A draft letter for Mr Donald Tusk to Angela Merkel

April 1st 2017

Dear Angela

I have been holding your line that the UK cannot expect to discuss anything about the future relationship with the EU until they have agreed and settled a large bill for exit. I understand fully Germany’s reluctance to put more money in to the next seven year budget framework just because the UK has left and is no longer helping pay the bills, but I cannot accept your view that is all the EU’s fault. The member states also played their role in developing policies and attitudes which clearly upset too many people in the UK. The European tradition of showing respect for government, and voting again if a referendum miscarries, is not unfortunately practised in the UK where apparently they accept the result.

I have to say I don’t think the current line is going to work. The UK is emboldened by what has happened so far, and they seem to be losing their fear of the consequences as a result. We saw how Project Fear warning them of bad economic consequences did not stop them voting against the EU, and the absence of such negative results so far has strengthened the hand of the Brexit side in the argument. We also need to be aware that there are now pro Brexit Ministers in the government, and advisers who are also of that persuasion. It will be very difficult for us all if at the first meeting we present the bill and the UK simply refuses to accept any liability. They apparently believe there is no legal basis in the Treaties to require them to pay other than their regular contributions up to the date of exit. I am struggling to find a counter to this case.

I am being lobbied by business and farmers from Germany and elsewhere that they want us to keep tariff free trade for cars and to avoid high WTO tariffs on agricultural products, two areas where the EU has a large balance of trade surplus with the UK. I am also being told by other governments that they don’t want to anger the UK, and do not wish to lose the valuable intelligence, military co-operation, scientific collaboration and various joint investments and activities. May I suggest we do not have a prolonged wrangle over talks about talks, as this could also fuel Eurosceptic and other hostile opinions in France, Italy and elsewhere where we face elections soon. May I also respectfully suggest that you do not speak out before consulting other states, as there is some private resentment of this.

Perhaps we could get together soon to see what we can salvage from this tricky situation. There is a case for cutting our losses with the UK quickly before it splits the EU and diverts us from our most important task of creating greater unity amongst the remaining 27.



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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Indeed that is the line he should sensibly take, but rather unlikely that he will take that line given what we know of the man and his fellow bureaucrats.

    Not doing a sensible deal with the UK is clearly not in the interests of EU members. But then nearly everything the EU does is not in the interest of EU members either.
    They are masters at shooting themselves and the EU economy in the foot.

    There is the oft repeated bogus argument that the UK cannot expect the benefits of trade with the EU without paying a fee. But then they export more to us than we to them. So if fees are to be paid we should be a net recipient.

    Let us hope that real economics wins out over the profoundly damaging politics of the EU. The sooner we are out the better. The sooner we have a bonfire of red tape, go for cheap energy, cut taxes, cut the state and have sound money the better too. Can May and Hammond be made to see this – this it seems very unlikely as they are clearly sailing the wrong way.

    • Andy
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the EU will do any sort of a ‘deal’ given the hysterical rubbish that seems to pass for ‘statements’ from some of their number. Nor do I think that the reply to the notification letter was all that useful. Amongst my friends the EU attitude has gone down very badly.

  2. Peter Wood
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    I note your hope for a friendly and reasonable discussion on our exit from, and new arrangements with, the EU has mixed responses. I suppose its a matter of who blinks first… Let’s hope our negotiating team are tough enough to call a bluff.
    I note there is some concern in the aviation industry, surely one of the easiest industries to leave as is. In the event of a threat on this; just find a map of the established airways between continental Europe and North America and see how many pass through UK sovereign airspace.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      It doesn’t help having the Awkward Squad at home undermining every move and giving nods and winks to Brussels.

      This is no longer an attempt to rectify a democratic mis-step (if ever it was) but betrayal of our country.

      • Doug Lockwood
        Posted April 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink


  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Hammond’s budget (with his new absurd inheritance tax II) and his autumn statement showed very clearly that he and May are barking up totally the wrong tree. Unless that is they are intentionally trying to damage UK growth, competitivity and the economy (perhaps to soften the electorate up to a later remain in the EU vote after all, as they both clearly wanted just nine months back?).

    But then perhaps they are both just both barking and think it will work this time despite all the evidence of history and reason.

    Their big state, high tax, expensive energy, endless red tape and government waste approach has never worked anywhere in the past so why would it now? Perhaps they can explain?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile in the Telegraph today we have:- EU: keep our red tape to secure a trade deal.

    Far better to have no trade deal and be rid of the red tape please.

    Also do you trust government with your medical and other data. This as MPs employees names and exact salaries are published in error on the web site.

    Still about 1/5 of them are employing their family members, but I am sure they must be the best person for the job, went through a fair selection process and they are payed just the going rate for the job not just the highest they think they can get away with!

    It would be interesting to see they average “family member” wage relative to the others.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      Sorry nearly 1/4 of them.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Tusk warn in his letter he wants a level playing field (so that all the EU countries and the UK are all handicapped equally by absurd red tape, expensive energy, high taxes, daft employment and the likes). What a very silly and dangerous man he is.

  5. James Wallace-Dunlop
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    The EU chooses to pay pensions from current year income, it has no fund & makes no balance sheet provision for future liabilities. This suited established members while the EU was expanding. When countries joined, their budget contributions were determined by a formula that made no allowance for the fact part of the EU budget was paying pensions of Eurocrats who retired before the country joined. When the UK joined, it funded pensions of French, German, Italian & BeNeLux Eurocrats. By the time central & Eastern European countries joined after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spending on pensions had become much larger, but the new members were expected to fund these pension costs as if they were salaries for still-working staff.
    Now the UK is leaving, the EU says that the accounting treatment it has used for more than 60 years should be abandoned. It now wants to recognise a balance sheet liability with respect to future pension payments to British Eurocrats.
    Rather than help the EU to fund a fifth column in Britain, if we want to fund these pensions, we should do so directly, and we should suggest to our friends in Ireland, Scandinavia, & Eastern Europe that when negotiating post 2020 EU budgets, they may want to stop funding the pensions of French/German Eurocrats who retired before they joined.

  6. turboterrier
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:30 am | Permalink


  7. Mark Watson
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Yes, and no talks until this provocative stuff on Gibraltar is removed from the negotiation guidelines.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


  8. lojolondon
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Reality hits – BOOM!

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Wages have just gone up.

      BOOM !

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Tusk was, needless to say, a great fan of the dire EURO project and for Poland to have joined it years ago.

    • agricola
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Just look at the money flow. Poland pays £3.718 Billion and gets back £13.36 Billion. Look no further for his enthusiasm.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Fully aware its only the opening skirmishes, fully aware that we should take our time for a measured response to whatever the eventual suggestions from the EU may be.

    I only hope our team remain strong and we are really prepared to walk away should sensible and meaningful discussions not be possible.

    They should not forget that we (the taxpayers) have been a net contributor to the EU finances for decades, and have thus built up a formidable percentage holding in EU assets, and we should not be afraid to make that point.

    • Hope
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      We should also not pay full contributions until we leave. Any payment should be tapered off as we should not be funding future projects or costs that we will not benefit from.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      You are right Alan. It is wise to remain cool when the arguments even start about the order in which the talks should be conducted. . Naturally, the EU will get no money without a trade deal and they must know that. I very much fear there is going to be a scare story about the negotiations every week for the next two years.

      So let’s make the big picture clear. The Commission does want money to replace the UK contribution which was substantial. I doubt if the Germans and other members will want to stump up the missing £10 billion when the UK leaves. The member states themselves want to continue trading with us. The eastern European states will want to guarantee access to our labour markets and know that the UK will defend them against the big bad bear. Also, some countries will want transitional arrangements on things like fishing. And all the UK wants is to trade into the EU at better than WTO tariffs.

