The case for self government for the UK.

There are three main reason any the UK would be better off out of the current EU and its all embracing Treaty commitments.  The first is we would free to govern ourselves. The second is we would be better off financially. The third is the UK would have more influence in the wider world and would not be dragged into EU conflicts.

Today let us begin the case by looking at the question of self government. I find in replying to constituents that they are often surprised to be told that something cannot be done here in the UK, or requires a change of European law.  Successive governments have not stressed to electors just how much power has been given away in various treaties. Labour chose to understate and to deny transfers of powers when signing us up to the Nice Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties. Mr Major was able to stress that the UK opted out of the main point of the Maastricht Treaty , but it too was part of a long journey to ever closer union.

Equally important has been the continuous flood of new Directives, regulations and court decisions coming from Brussels. The UK under a qualified majority voting system has often been persuaded to go along with unsatisfactory texts on the basis that an alternative would be worse. All too infrequently in recent years has the UK been able to resist a new EU law. Each Directive or regulation means another area which is no longer under the control of the UK Parliament and people. It is rare to persuade the EU to repeal or amend anything, unless to replace it with an even more far reaching proposal.

Under the original Treaty of Rome the UK surrendered its farming  policy and fishing grounds to EU control. Since then the EU has come to take over most financial regulation, employment law, health and safety law, competition law, environmental policy, energy policy, general business regulation, VAT and some aspects of Corporation tax, whilst also introducing collaboration on common European networks, foreign policy, Home affairs and borders. Welfare and general taxation, two areas we were always told were outside EU competence, have also been made subject to constraints or interventions by the EU and the European courts.

UK voters believe they live in a  country where public opinion can influence and change a government’s mind and the law, or can lead to a change of government to one who will. This is no longer true in all too many areas of life and law. The polls now show some realisation of this truth, with most people in the UK wanting power back from the EU, even if they still wish to remain a member. The Labour government made a big mistake in not being honest with UK voters about the magnitude of the power sacrificed under Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and the large number of directives and regulations they approved. Each time we were told it was a tidying up exercise, or a modest proposal. In total it was a major slice of our power of self government needlessly given away.


  1. Lifelogic
    August 7, 2015

    If only John Major had refused to sign Maastricht (paving the way for all the EURO disasters) or at least given the voters a referendum on it. The Tories are at least as much to blame as Labour, indeed more so. Giving as it did huge powers (over Common Foreign and Security, Justice and Home Affairs and more) to the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. How could any real Tory do that without even asking for the consent of the voters whose powers they were.

    Major however preferred to bury the party for 3+ terms with the ERM fiasco. Now the Tories are back in power (with a leader who claimed to be a sceptic to get elected) but seems to have learned virtually nothing from Major’s experience. A leader who seems to be essentially another Major, but with an ability to speak in full sentences and with better spin PR skills.

    As you say – equally important has been the continuous flood of new Directives, regulations and court decisions coming from Brussels. Indeed and so often completely halfwitted and unworkable directives, worded by people with no understanding of their effects at the coal face. People who probably have never even visited the companies affected.

    Above all the absurdly damaging, job destroying, totally pointless & counter productive and hugely expensive “renewable” energy agenda.

    1. Richard1
      August 7, 2015

      We cannot blame only Mr Major for the ERM – which he obviously didn’t think at the time would be the disaster it was and allow Labour in for 3 terms. It was thought at the time that the ERM would be a good tool to cure inflation, which was then still a major issue. Mrs Thatcher was PM at the time the UK joined the ERM. It could be others pressured and advised her to do it, but the buck stops with the PM in office in the UK. Great as her record is, we have to put down ERM membership amongst the failures of Mrs Thatcher.

      Reply As one who opposed the ERM it was an eminently predictable disaster. Mr Major ganged up with others to force it on Mrs Thatcher who was most reluctant to do it.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 7, 2015

        It was indeed an entirely predictable disaster and was indeed widely predicted. Mrs Thatcher (as she was at the time) clearly should never have let Major and the many other lefty wets and civil servants push her into it.

        She should have stuck to the very sensible advice of her former advisor Prof Sir Alan Walter.

        1. stred
          August 8, 2015

          Even the Germans told him he was barking up the wrong tree at the time.

    2. agricola
      August 7, 2015

      And DC does not have the bottle to stand up in the H o C to explain his love affair with the EU. The yes campaign can only offer smoke and mirrors and as such are ripe to be shot out of the sky.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 8, 2015

        Indeed and that is the most contemptible dishonest position to take. Pretending to be EUsceptic, especially near elections, while really being an anti democratic EUphile to his very core.

        How is the renegotiation going? The silence from the man is deafening.

    3. stred
      August 7, 2015

      I am not sure that withdrawl from the EU would make much difference to the wasted effort to achieve renewable energy. The conversion of coal to American wood pellet burning has been enthusiastically developed by DECC under Milliband, Huhne and Davey. The calculation method for assessing CO2 by Prof MacKay was delayed until they had time to give the go ahead and finance to the 3 wood burners in the UK. We have more here than elsewhere in the EU. Prof MacKay left DECC and has been replaced by another technical expert who is from the industry.

      It is true that the calculation method which claims wood burning as carbon neutral comes from the EU and the efforts of Green politicians such as Herr Fischer. However, it is British politicians ans civil servants who have pushed renewables through even though against scientific advice. Fortunately the game appears to be up, as the Americans are taking an interest and (re Keeping the Lights On – Private Eye this week) Pres Obama has sided with the ones who point out that the pellets are being made from whole trees and not the offcuts. As the whole idea only works if the rubbish is used and the CO2 is only saved in 40-100 years time, he seems to be on the correct side of the argument.

      According to an article- How Europe’s climate policies led to more US trees being cut down- by Joby Warwick- Washington Post-, the Southern Environmental Law Center has been observing the main Enviva wood pellet operation and observed some big whole trees being used, as have some of the bloggers. The wood pellet makers argue that the trees are still ‘waste’ as they have no other commercial use, a brilliant circular argument.

