The Channel tunnel has proved to be an expensive and disappointing investment

When the idea of reviving plans for a tunnel under the Channel came to Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s I provided some of the briefing on the project. I researched the 1964-74 project which had got to the point where tunnelling started on the English side, only to see the Labour government cancel the project in January 1975 on the grounds that it was too expensive and not likely to  be a good investment. The nineteenth century had vetoed several plans on security grounds, the later  twentieth century became more worried about the money.

My conclusion was simple. A rail tunnel under the Channel was most unlikely to make money for its investors. There were many other more pressing needs for road and rail capacity in the UK that could justify public investment and would produce a better return. Given the strength of feeling for a Channel project in other parts of the government I proposed that the Prime Minister gave her consent, as long as no public money was put at risk in the project. She agreed with the advice, and the government proceeded accordingly. I thought the forecasts for build costs, for operating costs and for revenues were all too optimistic. I was also surprised that the private sector was so keen to press ahead, given the large risk of loss.

The UK and French governments offered a 55 year concession to the Channel Tunnel company to operate a rail tunnel and collect fees and charges to reward their shareholders and pay off their debts, with the tunnel then reverting to the two states. The company thought this a fair offer, raised shareholder money and set out to the governments how it would build and operate the tunnel, agreeing to meet government safety standards.

The Tunnel turned out to be a poor investment for many who put up their savings for the project in the early rounds. It was first beset by a major cost overrun. An overrun of around 80% depending on whose calculation you accept  led to a total cost well in excess of the starting estimate, with considerable general  inflation also affecting the outturn. This made getting an early and decent return much more difficult.

This was compounded by discovering that the forecasts of potential usage were far too optimistic. As I had expected, use of  a rail tunnel on that route was much less than the enthusiasts thought. The 1985 traffic forecast said there would be 37 million passengers using the trains by 2003. Instead there were just 15.2 million. They said there would be 11.4m tonnes of train freight by 2003. There was instead just 1.7m tonnes. Their forecast of lorry use of the shuttle  was more accurate but still ahead of outturn. Revenues as a result fell well short of forecast in the early years.

The Channel tunnel company had to go through various financial restructurings to raise the extra money it needed to keep going. Governments helped by extending the concession period, first by ten years, later allowing it to stretch out to 2086, almost one hundred years. The tunnel has never hit the original passenger forecasts or train freight forecasts. It means there is plenty of spare capacity on the existing rail tunnel. The tunnel company reviewed the case for a road tunnel to go alongside it in the late 1990s and concluded there was not nearly enough potential use to justify such an additional investment.

I will talk in Monday  about whether we need another such link


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  1. Ed Mahony
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Really interesting article.

    However, ‘ A rail tunnel under the Channel was most unlikely to make money for its investors’ is a different argument to the sentence which you follow with, ‘There were many other more pressing needs for road and rail capacity in the UK that could justify public investment and would produce a better return.’

    The first sentence is about private money. And the second, about public money.

    If private investors get it wrong, that’s their concern. The real concern for government is whether the project is in the country’s economic interest overall. Are UK businesses and the country richer or poorer, overall, as a result of the Channel Tunnel? That’s the real question, surely (or not)?

    • stred
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Platitudes as usual. If private investors get it wrong it doesn’t matter. If the taxpayer provides the money lost it doesn’t count. As someone who trusted Thatcher and lost £2k and is about to send a lot more to be wasted, forget it.

      The bridge between Denmark and Sweden is an engineering wonder and economic in return on investment. It cost £20bn 20 years ago and cost 20bn for 5 miles and included an island and tunnel in the middle to avoid sea freight collisions. The toll is about £50. The Channel bridge would cost at least 10 times that after inflation and the deeper water and much larger freight needing a longer tunnel.Unless vast amounts of taxpayers money is used as a subsidy, it is a stupid idea.

      10 minutes on wiki reveals the economics. The fact that Boris and Macron think it is a good idea shows what a bunch of idiots so called well educated politicians are.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        ‘If the taxpayer provides the money lost it doesn’t count’

        – I never said that.

        Has the tunnel benefitted the country’s economy overall? If yes, the tunnel was a good idea. If not, a bad idea.

        How the government finances it is a different matter. Either the Conservative government was incompetent in its forecasts about private investment in the tunnel or else dishonest. Either way, it undermined the Conservative case for future governments to try and raise private capital for big projects like the tunnel.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          ‘Either the Conservative government was incompetent in its forecasts about private investment in the tunnel or else dishonest’

          – I put it down to over-eagerness in getting private companies to finance projects like this – leading to incompetence NOT dishonesty.

        • Stred
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          How can it benefit the economy when there is more than adequate capacity at much less cost. It would be as great a waste as HS2.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        If the private sector gets it wrong it still matters for the lender, shareholders and the economy of the country. But Governments nearly always get it wrong. That is their special area of expertise. Not their money after all what do they Care?

        But as we see with the tunnel private investor can be dopes or idiots too.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          ‘Governments nearly always get it wrong’

          – bit sweeping. Anyway, what are you proposing instead? And what evidence do you have that your propositions would work?

          Again, the evidence:
          Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland higher public service than UK. Higher GDP per capita than UK.
          Japan and S. Korea lower public service than UK. And lower GDP per capita than UK.

    • NickC
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Ed Mahoney: No, not a different argument. You said: “The first sentence is about private money. And the second, about public money.” Actually public or private investment must both make a return, otherwise we suffer direct losses and lost opportunity costs, depending who pays.

      The issue was whether to use public funds for the Channel tunnel. As JR explains above his advice not to use public money was accepted by Mrs Thatcher. It was only after that consideration that the project had to become a private endeavour, or not take place at all.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        ‘Actually public or private investment must both make a return’

        – of course, but they are very different types of return (and not to be confused / blended).

        Private return is where you can objectively look at what your investment is worth at any particular time.
        Public return is a lot more subjective, looking at what your investment is worth based on things such as the affect of the tunnel on UK businesses in general, not just in Kent near the tunnel, but businesses throughout the UK who are directly and indirectly affected by the opportunity of the tunnel.

        • acorn
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          Last year an Italian company tried to take over a 55% share of the French company that operates French military shipyards. The French government immediately nationalised the shipyards to halt the deal.

          The French are very particular about who owns or operates its national strategic infrastructure; be it shipyards; trains; energy etc. Unlike the British who don’t give a toss who owns what or how much.

