Things I do not like about the single market

My time as Single Market Minister turned me into a strong critic of the single market we were meant to be creating. I had accepted the verdict of the 1975 referendum where people voted to stay in a common market, and did my best to help bring it about. The more involved I became, the more I realised the EU model was more bureaucracy and government than market. The Single market programme was used to extend EU power and control over more and more areas of business and life, often without helping business to compete or succeed.

Practically every item we were asked to negotiate caused problems to UK businesses. I was regularly lobbied to put off, amend or water down the proposals by large companies. A good week’s work was successfully lobbying other member states and the Commission to make sure something adverse did not happen. Various proposals were kept in limbo for many years, as lots of member states agreed with us they were not desirable. Other proposals were more difficult to arrest, as a majority of member states would go along with them. The careful construction of a blocking minority took time and effort.

The whole structure was based on the misleading idea that you need a comprehensive set of law codes regulating so many facets of life to be able to trade with each other. As far as I was concerned all I wanted to complete the common market others had voted for was the acceptance that if a product was of merchandisable quality in one country, the home country, it could be offered for sale in the other countries in the Union. Customers would make up their own minds as to its quality, desirability and value for money. Instead the EU wanted to control in minute detail not just the products, but also the workforces, environments, transport systems and much else vaguely related to producing the goods. Soon the Union also wanted a defence policy, a security policy, a foreign policy and all matters that a state undertakes.

When negotiating there was an assumption shared by most that the EU did want an agreement. The Commission had hundreds of ideas of things it wanted to control and regulate, and it kept pushing them forwards to get them ticked off its list of things to do and powers to assume. It exploited the weakness of member states in the structure. Only the Commission could make and draft a proposal. The Commission could use the rotating Presidencies to push different draft laws, depending on the preferences of each Presidency country. It was one way traffic towards ever more EU power.

The Commission was not interested in repeal or amendment of past laws that did not work well. When pressed for repeals, they usually came up with the idea of creating a large portmanteau Directive in place of lots of more limited ones, so it could both announce various repeals and still end up with more power overall. As the figures show, there was no increase in the UK growth rate in the years after we joined the EEC, and no improvement in the growth rate after they completed the Single market in 1992. Indeed, the longer term UK growth rate fell after 1972 and again after 1992. That was not surprising given the nature of the law making programme they jokingly called a market. Common EU policies like the Fishing and Agriculture policy were damaging to us, and the dear energy policy has made the EU less competitive. The European Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Euro of course conspired to depress growth for many member states.


  1. Lifelogic
    January 6, 2017


    There is of course no area of life that bureaucrats would not like to control, regulate, restrict and tax more. They are after all in the, largely parasitic, business of huge over regulation. It is politicians and governments role to control these economically destructive tendencies and to actually to act in the interests of their voters and citizens (or we now the Queen’s “subjects” again?).

    A role they have hugely failed to perform. The politicians so often seem just to be the puppet actors of the bureaucrats. Only ever remotely listening to the electorate (paticulary the 80 in the private sector) just before elections. Then ignoring them again for five years.

    May and Hammond see to be exactly these types. Spewing out yet more destructive and lefty red tape and yet more taxation.

    When will we get the blue passports back and our independence bank holiday? Never under T May I predict. Gender pay reporting, “equality”, workers and boards, sugar taxes, HS2, Hinkley and other hugely damaging things is her misguided agenda.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      Excellent article in the spectator yesterday.

      Well that plus the insulation they tend to have from the real world. This is as a result of money and their family background and circumstances. They go from prep school to public school to their lefty PPE, Law or Modern History degrees.

      Largely educated throughout by pro EU, art graduate, greencrap believing, BBC think lefties.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 6, 2017

        Only a few of the brighter ones such as JR, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Dominic Cummings emerge without being infected.

    2. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      the 80% in the private sector I meant.

    3. Ed Mahony
      January 6, 2017

      Bureaucracy can be good!

      The Germans love bureaucracy and they’re the third biggest exporter in the world by a sizeable margin over Japan.

      Without a certain amount of bureaucracy, you can’t grow from a small to a large company. Start-ups hate bureaucracy, and rightly so, but if you carry on with this mentality, you’ll find it really hard to grow your company from a start-up into something more.

      We in the UK are often good at start-ups, but often woefully bad at creating international brands. ARM technology is a great example of this. We let the Japanese take over, building the brand up to an international one under Japanese control.

      So there is good and bad bureaucracy. It’s just about being pragmatic about when to have bureaucracy and when not, and also about the right type.

      What is good bureaucracy? It’s simply about having plans and checks in place so that you can expand your company into something bigger where you don’t have the direct control you would like but you have to pass it on to others in order to help expand / run the company in new areas of business.

      Of course, you’ll always find bad bureaucracy mixed with good bureaucracy but part of the job of a successful CEO is to keep a lid on this, but not to get rid of bureaucracy overall, otherwise his/her company just shrink into something only he/she can directly micromanage.

      1. Ed Mahony
        January 6, 2017

        On the other hand, perhaps you could argue that the problem with the EU is that there isn’t the strong CEO in place to monitor bad bureaucracy (versus good bureaucracy). That’s a strong argument to bash the EU with. But to bash bureaucracy as you do without differentiating between good and bad bureaucracy is a weak argument i think.

      2. libertarian
        January 9, 2017

        Ed Mahony

        Wrong as normal

        It doesn’t require bureaucracy to build a big company. I have a multimillion business that is growing at approx 20-25% per year and I have no bureaucracy and I have recently caused an even larger competitor with a large bureaucracy to have to make massive changes in order to stay competitive with me.

        You haven’t got a clue about business

        ARM was founded by an Austrian and built into a multinational large scale business ( with no bureaucracy) and only 4,000 employees.

        Who is this “we” that “let” the Japanese take over ARM? You mean the owners of the business ( shareholders, in a publicly quoted company) sold it to the Japanese company soft bank for £24 billion.

        I guess you never heard of our major international brands then Ed?

        You know like

        Shell, BP, Barclays, Glaxo Smith Kline, Tesco, BAT, Rio Tinto, Diageo, Astra Zeneca, BH Billiton, SAB Miller, HSBC, Anglo American, BT , Sage etc etc etc

  2. Taurus
    January 6, 2017

    I guess MPs will be heading for London. Some will have been plotting the next move in thwarting democracy. Carrier pigeons will have been sent avoiding MI6 desk bottom sitters. Journalists will have sourced informers to the Supreme Court. Will they won’t they,- will have been worked out over a gin and tonic ( with herbs..not for the masses ). We, they think, will know our Fate in January over Brexit. Blind-folded to their own Fate.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      When are these judges going to finally toss their coins (sorry rule as to “the law” as each judge sees it) and come up with the expected 7 to 4 against the government?

      Are they paid per hour they think about it?

  3. Lev Uppercut
    January 6, 2017

    Of course Poland, the Baltics and southern EU-Europe will seek to dump their over-produced apples and other agricultural produce on someone not the UK. Well Russia is still there. Tiresome for their goods to be silently shipped via Belarus and even associate member Ukraine ( for a price ) to Russia.
    The Single Market is and was a myth. Massive blue chip companies have ONE market, completely open and free: the Single Bribe Market!
    Big companies in the USA and in the EU are in the thick of it…just look to the internet.
    We are shadow boxing in the UK

    1. Mitchel
      January 6, 2017

      Perhaps not in apples,but agricultural output in Russia is booming and targeted for further development.Depending on what the surpluses are,they may have to be dumped elsewhere!

  4. Lifelogic
    January 6, 2017

    The more one considers the people on Cameron’s honours list (almost all given to the losing “remain” side and with virtually none for the winning “leave” side) the more it and he stinks to high heaven. Has the man no shame at all?

    I suppose he did at least have the decency to resign, unlike the even more toxic, punishment budget threatening, IHT ratter and economic illiterate George Osborne.

