Labour changes its mind and wants the UK to belong to “a customs union”

The Labour Manifesto was quite clear in 2017 that they wanted the UK to see through Brexit, including running our own trade policy. They laid out considerable details about the features of a global trade policy they wanted for us, which clearly ruled out staying in the or a customs union. Many pro Brexit voters voted Labour because they stood on a pro Brexit ticket.

Of course an Opposition party can change its mind. This particular change of mind has two big downsides for Labour. one is pro Leave voters who voted Labour will not be happy with this. The second is there is no obvious offer of “a customs union” on the table from the rest of the EU. They have told us we have to leave without cherry picking, so why would this much debated variant be on the table? Both Leave and Remain campaigns, and the UK government., told us before the referendum that leaving the EU meant leaving both the single market and the customs union. I don’t see that anything has changed since then.

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  1. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    This new position from Labour is extremely unhelpful and political posturing.

    Labour has continually undermined David Davis and his negotiating team by saying cherry picking is not possible and that single market access is paramount otherwise it will vote against any such deal.

    Labour is now advocating the same approach as David Davis is pursuing. A cherry picked, bespoke deal. If, instead of scoring cheap political points by trying to persuade young and pro EU voters they are in favour of staying in, they got behind the government to secure the best possible deal we would be better off.

    For those who claim the BBC is soft on Labour Barry Gardiner has just had a torrid time on Today. Probably because the new Labour position is advocating leaving.

    • oldtimer
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      I think it is more than just posturing. In the Alinsky tradition that the end justifies the means, Labour is seeking the downfall on the government so that it can take power. If that means making a 180° turn on a manifesto commitment – so what? Even better, Corbyn and co are helped by useful idiots like Soubry and other Conservative MPs. If/when elected this U turn will be conveniently forgotten.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        oldtimer. Soubry and others should clear off. What is going on is a disgrace. The Labour party would put themselves before the country. Well we know what they are all about now, don’t we? For goodness sake, can’t people see what is going on or are they that uneducated?

        • Nematode
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 2:17 am | Permalink

          Maybe Ms Soubry wishes to step into Smokey Kenneth Clarke’s shoes though become Mother of the House. They seem similar in their regard to loyalty which begs the almost Einsteinian question “Is it possible they can occupy the same place and moment in time without mutual destruction and muttering?”

      • percy openshaw
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Spot on, oldtimer. It is useful that people are accusing Corbyn of a cave-in but misleading too. It allows him to look bumbling, consensual, pragmatic and amiable to a crucial constituency of outraged, wealthy remainers who will flood into his maw on these grounds alone. Surely it should be clear that we are dealing with an avowed Leninist, who has done to the Labour Party what Lenin did to the pre-Great War socialists – taken control. With Lenin’s snake like adaptability – think of his alliance with the Kaiser – he now makes europhil noises designed to hobble and defeat the government – and the left Tories like Grieve are his all but willing accomplices. The stupidity of the political centre – it’s peevishness, blindness, one-sidedness and shameful contempt for democracy is leading it to make common cause with the most dangerous man in British politics since the thirties. We must be aware of the danger – all of us – before it is too late.

        • Mitchel
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          To continue your historical reference,the Cameron-May Tories have been pursuing a policy similar to Kerensky’s 1917 Provisional Government,known to history as “no friends to the right of us;no enemies to the left of us.”

          It allowed the bolsheviks to takeover with ease.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      a few ideas for BBC interviewers asking Labour about their U-turn:-

      – why do they think other non-EU European countries with close assoc with the EU, such as Switzerland and Norway, don’t want to be in a customs union with the EU – are they missing some advantage Labour has spotted?
      – why does Labour want the UK to continue to impose the EU’s external tariffs against the rest of the world, disadvantaging poor countries and raising prices for poor people in the UK?
      – Why do Labour want the UK not to have the ability to run an independent trade policy, one of the main debating points in the referendum?
      – Why does Labour want the UK to rush to join a customs union for goods with the EU, where the UK runs a huge deficit, but not trade it against access for services, which account for 80% of the UK economy and where we have a surplus?

      Haven’t heard any of these questions posed yet but its early days.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      It seems that the same EU which would refuse to give Theresa May some bespoke arrangement for the components of vehicles to move around between countries without attracting tariffs would willingly give Jeremy Corbyn a bespoke customs union allowing the UK to control, or at least heavily influence, all the trade deals that the EU made in the future. Well, maybe that would actually happen, but it needs to be asked why the EU would refuse the one but agree the other.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Quite Messrs McDonnell, Corbyn, Gardiner and Ms Thornberry appear to me to be the hectoring not persuading type. I’d pay money to witness Emily Thornberry rolling her eyes and talking down to Mr Barnier while explaining why she was right.

        Mr McDonnell would probably advocate direct action.

      • Andy
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        The EU will give Labour a better deal than the Tories will ever get. Labour has long been friendly to Europe – and has long treated our friends in Brussels and beyond with respect.

        The Tory little Englanders have long lied and treated Europe with contempt. They will get their attitude back with interest.

        • Richard1
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          If it is really true that the EU would treat differently with an elected U.K. Govt because they favoured it’s political colour that is a very strong reason to get out of the EU and ensure no continuing control by it. Happily I think you are wrong. Labour seem to be asking for joint control in setting external tariffs – this will surely count as cherry picking, cake eating etc.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

          The EU see Labour as a soft touch.
          Blair gave away hard earned rebates worth billions for promises that were never obtained.
          Labour will just wave a white flag and claim it as a victory.
          The EU will be rubbing their hands at the prospect.

          • Mitchel
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

            Not sure about that.Blair was/remains a globalist so subjugating us to the EU fitted the plan;Corbyn/McDonnell/Milne are different.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          Do you mean like the excellent deal that Harold Wilson got in his 1974 “renegotiation” which actually renegotiated nothing? Or maybe you do just mean the CAP reforms that Tony Blair failed to get in exchange for a chunk of our budget rebate? It seems you really do deceive yourself even if you fail to deceive anybody else.

          • Andy
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            Not at all. The EU – which has centre right majority – sees Labour as sensible.

            It sees the Tories – who rejected a centre right grouping and joined an extreme right one – as headbangers.

            A view which is demonstrably true.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 28, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

            You have some odd calibration issues with the political spectrum Andy
            You think the current Conservatives are hard right and the EU are centre right.
            Very odd
            Presumably Labour are just right of centre.

  2. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Moving this comment from the last thread, I’ve just seen Barry Gardiner explaining that under Labour our future customs union with the EU would not be the EU customs union – because that customs union is a function of the EU treaties, which will cease to apply to us once we have left the EU – instead it would be a separate customs union like that which Turkey has with the EU, except that unlike that agreement which Turkey has with the EU – which is appalling, as he has said in the past and still says now – Labour would negotiate a very different sort of customs union, under which the UK would continue to have its present veto on all the EU’s trade deals even though it was no longer a member of the EU, and apparently the diplomatic skills of a Labour government would be of such a high order that the EU and its member states would all readily agree to that kind of customs union with the UK, even though it would clearly deprive them of their power to make the trade deals they wanted unless a third country, the UK, also went along with it.

    So presumably when a new trade deal was made with South Korea, for example, under this Labour vision, it would no longer start as described here:

    but instead like this:


    between the European Union and its Member States, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of the one part, and the Republic of Korea, of the other part





    Contracting Parties to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, hereinafter referred to as the ‘Member States of the European Union’,



    and also


    of the one part, and

    THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA, hereinafter referred to as ‘Korea’,

    of the other part … ”

    • NickC
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Denis, Indeed. It’s a bit like the supporters of Partial Remain claiming that we could just twizzle our magic wand to join the EFTA and then sign up to the EU’s EEA. Apparently according to their La-la-land politics the EU doesn’t get a say, when we can see that the the EU has been obstinate, unfriendly, and obstructive even so far.

