Uniting the kingdom

The arrival of a new Prime Minister in office has reminded us of how complicated our constitution has become in recent years. Theresa May has had to go to visit the First Minister of Scotland, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany to discuss vital matters of UK national interest as well as of wider significance.

In “The Death of Britain?” book I wrote I explained how too much devolution at home would be destabilising to the Union it was meant to sustain, and how too much transfer of power to the EU would  damage UK democracy and lead to more popular disillusion with government and politics. The rise and rise of the SNP in Scotland has underlined the first argument, with the arrival of almost a full slate of MPs in Westminster from Scotland wedded to independence. They will look to use any opportunity to make the case for independence, and see in the relationship with the EU one of the routes to adopt.  The outcome of the referendum has underlined my second argument.

In all of the changes England was deliberately left out. England had no matching First Minister or formal political identity as Scotland enjoys. England was left off the maps of the EU, seen as a target for break up into regions that in many cases attracted little loyalty or support. The  public voted down the idea of elected regional government in the North East, the one Labour dominated area at the time where the Labour government thought it would be supported.

As  the new government pilots its way through Brexit and seeks to reassure all those of the current devolution settlement, it also needs to heed the voices of England. Scotland makes a lot of its wish to stay in the EU by a majority. Latest polls however, show no overall change in support for the union of the UK after the Brexit vote, to the disappointment of the SNP.England does not have a First Minister to remind the government that England by a convincing margin voted to leave the EU. Brexit is a Union matter and has to proceed as such. Other matters like the financial settlement within the UK are as much English as Scottish issues. England still needs more recognition in our democratic structure.


  1. Jumeirah
    August 3, 2016

    Yes absolutely – well said Mr. Redwood

    1. Hope
      August 4, 2016

      Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street when he told one of his many lies that only the Tory party would deliver EVEL. No such thing has been delivered. The same as cleaning up Westminster in 2009 then we now see his honours list, right to recall sham, I will not pay the extra £1.5 billion to the EU then did etc. Where is this modernisation agenda? Always skewed when it comes to delivery. Anyone feel safe in London after six years of May being in charge as HS? Extension of Hate crime punishments being launched by Rudd after her tirade of hate and bile on TV towards Boris Johnson!

  2. Anonymous
    August 3, 2016

    Scotland voted to remain in the Union. The Union voted to leave the EU.

    The broadcast media ignores this simple fact. I have never, by the way, heard the broadcast media so determined to talk us into recession as it is now. At least one item per bulletin on how damaging the Brexit result has been.

    1. turboterrier
      August 3, 2016


      Hit that right on the nail. Well said.

    2. Patrick Geddes
      August 3, 2016

      Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
      According to recent polls it continues to want to remain part of a United Kingdom
      My County has a majority of Conservative MPs
      My particular constituency inside that County has a Labour MP
      Scotland have lsss than 15% of the total population of the UK.

    3. Mike Wilson
      August 3, 2016

      That would be primarily the BBC you are referring to?

    4. David Lister
      August 3, 2016

      Would you prefer the media just ignores the Consumer, Manufacturing, and Construction indexes all showing their steepest declines for 30 years in some cases.

      Of course it should be reported. If the news was positive I would expect that to be reported as well, but lets be honest: there really isn’t any.

      1. Richard Butler
        August 3, 2016

        No good news?

        + GSK / Google announce £560m investment
        + Soft Bank announces £24bn investment
        + Wells Fargo Bank announces £300m investment for new head office
        + Germans confirm they want to buy the London Stock Exchange

        I could list dozens more, but the facts will cause considerable dissonance

        1. Newmania
          August 3, 2016

          Your ability to list dozens of utterly inconsequential “Investments ” is only evidence that the Brexit lie machine is still pumping out its gibberish daily .
          Wells Fargo has an operating income of USD £84bn, GSK whose thumbs up for Brexit was on the front page of the Mail has a turnover of £22bn and 43,000 staff ion the EU anyway (13,000 I in the UK). These amounts are “NO News” and were presumably dug up by some press officer
          The real news is all bad and Brexits propagandists are responding , a usual , by attacking the source . I have noticed the concerted anti Mark Carney campaign which includes , of course , John Redwood
          I `m sure he would prefer it if Carney saved the pound averted recession and reacted to peril whilst pretending Brexit was the bomb but it aint likely

          Actually the news is taking a really serious turn now with the slow down that was obviously going to happen starting to turn up in the figures . I think sensible people will have already discounted for the Brexit shoot the messenger , weren`t me guv response , what do you expect ?

          Reply Mr Carney thinks the UK will grow 2% this year. Do you think he is now too optimistic about that?

      2. Denis Cooper
        August 3, 2016

        I would prefer it if the media put recent changes in the context of changes over the past five or ten years rather than pushing misinterpretations.

      3. Ajay Gajree
        August 3, 2016

        0.6% GDP growth, Unemployment fell, Employment up, ARM sold, Increased investments by GSK and Wells Fargo. These are real factors, what you state are only sentiments. For example the PMI was negative all of 2012 and there was no recession then..

      4. Edward2
        August 3, 2016

        Declines in confidence.
        Not declines in outputs.
        You might expect the first as a response to a fear of change.

      5. Anonymous
        August 4, 2016

        David Lister – We never hear from the BBC:

        “The Greek economic crisis is owing to its membership of the euro”

        “Mass immigration from the EU is owing to the failure of the eurozone”

        “This terrorist atrocity was enabled through the EU free movement under Shengen”

        “etc ed!”

        Contrast please.

        When it comes to ANY negativity on the economy it’s “Uncertainty owing to Brexit.”

        (There is never any reportage on good news btw – and when there is it’s never attributed to Brexit.)

        The BBC is at pains to include – every day, it seems – in its top headlines at least one item of Brexit doom.

        I believe this to be in preparation for the second referendum and a softening of the ramparts for the main assault.

    5. Dunedin
      August 3, 2016

      Anonymous – “I have never, by the way, heard the broadcast media so determined to talk us into recession as it is now. At least one item per bulletin on how damaging the Brexit result has been.”

      Every piece of negative economic news is directly attributed to Brexit – they never stop to consider that economic uncertainty might been caused by the apocalyptic predictions of the Remain campaign.

      1. David Lister
        August 3, 2016

        All the indicators are collated and reported by Markit PMI. Its not some BBC conspiracy, just do your own research and form your own opinion if you don’t like the BBC.

        In the absence of any plan as to what Brexit means, and what the trading conditions are after Article 50 expires, is it any wonder that businesses are more cautious.

        Where is the plan? What has Bo Jo, Davis, and Fox been up to for the last 6 weeks.

        1. Ajay Gajree
          August 3, 2016

          So bored of this no plan claim, the plan is pretty straightforward, informal discussions this year, agree a UK position, trigger A50 in December so we avoid the new EU budget cycle starting in Jan 2019.

          If that isn’t good enough tough, you can’t expect something this complicated to be agreed in a month.

          I fully believe it will happen but we must consider everything properly.

        2. Anonymous
          August 3, 2016

          “Where is the plan? What has Bo Jo, Davis, and Fox been up to for the last 6 weeks.”

          Probably discovering that there is an insurmountable wall in the Commons, Lords, civil service, law and broadcast media to get over.

          We are not leaving the EU.

          This is quite evident by the fact that it’s been six weeks (is it really that long ?) and nothing has happened.

          I suggest there should be no plan. We just get out and deal with it after. Otherwise it will never happen.

          The big news, btw, is the disaster that is the eurozone economy. Doubtless Brexit will cop the blame for it too.

        3. libertarian
          August 3, 2016

          David Lister

          Its a pity that you and the BBC seem blissfully unaware of what the Makit PMI actually is.

          Despite the ridiculous claim on the Markit website that its a factual survey there is in fact no attempt at corroborated facts. Its a prediction based on an opinion of SOME buyers of goods . It is NOT a factual analysis of what is actually happening

          Its as much indication to actual economic performance as seaweed is to weather forecasting.

        4. David Price
          August 4, 2016

          So what was the detailed plan if Remain had won? – apart from do whatever Brussels imposed and Germany/France decided. Surely there must be a plan otherwise what was the government doing for the last 40 years…

  3. Mark B
    August 3, 2016

    Good morning.