    1. Hope
      January 6, 2017

      It was not decency that forced his resignation, quite the opposite, it was his desire not to send article 50 dragging out the process perhaps in the hope of a second referendum. When he smirked by Hollande, as he made threats to our country, you saw the traitor he was. Haldine in BoE confirms economy is best in the world and the political scare stories were just that. So is May now going to sack Carney for being political in his speeches and forecasts as an Osborne cheer leader? After all it demonstrates quite clearly Carney, like Osborne, Clegg, Clarke, Cable and co, was talking down our economy. Why isn’t the positive news about our economy being trumpeted loudly by our media? Time for radical change at BBC.

      1. Sir Joe Soap
        January 6, 2017

        Yes, it’s SO embarrassing.
        Carney-caught between spiking the economy to prove himself correct, and doing nothing to let it perform well against his predictions.

        1. Hope
          January 6, 2017

          Interest rates lowered punishing the prudent on Carney’s incompetent judgement that was based on political not economic sense. Carney should be sacked, no ifs or buts about it.

      2. turboterrier
        January 6, 2017

        @ Hope

        Time for radical change at BBC.

        It is well past it’s sell by date and needs to be bought kicking and screaming into the new modern world. The licence payers deserve and demand a much better service.

      3. Lifelogic
        January 7, 2017

        The BBC is just infected with second rate, pro EU, climate alarmists, lefty, bloated state, NHS trusting, art graduates.

        They cannot really help it, they are just not clever or rational enough to think things through for themselves. They are wrong on nearly every issue they ever address. This from economics, the EU, the NHS, pay controls, ever more red tape, the greencrap agenda, climate alarmism, the size of the state, fiscal policy ….. it is as if they just follow the daft EU/Cameron/Clegg/state sector line on every issue.

    2. Mitchel
      January 6, 2017

      Decency?Not what I would call it!

    3. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      So May is to make he speech on Monday. Let us hope she finally abandons he “I am a submarine and never say anything of substance” approach and says something sensible and sets out a sensible direction of travel.

      Lower taxes, clean brexit, bonfire of red tape and cheap energy.

      Perhaps when she visits Trump she can get a couple of his energy advisers to explain how the physics and the economic of energy works. Then she might abandon the absurd green crap agenda.

      One which results in some people in Ireland heating unused barns (as they get more grant income than the fuel they are wasting). Tax borrow and piss down the drain everywhere you look.

      1. turboterrier
        January 6, 2017

        @ Lifelogic

        It is the same in dictatorship Scotland a large number of my clients have taken the Bio mass option and are laughing all the way to the bank. If its funded they want it.

        I still find it incredible that there is only a 100 odd politicians at Westminster can really see the whole green project for what it really is. It is costing us the energy bill payers £ billions.

        I read that Trump is going to take them on in the USA, well lets get a Trump type person to expose this cam for what it really is

        1. Hope
          January 6, 2017

          Bio mass needs to be brought to an end ASAP, the run off from these stupid crops cause floods! This is in turn increases our taxes and community charges. Dopey govt wake up! Leadsom Get on it .

        2. Lifelogic
          January 7, 2017

          If you give money away you tend to get a long queue. I missed out on that one am I too late now?

      2. Sir Joe Soap
        January 6, 2017

        Interested to hear your comments on Geography as a serious subject for study…
        One can see why science, technology and medicine are worthy of university study. PPE, history, classics interesting, but not much use in pushing the world forward.
        Geography, so far as I can see, is neither the subject of interesting nor useful folk, stuck somewhere between geology and economics but actually neither of these.

        Reply What a narrow view. Of course geography is a good academic subject, with overlap to economics, geology, physics, etc.

        1. Lifelogic
          January 8, 2017

          It is not so much that there is anything wrong with the subject of Geography or indeed many other subjects, it is more a question of the sorts of people who are drawn to study it. They were probably not quire up to Oxbridge maths, physic, medicine or engineering and so opted for Geography or perhaps Land Economy or Archeology.

          Geography is surely better than PPE though, look at the dire list of people who studied PPE on wiki.

      3. fedupsoutherner
        January 7, 2017

        Turbo and Lifelogic

        I second that. I have said before on this site that there are farmers in Scotland heating barns 24/7 with enormous boilers using shed loads of wood pellets and bulks of timber to claim the subsidies which are put onto all our energy bills. Businesses are operating throughout the year with their windows open to create a heat loss to meet the fuel requirement for the subsidies. I can’t wait for Trump to expose the corruption involved in all this as it would seem is going to happen with the first minister in Northern Ireland

    4. getahead
      January 6, 2017

      Or was he pushed?

  5. Lifelogic
    January 6, 2017

    Brexit call was Bank’s Michael Fish moment admits BoE chief economist in the Telegraph today.

    Only one of many such errors from the BoE and their economics experts surely the banking crash was a rather more significant error? They still seem to think the UK banking sector is working just fine and lending freely (circa 0.2% interest if you lend to them yet anything up to 150 times this if you actually want to borrow).

    Why are Carney and the rest of them still in their jobs?

    1. Original Richard
      January 6, 2017

      “Why are Carney and the rest of them still in their jobs?”


      You have to question whether they are now working to improve the UK’s economy or to improve their reputations for economic forecasting.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 7, 2017

        The latter.

    2. Will
      January 6, 2017

      Sadly they’re still in the drivers seat, but this national event has proved them – as it has so many others – of being the total incompetents that we thought they were. Brexit’s the first step of a long journey to bring Britain back from the dead, not as an Empire, but as a dynamic, self-governing and active democracy. Little pain for some gain I’m hoping.

      1. turboterrier
        January 6, 2017

        @ Will

        Little pain for some gain.

        For a lot of us we would take real pain for the eventual glory that will surely follow.

        No guts no glory

    3. StevenL
      January 6, 2017

      Folk like that see themselves as ‘leaders’ and they see their ‘leadership’ as indispensable to us little folk. They believe it provides us with ‘certainty’ or at least ‘direction’ so we can make decisions.

      Leave winning went against their leadership and therefore introduced uncertainty. So in their worldview we would naturally all put our decisions on hold or even cancel them. Hence there would be a recession.

      Economists and forecasters who believe credit and land prices cycles are the main driver of economic behavior keep being proven correct. Fred Harrison wrote to the Blair government in 1997 and warned them there would be a crash in 2007.

      But this isn’t a fashionable view among our ‘leaders’ who like to think they and their ‘vision’ is what shapes the economy. In other words they are narcissists.

  6. Lifelogic
    January 6, 2017

    Frazer Nelson in the Telegraph today says:-

    “Mrs May is in the enviable position of being a remainer who is trusted completely by Brexiteers”

    Well hardly, I and many others do not trust her not one thou why should we. Only months ago she was lying to voters that they has control of their borders (even while in the EU) through Schengen, This in order to try to deceive them into a remain vote. Furthermore after a long period (and a poor and essentially dishonest record) as Home Secretary. Her decisions and her sense of direction since becoming PM have been dire, left wing, interventionist and totally misguided.

    Hammond, her poor & remainer choice for Chancellor is, it seems so far, more of Osborne’s failed tax borrow and piss down the drain, central wage control, sugar tax, IHT ratting agenda just continued. I do not think she is trusted at all by sensible Brexiteers.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      Rather more sense from Allister Heath though.

      Nor most of our politicians alas.

    2. Anonymous
      January 6, 2017

      The great fix is about to befall us. We will have had nearly a year of BBC/Sky softening up by then.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 7, 2017

        I suspect you are right under May.

    3. Ron Hector
      January 6, 2017

      The first thing she did was rule out PBI system [which was in campaign] Why ?. I also think she is being secretive to avoid backlash from Leavers. I dont think Maybe has any intention of delivering a clean brexit.

      1. forthurst
        January 6, 2017

        PBI creates entitlement where none should exist.

