That Boston tea party moment

Too few people in the UK understand just what vast powers the EU already holds over us and the UK government. More begin to understand the power they hold over our borders and welfare policies. This week in Parliament MP s highlighted the growing grip over taxation.

MPs want to get rid of VAT on tampons, as these are necessities for many women. The UK Parliament cannot do this, as the EU controls this and many matters related to VAT.

The government in the debate promised to lobby the EU about the tax, as they are not masters in their own Treasury and need the agreement of the other 27 countries and the Commission to alter this.

When Britain foolishly imposed duties on the American colony that the taxpayers did not accept it triggered a rejection of British authority over those territories. Let us hope that as more people come to see the high costs of the EU and tus unpopular use of wide ranging powers they will also wish to restore our democracy.

I wonder if the EU will give in on this matter, given their wish to keep us in paying their bills and obeying their laws.


  1. matthu
    October 29, 2015

    Let us hope that as more people come to see the high costs of the EU and its unpopular use of wide ranging powers they will also wish to restore our democracy.

    Unfortunately this is exactly why the mainstream media appear to have deliberately framed this as a feminist issue thereby deliberately concealing the much more important issue of EU control over UK taxation.

    Or worse, they frame the debate in parliament as being about whether the government should remove the tampon tax (as if they had any power to do this).

    So we have the Independent: Politicians voted against removing the so called ‘tampon tax’ currently levied on female sanitary products on Monday.

    The Telegraph: The baffling tax on tampons is perfect proof of what happens when women are absent from the top table, writes Emma Barnett.

    The BBC headline MPs have voted against a move to compel the government to cut tax on sanitary products, dubbed the “tampon tax” by campaigners.

    although the BBC do actually partially redeem themselves by reporting the true situation lower down (which fewer people would read): The Finance Bill amendment, which would have forced a negotiation with the EU for a reduction in the 5% VAT rate, was rejected by 305 to 287 votes.

    Reply I did not myself vote against, but those who did point out the government backed the proposal to try to negotiate vat change so the vote became unimportant to the policy outcome

    1. waramess
      October 29, 2015

      Not good enough then. Surely if the vote was unimportant then the MP’s concerned should have voted where their sympathies lie and not the opposite. Very odd and how much more media friendly to have done so.

    2. Denis Cooper
      October 29, 2015

      “After entry there would be a major responsibility on HMG and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community.”

      1. Timaction
        October 29, 2015

        FCO 30/1048 from 1971. Agreed by all legacy parties.

      2. APL
        October 29, 2015

        Denis Cooper: “After entry there would be a major responsibility on HMG and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community.”

        Timeaction: “FCO 30/1048 from 1971. Agreed by all legacy parties.”

        So when not that long ago, on this very blog it was put forward that by mutual consent the main parties prefer not to discuss the EU ‘on the doorstep’. It wasn’t just wild paranoia, it was fact.

        One could be forgiven for thinking the UK population have been utterly and comprehensively betrayed by the political class.

        1. Timaction
          October 30, 2015

          They were. Our host was not responsible but he knows the levels of dishonesty our legacy party leaders have gone to betray the British people. That’s why they can never campaign for what they really want. A United States Of Europe as the people don’t want it!

          So we get FUD. Fear, uncertainty and deception!

          There are NO benefits from the EU!

          1. APL
            October 31, 2015

            Timeaction: “Our host was not responsible but he knows the levels of dishonesty .. ”

            And hasn’t denounced it, rather condoned it. After all he supports the (Not) conservative party.

            He is complicit.

  2. Narrow Shoulders
    October 29, 2015

    Timmermans countered yesterday that the UK had not requested an exclusion and that politicians liked to blame the EU for bureaucracy of their own making.

    The UK should not have to ask permission to adopt laws, rules or conventions within its own borders but while we do have to, as a result of being in this expensive club that invites everyone to share the clubhouse facilities at members’ expense, why have we not applied for dispensation?

    Are our politicians too obsequious?

    1. Henry Rogers
      October 29, 2015

      How much freedom of action do they actually have? We have seen elected EU governments and their PMs ‘replaced’ or forced to do what they are told. Recent events in Portugal are ‘interesting’ to say the least. The fall of the then Mrs Thatcher wasn’t entirely EU related but wasn’t entirely distinct from it either.

      Could any UK PM with a narrow Commons majority, a potentially hostile Lords and largely pro-EU broadcasters survive if at this point he or she started showing signs of being ‘unhelpful’ to the EU?

  3. matthu
    October 29, 2015

    Rather paradoxically, the BBC even argues that if the VAT on tampons were removed, the cost might actually go up!

    “There is an argument to make them [tampons] exempt on the provision that healthcare is exempt,” he says. But he adds that there are drawbacks to removing VAT because it’s a positive rate. “By that I mean that when a business makes an item that is zero-rated it can recover the VAT of some of the associated costs of production.

    “The manufacturers making an exempt supply wouldn’t be able to recover any of the manufacturing costs or the advertising costs. The cost could go up for the consumer.”

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      October 29, 2015

      I was under the impression the argument was about reducing the rate below 5% not making it exempt.

      Unsurprisingly the BBC appears to have raised a strawman

    2. Know-Dice
      October 29, 2015

      I don’t think the BBC are right abut this.

      Surely manufacturers would claim back the input VAT on the raw materials. Could be that exemption would only be applied at final retail sale as well.

