The collapse of Labour and Conservative sister parties in the Euro area

It looks as if neither the Republicans (Conservative) nor Socialists (Labour) will have a candidate in the last two to be French President. It looks as if a third force party run by Mr Wilders will be the top performing party in the Netherlands election in March. Syriza came from nowhere to be the largest party and form the government in Greece. Pasok (Labour) have no seats in the present Greek Parliament. In Italy Grilllo’s 5 Star Movement is well ahead of the two old main parties in the polls. In Spain Podemos and Cuidadanos have made huge inroads into the traditional centre right and left main parties, making it impossible for either to form a stable government easily.

I find it extraordinary that these once great governing parties of the post war world in Europe have given up their pre-eminence so easily. It shows just how out of touch they have become. The main driver of their demise and of the popular discontent seems to be the bad impact of EU austerity economics and the Euro on their economies. When a country has half its young people out of work and around a fifth of its entire workforce laid off, it is no wonder voters seek a better way. The traditional parties are either deaf to the entreaties of those who want change, or impotent to change the things that matter because they have locked themselves into the EU and Euro schemes.

Whenever a country gets into a predictable governing crisis owing to its fractured party politics the EU proposes a technocrat led coalition government following the Brussels rules. When a country votes for decisive change, as Greece did when it elected Syriza to government, the EU works to ensure there can be no positive change and redoubles its efforts to enforce the very policies that have led to the political explosion in the first place. Economic failure can lead to a cry for strict controls on the movement of people, and a sharper nationalist rhetoric, as people hit out in search of a solution to a problem which their EU loving rulers scarce admit exists.

It is one thing for the traditional parties to decline, as they are. It is another for a single strong challenger party to emerge and take over government. That so far has only happened in Greece, though it could happen elsewhere this year. It is an even more difficult thing for that challenger party to break free from the shackles of conventional EU politics and improve the outlook. So far Syriza has been unable to do that, owing to voter ambiguity about the Euro project.

Marine Le Pen is made of sterner stuff than Syriza. Were she to win she would take France out of the Euro and run an economic policy she thinks would change France for the better. The AFD in Germany want to take their country out of the single currency, and have recently defeated the two traditional parties in Lande elections. They remain well behind Mrs Merkel’s party in polls for a national election.Sgnr Grillo is playing on the growing unpopularity of the Euro in Italy and may want to exit were he to win.

The ruling elite of the EU, with its single currency and panoply of Brussels controls, is on trial in this years elections in the Netherlands, France, Germany and probably Italy too. The triumph of Brexit and Trump show there could be an upset for the ruling EU group in one or more of these. Meanwhile the Euro elite fasten their seatbelts and proceed with the same approach.

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  1. Caterpillar
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    It is a slight aside but one does have to wonder what would have happened in the UK after UKIP won the European elections, if the incumbents were not protected by the FPTP system in the national elections.

    • Graham
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      So true

      Effectively 4 mill voters had no representation (especially compared to SNP share).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Cameron could so easily have moved the Tories towards the sensible policies of UKIP and would have comfortably won both elections. Alas he decided he was just another dire, high tax, EUphile, open door immigration, LibDim.

        Ending up in the dust bin of history due to his broken compass. Alas passed on to May and Hammond it seems (on economics anyway).

        • zorro
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          Once he lost his Lib Dem fig leaf, his emperor’s clothes were shown for what they were……


        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

          L/L Totally agree!!

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      It’s quite simple Caterpillar. If we had been foolish enough to abandon the excellent FPTP electoral system at the 2015 general election in favour of PR, we would have got a Conservative/UKIP coalition. This would then have resulted in a referendum on the EU and a majority for Leave!

      The idea that the FPTP ‘protects’ the incumbents is a myth. Ask the Labour party in Scotland about this. Even the great Liberal Party of the 19th century found that the FPTP system could not save them from electoral oblivion in the first part of the 20th century. And why are the pundits now worrying about the future of the Labour party in the rest of the UK if Labour have some sort of failsafe protection from the electoral system?

      • Caterpillar
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Stephen Berry,

        I think one has to be careful about using the PR term due to variation in candidate-centredness between systems, and that combined systems are possible.

        W.r.t. Your “myth” claim – I meant incumbents c.f. minor / new entrants rather than incumbent c.f. Existing oppposition. (Moreover rate of change needs to be characterised.)

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        It is not reasonable to draw a conclusion about the outcome of the 2015 election had it been under PR. Studies show that turnout in PR elections is, on average, about 7%-8% than in majoritarian elections. FPTP also has concepts such as “wasted votes” (how on earth is that an acceptable idea in a modern democracy?) and “tactical voting” (vote for someone you don’t want to keep out someone you want even less rather than actually voting the way you want).

