Trade again

I am amazed at how many people want to talk about trade and little else. Many of them have never sold an export in their lives, have never managed complex supply chains, and clearly have not read how the WTO works.

I have led large industrial companies in the past and never experienced difficulties with importing materials and components from non EU as well as from EU countries. I found it easier to sell the final products into non EU countries than into France and Germany. I was always using a mixed complex supply chain from non EU as well as EU sources.

I  also handled  Minister of Trade matters  in the Commons when the Minister of State for Trade was in the Lords and I was a DTI Minister. I worked closely with Peter Lilley for a bit, who was the last UK Secretary of State to help negotiate a trade round before the EU took it fully over from us.

So let me just clarify a few points.

The first is the only worthwhile discussions to  be had on trade with the EU will be those the UK holds with the EU itself. It would of course be easy if both sides were willing to design a trade system for UK/EU trade which was better than WTO most favoured nation status which is what we will have without agreement. Most of this debate about trade is a negotiation with ourselves, which gets us nowhere. The EU has deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade.

The second is we know exactly how to trade under mfn status at WTO because it is what we do today in a number of cases. You do not need a bespoke trade agreement with another country before you can trade!

The third is whatever happens trade will continue . There are strict limits to how much damage government including the EU government can do when there are willing buyers and sellers of each other’s goods. As a WTO member the EU has to obey their rules against tariffs and barriers other than those permitted. International law and the law of contract are also there to protect buyers and sellers to provide a framework that stops governments as well as others from impeding trade.

Most now accept that outside agriculture where we have a massive deficit with the EU most products have low or no tariffs and services are tariff free under the WTO scheme. Cars at 10% are relatively high but again we have a huge deficit in cars. Non tariff barriers are also limited by law and rules. We will benefit from the Facilitation of Trade Agreement which the WTO brought in last year , and from the important WTO rule that the EU cannot impose something against UK trade that it does not also impose against US and  Chinese trade as well. In certain cases like aviation you also need other agreements – e.g. reciprocal landing rights. The good news is France and Germany, and of course Spain that owns our national airline , have no wish to get their planes banned from London.


  1. Lifelogic
    January 28, 2018

    Exactly right.

    As you say the EU bureaucrats have deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade. This was not in any EU member’s interests, it was economic vandalism for all of the EU.

    There is no need to pay any fee either and certainly not to agree a huge one in advance of any deal (one that is substantially better than WTO rules) being agreed.

    May should take note of Trump’s excellent Davos speech and start batting for the UK in the way he does for the USA. If you do the right things the economy responds. Even if you just say the right things and set out an uplifting vision it responds a little. May is doing the complete opposite. She is just a warm up act for Corbyn.

    Lower taxes, simpler taxes, cut regulation, easy hire and fire, cut the size of government and go for cheap reliable energy and freedom. This is what is needed and it is not difficult to do. May however has completely the opposite agenda. She says and does all the wrong things – ever more regulation, more PC drivel, pathetic virtue signaling, more employment “protections”, more government & more taxation at every turn.

    Hammond even wants to stick to the failed “European Economic Model”, so he is clearly more interested in damaging the economy than helping it.

    1. Hope
      January 28, 2018

      I would have thought the Tory your party being in the wilderness for decades would have focused their minds on staying in power. Clearly not. First a coalition because Cameron did not have the guts to go alone and ask or another election like Harper in Canada, then a couple of years by the skin of the teeth and now your party decides to betray the electorate for an underhand stay in name only. A technical legal leave only to spin that is what the public voted for.

      The current proposal by Davis to the select committee is a vassal state of the EU-fact. May capitulates on all four pillars and gives twice the amount of yearly contributions claiming she achieved something, May allows every remained who is against govt policy to speak with the person her team is negotiating with, allows France to dump more immigrants on the UK and gives them more money to do so because France has insecure borders, Hammond confirms a small adjustment only to remaining in Davos, Liddington suggesting the UK would return to the EU before we have even left and that as part of the special deep partnership the govt would seek military and police cooperation. At home public services overwhelmed through mass immigration, no housing or education for the young, May advocating dementia tax and Hammond taxing us more for saving! Are the people in your party effing mad?

    2. NickC
      January 28, 2018

      Lifelogic, We certainly must not pay a “fee” to the EU for a trade deal, that is true. That would be contrary to WTO rules. However the Vienna Convention is clear that abrogating a treaty leaves residual obligations. In the case of leaving the EU that means paying for incurred expenditure. But not budgets, not even the MFF.

      In any case the payment cannot possibly exceed any net payments we would have made in the 21 months between April 2019 and December 2020 (the end of the current MMF) if we had remained. At current rates that is around the £20bn mark, half what the government has already conceded.

      1. Andy
        January 29, 2018

        And whatabout the Assets ?? Plenty of assets that need dividing up !!

        1. Lifelogic
          January 31, 2018


    3. Richard
      January 28, 2018

      Well said Lifelogic. And despite the UK’s strength in Services, our Services export surplus is a mere £12Bn due to EU protectionism:
      Plus EU demand for smaller UK goods exports is very price inelastic.
      Therefore the UK has far greater scope for import substitution.
      A (hopefully short) WTO-plus period would concentrate EU minds wonderfully. The WA and FTA should be signed and ratified in parallel.
      “In negotiations, you are always more powerful than you think you are.”

      1. Richard
        January 29, 2018

        EU businesses also need the cheap finance available wholesale from London. Plus London’s technical finance expertise.
        London (#1) is the EU’s only Financial Centre in the Top 10 according to the Global Financial Centres Index. Frankfurt makes #11. But Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris are all outside the top 20.

  2. Prigger
    January 28, 2018

    “The good news is France and Germany, and of course Spain that owns our national airline , have no wish to get their planes banned from London.”
    Yes they do! The EU is not negotiating. Mr Davis was on again in the raw North East about his triumph. “Four million people ” know where they are at. in point of fact they knew where they were at before Mr Davies started this farce of negotiating ie three million here and one million British shared out among 27 nation states. What a bargain! His negotiating acumen.His next victory will be ensuring we can all open and shut our umbrellas whenever we please. Freedom at last!
    Nothing has changed.

  3. Peter Wood
    January 28, 2018

    Good Morning,
    There are ways to bring this ‘trade negotiation’ with the EU to a conclusion, and yet the May Government is not attempting to do so. All indications are, particularly from the PM and DD, that prevarication is the plan. This 1922 and the ERG should not allow this design to continue.

    1. Hope
      January 28, 2018

      JR, leaving is not sold about trade this is a narrative created by remainers to condition our minds. Sadly for May the cat is out of the bag early and we have Davis, Greg Clark and others trying to tell us night is day to deceive the public. Your party and govt has lied to the electorate. Letwin correct that upholding the referendum vote was more important than any issue before parliament. Clark at it yesterday trying to say that registration would stop freedom of movement when Davis has already confirmed to Rees-Mogg it would not!
      Hammond is correct in what he said at Davos. May is trying for modest changes and a legal technical leave. It is against what the public voted for or strict govt policy. But by technically leaving she can claim to have left the EU. But under ECJ control, regulatory alignment is staying in the single market, freedom of movement remains per Rudd’s open letter and amay has given twice the amount of our yearly contributions to talk about trade! That is staying in by anyone’s definition. She made the agreement before debate and vote in parliament, ultra vires I would suggest. But let us not forget her insidious underhand trip at night to the EU to get Her phase one agreement. DUP caught her out that is clear. That shows the person she is.

      She has form for being underhand and untrustworthy. May gave away all our of right and liberties under the EU arrest warrant when she did not have to do it. She chose to give away your individual freedoms without any right to challenge in this country. What patriot looking after its citizens would do that? She needs to be ousted.

  4. Nig l
    January 28, 2018

    Re your first sentence, and that includes leading members of your cabinet and the mandarins who are ‘controlling’ it and no doubt the House of Lords who we hear are being acquiesced to.

    The febrile atmosphere because of the leadership vacuum is doing both the negotiations and your Party no good at all and reminds me of the end of Heath and Major. One turned into something magnificent, one ultimately a disaster which we are still paying for.

    We don’t want to fight but by jingo if we do. Time you know who brought that back out of the closet.

    1. Hope
      January 28, 2018

      May has form for selling out citizens of this country in favour of EU with her EU arrest warrant. No patriot looking after its citizens would put the liberty and freedoms at risk of backwater despots without any internal challenge. May did exactly that out of choice. The Tory MP still voted for her! They still voted for her after her appalling record as Home Secretary.

