Mrs Merkel needs to know the UK is more Eurosceptic than Germany, though there is some common ground


Mrs Merkel is a clever politician. In Berlin she speaks German, and in Brussels she talks European. She wants the Euro area to reform in a Germanic way, but she wants Germany to stay within the wayward zone and gradually to assume the responsibilities of leadership for the currency.

Her German electors were never keen on the Euro. I remember when senior Germans came to London to persuade me and others of the joys of the Euro which they categorically said the UK would join, they had to admit 70% of the German people wanted to keep the DM.  How wise the people were. Their leaders’ predictions that the UK would lose its City business and find trade difficult outside the currency were less well judged.

Now Germany is in the Euro there is relentless pressure on her to put the German trade surplus and strong tax revenues at the disposal of states with weak finances,  to assist Euro  countries with trade imbalances, and to guarantee commercial banks with weak balance sheets. Just as the UK government, taxpayers and Central Bank stands behind the cities and parts of our country that are in trade and budget deficit, and behind all the main UK banks, so many think Germany should now stand behind  the Greek state and Spanish banks, to name but two problem areas.

Mrs Merkel knows she cannot openly back major subsidies or guarantees from German taxpayers to the problems of the zone . She needs to play brinkmanship with the troubles, only in the end agreeing expensive compromises and even then trying to avoid any direct German payment.  This is why Germany does not want to see the UK leave the EU.

Accepting that the UK has stayed out of the Euro – something the German establishment would not accept  before and shortly after the formation of the Euro –  the UK has a couple of important uses for Germany. The first is the UK can normally be relied on to be more fierce against expansion of EU budgets, subsidies and taxes than Germany, providing good cover for the German position. Second, the UK is a useful unpopular large member of the club making Germany look more mainstream and acceptable. I doubt  Mrs Merkel is stupid enough to think they need to keep the UK in in order to be able to carry on exporting  so much to us, and her Ministers have said sensibly that if the UK left the EU they would want a free trade agreement so they could sell to us and we to them.

Mrs Merkel now has another reason to be nice to the UK. The adverse reaction of many UK voters to the scale of European migration, and to the required favourable benefit treatment of migrants from within the EU, is mirrored by some of the reactions in Germany. Mrs Merkel is wise enough to heed the warning, and needs to take some action to show German opinion that there have to be some limits to generosity to recently arrived individuals, and some understanding of worries about the pace of change in once settled communities.

She and Mr Cameron may well be able to agree some reforms to the EU rules on these matters that are mutually beneficial. She also needs to understand on this visit, however, that the “British problem” is not going to be fixed by a few modest changes to benefit rules. The British problem is an advanced version of the German one. The UK stayed out of the Euro. We did so because UK taxpayers do not wish to stand behind the Greek state, or Cypriot banks or any other country’s trade deficit. Our worry is the whole Treaty architecture is now designed for the Euro area and not for us. That is why we need a new relationship.

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  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    It’s obvious to me that people on the continent don’t want to return to 28 currencies or having to go through passport controls at every border. It is only fair if Britain were made to pay for those facilities it has not helped (understatement) to bring about. Nobody, not even the Greek Syriza wants to go back to that situation, in spite of current huge unemployment.

    Reply We do want passport controls at our border, thank you. We never thought the costs of switching between currencies were that great, and would happily pay them again if countries leave the Euro and set up new currencies.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: I doubt countries want to set up their own currencies again. As Lithuania shows, there are now also political reasons to join the euro. And even worse, from your perspective I assume, in the Netherlands (and Germany) we do want immigrants for demographic reasons, which is not incompatible with Schengen nor with a strict immigration policy as we already have.

      • Iain Moore
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        ” we do want immigrants”

        Tell that to the demonstrators in Germany, they clearly are off message from the establishment consensus that everything is wonderful in EU land .

        • Hope
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          And Sweden,France and Spain. Only the MSM are not reporting it.

      • DaveM
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        PvL: “It’s obvious to me that people on the continent don’t want to return to 28 currencies or having to go through passport controls at every border.”

        The UK isn’t “on the continent” – therin lies your answer. Neither would we need to set up our own currency.

        PvL: “[Germany] do want immigrants for demographic reasons”. Really? Not sure what the average German would say about that.

        PvL: “As Lithuania shows, there are now also political reasons to join the euro.” Yes. Precisely the political reasons why people in the UK want to leave the EU – political control by Germany via Brussels.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          @DaveM: the political reasons have more to do with Russia than with Germany, as you could have read in the media.

      • Joseph
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink


        Aspiring members of the EU have no choice but to accept the euro whereas we don’t so, I would be interested to know what your ‘political’ arguments are for us joining it. In framing your answer, try and remember that we are one of the few net contributors.

        The ‘strict immigration policy’ that you refer too might also be of interest. How exactly do you relate this strict policy to illegal immigrants such as those being ‘shipped’ onward by states such as Italy in accordance with the Schengen agreement?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          “Aspiring members of the EU have no choice but to accept the euro”

          As agreed by Major at Maastricht, and not challenged by Cameron when he agreed to Croatia joining the EU; or indeed by all those MPs and peers who voted through the Act to approve its Treaty of Accession to the EU with that condition attached, as pointed out at the time by the then Tory MP Mark Reckless.

        • acorn
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          What if Mrs Merkel says she will allow Britain to be granted a few “new relationships”; if the UK adopts the Euro. That’s what I would do if I were in Merkel’s position. It’s a John Major style “put-up-or-shut-up” move. It would certainly give an in/out referendum some spice!

          The Germans would love to get the UK into the Eurozone as one of its most profitable export destinations. Selling in Euros is much more convenient than selling in Pounds. Also, at the Eurozone level, it would anchor down the Euro as the next global reserve currency, without having to run a large current account deficit, for years, to achieve it; like the US has done. Estimators reckon the Euro is worth circa 20% less than the Deutsche Mark would have been at this time; a big advantage for an export driven economy.

          Germany, a few years back was “exporting” two thirds of its stuff to other EU countries, that has dropped to just over half today. Currently, anything with a made in Germany label on it will sell globally at premium prices. Thankfully, that includes the Mini and Rolls Royce cars.

          The UK is dependant on knowledge based activity to generate most of our GDP; a lot of that is inside the EU and based on EU rules. Knowlege based activity can easily move to another node on a high speed data link inside the EU.

          I am not winding you up today, this is serious stuff and it needs to be thought out properly. Our Punch & Judy Parliament, full of career legacy clowns to the left and career legacy jokers to the right, is not capable of working this out for us. I bet my answer is the same as yours, but I definitely would not get through moderation if I wrote it here.

          Happy new year to JR and all my sparring partners on this site. Anything can happen in the next five months!!!

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          @Joseph: Misunderstanding: I don’t see those political reasons for the UK, I do understand them for Lithuania.
          The shipment of immigrants from Italy – these are (economic?) migrants from outside the EU. They must fulfill criteria such as having a work permit. Schengen provides no protection for them. They could hide – for a while. Employers hiring illegal immigrants have to pay fines.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

            “They must fulfill criteria such as having a work permit.”