      Meanwhile, the burners here, such as Drax, are confident that all systems of monitoring and calculation are in place and we can be confident that all the expense was worth it. And that in 40 to 100 years all that nasty extra plant food will have been eaten up, saving us from the inundation, which also hasn’t happened yet.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 7, 2015

        So burning new wood (even if shipped round the world at huge expense) is good but burning old, local fossilised wood is somehow bad.

        These people are clearly bonkers and simply have no grasp of logic.

        Logically the government might just bury the new wood where it is grown and burn local coal or just build with the wood. Saving the transportation CO2. Result far less CO2 output (if you still believe in carbon catastrophic warming religion anyway that is).

  2. Liz
    August 7, 2015

    One of the great mysteries is why politicians chose to give away their own power – gradually reduciung the House of Commons to the level of a County Council – and then keep denying that they had done so.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      August 7, 2015

      Quite, why do they do this? Who is advising them.

      It perplexes me the same way that no Labour MPS ever stood up against Gordon Brown. What is happening behind the scenes

      1. agricola
        August 7, 2015

        Misbegotten party loyalty, a desire for a political career with promotion, and a contempt for the H o C and people.

        1. Mitchel
          August 7, 2015

          …or just the defeatist attitude that we are bust,finished as a nation and would be better off as part of someone else’s empire with the administrative class hoping that by dint of giving the country away they will have favoured position in the bureaucracy of the New World Order,like the Greeks enjoyed within the Roman Empire.These attitudes were prevalent before Mrs Thatcher revived the nation’s spirit. and seem to have re-surfaced.Also cast your mind back to an earlier era pre-EU and ask yourself why so many people from solid,privileged backgrounds wanted to betray us to the Soviet Union from the 1930s onwards.Is there something in the water?!

          1. agricola
            August 7, 2015

            Those that betrayed us had a blinkered understanding of communism as practised by Joe Stalin. Being generous, in it’s purest form it is Christianity , but as interpreted by JS it was totalitarianism, imperialism of the worst possible sort. Read George Orwell. Know us not by our titles but by our actions. Not George but me.

            Do not despair out there, we may have hit rock bottom, so the only way is up. We may need a revolution in thinking as to how it might be achieved, but so what. We have been there before, we are British, we show the way.

    2. Ian wragg
      August 7, 2015

      There is obviously some 5th column at work
      All the politicos of whatever shade are Bilderbergers or Common Purpose members. These organisations are World Government proponents and the EU is a major player. Pity the Brics won’t play especially Putin. God bless him.

      1. Mitchel
        August 7, 2015

        You know ,until fairly recently,I used to think all this stuff about Common Purpose,the Bilderberg group,etc was conspiracy theory nonsense like the illuminati.etc but I now believe there is just too much circumstantial evidence,too many co-incidences for it to be anything other than conspiracy fact.

        1. A different Simon
          August 7, 2015

          Mitchel ,

          Didn’t you listen to Mr Mandelson ?

          He did tell us we were entering the post-democratic era and now we are in it .

          The elites have become emboldened are throwing off their veils of secrecy and coming into the open .

          Look at the Spinelli group within the EU and their draft federal eu constitution .

          Look at the sudden drop in the price of oil and failure to recover .
          At the same time we’ve had the ramping up of the “divestment movement” and a saturation media campaign which has exaggerated the glut and of course exaggeration of the effect of lifting sanctions against Iran . Now Obama’s climate plan , Coincidence or coordinated ?

          These guys own every horse in the race .

          The authorities can demoralise the masses by getting their media to broadcasting a constant stream of bad news and lowering the quality of TV for a few months .

          Look at the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes . Family courts operating in complete secrecy , the end of habeas corpus , the EU arrest warrant .

          I suspect that the elites have been responsible for propagating false rumours besmirching dead prime ministers .

          I used to give serious credence to the stuff about Heath but now reckon he is innocent and is being used as a diversion while the elites get on with more nefarious things .

          1. Mitchel
            August 8, 2015

            I certainly did,A different Simon,and I remember being shocked at the lack of public/media outrage when Mandelson, in his pomp,informed us that the age of representative democracy was over.

    3. Timaction
      August 7, 2015

      This article is equally true for the Tories and Liberals. The ONLY party who tells the truth is UKIP. End of. The rest just lie.

      Reply This sounds like a lie itself!

    4. Graham
      August 7, 2015

      Because it gives them an easier life – status without real responsibility – and a rosy feeling of being part of history and the salary and pension is not bad either.

      If in doubt they can just blame the EU – not my fault gov’n.

  3. Narrow Shoulders
    August 7, 2015

    Those who will be intimidated into voting to stay in will not be swayed by what you write above. Many will vote for the status quo, fearful of the consequences of change. Inertia is a powerful state, as the Scottish Nationalists discovered.

    Those who would be convinced by your arguments as written above are mostly already in your camp.

    To convince enough of the rest we need to paint a picture of prosperity and peace outside of the EU, with little immediate change the day after and incremental improvements in our lives thereafter.

    ‘It’s the economy stupid’ still holds true.

    Reply I agree the prosperity argument is important and I will be making that again ere long!

    1. Richard1
      August 7, 2015

      This is certainly right. The argument for the Ins will not be how good it is to pool sovereignty, it will be there will be a loss of investment and jobs if the UK leaves the EU. That is the argument which will have to be countered.

    2. A different Simon
      August 7, 2015

      Narrow Shoulders ,

      Of the many reasons for asserting our sovereignty , for me the economy is way down the list .

      The country has been changed beyond recognition by such things as outcomes based education .

      Soon I will be dead and the current hell will be normal for the new generation .

      The people coming in as immigrants from the commonwealth or Malaysia and Singapore have more British characteristics than our political establishment .

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        August 7, 2015


        I agree but most votes will go with the economy.

        Immigrants would still be in Calais without our membership of the EU. We would still give money and shelter to those who get here without the EU.