      Unfortunately most Labour voters, like Conservative voters, are tribal, and cannot see how their parties are letting them down with a non-Leave Brexit and a non-transition transition. It’s how the establishment get away with it so often.

  3. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    They’re getting even more confused by now saying the referendum was about us making our own rules but then saying external trade agreements have to be made by us along with the EU. Barry Gardiner sounded as though he wanted to crawl back into his shell on this one.

    • stred
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Talking about confused politicians, Claire Perry the Energy Minister was on after Gardiner this morning explaining how the electricity and gas price cap would work. She said it would not guarantee that prices would not rise, as the wholesale costs may go up in things like oil. Apart from a tiny bit of diesel for keeping the lights on when the wind drops and we don’t have enough coal next year, almost all electricity is produced using gas, coal, nuclear and a bit of wind and solar when available.

      She also wants to make us have smart meters, rejected by the Germans as useless because she thinks we can turn off appliances and does not realise that they cost £400 to install, the first £4bn worth don’t work properly, and the cost adds £40 to the bill, according to Centrica. Leaving the EU wiil not save us from daft ministers.

      • stred
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Coal currently keeping us warm with 23% and wind 15%. Claire wants to close all coal soon and rely on wind.

  4. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    So Labour’s plan is that we aren’t allowed to import agricultural produce from elsewhere in the world-we have to rely on high price EU food – in return for us helping the EU keep their side open of this lovely border in Ireland. A kind of lose-lose for the whole UK with Labour.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Ah, Sir Joe. You are so right. These ”problems” that keep being presented are not that. Surely it isn’t only us who recognise that we are being played like fishes. It really is simple, as many of us who have trading interests with EU realise. It is so infuriating that we who know, and have interests in, simplicity, are being betrayed by our own negotiators!

  5. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Can’t you get onto Today and knock this garbage into the can?

  6. Bert Young
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Labour simply wish to disrupt any plan that may emerge from the Government . Putting their oar first into the water before detail comes from the Chequers meeting is Labour’s motif .

  7. Adam
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Customs Unions exist to ensure suppliers meet their customers’ specifications accurately & efficiently. That is what the UK does, & any sensible exporter would intend & do anyway. The EU version restricts its members’ freedoms, so why would the UK need to belong to that?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      That is not what a customs union does.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      A customs union gets rid of tariffs on its members and imposes them on non-members. One of the consequences of this is to draw the members of the Customs Union together economically and politically and has been favoured as such in the past. In the 19th century, Prussia led a customs union in Germany (the Zollverein) which paved the way to German unity. The EU customs union along with the Euro was obviously intended to work in a similar way towards a federal Europe.

      As the UK is leaving the EU, it makes no earthly sense for the UK to be part of the EU customs union. Why would we (for instance) want to put duties on cheap food from the Third World, trainers from developing countries and wine from Australia? We want to make things cheaper not more expensive when we leave the EU.

  8. duncan
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    And in direct contradiction to their core vote who voted en-masse to leave the EU.

    It comes as no surprise that this poisonous political entity should treat its core vote with open contempt and take them for granted. Labour have been taken their core vote for granted for decades.

    When will Labour’s core vote wake up from their slumber and see Labour for what they are? Their core vote aligns themselves with a party that in private despise them

    The Tories must appeal to Labour’s core vote and this is thEU opportunity to do so. We need an aggressive leader with punch. A real world politician. None of this Oxbridge tosh either. Someone who speaks the normal language of normal language. Someone who speaks about the real rather than the political

    We can exploit this Labour volte face. Their core bloc vote are apolitical so we need to speak in non-political fashion

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Indeed,as Lenin wrote:

      “We don’t need hysterical outbursts,we need the measured tread of the iron battalions of the proletariat”.

  9. Peter Miller
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Few would ever dare accuse Labour, especially now, of ever having a coherent economic policy. This is just another example of them failing to realise how the real world works.

    However, as bait to sucker in that small handful of Tory Brexit rebels into doing something stupid/disastrous sometime down the road, it is a brilliant ploy.

  10. Ian wragg
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    It’s a naked attempt to bring down the government aided by Sourberry and company. Hestletine said it is worth forcing the government out if it would keep us in the EU.
    Just what is so attractive about this rotten organisation.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      “Just what is so attractive about this rotten organisation”

      Good question Ian, may be somebody can come up with a sensible well thought-out answer…

      I can’t see it, Internal Market that on a good day added 1% to UK GDP in how many years?
      Customs Union that is protectionist in nature and certainly detrimental to “third world” countries.
      I presume that Labour are intending to pay any external duty collected directly to the EU?

      The MP for Broxtowe really needs to consider her position, even Frank Field says that he will vote for what the British people want i.e. leave the EU rather than purely part lines…

      “UK tied to an EU customs union would mean ‘ratting’ on Brexit voters in the party’s heartlands”

    • hans christian ivers
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      it is about as logical as you suggesting that the EU has something to do with educational standards in our schools

    • graham1946
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Soubry could well be sowing the seeds of her own destruction – her majority is wafer thin. Her voters voted ‘out’ and she is putting 2 fingers up to them and may well get a Labour MP there next time but no doubt she considers this worthwhile to stymie Brexit.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that the leadership of people like Major & Cameron has left us with a Tory party stuffed full of many MPs who almost as dreadful a Soubry is.

    • NickC
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Ian, The only thing the Tory party can do is remove the whip and Tory membership from a couple of their Remain politicians pour encourager les autres.

    • rose
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Heseltine should thinkk about the possiblity that when Corbyn has brought down the Government he will then complete the job and take us out of the EU so he can pursue the policies he wants. Does Heseltine really think being out of the EU is better under Corbyn than his own party?

    • jerry
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      @Ian Wragg; “It’s a naked attempt to bring down the government”

      Why do you so hate (parliamentary) democracy?!

      I bet if there was a Labour government doing something you dislike, with MP’s and Lords using all the democratic tools and parliamentary tactics available to frustrate, defeat or perhaps even bring down the sitting Govt. you would be Cheerleader in chief – did you object when back in 1979 the opposition tabled that motion of (no) confidence in the then Labour Govt that lead to an early GE, if not why not…

      • graham1946
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink


        The difference this time is that it is a matter of national importance, not whether one party or another can get its own way or not. I don’t think the Tories should be negotiating anyway because it is a national priority – we should have had an all party team of Brexiteers, with some help from professional negotiators in business, not rank amateur MP’s and Civil Servants.

      • Ian wragg
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        This is about respecting the result of a referendum.
        Both parties stood on a platform of leave and now they are trying to reverse the result with EU assistance. Referendum trumps partly politics and I predict a very dangerous backlash if we are duped.

        • jerry
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          @Ian Wragg (and @graham1946); “Referendum trumps partly politics”

          Indeed but they do not trump (parliamentary) democracy, nor a later GE result, the bedrock of our democracy that you wish to trash – remember this, what is good enough for the Goose is also good for the Gander, trash parliamentary democracy to rail-road Brexit through parliament and you might just find the next government doing the same to rail-road their pet ideals through too.

          Many who want Brexit do so because the fear loosing the very parliamentary democracy this country was built on, but according to you the first casualty of Brexit should be that democracy…

  11. A different Simon
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The main stream media yesterday started saying Labour wanted to “stay in THE e.u. customs union” .

    By late afternoon the story had changed to “Labour wanted to stay in A customs union” .

    The pronouncement is so vague as to be meaningless yet no media outlet hung E.U. lackey Starmer out to dry .

    When is your Conservative party going to ditch T. May and replace her with someone who is competent ?

  12. Pat
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    What has changed is that elections are due in London, which voted remain. Doubtless they’ll change their mind again afterwards.
    Labour is trying to keep its traditional working class patriotic vote, and keep its academic and internationalist vote at the same time- a difficult balancing act.

