Mrs Merkel, Mr Macron and free trade

The Merkel and Macron speeches at Davos were hailed by the media as statements promoting free  trade. If we are to believe them, they should take up the UK’s offer of a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and EU and make sure it is complete by March 2019.

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126 Comments

  1. Ian Wragg.
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I see the cracks are starting to appear
    Finland has said they won’t pay anymore into the EU budget and expect a comprehensive trade deal with the UK.
    Of course Juncker thinks that the EU should continue its extravagant ways even after we’ve left.
    The EU is run entirely for the benefit of the officials gravy train.

    • Hope
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      JR, suggest you read Guido for a quick reference what Hammond said at Davos. No slap down or public rebuke from May for his pro EU comments to stay closely as possible to remaining!

      Rees-Mogg revealed quite a bit from the useless Davis yesterday. There is absolutely no point whatsoever in the extension other than to try to change our minds, once again. Oust May or oust the govt. I do not care which. Time for both parties to tell the public they are not going to fulfil their promises or act on the referendum vote or leave by March 2019.

      Staying for another two years under the exact same rules without a voice or freedom to trade elsewhere whil paying billions- twice the amount now- is by anyone’s standards a bad deal. Phase one neither achieves nor helps business one jot.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted January 25, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        Good Evening Hope, you make some very good points and if your darker predictions turn out correct we are indeed in trouble. Do not yet lose all Hope (pun intended) if you read the other comments such as that above, perhaps the gentle approach may be starting to produce results. We need friends within the EU to pressure, particularly the Germans, to instruct EU clerks to get constructive. I would like to see a hard time limit, such as 30 -3-19, that will focus minds. Frankfurt and Paris would then not have time to replace London in the financial services market.

  2. Bert Young
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Absolutely agree !.

  3. ChrisS
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    They won’t of course, because whatever they say publicly, they are intent on punishing us for having the temerity to leave their sacred institution.

    What our Government has to do in advance of the negotiations is to ensure that the blame for there being no decent trade deal, rest squarely with the EU 27.

    The UK making an offer to continue free trade is only the first step. When negotiations start, I would like to see another public speech by Mr Davis or Mrs May addressed to the people of the whole of the UK and Europe, restating in clear terms what we are offering. That will put Brussels on the back foot in the public arena.

    • margaret howard
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      When de Gaulle said NON to British membership it was the Germans who backed the application and eventually succeeded. I bet they have regretted it ever since. So no doubt they are going to breathe a huge sigh of relief when Brexit is finally achieved.

      • Andy
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        But it has been the Germans who have engineered Brexit. Had Merkel been a better politician she would have compromised, but all she ever did to David Cameron was humiliate him.

    • James Snell
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 2:48 am | Permalink

      ChrisS…we are leaving so why go on about a deal with them..we voted to leave so that’s what wr should do
      .if we wanted a deal so bad we should have remained in

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Indeed but the EU not not about free trade at all, quite the reverse. Especially in France.

    It is about protectionism, one size fits all, high taxation, killing any residual democracy, killing individual freedom, a hugely damaging single currency and big (anti-democratic) bureaucrats know best.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately May, Hammond and rather over half the Tory party seem to like this agenda.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        It seems they would rather virtue signal about waitresses in short dresses at the Dorchester and artificial intelligence.

        What about some intelligence and sensible action at numbers 10 and 11 to lower taxes, sort out the appalling NHS, get out of the way of the productive, cut the green crap, sort out defence and the likes?

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          nothing about the women only events where the male staff get abused I notice

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 26, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

            Indeed Newnight (25th) had someone going on & on about how dreadful it was last year and how upset she was – but then it turns out she did the job again this year!

            There was no sensible questioning of her by the BBC needless to say. Words just read out by an actress. I assume these jobs were not actually made available to many men! So it was actually anti-male discrimination perhaps?

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        I see Mr Hammond made a “stay as close as we can to the EU” for the benefit of all in Davos today.

        How much longer can May put up with this sort tripe, unless of course she agrees with it.

        Will he get dressed down, and made to look foolish ????

        Amazing how we are continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot, or probably better, our negotiators in the back, time and time again.

        When will May get a real grip !

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 26, 2018 at 6:19 am | Permalink

          Indeed, and he is a dire tax borrow and piss down the drain chancellor too.

    • stred
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Freetrade providing it all complies with onerous regulation which only multinationals and CBI members can afford. All stitched together at Davos and Bilderberg meetings by IMF chiefs and political placements.

  5. Shieldsman
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    They have said the same thing about expanding WTO time and time again, but it is meaning less. When it comes to the EU and EEA they are protectionist.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Exactly !

  6. Bob
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    “The Merkel and Macron speeches at Davos were hailed by the media as statements promoting free trade. If we are to believe them, they should take up the UK’s offer of a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and EU and make sure it is complete by March 2019.”

