My contribution to the debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, 10 January 2019

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): This Parliament is on trial. The public voted very clearly in the people’s vote of 2016. They were told by Parliament and the Government, by the remain and leave campaigns, that they—the people—were making the decision. They were promised that this Parliament would get on with the task, and they now say to this Parliament, “Do just that. Get on with it.”

The public recall that this Parliament is dominated by Members of Parliament serving in the Labour and the Conservative interests. In the 2017 election, every one of us was elected on a manifesto that made it clear that our parties supported implementing the verdict of the British people. The Conservative manifesto went further and made it very clear that we were going to leave the single market and the customs union, as had been pointed out by both remain and leave campaigns in the referendum. The Labour party manifesto set out an interesting and imaginative trade policy for an independent Britain that is clearly incompatible with staying in the customs union. So, Labour too, along with the Conservatives, said to the public in 2017 that we would be leaving the customs union as well as the European Union when the decision was implemented.

There are many leave voters now who are extremely angry that some Members in this House think they were stupid, think they got their decision wrong, and think they should have to do it again. Many people in the country who voted remain, as well as many who voted leave, think it is high time that this Parliament moved on from every day re-enacting the referendum debate as if it had not happened and thinking that we can go back over the referendum debate and decision because it did not like the answer. All those who stood on a manifesto to leave the European Union should remember that manifesto. Those who deeply regret the decision and did not stand on such a manifesto should still understand that democracy works by the majority making decisions. When a majority has made a decision in a referendum where they were told that they would get what they voted for, it ill behoves anyone in this Parliament to know better than the British public and to presume that this Parliament can take on the British public and stand against them, because we are here to serve that public. We gave them the choice and they made that choice.

I want us to be much more interested in the opportunities that Brexit provides and to have proper debates about all the things the Government should be doing for when we leave, as I trust we will on 30 March 2019. I see nothing in the withdrawal agreement that I like. It is not leaving; it is sentencing us to another 21 to 45 months of these awful, endless debates and repetitions of the referendum arguments as we try to get something from the European Union by way of an agreement over our future partnership, having thrown away most of our best negotiating cards by putting them into the withdrawal agreement in the form that the European Union wants. That would be ridiculous, and a very large number of leave voters would see it as a complete sell-out. That applies to a very large number of remain voters as well, many of them in my own constituency. They have written to me and said, “For goodness’ sake oppose this withdrawal agreement, because while we do not agree with you about the ultimate aim, we are united in thinking this is even worse than just leaving”, or, in their case, staying within the European Union. I find myself in agreement with the overwhelming majority of my constituents on this subject. For both those who voted remain and leave, this is a very bad agreement that suits neither side.
The opportunities we should be discussing today in respect of fishing, agriculture and business are very considerable. I again ask my oft-repeated question of the Government: when are they going to publish our new tariff schedule? The United Kingdom can decide how much tariff, if any, to impose on imports into our country. I think that the EU tariff schedule on imports into our country is too high. I proposed to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that he remove all tariffs on imported components. That would be a huge boost for manufacturing in this country. Instead of having to say to manufacturers that we might end up with some tariffs on components coming in from the EU, because we have to charge the same to everybody, let us be bold and say that we are going to get rid of the tariffs on the components coming in from non-EU sources so that we cheapen the costs of manufacturing in the United Kingdom and give people a better choice on components.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend address the worries of farming families, communities and industries up and down the country facing tariffs on their products going into Europe? This is a £3.15 billion industry facing a very serious tariff threat.

John Redwood: I was going to get on to food, and I will do so immediately as I have been prompted. We run a massive £20 billion a year trade deficit in food with the European Union, and tariff-free food competes all too successfully against some elements of our farming industry. I want the Government to choose a tariff structure on food that provides lower overall tariffs against the rest of the world but produces some tariff against EU production so that we will produce more domestically. I want to cut the food miles. I want to see more of our food being produced and sold domestically. Our domestic market share has plunged seriously during the time we have been in the European Union. I think it was well over 90% in 1972 when we entered, and it is now well under 70%. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot get back there.

We need to know urgently from this Government what tariff protection there is going to be against EU food once we have left; whether they will take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of tariffs on food coming in that we cannot conceivably grow or produce for ourselves; and whether they will lower the average tariff, because some of the tariffs that the EU imposes are eye-wateringly too high, to the detriment of the food consumer. As we will be collecting more tariff revenue in total when we start to impose some tariffs on EU products, we should be having a debate on how we are going to spend that money. I trust that the Government would rebate it all to British consumers by direct tax cuts of the right kind. There is no reason why the consumer should be worse off, because we are heavy net exporters and we are going to collect an awful lot more tariff revenue on the EU’s goods than they are going to collect on ours, unless we do something very radical on our tariff schedule. We therefore need to discuss how to spend that money.

We also need to discuss how we rebuild our fishing industry. I am impatient to get on with this. I do not want it to be delayed. We need to take control of our fish and our fishing industry this year, not sometime, never. Under the withdrawal agreement, we have no idea if and when we would get our fishing industry back. Doubtless it would be in play as something to be negotiated away, because the Government have given everything else away that they might otherwise have used in the negotiation. I want to get on and take back control of the fish now. I want a policy from the DEFRA Secretary on how we can land much more of the fish in the United Kingdom, how we can build our fish processing industries on the back of that, and what kind of arrangements we will have with the neighbouring countries both within and outside the EU whereby we will be free to settle the terms and negotiate our own conditions.
This is a huge opportunity. The fishing industry is one of the industries that has been most gravely damaged by our membership of the European Union, and we owe it to our fishing communities around the country to take that opportunity. From landlocked Wokingham, I can assure colleagues from coastal communities that there is huge enthusiasm throughout the country to rebuild our fishing industry and to see those fishing fleets again expand and enable us to land much more of our own fish. We can, at the same time, have a policy that is better on conservation by getting rid of many of the big industrial trawlers that come from the continent. We can get rid of the system where there are discards at sea or, now, the system where people are actually going to be prevented from fishing completely because the fishery cannot be managed sensibly, to the detriment of the fish and the fishermen and women undertaking the work.

There is a huge agenda there. Above all, I want the Government to set out how we are going to spend all the money that we will be saving. The Government say that we are going to give away £39 billion—I think it will be considerably more—under the withdrawal agreement. I would like to take that sum of money, which they have clearly provided for as it is their plan to spend that money, and spend it in the first two years when we come out in March 2019. That would be a 2% boost to our economy—a very welcome Brexit bonus.


  1. Peter Wood
    January 12, 2019

    Sir John,

    I listened and thought you made a very good speech. You are to be commended also for not needing to read it, to have memorised it is far more respectful to the House.

    Trade was the main topic of course, but I have not heard much about sovereignty. Surely it is the ability to elect and remove those who make our laws, and be a people who are proud of being a sovereign nation not fearful of the future, is the real reason we want Brexit.

    Reply I do not write and memorise. I just speak.

    1. Dominic
      January 12, 2019

      Hear, hear.

      I didn’t see the speech as I refuse to watch the BBC and most of its partial content but SJR has always been a sincere Commons speaker. I like that and he is to be commended for his principled stance

      The economy is of importance but is dwarfed by the almost divine importance of protecting and strengthening the UK’s democratic institutions and mechanisms of accountability, re-instating the nation’s sovereignty and independence and ensuring that all times those who we elect to govern and pass legislation that govern our every waking moment are answerable to us, the British people.

      I am weary of the continual emphasis on the economic arguments. This is of course a deliberate political ploy as we all have families to raise and therefore we are prone to blackmail on this issue. This is despicable behaviour on the part of the Remain camp.

      It is my firm belief that May will find a political way through this melee co-opting Grieve and Bercow to use any form of Parliamentary skulduggery She’s unprincipled and utterly devoid of moral shame. Her embrace of Labour’s politics is an act of heresy on her part.

      At the end of 2019 the UK will still be a member of the EU or if not a member an associate member. That means no free trade agreements. No sovereign Parliament. No independence. More ECJ decisions to absorb onto our statute book. More EU laws. No controlled immigration.

      I have always believed that without a Eurosceptic PM the UK government will never implement the result of the EU referenda. I won’t be far wrong in that belief

      British democracy and the British people will be betrayed

      1. rose
        January 13, 2019

        The Parliament Channel doesn’t have BBC staff on most of the time, only MPs and Peers, and the people they question in committees, so I would watch it if I were you. No 232 on Freeview. It is the only way you can hear unfiltered and uninterfered with speeches. No interruptions at all from the Dimblebys, and no misrepresentation.

        1. Hope
          January 13, 2019

          Is this the same Freeman who has made a U turn to support May’s servitude plan? Did backstabbing Gove change his mind? If so he ought to remember how Gove said tariffs could be offset to farmers by any savings made from EU contributions.