            Not a problem for the Italians as most of them don’t stay in Italy, the Italians help them on their way to other countries.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink


        You may be interested in this below of current Greek voting intentions:
        On vote intention, SYRIZA gathers 30.4%, New Democracy 27.3%, KKE 4.8%, “To Potami” 4.7%, Golden Dawn 3.5% and PASOK 3.5%.

        Furthermore, 74.2% of Greeks answered “yes” or “probably yes” on whether Greece should stay in the Eurozone “at all costs.” This figure has increased significantly compared to the previous survey (May 2013) when it was moving at around 63.5%.

        It seems, precisely as you say, that there are political reasons to join and stay in the euro.

      • bluedog
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        You certainly face a demographic problem in the Netherlands. You now have a situation where your falling birth-rate means there are not enough young people to look after the old people. What to do? Well, you have legislated to murder the old and infirm in order to solve the problem. Is this what you mean by European values?

        • Mark B
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink


          When you look at the history of various nations on the continent, life to them seems pretty cheap.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

          @bluedog: “legislation for murder” (you mean euthanasia) is such a far right wing conservative misinformation, that I thought it only existed in the USA. Do you know how many (=few) people use euthanasia each year, and could you predict how many of those would still be alive if they hadn’t called for euthanasia. You are extremely poorly informed if I may say so.

      • Tony
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        There are now political reasons, you say?

        There were only ever political reasons my friend. The Euro was never about economics, that is just a cover. The Dm, the Franc and the Gilder were strong powerful world respected currencies which gave their users control of their own economy.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

          @Tony: Yes, the euro was always a political project but the political reasons have shifted in the case of the Baltic states and probably soon for Poland as well. (fear of Russia)

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Your reply is just the sort of smug nonsense talked by the comfortable and financially insulated people who seem to inhabit a world that passed by some 20 to 30 years ago.
        The Germans want immigrants about as much as the British do. At present there are very large demonstrations in Cologne and Dresden by people who are concerned about the changes that are being imposed upon them by their rulers. And many Germans, quite naturally, are fed up supporting countries that have no hope and no intention of repaying their debts; they would like a return to the Mark.
        Britain fortunately stayed out of the Euro currency but unfortunately we are not as free as the Germans, or for that matter the Dutch, to demonstrate against mass immigration.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          @Max Dunbar: Change often provokes demonstrations. Leaving aside whether Germans and Dutch are craving for more immigrants, it still would be the best for the countries, and a good politician would be able to explain that to the people.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        “there are now also political reasons to join the euro”

        It has always been political, the economics have always been secondary.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          @Denis: I know, but protection against Russia is a relative new political argument, as far as I know.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink


        In spite of what many on this blog might suggest, the UK wants immigrants too. Demographics is a part of it. But, there are other reasons too. Football supporters don’t raise an objection when their club recruits a talented overseas player, for example. It shouldn’t stop at football. All companies need to recruit talented employees. It’s good for everyone in the company and it’s good for the country too.

        The problem lies when it is generally perceived that the government has lost control of the immigration process. When it is perceived that it is being dictated to by others about who can and cannot enter our country. So it’s a sovereignty issue. It wouldn’t be so much of a problem, at least IMO, if the EU were in better economic shape than it is and unemployment levels in the UK and the EZ were at similar levels.

        But there’s a big difference and people will always want to move from areas of high unemployment to areas where there prospects are better. It’s to our benefit that they want to come here. But the process does need to be controlled to prevent the kind of social problems we are now seeing.

        • libertarian
          Posted January 8, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink


          Totally agree, good post

      • lojolondon
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Peter, that is garbage. We are delighted to have the Pound. And the EU costs thousands of Billions of Dollars per year to run, it is much cheaper to show your passport, a small price to pay for a nation’s identity. Remember, consistently, no nation has voted to join the EU, in every country the people want out but the politicians, government biased media and quislings want in.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

          @lojolondon: Actually, most countries DID hold referendums prior to joining the EU, including all the ten nations which joined in 2004.

          • Hope
            Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

            The EU did not accept no as a response! Socialist construct close to the former USSR. The people have not been informed of it yet.

      • Andy
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        There are only political reason to join the Euro. There are sure as hell aren’t any economic reasons. Fact is only a fool would join this idiot project.

    • David
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      If having to change currency every time you go abroad is so awful why do so many people from the Eurozone come here to work? Is it because they don’t have any jobs?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        @David: if they come to work in the UK I assume they also spend some pounds locally, they need to pay for their living. If they are paid by a company in their home country in euros they will find it a bother, but most banks will exchange the money for a profit.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      JR, as the first stage of the Germans letting it be known indirectly that while they would still much prefer Greece to stay in the euro, but meeting all the obligations it accepted through previous bailouts, they would nonetheless be prepared to see Greece leave the euro, and that (allegedly) they even offered to help the Greek government achieve an orderly withdrawal from the euro in 2011 or 2012, is now well advanced, we see the start of the next propaganda stage in which the Greeks are reminded that the EU treaties provide no mechanism for a country to leave the euro once it has joined, and so leaving the euro would mean leaving the EU altogether:

      “Greece’s membership in the Eurozone is “irrevocable,” European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said on Monday, amid press speculation of a possible “Grexit” that would leave the country outside the euro area.

      According to Breidthardt, the EU treaty clearly states that “euro membership is irrevocable,” and she declined to comment on a “Der Spiegel” report regarding the possibility of a Greek exit from the Eurozone.”

      I saw a reference to an opinion poll in which (as I recall) about 70% of Greeks said that they still wanted to stay in the euro, even if they don’t want to repay all of the debts; and if by itself the threat of Greece being thrown out of the euro isn’t enough to swing the January 25th election then the threat of Greece also being thrown out of the EU altogether if the Greeks vote the wrong way should do the job for the EU and for the German government, the two being almost the same thing as we know.

      And you will no doubt recall, JR, that back in late 2010 when Merkel demanded that “small” EU treaty change to provide a legal basis for the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism, and later for other related purposes, Cameron could have insisted that it must be accompanied by other EU treaty changes, including one to allow a country to leave the euro without having to leave the EU altogether, but instead he simply gave Merkel what she wanted and asked for nothing substantive in return; and you will no doubt recall that later when the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte publicly proposed that there should be such an EU treaty change Cameron remained silent and offered him no support, so that he retreated from that proposal under pressure from Merkel; and you will also no doubt recall that Cameron agreed to Croatia being put straight onto the conveyor belt into the euro, membership of which would be “irrevocable”, as a condition for joining the EU; and you will no doubt accept that altogether he, and Osborne, have hardly given the impression of being opposed to the concept of the euro, but instead have clearly supported not only the preservation of the existing eurozone intact but also its expansion, and are perfectly willing to pledge British taxpayers’ money for that purpose which just as clearly runs directly contrary to our vital national interests; and yet you still say that we should vote these men back into government to continue with their wicked work?