    Good point Mr Redwood, something that the MSM seem to have overlooked.

    Do you believe that the UK is becoming a vassal state?
    Do you know why the word implementation been replaced with “transition”?
    Is this some kind of sleight of hand?

    • Bob
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      C4 news said that Mrs May told the POTUS that we can’t deal until 2021.
      Until then the UK will be subject to all EU laws even new ones that don’t yet exist.

      I think this needs rethinking. Get the new deals agreed now, with commencement on 29th March 2019, sack Mrs May, P Hammond and Mr Carnage and invite Mr Trump to the UK for a state visit without further ado.

      Let’s restore some sanity to this country.

  7. Prigger
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I have just heard the Chancellor Mr Hammond being interviewed at Davros. He was asked about Trump’s protectionism. Diplomatically he skirted around Trump as a centre of protectionism but absolutely astonishingly said he himself was in favour of free trade just as our being in the EU gives us free trade. Cor blimy!! Tell that to a Chinaman tryin’ to flog you a solar panel for a penny with change!
    Our Chancellor does of course, professionally speaking, live in an entirely different world from the one the rest of us inhabit.

    • Prigger
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Davos. Not Davros, I was thinking of the creator of the daleks for some reason.

  8. Hope
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Merkel banging on with her EU defense and security policy to equal China and the US. She is a menace to world peace. Her EU expansionist and dominance views dangerously close to 70 years ago.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      See my post from today’s previous topic.

  9. Andy
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    To have free trade you have to have standardised rules.

    And Brexiteers voted against standardised rules.

    Having voted against free trade it is ironic that you claim to want free trade.

    Your position is incoherent and illogical.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      No you do not need standardised rules to have free trade, you have to have mutual recognition. The Australia-NZ FTA is a good example.

      • Andy
        Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        The Australia NZ agreement is like a second-hand Nissan Qashqai of trade agreements. It’s great for you if you are upgrading to it from a 1970s Robin Reliant. Under those circumstances it works. But it’s middling at best and the UK is not upgrading.

        With the single market we currently have the brand new Bentley Convertible of trade deals. It’s a top of the range model. Nothing else comes close. Our model has everything on it.

        But you’re unhappy with this top of the range stuff. It’s not good enough for you. And for some reason you think you’ll be happy when your top of the range Bentley is replaced by a second-hand Nissan. Oh dear.

        • Richard1
          Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          What a silly reply. There is no logical reason why tariff free trade, mutual recognition of standards in products and services etc requires supra-national government. It was the complete failure of Remain to make a case for that which in the end led to the referendum result. But you should relax – as you look around the world it is not obvious that high growth and economic dynamism depends on EU membership. Many independent countries seem to be doing quite well!

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          No mention of the costs of your ‘free trade’.

          HUGE costs.

    • zorro
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Nonsense, you do not need ultra conformity or standardised rules, you need mutual recognition….. By the way, the EU club is not free trade. It is a protectionist club. It costs money to be a member and it restricts free trade with the silly, restrictive CET!

      zorro

    • Edward2
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Andy
      Yet again you show your lack of knowledge about international trade.
      UK manufacturing exports all over the world.
      There are many different rules standard and regulations.
      The UK routinely meets those requirements in order to sell their products and services outside the UK.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      There is nothing *free* about the EU economic area.

      It comes with strings attached – for the privilege of running a trade deficit.

      – loss of sovereignty
      – loss of borders
      – loss nation
      – loss of identity
      – loss of money

    • libertarian
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Andy

      One day you will actually ask someone that actually trades internationally before posting your silly opinions.

      Its called mutual standards recognition, it works quite well too.

      As to the so called single market , its a myth there actually isn’t one. The single market in goods ( less than 20% of economic activity) isn’t very good either. Try putting a UK plug on an electrical device for use in France

      The EU so called single market is also NOT a free trade area, to use your analogy its a moped in a Ferrari world , one gear , slow speed, protected market

  10. zorro
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    True, true….but then why should they when they know that they can play T May like a fiddle and she will come running and conceding. Enough is enough, time for someone to call her out on this horlicks and challenge her. Nothing to lose as you will be destroyed at the next election if this continues. Even if it means a Corbyn administration to force a genuine Conservative alternative in a few years….. If someone challenges her, she won’t stand, she will run. She can’t hack it in a competition and would not be able to debate with a challenger. I will assume that Boris is preparing for this as he knows that there is no point otherwise…..

    zorro

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      What was it Lenin said the eve of the storming of the Winter Palace –

      “History will not forgive us if we do not assume power now”

      (And May bears more than a passing resemblance to Kerensky!)