          I take it U turn Fox is still wandering the globe at taxpayers expense enjoying the trimmings of office wondering what he should do to fill his time until the next election if May wins the vote? God forbid, if her servitude plan is voted down he might have to prove what he has achieved over the last couple of years in ready to trade with the world and have to go to work! That could be awkward.

      2. James
        January 13, 2019

        I hope you are wrong. I find it hard to believe that there are not enough MPs in Parliament who will vote against Mrs May’s dire WA next week. Who in their right minds could agree that the UK should pay £39 billion to in effect stay for indeterminate further years in the EU and accept any laws that they pass (without the UK having any say), and with no guarantee of a free trade agreement at the end of it?

      3. Stephen O
        January 13, 2019

        I totally agree. A democracy which asks the people to vote on a single issue then ignores the result is no true democracy. And if the peoples will is to be ignored on this occasion, when expressed so clearly through a referendum, what reason is there to suppose it will be followed in future and that a parliament as the voice of the people acting on their behalf has not become a thing of the past.
        If their votes are ignored what options do the people have to ensure the government follows their will? How can those politicians who support remain regardless of the referendum result, thinking the voters stupid and wrong, be made to realise how stupid and irresponsible they are being?
        Even if leave were the wrong result economically it is the right result for the UK’s future as a stable democracy. And the impact of losing that political stability could well be far more dangerous an abyss than any cliff edge the remoaners speculate on.

    2. NigelE
      January 12, 2019


      Both for the content and the rare ability to speak so clearly and concisely.

    3. ChrisS
      January 12, 2019

      Reply to the reply :
      It’s always been the case that our host is one of the few politicians that only says what he believes in. It is therefore not the least bit surprising that the speech was delivered so well without notes.

      Almost everyone posting here regularly would have agreed with every word.

      Why is Sir John Redwood not living in Downing Street ?

      1. Steve
        January 12, 2019


        “Why is Sir John Redwood not living in Downing Street ?”

        My guess is he knows the system needs such a serious reform which makes the job a none starter for anyone with a sincere mind. In other words; he might not want to touch it with a bargepole, could you blame him ?

        Besides, PM’s always look seriously ragged and drained after a couple of
        years in the job.

      2. Simon Coleman
        January 12, 2019

        It sounds more like a fan club than a political discussion forum. Mr Redwood clearly believes that we derive absolutely no benefits from our membership of the EU and that there are almost infinite benefits to be gained from leaving it. Such an absurdly one-sided position is not that of a statesman but an ideologue. Among Remain MPs and Remain voters, you would find few who would say that the EU is a perfect political structure. But the fact that he dismisses 16 point whatever million Remain voters as irrelevant shows again an absence of statesmanship. And statesman find practical solutions. Ideologues just pontificate.

        1. M Davis
          January 12, 2019

          Simon, your post says more about yourself than it does about Sir John Redwood. For ideologues, look no further than the Socialists. It is their mantra and their wishful Utopia. Socialists just love their social engineering and think they can sort out the whole wide world. They can’t! Give me a realist, such as Sir John and his ilk, any time, as opposed to the Socialist bullies and control freaks!

        2. Monza 71
          January 12, 2019

          Remainers like to suggest we should compromise on the terms of Brexit to take into account their preference to stay in the EU.

          That’s impossible – we can’t be half in or half out, in any event, Brussels have made it clear they won’t allow it.

          There was a clear majority to leave. Both sides in the campaign made it crystal clear that Leaving meant being outside both the Customs Union and the Single Market.

          How else can we achieve an end to FOM, the rule of the ECJ and the right to make our own trade deals ?

          The Second referendum campaign is nothing more than Remainers lying through their teeth saying they respect the outcome of the real People’s vote.

          They have no respect whatsoever for democracy or the 17.4m who won the referendum. They are a supremely arrogant bunch who will do anything to reverse the decision.

          Reply When as a young man I was on the losing side on Remain/Leave in the first referendum I do not recall the winning side making any accommodation of my strongly held view, or even understanding why I was upset with the result.

          1. Monza 71
            January 12, 2019

            PS. Remainers refuse to even acknowledge the fact that the Government have already more than delivered the £350 a week for the NHS !

        3. Edward2
          January 12, 2019

          But that is not his position Simon.
          It boils down to this, do you want to be citizen of an independent soveriegn nation or a servant of a subsidiary region of the United States of Europe.
          Time now to make your mind up.
          You cannot be both.

    4. Narrow Shoulders
      January 12, 2019

      The sovereignty issue is the most important. Trade will sort itself in the short to medium term but our sovereignty will last forever.

      And yes I am pleased to see Parliament holding the government to account. I would like to have seen more in the past when waving through EU directives.

      The various factions in Parliament are demonstrating how important sovereignty is, how ironic that at least one faction wants to give that away.

    5. Peter D Gardner
      January 12, 2019

      Unfortunately the horizon of the debate has been shrunk. Maximum horizon is elections scheduled for 2022. Major concern at present is who gets blamed for any short term impacts of an exit on WTO terms, the default option if they reject TM’s WA. That is why many MPs will vote for it. Sad but true. This is what TM has been counting on to get her deal through. She is pretty good at Westminster games but is also a converted supra-nationalist. She sees the big picture, few others do.

      1. Stephen O
        January 13, 2019

        No 10 is doing its upmost to cloud what the alternative will be if Mrs May deal is voted down. Doubtless this is an attempt to convince MPS against it that the alternative to her deal is worse. For remainers worse means a WTO exit and for Brexiteers (and those that accept they should follow the peoples will as expressed by the referendum) that Brexit won’t happen at all, due an extension of article 50 and a general election or second referendum.

        Our useless media just report that they are confused and don’t know what will happen rather than try to cut through the disinformation coming out of the government.
        For me the options for stopping Brexit seem unlikely as extending article 50 long enough for either a second referendum or general election seems hard and there is not a majority for either a second referendum or general election, However the house of commons is opposed to a no deal exit so I feel no certain that will be the result either.

    6. L Jones
      January 12, 2019

      Peter Wood – yes, we hear too much about trade. Important, but certainly not the whole thing, which is what some are trying to make us believe. It seems all part of the smoke and mirrors ploy.

      The speech was excellent. This is a sign of sincerity, not memorising, but ”just speaking”.

    7. Helen Smith
      January 12, 2019

      You can do so because you speak from the heart, you mean what you say and say what you mean, it’s wonderful.

      1. Stephen Priest
        January 12, 2019

        Thank you for keeping calm. There is not economic argument for the EU.

        The EU sacrifices its own economically people to keep the project going. Greece ?

        As Steve Baker Says “Let’s be positive, and ready, for a no-deal Brexit”

    8. bigneil
      January 12, 2019

      ” Reply I do not write and memorise. I just speak. ”

      On that basis John – A standing round of applause from me – much respect.

    9. Merlin
      January 12, 2019

      Also and on a very different topic, there’s a very interesting article on why there shouldn’t be a second referendum.

      Oddly, as a Remainer, I am very much against a second referendum. I was against the first one too. I think it has split this country down the middle, set people against each other, and such questions should be left entirely to parliament, who are far more informed. My approach would be to back May’s deal. Then suck it and see – and if parliament doesn’t like the outcome in five years or so, we rejoin the E.U. That way, the people’s vote is respected, parliament is respected and difficult problems are not just dumped on the British people to resolve.

      Also a second referendum risks the people voting for No Deal – which I think is why many MPs are against it.

      1. Sir Joe Soap
        January 12, 2019

        You want another five years of fudge and mess?

        1. Merlin
          January 13, 2019

          Want it? Of course not. But the vote must be respected. And May’s deal does that – in my opinion.

    10. Tad Davison
      January 12, 2019

      It’s called being the master of one’s own subject. When a person has lived and breathed the UK’s exit from the European Union as much as JR, little wonder he is so well versed and so well able to counter the uneducated nonsense from the remain camp with exemplary speeches It’s just a pity so many of the rest of his parliamentary colleagues are not on the same intellectual scale.


    11. Lifelogic
      January 13, 2019

      “I do not write and memorise. I just speak” – and JR does this very well indeed (especially for a mere arts graduate). So much more interesting (it being from the heart) than the endlessly repeated, preprepared, idiotic & repetitive (but almost meaningless) drivel from the usual dire career politicians.

  2. Peter D Gardner
    January 12, 2019

    Mrs May has her eye on the new EU treaties to be put into effect by the end of the next EU five year plan, by 2025. The future relationship between UK and the EU will be negotiated in the context of these treaties that complete economic and monetary union, leaving just political union in a Federal State of Europe for the subsequent five year plan.
    Her conversion to supra-nationalism came with the flurry of EU papers on the subject published from March to June 2017 and the ensuing debate that informed the EU’s negotiations with Mrs May. Following Juncker’s speech on the future of Europe in September, May enthusiastically committed UK to partnering further integration in her own speech in Florence.
    In September she transferred Olly Robbins to her own team and set up her back channel to Brussels to produce her Chequers proposal in July 2018. At Chequers the white paper David Davis had been working on and which was based on an entirely feasible trade deal and a solution to the Irish border was thrown in the bin, by Mrs May personally. It has never been published.
    Deliberate delays meant that by Nov Jon Thompson (CEO HMRC) told the Treasury committee that the time for Davis’s customs arrangements had passed months before. The backstop was back in May’s anti-Brexit armoury.
    Project Fear reinforced by preparations more suited to a country under siege has intentionally set Parliament against WTO terms.

