EU political tensions

The last polls allowed before the Italian referendum point to a defeat for Mr Renzi and the government he leads. He wishes to concentrate power in a single chamber of the Italian Parliament and make it easier for him to direct reform and keep a majority in place for his proposals. He has promised or threatened to resign if the public do not back him. The idea behind his reforms is to achieve supply changes to help the Italian economy wrestle with the adverse monetary and fiscal background the Euro has delivered. Youth unemployment remains at crisis levels and general unemployment is far too high.

Meanwhile Italian banks remain at the centre of the Euro areas banking problems, with arguments over how much of the losses the bondholders and shareholders need to absorb, and how quickly the balance sheets of the weakest banks can be rebuilt. The absence of a strong government authority with clear views on how to resolve the banking troubles holds back sorting out the issues that afflict the Italian economy.

In France the centre right is close to choosing its champion for the forthcoming Presidential election. Polls and commentators take the view that either Mr Fillon or Mr Juppe will emerge as the new President, depending on who wins the run off contest for their party nomination next week-end. Current betting favours Mr Fillon. Most people expect a re run of past elections when Mrs Le Pen does well in the first round, only to lose by a substantial margin in the run off against whichever establishment candidate has emerged as the best placed to take her on in the second round.

As always I do not intend to intervene in an election in another country, and have no personal preferences on who should win. By common agreement Mrs Le Pen is likely to be an important runner in the election so I will tomorrow look at the programme she is likely to adopt for her attack on the Presidency, as this has received little attention so far in the general press. Current polls show her losing to either Mr Fillon or Mr Juppe, but polls can shift during a campaign and polls in recent elections have not been very accurate.

There are general concerns in Brussels that the current wave of support for parties critical of international treaties and supranational government could garner more support in any EU country facing an election next year.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Indeed the rejection of supranational, anti-democratic, cumbersome and hugely inefficient government is long overdue. My wife is Italian and I have a second home in France, my impression is that both countries are in fairly dire economic straights. The people there are just as against EU bureacracy as voters are in the UK.

    The French would surely be far better off with Fillon than the left wing, misguided, protectionist, economic policies of Le Pen. These are usually described by the BBC as being “far right” for some reason best known only to them.

    • Richard1
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Indeed good point. The Front National in France is a left wing party not a right wing one. It’s called right wing only because it’s anti immigrant. In all other respects le Pen is very left wing. I think we will see many similarities when JR analyses the FN’s programme with that of Corbyn and the mob of neo- Marxists who have taken over Labour in the U.K. Meanwhile M Fillon offers real hope to France if he carries through on his programme – he is the first properly free market – or real right wing – candidate ever to have been put forward in a French presidential election during the 5th Republic as far as I can see. All the other supposed right wingers have in reality been big government high tax interventionalists. Let’s hope M Fillon wins.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        “big government high tax interventionalists” – rather like Cameron and Osborne clearly were. May, Hammond & Rudd show every sign of being just the same alas.

        • Hope
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          High tax , high debt. 12 percent insurance premium hike, 100 percent increase since the Tories came to office. Another punishment for being prudent and sensible.
          £1.9 trillion debt by 2020 and balancing the books abandoned along with another pledge to stop QE. In 2008 Osborne lambasted Labour for doubling the debt, the Tories are far worse.

          When do we cut immigration and the associated costs with it? I presume the 119000 illegal immigrants lost by May must live somewhere, must get doctor treatment somewhere, must have children who need schooling etc. But Hammond still wants to give away £14 billion on overseas aid, of which £2 billion given to the EU to do whatever it pleases to do! HS2 still going ahead. What part of £1.9 trillion debt does Hammond and May not understand? Interest rates still punishing the prudent to help wealthy bankers, where is the fair part or the one nation? Military devastated, police devastated Nd prison health spars in a mess.

      • Nigel
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        The problem is, he would be highly unlikely to be able to implement it. He is promising to do away with 500,000 government jobs. Can you imagine the French unions accepting that lightly? The whole country would be brought to a standstill.

        • Hope
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          The tenant fee cancellation was another Miliband manifesto pledge stolen by Tories.nthete is no difference from the alleged Tory party.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Nothing even to undo Osborne’s appalling pension pot muggings.

        No vision at all just a continuation of Osborne in another suite.

        Debt going up to 90% of GDP too. A doubling of the national debt under the Tories.

        Yet still they claim to have money to piss down the drain on HS2, greencrap grants and Hinkley and put workers on boards and force gender pay reporting! All of which will harm the productivity Hammond claims he want to improve!

