Why we need a major renegotiation of our relationship with the EU

I have made the constitutional case before for a renegotiation of our relationship.. If you wish to live in a vibrant UK democracy the main decisions have to be taken by the UK Parliament. Then the electors can influence them, or throw out the MPs who give them the wrong policies and laws. They can persuade the Parliament to their view, or change the Parliament to change the policies. If too much is decided at the EU level you lose your democracy, as voters can no longer throw out the lawmakers and require a change of approach.

Today I wish to look at a few of the examples of policies enforced by the EU that the UK would like to change if we were in charge.

Many of us want cheaper energy. We would like to relieve the pressure of high and rising energy bills on family budgets. Fuel poverty gets worse each time the energy price goes up in real terms. We want to back Mr Osborne’s vision of the “march of ther makers”, an industrial revival. To do so we need to offer competitive energy, energy for business priced at US levels, not at EU levels.

EU policies require a high proportion of our energy to be generated from renewables. EU policy also imposes a carbon tax on European activity. EU energy policy forces us to have dearer energy than our US or Asian competitors.

Many UK voters want controlled immigration. The EU common borders policy does not allow the UK to impose controls on migrants coming from another EU country, making it very difficult for any UK government to deliver what many voters want.

Many UK voters want wasteful or less desirable public spending to be reduced, so taxes and borrowings by the state are lower. Some of the worst examples of wasteful spending occur at EU level, where UK voters and politicians have no control and little influence.

Many UK voters want UK fishing grounds to be sensibly regulated in the UK interest. They feel that the Common Fishing Policy has conspired to damage our fishing grounds and at the same time not protect our fishermen.

There are many other examples, which you can help supply. In a UK democracy these matters could be changed for the better. In the EU reform and change is usually impossible.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    If you wish to live in a UK democracy at all, the main decisions have to be taken by the UK Parliament because the UK has a natural demos with many common interests, a common language (other perhaps that some Welsh force fed on Welsh signs, leaflets and schooling as a political gesture). Without this democracy is simply dead, it very nearly is already thanks to Heath, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

    I seems now that Bishop Justin Welby rather oddly now thinks that Wonga (5000%+ APR is it?) are a good company and does not seem to want to ban their activities but merely out compete them with credit unions. The church also it seems invests in Wonga through intermediaries. If I were him, I would get out now (and not invest through several intermediaries taking their cuts either) as surely will be outlawed eventually by some sensible government. Cameron clearly seems to think ripping off the desperate is a good thing so it might tax two years or so. Circa 25% APR should be the cap for all such lending to desperate individuals (exceptions for some genuine business deals perhaps).

    Above that it no real help to anyone and a source of great misery to the desperate.

    • Bazman
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      How do you square off the persons right not to borrow like they have the right not to work for bad companies and freedom to choose to smoke and drink? You need to ask your guru Dingbat for advice on joined up thinking.

  2. Jerry
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    John, the EU is not stopping the UK making things, strange how both France and German, even Spain or Czechoslovakia, to name a few member states, manage to still have a vibrant manufacturing vase even though they are far more entwined into the EU cobweb. No it has been UK policy that caused our ability to make things to go AWOL, you surely must remember the policies of the government you first advised and then were a member of, the one that turned a vibrant (if stagnating) UK into the sorts of wastelands in the north-east refereed to in the HoL yesterday?…

    Don’t get me wrong, unless the EU changes at its core I want out, Cameron is welcome to try and get that core change but he needs to understand that without it any renegotiation of our relationship with the EU should be to protect our (and other member states) interests and investments in each others countries upon a UK exit (either outright or to the EFTA/EEA). But this alone will not improve the UK’s lot, the EU is not our nemesis, our own domestic industrial and economic policies are and until the main political parties realise that they need to bat for England and not our competitors nothing much will change – indeed our bats had and still are been broken before walking to the crease!

