How do you influence the EU?

 

Whenever the UK disagrees with the EU we are told we are ” marginalised” and will lose influence. It is another case of EU double speak, because history shows it is only when we disagree strongly with the EU do we ever get anything we might want.

Margaret Thatcher’s most public disagreement with the EU was over the size of the UK financial contribution. She gained a new settlement which saved us substantial sums.

John Major disagreed over the Euro and gained us a valuable opt out which we still use to this day. It’s a pity he did not just veto the whole Maastricht Treaty, as David Cameron did with the recent Fiscal Treaty.

David Cameron is demanding changes over borders and benefits. Already we hear noises from the continent that some changes will be possible, though not yet enough to satisfy us. There would have been no offers on these topics at all without the UK expressing disagreement with the current position.

Labour’s approach of agreeing with anything the centralisers in the EU  bureaucracy wanted and then either telling the UK it was good for us, or playing it down as an insignificant or unimportant change was the opposite of having influence. There was  no strategic aim for the UK within the EU, and no successes of this craven policy.

Some in the UK establishment seem to be afraid of Germany, and think we need to be pliant supplicants at the court of Mrs Merkel. I see it as the other way round. The UK’s relationship with Germany should be based on the central proposition that we are a crucial customer for their industry, buying much larger volumes of goods from them than we sell to them. As customer we should be able to tell our supplier what we want and expect to have more of  our wishes met. Our bargaining position is much stronger than the pro EU sell out officials and politicians would have you believe.

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100 Comments

  1. bluedog
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Dr JR asks, ‘How do you influence the EU’.

    The answer, in a purely abstract sense, is by exploiting the weaknesses of the EU so that British demands are met by EU concessions.

    Translating this dictum into practice requires that the UK have the courage to apply pressure on the EU through the Eurozone, the undoubted Achilles Heel of the European project. A range of policy options are available and can be offered on request.

    • Peter Van Leeuwen
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      @bluedog: The UK is on record that it has an interest in further eurozone integration as to make the euro (finally 🙂 ) more successful. It has also created the precedence of an EU moving on without the UK (the fiscal compact). It would have to tread very very carefully if it wants to exploit the EU’s need to integrate the Eurozone further, without this backfiring. Ultimately the Eurozone doesn’t need the UK for its next steps, simply because the UK as a non-euro country cannot have the same influence as eurozone members.

      • Timaction
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        …….Ultimately the Eurozone doesn’t need the UK for its next steps, simply because the UK as a non-euro country cannot have the same influence as Eurozone members……
        Peter,
        Please understand we don’t want to be in the EU. We want our sovereignty, democracy and independence returned to Britain. We can then elect/deselect the lawmakers who displease us. Unlike now with the unelected EU dictators. We simply don’t need the EU!
        The EU is a political construct for the stealthy creation of a superstate by incremental Treaty change. We pay over £12 billions a year for a £40 billion annual trade deficit for the benefit of foreign infrastructure’s and farmers. On top of that we are paying billions more for in and out of work benefits, health, education to millions of migrants from the EU and elsewhere. Our public services in health and education are starting to become overwhelmed by sheer numbers and people out here in the real world experience the misery of overcrowding, waiting times, building on the greenbelt and congestion every day. Our culture and heritage is also of significant value.
        We are the 5th largest economy in the world and know we don’t have to be in the political union to trade with it. Ask China, USA, Japan etc.
        We have no voice of consequence in the EU (1/28) as it is a Germo-Franco led alliance who tell us what to do and what is acceptable. In the real world out of the EU “He who pays the piper calls the tune” especially with our trade deficit and being one of the largest net contributors to this failing project. That’s why the people of these islands have had enough. All UKIP have to do is tell the truth whilst the failed legacy parties have to continue to lie, not mention and spin.

        • peter davies
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          @Tim

          Your wasting your time trying to preach to PVL. These are things which have been explained time and time again. Facts the likes of his ilk do not want to hear

      • bluedog
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        PVL says, ‘It would have to tread very very carefully if it wants to exploit the EU’s need to integrate the Eurozone further, without this backfiring.’

        ‘Very very carefully’? ‘Backfiring’? What’s this, a warning? A threat? A nervous recognition that the EMU is an unstable structure that could collapse at any time? Let’s hope it’s the latter.

        Let’s explore the Achilles Heel (EMU) of the EU further. Since 2008 indebtedness within the EU shifted from the private sector to EU sovereigns so that debt to GDP ratios in the EU’s economies are largely at, or greater than, 100%. As a consequence economic contraction is the norm – even the most successful economy, Germany, is contracting. Think of it! An economic agglomeration where just about every single entity is shrinking and financing itself by increasing debt levels! Do the math and you can almost predict the moment of implosion. The linkage between negative GDP and politics is the rate of unemployment in the labour market, which as we know is approaching or exceeding 50% at the youth level in so many Eurozone economies. It’s an economic time-bomb that a slight exogenous shock will detonate. France, Spain, Italy and Greece already exhibit the pre-conditions for political shock.

        So what could be the economic shock? The Achilles Heel of the Achilles Heel is the ECB. Only in the EU could it be decided to try and float a currency for political ends and without an ultimate holding company or sovereign. It’s an experiment which has never been tried before, and should never be tried again. The ECB depends on the confidence of financial markets and the belief of other central banks and government agencies that it can meet its debts as they fall due. With the US Federal Reserve or the Bank of England it is written in stone that the obligations are under-written by the US or British states and their tax bases. But who or what offers a similar underwriting in respect of the ECB? Where is the tax-base than can be called upon to finance the existing obligations or further borrowings? Is the German Constitutional Court the lender of last resort? You had better hope not.

        ECB supremo Mario Draghi is a genius who has played the game with brilliance and exceptional skill. But he is 67 and cannot be expected to save the EU from itself forever when his native Italy is a so much a victim of the EMU. Draghi is an outstanding talent who is needed at home. So when Draghi retires or resigns, who is next at the ECB? Will it be another Jean-Claude Trichet whose response to economic contraction in 2008 was to shrink the EMU money supply? A master-stroke.

        Well, in truth the UK need do nothing except remind the EU of its fatal flaw. The denouement is only a matter of time and the bond markets in the most indebted EU economies will be the canary in the coal-mine.

        As German Admiral Tirpitz was heard to say as his fleet steamed away into captivity in 1918, ‘So, the old pirate state has won again’. The next head of the ECB may yet be the Admiral Tirpitz of our times.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Hold on there, because at a similar point before the LAST general election part of the Tory narrative was that the eurozone states would need EU treaty changes to stabilise the euro, and that would present a “golden opportunity” for the UK to demand and get other EU treaty changes which it wanted.

      So here we are five years on, and the eurozone states have now got the European Stability Mechanism which gives confidence that the renewed crisis in Greece will not lead to disintegration of the eurozone, and Merkel has got her “fiscal pact” treaty to impose discipline on other eurozone states and try to avoid crises in the future; but what has the UK got in exchange for agreeing to the EU treaty change that Merkel demanded to allow for the establishment of the first, and what has happened to the UK protestations about Merkel not being permitted to use the EU institutions for the purposes of the second?

      And instead of disintegrating, as some people predicted, over those five years the eurozone has expanded from 16 countries to 19 countries, no country has left it, and as it is still the case that:

      http://euobserver.com/economic/127073

      “All EU member states, with the exception of the UK and Denmark, are required to join the euro.”

      and the Danish political elite are still keen on joining, it is really only a matter of time until the UK would be left as the only member state of the EU which had not adopted its currency; and how sustainable would that position be?

      Far from praising Major for getting the UK an “opt-out”, which is in fact viewed by others as no more than a temporary derogation, and which he himself said would allow the UK to “wait and see” rather than joining immediately, which is what he really wanted to do, he should be cursed for going along with it rather than exercising his veto on the whole of the Maastricht Treaty.