    • Mark B
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      These are usually described by the BBC as being “far right” for some reason best known only to them.


      It is part of the Left’s agenda to demonise the Right of Centre parties. Even Fascists and Nazi’s are labelled Right-Wing when they are not. Not too much mention about Stalin and Mao either.

      To paraphrase, George Orwell in Animal Farm. ” Left-Wing good, Right-Wing bad !”

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        The salami slice strategy as articulated by the Hungarian communist Matyas Rakosi-first you demonise the right as extremist/racist/etc,and slice it off,then you demonise the centre right similarly and then the centre and then the centre left until all you have left is the far left with fellow travellers acting as your opposition.

        That’s why you have a socialist-lite Tory party.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and many are taken in by this absurd BBC approach.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      France, and indeed any other country, would be better off if it elected politicians committed to liberty, peace and the free market. So, I agree that M Fillon is the best bet for the French.

      But this should not blind us to the fact that after Brexit and the election of Mr Trump it is clear there is a movement sweeping across the Western world. This movement is for nationalism but against globalism, immigration and political correctness. Is this movement left or right wing? Plainly it crisscrosses the traditional political divide but, although it is not sympathetic to the free market, most people will place such a populist agenda on the right. Opposed to this movement stands the politicians, the media, ethnic minorities, academia and the lawyers, what I will call the ancien regime. In its favour, is the general population.

      How will this movement affect Continental Europe in the coming year? Profoundly, is my guess. I would not at all be surprised to see Renzi go and Le Pen elected. But don’t forget that the Austrians are rerunning their election at the beginning of December. Last year the migrant crisis added 90,000 migrants to Austria’s population of 8.6m. That’s more than one per cent, or the equivalent of the UK taking nearly 700,000 people. Would you bet against Norbert Hofer being elected there?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–She is Nationalistic, pro borders, anti immigration and Establishment and wants to get out of the Euro so she is fine with me. I normally agree absolutely and completely with Nigel Farage but his views on the FN are the exception that proves the rule. As she said recently one cannot slide a cigarette paper between the FN and UKIP so that’s a bit of a puzzle. It’s straits BTW.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        I make the assumption that Farage distances himself from the Front National because, if he did not, the liberal loons in this country would have a field day.

        • Richard
          Posted November 24, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          This is also what I’ve always assumed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      What a totally pathetic statement from Hammond, we almost might as well have the appalling economic illiterate George Osborne back.

      Insurance tax up yet again to 12%, NI up too, other benefits taxed more, absurd interference in letting agencies, yet more taxes on businesses.

      He keeps going on about productivity but government is the problem here as usual, not the solution. It is government red tape, market interference, expensive green crap energy, over taxation, over complex taxation, bonkers employment laws, restrictive planning and the bloated incompetent government that is killing UK productivity. Can you not see this Hammond?

      Nothing on the absurdly high stamp duty rates, nothing on Osborne’s Inheritance Tax ratting, nothing of the too high CGT or the 45%. Nothing on cheaper energy, the green crap.

      No vision at all from the man, yet another dire Oxford PPE man I see. Very tedious with it too.

      He even has the cheek to claim:- We the Conservative Government are giving low paid employees a pay rise. No Hammond you dope, you are not, the companies that employ them are, and it will kill jobs, give companies less to invest and will make them less competitive.

      May and Hammond are just as bad as Osborne and Cameron. Lefty interventionist, tax borrow and piss down the drain, Libdim remainers.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Theresa May in her speech the other day said:-

    For we believe in free markets. They are the means by which we spread opportunity and lift people out of poverty.

    We believe in capitalism – the means by which we drive economic growth, putting people into work to provide for their families.

    And we believe in business – the entrepreneurs and the innovators who employ millions of people up and down this country – the basis for our prosperity.

    The Conservative Party – and the Government I lead – will always believe in these things.

    Why does she say these things? She clearer does not believe in free markets at all. Today it seems we will even get Hammond idiotically intervening in preventing agents charging fees to tenants. She and the Conservatives in general, intervene all the time hugely damaging free markets and productivity all the time.
    They damagingly distort nearly everything they touch. Areas such as housing, employment laws, health care, education, transport, workers on boards, gender pay reporting, energy, banking, long term care, the legal profession are made hugely less efficient (and far less productive) by massive government interventions rigging the markets.