      Any VAT experts here?

      1. Ian wragg
        October 29, 2015

        Using that logic we should increase the tax to 20% then they would become cheaper.
        This demonstrates the stupidity of the whole VAT system were instead of a simple sales tax at the point of sale, tax is levied at every stage of procurement and production to be reclaimed except for the final sale.
        It’s like a merry go round open to fraud and why no other country/empire has adopted it.

        1. alan jutson
          October 29, 2015


          If your are selling VAT included products you actually get a more positive cash flow for a short period, as the VAT you get on sales is more than the VAT you have paid to your supplier.

          Likewise there is a loss to cashflow if the product you sell to the final customer is Zero rated, as you have paid VAT to your supplier (which you later claim back.

          An awful lot of paperwork with payments in and out being reclaimed or offset, with the threat of fines if returns are not sent in time.

        2. Hefner
          October 29, 2015

          Before 1973, instead of VAT, the U.K. had a Purchase Tax at 25%. So much better, isn’t it?

          Reply VAT is charged on all intermediates but Purchase tax just on final sale of finished good.

          1. Hefner
            October 29, 2015

            So is not VAT so much better for the State?
            And is not it a bit of a bias to have the tax burden only carried by the consumer, when all previous steps in the manufacturing/distribution process have been able to charge whatever they like (or whatever “competition in the market” would allow)?

            Obviously some people want a very limited State. But how such a really limited state would be able to pay for the finance holes created by, e.g., bankers, or pay for nuclear deterrent, or various foreign interventions? or more importantly education and health?

      2. Bob
        October 29, 2015

        It doesn’t make any difference.
        A registered business subtracts total vat paid from totall vat received in the accounting period and then either pays the surplus or gets a refund of the deficit.

        So if you were selling only zero rated products, you would just claim back from HMRC whatever vat was paid on your VAT 100 return.

        1. Know-Dice
          October 29, 2015

          There seems to be an implication (from the BBC piece) that selling an “exempt” item you can’t claim back VAT on the bought in raw materials.

          Where as you can on “zero rated” sales. I can’t see any thing of the sort on the HMRC web site.

          As you say Bob the calculation (for a business) is straight forward Output VAT minus Input VAT – either you owe the VAT man money or you get a refund.

          1. Bob
            October 29, 2015


            “Zero-rated supplies are treated as taxable supplies in all other respects, including the right of the person making the supply to recover the VAT on their own business expenditure (subject to certain restrictions – see paragraph 4.6).”

            The restriction in para 4.6 refers to not for profit activities, charites etc.


          2. Know-Dice
            October 30, 2015


            What about VAT Exempt products?

            Or is Exempt the same as Zero-rated?

          3. Bob
            October 30, 2015

            @Know-Dice Exempt items are different from zero-rated supplies. In both cases VAT is not added to the selling price, but zero-rated goods or services are taxable for VAT at 0%.

    3. waramess
      October 29, 2015

      Maybe we should put the BBC in charge of tax legislation.

      That reducing tax might send the overall cost of the product up (i.e. if VAT were removed the cost of the product would go up) means, presumably, increasing the tax would send the overall cost of the product down.

      Welcome to the wonderful world of Disney.

    4. Lifelogic
      October 29, 2015

      The BBC are never very hot on economics and how competitive markets work. I suppose they are not helped in this as they do not have to compete and get paid loads anyway.

      Do men or women pay vat on shaving products I think so?

      1. Lifelogic
        October 29, 2015

        I see the BBC are even spending licence tax money on lobbying Mps to retain this absurd, unfair competition gravy train. Still is was funny listening to the hapless YENTOP and Batmangellis being grilled by Mps over Kidscompany. The usual emotional drivel and non answers from them.

      2. Lifelogic
        October 29, 2015

        Loads of things are virtually essential but, still have Vat on them anyway Clothes, petrol to get to work, shoes, electricity gas……

        Vat is a totally bonkers tax though hugely complex and involves a huge chains of companies and endless records too. Bay trees have Vat if above a certain hight and clothes above a certain size – bonkers and very unproductive. Was is pasties and takeaways that had to be below a certain temp too?

        1. Edward2
          October 29, 2015

          When it was introduced to replace Purchase tax we were told it would be a simple to administer tax which would always be a low single figure rate.
          Now it is 20% and as complex as any tax ever invented.

          There was a VAT court case that went on for years as to whether a Jaffa cake was a cake or a biscuit.

          1. Lifelogic
            October 29, 2015

            Lots of pointless work and fees, for essentially parasitic lawyers though.

    5. JoeSoap
      October 29, 2015

      Builders reclaim 20% vat on materials but new build houses are vat exempt

  4. Mike Stallard
    October 29, 2015

    Let us just make three simple points which Evan Davis missed last night on Newsnight.
    1. The EU is a dynamic, progressive institution heading as fast as it can towards More Europe. It wants more control over national parliaments, you assume it can be persuaded to grant less. Read Spinelli-Bertelsmann.
    2. The Norway option is a very good way to leave. We have to be dynamic, progressive too if we want to save our country. Dramatic? Read the Five Presidents’ Report. It makes your blood run cold. In no way is anyone suggesting the Norway option is permanent: it is a stepping stone on the way to freedom.
    3. I am afraid this will have to be moderated out. Mr Cameron told a bare faced lie last night on the news. He must know that we do not pay anything like the same amount as Norway does to the EU. He said we did. He is determined – even at the cost of lying – to stay in. He is not the person to lead us out of the quagmire of the EU.