        If lots more people voted because the system meant their votes were worth using (the evidence shows they would) and those who did vote could vote in the way they wanted because the system enabled them to do so (no wasted votes and no need to vote tactially), the outcome would likely be different.

        For example, in Scotland in 2015, pro-union parties polled a similar number of votes to pro-independence parties, however the pro-union vote was split across 3 parties, delivering unfair dominant representation of the main pro-independence party. Do Scottish Conservative voters deserve just one MP? No they don’t. Look at the makeup of Holyrood to see much fairer representation for those voters.

        FPTP is not excellent, it is awful, delivering unrepresentative government both nationally and locally election after election, with the last 3 single party Westminster governments being elected to power with the support of less than a quarter of the electorate.

      • Richard
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink


        I agree with you about FPTP and if they want to do well in future FPTP isn’t bad for UKIP and they should refrain from railing against it.

        FPTP however does create a ‘cliff edge’ scenario where the unpopularity of the winners, and popularity of the challengers is hidden in the outcome for some time. Once over the edge (as Labour went in Scotland) then you’re rapidly finished. Perhaps we will reach the tipping point in northern England soon.

  2. EU've finished
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will have more influence on the EU than anyone dare think, in my opinion. The EU is economically walled in by Russia and the USA. Too slow to make deals with China and India. Martin Schulz has called it a day and left the EU with a view to standing for Chancellor. Now Juncker is going…”just when everyone got to know who they are” [sic]

    • Tim L
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Martin Schulz hasn’t called it a day at the EU. He knows where the real power of the EU lies – lead the Germans, run the EU.

      • forthurst
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        According to Wolfgang Schauble, Schulz is nothing but a populist, “If Schulz calls upon his supporters to chant ‘Make Europe great again‘ then that’s almost literally Trump, almost word-for-word.”” …and, of course, Europe is a country just like the USA, so case closed.

  3. Peter Wood
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    But for UKIP and the backbench Tories, there goes the UK Conservative party!

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Peter Wood

      Just what I said to my husband. There are precious few that inspire me in the Conservative party anymore, John being one of them.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, have to correct that. John, I’ve just reread my entry and I meant to say that you do inspire me!! Idiot or what?

    • Man of Kent
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      How very true .

      But there is still time !

  4. Trumpelstiltskin
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Thank you for a really succinct and accurate summary of the future year’s adventures.

  5. Mark B
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Good morning, and another great post 🙂

    I think for many in the Euro Area it has to get a lot worse before they will finally wake up.

    The Euro, the EU’s symbol for a united Europe, is the very thing that it is killing it. A poison chalice if ever there was one.

    2016 was the start. Could 2017 be the end !

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    “Meanwhile the Euro elite fasten their seat belts and proceed with the same approach” – indeed they seem totally incapable of any change.

    The solutions needed are:- much smaller state sectors, a breakup of the EURO, far less EU, lower taxes, cheaper energy and far fewer regulations. Unfortunately Mrs May seem to be set against nearly all these moves in the UK.

    The one thing Trump is completely right on is the great climate alarmism fraud and need for cheap, reliable and on demand energy. He has a sound team in this area and they will surely soon expose for all to see the temperature record manipulation and scientific fraud and intimidation that has gone on to try to “justify” the great “carbon pollution” fraud.

    Let up hope that even the dithering, lefty, politically correct May government can finally catches up on this.

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      @ Lifelogic

      need for cheap, reliable and on demand energy.

      Too bleeding true. 15% of my electricity bill is for all this green crap.

      The idiots who believe in it want us to have electric cars, they are having a laugh , where is the infrastructure for all the charging points and god help us when the wind don’t blow?

      In the big wide world picture how much does this little island add to the total of carbon dioxide?

      The price we pay for all the wrong type of “educated people” we elect to serve us.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Electric Car make little sense with current expensive and short lived battery technology. The is no point in rolling out duff technology with government subsidy and tax bias, it is moronic to do so. R&D first get it working and then if it does roll it out.

        It it works it will need no subsidy.

        • BobE
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          The batteries only last 3 years and cost many thousands to replace. Also these batteries use rare earth materials. There isn’t enough to make all the batteries we would need.
          The real solution is Hydrogen. Use atomics to crack water and run cars on Hydrogen.
          This is just obvious.

