The politics of identity shakes the European continent

The Catalan crisis is deepening. The Catalan nationalists tried to engage the Spanish state in talks after their illegal referendum showed a strong vote for independence with other voters absenting themselves. Instead of offering them a legal way forward, the Spanish state proposes to  double up on its unpleasant  behaviour when they sent in the national police to try to prevent the vote, by  now threatening to close down the Catalan regional government. If they go ahead as suggested there could  be a tussle over who controls the officials and police currently answering to the Catalan government, with loyalties divided and authority in question. The Catalan politicians are invoking memories of Franco’s regime which also tried to curb independent tendencies in Catalonia. They may want to carry on with their government in exile.  With an estimated half a million protesting today on the streets of Barcelona against the proposed Spanish action, it is not going to be an  easy matter enforcing what Madrid thinks should be the rules of Spanish state law.

This is but one of several cases of important regions of larger countries seeking to be independent or to have more autonomy. The typical pattern is for the richer parts of a country to come to resent the control of the wider state, particularly because the  state takes much more money from them than they get back as public spending in their area. In Catalonia they generate 20% of the National Income but receive only 11% of the public spending for Spain as a whole.

Yesterday in Italy legal non binding referenda were held in both Lombardy and Veneto over whether the voters want more autonomy. Here again money was an important topic. Lombardy provides over 50 bn Euros a year  to Rome which it does not get back, and Veneto over 15bn. When this is combined with austerity budgets to hit Euro area targets it creates resentments. It is difficult to know how, close to a  national election, the Italian state will respond to this strong  demand to keep more of their own money and to control their own migration and planning policies that has emerged in the referendum debates.  It is fuelling support for 5 Star and the Northern League, two parties that are polling well and hoping to benefit from this mood in the next national election.

Only in the UK has democracy prevailed, with the grant of a successful referendum to Scotland to settle the issue. There the nationalists argued that Scotland was a net contributor to the Union based on high estimates of future UK revenues from North Sea oil which the nationalists attributed entirely to Scotland. The subsequent sharp fall in the oil price and the continued decline in output from North Sea fields makes it clear Scotland is not a net tax contributor to the UK in the way Catalonia is to Spain or Lombardy to Italy, even if you accept the contested argument that all North Sea revenues should be attributed  to Scotland.

In Ukraine the Russian Crimea has split from the country, followed by a referendum organised under Russian auspices to validate it which was  not held with international approval or agreed standards and inspection  but which delivered a large vote in favour of secession.

The EU used to fan regional feelings through its encouragement of a Europe of the regions. It sought to promote and strengthen regional identities, favouring regional governments to  distribute EU grants. It likes regional languages and other signs of difference. It is strange therefore that now it is faced with the consequences of a greater sense of regional identity and the wish for more regional autonomy the EU recites the mantra that these are matters for the state concerned.  By saying this it sides against the regional political movements. I guess it assumes the states will win and they will retain control over the tax revenues which the EU needs to share to sustain itself.

 

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117 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    The typical pattern is for the richer parts of a country to come to resent the control of the wider state, particularly because the state takes much more money from them than they get back as public spending in their area.

    And this could be expanded to our rejection of the EU.

    It is also worth noting that, in the EU Referendum, it was England, and only England, that voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU and swung the vote for our. All other parts were pretty much for in and, in Gibraltar who must be looking at events in Spain with a mixture of glee and concern, voted 99% to remain in the ‘Stupid Club’.

    The Spanish government have acted in accordance with their laws. But did they have to act in the way that they did with regards to the police etc ? I think many would agree that just declaring the referendum void (much like some tried to do here by claiming it was just a consultative referendum) and ignoring it, they have acted very harshly. This will make things far worse and store up more resentment. I think the future for Catalonia and Spain and the other regions of it does not bode well. You simply cannot ignore the will of the people as the Tories will find out if they backslide on BREXIT.

    To paraphrase a politician who saw the inevitable: “The wind of change blowing through the continent of Europe.”

    • Mark B
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      Ademdum

      It is also worth asking. When will England get its referendum on its future ? And please, do not tell me that there is little public support for such. There was none for Scotland or Wales yet, they get their devolved governments and maintain their government departments to boot. All we get is regionalisation (EU Balkans) which we were never consulted on. Another layer of government we neither want, asked for or need. All delivered by the Conservative (sic) Party.

      So much for democracy prevailing 😉

      • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Indeed, an English devolved government would help to rebalance the Union and the creation of an English parliament based in Manchester would go some way to addressing the North/South divide.

      • JoolsB
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Well said Mark B. I have made a similar point but we will both be ignored. If only our self serving politicians could spend more of their time on the undemocracy that is England before they start lecturing the rest of the world or spouting off about Catalonia. They won’t of course because an English Parliament would mean a huge cull in their numbers and thus an end to the Westminster gravy train.

      • Hope
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        Do not forget the lies about Tories delivering EVEL in the steps of Downing Street. This was certainly not delivered.

        Meanwhile we read ministers asking UN not to use pregnant women term as it coul offend transgender people! FFS what is wrong with May? There is nothing wrong with the term but moreover there is plenty of other important issues than thus crap.

        We read EU demands we cannot have access to single market and control all our laws. May holding off in case of ministers resigning! Again, what is wrong with her? We voted leavento control our borders, money, laws and courts. We did not vote for an extension, ECJ to apply to anyone living here. She must stop this nonsense it is no up for negotiation. We voted leave. Now walk away.

      • John
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Well said Mark. I will keep shouting for England until the day I die. Don’t let the British beat us down!

    • Alison
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Re Scotland, the misinformation (from Remain) and ignorance (eg belief that Scotland gets lots of money from the EU) during the EU referendum campaign were appalling (and I have stocked up on records of this). And young people thinking warm fuzzy thoughts about being able to travel, be part of …. Those parts of Scotland suffering from the outset, from start of membership, fishing in particular, were not misled.

  2. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    The arguments seem to revolve around the strongest and nearest neighbours to the UK , that is Italy , Spain . France and Germany . What about all the others. We hear very little about them. Russia of course has a large land mass and areas of dire poverty.The BBC has recently focused upon this and I contend that rather than trying to see Russia as a threat , it is better to work with Putin for better prosperity all around.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Dear Miss–I have a lot of sympathy with that and would rather deal with Putin than Juncker

      • Mitchel
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        It will be interesting to see how Boris conducts himself on his forthcoming visit to Moscow;whether there is a covert agenda or whether he just regurgitates the Foreign Office position on the many contentious issues(Assad must go,Crimea must be returned,etc)particularly if there is a press conference.If the latter,an always well prepared Lavrov will eat him for breakfast.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Indeed some rather difficult problems, there will surely be much uncertainty (and probably much violence and instability in Catalonia as a result) – for some time to come. The Spanish government have dealt with it very badly indeed.

