Cheer up, Eurosceptics

For years some Eurosceptics have written to me and others complaining that there is no referendum on staying in the EU. They argued that the Conservatives could not win a General election, and argued that if they did they would rat on the promise. Well, they were wrong on both counts.

Now they are writing to say Mr Cameron cannot negotiate a decent new relationship, or allege he is not trying to. I do not accept these criticisms either, but were they true surely that just makes it a whole lot easier to win the referendum to come out of the EU.

What Eurosceptics need to do is to cheer up. Tomorrow can be better than today. Life outside the current treaties can be a whole lot better than within them. Restoring the sovereignty of the UK voters, and returning powers to Parliament to exercise on their behalf, is a democratic process that people of all parties and of none can buy into.

If we paid less into the EU we could spend more on the things we prefer, and cut our borrowings. If we were free to make our own trade agreements with the faster growing parts of the world we could expand our exports more rapidly. If we did not have to impose all the rules and costs on our trade with the rest of the world and here at home, we could be better off. If we were back in charge of our affairs we could decide how many migrants to welcome, and who should receive benefits.

Causes are advanced and votes won by being optimistic, positive, and by reaching out to people who disagree with you. Fighting old battles over ideological purity do not advance the general cause of a more prosperous, more democratic UK.


  1. Old Albion
    May 28, 2015

    I hope and wish we get free and honest vote based on genuine worthwhile renegotiation.
    But I don’t believe will we.

    Reply We each get a free and honest vote – use it wisely – and help win for the cause you believe in

    1. JoeSoap
      May 28, 2015

      Free and honest, I think not.

      Why not pose the question as 2 options – do you prefer to be part of the EU or part of EFTA?

      To make one option positive and the other negative sways the result, as does allowing Irish citizens to say whether they’d like to be able to sign our cheques for us, made out to them.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 28, 2015

        Indeed a very clear bias to the question from the off. People simply prefer to say YES rather than NO as has been shown statistically many times – perhaps as much as a 5% bias.

      2. Jerry
        May 28, 2015

        @JoeSoap; “Free and honest, I think not.”

        Nonsense, unless of course you will be having someone looking over your shoulder as you mark your ballot-paper, I for on be will not!

        “Why not pose the question as 2 options – do you prefer to be part of the EU or part of EFTA?”

        That is in effect leaving the EU though, that question might indeed need to be asked of any “Article 50” negotiations with regards our future relationship with the EU post a Brexit should the currently proposed referendum result in a decision to leave.

        There would actually need to be three options, if not four or five (I’m not suggesting this as the order of choice, it’s just to list them here!…);

        1/. Accept the renegotiated terms
        2/. Reject the renegotiated terms but stay a member on current terms.
        3/. Reject the renegotiated terms, stay a member, whilst increasing our participation in the EU’s single European dream, such as Schengen and the Euro.
        4/. Reject old and new terms and reduce our membership to that of EDTA/EEA, thus to some extent a partial Brexit.
        5/. Reject old and new terms and quite the EU entirely,not even reducing our membership to that of EDTA/EEA, a total Brexit.

        Confusing enough to those who follow EU politics, probably totally baffling to the average pleb!

        Reply The issue will rightly be a simple choice – In or Out.

        1. Jerry
          May 28, 2015

          Sorry, I mean EFTA, not EDTA! Fat fingers on a small keyboard 😮

  2. Brian Taylor
    May 28, 2015

    First well done Mr Redwood, brilliant speech in the house after the Queens Speech.
    Now I will repeat again that in 1975 I voted to stay in The Common Market, with a young family and as a salesman on commission we just had Strikes,3 day weeks and power cuts, there seemed no alternative to joining The Common Market and very few voices saying otherwise.
    This referendum will be so much different, with Social Media we do not have to rely on the BBC or any others who take the EU money, we now have the power to get the views other than the left leaning media and knowledge is power.
    Whether The Prime Minister was surprised by his majority at the Election, but that will be as Nothing to his surprise at the referendum result if Powers are not returned to us voters that return MPs to Westminster.
    I think, I hope I will be spared long enough to have this very important VOTE.
    Thank You.

  3. Lifelogic
    May 28, 2015

    It does seem quite clear that Cameron is not asking for much beyond a little tinkering with benefits and similar trivia. If not but if not why does he not tell us what he is actually seeking.

    The Tories scraped home in the election due to the hapless Miliband and above all the threat of the SNP wagging the Miliband dog. This despite their silly pro EU, high tax, green crap lefty approach – not thanks to it.

    It seems highly unlikely that something similar will prevent LibLabCon, the BBC, CBI, EU and the rest from pushing through a referendum for staying in. The government have already introduced a bias to the questions.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 28, 2015

      We have yet to see if Cameron will deliver a fair referendum. Already (if reports are right) the question has been sloped with a YES answer to remain in giving the in side an large advantage.

      But they still have not even confirmed the final question.

      Perhaps it should be, do you want the UK to be ruled by:
      A Representatives elected to Westminster with UK courts supreme, who can be removed by the electorate.
      B Unelected bureaucrats in Brussels with EU courts supreme who cannot be removed by the UK electorate.

      Reply That is a good partisan rewording of the question which you and others can use in the campaign.

      1. matthu
        May 28, 2015

        Reply to Reply:

        “which you and others can use in the campaign…”?

        Does that mean that this is not wording that you, John, would personally align yourself with?

      2. Bob
        May 28, 2015

        What (if any) measures are your govt intending apply to prevent undue influence by the BBC on the referendum?

        I hope you won’t be relying on the BBC Trust to do the job.

        We all know the sneaky way the BBC peppers it’s output with subliminal and not so subliminal messages, so some careful thought needs to be put into this.

        1. Mitchel
          May 28, 2015

          The BBC were at it again last night on the One Show where two ageing luvvies (Jacobi and Mckellan)were on to promote a comedy they star in but the first question asked of them (knowing full well what their answer would be) was how they would vote in the EU referendum.

          1. Tad Davison
            May 28, 2015

            The BBC were also at it again today when they conducted an interview with a young woman from the Society of Motor Manufacturers or some such organisation. We were told that the motor industry would collapse if the UK were to pull out of the EU, yet the BBC didn’t put anyone up to counter that nonsense.

            I’m due to take delivery of a car soon that is made in Belgium. I take it then by her reckoning, that the Belgians would no longer wish to sell me that car if we were no longer a member of the EU.

            That is the type of thing Mr Whittingdale needs to address – the BBC’s poor and shoddy biased journalism founded upon scaremongering and a pro-EU bias.


            Reply Yes it seems obligatory now for any business interviewee to be asked about the EU referendum, whatever the story they are meant to be doing, and they do seem to select mainly those who want to stay in an unreformed EU, who are not representative of business opinion as surveyed which says it wants the UK to negotiate a new deal – which must mean leaving open how you might vote in a subsequent referendum.

          2. Jerry
            May 29, 2015

            @Tad Davison; Care to name a fully UK owned motor manufacture, not just a “British Brand” (that has been resurrected from the dead), of those UK based manufacturing plants how many have parent companies from the EU, how many manufacture in the UK to take advantage of the single EU market? Who knows what the parent group might decide, I suspect that the motor industry understands their own business far better than most politicos never mined the average Mr Pleb. After all, we all must have noticed how easy it was for Nanjing and SAIC to uplift much of the old Longbridge production lines following the RG liquidation, leaving empty buildings behind (yes I know that some production was retained or has returned but my point is about how easy it is to move production).

            A unilateral Brexit might well cause the UK motor industry to collapse if their was no trade deal agreed, such as being a part of the EFTA.

            Oh and before having a pop at the BBC might I suggest that lop-sided interviews are rife across the UK media, in the press, radio, TV and web – Mr Whittingdale does indeed need to take a clean broom to the UK media industry regulation…

            Reply Nissan plant in the North East is the most productive in Europe. They will want to keep that! so will the others. ridiculous scares

          3. Jerry
            May 29, 2015

            @JR reply; Great, so that’s one plant safe, I could add another two plants that will almost certainly be safe, one because much of its production goes back the far east anyway, and the other is a prestige brand that won’t be affected by a Brexit, but that is a very small car industry indeed, probably not enough to keep the many supply side industries in the UK gainfully employed. Of course if Free Trade is agreed and maintained with the EU after a Brexit then the UK car will likely be safe, such is the importance of negotiations now and after the referendum but who knows what the future will actually bring In or Out of the EU, after all Ford said that their UK Transit Van factory was safe…

            Reply We seem to agree then that a factory is safe if it makes things people want to buy at a cost they will pay, whether we are in or out of the EU.

