The shackles of the single market and customs union

Being the UK’s Single Market Minister during an intense period of EU legislating when they said they were “completing”the single market turned me from a mild sceptic to a strong critic of the undemocratic approach of the EU. It was quite clear watching and listening to the EU officials during that period that their aim was to take more and more powers of self determination away from member states in the name of the single market. All you needed for a sigle market was the rule that a product of merchandisable quality in one country could be offered for sale in another with suitable labels.

They had a doctrine of the occupied field. Everytime they put forward a regulation or Directive in a new area it meant they established competence or power over that area. Quite often the first piece of legislation did little and was unexceptional. The reason was they merely wanted to capture the jurisdiction without at first using the power in ways that alarmed or upset. That came later, once competence was established.

My job was offen a negative one. The UK government wanted the single market, but also often wanted to resist bad or needless legislation in its name. It was also the case that often the draft regulation was based on a Franco German way of conducting business, and not on a UK way where that was different. I then had to argue for a change of draft to stop UK businesses being made to change their model or being declared illegal.

All this should worry the present government about the Withdrawal agreement. If the UK signed that as currently drafted there would be no UK vote, voice or veto on any law the EU wanted to pass in all the areas of its competence. That means that every business sector and company in the UK would face a prolonged period when the EU might deliberately or inadvertently legislate in ways that damaged their business models with us being unable to stop them.

Why don’t the UK business bodies raise this issue? Why don’t they raise the problems for our car industry created by the attack on diesels, car loans and the costs of purchase? UK industry has suffered from past EU regulations and taxes, and could be made to suffer more.


  1. Peter Wood
    February 18, 2019

    Good morning,

    Apologies Sir John, off topic, but Mrs. May’s letter to you and Tory MP’s has my blood boiling!

    Mrs. May’s next attempt to deceive Parliament?

    We are hearing that the government is seeking an ‘alternative way’ to resolving the unacceptable Backstop provisions in the WA, and that the eminent Mr. Cox is being brought in to advise on the legality/efficacy of any such alternative, to that of removing the Backstop from the WA altogether. Well, what is the purpose; to get Mr. Cox to stand up in Parliament and state that ‘in his opinion’ the Addendum, side-letter, codicil or whatever fudge May can obtain, is adequate protection for the UK and eliminates the Backstop problem. THAT WILL NOT DO. We should know by now that whenever there is any dispute about legal terms set in front of the ECJ, that could disadvantage the political EU, then the ECJ will rule in favour of the EU, that is it’s purpose.

    The ONLY way to eliminate the risk of the Backstop is to remove it from the WA
    Mrs. May’s letter to MP’s is cynical, hypocritical and disingenuous. Her ‘deal’ is NOT the best possible deal – it is worse than our current arrangements. Her approach to the EU has been wrong from the outset.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2019

      Indeed as you say:- Mrs. May’s letter to MP’s is cynical, hypocritical and disingenuous. Her ‘deal’ is NOT the best possible deal – it is worse than our current arrangements. Her approach to the EU has been wrong from the outset.

      Well this is what you get when you choose a remainer, a socialist and a disingenuous robotic dope as leader. This thanks to Gove’s knifing of Boris and the dire quality of many Tory MPs.

      Yet still 200 Tory MPs still have confidence in tax and regulate to death dope it seems, but why?

      1. Hope
        February 18, 2019

        May is in collusion with the EU and has been since 2017, not negotiation. The idiotic Tory MPs happy to watch and give her repeated chances. Tory associations happy to be taken for idiots by their remain fanatic MPs who have used and abused them, acted against their wishes and do not believe in what their supporters campaigned and raised money for them to get them elected! These MPs, Letwin, Grieve, Soubry, Clarkes, Hammond’s, Wollaston etc not even trying to justify why they are acting in stark contrast to the manifesto- what they stood to be elected on- or act and speak in stark contrast that they would honour the referendum result!

        Greece and Italy had coups to thwart them citing against the EU or leaving it. Letwin openly saying the same sort of thing! Why has May not taken any disciplinary action against Letwin or Clarke? Might it be they are good friends as Letwin claimed?

      2. mancunius
        February 18, 2019

        One thing I noticed, towards the top of the letter: “”the motion that was passed on 29 January – that the UK should leave the EU with a deal”

        But no, there was no such motion. The Brady Amendment required the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements” and said the House would support the Withdrawal Agreement “subject to this change”.
        Brady made it clear in introducing his motion: “I will oppose the amendments that seek to delay the article 50 process and those that might rule out some of the options”.

        Now May is trying to give the impression the HoC voted against no-deal, even though her own attempt to pass such a motion was (quite rightly) struck down.

        Are there any limits to her duplicitousness?

    2. zorro
      February 18, 2019

      The whole approach has been consistently cynical!

      If she thinks that the advice/histrionics of the ’eminent’ Geoffrey “What are you doing!” Cox will convince anyone with an enquiring mind of the alleged ‘efficacy’ of her fudge to get her WA through, she is clearly dreaming. He was clear in what he published of his legal advice in November that the backstop could endure indefinitely.

      There is no way that the EU would voluntarily let us out of it, because they have us where they want us. No vote rule taker trapped in the SM/CU – job done. Sabine Weyland has been clear – it will be the basisi for any future deal – compliance with SM/CU regulations and see how many trade deals you can sign then!


      1. Lifelogic
        February 18, 2019


    3. Stred
      February 18, 2019

      Lawyers are like PR professionals. They will take any case and argue that black is white providing they are well paid. Professional etc There are exceptions but they are rare. Judges, being lawyers, appreciate a well made case and will rule in favour of black is white if they like the cut of a counsel’s jib. They also know the value of a contentious judgement, as an appeal and counter appeal brings in the wonga. It would be a better world if lawyers were banned from parliament. Grieve, Sobry, Brokenshire, Starmer, Lady Whitevanman, and all the others. Hundreds of them.

      1. margaret
        February 18, 2019

        strongly agree

      2. Lifelogic
        February 18, 2019

        Indeed, in Japan they sensible manage with about 1/10 of the number of Lawyers in essence are largely parasitic producing little of value. Our expensive, slow, multi level (of in conflict themselves) and often arbitrary legal system and the absurdly complex tax system augment parasitic activity and cuts UK productivity and efficiency hugely.

        We cannot all just argue about ownership of wealth and assets, some people have to create the wealth in the first place.

      3. rose
        February 18, 2019

        Bill Cash is OK. So is Dominic Raab. And Michael Howard. Mrs T was a lawyer, as well as a chemist. Geoffrey Howe did alright to begin with, and his nephew is doing splendidly.

        1. rose
          February 18, 2019

          And how could I have forgotten Mrs Foster and Mr Dodds?

    4. Ian wragg
      February 18, 2019

      Mrs May desperately wants to retain the Backstop as this fullfills her promise to big business to keep us in the EU.
      The WA is worse than membership so a future can tell the country it’s more beneficial to rejoin.
      The fact that by any metric the EU is failing means nothing to the likes of May and Hammond.
      As for todays post we all know how It works.
      Someone in Brussels flies a kite. Government tells us it’s not going to happen. Next thing it’s being debated in Brussels and before you know it QMV and its the law.
      No meaningful vote, just straight onto the statute book.
      This will the same if we accept Vassal statehood with the WA. Will parliament get a vote on all the EU legislation designed to destroy us. No, thought not.

      1. Ian wragg
        February 18, 2019

        Over 100,000 joined the Brexit Party and rising.
        Tory membership 124,000.
        Watch your back Mrs May.

    5. Know-Dice
      February 18, 2019

      Agreed, unity on HER terms…

      The WA even without the “Backstop” is a pile of steaming xxxx.

