The EU mellows its negotiating position a bit

The formal statement from the EU 27 after their Brexit discussions this week had some sensible and positive points in it. They talk of their “wish to have  the UK as a close partner in the future”. They ask for a single financial settlement but  do not put any figures in it. They wish this to include sorting out the shareholdings we have in the European Investment Bank and the ECB which must be our credits. They say they are ready “to initiate an agreement on trade, to be finalised and concluded once the UK is no longer a member state”. They want agreements that go wider than trade, to include security. They seem to accept in principle reciprocal rights for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

They make much of how unified the EU is and will be over their negotiating position. The UK is not trying to cause division, as we are well aware that it is easier if there is one negotiator for them and they will all sign up to anything the central team agree. They seem unsure that they can hold it together as single voice and view, so they tell the other member states that they are not to talk Brexit with the UK individually. This seems both petty and unenforceable. A willingness to talk to partners is important, but does not mean the EU position will automatically fall apart. It might just be better informed and better reflect its member states views.

There are still some less helpful statements from the EU point of view in the official words. We are told at the beginning “Citizens who have built their lives on the basis of rights flowing from the British membership of the EU face the prospect of losing their rights”. It is difficult to see how this can be true, as the UK has made clear it wishes to ensure full rights to stay and work in the UK for all EU citizens who have legally done so, as long as UK citizens get the same treatment. Further down the document it implies that will be the EU’s view. We are told a trade agreement cannot be discussed until the leaving agreement has been hammered out, yet they also say there can be talks about it in parallel to the second phase of the leaving Agreement. They also say nothing is agreed until all is agreed, so the UK could require preliminary agreement on trade or countries in the EU at risk of high farm tariffs might want the EU to sort that out. Clearly the EU wants to run the risk of damaging its exports to the UK by tariffs.

The language on Ireland, Cyprus and Gibraltar is not as  inflammatory as some reports or interested parties seem to suggest.

All in all it seems to me to be a working document that the UK can respond to. Both sides accept the UK will be leaving the EU, its internal market and customs union. Of course the UK should pay its bills on leaving, but no-one has set out any  bill with financial and legal credibility  that goes beyond our regular contributions up to withdrawal date.

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175 Comments

  1. Peter Wood
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    I am relived to read your review of the present position of the EU. Has the UK stated our position yet, can you report? May I suggest a caveat; for the UK we should insist on acceptance by all parties of the principle of: “the whole deal, or no deal”. Then there can be no exit deal without a trade deal.

    Reply HMG published a White Paper setting out its position.

    • NickC
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Peter Wood, The UK leaving the EU is not negotiable, it is a fact. Subsequently the best “deal” with the EU is no deal, just like we have presently with the USA, or India, etc. We should be negotiating deals with non-EU countries like those, before the EU, to allow the EU time to cool its attitude.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Yes, agreed.

        The only “deal” with the EU should be UK citizens living in EU land and EU citizens living in the UK.

        The rest can be dealt with later, they are not going to offer any worthwhile deal in the short term. You can see that from the lack of respect they gave to David Cameron and UK as a major contributor to the “European Project” prior to the Referendum.

        Out of the 27 EU member countries that we are leaving behind, how many are net contributors to the EU? 5 or 6 maybe, and with Qualified Majority Voting we never will get a good ongoing deal…

        • Hope
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

          JR, this is not what Iam reading. The EU wants its citizens rights here enshrined in the ECJ, May wants us to remain in the ECHR.

          Let us not forget the terrible record of May. She gave away our rights under the European Arrest Warrant when she did not have to! What sort of negotiation was that? Hundreds of years protection built up in our country to be given away for nothing in return- you wrote about it. Cameron claimed he rule nothing out then claimed after his negotiation that he changed the EU and would campaign to remain in! Please be realistic, balanced and fair. Even when the EU are not asking for something Cameron and May are,prepared to give away for nothing in return. This is their record as a matter of fact not jibber jabber.

          Blaire is speaking to everyone to stop Brexit, when he sold the country’s reputation down the river along with its integrity, Branson interfering when he does not live here all aided by the MSM to change our minds. No I am sorry I do not believe May. She lied to us during the EU referendum, her record as HS was terrible, her record on immogration appalling, her record on deporting criminals appalling, her record on all public services under command as HS was terrible.

      • eeyore
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        A Mr McGillicuddy from Cornwall proposed in the DT yesterday that the UK might “form a simple trading organisation, open to all nations and free of political notions”. He suggested calling it a “Common Market”.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          What an excellent idea.
          It’s where we came in, before the original Common Market developed into the failing bureaucracy it is now.

          • Andy
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

            There was one once upon a time called EFTA.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        @NikeC; You seem to be proposing the most harsh Brexit possible.

        • getahead
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, the hard/harsh and soft Brexit theme was composed by Remainers who did not want to accept the result of the referendum. They came up with the wizard notion of a soft Brexit which, if implemented, would mean that we would not really have left the EU at all.
          Same as “but the Single Market wasn’t mentioned on the ballot paper” as if the single market was something different to the EU.
          The ballot paper said Leave or Remain. Remain can be compared to a soft Brexit but we voted to leave. Harsh Brexit then.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

            @getahead; The terms Hard and Soft Brexit have been used for years, it is just that most people never bothered to debate how we should leave because few ever thought there would actually be Brexit – least of all UKIPers.

            Yes, the referendum ballot paper said Leave or Remain, and as such it asked nothing about how or even when we should leave. Want that argument settled then best we make the looming GE about nothing else than ‘Brexit, How and When’. Mrs May would likely loose, do you want Mr Corbyn in No. 10 backed up by the SNP and the LDs, I now I could never vote Conservative (and even less UKIP) if your (and @NickC’s) fundamentalist style of Brexit was the only Brexit on offer.

            What @NickC suggests we do, before actually leaving, would break EU law, and by extension international law. What chance of obtaining half decent trade deals with anyone after that, never mind the EU, we would likely be stuck with (basic) WTO rules for years…

          • Edward2
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

            Soft Brexit means staying in the EU.

            Hard Brexit means actually leaving the EU

          • Jerry
            Posted May 2, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Wrong again Eddie! Norway is not in the EU but has a very successful trading relationship with the EU, as do the Swiss, as does Iceland. In fact some commentators on this site used to suggest that we should become a “Greater Switzerland”…

      • acorn
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear JR, you told us it was all going to be so easy. The EU would be grovelling at our feet, begging us to stay and keep taking its exports. “Empire 2.0 is dangerous nostalgia for something that never existed”. (David Olusoga in the Guardian.)

        (Empire 2.0 is the Whitehall techies, somewhat cynical, name for Brexit.)

        Also, “Tories’ ‘imperial vision’ for post-Brexit trade branded disruptive and deluded”. The ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations) chief, Dr Patrick Gomes, condemned “reactionary” Whitehall talk of a second era of British colonialism – dubbed “Empire 2.0” – and poured scorn on the government’s trade strategy.

        When this all goes tits up for us, the little people, even the mild mannered English, will go looking for those that caused their grief.

        • David Price
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          I would agree with the criticism of Whitehall on the ridiculous “branding”, the person(s) responsible for that moronic posturing should be made a significant example of.

          But what makes you think the little people won’t go looking for those who have disrupted, delayed and damaged Brexit, those who align themselves with the Bransons, the Blairs and the EU elites?

      • John O'Leary
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        @NickC

        For your information there are 3 bilateral and 2 multilateral trade agreements involving India and the EU. Even more importantly there are 20 bilateral and four multilateral trade agreements between the USA and the EU. It is true that they are not fully fledged Free Trade Agreements but they to significantly enhance trade above what would be possible purely under WTO rules. No country of any economic significance trades with the EU under WTO rules as non-tariff barriers would make it impossible.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Indeed the simple fact is that they export more to us than we do to them. It is more in their interests to have free trade than ours. If any fee is needed at all it should be from them to us.
    We can always switch our production to the home or other markets anyway.

    May’s “Strong and Stable Government” catch phrase need to be accompanied by “lower and simpler taxes”. As even Sam Britton now seems to recognise in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph today. He says “Politicians should have realised by now that the lower the rates of tax, the higher the revenue.” Alas May has not.

    • Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      Have you any idea of what the EU and Mrs Merkel are saying?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        What politicians say is one thing, they say all sorts of stupid things. They are playing to the gallery. The realities of the economics of the negotiation and what is actually in their mutual interests is quite another. Let us hope that, in the interests of both sides sense prevails.

        Not that sense usually prevails in EU politics.

        • Mark B
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          When one is elected by the populace, then yes. But these lot are not and do not care about the people. eg Greece.

          What they care about is keeping it all together and not allowing the whole thing to unravel.