      • Hope
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Well said Denis. Somehow I seem to think that our kind host would prefer to forget these little adjustments along with so many other forgotten promises.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Peter – If the UK were in the Eurozone then our economy would be in deep trouble without the autonomy to set our own interest rates. Keeping the pound was our one saving grace.

      As I have said many times before. Our present ‘success’ (attraction for investors and population movement) are those things which we don’t share in common with the EU rather than the things that we do.

      You say you want immigrants (we all do – charges of xenophobia are founded on lies) but it beggars belief that your country is willing to accept non selective immigration.

      I gather that your personal set up is well established and secure. As in our country we have many people in power who are prepared to be generous with other people’s money.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      “Nobody, not even the Greek Syriza wants to go back to that situation, [separate currencies] in spite of current huge unemployment.”

      They probably not-so-secretly do, but have decided to adopt a pro-Euro line to maximise their chances of electoral success. I would expect they understand the economics of the situation better than most. Greece really needs its own currency to get out of its economic rut.

      Having said that, the Euro could work if the silly rules of the Stability and Growth pact were set aside. When net exporter like Germany, or the Netherlands, trades with a net importer like the UK which has a separate currency it naturally recycles its surplus, otherwise the trades could not go ahead. The net exporter lends back the money to the importer so the importer can continue to be a good customer.

      That needs to happen in the Eurozone too. But it’s politically too difficult. Hence the need for separate currencies.

      • Andy
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        I was at a dinner party in Greece in October and every Greek sat around the table did not want to leave the Euro. They demanded an end to austerity etc, but in vain did I try to point out the damage the Euro had done to Greece and the Greek economy. They wouldn’t have it. I felt like Cassandra.

  2. DaveM
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Seeing as how the only real argument for staying in the EU is the benefit of access to markets, and seeing as how Germany wants a free trade agreement (which means all her little minions will follow suit) and seeing as how the British people will never accept political control from Brussels, is there actually any reason to stay in and continue “sucking up” all the negative aspects? Makes no sense.

    I’d like to spend a few weeks in Germany and see what the atmosphere and feeling is really like there. Difficult to tell from here – as you said, Merkel is a clever woman.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      I spend quite a lot of time in Germany. As John says Euroscepticism is easier to find amongst the population as a whole than amongst their elected politicians (just like here), there is also a rather nasty extremist anti-immigrant movement in the former East Germany. When the Euro was first brought in to replace the DM Germans commonly referred to it as the “Teuero” which is a nice pun for German speakers but has also turned out to be correct. (pun on expensive and euro ed)

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      If you visit eastern cities such as Dresden you will find that people over the age of about 40 tend to struggle with English so a few words of German can make a good impression.

      • DaveM
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Dammit – does that mean I have to learn German now? (I thought French, Italian and Arabic was sufficient!!!)

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Well to get a new deal, we need a proper Tory/UKIP government. Cameron, in the very unlikely event he gets re-elected, will surely be leading the stay in half of the Tory party regardless of any real concessions. For that reason he surely will not get any real concessions so far he had not even asked for anything substantial. Selective EU immigration controls are clearly essential but not to Cameron.

    Does the German state, like the foolish UK government, fund Muslim and other religious (words left out ed) schools I wonder? This seem to be a totally absurd thing to do if you want people to integrate and think for themselves. Why create these artificial cleavages in society with tax payers money?

    It is bad enough to have them teaching the largely bogus or exaggerated green crap by government decree.

    Cameron surely cannot win without him reinventing himself as a proper Tory and doing some UK deal/understanding. Cheap energy, efficient public services that work, lower taxes, far less EU, selective immigration & a smaller state that is what is wanted.

    Cameron so far has been for expensive energy, poor public services, more EU, open door immigration and yet more government.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      What a lot of fuss over Ched Evan. He has served his time and is appealing his conviction, so surely we should let him get back to work. He can hardly show remorse for something he does not admit to.

      The courts did not say he could never work as a footballer every again. Is it the rule of law or just the rule of the lefty/right on lynch mob?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      “UKIP” deal not “UK”

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – A proper Tory/UKIP government would not be allowed. There would be general strikes and rioting.

      The Left do not accept votes peacefully when they do not go their way. They have plenty of form on this sort of behaviour.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        That is a battle that may need to be fought, where are the younger Norman Tebbit types – you country needs you..

      • A different Simon
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Mondeo Man ,

        I know you didn’t say that UKIP and a Tory party are the same thing but I’d like to take the chance to iterate some of the differences .

        UKIP have a broader appeal to the person in the street but probably have a more gender specific appeal .

        Lefties both fail to support democracy when they should and support it when they should not :-
        – they only support it when it delivers a result they approve of
        – they do not accept that democracy should be subject to the rule of law (to prevent mob rule) .

        The classic example of democracy is the first Easter where the crowd bayed for Barrabas to be set free and Jesus to be crucified .

        The politicians crucified a man they knew to be innocent on what they knew to be trumped up charges because it made them popular .

        If we had a UKIP Govt or a UKIP coalition the civil service or security forces would soon bring it down .

    • Vanessa
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – don’t you love the new freedom of speech in this country now ?! So many of the comments have the interference of the editor !!!!!

      Magna Carta has been burned by our political elite.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Well it is JR’s blog he can do what he likes. Not that I think that anything I put was too provocative. But then so many people are provoked by almost anything – usually ripped out of context first.

        Merely saying the NHS is not very efficient sets some people off. As does pointing out how well paid the state sector is remunerated relative to the worker bees.

      • Jagman84
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        I believe that it has more to do with Mr Redwood not being hit by legal action from some of the more libellous comments posted. We are guests on this forum and should act accordingly.

        Reply Exactly

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “The whole Treaty architecture is now designed for the Euro area” well it does not seem to be helping most of the Euro area very much. Designed to actively damage the Euro area perhaps?

  5. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Nobody wants to pay others debts off. We work hard and take a lot of heartache to keep in the black and as a whole make an enduring effort to keep our own bad financial managers from spoiling it for the rest.We therefore don’t want to take further responsibility for many other nations which have been spoiled,but a suffering nation needs help and if they joined the club as a full member they should not only think about the rights but the responsibilities.

    I have heard that Norway , Sweden and Denmark may be the next to suffer due to inward migration.How true this is I don’t know, but whilst people are fleeing from the East in large numbers there has to be somewhere for them to go.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Providing somewhere for people to go who are fleeing from their own countries may alleviate the symptom but it does not solve the problem.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Especially when opposing factions are ending up close to each other in European towns and cities.

        I we really meant to respect a political class which has imported all of the world’s conflicts ?