    Yet she has the temerity to say she and the Conservatives believe in free markets! As bad as the lies we got from “I am a low tax conservative at heart”, Eurosceptic Cast Iron. Does she even have a clue as to what free markets are?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      Plus of course the huge distortion of the media, with the absurd preferential funding of the BBC (the lefty, pro EU, green crap propaganda outfit) by the TV Licence Tax.

      Not even a mention of energy in May’s speech. This is an area hugely damaged by governments rigging of the energy market and pushing up energy prices to about double what they should be.

      This driven by their totally unscientific, climate alarmism religion which has done so much to kill jobs and productivity in the U.K.

      • Excalibur
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        I see that Donald Trump, with a single stroke of cleverness, has circumvented the MSM by issuing his statements through the medium of a video on social media. Hence, no distortions or lies over what he said.

        He used a meeting of executives and tv anchors, summoned to what they thought would be a press conference, to tell them to their faces “We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media…..”

        Truly a new age has dawned.

        • Mitchel
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          The clique around him seem to be operating like a Leninist vanguard circumventing the establishment and its toadies and speaking direct to the proles.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        I notice that in the US Mr trump has by-passed the MSM by making a policy announcement on YouTube. They treated him abominably and perhaps this is an indication of his future attitude to them.

        Many of our Conservative leaders and politicians could take a leaf out of such a book and stop prostrating themselves in front of the BBC and SKY. And when they do appear make sure they challenge the bias and insults.

        • Timaction
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          Excellent idea!

          • Timaction
            Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            In fact did anyone else watch the ITV news this evening to see the biased Peston on his coverage of the Autumn statement? The same Peston who claimed to Farage last week that the Brexiteers never stated we were coming out of the single, when they all had!!
            A scruffy man who is not fit for purpose and should have stayed at the BBC instead of infecting the ITV with his nonsense.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the most unfair fees charged to tenants arise from Osborne idiotic taxation. The extra 3% stamp duty tax for properties to be let and the fact that landlords cannot deduct their legitimate interest costs. These alone cane put about 15% on to rents.

      What is needed for lower rents is more supply of homes to rent. This will come from relaxation of planning and scrapping the green crap, OTT building regulations, plus more competition in the banking sector. Not from moronic interventions in how letting agents can charge for their services.

      The government is restricting the supply with their bonkers agenda and tying up the industry in yet more damaging red tape.

      • Original Richard
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        LL :

        “What is needed for lower rents is more supply of homes to rent. This will come from relaxation of planning and scrapping the green crap, OTT building regulations, plus more competition in the banking sector.”

        No it will not whilst the UK continues to have a net immigration figure of 330K+ each year.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Indeed cutting the demand and increasing the supply is needed to get cheaper housing. Lower taxes and less red tape would help too. He has just introduces loads more!

        • Mark
          Posted November 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          Rather, not while we have ZIRP and QE that encourages BTL investment because other assets offer a poor return, and both feed into house prices.

          • Timaction
            Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Exactly. Where else can a saver or an investor get decent returns in this financial climate!

      • Dennis
        Posted November 24, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        “What is needed for lower rents is more supply of homes to rent.”

        No – what is needed is a big reduction in population which solves most other problems in the UK as well as being fairer to the rest of the world.

        At last someone in Japan has recognised this –

        While Italy’s government promoted a misguided and ultimately counterproductive campaign to boost the country’s fertility in September, the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, recently declared its population reduction to be an opportunity. With a birth rate of 1.4 births per woman, Japan has both a shrinking workforce and the developed world’s largest proportion of people over 65 – more than one-in-four of the population.

        “I have absolutely no worries about Japan’s demography,” Abe told Reuters. Mr Abe describes Japan’s situation as an incentive to boost productivity, including through the use of technologies such as robots and Artificial Intelligence. Mr Abe aims to stabilise Japan’s population at 100 million people by 2060, about one-fifth below the current level.

    • Know-dice
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink


      “Today it seems we will even get Hammond idiotically intervening in preventing agents charging fees to tenants.”

      The agents will charge the Landlord and the Landlord will put up the rent…vicious circle which will end up with tenants paying more…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Also we will get landlords giving up and thus have less supply of property to rent. Damaging productivity again.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and the system will be less efficient that way too.

      • Mark
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        …and more money going on Housing Benefit…

    • stred
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      As a landlord with experience of investing 24 years, I am pleased to hear that fees charged by letting agents to tenants just to view a property are to be banned. These are against the interest of the landlord and actually restrict the market when trying to find decent tenants. The idea that a potential customer should be charged for the privilege of viewing the goods is unfair. These agents are paid by the landlord to market the property, not to restrict and rake off extra fees.

