Movement in EU thinking on Brexit and “populism”

There are signs that more governments on the continent are beginning to realise that the UK is not seeking continued membership of the single market or customs union, and accepts it will have a relationship based on friendship, collaboration, joint working and trade in a wide range of areas and activities.

Germany now grasps that they need continuing access to the large London financial markets which do so much to help finance continental business as well as to our lucrative car market. French, Dutch, Danish and other farming businesses on the continent do not want to see the quite high tariffs allowed under the otherwise low tariff WTO regime placed against their voluminous exports to us. The more realistic continental politicians see they cannot undertake the type of negotiation they expected. They thought the UK would be begging to stay in the single market, so they could impose requirements over financial contributions and freedom of movement. It is not going to be like that.

A good negotiation for the UK needs to be friendly, straight forward, and with limited requests of the others. Indeed, it is difficult to see that the UK wants anything from the negotiation that the rest of the EU does  not want and need more. They need tariff free more than us. They need good access to financial services and  banking. They want their many citizens resident in the UK to be able to stay here. They want the UK to continue to make the largest contribution to the European part of the NATO defence activity and budget.  The great news is they can have all that if they simply reassure our UK citizens resident on the continent about their status – which they will – and opt for tariff free trade which they would be wise to do in their own interests.

Many are breathing a sigh of relief in the Chancellories of Europe that the Dutch did  not give a larger vote to Mr Wilders, and made Mr Rutte the leader of the largest party. However, they would be wise  not to be complacent. Mr Rutte lost 8 seats and Mr Wilders gained 5  seats. Mr Rutte had to disrupt the EU’s relationship with Turkey to sound more like Mr Wilders in a bid which did swing some voters back according to the polls. In line with the progressive collapse of the Conservative and Labour look alike parties in Euroland owing to their inability to influence main economic policies, the Dutch Labour party had a disastrous election.

The EU without the UK  does have to find more tax revenue from the remaining members or cut back its spending. It is curious to see how all those pro EU forces who told us our net contribution was tiny before the referendum are now saying it will leave a nasty hole in EU finances when we are gone. Fortunately they need to agree a new longer term budget around the time we leave, so they can decide as a more homogenous group of countries, mainly in the Euro, how much collective spending and taxing they need for the new circumstances. As they build their more integrated Europe they would probably be wise to ensure it is properly funded, with sufficient cash to send to the poorer regions and countries. Other single currency areas send much more money around their unions as grants than the Euro area does.  That, however, is a matter for them,  not for us. They will benefit from not having the UK in the room trying to stop any budget increase when they turn to these important matters for their future.


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  1. bigneil
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Germany doesn’t want “access” to London markets. It wants to destroy and rule Europe. Totally. Any photos of anything to do with the EU shows one person – not the 27 others that are supposed to be in a “union” with Germany. She is making sure everyone sees her automatically as leader.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      @bigneil; There are many photographs “of anything to do with the EU” showing the full EU27(28), many without any of the member country leaders never mind just one!

      Is that day-light at the end of the tunnel Neil, or just someone else with a Germanic-phobia coming to join you in your darkness?…

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink


        Germany does seem to have done pretty well out of the EU, and as many economists will tell us, where there is a massive surplus for one, there is a massive deficit for someone else.

        The grand EU idea was prosperity for all, not destitution for large swathes of the population of other countries whilst one in particular calls the shots. That imbalance is just one more reason for the UK and hopefully others to leave the festering corpse that is the European Union.

        I can’t help but think there’s a certain inevitability about the resentment people from all walks of life and all member states feel towards a country that has gained so much, whilst their own living standards have diminished so drastically. It exposes the lop-sided nature of the place, but perhaps not strictly ‘Germanic-phobia’ so why the slur?


        • Jerry
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          @Tad Davison; Perhaps if people stopped blaming Germany for ‘winning the peace’ and started to ask why Germany is such a economic and industrial power house…

          If these rants against Germany are not Germanic-phobia (which is very understandable for some, and their close family, the same applies to Japan) then it must be some form of a more basic economic and/or industrial jealousy, which is even less justifiable considering that it was our own nations inability to move on from the “Them & Us” war between Directors/Managers and the Trade Unions that did so much damage to the UK’s economy.

          • libertarian
            Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink


            Germany is an economic powerhouse because

            a) It was rebuilt at great financial cost by the allies at the end of WW2

            b) the currency reform of 1948, which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, halted rampant inflation

            c) In 1948 income tax rates were cut drastically

            c) Unlike the rest of us, for understandable reasons their military spending and commitment has been very limited compared to us

            d) Because of the military destruction and the subsequent allied dismantling of the German coal and steel industry in 1950’s they didn’t suffer the strife we had when our coal and steel industries went under in 60’s and 70’s

            e) They imported vast numbers of cheap labourers without allowing them full rights

            f) during the 1950’s there were nearly 300,000 allied troops who were well paid by German standards based in Germany spending their wages in the German economy but not consuming resources

            g) They have been the sole beneficiary of the Euro

            h) Effective lobbying for their manufacturing interests ( see VW, diesel fuel etc)

            i) As anyone who has tried to do business in Germany will tell you they have a very protectionist market tied up in vast amounts of red tape

            j) Oh and during the 50’s 60’s 70’s German workers worked and average of 50 hours week

          • Tad Davison
            Posted March 18, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink


            To put this into some sort of context, I have a lot of sympathy for what you say. I worked in the industrial midlands of the 1970s and saw much of that first-hand. No wonder we were thought of the ‘sick man of Europe’. We escaped those chains once, and we would be daft to return to those days that turned out to be such a disaster for our manufacturing base.