  6. Andyvan
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Does it strike anyone that most of the economic problems we face in the UK and across the world have been entirely created by politicians and their self serving schemes for more power and control?
    Had they not dreamt up the stupid and doomed to fail EU project we would not have the mass unemployment and social upheaval that does so much to create immigration problems as well as many others. Had Washington, London and others not conspired to create unrest and conflict across the globe we would not see wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Ukraine. Had politicians not cosied up to bankers we would not be have trillions of public debt squandered to bail them out.
    Now we are at the vote grabbing stage of the political cycle and see the unedifying spectacle of mainstream parties trying desperately to kid us that they are the ones that will save us from the EU ogre or whatever other disaster they have created for us. Divide and rule, blame the Germans, or the Russians or the Greeks when really it isn’t the foreign people to blame, it is the small band of elitist, bankers, big business interests and politicians of whatever nationality that are the problem. Without them the problems they affect to solve would not exist in the first place.

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Agree with this wholeheartedly. All we hear about are the problems we are facing but no party has yet to come up with any kind of real solutions. We just keep going down the same road to failure. At least UKIP have some different policies and they can see the need to get out of the EU which is failing on all fronts fast. Clegg wants more coalition governments! I wonder why? He knows it is the only way he can possibly get into power again. What good has it done the nation? Change of policy has been slow because a coalition government can hardly ever agree with one another. Our leaders seem more interested in their futures than ours.

      • DaveM
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        There are indeed many parallels between now and Germany circa 1921, not least coalition governments. I suppose 20 years ago coalitions wouldn’t have been that bad in many respects, but could you imagine it now – particularly if we had PR like the Clegg-clown wants?

    • Vanessa
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      They never existed in the past, but then we have a visa system.

      • Vanessa
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, should be “had”.

    • Richard
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      I agree completely.

      Our current rulers are :

      Going to ruin our economy and living standards through attempting to generate almost all our power (not just electricity) by 2050 using just windmills and burning wood.

      Going to ruin the culture and social cohesion of our country through uncontrolled immigration and by allowing medieval beliefs, intolerances and practices to thrive.

      Going to allow our country to be run by a foreign state.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink


      Agrred 100%. Politicians are the problem and not the solution. We need a vanishingly small number of them, we need to directly elect our government ( not the rag tag rotten boroughs system we have now) & a mandated far smaller state. i.e. The State ONLY EVER provides national infrastructure, health, education, defence, law and order, foreign policy.

  7. petermartin2001
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Just as the UK government, taxpayers and Central Bank stands behind the cities and parts of our country that are in trade and budget deficit, and behind all the main UK banks, so many think Germany should now stand behind the Greek state and Spanish banks, to name but two problem areas.

    Yes, indeed they should. And much more besides. Just as the richer parts of the USA (the dollarzone) have to stand behind and support the poorer parts of the USA. Or the richer parts of the UK (the poundzone) have to support the poorer parts. That’s what has to happen in all common currency areas. Including the Eurozone.

    If the Germans want to be leaders of the EU and the Eurozone, they have to lead and accept responsibility for what they have helped create. If they weren’t prepared to accept that responsibility, they, like the UK, should have decided to stay out.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      @petermartin2001: I tend to agree with you. As you remember, ‘eurobonds’ were successfully opposed by Germany and some more countries because it would not necessitate southern countries to make structural reforms. Now that the “become all like Germany” and “austerity only” doesn’t seem to be working out so perfectly either, I expect that some form of eurobond may emerge in a few years time. In essence it implies some wealth transfer from north to south, but just like the cohesion funds, the wealthier EU members also benefit if and when the southern countries become wealthier and thus good export markets for us.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Initially it was the French government which pressed for EMU to go ahead as a precondition for going along with the reunification of Germany. Then Kohl was advised on strong economic grounds that Italy should not be allowed to join in the first wave, but he chose to ignore that advice on political grounds. Which left the door open for Spain and Portugal to also join the first wave, and then later for Greece to blag its way in as well. The euro has always been primarily a political project, a political project within the wider political or geopolitical project of the EU, in which economic considerations have always been secondary.

    • peter davies
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      You are correct to a degree apart from the fact the German people by all accounts did not get a say on joining the Euro.

      When will politicians learn that governing means driving the car and not selling it off/giving it away unless the people agree via a specific referendum process

      • Vanessa
        Posted January 8, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Peter Davies – Germany went into the Euro under very favourable terms because the Germans would never accept inflation. I can’t remember how this was done but they were the only country who had these terms.

  8. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    When the time comes I do hope we have measured, calm heads like yourself negotiating for us rather than the shrill defensive voices who have given away our money and sovereignty.

    Negotiating is about understanding strengths and like Mrs Merkel brinkmanship. To date our representatives had not been able to follow these strategies.

  9. Duyfken
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Is it not distasteful and shaming for Britain to find itself in the position of needing to wheedle Merkel into allowing us to run our country? And, of all people a German! Apparently the only way we can get a little of what is sought, is by finding odd points of leverage such as by standing in to pull Germany’s chestnuts from the fire.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Your comments today are all well and good John, but useless unless the leader of our Government uses our position to our advantage.

    So far all UK Governments over the recent decades have proven to be simply useless at any form of negotiation, no matter who it is with.

    EU Negotiations
    New EU Regulations and Laws
    Human Rights
    PFI contracts
    Compensation deals for sacked Bankers
    Compensation deals for Government/Civil Service officials

    The list goes on.

    • Hope
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Nothing in return for the fiscal pact, £18 million of taxpayers’ money to promote, closer Union to the EU when Cameron claimed the opposite, no protection from the EAW any convicted criminal from any EU country can still wander in without passport controls or asking how long they are going to stay. Cameron did not allow a debate or proper vote in parliament despite saying he would. No bail outs eithe directly or indirectly and Cameron did the opposite. What more evidence do you want that Cameron’s words do not match his action?

      JR, your position seems sensible howeve tour leader is dead against it!

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink


      Almost forgot, the Scottish debacle was the latest example.

      I see in the press that Labour true to form, are suggesting that their proposed Mansion Tax for the South of England will pay for Scotland to have a 1000 more nurses in their so called NHS.

      Wonder how many english Patients they will accept up there in return for us looking after theirs on occasions when they do not have the facilities.

  11. Mark B
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I do not have time to frisk the whole of this article, but will like to make a correction.

    In London he speaks English, and in Brussels he talks European.

    And that can be said of all our PM’s, past, present and future.


    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      MarkB, I think it is harsh to include Margaret Thatcher in your condemnation of all PMs.

      I think that upon becoming PM she thought it a good thing that the UK had joined a free-trade area, and tried to play the game. As she became increasingly aware that we had in fact joined a political autocracy she liked it less and less, did what she could to correct the position, but was shafted by her party before she could put right the wrongs.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        I have great admiration and respect for the late Lady Thatcher. I even have her as my Avitar on Disqus. But I am no sycophant. Lady Thatcher campaigned for the UK to join the then EEC. She signed the Single European Act and, only when the then, Commission President Jacque Delors (sp), spoke at the TUC conference and revealed that the EEC was to follow a Socialist route, did she begin to see the light. And it was that that gave rise to her Bruges speech.