    If re-joining the EU later is her aim, as I believe it is, the actual shape of the deal is of secondary importance – so long as it has wide coupling to EU regulation, doesn’t preclude accession, aligns with the EU timetable and makes escape by a future government difficult. It does all these things. It is an accession agreement from which there is no escape.
    Rejecting her WA is, make no mistake, the UK’s last chance to gain independence.
    My article on this is due to appear in The Conservative Woman.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 12, 2019

      A very interesting account, which invites a few corrections or refinements.

      “Her conversion to supra-nationalism came … ”

      Well, she’s been my MP for two decades during most of which time I have seen her as a eurofederalist, but of a fairly mild rather than a fanatical kind. So I would see it not so much as a conversion to supra-nationalism as a reversion.

      “… came with the flurry of EU papers on the subject published from March to June 2017 and the ensuing debate that informed the EU’s negotiations with Mrs May.”

      Well, her Lancaster House speech was on January 17th 2017:

      and she was more or less on the straight and narrow with that speech, while her Florence speech was on September 22nd 2017:

      and the tone was already changing in the wrong direction.

      But as Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted later it was on March 2nd 2018 that she finally sold the pass, with a short passage buried in her Mansion House speech:

      As detailed here on May 28th 2018:

      she gratuitously accepted UK responsibility for preventing other actors, the EU and the Irish government, from installing new infrastructure at the Irish border. If she had not made that stupid/traitorous concession in March 2018 we would not now be stuck over the Irish “backstop”.

      “Following Juncker’s speech on the future of Europe in September … ”

      Once again I would also see other factors operating here, with Leo Varadkar replacing Enda Keeny as Irish Prime Minister on June 14th 2017 and moving to adopt the absurd extreme and intransigent position on the border that I have repeatedly highlighted here.

      “… In September she transferred Olly Robbins to her own team and set up her back channel to Brussels to produce her Chequers proposal in July 2018.”

      Well, by early May I was writing to our local paper as follows:

      “I was staggered to read this in a Sunday newspaper, referring to Theresa May’s preferred plan for a crazy “customs partnership” with the EU:

      “Mrs May’s No 10 Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, has told her that the ‘partnership’ is the only idea which will allow the UK to cut new trade deals while avoiding the need for a hard border in Ireland …”

      I suggest Mrs May should get herself a new Brexit adviser who will not talk such nonsense.”

      But she chose not to do so; and when I read the article mentioned here*:

      it began to dawn on me that she positively does not want any alternative solution to the fictitious problem of the Irish border because it conveniently provides her with a useful pretext to do what she anyway wanted to do at the behest of the CBI and other such groups, and what fits in as well as is possible with top level Tory party strategy and policy for the past six decades, back to Harold Macmillan.

      * From August:

      “The Chequers deal is proof that the government has listened – it is as close to what we asked for as we were ever likely to get – and the Prime Minister has shown considerable fortitude in squaring the circles needed to deliver it. The rest of the government and all of Parliament now need to get behind it.”

    2. bigneil
      January 12, 2019

      Peter, I totally agree with your post and will compliment you as I, being the working class numpty, wouldn’t and couldn’t have been able to put it so well. I’d have shortened it to – You can’t trust her.

    3. Fishknife
      January 12, 2019

      We are in danger of loosing a game we don’t even know we are in.

      It is fairly obvious that this WA is a trap.

      The Irish protocol isn’t the honest acceptance that Britain wants to go another way. It was cynically ‘weaponised’ for a purpose. It can be a sacrificial distraction, a diversion concealing multi-faceted attacks from other quarters, but a bonus if it succeeds.

      Border sanitary and phytosanitary inspection isn’t insoluble. On 14 December 2019, Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (Article 73) takes effect. Similar in nature to its predecessor regulation (Article 23) there is an important difference in that it allows pre-export controls to replace the official controls applied on entry, in which event the UK could build an inspection facility in county Armagh / Tyrone (& outside Dover), to be operated under EU supervision.

      Thus it is difficult to believe that Mrs. May and her advisors are not complicit in not seeing what the committment to ‘no hard border’ could be twisted to mean, and to take absolutely no steps in the last twelve months to seek alternative solutions, of which there are many.

      If that is so then it follows that we are under a concerted attack, and all circumstances, past and present, have to be regarded as potentially malign.

      Perhaps the most dangerous to the UK is the security aspect, as outlined by , Dearlove et al.

      Mrs. May’s tactics have, to date, been to wait until the last moment and then strike. She is not going to give up her ‘Deal’, so what else will she do apart from having Brussels waive Ireland at the last moment?

    4. Mitchel
      January 12, 2019

      Theresa May’s “conversation to supra-nationalism” may have a lot to do with geopolitics-the resurgence of Russia and it’s Greater Eurasian project which is relentlessly taking both shape and substance.

      The Norwegian academic,thinktanker and Eurasian enthusiast Professor Glenn Diesen(author of the recently published “The Decay of Western Civilization and the Resurgence of Russia:Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft”) summarised what is going on thus :

      “Russia’s new Great Eurasia initiative will marginalize the EU’s role across Eurasia as socio-economic and political decisions will be made by BRICS,Eurasian Economic Union(EaEU),Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO) and the Belt & Road Initiative(BRI).The EU is faced with a dilemma as it has strong economic incentives to cooperate with the developments taking place in Greater Eurasia,yet this would contribute to the shift away from the western-centric geo-economic structure.”

      No doubt the UK sees itself as an anchor to stop the eastwards drift particularly at a time when the US under Mr Trump is disdainful of Europe and is more generally looking over the Pacific rather than the Atlantic.The development of financial architecture in the East also has major implications for the City too.These developments could leave the UK as a periphery of a periphery.No doubt also this accounts for the nuclear weapons grade propaganda war that is raging currently.

      But Eurasia is happening;at some stage a future UK government will have to grapple with where we fit in.Perhaps our host,when time permits,could give us his views on this important issue.

    5. Oxiana321
      January 12, 2019

      Peter’s chilling comments strike at the very heart of the matter. He summarises very neatly what I expect many of us have known for some time – that the WA is nothing of the sort. It is a means for binding us in to the project by the back door, as the terms are so conspicuously awful for the UK that it would surely be only a matter of time before we ask for re-accession to escape the punishment. However, this time the terms would surely include adopting the Euro and the loss of any remaining claim we might have on our rebate. We would also be thrust headlong in to the EU’s project to create a Federal State of Europe. It beggars belief and indeed I struggle to comprehend the mindset of MPs and Civil Servants who believe so passionately in this project that they are prepared to sacrifice party, country and sovereignty to achieve that goal.

  3. Lifelogic
    January 12, 2019

    An excellent contribution.

    A huge further boost to the economy when May and Hammond are repaced by some people who actually understand economics, leadership and can generate confidence with an uplifting vision of lower taxes and less government and red tape. Another huge boost if we can avoid Corbyn.

  4. Maria Smith
    January 12, 2019

    You want a lower tariff on food imported from the wider world than food imported from the EU. That is a violation of WTO law and it is not allowed. Simple as that. Your “plan”for a no deal Brexit is illegal.

    Reply. No, I want us to lower the EU level of tariffs which will then apply to the EU as well

    1. David in Kent
      January 12, 2019

      Maria, I think you misunderstood him, and indeed it wasn’t totally clear, as I understand it the proposal is to apply lower tariffs to the whole world including the EU but select certain items such as maybe milk to apply higher tariffs globally but which would be of particular interest in the EU and value to our farmers.
      Like Sir John I do wish the government would get on with it and publish its proposed tariff schedules, then all would be clear.

    2. David Price
      January 12, 2019

      We could set zero tariff on cane sugar, tea, Indica rice and a high tariff on cheese, ham, chocolate confectionery and Japonica rice. This is no different from what the EU already does and could of course be ameliorated with a trade agreements.

    3. Know-Dice
      January 12, 2019

      Maria, as far as I understand it…

      After a WTO exit the UK would initially use a WTO schedule that applied to all territories the EU included.

      It is the UK’s choice as to what these schedules are and the level of tariff applied to the various products being imported in to the UK. We may choose to had no tariff on for example oranges, thus reducing the imported cost of this product from Israel, South Africa etc. Certainly tariffs on certain items could/would make them more expensive from the EU than they are now, but as only 38%ish of our imports are from the EU it may not make a huge difference overall.