    I see that Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has
    opened up the old chestnut of ‘legislation to prevent gazumping’. I assume as a silly distraction from the real housing problems. These are:- absurdly high stamp duty, daft OTT/greencrap building regulations, high utility connection charges, high land registry fees, restrictive bank lending, restrictive red tape on banks, restrictive planning laws, bonkers & pointless expensive energy certificates. Nearly all are caused by government, over taxation and misguided red tape.

    We do not need yet more misguided red tape, Javid. Just sort out all these government made obstacles. Get them out of the way.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–I won’t hear a word against energy certificates–A poor score is a good indication that the property hasn’t been mucked about with (Cavity wall insulation etc etc)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        In my experience they tell you nothing that you can not see for yourself – in few minute walk around the property. The people doing them seem to have been given the most superficial of training. Certainly cavity wall insulation can be more of a liability (damp bridging and the like) than an asset. Often the work is botched.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      you missed out from your “housing problems” the terrible quality of new build houses, no accountability for building control inspectors (often the home owner can not find out who signed the house off as meetings regs, never mind hold them to account when serious problems come to light), terrible abuses of the insurance companies providing new build warranties, and so on…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Much truth in that and so many new builds are packed in like sardines and so have very little possibility of enlarging or improving them. Rarely is there sufficient parking for visitors either. Tiny windows too very often. to meet the greencrap building regs as cheaply as possible.

  4. Duncan
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Democracy is under attack both across the EU and in the USA. A political elite occupying positions of power appear determined to circumvent, what they see, as the inconvenience of democracy and the annoying interference of democratic elections

    Trump’s presidency is and will continue to come under direct attack both from within the US State and from well financed, well organised political activists. Here, democracy delivered a result that this elite found unacceptable and they’ve worked hard and will continue to work hard to undermine it.

    In the UK we have a media (BBC), a Civil Service and various politicians and political groups determined to undermine or indeed circumvent the EU referendum result. These forces appear benign but are in fact the biggest threat to western democracy in a generation

    The EU labels anyone who is anti-EU as ‘far right’ or populist. This slander tactic is designed to silence and criminalise those voices the EU find inconvenient and a threat to its power. The Polish government is a case in point.

    We are seeing a politics not seen since the politics of Germany in the 1930’s and it’s emanating from the left. Minority group politics is well financed and designed to destroy and silence politicians who they despise.

    Political power is not a commodity that can be passed on like parcel during a parlour game

    In western politics today the tail is wagging the dog. It is testament to Trump’s determination that he will not be silenced by militant activists and anti-democratic pressure even from within the US deep state

    Let’s hope this dangerous time passes without any significant damage to democracy. We need to see the re-emergence of nation state politics to keep democracy fresh and assert political accountability

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Mrs May was very quick to side with the Madrid government. I suppose she wants their support in Brexit negotiations, or the promised her the statement they put out on UK citizens living in Spain.

    • Hope
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      No, it helps defeat Spain’s claim on Gibraltar.

      JR, unfortunately we read how May begged Junker for help last week, does she not learn from experience? The aids having spats who leaked the information. We know as fact she asked, not demanded or advanced her proposals, for a deal she could defend! She is an utter embarrassment to our nation.

      Polish (person? ed) today reiterating the UK cannot have the same as a member or better than a non member of the EU. Again, Lords King and Lawson are correct the EU cannot give us the mythical deal May proclaims, otherwise the remaining 27 would wonder why be in the EU. Is it that hard to grasp? Leave, pay for existing contributions as a good will gesture to speed up trade talks. If this is not acceptable leave without paying a penny.

      No right of ECJ to any citizen living in this country, no rights above any other nation post 2019 for any citizen wishing to live r i.e. No registration scheme nonsense, remaining by another name. Our laws, courts money and borders as an independent nation. If not acceptable to Rudd and Hammond they can resign.

      • Alison
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately, Sunday’s FAZ article with the “leak” also said, on citizens’ rights for the 4 million affected, that London “has already come 80% of the way, according to internal sources [presumably in the Commission]. The biggest area of disagreement is likely to be removed over the next few weeks: the UK negotiators are now showing that they are open to allowing the European Court of Justice to rule on disputes after Brexit.”

      • getahead
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Good comment, Hope.

      • Bob
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        Turkey has tariff free trade without being an EU member, and they don’t have to pay any fee for the arrangement.

    • Frank Salmon
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      No
      She wants to keep Gibraltar

      • Kevin Lohse
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        More to the point, Gibraltar wishes to remain a British dependency. It’s that democratic choice thingy.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 24, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          “Democratic choice thingy” – well for some perhaps – will we get it for the UK under the ex (?) remainer T May?

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Another massive tax and huge inconvenience for Londoners today, the T Charge. The way to cleaner air is to clean up the mainly professional vehicles, buses, taxis , delivery trucks (and boilers etc). that run for many hours of the day. Not to over tax private cars and people getting to and from their jobs (who often have to drive) yet again.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Or to force them to buy newer more expensive cars which can actually be less environmental (taken in the round) than running the old one a bit longer.

    • James Doran
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Yes indeed. A massive tax and inconvenience and something the Conservative Party has not opposed in any meaningful way. Meanwhile John Redwood writes about regional identities in Europe, talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

    • Hope
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Labour encouraged the cars that it is now charging or rather fleecing the public to drive! This is an outrageous theft of money from the public with no reasonable basis for doing so. Green lobby twaddle taxing us all again. Brought by mayors that we the public did not want!

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I’ve had a repair bill on my car – I only have the car so I can get to work and be independent of the state.

      Being hit with an invoice for £350 is hard enough but having the government slap me in the face with a 20% vat bill when I’m already having to cancel social events because I can’t afford them is an insult.

      Why is there no tax exemption for commuters ?

      Why do they keep kicking us ?