          • John O'Leary
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            @Mark B

            You have, probably unwittingly, focused on the very reason we are on a losing wicket. The EU cannot afford to let it unravel and will not grant any concessions to the UK above any other “thirds country” as we will become (unless we stay in the EEA by rejoining Efta).

      • NickC
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Mike Stallard, Why is what Mrs Merkel says of the remotest importance? The EU has stated we should not negotiate with individual EU countries, as Mr Redwood reports. You’re not implying Germany runs the EU, are you? Sigh . . . .

        • Jerry
          Posted May 2, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

          @NickC; Oh do go and find a clue, yes the EU will negotiate terms with the UK but the EU27 need to agree those terms (unanimously), so yes it does mater what Mrs Merkel says or thinks, and it also matters what the other EU26 leaders say and think.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      According to the Telegraph:- The Prime Minister’s team is preparing the most interventionist Tory economic pitch to voters for at least 40 years – certainly since the days of Sir Edward Heath.

      What a misguided, lefty dope she is. It will not work economically and it is not even actually actually popular at elections. The Tories are a party of low taxation/smaller state or they are nothing. Under Theresa Miliband they seem to want the latter. Just like Heath, Major and Cameron. May is popular now only relative to the dire quality of the alternatives not due to her.

      If she were a real low tax Conservative she would be far more popular. Let us hope the sane wing of the party can stop her bonkers, interventionist, price and wages control socialism post the election.

      • Bob
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        The Telegraph reports that Dan Hannan has been turned down for a safe seat.
        What does this tell you about Mrs May’s Tories?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 2, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          @Bob; That someone at CCHQ has some sense?

          • Jerry
            Posted May 2, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            Leapfrogging of other possible candidates is often looked upon very poorly by the floating voters even ‘safe’ seats need [1], even more so when the person doing the leapfrogging has campaigned for their own redundancy but then want to get back on the gravy train having achieved their goal!

            [1] even more so when being asked to vote in a totally unnecessary election

      • Hope
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        LL, quite right. The dire opposition makes her look good. However after a while Osborne made Gordon Brown look good!

        Cameron and May copied Miliband CCA and other socialist policies while ridiculing him! Osborne claimed in 2010 he had no plans to raise tax, then we had over 300 tax rises in 6 years! We are currently paying tax three times for the same thing i.e. Flood defense and adult social care! Look at your energy bill for the govt’s obligation to environment, green tax rubbish not helping the planet one bit. The energy companies raised this and were then threatened by HMG for daring to to bring it to the public’s attention!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      May today, refuses to rule out further tax increases in VAT, NI and Income Tax. Why on earth not? Surely 45% IT, 20% VAT, and NI at 25.8% (both NIs combined) plus 40% IHT and all the rest is far more than enough.
      She is still going on about “building” on existing EU employee “rights” and still no promise about the triple lock, still going on about having engaged the lefty dope Mathew Taylor to look at employment practices!

      The Tories under May are clearly a daft, socialist, top down, party, wanting higher taxation, endless intervention, expensive greencrap energy and endless government waste such as HS2.

      Why on earth have Tories chosen to be led by yet another, daft as a brush, ex(?) remainer who is a socialist? Surely we have surely had enough with the abject disasters of Heath, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron? Has Socialist May been asleep all her life? She has lived through all this after all. Did she keep her eyes shut!

      • Bob
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        There should be no tax increases until the ludicrous arbitrary 0.7% foreign aid budget is abolished.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      LL – It’s not just money, its going to be about unemployment and the EU again has more to lose that the UK.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Just a shame May has such a foolish economic agenda. Rather the opposite of low tax, cheap energy and lots of deregulating Trump. Pehaps his best policy is cutting subsidies for tax payer funded people in “The Arts”.

    • hefner
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      So LL, with a zero percent level for all taxes, the State would have an infinite amount of money. Yippee!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Well, I am talking about cutting rates from the current absurdly high rates. This would certainly raise more tax not less. At zero percent they might not raise much (but would still be printing money no doubt). They would certainly have a far bigger tax base to tax that is for sure.

        About 25% of GDP is about the right level.

  3. Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    This is heading for a serious disaster. I mean that and I am a Brexiteer.
    For the scholarly and actual point of view of the EU’s position, as opposed to a rosy tinted one, read the Daily Telegraph and Booker’s column please.
    We really could lose 30%of our food imports on 29th March 2019. I am talking of empty shelves and, perhaps, rioting in the streets if the food gets cut off.
    Of course, it could never happen here! We are English! Yesterday I read of how pound notes were blowing about the streets of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia after Mugabe crashed the economy and Rhodesia was the bread basket of Africa.

    Reply Nonsense. They want to sell us food and will doubtless continue to do so. If they don’t, there are plenty of other world suppliers.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Food supplies are really not a problem at all, food is rather cheaper and very readily available from outside the EU. Anyway the EU will clearly want the UK to buy their food and wine (and most people in the UK could benefit from a bit less food anyway).

    • Richard1
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Bookers main point,which he claims is unanswered by the Brexiteers, is the reimposition of tariffs will mean delays and disruption to the current high volume of cross channel trade, disrupting supply chains etc. The govt’s response is to say don’t worry we are introducing a new IT system to make it all automatic so even if there are low tariffs there will be no disruption of flow. It would indeed be a concern if we are reliant on successful delivery of a major public sector IT project, since the history of these is catastrophic in the U.K. Booker proposes joining the EEA and EFTA which secures most of the freedom of being out of the EU but avoids the cliff edge. Difficult to know whether or not Bookers apocalyptic theory is right. What is odd is no one is making a proper detailed refutation of it, just asserting its nonsense. I guess we will find out!

      • David Price
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Who to believe .. and there is no one who can be trusted to give an objective answer, not even the blessed BBC despite it’s charter and the enforced funding.

        I don’t think there is a single gospel so I’m trying to get perspectives from various sources including the Bruges Group, Civitas, Global Britain websites and I’m currently working my way through “Trading on the Future” by Patrick Minford to understand aspects of the WTO/World free trade proposals which would obviate any need of tariff tracking.

      • P2017
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        That new IT system is not going to be ready to deal with a no deal scenario.
        See here: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450415892/Treasury-Committee-confidence-collapse-in-HMRC-customs-IT-system

        The gist of the Booker/North argument is, in my view, correct. The idea the UK would actually be ok in a no deal scenario, when the details are considered, is laughable. As such, we need the least worst transitional agreement. Gentlemen like the one below call that ‘appeasement’. I call it facing the reality of a narrow 2 year timetable and the economic consequences of no deal.

        You’ll hear the usual assertions that USA, China, etc, already trade with the EU with no trade agreements in place, relying on solely WTO terms, so why can’t we?

        These people clearly don’t know how to Google ‘EU treaty database’, or listen to diplomats like Ivan Rodgers; both sources and many others will tell you this assertion made by Mr Redwood and co is incorrect.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          If the practical problem was the capacity of the UK customs system then that would create the famous queues of trucks on the other side of the Channel, not on this side. It would potentially leave us short of imports from the EU but it would leave them even shorter of exports to us. So the government should be preparing contingency plans for bringing in essentials from elsewhere in the world and through alternative points of entry in case the EU does decide to unnecessarily disrupt the present two way trade between them and us, a disruption which could easily be avoided by agreeing to a transitional period during which the trade would continue without customs checks. If that is OK now while we are in the EU then there is no real reason why it should immediately cease to be OK when we leave. Over time there could be regulatory divergence which undermined the basis for trade without any border checks, but not immediately.

        • David Price
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 4:21 am | Permalink

          Of course there will be problems, we are leaving an abusive relationship. The question would be whether the EEA approach as advocated by Booker/North is the only and optimal route. But it starts from the mindset that the EU must be accommodated and they control the process because they are too powerful – there would be indefinite negotiations and we would never leave – ie appeasement.

          Project Fear made clear there would be negative consequences and yet people voted to leave, so the government’s duty is to action that wish in a competent manner. If they screw up then we will be able to replace them, we cannot replace the EU government which is the root of the problem.

          Have you looked at the EU Treaty Database? Many of those treaties have the UK as an independent contracting party. No doubt there are many where we are not that impact us post Article 50, but our elected government will be accountable for these.