    • mancunius
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      It wouldn’t surprise me. But maybe that wouldn’t be necessary to affect the polls: so far the opinion surveys suggest Labour will win in London in any case: the Conservatives may even lose the borough of Westminster, which would be an historic and extraordinary development. As an ex-resident, I ask myself where all these Labour voters in Westminster have come from. And why anyone would want to vote to pay higher council taxes and have grungier surroundings.

      • James neill
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Polls..what polls? Has this got anything to do with pole vaulting I wonder? or is this something to do with the London marathon..but then I see Mancunius is an ex-resident of somewhere- glad to see he is a something ex? But now living in grungier surroundings- glad we sorted that out

        • mancunius
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 12:24 am | Permalink

          Dictionaries are available to help the hard of thinking distinguish between English homonyms such as ‘poll’ and ‘pole’.

  13. jack Snell
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Not so- everything has changed- the government, because of the disarray of the conservative party cannot come up with a convincing plan to meet our requirements- whatever they may be. As someone else said the government is like a cat caught up in a tree unable to get down and whenever anyone tries to help the cat only hisses and shows claw. So somethings gotta give and this is it it seems. Corbyn obviously judges the time right to make his move now and so we will listen to his speech today, Mrs May has to wait for her speech until Friday, she couldn’t even strike when the iron was hot, could have had her speech out last Friday before Tusk got his sixpence worth in as well- but she didn’t. And now it looks like whatever she intended to say on Friday will have to be drastically altered. So I am afraid she is nearing the end but still has one more stroke to pull- she may very well go to the Palace, call for another GE, which will really be a rerun of the referendum, and then resign as leader. Such a move would bring the house down and allow Jeremy and Labour in, probably for two terms, and when that time is up we will be well and truly in a customs union of sorts. All the old reliables, Fox, Gove and Boris will have been kicked over to the Lords, John McDonnell too and with the older voters all fading away and all will be sweet again. The younger generation will be approaching middle age and there will be peace again in the land. All this is happening because the real establishment that is the establishment behind the establishment, and I don’t mean the civil service, see the benefits of being in a customs union arrangement and it is they who really pull the strings in this land. Yes things have changed since the referendum- all has changed utterly.

  14. jerry
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Corbyn, like TM, is having to speak to two different audiences with a single message. Labour’s position is not that different to the Govts, just housed in different words and phrases, both seem to think that we will get a ‘mix-n-mix’ deal from the EU, but that is off the table according to Mr Barnier!

    • Edward2
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Correct Jerry.
      Both Labour and Conservatives are debating what their favourite deal is going to be like.
      Yet the EU continue to say no such deals are acceptable to them.
      There will be some disappointed (and surprised) politicians shortly.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink


      Agree,good point

  15. Original Richard
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Although Mr. Corbyn is pro Brexit, having voted against every single EU Treaty, he is hoping that with the help of the SNP and the Tory’s EU supporters to bring down the government and force a new GE.

    The only way the EU would accept our membership of a customs union would be if we did not have a veto on any trade deal they wanted to implement, so not only would we be shackled to the EU’s trade policy but we would be leaving ourselves in a very exposed position.

  16. Turboterrier.
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Of course an Opposition party can change its mind.

    The only reason they keep changing their options is they are determine to destroy this government and gain power which as it always does will destroy the country with totally outdated not fit for purpose policies.

    They are like tumbleweed they will go whichever way the wind blows to achieve their goal.

  17. Peter Wood
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Good morning,
    Remember last October when Corbyn make a quiet visit to meet Barnier; well now we know the deal they hatched out. Perfidious Corbyn and his cronies!

    • Timaction
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. I think it becomes clear their intention, along with the EU (Verhofstadt said as much with Marr) and the Tory traitors is to bring down the Government. It’s time your party took action against Soubury and Grieve, post haste. There hope by these shenanigans is a last resort to keep us IN the dictatorship.

  18. alan jutson
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Amazing that the media are getting so wound up about this Labour farce of a policy.

    You can propose whatever you like to the EU, but until they agree, you have nothing.

    Afraid the EU are not in any mood to compromise about anything with anyone, they just want to bully, People, Government, Nations into doing what they want.
    The only tactic against such is a strong and determined response which gives no quarter.

    For 45 years we have tried to turn things around by being co-operative and we have simply failed, Cameron tried under threat of holding a referendum, they just laughed in his face and sent him home.

    Remainers of all colours are simply undermining any chance of a decent settlement for the UK being agreed, because they are splitting our resolve and weakening our arguments.
    The EU would love the UK to fall into chaos and thus decide not to leave, and they will do all they can to stoke up opposition to the referendum result, because they simply want to be in control of our money, our market, our laws, our trade.

    None so blind as politicians who do not want to see the blindingly obvious.
    The more delay, more prevarication, more discussions, will mean the EU have even longer to de-stabilise and weaken the UK.
    Fools, bloody fools, who needs enemies when you have so many politicians who are willing to do the job for them.

  19. alan jutson
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Simple question for all politicians

    Do you want to run our own Country, or would you prefer it to be run by a collection of other Countries.

    Simple answer required Yes or No.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Not other countries, just one – Germany.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Sad to say, Peter Wood, you are right. What a pity it should come to this. But it always was inevitable, because of Germany’s empire-building proclivities.

        • jerry
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:39 am | Permalink

          @L Jones; ” because of Germany’s empire-building proclivities.”

          I take it that you’ve never heard of the “British Empire”, at one time 25% of the worlds land mass was run from or via London! Stop being such a hypocrite…

    • getahead
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      It would not be a collection of other counties, rather one or two countries that may have a voice in Brussels. It is the Brussels Supreme Soviet that actually controls things with a parliament that rubber stamps their decisions. And we thought the USSR was dead. In reality it has just moved west.

    • jerry
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      @alan jutson; If the answer to your simplistic (not simple) question is Yes then not only should we have Brexit but we should also be leaving the UN too! In the modern world that has existed since 1945 no country is totally Sovereign in the way many Brexiteers seem to think.

    • Andy
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      A completely irrelevant question because the EU does not – and never has – run our country. If you properly understood how the EU would you would know this. Sadly most Brexiteers do not bother with fact – when ill-informs ranting will do.

      Your hospitals are rubbish because Westminster fails. Ditto schools and roads and railways and housing. Westminster fails to tackle crime. Social care? Another Westminster failure.

      Pretty much everything that is wrong is the fault of Westminster. These people can not run things as it is -and you want them to run more stuff? Frankly most MPs are so inept they could not run a bath. We need to drain the Westminster swamp not expand it.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Thanks, noted for future reference.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        If our hospitals are such rubbish, why do so many people want to use them?

        It’s not the hospitals that are rubbish, it’s the ever growing demand for their services from the elderly and our ever-growing population.

        I’ve been obliged to use three different departments at my local general hospital recently and never had less than courteous and efficient treatment.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Andy – I voted Brexit but you misunderstand me, at least.

        Westminster always blamed the EU. The judicial activists always blamed the EU.

        So what were we to think ?

        I won’t fight you physically to leave the EU but one government please, not two.

        Your MEP should be your most important politician btw. Are they ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Other countries that you are also obliged to cross subsidise.

      • Andy
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        My combined contribution to the EU budget and overseas aid last year was just over £90. That’s 25p a day. Money well spent. And I earn double the average income taxpayer.

        In contrast I spend 35 times as much – more than £3000 – subsidising pensioners health and welfare – along with what is, effectively, the universal basic income they receive just for being old. What a waste of my money.

        • jerry
          Posted February 28, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

          @Andy; Your second paragraph is beyond contempt, unworthy of further comment…

  20. Beecee
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    They clearly see this as an opportunity to topple the Conservative Government, aided and abetted by the Sourby Grieves Clarkes et al of this world.