        But she remains to this day, the only PM to stick up for Britain and her interests. But there were, and are, arch-Europhiles in her party – the Old Tories. And they now hold sway.

        • Andy
          Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          With respect I think you need to judge with perspective. Many of us voted to remain in 1975, and most of us bitterly regret it. It is probably fair to say we were mislead and lied to. But the EU has gradually developed and changed to become far more Socialist. If I could vote again knowing what I now know it would be a resounding NO. And God forgive me for ever having voted to remain in this evil enterprise.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    JR: “Our worry is the whole Treaty architecture is now designed for the Euro area and not for us.”
    Of course it is – it was always intended to be. The “worry” is not shared by your leader or most of your party. Indeed Lord Heseltine recently told us that the UK would eventually join the Euro – at best a case of ‘if you can’t beat ’em join ’em’ but more likely the achievement of the long standing goal of him and the majority of your party for decades. Your leader, who you have assured us ad nauseam, is Eurosceptic has already told your colleagues that if they don’t join him in leading the campaign to stay in the EU they would have to resign from the government. Unlike you, he gives the very strong impression that the “British problem” will be fixed by a few modest changes to benefit rules.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      @Brian Tomkinson: Why should the treaty architecture be designed for “half members” and likely on their way out?

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Of course the intention of the EU is clear we must all be subservient to and governed by people we have no opportunity to elect.
        You are happy to be governed in that way but the majority of Britons are not.
        The sooner we leave this wretched organisation the better.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Well, according to the Guardian:

      “David Cameron is to be warned by the European commission that a central demand in his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership terms is likely to be rejected as unacceptable on the grounds that it risks infringing the founding principle of the EU on the free movement of people.

      As the prime minister prepares to explain his plans to curb EU migration to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in London on Wednesday, the commission is set to tell No 10 that it cannot demand EU citizens have a job offer before they travel to the UK.”

      Meanwhile, Merkel is making it clear internally that she is in favour of mass immigration into Germany, and not just from the rest of the EU.

  13. agricola
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    You cover well the nuances of where Germany and the UK might have common ground in relation to population shift from the poorer parts of Europe to where they might work or gain benefit. However this is only one topic in the saga of EU/UK relations. Sorting it out to everyone’s satisfaction, if at all possible, is only the tip of the iceberg.

    It does not address UK sovereignty, the diminution of the UK Parliament, The daily stream of law changes that emanate from Brussels, the European Arrest Warrant and it’s affect on the rights of UK citizens under UK law, The Common Agricultural Policy, the Fisheries Policy, the Democratic Deficit within the EU, the lack of financial control within the EU, to name but a few areas of contention between the British People and the EU juggernaut. I advisedly say the British People because those we pay to look after our interests , Parliament and the Civil Service, have been wantonly complicit in creating the situation so many of us take exception to. To be more direct, you have sold us down the river.

    There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that CMD with his undefined talk of re-negotiation can persuade those 27 components of the EU that all these problems need addressing, and what is more by mid 2017. He is either mentally deluded or being less than straight with us the people. Even before any offer, he is dictating to cabinet members how they should vote, ie :- with him and against the people.

    The conclusion is stark staring obvious, there will be no meaningful change in our relationship with the EU until we invoke Article 50. This can only happen if UKIP is in a position after May 2015, to exercise some control over how a rump conservative party might govern. No other political combination within the UK offers support to the British People in this area of politics for which I say shame on them.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      You are right:-

      “There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that CMD with his undefined talk of re-negotiation can persuade those 27 components of the EU that all these problems need addressing, and what is more by mid 2017. He is either mentally deluded or being less than straight with us the people. Even before any offer, he is dictating to cabinet members how they should vote, ie :- with him and against the people.”

      Cameron’s position is absurd, he is surely not mentally deluded. He surely knows the realities all too well. He probably also knows that renewable energy is rather pointless and AGW is a huge exaggeration too. But one assumes he thinks there are votes in marginals in it. I think he is deluded on that point.

      There are votes in cheap energy, jobs, less government, less EU and a sound economy.

  14. Douglas Carter
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    There’s something which fairly stinks over the recent feigned surprise and indignation over membership of the Single Currency of Greece. I hear that at least one senior German politician has concluded recently that ‘Greece lied to us’ [over achieving their convergence qualifications].

    It’s a shame we don’t have a senior politician in the UK who is willing to slap that down and very publically. It was known at the very time that Greece made its application that their ‘qualification’ had been falsified. (I know you’ve written of this in a far greater extend previously John, so there’s no need for me to go into particular detail). There is no surprise, was no surprise. In terms of a previous political controversy elsewhere, ‘The dogs in the street’ knew it. The only ‘surprise’ would be from figures who doggedly went out of their way to evade acknowledging the deception at that time – deception with the willing complicity of the entire edifice of the EU and senior national leaders at that time, including those in the UK.

    Indeed, few figures wish to remind the onlooker that Greek membership was seized upon with enthusiasm by pro-Euro campaigners in the UK for transient advantage. ‘Look’ …gloated the late Robin Cook… ‘Even GREECE have joined…!….’ …. using it as a stick with which to beat Gordon Brown and his self-interested, politically-motivated blockage of the referendum process. Tony Blair is to be summoned to answer questions with regard to PIRA OTRs shortly. Many pro-Euro figures of that earlier time have refused point blank to disclose their thinking over single currency membership and their part in the damage the project has created. Perhaps one day we might see some Politicians summoned to disclose exactly why they ignored the clear warnings?

    • Andy
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      I remember dining with a ‘senior Greek politican’ (no name, no pack drill) at the time and I told him to his face that I thought the figures were nothing but hog wash, and it was lunacy for Greece to join the Euro. He didn’t deny it. How could he ?

  15. Old Albion
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “The UK stayed out of the Euro. We did so because UK taxpayers do not wish to stand behind the Greek state, or Cypriot banks or any other country’s trade deficit”

    What nonsense John. We pour money into the EU daily. When Merkel and Co. demanded a further £1.7 billion, Cameron blustered and flustered, said he wouldn’t pay it………. and then paid it.
    So what happens to all the money we hand over to the EU?
    Be sure if it’s ‘needed’ to prop up a bank in Cyprus or anywhere, that’s exactly what will happen to it.
    There is only one resolution……………..OUT.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    In what sense, if any, is this anglo/german conversation about amending the EU rules by which we are governed an example of democracy in action? It seems far more like two leading autocrats scheming for an amended autocracy more to their liking.

    A referendum is not democracy.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      A referendum is democracy, direct rather than representative democracy; but it should be obvious to anyone who has paid critical attention to how referendums are conducted in this country that the same people who pervert representative democracy will also pervert direct democracy.