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    January 6, 2017

    I’d never guessed that Germany would follow through with what you describe in this post. My seven years in both Holland and Germany in the 60’s/70’s revealed nought. Both countries appeared to be rather neat and tidy as far as I could see..many jobs and very good housing. It rather guided me to the EEC…fooled! The damage the EU has done to its southern states is unforgivable and will cost greatly and no doubt we will have to pay them out of that….if ever? The episode should,I hope, cause a Trump-alike here…eventually?

    1. Peter D Gardner
      January 6, 2017

      I find it hard to understand why the majority in all the damaged states nevertheless want to stay in the EU/euro.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 7, 2017

        They fear devaluation of their savings and income, loss of subsidies and the disruption. They are generally wrong in the long term they would be better off out.

      2. libertarian
        January 7, 2017

        “I find it hard to understand why the majority in all the damaged states nevertheless want to stay in the EU/euro.”

        Because the vast majority of people fear change. They would rather go down with the ship than take a risk.

        The reason that 17.4 million in the UK opted for change is that they had nothing to lose , so disenfranchised by the neoliberal establishment and not having any democratic system to speak of to effect change this was their one and only chance. They took it.

  8. Nig l
    January 6, 2017

    Presumably even if you trade with it under WTO rules ones products and services have to comply with whatever rules, standards etc they come up with so not certain of the point you are making? The Comission is not going to change so what us your solution?

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      January 6, 2017

      Only the goods sold into that market @nig1.

      Most companies in this country do not sell into that market so will no longer have to abide by those rules thus saving themselves large, unnecessary compliance costs.

    2. Peter D Gardner
      January 6, 2017

      The point is that a country belonging to the Single market must apply all the EU’s Single Market law to all its business whether or not they export to the EU (only a minority of UK business export to the EU) as well as accept free movement and the jurisdiction of EU law as enforced by the ECJ on anything the EU deems applicable to the single market, which can be almost anything.

      Access as opposed to membership allows a country to negotiate any of these and other terms and conditions.

    3. Edward2
      January 6, 2017

      Manufacturing currently has to comply with many different standards and regulations and laws to sell their products into every country in the world.
      Including our home market and the EU.
      It is something they are quite used to doing.

    4. Peter D Gardner
      January 6, 2017

      PS. WTO rules means no special agreement is required at all, although exporters must comply with the rules for the products and services they export – but not to stuff exported elsewhere, which must comply with the rules applicable elsewhere.

    5. agricola
      January 6, 2017

      In trade you always endeavour to supply what the customer wants whether he is Japanese or within the EU. The solution is to leave the single market, and the customs union which are bad for the UK due to all their obligations which ultimately destroy us as a sovereign state. We then offer the EU tariff free trade or trade under WTO rules. No negotiation, they decide what they want.

    6. Lifelogic
      January 6, 2017

      We import off them than they do off us, it is thus in their interest more than ours to be sensible we have the upper hand. True the EU rarely act rationally. But if they are not it does not really matter, we can adjust production to the home or other markets, set up subsidiaries in the EU area or tax their imports as needed.

      Business is very used to getting round absurd red tape and regulations.

    7. Chris S
      January 6, 2017

      Our future most certainly lies outside the Single Market and the Customs Union. If there was any way of remaining in we would be subject to FOM, the European Court and not be able to make our own trade deals.

      Why Mrs May can’t simply come out and say that I don’t know. We could, perhaps, take a leaf out of the Multinational book on “How To Do Business Internationally.”

      Pick one relatively poor EU Country and and offer them lots of aid money to improve their infrastructure etc, as long as the contracts go to British businesses.
      ( Don’ t forget there’s loads of spare cash available in our aid budget). We could also train a lot of their best people at our Universities for free as well.

      In return, they simply have to take British goods and approve them for sale in their country and hence throughout the EU.

      I’m sure there are EU rules that are designed to prevent this but if the French were in our position that would not bother them in the slightest.

    8. ian wragg
      January 6, 2017

      Whichever market we trade with we have to comply. The cars manufactured in the UK I believe from my friend have 17 different specs, the EU being only one of them.
      There is nothing to fear from leaving the EU and a lot to rejoice at.
      Do you really want to be ruled by the likes of Junket and barn-door. I don’t.
      Every regulation and diktat has been designed as another power grab by Brussels.
      Each Treaty has been a further consolidation of EU power and the public have been consistently lied too. Just a tidying up exercise was a favourite response.
      Then came the EU constitution, firmly rejected so repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty. By now the cat was out of the bag and the great unwashed woke up.
      The people who are rebelling are now referred too as populist in a derogatory manner.
      Having the temerity to reject the Grand Project in unimaginable to our thinkers and betters.
      Well I have news for you, this isn’t going to end well for Brussels so they had better break out the tin hats.

    9. Sir Ivan
      January 6, 2017

      Mr Redwood could not persuade the EU to change when the UK was a member of it. But as soon as the UK leaves, the EU will welcome exports from Britain with open arms, unconcerned that the UK is no longer committed to the EU’s rules.

      That is his solution.

      You might think this is fantasy land. I could not possibly comment.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 6, 2017

        Perhaps you could comment on the two-way nature of our trade with the rest of the EU. If they decided not to welcome our exports to them, what do you think could/would/should happen about their exports to us? For example if they slapped a tariff on a car imported from the UK, what do you think would happen about the three cars being traded in the opposite direction? Do you think we should say “Fine, you have decided to reinstate tariffs on cars from the UK but we will still let you import your cars into the UK tariff-free”?

        1. Sir Ivan
          January 7, 2017

          Mr Cooper, you don’t understand how cars are made. Cars aren’t made in one country anymore. They are made in complex chains that go across borders. (Google “UK car industry fears effects of Brexit tariffs on supply chain” for refs). If the UK leaves the EU there will be tariffs on each component as it crosses the EU/UK border – and WTO laws stops the EU agreeing to waive tariffs for the UK alone (and vice versa). A massive cost to producers! Result – car manufacturers will simply pull out of the UK altogether, so we lose thousands of jobs and British consumers will find their (imported) cars are a lot more epxensive too because of the tariffs

          That’s what “taking back control” actually means. We lose business

          Reply No, there are not tariffs on components passing through a supply chain! I used to lead a company that made pumps for diesel engines. Our supply chains stretched worldwide, and there were no special problems with suppliers from outside the EU.

          1. Denis Cooper
            January 7, 2017

            I do understand that. But I also understand that while our car industry is very successful in exporting outside the EU, where it produces a trade surplus, it is not so successful on trade with the rest of the EU where there is a massive trade deficit.

            “WTO laws stops the EU agreeing to waive tariffs for the UK alone (and vice versa).”

            Chapter and verse on those WTO laws, please; and if there are any such laws how do you think they square with the WTO objective of increasing international trade?

          2. libertarian
            January 7, 2017

            Dear Sir Ivan,

            I’m afraid its you who dont understand. There are no tariffs on components only finished goods.

            You dont seem to understand that European car makers already source their components from non EU countries . So even if there were tariffs they couldn’t impose them on the UK without imposing them on French, German and Italian car makers too under WTO rules that you identify

            I’d give the Knighthood back if I were you as you aren’t very clued up on trade

      2. Anonymous
        January 7, 2017


        The UK could not persuade the EU to change, when it was a member of it and the PM was trying to tell them that a major nation was at risk of leaving for the sake of a few minor alterations.

        (We have not *left* the EU btw.)

        1. Anonymous
          January 7, 2017

          So it’s hardly surprising that JR is unable to change the EU either.

    10. oldtimer
      January 6, 2017

      You are correct. The difference under WTO rules is that tariffs will apply as well as the EU regulations to sales to the Single Market. But they need no longer apply to intra UK trade, thus enabling the removal of those that serve no useful purpose for those c80% that do not sell to Europe. Angela Leadsom has already identified changes that will be useful to the UK farming industry.

      For examples of the impact of EU regulations I recommend you watch Brexit, the Movie produced and directed by Martin Durkin. It is probably still accessible on line.