      I would go so far in saying that the WA is worse than cancelling Article 50, how can ANY Conservative MP with half a brain NOT see that?

      1. L Jones
        February 18, 2019

        Of course they can see it. Not even their obvious self-interest is blinding them. They know EXACTLY what they are doing to their party AND to the UK, and that’s why they are truly unforgivable.

        1. Peter Wood
          February 18, 2019

          Link your comment with that of Ian Wragg above ref membership; if Tories don’t regain their direction (find a Conservative Leader) and become a true conservative Party then they’ll be gone.

    6. Leslie Singleton
      February 18, 2019

      Dear Peter–Agreed–Mrs May apparently cannot grasp that, granted that “a” (suitable) deal might well be a good idea,”her” (scarcely believable) “deal” is very much not. Does she think that Tory MP’s are complete fools (Sometimes I think they might be). What she is now saying amounts to “any” deal being OK, no matter how atrocious, which is preposterous.

    7. bigneil
      February 18, 2019

      Agreed with every word Peter – but I wouldn’t have been so polite.

    8. Hope
      February 18, 2019

      Barnier said at the outset make e deal so bad that it is better to remain. Most sensible people would walk away if there no possibility of change, not keep going back and say pretty please!

      Leaving was never May’s or Robbins game. Look at Davis, Baker and others evidence before European Scrutiny Committee. You reach the conclusion May was underhand and dishonest and never had any intention of leaving but to bounce her cabinet and party to servitude whether they wanted it or not. Hammond happy to provide scare stories to pursued even the ill informed. May had the chance of a free trade deal with the EU offered by the EU she rejected it!

      Come on you Tory associations get rid of Letwin, Clarkes, Hammonds, Soubry, Gauke, Rudd, Grieve, Wollaston etc. They abused your trust to raise funds for them, leaflet drop and campaign for them to be elected and now say they do not believe in what you Campaigned for to get them elected! Soubry wanted to be in a new party, Grieve threatened to collapse Govt! Give them their wish, oust them. Your alternative is making your party an irrelevance. They will not care as some are already leaving.

      Tory associations need to stand up and state they will suspend all support for their remain fanatic MPs until replaced with a person of their choice not a small group to select one from approved by CCHQ.

      Good to read today Wollaston association having an extraordinary meeting to oust her, she is not moderate, as she is trying to claim on twitter, at all but an EU fanatic acting against what she stood on to be elected. Oust her. Alan Duncan facing no confid nice, quite right. He said voting to leave the EU was a working class tantrum! What a pompous arse! Get rid of him, another EU fanatic.

    9. Bob
      February 18, 2019

      @Peter Wood

      “cynical, hypocritical and disingenuous.”

      You’ve summed her up in three words.

      1. Peter
        February 18, 2019

        Other words could be added, none of them complimentary.

        In mitigation, she is a shining example of how to climb to the top of the greasy pole with no demonstrable talent or admirable personality traits. She is also very good at clinging to power.

    10. Dennis Zoff
      February 18, 2019


      “Her ‘deal’ is NOT the best possible deal”

      This is an understatement by an order of magnitude! Those that have taken the trouble to read the depressing “cunning” fine detail of the WA are left in no doubt this is the most diabolical agreement ever to be concocted by Westminster behind the backs of the UK citizens.

      Tacitly, though it must be again reiterated, the WA has the grubby hands of the contemptible EU all over it. The Backstop is a red herring. We all understand the real purpose of this unfolding Machiavellian charade. The Backstop is being used as cynical leverage to force or inveigle the MPs to sign off the WA.

      T. May must not be allowed to instigate a political tragedy that will have dire consequences for the British people for another 40+ years!

    11. DragonD
      February 18, 2019

      Peter Wood..the WA has been negotiated agreed by the EU and 28 governments and signed off, now it only needs to be ratified by parliament. Looking at the fragmented state of Uk Politics from the outside there is now not a snowballs chance in hell that the EU will agree to opening this whole thing up again. If we leave without ratification then there will surely be great difficulties going forward and we will have to live with the consequences? but that is what we voted for

      1. Leslie Singleton
        February 18, 2019

        Dear Dragon–Talking about “the consequences” is not much cop till you try to distinguish the very very significant differences between consequences that are serious maybe but nevetheless merely short term and those that are as eternal as anything gets on this Earth. Like many others I simply detest everything about the EU and this may be our only chance to get out.

    12. Peter
      February 18, 2019

      The initial post and the replies all concentrate on how bad the Withdrawal Agreement is and how it must be rejected – backstop, or no backstop. I do think this is now the key issue . It must not be lost sight of.

      Whatever happens, anything will be better than the Withdrawal Agreement. Prepare for a long game if May goes for more delay.

    13. Peter
      February 18, 2019

      Meanwhile, seven dwarfs resign from the Labour Party. No indication that any of them will do the honourable thing and resign their seats as well though.

      Nigel Farage is bang on the money in describing this as ‘realignment’. The seven say they are not joining the Lib Dems, so presumably they will look to create a new party. I imagine a similar event may occur in the Conservative Party in due course, especially when deselection looms. Interesting times…

      1. Lifelogic
        February 19, 2019

        Apart from Chuka perhaps, no one even knows their names or faces. They are just daft Libdems in essence. So why bother with another new party? We already know that the Libdems (pro remain, tax to death open door immigration, greencrap lefties) have very little support.

        Why the name “Independent”? They clearly want to be under the control of the anti-democratic EU. But then the Libdems have a satirical name too being neither Liberal nor Democratic.

  2. Mark B
    February 18, 2019

    Good morning.

    . . . their aim was to take more and more powers of self determination away from member states . . .

    That is what EVER CLOSER UNION means but few really understand its significance. The aim is to create a single unified State under the ever watchful power of the Civil Service of each member country coordinated and controlled from Brussels. Into this comes big corporate business which can influence both legislation and, spending.

    . . . regulation was based on a Franco German way of conducting business . . .

    Well of course it would. France and Germany finally realised that neither could rule Europe so, they used the concept created by Jean Monnet and Sir Arthur Salter (the EU) as a means to share it between themselves. How is it that every member has to sell off, usually to German or French owners, and they do not ? What is the point of the UK privatising its utilities only for French and German government owned ones to buy them ? We’ve been conned by those two for the last 40 odd years. It all started when they demanded as a precondition of us joining that we handed over our fishing grounds. That was never an EEC competence BEFORE we joined only at the point of us joining. That is why to me and many others we are determined to get them back.

  3. Helena
    February 18, 2019

    UK business bodies have raised this issue, repeatedly. They have made clear they want to stay in the single market, our biggest source of trade. There is no future in the UK going it alone

    1. Stred
      February 18, 2019

      The UK business bodies that Helena is representing are CBI /EU business bodies that rely on EU regulation and tariffs in order to boost their profits and enormous CEO salaries.

      1. Tad Davison
        February 18, 2019

        In other words a rigged protection racket that favours the corporatist elites and disadvantages SMEs. No wonder the CBI loves the EU so much.

      2. John Hatfield
        February 18, 2019

        Trade within the EU, I understand is tariff free. So effectively the taxpayer who pays EU contributions of circa £10 billion pa, pays the multi-nationals’ tariffs.
        It is said that on leaving total tariffs would come to £5 billion pa. So currently we are paying £10 billion to save £5 billion.
        But you can see why big-business doesn’t want to quit the EU. As Mark Knopfler sang, money for nothing, chicks for free.

    2. Adam
      February 18, 2019

      Immobile bodies are unhealthy.
      Ours moves to Take back Control with a fitness regime to thrive in the world.

    3. zorro
      February 18, 2019

      Of course, there is a future! There is no growth in the EU. Growth over the next decades will be in emerging markets, where our trade is positive and growing as opposed to struggling with the EU and eternal trade deficits. A lot of our exports (new technology) are highly marketable in non-EU markets.


