Has the UK lost an empire only to lose her way?


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† In the post imperial world of the last seventy years the UK has sought to continue in a global role. This has caused arguments. Some have argued that we do need to join a United States of Europe, to have influence over a rising regional power in Europe. Others have said we need closer ties with the world’s only superpower, the USA.

               Neither of these approaches appeals to me. The UK would make European union that much more difficult. We do not share a full set of common foreign policy  interests with the rest of the continent. Nor do I see any need for closer ties with the USA. The framework of NATO works well. A participant country does not have to join in with an American war if they do not wish to. Particpants do benefit from a secruity guarantee when it comes to warding off any threat to their own borders. I have no more wish to be a state in the American Union than I do to be  a state in any United States of Europe.

                      The truth is the UK does not have to decide to integrate more either with Europe or the USA. The UK is a serious sized country with an island base. We do not have the border issues that countries on the continent face. Our borders are easy to police, and entrants to the UK have to come via just a few main ports and airports.

                     We can choose what kind of a world role to undertake. We should keep our membership of NATO to add allies to our defence forces, just in case a new military  threat should ever emerge to our independence. We should keep friendly relations with the continent, and reach agreements on trade, transport links  and other matters of common interest with our neighbours. We should strengthen and nurture the Commonwealth.

                   In our current economic plight it might be wise to avoid too stretching a world role. We need a little time to get our public spending under control and to get our economy firing on all cylinders again. We need a strong  diplomatic corps to project our interests and concerns. We should keep sensible forces that are mobile and capable of intervention from sea and air so we can contribute to wise UN and NATO tasks that make sense for us. We should have an aid programme to assist with famine, flood and other disasters. We should not be offering aid to nuclear weapons countries, or think that old style aid will lift countries torn by civil war or marred by bad dictators out of poverty.

                       We should think better of ourselves. We do not need to tie ourselves irrevocably to any major power.We have strong links across the Channel, and strong links across the Atlantic. There will be many things we wish to do with our European neighbours, and many we wish to do with our American allies. Each one should be judged against the questions can we do it, do we want to do it, and is it in our interests to do it?

                        We have lost an empire, but have a world to influence. The UK can be a force for the good. We should help assemble coalitions of the willing for causes we believe in, from free trade and democracy, to civil liberties and the attack on poverty.


  1. Duyfken
    July 28, 2011

    Britain did not just lose an empire – it unwisely and ungraciously turned its back on the Commonwealth when the Common Market seemed to have greater attractions. It may now regret such perfidy but I suggest every effort should now be made to restore this historical and unique relationship. I note Cameron has made overtures to India, Hague recently visited Oz, and William and Kate went to Canada – it will need much of the same and more to show the UK can be a reliable partner.

    1. Martin
      July 28, 2011

      I can’t help but think that the Commonwealth is a great illusion dreamed up to make some folk think we still have an empire. Canada does much of its trade with its neighbor the USA. Australia probably sells more iron ore to China in a month that Britain could use in a year.

      I have visited many commonwealth countries. Can you tell me what it means to have a commonwealth passport? Nothing whatsoever. I get the same treatment as an Italian or an American.

      As far as I can make out commonwealth countries get to put the Queen’s head on their stamps/coins etc and enter the Commonwealth games. (Wow!)

  2. Stuart Fairney
    July 28, 2011

    “We should keep our membership of NATO to add allies to our defence forces, just in case a new military threat should ever”

    No, we shouldn’t. NATO was a cold war creature which is now looking for relevance and a job to do, (so look out if you are a Libyan toddler).

    If a new threat emerges, let’s address it at the time, right now there is nothing is sight.

  3. Mike Stallard
    July 28, 2011

    We do not have to be a huge, arrogant power. It is quite enough to be a smaller well equipped country with a decent sized military presence and our usual benevolence.
    We badly need to get our finances straight though, immediately.

    So stop interfering in the Arab world! We seem to involve ourselves often (Iraq, John Reid, Libya) quite flippantly and then, once in, find that it is impossible to escape with dignity. We have absolutely no business in Afghanistan or Libya. (Iran is the real danger, of course but that it, surely, a world problem, not just ours.)

    Clever correspondents in the Spectator often say that the Right Wingers are daft and are not what the country wants. They compare them to the Far Left under Michael Foot or Neil Kinnoch and say that they are election losers.

    Reading the above, I cannot believe that they are saying that. Every word you wrote seems to be utterly common sense!

    1. forthurst
      July 28, 2011

      “(Iran is the real danger, of course but that it, surely, a world problem, not just ours.)”

      Why? Don’t believe all you read in papers, especially if the author is a ‘dual loyalty’ sophisticate.

      1. Stuart Fairney
        July 28, 2011

        Yes, exactly right. Who has Iran invaded since 1979?

        How many nukes do they have? Why is it okay for Israel and Pakistan to have nukes?

        1. Stuart Fairney
          July 31, 2011

          Still in moderation??

        2. Stuart Fairney
          August 2, 2011

          Please do not censor my posts without noting the censorship.

          Can you tell me why this was censored given that it was simply the truth?

          If you were unable to verify the translation why not simply note ‘translation uncomfirmed by this blog’

          I simply delete anything which could cause legal troubles or which I do not have time to check out. It is helpful to me and to other readers if you summarise the case you want to make in your own words.

  4. Gary
    July 28, 2011

    Why try to cozy up to either the EU or the USA, by all accounts they are both headed for economic collapse.

    The only thing we should concentrate on is producing world class export goods that are in high demand globally. That is the best sort of influence.

    Stop this World Policeman nonsense. Stop fighting illegal wars. Stop spending vast amounts of precious capital on foreign offense, rather than far less on border defense.

    btw the govt IT report is another reminder that the govt cannot conduct business. £15 billion on mostly failed IT projects. Cartels stitching the govt up. Paying up to ten times the retail price for a PC. Etc etc.

    1. Bob
      July 28, 2011

      I don’t understand why these public sector procurement jockeys can’t use the internet to google for better prices. I’m pretty sure they could find a decent PC for less than ¬£3,500. I suppose the problem is that the public sector tend to employ the dregs that no one else wants.
      If a private company employed people like that they’d go bust in no time.

