So which EU country demands tariffs on its exports to the UK?

Geert Bourgeois, the Flemish Prime Minister recently said:

“There is a growing consensus in EU capitals that it would be fatal mistake to try to ‘punish’ Britain… More and more people now agree that there has to be a ‘soft Brexit.’

“I can’t imagine a situation where we have more barriers on trade in both directions. You [Britain] are our fourth biggest export market. It is in our mutual interest to find a solution, and the majority of the EU now agrees that anything other than a soft Brexit would have a huge cost.

“We will be able to negotiate a trade agreement. It may be sui generis but it can be done.”

He speaks for more and more on the continent, building on what the President of the European parliament said about wanting warm relations with the UK post the vote.

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74 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Indeed. But the UK should show how successful a country can be with sensible but far smaller government, cheaper energy a bonfire of red tape, lower simpler taxes and outside the dire EU straitjacket.

    The question is have we got a sensible government? Not much sign of it yet. Just a pause on Hinckley C and a tiny hint on Grammar schools. Why do they not just get on with it? Why on earth have they not scrapped HS2 yet or made a decision on Heathwick. Why no statement on the move lower simpler taxes and cuts in the endless government waste? Nothing has been done to undo the vast damage the foolish Osborne did. His dire side kick in project fear Mr Carney is still in office, why?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      And they have scrapped Osborne’s new City Mayor proposals I suppose, but is it still not very much. At they very least they they indicate a real & sensible direction of travel. That alone would be a huge boost as was the departure of Osborne.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    A sensible comment, and a practical realisation perhaps that Tariffs would hurt them rather more than they would hurt us.

    Are they at last beginning to see the light.?

    Only time will tell.

  3. petermartin2001
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Just to play the role of devil’s advocate for a moment I might just say that up until now it has been very generous of the EU to provide the UK with a much greater value of goods and services than they’ve received from us in return. In 2015 Germany alone sent us €89 billion euros worth of stuff and was happy to accept only €38 billion worth of stuff in return. Thank you very much Germany!

    So perhaps we do need to be punished? Germany should perhaps say:

    “Enough is Enough! We aren’t going to do this any longer. In future you lot are going to have to make more stuff for us instead. So we aren’t going to supply as many BMWs and as much German beer. Instead we are going to import more Nissans from your UK factories, more jet engines from Rolls Royce, more Cheddar cheese, and more of your real ales and whatever else you guys still make”

    It would be a harsh blow to our living standards but who could blame them? 🙂

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Peter, I was getting ready for a rendition of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ in honour of the EU when I remembered that we did actually pay German businesses for the goods we received, didn’t we?

      The Germans were happy to accept sterling in return for their goods. So the recent fall in the value of the pound may well do your job for you. If the exchange rate stays as now, the Germans will be rather less happy to sell us their BMWs and beer than they were, but rather happier to buy our goods. For instance, living in London, I have noticed that tourists don’t seem to have been frightened away from the land of BREXIT since that ‘day of infamy’ in June – rather the opposite in fact.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted August 31, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Yes Stephen we do pay our German suppliers in pounds. But the problem is that Germany as whole doesn’t spend even half of them. Instead the Bundesbank, which is just a branch of the ECB these days, buys up Treasury Bonds in large amounts.

        That creates debt on the part of the UK. That wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t worry about it but ‘reducing the deficit’ is always going to be a recurring theme for Conservative Govt. All that spending cuts and tax rises (like VAT at 20%) achieve is a reduced level of economic activity leading to a severely recessed economy.

        So either we fix the trade deficit , and it will take more than a 10% devaluation, or we learn to stop worrying about the budget deficit quite so much.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/26/theresa-may-will-trigger-brexit-negotiations-without-commons-vot/

    “Theresa May will trigger Brexit negotiations without Commons vote”

    But that’s only when she can do so without being in contempt of court.

    Please, please, Tory MPs who really want us to leave the EU, please don’t join the diehard Remainers in objecting to this. Most of the public do not understand the legal niceties and some Leavers agreeing with Remainers that the government should not put in the Article 50 notice is giving them aid and comfort and helping them to keep us in the EU.

  5. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Of course most people are pragmatic but that doesn’t extend to Juncker and his cohorts.
    To them politics trumps rationality. We must be punished and turned into a failed state for having the temerity to upset the grand project.
    Problem is we don’t want to follow their script.
    BTW my new Honda has arrived. My bit post Brexit.

  6. Mark B
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Time will tell.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    “It may be sui generis but it can be done.”

    The EU describes itself as “sui generis” – of its own kind, unique – and that is just as well for the world, because imagine if their crazy idea that nobody can trade without accepting unlimited and uncontrollable immigration from their trading partners was to be widely adopted … in fact just imagine that when you went shopping the shop assistants refused to serve you unless you agreed that they could come and live in your house.

    And just to be clear, this idiocy was built into the 1957 Treaty of Rome accepted by Heath, and it was not just “workers” but “persons” in general, see Article 3:

    http://aei.pitt.edu/37139/1/EEC_Treaty_1957.pdf

    “For the purposes set out in Article 2, the activities of the Community shall include, as provided in this Treaty and in accordance with the timetable set out therein:

    (a) the elimination, as between Member States, of customs duties and of quantitative restrictions on the import and export of goods, and of all other measures having equivalent effect;

    (b) the establishment of a common customs tariff and of a common commercial policy towards third countries;

    (c) the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons, services and capital … ”

    If it really did come down to a straight choice between regaining complete control over our immigration policy, or remaining part of the EU’s Single Market with that barmy fundamental principle of unrestricted free movement of persons, then the inviolable red line for the UK government must be to regain complete control over our immigration policy, even if that did lead to all concerned, them as well as us, having to accept some restrictions on trade. We can always take our trade deficit elsewhere and deal with trading partners who do not expect trade and immigration to be indissolubly linked.