  11. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Just what I was saying yesterday John. They spout on about how important free trade is and they are open for business and then make things as difficult as possible for us. I wonder what the others think of how Germany and France are pulling the strings? All done for their advantage and stuff the rest. Many other countries do a lot of trade with us. They won’t want us walking away. I hope we do and soon. They are hoping we don’t have enough confidence in our own abilities. There is no reason we shouldn’t have and every reason to think we can make our own way again.

  12. James Snell
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I’m sure they’ll take up the opportunity for a comprehensive trade agreement but I doubt if it will be free and I doubt if it will be done by March 2019..better get real..it takes years longer to bring about such deals..we need a bespoke arrangement for services etc..its just not going to happen that easily without a quid pro quo which will breach our red lines..so can’t see how this is going to ever work.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Free trade for who exactly ?

    • James Snell
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 2:51 am | Permalink

      There is no such thing as free trade it has to be paid for in one way or another..just like everything else

  14. Epikouros
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    They may give lip service to free trade but in reality they have no intention of making it their policy. Every national government will not implement free trade despite the enormous benefits that even if they did it unilaterally it would bring. They will not do it as having created crony capitalism because of protectionism they cannot now face the wrath of big business or the wrath of the public. Who needlessly and misguidedly believe a negative current account is an aberration, which it is not. That it would lead to mass unemployment which it would not. Certainly a few jobs would be lost but considerably more more jobs would be gained something that new technology, changing consumer requirements and domestic competition are doing in considerably quantities everyday anyway but not generally noticed or arousing the same passions.

  15. Brit
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Mrs May is on Bloomberg very soon. Hope she doesn’t go on about Trump like a silly mayor.

  16. Duncan
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    It isn’t these two you should be targetting John but the leader of the Tory party. It is Theresa May who is the fly in the ointment.

    Euro-sceptics should either grow some cojones or raise the white flag and call it a day

    Articles of this nature have become pointless, meaningless and worthless without meaningful action. They’re simply words and achieve the square root of nowt

  17. formula57
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Some hope! The rejoicing at free trade is surely just a means of obliquely attacking President Trump, he who has done so much to unsettle Chancellor Merkel.

    Tariffs on washing machines from Korea. If that does not make America great again, I do not know what will.

  18. agricola
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The EU is essentially a protectionist trade area and France is perhaps the leading offender with a CAP designed to protect it’s inefficient small farmers. They are a lot of votes so they have to be indulged. If you are looking for proof, consider how long it took to get a failed free trade agreement with the USA. So any statement Macron/Merkel might make on the subject is a smoke screen to cover their lassitude in coming to a free trade agreement with the UK, and all because of the precedent they fear it may create. While I would trust Boris and a few such as yourself to approach our discussion with them on trade I am very sceptical of the same clarity from our team under May.

    • agricola
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      PS.
      Mrs May should remember that she is in these negotiations with the EU to respond to and satisfy the democratic mandate that 17.5 million UK citizens gave her to extract us from the EU, with or without an acceptable trade agreement. The desires of Members of Parliament , the House of Lords, or the Civil Service are totally peripheral to this end. That we would all prefer, Europeans and UK citizens alike, is a future trading and financial services arrangement that mirrors what we have at present. Call it what you wish, but do not try to attach to it the baggage of belonging to the EU. If this is not realised and acted on then prepare for political upheaval in the UK, and a further depletion of the EU dream for all the citizens of Europe.

  19. Know-Dice
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The Internal Market and Customs Union can never be seen to promote “Free Trade” especially to Third World countries.

    About time Spreadsheet Phil and Weak & Woolly understood that.

    To tie our hands to both of those gives us no freedom to negotiate the best deals whatsoever…

  20. Chris
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Far better was the U S Commerce Sectretary (Wilbur Ross) address to the globalists at Davos: (videoclip and transcript on The Conservative Tree House website):
    Wilbur Ross Shreds Globalists at Davos “We don’t intend to abrogate leadership, but leadership is different from being a sucker and being a patsy”…

    Apparently you could hear a pin drop. I would love to have been a fly on the wall.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      “but leadership is different from being a sucker and being a patsy” is exactly correct, and is exactly the kind of thing the British politicians should be saying

  21. DaveM
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    You say that as if France is still a sovereign state. Unfortunately it’s not – it’s a province of the EU that takes direction and orders from Brussels.

    Therefore trade agreements are not Macron’s decisions to take. Much like the UK until it finally frees itself from the EU’s shackles. Unfortunately, the PM which you and your party chose and continue to support seems to have little appetite for such freedom.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Here, hear.

  22. Iain Gill
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Since Graham Brady only needs 48 MP’s to ask for a formal vote of no confidence in Ms May, and he already has “more than 30”, then all I can ask is you get your letter in to him quick John.

    This failure of a PM, weakly delivering more open door immigration, and Brexit as close to staying in as is possible to imagine, has got to go.

    • ChrisS
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Yours is a ludicrous suggestion.