        2. Lifelogic
          May 28, 2015

          Indeed the bias of the BBC over the EU is almost as bad as their scientifically moronic position on the global warming catastrophe and renewable energy agenda or their big state magic money tree economics agenda.

          Without replacing nearly all the staff I cannot see that the position will change that is just how these right on BBC art graduates recruited from the Guernsey seem to “think”.

          1. Lifelogic
            May 28, 2015

            Talking of the Guardian I see they are reporting the drivel that:

            Private landlords gain £26.7bn from UK taxpayer, says campaign group.

            Perhaps they are too daft to understand that business expenses such are maintenance costs, insurance, interest, agents fees etc. are nearly always deducted in computing taxable profits. Without this few could afford to let anything or be in business at all. We tax profits not turnover usually and rightly so.

          2. Ted Monbiot
            May 29, 2015

            I agree Lifelogic, I saw that ridiculous report on the UK property rental market.
            Another recent report featured in the Independent used a similar method of accounting as well as adding unspecified pollution costs to “prove” fossil fuels are more expensive than renewables.
            Similar accounting methods and subsidies for renewables were not applied.
            Extraordinary propaganda from people calling themselves scientists.

        3. acorn
          May 28, 2015

          Referendum voters will be influenced by national daily newspapers, not television. We are the opposite of the USA. Instead of ranting about the BBC, you should be ranting at the print media buggers hacking your phone.

          Almost 78 per cent of our press is owned by a handful of mostly foreign-based billionaires; too often, far from protecting our democracy they subvert it. Remember Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson Inquiry? He said that if someone wanted to know his opinion on a subject they should just read the leader in the Sun.

          Over a quarter (27.3 per cent) of the press is owned by Lord Rothermere and 24.9 per cent by Rupert Murdoch – between them these two men have over 50 per cent of the printed press. Over three-quarters (77.8 per cent) of the press is owned by a handful of billionaires, most of these press barons, do not live in the UK, some have non-dom status.

          These are the elite who will decide the outcome of the referendum, just as they did in the recent general election.

          Reply The people have the power to decide,and newspapers will sturggle to divine and respon to public opinion

          1. Edward2
            May 29, 2015

            Its always someone else who has their opinions turned by newspapers never people like acorn who complain about them.
            There are, even now with the internet age, dozens of newspapers to choose from giving a range of politica bias.

            Maybe the biggest selling ones reflect the opinions of their readers rather than brainwash them.

        4. Jerry
          May 28, 2015

          @Bob; You should fear Ch4 (especially their 7pm weekday news) far more than your irrational hatred of the BBC…

      3. CdBrux
        May 28, 2015

        You could argue (though I doubt you personally would) that having the voting list being as the General Election, and not the Euro election is going to favour the ‘No’.

        I for one would rather focus on the benefits of In or Out, anything else smacks of sour grapes and grievences and simply drives most people away from either your point of view or from the vote altogether.

        1. Jerry
          May 29, 2015

          @CdBrux; “I for one would rather focus on the benefits of In or Out, anything else smacks of sour grapes and grievences and simply drives most people away from either your point of view or from the vote altogether.”

          Indeed, and that was the point I was trying to make to Denis Cooper the other day, unfortunately he either failed to grasp it or chose not to. I fear more damage to the “Brexit” camp from europhobes trying to use sour grapes (that will be seen as a weak argument) than from europhiles.

          1. Hope
            May 29, 2015

            Unfortunately for you Denis writes a better intellectual comment and is far more interesting than you.

          2. Denis Cooper
            May 29, 2015

            The difference between us, Jerry, is that I highly prize my British citizenship while you think nothing of any national citizenship and would allow the entire world to vote in our elections and run our country, except of course that you don’t even think of it as being “our” country.

          3. Jerry
            May 30, 2015

            @Hope; What you mean is that you prefer his opinions, probably because he includes somewhat partisan URLs to back them up.

            @Denis Cooper; As I’ve said before, I would prefer to be a citizen of the “Kingdom of Wessex”!…

  4. Matt
    May 28, 2015

    Hear, hear.

    It seems like some of our fellow Brexiters are complaining about potential defeat on this matter before the fight has even really got going.
    Let’s all work toward the “Out” vote we want. They key matters of fairness seem already to have been settled with at least the majority of non UK citizens rightly excluded from the vote. Campaigning on both sides is likely to be imperfect and less than 100% honest as it always is in politics. That doesn’t mean you boycott the process, it just means you work to get your views and the key truths across to the electorate.
    Either by the vote or possibly still the PM’s renegotiation, this is a once in a generation opportunity to take back our sovereignty and we need to grasp it with both hands.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 28, 2015

      Well all the taxpayers money will be on the stay in side. As will the BBC, Lib/Lab/Con/SNP/Greens/Plaid Cymru, CBI & most big businesses.

      Cameron seems to want virtually nothing from renegotiation other than a bit of benefit tinkering perhaps the trivial removal of the ever closer union wording. Still he is being vague and evasive to the point of total absurdity.

      It will be a very big hill to climb to get a NO.

      Being on the YES side to the question give this side perhaps a 5% advantage already – this as people generally prefer to be positive with a YES. A very clear bias from the off.

      1. matthu
        May 28, 2015

        It was a “No” to alternative voting…

      2. Jerry
        May 30, 2015

        @LL; “It will be a very big hill to climb to get a NO. “

        Of course it will be, as it always is for the alternate option (were there are known-unknowns and worse possible unknown-unknowns) to that of the status-quo, not impossible though – it just needs clear rational argument and debate.

  5. Stuart B
    May 28, 2015

    Forget Brexit – it’s too negative in tone. Let’s start talking BREFTA/BREEA. Get these memes into the discussion, and it will at least force the europhiles to attack a target which cannot help but reveal the true nature of our choices.
    We should also start talking about how to develop EFTA and the EEA to suit the UK’s trading aims, and act as a counterbalance and a finesse to the EU’s purely political intentions.
    Instead of banging our heads against the Maginot Line of the EU, let’s bypass those formidable defences and render them irrelevant – if we show some agility and imagination, we can provide a positive ambition around which people can exercise their enormous latent enthusiasm.
    When you are weaker than your opponents in numbers and firepower, it is a mistake to accept their terms of engagement – it is time to deploy wit, intelligence and imagination rather than brute force.

    1. Stuart B
      May 28, 2015

      Apologies, Dr R – I forgot to say that I support entirely what you have said above! You provide an intelligent and thoughtful framework of thought for (re-)shaping the debate to reflect the real issues.

    2. A different Simon
      May 28, 2015

      “it is time to deploy wit, intelligence and imagination rather than brute force.”

      Farage , and others , for all their admirable qualities are just not skilled enough politically and could lead us into a defeat along the lines of the Charge of the Light Brigade .

      Guile is needed . Our enemy will fight dirty .

      John , surely a responsible British leader should be pushing the mainland to go down the route of total political integration BEFORE the UK holds a referendum .

      Let’s see France and Germany show that they can become a single country .

      If they can do it then the true nature of the EU is apparent for all others to see . If they can’t then that is also a win for patriotic citizens across Europe and here .

      It seems that the British people are being asked to commit to political union before this issue has been resolved on the continent .

      1. DaveM
        May 29, 2015

        The Charge of the Light Brigade resulted in a victory .

        1. Jerry
          May 30, 2015

          DaveM; Well yes, perhaps, in the same way as both Dunkirk and Arnham resulted in a victory…

          1. DaveM
            May 31, 2015

            A “W” is a “W”, Jerry – win at all costs and at any cost.

          2. Jerry
            June 1, 2015

            @DaveM; That is the most illogical comment relating to warfare I think I have ever read!

  6. Stuart B
    May 28, 2015

    Apologies for apparently trying to monopolise this stream – why don’t you allow writers to edit their comments? – but here’s another one.


    – sounds better than Ever Closer Union to me; carve it in stone! If we offered a free trade area which enshrined this principle, wouldn’t that be enormously attractive to the actual populations of many other nations?
    No-one sensibly takes a leap into the dark, but we can encourage people to run towards the light. The answer to bureaucratic inevitabilism is wit, enthusiasm and light-footedness.