        • David Price
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

          Short lived batteries, really? in July 2015 an Austrian hybrid taxi was reported to have done over 620,000 miles on the original batteries – the battery system technology in these cars is superior to your phone and laptop. Hybrid taxis are very common as they have much lower running costs and higher reliability than ICE vehicles.

          For less than the capital outlay on a VW Golf or Ford Mondeo you can get a 2 year old low mileage EV and put 4Kw of PV panels on your roof, all with no subsidies and far lower running and maintenance costs. I would argue that a lower vehicle tax is not a subsidy.

          The economics are changing and the technology is improving all the time, just like with all your other toys that were put on the market before all the wrinkles were ironed out – computers, phones, TV, cars, watches, calculators, hifi, medical technology, manufacturing.

          • turboterrier
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            @ David Price

            Austrian hybrid taxi was reported to have done over 620,000 miles on the original batteries.

            Surely that must depend on how many miles it actually did on one energy form against the other. The battery is constantly being charged up agreed but how efficient is it in actual miles covered.

          • David Price
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            It is one example and as you say would have involved ICE and battery power. However, hybrids use the battery for starting off and taxis have a predominantly start-stop pattern so it is a reasonable, albeit extreme, example. As an alternative it was also reported in May 2015 that a Nissan Leaf taxi in Cornwall had clocked up 100,000 miles with no charge loss indicated by the dashboard indicator.

            Age and capacity will vary with chemistry, usage, ambient temperature and more factors besides though it is worth noting that Nissan warranty their 30kWh batteries for 8 years/ 100,000 miles against capacity loss greater than 25%.

            There is a lot of varied research going on into battery chemistry and storage technology at the moment, it would be a shame if the UK failed to take an active part and benefit economically because some preferred a no-risk, luddite position. Lithium-ion battery technology was developed at Oxford University but was commercialised elsewhere, yet another strategic give away.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      L/L Regarding cheap energy.

      Goodness knows the Conservative party have had enough time to do something on this front. It is well known that the climate change religion is an excuse for the elite to make money from the poorest in society. It has now emerged that burning wood is far worse than coal, fracking is not dangerous and could be cheaper, nuclear is clean and could be cheaper if left to market forces as before all the carbon taxing, subsidies and ROC’s came into play. Transport for London said that we would need a further 20 nuclear facilities if electric cars were to be introduced. With the dithering that has gone on with just one and the fact that the government has not considered smaller installations I will be surprised if the great electric car, boiler, cooker and heater ever gets off the ground with any security of supply. I honestly thought that when we got rid of Clegg and Davey something might happen but we are still going down the renewables path much to the detriment of many other industries. Where have all the brains gone in the outfit?

  7. agricola
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    As I intimated yesterday, the traditional parties are out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve. In some parts of Europe they have a habit of serving themselves. The electorates are now better informed and seek other new parties to better reflect their interests. The EU is increasingly seen as irrelevant to the needs of the people and riding a handcart to hell.

    In a sense our Brexit is more than the UK breaking away from an organisation it sees as irrelevant and self serving. It is incumbent upon us to set an example by making a great success of it. Three times we have led Europe away from it’s own follies at great expense to life. This time we have the opportunity to do it again in a bloodless manner that could light a path for many more European countries.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Great post.

      The electorates are now better informed and seek other new parties to better reflect their interests.

      Things will only ever change when people change. And the people are now beginning to do just that. Hence why the EU and all its members are suddenly realising that the people do matter.

      BREXIT in the great scheme of things was nothing but a snow drift, the avalanche may soon now follow.

  8. David John
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Your analysis didn’t mention Scotland and the demise of the two main parties largely, as you say because they were out of touch with voters.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Are the Scots still canny?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Clearly not if they vote for Sturgeon and the SNP or Labour. I think the canny ones have mainly moved down south.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      David John

      Sorry, I beg to differ. Scottish Labour is in disarray but Ruth Davidson is the only leader talking any common sense. Let’s be clear. The SNP have done nothing for Scotland except blackmail Westminster with independence referendums in exchange for getting more and more ‘control’ which they have used badly. The Scots have only got the freebies they enjoy through English taxes and Labour who have failed not only the Scots but the English too.

  9. sm
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Looking at these issues through a particularly cynical pair of specs, one wonders how much of this collapse of traditional Parties is actually quite welcome to Brussels?

