Time to see the UK’s strengths – steady pound since 2012

Amidst all the hyperbole over short term movements in sterling it is worthwhile looking at the longer trend. Today sterling is around the same level against the Euro as it was at the beginning of 2012. It is almost a fifth higher against the yen, and around one fifth down against the dollar. Over this time period the dollar has been strong against all major currencies, running with higher interest rates and expectations of higher rates than elsewhere in the advanced world. The yen has been particularly weak thanks to negative rates and the creation so many extra yen by the authorities.

One of the odd features of the protracted and often repetitious UK debate about Brexit is the wish of so many to look for weaknesses and problems on the UK side, and to fail to analyse the weaknesses and difficulties on the EU side in the forthcoming talks. On Tuesday I pointed out to the PM during the exchanges on her statement about the EU summit that the questions to be asked need to be asked of the 27.

I began by asking how can a group of civilised democracies that are meant to believe in decent values not reassure British citizens living on the continent legally that they can stay there after exit?  I do not for one moment think the Spaniards will want to evict UK pensioners living in their own villas on the Costa Brava, for example. Nor do I see how they could do so legally. However, why is it asking too much of the EU and the Spanish government not to confirm that of course they are welcome to stay. After all, the UK government has been very clear that we would like all EU citizens legally in the UK to stay as long as they wish, but do need similar confirmation for our citizens on the continent.

I also asked for confirmation that it is clearly in the interests of business and governments on the continent to carry on trading tariff free, with no more barriers than they currently face, once the UK has left. The UK will willingly offer continental countries tariff free access to our market as long as we have the same to theirs. The choice rests with them, as the UK would recommend tariff free but can live with WTO most favoured nation terms.

Whilst we are about it, we should ask the rest of the EU how they intend to implement their Treaty obligation to have good relations with neighbouring states and to promote trade with them. As the EU is always keen to ensure we follow the letter as well as the spirit of the Treaty I assume the same applies on this important issue.

The UK voted to take back control of our laws, our money and our borders. We are doing so based on the referendum of the UK voters, and now also on the back of a Commons vote with a majority of 372 to leave. Under the Treaty we do not owe them any money apart from our regular contributions.


  1. Anonymous
    March 16, 2017

    Sorry for going off topic. Wilder’s party in the Netherlands is more like the BNP than UKIP. Yet it ran a close second in yesterday’s election with 1/5th of the parliamentary seats. I would predict a Dutch EU referendum would deliver a resounding Out verdict. The Dutch people are far more right wing than we British going by the success of Wilders.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      Listening to the BBC reports you would think his party been demolished in the election, in fact they gained seats.

      1. rick hamilton
        March 17, 2017

        The BBC are also ignoring the embarrassing fact that the socialists were demolished in the NL vote and leftie ‘liberals’ are on the back foot everywhere.

        1. Lifelogic
          March 17, 2017

          “leftie ‘liberals’ are on the back foot everywhere” well they should be they are wrong on nearly every major issue but they are largely controlling the (allegedly) Conservative party!

        2. Jerry
          March 18, 2017

          @rick hamilton; Whilst the knee jerk spin from the eurosceptic right, talking up this result, is ignoring the embarrassing fact that the right have actually lost ground to the the centre and the democratic left due to the intervention of Geert Wilders and his PVV party – in the same way as 5the right in the UK lost ground to the left and centre since 1993 due to activities of UKIP.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      What is “right wing” about the BNP?

      1. hefner
        March 17, 2017

        What about “authoritarian nationalist”?

    3. acorn
      March 16, 2017

      Did you wake-up on the wrong planet this morning? Have you counted the seats won by Dutch pro-EU parties? Or, are you using Brexit “alternative facts”.

      1. Anonymous
        March 16, 2017

        In 2010 Britain voted for Remain parties simply because all major parties were pro EU, despite what the people wanted. During the term of the coalition:

        – a referendum was forced

        – the party that promised that referendum won the following election.

        Subsequently Britain voted to Leave the EU. A Britain so moderate that the BNP were wiped off the planet and UKIP only ever gained one seat.

        What happened in Holland was equivalent to Britain electing 80 BNP MPs.

        They are far more right wing than we are. This is my logic for thinking that the Dutch would vote to leave the EU given an EU referendum.

        It is entirely wrong to see this election as a measure of the popularity of the EU. It was not an EU referendum.

        1. hefner
          March 17, 2017

          Have you considered the different voting systems?

          1. Anonymous
            March 17, 2017

            No. But Wilders would have been given short shrift in Britain.

  2. Peter Wood
    March 16, 2017

    Good Morning,

    The reasonableness of your points are clear to all people who have to manage benefits and responsibilities. The problem with the managers of the EU, particularly the Commission members, is that they have authority without responsibility; hence we have this petulant attitude from certain parties. The EU is now fighting for its very existence; soon all will realise that the cost of membership far outweighs the benefits. The EU management has been found incompetent and ineffective.

  3. Duyfken
    March 16, 2017

    JR, you refer to our “regular contributions”. After the Art50 letter has been delivered, presumably these contributions will continue in some way during the negotiation period but I wonder whether in Brussels the EU will feel or be obliged to continue with the same level of allocations presently made to UK recipients, farmers, universities etc.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      You can be fairly sure of that I suspect.

