Is the EU deal really under pressure?

All this week we will hear of last minute pressures to worsen the deal Mr Cameron has negotiated. We read that the French want to water down the already weak statements on how the UK avoids being dragged into comprehensive Eurozone regulation and taxation. We hear that some Eastern European countries are still not content with modest changes to the UK’ s welfare payments system.

Some cynical Eurosceptics think this all a choreographed dispute to make it look as if the UK has won something worth having. Other observers think the push back from some countries is genuine,as the deal was not cleared fully with all member states when the Commission and Council President put together the package. I am inclined to believe the latter. If all this is stage managed, then it serves to help the Leave campaign more than the Stay in group. For what the protracted and difficult negotiation has shown many British voters is just how little power the UK has over basics like welfare and business, and how we have to beg and petition to get modest change to our position which we ought to be able to do for ourselves. If someone did think creating a sense of difficulty would make people value the deal more, they forgot that it might merely show people who had not though much about the EU just how much power of self government has already gone.

The wish to water down some of the original proposals is not good news. Without Treaty change none of it is binding legally anyway, but if you are seeking a political agreement and strong statement instead of legal guarantees it is important to have clear and firm ones which will take a bit more unpicking. The UK wants to be part of the so called single market, but it does not want the Euro area to be able to override all City regulation, impose transaction taxes and change the architecture of financial markets against London’s interests. France seem very reluctant to offer any guarantees, and is one of the main advocates of much more financial service and banking integration. It does not augur well for life outside the Euro but still inside the EU. France makes clear the EU is not a multi currency Union, but a union based around the Euro with just two members allowed legal opt outs. That’s a long way from the multi currency union of the UK’s imagining.

Nor are the benefit rows insignificant. Lower income member states do not want to see the UK paying lower Child Benefit than our domestic rates to children not resident in the UK, yet the UK’s starting position long since surrendered was we should not have to pay any child benefit to the child of an EU migrant to the UK where the child has not come with the parents. The UK has also been forced to back off from saying no EU economic migrant will receive any benefit for the first four years of residence, to accepting a four year phase in of all benefits. Anyway a new migrant has every right to school places for children and free NHS treatment from the day they arrive.

The deal Mr Cameron was offered fell well short of what he asked for, which fell well short of the good aims of the Bloomsberg speech. The further rows just serve to tell all UK voters interested that we do not run our own affairs, and even under pressure of a referendum our partners do not want to offer us what we want.

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123 Comments

  1. The Active Citizen
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron promised he was going for ‘fundamental reform’ of the UK’s relationship with the EU. Specific promises were then made in the Conservative Party manifesto. People partly based their voting decisions on these.

    In the end Mr Cameron went for almost nothing and it looks like he’ll get much less. Forget the miniscule details which may or may not be agreed on Thursday/Friday.

    This ‘deal’ is virtually irrelevant, except insofar as it shows what little power and influence we have in the EU, as you point out.

    In evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday last week, I regret to say that the Foreign Secretary appears to have misled the Committee:-
    “The leaders of the European Parliament are a part of this process… Senior representatives of whom are sitting in the European Council… having this discussion with us next week…. They’re not on the outside, they’re on the inside of this process.”

    Yesterday Mr Cameron decided not to have ‘the discussion’ with the eight leaders of the European Parliament referred to by the Foreign Secretary. Instead and at the last minute the PM chose to meet only the leader of the Conservative grouping (Mr Syed Kamall) and just two other leaders.

    The Foreign Secretary also said the deal will represent an “international law decision” and would be legally binding. He used that term many times. For the public, this term sounds convincing. No doubt we’ll hear it again from the PM on Friday.

    Yesterday we heard the reality from Herr Schulz, President of the European Parliament, when he said that the ‘deal’ will not be legally binding as it requires a debate and approval from the 751 members of the European Parliament. He even said this in his press conference immediately following his meeting with Mr Cameron. Our PM conspicuously failed to attend the press conference himself.

    What appears above is only what’s happening right now. I have to say that misrepresentation of so much by the Governement already, so early in the Referendum debate, is an appalling indictment of the state of British democracy.

    Is it too much to hope that the PM will be called out as a liar by prominent public figures if he continues to play games with the truth and manipulate language beyond anything resembling its everyday meaning?

    • Jerry
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      @TAC; “Mr Cameron promised he was going for ‘fundamental reform’ of the UK’s relationship with the EU.”

      He is, In (a USoE) or Out (a Brexit)!

      It really is that simple, as with no treaty change to bind our opt-outs etc. into EU law not only could the EU reinterpret our relationship with the EU but any future UK government could also, without having to get a (single issue referendum) mandate from the electorate.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Exactly.

        Fundamental reform hardly. What is on offer is not even as significant as rearranging one deck chair on the Titanic.

    • Hop
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      If the chancellor had the guts to make stringent cuts to working tax credits it would have had more impact on immigration than anything Cameron is talking about with the EU. Cameron could make far better changes to immigration without the need to even contact the EU. However, it would be clear that EU citizens, whether they lived or contributed to the UK tax pot, would be entitled to exactly the same. There is a distinct lack of integrity about the whole charade. If Cameron had integrity over the issue he would admit he failed and is leading the UK out of the EU, if for no other than to get a better deal!

      Active Citizen is correct about Hammond. Hammond should now be called back and asked to explain himself and give the correct position.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Indeed. What this whole charade by Cameron and his Europhiles has shown is how low he and his accomplices have sunk. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain how he has lied and deceived us all in his pretences. From Bloomberg to Treaty change, binding legality that is not so, the man isn’t worth even listening to. When he opens his mouth you know it will be lies and spin.
        There is no status quo. It is either leave and self rule or remain and become part of a United States of Europe led by unelected foreign bureaucrats. My ancestors died to keep this Country free and I as one of many will NEVER accept the remain option.
        The msm have become an arm of Government. Peston talks to himself now on ITV with another reporter, not reporting the news but their opinions. Even last night they were suggesting we’d have the negative mass migration and all the rest regardless of leave. This is wanton misreporting. Canada, China, USA, Japan don’t have mass migration as a condition of trade with EU!

      • Jerry
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        @Hop; “If the chancellor had the guts to make stringent cuts to working tax credits it would have had more impact on immigration than anything Cameron is talking about with the EU.”

        That would likely just increase levels of measurable poverty [1], but on the other hand if we had the guts to radically change how and what we teach our youth, such as what they should expect from life, higher education and work then we might just start having an effect on the level of causes of inward migration.

        [1] and most likely a spike in crime, after all when there is nothing else at least in prison one gets three square meals, perhaps even some free education or training…

        • Hope
          Posted February 19, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          He is not negotiating a fundamental change with the relationship with the EU, nothing of the sort whatsoever. He was going to try to achieve this then put the question to the public. The referendum in Ireland was not the fundamental change he was talking about. Come on Jerry you are not at daft.

          Working tax credit cuts was Osborne’s idea which he do not have the guts to follow through with. If he had m point is that it would affect migration far more than anything Cameron is talking about. Consequences or whether I support his suggestion was not an issue.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            @Hope; What ever, you seem to be replying to your own comment, I said nothing about EU negotiations!

            Also I think it’s the DWP who you need to direct your comments to, not Mr Osborne and the Treasury.

    • oldtimer
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      The comments of Herr Shultz were indeed revealing. Any “agreement” reached with Heads of Governments and the EU Commission will, in reality, be no more than an aspiration because it can and would be undone by the European parliament. All those governments who do not want to give the UK any concessions will easily be able to martial their MEPs to out vote and undo any “agreement” Mr Cameron thinks he may have secured. We should not be fooled.

    • CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      The Active Citizen
      Hop
      You are both right, in my opinion.

      These negotiations and their procedures seem to be made up as they go along. An ongoing fobbing-off of the British electorate. Heaven only knows the flak the EU nation leaders will face from their own electorates. In what way will these nations’ politicians say they have won against the UK?