    After the probable Labour victory they will renounce their new found belief in the Single Market and Customs Union.

    Mr Corbyn and his backing group seem to have no problem with U-turns and obfuscation

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Renouncing their new found belief could be problematic for Labour. They have many hardy remainers like that Owen chap who contested the leadership.

      Unless Jezza gets a Blair like majority he will find himself with the same Parliamentary issues as Mrs May.

      Still it will be interesting watching Stormzy berating Jezza because ex Grenfell residents don’t want to move to the accommodation they have been offered

  21. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Corbyn is making the same mistake as May – announcing what they want (in both cases a “bespoke” agreement with the EU) and entirely ignoring the fact the EU won’t agree. Corbyn wants to be able to give state aid for industries like steel, to reduce competition when bidding for public sector contracts, to nationalise the post office, and to stop companies employing low-cost immigrant labour – the EU won’t agree to any of that while also allowing him to cherry-pick those bits of the CU & single market he likes. BUT – will Barnier & Trump immediately slap him down as they do with May ? Probably not.

    • Helen Smith
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I have made this point elsewhere. If they don’t then that gives May and ‘in’ for her position, which is actually less cake and eat it and more mutual advantage.

      Mr Redwood, if May makes the matter of the CU a vote of confidence that will make it very hard for Hoey, Field etc. to vote with the conservatives, I hope she has factored this into her equation. I would also like to know what happens to the likes of Soubry and Morgan if they bring down the government. Surely they cannot stand again in their seats, at least not for the Tories, are their constituencies looking around for replacements as we speak?

  22. formula57
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the UK could belong to a union of European countries too?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      And have access to a single market with aligned freedom of movement rights too

  23. Lifelogic.
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    This should surely damage Labour and help the Tories. Might be nice if the Tories had a proper leader who was a real Tory and could help them help themselves though. The opposition is so bad they should be miles ahead.

    I am no great fan of Juliet Samuel (Telegraph journalist) but today she is surely right. Selling people useless degrees (at least 2/3rd of them I estimate) for three years work and leaving them with a £50k debt is massive mis-selling essentially by government. As of course are the absurd PV and wind subsidies & tax breaks and similar for electric cars. Get the government out of the way please.

  24. ChrisS
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I said here only last week that there is a real risk that an opportunist Labour shadow cabinet would set up a situation like this in an attempt to bring down Mrs May’s Government in the hope of forcing a general election.

    The fact that a few disparate anti-Brexit Conservatives are likely to side with Labour is a matter of deep regret.

    As for Labour’s argument. It appears to create more problems than it solves. Unless the EU 27 engage in mischief-making, it is heading for rejection. Given their arrogance and their insistence in being in control of everything, the 27 are extremely unlikely to allow us to make our own trade deals while remaining in any kind of customs union with them.

    We voted to leave. Having our international trade remain under the control of Brussels is most certainly not any kind of Brexit that Labour voters in the Midlands and North would recognise.

    With Mrs May being able to rely on the continual support of up to seven Brexiteer Labour members led by Frank Field and Kate Hoey, I personally I doubt that Soubrey, Grieve and Clarke can assemble enough treacherous Conservatives to defeat the government in this crucial vote.

    Clarke will surely retire before the next election and one can only hope that Grieve and especially the increasingly ranting Soubrey will pay the ultimate price when their association consider who should be their candidate in four year’s time.

  25. William Long
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    This is surely just a ploy to cobble an apparent bridge to the Conservative dissidents in the forthcoming vote with a view to defeating the Government. The said dissidents should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Tom
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Indeed they should be ashamed but rather unlikely from people like Soubry.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Whenever they appear on TV they seem very pleased with themselves.

  26. Doug Powell
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The headline is:

    “Corbyn sells out to the Blairites! – Does not respect democracy!”

    If the Tories are smart, which is doubtful with May in charge, they would now come on strongly advocating a ‘clean’ Brexit, thereby picking up the disaffected Labour Brexit voters.
    That done, those grateful voters could remain in the Tory fold for a generation!

  27. rose
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    They are telling us with a straight face that yes, we are leaving the house, but we must stay in all the rooms. The smooth-tongued Barry Gardiner told us this morning that the Referendum meant just one thing: Parliament taking back sovereignty – so it can continue to leave it with Brussels. The staying-in-at-any-cost brigade have persuaded the leadership to go along with this in the hope of toppling the government. Then, the leadership presumably think, they can u-turn again, so as to be able to implement their socialism in one country policies.

    The Referendum did not mean Parliament can contract out government to Brussels. It meant exactly the opposite.

  28. Mick
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The only thing that’s changed is the BIG lie that labour gave in there jackanory manifesto along with all the other lies they peddled to get votes , well go ahead Corbyn and try and keep us in the Eu by a back door , you might not along with all your champagne socialist fellow mps in the London bubble be kicked out of Westminster at the next GE and that goes for any other mp around the country that tries to keep us in the Eu by any means, but you will be loosing shed loads of votes Corbyn north of the Watford gap,

  29. JM
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I trust the Tory Remainers will see the Labour change of policy for what it is: a naked attempt to bring down the Prime Minister and hence the Government. There is no principle behind the position taken beyond this purely self-interested political aim.

    • ChrisS
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Soubry needs to withdraw her amendment.

      However, there would appear to be little chance of that happening unless the Whips can convince her that it has effectively turned her into a stooge for Corbyn and the band of Communist fellow travellers currently running Labour.

  30. Shieldsman
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Corbyn has been to see Barnier, so did Barnier offer Corbyn a cherry-picked customs union? I doubt it.
    Would not Tusk and the troika insist on the four freedoms being part of the package.
    Which reminds me of Ed Milibands stone carving – 4 Controls on immigration
    Wheres does Sturmer and the Tory rebels think they are heading?
    Do they think they can defeat the Government and force an election?
    The rebels may think they can force another referendum. What would the question be?
    Have you changed yours minds because leaving has been made so difficult by the Brussels dictatorship.
    Could it be that the resolve to leave has been strengthened.
    The Tory rebels need to take their blinkers off, the EU they so love is in turmoil.

  31. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    An occasion when I agree with most of what this author writes:

    “That said, we have to confront the idea that the man (Starmer) is either terminally stupid, or he believes us all to be, so much so that we will accept without complaint his assertion that a customs union will avoid a hard border in Ireland.

    Surely to God by now, we should have politicians who are sufficiently knowledgeable about the basics? Surely they must know that a customs union will have no effect on freeing up trade on the Irish border once we leave the EU (and end the transition period). To ensure free movement of goods (and some services) we must retain, via the EEA, participation in the Single Market.

    Needless to say, despite the rank stupidity of the assertion, the idle Marr let it pass without challenge. Thus he misses, as he so often does, the key point and lets another politician off the hook. Only the BBC – apart from the rest of the media – could employ someone so utterly useless.”

    [Actually that last sentence is incorrect, because Sky and ITV did the same:

    “I’ve watched four politics programmes this morning and on each there was at least one person who assumed as a matter of course that being in the/a customs union with the EU was the key to keeping an open border in Ireland … ”

    “On the same day, though, we also had Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit Committee tweeting about Efta, giving the firm impression that believes this to be a customs union. Thus, amongst the MPs and media, we have the building evidence that we are caught in the grip of an epidemic of stupidity.

    Trying to assess why many ostensibly intelligent people manage to get it so wrong, so consistently, has been a never-ending labour on this blog and we’re probably no closer to an answer than we’ve ever been.”

    But at least it is his blog and so the fruits of his never-ending labour get published …

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I think the assumption is that by having high external tariffs on agricultural imports from outside the EU, we will end up retaining the existing tariff rates i.e. zero for importing the same from the EU. So it’s a Trojan horse way of staying in the SM, I believe, if we think about it.

    • Jason wells
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Denis.. when everyone else doesn’t measure up you had better have a good look at your own yardstick

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Nothing wrong with my yardstick, or my metre rule for that matter.