    4. Anonymous
      February 18, 2019

      An interesting juncture in our history.

      Do we ignore a large section of voters (on at least one day, a majority) and take notice of business bodies ?

      This is a sincere question.

      It may well be correct that we should have accepted the supremacy of the Commission and the ECJ and uncontrolled immigration because the alternative is poverty.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        February 18, 2019

        Dear Anon–There is little if any substance in what you have just written–It can in my view be more sensibly argued as you say but with “incorrect” replacing your “correct”. Why oh why are we to end up in poverty by trading with the (growing, and with a long way to go) rest of the World, all of whom speak English just for starters? The EU may well implode in the near future and one way to avoid poverty is not to be party to it.

        1. Anonymous
          February 19, 2019

          *If* we get Brexit then I’d agree.

          I’d rather have stayed plugged obliviously into the Matrix otherwise.

      2. Kevin Lohse
        February 18, 2019

        That particular argument, loss of self determination being preferable to loss of material comfort, is based in Marxist materialism. No true Conservative should give it more than a moment’s thought before rejecting it out of hand

    5. Know-Dice
      February 18, 2019

      our biggest source of trade

      40% of overseas trade and falling…

      And a tiny percentage of the UK’s overall trade.

    6. oldwulf
      February 18, 2019

      Hi Helena

      You have made a huge leap from “They have made clear they want to stay in the single market” …. to … “There is no future in the UK going it alone”.

      We would all like a single market (although not necessarily “the” single market), but not at any price.

      I do not believe that UK business is as incompetent as you infer. The future will be what we make it to be.

      1. John Hatfield
        February 18, 2019


        1. oldwulf
          February 19, 2019

          Thank you 🙂

    7. bigneil
      February 18, 2019

      And what would be the future of the UK of staying in? Ever increasing daily contributions? our population “controlled” by Brussels telling Africa and Asia that once they get ANYWHERE into Europe, they can all move to England, where absolutely free lives will be provided at the taxpayer’s expense, for no work or contribution whatsoever? The UK would die within a decade. Germany would be ecstatic – their job done – revenge for two wars where they failed to rule Europe. Third time lucky?

      1. Richard
        February 18, 2019

        EU contribution budget is on a 7 yr cycle. 2014-2020 contributions went down. The next cycle hasnt been set yet.
        We haven’t taken any African or Asian migrants as we refused to help out the rest of the EU.
        We are not in the Schengen area. No one can just move to UK.
        EU immigrants must have a job or can be sent home after 3 months.
        Your Germanophobic attitude is just pathetic.

    8. L Jones
      February 18, 2019

      ”No future in going it alone”. You really don’t do much research. And you obviously haven’t understood the import of our host’s words. Perhaps you don’t care much about our country’s independence from the dystopia that is the EU so long as your bank balance doesn’t suffer, if you indeed have a vested interest in remaining. There are many ”UK business bodies” who don’t wish to stay in the single market. Or perhaps you don’t think much beyond trade and haven’t considered that our children would be expected to be part of the EU’s military aspirations. Or perhaps you don’t care, with an ”I’m all right, Jack” attitude.

      Do you honestly think that the UK remaining part of your EU is somehow the maintenance of what you imagine is the status quo? Its stated objective of ”ever closer union” doesn’t suggest to you some sort of change, then. And changes not only relating to trade.

    9. libertarian
      February 18, 2019


      The actual facts are that the real businesses that make up the membership of those organisations supported leave by 63%

      Oh and just to show your ignorance of trade the single market is just 9% of trade. 86% of our economic activity is in SERVICES and there isn’t an internal market in services

      Keep drinking the Kool-Aid

    10. Jagman84
      February 18, 2019

      Many of the large UK businesses are overseas owned and wish the status quo, of selling overpriced goods to us for massive profits, to continue. Small businesses wish to escape the red tape that these big businesses impose on them, through lobbying the EU commission.

    11. Bob
      February 18, 2019

      Are you suggesting that the desires of business owners should trump a democratic vote? She we give them two votes each, or twenty or a hundred?

      Of should their votes be related to their wealth?

      xxx is very wealthy.

      1. Bob
        February 18, 2019

        Mr Redwood
        What is wrong with my mentioning the name of err…the person who funds Open Society?

        Any chance you could include some guidelines for contributors on a separate page tab so that we have a better idea of what is allowed, who can be named and who can’t?

    12. Nick
      February 18, 2019

      No, large businesses have because they buy legislation from a thoroughly corrupt EU commission. Most business has no dealings with the EU apart from expensive, unaccountable, often irrelevant compliance.

      Simply put, the UK’s future lies entirely away from the EU. Every nation’s does. The EU is a failure, a massive barrier to trade with trade being nothing more than a weapon of political control for the EU.

      Quite simply, we will not be ‘going it alone’, we will be trading globally. The exact opposite to your scaremongering nonsense, helena.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 18, 2019


    13. Den
      February 18, 2019

      Of course big corporations want us to stay in the EU. The EU systematically stifles their competition much to the detriment of the British consumers. Just around 10% of our total number of exporters actually sell to the EU. And exports to the EU have been declining year on years for decades (eg 56% 2006 – 44% 2017) . Our biggest source of trade is with the Rest of the World as around 56% of our exports are sent there, plus another 2% that is the ‘Rotterdam Effect’. We export to Rotterdam to be loaded onto container vessels to be shipped out the the RoTW. So that figure really should be included as RoTW but as is the norm, the EU fiddles it to make themselves look better than they really are.

    14. James
      February 18, 2019

      Helena, your statement “There is no future in the UK going it alone” is out loud laughable. How on earth do you think Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and a host of other countries that are wealthier than us manage to “go it alone”. For goodness sake get a sense of proportion. Most of the world isn’t in the EU, and most are doing a lot better than most of the EU.

      1. Peter Parsons
        February 18, 2019

        Norway, Switzerland and Singapore are “going it alone” by being part of larger trading blocs.

    15. oldwulf
      February 18, 2019

      Hi Helena

      Your short post seems to have generated a large number of replies.

      Well done !

    16. Denis Cooper
      February 18, 2019

      That’s the EU Single Market which has added about 1% to our GDP, but at added costs several times greater than that very marginal benefit.

  4. Dougal Hamer
    February 18, 2019

    A “Franco German way of conducting business” – what on earth is that? Such nonsense. All you are telling us here is that you weren’t very good at arguing Britain’s corner

    Repky I usually achieved the UK’s aims in the negotiations, but often started from a text drafted on a non UK basis by the Commission. For example, the French and German market making and trading system was very different to the London obe when I was responding to their proposed EU regs

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      February 18, 2019

      Have you ever run a business or even dealt in continental Europe and the US?

      I realised in my early 20s that doing business in Paris required a whole different outlook and approach to doing the same thing in New York. London is great because we understand both, but lean naturally to the Anglo Saxon model rather than the Franco-German one. Let’s help the City keep it that way!

      1. margaret
        February 18, 2019

        We need an Anglo -Franco way of doing business: if France were ever allowed to be free as we want.

        1. margaret
          February 19, 2019

          Perhaps the French should fill the gap Honda will be making in 2022

    2. Richard1
      February 18, 2019

      A few other examples:-
      – make bogus claims regarding food safety to keep out competitive products front the US and elsewhere
      – promote diesel which produces noxious gases on the ludicrous grounds it might lower CO2, albeit killing a few thousand on the way
      – not extending the single market to most services apart from financial passporting
      – the ridiculous regulation of pay in banks, which has forced up fixed costs making banks more risky, in attempt to attack ‘Anglo saxon capitalism’
      – the damaging proposed transaction tax.