    • Know-Dice
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Very strange character that Philip Hammond…

      The Foreign Secretary also said the deal will represent an “international law decision” and would be legally binding. He used that term many times. For the public, this term sounds convincing. No doubt we’ll hear it again from the PM on Friday.

      So this “international law decision” is superior to EU Treaty, which is superior to the European Parliament which is superior to ECR…or any combination of these.

      I hardly think so…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:54 am | Permalink

        Nor I suspect does Philip Hammond think so.

        So why is he saying it? Is he perhaps just a paid liar trying to fool the public into a remain vote? What after all are the other possibilities? That he actually believes what he says? It seems rather unlikely.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Appalling indictment of the state of British democracy indeed.

      But alas exactly what we have come to expect of this:- I am a low tax Conservative at heart, Cast Iron Promise, no if no buts to the tens of thousands, “a treaty is not a treaty once ratified, pension and landlord/tenant robbing, joke long grass non renegotiation Libdim regime.

  2. Horatio
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    It rather suspends belief that the British people would really fall for all this chicanary. The problem of course is on the subject of things like the replacement of Eu funding post brexit, imposition of tariffs and loss of jobs the scaremongering is supported and never questioned by the leviathan that is the public broadcaster! Almost 10 years to deal with the BBC and nothing done. They act with impunity; in awe of the green religion and completely and utterly scathing of the English people who pay for their handsome salaries, eye- watering payoffs and diversity courses.

    It is pitiful that CMD negotiated so weakly from a position of strength and he didn’t even get that. None of this piffle is legally binding anyway and will go the way of the unfulfilled French promise to reform the CAP which cost us part of the rebate.

    I note that the ‘Gatwick Gusher’ looks to be fulfilling the promise of the survey reports. (Words removed ed)

    I salute you, JR, from the bottom of my heart. I just wish your colleagues were made of sterner stuff. The negotiations were inconsequential to begin with, absolutely no need to wait for their outcome before campaigning or if you are a minister with a conscience, resigning.

    If we end up remaining Osborne had better realise that the grassroots will never support him or any other remainers. A pyhric victory it will be. UKIP will surge like never before. I’ve only ever voted Tory, but I’d rather vote for Comrade Corbyn than Osborne or any other local MP who has put preferment above the constituents and the principles they stood on. The country will be finished anyway.

    • eeyore
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      “It rather suspends belief that the British public will fall for all this chicanery.” But we all know that’s not how people think, nor what they think about. Few will know of these negotiations, fewer will care, but all have votes.

      The actress Emma Thompson put her finger on the actual level of mass debate yesterday when she said, “We should be taking down borders, not putting them up.”

      What vision has the Leave camp to offer to Ms Thompson, and the multitude of political ingénues like her (broadly the young, urban and educated), to convince them that there is something better on offer than a return to a misunderstood and unwanted past?

      • Hope
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        The overwhelming majority of people are against taking down borders and mass immigration. How would her daft comments help prevent terrorism? No need to say anything they will simply think her comments are ill considered or plain stupid.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        In principle Emma Thomson is right – it would be better to have fewer borders. But that doesn’t work with widely divergent levels of social provision, and against a background of maniacal terrorism.

        An important point for the Leave campaign will be to avoid being cast as little-Englander or UKer) wanting to cut friendly ties with foreign countries. A positive vision of more, not less, international engagement needs to be offered.

        As with the AV referendum the pien pensent left are lining up on one side (Remain), which may help waverers on the right decide they better vote the other way.

        • Craig Dent
          Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          By the way, it’s

          Bien-pensant …….good thinking / conformist!

        • getahead
          Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          Richard, “An important point for the Leave campaign will be to avoid being cast as little-Englander or UKer) wanting to cut friendly ties with foreign countries. A positive vision of more, not less, international engagement needs to be offered.”

          I think you are watching too much BBC and reading too much Guardian newspaper. The Leave campaign has made it abundantly clear that out of the EU it will be much easier to negotiate with other countries, particularly the countries of the Commonwealth.
          For example, I understand that at the moment the EU, of which we are a member, has no trade agreement with India. That is a situation that would be immediately rectified on leaving the EU.

        • Original Richard
          Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:06 am | Permalink

          “An important point for the Leave campaign will be to avoid being cast as little-Englander or UKer) wanting to cut friendly ties with foreign countries. A positive vision of more, not less, international engagement needs to be offered.”

          Yes, this is one of those strange arguments put forward by the remain group.

          How can it be logical that the UK will have less “international engagement” if it is a free country on its own rather than as one of 28 nations (soon to become 36 nations) all of whom are allowing the EU to have the exclusivity of all the “international engagement” ?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        It is a fairly good rule of thumb that Actors and indeed Actresses almost never have anything very sensible to say unless someone else has written it for them. Even then they usually say it in a silly over dramatic manner with silly pauses.

        The same can usually be said for all the Comedians, Pop musicians, Celebs, tv presenters, men or women of the cloth and other “BBC think” types endlessly on Question Time or Any Questions

  3. Mark B
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Good morning.
    I have long suspected and argued that this ‘so called renegotiation’ has more to do with protecting the Banking Industry than getting our sovereignty back. And I think statements made here and elsewhere have confirmed this.
    What is also apparent is that in these so called renegotiations, we shall be expected to cede powers and possibly, more of our rebate. Probably more rebate will be lost than what might be saved in some measly control over how our own money is spent on welfare.
    I do not want some renegotiated settlement that is in no way legally binding. Neither do I wish to give more powers and money via the back door to save the Banking Industry. I want FULL SOVEREIGNTY !!! And that will only come with an Article 50 declaration indicating our intention to withdraw from the EU. We would still have access to the Single Market and, services and the transfer of monies is covered under the ‘Four Freedoms’ of the European Economic Area (EEA).
    Remember, the EU and Euro Area is a shrinking market and, with other poorer nations wanting to join in the future, we will not only have less say in what goes on but, we will be even poorer as the UK will be required to pay more into the EU budget.
    People really do need to make a reasoned and informed decision on this. And when they do, I have little doubt that they will come to the conclusion that the future for the UK does indeed lay outside the EU.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Yep, Article 50 does it !

      Lisbon Treaty

      1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

      2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

      3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

      4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

      A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

      1965 Ian Smith Declared Independence for Rhodesia and we could do the same.
      I’m a simple soul so I would start by tearing up the EU chequebook, Closing the Borders and sending an email round to all DHSS offices withdrawing payments to all who had not contributed to the system with immediate effect———–I would have to ponder Cameron’s fate.
      I think that even Cameron could do that in a day? Churchill could!

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Sadly it’s true that the Conservative parties only problem with the EU is financial sector regulation .

      HM Govt has shown it isn’t interested in protecting the masses against the excesses of the finance sector .

      ZIRP and sacrifice of the real economy to help recapitalise the banks and the incompetents are still managing to get themselves into trouble again .

      Your fate and mine is to bail them out when they come knocking – I’ve got a feeling they won’t be long .

  4. Antisthenes
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I believe David Cameron wants to get the referendum over quickly as he wants to move on to choosing his successor. He does not really care what deal he gets as he has no intention of using it’s contents to win the referendum so that the UK remains in the EU. No the strategy is to direct the debate around the advantages and disadvantages of membership because he knows that is where most of the votes will be won or lost.

    The leavers are at a disadvantage because selling a negative is always much more difficult than selling a positive. We all prefer good news to bad news. Added to that there is always a propensity for people to shy away from change so tend to stick with the status quo than make a leap into the unknown. Then there are the myriad of vested interest groups who will use fair or foul means mostly foul to win the case to remain in. Both the state apparatuses of the UK and the EU will be putting their considerable power and influence behind convincing the UK voters to vote for remaining in.

    The leavers have a considerable uphill battle to to win the referendum as the remain in lot have far more resources to call upon than the leavers. Only the Europhiles and Euro-sceptics are passionate enough to really care whether we leave or remain in the rest not that bothered. They will be swayed by whose rhetoric, lies, bribes they find the most appealing and of course the bullying that the EU will do and the FUD that others are and will resort to is going help the remain in group considerably.

