An April 1 story with a twist

On Friday two government Ministers at different times told me I had to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement if I wanted to secure a free trade/WTO Brexit. I asked each  to explain this apparent contradiction. They said they thought I would be intelligent enough to understand it was the only way to get us out unencumbered.

They said if the Agreement was passed then the government would introduce a bill, as it would need to put the Agreement into UK law. I could then with my friends seek to amend the Bill to meet my wishes  or vote it down , thus thwarting  the  Agreement. As this would all take time we could by default leave on 22 May before anything had been legislated.

I said that was too clever by half. How would I explain my volte face on the Agreement? Was I to say I was deliberately voting for something I disagreed with in the hope I could defeat it later? Or did they wish me to pretend to have come round to accepting the draft Treaty? Wasn’t that an invitation to me to act in bad faith? Wasnt it encouragement to rebel later against government legislation? Wouldn’t the  leadership then have a good point if they told me I had to vote for  the Bill as I had  voted for it in principle in Friday’s vote? As it was about an international Treaty what was to stop the government signing the Treaty  on the back of the Parliamentary vote and then facing Parliament down to regularise it in UK law? Once the UK has signed the Treaty it is binding whatever Parliament does.

Both dug in and angrily explained that I must be able to see this was the only rational way for me to behave. I said I begged to differ.

The twist in this April fool story is it is  not an April fool. This is an account of what happened. Many bizarre  things were said and predicted by people speaking for the government last Friday.


  1. Mark B
    April 1, 2019

    Good morning

    And yet again, thank you.

    So this is what goes on behind closed doors ? This why I like coming here, you learn something. Whether it be on any given topic or, just by way of explanation as we see here.

    The WA is a dreadful document and no sane or patriotic person could have anything to do with it. The pressure some MP’s are being put under is scandalous and more like this need a to be made public knowledge.

    1. Mike Stallard
      April 1, 2019

      I really appreciate this insight into the chaos which is going on at the moment. No doubt if you had been a remainer or whatever, they would have said it was your only chance of remaining.
      Unless there is some real attempt to tweak the EEA membership before we leave in just 12 days’ time, we are going to get a very hard Brexit anyway.
      Doesn’t anyone in parliament know this? The EU means it.

      1. Zorro
        April 1, 2019

        They are huff and puff. Let’s see how ‘hard’ the EIRE boder is. They will not implement it. We need to be strong and resolute. Economically, they can’t afford to not have a good relationship with their second largest customer. We can go elsewhere if needs be. This is where May has failed us so miserably by kow towing and playing by their rules. Was she that dim? Didn’t she listen to Varoufakis about how the EU ‘negotiates’??


      2. Peter
        April 1, 2019

        Well all the spin this morning is about a ‘soft’ Brexit. Mandelson and now Ken Clarke on Radio 4 holding forth at great length.

        If Withdrawal/Surrender is put forward a fourth time then it must be voted down yet again as the DUP have indicated.

      3. Mark B
        April 1, 2019


        The PM ruled out EFTA/EEA membership from day one. Despite what others may say it should have been an option and, if not suitable to the UK, only then dismissed.

  2. Freeborn John
    April 1, 2019

    I hope MPs can sense the anger in the country at their behaviour. I doubt it though when i hear the government are thinking of a snap GE with May still as leader. You will be decimated.

    1. Julie Dyson
      April 1, 2019

      Unfortunately, I’m not so sure many actually can. Sir John’s piece today did strike me as an April Fool right up until he expressly stated that it wasn’t — at which point my jaw dropped (although why I should be surprised by anything these days, heaven knows).

      We all know there are shenanigans behind the scenes at Westminster — it could be argued the country probably wouldn’t run very well without them! — but I expected machiavellian levels of intrigue, sly winks and mutual back-scratching. This episode clearly came across with all the subtlety of a hurled brick, and had more in common with schoolyard bullying tactics.

      Sometimes I really, truly, utterly despair of our country, especially if this is the low caliber of those in Ministerial position. With such inane logic as these portray, it’s really no wonder they cannot grasp what’s happening out there in the real world among ordinary folk. April Fools indeed.

    2. MickN
      April 1, 2019

      This is the letter that I sent to Michael Gove, myMP, yesterday.

      I have been a conservative voter for over 40 years and have voted in every general local and European election that has been held. I was a member for much of that time. I had a lady visit me yesterday canvassing for the upcoming local elections. I had to tell her that although this is a local election fought on local issues that there is no way in which I will EVER vote in any election ever again for anyone with “Conservative” against their name.

      I have been appalled by Labour governments in the past, but it has taken a Conservative one to make me disgusted and ashamed of my country. What a laughing stock we have become!

      I cannot accept the treachery of Theresa May in her vain attempts to shackle us to the EU in perpetuity. You Sir are also allowing yourself to be part of this treachery and attempts to end democracy in the UK. You should all be very careful what you want to replace it with.

      I have always voted for you as the Surrey Heath candidate at times enthusiastically. I believe you were the best education secretary for many a year. I will never vote for you again since you have sold us out over leaving the EU.

      Not only will I not vote Conservative again (or Labour or Lib. Dem) I will only bother to vote if there is a candidate standing who will not sell out their manifesto or what the majority voted for. If a candidate is on the ballot from the newly formed Brexit party, or if not maybe even Ukip they will get my vote. If there is not then I shall not bother.

      Please feel free to pass this on to whoever you see fit.


    3. Leslie Singleton
      April 1, 2019

      Dear Freeborn–Decimated = one in ten and it will be worse than that. May should be thrown out immediately and Boris made leader by acclamation this afternoon.

    4. Hope
      April 1, 2019

      Good. Thoroughly deserved for betraying the nation and still doing so. Democracy belongs to is not them.

      1. Hope
        April 1, 2019

        Her treaty is forever and forces the U.K. into retreat for phase two which could last for a decade or more in vassalage while remainers are still present! Johnson and Raab appear too stupid to release their naked ambition is of no consequence to us. They gave up their vote without May giving anything! Sound familiar? No one should vote for them if it comes to pass. Who would want them in charge of a hijacking or war!