      1. Hope
        January 28, 2018

        Liddington this morning indicating military and police under EU control/guidance as the deep and special partnership! We voted leave Idiot.

        1. A.Sedgwick
          January 28, 2018

          I had the misfortune to see a news clip of his AM comments, namely “broad church”. My heart sank I thought that 1960s Labour catch phrase had been binned.

        2. Lifelogic
          January 28, 2018

          Indeed Liddington seemed to have a fairly dreadful agenda.

  5. formula57
    January 28, 2018

    That “The EU has deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade” is bad enough but what explains the UK’s willingness to permit that?

    Granted the UK government is not able to enforce discussion but it surrendered its veto of Evil Empire moves to create an army, prepare for greater Eurozone integration etc. when it could have shown a matching unwillingness to permit them all without reciprocity on the matters upon which the UK wanted dealings.

    When will the lesson be learned that the Evil Empire is no friend of the UK? After all, why would it be when the UK has dealt it such a blow that we must hope will prove fatal.

  6. Helena
    January 28, 2018

    As ever, half truths and deliberate obfuscations. Let me take just one. We trade with almost no countries on mfn terms. We trade with almost all countries in the world – including the US, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Australia – on the basis of the EU’s agreements with those countries on trade, on customs cooperation, on mutual recogniiton, etc. We loose all those agreements on Brexit day. We – and by we I mean Dr Liam Fox – need to get agreement to continue them, and so far not even one country has agreed, as the problems about quotas and agriculture loom large. Brexit, we were told, would be simple. Every day shows it is not

    Reply Just not true as I have explained many times

    1. Richard1
      January 28, 2018

      It’s reassuring to see Continuity Remain obliged to resort to fake news a deal invented scares to make their case

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 28, 2018


      1. May I remind you of what Emily Thornberry voluntarily admitted to Andrew Marr two weeks ago, transcript here:

      On page 3, part of her justification for vilifying the President of the United States even if that could make him less inclined to agree a favourable trade deal:

      “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.”

      So there we have the new Labour party policy, namely that we don’t actually need any trade deal with the United States to trade “perfectly successfully”, we’ve been doing that “for a very long time” and apparently basic WTO terms are just fine for that, and therefore it doesn’t really matter how much our politicians and others indulge in gratuitous public insults to the current President, but on the other hand it would be catastrophic if we left the EU without any special trade deal.

      2. Whether or not we lose all those agreements on Brexit day will depend on what the parties to the agreements decide to do about them, and so far 70 countries have said that in principle they will be happy to roll them over:

      Please do try to keep up with developments rather than just repeating the same old fallacies that you’ve picked up from one unreliable source or another, which is what you Remoaners so like to do …

    3. Rien Huizer
      January 28, 2018

      Helena/ Redwood: yopu are both partially right. Cooperation on the part of the EU would go a long way towards “inheriting” existing WTO positions and having the UK accepted as a partnet of the EU in those instances. A sudden and de facto unilateral exit, especially with major bills remaining unpaid would risk that cooperation. The UK simply lacks the heft to negotiate advantageaous trade agreements (ie ones that do not make the UK a “vassal state” ) with for instance the US. Often this boild down to a choice between short term consumer interests (I am sure if the UK would unilaterally scrap all its own trade barriers on day 1 after exit, consumer prices would go down but a while later employment would be affected by produces pulling out or becoming uncompetitive and ultimately, insolvent. In a developed eeconomy with a high level of integration, there are lots of interdependencies.

      My main point is that far to little is (publicly) known about ithe implications of various scenarios, by affected industry to make claims about how easy or difficult it
      would be. Exchanges of a simplistic or anecdotal nature do not help, they simply add to the fog that hangs over this important political process in the UK. There is no parallel process in the EU, although there are exchanges between member governments. But noting to compare to the debate going on within the UK’s ruling party (and probably, if Labour were ruling, there would be a similar debate).

      Reply You misunderstand the position. Existing EU trade treaties novate both to us and the rest of the EU. We do not need the EUs permission

    4. NickC
      January 28, 2018

      Helena, The EU has no comprehensive trade deal with the USA – TTIP is dead. Those with Korea, Japan, Australia, and Canada are either limited, provisional and/or not implemented. The Japan deal won’t take effect until 2019, and even then some tariffs won’t go for 15 years. So we can’t “lose” what doesn’t yet exist.

      Moreover, those embryonic trade agreements are not necessarily suited to the UK. The EU takes instruction from the big European corporates, and has little regard for British sensibilities. As for trade agreements with the rest of the world, which you agitate for, bring it on. Except we can’t, legally, until we have left. A Brexit opportunity Remain denies us.

      1. acorn
        January 29, 2018

        Helena, you are correct. Brexiteers including this site, prove daily how little understanding they have of the WTO system. They have NO understanding of the MRA system you mention (Mutual Recognition Agreements).

        To paraphrase Prof Chris Grey University of London: MRAs are principally concerned with removing the non-tariff barriers to trade which are, in most cases, far more important than tariffs. Each MRA is a highly technical and, in most cases, lengthy document and the outcome of long periods of negotiation.

        The USA, for example, has some 135 MRAs with the EU, and China has 65. On Brexit with no deal, not only would the UK not have any MRAs with the EU but it would also have exited the EU’s MRAs with countries like the USA and China. None of these MRAs exist as part of the WTO rules to which the UK will supposedly revert.

        1. NickC
          January 29, 2018

          Acorn, Actually it is JR and us Leave commenters who have taught you most of what you currently know. For example the ripe old Remain contention that the WTO did not cover services appeared again a couple of days ago. I had to direct him to the WTO website..

          Most of you now know slightly better of course. But I remember a time when you Remains didn’t know the difference between a free trade arrangement built on mutual recognition, and one modeled on harmonisation as the EU is. Remains also claimed that “no-one” traded under WTO rules, completely oblivious to the fact that FTAs and MRAs are registered with the WTO and become WTO rules.

          Don’t you realise that everything you bring up has been thought of before by eurosceptics and solved already? The world is full of problems, but they aren’t show-stoppers. The rest of the world trades perfectly well without being in the EU, so has the answers.

          1. acorn
            January 30, 2018

            Do you actually know what an MRA is? You seem to be confusing what the WTO does and what the WCO does (World Customs Union).

            Would you “Leave commenters who have taught you most of what you currently know”; perhaps tell me what arrangements you have made for authorising AEOs and handling TBT, for post Brexit customs.

          2. NickC
            January 30, 2018

            Acorn, It’s the World Customs Organisation; WCO being the giveaway. MRAs are registered with the WTO, not the WTO. There are other forms of mutual recognition than the formal MRA.

            I have previously discussed both TBTs and AEOs here (Nov 2017) having to point out that the AEO designation is for businesses trading within the EU only, since AEO is the EU’s parochial response to C-TPAT.

            I also had to correct another Remain, possibly Helena, IIRC when s/he claimed that mutual recognition was not used, by citing the USA-EU mutual recognition of insurance regulators signed in Jan 2017.

    5. Mark Watson
      January 28, 2018

      All these countries have agreed!
      Not that it’s a significant issue.

    6. libertarian
      January 28, 2018


      If the only thing you have to offer is lies and ignorance , who bother? Who do you think you’re convincing. Just for the record which countries do you trade with currently ?

    7. Andy
      January 29, 2018

      And nearly all those Agreements are ‘mixed’ so the UK is a signatory in her own right. The other party to that agreement merely confirms they wish it to continue. And the EU needs to seek such agreement as there has been a huge material change in the terms.

  7. David Cockburn
    January 28, 2018

    The only times I ever had to overcome bureaucratic problems in order to trade were between Britain and China and between France and Algeria. I both cases the issues were due to the desire of the importing country to control imports. In the end however both importers realised they needed our goods and the trade went ahead unimpeded.
    I do anticipate that when we leave the EU, if our civil service allows us to, fishermen in Calais will go on strike closing the port and Eurotunnel will be closed for ‘maintenance’. Our beef and lamb exports will also be held up on health grounds.
    However, if we can hold our nerve and stick together it will all come right in the end.

  8. Jonp
    January 28, 2018

    Even if governments do not impede..there can be other hostile groups out there like trade unions, regulatory bodies, anti UK groupings and individuals like pissed off customs officials that can all or any of them make life very difficult for us..I for one don’t accept that things will be the same again.. i can see notices in EU countries showing imports for inspection this way.. and UK imports for inspection that way

    1. libertarian
      January 28, 2018


      Well 86% of trade is in services , so no amount of signs, customs officials or anyone else will make a difference. As far as goods are concerned you think that the French, Germans and others will cease buying mobile phones , cancer scanners, heart drugs, chemicals & Scotch whisky etc etc ….hm ok

      Trade happens between buyers and sellers NOT governments or countries

      1. Jonp
        January 29, 2018

        Libertarian..we were talking about trade in goods..well heres something about services..notices in airports..EU passports this way..ten kiosks open..UK passports this kiosk open

  9. oldtimer
    January 28, 2018

    Well said!

