MPs must be free to state their views and not be bound by Party influences .

  14. Vanessa
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I was appalled that Sir Mike Rake wrote a piece in the Telegraph telling us what a disaster it would be if we voted to leave the EU. He did not make clear whether this was his personal view or his on behalf of the CBI.

    I wrote him a stiff letter telling him basically he should try and sort out the mess he has created in his organisation before telling us how we should vote. Also that people like him should (be careful ed)and it is none of his business how this country is governed but the choice of the British public.

  15. Mitchel
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    According to the news report on the banquet in Berlin it seems to be the view of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha that we should remain in the EU.My diminishing respect for the Monarchy continues on a downward trend.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      I hate to say it Mitchel, but I agree with you.

      The Queen – who I have always respected and to whom, as a member of the Armed Forces, I am beholden, has let us down badly here I think.

      The King or Queen, as the constitutional monarch – and her/his household, heirs and successors – is the embodiment of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom regardless of who she/he actually is. As much as anyone, the Queen does not have the right to give away her own sovereignty because by doing so she is giving away the sovereignty of the UK which actually belongs to the people of the UK. If I was to be extreme I would say that as the guardian of this, she is failing in her duties.

      It seems that she will do anything to avoid any chance of the UK breaking up – at least on her watch, even if that means she is technically subordinate to unelected foreign bureaucrats.

      Hopefully i won’t get arrested for treason now!

  16. oldtimer
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    You make fundamental points which the government needs to accept and act on. Otherwise the referendum will be regarded as a stitich up. The EU has a track record of interfering with opinion forming both by direct funding of its propaganda but also by using intermediaries – otherwise known as sock puppets – to do so. The IEA has researched this in depth.

    The EU has funded organisations to promote views which the EU itself wants to propagate, but does not want to be seen doing so. The pirpose is as simple as it is devious; it can then point to “popular demand” for the policies it is paying these organisations to promote. Most people will be completely unaware of this activity conducted under the radar. This has proven to be an effective way to guide, manipulate and, in effect, to subvert public opinion. Parliament should require all organisations to publish who funds them and for what purpose. The CBI and the BBC, among others, has received significant sums of money from the BBC; they and others should be required to declare their interests.

  17. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I see the Queen is supporting the Yes campaign, as she supported the Scottish No campaign. Mr Cameron must be pleased.

    Reply Read her speech – it says no such thing

  18. bluedog
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Valuable work, Dr JR. Among the corporate entities that should be compelled to participate in a register of interest in respect of EU funding is the union movement. As we know, the Labour Party is both Europhile and dominated by the union movement. It would be unfortunate if EU funds were covertly laundered by the unions before being passed on to a pro-EU Labour advertising campaign. NGOs, quangos and not-for profits need to be roped in too.

  19. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    What a shame that we have to cloak corruption in terms of not taking advantage of EU money.

  20. Rods
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    This is more of a question than a comment. We know that the pro-EU BBC gets millions in grants from the EU as do many charities and other individuals and organisations that take pro-EU positions, often with much publicity as a result of their grants.

    The EU could use these ‘support and development’ grants to get much pro-EU Yes vote publicity as a result, by the back door.

    Will it be a legal requirement for any organisation that campaigns in anyway for a Yes vote to make a full disclosure of any EU funds they receive? If not, then this is an obvious avenue open to potential massive abuse.

    Do I expect the EU to play fair? In a word no! We only have to look at the past history of the rerunning of past referendums, where the stupid voters voted the ‘wrong way’, so they have to go back and vote again and again until they understand the ‘EU view’ and vote ‘correctly’.

  21. Peter a
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Off topic; on the subject of immigration, great to see Andrew Green destroy Jo Coborn on Daily Politics. The calm extrapolation of facts and figures will always confound sneering, hyperbolic and unfounded arguments. Batting off the usual insinuations of racism and attacks on the quality of MigrationWatch research, he pointed out that on this subject the BBC is unrepresentative of 75% of UK population. That went down well!

    Excellent article by Alister Heath, in DT today regarding classification of poverty. Very illuminating, I never realised that under the current classification, developed in the 60s by the left, no matter how wealthy society grows someone will always be considered poor if they live in a household on below 60% of median earnings! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11697568/Our-poverty-rules-are-an-insult-to-everyone-its-time-to-rip-them-up.html

    • Ken Moore
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Also of note was Bernard Jenkin’s performance on the BBC Hardtalk program.
      I particularly liked his reasoning that the referendum will settle nothing if it isn’t free and fair.
      One can only hope that brothers Redwood, Jenkin, Farage and others of a like mind are ready to jump into action the moment Mr Cameron’s non-negotiation is exposed as a scam.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vh1h5

      Unfortunately the Conservatives have bought into the whole lefty ‘child poverty’ racket and even appointed a Labour party member to head the ‘Social mobility and child poverty commision’.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/people/alan-milburn

      Surely this is now ripe for abolition.