        1. Hope
          April 1, 2019

          Never forget May showed her plan to Merkel and the EU before cabinet and parliament. May is good friends with Grieve and Letwin so they claim. What friends!

    5. Martin R
      April 1, 2019

      Snap election run by May? An April fool joke surely. They cannot be serious. She is clearly planning for Corbyn to become the next PM, no other explanation is possible.

    6. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019


      The very real prospect of the Tory party being decimated, won’t trouble Theresa May one iota! This ‘goody two-shoes’ is really a dangerous Praying Mantis, and the longer she stays in office, the more of her opponents she will kill off.

      It is precisely because the Tories cannot see what is really going on, with her softly-softly voice and plausible manner, she will keep getting away with it.

      She is single-minded, but that isn’t mere obstinacy, it is cold and pre-ordained. She is there to do the EU’s bidding, not ours.

      May must be rolling around on the carpet every night at the stupidity and gullibility of those who have allowed themselves to be conned and hemmed-in.

      The only thing to do with a clear and present danger to our aspirations and national sovereignty, is to take away its power.

      You have been warned!

      Tad Davison


      1. Tad Davison
        April 1, 2019

        (‘You’ in this instance being the Parliamentary Conservative party who continues to swoon over their beloved leader)

    7. John C.
      April 1, 2019

      Decimated means one in ten will go. It will be worse than that.

  3. Colin Hart
    April 1, 2019

    This explains a lot and comes as no surprise. Ministers are increasingly talking incomprehensible gibberish designed to make the rest of us think we are stupid if we can’t comprehend their ‘logic’. Best example is the vote for this deal or there will be no Brexit. We are all in danger of being infantilised. Very glad you haven’t been worn down yet.

    1. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019


      I think this anecdote of Sir John’s vindicates all of us who repeatedly contest that our political representatives are largely unfit to represent us. I fear for this nation if they are the best we can do.


  4. Pominoz
    April 1, 2019

    Sir John,

    Your experience seems to tell me that lies, lies and more lies continue to be promulgated just to get this wretched deal, and all that it subsequently entails, accepted. You are principled enough and intelligent enough to stand your ground, for which we thank you.

    The sad thing is that lies have abounded in Parliament throughout the Brexit process, including many, sad to say, from the Prime Minister herself.

    It is my understanding that if an MP is proven to have misled Parliament, then the repercussions are severe. The fact that Theresa May said 108 times that the UK would be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 has already proven to be false, but it could be claimed by Mrs May that, at the time, she believed the statement to be true.

    However, in many of her speeches to the House, she claimed that her WA would allow the UK to pursue free trade agreements with the rest of the world. This was blatantly, and knowingly, untrue, so surely, she was in this respect, if not others, misleading the House. This offence would, I understand, normally result in the minister either being expected to resign or to be sacked. Is it not time for this mendacious Prime Minister, who is blatantly lying to pursue her own personal agenda, rather than dutifully carrying out the will of the people, to face the appropriate punishment?

    My optimism, generated by your article yesterday, remains for the time being. Hopefully it will be justified come 12th April.

    1. Chris
      April 1, 2019

      A very good post, Pominoz.

    2. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      Lancaster House. All she needed to do was stick to it and she would have been celebrated, but no, it was just another Theresa May con. Her word is absolutely worthless. She is not fit for any kind of office, least of all Prime Minister! She deserves to go down, but so does the Tory party unless they get rid.

      1. Know-Dice
        April 1, 2019


        I have just re-read the Lancaster House speech and as you say she should have just stuck to it.

        I note:

        Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.

        No, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. And my job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do.

        It is truly shocking how far she has strayed from both this speech and the Florence speech…

    3. Martin R
      April 1, 2019

      Any semblance of principle or propriety or integrity or procedure has to be held in suspended animation while May continues her occupation of Downing Street. Unless the Tories can pluck up the courage to grasp the nettle and expel her forthwith they are history. So I fear is this country.

      1. Tad Davison
        April 1, 2019


  5. Helena
    April 1, 2019

    I have been criical of your position on many things, but here you are absolutely correct. If you dislike the Withdrawal Agreement, of course you must oppose it. Those who dislike it and yet chose to vote for it – such as Rees Mogg, Mc Vey, Ducan Smith and (even more extraordinary, because they had previously resigned from the Cabinet rather than support it) Raab, Johnson and Davis – are exposed as untrustworthy

    1. Lifelogic
      April 1, 2019

      Not really “untrustworthy” just misguided or fooled into thinking it was better than the alternatives of delay or now Brexit.

      In reality May’s WA is so very appallingly bad that almost anything is better.

    2. Richard1
      April 1, 2019

      No that is a smear. They decided brexit was likely to be thwarted completely given all the parliamentary humbug about respecting the referendum but then doing the exact opposite.

      I happen to think they were wrong, I think both WTO brexit and even Remain are preferable to May’s deal but I don’t see we have to impugn the motives of rees-mogg et al.

    3. Chris
      April 1, 2019

      Good comment, Helena. It does help clarify matters, Helena, before any leadership contest. Voters have been given the most perfect example of unprincipled behaviour and contempt for voters, in my view. I won’t make the mistake of supporting any of them again.

    4. Fishknife
      April 1, 2019

      A fool and his money are soon parted.
      What can 17.4 million people do when their democratic vote is ignored by their MPs (even by their champions – Rees Mogg, Mc Vey, Ducan Smith, Raab, Johnson and Davis) and, as a result, they are legally, by binding Treaty, surrendered to a foreign Power?

      1. Tad Davison
        April 1, 2019

        Divide and rule does seem to be an effective strategy though.

    5. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      For once, the points you make are difficult to argue with.

    6. Julie Dove
      April 1, 2019

      Indeed… If I get a vote on the next PM as I am a Tory party member, I shall not vote for anyone who supported this deal.

  6. Kevin
    April 1, 2019

    “what was to stop the government signing the Treaty on the back of the Parliamentary vote and then facing Parliament down to regularise it in UK law?”

    Indeed. At PMQs on 27th March, in answer to Bill Cash, Mrs. May said, “the House of Commons voted to seek an extension to Article 50”, as a justification for her having attempted to bind us in international law to a new exit date without first seeking prior parliamentary approval via a statutory instrument. I was, therefore, afraid she would attempt to do the same with the Withdrawal Agreement had she won the vote on Friday.