    We hear a lot of twaddle from some Remainers about trade, especially the MPs among their number.

  10. Godot
    January 28, 2018

    No negotiations at Christmas for three weeks as Jesus was about to be born and we wished to know whether he was a girl or a boy. None in the couple of weeks prior to the birth because we were discussing names .. Then there was Mr Davis in PD Ports at Teesport giving a speech to ship containers…no sign of EU negotiators unless they had stored away in the back of a container lorry and wished as they probably might to gain asylum here.
    Much progress! As with all asylum seekers they’ll need another two years here whilst we…have Christmas, choose, names and give speeches up near Geordi Land.
    Can’t we just leave now? It’s been a while.

  11. Unite with Scotland
    January 28, 2018

    Won’t Mrs Sturgeon be tapping her fingers?

    I guess from many a perspective north of the border, this waiting game until “things couldn’t be more clear” better not last much longer.

    If I were an “undecided” Scot, it would not take a great deal of argument from Mrs Sturgeon to convince me the delay was a device, an anti-Scottish ploy to ignore and use time against the Scots hoping they would nicely behave better through endless waiting.

    We should support Mrs Surgeon’s next call for an Independence vote. If the SNP wins then we English can go to live in Scotland as far from the EU as Mr Davis and Mrs May will allow us to go.

  12. BrexiteerwivMusket
    January 28, 2018

    Meanwhile in Wales they are trying to get the voting age down to 16 and enabling also EU citizens to vote and importantly non-EU citizens to vote too.

    So much for devolution. What a bright idea! “Only” voting in local elections but they are not “local” in the sense of Wales are they!!!They are in fact National with the n-word.
    It might be an idea if Davis gets over to EU land and sets them an ultimatum , give them 3 months!
    Brexiteers are not running out of time. We love the sound of ticking. Every delay now is playing into a very hard establishment of England! We shall not have children and foreigners running our country.

  13. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    January 28, 2018

    Well done and well said.

  14. alan jutson
    January 28, 2018

    Simple question John.

    If WTO terms are so simple, and I certainly agree with you that this should be our default position, and where we should have opened any talks with the EU, or indeed anyone else.

    Why is our Government still messing about trying to get a very time consuming, complicated, worse deal, and paying for it, rather than something much better ?

    David Davis should be no fool, he has run Tate and Lyle in the past for a while, a large corporate business.
    But is not actually in charge of the negotiations because he reports back to Mrs May and the cabinet.

    WHY, WHY, WHY, are we continuing to inflict more and more punishment and cost to ourselves over an extended time period when it is so unecessary.

    We are looking fools in front of the World, which will not help in eventual trade talks with others.
    Where is the pride in our Country, where is our spirit, where is our backbone, where is our drive, where is our common-sense.
    At the moment it is a death by a thousand giveaways, and getting very close to abject surrender.
    Our forefathers would be turning in their graves,

    Trump must be rubbing his hands in glee, no wonder he is looking for a trade deal with us, he will wipe the floor with May, as will many others.

    Can quite see now why so many Mp’s want to Remain, because they appear frightened of the responsibility that goes with making a decision, seem to have little or no vision of the future in commercial terms, its so much easier to pass the buck (or Sterling) and blame the EU for any problems, rather than resolve it themselves.

    It almost beggars belief that our Country now has such little pride, so little self confidence, when we are still a huge trading Nation.

    What a bloody shambles, can someone get a grip at this late stage. !

    1. getahead
      January 28, 2018

      It’s ideological Alan, all tied in with the Common Purpose dream of globalisation; a dream followed closely by the likes of Clarke, Cameron, Blair and others but worst of all by Hammond.
      Populations have no status in this dream. People are just a commodity, hence the unlimited immigration to satisfy the requirement for cheap labour.
      Hammond has no regard whatsoever for the referendum result, to him a simple inconvenience.

  15. BrexiteerwivMusket
    January 28, 2018

    Yesterday I was listening to and watching Mr Carwyn Howell Jones, First Minister of Wales ( Labour )Leader of the Welsh National Assembly. A lady with more of the red welsh dragon in her blood than himself suggested that ALL powers be given from the Westminster government including finances therefore having the Power and the Money in total Welsh control. He disagreed saying,and I paraphrase: ” The UK government has been pretty well automatic in providing the money for us to use how we wish. If WE had the money in the first place, control of our own money, we would not be able to AFFORD what we do!” Now there’s clever for you, isn’t it?!! 🙂

  16. Michael
    January 28, 2018

    The problem boils down to a lack of leadership from the PM. The time has come for a change at the top.

    Personally I favour Michael Gove to succeed her but whoever it is needs to have the determination to deliver a clean BREXIT.

    I am against BREXIT in all but name.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 28, 2018

      I too am against Brexit in name only and T May clearly has zero vision and a broken compass. But then Gove is the reason we all have to suffer T May. But for his knifing of Boris we would have had Boris (and I would have won my bet too).

      Gove has gon a bit mad lately with his green crap agenda. Even attacking private schools (where parents already have to pay twice for their children’s education).

      Ex BBC lefty dope with an irritating voice (Robert Preston) today questions if Peter Lilley is suitable to be ennobled. He certainly is and in spades. I would have have 1000 of him ennobled if available. He is rational, for a real Brexit, has a good grasp of science & economics, is numerate and not a greencrap/remainer/irrational dope unlike most of the others in there.

      (Nat Sci then Economics at Clare apparently).

      1. Lifelogic
        January 28, 2018

        I had forgotten “Fury at Gove’s calls for 20% VAT to be levied on private school fees to tax the ‘global super-rich’ “.

        Gove clearly has gone bonkers. This would kill many excellent schools and not even raise any net tax as many parents (who are already paying twice) would be forced to use state schools.

        What is actually needed to education voucher or tax breaks so more can afford to go to private schools.

        Gove is really very confused – but then he is as Oxford English graduate.
        A fan of “Game of Thrones” too it seems.

    2. LenD
      January 29, 2018

      Lifelogic..yes i remember one of Michael Goves better quotes..”it will all work out ok..provided we take the right decisions”- ??

  17. Caterpillar
    January 28, 2018

    So why has the UK Government allowed the EU to waste a year and a half, and is willing to continue to do this?

    (I think we know.)

    1. Lifelogic
      January 28, 2018

      Indeed and agreed to pay for it.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 28, 2018

        May should take Trump’s helpful advice.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 28, 2018

      Thanks to the previous Prime Minister the UK government apparatus was completely unprepared for a vote to leave the EU. Also thanks to the previous Prime Minister the Act ordering the referendum left the government open to legal challenge over its plan to implement the result, but that second factor wasted much same time as the first factor so it did not greatly increase the overall delay. So in that sense maybe half of that time has been wasted by the UK rather than by the EU.

  18. Harry
    January 28, 2018

    We already have free trade with the them..but we voted to why do we go on so much about future trade deals with them..we might just as well stay in the EU

    1. graham1946
      January 28, 2018

      No. Export trade with the EU is about 8 percent of our GDP, 90 plus percent is local and international other than EU.

      For this, we pay 10 billion a year net subs and 3 billion a year in Customs duties, we have 60 percent of our laws made abroad, our justice system is below the ECJ so we cannot export foreign criminals etc. and we must accept unlimited amounts of immigrants from the EU. Don’t forget the 1.5 million let in by Germany will have EU passports within 5 years and where do you think most of them would like to go then?
      If we stay in or leave in name only we will be subject to all this. I don’t think the trade is worth it, and the EU don’t want to put barriers up any more than we do, it is bluster and delay hoping the British will get fed up with it and vote the ‘right way’ which is usual EU way of doing business. If we stand firm we can get it done our way, but the biggest problem is the Great Ditherer who can’t even say as yet how she would like to see it go. She must go and all her cronies with her asap.

      1. alan jutson
        January 28, 2018


        Agreed but the fact is the EU is winning by just saying and doing nothing, but delaying, a tactic used by a certain French Premier 50 years ago when we eventually begged to join at any price.

        Its simply history repeating itself, only this time we want to leave, so they are making us pay again.

        The simple tactic is to now walk away and take everything off the table, and trade on WTO terms until they approach us for a better deal.