      The last thing we need at this crucial time is for the whole Brexit negotiations to be stalled for three months while there is a leadership election followed by a couple of months for the new PM to appoint a new cabinet and agree a strategy for the negotiations.

      It would have a catastrophic effect on the terms of any deal and the transition period would almost certainly be extended past the next General Election.

      That would give an opportunist Labour leader the chance to reverse Brexit if they campaigned on remaining in the EU and won.

      Whatever your feelings on Mrs May, we have to stick with her and get Brexit done and dusted. There is zero chance of the party allowing her to lead them into the next election so a change of leader will happen as soon as Brexit is dealt with.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        We are not negotiating, we are simply giving in to everything they ask for, as Mr Hammond has made clear in Davos this governments version of Brexit is as close to the status quo as possible, including free movement which will be completely unacceptable to the British people regardless of what the political class think they can get away with.

        This is sadly going to end up as violence on the streets if the democratic will of the people is not delivered, and that includes the reductions in immigration in the governments manifesto, and the stopping of free movement.

        There is a massive betrayal of the British people going on here, the political class have a lot to answer for.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          And it seems we are only a small number of MP’s short of forcing the issue, so Ms May’s days are numbered, the sooner she jumps before she is pushed the better.

  23. Cobwatch
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Do as we say, not as we do…i do not believe them.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    If Merkel and Macron sincerely wished to fulfill the relevant commitments made by their countries through the EU treaties then they would be promoting free trade.

    They would certainly not be proposing to unnecessarily reinstate previously existing barriers to trade between the UK and the continuing EU just because we are no longer prepared to accept their arbitrary, economically unjustified, politically motivated and quasi-religious linkage between trade and immigration, their dogmatic assertion of the inseparability of their “four freedoms”.

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2017/08/30/mr-draghi-wants-more-free-trade-so-why-not-accept-the-uk-offer/#comment-886295

    “It’s not just Mario Draghi who wants more trade, ostensibly that desire runs all the way through the EU treaties and our diplomats and other representatives should be actively pointing that out to governments and other influential bodies around the world and making sure they fully understand that when they are dealing with the EU they should always expect to be dealing with hypocritical and untrustworthy people.

    Apart from the general Article 8 TEU on the EU’s neighbourhood policy, mentioned above, here is a list, not necessarily exhaustive, of other relevant provisions in the EU treaties … ”

    An expert witness before a recent meeting of the Commons select committee on Brexit made an interesting comment about this:

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/exiting-the-european-union-committee/the-progress-of-the-uks-negotiations-on-eu-withdrawal/oral/77049.pdf

    Dr Bartels, in response to Q553 from Stephen Crabb:

    “… I was struck once again by the emphasis on the apparent indivisibility of the four freedoms. I would just like to say that that is quite clearly not the case from an economic point of view. It is a very handy ideological, even religious, thing that one might say about how the EU operates, but there are plenty of examples of where the EU carves up these freedoms … ”

    The reality is that we are dealing with a bunch of untrustworthy hypocrites, and even if our government cannot come out and say that in such blunt undiplomatic terms it should make damn sure that the truth is well understood around the world.

    So far Theresa May has been excessively keen to keep up a warm and friendly appearance and she has allowed them to get away with it, but that needs to change.

  25. Jacey
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    David Davis gave some deeply worrying answers to Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday.

    • Andy
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. He demonstrated himself to be totally, embarrassingly clueless. As Bertie Ahearn said today David Davis gives the impression of not understanding what he is talking about. He’s either a very good actor or he genuinely doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. My money is on the latter. It’s a trait shared by most Brexiteers in government.

      • cornishstu
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        I think he understood very well but to come out and agree with JRM would be to let the cat out the bag hence the the mock laugh and put downs.

  26. Iain Gill
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Oh dear another French blockade of Calais.

    Staggers me how business carries on with such constant disruption.

    At least it shows that French fishermen have a political voice, more than the rest of us have.

  27. Helena
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The UK has a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU. And it has chosen to leave it.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      No the U.K. has chose to leave the political union – which in the EUs mind is a necessary condition for free trade with another European country. That is a political choice by the EU, there is no economic or commercial necessity for single European government in order to have free trade. Neither during nor since the referendum have Remain even attempted to explain the logic of this linkage.

    • John
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      What is free about £19.5 Billion a year and rising, ECJ supremacy, 60% laws written by Brussels and no control over borders?

      Doesn’t sound very free to me. The Canada deal for instance IS a free trade deal. No payments, not supplicant to ECJ and no loss of boarder control and no massive payments.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Helena

      Really? Really, dont ever try and run a business. There is absolutely NOT a free trade agreement in the EU internal market. Its a customs union, go look it up. Its a protected market . Why do you think French fishermen are striking at the moment

  28. Bacchus
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    It astonishes me how often Macron and Merkel reflect the wishes of French and German voters, rather than British voters. Can anyone explain why this is?