    Once again I wish to thank our kind host for posting another article for debate.

    When it comes to the issues raised, I think it fair to say, that the whole thing is in a condition of ‘extreme flux’.

    Leaving the EU matters to one side, I think it fair to say that the Scots voted SNP, not because they wanted out of the UK, although a fair number do, but because of a whole host of other reasons. Some were because Labour, just like in parts of England, have grown lazy and complacent and other political parties are moving in. Some because they know an SNP government, using the Independence stick will get more power and control for themselves.

    I genuinely believe, that the reason for all the nationalist parties crowing for a referendum on their independence, is because they are a direct creation of the EU. Once out of the EU (pray God) they would no longer be needed. in my view they are wrong ! In a strange irony, I believe it is a good thing that has happened and, as many, including our kind host know, I am a firm believer that post EU membership (pray God v2.0) that this will serve as a foundation for a Federal UK with an independent English Parliament (former HoC) and UK Senate (former and now quite useless HoL). But all this is for the very far future.

    One thing is for sure, the dye has been cast ! There can be no turning back. It is time for change and new ideas on how we are to be administered as a nation. I am up for debate 🙂

    1. Mike Wilson
      August 3, 2016

      This ‘dye’ that has been cast – what colour is it?

      I wonder, in this de-industrialised age, how many people know what a ‘die’ is and where the expression ‘the die has been cast’ comes from.

      1. hefner
        August 3, 2016

        Don’t be too cruel. The automatic filling in word processors can play havoc.

      2. Cromarty
        August 4, 2016

        What’s industrialisation got to do with Julius Caesar? Throw a six to start!

  4. Mick
    August 3, 2016

    I’m beginning to believe that all this talk about leaving the eu by yourself and other “Eurosceptics “is a big con trick so as to suck us all in to vote Torie at a GE,
    The only way to get some trust from the people is to invoke article 50 NOW , we will not be conned any longer we want out now and not kicked down the road hopeing somebody else can find a excuse to keep us in the eu

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 3, 2016

      I think it would be contempt of court for the government to invoke Article 50 before the courts have determined whether it has the legal power to do so without further parliamentary authorisation.

      I’m not sure what would happen if the Prime Minister ignored the advice that she must be getting from the law officers and sent in the “Dear Donald” letter.

      Back in 2008 when it seemed that Brown was about to deposit the instruments of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty before the courts had dealt with the case raised by Stuart Wheeler the judge expressed surprise and asked him not to do it. Brown responded by saying that it was really OK because the court proceedings fitted in with the government’s schedule for completing the process of ratification, which as I recall was allegedly being delayed by the need to discover the whereabouts of the Great Wafer Seal.


      I guess that at least some of the cases which have been started by diehards in the Remain camp will be allowed to go on to the Supreme Court, and while it seems unlikely there must be some chance that the judges on the Supreme Court will then refer the question on to the EU’s Court of Justice.

      The penalties for contempt of court are potentially severe, and while there is some amusement to be had from the vision of ministers being imprisoned indefinitely until they had purged their contempt that wouldn’t get us out of the EU.

  5. alan jutson
    August 3, 2016

    No Need for Our Prime Minister to have spent time travelling to all member States of the UK, they could have all been invited to London.
    This would have allowed her more time to agree a working plan with all of our Brexit Ministers and the Foreign office.

    Mrs May should then have waited to attend the next full EU leaders meeting, without again wasting time with individual meetings with some of its leaders.

    We need to show a strong united front to the EU across the board, not to have little individual talks with some of its members, a la begging Dave, which got him confused and completely side tracked onto their agenda.

    1. a-tracy
      August 3, 2016

      I agree Alan. I also think May was weak giving up our rolling Presidency for six months, that was silly and unnecessary we are still fully paid up members and it was our turn.

    2. brian
      August 3, 2016

      Prime Minister May has shown that she is willing to travel to EU Member States to encourage positive dialogue foe Brexit. The nation states will ultimately decide on the negotiations with the UK. The Commission will have to take a lesser role.

  6. Anthony Makara
    August 3, 2016

    Those who want Scottish independence are driven by an romanticized view of a new nation ‘free’ from the bondage of English ‘rule’ but these fantasies are dangerous because the reality is a colder, starker prospect riddled with insecurities. Scotland being a small population will have to impose Scandinavian style taxation, in which the state takes 50% plus of the monthly wage in taxes, not to mention the many other taxes that will be needed. An independent Scotland will have to queue up to join its beloved EU in a process that may take over a decade, who knows what state the EU project will be in by that stage? Then there is SNP Scotland’s fractious relationship with NATO. How will that play out? Or Scotland’s historic ties with Nothern Ireland let alone any new relationship with England, which will be far from forgiving if the Scots cause upheaval by walking away. Every plus Scotland gains by Indepedence will be outweighed by many many minuses. Does Scotland want to throw away all that it has, to gratify a vanity project led by the likes of Sturgeon and Salmond? Two wee fish out of their depth in a world of serious politics.

    1. turboterrier
      August 3, 2016

      Anthony Makara

      Scotland being a small population will have to impose Scandinavian style taxation, in which the state takes 50% plus of the monthly wage in taxes.

      Now you know why Empress Nick wants as many immigrants as she can get.
      The other problem here in dictatorship Scotland is that a high percentage of people are not in full time work ie. 38 hours a week or more. Too many are on handouts and all the time they are supported by Westminster’s generosity allowing their communities to take millions from the renewable energy companies for their local projects nothing more than a sticking plaster, as it hides the real problem that the councils are being starved of money to support their generous giveaways free prescriptions, toll free bridges etc.
      Westminster would be doing the Scottish people if they started to show what life is like in the real world and how the essentials in life have to be paid for and that means taxation and it will be interesting who the Scottish Parliament will blame as the wheels start falling off in about 18 months or less when they have control of income tax. The SNP have been in power for 8 years and have actually achieved three fifths of naff all when it comes to delivering in the most important areas of Health, Police, and Education. Stopping all the other funding or at least seriously reducing it will highlight that the 55 million in the rest of the UK play a very important part in their lives. That is not sour grapes it’s a fact of life.
      Still with any luck when the ” two wee fish” start having to survive in the big pond they will found wanting and in need of a lifebelt or better still be thrown back on the shore.

      1. Anthony Makara
        August 3, 2016

        Well, with ‘English’ having the pull of being a global language, Scotland can expect plenty of migrants who would otherwise have been destined for the market towns of the English coastline. Now we are going out of the EU and with SNP Scotland screaming that it wants to stay in the EU any migrant with half a brain will be choosing Forfar over Fairlight. The Empress Nick will get her numbers alright, still she can join Angela Merkel in the fantasy that these millions of Migrants will be paying for future pensions.

  7. Sean
    August 3, 2016

    In it out of the EU the UK could be split.
    Brexit is looking to be pushed under the carpet with talks from senior Ministers until 2020 now.

    Tories need to make Mrs May get on with leaving the EU, less talking more action.
    I’m sick and tied if politicians not listening to the voice of the people, Nay maybe yet another traitor.

    1. brian
      August 3, 2016

      The talk of “traitor” is unfair and untrue. Still a lot of misanthropes in our country.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 3, 2016

        Perhaps the talk of traitor is “unfair and untrue” in relation to Mrs May we shall see very soon anyway. But after Heath, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron and all the lies & threats from Osborne it is hardly unreasonable for people to have very considerable doubts.

        I assume Mrs May was partly responsible for the more visible armed policing at airports and the likes. This is a very bad idea indeed, it just does the terrorists work for them and will make no difference to terrorism. There are just too many targets.

        Even if you could defend one target they can just move on to any other crowded place there are millions of choices for them. Defending against suicide attackers is virtually impossible anyway. Only better intelligence can win in the end, that and showing the terrorist that they can achieve nothing with their attacks. Reacting in this way does the exact opposite.

    2. Mitchel
      August 3, 2016

      I understand Mrs May is a vicar’s daughter,perhaps therefore she is aware of Daniel 6:8-

      Now,O King,establish the decree and sign the writing,that it be not changed according to the law of the Medes and Persians which altereth not.

    3. Ajay Gajree
      August 3, 2016

      Where are you getting that from? The Daily Mail? Calling May a traitor is just pathetic, she’s only just got the job and had started very well in appointing Davis and Fox IMO.

