The EU sets out its stall

The bark of the EU was less aggressive than the spin prior to the formal document. Mr Tusk tells us “The Union will be constructive throughout and will strive to find an Agreement”. He sees the UK as a “close partner in the future”. He welcomes the UK’s understanding that you cannot belong to the single market without accepting all the four freedoms.

It is also clear that the EU would like a free trade agreement, and an agreement on intelligence, counter terrorism, defence and security co-operation. Indeed, why wouldn’t they, when you see how it is so strongly in their interests. The Union is worried that the UK might seek to negotiate and talk to individual member states likely to be sympathetic, so the document seeks to ban any talks by the EU 27 individually with the UK about Brexit.The Union has moved its language a bit on the rights of UK citizens living on the continent and EU citizens living in the UK, in recognition that they need to reassure and secure the position of all involved. It still falls short of the full guarantee that should be offered.

So what are the catches? There are three main obstacles to an agreement latent in this proposal. The first is the continued provision for a “divorce bill”. The language is less inflammatory and there is some understanding that any payment has to be based on “legal and budgetary commitments”. So maybe they will see there are no financial obligations beyond our continuing budget contributions up to the date of departure.

The second is wish to delay work on a future trade relationship and other matters concerning our future co-operation until a second phase. This is reinforced by saying that any free trade agreement has to be “finalised and concluded once the UK is no longer a member state”. If by this they mean the day after we leave we can register a free trade agreement already sorted out then this is fine, but if they mean we sit down and sort one out after departure they will have to adjust to high tariffs against their strong agricultural exports to the UK from Day One.

The third is the mantra that “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. This could delay necessary agreements over matters like citizens rights, and makes the likelihood of all the EU member states and the other EU institutions agreeing that much more difficult.

The UK in response to this should continue with warm words and friendly intent, but also should inject some pace and energy into the timetable. Uncertainty helps neither side. It will be no easier to agree these things in 2019 than now. Lets flush out whether thy are serious about wanting a deal. If they are not, lets just leave.


  1. Len Grinds
    April 2, 2017

    It is truly a shame that you, an elected MP, continue to deceive your readers.

    First: you write, “The Union is worried that the UK might seek to negotiate and talk to individual member states likely to be sympathetic, so the document seeks to ban any talks by the EU 27 individually with the UK about Brexit”. This is wholly untrue. Such a ban is the very basis of EU law on external relations, and that has been the case for decades. The document simply repeats the long-standing position. This is not an anti-UK move. It is simply the normal operation of the EU.

    Second: “So maybe they will see there are no financial obligations beyond our continuing budget contributions up to the date of departure.” Not so. The UK is plainly liable for its share of the cost of existing commitments that have been agreed already, even if the projects have not been started. The UK’s departure does not discharge this legal liability.

    I understand your desire to evade responsibility for the UK’s looming economic pain by pretending the fault lies over the Channel. But it does not.

    1. Martyn G
      April 2, 2017

      If, as you say, John’s statement re the document is entirely untrue then why, pray, does the document itself include the sentence “The Union is worried that the UK might seek to negotiate and talk to individual member states likely to be sympathetic, so the document seeks to ban any talks by the EU 27 individually with the UK about Brexit?”
      The document either says that or it doesn’t; clearly it does and it is following the usual EU elite principal of doing what they want regardless of their own Law.
      This is perhaps best exampled by Lord Tebbit who, speaking of the time he was a Minister, says in the Telegraph today he was told by a senior EU Official at a Council of Ministers that “he did not understand how the EU works”. “We”, said the official “make the Law and the people have to obey it”. “We”, he continued, “do not have to obey the Law because we are here to make it”.
      The EU hierarchy can and does put itself above the Law and those who believe otherwise and are content to support and live under their dictatorship – benevolent though may it be up to now – rejects democracy, imperfect though it may be at times.

    2. Lawrence Hartley
      April 2, 2017

      Len Grinds

      So John Redwoods honest opinion is ”Deceiving” the readers ?? With an opening sentence like that why bother to read the rest of your rubbish !!

    3. Leslie Singleton
      April 2, 2017

      Attn Len–First I take no comfort from the fact that the EU’s current operations are its normal ones–Secondly, these existing commitments that have been agreed already, why is it not unarguable that these are commitments of the EU, not the UK? If you think otherwise please demonstrate where and when UK committed itself, else nothing to talk about.

    4. Leslie Singleton
      April 2, 2017

      Attn Len–First I take no comfort from the fact that the EU’s current operations are, you say, its normal ones–Secondly, these existing commitments that you say have been agreed already, why is it not unarguable that these are commitments of the EU, not the UK? If you think otherwise please demonstrate where and when UK committed itself, else nothing to talk about.

    5. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      We are not *external relations* yet.

      We still pay the EU money, accept its laws and its people.

    6. stred
      April 2, 2017

      The UK is leaving the club- not joining. The commitments agreed previously were for the benefit of members in the future. Now we are leaving, we will not be receiving the benefits and the cost of the benefits should be deducted. If what you say is true, then the EU could reduce the expenditure in proportion to the UK contribution, as less will be needed in a smaller EU. With advocates like you helping your country, who needs Verhofstadt? We must make sure any civil servants negotiating on our behalf are not still working for the other side.

    7. David Price
      April 2, 2017

      But we haven’t left the EU yet so such interaction would not be an “external relation”. The EU are making the rules up as they go along because they never expected anyone to attempt to disentangle themselves and so had no real process or policies.

      We must examine what legal financial liabilities there are on both sides.

      The desire to uncritically laud the actions of the EU and castigate anyone who doesn’t agree with the gospel of the EU is at best pathetic.

    8. Hope
      April 2, 2017

      LG, What a load of tosh. The next two years contributions should be tapered. If the UK is out voted then a firm line taken we will not pay through being railroaded into future projects. Otherwise the U.K. Could be forced against its will for many future projects agreed in the next two years. Do not be silly. We are leaving not agreeing to being robbed! Article 8 of Lisbon Treaty applies and the EU has failed with its comment about Gibralta. No wonder Russia is on guard about the Ukraine!

      The last two sentences from JR are very poignant and spot on the money. It does not take two years to say goodbye, this is a maximum not a target. This is not complicated as remainers would like us to think. We do not need to hear themso rant, scare or try to think how we could be forced to stay any longer. Do the EU want a trade deal yes or no? If no fine goodbye we leave. Residual pension payments made by the U.K. for U.K. Politicos then UK legislation enacted to cancel retrospectively as none of them deserve a penny. We want payment for all assets and liabilities owed to us including deposits. There is a chance more EU bail outs over the next two years we are not paying a penny for these either.

    9. Mark Watson
      April 2, 2017


    10. Andy
      April 2, 2017

      So the UK is ‘plainly liable for its share of the costs of existing commitments. . . ‘. Can you point us all in the direction of the relevant clause in the Treaties ??

      And secondly the EU does not act for its member states in ‘external relations’ and in point of fact technically the rights of EU Members Citizens in the UK and vice versa is a matter for bilateral agreements.

    11. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      If we leave the EU without an agreement then legally we will have no financial liability, according to the preponderance of expert legal evidence given to a Lords committee and endorsed by its legal adviser, page 62 of the report here:

      “22. The expression the “Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question” in Article 50(3) TEU is unqualified by any condition about ongoing liabilities under EU law, no doubt because this is exactly what the withdrawal agreement is intended to cover. The meaning of the words are clear: the foundation of the whole edifice of EU law – the acquis communautaire – is abruptly removed for the State in question. Given that the EU Treaties are at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of EU norms, once they cease to have effect, the legal base for every aspect of the UK’s membership of the EU comes to an end. This will include all of its legal obligations under the Own Resources Decision, the Multiannual Financial Framework, and the Annual Budget. It will also include the supremacy of EU law over UK law, and the jurisdiction of the CJEU over the UK.

      23. It follows that, under EU law, Article 50 TEU allows the UK to leave the EU without being liable for outstanding financial obligations under the EU budget, unless a withdrawal agreement is concluded which resolves this issue. (This advice does not address the political consequences of the UK withdrawing from the EU without settling outstanding payments to the EU budget and related financial instruments.)”

    12. MickN
      April 2, 2017

      I am looking forward to the rental money that we will get for the two “Parliament” buildings and our share of any other assets that may be sold after we have left.
      They can’t have it both ways even if they think they can.

    13. Ken Worthy
      April 2, 2017

      First, the “normal operation of the EU” is the main reason why we are leaving. Second: The EU exit bill is largely a spurious invention. A major element of the demand is to fund the future pensions of EU civil servants. Yet no other EU member pays in advance. The EU funds its pensions on the “pay as you go” principle, as we do. As a member, the UK has paid and is still paying our fair share of these pensions. Is there any good reason why we should pay twice?
      Another large chunk arises out of the EU’s habitual practice of authorising, in each of its budgets, far more spending than its members are willing to pay for. The Commission simply goes ahead with approving both, leaving an ever-growing gap to be funded somehow in the future. Only the EU could think that this represents a genuine commitment which we should pay for. The EU also wants us to pay up front for contingent liabilities such as bail out loans, with a promise that they will refund the money if the loans are ever repaid. John Redwood is quite right – none of the EU’s demands is worth the paper they are written on, and we should reject them.