  4. Duncan
    March 16, 2017

    Let’s be frank here. When we refer to the political ‘agreement’ that is the EU what we actually mean is Germany and it will be the power-brokers in Germany who will decide the future relationship between a free, independent, sovereign United Kingdom and the entity termed the EU

    Germany will act in accordance with German self-interest. The faux collective culture that the EU was meant to engender is just that, fake. At the end of the day each member state will always act in its own best economic interests and that also will apply to Germany

    I have no doubt that trade, post UK leave, will be even brisker between the UK and EU member states. Free trade always leads to more trade.

  5. Richard
    March 16, 2017

    I know, it’s astonishing isn’t it! The UK has decided to leave the EU and yet, incredibly, the EU is not willing to allow the UK to continue to enjoy all the benefits of membership! Amazing! Who could have predicted such a thing?

    1. Bob
      March 16, 2017

      @Richard what benefits are you referring to, the plundering of our fishing grounds perhaps, or are we paying £1 billion a month for a massive trade deficit?

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 16, 2017

      So what about the benefits to the rest of the EU arising from UK membership?

      Who could have predicted that you would ignore the other side of the coin?

    3. James Matthews
      March 16, 2017

      Well yes. The bad faith on the part of the EU you clearly expect should be astonishing. While you we are still paying the membership fee we might reasonably expect to continue to be able to use the benefits of membership.

      The fact that you, a supporter of the EU expect it to behave with such undisguised dishonesty confirms that what we all already know. It is not an organisation that anyone sensible would wish to belong to

    4. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      There are no net benefits!

    5. acorn
      March 16, 2017

      Richard, the Dutch have just made Brexit somewhat harder. Please Brexiteers, try not to piss-off the Dutch, they are out third biggest goods export and import trading partner! And; in concert with the Irish, have some very attractive corporate tax laws.

    6. Original Richard
      March 16, 2017

      What membership benefits do you mean please ?

      The £10bn/year net membership fee which has been used to promote the EU by subsidising the building of infrastructure and agriculture in other EU countries, most of whom are net recipients ?

      The £100bn/year trading deficit with the EU ?

      The giving away of our fishing grounds ?

      The opening up of our country to 500 million people so that the resulting massive uncontrollable asymmetric immigration put pressure on our housing, schools, police, prisons, infrastructure and healthcare ?

      The benefit of foreign workers sending £7bn/year back home or paying for their childcare ?

      The benefits of corporations moving their factories and profits to where they like (subsidised by the EU) whilst being able to access cheap labour to undercut local workers ?

      The benefit of remaining in an organisation with its increasing Euro and migrant crises ?

      We had freedom of movement throughout Europe and the ability to live and work in Europe before the EU existed.

      We have been fleeced by the EU. Fortunately we are now leaving.

      1. rose
        March 17, 2017

        The benefit of having diesel foisted on us and giant lorries which were illegal here before; the benefit of having overpackaging foisted on us, including hard plastic; the benefit of being told everything must be mechanised which can be? The final environmental onslaught being as you say the foisting of millions of settlers, overpopulation being the most polluting thing of all. And the propaganda tells us the EU has been good for our environment. Tonight it is reported we can’t eat haddock because of overfishing.

  6. Jerry
    March 16, 2017

    The GBP all but fell through the floor last June and has not recovered (as of yet), and the longer this state of affairs goes on the more likely is the fact that your so called “short term movements” will become the long term norm bench-mark, after all we are closer now to next June than we are last June – how long does something have to last before it looses the ‘short term’ tag in your book John?!

    As for evicting “UK pensioners living in their own villas on the Costa Brava”, there will be no need to if the various reciprocal agreements fall upon to Brexit, many a UK pensioner living in the EU might find that they have no choice other than to lock-up and return home was nothing more than the baggage allowance of the bucket-shop airline ticket, pausing only to drop their keys off at the Notary and instruct an agente inmobiliario to ‘get what they can’…

    It is not just the legality of their residencia after Brexit but need for reciprocal health agreements etc. It is clear that the Labour party do not understand this, and the more some Tory & UKIP eurosceptics and europhobes go on I’m not so sure they do either, far to many seem to think that these UK pensioners living in their villas, Casas and apartments on the Costas etc are wealthy, many are not, many moved to warmer climates for health reasons with not much more money than what they sold their UK homes for plus perhaps some redundancy and what ever pension they were (going to be) entitled.

    “The UK voted to take back control of our laws, our money and our borders.”

    Yes but we did not vote to do so in an international vacuum, far to many eurosceptics seem to be acting like the kid with the football, thinking that they own both the ball and the rules, never mind the pitch – then wondering why his or her ‘friends’ have gone off to play some other game. 🙁

    1. hefner
      March 17, 2017

      Thanks for this realistic view of the situation of UK pensioners in the EU.
      Some people here seem to think that all such UK pensioners live like the former Conservative Chancellor (now Lord) with multiple pension entitlements.

    2. Know-dice
      March 17, 2017

      Fair points about the ex-pats Jerry.

      The House of Lords etc, clearly wanted to throw them to the wolves…

    3. Bob
      March 17, 2017


      Do I need to remind you that it is the EU that refuses to commit to maintaining rights for expats within the EU until Article 50 is invoked.

      All sides of the debate within the UK are equally committed to maintaining rights for EU citizens, none more so than the Brexiteers.

      Lay the blame for the uncertainty where it belongs (in Brussels).

      1. Jerry
        March 17, 2017

        @Bob; Sorry Bob but once again you are putting the cart before the horse, mixing up cause and effect, the UK expats problems are being caused by Brexit, not Brussels (or a Remain result), it was 52% of UK voters who threw them to the wolfs -as Know-dice puts it, and those UK voters most likely did so because of miss information, if not worse.

