Happy Birthday to the EU

I wish the EU well on its 60th birthday. The exit of the UK gives the EU a real chance to complete its currency union, and its borders union, two central features of the EU project that the UK under all parties in government was unwilling to accept. Freed of UK scepticism and reluctance, maybe the EU can now press on with building its vision of an integrated continent with a single economic policy, a single budget and more powerful Treasury at federal level, and common citizenship with external policed borders. Or maybe they will discover that the people of the other countries of Europe do not buy into that wider vision either.

It should also be time for the EU to reflect on why the UK left, why many parties on the continent are now pressing for their countries to leave the currency or even the whole Union, and why there are persistent and intense problems including high unemployment, migrations, a lack of agreement on the next steps in the Union, and a lack of proper opposition to EU policies within an EU level democratic framework.

Why, for example, has someone like me been such a critic of the EU?  After all, I belong to many of the groups that are meant to be believers in the project. I am a globalist. I believe in an outward going foreign policy, freer trade where possible, democracy and tolerance, and the pursuit of peace. These are meant to be the values of the EU leaderships as well, so why didn’t they carry me with them?

The answer is two fold. I watched their actions, and saw that so often they did not follow their own stated aims. I also saw that where they thought they were following their aims, they often chose policies which achieved the opposite of their stated ambition.

The biggest disappointment was their wish to  build a large one size fits all bureaucracy seeking to control every aspect of life. This was never compatible with the wider ideals of liberty and democracy. It made creating a single demos even more difficult than it was going to be. With so many different languages and levels of economic development it was never going to be easy to get people to believe in a new European state.

They never followed the aim of building democracy into the EU properly. The Parliament was added, but it does not provide the government nor control the government. Too much power rests in the unelected and often unaccountable Commission. These full time officials can manipulate the member states and play them off against the Parliament. There is no organised opposition to the EU government suggesting an alternative programme or approach, or ready to take over when people have had enough a particular EU government. In practice all the new laws are usually Commission ideas brokered with fluctuating factions of member states and the Parliament. The whole development is a ratchet to greater Union, even where past steps have demonstrably failed or proved unpopular.

They never followed the aim of promoting prosperity. Their currency scheme was bound to produce wild booms and busts in differing member states economies, as Ireland, Spain, Greece and others found to their cost. It was all entirely predictable – as I wrote often. After all we had seen the damage the European Exchange Rate Mechanism did. The Euro was just the version of that you could not easily get out of.

Their austerity policies which followed the boom bust entry of the Euro into many economies has created resentments and confined a whole generation of southern young people to unemployment.

They never worked out how to decide who could be a European citizen, and how to run orderly borders. Instead of the tolerance they wanted, they have created hostile attitudes to new arrivals in many parts of the continent.

Their birthday party should be a meeting for reappraisal. Do less, and do it better. Or get consent to the grand vision. Above all, try being democratic for a change. I saw from the beginning that the EU would not be to our liking. I read the Treaty of Rome which was never a Treaty for a free trade area as advertised. It was always a country in the making, where ambition far outran practicality.

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87 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Exactly right it was always a drive for a single anti-democratic, socialist, the EU knows best, country, run largely in the interest of bureaucrats and the elite. Trampling over the people, destroying jobs and giving more and more government, tax, red tape, expensive energy policy, expensive food, insane CAP, a daft fishing policy, daft legal rulings everywhere …… indeed insanity all over the place in the EU and sill more is spewed out every day. Thank goodness we (might?) get out. Why are we still waiting for the socialist, ditherer and ex(?) remainer Theresa finally to serve the notice?

    Much of this was pointed out at the time of the last referendum by Enoch Powel, Tony Benn and Peter Shaw. But the socialists had left such a mess of the UK as they always do that few listened and the “it’s just a common market” lie won the day.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      It’s true that the Treaty of Rome made it clear that the founders of the European movement always envisaged a single, federal European superstate. This was indeed, pointed out by Powell, Benn and Shaw in 1975 and was the main reason I voted to leave at that time.

      But in 1950s and 1960s the EEC was a leviathan in its early stages. Many people saw only the benefits of easier trade between the Western European states and the consequent post-war economic miracle. Looking back, we can see that the 1950s and 60s were the high tide for the European movement. Much of the bureaucratisation, the interference and of course, the Euro was to come.

      John wishes them well in their centralising endeavours, but if this means more of the same, he must know that failure is assured.

      Theresa May has had the good taste and manners to delay the triggering of BREXIT until the completion of the EU celebrations. But with the exit of the UK and spectre of Madame le Pen, the EU party must be a very nervous affair indeed.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Given we are leaving we can certainly wish them well, but do not need to give them presents of any kind, as we have already helped pay for the Party.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Good to see Naga Munchetty presenting Newsnight. I suspect she is still another “BBC think” person, but surely an improvement on the existing team of lefty, chip on the shoulder, second rate art graduates who seem to have no grasp of reality, economics, science, logic, risk reward, engineering or much else.

    Though even Naga read English at Leeds, but good luck to her surrounded by all those lefty dopes.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Naga is a right good laugh. She has a great sense of humour and is a wonderful personality.

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Naga!

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m surprised you still watch it,LL;I gave up before Paxman left.I do have fond memories of the Peter Oborne vs the “idiot from Brussells”edition though.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Charles Moore is alas right in the Telegraph today.