      We have only ever had two UK-wide referendums, that in 1975 on whether we should stay in the EEC and that in 2011 on whether to change from FPTP to AV for UK parliamentary elections, and both were a disgrace to democracy; and we have just had a referendum in Scotland which was also a disgrace; anybody who thinks that it would be possible to have a free and fair referendum on whether we should stay in the EU, during which truthful and relevant and rational arguments were put forward by both sides for the careful consideration of the citizens so that they could turn it all over in their minds and come their own mature decisions on which way to vote, is in my view living in a fantasy world.

      As far as the AV referendum is concerned, the part of the campaign which was actually about the comparative merits and demerits of FPTP and AV as electoral systems was almost entirely tosh, misleading and inaccurate rubbish put out by opponents which was not just uncritically repeated but embroidered by most of the mass media; while much of the campaign against AV was not even about AV, it was about how much we disliked Nick Clegg, and that was a quite deliberate strategy settled long before the referendum campaign started.

      Likewise I fully expect that if/when there is a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU or leave it then much of the campaign will not be about the relative advantages and disadvantages of EU membership, it will be about how much we dislike UKIP, and Nigel Farage, and even about a single obscure elderly ex-Tory, now UKIP, councillor who still holds what have become rather old-fashioned, and unfashionable, Christian views about homosexuality and the possibility of divine punishment for our sins – Cameron on the Andrew Marr show:

      “Well, they’ve clearly got some politicians in their party who have some extraordinary views, there’s no doubt about it, we see day after day, week after week, them having to expel people, er, because they’ve said, you know, appalling things about, er, different sorts of people and people who choose different lifestyles, you’ve got people who think that, you know, gay marriage caused floods.”

      That is how it would be, because that is how those who routinely manipulate our representative democracy will manipulate direct democracy as well.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Referenda are consultative rather than politically binding. A referendum such as the recent one in Scotland involved almost the entire electorate in that region of the UK and seems to have produced an outcome contrary to the result obtained. This would appear to prove that aggressive activism by a minority is always more effective in forcing change upon politicians than a ‘democratic’ plebiscite.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          The UK Parliament being sovereign, the supreme legal authority for the UK, in theory it could decide not to act upon the result of a referendum which it had ordered; and conceivably that could be the right thing to do, if there was a major change of circumstances after the referendum which had not been anticipated when it had been ordered, so that automatically going ahead and giving legal effect to the result would evidently be a bad mistake.

          In some other countries, such as Ireland, the supreme source of legal authority is the codified national constitution as interpreted by a supreme court, and not only does it become a constitutional requirement to put some proposals to a referendum but the result is binding on the government and parliament.

          However all these legal technicalities are bootless if politicians act in such a way that the referendum ceases to be a consultation about the question on the ballot paper but instead gets diverted into other questions, such as “How much do you now dislike Nick Clegg?” or “How much do you hate the Tory party?”, or “How much do you despise Nigel Farage and UKIP?”. Or even if it’s not diverted into matters of personality, but into other legitimate questions such as “Should we leave the EU?” when the question on the ballot paper is not actually about that, but about “Should we join the euro?”.

      • Hope
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Cameron seemed to forget the reports from last week about thre (questionable ed) views of the Tory deputy mayor and councillor from Ringwood? It was not reported that he had been sacked. Why not? He also seems to forget his recent minister who had to step down the are so many examples he needs to think before he speaks. Fortunately most right minded people do not believe a word he says and knows he insults his former supporters as closet racists and fruit cakes. etc ed

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          I find it quite extraordinary that in a TV interview the person who holds the office of Prime Minister should have chosen to highlight that particular chap, previously a Tory now UKIP, who still adheres to religious views which were commonplace just decades ago when the Church of England was sometimes described as “the Tory party at prayer”, views which are in part consistent with a special prayer still present in that church’s official Book of Common Prayer as well as relating to an issue which is still contentious within that church of which he claims to be a communicant. And moreover relatively innocuous religious views, even if they have now become unfashionable and are mainly confined to older people, and yet Cameron’s attitude is one of sneering intolerance; and to be clear it is specifically religious intolerance, etc ed

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted January 8, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        Denis, I am happy with your expansion of the truth I was pointing at with my five words.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I note the BBC news twitter account has simply been retweeting Andy Burnhams tweets, so that’s the quality of journalism we can expect for the election

  18. Bert Young
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The dominant position of Germany in the EU is where it wanted to be . Let Germany assume all the responsibilities – financial and otherwise of keeping it together . We are better off out of this mistaken Europe ; its demise is inevitable .

  19. bluedog
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    There was a mildly alarming article in the DT yesterday by a well-informed commentator who asserted that each of MacMillan, (he wisely ignored Baillie Vass) Wilson, Heath, Callaghan (no argument there), Major (no argument there), and Blair was inferior to their contemporary German chancellor. This comment was a surprise, and one would have thought that MacMillan would have had no trouble with Adenauer and that Wilson was more substantial than the rather vain Brandt. Helmut Schmidt in an article in the Guardian dated 23rd December may have been the trigger for these comments, but he did at least praise Heath.

    Which brings us to Merkel versus Cameron. Or is it really a partnership with both loyal to a higher good and only embarrassed by the nationalism of their electorates? In the case of Cameron that is undoubtedly the case. As Dr JR seems to suggest, the German goal is simply to Germanise the Euro, thus Merkel can be both a European and German, as Europe progressively becomes a German project. Once the British electorate realises that Germany is the undisputed master of both the EU and the Eurozone, all hell will break loose. The British electorate will not take orders from Germany. Any PM who has facilitated a situation where this is the case will hopefully be forced to resign, immediately.

    One fears that our commentator may soon be able to add another name to the list of inferior British leaders.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      “Once the British electorate realises that Germany is the undisputed master of both the EU and the Eurozone, all hell will break loose.”

      The answer to that is simple: if there is a serious risk that the British electorate would react strongly to some EU development, and that could translate into effective political action which the cross-party British political establishment would prefer to forestall, then they get the British mass media to avoid any mention of it so that hardly any of the British electorate know about it.

      Here is an Act passed by the British Parliament in 2012, with members of both Houses voting it through at its successive stages with little or no dissent:

      “European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Act 2012”

      Who knows about that Act? Or that it approved an EU treaty change demanded by Merkel in late 2010, which Cameron simply agreed to give her without even asking for, let alone getting, anything substantive in return? The EU treaty change that Merkel wanted to ward off potential problems with the German Constitutional Court over her scheme to establish a permanent eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, intended to replace the European Financial Stability Facility set up in June 2010, for which there was no legal basis in the EU treaties?

      None of this is secret, but hardly any British voters know about it because the mass media didn’t report it, and indeed suppressed comments about it.

      • bluedog
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the link, Denis Cooper. Presumably the judgement was made that if Merkel wished to switch from one form of support for the Eurozone to another, for internal German constitutional reasons, it was not a matter for the UK to obstruct. One would hope that British negotiators would remember to remind Merkel of our accommodation, should the need arise.

