Governing ourselves

The one senior job I have held which I grew to dislike was the job of being the UK’s Single Market Minister. I was faced with an avalanche of new draft laws which the EU wished to put through in the name of the single market. It was difficult to see how most of these laws would help people buy and sell more with each other. It was a simple power grab for the EU to take control of more and more policy areas and laws. It was clear they would often keep out competition, limit innovation, favour the large incumbents and put up costs. They were united with the Customs Union approach, seeking to keep out non EU imports. I defined the job as damage limitation. Which draft laws could the UK persuade others to help block, to hold them up altogether? Which laws could be amended to limit the damage they did? Could smaller and more innovative businesses be exempted from them? We had our wins in all these categories.

The task was, however, made more complex by the fact that large parts of the UK civil service always wanted us to reach a deal. Quite often they would ensure my hands were tied by taking the issues to a Cabinet Committee which itself was primed to prefer deal to no deal and set minimum objectives for the UK to reach an agreement. It was usually easy to secure these objectives, because they asked for too little, or because it appeared someone would tip off the other key negotiators what my required bottom line was. They then usually offered it to me quite early on as they knew I would dig in until they offered the full requirement. Some realised I probably preferred no deal in most cases.

Some of the draft legislation was bizarre. They usually wanted to set out how certain goods or services were designed and offered, in ways which sometimes did not allow the UK method as their draft was based on some continental model. The UK then had to work hard to get amendments to allow us to carry on with successful business models we were using.

As we exit the EU we need to make sure Ministers provide good leadership to their officials, explaining in future we wish to turn our backs on this way of legislating. It is high time we had the self confidence to pass our own laws that can be good for both customers and businesses. They should not set out how everything is to be done, as that gets in the way of competition and innovation. Laws are needed to ensure honest dealing and safety, but are not needed to tell businesses how to make things or to define services.

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  1. Peter Wood
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    An interesting piece, the critical part being the problems experienced with your own civil servants. We have heard time and again that a large part of our civil service is pro EU, and in some cases working to the detriment of the stated political objective to fully depart the EU. Why is that and what is the government going to do about it?
    The recent complaint made public by Mr. Rees-Mogg, must, if true, result in sackings. You should not and must not have to question the integrity of your own civil servants.

    • Adam
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Ministers lead. Civil Servants exist to serve. Those who fail to enact Ministers’ instructions perform no useful service, & should be dismissed.

      • hefner
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        That’s assuming ministers know what they are talking about: how many in the present Cabinet (or past, for that matter) do you think are really on top of their brief? Specially these days when nobody, it seems, want any expert to interfere. Vox populi must prevail, or must it not?

        • Hope
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          So Davis, May and the Tory have agreed, and heralded, that the U.K. Will remain a vassal state without a voice for May’s extension.

          Tory govt capitulated on all principles of leaving in March 2019. The EU walked all over the political cowards in govt to defeat the electorate. Any of the Lancaster speech remain? Like the false Bloomberg speech before, total charade and lies. What is happening to the KitKat policy traitorous civil servants, any been sacked yet?

          May has decided that the UZk will be ruled by a foreign power without a voice and pay billions of our taxes while we are allowed to suffer from third world public services! She is a disgrace.

          Now May has made the ballot box is null and void what does May think should happen? I truly hope the Tory party never get in power again. Hopefully agent Cob will prevail and from his monstrous term a true alternative will rise.

        • Adam
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          If ministers are incompetent, they should not be appointed, or be fired as soon as their ineptitude is realised. The people will deal with those if the PM does not, so they do prevail as they must, albeit without immediate effect.

        • NickC
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          Hefner, From Wikiquote: On 6 June 2016, in an interview with Faisal Islam (who kept interrupting him), Michael Gove actually said: “I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying – from organisations with acronyms – saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong . . . .”

          Mr Gove did not say, as you imply, that experts are not needed, he said that people are fed up with experts getting it wrong. But the “no experts” meme has taken hold as yet another Remain fake news story.

        • Jagman84
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          Who decides that ministers know what they are talking about or not? The Civil Servants? Likewise for the ‘experts’. Tory governments will always struggle, with Blairite-infested Whitehall ministries, attempting to thwart them at every turn.

      • Hope
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Outlining the deal today, Mr Barnier said: ‘The UK will no longer participate in the European Union decision making processes, simply because after the 30 March 2019 it will no longer be a member state.
        Jr, is this not a vassal state? a total capitulation by Davis and May. Oust her now. The Tory govt has betrayed the electorate and its party. Billions in taxpayers’ money to the EU for nothing in return and not legally liable to pay, Accepting EU regulations and laws, ECJ oversight, quota on fishing stocks remaining, unconditional support for security and defence with vast sums of extra taxpayers’ money, freedom of movement exists beyond leaving the EU! This is worse than being a member! I trust all of you will be pointing out no deal being better than a bad deal. This is a bad deal by anyones standards.

        ‘The UK will preserve all the benefits and advantages of the single market, customs union and European policies, and will, therefore, be required to respect all the European rules just like member states.’

        Read more:
        Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

        • Peter
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink


          Yes it is a sellout. Brexit in Name Only.
          Fishing grounds handed over needlessly to the EU.
          Continuing payments.
          Needless transition period.
          No control over immigration …or much else.

          Much hoopla in the media to spin it as a triumph when we all know that it is not.

          Jacob Rees-Mogg and his chums do not appear to be doing anything to prevent it either.

        • eeyore
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          Looks like HMG regards fisheries as expendable, just as Ted Heath did when the world was young. If so, rarely will a government have miscalculated so grievously.

          Economically, of course fishing is trivial. We may never see a fisherman, never eat a fish. But any government which does not grasp that sovereignty over their seas runs deep with the English has not understood the people it rules.

          No doubt our host will address today’s developments in due course. I hope very much he will find some comfort to offer us about fishing.

        • Peter
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          “Surrender to Brussels Agreed: Britain Obeys all EU Laws, no Control of Fisheries, Open Borders”


          A more honest assessment.

        • Sir Joe Soap
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

          We should no longer participate in EU decision-making processes, because we are no longer a member of the EU. That also means that we can ignore them, whatever this agreement says. Woe betide the government that blithely follows rules over which we have no say. We will trade freely with the EU, but we shouldn’t take one iota of notice of any rules which the EU confect, but aren’t already in place and passed through into UK legislation as at 30 March 2019.

        • Stred
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          Davis must be a double agent.

        • Bob
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          The Remainers are very happy with the deal.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Well the civil service are in the business of regulation, thinking of new things government “must” do and bossing people around. In order keep their jobs, pensions and “honours” then the more of this there is the better for them. The EU is brilliant to this end, in extending the vast potential for this.

      This using any ruse they can, climate alarmism, health and safely, one size fits all, working time directive, gender and other “equality”, human “rights”, extending the “common” market, forcing people to use diesel (then not to use diesel) and endless other total absurditities.