    Reply. Mr Cameron said in the version I heard that Norway pays as much as us per head, which means a lot less in total owing yo smaller population.
    Those who want out need to show some common sense and discipline. The Norway model us not the right one for the UK. The leave campaign says we want a new relationship based on free trade and co-operation outside the treaties. That would be better than Norway. Don’t spend your time attacking us.

    1. matthu
      October 29, 2015

      Any idea where Cameron gets his figures from when he states that “Norway pays as much per head to the EU as we do”?

      I would love to see equivalent figures for Norway. I suspect the matter is not as clear cut as Cameron would have you believe. (Something akin to Clegg’s 3m jobs would be lost.)

      1. Denis Cooper
        October 29, 2015

        Much, maybe most, of Norway’s payments to the EU are related to things other than trade, things which we may not want:

        “As of 2009, Norway has chosen to opt into EU projects and its total financial contribution linked to the EEA agreement consists of contributions related to the participation in these projects (Schengen Agreement, Europol, EU Drug Monitoring Centre, Frontex, the European Defence Agency and the Union’s battlegroups) and part made available to development projects for reducing social and economic disparities in the EU (EEA and Norway Grants). EEA EFTA states fund their participation in programmes and agencies by an amount corresponding to the relative size of their gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the GDP of the whole EEA. The EEA EFTA participation is hence on an equal footing with EU member states. The total EEA EFTA commitment amounts to 2.4% of the overall EU programme budget. In 2008 Norway’s contribution was €188 million. Throughout the programme period 2007—2013, the Norwegian contribution will increase substantially in parallel with the development of the EU programme budget, from €130 million in 2007 to €290 million in 2013. For the EEA and Norway Grants from 2004 to 2009, Norway provided almost €1.3 billion.”

      2. Tom William
        October 29, 2015

        According to the Norwegian government’s own figures, its total EU mandated payments (gross) are approximately £435m (€600m) per annum. With a population of five million, that is approximately £86 (€120) per head (gross). Net payments, however, are about £340m (€470m) per annum, or about £68 (€94) per head.

        On the other hand, in 2014, the UK gross contributions to the EU were £19.2bn, less £4.9bn rebate. That gives an equivalent gross payment of £14.3bn. After rebates and other receipts, our net contribution was £9.8 bn.

        With a population of 64 million, that puts our gross contribution (without rebate) at £300 per head, our equivalent gross payment at £223 per head, and our net per capita payment £153 per annum – more than twice the Norwegian payments.

      3. Lifelogic
        October 29, 2015

        Oh Cameron must be right as he is a cast iron, low tax conservative at heart, on the side of low hardworking families ( unless the get tax credits) and he clearly is delivering no ifs no buts tens of thousands immigration and the £1 m each IHT tax promised! After all we are all in it together as he says.

    2. alan jutson
      October 29, 2015


      I agree with you that Cameron is proving to be a man whom it would seem will grasp at anything to try and keep us in the EU, even if it involves bending the truth.

      This latest desperate outpouring of rubbish is an attempt to try to frighten uniformed people, that we are better with the devil you know nonsense.

      We also have the defeatist talk that we can not make it on our own, because it would be difficult to reach our own agreements with many other Countries around the World.
      Then we have the age old crap, that we will have to pay some sort of fee in order to sell goods to the EU if we leave.
      It should rapidly become apparent even to the most uniformed, that Mr Cameron is nothing more than a defeatist, and is the last person who we should have negotiating on behalf of our Country.
      Having lost one fig leaf in the form of the LibDems, it seems he wishes to retain the other in the form of the EU, so that he always has someone else to blame for any failure to perform.

      Yes he looks the part, but so far he has shown little substance.

      His sidekick Mr Osbourne has also shown especially recently that he is out of touch with reality as well.

      As I have said many times, we need some hard nose people with a wealth of commercial experience to negotiate on our behalf, in order to get the best for Britain.

      1. Denis Cooper
        October 29, 2015

        The fee would be for the privilege of running a trade deficit with the EU.

        Norway is a net exporter to the EU; if the principle is that the country which is the net exporter and so benefits most from the trade should pay some kind of fee for market access then obviously the EU should be paying us.

        1. Lifelogic
          October 29, 2015


      2. Timaction
        October 29, 2015

        Quite right. How can Messrs Cameron or Osborne be treated seriously when we know behind closed doors he is in cahoots with the EU and its leaders. He is conniving with them to try and give an impression of a renegotiation when no such thing is going on. He’s had years to do this and we still don’t know what he wants.
        The big ticket items that we all want include freedom of movement, fishing, agriculture, employment, supremacy of British law, Human Rights, fees, which are not even on the table!
        We need Churchill, Thatcher or Farage, unfortunately we have cast iron!

      3. Bob
        October 29, 2015

        @Alan J

        ” Mr Cameron is nothing more than a defeatist, and is the last person who we should have negotiating on behalf of our Country.”

        A modern day Neville Chamberlain, in fact.

        I’m still waiting to hear what his negotiation points are.
        I suspect he is waiting for Auntie Angela to tell him what they are, and they will be minor (temporary) concessions which will be just enough for him to claim that Britain has a new deal. And if he can trick the dumbed down electorate into voting to remain, then our fate will be sealed. Bye bye Britain.