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Bacchus

      Macron did say on the Marr show on Sunday that if the French people were given a choice they would probably vote to leave as well, that is why he will not give them a choice.
      Remember he is still in his honeymoon period, give it until the end of the year and see how he stands then, not many like a too close relationship with Germany, because the Germans always get their way, the French come second.

    • John
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      All the more reason why we should not be dictated to by them.

  29. Peter Parsons
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    A comprehensive free trade agreement is in place today. It is the UK who has chosen to walk away from a comprehensive free trade deal.

    Any new deal will require compromise on both sides. Is the UK prepared to compromise? If so, how? Are hard line Brexit supporters prepared to accept the compromises which will be necessary?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Nope, I am not prepared to accept a continuation of unrestricted immigration from the rest of the EU because of their refusal to separate trade and immigration.

    • matthu
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      It is not a free trade deal as long as we are required to contribute to the EU budget, is it?

    • libertarian
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Peter Parsons

      If you believe the internal market in goods is a free trade agreement , do you want to buy a tower in Paris or a bridge in London?

      Naive and gullible

  30. MrVeryAngry
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    They won’t. They don’t mean ‘free trade’. They mean ‘trade as regulated by the EU in it’s own interests’. And they cannot afford to do a real free trade deal (which is an oxymoron in any case) with us as lots of other nations will immediately say, ‘righty ho off we go and we’ll all have one of those please?’ and that’s curtains for the EU and the cashflow that keeps Juncker and Barnier et al in Champagne and caviar.
    Fat chance

    • Mark B
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Correct. And, it also protects inefficent business and keeps cots high.

  31. lojolondon
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Excellent point, John. But they are just words, unfortunately, they do not mean any of what they say. Last Sunday on the Andrew Marr Show, Macron said that he wants Europe to be more democratic, to listen to the people. Then he also said that if France was to vote on the EU it is likely they would also vote to leave.
    His quote was repeated over and over again in every paper and on most headlines, but even so, the irony of the contradiction and the obvious next question was totally missed by Andrew Marr and unremarked by the rest of the BBC.

  32. James neill
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Never mind Macron and Merkel..hands up those who think Trump might have anything to offer to help the world economic situation..am waiting for his Economic Forum speech..but don’t hold your breath

    • Chris
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      He has a huge amount to offer, but the globalists who protect big business and cartels will find the sea change difficult. The wealth and prosperity that Trump has created in the US already is well evident, and the globalists are going to have to take note – tax cuts, pay rises, bonuses, very large numbers of new jobs created, wealth and jobs brought back to the US with relocation of industry by the giants. Trump is promoting “economic nationalism” (listen to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s address yesterday at Davos) but that means looking outwards but making sure of fair deals for the US and its people i.e. the nation. There will be movement of labour but based on the skills/talents that are required in the US. Sounds good to me. Hammond take note. (An example: Trump has just put tariffs on certain Samsung materials for washing machines, so apparently the Samsung response is that they will now build new factories in the US instead of “overseas” in order to produce said goods for the U S market).

  33. ian parkinson
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    A rubbish transition period during which EU has no incentive to negotiate something to follow, and then a never ending Norway++ which is worse than staying in and far worse than leaving and unilaterally adopting free trade. That seems a pretty poor outcome for the country and for whichever party leads everyone that way.

    When the vote comes on whether to accept the negotiated deal where is the detailed, well articulated clean exit option? Wouldn’t be a bad outcome if that vote was lost, May stepped down, and someone who articulated a positive open vision stepped up. If the EU believes in free trade I would expect them to mirror whatever we adopted, if not then yet more proof of why leaving is the right choice.

    Lack of transition agreement is fine, you can get 90% unilaterally. Any teething issues (always present on any change) would be quickly out of the way and a few years of strong growth from the more open policy before any election. The transition period puts the end of the transition at the end of this parliament making a joke of both the next election and the attempt to figure out what follows this transition.

    And you would hope the UK is doing very detailed work on the unilateral option as there is no guarantee that the EU side will even manage to vote through this transition deal. It would be better for industry to have some clarity on this now, and would help with the negotiations, whereas secrecy serves little obvious purpose.

  34. HollyH
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    We voted to leave so why is Mrs May still dithering? talking about relatiobships..we dob’t want relationships.,we voted to leave..we want to leave..we don’t care about banking or the london city financial services sector..mattets nothing to me..we jyst wznt to keave like wr voted fir

  35. Robert P Bywater
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Bien entendu! Prima! Ausgezeichnet! They are beginning to “get it”. One hopes.

  36. John
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that in both cases what they say and what they are trying to achieve are often different things. Certainly if they are in favour of free trade then what they actually mean is free trade with the exception of the UK, who both seem grimly determined to punish for the outrage which is carrying out thier electorate’s wishes.