      Of course there are many others

      The point is you can say we should be in the EU and have a chance to shape or veto these foolish measures, that is a legitimate argument, but it lost at the referendum. What there is no case for is being subject to these and many other & future regs with no ability to alter or prevent them.

      1. Richard1
        February 18, 2019

        You can come up with an exhaustive list here, but I should at least also have mentioned the whole absurd panoply Of green taxes and other green crap, which as pointed out by the great industrial entrepreneur Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has halved the EU’s global share of the $4tr chemicals industry (for no environmental benefit).

        1. Richard1
          February 18, 2019

          Sorry, Can’t come up with an exhaustive list here!

    3. L Jones
      February 18, 2019

      Comment with insult = comment from remainer

      Has it ever occurred to you, Mr Hamer, that you can argue your point (whatever it is) without being disrespectful?

    4. Man of Kent
      February 18, 2019

      The Continental rules system is that nothing is allowed unless specifically permitted .
      Our system is founded on common law so that everything is permitted unless specifically excluded .

      The Napoleonic system says ‘you cannot put coffee grounds in your garden as a slug deterrent ‘

      Ours says ‘ yes of course you can put out coffee grounds because we have not banned this practice ‘

      Simple .

      1. Adam
        February 18, 2019

        Yes; our method is much better.

    5. rose
      February 18, 2019

      “but often started from a text drafted on a non UK basis by the Commission.” And so it has continued: the text of the DWA looks as if it is French legalese. Why no input from us? Hopeless question to which the answer must be, because you weren’t there, just Treason and Ollie.

  5. Dominic
    February 18, 2019

    This PM’s a threat to our nation and our freedoms. I believe her pandering to the EU, pandering to minority rights activist in the name of tolerance (imposing silence) and her total capitulation to all things liberal left is leading this country and its citizens into a dark future

    I can see behind her smile and what I see is a hatred for all that is conservative

    Tories want their country returned and their party returned to its rightful owner

    We are weary of inaction on this leader. It isn’t good enough to moan about her liberal left bigotry. We want her replaced with a proper Tory as leader and we really don’t care how you do it

    1. The Prangwizard
      February 18, 2019

      I would urge that she experiences a ‘Caesescu moment’.

    2. L Jones
      February 18, 2019

      Dominic – Perhaps this is the time for precedents to be set.

  6. Mick
    February 18, 2019
    You can only hope this isn’t fake news , as for the custom union and single market this is one of the issues that as help to sink the labour/lib dems/some Tory’s into being none electable at the next GE 😁😁😁

    1. Anonymous
      February 18, 2019

      A moderate New New Labour Party. Bang goes the Corbyn bogeyman.

      1. Anonymous
        February 18, 2019

        Bang goes the Corbyn bogeyman that a few Tories love having around.

      2. Chris
        February 18, 2019

        Bang goes Soubry maybe? Hope she joins them and takes some others with her.

    2. Hope
      February 18, 2019

      These MPs Labour and Tory alike are not ‘moderate’ they are EU fanatics who show utter contempt for representative democracy and our peoples vote to leave the EU.

      This is why this group of vile MPs,call leavers extremists, you cannot be extreme when voting in the majority!

      Come Labour Party activists rid Cooper Angela Smith and all those in leaver constituencies where your MP is acting against what their manifesto stated. Hold them to account for what they were elected, if not get rid of them. People power to take back control.

      1. Stred
        February 18, 2019

        They are another bunch of SDLP Libdums who will get a similar number of people voting for them. They may split the Guardian reader vote with a bit of luck.

  7. rick hamilton
    February 18, 2019

    Might it be because the important decisions in the ‘British’ motor industry are taken in Munich, Paris, Detroit, Tokyo and Mumbai ? Their perspectives are different from those of indigenous manufacturers who – if we still had any – would not be issuing veiled threats to relocate to anywhere else.

    The political class should ask themselves who is responsible for the wholesale sell-off of our major industries and why it didn’t happen in Germany, France or Italy.

    1. Anonymous
      February 18, 2019

      The sell off of industries which turned over half of the population into disaffected, Brexit voting chavs.

      *Sarcasm* (but only a bit)

    2. acorn
      February 18, 2019

      The continentals rejected the concept of “capitalism red in tooth and claw”, that way led to a repeat of nineteen-thirties madness. The UK and USA stuck with the original plan and turbo-charged it with the Reagan – Thatcher era. Hence, the UK has always been a Whitworth nut trying to fit on a metric bolt.

      Continental states do worry about who owns their stuff. The UK capitalists – fronted by the ERG 62 – don’t give a toss as long as they make a profit out of buying and selling it multiple times over. And, thanks to the UK running large trade deficits foreigners end up owning lots of Sterling denominated assets.

      1. Edward2
        February 18, 2019

        But I presume you have no problem with UK companies and investors buying into and even owning businesses all ove the world.
        Which they do.

      2. Mark B
        February 18, 2019

        It was the EU that told our government to sell Royal Mail.

        A RULING from Brussels means the Government would be powerless to prevent a privatised Royal Mail . . .

      3. libertarian
        February 18, 2019


        Free market capitalism has been the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people the world has ever seen. Wealth, health longevity and equality have improved immeasurably in EVERY society that embraced free markets

        You haven’t got the faintest clue about trade or how to do business. Good luck using your state computer and socialist designed mobile phone to access the government social media and information networks.

        As to foreigners owning assets, what you mean like South Koreans owning French military shipyards, that kind of thing?

    3. Andy
      February 18, 2019

      That would be Margaret Thatcher. And the Brexiteer economist of choice, Patrick Minford, admits Brexit will make the rest of our manufacturing go.

      1. Edward2
        February 18, 2019

        The speech by Prof Minford…if you actually read it in full didn’t say what you claim.
        But the headlne has become a remain cliche quote.

      2. libertarian
        February 18, 2019


        Get someone who can read, to read you what Minford actually said about manufacturing, rather than the nonsense you make up or read in your Facebook echo feed

      3. John Hatfield
        February 18, 2019

        That old canard that “Thatcher destroyed our industries” bobs to the surface again. It would be more credible to record that old-fashioned, poorly managed heavy industry beset by union power possessed of a death-wish crumbled inevitably in the face of global competition.

  8. Mike Stallard
    February 18, 2019

    “The reason was they merely wanted to capture the jurisdiction without at first using the power in ways that alarmed or upset. That came later, once competence was established.”

    European Services Notification Procedure is just such a piece of legislation. Have you heard of it? It seems to take over all the independence of local government, child care, trades unions, even threaten the RIBA!, and to transfer it from London to Brussels. It looks, from the point of view of an amateur, to be very serious indeed.

    1. Know-Dice
      February 18, 2019

      Thanks for that Mike,

      Certainly not enough noise is being made about the “direction of travel” of the EU, diluted “Qualified Majority Voting”, more countries joining that will be net recipients of EU funds, more control of taxes etc. from Brussels. Defiantly less UK influence within the EU than going it alone…

      The future within the EU is certainly not rosy…

    2. Mark B
      February 18, 2019


      Great spot !


    3. David Price
      February 18, 2019

      Good find. The Bolkestein directive and the latest EU ratcheting illustrates one reason I wish us to leave all EU entanglements with any shred of default ECJ oversight. The EU will never stop trying to extend and consolidate their grip over all aspects of our local, national and international affairs.

    4. acorn
      February 18, 2019

      The Bolkestein directive has been around since 2006. It is what brought you Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) a system of private tribunals where corporations can get compensation from a State when it changes a law that affects profits.

      Frederik Bolkestein, the policymaker behind Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market (better known as the Bolkestein Directive). Corporate lobbying of the elected and employed in Brussels is a huge business, as it is in the UK and USA. In some States the elected representatives are in fact the lobbyists in disguise.

