The response of the EU to the letter

It is curious that some in the EU seem to think there needs to be a long negotiation over the UK’s exit. The UK has announced its intention to leave, and can do so after two years or before by mutual agreement. It is difficult to see why these democratic friendly nations would want to keep us in the EU for a whole two years if we just want to leave and if they do not want to talk about the future relationship. Of course the UK will pay its regular bills up to the point of departure. There is no legal requirement to pay anything else.

The UK is making a very friendly and generous offer – full tariff free access to our market, full rights for all EU citizens currently here, continuing defence and security collaboration and much else. All we ask is the same courtesies in return. I always defend the other member states and EU from allegations that they want to damage themselves and us during this process. I now look forward to them living up to the fine ideals of democracy, co-operation and free trade which they say are part of the EU scheme. I would expect them to see that free access to our market is an important advantage for their farmers and others who would face higher tariffs under WTO rules.


  1. Denis Cooper
    March 30, 2017

    I think the initial response to the letter suggests that at least one of the other governments has no intention of negotiating in good faith, and unfortunately that is not the government of one of the smaller member states but that of Germany. I also think our government needs to make this clear to the rest of the world so that the blame for any consequent economic disruption is pinned firmly on those responsible, and not on the UK government.

  2. margaret
    March 30, 2017

    If Mr Tusk is so sad then why does he not encourage Brussels to keep friendly relations and build facets of Europe to mutual benefit . It seems sense to me that independent countries plus EU as a whole ,all working to build a better west will benefit from diversity of rule.

  3. Richard
    March 30, 2017

    Strange argument. The UK market is of trivial interest to the EU – about 6 per cent of total exports. The EU market is life and death to the UK – about 46 per cent of our exports.
    It follows that the UK is going to have to pay a hefty price to sell to the EU in future. Is that “taking back control”?

    1. Nickg
      April 1, 2017

      Less than 12 % of the UK GDP is made up from exports to the EU. Worst case is WTO rules and the fall in the pound covers possible tariffs, most of which are under 5% with 10% for cars.

      Meantime the EU represents 15% of the World economy and has been falling precipitously for the last few decades. Trade deals with parts of the world economy representing way more than the EU in global GDP are there for the taking in short order.

      From the UK’s perspective there is plenty to be optimistic over.

  4. Nig l
    March 30, 2017

    Agree totally. One worry, namely the amount we have to pay. It is in the EC’s interest to string out the negotiations so we continue to make our annual contribution. Theresa May should make it clear that this element will cease at the latest in two years time. Any funded projects that last longer than that should be supported until they run off. However Fifty billion seems to be being bandied about which is more than double what our contractual obligation is over the next two years and May and Hammond seem to be softening us up for a settlement at the higher end. We rely on you, IDS, JRM etc to keep Treasury largesse to a minimum. Downstream I am fully expecting EC leaders to start moral blackmail about the wider effects of our ‘attack’ on the European project and if Europe suffers, we suffer, blah blah. HMG may need to be reminded that the EC is not our responsibility and that their leaders should start the operational planning for life without our contribution rather than the grand gesture statements we are getting at present.

  5. Denis Cooper
    March 30, 2017

    Fascinating article today by Dr Patricia Hogwood, Reader in European Politics in the University of Westminster’s Department of Politics and International Relations:

    “European’s don’t negotiate like us Brits – Theresa May should take note if she wants a constructive Brexit”

    Apparently it will be entirely our fault if the negotiations fail.

  6. Peter Wood
    March 30, 2017

    Good Morning,

    It is to be hoped your friendly and reasonable idea of exit will transpire; sadly we have seen too many from the EU side taking up the ‘hard negotiating’ stance. Why?

    If it appears that there is no way to exit on reasonable and friendly terms, can we call a halt to talks and formally leave within the 2 year period? I see no reason to extend a fruitless discussion that costs us millions.

    1. Anonymous
      March 30, 2017

      Why a hard negotiating stance ?

      The EU is a political project with the creation of an elite and we have caused it grave damage.

    2. Helen
      March 30, 2017

      Mrs May has in the last 24 hours briefed that we will be paying a sum to the EU, accepting free micement if persons and the jurisdiction of the Court. And no mention of 350 million for the NHS.
      Tell me, is even one single promise of the Leave camoaign still standing?

    3. Mark
      March 30, 2017

      We can only exit by mutual agreement ahead of the two year guillotine. However the guillotine is quite automatic whatever the state of negotiations, and it ends our obligations to pay and guarantee EU spending, and to be subject to the ECJ.

  7. alan jutson
    March 30, 2017

    Simply Follow the money John.

    We are net contributors, they need our money, so they want to keep us in as long as possible.

    I see it is being reported that Sweeden has already said they are not going to pay more because we are leaving, guess that will be the case for most of the others.

    I would also hope the EU would be sensible, time will tell, but these are simply the opening comments, so plenty of time for them to reflect once the true business of negotiation is started.


    If they want to play the hard ball game, then we need to play hardball back, they may need to be reminded that we can and will simply walk away if they push us too hard.