          The French government did a clever deal with the Italians last quarter. That is the major difference between the French and the British governments. The French government always leads from the front. The British government would have wanted several independent Quangos to take such decisions for it; after a couple of years of deep thought and many lunches, to give it someone else to blame if it went wrong.

          After all, ” “The government is just a customer of Carillion,” said Pontius Maybot” last week.

          • libertarian
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


            Actually quite wrong as usual. STX that owned the Shipyard are South Korean and have gone bust which is why their stake is up for sale. France exercised a “pre-emption” right to buy back the stake from the Italians.

            France proposed a 50-50 ownership deal with Italian state-owned Fincantieri, but the company rejected the idea. The French government are actively seeking other parties to sell a share too.

            The rest of your post is the usual dreary left wing nonsense.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink


            Interesting. I’m a capitalist but also a patriot (and i think patriotism can even help a national economy as well). As a patriot, i think we must retain a certain amount of essential infrastructure. How much, I’m not sure. It’s a balancing act.

            Although the Italian invasion of France in 1940 was ineffective, perhaps French patriots were determined not to allow the Italians a second chance of ‘invasion’ by taking over their railways recently ..

          • acorn
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            Out of date as usual Libby, the deal was done last September. The French loaned 1% of the equity to the Italians to give them 51% controlling interest. The T&Cs were specific that the French government could take it back if the deal went sour.

            Why do you insist on trying to take me on. Me and my resources can out gun you any day of the week.

          • libertarian
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:52 pm | Permalink


            But you were WRONG !. It wasn’t a French owned company it was South Korean ( so retract your erroneous claptrap) , I just refuted your original totally incorrect message, and laughably you are now contradicting yourself too. Lol You obviously dont understand what a pre exemption right to buy back is… But you cite it anyway. This is hilarious, how patronising yet wrong you are.

            I insist on taking you on because my resources are far better than yours and also mine are accurate yours are made up . I understand business and you dont.

            Dont reply unless you either apologise , admit you were wrong or come up with proof that the South Korean owners were really French

    • acorn
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Agreed Ed. Does such a project increase the socio-economic value of the nation? Will it increase the GDP per capita; and, the well-being of the citizens at the same time? Will it fragment a natural monopoly and yield sub-optimal efficiency of capital and labour? If it grows, will it become a systemic risk to the nation, if it subsequently fails. Is its ownership structure likely to become unacceptable to a sovereign government?

      The ultimate incentive the government has over a private sector contractor is; if you fail to deliver, we will nationalise your company and you will finish the job as a public sector corporation with Treasury funding and no compensation for debt or equity. 😉 Unfortunately we did not do that to RBS; HBOS; Carillion etc etc.

      • stred
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        One of the ferry companies disappeared last year after the competition authority made Eurotunnel sell or pull out the line it owned. Even so, the ferries are half empty most of the year. If the economic toll of a bridge is £200, why not just subsidise fares on the existing links in order to ‘share our value’ more often? Or give travellers a free 10 bottles of Champagne on every trip.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Ed, I’d agree but how much of the private investment is through our private sector pension schemes? The usually small lower paid private investors often have no say in where institutional investors put their hard saved money, they make poor returns, the private sector pensioners lose out, not the fat cats on the board. So it is in all the small private pension savings schemes to know and understand decisions people are taking and often then wasting with our money. But you try to discover where the nest pension providers are putting your money in any detail! It’s often obfuscated and they don’t have to explain every £1 they invest.

      It’s no wonder public sector people don’t care, they think the private sector is guaranteeing their promised pension whilst ignoring the fact ours has been stolen away. Interesting times ahead.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink


        My experience / knowledge is in high tech not finance so don’t know enough to respond. Interesting point though.

        (Surely, the problem you raise here is more down to the private sector than the public sector. Plus surely it’s ultimately down to the government, in this case the Tories, to decide how finance is raised for a project like the tunnel – if i understand you correctly?)

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          Compulsory Workplace pension schemes are raising millions now, who is prioritising where that money is to be invested on a grand scale and who has control of the levers to make sure the nominated nest providers are securing the best pension returns? The Government I guess will have a hand in this and thus be suggesting all sorts of grand schemes for big projects they want to push ahead with but I don’t know either it’s not very clear when Workplace Pensions were set up and the Government selected the companies to offer them just who is overseeing them and who is suggesting what to do with the money.

  2. KatC
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    The tunnel is in place now and we xhould just leave it at that. Ferry companies are operating out of dover to pick up trucks cars and everything else that moves including pedestrian passengers so no problem here..all depends now on whether passenger and traffic numbers will increase or decrease into the future given the uncertainty that surrounds the brexit business? You can increase or decrease the number of ferry ships operating, but you cannot increase or decrease the is just ad it is. All talk by Boris about a land bridge is just old guff and the PM should haul him in for going on about nonsensical outbursts..we already have too much of that stuff coming from the other side of the Atlantic..the mexican wall..all nonsrnse

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      The two things that irretate me is:

      1) He clearly did not come up with this on his own, someone put him up to it.

      2) He is Foreign Secretary, not Transport Secretary. The man is stepping out of his brief.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        I agree Mark what’s he up to? Hmmm

        • mancunius
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:25 am | Permalink

          It all sounds a bit like ‘Yes Minister’.
          I am having a fantasy that Sir Humphrey, thinking that it was a grey and depressive time of year, and all the lads and lasses at the FO needed a good laugh, put on a straight face and assured Boris that it’d be ‘a bold and statesmanlike proposal’ as a way of getting the French on our side over Brexit… 🙂
          ‘Better still, Secretary of State, why not build two of them? One on which traffic can drive on the left-hand side of the bridge, and the other carrying traffic driving on the right…’

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          He’s showing that really we love the French, in fact we love all our continental neighbours, and the Irish too, and we want to stay as close as possible to them and hopefully get even closer, in a deep and special relationship. But not ever closer, as prescribed in the EU treaties, and that is where it all starts to go wrong because they cannot understand why the British people should want to be their long term lovers but are reluctant to commit to a pan-European federal marriage.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Dear Kat–It has always seemed unarguably obvious to me that HS2 should run seamlessly in to HS1 and on that basis the traffic from the North, including Scotland, might soon swamp the Tunnel.