    On the subject of the WA, I would like to offer a timely reminder to Messrs. Johnson, Raab et al.:
    Mrs. May has not given up her power (by resigning) before asking you to make concessions.
    Why should you give up your legislative power (under Art. 4 of the WA) before asking the EU to make concessions? (Not that it is even yours to give up.)

  7. Jagman84
    April 1, 2019

    It is clear that they understand how corrosive the WA is. Who or what is putting so much pressure on them to behave in such a manner? Is it our two little friends, ‘Greed and Ambition’ ? Or their close friend, ‘Self -Interest’? Does the HoC still have a register of members declared interests? If yes, it must be a complete work of fiction.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 1, 2019

      The CBI et al, see below.

    2. John C.
      April 1, 2019

      I am struck by the eagerness of so many to assent to an agreement that is generally seen as dreadful. No one actually seems to approve of it. To be keen to sign up to something that you don’t really agree with suggests some external pressure. Something really unattractive is going on. I don’t recall anything like this.

  8. Lifelogic
    April 1, 2019

    Indeed and was this why Mogg & Boris foolishly caved in to support May’s £39 billion straight jacket. If we get yet another vote on it it needs to be voted down by an ever larger margin.

    Boris today says:-
    To keep Corbyn out of No 10, my party must believe in Britain again
    We need to get on with delivering Brexit and rediscover our passion for One Nation Toryism

    The trouble is most “One Nation Conservatives” want “No Nation”, direct rule from Brussels bureaucrats, no democracy and are not really Conservatives at all. They are tax borrow and piss down the drain merchants (and pushers of green crap lunacy) like Philip Hammond.

    Hammond who with May gives us the highest, most complex & idiotic taxes for 40 plus years combined with endless project fear and other lies.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 1, 2019

      Even Steve Baker nearly supported it apparently!

      1. Chris
        April 1, 2019

        Yes, I read that and was very concerned.

      2. Hope
        April 1, 2019

        Johnson must realise by now he is not in a Conservative party. It just has the badge. As he been listening to recent events or is his love life taking priority over his senses?

      3. Tad Davison
        April 1, 2019

        Only under extreme duress, then he stood true to his word.

        If only every politician were of that same calibre. He’s a good man and very articulate. Not in the least robotic like some politicians. Under the right leader who can recognise his intelligence and his integrity, he could go far and eventually right to the very top. Like Sir John, he deserves our thanks and support.

        But his advancement will only happen if the UK leaves the EU, for these virtuous traits are impediments under their watch. They don’t want honest people, only sock puppets who will do their bidding and who love preening themselves and taking part in ‘family’ photos.


    2. SecretPeople
      April 1, 2019

      Yes, ToL is pushing Rudd as the ‘One Nation’ candidate. Says it all really.

    3. George Grimes
      April 1, 2019

      Your friend Boris voted for Mrs May’s deal. He must never again even be mentioned as a possible leader of the Conservative Party. He cares only for himself not the country nor freedom

  9. Newmania
    April 1, 2019

    Ha ha … good for you. May`s deal avoids the visible damage of the year or two motor aviation , agriculture and the border with NI whilst stopping Free movement . It works for the Politician who only worries about the story.
    In the economic medium term it is appalling .The UK would be cut off from its destiny as the hub of the world`s nascent market in services ( a catastrophe you do not seem to grasp at all) whilst kept regulated system in which we have no say designed by the centre left around post war manufacturing and agriculture . Brilliant , if we were in the 1950s and intended to stay there .
    When you think of the golden future we all had , just thrown away you could weep but the Deal is adds insult to grievous injury

  10. /IKH
    April 1, 2019

    Wow! I never cease to be amazed by how ignorant some MPs can be.

    Should not a class in basic logic be mandatory!


    1. Lifelogic
      April 1, 2019

      An understanding of negotiation, numeracy, risk/reward and game theory is what the negotiators needed. May and Oliver Robbins are pushing a WA so dire that only a traitor to the UK or a deluded fool could support it. Geography and PPE at Oxford people are clearly not too strong on this more like advanced colouring in for people not so good at maths, science, strategy or thinking I suspect.

      Marr very excited on This Week yesterday that “poorer people die slightly earlier than rich people”. Or to put it a rather more sensible way round if you are ill, a drug addict, obese, lazy, or smoke or drink to excess you are quite likely to earn less and be rather poorer.

      Can these daft BBC lefties not understand which is the likely cause and which is the effect? What is their solution?

    2. Turboterrier.
      April 1, 2019


      Never lose sight of the fact that “it is not a crime to be ignorant”

      It is a crime to show it.

      Sadly for the electorate we have been “blessed/cursed” with over 500 that have all managed to be in the same place at the same time.

      They are what they are and no amount of courses and training will ever change that. The lesson for the learning is always select the strongest leader with logic, common sense and life experiences. He/she will then sort out the wheat from the chaff.

      The other lesson that must be addressed is that the BBC as is has got to be reigned in. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog and their output borders on that of fifth column organisation.

    3. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      This is the reason why I have so much contempt for so many of them. Little wonder Sir John looks so exasperated when he tries so hard to make his point so clearly in the chamber, but the rest still fail to see it.

      What makes perfect sense to us, seemingly fails to register in the minds of so many MPs, so we are bound therefore to ask why?

      Can they really be so dim, or are we missing something, the influence of an unseen hand maybe, and the manipulation of a foreign political construct in our domestic affairs?


  11. Paul H
    April 1, 2019

    Smells very fishy – like it was a deliberate attempt to walk gullible MPs into precisely the trap that you spotted. Nothing appears to be too low for this government. Could they explain the advantages of voting down the implementing legislation instead of the direct route of rejecting the WA itself?

    1. eeyore
      April 1, 2019

      Presumably to get Brexit into law, leaving the details till later. I cannot share the indignation at these tactics. Governments govern as they can, not as they like. This government is desperate.

      What our host describes is the way politics is done in a whipped party system and other pressures will have been applied to other individuals.