      4. oldtimer
        October 29, 2015


        The idea that the UK will have to pay a fee to be permitted to sell goods and services to the EU was given a good airing on Newsnight last night to the extent of being advanced as a given outcome. It is not clear to me why this should be the outcome of any negotiation as the UK unless the UK in response concluded that the EU should pay a fee to sell goods and service to the UK!

        The Five Presidents Report offers a clear sense of the direction of travel for the EU and members of the EZ. Among other things I note it says “large
        scale fiscal transfers between members are not foreseen” (no doubt because Germany is unwilling to pay for them) but we also know that freedom of movement is a must (Germany`s demographic problem is and will be solved by solved by guest workers from elsewhere). Completion of the single market requires more top down direction from Brussels to achieve convergence. It also envisages rapid progress towards a Capital Markets Union observing “This applies to all 28 EU Member States…” (ie it includes the UK).

        The Five Presidents report is clear, makes sense for the EZ and sets out the road map towards “ever closer union”. But it seems to me that it leaves little or no room for the UK to negotiate a satisfactory new arrangement that regains control of UK borders, preserves existing, let alone return lost, sovereignty to Parliament or prevents new laws, regulations and taxes being imposed on the City – a key source of high paid jobs and taxes for the UK. Perhaps this is the reason that Mr Cameron appears to be making little or no progress in his “negotiations”. If my understanding is correct, I will be voting to Leave.

    3. Know-Dice
      October 29, 2015

      In any case as far as I understand it, Norway pays a “voluntary” amount to “poorer” European countries, rather than in to the EU coffers direct.

      And to reiterate Owen Patterson’s rebuttal to Evan Davis, “the EU has more to loose trade wise than we do”, so it would be childish “playground” politics for them (the EU) to put trade barriers in place against the UK.

    4. Brian Tomkinson
      October 29, 2015

      Reply to reply,
      JR: “Don’t spend your time attacking us.”
      Who do you mean by “us”. I didn’t read Mike’s contribution as an attack on anyone other than Cameron and the EU. Many of your colleagues constantly give the impression of being more concerned about party unity and not upsetting Cameron. Hardly reassuring for those of us who want the UK to be independen, self-governing and trading with the world.

      Reply Us means people like me who back the leave campaign. The leave campaign does not want us to end up like Norway!

      1. Denis Cooper
        October 29, 2015

        Oddly enough most Norwegians seem content to have ended up like Norway rather than ending up in the EU like us; according to a poll cited here:

        while we now split equally on EU membership, 40% against and 40% for, the Norwegians are split 68% against and 17% for.

      2. APL
        October 29, 2015

        JR: “The leave campaign does not want us to end up like Norway!”

        I’d rather end up like Norway, with a seat on the international bodies that draft international regulations that is then adopted by the EU, and imposed on it’s members.

        Than the UK where Norway decides what is good for Norway fights for it in the UN and then that is imposed on us by the EU.

        Frankly, ending up like Norway seems infinity better than ending up like the UK!

    5. bratwurst
      October 29, 2015

      As is often the case Cameron is misinformed.
      According to the Norwegian government’s own figures, its total EU mandated payments (gross) are approximately £435m (€600m) per annum. With a population of five million, that is approximately £86 (€120) per head (gross). Net payments, however, are about £340m (€470m) per annum, or about £68 (€94) per head.

      On the other hand, in 2014, the UK gross contributions to the EU were £19.2bn, less £4.9bn rebate. That gives an equivalent gross payment of £14.3bn. After rebates and other receipts, our net contribution was £9.8 bn.
      With a population of 64 million, that puts our gross contribution (without rebate) at £300 per head, our equivalent gross payment at £223 per head, and our net per capita payment £153 per annum – more than twice the Norwegian payments.

      1. WillH
        October 29, 2015

        It is disgraceful that the PM voted in and paid by us is prepared to try to deceive us in this way, with inaccurate figures, is it too much to expect to be able to depend on what he says being accurate? Don’t know if there was a time when “an Englishman’s word was his bond” but now there seems to be no disgrace in bending the truth, or worse.

    6. Denis Cooper
      October 29, 2015

      Well, JR, the stay campaign says, or implies, that there would be no possibility of the UK negotiating “a new relationship based on free trade and co-operation outside the treaties” which would be “better than Norway”, and on Sky News last night this point was apparently reinforced when it was pointed out that the UK would have to reach agreement with no fewer than 31 countries to get an improved treaty such as the EEA agreement, although I think Switzerland was on the list even though it is not in the EEA. The facts that Cameron is still half-pretending that he can successfully negotiate substantially improved EU treaty terms with 27 of those countries, namely the other EU member states, and that Liechtenstein and Iceland don’t have a lot of clout so in reality it would just be the EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland, seemed to have got lost on the way.

    7. Leslie Singleton
      October 29, 2015

      Dear John–The “us” you refer to does not exist in any meaningful way, certainly not in the way you use it. You unfortunately seem to think that you have Cameron as part of your “us” and that he is an asset but I believe you have that completely wrong. I think his comments on Norway were inappropriate to the point of silliness; and if that line of attack is the best he can come up with I reckon we are set to leave and the sooner the better. The whole thing is crazy–it has to be when we hear that we would be in some kind of danger if we left but at the same time it is blindingly unarguable that tiny Iceland manages OK and better than OK on its own. How can that possibly be? I hope you read Nigel Farage in the Torygraph today. As usual every single word was spot on.