    The EU is many things, totally undemocratic being just one, but many competencies still remain with the UK government and many more were with the UK government when we lost our way as a nation -when we collectively learnt the value of everything but the worth of nothing, leaving the EU will not be the magic-bullet that some on the right (and left) think.

    Reply Germany is discovering the difficulties of energy policy within the EU’s current framework. The rest of the EU is suffering from the same competitive handicaps as the UK. Have you seen the poor economic performance on the continent in recent years?

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Jerry do a bit of googling and find out when Czechoslavakia ceased to exist and then pop over to Eurostat and check out how manufacturing is getting on in the states that you mention. As China slows down even Germany is feeling the pinch, check out Siemans too who have just sacked their CEO as things are so bad

    • Jerry
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      @JR reply: “Have you seen the poor economic performance on the continent in recent years?

      Compared to who, the RotW or the UK, the fact is those EZ countries I named are still doing better (industrial and manufacturing industry wise) than the UK is, even the problem that is Spain (and Italy)! The problems the UK faces are not caused by the EU the EZ crisis or even the world economic banking crisis, the same basic problems existed well before 2007. The fact that we, as a nation, have to go cap-in-hand to companies from Germany or China etc. to gain investment in the UK rather than be able to keep or create our own manufacturing base is simple economic suicide, will it be jobs pant in Germany or China or in the UK at risk should the economic crises worsen, no Germany director and no Chinese politician will see their own country folk out of work before those from another. Sorry to sound so cynical…

    • Acorn
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208286/qep_june_2013.pdf . Section 5 – International Comparisons Highlights:-
      • In May 2013 the UK price for petrol was seventh lowest in the EU 15 at 132.7 pence per litre, whilst the UK price for diesel was the second highest in the EU 15 at 138.0 pence per litre.
      • For July to December 2012, UK industrial electricity prices were the fourth highest in the EU 15, whilst industrial gas prices were the lowest in the EU 15.
      • For July to December 2012, UK domestic gas and electricity prices were lowest and fifth lowest respectively in the EU 15.

      Section 5 shows the current energy advantage the USA has got.

      • Acorn
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        We could consider forming a new Champions League (of European nations). Or, perhaps, a new Premier League (of European nations)? We could just walk away from the EU and not renew our membership at the 2014 AGM of the EU? We could use the EFTA / EEA basic framework for starters. I am sure we could pull in new members quite easily.

        I am being serious here. Nothing says we can’t start our own confederacy and secede from the EU. By that I mean something looser than er … a federacy.

        The first thing that would have to be done is to take over the ECB. The Eurozone is a busted flush, because its management, does not understand the basic requirements for building a sovereign fiat currency economic bloc. Either we aggregate the 28 national debts in one Treasury debt management outfit, with the ECB doing a proper lender of last resort job (as a wholly owned subsidiary of a Euro Treasury); or, we go back to using floating national currencies like escudo and lire etc, for every one in our new confederacy. Come to think of it. It may be technically better if the BoE annexed the ECB.

        Hold your nose JR and pass the following. http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=24832 .

        Forget the Punch and Judy politics of the source; just for the moment. The numbers are good and verifiable. I don’t ask for much on this site. I am but a lowly data miner and number cruncher, BUT, this is serious, and there is a ten year old who is going to curse me and my generation, when he finds out what we did to his economic prospects in twenty years time. ATB.

        Reply The critique you link us to fails to consider the problems of growth up to 2007 inflated by a massive over extension of both public sector and private sector debt. The author both argues the Coalition stopped growth by “austerity” and points out that real public spending has been making a positive contribution to growth, a contradictory stance that he shares with Labour..

        • Acorn
          Posted August 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Read the conclusion again JR. Labour was running about an 11% debt binge, about £165 billion you can see the real growth rate that was yielded in that article’s charts. The coalition has pulled that back to about 8%,and the economy is flatlining. It is planning to reduce that 8% further. We are still running about a 3.7% negative current account balance. The private sector will have to go into further debt at this austerity rate, just to hold the flatline. You will be crushing the little people, fortunately for you, they do not understand what is being done to them.