      The latest kite being flown is that Mrs May withdraws A50 by her own personal signature under international law. If she does Sir John and his resolute colleagues know they will be ruthlessly blamed for the death of Brexit. Their consolations will be that they acted with honour, and that the people will be on their side.

    2. Zorro
      April 1, 2019

      This I’m afraid is typical May tactics. If only she was like that with Brussels we might have got somewhere. Now I wonder why she wasn’t like that…..


  12. oldtimer
    April 1, 2019

    It is beyond a joke. Evidently some late switchers must have been persuaded.

    I mulled over two questions during the weekend.

    Why does May keep coming back for more humiliation on humiliation trying to get her WA? Who is the organ grinder who keeps on insisting that she does?

    1. bigneil
      April 1, 2019

      Who is the organ grinder? Those in Brussels. They wanted us tied in and a daily, never-ending, cash supply from the UK.

    2. Denis Cooper
      April 1, 2019

      I would pin it on the CBI and other such powerful and vociferous business lobby groups. Not that I think it is necessarily anything to do with donations to the Tory party; it may possibly be that cynical and crude but I doubt it; rather I think it is because the Tory party likes to see and project itself as the party of business, and for some reason that has come to mean especially the minority of UK businesses which are involved in trading with the rest of the EU. I noted that those business groups warmly welcomed the Chequers plan and said Parliament should get firmly behind it, and I noted that Theresa May went and made a speech to the CBI about her wonderful deal even before she told MPs about it; so that is my conclusion, that even before we acquired Oliver Letwin as an alternative unofficial Prime Minister we already had Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI quietly fulfilling that role.

    3. agricola
      April 1, 2019

      The organ grinder is the establishment who love the EU. Roughly defined as, the CBI , the TUC , the BBC and others in the media, the senior civil service, those in reciept of tax free pensions from the EU. A largely remain HoC and HoL. The loose cabal that attend Davos and Bilderberg who have their own agenda for the way the World should go minus the inconvenience of democracy. The ultimate danger is not our relationship with the EU but the survival of democracy itself.

      1. Stred
        April 2, 2019

        Clarke made promises to Nissan and Toyota over a year ago in return for investment. This is more important to Remainers than the principle of Sovereignty. How about putting a 20% tariff on the 7 times more German cars that they sell to us than we sell to them. How long before they suggest a zero tariff deal.

    4. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      Good on ya OT!

      The more people who ask that question, the more will come to the conclusion that she is doing somebody else’s bidding. Little wonder she keeps rushing back to Brussels to get her next set of instructions.


    5. John C.
      April 1, 2019

      Presumably a European, if that gets us any closer.

  13. William Pentelow
    April 1, 2019

    Does this explain Johnsons and Rees Moggs capitulation?

    Reply No, this argument emerged later I think. The change of mind of some was related to the future of Mrs May

    1. RAF
      April 1, 2019

      Boris Johnson writing in the Telegraph yesterday called for no deal as it looks by far the best deal. However, he added that if that is not attainable then we need to get out now with an interim solution that can be ‘fixed’ after May steps down.
      If by an interim solution he is referring to May’s capitulation then surely once it is signed then that is game over? It’s a legally binding international treaty with the EU – who most likely formulated it – without an exit clause. How do you fix that, especially when your predecessor who allegedly negotiated it, has given away all your strong negotiating cards?

      Is Mr Johnson mistaken, uninformed, naive or being disingenuous?

    2. Lifelogic
      April 1, 2019

      Initially Mogg at least said he would only vote for it if the DUP did but then did so anyway. So perhaps it did have an effect.

    3. Bob
      April 1, 2019

      “The change of mind of some was related to the future of Mrs May”

      How could genuine EU sceptic Tory MPs believe that signing the UK into vassalage in exchange for the PMs resignation is a good deal.
      Mrs May is living on borrowed time already, as are the Tory MPs if they support vassalage.

      1. Mark B
        April 1, 2019

        Naked ambition can make blind the keenest of sight, make stupid the brightest of minds, and render the bravest of heart a total coward.

      2. Tad Davison
        April 1, 2019


        With regard to May’s resignation, I have studied the careful and selective wording of her ‘assurances’ on when she intends to step down. Suffice to say, I don’t think she plans to go any time soon. This is why I keep saying the only way to get rid is to find a way to force her removal.

        The restoration of faith and trust in the parliamentary process cannot happen whilst she is still in office. So it’s down to MPs to deliver us from this aberration, but therein lies a snag. A lot of them are little better than she is!


    4. Nigl
      April 1, 2019

      In other words, their ambitions nothing to do with the WA, what we voted or what is best for the country. More snouts in the trough.

  14. James Bertram
    April 1, 2019

    Well done for sticking to your principles, Sir John.
    It is all very simple, really. The Withdrawal Agreement is a terrible arrangement for our country and MUST NOT PASS. No self-respecting MP could ever vote for it. Anyone telling you otherwise cannot be trusted.

    1. Alan Jutson
      April 1, 2019


      Absolutely agree.

      Thank you JR for your stand for honesty, thought, mind, and deed, to vote against such a shocking proposal, the Withdrawal Agreement, and exposing such suggestive and duplicitous behaviour by Senior Members of the Government.

      Unlike many Mp’s you can still walk tall around Parliament, knowing you have not lowered yourself or your standards for simple political means.

  15. Dominic
    April 1, 2019

    How naive and indeed arrogant to think May and her lackeys could deceive an experienced politician like Sir John in this clumsy manner.

    The anger amongst Tory Eurosceptics is now surely reaching boiling point and on the verge of something explosive

    Though, let’s not underestimate the devious, malfeasance nature of May. She is capable anything and I am certain she’s not finished in her quest to handcuff the UK to the EU using whatever means she can muster

    Keep up the good work. You have 18m people behind you. May’s got Merkel and Juncker behind her. Oh, and a few thousand propaganda marchers from the Remain camp

    1. sm
      April 1, 2019

      ‘Naive and arrogant’ – pretty well my first thoughts, Dominic; attempting to twist John Redwood’s arm, of all people!!!

      Anyone here caught up with Dr Alice Weidel’s speech to the Bundestag recently? She made quite a few interesting points about the conflict between German and French interests, and the way it has influenced Brussels’ response to Brexit.

    2. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      Agree entirely!