    If Mrs Merkel is genuinely in favour of free trade, then she should also put her finance minister, trade minister and other collegues to tow her policy line, instead of issuing continuous threats to the UK in the press, as they have been doing.

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I read that David Davis has said about EU citizens:

    “There’s never, ever going to be a circumstance where we’re going to be deporting people.”

    Well, I would slightly qualify that by inserting “well-behaved” and adding “who are already legally settled here”, but I think it is a great pity that Theresa May took rotten advice from the EUphile civil servant Sir Ivan Rogers and suggested that their futures would depend upon the behaviour of politicians in their countries of origin.

  38. Freddie Trey
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    We can have a standard FTA tomorrow…as Macron says ‘be my guest.’ What is it you want John? Tough choices ahead. Having your cake and eating it no longer suffices I’m afraid.

    Reply I want to leave and to trade on WTO terms if they really want to impose tariffs and barriers on their exports to us which still seems unlikely

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      What tough choices in particular? Like, shall we continue to have effectively no legal control over immigration from 27 countries with a combined population of around 500 million for the sake of 1% or maybe 2% added to our GDP, equivalent to natural economic growth over less than a year?

      • Freddie Trey
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        How do you intend to sell Services if they do not include freedom of movement? By definition the two are linked.

        On another point is simply not true that we had no legal control over immigration while within the EU. We chose not to impose perfectly legal restrictions.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 26, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          So how do we sell services to any country in the world without having unfettered freedom of movement of persons?

          And why then did David Cameron waste time and effort on trying to recover power to control EU migration?

    • Henry Spark
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      Surely you know that “WTO terms” does not help our exports of services – and we are a services economy. You are in danger of making yourself foolish, Mr Redwood

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        Oh, for crying out loud, just have a look at Figure 2 here:

        https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/articles/theuktradeandinvestmentrelationshipwiththeunitedstatesofamerica/2016

        and you will see that somehow we do manage to export services to the USA, even though as Emily Thornberry recently volunteered to Andrew Marr we have no special trade deal with the USA:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/14011801.pdf

        “Thirdly, we have been trading perfectly successfully with the United States for a very long time, they are our biggest trading partner outside the EU without a trading deal anyway.”

        And then the ONS says:

        “When looking at the breakdown of the UK’s exports to the USA, services and goods account for a similar proportion of total exports, with services accounting for only a slightly greater proportion (52.9%) of exports in 2015. By contrast, the UK has tended to import a greater proportion of goods as compared to services from the USA over the time period 2005 to 2015; in 2015 imports from the USA consisted of a greater proportion of goods (57.0%) as compared to services (43.0%).”

        And you may notice that the 53% services component of our exports to the USA is much higher than the services part of our exports to the rest of the EU, given here:

        http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7851

        as 38% in 2016.

        And nor have we agreed to unfettered movement of persons between our two countries in order to achieve that two way trade in services with the USA, unlike the EU countries.

        The absolute rubbish that some of you euromaniac types will come out with beggars belief. Any lie will do, if you think you can get away with it.

    • Freddie Trey
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      We are the one’s choosing to leave a customs union and single market because it is underpinned by the ECJ and the four freedoms. By doing so we are choosing to erect barriers (both tariff and non-tariff). It is not the EU doing so.

  39. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Merkel is in no position to say what German trade policy is, she is dependent on her future coalition partners when she is finally able to form a government.

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    https://openeurope.org.uk/daily-shakeup/david-davis-uk-will-not-eu-vassal-state-transition-period/?utm_source=Open+Europe&utm_campaign=6d2c21dba0-RSS_Campaign_Daily_Shakeup&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c045172cb6-6d2c21dba0-262466097#section-1

    “Trade Minister says third countries with EU trade agreements do not object ‘in principle’ to rolling over FTAs”

    “Minister of State at the Department for International Trade (DIT), Greg Hands, told the Commons International Trade Committee yesterday that Britain has engaged so far with over 70 countries with a trade agreement with the EU, and that none of them has objected ‘in principle’ to the idea of rolling over their existing agreement with the EU to the UK after Brexit. Hands said later on Twitter that this progress is ‘important for trade continuity’.”

    Also on twitter:

    “These are not renegotiations but a technical exercise to continue current arrangements.”

    Of course it’s conceivable that a country could say to the UK “We agreed to this deal when you were in the EU but we won’t be so happy about it when you are no longer part of the EU”, but even if they did feel that way it’s extremely unlikely that they would add “And so once you leave the EU we’ll be shutting down all our trade with you”. And likewise they could say to the EU “We agreed to this deal when the UK was part of the EU but we won’t be so happy about it when the UK has left the EU”, but it’s very unlikely that they would instantly shut down all their trade with the EU.