      The only protection for the public (from this damaging over regulation & taxation) are politicians – alas are no real protection at all.

    • zorro
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, it is endemic. They will present an argument in a seemingly neutral way, but from their demeanour, wry smiles, pregnant pauses and aloof manner, it is clear that they have little interest in a positive presentation. The argument is nearly always framed in a damage limitation mode. Always ready to outline ‘risks’ and the threat side but rarely the opportunity side. As others have mentioned, the recent tapes are a perfect example of this attitude…..


    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Well, in the past we had to have measures like the Test Acts:

      In the present context the appropriate test would not relate to the conventional religious faith of the public servant but to whether he felt a quasi-religious loyalty to the cause of European political integration in general and/or to the EU in particular, to such a degree that it would prevent him conscientiously serving a nation which had voted to leave the EU and wanted the government to fulfill the promise at made at the time of the referendum:

      “The referendum on Thursday, 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union … ”

      “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide”

      It is clear that there are those in the civil service who cannot accept that decision, just as there are those in Parliament who cannot accept that decision.

    • Peter
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Yes, the KitKat story.

      Bureaucrats being of similar mind to other bureaucrats might not be too much of a surprise though.

      I am not sure there are many sanctions against civil servants in this country, apart from those that cover whistleblowers. In Trump’s America they will go so far as to sack a man a couple of days early in order to deny him a pension.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        Peter, no, in this country they sack military men to stop them getting their pensions only week before they are due.

  2. Mark B
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    UK’s Single Market Minister

    Why do we keep creating Ministers’ and departments ? Especially when we are outsourcing most of the work.

    . . . . favour the large incumbents . . . .

    that will be the Corporates that I have been banging on about for sometime. Nice to know that I have been on the right track 😉

    Winning the referendum was just the second battle in a long war to gain our independence. Anyone who thought that after 23rd June 2016 that the job was done was seriously wrong. It may indeed seem, as our kind host suggests and as has been reported recently, that there are a number of rogue elements within certain parts that feel treason is something done by either, Johnny-Foreigner or, the Great Unwashed.

    It is time to reign in not just the Civil Serpents but, other persons meeting and speaking too members of the EU. But I fear the government is happy for this to continue as it acts as a convenient back channel. 😉

    We are being sold out, make no mistake !

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      I will be amazed, given the appalling direction and lack of vision from May and Hammond, to both get out of the EU properly and avoid to the economic destruction Corbyn, Mc Donnall and the SNP.

      • Lifelogic.
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Mogg today in the Telegraph:-

        It is a great comfort for me that we, as a party and government, will go into the next election having been successfully taken out of the EU by Theresa May. Brexit will mean Brexit and Brexit shall be done.
        The alternative is defeat and vassalage.

        He seems very confident I am not sure why given how weak, robotic and dithering May is. I hope so too, but doubt it will happen other than in name only. We certainly cannot go into the next election under the electoral liability and socialist ditherer T May and the let’s tax everything to to death Philip Hammond. It would be a repeat of “let’s go over the cliff for three plus terms” John Major style.

        Corbyn’s Labour and the state sector unions would destroy the economy, just the real possibility is doing massive damage already.

        • rose
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          He applies pressure through Disraelian flattery. (It often sounds ironic as it must have done in D’s case.)

        • Peter
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          Maybe Mogg is now part of the Brexit in Name Only spin.

          He must have been tipped off about the deal to be announced and that deal is indefensible.

  3. duncan
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    I suspect most of those who voted leave are now exhausted by the idiotic games being played. When faced with this type of institutional arrogance there’s only one solution, radicalism. You stop playing by the established rules of the game and dispense with the conventions that this particular vested interest use to protect its political and institutional power base

    It is my belief that civil servants take direction, in general, from the PM of the day. Heywood is acting as he is only because he knows he can. He’s been given a free hand by the PM of the day to construct a UK-EU relationship following our ‘exit’ that is to all intents and purposes no different from what we have today

    Leave voters only hope is that at some point in the future when this PM leaves the stage that we have a PM who is deeply Eurosceptic and determined enough to take back control from the EU and dilute the unelected power of those who abuse their position

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      The minister in charge of the civil service is the Prime Minister.

      “Current role holder:

      The Rt Hon Theresa May MP”

    • graham1946
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Then it won’t be a Tory. They are basically EU fans and won’t appoint or vote for a Eurosceptic. They had their chance with Gove, Johnson and Leadsom and appointed May. They have been utterly in thrall to the EU since Ted Heath took us in on a lie.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      They will never ever do anything which they think will harm the Party. The Party comes before everything and this sentiment is held by our host. The overall national interest comes down the list.

      • juter
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        May has now destroyed their precious party for at least a generation.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Why do I find your comments not surprising.

    Simply because you are outlining what many of us out here in the real World have assumed for decades, its not the politicians who actually run our Country, but the Civil service.

    Until a Prime Minister and their Government start holding the civil service to account and give them a proper remit, with simple clear and proper instruction, we will continue to be run by Civil Servants.

    Yes Minister was supposed to be a fun take on real life, not a documentary.

    • David Murfin
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      If Yes Minister had been made as a documentary, no-one would have believed it.

    • sm
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Mrs T herself said that Yes Prime Minister was an instruction manual, not a comedy!

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Appealing to a PM to put things right presumes that PM to be on the side of right. We are entitled to question the loyalty to a democratic and sovereign nation of those in recent years. If you are a globalist of course such sentiments are beyond your understanding.

    • William Long
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I will always remember reading the book versions of ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ concurrently with Alistair Horne’s two volume biography of Harold Macmillan. At times it was very hard to be sure which was the one I had in front of me.

      • Andy
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        I remember an old friend telling me (he sat next to the Cabinet Secretary at a dinner) that when ‘Yes Minister’ first appeared the wives of six permanent secretaries rang the Cabinet Secretary to demand he did something about the portrayal of their husband !!

  5. Adam
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Governing ourselves is naturally sensible. We can make decisions & simply act accordingly.

    Being shackled to the EU is like a human brain being controlled by 27 others, who decide if & when his body is allowed to eat, work & sleep.

  6. Mick
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink
    All leavers deserve medals , as for mp benn his dad must be turning in is grave listening to the bull his son keeps coming out with, I watched most of the committee sittings that he chairs and the total bias he and the remoaners show is unbelievable, just get us out now no more pussyfooting around the Eu or remoaners any more they won’t stop this barrage of trying to keep us in the dreaded Eu, the 52% and growing want out with no strings, and as for the remoaner mps start making out your CV’s your going to need it come the next GE

  7. oldtimer
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    That is a good description of the controlling mindset that seeks to document every aspect of what we can or cannot be allowed to do and how we must go about it. We need boundary lines not the detailed manuals of how we must live our lives.