      Most importantly 80% of current External Tariffs get paid to the EU, 100% of any tariffs in future would be retained by the UK, to be used in the UK.

      There is no such thing as “illegal” the WTO doesn’t have a court, disputes are sorted out between member countries AFAIK.

    4. Dennis
      January 12, 2019

      Reply. No, I want us to lower the EU level of tariffs which will then apply to the EU as well.

      You want? How will you do that?

    5. forthurst
      January 12, 2019

      The tariff level needs to be at a least the level of subsidy the EU gives to its own farmers unless the product is not temperate or does not compete with cheaper alternative products from the RoW.

  5. Lifelogic
    January 12, 2019

    “Brexit, the uncivil war, rages on because our MPs continue to ignore the voters” says
    Charles Moore this morning.

    Indeed but why? This approach will surely bury the Tory party, destroy any real UK democracy and leave us under the tender boot of lets copy Venezuela Corbyn with his magic money tree?

    1. Cerberus
      January 12, 2019

      Globalism. Planned over several decades with trillions of pounds invested in it. You think they care about democracy in a single European country.

  6. Alison Houston
    January 12, 2019

    Excellent , John. If only you were PM. The only downside is that you didn’t mention the treachery that is happening in defence, and you never do.

    1. Norman
      January 12, 2019

      Alison – totally agree. If we are to be a free, sovereign nation, we cannot be tied to the EU in defence. If this is in the WA, it should be voted down for that reason alone. This is paramount.

    2. Norman
      January 12, 2019

      PS: Although defence is pivotal to sovereignty, I suspect it’s not featuring much in the debate for immediate tactical reasons. But I certainly hope we do not get entangled in EU military ambitions.

  7. eeyore
    January 12, 2019

    Thank you Sir John. On Monday there is another debate on leaving on WTO terms, called as a result of a petition urging that course signed by well over 300,000 people. Some MPs seem grossly ignorant on this subject and prone to absurd and damaging flights of hysteria. As one of Parliament’s experts on WTO, will you be contributing?

    1. David Price
      January 12, 2019

      They’ve combined seven petitions that I know of, two of which I signed – “Leave the EU now” with 66,971 signatures and “Leave the EU without a deal in March 2019” with 324,502.

      1. David Price
        January 12, 2019

        … but I don’t think the debate will be focused or fruitful as the committee have conflated petitions to leave the EU with others to cancel Brexit and hold a second referendum.

    2. Iain Moore
      January 12, 2019

      I understand, I might be wrong, that the Parliamentary authorities have combined the 320,ooo petition for a WTO Brexit, one of the highest petitions on record, with a Remain petition that has 3,000 votes that seeks a losers referendum. If true it is a disgrace, for the debate should be confined to a WTO Brexit , and not have the debate sidelined by the remainer petition that has 100 times less support and not even met the threshold.

    3. Bob
      January 12, 2019

      If it’s anything like the “debate” they held on the BBC TV Licence it will be crammed with Chequers supporters who will conclude that Chequers is the best option.

      The outcomes of these debates are foregone conclusions that do not have any effect on Parliamentary business.

      If they choose to ignore 17.4 million voters, why would they have any respect for 325,000?

    4. acorn
      January 12, 2019

      There are two petitions for remaining. Two for a further referendum and three for leaving with no deal. Fortunately, these mini-referendums (Petition) debates in Westminster Hall can’t change the law or result in a vote to implement a petition.

  8. agrictola
    January 12, 2019

    Well said John. I would now like to see a financial plan or projection for our future on leaving the EU on WTO terms with the considered necessary actions to be taken to achieve the plan. This would be a requirement were you starting a new business. Well that is exactly what we would be doing.
    We have had enough from the doom and gloom merchants of remain, who incidentally have never been accurate about anything financial in our history with the EU.

    Reply See my economic forecast for WTO exit on this site

  9. oldtimer
    January 12, 2019

    I agree with every word of your contribution to the debate. In particular your first sentence “This parliament is on trial” is, it seems to me, to be fundamental. For me, and many others I speak to, trust in this government and especially in Mrs May is lost. Initial doubts were confirmed by the Chequers fiasco, the subsequent resignation of ministers and the WA. I have come to the conclusion that the WA is not the result of negotiating incompetence but of negotiating complicity. It should be rejected out of hand by MPs.

    We are, again, being fed a diet of hints, nudges and speculations that MPs will be asked to keep on voting until they produce the “right answer”, a well worn EU tactic. Failing that we now hear talk of deferral of Article 50, even on abandoning Brexit. If parliament and the government really does travel down this road it will end very badly indeed.

  10. margaret
    January 12, 2019

    Most agree on these matters in this blog site, but if we switch our TV’s on to listen to debates, the house in general appears to be more interested in the mechanics of debating and whether their comments will be popular or make them temporary stars .Personality politics is not the slightest bit of interest in the Brexit issue. It is far too important to listen to slights and petty arguments. Clarity and openness needs to be at the forefront of discussions to enable the media to report honestly and not add their own version of events.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      January 12, 2019

      That’s why the only good thing about this mess is that it is a road to tearing up this system and starting anew.

  11. Ronald Olden
    January 12, 2019

    John Redwood appears oblivious the workings of the UK’s Parliamentary Democracy.

    Neither the ‘Leave’ nor the ‘Remain’ campaign had any authority in 2016 to promise that the Referendum was a ‘decision’ making process. We weren’t asked on the ballot paper whether we wanted to tear up 7 or 8 hundred years of Parliamentary Democracy and replace it with mob rule by plebiscite.

    The Supreme Court itself ruled that the Referendum was ‘advisory’. But even if it wasn’t, no Parliament can bind its’ successor.

    The United Kingdom is Leaving the EU because Parliament voted to empower the Crown to invoke Article 50, which it did, and to enact the Brexit Act.

    Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which the House of Commons itself also voted to ratify, provides for the possibility of a Withdrawal Agreement if the Crown invoked it, and obliges the Crown to seek to agree one if it can.

    The Crown does not however have any obligation to ratify one.

    The present Withdrawal Agreement provides for the UK to Leave the EU on March 29th and replaces membership with various arrangements.

    We knew when we voted in the Referendum that Article 50 provided for a Withdrawal Agreement but we were not asked to advise whether we should enter into the terms of this one. So its’ up to Parliament to decide whether or not it wants it.

    John Redwood habitually tries to reinterpret the result of the referendum as meaning that we also ‘advised’ the Crown that we don’t want this Withdrawal Agreement.

    In that respect he’s no better than the Remainers who insist that the punic didn’t vote to Leave without an Agreement. Neither he not they know.

    I, however, voted Leave and would still do so again. Had I been an MP, I would, also have voted against the Maastricht Treaty. John Redwood however voted for it.

    I would also rather Leave with no Withdrawal Agreement than Leave with this one.

    I do however STILL want the House of Commons to vote FOR it.

    The agreement is reasonable compromise which takes into account the advice tendered by both the 52% and the 48% and does at least ensure that the Treaties lapse on March 29th, whereupon the UK will cease to be a Member of the EU.

    The world does not revolve around what John Redwood ‘wants’ the UK’s relationship with the EU to be after we’ve left. and what he thinks should be debated.

    The 52% comprised a myriad of different views (and none), as to what should happen after we Leave. The concerns of the 48% also have to be respected when we consider what our future relationship with the EU is to be.

    The latter is a different question from whether or not we Leave.

    John Redwood is an MP. We who voted Leave are entitled to expect him to behave with some degree of tactical intelligence and get as much for us as he can. Not throw it all away at the last minute.

    If this Agreement is voted down, the chances are, that we will not Leave the EU at all on March 29th and quite possibly never Leave it.

    If the numbers on the night and subsequent events end up revealing that its Tory Leave supporting MPs who’ve lost us our one and only chance to Leave, they will never be forgiven. And neither should they be.

    Reply Government and Parliament said the people would decide in the referendum. Signing the Withdrawal Agreement binds us back into the EU in every way whilst losing us our vote and voice in it. How does that help?

    1. Peter
      January 12, 2019

      The Withdrawal Agreement is a complete “sell out’ as described in this post. Most people can see that. Most people are also unhappy at how we arrived at this point. Hence the statement “this Parliament is on trial” .

      I do not expect things to end well though I hope I am proved wrong. Either way there will be consequences for Parliament. Voters will be looking to ‘drain the swamp’. They already held Parliament in low esteem after the expenses scandal.

    2. sm
      January 12, 2019

      Mr Olden, surely by your argument the 1975 Referendum also tore up 700-800yrs of Parliamentary democracy?

      As for the oft-repeated nonsense about no Parliament can bind its successors – on that basis, NO decisions would ever be taken about anything. Why bother to introduce all those EU directives into UK legislation?