    No doubt the EU is going to rely upon the usual bank of UK Re-moaners to constantly try to undermine our negotiation attempts, but our team, and more importantly our Prime Minister needs to be strong to resist the EU “luvvies” attempts at sabotage.

  8. JM
    March 30, 2017

    Now we find out the true colour of the beast. Is it the Hotel California? During the referendum we were told it was a club. Now it is a marriage and divorce. We were told very few of our laws were made in Brussels. Now we are told how intertwined our laws are and it is going to be well nigh impossible to disentangle ourselves. Regret and sorrow is expressed at our leaving when no effort was made to acccommodate us.

    I think the reality is they are pleased we are going. I fear Barnier, Junker and Verhofstadt actively wish us I’ll. Barnier is French; they have always hated us for centuries and have never forgiven us for bailing them out twice last century. Junket has not forgotten that Cameron opposed his nomination or the slights published repeatedly about him in the press. Verhofstadt sees us as damaging the European Project to have the United States of Europe, which he believes in with Messianic zeal. The rest of Europe sees our departure as an opportunity to take our industries from us. They will make it very unpleasant indeed. Why would anyone want to be shackled to such people.

  9. Freeborn John
    March 30, 2017

    The EU parliament is asking for a 3-year transitional period during which EU law, the jurisdiction of the ECJ, freedom movement and U.K. Budget contributions would
    Continue up to 2022, I.e. Past the next UK election. The terms if this transitional arrangement would then be quite similar to the Norway/EEA situation. Temporary arrangements in many fields have a habit of becoming permanent do there is a clear
    Danger of an unsatisfactory outcome that does not respect the referendum result.

    The EU parliaments preferred outcome would be an arrangement similar to that between the EU and Ukraine, which has to accept EU law domestically and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. I hope that you and your colleagues will ensure that such an association agreement with the UK is never accepted on such terms.

    In your separate thread this morning you ask what would be the role of ukip in the future.
    I think you are far too certain that a satisfactory brexit is going to be achieved and nothing more needs doing. I don’t believe that this was the reason why Fouglad Carswrll left UKIP which had more to do with wider political divergence between his libertarian outlook and that if UKIP. If Theresa May sells the country out on Brexit as she did on the European arrest warrant then UKIP will still have an important role in securing the completion of brexit.

  10. Bert Young
    March 30, 2017

    That negotiations should be fair and sensible is absolutely correct and setting our position on the negotiating table in such a manner is the right thing to do . I cannot and do not believe that we have any legal reason to accept a financial penalty for exiting . I do believe that there are certain areas ( safety among them ) where we will wish to continue a future working relationship with Europe and where it will involve operational costs; such conditions are sensible and we will contribute our fair share .

    It is not in our interest – or Europes , to pull up the drawbridge ; the important thing for us is to be in control of our own destiny ; being a creative and fair customer with the world at large must be our objective .

  11. agricola
    March 30, 2017

    I would guess that the EU’s main motivation in dragging out negotiations for a full two years or more is financial. We are the third largest gross contributor to their budget at £18.2 Billion. However in nett terms we are the second largest contributor. France is number two gross at £19 Billion, but takes out so much more than any other nation, £14.5 Billion that they are a low third contributor nett. Italy is much the same in fourth place. On the departure of the UK they will loose around £11 Billion. Seventeen of the twenty eight nation states are dependants. We are in effect closing down their income stream.

    Combine the above with the state of their banks. The ECB is apparently indebted to the Bundesbank to the tune of £7800 Billion, while Deutchebank has derivative contracts of Eu. 46 Trillion or put another way 12% of derivatives worldwide. Those borrowing from the ECB , Greece, Italy, Spain have little chance of repaying what they owe. To the complete financial amateur which I am , the EU is financially one great Ponzi scheme.

    The EU has a choice. Either opt for tariff free trade with the UK and as much of the rest of the World as possible or sit around like a lot of lamped sheep, making a lot of noise, but heading for the abattoir.

  12. turboterrier
    March 30, 2017

    If the media frenzy is anywhere nearly half correct it will all be doom, doom, doom.
    It is all stuff and nonsense. The UK was never married and over the course of our being a member we paid more than our fair share into the coffers. How can anyone let alone a political bloq ask for money when it has never had its accounts signed off for years?

    Our PM should when opening the discussions should be along the lines of:-

    How much?

    No not unless the fully audited accounts can be presented to the British people.

    We will offset your demands with the percentage of our money invested in the EU infrastructure in the form of buildings and their contents.

    Thank you for your time, my nation will be leaving in the next 72 hours and all our future business will be under the WTO regulations.

    Should you try to apply pressure to UK people living in your countries and use them as a bargining chip will will of course adopt the same processes regarding your people.

    For those of us who have had to experience acrimonious divorce’s the longer it takes the demands become more outrageous and everybody loses, any goodwill and trust is destroyed forever.