    14. rose
      April 3, 2017

      “This is wholly untrue. Such a ban is the very basis of EU law on external relations, and that has been the case for decades. The document simply repeats the long-standing position.”

      Could you by any chance be confusing making trade agreements outside the EU with talking to nations inside the EU?

      “The UK is plainly liable for its share of the cost of existing commitments that have been agreed already, even if the projects have not been started. The UK’s departure does not discharge this legal liability.”

      There is no legal liability, as the House of Lords has demonstrated, after taking extensive independent expert advice.

      The idea that we must pay for work done after we leave is, to be sure, being put about, and many people are picking it up and repeating it, but it isn’t true. The truth is, we are the second largest contributor and they want our money after we have gone.

      On the question of pensions, again we have no obligation, because the EU employees are the EU’s, not ours. They owe their allegiance to the EU, not to us – some have to take an oath to the EU rather than the Queen – and they are not allowed to say anything against the EU, or they lose their pensions. This is amply demonstrated in their behaviour. I won’t name any names. I am sure people can think of a few.

    15. Edward2
      April 3, 2017

      In your first paragraph are you saying the EU will not allow the UK to talk to other member nations or not?
      I’ve read your words several times and I’m unable to decide.
      In your second paragraph can you point to the legal document the UK has signed that binds it to pay for any future projects that may or may not be started.

      1. Len Grinds
        April 4, 2017

        Bilateral trade deals between a single member state and a third country are not allowed under EU law.

        The provision is Art 50(2) TEU. Arrangements for withdrawal, there mentioned, covers the matter of liabilities, which require negiotiation. 60 million the opening bid, i believe

        1. David Price
          April 5, 2017

          Article 50 says nothing at all about liabilities, nor does 218(3) which is cited in artcile 50. However, it does explicitly state arrangements for withdrawal take account of the framework for the future relationship. The EU is convenient ignoring this requirement and inventing rules as it goes along.

    16. Narrow Shoulders
      April 3, 2017

      There is no liability beyond membership contributions. Show us where in any treaty ongoing liabilities are due from ex – members.

      First we divvy up the assets for which we have contributed. We can collect rent on Polish factories and put toll booths on Eastern European highways financed through EU funding.

      Quid pro quo my friend.

    17. Simon
      April 3, 2017

      Art 50 negotiations only require QMV. In those circumstances why should we not talk to Member States ? It is very unlikely the Tusk draft is going to be the only guidance forthcoming for the Council. We need to, we are entitled to and we no doubt will continue to talk to MS. In the same way even third countries entering into talks with the EU for any purpose can not suddenly be prohibited from bi lateral talks. If that is the case we may as well withdraw the accreditation of all their Ambassadors and close down the London Embassies.

  2. Sean
    April 2, 2017

    Let’s just leave already, I see no reason to continue dragging feet with the EU hell hole and money pit.

    We would be better off negotiating outside the EU like other countries. Plus… it will stop the remoaners once and for all.

    1. formula57
      April 2, 2017

      And would save us c.£850 million a month.

      It would also have the effect of creating a budget crisis in the Evil Empire, with consequent fostering of friendship and co-operation between member states as contributions are recalibrated.

      Remoaners will never cease moaning though.

    2. Hope
      April 2, 2017

      JR, all politicos should be banned from speaking unilaterally with any EU official until the completion of this alleged negotiation. Khan, Sturgeon or any other Publicly paid official to have any talks with anyone employed by the EU. This helps stops tractors acting against our national interest and the EU using them to do us harm.

    3. Lifelogic
      April 2, 2017

      I tend to agree and what was the point of the nine month of delay.

    4. Jerry
      April 2, 2017

      @Sean; “it will stop the remoaners once and for all”

      If you think the complaining is bad now just wait until after Brexit, every economic hiccup, factory closure or job loss, any shortages, price increases, tax increases, public services cut-backs, all will get blamed on “Brexit” and those who pushed for it – in the same way that the right-wing were able to pile blame upon blame onto the Labour Party and the Trade Unions for all our economic woes during the 1970s and into the ’80s regardless of the true causes.

      Brexit has given the political left their biggest opportunity to trash the political right in years, even if they are/were eurosceptic themselves…

    5. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Sean, I agree fully. I wonder why JR has not replied to Len Grinds. I wish he would as we are all in the dark.

  3. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2017

    Cutting through all the complexities and side issues the core disagreement is over freedom of movement of persons. The great majority of UK citizens believe that they as UK voters should have the right to control immigration into their own country, while the governments of other EU countries believe that the EU should control our immigration policy.

    Their belief is dressed up as a quasi-religious dogma or “principle”, the indivisibility of the “four freedoms” of their Single Market, but that is what it all boils down to; and either we accept that dogma, or they will deliberately seek to disrupt our trade.

    There is no other reason for their desire to impose what amount to trade sanctions, as if we were some rogue state; it is not for instance that the present terms of UK-EU trade are too greatly in our favour and they have a massive trade deficit as a cause for complaint.

    We are not a conquered people and we should never allow them to impose their will.

    1. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      UK citizens feel they have the right to be special in their own country.

      In the EU this cannot be so. Anyone who turns up can be treated equally. It has nothing to do with xenophobia.

      Why on earth cannot Remainers understand the dissatisfaction ?

  4. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2017

    “… also should inject some pace and energy into the timetable.”

    Most of us realise that they are trying to waste time and spin out the process, and we know that their hope is that our negotiators will cave in when faced with the artificial deadline.

    The difference is between those in this country who are on their side and applaud their bad faith and take it as another argument that we should never have voted to leave the EU, and those of us who think that we should not let them mess us about.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      April 3, 2017

      The difference is between those in this country who are on their side and applaud their bad faith and take it as another argument that we should never have voted to leave the EU, and those of us who think that we should not let them mess us about

      This is so true. The Lib Dems and Labour criticised sabre rattling over a pledge to defend Gibraltar while not batting an eyelid over the EU using UK self determined territory as a way to subjugate our negotiators.

      1. Ed Mahony
        April 3, 2017

        There’s a world of difference between the EU wrongly using Gibraltar as a bargaining chip and Lord Howard threatening Spain, in some shape or form, with war. Howard was bonkers to say what he did. And has made us a laughing stock around Europe and the world, as well as hugely undermining support for Brexit from people lukewarm about Brexit, whether leavers or remainers. And has only weakened our negotiation position with the EU.

        1. Narrow Shoulders
          April 4, 2017

          You are a case in point I am afraid Ed.

          You defended the EU using part of the British territory as a negotiating tool. Where do you draw the line, your city, your borough perhaps your home?

          1. Ed Mahony
            April 5, 2017

            ‘You defended the EU using part of the British territory as a negotiating tool’

            – I certainly did not!

  5. Lifelogic
    April 2, 2017

    What the negotiation show is how cumbersome and sclerotic the EU systems is with all the member countries (each with very different interests) having to agree. It is a system that cannot ever act in the interest of its members efficiently.

    As you say if they are not serious, lets just leave. But how serious are MPs? The house is stuffed with remainiacs and the Lords even more so. May and Hammond do not inspire confidence at all.

    1. Jerry
      April 2, 2017

      @LL; “It is a system that cannot ever act in the interest of its members efficiently.”

      But it could, and most likely will once the nay-saying of the UK is gone, after all a very similar system work in the USA, and they have 50 states that all want their say not just the EU’s 27 or so states.

      Perhaps you also have the same disdain for the USA?

  6. Lifelogic
    April 2, 2017

    Why, when the country is so short of decent doctors, is it so hard to get a place at medical school. Lots of really excellent A* candidate being rejected all over the place? They seem to have money to fund all sorts of largely pointless degrees in total nonsense, non subjects at universities and yet they cannot provide enough places to train the doctors we desperately need.

    Perhaps they need to charge more of the the real costs to the student but why ration the places so much and turn so many sound people away?

    Have the government just decided it is much cheaper not to bother and just to pinch trained Doctors from overseas?

    1. sm
      April 2, 2017

      In The Times of 9 April 2016, the exec director of The Adam Smith Institute wrote: “…the UK has too few doctors because the government colludes with the BMA to restrict supply…The BMA opposes the opening of new medical schools or expansion of places despite there being a large number of would-be doctors who could meet this pent-up demand.

      Just as other cartels restrict supply to inflate prices, the BMA has kept doctors’ wages artificially high by keeping doctors’ numbers down.”

      Sorry I don’t have a link to verify this, I actually cut it out of the paper and kept it, as proof of something I had been aware of for years.

    2. alan jutson
      April 2, 2017


      Agree a shortage of opportunities in the medical places is just plain daft.

      Simple solution to higher fees is to lower them, and make it a condition that after they qualify they must work exclusively for the NHS for 5 years minimum, before they can do anything else, failure to comply by choice would involve financial penalties with a fee being charged against future earnings.

