The German media tantrum

You know people are losing when they resort to personal abuse and bluster. Clearly the German government was unhappy about being told the truth about their 100bn Euro bill for the UK to leave – it is a work of fiction.

I had many dealings with the German government and with their business representatives when I was single market Minister, many when I was making the case for the UK not to belong to the Euro, and a few in the run up to the referendum. The Germans always began in a friendly and diplomatic way, seeking to explain to me why it was in the UK’s interests to accept a new law, join the Euro and remain in the EU. They thought I would be sufficiently amenable to see it from their point of view. They kept telling me that if I did not see it their way the UK would lack influence in the EU. That was such a silly irony – you will only have influence if you agree with us on all the big issues!

I used to explain to them that I am a UK MP, not a German one. I have no special insight into what laws, taxes and budgets Germany needs, and am not accountable to German electors for such decisions. I do not seek or expect any influence over the big issues affecting the German economy. In return I do not think Germany can help me and my colleagues in deciding what currency the UK should use, how high our taxes should be, what taxes we should imnpose, what laws we should have and how we run our borders.

They might then shift their ground and pretend that the EU does not have that much influence after all, and that the UK inside the EU could nonetheless influence its laws. I would explain that the true project, the one they often used to want me to adopt, includes the Euro, Schengen, common defence and much else that does mean major powers at EU level. This is clearly something the UK does not want. I accept and always have accepted that out of the EU they will decide what regulations to impose on companies selling to them, just as the USA decides the terms on which we export to them. The difference is once we are out we do not have to impose those same requirements on everything we make and sell elsewhere if it does not suit us and our customers.

Today we see yet again the Germsan media and probably some in the German and EU governments misjudge the UK position. Once again they think pressure, personal ridicule, scorn will force the Uk to see it their way. It did not achieve their end when they tried to pressurise us into joining the Euro. It did not work when they offered Mr Cameron very little, thinking it would be sufficient to secure a stay in vote. It looks like they misread it again.

The truth is the Uk can and will leave in March 2019, with or without a deal on the future relationship. I forecast that on that date, even after many more rows and disagreements, planes will still be able to fly from Frankfurt to London, German cars will still be admitted into UK car showrooms, and tourists will still make the pilgrimages between our two countries. The only question is will the EU make this easier, or does it have workable plans to make it a bit more difficult. We await their answer when they have cooled down. The present intemperate language belittles them. It does not damage us.

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43 Comments

  1. McBryde
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    OT: Many are calling for JRMogg to replace May. But, although I consider him well suited for the job, I consider you to be in a better position.

    Not only do you match his steady minded handling of antagonizing interviewers, debate well and have a good knowledge of and keen participation in parliament, you also have lots more experience – particularly in the field which is the EU where you’ve held the government position of Minister for the single market.

    May will have to be replaced by someone whose stance is more in line with the voters. I look forward to the day you are chosen to lead us out of all this!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      T May will certainly have to go well before the next election. She also needs to change her silly socialist light policies and do some things that will actually work for a change. Cheap energy, a bonfire of red tape, cutting out the endless waste, the bloated state sector and the potty vanity projects. Also address that hugely damaging litigation culture we have which just makes more and more jobs for parasites who create no new wealth (but just argue about who should owns it).

      “No change no chance” comes to mind – she is another John Major/Ted Heath/Cameron type with the same broken compass always pointing to the left.

  2. Bryan Harris
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    .
    This is the way bullies behave when they don’t get their way – they don’t want to negotiate, they want us to concede to their every last demand – and there is no doubt that the EU is full of bullies.

    • NickC
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and no. Yes, because there is no doubt that both the Remains in the UK, and the EU itself, have behaved very badly since the Referendum – anti-democratic, blustering, petulant and downright abusive.

      No, because there are cultural differences in the way that the EU (continentals) and the UK typically negotiate. Combine that with the substance that we wanted a common market and they want a USE, then it is no wonder we differ so significantly.

      Let us hope our negotiators finally understand the cultural negotiating differences and do not give way by being oh-so-reasonably-British, as our side have for the last 45 years. A compromise, at this stage, on UK independence will fester for years.

  3. Nig l
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    However if you read the press this morning some very big sums are being qouted that we are prepared to pay. So either someone is telling porkies or this pressure is having an effect.

