How complicated is Brexit?

I have often said that “Brexit could be easy”, and have gone on to explain how the army of consultants, Remain liking government officials on both sides of the Channel, and the EU Commission will doubtless slow it down and make it more complex.  My critics change “could” to ” will be” when commenting and claim I do not understand how complex people will make it.

Let’s have another go at explaining the dispute. At the high level Brexit is easy. The country leaving sends an Article 50 letter. Two years later it leaves, with or without a deal concerning the future relationship. It could of course leave sooner than two years were both sides to want to make it easy.  All the EU has to do is to confirm it wants tariff freee access to our market with no new barriers and we can get on with registering that as an FTA at the WTO. Otherwise the UK and the EU trade with each other as all non EU members trade with the EU today.

The EU however wants to get rid of the UK as a force to slow down monetary and political union, but is very keen not to lose the UK’s substantial financial contributions. Its negotiating  strategy is to delay at every available opportunity, as each month of delay is another £1bn. Each month’s delay is also another opportunity to watch the UK indulging in an  absurd negotiation with itself, leading some in the EU to conclude the UK is likely to prove weak. Some in the EU think if they play it long the pro EU forces that remain in the UK may succeed in demanding further large payments to the EU . Some hope for a  new subservient relationship for the UK which will remain in some close association of a legal kind that stops it gaining full control of its laws,  borders and budgets without offering the UK any influence over the EU approach to these matters.

The government’s official position clearly rejects any such approach. The government has rejected continued membership of the single market and Customs Union, on the basis that both the Leave and Remain campaigns said these would not be available without budget contributions, freedom of movement and the rest which we rejected in the referendum.  The government has discussed possible interim periods or implementation periods if things are agreed for our future relationship that take a bit longer to fix. They are not currently asking for any such thing in the talks, as you would need an Agreement first before deciding how you implemented it!

It is one of the stupid myths that asking for a comprehensive Transitional period would solve anything. One or two more years of full membership duties to spend more time arguing over the future relationship should suit neither party, and would increase the period of uncertainty for business.  You only need to ask for interim periods or delays if there is a good Agreement accepted by both sides with difficult technical issues that cannot be fixed quickly.

The scares of no planes flying, lorries sitting in jams at Dover and trade disrupted are irresponsible. It is in  neither sides interest on the day we leave to run their affairs so badly that they disrupt EU and UK citizens going about their business. Governments, EU and domestic, are our servants. The UK is getting on with putting in a customs and borders system that will work from 30 March 2019. Doubtless the EU will do the same, as they have to answer to the farmers, factories and businesses of the continent who will expect continuity and smooth running. Both sides have to conform with WTO rules, abide by international law and allow independent courts to uphold private contracts that will continue to operate.


  1. Helena
    September 18, 2017

    If it is that easy, why is it not happening?
    Two possible answers. One, Davis and May are incompetent fools. Two, you are hopelessly ignorant of the many complications associated with non tariff barriers, dispute settlement, customs co0peration, conformity assessment etc etc

    1. Richard1
      September 18, 2017

      Three: the EU thinks if it plays a long game, Continuity Remain will oblige the UK govt to offer continuing payments for no return. Based on the noises coming from the LibDem conference and much of the business establishment, the BBC etc, they are probably right. Q is what happens at the end of the transition? Presumably the EU will carry on with more of the same, viz ‘its frightfully complicated, can’t discuss trade until [fill in required action/concession by UK]’, & Continuity Remain will say we better extend the transition by another 3 years….You can see the attraction from the EU’s point of view: £10bn annuity from the UK + access to UK market, but none of the nuisance of having to listen to UK objections to further integration.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      There are more than two possible answers.

    3. Hope
      September 18, 2017

      JR, Guido is running an article that Hammond, Rudd and two civil servants are trying to get May to ask for EEA light- not leaving the EU by remaining no under its control! Apparently claiming Boris Johnson’s article is a consequence of learning the EEA light by remainers. I hope Davis has the same fortitude as Johnson.

      I thought civil servants are meant to be neutral? What has it got to do with them? Secondly, Hammond and Rudd should have walked for incompetence by now, let alone ignoring our vote last year.

      If there is a sham of EEA light or any other sell out I think there will be civil disobedience and the party who tries it will never get in power again. Not that any party was in power under EU control. All these laws that they claimed never existed or were not imposed, denials of EU army, denial of EU getting our taxes. Leave means leave.

      1. Chris
        September 20, 2017

        Letter in D Tel today (20 Sept) stating just what you said….”the party who tries it will never get in power again”. Words Mrs May should heed if the Cons Party is to survive.

    4. mickc
      September 18, 2017

      The former of the two options, most probably! But, of course, Cameron did not allow any planning for a Leave result in the referendum…

    5. getahead
      September 18, 2017

      It is not happening because the EU doesn’t want it to happen. The negotiating team is giving the EU time to change its mind and agree to a “tariff free access to our market with no new barriers.” At the moment the EU is only interested in money, understandably perhaps but which it is not going to get. I hope.

    6. John
      September 18, 2017

      Or the 3rd possible answer. What the blog says about the EU which you evidently read but didn’t understand.

    7. Soft Brexit
      September 19, 2017

      It’s two.

    8. NickC
      September 19, 2017

      Helena, Why do you concentrate on the c10% not the c90% of UK GDP? Most of our economy consists of exports to the rest of the world and domestic trade (the c90%). The EU is important, but not that important.

      Almost every country in the world exports to the EU. I agree with you that the EU has no intention of treating us fairly and reasonably – 45 years has taught us that. But, if we are resolute we should be able to hold the EU to WTO rules.

      In any case in or out of the EU the UK will be subject to EU bad faith. The real issue is why you want to capitulate to the EU’s uncooperative behaviour, rather than leave it behind.

  2. Mark B
    September 18, 2017

    Good morning.

    Very complex I would say.

    You cannot have someone run all your affairs for the past half century and not have an effect on you. For example. We will have to reopen many embassies around the world that we closed. We will have to rebuild trade negotiating teams and skills. The list goes on.

    Two years is not enough ! It was a figure plucked out of thin air in the vane belief Article 50 would never be used.

    Two years later it leaves, with or without a deal concerning the future relationship. It could of course leave sooner than two years were both sides to want to make it easy.

    And it can also be extended, as alluded to further on.

    In any case, we will find out exactly what will happen in :

    79 weeks, and 3 days time

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      If the EU can negotiate and conclude trade deals with Australia and New Zealand within two years, as was mooted last week, why should that not also be possible for a deal with the UK, where the negotiations start from a position of free, tariff-free, trade, and in fact the only matter of principle is that raised by the EU, namely what unnecessary trade barriers do they want to reintroduce?

      And as for the other issues, why cannot most and maybe all of them be negotiated in parallel, with appropriated composed joint working groups, rather than in some arbitrary sequence which inevitably delays the overall process?

      Well, we know the answer, and it is a third answer on top of the two that Helena above thinks are the only possible answers.

    2. David Price
      September 19, 2017

      Do you mean re-open the already open embassies on this list – ?

      If you would have us give up before we even start then no wonder you are pro-EU where you can be cosy and comfy.

  3. Nig l
    September 18, 2017

    Please convince May, Rudd and Hammond of that. They were Remainers and it looks from here that their sympathies lie with the Eu and its supporters. Who knows the actual truth but we are told she is offering umpteen billion to save Germany and France having to make up the shortfall of our contribution until their next budget round starts.

    Tell them to begin re budgeting now!

    Again if what we read is thank goodness for Boris and you and Rees Mogg plus others that seem to be emboldened like Gove and Patel.

    Finally Corbyn and the Labour Party are running rings round you despite unsustainable costings, double talk etc. Your party needs to project an exciting way forward and again thank goodness for Boris. However competent and a safe pair of hands Theresa May is, and I even doubt that looking at her tenure in the Home Office, she is incapable of being anything other than ‘grey’ and we need much more than that.