    2. Stuart Fairney
      July 28, 2011

      Well said, I agree entirely.

    3. lifelogic
      July 28, 2011

      Indeed no one in government cares how much anything cost or whether the computer system works (indeed supplier and internal staff often make more if it does not). So long as some one pays for them and for their hansom pensions they are happy. I suspect the expenditure by government is at best 20% of the efficiency of someone buying something for themselves with their own money.

  5. alan jutson
    July 28, 2011


    We may have lost (given up) an empire, but that did not mean we had to dump AND sever all meaningful contracts with the countries in the old Commonwealth of nations (perhaps at the time our very own common market) to join a bunch of countries (the EU) with which we had much less in common at the time.

    Whilst it was perhaps good that we gave at first direction, and then independence to many commonwealth countries, to then dump them like we did in our scramble to join an ever growing socialist europe was in my opinion a grave error, particularly when we now see many of those countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong and the like, moving forward at a much faster rate and in a better financial position than we now find ourselves.

    We have in the past influenced many countries the world over, but that was when we had both power, financial clout, and logistical organisational ability.
    All of those traits have now gone, we have to face facts, we are but now a small island, overcrowed, overregulated, overtaxed, overburdened by debt, that cannot even control its own destiny without EU interfernce.
    We are trying to desperately hold onto the position of punching above our weight in a world that is changing fast and leaving us behind.

    I am no raging royalist, but the Queen has shown far more commonense than any politician, in attempting to keep what ties we have with the old Commonwealth of Nations, what a shame others did not have that forsight.

  6. Peter van Leeuwen
    July 28, 2011

    For the foreseeable future, you’d still be native speakers of the world’s linga franca. Not a bad asset, even if you wouldn’t ‚Äúrule the waves‚ÄĚ anymore.
    I’m curious whether, like your colleague Daniel Hannan, you’d want to leave the European Convention. If not, you’d still have to contend with the court’s opinions and abide by its verdicts.

  7. Stewart Knight
    July 28, 2011

    I agree with every word.

    The problem is Labour and the lefty socialist parties and organisations who seek to make us ashamed of being who we are and what we have achieved over the past couple of thousand years.

    1. uanime5
      July 29, 2011

      Whereas the right and the Conservatives destroyed all our manufacturing industries in order to make short term profits.

  8. Robert Eve
    July 28, 2011

    Good post John.

    1. APL
      July 28, 2011

      Robert Eve: “Good post John.”

      Yes indeed. With the various themes being discussed by our host, a cynic might think there is a Tory leadership contest brewing.

  9. Javelin
    July 28, 2011

    Britain has power because of it’s deep tradition of creativity, fairness, inventiveness, goid manners, commerce. It is looked up to around the world. I always remember one girl friend studying law at Harvard saying how she spent most of the first year studying English law. Another German girlfriend saying how lucky I was not to have to learn English. Many foreigners all come here and admire the depth of our culture and history without holocaust, aggression or revolution. We are the model of civilisation.

    I don’t see us not being a world leader. I do see a few politicians soaked in Marxism apologising for our adventure and desire to trade with the world. In both India and Canada they are immensely proud of their 300 years under Britsh rule and the strength of the culture they have adopted. Britain needs to stand on her own and stand up for her own self interests and leave the hand wringing and apologies to those marxist soaked luvies with guilty tendencies.

    1. Gary
      July 28, 2011

      In Canada polls regularly show that the majority favor cutting ties with Britain. Only 5% of Canadians could identify the queen as head of state


    2. uanime5
      July 29, 2011

      “Many foreigners all come here and admire the depth of our culture and history without holocaust, aggression or revolution.”

      You never studied history did you. What about the war fought by Oliver Cromwell or the Glorious Revolution? Don’t either of these count?

  10. Denis Cooper
    July 28, 2011

    I can’t say that I’m particularly optimistic about the prospects for any renegotiation of the EU treaties which would be in our national interests, with or without the LibDems having a hand in it.

    Yesterday there was an article on ConservativeHome:


    in which the supposedly expert author wrote:

    “The euro crisis means it is inevitable that the European treaties will be renegotiated”,

    completing ignoring the fact that there has already been renegotiation, and a crucial treaty amendment wanted by the euro-federalists was formally agreed on March 25th, and Cameron demanded and got nothing in return.

    By itself that treaty amendment, European Council Decision 2011/199/EU:


    may possibly not be enough, but on the other hand I suspect that it will release the eurozone states to do more or less whatever they want and so it will be enough for the time being.

    It should be borne in mind that they have already started to do that through the European Financial Stability Facility:


    for which there is no legal base in the EU treaties, and which promptly adopted a “credit enhancement mechanism” which is illegal under those treaties.

    Once the agreed amendment to Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union had come into force, there would be a legal base in the EU treaties for the eurozone countries to go off and set up the European Stability Mechanism, as already agreed by this treaty which they signed on July 11th:


    and as such agreements are between just the eurozone states the UK would have no direct say on what they decided to do.

    That Decision 2011/199/EU will have to be approved by an Act of Parliament before it can come into force, but recalling how the government slipped approval of the first post-Lisbon treaty amendment through as a more or less unnoticed irrelevant Part 2 of the European Union Bill it would be no surprise if the same was attempted with this second amendment.

  11. Richard Roney
    July 28, 2011

    Whilst I support your article in general I wonder why you have failed to mention the Commonwealth. I think we should strengthen our ties with the various countries within in it, particularly with this that believe in the rule of law, democracy and the freedom of the individual.

    Reply: I agree and would be happy to add that to today’s piece

    1. Norman Dee
      July 28, 2011

      He very clearly says we should strengthen and nurture our ties with the commonwealth.

  12. oldtimer
    July 28, 2011

    I think that this is a very sensible agenda and, following on from your previous post, more readily achieved if the UK is outside the European Union. If the UK remains inside the EU, the EU foreign affairs bureau will grow stronger and stronger and the UK`s separate influence will become weaker and weaker – ultimately losing its current position and standing on international bodies. This may indeed be an inevitable consequence of the UK`s current feeble financial and military standing.