    1. Jerry
      May 29, 2015

      @Stuart B; I really am not sure if that was a Eurosceptic or Europhile comment, it can be read either way, indeed the EU could use “EVER GREATER SOVEREIGNTY” instead of Ever Closer Union, except that it will be ever greater sovereignty for the pan-European eurocrats that each EU member nation state…

      1. Stuart B
        May 30, 2015

        Apologies, you’re right – I had thought again and Guaranteed Sovereignty sounds better to me now – also Goldilocks State (see one of my other comments) – which gives G2S2.
        I am wholly EUsceptic, but that just seems too negative a label, so I am trying to find positive tags that could propagate through a referendum campaign. The franchise is, I am convinced, desperate to find some alternative future vision they can believe in, and throw their weight behind.

  7. agricola
    May 28, 2015

    Not bad John, but I still like the earlier version.

    Once more unto the breach dear friends,
    once more; or close the wall up with our
    English dead!
    In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
    as modest stillness and humility.
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    then imitate the action of the tiger;
    stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
    disguise fair nature with hard- favoured
    rage, then lend the eye a terrible aspect.

    I still have a question mark in my mind as to the real substance of this re-negotiation, DC’s continued Europhile stance without explanation, and his determination to return sovereignty to our land. I will show patience till the pot is boiled, but reserve the right to keep an eye on it.

  8. DaveM
    May 28, 2015

    I’m not pessimistic.

    1. The PM has clearly received the message about the EU and is going about his much vaunted renegotiation.

    2. The EU will either give him what he wants or they won’t. Most likely they won’t.

    3. The OUT campaign needs to convey the message you’ve written above.

    4. We will have a referendum through which I think the UK electorate will vote to leave the EU.

    Now can someone sort out the UK constitution and stop dilly-dallying around?

    May 28, 2015

    The Bank of England has made its position clear twice in the the last 12 months in that it believes, in almost these words, “The richer parts of Europe should move their wealth to the poorer parts” A united Fiscal Union is recommended by the Bank of England. Perhaps this kind of arrangement is what the Cree and Blackfoot and other First Nation peoples have been fighting for in Canada for a while now.Well it is their land after all. But the Bank of England must learn this, the UK, is, our, land. The news should cheer them up.

  10. Ian wragg
    May 28, 2015

    All well and good John but no one will tell us what is being negotiated
    There is no mention of repatriation of powers or reduction in fees. I read what the Polish minister said about not disadvantaging his citizens. This could mean changing the benefits system to disadvantage Britons rather than changing any EU law.
    How will we know if the deal is any good if we don’t know the terms of reference.
    I fear we will be voting on the status quo sold as a magnificent deal.

    Reply We should know at the June Council more of what is being asked and what might be given. To all those who simply want to leave none of this matters – they can just get on with explaining how we would be better off out.

    1. David Price
      May 28, 2015

      I believe we should leave because our governments have been rubbish at defending our interests within the EU. At least outside of the EU there is the force of international law to hinder the pilaging done by the EU and no acquis communautaire to bludgeon all attempts. But ability to negotiate outside is important so what Cameron and his team does or does not negotiate is a good test.

      I agree the better off out brigade need to be promoting that position effectively, simple explanation is not enough (it didn’t work in 1975)

      1. Hope
        May 28, 2015

        No, all MPs who had any hand, including voting or otherwise, in using deceit to place the country in the position it is today, need to explain why we should remain in when this was not the premise on which people voted in 1975. No more signing treaties behind doors. Like Gordon Brown did with Lisbon Or eye EU constitution. No more lies. A fair referendum based on fact. No one gave any MP the right to give away our sovereinty to foreign powers and expect us to pay for it! Nor have we been asked whether we wish citizens from other countries accepted into the EU to have free access to all our public services or have the right to live here without proper immigration process that we expect from all other citizens from countries around the world. Why should we allow people from the EU, convicted of serious crime, to live here without proper monitoring?

        On a separate note, why did the Tory party not sack or withdraw the whip from Andrew Mitchell MP for his conduct in the plebgate row which was found against him? Was his conduct not a breach of the minister’s code? He seems to be getting an unusual amount of air time at the moment. I understood from reports in the papers the modernisers were trying to get rid of the nasty image within the party? Also what was the outcome of the Tory investigation of Cameron hosting dinners at No.10 for donors during the last parliament?

  11. Peter van Leeuwen
    May 28, 2015

    A vote against 450 million fellow Europeans and the institutions they have built is by definition a negative vote and may need some pep-talk to achieve. Even worse when afterwards the realisation comes that so many problems were home-grown. However a positive “yes”vote will also be possible when it will be shown that most fellow Europeans are open to many reform ideas by Cameron. He may even do some things in national legislation (immigration) and sell them as renegotiation victories.

    P.S. Only now, I find out that Abu Qatada actually flew back to Jordan voluntarily, without any need to deport him! Home office incompetence in not seeking a treaty with Jordan earlier?

    1. David Price
      May 28, 2015

      It is not a vote against Europeans, it is a vote to free ourselves from the undemocratic and technocratic EU, which is not the same thing at all.

      History shows that the words and promises of the EU politicians are worth precisely nothing and this spirit of EU solidarity and fraternity simply doesn’t exist, unless you are French or German that is.

      Or do you claim that France and Germany, at least, have not ruthlessly protected and advanced their own interests to the cost of other EU members – seiously?

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        May 28, 2015

        @David Price: I might call the EU “distant” and technocratic, not “undemocratic”. I forgot to mention that the British helped build these institutions, and maybe now to reform them. All countries have protected their own interests, including the UK. etc ed

        1. David Price
          May 29, 2015

          Actually the British did not build these institutions, we were expressly and specifically kept out by the de Gaulle veto until they had set up the supranational structure. The whole point of Monnets project was for there to be no democracy only technocracy – otherwise why can’t the only directed elected element, the EP, create legislation?

    2. DaveM
      May 28, 2015


      We wouldn’t be voting against 450 million Europeans. We quite like you really, in spite of your persistent ability to beat us at football and your diabolical taste in pop music.

      We’d be voting aginst the EU politburo.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        May 28, 2015

        @DaveM: 🙂 🙂 We also still like the Beatles
        I hope that objective (non-tabloid) information will be provided to you during the next year or so and maybe you will recognise that the EU is not like the USSR politburo.

        1. DaveM
          May 28, 2015

          To PvL: golly, I hope so too. After all, it’s not as if I’ve been to 56 countries, fought in 4 conflicts, have more foreign and Scottish/Welsh/Irish friends than English ones, and speak 3 foreign languages. And have a degree or two. My mind is totally shaped and warped by the tabloid press!

    3. Denis Cooper
      May 28, 2015

      “A vote against 450 million fellow Europeans and the institutions they have built” – you’re out by two or three orders of magnitude there, as I doubt that even 4.5 million individuals have ever been directly involved in the construction of this monstrosity, in total over the entire period from its inception, and conceivably the total could be as low as 450,000.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        May 28, 2015

        @Denis Cooper: A bit of poetic exaggeration? On the other hand, you (UK) are also helping in the construction efforts, poetically speaking that is another 60+ million 🙂
        Institutions related to the single market must have been partly driven by British politicians and bureaucrats.
        Do you really want to throw it away?

        1. Denis Cooper
          May 29, 2015

          Please do not try to associate me with people who campaigned for us to stay in the EEC on the stated basis that we would always have a national veto, and then afterwards pressed for the wholesale abolition of national vetoes for the sake of the “Single Market”.

    4. Alan jutson
      May 28, 2015


      So the EU has 450 million people, who will still want our goods, because they will want to sell us theirs.

      How many in the rest of the World ?

  12. David Price
    May 28, 2015

    You are preaching to the converted John. The issue is convincing the undecided, don’t cares and pro-EU of the right course and without concerted action the brexit camp will lose to Camerons snake oil and shepherding.

    I’ve been reading “The Great Deception” by messrs Nooker and North. Their perspective on the EU and the actions of British prime ministers and those who should be defendng and promoting our interests has me by turns angry and depressed. When they are not being walked over by French politicians who act like the world owes France everything they are giving away everything of value for nothing.