      I tried using agents who claimed to have tenants ready and waiting. They did not. When they thought they had the appointment in the bag, they sent more paperwork and lists of things to confirm than the local authority. When I accepted tenants, supposedly checked by an agency, they turned out to be some of the worst. Friends who have been using agents to let their property have found their tenants to be consistently unreliable and sometimes dishonest.

      There is some evidence that agents make additional money by charging builder to be on their list of contractors. This also rips off landlords as it puts up costs.

      The best way to keep down rents and avoid voids is to avoid agents and have tenants happy to have a better value and service. Our landlord’s association has also suggested that the deposit rules are so expensive to operate that we may as well charge no deposit and take an extra months rent in advance.

      Another good way to cut rents would be to apply HMO licensing to large houses and not small shared houses, which the governments’s own report proved were no more dangerous than family houses of the same size.

  3. Ian Wragg
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    There are more than general concerns in Britain that the government is purposely getting embroiled in a legal swamp to prevent Brexit.
    Now the ECJ is putting its oar in.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      What has the ECJ done?

      • ian wragg
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Yesterday one of their spokesman said the Supreme Court may have to defer to the ECJ as of course “Supreme Court” is a misnomer.
        The ECJ is the final arbiter of UK law.
        He also said that the ECJ will be involved at every stage.
        Turkeys and Christmas comes to mind.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      A much simpler explanation is that the Cabinet are all at sea and have not got a clue about: the Customs Union, the EEA, EFTA, the Single Market and the fact that inside Europe, Brexit is a detail, not the main event.
      So instead they build a huge bureaucracy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Have you offered to advise David Davis on those complex matters? He’s still recruiting staff, you could put yourself forward.

        • Mark
          Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          Given the expertise you regularly demonstrate here, you should.

  4. Richard1
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing that governments in Europe are still in such a pickle over how to deal with insolvent banks more than 8 years after the financial crisis hit. A simple focus on bank leverage, no bailouts by governments and encouragement of disintermediation through light regulation would solve the problem. They should have read this website in 2008!

    • Mark B
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      They should do what Iceland did. Wind-up the bad banks. Pay depositors their monies back. Write-off the bad debts. lock up the banksters.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink


    • Andy
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      It is because there are no easy solutions and the Euro has created many of the problems. Eventually chickens come home to roost.

    • Javelin
      Posted November 25, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      The Italian election – fixing the “demand” side of the economy – is better understood as changing the parts of the economy that would otherwise be fixed by changing the FX rate. In other words what we bankers called “internal deflation” – or wage cuts.

      Heard that before – yes it’s the global elites driving down our wages so they can make more profits for themselves.

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I see that out of various promises Trump made when campaigning which he’s now immediately going to break one that he’s confirmed he’s going to keep is the one about withdrawing from the TPP trade agreement, which by extension implies he will not sign the EU TIPP one either. Juncker and co need to be addressing the implications of that rather than grandstanding on Brexit.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Don’t fret, TTIP is actually of little economic significance and it will be no great loss if it doesn’t go through. While the economic significance of CETA is close to zero, as far as the EU is concerned … I don’t know about TPP, maybe I should see if there any similar projections for the economic benefits.

  6. Mark B
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    . . . polls in recent elections have not been very accurate.

    I bit of an understatement that. I’d go as far as to say that the polls are rigged. But that is just a personal view.

    Italy is indeed in a mess. What bothers me most is, once the government have all the necessary powers, what will it do with them ? If it is such a good idea why are people not liking it ?

    • Mark B
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink


      Good morning 🙂

  7. Bert Young
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Each day I read with considerable interest John’s blog ; I respond in the way it evokes my interest . For reasons I am unaware my responses are often not shown . Managing the site must be a tedious and time consuming task and what is shown , or , not shown ought to reflect a good cross section of opinion . Is my view a reasonable one ?; should I just give up ?.

    • Crossroads
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      To Bert Young
      No Bert, dont give up. I don’t know what your views are but I’m sure it’s not personal, just everything can’t be on.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, why is the UK government remaining silent while Nicola Sturgeon uses public resources to interfere with a matter which is very clearly reserved to the UK authorities, namely the UK’s relationship with the EU? Has she been given some kind of express permission to do this, and if so by whom and on what legal basis? Likewise, why is the UK government allowing her to spread the false impression that a second independence referendum would be within her gift, and she could decide to “call” it whenever she chose, when both they and she know that legally this is not the case, as in fact she implicitly acknowledged when she joined Alex Salmond in signing the Edinburgh Agreement for the last referendum? Why is she not being put in her place as the head of a devolved government on a similar constitutional level to an English county council?