        Guarantee that is what Trump would do, and has done with Climate change and other trade deals.

    2. Dennis Zoff
      January 28, 2018


      …..”we might just as well stay in the EU”

      So you believe continuing with an organisation, which requires the UK to pay a substantial membership fee (taxpayer’s money) of many billions annually, inhibits UK businesses in many ways and then have a colossal trade deficit of circa £80+ Billion annually with this organisation. Do you believe this is sound or fair practice?

      What benefits do you believe the UK gets from EU membership participation for this extraordinary trading imbalance?

      1. LucasH
        January 29, 2018

        Dennis Zoff…Imbalances can be sorted out at government level..but right now I have a i have a EU passport that allows me to move freely throughout europe for my business..i can buy and sell what i like where i like without question..without customs official officials looking over my shoulder..i can move freely in and out of seaports and airports with my goods and without hindrance from immigration where i like..i can holiday where i like, send my children to school where i like and eventually retire where i like with only the minimum of fuss. How it’s all going to be aftet all of this upset is sorted i have no idea and all for what? Taking back control? And I would just ask who is going to have this control?..a bunch of Tory politicals.. and control of what?- money at government level which should be there budgets, then control of laws? Makes little sense if you move about as much as i do- and control of borders..where i see no borders..makes absolutely no sense..i havn’t seen borders for forty time for me to dig up my ancestors and see if i can get a different passport..jeez what a mess

        1. Dennis Zoff
          February 3, 2018


          Thank you. I appreciate your candour and believe I understand your viewpoint.

          With regards to your EU passport and residence in the EU, I cannot foresee anything changing in your personal circumstances or business life, other than perhaps entry/exit or possible exporting to the UK post-Brexit. If I understood you correctly?

          On the other hand, I have a British passport, but my German wife does not and can foresee possible future issues post-Brexit, and naturally, of course, this is a concern? However, both my wife and I believe the UK leaving the EU is a small price to pay to regain our independence and its real freedoms!

          Our rationale is based on experience and research. My wife was originally born in Leipzig DDR and with her parents escaped from East Germany in the Sixties arriving in Cologne penniless. All assets and personal belonging were confiscated by the East German Stasi as a penalty. My wife was a toddler at the time and has little memory of the tragedy which befell her extended family…long story and rather heart-breaking.

          Her family spoke of these terrible times and my wife does not wish this to be repeated for her or our children. In our opinion, the EU is moving in this menacing direction. Incidentally, we are both Europhiles; however, we do not believe the EU is the way forward for the UK or Europe.

          We have heard many arguments for the UK to remain in the EU and some, I must admit, are interesting. However, none have been sufficiently persuasive or compelling to change our minds!

          I trust John will allow this comment to get through to you.

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 28, 2018

      So, Harry, you think that for the privilege of running a chronic massive trade deficit with our neighbours we might just as well stay in the EU, and pay into the EU, and be ruled by the EU, and be swallowed up in the planned pan-European federation.

    4. NickC
      January 28, 2018

      Harry, Assuming that is a genuine question and not just more Remain trouble-making . . . . The EU is a lot more than just trade. Probably about 20% of its rules are trade and the other 80% are to expand EU power and create a new state: the United States of Europe.

    5. getahead
      January 28, 2018

      £10 billion a year is not free Harry. That is one of the gripes why do we have to pay to trade with the EU? WTO rules would be much cheaper.

  19. Mark B
    January 28, 2018

    Good morning

    Most of this debate about trade is a negotiation with ourselves, which gets us nowhere.

    No but it will allow the CBI and its clients to tie the UK the SM and CU. Laws and regulations can still come into the UK via thos back doors.

    The EU has deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade.

    No it has not. It is the stupid UK government that has by asking for a Free Trade Agreement. Had we just said we will be leaving and just wish to settle our affairs and agreed upon that, then that would have been it. Instead we have turned ourselves into a better nation.

    Leavng the EU was about governance not trade. Big business is being allowed to set the agenda. This must be stopped !

    1. Mark B
      January 28, 2018


      . . . beggar nation.

  20. agricola
    January 28, 2018

    The points you make are all highly valid. I think the question the UK should be asking the EU is this. Do you wish for some political reason to impose , on the UK and your many exporters to the UK, WTO tariffs. Alternatively do you accept that the current tariff free trade we enjoy is best for both the EU and the UK. If the latter, lets discuss what problems there might be in continuing the present arrangement under a different name and free of the political baggage of Free Movement, Customs Union, and Single Market, all of which we find abhorrent.

    We within the Diary have asked the above many times. Has our team under David Davis asked the same or are they about to. I think it would be better were this question to be asked in public of the EU, because we could then judge their reaction for whatever it might be. It would also put the skids under much of the off piste briefing and subsequently published fake news, to steal a phrase.

  21. jerry
    January 28, 2018

    Second paragraph, no doubt you had no problems but then why do trade bodies such as the CBI think otherwise – or are they and the many of their membership (perhaps) just being lazy, after all having to comply with just one set of EU wide regulations is easier than having to comply with many – not that it is impossible, at least at both ends of the spectrum, huge production runs and small bespoke production, but most companies are some place between.

    That said, I see no problems with WTO rules, as a member of the WTO, it would be better that than being a vassal state to the USE – cometh that fate, the UK would be better off becoming the 51st State…

    1. agricola
      January 28, 2018

      The CBI and the generally large concerns they represent can, with their equivalent operators within the EU, control the market they operate in. It is as simple and cosy as that for them.

      1. jerry
        January 28, 2018

        @agricola; Not sure that the CBI or those “large concerns” control the market they operate in, other than being more likely to have the legal departments and clout (deep pockets) to challenge current or future regulation they do not like in ways that the SME & SOHO companies can’t.

  22. NHSGP
    January 28, 2018

    Most of your analysis is correct bar one big problem.

    We can’t put tariffs on French agricultural goods even if we wanted. We are members of the WTO in our own right, and we can’t unilaterally increase tariffs or barriers where they don’t exist now, unless the other country agrees to it.

    In WTO parlance its called being bound.

    It works the other way. The EU has been kippered.

    For aviation, the big bit is the Montreal convention and that 80% of transatlantic flights fly though UK airspace.

    Does the EU and the US want to stop transatlantic flying?

    Reply Not true., We have zero tariffs on ag with EU only because we are inside their customs union. we have tariffs once out unless we agree a FTA with them

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    January 28, 2018

    Sensible piece.
    Added to which the EU are of course shooting themselves in the foot by going to mfn status with us and turning down our generous offer. Meantime we should be building new agreements elsewhere, regardless of EU rules. Their rules say they should encourage freer trade with neighbours, and they seem to be ignoring those. What’s the worst that can happen if we do the same?

  24. Duncan
    January 28, 2018

    Wake me up when the UK signs a comprehensive free trade agreement with the USA or China. If this event fails to materialise then this alone is evidence enough that we’re still members of this backward, sclerotic, political protection racket.

    As an aside. Wake me up when the Tory party distances itself from its liberal left obsessions expressed through its leader and returns back to being a political party that rejects the politicisation of human relationships

    No more EU, no more May and Hammond

    1. Duncan
      January 28, 2018

      Moreover, I believe Tory Eurosceptics need to make contact with Trump and his advisers to apply public pressure on May regarding adherence to the result of the EU-Ref

      She needs to be publicly embarrassed, shamed or better humiliated into action

      Corbyn or May? I deeply despise them both

      1. Chris
        January 28, 2018

        The interview with Piers Morgan will be interesting. I understand Trump says he would have handled the EU negotiations differently and that May should have been much firmer/stronger. Yet again, he is spot on. ITV tonight at 10 pm.

        1. Hun
          January 28, 2018

          May could be finished if the FISA memo is ever released to the public.

        2. jerry
          January 28, 2018

          “he would have handled the EU negotiations differently and that May should have been much firmer/stronger.”

          Oh to be a fly on the wall… Do tell us what it is like.

          Everyone and their cats seems to know what has been said in private!

          Put it another way @Chris, what Trump might be implying is that he would not have given any running commentary…

      2. ChrisS
        January 28, 2018

        While in principle I find common cause with your views, Duncan, I think we have a problem with putting them into practice.

        The electorate has gone soft and I don’t believe even a leader as capable and forthright as Margaret Thatcher could achieve a majority today. It’s why Cameron achieved a majority only to see May throw it away.

        Corbyn is getting a record number of supporters in the under 40 age group and at least the younger section of that group is probably not open to electoral persuasion, even though we have the perfect example of the economic failure of every previous Labour government.