  8. acorn
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Geert will be pleased you have upgraded him to “Prime Minister”.

  9. oldtimer
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    This quote also appeared on an article on Cap-X here:
    http://capx.co/in-europe-national-interest-rules-supreme/

    It seems that it is the Commission that wants tariffs, because it gets the income and because it wants to make Brexit difficult to discourage others from choosing to exit the EU.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      The Commission has no financial interest in tariffs; if it receives more in customs duties then it receives less in member state contributions.

      • oldtimer
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that information; I was unaware that was the case.

  10. agricola
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Looks like intelligent realism is surfacing, but anticipate a negative response from those who see our departure as an insult to their form of utopia. It does not require much working out. Leave well alone anything that is working to the mutual benefit of those involved and only plan change where it is not. Immigration, Fisheries and the deportation of criminals come to mind.

    No need to interfere in any way with the lives of Europeans working or retired in the UK nor that of UK citizens in Europe. Let the reciprocal health arrangements continue. We are not delving the outer extremes of the Universe looking for profound realisation. Only those with a vested interst will see the need to make it more complex than a sixth form project.

    Finally government needs to be totally open with the electorate that have given them the mandate. There is no justification for deals behind closed doors.

  11. bigneil
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    We will not have to bother about trading with the 500m people over the other side of the channel – in a few years the 500m will be THIS side of the channel.

  12. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Yes, let’s hope those views win the day, for it is hard to see them as anything other than beneficial all round; but Juncker and others want the view to prevail that we are “deserters” who must be shot at dawn. Somehow getting him symbolically thrown out would be a jolly good idea. Again and again the sooner something actually happens on Brexit the better, so those dreaming for instance of an EU army (hardly meaningful without us) have no choice but to accept that we are Out.

  13. Ralph Musgrave
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The theoretical basis for Geert Bourgeois’s point is actually explained in basic economics text books. To illustrate, and taking the simplest possible cases, assume there are just two countries in the world, A & B, and assume they trade with each other. Then A imposes tariffs or any other sort of restriction on imports from B, then it’s not just B that is hit: A in fact shoots itself in the foot to exactly the same extent.

    Reason is that in the long run, the external payments position of each country must balance. E.g. if A takes $X less stuff from B, then one way to ensure external positions balance is for B to take $X less from A.

    • acorn
      Posted August 29, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Or, much more likely. “B” has found a way of making widgets much cheaper than “A” can make widgets. The citizens of A live in a neo-liberal globalised market economy. They stop buying A type widgets and start importing B type widgets; consequently, A type widget workers on verge of redundancy; local MP in danger of losing votes wholesale.

      Government imposes an import tariff to make B type widgets just as expensive to buyers in A as A type widgets. The government will justify this move as an “anti-dumping” measure to protect A’s industry. Gin & Tonics all round.

      Import financial tariffs are 99% about protectionism, ask the USA. Non-financial tariff barriers are more subtle. Take the UK electricity market, a third more expensive at the wholesale level than the continent. Who do you think does not want more HVDC inter-connectors built to connect “Treasure Island” to the cheaper European market?

    • petermartin2001
      Posted September 3, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Its not just tariff barriers that need to be considered it is the effect of “competitive devaluations” too. Germany is determined to supply the ROW more goods and services that it receives in return which they do by using the euro rather than their own currency which would, no doubt, be valued higher by the forex markets.

      So, in effect Germany already has a large tariff barrier – just by another name. The proverbial “long run” may be a long time coming. Will their ” the external payments position” ever balance? They’d have to start spending their accumulated pounds and dollars for that to happen.

  14. Martin Conboy
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Tell it to Michael Barrier – assuming his appointment as Eu chief negotiator is allowed to stand.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      He hasn’t yet been appointed as EU chief negotiator.

  15. Nig l
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    And let us not forget that the current prime minister was part of the arrogant cabal that
    disassembled a completely opposite position. I continue to struggle with the concept of someone leading us whose judgement has been proved to be so wrong.

    • rose
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Her calculations all along have been confined to “What is going to get me into number ten?”

      Now she is there we should be able to hope that her spads will show some judgement on matters other than what will please the Guardian.

      If ever a PM had the chance to do the right thing, she has, as the opposition parties are in meltdown. But oh no, the advisers seems to be saying “steal their clothes.”

  16. Hilary
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    We do not want to leave one trade deal in order to set up another series of trade deals – let their be ordinary import and export duty on relevant items as there always was historically – so that the likes of the regressive VAT (at 20%) only affects those who purchase the imports – why should the poor subsidise the Mercedes buyers, for example?

    Let us regrow domestic industry organically – give the average UK person the opportunity to invest in their own stocks – and let us stop the farcical trades in currency which can bring a country to it’s knees and is always malevolent to the citizen –

    do that like this – tax all non-durable currency taxation at 25% – payable up front on the day of the transaction but all of that tax (minus say 1% transaction tax) would be returned on day 366. Allow a holiday transaction per individual of say £1,000 tax free

    this advance, returnable tax should also be applied to share/stock transactions – without it how can any country or company in a country trade with confidence? There are malevolent people, institutions, countries operating at ALL levels worldwide and these are the the ones who will cause material losses (deliberate or not) and commence inflation.