        1. rose
          March 18, 2017

          But what do you say to the fact that the EU will not discuss the reciprocity of residents’ rights till article 50 is triggered, when they have been happy to discuss through Guy Verhofstadt the proposed individual EU citizenship, and with the SNP possible arrangements for Scotland?

          1. Jerry
            March 18, 2017

            @rose; Thanks for proving that you do not understand how the A50 process (and the EU) works, what some eurocrat might say is irrelevant, Guy Verhofstadt can not speak for Spain (for example) even if he does have authority to speak for the Netherlands and/or MEPs.

            Nothing can be agreed with regards Brexit until A50 has been triggered and the exit process proceeds. The process was all laid out 10 years ago in the Lisbon Treaty, stop trying to suggest as if the EU have brought in some new directive or policy stance since 24rd June 2016 just to frustrate Brexit and cause worry amongst various groups of expats.

            It is a bit late for some on this very site to now try and show concern, some tried inform would-be Brexieers what the situation would be in the event of a Leave vote. We were dually vilified and told that there would be no problems, no unintended consequences… If you did not understand what a Brexit vote would mean to our expats then shame of you, if you knew what what a Brexit vote would mean to our expats then double shame of you, yet you now bleat…

          2. Bob
            March 19, 2017

            Jerry would prefer to overlook such inconvenient facts.

          3. Jerry
            March 19, 2017

            @Bob; It’s people like you who prefer to overlook such inconvenient facts. Trouble for you is that it is a bit difficult for the average political blogger to overlook a clause such as Article 50 in a Treaty that is ten plus years old, even more so when the said clause is often cited, its working often explained – only those intent on miss, sorry, not understanding the facts would try and claim (spin) that the clause means something else.

        2. Bob
          March 19, 2017

          As usual you try to obfuscate.
          In reality:
          – UK held a referendum
          – Leave won
          – Both sides of debate agree that expats rights should be protected in all EU countries
          – EU Commission refuse to offer such assurance in an effort to create fear and loathing

          It’s easy for anyone with a functional moral compass to see who is trying to cause harm, but then, for someone who worships at the altar of the Brussels Broadcasting Corporation your moral compass could be in need of recalibration.

          1. rose
            March 19, 2017

            And Jerry, Guy Verhofstadt is not a Dutchman.

  7. Lifelogic
    March 16, 2017

    As you say – We do not owe them any money apart from our regular contributions. Indeed a refund is due for some things.

    A shame we did not give notice on 24th June, saved the millions and just got on with it. Nor should we pay for any of the pensions to the failed politicians like Lords Kinnock, Pattens, Brittons, Mandelsons and the likes. They are not our responsibility, nor these pensions even deserved in most cases. They should certainly be taxed in the same way as everyone else’s if they are to be paid by the EU.

    As to the strength of Stirling we have a government who is keeping it and the economy weak by deliberate policy. Low interest rates, printing money, expensive green crap energy, over high taxes, over regulation of everything and a bloated inefficient & misdirected state sector. Inept virtual state monopolies in many areas, such as the NHS and Education even bonkers sugar taxes and central wage controls.

    Alas May and Hammond seem to like this socialist agenda, they have zero vision. The NI increase was profoundly un-Conservative (even without the ratting).

    1. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      We need someone to ask May and Hammond:

      Do my right hon. Friends not know that it is fatal for any Government or party or person to seek to govern in direct opposition to the principles on which they were entrusted with the right to govern? In introducing a compulsory control of wages and prices (and much other economic lunacy), in contravention of the deepest commitments of this party, have my right hon. Friends taken leave of their senses?

    2. hefner
      March 17, 2017

      What is better, a zero vision or a tunnel vision?

  8. Mark B
    March 16, 2017

    Good morning.

    Under the Treaty we do not owe them any money apart from our regular contributions.

    I am not sure what you mean by that ?

    We voted to leave the EU. And no more should be read into that, other than, that means being an independent sovereign nation once more.

  9. Prigger
    March 16, 2017

    Third paragraph:

    “I began by asking how can a group of civilised democracies that are meant to believe in decent values not reassure British citizens living on the continent legally that they can stay there after exit? ”

    Because they are not civilised democracies.

  10. margaret
    March 16, 2017

    As I have aid previously, all can analyse and it depends what emphasis is put on any particularly aspect of Brexit. Asking for clear opinions of all 27 is the fairest way to go yet I imagine would be time consuming. I have had many instances over many years where excellent work has been produced , but by a minor imperfection (e,g. a comma in the wrong place )was thrown out and work of less importance has ben accepted. I don’t think this will be any different on a large scale.
    Mr Trump has already made a statement about a court overrule trying to expose weakness and he corrects ,angrily, the potential mistake of trying to down America and as he says America is not weak.

  11. Nigel
    March 16, 2017

    One of the problems with our membership of the EU has been that we have tended to implement EU law to the letter, whereas most, if not all of the other members have tended to interpret EU laws to suit their own requirements.
    Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to honour their outstanding commitments to the letter.

  12. acorn
    March 16, 2017

    Much better to look back with one chart, to the start of the Ted Heath ministry in 1970. http://fx.sauder.ubc.ca/cgi/fxplot?b=GBP&c=USD&c=EUR&c=JPY&c=CNY&c=EUR&c=JPY&c=CHF&c=USD&rd=*&fd=1&fm=1&fy=1971&ld=31&lm=12&ly=2017&y=daily&q=volume&f=svg&a=lin&m=0&x=

    You can see the Pound has halved against the US$ since 1970 but more or less tracking the Euro. The Pound was relatively strong against the Euro from 1997 to the crash. You could get 860 Yen for a Pound in 1970; you get 139 today, and 10 Swiss Francs also; now, 1.2.