    The longer it goes on the more trouble will be generated from within this country as the re-moaners are going to keep regrouping to ensure that they destroy the whole process by a war of attrition despite not one of them coming up with a good argument to stay other than the mythical market of millions of people who do not buy our goods in any great quantities

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      March 30, 2017

      Unfortunately in your response you have recognised their claim for payment by saying it should be offset. Now amounts can be discussed.

      Better to introduce our contributions and the recognition of how these have been used to build up an asset vase upon which we have a claim separately.

      Perhaps instead of trade negotiators we should send divorce lawyers as You are spot on about speed and acrimony.

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 30, 2017

      I wonder what will our trade negotiators be doing while the accountants are sorting out our financial obligations and then another group of officials discuss the position of resident EU citizens in the UK and vice versa and then security experts try to sort out new arrangements, etc etc etc, until the sequential negotiations demanded by Merkel finally move on to the subject of our future trading relationship.

    3. Alan
      March 30, 2017

      The Court of Auditors said that the EU’s accounts in 2015 “present, in all material respects, a true and fair view of the EU’s financial results”. That has been the case since 2007. In that sense the accounts have been “signed off” and they are available on the EU’s website if the UK public want to read them.

      The EU is not a mythical market: it does exist. It does have millions of people. They do buy our goods: the EU takes about 40% of our exports. It also unites many of the countries of Europe and we would have been more influential if we had stayed a member. We have lost politically and economically by leaving.

  13. Mick
    March 30, 2017

    I see that the eu loving BBC/Sky and all the other eu loving remoaners cannot still except the fact that we are leaving, the best outstanding interview was watching Mr Neil totally take paddy asdown to pieces , priceless

  14. zorro
    March 30, 2017

    I can think of around 20 billion nett reasons……


    1. hans chr iversen
      March 30, 2017

      is it not amazing John asks for a friendly response from the EU institutions and key people after he has criticised them for years.

      He talks about two years for the negotiations or less, when the fact is we will need four or five years to finish all negotiations.

      John then talks about a good deal for the Europeans under WTO rules, when we know that this will hurt our service sector with higher tariffs exporting to Europe.

      Can somebody please help me make John stick to facts instead of fiction when he writes these comments.

      John, either does not know the facts or he has decided to disregard them, how depressing when you thank he wants us to take him seriously.

      John facts not fiction please going forward, or are you just lying on purpose?

      Reply Fact, there are no tariffs on services under WTO rules.
      Fact the rest of the EU faces more than twice as much tariff on exports to us as we to them
      Fact It is in the EU’s interest to retain access to our market

      1. zorro
        March 31, 2017

        My comment was that the EU will spin out the negotiations with waffle because we are paying them £10bn nett per year. It is in their interest to prolong the process. We should not play their game, and withdraw as they do not intend to negotiate in a genuine manner. The only thing that will bring them to their senses is to withdraw our funding of the EU…..


  15. Narrow Shoulders
    March 30, 2017

    There was a German MEP on Today this morning who questioned why we wanted to leave if we wanted to cooperate in so many areas. He intimated that all these areas were the preserve of the EU. He neglected to mention that these areas were already open to associate members and Turkey.

    He further opined that we were putting up borders for EU citizens where they had previously been pulled down. I am sure that the majority of people in EU member countries feel national first and European second. It is blinkered thinking such as this from those involved with (and being enriched by) the EU project that makes it impertinent that we get out.

  16. Mark Watson
    March 30, 2017

    I see that we are being accused of blackmail by some in the EU as we are linking security cooperation to trade.Do they expect us to carry on as normal, helping provide their security and defence if they won’t do a deal on trade? Do they want to have their cake and eat it? Of course threatening us with a £50b exit fee isn’t blackmail at all….hypocrites

  17. Ian Wragg
    March 30, 2017

    The trouble is we are not dealing with normal rational people. We are effectively derailing a cosy lifestyle for the EU bureaucracy and after we leave there won’t be as many goodies.
    If we stay the full 2 years we will have contributed £50 billion since the referendum so I hope your not going to capitulate to their outrageous demands.
    You are being watched especially by Farage.

  18. am
    March 30, 2017

    The EU are well aware of the onslaught against leave in the UK. Their negotiations will seek to maximise advantage from that onslaught still continuing.

  19. Jerry
    March 30, 2017

    “The UK is making a very friendly and generous offer – full tariff free access to our market, full rights for all EU citizens currently here, continuing defence and security collaboration and much else. All we ask is the same courtesies in return.”

    Except that the EU institutions and EU27 member countries might well see that as the UK government wanting their cake and eat it, so to speak. Heck there is little if any mention of the UK becoming members of the EEA or EFTA post Brexit, because each agreement in themselves would require the UK to implement certain EU directives and mandates that voters appear to reject.

    It is very true that the UK imports more than it exports to the EU (after correction for the Export figures anomaly due to how container traffic is counted when rooted via Rotterdam), but it is as true that the EU could make up for that lost trade just as the UK could import from elsewhere, assuming that we did not simply manufacture here in the UK. So why do we even bother with such “a very friendly and generous offer”, unless of course without one the UK in real problems (as the Remain Campaign claimed we would be), if that is so then quite frankly it is game over, and the EU and EU27 know they have the UK over a barrel!