  9. margaret
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Its a collective psychology ‘ the end is nigh.’ The paradox is that for all, there is an end. Do you think that in realising their own mortality they become morose and forget how to live? Perhaps the wrong side of their brains dictate which sends things into reverse, perhaps they don’t realise that all want to survive and are not totally in the hands of bankers. Even those hiding their notes under a mattress and living in squalor have made it . It’s their way .

    I am thinking about a second home in Spain or France to hang on to an extra few years where sun features more in my life. I am single though and am I at the other side of the spectrum where positivity is dominant and expectations of an improved life over fed by the media programmes such as ‘home in the sun.’ Whilst the bankers and grey suits are squabbling over interest rates , commodities and sci fi money many are wondering about their fiat money and the rest are living and spending.

    • Crossroads
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      A second home ? Help the poor instead.

      • margaret
        Posted November 24, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        I pay 40% tax and work daily helping those on benefits for a low wage.

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Also off-topic, JR, do you know whether the UK government is laying any plans to disrupt the free movement of people within the EU after the UK has left?

    I only ask because in the absence of any such intention on the part of our government it is difficult to make sense of this comment from Verhofstadt yesterday:

    “The freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and of people are the basic element of the European Union. We will certainly never accept whatever development where these four freedoms are put at risk”

    I can see that warning could have made sense* about this time last year, when Cameron was embarking on his pretence of “renegotiation” with a view to continuing our EU membership on supposedly improved terms; but since then we have voted to leave the EU, and as far as I’m aware the UK government is not saying that because we don’t want all of the “four freedoms” the 27 countries staying in the EU should abandon them.

    Personally I think they are daft to want to continue within the unfettered freedom of movement of persons; but if it that is what they will still want among themselves within the somewhat reduced territory of the EU after we have left then that will be their concern, provided of course that they don’t try to drag us into it as well.

    * Insofar as anything that comes from Verhofstadt ever makes sense.

    • Chris
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Verhofstadt is saying this surely because he fears that if we get concessions on freedom of movement but the facility to still operate within the single market (as another newspaper claimed yesterday was the government’s latest stance) then other remaining MS will see that flexibility is possible and accordingly demand curbs on freedom of movement i.e. a basic alteration of one of the pillars

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        But why should they want to deny themselves the huge economic benefits of unfettered free movement of persons? We British may be foolish enough to make that economic sacrifice, because we are a load of unreconstructed xenophobes and Little Englanders – apart from the Scots, of course they are far more liberal and welcoming to foreigners – but why should the more progressively minded people elsewhere in the EU want to throw away that massive economic advantage? I would have thought they’d say “Well. if the Brits don’t want to use this human capital, all the more for us”.

        #irony #sarcasm # satire

    • ian wragg
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Denis, together with Merkels open ended immigration, the free movement is designed to dilute national populations.
      We are being displaced in our country in the hopes that the new rainbow coalition of voters will be enthusiastic to support supra national government.
      The Tories are true believers because no effort is being made to reduce non EU immigration which is under the governments control.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


    • Mark
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      My understanding is they are working on modifications to Schengen which will mean that freedom of movement isn’t quite so free in practice. That’s leaving aside the planned charge for anyone wanting to enter the Schengen area, which of course means that movement has a price and will no longer be free. I don’t think this has occurred to the comedy writers at the BBC, who seem to think that the possibility of an interim agreement with the EU is an odd thing to plan for, when it transparently is not: the EU will never get their act together fast enough to produce the range of arrangements that will emerge after we have left and they grow tired of the consequences of their petulant politicians.

  11. Eudiots
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    News today says the EU is going to debate “Putins Useful Idiots” and formulate plans which it expects the UK Parliament, one way or another, also to discuss and think seriously about. ( ! )
    In essence, it is an attack on all those not in love with the EU..Putin, Trump, Farage, probably JR, the Brexit Campaign, Le Pen, and every movement and,every person with a brain.
    Despite brave scowling faces presented to the Brexit Minister yesterday, they were in fact very brave. All the chief powers in the world and potential ones, UK, USA, Russia, China, India even Brazil, are not happy with the EU. Anti-EU forces in France, Italy, Austria, Germany and elsewhere in the EU are gathering strength.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      On the periphery,Bulgaria and Moldova both elected pro-Russian nationalist presidents last week,causing the Bulgarian PM to resign,Turkey has revived talk of joining the Sino-Russian Shanghai Cooperation Organization instead of the EU(and China has already said it looks favourably on such a move)with Iran,India and Pakistan also interested,a number of the satraps appointed to turn Ukraine westwards appear to have bailed out and the ICC seems to be crumbling with Russia following a number of African countries in removing itself.

