Scotland and a homage to Catalonia

We learn from the voice of Alex Salmond and from briefing to papers that the SNP  have altered their approach to the EU. Apparently they will now say that were Scotland to have a formal vote to leave the UK, and were voters to vote to leave, Scotland would apply to join EFTA, not the EU, in the first instance.

This new contortion of policy probably is based on the unpopularity of the EU with a significant part of the SNP’s vote, those who also voted to leave the EU. It helps them get round the painful issue of having to join the Euro as a new member of the EU. It avoids too many issues about long delays in joining the EU. The EU has made clear that if a part of an existing member state becomes independent, that new state has to apply to join from outside the EU.  Scotland would meet the main requirements to join as it is already part of  a member state. However, it would not qualify for a share of the UK’s budget rebate, nor automatically achieve opt outs from the common borders and single currency policies.

Scotland  would need to establish Euro convergence, which would require a very large contraction in its substantial budget deficit. Outside the UK Scotland would start with larger deficit than the UK’s, and would need to cut spending and or raise taxes to get within the Maastricht rules. These are unlikely to be palatable to SNP politicians. They do  not like austerity policies, yet these would be serious Euro style austerity policies with considerable bite as the southern members of the Eurozone can testify.

At the same time Catalonia is pressing for her first official independence referendum. She would welcome one chance to be independent of Spain, and is jealous of the democratic approach of the UK in granting such an opportunity to Scotland. Catalonia is more likely to vote to be independent should a meaningful vote be held.  Spain has had to accept that Catalonia, like Scotland, would be able to apply for EU membership if out of the Spanish Union, if that was their wish. Whilst the government has not ruled out use of the veto over theoretical Scottish EU membership, it seems likely now that Spain wants to avoid having to wield the veto. Indeed, Spain still prefers the idea of not allowing Catalonia an official referendum, in the hope that this will keep her Union together.

Spain is on the undemocratic end of more than one of these issues of identity. The UK once again did the decent thing over Gibraltar, as over Scotland. It asked Gibraltarians to vote on whether Spain should share sovereignty over the territory. By an overwhelming majority Gibraltar said No. Had it gone the other way the UK would have implemented the people’s wishes. Spain’s pressing to have some say over Gibraltar’s new relationship with the EU on UK exit is not going to change Gibraltar and the UK’s approach to sovereignty and identity. Spain’s argument that geographical contiguity is sufficient cause to give her sway is not borne out by her actions over Ceuta, nor by general international law.  France has no right to the Channel Islands because they are closer to France than the UK. Spain holds on to Ceuta though it is on the other side of the Med.

The EU has to be careful about these tangled webs of identity.  Its policy that states created out of parts of member states have to apply anew from outside makes sense. They also need to help uphold international law over  borders and self determination of peoples. After all, the EU prides itself on democracy so it should proceed by referendums on these matters to reflect the wishes of the people affected.

 

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90 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    The EU prides itself on democracy! Well they have arranged a fake veneer of democracy and play lip service to it, but the EU is profoundly anti-democratic. That is mainly why the U.K. voted to leave.

    Perhaps more pressing for the SDP is for them to stop pretending they can keep the UK pound when they leave and decide how they will fund their large share of the massive debt that UK goverments have built up. This through their endless incompetence, waste, crony capitalism, green crap lunacy and often just blatant corruption. All of which seems to be largely continuing, unabated under this essentially socialist May government.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Today I had the joy of filling in the “Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings forms” for the amusement of HMRC. No tax is due as all the properties are let and all the rents declared to HMRC every year so what on earth is the point of these forms? It took about half the day to find all the information they demanded, login and file. So it cost me about £1000 in my time for no benefit to anyone. Why are the government so keen to kill productivity with absurd demands like this and gender pay reporting and the thousands of other inconveniences they arrange?

      What fools come up with these bonkers ideas. Why not just tick a box on the tax return we are doing already.

      • Hope
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Sturgeon represents about 1.5 million people, why give so much time energy and money for this? Cut her loose. Only Blaire could have caused so much trouble through his stupid devolution. Oh, forgot regionalization for the EU under another name.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Indeed

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      ‘That is mainly why the U.K. voted to leave’

      – No. The main reason the UK voted to leave, overall, was immigration (and the main reason that many people nearly voted leave but didn’t in the end for other reasons). Until everyone (including remainers) admit this, then this whole EU debate is going to drag on on for years and years and years.

  2. Caterpillar
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Was there a vote by those living in Hong Kong island and Kowloon, not the new territories, to return to China (rather than indept, UK or Taiwan) ? Does the UK always do democracy?

    • Know-dice
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I thought the lease ran out?

      • Hope
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        JR, to sure if paragraph two is correct. Hammond and others think Northern Ireland could automatically join if it became a united Ireland.

      • getahead
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely. We ran out of time.

  3. Jerry
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    “This new contortion of policy probably is based on the unpopularity of the EU with a significant part of the SNP’s vote, those who also voted to leave the EU.”

    Err, didn’t Scotland firmly voted to Remain?! I doubt many SNP voters voted to leave, even would-be floating Labour voters.

    “It helps them get round the painful issue of having to join the Euro as a new member of the EU.”

