The EU letter

I see a letter written by John Penrose to the PM about Brexit and supported by others has been leaked to the press. I am asked why I do not comment on it.

The letter was intended to be private, and is a small part of the many daily dealings MPs have with Ministers. I do not myself report private conversations or private letters sent to Ministers, and certainly not those written by others. I set out here my views clearly, which will be reflected in what I say and write to Ministers and what I support that others propose. I  put here details of meetings or letters I have initiated  where appropriate.

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  1. Andy
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    So it was a private threat to Mrs May rather than a public one.

    How very grown up.

    Time to drain the swamp.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      So Andy it is OK for Remain supporters to promote their views and put pressure on the Govt but not those who support Brexit.
      What a strange idea of the democratic process you have.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Well, he supports the EU against his own country and people and he has the EU’s idea of democracy. And he has its idea of the rule of law, as well.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Did you bother to read Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech?

      “The government’s negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: PM speech”

      How is it a “threat” if Tory MPs write to tell a Tory Prime Minister that they still support what she said in a speech she made last January?

      You want her to backslide and betray the electorate, and you may be getting your way, while they just want her to stick with what she said.

      • Hope
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        It is a threat because they know, as you and I have pointed out, she has failed to deliver or uphold many of the twelve points in the Lancaster speech. May capitulated in phase one, in stark contrast to her Lancaster speech and red lines, she was aware of the fake Treasury report to scare or force leave ministers to accept remain in another name or keep as close as possible to fool the public. Leave MPs made the veiled threat because she is failing democracy. Again, Letwin was right, upholding the public vote is more important than any issue before parliament. The traitors in both houses who want a foreign power to rule over our country, while they line their pockets with our money pretending to be in charge while managing EU rule, must be outed for what they are.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 22, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          It should be seen as extraordinary that some parliamentarians are so desperate that their Parliament should NOT have the power to control the country’s trade policy, and it should NOT have the power to control the immigration policy, etc etc. If we weren’t so used to years of them wangling so that the power would lie outside the country with the EU then it would seem much more extraordinary than it does. I think it could be a good question to put to them: why are they opposed to the UK Parliament having the power to do this or that?

    • L Jones
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Typical negative remainder, Andy. Perhaps you should try to be positive for a change – you might even dislike yourself if you stepped outside your own bubble. See ourselves as others see us. Look up! The stars are far more interesting than your navel.

    • L Jones
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Andy – your EU. Your swamp.

  2. percy openshaw
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough, Mr Redwood – but you must understand that many people are now seriously alarmed by the turn that the Brexit process appears to be taking and they want reassurance. In yesterday’s Telegraph, William Hague argued that the Conservative party’s parliamentary numbers dictate a compromise Brexit, as otherwise Tory rebels might join with Labour and others to rule out a WTO arrangement. It has since been suggested that parliament cannot go back on the vote to leave, whether or not we have a deal – but given the wind in the Remainers’ sails, I am not so sure. Moreover, it seems that Mrs May has neglected to arrange for this scenario. And now she is asking for an “indefinite” transition period. Like Osborne’s deficit reduction, one can see this stretching into the murk of the distant future. What, in heaven’s name then, can be done?

    • Peter Wood
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 2:14 am | Permalink

      It is an excellent letter, presumably written after learning the lessons of stage 1, including:
      1) DUP showed how to ‘guide’ the PM to an acceptable solution
      2) Get in early, we don’t want a repeat of the DUP event!
      3) Remind the PM of her stated principles, she seems a bit forgetful.
      4) Mrs May always seeks the middle course, make sure your own side defines that middle course.
      5) In excess of 48 signatures — priceless!

      • Sarah
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        62 Tory MPs wrote this disloyal letter. Over 200 are disgusted by these far right nationalist posturings

        • percy openshaw
          Posted February 23, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          Far right? If you call constitutional, civic nationalism “far right” you are clearly yourself from the far left. It was a technique sadly typical of communists before the war and for many years after that, to characterise perfectly moderate, humane positions as “fascist”. Conservatives, of course, were “fascist”; so were Liberals; social democrats were “social fascists” and so on. It is a despicable slur and you show yourself up by stooping to it. Unless you have anything sensible to offer, don’t you think you should go back to sleep?