      Where is the patience? And the faith I might add.

      1. Brendan McGrath
        August 8, 2016

        I can understand your point about some of us being impatient, why should people have faith in politicians who’ve done little if anything to justify any faith? Politicians have to earn the people’s faith, and the way to do that is by doing what needs to be done for the benefit of the population at large.

  8. The PrangWizard
    August 3, 2016

    Leaving aside the failure to get an true English parliament by starting from a weak point and getting weaker, England should now have a First Minister. But add to that the renaming of Ministries so that ‘England’ or ‘English’ appear in their titles.

    And let’s reclaim the devolution argument. It is not addressing the democratic deficit in England by having elected mayors. This is another way of dividing England, a kind of minor regionalisation. England is a unity, it should be thought of as a unity and treated as a unity. We have counties for administration, they will continue to work if not undermined.

    And while we are at it, I hear there is a proposal for Scotland to have a ‘six o’clock news’.
    So why not one for England too? English television regional news almost never mentions England and that it is reporting about events in England. The word is almost never mentioned – it’s all about ‘our region’, an expression which irritates. England continues to be kept hidden as mush as possible.

    Thus government and the media prevent English identity being reflected back to the people. It is well past the time we stopped giving priority to Scotland, England must be granted its due.

    1. Iain Moore
      August 3, 2016

      “So why not one for England too?”

      I have come to the conclusion that the British establishment is waging an undeclared war against England , for they believe the reassertion of an English identity would come at a cost to their power and careers , which is something they will not tolerate. As such any sense of English identity is suppressed , or circumvented by attempting to regionalise England, or as we see with immigration, migrants are made to feel thankful to the benevolent British Establishment for allowing them into the country, where the English are cast as their enemy who they have to supplant or the horrible nasty bigoted racist English will kick them out.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 3, 2016

        Your conclusion is correct, we heard it from Hague as well as Straw.

        1. Mitchel
          August 4, 2016

          Interesting parallel with the old,unlamented Ottoman Empire where the Sultans used to fill the top positions with converted Christian slaves to ensure complete dependence on themselves and avoid the indigenous population with their roots in soil and society.Not that it saved them ultimately from a nationalist uprising of course.

      2. rose
        August 3, 2016

        I remember not so long ago asylum seekers being sent up to Scotland to ease the pressure on England. but they got beaten up and had to be brought back down to England where that doesn’t happen. (So grievances about the colour of front door have to be manufactured to keep the Anglophobia going.)

      3. Lifelogic
        August 3, 2016

        Even the word England is virtually banned in government.

    2. Iain Moore
      August 3, 2016

      In 1998 the BBC produced a document listing out its program responses to devolution, here it listed out the changes it was going to make to its broadcasting in Scotland .

      I quote from its summary in regards to the action they were going to take.

      1/ Coverage of Scottish Parliament.
      Daily Program of record on Radio Scotland .
      Weekly review in Gaelic on Radio Nan Gaidhael.
      Live TV coverage of proceedings on Tuesdays and Thursdays ( in place of Westminster live)
      Live coverage on TV and Radio of significant debates and ceremonial occasions.
      New Parliamentary programmes unit to be set up adjacent to the Scottish Parliament.

      2 Enhanced Daily News coverage
      New 20 minute nightly opt out from Newsnight.
      Enhanced version of six to seven news hour with additional opt outs.
      A Scottish news online site.
      Additional Scottish Ceefax pages.
      Enhanced news on BBC Choice Scotland built around a strengthened 10 pm bulletin of international, UK, national and local news, edited and produced in Scotland.
      New satellite OB truck.
      Appointment of a News Editor based in Scotland to ensure full liason across all network news bulletins.

      3 Extended Current Affairs coverage.
      A new weekly current affairs program Newsweek Scotland.
      Increased programming on BBC One Scotland and Radio Scotland taking a fresh approach to debating issues.

      4 Strengthening Newsgathering
      A strengthened newsgathering team including more specialist correspondents and regionally based reporters.

      5 National production
      The creation of development teams to build production in a range of genres for network TV and Radio.

      They had smaller but similar summaries for Wales and Northern Ireland, they had absolutely nothing , nothing at all for England . In fact though the report made mention of Scotland some 80 odd times, it mentioned England 3 times, and only in a regional context.

      As a result we have to endure the likes Scottish labour supporting Kirtsy Wark preaching to England on Newsnight, while Scotland goes off and gets its own special Scottish only bit of Newsnight, or the likes of Naughtie trailing around Scotland during the EU referendum giving us a navel gazing view of Scottish political opinion. Meanwhile 20 years after devolution England still gets no broadcasting representation, yet our really on the ball British MPs worry about Scotland getting its special Scottish only 6pm news.

      And they wonder why they the referendum result came as such a big surprise to them.

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    August 3, 2016

    The First Minister thing is simply another layer of nonsense..same as the EU. The HoL has become a strategy game with positioned place holders to disrupt common sense. Hopefully in the latter case Cameron’s game will be holed!

    Good luck to Mrs May again.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 3, 2016

      There are at least half a dozen wildly divergent ideas on how to reform the House of Lords, of which only one actually makes some kind of sense.

      Really we’re no further forward now than in 1911 when the government decided that the best thing was to leave it unreformed for the time being but drastically reduce its powers:


      “An Act to make provision with respect to the powers of the House of Lords in relation to those of the House of Commons, and to limit the duration of Parliament.

      [18th August 1911]

      Whereas it is expedient that provision should be made for regulating the relations between the two Houses of Parliament:

      And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation:

      And whereas provision will require hereafter to be made by Parliament in a measure effecting such substitution for limiting and defining the powers of the new Second Chamber, but it is expedient to make such provision as in this Act appears for restricting the existing powers of the House of Lords”

      Then in 1949 the post-war Labour government used the 1911 Act to force through a further restriction of its powers, cutting the period of delay they could impose on Bills, but the fact is that this collection of rather pompous self-regarding unelected legislators-for-life still have far more power than they merit and in the absence of any consolidated view of how to reform the chamber it would now be expedient to make a further restriction and only allow a delay of one month.

  10. Old Albion
    August 3, 2016

    Yes John, it’s an utter scandal and insult for England to be left out of the devolution process.
    Nearly twenty years now succesive Westmister governments have either dodged the issue or erroneously claimed there is no need for English recognition.
    I previously supported the idea of a new UK federation. A process that would have kept the UK together but in a looser form.
    However, when the Brexit issue is included in the mix along with the Scottish desire to remain in the EU, English indepedence becomes the more attractive solution.

  11. Richard1
    August 3, 2016

    These are certainly valid observations, but it’s not been a general long term trend in the UK. this dismemberment is result of the Labour government of 1997-2010, which although thought ‘moderate’ at the time will surely rank as amongst the very worst governments in British history. That govt (besides of course starting the Iraq war and then, separately, near bankrupting the country) was responsible for the rise of Scottish separatism due to an entirely self-interested desire to buy votes in Scotland. Obviously that plan was a fiasco – on so many levels the Blair-Brown government was simply incompetent. You remind us of their absurd – and also self interested – attempt to Balkanise England by trying to establish a regional assembly in the North East. And of course they signed the Nice, Lisbon and Amsterdam EU treaties which led to huge transfers of powers to the EU. At the moment most of the commentary on that period focuses on the antics of Blair pre the Iraq war. But historians will focus on the wrecking of the economy, the opportunistic promotion of regional separatism and of course the terrible consequences of the Iraq war.

    Let’s hope we never have another Labour government whether ‘moderate’ or not.

    1. rose
      August 3, 2016

      “But historians will focus on the wrecking of the economy, the opportunistic promotion of regional separatism and of course the terrible consequences of the Iraq war.”

      Don’t forget the unprecedented out of control mass immigration which was intended to and did change the nation for ever.

  12. Ian Wragg
    August 3, 2016

    Gideon was following the EU playbook with his Northern Powerhouse and directly elected mayors.
    Are you going to cancel this nonesense.
    If it is the plan to delay Brexit until after the next election you may be bitterly disappointed as the 17 million leave voters will be very angry.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2016

      Nearly everything Osborne did needs to be undone. Start with his IHT ratting, his absurd stamp duty levels and his Landlord/Tenant and pension pot mugging taxes. Also his absurdly high 10% insurance premium tax.