        For out to win we must win on the economy.

    3. Mitchel
      August 7, 2015

      On the subject of the economy and presentation of deficit reduction figures,I have a question.I read yesterday that the government is expecting proceeds from asset disposals(Lloyds,RBS,Royal Mail,etc) to hit c£31.8bn this fiscal year (“more than the proceeds from every privatisation of the past two decades combined”).Will these be stripped out as non-recurring items or will they be included in the deficit figure Mr Osborne presents to us.A like-for-like figure would be useful as I would not like to see the Chancellor pass off one-off asset disposals (from a strictly finite stock) as the proceeds of sustainable growth.

      Reply They will be identified as privatisation proceeds so you can in interpret the deficit cum or ex the sales proceeds.

  4. agricola
    August 7, 2015

    Tell us something we have not worked out long ago. The EU is a disease akin to MS. Slow to start, debilitating in process and fatal at the end when all will to resist is ended.

    You and your like minded colleagues now need to get out on the road with Nigel and preach to the population at large.

    The opposition as epitomised by your leader have nothing to sell but smoke and mirrors, and they know it. They dare not say why they love the EU and have never been openly challenged to get up in the H o C and explain themselves. You have therefore all to play for and an undefended goal. As I have told you before, party loyalty is totally irrelevant in the current situation. Your diary is excellent, but only reaches the converted with the exception of one gentleman in Holland. The message is essential for all.

    PS My post on Cataluna should not have caused riots yesterday. What happened to it.

    Reply It was long and included allegations about the main political parties without evidence. I have now amended it.

    1. agricola
      August 7, 2015

      Reply to reply.

      Well John not half as long as some of the off piste contrbutions I read yesterday. Perhaps their distance from piste made them innocuous. For the last forty years corruption in political Spain has been a norm and does not excite anyone here apart from those trying to eliminate it.

      1. stred
        August 7, 2015

        This reminds me of my misguided effort to buy a house near Alicante about 15 years ago. Fortunately, I decided to visit the site, where construction had started. As a building professional I was surprised that the 9 inch party walls shown on the plans were being built using 2 inch hollow clay block. Some brickies saw me and asked ‘Gringo’ what he was doing. I called at the developer’s office and said I would only go ahead if I could have 9 inch concrete blocks and I would pay the difference in material cost, which would not be much. When I got back to the UK, the agent phoned and told me that my name had been taken and I had been, fortunately, blacklisted from buying anywhere in Spain. The sales office here, though run by a British surveyor told me not to be so bloody stupid- ‘that’s the way they do it out there’, while continuing to hand out brochures showing 9 inch walls.

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    August 7, 2015

    In the Netherlands we have lots of self-government! Most of it nicely fits with opinions in other EU states. Even when the EC asked us to bring our deficit down to under 3%, it was an objective that the Dutch government wanted for its own reasons. And soon enough the deficit was below 3%. A bit of peer pressure does no harm, as we apply peer pressure on countries like France.
    Do most of the laws come from Brussels? Of course not, it is just an eternal UK myth. But, for some independent advice, why not go to the independent (from any MP) House of Commons library, which found that the real proportion is just 13.2% of UK laws. And these figures include everything that even mentions the EU, even if it’s just a “passing reference” or a definition!

    The House of Commons Library is an independent, politically neutral research unit based in Westminster which provides factual data to MPs. As it has no campaigning role and is not funded by any organisation with a political agenda, its data is probably about the best you can hope to get. (For the real eurosceptic believers, please don’t visit the sites which debunk EU myths 🙂 )

    Reply Why can’t you just accept many of us do not want to be part of this wild ride to political union? I don’t lecture the Netherlands on whether they should be in or out, so why do you want to lecture us on how we should think and feel, about these matters?

    1. Michael Walzer
      August 7, 2015

      Ha ha, the sly fox has been taken out of his burrow. It is pure and simple nationalism. It has nothing to do with the economy, as clearly nobody knows how to make reliable economic forecasts for more than a few weeks/months in advance, the whole thing is you do not want to be part of this political union. You much prefer your U.S. friends, or your past Commonwealth ones, specially those of a neoliberal blue tint.

      That is your perfect right, but you would save yourself quite a bit of energy simply saying so, not trying to advise the Greeks, chastise the Germans, condemn the French and despair of the Italians or the Catalans.

      Anyway one thing you can be sure of, you will continue to have an avid public for all your pronouncements.

    2. forthurst
      August 7, 2015

      “And [13.2% of UK laws] include everything that even mentions the EU, even if it’s just a “passing reference” or a definition!”

      Oh dear! Another straw man argument from PvL: if every English law originating from the EU contained explicit references to that fact, even JR’s least well-informed constituent might be less surprised by being told that JR’s only remedy for his constituent’s concern was to either promote the change of EU laws or treaties or leave.

    3. Peter van Leeuwen
      August 7, 2015

      Reply to reply: Mr Redwood, I’m quite ok with staying away from this blog if that is what you would prefer. I thought that it would liven up the discussion a little if sometimes some different views are given space in this area, which already has so very many people agreeing with one another. I’m quite impressed that I have been given the chance at all to air my views (just one retired Dutchman with a large British family living in the UK). I will go offline again some three months before the actual referendum (just out of respect and not because anybody would advise me to do so). If you prefer me to stop earlier, I will do so, maybe after one last chance to explain why as a Dutchman I would like the UK to stay closely connected to the EU (i.e. stay an EU member).

      Reply I have no wish to drive you away, but you need to understand that many of us do not wish to be lectured on why we need to stay in the EU and will hit back from time to time. it would be more useful if you explained to us the political rows and pressures in the Netherlands generated by the Euro, Greece, Germany etc

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 9, 2015

        Reply to reply: Interestingly, whatever I may have written on occasion, in the contribution above, I only write how things are done and perceived in the Netherlands (the 3% deficit), plus with one common EU myth (source: House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 07092 of 10 June 2015). I will write on what you suggest, but if I see clear EU defamation, I might find it difficult to shut up, whether or not published in this blog.