          Like it or not JR, the government deficit has to match the private sector’s (particularly households) propensity to save, while they are frightened for their futures. Owner occupied housing doesn’t generate income streams. Selling government assets like Lloyds just removes spending power from the private sector. The BoE holding a third of the Treasury’s (voluntarily issued) debt (corporate welfare payments), also has removed spending power from the private sector as the Treasury pays interest to itself via the BoE.

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    While voters is Sherwood cannot even throw out the MP for Ashfield, European politicians have occasionally already been thrown out by the European Parliament, granted that this is on a larger scale. Being much younger and more flexible, democracy at EU level can more easily be improved and change than in the UK, which in spite of a 100 years of efforts it still cannot get rid of unelected life-long hereditary politicians in its houses of parliament.
    Most of the wish list of policy changes can be achieved if Britain leaves the EU. If it were to become a major very close polluter, just across the North Sea, measures would have to be taken against this, just like any infringing on the level playing field with regard to competition should not be allowed by the EU.
    The single market ensures the free movement of workers. If the UK were to ignore that it would find itself outside the single market in no time.

    Reply THanks for the threats – that type of response will make more people Eurosceptic.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: You’re most welcome! 🙂

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      Peter loves nothing better than to issue threats against us for having the temerity to want to leave or try and change his beloved EU. He has found religion – it’s called the EU.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: He [@PvR] has found religion – it’s called the EU.

        What, you mean a bit like how, many on these blogs have found that religion called “Monetarism” – ho-hum…

        • Edward2
          Posted July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Or follow the religion called Keynsianism Jerry, as some others do.
          Ho hum as you say.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

            @Edward2: Indeed, exactly, thus all a bit pointless and personal, people in glass-houses and all that…

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: Brian Brian, pot calling the kettle black here?
        May I please object to a negotiation position, argued from a narrow British perspective, which has no chance at all?
        Did the article ask cheaper, more polluting energy for all of the EU, no. Or did it suggest all EU countries need to get a measure of control over immigration as an application of subsidiarity? no.
        Don’t forget that the UK already has a very bad reputation, established by Cameron himself at the 2011 EU summit, when he tried to get special privileges for the London City. Such negotiation stances will obviously lead to 27 to 1 positions, and should only be attempted by those who wish negotiations to fail. Any change has to be argued from a European perspective, there are no special privileges for the UK only, where they would distort the market. Negotiations which aim changes to the single market for every player (e.g. complete it for the service sector) would be far more sensible.

        Reply You are making a good case for UK exit given the unhappy and inflexible organisation you describe.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted August 1, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

          I don’t want a renegotiation – it is pointless as you so vividly show on behalf of your masters in Brussels. I just want us to be a self-governing independent country trading with the world. However, we have politicians who, for whatever reason (they will never tell us the true reasons), want to give away the powers with which we entrusted them to a foreign organisation.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Peter should understand that we are not the Faroe Islands and we cannot so easily be bullied by threats of legal or illegal sanctions from the EU:


      “The EU on 31 July will decide whether to adopt coercive economic measures against the Faroe Islands, over a dispute about the quota allocation of Atlanto-Scandian herring.

      Not only does the proposed EU action contravene the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and circumvent available procedures to deal with such disputes, it is also based on inaccurate allegations and is counterproductive to a reaching a negotiated solution.”

      JR, do you happen to know what position our government is taking on this?

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        The UK is as hard as nails and does not get pushed around by anybody? Well thats news to me. What about Abu Qatada, the various murders and rapists that we cannot get a rid of, especially those who are “entitled to a family life” , all because some court in Europe will fine us or blacken our good name in the international community

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Why not buy a map and study it Denis, and you’ll understand what I read, namely that it were the British who drove this EU move against the Faroe Islands. Pressing the EU to take sanctions against the Faroe Islands (in the interest of Scotland I presume) and at the same time criticizing the EU for doing so isn’t really fair play Denis.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          Thanks, Peter, I don’t need a map to know where the Faroes are.