    11. libertarian
      January 6, 2017


      For anyone in business or trade the point is quite straight forward

      1) 92% of UK business DOES NOT trade with the EU but still has to comply with ALL the rules whilst we are in the EU

      2) All exports to any country have to apply to the rules of that country, however you are not forced to comply even if you dont want to sell to them

      3) Most standards in the world are globally agreed standards under WTO/UN/International Agencies

      4) The so called Single Market doesn’t actually exist, there are DIFFERENT rules in different countries within the EU

      5) The EU “single market” is the worlds slowest growing trade block

      6) The EU “single market” prevents negotiating bilateral free trade agreements with other countries

      7) 80% ( EIGHTY ) of UK economic activity is in the service sector, there is no EU single market in services

      The solution is easy, simple , effective and lucrative

      Leave the EU, the the “single market”, leave the customs Union, in lieu of any better deals trade under WTO rules.

      EU regulations have cost British business more than £125 billion

    12. Will
      January 6, 2017

      Being in the EEA gives us the best of both worlds – an independent voice in global regulators (WTO, IPO, ILO), whilst unfettered access to the single market, and having to adopt less than a quarter of their regulations. Takes us out of political union, which poll after poll shows was the chief concern for Leave voters (it was certainly mine), and acts as a stepping stone to a fuller brexit which can’t be accomplished in 2 years. I like John, but hard Brexit is wishful thinking. I’m not talking as a eurosceptic here, I’m talking as a realist.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 6, 2017

        Not if we want to regain control of our immigration policy, rather than having the present open door policy imposed upon us.

        From the preamble to the EEA Agreement:

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

        Are we really determined to do that for the free movement of persons?

        No, we are not, and so we should not sign up to it.

      2. David Price
        January 7, 2017

        Such a half-way position would be far too conflicting and tempting to those of weak character in government to rebuild a bridge to a full EU entanglement. Much better to make a clean break of it and treat with countries in Europe as we would with any country elsewhere in the world.

        It wouldn’t hurt for it to be made crystal clear to our civil servants and politicians who exactly they work for and are responsible to. A more robust treatment of those who behave counter to that responsibility would also be welcome.

  9. Lifelogic
    January 6, 2017

    As you say:-

    “Instead the EU wanted to control in minute detail not just the products, but also the workforces, environments, transport systems and much else vaguely related to producing the goods.”

    There is nothing they would not try to regulate and control is they can do. It gives them power, influence and creates pointless well paid jobs for them.

    But May and Hammond and their bureaucrats are just the same. Pushing central national wage controls, sugar taxes, gender pay reporting, workers forced onto company boards, enforced pensions, a bonkers “equality” agenda, daft vanity projects, absurdly damaging intervention in the energy markets, a bonkers (near state monopoly) NHS …..

    1. Robert Christopher
      January 7, 2017

      Eg, how do lower powered kettles save the planet? It will just take longer to make a cup of tea, or just use two kettles!

      These EU rules are imposed to subjugate us. But not any more.

  10. The PrangWizard
    January 6, 2017

    It is vital we get out of every element of the EU. If we are connected in any way, if we do not have absolute sovereignty, we will be subject to future Directives, and slowly but surely drawn back in. The Remainers will rejoice. There are many more of them in positions of influence and power who ought to be removed from their places where they are subverting the will of the people and the will of parliament.

    There must be no compromise, no surrender, no excuses.

  11. Iain Gill
    January 6, 2017

    And they want and do control immigration policy, not just with free movement from evermore countries, also with obligations to provide visas incorporated into so called trade deals with other parts of the world.

  12. The Prangwizard
    January 6, 2017

    Isn’t it time Carney went back to Canada? Like on the next plane out. Not only incompetent but attempting to subvert Brexit.

    1. Iain Gill
      January 6, 2017


      Anyone in his position should be telling the politicians first and foremost to stop running the national debt up constantly

      And a few other home truths like taxing foreign nationals less than Brits is against the interests of this country

      I could go on

      Another set of characters where “draining the swamp” to use a Trumpism would work wonders

  13. David Cockburn
    January 6, 2017

    Nelson commented a couple of hundred years ago that an Englishman always lost in negotiation with a Frenchman. True then, still true today, that’s why we should not negotiate but make a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

    1. Mitchel
      January 7, 2017

      True.Any influence our much vaunted diplomats exercise overseas tends(craven subservience aside) to be bought – and twas ever thus as this quote from Prince Baryatinsky,Russian viceroy of the Caucasus in the mid 19th century,illustrates:-

      “England displays its power with gold.Russia which is poor in gold has to compete with force of arms.”

      Trouble is,the gold is running out (and Russia has far more of it than us these days!).

  14. Peter D Gardner
    January 6, 2017

    Careful, Dr Redwood, some might take this as UK having more influence inside the EU than outside. Certainly most of Cameron’s arguments sounded like UK must stay in because it would help the EU. So did Obama’s. Dead right that the EU needs UK influence to stop it being as bad as it would be without Britain. However, on the really important issues, Britain will have more influence as an independent nation through soft power than if it continues to be constrained by EU rules. Also it is important that at least one European country continues in a different mould so that there is diversity, and hence competition of ideas, practice and trade, by which all may select and adapt the best.

  15. Mark B
    January 6, 2017

    Good morning.

    Let us hope that this post makes it to these page this time. My last, about the true nature of tariffs was censored.

    It was one way traffic towards ever more EU power.

    Three words: EVER CLOSER UNION.

    It was in the Treaty of Rome right from the beginning and people like, Enoch Powell were way ahead of the game on that one.

    . . . . dear energy policy has made the EU less competitive.

    And the UK Government ‘Gold Plated’ them with the Climate Change Act which, is still in force today despite the Conservative Party now having a majority and being in power for over a year. Not good.

    Of course the so called, Single Market is not a market. Much like everything else EU, it is a cover for a new form of government they are trying to create. The thing is, we have been in this so called market so long that untangling ourselves will not be easy, and it was designed that way.

    1. forthurst
      January 6, 2017

      The Climate Control Act is part of Agenda 21(UN SavethePlanet) which reaches us via the EU.

  16. agricola
    January 6, 2017

    Your perception ,that all the delving into the minutia to create a single market was in reality a step by step progress to a United Stated of Europe, is correct. The creation of the Euro was a parallel concept. Control the currency of sovereign states and you have control of everything without having to ask the people. If you think about it, most of the states of Europe are not so long steeped in the concept of democracy that the people noticed. In the UK it has been a many centuries old process so we have noticed and done something about it.

    Has it achieved harmony in Europe, has it hell. A UK or other country bought car used in Spain for more than six months has to be re-registered as Spanish. Likewise you cannot drive on you UK/EU Driving Licence in Spain for more than six months, you have to change it to a Spanish/EU Licence.

    I applied in June 2016 and still await the arrival of this Spanish/EU Licence. On asking my lawyer why it has taken over six months when my EASA Pilots Licence only took ten days her reply was enlightening. Drivers are nothing in Spain she said , but pilots are gods. Nice to be elevated to the status of a deity, but I won’t get carried away. I do not look forward to being stopped by the Plod in the UK and having to present them with the paperwork in Spanish to explain my lack of the bit of plastic.

    It is hardly surprising that the way the single market has evolved has led to stagnation, the ever certain goal of socialism.

    1. Mitchel
      January 7, 2017

      @Agricola.”If you think about it,most of the states of Europe are not so long steeped in the concept of democracy that the people noticed”

      I would replace “democracy” with “independence”-or at least add the latter.It is looking increasingly likely that what many of these former bits of the Soviet/Russian,Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires actually wanted was not so much western values as national independence.

  17. Bert Young
    January 6, 2017

    John’s insight to the job he had gives exactly the impression I had of the years I was exposed to the EU bureaucracy . Central “advisers” were more interested in designing controls than they were in learning about real life situations ; if they decided that a %age increase in wages ought to exist – it was legislated ; whether profit and circumstances warranted such an increase did not concern the bureaucrats . Maggie recognised and saw the dangers of this type of regulatory control and she fought hard against it . German discipline was thought to be the model for the rest of the EU.