    It will take several years for these weaknesses to be remedied and then, in my view, only if there are some fundamental policy changes made relating to taxation, to the removal of energy subsidies and the willingness to make use of the UK`s considerable energy resources. I remain doubtful whether the leadership of any of the three main political parties have either the nous, the will or the intention to make these changes. It will require a huge effort of persuasion not to mention the overthrow of the vested interests within the government bureaucracy to achieve the changes you rightly advocate. Yet if such change was achieved then I believe that the UK`s standing and influence in the world would be greatly enhanced.

    1. uanime5
      July 29, 2011

      Our financial problems are of our own making because Governments of all shades destroyed our manufacturing industry, didn’t invest in training, don’t value engineers, and gave companies no incentive to innovate.

      “[T]o the removal of energy subsidies and the willingness to make use of the UK`s considerable energy resources. … Yet if such change was achieved then I believe that the UK`s standing and influence in the world would be greatly enhanced.”

      How is increasing the amount of green house gases we produce going to increase our standing and influence? Unless other countries want to buy our power at best it will lead to a minor reduction in electricity bills.

  13. lifelogic
    July 28, 2011

    Indeed I agree fully and if Cameron put some pro business policies in place and halved the parasitic sector then we would could be strong economically which would help with with our world role too. It seems however that he won’t or at least will only use hot air rather than action.

    1. Bazman
      July 28, 2011

      Do you seriously think any of this wealth created in your free market fantasy will ever find it’s way into the pockets of the average wage earner and more precisely do you think the average wage earner deserves any of the extra money generated or should they just get the ‘market rate’.

    2. uanime5
      July 29, 2011

      So you want the number of teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, fire fighters, and police officers to be halved? How will that make this country better?

      Also do you want the number of MPs halved as well?

  14. SG
    July 28, 2011

    Motherhood and apple pie, John!

  15. Freeborn John
    July 28, 2011

    EU-sceptics need to present a better alternative vision of how the world would co-operate than the supra-nationalists. Essentially i see three possible models of which i am strongly against the first:

    1. the Kantian ‚Äėfoedus pacificum‚Äô with a supranational authority standing over nation-states
    2. the Hobbes-like system of fully-independent sovereign states answerable to nobody except their own leaders (and their voters for the democracies),
    3. the middle ground of independent sovereign states that enter co-operate but also enter into legally binding (treaties) constraints with one another that limit acts of international aggression, but which fall short of submitting to an over-arching supranational authority with its own legislative machinery whose output is binding on member-states.

    The Hobbes-like system 2 has only been benign because the law of the strongest has been that of the champions of individual liberty; first Britain and more recently the USA. Should a non-liberal state like China become the strongest state on Earth, then the character of a Hobbes-like world would probably change. EU-sceptics (supranational-sceptics) should advocate ‚Äėcoalitions of the willing‚Äô but avoid the impression that states should be totally free to pursue their own interests (or those of their leaders) irrespective of the harm they could cause to others. The 3rd (Grotian) option above is therefore to be preferred over the 2nd. We should also be insistent that all the states of the world become democracies and have a free-press, because of the constraint that voters impose on political leadership.

    If the UK is to advocate a liberal internationalism of the 3rd kind, then we have to act like Ghandi and ‚Äúbe the change we believe in‚ÄĚ. This means UK governments must stop drifting along the federalist ‚Äėcourse of least resistance‚Äô and demonstrate the better alternative. We should reduce the number of EU meetings (which now seem to occur almost monthly) that UK ministers attend and seek to remove the power of the EU supranational institutions (EU ‚ÄėParliament‚Äô, Commission and ECJ) over us in return for us not sending Britons to sit on those supranational bodies. Some of the freed-up time of British ministers could be used to attend much more informal meetings between leaders of the non-EU democracies worldwide, starting with the English-speaking countries, Japan, South Korea, India etc. and advanced non-EU states like Norway and Switzerland, expanding members over over time. These could discuss international issues of the day in a forum without any supranational law-making machinery and come up with whatever inter-governmental solutions that a subset of members who form a ‚Äėcoalition of the willing‚Äô can agree upon. By solving real world problems this way we can demonstrate intergovernmentalism works better than EU-style supranationalism where they institutions where effective policy outcome has long been a lower-order priority (or even accidental by-product) of their own self-serving mission to expand their power and budget.

    1. uanime5
      July 29, 2011

      “We should reduce the number of EU meetings (which now seem to occur almost monthly) that UK ministers attend and seek to remove the power of the EU supranational institutions (EU ‚ÄėParliament‚Äô, Commission and ECJ) over us in return for us not sending Britons to sit on those supranational bodies.”

      So we still have to pay to be a member of the EU but no longer have any say in how it works or the laws it makes. Also what are all the MEPs going to do with their spare time?

      “These could discuss international issues of the day in a forum without any supranational law-making machinery and come up with whatever inter-governmental solutions that a subset of members who form a ‚Äėcoalition of the willing‚Äô can agree upon. By solving real world problems this way we can demonstrate intergovernmentalism works better than EU-style supranationalism where they institutions where effective policy outcome has long been a lower-order priority (or even accidental by-product) of their own self-serving mission to expand their power and budget.”

      So the UK is going to solve all the world’s problems simple because we’re the UK and in a way that’s acceptable to every country in the world despite the different culture of every country?

      The problem with using a ‚Äėcoalition of the willing‚Äô is that if a single country decides not to obey it collapses. This does not occur with supranational bodies, which makes them much more stable.

  16. John
    July 28, 2011

    All very sensible John.

    However, will you go on to say what you (and we) can do about these policies? How can they possibly go any further without a very substantial number of MPs agreeing and pressing for these changes?

  17. Robbo
    July 28, 2011

    You understate the position massively when you say:
    “In our current economic plight it might be wise to avoid too stretching a world role.”

    I can see exactly what prominence on the world stage does for members of the political elite – when they fail at home they have lucrative and prestigious roles in UN, EU, IMF, World Bank and other transnational bodies to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed. But for the ordinary person, trying to make a living in the here and now, all of that adds up to nothing, except the big negative of unwarranted and ignorant interferance from abroad in our affairs, and the economic stiflement and taxation that goes with it.