    2. JohnF
      August 3, 2016

      If it is the plan to delay Brexit until after the next election you may be bitterly disappointed as the 17 million leave voters will be very angry.

      I won’t be angry and other “Brexit” voters I’ve spoken to – including 5 of my own family – won’t be angry. I suggest that the 300,000 people who are going to lose their jobs over the next 18 months might be feeling a bit peeved though.

      Cool heads are needed here. There’s clearly no strategy for exit and no-one has a clue what the consequences are likely to be. If it takes until 2020 to decide on an acceptable solution – even if that solution is to REMAIN – then so be it.

      1. ian wragg
        August 3, 2016

        Well if 300,00 jobs are going to be lost maybe, just maybe they will get rid of the foreigners first and free up some social housing, school places and doctors appointments.
        Every cloud ………………………….

      2. Ajay Gajree
        August 3, 2016

        Every time we hear this doom mongering nonsense on jobs the market just keeps on creating them…

      3. Anonymous
        August 3, 2016

        “If it takes until 2020 to decide on an acceptable solution – even if that solution is to REMAIN – then so be it.”

        So long as there is no second referendum.

        I don’t want it skewed that we are in any way happy with the EU. As with eight referenda that went against the EU before but were recast until they turned up the result the EU wanted.

        We should be on the way out by now but I’m a realist and I understand the overwhelming forces at work to keep us in the EU.

      4. Mark Watson
        August 4, 2016

        I would love to be able to look into the same crystal ball as you.

  13. Lifelogic
    August 3, 2016

    Spot on.

    As you rightly say “too much devolution at home would be destabilising to the Union it was meant to sustain”. This surely was always fairly obvious. Enoch Powell’s view was always that devolution would almost certainly lead to separation.

    In fact Labour’s devolution seems mainly to have been designed by Labour to try to maintain a Labour majority in both Scotland and Westminster. Even if, rather amusingly, it did not turn out very well for them. But then Labour were never very good at seeing the consequences of their designs. Their “politics of envy” economic policies are always a disaster main for the very people they claim to be trying to help.

    Without the dire threat to England of a Miliband Labour dog wagged by Nicola Sturgeon SNP tail Cameron would have lost his second election too, and we would doubtless never been given the EU referendum.

    The breakup of the UK is surely a matter for all of the UK, not just one for Scotland, Ireland or Wales. If the Isle of Wight sort independence (perhaps to become a tax haven island) would that be only a matter for the Isle of Wight residents? If England and Scotland were of a similar size would it still only be a matter for Scottish residents with the English having no say?

  14. acorn
    August 3, 2016

    Is it worth uniting the kingdom? For a start, it hasn’t been united for a long while, hence the devolution of the dis-united bits. I would let Scotland go and benefit from the major advantages of being part of the Euro currency austerity family; and, have its welfare system managed by hyper-austere Germany. Good luck with that Scotland!

    Ireland should be re-united fiscally, not just for Corporation Tax; and stay in the Eurosystem. Ireland is becoming Europe’s offshore tax haven for trans-national corporations. Its national accounts are all over the place due to global corporations shifting large amounts of capital, trying to outwit the US tax man.

    Wales? Who’s idea was it to devolve management to 22 Unitary Councils. Mind you, it could become the eighth smallest country within the EU.

    By default, England would then have its own Parliament; whoopee! Westminster MPs would eventually realise, when they spotted less people turning up for PMQs. England goes on to become the new Singapore / Hong Kong. 😉

    1. Jack
      August 3, 2016

      Tony Benn said that being in the EU would only further the independence calls from nationalist parties, since they could just leave the UK and get their own Ministers and Commissioners in the EU.

      The EU certainly hasn’t helped quell independence movements in other countries, just look at Catalonia and Spain, or Belgium.

      But it does seem different now, as Scotland is far more pro-EU than it was in 1975. So it’s quite a confusing one. I think the kingdom could continue to be united if the government followed an MMT strategy and we had true economic prosperity, double-digit real GDP growth and <1% unemployment.

      By MMT strategy I mean increasing the government deficit with huge government investment plans, and large payroll tax cuts for working people.

  15. fedupsoutherner
    August 3, 2016

    The SNP will continue to find reasons to hold a referendum on independence. They will use any excuse. The Scots vote SNP because they are the only party that bribes Westminster and often get their way so the Scots can have more, more, more. They don’t realise how lucky they are. Poll taxes are lower, house prices are lower, they get free prescriptions, free eye tests, free dental check ups and free care in the home for the elderly. Added to this, Sturgeon is looking at ways to put up benefits in Scotland. The minimum wage applies throughout the UK and so the Scots have more money in their pockets at the end of the day. Rents are also a lot lower here. Vets fees, hairdressers etc. The Scots will stay with the status quo as long as they think their bread has been buttered both sides.

    It is about time England had their day. I seem to remember this being a topic of yours a long time ago John. Nothing much has changed as far as I can see. Is Mrs May serious about leaving the EU only it doesn’t look that way to many of us. In the meantime we have to listen to the likes of the BBC droning on about how the economy is doing ‘so badly’ after Brexit. Is it the intention of ministers to put doubt into the minds of Brexiteers so that they can call another referendum and see the vote go their way? If not then why not get on with the job in hand?

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 3, 2016

      “The SNP will continue to find reasons to hold a referendum on independence.”

      But the devolved Scottish authorities have no legal power to hold one.

      Salmond and Sturgeon implicitly acknowledged that when they signed this:


      Theresa May should just tell them to wait until after the UK has withdrawn from the EU, then if it seems that enough of the Scots are still grieving at their loss they could have a second referendum to decide whether to separate from the rest of the UK and apply to rejoin the beloved EU under Article 49 TEU.

    2. JoolsB
      August 3, 2016

      “Poll taxes are lower, house prices are lower, they get free prescriptions, free eye tests, free dental check ups and free care in the home for the elderly.”

      And let’s not forget the biggest injustice of the lot. English kids alone will spend the majority of their working lives with eye watering debts hanging over them whilst their taxes, a whopping extra 9p in the pound plus interest, will help to continue providing them free in Scotland and heavily subsidised in Wales & NI.

  16. fedupsoutherner
    August 3, 2016

    Thinking about the whole debacle of devolved governments in the UK John, it doesn’t really work well does it? All the different factions remind me of trying to get a world trade deal within the EU. There are too many people wanting too many different things for their country. We have walked away from that system in Europe but still got it at home. Mind you, it’s always Scotland we hearing moaning the loudest and the most and being the most disrespectful in the houses of parliament. The SNP do the people of Scotland no favours regarding respect and good manners.

  17. formula57
    August 3, 2016

    You say “Other matters like the financial settlement within the UK are as much English as Scottish issues” but as you will recall England had no voice in deciding whether or not to retain the burden of subsidizing Scotland (some £15 billion a year at present?), a country that enjoys luxuries unheard of in the rest of the UK like free university tuition, medical prescriptions, care for the elderly.

    We can take some amusement from the fact that all three declarers of the infamous Vow given during the Scottish referendum are now gone and their nonsense is unenforceable.

  18. a-tracy
    August 3, 2016

    Yes and England doesn’t need just one First Minister to keep parity with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland it needs 9 -11 heads all with equivalent status of Sturgeon.

  19. Antisthenes
    August 3, 2016

    I believe the advantages of devolution out way the disadvantages. I am for people having more say in what happens locally. Like the EU one fit all policies does not work for it’s member states so it does not work for all the countries and regions of the UK. Devolution does throw up problems and anomalies and create areas where the wrong sort gain power. However who the people elect is their right and they gain or suffer from that choice.

    The SNP is a glaring example of where the electorate have decided that a bunch of left wing nationalists and incompetents are who they wish to govern them. It is not working out too well for them and given time I believe support for the SNP will dwindle. Support for independence is not growing and but disillusionment with SNP is. Wales has a left wing government that is not doing well either. The poor performance of these two left wing governments cannot go unnoticed by the English so giving a lesson in what should be avoided.

    Certainly England should have all the rights enjoyed by other devolved countries but at the moment in practical terms because there is a Conservative government they are being governed by a government that they would have chosen at the ballot box anyway except the majority would be greater.