          Unlike a contestant on a recent TV quiz show, I know they’re not Greek islands, although the EU Fisheries Commissioner is Greek, which I suppose is at least better than having an Austrian.

          Unfortunately even a new map would be unlikely to come with a statement of the UK government’s position on this issue, which is why I asked JR whether he knew what it was.

          If what you say is correct and the UK government has pressed the EU to take this action then I hope that questions will asked about whether it is proportionate and justified or it is just bullying.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink


        “EU adopts fish sanctions against Faroe Islands

        Today @ 14:59

        The Faroe Islands will not be be allowed to land or sell herring and mackerel in the EU as part of sanctions agreed Wednesday for fishing too much in the North Atlantic. The Scottish government welcomed the decision, while Denmark said it is a drastic step against the small community.”

        I know too little to take any position on the detailed rights and wrongs here, I just know that I don’t like bullies.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      “While voters is Sherwood cannot even throw out the MP for Ashfield, European politicians have occasionally already been thrown out by the European Parliament, granted that this is on a larger scale.”

      You’ll have to explain that, Peter.

      At the next election voters in Sherwood will have the opportunity to throw out their present representative in Parliament, the MP for the Sherwood constituency, Mark Spencer, while voters in Ashfield will be able to throw out their present representative in Parliament, the MP for the Ashfield constituency, Gloria De Piero; why do you think that voters in Sherwood should be able to over-ride the wishes of voters in Ashfield by throwing out their chosen representative?

      As for the EU Parliament expelling members, the House of Commons can decide to expel a member for serious misconduct, if that becomes necessary because the member doesn’t agree to go of his own accord. It has only happened three times in the past century, but was more frequent when our democracy was younger:


      Of course it is absurd to claim:

      “democracy at EU level can more easily be improved and change than in the UK”

      as it is impossible to have any “democracy at EU level” in the continuing absence of anything remotely resembling an EU “demos”.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Although the EP has once expelled a (member ed) for serious misconduct, what I’m pointing at is European Commissioners and once a whole European Commission which were made to resign by the EP. Just like Sherwood has no control over Ashfield, UK voters have no control over Dutch MEPs, but Dutch voters do. The “demos” invention (Klaus?) doesn’t cut it as an argument, you will certainly have read American and other articles concluding that the democratic institutions at the EU function well and are democratic indeed. That doesn’t mean that there is no room for improvement, and recent history already shows that changes to the working of EU institutions is relatively simple.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          You said nothing about EU Commissioners, Peter, so I don’t see how you can claim to have been pointing at them.

          The simple idea that you cannot have “democracy” in the absence of a “demos” hardly originated with Klaus, it was being said in the UK long before Klaus became prominent.

          I realise that most ordinary Americans haven’t given the slightest thought to the question of whether there is a pan-European demos to underpin a pan-European democracy; they have just noticed at a distance how the EU has expanded and become more important, it looks to them rather like a United States of Europe similar to their own federation, and they have assumed that this must be what the Europeans want to do.

          A minority of Americans at the top of their society do know that the EU is not just undemocratic but anti-democratic, but most of them just don’t care. They don’t particularly care about democracy in their own country, and they care even less about democracy on the other side of the Atlantic.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: I said EU “politicians” and EU “Commissioners” fit that description. “Demos” on the other had is not well described, dictionaries just point to “the common people, the masses” or “the people or commonalty of an ancient Greek state”. It is ridiculous to state that the masses of a group of nations couldn’t function as the “demos” as in the invention by eurosceptics. One could as well state that the constituent parts of the UK don’t form a not a demos (different languages although forced to speak English, more animosity between the people living there than between Dutch, Belgians, French and Germans, different regional cultures etc. the constituent parts haven’t even been brought together peacefully but by military acquisition). The inhabitants of the UK can form a democratic institution and so can the peoples (the masses) of Europe. They do so anyway, regardless of what eurosceptics say.