    4. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      The House of Commons Library report actually found that about half of our new laws are imposed by the EU, including the numerous laws classed as regulations which have direct effect and automatically become law in this country without any need to go anywhere near Parliament. Plus there are the other legal changes made necessary by ECJ judgements. On top of which there are many other cases where our law has been heavily influenced by EU policies, even if not determined in a legally binding way.

      But I’m sure that you already knew all that, Peter, just as (the misleading ed) Clegg knew it when he came out with his “7%” claim.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 9, 2015

        @Denis Cooper:
        I suggest that people read the document for themselves:
        House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 07092 of 10 June 2015

        1. Denis Cooper
          August 9, 2015

          You mean this report:

          which is entitled:

          “EU obligations: UK implementing legislation since 1993”

          and which specifically says:

          “These figures do not take account of EU regulations, which are implemented across all EU member states, usually without further national implementing measures.”

          Article 288 TFEU:

          “To exercise the Union’s competences, the institutions shall adopt regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions.

          A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

          A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.

          A decision shall be binding in its entirety. A decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed shall be binding only on them.

          Recommendations and opinions shall have no binding force.”

  6. nigel
    August 7, 2015

    When are we going to see a coordinated and united No campaign? It is all very well to write excellent articles outlining the reality of the situation, but to win the upcoming vote, a full blown political style campaign is needed.
    I see no sign of that appearing.

    Reply One is being prepared.

    1. JoeSoap
      August 7, 2015

      Reply to reply
      Which is odd because none of us knows what we are voting yes or no to. Or have I missed something?

    2. Denis Cooper
      August 7, 2015

      You can sign up to support Better Off Out:

      I don’t think I’m giving away any secret information by reproducing this from an email:

      “As previously advised, we are launching our EU Referendum Campaign in September and October. I am writing to invite you to attend a Regional Strategy Meeting to launch the campaign and to discuss the way ahead in your region.

      The draft Schedule for these meetings is set out below … “

    3. agricola
      August 7, 2015

      Reply to Reply.

      You need a website and an inter active forum.

      It must include Kate Hoey and Labour sympathisers, Nigel and UKIP, and your 100. It absolutely must be united, no room for party politics. Start to realise how much you have in common. Recognise and understand the enemy and then go for his jugular.

      As a cohesive group you will get more media coverage. Even the BBC may have to throw up over their doctrinal gruel. You need a good agency to sell the message and to find internet routes to spread the message to every person with a receptor.

      Get out there and Kill.

      1. agricola
        August 8, 2015

        In the interim, if you desire a united opposition to the EU, you might spike Lynton Crosby’s guns in his war against UKIP. Is it post Ashes withdrawal symptoms.

  7. Peter A
    August 7, 2015

    Sorry, off topic but Who sanctioned this abuse of the liscence fee?

    1. Cheshire Girl
      August 7, 2015

      Songs of Praise has been ‘watered down’ for some time now. The times of the programme seem to change a lot if there is a programme that is deemed more important. A year or two ago the BBC were planning to axe it altogether but there was an unexpected outcry so they decided to let it continue. I have no doubt that it will be withdrawn at some time in the future, probably sooner rather than later!

    2. Boudicca
      August 7, 2015

      The BBC is a law unto itself. It is pro-immigration; pro-EU and doesn’t give two hoots for the opinions of the licence-fee paying British citizen.

    3. Richard1
      August 7, 2015

      In the interest of balance I suggest Jeremy Clarkson be invited to guest edit an episode of Songs of Praise.

  8. A.Sedgwick
    August 7, 2015

    Whatever Messrs Cameron and Osborne cobble together with their EU counterparts there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of their recommending out. The Greek and immigration tragedies are probably helping the out vote but it needs leadership which in my view means Europhobe MPs giving up their Party whips and campaigning vigorously against the shallow renegotiation ploy.

    Reply There is no whip imposed on Conservatives re the referendum!

    1. Duyfken
      August 7, 2015

      But will those Tory MPs with government positions, and those who still live in hope, be given the freedom and have the guts to campaign for a “NO” vote?

      1. Mitchel
        August 7, 2015

        I’m sure that when it comes down to it many so-called Eurosceptics will be as snowflakes on a hot tin roof.

    2. A.Sedgwick
      August 7, 2015

      Regrettably you miss the point – Messrs Cameron and Osborne appear intent to achieve a stay in vote even on the flimsiest of terms. Their endorsements will attract a fair percentage of votes. Along with rule bending the odds are weighted for an in vote and the out vote needs leadership not pussyfooting around waiting for the stitchup to unfold. Out MPs from any Party should resign their Whips, become independent for a campaign of seriously national importance that should start now, otherwise the weight of the EU, CBI and others will overwhelm a fragmented, esoteric opposition.

      Reply It is you who miss the point. All Conservative backbench MPs are free to campaign on either side so there is no need to resign the whip! No has won in the grammar school, PR, NE Assembly and Scottish referenda.

      1. forthurst
        August 7, 2015

        Reply to Reply: the case for self-government would be much stronger if we had a truly representative legislature; AV is not PR or anything like it. It is conceivably worse than FPTP. We need parties which are immune to capture by special interest groups.

    3. agricola
      August 7, 2015

      Reply to reply.

      Does no whip apply to the 200 or so who are ministers or lower grades on the payroll.

      Reply Not yet decided as we do not yet know what we are voting on.