    Best we just walk away, other than for certain reciprocal social rights to protect the EU27 and British expats living abroad (plus perhaps their families when visiting). No shame in WTO rules.

    As for those who say that the UK needs to be a part of a political union pretending (pretending to be a nothing more than a trading block), why this block of 27, why not the more culturally, economic and legally similar block of 50, not that I would want the UK to become the 51st state of the USA but how would it differ to remaining/rejoining the EU with the significant loss Westminster political control it has brought and will increasingly bring. So why ‘only’ the EU?…

    1. Jerry
      March 30, 2017

      With regards security, surely that comes via our respective memberships of NATO and bodies such as Interpol, so again there is no need for specific EU/UK agreements encapsulating inward looking EU bodies when any threats come from outside of the EU.

  20. Julien Tabulazero
    March 30, 2017

    Good morning,

    Just in case you did not realise, you are basically asking for all the advantages of the single markets (free trade), none of its drawbacks (free movement of workers), not be subject to the rulings of its ultimate arbiter (the ECJ), be totally free to strike any FTA you may desire (no Norway option) and above all not have to pay for it (no contribution beyond 2019).

    I think you have a perfect English expression that summarises this negotiating position: to take the mickey out of someone, who in this case would be the rest of the EU.

    Please walk-away if you feel like it but as far as I am concerned, accepting those demands is akin to ending the EU. Its survival might trump any bilateral trade we may have with you simply when comparing the flow of trade between the EU27 and the EU-UK.

    And by the way, please do not be surprised by the EU reaction. It has been clearly spelt out in advance for all to see had you bothered to read the continental press.

    Best regards

    1. Oggy
      March 31, 2017

      I’m surprised to see you here today, I thought you would have been out catching ‘those’ fish while you still can.

      1. Julien Tabulazero
        March 31, 2017

        Dear Oggy,

        I was about to but got side-tracked trying to understand how on earth did you manage bungle the delivery of article 50 by openly linking security & anti-terrorism cooperation (which works both way, by the way) to the opening of trade negotiations… just barely a week after the London attack to add to injury. The Sun headline was also pretty ghastly.

        The result is that your Foreign Secretary Johnson is busy working the phone trying to reassure everybody that “this is all a big misunderstanding” and the “UK’s commitment to the defence and security of Europe is unconditional” (his words).

        Mind = Blown.


  21. Doug Powell
    March 30, 2017

    A swift exit would be in everyone’s interest, particularly the Business Community’s.

    If the tame anti Brexit EU dignitaries the BBC wheeled out are to be believed it could happen earlier than we dared hope, because they were unanimous that we would have to pay up front before trade negotiations could begin. Good, that means we could walk away after the first meeting and move directly to WTO!

    I think your descripton of the EU as “democratic friendly nations” is, although generous, wide of the mark. Don’t forget the 9 months of threats that were showered upon us, and the disgraceful treatment of our Prime Minister at the December Summit, where she was subjected to orchestrated cold-shouldering by the leaders of these same democratic friendly nations!

    Also, don’t be fooled by Tusk’s crocodile tears, it just a change of tack to disarm the Brexiteers, because I hear the EU is drafting legislation to allow the UK back in if it feels it has made a MISTAKE – and if the other 27 AGREE! That is ammunition to keep the remoaners moaning! So, beware, let’s get out asap! Don’t mess up now!

  22. Juliet
    March 30, 2017

    Negotiations needn’t be long-winded and stretched out. There’s been nine months to ready ourselves on both sides.
    Full rights for EU citizens legally ‘working’ here.
    Citizens not working of working age ?

  23. Andy Marlot
    March 30, 2017

    Now Mr Redwood you are being rather disingenuous here. You know full well EU officials are not even vaguely interested in democracy, co-operation and free trade. What they are interested in is keeping and extending their power and privilege. They have to punish Britain for leaving or all the other disenchanted states will follow. May has to give them enough rope to hang themselves. Make generous offers and let the EU reject them so that it becomes very clear what they are doing. In the meantime we can hope they do it quickly so that we can stop paying the vast membership fees. Hopefully Le Pen will win in France and destroy the EU altogether later this year.

  24. Antisthenes
    March 30, 2017

    There are many obstacles to a rapid rational and fair Brexit deal. Some of the major ones are:-
    The cumbersome bureaucratic and multi membership nature of the EU as past performance tells us taking actions if at all can only proceed at a snails pace. The counter reaction to Brexit in some quarters has been fierce and unrelenting to the point of manic obsession. So to expect to wrap up an acceptable deal within two years is a forlorn hope as the only ones who have any interest in doing so are those in the UK who voted to leave and those in government who are committed Brexiteers. Civil servants, Brussels, remainer politicians and many vested interests have every incentive to delay in the hope that time will present opportunities to stop the process.