    It ONLY TAKES ONE COUNTRY TO START IT – why not the UK? Let’s restore decency to the world.

    If countries want to apply tariffs let them do it and then the domestic consumer has a choice

    I have written to to both Liam Fox and David Davis to get a full product identification system set up – but they aren’t actually interested in doing the right thng – in fact I am not convinced they are even working towards the true and real long-term benefits of leaving the filthy trade deal aka the EU for the UK and it’s people at all to be honest.

    The anatomy of trade deals is never, ever a benefit to the worker, the consumer or the country (as a whole) but merely to a few. We don’t want them.

    The people of the world don’t want them – just the tiniest percent and they should NOT be allowed to control the world’s trade and economies

  17. Hilary
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    there is no edit – the sentence “do that like this – tax all non-durable currency taxation at 25%” should have read

    ———— do that like this – tax all non-durable currency transactions at 25%

  18. William Long
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    This sounds like the voice of common sense and it will prevail in the end because it is in the interest of EU members that it does. That is to say it will prevail so long as our negotiators always have that point of vested interest in mind. I have a good deal more confidence in Mr Davis than in his predecessor at the table. M. Bourgeois does though refer to ‘a majority’ of EU members taking a sensible view, implying that there are still plenty who do not and to them must probably be added most of the bureaucracy so there is still the scope for the burning of an awful lot of midnight oil before we get an answer.

  19. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    “.. sui generis… ” . Uniquely, we Anglo-Saxons, speak the same language, sing from the same hymn sheet, as hundreds of millions of people throughout the English-speaking world. A knowledge of Old Latin helped when trading with Aulus Plautius in Roman Britain until he got the hang of speaking properly.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Appalling front page of the Express today:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/704415/instant-EU-exit-Tory-MPs-pressure-ditch-Brussels-good

    “New move for instant EU exit: Tory MPs pile on pressure to ditch Brussels for good”

    That should read:

    “Tory MPs line up with Tory peeress to try to prevent Brexit”.

    “Mr Redwood said: “Article 50 of the Treaty states clearly that ‘any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.’

    He added: “In the case of the UK this means passing an Act of Parliament.””

    Agreeing with Baroness Wheatcroft:

    http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/opinions/a-rebellion-in-the-lords-brexit-article-50-referendum

    “A rebellion in the Lords”

    “Across the Chamber, there is an overwhelming majority in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. The questions put to ministers in the weeks between the referendum and the summer recess made it clear that peers were not prepared to concede defeat and keep quiet about their qualms.”

    “The government position is that, through the exercise of the Royal prerogative – a wonderfully British constitutional nicety – the prime minister has the right to turn a referendum vote that was merely advisory into an action with huge ramifications. Pannick argues that there should be an Act of Parliament to activate Article 50.”

    “Steering a Bill through both Houses would be much harder. There are just 243 Conservative peers out of a total of 798. While among them there are some vociferous outers, including former Cabinet members Nigel Lawson, Norman Tebbit, Norman Lamont and Michael Forsyth, there are many equally vocal Tories for “Remain.” With no constituents to fear and a conviction that remaining in the EU and helping it reform would be a much better option than plunging into the unknown, they would defy the whip, which cannot inflict the same pain as it does in the Commons. The Lords would be resoundingly “not content” and could remain a blockage to the legislation for up to one year.

    Much might change in that time. The EU might even concede that the UK was not the only country which needed to see some curbs on free movement and make changes. Then their lordships might argue that there was a good reason to call that second referendum and hope for a very different result.”

    So much for that “instant EU exit”: with the support of Tory MPs who want to leave the EU the Lords will do their best to keep us in the EU, and will at least impose a delay of a year before the government even formally tells the EU that we intend to leave so that the exit negotiations can commence.

    And, JR, don’t be surprised if you’re invited to appear as a witness for the plaintiffs in the ongoing judicial review aimed at preventing service of the Article 50 notice.

    We need to issue a letter and repeal the Act to leave, as Ihave made clear

    • forthurst
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Assuming that the DE article is correct, then JR was merely stating that a) Article 50 postulates that an EU member state can leave in accordance with its own constitutional requirements and b) that we could leave by simply repealing the European Communities Act which would, of course, require another Act of Parliament. This is a separate issue from Mrs May having the executive authority to inform the Brussels regime that we intended to leave under the provisions of Article 50 and to commence a two year period of negotiated withdrawal.

      The sooner we leave, the better. As to Lords, there are not nearly enough of them and the majority there at present are unpatriotic trash; in any case, UKIP is hardly represented.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        Firstly, the first paragraph of Article 50 runs:

        http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html

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

        In other words, the decision to leave is a unilateral decision taken by the withdrawing member state, it does not depend upon the assent of other member states; and that decision is to be taken “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, that is to say its own internal requirements, not any external requirements.

        Which second part is a variation on a standard formula which has been repeatedly used in the EU treaties right back to the Treaty of Rome to indicate that each member state shall take its own unilateral decision, for example proposed amendments to the treaty “shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

        Secondly withdrawal from the EU, or any other international body, cannot be accomplished just by domestic legislation because it requires action on the international or diplomatic plane. National legislation can prevent a state meeting its obligations under an international treaty but cannot release it from those obligations, it will mean that the state is still bound by the treaty but is potentially breaking its word.