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Percy Openshaw

      And now she is asking for an “indefinite” transition period. Like Osborne’s deficit reduction, one can see this stretching into the murk of the distant future.

      It never ceases to amaze me that people when elevated to the executive positions, only then do they show their absolute level of incompetence. Do they ever listen to the what the majority of the population voted for? It would seem not.
      Feel the fear and do it anyway. In short JFDI Now. Elevate people with the experience, conviction and belief to deliver us from all of this madness.

  3. James Matthews
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t look as though the letter has had much effect. Today we have news that the government plans an indefinite transition period, full freedom of movement and a right to settle during that period (which will of course encourage a rush of migrants from the poorer EU countries) plus oversight by the ECJ. How long can this open betrayal go on?

    • Richard1
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      It should be remembered that Norway’s current arrangements with the EU were entered into as a transitional period – in 1994. Remainers May wish to note that, unsatisfactory as Norway’s arrangements are meant to be (fax democracy etc), there is no significant support for actually joining the EU, even amongst the political and business establishment class. How can that be?

      • ian wragg
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        I think you are wrong, the political establishment in Norway are very pro EU it is just the uneducated and elderly plebs that won’t let them join. The deal is seen as some to be so bad that there is whispers of pulling out of the EEA.

  4. MickN
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m getting heartily sick of all these “leaks” John. Is any attempt being made to discover the source of these and start some prosecutions?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      No, probably because whoever actually does the leaking the leaks are being planned and ordered at the highest level, so in that sense they are “official” leaks. It is utterly disgraceful that the government is proceeding in this dishonest way, but then if they weren’t familiar with dishonesty before we joined the EEC/EC/EU/USE they will have learned it during the long period of our involvement with the project.

      • L Jones
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Denis.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Would be interesting to find the mole though John, as clearly this person/persons cannot be trusted, what else are they leaking to the press, or indeed and perhaps to the EU.

    Perhaps you have a spy in Parliament !.

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Alan Jutson

      Especially in the light of the accusations being made of certain Labour party members. They could be sending information to anywhere in the world at a touch of a button.

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Off this prohibited topic, then, I watched the BBC’s Daily Politics, today including PMQ’s, and I began to wonder whether the government itself understands that the UK staying in the EU Customs Union, or alternatively forming a new additional customs union with EU, would not by itself be enough to solve the problem of the Irish land border.

    In fact it seems to me that it would be neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for continued absence of border checks on the mere £2.4 billion of goods imported into the Irish Republic from Northern Ireland (in 2016), worth barely 0.1% of UK GDP and involving maybe 7% of the Northern Ireland economy.

    So I looked up the government’s position paper from last August:

    to see whether this understanding was expressed therein, to find in paragraph 36:

    “… Customs controls were first introduced at the land border in 1923, shortly after the establishment of the Irish Free State. These controls, and the associated system of ‘approved roads’, were maintained to varying degrees until the European Single Market was formally established in December 1992.”

    In other words, the UK and Ireland were both in the EEC, or EC, and so in its Customs Union, for two decades before the advent of the EU Single Market finally made it possible to dispense with border controls; the Customs Union alone had not been sufficient for that purpose, and it is questionable whether it was even necessary once the Single Market had been set up.

    So when I read an article like this:

    “UK will have to have a customs union post-Brexit, says Corbyn”

    “Labour leader says access to European markets and no hard border in Northern Ireland are key to Labour’s position”

    I wonder why the government doesn’t smack him down and point out that if he is looking for that kind of solution to the Irish border problem then he will have to include the EU Single Market, and that of course comes with uncontrolled and unlimited migration.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      “The Legatum Institute paper contained two surprising (to me) sets of trade statistics: first, turnover in Northern Ireland, with only 5 per cent going to the Republic of Ireland (and 3 per cent to the rest of the EU) … ”

      And that is the 5% of the Northern Ireland economy, 0.1% of UK GDP, which is being used to try to keep 100% of the UK economy subject to all EU laws.