    The threat of ultra-Nationalist groups being in power may persuade sufficient voters to adhere to the old Parties, who will need ever more EU support, and thence be further subsumed into an ‘ever deeper Union’.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      The performance of the ostensibly independent (but in reality deep establishment)Macron in the forthcoming French elections may provide an indicator of that hypothesis.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink
    • DaveM
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I haven’t read the article but I can guess the substance of it. In my recent experience, most western europeans (save the French and UK citizens) have become so meek and subservient they’ll tolerate anything. They apologise to waiters when the waiters are unnecesarily rude, they apologise for sharing a lift and selecting a different floor. In short, they’ve become doormats who are content to accept all manner of abuses even in their own homes. Exactly what the EU bureaucrats wanted.

      • Mitchel
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Possibly,although worms can turn;the Soviets thought they had engineered a compliant Homo Sovieticus but old Russia came back forcefully when the experiment failed.However,the Russians,as their history suggests,may be made of sterner stuff than western Europeans!

  11. Old Albion
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Macmillan 1957 referring to Africa.

    The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.

    Appropriate for Europe 2017.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      When you think about it, that quote by Super-Mac is a bit ironic 😉

  12. hefner
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    OK, but “slightly more interesting analysis” can be found in Wolfgang Streeck’s How capitalism will end, Verso, with in particular some real insights why the situation in European countries has become what it is today.

    • hefner
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      For anyone interested, there is a (longish) summary of the 272 page book on the (free) site of the NewLeftReview, 87, May-June 2014.

    • LordBlagger
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      So how do you deal with a 10,000 bn pound welfare state debt?

      Socialism in action

    • libertarian
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink


      Dream on….

      • hefner
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but what this book is saying has nothing to dream on about.
        If you actually read even the summary, you get the message that in the present context with or without any “left-ish” opposition (and clearly the socialist/Marxist/centre left or left parties are now completely out of the frame) the present system, capitalist by lack of better of denomination, seems unable to regenerate itself to provide any balanced society.
        As another contributor had told me yesterday that the important is the ideas. I find Streeck’s ideas worth maybe more than a one-liner, and possibly even a proper thought.

  13. rose
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    The tragedy for many of these countries is that they are locked into the Eurozone. They want to escape, as we have done, but the pernicious influence of Euroland has so weakened their national confidence that they daren’t make the leap. And because of their systems of coalition government, they will need large majorities, not the small numbers we are seeing at present, prepared to be bold. In Germany there is no hope at all because the SPD will clean up as the CDU declines, forming a coalition with the Greens etc. if necessary. Germans have been too brainwashed to get their country back, and the other countries are too timid.

  14. margaret
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    As long as we keep land and don’t build rabbit hutches all over the green belts we have space to develop a new society where community could grow and share . This seems a little retrograde , but I assure you it is happening already. Building a society less dependent on the shiny stuff would be a step forward.

  15. alan jutson
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    For the Euro to work, all Countries would have to work to the same rules throughout the whole governing process, and that would include wages, employment laws, benefits, pensions, budgets, etc.
    Likewise richer areas would have to subsidise poorer areas, indeed it would have to operate as it does for a normal Country where they have their own currency.

    The simple fact is the EU people and separate Governments do not want those rules, but are still attempting to apply some of them in part.

    If anyone wants their cake and to eat it, it is not the UK, but those in the Euro Zone.

    Financial failure is inevitable if the Eurozone remains as it is, its just a question of timescale.
    In the meantime the citizens of the Countries involved are beginning to recognise that fact before the politicians, because they are the ones who are suffering.

    Very desperate people vote for almost anyone who promises change for the better, as History shows.

    Thank goodness we never joined the Euro !

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      @ Alan Jutson

      Very desperate people vote for almost anyone who promises change for the better,

      Got it in one, AKA Scotland.

      On a daily basis we experience the flaws and non delivery of the promises made and created for many of the Scottish population a full bloodied dictatorship.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Agreed, that’s what the EU Super State is all about.

      Not something with all the best will in the world that I want.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Thank goodness we never joined the Euro !

      Indeed, and the majority of the Conservative MP and government economic “experts” all wanted to Major, Clark types and the rest wanted to. Otherwise why on earth join the farcical ERM – yet still they learned nothing and failed even to say sorry! Lion’s led by brainless donkeys.

  16. Iain Moore
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    It shows democracy at work, at long last, and why it is a better system compared to all others. Autocratic systems might be able to have great 5 year plans, and might look attractive in the order they establish, but in the end they can’t renew themselves, where as we have the chance to clear them out and install a new administration . What was frightening was how close we flirted with autocracy in the form of the EU, and how much damage had to be visited on us before we were able to moblise the necessary support to remove ourselves from their clutches. I hope other European nations take heart from our resolve, but I fear a lot more damage will have to be inflicted on them before they free themselves from the EU.