            There is much to learn from the German way of doing things. As Sir Henry Royce might have said, if it exists, improve it. If it doesn’t, invent it. And looking at the UK’s productivity, we still have some way to go. If Germany does it better, let’s learn from their best practise, and if possible, improve upon it. And by leaving the EU, we have the chance to do precisely that.

            I also believe that Germany and her people have, on occasion, been very harshly treated, and that was self-evidently a massive mistake. But I also think it is a mistake to have one dominant power within the EU. So to repeat, it was somehow inevitable that Germany’s dominance would breed resentment.

            On a personal level. I would just like you to try to be more amicable and not lace everything you write with so much vitriol. No doubt we could have a better standard of discussion that way, and rather than ruffling feathers, people would engage you. That has to be good for all parties who post on JR’s blog and for me, this forum is a constant source of inspiration that I value greatly. We can all gain much from it.


          • Jerry
            Posted March 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            @Tad Davison; “On a personal level. I would just like you to try to be more amicable and not lace everything you write with so much vitriol. “

            That applies to a good majority of those who post comments on this site, comments such as “remaniacs” and “remoaners”, just to cite two regularly used insults (never mind the thinly veiled attacks of Germany), do little to sow the respect that should be present on this, and many other sites. Vitriol cuts both ways.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 19, 2017 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; Thank you for your opinion, but you really do not seem to have the first clue though.

            Much of what you suggest was beneficial to Germany between the end of WW2 and the late ’70s could also be said of the UK, for example the UK also “imported vast numbers of cheap labourers” (from our empire, especially in the 1950s and early ’60s, whilst often making it hard for them to claim what was rightfully theirs, from the wages to the standard of available housing).

            The UK also had “large numbers of (mostly US) military personal who were well paid by UK standards based here in the UK, spending their wages in the UK economy but not consuming resources.

            The UK also built totally new or rebuilt much industry, either because of war damage, because it was worn out and obsolete or in some cases because totally new towns were being built.

            In the 1950s, ’60s and 70s it was common for UK workers in many sectors to work a 50 hour week too, based on a 40 hours week it is not difficult to work ten hours of overtime each week, indeed in many sectors it was the norm to work five hours of it most Saturday, the rest being just one hour each day Monday to Friday, perhaps slit between an early start and a late finish.

            Indeed it was often this overtime that was the first casualty when industrial strife came, and that leads us onto what you missed off your list, and is the most telling, and far more important than those currency reforms or tax cuts, the fact that in Germany there was and still is far less damaging industrial strife because management see the trade unions as partners, not the enemy within, to be defeated, almost at any cost, out of principle.

          • Simon
            Posted March 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            I have lived and worked in Germany a lot. I really do wish that more people here in the UK understood how and why the German economy, industry and society operates as successfully as it does, and in particular to learn the lessons of Germany’s post war reconstruction. Many differences are highlighted in the replies to this post but none really get to what I see is the core functional difference.

        • getahead
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

          “The EU without the UK does have to find more tax revenue from the remaining members or cut back its spending. ”
          It occurs to me that with Germany being the dominant partner, the EU could dump inefficient Brussels and run the new United States of Europe from Berlin. Now that would clearly compensate for the loss of income from Britain.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      “They want the UK to continue to make the largest contribution to the European part of the NATO defence activity and budget.”

      Surely Germany, with a larger economy, should be contributing more than the UK?

      By losing WW2, Germany has only had a ‘defensive’ armed force (as has Japan). This has enabled them to avoid foreign adventures (and thus save much treasure) unless drawn in through their membership of NATO, when they are careful to keep their soldiery out of harm’s way. Thus they developed their enormous car industry while we were busy building ever more exotic and faster aeroplanes to defend the west from the USSR. (Japan achieved the same thing.)

      Also, as an experienced negotiator, and one who taught negotiation skills for some years, I’m appalled at the idea of HMG being obliged to negotiate with Brussels while both houses of parliament are breathing down their necks. Mrs May et al may find themselves obliged to threaten to withdraw from the negotiation at some point in order to bring Brussels to see their folly and return with sensible counter offers. The likes of Lord Heseltine (who, after all, is rooting for the other side) – and, of course, the SNP – would be able to muddy the waters with endless votes in both houses to distract the negotiators and, if possible, cause them to lose their nerve.

      Like you, JR, I am hopeful that the governments and business people of the remaining EU countries will ultimately put enough pressure on the bureaucrats and second rate ex politicians of Brussels to reach sensible post Brexit arrangements that are beneficial to both sides. That, after all is what the best long-term negotiations are for. But it looks as though it will be a very prolonged affair.

    • Original Richard
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 1:51 am | Permalink

      “Germany doesn’t want “access” to London markets. It wants to destroy and rule Europe.”