    Where did we go wrong?

    1. Mark B
      March 16, 2017

      We voted in the wrong people.

    2. Dennis
      March 16, 2017

      Because those currencies have strengthened since then – not that necessarily the pound has weakened, also it has somewhat of course.

  13. Bob
    March 16, 2017

    “One of the odd features of the protracted and often repetitious UK debate about Brexit is the wish of so many to look for weaknesses and problems on the UK side, and to fail to analyse the weaknesses and difficulties on the EU side in the forthcoming talks.”

    yes, I know what you mean Mr Redwood, I’ve especially noticed it with organisations such as the BBC, from whom you may have expected a more balanced analysis. It’s almost as if they are trying to embolden the other side.

    I suppose after the way they fed intel to the enemy during the Falklands war, I suppose we should come to expect such behaviour. It’s a wonder why any loyal British politician thinks it’s a good idea to use the British justice system to enforce BBC’s revenue collection through force of law.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    March 16, 2017

    We are bombarded daily, particularly in the broadcast media (will Ofcom ever enforce the broadcast code?), with negative and defeatist talk about the forthcoming negotiations. Those who wanted UK to remain in EU put the position of the latter before that of their own country. We must hope that our negotiators have more loyalty to this country and determination to use the strengths of the UK to extricate us fully and successfully from the EU.

  15. Lifelogic
    March 16, 2017

    A £70,000 fine for electoral budget cheating is hardly much of a deterrent to the larger political parties!

    1. hefner
      March 17, 2017

      Given the size of some donations, I would think a £70k fine is more an encouragement than any deterrent.

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      They tried to bankrupt UKIP, and that was not over money wrongly spent on elections but just over money received from a UK citizen who had recently moved house and had neglected to make sure that he was on the electoral register at his new address.

  16. agricola
    March 16, 2017

    Personally I find exchange rates bizarre. I suspect they reflect the banks desire to make money rather than the strength of the economy they represent. In the first seven years of the pound/euro we get anything from Eu .1.44 =£1.00 in 2003 to Eu. 1.60 = £1.oo in 2001. The pound stayed at these levels up to2008 when it took a dive to it’s present low levels. Our economy is supposed to be strong if you believe the present government,except that the money dealers do not believe it and mark it down to Eu.1.14 at present. I suspect they are positioning themselves for Brexit. Germany apart, the performance of the EU hardly merits it’s high value against sterling.

    On citizen status, and in fairness to Mr Verhofstadt and other voices in the EU, they have been as positive before negotiations as has our government. I think politicians enjoy brinkmanship in preference to citizen reassurance. Being realistic, the EU hardly wishes to suddenly receive three and a half million of it’s citizens. Nor can I imagine the UK government wishing to deal with a million of it’s own newly returned.

    The EU would be the nett loser in a reversion to WTO tariffs. The reciprocal duties we would apply to EU goods would more than compensate British exporters, were the government to have the wisdom to arrange a transfer scheme. Having witnessed the NI fiasco I seriously wonder whether anyone has the wit to do it.

    As I believe I emphasised when this whole divorce process kicked off, it was basically all down to us returning parliamentary sovereignty to the UK, even if in the final analysis it was the electorate who insisted upon it rather than a largely submissive parliament. Parliament have now acquiesced realising that the electorate has them by the short and curlies, and careers are at stake. Sorry to be so cynical, but with a few notable exceptions, that is what it looks like.

  17. Bert Young
    March 16, 2017

    The EU believes it can have its cake and eat it . The world is not a place for a dogma that only can see as far as the end of its nose ; compromise , tact , proper understanding of all sides of any argument is the only way forward .
    Trade creates relationships that last for many years ; the fittings in my bathrooms are all from Germany , the car I drive ( n0w fixed for emission !) also is from Germany . These simple reminders exist in the day to day world I live in . If attention , parts or service is required , Germany will be somehow involved .
    The EU simply cannot say ” forget the past ” ; it can not ignore its overall economic case ; it must keep a level head on its shoulders when reaching any sort of a decision . It must see that value in maintaining a “nil” trading relationship with the UK .

  18. Lifelogic
    March 16, 2017

    Stirling against a sensible currency like the Swiss Franc has gone from about 1.5 to about 1.2 over this period. Shift the UK debt to EURO and similar and change the approach of this government to one that give us a sound currency and a sound economy.

    Then the PSBR falls away in Sterling terms and the economy booms.

    Alas Hammond and May are not really up to this, they are more in the Ted Heath tax borrow, print and waste, interventionism mode. She even has Heath’s “bouncing shoulder” laugh.

  19. Michael Keating
    March 16, 2017

    If Scotland were to achieve independence would England, Wales and Northern Ireland be £9,000 million better off each year?

    The pound sterling is one of the UK’S greatest assets. It gives a keen competitive edge that helps underwrite the economy.

    1. Enoch
      March 17, 2017

      Plus immediate lump sum representing Scotland’s share of the National debt partly resulting from their Banking system?

  20. Denis Cooper
    March 16, 2017

    It seems that nobody is interested in weaknesses and problems on the EU side, the main interest is how to undermine the UK government in its negotiations with the EU.