        The electoral arithmetic aided by long-overdue boundary changes might just allow the Conservative party to hang on in 2022. If not, we will be faced with the nightmare of a confidence and supply deal between Sturgeon and Labour, outbidding each other to see who can spend the most.

        It will then take the inevitable and catastrophic failure of Corbyn ( or rather McDonnell, who will rapidly be moving from No. 11 to No. 10 ) to demonstrate that Left wing policies simply do not work and allow common sense and sound government to once again prevail.

        1. jerry
          January 28, 2018

          @Chris; Trouble is that the UK’s best years since WW2 were between 1945 and 1970, and politicos and commentators can not hide the facts any more due to the internet and social media, that is why the establishment is now trying to demonise both with attacks about fake-news and hate speech, the real problem for the establishment is free speech…

          1. ChrisS
            January 29, 2018

            I would certainly not agree that the UK’s best years were between 1945 and 1970.

            When you consider the bankrupt state of the economy when Margaret Thatcher moved into No 10 in 1979 and the horrendous state of industry, totally hamstrung by the unions, the country had been living on borrowed time – and money.

            Living standards rose very well between 1980 and 2008 through control over the economy, reduced taxes and and great strides being made in industrial strategy.

            Our major mistake has been in allowing so many of our now-successful businesses to become majority owned by foreign investors.

          2. jerry
            January 29, 2018

            @ChrisS; If you really think boom built on a bubble of personal (often unsecured) debt is good then I despair. 🙁

            Anyway, living standards are relative, they rose very well between the mid ’50s and 1970, what is more such goods and services were bought outright, cash or cheque. Home ownership, for those who wanted it, was a realistic prospect unlike today. I also note that you ignored the dates I mentioned, preferring instead to bang on about 1979 and the economic mess of that period, that had its origins in the Oil Shocks of 1973-’74 (that also affected other countries too, including the USA and some European countries) and the failed economic/employment policies of the Heath government.

        2. NigelE
          January 28, 2018

          One point about the under 40s and their love-in with Corbyn: how many will have paused, perhaps to think again, after Labour backtracked – reneged even – on the ‘we will clear your university fees debts’ promise.

          Surely, this is an opportunity even the Conservatives can ‘weaponise’ effectively?

          1. jerry
            January 29, 2018

            @NigelE; “the Conservatives can ‘weaponise’ [university fees debt]”

            No they can’t, after all it was the Tories who increased students university fees debt, the less said the better perhaps!

  25. Epikouros
    January 28, 2018

    It appears many do not like being made aware of the fact that their beliefs are without substance especially if it goes against their religious or secular ideological faiths. Let there be no doubt that the EU project like the Christian and other religions and socialism are all faith based and none can produce a shred evidence to back up their claims that they are the route to happiness, peace and prosperity. So not wishing facts to interfere with faith based beliefs people like remainers will do everything they can to distort the truth and of course the credulous and gullible will believe them. It is therefore not surprising that you are having difficulty in convincing people or that they are confused about there being little danger to not agreeing a trade deal with the EU. In fact the danger is in agreeing a deal as what the EU will want in exchange is unlikely to be favourable to the UK.

  26. Eric Sorensen
    January 28, 2018

    And Chinese exports t0 Germany are doing just fine. Shouldn’t be possible if the view of the remainers had any merit. Next red herring is compliance with EU standards. There are no EU standards! There are EU requirements to meet CEN and ISO standards, which Chinese exporters do just fine, and UK exporters will have to do the same certification work post Brexit as currently undertaken. Just more red herrings, but the press seems hungry for more seafood and can’t be bothered with fact finding.

    1. Ed Mahony
      January 28, 2018

      ‘And Chinese exports t0 Germany are doing just fine’

      – that’s because so many of China’s exports are still cheap goods depending on low-paid jobs. In other words, v. different economic model to ours (although in fairness it is changing quickly).

      Rather we need to be look at Germany’s exports to China and other countries. It is Germany’s exports that are doing just fine (not ours in the UK to outside the EU). Sure, the euro has helped Germany, but other important factors too, including high levels of productivity connected closely to Germany’s high tech industry and more.

      1. Ed Mahony
        January 28, 2018

        We in the UK surely need to focus on what Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark are doing best:

        – strong economies
        – relatively stable societies
        – Culturally European (like us)
        – same geographical area (like us)

        Why are people looking so much at China, USA, Singapore, S. Korea & Japan?
        – China (cheap labour market / Communist country)
        – USA (strong economy but real social problems – although a lot we can learn from its Californian high tech economy)
        – Singapore (over-reliant on financial services as we are already, another part of the world, very different culture)
        – S. Korea & Japan (relatively low GDP per capita, another part of the world, very different culture)

        Doesn’t make sense, surely? But focusing more on the economic/political model of Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark makes more sense, surely?

      2. getahead
        January 28, 2018

        I believe British exports to non-EU countries are doing better than exports to within the EU.

        1. Ed Mahony
          January 29, 2018

          ‘I believe British exports to non-EU countries are doing better than exports to within the EU’

          – I don’t deny it!
          But what’s that got to do with anything? (If so, please give an economic reason why that means we should leave the single market).
          The main point is that Germany exports to non-EU no problem. Meanwhile Trump said to Piers Morgan that the EU is making it really difficult for American companies to export into the EU.

  27. Alexmews
    January 28, 2018

    Assuming WTO is where we will end up in the short term – do you see the Auto Pact as negotiated between US-CA in 1960s as a potential model for the UK/EU automotive sector in the absence of a broader FTA? The Auto Pact integrated the US-CA auto industry 20-30 years before the FTA between CA-US and then NAFTA after that.

  28. Steve Reay
    January 28, 2018

    Yes I fully agree with you , but if it’s as good as you say why is the PM not listening .

    1. Chris
      January 28, 2018

      …because she wants us to be in the EU in all but name, I believe.

      1. Al
        January 28, 2018

        …or because leadership takes courage and vision, and there seems to be a sad lack of this on display at the moment.

  29. ChrisS
    January 28, 2018

    The problem has been that the civil service has been spinning the line that we were at a huge disadvantage in the negotiations and the Government has fallen for it at every turn.

    Unfortunately nobody of substance in Government has seriously challenged this attitude as you would have done.

    As a result, the UK has been on the back foot since negotiations commenced.
    The most drastic error made by Mrs May was to agree to sequencing.
    She should have refused all negotiations unless trade was discussed in parallel.

    An offer of continuing free trade in goods and services should have been left on the table and the 27 invited to take it up. If not, it should have been made clear that we would be happy go onto WTO terms. I don’t think it would have taken the other side too long to come round to simultaneous negotiations.

    With the majority in Parliament that the PM foolishly lost, she could have got this harder line through Parliament because the other side would have been seen to be being unreasonable.

  30. Kenneth
    January 28, 2018

    Remainers have deliberately muddled the binary decision to leave the eu with the arrangements that may come afterwards.

    The decision to leave the eu has been made and we quickly followed up with an offer of free trade, reciprocal citizen rights and we sorted out the Irish border.

    We have waited and waited for the eu states to make up their minds and I think now is the time to give 60 days notice and then to leave the eu with no trade deal, allowing certainty for business.

    John is right to say that trade will continue anyway so let’s just do it and stop the money going abroad.

    1. jerry
      January 28, 2018

      @Kenneth; “Remainers have deliberately muddled the binary decision to leave the eu with the arrangements that may come afterwards.”

      Talk about the pot trying to call the kettle filthy! It has been the Brexiteers who have been muddying the waters, suggesting that there are no further questions, that the one binary vote settled everything – it did no such thing, those who voted for Brexit did so for rationale that stretch from the most pure of dog-eat-dog Capitalist theory to the most pure of Marxist ideologies, with most being a “middle-way”, indeed the so called “Norway option” was often debated on this very site by some.

      “We have waited and waited for the eu states to make up their minds and I think now is the time to give 60 days notice and then to leave”

      The problems and delays are not the fault of the EU but a turf war within the UK’s governing Tory party -that pre-dates the 2017 GE, perhaps the electorate should allowed to give the government 60 days notice, either sort your partisan problems out or allow the electorate to decide either who the EU deals with (by way of a GE) or the at least How & When the UK should leave (by way of a second multi-option referenda).

      “trade will continue anyway so let’s just do it and stop the money going abroad.”

      That’s what Mr Corbyn wants, or did you just mean stop it going to the EU?!…

  31. Lifelogic
    January 28, 2018

    Exactly right.