  16. Roy Grainger
    April 1, 2019

    Interesting. Of course I bet those same ministers spoke to lots of other MPs and just replaced “free trade/WTO” with whatever that particular MP’s personal preference was.

  17. Nigl
    April 1, 2019

    Asking for trust in something and someone beset with lies, duplicity and secrecy like brainwashed lapdogs and thinking the voters somehow will not notice or understand.

    ‘April fools’ indeed.

    Ps Boris again this morning demonstrates how his vision and enthusiasm is head and shoulders above the rest of the wannabes, some frankly ridiculous if they think they have prime ministerial skills, and opposition to him is looking increasingly like jealousy and resentment rather an objective view on who would be best for the party and country.

  18. McBryde
    April 1, 2019

    I hope your message reaches the country via some form of MSN, JR .
    Then they will see that we have the fox guarding our henhouse.

    Now, through desperation, these bullies are being forced into the light.

  19. J Bush
    April 1, 2019

    All Fools Day.

    Firstly, this is not directed at you and I respect your decision to stand firm on the referendum result and the manifesto you were voted in on.

    There is no substitute for sovereignty.

    This country’s economy is successful, because of the people who create and run the successful businesses within it.

    Do those who voted for May’s surrender document really believe the electorate will be convinced they are working in their and the country’s best interest? Do those who want overturn the referendum result really believe they know best? Do they believe they are the people in the country who have degrees? I suspect there are more people outside Parliament who have academic qualifications who vastly surpass their PPE and Geography degrees within Parliament. And they seek to lecture us!

    Not content with lecturing the electorate on how they must make our decisions for us because they know best, they also call us thick and stupid as well! While we quietly witness their glaring vacuum of knowledge, experience and their self-interest writ large in neon lights.

    There are those in Parliament who appear determined to prove they are indeed Fools.

  20. George Brooks
    April 1, 2019

    What a disgusting insult to one’s intelligence Sir John and one does not need much imagination to think where this idea was hatched. Anything just anything to push that appalling WA over the line.

    How on earth did we manage to end up with such a devious bunch in No 10?

  21. agricola
    April 1, 2019

    They were the slippery career politicians selling snake oil. You did well to resist and should continue to do so. There is too much dishonest or muddled thinking floating through the HoC at present.

  22. John Sheridan
    April 1, 2019

    I wondered why my long-time Brexiteer MP said he was voting for the WA after being opposed for so long. It seems he might have bought in to the back-it-now, vote-against-it-later dream.

  23. Stred
    April 1, 2019

    This lines up with the reason for supporting the WA by Ian Duncan Smith and Dominic Raab. Lord Peter Lilley also gave the most persuasive reason for voting for the vile document in his article in the Sun. This devious government will collude with the international socialist Labour MPs to offer a choice between capitulation or remaining with almost all EU rules including freedom of movement. Then the EU will agree to a very long extension to A50. The plan was agreed by Robbins in Brussels. They were floating the idea of sending nominated MEPs instead of elected but may even agree with Junker to have no election in the UK. As he says, sometimes you have to lie. With May and two thirds of the Conservative MPs, its always, not sometimes. Especially when working for big business.

  24. William1995
    April 1, 2019

    An astounding insight into the operation of this May government. Thank you for sharing it. Needless to say we really need to have a change of leader to get rid of this kind of rot.

  25. Denis Cooper
    April 1, 2019

    What they were suggesting would be dishonest and dishonourable, and the sort of sneaky clever dick tactics I most associate with the Liberal Democrats – “We will make a show of letting it through now, while quietly planning to make sure it gets stopped later”.

    That would not have been the same as saying that you still strongly opposed it but for compelling extraneous reasons you would hold your nose and vote for it and only resume your opposition once it had been passed.

    However you made your decision to continue to vote against it, which was an honourable decision just as it would have been honourable to vote for it under open protest.

  26. Norman
    April 1, 2019

    Glad they picked the wrong man! I suppose they’d say, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. Sadly,I suspect this is the cancerous corrupting influence of Brussels that has got into the Mother of Parliaments. Shame on them! Thank you so much for exposing this. I feel that even were we to lose the day, this would prove we were right to espouse this cause. And even if we do win through, there’s such a lot of clearing out to do, to make Parliament half respectable, and worthy of its once noble foundations.

  27. Sir Joe Soap
    April 1, 2019

    Your friends are having you over. Machiavelli clearly alive and well there.

    Good to hear yet more grist to the mill of getting rid of most of these current MPs and getting a house of non-Machiavellian folk. For that we need to join those Associations and get sensible candidates.

  28. Graham Wood
    April 1, 2019

    Once again Thank-you Sir John for standing firm with your characteristic
    clarity of mind and purpose.
    The problem for your colleagues and many others who would have persuaded you otherwise
    is the old one that almost never does the end justify the means. This was no exception.

  29. Sir Joe Soap
    April 1, 2019

    BBC realising Common Market 2.0 might be the new plan. This might have been acceptable in June 2016, but by her perverse and stupid way of doing business since then, May has blown that one.

  30. oldwulf
    April 1, 2019

    So far as most MPs are concerned, politics is merely a dirty game. Sadly, for the electorate, the MPs are the gateway to democracy.

  31. Richard1
    April 1, 2019

    Unbelievable. We have to blame the leadership. People take their lead from the top in an organisation and govt is no different. May is incapable of making a coherent in principle argument for her terrible deal, just robotically repeats it’s the only option. She needs to go now. Not in the autumn, not in the summer, now.

  32. formula57
    April 1, 2019

    Reprehensible behaviour by Government ministers but revealing of their desperation and foolishness.

    It might too explain how some of your colleagues, previously robust in defence of the British people, have been apparently seduced to imprudently support May’s Withdrawal Surrender.

  33. a-tracy
    April 1, 2019

    Well the threat the papers report seems to be ‘agree to the WA or you’ll get a Custom’s Union even softer Brexit’ with Labour’s help, but that would be their big mistake as it then becomes the Labour Parties Brexit Botch. You need to protect your weaker colleagues from themselves because May resigning would leave them with such a mess to sort out they will carry the can for her and her delegates stitch up.