    David Cameron holds the strongest hand and he knows it so he really does not have to have a credible or meaningful deal as he believes he can win anyway. He would like some decent reforms I am sure as all agree the EU needs reforming but he will not lose any sleep over it if he does not achieve any.

    • DaveM
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      “We all prefer good news to bad news.”

      I haven’t heard any good news coming out of the EU for a long time. And most people associate bad news in Europe with the EU and lack of border control.

      How sad to see this morning the modern day successors of the Greek and Spartan armies building refugee camps at the behest of their German masters.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Had Mr Cameron used his full negotiating strength by saying that unless there were fundamental changes to EU Treaties to accommodate UK needs and wishes we would leave and made it quite clear that he meant it, then other EU countries would have been obliged to sit up and take notice since they cannot afford to have us leave.

      As it was, he made it perfectly clear from the outset that he had no real intention of leaving or of backing a ‘leave’ vote in the referendum.

      To begin with, I was prepared to wait and see what he would come up with, but am now convinced that we should leave. Whatever changes he is graciously allowed to have by our co-members will do nothing to alter this view.

      We had a tremendously powerful negotiating position and he blew it from the word ‘Go’. I’m very disappointed that a UK Prime Minister should have such poor negotiating skills and have his arguments so contemptuously brushed aside by the other EU leaders.

    • getahead
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      It’s the Remainers who are trying to sell negative with all their scare stories. Most of them clearly untrue.
      The Leave campaign on the other hand, has a truly positive picture to paint, starting with saving our £55 million a day EU contribution.

  5. Mick
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    The way things are going with Cameron he won’t be coming back waving a piece of paper but a bus ticket with the deal on the back of it, and how people want to wait and see what he will get , NOTHING it’s a con, we have one chance so don’t blow it VOTE OUT ,it also seems to me that some of these poles carried out about the outcome of the vote are being fixed in favour of staying in because most people I speak to want out and most comments on various sites want out,

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    As you say – The deal Mr Cameron was offered fell well short of what he asked for, which fell well short of the good aims of the Bloomsberg speech.

    His Bloomsberg speech what far short of what was needed too and now we see that the agreement will not even been binding. The whole process is clearly a complete joke.

    What possible reasons do we have to be cynical? Cameron claimed to be a Eurosceptic and was going to give us a UK bill of rights, a Cast Iron referendum on the Lisbon treaty, no if no buts limit net immigration to the tens of thousands, a real MP recall system………. I also heard an old clip of Osborne the other day sensibly espousing the virtues or simpler taxes and lower rates. So why has he done the exact opposite in spades, ratted on his IHT promise, robbed pensions and mugged landlords (and thus tenants). We are not cynical just sensible observers of what politicians do.

    It seem he is going to mug pensions even further shortly. It is hard to be cynical enough of such dreadful, dishonest, liars.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Well, here’s a bit of cynicism!

      I’m well through reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor”. I tagged page 224 in which the following appears,

      “Most Politicians go with the flow of events. They see what seems inevitable, and then try to align themselves with destiny—and then usually try to present matters as well as they can and try in some feeble way to claim credit for what has occurred.”

      Watch this space!!!!!!! There’s going to be plenty of it around!

      A note about the book: I had anticipated a sycophantic eulogy to this Great Man, Churchill…………but it is a gripping “warts and all” (lots of warts) and an insight into this remarkable man’s life. Recommended.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Whether the deal negotiation is being stage-managed or not is irrelevant, whatever is agreed will be ignored by the EU anyway, just as they ignored Blair’s deal to reform the CAP in return for reducing UK’s rebate. Given this I’m surprised the EU isn’t offering a bit more.

  8. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    The big events of 2015 were, surely, the State of the Union Speech of M. Juncker to the Parliament, the production of the fundamental Law of the Eu which revises the Treaty of Lisbon in favour of more Europe and closer integration and the Ukraine War and Syrian Crisis.
    In all of these – without exception – the thinking by major European players was clearly revealed and nobody – not the Telegraph, not the BBC, not the Daily Mail, not the Guardian was listening.
    Putting your fingers in your ears and singing lalalala is not going to change Europe.
    Mr Cameron, whom I am growing to respect for his desperate attempt to talk some sense into his “colleagues” – and his total failure – is going to crash and burn very shortly.

  9. Excalibur
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I am of the view that the benefits issue IS insignificant, JR. The key issues are regaining our sovereignty and having control over who comes into our country. Benefits are in my view a smoke screen by CMD to detract from these two key parameters. Your position throughout has been that we should first try re-negotiation and then if this fails we should vote to leave. But its not as simple as that, is it ? The vested interests for and against will seek to lie and obfuscate, clouding the issues, seeking to induce a fear of going it alone and rendering a clear unambiguous decision unlikely.
    As matters stand I am not optimistic of a clear cut decision in favour of leaving which is what most who subscribe to your columns want.

    • DaveM
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your first line. I’m not particularly happy about my taxes going to provide child benefit for children who live abroad, especially when the govt withdraws it from us at any opportunity and makes English university students pay a fortune for their education.

      But I don’t really care about EU immigrant workers getting in-work benefits. In many ways, if such benefits were removed it could play into the hands of the Leave lobby anyway, especially with the advent of the “living wage”, because it would mean big businesses could no longer pay foreigners low wages knowing they would be topped up by the govt. Thus the EU would be of less benefit to the big corporations. However, it seems that very few EU immigrant workers claim in-work benefits anyway.

      As far as benefits are concerned, I would rather see foreign people who work given top ups if necessary, and less cash given to scroungers from our own country. If people could have a job, they should take it, not expect me to keep them.

      The bottom line is that if we want to give money to every child in Europe and top up EU immigrants’ wages to £30/hour it should be OUR choice to do so. End of.

      The withdrawal of in-work benefits will make absolutely no difference whatsoever to controlling our borders – those people currently ruining the lives of the Calaisiens want to come here because of the free handouts and the false rumours they’ve heard. They don’t know what “in-work benefits” are. Most probably don’t know what “work” is.

      Can we just have a PM sometime soon please, and get this charade over and done with?

  10. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    It is not said what Mr Cameron is giving… to the EU in return for whatever.

    In any negotiation there is give and take. So what is Mr Cameron promising to give?

    • Graham Wood
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      “It is not said what Mr Cameron is giving… to the EU in return for whatever.”

      I was about to comment by way of answer – he will give away our sovereignty, but of course that has gone already.
      More seriously, what he would be giving is any real capacity for a British electorate to say ‘NO’ to future transfers of more powers to the EU if a ‘remain’ vote happens.
      Thus, as I have said before – any such transfers, no matter how outrageous will be met with the answer; ‘But you voted for it in the referendum’.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Christopher

      ” So what is Mr Cameron promising to give?”

      Only our sovereignty, our pride, our hard work, the integrity of all true Brits, the wasted lives of our servicemen given freely for the country they love, our standing in the world, our children’s futures and much more. That’s all but surely that’s too much.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully he is giving nothing at all, as he certainly is getting nothing of any real value in return. One wonders why he bothered with all those pointless air and car miles. Was the “vote blue get green”, husky hugging Cameron not concerned about all the pointless C02 emissions he produced for no gain. Or is that only a selective, PR before elections, concern of his. I see they are gong back on their promises regarding land based wind farm subsidies.

      If the UK votes to stay in this anti-democratic, socialist, disaster area (after Cameron’s pathetic little charade) they surely deserve all the dire consequences that will certainly follow on from a remain vote.

      Even the “remain” people should vote no and wait the a far better deal that will certainly follow as night follows day.

      They should of course reject that too.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      He has promised to deliver us into the thrall of the EU in perpetuity.