      • Antisthenes
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        You have a point bureaucrats have a long history of incompetence and of implementing grand schemes to improve efficiency that are over priced, over budget, late and in the end do not work. Preparing for Brexit without a deal will be no different. Although we have no fear of such an event in the medium to long term in the short term very much so. There will be considerable logistical problems with the moving of goods and services as customs and systems both sides of the border will be ill prepared to deal with the red tape. The answer could be a transitional arrangement whereby the UK becomes and EEA/EFTA member. The downside is that we may then be stuck in that arrangement indefinitely. Not the worst case scenario but for Brexit purists very unpalatable.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        I don’t see how the UK staying in the EEA would in fact do anything to avoid any cliff edge, the underlying assumption. That argument cannot hold water when there is a requirement for customs controls between Sweden, EU and EEA, and Norway, just EEA, as mentioned below.

        Either the EU will agree to make sure that there will be minimal or no holdups at the EU-UK border, in either direction, and if necessary agree to transitional provisions to allow time for infrastructure and other changes to be made, or they will be stupid and/or malicious, that is all.

        But given that once the UK is outside the EU it will be regarded as a “third country”, like Norway, and it will be outside the EU customs union, like Norway, it will make no difference in that respect whether or not the UK is still in the EEA.

        Here’s a relevant snippet from Barnier back in January:

        http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-norway-barnier-idUKKBN1591TO

        “… the interests of third countries closely associated with the EU, such as Norway and other EEA countries, Iceland and Liechtenstein”

        It will be withdrawal from the EU itself which will make the UK a “third country” as far as the EU is concerned, not withdrawal from the EEA, and it is a fallacy to suppose that could be avoided by staying in the EEA.

      • forthurst
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        The Customs Declaration Services IT system under devel0pment has been flagged Amber/Red (from Green last November) by the Treasury Select Committee.

        Of note is the fact that HMRC has recently been ‘tightening’ the rules for IR35, as a result of which many contractors working on the that self-same project have walked out. The same problem is bound to afflict those working on the CDS system. HMRC need to get it into their thick heads that a significant proportion of IT contractors have higher levels of experience and ability than the permanent staffs doing the same kind of work and if they take up permanent work it will not be to report to people at a lower level than when they themseves left permanent employment thus the chances of a typical government project being successfully completed will tend towards zero as there will be nobody available to cover for those who do more harm than good.

    • David Price
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      I read that article, it is written from the perspective of appeasement, that the only way to stop the playground bully picking on you is to continue giving over some of your lunch money. It is effectively a continuation of Project Fear and “scholarly” it isn’t.

      If we were not an EU member and were looking to establish a trade agreement do you think we would ever accept the EU dictating the political and economic controls they impose with EEA/associate membership? Do you think these would be acceptable to the US or Canada or Japan? If not then why do you and your “scholarly” Flexcit friends demand we acquiesce?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Dear David–It’s because according to them the fact that the EU is our biggest market trumps everything else–They need to learn that while exports and trade are important they are not what the country feels most strongly about–And that’s ignoring the 85% rest of the world.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply : Perhaps as a punishment to ensure the survival of the political bloc.

      What I don’t understand (perhaps Mike could illuminate here)

      How could Britain (particularly London) end up in such a state whilst leaving the rest of the world unaffected ? £70bn a year trade deficit on top of £250m a week membership fee… it’s a big hit on the EU. “They can look for other markets” but we can’t ?

      If we were worried about a few banks, the PIIG economies… sorry to sound repetitive.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        One would hope that our existing trade was because the goods were the best available, in both directions.

        Both sides will end up with inferior baskets therefore.

        We are being bullied by a spiteful political anti-democracy.

        Where is the EU going ? Everyone criticises Brexit but where the hell is the EU going ???

        What is it prepared to do to get there ? And what will it do when it does ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Reading Booker’s column, here:

      https://behindthepaywallblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/our-brexit-illusions-are-about-to-be-shattered/

      I see he is blindly persisting with the fallacy that by being in the EEA Norway avoids border controls on its trade with the EU:

      “Up will go border controls on all our frontiers with the EU (including that in Northern Ireland). The days when 12,000 trucks a day could cross freely from Dover to Calais, and much else, will be over … That is precisely why some of us have long tried to point out that the only conceivably sensible way for us to leave the EU, wholly desirable though that is, would be to have remained in the EEA and to join Norway in the European Free Trade Area (Efta).”

      He only has to read what Open Europe recently said about Norway’s border with Sweden, page 48 here:

      http://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/economic-policy-and-trade/nothing-to-declare-a-plan-for-uk-eu-trade-outside-the-customs-union/

      “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 … ”

      Both countries are in the EEA, but Sweden is also in the EU while Norway is not; so the border between the two is one of the external borders of the EU and therefore of the EU Customs Union, and therefore there are customs checks; however this has clearly not proved to be an insuperable problem.

      With the political will legal and practical ways can be found to ensure that the present easy and well-organised trade between the UK and the rest of the EU will continue uninterrupted and unimpeded, and if any government seeks to disrupt that trade it will certainly not be the UK government.

    • stred
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      The UK could keep to zero tariffs on essential food imports at the time of leaving, making inspections of these minimal. Lorries should be inspected anyway in order to check for illegal immigration. If Macron insists on doing so in Dover and no pre-checks in Calais, then the queues and rotting produce will be for him to explain. We should only pay on delivery. The producers will call to see him with their secateurs before much time passes and the French farmers will be dumping milk on the Champs Elysee.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        If they want to slap 46% tariffs on our exports of dairy products then we should slap at least 46% tariffs on their very much greater exports of dairy products to us. That would raise the cost of those imports for UK consumers and so hurt their sales to our market, which would serve them right for being so stupid and malicious, but as the customs duties would go to the UK government there could be a corresponding reduction in the burden on UK taxpayers. As for the deficiencies in supply, they could be made up by domestic producers and alternative foreign producers. It is really their choice whether they want to keep us as their very good, willing and reliable customers or they would prefer us to shop elsewhere.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; Does Mrs May have that in writing, signed by the EU and all EU27, or is that just an assertion on your part? Even if they do want to sell us their food, at what price, if the UK really is risk of food shortages (due to a totally ham-fisted Brexit) then the EU27 will be able to state their own prices (with perhaps tariffs on top) – so no food shortages, just inflation not seen since the mid 1970s.

      The UK is in danger of making the same fundamental mistake with Brexit as we did when the Empire was being converted into the Commonwealth, arrogance that the UK is so important that other countries will bend over backwards whilst jumping through fire-hoops to trade with us.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        The mistake remainers make is thinking that politicians can interfere in the way modern trade happens.
        It’s not the EU nor the UK Government that can stop hundreds of millions of consumers buying products and services from all over the world.

        If for example French wine producers wish to continue to offer their wine for sale and UK consumers want to purchase it, then it will happen.
        Any politicians who try to stop that happening will find themselves soon voted out.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          @Edward2; Nonsense, you appear clueless as to how tariffs work. 🙁

          • Edward2
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

            If we offer a tariff free trade deal do you think France will say no?
            The difference on a bottle of French wine of adding a tariff will make little difference to sales.
            But consumers in the UK may decide to switch to non EU produced wines if they seem better value.
            PS
            Having worked in companies for many years exporting all over the world I can say I’m reasonably informed on tariffs.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 2, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; More to the point, if the EU offer tariff free trade to the UK just so long as we convert our membership to either EFTA/EEA, keep freedom of movement, perhaps even join Schengen (to keep parity with other countries), and what ever else they wish would the fundamentalist Brexiteers accept that or would they call for WTO rules?

            When will some realise that it is the EU who has all the high value cards in their hand the UK has nothing but Jokers.

            Anyway, it matter not one jot what France says if Spain (or any of the other member states) disagrees. You might or might not know about tariffs, what’s clear from reading your comments is that you have zero knowledge of how the EU works. You also see to think that the EU27 do not have any other possible markets beyond the UK!

    • Mark B
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Mike, calm yourself. Whilst I agree that this whole thing is heading for disaster, I am sure many people will try to avert it. Common sense will win out in the end. The EU will be forced to bend and break some rules for the greater good – they have form on this.

    • Gavin Hardy
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Mike Stallard, food riots in the street? I trust this is tongue in cheek. If anyone, for one moment, thinks that trade between UK and EU will cease on the stroke of midnight …(words fail).

      As for Pound notes in Zimbabwe post Mugabe? The Rhodesian Dollar was introduced in the early ’60’s and became the Zimbabwean Dollar – which probably did blow down the streets.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      “We really could lose 30%of our food imports on 29th March 2019. I am talking of empty shelves and, perhaps, rioting in the streets if the food gets cut off.”

      The EU’s five presidents, and many Remainers, may be happily dreaming this will happen and there may well be some temporary disruption to trade, as we have experienced many times already when the French go on strike in Calais.

      But in the end, our trade with the EU is so vast (with the EU selling £100bn/year more to us than we sell back to them) that the EU suppliers to the UK will need to keep selling in order to keep their businesses afloat and their workers and suppliers paid.