    3. stred
      April 2, 2017

      The largest contributor to inward migration must be the NHS, which recruits staff from countries which can ill afford to lose professionals. Their families follow, adding to the numbers. Then the NHS pisses off UK trained doctors with poor training opportunities and working the disfunctional system and they leave for better paid conditions, and helping to keep the net migration figures down. Then in 30 years time we will need to recruit more overseas doctors to take care of the aging overseas recruits.

    4. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      STEM degrees are subsidised by arts graduates who pay more than their courses are worth.

    5. Jerry
      April 2, 2017

      @LL; “Why, when the country is so short of decent doctors, is it so hard to get a place at medical school. Lots of really excellent A* candidate being rejected all over the place?”

      Perhaps many have the wrong ‘bedside attitude’, and that is not something that any academic exam can discover, only probing interview(s) of the candidate once they apply. The medical profession is as much a vocation as a career choice.

    6. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017


      “Have the government just decided it is much cheaper not to bother and just to pinch trained Doctors from overseas?”

      Nearly every doctor my husband see in Ayr hospital is from overseas and most of the doctors I have had operated on me and seen as a consultant at the same hospital have been foreign. Says it all.

  7. oldtimer
    April 2, 2017

    Despite Mrs Merkel’s injunction about “no cherry picking”, acknowledged in the UK’s Article 50 letter, I read that Spain is allowed to cherry pick Gibraltar in the EU draft.

    The reference to “budget commitments” suggests to me that the EU is seeking to extract commitments from the UK to pay for programmes that will extend beyond the UK’s departure date. That is unrealistic. The EU will need to reassess its forward programme after the UK has left, not least because it depended on UK contributions for a substantial portion of its income. I imagine that Germany will demand this too, as the main paymaster. There is a strong chance that attempts to reach an agreement over money will fail, alongside attempts by the EU to impose ECJ jurisdiction beyond the departure date. While there are many who will seek to reach agreement on trade, there are those who will seek to make life as awkward as possible for the UK. I think the chances that we will finish up with WTO arrangements have increased.

    1. oldtimer
      April 2, 2017

      I also see that there are several elections due in the next two years: France, Schleswig Holstein, North Rhine- Westphalia, Norway, Germany Luxembourg, Slovenia (presidential), Austria, Sweden, Hungary, Finland (presidential), Italy and for the European parliament. The outcome of these, as is their potential impact on the negotiations triggered under Article 50, is unpredictable. They may complicate the ratification process if a Brexit deal is negotiated.

    2. rose
      April 2, 2017

      Were the Eurocrats who cancelled Spain’s fines the same ones who are fixing things for her now?

  8. alan jutson
    April 2, 2017

    Your last p[paragraph sums it all up really.

    Do they really want a deal or not, if so, then the sooner the better for both sides.

  9. agricola
    April 2, 2017

    You overlook the threat to Gibraltar, why? Apart from the morality of this Spanish interjection, there is the NATO function of Gibraltar. I would assume we have underwater listening devices strung out across the Straits that can identify every alien submarine that passes to the extent of what the captain had for breakfast. I would be surprised if GCHQ did not have a presence. Tusk should be made aware that if he wishes to negotiate the future of Europe with the UK the Spanish clause should be removed.

    Captcha must be on LSD this morning.

    1. formula57
      April 2, 2017

      Surely the rest of the EU would look askance at any Spanish efforts to lever advantage for itself were that to jeopardize achieving a deal that everyone else wants. And it is not as if Spain has any credibility, especially given its postion in Ceuta and Melilla.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      April 2, 2017

      Dear Agricola–Yes to your last line which is why my effort above is in twice (except John might well delete one)–Message from Captcha said , even though everything seemed all right, that “Captcha failed to Verify”–Well excuuuuuuuuse me. Are poles holding up Street Signs classed as Street Signs?

  10. Biggles
    April 2, 2017

    “Lets flush out whether thy are serious about wanting a deal. If they are not, lets just leave.”

    They do not believe we will just walk away from the table.
    It’s taken months and professional counselling services to convince them they’d actually receive Article 50 ( many Brexiteeers also needed such counselling thanks to road-runner Mrs May at the helm ).
    So they’ll let everything drag on hoping we behave like the Irish government and just keep giving our people yet another Referendum until we vote Remain..

  11. Prigger
    April 2, 2017

    Why is the EU being allowed to dictate what the agenda is of the process of meetings? “Mrs Merkel says..” such and such cannot be negotiated first ” Why isn’t the UK side saying: “We take it from you attitude you do not wish meaningful negotiations therefore we will wait throughout the two year period…you know our address in London…until such time as you wish to negotiate. But we will be leaving exactly, to the day, two years hence irrespective of agreement or no agreement!”

    1. Chris S
      April 2, 2017

      Remember that the two year period is a maximum.

      I think that Brussels will string us along and in the end will be unable to agree between themselves the kind of deal that would be in any way acceptable to the British People.
      For that entire period we will be handing over €1bn a month.

      We should therefore be up front. Mrs May should set out our red lines in a second letter and ask for them to confirm within three months that they are agreement with those principles otherwise they are to take this second letter as notice that we will be leaving on 1st September with no deal. All payments from the UK to the EU will then cease on that date in accordance with the legal advice secured by the House of Lords we will pay not a Euro more.

      I certainly think whatever the outcome, we should be insisting that the 27 contribute to our defence budget at the very least all the costs of us stationing troops and equipment in their countries in the same way that West Germany used to do before reunification.

    2. John O'Leary
      April 2, 2017

      The two year period specified in Article 50 is a maximum (unless an extension is agreed unilaterally). We are not bound two remain for two years and could leave tomorrow if talks break down. I don’t believe that is a sensible approach, but it is a fact. There is not minimum time specified for talks, but I guess the EU would then take us to court for what they see as our debts.

      1. John O'Leary
        April 2, 2017

        I don’t believe I wrote “unilaterally” instead of “unanimously”. I also wrote “bound two remain” instead of “bound to remain”. I must be something I had for lunch. 🙂

    3. Leslie Singleton
      April 2, 2017

      Dear Prigger–Sounds good to me–Everything the EU has done in recent years just engenders more hatred of the accursed and artificial construct–What Joy to get away from the attempts at harmonisation, as in “We want everyone to feel at home anywhere in the EU”–If I want to feel at home I’ll stay at home TVM.

    4. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Prigger. Seems to me that the Eu dictates everything!! Mrs Merkel has too much to say. Why two years? Lets’ get out if they don’t comply with negotiating.

    5. Len Grinds
      April 3, 2017

      The UK sends about 45 per cent of its exports to the EU27. The Eu27 send about 6 per cent of theirs to the UK. Brexit matters a little bit to the EU27. It matters hugely to the UK. This is why the Eu27 is in a far stronger bargaining position.
      I am afraid that the Brexiteers, including Mr Redwood, who promised you that the UK is a better position than the EU27 were not being honest with you. Every day that passes, as extra money for the NHS vanishes, the “exact same benefits” of the single market disappear, the security of Gibraltar weakens, proves that.

      1. David Price
        April 3, 2017

        According to the VDA the UK is the largest single market for the German car makers, bigger that the US and in 2015 we took 18% of their exports/14% of their production, roughly 810,000 cars. That’s 18% of a primary industrial sector, not 6%, and should matter hugely to those manufacturers.

        If the EU impose tariffs why would I then buy a much more expensive Golf when I could buy a much cheaper Toyota or Hyundai or Honda instead?

        Where else do you think those auto makers will sell so many cars? Not the US given how naughty they have been over emissions. If anything that market share will contract and now Merkel is trying to force them to also accept a reduced market/higher cost of business in the UK.

        So how many workers will German companies be laying off and why would they not be lobbying to avoid that. The same applies to French and Spanish food producers not to mention the EU fisherman who now won’t have access to UK waters. These workers will not now be able to buy new German autos and so the rot will spread.

      2. Enock
        April 3, 2017

        Go back to school Len. Give us the absolute cash values of exports and deficits not percentages. You are talking about different total amounts.

  12. Game set and match
    April 2, 2017

    The positions taken by Labour and other Remoaners including Blair reveal the tactics of the EU negotiations. Their JOINT EU/Remoaner plan is to get the UK voter to pre-reject the very notion of “walking away from the table” ( a necessary UK negotiating position ). Also, to trumpet “another referendum”. One sees already the EU are saying “Oh you can come back” ( cry, weep, tears in eyes )..the very opposite position to the one they took a week ago. The EU hasn’t moved except in delayed synchronicity with Remoaner tactics.
    So the remoaners will tell us what the EU next move is going to be. We should listen to them intently and know just where they are coming from..a foreign position to our back…and in concert with our foe at the front.

  13. Bert Young
    April 2, 2017

    Without sight of the actual document it would seem that there is some watering down in the EU’s response ; my view is based on those aspects where they want future co-operation . On the other hand the bit about “Nothing is agreed until all is agreed” indicates a) prolonged negotiations and b) a strong doubt that anything satisfactory will happen . All in all it is a very slippery bit of diplomatic wrangling .

    The EU must have had wind of different member countries who wish to deal with us separately ; their insisting that this is not going to be allowed suggests they are scared of a unity breaking apart . There are going to be some losers bigger than others and some , therefore , who want a different deal . We should encourage these talks and , if necessary , use them as part of our negotiating edge .