      Germany is breaking the Euro rules by running a very large trading and budget surplus which is destroying southern EU countries and whose assets will be sold off cheaply to pay for their loans.

      Mrs. Merkel’s unilateral decision to invite millions from the ME and Africa to come to Europe will also eventually destroy the whole of the EU if left unchallenged.

  2. Elliot Kane
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    I find it quite extraordinary the way ‘populist’ is used by many politicians in the EU (& a few here in the UK, too) to mean ‘any policy I do not like’.

    Given that Democracy is a ‘populist’ system, in that representatives, governments, etc, are elected by popular ballot, you’d think they would not use it as a dirty word, wouldn’t you? Assuming they think Democracy is a good thing, that is…

    I do always smile at headlines like ‘The Populists Lost’. If you think about it, that can’t happen. That which is most popular always wins in a Democracy, after all.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      @Elliot Kane; Indeed, but is it not just the flip-side of how the right are now using the term “Fake News” to mean anything they do not like?

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        She is de facto leader of the EU.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

          Of Merkel (should have been in answer to the comment thread by Big Neil.

        • Jerry
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          @Anonymous; The real facts are, there are 27 [1] de facto leaders of the EU, it’s called the revolving presidency.

          [1] there used to be 28 but the UK has ruled its self out of her next stint on account of our impending Brexit.

          • Anonymous
            Posted March 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            Disagree on who is the ‘effective’ leader of the EU. The rest are just temporary figureheads.

            And just why – WHY – should the leader of any one of the 27 have leadership ? Especially if they are the head of a minor country with a broken economy (drawing EU funds rather than contributing) and with a low population.

            So I’m afraid it’s bunk. Merkel is the leader of Europe.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 19, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

            @Anonymous; You are entitled to your opinion, the facts are slightly different though.

      • Elliot Kane
        Posted March 20, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink


        I don’t think the use of ‘Populist’ as a derogatory term is restricted to the Left, any more than EU membership is/was a Right vrs Left issue. It is mainly used as an argument against Democracy, and neither side has a monopoly on such sentiments.

        Interestingly, the idea of ‘Fake News’ seems to have originated on the American Left as a way of denouncing pure fiction, but was taken over very swiftly by certain sections of the American Right who have been loudly proclaiming anything they don’t like to be ‘Fake News’. Both sides being as bad as each other in the US right now, I have scant sympathy with either.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Well it can fail and does in most systems. Especially where elected representative (like MPs, prime ministers and Chancellors) choose to rat on Cast Iron promises, hundreds of thousands promises, or IHT, NI tax promises and just ignore the electorate and treat them with total contempt most of the time – other than lying to them just before elections.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Or when people like Heath take the UK into the “Common Market” without asking the people’s consent then others like Thatcher, Major, Blair sign noose tightening treaties without asking consent either. You get government acting in the interests of the governing very rarely the people.

        Very many of the recent blunders of government would have been avoided by the people having far more say. Especially Blair’s wars, the Millennium Dome, HS2, expensive religious energy, the climate change act, many tax increases, HS2, the ERM, the EURO, the Recent EU treaties ……. that is perhaps why they are almost never asked.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Dear Lifelogic–As I was saying some time back (John didn’t like it) electing representatives is, these days, unnecessary and, worse, comes up with different, and therefore by definition wrong, answers from asking everybody as a whole. The Swiss get by and we should have many more referenda. Put simply, why should we care what elected people think? Only answer EVER is “that’s the way we do it”.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            Postscript–The current example is the Scottish business. Seems clear that the Scots as a whole do not want another referendum but Ms Sturgeon et al do–Who cares what the latter want and why?

    • Alan
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      The Oxford dictionaries definition of populism is that it is a policy that deals with the concerns of the common people. (They define “common people” as those “without special rank or position”.) But that is open to interpretation – I think the concern of the common people is usually for secure safe jobs with good wages, whereas people will sometimes vote against their best interests, having been swayed by the argument of ‘populist’ politicians.

      In spite of what the dictionary says I think there is an implication in the word that the policies being advocated are superficial, not dealing with the detailed difficulties of implementation or consequences. As an example I would cite Mr Farage, who speaks very persuasively, but nearly always in generalities, never dealing with the detail of how the policies are to be carried out and paying little attention to consequences apart from the main concern that he is addressing.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        I think the concerns of the common people (indeed sensible people in general) is usually for a good choice of well paid jobs, no wars, effective law and order with real deterrents for the real criminals, a sensible clear legal system, a decent choice of housing, far lower taxes, far less red tape. freedom, cheaper energy, a sound currency, little government waste, as few overpaid bureaucrats (usually doing little of value) as possible and to see as little of government as possible.

        Free and plentiful choice in heath and education too, without a dire state suffocating it in dire virtual monopolies.

        All sounds rather good to me. Not, alas, to interventionist, tax, borrow and wasters May and Hammond.

        • libertarian
          Posted March 19, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink


          I totally agree on the small government, low tax, free market focused system that you mention. So do a substantial number of other people in this country.