      • stred
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        But it won’t. The Adonis genius advised to terminate at Euston and lug baggage on a travelator to start again at Kings Cross. Eurostar traffic will not be increased by saving half an hour from up North. They will find it quicker and cheaper to fly.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          Dear Stred–I think you are confusing mere local travel to Birmingham with International traffic to Scotland–And it is by no means just Scotland–Manchester seamlessly to Milan, Madrid & Marseilles seemed brilliant when I first heard it and it still does–What HS Rail is for. I agree with you about Adonis–Being so EU potty, one might have thougt he would be in favour of what I have just scribbled.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      By the “Mexican wall nonsense” you mean the massive wall Mexico built right along their border with Guatamala ? Maybe you’d prefer fences instead, like the EU have constructed along their Southern border with Turkey ?

  3. Peter Wood
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Dr. Redwood, as with most large projects there were alternatives. Did you carryout a comparative analysis of tunnel vs ferry links? Cost of upgrading ferry services to cater for expected increase in traffic? An integrated rail and ferry service? Direct flights from City Airport to Paris and Brussels? In other words, making better use of existing infrastructure.

    Reply No, because I concluded and recommended that the state did not need to make any new investment in cross channel travel which was working fine in the private sector

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink


      I like this answer.

      If it ain’t broke, don’t spend tax payers money trying to fix it.

      If only more politicians could think in this way.

  4. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    OK so again let’s look at this from a taxpayer’s or user’s point of view rather than a civil servant’s or Minister’s.

    This time at least the public pay directly rather than the thing being free at the point of use.

    It does save journey time in driving compared with a ferry, although I quite like a meal on the ferry as a break from driving.
    Eurotunnel train to Paris- used it a couple of times for business, but the French can be a funny lot to do business with, and it has a slightly odd pricing structure. Also unless you’re going C London to C Paris, might as well go by air. Or do business in Switzerland instead.

    I guess if the money hadn’t been spent there, John Major would have found something really nonsensical to spend it on, probably a Joan of Arc statue in Piccadilly with a bunch of stars around her head, or a dome, or whatever, so perhaps it was better spent on the tunnel.

  5. Prigger
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    “The nineteenth century had vetoed several plans on security grounds, ” It still holds good.

    The only way troops could be shipped into the UK quickly…enough… would be a rail or road link.

    Europe , certainly the west of it, France and Germany and further to the east where some call themselves Euro-Asians including the Russians are not stable nations. We may wish them to be. But they most certainly are not, none of them.

    One can see by all the quislings the referendum coughed up how easy it would be for a sitting government say Labour/LibDems/SNP to ask for “assistance” under existing EU legislation from European countries for “stabilising troops” being sent over here.

  6. Brit
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    The greater idea of a chunnel and a bridge connecting the UK and Europe is “We share common values”.Whilst I scratch my head thinking what those values could possibly be let me say in English that people of common values usually automatically have a common language, it being the concentration of value-thought presentation, culture, and history. Is it the 22 miles of sea separating the UK and Europe????? 4,242 miles of ocean separates the UK and America. So it isn’t the sea.
    No bridge, no tunnel can tunnel or bridge the gap between ourselves and Europe. in values and culture.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Yes. But you have failed to see the flaw in their argument. The state that because we ‘share common values’ we need to build something, when in truth, and by their own admission, there is no need build anything as our shared values are already in place.

      What it highlights to me is paucity of their arguments. There is, as our kind host alludsnto, no joined up thinking in government today. eg A Minister for Lonelyness. FFS !!!😒

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Mark B

        “A Minister for Loneliness, FFS !!!”

        Guarantee the new Minister will not be lonely and will have lots of staff to help him, who will all have big offices, salaries, and pensions.

        I agree, difficult to make it up !

        What next, someone will recommend a bridge over the Channel !

        Reply The new Minister is a woman and combines the role with other responsibilities..

        • Stred
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          How about a ministry for peace and quiet.

        • Mark B
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply.

          Would those responsibilities have anything to do with the Ministry for Silly Walks.

          And I thought Monty Python supposed to be a satirical comedy.

          • mancunius
            Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:41 am | Permalink

            But surely ‘Silly Walks’ is now as pejorative a term as ‘male’ or ‘female’. We must now call them ‘Othered Perambulatory Methods’, neither better nor worse than walking in a straight line (which is an endemically patriarchal concept that denies the freedom to roam all over the pavement while using a mobile phone). A postgraduate degree in Othered Permabulation – supported by an EU grant – will shortly be available at the University of Dungeness: plenty of space has been provided on campus as a testing ground for experimental research.

        • alan jutson
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          Reply – reply

          “Minister is a woman”.

          Then I apologies JR for not being better informed, but to be honest woman or man the position is still farcical, although I know the problem is not.
          Surely to goodness there has to be a better way to counter this problem, which requires local support, not a National solution.

    • Blue and Gold
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      British values are no different from any other country . No matter where anyone lives in the world, the ‘person in the street’ wants a home, job, family and friends, safety and security.

      This attitude that our values in the UK are better than any other country is nonsense.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Maybe we should crowdfund a one-way ticket to North Korea for you so you could put your theory to the test. I’ll start it off with a quid …

        • Mark B
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          Or better still, just ignore the TROLL(S) !?!?!?!

      • Brit
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        @Blue and Gold “This attitude that our values in the UK are better than any other country is nonsense.”
        I never said that our values in the UK are better!

  7. BrexiteerwivMusket
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Mrs May and Parliament appear to be burning our boats with the USA.
    Insults by herself and Cabinet Ministers and the whole of the media against their Head of State.
    If the situation were reversed we would not countenance doing trade deals or having any kind of alliance with such a belligerent country.
    So perhaps further links with Europe may be necessary. We need allies in this world.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink


      “If the situation were reversed we would not countenance doing trade deals or having any kind of alliance with such a belligerent country.”

      ….so insults, bully, bloodymindedness, sophistry, delusive narratives from the EU are acceptable then…are these the allies you are referring to?

      • BrexiteerwivMusket
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        @Dennis Zoff
        I was trying my hand at irony. Failed. My point is Mrs May and Company tell us we are leaving the EU but how many times does she criticise Juncker, Tusk, Macron , Merkel? Or even the EU? There is more reason to believe we are leaving the USA.

  8. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    O/T May is now threatening “large fines” to company execs who crash their companies’ final salary pension schemes along with their company e.g Carillion. What a daft solution. What does this do for the person whose pension won’t meet expectations?

    The sale of a company to a conglomerate like Carillion should go along with a warranty attached which guarantees those fs pensions in perpetuity to existing holders, with gold-plated backing. Without that guarantee and insurance to cover it through derivatives if needed, the company sold is a ticking time-bomb in the hands of execs like those at Carillion. The other option is for a generous settlement to be made to fs pension holders at the time of sale. Preferably, pensions should be outside the realm of corporate responsibility altogether. However, historical obligations need to be met by law.