      • Richard1
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        The idea that Major could or should have vetoed the Maastricht treaty when all other EU govts at the time wanted it is not sensible. Remember also that public opinion in the UK at the time was not nearly as eurosceptic as it now is. Labour when they won a landslide victory at the 1997 election had being ‘in the heart of Europe’ as a core policy, and at the time it was popular. Much the most practical course of action was for Major to obtain opt outs from the only 2 significant parts of the treaty – the Euro and the Social Chapter. (Labour of course subsequently opted back in to the social chapter).

        The UK will be able to stay out of the Euro as long as UK public opinion wants it to. Public opinion will remain in favour of the £ as long as the UK is solvent and the £ is a reasonably strong currency. Should we get a profilgate (Labour?) Govt again and a sterling crisis, public opinion will move very quickly. The Euro might then seem a safe haven, as it still does, amazingly, to populations in southern Europe.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          “The idea that Major could or should have vetoed the Maastricht treaty when all other EU govts at the time wanted it is not sensible.”

          1. So do you think it was also not sensible for your present leader to veto Merkel’s “fiscal pact” as an EU treaty?

          2. Merkel, and indeed her predecessors, would have no hesitation at all about vetoing a treaty which they didn’t want, whatever the governments of other countries thought about it, just she had no hesitation about demanding a treaty change she wanted.

          3. The reason that Major did not veto the Maastricht Treaty was simply that he was in favour of it, so in that sense you are right that it would not have been sensible for him to veto it.

          “Remember also that public opinion in the UK at the time was not nearly as eurosceptic as it now is”

          4. We don’t know what would have been the outcome if the public had been asked about the Maastricht Treaty, do we, because Major followed the precedents set by Heath and Thatcher and refused to ask the public about it directly in a referendum; and whenever you feel like complaining about Labour and the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties you should recall that in denying referendums they were just following the precedents set by the Tories.

          “(Labour of course subsequently opted back in to the social chapter).”

          5. Of course they did; what did you expect them to do, and more to the point what do you think Major expected them to do?

          “The UK will be able to stay out of the Euro as long as UK public opinion wants it to.”

          6. Or until a future government of whichever party decides that the increasingly “isolated” position of the UK within the EU but outside the euro is no longer tenable and decides to take us into it, with or without a referendum; and remember here the words of one of your own MEPs, Christopher Beazley, back in October 2001:

          “It is absurd that in my own country … we will be asked in a referendum to decide whether or not to join the single currency. Can you imagine our financial and economic future being discussed in public houses up and down the country?”

  2. Mark B
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning and a Happy New Year to our kind host, his family and all fellow readers and contributors to this Diary / Blog.

    The ‘influence meme’ is a myth. A sort of bogeyman used to frighten, cower or silence us. Influence in the EU is but an mere distant relation of real unadulterated sovereign power. We are currently on some international committees and boards, 1/28th of just one vote, whereas, Iceland say, is absolute master of its one ‘whole’ vole. Think about that.

    The rebate that Lady Thatcher secured was not the full amount she wanted. Geoffry Howe, now Lord Howe could not deliver and encourage her to take what was on offer. And like always, as the years went by, we gave more and more away. In fact, part of our rebate will be used to settle that £1.7 billion debt the EU tells us we must pay. You remember, the one we said that we would not pay by the PM – less the obligatory caveats.

    Sir John Major’s Euro opt-out was in fact an opt-in. Gordon Brown had three options open to him when dealing with the Lisbon Treaty.

    1. Opt-in to the Euro.
    2. Maintain our current position of holding an Opt-in into the Euro (default position)
    3. Removing the Opt-in altogether and therefore making absolutely clear that the UK would and could NEVER join the Euro.

    Of course no will believe me. But that is OK. I KNOW the TRUTH !!!

    Cameron never vetoed a treaty, stop repeating or telling lies. All he did was refuse to sign the Fiscal Pact. You need to read the EU Treaties to know that before a treaty can be set up, a whole raft of procedures need to be implemented such as holding a Government Convention. I understand why our kind host keeps on about it, but his not, and never has, fooled me.

    Immigration, although high on other peoples agenda, is not on mine. I wish to remove the commitment to, EVER CLOSER UNION, and the only way that is going to happen is for the UK to leave.

    Article 50, and we are on our way back to being an independent sovereign nation.

    Here is to a better year for those who ‘genuinely’ support our removal from political UNION with the EU Superstate.

    • waramess
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Maybe we should remember an election is only four and a bit months away and politicians might be expected to have memory lapses and recall difficulties, bless them.

      The only way to gain influence in the EU is to exit and obtain leverage by being their biggest export market. Nothing else.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      On your contention that the UK’s treaty “opt-out” on joining the euro is in reality an “opt-in”, I recall when an EU Commission Vice President, Margot Wallstrom, rather cryptically but accurately observed “an opt-out is also an opt-in”.

      Addressing the EU Parliament on July 11th 2007:

      http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+CRE+20070711+ITEMS+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN

      “First of all, on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Commission does not like opt-outs. We would have preferred not to have any opt-outs. But what was the real political choice here? It was a weakened charter without legal force or a charter that is legally binding for the EU institutions with an opt-out, or preserving the full text of the charter. Then, I prefer to have a charter which is legally binding, and an opt-out is also an opt-in so this is not cast in stone.”

      But in my view whether it’s seen as an “opt-out” or as an “opt-in” is much less important than the fact that at Maastricht Major agreed it would only apply to the UK and that all other EU member states, present and future, would have no choice in the matter; all of them would be under a treaty obligation to join the euro, and moreover having joined it none of them would ever be able to leave it; and this was at the same time that he was urging enlargement of the EU, knowing full well that every new country which then joined would be put straight on the conveyor belt into the euro with no way of ever coming back.

      And nor has Cameron objected to this, having agreed to Croatia joining the EU on the same basis, that under its terms of accession it would be legally obliged to join the euro at the earliest opportunity, so adding another country to those lined up against us in the eurozone bloc.

      (To anticipate that somebody may point out that Denmark also has an opt-out on joining the euro, that was not actually agreed at Maastricht but had to be agreed separately afterwards because of the domestic reaction in Denmark.)

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      On your contention that “Cameron never vetoed a treaty”, he did veto a treaty in the sense that he stopped Merkel having her “fiscal pact” as an EU treaty, but he didn’t veto a treaty in the sense that she went ahead anyway with a treaty which was originally supposed to be outside the framework of the EU treaties.

      And it’s perfectly true that you will not find that “fiscal pact” treaty listed among the EU treaties on the EUR-Lex website:

      http://old.eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/index.htm

      However through his weakness, or worse, Cameron has allowed three very bad precedents to be set, which could well be used against us in the future:

      That a group of EU member states may make use of the common EU institutions for the purposes of a treaty which is not an EU treaty, over the express objections of one or more EU member states which are not parties to that extraneous treaty.

      In particular, that the group of EU member states which are parties to that extraneous treaty may conclude a treaty which purports to confer on the EU’s Court of Justice a new power, one which has never been conferred through the EU treaties, namely the power to adjudicate on their compliance with that extraneous treaty and impose sanctions including fines on any country which it holds to be in breach of that extraneous treaty which is not an EU treaty agreed by all EU member states.

      And that a group of EU member states can conclude an extraneous treaty which purports to commit all EU member states to agree to it becoming an EU treaty and applicable to all EU member states at some point in the future.

      In fact all this is moving in the direction of ending the stated principle that:

      http://europa.eu/about-eu/index_en.htm

      “The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries.”

      and making EU treaty change a matter for majority voting not unanimity.

      • bluedog
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        In an excellent post, Denis Cooper quotes, ‘“The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries.”

        Which begs the question, what if the designated sanction for non-compliance, a fine, is ignored and withheld?