    It¬īs well past time to forget about “cutting a figure on the world stage”, “UK punching above our weight” etc, and focus exclusively on with cutting the deficit and cutting the government down to size.

  18. D K McGregor
    July 28, 2011

    Off subject , I know , but I run a small limited liability company , no debt or overdraft is required or has been for years . I have just had sight of our draft accounts for year 2010 / 2011 and the profit and loss account tells a story , all categories are to a few percent the same as last year (up and down) except Rates + 22% , Heat and light +23% and the daddy of them all , Bank charges +50% (a £5000 increase , no interest or borrowing charges remember).
    Care to comment what a Conservative led government is doing to control these uncontrollable charges to my business ?

    1. lifelogic
      July 28, 2011

      Indeed monopoly or nearly monopoly suppliers (often of very little in the case of rates) robbing industry to pay for their idiotic gambles and poor government regulation.

    2. A.Sedgwick
      July 28, 2011

      Don’t worry inflation is only 5% – lies damn lies and Government statistics.

    3. Bazman
      July 28, 2011

      Under Labour you pay if you make money. Under the Tories you pay if you don’t make any money. Do I need to run that by you again?

      1. alan jutson
        July 30, 2011


        Just back from Holiday so not yet up to clear thinking speed, pray explain your statement, as I cannot follow its logic.

  19. Neil Craig
    July 28, 2011

    We still have a Commonwealth. Though most UK politicians ignore it it is a clinguistic community with whom we share history, culture and largely democracy and the rule of law, as well as distinct desirte not be part of anybody else’s hegemony. Taken together we have a GNP roughly that of the EU or USA. We would have to acept that, with the Indian economy now matching ours (soon considerably more than) we would no longer dominate but it is a forum where we would be more useful than in the EU or as America’s poodle.

    If we put only a few billion into space X-prizes Britain would certainly be the leading space power (the US puts in much more but it is wasted in NASA bureaucraccy). The potential of space development, economically and culturally, certainly far exceeds all our colonial adventures put together, even including the unfortunately lost 13 colonies.

  20. forthurst
    July 28, 2011

    Our politicians, on the whole, are both blinkered and hyperactice. This has lead us down numerous blind alleys, one of which is where we are now ensconsed.

    The left has dallied with neo-Trotskyite revolution, destroying a large part of our industrial base in the process. They at one time so admired the USSR, that they decided to take away the uncertainties and ‘inefficiencies’ of the market and ‘modernise’ us with their very own five year growth strategy, the ‘National Plan’. The left has now embraced Cultural Marxism in order to ‘modernise’ us away from such old-fashioned concepts as ‘England’ or ‘Englishness’ or ‘Normality’ or ‘Patriotism’ in favour of abolishing us to become an outlying region of a European superstate with no discernible ethnic, cultural, religious, or historical bonds.

    Meanwhile, the right, on the one hand has fought an extremely half-hearted campaign to undo the damage the left has inflicted, sometimes even either accepting or even pretending it hadn’t happened (e.g. the conspiracy to import three million third worlders or the abolition of our Treason laws) whilst at the same time desperately hanging on to a concept of ‘greatness’ by engaging in ill-considered, me too, adventurism abroad.

    An Island people have enormous strategic advantages over a continental population, relying on mountains or rivers or prior military conflicts for their country’s delineation. An Island people does not need an army to defend it; it needs a powerful navy that can strike anyone anywhere with such destructive force that no one would be prepared to interfere with it.

    We were and can again be, a maritime nation, trading with the world by offering products that others want to buy; to get back to our roots we will need to undo most of what politicians have done to us over a life time. “In Europe but not ruled by Europe” or “In a swimming pool but not getting wet” will not do; the “Special Relationship” or the USA’s ‘mini me’ costs the lives and limbs of our brave soldiers whilst undermining our reputation for fairness and impartiality abroad.

    We cannot start offering what others want to buy without getting back to an education system which is ability based (Cultural Marxist doctrine says that intelligence, especially racially-based, is a deceit based on prejudice) and which recognises that most added value is science based. Politicians must also understand that ‘picking winners’ etc is no substitute for a congenial business environment such that entrpreneurs can do that for which they themselves lack the talent.

  21. stred
    July 28, 2011

    Re DK McGregor’s off subject post. I was talking over a family lunch with a senior business advisor working for RBS group last year. The subject of inflation being way over the reported rate came up, then he told me that he had to go around telling his business account holders to greatly increase their prices in order to maintain profits. These were firms who were feeling the squeeze and lacking orders. If any went bust, the bank and taxman would be preferred creditors but everyone else would lose out. The market would be less competitive for the survivors.

    Our kitchen designer, working for a group that recently went down, has lost his pay for 5 months work. Fortunately we had not paid a deposit. This sort of behaviour by banks together with their unlimited margins and charges should be stopped. Perhaps the treasury is just as keen on inflation as the banks.

  22. pipesmoker
    July 28, 2011

    We should return to being a self governing independent island state where we hold the balance of power in Europe and are independent of the United States of America.

    I had no time for Harold Wilson but remember to his credit he refused to support the USA in the Vietnam War.

  23. Martin
    July 28, 2011

    Your economic analysis assumes the UK is a remote island. Northern Ireland is unhappy about the Irish Republic’s Corporation Tax Rate. Air Passenger Duty is another tax that has problems as passengers choose to fly from low tax nearby foreign airports (Dublin,Amsterdam etc). Cheaper excise duties are found in France.

    You can’t operate a free trade area without taxes being fairly similar otherwise the Tax becomes an import duty.

    If UK income taxes get too high then professionals (not just bankers) could leave for nearby EU countries.

    You state our borders are easy to police. Have you ever seen the queues that visitors have to endure at Heathrow? The tabloid press doubtless approve.
    We are an island with hundreds of small piers and harbours which are impossible to police. There are miles of remote beaches which cannot be policed. (In world war two they were mined and covered in barbed wire and even then the odd spy slipped in)

    Much of Britain’s Euro Sceptics are essentially people who can’t accept we are not a world power with an empire. The same people assume that ex colonies see a relationship with us as a number one priority. Like it or not we are well down the batting order.