    As you say the EU bureaucrats have deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade. This was not in any EU member’s interests, it was economic vandalism for all of the EU.

    There is no need to pay any fee either and certainly not to agree a huge one in advance of any deal (one that is substantially better than WTO rules) being agreed.

    May should take note of Trump’s excellent Davos speech and start batting for the UK in the way he does for the USA. If you do the right things the economy responds. Even if you just say the right things and set out an uplifting vision it responds a little. May is doing the complete opposite. She is just a warm up act for Corbyn.

    Lower taxes, simpler taxes, cut regulation, easy hire and fire, cut the size of government and go for cheap reliable energy and freedom. This is what is needed and it is not difficult to do. May however has completely the opposite agenda. She says and does all the wrong things – ever more regulation, more PC drivel, pathetic virtue signalling, more employment “protections”, more government & more taxation at every turn.

    Hammond even wants to stick to the failed “European Economic Model”, so he is clearly more interested in damaging the economy than expanding it.

  32. Grant
    January 28, 2018

    Yes..if everything is so above board and clear cut..why is the government not listening..after all JR is closer to mrs may..DD etc than the rest of us

  33. Anonymous
    January 28, 2018

    16-year-olds are going to get the vote in Wales in local elections.

    “England will then look out of step.”

  34. Bert Young
    January 28, 2018

    Like John I had many years of leading a company that dealt with international clients ; it was a service organisation that relied on the excellence of staff and competed in a fiercely competitive world . Putting talents on the line and delivering results to satisfy large companies who themselves operated nationally and internationally was never easy or straightforward ; it was something that required innovative thought married to day to day operations . Stepping into this world was exciting and demanding . Moving away from European operations to a much wider market was simply because the opportunities were bigger there and less restricting.

    It was a successful move and one I never regretted and it was not long before clients were knocking on our doors . The United States and Japan were the principal areas of operation served from the headquarters in London . Companies that only see the opportunities on their doorstep don’t know what they are missing ; they are also being unfair to their employees who are today challenged by this international competition . We have the skills and capability to take on the world and we should extend them beyond Europe .

  35. D Gardener
    January 28, 2018

    If all this is true why does the Prime Minister procrastinate? By doing so she demonstrates a weakness to be exploited. And how!

  36. Echo34
    January 28, 2018

    Instead of shouting from the sideline, why doesn’t JR put his money where his mouth is.

    All this hot air in his own echo chamber is pointless.

    Get rid of May and start doing something otherwise you are as useless as she is.

  37. majorfrustration
    January 28, 2018

    Am I missing something – lets go for WTO as the bottom line but if the EU want to improve on that then fine – otherwise we waste no more time plying the EU games. Surely the politicians know they have to face up or……….leave the stage for good.

  38. Brian Tomkinson
    January 28, 2018

    Before the 1975 referendum it was the same – all the talk was about trade. Political and other repercussions were largely, and in some cases deliberately, ignored and denied.
    So many commentators and politicians haven’t the first idea about trade let alone running a business. I’m sick of hearing misrepresentations on a daily basis. Unfortunately your party chose a Remainer as leader. She talks of Brexit meaning Brexit but has constructed a cabinet which is largely hostile to the concept. She should have a team full of enthusiasm for the future outside the EU and optimistic about our prospects. Instead she behaves like a middle ranking managerial implementator rather than a strong determined leader with a positive vision. We can’t keep giving her the benefit of the doubt. She won’t deliver.

  39. LondonBob
    January 28, 2018

    The leave vote was driven by concerns over immigration. Trade is a side issue, it will carry on regardless.

    1. jerry
      January 28, 2018

      @LondonBob; No it was not driven by concerns over immigration, only one party tried to use that card and they have since lost all support and four leaders!

      For the vast majority Brexit arguments were either about the economy/trade and/or democracy; jobs and investment here in the UK and/or who makes the laws we have to live by.

      1. Anonymous
        January 29, 2018

        Jerry – Puhleease.

        UKIP were destroyed because of mission accomplished (or so voters thought.)

        We do not really want radicals but immigration is well out of control.

        If the EU had agreed to reduced freedom of movement do you really think there would have been Brexit ?

        Seriously ?

        1. jerry
          January 29, 2018

          @Anonymous; “If the EU had agreed to reduced freedom of movement do you really think there would have been Brexit ?”

          It wouldn’t have made much difference. Indeed there is some opinion polling evidence to suggest that, if UKIP & others had not have been muddying the waters with scapegoats, it is possible that greater numbers would have voted for Brexit.

          Just because UKIPers campaigned on their supposed immigration question, just because the result was Leave, it doesn’t follow that UKIP were correct.

      2. NickC
        January 29, 2018

        Jerry, You can rewrite history as much as you choose – it won’t alter the facts. I was out there delivering leaflets almost every day for 4 months, including talking with people on the streets and in their houses. Uncontrolled immigration was a definite issue for many leave voters. And still is.

        Actually, almost everyone was aware that the all issues were interrelated due to EU control. They did not tend to artificially segregate factors as you do. Sovereignty; courts; money; ridiculous EU rules; trade; immigration; free NHS and welfare for immigrants; jobs; were all mentioned.

        1. jerry
          January 29, 2018

          NickC; “You can rewrite history as much as you choose”

          What, like you do daily on this site, like UKIP did in those leaflets, you mean no thanks, I’ll stick to the facts thanks!

          1. NickC
            January 29, 2018

            Jerry, I was out there on the streets. Were you? Immigration, and the issues surrounding it like free NHS and welfare for new immigrants, was a decided issue despite your imaginary claim to the contrary.

          2. jerry
            January 30, 2018

            @NickC; At best you mistook peoples politeness for genuine concern/interest.

            At worst, even if your were greeted with genuine concern/interest, that in its self says nothing nationally, all it tell us only that you chose to only speak with those of a similar mindset as your own,

            Fact, a lie is a lie, how ever many are convinced to repeat the lie…

          3. NickC
            January 30, 2018

            Jerry, At least I have the benefit of public contact, where you have owned to none. Your claim that the Leave vote “was not driven by concerns over immigration” is simply absurd. There was ample evidence in the polls, the MSM, and political speeches that immigration was one of the main issues. Even your precious BBC put immigration in at no.3.

          4. jerry
            January 30, 2018

            @NickC; “At least I have the benefit of public contact, where you have owned to none.”

            Says who, you, hardly as we only know what you claim to have done, not what you actually did. That said, I have no doubt that you did search out similar thinking people as yourself to bolster your own views of what is wrong with the world, its what the fringe do…

            No one is saying that immigration wasn’t mentioned or talked about, the point you refuse to accept is what weight people placed on the issues in the end, why do you think people remember Vote Leave’s red bus with its (economic) message on the side but not UKIPs “Breaking Point” (immigration) poster – even though at the time UKP’s poster got far more media exposure due to ‘events’.

  40. NickC
    January 28, 2018

    JR, An excellent post. And I can well understand your frustration at Remain insistence on talking about trade yet their ignorance of it.

    However Remain does so because there is a political vacuum.. Sort out the politics first, then trade rules will follow as a necessary but boring (for most people) consequence.

    I was always opposed to the Art50 route because of problems like this. Nevertheless ’tis done. However, there is no reason why we should not declare ourselves an independent nation on 30th March this year (because the EU will have had 12 months notice). That gives certainty; and sorts the politics. From April on, we can continue to trade with the EU under WTO rules (at zero tariffs or their tariffs, their choice), whilst re-aligning ourselves with the rest of the world.

  41. Peter D Gardner
    January 28, 2018

    When the Brexit referendum was won I mapped out an ideal plan for Brexit. It adopted WTO rules as the new status quo and aimed to achieve that within a year of the referendum. At the same time I planned a framework for a new relationship consisting of a mix of MoUs and planned discussions and working groups to address secondary issues and details of implementation. Only after a period of independence would the UK and EU consider a closer formalised relationship. This would have given great certainty to individuals and businesses, avoided protracted delays in which the Remoaners could organise and muster resources to undermine the process, minimise the risk of events beyond UK’s and the EU’s control and enable UKG to focus its short term efforts on restoring self-government to UK and sorting out domestic policies without being distracted by the EU.
    It didn’t happen because we got Mrs May instead.

  42. Denis Cooper
    January 28, 2018

    JR, it is quite true that “The EU has deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade”, but it is also true that the UK government had taken this lying down when it should have been loudly protesting and telling the world that this was the EU insisting on a time-wasting misinterpretation of Article 50 TEU.