    Any molehill will do, with a bit of imagination it can easily be turned into a mountain.

    For example:

    “Where will Philip Hammond find £2bn to pay for his national insurance u-turn?”

    That’s £2 billion over a period of five years – the annual figure is not sufficiently impressive, it doesn’t sound enough like the desired massive “black hole” in the Budget plans – during which period total government revenues will be heading towards £4 trillion.

    So this is an embarrassing but in substance rather trivial faux pas involving about 0.05% of those expected revenues; but nonetheless it leaves him “humiliated” and “fatally wounded”, “with Brexiteers holding the knife”, and it all “points to bigger issues in government” which “does not bode well for the forthcoming negotiations over Brexit”.

    And all that is being quoted from a national newspaper which supposedly supports Brexit and usually supports the Tories.

  21. Trumpeter
    March 16, 2017

    The exaggerated “humour” I put down to the terrible human stress of high office.
    In PMs Questions yesterday, the laughy-laughy faces of Labour’s Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham , Lib Dem Nick Clegg, SNP Angus Robertson, and the forever and easily be-giggled Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Alex Salmond. No wonder Theresa May reminds “politics is not a game”.
    Theresa May does come out as one of the few adults. But I guess it really means she herself is cut out for High Office. I see you JR are not prone to chuckling-fever either.
    Fortunately most people are not wise enough to recognise Trump’s humour or they would be worried quite unnecessarily in his case on a wholly separate score.

  22. Andy Marlot
    March 16, 2017

    The pound is steady against other currencies because almost all governments are printing money and destroying wealth at a similar rate. A race to the bottom in fact.
    I have zero confidence in British politicians to safeguard our interests simply because they have so utterly failed to do so on every occasion in living memory. Instead of negotiating our fisheries or trade advantages away I would prefer a simple and very fast hard Brexit. Go WTO rules and see how soon continental big business force their overlords back to beg for better terms. If they don’t fine. We would still be much better off than we are now especially if our government can bring themselves to erase many of the stupid Brussels regulations they have so slavishly implemented in recent years.

  23. alan jutson
    March 16, 2017

    When the letter goes in we will see the real attitude of the EU.

    Perhaps then the Remainers will ask some questions of the wonderful people in the EU

  24. Antisthenes
    March 16, 2017

    For decades we have been shifting our focus away from the individual to the collective despite the constant reminders of how damaging that can be to our well being. The failed collectives are numerous and mounting. This trend has given us governments that are for ever increasing in size, scope, complexity, numbers and power. It’s latest and most potent has been the emergence of the EU which has proven to be the most pernicious and powerful to date. Ultimately no doubt we are all to accept a world government.

    The concept is not without merit but certainly in practice it is has none at all. As we see that concentrating power and decision making into a few privileged hands does not make for desired outcomes. The EU’s myriad of crisis never resolved and growing and the UK voting to leave the EU has exposed this fact in numerous ways. Not least in Brussels’s choleric and intransigent attitude toward the UK and others who challenge it’s supremacy and omniscience.

  25. David Edwards
    March 16, 2017

    I too cannot see why the EU has not stated clearly – as the UK has done – that there will be no changes to the rights currently enjoyed by UK citizens resident in Europe.

    I hope it is merely punctiliousness on their part rather than an as yet unstated intention to use our Ex-Pats as bargaining chips?

    I will be very interested to see what happens when Article 50 is finally triggered.

  26. Simon
    March 16, 2017

    If we are determined not to “pay in” as you would have it – presumably there is some benefit we are said to be receiving – like maybe tariff free trade – which the EU27 will be looking to cut ? There must be something we are getting for those contributions we wont be getting in the future. But what ? What is their motivation to give the prize of tariff free trade to a nation which is declining to accept everything else which goes with it ? And how do any tariff agreements – registered with WTO I think – affect our tariffs with third (non EU) countries ?

    And even assuming tariff free trade is adopted can we be sure it will be at the same quota levels there are now ? I doubt it. And in relation to EU quotas with say China for example, how can we be sure we will still get the same cut of that quota in future ? And why would China or anybody else agree ? If China (imaginary situation) imports 100k cars from EU states then that will in future exclude us ? Will it not ? I think that is going to take more than a few lightweight Memorandum of Understanding (see Bruges Group) to sort out. A continuing motivation to trade (“they need us”) is not indeed a continuing motivation to trade at exactly the same levels for the same products at the same prices when all other variables have changed.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      So you think we should pay other countries for the privilege of running chronic trade deficits with them, while also giving all their citizens the right to come and live here and allowing their politicians to have a large hand in how we are governed.

      1. hefner
        March 20, 2017

        Sorry, Denis, but you are not even starting to address any of Simon’s questions, some of them rather pertinent (at least to me). So your comment might make you feel good but is otherwise useless. Rather disappointing from you as you are one of the few on this blog making interesting and usually documented comments.

  27. ferdinand
    March 16, 2017

    A very apposite article at this time and well worth highlighting. Whilst I am writing may I quietly voice a request that you apply for the post as Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the position may soon become vacant.