  9. John Soper
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Do not waste your time or ours on Monday talking about whether we need another link. Do not insult our intelligence, we know this nonsense about a bridge is a ploy to distract attention from –
    1. Mrs May agreeing to pay billions as a divorce settlement
    2. Promises to retain regulatory alignment to solve the Irish problem
    3. The collapse of the NHS – 350 million anyone?
    4. The disappearance of Liam Fox and the lack of interest of any country in doing a trade deal with us
    5. Barnier running rings round Davis
    So Mr Redwood, no more diversionary tactics. Tell us how and why all your promises about an easy and successful Brexit have been proved wrong

    • BrexiteerwivMusket
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      John Soper We are leaving the EU at the end of March 2019 . Accept it or move to a country under a dictatorship.

    • Grant
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I absolutely agree with John Sopers comments..the disappearance of liam fox at this critical juncture is the one that gets me

      • BrexiteerwivMusket
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        There was the Christmas holiday

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Both I and Mike Stallard did try and warn some here. But people would much rather listen to Siren voices than a Casandra. So wipe away your tears.

      There is no issue regards the Irish Border. It just an excuse to make people, gullable people, swallow BREXIT in all but name via regulatory allignment. As I have stated here, those countries bordering French Guania have no such restriction placed upon them. So why only the UK ? It is because the corporates want to be able to control the UK Market by regulating its competitors out of the market place.

      We have been sold out.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        A mere 0.1% of UK GDP, that is the value of goods exported from Northern Ireland to the Republic, and apparently that 0.1% tail will be allowed to wag the whole of the UK and its economy. It would be cheaper to simply ban all goods exports across that border which the new Irish government absurdly insists on pretending does not exist, even though it clearly does exist; at least that way we could free the rest of the UK economy from some of the burden of EU regulation, which might be worth 0.75% added to GDP …

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and Mike Stallard has no solution, as repeatedly pointed out. But he never stops around to argue about it, he comes and he makes his false claims and he goes away without waiting to see if anybody replies.

        • Mark B
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Point taken.

          But I have always argued that the EEA was a good temporary option as I genuinely believed our government would indeed either, cock things up or, sell us out. The EEA is a ready made solution that gives little wriggle room. And I openly confess that, if the UK was seeking membership to join the Stupid Club and EEA membership was proposed before joining, I would vote never to join. But it is better than this Pigs Breakfast of a Hokey-Cokey solution.

          • David Price
            Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            Early in the process I would have agreed with you. However, such a stop gap assumes we can trust our politicians and government. Subsequent behaviour by our politicians, government and the variety of Remainer factions led me to believe it would not be a short step on the way to proper independence but we would become locked in with the ever present pressure to rejoin the EU.

            I do not trust the establishment and don’t want there to be a frictionless option for them to renege on Brexit. We should go for no trade deal, no payments unless there are clear benefits to us, take back all fishing and resource rights and access.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink


      More money was promised for the NHS AFTER Brexit and not during the negotiations.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      “Tell us how and why all your promises about an easy and successful Brexit have been proved wrong”

      Because Brexit is being sabotaged by senior Remainers, including the ruin of relations with the most pro British POTUS in decades.

      The good news (for those of us who voted to leave) is that it is all very obvious.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Hopefully if todays papers are to be believed Farage is about to launch a UKIP 2. This is just what we need to stop the backsliding by the Quislings in government.
      As for insulting Trump, maybe they should be watching what he’s doing as it looks like his policies are working and he’ll probably get a second term.

      • graham1946
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Starting a new party would take too long, we need deliverance from the Remainers like May and Hammond and the bulk of the Tories NOW.

        UKIP already exists and it just needs Nigel to get back in an take it by the scruff of the neck and reverse the damage done since he left. Perhaps he senses that it is too late now. Suzanne Evans should have been elected and maybe then UKIP would still be thriving, but just like the Tories they fight like rats in a sack and invariably elect the wrong one.

        We are being sold out by Parliament and the Lords, the latter should now be abolished, it is long past its usefulness and the public don’t need to reward old party deadbeats as well as current party deadbeats in the Commons.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:18 pm | Permalink



          …..Oh, but I would miss all the pomp and glory of the House of insufferable irrelevant Lords!

          All that grotesque gold, silver and elaborate ermine adornment, stiff upper quivering lip, geriatrics parading in a ridiculous anachronistic pageantry yesteryear….which completely misrepresents the aspects of modern life and the wishes of the common people?

          Quite so, Deadbeats indeed!

        • Kippered and out
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

          Ms Evans could not even get elected as a UKIP Councillor in the ward where she was Conservative Councillor in the very surge of UKIP. Too many leaders in UKIP. Farage was the one. They cut their own throats by getting shut of him. Serves them right.

          • graham1946
            Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Doesn’t mean she is no good. Mrs. May got elected MP then became PM. Proof that talent isn’t what is needed in British politics.
            Says it all really.

        • Up North
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:10 am | Permalink

          UKIP does not have a theme any longer. It gained influence on the back of a more pretty face of the British National Party. But then denounced any real attempt stopping immigration. It also has one or two embarrassing MEPs past and present. UKIP Mark II will fail with or without Farage.

    • formula57
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Please give us the distraction but include something about how remoaners do not want us to have extra, new links to continental Europe, arising from their ridiculous notions about how Brexit means we must cut ourselves off from the world.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      We know John Soper’s post is a ploy to distract us from the fact we didn’t see a 500,000 increase in unemployment in the year after the Brexit vote and we didn’t see an immediate recession but we DID see plans for a EU army.

  10. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    No we do not need a another link when we have spare capacity now. The money would be better spent improving rail and roads elsewhere. Plus the fact too many illegal immigrants are already coming over without being able to stroll across.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:24 pm | Permalink


      “The money would be better spent improving rail and roads elsewhere.”

      ….presumably, you are referring to third world Dictator’s Swiss bank accounts….oops, I mean foreign aid projects!

  11. Mark B
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    . . . . I proposed that the Prime Minister gave her consent, as long as no public money was put at risk in the project.

    Which is in line with my thinking. Political oversight, law and regulation, but no public money. Although I do consider the extending of the concession to 2086 a form of subsidy, but I will let that pass.