  4. Duncan
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    It is disconcerting and indeed saddening to see great nations like France, Spain and Italy sacrifice their sovereignty and independence on the altar of EU-German expansionism

    I like Germany. I have spent time in that great nation. I like the German people. I despise their politicians and their obsession with expanding the EU and its influence and reach

    My question is this. Why do peoples of these EU member states accept so willingly the degradation and diminution of their respective nation’s nationhood, sovereignty and independence? Are they blind to see what is happening?

    Do they not realise that in the long term their nation in any meaningful sense will no longer exist and that it will be nothing more than a veneer?

    EU politicians and pro-EU types in the UK have tried very hard to associate patriotism and national pride with racism and xenophobia. They nearly succeeded. If it wasn’t for the working class of the UK we would have lost the EU referendum. The working class of GB do not take too kindly to threats and intimidation from a political class who use lies, threats and fear to force a vote in their favour.

    The German political class are behaving like petulant children. They are offended by British democracy. They’d prefer to cut political deals through political channels rather than having to resort to direct democracy. Macron and Merkel are behaving in such a manner as we speak

    How can the people fight back against this political elite? The truth is, they can’t. The Polish govt is fighting back and the nationalist card is played against then. This is what we are up against. A EU political machine who play the Hitler card against anyone who dares to confront the EU juggernaut

    The UK has to show these vassal nations that they can prosper by taking another route

  5. agricola
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I recall a diminutive moustachioed character trying much the same thing in 1939 and beyond. They will be working themselves into a greater frenzy yet. At some point in the future they will start doing the sums and then come to more sensible conclusions. The big worry for the Germans is that they will have to find the extra money to fund this experiment.

    • Tabulazero
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      1 bonified Godwin point by the third comment. We are off to a fantastic start.

      • NickC
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        If you actually think that the EU and its internal machinations, particularly the Franco-German axis, have absolutely nothing whatever to do with WW2, then you are a bureaucrat from planet Zog, and I demand my £5.

  6. Tabulazero
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    You know people are losing when they resort to personal abuse and bluster.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg: “He (Junker) is a pound shop Bismarck”
    Abuse ? Check.

    Dr Liam Fox: “EU is trying to blackmail Britain”
    Bluster ? Check.

    For once we agree, Mr Redwood, and please do not be bitter that Germany is not reacting exactly as many on the Leave side had sold to the British public. It was obvious from the start and could have easily been checked had you simply bothered to talk to the Germans themselves.

    • Tom William
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Have you spoken to, for example, anyone in Mercedes, BMW, Audi or VW?

      • Tabulazero
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        No need to speak, just watch their actions : capital expenditure in the U.K. automotive industry is now running at half what it used to be pre-referendum.

        That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of Brexit by the Germans.

    • NickC
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Tabulazero, Jacob Rees-Mogg characterising Jean-Claude Juncker as “a Pound shop Bismark” is a joke considering Juncker’s behaviour since the Referendum. Calling Leave voters thick is abuse. Remains telling us that they know better what we voted for is arrogant abuse.

      Liam Fox observing that the EU is trying to blackmail UK taxpayers with a demand for payment before trade talks uses the correct English word and is the truth. Michel Barnier’s strictures that the UK must start behaving “seriously”, or Junker claiming that the UK’s preparations were “not satisfactory”, are bluster.

  7. formula57
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Fancy having a tantrum on 3 September of all days!

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Very good .

      I suspect that one went over many peoples heads .

  8. mickc
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Germany and the Germans…..either at your feet or your throat!

    Even Macmillan, who tried to get the UK into the Common Market, realised the nature of that particular beast.

    I have no wish for my country to become a province of the latest German Empire. It astounds me that many east European countries are happy to do so….but they may well wake up when it is too late; the results will likely be unpleasant in the extreme.

    • Captcha King
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I find it difficult to believe that Germany reunites as Britain is abolished and England is ignored by its own government.

      (A major part of Mrs May’s losses were attributable to the winter fuel allowance disparity north and south of the border.)