      1. hefner
        January 12, 2019

        Do you realise that the FPTP voting system has not been set up “700-800 years” ago but in 1948?

        1. sm
          January 13, 2019

          Hefner, I was referring to Mr Olden’s turn of phrase, and FPTP was in place before 1948.

          By the way, did you know that Parliamentary ‘divisions’ were set up in the 1520’s? Before that, decisions were taken on the basis of which option got the noisiest roar of approval. Which of course depended on who was judging the decibels…..

    3. Edward2
      January 12, 2019

      Ron, the Withdrawal Agreement has one thing to commend it.
      It has united both the people and Parliament.
      In opposition to it.
      20 paragraphs.
      I think that is a record.

    4. Dave Andrews
      January 12, 2019

      When the vote was cast in June 2016, I did understand at that time that the vote was advisory and that Parliament still had the power to disregard it.
      There would be a massive constitutional crisis if Parliament had disregarded the referendum, and they realised that in voting to send the Article 50 letter and pass the Withdrawal Act.
      In this country we recognise the democracy as expressed in the ballot box. That is the way to effect change. If you take that away, then people know the only way to effect change is by direct action, and there ceases to be an argument against it.

    5. Peter D Gardner
      January 12, 2019

      Absolute rubbish. The supreme court made no such ruling. You’re just making it up. The rest is fantasy.

    6. L Jones
      January 12, 2019

      The first sentence of this post from R Olden was so arrogantly patronising that I didn’t bother to read the rest. That anyone can’t be self aware enough to recognise how annoyingly self-opinionated and self-important they appear to others must be blinkered in the extreme.
      The rest of the rambling post became completely nugatory after those first few words.

    7. Stred
      January 12, 2019

      According to some civil servants and three legal opinions, the WD binds the UK in forever. It is actually worse than staying in. This is why it was written this way, as requested by the likes of Sirs John Major and Nick Clegg along with Lords, Dames and welching MPs. The lawyer MPs and so called legal experts who wish to support the WD are gutless surrender monkeys that would disgrace the French.

      Ps. Should JR alter ‘we are net exporters’ to net importers?

      1. Stred
        January 12, 2019

        Para 6.

    8. Alan Jutson
      January 12, 2019


      I have just viewed a recording of Julia Hartly Brewer interview with Peta Credin former Chief of Staff for Tony Abbott the Australian Prime Minister on youtube broadcast on talk radio on 11.1.2019

      Such clarity of thought, such passion in her own Country, such simple explanations.

      They trade with the EU o0n WTO terms and have not paid a penny to do so.
      They have not eu internal rules with which they have to comply within their own Country.
      They have sold the illegal immigration policy, but are still generous to genuine refugees.

      I commend anyone to look at at and find fault with the views expressed.

      1. Alan Jutson
        January 12, 2019

        How ironic the we gave Australia her independence and freedom along with many other Commonwealth Countries, and they are now more Independent than most of our Politicians want us to be now.

        Quite shameful really.

        Who would think we are the 5th Largest Trading Nation on Earth, given the way Parliament is thinking and behaving
        They should hang their heads in shame.
        Quite disgusting.

    9. Denis Cooper
      January 12, 2019

      From May 20th 2015:

      “So we should not be surprised if during the referendum campaign the government set off rumours that it had started to print ration books as part of its contingency planning in case of an “out” vote …

      After the votes had been cast and counted, and it had been announced that the “out” side had won, we would still be in the EU, and at most that would be just the trigger for the government to activate Article 50 TEU and start negotiations for the new treaty arrangements which would apply after we had actually left, some years down the line; it is quite conceivable that in fact the government wouldn’t do that, but it would instead go back to Brussels and try to extract apparent concessions to address what it chose to identify as the main concerns of the “out” voters, and then hold another referendum to give a chance to change their minds.

      It was noted that the Wharton/Neill Private Members’ Bill:

      did not say what would happen in the event of an “out” vote, unlike the Act for the AV referendum which did specify what would ensue from a vote in either direction:

      Nor did the final referendum Act:

      say what would ensue from a vote to leave the EU.

    10. Bob
      January 12, 2019

      @Ronald Olden

      “no Parliament can bind its’ successor”

      “Non-Regression” clauses are out then?

      The problem with the WA is that it surrenders our negotiating position before negotiations begin. It is in fact a surrender treaty! What happened to “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”?

      Since the EU obviously wants to play hard ball, then WTO is our best option, if you want a deal, prepare for no deal.

    11. matthu
      January 12, 2019

      “The agreement … does at least ensure that the Treaties lapse on March 29th, whereupon the UK will cease to be a Member of the EU.”

      The trouble is that the agreement reinstates a more punitive treaty in its place from which there is no guaranteed means of escape!

    12. Rien Huizer
      January 12, 2019

      @ Margaret

      You fear that the end result of this parliamentary process will be no UK departure from the EU. I have no idea of how that could come about. The EU is completely reconciled to the UK leaving formally on March 29 , taking 21 months to adjust to the new situations as well as negotiating a replacement treaty, the scope of which is outlined in the declaration (mortally, not legally binding).

      When will people in the UK understand that the EU’s members, despite their “grief” over losing a profitable trading relationship with little prospect to fully replicate that (cherry-picking out of bounds) through an FTA, are not prepared to put up with more of the current shamebes, accurately described (but for the transition period) by a Dantesque Redwood:

      ” these awful, endless debates and repetitions of the referendum arguments as we try to get something from the European Union by way of an agreement over our future partnership”,

      It is a process the UK started and seems unable to finish. Staying in but without any commitment to build on staying in by becoming a constructive member is clearly worse than definitely being out, from an EU perspective that is. I do not believe Mr Juncker will get mis members to agree to more than one chance for the UK to sort out this mess by granting a short advance to the transition. Should there be a seond “popular vote” (maybe an unpopular one in the eyes of those who thought that whatever The People decide is so special it cannot be revoked) leading to a “remain” verdict, the EU should insist on the UK accepting the duties of a normal member: Schengen, Euro, no rebates. That should also be on the mind of anyone with second popular vote ambitions…One should also be aware that the UK cannot remain a member over the upcoming (May) EP elections, hence the formal departure must have taken place before then.

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        January 12, 2019

        Rien, it may surprise you to know that those of us that voted leave don’t want any concessions or favours from the eu. We just want to leave. It’s our weak and remainer politicians that are intent on getting on their knees and begging. The ordinary man in the street would like to tell the eu what it can do with its membership.

    13. Rien Huizer
      January 12, 2019

      @ Margaret,

      My pro-active spelling checker is playing up again. Normally that should not distract too much but the “mortally”(final sentence para 1) is clearly a bit too much. It should be” formally”.

    14. Cis
      January 12, 2019

      Agree entirely with JR’s reply. The WA is not what it says on the tin: it keeps us tied to the EU with the Commission in control, and commits UK indefinitely to accepting new policies which we will have no means of influencing. It also puts a boundary down the Irish Sea from Day 1, since NI will be treated differently to GB. May’s ‘deal’ hands us over to the EU, lock, stock and barrel.

    15. Sam Duncan
      January 12, 2019

      “no Parliament can bind its’ successor”

      It seems it can’t even bind itself. Amendments to the Withdrawal Bill to provide for a second referendum and a parliamentary vote on “no deal” were soundly rejected by this very Parliament. We were surely entitled to believe that when the Act received Royal Assent, the position that it set out – Parliament would vote on the deal; if it rejected it, and there was no other option on the table (as the PM keeps telling us there isn’t), then we would leave without one – was the considered opinion of Parliament after almost a year of debate, the law of the land, and would therefore be followed.

      So why, now, barely six months later, are MPs so desperate to avoid the default outcome which they themselves provided for? Were they unaware of what they were enacting? Did they do it by accident? Have they just now realised what they have done? If so, what does that say about their intelligence and judgement? Or did they include the “no deal” default as a bluff, smugly believing that the “meaningful vote” was a mere formality, the possibility that the Draft Agreement might turn out to be unacceptable never entering their heads? What does that say about their intelligence and judgement?

      Sir John is right: many of us are extremely angry that his fellow MPs think us stupid, especially when they’re acting like spoiled children themselves.

  12. Gary C
    January 12, 2019

    I fear your speech has fallen on deaf ears.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 12, 2019

      Less of a defect of the ears than a lack of MP’s with functioning brains. All but a handful voted to the Climate Change act and 200 Tory ones had confidence in Theresa May. Surely that is proof enough?

      1. Lifelogic
        January 12, 2019


    2. Glenn Vaughan
      January 12, 2019

      Gary C

      I suspect your conclusion is correct.

      I watched John deliver his excellent speech on the Parliament channel and was dismayed to see how little atention was paid to his remarks by his fellow MPs who preferred to spend their time texting or playing with their iPad computers.

    3. Bryan Harris
      January 12, 2019

      I was going to say the same thing…

      Does anybody actually take any account of the speeches made… or are they just for the record?