          I’m therefore staggared that there is no political party pushing this agenda. Yet we have 4 and a half parties all pushing tax and spend policies plus the SNP pushing tax, and take money from another country and spend policy

          There is a massive “gap in the market” for a 21st century party with a platform of vastly reduced government, lower taxes, sound currency and reduced bureaucracy using iDemocracy and referenda . Highly focused core services and hypothecated taxes where appropriate ( i.e. health care )

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        @ Alan sometimes a spade is just a spade and needs calling such.

    • Gary C
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I agree.

      It would indeed appear there is a fair proportion of the population that regard democracy to be a good thing until it opposes their view.

      Added to that we seem to have a never ending series of celebrities who think their fame has endowed them with a higher intelligence and should be listened to and followed without question.

      Then the media fan the flames by searching out the minority view and gripping hold of it like a terrier on a trouser leg desperately sensationalising the situation spreading division with their rhetoric instead of just reporting on the facts, yes they should be able to give their opinion but not promote discord to such a degree.

      With luck as summer arrives and the days warm the snowflakes will melt.

    • English Pensioner
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      It logically follows that if ‘popularism’, otherwise democracy, fails, we have a dictatorship. Which at times is what I feel that the EU is!

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but it’s become such a cliche now to say the EU is dictatorship and somehow evil. It’s just old-fashioned Manichaeism which is a cheap and lazy way to get people united together against something (some cause) because there isn’t enough in our country to unite us together because we’re all so bloody dysfunctional as a society and disunited. (And exact same can be said about other countries as well). Call it the human condition or whatever.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Disunited when the losing side refuses to accept the winning result.

          Disunity is what the EU has brought our country to.

          So much for it being a unifying force.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted March 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            Both sides are / were as bad as each other in similar and different ways.

            ‘Disunity is what the EU has brought our country to’ – our country (and others like it) has always been divided. Envy. Snoberry. Insecurity. The list is endless. It’s a complete illusion / fantasy to think that getting out of the EU alone will unite us.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      One of the best recent examples of populism in action was Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Not at all, Corbyn is only popular only within about 60% of a small very untypical section of the population. Namely Labour party members (about 0.7% of the population) who believe in the evil politics of envy and the state running everything (very badly indeed).

      • Juliet 46
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Best £3 I’ve ever spent

    • agricola
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Elliot, the EU have never been very big on democracy. Recall all the referendums they have just ignored and the parachuting of their choice politicians into contentious situations with national governments. It is why I liken them to the USSR in many respects.

      • eeyore
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Many decades ago I learned from a French civil servant who had been involved in setting up the proto-EU, the Coal and Steel Community, that one of the main aims had been to minimise democratic control and maximise the power of the bureaucracy.

        The reason: Hitler was a democrat, voted into office by the people. Never again, said my informant, would Europe allow itself to be dragged down that path of darkness by the ignorant and bigoted masses.

        The unspoken subtext was that bureaucrats are neutral, expert and focused austerely on the common good. Politicians on the other hand . . .

  3. Jumeirah
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Quite right Mr. Redwood : “That,however, is a matter for them, not for us” is exactly the point. The only commitment that we, Great Britain, have is in the shared defence of Europe through NATO. With regard to the EU – they go their way we go ours and where we can do business together fairly and equally so beit where we cannot we and they have more important world markets to compete in. Our interests first -ALWAYS.

  4. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Mr Wilders is having the same impact as UKIP – very limited in terms of direct electoral impact but a big impact of the mainstream parties who are shifting to reflect some of their views. Ms Le Pen will probably have the same effect in France.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      @Roy Grainger; “Mr Wilders is having the same impact as UKIP”

      Not lot, if any, then! Still out of government, mostly ignored, often being the butt of many a joke or insult!

      As for France, yes Ms Le Pen will most likely bring about the landslide election of the pro EU Socialist parties presidential candidate, should Le Pen do well in the first round…

      • getahead
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        We’ve not gone away Jerry.

      • libertarian
        Posted March 18, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink


        “As for France, yes Ms Le Pen will most likely bring about the landslide election of the pro EU Socialist parties”

        Really? I think you need a better look at what has happened to socialist parties in France, well across Europe in fact. Socialism is finally dead. Sadly whats replaced it is modern snowflake social corporatism

        • Jerry
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; It’s called tactical voting … for many on the moderate right anyone will be better that Le Pen.

          As for other choices, it is you @libertarian who needs to take a better look at French politics, have you not been following what has been happing to the moderate political right and their probable candidates. Anyway, French voters have fallen out of love with François Hollande, but not necessarily Socialism per se, and even if they have or feel that they need to vote tactilely there is always the independent Emmanuel Macron.

        • heffalump
          Posted March 19, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          “modern snowflake social corporatism”: ques aco?

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink


    Though the BBC reporting on Mr Wilders gives the impression his party has collapsed and is finished.

    Mathew Parris on Question Time was very silly as usually. He said Hammond was completely humiliated by having to do a U-turn and may get his revenge. Complete nonsense, his U turn was very sensible though far too slow. He made a huge mistake, his the ministers going round arguing that black was white looked totally absurd.

    His NI increase was not a conservative thing to do, it was wrong in principal, bad for the economy and absurdly unpopular politically (especially given the manifesto commitment).

    This should have been picked up by the Cabinet before the budget. Had he run it past me or any sensible Conservative it would have been. Hopefully he has learned something.