    The words are well meant, but the sad truth is that we do give in to terrorism.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Allister Heath is sound today in the Telegraph too, as usual.

    “It’s time for Trump to learn from Reagan.”

    Also it is time for T May to stop her pathetic dithering, cut out her bonkers Theresa Miliband socialism and learn from Reagan nad Thatcher too. We need far less state not more dear. Time to get real and grow up at your age.

  6. Old Albion
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Every Empire in history has eventually crumbled. The EU will be no different. The only question is when will it happen?

    • getahead
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Don’t hold your breath.

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Next step having failed on critical requirements is an EU Army with nuclear weapons. That’ll fix Russia apparently? Trouble with most of it now is a major net contributor is leaving and Verhofstadt acknowledges that major reform(s) are needed. Bit late for that I’d say!

    Wrong on..immigration, finance, currency, borders…most policies really! Overstretched and under brained.

    • Bob
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Very unwise to allow the EU to become a military power.
      Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Well, according to media reports their birthday declaration will say that “Our Union is undivided and indivisible”, which is plainly inconsistent with the undisputed legal fact that the UK is still part of it. Perhaps they should add “… apart from the member state which has decided to leave and which is not represented here today”.

    Do I wish the EU well on this anniversary? Well, not really, because I think it is a very bad thing; but on other hand without gushing over its supposed wonders we should make it clear that we have no intention of trying to break it up. We are going our way, they are going theirs, and it is up to each of the remaining countries to decide whether they wish to follow us without us interfering or shouting encouragement from the sidelines.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Eurozone is booming, growth is soaring and this quarter may equal that of the UK:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/03/24/eurozone-booms-economy-shows-signs-overcoming-long-crisis/

    But of course it may not last, once Brexit hits it may collapse …

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Just returning from Europe there is precious little to celebrate.
      Across the Po valley in Northern Italy there are swathes of industries boarded up.
      In Spain there are thousands of villas and apartments for sale. Shops abandoned and youngsters hanging around with no jobs.
      There are immigrants everywhere living in makeshift accommodation (etc ed).
      Not many waving the flag.

      Reply No, that is interesting. I was struck in Amsterdam recently by the presence of many Dutch and Amsterdam flags and no EU ones.

      • Andy
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        And it is worse, much worse, in Greece. You see respectable once middle class people looking in rubbish bins for bits of food. The Greeks have been treated with callous indifference by the EU.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted March 25, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          This is the problem. The people in Brussels are largely in denial, apart from a handful of realists. They live in a parallel universe. With all the perks, they are socially and emotionally detached. It’s as if they have no sense of reality of what is actually happening out on the streets, and no really constructive ideas how to solve it.

          Those who inhabit the ivory towers of the EU, still talk of it in glowing terms. Fiddling whilst Rome burns, and the pro-EU people in this country still lap it up and speak of our exit from it as a disaster. Maybe the BBC and others ought to show balance and concentrate on the real damage and harm the place has caused, and not continually and relentlessly try to sell us a false image.

          Tad

  10. Mark B
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I say again, we have not left the EU. We are still full paying members and continue to be until we leave.

    Boom and busts are not unique to the EU. Ask Gordon Brown.

    I do not wish the EU anything other than an Art.50 and a goodbye.

    The EU Project was always designed to rid the people of their democracy. The elite saw what the EU could one day be – power without accountability. Less 5 presidents’ more 5 absolute rulers.

    So one day we will be leaving and, perhaps, the other 27 will come to realise that once again the people of England saved them from tyranny.

  11. Alan
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Whatever you think of how well the EU works surely its aim of uniting and coordinating the nations of Europe is a better idea than the objective of splitting Europe into nations which use diplomacy and fighting to resolve any problems. That approach killed millions of people in the last century.

    The EU is by far the most democratic international organisation I can think of. The UN, NATO, The Council of Europe, EFTA, EEC do not have any method at all for us to elect representatives. Instead they are staffed entirely by people appointed by the governments of the nations or by the organisation itself.

    I agree the EU Parliament should be more influential and important, but you have to face the fact that although Eurosceptics believe that the EU is governing all aspects of our lives, in practice it deals with the details of running a single market that most people have little interest in. It just isn’t true that the EU runs all details of our lives. Most controversy in the UK is about things that are largely within the powers of the UK Parliament or of the devolved nations. Look at what we are discussing now – Brexit, grammar schools, security, railways – they are all predominantly run by the UK .

    I could go on, but what’s the point? By a constant campaign of carping about the EU, a list of imagined policies (straight bananas!) , by downright lies, we have been persuaded to damage the EU by leaving. I think this is a great pity, but the Eurosceptics have been successful and will never now change their minds, nor accept that they have persuaded the people to make a terrible mistake.

    Reply Look at the massive range of competences in the Treaties and the 2000 plus new laws each year from the EU. it ranges widely over the environment, social policy, employment, foreign affairs, defence procurement, signle currency, banking, home affairs, borders, justice etc

    • John Archer
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      The EU is by far the most democratic international organisation I can think of.

      Firstly, and in more general terms, an arrangement of any sort is either democratic or it isn’t. There are no shades in between.