    I think we need to start to move away from taxpayer funded schemes such as this. Private enterprise, and especially large corporates, know full well that the government cannot run out of money, so that is one place that they know to go to to keep the plates spinning.

    Let us also not forget that the Chunnel is part of the EU TENS Network. To give it its other name, HS1.

    It seems some people never learn.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      “The Trans-European Networks (TEN) were created by the European Union by Articles 154-156 of the Treaty of Rome (1957), with the stated goals of the creation of an internal market and the reinforcement of economic and social cohesion”

      “reinforcement of Economic and Social cohesion”
      ……some cynic remarked:

      “if you need resources quickly in various locations. within a Federated Europe, what better way than to have a “quick deployment” infrastructure for any pesky dissident voice!”

      ……once wholly laughable, this comment is no longer ludicrous, given the EU controlled Army is very much becoming a reality.

  12. agricola
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I have used it in the past and found it reasonable in cost , swift and convenient. Apart from the prospect of having to run the gauntlet of hoards of economic migrants I would use it again if necessary.

    I think you were right in insisting it be a private project, but am saddened that such enterprise and vision should fail to be rewarded financially due to the reality of the market place.

  13. alte fritz
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    This post brings a wry smile to my face. Estimates of future use: how well will HS2 and 3 estimates stand up? General utility? My local rail electrification programme is two and a half years late, with more delay to add following Carillion’s collapse. Commuters on that line travel in cattle truck conditions.

    The Channel Tunnel should stand as another example of how vanity projects turn out.

  14. Duncan
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    As with most political projects of this kind the cost-benefit analysis is always contrived to colour the project with a nice, warm glow of gold. This is politics after all and the fundamental aim of all contemporary politics is to deceive, cajole and misrepresent.

  15. Lifelogic.
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Exactly, I remember they were forecasting being able to charge about three times what the ferries were charging after the tunnel opened. This after the capacity across the route had increased hugely due to the link. I told anyone who would listen not the touch the investment with a barge pole. It was a dreamer investment rather like the green crap subsidies are now and indeed Concord was. HS2 is made too and people do not even dream about getting to Birmingham a bit faster.

    The Tories really have to take law and order seriously. They are traditionally the anti-crime party, but the Conservatives will lose that status unless they act now says Rory Geoghegan today in the Telegraph.

    He is quite right the police and the system have largely given up on real crime and real deterrents.

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      HS2 is mad too and not even a dream – I meant.

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      LL…not quite true about the original investment for Eurotunnel.

      Original investors applying for a certain number of shares were given the rights to unlimited journeys at £1 per trip which for a frequent user would have been cheaper than the capital sum lost on the shares, which probably means that such a perk will never be offered again.

      The only downside was if the project had never completed.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        These rights were diluted I think.

        • miami.mode
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          The shares were most certainly diluted, but a court case around 2007 went in favour of the original shareholders and as far as I know the rights exist today.

  16. 37/6
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    The Eurostar was meant to go through to Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester. It turned out to be a white elephant but tens of millions were spent trying to get it to work.

    • Andy
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Well I live in the North. If I go to Paris I fly from Leeds – there in an hour. Why would I spend 4 hours on a train instead ?

    • Jagman84
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      With a company called “London & Continental Railways” operating HS1, the likelihood of reaching Newcastle was extremely remote. It was always designed to be London-centric. It will not even link with HS2 due to “immigration control issues”. Do we have any controls, other than for the law-abiding subjects of the UK? Everyone else seems to walk in at will.

  17. Epikouros
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I have used the rail tunnel a number of times and have found it very convenient but alas that convenience has come at a heavy cost to investors who should have had the sense not have touched that project with a barge pole.. Of course political decisions and the tunnel was one always come at a heavy cost usually to the poor benighted taxpayers who have little influence on the decision process. It often does not even come with the convenience that the tunnel does have to those who use it.

    Another example of why politicians and bureaucrats should keep their nose out of the business of satisfying consumer supply and demand and leave it to the private sector. Carillion would not have ended up bust if it was not for PFI and other government incentives, directives and largess as it motivated an unsustainable economic business plan. For those who believe differently Carillion is an example of the the market working not market failure as the market is punishing a company for it’s incompetence and inefficiency albeit aided and abetted by government. The public sector of course is a failure because it does not punish incompetence and inefficiency in fact often rewards it.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      The public sector of course is a failure because it does not punish incompetence and inefficiency in fact often rewards it.

      Exactly !!

      There is a certain Conservative MP that received a Knighthood despite stuffing government papers in a public waste bin. And one could go on !

      • rose
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        It was worse than HMG docs – it was constituents’ business.

  18. Duncan
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Why are people calling for a Channel bridge NOW? This is an obvious construction between this appalling PM, Macron and pro-EU allies. It is also blindingly and obviously symbolic designed to construct the idea that the UK is turning away from the US (Trump) towards Europe (EU)

    Does Boris Johnson have no political principles at all? He knows this is a farcical idea and yet he puts his name to it.

    How we yearn for a neo-Thatcher to rise up and put things right. To return truth to politics once more rather than narrative and deception

    When will this liberal left, pro-EU nightmare come to an end?

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Duncan…. there’s a pattern here. Boris Island/Airport, Boris Bridge. In some occupations it’s important to keep oneself in the public eye.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Does Boris Johnson have no political principles at all?

      In my opinion; No ! But I am surprised that you felt the need to ask such a question.

      Obviously if such a scheme was to get government approval you can bet French, German, Dutch, Italian and other countries will be in on it. We however, shall have tp wait to pick up the scraps.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Was the Boris Island airport farcical, or the idea that an expansion of Heathrow will ever happen ?

  19. Blue and Gold
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Money should be spent where it is really needed, such as a huge lorry park for the massive queues that will be created at Dover and other ports on a daily basis post Brexit, and also a big refugee camp for asylum seekers for ‘when we get our borders back’ , with the border being where it should be, Dover, not Calais.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      The border is still where it has long been, down the middle of the Channel …

    • rose
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Why on earth would there be an illegal immigrants’ camp in Kent or wherever you imagine it would be? Illegal immigrants make straight for London and they don’t camp. There is only a camp at Calais because they are waiting to embark.

      • Blue and Gold
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        The only person who mentioned illegal immigrants is you.

        The refugee camp should be in the UK not France.

        • NickC
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Blue and Gold, So you still think that the “refugees” in France are right to flee the EU? Well, at least that shows they have more sense than you.

        • rose
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Refugees under the Geneva Convention of 1951 from Italy, Greece, Spain, or France – which is it? Or is it perhaps Germany, or Austria?