    1. JoolsB
      August 3, 2016

      England hasn’t voted Labour since 2001 yet it took until 2015 for England to get the Government of it’s choosing and even then, it’s a Government for the whole of the UK where in most cases the rest of the UK take priority over England. Only an English Parliament can serve the people of England where only those elected in England can make decisions for it and only then might England’s chosen representatives start standing up for England and putting it first for a change – unlike now.

    2. Andy
      August 3, 2016

      The problem with Scottish Devolution, aside from the fact that England was treated (and is treated) with contempt, is that the Scots don’t pay for it. The Scottish Parliament should be required to raise in taxes what it so freely spends. It really means that there needs to be a proper fiscal devolution.

  20. JoolsB
    August 3, 2016

    Are you or any of your colleague pushing for an English First Minister and a Secretary of State for England? Thought not. When May was re-organising Government departments a couple of weeks ago, I was hopeful that at long last, a Conservative PM (there by the grace of England) would at long last address the elephant in the room and at least appoint a Secretary of State for England but just like Cameron before her, it looks like England is to continue being ignored. Who represents England at the cabinet table in Brexit talks or any other matter? No-one, that’s who. Certainly not May or any of the other UK Ministers with English seats in the UK Government.

    We now have a potential Labour leader and potential PM with a Welsh seat, Owen Smith. If he becomes PM, he will be responsible for English health and English education and overseeing cuts to English councils etc. which will have no effect on those in Wales who elected him. Just like the self annointed Brown before him, he will no say on these matters for his own constituents but have 100% control for these matters in England and no doubt if this happens, just as with Brown, your colleagues will utter not one word of protest at this affront to democracy, not a whimper.

    Until England is given parity with the rest of this dis-united Kingdom, and that also means a Secretary of State as well as a First Minister and yes an English Parliament too with equal funding and an end to the Barnett Formula, then one nation we certainly ain’t and if the Conservative party do not address this blatant discrimination they are continuing against England, then it is time they were consigned to the political waste land along with all the other anti-English parties.

    If Paul Nutall becomes the new UKIP leader, a man who has long advocated an English Parliament, then it will be too late for the Tory party to suddenly pretend that is something they were thinking of also, which they would no doubt do, and that they really did care about the rotten deal England gets. No one would believe them because they had their chance and they chose to do nothing but ignore it.

    The English are waking up John and beginning to realise that when it comes to standing up for England, there is no difference between the Con/Lab/Lib parties, in that not one of them gives a stuff about the rotten deal England gets.

    1. Yossarion
      August 3, 2016

      The British/ Irish Council had an Emergency meeting last week to discuss BREXIT, there was No! English representation at the meeting as there was never any intention to have any English representation on the body that for those that don’t know was part of StrandIII of the Belfast agreement.
      In essence last week there was a Body at work, with People from the Irish Republic discussing Every Englishmen’s future with no one in the room to fight our corner.

    2. Ray Marshall
      August 8, 2016

      I’m pretty sure Paul Nuttall isn’t running for the UKIP leadership, unfortunately. The Palace of Westminster could use a few hundred people like him, instead of the middle-class, metro liberal, cultural Marxist frauds who infest that place.

  21. Iain Moore
    August 3, 2016

    Well said Mr Redwood.

    When Mrs May went trailing around the devolved Assemblies and Parliaments, something I thought was a mistake for a new Prime Minister to do for it handed the initiative/power to them, Mrs May should have told them to attend her at No10 , but it also left out the English , yet again, from having their views considered. Mrs May is the British Prime Minister, not the English First Minister, who along with most of the British political establishment were in fact in step with Scottish opinion, in wanting to remain in the EU, the problem was that the British political establishment are completely out of touch with the English. Trailing around Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is not going to help her connect with the English, and as there isn’t an English First Minister for her to come calling to for help, she hasn’t either tried to bridge the gap between England and Britain by calling on us lot in Wiltshire or , as far as I am aware any other English country.

    1. Iain Moore
      August 3, 2016

      Please read the last word as ‘county’.

  22. Caterpillar
    August 3, 2016

    It may be that the federal option is inevitable to avoid an unhelpful UK breakup. Obviously in this case moving an English parliament closer to the centre (Birmingham) with the good HS2 links could work well. Nonetheless, I suspect moving the current HoC out of euro-centric London may in itself defuse some tensions. HoL needs to go, if a bicameral system remains then the current structure needs to radically change, but if UK moves to a federal option then HoL can just be run down.

    (Unity will of course need the other uniting features that flow from increased equity and shared identity. So new monetary system, guaranteed income, new tax system … Really dramatic changes probably needed. Oh yes and Article 50 …)

    August 3, 2016

    One can take the electoral processes too seriously in the United Kingdom. It’s an “X” ONCE every five years against the name of someone you hardly know, if at all, probably not.

  24. Denis Cooper
    August 3, 2016

    “In all of the changes England was deliberately left out.”

    Not really; the plan was to break up England into nine euroregions, and that wicked scheme was only halted on November 4th 2004, a date which should really go on the calendar alongside other crucial dates in our history.


    “Devolution referendums in Northern England were proposed under provisions of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003. Initially, three referendums were planned, but only one took place. The votes concerned the question of devolving limited political powers from the UK Parliament to elected regional assemblies in North East England, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber respectively.

    On 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%, which halted the government’s proposed referendums in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber which were postponed and then dropped.”

    And after what the quisling Prescott had expected to be his easier victories in the north, the EU-inspired process of destroying England as a political entity would have been pushed southwards until finally the resistance in the south east could be crushed.

    But of course we had already lost a battle on May 7th 1998 when voters in London agreed to it being treated as a euroregion, and some would say no longer part of England, and that ground has not yet been regained. Hence we now have some others dreaming of London staying in the EU along with Scotland after the rest of the UK has left.

    1. acorn
      August 3, 2016

      The EU vision was, and still is, to do away with the sovereign nation States and replace them with, currently, 98 NUTS 1 Regions; of which, England has 9, (UK = 12). The Eurocrats thought they could speed up the process, by introducing the Euro currency as a binding agent. The latter was a cart before the horse move, which has been a disaster for every member State except Germany.

      The UK is the most centrally controlled member of the EU, by a long way. Only 5.7% of taxation being raised by local government. A situation the good citizens have never allowed to happen in France or Germany.

      English local government is a mess, deliberately kept that way by Westminster and Whitehall. Fortunately for the latter, the English are too thick to work it out and, don’t give a toss anyway. England has no defining culture(s) at national or regional level; hence there are no cohesive forces to form strong regions, that could confidently federate to form the likes of nations such as France or Germany.

      At least the Scots and the Welsh, plus the Irish to a certain extent have worked out the culture thing and sorted their local government; but alas, still dependent on “penny packet” financing from the metropolitan elite in London.

      PS. Dear Chancellor, why does my IHT tax reduction plan, from my Bank, have 27 pages. Please tell me how you and your ilk, managed to make such a total f****ng mess of our tax system?

  25. Mike Wilson
    August 3, 2016

    Why, throughout the various stages of devolution, have English MPs so failed to stand up for their English constituents?

    The answer, of course, is that they do as they are told by the whips. Our first past the post, whipped political system is useless.

  26. Mike Wilson
    August 3, 2016

    On the subject of Brexit, I wonder, Mr. Redwood, if you could give us an update on what, actually, is happening?

    Who is formulating our ‘negotiating position’?

    What is our ‘negotiating position’?

    Does Brexit mean Brexit?

    Are we going to continue paying contributions to the EU budget?

    Are we going to accept free movement of people?

    Surely, at the very least, you (the people formulating the negotiating position’) must have some idea what the base requirements are?

    Are we all to be treated to the same mushroom treatment that Cameron gave us during HIS ‘re-negotiation’?

    1. DaveM
      August 3, 2016

      Second that request. Six weeks nearly.

  27. Mike Wilson
    August 3, 2016

    Surely there are enough Tory MPs who support Brexit to hold the government’s feet to the fire on this? I can see this taking years – if we get to 2020 and we are still not out – Labour will win the next GE simply by promising to stay in the EU.