  25. Anna
    March 30, 2017

    The EU is in a bind: it needs a deal that benefits the UK and itself because any deal that damages the UK damages the EU. But it has an additional problem. It needs also to demonstrate to the remaining member states that leaving is a disastrous step to take – they must be ‘deterred from leaving’ in the words of Mr Juncker. So how does the EU protect its own prosperity by striking a mutually beneficial deal with the UK, while at the same time striking a deal that punishes the UK and thereby brings to heel any would-be ‘deserters’ (another Juncker quote) but simultaneously damages itself? Of course, if the EU was truly a happy ship, and the UK the only unhappy member they would not have this problem; but it isn’t, and they do.

  26. Dan H.
    March 30, 2017

    I think what we’re seeing at the moment is mostly politics and political grandstanding on the part of various EU member states’ politicians. As it is to their advantage to sound like good Europeans and to sound like they are shunning the naughty state that dared leave the wonderful and marvellous EU, then this is exactly what they are doing, and will continue to do in public.

    In private, most of them will nip round to the metaphorical tradesmens’ entrance and sit down to discuss what they would actually want to happen, EU appearances notwithstanding. Even Germany will do this. Watch, wait and see. All the current noise is about saving face, not about actual negotiation.

  27. oldtimer
    March 30, 2017

    We will not know the official and considered response until next next month after the 27 member states have instructed the EU Commission. That said it seems that the EU approach will be to insist on sequential negotiations and to reject the parallel negotiations proposed by the UK. According to Katya Adler of the BBC, it also seems that the EU believes that its negotiating position is stronger in that the UK has more to lose than the EU. Such an attitude runs the risk of political miscalculation. Given past history, political miscalculation is a real possibility.

    Bean counting the bill for the cost of separation is to be put before the interests of the livelihoods of the people of Europe. If this view prevails then the outcome is more likely to be a reversion to WTO terms.

    No doubt there will be some in the EU who will want to play it long, if only provide more opportunities to stir up discontent with Brexit within the UK. In this respect it has many allies within the UK – names such as Heseltine, Ashdown, Clegg, Sturgeon come readily to mind. Given past EU interference in European referendums, and in appointing new governments in Italy and Greece, I imagine they will be examining their options to interfere in the UK political process again. I read Mrs May’s letter to President Tusk in this context – keep off my patch – as much as in serving notice of the UK “irrevocable” intention to leave.

    1. oldtimer
      March 31, 2017

      In this article at SpiegelOnline the view from Germany is that Mrs May is “desperate”. It confirms the report by Katya Adler that the EU thinks the UK is in the weaker position in the negotiations on the terms on which the UK will leave. Link:

  28. Graham
    March 30, 2017

    Unfortunately the EU have (deliberately?) appointed people to their negotiating team who hate the UK before they even start.

    That does not auger too well in my opinion.

  29. James Matthews
    March 30, 2017

    If only we could be confident that Mr Redwood’s government shares his views.

  30. Paul Cohen
    March 30, 2017

    Article 60 came into being only a few years ago, two years to enact was considered reasonable then, why then all this talk of many years then if only to prolong the process to perhaps somehow try to change the referendum result?

    The most important issue is that we will not now be absorbed into the EU and lose our sovereignty – a few more years down the line and we may have reached the point of no return.

    The BBC were recently taken to task over perceived bias, this is blatently continued and we now have Hesseltine, Clegg, Farron and unbelievedly Alistair Cambell giving us their opinions, but not of our host unfortunately.

    Mr Cameron after his tour of EU capitals said his negotiations had been successful, they had not and he got cold shoudered. Had the EU been a little more savvey things might have been very different today – but they wern’t!

    Mrs May and her team should now be left to concentrate on the negotiations without the
    distractions of the SNP and paticularly that shouty woman who bawls questions at her as soon as she steps out of N0 10 – BBC again?

  31. English Pensioner
    March 30, 2017

    The leaders of the EU parliament apparently said yesterday that the parliament would vote against any deal (apparently regardless of content). If this is true, why don’t we just leave now without a deal and not waste time talking about a deal which we are told will be vetoed?

  32. Oggy
    March 30, 2017

    JR – ‘fine ideals of democracy’ – come on Dr Redwood this is the EU we are talking about.
    It’s all very nice Mrs May taking a more conciliatory tone but my only worry is that she seems to be backsliding on a number if issues. We want to be free of all and any EU laws and the dreaded ECJ.

  33. Andy
    March 30, 2017

    Mrs May must demand a fair share of the assets. As one of the very few net contributors this will be a very large slice of the 153 billion the EU has declared, which I am sure will be far higher when there is a proper audit.

  34. miami.mode
    March 30, 2017

    Part of the problem is that if we offer tariff-free access to particular goods from outside the EU which carry high tariffs when exported to the EU, then unscrupulous traders will immediately realise this and grab easy profits. Not too dissimilar to the carousel frauds which were perpetrated for many years.