    For a ‘new’ country desperately trying to find a currency they can use legitimately I doubt the Euro actually causes the SNP many problems, in fact adopting it might do them more favours, especially as the SNP appear happy with the prospect of eventual EU wide Federalisation that would bring the Euro to all members of the union and perhaps even unincorporated territory members such as EEA and EFTA (in the same way as Puerto Rico use the USD).

    I’m not sure that Catalonia, when push comes to shove, would vote for incandescence, yes activists make a lot of noise but Catalonia has changed and evolved in the last 30 years, it is not the down trodden area of Spain it was 50 and more years ago. There has also been a large influx of non Catalan speaking Spanish (no, not expat tourists!). The old feelings, nurtured during the oppressed years of Franco rule, were even as late as the 1960s people lived in fear of Franco’s plain clothed police, has waned as the generations affected have aged and died. Life is good, Catalonia is largely autonomous, why rock the economic boat.

    Reply Dear Jerry
    Why do you waste your time coming onto this site as you disagree with everything I write and think it is all wrong? Your criticisms would have more force if you sometimes agreed with me and if you bothered to research the issues before rushing out things that are clearly foolish. The polls show Catalans do want independence, which is why Spain denies them a vote. In the Scottish referendum the SNP refused to adopt the Euro as their prospective currency, and still refuse it. There were 400,000 SNP voters who voted Leave etc.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr Redwood, I have known Catalonia and the Catalans for the last 50 odd years, my mother and father lived out their for some years. Yes the Catalans are very much like the Scott’s in making a lot of noise about wanting a indyref and their independence come what may, all things considered, in the cold light of day and all that – hmm.

      How do you know who voted to leave? The official referendum figures do not show the voters party affiliations.

      In the June 23rd 2016 Brexit referendum there were 1,018,322 valid votes to leave the EU cast in Scotland, are you seriously suggest that almost 50% of those who voted “Leave (the EU)” in Scotland were SNP supporters! Are you by any chance, perhaps, mixing up the 2014 indyref states and those for the 2016 Brexit referendum, your extrapolation of “400,000 ‘SNP’ voters”, out of the total 1,617,989 votes in support of Scottish independence, are far more likely and believable.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Mr Redwood, you asked why I bother “coming onto this site as you disagree with everything I write and think it is all wrong?”, well for starters I do not disagree with everything you say, I just don’t see the point in posting fan mail, you are a politician not a pop star. But I digress, I guess the reason I bother is the same reason why your europhile colleagues and those MPs on the opposition benches bother to turn up in the House of Commons…

      • Edward2
        Posted April 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        You do seem Jerry, having read your posts over the years to take the opposite view to our host and everyone else on here.
        More for the fun of it than anything else.
        But I never get the impression that you really believe very much what you are saying.

        • Jerry
          Posted April 8, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

          @Edward2; As I said, I just do not usually feel the need to post fan-mail just to say “Me too”, if we all did that our host would not have the time to do the work his is being paid to, even more so when some use such “Me too” comments to then go off-topic! Nor do I believe that our host intends this site to be just a fan club.

          Regarding your last sentence, as usual you are wrong. On the other hand having read your contributions over the years Eddie I get the impression that you are in full agree with anything you do not have a first clue about, which is most subjects and issues, just so that you can look informed. I might well propose different solutions, you don’t even propose improvements…

    • APL
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Jerry: “I’m not sure that Catalonia, when push comes to shove, would vote for incandescence, ”

      I rather hope they will not. I hope they are only aspiring to independence.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Clearly the Catalans should have a vote on whether their future will be as part of Spain or as a separate sovereign state, just as the voters in Scotland were allowed a referendum on whether Scotland should separate from the UK and Gibraltarians have twice been asked whether they would like to transfer some or all of their allegiance to Spain.

    But the Spanish authorities will not permit that, and are exercising their constitutional right to prevent the regional authorities using public resources for a referendum:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/spains-top-court-blocks-catalan-plan-fund-secession-46569058

    “Spain’s top court blocks Catalan plan to fund secession vote”

    Would it not be a generous gesture if we offered to fund this referendum, either through a grant of public funds or through a public appeal?

    And should we not consider offering the services of some of our top campaigning experts to help make sure that the vote goes the right way and far from gaining Gibraltar as they crave the Spanish government loses Catalonia?

    Only kidding, of course we would never be so nasty to one of our European partners. They can be nasty to us, as nasty as they like, but we are not allowed to retaliate in any way. No question of “They sowed the wind, now they shall reap the whirlwind” these days.

  5. DaveM
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I would have thought the EU would encourage as much of this as possible – after all, it’s main aim is to destroy all European nation states and create a country called Europe. I wouldn’t be surprised if conditions of re-entry into the EU by an independent Scotland, Catalonia, etc, included renouncing monarchs as heads of state.

    • sm
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Given that Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Holland are all constitutional monarchies, that might cause some problems the EU really doesn’t need!

      • DaveM
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Not if they encourage the gradual erosion of public funding to monarchies. If they encourage and aid the splintering of countries additionally, they can successfully reduce the status of national monarchies to that of some present day dukes and earls. The EU will have no qualms in adding a clause to some treaty stating that monarchs or presidents are no longer to be considered the head of state and are no longer the embodiment of national sovereignty, and that the EU commission is the new holder of sovereignty. These people are playing a long game towards a country called Europe. That’s why so many people voted to leave. Most of us like our home the way it is. Unfortunately there are a huge number of folk who think only of short term problems and issues, and it’s only when their grandchildren are living in the EU dictatorship that they’ll realise those extra few tariffs weren’t the be all and end all after all.