        Perhaps you didn’t notice some quotation marks.

    • Peter A
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m trying to understand why so many reckon that joining a customs union with EU will solve the Eire/NIreland border problem, it’s not very clear. Evidently the Norway solution (a result of a 52% vote to leave the EU in the 1994 referendum) of joining the Single Market but not the Customs Union does not remove the customs border with Sweden, so not much good for us. However the bit I do understand is that a customs union along the lines of Turkey/EU (which is a cherry -picking deal as far as I can see) certainly does not do away with the need for a hard border. And it is Turkey type deal that Labour mentions as an example bespoke deal, is it not?.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        And it is a border which really does have queues of trucks, as the FT reported last year when it was in an earlier phase of disparaging the idea that we could stay in the/a customs union with the EU:

        “Turkey border gridlock hints at pain to come for Brexit Britain”

        “Even though Turkey is part of the coveted customs union, which means that these trucks won’t be paying any duties for the goods they haul, the total value of trade lost because of the delays, cost and hassle is estimated to be about €3bn, according to a 2015 study.”

  32. Breeze Block
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Half a million Labour Party members haven’t changed their minds. No-one at the top of the Labour Party has bothered to ask their opinion let alone form a new policy.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    So this is really great. Now we have civil servants coming up with a stupid proposal for the government, and the official opposition responding with their own stupid proposal. And neither or them are even asking the question posed here, once again:

    “And this would apply to the whole of the UK economy, not just the 12% or so of output which is exported to the EU, and not just the 6% or so of businesses which export to the EU, but every part, every nook and cranny, of our national economy – including those parts which are actually connected to our trade with the rest of the world.

    Why is Theresa May still prepared to extend this extraordinary privilege to the EU, that because we do some trade with them we must allow them to control the whole of our country and our economy? Why does she not offer the same deal to other countries, that as we do some trade with the US we will all obey every US law, that as we do some trade with China we will all obey every Chinese law, etc, etc?”

    • acorn
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      At last, there are a lot of “leave” voters that are starting to realise that they were conned by the lies and deceit of the “Leave” campaign. Most had no idea what a Customs Union was or a Single Market; or, what the consequences would be of leaving such.

      Explaining the difference between FTAs; Customs Unions and Single Markets, should have been done way before the referendum. The phrase “taking back control” worked well but the little people had no idea what “sovereignty” meant in terms of what it would cost them in Pounds and Pence for the next decade.

      For those who have asked me, the degree of EU economic integration can be categorised into five stages:
      1. Free trade area
      2. Customs union
      3. Single market
      4. Economic and monetary union
      5. Complete integration (political union)

      These differ in the degree of unification of economic policies, with the highest one
      being the political union. The big mistake the EU made was adopting No 4 (the Euro currency) far to early in the process.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        It was stated by our PM and stated in the Leaflet sent every home that leaving the EU meant leaving it’s main pillars.
        Customs union single market and ending the supremacy of their courts.
        No confusion

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        UK supporters of the EEC/EC/EU/USE project had decades to explain these things but instead they chose to lie and obfuscate, year after year. Even now we have Labour pretending that the EU would let the UK negotiate a new sort of customs union which would give the UK some right to control or influence all future EU trade deals. Do you reckon that would be a runner? Come on now, be honest, do you really believe that the EU in general, or the EU Commission in particular, would be willing to grant a non-member country joint rights over the negotiation and conclusion of all its future trade deals?

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          That would depend on the treaty structure. Consultation looks reasonable and achievable. Maybe even desirable given that this is going toward a hard brexit in 2019 (almost unavoidable unless the UK starts to discuss matters in earnest soon) and then a few years later the UK may well regret what it did in 2016. Having discussed a cooperative structure before the actual collapse of negotiations (I expect in August) may still be in people’s memories and rather than a humiliating return to the fold (which the fold may not like at all) a cooperative relationship may well be available. I assume that by that time hardship will have changed the UK political landscape.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Once again, I note your contemptuous reference to “the little people”.

        • acorn
          Posted February 28, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

          The little people are the ones I look out for. The lower 60% of the household distribution, who have been increasingly ripped off by neo-liberal governments of all colours, since the start of the Thatcher era.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 28, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            We have never had neo liberalism
            Since the 1970s the State has got ever larger
            State spending has risen every year
            Loads of new taxes.
            PLCs and multi nationals have grabbed market power
            The EU has grown to a vast size.
            More laws rules regulations and directives in the last 20 years than in the previous 75
            Crony capitalism. ..yes
            When a state is spending nearly half of all national income this is not neo liberalism
            Far from it.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Well obviously not half as conned as people were in 1975 when they were told they were only joining a common market. No-one mentioned the five stages at all, Acorn.

        We listened to all sides of the argument in the referendum.

        Most of us voted Leave with great trepidation after threats and warnings from outside of the EU.

        • Anonymous
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          “No-one voted to get poorer” (Pounds and Pence)

          Mass immigration = getting poorer too.

          • Rien Huizer
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            How is that possible. By every measure, the UK economy has benefited from immigration. Without it there would have been far lower GDP growth. Easy to see: the UK has a few million immigrants who work. Unemployment is below the level where GDP can be maintained without acute sector shortages. Suppose these two million would leave, what would happen to unemployment? It would move towards zero, and that would coincide with wage inflation and severe sector shortages.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        ”Conned”, acorn, by ”little people like you”? It would take more than little people like you and your ilk to ”con” those of us who have taken trouble to educate ourselves and carry out our own research, rather than depend on Project Fear soundbites, as you do. How patronisingly ineffectual of you to suggest that we don’t know the meaning of the word ”sovereignty” while you kowtow to the ideals of your EU masters and, without even attempting to educate the rest of us as to why – and yet you berate us because we don’t wish to remain under their heel.
        Carry on with your silly, empty words. They mean nothing to those of us who wish for independence from the execrable EU and its empire-building machinations. We are not all so simple minded as people like you wish to think.
        But tell us, while you are here – why we should even wish to remain shackled to those who are your EU masters. Because you ”remainders” are big on words but very small on reasons.

      • libertarian
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink


        What type of company is it you own and run and which countries are you currently trading with? I want to know because you see I actually do this for real and you are talking twaddle . The so called single market is a con and doesn’t actually exist , and the protectionist customs union is as far from free trade as you can get just about.

        So I do have an idea of what both are because I actually trade in them… you on the other hand dont.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Pretty good. The introduction of the EUR, or Euro, was indeed early but the ECU and ERM were not really effective and the introduction of a real common currency could not wait. There were design errors and of course, Greece joined under false pretenses.

  34. Man of Kent
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The only thing to have changed is the Labour perception that the usual Conservative Remainer suspects might vote with them for their new policy and so defeat the Government .

    Following Chequers we must hope that TM gives a robust speech on Friday re-emphasizing that we are leaving the Single Market and Customs Union .
    Our ‘Remainer’ suspects must loudly endorse this point of view to close off any policy void that TM may be tempted to leave .

    This must be followed with a full scale attack on Corbyn/Starmer as petty, narrow opportunistic ,business as usual, Islington clique which is disregarding its 2017 and Leave voters .

    On the other hand the Conservative Party is answering the referendum call for a new independent country as promised in 2017 .

  35. Oh Oh Prigger
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    The worst thing for Labour is beating the Tory Party in Parliament. It might trigger an Election where they won.Like the Tories they cannot build enough houses for migrants.

    A real downturn in the economy would spell catastrophe. So many mouths to feed. So many potential homeless. So present Labour MPs will be content enough banking their salaries, perhaps getting an addition from being on a committee and one or two freebies. Hoping Corbyn will retire soon…and the Tories taking the flak for any downsides in the economy which Fake News will automatically blame on leaving the EU for the next one hundred years and more for we will never rejoin as it will cease to exist very soon.