  9. Mike Stallard
    August 7, 2015

    I honestly do not think that anyone cares much about where our electricity comes from or who is in charge of it. I do not think they care who regulates our fishing industry or our farmers. Do you?
    But they seem to care very deeply indeed about immigration which can be laid firmly and squarely at the EU door. Why? The EUReferendum blog has a superb master class in the modern law which, it seems, discriminates between genuine “asylum seekers” and joy riders/economic migrants. There is a law dating right back to 1951 that is still the basis.The Dublin accord muddies the wars somewhat.
    It all needs seriously reforming by a court of law – Whoops! I forgot, that is now in the EU and we have no control even over changing it.
    Meanwhile immigrants flood in to our country on a scale which can only be compared to the Texan settlers taking over the South West, to the Vikings taking over Eastern England and to the Anglo-Saxons taking over Britannia from the Romans.
    And we are powerless.
    That hurts.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      The 1951 UN Convention was specifically designed to deal just with the aftermath of the war and just in Europe. It was the 1967 Protocol which removed those two limitations. Both actually make provision for any country to withdraw after giving a year’s notice; so in principle we could do that and we would only be exercising an expressly recognised treaty right. However under Article 78 TFEU the EU common policy “must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees, and other relevant treaties”, and I’m unsure whether we’re exempt from that.

  10. Edward2
    August 7, 2015

    Had all these transfer of powers from nation states to the EU led to low unemployment and rapidly rising standards of living for all, then much of the opposition to membership would not exist.
    But in moving quietly from a common market to a european economic community to the EU it seems to have forgotten and failed in its original purpose.
    Its citizens are suffering and Europe’s share of world trade is declining.
    It deserves to fail and will fail, I believe, if it cannot succeed in its original economic ideals.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 7, 2015

      But the original purpose was to establish a pan-European federation, and its supporters have been consistently working towards that end destination.

      “Europe Day” is May 9th, why?

      “Europe Day held on 9 May every year celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman declaration’. At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.

      His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.”

      And what did Schuman say in that Declaration?

      “The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe … ”

      “… this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.”

      It may be recalled that the EU Constitution had an article on “The symbols of the Union”, which Merkel omitted as too provocative when she had almost all the legal contents of the Constitution decanted into her “Reform Treaty”, which was later renamed as the Lisbon Treaty, and yet there is a Declaration 52 attached to the Lisbon Treaty through which a number of member states strove to reinstate them, albeit on a non-binding basis:

      “Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic declare that the flag with a circle of twelve golden stars on a blue background, the anthem based on the “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, the motto “United in diversity”, the euro as the currency of the European Union and Europe Day on 9 May will for them continue as symbols to express the sense of community of the people in the European Union and their allegiance to it.”

  11. Nick
    August 7, 2015

    “UK voters believe they live in a country where public opinion can influence and change a government’s mind and the law, or can lead to a change of government to one who will. This is no longer true in all too many areas of life and law.”

    I happened to see an old Question Time clip yesterday where this assertion (that uk law was largely made by the EU) was raised and roundly condemned by most of the panel and an unbelieving audience.

    If you wish for the voters of the UK to understand this you need to provide specific examples (and have full details to hand) to counteract the existing lack of knowledge.

    I am afraid general waffle about law and lives can only play into the hands of the EU as it is far too vague for most voters and is easily countered by the opposite assertion that the EU rules are good.

    1. Martyn G
      August 7, 2015

      I do so agree, Nick. People just do not look at legislation enacted by Parliament and thus do not see that most Acts, at the beginning, identifies that it is being enacted in accordance with an EU convention or protocol – often both are mentioned. Take the FoI Act for example, it makes it quite clear that this is so and also that in cannot be amended by the UK Parliament unless it still conforms a convention or particular protocol. I wish there was a way to get this across to the people, but that will never happen with the present government – or any other come to that.

  12. Iain Gill
    August 7, 2015

    One of the big underlying causes of the various issues we have is the poor quality of the people infesting our political class, and the senior ranks of the public sector. Until that is addressed we will continue to bounce around aimlessly along the group think channels towards disaster.

  13. acorn
    August 7, 2015

    This EU bashing is all getting a bit boring/samey; and frankly, I think it is a toss-up which, so called, democratic system is the worst, the EU or the well passed its sell-by date UK version.

    From the little peoples point-of-view, your statement, “… UK voters believe they live in a country where public opinion can influence and change a government’s mind and the law, or can lead to a change of government to one who will”, rarely yields anything that isn’t a form of authoritarianism, in various shades of red and blue.

    We get to vote every five years for someone that some small clique chose for us. We then get an elected dictatorship for five years, that changes things they never told us they were going to change; and, doesn’t change the things they said they were going to change. We haven’t got recall powers or citizen initiative referenda, or any power to dislodge the metropolitan elite at anytime.

    Anyway. Super Thursday at the BoE was mostly a “there are known knowns / there are known unknowns” type speech. But there was a little gem. The MPC decided to re-invest the £16.9 billion it will get from redemption of September Treasury Gilt in the APF, for more Treasury Gilt. Nothing wrong with that, the private sector does it every day. When the public sector does it it is daft.

    The UK Treasury and the BoE are one and the same. The Treasury admits this fact in its own WGA (Whole of Government Accounts). So the Treasury sells a Gilt, paid for by fiat money (reserves) the Treasury had previously spent into existence. The BoE swapped it back for those reserves, with the private sector holder of the Gilt. The BoE converted the Gilt back into the “reserves” that had previously been used to buy the Gilt. Call it QE if done in large lumps.

    So the Treasury issued a Gilt, which it ended up owning itself, via its own Bank. It paid itself interest while the Gilt was alive and paid itself back with its own new money (reserves), when it redeemed it.

    Now, there is £375 bn in cash reserves and £80 billion (last 4Q) of deficit spending power, in the private sector. Ten years ago that would have pushed inflation through the roof; we have got zero inflation.

    So please tell me why the media is currently hysterical about BoE interest rate rises???

    Answers on a post-card to Rt Hon John Redwood MP. 😉

    1. Mitchel
      August 8, 2015

      Acorn,the inflation went into asset values rather than consumer prices.

    2. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      “The UK Treasury and the BoE are one and the same.”

      If that was true then I doubt that there would be Acts of Parliament governing the relations between the two.

      It would be absurd to pass an Act saying that X may give directions to X with respect to some things but not with respect to some other things, that is unless Parliament has agreed that circumstances are exceptional so for a time X will be allowed to tell X what to do.