    What ever happens in the EU, we should make it impossible for any Government , (as it was cross party support that inflicted the EU on us , it was more like an establishment) is allowed to sell out our sovereignty. The 1689 Bill of Rights should have been sufficient to have protected us, but it wasn’t. But I can’t think of another form of words that are any better to secure our sovereignty. Perhaps as no Government can bind the hands of its successor , the first act of a new Parliament should be to individually vote to support all active treaties, at least then all MPs would have to actively support a treaty and put their name to it, rather than allow them to go along with what was previously decided.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Some people compare the EU to an octopus with its tentacles getting everywhere, into all the nooks and crannies of national life as Douglas Hurd once said, wrapped around Europe.

    But another analogy would be dry rot, which left untreated will gradually penetrate all parts of the building, weakening the fabric and eventually causing structural collapse.

  18. Shieldsman
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    In the past year all three elements of the EU have not moved on, their solution is still greater integration and control from Brussels. The result of Cameron’s negotiations – “Ever Closer Union” will remain in the Treaty and the summit deal makes no difference to the UK’s legal obligations.

    In the European Parliament, we still have the MEP’s who want to deepen the greater Federal State. Documents such as – on improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty (2014/2249(INI)) have not been shredded, but in abeyance.

    The likes of Guy Verhofstadt who says the UK will remain subject to European Courts ‘for years’ under transitional deal. They cannot backtrack to a looser, co-operative Union which many members now want.

  19. fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Well if what you are saying is true John it might mean a very easy exit for us and I am all for that. The Europeans will wake up from their slumber one day and then watch this space. I note Juncker is already deserting a sinking ship and one that he put the biggest hole in.

  20. Tim L
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink


    The EU go on and on about those pesky populists yetreally fail to understand where they have come from.

    I’m no military genius, but even I can see that if you expose your flanks the enemy will fill attack it.

    Luckily in the UK our idea of extremism is UKIP and we should actuslly be proud of that. But lets also not be blind to those extremists on the left and centre, they
    hide behind slogans of tolerance yet practice little of it.

    If populism is bad then those in politics should be ashamed of themselves.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, here’s an interesting article today:

    “Leaving the EEA is madness and will lead to shortages on our supermarket shelves”

    I wonder if anybody here could predict when in the future leaving the EEA would cease to be “madness”, and explain why we should expect that to be the case?

    • Richard1
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      This is Christopher Booker’s argument that leaving the EEA means leaving the automatic customs clearance procedures which he says will lead inevitably to extensive delays and disruption to the 12,000 lorries per day passing to and from the UK from the EU. It is difficult to see why such a technicality could become such a big issue, but I have not heard any good argument or explanation from the Leave side to explain why Booker is wrong.

      It would be good if JR would do a post on the issue.

      Reply Why? There are no customs problems with our non EU trade and no reason to suppose there will be once we have left.

      • a-tracy
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        80% of the haulage trade in and back out of the UK are EU trucks why would they damage their own industry?

      • Simon
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        I just wonder if any of the Select Committees have taken any evidence from French customs officials who could explain to them what arrangements are going to be necessary to import, people, goods, agricultural products, chemical and medicines, live stock and veterinary products and other items into the EU from the UK (when it is a third country) by rail, land, sea or air? No. I thought not.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          I imagine that our customs people are capable of talking to their counterparts in other countries including France.

          “Jim Harra, a director general at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, told MPs Tuesday that while the government was aiming for a negotiated settlement with the EU, preparations were taking place for a “day one scenario” in which the U.K. falls out of the bloc without any transition to a new trading relationship.”

      • Richard1
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: I don’t pretend to be an expert but C Booker, who is quite sound on many other issues, has been banging on about this for months. I assume he must have some basis for doing so so it would be good to nail the issue! (I assume that the customs clearance procedures for non-EU goods are more complex and time consuming than those from the EU.)

        • Simon
          Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          You are right to be concerned. Adopting the acquis will do nothing to change that concern either. Furthermore most imports into the EU are not only tariffed but quotaed. We may only get agreement to export -say – x cars per year. And if we are without all EU arrangements for checking on the product conformity we won’t be allowed to sell them to the EU at all. Take that idea across every industry sector and see what it looks like. Now bear in mind that many goods going to EU MS from here go through France which is the point of import into the EU. Think of the customs necessary and the opportunities for France to be awkward. The sector most regulated is also the one we need most – food and beverages.