  35. John Finn
    March 30, 2017

    The UK is making a very friendly and generous offer – full tariff free access to our market, full rights for all EU citizens currently here, continuing defence and security collaboration and much else. ….. I always defend the other member states and EU from allegations that they want to damage themselves and us during this process. ….. I would expect them to see that free access to our market is an important advantage for their farmers and others who would face higher tariffs under WTO rules.

    John I’m sure a lot of people would agree with you. Sir Ivan Rogers, in his Select Committee evidence, said something to the effect that any sane person would agree that a continuation of free trade between the UK and EU is the best option for both sides.

    We all know this, but I don’t believe the EU will do it. To the EU, the politics of the EU and the SM far outweigh any economic considerations. I think they will push the UK to the brink and, as I wrote previously, it will be the UK that reaches the brink before the EU. They know that it’s the UK businesses that will start to put the pressure on first.

    I know you think that WTO rules are “fine” but that’s not what I’m hearing. I very much hope you are right but, while we might have a better ‘hand’ than the EU, they have the resources to bluff for longer.

  36. MPC
    March 30, 2017

    Surely the reason the Commission will drag things out is to maximise the time during which our gross annual payment of £19bn remains payable. Furthermore, although I don’t think we’ll agree to it, an additional ‘exit penalty’ on the UK would tide them over for a few years until they allow in some new member states. The Commission would hope such new members would together become a net contributor to the EU budget, offsetting the loss of the UK’s contributions at least in part.

    I worry about continued in-migration over the coming 2 years and the increased pressures on our public services and benefits system. We could see a million or more additional low skilled EU migrants coming in over that period.

  37. Alan
    March 30, 2017

    Offers often seem more generous to those who make them than to those who are offered them. Being offered free access to our market is clearly not attractive enough to the EU that up to now has already had that plus other advantages.

    We had the benefits of the “ideals of democracy, co-operation, and free trade” when we were in the EU, but we decided the disadvantages were greater than the advantages. Now they in their turn could decide that the disadvantages of the relationship we offer are greater than its advantages. I hope there will be a middle way that gives them some of what they want, and us some of what we want.

  38. a-tracy
    March 30, 2017

    Whenever Nigel Farage said that 75% of British Laws were made in the EU he was shot down, DC said it was more like 14%, Nick Clegg said even lower figures around 7%. 1,000 to 2,000 per year coming out of Brussels – no not that many. Farage was quoting from an EU Commissioner who said “The truth is most laws applied, executed, implemented at national level are based on European laws.” DC from the Commons Library “The study said 13.2% of all laws made in the UK between 1993 and 2014 have been EU-related.”

    It’s no wonder it’s all getting blown out of proportion people haven’t got a clue or deliver different opinion. Whatever, we have all their laws, we’re not a new Country trying to become compliant WE ALREADY ARE COMPLIANT.

    Are we going to agree to 3 million resettlements whilst only expecting 900,000 UK expats to get the same treatment or will we agree a reciprocal number?

    The Erasmus scheme and loans to EU degree students studying in the UK are these funds on top of the EU contribution or included in that total? There seems to be a lot of concern about this. How much money does this involve? How many other additional funding schemes are there like this that aren’t transparent.

    When the UK population raise money for say Cancer research does this go just to British scientists or to European schemes? I’ve never thought about all these things but the scientists seem to be rattled.

    Increased specialisation of work gave a requirement for more teenagers to take degrees, yet we have funnelled children into degrees that they can’t obtain work with. I read nearly two million students are taking on UK loans for Higher education yet today I read N.Ireland hasn’t trained up enough radiographers – why? I know too many students encouraged into Sports Science degrees with so few jobs at the end of the course they’re now working in sales and accountancy (starting training from scratch at night school!). I tried to talk one of the girls into training as a physiotherapist with the NHS or the Forces instead of doing this course what a waste. We have gone very wrong in the UK when people aren’t being told about shortage careers to train for.

  39. Mark
    March 30, 2017

    The problem is that the EU Council has only spent 20 minutes so far discussing Brexit. That has left the show in the hands of the EU Commission, who are much more concerned about the risks of EU implosion and maintaining their own power base and thus devised the “punishment” rhetoric that they hope EU members will unite behind for a while. The reality is that the EU is a long way behind on working out sensible negotiation guidelines – only emphasised by the stalling tactics of the unfounded exit bill, and Merkel’s intervention that wants to start by taking relations back to the Stone Age. Of course, the main motivation is as zorro suggests: the EU will struggle without the UK’s budget contributions.

    The secondary problem seems to be that the EU isn’t prepared to honour its high minded ideals towards neighbouring countries, as expressed in Article 8 and 3(5), which include cooperation and free and fair trade.

  40. Dennis
    March 30, 2017

    JR your post is sensible – pity you never express this on TV when you have the chances. Also a pity that David Davis doesn’t either – he had many a chance on QT this week. Haven’t you told him what to say? Why don’t you do that as he appears almost is bumbling as Boris.

    Talking of whom – he nodded in the HoC when Corbyn said that he ‘promised’ £350m/week to the NHS – he didn’t promise – if you see the ITV debate on Brexit Boris said the money ‘could’ be spent on what areas we wish including the NHS.