      Reply I do not include Mr C in the “us” who wish to leave the EU

  5. Richard1
    October 29, 2015

    Ok but the govt shouldn’t be wasting any time on this. Lots of things which are a necessity are subject to VAT. The scope of vat should rather be extended than reduced.

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 29, 2015

      So you want the EU to have even more control over taxation in the UK.

      Of course that is what Kenneth Clarke did when he first put VAT on domestic fuel, so that despite the Labour party promises in the 1997 general election we are still stuck with VAT on domestic fuel albeit at the irreducible minimum of 5%.

      1. Richard1
        October 29, 2015

        Not really I would just like the govt to spend time on and pick fights over issues they need to win. VAT is a cheap and efficient way of raising tax. Its scope should rather be extended than reduced. (I’m surprised its still only 5% on domestic fuel still given official fear of global warming.)

        1. Denis Cooper
          October 29, 2015

          Every time its scope is extended our Parliament loses power.

        2. ian wragg
          October 29, 2015

          There is nothing cheap or simple about vat. It is one of the most complicated taxes ever devised.
          In the USA it is a simple sales tax at the till.
          No one other than the EU has adopted the vat model.

        3. APL
          October 29, 2015

          Richard1: ” VAT is a cheap and efficient way of raising tax.”

          Which of course is incorrect.

          It is the most corruption prone tax that could have been conceived. (OK I expect politicians could have come up with something worse if they’d put their thinking caps on ).

          And if it’s cheap, that’s just because the burden of collecting it, falls on the businesses that are struggling to make a profit.

          It’s a lousy tax. The old sales tax was much better.

  6. Roy Grainger
    October 29, 2015

    VAT on tampons will be removed and this will be presented as a massive triumph of Cameron’s renegotiation strategy – just wait and see – the EU will throw us a few scraps like this in the run-up to the vote.

    1. Bob
      October 29, 2015

      @Roy Grainger

      “VAT on tampons will be removed and this will be presented as a massive triumph of Cameron’s renegotiation strategy – just wait and see – the EU will throw us a few scraps like this in the run-up to the vote.”

      Don’t forget roaming charges. And all we have to give in return is £350 million a week and our sovereignty. Bargain!

  7. DaveM
    October 29, 2015

    This is obviously another example of the UK’s lack of control over its own affairs, and one which will be hidden, twisted, lied about and then buried and forgotten about. A bit like the extra payments to the EU. If women need tampons, they’ll buy them, simple as that. It’s not something people are going to remember in a little while, partly because most of them are more concerned with Strictly Come Dancing and other mind-numbing crap.

    What will chill them and what they will remember is the sight of hundreds of thousands of immigrants marching unchecked through Europe, living by their own laws and standards, and changing the face of the country in which they and their children/grandchildren etc live. It didn’t take long for the Poles to vote with their feet, and from what I can tell the Austrians are none too chuffed either. Poor old little Slovenia – what did it ever do to deserve the wrecking ball Merkel has imposed on them?

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    October 29, 2015

    Perhaps the EU will concede this so Cameron can boast that he has succeeded in renegotiation and not only is the EU going to provide the elimination of mobile phone roaming charges (even though that may cost us all more overall), cheap holiday flights (despite government imposed taxes) but now, tax free tampons!

  9. agricola
    October 29, 2015

    Frankly I did not realise the extent to which the EU dictates tax matters in the UK. This would seem to put them in a better position than the House of Lords.

    Should the EU give in then CMD can site it as his tampon moment. Not only will he triumph over the EU but will gain the everlasting gratitude of the female vote. As with Boston Tea it is symbolic, but at the same time distracting. Attention grabbing but very small beer in the scheme of life with the EU as a bedfellow. CMD or should I say George 111, knows he cannot achieve anything involving treaty change with the EU, so he is now in the business of rubbishing workable alternatives such as the Norway option. He wishes us to get bored and conclude that we are better off doing nothing and staying within the EU.

    The UK could easily accept the EFTA option, Norway with tweaks, on trade to avoid a protracted negotiation, and then tailor our requirements on sovereignty and the cessation of payment for EU membership to suit our needs as an independent sovereign state. As has been pointed out the major industrialists of the EU will not risk their trade with the UK to satisfy some petulant EU political reaction.

    If the above is not thought viable then please spell out the alternative for leaving the EU, retaining trade with the EU, saving the EU membership fee, and reverting to a sovereign state with Parliament supreme, all within six months of the referendum out result.

    Reply It’s what the rest of the world does!

    1. agricola
      October 29, 2015

      Reply to Reply

      If you are saying that the rest of the World trades with the EU free of all the political baggage then I accept this, but why is it not suggested for the UK. I would be more than happy to become a sovereign nation again with our trade relationship based on organisational agreements upstream of the EU, such as the WTO. Your reply is a bit too brief to be sure of what you mean.

  10. fedupsoutherner
    October 29, 2015

    The public will never know the full extent of the powers the EU have over many aspects of our lives because the media including the BBC (especially the BBC) never report on these things at length. Nick Clegg was on radio 4 this morning going on about how the Norwegian model was not all it was cracked up to be and when asked why they didn’t join the EU if it was so bad, failed to answer but just went on about how much they pay as members etc. Nobody challenges the pro Eu representatives when they make negative arguments and they public get left with a negative view. Mission accomplished then.