      Things fall apart;the centre cannot hold!

  12. Antisthenes
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    The establishment have decided that we the ordinary people are nothing more than wilful and naughty children. Who continually thwart their ambitions to improve our lives and create their progressive Utopia. We have the irritating habit of wanting to live outside the constraints that their ideology and expert opinion wish us to live within. In our best interests of course not because it makes governing us that much easier. So the answer is to change the rules and institutions so that we cannot challenge them so easily and if we do make it easier to ignore us. That is the tyrants way and they fail to see that they are copying it. So before it is too late we must vote these people out of power and restore democratic government. That is for the people and by the people and the establishment is returned to serving the people.

    • Chris
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Worth reading Lord Ashcroft’s findings on this, in his newsletter this morning:

      “If you don’t listen to the voters, someone else will: the real lesson of Trump
      Nov 23, 2016 08:50 am

      “You’d think the world had come to an end. Anguished commentators have reacted to the US election as though it heralds the end of liberal democracy as we know it. The result was undeniably dramatic and will have consequences we can’t foresee. But I think the explanation for it is rather more prosaic: ………

      In just over a decade of research, I have made something of a study of how losing political movements react to defeat. Though circumstances differ, most have one thing in common: they claim, at least inwardly, a moral victory. This is particularly the case for parties that have been ejected from government. They comfort themselves with the notion that the electorate did not properly appreciate their achievements in office, failed to understand what was at stake, had been bamboozled by a partisan media, and did not realise the horrors that lay in store for them under the incoming administration. It follows that the voters will come flocking back just as soon as they recognise their terrible error of judgment – and that in the meantime, the party need only hold firm to its previous positions, though perhaps with a bit more presentational pizzazz.

      A more extreme form of this condition is the belief that large numbers of voters have not simply been misled, but have quite deliberately behaved very badly indeed.

  13. Mark
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I noted the boorish reception given by Barnier and Verhofstadt to Mr Davis over the past couple of days. Of course, neither of them has any mandate to negotiate anything at all under Article 50 – and it’s possible that that will remain the case even after the UK triggers it. I also noted that Verhofstadt thought there was only a window of about 15 months for negotiations: he would be right if he is hoping to persuade the UK to stay and the other 27 to accept that – and yet I see no sign of anything other than cheap insults from these Eurocrats sucking up larger pay packets in self-appointed roles not authorised in accordance with Article 50.

    Perhaps someone will tell them they have no authority, and perhaps the Council of Ministers will give some thought as to alternatives who might be better at representing their interests in the forthcoming negotiations.

    Meantime, the Brexit Department needs to prepare a line for a diamond hard exit, granting the EU absolutely nothing, as an interim measure.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      One can read the EU treaties, or one can just swallow the misinterpretations of journalists; but of course the problem is that the first option is inordinately time consuming and tedious compared to the second.

      Within days of the referendum Donald Tusk appointed a Belgian, Didier Seeuws, but little has been heard of him since then.

      “Belgian diplomat to head EU’s Brexit taskforce”

      etc ed

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      As I understand it, after the Article 50 letter is sent, we will be negotiating with someone appointed by the Council of Ministers. Not with the EU Commission or the EU Parliament. The Commission can advise the Council and the Parliament will have final vote to give, or not give, approval. Why the UK Government doesn’t point this out to them, I just don’t understand.

      • Mark
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t understand why our media don’t point this out to the public: instead they seem to have been lauding Barnier, Verhofstadt and Juncker. I think the time for the government to point it out is when giving notice under Article 50 – they should set out clearly what follows in accordance with the article.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      A diamond hard Brexit seems rather unlikely under ex(?)remainders May and Hammond.

      Indeed even a soft one looks quite unlikely. They just do not seem up to the jobs. Both are dreadfully pedestrian and tedious, they also still seem to be using Cameron’s and Osborne’s broken compasses.

      • zorro
        Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        This is becomong more and more obvious. After Verhofstadt’s performance, my only question to him after offering generously to trade freely as now and enforcing our national sovereignty refarding our border security and natural resources would have been window or aisle seat?