      How this Directive ever became law in 28 member states beats me.

      1. Mark B
        February 19, 2019

        “How this Directive ever became law in 28 member states beats me.”

        And now you realise why we need to Leave the EU. You think that the EU is some Socialist Workers Paradise, it is not ! It is a scam. A scam for greedy corporates to corner, and protect their market and, control it how they see fit. The EU is just one giant monopoly in which I get no say on how it is run. Something you sentence above just proves.

  9. agricola
    February 18, 2019

    You ask why British companies like being in the EU. Is it because they feel that at the EU table they control the menu. Alternatively are they suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. The could just prefer to operate in a protectionist bloc. The latter being less competitive an environment to operate in. Two of our best companies, JCB and Dyson have expressed comfort in being out.

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      Both because they have good products to sell internationally and know the Continental gerrymander the game to suit themselves.

  10. Anthony
    February 18, 2019

    Outside of NI, the UK isn’t obliged to follow single market rules under the backstop. NI has to follow some single market rules but isn’t obliged to accept new ones (it is obliged to accept “updates” to existing rules which is a problem).

    There are problems with the backstop, and the wider withdrawal agreement but being subject to the single market isn’t one of them, at least not due to the agreement itself. The imposition of Membership of a customs union by an external actor is a very high price but I don’t think the argument that the UK (as opposed to a small part of the UK) is subject to single market really stands up.

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      Outside the EU and minus the WA the UK is able to do what the hell it likes. PERIOD !!

    2. Denis Cooper
      February 18, 2019

      As I understand it is true that if the backstop comes into effect then Great Britain, that is to say the UK apart from Northern Ireland, will not be under any direct legal obligation to follow EU Single Market rules, as explained here:

      “The EU made a significant concession in granting a UK-wide ‘single customs territory’, avoiding the need for customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, while the requirement for regulatory alignment is limited to Northern Ireland.”

      But how would that play out in practice, when potentially there would be goods in Great Britain which did not conform to EU Single Market rules, and they could be sent across to Northern Ireland and then carried down across the open border into the Republic and thence on into the rest of the EU Single Market?

      Instead of stopping those goods at the Irish border they would have to be stopped at the points of entry into Northern Ireland, which presumably would not give the extreme nationalists the same kind of excuse to resume terrorist activities …

      Or there is the alternative solution I keep suggesting, which is that the UK could pass and rigorously enforce a new law to apply just to goods being carried across the border, not to all goods in either Northern Ireland or the UK.

  11. Sir Joe Soap
    February 18, 2019

    Because by and large the CBI etc don’t care about what we’re good at – innovating, trading globally etc. They care about what the multi-nationals care about, which are those capabilities which cross European national boundaries, and apply to multi-nationals within the European construct. Remember these companies also need a political voice to speak for them against the young upstart businesses and the truly trans-global ones.

  12. Javelin
    February 18, 2019

    It’s good to hear many Conservative MPs who have voted for a partial Brexit are now being deselected for going against a clear manifesto promise for the full Brexit at the last election and the result of the referendum election.

    Ignoring the result of two democratic elections needs to come with a heavy penalty if this country is to maintain itself as a democracy.

    1. Javelin
      February 18, 2019

      If deselection does not happen MPs risk losing their authority. This means the public seeing laws and taxes as having no authority.

      I have noticed a trend in the comments sections. For example – In the DT today in an article saying Facebook were “digital gangsters” I read many comments saying MPs have lost their authority.

      Here is an example.

      “Trouble is, at the moment, MPs cannot say this sort of thing (other than the Tory ERG, Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer and a few others including the DUP) with being ultra hypocritical as regards their bullying of the public on Brexit, trying to get it watered down or outright cancelled because they have the power to do so, but against our expressed wishes afer they delegated the decision to us.“

  13. Lifelogic
    February 18, 2019

    You are right as usual. Daft and damaging regulations are a tax that raises no tax, indeed it hits profits and kills jobs and raises much less tax. May’s agreement is appalling even without the backstop, it is not Brexit at all. It’s leave and use the money to give each housold a £1500 cheque. They have far better ways to use the money.

    It follows that cutting daft regulations is an excellent way to boost the economy and raise more taxes. But May and Hammond is a let’s build on EU workers right and spew out even more red tape person. A tax and regulate to death dope just like Hammond.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2019

      I meant – Let’s leave and use the money ….

  14. Andy
    February 18, 2019

    Do not pretend to be a voice a business.

    Business wants to be in the single market. It sees the huge benefits of only have to comply with one set of rules rather than more than 30.

    Frankly, your argument that Westminster needs more control would have more credibility if – collectively – MPs were not all so lousy at dealing with the things you have full control of.

    Our NHS is rubbish – because MPs have failed. Our schools are rubbish – because MPs have failed. We sit in traffic jams or on overcrowded trains because our failed MPs are led by an incompetent transport secretary. MPs have failed on housing, policing, security and defence.

    Of the 17.4m people who voted leave I think you would struggle to find more than a few dozen who object to product regulations for televisions or efficiency standards for fridge freezers. We should not be giving inept MPs – who have failed for decades in all the areas the have full control of – full powers over areas which are, frankly, not yet broken.

    1. Edward2
      February 18, 2019

      There are differences in product standards in different EU countries now.
      And different standards in other export world markets too.
      But manufacturers successfully meet all these requirements.

      You say business wants to be in the single market.
      Some do some don’t
      Most UK companies dont export at all.
      Some others export but not into Europe.

    2. agricola
      February 18, 2019

      You have a strange idea of what business wants. Big business in particular likes the EU because, along with it ‘s counterparts in the EU it can control that market in terms of rules and specifications. Don’t imagine EU politicians know anything about manufacturing, they do not, so specific industries will lobby them for what they want. At the same time these same industries are trading with the rest of the World on whatever terms each customer and market dictates. Reverting to WTO rules to sell to the rest of the World is nothing new for them.

      My guess is that Westminster in terms of legislation is content to sit on it’s collective butt. It is the people who are not content with dictation by the EU ,but want their sovereignty back. Meaning that MPs will have to start working on our own legislation. I do have a certain sympathy with your 2nd para. Not only will MPs have to legislate, but they will have to take responsibility for the result, no more blaming the EU or their myriad quangos.

      Our NHS is not rubbish. I have been a patient of it since November last, all unanticipated following a visit to my dentist. I have found them over many departments to be supportive and dedicated to providing a very professional service. They and I know that there are areas of weakness but it is not for the lack of dedication of those trying to provide a service. I did not demand their assistance having arrived drunk, up to my eyeballs in illegal drugs or belligerent.

      I would contend that most of our other problems arise from an explosion in population due to the importation of a city the size of Nottingham for every year for the last twenty at least. That was down to socialist politicians and their open door policy. Subsequent politicians failed to correct it while in awe of the EU.

      Industry does not require the EU to tell it how to make
      The electrical products you mention. They mostly come from overseas companies and will continue to do so in or out of the EU. The 17.4 million of the electorate who voted leave no doubt had a number of reasons in mind,none of which involved the design of tv sets.

      Our democracy is broken when our laws are dictated by a totalitarian undemocratic power that we have no say in controlling.

      1. agricola
        February 20, 2019

        What is so contentious about this that it be ignored.

    3. Jagman84
      February 18, 2019

      Our system has failed because it’s full of champagne Socialists like you. Socialism always fails and leaves the damage for others to clear up. In the past, there were enough genuine Tories to do this. However, in the current parliament, they are few and far between.

    4. margaret howard
      February 18, 2019

      Maybe they should liberate our manufacturers from having to put plugs on their electrical goods. We should be free to buy a £700 fridge freezer without a plug – another typical useless EU imposition.