    I see PM Orban of Hungary is condemning the EU and heading for another landslide in Elections.
    MarineLe Pen has suddenly awoken from a short nap too and comments much on increased migration into her belov-ed France.

    The clock is ticking for the EU but not for long.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink


      The EU is finished but we are not allowed to criticise it.

  36. Epikouros
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Nothing new that Labour is more interest in manipulating situations for their own ideological benefit and do not give a fig for what is good for the country or indeed what the citizens have voted for or have been promised. As far as Labour especially that it is now well entrenched in the Marxist/Momentum camp promises are only to entice people to vote for them not be actually honoured(student debt to be cancelled just to name one example). Competence, clear rational objective thought are attributes that Labour and their supporters can never be accused of so demanding something like remaining in the customs union when in fact the EU is not offering such is par for the course. That rag tag of clowns and buffoons aspire to govern our country. God help us if they succeed.

  37. JimS
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Keir Starmer and the BBC haven’t changed their minds and that is all that matters!

    Indeed when the BBC made the announcement of ‘the change’ the ‘balance’ was provided by a ‘Conservative’ rebel that agreed with ‘the change’. Strangely any announcement by the government, no matter how trivial, the BBC can always find at least two voices to oppose it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Then again most of the drivel that T May and P Hammond come out with I disagree with too. Albeit from completely the opposite direction to that of the lefty, green crap, pro EU, PC, ever bigger government BBC.

  38. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Another set of ridiculous utterings from the Labour Party mendaciously offering everything whether impossible or otherwise–They have taken ‘having your cake and eating it’ to a whole new level–Let’s hope they just get laughed out of Court

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      They would indeed be “laughed out of court”, but for the uselessness of the current Tory “leadership”.

  39. duncan
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The UK MUST take back total control of our legislature, our laws, our entire fiscal policy and our borders

    Nothing else is acceptable

    Leave won the referendum and it is incumbent upon this government to see that we leave the EU in its entirety

    Labour will do what they do ie betray their core vote. it is what they’ve been doing since the early 1970’s. They are vehemently pro-EU and wedded to the Remain cause.

    We don’t want to be part of the Customs Unions. We want the freedom to sign FTA’s with whom we choose

    If May tries to con the public it is important that Eurosceptic MPs trigger a leadership election

    We MUST leave the EU

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      And then, once you take back control, where are the resources to make the UK more prosperous? Optimism? A fighting spirit?

      • Timaction
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        The £11 billion net EU contribution for a start.
        Then there is the ££Billions more in savings on unnecessary regulation to our 94% of our businesses that do not export to the EU.
        Then there is the 400,000 jobs to fish, process, sale and export saving and gaining us ££billions.
        Then there is the ££billions in savings for food costs as we can import from the cheaper developing Countries helping their economies and people, trade NOT aid.
        Then there is the efficiency saving costs of not having to pay for the 100,000 plus EU citizens arriving here each year and their health, housing education, in and out of work benefits as well (£3000 per head) as well as the quality of life congestion and environment issues.
        We can regain our seat and drive the WTO and other trade arena’s to our own advantage and include services in those negotiations. We can also look after……….our own Nation once more and not give the EU advantage over us by being voted down as we have always been at any QMV! That’s just for starters and be assured I could go on and on!

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        RH – yes, those will do for a start. And you’d denigrate those attributes, would you? That says a lot about you and yours. Strange to say – we’re proud of them, always have been, always will be. And what have YOU got to be proud of?

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink


          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            Must be a Northern European then.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      “If May tries to con the public it is important that Eurosceptic MPs trigger a leadership election.”

      She is alas already doing this and show little sign of changing her position. But with the mainly wet, lefty, big government, pro EU, fake Conservative MPs what would they replace her by?

      Hopefully the members would actually get a say this time. We would not have had May had they had one last time. Alas thanks to lets have 20% vat of private school fees M Gove and Leadsom dropping out they got no say.

  40. John Finn
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    They haven’t necessarily changed their minds, John. They are just using the situation to gain political advantage as they have from the outset. They would like to force a general election. These are the reasons I favoured a cross party approach in negotiations. I don’t think we’d have seen the same level of opposition if a few token Labour members were included in discussions with the EU.

    Brexit is now on a knife edge and I feel it will ultimately fall to the electorate again to make the decision. Unfortunately this may be in a general election which means it won’t just be about the number of those who want to leave the EU …..

    It’ll be about the number who want to leave the EU MORE than they want a Labour government.

    Judging by the outcome of the last election that doesn’t bode well for Brexit,

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Well if you go into an election with a manifesto saying “vote for us and we will kick you all in the teeth” and led by a daft socialist robot saying nothing but “Strong and Stable Government” like a stuck record – then even against the dire Corbyn you struggle.

      • Chris
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        I fully agree with your disgust with the current PM, LL< and the disastrous course she has taken. I also have huge contempt for those Tory Brexiter MPs who have not upheld the referendum result, and also for those who voted for May and who have continued to support and encourage her in her betrayal of the electorate. I feel that these politicians are rotten to the core.

        I had never expected to feel such contempt and disgust for Conservaative MPs as I did with Blair et al, but that point has now been reached. Mr Redwood, your Party will not get my vote again. The Party simply does not deserve the trust of the electorate. It has abused that trust in a disgraceful manner.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      The Tory manifesto that set out to punish the very people that vote Tory, and a PM that acts like an automaton, coupled with an GE that was not needed, is what cost the Tories they majority.

      One hopes that the PM and her advisors may have learnt a few lessons.

  41. Freeborn John
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Phillip Hammond is responsible for this. It was at his instigation that “a”UK-EU customs union was one of the two options proposed in the UK’s August 2017 document on the Northern Irish border (a streamlined customs arrangement being the other more practical option). Hammond has then spent most of the last year trying to frustrate Brexit with customs union proposals. If the government did not include ministers trying to frustrate Brexit then the opposition would not be making the same proposals in order to hasten the government’s downfall. Theresa May only has herself to blame by keeping Hammond in the cabinet and calling an unnecessary election that gambled with Brexit.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      He is also responsible for the poor UK growth – this with his absurdly high IHT, CGT, stamp duty, pension pot/landlord/tenant/self employed muggings and the likes.

      Why is he still there?

  42. ian wragg
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I have just read an interesting article about the UK staying in the CU but leaving the SM.
    For example, the EU could sign an FTA with Canada which would allow Canadian goods tariff free into the UK but not tariff free goods into Canada as we are not part of the single market.
    A very similar situation was envisaged by Turkey when they threatened to leave the CU.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      More worryingly the other way round.
      There’s no way the EU would allow us a veto over their trade deals, so we would need to accept EU trade deals without a say. The EU could and would sign duty free trade deals from third countries for products at which the UK excelled, but wouldn’t bother with deals which helped the UK at all.
      This hasn’t been thought through by Labour.

  43. Iain Gill
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Labour have abandoned their white working and under class voters in the North, especially those in the large social housing estates. The Labour vote outside London overwhelmingly wants significant immigration reduction, and overwhelmingly voted for Brexit and a quick and full Brexit at that.

    If the Conservatives had any sense they would start offering hope to these people. Including ways to escape the trap of social housing subsidy, and free them up to move to optimise their own job prospects, to where schools are better, and so on, and break up the state rationed and imposed environment they are forced to suffer. Make equality rules work for the white working class too, if they are discriminated on for accent etc then legislate to outlaw that as much as race and gender discrimination.

    But most of all pointing out the reality of the failure around the world of the Stalinist policies being proposed by Labour, and offering and proper Brexit and proper action not just words on immigration, there is landslide election win there if only the Conservatives had the vision.