        Thirdly when the UK ratified the Lisbon Treaty it agreed that if any member state wished to withdraw from the EU then to seek an orderly withdrawal it should use the procedure laid down in Article 50, the first stage of which is to send in a notice that it intends to leave. The next stage is the negotiation of new arrangements, and so far other EU member states have correctly insisted that there can be no formal negotiations with the UK until that notice has been served.

        That is what is required, the diplomatic notice that we intend to leave, and whatever its content an Act of Parliament is no substitute for that.

        • forthurst
          Posted August 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t say the we should not give notice of our intention to leave, simply that that did not require an Act of Parliament for such action.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Off topic please.

    We’re hearing far more from the PM about dealing with inequality than we are about Brexit.

    So long as we keep importing poor people in their hundreds of thousands inequality is going to get worse, not better.

    Or is that the aim ??? Job creation for politicians and social causes – cheap labour for businesses. How very Blairist.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Some sense in the Telegraph today:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/08/27/parliament-must-listen-to-the-people-on-brexit/

    “It is no surprise then that only a small proportion of Remainers want actively to reverse the referendum decision. The problem for Leavers is that this band of militants are highly concentrated in Parliament.”

    Which is why it became necessary to ask the people directly in a referendum.

    But a failure to see that this:

    “That so many parliamentarians are so resistant to following the will of their constituents says much. They may find that the people pass a punishing verdict on their arrogance at the next general election.”

    does not apply to the unelected legislators-for-life in the Lords, who must also consent to any Bill unless the Commons are prepared to invoke the Parliament Acts.

    Which would need the Commons to pass the Bill again, and would entail a delay of at least thirteen months:

    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN00675

    And if it was just a resolution rather than a Bill, the Parliament Acts do not apply if the Lords refuse to pass it.

    • Chris S
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Surely all Mrs May has to do is threaten the Lords Remainers with the appointment of 500 additional UKIP and Conservative Brexit supporters to their number ?

      That would change the nature of the other place, provide a majority for everything that a Conservative Government might want to do but at the same time make House of Lords reform absolutely inevitable and rapid.

      None of these additional consequences would appeal to the left/liberal majority in the house and they would back down and abstain over Brexit.

  23. Antisthenes
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    We predicted that tariff free trade will continue after Brexit as of course common sense and economics dictates that it should. The exception may be agricultural products because of CAP prices are highly regulated and that being mostly at consumer expense. I can not see France compromising that situation as it’s farmers benefit the most from it and they are a group French politicians will go out of their way not to anger. Tariff free trade is not a done deal however and the one thing that might stop it is wounded pride and Brussels bureaucrats disdain for anything that gets in the way of their pet project.

    Brussels will be very disposed toward punishing the UK out of spite(hubris and self interest will nurture that) and as a lesson to others so that they will not take the same path. Therefore there will be opposing forces within the EU that will be looking to conclude quite different Brexit deals. So like so many decisions, policies and practices that politicians and bureaucrats employ what Brexit will eventually mean will depend not on the practical and sensible but which vested interest gains supremacy.

    That favours Brussels as those who would favour a soft Brexit deal will be those with limited power. They will be the member states who are the actual beneficiaries of trade and cooperation with the UK but all 27 of them have to act in unison to exercise that power. That is a very tall order as Brussels will seek to divide them which they will inevitably do with some bribery and bullying. Germany is the key as they are the only one that can influence Brussels sufficiently. So what they want will be the decider. We know German businesses wants soft but as for mad Merkel that perhaps depends on the phase of the moon.

    Reply Agriculture is the one area where they will very keen to keep present arrangements, as they sell us a lot and we could under WTO rule impose high tariffs on that. The German and other governments will not want to punish the UK because that means punishing their exporters!

    • Antisthenes
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I believe when we come out of CAP UK will be able to sell agricultural products to the EU cheaper than they produce. UK farmers unconstrained by CAP will become more efficient and the UK can import from around the world beneath current EU tariffs which are very high. The French are not going to like that so they will insist that our products have a tariff slapped on them so that they do not undercut French or EU farmers. Brexit may surprise us as the possibility exists to decrease food prices for all UK consumers. So if they do it will not be a problem as we can sell our agricultural products elsewhere through reciprocal arrangements and at the same time source cheaper food.

  24. Frank Salmon
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    A colleague of mine berated me for voting leave. He and others were worried about what ‘they’ might do to us in revenge. I assured him that it is pretty difficult to make life worse for a country which is a massive net contributor and with a ginormous trade deficit within the customs union. I think I may be on course to be proven right.

  25. Mitchel
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile in yet a further indication that the real enemy is within rather than without,Lord O’Donnell (Daily Telegraph,today) says “Leaving the EU is not inevitable and Britain could even remain part of a changed EU”

  26. Duyfken
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I am unsure what “soft” and “hard” mean in terms of our exit from the EU. I am all for the EU members not being obstructive or vengeful in the negotiations accompanying our withdrawal, but I am wary of their trying to soft-soap us into accepting less than a full annulment.

    Likewise I deprecate the comments by (Lord) O’Donnell – and it is the likes of O’Donnell as they try to undermine the will of the people, who should be shouted down. As for O’Donnell himself, he should respect the reason for his election to the peerage and be mindful of the political neutrality expected of civil servants even in retirement.