  4. Duncan
    September 18, 2017

    Our exit from the EU has performed a useful purpose for those who desire to see a sovereign nation termed Europe. We no longer represent a barrier to the creation of a fully functioning, sovereign nation named Europe. Merkel, Juncker, Macron & co. should be thanking us not punishing us

    The only remaining issue is the divorce settlement. Yes, we don’t have to pay anything whatsoever when we leave but politics is about goodwill and the UK govt will no doubt offer a monetary concession of some form

    The EU needs to be made aware that we are not the enemy but a close trading partner. They need to grow up and accept the democratic decision of the British people

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      But the EU is behaving like an enemy.

    2. margaret howard
      September 18, 2017

      But 17m voters deciding the future of a population of 65m is NOT a democratic decision.

      1. Denis Cooper
        September 19, 2017

        No doubt it would have been if the vote had gone the other way …

        1. Leslie Singleton
          September 19, 2017

          Dear Denis–You can say that again

      2. David Price
        September 19, 2017

        In 1975 our futures were also decided by 17m voters – one is as valid as the other as long as you give the leavers 40 years to make the best of things.

        1. Diogenes
          September 20, 2017

          I am happy to learn that we can expect improvements by 2056.-2059. Looking forward to them.

      3. Leslie Singleton
        September 19, 2017

        Dear Margaret–That is complete twaddle

  5. alan jutson
    September 18, 2017

    Summed up perfectly JR, some of our politicians are proving to be our own worst enemy.

    Most countries would not hesitate to take a £1 billion a month saving on their expenditure, and would act upon it as soon as possible, not stretch it out into the unforeseeable future.

  6. James Neill
    September 18, 2017

    What you’re at here is touching on a wish list, you say ‘both sides have to conform to WTO rules’- yes – but who is going to enforce these rules- on the french side for instance? If we leave at any time without an agreement it will take months maybe years to agree a new deal, and even then when the new deal is agreed it will take many more months before it translates out onto the ground to the officials where the long suffering public and lorry drivers are trying to get by- there should be no misunderstanding about this.

    There will be no transition period either because if there is no post brexit agreement in place on trade by definition then there can be no need for a transition period because a transition period has to be leading somewhere. So then we are agreed on one thing we might as well leave now straight away and take the consequences- consider it- a giant leap into the dark-

    The EU side in the form of Mr Junker talks about regret that the UK is leaving but he is really not too bothered to see UK in the wringer, the others too talk in diplomatic terms but when it comes to it they have no real regard for UK either and don’t mind if there is going to be a disruption to trade, in fact i bet they are preparing themselves for this eventuality. I don’t think they even mind about the monetary loss to the bloc – and are preparing for this too

    Also we have to accept that the EU is not going to confirm anything to us at this stage including making a request for tariff free access to our markets and especially not before the three points on the agenda for exit talks are agreed- in principle- if not in full. That’s why I say we are at the wish list stage still and all talk about future trade deals is premature. Apart from the money – we have to consider how we are going to square the future movement of people in and out of UK and the EU which has to be the ‘biggie’ – but also the Irish border question is there and by itself will not go away- that’s why it’s complicated

  7. Bryan Harris
    September 18, 2017

    The biggest enemies we have in all of this are the likes of blair and clegg who have things to gain from staying coupled to the EU…
    The rest of the remoamers seem to have this romantic idea of what the EU is, which doesn’t fit reality, and most of these have swallowed the idea that being a small fish in a huge corrupt pond is what we should be aiming for…
    We should remind those at the table, as you say, that it doesn’t need to be complicated – so KISS.

    Keep it Simple S….

  8. Prigger
    September 18, 2017

    The EUs fifth column…Labour/SNP/ LibDems is a problem. They wish a never-ending transitional period

    1. getahead
      September 18, 2017

      The transitional period is a result of Phillip Hammond pandering to his corporate cronies. He is a Tory – or supposed to be.

    2. Bryan Harris
      September 19, 2017

      Effectively, the EU aligns with the aims of these socialists in our midst – that is why they support the EU.
      Our 5th columists would love to have the power that the EU has, to make states bend over backwards to do as the EU demands… and of course, democracy is only a tiny part of the process, to be used, abused, then destroyed.

  9. Lifelogic
    September 18, 2017

    Clearly the EU could make things deliberately difficult, but that is clearly not in their members interests.

    A clean and quick Brexit is the way to go. The sooner that industry adjusts to the new framework the better so why delay. The soon Westminster if back in charge and can act in the UK’s interest the best. UK first as Trump might put it.

    We also need to address the low productivity problem. This is done by slimming down the bloated and inept state sector, cutting the masses of red tape, lowering and simplifying taxes, going for cheap reliable energy, moving to easy hire and fire, relaxing planning, cut out the pointless degrees, get more people doing productive things and far fewer people who parasite off other, kill the pointless litigation culture, get more competition in banking, education and health, make the BBC pay for itself ….

    So basically the opposite of what May and Hammond seem to want with their green crap, tax borrow and waste, interventionist approach and tax increases (such as the increase in insurance tax). Their attempted attacks on the GIG economy and their absurd gender pay drivel and now they even seem to be following the appalling David Lammy agenda!

  10. Ian Wragg
    September 18, 2017

    The intervention by Bojo was very timely. With the usual suspects led by Hammond trying to derail the Brexit negotiations and if rumours are correct Mrs May about to agree a 3 year transition phase which is actually a 3 year extension to EU member. Just a cover to keep throwing taxpayers money at the corrupt organisation.
    Now let’s get our fingers out and leave.
    No ifs No buts.

  11. Anonymous
    September 18, 2017

    No planes flying and (certainly) no lorries moving can be a fact of full EU membership the way Continental unionists behave – French farmers, air traffic controllers.

    This morning yet more Brexit Boo ! from BBC one – the usual about essential migrant labour needed to pick crops (Bramley apples in Ireland)

    Leavers know this.

    No-one on the Leave side is saying that migrants can’t come here or is saying a visa system can’t be operated. (Other developed countries manage this somehow.)

    What cannot continue, however, is that farmers (and others) should expect the taxpayer to subsidise their business with a reserve of unskilled and occaisional labour housed in Britain permanently – fully entitled to everything that the state can offer.

    “Brexit will mean businesses will close”

    And so they should under these circumstances. They are a drain on the economy, as the national and personal debt figures suggest.

    The apple growers should be charged the full costs of open borders – including welfare, anti terror security and prison costs for migrant criminals.

    1. Anonymous
      September 18, 2017

      The antics of Remain (the BBC in particular) make me more Eurosceptic than I was in June last year. Vince Cable may ask ‘what are Leave scared of ?’ regards a second referendum – I happen to think we’d win by a bigger majority.

      But I don’t see why I should give someone who has insulted me a second chance.

      Well said Boris. And £350m is the amount that the EU has a say over.

      Imagine a second referendum campaign:

      – Juncker has said EU taxation

      – Juncker has said an EU army

      – We have proven Osborne was wrong on the economic impact post referendum

      But then we’ve always called the LibDems the LibDums and it’s for good reason.

  12. Liam Hillman
    September 18, 2017

    “Governments, EU and domestic, are our servants.”.

    That’s the theory, but in practice, the tail wags the dog.

    The British Government, whether under the Conservative or Labour Parties is Authoritarian and hostile towards individual Liberty. The so-called Liberal Democrats would be worse if they ever got the opportunity to wield the lash.

    As for the EU, they ignored referenda in France and the Netherlands, and forced second referenda in Denmark and Ireland (twice). Does that behaviour sound like that of a servant?

  13. margaret
    September 18, 2017

    You hand around common sense as though it were common. When minds have been geared to profit , profit , profit, it is difficult for some to think of anything other. They don’t possess the flexibility of thought . They cannot grasp that it is better just to get on with the job and a rebuild strategy will be apparent all the sooner.

  14. eeyore
    September 18, 2017

    Good to see JR draw attention to the £1bn a month that delay costs the British taxpayer. That’s £20 each, by the way. This figure is not widely publicised, should be, and would undoubtedly attract much attention if it were.

