That Customs Union again

How many more times do we need to explain the Customs issues to the media and to some of the Remain peers and MPs?

The government’s debate about the New Customs Partnership or Max Fac (Maximum Facilitation) is we read inclusive. There does seem to be general agreement there is no worked out model of a New Customs Partnership that everyone thinks will work, and certainly no buy in to the original concept from the EU. No 10 has denied rumours that the government now wants to extend transition. That would be a very bad idea.

I suggest the government leaves the NCP  debate, and goes back to the basics of the negotiation. They tell us they have worked up a No Deal option and are prepared to leave without a deal next March, though they are very keen to have a deal. So the first requirement in any briefing of Ministers and in public statements should be to set out clearly how the system will work with No Deal as the base case. This is not difficult to do, as we know how we currently trade with the rest of the world under WTO rules and with the EU tariff schedule, and we know that works. Many so called complex supply chains need components from outside the EU and they come in just in time. We can then negotiate better terms with the rest of the world, reducing the tariff barriers that already exist. Any deal needs to be better than No Deal.

The government should then ask the EU if it wants a tariff free deal or not. Assuming it does we then do not need to put the extra customs line into electronic filings for EU goods in the way we currently do for non EU goods. The UK and EU can negotiate the exact terms quite quickly, as it can be based on Canada plus extra items that reflect our current arrangements for service access to each other’s markets.

If the EU does not want a free trade agreement with us then we end the idea of a Deal and ensure proper enforcement of the smooth border arrangements under the WTO Facilitation of Trade Agreement . We should agree a sensible way of dealing with detailed matters to ensure smooth flows of trade, which are much in the EU’s interest.


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  1. Ian wragg
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    But May is taking orders from Brussels. She is a remainer and has chosen to weaponise the Irish border.

    • Peter
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Yes. Most on here do not need to be convinced about No Deal.

      However, the Prime Minister still remains in power. Nobody seems willing or able to remove her and she grows in confidence about handling her own party differences.

      Brexit in Name Only has been a likely outcome for a very long time now.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      It seems so. But I am not sure she is bright enough to have planned that. She just seems far too daft, wrong headed and dopey to have actually planned it.

      She even thought a punishment manifesto would win her votes. Or was that part of the devious plan too?

    • Richard
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
  2. Peter Wood
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Dr. Redwood, like many of your regular readers, I completely agree and support your view here. The problem is not us, it is the PM and cabinet who, reportedly, differ from this perspective. With your like minded colleagues, please make appeal to the PM to follow this approach, and do so in a robust manner. It is the PM’s weak negotiating style that puts us in our present dilemma.
    Regarding the WTO option, you have said that the government is prepared for a No Deal, or WTO terms, option, will you kindly ask the minister for confirmation of that preparedness in committee or the House?

    • Peter Wood
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      PS, we are of course wasting our time talking to any of the bureaucrats at the EU. May I suggest the UK government learn a lesson from Mr. Putin, when you want to talk to the person who runs the European Union you to talk to the Empress in Berlin.

      • margaret howard
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        “The Empress in Berlin” is a tactless and unpleasant slur on the chancellor who has the clearest head and courage of her conviction of any politician at the moment.

        While Britain plays its ongoing role of American poodle with Mrs May having behaved disgracefully by paying over £1b in Danegeld to the bigots in the DUP for the 10 votes necessary to keep herself and her party in power, she cannot be trusted as a serious, reliable partner in those very challenging times.

        Reply If spending money on programmes in part of the UK is “danegeld” what is paying another £40 bn to the EU once we have left?

        • margaret howard
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          The two have nothing in common. If those were the fees agreed as part of our EU membership then it is our duty to honour them. Paying Danegeld is rewarding the blackmailer.

          Rumour has it that Mrs May is about to repeat her immoral stunt by packing the overstuffed House of Lords with yet more of her appointees to stop any opposition there. Imagine the outrage by the British red tops if any other Western European leader had behaved in such anti democratic, dictatorial manner.

          • NickC
            Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            Margaret Howard, You are right, the two have nothing in common. The UK government spending UK taxpayers money in the UK is perfectly normal and happens every day. Including in places like Scotland, where the majority of politicians oppose Mrs May’s government.