      On economic grounds, everything cries out for a deal and one done quickly. But in the EU, we know everything is subordinate to the politics of EU empire building. Yet in order to build empires someone has to pay and that’s why the British monetary contribution is so important.

  11. Nig l
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Peter Obourne in the Mail this morning has a very different take, apparently Theresa may’s husband is a passionate Remainer and the exit deal will include continuing large payments to access the market and not much change re migration. His conclusion is it could split the Tories. Very interesting because he has excellent sources.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Theresa May was strongly pro remain too. She was even prepared to lie to the electorate nine months back and as Home Secretary that we “had control of our borders through Schengen” in order to trick them into a remain vote. They were not fooled than goodness.

      Are we sure even she has changed?

      Does she perhaps get her damaging socialist (red tape, higher taxes, more workers rights, gender pay gap reporting, workers on company boards, central wage controls ……) agenda from her husband too.

      Or is that her own irrational “thinking” process?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      This is the Oborne article.


      I certainly have little confidence in T May her economic direction is wrong headed and she was and probably still is a remainer as are half of the Tory MPs. We will not get fully out of the EU cleanly under Theresa. She has not even told the appalling Osborne to resign yet.

    • Chris
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Peter Oborne’s piece in the Mail is deeply worrying, particularly as I believe he is right. I think May and Hammond are going to end up presenting us with a fudge, half in, half out. Not what we voted for, but the tragedy is that the majority of MPs are not Eurosceptic (among the Conservatives too) and they seem determined not to uphold the will of the people, even though it was promised to us that we would have the Referendum result honoured. The Remainers and Leavers made it quite clear to all during the campaign that Leave meant leave the single market, regain sovereignty, regain complete control of our borders, and not being subject to the ECJ and ECHR.

      • Cedrick
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 1:38 am | Permalink

        “. . . the will of the people”? Surely you mean the will of 52% of the 33m who voted? Don’t forget the population is 65m, so 17m of that actually comes to not much over 25% of the people. Hardly the will of the people is it?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        Well, she has told the EU that we don’t seek to stay in the Single Market:


        “That is why the United Kingdom does not seek membership of the single market: we understand and respect your position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no “cherry picking”.”

        And the EU has acknowledged that:


        “In this context, the European Council welcomes the recognition by the British Government that the four freedoms of the Single Market are indivisible and that there can be no “cherry picking”.”

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        I tend to agree.

  12. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Can’t argue with any of that John. I wonder how the rest of the world view the EU at this moment in time when they are playing with the lives of UK citizens living in the EU? They are showing themselves to be without morals or any kind of humanity. If we enter into long discussions then we are likely to be milked for all we are worth unless we have bold negotiators..

    Whilst still smirking over Lifelogics made up titles for projects last night I wondered how many people knew that the German grid nearly went down in January due to low output from solar and wind?

  13. Jerry
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Rather than waste your own and our time on a silly spoof letter I would have though it would have been more important to deal with the ‘Googly’ delivered by the EU and Spain with regards Gibraltar yesterday.

    • eeyore
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Jerry – my take on the Gibraltar business is that Mrs May will be delighted. What better issue to get the country behind her? Today’s front pages certainly bear that out.

      It is sadly short-sighted and ungrateful of the EU to behave so. Had Gibraltar been in Spanish hands in 1939, would Franco have been able to resist pressure from Hitler to hand it over to him?

      Then the Med would have been closed to the Allies, North Africa would have been irrecoverable, Italy would not have fallen, but Churchill would. The Middle East and its oil would have been defenceless. In all likelihood Britain would have been out before America was in, and Europe would have suffered 60 years under the Nazi jackboot.

      Not so much a googly then, more a boomerang. Right in Mr Tusk’s eye.

      • A.Sedgwick
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        In all the exchanges over the EU over the years “not mentioning the war” has been important in my view but I think it is justified to remind the younger continentals how important the UK and Commonwealth were in allowing the EEC/EU to exist at all. Mr Tusk might like to check a date, 3rd September 1939.

        • eeyore
          Posted April 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know about younger continentals, but twice in the last two days people have told me that young graduates whom they employ did not know who Winston Churchill was.

          The dogs bark and the caravan moves on – but what sort of education are these poor young people receiving?

      • Jerry
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        @eeyore; “What better issue to get the country behind her? Today’s front pages certainly bear that out.”

        I suspect you’re correct, so even more wonderment at our hosts idea that it was better to publish a spoof letter because it was April Fools day…

      • Frank Green
        Posted April 3, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

        Angela Merkel hand’s in the Gilbraltar issue, and France too. Be under no illusions this is an EU aggressive political tactic, designed to cower UK into accepting unpalatable and outrageous demands. They obviously mean to continue in this fashion. Basically, it is a war of attrition and vendettas. The only course is an very hard Brexit, no deal. So, instead of wasting valuable resources on negotiating with EU, concentrate on global trade deals in next two years. I am afraid to say our old foes Germany, France and Spain are back ( plus ca change plus le meme chose).
        I voted remain but must be pragmatic and know no acceptable deal with the EU is ever possible now.

      • APL
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        eeyore: “What better issue to get the country behind her? Today’s front pages certainly bear that out.”

        According to the BBC today, this kind of thing happens at least three times a year. So we can expect it to be ramped up by the Spanish.

        They have one thing to lose, fishing rights in what were former UK waters and one thing to gain Gibraltar.

    • acorn
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Gibralter is full of remoaners Jerry, 96% voted remain! So they’re defacto hated on this site, surely. Spain does allow dual citizenship in special circumstances. Tricky, 30,000 Gibraltarians against half a million plus UK settlers in Spain and 65 million in UK.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        There’s a big distinction between those who chose to vote Remain in the referendum and the Remoaners who can’t stop complaining about the result even nine months later, and some of whom are so totally lacking in patriotism that they are now actively working against our national interests.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        @acorn et al; Your point being what exactly, London is also full of europhiles (as is NI…), perhaps we should also just give up on both London and NI too, call it the price of Brexit!

        You also seem to forget that “The Rock” is also the UK’s last ‘Mediterranean’ navel base and one of the few easy access to the southern North Atlantic.

        I bet if the UK wanted security council motion passed at the UN but Russia, in cohorts with Argentina, said ‘not until the UK allow Argentina to have the final say with regards the Falklands’ those who have criticised my criticism of our host would be up in arms. Double standards?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Our EU “friends” were bound to play the Gibraltar card. They can bully us far less if we are outside the EU than from within, where we have to obey their courts and accept majority rule.

    • Mark
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      How about suggesting that anything that the UK agrees with Spain to apply to Gibraltar applies to the whole of the EU?

    • agricola
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Tusk should be told, no discussions on any subject until this Spanish nasty is removed.

    • agricola
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      A second thought. Perhaps Nigel could be asked to have a word in the ear of the Donald to remind Spain that they are contributing less than 1% of GDP to NATO and to point out that Gibraltar with a very close relationship to the UK is of strategic interest to the NATO alliance. Put another way, do not mess with our allies or loose out big time.

    • getahead
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s more serious than you think Jerry. Nothing at all silly about it.

    • zorro
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Have you complained to the EU or Spanish about their attitude to this issue?….. Thought not…. So why are you having a go at JR? Last time I looked, he wasn’t threatening either Gibraltar or Spain.


  14. hefner
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    And a fish hung in the back.