  24. David Hepburn
    July 28, 2011

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    “My message [has been] sent to John Redwood’s diary”

    but it didn’t appear. Have I been subjected to your ‘Thought Police’?

    Best regards,

    David Hepburn

    Reply: I have been away for 4 days and am now catching up with moderation. To see your post speedily keep it short, don’t incite people to illegalities and don’t libel people. I will post yours when I get to it,and am not suggesting you have committed any of these.

    1. David Hepburn
      July 28, 2011

      OK, “awaiting moderation = ‘Thought Police’

      Understood. If you find my reply wanting, I’ll vote UKIP……

  25. Susan
    July 28, 2011

    The British are obsessed with the EU, both in following its rules, when other Countries such as France only follow the ones that suit them, and in seeing it as more important than it is in Global terms. The World has changed and we are on the cusp of a new World Order, in which the less democractic Countries of the World will have much more say. Britain has to find its place in this new, very competitive environment. Simply meddling in other Countries affairs and handing out aid in order to keep a certain profile in the World, will not be sufficient in the future. The new, potentially lucrative trading partners are now to be found well outside the EU borders. It is this new Global age which should obsess the British not the EU, as competing for trade may prove very difficult for the UK.

    The UK is in decline, both socially and economically, from which it will take years to recover, if ever. Poor education, over generous welfare, failure to reform public services, too large a state, lack of investment in infrastrucure and many more issues have contributed to Britains decline. What is left for the future is debt, high taxation, poor services, lack of skilled work force, falling living standards and a rising population, not things that would encourage anyone to invest in Britain. To cure all these problems the measures needed would be so painful for certain sections of the public, no Government up to now has had the courage to take them.

    The UK is also a divided Country, with devolved Governments and the threat of Independence for Scotland. The Scots are very pro the EU and see their future as an independent Country at the very heart of it. So there would appear to be a difference of opinion between the English and the Scottish on this matter.

    There is merit in the argument that standing alone as a small Country, as the UK is, could prove very difficult in a World which is changing so much. Especially for a Country which does not seem to have the will or the ability to embrace the changes which are needed to attract the wealth creators to its shores. It could be, in time, if Government policy remains the same, the UK will need all the friends it can get. Only progressive, forward thinking Countries, with the aim to to attract all the investment and growth in the private sector it can, can succeed on their own, and this the UK definitely is not.

  26. Bob
    July 28, 2011

    Are you trying to nick UKIPs manifesto?

  27. Alan Wheatley
    July 28, 2011

    We lost an empire but we gained a Commonwealth, and the only thing I would change in what you say is to give far more emphasis to the Commonwealth. We have every good reason to have confidence in ourselves, despite Foreign Office policy of recent decades, and the more we forge a sensible path the more the rest of the Commonwealth will choose to come along with us as active partners to our mutual benefit.

    We would do well to remember Britain did well from international trade in the days of sail, and now communication is infinitely easier it is folly to take a more restricted policy, especially one based on the EU.

  28. Norman Dee
    July 28, 2011

    Another excellent piece Mr Redwood, the important thing over and above all your suggestions is make sure that we never have a UK hating Socialist government again, after, that is, replacing this watered down semi conservative government we have now and replace it with people who put the country and it’s people firmly before pandering to all and sundry in Europe and elsewhere. Neil Craig is right in his last paragraph, I would go 1 step further and suggest a cooperation between India and ourselves in Space technology would be very successful.

  29. David Hepburn
    July 28, 2011

    Dear Thought Police,

    I note that 2 comments (AFTER my original) have been published but not the original. Presumably, the 2 comments after my original have also been ‘moderated’? If so why the delay? My initial comment was innocuous!

    You want/ask for comments? Then, please be more efficient…

    Best regards,

    David Hepburn

  30. David Hepburn
    July 28, 2011

    Dear Thought Police,

    Herewith the relevant message that the website refused to accept:

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    I agree with almost all that you say above. However,there is one comment that I cannot agree with: “Our borders are easy to police, and entrants to the UK have to come via just a few main ports and airports.” One of the most porous borders in the EU has to be that between Northern Ireland and the Republic. For goodness sake, one can walk over that without fear or favour and find oneself in the Nirvana that is the UK… I experienced this when one of my staff in Mongolia BOUGHT an invitation to attend an institution to learn English in the Republic. He got there. He then took a bus across the border (as a Mongolian and not a citizen of the EU and no passport check as he was already in the EU) and stayed in London for a year under the Great UK Border Agency’s Radar. I remonstrated with the UK Ambassador to Mongolia at the time only to be told that there was nothing that could be done about it. And, furthermore, one can sail in at the dead of night with little likelihood of being apprehended. Our borders are akin to Gruyere Cheese.

    Best regards,

    David Hepburn

  31. StrongholdBarricades
    July 28, 2011

    Maybe the clue to what you seek is much closer to you than first appears.

    According to yesterday’s Mail only 1 in 14 who apply for ESA actually get it.

    I would like to ask who is tackling the GP’s who are prescribing the sick notes that allow the other 13 to apply for the benefit in the first place and obviously take up the government machine time and money in spitting back out again?

  32. Colin D.
    July 28, 2011

    At last! A politician who puts ‘UK first’!

  33. Anne Palmer
    July 28, 2011

    What a good and thoughtful article. Firstly though, we fought a full-scale war with the help from our then friends in America and because we had perhaps the best Prime Minister this country as ever had. A combination that has never happened since then-no, the ones you might be thinking of were not TRUE friends. There was no need of a Treaty between the two country’s and although it took us 60 years to pay off the financial debt we owed them, pay it back we did.

    The greatest mistake that was ever made by this Country’s alleged leaders was our entry into the then EEC and lies started just before that time to make people believe it was a great idea. Those lies are all recorded in the Hansard of the early years of the 1960’s.

    You know John, that if the EU’s Localism Bill goes through, England will be divided into (EU) Regions forever (Through the Localism Bill) and the people will also see for themselves that there is absolutely no need of a British Government or Parliament, for the EU always was to bring the destruction of Nation States being Governed by EU elite. Not like the USA as a United States of America, but one single state ruling its Regions from the centre.