          I thought you were in favour of political union with those countries.

  20. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I was 100% against the Channel Tunnel being built. As you suggest it was a political and maybe vanity(we can do it)decision, not economic or security one. We trade efficiently with the rest of the world by sea and air and of course through other ports to Europe. Now illegal immigration has proved the risk it always posed.

    If there was a choice of closing the present tunnel or building another link I would opt for the former.

  21. Sakara Gold
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    My understanding of the rationale behind the Chunnel at the time was primarily military. It is capable of swiftly moving large numbers of troops and equipment either way in the event of another major conflict in Europe, preventing another Dunkirk….doubtless the Chunnel would have been profitable had it been allowed to reduce costs to users and so eliminate the ferry and air competition

  22. woodsy42
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I would suggest that the tunnel has never been as popular as it should have been because it still represents a significant barrier to road travel. I can jump into my car and travel to Scotland or Wales without worry. However if I want to visit my friends in France – which is much nearer than Scotland – I need to plan ahead and book a passage in advance, which may be difficult at peak times. Granted the tunnel involves less hanging around and is quicker than a ferry but it’s still a very expensive, time consuming, complicated way to travel 20 miles. Add to this the requirement to upgrade car insurance for foreign travel, breakdown insurance for foreign travel, health insurance, passport and it’s little wonder that average UK citizens don’t feel part of Europe. Driving over a bridge – maybe 20 minutes – would vastly increase tourism and leisure travel.

    • rose
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Also, some people don’t like long tunnels and avoid them, even more nowadays.

  23. Bert Young
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I used to have to cross the Channel very often – pre and post the tunnel . My preference was always by ferry because it provided a restful break and something “different”. After the tunnel was completed I only used it twice and on both of these occasions I did not consider it enjoyable or the time saved really important . As John’s analysis advice to Margaret showed it was never a viable investment and I advised a friend of mine not to waste his money ; he did go ahead but regretted it afterwards .

    I certainly do not see any value in any other form of link to France ; there are adequate ferry points and aircraft connections to serve the different needs of travellers . Economically other forms would be un-rewarded and unlikely to attract investment . We are an island off continental Europe and I like it that way .

  24. English Pensioner
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    In view of what you say, how can the government possibly justify pushing ahead with HS2? Here, as I understand it, no private investors were prepared to put money into the project on the basis that there would be no chance of recovering their costs, let alone making a profit.
    Yet the government is prepared to spend taxpayers’ money, adding to the National Debt, based on passenger demand figures that seem quite improbable. I assume that in due course, the claim will be made that we “must continue with the project otherwise all the money invested so far would be wasted”.
    It’s just a pity that there is no-one in the government willing to analyse the HS2 project in the same manner as the Channel Tunnel project.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      President Trump looked at the F35 aircraft project and deemed it too expensive. He negotiated a better deal for the US Taxpayer. Now, can you imagine the First Lord of the Treasury doing that with HS2 ? No, I can’t either !

  25. Duncan
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    This idea is a strategic attack on Brexit in physical form. The idea of building a bridge connecting France to the UK is to make the UK a physical part of Europe and destroy our status as an island nation

    What we are seeing with this Europhile PM is a complete rejection of the Brexit position. The bridge proposal is an attack on who we are as a people and as a nation

    It this idea becomes a reality the UK and its character will change forever. We will become unrecognisable

    We will also see a massive increase in immigration

    No longer will there be a physical separation. The UK will become part of Europe. That’s not what we are.

    I thought the Europhiles in government and the civil service would never go this far. They have surpassed. There is nothing they will not do to circumvent the wishes of most of the people of the UK to remain British

  26. Original Richard
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The Channel Tunnel failed because it was rail and not road and looking back was probably built as a result of EU pressure.

    The new EU driven rail project, HS2, will also have a cost overrun of 80% and will also be an economic failure.

    And an environmental failure too.

    • PaulDirac
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      The major difference is that HS2 IS a tax payers investment and we are all going to pay huge sums to subsidise it for the foreseeable future.
      You mentioned environment impact, you are absolutely right, the energy cost of each HS2 journey is about 10 times that of the current 125, assuming it is a non-stop service, if stops are included that ratio (10) will go up very steeply.

      • stred
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        We could save a lot of energy and cost by building an LS1 freight line along the original central line and HS2 lines instead of HS2. Then there would be more capacity on the east and west lines and with better trains and signalling the capacity or time savings for passengers would be similar. They also could get off at Kings Cross and get a train north from Kings Cross instead of lugging cases to Euston.

  27. BOF
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    The cost overruns of the channel tunnel are now very likely to be repeated with the disastrous HS2 scheme that the Government is backing with dogmatic persistence and I would think it very likely to exceed £100 billion despite Government reassurance.

    Should this happen, will the private sector absorb the losses it will it come down to the tax payer?

  28. alan jutson
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I would have thought the last thing we need is an extra bridge/tunnel across the Channel.

    Whilst the Ferry is subject to weather (as would be a bridge) at least capacity can be increased and decreased without too much expenditure, with larger and more or less ships to cope with demand.

    Ferry also far more pleasant journey, with the passengers being able to stretch your legs by being walk about, and also have a choice of Refreshment, than being stuck in a tube for 40 mins in artificial light and no views.

    • Sakara Gold
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Doubtless, you would have enjoyed a trip on the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry too

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        More people in UK have been killed in rail crashes than in ferry disasters in the post-war period so I’ve no idea what point you’re trying to make.

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Sakara Gold

        Rather silly comment for a disaster when people lost lives, but the Tunnel has also had its problems with fires if you are at all concerned about safety risks.

        No form of travel is 100% safe, but since you ask the question, I would sooner take my chances on a ship than in a tunnel should anything go wrong, low though that percentage for both may be.