      • Mark B
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Because you keep voting for them so have no compulsion to take you into any consideration.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        there are worse injustices… for instance anyone with knee problems who must drive an automatic car for medical reasons gets hit with extra tax on the car over an above the equivalent manual version… indeed the tax system encourages people to drive manuals who really should avoid it, probably pushing them into further medical problems

        bonkers

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        As usual the state sector are only really interesting in grabbing your money and delivering almost nothing. People having to go abroad for health care at record number I see due to the rationing and delays in the NHS.

        Air quality is just the ruse to try to justify the muggings. Surely no one trusts a word the ‘son of a bus driver’ says do they?

        More tax grabs from ‘tax borrow and piss down the drain’ Hammond very soon in his budget to look forwards too! If only the state sector delivered anything much of value for the circa 50% of GDP they waste?

      • getahead
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        Because they’re socialists Anymouse.

  7. Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Catalunya – Veneto – Ukraine – Lonbardy- Western Germany all pay up and get very little back.
    Germany pays a lot into the EU and gets very little back. Us ditto.
    Hence Brexit.

    PS Have you ever looked at this?
    http://ec.europa.eu/world/agreements/viewCollection.do?fileID=76200
    It is the end of the WTO argument. All the countries in the world need extra cover for trade with the EU. Even silly little countries, let alone china, Canada and the USA.
    So going it alone without that extra cover is going to lead to disaster.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile the Brexit bill is delayed further. The government is struggling to get it through, thanks to the many dire Tory remainiacs in the Clark, Soubry mode and May’s absurd ‘vote for me and I will punish you election campaign’. It is clear that Labour slowly moving back to being, effectively, ‘pro remain’ in all but name with the Kier Starmer agenda.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–Unfortunately, Pro Remain is only the half of it–If we don’t see this through and, worse, show weakness (At present the hardline Brussels types are quiescent for obvious reasons but that would soon change) we risk appalling scenarios such as our having to join the Euro to be allowed back in. Of course Remain voters must have realised that this would be the ultimate goal so presumably would have no problem with that.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        That, combined with a Corbyn government really would be a cliff edge.

  9. David Cockburn
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    When the EU decided that Kent, where I live, should be part of Nord Pas de Calais, that was when I decided we should be out of it.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Dear David–Beyond belief

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Indeed divide and rule!

    • Martyn G
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Not just Kent – picked up an English version of the Nord Pas de Calais tourist brochure some 8 years ago and its map included the whole of the then SE region of England. Up as far as Oxford, if I recall correctly. It seemed to pass everyone by and although I did at the time try to draw attention to it showing people the brochure none seemed interested. Government of course absolutely silent and unresponsive to what had appended to one of its regions. Also of course, there is no English Channel any more, as it became La Manche, nor can England be found on the map of the EU entity. Again, government totally since then indifferent.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The simple fact of the matter JR is that people the World over are getting fed up with large Government, and politicians who seem clueless of the real needs of the people.

    Governments have no money, all they have is what they can extract prime people who do, in addition they also borrow heavily in their name, meaning further taxes in the future.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Oops predictive text again “prime” should read, extract from people

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Indeed when government’s “invest”, which is usually short for “piss down the drain”, they only do so by preventing far better investors from doing this. This by taking the money off them in taxation or by government borrowing placed on them or their children.

  11. acorn
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The thing is JR, you are continually blaming the EU for problems that have been solely created by Neo Liberalism, particularly, populist nationalism, that has caused the likes of Trump, Catalonia and Brexit. Government intervention is back in vogue as the problems of the free market start to pile up. It’s time for the 99% to reclaim the State from the Thatcherites.

    • Frank Salmon
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      We need freedom from the likes of you, Mr/s/other Acorn

      • acorn
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Frank, you need the likes of me to lead you out of JR’s Neo-liberal Jurassic Park! 😉

        For instance, down-under, a former Conservative Treasurer has seen the error of his Thatcherite ways, and is asking for the Australian State to take over the private sector managed pension funds. (They still call them “superannuation” funds, like the UK did in the sixties.) https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/13/peter-costello-calls-for-nationalisation-of-superannuation

        This makes sense; semi Ponzi private and company pension funds, would get converted to a sovereign wealth fund and invested in schools; hospitals and other societal benefits. In the UK, the NS&I would be a ready made platform for the job.

        Pension funds nowadays out-live the corporates that create them; Mr Green’s BHS pension fund for example. AND; remember the government will never run out of Pounds Sterling to pay the pensions. Whether there will be anything available to buy, domestically produced or imported, is another question, for another post.

        BTW. Compulsory workplace pension schemes, will only benefit the Spivs who manage those schemes. If you want to slow down a domestic economy of any colour, you have three options. Encourage imports; increase taxes and promote savings/pension scams. They all take household spending power out of the economy. Add to that Conservative style Neo-liberal “austerity” and you have a recipe for stagflation.

    • Edward2
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Neo liberalism and free markets to blame acorn says.

      The State in the UK and Europe is bigger now, takes more money off us and interferes in more areas of our lives than ever before.

    • NickC
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, Are the “populist nationalists” the ones who vote for things you don’t approve of? I guess you think only Guardian/BBC/Momentum/Remain followers should have the vote?

    • Mitchel
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      We haven’t had truly free markets for a long time.The government intervention we should demand across the western world is the break up of unofficial cartels,especially the megabanks.Governments might then find it easier to govern in the interests of their people.

      Of course dismantling the megabanks might cause systemic collapse.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, let us all go back to the 1970’s. Blackouts, Three-day-weeks, unburied dead, power cuts, unemptied dust bins and on and on.

      Those were the days comrade ! Lets create a new Venezuela but less sunshine shall we ?

    • libertarian
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      Dear Tree Nut

      Go and read humanprogress.org then get back to me on problems caused by free markets. We haven’t had a free market since 1945 in the UK , we’ve had state intervention, its caused all the problems and hasn’t solved a single thing . You really are living 100 years in the past

  12. sm
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Mr Lifelogic – why don’t you start your own blog? Please???

  13. alan jutson
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Getting a little worried about so many in the cabinet, including Liam Fox yesterday, now saying we will not agree any payment settlement until we see what we are offered with regards to trade from the EU.

    I guess that means the offer of 20 Billion has not been withdrawn, so we are now looking at more money ?????

    Is this the softening up process ready for a huge payment.

    Daft, simply daft statements, when will our lot ever learn.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      The so called trade deal is a hoax, much like all those FTA we are currently negotiating but cannot in truth because it is against the treaties we signed with the EU.