  15. agricola
    September 18, 2017

    As you say , it is not at all complicated. I would like to see or hear our negotiating team leader spell it out in short concise sentences. T. May needs to do just that on Friday or she is in danger of loosing the plot. She needs to make it very clear that the aims of the EU and the people and industries of the EU are totally different if not opposed in aim. The EU wishes to preserve and enhance a dream, albeit one that is on the way to becoming a nightmare. The people and businesses of the EU want continuity of trade and stability. I await Friday with great interest it could be a career changing speech.

  16. Border Seeya Not?
    September 18, 2017

    The LibDems, well no, Vince Cable actually , has declared himself upcoming Caesar of the New Roman Empire oddly based in Brussels. The last time this happened they left loads of broken pottery all over the place, a real mess. Untidy lot.

  17. Lifelogic
    September 18, 2017

    Having had chance to look at the Boris/ Sir David Norgrove fracas what on earth is Sir David Norgrove on about? Boris clearly says “take back control of the £ X billions” what on earth is wrong with that? Also why on earth is Sir David doing this in public and who if anyone in government asked him to do so?

    He seems to be a history graduate and not a mathematician, perhaps that explains it? Is he perhaps a strong remainer – I assume so. Perhaps he should stick to logic and maths.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 18, 2017

      If that is he can actually do logic and maths with a background of a history degree – I tend to think Sir David should resign, it is not his role to slap down Boris for saying perfectly true and honest things. Take back control is exactly what we want. Then we can hopefully spend it far more wisely than the EU ever would.

  18. Andy Marlot
    September 18, 2017

    “Governments, EU and domestic, are our servants.” Really? I wish they were aware of that.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 18, 2017

      Indeed they should be out servants but certainly are not, Their only real interest in the general public is in taxing us, licensing us, fining us or bossing us about.

  19. fedupsoutherner
    September 18, 2017

    Why can’t all politicians see things clearly like you do John. This is such a sensible approach but one the remainers are determined to thwart. I have never known such barriers being put up over anything because they don’t agree with the majority of the country. It’s all pathetic. If they really had the UK’s interest at heart they would all be coming together over this important transition to see the UK gets the best deal possible while not damaging the EU’s trade either. It is not only Brexit that the BBC are projecting a negative view over either. The disgusting tirade against Trump at the Emmy awards (look at us brigade, aren’t we special?) leaves a lot to be desired. Who do all these lefties think they are?

  20. Andy
    September 18, 2017

    Totally agree with you. And having watched and read of the so called negotiations I think H.M. Government would be very well advised to leave the talks and put in place ‘no deal’ arrangements.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      When she makes her speech on Friday Theresa May should put the EU leaders on notice that if they don’t start negotiating seriously then we will walk away and waste no more of our time on them. Instead it seems that she will offer them a multi-billion bribe just to try to get them to negotiate on the issues which really matter.

  21. Iain Moore
    September 18, 2017

    Well said on the BBC’s Today program, nice to see there is someone around prepared to put them straight on the matter.

  22. stred
    September 18, 2017

    Watching the anti-Boris campaign on the QBC and Sky, with the Remayners spitting feathers, it has become obvious that they thought they had the PM lined up to hand over the bribe and extend the leaving period until Reverse can be assured. If this happens, be ready for an end to settling our differences by democratic vote. The Quisling Broadcasting Corporation and their backers will be in line.

  23. Brian Tomkinson
    September 18, 2017

    Good to hear you on BBC Radio4 Today programme. As I’ve noted previously, the broadcast media are behaving as propagandists for the Remainers and the EU so it was good to have your well reasoned contribution. I have an uncomfortable feeling that Mrs May may capitulate to the extortion demands from the EU under pressure from Hammond and Rudd. It was good also to read Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article which the media have seized upon to be a leadership bid to distract attention from its optimistic forecast for the UK’s future after Brexit.

  24. Simon
    September 18, 2017

    There you go again. No “new” trade barriers. There is no need for new trade barriers. We will be trading under the EU treaties / rules for conducting their trade with third countries.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      So they will insist on unnecessarily reintroducing barriers to trade which have long been abolished, and they will do this despite all their treaty commitments to the contrary, as in the extensive but possibly incomplete list given here:

      In other words, they are untrustworthy as well as stupid and spiteful.

      1. Lawyer,s clerk
        September 20, 2017

        You are the stupid one. When the UK leaves the EU club, it loses the trading advantages of the club. That simple

  25. Sir Joe Soap
    September 18, 2017

    Does the EU have to explain to farmers etc?
    Surely we’re dealing here with unelecteds who can take their time? Sure they’ve been given instructions by electeds, bit they’re at arms length and can deny culpability to farmers etc later. We’re in danger of treating EU negotiators as equals, and being unelected they aren’t.

  26. hans christian ivers
    September 18, 2017


    Interesting analysis and if only the world was so easy to sort out.

    However, i the business I work we need the transitional period of two years to enable us to develop new markets with the eventuality that we do not get the agreement with the Eu that you are describing would be in all parties interest.

    Yes, so maybe it looks easy and could be done swiftly, but the real world in business is rather more complicated.

    1. ian wragg
      September 18, 2017

      That will be the EU you are talking about wanting to find alternative sources of money.
      The transition period is just an extension of EU membership. Nothing more, nothing less.

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      September 18, 2017

      You’ll have had 2 years 9 months by March 2019.

    3. Oggy
      September 18, 2017

      By March 30th 2019 you’ll have had 3 years to transition so what’s the problem ?

  27. Chris
    September 18, 2017

    Nadhim Zahawi’s article on Conservative Home this morning should give cause for concern, Mr Redwood. He still apparently does not understand the basics of single market access and the conditions attached. Perhaps those who are able to comment on CH could direct NZ to Mr Redwood’s site?

    1. Chris
      September 18, 2017

      Regarding my above comment about N Zahawi, I should have said “….the basics of single market access, and the conditions that would be attached to the sort of relationship that he proposes”

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      September 18, 2017

      It seems he wants us to pay to support their bureaucracy, to protect their standards. It strikes me this is equivalent to us paying to defend them, or their health and safety costs. Not really what we want as we’ll be setting our own standards and paying for our own bureaucracy too, unless they pay for ours?

  28. formula57
    September 18, 2017

    Afresh it is you who relays the message that should be heard from government, loud and clear and repeatedly, but is not.

    Does no-one in this feeble government realize the referendum result needs to be continually re-sold, to give the people assurance and confidence and let them hear good news rather than doom-laden predictions from those who would do us harm?

  29. DaveM
    September 18, 2017

    Well, it’s made more complicated by having a PM who probably changes her mind 5 times a day on what she’s having for dinner, a Chancellor who’s gone rogue and should resign to go and work for the EU, a Home Secretary who chastises the Foreign Secretary because she thinks she might take over from the PM in the next few years, and a Foreign Secretary who has done nothing to dispel the suspicion that he’s a bumbling buffoon.

  30. Tabulazero
    September 18, 2017

    It is quite incredible when you come to think of it that the relationships inside the Cabinet have broken down to such a level that the Foreign Secretary has to rely on megaphone diplomacy in order to influence the Brexit debate…

    … So, yes, Brexit looks a tad more complicated than you make it look, Mr Redwood, and from the EU’s perspective, it is working perfectly fine: no one in his or her right mind wants to follow the example set by the UK.

    1. ian wragg
      September 18, 2017

      BoJo wrote a very good and factually correct article which has spooked the remainers such as you, I suspect you actually work for Brussels.
      he has lit a firework up the backsides of the ditherers as a reminder of what we voted for.
      Any backsliding and the Tories are finished for a generation or more and Boris was reminding them of that.

  31. David Murfin
    September 18, 2017

    Very good. As the EU seems to want to spin things out, and not engage in negotiations about our future relationships (in contravention of Article 50 and potentially Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty) the next step is to tell them that no meaningful negotiations means no current payments, outstanding accounts to be settled on 1 April 2019.

  32. Cobwatch
    September 18, 2017

    Nailed it John. Will know rather more after the PM’s “ground changing” speech. Sounds like wads of money being handed over to me. Conference may be a little prickly. Votes will be lost if the Govt. is seen as weak. To cave,or not to cave…that is the question!