      Secondly, no international organisation is, or could be, democratic. This follows from its very definition, the keyword here being international. Only nation states can be democratic because only nation states have demoi, and each of those by definition is exclusive: its members, AKA ‘the people’—the demos, have agreed that they and they alone shall rule. To be clear, if an international organisation were to become democratic it would cease to be international, and would simply become national, and that could be done only if the respective demoi agreed to merge into a single demos.

      At this stage the EU remains international because there has never been any merger of the demoi of its member states, nor has any been proposed or put to the demoi concerned. So by definition it is NOT democratic. Indeed it is far worse than merely not democratic. It is anti-democratic.

      As for the “most” in your “most democratic”, even that is wrong. If instead you had said that “The EU is maximally democratic among the international organisations I can think of” then you would be right since all international organisations are equally maximally democratic in not being democratic at all.

      What I find so amazing is how easily people fall for the idea that “having a vote” or say in some arrangement necessarily makes that arrangement democratic. It doesn’t. But that is the lie that is sold to them every day by the euromaniacs. A vote without first establishing a demos for it is fraud, pure and simple. And those perpetrating it should be tried.

      Contrary to Mr Redwood’s expressed sentiments, I do NOT wish the EU well. Rather I wish for its total destruction. The sooner it is dead and buried the better. That cannot come fast enough for me. If I could do anything to further that end I would. It is a threat to all Europeans, and beyond, while it exists.

  12. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    These words should be printed large and posted in every public building and every school and university in the land.

  13. Brexit Facts4EU.org
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    A nicely-worded piece if we may say so, Mr Redwood. With your kind permission we have reprinted this as part of our news coverage today, along with some articles containing our own thoughts and research relating to today’s celebrations for the EU.
    Best wishes,
    The pro-Brexit Facts4EU.Org Research Team
    http://facts4eu.org/news.shtml

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, some petition news.

    The petition against another Scottish independence referendum:

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/180642

    is now at 213,463 signatures; from the map they are almost entirely from Scotland, and if it was scaled up to the while UK it would be around 2.5 million. So far there has been no government response and no date for a debate in Parliament. Meanwhile the petition demanding a second independence referendum is still at only 37,203.

    The government has just responded to the petition “Ensure the British fishing waters are returned to the UK post Brexit” which now stands at 41,350:

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/185827

    I’m not sure that the response is quite as watertight as it seems:

    “On leaving the EU, the UK will control fisheries access in its Exclusive Economic Zone and manage those waters in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    As a coastal state outside the EU, the UK will be responsible, under international law, for control of UK waters and the sustainable management of fisheries within the UK’s Exclusive economic Zone. The UK will negotiate as an independent coastal state.

    We want to use this opportunity to create a resilient, competitive and ultimately more profitable UK Seafood sector, and deliver a cleaner, healthier and more productive marine environment. We will work to achieve the best possible deal for the whole of the UK fishing industry in negotiations.”

    • acorn
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Common Fisheries Policy. “It is also worth noting that even now, when stocks are being rebuilt, the UK industry’s gross profit margin has increased from a healthy 15% in 2008 to 35% in 2014 and now stands at €367 million, the highest in the EU. For the UK fishing industry, EU management seems to be delivering benefits despite protests coming from the UK itself.” (Griffin Carpenter New Economics Foundation.)

      Wait till we get into the Common Agricultural policy! That will be an even bigger Brexiteer fantasy trip.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      “We will work to achieve the best possible deal for the whole of the UK fishing industry in negotiations.”

      Either these fishing grounds are ours or they are not; if they are ours which is true under international law, there is nothing to negotiate as we dont in those circumstances have a legitimate negotiating partner. If that woman thinks she can appease the Scots by giving them back all there fishing grounds, whilst treating our own fishing industry as a negotiating chip to appease the Brussels regime for a ‘better’ deal, she will destroy the Tory Party for all time because the circumstances under which the French formulated the CFP just before traitor Heath was to hand over our sovereignty, and the Brussels regime has used our money since to erode our access to our waters whilst facilitating Spaniards and other to take over demonstrates that they are and have always been our enemy and should be treated as such; let’s wish them all the bad luck in the world: they deserve it.

    • miami.mode
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      DC. Hopefully our fishing waters will not become a bargaining tool in the ultimate deal we get from the EU, but I have my doubts.

    • eeyore
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Another petition which may be of especial interest to readers of this blog is the one against the increase in probate fees or, to give it its official name, the Wicked Tory Death Tax: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175 .

      Oh for the happy days of yore, when the worst that happened when you died was the taxman impounded your corpse, ravished your daughter and galloped off with your best pig.

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

    Sadly those in power, the commission, will not cede power willingly. Nor do I know of any mechanism for power to be taken from them. It is only in true democracies that this can happen at the will of the people. In the case of the EU it will have to be fought for. I hope that any fighting follows our example of giving in our notice.

    So many EU members are newcomers to the concept of democracy as we understand it. One principal is that whoever is in power governs for all. Not necessarily so in all EU states. Where not, the people tend to take to the streets. I anticipate that the next five years may be fractious for the EU, because the people may wish to leave but their governments may not. It was more a case of luck than judgement that the question was put to the British people. France for instance is nearing a tipping point as are Italy and Greece. A successful result of Brexit will not help the EU case in the eyes of their component nations.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted March 26, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Had Nigel Farage never been born the vote would never have happened. He is a man of the people and had the hapless Cameron on the ropes.