      This is just something put out to allow them a means to get ‘nothing’ whilst looking like they got something. It was done by, Wilson and laterly CMD. And guess what, they are doing it again.

      All we need to establish is what we and they owe. What new arrangements regarding the Irish border. And the UK’s transition into third country status. Citizens of both the UK and EU can be given special status to remain in their respective host countries. This will require a treaty change and agreement.

      An FTA can only come after we have left. That is why we must NEVER discuss or agree on anything trade related.

      • Mark B
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Still in moderation ?!??!

        Obviously some painful truth lay within. 😉

    • acorn
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      They will learn when they get nearer the €73 billion Brexit invoice.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        How many years worth of true UK contributions to the EU do you calculate that figure on?

        • acorn
          Posted October 24, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          You could have a read of the following, but it won’t help. As I have said elsewhere, its the Pension Fund which will be the big hangover and; if we signed up for any commitments that run out to 2025.

          The debt is in a foreign currency (Euro); may need to lock in an FX rate soon. Fiscal number crunchers have done their bit and may as well walk away. The bottom line on the invoice will be a political decision. 😉

          http://bruegel.org/2017/03/brexit-bill-negotiators-must-answer-these-12-questions/

  14. eeyore
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    JR has taken a firm position on this very difficult question of self-determination. His strategy worked in Scotland. But what if a democratic solution led to Spain falling apart? Would that be a good thing? What would that say to Europe’s other disaffected regions?

    Faced with a similar problem Abraham Lincoln thought differently. So might we if London and the South-east, which bankroll the rest of the UK, should decide they’d be better off alone.

    We citizens shouldn’t forget that, from the point of view of government, things look different. We love self-determination but rulers (who in many countries are also masters) think only on power. JR’s very last sentence draws attention to tax revenues. He might well have moved the thought much higher.

    Reply My view is you should not try to keep a region or nascent country inside another country against their will. Occasionally you need to test the will where independence is a serious issue for a large number of people. The split of the Czech Republic from Slovakia shows these things can have happy endings and be organised simply

    • eeyore
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Thank you.

  15. DaveM
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    A logical and sensible post as always. And yet England – for whom you claim to speak – is not even allowed a First Minister or SoS. The UK govt (for that is what it is) should be careful not to throw stones at Spain or the EU when it lives in its own glass house.

  16. Ian Wragg
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Regions want to keep more of the revenue they earn.
    Brussels wants more of their money to prop up the corrupt regime.
    There’s trouble ahead as Brexit has demonstrated.
    Preaching austerity at home whilst negotiations continue on a £60 billion divorce bill will go down like a cup of cold sick with the UK electorate.
    The Mail reports we are to have free movement as long as they have jobs. Nothing against this in principle as long as there are no in work or child benefits or free access to schools and hospitals.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      “The Mail reports we are to have free movement as long as they have jobs. Nothing against this in principle as long as there are no in work or child benefits or free access to schools and hospitals.”

      I object to this very strongly: we are a people not a multinational coporation. Apart from anything else, would anyone like to produce the evidence that importing millions of people has actually improved our GDP (PPP) per capita rather than simply our GDP and has the increase in the latter actually improved our current account?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Quite

      Come to work and save if you wish but only at the paid rates. No top ups, no free services.

      Maybe we can use the child catcher from the Eastern European state in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to make sure we do not end up educating other countries’ kids at £5K+ per year

      • Anonymous
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        And only if it doesn’t put other people into unemployment, free services.

  17. JoolsB
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    “Only in the UK has democracy prevailed, with the grant of a successful referendum to Scotland to settle the issue. ”

    You are joking aren’t you John? How about granting England a referendum to settle the issue? Whilst Scotland, Wales & NI have all been given numerous referendums on how they wish to be governed, England is still waiting to be asked just once. What are you all afraid of?

    The UK is anything but a democracy. England is now the only country in the UK and western world without it’s own legislature and is still governed by politicians elected outside of England and those that are elected in England do NOT speak for England. In fact Heaven forbid the word England should ever pass their lips.

    How on earth does that make us a democracy?

    • Martyn G
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Where is the place you call England? I have searched the map of the EU and cannot find it, though Scotland, Wales and NI are there.
      Joking of course but does no one else remember that Gordon Brown (I think in 2008) was asked by the EU (Eurostat) whether he wanted England to remain identified on the planned revision of the EU map. He said no and so England vanished from the map of the EU.
      I suspect that the reason for no one in any government, past and present since joining the EU, are prepared to speak out for England is that they are frightened of stirring up the English who were historically the foundation rock, supported by its friends and allies, upon which Napoleon, Kaiser Bill and Hitler foundered. I wonder if it was once again England in the lead by its majority voting Brexit?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      JoolsB. Agree totally with your comments.

    • John
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Money and population talks louder than those referendums don’t you think. I get and to an extent do agree with what you say. However, England with its big Parliamentary majority and financial clout, perhaps gets its fair way enough times?

      • JoolsB
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        John you couldn’t be more wrong. Firstly, the parliamentary majority are UK constituency (not English) MPs on a UK mandate in a UK parliament whose constituencies just happen to be in England but who NEVER utter the word England ever if they can help it let alone stand up for it and demand a fairer deal. When it comes to voting, they vote along party lines, not national lines. Also their numbers do not stop unelected and unaccountable MPs from Scotland, Wales & NI poking their noses into English only business and overturning the wishes of MPs elected in England such as in the introduction of tuition fees and foundation hospitals in England and recently the extended Sunday trading laws. Unlike the Scots, Welsh & NI Parliaments, there are no MPs dedicated to looking after the interests of England or the English.

        As for financial clout, you are also wrong. The UK Government gives the English far less of English taxes per head than they give the Scots, Welsh & NI through the skewed Barnett Formula and not one word of protest from the UK MPs squatting in English constituencies. They have proved they do not give a toss about England and the rotten deal it gets post devolution. This is why England needs it’s own Parliament too with it’s own dedicated MPs elected only in England and it’s own First Minister and Secretary of State. Of course our self serving UK MPs know if this happened, most of them would be out of a job as nowhere near 650 UK MPs would be needed for the few remaining reserved matters. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas so as far as they are concerned, all 650 of them, England can go to hell in a handcart for all they care.