            Reply The Scots and Welsh were volunteers to join the UK state, and know that they can vote themselves out of it anytime they like. UK voters have never been asked to join a Euro state and would say No if asked.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            The question is whether there is sufficient sense of being a common people or “demos” to accept that your preferences can be “democratically” voted down. Do you think that I will ever agree that the laws of my country can be determined by the votes of representatives chosen in other countries, foreign countries like your own? Of course not, and nor do I believe that many people in other EU countries have sufficient sense of being part of a pan-European “demos” to willingly accept it either. As I pointed out to you recently, even according to the EU’s own Eurobarometer surveys only a very small fraction of the population of the EU think or feel like you about this, you are anomalous, but nevertheless you have no compunction about wanting your rather weird view imposed on others.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: You are talking about a future you fear but isn’t there, just like there is no “Euro state”. Your people have willingly voted to stay in the EU(EEC) your government voluntarily joined in 1973, in the knowledge that your supreme parliament can always revoke this membership you were seeking then for about ten years. I still don’t see it happening that your people will vote to leave this EU, and I do know a few of them, who think rather differently from you and I’d rather call them family than traitors. Some British are quite content with pooling sovereignty, like many people on the continent are. Your eurostat reports you’ve shown somewhere in some blog, show that the Dutch were still quite content in 2010, and if their 2012 national elections are taken as a barometer, these illustrate this. British love for the EU may well be at a low, currently, but that will all change come 2017 (in case 2017 comes with a referendum).

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 2, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

            What nonsense from beginning to end.

            Within the EU we are already having our laws determined by transnational majority voting, as a matter of routine.

            Just because Giscard was warned off proposing that its name be changed to “the United States of Europe”, as mooted in the Preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty of October 2002:


            and was later warned off the use of the word “federal” in the text, that doesn’t mean that the ambition of creating a federal United States of Europe has been abandoned, and indeed the present EU can be described as a “proto-federation”.

            And, no, in the 1975 referendum we did not vote to stay in anything like the present EU, as you very well know.

            As for “British love for the EU”, as in other EU countries that “love” is confined to a very small deeply disaffected minority; even among the small minority who want more EU integration few will be supporting it from “love”, more likely for “money”.

            But I know that you will continue to live in your little bubble of delusion; we have had these discussions for several years, and nothing I can say will divert you from your allegiance to the EU, and likewise nothing you can say will divert me from my allegiance to my own country.

    • lojolondon
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Pieter is making a joke as usual – whenever European Parliamentarians are found guilty of corruption, fraud, embezzlement, expenses fraud, it is brushed under the carpet and the gravy train keeps right on. There is no way for ordinary people to remove a representative from the European Parliament. (Nor can we remove a Commissioner who is not guilty of fraud but does a job we do not want doing? ed)
      Everything we want would be accomplished by leaving the EU, so I would do it immediately. I would start by not paying any more dues, without the $25Billion or so we gift to the establishment, the wheels will come off within a year.
      Lastly, I hope that the UK will do as badly as Iceland, Switzerland or any of the other countries not in the EU, in fact it is hard to find a country that is doing worse on it’s own than they are inside the EU.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        @lojolondon: a recent resignation (worthy of study ed) was that of Commissioner John Dalli (October 2012). Have British people delegated their thinking to the tabloid media?

        Reply Mr Dalli denies any wrongdoing. The matter is disputed.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the main decisions, I don’t want any decisions affecting the UK to be taken within the EU without the consent of the UK government expressly supported by Parliament.

    That is what we were promised at the time of the 1975 referendum.