  28. Iain Moore
    March 16, 2017

    Look no further than the BBC to find out why there is culture of seeing the glass being half empty about our country. To be positive about our country, people and culture would be considered nothing short of hubristic nationalism , if not racism. For decades we have had the BBC’s propaganda saying that as a people we are lazy compared to hard working immigrants, our culture is only made tolerable though enrichment, and it is only the EU which has saved us from regressing to cannibalism. Frequently I have hard the comment made on the likes of Question Time that this country was ‘built by immigrants’ , clearly factually incorrect, but you won’t hear the BBC commentator correct it, though they very quickly will if any criticism is made of one of their preferred groups. I suppose how a media company sees its country can be seen the soaps they produce. From America we get Dallas, Australia Neighbours, from the BBC we get an ugly nasty soap called EastEnders, whose dialogue revolves around actors screaming and shouting at each other.

  29. John B
    March 16, 2017

    “The UK will willingly offer continental countries tariff free access to our market as long as we have the same to theirs. ”


    EU import tariffs on UK goods will punish EU citizens for buying British and make them poorer.

    Why do you believe, Mr Redwood, that in response the UK Government should punish their own citizens and make them poorer just because the Continental powers do that to theirs?

    We get wealthier by importing to consume; exporting is the means to earn foreign currency to buy those imports. The less the EU buys from the UK, the less currency the UK has to buy from the EU.

    UK citizens can shop/sell outside the EU where there is a big, big, World anxious to buy and sell.

    As the man said, just because they put rocks in their harbour, that is no reason to put rocks in ours.

    So unilateral free trade – and by the by, regarding the ‘jobs’ obsession, many more jobs are associated with imports than exports.

    Why is this important point so difficult for politicians to understand – we get richer by importing not exporting and importing creates jobs too?

  30. Ex-patty-cakes
    March 16, 2017

    One of our strengths is giving away our failed politicians Stateside either advising Citibank, doing boring well-paid lectures throughout America, giving away US money in a charitable capacity or going on US inspired failed peace missions to the Middle East. In this respect we should further debilitate our American competitors financially by sending our Chancellor to work in an advisory capacity for Trump.

  31. Denis Cooper
    March 16, 2017

    Now that the Queen has graciously given Royal Assent to the Bill providing Theresa May with further parliamentary authorisation to serve the Article 50 notice, why is the latter holding back from doing so? Is she waiting for the next vexatious legal challenge to be lodged?

    1. Oggy
      March 16, 2017

      I agree – what’s the hold up ?

      Mrs May – ‘If we don’t learn from history then we are condemned to make the same mistakes again.’

  32. Vanessa
    March 16, 2017

    Of course a “wish list” is not the same as what the law says. When Britain leaves the EU we will be classified as a “third” country and wiped off all lists of members in the EU. To trade and have agreements we need to virtually start again. To say that Britain can process immigrants fast at the ports and airports does NOT mean that the French or other member state will agree (or be able) to do likewise on their side of the channel. There are two sides to everything.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      I notice that some people have now come across the term “third country” …

  33. hefner
    March 16, 2017

    Annual means Pound/dollar exchange rates since 1987, the year of JR entering Parliament (from Measuring Worth website):
    1987: 1.64
    1988: 1.78
    1989: 1.64
    1990: 1.78
    1991: 1.77
    1992: 1.77
    1993: 1.50
    1994: 1.53
    1995: 1.58
    1996: 1.56
    1997: 1.64
    1998: 1.65
    1999: 1.62
    2000: 1.52
    2001: 1.44
    2002: 1.50
    2003: 1.64
    2004: 1.83
    2005: 1.82
    2006: 1.84
    2007: 2.00
    2008: 1.85
    2009: 1.57
    2010: 1.55
    2011: 1.60
    2012: 1.59
    2013: 1.56
    2014: 1.65
    2015: 1.53
    2016: 1.35
    … and today (16/03/2017) the strong steady pound is at 1.23.
    So well done JR roughly 28% down since you entered Parliament. Certainly a lot to crow about.

    Reply Under the Conservative government 1987-1997 the pound remained at the same level! Lets see how it looks in 2020 compared to the starting level in 2015 for this Conservative government.

    1. hefner
      March 16, 2017

      Yes and steady pound since 2012?

    2. Dennis
      March 16, 2017

      That list shows nothing if the value of the dollar vis -a -vis other items is not taken into account such as gold, oil, and numerous other commodities.

      In 1974 I think, there were 640 yen to the dollar – it was revalued to 400 odd. Did that mean the dollar was devalued?

    3. Lifelogic
      March 16, 2017

      It could indeed do very well bu 2020, all we need a sensible, small state, sound money, cheap energy, real Conservative government. But how can we get one?

    4. libertarian
      March 16, 2017


      Doesn’t seem to bother Toyota

      Toyota today announces an investment of more than a quarter of a billion pounds into the UK, contrary to previous warnings from the firm and car market analysts over Brexit. The Japanese company has a major plant near Derby where it manufactures its Auris and Avensis models

      1. heffalump
        March 20, 2017

        Indeed, and Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe also said regarding the deal (which will cost the UK government £21.3m) “Continued tariff- and barrier-free market access between the UK and Europe, predictable and uncomplicated, will be vital for future success”.
        We will have to see how things go.

    5. English Pensioner
      March 16, 2017

      I won’t believe that the pound is back to it’s real value until the rate is what it was when I was a child, £1=$4
      Why else did cockney slang call five bob a dollar and half-a-crown, half a dollar?

  34. Denis Cooper
    March 16, 2017

    Off-topic, I’m not going sign this as I’m not in Scotland, but it’s quite interesting to see the number flicking up:


    “Another Scottish independence referendum should not be allowed to happen”

    “We in Scotland are fed up of persecution by the SNP leader who is solely intent on getting independence at any cost. As a result, Scotland is suffering hugely.”