  34. cynic
    April 1, 2019

    Snake oil salesmen! Why are such untrustworthy people in the Government?

  35. AndyC
    April 1, 2019

    I think you should name names. It’s time the seditionists were dragged into the sunlight.

  36. Chris
    April 1, 2019

    We had figured this out already, Sir John, and that is why so many in the electorate are hopping mad. The fact that IDS, BM and R-M succumbed tells us all we need to know about their principles. They all purport to be bright, intelligent men so they could not have misunderstood the real implications of their vote. All this nonsense about being able to change things later was promoted also by Dominic Cummings in the last few days if reported comments are true. One then has to examine other reasons: lack of principle, cowardice, opportunism for some, contempt for voters, being completely out of touch with voters, lack of comprehension about how normal people behave and what values they have? Could having been living in the Westminster bubble for too long have anything to do with it? This swamp needs draining, numbers of MPs cut significantly, and a complete overhaul of selection rules. Far too many duds have been allowed into the system and it is left to a few good men like Sir John to try to uphold principles and trust and defend our democracy.

    Boris’s article in the Telegraph online last night indicates that he thinks he can pull the wool over people’s eyes about why he is apparently voting to support May’s WA. My advice to Boris, don’t dig yourself in any deeper. You are toast with many really angered and disgusted voters. Start instead to try and do the decent thing.

  37. Bryan Harris
    April 1, 2019

    Nice explanation of the chicanery you have to put up with, JR. Well done on sticking to your integrity, and making it clear for us readers what goes on.

    The key point you make is that once we have signed the treaty then that is it – there is no room to change anything.
    No other EU treaties, to my knowledge, have been amended after signatures applied… but of course, that wouldn’t matter – We have no leverage to insist on post signing alterations – May has already given everything away.

  38. matthu
    April 1, 2019

    Martin Howe points out that “the Political Declaration has legal effects because the WA requires the UK as well as the EU to negotiate an agreement in line with it. It will not be possible for the UK to insist on negotiating a future relationship deal which contradicts the PD.”

  39. A.Sedgwick
    April 1, 2019

    Appalling but not surprising, the whole Cabinet is untrustworthy or they would not be there.

    I repeat yet again my long held view that FPTP has to go. Although deals may be done, each party would be united, each vote cast would count and backroom deals would be less. For generations the reality that general elections are decided by at most 100 seats and less than 1 million votes has been glossed over. Conservative, Labour and SNP are grossly over represented by percentage votes.

    The EU Referendum result has opened the box.

    No deal will only happen if the EU tell us to”go away”.

    A GE is inconceivable quite simply because the manifestos would be deceits beyond deceits and few would believe a word.

    Another referendum is very plausible.

  40. cosmic
    April 1, 2019

    Lads, we have a problem with these people who won’t support May’s deal. Get out and tell them anything you think they’re silly enough to swallow.

    Tell the leavers that it’s a step on the way to a proper exit from the EU.

    Tell the remainers, that cancelling Brexit won’t do, but support the deal and we’ll be back in as full members within a year.

  41. The Prangwizard
    April 1, 2019

    More evidence that May is leading a criminally minded government, she being the driving force.

    Clearly our host is angry enough to tell this story – it certainly deserves telling – but it a pity loyalty to the party prevents names being named. I dare say they are known elsewhere.

    It’s a little like a victim of a beating telling the police but refusing to say who did it because they were in the same gang.

  42. Chris
    April 1, 2019

    The whole issue when viewed from outside is very simple, and Sir John has just outlined that. You have a choice in life: to act with honesty and integrity, and to defend your principles and honour your promises, or not.

    There is an enormous implication for the country when MPs do not behave with honour, and that is that our freedom will ultimately be lost. Those who succumb to bullying, blackmail or whatever and lose their principles are in hock to others and are no longer free. On a larger scale, this means that a country could lose its freedom if MPs behave without honour, as is being illustrated starkly now.

    Former President Reagan’s words could not be more apt:

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what is was once like in the United States where men were free….”
    Ronald Reagan

  43. a-tracy
    April 1, 2019

    Sir John, How do you reassure James O’Brien and others that say “we’ve got sitting MPs talking about WTO terms as if that was even a thing, as opposed to an international safety net, designed to rescue countries that have been turned into basket cases by circumstances beyond their control from complete economic collapse. It’s not something you would ever choose.”

    The thing that always surprises me is that people like JO’B don’t accept that the Con/LibDem coalition government had to put austerity policies together on instructions from the EU to keep within their debt and deficit rules (didn’t the IMF also say we had to reduce both too I remember Osborne like Lagarde’s little sock puppet said so – the BBC reported “As in May, the IMF is quite clear that the government was right, in 2010, to set out clear targets for getting borrowing under control.” He calls himself a centrist yet he explicitly believes he is right on everything he believes. It must be great to be so sure of yourself. Me, I question myself and other’s every day. That’s why I would really appreciate your response to these two matters.

    1. Can you reassure people like Mr O’Brien on WTO?
    2. Was austerity a Con/LibDem unnecessary punishment beating or was it to comply with rules and instructions from the IMF?

    Reply We do the bulk of our non EU trade under WTO rules. The member state sets the tariff schedule.
    The cuts in budget deficit were part of a programme to comply with the EU budget rules

  44. MPC
    April 1, 2019

    I feel an April Fool this morning having made the mistake of turning Radio 4 on in the car and hearing a minister (Liz Truss I think) saying that the WA is the ‘only well thought through option’. Yes extremely well thought through by the EC! I immediately switched off after hearing this.

  45. nshgp
    April 1, 2019

    Leave now, do deals later

  46. Original Richard
    April 1, 2019

    Thank you, Mr. Redwood, for continuing to vote against the EU’s surrender document, aka the WA.

    I am devastated that my Conservative MP has voted for this treaty, despite voting it down twice, and that Mr. B. Johnson, Mr. Raab and Mr. Davis have supported it.

    Perhaps they all think that they can fool the electorate into thinking that their party will have delivered “Brexit” if it is signed when of course it does the exact opposite. Or for just long enough to get through the next GE.