  16. David Edwards
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Whilst I am wholeheartedly behind Brexit I am concerned that we have left the field clear for a strengthening of Germany’s political and economic hegemony. If that were to happen I would not want to be a southern European.

    • Andy
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      The UK made a huge mistake joining in the first place. Had we stayed in EFTA I reckon many of the eastern states would have joind that, and this would have been a very effective counterweight to German hegemony.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Correct, thanks to Heath we fed the EEC/EC/EU beast.

        But the EFTA we helped to found and then left no longer exists as we helped to found it, the name is the same but the founding treaty is not.

        http://www.efta.int/legal-texts/efta-convention/detailed-overview-of-the-efta-convention

        “The updated EFTA Convention, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and entered into force on 1 June 2002, in parallel with the EU-Swiss Bilateral Agreements. It included several significant changes, of which the most important was the integration of the principles and rules established between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in the EEA Agreement, and between the EU and Switzerland in the EU-Swiss Bilateral Agreements. Important new provisions included the free movement of persons, trade in services, movement of capital and protection of intellectual property.”

        • hefner
          Posted March 26, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          DC, thanks really for this info on EFTA. I had completely missed the “update”.

  17. Antisthenes
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I cannot see how the EU can hold together considering the disparity of economies, the lack of democratic accountability and it’s technocratic nature. Although we are now conditioned to accept redistribution of wealth the scale the EU wishes to engage in it is unrealistic. The richer nations are being asked to underwrite poorer ones on the understanding they will mend their ways and therefore not forever be a drain on their economies. All nations are being asked to forgo their democratic rights for the greater good of the EU and to be ruled under a system that is all but in name a socialist dictatorship.

    Political and economic union are designed to overcome these obstacles. They will not they will only exacerbate them and entrench them and the illusion that the EU is a road to prosperity and security will be shattered. To Brexiteers and growing numbers on the continent it already has. After Brexit with Brussels unfettered by the UK’s lack of enthusiasm for union they will pick up the pace of imposing their vision of an European superstate. It is probable that their dream will never come to fruition as Germany and others will come to recognise that union is a price not worth paying. After all if we can see the obvious dangers so should they. However sometimes hubris and idealism blinds us to reality and they may remain committed to impoverishing themselves and create a union built of glass.

  18. libertarian
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Dear Newmania

    Any thoughts on this piece of news ?

    Deutsche Bank has committed to moving to a new office in London, at a time when banks are assessing their place in the capital ahead of Brexit.

    Germany’s biggest lender is in exclusive talks for a 25-year lease on a new building.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39378521

    ps London is and will remain the worlds financial capital

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I keep banging on about arts + culture, but the Telegraph cite culture as one (out of four) important reasons why banks like London (the others being scale, cost + rule of law).

      If we continue with Heathrow 3 and more planes buzzing over London, London might become that bit more unattractive to live in (i know a Canadian who left Richmond, London, because the aeroplane noise pollution was too much for her).

      London’s value as a cultural asset is enormous. Not just for attracting banks. But also for tourists. Above all, as a source for patriotism (love of country – with arts, buildings and natural surroundings playing a key role in this).

      (Btw, I voted Remain, and have to eat humble pie more and more ..).

      • libertarian
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Ed M

        Yes that is true that culture, art and lifestyle play a big part in the attractiveness of London. What most people fail to appreciate is that the majority of the big banks are Anglosphere based i.e. US, Canadian, Australian, NZ, Hong Kong , Singapore as well as our own British institutions. Those non anglo banks tend to value English language and contract law as the basis for global trade.

        However the main reason that banks won’t move is banking and financial infrastructure. The exchanges, clearing houses , etc

        As an example

        CHAPS is a British based same day sterling clearing system handling 32 million CHAPS transactions totalling over £61 trillion per year from 4,500 customer banks.

        London clears around three-quarters of all euro-denominated derivatives. The City also leads in clearing other derivatives such as currency swaps

        The City’s traders now sell more than twice as many euros as all the countries of the Eurozone combined, and London’s three main clearing houses handle around €1 trillion of euro trades daily.

        Clustered around this in close proximity are all the law, accounting and insurance services required to keep the industry serviced

        As you will appreciate the vast majority of this activity is technology based these days and nearly all the worlds major Financial IT talent works in the City and lives in SE England.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted March 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          @Lib.

          Thanks for this.

          But culture still important for workers (and not just in banks). Also, need to preserve London as cultural asset for tourism but above all as great source of patriotism.

          And H3 is not absolutely necessary anyway, when there are other viable options for airport expansion in the south.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted March 25, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            What we don’t need right now is some short-term, accountant-like thinking to ruin our great city with buzzing planes from H3 (accountants are great but not, necessarily, when considering, creatively, the long-term value of a cultural asset impacting the financial and creative industries in London, tourism and patriotism).

        • hefner
          Posted March 26, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          What is the future of UCITS funds?

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Even if London does not remain the word’s financial capital.

      In recent decades it has drawn millions of the world’s most talented and they are now bonded here by virtue of mortgages and the love they have of their London home.

      “They can cash in their equity and move to Frankfurt quids in.”

      Only a few can before causing a property crash. 99% of them are stranded with us – so London has a great future whatever happens. Talented and energetic people do not quit and will not allow themselves to be strangled by *punishers* in Brussels.