  14. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2017

    “The second is wish to delay work on a future trade relationship and other matters concerning our future co-operation until a second phase. This is reinforced by saying that any free trade agreement has to be “finalised and concluded once the UK is no longer a member state”. If by this they mean the day after we leave we can register a free trade agreement already sorted out then this is fine, but if they mean we sit down and sort one out after departure they will have to adjust to high tariffs against their strong agricultural exports to the UK from Day One.”

    However carefully I read the draft negotiating guidelines:

    it isn’t clear to me what the EU is proposing. Maybe it isn’t clear to them either?

    The first question is whether there would be a period when the UK had left the EU but there were no new UK-EU legal arrangements in force. A legal hiatus of that kind would not have to be very long to create legal and practical chaos, in fact even if it was only a millisecond there could in theory be complications arising from that discontinuity. We can sort out our end through the Act to provide legal continuity within the UK, but that would not solve the problem on the international plane.

    Despite everything I still find it hard to believe that the EU would want that any more than we would, but as they explicitly propose that the new long term arrangements will only be “finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State” that could only mean that there would be a transitional period when the UK was outside the EU and no longer subject to the EU treaties, but would still be bound by a new temporary treaty which continued many of the present arrangements and conditions of EU membership.

    Personally I am not too concerned about that; after more than four decades a few more years before we complete our escape in practice as well as on paper seems nothing to be bothered about, provided we know that it will be only a few more years.

    Which brings me to a second question, namely whether there is any real substance to the oft-repeated claim that the process of withdrawal would be smoother and less risky if we planned to stay in the EEA after leaving the EU, thereby becoming a “third country” in their eyes. And I think the answer is that if the EU insists that we must become a “third country” before it can conclude a free trade deal with us then logically it would also insist that we must become a “third country” before it could approve membership of the EEA.

    Because although the UK is a separate sovereign party to the existing EEA Agreement that is on the premise that it is a member of the EU and bound by the EU treaties, not as a member of EFTA or as the sole representative of some new category of free-standing EEA members which are in neither the EU or EFTA; and while the necessary changes to the agreement might be fairly minor or even technical they would still have to be negotiated and agreed by all of the parties to the agreement including the EU.

    And then presumably if we later wanted to move on from the supposed half-way house of the EEA the same thing would happen; instead of the EU saying as now “First leave the EU and then we can finalise a new arrangement” it would be saying “First leave the EEA and then we can finalise a new arrangement”. Why should it be otherwise?

  15. acorn
    April 2, 2017

    Your not getting this JR, the EU is holding all the cards! They will set the time table, the UK has no control over that.

    The EU would like a trade agreement; but, it doesn’t desperately need it. The UK needs all the agreements it currently has as an EU member state. But, the dozens of countries concerned, are not likely to go for an EU/UK decided, split of current tariff quotas. New Zealand Sheep Meat quotas into the EU for instance.

    Citizenship is not yet an EU competence (but could be in the next couple of years). Member states decide it under UN law.

    The member states that are “net receivers”, have EU budget funds already “committed” to them. I understand they have been told what their share of the Brexit €60 billion is; or, might not be.

    “… they will have to adjust to high tariffs against their strong agricultural exports to the UK from Day One.” UK voters will thus be hit with imported inflation from Day One, won’t they (and the BoE) be pleased. Yours could be the last Conservative government ever elected in the UK.

    “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Put that one in the same pigeon hole as “Brexit means Brexit”.

    1. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      Thank you for establishing that *hard Brexit* is the EU’s choice and not ours.

      The letter is sent. A half-in fudge would be the most disasterous outcome now.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Acorn. I buy NZ lamb when available as it is so much cheaper than Scottish lamb.

    3. libertarian
      April 3, 2017


      You really do have no idea do you?

      The UK most definitely does NOT need the current agreements as part of the customs union in full, only some of them.

      Like most lefties you really aren’t very good at basics. Its not supranational bodies that trade its buyers and sellers. You think that customers residing in the EU will not want to buy the films, music, phones, technology, drugs, medical devices etc etc etc that we produce….hmm ok.

      There is no 60 billion to have a share of. If they demand that , without also paying our our share of the assets, we just walk away.

      You’ve been in the EU bubble too long, membership of the EU CAP has kept our food prices high, you do know we can source food from places other than EU ?

  16. Roy Grainger
    April 2, 2017

    It is interesting they are highlighting that the rights of EU citizens already living in UK need to be protected when it is the EU itself which has refused to conclude an early reciprocal deal on this. My guess is they are linking this into the overall negotiation “nothing is agreed till everything is agreed” because some states like Romania want the cut-off date for this part of the agreement to be as late as possible so people arriving in the next two years still get included.

  17. fedupsoutherner
    April 2, 2017

    Your last sentence says everything for me John. What is the point in flogging a dead horse? We should not be paying out more than is necessary legally for longer than is necessary. People want clarification over their lives and jobs and that goes for those living and working in the EU too. I just hope the negotiators can see this too. This debacle has already been going on for 9 months and quite honestly I think most of us are already tiring of the Remainiacs going on and nearly every documentary/news programme being dominated by Brexit.

    1. Ed Mahony
      April 2, 2017

      The problem is, we never tried to reform the EU from inside it. I think that if Mrs Thatcher had been in power, she would have foreseen all the problems of leaving the EU, whilst at same time, seeing the strong need for the EU to be reformed (as opposed to just getting concessions from). There are Leavers. There are Remainers. And then there are Reformers (remain in the EU but taking a leading role in trying to reform it). The toughest position to take. I’m 95% she would have been a Reformer. Same for Churchill.

      1. APL
        April 3, 2017

        Ed Mahony: “The problem is, we never tried to reform the EU from inside it.”

        The problem was, much of what we objected to was enshrined in the founding treaties and thus not available to be reformed.

        And in any case, the UK in the EU was an attempt to reconcile two alien concepts of how things should be done.

        Somebody had to give up too much and the other party was always complaining that they were dragging their feet.

        It was a marriage doomed from the start

        1. Ed Mahony
          April 4, 2017


          – What was enshrined in founding treaties was what people voted for in the original referendum (just as i strongly accept result of this referendum even though i voted remain – by a whisker).

          ‘And in any case, the UK in the EU was an attempt to reconcile two alien concepts of how things should be done’ – despite what feminists say, men and women are very different (and similar). And yes all human relationships whether marriage between man + woman or between the UK + EU is challenging. But when you bring the best points together, and discard the worst through reform, then you have something that works to the advantage of all.

          1. APL
            April 5, 2017

            Ed Mahony: “What was enshrined in founding treaties was what people voted for in the original referendum ..”

            Firstly, remember people voted to stay in the European Economic Community. The decision to join had already been made.

            The government frequently chooses to invite people vote on for the status quo, folk being mostly conservative (small c) in nature tend to support the status quo.

            Secondly, there were revisions to the treaties that only went in the approved direction. Not much regard was given to the UK, with a few exceptions when it was recognised that, for example there was no groundswell of support to adopt the Euro.



      2. Narrow Shoulders
        April 4, 2017

        Mrs Thatcher embraced Maastricht and expansionism, thinking that the free market would conquer all. I am afraid she misjudged the situation greatly.

        As for not trying to reform the EU from within, were you at the table? Our attempts to renegotiate the CAP by giving away part of our rebate went well didn’t they? What about our renegotiation before the referendum, they gave us nothing.

        It is incapable of reform due to its entrenched “freedoms” and direction of travel. It needs to fold and start again.

  18. Peter Wood
    April 2, 2017

    Good Morning,

    Here we face the fundamental issue; the EU is not a nation state. Their negotiators are dealing in the 3rd person and are not subject to the personal and national motivators that we are. Their objective is to discuss forever without achievement. Do we work on their timetable or can we force our own?

  19. Antisthenes
    April 2, 2017

    It appears the EU is deciding negotiating policy by committee. A committee of 27 member states, Brussels and the EU parliament and they are trying to appease both the doves, the hawks and every opinion in between on it. The timetable, schedule of process and intent is an incoherent mishmash of real and unreal aspirations. Like all negotiation by committee if anything is achieved it will only be after endless tea and biscuits meetings discussing the cost of paper clips. The final agreement that every item on the list must have unanimous approval or none will have is beyond stupid and therefore only a receipt for discord and eventual failure.

    Tusk and Brussels probably believe they are being very clever and setting the scene that will force the UK into accepting most of their demands. What we pay and and what our relationship with the EU is post Brexit are intrinsic so must be discussed simultaneously. Each will have a bearing on the other if it is accepted that the UK has no legal obligation to pay anything if we leave without a deal on anything. So the UK says immediately under the circumstances we cannot talk about anything and if the EU does not change the negotiating conditions we will have to walk away. Alternatively we ask to join EEA/EFTA which may placate their greed, animosity and their desire for them to continue to have some hold over us.

  20. Javelin
    April 2, 2017

    Two points.

    First in a divorce you decide what is going to happen to the children before you decide on the finances. Quite who the children are I don’t know but the process is instructive.

    Second, I don’t think anything much will change. I think we still need to keep the science , medicine cooperation and standards.