    1. hans christian ivers
      September 18, 2017

      I am afraid John has not nailed very much with this analysis as his hypothesis is not real or possible to deliver

  33. Tabulazero
    September 18, 2017

    “The UK is getting on with putting in a customs and borders system that will work from 30 March 2019.”

    No it is not . The upcoming system was launched well before the referendum and was never designed from the start to cope with Brexit. It was also developed internally, meaning you simply cannot throw more resources at it because you only have limited resources (knowledgeable developer who know the system already).

    You are talking about a massive increase in scale (the number of transaction) and scope (the number of transaction type) in a very short notice (less than 18 month).

    There is no magic wand here you will be able to wave. It will never be ready in time… starting with the people or the physical infrastructure required for enhanced custom checks.

    The most realistic option is that the UK government is either incompetent (always possible) or secretly heading for a no custom check solution which means custom union/single-market (aka the Norway option).

    We will know after the Conservative conference, one the party faithful have quietened down.

    1. John
      September 18, 2017

      ‘You are talking about a massive increase in scale (the number of transaction) and scope (the number of transaction type) in a very short notice (less than 18 month). ‘

      So should we copy the Europhile’s system for uncontrolled immigration that Major and Blair brought in? Being nothing!

      That was an immediate increase of 100’s thousands with no infrastructure or funding arrangements.

      At the very least should we not have had £billions back in funding from the EU to cope with total uncontrolled, unlimited immigration from the EU?

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      September 18, 2017

      Well perhaps customs clearance for EU goods will go to the back of the queue then.

  34. James Wallace-Dunlop
    September 18, 2017

    The EU has no legal claim for funds from the UK after March 2019. But it has grown accustomed to spending its net £1bn from the UK every 5-6 weeks. The EU is fortunate that the current 7 year budget runs to 2020, which almost coincides with Brexit. From 2020 they can draw up new plans without the UK or UK cash. For 2019-20, they are in a hole.

    A wiser EU leadership would approach the UK as a supplicant, asking for the UK’s continuing generosity until 2020, and offering to make it worthwhile for the UK.

    Annoying as it is to pay anything extra to Brussels, I suspect that, in the context of agreeing to long term free UK-EU trade, we would live with such payments for a transitional period if, during that time, we were able to strike trade deals with the rest of the world, and restrict the migration of jobless/asset-less/seriously criminal EU nationals.

  35. Denis Cooper
    September 18, 2017

    I’ve just dropped a line to the UK Statistics Authority, suggesting that its Chairman should consider his position.

    “A blatantly political intervention by Sir David Norgrove”

    “Dear Sirs

    I have read Sir David’s recent letter to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson:

    in which he accuses the latter of confusing gross and net contributions to the EU.

    I would suggest that Sir David’s carelessly worded condemnation offers more scope for confusion than Mr Johnson’s carefully worded claim, and I also note that in his letter Sir David does not even acknowledge that £350 million a week is in fact roughly the correct figure for the UK’s gross contribution in 2014.

    That admission is relegated to an earlier letter from Sir Andrew Dilmot to Norman Lamb MP which is referenced in a footnote, but which as could easily be expected is being totally ignored by sensation-seeking journalists when they are reporting on the recent letter:

    “The £350 million figure that has been used by the Vote Leave campaign appears to relate to the UK’s gross contributions to the EU, before the application of the UK’s rebate. The UK’s gross contributions to the EU in 2014 were £19.1 billion, according to the latest official statistics available.”

    And that “£19.1 billion, according the latest official statistics available” at the time of that letter, April 21st 2016, works out as £367 million a week, slightly more than the claimed £350 million a week.

    This is an factually unfounded, deeply biased and blatantly political intervention by the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, who should be able to command respect as an impartial non-political authority, and in my view he should seriously consider his position.

    Yours sincerely

    Dr D R Cooper”

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      I will add here that I am definitely not a member of the Boris Johnson fan club, and nor do I myself usually talk in terms of our gross rather than net contributions to the EU budget. But the fact remains that if you want to highlight our gross contributions then £350 million a week was not far off for 2014, the most recent year for which full outturn numbers were available in early 2016.

    2. Duyfken
      September 18, 2017

      Well done Denis!

    3. Chris
      September 18, 2017

      Well done, Denis.

  36. BOF
    September 18, 2017

    Thank you for the excellent way you handled your interview on Radio 4 this morning.

    Now that Boris has given wholehearted support to the Prime Minister’s position as set out in her Lancaster House speech, I look forward to the rest of the cabinet following this fine example. It is what is needed to counter the incessant stream of negativity that the country has had to endure from Remainers since the Referendum.

    1. rose
      September 19, 2017

      Thank you for doing this.

      Perhaps he should have said the figures are now higher than £350m and were even then. The EU now calculates its figures for our GDP by adding in crime and prostitution, much of which is coming from them and the proceeds going back to them.

      He could also have added in the top up payments we make – bailouts, Merkel-face-saving billions to Turks, EU army, “EU” overseas aid etc.

  37. Monza 71
    September 18, 2017

    What you have said is the simple fundamental truth of the situation.

    I heard you explain it on the Today Programme this morning and it is the first time that I can recall that the BBC has allowed the position to be explained with clarity, without bias and without constant interruptions by the interviewer !

    The EU is in a bit of a bind over the loss of our money and their shortsighted attitude over hard cash is clouding everything that they do and say. The budget shortfall should be a minor problem that should be easily solved by slowing up a few programmes during the next five years.

    However, it is actually a very serious problem because of the huge tensions under the surface between net contributors and recipients who are largely divided East-West by Merkel’s personal immigration policy and North-South over the overwhelming strength of the German economy. The latter is causing huge economic problems within the Eurozone because of the lack of a transfer union.

    As a result, the Eastern Bloc countries won’t accept a reduction in the flow of money into their economies and would demand Germany and Co to make up the shortfall. Merkel knows her taxpayers won’t wear it, nor will those of the few other countries that are net contributors.

    So we have the A50 negotiations hung up on this unseemly argument over money. The EU has known all along that it has no legal or moral right to demand €60-€100bn from us to sort out their problem for them, so from day one has decided instead to use blackmail and extortion.

    Our mistake has been to agree to their sequencing of the negotiations and as a result, what has subsequently happened has been entirely predictable.

    The PM already knew they were intending to demand a huge sum approaching €80-€100bn and politically it was hard to see how they were going to be able to back down from that position given that fanatical MEPs like Verhofstadt have been cheering them on from the sidelines.

    Mrs May should have told David Davis to stand firm and reject their requirement to sort out the issue of money first.

    I’ve always thought we would end up without an acceptable deal. I fear that this is now going to be the reality. We can only hope that our politicians are going to be strong enough not to cave in.

    1. rose
      September 19, 2017

      “Our mistake has been to agree to their sequencing of the negotiations and as a result, what has subsequently happened has been entirely predictable.”

      I think DD said he went along with this to get the agreement on reciprocal rights. He has got it now and that is why they are stalling.

  38. A.Sedgwick
    September 18, 2017

    Absolutely but there is a vacuum in our Government created by the Remainers, notably of course May,Hammond and Rudd. If in her Florence speech she basically repeated your piece I would be a little more assured of her stance.

    As to Boris’s article it wasn’t so much what he said, but that he said it. He quite correctly restated the £350 billion freed up was available for our Government to spend, the inevitable and immediate response resurfaced from some Remainer yesterday about misleading the public. Whether we receive some money back is irrelevant, we are not in control of that spend, the EU in its many misguided ways is.

    1. Caterpillar
      September 18, 2017

      I think to the remainers one might add the BoE, which as an institution aims to continue to miss it’s inflation target with the inevitable excuse of Brexit.

      1. rose
        September 19, 2017

        And Carney has just made a Brexit wrecking speech which for some reason isn’t being remarked on by the Boris batterers.