      Do any MP’s ever get swayed by hearing what others say? I suspect not

    4. Merlin
      January 12, 2019

      Sorry, didn’t catch that. Could you repeat it?

  13. Kenneth
    January 12, 2019

    The Prime Minister is leading a group of rebels who have gone against the Conservative Party manifesto and the wishes of the People’s vote of 2016.

    If she gets her way with her “agreement” I can see both Labour and Conservatives fragmenting.

    Moderates and democrats need a political party they can trust.

    The Conservatives can stay together and build this trust again but only by ridding themselves of these mavericks.

    1. Dominic
      January 12, 2019


      I have voted Tory for the last 30 years. With the grotesque May as our leader I abstained and will abstain in the future.

    2. Lifelogic
      January 12, 2019

      The Tories have been a pro EU left wing, high tax, more EU party, certainly since Ted Heath. Time to turn it into a pro jobs low tax small state party

      I just picked up a (free) New Stateman at the airport (does anyone buy it?). Some Guardian dope making the argument that we cannot go the Singapore route as they are a much smaller population. What complete drivel being 12 times larger is another huge advantage. Lower taxes and less state always works. Just get the state sector down to 20% of what would be a much larger Gdp anyway.

      Even if it were true (it clearly is not) we could just break up into 12 Singapore units/regions. We should do rather better than Singapore.

    3. Andy
      January 12, 2019

      Democracy in this country is carried out by General Election – and not by referendum.

      Parliament is merely reflecting the views of the people as expressed in June 2017.

      1. Anonymous
        January 12, 2019

        You didn’t say that when you marked your ‘X’ and agreed to uphold the result.

  14. Mark B
    January 12, 2019

    Good morning

    I again ask my oft-repeated question of the Government: when are they going to publish our new tariff schedule?

    As I keep saying. They won’t because we are not Leaving the EU.

    1. Mark B
      January 12, 2019

      You can keep this in moderation all you want, but the truth will out in the end.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    January 12, 2019

    Good speech from one of a minority of MPs who want to uphold the result of the referendum and take us out of the EU.
    Mrs May, however, has no intention of taking the UK out of the EU. Her Withdrawal Agreement is designed to keep us in. She is adept at duplicity and mendacity. Despite all the apparent shambles under her watch, she carries on serenely, no doubt in the knowledge that she is successfully implementing the plan designed to ultimately overturn the result of the referendum. Conservative MPs had the opportunity to remove her and chose instead to support her and thereby be complicit in her dastardly scheme. Parliament has a majority of MPs who are working to put their opinion on EU membership above that of the people. Parliament holds the people in contempt.

  16. David Price
    January 12, 2019

    Excellent speech, though I believe much more than just Parliament is on trial and many have already been found wanting.

  17. Al
    January 12, 2019

    A good speech, but I suspect you speak sense to those who have neither the sense nor experience to recognise it. With the debate about the petition coming up, I suspect the House will be as dismissive as the government’s initial response.

    Is there any option for an alternative Leave plan, governing the mechanics of a smooth transition to WTO terms, to be put before the House and voted on?

  18. Sir Joe Soap
    January 12, 2019

    Your first 5 words are pivotal.

    If £39 billion of our money is given away for nothing, discontent from those who struggle to have £39 at the end of the week will be something to fear far more than leaving the EU under WTO rules. The real Project Fear, or actually Project Reality!

  19. JoolsB
    January 12, 2019

    As usual John, you talk so much sense. What a pity May and her useless cabinet and most of parliament for that matter don’t have as much sense between them. Totally clueless except on one thing – their determination to thwart the will of the people and keep us tied to the EU one way or another.

    If the traitors carry out their betrayal, I sincerely hope the people of this country will not allow them to get away with it and there will be a massive demand for yellow vests!!

  20. ferdinand
    January 12, 2019

    I applaud your summary of what is required much of which has been said by you before. But who was listening ?

  21. Sir Joe Soap
    January 12, 2019

    Being pre-emptive, it really is time for our host to begin debating on this site how we might cross to a completely new system of democracy or quasi-democracy in this country.

    This system, where manifesto pledges can be blithely ignored, is broken. Whether it’s the promise to keep free TV licenses or to deliver a clean Brexit, whether it’s Tories or Labour, this whole charabang has run out of road. Disaster May is just the latest and worst example of what’s been going on here for 25 years. We need to dissolve both Houses of Parliament and start again. This now deserves discussion here and elsewhere.

    It’s probably better to entertain this debate now, and pursue a People’s Vote on a radical change to our whole system – whether we become totally run by the EU, have Citizens’ Groups, “Benevolent Dictatorship, give greater power to the Monarchy, etc? We need a number of models to choose from, and coalesce around one. It has to start sometime, and the sooner the better.

    1. Rien Huizer
      January 13, 2019

      A slippery slope?

  22. Pat
    January 12, 2019

    Some years ago a group of people got together to form a party dedicated to winning enough votes to bring about our exit from the EU. Many other groups get formed to win votes for other causes. This happens because we are used to the idea that a majority decides the issue.
    If it becomes apparent that a majority doesn’t decide the issue then anyone with a cause will choose other means of furthering it. Those means may as well be seriously unpleasant.

  23. Turboterrier
    January 12, 2019

    Brilliant Sir John. One of your best. It is the sort of speach that any leader of a political party who had pride and belief in this country should have made.

  24. A.Sedgwick
    January 12, 2019

    …and yet 200 Conservative MPs voted to keep the most politically dishonest PM post WW2 in power. We have leading Remainers sayings things without any back up data just project fear over and over again and when challenged they parrot pantomine responses.

    I am unaware of any leading Remoaners putting their case as our host has done for years.

    Take the much quoted Brexit “casualty” – the car industry, it has fouled up in this country because of terrible management e.g. diesels and being too reliant on expensive involvement with the EU. This has stifled innovation and we have lost our way to the easy option of overseas domination. Less young people have driving licences than in the past, car ownership is too costly to acquire and run for increasing numbers. The industry is in for huge changes in the next 25 years but we still think churning out over complicated bulbous lumps of metal is going to continue. Living in London in the 1970s I wondered many times why have I got a car and the same goes for many urban areas now.

    One area Parliament is clearly short on is blue sky thinkers, cloudy plodders are the norm, frightened of their own skins.

  25. Alan Jutson
    January 12, 2019

    Excellent, so much common-sense, cannot understand why so many of our Mp’s want to give control over our Country to foreign powers.

    Almost unbelievable that so many of our Mp’s lack vision for the way forward when it is staring them in the face, do they really want to be part of a sovereign nation or not !
    From many of their arguments it would seem they want to give up power, not take it back and then use it for our own good.



  26. Narrow Shoulders
    January 12, 2019

    A good speech Sir John but the dogmatic pro-EU camp in the house and elsewhere will not have listened.

    Those who believe in EU membership are zealous in the conviction and treat the alter at Brussels like a religion that can not be questioned. EU agnostics and atheists will never turn then into non believers however good the argument.

    Like Sunnis and shias, Catholics and protestants Hindus and Buddhists, never the Twain shall meet.

    Unfortunately for the non believers the zealots are in charge. Time for a Luther, Calvin or Zwingli?

  27. oldwulf
    January 12, 2019

    It is now over 30 months since the referendum.

    When can we expect the mainstream media to make positive comments on leaving with no deal on 29 March rather than feed us only “challenges”.

    Amongst other things, this might go some way to restoring the balance of debate within our society and might also put Mr Grayling’s mind at rest regarding the rise in far right extremism, which has ocurred elsewhere in Europe.

  28. Adam
    January 12, 2019

    With a few followers Mrs May is digging a tunnel toward the EU in the mistaken belief it is the only way out.
    If she wastes enough time doing nothing we’ll be leaving automatically in March.

  29. Alison
    January 12, 2019

    Sir John, I heard just snippets of your excellent speech and the debate. I was outraged at Greg Clark’s failure to be concerned about the UK’s massive lack of food security.

  30. Anonymous
    January 12, 2019

    In the meantime gaol terms to be abolished below 6 months. This includes community wreckers who will now be left free to terrorise neighbours.

    The Tories always ALWAYS take the other side to their core vote.

    It truly is a party made up mainly of Newmanias and Andys.

    Never NEVER again.

  31. ian wragg
    January 12, 2019

    Morning Sir,
    I’m sorry you removed my post on the article from Brexit Central which explains in detail the objectives of the WA as written by Selmayr and Weyland . This deceitful being pushed for all it’s worth by May is a travesty to say the least.
    The article refers to a triple lock whereby the EU controls vast swathes of UK legislation and has the potential to keep us shackled indefinitely without recourse to leave.
    The only direction of travel would be to rejoin the EU on very unfavourable terms albeit better than the backstop.
    This of course is Mays objective and a total betrayal of 17.4 million voters.
    If this is ever voted through the back lash will be enormous.