    Third. What will change is the EU budget and the ability for unemployed Europeans to work in the U.K. There will be financial pressure on the EU budget to shrink in size just as the Treaty of Rome is calling for the EU to grow in size.

    Fourth, just as there is more pressure on the South and East of Europe then Germany will start a massive expansion of its defence spending. With Greece and Italy collapsing and Germany dictating to them about finances and mass immigration how will it look with hundreds of new German tanks and fighter planes rolling by off the production lines all increasing employment of engineers in Germany.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Javelin. Frightening.

  21. Simon
    April 2, 2017

    Not quite so simple eh John ?

    1. alan jutson
      April 2, 2017


      Its only a draft document !

      1. Simon
        April 3, 2017

        I doubt the final version will be very different. That doc already represents extensive talks between the MS. Particularly as it has been published.

    2. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      It would be much simpler if JR’s party leaders had taken his advice over the years … but then it could have been very much worse as at least we didn’t join in with the insanity of the euro, despite at least one of those Tory leaders hoping that we would.

  22. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2017

    Just watch this disgusting BBC person “interviewing” the Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo, from 14:50 onwards:

    Who ends up indirectly revealing his real belief that we should just hand over Gibraltar to the Spanish, a belief he no doubt shares with many of the other hypocritical Remoaners who are now welcoming the appearance of this additional obstacle to Brexit.

    1. acorn
      April 2, 2017

      Denis, Gibraltar is the EU’s number one “tax haven”. UK internet Betting Companies registered there, are just a small visible part of the action.

      Gibraltar has the unique status within the European Union, of offering non-resident companies the opportunity to be fully tax exempt.

      A Gibraltar company is a tax free entity, if its director and shareholders do not reside in Gibraltar and the profits are not remitted to Gibraltar banks. Gibraltar did not join EU Custom Union and is outside of the EU VAT zone.

      According to Article 28 of the 1971 UK Assession Treaty, Gibraltar is excluded from the EU VAT requirements and EU Customs requirements.

      This is all about the EU’s rich people, sending a message to the Spiv City of London’s rich people; which side of the Brexit financial fence, the grass is going to be greener.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Denis.. All traitors and spineless.

  23. Lifelogic
    April 2, 2017

    Tebbit is right again as usual today, can we have him cloned please to replace May. As he says:-

    As I read of the efforts of our would-be masters in Brussels to use Gibraltar, like the fate of British people living and working in the 27 EU states, as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations, I become all the more sure that the people of this kingdom took the right decision in the referendum. There is something disgusting in the determination of the masters of the EU to contemplate any action to prevent our people from using the law of the EU itself to regain our historic right to govern ourselves.

    1. Ed Mahony
      April 2, 2017

      ‘Tebbit is right again as usual today’

      – Every time Lord Tebbit opens his mouth, he makes a Labour / Liberal victory at the next general election more likely.

      It’s very simple, the more the Conservative party indulgently pushes to the right, the more likely Labour / Liberals will get into power. This is exactly what happened in 1997 (although the hard right in the Conservative Party are in denial of this).

      I’m sorry if people don’t like this, but it has to be said if we don’t want Labour / Liberals getting back into power again.

      1. Ed Mahony
        April 2, 2017

        Trump represents the hard right of Republicanism in the US. But already, he’s already blown the hard right’s reputation in the US for a generation, perhaps for years to come. That’s what happens when a party drifts too much to the right.

        If the Republicans had voted in a sensible centre right Republican such as George Bush Sr, America would be in a much stronger position than it is under disastrous Trump.

        1. Ed Mahony
          April 2, 2017

          ‘George Bush Sr’ – someone like him, obviously Bush Sr is too old.

      2. APL
        April 3, 2017

        Ed Mahony: “Every time Lord Tebbit opens his mouth, he makes a Labour / Liberal victory at the next general election more likely.”

        Odd how he was a member of one of the more successful Tory administrations.

        Now the Labour party have two problems, their incessant internal bickering, but more importantly, the loss of fifty six seats in Scotland to the SNP.

        That may be a success for the SNP but it has the potential to keep Labour out of power for a long time.

        1. Ed Mahony
          April 4, 2017

          Yes, on reflection, I exaggerated my point. And, yes, Lord Tebbit was an effective politician. My main point, however, was that his hard right wing views was not good publicity for the Conservative Party at general elections.

          1. rose
            April 5, 2017

            Didn’t he win a majority of 100 or more when he was the very vocal chairman of the party?

    2. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Lifelogic. Exactly what I have said. I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of the Eu’s immoral actions??

    3. Len Grinds
      April 3, 2017

      So you like it when the UK takes back its historic right to govern itself, but it’s not quite so much fun when Spain does the same, eh?
      If only we were part of a bloc based on agreement and co-operation rather than nasty tit for tat slanging matches….

  24. james neill
    April 2, 2017

    As you say, they have softened their tone somewhat but we shouldn’t rely on this too much as it is just warming up language- now that we are about to embark on probably the most serious negotiations that is going to effect our long term future relations with Europe since the treaty of Versailles talks which followed WW1 – almost one hundred years ago, and we know who was in the hot seat at that time- the Germans- so then when the enormous punitive measures, reparations, were dished out it eventually lead to Hitler and WW2.- so some historians say.

    Well this time it is UK who is in the hot seat and it doesn’t really matter how much we dress it up things are looking bleak- so we can discuss, debate, negotiate spin through the press all we like to try to find a way forward but it is entirely in the hands now of the EU as to the outcome- we just have to turn up- because if we don’t- it will be as you say ‘let’s just leave’

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      How about serving your country with constructive criticism rather than defeatism?

    2. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      James. What’s wrong with “just leave”?

      Isn’t that what we voted for?????

  25. Michael
    April 2, 2017

    The key question is does the EU intend to impose tarrifs when we leave? It is pointless talking about all and sundry unless and until that basic question is answered.

  26. jason wells
    April 2, 2017

    Along with what you say I heard of a new unforeseen development between Spain and Gibraltar.. I hear that over the years the UK has pushed this border out into Spanish territory little be little in order to accommodate the aircraft runway and that this can be seen very clearly when compared to the original military maps and treaty outlines held by both Spain and the UK from the treaty of I don’t know how this is going to be squared with the talks outcome for Gibraltar- very probably if we agree to leave Gibraltar behind in the EU as they wish there should be no problem– but then we could also say the same for Scotland and northern Ireland– but it might be worth exploring just to save the UK itself?

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      “… if we agree to leave Gibraltar behind in the EU as they wish … ”

      If the government of Gibraltar is accurately reflecting the views of the Gibaltarians then they don’t wish that, they still wish to remain British and despite having voted to stay in the EU they will come out with us. Unlike the unpatriotic Remoaners here, they accept that the decision has been taken and they will do their best to make it work.

    2. cornishstu
      April 2, 2017

      I think you will find the runway is where it has always been roughly parallel to the border line, if it has been extended at all it is out to sea, certainly not into Spain.

    3. Edward2
      April 3, 2017

      The runway goes outwards into what was shoreline and the sea.
      It’s still Gibraltar’s land.

    4. Ed Mahony
      April 3, 2017

      Gibraltar must remain British. Saying that, we must have some empathy for Spain. Spain is a great country, and to have a foreign power own part of your country is humiliating. We would be humiliated if Germany or France owned Dover. There is something really small-minded / provincial / Little Englander about Lord Howard’s saber-rattling comments that will have done this country no favours except to win some cheap applause from aggressive, hardline nationalists in the UK.

  27. Denis Cooper
    April 2, 2017

    Here’s a chap who may not have read the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines:

    “An early deal on British and EU citizens is good for Britain and the negotiations”

    “It is in everyone’s interest – morally and practically – to agree a standalone early deal on British citizens and EU citizens at that first meeting.”

    “Legal experts agree an early deal on our status is possible within the framework of Article 50. Negotiators need to simply agree a separate, standalone deal (guaranteeing our status) that operates independently of the main Article 50 agreement so in the unlikely event that negotiations don’t complete, citizens’ rights will be protected.”

    Sorry, chum; no doubt it would be possible, and no doubt Theresa May would like to do it, but the EU position is perfectly clear, and inflexible, and in this respect callous:

    “2. Negotiations under Article 50 TEU will be conducted as a single package. In accordance with the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, individual items cannot be settled separately.”

    1. Mark
      April 3, 2017

      That doesn’t quite exclude negotiations and agreements outside Article 50, although those would have their own problems. I don’t think the EU Council really knows yet how it will proceed. What is clear is that they will move the goalposts as we go, sometimes to help and sometimes to hinder.

      1. Denis Cooper
        April 4, 2017

        But they laid down months ago that it would have to be part of the Article 50 negotiations and therefore discussions could not even commence until the UK has served its notice.

  28. Robert Johnson
    April 2, 2017

    You omitted the demand that – ” It must ensure a level playing field in terms of competition and state aid, and must encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, fiscal, social and environmental dumping”.
    This would mean that they still control the policies of our Government, in areas that would ensure we can make the most of the advantages of Brexit.