    It also transpired that other EU nations want to support the UK over their stance on immigration and DC reforms. Trouble is they don’t know what he is asking for yet!!!!! Bit like us then. All I know is that he is supposed to be negotiating over benefit for immigrants but how do we know? It is no good just getting the benefit rules changed. We need the immigration rules changed to stop the influx of millions of extra people into our small country. We have to house them and feed them so in effect they will still be receiving benefits. David Cameron is a real let down as a leader. We need someone with more guts.

  11. ChrisS
    October 29, 2015

    “I wonder if the EU will give in on this matter, given their wish to keep us in paying their bills and obeying their laws”.

    In a word, no !

    Brussels has no interest in breaking its iron grip on every area of decision making and policy that the leaders of member states have been stupid enough to cede to them. They have had plenty of opportunities to assist Cameron and Osborne but at every turn they actually make it more difficult for them to make the case to stay in.

    The worst example lately was the advice from Junker’s Lawyer that the agreement that Britain should not contribute to bail outs for Eurozone members was only a “Political Agreement” and therefore could be broken with impunity. That will not be forgotten when the referendum campaign starts in earnest and we are made promises of treaty change “when the time is right.” Shades of Blair’s “deal” where he gave up part of our hard-won rebate in exchange for a promise of future CAP reform.

    The Brussels attitude might change as the referendum gets closer but I doubt it. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they are so arrogant, so convinced that Europe is the solution to everything, that they don’t believe we would ever vote to leave.

    We can only hope that they are in for a £10bn pa shock !

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 29, 2015

      “The worst example lately was the advice from Junker’s Lawyer that the agreement that Britain should not contribute to bail outs for Eurozone members was only a “Political Agreement” and therefore could be broken with impunity.”

      I said that at the time; and I suggested that returning decisions under the relevant Article 122 TFEU from QMV to unanimity was one of the EU treaty changes that Cameron should have got in return for giving Merkel the radical EU treaty change that she demanded in the autumn of 2010.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      October 29, 2015

      Chris–I don’t believe the EUmaniacs are as convinced as you say, at least not any more, but no matter who thinks what there simply is no possible way back using the present construct–that is the problem–unfortunately even if Brussels wanted to unravel everything it would take an Einstein even to try to work out how to do it and even he would fail.

  12. Denis Cooper
    October 29, 2015

    Somewhat off-topic, as predicted eighteen months ago:

    Cameron is trying to wriggle his way out of getting treaty change on “ever closer union” by securing a “clarification”:

    Two points here.

    Firstly, a “clarification” in the form of a declaration attached to the EU treaties would not be legally binding – protocols are legally binding, declarations are not –

    and so any such purely political “clarification” would be very largely disregarded by the EU institutions, especially the EU Court of Justice, as inferior to the solemn and legally binding commitment to “ever closer union” in the preambles to the EU treaties.

    Secondly, the European Council included what was supposed to be a “clarification” of this principle in the Conclusions of a meeting in June 2014:

    and yet that has no discernible effect.

  13. Atlas
    October 29, 2015

    Portillo is on another one of his continental railway journey TV series – this time ‘set’ in 1913. His description of the crumbling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – with its nationalist countries wanting to break free of central control – seemed a good model for how the EU will evolve.

    October 29, 2015

    “The government … promised to lobby the EU about the tax. ” What does that mean?

    1.Will MPs stand outside of the EU Parliament with placards proclaiming “No tax on things some of you cannot talk about openly because of your cultures. ”

    2. Send a really stinking letter to whoever the President of Europe is.

    3. Get a highly professional picket line of UK doctors to chant outside Mrs Merkel’s favourite Bierkeller “No more tax on hygiene products! What do we want, no more tax! Why do we want it?! Cos we’re medical workers. When do we want it, now!The workers united will never be defeated! ”

    4. Hire attractive leggy young women as cheerleaders to wave flags, jump up and down outside the EU President’s house ( again whoever he is ) twirling round and round screaming “No more tax please we’re British” It might just work.

  15. MickN
    October 29, 2015

    Could they not just agree to reduce the tax for a trial period?

  16. Bert Young
    October 29, 2015

    What Norway and Iceland does is no concern of ours ; I am not suggesting that their treaty relationship with the EU doesn’t make sense , it is merely that our standing in world affairs is of much greater consequence and , as such , stands alone . The investments that we have in Commonwealth countries and the significance of London in Banking and other financial transactions , make us a very different stand alone identity .

    The EU does not have an international credibility of any consequence and , from the mess it has got itself into over the migrant crisis , unlikely to have in the future . More Europe is not possible without political and fiscal unity with all member countries ; it cannot achieve this and be a one nation state with the existing cultural and ethnic differences . Driving its will from a dominant Germany aided and abetted by a compliant France is , frankly , a laughable combination ; were it not for the 2 Great Wars , there would be no raison d’etre at all for these 2 very different cultures to be in bed together .

    From all aspects – particularly the sovereignty one , there is no reason for us to be in the EU . It costs us a tremendous amount in money and reputation terms . Trade with all countries where our products and services make sense is a credible and worthwhile objective , beyond this our relationship means nothing save that of maintaining diplomacy . We owe nothing to the EU and they have nothing to add to our reputation .