    Year after year there was no follow up to ascertain what the results of bureaucracy were and year after year their accounts were refused “approval” by independent auditors . The Brussels club was there to be kept alive and intact come what may . Those of us who were able to get away from this background did so .

  18. rick hamilton
    January 6, 2017

    As I understand it the Commission takes more or less the same position in the structure of the EU as the old Politburo of the USSR, with the EU Parliament rubber-stamping their regulations just like the Supreme Soviet. The power exerted by the member governments is via the Council of Ministers which has exactly the same title as the Soviet one !

    I have asked this time and again to no avail, but why on earth did our governments sign up to treaty after treaty, dragging us into Ever Closer Union with this bureaucratic, socialist monster ? Thank heavens the good people of the UK smelt that very large rat and voted ‘enough’ as soon as they had the chance.

    1. Mitchel
      January 7, 2017

      The other similarity with the USSR was how the Bolsheviks sought to dilute the power and influence of by far the largest constituent of the union-Russia-by creating autonomous and semi-autonomous republics within Russia(not that they had any real power as such).Russia,one and indivisible under the tsars,became a mass of entities(even now there are 85 constituents of the Russian Federation).EU regionalisation policy?

  19. Robert Petulengro
    January 6, 2017

    Mr Redwood, you can write a statement like this on the “Single market” only if you have a ready answer to these two questions:
    1. What is the difference in real time between the first pillar of the EEA – the European Union run by an incompetent and secret committee – and the European Free Trade Association which is not? Please do write an exposition of the difference. We all need it. Myself, I really do not know the answer, although the pointers which I have seen myself show the two are very different.
    2. How much of the modern – yes, modern – regulation is now done internationally – Codex, ISO, AEOs etc – and how much is left to the EU? I do not mean the times when the EU rubber stamps – or gold plates – international standards.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 7, 2017

      For a start it has to be recognised that EFTA under the 2001 Vaduz Convention is not quite the same beast that it was originally when the UK helped to set it up through the 1960 Stockholm Convention.

      “The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was established by a Convention signed in Stockholm on 4 January 1960. The main objective of the Association was to liberalise trade among its Member States, and the Convention thus contained basic rules regarding free trade in goods and related disciplines.”

      “The updated EFTA Convention, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and entered into force on 1 June 2002, in parallel with the EU-Swiss Bilateral Agreements. It included several significant changes, of which the most important was the integration of the principles and rules established between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in the EEA Agreement, and between the EU and Switzerland in the EU-Swiss Bilateral Agreements. Important new provisions included the free movement of persons, trade in services, movement of capital and protection of intellectual property.”

      “Resolved to deepen the co-operation instituted within the European Free Trade
      Association, further facilitating the free movement of goods, aiming at the progressive attainment of free movement of persons … ”

      “ARTICLE 2


      The objectives of the Association shall be …

      … (c) to progressively liberalise the free movement of persons … ”

      I don’t see how the UK government can conscientiously sign up to that when its stated policy objective is exactly the opposite, namely to reimpose restrictions on the free movement of persons.

  20. margaret
    January 6, 2017

    Surely if you make a large portmanteau directive to cover many other laws, yet not repeal others there would be much contradiction. Furthermore it would have the possibility to work the way the one with the most power wished.

    I can see the point of making working conditions and Health and Safety an area for strict legislation , although it hasn’t exactly worked in this country either . I am thinking of the Morecambe bay tragedy and other examples.

    Situations I imagined happened, are now ringing true. We have seen it in our smaller daily lives and there must be only so many moves in trading, employing people and gaining power which there are and they seem to be replayed at many levels.

  21. Leslie Singleton
    January 6, 2017

    Dear John–Brilliant Article today–This Single Market baloney continues wearisome, especially the Remainiacs’ extra special twaddle about the vote’s being to leave the EU but “not the Single Market”. As well a man after leaving and divorcing his wife saying he hadn’t meant to give up his marital rights (such as they are these days). There may be a better analogy I dunno. I wish somebody would respond to the point that the EU accounts for 12 % of our GDP so if (cannot be far wrong?) we lost say half of that, that would be only 6% to make up from the sum of the cessation of contributions, income from tariffs (if we are forced to impose them as seems likely) and potentially unlimited new trade with the fast-growing rest of the world. As always I am happy to be educated because I see no contest and that’s without even considering such as not wanting to be part of the ineluctable political “More Union” that many on the Continent want. I accept that there is a risk, at least as things stand, of there being a potentially grim period before we are able to get cranked up, given that we have to wait to start till we are out. That is lunacy in itself but I doubt it would last more than a year or two and we should think for the long term.

  22. Qubus
    January 6, 2017

    Off topic but, for me at least, very topical!

    This morning for the first time, I tuned in to Talkradio. On it I read a banner stating that Amber Rudd floated the idea of getting firms to list the number of foreign works that they employed as being intended to discredit Brexit.
    JR, can you or anyone else substantiate that? JR, I appreciate that you will have to exercise your usual discretion. Is there no depth to which the people will sink?
    Never did trust the woman myself.

  23. Anonymous
    January 6, 2017

    A single market is all that our people thought they had joined in 1975. That we will not be allowed to revert back to a simple trading relationship is not the Brexiters’ fault.

    It says a lot about the sinister nature of the EU.

    By the way. No Europhile can justify freedom of movement nor denuding parts of the EU of its youth with the aged left behind. To a true Europhile the EU must be one country run for the benefit of all in that country. Instead this is to the benefit of a couple of capital cities with scraps thrown to the provinces. It is no coincidence that pro EU people are ageist too – perhaps that caused the generational fissure in the referendum. Remainers have been working hard to portray themselves as youthfull, lithe, fresh and enlightened – yet the truth is that EU is run by stale and cynical old whiteys.

  24. turboterrier
    January 6, 2017

    Your very good post today confirms my thoughts for a long time.

    The EU is just another name for Agenda 21.

    As with all good cons the more that sign up for it the more credible it becomes.

  25. John Finn
    January 6, 2017


    I take your point about the frustrations of single market compliance but is there any evidence that compliance with WTO requirements will be any less cumbersome. I’ve been told we’ve been sheltered from the difficulties of WTO trading because the EU have been acting on our behalf.

    I’m getting a bit concerned we really are jumping from frying pan to fire and doing it in the dark.

    Reply We are members of the WTO and have to comply with it. It is much more business friendly than the EU

    1. Leslie Singleton
      January 6, 2017

      Dear John Finn–What the WTO is NOT is some strange invention designed to give us a hard time–the rest of the World and his wife is in it and using it satisfactorily all the time

    2. John Finn
      January 7, 2017

      Reply We are members of the WTO and have to comply with it. It is much more business friendly than the EU

      Thanks for that, John, but it doesn’t fully answer my question. I accept WTO rules may be easier to comply with than those of the EU. However, I am concerned that leaving the EU may mean we need to re-negotiate “schedules” with non-EU trading partners because any previous agreements had been negotiated by the EU.

      In a nutshell, the question I am asking is this:

      On the day after we leave the EU will our trade with the Rest of the World (not the EU) continue seamlessly?

      Reply Yes. There are ready made schedules we can adopt. We are currently trading without an up to date legal schedule anyway as the EU has failed to deliver one for the 28 members.

      1. acorn
        January 7, 2017

        JF, you should frame JR’s reply, it will feature very large if we end up with WTO option. It is unlikely that all counterparties to current EU28 trade agreements, will settle for the same tariffs with the UK, that they had to settle for with the much larger EU. Hence, the EU will always expect to obtain a better deal from those same counterparties, than the much smaller UK may get. The EU has not been slow at putting the squeeze on counterparties with its “rules of origin” proof requirements.