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    So here we are with another hellish Sunday morning when anti-Brexit campaigners are out in force with an effectively unchallenged free run on the airwaves, on no less than three major TV channels, while apparently everybody in the Brexit department from David Davis down are either still asleep or they are preoccupied with preparations for their Sunday lunches, no doubt to be accompanied by some nice wines which we will kindly allow the French, Italians, Germans and others in the EU to sell to us without demanding any fee for access to our wine market, while doing as we are told and applying EU tariffs to perfectly decent wines from some other parts of the world … do we see any duty officers in that department tweeting that the upsurge in PFI was connected with preparations for joining the euro, and that the CBI which now wants to keep us in the EU Customs Union notwithstanding the legal impossibility of that under the present EU treaties is the same CBI which campaigned strongly to get us into the euro – and what a bloody catastrophe that would have been – or pointing out that according to the estimates of the EU Commission itself the EU Single Market is not in fact as terribly valuable as is routinely claimed by supporters of the EU, it is worth a one-off addition of maybe 1% or 2% to our GDP, and that 94% of UK based companies never sell anything into the rest of the EU Single Market, and we might gain maybe 0.75% of GDP just by relieving that 94% of companies of some of the burden of EU regulations:

    “However, the advantage for FTA and WTO options are that EU rules will only need apply to exporters and not the 94% of UK firms that never sell into the SIM, but currently have to abide by EU regulations. This will give rise to an economic benefit to the UK economy, which we cautiously estimate could be around 0.75% of UK GDP in the medium term.”

    When is David Davis going to get off his backside and order the creation of a proper rapid rebuttal unit in his department? When it’s too late, when those fanatically opposed to the policy of leaving the EU have finally got their way and reduced our withdrawal to at most a withdrawal only in name while we remain just as legally subjugated to the EU through new treaties as we are now through the present EU treaties?

  30. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t HS2 equally optimistic and unsupported by a business case? it really should be cancelled and the money invested elsewhere.

  31. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    The bridge idea would simply add another choke point and attraction for an accumulation of illegal migrants. From the security, transport and economic perspectives it would be more sensible to open up more shipping services on diverse routes.

  32. Martin
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I gather Mrs Thatcher wanted a road tunnel but was advised by a consulting engineer that it would not be viable over the distance. The need to vent carbon monoxide fumes from road traffic would require vent shafts rising up above the Channel waters, which would be vulnerable to hits by shipping

    Reply Not my recollection of the discussions we had about this matter. Lord Young was the main advocate and he always wanted a rail tunnel

  33. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    For goodness sake. We aren’t very good at border controls now so goodness know we don’t need more borders and another option for illegal immigrants to enter Britain!!

    The whole idea of a bridge is utter madness – just what we have come to expect from governments recently.

  34. graham1946
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    We can’t even get a bridge across the Thames let alone one over the channel. They’ve wasted 40 million of feasibility studies etc and cancelled it. Good. It was never going to benefit the nation, just a few elites who like to walk about in London and I could never see it being a reason for tourists to come to look at such a paltry thing.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      We can’t even get a bridge across the Thames let alone one over the channel.

      Post of the Day 🙂

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      “Elites” in London don’t walk. Their mistake was in not saying it would be a bridge exclusively for the use of cyclists, then Khan and TfL would have paid for it.

      • mancunius
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 2:18 am | Permalink

        Even the cyclists might have objected that the Garden Bridge would link Temple on the north side with a southern stretch of riverside that has no points of interest at all, unless you count the Oxo Tower, Bernie Spain Gardens, and the local council housing.

        Now if they’d built only planned it without the eco-nonsense just as a giant conservatory, a sort of replica of a seaside Pier, a hymn to Edwardian London, with amusement arcades, magic shows, fortune tellers and a Punch-and-Judy booth….

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just watched a (man ed) called “Lord” Adonis, who it seems must have done something in the past of such enormous value to the nation that he has been rewarded with a lifetime seat and vote in our Parliament, deliberately distorting something that an elected MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, once said about having two referendums on the EU.

    The latter politely pointed out that what he had said then related to a very different plan, one which I for one remember very well and which was discussed on this blog at the time, but that correction made not an iota of difference, this so-called “Lord” Adonis persisted with his (misrepresentation ). That is what Remoaners are like, they are so enamoured with the EU that just as they have no respect for democracy they also have no respect for the truth.

    This is from November 20th 2012:

    “The double referendum on the EU”

    “Yesterday David Davis made the public case for the double referendum which some of us are urging the government to launch.

    The idea would be for this government to put through a Bill requiring a Mandate referendum on the EU issue. The question would be:

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    The aim of such a question would be to unite all shades of Eurosceptic opinion behind a single proposition, to carry it by a large margin. The government would then have a strengthened hand in negotiations in Brussels, and would also have to get on with sorting it out, as the people would have spoken. It should unite come-outers with those who wish to be in a common market, with those who merely wish to repatriate certain important powers.

    The second referendum would follow once the negotiations were complete. That would ask

    Do you want to accept the new negotiated relationship with the EU or not? Voting No means withdrawing from the EU.

    The knowledge in advance of the second question would send a clear message to other EU members that if they wish to keep the UK in some kind of relationship they need to take seriously the many changes the UK wishes to see in the relationship. If they offer nothing or little, the UK people are very likely to vote for out altogether … ”

    As Jacob Rees-Mogg pointed out David Cameron rejected that “double referendum” idea and attempted the renegotiation before a single referendum, which he lost.

    • Andy
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      And – as Lord Adonis no doubt pointed out – that single referendum at no point asked ‘what next’. And, as we have established over the last 18 months, there does have to be a next.

      I, for one, don’t care if you all screw up Brexit. The quicker it fails the quicker we undo it. However, if you lot want Brexit to succeed you really have to figure out quite soon that bitching at those asking you difficult questions won’t help. You actually have to come up with some answers. As Brexiteers are predominantly vacuous windbags I know this will be hard.

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink


        Actually, you are right for once:

        “However, if you lot want Brexit to succeed you really have to figure out quite soon that bitching at those asking you difficult questions won’t help. You actually have to come up with some answers”

        John, Andy has a very good point (though you have addressed it many times on here already).

        However, for Andy’s benefit, when are those negotiating on behalf of Britain going to come to grips with this current debacle, produce an erudite and concrete plan (officially documented and placed in the public domain), whilst negotiating hard?

        Then we will be able to shut up the irritatingly negative Remainer vacuous windbags?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Andy, when I voted “Yes” in the single referendum in 1975 the ballot paper also didn’t say what would happen next, beyond staying in the so-called “Common Market”:

        and yet people like you took it to mean that I wanted all kinds of things that were not mentioned or were even explicitly denied before and during the referendum campaign, and went ahead without consulting me directly in another referendum for forty-one years.

        So I’m happy to consider the possibility of another EU referendum after a similar interval, by which time you may have gained a little wisdom.

        • Andy
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          I was 18 months old at the time of 1975 referendum – when the electorate overwhelmingly made the sensible decision to put centuries of war and division in Europe behind them, in favour of collaboration and growth. A position Mrs Thatcher proudly backed.