    From the “WILL PARLIAMENT LOSE ITS POWER?” section of the official government pamphlet delivered to every household, urging us to vote “yes” to stay in the EEC, the Common Market as it was described:


    “The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

    If our national government had a veto on all EU proposals then we would know precisely whom to blame if it failed to use its veto to stop a harmful proposal; there could be no plea that it vigorously opposed a measure, and worked with allies and managed to get changes to limit the damage, etc etc, but in the end it was outvoted; having a veto on all EU proposals could even give some justification to a claim that we were “In Europe, but not run by Europe”.

  5. Nina Andreeva
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    JR agreed the EU is a pain in the neck, however the major challenges to the UK remaining a parliamentary democracy in recent years have had nothing to do with it e.g the lies on Iraq, expense fiddling MPs, voters being locked out of polling stations etc.

    I would urge everyone to have a read of Niall Ferguson’s new book and remember this narrative is coming from the right too. In “The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die,” Ferguson contends that the four pillars of West European and North American societies are representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society. These four institutions pointed the West toward global dominance from about 1500, but are now deteriorating and leaving the West trapped in stagnation.

    On government, Ferguson believes that the main breakdown is in the social contract between current and future generations. The ungodly sums of debt that recent leaders have heaped upon future generations enable comfortable living in the present at the expense of guaranteed failure in the future.

    On the free market, he sees the once business-friendly landscape of Western capitalism giving way to a regulatory minefield. Complex laws and regulations stifle creativity and send our best companies out of country. Remember things like NEST pensions have nothing to do with the EU. We are overly regulated and poorly regulated. Yet, violations of sensible rules are not enforced among politically connected corporations, the banks especially. When crony companies break the law and are allowed to get away with it, they’re encouraged to do it again. Think of the repercussions of 2007/8 and ask yourself why nobody is in jail for the damage that they have done to the UK?

    He believes the West suffers a dearth of leadership, calling Obama a “stationary mandarin” (and you can fit Dave in here too because he does no different ) who thinks growth will arise from bureaucracy, armed always with a speech that leaves fans swooning but nary an effective policy.

    Reply Indeed – I will talk soon about two of the problems of western democracy, the unwillingness of most elected officials to withstand too much law and too much puboic spending.

    • Jose
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Nina, that is an excellent summary of the situation to my mind anyway, thank you.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        If you think Niall Ferguson is a bit too much of a neo-con and prefer a lefty analysis instea., I would recommend Jean Francois Revel’s “How democracies perish”. This was published in 1985 and you can pick up a copy on a well known online bookseller for around 50p.

        What those who fear the EU forget, is that the totalitarians are waiting in the wings for the current establishment to lose their legitimacy in the eyes of the masses. The elite in the UK do not half fancy their chances taking pay increases and pensions denied to the rest of us. While they draw their membership from their own with their spouses and kids often becoming MPs too. There is even one safe seat (Govan) that passed directly from father to son. Its only a matter of time ….

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Here today we have what seems to be an example of “European law” being unreasonably and hypocritically dragged into both the criticism and defence of a minor operational decision:


    These peers on both sides seem to have forgotten the warning given by Foreign Office officials in their 1971 confidential paper FCO 30/1048, which was kept under wraps for 30 years:


    “After entry there would be a major responsibility on HMG and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community.”

    But that was before the days of the internet; now it is much more difficult to keep up the pretence that some development is “nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I want this country to have its own Parliament as the supreme governing body, not some anti-democratic foreign organisation. We should be a self-governing, independent country trading with the world, not a subservient member of an organisation determined to have ever closer union which means a further loss of democracy. The solution is to free ourselves from this subservience by leaving the EU.

  8. DennisA
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Whilst I am favour of withdrawing from the EU, I am equally not happy with the state of democracy emanating from this coalition government. As one example, and contrary to the views of millions of people, David Cameron pushed the issue of same sex marriage, re-writing the English language in the process. It was not in any party manifesto.

    We can’t even change the present government, as they agreed amongst themselves that they would hold onto power for the full five years.