      Especially EU suppliers of perishable goods which cannot just be laid up in a field whilst another buyer is found.

      However, if there is “rioting in the streets”, if the EU cuts off our food, then as a “third country” I would hope that the EU will be providing us with food aid.

  4. A Briton
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    What disturbs me most in all this is that the Government appears to be stepping back from withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights at this time believing that,with all the other points on the table, it will just make it more complex and difficult in other words ‘one step at a time’. If we don’t withdraw from HCHR the EU will still control our Sovereignty after we have left and they will make sure they will control us in that way and THAT they will deem to be our punishment because they know that that is the one thing that we want back.

    Reply The ECHR is not an EU Court. Their court is the ECJ whose jurisdiction we will leave.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      We need to leave both. Are UK judges considered to be so poor that they are not competent to rule on such matters, without the ECHR to overrule them? Decisions made as close to the coal face as possible are usually best.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        @LL; On that rational the UK should also withdraw from the UN and by extension the International Court of Justice…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          Well the UK may get some benefit from those courts and the UK may thus choose not to. I cannot see any benefit at all from arising to the UK from the ECHR at all that cannot be got from UK judgements. Our judges can always observe their ruling, but why subject our UK courts to their “superior” higher level of judgement?

    • James Matthews
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply. Yes, but we still need to withdraw from the ECHR. Otherwise we will continue to find ourselves forced to give votes to convicted criminal who are still serving their sentences, still blocked from deporting foreign criminals for all kinds of spurious reasons and thwarted from running our own society in our own way in a host of other ways.

      On reciprocal rights for EU nationals, they should emphatically not include voting rights for adults or nationality rights for children born here, otherwise we will quickly find that demographic change leads us straight back into the EU (in the same way as it is expected by Irish nationalists to lead to a United Ireland).

      That means rights to vote in local as well as national elections. Corbyn’s offer of a unilateral guarantee of rights to EU nationals is clearly directed towards the elections in May, not those in June.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      Without leaving the ECHR and repealing the ‘human’ rights act, it will be impossible to control third world immigration, running at replacement levels, which presumably is its purpose. From the ‘right to family life’, whole villages. where everyone is everyone’s ‘cousin’ have been imported once one individual has breached our sievelike borders.

      Our system of English law built up over a millenium affords all the reasonable protections a subject needs; what is required is to remove those protections which Englishmen do not enjoy which enable an Englishman to be incarcerated because someone purports to be offended by what he has said, whether or not it is true.

      We will not be free even after we leave the EU until those laws which deny the right to freedom of thought and speech have been expunged from the statute book.

    • A Briton
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Noted and thanks for the clarification

  5. Len Grinds
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    David Davies promised us the exact same trade benefits as we have right now after Brexit.
    Liam Fox promised us an array of new trade deals the day we leave the EU.
    Boris Johnson promised us £350 million a week for the NHS.
    You all promised us less immigration.
    You all promised us taking back control, yet now we see that the UK is totally at the mercy of a strong and united bloc of 27, all of which have a veto over the Brexit deal.
    The calling to account of the Brexiteers continues and will never stop.

    Reply We will take back control of our money, our borders and our laws as advertised. Leave never promised things that could be blocked by the EU (e.g. tariff free trade), and always pointed out what actually happens when you take back control depends on what Parliament and people decide to do with their new powers and freedoms.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      I think it is the other way round. All that has widespread support in the UK is friendly political relations with other EU countries, ease of travel for business tourism and study, and free trade. It is abundantly clear that Remain could not – and still can’t – provide any coherent explanation as to why these things require subordination of the UK’s Parliament and courts to an EU supra-national govt with an ever expanding remit of control.

    • David Price
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      As members of the EU we are currently “at the mercy” of the 27 with no room for manoeuvre. By leaving their control is greatly reduced and we have much greater freedom of action.

      Or do you want Merkel et al to dictate all aspects of our daily lives?

      • Mark B
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Correct !

        Currently the EU Commission is the only body that can negotiate trade deals and speak for all 28 member countries. None can speak for themselves, including the UK. Once out of the EU we will be able to take our place on the Top-top international tables along side the EU Commission with the remaining 27 member countries sitting outside waiting on what has been discussed and agreed.

    • sm
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      If you believe the EU is a ‘strong and united bloc of 27’, you are gazing through heavily rose-tinted spectacles. Greece continues to be an economic basket case, Italy and Spain have major banking problems, France is in desperate need of reforms that Macron will have extreme difficulty in imposing, Hungary is turning nasty and is being reprimanded by Brussels, Germany’s economic policies benefits itself but harms its neighbours, while the Euro is on a life-support system.

      • rose
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Hungary isn’t turning nasty: it is the EU which is turning nasty. Hungary just wants to survive as a nation but the EU wants it dissolved as a nation, just like all its other European nations.

        • Mark B
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Then Hungary should leave. If not, they should stop complaining and continue to take their ‘pocket money’.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      The right of veto is one of the EU’s great weaknesses. It is too big, complex and sclerotic to be able to make a decision.

      • Robert Christopher
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        You are correct: it is too big, complex and sclerotic to be able to make a decision. In fact, I would say consistent sane decisions.

        Its weakness is due to having no demos, so that Democracy is impossible, and this deficiency is hidden in plain sight by offering a veto to the disparate factions, which can be overruled when Germany has made up its mind.

        • Mark B
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          And that is by design. Demos = Popularist

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Len Grinds – Remaining in the EU would have been a green light to a Federal EU of which the UK would be a small voice that always gets outvoted by QMV. Tax levels set by and paid to Brussels.

      Is that what you want?

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Len Grinds

      We have two choices – both forced upon us by the EU: We leave entirely or we become a colony of the EU.

      Remain never had to list their promises, so were never held to account:

      – Ever closer union
      – Fiscal union
      – Redistributive taxation
      – Ever more immigration
      – Joining the Euro
      – The EU Army
      – Complete dissolution of nation states and the abolition of England
      – Expansionism, expansionism, expansionism…

      The only people in denial about *hard* Brexit are Remainers.

      The rest of us are choosing Theresa May because she said Brexit means Brexit and that is why she is riding high.

      • Len Grinds
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 5:24 am | Permalink

        You are badly mistaken.
        All the things you list are either subject to a UK veto (eg tax, army) or are matters where we have an opt out (euro) or are simply silly fictions (abolition of England).
        Currently we are an EU member state with full trading rights and exclusion from the core political project. What is not to like?

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          “Currently we are an EU member state with full trading rights and exclusion from the core political project. What is not to like?”

          Ultimately business drives politics:

          In business it must be a win win scenario for both parties if you wish to prosper as a business. If you have real knowledge of the workings of international business you will fully understand this. As it stands we have a very unequal business relationship with the EU. Import/Export disparity!

          “full trading rights” are inequitable if we must pay a substantial fee to join an EU politically driven trading club that places the EU in an advantageous trading position to the detriment of our businesses and citizens?

          Please elucidate in a clear and erudite manner how we benefit from the EU?

          So far, your unsubstantiated soundbites are somewhat tiresome!

          ….and yes I do run an international business in Europe/Globally and speak from 30+ years of experience trading with our European partners.

          These trading partners do not see the EU in the same light as yourself. At the coalface: In their own words, Brexit could become a catalyst to improving business relationships along the old lines originally defined by an “open” common market, as apposed to being hijacked for a political ideology!

          There is much not to like about a politically motivated EU construct, which as it stands, is to the detriment of the majority!

        • Edward2
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Not after Qualified Majority Voting comes in soon.

          • Len Grinds
            Posted May 2, 2017 at 4:55 am | Permalink

            I know checking facts is not the done thing among Europhobes, but do please be aware that our vetos and opt outs are locked into the Treaty, and cannot be changed unless all members, including the UK, agree to the change

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          You seem to be saying we already had *soft* Brexit.

          Well why didn’t anyone tell us !

          Then those Leave voters (who all wanted *soft* Brexit according to Miller et al) would have voted Remain.

          This site is ‘Speaking for England’ because it is being written out of the picture. Most of us realise it isn’t actually the EU’s fault. It is our own Europhile politicians doing it.

    • libertarian
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Les Grinds

      “David Davies promised us the exact same trade benefits as we have right now after Brexit.”

      He better not !!! As a businessman one of the reasons I voted for Brexit is I’m sick and tired of the so called single market, protectionist, customs union. I absolutely DO NOT want the same deal

  6. alan jutson
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Yes common-sense will eventually come to those who were/are playing the punishment argument.

    The EU is slowly but surely realising that they will damage their economies and workforce on a huge scale, if they do not come up with sensible trading arrangements with the UK.