    No he need to look at the IHT promise not kept and the absurd probate and sugar taxes.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Parris even thinks the NHS is good value, what a dope he is!

  6. Anonymous
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The Dutch result = 80 BNP seats in the UK Parliament (to put this in perspective.)

  7. Mark B
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Good morning, and Happy St.Patrick’s Day.

    I am coming round to the view that the Dutch / Turkey spat was probably contrived just to help Mr.Rutte. If indeed Mr.Wilder’s had been elected as PM, then the chances of a Dutch referendum and possible NEXIT could really spell the end of the EU. They (EU) dodged a bullet there.

    What the other 27 want and what the EU want are not necessarily the same thing. It is not the 27 that will be doing the negotiating but the EU. Same to with the EU parliament.

    I do not think things are going to be easy, but as soon as Art.50 is invoked then, and only then, will I come round to believing that we are at last leaving the Stupid Club.

    • zorro
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Indeed, it was rather out of the blue at just the right time, but it wouldn’t be the first time that useful coincidences occur….. I see that an official denial has come from GCHQ on the ‘wiretapping’ (yes inverted commas) of the current US President at the behest of the former to circumlocute the supposedly necessary (not really) FISA warrant to conduct surveillance activities…. What was the old Bismarck maxim again?


      • John
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        As most surveillance activities don’t require “wiretapping” nowadays, the issued statement would be correct.

        A better statement would of been to deny any involvment in surveillance activities on Trump, but then that might not be true.

        I now need to go and buy a tin foil hat.

        • zorro
          Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it looks like a non denial denial. As you say digital surveillance is multi faceted, and the important thing is who collects the data…. Now, strictly speaking, even though it is known publicly that the NSA/GCHQ can ‘hoover up’ all digital communications and store them, each national agency can’t lawfully access data for national security purposes without a FISA (US) (although there is an exception to this post 9/11) or RIPA (UK) warrant…. However, both agencies can access the whole data store. Can you see the slight issue?


    • Mark
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      There was never any prospect of Wilders becoming PM. At the peak of PVV popularity over a year ago they were polling to win 42 seats compared with 76 required for a majority, and all the other parties (aside from tiny and more extreme Voor Nederland that didn’t even win a a seat) were and are refusing to work with them in coalition.

      The Turkish spat is a considerable problem, with Erdogan now talking of a future of religious wars, as well as abandoning the programme of accepting back refugees. The Turkish ethnic party, DENK, won three seats in the Dutch Parliament.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Having seen Theresa May and other MPs using Prime Minister’s Questions to extend their best wishes for St Patrick’s Day I shall expect the same for St George.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Yep ! 🙂

        But you and me both know that will never happen. That’s because they would rather we really not exist. Gets in the way of their ‘Britishness’

      • rose
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Our council banned the official observation of St George’s Day on the ground that there are too many other nations here. Sorry, not too many, but so many.

      • Spratt
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Luckily for her, St George’s day falls on a Sunday this year

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          That’s OK, the congratulations on St Patrick’s on Friday were offered during PMQ’s on Wednesday.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Then you will be rather disappointed I suspect.

    • getahead
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      I said elsewhere that the 27 would do well to dump Brussels.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Its always about money and power.

    When we leave THEY do not have our money, and they have far LESS power over us.

    When we leave WE retain more of our money, and keep MORE power over our future.

    Whats not to like !

    The only danger is us giving our own wealth and power away again.

  9. Andy Marlot
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    “They will benefit from not having the UK in the room trying to stop any budget increase when they turn to these important matters for their future.”
    Since when has government spending benefited anyone but the direct recipients and the bureaucrats administering it? More inefficient spending by Brusssels will directly damage the European economy just as it does in every place it is tried. If that were not true Venezuela and all the other socialist paradises would be doing great.

  10. formula57
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Granted “They want the UK to continue to make the largest contribution to the European part of the NATO defence activity and budget” but what is in that for us?

    The UK should cease to pull others’ chestnuts out of the fire and it would be well to make that clear, to help tame tendencies towards belligerence.

  11. hefner
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Now that Brexit is really under way, we need JR as President of the European Commission!

    • libertarian
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink


      Why would JR want such a short term inconsequential job?

  12. agricola
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Wolfgang Schaeuble, finance minister of Germany accepts that the City of London will continue to dominate the financial markets even if France has a problem swallowing it.

    Sturgeon is just a screeching voice off, best ignored. She is in danger of losing her electorate through not dealing with their real needs. I predict that as England makes a success of Brexit there will be a further population drift south by those looking for opportunity.

    Mr Wilders is a symptom of a Europe wide reaction to the EU failing to correct itself. It is a largely socialist organisation driven by dogma with little connect to the people or reality, the USSR without the gulags.

    The EU made the mistake of taking to itself and the Euro so many dependant nations, both politically and financially. They thrive on an ignorance, throughout much of Europe, on precisely what democracy is. We were much the same until the referendum result reminded those who govern just who allows them to. The EU should have encouraged associate membership until such time that they were ready for full involvement through trade. The latest courtship of Turkey will be a disaster on economic, political, and religious grounds. Turkey is a great country with very resolute people and much going for it, but integration within the EU is a bridge too far.