  11. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron attempting to thwart democratic structures and traditions in EU nation states is pressure indeed.
    Their nations’ MEPs too are in the dark as to what is being discussed.
    How would the four leaders of Visegrad countries and others sell a pay decrease ( via reduced child benefit ) to their own parties? To their own parliaments? To their own electorates?
    Just think, ones Prime Minister returns from a European meeting and announces…
    ” Thanks to my historic and triumphant meeting in Brussels, your children will now get very much less money. Enjoy! Please be sure to vote for me in our next General Election, no ifs, no buts “

  12. Paul
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    What I find amusing is the amount of discussion news reporters and political commentators have on guessing who will come out for the leave side in Cameron’s cabinet this weekend. Rather than focus on what Cameron has achieved (i.e. nothing) or not achieved and what would happen if we stayed/left they prefer to speculate on cabinet members who nobody’s heard of or care about who might be pro-exit. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes people reach for the remote control.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      One Cabinet Minister = one vote in the referendum.

      Twenty Cabinet Ministers voting “in” hardly makes a difference!

      What interests me is who is going to be at the helm when we vote out? And who is there to guide us through the Exit via Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty?

      Or who is there to simply declare Independence Unilaterally and tell them where to stick their UE laws?

      Who is there? Where is he / she hiding? Sorry to say that Farage is the only one who has the credibility. I don’t think either Fox or Redwood want it?

  13. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Surprised that you again mention the Bloomberg speech and even if that speech (had it translated in to some kind of reality) might have been worth something what exactly do you think forced our beloved PM in to making it? It was UKIP of course and for 20 years previously. I by no meams attempt to depreciate your and others’ efforts that’s not the point at all. Although I have worked out that you have decided to stay with the Conservatives I regard that as a crying shame because what is needed right now (literally this week) is for senior Tories to stand up, brand Cameron a prevaricator and a liar and move to UKIP and with as much fanfare as possible. The issues are far too serious to allow carrying on as we are. I cannot stand the way that “fundamental” has morphed to “substantial” but in fact even that turns out to mean barely significant and not legally binding to boot et cetera. It is a disgrace in itself this business about legally binding. It is unarguably obvious that whilst in the EU EU Law is going to be supreme.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      True. Were it not for Farage, non of this would be on the table

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:33 am | Permalink

      Post Scriptum–Nigel Lawson reminds us (very much inter alia) that what was promised was not just “fundamental” change but fundamental far-reaching change and Treaty backed too. How can it be that the wretched Cameron is allowed to carry on saying that the piddling piffle he has come up with (forget how hard he’s worked blah blah) has been a success? Of course he’ll get “a” deal but doesn’t it matter that it will be nothing like what was promised and totally inconsequential?

  14. alan jutson
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I simply repeat what I have said before.

    The sight of our democratically elected Prime Minister and the 5th largest trading nation in the World, to be seen touring around BEGGING for some crumbs which may fall from the EU table, is simply a disgusting and shameful spectacle.
    The fact that many of these Countries are quite minor in size, trade, and World stature makes it even worse, and adds to the insult.

    It simply shows how far we have lost control, and how little we think of ourselves.

    Any normal leader of such a Nation of our status would have summoned all the other EU leaders here, and would have simply told them we are leaving, unless we get significant change which suits our purpose.

    I am disgusted with Cameron and all those who support this sham of so called negotiation.

    Cameron has got nothing, absolutely nothing that will stick or benefit our Country from these so called negotiations.

    The actions and spectacle of Cameron, just shows how much power we have given away over the decades.

    Only a fool or the politically ignorant would support the remain campaign, given the above.

  15. Ian Wragg
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Almost all the people I speak to say we are being conned and intend to vote leave. I really think Cameron is out to destroy the Tory party so we can join the Euro and embrace full integration with this monolithic mess.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Ian, he’s making an excellent job of destroying his own party. Perhaps it will bring about a change long overdue.

      • ian wragg
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        I sincerely hope so.
        Being Labour Lite means that many of the population are disenfranchised.
        Lets hope this sets off a tsunami of protest and something good comes out of it.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    As far as EU immigration is concerned I’m not sure whether the current disputes are over quaternary or only tertiary issues.

    The primary issue is that our Parliament cannot control immigration from the rest of the EU, not at all just as regards the numbers of migrants and hardly at all as regards their personal characteristics either. That is what the British people object to most strongly, uncontrolled and unlimited immigration into their country, but Cameron has not even attempted to restore Parliament’s powers on this matter.

    The secondary issue, which Cameron has chosen as his primary focus, and in the process unnecessarily disparaging EU the great bulk of EU immigrants, is that some of them may have come here mainly to exploit our welfare benefits. There is certainly some anecdotal evidence about this, and some people get angry about it; but there is no clear statistical evidence that it is anything more than a marginal problem, or most importantly that tightening up the rules would have anything more than a marginal effect on immigration flows, which is the real primary issue.

    Then there are the issues around how the systems for in-work benefits and child support benefit for EU immigrants can be changed without those changes also impacting on the natives, especially young natives, and whether there will be permanent or only temporary restrictions, until the immigrants have been here long enough to have “paid into the system” as Cameron puts it, whether the payment of child benefit for children who are not living here should be stopped altogether or only reduced, and who will be able to activate any restrictions, and apart from the first and last these are definitely tertiary, or maybe no more than quaternary, issues, far far removed from the primary issue.

    Now we seem to be onto even finer details, quaternary issues such as whether or not these restrictions should apply to EU immigrants who are already in the country or only to those who arrive later, and apparently these are the sticking points which could bring to an acrimonious end Cameron’s entire effort to get a “reformed EU”, or as he used to say “transformed”, which the British people could more comfortably accept.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b8aebb8a-0ee8-11e1-b585-00144feabdc0.html#axzz40PgX9lLs

    “Cameron sees ‘opportunity’ to transform EU”

    It would all be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious matter.

  17. agricola
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Let’s not get carried away with what might or might not be the result of this re-negotiation until Cameron stands up in the H o C and explains what he has achieved. There is plenty of time to prepare the rebuttal and during his explanation to carry out any necessary editing.

    At such time I expect disappointment in full. I hope that in that part of the Conservative party committed to leave the EU there is the courage to stand up and tear into what I suspect will be a derisory offering. It should in turn be ridiculed and forensically dissected for what it is not and for the fact that it will have no legal standing whatever without treaty change. Cameron must be shown to be naked and not as he supposes arraigned in the finest clothes. Anyone who chooses to lie on his behalf, and there has been much lying to date, must be similarly dealt with.

    What I believe will be a paucity of substance and a lack of any legal foundation must be shown tor what it is and then unmercifully derided, along with those who are trying to peddle it.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I do think this all a choreographed dispute to make it look as if the UK has won something worth having.
    Some of us have seen it all before in the 1975 referendum.
    At referendum time we will receive a pamphlet from Her Majesty’s Government telling us they have decided to recommend to the British people to vote for staying in the EU. The pro-forma is already available courtesy of Wilson:
    “This pamphlet is being sent by the Government to every household in Britain. We hope that it will help you to decide how to cast your vote in the coming Referendum on the European Community (Common Market).
    Please read it. Please discuss it with your family and your friends.
    We have tried here to answer some of the important questions you may be asking, with natural anxiety, about the historic choice that now faces all of us.
    We explain why the Government, after long, hard negotiations, are recommending to the British people that we should remain a member of the European Community.
    We do not pretend, and never have pretended, that we got everything we wanted in these negotiations. But we did get big and significant improvements on the previous terms.
    We confidently believe that these better terms can give Britain a New Deal in Europe. A Deal that will help us, help the Commonwealth, and help our partners in Europe.
    That is why we are asking you to vote in favour of remaining in the Community.”

    Little to edit except replace the word “European community” with “European Union”.

  19. MikeP
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    That all being the case John, it does beggar belief that the 18-24s polled recently are so strongly in favour of us remaining in the EU. This group may not have a great track record of turning out to vote in General Elections but they’re generally well-travelled and well-educated – albeit maybe not in history or politics – but are frequently seen on TV advocating our continued EU membership. I want my kids and grandchildren to grow up in a safe, successful self-governing democracy that’s free to continue its proud history of global commerce, standing up for what’s right and against those who threaten our freedom.