      • libertarian
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        Quite right, also bare in mind that the banks are sitting on office property in Canary Wharf alone purchased for £2.1 billion as well as HSBC building which on its own was purchased for £1.1 billion if they decided to leave in big numbers, who would buy from them at this price even

        Canary Wharf Group was granted planning permission for a major eastwards expansion of the Canary Wharf estate ( Wood Wharf). The plans include the construction of 30 buildings comprising a total of 4.9 million square feet, including shops, 1.9 million square feet of commercial offices and 3,100 homes. First buildings to be occupied at the end of 2018

    • acorn
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      It’s a cost cutting move, DB has €8 billion capital reinforcement need. It is getting rid of 15 other buildings and putting all (???) its London staff into a new building at Moorgate, in six years time.

  19. John
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I remember reading the ToR perhaps 35 years ago on a pensions related matter. People were getting concerned that perhaps the EU could take peoples pension assets and share them with the rest of the EU.

    The relevant part nobly said that the assets of one nation state cannot be shared with another nation state. But all was not what it seemed when you tried to find out what the ToR regarded as a nation state asset. Try as you might its just a maze that leads to nowhere. That begs the question why would the brilliant lawyers not be able to define nation state assets?

    The answer was clear though took me some time to realise. The ToR was all about creating a new country and the definition of nation state assets was not there because they were or are intended to be shared one day.

  20. James Neill
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    What I see when I read this diary is a very long critical piece well rounded but not very well balanced- some people might call it a rant. So now it’s a pity that this investigative reasoning could not also focus on some of our own UK chaotic makeup and decipher some of our own anomalies in the same way- maybe then we might begin to look at ourselves and understand the absurdity of why we as a people are about to push the button and turn our backs on a consumer market of some 500 million people- Jeez.. we’re so perfect?

    Reply We are not turning our backs on the EU market! Nor are we perfect, but we have democratic ways of changing things we do not like. Why don’t you try to answer about the EU and why it is good?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      The real absurdity is for people to constantly harp on about our exports to the rest of the EU while completely, deliberately, and dishonestly ignoring their much greater exports to us. But we are not complaining about our chronic, massive trade deficit with the rest of the EU, we are not saying that we want restrictions on that two-way trade; the determination to reinstate unnecessary barriers to trade is coming from them not us, and their motivation is purely political. It is in fact coming pretty close to imposing illegal economic sanctions on the UK in an attempt to control our policy.

    • acorn
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      James, trade will go on but prices will change and subsequently affect the volumes of the goods traded. Imports are a benefit to the citizens of the importing country.

      We get to own the likes of a BMW M5 Alpina, in exchange for some bits of paper called Pounds Stirling. By doing so we are directly employing lots of Germans who make them BMWs for us; and, otherwise would be out of work and on the social in Germany.

      Germany ends up with a lot of Pounds Sterling (foreign exchange reserves) at the BoE. It has to find something to do with all them Pounds. London Property; Gilts etc. As long as those foreigners think the Pound is going to hold its value against their home currencies, all will be fine. If not they will sell them Pounds like they did in 2008/9.

      What Brexiteers are forgetting, is that import tariffs (taxes), put up the price of BMWs to UK voters. Mind you, the higher the tariff on the import, the higher the price Vauxhall can charge for a UK assembled vehicle. Like wise, no import tariff; Vauxhall motors profit margins shrink.

      The UK does not want to get into a position where foreign central banks are supporting the Pound, to aid their own exporters sales. The UK economy has to be strong enough to support its own currency and be seen globally doing it.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted March 26, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      The decline in our manufacturing base and reliance on foreign components to assemble products here has been accelerated by our membership. We now have the opportunity, if our government(s) see the light, to reverse the export of jobs and manufacturing that has occurred in recent decades. Rampant trade unions are also blameworthy (still evident UK BMW Mini pension dispute) but the chance to get back our engineering and manufacturing heritage will be a massive bonus on leaving the EU.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I sincerely wish the EU well.

    It has morphed into something that OUR OWN politicians said it never would – so it’s their fault and not the EU’s in my book.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      @Anonymous; “It has morphed into something that OUR OWN politicians said it never would”

      Wrong, Mr Heath was quite open about the eventual aims of the EEC as stated by the TEEC, stating that there would be both eventual political and currency union and that the EEC would of course work towards such a goal in the years to come. Heath did so in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast on the 24 January 1972 (the recording resurfacing, in part, on BBC Parliament during mid 2015).

      If that was not enough, and at the time (of our accession, the two 1974 general elections and the 1975 referendum) other politicians of the day, notably Enoch Powell, Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Peter Shore all spoke about the true aims of the Treaty of Rome. Do not blame politicians if others chose not to listen to them or did not understand!

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    A shocking article in the Reactionary Times today:

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/europeans-blocked-from-jobs-in-department-running-brexit-nk6hltpfd

    “Europeans blocked from jobs in department running Brexit”

    “The Department for Exiting the European Union is undertaking a recruitment drive to hire dozens of new civil servants for Article 50 talks.

    However, ministers have been accused of being in the grip of paranoia after it emerged that a number of jobs will be reserved for British citizens only.”