  22. A different Simon
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    It is surely better for people to hear the IN case from the horses mouth .

    People love being told what to think and do by foreigners .

    Mr Baroso and Kathy Ashton should be made to explain why jury trial and habeas corpus are outdated concepts and why we need to form a U.S.E.

    Given em as much rope as they want .

  23. ian wragg
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    John, will we ever get a simple statement of what powers CMD wants to repatriate so we can form a judgement??

    • DaveM
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Ian,

      Is any of it relevant? The fundamental problem is that he is not seeking to (and would not in any case achieve) an end to Freedom of Movement.

      That will become the main issue, particularly when the Italians and French start issuing some form of EU travel documents which mean that our Navy will end up literally ferrying people to our shores. When that happens, everything else will become moot.

      The majority of immigrants (it seems) want to come here to claim asylum or to work illegally. Curbing benefits will have absolutely no effect. After all, what are they going to do with these hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers? Let them starve to death?

      The bottom line is that the country is full up, for now at least. Control of our borders has to be the issue on which our host and his likemended allies fight for an OUT vote. And it won’t be a particularly difficult battle to win as regards the ordinary folk of England. Although the papers describe the current influx as a “flood”, we all know this is just a few cracks in the dam. When the dam bursts it will become a tsunami – other EU states seem unable or unwilling to address it at all, which means that if we want our kids to inherit their own country, robust border control is absolutely crucial.

      When this starts to pan out over the next year or so, all the EU funding in the world won’t make any difference. Ultimately – and I hate to say it – forced integration and unchecked immigration is making the newly tolerant English become insular and, dare I say, (anti mass migration ed). Blair, Brown, Cameron – what have you done??!!!

  24. Graham Wood
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood. Thanks for your response to my post on the issue of amending the ECA where you state: “Some of us are very keen to amend the 1972 Act. The whole Conservative party voted to do so in opposition.”

    That is good to hear, but of course as you will fully appreciate it is far more important to hear the view of, and see action by, the Conservatives in power, as opposed to being in Opposition! Is there any sound reason why this policy cannot be revived?

    Given that Mr Cameron is now publicly backtracking on the probability of treaty change and unlikely to achieve “fundamental reform” of the EU, means that it is almost certain that such concessions wrested from the Commission and other member states will be relatively minor. If so, these will be insufficient for attaining his own stated objectives, and not likely to convince the British public that a substantial change in UK/EU relationship will result.
    Anticipating that scenario, then even more urgency to amend the ECA on the part of dissenting Conservative MPs is needed if we have any chance to break the yoke of EU hegemony. What then of the huge policy areas such as the CAP, the CFP, Justice & Home Affairs, amongst others, not least primary law making powers, which will remain within the orbit of the EU?
    Any chance of the party returning to plan action on this front do you think?

  25. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    It will be impossible to identify EL cash from the in funders. Restoration of purdah and strict limits on how much can be spent are the only realistic controls and should be pursued vigorously.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Anyone speaking publicly on this top should be mandated to declare any pecuniary interests

  26. matthu
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    It seems that Cameron may secure a binding agreement from other EU leaders for a protocol to be attached to the Lisbon treaty “the next time it is revised”.

    Then of course we will get into all sorts of arguments as to whether the Lisbon treaty is still a treaty, whether a complete revamping amounts to a revision, whether an agreement made before Greece exist the Euro amounts to anything at all afterwards … and so on and so on. It will all be in the small print.

    We will be no further on than Labour’s promise to hold a referendum next time powers were transferred to the EU.

    And that’s before we find out about all the exception written into the agreement, al la all the exceptions written in the last time by a certain Mr William Hague which allowed the UK to cede all sorts of vetoes to the EU without triggering a so-called triple lock.

    Once bitten …

  27. matthu
    Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    It sounds as if Cameron is intending to call the referendum purely on the strength of demands which he will claim to have negotiated. Without revealing at all what concessions he will have made or will still have to concede before the next treaty is signed.

    By the time the next treaty is being negotiated, of course, Cameron will be long gone.

    Same as the Royal Society members who will be long gone by the time they are forced to admit that the climate scare was a load of bollocks.

  • 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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