    • acorn
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Exactly Denis. No “third country” supplier to the EU, is going to put the portion of its own exports creating workforce, on the dole, just to try and put one over the much much bigger EU.

      Likewise, the EU must advise such “third countries”: “the reduced tariff quota the EU currently allows you to export to the EU, will be reduced, on Brexit, by the quantity that the UK currently imports via the EU Customs Union”.

      The EU advises “third countries”; that is, countries that are outside the EU Customs Union, to contact the UK authorities to try and secure a “novation” of such quantities that “third countries” will lose, as a result of the EU28 becoming the EU27. (Reduced tariff quota details are available on request.)

      The EU has no obligation to a member country that voluntarily decides to leave the EU using Article 50, other than those obligations stated in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. 😉

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        You seem to have missed the point that 70 governments have said that in principle they would be willing to roll over the existing agreements.

        Even if some of them may later want some tweaking that is a very different scenario from that regularly threatened by the Remain side under which all the agreements would immediately fall on the day we left the EU and our trade with those countries would come to an abrupt halt.

        As to the EU’s continuing obligations to the UK once it has left the EU, I suggest you read Article 8 TEU on the EU’s neighbourhood policy.

  41. Andy
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry they wont. Neither of ’em believes in ‘Free Trade’ nor ever has.

  42. Bryan Harris
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I’d say Trump got it spot on then when he suggested those espousing free trade were manipulating the facts

  43. Dennis
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Who will tell them?

  44. rose
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    If we are to believe them they should also stop putting up tariffs against poor African farmers.

    Why do we have to listen to this pepetual “We are the Free Traders and Trump is the Protectionist” nonsense from the EU ? It isn’t just Macron and Mrs Merkel, the Swedes were at it yesterday.

  45. Iain Gill
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear have you heard Mr Hammond’s speech in davos? He wants a brexit that delivers no change whatsoever. Surely now you will stop supporting these clowns?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      By her failure to rein him in earlier Theresa May has tacitly encouraged him to overstep the mark further and further, and it has now got to the point where he should be sacked and replaced by somebody who is prepared to support a proper Brexit policy and not the kind of nonsense proposed by the CBI:

      https://www.ft.com/content/e577b43e-01dd-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5

      “He launched a fusillade at Eurosceptic cabinet colleagues by backing calls from the CBI employers’ group for “the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK post-Brexit”.”

      Including continued unfettered free movement of persons, that is uncontrolled and unlimited immigration from the rest of the EU.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      As Hammond, unlike Boris, hasn’t been slapped down for his intervention we must assume May agrees with him. No wonder Matthew Parris was floating that the Brexiters has lost and have left it too late to do anything about it.

    • Chris
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Iain Gill: their (the Tory Brexiter MPs) apparent intransigence, or some might almost call it cowardice, is incomprehensible if they believe what they say that they believe.

  46. Blue and Gold
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes, and the best place to have Free Trade is with 27 other countries in the EU , the BIGGEST trading sector in the world, and not going round the world with a begging bowl.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      yes but as the French president himself admitted, if the French people were given a free vote they would vote overwhelmingly to leave the EU, the pressure for this will build one way or another, and hence the EU is never going to last. So hitching your flag to their mast is a bad plan.

      far better to be independent, and the sooner the better.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      If you could persuade those 27 other countries in the EU to separate trade policy from immigration policy there might be a better starting point for negotiation. Good luck with that; it has been said often enough that their “four freedoms” are inseparable, but maybe you could get them to change their minds on that. Please do let us know how you get on with it.

    • ian wragg
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Get back in your Brussels bunker.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      The EU is a protectionist trade bloc.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      B&G

      The biggest trading sector in the World ?

      10 % or more of its population and even more in value, vanishes when we eventually leave.

      How about the trading value of all those Countries outside of the EU.

    • mancunius
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      The dinosaurs too were BIG. Some were the biggest creatures on the planet.
      But alas, they were also unwieldy, unadaptable, and extremely dim.
      They died out rapidly – and a similar fate imminently awaits the equally unadaptable Junckosaurus, the Tusk Mini-Mammoth, and the Mega-Merkelosaurus.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        So VERY apt mancunius …

    • ChrisS
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Going round the world with a begging bowl ?

      Quite the opposite, I would suggest.

      We are the 5th 0r 6th largest economy in the world and countries will want to sign trade deals with us to get access to our market of almost 70 million people whose income in world terms is very high.

      Why do Remainers like you despise and deride your own country so much ?
      ( Assuming, regrettably, that you are actually British ).

      It’s just as well you lot weren’t around in 1939-1945. If you had been, we would all be speaking German by now.

      • Harry
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 2:58 am | Permalink

        We are only the 5th 6th largest economy in the world because of our membership of the EU..when we leave the EU who knows?..it will depend very much on who our trading partners are in the future

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Blue and Gold.