        At some point a miscreant EU state is likely to be threatened with force, the basis of all government. As the UK remains an important military power, with nuclear weapons, force is not currently an EU option in its dealings with the UK. However it does not take too much imagination to foresee an EU campaign to arrogate the British and French nuclear weapons to itself, together with permanent membership of the UN Security Council. If Germany were to press for that development, would the UK resist?

        There is a clear disconnect between the existence of the EU foreign service and the lack of EU membership of the UN. This contradictory position can only be resolved one way, at the expense of Britain or France. Given that the EU is a Franco-German construct, France is the least likely to succumb. Within the councils of the EU, Britain must surely be the sacrificial lamb, being fatten for slaughter even as we speak.

        It is essential to recognise that the EU is an existential threat to the United Kingdom. Continued EU salami tactics are progressively stripping away British sovereignty with threats of sanctions or worse, see the post by EU apologist van Leeuwen above. The British electorate currently seems apprehensive but is by no means convinced of the risks. Our host is entirely correct in his earlier post in which he advises against an In/Out referendum on the EU. A decisive electoral defeat is a risk that cannot be entertained. Such a reverse would put the cause of Brexit back by a generation, by which time it would be too late. More nuanced and assymetric tactics are required.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          Yes, “an existential threat to the United Kingdom” is correct.

    • BobE
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Well said. I agree completely

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Had Cameron not ratted on his Cast Iron promise about five years ago then he would have won the last election. Had he then held the referendum or added it to the absurd AV one (not withstanding the ratification) he would have been in a far better position to negotiate something of value. So far he has not even told the electorate of anything substantive that he wants to try to negotiate back. Certainly nothing that would make it worth staying in the EU.

    He just cannot help it, he was just given Ted Heath/Libdem/BBC think pro EU, tax borrow and waste, big state, innumerate, in three letters basket case N….. H…. S……, green crap genes.

    • brian
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      You are either displaying your ignorance of political realities or are choosing to ignore them. To get a referendum established would require a majority vote in parliament. This would not have been possible because Labour and the LibDems are both in favour of The Lisbon Treaty. Apart from which a vote by the British people against Lisbon would not in itself abrogate the Treaty. This would involve a vote in parliament, also impossible with the current parliament. You should promote the idea of a Conservative majority government if you want to make progress in EU reform or exit.

      • libertarian
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Brian

        Or you could just try reading Lifelogics post !

        He said IF Cameron hadn’t ratted he would have won a MAJORITY. So the rest of your post is redundant.

        The Conservative Party is dead, extinct, its just going through its death throws. Wiped out in Scotland, thin on the ground in North and under huge pressure in the South. Yet STILL they persist in going down the same route as the rest of the “liberal metros”. They need to return to their fundamental platform. Self government, less government, low taxes & free markets. Learching to left, right or the so called centre ground is a failed strategy.

        They’ve had 20+ years to get this right and have failed. Their own support has now walked away and it isn’t coming back

        Reply He did not rat. He offered a referendum on Lisbon prior to ratification, and voted for just that policy. Labour and Lib Dems voted us down.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          He did quite clearly rat on it.

          In an article for the Sun on 26 September 2007, Cameron wrote: “Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.”

          He ratted on it before the last election as is quite clear. That ratting plus his agreeing to Clegg’s equal billing on TV and his general lefty green crap cost him the last sitting duck election.

          The claim that a treaty is not a treaty once ratified is also bogus drivel.

          Reply As your quote shows he always said a referendum on a pre ratification treaty.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            The quote does not show that at all. His adding on of “No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.” does not alter or amend the promise given of: “Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.” in any way.

            It is merely an addition statement of his opinion just added on. He did not say “a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations (but not if it is ratified before we gain power).” he did not even say “a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty PROPOSALS that emerges from these negotiations.”

            The ratting was very clear indeed. A treaty is actually only a treat once it is ratified anyway, before that it is merely a proposed or draft treaty. The idea it is not a treaty once ratified is clearly just a fig leaf/con pushed by some to defend the indefensible.

            The fact that he did not hold a referendum shows clearly where his heart and soul lie and cost him a majority. What about the IHT ratting too? Not even mentioned now even for next term (not that there is likely to be one).

            Reply He told the country the promise lasted all the time the treaty was unratified, spoke for it and voted for it in the Commons and highlighted the need to keep the treaty unratified. Many of us wrote a letter to the Czech state for that reason, recognising the importance of this issue,and urging them to delay signing. He did not subsequently rat and did not offer a referendum on Lisbon in the election. He promised IHT changes if awarded a majority. Lib Dems vetoed that idea.

        • Hope
          Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          He was not going to let matters rest there. What has he done if not ratted on this comment? Today he writes to claim he has halved the deficit, is he wrong, a liar, deluded or another con like he would not pay the £1.7 billion extra demand from the EU?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 2, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

            Indeed “repaying the debt”, “in the black by 2018” they are all clearly untrue and (intentional one assumes) politicians deceptions – confusing debt with deficit.

        • Ken Adams
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          Cameron put no caveats on his referendum promise, hence he did break his cast iron promise to the people.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        I did say HAD he won! I know that once ratified things are rather more difficult but it would have strengthened his hand hugely in negotiations to have a clear referendum result. He clearly wanted no such thing even before he threw the election.

        Instead he preferred a pointless AV referendum, no real negotiation on the EU, endless greenest government ever drivel and gay marriage and the gender neutral insurance/pensions sort of insanity.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        At least on the face of it the coalition agreement negotiated by Hague in the aftermath of the general election determined what would be possible or impossible in the current Parliament, and it has been reported that the LibDems were pleasantly surprised by how little he asked for.

        Although it has to be said that neither the LibDem leaders, nor the LibDem MPs and peers, could be entirely trusted to keep to that coalition agreement, and arguably they have broken it by blocking the boundary changes wanted by the Tories.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

          Indeed the failure to get the fair boundary changes is a dreadful failure of this agreement. What did the Tories (as opposed to Cameron) get at all? Almost nothing we have had a LibDem government in all but name.

      • Ken Adams
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

        brian I think the point was if Cameron not broken his cast Iron Promise we would not now have the present Parliament, the Conservatives would have won the election and would have had a majority in the House of Commons.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Do you have any comment on the totally unworkable and absurd EU driven VAT changes coming it?

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      It would seem from press reports that even HMRC are totally confused and underprepared.

      Reports suggest they are going to try and change it !

      Some hope with the EU involved.

      In the meantime I guess many businesses will be fined as ignorance is no defence.

      Seems our politicians did not understand the effect this would have on businesses when they all voted this through, probably because not many of them have ever run a business, which says it all really.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        “Even” HMRC – they are nearly always confused nowadays.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          When they can be bothered to answer the phone or letters at all that is.

          • stred
            Posted January 2, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            Last tax year, this month I argued that I did not owe the tax as calculated on the HMRC computer return. They refused to explain and followed with another demand mid term. Just before Christmas 2014 they informed me I had been overcharged £1300 and offered a refund, without interest. I wonder how many other people have also been overcharged, and probably will be again this January. Well- with the ex- head of the Border Agency in charge….

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Clearly we will have more influence on the EU if we get out now and restore UK democracy. If we continue on Lib/Lab/Con or Cameron’s path we will just have handed complete control to the EU and then have no influence at all, beyond pointless pleading. Perhaps the right to say something (for a minute or two) before we are again out voted 25 to 1 and further enslaved.

  6. Brian Taylor
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    First may I wish you a happy New Year.
    I will now repeat what I have said before on the EU. In 1975 I voted to stay in The Common Market, maybe I did not take enough notice of the Small Print although I think a majority of voters agree we voted for a free trade that would be good for jobs, and at that time it sounded a good idea.
    In 2015 I think the conservatives will win a small majority, if not I hope they are the largest party and form a minority government, put before the house EVEL and the EU referendum bill, let’s see who vote against and say if defeated we have to have another Election very quickly.
    It’s time we sorted this country out and keep it on a sound footing with the Conservatives.
    Last I hope I live to vote on a referendum, the new terms will have to be a massive improvement or I will vote to leave.
    Best wishes to all.