  27. Ed Mahony
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It all comes down to immigration / free movement of person. That’s what easily won the Referendum. The EU will allow the UK restriction on movements of people. But in return, the UK will still have to contribute to the EU and accept many of its laws (something similar to Switzerland). But you can forget anything softer than that. The mathematics is very simple. To offer more would risk unravelling the EU. And that would cost significantly more to Germany and the others than having everything on the UK’s terms.

    Germany and the EU have been honest about the Brexit. They’ve said, from the outset, it’s bad for both the EU and the UK. Only Brexiteers are living in some fantasy land if they think the UK has a glorious future completely outside the EU in terms of prosperity, peace and security.

    (And if Brexiteers can’t deliver in the medium to long term on prosperity, peace and security including immigration – above all to those traditional Labour voters in the North, Midlands, and Wales – with both the UK and the EU going into economic decline, there will either be a another referendum to get the UK back into the EU, but this time with no choice but to join the EURO, or else there will be a disaster in the European region, and whether we like it or not / agree with it or not, Europe and the rest of the world affected to some degree with what happens in Europe, will point the finger at the UK / Brexiteers, to some / an important degree, for destabilising things in Europe. And that will be the long-term legacy of Brexit in history – unless, of course, we’re sensible now, and compromise with our European neighbours and/or use this as an opportunity to reform the EU as a whole, in particular, regarding free movement of persons).

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      ‘Only Brexiteers are living in some fantasy land if they think the UK has a glorious future completely outside the EU in terms of prosperity, peace and security’ and/or that the EU will allow the UK free access to the EU market without paying something significant for that.

      • libertarian
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        Ed Mahony

        Give it up fella you’re just making yourself look stupid.

        The EU isn’t in a position to “allow” anything . Its crashing around its own ears. They only have 2 net contributors left and the rest of the EU is draining money like a drunken sailor . Meanwhile the EU is the centre point and battleground of an ongoing war and it hasn’t got a clue how to deal with it.

        Actually immigration was not the most important thing for Leave voters. Sovereignty and control of our own country was the main reason people voted leave.

        The whole remain campaign was predicated on two things fear of change and trying to smear leavers as closet racists and xenophobes . The reason you lost is because you completely failed to understand the wants and needs of a majority of people. You continue to prove it with your deluded posts putting the EU at the centre of the universe when in fact it now has only 16% of world trade and that is collapsing. Its now a club of 25 impoverished nations supported by 2 reasonably wealthy ones. 54% youth unemployment looks like a recipe for civil unrest to me. Good luck with that.

        The entire world has free access to EU markets and always has had. You mean trading as part of the limited single market in goods. Well 70% of business is in services anyhow so the single market doesn’t cover it anyway. The 164 countries outside the EU are far larger markets to trade with. Those of us that actually run businesses are quite capable of working out where the most effective markets are and how to trade in them.

        If the EU attempted to impose a cost on selling them products they wouldn’t last very long. You seem blissfully unaware that most of the products and services that the EU citizens rely on for everyday use come from outside the EU. Since the demise of Nokia there are no EU mobile phone companies. 75% of all mobile phone and tablet components come from UK . See how long import tariffs last when French and German customers are forced to pay 20% more for their phones than the rest of the world. This has been the stark revelation about majority of remain voters none of them have any knowledge or experience of actually doing business.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

          ‘The EU isn’t in a position to “allow” anything’

          – If the EU crashes, it will cost Germany and others more than a not so nice trade deal with the UK. And it is more likely to crash if the UK demands free access.

          ‘The whole remain campaign was predicated on two things fear of change and trying to smear leavers as closet racists and xenophobes’ – I have never believed Brexiteers are closest racists. I respect their views but just disagree.

          ‘You continue to prove it with your deluded posts putting the EU at the centre of the universe when in fact it now has only 16% of world trade and that is collapsing.’ – But i never said EU was centre of universe. Plus I said it has big flaws. However, I said we need close relations with our nearest geographical neighbours for geopolitical reasons which Brexiteers are completely silent about (because they don’t get the importance of).

          ‘Well 70% of business is in services anyhow so the single market doesn’t cover it anyway. The 164 countries outside the EU are far larger markets to trade with’ – but you can still be in the EU and trade successfully in services outside the EU. Marin Sorrell of WPP is a good example of that! He was a Remainer for economic reasons (and many others like him).

          ‘The 164 countries outside the EU are far larger markets to trade with’ – and nothing stopping us trading with them (again –> Martin Sorrell of WPP and many others like him).

          ‘You seem blissfully unaware that most of the products and services that the EU citizens rely on for everyday use come from outside the EU’ – and what do you say to the Labour-voting people in the North and elsewhere who voted Brexit when they could be paying a lot more for their supermarket food from Europe. But it’s also about jobs and the state of the economy in general not just ‘everyday’ things (as well as peace and security in Europe).

          ‘This has been the stark revelation about majority of remain voters none of them have any knowledge or experience of actually doing business’ – what like Martin Sorrell, Richard Reed – founder of Innocent Drinks, Lord Alan Sugar, Jamie Dimon – chairman, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com, Ian Davis – chairman of Rolls-Royce, Sir Terry Leahy, Sir Richard Branson, Ian Livingston – former CEO of the BT Group, Alex Chesterman – founder and CEO of Zoopla, and many others.

          Regards

          • libertarian
            Posted August 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Ed Mahony

            Do learn what free access means.