    Why do young people today think this is all possible by being run by Brussels ?

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Mike P

      Why?Indoctrination – it’s what passes for education these days.It doesn’t matter so much if the young cannot spell or add up,provided they can recite the correct mantras,in that respect they have become the madrassas of political correctness.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Mike:

      Well travelled = holidayed a lot

      Well educated = being illiterate and inumerate (OECD figures)

      Part of the reason why young people are put through university in such large numbers is that they can be indoctrinated.

    • stred
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Younger voters have been indoctrinated by their teachers and lecturers in pro EU and pro Green politics. They are schooled in equality and rights. They travel frequently and communicate with friends in foreign countries. They think they will be isolated if we leave and do not seem to notice that some of their friends are Norwegian, Swiss or American and travel and stay and work in the EUwith ease.

      They are shown the Gore disaster movie in school and believe in catastrophic AGW. They are taught that the reason populations are moving from the South to the North is because of climate change and believe that sea levels and temperatures have risen, forgetting that the rate of rise so far is only what it was before and that the doubling of population every 20 years may have something to do with the lack of resources. They are taught that crop failure is caused by AGW, when in many countries the 0.8c rise and extra CO2 has increased food and forest growth.

      For many of them it is a new religion, replacing the Christian or other faiths their elders may have had. Many young people like to live in crowded cities and so long as their credit card holds out are able to live happily by renting and entertaining themselves. They are not troubled by their inablity to buy their house and do not make the link to the rising net population and lack of new homes.

      They have never been taught about the value of Parliament or the proud history of our country. They think the European Parliament is a better alternative and do not realise that we will have less power to change anything. They would rather work selling coffee or clothes than in a steelworks and don’t mind heavy industry moving to Asia and are grateful for EU policy.

      Trying to persuade them otherwise is futile. They think we are living in the past. The best way to make them think again is to advertise Dave saying he would like to see the EU expand to the Urals and list the extra ‘stans they could visit. Many of them realise he is not to be trusted and may have a problem being on the same side.

    • James Matthews
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Eighteen to twenty-four year olds resident in England have had anything up to twenty years of an education system and two major broadcasters which have both subtlety and unsubtly and relentlessly purveyed the following messages:

      1. Internationalism good, nationalism (especially English nationalism) bad.

      2. Nazism, its ideology and consequences worst and most brutal anthropogenic cataclysm in human history (possibly true, though Genghis Khan, Mao and Stalin might be strong contenders for the title) and anyone of European origin who shows any preference for their own ethnic group and culture or the integrity and independence of their historic homeland is little, if at all, better than a Nazi.

      3. If you are English you have nothing to be proud of and should defer to the sensitivities of every culture but your own,

      4. Young people are more moral and wiser that the middle aged or old who have learned nothing from experience (unless they share the views and beliefs we, your educators and television editors, now commend to you).

      5. Before the EU, notwithstanding a vast empire and subsequently Commonwealth and two global wars, no one in Britain experienced or understood anything much about the rest of the world.

      The results we now see are unsurprising. What is surprising is that so many eventually see through what they have been pressured to believe.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      @MikeP; Perhaps it is just that the average 18-24s age group don’t think like ‘older’ generations do, to the youth of today WW1 and WW2 are Great Granddads history lesson, and anyway, “the UK has been a part of the EEC/EU for ever, hasn’t it?”…

      “I want my kids and grandchildren to grow up in a safe, successful self-governing democracy that’s free to continue its proud history of global commerce, standing up for what’s right and against those who threaten our freedom.”

      Say that to a 18-24 year old, without any further qualification, and you are describing the EU to them – to many the likes of ISIL are the threats to our freedoms and democracy, not the EU! Not forgetting that some might also have a very jaundice view the free market and capitalism. You and I have a lifetimes experience to make judgements against, the 18-24 age group have 10 to 15 years of reliable memories.

  20. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Trump spoke about US negotiators and being weak at negotiation. Funny that? NOT!

  21. ChrisS
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I find it hard to imagine that anyone watching recent news programs, even on the BBC, can have been impressed to see the leader of our Country flying all over Europe grovelling and begging for “concessions” over who and who we should not be allowed to pay our own taxpayer’s money to in benefits.

    As you say, our Great Leader didn’t even ask for the Blumberg provisions and, having carefully read everything in the media on what is being discussed, what is on offer is a complete joke, it is laughably weak. Cameron has been pushed far away from his original position on benefits which in itself, we were told would be the answer to reducing migration !

    Well it never was any kind of answer, was it ?

    While we remain within the EU we who post here all know that the introduction of Osborne’s Living Wage will trigger a huge new influx of migrants before the end of this parliament.

    To quote Ronald Regan, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

    There is only one way for us to go. The stakes have never been higher and we have to hope that the vast majority of voters, who don’t follow these matters, can be persuaded to join us despite the tsunami of fear about to be unleashed by the remain campaign.

  22. Old Albion
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    JR, you can see the truth. I can see the truth. Most posters on this blog can see the truth. Yet still ‘remain’ look likely to win. The truth needs to come out into the public domain loud and clear.

    I see Madam Sturgeon has announced if Scotland votes to ‘remain’ and the rest of the (dis)UK votes ‘leave’ She will hold another Scottish independence referendum. What better reason for England to vote ‘leave’

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      like it!

    • Jerry
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      @Old Albion; “[Nicola] Sturgeon has announced if Scotland votes to ‘remain’ and the rest of the (dis)UK votes ‘leave’ She will hold another Scottish independence referendum.”

      An idle threat I suspect, Scotland voted to stay in the UK with the knowledge that there would be a UK wide Brexit vote and that there was an above evens chance that the result would be a Brexit, Scotland needs the UK more than it needs the EU – even more so if world wide oil & gas well-head prices stay low, which they will do, perhaps not as low as they are currently but above a certain point Fracking is again profitable.

  23. ChrisS
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Reading the Telegraph report this morning on the planning going on among the 27 to significantly water down the Tusk proposals even further at the summit, I wonder if Cameron really will have the courage to walk away on Friday ?

    It seems to me that the only way he can regain any credibility with the electorate is to tell the 27 that their version of the deal is not good enough and demand further talks otherwise he will be forced to recommend we vote to leave.

    Nothing less seems likely to produce a deal anything like the Tusk document and the alternative of taking the few crumbs the 27 have left on the table will be even more humiliating for him.

  24. Magelec
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The big problem with Cameron, Osborne and the like is that they have never had to fight for anything in their lives. They have never had to make the many decisions that most people (especially those with families) have to make. They are good talkers but cannot manage. There are plenty of good talkers but no good managers in the NHS, but that’s another story. Cameron and his entourage have demonstrated that they do not know how to negotiate and play hard ball from a very strong position. The Conservative party (only the MPs I believe) have much to blame for electing a bloke like Cameron as their leader. The MPs were taken in by a PR man and couldn’t see it. A large proportion of the population haven’t a clue about the EU and will either abstain or vote for no change; completely unaware of the final aims and destination of the EU. I pray that the outers win but if not it will be a tragedy for a once great country.

  25. Edward
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Once the ‘deal’ is inked the focus will move rapidly away from it and to the core point of whether we stay in the EU or leave it. The choreography and the details of how we got to the ‘deal’ will not be that important (save for the obvious lesson that the UK is already largely impotent but most commentators will not speak of that). The public will, rightly, then focus on the binary point of ‘in’ or ‘leave’.

    Sadly Project Fear will kick in big time and especially played by the remain side. It is easy for them to play the status quo game and really hard for the leave side to paint a positive vision of the future in the absence of concrete precedents etc.

    But we will not be voting for the status quo. If and when the ‘in’ side wins (and sadly I think this will be the case due to fear) the EU masters will tighten up and proceed with their grand multi-decade project as they will not have the UK threatening a referendum. That route will be closed for a very long time.

    More and more of the people I know have already come over (or stayed) to the remain side – mostly due to the fear of the unknown.