  15. stred
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    We have to remember that Mrs Mekel is capable of illogical and impulsive decisions and devious and unprincipled remedies. She decided to scrap Germany’s new nuclear programme over a weekend, although the new reactors were much safer and there was no likelihood of a tidal wave up the Rhine valley. Then she went for a massive increase in dirty lignite burning instead of gas, negating her equally unbalanced Energiewende solar and wind policy. As to inviting half the world’s economic migrants to Germany and then sending them to other EU countries with threats of fines, is any other proof needed.

    However, on our side we have Mrs May, who has also presided over policies while saying she is doing something else. Last Thursday, before turning off Wimmins Hour, I heard an interesting interview with a German lady who was qualified as a lawyer and, depite have lived here for ages and having English children and a highly paid husband who paid NI, she cannot obtain an assurance that she has a right to stay because she did not pay NI for a period when she was a housewife. Apparently, when Mrs May was Home Office minister, they altered the rules and made applying for citizenship much more difficult. This is, of course, against EU rules and the spirit of the referendum, when Leave and UKIP made it clear that EUcitizens here already would be welcome to stay. I have told my Polish friend who and others who have been told by lawyers that this is the case, that the threats to make them leave were nonesense. Apparently, Mrs May’s team had other ideas. No principles whatsoever.

    Expect some catfight over the next 2 years.

    • rose
      Posted April 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      I have been exasperated by the number of continentals, educated, intelligent women, who have been here for decades, married to Englishmen and mothers of Englishmen, who have allowed themselves to be milked on this point by greedy lawyers. I tell them they won’t be deported but they don’t believe me.

      On the other hand, our HO has appeared for a very long time now, not just under Mrs May but going back into the sixties, to be capable of deporting decent, desirable people, mostly mothers and grandmothers, who are no charge on the exchequer, and pillars of the community, with which they have all things in common culturally, while keeping on the most undesirable people and their families at public expense. Our parasitic lawyers don’t help.

      • stred
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        The numbers of decent, valuable, self-supporting people being threatened with deportation by the HO is very small. I wonder why the ex HO minister and present one are so unwilling to sort this mess out. It can only be because the were on the Remain bandwagon and jumped wagon. Pass the sick bucket. For me Rose, not your goodself.

        I am so pleased to get through the 3 stage capcha process and intend to use the result to prove to my bird that I don’t have pre-dementia.

        • Chris
          Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Captcha is obviously designed to keep us on our toes. Totally unpredictable and defies logic, sometimes!

  16. Richard1
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Presumably there are both assets and liabilities. The UK should say of course we we will settle any liabilities due to us just as we expect settlement the other way for any share of assets to be given up on departure. If the EU wishes to include as a liability future membership fees, then it is a straightforward legal question, capable of being settled in a court or in arbitration, as to whether any of those are due. Meanwhile we need to press on with simple clean trade deals elsewhere in the world. The EU will look increasingly foolish if it really does refuse to getting into trade discussions – in reality just confirmation that current zero tariffs will continue – if theUK is busy agreeing to other such deals around the world.

    • zorro
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, our stock reply is that we should demand independent verofication of the EU accounts and our contributions, and total up our assets. To be honest, I think that we should claim them, or demand their value back as we will no longer be able to use them. I think that the value far exceeds anything we might have committed to whilst still members. As I suspected, this negotiation is a waste of time, and is costing us money for every minute it continues…..


  17. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Excellent letter John. Pity it will be ignored. Already the wheels are coming off the EU’S negotiating position.
    Some sensible voices are starting to realise what the end game will be if we drop out without an agreement. Massive damage to the EU but not so much for the UK.
    Spain is being rather silly considering we take almost all of their agricultural products and a significant number of cars.
    Anyway keep it up. Only strength will win.

    • Inquisitive remainer
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I’m a remainer trying to understand the other side of the argument (it does happen!).

      It would help me if you could clarify for me what the relative damage to the EU and the U.K. would be if the U.K. leaves the EU without an agreement? I’d like to understand why the EU would be worse off


      • zorro
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 12:54 am | Permalink

        They have a huge trade surplus with us, so would pay ? more money in tariffs to sell goods to us than we would to them. They will also have to cover a shortfall in EU funding of £11bn per annum…..

      • Paul
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Because we import more than we export. It really depends how you measure it (as ever). While the fact above is undoubtedly true, as a proportion of the total (an often quoted figure by remainers) shows things differently ; the disproportionate sizes are the cause.

        However top of the list of those who export more to us than we import from them, by a huge amount (close to a factor of 3), is Germany.

        In practice whatever Tusk et al say, the Germans have a huge voice in the EU. Tusk/Juncker may attempt to lay the law down about x,y and z but without Germany the EU is dead. It can survive the loss of Britain, though the loss of British money is terrible, hence all these demands for £x billion, a fair chunk of which is money promised to other countries. If it loses another significant country (or even a less significant one) the whole thing might fall apart, fast. The other issue is the UK is the country more than any others that vetoes closer integration. While the EU views us as a damn nuisance, if they go for closer integration this will increase the anti-EU vote share in other countries.

        I’m unconvinced anyone outside the EU body actually wants a sort of supranational nation that you can’t vote out, which is what it has become ; almost everyone wants a trading block that works together closely and cooperatively. The EU like most bureaucracies is in a perpetual power grab state.

        There is also concern about the UK becoming a free trade area ; so we just trade with anyone.

        The EU is jam packed full of countries demanding special treatment for their own particular causes ; a consequence of the voting system and much of the regulation has its roots in this. An actual free market next door would be somewhat unnerving.

        Objectively, both sides are overplaying their hand (though not May), though the EU is much worse.

      • Prigger
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Inquisitive remainer
        I believe the “other side of the argument” has been expressed virtually daily over the last 24 months. If you need further clarification then perhaps you don’t,your mind has a perfect right to hold your opinion as being valid. However, it would not be healthy to have flashbacks, mental replays of “video-clips” of your decided opinion. You see, on 23rd June 1916, we voted Leave. That’s the end of it.

      • rose
        Posted April 3, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        The EU would be worse off because it would be losing a voice of common sense; £11b, and rising, a year, plus one-off payments such as bail-outs; free trade with a large market; possibly, if they are really bloody to us, security co-operation in which we have by far the best intelligence; if they are completely suicidal, defence co-operation in which they – apart from 3 of them – are freeloaders; a dumping ground for their unemployed and poor, including use of NHS and the rest of the welfare state. and all the rest of the civilized discourse and co-operation on all sorts of matters which they enjoy at present.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    Now what about the traitors within.

    – We had a referendum

    – It was ratified by Parliament

    – We’ve sent the Art 50 letter

    – We are leaving the EU

    ‘Traitor’ is no longer too harsh a term to use for British organisations, or people, who side with foreign governments, against us in negotiations and to the detriment of British strength and interests.

    • Mick
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Too right Anonymous, and one of the biggest traitors is Tim the leader of the lib/???, I watched him get a roasting from Mr Neil on the Brexit special on Wednesday evening , the guy is a total muppet insisting that there should be another referendum on the deal after negotiations , what a incentive for the eu to give us a bum deal, the guy wants locking up in the tower along with all the other traitors to the UK and the keys thrown away

      • Paul
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        He’s a joke.

        What he doesn’t get is that he’s the leader by sheer dumb luck. The reason he’s still an MP is because he’s in the middle of nowhere. If you look at the LD MPs they are scattered geographically.

        The Tories went after the block LD areas in the South West, but it wasn’t economic to go after the leftovers, because all the others (at 2015) are one MP on their own miles from any other.

        So you have London, Orkney/Shetland, Sheffield, Cumbria, North Norfolk, North Leeds, Southport and West Wales (+Olney recently)

  19. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The walk away no deal option is looking more likely with the Gib card being played and reports that a free trade deal will have tax and regulation strings i.e. EU control. Hopefully Remoaners will start to see that we are dealing with an organisation that is desperate, mean spirited and at heart totalitarian.