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      PS: I should have added that the precautionary principle, which is embedded in EU treaties, provides the perfect excuse to inhibit unwelcome competition. This is especially true if that competition comes from substitute products which threaten the big, established businesses which have the ear of the Commission.

      The most egregious axample is provided by Volkswagen which persuaded the EU to incentivise diesels and penalise petrol engined cars in the cause of reducing CO2 emissions. To top it all VW has been found guilty of manipulating ECUs to give false emission readings both in Europe and in the USA where it has been fined $billions and where one employee now finds himself in prison. Meanwhile millions of car owners are left with rapidly depreciating diesel engined cars as the political class now jumps on the latest PC band wagon. This piles new taxes on new diesels which do a better job of controlling NOx and leaving the older polluting models untouched.

      • NickC
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        Oldtimer, Yes, the pc and unscientific and impractical way the government carries on is a wonder to behold. The next catastrophe is the government pushing everyone into electric cars with the ban on new ICE cars from 2040.

        We would need to double our electrical energy production by about 2040 (who’s going to buy ICE cars after 2030?) for the same number of cars on the road. We’re simply not building power stations anything like fast enough. So it won’t happen. The government is a joke.

  8. agricola
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I am inclined to ask that if you found what was happening at the time you were in office and discovered it to be so against our interests why did you not resign and write pieces in the press or even a book to tell the UK citizens what sort of crime was being perpetrated in their name.

    Reply I did!

    • Jumeirah
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Agricola: you need to get up earlier in the morning.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Exactly so why are are passing a law to make all these nonsense regulations part of UK law?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      They are already part of our law, and I cannot understand why the government has chosen to pretend otherwise. Perhaps it was just automatic, force of habit, because pretence about the EEC/EC/EU/USE project is what our politicians have been doing for the past six decades. But they are part of our law by virtue of an Act which will be repealed, and the purpose of new Act will be to provide a new legal base. It should never have called the Great Repeal Act, that was always just silly when its purpose is to provide continuity. The repeals will come later, gradually over years and decades, provided the government does not commit us to keeping all present EU laws and accepting all new EU laws in perpetuity.

      • APL
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Denis Cooper: “I cannot understand why the government has chosen to pretend otherwise”

        So it’s either malicious, or our politicians don’t know what they are doing take your pick.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Fine for most existing EU rules which are already part of UK legislation.

        Not so for fishing quotas.
        We voted to provide fishermen with new quotas based on the extent of our tidal waters, and to the extent that after 29 March 2019 we are no longer bound by EU rules, then the government had better get its act together to propose new rules for fisherfolk, who have no legal basis to do other than defend their territorial waters and fish stock post March 29. Or are you saying that the EU will police our territorial waters to protect the supposed “rights” which they’ve given to their fishermen in our waters?

        Brexit is Brexit.
        Independence is independence.

  10. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Surely, JR – One of the big things the Tories need to tackle is the fact that civil servants are mostly socialist by nature – It is overdue that these civil servants, that can wreck so many things by misguided actions, were properly educated on real values – they should be given re-education on these things from Tory ministers… not sent on expensive external courses that allegedly train our civil servants to ignore what ministers want…

    • hefner
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Chinese-type reeducation camps in the hills of Wales or Scotland?

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Oh goodness, NO – No jollies for these people – It gets done inhouse, in conference rooms …

  11. Richard1
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I think it would be a good idea to do a post at some point on exactly what single market legislation we are subject to which we think is damaging and that we would wish to change. Detailed examples rather than broad areas such as the CFP and CAP would be a good idea. The point is, there is constant challenge from Continuity Remain, both now as in the referendum, that Leave struggle to think of actual practical examples of where single market rules are bad. Ken Clarke, distinguished and excellent chancellor of the Exchequor, makes the highly questionable assertion that you can’t have free, smooth, trade between two markets unless they have “the same” regulation. This cannot be true as there are many free trade arrangements which rely on mutual recognition not on harmonisation, but specific examples are needed to win this one.

    • getahead
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Happy to have access to the single market if it’s free. Paying for it is too expensive.

  12. jerry
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    “It is high time we had the self confidence to pass our own laws that can be good for both customers and businesses. They should not set out how everything is to be done, as that gets in the way of competition and innovation.”

    So businesses will carry on importing cheapo goods, knowing the value of everything, whilst customers simply going along for the ride because they know the worth of nothing… The USA has woken up to the mistakes of the last 30 plus years, when will the UK, will it take a Corbyn lead govt?! Nor does innovation stop because because the govt. policies, quite the opposite sometimes.

    What we need post Brexit is clear labelling, with first-to-last countries of manufacture being clearly marked.

  13. Norman
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    As a professional working in the Civil Service, the sense of ‘damage limitation’ was often present in my own mind, and seemingly, very few others. There was something about the pan-European project that appealed to the utopian mindset of the ‘grown-ups’ (as we called them), which was very hard to define, and even harder to counter.
    I loved the spirit of the old laws, whose text began: “BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, …,” When compared to the multiple ‘Whereas’ clauses of EU Directives/Regulations, one felt the oppressive coldness of an alien rationalism that, to me, spelled ‘Babylon’. Shall we yet regain our freedom???

    • Mark B
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      Nice post, Norman. And thank you for sharing 🙂

  14. Man of Kent
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    And this is why the PM will sign up the whole of the country to follow EU rules and regulations all to get a transition deal which many of us do not want!

    The CBI will be delighted while the private sector and most of the country will have to conform to the same old stifling blanket of the EU .

    We will have wasted years going round in a circle.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:16 am | Permalink

      Leaving the EU was never about trade but some, ahem, just wanted to talk about how much they sell to us, blah, blah, blah ! Leaving the EU was about self government and self rule. It was about determining OUR future. The CBI and its corporate parasites, and they are parasites, have made bloody sure they got the BREXIT (soft REMAIN) they wanted.

      And the Tories came good for them – bastards !

  15. Andy
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Can you give us some examples of the bizarre rules?

    One thing that no Brexiteer has even done is been able to give a specific examples of things that are bad now, and explain how you will successfully make them better.

    So here’s your chance.

    • Prigger
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      “…give specific examples of things that are bad now” One bad thing is that membership of the EU has predatorially impregnated your mind with a foreign flag camouflaged as symbiotically and equally beneficial to you and all other prey.

      • Prigger
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Oh “explain how you will successfully make them better.” Jacob Rees-Mogg may as a matter of principle disagree fundamentally with setting you to rights. Also others certainly for want of a better word who , liberally, would say it is too late for you as you appear to have gone nearly full term.

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          Rees Moog seems very quiet today..

    • NickC
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Andy, Nice try! If you were even marginally sincere with that question you would already have looked it up on the internet yourself.

      There have been at least 30 years worth of examples from the counterproductive CAP to the insane CFP; from the theft of our fishing waters to the 44 years out of the last 45 where we have been mugged for our money; from Franco-German pre-arranged outcomes in the Council of Ministers to a single market based on centralisation rather than mutual recognition; from meddling in the Ukraine to deposing Greek and Italian leaders.