        1. John Finn
          January 7, 2017

          Hence, the EU will always expect to obtain a better deal from those same counterparties, than the much smaller UK may get.

          Hmm. The UK will be smaller but not insignificant and it’s worth remembering the UK will not be part of the EU so the EU will be reduced.

      2. John Finn
        January 7, 2017

        Reply Yes. There are ready made schedules we can adopt. We are currently trading without an up to date legal schedule anyway as the EU has failed to deliver one for the 28 members.

        Thanks for that, John. Much appreciated.

  26. fedupsoutherner
    January 6, 2017

    Dicatorship just about sums up what the EU is all about. Shame on our politicians that kept us in and still want us in.

  27. Antisthenes
    January 6, 2017

    We are very bad at thinking through all the consequences of our actions relying on the merit of the intention and if we feel that is sufficient then assume the result will be also. Finding to our dismay that more often than not that is not what occurs. The result is not only bad but comes with very nasty side effects. That is how the EU and the single market came into being. As that is how everything comes into being it could be suggested that it was not that bad. Normally no because we have evolved safeguards to counter the worst effects of our acts which is the democratic process. Where those if in sufficient numbers are not happy with the results can force them to be changed.

    However that is not true of the EU as it was deliberately set up not to be accountable in the usual democratic way. Relying instead on technocratic control as it was believed that would be the only method that would assure it’s success, it’s continuance and the realisation of all the founders aims. The latter two appears to be meeting their criteria if sometimes tenuously but the former failed almost from the beginning. The unintended consequence of course although arguably the founders may well have anticipated it and accepted it as a necessary evil was to build an institution that contained a bloated bureaucracy with dictatorial powers. Whose sole aim is to fulfil the aims of the founders for which they are only too happy to do. To do because they believe fervently in the EU project and because it is a means from which they reap considerable rewards materially and in prestige. Very dangerous motives when those so motivated have so much power.

  28. turboterrier
    January 6, 2017

    I think it will become so much clearer in the coming months that Teresa May sadly is not up to the task ahead. Having a very cautious remainer un-elected as PM does not give belief and confidence to those who voted out and hope for it to all fall flat on it a*** big time by those who voted in.

    If she doesn’t be seen to have achieved a good result as expected by the referendum vote then it will be pay back time in 2020.

    It’s time to put the kitten heels away and put on the steel capped boots and start to kick
    a*** big time and make it happen. When she took the job on she knew what she walked into, so no disgrace hold up your hands state” it is too much for me” and step aside and let a dedicated leaver with experience take the helm for the rocky way ahead.

    The long term future of the party could well hinge on getting the right result, that’s if the EU has not hopefully imploded by then.

  29. Atlas
    January 6, 2017

    The EU, its customs cartel and its single market – Out of it all for me !

    1. Know-Dice
      January 6, 2017

      Yes, Cartel and all the lack of market competitiveness that goes along with that.

      Strange, companies can’t legally form a monopoly or cartel without being challenged, but it’s all Ok for the EU

  30. Denis Cooper
    January 6, 2017

    Off-topic, I see the Lord Speaker is saying that the Lords will not sabotage Brexit and so there is no need to plan any moves to overcome their resistance.

    “Some politicians seem intent on creating discord between the House of Commons and the House of Lords”, he says about those who have contemplated such moves.

    Well, maybe before criticising elected politicians for that he should have words with an certain unelected politician who publicly urged that the Lords should block Brexit:

    “With no constituents to fear and a conviction that remaining in the EU and helping it reform would be a much better option than plunging into the unknown, they would defy the whip, which cannot inflict the same pain as it does in the Commons. The Lords would be resoundingly “not content” and could remain a blockage to the legislation for up to one year.

    Much might change in that time. The EU might even concede that the UK was not the only country which needed to see some curbs on free movement and make changes. Then their lordships might argue that there was a good reason to call that second referendum and hope for a very different result.”

    So can we take the word of the Lord Speaker that the Lords would not attempt this?

    I don’t think so. As Baroness Wheatcroft helpfully explained in that magazine article back in August, the whole point of the principle court case has been to give the Lords the opportunity to defy the Commons and obstruct the triggering of Article 50:

    “David Pannick QC, a cross-bench peer, is leading on the court case which could culminate in a battle between the Lords and the Commons.”

    We can’t afford to be mucked around on this, and Theresa May should be drawing up a list of hundreds of new peers who could be relied on to vote through a Bill, which should be written so that it brings to an end all the vexatious cases in the UK courts and makes sure that there can be no reference to any foreign court.

  31. hefner
    January 6, 2017

    A very thoughtful contribution to the FT (website) from Mr Redwood.

  32. Newmania
    January 6, 2017

    Not one syllable of this will change if these functions are kept by the UK and it will decimate exports of all kinds especially services. So there is that

    I was listening to as much as I could bear of Michael Gove last night making things up as usual. He was questioned by an equally peculiar Jeremy Corbyn supporter and it struck me how much of the ordinary middling pepes have no Party to vote for . On the one hand the Peoples popular front of Judea ( splitters) gibbering on about how terrible banking and capital is and on the other what appears to be sixth former with strangely grey hair conducting a posturing school debate.
    Is that really it?

    The Fabian society made a very interesting comment about the state of Labour the other day which was that labour had no chance of winning but equally, in our political system the way to replacing Labour was blocked, it could not die.
    The Conservative Party meanwhile seems to exist purely for personal advancement and with no opposition has adopted the Polices of UKIP lock stock and barrel

    If there was any gain in repatriating powers at all then the fact we have a zombie democracy that leaves moderate opinion entirely unrepresented renders it pointless.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 6, 2017

      It will decimate exports, you say, but if it did decimate our exports to the EU, which presumably is what you mean, then it would also decimate their greater volume of exports to us. Obviously we would not allow them easy access to our market if they stupidly and spitefully chose to deny us easy access to theirs.

    2. Anonymous
      January 6, 2017

      Talking of sixth formers…

  33. ian
    January 6, 2017

    It all adds up to pleb haters through out europe at the top, taking away their jobs, medical treatment, money and homes while importing millions of overseas people to cut their wages if they have a job so they take on more debt to keep there head above water, millions have die and are dying right across europe needlessly, just to please the elite and establishments of the EU and hear, the neo cons social liberal lovies with their social engineering of europe and it is now clear that it not going fast enough for them so they leave the borders open for terror attacks on the plebs. .

  34. Ramona
    January 6, 2017

    The worst thing about the single market is that Remoaners intend banging on about it. They have been suffering PTSD since 23rd June. During Christmas they will have been mulling it over, biting their nails, with flashbacks to one o’clock onwards on 24th June. Probably they’ve been pestering Supreme Court judges throughout the whole of the festive season “Have you made your minds up yet, have you made your minds up yet, have you reached a decision yet, what is it? Are we really leaving?

  35. Denis Cooper
    January 6, 2017

    “The UK will be unable to buy privileged access to the single market after it leaves the EU, says one of the top UK officials to have worked in Brussels.”

    Well, personally I wasn’t hoping that we could or would do that. Why the hell should we even discuss paying them a fee for access to their markets when they are consistently selling more to us than we are selling to them? If there was to be any market access fee then obviously they should be paying us, not the other way round as with Norway which actually runs a trade surplus with them.

    Plus, for those who think it would be a good idea to try to stay in the EEA:

    “The former European Commission official pointed out that Norway is bound by two core rules of the EU – accepting the free movement of people and abiding by the European Court of Justice.”

    1. Leslie Singleton
      January 6, 2017

      Dear Denis–You surprise me a bit querying the reason why the EU, as they see it of course, want a fee, which reason is simply that (diametrically opposite to what John has written today) they think that they have done such a wonderful job (thousands of them in numerous big buildings) putting in place the laws, rules, regs, directives and God knows what else, which they think are prerequisites of the Single Market, that for the high privilege of selling in to such a well-oiled machine the UK should reimburse them for the many various and enormous costs involved. Preposterous as usual but that is how they see it.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 7, 2017

        Well, this chap is saying that they will not sell access to the internal market. So the assumption is that the Brits would be prepared to pay, as they have always done, but in fact the EU would not be willing to accept payment in money to compensate for their loss of control.