            Geography is old hat we live in a global digital world, the UK is a member of G7, WTO, UN security Council group of 5 and NATO we are the number one “soft power ” in the world… Geopolitics ? Really? , buy a newspaper

            Martin Sorrell runs a services business the EU does not have a single market in services so his Remain stance is not based on business need. Quote from company website “As a result of the UK’s Referendum decision to leave the European Union, WPP will place an even greater emphasis on growth in Western Continental Europe”

            Yes there was, the EU stopping us having trade agreements with the rest of the world. All our trade agreements are negotiated by Brussels and they are useless at it

            The UK job market is massively bouyant we have the highest level in employment ever and just 4.9% unemployed the price of food is coming down , on Brexit we can once again import food from cheaper parts of the world not expensive protected French produce

            There is currently no peace or security in Europe and since the formation of the forerunner to the EU in 1948 there has been 35 wars, coups, revolutions, uprisings and ongoing conflicts in Europe

            Half of the people on your list DID NOT vote remain as they weren’t eligible . So you managed to find 6 business people out of 17 million…..

            Of the ones who do run UK businesses one is a tax exile living in the Caribbean and the other was so fond of the EU that he outsourced the vast majority of his operations to India. The third reincorporated his company some years ago as a Jersey based company.

            You might also want to investigate the links that a lot on that list have with a rather well know US Investment Bank with a large loan portfolio to EU governments and central banks

            You’re welcome

    • LittleBlackCensored
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      “It all comes down to immigration / free movement of person. That’s what easily won the Referendum.”
      Did not an analysis of people’s reasons show that the main concern was for national sovereignty?

  28. NickC
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    That is welcome news. Leave always said it was in the interests of both sides to negotiate in good faith. It is ironic that many Continental politicians are less petulant, and more realistic, than so many of our home-grown Remainers.

    John, The “Metric Martyrs” Appeal Court Judgement (Laws and Crane, 2002) makes it clear that the ECA, 1972, enables EU law within the UK. How will it be possible to repeal the ECA when there is a 70% majority of Remain MPs in the HoC?

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Another unelected legislator-for-life sticks his oar in:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/27/brexit-is-not-inevitable-and-britain-could-eventually-remain-in/

    “Brexit is not inevitable and Britain could remain in the EU, says Lord O’Donnell”

    Interestingly, it seems that the volume of EU law has expanded enormously just since the referendum, before when it was a very small fraction of our laws:

    “He told The Times that leaving would mean “a huge administrative and legislative change” because of the vast amount of EU law that had been implemented in the last 40 years.”

    Actually it would need just one very short Act to say that all those laws stay in place until such time as each one is repealed over time.

    I guess that in twenty years’ time there could still be the odd minor law dating from when we were in the EU that had not yet been revised.

    • rose
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      This is one of the men who usurped the Queen’s prerogative when the Coalition government was appointed. They got away with it and it must have gone to his head.

  30. Ed Mahony
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    ‘Brexit “is not inevitable” and the UK could instead stay on as part of a changed European Union, a former Cabinet secretary has said’ – Lord O’Donnell, Daily Telegraph.

    We now have an excellent opportunity to reform the EU, above all, on restriction of free persons.
    Let’s be clear, the vast majority of people supported Brexit because of IMMIGRATION NOT because of politics or economics.
    If we can reform the EU on this point, then the vast majority of people in this country will have their concerns met (and we will be able to restore unity, in general, between Brexiteers and Remainers).
    And if a minority are not happy with this (who supported Brexit for political or economic reasons), then we can have another referendum to be absolutely sure.
    We still have the opportunity to use Brexit to reform the EU. That would be amazing. We also still have the opportunity to screw up by trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, and use Brexit as an excuse to get out of the EU for political or economic reasons. This would be unethical and undemocratic because it’s clear the referendum was about immigration. And if people believe it wasn’t (?) or in any doubt for whatever reason, then we can hold a second referendum to make sure.
    (And there’s no reason – legal, democratic or moral why we can’t hold a second referendum, if we get reform on restriction of free movement of persons across the EU, just to be absolutely sure what people want about something that could dramatically affect this country for decades to come).

    Reply We voted to take back control of our money and laws as well as our borders. I want the £200m net £360 m gross a week back to spend as we wish.

    • David Price
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      What is the basis and evidence for your assertion on the views of the majority?

      The referendum result was clear and one early poll was done by Lord Ashcroft points to the majority motivation being that “decisions about the UK be taken in the UK” well above “regain control over immigration and it’s own borders”. The results deny the specifics of your claim.

      The losers weren’t given a second crack at the referendum in 1975 so why should the 2016 losers be so unfairly benefited? Though having seen the petulance and spite eminating from the EU and the UK luvies I wouldn’t be surprised if even more voted for brexit.

      But you have had ample time, 40 years and especially the run up to this referendum, to convince people of the benefits of EU membership yet despite all your advantages of position you have failed, utterly.

      Time to face the new reality and exploit the new opportunities for the benefit of our people.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      ‘We voted to take back control of our money and laws as well as our borders’
      – with respect sir, easily the main reason why people voted Leave was borders.
      For most Brexiteers (except for a small but strong minority), ‘laws’ was a non issue. And so was money. In fact, the amount of people who said they were prepared to lose out on money to get back control of their borders was significant.