          • Mark
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

            Fortunately there are many other port alternatives across the EU, so entry can bypass France if need be. It will be the French who lose out on the business of ferries and Eurotunnel if they are stupidly obstructive.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

            If we only get agreement to export x cars to the EU then we will only import x cars from the EU, and as our imports are about three times our exports in value that will hit them hard.

          • Simon
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

            Mark you rather miss the point. Goods which go to Calais do so because it is the cheapest route to the destination. But French customs aside the entry port makes no difference. All our goods being exported to the EU will be treated by them as third country in origin ie non EU non EEA. That imposes a completely different customs clearance regime on us and on them. There is no possibility that any such a thing could be negotiated far less implemented in the time available. John’s comment about us importing from non EU countries already has no bearing on our EU exports in the new circumstances. The evidence the select committee took recently was very import centric – not export. And the chap in charge is a Treasury man not particularly experienced in customs ops.

          • rose
            Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

            No-one could be less co-operative than the Spaniards and yet Gibraltar survives outside the Customs Union and with no VAT.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Richard1, my question is this:

      If it is true that leaving the EEA would be so infernally complicated and difficult that to attempt it now would be “madness”, as claimed, then why should it no longer be “madness” in X years time?

      That is the explanation needed from those who support staying in the EEA.

      If the answer is that it would not in fact be significantly easier to leave the EEA at any point in the future than it is now, then it needs to be clearly understood that EFTA/EEA would most likely turn out to be a permanent status, not a temporary staging post. Which would satisfy some people, but not others.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        I’ll ask this question again, and maybe I’ll get an answer …

  22. Original Richard
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    “The main driver of their demise and of the popular discontent seems to be the bad impact of EU austerity economics and the Euro on their economies.”

    Although the Euro disaster is still very important the number one issue is now immigration since Mrs. Merkel’s unilateral invitation to the world to come to Europe.

    The newer “third force” parties are battling against the EU elite’s/establishment’s idea that the EU can halt the sectarian fighting in the ME and solve Africa’s problems by inviting into the EU anyone who wants to come.

    The fact that Africa alone has a population of 1.2bn people expanding rapidly at a rate of 30m people per year should be sufficient information to understand that such an immigration policy is seriously flawed and will fail both the donor and recipient populations.

  23. Bert Young
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    All the indicators of national opinion point to the elimination of the establishment . This , surely , is no surprise . Bureaucracy – in all its forms , is wasteful , it destroys national pride and identity , it creates confusion , it does not identify with the individual , it simply promulgates its own presence and future . No-one can be surprised at Brexit , the change in Italy , France , Germany , the Netherlands and elsewhere ; Trump has shown that individualism does win support and can create necessary change .

    In this country the LibDems have virtually disappeared , Labour is in complete disarray and the division of opinion in the Conservatives is very apparent . The function of the Lords is , now , highly questionable and out of touch with the public . Change must now happen here to recognise and accept that individualism is more important than Party politics .

  24. LordBlagger
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    EU austerity economics


    30% of UK state spending is going on the debts that you’ve run up.

    Austerity economics is bogus. It’s a symptom.

  25. Peter D Gardner
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    It is very hard to understand why anyone with the faintest confidence in their country would want it to be a member of the EU as it now is: autocratic and institutionally incompetent. Paralysed by its own philosophies and rules.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Peter D Gardner

      The English will always have confidence in their country and their ability because of history. We have had to fight for everything we have. We do not give in to anyone. We are better than that.

  26. David B
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The issue really is where does it end. The EU can accept the need to change and bring it about or they can try and keep a lid on it. But that will be like sitting on a bin with a lid on it and the longer the lid stays on the bigger explosion you end up with.

    Europe has had many explosions like this in the past and they all end up with young me lying dead on European fields.

    We may learn soon whether the Peace Prize given to the EU was the biggest black commedy ever’

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      @ David B

      Europe has had many explosions like this in the past and they all end up with young me lying dead on European fields.

      Not only dying on the fields of battle but also on the streets of this country.

      Talking with an ex CPO RN today (25 years before the mast) on the treatment of our service personnel. On the net today the RN are looking to retired personnel to come back and shore up the shortfall of trained people.

      These people on the streets surely could be taken back in to do all the security jobs on our military establishments. Even the disabled heroes could be used in the back office of the guard hut checking the documents of the visitors on the security system.

      It would release the new generation of trained personnel to do the jobs for which they joined in the first place. They gave this country one hell of a lot and we must surely in return owe them a situation that gives them their pride, belief and real identity back.