        The British position on the Euro is inevitably conflicted. In the first instance we have always recognised that the Euro was deeply flawed and doomed to fail. In the second instance we recognise that as the prosperity of Europe is important to both the British economy and the security of the UK, we don’t want the EMU to suffer a disorderly collapse that threatens British trade. It’s all a matter of timing and priorities. Having said that, it is well within the power of the UK, as a highly skilled and effective financial entity, to actually trigger the implosion of the EMU. It is probably in our interests to be on our best behaviour for some time longer.

  20. Bill
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I would like briefly to focus on Merkel’s early years. She was brought up in East Germany and her father was a Lutheran pastor. She understands, therefore, sinister government pressure to conform since the communist state was no friend of Lutheranism. Her background and training are in the sciences. I would see her, like Helmut Kohl, as believing the EU project has kept Europe safe from nationalism and fascism. For these reasons, too, she must surely understand that British belief in free trade, in the rule of law, in democracy and in fair play are valuable to the EU and ought not to be jettisoned.

  21. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    The UK is not Eurosceptic. The majority of people are too busy working like dogs to give a toss. If asked they look up from their work and repeat the mantra all the dogs have been taught – ‘we’ll all lose our jobs if we leave the EU and, then, we wouldn’t be able to work like dogs …. hold on …’

  22. BobE
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I want my own country to make its own laws.
    I want my own country to control its own boarders.
    I want my country to control immigration.
    I do not want to give our sovereignty to a bunch of un-elected European clerks.

    • lojolondon
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      That is called a Domocracy. It worked in the UK for nearly 1000 years, until the EU.

      • lojolondon
        Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        – Democracy –

        • petermartin2001
          Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

          UK democracy is much younger than 1000 years. Women weren’t allowed the vote until the 1920’s. Less than 100 years ago.
          Before that, in the 19th century, there was the Chartist movement for universal suffrage which was gradually extended to adult male voters during the course of the 19th century.
          11 people died and 400 were wounded in Manchester in 1819 when the cavalry charged a large meeting calling for increased democracy.
          Democracy was only obtained after a fight and it shouldn’t be given away to unelected EU commissioners without another fight.

          • libertarian
            Posted January 8, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink


            I agree up to a point and that is that we still don’t have democracy. We won’t have it until we are allowed a direct vote for a prime minister and government. At the moment the govt is chosen by the monarch and the second chamber is appointed by the govt. That is NOT democracy

            Reply The government is chosen by the people, as they vote to decide the composition of the Commons, and the Queen has to deal with the PM the Commons chooses.

          • libertarian
            Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

            Reply to Reply

            “The government is chosen by the people, as they vote to decide the composition of the Commons, and the Queen has to deal with the PM the Commons chooses”

            You think this is democracy? The Commons chooses the PM? Really? Actually the small memberships of the parties choose a leader, who chooses who stands in each constituency. We get a vote on a first past the post choice of a person parachuted in to represent our area, an area arbitrarily designed to have a uniform number of people in it. Do me a favour.

            If you want to know why people hate politics, politicians and parties its because of this dogs breakfast.

            Why not just let the whole country vote for who should be PM ?

            Reply Individual parties choose candidates, but independents also stand and you can join a party to help choose their candidate. Democracy does require some effort by the voters as well!

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Bob – I agree wholeheartedly.

      They should be given their own skate park.

    Posted January 6, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    We do think of Germany as being a free nation in the sense that the UK is free. In point, we in the UK are independent and free but in relative terms. We have allies and trade relationships which govern the nature of our independence and freedom. Better to say we have Liberty.

    Does Germany have freedom and independence? No. It is still subject to laws laid down after the Second World War by the Allies ( including the then USSR ).

    A small example brings it home: the democratically elected city council of Dresden needed to ask permission years ago to build a bridge across their river Elbe. They needed to ask America. Permission was denied. They still ask permission and it is continually denied.

    I believe the Council in Dresden is politically acceptable. Curiously though, the PEGIDA
    movement has chosen that city to stage mass anti-Islamic demonstrations.

    So, just how much freedom, how much elbow room has Germany in realpolitik actually got? How much does the UK, USA and yes Russia relate to Germany as a legitimate country?

    In truth Germany has accepted Guest Workers in massive numbers due to a need to expand its economy but one cannot help but think she has also been bullied into such a domestic policy behind the scenes by her wartime enemies who fear her united re-emergence.

    The bottom line is: is it in Germany’s and our own interest to have the EU with its free movement of labour policies and the concentration of power and economics rest with the richest of the so-called “Community”? Are we seeing in Dresden a repeat of history but inflation-free?

  24. petermartin2001
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    “The Uk is more Eurosceptic than Germany” ?

    Shouldn’t that be EU-osceptic? It’s quite possible to be pro-Europe and anti-EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      Indeed as most sensible people are.

  25. lojolondon
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Merkel is completely two-faced, as all PM’s in Europe must be – if they spoke Brussels at home they would be voted out, if they spoke their home language in Brussels they would be removed from power, like Italy, Greece, Austria, etc.
    She has NO respect for the German citizens who are protesting becoming an Islam state, she has come out strongly against them. Fortunately, after the next elections we expect her coalition to collapse and I hope she is out of office.
    Yes, she does want the UK in the EU, as the second-biggest contributor to the EU and one of the smallest beneficiaries, we help Germany pay the bills.
    One good thing – she consistently refuses to countenance any re-negotiation, for the UK or any country. When the Greeks exit the EU and their economy stages a stunning recovery, that will make Italy, perhaps Spain and certainly some elements in France consider the option. That is all good for the UK, we need to be out as soon as possible.

  26. Atlas
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    A question for all you German watchers: Is it in the old East Germany where unease at immigrants is the highest? And if so, is this a fall-out from the Soviet ‘re-population’ exercises, after the Second World War?

    If we don’t understand where the positions people take are coming from, then we will search in vain for solutions in Europe (and the Ukraine) that will last.

  27. Max Dunbar
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    If Germany were to withdraw from the Euro then the currency would collapse would it not? If that is true, then Germany is, de facto, leader of the currency and responsible for it at present.
    Even if Greece left the currency union it would still, surely, require to be propped up or face civil war and this means that Germany would have to foot the bill for the Greeks no matter what, or risk being called nasty names by them. No doubt the UK would also be asked to stump up for the Greeks although we are not in the Euro. Being out of the Euro has not proved to be a Get Out of Jail Free card for us has it?

    • forthurst
      Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      “If Germany were to withdraw from the Euro then the currency would collapse would it not?”

      The Euro would devalue and the Deutschemark revalue against dollar/sterling; probably other strong N. European ecomomies would also join the Dm or revert to their own currencies; the Euro would be renamed the ClubMedmark and the Germans would be back to bagging loungers round Greek swimming pools.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, the idea that the best solution to the problems of the eurozone would be for Germany to leave has always been barmy, without Germany the rest of the
      eurozone would disintegrate. Maybe the Benelux countries would keep a common currency, less likely Spain and Portugal might decide to keep a joint Iberian currency, but as for the rest there would be little sense in eg Ireland and Slovenia sharing a currency if they weren’t both sharing it with Germany.