  32. Atlas
    January 12, 2019

    Agreed John.

    The Withdrawal Agreement is an utter enslaving sell-out and deserves to be voted down heavily by both sides of the Leave-Remain factions.

    I also suspect the May’s actions are so that the UK can be easily reabsorbed into the EU superstate in the near future. The Minister for Prisons actually said (it rather slipped out)this in a TV programme ( I think it was the BBC Politics Live) only just a few days ago.

  33. Billy Elliot
    January 12, 2019

    There will be no 39 billion boost money. That sum will be paid during decennials. Was it until 2046. You must be aware of the time span.
    So I am wondering why do keep on repeating this nonsense Sir?

    Repky We do not owe this money and should not pay it

  34. Everhopeful
    January 12, 2019

    Excellent, excellent speech!
    It is undeniable that we have lost so much thanks to the EU..and to those politicians who have subjugated us to it.
    Among the losses are locally produced food and readily available fresh fish.
    It beggars belief that there is so much hand wringing about “childhood obesity” while at the same time subjecting children to sub standard supermarket offerings.

  35. Iain Moore
    January 12, 2019

    The Remainers never tire of telling us that a No Deal Brexit is cliff edge /crashing out. Well if we don’t have Brexit it would put our democracy on the cliff edge, and unlikely to ever be able to come back from the damage done to it.

  36. Martin Conboy
    January 12, 2019

    Sir John,
    You are quite right to point out that, with only scant weeks remaining until Brexit, shockingly the Treasury has STILL not published a schedule of tariffs with the WTO for the United Kingdom after we have left the EU. Clearly this inaction on such a crucial matter is not an oversight, it must be deliberate. The question is why. I now believe the motive is to enable the Treasury to create their relentlessly bad forecasts for the outcome to the UK if we leave without the Withdrawal Agreement. The Treasury do not publish their economic model or the assumptions they feed in to it; however I believe they are feeding their model with the risible assumption that the UK would keep all of the existing tariffs with the rest of the world, while also impose tariffs with the EU. That is how they acheive such relentlessly bad outcomes. If they publish their proposed schedule of tariffs with the WTO, that game would be up.

  37. Iain Moore
    January 12, 2019

    Sorry off message, I understand that Transport for London is hosting a load of Remain advertising for a second referendum. I was under some impression that political ads weren’t allowed in these spaces. I also gather Mayor Khan has given £20k to a Remain organisation. I also didn’t think this was allowed either, am I wrong, or is this another case of, like Bercow, they get to rewrite the rules as they go along.

  38. Captain Peacock
    January 12, 2019

    Since May started her surrender to the EU bullies it was only a matter of time after all other tricks failed that she and her cronies would just ignore the wishes of the people.
    This is what’s happening now and no amount of waffle will change that.
    When the Tories allowed her to continue as leader after her disaster at the last election this was going to be the only result.

  39. Alan Joyce
    January 12, 2019

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    One of the reasons why ministers are so reluctant to outline anything to do with what will be needed when, or sadly perhaps if, we become an independent trading nation is that they appear incapable of doing so. Frozen with fear. Terrified of the consequences of decisions they may have to make. Paralysed with panic. Running scared of upsetting our ‘European friends and partners’.

    So they wait and wait and hope that Brexit would just go away.

    Announce new tariffs on European food production? The Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would be trembling in his shoes as he did so. Where are the plans for rebuilding our fishing industry and landing more of our own fish as we become an independent coastal nation? If there are any, the Minister dare not spell them out in case he upsets foreign fishermen.

    Ministers have become too accustomed to the EU doing things for them. They have become emasculated. (No) bollocks to quote Mr. Gove.

  40. agrictola
    January 12, 2019

    So now May is saying my deal or no Brexit, pure propaganda. Leaving ln 29th March is a factor of Article 50. It is not practical to extend it though technically possible.
    Doing so and immediately going into WTO rules gives business the certainty it needs as opposed to years of uncertainty while some new trading arrangement is sorted out. Most large companies already deal on both EU and WTO terms so rest assured that the fuss that some of them are making is nothing to do with trading terms. It is all to do with control of the market.
    It also means:-
    1. We can set up trade deals around the World with whom we please from 30th March 2019.
    2. We can establish our own fishing policy within our own territorial waters from same date.
    3. Likewise our own agricultural policy.
    4. We do not pay £39 billion for nothing.
    5. We do not pay for whatever the EU may demand for any transition period of undefined length.
    I cannot think of any action more likely to bring a sense of realism to the EU. The only sop we should offer the EU is an agreement to those parts of the WA that are of mutual benefit. I am thinking of citizens rights, travel,airline operation etc. It would be a lesson to the EU in how to negotiate in good faith.

  41. Den
    January 12, 2019

    Amen to that.
    Is Mrs May playing a game here? I do wonder what are her motives for pressing for an Agreement that ends up putting Britain in an inferior position to that of being Member of the EU. A situation the People voted to LEAVE.

  42. formula57
    January 12, 2019

    Very well said. It is a disgrace that your words are needed at all, especially at this late stage.

    I hope the quislings and their collaborators pay a high price in due course.

  43. fedupsoutherner
    January 12, 2019

    This is the kind of speech I would expect from our PM. Instead we get the same old lines and lies. The people are becoming more angry at the behaviour of MP’s at the moment. They are all out for their own ends and are not thinking of the country. Contemptible. They are like Remainiacs, don’t want to listen to any alternative and instead think it’s ok to give us a compromise in case it upset the remainers who lost the vote. What a mess they have created and some of it intentional. My MP will be a Leaver but will lose my vote because of the stance of the Conservative party.

  44. Newmania
    January 12, 2019

    John Redwoods plan to make some food more expensive will hit the poor and families on a budget disproportionately , some of them will be in the regions worst affected by Brexit blight getting both barrels. No doubt he will complain that his Heath Robinson scheme to recycle tariffs deployed all would be well but …well word frankly fail me .
    This is not reality even if it made economic sense which it does not. Is this really the level ? God help us

    Reply Try reading what I said. I am proposing cutting the current rate of tariff we have to impose on food by the EU

  45. The Prangwizard
    January 12, 2019

    There was some good food news the other day. A vast climate controlled greenhouse is almost complete in Suffolk which will produce millions of tomatoes when fully operating.

  46. Denis Cooper
    January 12, 2019

    “Well done during the debate today, JR, because I had watched several MPs following Michael Gove by harping on about the problems our farmers might face in exporting produce to the EU over the EU’s tariff wall, and until you spoke nobody mentioned the basic fact that we run a massive trade deficit in food with the EU … ”

    As above, with George Freeman intervening to say: “This is a £3.15 billion industry facing a very serious tariff threat”, while ignoring the massive £2o billion a year trade deficit in food that we have with the EU.

    We see this again and again, not just with food and drink but with other goods including cars where we import far more from the EU than we export to them. It is almost as if the whole UK government has somehow been infiltrated and taken over by exporters to the EU, who are about 6% of all UK businesses, exporting about 12% of UK GDP. And even worse under Theresa May’s rubbish ‘deal’ we would have the whole of the country and its economy still subject to swathes of EU laws in perpetuity, supposedly so that just 0.1% of UK GDP can still be driven across the Irish land border without Irish customs stopping and checking trucks. In any case, what would they be checking for?

  47. Newmania
    January 12, 2019

    Btw- Yet more on fishing . UK catch £1bn . The largest contributor to the exchequer by sector is Insurance about which no-one cares although it is a huge employer including in John Redwood`s constituency where fishing figures somewhat less.

  48. Edwardm
    January 12, 2019

    A good speech, urging on the positive opportunities Brexit gives us.
    And a good example to other MPs – much needed by some.

  49. Mike Stallard
    January 12, 2019

    It is not about tariffs.
    It is about standards.
    It is about checking standards.
    It is about who judges disputes.
    The EU has decided that it does all this. Not us. Therefore everything is going to have to be checked at Calais. That means huge hold-ups and complete chaos on 30th March this year. 76 days’ time.
    The EU is going to be a foreign, and indeed slightly hostile country after that.
    If the MPs do nothing, then this will come about automatically: the EU decides what comes into the EU and what goes out. Not parliament.

    Reply Its about trade and Calais wants it to work well

  50. Yorkie
    January 12, 2019

    Ah yes Defence. Some Yorkshire soldiers are, I speak literally, up to the shoulderblades in a very iced Estonian lake…training…yes.
    Doubt if it’ll cool them down. But it will be talking point amongst the ranks.

  51. Cheshire Girl
    January 12, 2019

    I listened to that speech too, and I noted that the House was quiet while you spoke, without the usual chat and racket going on in the background. Obviously they thought that you were worth listening to. Wise words indeed.