  28. Wingsovertheworld
    August 3, 2016

    I completely agree with Richard 1 above re devolution, New Labour, Iraq and the Banking Crisis. They did so much damage to this nation which seemingly went unnoticed (which I was dumbfounded by at the time, as it seemed obvious what the eventual outcomes would be). My conclusion to the almost fanatical love for New Labour was that their close relationship with the MSM was used to propagandise their worldview, to the detriment of any critical thought or logic. This still happens today – the MSM now promoting the views of a few inner city liberals over the more grounded and widespread views of the majority. I have already stopped watching the mainstream news channels, with the exception of Andrew Neill’s programmes (when he is hosting). My viewing behaviour has changed significantly – I now take in views from RT, Jon Gaunt Podcast and even Breitbart London (although I don’t agree with much of what they say). On reflection this is a reflex action to the liberalism I am seeing on the MSM, the danger of course being that some people may take the views espoused by these outlets as given and not weigh them on balance.

    Further off topic, I see the media is gagging for a rate cut because of poor manufacturing and construction confidence “post-Brexit”. One wonders what we were ever to blame pre-Brexit; the world seemed so rosy in comparison. I will admit to not having an educated opinion on this, not coming from a commerce background, but it would seem any uncertainty coupled with a deep negativity about Brexit as we had during and after the referendum, would be guaranteed to dent confidence and lessen investment. This is why starting the process of Brexit proper cannot be delayed much longer – really 6 months is far too long, in my opinion. By all means take the time to get the departments together, talk to foreign trade ministers to sound out our possibilities post Brexit, but some direction will be needed soon so those businesses can start planning for the future. Any delay will be a drag our economy and give the Remoaners the ammunition they need to claim their version of post-Brexit Armageddon was real – a self perpetuating prophecy.

  29. Peter Stroud
    August 3, 2016

    It seems as usual the Scots tail is wagging the UK dog: and the tail is being rewarded for it.

  30. agricola
    August 3, 2016

    On the face of it, being newly arrived, it was sensible of May to discuss the future with the bodies you mention.

    My best guess is that Lady Macbeth is well on to blowing her love affaire with the people of Scotland. They are far too bright to be sucked into a future with an EU that has a questionable future itself. Nor will they appreciate being used to blackmail the rest of the UK. The ones in Parliament should be left to vent their spleen on us and look like dark side of mooners in the process.

    The situation for NI and Ireland needs to be played very carefully with as much support for the views of their people as is possible. It could be the first step in a lengthy engagement that could lead to ultimate reconcilliation. I would accept the open border between the two, but demand as a quid pro quo, passport checks on entry to the UK. Operated with a level of tolerance that approaches the easy going arrangement we have had for decades. For those lacking Irish origines the border could operate just as it will do post Brexit for citizens from the rest of the World. It must not become a gateway for economic migrants and terrorists.

    Yes, English only sittings at Westminster are long overdue as are the boundary changes of constituencies. No need for a separate Parliament, just exclude the NI, Welsh and Scots from participation.

    When Brexit and all the above is done and dusted, the English and the citizens of the UK can begin to feel focused again as a cohessive unit. The knowledge that we exist as such will only add strength to our advance and commercial success in the World. No more a cash cow for a political experiment, gone wrong, called the EU, but holding out the hand of frienship and cooperation with all Europeans.

  31. Denis Cooper
    August 3, 2016

    It would make most sense for Scotland to leave the EU along with the rest of the UK, and then when the Scots have had a taste of life outside the EU they could think whether they would prefer to separate from the rest of the UK and apply to rejoin the EU.

    Nothing much would be lost by doing that, because even if the Scots voted to separate from the rest of UK before it left the EU they would not get any better treatment than if they had waited until after the UK had left the EU.

    Either way they would inevitably lose all the treaty opt-outs that the UK presently enjoys, as well as the EU budget rebate that the UK government extracted.

    Somebody should pointedly remind Sturgeon that the devolved Scottish authorities have no legal power to order a second referendum on Scottish independence, as she herself implicitly acknowledged when she put her signature on the Edinburgh Agreement for the first referendum.

    As for the position of England, if Scotland sticks with the UK, as I hope, then the English should be allowed to elect their own devolved English parliament and government with similar powers to the Scottish institutions, but in the unfortunate event that the Scots decided to go their own way then the position would have to be reconsidered.

    1. Mark B
      August 3, 2016

      The most curious thing I find, and one that is not as widely quoted as it should, is that Scotland’s biggest trading partner is England.

      A Scotland in the EU with the UK out would not make Scotland any happier. It would be the EU and all the other member countries that would determine what is best, and not Scotland for herself.

  32. Bert Young
    August 3, 2016

    Regional government is a mistake ; the sooner it is neutralised the better it will be for England . I certainly agree that Theresa should not have gone trotting off to Merkel , Hollande and Renzi ; these are individuals with a short life span of influence who should have been visiting her in London ; the same is true for her visits to Scotland and Ireland .

    Theresa has a major job to do on her doorstep ; rebuilding the Conservative Party is a major issue . Cameron swung the Party to the left of centre and in so doing lost support of the genuine hard core ; membership suffered badly with many shifting to UKIP . While this was occuring the place of England deteriorated and the voice of Scotland was established . John’s cry for identity was lost in the wilderness .

    Theresa now has to take a deep breath and establish some base roots ; she needs the advice and assistance of mature experienced individuals to guide the policy that will determine the success of her Parliament and the outcome of the next election . Having appointed the likes of David Davis , she must not substitute for him while he builds our Brexit negotiation case . Effective delegation is the test of a true leader .

  33. Dunedin
    August 3, 2016

    “Scotland makes a lot of its wish to stay in the EU by a majority” – Miss Sturgeon is making a lot of noise about safeguarding the democratic wishes of the 1.6 million who voted to remain in the EU. However she seems quite happy to ignore the democratic wishes of the 2 million who in 2014 voted to remain in the UK.

    The “almost full slate” of 56 SNP MPs out of 59 is a result of the first past the post system – the 56 MPs were elected on a 50% share of the vote. Compare this with the 2016 Holyrood election which uses a combination of FPTP with a regional list system – the SNP are now a minority government in Holyrood, with the Conservatives as the official opposition.

    As Mark B points out above, independence is not the only reason Scots may vote SNP – I agree that voters finally became disillusioned with Labour (former First Minister Jack McConnell describing his own constituency as a “pigsty” looked like a watershed moment) and the SNP offered a left-wing alternative to Labour. However there is growing dissatisfaction with the incessant focus on another referendum instead of getting on with the daily business of government.

    Ruth Davidson is doing a good job of making the Conservatives electable again in Scotland (I just wish she was a Eurosceptic!), and I think a more “blue-collar” Tory style in Westminster would help build support north of the border.

    The Miss Sturgeon and SNP are very shouty – but they certainly don’t speak for all of us.

    1. Mark B
      August 3, 2016

      Thank you for the mention.

    2. Lindsay McDougall
      August 4, 2016

      Conditions for a second Scottish independence referendum:
      – SNP to do well in next 2 elections to both Westminster and Holyrood
      – Scotland to find its own Monarch or other Head of State
      – Scotland to adopt its own currency or the Euro
      – Scotland / England border to become a frontier for immigration control
      – No defence pact if we have to move our nukes
      – Scotland to receive royalties on oil and gas fields north of Berwick
      – End of Barnett formula payments
      – A summary of the above to go on the ballot paper

      In summary, no more parasitic DevoMax.

  34. Denis Cooper
    August 3, 2016

    I’m rather concerned about this fairly typical attempt by the Tory government to stir up Tory party members while distracting attention from more important matters:


    “EU demands Britain pays pensions of 1,730 Eurocrats in wake of Brexit vote”

    “The UK insists it cannot be held responsible for Eurocrat pensions which, it says, are the responsibility of EU institutions.”

    These are UK citizens who applied for and got jobs which were only made available to them because Tory MPs had voted for the UK to be subject to the transnational system of government which created those posts. Quite possibly some of these people could even be turned to use their EU experience in our national interests rather than in the EU’s interests, maybe they even include some useful trade negotiators.

    My suggestions are as follows:

    1. Do not allow this relatively trivial issue to distract from far more important matters which will need to be negotiated, such as how trade can continue uninterrupted and unimpeded after we have left the EU.