          If you were old enough to vote in 1975 – that (unsurprisingly) makes you a pensioner now. You have enjoyed the economic and political benefits of EU membership throughout your life. Unlike all previous generations you were not sent to fight and die in a soggy field in Europe. You are richer than you could ever have imagined.

          And you have repaid the debt your generation owes to the EU by allowing your irrational dislike of foreigners (most of whom do not come from the EU) to outweigh the interests of your children and their children. I am happy to call out xenophobic pensioners because you are the problem, not the solution. Younger generations reject entirely what you stand for. Which is why the hard-right will take the Tory party the same way as the UKIP fruitcakes and loons.

          Bye bye Tories, bye bye.

          Reply If we had voted for out there would have been no wars with France or Germany over the following 45 years. Why are you so negative about the warlike intentions of our major continental partners?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted January 22, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            You have no idea whether I or others who voted to leave the EU have any “irrational dislike of foreigners”, that is no more than your own ignorant and rather childish prejudice. And nor do you have any grounds to suppose that I or others don’t care about the future of our children, perhaps you would take that unusual and stupid attitude but I have yet to meet anybody who is in favour of Brexit who would share it with you. etc ed

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Denis Cooper

      Stand fast and do not waver!…it is either a mutually beneficial partnership or WTO terms, simple.

      Do not allow Remainers to gain a glimmer of hope; they will muddy the waters to our detriment!

  36. BrexiteerwivMusket
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Romania will adopt the Euro currency
    Romania is now having its third PM in a year
    The two things go hand in glove don’t they?! 🙂

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      They will ALL, and I do mean ALL, including Denmark will have to adopt the EURO.

      And if things stay the way they are with Germany not agreeing to bank transfers to poorer nations, things will get far worse.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink


  37. James Snell
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    All bloody madness put out there by a madman..Boris..and with thousands of ships a day running up and down the channel..what do you think could happen if one of these ships lost steerage and ploughed into one of the support structures? with the probable loss to life? the mind think we have people in important government positions in this country flying kites about such he thinks Trump is not so bad and wants to invite him over here..just what the hell is going on?

  38. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Blimey, the rocketing cost of dealing with migrants within Germany:

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      That chart would suggest that Germany is using its overseas aid to pay for costs relating to migrants within Germany itself. Are we in the UK missing a trick here?

  39. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    “Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit”

    Once again the tired old myth that we rely on EU membership for our prosperity.

    That one-off 1% or maybe 2% which was added to our GDP by the EU Single Market:

    has made all the difference and we could not hope to survive without it.

    For goodness sake, at the current growth rate it could take us all of a year to make up that massive loss to our economy:

    and how could we possibly withstand such at devastating hit?

    It was bad enough when the Labour government presided over a 6% loss of GDP in one twelve month period, remember that, and it would be far far worse to lose 1% or even as much as 2% by leaving the EU.

    In fact even at the long term trend rate of natural growth of the UK economy, which is about 2.5% a year, it could take six months or more to make up that lost ground …

    Not that the UK government is keen for you to know that, too many of its members have been telling porkies about it for too long.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      The problem with the UK economy post war was,

      Government interference eg Nationalisation.

      Poor management.

      Loss of Empire and captive markets.

      Trade Unions

      Under investment.

      Not taking the likes of the Japanese seriously.

      The EEC / EC / EU was thought to be the answer. Clearly it wasn’t.

  40. Eh?
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    We should close the Chunnel and make it into a gigantic refugee camp.

  41. Nig l
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what would have happened to the railways if Alistair Morton had had his way heading the Strategic Rail Authority to hold Railtrack to account as opposed to the Regulator?

    A real tough get things done man, delivered Thatcher’s tunnel, ‘bullied the Banks into financing at twice the original cost and taking the write offs, no lover of politicians, certainly an impressive presence. We need a few of him today. I presume JR you ‘rubbed shoulders’ with him on a number of occasions?

  42. Martin
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    What did for the channel tunnel and indeed many ferries was the rise of the low cost airlines.

    Now many cities outside of London have direct flights to the near continent that would have been pie in the sky when Mrs Thatcher was on the go.

    These days I reckon about 5 hours is my maximum hike by train – beyond that it is time to fly (even with the security & UKBF theatre).

  43. a-tracy
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    It would never get the go ahead because to drive ourselves over at a time to suit us, without going through the 2 hours and intensive passport and bag checks just to get on the channel tunnel train the last time I went is just too much, cheaper, quicker to fly. This would harm the Tunnel and Ferry crossings too much at the moment and if the Tunnel investors have a 100 year deal who compensates this if a bridge deal is given the go ahead?

  44. Duncan
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    We want Theresa May gone before March. She will capitulate to the EU on all their demands. She must be removed and a proper Conservative installed immediately

    She’s an embarrassment to my party and a disaster for the UK

    • PaulW
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Too late now Mrs May and in fact DD and the whole cabinet well realise the fix the country is in as regards this brexit business..Thing is nobody, not in Labour, not in the the Conservatives, thought any of this through before or indeed even after the referendum so now the dilemma, what was promised to the people and what can be delivered..then how to dress it all up for popular sweeten the pill..Nobody else want’s that job as PM at the moment..maybe except Corbyn if he gets the chance.

    • Richard Evans
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      I agree 1000% with your comment but we need a TRUE Brexiteer as a replacement.
      I have said previiously, May was the “Establishment” choice as PM as she is a true Remainer. She was not democratically elected. The ‘Establishment” did not want Andrea Leadsom, a Brexiteer, to win the leadership battle, hence the planned shenanigans that caused Andrea Leadsom to drop out. Regardless of what anyone says, MAY has to repay her puppet masters.

      Oh how we could do with a Donald Trump. Straight talking, loves his country, Gets things done for the people who voted for him.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I understand she plans to give a major speech in February, and it is up to Tory MPs to make sure that she does not capitulate. They have little time to do that.

  45. rose
    Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    I didn’t want the Chunnel at the time because of unwanted visitors and terrorism. I also thought it would be unaesthetic and worse – not the place to be if something went wrong with fumes or fire or explosives, accident or even simple breakdown. And I didn’t want to stop being a group of islands. I had no idea then just how many outsized lorries would come crashing through our streets and encroaching on to our pavements. Anyway we are stuck with it now and I am very interested to read the story behind it.

    I think we should be able to discuss the pros and cons of a potential bridge without so many people piling in to insult Boris.

  • 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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