    The once proud nation of the UK will be no more, all brought about by its own foolish Member of parliament that thought their voices would be heard-only to find no one listened to them as they did not listen to the people. Remain in the EU and it will be the destruction of the UK. The destroying the once united United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the latter of course will eventually be melded into one Region of the EU called Ireland-if it keeps its name. If the Localism Bill goes through, the United Kingdom will be finished-the people are beginning to realise they will have to fight to prevent that and there is-as far as I can see- only one (peaceful) way to do that-if the people of the UK succeed, it will also spread across the continent because the people of the UK are not one their own in wanting FREEDOM fro Foreign Rule.

    Recorded also in Hansard was the point of the Commonwealth and once again many people from there lost their lives too in fighting also side of us in WWII and look what we did with them re trade afterwards!

    Recorded also in Hansard was the point of the Commonwealth and once again many people from there lost their lives too in fighting along side of us in WWII and look what we did with them re trade afterwards!

    Prime Minister Harold Macmillan 31st July 1961 (column 928) “This is political as well as an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely to promote unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world”.

    Sir D.Walker-Smith, snippets from his speech on 16th November 1966 (Column474) “On the constitutional side, the agricultural position shows clearly under the Treaty of Rome we would no longer be masters in our own house and that the powers of decision would pass from Parliament. For many years this country has practised a system of price support. It may or may not be the best system, but it has operated for 20 years with the assent of both sides of the House, etc, etc”.

    “But the constitutional question is clear. It would not matter if not one Member wanted to change the system. That would be irrelevant because, under the Treaty of Rome, if we join the Community the power of decision passes from this House”.

    “I now turn to the political and constitutional aspects, of which there are two. First, there is the immediate affect of adherence to the Treaty on British sovereignty, and secondly, the future question whether membership of the Community carries any implied or inescapable commitment to political federation in the future?”

    “On the second of those matters, the position is clear as far as it goes; but our range of vision is necessarily limited. The Treaty, of course, carries no express commitment to future federation. But the difficulty is that as time goes by, if we join the Community, the decision about federation would not be one of our own choosing so much as the will of others, because our arrangements would be so inextricably involved with those of the Community that it would be difficult to the point of impossibility in practice—though not impossible in theory– to dissociate ourselves from a supranational federation if our partners decide that they want it”. Etc, etc,

    “I come now to the other question relating to the political and constitutional aspect—the immediate consequences of signing the Treaty of Rome. Here we can see the position much more clearly. Two truths are apparent—first, that over a wide range of our national life there would be an immediate abandonment of sovereignty and of our constitutional principle of the sovereignty of Parliament. The second truth is that, so far, the British people have very little idea of what is involved”.

    You also realise that we lose our 12 mile limit for the EU’s Motorway in the Sea as well as sovereignty over our ports. And so its goes on-unless we pull out very, very soon.

  34. Demetrius
    July 28, 2011

    The Continent is isolated by fog.

  35. cosmic
    July 28, 2011

    I would say the loss of empire definitely caused a crisis in our leadership. They had the idea that Britain had to be a world leader, or at least appear a world leader in this and that, but actually didn’t have any confidence in Britain.

    We’ve seen this express itself by attempting to take the lead in silly things, foreign wars we have no interest in, The Millenium Dome, The Olympics, leading the way with the multicultural society, leading the way with the Green Economy. Membership of the EU is very much a part of this, with the idea we can shape the EU and play a leading part – we can’t. By some contorted logic this is supposed to help us punch above our weight in the world.

    It would be far better to forget about making grand gestures and sort out our own economy and social problems which would definitely involve leaving the EU and deciding things for ourselves, not going along with one size fits all solutions the intention of which is to leave us as a collection of remote provinces on the Western fringes of the EU. If we carry on with the EU there won’t be a UK to have a place in the world to worry about.

    Our place in the world should then naturally arise from our economic power and cultural and scientific achievements, in the way that reputation should be based on achievement, rather than a publicity campaign.

  36. Jer
    July 28, 2011

    The UK can be a force for good.

    I’d rather we concentrated on not being a force for ill first though.

  37. rose
    July 28, 2011

    I long for a rest from world roles and growth. The UK could have been a civilized little country of just 30 million, well educated, well housed, well fed on natural food, and well balanced. If only we had left well alone, and been less ambitious. As it is I don’t dare describe the situation we are in now, or know what we should do about it.

    I would hazard a guess we should not be in NATO or the EU, or too attached to the USA. In other words, we should be more pragmatic, more French. By all means dine a la carte at all these tables, when it suits the national interest, and keep on the best of terms with our various cousins and neighbours. We should try once again to understand countries like Turkey, Iran, and Serbia, and find common ground, of which there is more than our shallow uneducated media make out. But, alas, does anyone in HMG or the civil service even know the meaning of that phrase, the national interest – as the French still do. As I am always saying, we have much also to learn from Japan. There are worse things than zero growth in a nation’s history.

  38. backofanenvelope
    July 28, 2011

    “NATO was a cold war creature which is now looking for relevance and a job to do”

    There is nothing wrong with NATO; it is a defensive alliance defending the territorial integrity of its member states. What is more, unlike the EU, it is a voluntary alliance, any country can leave without penalty. Interestingly, the only country to do so was France.

    However, over the last 20 years, the purposes of NATO have been perverted and it now engages in aggressive actions outside the area covered by the alliance. We need to return to its original aim of defending us. We could start by stopping the bombing of Libya. Just like Iraq, we are wrecking the country.

  39. Bazman
    July 28, 2011

    Without any outside moderation this country would be a more of a class ridden banana republic than it already is. Where is Gideon and Dave by the way? Saw Gideon looking baffled in a bike factory last. Probably thought bikes where made by a local artisan in central London or by blacksmiths in other parts of the country.