      The difficulty is finding anything good that the EU has done that could not be done as well or better by ourselves or by international institutions such as the WTO.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink


        You really need to look into the powers or actual lack of powers of the WTO.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      That’s not correct Andy
      There have been articles on here and many posts on here over the last months and years where examples have been given.

    • L Jones
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Well, Andy – that sounds a bit like the fact that no remainder has ever been able to tell us succinctly what enormous benefit we would have gained by remaining with the EU (bearing in mind that this expansionist regime is constantly mutating). And what good EU things that we will lose – you must believe there are thousands of them! Choose what you consider a believable one and share it with us.
      Here’s YOUR chance.

    • rose
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Just one example Andy: at present animals are exported live and driven all the way across the Continent in searing temperatures, to arrive at a cruel destination. In the future they will not be allowed to be exported live. Your daughter will surely prefer that.

      • rose
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        At present the Dutch are allowed to electro blast the seabed in the North Sea, thus creating a desert. Fishermen are required to throw dead fish back in the sea. Spanish boats are allowed to hoover up fish in the Irish Sea and the North Sea to an unenvironmental degree. In line with unfair quotas, British boats were reduced and the Spanish fleet increased, at our expense.

        If the civil servants don’t betray us – but it looks as if they will – all this should stop and we should once again be in charge of our own waters.

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          The Dutch are using a more modern and environmentally friendly way of fishing for bottom feeders. This conserves energy and harms non-target marine life far less than the conventional method does. However most other countries fleets are less up to date and a coalition of artisanal luddite fishermen and misinformed Greens have made this temporarily illegal. So you are incorrect about the Dutch here.

          • rose
            Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

            It may be illegal but the EU are allowing the Dutch to do it. As a special case.

    • libertarian
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink


      If you had ever run a business you would know. But then you dont seem to even have a job so its probably beyond you to understand

      How about the curvature of bananas and cucumbers ?

      Here is the actual directive as people say this rule is a myth ,

      The EU ruled that water does NOT help dehydration so therefore bottle labels had to change

      An EU directive says we can’t compost used tea bags

      I’ve listed 3 of the sillier ones but there are literally thousands of small pointless rules on packaging, labels, weights etc etc etc

      Things we could instantly make better

      the VAT on domestic energy and female sanitary products

      We could save £33 billion cost of EU directives and regulations compliance , baring in mind that just 5% of UK business trades with the EU

      • Andy
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        Nice stereotype. My wife and I do run a business. We employ 30 people and made a 7 figure profit last year. Technically we are among the 1% – fortunately we never lost our morals in the process.

        Brexit is an absolute disaster for our service company. It is not yet clear how many people we will have to lose – but it’ll probably be most of them.

        • juter
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          A remainer due to self-interests, how unusual

        • libertarian
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink


          I’m afraid I dont believe you. If you run a service business then you would know that currently there is no benefit what so ever in the EU single market for service businesses. If you as you claim run a million pound profit business you would already be aware of all the regulations that adversely affect business and deliver no benefit.

          Ha ha what a crock … You’re going to sack 30 people even though you made more than million profit last year…..And you claim you have morals..Really? You must be completely inept then, if you’re entire business depends on being in the EU then the only service you can be providing is consulting services to the actual EU so now we know…. you’re a paid stooge and a fraud.

          I’m a real businessman, happy to teach you the basics of how to trade internationally in a service business

    • Woody
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      What’s the point? The facts have been well detailed but the remaining remoaners don’t listen.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink


      But you blame that on old people.

      • Stred
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Making all houses have wheelchair access bathrooms and toilets so that the main rooms in new houses are small. Why not build some house to disabled standard in proportion to the number of disabled.

        Coming soon half power hoovers which take twice as long to hoover and use the same amount of electricity.

    • hans chr iversen
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink


      Do not worry Nick C cannot help himself with becoming both personal and slightly insulting, this is just the way he presents his argument, you are not supposed to take it personally, He has no other approach

  16. Alan
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    However ineffective Mr Redwood was as Single Market Minister I’ll bet his present day successor is having far less impact on EU legislation. Once we leave the EU totally we will have even less impact. That’s about 40% of our trade over which we will have very little influence compared with what we had when we were in the EU.

    We won’t have more influence on the way we do business when we leave the EU, we will have less. We are not taking back control, we are losing control.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink


      “We are losing control….”

      Do you really think we were in control of what the EU did at any time. ?

      We have been consistently out voted so many times over 45 years our attendance in the end seemed pointless.
      All they ever wanted was our market, our fish, and our money.

      We always seemed to play by the rules, whilst others who voted for them totally ignored them !

      Time at least to try and stand on our own, at least we then know who to blame !

      • Andy
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Vote Leave discovered 72 occasions on which we were outvoted – out of 2500 votes. 16 of Vote Leave’s claimed ‘outvoted’ incidents are not verifiable. So we have actually be outvoted on around 2% of occasions. Hardly consistently – but don’t let actual facts bother you.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Vote leave need to do more research.
          Being outvoted is a common occurrence.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      JR’s current successor will inevitably have less impact than he did because of the progressive abolition of national vetoes and the gradual dilution of our voting power as more countries have joined. So the present position is that we have very little influence over 100% of our trade.

      None of this is a problem for those who believe in the EU’s core purpose of creating a pan-European federation, they expect and will welcome our legal subjugation in that federal United States of Europe.

      And in my view they are entitled to their personal opinion on that, I will not call them traitors just because that is what they think, but they are not entitled to lie and deceive and cheat the people about it as supporters of the EEC/EC/EU/USE project have been doing from the very start and are still doing now.

    • NickC
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Alan, The reality is that in the EU we had very little influence. Once out we will regain control of our domestic economy, and free up our exports to the RoW from duplicate EU regulations. The vast majority of our trade (c72% UK GDP) is with ourselves. Second is our exports to RoW (c17% UK GDP). Exports to the EU come in at a poor third position. That’s a massive return of control.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink


        you just forgot about the service exports, but do not worry it does not seem to change your argument whatever facts you are presented with. now. Over to you and your usual personally insulting replies

    • Helen Smith
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Lol, whatever country you trade with the goods you export have to comply with their rules. This will be the case for our exports to the EU, the difference is, outside of the Single Market the 95% of our economy that does not trade with the EU will not have to comply.

      That is gaining control, big time.

    • mancunius
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Complete gobbledygook. Thanks to the recent changes in European Council QMV voting rules, we already have virtually no impact at all on proposing or blocking EU legislation.
      No sensible nation delegates its trading arrangements, fiscal and immigration policies to other countries. And no country needs to observe the internal rules of any other (or enter a protectionist customs union with them) in order to trade with them. Mutual Recognition Agreements are all that’s needed.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink


        Exactly and then we can trade with teh Entire World under WTO rules, just like the open trade policy of both China and the US trade agreements. Absolutely great solution

    • graham1946
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink


      Please stop trying to re-tread the bald idea that it is 40 percent of our trade – it is not -it is actually around 8 percent. Do keep up and try to be truthful.