  14. James Neill
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    You know the old song “you took a right time to leave me Lucille / four hungry children and a crop in the field” well that’s the song that comes to mind when I think about Brexit along with all the rest of the impending European turmoil that is about to be unleashed- and to think Mr Trump who is also about to pull up the drawbridge?. Mr Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee – and then our David Davis had so little to say about yesterdays ‘coffee’ talks with the EU was- ‘it was fun’ he said- well I just don’t see it myself.

    At this time there is a hard right dictatorship in Turkey and a dictatorship in Russia-both of these regimes were voted in by popular support but so too was Hitler and Mussolini in their own time – and as for the Hitler/ Stalin pact of 1939- well there is no need to remind anyone of where that all ended up- its the way I see it!

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Incidentally, anybody who thinks staying in the European Economic Area or EEA could provide a satisfactory compromise between those countries whose political leaders are fanatically devoted to a quasi-religious dogma of four inseparable freedoms, on the one hand, and a country which really only wants three out of the four, on the other hand, should take a look at the Preamble to the EEA Agreement, page 5 here:

    “DETERMINED to provide for the fullest possible realization of the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital within the whole European Economic Area … ”

    Is it realistic to suppose that the likes of Verhofstadt would go along with the UK staying in the EEA for economic convenience but patently without any proper commitment to the essentially political principle of unfettered freedom of movement of persons, and in fact with a sneaky plan to then abuse one of the articles in the Agreement, Article 112, to restrict the immigration of people into the UK from the other EEA countries, albeit with only “some limited control” as some advocates of that plan have admitted?

    Staying in the EEA, the so-called “Norway option”, can only be for those who are not too bothered about unlimited and uncontrolled mass immigration and don’t think it’s worth risking any economic cost at all to take back control of our immigration policy, not for the great majority of the UK citizenry who do want immigration controlled.

  16. William Long
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    If the concern in Brussels that you describe in your concluding paragraph is real, why do the Eurocrats, Barnier, Verhofstadt, Tusk, Junckher and all their merry men, not do something to mitigate it by making some move to meet the clearly genuine and justified worries of the electorates of the countries they are supposed to serve? They have of course no ethos of service in their make-up, but surely light must soon dawn that if they go on as they are it is only a matter of time before they are swept away. If as at present, it cannot be by the ballot box, it will be by less savoury means and the worry must be that this might cause little trouble to the consciences of the leaders of some of the anti-EU parties.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    There appear to be attempts to frame the Jo Cox murder as a ‘terrorist’ event. To label this as a Brexit killing.

    Terrorists respond to organisations demanding that they kill.

    No-one on the Brexit side wanted this killing to happen.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Not only are they pushing to destroy Brexit because:

      – ‘no-one knew what they were voting for’

      – ‘people were decieved by a slogan on a bus’

      – ‘the law is against it’

      Now they are saying that Brexit has a terrorist dimension to it and Remain has a martyr. I am as shocked and angered by the Cox killing as anyone else.

      This is explicit that a ‘terrorist’ responds to demands to kill by an organisation. The Remain side are now playing fast and loose with the term ‘terrorist’.

      This is unacceptable. Thomas Mair was a lone nutter.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      On top of Newmania types trying to idiot-fy us there are the PvL types trying to demonise us with their readiness to use the word ‘xenophobia’.

      Now they are trying to criminalise us with a false implication with terrorism.

  18. Spinflight
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink


    Why hasn’t Sir John Parker’s national shipbuilding strategy been released?

    It was supposed to be before the Autumn statement.

    I hope this isn’t going to be buried as there are important questions regarding the UK’s already tiny surface fleet shrinking further.

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I saw President elect Trumps video message and thought those were messages I could support. Indeed the stuff about stopping the import of cheap workers to undercut locals would be a brilliant political message here.

  20. agricola
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    You are witnessing the laboured breathing and death throes of a political construct that is not fit for purpose. It is facilitating those historical aspects of Europe that it’s founders were intent on eliminating, but they failed to anticipate the ambitions of an array of second class politicians who created what you see today. We are well out of it and it’s potential for causing even greater damage to the lives of Europeans.

  21. ferdinand
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    As you say Fillon is probably the likely winner of the Presidency but so far he has not suggested leaving the EU which is driving the support for Marine Le Pen. This issue could upset the result.