    • Vanessa
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      I, too, voted to stay in, in 1975 but did not realise so many things.

      First, we did not have to “join” anything to trade with any nation – first con.
      Second, we were never told the truth about the reason the EU was set up but was told it was purely for trade not “ever closer union” !
      Lastly, we were never told we would lose our sovereignty, legal system, common law rights and freedoms and be governed by a foreign power.

      Some “Trade Agreement” !! What they should have said was it was a trade agreement but it was all one way – to trade the United Kingdom to become 12 Regions of the EU.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Reading David Cameron’s pathetic piece in the Telegraph today he makes virtually no mention of the main issue of concern to voters. He even absurdly claims to have has a series of major tax cuts. Just how deluded can a man be after his 299+ tax increases, his IHT threshold rating, the 45% income tax, 12% stamp duty, 28% CGT the removal of personal allowances and child benefit for many and the continued pension muggings?

    For his information the main issues are:

    Open door EU and other immigration and the total lack of provision in increases services for them.
    The relationship with and huge direct and indirect costs of the EU
    The 299+ tax increases Osborne made and the tax rates that are far to high even to raise maximum tax.
    The blatant ratting on IHT thresholds.
    The expensive energy and all the green crap from the Davey/Huhne/Cameron religion.
    The vast deficit and huge & increasing government debt levels.
    The decreasing productivity, lack of many competitive advantages and huge trade deficit.
    The absurd and idiotic over regulation of almost everything and insane employment laws.
    The augmentation of the feckless using other tax payer’s money.
    The generally appalling standard of public services in general. Particularly the (in three letters) N H S, most schools, local authorities, very many universities, roads, rubbish collection, old people care provision ……
    The bloated over paid and largely incompetent state sector. Very many on whom were in the mainly depressing honours list yesterday.

    Perhaps he could address these issue when he gets chance? Just ignoring them will not wash.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      We all realise that the Cameron types think they only need to aim their message at a few floating voters in perhaps a hundred marginals. This may seem a rational approach (on a technical analysis of the UK’s voting system) which renders most people’s votes totally valueless. It is not all rational and does not work.

      It ignores how a sensible, uplifting message can develop a mood and momentum and win a lot of support. Mrs Thatcher won three election with an increasing shares of the vote (four if you count the one with Major as her chosen man). But the pro EU lefties – Heath, Cameron and Major (after the electorate had worked out he was not remotely Thatcherite) have been electoral disasters.

      Why does the party still persist with this approach that clearly does not work? People will know what they want and will vote for it when they actually see it offered. What they want now is cheap energy, more jobs, far lower taxes, more efficient services, less EU, less government and fewer regulations.

  8. agricola
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Our problems with the EU will not be solved by a pick and mix selection at the sweet counter. To be effective it has to be the invoking of Article 50 from which point we then discuss where we can cooperate. Air traffic is just one area that makes sense, no doubt there are many others.

    I believe that this week or next CMD is going to quietly agreeing to about 35 European Arrest Warrant clauses which effectively put an end to Habeus Corpus for any UK citizen.
    What arrogant right do this man have to tamper with our basic rights of justice. Do you have no control over his euro phobia, what in the name of justice does parliament think it is there for.

    Reply There is no majority in this Parliament to invoke Article 50, which then requires you to negotiate. There was a large majority to hand over powers in the Arrest Warrant, which just a few of us voted against.

    • Martyn G
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I am appalled and angry that our politicians have handed us to arbitrary arrest on any trumped-up charge by a foreign EU nation under the EAW. Our freedoms – Magna Carta and what followed up to the the right of Habeus Corpus were handed down to us by those who fought and often died for them.
      Our politicians were, until the EAW, the appointed custodians and guardians of those freedoms on our behalf and none had any right to surrender to a foreign body i.e. the EU.
      That politicians have now done so is beyond belief and how can anyone trust our politicians in future to not surrender our remaining, dwindling number of national interests simply to placate the demands of the EU.

      Reply Some of us who opposed this move pointed out the irony of doing this just before we celebrate 800 years of liberty under Magna Carta and what followed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and the arrest warrant is an outrageous attack on our liberty.

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    “Some in the UK establishment seem to be afraid of Germany, and think we need to be pliant supplicants at the court of Mrs Merkel. I see it as the other way round”.

    Yes..and only a few others like you see it differently and some are doing something about it with externals.

    Germany calls the tune in the EU and there is no doubt on that at all. Add in Borroso plus mates and its a done deal. Barosso said that Cameron had “lost influence” in Europe and the world by floating the idea of an EU Referendum and Brexit. Where Obama would have called London first, now he was more likely to call Merkel in Berlin. Yet Obama wants the UK to lever the EU for the US?

    Perhaps Russia will ultimately show that Western games don’t work and if they do they damage everybody. Give it time.

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    According to Norman Lamont, it was he who foresaw what a disaster the euro would be for the UK and negotiated the opt out; all John Major did was sign the document!

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    How much influence we may or not have within the EU palls into insignificance compared with having total authority over our own destiny outside the EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Exactly.

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Everyone knows that the EU grandees are determined to create a unitary state.
    Everyone knows that we Brits will never fit in there however hard we try.
    So how do we get to live with our neighbours?

    We could just drift into Europe in which case there will be more and more trouble – HS2, Scottish independence, parliamentary decline, CAP, CFP, the end of our legal development – or we could become Switzerland and spend years and years getting nowhere.
    I think we ought to leave the political structure immediately and then join the EEA and EFTA.
    Why is nobody discussing this?

  13. agricola
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Now Spain has given birth to an anti EU party called Podemos (We Can), driven by the appalling state of the Spanish economy. Unemployment at 26% at the last count and youth unemployment at 46%. It is left wing, but so what, we want realisation across the political spectrum.

    Greece is shortly likely to vote in a government that is likely to say a pox on all that is EU. If fudge by the EU proves impossible as seems likely then that will be the end of the Euro in Greece and quite possibly the first flick of the domino.

    Meanwhile CMD is sanctioning ever closer union, ref EAW, while trying for the sake of the conservative party next May to make the electorate think the opposite.

  14. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Even Margaret Thatcher’s gain has been devalued by subsequent UK government actions.

    And it is clear from what she wrote subsequently that she had become firmly of the view that any incremental EU change favourable to UK was dwarfed by the ideological and conceptual EU changes in an adverse direction. Her analysis of the EU is that it could not be changed in a way consistent with what would be in the UK’s interests.

  15. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    We wake up this am to find that there has been a shanghai crush where many have died ,David Attenborough warns the world of the dangers of escalating climate change and the denial of some authorities to accept this overwhelming evidence, reporters in Cairo who were locked in jail for reporting stories which were alleged as false reporting and discussions of coalition governments and minority governments.The same things go round and round .The continual struggle between groups of animals to dominate , survive and continue their genetic line set against natures stronger natural influence will never allow words only to dominate .

  16. Sandra Cox
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Good morning John, and a happy New Year to you and to all your readers and contributors.

    I see you are commenting on the EU today and as I missed your piece on the leaking of Dame Lucy’s conversation the other day, here (with the help of various blog contributions over the past year or so) is a whimsical EU Project Update from Dame EUgenie OutatheBottel:

    My dearest Comrade, Dame Lucy,

    I hear on the grapevine that that rascal Dr Redwood has once again leaked a private conversation of yours.

    I have to warn you once again to be vigilant! Our puppets in the EU local council chamber at Westminster have gone to great lengths over the past forty or more years to make sure the gullible United Kingdomers believe that the EU is good for them, and that the people they vote in every five years are actually running their country.