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    JR: “It is high time we had the self confidence to pass our own laws that can be good for both customers and businesses.”
    Agreed, but the problem is that a majority of those in Parliament and the civil service have spent most of their adult lives taking instructions from the EU. They give the impression of being in awe to their masters in Brussels. In this they are supported by the main broadcast media who are anti-Brexit and pay total reverence to the EU and any statements from its officials whilst at the same time deriding those of the UK.

  18. Newmania
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    So we can look forward to a life that is free of pointless bureaucracy other than when we actually need it from now on eh .
    Excellent , and as I am sure we all recall that is exactly what the 1970s were like , before, obviously the plague of bureaucrats was sent by Johnny Foreigner. Thank god that British pen pushing small minded time serving creeps don`t exist.

    What else are we getting John, free love, a cure for baldness, cold fusion, world peace, the ability to set the sky thing to record?

    Can I have abs ?

    • graham1946
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      What are we getting? The chance to make our own laws and repeal them if they don’t suit rather than just accept what is handed down for rubber stamping by Brussels with no chance to change them if needed, especially if they advantage the UK.

    • NickC
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Newmania, Being free of the insane CFP would be a start.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      There has been more new laws introduced in the last 40 years than in the previous 400.
      A lot were introduced by the EU.

  19. ChrisS
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    After studying that wonderful course on Government written by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, few of us can have any doubt that the Civil Service is a huge blockage in trying to get anything done that involves changing course.

    Sir Humphries must still occupy the senior positions in almost every department and those beneath them are largely Applebys in training.

    That was obvious as soon as Cameron came into Government. I’m sure that fresh faced ministers did their best but in reality nothing changed. We ended up with HS2 and all the other white elephants. Even the Heathrow third runway is still on the agenda when it’s obvious that the place is so overcrowded that anywhere else, even Boris Island would be a better choice.

    They almost defeated us on Brexit before the referendum and they are still doing their best now. Can there be any doubt that the back channels between Brussels and Whitehall are still going flat out ?

    And as for the Foreign Office ! The only good thing about having Boris there is that he does his own thing anyway.

    The only minister that has a proven track record at getting things done his way is Michael Gove. Greatly under-rated and my choice for the next PM.

  20. acorn
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “As we exit the EU we need to make sure Ministers provide good leadership to their officials, explaining in future we wish to turn our backs on this way of legislating.”

    No chance with a UK, two centuries out of date parliamentary system! This week has been a classic demonstration of the UK’s problem. Look at the incumbents of four countries Secretaries of Defence or equivalent.

    USA: Jim Mattis; ex United States Marine Corps General.

    France: Florence Parly; Paris Institute of Political Studies; École nationale d’administration; Air France as deputy director general then director-general of SNCF Voyageurs.

    Germany: Ursula von der Leyen; University of Göttingen; University of Münster; London School of Economics; Hannover Medical School. Tipped to be the next Secretary General of NATO.

    UK: Gavin Williamson, a fireplace salesman from Stoke, now famous for telling Vladimir Putin to shut up and go away.

    The UK system is increasingly forcing voters to elect random amateurs to do professional jobs, which is why the country is in the mess it is, trying to get out of the EU. Just think of the mess they will make outside the EU.

  21. Martin
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Some time ago John Le Carré saw Whitehall as ‘the permanent government of England, on which her transient politicians spin and posture like so many table dancers’.
    [Adam Sisman, John Le Carré, The Biography. Bloomsbury 2016].

    • mancunius
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      You might think that: I couldn’t possibly comment. 😉

  22. Shieldsman
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    We need a Government that is firm and determined to leave the EU completely. Direct the Civil Service to carry out its bidding, not to make deals behinds its back.

    We are being backed into corner with the knowledge of our officials, by the EU negotiators.
    Acceding to regulatory convergence and alignment with EU acquis, and on the setting up of a solid dispute settlement and arbitration mechanism (ECJ)” . Is remaining under control of the EU without any say, it is not leaving the EU which I voted for.

    The Acquis Communautaire is the accumulated body of European Union (EU) law and obligations from 1958 to the present day. It comprises all the EU’s treaties and laws (directives, regulations, decisions), declarations and resolutions, international agreements and the judgments of the Court of Justice.

  23. frankD
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    There is a problem- a big problem..we have all of the red lines in place and are due to leave in March 2019..and yet our government wants a new deal with them, something along the lines we have at the moment but set out according to our own UK rules. Such an agreement could possibly take place but according to the EU side, not without UK being subject to, or at least taking notice of ECJ rules and laws in some we have to ask how are we taking back control? what is the real situation for us, what does government DD and Mrs May see that we don’t? why can we not go ahead by ourselves and just quit altogether or am I missing something?

    We hear from the EU that there can be no transition without agreement as to the future relationship and the future relationship cannot be agreed until the past divorce is settled satisfactorily- as I say a big problem- Ireland and the border- the movement of people- Money and now Gibraltar and the Spanish- an even bigger problem?- I don’t see how they are going to square all of this in such a short time we have left..

    • ian wragg
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Then if we don’t square these problems we leave with no deal and keep our money. I see Macron and Merkel are going to outline the future direction of the EU in June. An EU of 2 nations with 25 associates.
      What will the remainiacs say to that.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        I see Macron and Merkel . . . .

        It was always about France and Germany. We thought that being on the inside we could steer it in the direction we wanted. We were playing 20th Century politics with an 19th Century mindset. Akin to sending men out of trenches to march slowly, in formation, to machine gunfire.

        A Lion led buy donkeys.

    • mancunius
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Not at all: Britain has infinite amounts of time. It is the EU that has only until March 2019 to strike an agreement – it needs to be one we are prepared to accept.
      Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. No agreement, No Deal. They lose all our money and Germany loses its major European trading partner.
      Hans-Werner Sinn, the influential German economist, has recognized this reality. demanded at the weekend that Barnier be replaced or ordered to change his anglophobic, French national stance, otherwise Germany’s economy will suffer greatly.
      The transition agreement has already been negotiated, btw. It was published today.

      • StanleyW
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        mancunius..yes just like today..the PM has now agreed that EU nationals can wander in and out of the country, stay as long as they like.. just like before at least up until the end of the transition period..and then who knows maybe for a lot longer..another Government promise broken..we also learn there will be no change with the fishing limits or fishing quotas duri g this time either..our bargaining position is falling apart..bit by bit..whats that again you say about the agreement needs to be one we accept..well it’s that part I don’t understand

        • mancunius
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          “the agreement needs to be one we accept..well it’s that part I don’t understand”
          The entire transition agreement is not legally binding on either side until it is complete and ratified.
          Don’t worry if you still ‘don’t understand’ – we understand.
          We understand more than you imagine. 😉

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        Sinn does not enjoy a lot of respect in German academic circles and is considered a propagandist by most.