        England gets much less of English taxes than

  18. Duncan
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    When will this Conservative government abolish the opt-in system in the public sector? Anti-democratic and Marxist groups aligned to hard left unions and soft left unions are being financed by monies accumulated from the taxpayer through the scam that is the public sector opt-in system

    Without this funding Labour and their Marxist goons will struggle to up their attacks on democracy

  19. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I see details of Mrs May’s last meeting with Juncker were leaked to the Frankfurter Allgemeine. As this was 100% predictable one must assume she wanted all that information made public and had prepared it on that basis, which seems odd when you read it because it just makes her seem weak and pathetic.

  20. formula57
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Italy is much distinguished from Spain though as devolving extra powers to regions is contemplated by existing laws with referendums optional (and dispensed with in the present case of Emilia-Romagna’s efforts to win more powers) and the motivation is wholly economic rather than also to do with history and culture. The Northern League has evidently relinquished its claims to set-up a separate state.

    The Catalan secessionists though have all the appearance of chancers on the make and surely no-one takes seriously their protestations about oppression from the Madrid government.

    You do make a sound case for Scotland being cast off.

    • Zoë Carrick
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      You have been taken in by Miss Sturgeon’s rhetoric. The majority of Scots consider themselves British. Many of us would be delighted to see the so called Scottish Parliament obliterated. It’s just a talking shop for jumped up councillors with enormous egos and, in the case of the SNP, a lack of brain cells..The referendum for independence was won by the majority of Scots who wish to be part of the UK and are proud to be British.

  21. Christine
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The EUs intention is to destroy national identity not support it. They want to mix up the populations via immigration to achieve this and wipe the names of countries from the map of Europe. They want to spread the wealth from the rich to the poorer countries. The European people don’t want this hence the upsurge in popular parties being elected. British people are dismayed with our two main parties and like many other countries, the time is ripe for a new political party to emerge and run the country for the benefit of the people. Whilst Labour and the Conservatives fight amongst themselves, they are not following the will of the people and will pay dearly at the next election.

    • NickC
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Christine, Well said.

  22. Nig l
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Yes. The EU evolved post single market phase driven by centre left politicians who thought as they always do that they knew how to spend other people’s money better than they themselves, driven by a fear of a reemergence of German nationalism, sold of course with the rubbish that it had prevented wars.

    Of course dealing with Germany meant compromising every other country and this is what we still see but understanding, maybe, regions emotions, they pandered to them, hoping no doubt that would keep people quiet.

    What they never have understood and this is the same in the U.K. is the strength of ‘the tribe’ irrational maybe, but a fact if life.

    Tut tutting and perjorative name calling such as populist, aka the democratic vote if it goes the other way by a professional wealthy elite coupled with a internet that never forgets so a better than ever informed electorate giving them the ability to instantly flash form movements is putting traditional politics in real trouble. Brexit being a prime example.

    As we are seeing in Madrid, I fear that Politicians will increasingly take an authoritarian stance, as of course Junkers is doing and the Remain side in the U.K. Catalonia shows they do so at their peril.

  23. a-tracy
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Let’s not be smug about these European difficulties, we have enough problems with balance in England. Areas left to decay and rot from the Midlands right up to the Border area. A lack of transport, a motorway that has been reduced to 50mph and three-lane for three years whilst we’re seeing very little work and progress for that reducing everyone’s productivity and risk to life and limb through increased accidents, I was relieved at the weekend to read there may be a little progress there but it’s still not due to end for another 18 months – why the heck are three junctions on our main artery out of action for so long when they can’t possibly work on all of it at the same time.

    Increased knife crime – who are arming themselves with knives and causing this? Then we need to find out why they are?

    I read all about enormous house prices rises but we’re just not experiencing that in the NW other than pockets where our footballers live. But we’re also not experiencing improved public transport to transport people to where the jobs are. Our town is not connected to our nearest City, the town centre is not connected to our railway station, nor our hospital and after six transport is none existent. Our MPs should be concentrating on this whilst the Brexit team are busy instead of the likes of Soubry grandstanding every five minutes, how many failing schools and colleges does she have in her area because our MP has several with the smallest pupil numbers!

    I visit London I see a fabulous evening life with streets alive with people, I see regular fast transport connections, I see one bus after another giving on minutes delay between services, I see good theatre and museums and art projects I guess we’re left with Coronation Street and Emmerdale to entertain us! Our ambitious nephews and nieces, sons and daughters have to move South.

    “…..gangs are making up to £5,000 profit for every health tourist they smuggle into UK hospitals.” with regard to this allow the hospitals to bill the aid budget for this and make them go to private hospitals in Britain giving very basic treatment before returning them home who won’t affect NHS midwifery care.

  24. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    “Only in the UK has democracy prevailed” – hardly the case for England. Remember good old Dave in front of No. 10 after the Scottish Referendum promising more power for Holyrood and essentially the answer to the West Lothian question – EVEL. Maybe I dreamed it along with many of his other one hit wonders.

  25. Chris S
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    The differences in economic success between the regions of Italy have been skewing the political process for decades. The Northern League were once dismissed as cranks but not any more.

    Italy is almost entirely kept afloat by the Industry North of Florence. If the North was a separate country it would be richer than almost any other EU member state.

    Everywhere South of Florence is a drain on resources and below Rome the economy is a basket case. Efforts over decades to generate positive economic growth in the South have singularly failed. Back in the 1980s we even had the debacle of the Italian Government financing the building of a car factory in Sicily where the then-state owned FIAT group was supposed to produce Nissan Cherries badged as Alfas ! Needless to say it was a total disaster.

    In the current climate it’s no small wonder that the North is demanding more autonomy and to retain much more of the income they generate. If Rome treats this development in the same way as Madrid is attempting to subdue Catalonia it will end in the break up of Italy.

    What will the EU do then ?

  26. Iain Moore
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I get the idea the EU didn’t think their regional policy through, for in promoting their EU of regions they failed to work out the progression of these regions into the EU fold, which would have to be via exiting the EU before being readmitted, and here no state is going to be welcoming a region into the EU that had broken away from them.

    There is of course the other arm to their attack on the state , freedom of movement and mass immigration , which ex EU Commissioner Sutherland was happy to give voice to in the House of Lords when he said that immigration should be used to undermine the homogeneity of nations. Another EU own goal, for it is free movement and mass immigration which has mobilised people to reject the EU , not just in Britain but across the EU , as we see with the recent elections in Austria and Czech Republic.