    2. Sir Ivan
      January 6, 2017

      So why are they not offering to pay us? Do tell.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 7, 2017

        I expect they assume we would be willing to pay in the future because that is what we have always done in the past, albeit after making a bit of fuss. So it is time that we disabused them of that false idea by proposing a more rational arrangement – if there is to be any market access fee, they pay us.

  36. and Ccicks for free
    January 6, 2017

    Jamie Oliver is closing some of his restaurants and apparently saying Brexit plays a part because of imported now more expensive ingredients. No it is because British people require a decent square meal or good portion of food, not twopence worth of pasta, a few wayside weeds sprinkled on top and cheapo tomato sauce base.Then charged for it.Not even then enough food to fill the smallest plate

    1. alan jutson
      January 6, 2017

      Guido Fawkes has made comment as have many others on this subject.

      The funniest of all is from JD Weatherspoon !!!

      1. Rock on
        January 6, 2017

        What is it about celebrities? If they are rock stars, comedians, disc jockeys, sport commentators, clowns, they feel they should attempt to lead! As if kicking a ball accurately or strumming or telling a good joke or spinning a good disc means you are a political guru!”
        Bit pathetic. But worst of all are elderly rock stars. Makes you feel old and formerly tone deaf just listening to them. How we wasted our youth and money on them!

      2. Sane burieds
        January 6, 2017

        He is a silly sausage!

    2. Know-Dice
      January 6, 2017


      If the problem was sourcing ingredients, then he should look closer to home for local produce.

      1. Pragmatist
        January 6, 2017

        Italian food is based on a poor Italian peasants’ idea of thrift. God bless them! Basic carbohydrate in the mould of pasta and very cheap local fruit, tomatoes, with whatever else just put on the top ( toppings ) with smelly weeds to give dish after dish of the same some difference. Like a soldier eating his horse, it is a meal of last resort.
        He should start a fish and chip shop. Good wholesome food!

        Reply Some of us like Italian pasta and tomatoes. Do not sneer at good food.

  37. Denis Cooper
    January 6, 2017

    Well, in the 1975 referendum we were assured that our government and Parliament would always be able to veto any new EEC proposal, but five treaties later the national veto has been abolished in 180 areas of decision making, and a lot of that has ostensibly been to do with establishing the EU internal or single market. In exchange for which extensive loss of control we gained perhaps 1% added to our per capita GDP,

    (unchecked ref left out ed)

    But even worse than that loss of control over many of our laws for trivial economic gain – if any economic gain at all, rather than the opposite – has been the loss of control over our immigration policy; and whatever some may think that could not be remedied if we stayed in the EEA in order to maintain our present unimpeded access to the EU internal or single market. Which in any case works in both directions, of course – even though one might not think so from many of the statements made by supporters of the EU – and actually benefits the EU countries more than it does us.

    As I said in a comment submitted yesterday, as yet unpublished, we should not ask the EU to give us back control of our immigration policy, we should simply tell them that we are taking back complete control of our immigration policy and ask them what they want to do about trade in the light of that decision we have already made.

    Do they wish to continue with the kind of arrangements for free trade that we have now, which we will accept even though on balance that easy trade works to their advantage rather than ours? Or, if they do not want to continue with something like the present arrangements, because they are convinced of the sacrosanct linkage of their precious “four freedoms”, trade and immigration being inseparable, then which unnecessary obstacles to the existing two-way trade do they propose to reintroduce?

  38. Freeborn John
    January 6, 2017

    I do feel we should play are with Eastern European countries over brexit negotiations. It is rediculous they want us to defend them from the Russians, but that they can attempt a punitive brexit settlement designed to damage the Uk economy that pays for their defence. With Trump in the White House I feel there should be a joint Us/Uk declaration that neither country will come to the aid of any EU member state (irrespective of their NATO membership) that does not contribute 2% of GDP to their defence budget, is not supportive of a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU27 & UK or participates in an EU defence union designed to undermine NATO.

  39. Freeborn John
    January 6, 2017


    I do feel we should play hardball with Eastern European countries over brexit negotiations. It is ridiculous they want us to defend them from the Russians, while thinking they can impose a punitive brexit settlement designed to damage the Uk economy that pays for their defence. With Trump in the White House I feel there should be a joint Us/Uk declaration that neither country will come to the aid of any EU member state (irrespective of their NATO membership) that does not contribute 2% of GDP to their defence budget, is not supportive of a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU27 & UK or participates in an EU defence union designed to undermines NATO and decouples the US from the defence of Europe.

  40. acorn
    January 6, 2017

    I voted for Brexit, I know now I made a mistake. I have to agree with John Springford at the Centre for European Reform. Every bit of data I have mined and number crunched for myself and others, since the referendum, confirms my mistake.

    “The best thing for the British economy, short- or long-term, would be for Britain to stay in the single market and the customs union. But a comprehensive long-term customs union arrangement would require Britain to sign up to EU laws (though fewer than now); would give it less power over its trade arrangements than it has as an EU member; and the EU-27 might insist that free movement continues. There is no easy way out of the trap Britain stumbled into on June 23rd.”

    This makes me persona non grata on this web-site. As Redwoodians will be with their grandchildren, who will be the generation that really suffers the consequences of Brexit.

    Reply Nonsense. I voted for Brexit so my children and grandchildren will inherit a freer and more prosperous country.

    1. Jack
      January 6, 2017

      If JR can convince the government to expand the fiscal deficit significantly, via tax cuts and spending increases, then Brexit will be a massive “success”. I say “success” because even without Brexit, expanding the budget deficit would have the exact same positive effect.

      Without the necessary fiscal stimulus, the UK will probably continue growing at a laughably slow pace of about ~2%, maybe 3%, annually for a while before possibly dropping back down even lower; all the while running way below our productive capacity with miniscule productivity growth. The Remainers will blame this economic malaise on Brexit, when in reality it’s just because the aggregate demand isn’t there.

      So I see both sides as being flawed, which makes supporting Brexit very hard to justify to many people, because I ultimately believe the UK economy can be massively successful with a “Hard” Brexit just as much as with staying in the EU outright.

    2. alan jutson
      January 6, 2017


      Happy to listen to all points of view on this website, just believe in my opinion you are simply wrong.

      Time will tell who will be right, but what neither side should want is the worst of both worlds, which is some sort of halfway house of an agreement.

      We should either be fully in or fully out.

    3. Jack
      January 6, 2017

      Reply to reply –

      JR it would be interesting to know if you have at least given Modern Money Theory by L. Wrandall Wray, or The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy by Warren Mosler, a try. These books will open your mind to how sovereign currency systems with floating exchange rates truly work, and the latter is even free online.

      It would be interesting to know if the government has any plans to allow the budget deficit to expand (preferably proactively) to boost GDP growth after Brexit. Personally I would set a minimum target of 6 or 7% annual GDP growth, but for some reason you and the government think 2% (which is essentially anaemic growth) is “good enough”.

      1. hefner
        January 7, 2017

        Who said “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”?
        Minimum target of 6 or 7 percent? Even China does not get this anymore.
        Are you an avid reader of the Donald’s primer of economics?

        1. Jack
          January 8, 2017

          We need to get out of this view that economic growth is bad. While it can be bad if there isn’t sufficient regulation protecting the environment (see China), that doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to a life of poverty. Richer countries have much lower fertility rates which stabilises the human population, too, so keeping the world in poverty clearly is worse than allowing it to develop sustainably.

          And 6 to 7% annual GDP growth would be extremely easy to meet, we have so much spare productive capacity in this country it’s mind-boggling. The growth in productivity that would result from a larger government deficit would make us all so rich beyond imagination.