    • Enock
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      It’ll be called Europa not Europe

  6. Nig l
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    According to the FT Theresa May has started to dismantle roadblocks to Brexit especially migration. For goodness sake, can you get her out of the EU’s pocket and remind her we didn’t vote for that!

    • DaveM
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Not just the FT. Maybe it’s the Westminster bubble, but the PM seems to have forgotten the importance of Free Movement with regards to the result of the Referendum. Or maybe she’s just actively trying to lose the next GE.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      The rabidly Europhile Economist has been seeing Mrs May as something of a Remain Trojan horse ever since she gained the premiership.

    • NickC
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Nig 1, I agree completely. Remain propaganda starts with ad hominems like “Leavers didn’t know what they were voting for”. Too many in the government accept that tosh. Actually we did know. And cutting and controlling immigration was one of the biggies (or is that bigglies?).

      Then there is the risible £50 billion (a suspiciously round number), which the government seems to be taking it seriously. Unbelievable. It should have been laughed off on day one, on the lines of nice try but no lollipop. Now it has escalated to Gibraltar.

      My (Tory) MP hides behind the smokescreen of “not-giving-our-negotiating-position-away”. The government’s 20% lead is going to wither fast unless Mrs May gets a grip. We are watching you.

      • APL
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        NickC: “My (Tory) MP hides behind the smokescreen of “not-giving-our-negotiating-position-away”.”

        The Tory parties record on negotiation is pretty piss poor.

        Let’s not forget Cameron’s renegotiation before the referendum.

        • getahead
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          Cameron’s “reformed” EU.

      • Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        When the 20% lead “vanishes” who on earth do you think Tory Leavers can vote for ?

  7. formula57
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    “After all, the EU prides itself on democracy so it should proceed by referendums on these matters to reflect the wishes of the people affected.” – it certainly does, with repeat as necessary until the foolish population votes correctly!

    “Scotland would need to establish Euro convergence, which would require a very large contraction in its substantial budget deficit.” – certainly it would – and England and Wales and Northern Ireland are better off trying to prevent the circumstance giving rise to that requirement for what reasons?

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    “Whilst the government has not ruled out use of the veto over theoretical Scottish EU membership, it seems likely now that Spain wants to avoid having to wield the veto.”

    Personally I never believed that Spain would hold out against the other EU member states, especially Germany, but especially at that time also the UK, if they wanted Scotland to be allowed to stay in the EU as a new member state rather than as part of the UK. However there would have been a heavy price extracted for that agreement.

  9. Mark B
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I seem to have lost my last post so, if I repeat please accept my apologies.

    Catalonia and the Basque region represent a large part of Spanish GDP. Scotland on the other hand had now gone into decline.

    The SNP will say anything to be rid of the English.

    As they represent the only chance of me seeing an English Parliament I can only hope they finally get what they deserve.

  10. Stephen T
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic so wont be offended if I get moderated!

    Could someone please mention to the Lib Dems that devoting an entire page to slagging off the trade visit to Philippines http://www.libdems.org.uk/liam-fox-philippines-brexit-trade-deal (note the word “grovelling”) whilst making no mention of the EUs similar trade deal negotiations http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1637 is either deeply hypocritical or deeply ignorant.

    Not condoning deals with dodgy regimes btw, but one could use the Remain argument “Better to reform from the Inside” against them here….

  11. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Salmond and (Sturgeon ed) are full of you know what. Scotland is a subsidy junckie and won’t last 2 years away from the teat of the English taxpayers.
    It looks very much like the oil price will stay around $50 for the foreseeable which destroys their business model.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Caviar? Or is it just roe for salmon?

  12. Bob
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “the EU prides itself on democracy”

    the evidence suggests otherwise.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    The SNP simply want independence no matter how they eventually get it because then they think they will be in power for decades to come.

    So as long as they can convince the majority in Scotland to take the independence route they will be happy.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    JR, without giving too much weight to the blatant attempts by pro-EU sections of the mass media to stir up division among their political opponents and destabilise the government, as for example:

    https://www.ft.com/content/86168608-19f0-11e7-a266-12672483791a

    “Theresa May’s bad news for Brexiters”

    “PM has given 2 indications she is willing to compromise on previously hard position”

    please could you say whether her current intention is for our government and Parliament to regain complete control over our immigration policy:

    1. When we leave the EU, scheduled for March 29th 2019; or

    2. Later, after a transitional period of two or three years; or

    3. Never.

    I’m aware of an opinion poll suggesting that a lot of people are comparatively relaxed about free movement of persons continuing for a limited period after we have left the EU – although if more refined questions had been asked it might have been found that the 54% saying that would be “acceptable” actually hold a gradation of views – but Theresa May should not be misled by that into thinking that 3. would be “acceptable”.

    I would also point out that there is a distinction to be made between a transitional period when we do not yet have control over immigration from the EU, and a transitional period when we have control but choose to allow quite large numbers of EU immigrants to come here while necessary adjustments are being made by business and the NHS etc.

    • Chris
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I think that was only one opinion poll, which I believe is not representative. Uncontrolled mass immigration was voted against by people, in large numbers. The polling that ABanks commissioned of 50,000 people apparently showed the absolutely critical role that immigration played in the Brexit decision.