    • rose
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      And the Spaniards haven’t even mentioned their planned fish grab yet. Perhaps that will be saved till the last minute, as it was with Heath.

      • rose
        Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        (I haven’t forgotten it wasn’t Spain then.)

    • Frank Green
      Posted April 3, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, I was a remain voter and over the last few months realised that negotiating with the EU is pointless and the pragmatic solution unfortunately is an hard Brexit. German, France and Spain are daily becoming more and more like our old foes.
      I do hope TM has got a masterplan for some re-industrialisation( robotics firms) of UK and a good trade negotiating team for new global trade.
      I also think the EU will implode under unfettered German domination in the near future and maybe an opportunity to devise a trade only union!!

  20. DaveM
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    These past few weeks have made it abundantly clear that the capital of EUrope is Brussels and that EU self-appointed leaders are in charge. Even Merkel seems unable to resist the likes of Juncker, Tusk, etc. The future of EUrope is now laid bare. Such a shame – all that culture, those beautiful national anthems, all melted down into a big blob of bland.

    OT: we seem to have returned to the situation whereby England has ceased to exist on the political and media map. Once again, who will speak for England?

  21. Bert Young
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Very good letter John . I hope she reads it and replies . As things stand many pundits point to the increasing dominance of Germany in the EU – I disagree ; it has always held this position . Germany does hold the purse strings but , the snag is it won’t release them . The ECB is a lacky to Germany and is , basically , broke . If Trump applies pressure on the IMF then the economic continuity 0f the EU is bust .

    I have just read of the Spanish claim once more of Gibraltar . Frankly this astounds me . They have nothing to gain by putting this claim forward because it will certainly make our future dealings with them difficult – to say the least . At the moment I think it is foolish to enter negotiations with the EU ; I believe we should simply walk away . All the threats form them as a reaction to the letter make any negotiation impossible .

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      ‘If Trump applies pressure on the IMF then the economic continuity 0f the EU is bust’

      – Trump has been a disaster for the reputation of hard-right populism and has done no favours to the Brexit position. If some Conservatives continue to show their support to Trump (yes, we must deal with him, and invite him to the UK but nothing more), then they will only harm results of the Conservatives in the next election.
      We lost the election in 1997 because the Conservative party had become too wrapped up in its own affairs, and too detached / out of touch with ordinary voters. We’ll only be going down the same road if some Tories continue to support Trump and hard-right populism, and will only damage not help Brexit.

  22. Gary C
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    If only!

    Unfortunately the EU has failed to open it’s eyes and look at the big picture, it’s obvious their answer to the problem is more threats, more intimidation and more fear.

    It doesn’t help that many of our own MP’s think the same way, hopefully they will be replaced by those that support democracy and be in the job centre queue after the next election.

  23. bratwurst
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Funnier 1 April spoof than most of the national press!
    Unfortunately the reality is that May, Davis etc. will bring us the worst of all possible worlds. At the end of two years, we wont be properly out of the EU, we’ll still be subject to its laws and paying it money, and we’ll still be answerable to the ECJ. We won’t have a trade deal and the only certainty we will have in that area is that, compared with whatever we have now, what we will get will be inferior.

  24. Newmania
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood seems to be under the impression that the stuff which got polite titters from student debating society works in real life.
    This is where we are; and I am going to have to do it in pictures . It is a fight, one versus eight .The one is on the end of a rope over a cliff and the rope is fraying .

    We aren’t negotiation we are begging.

    Are any of you people ever going to wake up? As far as the legality of the bill is concerned well we shall see , I don`t expect the matter to be illuminated on in this or any other blog.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      One versus nine actually. If we include Remain campaigners.

      Now get behind your country and man up or be quiet.

      The referendum has been through 9 months of scrutiny and due process and the letter is sent. Now all you are doing is work for the other side.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Wrong. If we went over any cliff it would only be because they had chosen to go over a cliff and take us with them. Maybe they would be better able to withstand the impact than us, being bigger, or maybe not, being more fragile.

      I wonder when you will wake up and realise where your loyalty should lie.

    • graham1946
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      If the EU is so great, why don’t they get on and find jobs for the 50 percent of young without work?

    • Oggy
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Sit down, calm yourself and have a cup of tea man.
      It’s a good job we weren’t relying on people like you in 1940.

    • Oggy
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Just another point, if the EU had taken the British peoples concerns over immigation and freedom of movement seriously when David Cameron went seeking a deal 15 months ago, and given the UK serious concessions we probably wouldn’t be here now. But as usual all we got was EU arrogance, dismissiveness and stubborness.
      So instead of continuously blaming the Brexiteers for all your woes and ills, really you should be angry with your beloved EU’s intransigence and reluctance to satisfy our concerns.

      • Paul
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        We definitely wouldn’t be here now. It’s worse ; Cameron being publicly humiliated – which is what I think happened – will have swung a lot of waverers.

    • DaveM
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Absolute nonsense

    • zorro
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      ‘We aren’t negotiation we are begging.’ – What exactly are you on about? We shall see who begs who for a resolution once their people start complaining….

      Which bill? The one to consolidate EU legislation into British law and subsequent repeal of the 1972 Act? What’s the problem?


    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      Who is begging and for what, Newmania? What have I missed in Mrs May’s Article 50 letter? What is this extraordinary existential need UK has that can be met only by membership of the EU. UK has no absolute need for anything from the EU. Relations with Europe will not cease on UK’s departure form the EU. They will change, yes. That is why we are leaving.

  25. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    You might also have mentioned that the day Germany pays the US invoice ($3 trillion was it?) for defence is the day the UK pays any invoice at all to the Germans.

    • James Matthews
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Followed by an invoice for the decades British forces spent on the Rhine. Should be quite a tidy sum.

    • graham1946
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      The Germans still owe Greece billions for war reparations which they have never made.

  26. David Price
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Apparently, Merkel is seeking to defuse the threat of reduced revenue/market share for the German auto makers by proclaiming that EU unity takes priority.

    I have an interest as I am in the process of changing my current German oil burner. If I bought a new German car I would either be paying more owing to increased tariffs and/or supporting a regime that seeks to undermine our country nationally and economically. Alternatively I could buy a Japanese. Korean or American vehicle, a few types being produced locally and so I would be directly supporting our economy by going with them.

    I look around my home and a number of white goods are of EU origin, again quite a few of German origin, so there would be clear opportunities for non-EU manufacturers. There are even UK manufacturers such as Ebac.

    My question for the German manufacturers of high end goods, especially autos, is; if the EU is so incapable of making trade agreements and so incompetent as to purposefully lose one with the fifth largest economy, what other markets are there from which you expect to recover the returns?

    BTW I think it essential that all products for sale in the UK must carry clear, unambiguous marking of the country and region of origin. Perhaps we should go beyond the Made in Britain to become Made in England etc so we have the fullest opportunity of supporting the economic area of our choosing.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I never buy French agricultural products.

  27. William Long
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I wish I thought I could envisage Mr Tusk writing such a sensible letter!

  28. David Price
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I suggest the letter go to a few others as well, not least Jean-Claude Junker, as they are in danger of compounding their political incompetence and failure in forcing Brexit by souring trade and diplomatic relations with yet another neighbour.

  29. ChrisS
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    If only this were a genuine draft !

    The views expressed are spot on and, if only Brussels and the 27 were not so blind to the problems in their own backyard, and the potential benefits of a cooperative deal, their attitude would be much more constructive.