  13. Even better
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Judging by business reaction, currency markets and stock markets appear to think the threat of Scotland leaving the UK is great for the UK.Not forking out our good money to the EU and Scotland would indeed be a double fillip

  14. Bert Young
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The dust will settle and all sides of the EU will come to realise their own truths . Change is certainly in the air and a very different attitude to the bureaucracy of Brussels has arrived . The settlement reached with the EU will reflect the differences that have happened and , hopefully , it will mean that our future relationship with Europe will be sensible and balanced .

    It is this development that ought to bring home to the Scots that they are better off within the Union . The SNP will then be shown to be nothing other than hot air protestation.

  15. Democrat
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    A number if not the majority of EU states have fragile politics. Few of them would be prepared to join forces against the UK.They have particular producers and bigwigs who virtually own their governments. Democracy is real terms is very low. In a sense the EU is good for some of their peoples. It is the only actual political Opposition.

  16. Alan
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Actually we need tariff free trade with the EU more than they need it with us. They are in surplus and can afford a drop in trade: we are in deficit and need all the trade we can get. We have been told by our car industry that if we do not provide it they will leave. There is no other market of this size that we can be sure of getting good access to. In fact there are few other markets of this size, and those that do exist we already do a good deal of trade (although I accept we could, and should, do far more).

    Our main problem is lack of productivity and we could have addressed that more easily within the EU, because of the economies of scale, that we will be able to do outside it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      We need to look a bit further into our trade in cars.

      It’s easy to say, for example, that 8 out of 10 cars made in the UK are exported, without bothering to say where they go – mostly not to the rest of the EU – and gloss over the fact that imports of cars from the rest of the EU are much greater than our exports to them – by about threefold in value, on the last figures I saw – and forget how much of our home market is taken up by imports which could eventually be substituted by domestic production – 1.72 million cars made in the UK in 2016, of which 1.35 million were exported, according to the numbers given here:

      so wouldn’t that be about 0.4 million new cars both made and sold at home, out of a total of 2.7 million new cars sold in the UK according to this:

      Meaning that 85% of the UK car market is taken up by imports?

      Feel free to correct me if you think this is wrong, although I doubt that there could be any corrections which would be material and would change the argument that we could actually benefit if the EU reintroduced barriers to trade in cars.

      • acorn
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 19, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          As it happens both the Telegraph and Autocar attribute their data to the SMMT.

          But going back to that original source on page 4/5 it says that in 2015 there were 2.6 million new cars registered in the UK, greatly in excess even of the number of new cars built in the UK, 1.6 million.

          Let alone the number built minus the number exported, which would be the 1.3 million “vehicles” exported less at most the 0.09 million “commercial vehicles” built in the UK; so that does leave at most 0.45 million cars built in the UK and sold into the UK market of 2.6 million, which would be about 17% market penetration.

          That leaves a lot of scope for EU import substitution if the EU decides to be foolish and create unnecessary barriers to trade in cars.

          As for the exports and imports, that document says a lot about the exports – including that 77.3% of cars built in the UK were exported, and more than half of the exports went to the EU – but it is strangely silent on the imports of cars into the UK.

          I have to go to other sources to reveal the carefully hidden truth that we run a massive trade deficit in cars with the EU, while running a somewhat smaller trade surplus with the rest of the world.

          In 2o14, exports to the EU = £11.9 billion but imports from the EU = £31.3 billion, three times greater, leading to a trade deficit of £19.4 billion, while exports outside the EU = £17.9 billion against imports = £4.0 billion leading to a surplus of £13.9 billion, overall trade deficit in cars that year therefore = £5.5 billion.

          While here:

          on page 9 the statistics for 2013 were:

          Exports to EU = £12.5 billion
          Imports from EU = £35.3 billion

          while in contrast the UK has surpluses on all the trade flow outside the EU that are shown on the diagram.

          • acorn
            Posted March 19, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

            Denis, import substitution is fine but, what would your neighbours want standing on the drive for all to see, a BMW or a Vauxhall? Also, remember all these vehicle assemblers are foreign owned, the profits go back home; or, are invested in Pound Sterling denominated assets, if they are told to do that by their respective home central banks. That is, not selling their Pounds and driving its value down in the FX market.

  17. fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Great post as usual John but when is Mrs May going to act? Stop hanging around waiting for the next obstacle. Just invoke Article 50, tell the EU what we propose, if they don’t like it, tough. Let’s get the hell out and start making Britain great again. Jacob Rees Mogg was brilliant on QT last night.

  18. brmbrmbrmmm
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The media sees a connection between Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, AfD, Geert Wilders. I’m not sure any national electorate gives a fig what or how other electorates vote. They don’t even care what the next town votes or even the adjacent Ward. Just because the French voted for a President who liked taking secret scooter journeys to a friend, does it encourage Mrs May to purchase a bike in the hope of electoral success?

  19. a-tracy
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    “They want their many citizens resident in the UK to be able to stay here.”

    It is rather more complicated though, what about free access from day 1 to our NHS, Social Services, how long do they have to work here before they get Housing Benefit. (Germany was reported in the week as wanted a five year working residency before people get their social benefits). Do we get reciprocal benefits from Spain, from Germany? We must start our NHS recharging as we get charged by Spain.