      My own view is that people are well aware that immigration is needed for certain sectors of the economy/to fulfil certain skills requirements, but that places to this country have to be strictly controlled e.g. by a points system, simply because we cannot cope with the pressures on infrastructure etc. We have a disgraceful situation where we cannot care adequately for our people in hospital because there is too much pressure on providing nursing/hospital care and beds, where we cannot school people adequately, where we cannot provide the necessary housing, where we cannot build the infrastructure such as roads to prevent gridlock (there are tremendous traffic/congestion problems in our area, and that is at the start of housebuilding programmes of many thousands of new homes in our area). Those are just a few examples.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 7, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        Well, this was the overall question in Table 7 here:

        https://www.icmunlimited.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017_guardian_apr1_poll.pdf

        “Do you think it would be acceptable or unacceptable for the UK to compromise in the following ways?”

        The first way being:

        “Accepting the continued free movement of people for a few years after Brexit, as part of a transitional deal that eases the impact of the UK leaving the single market”

        To which 54% of the respondents said that would be acceptable, while 29% said it would not be acceptable. And as I mentioned before, with a rather surprising uniformity of the responses across the UK, the English and the Scots being equally prepared to see it as a reasonable compromise. Maybe it worked out like that because a somewhat greater proportion of the Scots who said that it would be OK were hoping that it might turn out to be a permanent, rather than a temporary, compromise?

        I don’t quite see how it would even work out as a compromise in practical terms. Would it be “For the next two years we will co-operate with you to make sure that the trucks with your exports won’t be stacked up as far as Peterborough, provided that you still allow all our citizens to enter your country by bus and car and train and plane and then take up permanent residence once they have arrived. After that, unless you agreed to continue with that unlimited and uncontrolled immigration we would turn off the new computers we installed to make sure trade continued unimpeded.”

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      By March 2019, business will have ha the best part of 3 years to change their business model.
      Employing more EU nationals and paying in work benefits should stop immediately. Why are we still issuing thousands of N.I. numbers. The EU has already said that benefits should be indefinite for everyone who has ever set foot on these shores.
      The transitional time is nowe until 29th March 2019, not a day longer.

    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      I just wonder where you think all the new British NHS workers are going to be coming from ?

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      There is also a huge distinction to be made between offering temporary visas to people who wish to work in the UK and offering to treat them as full UK citizens with rights to permanent residency for them and their extended families and access to all our non-contributory health and welfare benefits.

      This applies particularly to seasonal agricultural workers.

  15. John
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    But surely this ‘change of policy’ also dumps the SNP leadership back into the fire on the basis that even if they were to achieve independance they would be utterly reliant on the UK Treasury to support thier currency?

    They witter away about keeping the pound, but the rest of the UK cannot afford to shackle itself to the fortunes of an ‘independant’ nation like that, led as it is by such a spendfree Government as the SNP. Even if it were to support a Scottish pound, Scotland could not be independant as it’s spending would at a minimum need to remain controlled by The Treasury.

    But all that is moot. Despite the SNP’s bullishness, Scots are not going to vote for independance so soon after the last vote, and the EU already has more than enough minority, half bankrupt states led by whinging socialist Governments with pages of spending commitments; I can’t see the EU wanting another one.

  16. Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    As far as Scotland is concerned, our politicians can only hope that the first quarter of 2017 will see the Scottish economy continue in reverse, thus ensuring that the SNP are responsible for officially putting their province into recession.

    Perhaps that will convince enough voters to realise that the SNP is leading them to economic oblivion. They might even finally come to appreciate that the Scottish economy is a basket case and that the SNP is only able to keep the show on the road thanks to an annual injection of £15bn of English taxpayer’s money.

    There appears to be some confusion over Scotland’s status if voters were foolish enough to vote for independence and apply to join the EU. Firstly they would have to reduce their deficit to below 3% of GDP and hold it at that level. That would turn Scotland into another Greece but one without the agreeable Mediterranean climate.

    Scondly, I have read that, despite the deficit, Scotland might still be “wealthy” enough to be a net contributor to the EU budget. Presumably because of the admission of so many poor Eastern block and Baltic Sstates in the last decade. Croatia and others are in the queue to join as well. That would pile even more pressure on Scottish taxpayers’ shoulders.

    Would they vote for Independence if all the facts were known ? I find that very unlikely.
    However, if the SNP can be ousted and normal relations across the UK return, Westminster is going to have to get to grips with the economy and end the ridiculous subsidy English taxpayers are having to provide to Scotland and Wales.

    As for Spain, they will have to concede a referendum sooner or later. Let’s hope Catalonia then decides to go it alone outside the EU.

  17. Thames Trader
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Given Scotland’s huge budget deficit and subsidy by the English that they are happy to scorn the SNP should explain how they would fund the EFTA membership fee.

  18. agricola
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Do not forget, when mentioning Spanish territories in North Africa, there is also Melilla.

    Referendums are anathema to the EU, they make a particular point of ignoring them if they contain a whiff of independence from the EU. This has been the fundamental mistake in the politics of the EU. They have failed to take the people with them. They hold so many of them in impoverished dependence. Many being new to democracy have been easily held in this state, but thanks to information technology are now waking up. Ask yourself how many people in the countries of Europe after WW2 had any experience of democracy, making it easy for the unscrupulous to sell them a second rate version of it.