    3. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      “Ten years ago that would have pushed inflation through the roof; we have got zero inflation.”

      We have had more or less zero consumer price inflation over just the past year, but before that during and immediately after the two episodes of QE we did not have zero consumer price inflation, instead we had consumer price inflation exceeding the 2% CPI target for four whole years, month after month from December 2009 to December 2013, and cumulatively the £375 billion of QE added something like 6% or 8% to CPI.

      As commented previously, in January:

      “When I looked at the cumulative change in CPI over that period I found that it had exceeded the 2% pa target by a total of 6.2%, that was an empirical fact. The theoretical study by the Bank concluded that the first £200 billion of QE had caused excess inflation, and extrapolating their estimate of the effect to the full £375 billion I found that it would be an addition of 7.9% to CPI. 6.2% empirically or 7.9% theoretically are really much the same thing, and either way there is no doubt that at the levels adopted QE did more than just counter the supposed threat of deflation as originally advertised, there was overkill and it actually caused excess inflation. Not a huge amount, by no means the hyperinflation that some originally feared would ensue, but enough to hurt when incomes were not keeping up.”

    4. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      There are times when you bring me close to despair …

      You start with:

      “This EU bashing is all getting a bit boring/samey; and frankly, I think it is a toss-up which, so called, democratic system is the worst, the EU or the well passed its sell-by date UK version.”

      and then you go on to criticise what JR called the “money-go-round” QE method that the UK used PRECISELY BECAUSE THE ALTERNATIVES WERE RULED OUT BY THE BORING OLD EU UNDER ITS TREATIES.

      It is now August 2015, more than six years since the spring of 2009 when I first pointed out Article 123 TFEU in the EU treaties, if you like you can check it for yourself here:

      “Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the European Central Bank or with the central banks of the Member States (hereinafter referred to as “national central banks”) in favour of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the European Central Bank or national central banks of debt instruments.”

      I don’t know exactly how long you have been reading this blog and offering your comments but it will certainly be for a good part of those six years, and yet you still haven’t grasped that the only permissible route under the EU treaties was for the Treasury to issue new gilts to private investors while in parallel the Bank bought up gilts from private investors in the secondary market.

      Which of course is what the ECB also started to do later with the bonds issued by the governments of the distressed eurozone states, which they bought indirectly rather than “directly” in contravention of Article 123 TFEU.

  14. Kenneth
    August 7, 2015

    As time has passed, my MP’s ability to represent me has diminished. I am being disenfranchised.

    What is scary is that my moderate MP is gradually being replaced by an extremist organisation with very little accountability.

    This is very dangerous.

    1. DaveM
      August 7, 2015

      I agree. I voted for a party which I thought would represent my views on important issues like immigration, border control, fairness for England, less (or even better NO) EU, and so on.

      I feel as if I – and my fellow constituents – could write a thousand letters to my MP (who is a Conservative) and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference. Likewise everyone in the country could do the same.

      I don’t blame the EU for this though. They are not secretive about their wish to bring hundreds and thousands of immigrants to Europe. Neither are they secretive about their commitment to open borders, freedom of movement, redistribution of wealth, the ambition of a common foreign policy, and ever closer union.

      The EU may be responsible for the introduction of these policies, but none of them would apply in the UK if it hadn’t been for our politicians allowing them to be applied.

      To me, the blame lies at the feet of an incompetent and dictatorial PM who has a pro-EU agenda which he refuses to explain. But it also lies at the feet of the other members of his party – parliamentary and otherwise – who will do nothing to enforce the Conservative values which people voted for. I hope CMD does something to change my mind on this, but I’m really not hopeful. As I have implied, I believe he would ignore a million letters and the protests of all his party members if the views expressed didn’t agree with his own, or if it threatened whatever mysterious agenda he is pursuing.

      Excellent article in the Coffee House about Calais and the PM’s failings.

    August 7, 2015

    I know it may not seem plausible now JR, but it could be the British will eventually extricate themselves from the EU plus other political vortexes and choose not to hand back power to Parliament. Why should they?

    Both of the leading political parties in the UK and the whole establishment of media, celebrities, and Local Authorities encouraged, promoted and settled people in our country without any recourse to public approval and permission.

    Our people were openly called racists for the slightest opposition. Our very language,our English language, was deliberately altered on the grounds of political correctness ( even classics of English literature ) to stop anyone except the highly literate from being able to express so much as an elliptical comment about our plight .

    And now, increasing numbers of that self-same Establishment have discovered they may just have made a mistake about the EU, oh phooey! They have recently allowed into the narrative both figurative and linguistic,- previously “despicable” right-wing elements. The real Left too with its possible Eurosceptics is seeing a new lease of life.

    Parliament as an institution does not deserve to regain power. It gave it away.

    Who knows what may take Parliament’s place. Another but modern Parliament which must be based far away from Westminster with the ditching of the House of Lords in its entirety of course? Well that would be the most agreeable outcome but thanks to our present Parliament it may be generations before such a model is even suggested again.

    What should be done with all the ceremonial gowns, tights, garters, maces and wigs? Well they could be placed on manikins in the Houses of Parliament as a museum …with a rota, to make it look realistic, of 10 or 12 different dummy MPs per day placed on benches for the cameras of visiting American tourists.

    1. Kenneth
      August 7, 2015

      If the referendum returns a YES, MPs should take a pay cut as a lot of their responsibility and workload will move abroad

    2. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      I think you have to distinguish between Parliament as an institution and the members we elected to it under the guidance of the political parties. I would suggest that it is the old political parties which need replacing, but of course those leading them will do whatever they can to prevent that.

  16. Bert Young
    August 7, 2015

    From all angles and detail , our relationship with EU is wrong . Top of the list is loss of sovereignity . The threatened June date is not far away when a decision can be reached and what is needed now is a well-known and respected figure to lead the “No” campaign .