  17. English Pensioner
    October 29, 2015

    Those who went to the New World were people who believed that they could make a new life for themselves which would be better than that which they were leaving. They weren’t going to put up with interference which might prevent them achieving their dream. People are still leaving for the same reason, people whom this country really needs.
    Those left behind are are the people who accept the way of life and are unlikely to do anything about it. They are scared of change and will do everything to maintain the status quo; they are now scared by the thought of their country being outside the EU all by itself. We’ve lost the spirit that once led us to build an Empire and seek better lives elsewhere. No chance of us having the equivalent of the “Boston Tea Party”!
    The Scots have more enthusiasm for change, wanting independence from the UK, but strangely, if the get it, want to shackle themselves to the EU!

    October 29, 2015

    Off topic: “Transport Questions” is LIVE on TV as I type.
    The Labour MP for Huddersfield Mr Barry Sheerman asked a question of Mr Robert Goodwill Transport Minister ( though the latter’s visage was most at odds with a number of internet images ). No doubt it is hard, being a Minister.

    The answer included: ” The Great northern cities are crying out of HS2 ” No-one up here living in a city considers it “Great” and those living outside most certainly don’t. Crying about HS2 could in theory be heard if most people had a clue what it was.

    Mr.Osborne’s idea of using an Iron Horse to bring the questionable civilization of London to “THE North ” is unwelcome.

    One MP suggested the railway beginning with the £165Billion should start at the northern end first. Mr Goodwill replied: “What does it matter which end we start at? It’ll end up the same . It is vital the Birmingham and London link is built ..”
    Well, of course, the cost of HS2 will be well over-budget, way behind schedule and if anything …at all…is built north of Birmingham the government will be forced through economic necessity and a shortage of truly British steel to rip up rails south of Birmingham only to lay them to the north of that “Great” city.

  19. a-tracy
    October 29, 2015

    British women are so feeble, that we ever had to pay VAT on these essential products is ridiculous. The campaigners need to take their campaign to facebook, twitter, google+ let the women of Europe know what VAT rate every Country has to pay. What’s the point of even talking to the British parliament when it’s out of your control. Our MEPs from all parties should be speaking up and speaking out, isn’t that what we pay them for?

    As for Richard1 it’s a waste of time, how much time does it actually take for goodness sakes to make an essential purchase, female hygiene product zero rated!?

    1. APL
      October 31, 2015

      a-tracy: “British women are so feeble, ”

      This is not a feminist issue, stop trying to make it one. It is a political one, do we or do we not have control over our own tax laws!

      Since the women of Britain have had the vote they have consistently as a bloc voted for the more tax, ‘bleeding heart’ politics of the left.

      As a group they want more tax, more spend. Well, here is an opportunity to foot some of the bill.

      A packet of ten tampons costs £1.79 ( superficial google ) so the woman who buys that pack is paying less than nine pence tax. Perhaps those ten tampons will last her two months. In which case she is paying 54 pence a year to the government, in exchange for which she may well get child allowance of £20.00 a week with an additional £15 per week for additional children.

  20. stred
    October 29, 2015

    Off subject, The U tube of Tony Abbott’s speech was a very concise analysis of her qualities and how they should be applied today, with advice of how to stop mass immigration changing Europe and the need to deal with Islamic State. At the end the next choice put on quickly was the speech by Justin Trudeau after his victory in Canada.

    It is given half in French and he seems a young charismatic leader, taking over from Mr Harper, who has just spent 10 years putting the economy in much better shape, following overspending by the Liberals. But apparently, although a ‘neighbour’ as described by Justin, he was divisive. Justin likes muliculturalism and everyone should be an equal Canadian,(words left out ed).Perhaps Canada should open it’s borders to anyone who arrives from poor countries. If anyone wants a lecon pour radoter, just listen to this lot. He looks a bit like Elvis, not that Elvis waffled like Justin. What a contrast with Tony.

    Reply I attended the dinner to hear Mr Abbott who spoke well of MT’s values and important legacy.

  21. Bob
    October 29, 2015

    While we’re on the subject, I listened to R4 celebrating progress in feminising boards of directors of British firms this morning.

    When are the disabled going to get the same treatment?

  22. Denis Cooper
    October 29, 2015

    Off-topic, many interesting points were raised during yesterday’s Commons exchanges about the tax credit debacle:

    but I will briefly highlight just three claims:

    1. Tax credits are classed as a benefit and a Bill to vary them could not be certified as a Money Bill for the purposes of the Parliament Acts.

    2. Brown wanted the variation of tax credits to be done through statutory instruments, secondary legislation, rather than Bills, primary legislation, so that he could more easily raise them before an election.

    3. In 1999 Lord Strathclyde, now charged by Cameron to review the position of the Lords regarding statutory instruments and the implications for the financial primacy of the Commons, declared that the convention under which the Lords would not strike down statutory instruments was “dead”, and the same day the Tories used their Lords majority to strike down two statutory instruments proposed by the Labour government.

    I have to say it seems pretty simple to me: if in a particular area MPs don’t want the Lords to have the power to veto a statutory instrument then they shouldn’t allow the parent Act to say that it will need to be approved by BOTH of the Houses.

    Which of course is exactly what they are allowing with Clause 7 of the government’s EU referendum Bill, that the Lords will have a veto over the date set for the referendum.