    From the reaction in the European parliament yesterday, it is obvious that many see themselves as scorned wives. They cannot conceive of the UK wishing to leave their second rate club. I suspect that even if we come to an agreement with the leadership of the EU, it might not pass their hissy fit MEPs. All the more reason for being absolutely firm with them in severance discussions. We hold the strongest hand because we know where we are heading. Mrs. May and her team are quite right in intimating that no deal is better than a bad one.

    • acorn
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Guy Verhofstadt, […] spoke sadly of Britain’s withdrawal during the debate, but admitted it had “never been a love affair”. “Perhaps it was always impossible to unite Great Britain with the continent,” he added. He said he believed a young leader would in time try to place the UK back in the EU, when a new generation was able to see Brexit “for what it is – a catfight in the Conservative party that got out of hand, a loss of time, a waste of energy, a stupidity”. (Guardian)

      He has got a point

  19. JoolsB
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    There’s absolutely no way Scotland will vote to leave the UK so it’s all hyperthetical. Especially now they have been promised more powers once they’ve been repatriated from the EU. Devo max without a little thing like having to worry about where all the money comes from to pay for their free tuition fees, free prescriptions, free eye tests and dental checks and free personal care for the elderly. Those kind people in England courtesy of the UK Government will foot the bill. The very people who are denied all these things by the same UK Government.

    Wales and NI have also been promised more powers. Meanwhile of course, England doesn’t get a mention. Nothing new there. As Davis has stated – “powers coming back from the EU will in future be decided in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London by the Scots, Welsh, NI & UK Governments”. Unbelievable.

  20. sm
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    If Spain’s argument is that Gib’s contiguity to Iberia is sufficient cause for overall authority, surely England could use the same argument about its authority over Scotland!

  21. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    The EU and democracy is best described as an oxymoron.

  22. Ed Mahony
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Gibraltar is a bit of a phony issue (and so Lord Howard’s sabre-rattling remarks ignorant and ridiculous).

    1. Gibraltar provides good jobs to highly unemployed part of Spain
    2. A lot of rich Gibraltarians spend a lot of money in / invest along the Costa del Sol, sorely in need of spending / investing right now.
    3. Gibraltar airport is great at enticing British tourists and Brits to come and live in Costa del Sol
    4. Many Spaniards are happy to have the strong military presence of the British in their part of Spain
    5. Spaniards are sensitive about making a fuss which could cause trouble in Catalonia, Basque land, Ceuta, Melilla etc
    6. Historical / Cultural Ties. Many Spaniards are grateful to the British for the role they played in kicking Napoleon out of Spain (the Duke of Wellington was give an estate in Spain as well as a Spanish title, El de Ciudad Rodrigo, and still continue with this estate and tite). And there are other close historical ties between this part of Spain and Britain – Sherry, Mining (Rio Tinto started off in Andalusia), Railways (we built many important railways in Andalusia). Also, lots of Spaniards are married to Gibraltarians and Gibraltarians have a lot of Spanish blood so close racial and cultural ties between two.
    7. Gibraltar has no potential resources, unlike the waters of the Falkland Islands

    • rose
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      All of what you say is true except the first sentence. As with Argentina, Spain takes the question of Gibraltar deadly seriously even though there is no rational reason to – as you demonstrate in 1-7. If she did not, why has she insisted on this clause in the EU guidelines? We thought this would probably come up at some point during our exit, but in this way?

      Michael Howard is no fool and chose his words carefully. A pity so many treacherous people have tried to undermine them. Someone needed to tell the Spaniards we are 100% committed to Gibraltar, whatever Blair may have led them to think.

      On top of this bullying over Gibraltar, the EU is ganging up with the IRA against us in N Ireland, colluding with the SNP in Scotland, and probably doing the same with the Welsh nationalists. The intention is clear: to disunite and dismember the UK as an example to the others. And they say, as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths, that they don’t want unrest appearing!

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 9, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        ‘the EU is ganging up with the IRA against us in N Ireland’

        – What??

  23. Posted April 6, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The EU has accepted the fact that the British Government will not consider staying in the EEA – what they call, wrongly, the Single Market (it has two pillars – not a single one).
    Mrs Sturgeon is not popular in England and the SNP are throwing their weight around in parliament in London too.
    But that does not stop them being right!
    Staying in the EEA by joining the EFTA group makes a lot of sense.
    Mrs May has already kicked immigration into the long grass. She is going to have to do a lot of spin when it comes to swallowing all the financial arrangements planned during the two year negotiations too. £60,000,000,000 has been mentioned.
    EFTA bypasses all of this and is much, much cheaper!
    I am still waiting for a decent rebuttal of our EFTA membership.

    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Thought you couldn’t.

      • getahead
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        I have told you before Mike and I will repeat it.
        The UK would still need to contribute around 2 billion euros a year to the EU budget if part of the EEA/EFTA. Nationals of the EEA EFTA States have the same right as EU citizens to take up an economic activity anywhere in the EU/EEA, we would therefore still have uncontrolled immigration.
        So in effect EFTA is simply EU lite to similar to that which we have recently voted to quit.

        • getahead
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Ed.
          So in effect EFTA is simply EU lite, similar to that which we have recently voted to quit.

      • acorn
        Posted April 7, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        According to CER. “If the UK were merely to rejoin EFTA, it would achieve very few economic benefits. Given the development both of the EEA and of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU, the FTA between the EU and EFTA has become almost an empty shell, containing little of substance.