  44. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    So under Labour

    We stay in a customs union where we have less say than now about our external trade deals
    By staying in a (the) customs union we accept the high tariffs on imports into the UK from Commonwealth countries in order to support French and Irish farmers etc. We are therefore pretty well obliged to purchase all goods from the EU which we do now. However we are unable to guarantee the free movement of our goods into EU countries, as we aren’t in the single market and working by those rules. Our goods can be held up in Calais on their way to customers, but in practice we can’t hold up goods coming in here, as we have no realistic other supply options without paying high tariffs.

    Labour – the EU’s home-grown jailer for the UK?

  45. Nig l
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    My question is. Do you have the votes to knock this back. Newspapers maths suggest not?

  46. Dennis Zoff
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Well, it seems the Labour Party Leader cannot be trusted either….

    Labour heartland snapshot:

    Doncaster 69% voted to leave
    Barnsley 68% voted to leave
    Rotherham 67% voted to leave
    Sheffield 51% voted to leave
    Sunderland 61.3% voted to leave
    North Tyneside 53.37% voted to leave
    Gateshead 56.8% voted to leave
    South Tyneside 62% voted to leave
    Durham 57.5% voted to leave
    Northumberland 54% voted to leave

    So Labour is willing to lose these heartland constituencies?

    Shameful betrayal of voters!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Well done those gritty, salt of the earth, sensible people from Yorkshire, Northumberland, Durham, Lincolnshire and the rest.

    • Andy
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Plenty of Conservative seats voted Remain. Are they being betrayed too?

      Or can only 51.9% of those who voted be betrayed?

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Plenty of old people voted Remain too but that doesn’t suit your narrative so you ignore it, Andy.

  47. Rien Huizer
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    This new position lacks clarity and (possibly, lack of clarity does not help evaluation) may well be ad difficult to achieve as the government’s unclear position. The only clarity available is that if no arrangements to the contrary are made before the end of March 2019, the UK will cease to be an EU member with no other form of trade support from other countries and face a variety of trade barriers with the world’s largest market and its nearest neighbor.

    Those labour voters who voted for exit did not vote for factory closings, I am sure. This Labour is about as irrational as the ERG.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Are you writing this in the bunker by Junker in Brussels?

  48. DaveM
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m so bored with this conversation. We should be making final preparations before 24th June now, not flailing about, bickering, arguing, and – as always – playing pathetic, childish, party politics.

    Over half the population of this country voted tactically for nearly 20 years to even have the opportunity of a referendum, and you bunch of fools in Westminster think you know better, or choose your career or party over their principles.

    I’m utterly sick to the back teeth of the lot of you. There may well be some good people in that den of incompetence known as Parliament, but if they do nothing they will lose. Simple.

    And as for speaking for England…..ha. What a joke.

    I hope you all stew in it. You’re all as bad as each other.

    • Andy
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      No – not half the population. 28% of the population.

      17.4m voted Leave. 65m live here.

      Leave would not have won if swathes of Remain voting groups had not been denied a vote.

      There is no Leave majority in the country as a whole –
      and never has been.

      There are just increasingly deranged Brexiteers claiming so.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        Ridiculous use of statistics.
        Would you have tourists and children voting?
        Only 36% of you youngsters bothered to vote
        Not my fault.

        It was the biggest vote in the history of the UK

      • DaveM
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        28% is still a majority compared to the 26% who voted Remain.

      • graham1946
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink


        Never let the truth get in the way of a Remainers argument. There are 47 million voters, not 65 million and over half of those that bothered – 52 percent voted for Brexit over half if you know your numbers. This is the largest vote for anything in the history of this country. Those who could not be bothered, mostly according to you, young Remainers, do not have the right to complain if they could not get off their backsides and join in.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        You should have sorted out the pass mark you wanted before the referendum.

        Doubtless a similar margin for Remain would have been the end of it. Full steam ahead integration. No second referendum.

  49. Ron Olden
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    This is not membership of the existing Customs Union.

    It is a promise to attempt to negotiate a new Customs Union to replace the existing one after we’ve left the EU.

    How exactly does Corbyn propose to persuade the EU to agree to that, without it interfering with our rights to enter into Free Trade agreements with the rest of the world and forcing us carry on taxing non EU food imports?

    I strongly recommend that Mr Redwood and his colleagues focus their public argument against this, on the fact that this arrangement requires tariffs to continue against all non EU imports. in order to subsidise inefficient French and German farmers at the expense of UK families and food processing businesses.

  50. Julian
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    At the last election labour received the “remain backlash” vote and this policy change may shore that up.
    However, I suspect that quite a few who voted labour but previously voted leave and then got cold feet will think again as the project fear campaign has proved so much hot air. In other words labour peaked last time out.

  51. Tasman
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    So the Labour party now has a clear and agreed policy on how to manage Brexit. The Conservtiave party, split between Mogg/ Redwood/ Gove on the one hand and Soubry/ Clarke/ Grieve on the other, has no agreed policy, and it never will. My message to Tory MPs is that it is time to go back to your constituencies and prepare for Opposition

    • Edward2
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      What will Labour do when the EU say there is no possibility of such a deal?

      • Fishwife
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        They do not plan to get to the negotiating table. Merely to set up a series of words, compare them with those of the negotiation result, proclaiming they could have done better… for the many not the few making sure food is not clear of dangerous micro-organisms

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        The EU may not openly say that, yet. There could even be convenient hints that the EU would look favourably on the idea of a country which is not a member state of the EU nonetheless having a veto on the EU’s future trade deals …

  52. agricola
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    An attempt to seduce a few so called conservatives and thereby unseat the current government. Labour supporters who voted leave will not be very impressed.

  53. Paul
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I think Labour will be severely damaged by this. Many of those working class Brexit voters who backed Labour at the last election are now likely to go back to UKIP – especially under the leadership of new Interim leader Mr Batten who speaks in clear, straightforward language that resonates.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      They’ll gain Millennials.

      • graham1946
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Can the millennials actually use a pencil? Seems they’ve lost the skill. Can they leave their phones long enough to vote?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I think Labour certainly could be severely damaged by this, if the government could be bothered to point out the multiple flaws in the proposal. But not if the government just says that it intends to ignore what Labour says without ripping it to shreds.

  54. graham1946
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Alice in Wonderland comes to the La La land of Westminster.

    We have a Remainer PM conducting efforts to get us out and a long term Brexiteer getting his party to make us stay in!

    The people’s opinion does not matter and Corbyn, so called man of principle does the dirty for a faint sniff of power. If either May or Corbyn had any shred honour at all they would both resign, but ‘honourable’ members in Parliament seem as rare as hens teeth.

  55. Mick
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    After watching the story teller Corbyn give his speech on Brexit and his deluded followers after it,I’m even more convinced that the Labour Party will become the third party in Westminster come the next GE, they are totally against the vote by the people on the referendum no matter how they try to dress it up in saying they agree with the outcome of the 17.4 million, a lot of labour voters voted for the jackanory party because they believe they were for leaving the dreaded Eu , well now we know and now know this Corbyn come the next GE you have effectively made a lot of your mps up north unelectable, I won’t vote for a party that puts themselves first and not the people ,

  56. matthu
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Appanently The Australian High Commissioner to the UK put it this way :

    “It’s up to you… but I’ll tell you this: Australia would never contract out its trade policy or the regulations for the management of its internal economy to a group of other countries, we wouldn’t do it.”

    It is all so b****y obvious when you put it into Oz-speak. Makes you wonder.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      They’re a lazy lot in Wastemonster !

  57. Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Don’t fret John! Corbyn will change his mind again next week…

  58. nigel seymour
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    J, Labour are now cranking up their political rhetoric as Corbyn displayed today. I have long been of the opinion that labour have little interest in the brexit outcome and simply will use it to bring about an ‘early’ election and so gain power. This may well depend on how TM performs on Friday and how this plays out with BOTH leave and remain voters. When I was in business, BT went through a period of CHANGE and , I have to say, some of which was pretty severe. It was needed 100% to sort the wheat from the chaff…
    At the end of the day, change occurs throughout the world day by day by day. The UK voted for change in the referendum but many do not agree. They would prefer to stay with the status quo and in doing so preferring a corrupt and unaccountable regime.