  28. David Edwards
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that the Euro as it stands creates an unstable equilibrium whereby countries that perform better than the average are disproportionately rewarded and those that do worse are conversely penalized. This predicted outcome seems to be demonstrated by the facts over recent years. Any economic system ought sensibly to function as a self correcting stable equilibrium and I don’t how this could be achieved unless Germany and others fund the likes of Greece and Portugal. As there appears to be no popular willingness to cross funding whether under federalization or otherwise I don’t see that the Euro will be a success. As for the UK, all the PM seems to be arguing for could be achieved without treaty change, possibly by amendments to 2004/38/EU and I can’t see that Germany or anyone else will object strongly to changes to a directive (3 months, 6 months, a few benefits, who really cares!). Whether or not the UK people will accept this rather inadequate fudge remains to be seen – I suspect not!

  29. rick hamilton
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    The history of the Continent has been of various power-mad dictators trying to create a European empire. After appalling wars got them nowhere they decided to do it voluntarily. Despite its current problems there are the makings of a union which will be, in the long run and despite its many faults, better for continentals than what went before. Nearly all of them except possibly Sweden have had their constitutions revoked or rewritten in the 20th century as a result of invasions, occupations, military coups or dictatorships and to them the EU represents stability.

    The UK has had none of that. Our democracy may be a mess, but it is our own mess and it more or less works, for us. It has emerged from hundreds of years of trial and error and we have long experience of sorting out our own problems in our own way. Not to mention bequeathing our values to more than 50 countries in the Commonwealth. So why did we lose our self-confidence and why did we need ‘Ever Closer Union’ at all ? Membership of a trading block, harmonisation of technical standards, co-operation are all to the good. But the UK has never wanted or needed a political union, especially when those who make the laws cannot be identified or removed through the ballot box.

    The EU is a deliberately anti-democratic construct for the benefit of political and bureaucratic elites. Their massive failure to be honest with the British people has only recently become an issue with the electorate and the moment of truth is – perhaps – coming at last.

  30. ian
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    The establishment and the government are having trouble manageing the British empire downfall which has been going on for over a hundred years now. It should be coming to a end in the next few years. The rest of the worlds empires went the same way. You can tell when you are near the end because your country fill up with people from overseas as the people of your the country leave. The usa has started it own empire downfall in the year 1990. That”s why there no plans, they have the plans at the start but no plan for the end, The end is desperation, despair and recklessness and it end up every one for there selves The policies look like they are made for a other place as they try to keep in front of the downfall with not much luck. They have one thing in common, hope for the best. It can be done but the people up the top are already in the every one for there selves mood. As the politician try to keep up with the jones with no money like trains to leeds at 250 mph at a cost of 70 billion pounds you can see they have no intelligence and the other thing is they will not do anything if another country is not doing it already. You can not follow other country because they are not dealing with the fall of a empire. You need new thinking new ideas.

  31. ian
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The establishment and the government have no capacity to think for the country or the people of the country only for there selfs.

  32. ian wragg
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I agree that Angela is clever but she is also German which means she has a dogmatic streak which is not always in the wider interest.
    She is facing demonstrations in Germany about the Islamification of the country and the problems with Roma in some cities. Rather than attend the problems she would rather follow CMD’s example and call the demonstrators names.
    She is determined to Germanise Europe (words left out ed). She would like all countries to stick to theme park status whilst Germany buys up all the industry and technology. etc ed.

  33. ian
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Germany started it empire building in the fifties and sixty after the last attempt fail but on the way now with the eurozone. China started in 1990 as the usa started to go the otherway. We can not follow country that are empire building or country that think like that. there is not another country in the world that is manageing the downfall of empire, only the usa but you can not tell them that. So we are on are own. If we do not think for are selfs then we are finnished. We have to go are own way. Signing papers with empire builders and doing what they do is a big mistake. We have to think small not big and bring in a new tax system and HVG system and lot else which no else is doing. It”s no good sitting around hoping. Politician have no idea they just follow empire builders and what ever they suggest which is no good for us. Politician are people we could do without because they are out of date for were we are in the downfall anyway they are more interested in dinner and talk with empire builds than to do anything for the country or the people. No brain needed as they get done over time and time again with there diplomacy BS. which leaves us in nowhere land and still going down.

  34. DaveM
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    OT – the BBC have really gone to town on A&E waiting times today. They did mention that England was better than Wales and Scotland but neglected to reiterate that those NHSs were run by devolved govts. Funny old thing.

  35. ian
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Thinking that the housing market can do something for you is a mug game also more taxes and the stock market and finance are all dead ends, you need innovation away from these thing because they are old hat everybody at it and making a right mess of it.

  36. Jon
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    The Corporation of London estimates that the financial services sector in their district delivers 16.4% of UK tax revenues in 2013. Excluded from that is the significant service industry for it and many other global industries there. As we know teh EU wants to rage war on that and remove it from the UK.

    I am concerned that any new deal offered will just be about immigration. We can’t afford our NHS etc without our financial services. It’s not a vote winner, financial services, but it pays the bills. That’s what I’ll be looking for in any deal and if it’s not there, protection, then it’s a no go for me. I don’t know the £ cost of immigration but it would be a tiny fraction of our financial services. I feel the debate in this area is far too weighted on immigration and we could sell our prosperity away for it.

  37. David Edwards
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that the Euro as it stands creates an unstable equilibrium whereby countries that perform better than the average are disproportionately rewarded and those that do worse are conversely penalized. This predicted outcome seems to be demonstrated by the facts over recent years. Any economic systyem ought sensibly to function as a self correcting stable equilibrium and I don’t how this could be achieved unless Germany and others fund the likes of Greece and Portugal. As there appears to be no popular willingness to cross funding whether under federalization or otherwise I don’t see that the Euro will be a success. As for the UK, all the PM seems to be arguing for could be achieved without treaty change, possibly by amendments to 2004/38/EU and I can’t see that Germany or anyone else will object strongly to changes to a directive (3 months, 6 months, a few benefits, who really cares!). Whether or not the UK people will accept this rather inadequate fudge remains to be seen – I suspect not!

  38. Terry
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    How can we trust our Mr Cameron to do the right thing for England when he agrees with the unfettered free movement of people within the EU? This is how terrorists can easily infiltrate Paris (or London) via Greece, Italy or Bulgaria or Romania or Poland, et al. This is why there a are a thousand illegals sitting in Calais waiting to hide aboard a lorry or an unsuspecting British traveller returning home in his camper van to come her to ‘the promised land’. World Wars were fought to prevent such invasions so the dead all died in vain.

    Until the respective Nations within the EU have totally control over their own borders, there will be no respite.
    Make no mistake, this Nation destroying, repugnant policy puts ALL the EU under threat of permanent attack. It creates vulnerability to the extreme.

    Sadly, Mr Cameron does not see this. Therefore he is unfit to protect the citizens of this country and he must step down. We want our country back.

  • 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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