    However, the electorate will realise how they have been shafted as EU directives, laws and taxes rain down on us without our ability to be represented or apply a veto, watch how the “future relationship” negotiations get bogged down and go no-where until we give in on every single item demanded by every single rEU country and will surely blame the Conservative Party for this enormous error and vote accordingly.

  47. Edwardm
    April 1, 2019

    This makes one certainly worry about the reasoning ability of ministers.
    How can they guarantee that the WA would later be defeated if initially approved.
    As you say, why take the risk and lose one’s reputation.

    It’s additional evidence we have the wrong people in government – and as MPs.

    With all the serious concerns raised about the WA, most people would take note and reject it, unlike most MPs who are wilfully blind to the problems.

  48. BW
    April 1, 2019

    David Gauke. Another one who demands a customs union against what he stood for in the manifesto to get his seat. Don’t want for him to resign. Sack him.

    1. Tad Davison
      April 1, 2019

      Yes, collective cabinet responsibility in action (or should that be inaction?)


  49. Dodgy Geezer
    April 1, 2019

    I was told by my MP that a study had shown that a no-deal would lose many thousand jobs.

    I read the study. It did not say this. He had lied to me.

    In this kind of world you are right not to trust anyone and to stick to principles…

    1. Nigl
      April 1, 2019

      He hadn’t read it, said what he was told to by his Chief Whip relying on you also not having read it.

      This is a recurring theme, taking us for ignorant fools who can be lied to.

    2. John C.
      April 1, 2019

      He may not have lied to you. He probably hadn’t bothered to read the report. He was just following the party line. Make sure you don’t vote for him again.

  50. Lynn Atkinson
    April 1, 2019

    Maastricht all over again!

  51. William Long
    April 1, 2019

    I understood that there was an assumption that Members of Parliament are ‘ Honourable men’. Clearly this does not extend to the two government Ministers who spoke to you, and to anyone who put them up to it.

  52. John Hatfield
    April 1, 2019

    Well done John – again.

  53. Lorna
    April 1, 2019

    How shocking ! Thank heavens for the likes of you John !
    Is it not vital that Brexiteers do not vote for the WA should the PM bring it back and regardless of what they voted last week ?
    I am thinking if Letwin and co attempt to pass a CU option ,Norway plus etc that would rely on the WA being passed in Parliament!

    If the WA is not passed it can not go forward to the next stage

  54. agricola
    April 1, 2019

    A thought on immigration. There is a chance that we crack this walnut with a sledgehammer. I have no objection for instance to the Albanian who manages and the six Romanians who run the car wash in my local Tesco car park. They work hard and do a good job. They are not keeping any unemployed Brits out of a job that they are not prepared to do. You could say the same for the many EU agricultural workers who through their work make possible forms of agriculture that would otherwise be impossible.

    My only objection to free movement is that it allows the free loaders and criminals an easy entry to a new open market place. So whatever our future relationship with the EU is, we need an assured system of ensuring that those who come to work are free to do so, pay their dues to HMRC and then most people should be happy because they get their flowers on mothers day and a clean car. Immigration is not the problem, that is created by how you run it.

  55. Excalibur
    April 1, 2019

    You are an honourable man, JR. Your have my full respect and I’m sure, of many others. Do not waver. Your superior intellect will win the day for us. Keep working on the ‘snowflakes’, and be wary of TM’s machinations. She is pathologically wedded to her Withdrawal Agreement, and will not shrink from any action, no matter how base, to see it through.

  56. Hugh Rose
    April 1, 2019

    I understand the need for and respecting confidential discussions but did the two ministers concerned ask you to keep their lobbying confidential? Presumably they said they were acting with Government authority when they approached you.

    I can think of no legitimate reason why you cannot publish their names – indeed I think you should do so. The voters must know who to eliminate from future candidates lists at future general elections and this includes those who are acting unethically or trying to persuade you to do so in private.

    Thank you for being incorruptible!

  57. Ignoramus
    April 1, 2019

    Everyone can see that offering huge sums of money to be spent in leave supporting Labour
    constituencies to influence their MPs votes is blatant bribery, whether or not it is “transactional politics”. What is the fundamental difference between this and early 19th century bribing of voters by candidates?

    It is a shame Mrs May can not be prosecuted.

  58. BR
    April 1, 2019

    Wow. Exposing the duplicitous nature of people who are supposed to be running the country.

    I wonder how many other MPs, less experienced than yourself, have fallen for such guff. Perhaps the ERG need to run a counter-campaign to point out what you said – that the government could sign it then seek rubber-stamping in Parliament.

    I suspect the next version of this will come back with the change being a customs union tacked onto it. Although May has said she wouldn’t support that, she has changed her mind on so many issues that this would probably attract no more than a weary comment to note the latest treachery. It seems that she is determined to get her deal over the line at any cost – seemingly she cares more about the EU than her country or party.

    At some point you guys must stop voting with the government on non-Brexit matters until she is forced to accept that she must go.

  59. rose
    April 1, 2019

    Shocking. Were these two Cabinet ministers remainers or was it one of each?

    1. rose
      April 1, 2019

      Sorry, Government ministers.

  60. Tony Sharp
    April 1, 2019

    Sir John,
    Can you not see that Mrs May will get a ‘coalition’ informal or formal with Labour MPs to get a Customs Union proposal through the House in defiance of what she stood on a Manifesto for? Can you not see she is willing to destroy the Tory Party if you do not Move a Vote of Confidence – or at least Abstain on one,- to remove her. Can you not see that you MUST split the Parliamentary Party and take the local CAs with your group as you have been betrayed by this lying, mendacious, deceiving, scheming agent of the EU who is hell bent on keeping the UK in a vassal status with it.
    Can you not see that if you do nothing there will neither be a parliamentary Party or a National Party left be the end of the week?

  61. rose
    April 1, 2019

    “As it was about an international Treaty what was to stop the government signing the Treaty on the back of the Parliamentary vote and then facing Parliament down to regularise it in UK law? Once the UK has signed the Treaty it is binding whatever Parliament does.”

    We have just seen the PM do this very thing when she went and agreed the extension without asking Parliament first.