    Perhaps their most glaring fault is their complete disdain for the views and aspirations of their citizens. In the EU, whatever the issue under discussion, the interests of the project always have to come first, never mind the effect on individual countries and their citizens.
    Greece is the perfect example but there are many others.

    The tragedy of youth unemployment across the entire ClubMed area particularly comes to mind. The entirely reasonable aspirations of a whole generation of young people to have a job, a home and raise a family have been cruelly dashed by this futile obsession with trying to make the Euro work.

    You can almost hear Merkel and Schauble in Berlin saying that this is a price worth paying. It most definitely isn’t :

    The Euro may have created an economic boom for the benefit of the Germans, but for those on the receiving end, it must feel just as oppressive as Second World War occupation.

    The attitude to Brexit negotiations is therefore entirely predictable.

  30. Jack Snell
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Dear Donald from Ms Merkel, Please don’t fret yourself about the British Donald.. as all of these things will sort themselves out as soon as the European elections are out of the way and then we can plan for our own bright new multi-speed Europe with our new European defence project. You might remember that when I met with Mr Putin a few months ago.. well he has indicated that he might like to row in with us as soon as things settle down in Russia.. we could sell a lot if produce up there including our shiny new BMW cars and other western decadent goods and in return he has promised cheap gas and as much oil as we wish. There are also vast amounts of natural resources including mineral of all sorts up there just waiting to be dug out of the ground. He has also said that he might be interested in forming some sort of mutual defence arrangement when the business with Ukraine has quietened down. so now what’s that you were saying about Gibraltar and Northern Ireland? Okay so better not say any more in case contents if this is leaked to Nicola.. bye for now and see you at the next ‘bash’ Angela

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Jack. If ever the contents of such a letter threatened to occur, there would be the biggest diplomatic shock since the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939 and the immediate collapse of any support for the EU in eastern Europe.

  31. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Did you miss Herr Tusk’s statement? He is not prepared to discuss trade until the divorce proceedings are settled. Which means that trade will almost certainly not be on the top of the list of priorities.
    Britain will only discuss trade after the article 50 time has run out and we are a “third country” outside the Eu altogether, computers turned off, customs posts checking ever single article, planes unable to land without permission and so on.
    OK Sometimes politicians say what they do not mean. All Herr tusk is doing is to state openly what EU policy has always been.
    Ask any Greek or any Swiss who has had to do business with them.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      You seem to forget that we want to be “a “third country” outside the EU altogether”, rather like 160-odd other “third countries” around the world. And, no, we do not want to join EFTA or stay in the EEA or adopt any other unsatisfactory “transitional” status so that some years down the line we will have to listen to you saying that we mustn’t leave it because if we did all the computers would be turned off.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Please answer him, Dr Redwood.

    • J45
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Can you really see our banks going to, say, Amsterdam where they’ve just elected a sizeable proportion of *BNP* MPs ?

      Or Paris – where the BNP has a good chance of actually taking power ?

      Or Frankfurt – which is worringly close to the ECB ?

      Or Dublin – Hen/Stag party capital of the EU but not much else ???

      Lots of clever people are bonded tightly to their adored London homes. Nowhere can match its cosmopolitan atmosphere.


      We can do this.

    • zorro
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      This is why we will have to move to WTO terms before they see sense. We cannot afford to be dictated to with regards to how we leave. We are a sovereign country who will withdraw as WE want in a peaceful and orderly manner.

      We have made clear statements that we are happy to continue with tariff/barrier free trading. It is their stupidity which will force it to go down WTO. But it really does not matter…..


    • getahead
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Not quite sure what point you are making there Mike. We always have the option of walking away. And planes unable to land without permission is nonsense.
      All pilots must file a flight plan!

    • APL
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Mike Stallard: “computers turned off, customs posts checking ever single article, planes unable to land without permission and so on.”

      Not sure what computers will be tuned off, Mike? The largest part of the internet is in the USA, the UK has a transatlantic link to the US through New York.

      We can get perfectly drinkable wine from Australia, New Zealand and the US, – We are already checking these things through customs, I presume in a manner that means we the customs officers don’t have to inspect every bottle of Australian plonk.

      An increase in demand for Cheese might just be met by our own indigenous farming industry – who could do with a fillip, anyway.

      As to planes being unable to land without permission. I’d say no plane lands without permission now today.

      Note to JR. It would be better to have us log into your site to comment, I’m getting pretty annoyed having to click incessantly and am probably getting RSI as a result!

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The lead letter in the Telegraph today suggests that by prioritising the so-called “divorce bill” the EU is breaching its own treaties. I’m not too sure about that, but I do think that it shows a strange order of priorities because the ongoing economic, in particular trade, relationship is of far greater importance to both them and us. There are papers here:


    attempting to assess what the bill might legitimately be, and I agree with their view that this is in fact “the least important economic issue in the Brexit negotiations”.

    One might have thought that at the start of the negotiations two teams of officials, mainly those with accounting expertise, would be told off to deal with this on the sidelines while other teams, especially the trade negotiators, got on with the more important work of minimising any recurring economic losses over the coming decades. But no, that is not how the EU works, and it seems that instead the trade negotiators will have to find something else to do for months while the accountants have their arguments. I suppose on our side they could be diverted to discussing trade deals elsewhere in the world.

    • Andy
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      There is no basis in the Treaties for any bill at all. The EU has the ability to adjust its budget on a yearly basis and in any case this budgetary period ends 9 months after we leave.

  33. Richard Butler
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Anyone any suggestions on how best to counter this Remainer argument I constantly encounter of late?

    They assert the EU trades only a small portion of total trade with UK and that they can afford a no deal s enario due to this, in a way they say we cannot as over 40% of our trade is with them.

    My typical response is that when you get down to the millions of real world EU workers dependant on UK trade, they will not merrily accept themselves being the brunt of collatoral damage forced on them by political elites.

    Any thoughts, especially any detailed and irrefutable figures such as the proportion of profits the German car sector derides from its sales to the UK?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      It’s a moot point whether they could just shrug off another 5 million being added to the present 20 million who are unemployed across the EU.



      But one must question the mindset of those in the rest of the EU who would risk throwing millions of their fellow citizens out of work by reintroducing unnecessary barriers to trade with the UK, while at the same time claiming to uphold treaties – EU and other treaties – which commit them to the promotion of free trade.

      • Andy
        Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Look at the callous indifference they show towards the havoc and ruin their made schemes have created in Greece. Tells you all you need to know.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      There will be a disproportionate loss to the EU’s main producers, France, Italy, Germany than to the rest of the EU.

      That’s the answer.

      Loss of the UK market will wipe out lots of the German car industry.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      This argument is based on two false premises: firstly that the EU is one economy and second that the damage to individual exporters to the UK will be in proportion to the total percentage of the EU’s trade with the UK. The different economies within the EU will experience widely different impacts on an end to free trade as will different producers.

      The cretinous politicians of the EU have already cut off their own ability to offload their CAP surpluses to Russia so they will be left without a market if they do the same to the UK. So welcome back rotting apples and tomatoes, wilting flowers, milk and wine lakes, butter and cheese mountains etc. Of course the same applies to cars which will stand in fields waiting for someone, not Russian, to give them a home. So those who deploy this standard argument need to tell it to the car manufacterers of Bavaria, the tomato growers of Spain, the cut flower producers of Holland etc, and good luck with that.

    • Inquisitive remainer
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      In terms of volumes Germany makes around 5.7m cars per year and exports around 0.8m to the U.K.

      The U.K. makes around 1.7m cars a year and exports 0.8m to the EU.

      There is no easy way to work out profitability, but clearly the profitability of German exports to the U.K. has already been significantly reduced by the 15% sterling devaluation vs the Euro.