  26. Bert Young
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    No-one expects Cameron will obtain a self-respecting watertight deal ; of course he will claim he has and will make all kinds of statements to this effect .When he reports to the Cabinet I hope he will be non-plussed by certain members who will make it clear that he has achieved nothing .

    On Saturday morning we will see the launch of the campaign to save this country from a bureaucracy steeped in the foolish belief that Europe is a cohesive unit . The many differences that do exist in culture , geography and economics are well beyond any central form of control ; it is these very differences that have created life styles that we all admire and seek out in our travels .

    As for this country our independence is at the very core of our lives ; it has been developed over centuries and defended with millions of lives lost . At the very heart of our democracy is the making and keeping of the laws that govern us ; when this is no longer true we are lost . We must defend our sovereignty and make every effort in the campaign to win over the undecided ; there is not a lot of time to do this – Britain outside of the EU is best !.

  27. Kenneth
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Well, I guess the conclusion we can draw is that, whether it is a sham negotiation or not, the Remain case is damaged either way.

    The way things are going with the economy and our spendthrift government we will need to leave the eu in order to use the money saved from not paying subs to rescue our economy.

  28. Colin Hart
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    As they say in adland, what is needed is a clear, simple proposition for Leave.

    Let’s hope someone is working on it.

    • Kenneth
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      The proposition I would suggest is:

      1. Let’s have a national debate on how to spend the money that was being paid to the EU

      2. Q. What does Brexit look like? A. Canada without tariffs

      3. Install proper border controls on exit

    • NickW
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      A vote to Remain is a vote to surrender; there will be no going back, this is Britain’s last chance.

      If Cameron ends up associated with the permanent surrender of British Sovereignty, he will be remembered alright; as a traitor.

      After a remain vote the UK will have no bargaining power and the Country as we know it will be slowly destroyed. Two world wars fought for nothing.

      Abject Surrender.

      • NickW
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Logically speaking, a “Remain” vote should be followed by the permanent dissolution of Parliament, because the Country will have stated that our Government will in future be from Brussels; what little power remains with Parliament will soon be gone.

        The Country will not wish to pay the MPs who gave away our Sovereignty to sit and do nothing; we won’t be able to afford it. Similarly, clashes between British Judges and EU Courts can easily be removed by abandoning our legal system and allowing Brussels to run that too.

        A separate Scottish legal system will also have to go; the rule of law must be standardised across Europe; that’s the future that Sturgeon wants for Scotland.

    • NickW
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Colin Hart;

      If you are in a bus which is heading for a cliff, Stay is NOT the safe choice; you need to leave.

  29. ian
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Not under pressure, it business as usual.
    Israel leader in Germany yesterday to give orders and to sign off on six subs pay for by the west, I think you call it aid budget.

  30. graham1946
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Does Cameron even know what the word ‘fundamental’ means?

    No mention of CAP, Membership contributions, Sovereignty, Borders, or even of having straight accounts which an auditor can pass.

    It’s what we Cameron sceptics always reckoned – he had no intention of having the referendum and was shocked when he won the election and had to cobble up something which looked like a negotiation, but which would not frighten his masters in Brussels. How he keeps a straight face is amazing – a born comedian. Pity he’s not a born Statesman.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Like it!

  31. Atlas
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Well put John,

    I think the biggest challenge is demonstrating to the 18-24 year olds that their lifestyle has only become about because of the sacrifices of their grand-parents and their great grandparents. Freedom meant something to them – and many did not return – yet to the present young generation the First World War and the Second World War are now just distant history book entries – a bit like Napoleon’s Imperial actions to even the oldest of us alive nowadays.

    How to convince them that yes, war is terrible and to be avoided, but not at the cost of the abject surrender of all our freedoms. We’ve been here before with Chamberlain. I doubt that the ‘trendy lefty’ views of some of our young would have survived long if Hitler had won. Freedom is too important to give up.

    The EU pretends to support diversity – but its “harmonising” actions say otherwise. It proves to be yet another Franco-German Empire in the making.

    • Craig Dent
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      “the wasted lives of our servicemen given freely for the country they love”

      I am 72 years old.

      My Father’s and Grandfather’s generations’ sacrifices in 2 World Wars also gave the arrogant Tusk, Junkers et al their Countries back and ostensibly saved them from a life beneath the heel of a Jack Boot. Plus ca change!

      American General Pershing was against the Armistice in 1918, insisting that they should push on to Berlin “Or we’ll have to do it all over again.”

      etc ed

  32. Qubus
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I was out and about speaking to a number of highly-educated friends and acquaintances. I get the feeling that the general view is that we should remain in the EU. I suspect that the opinion is, as the old aphorism says: “stick with nurse for fear of something worse”. That is clearly not helped by the apparent lack of coherence amongst the leave group.

    I also suspect that the comments of Prince William will have a strong influence. I must say that I am disappointed that a member of the Royal family should to make such a statement at this stage.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      He made no statement; the media completely misrepresented what he said, which is pretty disgraceful as it could damage the standing of the monarchy.

    • hefner
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      I have listened several times to what the Prince said. I think it is a case of journalists with their own agenda putting spin on his declarations. And unfortunately, some in the public do not bother to get to the original declaration, but take it as the gospel from their favourite newspaper.

  33. William Long
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I cannot understand how Mr Cameron can contemplate holding a referendum while his so called deal is subject to the vote of MEPs. Is our Parliament unable to stop him?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Dear William–Verily we need to know what would happen if MEPs or whoever decide after a Referendum vote to Remain that the Terms just voted on are unsatisfactory (ie too nice to the UK as some might say) or so-called “illegal” or whatever, and that therefore said Terms do not apply. The worst of it is that if whoever call the shots (The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ??) decide the Terms are “illegal”, there is every chance that under all the nonsense about what is or is not legal these days (which Cameron of course reckons he can ignore), they will be “right”. What a can of worms.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Yes. The order setting the date for referendum has to be approved by a resolution in each of the two Houses.

  34. David In Wokingham
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I think the Prime Minister’s multiple city break round Europe has been an eye opener in that it has shown to me that a large chunk of Europe and Business think of the UK. We are just one big piggy bank to be shared out.

    Eastern Europeans love coming here because they can do a few years work here then go home with cash in their pockets and all the time leaving their kids back home and get CB. The City and Big Business loves Europe because it means they can suppress wages and not train staff as if they want to expand they can get extra people in from Portugal , Poland, Romania etc. The housebuilders love the EU because they can watch margins on the restricted UK house supply go ever upward, etc and ad nauseum. As always the EU is showing itself to be just one big gravy train for the few.

    In all of this, the UK citizen, i.e. the people who sovereignty actually belongs to , are expected to lump it.

    The PM seems to be making a contemptible deal. He will lose my respect if he actually recommends a “Stay” vote. I’ll be voting leave.

  35. The Active Citizen
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    @ Eeyore and everyone

    “What vision has the Leave camp to offer to Ms Emma Thompson, and the multitude of political ingénues like her (broadly the young, urban and educated), to convince them that there is something better on offer than a return to a misunderstood and unwanted past?”

    I couldn’t agree more Eeyore, except that I’m not sure about the ‘educated’ part. If I’d organised my businesses and their strategies the way the Leave campaigns have done so far, I’d be bankrupt.

    I could give many examples backing up your full post my friend, but there’s no point. I’ve said on here before that we’re going to lose 2:1 regardless of what the polls say, unless we do something. The important thing is that we now only have four months to try to turn things around and this coming week might be the formative one for many people.

    JR attracts one of most interesting group of pro-UK anti-EU commenters on the web. This says something about JR and the quality of his diary articles I think.

    If all of us started focusing on producing clear, simple messages addressing the major issues influencing the general public – rather than us flexing our intellectual muscles – and then sent them to the GO Movement, I bet some of the pieces or messages would start being used. (Okay, some commenters might want to send their thoughts to Vote Leave which is fine if they really want…)

    For example, early this morning I worked on something to counter the ridiculous ‘Security’ message which Mr Cameron is now pumping out. I produced 3 bullet points about our so-called security in the EU, followed by 3 bullet points about real security in a strong and independent Britain. Aimed at 30-60 somethings, it’s called “My Family’s Safety & Security”. It debunks the myths rapidly.