    For a long time I questioned whether I was right to vote NO in 1975, events made me feel I did the right thing but what this book describes makes me certain I did. I’ll not regret voting for out this time regardless of what Cameron does or doesn’t arrange in collusion with his EU colleagues.

    Camerons handling of Scotland and willingness to turn on his supporters is a clear signal of his lack of negotiating prowess. He has signalled his desire to stay in the EU, his opponents in the EU will milk that and there will be a lot of well funded and well connected pro-EU support just like there was in 1975.

    1. David Price
      May 28, 2015

      apologies, that should read – “The Great Deception” by messrs Booker and North.

  13. Denis Cooper
    May 28, 2015

    “For years some Eurosceptics have written to me and others complaining that there is no referendum on staying in the EU.”

    Personally I have never complained to you or anyone else that there was no referendum on staying in the EU, knowing only too well what happened in 1975 and doubting that those of us who wanted to leave the EU were yet anywhere strong enough to win a fight with the battlefield sloping so steeply against us. On the contrary, I repeatedly warned that it would be one thing to win a referendum on a proposed change such as adopting the euro or accepting the Lisbon Treaty, but a very different thing, far more difficult, to win an “in-out” referendum, and it would be a strategic mistake to either seek such a referendum or even seek to portray a referendum on a change as being “tantamount” to an “in-out” referendum, as UKIP has done in the past. There is a good reason why both the eurofanatic LibDems and then Labour decided to re-interpret the “referendum lock” law as meaning that any referendum which was triggered by a proposed change should be an “in-out” referendum rather a referendum just on the proposed change.

    However if I had been inclined to seek an “in-out” referendum I would certainly have wanted it to be a referendum on LEAVING the EU, not on STAYING IN the EU.

    As we are in the EU and staying in the EU is the default position, and the question to be decided is whether we should make a break from that and leave the EU, why should the question on the ballot paper not be a simple and straightforward:

    “Do you think that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union?”

    I won’t suggest that the word “think” be replaced by “agree”, as clearly the government position will not be that we should leave; but that question would be fairer than asking people whether they think that we should stay in, which gives the government a double advantage – firstly its preferred answer would be “Yes”, and there is generally a small bias towards “Yes” rather than “No”, and secondly “Yes” would ostensibly be a vote to maintain the status quo, and there is generally a bias towards the status quo.

    Reply How then would you get us out of the EU if we are not allowed an In/Out referendum? Yours is a counsel of despair. Of course holding a referendum is a risk, as if there is no sensible reform on offer and we lose, the UK voters have then endorsed all the past treaties many of us find unacceptable. However, as democrats all we can ask is the opportunity to put our case and persuade others. Please unite and fight, don’t carp from the sidelines, as you have knowledge and analysis to offer this debate.

    1. Denis Cooper
      May 29, 2015

      Not a counsel of despair but wise counsel, JR, counsel similar to the counsel that Fabius gave to the Romans after they had been smashed in three pitched battles against Hannibal – don’t fight another pitched battle, wear him down:

  14. Alan Wheatley
    May 28, 2015

    I have long thought that the only way to win a referendum to come out of the EU (the “No” vote as we now know it to be) was to promote the positive case as to how much better it would be having regained our independence and democracy. That is the case with which to reach out to those who disagree, and the best way to persuade them to vote No.

    Optimism is something else, for there are so many illogical and vested interests for staying in the EU. Perhaps one case for optimism is that the Yes camp continually push the negative case of how bad things would become should we leave, where as the No camp can push the positive case of the alternative vision of the UK’s future. When that becomes the main terms of the popular debate my optimism will rise.

    The Alternative has to be defined and presented in its own terms and not simply be perceived as “not in the EU”.

  15. Iain Moore
    May 28, 2015

    To call us Eurosceptics or EUsceptics is to play to the rules of the game defined by the EUfanatics, as something against their project and all the wonderful baubles gifted to us by the generous mother Brussels, rather than being for something else.

    Those of us who are seeking something better than the stagnating backward looking Brussels project need to give ourselves our own label , rather than to be known by a label stuck on us by those we oppose.

    I would suggest the Liberty movement, but may others have a better idea. But one thing is certain we need to get smart about language.

    1. Hefner
      May 28, 2015

      Oh come one, calling yourselves the Liberty movement is as s…..d as Sarkozy in France renaming his party the Republicans. As if among the British, those who would want to go on with the EU were anti-Liberty. There are a few people on this blog who talk of the EU as a gulag-type institution. I would argue these are just words as these few people are taken by their own “rhetoric” and don’t have any idea of what the USSR or the Pre-90s Eastern countries were like.

  16. Kenneth
    May 28, 2015

    It’s a pity that those who will want us to leave the eu will be saddled with the ‘No’ label, if reports are correct.

    Who decides these things?

    1. bigneil
      May 28, 2015

      I see the confusion is being spread already. I have seen both Yes and No put forward as the choice of leaving. As the deliberate confusion will continue with govt and EU backing, and as “everything will be fair”, the words should be clear and simple – no confusion with Yes or No – -use “Stay in the EU” – or – “Leave the EU”.
      The confusion could actually work against your party john – and nobody would want that would they.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 28, 2015

      The people in power. That is always the problem with government. The people in power can cheat and distort the rules to their benefit. Particularly where there is no formal constitution.

      You only get referendums on their terms, at a time of their choosing, with their question, their choice of electorate, their rules and their decisions on funding rules for both sides.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 28, 2015

        And if the voters get it wrong they will probably be asked to try again – after they have found a few more fig leafs down the sofa.

    3. Bob
      May 28, 2015


      “Who decides these things?”

      Angela Merkel.

    4. Denis Cooper
      May 28, 2015

      MPs, like our host!

      The government Bill for the EU referendum is here:

      and its Section 1(4) lays down that:

      “The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is –

      “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?””

      For comparison the previous Wharton Private Members’ Bill is here:

      and its Section 1(4) said:

      “The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is –

      “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?”

      There should be at least an attempt to get the referendum question proposed by the government reversed to:

      “Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union?””

      There a quite a lot of other differences between the two Bills, one good one being that the new Bill no longer gives the Lords the opportunity to effectively veto the referendum taking place, which was a notable flaw in the previous Bill. However like the old Bill the new Bill does not specify what would actually happen in the event that we voted to leave the EU.

  17. fedupsoutherner
    May 28, 2015

    After the failure of Cameron to even mention how he was going to deal with the fallacy of climate change in the Queens speech I have no faith in any negotiations Cameron is involved in. With so much bias being continually fed to the public through the BBC the odds are on that we will be staying in and looking forward to a very bleak future. Briefly mentioned in the news this morning was the fact that many Eastern Europeans are now making ‘homes’ along our canals and rivers. So how many of the new houses we are intending to build will go to homeless Europeans at the expense of our own people? It is us that are paying for this. These are the things that need to be brought to the attention of the people and the question how can Britain keep supporting the numbers coming into the country every year?

    1. Lifelogic
      May 28, 2015

      I think and hope Cameron is going to deal with the “fallacy of climate change” by quietly cutting all the greencrap grants to nothing. He would look even more stupid than he does if he did a huge U turn on the husky hugging nonsense. Cutting all the grants and quietly ignoring the climate change act is some way is what is needed. The Tories, having dug this absurd hole for themselves must slowly climb out of it.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        May 28, 2015

        Lifelogic, I sincerely hope you are right and that it doesn’t take years to implement. The SNP will not hold back and Scotland will take a bashing if this madness is allowed to continue. It is bad enough here now without every wind farm project ending up in Scotland. With no subsidies being paid in England developers will all come to Scotland and the UK will not benefit at all because the bill for this garbage is still to be paid by us all.

      2. Lifelogic
        May 28, 2015

        Alas they are digging yet another with HS2.

  18. Ex-expat Colin
    May 28, 2015

    I think skeptics largely cannot understand why we/they have to pay the EU vast sums to exist. Its simply another level of governance that could be conducted at a much lower cost…if at all?

    Most of us recognise/experience how a successful business is run and largely measure the performance of organisations based on that. In that context the EU is not recognised as much successful at all. Its wayward, wasteful and unaccountable.

    We are all close neighbours and don’t need a huge committee of representatives that easily trample over our local arrangements. Federal fanatics…is a worry.

    It only works if you directly and greatly benefit from it…largely as an individual.