    Our own energy policy is above and beyond that of the EU and most MP’s nodded the Climate Change Bill through, in ignorance of its implications. Now the committee charged with monitoring it and suggesting further lunacy, are raising red herrings about the energy companies, to deflect attention away from the real cause of rising energy prices, subsidies for renewables and the cost of bringing power from remote areas to centres of population.

    With regard to EU re-negotiation, it is a non-starter, as there would have to be agreement by every other member, which won’t happen. In any case, such negotiations would drag on for years, not miraculously produce a result in time for a referendum in 2017, even if David Cameron were to continue as a second term Prime Minister.

  9. Sue Jameson
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The EU and its democratic deficit is not the problem. Their existing members are quite happy to head towards “an ever deeper union” and we should respect that. The problem for the UK lies in the democratic deficit of our government and their leader, Cameron.

    Over 71% of Britons want a new relationship and three out of four businesses have just thrown their weight behind regaining our national powers.

    The EU will NOT negotiate if it doesn’t have to. It has NEVER given any powers back. The only way you can do this LEGALLY is Article 50 (as written in the Holy Lisbon Treaty).


    Reply We have just voted to take back 133 Criminal Justice powers, and have a future row on “opt ins” which some of us oppose entirely.

    • Ken Adams
      Posted August 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      There really ought to be some sort of prohibition on MPs making true but totally misleading statements.

      The EU has NEVER given any powers back.  Reply We have just voted to take back 133 Criminal Justice powers. The impression is that the British parliament can vote at any time to take back any power! That is simply not true this is a special case.

      These particular powers were not fully in the hands of the EU because the Lisbon Treaty allowed for us notify the commission we were going to take them back until June 1st 2014. The opt-out cannot take effect before 1 December 2014.

      Reply There was nothing misleading in what I said. I have explained at some length how this opt out works and why I voted to use it to the full extent.It will get powers back, in a way which we cannot use for other powers.

      • Ken Adams
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Misleading was to use a one off opt out available only for a short time in specified area and because of the Lisbon Treaty as if a general rule.

  10. Atlas
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink


    You may care to add to your list the European Arrest Warrant – unless, that is, Conservative MPs stand firm and do not let it be opted-into again.

    On a more general matter: I get the impression that those who want us to remain in the EU are afraid of what it will turn into after we leave.

  11. Neil Craig
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    According to Civitas our membership of the European Economic Area Treaty, which applies to all EU members and Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein is independent of the EU treaty and we cannot be expelled from involuntarily. Thus repealing the act of accession would automatically leave us with the trading rights but not the limitations.

    On the issue of energy, whose 1:1 correlation with growth I have mentioned before without serious dispute, I think it unfair to mainly blame the EU. Westminster has done far more than enough to promote windmill subsidy, ban fracking for years & new nuclear for decades. 90% of our electricity bills are government parasitism and most of that is Westminster’s fault.

    • sjb
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      The EEA is a regional free trade agreement, not a customs union. So our goods following a Brexit might face tariffs.

  12. Vanessa
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Why would the Commission negotiate any powers with Britain when it knows there is no threat of us leaving the EU. You must see that this is a ludicrous position from which to demand anything !

    If this “toddler” PM activated Article 50 (which says We Want to Leave) then they have a reason to try and negotiate, although they know that there will be a queue at the door of the other 27 countries all wanting their own negotiation.

    How many times is it necessary to repeat the Acquis Communautaire embedded in all treaties which is that a “competence” (control) once given is never returned.

    Do read the Lisbon Treaty – it should have been read BEFORE it was signed. Why are you not telling the British public that it reintroduces the Death Penalty and not for crimes we would want it for.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      @Vanessa: “If this “toddler” PM activated Article 50 (which says We Want to Leave) then they have a reason to try and negotiate

      You tell ’em “Kiddo”, after all the diplomacy of the school playground can trump all (rational debate), but that would not give then any more reason to negotiate – merely place the terms for our exit before us.