    Then, puff – the smoke and mirrors all go up in just one of that dreadful man’s diaries, and the Downing Street cat is well and truly out of the bag. Redwood’s leaking of your conversation demonstrates that not only do we have your parliament in our grip, but we have our placemen in the highest echelons of what your people like to call their civil service! I hear that on a certain blog he has been voted Parliamentarian of the Year, increasing his vote this year to 37% so he must be doing something right and therefore he must be stopped!

    I do believe that we have enough time between now and 2017 to suppress the spread of these blogs – I understand that the Daily Telegraph has all but closed them down, and that the Guido Fawkes blog is now bought and paid for by that dreaded Aussie.

    Also, you really must all work harder to counteract that ghastly man Farage who so upsets our dear comrades in our hallowed European Parliament. You must continue to get the EUBC – oops, I am getting a little ahead of myself – we are for the moment still calling it the BBC – to go against him. Well, we have many of our comrades in place there, and we pay enough in sweeteners!

    On to my review of the past year and may I say well done once again to the LibLabCon Party and Gravy Train Passengers everywhere, your EU mission is well on its way to completion!

    Wonderful – EU gold stars for Clegg, Cameron, Hague, Osborne and Miliband for their tireless efforts in embracing our beloved Lisbon Treaty, and special mention to Generous George for slipping in sly additional payments to prop up our beloved Euro.

    Congratulations to all our – sorry, your – politicians and civil servants who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in ignoring any treaty get-out clauses, and gold-plating our demands, despite the rebellions of a few misguided traitors to the cause. Keep up the good work – I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that priority should always be given to Common Purpose graduates who are working on our behalf behind the scenes, in all areas of government, media, education.

    Remember that enterprise and innovation must be stifled at every opportunity, so we will expect you to implement and enhance the red tape and regulation on small businesses. Here we must pay special tribute to Comrade Cable, not only for his tireless work on our behalf in this respect, but for selling off your Royal Mail at a knockdown price. I have to say I had a little flutter myself – just don’t ask how I engineered that one, but you know we Europeans have ways of …..

    Aren’t you so glad you saw sense and handed over control of your laws and borders to us. Don’t forget that we do most of your thinking for you (85% at the last count) so you can get on with other tasks such as pushing the carbon myth, or just sitting on your derrieres, being paid by the taxpayers while pretending to represent them.

    And don’t worry about May 2015 – just remember that each new GE gives hundreds of thousands – and possibly millions of naturalised EU immigrants the right to vote, such is the eagerness of the UK Government to hand out citizenship to EU nationals. And David’s scrumptious plan to delay a referendum so that they can all add to the vote to remain in the EU fold. Oh, in all my excitement, I nearly forgot his other little coup – I understand that he is likely to choose Major – to “negotiate” on the UK’s behalf. This just gets better and better!

    On the subject of immigration, even more congratulations – your diligence has also resulted in your greatest achievement – massive immigration figures! The country we used to refer to as England is the Number One destination for free movers from our colonies and regions across the globe. Yes, comrades, it will not take us much longer to bankrupt the Little Englanders financially – we have almost bankrupted them culturally. On top of your EU membership fees and the cash these immigrants are sending back to the Eurozone, each and every week our most esteemed colleagues, David and George, are spiriting another £217,000,000 of your taxpayers’ money overseas to unaccountable “projects”.

    Remember that public fear is key to achieving your goals, and I see that the lovely Nichola has managed to transfer the problems and costs of NHS Scotland onto the Englanders yet again. Also, we are encouraged to see that the poorest of Europe have swelled the queues for doctor appointments, and increased waiting times in A&E units. The sweetest thing is that it is being blamed on the UK’s elderly – yes, the foolish old people are still selling their houses to supplement our wonderful NHS – oh, what a blessing!!

    I think we can safely say that your mission to splinter the UK has been a success. Yes, despite the outcome of the Scottish referendum, the chaos that surrounded it has still resulted in the UK being well and truly dissected, and these EU regions will make easy pickings. We are already seeing excellent results as individual calls from the three other “nations” for more and more funding from a struggling Treasury will distract them all from the EU’s pincer movement.

    However, I have to warn you, allowing such “democracy” for Scotlanders has awoken some Little Englanders from their sleep. So, be on the lookout for any further opportunities for manipulation, and continue to – how do you say it? – “pull the woolly jumpers over their eyes”. Most importantly, continue to work undercover, using influences such as the EU Broadcasting Corporation, Clegg, Heseltine and other likeminded collaborators to fragment England and rub the Little Englanders’ noses in it

    You might have realised that the EUBC and other media outlets are suppressing stories of unrest in other EU regions. We know only too well what those bolshy United Kingdomers are like, but do not concern yourselves with small pockets of resistance. Europol, our law enforcement agency, can offer a flexible response, but to speed things up in the future, it is vital you get on with HS2, and don’t let’s forget we can also use it to speed up our EU Gravy Train Special – always leaving from a platform near you!!

    Aren’t we all having such a wonderful time and aren’t you all glad our most esteemed comrade, Blair, repealed the Treason Laws in 1998, As they say – you can all get away scot free!

    Yours, in dictatorship, sorry, comradeship,
    Dame EUgenie OutatheBottel.

    PS If this missive gets leaked, Dolittle – you’re toast!

  17. alan jutson
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Happy new year to all, lets hope 20125 will be better than 2014, although much will depend upon the election result in May I fear.

    Interesting your topic of the day today John, as this was also one of the he topics around the dinner table last night with 4 couples present, with all of us wanting an exit or trade only deal.

    The other main subject was immigration, again with all four couples wanting far fewer than at present, and certainly a stop to free movement altogether.

    None of us could understand Camerons so called negotiation stance, and thought he was weak and out of touch.

    Interesting also that some of us thought some of our children (grown up with a family themselves) were less bothered about both topics than we were ourselves, because they never knew times when it was different.

    First time we have had a real lengthy political discussion for any extensive time around the table at this time of the year, but this probably reflects how absolutely p…ed off we have all become with many of our politicians, policies and their lack of real working life experience.

  18. oldtimer
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Back in the 1970s the UK was known as “Treasure Island” because it was such a profitable market for exporters from the continent. Nothing much has changed. As you point out, the UK is a significant market for the rest of the UK.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      “Treasure Island” eh ?

      Well let’s have them (the big European exporters) thinking that for as long as possible. If they are happy to send us more real goods and services than we send them and we make up the difference with pieces of paper, or digits on some computer spreadsheet, who’s receiving the treasure and who’s supplying it?

      Of course, they may wake up to the fact that they’re being had one day! They may decide they need to spend some of the liabilities they have acquired over the years while they are still worth something. They’ll then be the net importer and the UK will be the net exporter.

      But don’t tell them that! The UK seems to be doing much better than they are just the way things are.

  19. Ian wragg
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year John and all our readers.
    We have no influence whilst your boss is committed to EU membership at all costs. We have the weakest PM in history.
    Today wind is supplying 19% on a blustery bank holiday when demand is only 28 gw.
    Some coal and gas stations are on hot standby to accommodate this nonsense and we are still importing 1gw from Holland. I would advise everyone to log onto
    gridwatch. templar. co.uk
    You can see that our leaders beloved windmills have generated over the year between 0.5% (for almost 3 months) and 6%. On average about 3% of our needs despite there being about 15% installed capacity.
    Most interested is despite more windmills being built, output is less

    Idiots running the asylum.

  20. mick
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    First off a Very Happy New Year to you and your family Mr Redwood, sorry to put a damper on it but the Con/Lab/Lib`s all want to stay in the dreaded EU, it does`nt matter what the PM is going to try and fob the voting public off with we know you are not going to achieve anything of any sufficient, we the public have had a belly full of all the lies and deceit over the years from the Con/Lab/Lib`s and main stream media, well things are going to change big time as you will see in 126 day`s time Tick Tock Tick Tock

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I’m more interested in how we influence the UK political class.