  39. zorro
    September 18, 2017

    Theresa May had better be listening and not give any shadow of a doubt about the above in Florence or there will be hell to pay. Any sign of weakness they will be exploited by the EU. They want a huge settlement AND continuing huge payments to access SM/CU which is totally ludicrous. If we show any weakness the NOBODY will respect us or treat us seriously.


  40. BOF
    September 18, 2017

    Brexit is not complicated. It is just as you have explained on many occasions.

    I have to ask, do those who wish us to have a Transitional period and pay additional sums into EU coffers, really have the best interests of our country at heart?

  41. Shieldsman
    September 18, 2017

    Until the EU Commission backed up by the member States sits down and negotiates a trading agreement there can be no progress.
    The media and the political parties wrangling about what existing trading package they want is a waste of time. Nothing is knowingly on offer. The idea that we rejoin EFTA, remain in the EEA and invoke the Lichenstein opt out of freedom of movement – Article 112 of the EEA Agreement, would the EU agree to it? Doubtful.

    We need to spend the time between now and leaving the EU in setting up a system to ensure the smooth shipping of goods between the UK and the EU under WTO rules. Be ready for when the member States decide the want to carry on trading with us.

  42. James murphy
    September 18, 2017

    It’s nonsense to pretend that these talks are not complicated. Brexit is probably the most complicated business ever embarked upon by us. To try to extricate ourselves successfully after 40 years involvement with the largest economic bloc in the world and where we hope to have some future trading relationship and to do all of this with the aim of reaching a satisfactort outcome that has to be complicated. Surely how we leave will greatly influence our future and the way we go. Complications is only the starting point.

  43. Chewy
    September 18, 2017

    I agree fully. The idea of a transitional agreement is somewhat contradictory.
    Were you to ask me what a transitional agreement should involve with say no previous knowledge of the post referendum debate, I would say that at the start of the deal our relationship should be very similar to how it is now, and by the end of the 2-3 year period it should have evolved into something resembling the relationship we wish to have. The names a bit of a giveaway!
    However what is being proposed isn’t a transition as much more like continued EU membership without the perks and without the EU having an incentive to actively negotiate a good deal. If at the end of it there is no viable deal or one that is unacceptable; which I reckon you can put your last pound on, what then?
    What I expect would be a lot of pressure via the usual suspects, despite any time limits initially proposed, to simply extend the “transitional arrangement” to avoid a “cliff edge”.
    The EU keeps on getting money, and Britain gets none of the benefits of actually leaving.

  44. James Matthews
    September 18, 2017

    Preaching mostly to the choir here I think. I just hope that what looks like a government bent on prolonging the process (and ensuring that Junker’s threats comes true by denying us the full advantages of a rapid Brexit) will take note of and act on the sermon.

  45. Paul H
    September 18, 2017

    “The government’s official position …”

    Why “official”? Is there another, real, position? Does the otherwise irresponsible timing of BoJo’s intervention give us a clue to what it is and what he is trying to head off?

  46. Norman
    September 18, 2017

    And let us hope, indeed demand, that the unnecessary suffering of live animals destined for slaughter is stopped as soon as possible! Do we have to await our exit from EU thralldom? Speaking as a retired government vet, I believe our farmers would want this abomination to end. Some mortality is often inevitable, but however good the lairaging facilities and care taken by hauliers en route, sheer distance, climate and disruption of the animals’ routine make the upholding of decent welfare for the livestock more difficult. Anyone who diligently cares for livestock knows this is disgraceful, and brings disrepute upon all involved. Some animal welfare campaigns are misguided: but surely not this one! Whenever the issue came up in the past, we were told the EU principle of free trade between Member States was sacrosanct.

  47. oldtimer
    September 18, 2017

    The essence of Brexit is indeed simple. It is the detailed negotiations to get there that are complex. The complexity exists on both sides. In the UK it can be seen in the ongoing arguments advanced by the multiple interests that will be affected by the terms of any negotiated outcome as well as the continuing arguments between Leavers and Remainers. In the EU it follows from the fact that the EU is inherently, and necessarily, bureaucratic as it represents both the Commission and the other 27 member states who need to agree negotiating positions and modifications to them.

    I would not be surprised if the EU thought it advantageous to play it long in order to benefit from apparent discord in the UK camp and to keep UK payments coming for as long as possible. The UK government should be able to persuade the electorate that payment towards programmes such as Erasmus make sense after the UK leaves the EU. It will face difficulty and opposition if it decides to pay for “access” to the EU market.

  48. bigneil
    September 18, 2017

    At £55m a day – they are desperate to keep us in – and if some idiots KEEP us in – -that will doubtless go up and up and up.

  49. Epikouros
    September 18, 2017

    As you say if the will is there we can leave the single market and the customs union as soon as all the normal arrangements of trading under the auspices of international law are in place. There will naturally be teething troubles that remainers will gleefully jump on as vindication of their stance but we can disregard that as that will be put right.

    Other areas of cooperation can carry on as they stand to be amended as circumstances dictate as probably both sides will wish them to continue as they do not depend on membership of the EU any that do of course will cease. Contributions will stop immediately but negotiations can continue on future trading relations which no doubt will drag on for years as the EU prefers can kicking to decision making. As they are incapable of working any other way. Arguments over the so called divorce bill will also drag on for years.

    The will is not there on the remain and EU side because they do not want our contributions to stop and they seek revenge. So we will have to unilaterally have to declare to leave under the framework as set out above at a date specified by us and it will be up to them to put the necessary arrangements in place they need. They can refuse of course but then a major market for their goods would dry up and I cannot see they will allow that to happen.

  50. blakeb
    September 18, 2017

    Was just listening to IDS on sky news..the same old story about taking back control and about how wonderful everything will be..there’s nothing complicated about that…so will the last one out please switch off the lights?

  51. Tony Henry
    September 18, 2017

    I would love to support Mrs May but I fear she is a weak remainer hopelessly out of her depth.

    The galling thing is that we do have great people who would do a perfect job for the country but who are nowhere near the negotiating table.

    John Redwood, the Mogg, Boris, George Galloway and Farage would have no difficulty in putting the extortionists from the EU firmly in their place.

    I fear the weak remainers in cabinet will sell us out and the EU’s shameless tactics of threat and extortion will have paid off.

    Why is it so difficult to get the clean Brexit the country voted for?

  52. Oggy
    September 18, 2017

    Dr Redwood – what you say is music to my ears and just plain common sense to most of us but we know the EU doesn’t work using common sense.
    Maybe you have seen the draft of Mrs May’s forthcoming speech in Florence later this week, but I and a lot here worry (very much) that she is going to cave in to EU demands. This worry has been compounded by Boris’s intervention over the weekend, because it is said he HAS seen a draft of Mrs May’s speech and it seems to me the only reason why he would speak out as he did, is because Mrs May is about to make serious concessions to the EU.
    If this is the case it is an unbelievable mistake to make. We know how the EU conducts it’s negotiations, to delay, delay again and make every effort to weaken, ridicule and defeat the the opposing side.
    The ONLY way to stop these bullying tactics is to show strength, stand up to them and not be intimidated – and not give any concessions !

  53. Denis Cooper
    September 18, 2017

    Well, we know from long and tedious experience that the EEC/EC/EU/USE project is above all a political, or geopolitical, project, and so the economics will always trail a long way behind the eurofederalist politics.

    That is why EU leaders so obstinately insist that there cannot be fully free and efficient trade between countries unless they also operate open door immigration policies with respect to each others’ citizens, because however free the international trade in goods, services and capital may be it will always be a much less effective means of homogenising the national populations into a single pan-European “demos” than uncontrolled and unlimited migration of people.

    And we also know from long and tedious experience that as far as most of the EU leaders are concerned the EU treaties and laws, indeed all treaties and laws, can always be bent or broken, or simply ignored, when that seems necessary to further their objectives.

    Of course one could always start negotiations optimistically, generously assuming that this time they will prove to be sensible and trustworthy interlocutors, and that is what we have done; the question now is how long we should continue with that rather than coming out and openly attacking them and explaining to the world that this is the kind of reason why we do not want to be in a political union with them and have voted to leave.