      1. Edward2
        February 18, 2019

        Manufacturers were putting moulded plugs on their products years before the EU churned out yet another regulation.

    5. libertarian
      February 18, 2019


      Oh my word

      Only 30 sets of rules? There are 160 other countries we trade with, they have their own rules.

      86% of our economy is services, THERE IS NO SINGLE MARKET in services. 82% of trade in goods and services is entirely internal to the UK

      We’ve ALWAYS had standards and regulations for product safety you buffoon , why do dull remainers think that the EU invented everything ?

      There are GLOBAL bodies that produce product standards Try looking up International Electrotechnical Commission standards, they existed long before the EU was thought of

    6. Anonymous
      February 18, 2019

      “Our NHS is rubbish – because MPs have failed. Our schools are rubbish – because MPs have failed. We sit in traffic jams or on overcrowded trains because our failed MPs are led by an incompetent transport secretary. MPs have failed on housing, policing, security and defence.”

      And I voted Brexit to return sovereignty, not to our Parliament but to our people so that we may start voting and actually seeing a difference.

    7. Al
      February 18, 2019

      “Business wants to be in the single market. It sees the huge benefits of only have to comply with one set of rules rather than more than 30.”

      Your statement actually reverses the situation: when we leave businesses will have to follow one set of rules, the UK’s. They then only have to follow the rules of the countries they actually trade with.

      While we are in, businesses have to follow rules made to suit trade in all thirty countries, whether they trade with them or not, along with all the extra red tape that this brings.

  15. Tweeter_L
    February 18, 2019

    My heart sank as soon as the newly-appointed PM, Mrs May, declared that her aim in “these negotiations” was to achieve a “deep and special relationship” between the UK and the EU: I didn’t vote for any such thing. Her approach sounded supine right from the start and has got worse. The only hopeful sign (how naïve of me!) was that she created a Department for Exiting the EU, but we know what happened to that.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2019

      Then for good measure she went on to give us endless more red tape, lots more green crap subsidies, the idiotic HS2 and Hinckley C, threw away her majority, attacked the gig economy and gave us Hammond and the highest and most complextaxes for 40 years.

      What a socialist pro EU idiot she is.

  16. Everhopeful
    February 18, 2019

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

    If only JR and a few like-minded had formed a “Leave” party… years ago!!

    Reply I explained at the time hiw to leave the EU we needed the Conservative party to offer a referendum.

  17. Iain Moore
    February 18, 2019

    ‘Why don’t the UK business bodies raise this issue?’

    Bureaucracies always look after each other,

  18. hans christian ivers
    February 18, 2019

    Sir JR,

    Interesting perspective but we did fortunately have a major impact on how the single market was comprised in the end.

    However, UK business groups do not seem to share your view that we would be better off with no deal with the EU, even if this means some regulatory alignment.

    1. Jagman84
      February 18, 2019

      The only regulatory alignment necessary is that of customer and supplier. Governments need to get out of the equation. There are existing worldwide standards for a multitude of trades so EU-specific ones are surplus to requirement. As is the EU itself.

  19. hellbent
    February 18, 2019

    With arguments like this it is no wonder that Britain is sunk. For forty years or more we sat at the top table and if during that time our political leaders could not have made the case for Britain and to stick up for UK values, well then, we can hardly blame the Europeans- but that is exactly what is happening.

    This week TM is off to Brussels again and we know before she sets out that the EU will have nothing to give, knowing that she has no support at home, they will say all the more reason for the Backstop to remain in place. They will think- ‘we are not going to negotiate with that ERG group through the proxy Mrs May’- they will think that if it is not the backstop then it is going to be the movement of people or the 39B will be ERG’s next whinge. Over there they know she has no support but that she is still hellbent with a one track mind and that she will do ‘whatever’, but they also know that nothing they say or do will matter one iota to the chaos looming.

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      The problem with the other EU members is, they used the UK to slow the pace of further integration but, when it came to key votes caved in due to pressure be exerted from both Berlin and Paris. They let us down. We are, hopefully, Leaving. Leaving them to the path they have chosen. All that money did not come for free 😉

  20. ChrisS
    February 18, 2019

    We all understand the way Brussels works : establish the principle that Brussels has overall control through innocent-looking legislation and then tighten the screws and extend the scope and power over time. Before voters have realised it, their elected politicians have lost control of their Country’s affairs to the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. The mystery is why national politicians have allowed this to happen time and time again ?

    The Euro is the classic example but one where things haven’t gone quite according to the Grand Plan : Leaders of the richer states like Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands know they can’t sell the heroic level of fiscal transfers needed to make the single currency work to their taxpayers.

    That’s why Macron’s plan is a dead duck and the Euro will break apart, sooner or later.

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      The mystery is why national politicians have allowed this to happen time and time again ?

      No mystery. Albeit there are a lot of reasons. But Civil Service pressure is one of them. Ministers have to take advice from the Civil Services who are the constant in our system. No matter who gets the keys to Number 10, the CS Remains. Pun intended. The CS enjoys enormous power via the EU and can influence government policy. So it is no surprise that they, the CS, encourage Ministers to handover more and more power.

    2. margaret howard
      February 18, 2019


      “That’s why Macron’s plan is a dead duck and the Euro will break apart, sooner or later.”

      Wonder how the euro managed to replace the pound as the world’s largest reserve currency after the US$. Or come to think of it, why it has gained over 40% against our pound since 2000.

  21. jerry
    February 18, 2019

    Off topic; How do MPs expect to be able to regulate social media etc, considering that head office, never mind server locations [1], can be worldwide.

    There is little anyone could do to stop a non UK based company accepting (perhaps via a third party) advertising or content that would not be permitted here in the UK BUT is permissible elsewhere. Unless, of course, some MPs might wish to propose a Great -Firewall of- Britain, to keep unapproved-of content out, just as China has…

    [1] just looked at the four main UK Westminster parties, only two have UK based servers, of the others, one appears to be in the USA, another Ireland, and the third is in the Netherlands.

  22. Bryan Harris
    February 18, 2019

    A very timely piece, considering the problems with the customs union – especially as it has just been reported that May’s intention is to keep us tied to it…
    You emphasise very well, JR, what many of us have seen in other ways, that the single market and customs union always worked and still works to the benefit of France and Germany.

    Why don’t business or MP’s see the failings? It’s because they do not want to….
    They are of course inundated with alleged expert views from europhiles, and that is what makes the difference. Propaganda is overwhelming the sensible and giving wings to the enemies of democracy.

    1. margaret howard
      February 18, 2019

      Bryan Harris

      “You emphasise very well, JR, what many of us have seen in other ways, that the single market and customs union always worked and still works to the benefit of France and Germany.”

      Hardly surprising seeing those 2 countries were the main founders of the bloc. We were asked originally but turned the offer down. So as ‘johnny come latelies’ you have to accept the existing rules when you then beg to join the club AFTER it overtook our own efforts with EFTA/commonwealth.

      1. Bryan Harris
        February 19, 2019

        Your logic of ‘my ball, my game’ fails to encompass any of the fine attributes that the EU portrays for itself …

        The EU is supposed to be about decency, honesty, integrity, democracy, and fairness – Your logic confirms most clearly that the EU does not live up to it’s own imposed standards…

  23. The Prangwizard
    February 18, 2019

    So it’s party before country. There is going to be a backdown by the ERG to accept the May surrender and betrayal document after all with a bit of tinkering. Are we surprised?

    1. Andy
      February 18, 2019

      May’s deal is Brexit. It is what you voted for in 2016. Stop whining and enjoy the fruits of your vote.

      1. Edward2
        February 18, 2019

        a) It isn’t a deal. It is a withdrawal agreement
        b) It us unlikely to pass in Parliament as too many dislike the terms.