    With the news that Milbands inner circle regard everyone with a Northern accent as “thick”, and the obvious public school favouritism from Camerons inner circle, the lefty arts educated BBC, I want to know how the majority of us influence these clowns?

  22. agricola
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    So CMD wishes that those who put into the UK financially are the ones that get out. What an hypocrisy a day after he announces the end of the winter fuel allowance for those UK citizens in France and Spain. While the working population pay their taxes this slight of hand con man is happy to give £12 Billion to overseas aid and it’s despotic recipients, plus of course £12 Billion and some to the EU. The man’s logic is mind boggling.

    He has the effrontery to suggest that a vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour when in reality it is a vote for UKIP from people who are utterly disgusted with the policies of the Lib/Dem/Lab/Con triumvirate on their conduct of politics in the UK for the past eighteen years or more.

    He boasts about increasing the state pension by £800.00 per annum shortly, but not for existing pensioners many of whom are left to stew in poverty. Neither has he done anything to rectify the rape of private pensions by Gordon Brown. Anyone investing in a private pension now has no chance of a happy retirement except of course those in the state sector including MPs.

    He continues to preside over the swallowing of the UK and specifically England into the maws of the EU, a failed state as I have pointed out earlier. You choose the words to describe his behaviour and vote with a clear conscious.

  23. petermartin2001
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    “As customer we should be able to tell our supplier what we want and expect to have more of our wishes met. Our bargaining position is much stronger than the pro EU sell out officials and politicians would have you believe.”

    Absolutely correct. Mind you, Germany only values its customers when they use a different currency. Then they are quite happy to go along with whatever is necessary to recycle funds to their customers.

    That all changes when they start to use the same currency. Instead of being treated as valued customers, they are treated a scroungers, and told to pull their weight and start to produce a surplus. Somehow, the Germans seem to think that because they can run an export surplus then so can everyone else. It’s just a matter of being more like them!

    The Germans seems smart enough when it comes to engineering. How is it possible that they can be so blinkered on the economic mess they have helped create in the Eurozone?

  24. Peter Van Leeuwen
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Margarethe Thatcher did a deal.
    John Major did a deal.
    David Cameron did not. He created the precedence of the EU moving on without the UK (the so-called “veto”of the fiscal treaty)
    IMHO the UK has lost influence with Cameron at least three times:
    1) By moving the Tories out of the EPP
    2) By opposing the fiscal compact (in vain)
    3) By opposing Jucker as new EC president (in vain)
    Being out of step doesn’t create influence, it just creates further disentanglement (the UK leaving the EU). Outside the EU, the UK will of course have less influence, which is fine, as long as the UK realises this. Believing that outside the EU the UK will suddenly do much better in the world is rather a huge gamble.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Peter Van Leeuwen,

      You would certainly have a point about the UK having to take a “huge gamble” if the EU were functioning effectively, which I would argue that it did when it was a collection of nation states, each with its own freely floating currency and trading amicably with each other. That’s the sort of EU the overwhelming majority people in Britain could support.

      What we can’t support is the nonsensical rules imposed by the EU. We can’t support such Orwellian concepts as the “Growth and Stability Pact” which delivers neither stability nor growth, to such an extent that unemployment among young people in the Eurozone is close to 50%. In ageing societies youth is like gold. They are our future. If they don’t have a future, neither does anyone else!

      Of course, we understand that politicians and , even EU bureaucrats, are human and get things wrong from time to time. We all do. But, when we do get things wrong we learn from our mistakes. We don’t repeat them time after time.

      Sadly the Troika of the EU commissioners, the IMF, and the ECB don’t learn. They seem incapable of learning. If austerity economics fails they can only think it’s failed because there hasn’t been enough austerity. If it weren’t so tragic it would be comic but the economics that rules their thinking doesn’t work in theory, except for the big exporters, and it doesn’t work in fact for anyone.

      Britain may not be a part of the Euro but its failure causes all sorts of problems. The influx of economic refugees receives the most attention, but that’s not the half of it. Sadly we have to conclude that the risks of staying outweigh the risks of leaving. The sooner the better. IMO.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        @petermartin2001: In 2015 you may hear more about investment and growth than about austerity. As the Italian prime-minister has rightly pointed out, it is not called ‘stability pact’ but ‘stability and growth pact’. Wait and see if these, in your mind incorrigible, EU/IMF institutions will do a better job in 2015 and beyond.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted January 2, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          Peter van Leeuwen,

          I hope you are right. An economically healthy Eurozone would solve nearly everything economically , although there are some political issues still . IMO. The flow of immigrants would be two way. UK businesses would have better export market with customers who had jobs and therefore money to spend and orders to place.

          As you say there are signs the Italians, in particular, but there others in France and Spain too, are starting to wake up to the real reason for the Euro problem. But, have the Germans and their right wing economic allies within the EU?

          I don’t think so. As far as they are concerned , if they can run at a surplus then so should everyone else. They don’t seem to understand that they have so much money flowing into the country from export receipts which is then taxed in Germany that an external surplus translates into amuch reduced internal deficit or even an internal surplus too. It’s obviously not possible for every EZ country to run an export surplus, (unless the ECB co-operate to severely devalue the Euro which is unlikely) , so why do the Germans insist on asking the impossible? Why do they complain about France’s 4% deficit. France needs a bigger deficit, temporarily, in order to grow its economy.

          The Germans say they want the Euro to work, but are doing everything possible to cause it to fail. The Eurozone/EU needs Eurobonds, horizontal transfers etc, and needs to make a start on a common taxation system. But the Germans say ‘Nein”. It’s a mystery to me. Until they change there is no hope for the EU.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Why should we be put in a pleading situation with the EU ? . The standards we set for ourselves have a background set in history over a long period of time and have been tested and modified as conditions and the years have gone by . We do not need the voices and dictat of EU bureaucracy to tell us what to do ; certainly from a trade point of view they need us far more than we need them .

    Germany has much to learn from our standards – the 2 World Wars are adequate reminders of whose feet stand on the moral high ground . I admire the discipline inherent in the German culture but I would never accept that it can be imposed elsewhere in the EU come what may . Much of the international success of the German automotive industry is due to the design and engineering skills of this country – one only has to look at the staffing of its forward planning departments as evidence .

    The fledgling EU hangs on the premise that being together is the best way for peace to exist . As things stand , it is more to do with who can pay for its activities and disbursements . The financial plot it has is doomed ; the “takers” will always expect to be bailed out by the “givers” ; the various economies will never be able to progress at the same pace and the political variances will never come together at the same time with the same philosophy .

    We must exit this mistake and demonstrate that acting independently is the best and only way to go forward .

  26. Gina Dean
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Could someone explain how we can take over being president of the EU middle of 2017 and run a referendum at the same time. Surely it would make more sense to hold the referendum later this year or early next. Then if we are to come out it would be quite good to help us at the end of our time. Or it would be settled if we are to stay in and be good europeans.

    Reply There is a case for an earlier referendum – some of us voted for one this Parliament. However, there is also the danger of going straight to a referendum of losing it to the stay in side and then we are lost. The way proposed means we will gain something by way of renegotiation to start with, and make it more likely for the Outs to win if the EU has been unreasonable and shown through the process of renegotiation just what a bad deal we currently have.

  27. Stephen Berry
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    “Hold their feet to the fire.”?

  28. Vanessa
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    JR you forgot to mention that as the largest customer, if we do not like the produce any more, or the price is too high, we can go elsewhere. That should make them sit up and listen but they are all so complacent that they do not believe Cameron and neither do we.

    Happy New Year, it should be an interesting 2015.

  29. DaveM
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    You influence the EU the same way as you influence everything else – by being, strong, independent, having a strong hard currency and a strong economy. And more importantly a strong, balanced infrastructure, in line with the modern times. What we also need is a vision for the future – in or out of the EU – which is 100% within the interests of the UK but with a certain benevolence and a willingness to lead dithering alliances from the front.