        The FTA covers only trade for some fish and agricultural products, and no services at all. It is not linked to either the EEA, or to the 1972 trade agreement (modified several times) between Switzerland and the EU. EFTA membership would not give the UK access to the many FTAs concluded between the EFTA states and third countries; the EFTA itself does not broker FTAs.

        Thus, joining EFTA would do very little to provide British firms with preferential access to key European or other export markets.” Also say CER, “The UK could try to join the EEA. In order to do so, it would also be legally required to join EFTA, of which the three non-EU members of the EEA are also members.”

        The EEA option for the UK would include accepting the “four freedoms”.

  24. Shieldsman
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Going back to the argument that we must agree to pay £52 billion before Barmier will discuss trade, how about the counter argument. When are we going to present the rental bill for the use of the real estate in Brussels and Strasbourg which as nett contributors we have helped pay for.

    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Clever but no cigar.
      If we are simply made into a “third country” as has been suggested in the EU guidelines for discussion all trade will stop on the borders of Europe.
      WTO will not make it continue.
      Shouting about Mercedes will not make it continue.
      I do not know if you saw those pictures of Gibraltar people trying to enter Spain (or vice versa?) Well imagine that with lorries, planes and ships.
      Of course it could never happen here! We are British!

      • Chris
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Puzzled. How does this answer Shieldsman?

      • ian wragg
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Best about it Mike is most of the queue were Spanish from Algeciras who work on the rock. This has been happening from the 60’s, they continually made us late on board when I was in the Navy by closing the borders at odd times. We just used to play cards and drink more beer with the locals.
        btw Captcha 14 today, not the record though

        • Chris
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Top marks for perseverance, IW!

        • rose
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

          The Chief Minister told the H of C select cttee they even do it if they lose a football match.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know how many times it has to be repeated that each of the EFTA states is a “third country” as far as the EU is concerned, so your preferred cunning plan of wangling our way into EFTA in order to stay in the EEA would do nothing to solve the problems you imagine. For example:

        http://2ihmoy1d3v7630ar9h2rsglp.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/170323_Customs-Union-paper-FINAL-DRAFT_WITHOUT-EMBARGO_FORMATTED.pdf

        “6.3.1 Norway-Sweden border cooperation”

        “Customs checks cannot be wholly eliminated between Norway and Sweden, as this is one of the external borders of EUCU. However, both partners have agreed to the imposition of light-touch customs checks … “

    • acorn
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      £52 billion is the net figure, €60 billion equivalent. You can get it from gross UK liabilities, minus UK assets, €73 b minus €13 b. This includes EU payments for ongoing EU projects in the UK, till about 2022.

      There are about a dozen other answers you can get, miles apart, depending how you add it up. BTW. There is nothing wrong with the EU Accounts. It is the book-keeping in the member states that causes EU Accounts to be qualified by the Auditors.

  25. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    What a joke the SNP are. They really don’t know what they do want but they really don’t care how much it costs the Scottish people if they gain independence and this EU thing is just an excuse to call another referendum. If the UK government end up giving them all sorts of things as appeasement then they must be mad. This will not be the last time Scotland causes grief. Until the Scottish people learn that the SNP has been the worst thing to happen to Scotland in a long time they and the UK will not be free from this nonsense. I hope in the local elections that the Scots are canny enough to vote anything but SNP and show them how fed up they are with it all. The thought of being allowed into any kind of deal with Europe is scary to say the least. You only have to look at the way Greece has had to fall into line to see what will happen. It seems to me that Germany is having a good old time of it all while the rest of Europe can go to hell. Thank goodness the UK has the good sense to realise just what is going on.

  26. jason Wells
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Never mind about Scotland or Catalonia – if they want to be independent then that is their business- let them off – I am more concerned with England and what is happening south of the border- listening to Nigel farages contribution in the EU parliament yesterday does not fill me with much hope about the future and especially the future for our young people. I’m told that over seventy per cent of the young people in this country voted to remain and now we are in this awful position of not knowing where we are going. If anyone has any idea about what the May team are up to then please hold up your hand- because I sure as hell have no idea? As far as Gibraltar goes- those people voted overwhelmingly to remain as part of the EU so I can’t see what the difficulty is- we surely have to agree to their democratic wishes- I think!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      It’s not difficult. The Gibraltarians were close to unanimous in preferring to stay in the EU, but as the electorate as a whole voted to leave they are reconciled to that decision and much prefer to accompany us when we leave. Likewise many of the 48% who voted to stay in the EU are now reconciled to the democratic decision that we should leave, including many of the younger voters. Those who claim to represent that 48% are wrong, if they represent anyone it is far fewer than 48% of the voters. However as a slogan “We are the perhaps 20-odd percent who still cannot come to terms with a democratic decision” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

  27. acorn
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Of our 14 British Overseas Territories, Gibraltar is the only one in the EU and has a land border with it. Spain wishes to maintain control of its borders, exactly the same as the UK. After Brexit, it will not like having a British tax haven on its border, connecting to the rest of the EU.

    Remove the tax haven status from Gibraltar and things might calm down a bit. Alas, that won’t leave many reasons for its 28,000 British citizens to stay living there; and, the daily flow of persons across the border from Spain, will probably reverse.