      The cost of your ‘Free Trade’.

      You always omit to mention it.

    • Martyn G
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Free trade with the EU? There is no such thing as free, someone, someone, somewhere along the line always has to pay for it and, in our case, it costs the UK billions upon billions to access this supposedly ‘free trade area’. And that is without figuring in the enormous amount of money it costs us to comply with the tens of thousands of EU-imposed regulations. Free it most certainly is not!
      Have you, by any chance, looked at how much trade the UK does with other nations outside of the EU ‘free trade’ area? You might be surprised….

      • rick hamilton
        Posted January 26, 2018 at 3:57 am | Permalink

        As the Japanese are fond of saying:
        “There’s nothing so expensive as something that’s free”.

        You could say the same about the NHS.

  47. Mark B
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    No ! Abolish the Customs Union ! Then and only then will believe these Janus’s.

  48. ian wragg
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    We must leave the EU completely in March 2019 – No transition period, No delay
    Government petition 201145 sign it now.

  49. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    John you are writing about EU and Brexit again. It is yourself who is hooked on this subject. I bet you toss and turn at night with the arguments going through your head and the frustration at the snails pace. The two ladies May and Merkel are not imaginative enough.Today as Google reminds us is the Birthday of Virginia Woolf or is it the death in 1941 ;a brilliant writer .She had the perception of a genius , but no one else could share her creativity as she picked up on many others ideas and thoughts and tried to structure , but she succumbed to real life , the streams of consciousness the tensions between people , and the difficulties encountered in the individual power structures in relation to the whole, She couldn’t cope , but herself and Leonard Woolf together would have made far better politicians even though they were from the humanities side, that being literature and history. They understood!

    Reply I am writng about it because there is a danger of an important weakening of the UK position

  50. John
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Don’t Merkel and Macron and the EU support the EU policy of value tariffs on goods from Africa. Not very sporting are they and not very free trade!

  51. Chris
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    The critical address at Davos with regard to trade before Trump arrived was by the US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. Videoclips are available but apparently my comment and link to the address did not pass the editor. Apparently a pin could be heard dropping while he was addressing the globalists, and promoting “economic nationalism”. There is going to have to be a huge change in mindset amongst the globalists, as they cannot deny the surging US economy and growth that Trump has brought to the US by his key policies, including tax cuts and other incentives. Our own left liberal government and Chancellor would do well to learn some lessons.

    • DanK
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 3:04 am | Permalink

      Chris..you must be nuts if you think the leadership of any responsible democracy with a balanced economy is going to follow Trump down the road to never never land..the land of fake news and tje Wall

  52. miami.mode
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    There’s an advert which pops up every now and then on TV where a chap says “what’s going on?”. He might currently be asking this about the Conservative government and MPs as they seem to be continually briefing against each other about the direction of Brexit.

    It could be, of course, that they have secretly signed a joint electoral suicide bid.

  53. Rien Huizer
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Free trade is a propaganda term. Most of the world’s international trade is (a) within multinational firms or their supply chains or in simple primary goods (oil, ore, grain, coal etc) and (b) under som form of bilateral or multilateral form of management. What is commonly referred to as “WTO” rules in the UK is itself a form of managed, not truly free trade. Probably the freeest form of international trade is within the EU’s Single Market and involves goods, services and other factors.

    The speeches by Merkel and Macron were basically aimed at US rhetoric of the type “America First” in principle the antithesis of free trade.

  54. Peter Martin
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    The “EU Single Market” is a nice sounding term. A “EU Trade Protection Area” maybe less so.

    But what’s the difference?

  55. Tabulazero
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Your offer of a free trade deal on the UK’s terms is having your cake and eating it. Merkel and Macron are not dumb enough to accept it.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 26, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      We run a £60bn trade deficit with the EU with a further net contribution of £8.1bn per annum.

      We also contribute disproportionately to the EU’s defence both militarily (special forces and ballistic) and in intelligence (GCHQ.)

      We release pressure on the failed Eurozone by taking in its European refugees.

      Personally I avoid cake. I have been into keep fit all my life and stick to healthy food.

  56. BrexiteerwivMusket
    Posted January 26, 2018 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    We are told the “working visit” is now on again for our Donald. The State Visit should be too. He has been on a State Visit to France. Macron will have a State Visit to the USA in April. It is a bad do if Macron upstages May and upstages the UK in this respect and upstages the British people.
    Mr Speaker and Mr Mayor of London…well can’t they be sent on an important mission somewhere to keep their embarrassing behaviour out of sight and out of mind?

  57. Sean
    Posted January 26, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Free trade because will will not have left the Eu in March 2019.

    We are told by a Conservative minister that we will continue the ECJ and single market at least until 2021

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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