  29. ian wragg
    April 2, 2017

    Already we are being softened up for continuing payments for access to the single market. Anything between £3 and 8 billion annually.
    Of course Canada and South Korea don’t pay a penny for their FTA so why should we, especially as they have a stonking deficit in their favour.
    There is also talk about ECJ oversight and non competitive tax advantages.
    We must make it abundantly clear that we will trade with them tariff free and meet any specification as per the rest of the world but we don’t accept ECJ rulings and as a sovereign nation we will decide on appropriate laws.
    We really must be prepared to walk away but this is not possible until 29th March 2019 as Parliament remainiacs will strike it down.
    We have to continue to waste taxpayers money to satisfy the SNP, Limp Dumbs and (others ed).

  30. alastair harris
    April 2, 2017

    We should insist there will be no discussion on “liabilities” until the 27 commence a rational discussion and commitment to reduction in their budget. And we should also insist that Nato members in the bloc demonstrate a commitment to meeting their 2% obligations in a reasonable timeframe.

  31. English Pensioner
    April 2, 2017

    You are right about ‘warm words and friendly intent’, but they also need to be ‘firm words and clear intent’. Too often our negotiators fail to be firm and are far from being clear.
    We need our negotiators to be people, probably from the business world, who are used to driving hard bargains, not diplomats whose stock in trade is to be smooth and avoid disagreement.

  32. Mark
    April 2, 2017

    The first phase is the negotiations about the negotiations. From the Council’s statement of 29 June 2016, referred to in the Tusk letter:

    Any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. Access to the Single Market requires acceptance of all four freedoms.

    Perhaps it’s just bad English, but the strict interpretation of those words is that they won’t finalise any agreement – Article 50 or otherwise – until after we have left the EU, and they also seek to link mere access to the single market to the four freedoms. (Incidentally, if Article 50 isn’t finanlised until after we have left it also implies it can continue to be negotiated after we have left)

    On both these issues we need to move forward. There is no reason why an agreement on migrants couldn’t be finalised outwith the Article 50 process on a fast track to take effect upon withdrawal, given goodwill on both sides to achieve it. Indeed, the same applies to other areas where agreement is not controversial. The risk is that EU institutions would seek to use their involvement in such agreements to try to meddle in the main agreement, and delay rather than speed the process.

    Perhaps the best defence becomes rolling up such agreements into the Article 50 one as protocols, thus bypassing meddlesome EU institutions. The problem of course is that the EU is insisting on just one Article 50 agreement, with nothing agreed until everything is agreed, while also already talking about two phases of Article 50 discussions. Perhaps they are close to allowing more than one Article 50 agreement.

    Tusk is in cloud cuckoo land if he believes that there won’t be side negotiations, though of course for anything to make the final agreements it will have to be tabled via the formal process from one side or the other.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, and that includes the continuing rights of EU migrants. And Gibraltar. And security.

  33. Qubus
    April 2, 2017

    THis may be slightly off_topic, but I should just like to raise the topic of Gibraltar. MY comment is: what about the two Spanish enclaves on the north coast of AFrica, Ceuta and Melilla?
    THis seems to me to be a hot topic; I am sure that we should all like to hear some reassurance from you JR?

    1. Robert Christopher
      April 2, 2017

      What about them?
      If the Spanish let them go, would you want us to hand over the Rock: I would, if I was Spanish.

    2. Mark
      April 2, 2017

      It would make good sense to cede them to Morocco, so that any migrants landing there would not have managed to enter EU territory.

  34. Chris Booth
    April 2, 2017

    The government working assumption must be that there is no agreement, and plan for this eventuality. We should not read anything into any conciliatory noises or discussions.

  35. rose
    April 2, 2017

    Another unwelcome aspect is their stance on Spain: they will take the part of Spain when they have been neutral in the past, because, they say, Spain is a member of the EU. At the same time they are insisting we keep paying up, keeping the rules, and mustn’t talk to anyone else, mustn’t attend any meetings they don’t want us at, and on top of all of that, agree to keep their fiscal rules and regulations in the future as well as paying tribute. Who is having their cake and eating it?

    If they continue to take this stance on Gibraltar, on the ground that Spain is a member sttate and we are not, we should cease to pay the tribute.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Rose. How disgusting that we are still paying for nothing. Why, if we are still payed up members are we not allowed to be in on meetings or discuss Brexit with other countries? What a farce. Since when did the UK bow down to such crap?

    2. Know-dice
      April 3, 2017

      This is the EU being two faced…

      Sanction Russia for their annexation of Crimea, even though the people of Crimea wanted this.

      Then support Spain trying to annex Gibraltar even though the Gibraltarians want to live under the British flag.

      I wonder what the UN would say about this?

  36. Robin Wilcox
    April 2, 2017

    I agree John. If it becomes apparent that the EU will drag this out for years let’s leave without an agreement and pay only what we think we are legally obliged to. Nothing more. If this is where we end up it’s vindication of what we have known for years that the EU is a huge beauraucracy and almost impossible to do business with and that’s a very good reason for leaving.

  37. Lawrence Hartley
    April 2, 2017

    Totally agree with everything you say but you’ve missed out two important ( and very negative ) parts of their draft negotiating plan.

    1) Gibraltar…….that’s a straight NO, we give nothing away to achieve this as it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    2) EU controlling our Tax Rates and terms of our other Trade agreements after we’ve left.

    As far as I’m concerned both of the above are red lines. ! If they still exist by July then we make a massive push to prepare for WTO rates exit AND let them know that we’re doing it. !

    1. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Lawarence. If we don’t say no and even think about entering into discussions about Gibraltar then I think Mrs May is not electable again. This is when UKIP could come into it’s own and I for one, would support them again. The Conservatives must get their priorities right and not be dictated to by countries that don’t know the meaning of legal. I lived in Spain not long ago and I can tell you that EU laws don’t mean anything over there.

  38. Dee Burke
    April 2, 2017

    You forgot to mention Spains veto on any UK\EU deal. Also that any trade carried out by the UK after Brexit must stick to EU regulations regarding competition, State Aid, & Taxes. In other words NO dropping Corporate Tax, ‘Your out but still in the EU. Also any ‘Transitional’ period after Brexit (up to 3yrs) means we have to pay Contributions £20B pa, keep Freedom of Movement, abide by EU Regulation and remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ until such time as the ‘Transitional’ period ends. Could be 2022 before we are rid of the EU. It is a totaly unacceptable prerequisit by Tusk and Theresa May should just walk away and leave them to rot in their own stew.

  39. Anonymous
    April 2, 2017

    We simply cannot have our Brexit negotiators’ arms pinned behind their backs by recalcitrant Remainers.

    – the referendum was agreed by Parliament and Royal assent
    – a Leave result was delivered
    – the result was scrutinised by the courts
    – the result was ratified by a Parliamentary vote

    In every sense of the word our *country* has decided to Leave the EU. Therefore it must be no half-hearted and disabling fudge. Brexit must be confident and unfaltering.

    Remainers signalling that they will do the EU’s work and bidding from within are our greatest problem, not the EU itself with whom we should be as cordial and polite as possible.

    In truth I wish we had not had a referendum. Not because I didn’t want one. I think people were right to vote Leave.

    I did not imagine (however hard I tried) just how obstructive Remainers were going to be – to the point that negotiating a equitable deal is going to be near impossible, nor did I imagine just how much they’d imbue the EU negotiators with confidence.

    1. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      I should add that I’d vote the same way in a second referendum. Now the letter is sent we must stick with the course how ever rough it gets. Remainer have made me more determined to do so -the heat they have generated in my blood will keep me warm even if the power generators don’t.

      1. Ed Mahony
        April 2, 2017

        ‘Remainer have made me more determined to do so -the heat they have generated in my blood will keep me warm even if the power generators don’t’

        – don’t forget a large % of the young voted to remain. They’re extremely vulnerable financially at moment with all kinds of costs, including many unable to afford home / mortgage even though they might already have young children. The older generation can afford for our economy to suffer. But without a deal, the economy could really suffer, and the young of our generation are going to suffer even more. We have to get a deal with the EU.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Anonymous. Yes, aren’t the Remainers annoying?>?!! They just don’t know when to give up.

  40. Tim House
    April 2, 2017

    They also want to dictate our tax and regulations after we leave!!

  41. Oggy
    April 2, 2017

    Because the EU says that Spain must have a say on Gibraltar’s future negates ANY kind of deal until it is off the table and this must be made quite clear to them. So much for the EU respecting EU citizens rights – just plain simple hypocrisy.

    1. Mark
      April 2, 2017

      I think allowing Spain to have such a veto right requires a modification to the Treaties of the sort that allows Wallonia to have a separate veto alongside Flanders in Belgium, because it actually overrules the QMV procedure. Perhaps we should ask which other countries might like to have their own veto rights over QMV decisions, and tell the EU that while we remain a member, we will not sanction any such modification to the Treaties (something that still requires unanimity).

      We could also flip the intent of the clause: any agreement between the UK and Spain should be binding on the whole EU.

      1. David Price
        April 3, 2017

        That’s an interesting wrinkle.

  42. turboterrier
    April 2, 2017

    The last sentance is the best of all .

    Just leave.

    They are going to try and wear everyone down and give the remoaners a field day.