  27. Bert Young
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Managing size is not a straightforward thing whether it be a business or country . Personalities play a big part in the splits that occur , they are mostly due to ambition and greed . I have always been a keen reader of biographies including those of politicians and , looking back over the years , it is no surprise how so many of them entered its ranks at an early stage in their lives in the belief that they would become No. 1 . The intrigue and wrangling that then subsequently occurred does make interesting reading and shows how prominent the cult of personalty is and how the public become confused . This is very true in the top ranks of business .

    Today we are witnessing an exact duplication of the personality cult in the conduct of world affairs ; it is therefore no surprise that continuity is unreliable and turmoil ensues . The knock-on consequences are a great disruption to all forms of public life where , often the efforts of tact , diplomacy and determination fail to sort things out . No matter what the pressure groups create to satisfy their own ends , personality always emerges on tops ; strong leadership is the only practical solution .

    Behind all the facts John refers to in his blog this morning , are personalities who all seek further identity and power . Democracy is a small and almost unrecognisable feature in the goings on .

  28. Jason Wells
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The EU is first of all an economic bloc, but of course it has political sides and it’s understandable that for EU cohesion it is necessary for regions to stick together as much as possible. In Spain’s case we have to realize that democracy is only thirty years old. The Spanish king who comes on TV a lot these days talking about democracy is himself the hereditary son of a king who was imposed on the people of Spain by Franco’s laws, via Franco’s constitution- so there are many things there that still need to be straightened out- maybe all of this could be leading to a change to some other type of constitutional make-up like a change to a Federal Republic of Spain that might be more acceptable to the people as a whole. Who knows? but one thing is for sure- Catalan breaking away by itself in this way causing chaos and possibly losing the umbrella protection of Spain and the EU membership without preparation and proper planning is not the way to go– they would be more successful in gaining independence if they played the long game

  29. ian wragg
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I see the latest OE survey finds 37% want WTO and no deal, up from 25% at the last count.
    It’s good to see that the great British public want to return to being an independent sovereign state without paying Danegeld to Brussels or having the ECJ interfere.
    Keep up the good work John.

    • Doug Powell
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Hear! Hear!
      What with the EU grovelling, Euro promoting, Brexit prophets of Doom par excellence, the CBI, demanding an early announcement of Brexit arrangements – Well, let’s give it to them! Announce that we are going to WTO by the end of the year!
      Decision made at one stroke! Everyone will then know where he, or she is, and can get on with making the appropriate arrangements to move forward.
      UNCERTAINTY ENDED!
      Let’s not have to go through another 17 months of the nonsense/waffle/crap we have had to put up with so far!

  30. PatW
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    We shouldn’t be so quick about clapping ourselves on the back about how good we are at democracy, if it wasn’t for the first world war and the upsrt to the social order we’d still be living in circumstances like ‘upstairs downstairs’ where only the toffs had a vote. One hundred years ago the Irish voted overwhelmingly for independence but it made no difference, independence was denied and we well know what subsequently happened, so now when I’m looking out of my back window I can still see Lloyd Georges border, invisible though it is today- but I can still see it.

    • Mitchel
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      “if it wasn’t for the first world war……”

      and the example of the Bolshevik revolution/coup which terrified the ruling classes right across western Europe.

  31. rose
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    “Only in the UK has democracy prevailed” – only a far as Scotland is concerned, not the United Kingdom. Democracy is in danger as the political class and the media have decided that they don’t like losing an election. They aren’t used to it, as they aren’t used to it in America. We had to put up with their victory in 1997 and the appalling damage it did to the country – constitutional vandalism from which we may never recover, out of control immigration which will change the country for ever, oppressive legal reforms, e.g. the “hate” legislation and other forms of thought control, tokenism writ large in every area of our national life…

    And now they won’t let us vote for independence. No wonder they and the EU are suddenly against it in Catalonia, having always been for it everywhere else.

    • rose
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I should have added to the list of terrible consequences of that 1997 victory the wars that were fought against the national interest and without a proper casus belli – and without proper equipment for our men.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    My wife and I have Spanish relations living in Spain but unlike some people I do not see that as a justification for interfering in Spanish politics.

    However I would point out that the present constitution of Spain was finally approved by a referendum in 1978:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_constitutional_referendum,_1978

    and in Catalonia 95% of those who voted supported that constitution – above the national average of 92% – on a turnout of 68%, a little above the average.

    So if a constitutional court appointed under that Spanish constitution declares that an official independence referendum in Catalonia would be unconstitutional and therefore unlawful I am inclined to think that all the Catalans should accept that judgment and they and the Catalonian regional authorities should obey the supreme law of Spain.

    It’s fine talking about this in terms of “democracy” but democracy means nothing in the absence of the rule of law, and if I was the Madrid government I would not shrink from the use of reasonable force to uphold the law of Spain in Catalonia.

    On the other hand there is a strong case for proposing a constitutional amendment to permit a legal independence referendum in Catalonia, just as in the UK there was an amendment to our uncodified constitution to permit an independence referendum in Scotland.

    The difference is that Cameron did not have to hold a referendum across the UK to get approval of the Section 30 order to authorise a Scottish independence referendum, while the Madrid government would have to hold a referendum across the whole of Spain to get the Spanish constitution amended.

    From time to time some political scientist or activist or other commentator pops up to say how much better it would be if we had a modern codified constitution, like for example Spain, but clearly there are pros and cons to that idea.

  33. VotedOut
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Those who see only benefits in the EU are blinded by its easy money and its multifaceted patronage system. They like the Byzantine impenetrable Eurocracy – provide someone else pays for it, usually the ‘little people’…the ‘plebs’.

    I am amazed at how spineless a lot of people have become after 40 years of Europe. Hesitancy stalks the land aided by the pro EU BBC, Independent and Guardian propaganda dished out in every news article from cookery to basket weaving.

    Go to the North of England and see the deprivation, and yet the people are proud. They are not knuckle dragging xenophobes, they are decent people proud to be British. They are what as a nation we once were before the easy money from Europe corrupted the political class. They should never be dismissed, because they are what we once were; confident, industrious and willing to stand up for our people, our land and the only place on Earth we the British call home.

    If I have to eat boiled grass as the price of freedom, so be it.