  59. CharlesV
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Whatever side of the divide you are on this plan seems to be unlikely to be something that is ultimately going to fly.

    But that is not the point. The Labour front bench has got it’s act together and come up with something that: makes it look more united that the Conservatives, appeals to a core part of the Conservatives’ constituency (business) and is (however misguided, unrealistic and lightweight) an attempt to set out a partial plan for how the UK can trade effectively with the EU after Brexit.

    In contrast, government minister after government minister comes up with soundbites and next to no detail. Your party looks more divided over Europe that it ever has. That Mr Rees-Mogg is being put forward as a credible candidate for leader of your party illustrates just how self absorbed and inward looking your party has now become.

    Last week, rather than show some maturity and leadership, parts of your party felt if appropriate to run a personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn. Utterly pathetic.

    And why is your party and our government in this state? Because of your wing of the party Mr Redwood. You are unwilling to allow the government to come up with any policy that might have an appeal across the divide.

    We are heading for a Labour Government and then quite possibly a second referendum and a reversal of Brexit. It won’t have been Mrs May, Mr Corbyn or Mr Hammond who leads us there but YOU.

    You have succeeded in allowing the Labour party, large chunks of the business community and the trades unions in support of a policy. Well done, that is some achievement.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      JR doesn’t like me pointing out that the department charged with managing our withdrawal from the EU can’t be bothered to defend its core purpose.

      What is the point of even having a twitter account if you don’t use it to fight back against your critics, instead you allow them to take it over as another platform for attacking you? Look at this thread:

      Absolutely bloody hopeless. JR, absolutely bloody hopeless.

  60. Ian Pennell
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    This now means that Labour, with the help of about ten Conservative Remainers will vote against Theresa May and foist “Customs Union” upon Britain. Then we would have BINO – Brexit In Name Only!

    Right, Mr Redwood please get the Conservatives to get rid of Theresa May, get a Hard Brexiteer who is articulate to run the Conservative Party and commit to WTO Terms, no more money for the European Union, slash Foreign Aid and the vast sums given to Scotland, borrow a bit more and put tariffs on some Imports- so as to fund big tax cuts and increased spending on vital Public Services.

    Then go to the country on this Mandate, crush Labour and change the balance in Parliament in the process to favour England-loving Brexiteers in the process. It’s clear to me (and a number of the other folk who contribute to your posts in reply) that this is now the only way we will get Brexit that actually means Brexit!!

    I can’t stand the sight of that Kier Starmer and Chukka Umanna gloating about their not being a Majority for a proper Brexit, and about how they can get Remainer Conservative MPs to inflict a fatal defeat on the Government! Please get your colleagues to do something big to wipe their nasty smirks away.

    Ian Pennell

    • Chris
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree, IP.

  61. Dennis
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I think you deleted my post on ‘The 1939 Referendum’. Did you not understand it? It was mirroring the Brexit ref. and a comment on it. Too subtle?

    Reply. No. It could have been misinterpreted and was long

    • Dennis
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Too long! About 10 lines! Either you have guessed or are giving fake news!

  62. Original Richard
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    At the moment, as a member of the EU, the UK has a veto over any trade deal the EU negotiates with a third country.

    Mr. Corbyn’s plan is for the UK to be a member of the EU’s Customs Union but with only “a meaningful say” in the terms of the trade deal.

    “A meaningful say” was not defined by Mr. Corbyn but such a deal with the EU would leave the UK completely exposed and in a worse position than exists at the moment, which perhaps explains why it has been proposed.

    • Andy
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      A common theme of Brexit is that it will leave us in a worse position than we are now. This applies to everything.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        The predictions by remain supporters say that.
        However actual figures show all previous doom predictions being false.

      • Original Richard
        Posted February 28, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        “A common theme of Brexit is that it will leave us in a worse position than we are now. This applies to everything.”

        Only if the UK’s EU supporters stop us making a clean break with the EU.

  63. Ian Dennis
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Labour’s Brexit policy is only of interest because there enough Tories willing to vote with them and to take away the governments majority.

    Any opprobrium should be firmly directed to them.

  64. Anonymous
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Labour are going for the Millennials.

    Don’t underestimate the new drive in the youth vote, nor the disatisfaction with May among Conservative voters. An increase in one and a drop off in the other could see a real closure of the gap.

    Many Brexit voters were Labourites, whether they will stick with Corbyn is another thing.

  65. Jason wells
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    We read that the EU is going to publish the December draft EU UK agreement for exiting the EU on Wednesday so hold onto your seats because from what I’m told it’t going to be dynamite and blow a hole in many of the myths, old spin and fake news that has grown up around the talks since

    With Mrs May about to make her own speech on Friday and Jeremy Corbyn speech today it’s going to result in serious questions about where we are headed. Either way for Mrs May it looks like the end of the road

  66. Iain Gill
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I see the Australian high commissioner has a better grip on reality than our own politicians, their immigration control is also rather better.

    • Oscar
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      I read recently that Australia has too many intelligent migrant people who were trained in their craft elsewhere. Their precise understandings are not necessarily wholly applicable to same employments in Australia and those employments are not after a few years crying out for those skills as an urgency.
      I remembered the above which I read on some Aussie business page last week perhaps because it fits into my own theories on the matter of IQ imperialism practised by advanced nations. When intelligent people are made to empty the bins they get bolshie. My ex-wife did anyway.

  67. Oh Oh Prigger
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Bloomberg stated this afternoon the rise of the pound against the dollar was entirely due to Corbyn’s speech on his new Customs Union policy. Well a few hours later it’s gone down again. I guess that’s due to Brexit

  68. gordon winton
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    The labour partys new official position on brexit has more ins and outs that the hocky cocky I wouldnt trust these clueless fools to run a bath never mind a government, time to get tough teresa you have everything to play for.

  69. mancunius
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    The Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer (previously Australia’s longest-serving Foreign Minister) said on The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4 last night during a discussion of the Corbyn announcement: ‘If the UK leaves the EU but remains in a customs union with the EU, we [Australia] will focus our energies on Brussels, not on London, because London is not a decision-maker any more. We would not be able to make trade agreements with the UK … and in any [third-party] trading agreements with the EU, the UK won’t be part of the decision-making process … It’s up to you. I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but I’ll tell you this: Australia would never contract out its trade policy or the regulations for the management of its internal economy to a group of other countries. We wouldn’t do it. But you make up your own minds!’

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      That should be slapped into every newspaper.

    • jack Snell
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      mancunius– get real, don’t you know politicking when you see it? the Oz high commissioner Downer has been wheeled out by the tory right wing think tanks Policy Exchange or other at this late stage to throw more fuel onto the fire..all in the hope of causing panic in the ranks of the tory doubters and suffering public. Australia would give it’s right arm to be able to belong to an economic trading bloc like the EU if only it wasn’t so far away?

      • mancunius
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        It’s news to me (possibly also to the BBC) that a Radio 4 discussion of parliamentary affairs is a ‘Tory think tank’.
        Mr Downer is one of the most experienced Australian diplomats and ex-foreign ministers. And what he said is no more than common sense. As he then further explained: ‘You don’t need a customs union for free trade – Australia and New Zealand have been engaged in a FTA for years, and all without a customs union.’
        As Downer said: ‘Australia would never contract out its trading arrangements to a group of other countries.’ We should pay some attention to that – as Australia has considerable experience in trade.

      • Oh Oh Prigger
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Both Starmer and Corbyn have stated in the last day or two quite openly and on TV the UK would not make its own trade deals. If you do not believe them then fair enough.

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

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