    A shocking article only because of its lack of balance, its failure to even mention this:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/781571/Brexit-news-German-bid-ban-British-moles-EU-meetings

    “German bid to ban British ‘moles’ from EU meetings over fears they will leak Brexit plan”

    “GERMAN MPs have launched an audacious bid to get British officials and politicians banned from EU meetings over fears they will leak the bloc’s Brexit strategy to Downing Street.”

    They say the scenario of officials from the UK being involved directly in negotiating with the British government on a number of key issues is unthinkable and must be prevented.

    German MP Heribert Hirte, from Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party, called the situation “intolerable” and called for a quarantine of UK staff, saying: “You can not serve two masters.””

    Quite right too, and this is not an invention or distortion by the Express:

    http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/brexit/eu-maulwuerfe-50915934.bild.html

    “You can not serve two masters,” says CDU deputy Heribert Hirte to BILD. The fact that British EU officials were negotiating the Brexit with British government officials would lead to a conflict of interests that was “intolerable”, she said.”

    • Andy
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I don’t consider the EU to be friendly towards the UK and its desire to establish military forces makes me very nervous. Nor are all the 27 great friends of the UK – some are, some openly hostile. I would hope that MI6 are busy keeping a watchful eye.

  23. Nigel Holder
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Sir Richard Branson should read John Redwood’s Happy Birthday message to the EU and reflect on what “Real Facts” he would wish to adduce in support of his proposed second referendum.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I think the main “facts” he was interested in was what was simpler administratively and politically for his particular business interests. Perhaps wining landing slots and the likes. But these are not typical of most businesses.

      We are far better off out. Just get on with it Theresa.

      • Jerry
        Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        @LL; Nothing wrong in that surely, if the EU were to make your business life easier (rather than wishing to, in your opinion, throw barriers in the way) would you not take advantage, I though you extolled the virtues of entrepreneurship creating wealth, both personal and otherwise?

  24. Oggy
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Sending Article 50 letter is the best birthday present we could wish for.

  25. Tad Davison
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Why do I have the words ‘Bilderburg group’ ringing in my ears?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Jerry
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      @Tad Davison; Why do I have the words [….] ringing in my ears?

      Because you love conspiracy theories rather than facts?…!

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Oh dear! You always have to react and ruin it. You must love to read your own stuff over and over again. Does it give you a buzz?

        So as an insider, please tell us what you know about the Bilderberg group then. We’ll all be really interested.

  26. Peter Wood
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Democracy is a strange and wonderful thing; difficult to define precisely but we know when it is being threatened and know to defend it at all costs. The EU fails to live up to the standard we, as a nation, require.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    By the way, if anybody wants to actually read the treaty, sixty years too late:

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

    Note not only the famous opening line:

    “DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”

    but also Article 3(c):

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

    where it says “persons”, not “workers”; and for good measure the references to qualified majority voting for some decisions from the start, especially for the budget in Article 203 – so those particular seeds for later British discontent were sown in 1957.

    But also note that even after the treaty had come into legal force there was still a long transitional or implementation period:

    “ARTICLE 8

    1. The common market shall be progressively established during a transitional period of twelve years.

    This transitional period shall be divided into three stages of four years each; the length of each stage may be altered in accordance with the provisions set out below.

    2. To each stage there shall be assigned a set of actions to be initiated and carried through concurrently … ”

    So there will be nothing untoward if our withdrawal treaty similarly includes transitional provisions running for some time after we have left the EU.

    That would not be the same thing as the UK moving from the EU to some unsatisfactory but supposedly only transitional status, which may later turn out to be permanent.

  28. English Pensioner
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I believe that the main problem with the EU was that it was built from the top down, not the bottom up.
    Prior to the EU there were a number of government supported organisations working across Europe and most of them worked well. One that I was particularly familiar was Eurocontrol, the organisation for Air Traffic Control across Europe. It was born of the pressing need to standardise systems and ideas as computers and more modern technology came into use. Fifty years ago, all communication between control centres was by teleprinters (if anyone remembers them) but when computers came in there was obviously a need to standardise the communication protocols, to give but one example. Eurocontrol did this well, didn’t require huge offices and a large number of administrators thinking up new ideas and rules.
    But that it is what happened when it became part of the EU; it then wanted to take over the national control centres and run them itself. Fortunately the plan was stopped, but this is typical EU attitude, take something over and try to dictate how it was run.
    EU is typical of control freaks, nothing must happen unless it approves of it!

  29. Dennis Zoff
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    It defies all logic how the EU has compiled such inexcusable errors over the past 60 years. The UK consensus concludes simply that the EU appears to be speeding in one direction to an uncertain goal, regardless of the heaps of flotsam emanating from its rear!

    Further, 17M+ UK residents generally confine themselves to dismissing the EU as (a) over bloated legal administration, (b) non-listening, unyielding bureaucracy, (c) full of self-serving failed politicians, (d) ineffable profligacy and (e) unbending slavishness to a suspect Soviet style ideology.

    Given all the conspiracy theories that have abounded over the years, most notably Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-Europa idea and the so called Bilderberg execution of his plan, one wonders how Europe will pan-out now that the UK is no longer a negator to their long term planning?

    Food for thought. Is it possible the EU is really just going through predictable growing pains, for when one looks closely at Westminster there appears to be similarities to a, b, c and d?

  30. ian
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    You have just sum up the way this country and the UK is run to a Tee, john.