    • rose
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      What employment have you in mind for the thousands of people from the poorest part of Spain who would be thrown out of work if you beggared Gibraltar? And there certainly wouldn’t be a reverse flow.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17635879

  28. Bert Young
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The SNP’s case for an independent Scotland – joining EFTA or whoever , is a dead duck . The Sturgeons and Salmonds of this world are deluded individuals blinded by an ambition that defies all reason and practicality . Economically Scotland is in trouble ; the drop in the oil price ( North Sea Oil does not belong to Scotland anyway ) , rising unemployment , Service organisations who will move South , the loss of the Barnett formula , all are contributing influences that show the true weak case that Scotland has in trying to belong to anything . In addition to these facts Scotland would not be able to keep the £ were it to succeed in leaving .

    Catalonia is a relatively strong part of the Spanish economy and for this reason alone ,the Spanish Government would never allow a referendum for it to leave . The dilemma in Spain is very high unemployment and its inability to attract inward investment ; this situation has existed for many years and is unlikely to change much in the next 10 years . In the early 60’s I had first hand experience in trying to develop manufacturing and service relationships with Spain ; some efforts were successful ( Ford ) but , mostly – compared to other European countries at the time , Spain was at the bottom of the list .

    The EU can delude itself that it is in a strong position to demand the terms of our continuing relationship . It is not . Firstly it faces a monumental task in keeping it together – this at a time of many forthcoming elections and growing voices of dissent . Secondly it is broke and unable to bribe member countries in staying together . Thirdly Greece , Italy , Spain and Portugal present a level of economic dilemma way beyond the capability of the EU’s financing manipulations . At the moment the EU is spreading false information about the consequences of Brexit on those EU individuals currently residing here ; all this before anything has been put on the table and discussed or agreed . I interpret these actions as those of a wounded and defeated competitor .

  29. NickC
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    John, I’m a lot more cynical about this than you. The EU, to accrete power, has to take it from somewhere. It’s main rival is the nation state. It is therefore in the interests of the EU to break up states. That is what the EU’s policy is, whether they own up to it or not (Europe of the Regions, etc).

    Slicing Scotland from the UK is to the EU’s benefit. The SNP recognise that too, and that’s why the SNP wants to keep being run from Brussels. Not because it’s sensible or logical but solely because (they hope) it annoys, and undermines, England as the biggest part of the rUK.

  30. Antisthenes
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The usual hypocrisy and erroneous justification for demands on display. In a truly rational and fair world the SNP would admit that their wish to leave the union with the UK is nothing to do with independence. As leaving the UK to join the EU in no way furthers that goal. In fact the very opposite is true. Spain are doing nothing more than making a land grab with no regard to the rights of the people who currently inhabit that land. Something we expect of the likes of Russia and China and on which we express our disapproval. How the government of Spain can wish to annex Gibraltar with approval should be a mystery. It is not because of the unscrupulousness of the EU’s political elite who will support that goal because it suits their nefarious purposes.

  31. Mockbeggar
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but picking up on yesterday’s argument (which I missed until this morning) about Mrs May apparently giving negotiating points (e.g. immigration) away before the negotiation has begun; by appearing to be magnanimous in the first place, when the demands from the other side become more and more aggressive (because they think that they’re in an increasingly strong position), it becomes much easier for her to sell a “No deal” solution internally when it happens and the downside of the bad deal become increasingly obvious. Nothing is ‘given away’ until the deal/no deal is done.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, Mandelson says May should just agree to pay the EU whatever it demands so that trade negotiations can then get off to a good start. After all, the sum involved will be “small change”, and paying up will secure “as much time as possible, as much negotiating goodwill and good atmospherics to focus and invest in the really important negotiation in front of us, which is about our future trading relationship.”

    https://www.politicshome.com/news/europe/eu-policy-agenda/brexit/news/84886/lord-mandelson-claims-multibillion-pound-brexit-bill

    As it happens I agree that the so-called “divorce bill” is the least important economic aspect of the negotiations, given that the costs of a downgraded trading relationship will be recurrent, year after year potentially in perpetuity, and for both sides and indeed for the whole world to some extent. Which is why it is all the more staggering that the EU has chosen to make grabbing our money their top priority, as the first item on their agenda for sequential negotiations, rather than sensibly agreeing that it can be hived off as a separate negotiation mainly between accountants while the more important trade negotiations, and the negotiations on the future position of EU migrants, get started in parallel.

  33. Prigger
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    The SNP leadership finding the high road to becoming a neo-colony of the undemocratic united kingdoms of the EU is blocked, is hellbent on finding any low road even below their own misty vision

  34. BOF
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    ‘After all, the EU prides itself on democracy so it should proceed by referendums on these matters to reflect the wishes of the people affected.’

    Unfortunately, when there are referendums in EU countries, they tend to be sent back to vote again when they give the wrong answer. So much for EU democracy!

    The SNP is unlikely, ever to get Scotland Euro convergence, but Greece was allowed to join so the rules are a movable feast.

    OT Has Mrs May been re writing her speech and next time will say ‘Brexit means Flexit and we’re going to make remain of it’?

  35. Lifelogic
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    OK “their education” (but I have an excuse as I only went to a state school!) either that or it was a mistype and the computer guessing wrongly for me.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      What the above refers to has vanish somewhere. I was commenting on the absurdity of the outrageous judgement today nationalising your children and criminalising any parent should they dare to go on holiday a day before the school breaks up. Also the economic absurdity of the Gove/Corbyn vat on school fees suggestion.