          To keep inflation low, the BoE should keep the base interest rate at 0% forever, to stop rentiers getting “free money” for nothing from the government, and there are a bunch of other minor changes that should be made. But for now, we need the government to run a much larger budget deficit if we want to see current and future generations have prosperity beyond anything we can imagine now.

    4. rose
      January 6, 2017

      And my son who is a father voted Brexit for the same reason.

    5. Anonymous
      January 6, 2017

      “This makes me persona non grata on this web-site.”

      You put it sincerely and politely. Why do you think you will be persona non grata ?

      As John says. I voted Brexit for my children and grandchildren too. The EU is a disaster. The mistake was getting into it in the first place and the biggest mistake of all will be staying half in it.

    6. Denis Cooper
      January 7, 2017

      We stumbled into the trap in 1972, not in 2016.

      Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we were led into a trap.

    7. Original Richard
      January 7, 2017


      Whilst I am pleased that you voted for Brexit I am puzzled as to why you did so.

      It appears that you did not vote for Brexit, as most leavers did, so that the UK could regain its freedom and hence control over money, laws, immigration and trade but simply because you thought the UK would be better off financially.

      It was made very clear by both sides in the referendum that leaving the EU would mean leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union so I do not understand how you can have thought that leaving the EU could mean staying in these two organisations.

      BTW, the EU27 have made it perfectly clear that remaining in the Single Market or Customs Union will definitely mean we must accept free movement. There is no “might” about it. The EU27 need this freedom of movement (to the UK) to help solve their unemployment crises in the southern states caused by the Euro.

      The EU also wants to continue to have our £10bn/year net payments into the EU plus our £70bn/year trading deficit with the EU.

      You can do all the “number crunching” you want to determine whether the UK will be better off financially in or out of the EU, but for me it is obvious that it will not be in the UK’s long term interests to have its EU contributions, laws, trade, foreign affairs, immigration and military controlled by an EU of currently 27states, and worse still, one that intends to expand to include further countries to the east of Europe, some of whom are not even considered to be European.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        January 7, 2017

        Right on every count Original Richard.

      2. acorn
        January 8, 2017

        O-R, the voters in the referendum, didn’t know their single market arse from their customs union elbow, and still don’t. But, I do concentrate on the financial aspects, because I am not that bothered about being “freer” from something as JR says. I do accept that immigration was/is the number one factor for leave voters, and the Westminster elite took the blame for it.

        The voters can be very fickle. If Brexit shows signs of those voters having less spending money in their pockets; and/or, that money not buying as much, they will very soon go off the idea. They will not be prepared to suffer a lower standard of living for very long, waiting for the Brexit promised land.

        If you are an MP with a small majority, you will start twitching as the next general election arrives, and no Brexit Gold has washed up on UK beaches. Getting the Conservative Party re-elected to government is actually more important than Brexit.

  41. Ed Mahony
    January 6, 2017

    I voted Remain but am more eurosceptic now than back during the Referendum. Mainly because i think we need to develop more (healthy) patriotism in this country, and i don’t think being a member of the EU helps. Also, I’m doubting more and more whether the EU really has the leadership to reform the EU in particular over immigration but also over bad bureaucracy.

    But what keeps putting me off becoming a fully-fledged member of the Brexit movement are the sensationalistic arguments and exaggerated language some Brexiteers made (yes, so did / do Remainers, but I reject their approach here as well). I just wish people would quit all the hostile and subjective language (on both sides), and just keep things as objective and civilised as possible. And to try and unite for the long-term future of this country.

    Just as I wish Remainers would be more open to answer Brexiteers’ concerns about immigration and bad bureaucracy, I wish Brexiteers would be more open to answer Remainers’ concerns about our economy dipping at a time when we have a huge national debt, as well as concerns about geopolitics e.g. being close to Europe makes us stronger against Russia, terrorism, mass migration from Africa and Middle East, and how close relations with Europe helps us in big commercial, scientific and even cultural projects.

    The point is, both sides have strong arguments to make. We should carp the other side. Rather we should look at every way we can unite and have good, open, objective debate for the good, long-term future of our great country!

  42. Christmas Future
    January 6, 2017

    I just hope Labour and the LibDems will not return to Parliament thinking they have some kind of mandate to go on as before. You know, families get together over Christmas or fall out.
    They, the Labs and Libs should not assume they are speaking to the same electorate prior to Christmas. They will of course. They deserve their defeat!

  43. hefner
    January 6, 2017

    Although I roughly agree with the gist to JR’s today’s post, I cannot help thinking that he has also been shooting himself in the foot. When he was Minister I think there were only 15 countries in the EU and he tells us how a difficult and lengthy process it was to obtain from the other countries (and the Commission) an agreement satisfactory for the UK, seen at the time as maybe a difficult one but a partner nonetheless.
    Why should it be such an easier job in 2017 (’19?) now that the UK is leaving and with 27 countries?
    I keep being puzzled. And I am afraid that calling the PM names might offer some kind of relief to some but will not make things move any faster.

    Reply I don’t think it is easy to get an agreement with the 27, but I don’t wish to negotiate with them over borders, money and laws, so it doesn’t matter! We just take back control.

  44. Derek Henry
    January 7, 2017

    The whole concept is based around the idea of Comparative Advantage — the belief that each nation can ‘specialise’ in some set of goods or services and that somehow enhances the return to each nation.

    Of course if you specialise, then you don’t generalise, and that means that if the UK leaves the EU the only place to get the ‘secret sauce’ that they currently buy from the UK is … the UK. That is if you believe in Comparative Advantage.

    However if you say that you can get the UK’s ‘secret sauce’ from elsewhere in Europe then you are effectively saying Comparative Advantage is bunkum (which it is), and, therefore, there is no benefit at all to a Single Market and the free trade concept in general.

    So when the UK leaves the EU either the Single Market theory is true in which case the EU has to buy stuff from us, or it is false and we don’t really need the Single Market at all. Instead we can shift to a domestic focus.

    The law of coperative advantage is invalid, inapplicable, and irrelevant in the real world of trade imbalances; global movement of capital, technology, research, and management skills; worker specialization; persistent large-scale unemployment; huge wage-level gaps between countries; “sticky” prices, wages, and currency rates; technological progress; “learning curves”; production overcapacity; geopolitical and economic instability; and unprecedented uncertainty. This list of forbidden by the theory but unavoidable conditions of the 21st century can be prolonged further.

    Today’s “free trade” is not only the last remnant of laissez-faire — it is its least deserving remnant, full of wholesale foul play, deception, currency manipulation, predatory techniques, and other violations of its rules, with the perps not even trying to conceal those violations. To call the existing international trade “free,” and to use LCA to justify it, is the top of unscrupulous audacity. I do not understand how people of integrity can do it and then call themselves “scientists.

  45. bluedog
    January 7, 2017

    The gloves are off.

    Opinion within the EU seems to be settling on the idea of forcing Britain to accept harsh terms in Brexit negotiations, pour encourager les autres. There is therefore no benefit in negotiating at all and one hopes that Mrs May and British negotiators are resolved to seize the initiative and simply walk after invoking Article 50. There seems little point in the two year charade of negotiations. Are we really so masochistic as to willingly spend two years being jerked around by Barnier?

    Instant hard Brexit transfers the onus of failure to the EU nations at their moment of maximum political vulnerability. Elections in France and Germany would be utterly overshadowed by the development, with Germany in particular extremely vulnerable to a collapse in export markets. The Bavarians have already announced their concerns. If the Russians have had a covert influence on US politics, the timing and nature of Brexit gives Britain the potential to write its own ticket in future dealings with the EU. What the Russians did with Clinton would look like the work of amateurs compared to the strength of our hand, if properly played.

    The only problem is one of nerve.

  46. Ed Mahony
    January 7, 2017

    Btw, my comment about over-the-top commentaries by Brexiteers (and Remainers) wasn’t about this article but about the comments following the article.

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