    “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    Like, these people are totally untrustworthy hypocritical eurofanatics who are far more concerned about their objective of pushing the nations of Europe into a pan-European federation than ensuring that their citizens can enjoy a prosperous future.

  54. The Prangwizard
    September 18, 2017

    And what about extra payments after March 2019? Clearly there is fear that Mrs May is going to offer something and betray us.

    Will you resign the whip if she does?

    And please make your mind up about my comment under Foreign Aid. It’s about 72 hours since I posted it. I won’t make a fuss if you just delete the whole thing.

  55. jack
    September 18, 2017

    Bi bi DD and switch the light off as you leave

  56. Newmania
    September 18, 2017

    So everyone who knows anything about it is a Remain conspirator are they ?

    Slice of fruitcake anyone ?

    1. Anonymous
      September 18, 2017

      Not Sir Richard Dyson.

  57. Denis Cooper
    September 18, 2017

    A Tory MP writes:

    “We should also be willing to consider paying for continued access to the single market, in order to contribute to the costs of supporting the bureaucracy required to ensure the harmonisation of regulation that is needed for such a market to exist.”

    Leaving aside whether or not that would be permitted under WTO rules, why the hell should we pay them for the privilege of running a chronic massive trade deficit?

    It’s about time that some MPs stopped kneeling before the EU.

    1. zorro
      September 18, 2017

      Indeed, what nonsense from a supposedly intelligent man…..


    2. Diogenes
      September 18, 2017

      Any thought why the UK has been running a chronic massive trade deficit?

  58. Sue Doughty
    September 18, 2017

    Well said.

  59. Duncan
    September 18, 2017

    We are about to be betrayed by Hammond, Heywood and Robbins as they push the idea of an EEA light deal onto the British people who voted to LEAVE the EU

    It is now incumbent on decent Tory MP’s to threaten May with an early GE to force a complete exit from the EU

    If this deal gains traction and is accepted we will be subject to ECJ decisions, lose control of our borders and be subject to all sorts of EU rules…THAT IS NOT WHAT WE VOTED FOR

    I implore you Mr Redwood to do all you can to prevent this treachery from happening.

    Democracy is being undermined by the British Civil Service in a cahoots with disgraceful politicians like Hammond

  60. Fed Up
    September 18, 2017

    John – what happens to the Prime Minister if she announces a 30B, 3 year transition year deal? I appreciate that you think this is all media spin, but I don’t think Boris Johnson does or he wouldn’t have released that article. Are you 100% sure there’s no truth?

    What I believe we the people voted for, is a clean exit from the EU in its entirety, an end to annual payments and control of our borders and fishing waters. As you say, it’s not that complicated and I don’t think people are going to accept anything less than this.

  61. Bob
    September 18, 2017

    I’m glad that Boris has published a clear statement of the way forward.
    We needed some clarity on where the lines were drawn.

  62. Glenn Vaughan
    September 18, 2017

    An excellent summary John.

    Please circulate copies to the BBC and Sky News.

  63. Lifelogic
    September 18, 2017

    Just saw Boris on TV. If you do bump into him tell him to try to lose a bit of weight. We want him in good health for the sake of the country and his positive vision of Brexit – a vision so desperately lacking in much of the rest of the party leadership.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 18, 2017

      Perhaps Nigel Lawson can give him one of his diet books.

      1. rose
        September 19, 2017

        Boris has lost a bit of weight.

  64. Simon Coleman
    September 18, 2017

    The transitional period is necessary precisely because the future relationship (if we want a good one) cannot be sorted out in the time remaining before March 2019. You say – oh it’ll all revert to WTO rules and that’ll be the end of it. You ignore that fact that a majority of businesses, the Cabinet and MPs support a transitional period because, obviously, there is a good chance of getting something better than WTO rules. You Brexit people won the Referendum with Project Lies…and you’ve now moved on to Project Insult Our Intelligence.

    1. Jagman84
      September 18, 2017

      You need to have intelligence for it to be insulted. WTO is still infinitely better than the deal we currently have. It’s how we trade with the rest of the world and we have a trading surplus by doing so.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      It would be one thing to leave with all matters of substance fully agreed but with some of the legal and practical details still to be sorted out and implemented, but it would be a very different thing to leave before the substance of the future relationship had been completely agreed.

      So for example under their 1957 Treaty of Rome the six original EEC countries decided to set up a common market, and they agreed to allow themselves twelve years to accomplish that in defined stages; what they did not do was leave it to the transitional period to decide whether or not to have a common market.

    3. Fed Up
      September 19, 2017

      oh please – still in denial then. Project Fear was all entirely truthful wasn’t it. No doubt you’re still mad about the bus advert.

    4. Ed Mahony
      September 19, 2017

      Both sides exaggerated / told lies. And both sides made honest, strong arguments as well.

      Personally, i think the best, most practical solution is to try and purge the EU of political union. And to focus on close economic, cultural and security ties with the rest of Europe through a reformed EU.

      This will lead to a strong, united UK (and we can then get on with other important business). Unite the Conservative Party (and keep the socialists out). Be good for Europe. And a strong, stable Europe is good for the world’s economy and stability in general.

      Everyone’s a winner. Above all, the UK.

  65. Denis Cooper
    September 18, 2017

    I’ve just been watching the BBC’s Daily Politics with a right ding-dong between the presenter, an increasingly cross Jo Coburn, and a very calm Iain Duncan Smith, with the former claiming that our EU budget rebate money never leaves the country each year and should not be counted into our gross annual payments to the EU, but the latter pointing out that it is not an upfront discount each year but a rebate paid in arrears.

    That is to say, some part of the money which is paid to the EU in one budget year is later deemed to have been overpayment and so it is paid back to the UK in the next year, and to a lesser extent later years. It does leave the country, then it later comes back.

    It was Andrew Tyrie who kicked off this silly argument that the rebate money never leaves the country and so should not be counted as part of the gross payments.

    That is plainly wrong:

    “The calculation of the rebate for any one year is budgeted and paid for the following year, and the payments are subject to revision for up to three further years.”

    Well done Iain Duncan Smith for exposing this typical EU over-complication.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      I’ve just read the same false claim that the rebate is treated like an upfront discount in three different places …

  66. Bob
    September 18, 2017

    I just saw an article on claining that David Davis has thrown in the towel with spreadsheet Phil and is agreeing to a sell out which would mean that Britain would not be in control of it’s own borders.

    This is the kind of fudgery I feared the Tories would get up to.

    1. Lawyer,s clerk
      September 18, 2017

      People say Brexiteers are stupid and you proved it. It’s own borders? You illiterate loser

      1. Fed Up
        September 19, 2017

        You know that sentences need a full stop I assume? Oops.

  67. Tweeter_L
    September 18, 2017

    I never understood how a transitional period would help; it just doubles up the planning & preparation work that will have to be done. Better to spend all that time and effort getting the actual arrangements right in the first place.
    There’s a relevant petition gathering pace

  68. danR
    September 18, 2017

    By this time some of us reading between the lines can tell, especially with the delay in posting the comments today to the diary, we can tell that there is a flap going on behind the scenes- this morning it was about Boris, and will he survive? and now david davis- will he survive? so what’s that you’re asking about brexit being complicated or not?

  69. Nig l
    September 18, 2017

    PS I didn’t vote to stay in an EC light set up shadowing everything they do etc. I voted to Leave, in other words have mastery of our own destiny. Of course there will be standards we have to follow to trade but that is no different from any other international trade. Paying them money,accepting ECJ judgements, not getting fishing back, not being allowed our own trade deals etc.
    No no no.

  70. David
    September 18, 2017

    @”Governments, EU and domestic, are our servants.”
    I am not 100% sure about the UK Government – if it were my servant housing would be cheaper.
    I am however sure that Juncker thinks we are his servants not the other way around.