  62. mary
    April 1, 2019

    You really couldnt make all this up could you, thank you Sir John for revealing this . I urge yourself and all the other MPs who are standing firm against this totally horrendous WA, continue to stand firm. You will be proved so right in the end

  63. Gareth Warren
    April 1, 2019

    I agree with your logic, although I suspect some brexiteers went for the “cunning plan”, which likely would then face the reality of a remain biased parliament blocking it.

    I never expected a good deal to be offered by the EU when I voted for brexit. But they might change their tune when a UKUSA trade deal could effectively allow us to trade German and French car market share in the UK for free access to the US market.

    Its hard to say what conspiracies are abound, Corbyn went in to see the EU too, although if there were a conspiracy to stay in the EU from him then I’d expect he’d be voting or the WA. Instead he has his own plan, likely profit from the turmoil in the government.

    One interesting factor is the European parliament, I really don’t believe they place much value in it, but I could be wrong and the desire, especially from the French to remove us from it may be genuine. If so the April the 12th deadline is genuine too, I’d expect other problems to be created from the April 10th summit.

    I thank you again for standing up for a true brexit, better we risk being forced to remain in for a couple of years longer than ruin brexit with that WA.

  64. mancunius
    April 1, 2019

    And you were entirely right to resist their casuistic blandishments. Well done.

  65. mary
    April 1, 2019

    Sir John: I have written to several MPs who like yourself are wisely resisting this appalling Treaty, but I’m not in their constituency so they probably won’t even read it. But here’s what I put; if you have any influence with these MPs maybe you could get their ear:
    “You have admirably stood firm against this appalling misnamed Withdrawal Agreement, which is in fact a Suicide Surrender Treaty which will make us the laughing stock of the world. Please please continue to resist it if it is voted on a 4th time.
    “You must be familiar with Martin Howe’s objections to it, and there is worse: The Eurozone faces an imminent fiscal meltdown, and will proceed to full fiscal and political integration in order to survive. We will be taxed to the hilt to help pay for the meltdown, and full totalitarian control will be used to make us pay. Plus we’ll be tied to them militarily. Do you really want a future like that ? The first step to avoid all this is to resist this treaty”.

  66. Darren Webb
    April 1, 2019

    The best way to solve a big problem is with lots of little solutions.
    If you want a trade deal then go WTO on 12 Apr 2019.
    If you want a services deal (we don’t have as members) then create one.
    If you want a people residency deal then create one.

    I do not like the remain sandbox that is the WA.
    I really do not like it needs more legislation than the Withdrawal Act 2016.
    Is there a problem with ending the European Communities Act as outlined in Section 1

  67. mary
    April 1, 2019

    Except by the standards of a banana republic, May’s extension of Art 50 was illegal and we left the EU on 29 March. So any attempts to wheel out the “Withdrawal Agreement ” should be thrown out,

  68. R. Piway
    April 1, 2019

    It looks like T.May is creating situations where even the sane and rational eventually come to doubt their own sanity and rationality. These are actions of psychopaths.
    Surely our government should have principles and scruples, what sort of people are in power that browbeat, harass and threaten their colleagues to sell their country and its people to a foreign entity. This is turning into a total nightmare, that one female, can destroy a centuries old ruling system and an entire country and nation. How did the conservative party allow that to happen???

  69. Stuart K
    April 1, 2019

    Thank you for this very interesting insight, Sir John, and for showing true integrity in the face of quite appalling chicanery.

  70. Ken Moore
    April 1, 2019

    Thank you Dr Redwood for standing your ground. ‘Angrily explained’…who do these jumped up government twerps think they are!

    It seems obvious that Mrs May cooked up this agreement with Mrs Merkel in order to cancel the referendum result. It is a grubby nasty deal designed to deceive and it is to your and colleagues credit that you can see this.

  71. Ken Moore
    April 1, 2019

    I think the former Greek finance minister had it right when he described the WA as ‘an article of surrender that no nation would sign other than after being defeated in war’.

    Says something about the egoism of ministers that they are willing to override such concerns to please Olly Robbins and May.

    May increasingly gives me the creeps. She is one of those strange people that despises her own country and sees it as her duty to transform it out of all recognition. Everything she has touched turns to dust from the police service, Brexit to our very parliamentary system. Had Mp’s the guts to oust her in December we might be in a better place now.

    Major, Cameron, May…all fell from the same rotten tree can we have a proper Conservative next time ?

  72. Ditherywig
    April 1, 2019

    The behaviour by these two ministers is disgraceful. You should make their names known, after all, if they believed they were doing the right thing they would be happy to have their names published.
    As to an election, the Conservatives are facing extinction unless they regain their senses and get us a proper clean Brexit. I say this as a Conservative voter for the last 40 years but I and many others will never vote Conservative again.
    The Parliamentary party deserve to be punished in the most extreme way for their appalling betrayal of the British people.

  73. Kevin Lohse
    April 1, 2019

    Grateful thanks for keeping your word when all around you are losing their credibility. The ERG who remain true to their pledges and the will of the people will provide the nucleus of a reformed Conservative party once the electorate have wreaked their revenge on the sell-outs.

    1. margaret howard
      April 2, 2019


      My guess is that they will be as successful as UKIP in the long run.

  74. margaret
    April 1, 2019

    Being true to yourself.. this is the sort of thing I would do so can understand how playing it straight can make things easier.

  75. William Simpson
    April 2, 2019

    This tale of dishonesty on the part of the government ministers is quite staggering, but goes some way to explaining the inexplicable reversals by several staunch Leavers, such as Johnson, Rees-Mogg, McVey et al. In no way does it do their reputations any good whatsoever, and rules them out for any career advancement in any (unlikely) future Tory administration. We all knew politicians’ morality was ranked rather low down the scale, but this proves it. It is a relief that the lack of integrity is not universal, and I commend your honesty.

  76. William1995
    April 5, 2019

    May has asked for an extension, which is good because remaining is better than her WA. Now is the time to remove her and replace her with someone competent. We cannot get to 30 June and be in the same position as today. Conservatives are really dropping the ball here.

  77. William1995
    April 5, 2019

    May is legitimising Corbyn as a statesman capable of running the Country by essentially ceding power to him over Brexit. How are the conservatives going to ilegitamise his ability to govern come the next general election? We are headed for a Marxist government if we continue on this path with May.

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