        • mancunius
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          As you well know, Sinn was voted the ‘most influential economist’ by the FAZ, is regarded as Germany’s ‘most famous economist’ by Handelsblatt, and the Ifo think-tank he headed for 17 years is and was Germany’s leading economic think-tank.

          Interesting that you claim to know all about the opinion of ‘German academic circles’ despite your curious insistence that despite your very German syntax you are not German and have nothing to do with Germany, and your refusal to disclose your nationality.

          I think we can all draw our own conclusions about who the ‘propagandists’ are.

  24. Epikouros
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    If government is an acceptable evil then we should at least allow it only to operate where it is closest to those who are being governed and with as many democratic checks and balances we can impose on it to keep it from abusing its power. In this regard the EU fails miserably. It is neither close or under any meaningful control of those who it is supposed to serve. Curbing domestic government national and local from using their powers to excess and at the whims of the incumbent administration and expanding at a rate that is not financially desirable or conducive to social stability and the protection of our civil liberties and human rights is next to impossible.

    So there is no prospect that a body like the EU will ever serve us to our advantage. In fact in the end it will ensure that fascist/communist state like we will serve it and with special privileges those who run it. We are having considerable difficulty containing our domestic government from achieving the same goal and even there we are failing except being closer to its constituents it is doing it more subtly and less swiftly. The EU has no such restraints it can and does do quite overtly and arrogantly what it likes as nobody has the power to stop it which leaves the only recourse open to us and that is to leave.

    • L Jones
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Epikouros. There IS no status quo as far as the EU is concerned. It is a coercive expansionist regime and it is constantly morphing and mutating, as you say at an alarming rate. This ”ever closer union” sounds like a menacing communist objective.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Government is necessary and not evil. Unless the lectorate allows it to be.

  25. Christine
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Until we get a new political party to vote for, which puts the people first, the country is lost. From what you are saying we are being manipulated by corporate entities and global groups who have the power to influence policies which are not in the national interest. People are sick of our current political establishment and we need a radical change.

    • Andy
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      People are sick. They are sick of how bad the NHS is. Of how bad our roads and railways are. Of a lack of affordable homes. All things which are the responsibility of Westminster. Politicians – of both sides – have failed repeatedly for years.

      I for one am quite happy with the workers’ rights, consumer rights, human rights, environmental protections and high product standards I get from the EU. All of which the Tory hard-right pensioners want to take away.

      Perhaps having messed up everything else they want to mess up this too.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        The Conservative government have repeatedly said they do not want to reduce workers rights nor the other things you list in your post.
        No other parties do either.
        It’s simply not something that will get more people to vote for you if you did.
        So you can calm down and relax Andy.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          And as well as that slur you still persist in the “hard right ” slur on what is the least right wing conservative government for decades.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        So messed up that young Europeans escape the failed eurozone to come here.

      • Old Pensioner
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        I’m one of your “hard right pensioners”. For years I confess I have had no hands on experience of the NHS. I’m healthy you see. I am sorry you have had so much contact and experience with it at such a very young age. I wish you well and I shall continue paying tax on my savings, pensions, goods that I buy, Council Tax , etc etc to ensure you get back to work at least someday and pay your whack.

      • graham1946
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps when we don’t send so much money to the EU we may be able to afford to put right the wrongs you mention. The 13 billion a year should cover it.

      • NickC
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        Andy, And all this whilst we are still in the EU! If we didn’t shovel so much money into the corrupt, dysfunctional EU, and its hangers-on in the UK we would have had more money for our roads, railways, NHS and homes.

        If we hadn’t imported 9.2 million extra people (2016 ONS figure) – probably double judging by the NINos – the capacity of the roads, railways, NHS, and our housing stock, would be more than adequate. This is the mess you Remain europhiles have made. Man up and take the blame.

        • hans chr iversen
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink


          keep dreaming and postulating it is becoming increasingly boring and increasing untrustworthy

          • Jagman84
            Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            Is it attack Nick C week? Lots of flak means that he is right on target! Tally ho!

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    JR, about 6% of businesses based in the UK are involved in exporting their products to the rest of the EU, and those exports amount to about 12% of our GDP.

    Yet the EU’s stated price for “frictionless trade” between the UK and the other member states, in both directions, is that every person and every business in the UK must comply with every EU regulation, save for a relatively small number where the UK has secured a special exemption under the EU treaties and laws.

    I have read elsewhere that this was not always the case, instead the original agreement was that the EEC regulations would only apply to our exports to the EEC and not to the rest of the UK economy, and that position only changed with the advent of the EU Single Market. However I haven’t yet found any confirmation of that questionable assertion, and I wonder if you know from your experience whether it is true.

    It is certainly a interesting proposition that by analogy with our peculiar relationship to the EU our freedom to trade with other countries around the world should depend upon us agreeing to obey all their respective national laws within the UK.

    So if we want to export anything to the US we must agree to run the whole of our country according to US law in its entirety, as adjudicated by the US Supreme Court, and if we want to export anything to China we must agree to run our country according to the body of Chinese law, as so on with every other one of the 160-odd countries around the world which are not EU/EEA members.

    It is hard to see how that could work. It is easy to see how we could agree that by our law all our exports to the US would comply with US requirements, and by our law all our exports to China would comply with Chinese requirements, and so on, but not if by our law 100% of our production must comply with paramount and possibly contradictory EU requirements even though 88% of it is not destined for export to the EU.

  27. David Burrows
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The Civil Service have become a problem. They are incompetent where they should be expert see for example the debacle on the Intercity West Coast franchise. Now they are being obstructive, I wonder to what extent their mindset has been warped by Common Purpose.

  28. English Pensioner
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    You have highlighted the reason why Civil Servants are generally pro-EU.
    Civil Servants love rules and Regulations, it is the reason that they exist. More rules mean that they can employ more staff to check compliance with the rules. More staff means promotion and more pay.
    Even if we ever manage to leave the EU, Ministers will have to fight tooth and nail to get any of the existing EU imposed regulations repealed. I imagine Health and Safety will be the main argument, one which is always difficult to ignore.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is the way of government. In business, the aim is to become more efficient, to do more with less, whereas government still runs on the principle that the more people report to you, the more important you are. The exact opposite. No wonder we struggle.