            On the other hand the “£40bn” (actually £39bn net, gross is probably nearer £100bn) is an exorbitant bribe squandering UK taxpayers’ money on the EU with the sole intention of buying its approval. For our government to submit to EU blackmail is outrageous and anti-democratic.

        • Richard
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          Page 25 of this well known report makes clear that there is not even a moral obligation to pay the divorce bill:–analysis-of-potential-financial-liabilities.pdf “Mr Cameron’s Bloomberg speech in which he announced an In-Out referendum on membership was given in January 2013, whereas the current MFF and ORD run from the beginning of 2014 and were negotiated and agreed during 2014. So all the Member States knew when the ORD and MFF were agreed that it was all dependent on the UK voting to stay in the EU in the referendum.”

          And the final cost could be far higher – if HMT are wrong that: i) ‘contingent liabilities’ eg the Ukrainian Loan guarantees will never be called, (ii) to assume “a greater proportion of decommitments than the EU usually assumes – ‘total possible liabilities of £90 billion’ )

          The £40Bn estimate also excludes areas defined as outside the EU Budget eg ‘European Development Fund’ There is also no moral reason for the UK not to receive its share of EU assets (Galilleo, EU buildings etc) or retained prior year profits at the EDB. True Dane-geld.

  3. Lifelogic.
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    As you say:- If the EU does not want a free trade agreement with us then we end the idea of a Deal and ensure proper enforcement of the smooth border arrangements under the WTO Facilitation of Trade Agreement.

    Indeed, but alas we have the cave in, dire, socialist, dithering, robotic, electoral liability, broken compass, punishment manifesto, remainer T May who is caving in to the EU on every single issue, exactly as I expected. May simply does not understand negotiation nor anything else much it seems. What sensible person would appoint or retain Hammond at no 10?

    • Adam
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      The substantive fault attributed to Mrs May, was her expectation prior to the last General Election of a dominant Conservative majority. It was probably that which prompted her to include well-intended radical elements in the manifesto so soon. However Conservative voters’ aversion to the personal cost & suddenness of those, & J Corbyn’s overstated offers to improve student finances, combined to turn the tables into what now prevails.

      Poor opinion of Mrs May’s actions now in office might be justified, yet ultimately, the full value of performance is known only after the event. Historians might later regard her as superior in achievements to Margaret Thatcher, reaching higher in her own different way.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        “It was probably that which prompted her to include well-intended radical elements in the manifesto so soon.”

        No it was just typical moronic stupidity on her part. To think that a punishment manifesto was a vote winner – and this from the position of the highest taxes for 40 years, a massive bloated state delivering fairly dire public services.

        “Historians might later regard her as superior in achievements to Margaret Thatcher, reaching higher in her own different way.”

        No. Sensible Historians will see her as a socialist dope and economic disaster area like Major, Blair, Brown, Heath, Cameron ….. Lefty historians will see her as being no where near left wing enough. Thatcher made huge mistakes (not cutting taxes & the state sufficiently, the EU treaties, the ERM and allowing the appalling John Major to follow her) but she was hugely superior to T May who is clearly not even a Conservative and has totally the wrong economic policies (and chancellor).

        • Adam
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink


          The manifesto intended to fund care by charging those with assets, & did seem like unfair punishment of prudent folk. It was well-intended, but not thought through, & somewhat stupid too; so agreed.

          I referred only to what her legacy might be. Your prediction might be right when retrospect enables judgement.

  4. oldtimer
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    You have described an eminently sensible approach. Unfortunately Mrs May appears to be travelling a more convoluted approach to the negotiations. I used to trust her words. No longer. Only actions count. So far they are wanting.

    In the meantime any business that has not got its systems ready for a No Deal outcome deserves to fail.

  5. Mark B
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    I voted to leave the EU. So did the majority of people that took part. What was not on the paper or what was debated was how we should leave. Too much emphasis was given on trade and German motor manufacturers and French wine producers and how it will affect them. A few, such as myself, realised that it will be the EU Commission that the UK will be dealing with and that their criteria has little to do with trade. The EU Commission is more concerned with keeping their project on track and together then what happens to the economy. Because unlike politicians these people do not have worry about what the little people think.

    The EU have form when it comes to referendums. It ignores them. Whatever is being said or done we will not be leaving the EU. And judging by the comments recently I think just about everyone agrees with that.