    Like FIFA I hope its not going to take decades to close this organisation down.

  19. Kenneth
    May 28, 2015

    I think that a grass roots movement is vital in order support the eu-sceptics. There are quite a few organisations based around politicians/parties and think tanks but none that I know of that have the capacity to take on volunteers for door to door canvassing and organising local events. UKIP could do this, but this would box the campaign into one party, thus alienating non-UKIP eu sceptics.

    I would suggest that like-minded eu sceptics form a cross party group (cross-party is vital) that is charged with the job of recruiting local volunteers to build up a grass roots movement.

    It would also be vital that, in order to maintain a broad church, the main campaign themes centre around those issues that trouble both Left and Right, the main one being loss of democracy.

    An elitist campaign will have limited success. Parochial campaigns within political parties will also have limited appeal. What we need to do is gather ordinary people into a broad movement.

    Who would lead this movement? It would surely need to be someone outside of politics, perhaps a celebrity. Whoever it is, it needs to be someone with broad appeal.

    1. majorfrustration
      May 28, 2015

      Agree with you. There needs to be somebody to head up the “out of EU” camp – pressing the plus points rather than the negatives. Ideally somebody with gravitas and not one of the usual suspect Politicians. Its a full time job for somebody who already has the respect of the public.

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    May 28, 2015

    Those of us who wish to leave the EU, regardless of so-called renegotiations, know full well that “Tomorrow can be better than today. Life outside the current treaties can be a whole lot better than within them. ” The Prime Minister clearly doesn’t think so and is determined to keep us in. It is reported that his cabinet will not be allowed to demur from his view.
    As the campaigns begin it is important to recognise the type and scale of the opposition. It is no use assuming that the government and its supporters will not use all the propaganda weapons in their armoury to get their way.
    As yet, we do not know what is to be renegotiated. It seems implausible to me that the Prime Minister will come back and say he hasn’t achieved what was required and recommend leaving the EU. Just as Wilson did in 1975 he will claim not total success but enough to recommend staying in. Just as in 1975, I expect the government campaign to be fought on the economic issues and fear (rather like the last general election). Economics has never been the true purpose of the EU but it was long recognised that trying to persuade people to give up democratic self-governace was a tough sell.
    It will be important to ensure that democracy and parliamentary sovereignty are not sidelined as they were so successfully and deceitfully in 1975.
    There is an optimistic future for the UK as an independent, self-governing and global trading country. If that is how the country votes, against the recommendation of the government, then there will have to be a general election.
    Are you prepared for that?

  21. Atlas
    May 28, 2015

    Well put John.

    Certainly the spin potential of the wording is important. Just look at how the Greens paint people who do not agree with the Greens outlook on the Climate – they call them negative, ie ‘No’. So the EU referendum question is slanted at the moment for those who wish to deny us a brighter future outside the EU.

  22. Ken Moore
    May 28, 2015

    While Cameron is busily tinkering to allow opt outs on sone benefit entitlement, who is going to outline the trade only relationship we so badly need before the vote?.

  23. Peter Stroud
    May 28, 2015

    Thanks for your excellent speech yesterday. One of the best.

    I’m sure David Cameron is aware, we will all be watching him – very carefully.

  24. Vanessa
    May 28, 2015

    The main issue (which Churchill and other MPs addressed in June 1950) was “supranationalism”. This was “the power of the Coal & Steel Community (the origin of the EU today) to tell Great Britain not to cut any more coal or make any more steel, but to grow tomatoes instead”. And to that, Churchill declared he would say, “without hesitation, ‘No'”.

    There is our choice, between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. This is the same choice that was on offer in 1950 when the right decision was made but which was tragically reversed in 1972 when the Conservative Government took us into the EEC.

    Crucially, surpranationalism is the defining characteristic of the EU, and the one which is so objectionable, ensuring that it is anti-democratic. You cannot reform it in any meaningful way – take away its supranational character and it ceases to be the EU – it becomes something else.

    On that basis, there are only two options when we are asked whether we want to remain in a (supranational) EU. No amount of tinkering around the margins will make the EU less of a supranational organisation, and therefore reform is an irrelevance. To vote “no” is to reject supranationalism – to vote “yes” is to accept it, with or without “reform”. There is not and cannot be a middle way. (Taken from EUReferendum dot com)

    With Cameron campaigning for “IN” I don’t think he realises the real issue of that set out above and without a real knowledge of the European Union, all the “fluff” we hear from businesses and politicians, denies the real problem we have with the EU.

    1. sjb
      May 28, 2015

      Churchill also said in June 1950 that in certain circumstances the Conservative Party would accept “abrogation of national sovereignty”[1] in respect of what became the Iron & Steel Community, pointing out that the UK had already done so when it joined another supranational authority (UN) a few years earlier.


  25. Anoneumouse
    May 28, 2015

    So, all we need now is a list of the things he is going to renegotiate before he even embarks on his mission. How else can we see whether he has archived his goal. Rumor has it he just bought a GANNEX rain coat.

    1. bigneil
      May 28, 2015

      Thanks for the laugh. I read it twice thinking you had made a spelling mistake, then realised what you meant. I think he will do exactly what he wants – for HIM.

  26. Bill
    May 28, 2015

    Agree 🙂

    Hope is a tonic.

  27. Stuart B
    May 28, 2015

    We simply must re-establish the fundamental social good of Sovereignty, and we must use Goldilocks to assert, plainly and at high volume, the Nation State (our Nation State!) as its only really desirable embodiment, the only workable balance between power and accountability.
    Goldilocks? Regions like Scotland are too small – they can embody democratic accountability very effectively, as we have seen. However, they are too small and insignificant to end up as anything but municipalities within a larger, more powerful entity. Hence their rational leanings towards the EU as a political governor. So – Too Cold!
    Supra-national conglomerates (obviously the EU, but others too) possess enormous power, but the lines of accountability inevitably become stretched, attenuated and finally fail altogether – these entities become empires. Too Hot!
    It is a combination of size and historical cultural continuity which permit a Nation State to thrive. If people understood that better, and how it applies to our own UK, then we could then proceed to make that link to the IN/OUT vote, and make a rational choice.
    There is time to lay these foundations for a principled and wise vote, if we address the unspoken sub-text of the coming europhile campaign, rather than being gulled into following the ‘surface structure’ of their fear-mongering.

  28. Denis Cooper
    May 28, 2015

    Why do you think I should be cheerful, JR, when I see that step by step the government is giving itself small but significant advantages which cumulatively will make it much easier for it to win this referendum?

    Firstly thanks to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act the Prime Minister no longer has the advantage over his opponents of knowing when the next general election will take place long before they do, but he does still have that advantage for this referendum. He could decide to have it as early as May 5th 2016 to coincide with elections which will be held almost entirely in parts of the UK which tend to be somewhat more favourable towards the EU, and in particular allow the SNP do the work for him in Scotland.

    Secondly he will know day by day how his supposed renegotiations are proceeding, and he may share that information with supporters while withholding it from opponents, who will therefore have less time to analyse his claims and disabuse the electorate of the illusion that he has achieved great improvements.

    Thirdly he has made a show of significant concessions towards fairness by deciding to exclude those who are EU citizens but not British citizens from voting in the referendum, and to also exclude children from voting, but quietly at the same time by settling on the franchise for general elections he is retaining the support of most of the Irish citizens resident in the UK, despite the fact that our reciprocal electoral arrangements with the Republic do not extend to allowing UK citizens to vote in any Irish referendum. As far as Commonwealth citizens are concerned I’m unsure how they will divide, if they vote at all, but I’m pretty sure that the Irish citizens will think about protecting the position of their homeland as well as their own personal positions in this country, and so Cameron will be able to count on most of their votes coming his way.

    Fourthly he is proposing a referendum question which will give him the benefit of two fairly universal human biases working together – a bias towards answering “Yes” to a question rather than “No”, and a bias towards maintaining what is seen as the status quo rather than risking potentially harmful change.

    And this is only the start.

    Reply Instead of moaning, help win over enough people to vote No. This is as good as it gets, and a whole lot better than a Labour government denying us a referendum and signing us up to more EU centralising measures.

    1. Denis Cooper
      May 28, 2015

      Even if I had suitable literature to distribute to the general public I would hesitate to do that so soon after a general election when many people have had their fill of political bumph. On the other hand, JR, you and your “eurosceptic” colleagues could immediately start to draft amendments to the Bill to address the third and fourth of my legitimate complaints. None have been tabled so far.