  40. Vanessa
    July 28, 2011

    You ceertainly say the rights things but you, like all politicians, are either dishonest or stupid. I have just read WITTERINGSFROMWITNEY, a blog and an article there explains how Great Britain is being divided up into 12 regions by the EU. Everything is now controlled by a region – Regional Development Agencies, regional Hospital Trusts, regional police forces etc. Britain cannot leave the EU as all power is being devolved to the regions and we will no longer be a country able to fight for power or democracy or control. The EU’s policy of divide and rule is almost completed. Even though the north voted against a regional mayor they go one anyway. The tories “Big Society” is another way of saying power devolved closer to the people – power to each region. Parliament will be an empty shell where you all fleece us taxpayers to fill your pockets with our money because you will have nothing else to do. Oh, an by the way we did not lose an Empire, it became too expensive (after the 2WW) so we gave them independence having built railways and giving them our excellent and fair legal system etc. This country is a non-country, it has gone to see its maker, it has shuffled off this planet for good.

  41. Michael
    July 28, 2011

    Sir, the UK may be an island but the farce that passed for the last “Defence Review” would appear to believe otherwise. The Navy was a real force for good in the world, capable of eliminating enemies but of delivering aid at a moments notice and in a most flexible and cost effective manner. An evening at a party on a Warship did far more to influence than any “conference”, a warship is a piece of sovereign territory moored in a potential ally’s yard, or yes, a statement of intent to a potential enemy. To give an example of this “soft” power, the recently given away HMS Largs Bay could provide hospital facilities and aid when needed as well as supporting the battle group to which she was attached. Now the SDSR has pious hope backed up by wishful thinking. The fact is that an expansion of the Fleet and (this may be new..) a real evaluation of our strategic priorities and acting in OUR interests rather than an increasingly irrelevevant EU government priority will meet the needs of the UK far better. The EU as a continental body has never understood the Maritime Strategy that has served us so well. When Britain has followed a Maritime Strategy we have always thrived, the reverse when we have been persuaded into a Continental Strategy. A Maritime Strategy allows us to use the strategic strengths of the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere a Continental Strategy weakens our interests.
    Apologies for the length of the post but Britain needs a strong Navy, we can survive with a small army (and have for centuries) but to relinquish the strengths that have served us over the centuries is, frankly, madness.

  42. brian kelly
    July 28, 2011

    I will say Amen to this article – sensible and reasoned. And it is important that we should, as J Redwood states, husband and conserve our resources until we are financially solvent and our economy is showing strong, export led, growth.

  43. Mr Leslie Smith
    July 28, 2011

    We were once a great Nation, worth fighting for until the “Political Elite” lost our trust. To regain that, Parliament and the Government of the day must clarify and demonstrate to the British People what kind of country they feel we are and what we should be. I worked overseas for 25 years, was respected and trusted, enjoyed and was really proud of being “British. ” Returning home in the late 90’s to the Election of Blair, I have not been proud since. The Elite has lost its sence of fairness and its priorities are distorted by spin and the media generally. Good Blog though Mr Redwood.

  44. zorro
    July 28, 2011

    ‘We do not have the border issues that countries on the continent face. Our borders are easy to police, and entrants to the UK have to come via just a few main ports and airports’…

    True, and it is just as well that we are an island because if we had been on the continent the UK would have been a lot more exposed for a number of reasons. The immigration figures for the last 10-15 years show massive influxes. I haven’t seen comparable figures for European countries in historical terms but very few offenders were removed year on year in comparison to the number of people granted some form of stay or other. I would love to be able to see the benefits bill in total which has tesulted from mass migration of one oform or another in the last 15 years. There has been no serious attempt to do this from what I can see…..


  45. Robert George
    July 28, 2011

    The Falkands were a defining moment of Margaret Thatchers government. They need to be important again– by letting them go — on our terms. The military presence there is expensive to maintain and ultimately not worth it. It would be cheaper to give every native Falklander a million pounds and tell them to make their own way.

    It would be difficult to negotiate with strutting Argentinian ‘Duce’s’ but would enable UK to focus on a sphere of interest confined to the 200 mile economic zone. With this change, we would at last cut ourselves off from the post colonial sentimental attachment to the Commonwealth, which in large part has no interest in UK.

    The oil potential is a false hope. If there is any it will always be too expensive to obtain.

    Our men fought heroically to prevent the Falklands being taken, but are we heroic enough to give them away?

  46. BobE
    July 28, 2011

    I hate the EU and want no part in it.

  47. Kenneth
    July 29, 2011

    The argument that we are a more potent force internationally if we pool our foreign relations is contradicted time and time again as we all follow different philosophies, borne out of centuries of different histories.

    As a result we have gained no extra influence in the world through the eu. If we were to reduce our foreign office and overseas diplomatic services in favour of pooled representation there is likelihood that we would not just lose global influence but would be mis-representated.

    This could be expensive when it comes to trade but could also lead us into conflicts that we would have handled differently or stayed out of altogether.