    Likewise my own reading of the treaties does not support the contention that the EU is prohibited from signing any trade deal with the UK prior to its withdrawal, yet Theresa May and David Davis have not just voluntarily accepted, but have even publicly repeated, that EU contention rather than protesting against it.

    “As the Prime Minister set out in Florence, the European Union is not legally able to conclude an agreement with the United Kingdom as an external partner while we are still a Member State. It is only possible for us to sign this agreement when we are outside the European Union.”

    As I have said before I can understand why Theresa May felt the need to wave an olive branch in the direction of the EU when she became Prime Minister after a referendum campaign during which the Remain side deliberately spread the lie that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to isolate ourselves from our neighbours.

    But once that was done she should have hardened her position; instead she has clearly been backsliding from the slightly too conciliatory, but acceptable, position that she laid out a year ago in her Lancaster House speech.

    “The government’s negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: PM speech”

    I would like to see all members of the government, and senior civil servants as well, lining up to publicly sign a copy of that speech; as for her Florence speech I found it difficult to see what it really added to the Lancaster House speech; as for her next speech, I am now really concerned what she will say and what further concessions she will make.

  43. Shieldsman
    January 28, 2018

    NHSGP – mentions the Chicago Convention which established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the UN charged with coordinating and regulating international air travel. It governs bilateral Air Service Agreements and the European Commission accepts this.

    At the stroke of midnight 29th March 2019 having triggered Article 50 the United Kingdom will cease to be an EU member and therefore part of the European Common Aviation Area. What does this mean? It means the UK (as a 3rd Country) resumes responsibility for negotiating bilateral ASA’s. Its bargaining power being its Airspace. Article 1 of the Convention states that ‘The contracting States recognize that every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory’, while Article 6 on scheduled air services states that, ‘No scheduled international air service may be operated over or into the territory of a contracting State, except with the special permission or other authorization of that State, and in accordance with the terms of such permission or authorization’.

    We never lost these rights, so did the EU usurp them or borrow them? We will no longer be subject to Community Law or the ECJ and will have exclusive rights to negotiate bi-lateral air service agreements under the Chicago Convention.

    Whilst there is much ill-informed talk this side of the Channel I have not read of any EU negotiations taking place. If our current ASA’s with the Community fall then so could the EU- USA agreement. The UK’s Airspace was used as a bargaining tool.

  44. Denis Cooper
    January 28, 2018

    The Independent says openly what Philip Hammond may be thinking:

    “The longer it takes, the softer Brexit will be”

    “A long, and extendable, transition period could be a way of Britain staying in the single market ‘temporarily’ but for the foreseeable future”

    “British officials have asked about the possibility of extending the transition.”

    Presumably with the approval of Theresa May and David Davis.

    “The second best outcome, in The Independent’s view, however, is still a live possibility. It is that Britain should stay in the EU single market, with all that that entails, including the free movement of people. One way to achieve that would be for the transition period to be extendable permanently, because Britain will continue to be in the single market for as long as the transition lasts, which is why it is not just the duration of the period that matters but the flexibility of its end date.”

  45. Helen Taylor
    January 28, 2018

    Seems to be the horse is bolting with the reins flapping. Why cant someone pick up the reins and start telling us what is in place for our laws, money and borders. I favour an Australian system for visiters etc. Feels like they still havent got anything prepared for march 19

    1. Edward2
      January 29, 2018

      There is a bill going through Parliament right now which will have the effect of transferring EU law into UK law.
      Money…well we are retaining the Pound
      We have suggested a payment in order to gain the fabled trade deal we all are told we want.
      Borders…we will regain control and be able to have a policy on numbers which we the UK voters can decide.

  46. Denis Cooper
    January 28, 2018

    Norway seemed to be gaining favour among various Remoaning commentators on TV this morning. Just a reminder that while as an EFTA and EEA member Norway has to accept all four of the EU’s allegedly inseparable EU Single Market “four freedoms”, including the free movement of persons, that is to say uncontrolled and unlimited migration, it is not actually in the EU Single Market and nor is it in the EU Customs Union, or in any customs union with the EU Customs Union. Hence the difficulties which the government of the Irish Republic wishes to unnecessarily create over its border with Northern Ireland would apply just as much even if the border was with Norway rather than with the UK, or even if the UK was to bend the knee and accept the inferior legal status of Norway.

    1. Soft Brexit
      January 29, 2018

      ‘it is not actually in the EU Single Market’

      How are you arguing this?

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 31, 2018

        It is what the EU says, that there are 28 members of the EU Single Market, the 28 EU member states, and Norway is not among them. If it was then it would not be free from EU agricultural and fisheries policies, as it is, and it would also be a member of the EU Customs Union, which it is not.

  47. Peter
    January 28, 2018

    ‘The EU has deliberately wasted a year and a half since the vote by refusing to discuss trade.’

    Correct, but please do not forget our negotiators have indulged them in their adoption of this ploy. It looks like our negotiators are on course to grant the EU even more slack too.

  48. Steve Reay
    January 28, 2018

    Our government needs to ask the EU one question, would you like to have a free trade agreement together. Once we have the answer we can move forward.

    1. Rien Huizer
      January 28, 2018

      You may learn more about what the EU is prepared to offer tomorrow. Unfortunately the UK has yet to do something like that. This forum seems to be for one purpose, to make readers feel that the current PM is not only incompetent but also disloyal to her own people. It seems to bring out the worst in some people. Pretty disgusting really.

      1. NickC
        January 29, 2018

        Rien, What people voted for was Leave. Not remaining in bits of the EU to satisfy homegrown Remains and continental ideologues. Mrs May is delivering a soft Brexit, which may suit you, the EU, and the Remains, but not us Leaves. All while we are subject to vile Remain and EU ad hominem abuse. Pretty disgusting really.

  49. APL
    January 28, 2018

    JR: “I am amazed at how many people want to talk about trade and little else.”

    I hope you are correct. But if you are, it begs the question, why did we ever join the EEC in the first place?

    There is nothing the EEC/EU could do for us, that we couldn’t have done by ourselves.

    What a monumental waste of time … and money.

  50. nigel seymour
    January 28, 2018

    So, Let’s just say we are where we are. Nobody seems to like Donald but I do. He says what he thinks and may well have negotiated brexit in a somewhat different manner. Nevertheless, the US is bigger than a President as the UK is bigger than a PM…are we in agreement up to this point?
    Theresa should clearly make a statement to the country on where we are and where we are going with the (somewhat now toxic) term BREXIT. I voted to leave the EU on mainly ECJ together with DEFRA issues. The £36b offer to pay them is absolute peanuts in terms of our GDP of $2.4 trillion.

    If we can’t realise a brexit that 17.4 cast their votes for then we should have a Gen Elec this year or a second referendum that would clear the air and bring the UK together so we can all be happy bunnies again…….

  51. Newmania
    January 28, 2018

    Leaving aside the’ imaginative’ CV, and argument from personal magnificence, this delightful piece missing out a few teeny weeny details. Services, our largest industry , non-tariff barriers, not covered under WTO ( and much more ). I think Sir Andrew Cook put it well ( he is a real exporter to the EU who cares for many real jobs )
    “The non tariff barriers concern product specifications. They are a real problem in my trade with non-EU countries. They are not a problem when I trade in the single market. They will be a real problem if the UK leaves the single market…….The single market was not on the ballot paper. This is what is known as a ‘fact’. And Mr Boris Johnson promised throughout the referendum campaign that my access to it would not be harmed at all.”
    …as did every other leave campaigner but then……sigh….its alkl been said … Passporting is not covered either but then John said he was happy that those jobs go if we could do a deal on motor , as it is we will lose both. Good job
    But its all; such tosh anyway; for example we have assured Nissan, that it will not suffer but under WTO if Britain were to agree bilaterally with the EU not to apply tariffs on cars, the WTO’s “most-favoured nation” principle would force it to offer tariff-free access to other countries as well. Ooops. WTO has no power anyway and is ritually ignored ,it is guaranteed only by the agreement of the EU the US and China . We as much a ball to be kicked around as ever , we are just too small.

  52. Ed Mahony
    January 28, 2018

    ‘Cars at 10% are relatively high but again we have a huge deficit in cars’

    In the UK, we build cars that could be built anywhere else. They’re just utility cars. (Low) price is absolutely key.

    But Germans build high brand quality cars. Where quality is absolutely key (and where customers don’t might paying more for their favourite brand of car).

    So in the car tariff war, Germany would trash us.

    1. Ed Mahony
      January 28, 2018

      IF we want to break away from the single market, fine, but surely we first need to build up our economy properly first.