    I then backed it up with a fuller piece containing 10 bullet points on each, for those who might want to read more as the Referendum date approaches. It might also be a useful ‘crib sheet’ for anyone having to speak.

    Whenever JR’s been interviewed on TV/radio recently, he’s been crisp, authoritative, and knows his facts. Alas the same can’t be said for all representatives of our side, even if they may be enthusiastic. I wonder if they even have short briefing notes on each question they might face?

    Anyway, I’m going to try to do my bit to help.

    Reply There are briefings on the various leave sites

  36. lojolondon
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    The Laughable thing is that we see the Prime Minister of Britain jogging all round Europe, going to every country, no matter how insignificant, with his begging bowl, just hoping to get a small concession, just a small amount of self-determination – “just to show the people back home how effective I am and how democratic the EU is” – and returning again and again, empty handed. A better advert for the LEAVE campaign is hard to imagine. Unfortunately the MSM and BBC will never explain the situation that way, so 90% of Britons get a positive spin on the ‘news’ that things are going well….

  37. Shieldsman
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    What Mr Cameron asked for and what he gets is a red herring. It simply does not produce a reformed EU in anyway. It remains the bureaucratic, oligarchy, with pretensions to be the EUSSR, lumbering on, bound by its treaties and the necessity to seek approval of all 28 member States.

    The 28th part of a red card does not return sovereignty to the Westminster Parliament. Our Government is powerless to refuse to implement a Brussels directive.

    The opt out of ‘ever closer political union’ is the most problematic for France.

    Richard North: From the list of successes, therefore, scratch “ever closer union”

  38. Maureen Turner
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “Is the EU really under pressure”. Yes. The main concern in Brussels is twofold giving enough to satisfy our PM to keep the UK on side with its £ 50 million per day membership fee but more importantly ensuring no contagion from a UK Leave vote.

    Sadly, Mr. Cameron has zilch negotiating skills, either that or he wanted to give Mr. Tusk et al an easy ride. I opt for the latter. He illustrated this clearly to all concerned when at at the start of these never ending discussions he stated he wanted the UK to remain a member of the Club.

    What he advised in his Bloomberg speech re concessions would have constituted something worthwhile, ie., a reformed EU of sorts but even his initial requests were pathetic never mind the watering down that’s gone on in recent weeks.

    We haven’t heard much lately about associate membership but I won’t be surprised if this is now to be announced to a grand fanfare of trumpets all wrapped up in ribbons and bows with little inside.

    In the last few days we have been advised that tariffs could be put on our exports, we would be cold shouldered trade wise by other countries and at the other end of the spectrum there is the EU falling apart should we vote to leave. Yes, the EU is worried – very worried – and so should we be with a PM nothing short of chameleon.

  39. agricola
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Playing with your title I would suggest that it is the EU that is under pressure at the moment and for the foreseeable. Those that run the EU have put themselves in a myopic situation with regard to the member countries because there is no direct democratic connection between the ruled and those who rule. To give a practical comparison, it is akin to trying to judge the setting point of jam without the aid of a thermometer. Call it the democratic deficit.

    I think it will be the EU that will be under terminal pressure if and when we leave.

    1.
    They lose £12.0 Billion PA. and rising. The UK is number two in terms of contributions.
    2.
    The Greek crisis has not gone away, it is in limbo until the last tranche of money runs out.
    3.
    The German economy and banks in particular are ill positioned to further support Euro problem countries like Greece, Italy , Portugal, and Spain.
    4.
    Unrest over the German handling of the migrant crisis and it’s negative effect in Sweden, Germany and Hungary on crime levels will have negative political effect upon the EU. It has already brought the future of Mrs Merkel into question in Germany.
    5.
    Growing political unrest in France, Portugal, and Greece of parties in opposition to the direction of the EU, and it’s contempt for democracy.

    I anticipate that at some future time the Euro will shrink in area to a number of Northern European countries with like economies. The Mediterranean countries will sooner or later revert to their own currencies and control of their own economies. It might make sense for the Irish to consider their options at this point and perhaps join Sterling, but this is pure speculation.

    One thing is for sure, no sensible person would vote to remain in such a volatile gathering of nations with ambitions beyond their means.

  40. JoeSoap
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Well perhaps the real chance was lost by a large chunk of the population not realising a year or more ago that this was likely to happen, and voting for Cameron as our safeguard and protector. It was never going to happen. The arguments should have been waged 3 or 4 years ago, the Tory in-outers “outed” then, UKIP grown to fight with half the Tory party on its side pre-2015, plus the strong 13-17% who realised what the real game was, even then.

    Sadly it was left until now, the last trench.

    • ChrisS
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      The alternative to electing Cameron was Miliband (E ) in No 10.
      Surely, JoeSoap, you are not saying that Miliband would have been the better option ?

      Cameron might well be less of a Conservative than most party members and supporters would like but he’s infinitely better than the alternatives that were on offer at the time of the General Election.

      The country picked the best of a bad lot.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        My argument is that it needn’t have been Cameron in the first place had numerous “outer” Conservative MPs joined UKIP to engage in this fight a few years ago, when many on this site decided that Cameron would never make the grade here. This was all too predictable, and laudable though our host’s efforts are, it’s too late to fight the enemy when you’ve carried their banner into battle.

        In different circumstances, Cameron would have been forced to quit in shame at 50% of his MP s deserting as did Carswell. Sadly like our host they clung on to the Titanic too long… Just because the Tory party was afloat didn’t mean that it won’t eventually hit the iceberg.

        This Cameron referendum promise was yet another con, I’m afraid. Even if he was able (which has always been in doubt) he never had the slightest intention of serious negotiation. He isn’t serious about reform anywhere else either. NHS, taxes… it’s all traingulation – be “nice” enough to keep the lefties onside but “nasty” enough not to lose the likes of our host.

        Sadly it works

        Reply MY staying with the Conservative party along with colleagues has got us the referendum – so now lets use it!
        .

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      A significant chunk of the population voted Tory precisely because they wanted Cameron to go and sort out our problems with the EU and then ask us what we thought about it in a referendum. Unfortunately only about a third of them were around the last time a Prime Minister did that.

    • hefner
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Difficult not to say that this is not linked to the FPTP voting system, which gives an advantage to the “last century parties”.
      And yes, I know, JR recently repeated it, last referendum on the voting system decided not to change anything. But isn’t it the role of a politician to look (a bit) ahead of the public and see what might be the best for democracy in this country in a few years’time. After all, isn’t it what is presently done with the EU?

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Well put, Joe.

      We’re staying in, I’m afraid.

  41. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I think the best answer to your headline question would be –

    “In reality there is no EU deal worth talking about”.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Agreed Denis, but on the other hand our PM reckons it is of such importance that even if some of it doesn’t fly he leaves nothing out.

  42. NickW
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Juncker has said that “There is no plan B;—- Britain will stay in the European Union”.

    The EU will disregard a referendum result in favour of leaving in the same way that they disregarded Greece’s referendum result.

    We will not be allowed to leave, and that’s an order.

    • peter davies
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      if the EU was so good why would we be having this debate?

  43. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I just read a report commissioned by star fund manager Neil Woodford on the purely economic impact of Brexit. The conclusion was the financial impact will be close to zero, the one effect may be a temporary short-term weakening of the pound which will boost exporters. Interesting conclusion, I was expecting him to predict financial Armageddon in the manner of some of our Euro-enthusiast capitalists.

  44. DaveM
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Reading the comments here on a regular basis, I am struck by the bitterness regarding the PM’s lack of concessions and his increased grovelling to the EU.

    Given that most here seem to want to Leave, I would have thought that the less he gets and the more humiliated he is the better. People aren’t stupid and won’t be fooled by Cameron’s rhetoric and smoke screens, and there will be plenty of time to get the message across that actually these “reforms” are non-binding, reversible, and insignificant when it comes to addressing the majority of things currently annoying people about the EU.