      Oh and having sat though days of the televised committee stage (on the floor of the house) with regards to the Lisbon Treaty ratification I can assure you than many MPs did both read the document and criticised it (including our host), but I suspect that you, being a mere political “toddler” yourself at the time, didn’t even bother to even download the said document never mind read it or follow the debate – your rhetoric and criticism are wholly unjust and totally lacking in any facts – but I bet it goes down well at your UKIP branch meetings…

      Reply How likely is it that Mr Clegg would agree to using Article 50!

  13. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    ‘ … Some of the worst examples of wasteful spending occur at EU level, …’

    I am sure there is plenty of wasteful spending at ‘EU level’. I am equally sure that wasteful spending is endemic throughout the entire public sector.

    But you (Mr. Redwood) and your colleagues in Westminster have NO REAL DESIRE to cut public spending to that which we can afford. The list of pointless jobs in the public sector is endless … Arts and Communities Officers, Diversity Co-ordinators etc. etc. Even today, the Guardian public sector appointments section is packed with highly paid jobs many of which have unintelligible job descriptions and which, clearly, are COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.

    Public sector organisations themselves have no interest or incentive in reducing their budgets. We need a root and branch review of, and reform of, the public sector.

    Unnecessary jobs must go. The high salaries for many posts must be cut. The pensions must be changed to being contributions based. Anything else is just smoke and mirrors. Your policy, if it can be called that, is to hope that, one day, the economy has grown to the point where tax revenues increase and can be used to start paying the debt down. At current rates of growth – it will take a hundred years to repay the debt.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      @Mike Wilson: “Even today, the Guardian public sector appointments section is packed with highly paid jobs many of which have unintelligible job descriptions and which, clearly, are COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.

      If you can’t understand the job specification how do you know that the job is completely unnecessary?…

      • Edward2
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        Yet another totally unnecessary and pedantic post from you Jerry.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          @Ed2: Is that because you like being the dirty pot calling the kettle black or because you dislike the fact contained within my comment…

  14. forthurst
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Comment intended as a reply to Nina Andreeva

  15. Jerry
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    @forthurst: With respect, and the “Keiser Report” doesn’t have it;s own agenda, I know that many europhobes love the (RT) channel, never turning down an invite, and the above programme in particular, but that is because RT are never slow to criticise the EU – but then again they are never slow to criticise western capitalism either, especially if it includes criticism of the USA as well…

    • Jerry
      Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Oops, a stray “doesn’t” crept in, I meant to say; ..DOES have its own agenda,

    • sm
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      At least RT has rational critique and viewpoints in a timely and breaking news fashion. Our MSM is behind the curve and only covers stories much later. I suspect they only cover some of them, as to not do so, would remove the blinkers from a blind horse.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        @am: Well perhaps but then RT does have the entire federal budget of Russia to call upon [1], and some on here think that the BBC has to much money ‘taxpayers’ money…

        [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia_Today

  16. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    The $64,000 questions are:
    Will these desirable outcomes be in the Prime Minister’s renegotiating position?
    Will they be there as red lines that are non-negotiable?

    The reason I ask is this – do not imagine for one single, solitary moment that we will give David Cameron the opportunity to behave as Harold Wilson did in 1975.

  17. Richard
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Peter van Leeuwen’s threats above to the UK should the UK leave the EU amply demonstrate why the UK should no longer belong to this organisation.

    I expect our UK representatives at the EU receive these threats at every EU meeting they attend.

    The idea that the UK can either re-negotiate our relationship with the EU or, by being a member of the EU, make any changes to its policies, workings or structures is laughable. It is like trying to imagine our winning the Eurovision Song Contest and for very similar reasons.

    Our history appears to be repeating itself every thousand years. Two thousand years ago we were enslaved by the Roman Empire. A thousand years ago we were conquered by the Normans. We are are now about to be enslaved by the EU Empire.

    Like all empires it will continue to push expansion by all means possible but will in the end collapse.

  • About John Redwood

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

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