    2. Agree to pay these people whatever they were promised under the system that was approved by those we elected to Parliament.

    3. Seek to recover some of the costs from those who are guilty of imposing them on us, that is to say those who as MPs voted for us to be and remain in the EU.

    But I would not try to recover anything from the estates of those who were pro-EU MPs but have since died, that would be going too far and create other injustices.

    1. agricola
      August 3, 2016

      Starts well but then becomes very muddled in suggestions

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 3, 2016

        Well, I don’t seriously expect that those who got us into the EU mess will pay for the consequences. It was just a thought …

    2. anon
      August 3, 2016

      Why bail out a pension fund when we dont have a legal obligation?
      Should the scheme not have assets to back the promises?

      An organization that has not had signed accounts for many a year.

      There are many others with no taxpayer funded public provision?

      They made a choice to work for this employer. It is an issue for them and their employees. They can always leave the employ if they believe their employer is a poor long term bet!

      No more subsidies for the relatively rich in terms of pension provision.

      1. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2016

        While we remain in the EU we clearly do have a legal obligation, it has arisen from the operation of the EU treaties which our Parliament approved and our government ratified. The question is what should happen about it when we leave the EU, and just as clearly we cannot simply walk away from the commitments made over the four decades of membership.

        Any UK citizen who works or worked for the EU was only able to apply for and accept such a position because our politicians said we would participate in that transnational system of government, and we would take our share of the costs, and even if their motivations for taking those jobs could be seen as questionable they were only doing what our politicians said they could do and in fact encouraged them to do, from time to time lamenting that there were too few Britons in the EU apparatus.

        However the crucial point is not to allow negotiations on secondary or even trivial issues like this to take priority over negotiations on what is by far the most important issue, trade.

        To do that would be to make a reality of myths propagated by the Remain camp, that trade negotiations will take many years and we will only have two years available and those will be taken up agreeing on matters such as pensions for EU employees, as I have noted here:


        1. anon
          August 6, 2016

          There is nothing to be gained from EU negotiation.
          We need to trading freely with the world.

          All these structures, laws, treaties etc have been designed to bind us in and smother practical exit.

          Just repeal, the Customs Union, the 1972 Act, then issue Article 50. List out our default plan which is WTO rules and intention for unilateral free trade. (see P Minford)

          Re: The EU Pensions.
          What does their employment contract state?
          If we are legally obliged to pay then they will have their day in court.

          Some in the private sector work in the EU for various entities do we subsidize them.

          Sorry. Disagree re negotiations. We just say no. No need to get sidetracked.

          Who else do we continually bail out apart from the banks and the Senior Public sector gravy train.

          All pensions particularly of those that make or help make decisons should be equally at risk, not protected from the risks they impose on others.
          By others i mean those that can’t write themselves unique (indirectly over time) government backed promises. The employer that goes bust last.

    August 3, 2016

    Off topic:
    The Parliamentary advocates of various wars in the Middle East obviously had not a care whether such military invasive aggression would make “The Enemy” turn his or her attention to do a little more than trying to retaliate by shooting with kalashnikov ( maximum effective range a mile or so ) at high-flying RAF aircraft.

    It was unthinkable even a while ago that our great British Bobby should carry not just a small hand-gun but a fully automatic weapon and accompanying ( when available ) body armour. But many now will be armed.

    Those bomb-happy, trigger-happy MPs have by their deliberate and irresponsible voting destroyed our historic and much-loved British way of life even before ISIL mounts an operation rather more “professional” and numerically stronger than a few young men in black hoods. “They aint seen nuffin yet Bro, they aint no Muslims” they are probably smiling.
    “When not if” as our security people advise, the attack comes and more and more attacks, then we as citizens must of course have the right to bear arms ourselves. No security force can protect us in a guerilla war, only a fully armed people. This, this, this, is what those 172 Labour MPs amongst others have brought us to.

  36. Denis Cooper
    August 3, 2016

    But I’m much more concerned about this:


    “Farmers and rural business in limbo amid Brexit cash freeze”

    So who ordered this? A minister, or a civil servant?

    1. agricola
      August 3, 2016

      What are the RPA doing freezing legitimate payments to farmers. Are the RPA trying to reinforce the remain message that all hell would ensue if we left the EU. Who runs this rogue quango. They need to be called to account.

  37. ian
    August 3, 2016

    On the 23 june 2016 the people of england got there first taste of democratic decision making in over 40 years, now the so called servants of the people who belong to parties are doing all they can to delay and change that vote made by the people of england.

    It is my belief that if you had at this time independent MPs in parliament, that a vote in parliament would of already have taken place and that you would of been out by the new year, that is 1 of jan 2017 but now this EU thing is set to go on for years to come and the big issue at every GE for parties to try to gain votes with lots of nasty things in their manifestos which you will not like but the people will be voting on the big issue and not looking at the small print.

    I am now of the a opinion that the people of this country deserve all they have got coming as the con party looks like it is ramping up for a GE which it said it would do before coming out of the EU and if they win you can look forward to another 5 year of coming out but not coming out and if you vote for the other parties you will be staying in.

    Lots of inflation to come on your food and your way of life with no interest on your savings and oversea people waiting on the sidelines to come in and buy up everything they can as parliament push down the value of the pounds for companies to try to sell to overseas countries while still under EU rules and as growth is falling around the world who is going to be doing the buying.

    House price affordability will be getting on for 40% of the average wage by 2020 in most parts of the country that if you can save up and get a deposit to buy one.

    CATCH 22

    1. Anonymous
      August 3, 2016

      Ian – There must not be a second referendum and so long as there isn’t and for as long as it goes ignored, we are free from any moral obligation to obey this country’s laws, the EU’s laws or to pay taxes.

      So long as the vote on the 23rd June 2016 stands and the establishment ignores it then that establishment is unqualified.

      If a second referendum is forced upon us and we Remain then it will be taken as a wholehearted and enthusiastic mandate for ever closer union. There will be no stopping the EU afterwards.

  38. Richard Butler
    August 3, 2016

    John, everywhere I look, Remoaners are persuading the people a recession is upon us (Independent has a number of articles on this today), talking down sentiment, aiming to pile – up pressure to reverse Brexit.

    Their keystone argument is built on the fact business has no certainty of outcome.

    Please, please do what you can to bring forward a rapid Brexit and clearly defined strategy without further delay.

    1. Ed Mahony
      August 3, 2016

      ‘Remoaners’ – 75% of 18 to 24 year olds voted Remain. These are the ones who worry whether they will actually be ever able to own their own home. In the meantime, those who went to university have to worry about paying off student loans. Whist having this Brexit thing hovering over them. Meanwhile, their parents generation have done well in property and relatively lots more money stored up. They can afford to take risks over Brexit. But not their children.
      Instead of name-calling, why don’t you give people (young and old who voted Remain) some confidence and encouragement by providing a detailed plan how Brexit is going to work exactly (that’s a pretty normal, rational thing to expect).

  39. Richard Butler
    August 3, 2016

    Hesseltine is across the airwaves constantly stating people will change their minds on Brexit once ‘they get a good look at recession’. Mrs May, Fox and the others must get on a war footing right now and head off all this tsunami of bad news that could derail Brexit.

    I would suggest we leave the EU right now (Italian Banks are close to collapse and we will foot the bill as long as we are in), and take our chances by offering tariff free trade. The highly vulnerable EU cannot afford it’s trade with us disrupted.

    1. Anonymous
      August 3, 2016

      Brexit will be blamed for the Italian banks.

    2. turboterrier
      August 3, 2016

      Richard Butler

      Hesseltine and his like should be sent to the tower!!

      Hesseltine is just confirming by his actions why he was never going to get the keys to No10

      Time for him to ushered to his garden where he may well do more good

    3. Ed Mahony
      August 3, 2016

      ‘Hesseltine is across the airwaves constantly stating people will change their minds on Brexit once ‘they get a good look at recession’
      – Heseltine’s worth listening to. He started up and ran his own large business (unlike most Tories). He’s a strategic as well as pragmatic thinker. That’s what the Tory Party and this country needs.

      Reply I have run businesses in my time including a large quoted one, and I think he is quite wrong about this ,as he was notably wrong about the ERM and about the Euro.