      • Winston
        Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        That was agreed back in December, do keep up

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          It is questionable what was “agreed” in December, if anything, do try to understand about constructive ambiguity.

    • John O'Leary
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      You are right about the need for A customs union between the UK and the EU., i.e. there is no case for it. However if you regard the EEA and the Single Market as one and the same then you are wrong to say then it membership of the EEA “comes with uncontrolled and unlimited migration”. As I am sure you are aware Articles 112/113 of the EEA agreement provides for unilateral action to be taken by any of the EFTA/EEA states to limit or even call a total halt to any (or all) of the four freedoms. You will also know that Iceland used Art 112 to stem the flow of capital during the 2008 financial crisis and the Liechtenstein now have a permanent opt out from FoM of people enshrined in a protocol originating from their invocation of Art 112.

    • Sarah
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      But mrs may signed up to all this in december!

  7. Bob
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Why is the PM asking for an indefinite “transition period”?
    Twenty months has already passed since we decided to leave, why the vacillation?

    • DaveM
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Will Barnier’s 31 Dec 20 be the only EU demand May actually fights?

      • ian wragg
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        You are probably right, fighting tooth and claw to remain in the “big tent”.

  8. Southsouthwest
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    But you did sign it John- you are in the same camp with others who if political considerations are right for you, would have no hesitation in bringing this government down causing huge political and economic damage to the country at this critical time- there’s no doubt about it- the UK at this time is in an impossible position and the government with Mrs May needs all of the support she can get from backbenchers and without this needless sniping.

    question? Just where is all of this new international trade as promised by Rees-Mogg Fox and others going to come from..why havn’t the Bavarian car workers rallied around as promised by IDS and why are the French Wine growers not doing handstands to get the French government on side as promised by Gove…none of these things have happened and we are now staring into the abyss

  9. acorn
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    All letters sent to ministers should be public property, plus the minutes of all meetings with lobby groups. Named individuals could be redacted in the first instance, but a Court could resined any redaction in the public interest.

    At last “remainers” now have a clearly defined enemy to concentrate on; the “ERG 62”: as per the Penrose MP letter. Penrose is normally bog standard party lobby fodder. It looks like he has been set up to be the ERG 62 Brexiteer’s sacrificial goat, if / when it all goes tits up.

  10. duncan
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Keep up the pressure on May. She’s not too be trusted and she lacks steel which is what we’re going to need as we move forward

    The UK, its political and social values, its democratic structures and its reputation is under threat from the EU, the fascist left (Labour and the darkening threat of Momentum) and the creeping authoritarianism of a state and its aligned organisations that is now more concerned with silencing views that are deemed ideologically tainted

    The politics of today is as febrile and dangerous as it as ever been. The Fascist left want to silence us all

  11. Timaction
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Thank you MR Redwood. However it does beg the question why you and over 60 other MP’s felt compelled to write to Ms May? Do you all have doubts about her backsliding as well? She needs to comply with the instructions provided by over 17 million British people, the largest in our history, who want out of everything the EU and anything however small where it has an element of control over us!
    We will never allow our politicos to lie and deceive us over our sovereignty, knowingly given away by stealthy treaty change over 40 years. Shame on all those in Westminster who practised this gross misconduct on the British people, particularly the Conservative party by lying on its true intentions from the outset!

    • Carla
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      The irish border. How many times? We must apply all the EU’s rules to keep the irish border open. May signed this off in december. Seems 62 MPs never noticed

      • Edward2
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        If Northern Ireland wants free trade it is up to the South to erect their barriers.
        The South have more to lose.
        It isn’t really “signed off”
        It only becomes something if a whole EU UK satisfactory deal is achieved.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        You don’t seem to have noticed that it’s the EU who are threatening to put border checks on THEIR side of the border (we have already said we won’t put any on our side) so isn’t a better solution that the EU apply all OUR rules ?