    Just now it is over 152,000 signatures, almost entirely from Scotland:


    Scaled up to the whole of the UK that would already be nearly 2 million.

    1. Know-dice
      March 17, 2017

      Thanks Denis.

      I was going to suggest that the Scots should have a referendum on whether they should have a referendum…

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      It’s now at 172,000, scaled up to the UK that would be well over 2 million, and still rising, while a longer-running petition calling for a referendum is at only 28,000. The distributions of support for the two opposing petitions broadly reflect the age-old split between the Highlands and the Lowlands.

      1. APL
        March 18, 2017

        Denis Cooper: ” reflect the age-old split between the Highlands and the Lowlands.”

        It’s not exact but roughly corresponding to the extent of Roman occupation.

  35. fedupsoutherner
    March 16, 2017


    I think you must have run out of ways in which to run the UK down. Why not give it a rest for a while? A bit more positivity wouldn’t go amiss.

    1. hefner
      March 17, 2017

      You get all the positivity and more from JR. So should this blog only contain only dithyrambic praise to whatever brilliant situation the UK is in right now?

  36. Gareth Jones
    March 16, 2017

    A couple of years back I bought a batch of euro at 1.40 to the pound. Going from about 1.15 to 1.40 to 1.15 strikes me as volatile, not steady, over the period.

  37. Denis Cooper
    March 16, 2017

    I’m glad that Theresa May has told Nicola Sturgeon where to get off, but Sky News is now (deliberately?) confusing a legal referendum with a legally binding referendum:


    “The Scottish parliament could agree to hold a referendum anyway but it would be advisory only and not legally binding.”

    Nope, absent a new Section 30 Order passed by the UK Parliament any Bill for a second referendum passed by the Scottish Parliament would be ultra vires and therefore the referendum would not be just “advisory only and not legally binding”, it would be an unlawful use of public resources.

    As Sturgeon herself implicitly acknowledged in October 2012 when she put her signature on the Edinburgh Agreement for the first referendum:


    If she wants to go back on that she knows where the Supreme Court is located, so she could ask its judges for a declaration that she does not need Theresa May’s permission.

    1. Sigh
      March 16, 2017

      Denis Cooper
      I cannot compete with your knowledge or lack of knowledge about the “Law”. I really don’t think we have any of any meaning. Just my opinion. But I feel I understand why some Scots wish the Independence path.But there are more persons of Scottish blood, including myself, in ancestry,south of the Scottish border than north of it. Nothing makes sense. Old dreams. Silly now.

      1. Denis Cooper
        March 17, 2017

        Theresa May has got it almost right. She has rejected the nonsensical timing for a second independence referendum proposed by the SNP, which could not even save Scotland from leaving the EU along with the rest of the UK and would only do harm to Scotland by queering the pitch for the UK’s exit negotiations, but without rejecting the idea of a second referendum at some later point once we have left the EU and the dust has settled. I would go further and show goodwill while also taking the wind right out of the SNP’s sails by passing the necessary Section 30 Order now, but for a referendum to be held in 2014 if the Scottish Parliament still wanted one.

        1. Denis Cooper
          March 17, 2017


  38. Mick
    March 16, 2017

    It’s now law, ??all we need now is Mrs May to send the letter, email, text , pigeon ,horse drawn carriage by any means but the sooner the better, then I think the 17.5 million leavers will feel at ease for a while

  39. Jason wells
    March 16, 2017

    What a bunch of whingers..don’t you know that all of this diary and other similar blogs are being monitored in Brussels.. in a few days time A50 will be activated so whats the point in analysing everything to death..anyway we will have a good idea of the possible outcome to these negotiations in a very short period of time and maybe in a matter of months.

    So we will get our A50 brexit wish moment very soon,and then we’re going to see the EU negotiating team bare its teeth and swing into action, unlike our own unprepared bumbling actors, dear Boris and David Davis,..if anything they have said so far is anything to go by.

    There will be no special deals for the UK in the future- we can forget about it- all of this talk about BMW wanting to sell cars into britain is nonsense when it comes to political considerations so we will be soon driving our own version of the ‘lada’ and as for french wines..well the french will have to sell more to other countries becsuse the taxes for importing such wines will be too high..so there we have it the EU collectively and the EU Commission is so pissed off right now and Theresa May is taking such a hard line its difficult to see how there can be any meeting of minds on anything.
    There will be only pain and disappointment and eventually regret and resignation when the whole country starts to realise the terrible mistake that we have made. As i have said before its not the Iain Duncan Smiths of this world that will suffer nor Nigel Farage…because those guys will just ride off into the sunset- it’s the younger generation that will pay the price- So fasten your seatbelts now because we are in for a very rough ride and very soon going to see what ‘taking back control’ is all about.

    1. Monty
      March 16, 2017

      Jason wells
      No-one is going to give us a ” a very rough ride”. We are famed for getting very nasty when people try it on.

    2. Anonymous
      March 16, 2017

      Jason Wells – It really doesn’t help when our own establishment puts the EU before our own country.

      This will have to change and change it will.

      1. Anonymous
        March 17, 2017

        You’re being very one sided about the youth issue.

        Whilst in the EU they have had to suffer:

        – the credit crunch

        – schools/hospitals shortages

        – house prices exceeding 15x their income

        – factories outsourced to the EU

        – queueing 600 deep for a 20k job in central London.

        Similarly our local BBC was one sided last night. Reporting that local EU funding would be lost without a single mention that the UK are net contributors to the EU.