    2. Tad Davison
      May 28, 2015

      Reply to reply:

      I’m hoping that’s the reason Labour lost. People are rightly sick of the EU and finally saw through the party that gave us so much uncontrolled immigration and gave away so much of our sovereignty. That goes for the Lib Dems too, although it didn’t seem to apply North of the border where a very pro-EU party virtually swept the board. Perhaps this is the SNP’s zenith, and the only way now is downwards.


  29. Shieldsman
    May 28, 2015

    I agree Mr Redwood we have every reason to look on the bright side, however the question is posed I am sure the Public will know the difference between IN and OUT, whether it is posed as a YES or NO.
    No doubt Clegg and Alexanders scare story of 3 million jobs at risk will rise again.
    International business leaders find many tax advantages from EU membership in where they site their headquarters. The British taxpayer Public loses out.
    The disadvantages of EU membership are many and must be stated in the run up to the referendum.
    Tony Blair gave away part of our rebate in CAP negotiations. Justine Greening, the Treasury Minister, said in a written reply to a parliamentary question: “Thereafter, with the abatement disapplication fully phased in, the cost to the UK is expected to be around £2 billion per annum.”
    David Nuttall, the Tory MP whose question was answered by Ms Greening said: “These figures reveal how Labour gave away over £11 billion for nothing in return.
    Then last October we had UK told to pay £1.7bn extra to European Union budget. Followed by George Osborne saying ” We have halved the bill, delayed the bill and will pay no interest on the bill”.
    But his version of the deal was challenged by other EU finance ministers, who said Britain would still up paying the full £1.7billion.
    Further financial regulations by Brussels could disadvantage the City of London financial houses.
    I have just read the thousands of responses to today’s Daily Mail, they are almost entirely for leaving the EU, they will vote for OUT.

    1. bigneil
      May 28, 2015

      I am always confused by the “3m jobs lost” term. Does it mean that 3m jobs have been created by being part of the EU? and depend entirely on being part of the EU – or does it mean that the 3m is the amount of cash-in-hand, pay-no-tax but claim all the benefits and be no contribution to the UK at all, don’t-know-if-they’re-illegally-here-or-not, car washers ?

  30. Bert Young
    May 28, 2015

    I am in good spirits and have not lost my humour ; I remain eurosceptic . As I read it , all is down to the outcome of the negotiations Cameron is having . I wish they were being conducted by someone who will not ultimately campaign to stay “in” and by someone whose record of “promises” was reliable .

    Of course all members of the EU rely heavily on the financial contribution we make and it will be severely constrained without it ; every effort will be made to keep us in . However successful we may be , I will still not trust the result as long as there is some sort of a layer on top of our independence .

    We have taken far to long to come to this point and there is now an ingrained mistrust of everything emerging from Brussels . The laundry is very dirty and many washes are needed to make everything clean again .

  31. stred
    May 28, 2015

    The campaign has already started, with much input from big business and the BBC. You will need to monitor the bias and use any means to point out the constant lies, bias and motivation.

    For instance, the Head of the CBI said they wished to stay in the EU ion order to have a say on regulation. It should be made known that big business uses this regulation to keep out newcomers by making compliance very expensive. If a local UK market was accessible with reduced regulation, it would give small firms a chance to get going before having to comply with very expensive EU certification and testing.

    Meanwhile the BBC seems to have abandoned their charter for even handed reporting altogether. The news today showed Cameron in a meeting with other EU leaders, as a background to his travels asking for favours. The Ukranian president was there in the front next to the French. Last week BBC North R4 helped their remit to the EU by producing a documentary on the Ukranians who had been forced to leave their homeland after the Russians invaded and made their lives impossible. They found old and young Ukranians in the North and Scotland, who remembered the threat to their lives during and after WW2 and the corruption afterwards. One said she could not believe it when she heard that Russia had invaded Crimea. But then the game may have been given away when they visited the prisoner of war camp in Scotland where these heroes had been staying after the war. Presumably, they were there because they had been taken prisoner by the allies, because they had been fighting for the Nazis and enthusiastically trying to make things unpleasant for millions of Russians and Jews. These soldiers could not go home after the war for obvious reasons. As to the fact that Crimea was Russian until given to Ukraine when part of the USSR by Kruschev, who was Ukrainian, or the matter of a referendum with a 95% majority, because almost everyone there is Russian, this was somehow left out of the picture.

    The bias is becoming so blatant that someone should raise a legal challenge in order to force them to observe their charter.

    1. DaveM
      May 28, 2015

      “For instance, the Head of the CBI said they wished to stay in the EU in order to have a say on regulation”

      Excellent!! A surefire way to turn swathes of traditional Labour supporters towards the OUT camp.

  32. Paul
    May 28, 2015

    If we are to win this referendum we must make the positive case for Out and not the negative case for In. Instead of complaining about all the crippling rules, regulations and restrictions from Brussels, we need to focus on the positive alternatives were we to be free from it. Let’s not bang on about uncontrolled immigration putting pressure on schools, public services and communities, but let’s spend our time saying how much it could benefit the UK being free to pick and choose highly skilled migrants from Spain, India, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.

    1. JoeSoap
      May 28, 2015

      Indeed, but you will be fed with all the negatives by politicians, the BBC etc.

      The day I see the Swiss Ambassador on prime time TV extolling the virtues of EFTA, and being given equivalent time to the Euro fanatics, will be the day I might think about this differently. Instead the words EFTA hardly pass a politician’s lips!

      Cameron’s job was to marginalise the “fruitcakes”, do a deal with the EU appeasing most Liblabcon voters, and call it a day.

    2. Denis Cooper
      May 28, 2015

      We can have those highly skilled immigrants anyway while we’re in the EU, but in among all the others who we’re not free to exclude while we’re in the EU.

  33. Antisthenes
    May 28, 2015

    As a euro-sceptic my preference is for a free trade area not a political union and if the renegotiations achieve that I will vote to stay in. Of course that will not be achieved because then the EU will no longer be able to be called the EU but will be for all intents and purposes be named a European Free Trade Association(EFTA), which already exists.

    So the answer to the EU question can only be solved by having an EU that comprises of countries that are in the Euro-zone as one block and the rest who are not but have trade ties. Similar to the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). Think of the US as the EU and Canada and Mexico as the rest of Europe outside the euro then EFTA is the obvious solution. Nothing stopping EFTA members outside the euro from joining the EU at any time that member believes it is in their interest to do so. A considerable advantage of this arrangement is that non EU members regain their sovereignty and the EU has to become a nation that has democratic, political, economic, social etc structures that makes it attractive enough for others to want to join it.

  34. They work for Us?
    May 28, 2015

    Good stuff JR., thank you.
    The fear is that Cameron aims to try to obtain what is “achievable” in concessions from the EU based on a baseline that we want stay in.
    The baseline of the so called Eurosceptics is “why would we wish to belong and be involved in anything other than on a basis of Trade and friendly cooperation”. The EU has form on integration by other means via the chancers ratchet.
    Campaigning on these two baselines must be free and fair with the Supremacy of Parliament and the UK Courts being paramount.
    Mischievously on Human Rights let us have an English Bill of HR, foreign criminals could live with their families in Scotland in a judicial system more favoured to their right to family life.

  35. majorfrustration
    May 28, 2015

    Sounds good to me but what does Cameron not buy into this argument?

  36. The Prangwizard
    May 28, 2015

    I agree with Mr Redwood, we are getting a referendum, we should be positive and do what we can to persuade those who haven’t so far given the matter much thought, those who are doubtful or afraid and may be inclined to vote to stay because that seems the easy option, that when we are out we will be free. Free to make our own futures, free to engage with the rest of the world without the EU monster and its apologists and promoters here dominating our lives and telling us how to think and act.

    Take courage, it is the free peoples of the world who are the happiest and the most prosperous.

  37. Shieldsman
    May 28, 2015

    An observation on the those people that have chosen to comment here and in the Press.
    The Consensus is that Cameron cannot achieve any meaningful change to the Lisbon Treaty. France, Germany and the other member states will not change the treaty.
    In adopting this opinion they further accept that the only course of action is to leave the EU and will vote for out regardless.