  29. ian wragg
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    So Hilary Benn and the Brexit oversight committee want an indefinite extension to article 50. This is probably the preferred option by May and the rest of the remain contingent.
    Surely she isn’t so stupid as not to realise that if we are still in the EU by the next election, the Tories will be wiped out.
    I just hope Farage puts his head above the parapet soon to make sure we aren’t being sold down the Swanee.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Ian, myself and my husband have just renewed our UKIP membership and hope that Farage does make a comeback. The Tories have stabbed the country in the back and ruined what could have been a great chance to make our way in the world once again. They have completely reneged on their referendum promise that Brexit would be honoured. We are going to be worse off than we were before because of their weakness and lack of backbone.

  30. hefner
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    JR, Minister for Corporate Affairs, 07/1989-04/1992. Although I don’t doubt today’s post, it is a bit surprising that it took 25 years for such things to be spelled out. Why were those “difficulties” not put in the public domain between 05/1992 and 04/1997?
    Just wondering.

    Reply They were! I told people at the time what was going on

    • hefner
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Who was listening? You have to accept that the situation has certainly changed in the last 4-5 years, but that, before that, you were a lone voice in the desert (maybe not the only one voice, but one of very few).
      So what’s the point of today’s post if it is not of the “I told you so” type (which to me is rather depressing as I would much prefer properly quantified perspectives for what will happen after Brexit).

  31. Peter D Gardner
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Dr Redwood, this is so ‘f’ing elementary and a blinding glimpse of the obvious I have trouble understanding why anyone at cabinet level would think otherwise. Is a lobotomy mandatory fo government ministers and how the hell did you recover your brain? Was it kept in a safe deposit box until you left?

  32. ian
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I am quite sure thing will carry on as they are, even if you get to leave the EU, same parties same MPs same civil servants, as for the money, they will find ways to pay the EU without you knowing, like overseas aid money they send now, you have no way of telling if EU spends that on overseas aid or on itself, that because the EU account is never signed off.
    Even at your own treasury full detail are not given to the public on who gets what.

  33. MPC
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    But we are about to enter a 2 year ‘transition’ with even less / no influence on EU laws at all, during which time the EU is certain to rush through new new laws which will be against our interests. A significant increase in unskilled migration also looks certain during that period, as EU migrants see their last chance (assuming we actually do leave) to relocate freely to the UK. What a prospect – to win the referendum battle and lose the war will be very depressing.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes exactly Davis says it doesn’t matter because the EU take about 20 months to implement new laws. That will certainly be speeded up, but he doesn’t see it.

  34. Freeborn John
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Depressing to see the incompetent UK negotiators caving in yet again to the EU on Ireland and fishing in this terrible status-quo transitional arrangement. Your party obviously wants to lose the next election. If Northern Ireland is in the EU cûstoms union or single market at the next elelection you are going down to the heaviest defeat in your history.

  35. hans chr iversen
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    this is great news for the UK business community.

    The UK and the EU have agreed on a transition deal which will enable UK business to have enough time for the planning for the new environment, once we leave the EU.

    Hopefully we will now also see an improvement in teh UK retail sector and high street, which is currently undergoing a nightmare scenario, loosing thousands of employees

    • Edward2
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Recent high street failures are to do with people shopping on the internet not Brexit

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm | Permalink


      Please tell us what the deal is after the transition period, because it is this businesses have to plan for. !

      Any Clue yet, no nothing yet decided because we have just taken away the deadline for a decision.?

  36. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    A few days ago I predicted that Keir Starmer would soon be saying that it was necessary to stay in a customs union with the EU but that would not be sufficient, we must also seek to stay in the EU Single Market.

    Today he’s edged towards that by saying, twice, that we need the customs union PLUS “a strong relationship with the Single Market”.

  37. Ron Stanbury
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “It is high time we had the self confidence to pass our own laws that can be good for both customers and businesses”

    Well, go ahead, pass those laws, see what happens. The laws we need are laws that open up trade for us. Not one of those laws can be passed by the Westminster parliament you are so fond of. Trade needs deals with other countries. We are about to throw away the biggest free trade deal in human history, the EU, and the hundreds of side deals it has with 3rd countries too. You Little Englanders are wrecking our childrens’ future

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      The EU is not a free trade deal, it is a proto-federation. It is arguable that it has been built up in much the same way as the German Empire, using trade as the mechanism to promote political unification. As I said to Alan earlier I accept that if people feel they like that idea they are entitled to their opinion, but they are not entitled to lie about it in the way that supporters of the EU constantly lie about its purpose.

    • NickC
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Ron Stanbury, You are wrong – there is no reason why the UK cannot make trade deals with other countries once we are independent. Furthermore, the EU costs us a lot of money, so trade within the EU is certainly not free. We already export about 50% more to the RoW than we do to the EU, so obviously the EU isn’t worth that much. Personally I prefer the solid fact of our independence over your unfounded claims about how generous the EU is.

    • Jagman84
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      I do not call shelling out £350million a week a ‘free’ trade deal. And that is only two- thirds of what we hand over, in return for a £100billion deficit with the EU. Unsurprisingly, we run a healthy surplus with the rest of the world. I can see which trade arrangement is putting our children’s future at risk, even if you refuse to, for political motives.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Your “Little Englanders” have made no effort to be part of the EU, and probably not interested in your children’s future. Brexit has been a two-way process. The UK is learning what exactly the costs and benefits are going to be (with a comfortable adjustment period) adn the EU has discovered that it is better to have the UK outside, but as a good neighbor. Unfortunately in the UK media this is protrayed as a sort of imperial EU holding on to something it wants to control. None of the sort. All the EU wants is that the UK exit does not lead to damage to established EU structures and that individual members are not paying for UK actions. The exit itself is seen as an act of dumb self-harm. Not as an sort of heroic act of patriotism. Or as an attempt to have and eat cake.

  38. Anthony
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Alan 8.56 says ” We are not taking back control. We are losing control.”

    Surely, that depends on whether voters re-elect the present political incumbents of Westmonster. It will be of no advantage to wrest control from the tyrannical oligarchs in Brussels – presuming we ever do – merely to leave control festering in the palsied hands of those who, for forty years, trashed our democracy and sold us down the river.
    Indeed, we may need a complete clearout before we ever get the Brexit we voted for.

  39. Prigger
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Not much meat on the bones of WE agreeing with Barnier. To what have WE agreed? Exactly?

  40. Kenneth
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    This is the essence of the difference between the continental/Soviet model of prescribing regulations versus our preference to provide regulations which are not prescriptive and allow innovation.

    Our system allows business – and life – to move with the times and remain competitive.

    The Soviet/eu model ends up with too-big-to-fail (ultimately state-owned) monsters that need protection from real world market.