    • Mark
      Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      It may prove much closer than many suppose. It was easy to assume that all sorts of people would hold their noses to vote for Juppé over le Pen, but I think that French socialists will find it difficult to vote for Fillon, who has been branded “Thatcherite”.

      Of course, it would be very entertaining if le Pen won, and won a subsequent referendum to leave the EU before we exit. The EU Commission would implode, and the EU with it. We would be in the forefront of thinking about a post EU world.

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 24, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Yesterday I saw a French magazine front page featuring Fillon with a Thatcher wig superimposed!

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic again, but very briefly about the “£350 million lie” business:

    The Treasury report that I mentioned yesterday only had estimated outturns for our 2015 gross and net contributions to the EU budget, on page 14 here:

    Which is why it was better to use the 2014 figures, which were as final as such numbers can be when there is always the possibility of small adjustments being made for several years afterwards.

    Now it turns out the 2015 estimates were about £2 billion too low:

    pushing the net contribution up from the £8.5 billion often quoted by the Remain side to £10.4 billion, and the gross contribution from £17.8 billion to £19.6 billion, which works out as £377 million a week.

  23. Chris
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Not worth waiting to trigger Article 50, top EU lawyer claims:
    Forget Article 50. Britain can IGNORE Lisbon Treaty and quit the EU NOW, top lawyer claims
    BRITAIN can ignore the Lisbon Treaty and quit the EU immediately without even activating Article 50, an international law expert has claimed.
    Ingrid Detter de Frankopan said Theresa May and her Brexit ministers were wasting time getting bogged down on Article 50 details – and claimed the UK could leave the 28-country bloc today if it wanted to.

    The veteran Swedish lawyer told MoneyWeek she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the unnecessary delays in formalising Britain’s European divorce.
    She said: “Despite my best attempts, everyone has been deaf to the painstakingly simple course for the United Kingdom to take: don’t trigger Article 50 at all.

    “Second rate lawyers are misleading everyone in the country by insisting that, in order to leave the European Union it is essential to ‘trigger’ Article 50 in its entirety….”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      When we – that is, our government and Parliament – approved the Lisbon Treaty we agreed inter alia that if any member state wished to leave the EU they would use that procedure, so that is where we should start. If they muck us about, as seems to be increasingly likely, we then tell the world :

      “We agreed to use the procedure laid down in the EU treaties, but the other EU governments and the EU institutions are not negotiating in good faith and so we are cutting the process short by leaving next month. We regret any disruption this may cause to the rest of the international community, but we have done our best and tried to negotiate a smooth withdrawal in the face of their intransigence and now we have come to the end of that road.”

  24. Chris
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    More encouraging news from Dominic Raab and others, according to D Express:
    ‘Inevitable’ Britain will quit EU’s Single Market and customs union after Brexit, MPs told

    MPs were today told it is “pretty much inevitable” Britain will quit the EU’s Single Market and customs union as part of Brexit. Known as a so-called ‘hard’ or ‘clean’ Brexit, taking the UK out of the bloc’s Single Market and customs union would free Britain up to strike trade deals with non-EU countries. It would also end the power of EU judges to rule on UK legislation and release Britain from the bloc’s freedom of movement rules.

    Tory MP and Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab, a former justice minister, suggested it was the “logical conclusion” to end the UK’s membership of the Single Market or customs union in order to meet the Government’s ‘red lines’ for Brexit.
    Speaking at the House of Commons’ Exiting the EU Select Committee, Mr Raab asked a trio of expert witnesses whether they agreed with his assessment…..”

  25. ian
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Tension hear about article 50 is all wrong as i keep saying, we have all ready left the EU and there is no need to send article 50 because it does not exist, all that is wanted is a letter from the MP with date of leaving on it, anything else is BS and the date should read 1st jan 2017.

    Article 50 is just writing in a treat, it not something you tear off and send, it mean send us a letter with the date on it you wish to leave, that’s all,
    all they are doing is stitching and conning the people as usual and they are all in on it.

  26. John Archer
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    My apologies. My comment at 1:52am was posted under the wrong heading.

  27. a-tracy
    Posted November 25, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Your government did us a disservice when they gave up the rolling presidency for this following year, we now have Malta threatening us with how tough they’re going to be on us if we leave, telling us how damaging a divorce on us it will be. It’s an absolute joke. People wonder why abused women stay with domineering men that just repeat their abusive behaviour time after time, well just look at how the British people are being treated right now, with “insurgents” like Mr Blair, John Major!, I’m surprised Peter Mandelson hasn’t popped back up.

  • About John Redwood

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

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