    • hefner
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Look on ec.europa.eu for the document “Intra-EU trade in goods – recent trends”. It gives results for the period 2002-2013.

      • hefner
        Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Proportion of UK exports to EU27: 46%, ie13% of the economy.
        Proportion of EU27 exports to the UK: 8 to 17% (depending on how it is measured), ie 3 to 5 % of the economy.
        Obviously there are huge differences between the EU27: only Finland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, Denmark, Ireland buy more from the UK than UK buys from them. For the countries selling more to the UK than the UK selling to them: Germany 26bn, Spain 10bn, Belgium 8bn, NL 7bn, France 5bn, Poland 4bn, then Italy, CZ, P, Sweden, SK, H, O, GR.
        All that from various Eurostat tables.

    • acorn
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      RB, the “leave” side has never come up with any credibly sourced data that can be peer reviewed. All the irrefutable figures come from the “remain” side number crunchers, who will have some very good sources.

      “Such a position would probably be intolerable for London. But Michel Barnier and the EU-27 will be sorely tempted to take such an uncompromising approach. They know that once Article 50 is invoked, the two-year clock is running against the UK. The tactical advantage is firmly on the EU-27 side. The simplest negotiating strategy will be brute force; laying out their expectations and brushing off British counter arguments with “oh, look at the time”. (The €60 billion Brexit bill How to disentangle Britain from the EU budget)

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Herr Tusk has already said that the EU is not prepared to discuss trade until the “divorce” settlement is complete. Trade is not what the EU is putting at the top of their list. I think we are heading for an “all or nothing” Swiss settlement without the EEA at the moment. Trade is part of a package deal, not something which can be discussed separately. He has said that too.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 1:06 am | Permalink

        Stop doing the Polish politician’s work for him.

      • Prigger
        Posted April 2, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Mike Stallard
        The EU will not start some kind of trade war with the UK. It is merely playing to its audience while it still has one.

  34. James Matthews
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    If only ……………………….

    I note that on Radio 4 this morning both Vince Cable and Ian Duncan Smith appeared to accept that the UK would have to pay for the completion of some EU Projects after we had left (the former with some relish and expectations of higher costs). In fairness they both also accepted that there could be offsets in respect of EU assets to which the UK had in the past contributed.

    I really can’t see how such payments can be at all justified – they expect to force us to continue to pay for things from which, as non-members, we will gain absolutely nothing, but if this is going to be in any way accepted I would suggest an absolute stop on any further UK capital spending in Scotland. The precedent the EU sets, the SNP will expect to follow.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      If the EU was being wound up tomorrow they wouldn’t be looking to fund EU projects to the end date of them, instead they would be looking to wind them up. Our only liability is our share in the theoretical wind up costs, not the on going costs.

  35. graham1946
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I can see that Mr Tusk could write such a letter as he seems rather more sensible than the other EU leaders, but I worry more about what our government is actually going to do. Mrs May has made a good start, but will she have the necessary to see it through to the end with her Remoaners constantly on the airwaves and snapping at her heels? I have always held the view that a fudge will be the end result and that we will remain in all but name as the big players in the Cabinet are Remainers.

    This morning I heard on radio Vince Cable talking down the country again, saying that we are going to have to pay at least a very significant part of the 60 billion claim (even though there seems to be no evidence produced as to where this figure came from). IDS said that we have considerable assets in the EU buildings etc which should be counted in the other side of the ledger, so it looks like the government are now preparing the ground for a large settlement and just need to find a means to explain it away. Cable also said we will not be free of the EU for years.

    Why are the likes of Cable and the LibDems and the Greens and Scotland more intent on getting a good deal for the EU, than they are for the UK? Does their ideology and their parties really mean more to them than the welfare of the country? The LibDems are at an all time low and will not be forgiven if any of this comes about. Neither will the Tories if they weaken just to maintain their ‘unity’.

  36. oldtimer
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    From Merkel
    To Tusk

    What nonsense. Stick to your guns man. We have the upper hand. The British are in disarray. Sturgeon has already called for a second referendum. The BBC, and the lawyers, can be relied on to support our cause at every turn. May’s inner group consists of three (May, Hammond, Rudd) who voted Remain and they outnumber the two (Johnson and Davis) who voted Yes. Our financial blitzkrieg must be pushed to the limit to weaken the resolve of the two and strengthen the opposition of the three so that their stated position can be turned. Besides, as you point out, Germany and the EU needs the British money if EU programmes are to be delivered. money. And stop looking so glum!

  37. Iain Moore
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it should be pointed out to Merkel that Germany has been a significant player in our Brexiting, starting with our ejection from the ERM , where Helmut Khol’s intervention was far from helpful to the Government in its fight to remain in it, for he made it known that we wouldn’t be getting any support from Germany, which was a green light given the markets to speculate against the pound. Our Brexit began there for our ejection from the ERM made it an impossibility for us to join the Euro. Then of course we have Cameron who went begging for some help over immigration, he got nothing from Merkel, and migration was a significant reason he lost the referendum. So Germany was there at the beginning of the end and the end of our membership of the EU.

    Strangely Germany hasn’t learnt from its interventions , for we now seeing Merkel’s interventions on the Brexit negotiations being far from helpful, which suggests that either Germany is pretty ignorant and insensitive to other peoples requirements, or else this is what they wanted all along.

    PS People are rightly angry at Gibraltar being put in play on Brexit, but no one is asking what right does the EU have to even mention it? Gibraltar has nothing to do with them. The Government should not accept the EU’s proposed Brexit negotiation plan if it includes any mention of Gibraltar, they should tell them remove it or there is nothing to discuss .

    • Andy
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Personally I believe Germany actually wanted Brexit because it serves their interests. If you read the biography of the Kaiser by Rohl you can see that German foreign policy aims haven’t changed in a century. I also think the French wanted this outcome too thinking it would give them much more say in EU matters. I fear that the French have seriously miscalculated. What you will end up with is what Nick Ridley predicted when he said the Euro ‘was just a German racket to take over Europe’. I prefer the open sea.

  38. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    “… in the UK where apparently they accept the result.”

    I think Tusk et al will be well aware that while most of those who voted to stay in the EU have accepted the result there is a small but powerful minority who do not, and in some but not all cases that is because their primary loyalty is not to this country but to the EU.

    But apparently we are not allowed to call such people “traitors” even though they do fit the definition, not in the technical sense of having committed the criminal offence of treason but in the looser sense of “a person who is not loyal or stops being loyal to their own country, social class, beliefs, etc.”.

    For a start I well recall those occasions when MPs voted solidly against affirming the sovereignty of their own Parliament, our national Parliament, and I don’t suppose that a mere referendum vote will have been enough to change all their minds.

  39. agricola
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    When you give up the day job you could write an updated version of “Yes Minister”

    In preparation for a squabble over money in the divorce bill two things should be born in mind. Brexit was a direct result of the EU’s intransigence during the Cameron/EU re-negotiation. They are culpable. Secondly we have over the years of our membership paid or invested large sums of money nett into the EU coffers. We have been possibly the second largest nett contributor. Much of this will have been invested in real estate in Brussels, Strasburg, and no doubt many other countries. Our nett contribution will have been probably the second largest percentage contribution of the mere eight countries that are nett contributors. We therefore own that same percentage of the real estate owned by the EU. A sum we can offset against their divorce bill. Jeremy Clarkeson once confronted a Spanish autovia official with the suggestion that he should travel for free as the UK had paid for their motorways. It was in jest, but he had a point. A drop by 2 Para down the runway at Gibraltar might emphasise to the Spanish that we are not to be messed with.

    Earlier this morning your Captcha device was failing to respond.