    I have noticed the same reaction from the House when Jacob Rees Mogg gets up to speak. You dont hear the usual platitudes, and it is obvious that he knows whatof he speaks. Many could learn from the calm and reasoned tone that you, and Jacob adopt. It is unnecessary to shout and jeer.

    1. Adam
      January 12, 2019

      With high quality content both JR & JRM achieve traction.

  52. Steve
    January 12, 2019

    John Redwood;

    “…..and thinking that we can go back over the referendum debate and decision because it did not like the answer.”

    Exactly !

    The same stunt was pulled in Eire with their 2nd referendum on adopting the Euro. Voters there were not astute enough to realise the swindle.

    We’re not so trusting of politicians.

    1. margaret howard
      January 12, 2019


      “The same stunt was pulled in Eire with their 2nd referendum on adopting the Euro. Voters there were not astute enough to realise the swindle”

      Only after their concerns had been listened to and the treaty amended.

      Brexiteers seem very fond of quoting half truths or distortions.

      1. Steve
        January 12, 2019

        Margaret Howard

        Still a cheap stunt though.

        1. Steve
          January 12, 2019

          Margaret Howard

          And speaking of distortions; Aircraft will not fly, crippling queues at Dover, life critical medicines will not arrive, all businesses will go bankrupt, supermarkets will run out of food.

          You were saying about half truths and distortions coming from brexiteers ?

  53. Lynn Atkinson
    January 12, 2019

    You speak for Britain Sir John! Well done good and faithful servant!

  54. Lindsay McDougall
    January 12, 2019

    Right on. And what’s encouraging is that you were only interrupted once, enabling you to get your message across. The BBC are not so kind to you and the other Brexiteers. Andrew Marr is notorious for interrupting Brexiteers.

    1. JoolsB
      January 12, 2019

      And that odious Adam Boulton. I can’t bear to watch him constantly interrupting anyone who is pro Brexit.

  55. BR
    January 12, 2019

    Although everything in the speech is true and logical, I fear that the ‘debate’ in Parliament will not change anyone’s opinion.

    Debates these days are no more than a public airing of position; an attempt to sway the opinions of the masses, largely the uninformed rather than something that is done in the expectation of changing anyone’s mind in the HoC.

    I see many voices in favour of the WA out of fear of no Brexit. The reason I would rather have no Brexit than the WA is simply because the war is not over on 29/3, any successful or partially attempt to derail Brexit will mean that the fight continues, whereas accepting the WA is a much more difficult defeat to come back from (if it’s as bad as we fear then the change may be to re-join rather than to exit fully).

    Having a referendum result in the bag for Brexit to happen is a powerful weapon if no Brexit occurs. It needs only a parliament in favour of Brexit to execute that mandate without further recourse.

    yes that may not be easy to achieve, but a god start would be to empower the associations in MP selection (and de-selection) so that they can be recalled if they decide top pretend to be pro Brexit and then do something else, as Soubry, Grieve etc have done.

    I would be interested to hear JR’s opinion as to the feasibility and desirability of such a move.

  56. John Hatfield
    January 12, 2019

    “They were promised that this Parliament would get on with the task,” by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron who promptly jumped ship.
    I have often wondered did he fall or was he pushed. Pushed by the same people who installed Theresa May. Nasty (big) business.

  57. George Dunnett
    January 12, 2019

    Dominic Grieve was award the Legion d’honneur in November 2016!

    Funny that!!

    1. Iain Moore
      January 12, 2019

      Soubry, Grieve and three Labour MPs called in on Barnier on Friday. I can only presume it was a strategy meeting.

      1. Steve
        January 12, 2019

        Iain Moore

        It’s called collusion, conspiracy, and corruption.

    2. forthurst
      January 12, 2019

      I have a problem with people whose ancestry determines their loyalties; if Grieve likes France so much he should go and live there, not try to keep us English as vassals of the French.

    3. Steve
      January 12, 2019

      George Dunnett

      “Dominic Grieve was award the Legion d’honneur in November 2016!”

      Yep, that sounds about right.

      But you need to be careful mentioning facts about MP’s, even if they are already in the public domain and published by the HoC itself.

      Citing officially published facts about an MP is seen as a personal attack, depending of course which particular MP is the subject.

      1. BR
        January 12, 2019

        Which law are you quoting, Steve?

        And which cases show that it has been used as you claim?

  58. Steve Pitts
    January 12, 2019

    Apparently the EU don’t want us to take part in the European elections so may only allow Article 50 delay to just before the end of May. That means no time to organise another referendum. We either leave before end of May with or without agreement or remain. Remaining requires primary legislation. But will many Labour MPs abstain or support the deal if given incentives? How about a general election before the end of the year? Workers rights. Customs union. Whatever it takes?

  59. Original Richard
    January 12, 2019

    The Withdrawal Agreement locks us permanently into the CM/SM/ECJ by allowing the EU to decide upon the end date of the transition as well as forcing us to accept additional future directives, rules and regulations over which we have no control and are highly likely to be unfavourable to our country. Some of the clauses are even asymmetrical and thus highly injurious to our businesses never mind the ending of our democracy and freedom.

    The following trade treaty requires unanimity and hence every EU country would be able to hold up our leaving until they had obtained all the advantages they wanted from the UK.

    Mrs. May wishes to sign up the UK to EU defence institutions, meaning continued vast annual payments to Brussels and giving away control over major aspects of defence and foreign policy.

    If Mrs. May and her Conservative Party remain MPs continue with their current policy, not only will the Conservative Party be held responsible for not respecting the largest mandate in our history but will be considered by the electorate to be responsible for the ensuing political and social turmoil as we become more and more unhappy with our loss of sovereignty and freedom while bound by decisions made by the EU over which we have no say.

  60. M Davis
    January 12, 2019

    Bravo, Sir John Redwood! – and thank you!

  61. Original Richard
    January 12, 2019

    The French Gilets Jaunes protestations may have started over a hefty increase in fuel tax.

    But its longevity is due to the fact that a substantial number of people in France are not happy with the way they are governed and are predominately against a tax system perceived as unfair and unjust, although there are numerous grievances and differences of opinion.

    Gilets Jaunes protesters are composed of both left and right wing activists who feel they have no say in the governance of France.

    If our remainer Parliament either cancels Brexit or signs us up to Mrs. May’s vassal status deal then we can expect such social and political turmoil in the UK as directives, rules, laws and taxes perceived as unfair and unjust are decided in Brussels.

  62. rose
    January 12, 2019

    This was a speech which stood right out: it was spoken from the head and from the heart, and it got it all in. Very well done. Especially the bit about landlocked Wokingham. The economists will never allow us to mind about the fishing industry, even though we have always minded about it. They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from the days of Heath when it was decided fishing didn’t count as an important part of our island nation and its history.

  63. mancunius
    January 12, 2019

    Well said, Sir John. You can’t remind your colleagues often enough that the prosperity of our country outside the EU will depend on sensible domestic policies, as the excellent Alexander Downer reminded us when he was here as Australian High Commissioner.
    And also, in articles he has written since then – e.g.:
    “There is a wealth of opportunities Britain could seize outside the EU, whereas if the UK were to stay in the EU, the EU would negotiate trade agreements on Britain’s behalf. Those agreements, if they could be concluded at all, wouldn’t be designed just for the UK; they would have to suit all the other 27 countries of the EU, and we know their interests are often very different from Britain’s.
    “The EU sees Brexit as a threat. It fears a liberated Britain would steal a competitive advantage over the EU and that investment, as well as trade, would flow more to Britain’s shores than the EU’s. That, ultimately, is why the EU wants to keep Britain in the customs union.
    “It would be better to crash out of the EU than be locked indefinitely in the single market and the customs union.”

  64. VotedOut
    January 13, 2019

    The last 2 years has shown that our Parlimentary system is completely bust.

    Some MP’s are clueless over what they themselves voted for…

    The public has seen laid bare what utterly useless small people we have in untouchable positions of power.

    They talk in serious tones utter nonsense while trousering money and favours. Those that are worthly of the role and uphold their promises and the will of the people are few indeed.

    This will not end well

  65. Andrew Smith
    January 13, 2019

    I suspect Sir John meant to say we are huge net importers not exporters and that is the reason (among others) why a tariff schedule is urgently needed. The failure to publish it allows Remain to make claims that are clearly wrong and one must question the motivation of the government in this, as many other issues; it cannot all be down to incompetence.

  66. A different Simon
    January 13, 2019

    Quote re food “Our domestic market share has plunged seriously during the time we have been in the European Union. I think it was well over 90% in 1972 when we entered, and it is now well under 70%. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot get back there.” unquote .

    except UK population has grown 40% between 1972 and 2018 …..

    Moral of the story : we should not be importing yet more cheap labour when we can nowhere near feed ourselves .

    1. Edward2
      January 14, 2019

      So what?
      We can grow more food in the UK if we wish once we are free of the dreadful CAP policy.

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