      This appalling judgement changes the law completely by ruling that the words “attend regularly” apparently means “in accordance with any rules set by the school”. So they can fine or imprison any parent at will just by changing the school rules it seems. An absolute outrage against civil liberties. Will May do anything about it? I rather doubt it as she she is clearly no Conservative.

      How on earth does the (Yorkshire lass and first at Girton) Lady Hale come to such a bizarre conclusion? Has she some special dictionary she uses? Or is she just rather past it perhaps?

  36. BOF
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Sorry, meant to say; OT Has Mrs May been re writing her speech and next time will say ‘Brexit means Flexit and we’re going to make remex of it’?

  37. Paul w
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Catalonia should be allowed independance if the people wish..and the same goes for the basques..i cannot understand the reasoning of these countries that want to hold onto countries and regions against the peoples expresd wishes..just the samr the gibraltarians should be allowed to remain british anf also part of yhe eu as yhey voted..what could be mire clear?

  38. James neill
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Well if the uk can vote to leave the eu then i dont see why the scottish cannot leave the uk if they wish.. its a free country and if thats what the people want then give them the vote..why not. Similiarly if the catolonians and the basques want to leave spain.. its ok with me. So on the other hand if the gibraltarians want to remain british and still be in the eu as well then thats ok with me too.. everyone gets their wish..

    Reply Yes, that is the UK way. We gave both the Scots and the Gibraltarians a vote, and both decided to stay with us. Spain refuses the Catalans a similar vote.

  39. Mitchel
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Interesting front page headline in the”i” today-“Secret detente talks with the Kremlin”.

    Is it a plant to put the wind up the EU or is it real-and it should be blindingly obvious that if the EU becomes a superstate with it’s own army,then the two flanking powers should act together to maintain a balance of power?

  40. margaret
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Orwellian flavours there. I have just been to a course on the liver , alcoholism and other diseases. I was sitting next to a Scottish GP who still categorised peoples level of academic ability according to their job/ post. Many English people would be employed or hold higher paid jobs if it wasn’t for the influx of ‘on paper’ qualified immigrants and a perception that they were more qualified than our own home grown staff. We talked about the highest incidence of cirrhosis of the liver which is in Scotland and far higher than anywhere else.

    It annoyed me that certain aspects of knowledge were geared to a certain job. For example this level of knowledge is suitable for a Health Care Assistant whereas this level of knowledge is suitable for a registered medical practitioner. The difficulty to get ones desired job does not necessarily mean that the level of intelligence is lower or the person with a lower pad job is less informed. It is simply that jobs were not available. It is an abuse and use of our own nationals.The heirarchical snootiness with position rather than intelligence and ability perpetuates the sillines of categorising at levels when there are simply not enough well paid posts to go around.

    This evening I am going to a Diabetes Seminar . Diabetes Mellitus incidence is highest in the South Asian population .

    • margaret
      Posted April 7, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      I don’t know whether I originally finished this sentence or not. I type many things and am convinced that somewhere between me writing them and travelling over to be moderated, they magically change.
      The point I am trying to make when some may consider the points far too personal is that it is personal to many. The way each individuals life changes due to the habits, religion, ways of life of other people impacts on the population as a whole and percentages and numbers change accordingly .We often do not want it to change for the worse , but we have to suffer along with the rest.

  41. Terry
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    How can the EU ever be democratic under the present terms ?
    All the ruling 27 Commissars remain unelected and unaccountable. They meet in secret and there is no published agenda nor any minutes released after their discussions.

    They are free to make laws without challenge. The EU Parliament is a mere nodding exercise so the ‘set-up’ is more akin to the USSR rather than to a democracy and it is the sole reason why I voted to leave it.
    The gains this country shall have once in control of our economy and our trade links and our own lives will be a bonus. Rule Britannia.

    • Chris
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Gorbachev agreed with you. I think I am right in saying that he questioned why on earth Europe would want to create another Soviet Union in their midst?

  42. Original Richard
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Scotland, Gibralter and N.I voted for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU and not for themselves to individually remain in the EU as separate entities with the rUK out of the EU.

    There is a big difference between the two, as we certainly know in the case of Gibralter at least.

    Incidentally, will Ms Sturgeon be allowing ex-Pat Scots a vote in any second referendum ?

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 7, 2017 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    I don’t care what Scotland joins. If they go independent, they must go truly independent:
    – no shared currency with the UK
    – no shared monarchy
    – no common defence policy if they expel our nukes
    – a hard border so that the UK can enforce its immigration policy

  44. hefner
    Posted April 9, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The UK only encompasses England, Wales, Scoland and Northern Ireland. The Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, as well as Gibraltar are not part of the UK. Gibraltar is not a Crown Colony nor an Overseas Territory, but a Dependent Territory as also St Kitts and Nevis.
    As such Gibraltar is a self-governing territory and its government is independent of that in the UK, it has its own Parliament, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
    It also has a strong economy mainly based on finance, offshore banking, shipping, trading and tourism. Right now there exists an international agreement between the UK and Gibraltar to improve international tax compliance (published on 29/09/2016).
    Further information for anybody interested in not repeating the st*p*d comments of some past-their-prime Conservative(s) can be obtained from http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

    Promoted by Fraser McFarland on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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