  40. bigneil
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “our most important task of creating greater unity ”

    much politer than total domination of Europe.

  41. Simon
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    You seem to be suggesting that the sequencing of talks and the final bill are both German inspired and could also be changed by Germany ? Good luck with that.

  42. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    A good article here:



    The European ‘project’ has never been about trade, economics, or common sense

    Facts4EU.Org Analysis and Commentary on EU27’s Negotiating Rules


  43. Antisthenes
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Certainly that is the the letter that should be sent. However even if it is I have my doubts that Angela Merkel would pay any attention to it. Her actions to date would appear to suggest that she having been chancellor of Germany for so long and with the prospect of that tenure continue has come to believe in her self importance and infallibility. She will brook no opinion other than her own especially in furthering the ambitions of a greater and more prosperous mercantile Germany.

    To that end she sees the EU as a pivotal part of that plan. Brexit has annoyed her and in that she has allies in Brussels and France and as the EU is primarily for the benefit of Germany and France they will do her bidding. Her one weakness as you point out are her own businesses and farmers but even they may not be enough to sway her into a more conciliatory stance. If it does not then the choice left for the UK is to pay up or walk away. I hope the later Merkel is counting on the former.

  44. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    JR, reading the comments on a Remoaner blog I noticed this:

    “I have always seen EFTA for what we, the UK, set it up for in the first place, an alternative option free of the political bonds, that gives other European nations a choice who to join. We should finish the job we started.”

    As many people seem to be under this misapprehension, would it not be useful to publish a short blog article on how EFTA has changed since we first helped to set it up?

    We should never have left EFTA, but having done so we cannot now rejoin the EFTA we left because it no longer exists. Unlike the EEC which has evolved to become the EU the name of EFTA has not been changed, but people should not think that it is the same beast.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Also on the same blog, joining EFTA and staying in the EEA would give us:

      “the legally guaranteed ability to control EU migration”.

      I will restrain myself and describe this as a fantasy rather than a lie.

      There is no way that those who believe as an article of faith that “the four freedoms of the Single Market are indivisible” would agree to the UK continuing to participate in their Single Market through the mechanism of the EEA but with the legal ability to split one of those four freedoms from the other three.

      And that is assuming that the EFTA countries would even agree to admit the UK on that basis when EFTA too is now committed to the same “four freedoms”:


      “The updated EFTA Convention, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and entered into force on 1 June 2002 … Important new provisions included the free movement of persons, trade in services, movement of capital and protection of intellectual property.”

  45. B2017
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    You have to admire Mr Redwood for his completely blind optimism. Here’s a guy who refuses to engage with any details beyond ‘it will be fine’ if we leave with no deal, and in rejecting the EEA as a transitional deal, has now helped set us up for something far worse, and then complains about that far worse deal to justify leaving with no deal.

    So now it’s either a terrible deal or we can go running off the cliff with Mr Redwood together as we all merrily discuss how impacting with rocks isn’t actually that bad.

    • Simon
      Posted April 3, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      That passive aggressive refusal to engage with any detail while simply asserting he is right all the time either way is completely mystifying.

  46. peter
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! many thx

    • peter
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Sorry to reply to own post. “May I also respectfully suggest that you do not speak out before consulting other states, as there is some private resentment of this. ” I loved that line 🙂

  47. James neill
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    To Donald Tusk from ms Merkel… Just as we discussed..the british havn’t a leg to stand on, they havn’t a clue, they are in complete disarray..split down the middle and when the talks are finally concluded they will be only half in and half out. It gets even worse than that because they’ll be still obliged to pay all or most of the EU costs to trade with the EU 27 and observe all EU legal requirements to do so.. and this while having absolutely no say in EU decision making…Donald..you and i might find it hard to understand..but it’s what the english call..taking back control..

  48. forthurst
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Whether the legitimacy of Merkel’s bill to us is enshrined in law is to entirely miss the point; this is not a due payment but a ransom demand and although those who hold the freedom of UK dear may wish to retrieve our liberty at any price, the advice from those who have dealt with these sorts is to never cave in to the extorters but simply to get close enough so that they can be reasoned with through a megaphone.

    Should the UK be foolish enough to cave in in part or in whole, this will only embolden them to make further demands in every area of policy and we will find ourselves permanently trapped within a virtual EU for ever. This of course is the desired outcoe of most of the Tory Party which is essentially remaniac and large swathes of business who have no legitimate right to decide the future of this country.

  49. Mark
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday, Michel Barnier met with a higgledy-piggledy collection of Green organisations as part of his efforts to secure input for the Brexit negotiations, as his Twitter stream reveals:


    He is surely supposed only to be taking direction from the EU Council: they should slap him down and remind him who is his boss. Perhaps Tusk needs a reminder that lobbyists and even Europarl have no negotiating rights under Article 50, and only the Commission has a formal right to provide the Council with advice, which it is free to reject. They need to issue the same reminder to Verhofstadt and Europarl.

  50. Anonymous
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    An email which I have just sent to my Remainer friend:

    “The EU and economic ‘cliff edge’.

    I’ve just been listening to Radio X and an advert comes on directed at our age group. A fawning mum celebrating that her son got his first house and how the Nationwide helped her to help him do it.

    So not only is it good enough for us to struggle to pay off our own mortgages – we’ve got to pass on our inheritance to pay off our kid’s university fees and then further indebt ourselves to pay for their homes too. Despite being a top professional I doubt Sam will be mortgage free or in anything other than a house bigger than our first.

    This is what is happening to us.

    Compare this to my Dad retiring at 50 with a huge pension pot and inheritance (having done a job less skilled and well paid than mine) and going off on cruises and camper van tours. I doubt I will retire before 67 if I’m truthful.

    Now that is a ‘cliff edge’ in generational wealth and it happened while we were in the EU.

    Remainers never mention it.”

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      So not only is it *not* good enough for us to struggle…

  51. Original Richard
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “The European tradition of showing respect for government, and voting again if a referendum miscarries, is not unfortunately practised in the UK where apparently they accept the result.”

    It is clear that if hard Remainers, such as the Liberal Democrats, who had previously offered the UK an EU referendum, and voted in Parliament to hold the 2016 EU referendum, had been in power, they would not have implemented a leave result in the best traditions of a banana republic.

  52. Mark
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    The most important sentence in the whole of Tusk’s letter:

    The European Council will remain permanently seized of the matter, and will update these guidelines in the course of the negotiations as necessary.

    Paraphrased by Groucho Marx as ” If you don’t like my principles, I have others”. But the good news is the intention that the Council will run the show – not Barnier/Juncker.

  53. James Matthews
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Relevant UK Government Petition:


  54. Pragmatist
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    A draft letter for Mr Donald Tusk to Angela Merkel

    Dear Mrs Merkel,

    This is all your fault.

    Yours etc

  55. Derek Henry
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Trade is the most understood thing in economics after inflation.

    I know it’s long John but bare with me and allow the post. UK is in the driving seat here we just need to stand firm.

    Up over the wall in the North they used to tell the story about a guy who claimed he could make cars out of wood, and he started a company in Inverness that brought trees into one door of his giant building with new cars coming out of another door, and he wouldn’t let anyone inside to see how it was done.

    He was given a award for innovation and widely acclaimed, until one day someone got inside and saw he was shipping the trees out the back to Japan and bringing in new South Korean cars. He was then arrested and jailed.

    Point is, for the macro economy it didn’t make any difference what was going on behind those closed doors, and that for purposes of understanding one can think of foreign trade as a company that takes in all that they can export aand delivers back whatever is imported.

    This model also promotes the understanding of how, in real terms, exports are the costs of imports, and optimising real terms of trade is about getting the most cars for the fewest trees, which is likewise what productivity is all about for the domestic economy.