      If the site was subjected to an attack I am sure the people inside would be happier knowing those in the first contact point at least have an idea how to protect their charges. They wouldn’t let you down that is for sure

  27. David
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    This is why FPTP is bad, if we had PR Labour might have vanished years ago – and quite rightly. Sadly very few politicians in the UK like removing this barrier to new entrants to their market .

  28. Jack
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Fixed exchange rates and export-led growth strategies are toxic, especially when combined together as in the case of the Eurozone. On the way up, especially with a credit bubble, they can be very good for growth (Ireland hit 28.4% real annual GDP growth in 2016 thanks to weak Euro boosting domestic output), but on the way down it’s a horrible, horrible mess.

    Thankfully, Ireland’s 28.4% GDP growth could have been achieved in a better way with a sovereign currency and a larger fiscal deficit, and additionally the beneficiaries would have been the Irish people to a greater extent, since they would have been able to consume more of that output rather than exporting it for foreigners to consume.

    But when we talk about the Eurozone failing, don’t think the UK is doing that much better. True, we still have our own currency and therefore the UK government is monetarily sovereign, but we’re not putting the potential that gives us to use.

    2.2% annual GDP growth is terrible, we can do so much better. And I think JR knows this, but I don’t see anyone speaking up for massive payroll tax cuts, nor do I see even the proposed VAT tax cuts proposed during the referendum campaign being discussed. Fiscal policy is far too tight, expand the budget deficit by a decent amount and watch real GDP growth pick up overnight!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing out that bit of hilarity from Ireland:

      “The figure is ridiculous not only for representing a growth rate nearly four times that of China, but mainly because it shows the scale of the effect multinationals have on Ireland’s small economy.

      The massive figure comes in large part from multinational companies, like pharmaceuticals Medtronic and Allergan, moving intellectual properties here.

      It’s not an exaggeration to say Ireland’s accounts became the punchline of the economic world for the day. Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the stats ‘leprechaun economics”, a wonderfully cutting term that could be here to stay.

      The Financial Times had the most fun of all, comparing the numbers to some of Ireland’s greatest works of fiction … “

      • Jack
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Look at total exports, they went way up after Euro depreciated in late 2014. Even accounting for what you’re saying, GNP (not GDP) still rose by 18.7% in real terms in 2015.

      • Jack
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Also look at Irish retail sales YoY. 10%+ annual growth since 2014. Would be even higher if the demand was coming from expansion of fiscal deficit rather than foreign demand from weak Euro.

  29. ian
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Cannot see any change in europe coming, hear at the next election i see the liberals back in power again because of the brexit vote and the snp power in scotland going down.

  30. Antisthenes
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Modern Western political theory centres around socialism and progressive dressed up as liberal thinking. The two are synonymous as you cannot have socialism without obedience and progressiveness is aimed to create that. That is why we have Keynesian economics, political correctness and the drive toward political and economic centralisation. It is to the most part a failure which should be no surprise as evidence past and present tells us that left wing inspired governments in the end always do fail.

    That failure is now becoming very apparent to those who are not in denial or are blind to that failure. The aware ones are looking to those who purport to have a solution and will turn failure into success. Hence the rise of protest parties none of which except those who wish to leave the EU have a solution as the EU is and never was a institution fit for purpose. In fact the EU’s purpose was one manufactured in the minds of well intended idealists. Who mistakenly believed they were creating and institution that would keep the peace and secure prosperity for Europe. When in fact both could be achieved just as well and in most cases better without it.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Btw, Shakespeare has a lot of wisdom to teach us about political theory. In the Tempest, Prospero fails to handle Caliban properly, and he turns into a monster. But when Caliban is treated with the right wisdom, with the right approach, he flourishes.

      (Btw, The Tempest is focused on human nature in general – the individual not just the social with political theory being part of the social).

      But sadly, in modern, to a degree, dumbed-down Britain, some might just think Shakespeare is quaint or only relevant to the past – he isn’t. Shakespeare speaks to all ages, to the universal. And more politicians and people in general would be wise to read and learn more from The Tempest!

  31. ian
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    and what with the NHS in a total collapse by 2020 with social care and the debt still going up even with the student loan book being sold off this year to 2006 to try to keep the this year debt on target, 50 odd seats for liberals seem a sure thing for years to come.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Rather a lot up from eight MPs currently.
      Miracles do happen I suppose.

  32. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    If Le Pen wins in France her strange extreme socialist economic policies should ensure she only lasts one term, the traditional parties will presumably then return.

    Also interesting is the decade-long decline of the Democrat Party in USA at all levels of government, whether that unique two-party duopoly can survive is open to doubt.