    1. Gareth Jones
      April 3, 2017

      What you mean is, the Remainers would have been proved right after all.

  43. Terry
    April 2, 2017

    It occurs to me and probebly many others, that the EU basic priciple in any negotiation is “Delay, delay, delay. Procrastinate then delay and play for more time so that the opposition eventually submits”.

    This seems to be the logical conclusion given their past history of trade deals with the resto of the world.
    I suppose they even take a whole lunchtime to decide what they are going to eat. And drink.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      April 2, 2017

      Terry. I suppose they even take a whole lunchtime to decide what they are going to eat. And drink”

      Yes, and all paid by us!! Bet they drink stuff more expensive than most of us because they are not paying. Nice if you can get it.

    2. Mark
      April 2, 2017

      We need to remind them frequently that they are obligated by Article 50(2) to negotiate and conclude the exit agreement, not filibuster and frustrate it. If progress is slow in one area, that does not preclude advancing in another.

    3. Chris
      April 3, 2017

      The basic principle is compromise, so talks until the eleventh hour, great drama, and behold a deal. That is why they cannot understand the UK situation where we have a clear cut mandate to LEAVE. However, that will not stop them from employing the usual tactics, and who knows, they may even succeed in making us vote again. Heaven forbid!

  44. Newmania
    April 2, 2017

    The bottom line is they can hurt us much more than we can hurt them and if we are ok with WTO they are very ok with it . I would delay until WTO kicks in and see if the UK cracked. It may well do attitudes to the whole thin g have hardened and there will be little support for failure.
    There is nothing unpatritoc about this .There be some matter where the British must pull together and make sacrifices .The young the may be required to fight, the old to get out of the way as usual.
    This is not such an occasion and one half of the country simply cannot expect the other half to pay for their ridiculous mistake . The EU have all the cards , the best way to handle this was not to be here

    1. mickc
      April 2, 2017

      But we ARE here. In fact, the best way was not to join in the first place.

    2. eeyore
      April 2, 2017

      Nil desperandum, old chap. Remember Adam Smith’s dictum that there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation.

      Generally speaking, the long march of British history shows we do better when facing west to the open sea and the wider world, and worse when we look east and get tangled up in the eternal problems of wonderful, exasperating Europe.

      Even if the worst happened and you were proved correct in every particular, the current order would see you and me and the rest of us out. Beyond that, who can say anyway?

    3. zorro
      April 2, 2017

      They do not have all the cards ♣️ unless you want them too. If what t you say is true, I agree, let’s go for WTO and see who cracks first. You may be surprised!


    4. Ed Mahony
      April 2, 2017

      WTO could bankrupt this country. We don’t want to go there. There are lots of young people struggling as it is with young children, trying to get on property ladder / pay mortgage, and all the other costs of being young at moment. For their sake, we have to get a deal with the EU. Also, it could cost the Tories votes, and possibility that Labour / Liberals could get back into power, and they might even try and get us back into the EU but with worst conditions than now.

      1. zorro
        April 3, 2017

        ”WTO could bankrupt this country.” – Evidence please in any way, shape or form…..


    5. Denis Cooper
      April 2, 2017

      “There is nothing unpatriotic about this”

      You’ll be lucky if people stop at “unpatriotic”.

      Why not just come out and say that you are on their side not ours?

    6. graham1946
      April 2, 2017

      Sounds like the man who was asked by a traveler for directions and said ‘I would not stat from here’. Totally pointless reply as usual Newmania. Grasping at straws and hoping the UK gets a kicking. How sad you hate your countrymen so much.

    7. Know-dice
      April 3, 2017

      Drill down in to the percentages and I think you will find that there are more German auto workers jobs at stake than UK jobs…

      That could be enough to swing the balance in the UK’s favour.

      Will Frau Merkel stick to political dogma or will the likes of BMW, Mercedes and VW make her see sense?

    8. libertarian
      April 3, 2017


      I agree !! The EU should not negotiate, they should just make us trade under WTO rules . That’ll teach us.

  45. Jack snell
    April 2, 2017

    I don’t believe the EU want’s to hurt or punish anyone but they are a huge project and out to protect their own interests from the upset of UK trying to disentangle itself and so therefore we shouldn’t be surprised at all if we have to take a backseat and most of the talk about walking away is all pie in the sky, a waste of time, and will do nothing to help move matters forward as we all wish.

    When all is said and done france and the netherlands will still be only 20 miles from our coastline..they know well the unhappiness and the negativity that has existed in England for decades now amongst some sections of the little englander class mentality led by the Ukip scoundrals and tory right wing boot boys that has led us to this sorry mess..for instance how could they not know as they have also been reading british tabloid press over the past twenty years or so and have had to put up with the snides and insults..they have not forgotton.. and i am afraid that is where the EU quote comes from- ‘the uk cannot be allowed to ge better off outside the eu than in it’- and if anyone still believes, as i heard on tv recently that all the europeans love the english well that is simply not true… so anyway we are where we are and we’ll just have to get on with it…the EU is not going anywhere and will still always be on our doorstep but where we will be i have no idea?

  46. Anonymous
    April 2, 2017

    But we are here and you are partly responsible for it. Your long standing and visceral contempt for White Van Man – amply demonstrated on these pages. They knew it. They felt it. They reacted to it. Suck it up.

    Now – however awful it may be – get behind your country or get out and stop leaking to the EU our weakness, which is YOU.

    1. Anonymous
      April 2, 2017

      In response to Newmania @ 2.23

  47. Iain Gill
    April 2, 2017

    You know as I have said before there are many blindingly obvious policies which if adopted by a mainstream party would be massive vote winners.
    It’s not hard to work it out. The persecution of drivers has gone too far, and the policies of the association of British drivers are spot on and could easily be lifted by a party with some common sense. The abuse of men on divorce has also gone too far and the policies of Fathers4Justice have my complete support. You see in things like this over lunch up and down the land the vast majority of the population agree. It’s just the politically correct who infest our political parties that don’t get it.
    So together with a promise to actually deliver what the Conservatives say about immigration but fail to deliver would be a massive winner.
    As would a recognition that the moral compass of our board rooms, the ethical standards of our supposed leaders, leave a lot to be desired. Especially in the line of the way they have moved lots of British jobs to India, in the name of outsourcing. This is costing our country dear in many ways, and we would do well to insist this stuff is reversed.
    It would be easy for UKIP to win big in the labour heartlands if it did stuff like this.

  48. Ed Mahony
    April 2, 2017

    Cools heads are needed right now. If people keep cool, good chance Brexit will do well. If not, Brexit could implode.

  49. Ed Mahony
    April 2, 2017

    The fact is most people voted Leave because of immigration (and many nearly voted Leave because of immigration). Unless the government is radical in bringing down immigration, whilst maintaining a strong economy (as well as helping to maintain peace and security in Europe as a whole including of course the UK), then there will be trouble. Trouble which Labour and Liberals could easily exploit at some time in the future, when Corbyn has been ousted, taking the UK back into the EU, after another referendum, but at worse conditions than we have now.

    1. Chris
      April 3, 2017

      Agreed. There are far too many Remainers, and Leavers, who will not acknowledge this fact re immigration. May would be very unwise indeed to ignore it.

  50. Graham Wood
    April 2, 2017

    What about the “just walk away” option if the EU continues to make threats to the UK or to impose post Brexit ‘conditions’?
    There are already many threats expressed by EU leaders:
    Here is just a minute sample of the many threats made to the UK about Brexit:

    French President Francois Hollande “There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price, otherwise we will be in negotiations that will not end well and, inevitably, will have economic and human consequences,” the French president said.

    Robert Fico, Slovakia’s prime minister, on Monday said that member states intend to make it “very difficult for the UK” and said Britain is “bluffing” when it says it can get a good Brexit deal.

    The British people will be treated as “deserters” following a vote to leave the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker has warned.

    Spain will ‘take control of Gibraltar as soon as Britain leaves EU’ says Spanish Foreign Minister

    Wolfgang Schäuble , the German finance minister also said the UK would be forced to pay EU budget bills for more than ten years, echoing proposals for the UK to pay an exit bill of up to £43billion.

    Guy Verhofstadt has now said he expects Britain to cough up over £500bn to the European Union as it extricates itself from Brussels.

    Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt claimed Britain will have to foot a €600billion bill before leaving the EU.

    If these continue to be introduced by the EU then it will clearly be in contravention of the Vienna Convention on treaties which lays down that all parties must negotiate in good faith, and the UK would then have every legal right to walk away.

    There is nothing at all in Article 50 about post Brexit payments to the EU, or of a £60 Billion leaving bill, or the legitimacy of negotiations on British overseas territories (Gibraltar), or of a post Brexit lowering of British Corporation tax..

  51. James Matthews
    April 2, 2017

    The young have not been required to fight since about 1957 (though some have volunteered). They might be required to again, but there is no sign of it in the foreseeable future. Until that happens it is septuagenarians and upwards who have the moral high ground.

    Fifty-two is still a higher number than forty -eight so yes, the 48% can be expected to go along with the decision to leave the EU, even if you believe that it will harm your pocket not to accept the (manifestly unpatriotic) plan gradually to subsume the UK into a wider European state.