  12. Harry
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    So it seems the rat group are going to put j.R-M forward as an alternative PM..well if that happens we will surely end up at the cliff edge

  13. a-tracy
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Just watching channel 4’s biased reporting yet again, where is the balance, the other side of the argument. One more insult about northern hics, actually keep insulting us, I’ve turned over and for the sake of my blood pressure I won’t be watching this news program again.

    • Bob
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Channel 4 news is incredibly one sided, they are incapable of challenging the EU.

      Even that program that followed at 10pm (“Damned”) about the social workers had a discussion between Jo Brand and her colleagues wherein leave voters were ridiculed and they discussed ways they would like to torture Nigel Farage.

      Blatant political propaganda dressed up as entertainment. It’s revealing that they stop short of satire where the Labour Party, the EU or any of the other lefty sacred cows are concerned.

  14. Adam
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Those with the highest quality standards tend to set their own. You, Mr Redwood, maintain loyalty to yours and are widely respected for doing so by your constituents & many others.

  15. a-tracy
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Why did May release this private and confidential letter, who is close enough to the PM to see it, copy it and to release it without her permission they need sacking for gross misconduct.

  16. am
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    No comment on the gov’s released paper. An open ended transition is proposed unless we are to believe Steve Baker. Is there no end to this fudge and fake Brexit.

  17. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    T May’s reply to the letter will be more interesting.
    Her actions will be even more interesting even than that.
    She can only sit on the fence for so long. The nails are poking through now.

  18. Peter
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I am not sure others intended this letter to be private.

    It seems to be a respectful and timely reminder to the prime minister.

    Even the BBC notes the number of signatories and compares it to the number required to force a leadership election.

    I am not sure how it will all play out but our Brexit negotiating team definitely need to raise their game.

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Yea but the problem with that letter is it shows what you and the others thought were the top priorities, and misses out completely immigration which is the number one priority with voters. So the letter in itself demonstrates clearly the gap between our political reps and the voters. Mind you the Labour party is busy announcing ever more open doors immigration policies which are likely to keep the Conservatives the “least worst option” despite being very much a shambles. I only pick immigration because its the big obvious crystal clear example with proves a very big point.

    Where are the politicians with empathy for what people are really feeling and thinking?

    • mancunius
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Surely immigration is a secondary issue – once we have control of our borders and have put the chains of the Treaty of Lisbon behind us, we decide our own policies on immigraton, both from the EU and from elsewhere. What we must avoid is the kind of nonsense that that many newer trading nations try on these days, where trading a few oranges and widgets means their unemployed have large-scale immigration rights over here.

      Personally, the principal reason why I voted Leave was to regain our sovereignty and independence, and national control of our own affairs, which the Treaty of Lisbon, the Brussels Commission ‘Griff nach der Macht’ and the ratcheted increase of QMV have made utterly impossible.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 1:08 am | Permalink

      Iain Gill

      “Where are the politicians with empathy for what people are really feeling and thinking?”

      No disrespect intended, but is this a serious question?

      Tacitly, we all know the answer “politicians, by and large, could not give a flying kangaroo about peoples feeling, and especially not about their thinking”….has the past two years not convinced you of that?

      However, there are some genuine individuals and our kind host, I trust, is one of them!

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Iain Gill

      Where are the politicians with empathy for what people are really feeling and thinking?

      All condemned to sitting on the back benches.

  20. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    When was the last time a civil servant or a minister or a SPAD was disciplined for leaking anything to the press ? Indeed has it EVER happened ?

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      Roy Grainger

      Governments leaking inflammatory stories is the norm; indeed, now most probably policy?

  21. Andy
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    So transition plans from Mad Max Davis’ department are published.

    The Tory hard-right pensioners’ position could be summed up in two sentences.

    “We totally, fully, completely and utterly capitulate. We will be permanently subservient to the EU having humiliated our nation.”

    Good job Brexiteers, good job. 2022 – election wipeout.

    • DaveM
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      I stopped reading that after the pathetic insult in the first line.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Odd view.
      You ought to be thrilled.