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      @ Roy Grainger

      If Le Pen wins in France her strange extreme socialist economic policies should ensure she only lasts one term, the traditional parties will presumably then return.

      Roy, please don’t hold your breath, the rank and file are totally hissed off with “traditional parties” and who is to say that the French might warm to her, especially if she improves things by getting them out of the EU.

      Like the UK they are only going to know when they do it!!!

  33. They Work for Us?
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    In order to prevent/ dissuade our leaders from giving away sovereignty to a Foreign power (as they did with the EU) we do need to bring back the offence of Treason, with salutary punishment.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Come on!
      You can’t have ‘treason’ in a modern democracy. This is England, not North Korea.
      You can have treason – of sorts – during war time and/or during a soft dictatorship because some kind of apocalyptic disaster.
      But not now. Sorry, but hard right-wing talk like this just alienates voters from the Conservative Party – unless, of course, you want Labour to get back into power sometime in the future.

  34. John
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Could we propose that the Personal Allowance of £11,000 tax free can only apply to UK citizens (subjects).

    It would reduce the number of economic migrants looking for tax free earnings up to £11,000 when they pay tax on all earnings across Europe with the exception of Germany.

  35. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    @Mr Redwood,

    The problem is that raw capitalism has shown not to work (just like raw socialism).
    – In particular, the failure of the banks, at the heart of our raw capitalist system – they had to be bailed out by the government! (but other important failures too).
    And so the small government of raw capitalism doesn’t work, just as the large government of raw socialism doesn’t work either.
    We need more corporate strategists in government, above all, involved in soft investment in our high tech industries and industrial development in general.
    We also need to examine how raw capitalism has created too much individualism, destroying family life, neighbourhoods, and patrias – all of which costs the country in terms of mental and physical health (straining the NHS as well as making us less productive economically productive in general) and the glue that is needed for people to work together for the benefit of all, in particular the country, and not just for the self – the individual.

    Welcome to the end of raw capitalism and raw socialism. It’s now time to forge a new era of politics.


  36. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    If the Christian Democrat parties in the EPP were to acknowledge that there is no popular mandate for a German dominated European Federal SuperState, they might be electable again.

    They face a terrible dilema. To attain their European Federal Superstate, they would have to hold Yes/No referendums in every Member State that is either in the Euro zone or legally committed to join it. These referendums would need to seek endorsement of the Euro, the 5 Presidents Report and the defence provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. They may only get a ‘Yes’ from four countries – Germany, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg for example.

    If these referendums are not held, the the usefulness of the Euro and the excessive harmonisation that accompanies it will be questioned. Germany has so far done well out of the Euro but the poorer Member States can no longer afford to buy their BMWs.

    It doesn’t help them that much of US and UK opinion doesn’t really want the EU to succeed, whatever their elites may say. It’s a nightmare because humiliation of Germany and France would cause difficulties. Perhaps the best solution would be for the Club Med countries to leave the Euro zone and the richer countries of Northern Europe continue in it, but stop further integration.

  37. ChrisS
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I just watched a programme on the BBC iPlayer which was so Eurosceptic that I had to pinch myself twice to believe it really was on the BBC.

    Their Europe correspondent, the excellent Katya Adler, toured the EU discussing Brexit and the many problems in the EU. She highlights many of the points made by our host in this item and interviewed several of the key players including Schulz and Verhofstadt.

    If you didn’t see it when broadcast last week I would urge anyone with an interest in the subject to search it out under Documentaries.

    The programme is called This World : After Brexit : The battle for Europe and it’s available for another 26 days.

  38. Tony Hart
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    When commentators learned that Germany had a trade surplus of $253 billion, they attributed that to the cheap Euro. However, in your speeches to HMG, you pointed out that Germany is selling investment machines to the likes of China/India and so on. Who is right (I think you are, John)? If Germany do have a cheap Euro, there is no way they would want to exit the EU.

  39. ian
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Well edward2 you have to look at the facts, the liberals votes left the liberal party over student fees and supporting cuts to services and went to the con party to teach the liberal party a lesson, now the con party are taking them out of the eu their support will go back to the liberal party plus liberal people who vote for the con party because most of the mps in the con party are liberals apart from about maybe 35 mps and the same in the labour party, the 48% that lost the eu vote who vote con party or labour party will be thinking about voting liberal next time, what it means is con party vote and labour party vote could slit between UKIP and the liberal party at the next election, most people are liberal that’s why you have so many liberal mps in the two big parties, people who do not vote tend to be on the right.

  • 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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