  52. Serguei Semine, PhD
    April 2, 2017

    Serguei Semine, PhD.
    Breakdown of European Union
    The idea of the European Union (Europe – 92) project (similar to “North-American Union”) is dependent on continuation of the existing Global Economic Order. It was assumed that the favourable economic conditions for these countries not only will continue but will also improve. The economic union would strengthen Europe’s position in the global market allowing for successful competition against the US economy expansion.
    The breakdown of EU was predetermined. The US was smarter and more clear-sighted, they did not go ahead with the “North American Union”, which should have also included Canada and Mexico. Even though the necessary plans were developed, including introduction of common currency – “Amero”. Global economic crisis was starting up. The first to drop out of global economic system were the economically weaker USSR and its socialist satellite states. The end of the socialist block had extended the perceived success (prosperity) of the US and European economies through access to the markets for ex-USSR and its allies in Asia and Africa. This gave EU members an illusion of even bright economic future fuelled by cheap labour and material resources from the collapsing socialist countries. This illusion has led to expansion of EU to critical size.
    The crisis of 2008 has brought about sobering reality. New members had joined the EU while economic activity had declined. The only solution is to rearrange the global resources and control them. This is why England, cleaver homeland of thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, was the first to get out of the European Union (Brexit). The EU is starting to look a lot like Ponzi scheme, the first to join and to get out are the lucky ones at the expense of the others. The main proponent of the Union is Germany since it needs access to a lot of resources to reorganize and modernize the economy of the less developed eastern part. The European Union today is a German domain, its main market where German industry has practically eliminated competition from other EU members by passing favourable legislation in EU parliament and administration.
    Today’s economic interests of different industrial nations will become more differentiated and polarized. This process has already begun and can be seen for example in Western Europe. Brexit confirms it. At the same time, the role of state control and public sector in the economy will increase. These will cover administration of economic controls, typical for crisis periods, stabilization of the economy (employment, etc), economic security (preserving access to resources for the economy is most important), and economic development.

  53. Original Richard
    April 2, 2017

    “The Union will be constructive throughout and will strive to find an Agreement”.

    This statement does not sit with the statements made by the EU bureaucrats and various EU national leaders.

    Firstly because they have said that being outside the EU has to be made worse than remaining inside the EU and secondly because the longer we remain in the EU the more of our money they can seize from us.

    I hope Mr. David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, will be working on how to revert to WTO rules when the 2 years negotiating time has ended.

  54. Oggy
    April 3, 2017

    @Newmania – ‘the best way to handle this was not to be here’
    If you don’t want to be here go live in Brussels, you would make our day.

    What you keep saying IS unpatriotic and it’s time you started to support your country and realise what a vile institution the EU is.

  55. Ed Mahony
    April 3, 2017

    One of the most important reasons behind the EU was peace and security in Europe (geopolitics).
    Lord Howard, although a retired Conservative, is an old-school sabre-rattler. My grandfather was in the British army for 30 years. He was stationed in Gibraltar and then in Spain during Civil War as British intelligence officee. Shot at by Communists, literally. And then again by Germans on beaches of Normandy.
    He and millions like him, did not do all that, so that people such as Lord Howard could make cheap, sabre-rattling points about Gibraltar. Especially, when we’re particularly vulnerable at moment, and Argentina might see Brexit as their best opportunity to have another go for the Falkland Islands.
    Shameful and unwise words by Lord Howard.

    1. Ed Mahony
      April 3, 2017

      Also, not going to help us in any future relations with the EU / Europe. And like it or not, we can’t, geographically, drag our country into another part of the world (and as if it’s all land of milk and honey elsewhere). We are where we are – to the North West of the mainland continent of Europe – 20.7 miles to Cap Gris Nez, near Calais in France.

      And Lord Howard has done nothing to win over people like me (who only voted Remain by a whisker, I nearly voted Leave – I calculate about 5 million people like me nearly voted Leave).

  56. Denis Cooper
    April 3, 2017

    I’m glad that somebody has now thought to ask Jack Straw for his opinion on the furore over Gibraltar, because it should remind us what he and Blair tried to do in 2002.

    Here’s an interesting account lifted from a book published a decade later:

    “UK came close to sharing Gibraltar with Spain”

    “The British Government came within a day of doing a controversial deal to share the sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain and end 300 years of conflict over “The Rock”.

    Tony Blair and the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw were both keen to do a deal over Gibraltar to “help our strategic relationship” with Spain, according to a new book.

    But the then Europe minister Peter Hain reveals in his memoirs that secret talks with the Spanish government broke down at the last minute when the Spanish got “cold feet” over the agreement.”

    “”Jack’s desire to do something about Gibraltar coincided with my gut instinct that it was ridiculous in the modern age for Britain to have a colony on the tip of Spain nearly 2,000 miles away,” he writes.

    He adds that Mr Blair told him: “It is really important to secure a better relationship with Spain and to remove it [Gibraltar] as an obstruction to our relations within Europe.” He writes that Mr Blair was contemptuous of Gibraltarian attitudes and insistent upon making a deal that could move the whole situation forward.”

    Well, of course, and no doubt many of those who are now exclaiming “See how your stupid Brexit has now opened a can of worms over Gibraltar” share that view, they just see this as another stick with which to beat Brexit. In fact I wonder whether the EU only allowed it to be mentioned in its draft negotiating guidelines in the hope of sowing more division in the UK and thus weakening the UK government’s hand in negotiations.

  57. Freeborn John
    April 3, 2017

    I would like to see UK activity at the WTO, even as a contingency plan, such that we are fully prepared for trading under most favoured nation rules in the event that a comprehensive free trade agreeemnt is not in place by the end of March 2019. If this is not done the EU’s leverage will increase as we approach that date. Only by being prepared for that eventuality and setting expectations with industry and voters can the UK actually put itself in a position to achieve a free trade agreement.

    Also I note that both in the UK and Continental press there are (differing) analogies as to why Brexit should be compared to club dues and not a divorce. In the Uk the argument is that we should stop paying fees after leaving the club. On the Continent they say that someone who leaves a gym may stop paying the fees but is not entitled to take gym equipment home with them afterwards even though their fees paid for that equipment. I fear the UK will be shooting itself in the foot if we use the gym fees argument for why we should stop paying a UK budget contribution after Brexit but are entitled to a share of EU assets. We need a different narrative if we want to minimise the Brexit exit fee by counter-balancing EU assets against liabilities, for example that of a share-holder whose capital injections built-up the EU and who is entitled to the proceeds of the going concern when he sells out.

  58. Martin Conboy
    April 3, 2017

    I couldnt agree more with the article above, and the vast majority of helpful comments below.
    The issue that most concerns me is the EU’s requirement that we may not negotiate with any third-party country until our exit is complete. Rgarding your paragraph commencing “The second is wish to delay work on a future trade relationship…”. I am not so bothered about our relationship with the EU. Our net contribution to the EU is some £9bn per-annum. If that were to be scrapped entirely and the money raised replaced with tariffs on our exports to the EU, then the average tariff figure needed to raise the same amount of money is around 7%. WTO tariffs average 3%. So leaving the EU and reverting to a WTO trading relationship is an economic no-brainer for us.
    But we do need to work on future relationships with countries and trading blocs in the RotW, ideally we want several of them ready to go at 1 minute past midnight on 24th June 2018 and if we start soon this is entirely feasible.
    Are the EU going to insist that we are not allowed to talk to anyone else about trade realtionships, and not even allowed to talk to them about one until other parts of the negotiations are over?
    If so we should walk now.

    1. Martin Conboy
      April 3, 2017

      Sorry I meant one past midnight on 30 March 2019.

  59. Ariadaeus
    April 3, 2017

    Just leave. And pay them nothing.

  60. treacle
    April 3, 2017

    According to the Times on Saturday, Donald Tusk even wants to dictate what our taxes should be post-Brexit: “The UK could not become a low-tax, low-regulation nation.” And then the Spanish want Gibraltar. By constantly failing to mention fishing, Mrs May is clearly intending to give away our fishing grounds. I find this all very depressing. It shows how foolish we were to get sucked into the EU in the first place. I hope the government is making plans to exit the EU as soon as possible with no agreement.

    Incidentally, I noticed this on the BBC website today: “For some people the most obvious sign that the UK has left the EU will be the front cover of our passports, which will no longer have to bear the words “European Union”. So the passports will not longer “have to bear” the words “EU”, but presumably may still do so. They don’t seem to have understood that we are leaving.

  61. Original Richard
    April 3, 2017

    The UK Europhiles, led by the BBC, gave such a false impression to the EU bureaucrats and national EU leaders that they believed that the UK would never leave the EU.

    As a result the EU gave Mr. Cameron such “thin gruel” when he attempted to negotiate a more acceptable relationship with the EU that the UK voted to leave.

    We now have the extreme UK Europhiles, led again by the BBC, giving the EU the false impression that the EU referendum result will be overturned if the EU plays hardball with the UK and only offers a “bad” deal.

    As a result, these Europhiles will ensure that the only terms the EU will offer will be to either re-join the EU on full terms or to proceed to a complete break with trading on WTO terms.

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