    Fake news (lies) all round.

    Reply I set out these views on ITN, World at One, Five Live and Sky yesterday!

  41. Thomas Dillon
    March 30, 2017

    Curious that the Commission shows no embarrassment in holding out the begging bowl.

    There may be a divergence of interest between the Commission and member states, in that the former has a pressing need to fill a hole in its budget. The concerns of member states may be different.

  42. Lawrence Hartley
    March 30, 2017

    I agree the settlement SHOULD be straightforward but the problem is the disparity between the 3 strands of the EU that insist on an input. The Commission have one view…. the Parliament has different (more hardline) views, and the Individual 27 countries ( representing the people) have yet more different views.

    How do we negotiate with the Commission when the Parliament have made it clear they’ll veto any agreement they don’t like, right at the end of the process.?

  43. lojolondon
    March 30, 2017

    John, the worst thing that could ever happen to the EU is that a member – any member – leaves the EU and thrives. Brexit is clearly going to set that situation up, and equally clearly, will start a domino effect of nationalistic anti-EU feeling and votes throughout the EU. The project is doomed, all they believe they can do is to be as unreasonable as possible during negotiations.
    Unfortunately for them, we hold all the cards – we put most of the money into the EU, and also represent one of the largest and most profitable markets. We need to negotiate hard and be uncompromising. We CAN have it all.

  44. Nick White
    March 30, 2017

    I wonder how much the EU would ask the Greeks for, if they decided to leave. The EU has been part of the problem for the Greeks along with Merkel and the IMF. The Greeks may have had lousy politicians who borrowed too much but those that lent them the money should have done due diligence and it is obvious that they didn’t. The Greeks couldn’t afford to pay anything to leave so why should we?

  45. graham1946
    March 30, 2017

    The reason for a long drawn out negotiation is answered in your first paragraph – we will continue to pay as long as we are members. They won’t want to review their budget for as long as possible and ask Germany to make up the difference lost from our ending of contributions.

    Heard Patten on World At One today immediately after you, talking absolute cobblers about how wrong we are to leave. Never once did he mention or was asked about his expectation of a pension from the EU for being a Commissioner. I think it should be compulsory for his ilk to disclose his interest when taking to the airwaves to utter his nonsense, like Mandelson, the Kinnocks et al.

  46. Antisthenes
    March 30, 2017

    The EU strategy is becoming clear. They are going to send the bullies in first who will demand a table charge. Pay the entry fee 50 billions plus and accept a myriad of conditions then we can sit at the negotiating table. They of course call it a divorce settlement. Giving us something of a dilemma. Do we pay up or do we hang around at the entrance door haggling for god knows how long or for two years when the door automatically closes or do we just leave and hope the UK public understand why we did.

  47. Dioclese
    March 30, 2017

    I wish we could stop talking about ‘divorce’ in relation to the EU.
    It’s a club not a marriage. When you leave a club, you stop paying your subs. There’s no alimony involved here!

    I watching in dismay Paddy Ashdown talking on Daily Politics. As with many others, he was attacking the terms of the Brexit deal before they are even known. I would have forgiven him if he had prefaced his ‘information’ with the word ‘IF’.

    You cannot critique an unknown…

  48. alastair harris
    March 30, 2017

    Interesting that reportedly Merkel and Holland want to cherry pick our principles, whilst with theirs it is all or nothing.

  49. Mike Wilson
    March 30, 2017

    It looks to me as though this is going to end up with a serious falling out. I think the EU does not understand the British character. When our backs are to the wall is when we are most determined. Am I imagining a headline from years ago that read something like ‘Up Yours, Delors’. I have a feeling we will be seeing something similar in our tabloids in the not too distant future.

    We’ve been told that Parliament will be kept fully informed of progress. I wonder if that will actually be the case.

    Just the 3 attempts that time at Captcha. Select all pictures with street signs … hmm, does the picture with a tiny little corner of a sign from the picture next door count? … Apparently, it does. Completely idiotic. There are much better ways of proving it is not a robot. Asking ‘what colour is this square’ with a dropdownlist of options is an easy one

  50. Oliver
    March 30, 2017

    They need time to come to a compromise that would suit the Political Class (here and there), and in effect give us what we wanted on Freedom of movement, something along the lines of restricting residence rights to those with above average earnings for example, and allowing national governments to impose annual quotas. Of course these criteria would apply in all EU member states, helping stave off Nationalists in Germany France Holland etc etc.

    Then we’ll be asked to vote again, and “Remain” will win overwhelmingly.

    Then we can have a referendum in England on how punitive the terms for Scexit need to be,and that will put that one to bed, once and for all.

  51. PaulDirac
    March 30, 2017

    If the EU is true to the initial response “no negotiations about anything before agreeing the 50 (or so) billion euro”, there is no point at all in negotiations.
    Why pay 2 years of EU dues (net 20 billion pounds) for sitting around unable to progress our real interests outside the EU, we should give notice of leaving in 6-12 months, giving our industry and City time to adjust and then leave moving to WTO rules.