  34. michael mcgrath
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I see that there has been a “leak” concerning the talk over dinner between May, Juncker and Barnier alleging that May “begged”, looked “despondent”, “under her eyes she wears deep rings”, “like someone who does not sleep” and she is “tormented” ( courtesy G Fawkes)
    This reflects the incident earlier following a similar dinner at No10….Do I detect a pattern?
    The interesting thing is that Selmayr is denying that he is the source of the leak so saying, in effect, “this is true” but don’t blame me
    This form of scurrilous innuendo seems typical of the attitude of the Brussels elite and we should stand up and say if you will not talk sensibly we will simply walk away

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      michael

      Could all be fake news of course.

      Problem is we now do not have a clue who to trust because so many people tell porkies or are rather too economical with the truth.

    • getahead
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Simply walk away anyway. We have been far too tolerant with the EU’s machinations.

  35. Rob Jump
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Once again democracy is proved to be a sham in the EU. Time and again democratic votes are only acknowledged when they vote the “right” way. You can absolutely guarantee Madrid would have changed their minds about how illegal the referendum was if it had backed the Spanish government. Power and money are the only aims of elites across the world. Time for a lot more independence right down to the individual’s own freedom from the state. I back every region that wants to break away if for no other reason than small government is slightly better than big government.

  36. Epikouros
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    It is another example of how socialists and progressives perceive that the redistribution of wealth is the epitome of social justice. Forgetting that the net contributors to such a system eventually decide that for them they see little justice of them being forcibly deprived of their hard earned wealth to give to others who are less industrious. Trade, free markets and democratic government that allows for greater self determination and choice does more for social justice than remote multilayered or bloated bureaucracies that now make up the governments of our planet.

    Always when disillusionment and discontent reaches a point that people feel helpless against the ruling elite the people turn to revolution. Independence movements and the rise of populist political parties would appear to be the new revolutionary device in modern day Western nations. The catalysts I believe are that governments have become to unwieldy, undemocratic and authoritarian especially since the EU became blatantly federalist, immigration policies Merkel’s being the last straw, progressive’s suppression of free speech and the adoption of so many socialist practices. We are in for a bumpy ride whilst the rule of law that is the ruling elite’s law endeavours to impose itself over the frustrations and objectives of the ruled.

  37. Prigger
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Colonel Robert Alexander Stewart, DSO Conservative MP for Beckenham, was on TV today discussing whether ISIS terrorists should be viewed as anything other than armed enemies of the UK who have killed …and, other divergent questions. It turns out he is a remarkably patient and not easily flustered man especially given his armed services experience.
    Personally, I have had an ideology at odds with the prevailing UK wisdom. I never took up armed combat. But I feel I can understand what goes through a young man’s mind, living in a particular “community” in the UK …how the natural love one has for ones country becomes strangely intertwined with a foreign ideology which picks up bits of neuron pattern strands of thought and knits a complex anglo-foreign end-garment-uniform-flag.
    We should not have “communities” in the UK. No “Labour, Socialist, right-wing-left-wing Tory heartlands”. There should be Country…and then Politics. Separated in ones heart and the latter indeed geographically. Luckily, I had enough Country sewn into my heart because I was born close to the end of the war and patriotism was a mark of manhood and utter respect. Our current UK philosophy is less than desirable for it needs Patriotism , perhaps counter-intuitively to some, to weld us together. Diversity people…they know not what they do…they are on a path in creating the very opposite of their noble desires. We have been lucky because of their ideology that there have not been more “radicalisations”.
    Patriotism should not be a dirty word but THE Word!

  38. ian
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I also see that the uk gov is pushing on with Mr Hesletine. and eu plan to divide england into nine areas, with big cities having their own mayors, after the people in england voted against it. The gov is now in the process of draining all the money people get sent back from parliament to their councils. This is making councils shutdown local services. I understand that there will be one elected person in each area and city which will be the mayor with the other people on the board being unelected, each one to have a goldman sachs exes on the board to give guidance on what to do, how much to borrow, and who to give the contracts to. All 9 areas and cities will have the power to rases local income tax on the people as well as council tax on houses and businesses to be spent as the board see fit. The message is, divide and conquer the people for big business and bankers and steal their money through white elephant projects on borrowed money, paid for by higher housing tax and a new local income tax to pay for it all.

  39. NickC
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    JR, Headline in today’s Telegraph: “Theresa May ‘begged’ Jean-Claude Juncker for help – leaked account of private Brexit dinner”.

    She’s got to go. We can’t carry on like this. It is beyond useless, it is shameless appeasement.

  40. Yorkie
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Having worked with people who have unearthed more ground..in regard to building and demolishing and filled in all the gaping holes in our history as well as soil than any Professor of Archaeology, I may tell you that our history on York and Greater York paints it very much smaller than it was both in buildings and population. All other places on these islands were just a couple of streets in length compared with it including Lund-yon ( Wood -yon, Yon wood )( London ).
    Why our history books are filled with lies, who knows??? But if you want Identity to raise a bigger dragon than Wales, Scotland, Ireland and your biggest civic nightmare put together then keep poking the Northern Monster with your desires for Powerhouses.. Let us sleep!!!! You’ll thank me! We need London like a kick up the backside.

  41. Lawrence John
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    One small correction :
    “I guess it assumes the states will win and they will retain control over the tax revenues which the EU needs to steal to sustain itself.”

  42. Peter
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Regional interests over those of the nation. Very narrow identity politics.

    I suggest Merkel’s third world migrants are a bigger concern than continued union with fellow Spaniards.

    There was also a very big pro Spain demonstration in Barcelona yesterday. So it is not as simple as it seems.

    I also dislike the routine condemnation of Franco coupled with the lionising of Republican combatants. Republican combatants included many anarchists, communists and virulent anti-clericals. Again nothing is black and white.

    Anyway let Spain deal with its own internal politics. It is not our business.

  43. Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s crazy, the Catalan’s are still wanting to use the Euro if they gain independence.

    Without recognising it is the Euro that is causing all of their problems. The evil genius of the Euro.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/26/robert-mundell-evil-genius-euro

    I noticed the SNP have moved away from the idea of being a currency slave if they gain indpendence by saying now they would create their own free floating currency and central bank.

    It’s only taken them 80 years to come up with the right solution.

  44. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    And what about England? What about your slogan ‘speaking for England’. Not much mention of that again. Obsessive Unionism over-rides the rights of the English and England as usual. No true parliament. How is that just?