    3. Yudansha
      March 16, 2017

      JW – It is a great pity.

      On a net basis the UK has been the second largest contributor to EU funds. That will be lost to them and so will our purchase of their goods.

      All could have been saved for a few minor concessions on freedom of movement. It is we who should be pissed off.

      Consider that the world is worried about the likes of Italy or Greece going belly up. They must be bricking themselves about what might happen to Britain.

    4. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      “No special deals for the UK” means no special deals for them either …

  40. Jack
    March 16, 2017

    Higher interest rates actually fundamentally act to weaken the currency. Likewise, lower rates actually act to strengthen the currency as people get less risk-free interest income from the government.

    This fact, alongside huge and growing trade surpluses, is why the Euro will soon rise in value, perhaps in a significant way. The GBP will struggle to appreciate on the other hand, thanks to consistently large current account deficits; even though our 0.25% bank rate is lower than many other countries.

  41. Mark
    March 16, 2017

    I noted today this story about Merkel seeking to get the G20 to sign up to a document in support of free trade:


    Of course, it is reported in terms of trying to get President Trump to agree not to become protectionist. But consider that the G20 includes the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the EU itself in its own recognisance: it would hardly be compatible for the EU to sign this and then deny the UK free trade in its withdrawal agreement, and it would be equally incompatible for the EU not to sign it in the light of Article 3, paragraph 5 of the Treaty on European Union:

    5. In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      Thanks for that. It just shows what hypocrites they are. The EU and all the member states have also signed up to WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement which has just come into force:


      and yet because we want to take back control of our immigration policy they are threatening to unnecessarily reintroduce long-abolished barriers to trade.

  42. John
    March 16, 2017

    On a seperate topic. Today, john, the prescription charges for medicine from the English health sevice went up to £8.90p per item and not a squeak from the man that “speaks for England”. If the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish get their’s for free why do the poor oppressed English have to pay? Could it be the British government know we are the ones with no parliament and nobody in Westminster looking out for our best interests?

    1. Graham
      March 16, 2017

      Yes it would be nice to know what they ‘go without ‘ in order to justify this freebie – absolutely nothing I suspect

      1. Know-dice
        March 17, 2017

        With Barnett at about £1600 per head per year in Scotland, I would guess that they don’t “go without”…

  43. Times gone
    March 16, 2017

    Half a century ago and more they used to say a youth had “spirit” if he showed signs of communist, socialist rebellion. After all, he was seeking the perfect and only his inexperience prevented a more acceptable opinion. But the leading figures of the SNP are not young. They do not command my respect any more than an over 130IQ 35 year old communist does. I’d make martyrs of them so some good, if only emotional, could come of their deceitful work.

  44. MikeP
    March 16, 2017

    Of course the UK is strong. It beggars belief that the SNP would prefer to carry their “influence” in an administration in Brussels where their 6 MEPs would be <1% of a post-Brexit EU, than keep their 56 MPs out of 650 in Westminster (9%). Can't they do simple sums, what sort of influence is that, even if the EU 27 would admit Scotland in the first place?
    Then we have ITN News tonight giving the example of a 42% tariff on Cheddar cheese under WTO rules but fail to point out that it would apply in reverse to French Brie. What happens in that scenario? Our strong and able dairy farmers replace the domestic demand for Brie with, say, Cornish Brie – it's just as nice when ripe. A huge "Buy British" campaign would follow, a trade war if you will, that helps no-one, in fact harms the EU27 more than ourselves. Time to get real.

  45. Ed Mahony
    March 16, 2017

    Macbeth is really just repeating ‘Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity’ – that is unless we really try and change society (and not just improve the economy – important as the economy is of course). Macbeth is partly right, but only right if there is no God and no Heaven, and that this life is all there is – then I would strongly agree with Macbeth (and so, someone says ‘our economy is doing better.’ – Who cares. ‘We’re in/out of the EU’ – Who cares. Etc ..). And that everything else, really, is just an illusion, ‘signifying nothing.’

  46. English Pensioner
    March 16, 2017

    I’m concerned at the delay in sending the Article 50 letter now the Act has been signed.
    I read elsewhere that if it is not sent by the end of the month, we have to get permission from a majority of the EU countries to send it.
    Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, and suspect deviousness to remain, but why the delay?

    1. alan jutson
      March 17, 2017


      Agreed, put the letter in now, what is the point of waiting, after all it is not a surprise to anyone.

      To wait shows weakness of purpose, and no urgency to get on with any negotiations.

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 17, 2017

      That is a myth. I too would much rather that Theresa May got on and sent in the bloody letter, but the conspiracy theory you mention is not the reason for the delay.

    3. Mark
      March 17, 2017

      Nothing would change if the letter wasn’t sent until April. The only thing that changes at that time is the right for member states to ask that a QMV vote in Council be conducted using the old country weightings that applies before the new ones were adopted on November 1, 2014 in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty transitional arrangements. This is explained in greater detail here:


      We have the exclusive right to decide to withdraw under Article 50, and withdrawal becomes automatic after two years. I am not aware of the transitional right having been used since the new voting weights came in. The Council decisions mentioned under Article 50 concern approving the withdrawal agreement by QMV – something that would never have happened before the transitional provision expired anyway – or the unanimous vote required for the UK to be allowed to stay on for a period. Less explicit are the decision of appointment of the lead negotiator (still formally awaited) and the decision to start negotiations (both through reference to TFEU 218(3)) and the guidelines for negotiations.

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