    The truth is that there is no reasonable hope to get a useful agreement with the EU, they have some 38 states and regions, if memory serves me right 28-29 will need to agree (or does it have to be unanimous?).
    We need to face this as soon as possible, even without the ridiculous demand for 50 billion and 3 additional years of payments.
    No point in waiting, we need to move on as quickly as possible.

  52. Pragmatist
    March 30, 2017

    We should have sent them an email or just tweeted.

  53. A Briton
    March 30, 2017

    Despite the fact that the date for starting formal negotiations has not been determined as yet nor any kind of formal Agenda presented -all we have heard so far are irrational outbursts of differing and contentious views and threats from all sorts of ‘imbeciles’ in EU who should, in view of their positions within that Organisation, be much more professional, diplomatic and controlled in their behaviour – I would like to be able to say Statesmen- like but that would be impossible in respect of these people.. If these are the quality of people who are running this Organisation then God help Europe. Astounding truly astounding. We don’t know what our Prime Minister has in mind neither should we because as it has been said so often before ‘don’t show your hand’ but she knows what the majority of the Country voted for and so does her team and she cannot say more than she has already said a long time ago ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Leave her and her Team to do what she has to at the negotiating table and frankly she doesn’t need advice from us.

  54. Owen
    March 30, 2017

    I think the EU should keep telling us how much we will miss, as set out in the Juncker white paper and Declaration of Rome ie United States of Europe … or maybe we could have been part of the new inner core EU. There is very little discussion of this on the media.

    Why is the BBC not focusing on this really positive aspect of the EU, this to change the minds of the British people before it is too late. Evan could interview Martin Selmayr and perhaps on the other side maybe Bill Cash.

  55. turboterrier
    March 30, 2017

    The news as predicted all doom and gloom and I think it is quite safe to assume that it will be all about blood and guts and who blinks first in the house. To listen to these people it would appear their only plan is to bore us all to death with their negativity.

    The PM must call their bluff and call a GE hopefully Ukip will make inroads into the Labour vote and the nation see’s these remainers as what they really are.

    All of this is playing into the hands of the 27 in the EU and the empress of La La land north of the border. The Snp are beginning to be seen in the real light as everything that matters to the Scottish people is breaking up before their very eyes.

    Action this day as the great man used to say.

  56. anon
    March 30, 2017

    Do we really have to stay in he EU for another 2 years?

    I suggest a take or leave it deal with a much earlier deadline. There is really no point if other side just wishes to delay for financial and other existential reasons.

    It would probably better to abrogate the treaties so as t0 enable full deals to be done with non EU countries. Trade with like minded countries should take precedence. We should call the bluff and exit for sovereign and commercial reasons.

    I see no reason why security co-operation should not continue, where this is in our interest and or not to our disadvantage.

    We just need to rise above it, be reasonable to an extent, but not by delaying trade , opportunity and goodwill elsewhere, by not executing on trading with the ROW.

    What a shanbles , 9 months for a letter that is one for the history books.

  57. turboterrier
    March 30, 2017

    It is no time or place for the faint hearted. Our party has got to start uniting and pulling together. Those that don’t put them down the road and find and put people in their place who will help present a totally united front all speaking with one voice

  58. Paul Cohen
    March 31, 2017

    Article 60 was designed as a means for the EU to rid itself of a member they wished to leave – We have turned the tables somewhat by using this weapon on them.

    Hoist by their own petard?

  59. James R. Castle
    March 31, 2017

    Cloud Cuckoo land, John. The EU will prioritise the EU 27 ahead of anything else. They will give us nothing in return and if we have to go to WTO rules, WE will the ones suffering, not them. The Brexiteers will start to look idiotic as reality bites.

  60. Freeborn John
    March 31, 2017

    Theresa May cannot survive as PM if she caves into the EU demands for 2 phases of talks with them refusing any discussion of a future trading relationship until the UK agrees to a exit fee formula that satisfies Brussels. She will not only be handing over £50bn of UK taxpayer money if she does that but also acting as a supplicant in a 1st phase of talks which will encourage the EU to treat her the same in the 2nd phase, thus ensuring we get a very bad trade deal anyway. She has to be prepared to refuse to enter any talks that do not include a comprehensive free trade agreeemnt and also to indicate that she believes the Uk has no significant EU budget liabilities to settle and will not pay any more. It would be worth the UK asking for an independent body to adjudicate on remaining uK and EU liabilities, but if Mrs. May accepts the EU current demands I do not see how she can survive as PM to the end of the Article 50 discussions.

  61. a-tracy
    March 31, 2017

    “FRENCHMAN Michel Barnier will be the only point of contact for Britain during the two-year Brexit talks whilst individual leaders will refuse to discuss the divorce at all with Theresa May, EU leaders confirmed today.” By NICK GUTTERIDGE, BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT

    Fine so does this mean we don’t have to listen to individual MEPs threats and our newspapers can stop reporting on everyone other than Michel Barnier?

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