  71. Tony Sharp
    September 18, 2017

    The weakest element of the Treasury Model, based on the so called ‘gravity- model’ analysis actually extrapolated current inter-EU tading generally but ignored actual UK trading patterns in the Union. The Treaury approach is essentially the underpinning of the ‘Project Fear’ propaganda which dd not convince the majority of the Electorate is that somehow ALL trading activity between UK and EU would stop overnight, even in a ‘No Deal’ situation. The UK is the second largest sales destination for all other members, at least the next six in size. This ‘dead stop’ threat is quite risible to any business person and is only something an academic could believe as a practical proposition. Politically it is impossible anyway: are we expecting a EU Trade Embargo greater than what has ever been conducted by the UN against recalcitrant rogue States if there is No Deal on the morning of the 30th March 2019? Would there be a ‘Trade War’ of mutual dumping between the UK and EU from that day? Just stating this surely make sit clear it cannot happen, especially as it is actually contrary to the EU’s own constituional arrangements and treaties.

    Since the Referendum all of us involved in such trading relationships have reviewed our contract terms and either modified them to take account of different tariff regimes, especially the ‘worst case’ of WTO and looked at suppliers and markets elsewhere, have hedged against more volatility in Sterling/Euro FXR as well as simply varied pricing and costs. Nothing in such trading is a ‘zero sum’ game. The UK – EU terms of trade will change marginally and the UK’s non-EU trading shall do likewise. In fact the major reason that belonging to the EU SM-CU system is of less relevance to the UK has been demonstrated by the proportional and relative current and continuing decline of such trade with the EU compared to the UK’s non-EU markets.

    However, neither the Treasury Model nor others ever look at the ‘reciprocal’ matter of how such a ‘complete break’ scenario affects the other remaining members of the EU. I would also point out that the so called ‘Single Market’ (actually its internal trading and essentially regulatory system) is really relevant to only 10 in terms of any significance and the real proportions of significance possibly just four, perhaps five if Benelux is considered as one unit.

    Two myths then: i) ‘ Cliff Edge’ and ii) that we have ’27’ trading partners – we have major trading relationships with at most four. The rest are in receipt of UK largesse funneled through the EU.

    1. Andy
      September 19, 2017

      Well said. A voice of reality for a change.

  72. Loddon
    September 18, 2017

    IDS today on the “Daily Politics” (BBC2) said that our EU rebate is paid back to us a year in arrears!

    So the EU holds our rebate money for a year before we get it back and that is when it is deducted from our next year contribution.

    I have never heard this explained before and certainly Jo Coburn of the BBC did not understand this point and apparently neither does the head of Government statistics who has criticised Boris Johnson’s article about the UK taking back control.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 18, 2017

      Well, it’s been pointed out on this blog more than once, but it’s only necessary to look it up on wikipedia!

      This myth that the rebate is like an upfront discount should have been knocked on the head long ago.

    2. R.T.G.
      September 18, 2017

      Without wishing to sound flippant, any sterling amount paid out per week which has eight noughts attached to it sounds like a shed load of money, over which our elected representatives should have fully accountable control. So continually arguing about the derivations of the amount, whether it be £100,000,000 or £350,000,000 per week, seems to be missing the rather more important point, which presumably suits undemocratically-leaning people quite well.

  73. Ian Murray
    September 18, 2017

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Thank you for this and for your contribution to today’s Today program, I am sure I am not alone in getting increasingly exasperated by the failure of will too many members of the government to support and get on with completing a hard-nosed negotiation. We want the real deal not some half-baked alternative dreamt up by the treasury

  74. TomTomTom
    September 18, 2017

    The issue as I see it is that for the UK there is at least a potential upside to BREXIT. We can argue back and forth about whether BREXIT is going to be a +ve or -ve … but at least we can have that argument. ( My view is, yes, it’s going to be +ve )

    For the EU there is absolutely no up-side to BREXIT.

    They’ve managed to keep Greece but lost the UK. However you look at it, that’s appalling politics.

    If they are seen to give a “Good” deal to the UK … then it is entirely rational to expect the citizens in the other EU27 countries to demand a similar “Good” deal.

    If they give a “Bad” deal ( or “No Deal” ) and the UK continues to thrive, which is certainly not impossible, then again the citizens in the EU27 will be asking themselves “Why are we paying into this?”

    If they give a “Bad” deal and the UK declines economically, then they take their fair share of the pain too. I can imagine the joy on the faces of French farmers and German exporters when told : “We know you have lost your job, but it was important to punish the UK.”. It’s hardly a positive message to say to their citizens “We know we cost you £500 … but don’t worry it cost the Brits £1000 ….. whatdyamean … you don’t care about BREXIT?!!”

  75. Richard Elsy
    September 18, 2017

    Sound and logical stuff – as usual. I am, however, bound to suggest that the so-called negotiators on the European Commission team are not so concerned with logic as they are with forcing the political message that leaving the EU should cause damage to the UK. Their counterparts in the Civil Service on ‘our’ side are schooled in this thought and have managed to carry the day with the PM, Chancellor and Home Secretary, as far as one can see, and will promote the transition period with payments of which we read. This may not be completely awful, although I fear it may be the thin end of a big wedge and would prefer a clean break and WTO terms preparatory to a FTA in a couple of years. We shall see what’s announced in Florence but I’m pessimistic.

  76. Beecee
    September 18, 2017

    It would seem that the Remainers have got to Mrs May who seems to be running scared of the Hammond/Rudd/ Treasury Axis.

    I cannot understand why we need a ‘transitional period’ after 2019? And I have tried to understand why, if we do not have one, then somehow UK business will go to the wall, as per Hammond and his new project fear.

    This will be the 10% of UK business that trades with the EU I assume.

    On another topic I thought the treatment that Jo Coburn tried to mete out to IDS today really overstepped the mark! Another journalist who thinks their views are more important than the person they are interviewing!

    1. Oggy
      September 18, 2017

      I watched that debacle, Jo Coburn makes it quite obvious she doesn’t possess the knowledge, persona or debating skills required.
      You’d have thought she would have learnt something from Andrew Neil by now, but apparently not.

  77. Monza 71
    September 18, 2017

    I’m on the side of the hardest of Brexit with no transition deal and no payment for single market access. I would certainly walk away if this proved unacceptable to the 27.

    However, those accusing Mrs May and David Davis of selling out if she agrees to any payment and a transition period need to think of the UK political situation these two have to operate in.

    It’s an inconvenient truth that there is no appetite within the Conservative parliamentary party, let alone the opposition, for walking away. Most MPs and pretty well all of the Lords would agree to almost any deal that can still be claimed to be “Brexit” but which keeps us in the so-called Single Market.

    Unfortunately there are nowhere near enough sensible and bold MPs like our host to be able to get that hard a Brexit through the house. I regret that she will announce an offer to continue our net contributions for three years on Friday through a “transition” period.

    That’s an offer of £30bn however I doubt that this will be anything like sufficient for the 27 and Juncker to agree a trade deal with us.

    Instead, we should be brave enough to walk away, save the money and go onto WTO terms.

  78. Chris
    September 18, 2017

    There is an extraordinary range of stories in the Press and online about May, Johnson, Brexit and what is on offer. The fact that there is this confusion, providing the Remainers a great opportunity to inject further fear into people’s minds about Brexit and affording them opportunities to apparently hijack the PM and force a Brexit that we did not vote for, just about sums up the complete lack of leadership qualities of Theresa May. It is an unacceptable situation for the country to have this dangerously poor leadership. I personally would want Boris, with a new team including Jacob Rees-Mogg and John Redwood, to replace her, and a role for Farage in the wider picture. One can live in hope.

  79. Anna
    September 18, 2017

    Mrs May has said in the past that ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’ I believed that she was committed to a clean Brexit, and that she would deliver it. We owe nothing in exit payments. That has been established in law. If we need to pay for access to EU markets, then surely we need to know what sort of conditions they are offering first; then we can bargain over how much to pay. It is madness to offer a sum in advance, as a bribe to initiate negotiation. Once the offer is made, the EU can up the ante and ask for more and more. It is a recipe for disastrous humiliation. I hope most fervently that Mrs May does not take this route.

    Re: the constant worries about ‘who will pick our fruit and vegetables if we don’t have cheap foreign labour to do it’?