      ‘I want the £200m net £360 m gross a week back to spend as we wish’ – so do I! (and I want to take back control of our laws and borders as well). But we can’t have everything. I think it’s about being pragmatic about realpolitik.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Ed Mahony

      WRONG again, number one reason to leave was sovereignty

      The EU is a dead duck, a creature out of time and place in the digital, global 21st century. The rabble left in the handout club of 25 are collapsing and the two who pay for it all are under threat . The once mighty German car industry has been caught cheating and caught no less at the very thing it lobbied the EU to give it its market dominance i.e. diesel vehicles.

      Brexit is going to happen, the EU is going to be left naked, exposed for the Emperors New Clothes position its adopted. Once global trade starts to happen there will be a queue of other EU countries looking to leave too. the EU had one chance to save themselves….they blew it.

      etc ed

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      You seem to forget that Cameron spent months on his “renegotiation” and failed to achieve any significant improvement in our position, let alone changing the EU as a whole which he originally said he would do. And you seem not have noticed that as far as the governments of the other member states are concerned we are leaving, and they would just like us to get on with it by putting in the formal Article 50 notice that we intend to leave so that negotiations can commence. There may a case for going back to the people after the notice has gone in, not before, and after the negotiations have been concluded, not before, but to be honest I’m not sure what choice could realistically be offered on the ballot paper. It seems to me that that there would be no chance of simply going back to our existing terms of EU membership as Owen Smith has mooted, because the other member states would not agree to that after we have put them to the trouble of both negotiating a new relationship with us and deciding how they will proceed without us. So the choice would boil down to either approving or rejecting what had been negotiated, with the second option leading to an attempt to resume negotiations and improve the new arrangements. I guess the other governments would be loathe to do that, but might still prefer it to the alternative of having us leave without any agreement on new arrangements, which would be damaging to them as well as us.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      ‘I want the £200m net £360 m gross a week back to spend as we wish’

      Apologies. Are you saying we shouldn’t contribute to the EU at all, whether money we get back and/or money we don’t get back but that ends up being spent in other countries? Or nothing at all (and that we should also gain full access to the single market without paying anything to it, not being beholden to any of its rules).

      Reply NO payments. We will have access because they want access to our market

      • Chris S
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        There are a long list of countries that trade with the EU without FOM or budget contributions.

        Can you imagine China or the USA paying into the EU budget or accepting FOM ? Of course not !

        The only reason they have got away with demanding that of Switzerland and one or two others is because they have trade surpluses with the EU And they are right next door. It’s essentially blackmail.

        The EU 27 have a very large trade surplus with us so it’s far more important to them to have tariff free trade than it is for us.

        We just need to keep calm and call their bluff and be prepared to accept WTO terms if they really are that stupid. But, of course, they will back down as common sense will prevail – and if they hesitate, French farmers and the companies and unions in the German car industry will soon ensure that their politicians see sense.

    • Original Richard
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Ed Mahony : “Let’s be clear, the vast majority of people supported Brexit because of IMMIGRATION NOT because of politics or economics.”

      Correct.

      They voted for independence, democracy, the ability to control our borders, and to be able to elect and remove our governments.

      The majority of Remainers only speak of the possible effects of Brexit on the economy and were prepared to sacrifice our sovereignty for a few pieces of silver.

  31. John O'Leary
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t about tariffs JR, it is all about Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which come into force automatically if we fail to keep up with EU standards. That is why is the only viable solution in the short term is to remain in the Single Market via Efta/EEA.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      All countries wishing to trade with the EU have to comply with product specifications defined for the Single Market; however, the overwhelming majority do not belong to the Single Market and don’t need to and nor do we.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      John O’Leary

      Do the Chinese and Americans know this? You might like to tell them they all need to join EFTA…… ( amazing the lack of awareness)

      One last time

      The vanishingly small number of businesses that trade in goods from the UK to the EU will indeed need to comply with EU regulations. They as individual businesses can choose to continue to do that or they can sell their goods into other markets and comply with their regulations. There will be some regulations that are fairly uniform across all markets of course . However the 98% of UK businesses that DO NOT trade in goods with the EU will now no longer have to bare the costs of complying with regulations that they no longer need , thereby making their goods cheaper to the rest of the word.

      All WE need to do is leave. The EU then has to persuade us that theres a reason for us to continue to trade with them and to continue to buy their products

  32. Local Lad
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I believe your method to activate Brexit is to repeal the 1972 Act of Parliament. Would such a course succeed in our Parliament with a majority of Remainers?

  33. formula57
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    A not unpleasing change of tune from Gallant Little Belgium, alas not echoed by today’s remarks from German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth whom Bloomberg reports as saying “If the British want full market access but want to limit the access of workers from Germany, France or Poland, they will find there is no a la carte cooperation in this direction” and “We’ve told the British they can’t expect to pick the best aspects of the EU and leave matters at that.”

    Fortuately, all these opinions coming from parts of the rump EU cannot be interpreted as counting for much yet as we have no real notion of what the UK government stance will be.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      But according to the German government free movement of persons is one of the best aspects, and so we would be fools not to take advantage of it …

  34. william
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Brexit is not complicated. No tariffs on either side . Restore the right of the government to control immigration, as it sees fit . Leave the European Parliament and ECHR. Repeal all the European side treaties. Inform exporters that they are on their own , when dealing with the EC. Remind importers there are two sides to that coin. All payments to Brussels to cease 2 years after invoking A50.The UK guarantees existing property rights of the EC, its nationals in the UK, and expects the same from the EC for its nationals. What is there to negotiate? This a clean break divorce.