    We are never going to be the biggest country in the world but we have fantastic diplomatic ability and an instinctive ability to make things work for us if we’re allowed to.

    Constitutional change to reflect modern sentiments, an exit from the political constraints of the EU, sensible economic and energy policies, etc etc are the way forward. Add to that strength, confidence, and a big set of b***s.

    Go to the gym lots, build your own house well, look after your bank account, walk quietly and carry a big stick. That kind of approach works in every other aspect of life.

    Happy New Year to our host, and to all the people I enjoy arguing with/agreeing with here. 600th anniversary of Agincourt this year – lets be optimistic and help those, like Mr Redwood, who want what we want. The future CAN be bright – don’t let the continentals mess with us – they’ve done that before and lost most times………! Having said that, an exit from the EU doesn’t mean war, it means an amicable divorce.

  30. Peter Stroud
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I am with many traditional Conservatives: I find it difficult to trust our prime Minister. I really cannot see how he can claim, on one hand, to wish to remain in the EU, and on the other, to negotiate our withdrawal – if he fails to win what we want. It is clear that he never really wished to support a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty. He could have arranged one after ratification, simply to have gauged the people’s opinions on the matter. It could, as others have said, been latched on to the AV referendum.

  31. lojolondon
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year, John –

    I do not believe that any renegotiation is possible or desirable. Merkel, Baroso, Hollande, Van Rumpoy, Schultz, etc. have all repeated time and again at every opportunity that there will be no reduction in the powers of the EU. To be fair to them, how could there be? Would every country be able to renegotiate every interaction between the EU and the individual states? That is no way to run an empire!
    Labour, LibDems, UKIP and every other party believes what the Europeans are saying, “there will be no re-negotiation”.
    Cast-Iron Cameron is only pretending to believe that renegotiation is possible because he is playing delaying tactics, hoping that UKIP supporters will fall for his rhetoric once again, vote him into parliament, and he will use a get-out clause to deny us a referendum once again. The Conservative party will have to change leaders to get people to believe Conservative promises, the current leadership are known liars. (PS. Lying about getting a reduction on the £1.7 Billion additional bill only entrenched this situation!!)

  32. fed
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Can someone please explain what these new VAT measures that are being brought in will mean? My husband is a self employed heating engineer and at the moment has managed to stay under the VAT level. This all sounds rather sinister and could be just the thing to finally make him retire at 68. Any more paperwork or paying out will just about finish him and many others who are still working.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      fed

      The new VATMOSS measures are aimed at micro & small business selling digital download “products” into EU countries. A heating engineer working in the UK and under the VAT threshold of £81,000 is not affected.

  33. Mondeo Man
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    How to influence the EU.

    Being outside of its sphere of control has to be the first thing.

    Having a significant public rebellion in the form of Ukip is the most useful thing a Eurosceptic PM could point to in negotiations with Frau Merkel.

    Ukip should be respected and not mocked as it is by the Daily Mail (both its faces !) and by the Tory party.

    The greatest influence in any dealing is through being on the edge of walking away from negotiations for good.

    If only the Tory party (if it is truly Eurosceptic) could see that Ukip is the best thing to happen to it in years.

    Reply There will only be such negotiations if enough people vote Conservative for there to be a majority Conservative government!

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: And this Conservative majority can be achieved where Ukip are allowed to take on Labour where the Conservatives have no hope of winning.

      Labour is kept out – Eurosceptics are voted into Parliament. Ukip MPs are no bad thing over Labour ones, surely ?

      • petermartin2001
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 1:53 am | Permalink

        What you are diving at is correct, though politically Dr Redwood will have to be careful about how he expresses his opinion.

        Every voter needs to look at the possible winners in their constituency. If there is only one then there’s no constraint on their choice. They can vote for whoever they like. It won’t make any difference.

        But more usually there may be two. In which case there’s a strong case for voting for one or the other of these. Those, in England, who may wish to not have an EU referendum would probably want to vote Labour or Lib Dem to defeat the UKIP or Tory candidate. In Scotland there would be greater choice but there would be other issues too.

        Conversely, for those favouring an EU referendum, if the choice is between a LibDem or a Labour candidate and someone else, they should vote either Tory or UKIP according to who they think has the best chance of winning.

        I wish there were more Bennite Labour candidates around. Sadly, there aren’t many so we’ll have to leave them out of the considerations for now.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      To reply:

      Sure – and the 150+ Ken Clark wing (which seems to include Cameron) will deliver that? At best Cameron will have a very tiny majority and probably none. He has over a 90% chance of losing or no majority at all anyway.

    • matthu
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      If enough people vote Conservative that can only encourage Cameron to think he has the backing of the electorate to continue with subterfuge, smoke and mirrors in order to keep the UK in the EU by whatever means necessary (no ifs, no buts).

      If you don’t trust Cameron to negotiate in your interest, why vote for him?

  34. bigneil
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    The EU wants us for 2 things – to demand money ( which DC coughs up ) – and to dump all its unwanted people, criminals, murderers and terrorists on us, then tell us we can’t deport them. The clear aim of the EU is to destroy this once- beautiful country, financially and as a nation of people. Cameron, wanting his dream of being a super-elite in Brussels is quite willing to carry this destruction out.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Big Neil

      You hit the nail on the head as you so often do.

      They are about to scare us with the “if you abandon the Tory plan we are headed for economic chaos.”

      What ? Increasing national debt ? Increasing personal debt – encouraged by this Government stoking of the already inflated property market ?

      QE ? Rock bottom interest rates and public sector cuts yet to come ???

      Among our greatest ‘exports’ now our children’s university places and their homes. Sex ‘n’ drugs now included in GDP ? All while they cram the country with (migrants ed) our homegrown best are bought by the more sensible countries in the commonwealth who operate a points system.

      The recovery is not real. It will unwind whomsoever gets in power in May.

      They are trying to buy us with plastic baubles.

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Next May we will have a general election, which is an exercise in national representative democracy, but it has become clear to at least some of us that national representative democracy simply cannot work when almost all of the representatives elected by the people will have been effectively suborned by supranational authorities and will give their loyalty to those external authorities not to the people who elected them.

    One alternative is to introduce the corrective of direct democracy, but the obstacle in the way of that is the cross-party cartel of elected representatives who wish to maintain their entrenched positions as the national agents of the supranational authorities.

    Take, for example, our present Prime Minister and his senior colleagues who control the Conservative party. For two years they duped many of the people into believing that they would allow a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but then decided that there should be no referendum; then they said they would make sure that nothing like that would ever be imposed on the people again by passing what they called a “referendum lock” law, but they put in fine print to make sure that several referendums we should have had were blocked; when it was suggested that there should be a “mandate referendum” to set the parameters for renegotiation of the EU treaties they opposed that, and they used the party whip system to stop attempts to put on pressure for a referendum; instead they produced a Bill for a referendum, but only to be held after the next general election, and knowing that it was extremely unlikely that the Bill would be passed into law and could in any case be repealed, a mere publicity stunt; yet now these same Tory party leaders expect us to believe their promises that if only we elect enough of their recommended candidates there will be a radical renegotiation of the EU treaties followed by a free and fair referendum, and even though the stories of how they intend to cheat us on that have already been circulating.

    And when they and their predecessors have consistently shown over decades that the last thing they want to do is to allow the British people the opportunity to interfere with their favourite project of “ever closer union” with neighbouring countries, eventually leading to the legal subordination of our country within a European federation as adumbrated in the 1950 Schuman Declaration, why should anybody believe them now?