  9. Prigger
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I have just read the so termed best criticism in a German newspaper of May, Johnson, Davis and Fox. Just moaning about our alleged dawdling. No mention of the bill presented for leaving. Nicely, it added “Brits have weathered many storms over the centuries. They will weather this one, too. ”
    Personally I cannot say Germany has weathered any storms at all over centuries. It does not deal with its internal problems and we can see this now. It thinks its problems are a plus. Then it implodes and explodes. So we then speak of the Land of Industrious and Proud People, speak of Germany’s industrial ingenuity and engineering skills and how we must send it food.

  10. fedupsoutherner
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    On Andrew Marr this morning they are talking about the UK and Mrs May agreeing to pay the EU 50billion as a divorce payment. Any comment on this John?

    Reply That is nonsense

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      I sincerely hope you are right. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Well we shall see. I certainly do not trust T May at all.

        She did, after all, try to trick the voters into a remain vote by lying to them that they had control of the borders through being outside Schengen.

        As Home Secretary she surely cannot have believed this to be true?

    • Nig l
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Forgive me for coming back on this subject but if it is nonsense where has it come from, who is briefing it and why?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        It is an attempt to soften us up to hand over a vast sum to the EU. I leave it to you to speculate about who might wish to do that …

      • Chris
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        I would suspect from the Remainer element.

      • getahead
        Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        Not David Davis. He also said it was nonsense.
        It couldn’t have come from the EU side surely?

    • Bob
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      The BBC is a shill for Brussels.
      It’s time that Brussels paid their full share for the services rendered by the BBC, instead forcing the British TV viewers to pay for their own subjugation.

    • Dennis
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      D Davis said on Marr’s show, “we are going thru it line by line”.

      Marr and everyone else does not ask , ‘how many lines are there and give a few examples of these lines’?

      Seems no one is interested in this.

  11. Norman
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Rationalism always misreads a free spirit. Most of the time, we cannot see the wood for the trees. But we have in Britain the most amazing historical foundations, wrought from grace. It is written in our institutions, in the character of our people, and even in the landscape of our countryside. Ever vulnerable (as are all temporal things) there is still much to cherish; and therefore, much to give thanks for, and to contend for. Little wonder, cold rationalism despises such sentiments: but they are the soul of a nation!

    • Captcha King
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Well according to Peter Hitchens today you can forget continuity via Royalty. It is over after ER2.

      A shame.

      “The monarchy has no real power but assures that no other has either – rather like the King occupying a space on a chess board.”

      This has kept us safe from ambitious politicians who seek the trappings of military power.

  12. Original Richard
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The Germans are quite naturally very upset.

    The UK voters called their bluff when they gave Mr. Cameron no worthwhile concessions expecting the UK to vote remain (from watching/listening to too much BBC broadcasting).

    The Germans are unhappy that they/the EU will lose control over our laws, money, borders, foreign policy, environmental and energy issues and all the other 40+ “areas” now subject to QMV after the Lisbon Treaty.

    They/the EU will lose a significant net contributor to the EU budget, other financial inputs and lose control of our fishing grounds.

    Mrs. Merkel will not be able to force us to take the Middle Eastern and African migrants she continues to invite into Europe.

    The Germans will also find that their goods in the UK will no longer be protected from the rest of the World by the EU tariff barriers. A significant change bearing in mind the enormous trade deficit we have with Germany.

    The EU/Germans will not be able to take over our military.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      And they are going to, one fine day, will have to pay for the rest of the EU. And watch them squeal as they get bled dry.

  13. Epikouros
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Germany’s chagrin on the fact that the so called Brexit divorce bill is not going to be met at the level that Germany and the EU demands or probably not at all is understandable. Germany is the one most disadvantaged by that fact that their contribution after Brexit is by necessity if the EU budget is to be maintained will have to increase substantially. Also as she is the major underwriter of EU debt they undoubtedly relied on making the UK by fair or foul means accept a proportion of it. Brexit denies that to her and Brussels.

    The EU state is riddled with flaws as are all developed states the most pernicious being the commitment to large and unsustainable levels of redistribution of wealth and borrowing which in the long run will see some of those states collapse. It will be a domino effect if one major state falls then the rest will also. A dry run was seen with the collapse of Greece and the near collapse of others like Spain, Italy and Ireland. Most were saved if only partially and at great cost another occurrence will not see the same.