    Yes we can expect the French to hold up our exports to the EU in long lines of traffic for a bit, as that is the French way.
    They recently did the same to Spain over cheap wine, but eventually I am sure we will overcome that sort of action, with sensible negotiation or retaliation of some sort.

    The EU have still not yet decided on a policy of who is going to pay up to make up our annual net contributions, that is already it seems, to be turning some of the 27 Countries against further contributions being required.

    Our arguments need to be strong, but sensible, as does our will in any negotiation, but we should still be prepared to walk away if a sensible arrangement for the UK cannot be forthcoming.

  7. Newmania
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Does it really help any case to spreads this sort of disinformation? I really wonder of some of these posts might not be rather embarrassing to the Brexit side.
    A shudder of apprehension should have gripped anyone who wants the best for the this country . The Unity of the EU( which Mr Redwood has previously said did not exist) was routinely reaffirmed . The certainty this country will suffer , blandly re –stated for the umpteenth time and the vast bill Mr Redwood wishes my children to pay for his bizarre fixation was unquestioned .
    There will be a price and there will be no section access to the single market. That spells disaster for manufacturing and services . Quite how it could be worse defeats me
    I spent most of yesterday discussing Brexit with passers-by and will do up to the GE ( at the w/e).
    The only hope people seem to be clinging to is that someone will pull us out of this Kamikaze dive and at least give us all time to adjust.
    Mr Redwood may seem an unlikely axe wielding barbarian but he is tearing down civilisation surely as the illiterate Vandals who took Rome and began the world`s first dark age .

    • Edward2
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Hysterical nonsense.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      I hope you told Brexit voters what you really thought of them (as you do here.)

    • Richard1
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Is there no civilisation outside the EU?

      • zorro
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Clearly not in Newmania’s rather bizarre alternative universe…. no trade, no production of goods or economic activity, the Earth is probably flat too!

        zorro

  8. agricola
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Please try to understand, the EU is a political body with it’s own agenda that is not necessarily in the interests of it’s nation states or their people. The banking shambles of the EU and the grotesque unemployment figures are witness to this. Had the EU any sense of responsibility for all it’s citizens it would not have allowed itself to incorporate so many unsuitable nations.

    However as you state the EU are the Brexit negotiating body. It is EU doctrines they will be defending , not necessarily the interests of the nation states. This despite all the signs across the EU that their doctrine is not only not working , but the people are moving against it. We should negotiate for our own interests and those of the nation states as this is where we are likely to find agreement. It is then up to the nation states to control the EU in their own interests.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Excellent comment!

  9. Chris S
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately I do not share your optimism although I bow to your inside knowledge.

    Perhaps you could move the post I submitted yesterday to this topic where it is more appropriate ? It is repeated below, unaltered.

    Thanks

    Thinking ahead, it is looking increasingly likely that we will not be able to reach any kind of reasonable deal with the EU 27.

    The arrogance on display from EU capitals, and in particular Berlin and Paris, as well as the EU establishment in Brussels, has led to escalating demands of the UK. These proponents of harsh Brexit are being roundly cheered on from the sidelines by MEPs like Verhofstadt.

    What is now being proposed : the entirely unrealistic capital sums being bandied about and the suggestion that we should be required to suffer extended subjugation to the ECJ, is simply not deliverable by any British Government.

    Then there is the irreconciliable demand that there be no visible border with the Irish Republic yet no free trade deal. Tariffs require borders so the only option is Free Trade. That is what the British and Irish government want but Merkel and others are saying that we must not be allowed these benefits of membership when outside the Bloc.

    Even though tariffs would adversely damage Merkel’s large manufacturing trade surplus with us as well as French andf Italian agriculture, they seem very unlikely to allow it. Merkel in particular is so frightened of contagion that she cannot see the logic. But then this is the woman that closed down all her nuclear power stations through fear.

    Politically the 27 have inexorably been painted themselves into a corner so a typical EU fudge seems impossible. I cannot see how this can end well.

    Even if a way forward was found, with expectations on the EU side so high, the European Parliament is very likely to vote down any deal that is not punitive in the extreme.

    It is essential that we identify and prepare for the consequences of leaving without a deal. We know that David Davies is working on this but as it is such an important issue, should we not be discussing it in depth here ?

    • rose
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      “But then this is the woman that closed down all her nuclear power stations through fear.” Through fear of huge earthquakes and tidal waves.

      • stred
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Rose. Earthquakes and tidal waves 300 miles up the Rhine from the sea. decided over a weekend. She can’t be much of a scientist. More of a vicar’s daughter who uses emotion instead of logic. As for inviting anyone claiming to be a refugee to come on over, the mind boggles.

        The Germans do seem to go for barmy politicians and stay with them until it is obviously going a bit wrong.

        • rose
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Yes, barmy, but still better than Schulz. What a mess we are in. If I hear her autocratically laying down the law against once independent nations with the phrase “Our European values…” once more, I shall throw up.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Nicely stated…..however, this could all be a double bluff and actually facilitates the EU’s second hidden agenda to remove the troublesome UK, which was never intrinsically a EU supporter. “If we can’t have the UK money, what is their purpose?” Ahh the blessings of the Nineteen Eighty-Four prophecy!

  10. james Neill
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It’s as they say- the movement of people and the cost for financial commitments will have to be agreed and settled first. I also have a strange idea that some of the frontline UK ministers like Davis and Boris could be changed out after the election- and it might be that senior civil servants are Co-opted in instead to lead the negotiations for the UK side- I’d feel happier with this as I don’t think David Davis is the man for the job- the EU side looks very seriously heavy

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Why do you think “it’s as they say”?

      Where in the treaties does it say that?

      http://europa.eu/european-union/law/treaties_en

      “The European Union is based on the rule of law. This means that every action taken by the EU is founded on treaties that have been approved voluntarily and democratically by all EU member countries … “

      • Jon p
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Wrong denis.. the EU is a political beast.. it makes laws to suit the EU politics, so for this reason the political business of the negotiations will far outweigh the importance of the economics.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          Then let us make sure that every government around the world fully understands that the EU is not a trustworthy partner.

        • zorro
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          We don’t have to abide by that which is not in the treaties, or what they cook up. You say NO and turn off the “Kool-Aid”…. Simple as tha…..

          zorro

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Who better than David Davis do you suggest? Not that much sensible talant in the Tories to choose from, perhaps at best about ten others who are sound and could do it.

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        John Redwood springs to mind?

  11. C Barker
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I would think that the UK owns 10% plus of the capital assets of the EU, in particular the many buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg & Luxembourg. Will the EU pay a fair price for our share of these assets? Otherwise we could consider selling such shareholdings to other interested parties – e.g. hedge funds, international companies, etc.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed thanks to varous idiotic EUphile, UK governments and PMs we have part funded all sorts of EU buildings and other insanities. Any payment needs to be made to the UK, certainly not from the UK to the EU.

    • Len Grinds
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

      Nonsense. The EU owns 100% of its capital assets. If the UK chooses to leave the EU, then it gives up completely its claims

      • Mark
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        The real assets we have are our shareholdings in the EIB and ECB. Since we are no longer permitted to be shareholders in either when we leave, those institutions must refund us our shares and cancel them.

        • stred
          Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps we should stop making payments until we are sure these assets will be repaid, for 2 years and with a promise to settle the account properly when the account is settled, as with unreliable commercial firms who have been sending unreasonable claims.

          • rose
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

            A very wise suggestion. Ask the Turks about the EU keeping its financial undertakings.

          • Len Grinds
            Posted May 2, 2017 at 4:58 am | Permalink

            Well, why don’t you try that?
            It is what Mrs May tried a couple of days ago. And was met with derision.
            Have you yet grasped that Mr Redwood’s promises about how we would have the whip hand in the talks are so much hot air?

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        That works both way!

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted May 2, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        If ownership of the assets is nonsense Len then so are claims for liabilities. It is either a club where ownership and liability go hand in hand or a political construct where they don’t. It can not be both.

  12. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I have a distinct deja vu feeling. I do not share your reading between the lines, the EU has become a socialist union with individual members reluctant or even financially scared to stand up to the principals. We have made a mistake by not guaranteeing UK, not EU, rights to EU citizens in employment here on 23/06/16 and puts us on the back foot. It would be cheaper to compensate any UK passport holder living in the EU who loses out in our leaving rather than start a process of giving ground. Their reported red lines are laughable even as opening gambits. In any commercial walk of life the response would be “see you in court” and not the ECJ.

  13. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    The united front of the EU is likely to be eroded with time, as personnel on the front line change and the reality of trade tariffs works through the arguments.
    The EU religion of free movement of people will be evident to the people of Europe as a blind faith and set the EU leaders at odds with the people they profess to serve.