    Yesterday the press pin-pointed Boris Johnson as a likely candidate , I do not consider him to be the right choice . For all his intelligence and wit , Boris will always be regarded as a “fun” figure . It requires someone of stature whose views have always been eurosceptic and has not wavered in his judgement . Boris does not fit that test .

    I would like a combination of Norman Tebbit , Nigel Lawson and John Redwood to get together and decide who to push for . An initiative of this sort is required to put the ball in motion . Time passes very quickly .

  17. Denis Cooper
    August 7, 2015

    If you gave a Martian visitor a book chronicling the development of the EEC/EC/EU project since the Second World War, and highlighting the UK’s involvement with it, then unless you provided information about which political party or parties controlled the government of the UK at each point then I doubt he would be able to work that out for himself with any accuracy. It is not strictly true that all the old parties are the same in this regard because there have always been and there still are differences, but they are differences which have evolved over the years so that parties have even exchanged their previous public positions in order to gain party political advantage. At the heart of it is a loss of confidence in our ability to survive and flourish as an independent nation in the world and a weakened commitment to our national sovereignty and democracy, in fact so weakened that now when they are given the opportunity to vote on it only a very small minority of our elected MPs are prepared to defy their party whips and vote in favour of the continuing legal supremacy of their own Parliament, our national Parliament which is supposed to be the representative of the British people.

    1. A different Simon
      August 7, 2015

      Denis Cooper ,

      Do you think the Martian would be able to work out from the information on your list which side won the Second World War ?

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 8, 2015

        Good question!

  18. Atlas
    August 7, 2015

    One only has to watch the re-runs of Yes Minister presently on BBC 2 TV to realise that not a lot has changed over the intervening years. Thinking on it, then “exit from the EU” has to be presented in a way that a latter-day Jim Hacker would take it up as a vote-winner. Jim would also have to succeed in overcoming Sir Humphrey’s pro-EU machinations…

  19. Paul Cohen
    August 7, 2015

    An EU law seems to be a trojan horse, spawning various directives which seemingly cannot be resisted or rejected, causing further paralysis and more frustration to National Governments. This is no way to run a country.

    Gone it seems the Churchillian “Action this day” ability!

  20. Denis Cooper
    August 7, 2015

    Off-topic, the Danes are to have a referendum on whether to relinquish their opt-out from the EU Common Defence and Security Policy:

    “The government wants to end the defence opt-out. It was also the recommendation of the latest defence committee that we join in”

    ” … it would take place shortly after another planned referendum on ending Denmark’s exemption from EU justice rules.”

    I’m reminded of that rather cryptic, apparently paradoxical, comment from Margot Wallstrom back in 2007 when she was an EU Commission Vice-President:

    “An opt-out is also an opt-in”

    By which she meant that if it was necessary to give a member state a temporary opt-out in order to get something enshrined in the EU treaties and established as the EU norm then that could be done, on the assumption that sooner or later either the politicians of that country would see sense and “join in”, or maybe as in this case they could choose a moment when they might be able to get it past the electorate in a referendum.

    1. atlas
      August 8, 2015

      Denis – an illuminating observation. The Salami slicing method of control creep ?

    2. Mitchel
      August 8, 2015

      Stand by for a rash of scare stories about Russian submarines off Jutland.

  21. lojolondon
    August 7, 2015

    John, everything you say is true, yet it neglects the hideous power of the EU – subverting our elected representatives with financial and power sweetners. I have no doubt that Tony Blair “gave away” powers because demonstrating that he was a “good European” was fundamental to his attempt to become President of Europe. He surely impressed the EU with his total commitment to their programme, and total lack of concern about all the negative effects of his decisions on the UK. These people really do envisage a fully developed EUSSR, and see themselves on the inside, gaining power for themselves and for their families for generations.

  22. forthurst
    August 7, 2015

    “I find in replying to constituents that they are often surprised to be told that something cannot be done here in the UK, or requires a change of European law.”

    To repeat, the latest Ipsos Mori poll shows that 31% would like our relationship “remaining broadly the same”; this figure may include a very significant number of those who, like JR’s constituents, have been deliberately mislead by successive governments and the BBC as to the extent to which the EU rules our lives.

    Meanwhile the same poll shows that 46% would either like to ‘return’ to membership of an economic community without political links or leave altogether; only 14% want to give total control of our country to the EU superstate:

    The EU not having political influence means we would recover our own borders, our Agriculture and Fisheries and our lawmaking; consequently, we would revoke memberships of all EU political bodies and we would become an independent state like many others with a free trade agreement with the EU:

    The idea that the EU would want to jeopardise free trade with us, which is very substantially in their favour, whilst hanging onto deals with much smaller economies is preposterous.

    The Ipsos Mori poll shows that there is a potential majority of the population who would vote ‘No’, once they have been fully informed of the facts, which means all Eurosceptic politicans must hit the ground running in the Autumn unless they are so deluded as to believe CMD might, remotely possibly, deliver anything approaching a free trade deal after his ‘renegotiation’.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      Bearing in mind that opinion polls are unreliable, as amply demonstrated over the past year, it seems that a significant number of voters have swallowed the line that Cameron will be able to return us to being part of an economic community without political links, and that would partly account for the significant decline in the number thinking that it is necessary to leave altogether.

      However I suspect that another factor may have been the orchestrated campaign of smearmongering and scaremongering against the party which has withdrawal from the EU as its primary objective.

      Reply I have withdrawn references to a libel against UKIP as I do not myself wish to help repeat libels even if to refute them.

  23. alan jutson
    August 7, 2015

    ‘Each time we were told it was a tidy up”

    Surely John we can now say, it was a stitch up and a clear out.

    What will they impose next given the extensive powers we have already transferred.

  24. francis
    August 7, 2015


    As far back as March 1997 the Council of Europe was highly critical of the UK concerning Scottish and Welsh self government, the rule of law and human rights.

    How is that we still have the same problem – no English Parliament but that somehow is OK?