    Reply I made a promise on England in the 2015 election and followed it through with asking for a change in arrangements for considering English business in Parliament. Mr Cameron granted half of what I wanted. I did not renew an offer on England in 2017 as I felt Brexit took priority and we can only accept so much constitutional change at any one time.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: so yet again England’s young, sick and elderly can go to the bottom of the queue. Can we assume you no longer speak for England John?

  45. jonP
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    JR you’re such a wimp- typical colonel blimp style- we’re so great and everyone else is so out of step except us..give us a break. If we are leaving the EU then why go on about it? the talks are going on so what more can we do? except listen to Boris threatening North Korea and Iran through innuendo on behalf of the United States..hoping to curry favour i suppose..hoping for trade deals? well irrespective of trade deals, when the big war comes I hope that he enlists in the infantry himself so that he can get up there in the front line to have a good look at how things are going..he can even bring a tiger in the tank.. or maybe go whistling..

  46. Anonymous
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Brexit or no Brexit. The EU is in trouble.

    I’ve noticed all news on the Med crisis has ceased.

    Seeing as this it what has caused the rise in nationalism across the EU I wonder if the EU has anything to do with it. Certainly their supporters in the mainstream media will have felt the need to tone the news down.

  47. Alison
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    This latest FAZ “leak” article talks quite a bit about financial “dues”. Gutschker, FAZ on Sunday’s political editor, says that Mrs May must acknowledge the individual headings in the EU list of dues, and the actual bill to be paid will only come at exit. He nnotes the Commission calculates the UK’s dues as €60 bn, the Council at c€90bn. Picking up from Mrs May’s Florence speech, when she said that the UK will pay what it owes from its time membership, the article then says: “From the EU’s perspective, this in any event relates to invoices as yet unpaid (€31 bn), future pension costs (€9 bn), special funds €4bn), and the transfer of liability risks. Nobody is demanding that London sets down concrete figures now. The bill would first come at time of exit and could be paid off over a long period. Fundamentally, however, Mrs May must acknowledge the individual items.” (my translation)

  48. nigel seymour
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Autumn Re-Shuffle – Amendment 3

    Prime Minister/First Lord Treasury/Minister Civil Service – Rt Hon Theresa May
    Chancellor – Boris Johnson
    First Sec – Damian Greene
    Home Sec – Michael Gove
    Foreign Sec – Michael Fallon
    Defence Sec – Dominic Raab
    Health Sec – Jeremy Hunt
    Education Sec – Priti Patel
    Justice Sec – David Lidington
    Work & Pen Sec – David Gauke
    Transport Sec – Amber Rudd
    Culture MS Sec – Karen Bradley
    Local Comm Sec – Chris Grayling
    Business Energy Sec – Mark Harper
    International Dev Sec – Alistair Burt
    Dept EFRA Sec – Theresa Villiers
    Dept Exiting EU Sec – David Davis
    International Trade Sec – Liam Fox
    Scottish Sec – David Mundell
    Welsh Sec – Alun Cairns
    NI Sec – James Brokenshire
    Chief Sec Treasury – Philip Hammond
    Leader HC – Nigel Evans (error made on my initial post – not Adams)
    Leader HL – Nigel Lawson
    Chief Whip – Gavin Williamson
    Att Gen – Robert Buckland
    Party Chairman – Sir William Cash
    Tea Lady and Sandwich Maker – Andrea Leadsom

    • hefner
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      You forgot
      Unive sixty Minister: Chris Heaton-Harris

      • hefner
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Sorry, University Minister

  49. John
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    With the South of England and London it generates much income from a currency devalued by the rest of the UK but distributes say £60 to £80 billion annually to the rest of the UK in compensation.

    The case of Catalonia and Lombardy they are in the Euro zone and so would struggle to see the benefits of their out going income when its spread across say 24 countries?

    I can’t see their problems being resolved, another good educational article.

  50. Prigger
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr Speaker today joked in the House to the amusement of politicians irrespective of dental treatment that “repetition was not unknown to the Commons. ” All broke out into laughter, had hot crumpets with lashings of ginger beer then walked, hopped and skipped back home after their great adventures. But not before one hour of asking the PM the same questions round and about No Deal. When in the future they are all arrested they will say “Why?!” as usually knowing the rhetorical reply, then “Why?! then “Why?! then “Why?! then “Why?!
    The answer ” High treason, usage of public money and time whilst paid to be an MP” ” High treason, usage of public money and time whilst paid to be an MP” ” High treason, usage of public money and time whilst paid to be an MP” ” High treason, usage of public money and time whilst paid to be an MP”
    Their local newspapers will say Local MP X battles against the Law seeking changes enabling Treason and idleness” Local MP X battles against the Law seeking changes enabling Treason and idleness”Local MP X battles against the Law seeking changes enabling Treason and idleness”
    Then given more years in jail for not pleading guilty as is customary in British courts which have as much sense of real justice as a dog nit.

  51. am
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Noticed in questions today to may that two attempted to say there was no guarantee Britain could automatically assume it would gain access to wto immediately on brexit. May said it was being looked into without saying it would automatically be guaranteed. It seems the eu could not trade with us on wto terms if we could not trade with the rest of the world on wto terms. It sounded like scaremongering.

  52. Crazytimes
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Looks to me like the penny has dropped..look how glum looking everyone was today on the government benches..so then it looks like a hard brexit is out of the equation..has to be if there is not going to be a hard irish border..so then we can deduce a kind of deal has already been struck by the back door..all that needs to be done now is to work out the mechanics and then to choreograph it..all the uncertainty will be removed by christmas..big business demands an end to it..no more playing games..all comments like going whistling..or tigers in the tank is finished..and we’ll hear no more talk about doing deals overseas from Liam Fox or Gove..great.. so now then what kind of a deal will we end up with?..probably something like- we’ll leave the EU but remain in the customs union..that will save us lot of trouble..probably we will also have to give a nod to the ECJ on matters concerning EU nationals but for that in exchange the movement of people in and out of the UK will be restricted..just my take on matters..will sleep much better tonight

  53. agricola
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    The position of the Madrid government is technically correct, but what does it say for their so called democracy and constitution that denies freedom of expression via a referendum to their most important province. Rajoy has screwed up big time with this one. Had the referendum been allowed he would have won. As it is he has just increased the independence vote and is on the way to destroying his best source of provincial income. Acting like Franco is not gaining him any brownie points.

  • About John Redwood


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

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