  38. lojolondon
    May 28, 2015

    John, a very sensible and wise argument. I have never, ever wanted to be part of the EU. The main problems are the dilution of our democracy, the enormous cost of the EU, the multitude of ridiculous, petty, politically correct laws that seek to manage every aspect of business and personal life, and the anti-British bias that underlines every interaction.
    If we could re-impose the law that British parliament is subject to no-one except voters, reduce our ‘membership to millions instead of Billions (fixed), re-establish trading with the commonwealth and our fishing grounds, ensure British defence remained independent of European (specifically French) defence forces, that would be a reasonable start. On the other hand, why not just leave, and treat the EU as just another country to deal with – far simpler and cleaner.
    Make no mistake, John, we are delighted to be offered a referendum, 25 years too late, but better late than never!

  39. botogol
    May 28, 2015

    a fair question would eschew ‘yes’ and ‘no’ altogether and instead offer the choice of ‘In’ or ‘Out’

  40. a-tracy
    May 28, 2015

    I don’t know which way I’d vote today in or out of the EU.

    My husband didn’t hesitate OUT – No thanks. His reason:
    The burden of legislation is too onerous, averaging prejudices the UK, one size doesn’t fit all. how do you compare an economy with 4m people with one with 64m people.

    I know what I hear that I don’t like:
    Merkel and Holland meet to try to push forward legislation to have unified corporation tax rates, who put those two in charge? What other taxes are currently harmonised and set by the EU?
    Merkel and Holland meet Putin to discuss the Ukraine, again who nominated those two as spokespersons for the EU? Does Germany even contribute the same amount into military defence as France and the UK if not why aren’t they asked to contribute more?
    We don’t hear about harmonising things that are much worse for the UK e.g. retirement ages before you can get your state pension. I’m curious about what state retirement weekly rates are compared to 37.5 hours on each countries national minimum wage.

    I hated the Scottish referendum, the divide and difference whipped up by the SNP in Scotland was appalling to me, I was shouted at in my face whilst strolling along the main street shopping “vote Yes get rid of the f’ing English Tories”. The No thanks won the day with a majority of 55% yet the Scots still didn’t see that as decisive. Is this what our EU referendum is going to look like to Europeans? Just more bitterness, division, anger, instead I want to hear, short, succinct what is good and why and what is bad and why. All done with inclusive language and what we don’t agree with and why we can’t just stay and accept such a big list of ‘things’ we don’t stand for in the UK.

    Its a shame there isn’t a blog where we can go with one topic per day, with a maximum number of words per post to debate in reasonable terms the ins and outs of each topic.

    My first question would be, lets say the UK votes OUT what happens to the Europeans working, training, integrated and settled here?

  41. ChrisS
    May 28, 2015

    Our Foreign Secretary was very clear on the Today programme this morning, stating that a satisfactory settlement will definitely require treaty change.

    As the French and Germans have just agreed to pursue Ever Closer Union without treaty change, they will never agree to it just for the benefit of the UK. Effectively that means that the renegotiation process is as good as dead.

    NB : A fudge in the form of a promise to make Treaty changes at some point in the future will not be acceptable.

  42. A different Simon
    May 28, 2015

    If an OUT vote is secured , I really hope the EUphiles decide to vote with their feet .

    Failing that the treason laws could be reinstated and the penalties too .

  43. agricola
    May 28, 2015

    For factual evidence can I suggest that you all read http://www.thebrugesgroup/EFTAorEUQ&As It is dated 2013, is comprehensive and informative. Page 19 gives an easy to understand comparative table on five possible options, of which the easiest and most advantageous is EFTA/EEA. This is why I have been advocating such a route for our future relationship with the EU. In simple terms we end up with undisturbed trade with the EU and our sovereignty back in the hands of our people and Parliament, plus the freedom to trade with whoever we wish in the World.

    I would appreciate our hosts analysis of the above.

  44. Stuart B
    May 28, 2015

    Positively, briefly:

    Out means (see my above):

    @GGS [Guaranteed Goldilocks Sovereignty, a Right-sized Nation, not too big, not too small]

    It also means a chance, at last, to revive and extend our culture, find out what it means to be British in the 21st century. Instead of constantly bemoaning its passing..

  45. Tad Davison
    May 28, 2015

    I’ll reserve judgement until I see where the negotiations are going. We’ve seen far too many false dawns. Wilson’s renegotiations were an absolute travesty, and Mr Cameron has form when it comes to wriggling out of things, or dressing up defeats as some kind of victory.

    Good to see you get a fair shout on the BBC this lunchtime though. John Whittingdale’s appointment as Culture Secretary must have put the wind up them.


  46. Gary
    May 28, 2015

    govt must be hoping that the referendum result is to stay in the eu. Otherwise they will find themselves having to explain, without the EU scapegoat, how the massive govt debt under the Tories came about, why immigration has become a deluge, and why exports and productivity continue to fall.

  47. Denis Cooper
    May 28, 2015

    I see that according to the Telegraph Philip Hammond has said that there will have to be changes to the EU treaties:

    “The Prime Minister’s made clear that some of the demands that we are making will require treaty change to make them irreversible and substantive and make them proof against challenge in the European courts. Many other parts of the agenda will not require treaty change, but some of them will.”


    “Stop obsessing about institutional structures and ideas like ever closer union which, frankly, look like yesterday’s agenda in an increasingly competitive global economy where Europe has to fight to protect the standards of living of our people.”

    Well, given that the “idea” of “ever closer union” is enshrined in the treaties, having been accepted by all of the EU member state governments, including the UK government, and approved by all of their national parliaments, including the UK Parliament, clearly that “idea”, or more correctly “fundamental objective”, cannot now be ditched by any of them while staying in the EU unless the EU treaties are changed to give that legal effect; and if the UK alone was allowed another “opt-out” protocol on that, saying that the UK was no longer bound to support the process of “ever closer union” just as it is not bound to adopt the euro, then it is still hard to see how the UK could not be affected when the other member states continued with that process among themselves.

  48. margaret brandreth-j
    May 28, 2015

    What example can you give of ideological purity?

  49. margaret brandreth-j
    May 28, 2015

    P.S I hope this speech of yesterday was video’d .

    1. David Price
      May 29, 2015

      I haven’t looked for a video, a transcript is available here –

      from 4:3pm onwards.

      It’s a good speech.

  50. fedupsoutherner
    May 28, 2015

    How about asking the following?
    Do you believe that the UK has the right, and the ability, to govern itself as an independent, democratic nation?

    Do you believe that our laws should be made by politicians that we have elected (and can dismiss), rather than by unaccountable foreign institutions?

    Do you believe that Britain should control its borders, so that we can decide on how many immigrants we should admit, and what qualifications they should have? Do you agree that immigration policy should not discriminate on grounds of nationality (as it does at the moment)?

    Do you think that we should be free to remove from the UK foreign nationals who are here illegally, or who have committed serious offences, or are implicated in terrorism?

    Do you think that we pay too much for energy? Are you concerned that swathes of manufacturing industry are closing plants and moving investment and jobs off-shore because of high UK/EU energy prices? Are you worried about the risks to security of supply as a result of current energy policies and plant closures?

    Do you agree that the City of London with its vital financial services sector should be regulated within the UK, and not subject (for example) to the utterly destructive EU proposals for a Financial Transactions Tax?

    Are you concerned that the EU’s Working Time Directive is creating mayhem in the NHS, driving up costs and preventing comprehensive training of junior doctors? And that the Directive is doing similar damage across a range of industries including haulage and hospitality?

    Do you agree that British farmers would be better off with a farm support mechanism designed for them in Britain, rather than a farm support mechanism designed in Brussels for French farmers?

    Do you agree that we in Britain should be able to control our fisheries in internationally recognised UK waters, rather than regarding these fisheries as a “common EU resource” open to Spanish and other boats?

    Are you aware that widely accepted estimates for the total costs of Britain’s EU membership amount to an eye-watering 10 to 11% of GDP?

    Did you know that it’s possible to trade with the EU without being a member, and that the three largest exporters to the EU (Russia, China, the USA) have no preferential trade deals with the EU at all? Are you aware that on leaving the EU, Britain will certainly have a free trade arrangement with the EU and that UK/EU trade (and the jobs dependent on it) will continue?

    Just some of the questions we should be asking ourselves.