  14. Mark B
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    They seem unsure that they can hold it together as single voice and view, so they tell the other member states that they are not to talk Brexit with the UK individually. This seems both petty and unenforceable.

    Only the Commission can negotiate for the other 27. It is written in the Treaties.

    As for, Security, it is not part of the leaving process no more than establishing trade links. You cannot have one without the other.

    We are negotiating our terms of exit from the EU and things such as EU financial commitments and assets, citizens rights, both EU and non-EU should be discussed.

    • Andy
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      As the UK will be a ‘Third Country’ aren’t the rights of other EU States citizens in teh UK a matter for bi-lateral agreements ??

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The EU has a developing common immigration and asylum policy. The UK, Ireland and also Denmark have opt-outs, but the rest do not. That is why they rebuffed May’s earlier attempts to get bi-lateral agreements and so have left their citizens and ours with unnecessarily prolonged uncertainty.

    • Mark
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      You are talking of Article 207 agreements. There are special arrangements for Article 50 that give the EU Council the powers.

  15. NickC
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    JR said: “… a trade agreement cannot be discussed until the leaving agreement has been hammered out …”

    Whilst a “leaving agreement” might be diplomatically tidy, there is nothing to negotiate about the fact of the UK leaving the EU.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    That the EU has forbidden its individual member countries to hold separate meetings with us is an admission of weakness . The EU knows full well that the likes of Denmark , Holland , Belgium and Portugal , want to maintain a realistic working relationship with us ; above all they will not treat likely to being told what and what not to do . The centre of the EU is short on meaningful and effective leadership ; they do not match our skills in a number of ways and are afraid of any sort of split in their ranks .

    I get regular and reliable accounts of life within the EU from Slovakia . There is no doubt that since the introduction of the Euro into their mainstream life they have become disenchanted with the controls the cost of living and disciplines forced upon them . They and Poland really would be better off out .

    • rose
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      And Hungary.

      • rose
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Hungary were the first to identify themselves as a nation wanting to escape from the USSR.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Certainly the UK government could and should respond to this EU document, and to all the other EU propaganda, and it should do so by belatedly launching its own vigorous campaign of counter propaganda. Day after day the EU and national governments of other member states, especially Germany, feed their false anti-UK propaganda view to the world media, and especially to the appeasers in the UK media, and it is becoming increasingly frustrating that there are no rebuttals from our side, let alone any retaliation. They have chosen to treat this as a war, albeit a war of words, so why is our government not on a war footing?

    • James Matthews
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Fully Concur. The EU position is that it will be dictating terms, not negotiating. If that is really the case we should devote our efforts to preparing for exit without agreement, not waste our time and energy on a war of delay and attrition.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      In France and Germany a sizeable proportion of the population have sympathy with us.

      This is according to friends in both. I back it up with this:

      The EU may pop Champagne corks over beating Wilders/Le Pen but that they can be a threat indicates that all is not well in the EU and nor will the underlying resentment go away.

      A private business with such a disapproval rating would have gone bust decades ago.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Setting a Sprat to catch a Mackerel. They want a argument. All the time we are keeping our power dry we are frustrating them.

      At least that is what I think.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        A good question as to whether or not to keep powder dry or respond.
        Strange how they are setting the rules and timetables. A very Teutonic approach. As you say, we’re probably best to wait and let them “dream on” that we’ll meet their schedules, meantime working up our one and only deal which they’ll need to accept. Avery “un-Cameron” approach, which should work in this negotiation.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      If you read the German Bild Zeitung (Sun equivalent) then perhaps yes. However, if you read the Frankfurter Allgemeine (Times equivalent) or Deutsche Welle (political/current affair articles) for example, they have a reasonably balanced viewpoint without the hysterical nonsense most prevalent in the UK MSM publications.

      I have just come back from a three week trip to Germany….there appears to be no such hysterical nonsense being played out in their MSM? Germans on the whole seem rather sanguine to the impending departure of the UK and based on my family, friends and colleagues in Germany are a little envious of the UK! Contrasting that, there is real hidden dissent in the air, but German citizens are treading carefully!

      I could provide a rather deeper interesting analysis of Germany, as a German speaker married to a German and with substantial insider knowledge, however, as John has pointed out “brevity is king”

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    http://facts4eu.org/news_apr_2017.shtml#eu_holds_citizens_hostage

    “It is important to stress that the EU has unilaterally decided that – even if agreement were swiftly reached on citizens’ rights – the EU27 will sign nothing without an agreement on all the other areas which the EU has decided to include in ‘Phase 1’ of the negotiations.

    In other words, all the bluster from the EU about putting citizens first is simply a PR exercise. It is very important that the UK doesn’t lose this PR battle. The British government must start putting out statements explaining that it attempted to discuss and agree the citizens’ rights question in December last year, but was rebuffed. This is not known by the public of the EU27 countries.

    The government must also make it clear to all citizens in the EU that it is ready to do a deal on this, but that the EU is insisting on tying this matter to a whole range of completely unconnected issues, before they will sign anything.”

    • stred
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      They should also quickly sort out the mess being made by Mrs May’s old ministry, which is leading to EU citizens, married with children here and important jobs, being told that they have no right to stay because of technicalities with NI. Presumably, this is not being addressed because the ridiculous policy was put into operation by the PM.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        I saw a comment from somebody who had bothered to download the 85 page and supposedly horrendous form to apply for permanent residence which is often mentioned, so I did the same:

        https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/505032/EEA_PR__03-16.pdf

        A lot of it is actually explanations and instructions on which bits to complete and how, and for somebody who already been here for years it should not be as difficult as some are making out. On the other hand it is a standard form for both EEA and non-EEA nationals last updated in March 2016, which could have very easily been adapted and simplified to deal with the specific situation of just EEA nationals which had been created by the referendum result, if our civil servants had thought to do that rather than just sending out the standard form.

        • rose
          Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          I know someone with very little English who managed it all. She didn’t use a lawyer either.

          • stred
            Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            They are being refused irrespective of form filling because of missing NI contributions when not working as housewives. The regulations were changed while Mrs may was in charge.

    • Chris S
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      As usual, Denis, you have gone straight to the heart of the matter.

      So much of what the EU says is bluff and bluster. Nobody who has followed events in Brussels for any length of time can possibly believe that this wafer-thin illusion of unity will last beyond the first round of talks.

      Our Government have kept quiet over the matter of citizens’ rights for fear of upsetting Merkel and Co. Most people in the UK know that she alone is responsible for this not having been sorted in January.

      Such is the domination of Germany in today’s EU that leaders of the states with large numbers of people living in the UK have been equally reticent to criticise her for being so obstructive. But then they have been equally quiet over the migrant problem which she inflicted on the whole of the continent.

      It’s ironic that an organisation whose entire original purpose was to constrain Germany has, thanks to the Euro, evolved into a Union that has allowed Germany to become totally dominant.

      Only in this morning’s Telegraph we learnt from Yanis Varoufakis that Merkel forced Hollande to stop his Finance Minister from proposing a solution to the Greek debt crisis she didn’t approve of. The minister in question was Macon.

    • Jason wells
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Denis cooper..the uk has already lost the PR battle a long time ago..it lost it when UK politicians took to hurling personal insults across the floor ot the EU parliament..it lost the PR battle when the gutter tabloid press did its utmost to humiliate EU institutions and political figures over decades..so even if, by some road to damascus conversion, we changed our minds now and wanted back in, the EU would throw up so many roadblocks that it would be quite impossible..all that is left now is for the negotiations to begin so that hopefully we can salvage some of the pieces..brexit means brexit..and the average eu person cares not two hoots about uk PR..guaranteed.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        The EU is showing us that we made the right decision.

      • hefner
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        JW: Indeed, in France, there is a weekly magazine, Courrier International, which collates articles from the international press and translates them to French. From the UK, some of the most offensive Daily Mail items, and a large number of Telegraph ones have often been published in it, starting with the referendum campaign and continuing to this day.
        Given that this magazine is used in some schools to widen the views of 14-16 year olds as part of geography/history/citizenship teaching, I guess (at least some) French youngsters might not get the best impression of the UK. That’s the problem with the tabloid press. The UK media think they provide their wares to the UK people, but through this magazine’s and the other media’s websites, they project farther a not too appealing image of the UK.
        Moreover a non negligible of continental people can (at least) read English and make their own mind on Brexit.
        So indeed some continentals might be fed up with the EU. However it is not obvious to me that they would obviously back Britain in the coming Brexit negotiations.