      1) Firstly, pay off our national deficit
      2) Build up our productivity to that of Germany’s
      3) Build up our exports to outside the EU to the at of Germany
      4) Not focus so much on financial services (important as they are). Firstly, they lead to uncertainty in the economy (look at how the banks performed in the recession, having to be bailed out). Secondly, it’s connected (not responsible) to the low productivity problem
      5) We need to build up our high tech industry, which brings in a lot of income to the country in general, as well as raising productivity and job loyalty and so on. And where we’re not so dependent on the financial sector (important as that is).

      Then we would be far more prepared to leave the single market. And whilst we’re at it, we need a strong leader to implement separation from the single market, including a proper strategy that everyone can agree on a lot more.

      We seem very far from that at the moment, unfortunately.

      1. Ed Mahony
        January 28, 2018

        Single market and customs union i meant.

        If our economy was built up a lot more and we had a strong leader in place (and that isn’t Mrs May’s fault – if it were, Brexiters would have kicked her out but they don’t want to because they don’t know who to replace her by), then I would strongly support leaving the single market and customs union (but only if the country voted for it). (There are good global political reasons for not supporting Brexit outright).

        At the moment, i think Brexiters are trying to square the circle – that our economy isn’t really strong enough, and without a strong economy, a political project, whether Brexit or something else, falls to the wayside (especially when time is important and so many young people voted remain).

    2. ChrisS
      January 29, 2018

      We build “just utility cars” ????

      What absolute rubbish.

      Have you never heard of Jaguar, Landrover, Rolls Royce, Bentley and McLaren ?

      For buyers of these vehicles the fact that they are built in Britain ( except for a small number of JLR models ) is crucial.

      Even the Honda, Nissan and Toyotas built here are of a high standard.

      1. Ed Mahony
        January 29, 2018

        ‘Jaguar, Landrover, Rolls Royce, Bentley and McLaren’

        – Fair point.

        However, i haven’t the figures, but i imagine German quality brands – Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche trounce our quality vehicles in terms of sales.

        ‘Even the Honda, Nissan and Toyotas built here are of a high standard’

        – I wasn’t talking about ‘high standard’ but high brand value.

        Honda, Nissan and Toyota are more utility than high brand value, and are Asian cars that build some of their cars in the UK but can be made anywwhere. Where as the German cars enjoy brand values precisely because they are ‘German cars’ and are closely associated with production in Germany.

        Question, i’d like to look at is why Germany’s car industry is basically so much stronger than ours. We have great technicians and engineers. Why aren’t we able to compete with Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche in sales to the degree we should?

    3. NickC
      January 29, 2018

      Ed, If you bother with surveys of reliability you will find that Japanese cars rank highly but German cars not so much. Toyota, Lexus, Honda are frequently cited as good makes, with occasional mentions of Jaguar, Mercedes, Skoda, Kia and Ford.

    4. Know-Dice
      January 29, 2018

      “Germans build high brand quality cars. Where quality is absolutely key”

      You clearly don’t run a German car…(some ed) German cars come fairly low on the reliability scale, many are bought for the status symbol of the brand name…

  53. M Criquet Bâton
    January 28, 2018

    This coming week the EU nation-states are reportedly voting on “A Two Year Transition” BUT we are not getting a vote.
    In fact, we have no idea why a Transition. No idea transitioning from what to what. We can only assume that the Heads of each nation will awake in the morning after the Transition operation and their children will be confused whether to call them Mummy or Daddy or something inbetween.

  54. Anonymous
    January 28, 2018

    Chris Packham – BBC TV tonight. Lecturing us all on the impact of industrialisation … from his sprawling country home thrice bigger than mine and obviously less energy efficient than the town semi I live in.

  55. John Dodds
    January 28, 2018

    Mr Redwood,if you are not on the list of MPs held by the 1922 Committee please add your name and encourage just a few more to do the same.Our “remain” PM is an insult to the electorate who voted for Brexit and day by day is ruining any attempt to break free of the EU.She is Britains version of Hilary Clinton and deserves to be ousted before she achieves what she and her “remain” colleagues have set out to do,that is thwart Brexit!

  56. Chris
    January 28, 2018

    I see another of Theresa May’s appointees has described those who objected to the 39 billion bill for leaving the EU as apparently mainly “swivel eyed” elderly men…
    What a childish, sneering and unacceptable comment to make from someone I believe does not even deserve a position of responsibility. However, May seems to think she is good.

  57. Prigger
    January 29, 2018

    Our Donald really doesn’t like the guy who leads Nor the company. Not that that has the slightest to do with what is happening right now!!!

  58. James Snell
    January 29, 2018

    Just why do you think the EU should be willing to make a special deal with us for trading goods..after march 2019 we will become a third country to them and they have already said there will be no cherry picking allowed..neither will we be able to have our cake and eat it..right at this time we have the best trade deal possible with them but we have decided to take a different road we can hardly blame them if they look on with a certain amount of disbelief and scepticism..i would say they are probably in awe of us at the stupidity of it all. It has been clearly far as they are concerned we can never be better off with a new deal than we are right now at present..could anything be more clear

  59. John Soper
    January 29, 2018

    A mystifying column, Mr Redwood. Mrs May agreed in December to keep our laws in alignment with the EU, in order to sort out the Irish problem. The UK has decided deal is better than no deal. Did you not notice?

  60. Original Richard
    January 29, 2018

    “The good news is France and Germany, and of course Spain that owns our national airline , have no wish to get their planes banned from London.”

    How is it possible “British Airways” can continue to use this name if it is not British and this fact is not made clear on all advertisements, documents, websites, etc.?

    Is this not contravening the trade descriptions act ?

    In textiles it is not legal to use, for instance, an Italian sounding brand name, unless the product was made in Italy or carries a label with the true country of origin.

  61. hans chr iversen
    January 29, 2018

    Institute for Economic Forecasting: There will be less money for the NHS after Brexit and less money for investments in teh public sector as well>

    Latest statistics. The number of new companies formed during 2017 is at a seven year low, having fallen 13.0% from 2016.

    1. Edward2
      January 29, 2018

      The first point is just more Project Fear predictions

      The bit about company formations….There was a boom for a few years as one person bandsand micro businesses formed themselves into limited companies to get beneficial tax treatments but Hammond has stopped that so figures are returning to normal.
      Nothing to do with Brexit.

  62. Dennis
    January 29, 2018

    How is it Mr Redwood that only you know all this and no one else in government does?

    Have they completely blocked you out , locked all doors to their offices to you and if you approach near them they put their fingers in their ears hating to hear whatever you say?

    Reply They know my views, as they are public information.

    1. nigel seymour
      January 29, 2018

      agree – does john speak to graham brady and if not then why not – it will take 48 letters to bring down the pm and with it probably the gov in 2018…

      Reply Not so. Were 48 Conservative MPs to ask for a vote of confidence by letter, then a vote is held, which they need to win, requiring another 111 supporters to do so.

      1. nigel seymour
        January 30, 2018

        regardless of another 111 she would be a complete and utter political dead duck and boris would get his chance when she resigns.

    2. Dennis
      January 29, 2018

      Reply to Reply ‘They know my views, as they are public information.’

      ‘ – But they don’t repeat them!

  63. Toffeeboy
    January 29, 2018

    It’s a foolhardy assumption to make that the WTO will even exist in five years time given your friend Donald Trump’s attitude towards it. I’m af
    raid to say it’s also extremely naive to think the EU will not find non-tariff means to disrupt our trade, forcing FDI across the channel. And you conveniently make no mention of services, by far our most important export, which are not even covered by the WTO. But hey, carry on brainwashing your followers. Sure they’ll be happy to keep lapping up these myths!

    1. NickC
      January 29, 2018

      Toffeeboy, Just go on the WTO website and it states explicitly that the WTO covers goods, SERVICES, and intellectual property. And covers 98% of global trade. Boy, you Remains keep repeating the same mistakes.

  64. Ken Moore
    January 29, 2018

    More EU analysis light.
    We really are in trouble – the Conservative modernisers don’t believe in Brexit and the Tory right have only a very superficial grasp of the complexity of the issues. They haven’t done their homework properly. Fortunately somebody has (Dr Richard North but because his face doesn’t fit the Westminster bubble his work has been ignored. ..

    ‘Gradually we are seeing the noose tightening and our options erased. The consequences of triggering Article 50 without a plan with only a skin deep understanding of how the system works are coming into full view. We are now seeing the penny dropping in certain quarters why we have pushed the EEA from the beginning. This should be an I told you so moment for us but there is no pleasure in watching this enterprise descend into farce’. RN

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