  31. ian
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Can not wait myself to see the UK leaves the eu, then you going see the UK on the world stage with all their seats on international bodies and at conferences telling everybody how it done, of cos this going to cost a lot of money with more staff and bigger aids budget to show that they are world leaders and not just a forgotten empire, of cos they be spinning what going through the media, they will need a much bigger arm forces to go with there ego, back home you can look forward to many more years of austerity as they build out their plans at whitehall, your still get white elephant projects at home but little change in the tax system or pension or road building or house building, like road building is all ready being cut back and house building never really got off the ground and i can see the hospital and schools grinding on for years to come with no extra money as it will used for looking good on the world stage, it reminds me of castle in the sky.

    • DaveM
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Still better than being in the EU.

  32. Bert Young
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I never was a fan of the EU . I did not vote for in the first place and , as events unfolded , became more and more distraught over its antics with , so-called , unity and uniformity . It always was and remains a profligate bureaucracy ; its accounts have not been been signed off for years and , with the introduction of the Euro , all its attempts at true integration have failed . Dissent throughout the EU is rife .

  33. ChrisS
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    There was a fascinating piece by veteran BBC correspondent David Willey on Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday.

    David was in Rome in 1957 as a very junior Reuters correspondent. He revealed that the founding members could not agree a single text before the signing ceremony and as a result, the leaders signed a treaty consisting of a signature page and a sheaf of blank pages beneath it !

    It shows that nothing much has changed over 60 years.

    If a mere six leaders back in 1957 could not agree on the wording of a single text in time for a grand signing ceremony, what chance have 28 or soon to be 27 ? It does not bode well for a Brexit deal.

    No wonder they measure the length of EU summits by the number of shirts required in the leader’s luggage !

    • Jerry
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      ChrisS; “He revealed that the founding members could not agree a single text before the signing ceremony and as a result, the leaders signed a treaty consisting of a signature page and a sheaf of blank pages beneath it!

      Oh how you miss quote a well known fact and what David Willey actually said in on the Today programme. (I won’t post a URL, the programme is easy to find, David Willey’s report starts at around 2Hrs 24mins).

      Mr Willey clearly states in his report; “the text was agreed between the six in Brussels” (by which we must assume he means national governments via their negotiators) but was not delivered in time for the signing ceremony “due to a hiccup between Brussels and Rome” [1] – not quite the omni-shambles you suggest. Anyway, even if it was the first ever time that such a ‘fake’ document was signed I doubt is was the last, and not just within the EEC/EU either.

      The same report also, by way of the contemporary Italian report from 1957, also appears to put to bed the europhobe lie that the EEC’s founders/signatories hid their eventual intent for a United States of Europe.

      [1] I seem to recall it was either a printing or transport problem, remember this was long before modern printing methods

    • ChrisS
      Posted March 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Here is a link to a BBC page with David Willey’s report :

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39365281

  34. Jack snell
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to understand why some contributors keep harping on about a lack of democracy in europe while there are so many national electons taking place at the moment that the whole of the other EU political business seems to have come to a near standstill. And as the EU parliamentarians and all of the EU Council representatives/leaders themselves are fully elected so we have full democracy here too- in fact the only people in the EU hierarchy not elected are the members of the EU Commission which is the de facto EU civil service- and just like the british civil service it is not an elected body…some EU commission jobs are there through appointment by the EU commission, some by the Parliament or the EU Council itself- but some other jobs also happen by way of career movement..in this regard brussels is no different to the UK. So it’s difficult to see how the EU is failing in democratic representation- in fact to my mind i believe we could have an over emphasis on democracy and elections altogether which could be actually stifling to commercial enterprise and political movement..but then on the other hand we could also be just suffering from too much government.. both EU government and UK government..
    Maybe ‘too many chiefs and not enough indians’!

  35. Colin Hart
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    The EU project is well intentioned but seriously misguided. Governing without consent never works. Democracy is unattainable where there is a multiplicity of languages and media. The best thing they could all do in Rome this weekend is start to talk about going their separate ways while staying friends, trading freely and working together where and when they can. Anything else will end in tears or worse…

  36. Street Waifs
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    In the last few days the London Walkabout Tribe has been on the streets in London. Protesting against Brexit and racism. But who to? or, “to whom” sounds more posh. The street lamps and shops didn’t look particularly racist, but then I only saw them externally. It is impossible they voted either Leave or Remain.
    Mr Farron MP was shouting something about Brexit but his voice was drowned by someone shouting to his rear about Brexit. A good shout was had by all.

    Mr Lammy MP was happy, he said: “democracy has returned to the streets” whatever that means, after a Referendum and so many votes in Parliament you could have weighed them.
    One DIY placard of a young person read: “I’m quite cross about Brexit”.
    Many of the London Walkabout Tribe looked like well-educated versions of the LibDem leader and I’m quite cross Higher Education does not impart a basic knowledge of voting procedures, democracy and that kind of stuff.

  37. Simon
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    That is a lovely piece of writing John. You capture the mood perfectly. It is horrifying and really quite a jaw dropping criticism of our ruling class that so few (a mere handful) of them ever seem to have read the big EU treaties either before or after we sign up to them. That can’t be right.

  38. Original Richard
    Posted March 25, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Of course we wish the EU well as we leave.

    For it will not be good for us if the EU falls apart, although this may happen if the EU is unable to solve its Euro crisis through fiscal transfers from the richer to poorer nations and continues with Mrs. Merkel’s unilateral immigration policies causing social disorder.