    Please could you contact Teresa Gorman over her January 1998 ‘English Parliament (Referndum) Bill’ We need that now.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    August 7, 2015

    There’s one simple way to demonstrate how much power has been lost:
    – List the areas of EU competence under the Single European Act
    – List the areas of EU competence under the Lisbon Treaty
    – Highlight the differences

  26. Richard1
    August 7, 2015

    I think it would be useful at some point to set out specifically which EU imposed directives regulations and laws are objectionable. One defence by the Ins against the first argument above is that many such EU rules are good and we would have to have them anyway.

  27. Boudicca
    August 7, 2015

    Yes, Labour gave away far too much power with the Lisbon Treaty – with no mandate to do so.

    But the Party of Original Sin was the Conservative Party, by taking us into the EEC in the first place. Heath deliberately and cynically lied about the consequences. Mrs Thatcher advanced the process with the Single Market and Major committed another betrayal with the Maastricht Treaty, again with no mandate.

    The Conservative Party STILL refuses to get us out.

    We do not need to be in a political union to trade with the EU. We don’t even need to be in the EU to be in the Single Market. We could, if we chose, trade with the EU from outside both.

    We cannot remain in the EU and operate as a self-governing Democracy.

    There is no renegotiation of MEMBERSHIP which is acceptable to me. I do not want the UK to be under the control of the EU at all.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 8, 2015

      As far as I’m concerned the reforms of the EU would have to be so radical that it would no longer be recognisable as anything like the present EU. Not a little bit of tinkering here and there with secondary legislation which later proved to be no more than temporary and in any case largely ineffective expedients, and not a worthless non-binding political declaration that the member states and EU institutions were no longer so totally committed to the paramount objective of “ever closer union” despite that still being prescribed by the legally binding treaties so that the lawyers on the ECJ still took it as their guiding principle when they were handing down their final, unchallengeable judgements, as helpfully suggested by a French lawyer last May.

      However while that is my unshakeable conviction I fear that too few people will see it in that light to win the referendum when most the mass media and a wide range of pro-EU, often EU-funded, bodies will be working together to actively help Cameron pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate.

      1. Graham Wood
        August 8, 2015

        Dennis “As far as I’m concerned the reforms of the EU would have to be so radical that it would no longer be recognisable as anything like the present EU”
        Indeed so, and because of this I suggest that there will be no actual “reform” in DC’s negotiation agenda which as increasingly recognised will amount to northing more than superficial changes to some peripheral and relatively unimportant aspects of EU law – mainly to do with benefits to incoming EU migrants.
        As I have already suggested on this and other blogs there is only one realistic solution which cuts the Gordian knot of the “legality” of all EU law.
        It is a solution I believe all eurosceptics, and not least those within the Conservative party, must aim for, namely to amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that Parliament can monitor, and if necessary reject, all EU law not deemed as being in the national interest. That would in effect restore in great measure the sovereignty of parliament and the people, break EU law making power, and restore in great measure our lost democratic process. It really is simple, and once the decision is taken then the unravelling of the EU law jungle can take place progressively until the point is reached when we repeal the Act in its entirety.
        This would be electorally very popular.
        For a start the £19 Billion estimated EU cost to the Exchequer of our membership can be returned to the British taxpayer and immediately re-diverted to benefit the British economy.
        Mr R and sympathetic ‘outers’ on the back benches need to explain why this policy cannot be pursued as an objective to aim for irrespective of any referendum.
        One rider: Our supreme Court must be give status and authority over all other courts, including of course the ECJ. Time for decision making by our MPs, as opposed to the continuing theorising as to the best course of action.

        Reply Mr R and Mr C proposed this and voted for it in the Commons!

  28. bigneil
    August 7, 2015

    off topic – – -Having read of soldiers who are waiting months for help after returning from service with limbs blown off – – isn’t something drastically wrong when we also read of illegals having just got here, no ID papers, being placed in flats ( ahead of English people) and having benefits and entitled to healthcare instantly, walking our streets in freedom?
    The people who are being rewarded could well be the very people who blew the soldiers legs off, yet they are treated better. – shows who is more important to the govt.

  29. bigneil
    August 7, 2015

    off topic – -how much of the money “saved” in benefit cuts – is now going to fund all the immigrants coming here – legally or illegally? – with the reported numbers coming through Greece and others crossing the Med – many aiming for their taxpayer funded heaven on this island – all wanting a house, free never-to-be-contributed-to unlimited NHS, benefit cash and eventually a pension.
    Totally unsustainable madness. etc ed

  30. MPC
    August 7, 2015

    Thank you for this post Mr Redwood, it brings home the range of EU influence over the UK – about which many people are still unaware. As a way of strengthening the referendum case for proper renegotiation/withdrawal, could I suggest that there is solid, verifiable research on compliance costs across all affected sectors and industries? I’ve mentioned this before. When there is wider awareness of not only the many areas where we have lost our sovereignty but also the huge cost of both EU membership and compliance, I think many people will be shocked and start questioning the ‘tyranny of the status quo’.

  31. bluedog
    August 8, 2015

    The underlying problem (pun unintended) is the quality of so many in the legislature. If more MPs were capable of the independent analysis of our blog host we would not have been lead into servitude.

    Taking a long view, we were on the winning side in WW2 as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately our principal democratic ally was also determined to emerge as an unrivalled hegemon at the end of the conflict. Throughout the wartime alliance, a powerful and not unreasonable strand of opinion in the US held that GIs should not die to save the British Empire. Indeed, the US was unquestionably the diplomatic enemy of the British Empire and its importance as the basis of British power. For eleven years between 1945 and Suez in 1956 this truth was occluded.

    To some of the generation in power after Suez, Europe beckoned as an alternative once it had been decided that maintaining our old position was no longer viable in the face of US opposition. But now, having been stripped of our global power by the US, we are being stripped of our identity and sovereignty by another diplomatic enemy, the EU. It really is time we regained the self-confidence we once had and ended this fatal preference for dependency.

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