  24. libertarian
    February 18, 2019

    Andy Tabulazero Helena Margaret Howard etc

    More bad news

    Machine tools manufacturer ColchesterMTS to open new 58,000 sq ft European Technology Centre in Elland, West Yorkshire

    Last Week

    As you obviously missed the news

    ▪️F-35: UK awarded £500m contract
    ▪️Tiger Trailers: New £22m Winsford factory
    ▪️Westfield: £30m South Korean export deal
    ▪️Kohler Mira: New £20m Worcester facility
    ▪️EDGE Innovate: New £8m factory

    British motorcycle manufacturer Norton making great progress with the construction of its new factory

    Dear remainers why not join us in the real world and celebrate the success of British Industry and the jobs creation miracle that is unfolding as we leave the moribund, backward looking, top down , dinosaur EU

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      Dear remainers why not join us in the real world and celebrate the success of British Industry . . .

      Don’t be silly, they hate their own country and countrymen. But sadly, not enough to go and live somewhere where they can be happy. If that is possible for them ?

    2. Anonymous
      February 18, 2019

      And this article explaining why JLR is doing badly. Clue. Not Brexit.

    3. margaret howard
      February 19, 2019


      Your comment is reminiscent of medievel martyrs who were willing to be burned at the stake in defense of their beliefs about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin.

      Plus ca change!

  25. Martin
    February 18, 2019

    Sir Paul Lever, our ambassador to Germany 1997-2003, confirms Sir John’s view on Franco-German way of operating. In ‘Berlin Rules’ (pub. 2017, p134-5) he writes:

    ‘In the run-up to the European Council in Milan in 1985 the United Kingdom circulated a paper setting out some proposals for pushing ahead with the single market initiative. The Germans were supportive and it looked initially as though the British paper would be the main item on the agenda for this part of the European Council meeting. But at the last minute the Germans withdrew their support and presented together with France a rival paper which they suggested should be the basis for discussion.
    It was not that the Franco-German paper proposed a different approach. Much of its content was along the lines of what the United Kingdom had already suggested. Rather, it was put forward to establish a principle: only a Franco-German initiative should serve as the basis of the discussion at a European Council meeting.’

  26. Shieldsman
    February 18, 2019

    I have supported the legal challenge by Lord Trimble.
    Could there be a legal challenge to an Addendum, side-letter, codicil or whatever fudge May can obtain?
    The likelihood of Parliament passing the Withdrawal Agreement is now almost NIL, making the NO Deal almost inevitable. What alternative do remainer MP’s have other than reneging on the DEMOCRATIC referendum vote?

    On Civil Aviation, the United States has renewed their ICAO Air Service Agreement with the United Kingdom, effective after 29th March, but the EU Commission has not. Don’t they wish to continue flying to London?

    1. Lookalike
      February 18, 2019

      There will be no problem for travellers to and from the continent..they can always travel by boat and train same as we did in the 1950’s

      1. margaret howard
        February 19, 2019

        What’s wrong with a stagecoach and horses?

  27. Denis Cooper
    February 18, 2019

    “All you needed for a single market was the rule that a product of merchandisable quality in one country could be offered for sale in another with suitable labels.”

    Well, with respect to products crossing the land border from Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic and so into the EU Single Market all that is really needed is a rule that all the goods carried across will conform to EU requirements, and if that was accepted then it should be enough to make it an unnecessary waste of time and energy and money for Irish customs officers to routinely intercept and inspect consignments at the border.

    For the purpose of keeping the Irish border as open as now, as for the past quarter of a century, it is not necessary for all the goods in circulation in Northern Ireland or in the whole of the UK to conform to EU requirements, only those goods which are to be carried across the border to the south need to satisfy that rule.

    I have been saying this for over a year, I have had numerous letters printed in Theresa May’s local paper about it, some copied to her and acknowledged, and last September I even got a letter printed in the Irish Times about it:

    Which provoked some hostile responses from Irish readers, including one which entirely missed the point by saying:

    “Nobody I know is trying to prevent the UK from importing whatever it wishes into its own country after it leaves the EU.”

    when that is exactly what is being proposed.

    1. Lookalike
      February 18, 2019

      In the event of a disorderly withdrawal the EU will insist on making a border, it will be a Eu border to police EU custom regs. So that will make two borders, the first being the British political border. So two borders for the price of one and neither of them Irish.

  28. Denis Cooper
    February 18, 2019

    “The shackles of the single market and customs union”

    Congratulations on your felicitous choice of the word “shackles”, JR, which should prompt a number of questions such as “Who wishes to put these shackles on the UK?”, “Would they allow the shackles to be fitted with a time lock?”, “Would they agree to the UK having some kind of picklock so that it could release itself when it wanted?”, “Once they had us in those shackles why should they ever agree to our release?”.

    The last question becoming particularly relevant if/when we try to negotiate a treaty for our future relationship and get reminded that the Irish government has a veto.

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 18, 2019

      Hot off the press:

      “Ireland will not be ‘steamrolled’ on border backstop – Coveney”

      “Mr Coveney said any attempt to change the backstop with “keyhole surgery”, by either adding an expiry date or handing the UK the ability to withdraw unilaterally, would continue to be opposed by Europe.”

  29. Mick
    February 18, 2019

    Off topic
    So 7 labour mps have quite the party and there’s torie mps being deselected because of there betrayal to there manifesto, but will still be in Parliament to try and stop Brexit, let’s have a General Election after we leave the Eu so the people can drain the Westminster swamp of all these Eu loving mps it’s the only way to get some form of normality back into Westminster

  30. Den
    February 18, 2019

    Despite what some Remainers may declare, the EU is NOT forward looking. Their political and economic development MO of impossible “Targets”, their Protectionist approach to Trade and their Nelson’s Column-high Log full with reams of Rules, Regulations and Laws make for an over bloated, top down bureaucracy that stifles, rather than promotes, growth. Much the same as the old USSR of the era (1957) when the EU was first opened under the guise of the EEC. It is no coincidence.
    Latest statistics reveal that in the 18 years from 1999 to 2017 the EU grew by 26% against UK growth of 44% (USA 42%). Those figures alone should tell everyone where our future lies but there’s none so blind as those that will not see.
    Roll on March 30th, the dawn of a new, Free Britain, for to remove those heavy EU shackles we needed a key. And the ‘Key’ was the National Referendum result. Now it is there for the Government to use and to be quick about it because our legs and our brains ache from inaction.

  31. MickN
    February 18, 2019

    Do you think that the 7 MP’s that have split from Labour this morning will be as keen on a People’s Vote in their constituencies in the form of bye elections as they are for a second referendum to overturn democracy

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      The people of those constituencies have the right to say;

      “I voted for a Labour candidate, not and Independent one !”

      And I would agree with them. After all, Douglas Carswell stood for reelection after defecting to UKIP.

  32. acorn
    February 18, 2019

    It’s been a good week for three of this weeks flock of cabinet ministers.You have to wonder if there will be any MP in the Tory party, who won’t end up a Right Honourable / Privy Councillor. Mrs May’s Presidential style has made ministers of any grade redundant and a recurring embarrassment for the nation.

    The Muppet for Defence upset the Chinese with talk of planting our aircraft carrier, complete with cardboard cut-outs of F 35 Jets; into the China Sea. Mr Hammond loses lots of air miles as Beijing gives him the finger.

    The Muppets for Trade and Foreign Office upset the Japanese by demanding the Japan-EU trade agreement be “novated” to the UK toot sweat. Then a quickie FTA with the Aussies will require the UK to eat a lot more of its sheep; and, UK membership of the TPP-11 trade group is years away.

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2019

      And all Remainers. ie Losers one and all.