  35. Bert Young
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    As each day passes our case for negotiation with the EU gets better . Germany was the first to disclose how it would suffer post Brexit and now other member countries are following in its footsteps . The EU should now look at the core of its problems ( the Euro and fiscal union ) and decide how to unwind from the tentacles . If the EU believes it can strike a punishing deal it truly must have its head in the sand .

  36. Brigham
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    John. How does it feel to have your prophecies come true?

  37. Don Dutta
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I hope we do end up with a soft Brexit from a tariff perspective! Germany exports 20% of her vehicles to the UK. It’s a huge no! Slapping on tariffs would be stupid – and I think the Germans would want to trade without tariffs because in the current global economic climate they will not be able to find a replacement market of this size!

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      ‘I hope we do end up with a soft Brexit from a tariff perspective! Germany exports 20% of her vehicles to the UK’

      – Of course it will be a ‘soft Brexit’. The Germans aren’t dumb (plus they’re also thinking geopolitically unlike hardline Brexiteers). But it’s still going to cost them and us, both. We’re all the losers, economically (and geopolitically). Just the Germans are being more honest about it (as they said again and again before and after the Referendum). And it’s not just Germans, but right-wing governments across Europe and the world (except for hardline right-winger Donald Trump who is pro Brexit, inviting Nigel Farage, who won the Brexit referendum to speak for him and representing Brexit to the USA).

      Until hard-line Brexiteers get real about compromise, adopting some pragmatic, British common sense, it’s all going to end up a disaster – for the UK, for the EU, and affecting countries outside, to a degree, as well.

      And who will these countries and historians, in the future, point the finger at for this disaster: hardline Brexiteers.

      So we can compromise with the EU. Or first, more ambitiously, try and play a lead in reforming the EU for all member states, including the EU, in particular regarding restrictions or full control of immigration from other EU countries.

      Reply Why and How? No-one can name a single EU country that wants to impose a tariff on their trade with us. It is n one of our business how Italy or Greece rune their immigration system, but it is our business to have our own working system that suits us.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        ‘Why and How? No-one can name a single EU country that wants to impose a tariff on their trade with us’

        – As far as I understand things, EU countries aren’t allowed to ‘why and how’ any details with us until we’ve signed Article 50 (but Mrs Merkel, most powerful political leader in the EU, has said we can’t ‘cherry pick’). Of course no EU country wants to impose tariff on their trade with us. But they’re going to have to, TO A DEGREE, if they want to preserve the EU (otherwise others will say why do we have to contribute to the EU including its laws when the UK doesn’t, getting all the benefits for free). This is just realpolik. Surely?

        And let’s be clear, the EU has always been frank saying Brexit would be bad for Europe and the UK. (As opposed to Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson saying our future outside the EU is ‘glorious’).

        ‘It is n one of our business how Italy or Greece rune their immigration system, but it is our business to have our own working system that suits us’- it is our geopolitical business what happens in Europe. Geopolitics isn’t about charity or being nice for the sake of being nice. It’s about looking out for one’s own interests in the world outside the UK which can affect the medium to long term future of this country.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        There can be no compromise over freedom of movement of persons. If they think unlimited and uncontrolled immigration is a boon then they can have it and enjoy its supposed benefits. Logically even after we have left the EU they should still be prepared to include UK citizens in their open-ended “come and join us, you will be a welcome boon” summons to would-be immigrants – why not? – but we must regain total of our immigration policy.

      • Chris S
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Ed, like all those who look at the EU through rose tinted spectacles, you really need to take regard of the evidence : There is no consensus across the EU for reform of anything !

        There is no prospect of any kind of agreement on the distribution of migrants and the disaster that is the Euro cannot be resolved because the Germans won’t agree to pick up the bills for the massive fiscal transfers required and Brussels is stopping Italy from baling out its banks.

        Then we have the ludicrous French position :
        Hollande is demanding More Europe and full integration against the wishes of his population who are amongst the least supportive of the EU across the whole continent. The French people are never going to vote for the loss of sovereignty that budget-setting in Berlin would entail nor for the strict financial control that would be needed to back it up.

        The whole mess is unravelling at an alarming rate. Their only hope of rescuing the project is for the politicians to tell voters that situation is going to get so bad that the people are scared into backing a United States of Europe.

        For that to happen, they would have to admit that the project has failed and, knowing that Project Fear has failed once, here, its likely to fail again.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Chris,

          ‘like all those who look at the EU through rose tinted spectacles’

          – I’ve consistently said in these comments that I think the EU is flawed to some/important degree and that it needs reforming. But not to throw baby out with bathwater. And there are good reasons for being in the EU, above all for geopolitical reasons (which includes long-term economic reasons, as well as peace and security).

          But that’s enough. Don’t want to plague Mr Redwood’s blog any longer with my comments (won’t be returning, unless something dramatic happens, as i write too many comments ..). I like and respect him but disagree with him on Europe.

          Regards.

  38. Carl
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Of course, had we been a little country, ‘punishing’ us would have been just fine of course. Coercing countries into economic projects and political unions is unacceptable. The EU showed its true colours with the way Greece was sacrificed, Italy’s democratic government was ousted, and the periphery countries were bullied into submission. Thank goodness we voted Brexit, the EU has become a profoundly undemocratic project of banks and multinational corporations.

  • 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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