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 4, 2016

        Apologies, didn’t mean to include you in ‘most Tories’. I respect you for your role in politics and business (I was thinking of other Tories, and unfairly generalising, in particular those using journalistic spin during the Referendum which just reminds me of the spin we had to endure under Labour).
        I’m a big supporter of Mr Heseltine although I don’t think he has been strong enough at all in calling for reform of the EU over the years. Same goes for Ken Clarke. (And would be a ‘big supporter’ of you as well if you weren’t such a strong euroskeptic, although still respect your views on it as you do put forward detailed arguments). Regards.

  40. DaveM
    August 3, 2016

    It needn’t be that difficult. Devo max to the three smaller nations. Stop referring to “reserved matters” and start calling them “UK matters”. Proper EVEL (by which I mean English only votes at EVERY stage) with the recognition that the Westminster Parliament is the English Parliament and that the three smaller nations have a vote on UK matters during certain sessions. Continue with the Barnett Formula on the understanding that the English Govt leads on foreign affairs but that instruments of foreign policy come from the whole UK: that’s why S, W, and NI have votes on such matters. Ultimately the Queen is the HoS for the UK, not the PM, so there is another level of unifying authority above that of Parliament. And a SoS for England – what’s the problem? You could even just rename the Home Sec in some way.

    But the real problem is perception. Has Mrs May uttered the word “England” yet? I’ve heard her say “Britain” a lot. Britain isn’t even a country. I have no issue with “the UK”. But it permeates throughout the establishment. A couple of recent headlines from the BBC:

    “Welsh Family Wins Euromillions”.

    “British Man Killed Fighting ISIS”. He came from Reading, so why not “Englishman Killed Fighting ISIS”?

    Let’s hurry up and Brexit, then sort out our constitution!!

  41. robpbyw
    August 3, 2016

    I am never quite clear as to whether John is “speaking for England” or “speaking for the UK”. There is a difference.

    The issue of “independence for Scotland” turns up in comments time and time again. When are we going to hear about “independence for England”? John himself bemoans the fact that there is no First Minister for England.

    Once we have left the EU we are going to need to find new friends. The best friends we have ever had are the three nations Canada, New Zealand and Australia. We should form a union with them but it doesn’t have to be an “ever closer union” and shouldn’t have the ambition of leading to nationhood. But an economic union of mutual friends who understand each other (and who have fought together). We should rekindle our relations with these countries and, in forming a union we should forget the notion of UK, that would send the wrong signal to the three countries (re-inventing the Empire and all that). We should split up into 4 nations. Wales is big enough to be a nation on its own (if Malta, Iceland etc are then Wales is). We form a union between our 4 nations and the three aforementioned ones based on culture, mutual respect and trade. (The Canada-EU deal looks as if it will fall throught BTW).

    We should NOT include USA, they are too big and too bossy. Yes, they have fought alongside us, but as Nigel Farage so rightly said (or was claimed to say in Private Eye) “The Americans always arrive late and claim victory.”

    We SHOULD have very strong links to USA of course, as always, and to EU, why not? Also to Iceland and Norway, our next-door neighbours.

    But a trade union between the four “home nations” and OZ, NZ and CA would work fine, span the globe and could be really effective.

    If the Republic of Ireland felt tempted to join they should be welcomed. They have also populated the three named outlying nations and there would be every chance for them to forge a closer link with NI, once the spectre of the UK is out of the way. The UK has a grand history, we are all rightly proud of that, but it has passed its sell-by date. A Federation of AngloCeltic nations would be a better model for the future.

  42. adam
    August 3, 2016

    IS IT UNIITING THE KINGDOM to point guns at us in checkpoints in the street????????

  43. Newmania
    August 3, 2016

    The decision to leave Europe has put the UK on a direct line to break up at a moment of the SNPs choosing , it has also had the effect of alienating most of the young and the productive entirely from the idea of the country weakening it perhaps fatally
    Brexit Britain is not a country I love

    1. libertarian
      August 4, 2016

      Britain doesn’t love Newmania either. so no problem there.

      Your post is drivel

  44. hefner
    August 3, 2016

    Whether we get Brexit or not seems to be an open question. What is quite clear is if the Overton Window had started to move to the right some thirty years ago, how much this process has accelerated over the last four months.
    “In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt” (B. Russell, The Triumph of Stupidity). We now have 51.9 % sure that Brexit can only be a success, 48.1 % only a failure. Which side leaves place for doubt?

  45. Original Richard
    August 3, 2016

    The Scots voted for the UK to remain in the EU.

    Not for Scotland to be an independent country in the EU.

    There is a big difference between the two.

  46. Jumeirah
    August 3, 2016

    We cannot do it all at once lest we undue ourselves in the process. Let’s get ourselves out of the EU first getting our Country back and securing for ourselves a strong position in world markets and drive the UK forward. Once done then we, England with London at its centre, begin the process of devolution from the rest of the United Kingdom with our own Parliament (English Laws by English MPs) and let the rest – Scotland to fully devolve in the way that they want, Wales to do the same and encourage N.I to join a United Ireland as the best solution for the Province. Defence of the Homelands could be one area where the English, Scots and Welsh Governments could work together on a strategic defence of the 3 Nations as a whole bearing in mind that we would no longer want or need to be a “policeman” for the world ( that task we would leave to others foolish enough to take that on). Economic Strength is more powerful than military capability as it is Economics that rules the world in the 21st century. The New Generation Trident (which the Scots do not want anyway) could be moved to England where it is better placed actually as the Lead Nation which we will always be. BUT if we are going to do this and as has been said at the outset we have to clear the EU first and build the United Kingdom into a position of strength in Trade worldwide so that England, Scotland and Wales together become strong each able to support themselves and stand on their own two feet THEN we go FULL ON into Constitutional changes devolving into 3 independent States. At that time we, the English, need to decide what we are going to do with the un-elected Peers in the House of Lords as it is already well past their bedtime.

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    August 3, 2016

    “Theresa May has had to go to visit the First Minister of Scotland, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany to discuss vital matters of UK national interest as well as of wider significance.”

    No, she hasn’t. She has CHOSEN to visit these people, most of whom wish the UK to join the EEA, an outcome that was not chosen by Vote Leave supporters and that would not be in the UK’s interests. The First Minister of Northern Ireland is a possible exception.

    This behaviour of Mrs May’s makes me doubt her motives.

  48. Chris S
    August 5, 2016

    Let’s say here what Westminster Politicians can’t say :

    The only obstacle to EVEL is Scotland. Wales and Northern Ireland don’t have enough votes or seats to make much of a difference and they are a little more aligned with English thinking anyway.

    Just for once let us put ourselves first, just like Scottish SNP supporters think they are doing :

    As an Englishman one has to doubt whether Scotland is of much value to England given the £15bn it costs English taxpayers to subsidise Sturgeon’s Socialist Paradise. What does England get in return other than abuse and obstructive politicians in Holyrood and Westminster ?

    In the long run England would almost certainly be better served by Scottish Independence, whether or not they are allowed to rejoined the EU.

    In the interim I would immediately offer Scotland total fiscal independence with an alternative of budget control from England accompanied by equal spending with England.

    Politically Sturgeon would almost certainly have no option other than to accept the offer. If she refuses, I would make clear that I would immediately repeal the Barnett Formula and alter the block grant to match that for England on a per capita basis.I would insist that she collects all her own taxes to fund a balanced budget. Any deficit could never be greater than that of England, again on a strict per capita basis.

    Some of the £10bn plus saved can be used to increase the block grant for Wales which to a small extent has suffered from under-investment under Barnett.

    I would also offer the same deal to the other home nations knowing they can’t afford to take up the offer.

    At the same time I would set up exactly equal devolved powers for England and Wales giving Wales the alternative of joining with England or the status quo. NI would remain as now.

    Thus we would have a fair and equal Constitutional settlement and Scotland could have a choice between full Fiscal independence within the UK or complete independence on her own with the vague possibility of readmittance to the EU at some point ( if Spain will allow it ).

    Nothing else would introduce fairness and at the same time neuter the constant carping from Sturgeon and her myopic supporters.

    Even faced with an end to fiscal largess and extravagance, I don’t believe the Scots will have an appetite for independence. If they do, the choice should be theirs alone to make.

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