    • Mark
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      We could suggest to the EU that since the migrant issue is so important, and can only provide certainty once it is resolved via a concluded agreement, that it should be separated out and put on a fast track for agreement either outside Article 50 as a stand alone, or as a separate Article 50 agreement without prejudice to further agreements on other topics. It is of course the EU27 who have refused to discuss it so far.

    • David Price
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      This is a key point well made by the facts4eu people. The UK government needs to provide a clear and transparent publication of it’s position, for avoidance of doubt on who is blocking this process.

  19. bigneil
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Merkel was constantly on about “free movement” of people. I assume that was purely meant as a one-way thing. The million she invited in, she did not want. She hoped that they could all come here ( and be a burden to us) after she had ordered the Schengen wall come down.
    Now she is on about us guaranteeing the “rights” of the EU citizens here. I am very very suspicious that something will be written in to any Leave agreement, from their side, that ANY of the millions of EU citizens will be included and that means they would ALL have the right to come here after the actual Leave becomes We’ve Left ! Or in plain English – – Free Movement.
    Also, she could be scared of us turfing out the East European “travellers” who have blessed our housing, our benefits offices, our schools and our NHS with their presence.

  20. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Interesting views of C. Booker in todays Telegraph. The nightmare of 12000 trucks daily delayed from Dover to Calais.
    He makes no mention that a large number are foreign owned and returning empty. What about the 12000 trucks Calais to Dover.
    Will they sail through unimpeded. After all the ones coming to Britain are all full especially those with perishables.
    We are always told it’s the UK that will suffer and the EU will March on regardless.
    This is after all a zero sum game very much in out favour. Don’t tell anyone will you.

  21. Antisthenes
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    My view is that the EU is living in a fantasy world or they are just lining up their big guns in a show of strength. It is wondrous to behold the EU’s position on the reciprocal rights of expatriates. They are making a statement that more or less that the UK made months ago and behaving as if it is something new and uniquely theirs. Which points to them also having a perverse and obtuse approach to Brexit.

    If they stick to their current negotiation schedule, conditions, demands and an unshakeable faith that the unity of 27 states, Brussels and EU parliament can be maintained then I see no possibility of a Brexit deal. They need to be careful as that outcome may throw up many practical difficulties for the UK in the short term but it will do far worse for the EU. In fact it may bring about it’s demise as all the inherent and systemic weaknesses that it has will certainly be put on display and a serious internal fall out is a very considerable possibility.

  22. Iain Moore
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The British media, notably the BBC , is in danger of becoming a reincarnation of Lord Haw Haw, where they uncritically parrot any statement that comes out of Brussels, while crawling over any British Government statement on Brexit , and publicising to the n’th degree. Brussels doesn’t need to do any work on any weaknesses on the British Brexit position for the British media has all done it for them.

    • E.S Tablishment
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Iain Moore
      The BBC in danger of becoming a “reincarnation of Lord Haw Haw” is perhaps a bridge too far. I understand your point though. I think the BBC is fine, actually. I just think they should not be financed from the public purse. If we wish to be lied to so comprehensively and intimately then we can seek the services of a lady of the night.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps “a bridge too far”, but only just!

    • Mark B
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Our position is not weak. And time is on our side.

    • anon
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Still prefer the simple solution of exit and no deal .

      Plan on that basis.
      No payments post leaving. They have the ECB to print euros.

      Build up our national capacities like our ports and navy etc and ensure we have “gentleman agreements “ with commonwealth countries & others for immediate effect. They can be refined later.

      We should trade with the EU on an interim WTO basis.
      We should have a proactive trade & foreign aid policy which should be available to non-eu countries whose trade is destabilized by the EU intransigence and wish to trade with UK under WTO terms or other agreement based on say pre EU terms.

      We want no EU (law by external decree) by the back door!

  23. RupertP
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    For the UK to maintain negotiating leverage with the EU, it must ensure its alternative option (walking away with no deal) is credible. Why is the UK government doing so little to get the country to actively prepare for this possibility? The UK would have a much stronger negotiating hand if the country was fully prepared for a no deal outcome.

    It is self-evident from the EU’s position on the timing of the start of trade talks that the EU’s strategy will be to run down the clock to the 2 year EU exit deadline so that the UK is backed into a corner and feels it has no alternative but to accept whatever awful terms the EU put before us. On the one hand the EU tells us that trade talks take years whilst on the other they refuse to even begin discussing trade until we agree to cough up enough money to avoid any cuts in existing EU budgets after we leave, at least up until 2020 anyway.

    It is monstrous that the EU gets away with its tactic of strict sequencing of discussions without so much as any criticism from the UK government or the UK media, as the policy serves no purpose other than to make it more difficult for the UK to achieve agreement with the EU within the 2 year timescale envisaged.

  24. Barbara Stevens
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry John but your trust in the EU is much more than mine..they have consistently made threats and Mrs May as been generous and shown restraint..but now having on the table Northern Ireland and Gibraltar is not on.. these are internal affairs for the UK government..and should be removed as non-negotiable. And Mrs May should be prepared to walk away if they continue their stance and all monies cease…no country should be blackmailed..as it seems we are on several fronts..

    • Mark
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps we should point out that we have operated the Common Travel Area with Ireland far longer than the EU has been in existence, and that should the Irish (or indeed anyone else) decide to leave the EU, they could count on a friendly attitude from the UK.

  25. Upstairs &Downstairs
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I worked in the coalmines of Yorkshire with a guy in his past who had to doff his cap literally when speaking “”Upstairs” ( UP,out of the pit )…”in The Office” to the Mine manager. He laughed telling us. I never laughed in the pit, just listened. Figured some one had to tell it.Someday. Coalminers weren’t into writing. They had work to do.
    So why does our government doff OUR cap to this EU unelected top brass?Why do we wait with worry what Mr EU is going to tell us, what THEIR agenda is?
    Wi don’t care what their agenda is!

  26. Go
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    So what!
    We should set them a calendar of results to individual negotiations. Failure to meet those dates and results will be marked as “Failed ” in our agenda. We should then urge them to proceed to the next item. Then Leave, irrespective of their agreement or otherwise. It will enable the 27 nation states and electorates to wake up. There will be political, geo-political turmoil in Europe as they finally get it. They can fight it out probably militarily between themselves, AS USUAL.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      No because they will fail and consider they won a point. Let them set the timetable and fail.

  27. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Odd on the one hand they say direct negotiation with individual nations is not allowed but on the other hand direct negotiation with Spain over Gibraltar is required.

    As usual our commentators have taken this EU declaration as the gospel truth which is set in stone rather than what it really is, just a negotiating position. Note how they are appearing all hardline and strong over the rights of EU citizens in U.K. when they know perfectly well UK will agree easily to reciprocal rights – they’re just doing that so they can present it as an early “win” for the EU.

    • rose
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      The EU remind me of the Liberals in that respect: insisting they had persuaded the Conservatives to lower tax!

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      The whole issue of Gibraltar is a red herring the EU has thrown up, and after a period of reflection HMG should ask the EU to clarify this statement. Citizens of Gibraltar took part in the referendum and are therefore bound by the referendum result.

      If the votes of Gibraltarians’ votes had swung the result from leave to remain, would the EU and remainers have demanded we leave because Gibraltarians shouldn’t have been part of the referendum?

      Should it also be stated that the Spanish Government also have to veto the terms of any deal on behalf of the people of Wokingham?

      • rose
        Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        After the referendum Spain offered Gibraltar half sovereignty and full membership of the EU but they turned it down flat. Nothing more to say on that front.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Roy

      “As usual our Commentators have taken this EU declaration as the gospel truth which is set in stone…..”

      Exactly, but when we set out our position for the same reasons those same commentators want to find constant fault with it.

      They are almost like a fifth column fighting from within, always trying to undermine our position with their public comments.

      Quiet shameful at the minimum.

  28. jack Snell
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Before this is all finished we are all going to become right experts on the EU and on all things EU- I was in a taxi just the other day and the driver talked almost non stop about the EU.. for instance he knew the difference between the EU parliament, the commission and the council and how they relate to one another and even knew the names of those involved..I was gobsmacked!

    • rose
      Posted May 1, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Why were you gob-smacked? Taxi drivers are very bright and well-informed people. Much more so than the opinion-formers.

  29. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Now is not the time for weakness, for crediting the other side with showing some sense of reasonableness. Mrs May does not need people whispering compromise in her ear. She needs her resolve to be strengthened.

    I am pleased to read she has ‘dismissed’ the series of demands, whether this is all of them I don’t know. But let us hope she has gone further and required that many are removed from the document before any further talks take place. When they come back she can then remove some more and be firmer on ours.