    If the EU 27 want nearly five million citizens to stay here, great, do we get a free pass for five million of our residents?

  20. James Neill
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Good day,
    We should know at this stage that there is a lot of posturing and position taking going on at the moment from both sides. We don’t even know yet, despite all of the hype, what the real position the UK side is going to take in these upcoming talks. My own take on it is that Theresa May is a very clever and practical woman but she has had to put up with listening to the nasty anti EU elements of the Tory party for decades now who are still nipping at her heels and so she has lined them up in the front row so that they can all get a good look. For herself she doesn’t mind too much about the outcome because if and when things go wrong in the negotiations she will just sack the lot of them- and replace them with more carbon copies- she will still be the prime minister in eight years time or more.

    • zorro
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      What is your point? If ‘she doesn’t mind what happens’….. What would be her ‘raison d’etre’ for staying as PM for 8 years?…. The pursuit of office?


  21. Antisthenes
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Brexit exposes the fallacy of the need for trading blocks and even treaties. Free trade and cooperation is perfectly possible without the the burdens of an entire army of self serving bureaucrats and political and economic union. As you point out many in the EU are now looking to reach an agreement with the UK to do most of that. This fact must eventually open the eyes of many that the EU was conceived on misguided premises. That it’s only objective should have been to facilitate cooperation and that it should never have been given the power to govern.

    We do ourselves great harm when we give too much credence to the state being beneficent and we protect producers from foreign competition. The former leads to oppression and the latter denies consumers choice. Both lead to the inefficient use of resources and curtailment of civil liberties and individual freedoms. Brexit is a recognition of this albeit that is not why people voted for it. They did not understand the cause but certainly did not like the effects. One day domestic governments and protectionism will suffer the same fate as people come to realise that they are not the solution but the problem.

  22. Aatif Ahmad
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The UK won’t get the market access it enjoys currently under passporting. There is no precedent for a sovereign entity surrendering the right to require professional service providers to be licensed in its territory if they provide services there. The EU passporting scheme was unique and the first such surrender, based on the four freedoms. It’s wishful thinking to assume the EU will grant this right in order to avoid a threat of tariffs on its goods exports to the UK. Legally, the EU can’t give this right to the UK because under the WTO rules (to which the EU is a party) any preferential treatment has to be extended to all WTO member states (so it would have to grant passporting to the whole world).

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Well, give us the chapter and verse of those “WTO rules”.

    • Newmania
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      All true and you will find that outside the make believe world Mr Redwood and his retired friends inhabit pretty much everyone with EU supplies band clients is worried about the future . This sort of Tinkerbell tale hardly helps

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Could you please, for once, take a bit of care with your typing so that I don’t have to decipher what you are trying to say.

      • libertarian
        Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink


        Provide some evidence for you assertion.

        only 8% of UK firms of any type export to the EU ( me being one of them) .

        I’m not remotely worried about my future sales to the EU and nor are any of my colleagues that I know who deal with EU based countries.

        Because you have zero knowledge or experience of business and despite being told multiple times you still dont get the fact that governments dont do business. Suppliers sell to customers , Its why American and South Korean companies ( i.e. non EU, Non European ) dominate sales of mobile phones into European countries despite neither of those countries having

        a) Membership of EU internal market
        b) membership of EEA, EFTA or EU
        c) an FTA with the EU

        Hmm how do they do it?

        You are having a meltdown and just going full chicken little

    • zorro
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Hold on there please….. I think that you will find that EU countries have twice as many passports into the London market as we do to theirs…. Why is it always assumed that it is one way traffic like with the media focusing only on EU national rights in the UK?


      • Aatif Ahmad
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        The number of passports doesn’t matter. The UK runs a surplus in financial services trade with the EU.

        • libertarian
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink


          As you have no experience of banking, let me enlighten you

          the City of London is the number one global centre for banking transactions

          Of course we run a surplus EU based banks and FI companies do most of their business through London. The City is where all the infrastructure, the clearing, settlement and trading happens.

          Thats why if passporting where important ( it isn’t by the way) it would be important to EU based institutions far more than UK ones

          • Dilbertarian
            Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            So , notsohilbertarian, are you an “expert” in banking, business, thinking skills and other assorted topics? Are you of the normative or the positive kind?

        • zorro
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Not so – the EU will still want access to London markets so will eventually see sense, and anyway MIFID 2 will mean equivalence reigns in 2018…. Also, funnily enough as you should know the ‘Single Market’ has still not hurdled the ‘services’ barrier!


      • Newmania
        Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        That ,as you will of course have understood, makes it worse not better …

        • libertarian
          Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink


          Lol , you really really have no idea do you? No wonder you are obsessed with being told what to do , you lack basic thinking skills

    • libertarian
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Aatif Ahmed

      Oh dear another one who doesn’t understand

      There has never been a single market in services in the EU

      passporting was introduced because of this fact

      Your confusion over the difference between goods and services basically say everything

      Banking is a global activity, the new MFIID 2 rules due in in 2018 would remove most of passporting anyway. Passporting benefits EU institutions far more than UK ones

      You and your little friend Newmania are completely deluded. The vast majority of banks and financial institutions are non European and ALL of them, every single one from anywhere in the world has been doing business in the EU for the last 70 years. Do join the reality based community you two

  23. Osborne again
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Feminists say that men cannot multi-task. Mr Osborne appears to be a one-off.