    Reply Conservatives wanted a referendum o n Lisbon and voted for one in the Commons. We tried to persuade the Czech Republic to hold out fro m ratifying Lisbon in 2009 so there would still be a separate Treaty to veto by referendum in 2010.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      But he ratted on his cast iron promise before the election and thus threw the election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      It was obviously very unlikely that President Klaus would be able to hold out until May 2010, but the fact that thanks to intense German pressure he was unable to do so did not mean that there was no longer a separate treaty to vote on; and as that treaty, the “Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007” is still listed among the current EU treaties on one of the EU’s official websites, here:

      http://old.eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/index.htm#current

      clearly the EU does not accept the ludicrous Tory myth that it somehow ceased to exist the moment that it came into force.

      Reply It was no myth. Once the Treaty was ratifies in every country the UK could no longer derail that separate treaty but had to enter a renegotiation or leave the Union. That’s the way it works under the EU rules.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        “… but had to enter a renegotiation or leave the Union.”

        Precisely; if in 2010 the British people had been given the chance and had refused to approve the changes to the EU treaties embodied in the Lisbon Treaty, which still existed as an amending treaty then just as it does now, then the British government would have been compelled to embark on a renegotiation or leave the Union; so in effect what Cameron achieved by backing away from a pledge to hold such a referendum after the 2010 election was to postpone that trouble until after the 2015 election.

        Which may well be all that he wanted to achieve, just as he may well find excuses for a further postponement even if he remains as Prime Minister after the next election and with an overall majority, and meanwhile the process of “ever closer union” continues more or less day by day.

    • matthu
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Not enough Conservatives are Eurosceptic: too many are like Clegg, Mandelson, Clarke, Hesseltine, Major, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Cameron. Vote for them and you create an in-built majority for IN whatever the outcome of any renegotiation.

      If the renegotiation fails, they simply dump Cameron. No referendum is then necessary.

    • matthu
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      Cameron simply realised that if he asked the electorate to give approval for the already ratified treaty, then rejection of that treaty would be tantamount to an OUT vote.

      He could still test the water now.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        No, a vote rejecting changes to the EU treaties would not be tantamount to a vote rejecting the treaties as a whole. That was always a misleading idea put around both by some Tories and I regret to say also by UKIP.

  36. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    If you’re a pretty big and powerful nation: treat her mean to keep her keen.
    If you’re a tiny shrinking violet of a nation hemorrhaging skilled workers, pray there is a God.

  37. paul
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for not putting up my blog on HGV bot highway, It”s a long story. You could not do it anyway because of loss of tax. Yes loss of tax of 40,000 pounds per HGV lorry a year doing 200 gallons of fuel a week and lorry road tax, insurance tax, tolls, VAT on lorry repairs and employment tax with self driver lorry and fewer repairs. The technology is in place now and costs are coming in to line. You can get 200,000 HGV lorry off all main roads in England in 10 years at a saving of 16 to 18 billion pounds in year ten if fuel prices do not go up, more room on the roads. Ideal for fracking, farms. supermarkets,exports, In fact when somebody does plan the HGV bot highway in the future it would a good ideal to start with the food chain in the countryside. You could do as much as a 1 billion to 1.1/4 billion in tax a year. Catch 22 electric cars getting one myself more lost tax no repairs and 5000 pound government grant on top, i can just see 1 million new electric cars on the roads in ten years, that will be like taking 175.000 lorry off oh what for the want of tax

  38. Ted Monbiot
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    If the voting could be changed in the EU, that would be good.
    One vote for the UK at a table of 28 does not strike me as us having any real democratic influence.
    Especially with the majority of nations being net receivers of funding.

    Perhaps a new voting system based on the amount of money put into the pot added to the size of your nation.

  39. brian
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Happy New Year to all.
    My wish for the New Year is that commenters come up with facts and practical ideas, not personal invective.

  40. zorro
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    ‘Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.’……. Tricksy…

    zorro

  41. fedupsouthener
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    For Lifelogic

    Can you explain the new VAT rules please? John, perhaps you could help out here too?? Nobody we know who are self employed has been told anything about this. Was it too much for the tax office to inform us?

    • libertarian
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      fedupsoutherner

      On 1 January 2015 there will be an important change to the VAT rules for business to consumer supplies of digital services within the EU.

      From 1 January 2015, the place of supply to non-business customers of telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services services will be the country where the customer is located. UK businesses supplying digital services will have to charge and account for VAT according to the rules of each non-business customer’s member state.

      To save UK businesses having to register for VAT in every EU member state where they supply to consumers, they will instead be able to use the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) online service provided by HMRC. For this they must be VAT-registered in the UK EVEN IF THEY ARE CURRENTLY WAY BELOW THE THRESHOLD.

      Insanity, how to kill 1,000’s of small and home based businesses.

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted January 4, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to everyone that took the time to explain these new VAT measures.

    • David Price
      Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      I was concerned about this also. I started with a Google search for the word “vatmoss” which returned links to useful info and articles on HMRC and other sites.

  42. Jon
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Dealing with the EU is difficult, Africa doesn’t even get a look in. Having a major European country outside the EU able to accept trade from around the world and with the skils to then feed into the EU market should give EU pause for thought.

    I sense they are so wrapped up in their own world not to see the threat. I think the UK exiting would see a more socialist EU, possibly making some other economies reasons to question their membership,

    It would mean we would need to continue to sign up to the regulations that allow us to trade with the EU but we could accept global business that doesn’t want that burden but to let us handle that side.

    I work and won’t be retiring for some time. The clients that give me work in financial services are global but often set up their European head quarters here. The EU seems to want to rage a war against our financial services, that does not make them attractive. Could the people who pay me still base here after an EU exit. Could the clients who pay me exit in time if the EU pursues its war on our financial services industry if we stay in?

    It doesn’t mean we would be free from the EU regulations, it just means we could de regulate and open up markets that are outside the EU and be the conduit for trade in the EU for them.

  43. Bazman
    Posted January 2, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    In some cases such as the utilities we are indeed buy goods and services from them as many of their state owned industries own our former state owned industries and many of their private companies operate from this country selling goods into mainland Europe my wife works for a American company selling goods in to Germany from the UK they have no trade with the UK. Interesting to see how these companies react to a withdrawal from Europe.
    The City Link parcel company fiasco has not been mentioned on this site where basically the profit have been privatised and losses such as redundancy payments socialised by financial engineering that is little more than a scam on the taxpayer. The claim that large amounts of PAYE tax was paid by employees is for the birds. They employees have no choice in this as it is taken at source for wages paid for work carried out unlike the private equity owners. The employees where of course not an integral part of the company need to generate profits as we have seen in these cases they are merely ‘helping out’ I wonder how many of people who receive what is called laughably ‘remuneration’ just ‘help out’? How much of this ani EU rhetoric is to further erode the workforces and taxpayers rights to facilitate further scams such as this? Stay in the EU they have the best pro business tax scams and tax dodges. Half of the wealth of the worlds poorest 20 counties goes into offshore accounts. So much for low taxes huh!?

    Reply So you would rather City link closed down and sacked people earlier, without the private equity house investing and trying to save it?

    • Bazman
      Posted January 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      This is not the point John. They are in effect being subsided and by the state without risk. The taxpayer and the creditors footing any losses.

      • Ted Monbiot
        Posted January 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        City Link was bought by the venture capital company when it was already in dire straits.
        Sadly despite best efforts from all involved and over £20 million being invested the company continued to fail.
        That £20 million invested has been lost.
        No one has come forward to buy the business.
        Perhaps the Unions might like to buy it for a pound and make a go of it?
        It is a very competitive industry and they appear to have been the weakest company in it.

        • Bazman
          Posted January 3, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Remind us how much the venture capital company made lost and how much everyone else did including the taxpayer in this high risk competitive business. Head we win, tails you lose.

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted January 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            As I’ve already said, the venture capital company invested £20 million and that money is lost.
            There is no profit in having to put a company you own into liquidation.

  44. Atlas
    Posted January 2, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    “Quite”, John. Did you by chance see the re-run of Yes Minister (c. 1984 episode) on the BBC ? It seemed to say it all about how the EU works now as well as back then.

  • 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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