    To that end, if I was producing Leave info, I would simply say the choice is:

    1) Vote In and be in a USoE in 10 years with no say over your own destiny, or

    2) Vote Out and start looking to a bright future as an independent Sovereign nation.

    Pretty simple really.

    • old salt
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      Far sooner than 10 years I suspect and in the Euro with all that entails, financing their bailouts et al.

  45. Sean
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    When the Leave win this referendum, Con-man-eron has to quit, along with all his stay-in minsters. A leadership contest has to take place shortly after to be ready for the next general election.

  46. The PrangWizard
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Goodness knows how many times in the past two or three years Mr Redwood praised Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, and by extension Cameron himself.

    I have said many times that Cameron betrays everyone in the end.

    Will you admit Mr Redwood that he has betrayed you too?

  47. Graham Wood
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    The EU Commission and all it’s bureaucrats seem to be under the delusion that they have some infallible “right” to govern and assert hegemony over nation states – a view which stems from the arrogance of the unelected.

    We did not throw out the absurd notion of the “divine right of kings” to rule which resulted in our Civil war when Charles 1st lost Crown and head, only for it to return in the form of an EU oligarchy – subject to no real democratic control or British electorate.

    Time enough now for many of our ignorant political class (our host honourably excepted) to read some British history.

  48. Original Richard
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    “Some cynical Eurosceptics think this all a choreographed dispute to make it look as if the UK has won something worth having.”….If all this is stage managed, then it serves to help the Leave campaign more than the Stay in group”.

    The choreography exists to enable a second referendum to be won by the EU.

    For the first referendum the EU are playing hardball.

    If the UK votes to remain in the EU then virtually nothing will have been given away to the UK and the EU will have won hands down.

    If, however, the UK does vote to leave, then, as on previous such occasions, the EU will insist upon a second referendum.

    This time the EU will accept Mr. Cameron’s extremely modest requests and Mr. Cameron will be able to hold a second referendum saying he has won a great victory and has totally reformed the EU.

  49. John McEvoy
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s never been about Britain.
    .
    It’s all about what politicians want for themselves.
    .
    Power, money, Status.

  50. Mike Wilson
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t you use a less annoying Captcha? One that only uses either letters or numbers. Very annoying to enter a comment and then lose it because it’s impossible to distinguish between the letter o and the number zero.

  51. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Guess who said*:

    “If you treat people like fools, you don’t deserve to run the country let alone win an election”

    Does the same hold for a referendum?

    But there will be a simple choice: either you vote to stay in the EU on almost exactly the same terms as now, and heading in the same direction as now, or you get your country devastated.

    Easy enough to decide, I would have thought.

    * The answer is here, if anybody has a problem recalling it:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7025958.stm

  52. getahead
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    At least there is no longer any doubt about which way to vote.

  53. peter davies
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The whole thing is a dressed up charade. As if benefits were the issue, when you look at benefits what is probably paid as a percentage of overall expenditure is trivial, benefits/migration are one of many symptoms of being an EU member rather than an issue itself.

    In reality we don’t even need to be part of the single market if it comes with all these bells and whistles, I would have thought a bi-lateral FTA would do where we are only obliged to comply with goods/services that are sold to the EU.

    Time to hold that in out referendum and hope the UK people have the sense to vote out – its a bad club for the UK, as with any bad club if the majority of its members are happy to go along with its rules and one member finds so much wrong then its best for that member to head for the exit and leave the rest to get on with it.

  54. stred
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    The Irish PM is on the BBC news channel this evening advising us to stay in the EU. He may be hoping that Irish citizens living in the UK will vote to stay. In the event of a close vote their numbers could swing it. Of course UK citizens are not allowed to vote in Irish referenda. Cameron will be glad to have his support.

  55. Phil_Richmond
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood – I honestly think of any political leader who has more appalling judgment than Cameron. The more decisions that he takes regarding this referendum the better.

    However when it is over the remaining real conservative MPs need to show some spine and remove him asap.

  56. Margaret
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Any notions of loyalty to those who want to take us over , hate us or make us subservient should have disappeared like a bad dream. The only way is out.

  57. Alexis
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    There is a battle for people’s minds with regard to what the EU actually IS, and actually DOES – vs what people think the EU is, and does.

    We may be armed with facts, such as these – but the question is how to get others to see them, and understand their implications.

    How can we get through to those who support the EU on the basis of what they fondly imagine it to be? Or worse, on the basis of peer pressure?

  58. Androcles
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    There is clearly a huge disconnect between the political and business establishments – who have done well from the eu – and the general population who have their living standards go down in the last 15 years and are now seeing their medical services, schools and housing put under enormous pressure from eu migation. If your doctor is in Harley Street, you send your children to Eton or Rodean and your only housing problem is counting how many you have, uncontrolled immigration does not seem a great problem. The establishment have tried to put the frighteners on with every democratic reform since 1832. The Chambers of Commerce petitioned parliament to try and stop female suffrage warning of economic disaster. General living standards have always gone up wifh greater democracy and I see no reason to believe that this would not occur with our departure from the EU.

  59. matthu
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    My guess?

    Cameron will walk away from a deal this week. He will reckon has no reason to strap himself to the wing of a burning, tumbling aircraft.

    Of course, not realising that he is in just as much trouble if he remains jammed in the cockpit.

  60. Ken Moore
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I think Mr Redwood’s under-estimates Mr Cameron’s capacity for incompetence. He judges Cameron by his own standards of decency which is foolish…

    I believe this whole ‘negotiation’ will be stage managed from start to finish so lets not delude ourselves.

    The whole re-negotiation was designed to ‘neutralise’ the right wing’ of the Conservative party’ and permanently ‘dock’ the Uk in the Eu. That was Cameron’s cynical calculation…we can only hope he has got this badly wrong.
    The Bloomberg speech has been proven to be a completely hollow and a con trick to deflect pretend he was on the sceptics side – some of us were saying this at the time but we were told to ‘wait and see’. Cynicism over Mr Cameron is hardly ever misplaced……

  61. Peter Martin
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    “Anyway a new migrant has every right to school places for children and free NHS treatment from the day they arrive.”

    Yes, of course they do and so they should have. What are we going to do otherwise? Keep children uneducated and untreated for any illness?

    Migrants too should pay the same income tax rates and have the same tax allowances as everyone else too. At one time those allowances were increased according to the number of dependent relatives, including children, of the tax payer When child benefit replaced the previous system, those allowances were incorporated into the child benefit which, incidentally, is an argument against having them means tested.

    In other words migrants should have the same benefits as everyone else too.

    We should have no quarrel with migrants, providing they are obeying our laws which they generally do.

    Our quarrel is with the EU for reasons already well explained.

    Reply I too want migrants to be well treated with access to housing, healthcare and benefits. Because I want this I also recognise the UK needs to be able to control the numbers by settling its own border policy, as we can only expand these facilities and provide this financial support for sensible numbers.

    • Original Richard
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      “Anyway a new migrant has every right to school places for children and free NHS treatment from the day they arrive.”

      Yes, of course they do and so they should have. What are we going to do otherwise? Keep children uneducated and untreated for any illness?

      What about migrants paying to use private schools and private medicine ?

      The UK voters need to realise that unless the current mass immigration of low wage workers is curbed there will eventually be insufficient tax generated for our current generous welfare benefits and schooling and “free” NHS.

  62. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    “The UK wants to be part of the so called Single Market.”

    Only up to a point. Forced harmonisation of goods produced is OK up to a point, although the EC overdoes it. What is not acceptable is the EC controlling UK social, employment and safety law.

    The deal that appeals to me is the CETA agreement negotiated between the EU and Canada in 2014. Under it, industrial imports from Canada will be subject to a few low tariffs, diminishing to zero over 7 years. This seems a small price to pay for control over our own laws and the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries.

    It isn’t a question of Commonwealth preference. There is a whole world out there.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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