  48. Bernard Otway
    July 29, 2011

    With regard to the Commonwealth,everybody knows I constantly refer to it in my comments.
    I am fortunate enough to have been a ¬£10 POM in 1969 to 1971[unfortunately my first wife wanted to return and I did not,and she won] that country was 20 years behind us and very old fashioned,we even had the famous 6 pm rush in the pubs [those that don’t know the pubs CLOSED at 6pm] and while I was there in 1970 the pubs were allowed to open for Sunday at lunchtime,there was hardly any tourism and industry,the population was about 12 million.
    Now you have 40 years later a modern vibrant economy,8 million tourists a year,selling all it’s raw materials to China ,iron ore,copper ,gold oil,etc etc,and a country that is deliberately growing it’s population through properly managed immigration [last year 222,000 went from the UK] every migrant speaks,reads writes ENGLISH as part of a PROPER points based system.It is estimated by 2030 only 19 years from now ,that the population will be at least 35 million,the country will be in the top 10 economies of the world,AND will be above the UK which will be between 10 and 20 and could be over 20,
    New zealand will be about 10 million and Canada will be about 50 million,so these three close to 100 million,and very prosperous.Canada has an estimated 3 trillion barrels of oil
    in Alberta/Saskatchewan,Australia has 1000 years of coal let alone other minerals,and New Zealand has a vibrant agricultural sector [25 years ago WHO had heard of south
    island Sauvignon blanc] plus a source of Thermally generated electricity that could power
    industry. Notice only 3 countries What about India,South Africa [biggest reserves in the world of Platinum and Chrome let alone 100o years of coal,what about Gold at right now $1600 an ounce and lots of other raw materials,and of course the rest of the commonwealth. We Should sell more to the commonwealth than we do to the EU,we do no where near enough bilateral trade with them [Like China does in Africa ,in fact Chaina has
    actually recolonised Africa except NO PITH HELMETS,I know having lived in South Africa for 28 years and been all over sub saharan Africa,they actually would like to do trade with us,especially agricultural BUT can’t due to the EU.We could also replace our appetite for BMW’s VW’s AUDI’s etc quite easily with KIA or Hyundai, I have a honda legend car
    and it is the best car I have owned and in the past I have had a 735i,a 320 mercedes and lots of Vw’s.We DO NOT need the EU they need us,attested to by the huge trade deficit we
    have with them,the car plants we have here are Nissan ,Honda,Toyota or american,chinese or Indian owned.
    has anyone EVER asked WHY no VW plant or Merc or BMW,do you even know that BMW makes cars in Rosslyn Pretoria,VW in UITENHAGUE Port Elizabeth,and MERC is the MAIN employer in East London [NO NOT TOWER HAMLETSISTAN] all produce
    right hand drive models for export to all the right hand drive countries INLUDING the UK
    I lived in Durban and was involved in the car industry Toyota makes cars there that also go to right hand drive countries ,the plant employs 3500 and the suppliers another 25000.
    Because I know and have seen all this I think my country has been ruled by mainly idiots while I was away,and still is while this continues.

  49. uanime5
    July 29, 2011

    US, EU, Commonwealth; in the end we’re just going to become part of a larger organisation.

    Personally I question how well strengthening the Commonwealth will work for the following reasons:

    1) I doubt many countries would be keen for the UK to take the dominant position and create policy decisions that will be mostly for our benefit. In the Commonwealth we will still have the problem of other nations creating policies that we don’t like.

    2) If we try to strengthen the power of the Commonwealth we will inevitably create another supranational organisation similar to the EU.

    3) Of the 54 members 51 are developing countries, unlike the EU and USA which is mostly developed countries. This will have a major impact on policies and trade.

    4) If workers in the Commonwealth are allowed to work in any Commonwealth country then we will experience a massive increase in immigration from Asia and Africa.

  50. adam
    July 29, 2011

    The elephant in the room is the New World Order.
    Those of us who dont want to be part of it, a discriminated against minority, how do we avoid escape its jaws?
    There needs to be an opt out programme.

  51. James Sutherland
    July 29, 2011

    As others have said already, I feel we need to reverse course on the last few decades of ignoring the Commonwealth and try to rebuild those ties into a free-trade community with stronger links between us. I disagree that we should get no closer to the US: rather, we should seek something like the relationship Canada has: more open borders, trade and movement between the two countries.

    July 29, 2011

    Often thought this John. The four countries within this island can’t even agree anymore. Best to have an independent England, N. Ireland, Wales and Scotland and have done really. Even down to the Monarchy being divided with Her Maj as QE II of England, QE I of Scotland, Wales just having a Prince and N. Ireland perhaps sticking to QE II..

    England is at present the poorer of the 4 in all ways and in main fact that its taxes are used to prop up everybody except England !!!!

  53. Bernard Otway
    July 29, 2011

    To uanime5 of the 4 countries you say are developed in the commonwealth,I presume you include us,then the other 3 are Aus/NZ/Can,did you not read my comment above about them now and in the future,where do you think the English speakers are going to come from that will increase the populations there,I will tell you where, from HERE it will be much easier to trade with them,you also leave out South Africa they are developed beyond your imagination
    I challenge you to go to shopping centres like Sandton City,Canal Walk,The Pavillion ,Gateway to name but a few,tell me if you see anything like them and another 20 at least
    in the UK,find me a major retailer as good as Pick n Pay not to mention Woolworths who are the same as M & S used to be here.Do you know they produce nearly half the worlds gold at depths you could not imagine [at least 3000 metres YES metres].These commonwealth brother and sister states are an organisation of co operation no one dominates ,for gods sake Prof Christian Barnard did the WORLDS first heart transplant
    in Groote Schuur Hospital Cape Town in the nineteen sixties,I either already know my facts or research them before commenting ,South Africa’s dominence in Platinum and Chrome is the same as China’s in rare earth minerals,what IF they decided to KEEP them like China rare earth minerals.The commonwealth including India has a population greater than 2 BILLION 5 times that of the EU,IF we only sell ¬£50 per head to India’s population of 1,2 billion per annum DO THE MATH ¬£60,000,000,000 .ACTUALLY
    WORDS FAIL ME in criticising you.

    1. uanime5
      July 30, 2011

      I meant to say 4 developed and 50 developing countries. Though India and South Africa are part of BRICS they are still developing countries and have a long way to go before they get to Brazil’s standards, let alone the standards of developed countries.

      Here is the GDP in millions of US dollars of the countries mentioned (2010):

      China: 5,878,257
      UK: 2,247,455
      Brazil: 2,090,314
      Canada: 1,574,051
      India: 1,537,966
      Australia: 1,235,539
      South Africa: 357,259
      New Zealand: 140,434

      Here is the GDP per capital in US dollars of the countries mentioned (2010):

      Australia: 55,590
      Canada: 46,215
      UK: 36,120
      New Zealand: 32,145
      Brazil: 10,816
      South Africa: 7,158
      China: 4,382
      India: 1,265

      As you can clearly see while many countries have a high GDP the GDP per capita shows that the average wealth per person is very low. If people lack disposable income they will not be able to invest in the economy or have a high standard of living.

      Having high quality malls isn’t one of the criteria for a developed country. Child mortality, life expectancy, literacy rates, levels of crime, and standard of living are all more important.

      Your calculation is incredibly flawed. Given the low wealth of the people of India we probably won’t be able to get ¬£50 per person per year. Even if we could we would still need to deduct the cost of making the product they wanted, so the total amount of profit we make will be much less.

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