    I prefer our model for the sake of our future prosperity and happiness

  41. HarveyG
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    DD as usual sounds very upbeat..and it seems a transition deal has been reached..therefore that means theres going to be a deal into the future which all adds up to a soft brexit..with very probably a new customs type trade deal into the future to allow for the free movement of goods which will also mean the continued freedom of movement of people..the removal of at least one red line..necessary with over one million of british retirees living all òver Europe..all this will then negate the need for a hard border in Ireland..but it also adds up to fisheries quotas remaining the same..we will continue to pay for access into the future but will have no real say at decision making and we will have to take note of ECJ laws rulings and much for taking back control..a kind of a Canada plus plus plus deal? Can’t help wondering if the poisoning in Salisbury has had anything to do with the way things have gone today? We live in the age of fake news afterall

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Well Harvey, the Scottish fishermen are already well and truly fed up after being told a load of porkies by Conservative MP’s about taking back control of our fishing grounds etc. I bet our fishing rights are given away in return for no hard border with Ireland.

      We are being well and truly shafted, just like we thought we would be. Brexit? What Brexit? I have just renewed my UKIP membership.

  42. Prigger
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I see the Remoaners in Parliament’s “Exiting The European Union Committee” tried it on before Barnier and Davies agreed on a Transition/Implementation.

    They wanted more than a two year period. Anything to undermine the UK’s negotiating position.
    Why MPs who by their behaviour prove they will not accept basic democracy are still allowed on any Committee is a wonder. But Mrs May’s poor efforts at the last General Election ensured those falling on such thorny ground would still get more than a right good propagation.

    • Ronnie Kerr
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Stop blaming “Remoaners”. Go look at what David Davis agreed to today. Subject to ALL EU rules until end of 2020, with NO say. And after that forced to follow ALL EU rules to keep the Irish border open. The American colonies had a better deal than that when they declared independence! Davis today has declared surrender, and it is obvious that Redwood’s tall tales about us having all the cards were so much scotch mist

    • Richard
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      The ‘Minority Report’ signed by all the Brexiteers is available from this article:

  43. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the colour coded draft withdrawal agreement as it presently stands:

    and especially the Irish protocol there are chunks of black and white EU proposals which Theresa May previously said would not be acceptable to any British Prime Minister, so I don’t think we should be too hasty in thinking we are close to overall agreement.

  44. duncan
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I have voted Conservative all my adult life and yet when I see this PM I get feelings that I have not had since Blair slithered his way into No.10

    She’s a liberal left Europhile who’s sold the UK down the river with this pathetic, cowardly UK_EU deal

    What have we done to deserve this leader? Is it bad enough that we have to be exposed to the immorality and abhorrence of Marxist labour that we then have to absorb the lefty, vacuous, virtue signalling of this monstrosity of a PM?

    What is it with my party?

  45. Iain Moore
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Governing ourselves seems to slip further and further beyond our reach as the Government concedes and capitulates to the EU. Immigration, one of the key referendum issues, seem to have been parked in the never never, and fisheries, an industry which was sacrificed to get in the EEC, seems to be something the British establishment are going to screw over again on Brexit. They seem to have no shame.

  46. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I have received an email from a contact in Dublin with a eurosceptic analysis of the current state of play, of which I will reproduce just this short passage:

    “At some point, the Member States on the Continent are bound to call time on the Ireland issue, whose significance has been grossly exaggerated. Their embassies in Dublin will be telling them that North/South trade within Ireland is tiny by comparison with Republic/British trade and minute in comparison with EU trade as a whole.

    Their Dublin embassies will also be telling them that the UK’s proposal to treat most Irish cross-border North-South trade, which is small and local, as something essentially to be finessed by trusted-trader and associated arrangements, makes every sense.

    Their embassies will also be telling them that the British and Irish Governments should do a deal on cross-border trade so that it is taken off the table as a problem. Such a deal could be done.

    Their embassies will be telling them that the Northern Ireland is, increasingly obviously, being used in an attempt to reverse Brexit and that the Continental Member States should not stand for that any longer.

    All the weeping and gnashing of teeth by the Irish Establishment about how incompetent the British supposedly are in the negotiations is just another way of saying, as Peter Sutherland said the day after the UK referendum, that Brexit must be overturned.”

    To quantify, goods exports from Northern Ireland to the Republic amount to about £2.4 billion a year, which is about 0.1% of UK GDP and a similar kind of fraction of the total trade across the external borders of the EU.

  47. Richard
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    The Conservative Party should not underestimate the huge amount of sympathy there is for what remains of our fishing industry. Many seats will likely be lost in Cornwall, NE Scotland & elsewhere if our fishermen are needlessly betrayed yet again.
    There is a good article today on BrexitCentral that covers the detail very well, particularly the unnecessary legal risks that the UK would expose itself to:
    Interesting that Europhile Senior Civil Servants seem to have had a hand here too: “Publicly, DEFRA has maintained up to this point that the CFP being part of a Brexit transition is a matter for negotiation. However, privately, a senior civil servant conceded to representatives of the fishing industry last month that it would be included in the transition, telling them: “everything was in” and “if not, we are putting ourselves in”.

  48. Juiliet
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Bizarre capitulation is food for thought. Many will not forgive Remainers May and civil service, that’s all. Elections will be interesting I think people have had enough of betrayal

  49. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    There is a real problem here. EU referendum vote was June 2016.

    The A50 period, assumed for leaving the EU, is 2 years.

    Yet 4 years later, our fishermen are unable to fish as we decree in our own waters, and our immigration control remains as it has been these past years.

    To coin Mrs May, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

  50. Captain Peacock
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    We have now seen the ‘breakthrough’ which is not just surrender to the EU its unconditional surrender. There does not seem to be any point in voting for your party John the, Tory party have betrayed the British people.

  51. rick hamilton
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    You only have to look at weights and measures to see that the British are pragmatists.

    Germans, basically rule-following fanatics, would never accept filling up your tank in litres and driving along in miles per hour. Or buying potatoes in kilograms and weighing yourself in stones. They would say the Englanders just love a mess. So would the supposedly logical French, after all they invented the metric system.

    We would say we are comfortable with ambiguity. In fact our entire constitutional set-up is a mess if you look at it objectively, because it was developed over centuries, but it works for us. We can, and do change it (eventually) if it doesn’t work. Leaving the EU is an example – it doesn’t work for us.

    We just don’t think like continentals. We are – or were – bottom up, they are top down.

  52. Cutfroat Piewait
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    The French press says President Macron has broken with historic protocols and not congratulated Putin on his election victory. Despite concerns about claims of rigging, few dispute that Putin was the most popular candidate. It should be acknowledged Russia and China are now the most stable countries, politically at least, in the world. So, of course we opposed Russia and her cheapo gas and China with her cheapo solar panels. Canada makes a helluva lot of wheat, I guess she is on the list of banning of her products. It’s the British Way, if you can’t beat ’em, cut your throat.

  53. Stred
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    BBC Business News had Paul Johnson on to advise on the costs of Brexit. He told us that businesses will find trading with Europe much more expensive because of non tariff barriers. For instance, car manufacturers will find that suppliers of parts will be expensive to send between manufacturers and cars may have to be made in one place.
    Apart from sending a piece of paper with a load of psrts, what expense will be incurred.

  • About John Redwood

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

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