    • mancunius
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Personally, I thought it an excellent letter: polite, supportive, tactful, succinct, making vital points, and reminding the PM that sizeable numbers of her own MPs want to help the PM lead Britain safely out of the EU and avoid the traps being laid by the EU for a transition period. Their headings are all to the point. I cannot disagree with a single proposition. Everyone should read it.

      Oh, and the letter even comes with the special recommendation of Anna Soubry, who said she found it ‘disappointing’. I can think of no better reason to seek out its text (e.g. The Spectator) and study it, leaked or not.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 21, 2018 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      But what point in having any election now that it is clear for all to see that we were only ever allowed to vote if it was in an EU compliant way ?

      For that reason alone the Leave result was good.

      “Pensioners did it.”

      Not so. I’m barely older than you.

      “Hard right”

      I know what’s in my own head and that you’re a slanderer. I don’t want to be a member of a club that you like.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      No Andy. It is not the pensioners that want this pathetic attempt at leaving the EU. We have more back bone than our governments it would seem. We want a clean break, a complete exit because we have faith in our own abilities to run our own country.

      • Andy
        Posted February 22, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Not so. You want a clean break because your dislike of foreigners outweighs your personal economic interests. No doubt you’re retired and assume your income is safe.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      There’s a lot of prejudice on the Left at the moment, ageist sneering about “pensioners” can be added to (allegations of ed) anti-Semitism within Labour which has led to several expulsions and (allegations of ed)sexism too (all 17 on the shortlist for Momentum regional chairs are men).

  22. The Great Ear
    Posted February 21, 2018 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I should just send Mrs May the Article 50 letter and ask if she remembered to post it as there is not any sign the EU is taking our leaving seriously yet. Little wonder with the Chancellor behaving like Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170.

  23. miami.mode
    Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Unless I’ve got it wrong, Jeremy Corbyn asked Theresa May at PMQs if she had seen the letter in the Daily Telegraph. Does he therefore think that she would not read a letter addressed to her personally, marked Private and Confidential and signed by a substantial number of Conservative MPs?

  24. Prigger
    Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Nicky Morgan has got the Treasury Committee starting an investigation into digital money.

    My own opinion is that no matter how many digital coins you may have or had, you can only acquire the whole of Mayfair, even half of London, either by playing well at Monopoly or having furnished William I with half his invading army of French mercenaries.

  25. Dennis Zoff
    Posted February 22, 2018 at 12:52 am | Permalink


    As you have not replied to a single comment thus far, must we conclude any reassurances from you would be pointless?

    We support you, but frankly, it seems the Brexiteer MPs are being outfoxed, cunningly outmaneuvered by Remoaners and clearly ignored by the PM.

    What a sorry state of affairs!

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink


      Remainers are not fooling anyone.

      Their defiance is a good second best to real Brexit. They have been forced to show us where we stand.

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Denis Zoff

      We support you, but frankly, it seems the Brexiteer MPs are being outfoxed, cunningly outmaneuvered by Remoaners and clearly ignored by the PM.

      You got that more than right Denis. If we had got a full cabinet of leavers in every way come the day of the great reckoning when we are really successful and in total control of our destiny they would have all been super heroes in the unlikely premise is that they had failed they would be banished from Westminster forever.

    • Andy
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      On the contrary Brexiteers are getting the complete mess they voted for. This was all entirely predictable to anyone who bothered to understand the issues.

      Interestingly – and amusingly – it is going to get a hell of a lot worse for you all before it gets better. Enjoy.

    • Endo
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      I fully agree. If Redwood and Mogg had any backbone, they woukd be gettind rid of May, not writing silly letters

  26. Prigger
    Posted February 22, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    One can tell the EU faces a UK Heath Robinson Negotiating team. The only successful outcome thus far is three million EU nationals are okay here and one million British nationals are okay there. In other words

    EU 3 UK 1

    Mrs May is hoping for Extra Time ( two years plus ) Hahahahahahahha.
    Though it is the Injury Time she has inflicted upon us that counts., for her and her Cabinet supporters

  • 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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