    2. Mitchel
      February 19, 2019

      And after the “Muppet for Defence” threatened Russia with a show of hard power,a massive Imperial Russian flag was unfurled on the scaffolding around Salisbury Cathedral.That provided me with the best laugh of the week….ooooooh those Russians!

  33. ukretired123
    February 18, 2019

    It is pretty obvious from the EU’s so-called negotiations of the last 2 that it is better playing at home rather than away due to their different cultures . Those questioning the Franco/German business modus operandi have not worked abroad where glaring differences show up, some of which would make your hair stand on end.

  34. Chris
    February 18, 2019

    In the meantime, Boris chooses to write about cheetahs in the D Tel.

  35. Jiminyjim
    February 18, 2019

    Andy shows his total lack of experience every time he contributes to this site. This time he focuses again on product standards, as usual repeating the baseless assertions, defeated many times before on this site. Let me share with him and others like Helena and Margaret Howard a real life story. Years ago, I was the British representative on a European committee to write a new EN standard. Immediately the Germans were given both the Chairmanship and Secretariat of the committee. The products in question sold to industry but also (95%) to Local Government bodies. After four years, what we ended up with was a standard that effectively replicated 95% of the previous German DIN standard, which had in turn been written to describe the German products. We went along with it,. because we had the ‘prize’ that if we designed a new product to meet the new standard, we would be able to sell into Germany for the first time ever. Four years and many hundreds of thousands of design pounds later, the standard was ratified and we launched our new product onto the German market, only to be told that their Local Government Association had decided NOT to accept the new EN standard, but to go on specifying the old DIN standard that supported their own manufacturers. This was nothing about product safety, Andy, and it shows your naivety. The sad truth is that Germany and France have always, from the very beginning, arranged things in the EU to benefit their own industries at the expense of everyone else’s. That is a fact.
    And, by the way, can I once again remind you and those who think like you that continuing to repeat the same factless assertions over and over again does NOT make them true. Give us something new, Andy, and based on fact. If you can’t, shut up.

  36. Helen Smith
    February 18, 2019

    Slightly off topic Sir John but could explain what will happen if the Cooper/Boles bill goes through.

    As I understand it they can then instruct May to ash for an extension of Art 50 but if the EU say ‘OK, it will cost £1.5bn a month’ what happens then. Will Cooper/Boles have tax raising powers or can they tell the Chancellor to pay it and take the money from the health or schools budget?

  37. Mactheknife
    February 18, 2019

    Correct me if I’m wrong John but this government has also jumped on the eco-warrior bandwagon and has attacked diesel cars and as a result created economic difficulty for manufacturers. I had hoped that some of the junk science around climate change would have been address by a conservative government but alas not.

  38. BR
    February 18, 2019

    Presumably businesses don’t raise the issues you mentioned because they are getting their tariffs paid for them by the duped UK taxpayer (as SM contributions). The ultimate State aid!

  39. Ian Pennell
    February 18, 2019

    Dear Sir John redwood,

    Sadly, it looks like Britain will either be trapped in the Single Market and Customs Union- or there Britain will fully remain a member of the European Union following a second Referendum (in which the two choices are BRINO or Remain)! Thanks to the Remainer Majority in the House of Commons willing to support Yvette Cooper’s new “Extend Arcticle 50 Leaving Date To Stop No Deal” Amendment when it is put to a vote once more on 27th February. My belief is that the EU will agree a delay of many months because they do not actually want Britain to leave.

    The 17.4 million who voted “Leave” on 23rd June 2016 and who had optimism that Britain would soon be an independent nation (on learning the result the next morning), those 17.4 million voters are about to have their hopes and dreams destroyed by the Remainer MPs who think that they know best!

    You (and your ERG) colleagues should all be writing to Her Majesty The Queen to petition her to prorogue Parliament until 30th March- in order to safeguard Democracy- by ensuring the Referendum Result is respected- and the welfare of Her citizens (which she is constitutionally able to do). Alternatively you can act to get Theresa May deposed- so that a Brexit- supporting Prime Minister replaces Theresa May and he (or she) can get HM The Queen to prorogue Parliament for six weeks. This is now the best chance of saving Brexit and you do not have long to act.

  40. Ian
    February 18, 2019

    Well nothing is going to change with the same people still in charge, you surely can not still be moaning about our Dear Leader, are you really surprised still.?

    She is doing the bidding of the Establishment Only.

    She dumped her excellent Manifesto almost right away, Gove was Cameron s assassin.
    Who in a flash gutted Boris, but for Gove , we would be in the Sunny Uplands, out and home free !

    There is 200 Remainers who are MPs, I have no idea just what There reward is, for this dissgracefull betrayal, are you all just going to stick to this current team ?

    Without the grisly 200, the decent people would have got rid this PM.

    They must ask there constituents to deselect this Treacherous horde.

    For me I can not wait, there as been a fruitless wait already.
    It will not happen.

    I have changed today , I have had more than enough, I see no change , I see no Democricy from any party in our Parliament sad to say but. needs must.

    My wife and I have joined Nigel Farage in his Brexit Express.

    For us he is the most decent man we have, he has been fighting the bitter block for 25 years, we owe him our greatful thanks indeed, in the same way we owe fathers and grandfathers for giving there all, for Our Freedom.

    Boy have we let those hero’s down.

    I my humble view we need to show our metal, put our shoulders behind this giant of a politician in order to snatch our Freedom from a Totalitarian society!

    Good luck everyone
    If and when we get a general election, my feeling is that there is a lot of people who are very aware just how we have been treated by those that we all voted for, The people will not vote in any numbers for the arrogance of those that have forgotten there people.

    It is my dearest hope that Nigel will carry the day with a monster land slide

  41. Toffeeboy
    February 18, 2019

    Japan wants us to join TPP does it?

  42. margaret howard
    February 18, 2019


    ” UK industry has suffered from past EU regulations and taxes, and could be made to suffer more.”

    I take it the same regulations etc applied to all EU members. So how can that have disadvantaged the UK industry alone?

    “HONDA will announce the closure of its Swindon factory and put 3,500 jobs at risk. The broadcaster reports that the car manufacturer will close its only EU plant, which produces more than 100,000 …”

    Any comments on this?

  43. Katy Hibbert
    February 18, 2019

    “That means that every business sector and company in the UK would face a prolonged period when the EU might deliberately or inadvertently legislate in ways that damaged their business models with us being unable to stop them.”

    Deliberately is more likely.

  44. Richard
    February 18, 2019

    Japan have a nice shiny new deal with the EU which we won’t be able to match – makes complete sense for Honda to pull out of the UK. It moves their manufacturing back home and into the free trade area which we are leaving.

    I guess this is all part of ‘taking back control’.

  45. ChrisS
    February 18, 2019

    If reports are to be believed, the closure of the Honda plant in Swindon is a direct result of the EU signing a free trade deal with Japan.

    If there are no tariff barriers to Japanese imports, in a time of reduced demand, why would a car manufacturer continue to manufacture cars in Europe ?

    It’s telling that journalists are not reporting that Honda plans to open another plant on the European mainland, they are to consolidate production in Japan and other Far East plants.

    Perhaps this is a useful reminder that “Free Trade” is not the universal panacea it’s cracked up to be ?

  46. An appeal to JR
    February 19, 2019

    I think most of the population are more concerned with Magna carta and the shackled (in principle atleast) of the European Arrest Warrant etc. As Peter Hitchens has pointed out, why the silence on this matter?

  47. a-tracy
    February 20, 2019

    An article in the Guardian today says that “four and a half million lambs” born in the UK are exported to the EU and the government will have to compensate them for this loss. Is this true? Do we import no lamb? Couldn’t we just promote UK born lamb with all the cooking programs showing how to cook it in different meals? If the price dropped through over-supply from March for that whole season then surely this could be self-sustaining profitability?

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