  23. Bill
    October 29, 2015

    This thing with tampons is crazy. When my son was a university the Junior Common room debate the matter and the women secured a victory for a subsidy on their tampons. The men argued that they, in their turn, should also be subsidised for shaving equipment but they lost the vote!

    And while we are talking about crazy things, why did the BBC in the Today programme play the pro-EU interview with Nick Clegg twice? The anti-EU voice only had one airing.

    1. a-tracy
      October 29, 2015

      Shaving is a choice, women shave too and we pay the same tax on this, however, men don’t bleed every month, there is no comparison. Preventing the flow of blood should be seen as essential, you wouldnt be too happy Bill to sit on a seat a female who didn’t take care of her sanitary protection had soiled! Are you married? Do you have daughters? I haven’t discussed this with a man today who agrees with you, and I work in a male dominated sector.

  24. Tad Davison
    October 29, 2015

    It’s difficult to invoke the ‘Boston Tea Party moment’ without considering immigration to the United Kingdom, and the part the EU plays in it. And if politicians are too scared to mention this, then I will!

    ‘No taxation without representation’ seems reasonable enough, until one sees the risks to our secular state from an influx of people who do not share our values, and who presently account for the biggest rises in the UK’s birth rate.

    (words left out ed)
    And the UK’s population is set to rise by over 9 million people in the next twenty-five years mainly through immigration. Bernard Jenkin reminded us on today’s Daily Politics Show how we cannot stop anyone entering the UK who holds an EU passport, however that documentation was come by. And the programme’s presenter, Andrew Neil was very, very careful with the way he broached the subject so as not to offend highly irascible people who complain at the drop of a hat. So the lessons from the Charlie Ebdo massacre where free speech is supposed to be supreme, doesn’t seem to have yet permeated the corridors of the BBC.

    Whilst we belong to the EU, we are sowing the seeds of our own demise, and are risking losing every freedom we have fought for centuries to secure.

    Tad Davison


    1. alan jutson
      October 29, 2015


      Your last short Paragraph sums it up exactly.

    2. Paul Cohen
      October 29, 2015

      Winston Churchill’s words in 1946…..

      “We see nothing but good and hope in a freer, more contented European commonality. But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not compromised. We are interested and associated but not absorbed”.

      Time to turn the clock back?

      1. Tad Davison
        October 30, 2015

        Wise words Paul, and if the guts hadn’t been edited out of my original post, readers would see how similar my own sentiments are to those of the great statesman, by highlighting how different some of those people who now reside here actually are.

        They are certainly not ‘of it’ when it comes to our nation’s freedoms and values. And with an EU passport, we can’t stop them coming. Yet things are so bad, and we are so restricted, we are forbidden to talk about the problem even on a day when the UK’s security services now say they is a very big chance we could experience serious acts of terrorism which could cost many innocent lives.

        This has got to be sorted, but we cannot rely on those in government who have not the wherewithal to begin with. You can’t expect a boy to do a man’s job, and right now, we need another Churchill.


  25. margaret
    October 29, 2015

    I was wondering do we have VAT on condoms ? These are also a necessity by many men.

    1. a-tracy
      October 29, 2015

      You can get free condoms from your NHS clinic

      1. margaret
        October 30, 2015

        I run clinics and patients are not allowed free condoms any more, but the question is when condoms are bought over the counter is VAT added.

        1. stred
          October 30, 2015

          One of my relations works in a clinic doling them out too. She tells me they come in 3 sizes- large , medium, and neat, to avoid any hurt feelings.

          1. margaret
            October 30, 2015

            It must be in Bury where we respect NHS money , but the question still stands . When condoms are bought over the counter, is VAT paid?

  26. ian
    October 29, 2015

    Only thing that will get you out of the EU is if the city of London comes under attack from the EU and then they will out without even asking you.

    Despite how hard it is to get weapons in Austria. Austria selling firearms at record pace to protect themselves against (criminals? ed), women buying the most.

  27. Denis Cooper
    October 29, 2015

    I’d like Cameron to explain what sort of ‘special relationship’ we have with the US when their trade representative says that if we try to revert to democratic self-government then the US will stop trading with us. It seems a rather strange ‘special relationship’ with ‘our closest ally’ when we field our troops alongside theirs to spread democracy around the world but they don’t want us to be a democracy. Of course it’s quite possible that Cameron has asked his friends in Washington to pitch in and help him out on this, but he should stop and think that by enlisting their aid to keep us in the EU he may well stir up latent anti-Americanism in the UK, with very bad long term consequences. There’s already suspicion about the proposed EU-US trade deal which he says will be so wonderful that it’s worth staying in the EU just for that, on top of course of the widespread anger about the wars and other US actions in the Middle East.

  28. Margaret
    October 29, 2015

    How can we trust the EU when Eu tactics are regularly used over here. Today I was summoned to a meeting which was obviously happening somewhere else. The inconsistencies and lies which came over affected the staff and their perceptions until they thought about it.If they don’t go with the flow their jobs are in jeopardy . Can you imagine this sort of control on a big scale or has this already happened. The problem is we can only question the validity of the ones who repeat the controlling rubbish and not get equally to the source
    MI Eu

  29. Martin
    October 30, 2015

    I had a quiet chuckle about the Boston Tea Party and all that. Thanks to those early Americans refusing to pay taxes they laid the foundations for the ever rising budget deficit that the USA now has.

    Those people refused to help balance Britain’s budget!

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