    But judging from remarks made by EU bureaucrats and some national leaders I do not believe that they are looking to wish us well.

    This is not surprising as the EU has been fleecing us for years and our leaving will represent a huge economic loss to them when we leave.

    We are paying £10bn/year net to be a member, a fee which has been used to develop other member states infrastructure at our expense.

    We have a trade deficit with the EU of £100bn/year.

    We gave away our valuable fishing grounds, currently estimated to be worth £6.3bn/year.

    We have provided jobs, housing, schooling, healthcare and welfare benefits to millions of EU nationals through massive asymmetric inward migration. These EU nationals send £7bn/year back home.

    The EU subsidised the moving of UK factories to other EU nations.

    In addition, the situation for the UK would be getting worse as the EU intends to expand to include Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Ukraine.

    Never mind its continuing troubles with Turkey.

  39. Mick
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/783760/Tim-Farron-Remainers-Europe-march-Westminster-Brexit-protest-days-after-terror-attack
    I see Farron and the rest of the other deluded muppets were having a party in London for the eu 50th, tell you what why not board some transport over to your beloved Europe and live there that way we don’t have to be bombarded with this rubbish by the media every time a few brain washed remoaners throw there toys out of the pram

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    From Tusk’s birthday speech:

    http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/25-tusk-ceremony-rome-speech/

    “Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all. Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world. And only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens.”

    “The Union after Rome should be, more than before, a Union of the same principles, a Union of external sovereignty, a Union of political unity.”

    As the Sunday Telegraph puts it today:

    “Yesterday in Rome the EU celebrated its 60th anniversary, and it behoves a friend and neighbour to say “happy birthday”. But there are good reasons why the UK voted for Brexit, reasons that became apparent during the ceremonies. Donald Tusk said: “Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe.” Britain wants no part of a sovereign Europe, so we are right to leave the EU.”

    I’m glad to see that last sentence in the editorial of a newspaper which has seemed to be wavering in recent months.

  41. John S
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I should be grateful if you would in one of your blogs, comment on the repeated fears of Brexiteers Christopher Booker and Richard North, viz. the disaster of a clean Brexit without a customs union and membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). Mr Booker mentions the electronic based system which allows trucks to move unimpeded across borders. Without this he maintained our trucks would be subject to huge delays.
    I have the greatest respect for them and your good self and I should be interested in your views on this.

    Reply Non EU goods get in fine at the moment. Why would the rest of the EU want to impede their export trucks?

    • Original Richard
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      As I have said before, Mr. Booker and Mr. North are Remainers in Brexiteer’s clothing and, having lost the EU referendum, are promoting membership of the EEA so that the UK and its assets will remain under some EU control with the idea that our decision to leave the EU can be more easily reversed.

  42. ian
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Yes mr DaveM better than being in the eu but you are not out just yet, it will be a goodthing to of got rid of one lot of rubbish but unfortunately you still have lot of rubbish hear, i understand the left of politics and where they are coming from and understand the right but the liberals and the centre i have no idea where they are coming from and you have over 500 of them in parliament.

  43. Peter D Gardner
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent summary by DR Redwood. There is another factor at play in the EU which derives from cybernetics – control and communications in complex systems. The wider the scope of the EU’s competences, the less able it is to make the right decisions. This is ineluctable. In the human body, the central nervous system is hierarchical such that low level parameters such as the pH of the blood, oxygen levels are kept relatively stable by by a low level system, whose activities the top level, in the brain is most of the time unaware. There is an alarm system, the algedonic loop, which alerts the brain if something goes wrong and is out of tolerance. So if you need to adapt to some event you don’t have to tell your heart to work faster, tell all your enzymes what to do, tell each muscle when to contract and so on. You just run for the bus, and the central nervous system takes care of the rest.
    In management terms it is delegation. Your whole team knows the overall objectives, they know their parts in achieving it and the person at the top does not nee to say how you should go about it.
    Oversimplification, but these features are simply not present in the EU’s hierarchy. There is too little autonomy at national level, no alarm system to which the system is capable of responding in a coordinated way, there are no rewards (the other part of the algedonic loop) for pleasurable responses to pleasing stimuli, the delegation to lower levels of control is not suited to the parameters within which each works.
    With such glaring and fundamental structural differences exposed by this analogy with the central nervous system, the wonder of the EU is that it functions at all. Species die out slowly, even though individuals may die quickly. There is only one supra-national government. It tries to ‘breed’ by territorial expansion. It is unsustainable , certainly as an individual specimen. And I hope nobody anywhere tries to replicate it. Let it die and become extinct in order to improve the gene pool o human ideas for the benefit of all.

  44. Ed Mahony
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    ‘to make England the New Jerusalem’

    Being in, out, or half in/out of the EU, won’t make that dramatic a change, i’m afraid, towards approaching anything near a New Jerusalem.

    – ‘We are all in paradise, but we don’t want to realise it, and if we did care to realise it, paradise would be established in all the world tomorrow.’ – Dostoevsky (and the promise of Christianity) in his brilliant novel, The Brothers Karamazov.

    (Including politicians being full of faith, wisdom, courage, honesty and work ethic like the OT’s Joseph, the Jewish vizier of ancient Egypt with his coat of many colours ..).

  • 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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