    The answer is: the people who did it before. Harvesting fruit and veg has always been low-paid seasonal work done by students in their vac or mums boosting the family budget a bit. They would still do this work if they could get a look-in. At the moment, foreign gang masters recruit foreign labour, often dreadfully exploited and housed in squalid conditions. If we close down foreign recruitment agencies, we could give work to our own workers.

    HGV drivers are in the same boat. I heard an interview with HGV drivers desperate for work, even though the hourly rate they could hope for was much less than it was before Eastern Europeans, particularly Hungarians, were recruited y agencies in Hungary and undercut them.

  80. Norman
    September 18, 2017

    Much trepidation, in all the above, over what Mrs May has in mind to say at Florence. And I doubt Boris has spoken without reference to it. I recall she said several months ago ‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’, and so on. Her 29 March speech on the sending of the Article 50 letter sounded firm, positive and statesmanlike:
    Perhaps we should wait and see – I doubt she will eat her words – unless some dramatic change has affected the situation.

  81. J. White
    September 18, 2017

    I am now more worried than ever that Hammond is pulling the strings. Even the opposition see a transitional deal especially of two to three ears as a chance to stay in the EU permanently! We voted out and that means completely out not paying into the EU coffers or being ruled by them. We don’t want what looks like the status quo for that time. If it’s free trade why are we paying? Strongly object to paying 30 billion when we owe nothing. Also if it’s a divorce one side does not get all the assets and all the money!! If this goes ahead it’s an election loser not winner.

  82. David Slavin
    September 18, 2017

    Mr Redwood. Excellent interview today. Very clear and coherent.
    Thank you.

  83. Prigger
    September 18, 2017

    There is more political meat in these articles by JR and the Comments than you find on TV and in the press. It is odd really. You would expect politico journalists be worth at least a penny and an unrequited sigh.

  84. brian
    September 18, 2017

    “Brexit could be easy”. Logically yes, politically no.

  85. Ed Mahony
    September 19, 2017

    – David Davis said that Brexit is more complicated than a moon landing
    – The Conservative Party is divided over Brexit
    – Brexit lacks a leader

    On top of that, you have to negotiate with the EU, negotiate trade agreements with non-EU countries, bring down immigration to satisfy leavers, deal with a crippling debt, deal with N. Ireland, Gibraltar and Scotland, above all keep the economy growing otherwise many leavers will turn against Brexit. Meanwhile you have to do all this whilst getting on with other crucial, non-EU matters, with the socialists breathing down the Tories neck—ready to get into power and where they will cripple our economy and mess Brexit up even more.

    Best solution is to remain in the EU whilst trying to reform it. This is what most people (both Brexiters and Leavers) and businesses would want in the long-run. It would also unite the Conservatives, keeping the socialists and others out.

    1. rose
      September 19, 2017

      Dear Ed

      This is not what I would want. The whole idea of the EU, whether reformed or not is anathema to me. European civilization is precious and unique. Once destroyed it will never return.

      1. Ed Mahony
        September 19, 2017


        How can you be opposed to close economic, cultural and security ties with Europe – as opposed to political ones?! Doesn’t make sense to me.

      2. Ed Mahony
        September 19, 2017


        If the German, Handel, hadn’t come to England, we may never have had the Messiah or God Save The King!
        Without being inspired by Italy, Shakespeare may never have written Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and so on.
        Very crude examples of cross-pollination of European culture! Most of the great European writers, artists, poets, composers and so on all spent much time in other European countries, learning and being inspired.


        Reply He came before the UK was a member if the EU!

        1. Ed Mahony
          September 19, 2017

          Same for the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. And we can thank our first Saxe-Coburg-and-Gotha monarch for inviting the German composer to England to write God Save the King ..

  86. nigel seymour
    September 19, 2017

    Ryanair observation remoaner Michael O’Leary – IT COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED TO A NICER MAN!!

  87. Simon
    September 19, 2017

    So John:

    To sum up. 15 months post the referendum the entire Government strategy for Brexit consists of the PM going to Florence to make a speech ?

    Forgive me if I do not believe for one second that leaving the EU is quite the walk in the park you have been advertising for a decade at least.

    Even the Legatum Institute are now taking steps (DT today) to distance themselves from the impending catastrophe which they themselves have advocated so fervently.

  88. Diogenes
    September 19, 2017

    GDP of EU28: 16,397.98 bn $ in 2016
    GDP of EU27: 13,779.09 bn $ in 2016, that’s EU28 minus $2618.99 bn for the UK.
    UK contribution to the EU budget: 19.5 bn, i.e. 13.45% of the EU budget.

    Potential increase in payment from EU27 GDP to compensate for the future absence of the UK contribution: 19.5/13,779 that is 0.14%.
    Each of the EU27 countries will have to be paying 0.14% more from their GDP to compensate for the UK hole in the EU budget.

    Me thinks that the EU27 must enjoy very much the present UK turmoil (May, Lawson, Johnson, Hammond, et al.).

  89. treacle
    September 19, 2017

    In a nutshell, Boris Johnson reaffirmed Mrs May’s Lancaster House position on Brexit, and said that Brexit is a good thing. So what happens? He is rebuked by the Prime Minister, and Conservative MPs are furious and call for him to be sacked. What are we to conclude from this? Presumably, that the government intends to resile from its stated position on Brexit and go against what the majority voted for, and that it does not wish to be seen as welcoming Brexit. Mr Johnson’s crime was to articulate a popular policy that is going to be ditched, and to express optimism about the country’s future. I have to say I find this extremely depressing.

  90. Na
    September 19, 2017

    Mr Johnson’s crime was to articulate a popular policy that is going to be ditched, and to express optimism about the country’s future. I have to say I find this extremely depressing.

    Some sort of Hegel dialectic? Hitchens told me not to trust Boris and we all know May is working for Jesuits and her role is to deliver the fudge.

  91. Martin
    September 20, 2017

    So what cunning plan do you have for the Irish border?

    Maybe pub owners and vacuum cleaner makers are not bothered about extra customs paper work, what about the car industry with Just in Time manufacturing processes where components are often sourced back and forth between the UK and EU-27?

    I note a lot of Brexit supporters are fond of the Commonwealth. Why isn’t Boris out in Burma sorting out that mess instead of writing for the Telegraph and swanning around New York?

    reCAPTCHA today asked me to click on verify when there were no roads left!!

  92. Lindsay McDougall
    September 20, 2017

    The time has come to insist on linkage between the free trade deal on offer and the size of the exit bill, if any, that we have to pay. As the EC is fond of reminding us, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

    On exit, we will maintain tariff free access for EU exports of goods and services to the UK. If the EU Member States do not reciprocate in full, we reserve the right to retaliate, especially if they attempt to hinder our exports by the application of non-tariff barriers. Retaliation will be on a Member State basis. It is not us who insist on treating the 27 EU Member States as an economic bloc.

    If we are to pay more than the legal minimum of 15 months of net contributions (from 1st January 2018 to March 2019) plus our share of pensions accrued by March 29 2019, we will need something SUBSTANTIAL in exchange. That something is the right to start negotiating trade deals with other countries now and to implement them one year before our exit, i.e from March 29 2018.

    This means presenting the EC with a fait accompli. Just do it!

  93. Simon
    September 20, 2017

    Here is your “You have been told. There will be no problems with air travel. ”

    I do not know who you think you are speaking to sometimes. But we will not swallow your blase assurances and be silent.

    1. R.T.G.
      September 21, 2017

      @ Simon
      You used quotation marks to quote Dr Redwood as saying, “You have been told. There will be no problems with air travel.”

      What Dr Redwood actually said above was, “The scares of no planes flying, lorries sitting in jams at Dover and trade disrupted are irresponsible.”

      The scares about which he writes also apply to The Guardian article, to which you refer, and I would respectfully suggest that you read it again, because, although the tone of the article is predictably doom-laden, the gist of it is that a trade association rightly wishes to be assured that any agreements and legislation necessary for its members (and which would appear to be in the interests of all the participating countries anyway – see need to be completed in a timely manner before any deadline.

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