  51. turbo terrier
    May 28, 2015

    Very good entry John.

    A lot of people do not really understand about the EU. One cannot expect anything else given the input in the discussions from the good old Beeb. Everything about it is good and wonderful!!!!!!!!!! Nothing to fear.

    Hopefully if Greece goes down then maybe the British public will get some open and honest reporting as the cracks start to appear, as they surely will.

    Trouble is that the EU has a habit of changing its stance once it has its own way.

    The French and the Germans are in a cosy little huddle about applying extra taxes to the UK if reports in the papers are to be believed.

    The EU is a little bit like a FIFA only the chosen few really knowing what is going on and what they are trying to achieve at the expense of all of us.

    One only has to drive any distance in this country and take notice of all the BMWs, Audi, VW and Mercs that are on our roads and that does not include the Mini. It is a good game to play with the kids to keep them amused. At one stage on the M6 I was totally surrounded by German cars.

    Further proof that as with a lot of EU policies they do tend to be all one way. Their way.

    If we leave and please God we do, I cannot see the Germans wanting to punish us too hard because they would leave themselves open to bigger import duties and the same goes for all the other vehicle importers.

    Our industries could open up new markets and prosper no doubt about it.

  52. waramess
    May 28, 2015

    Yup, you are right, we got it badly wrong as the spectre of Sturgeon and Milliband clearly spooked the electorate and UKIPers came scuttling back to the rescue.

    Let’s hope Cameron learns from the lessons of John Major who had a similar surprise when Kinnock proved to be his greatest asset.

    Doing the same thing a second time is not axiomatic and he will need something else next time to win a second term with a majority. Can’t always depend on Labour to come up trumps.

    I would suggest that the EU referendum might prove to be either his making or his undoing and, as “a man of the people” should he attempt to subvert the agenda to his own wishes rather than that of the electorate he may pay a very heavy price.

    As PM he should encourage a good informed debate between the in’s and the out’s without taking sides. Should he side with either the in’s or the out’s he will find that win or lose, a large proportion of those on the side he choses would never vote for him anyway and he risks angering those on the other side who might feel “robbed”.

    Having got this far he might as well allow the electorate to vote on substantive issues rather than allow the likes of Ken Clarke to go around muttering that we would be potty to leave the EU without actually having to enunciate good reasons why.

    No point having a referendum if there is a hidden agenda to direct the outcome and he might even find being a statesman in these circumstances is a role he quite enjoys

  53. bluedog
    May 28, 2015

    The French are clearly in a state of panic and share J-C Juncker’s view of an Anglo-Saxon plot to destroy the EU. Not a bad idea, as it happens.

    The EU was France’s solution to the problems faced in 1815, 1871, 1916 and 1940 when the dreaded Boche proved unstoppable. A nuclear armed France in a close economic and political embrace with the Boche could feel slightly more secure and possibly able to manipulate events to its advantage. Since the reunion of Germany in 1989 it has been all downhill and the old insecurities have re-emerged.

    The prospect of Brexit means that the perfidious Rosbifs will no longer be available to counter German power within the EU, leaving Marianne naked and defenceless. What to do? Write off les Rosbif as worse than useless, and grip the Boche in a loving embrace so that they think La France is their only true friend in the world.

    You can read them like a book.

  54. Ken Moore
    May 28, 2015

    I was reflecting today upon Dr Redwood’s call for cheer and optimism in the sceptic camp when I read Daniel Hannan’s article which echo’s much of the views here.

    ‘It’s not that the EU won’t repatriate significant powers to Britain. It’s that Britain (David Cameron) won’t ask’. What hope is there when the man in charge doesn’t want to make significant changes ?.

    Here we are – a golden opportunity to get back real power yet all we will get is tinkering with benefit entitlement that will be torn up a few years down the road.

    Sorry for the link

    Reply You are making another negative comment. Mr Cameron has not spelt out his demands yet – he is still seeing what the other states think, which is sensible. If he does not get enough then vote for out. To help him get more campaign positively now forOut – the EU will take us much more seriously if it looks as if the UK voters are about to leave. Being positive about Out is a win win at the moment.

    1. ChrisS
      May 29, 2015

      Reply To Reply :

      We here care about the sovereignty issue but I wonder how many of the electorate have really thought about that and the ridiculously large net contribution we are forced to make ?

      The most important concern to the people of England remains net migration and the PM needs his negotiation to deal firmly with the 50% of it that comes from within the EU.

      Everybody knows that for purely practical reasons we simply cannot continue with net migration running at 250-300,000pa because of all of the problems of space, housing and infrastructure it is causing. These problems are getting worse every year.

      Cameron hasn’t even shown us a credible plan to reduce to “fives of thousands” the 50% of migrants that come to the UK from outside the EU which he could easily deal with now that he isn’t hamstrung by the Libdems.

      Without an end to free movement, he can’t possibly reduce to “fives of thousands” the other 50% that come from within the EU.

      When I see these two migration issues being addressed I will support the PM in his efforts but it seems to me that all we are getting at the moment is grandstanding and a token effort that fails to even address the most fundamental problem this country faces.

      If I am wrong in this assessment please tell me but I don’t think I am.

    2. Ken Moore
      May 29, 2015

      Thanks Dr Redwood.

      I could say there is much to be negative about – we are talking about a man here with previous form when it comes to spin and manipulation around the Eu.

      I am gloriously and fanatically positive about an Out vote that would lead to the trade only relationship with the Eu that we desperately need. But your own leader is a major obstacle to that goal only giving ground when UKIP and others have held his feet firmly to the fire.

      I remember the surprise demand for 1.7Bn euro..then Cameron’s ludicrous claim that he had ‘halved the bill’ because the rebate (which was never in doubt) reduced the bill by precisely this amount. If someone is dishonest, or presents ‘strawmen’ to knock down it seems fair to treat their actions with suspicion and to echo the contempt to which the paying public are being shown.

      David Cameron’s position is look here is a very bad thing..but this is a slightly less bad thing so I have made a great deal.

  55. Ken Moore
    May 28, 2015

    We are being taken for fools by Mr Cameron.

    He is asking for things that he knows full well he will be able to deliver as they don’t even require the Eu commissions consent!. It’s like going into a tennis match without an opponent and then declaring yourself the winner.

    The trouble is he will then use this hollow and contrived victory to hoodwink gullible voters into voting to stay in..slamming the door shut on the Eu prison in which we are forced to live.

    As well as remaining optimistic, It is hoped that genuinely Conservative Mp’s like Dr Redwood are hammering on Cameron’s door daily demanding that he behaves in a decent and honourable way.

    Reply Mr Cameron stayed in the chamber to hear my speech on Wednesday, which set out quite clearly why we need to restore UK democratic control. (see posting above)

    1. Ken Moore
      May 29, 2015

      It was a very good and powerful speech I thought adding a much needed dose of reality to the ‘austerity debate’. The one good point from the opposition was about the number of well paid jobs declining – the coalition has been unable to halt the dash to a low skill/low wage economy.

      Mr Cameron is perhaps mindful of the need to devise a strategy that will allow him to make the right noises to both appease influential Mps like John Redwood demanding real change and enable him to remain in a political EU club.

      Reply Adding more low paid jobs so fewer people are out of work is good news, not bad news – we then need to go on to help those people improve their skills, get promoted, find better paid jobs.

  56. petermartin2001
    May 28, 2015

    I’ve probably made this point before, but it does bear repeating: There’s a much better chance of success both in the negotiations and in the subsequent referendum campaign if the eurosceptic case isn’t seen just as a minority right wing issue.

    Notwithstanding recent concerns raised over their accuracy, the EU powers-that-be are going to be closely monitoring the UK opinion polls . If it looks like the final result will be close they’ll offer more in the negotiations. If it looks like they’ll win comfortably anyway they won’t offer so much, if anything, of substance at all.

    So we need to find as much support as possible from those who are outside the natural constituency of UKIP and the Tory right. Tony Benn used to receive standing ovation after standing ovation after giving the most anti-EU of speeches. So, the left support is still there.

    As JR writes “reaching out to people who disagree with you” is going to be what is needed. That support is still there on the left.

    Make sure you use it rather than lose it!

  57. mick
    May 29, 2015

    This might help clear the air a bit before the scare tactics start about 3million job looses when we leave the EU “fingers crossed ”

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