    If no deal is better than a bad deal, and those who said it mean it, conceding anything at this stage will be seen as weakness and we will hand the initiative to the EU. We do not need any modern day Lords Halifax suggesting appeasement. We voted for out, not out of part, we voted for out of all.

    Germany, leading the EU, has declared an economic and political war. We should fight.

  30. margaret
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I think we are wrong to speculate. This is not the stock market. I am glad the EU is mellowing, but to denigrate our leaders and talk, basically, pompous rubbish, will not help our cause. Guessing games at this level are not fit for purpose and we ought to just shut up and go with the White paper .
    If some think they are being clever trying to bring everyone down , when these people hold the future of our country in the negotiations, then they ought to show that they have a higher IQ than nought.

  31. Original Richard
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I trust that our government will ensure that the EU’s demand for all EU nationals resident in the UK to have “full rights” will not include the right of these EU nationals to vote in all future UK elections and referendums, as the Irish are able to do now.

  32. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    One important point – if nothing is agreed until all is agreed, then issues which the EU consider important – right of residence of EU citizens in the UK – cannot be guaranteed until the last dot and comma is added to an overall agreement. This not only makes Corbyn’s promise hollow, but means that a sword of Damacles will hang over several million people on either side of the channel for some time. All because of this particular clause. Perhaps the EU might wish to withdraw this before we commence?

  33. rose
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I can’t decide whether we should leave without paying a ransom, or sit down with them and ask for our 12% share of the assets, our credits in the ECB, compensation for EU students not paying off their loans, compensation for EU people not paying their NHS bills, compensation for all those EU prisoners who should have been sent home for sentences over two years but weren’t…can anyone think of any more?

  34. Paul wills
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    We should be careful about what we write and say here as i’m pretty sure these comments are being monitored in Brussells and can be used in preparation for the upcoming talks.. why should we give the enemy a free insight into how we are thinking..it will only leave us at a severe disadvantage.. even commentators here should play their part and keep their cards close to their chests by not making outlandish statements or extreme comments..moderation is the key..keep them guessing

  35. Mark
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    We have a position that has been prepared by the EU Commission that the EU Council allegedly spent just four minutes discussing before giving it approval as an opening gambit. That is not therefore the real position of the Council, which I believe only spent a further 20 minutes discussing Brexit on a previous occasion: negotiations of this kind are not based on half an hour’s discussion. The position contains a number of inconsistencies that remain since Tusk provided his draft guidelines. It appears the EU are as yet unprepared for serious negotiation despite their bluster. It does give the British something to pick apart for when formal meetings start.

  36. Prigger
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I bought Trump’s The Art of the Deal. Interesting the section where he spoke of kids in his class becoming nebbishes. I had to look up the word. The way he sized up an opponent was by a kind of dissection and then reconstruction in his behaviour to him.
    Well the EU will flatter our patriotism, nationalism and fighting ability in their pretended view, congratulating us how we conquered the world. Personally I don’t believe in the existence of good losers. Half the EU lost the war. The other half resented our help.

  37. Peter D Gardner
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    The significance of the EU’s Guidelines is being greatly overplayed in the media – much to the delight of the EU-philes and those who insist Brexit is soOOOOO  complicated. They are the product of a process laid down in the EU Treaties. They are not, as Mrs May pointed out quite correctly, an offer on the table. They are not even on the table. There is no agenda yet. There can only be an agenda when UK agrees what it is. If UK refuses to negotiate something, it won’t be on the agenda. (I’m not sure Mrs May is capable of resisting the urge to discuss, evaluate, revisit, clarify, negotiate endless detail and secondary issues, but we’ll see.)

    I suspect the real negotiating position of the EU is kept strictly secret between a select few people in the dirty tricks department, well hidden from public view. This paper is just the public front and, at best, Plan A.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    We are told that we must sort out our share of EU assets and liabilities before leaving. How – just for example – are we to obtain and transport our share of the Barleymont building and the Strasbourg Parliament? These buildings have no commercial value unless their uses are changed.

    There is a more fundamental difficulty. The Lisbon Treaty has not been democratically endorsed by most Member States. Indeed, the draft European Constitution was explicitly rejected by the electorates of France and the Netherlands. The Lisbon Treaty is simply this Constitution with the clauses re-ordered. Angela Merkel has PUBLICLY BOASTED about this fact.

    The EU and European Union are therefore not legitimate and the Euro, the currency of this Union, has only de facto status. Also, we need to assert that, in the modern world, free trade is a right, not a privilege. We should get these opinions on the record.

    Then we can make a unilateral declaration of the terms of our exit regarding trade. On exit, we shall impose neither tariffs nor non-tariff barriers on EU exports to UK, but we reserve the right to retaliate to whatever extent we wish to if the EU imposes such barriers on our exports to them. We are quite happy to negotiate with individual Member States. There is no obligation on the UK to respect their unity.

    Let us face it, there is no unanimity in the UK on the extent to which we should retaliate. Patrick Minford and myself are inclined not to retaliate at all, thus creating a high tech tiger economy, but this may be a minority opinion.

  39. Freeborn John
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t see any reason to believe the EU position has “mellowed”. What is far more concerning is the report in Frankfurt Allgemaine Zeitung of last Wednesday’s meeting between May and Juncker in which May said she wants to use as a model for the exit talks, her earlier method in EU Justice and Home Affairs. She spoke of the JHA opt-outs as being purely for domestic consumption as she subsequently opted back in to all meaningful measures such that the opt-out looked good on paper but made no practical difference. This ties in with May’s rhetoric on talk I guess back control, i.e. a post-Brexit British with nominal ability to make its own decisions but which always happens to choose to do what the EU wants. If May did say that Juncker last Wednesday (and there is no reason to doubt it, a state this leak to the German press was likely by Juncker’s German chief of Staff who was present) then it heralds a Brexit In Name Only which will be catastrophic for UK citizens trust in Westminster politicians. May really has to grow a backbone and negotiate a proper Brexit.

  40. Freeborn John
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    With corrections:

    I don’t see any reason to believe the EU position has “mellowed”. But what is far more concerning is the report in Frankfurt Allgemaine Zeitung of last Wednesday’s meeting between May and Juncker in which May said she wants to use her earlier method in EU Justice and Home Affairs as a model for the Brexit talks. She spoke of the JHA opt-outs as being purely for domestic consumption as she subsequently opted back in to all meaningful measures. She said that the JHA opt-out looked good on paper but made no practical difference. This ties in with May’s rhetoric on “taking back control”, i.e. a post-Brexit UK with nominal ability to make its own decisions but which always happens to choose to do what the EU wants. If May did say that to Juncker last Wednesday (and there is no reason to doubt it, as this leak to the German press was likely by Juncker’s German chief of Staff who was present at the meeting) then it heralds a Brexit In Name Only which will be catastrophic for UK citizens trust in Westminster politicians. May really has to grow a backbone and negotiate a proper Brexit. This FAZ report really shows for the first time that May’s ambition is a cosmetic Brexit that like the JHA opt-out has no practical consequences.

  41. Juliet
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Pro-EU contenders out in force with FAZ inside story of supposedly May-Juncker disastrous London #Brexit dinner a one sided thread account of what was discussed interpretation by Economist Berlin editor Jeremy Cliffe @JeremyCliffe writes Today’s FAZ report on May’s disastrous dinner with Juncker – briefed by senior Commission sources – is absolutely damning.

  42. Freeborn John
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I do think the furore over the Wednesday EU meeting and FAZ reporting of it were avoidable. To extent there was always going to be something of a clash but it was exacerbated because May’s silence in the run up encourage the EU to believe they could push for further concessions and consequently hardened their position. Having lived in Germany I often noticed how an understated British position, which would be understood by another Briton as subtle opposition, was typically interpreted by a German as being reluctant acceptance of their position. May & Davis not making any attempt to shape the EU negotiating mandate would be perceived as readiness by the Uk to accept whatever was offered. It is really necessary to bang on the table when dealing with the Germans so that they understand you mean it, to an extent that Britons would not be necessary when negotiating with Britons. If May and Davis do not make it abundantly clear they have a Plan B (WTO) and indicate they are fully ready to go that way (ideally through taking practical steps within the WTO and in preparations with 3rd countries to agree FTAs) then the EU will continue to act as though they have the Uk over a barrel.

  43. Freeborn John
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    One final point: There will be lasting damage from the May / Davis silence during the period when the EU negotiating mandate was being agreed. The EU will now feel itself locked into that mandate as any deviation will now be perceived by them as a loss of face. It would have been much better for the UK to bang the table early to reduce the EU demands at that stage rather than attempt to negotiate them down later. This pattern of British understatement leading to the EU feeling we will accept whatever they want followed by EU intransigence has repeated itself endlessly from John Major onwards.

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    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.

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