    The German media up in arms at being told unpalatable truths is par for the course. We see it constantly emanating from the mouths of EU officials, remainers and other media outlets that are against Brexit. Not surprising who of us like being told that we are going to be deprived of something that we have long come to rely on because those who provide the means no longer have a wish to do so. That is what happens when you abuse the hand that feeds you so the UK public have decided that enough is enough and they are withdrawing that hand. The EU and anti Brexiteers do not like it but that is tough and they should have thought about that when they had the chance and changed their ways.

  14. JM
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Listening to what is coming out of the EU during the negotiation process, I am coming to the view that they intend to and will make things very difficult for us when we leave, deal or not deal. They have to make it clear to any other country that might contemplate leaving that it is not worth it and you will suffer. We need to prepare accordingly.

    • Richard
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      We should offer favourable deals with any other country wishing to leave the EU! Before too long the ‘UK FTA’ might be larger than the EU.

  15. Terry
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    With such obvious expertise and deep knowledge I wonder why you, JR, are not, at the very least, a member of the Brexit Team.
    Is it because you are an MP who thinks more of his constituents and the people rather than being a yes-man to party dogma? Where ability is side stepped in favour of friends?
    Much to my dismay, I am now inclined to believe that reason as the New Management appears to be continuing the slippery sluggish liberal ways of the previous Number 10 incumbent. I do hope we shall see a fresh approach in the new Parliament.

  16. jack Snell
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Next week I am off to Berlin again, I like to go over there from time to time to soak up the atmosphere and do a little shopping, maybe drink a few quality German beers, and then that German sausage with saurkraut on the side all overlaid with mustard. Wow! From this you can see that I am a committed European and that’s the way I intend to stay- and still don’t understand what all of the fuss is about at home? Anyway lucky me

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      None of what you mention is threatened by Brexit .

      If anything , Brexit and the nation state model help enhance the differences between countries which make them worth visiting and prevents homogeneity .

      Most Britons would probably have been happy for the UK to stay in the EEC and it only became impossible to stomach when it morphed into the EU .

      Macron is clearly lying to his people when he says they are going to resist becoming German . I’ve got a suspicion that the French population had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they voted for him and if push comes to shove will desert Germany .

  17. Peter
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Remember what Nicholas Ridley said about European monetary union?

    “This is all a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe.”

    He got sacked for this. The Greeks now have bitter experience of Ridley’s forecast.

  18. PaulDirac
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Sunday times reports today (Sunday 3 Sep) that May is prepared to pay 50bn Sterling to the EU as a divorce settlement.
    A formal announcement will, apparently, come after the conference, as a stealth decision without consultation.
    I think that this is defeatism on a colossal scale, May has to deny this fully and categorically or face immediate leadership challenge.

    • Richard
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      I think I’ve seen John mention that the government making payments without any legal basis must first make their way through parliament. This is some reassurance about any stupid bills at least.

  19. Posted September 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Yet another pernicious myth being promulgated in this post. It is a very fine idea that only products being exported to the EU should be required to comport to EU standards. But that is not how the EU works even when trading with third countries. JR you may not have noticed the chap on Barnier’s team in charge of “the level playing field”. The EU will not let us export to them unless their goods can be sold here but only in competition with similar items on the level playing field. So if for example we import chlorinated chicken from the USA and Euro chicken struggles in our market they will respond by cutting access for an item we export the other way.

    And long long before we get into such granular detail the EU have already made it clear they will be demanding “assurances” on economic, environments and social dumping as well as state aid. You can include energy policy as well. At this rate that will keep DD tied up for a decade before we start.

  20. Herr und Frau
    Posted September 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Today 3rd September 2017 in a German televised one-off pre-election debate between Social Democrat (SPD) Martin Schulz ( He was the one with the beard in the EU ) blasted Merkel with “The inclusion of our European neighbours would have been better,”
    So it wasn’t the massive intrusion into surrounding countries brought about by Germany’s irresponsible policies…it was just a question of Merkel not sharing, not giving inclusion to the disaster for everyone else in neighbouring countries!
    If the UK had caused disruption throughout the whole of the EU we would have Barnier asking for 50 billion or so to cover the expenses. We should bill the EU for our taking their refugees. and their forty year old Syrian children.

  21. Colin Hart
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    There is only one way of seeing anything if you are German. It is the German way of seeing things. They find it very perplexing if you don’t see things the way they do.

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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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