    • rose
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Ken Clarke MP had more jobs when he stopped being Chancellor didn’t he?

  24. Atlas
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s typically condescending of a certain, usually, Left-leaning point of view to talk about ‘populism’ as if it is something they have trodden in.

    We’ll have to read how the London Evening Standard describes it from now on …

  25. ChrisS
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Whoever they elect in the Autumn, German taxpayers are in for a rough ride.
    They will be saddled with most of the shortfall following Brexit as Juncker and co will never agree to reduce the budget. Germany will always be outvoted by the majority of
    countries who are net recipients and have a vested interest in ever increasing spending.

    If they elect Schulz as Chancellor, things will be a lot worse than under Merkel as he is 110% committed to More Europe in every area. He wouldn’t hesitate to sign his taxpayers up for direct EU taxes such as a percentage of VAT as we have frequently managed to thwart.

    Sooner or later German taxpayers will cry Enough ! but sadly, they are not ready to do so yet.

  26. DaveM
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    What is Mrs May waiting for now John?

    • zorro
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      The passing of the Ides of March?…. On no, just passed must be something else ?


    • Mark
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      I’ll guess that by delaying, the EU Council meetings that are called to appoint the EU lead negotiator formally, and to start to formulate negotiating guidelines won’t happen until the new President of France is elected, which may be preferable to having Hollande give one set of views, only to be promptly contradicted by Macron (or more so if it is le Pen).

  27. behindthefrogs
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Our contribution to NATO should be relative GDP equivalent to the EU contribution. Currently this would allow us to reduce our contribution.

    • ChrisS
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      A good idea as far as it goes.

      I would link our contribution to NATO to the percentage of GDP that Germany pays for her defence. That means about half our current total defence spending.

      If we cannot get a satisfactory trade deal from the EU 27 I would go further : I would withdraw all Royal Navy support for the fight against people trafficers in the Med and end military exercises in Poland. Unless the EU picks up the tab for this support, of course.

      Instead of sending troops to Poland, we should build back up our long standing military exercise programme in Canada.

      The remainder of our 2% and more should be spent on our wider military role, particularly East of Suez in order to support our world-wide trading strategy. The extra aircraft and particularly ships would still be available to protect the UK in the event of a direct threat against us.

      Realistically there is little or any direct threat to us if Eastern Europe is once again under pressure from Russia. It would need the immediate risk of a Russian take over of Poland or Estonia to shake Merkel’s complacency over defence spending.

      It will be interesting to see how Merkel and Co react to having to depend more on the French for their defence.

      Badly, I suspect, given their less than glorious history !

  28. rose
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The most interesting thing to me about the Dutch election was the collapse of the Labour Party. It looks as if it made the same mistake as the one here in dumping its traditional voters in favour of immigrants and hippies. The traditonal voters went to Mr Wilders and now the immigrants and hippies have dumped the Labour Party – for their very own dedicated parties. Labour beware.

    • rose
      Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      The main lesson to draw is what a disaster PR is, and how lucky we are to have FPTP and a proper monarch. All those months of dirty dealing behind closed doors with the people and their monarch left out. The Dutch King isn’t allowed to appoint his government any more, only to swear it in after Parliament has decided. Since 2012.

  29. Osbornovitch
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Of course Osborne is trying to undermine the belief system in politics and British society because , possibly , he has not got his own way. Boy.

  30. Monty
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I find it mystifying that La Sturgeon is demanding a Scottish independance referendum for Spring 2019, at which time the Scots will have had precious little time to take in not only the final Brexit settlement, but the effects on their own circumstances. They won’t even have had time to make much headway in negotiations with Brussels about the prospects for Scotland’s future relationship with the EU. They risk incurring a hard border with the UK if they are chivvied into Schengen. At a time when there isn’t a vast inrush of Euro-commerce to pick up the slack. All that and transferring over from Sterling to the Euro?
    Sounds like madness- expecting the public to decide on so much, but with so little information and experience.

  31. British Spy
    Posted March 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    GCHQ is outraged being accused of wiretapping Trump but was serene about listening to Mrs Merkel’s personal phone messages over years. The Head of GCHQ is said to be Irish

    • zorro
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Have they found a replacement for Robert Hannigan who resigned as Director of GCHQ on 23/01/2017 (3 days after Trump became POTUS) for ‘personal reasons’? Mr Hannigan was born in Gloucestrershire, raised in Yorkshire, and studied Classics at Oxford….


      • British Spy
        Posted March 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        His genetics are Celtic, Irish ( North ). Before that…Scottish pre-Norman , ) He may not be aware of that.

    • protect and survive
      Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Brit Spy
      Grief, don’t we have the red card system anymore ?

    • APL
      Posted March 19, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      It’s quite well know that GCHQ snoops in the US and the CIA snoops in the UK. Technically no law has been broken but either countries intelligence services and both countries turn a blind eye and can truthfully say ‘it wasn’t us gov’nor’, any time a scandal erupts.

      But then they share the intelligence later.

      Note to John Redwood. Your captcha widget is extremely annoying.

  • 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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