    What about the jobs lost due to increased productivity? Well, history shows it used to take 99% of the workforce to grow the food they needed to eat to live, and today it takes maybe 1% of the workforce to grow enough food to eat with a lot left over to export. Yet, unemployment isn’t necessarily any higher today than it was back then.

    Why? Because there’s always a lot more we think needs to get done than their are people to do it, and unemployment comes from a lack of funding, and not a lack of things to do. Today the service sector dominates, and more so every day, with services we’d like to have done as far as the eye can see. And unemployment, as currently defined, is necessarily the evidence that for a given level of govt expenditure the economy is over taxed, as a simple point of logic. Not that policy makers understand that, of course.

    Now let’s add a Trump border tax to the model, for the purpose of creating jobs and bringing them back home. A border tax would put a tax on importing the cars to attempt to keep us from buying them so we would have more jobs building cars domestically, and reduce the tax on exporting the trees so we would have more jobs cutting down and shipping out trees.

    Let’s assume that’s what happened and look at those consequences. First, we would be shipping out more trees and getting fewer cars. This makes the nation as a whole worse off due to those reduced real terms of trade. The next step is to identify the winners and losers, recognising the losses to our standard of living are higher than the gains.

    Best case scenario is we put more people to work growing more trees so we have just as many trees for ourselves, and we’d put more people to work building cars so we’d have just is many cars as before. So what we accomplished is that we are working more to be left with the same amount for ourselves.

    That’s called a drop in productivity, and a decline in our standard of living, as work is an input and a real cost of production. Work itself is not an economic benefit. The economic benefits of work is the output produced. And the whole point of producing output is consumption of some type, either for immediate use or for future use. That is, makes no economic sense to work and produce output for the purpose of immediately throwing it away.

    So with the above ‘best case’ assumptions, the border tax does work to create jobs, and unemployment is a political problem, which is why the border tax has that element of political appeal.

    However, surely a better choice for job creation would be a fiscal adjustment, either a tax cut or spending increase, large enough to promote sufficient spending to increase sales, output, and employment to produce that additional output. That way we have that much more domestic output to consume plus all the imported cars we were buying before the border tax, and we don’t have to give away the extra trees due to the border tax proposal.

    And how does it look from the government’s point of view?

    First, the government expects extra revenue (not) from the tax on the imported cars, net of the revenue lost from tax benefits for exporters. This means less spending power for consumers paying the tax, presumably offset by new tax cuts, making it all revenue neutral, which through some presumed channels in theory is to to have its own positive consequences.

    So in this ‘best case’ scenario we would work more and get less, while consumer taxes go up while other taxes go down.

    But that is only the economic best case scenario. All kinds of other things can happen, with the same model used for purposes of analysis.

    • hefner
      Posted April 2, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      I’ll keep your contribution (with proper references) for future 1st April’s. Thanks.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      But we’re humans and not machines, we need to feel we’re making a valued contribution like good little worker ants. That’s got to be better than people thinking they’re poorly off as a couple not working, like the couple on the tv last night from Huyton, and now only being able to get the equivalent of a £28,000 benefit package to net out £20k when they’re incapable of earning so much if they were actually working!

  56. Luke Hawkins
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    At the eleventh hour when Britain is about to drop out without any agreement they will extend the time for negotiations to take us past the next UK general election. Thus they will confound the situation so that the Remainers can paint the most gloomy picture of our future and encourage the electorate to return a Europhile government.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      Luke, I think this is what many of us fear.

  57. British Spy
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    A draft letter for Mr Donald Tusk to Angela Merkel

    April 1st 2017

    Dear Angela

    Special EU secret Agent, code name “Krankie” has tossed a Scots whisky bottle at an EU fishing boat , no message, just an empty bottle, then reported “I’ve been rumbled” Asks for asylum “Somewhere outside Sassenachdom ” . Recommend a beautiful little summer house in the Gobi desert.
    Yours etc

  58. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    President Tusk, nominally on behalf of EU-27 collectively, has demanded that:
    – The UK accepts to pay a big exit bill before trade talks start
    – Spain has a veto over Gibraltar’s future
    – There must be a soft border with Ireland
    – The ‘rights’ of EU citizens must be respected
    – There will be no special deal for the City of London

    In other words, the EU is already behaving like a German dominated European SuperState, without any mandate from its electorates, whether jointly or severally.

    Fortunately, a robust response is available to the UK:
    – The bill to be paid will be 15 months worth of the UK’s annual net contribution, terminating in March 2019, plus our share of the pensions of EC employees earned up to that date (fully audited)
    – We are not going to finance any aspect of a European SuperState that we don’t want to exist, never mind belong to
    – We will use our Navy to defend Gibraltar, without reference to Spain
    – There will only be a soft border with Ireland if the Republic accepts our immigration policy and it does not support Republican terrorism (which is probably about to restart)
    – EU citizens who arrive on or before 23rd June 2016 will retain full rights, others have to take their chance
    – On the day of our exit, we will impose neither tariffs nor non-tariff barriers on imports from EU member States but will retaliate if the EU imposes such on us. This covers the interests of the City of London

    • rose
      Posted April 2, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Why should we pay the pensions of EU employees who are loyal to the EU and not to us? Some have taken an oath of allegiance to the EU, not the Queen. Some have terms of employment which oblige them to uphold the interests of the EU against ours.

    Posted April 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Imagine that you are a leaseholder of a flat with a share in the management of the block. An AGM votes in favour of a five year refurbishment programme. Year 1 the roofs, years the windows etc. These costs are to be taken out of the annual maintenance fee in each year. You sell your flat in year 2. Does anyone imagine that you are legally bound to go on paying for the maintenance until the end of the 5 year period even though you are no longer a leaseholder. This is the equivalence of the EU’s arguments about Britain having to pay for future projects just because they are in a plan. THE EU,S DEMAND MUST BE REJECTED ON PRINCIPLE.

  60. Peter D Gardner
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    It is beyond belief that anyone can seriously believe that if they commit to a budget extending well beyond the period of notice required by the Treaties governing the entire enterprise for a major contributor to leave altogether without further commitments, the parties remaining do not have to pick up the balance themselves or reduce the budget. Isn’t that what solidarity means?

  61. Peter D Gardner
    Posted April 1, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we offer Nicola Sturgeon as an EU Commissioner without portfolio in exchange for the EU dropping the entire ‘divorce bill’ save for £119.50 to cover the EU Citizenship and passport so kindly offered by Guy Verhoffstadt? We’ll gladly pay her fare and removal costs.

  62. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 2, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The Gibraltar situation is interesting in that the EU are conceding that negotiations between the UK and a single European country (Spain in this case) can in fact take place, direcxtly contradicting their stated position that all negotiations must be with the EU. SO let’s get on and start negotiating reciprocal rights for EU citizens directly with Poland.

    • Prigger
      Posted April 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      The Gibraltar question is a red herring. In this connection you will recall the Labour Party Remoaniks inside Parliament voiced multiple concerns about Gibraltar a week or so BEFORE the EU shouted out. Psychic powers?

  63. Paul Greenwood
    Posted April 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    How will Denmark cope with 45% tariff on pork exports to UK ? How will Dutch handle 45% tariffs or Irish ? Simple changes in UK tax law on lease cars and company cars and German car exporters can suck wind. There are currently 5000 used Porsche on Auto Trader so there is no shortage of cars for buyers. The number of BMWs leased in The City and churned after 2 years leads to quite a glut at car auctions. Simply cutting the trade deficit by restricting imports would work wonders for economic stability when the current account derfcit is 7% GDP

  • 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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