    All that is left to do is try and put as much gloss on our eventual ‘deal’ so as to keep the CONservative Party together. That’s the plan.

    The PM will be gone before the next election. A new face, probably Alexander Johnson MP, will be installed and Tories will hope to beat Labour.

    The thing that makes me sad is the fact that such a wonderful oppotunity, not just for the UK but those outside the EU, to further grow and prosper has been wasted.

    Greater minds than the feeble bunch we have would have ceased the day and oppotunity with relish. Not so our pygmies.

    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Let’s stop the pretence. Theresa May’s no intention of taking the UK out of the EU.

    She is determined to circumvent the wishes of the people expressed decisively in 2015.

    She is determined because she knows she can and my party’s MPs have given her a mandate to do so. This mandate’s emboldened her, her Europhile supporters and indeed the EU and its acolytes

    The DUP and the NI-Ire. border issue is being used by the EU to hammer a wedge between Europhiles and Eurosceptics. It seems the EU, Barnier, Juncker and Merkel are succeeded.

    This is the direct result of politicians without principles, without decency, without respect for democracy and a contempt for the general populace.

    As private citizens we cannot impose our will upon a political class that’s become unaccountable, untouchable and out of control

    We entered our preferences during the EU referendum and all participants sincerely believed that the result would be adhered to and fully implemented. That belief’s been exposed as a sham. It is a total betrayal of our trust, our nation and our democracy

    Stop the pretence John. You know full well that this person who leads our party will betray the will of the people expressed in 2015. She will betray that will because you and your colleagues, who have the power to influence her, have chosen to afford her leeway.

    We expect vile behaviour from that party they call Labour (incidentally, a decent, moral party that died in the early 1970’s) but for my party to behave in such a manner is beyond the pale

    My party’s lost its direction, its soul, its meaning, reneged on its responsibilities and capitulated to the liberal left.

    Do the right thing and get us out of the EU. If May won’t get us out then depose her and elect someone who will

  7. Peter
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Well yes the government SHOULD lay out how we could proceed on a ‘No Deal’ basis.

    The trouble is they keep dropping hints that ‘No Deal’ is not really an option.

    Then the civil service leak stories that we are not at all prepared to go along that route.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Indeed May could negotiate her way out of a paper bag.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        – could not negotiate

  8. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    No deal and no divorce money.

    That suits me fine.

    Only 10 months to go, and I just hope the parliamentary deadlock results in no deal and we leave without an agreement, rather than the PMs veiled promises of 10s of billions going to the EU.

  9. Andy
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Of course the government has partly done this already.

    It has done a full impact analysis which found that your favoured ‘no deal’ Brexit makes us 8% poorer.

    Brexiteers gave their standard response to this – a lot of fact free angry ranting.

    The impact analysis also shows that every other Brexit options makes your constituents poorer too.

    You are knowingly making people poorer.

    As for you demand for ministers to publish details of future customs arrangements – you are being rather ambitious.

    This is a government so incompetent that it would struggle to publish advice that Tuesdays follow Mondays. We are dealing with that level of ministerial ignorance with this mob.

    Still it is your side of your party which is in charge – and it is repeatedly demonstrating its extreme incompetence. I for one am really rather enjoying it.

    • Richard1
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Even with Mrs May as Leader the Conservatives are 5% ahead. Imagine how much greater the lead will be when we get an effective and inspiring leader like Michael Gove!

    • Tony Sharp
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      The ‘Governemnt’ did no ‘impact alnanlysis’ – anonymous civil servants produced a ‘cooked’ report to show the same ‘results’ as Project Fear’ during the Referendum. II t is obvious our Civil Servants at the most senior level will do anyhting to remain in the EU. All of the remain projections were proven uunfounded. The 8% you mentioned is a predicted decline over fifteen years from No Deal. that is a compunded rate of decline of 0.53% which as these same experts predicted a catastrophic outcome of 10% following from a Leave Referendum result is extraordinry. If these people can predict with such accuracy such tiny movements over 15 years then they should be Billionaires playing the Stock and ForEx Markets – the fact is they are cosseted bureaucrats whose little cosy world of administration was blown apart by the Referendum and democracy, an accountability they are opposed to.

  10. agricola
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    The question I ask is, if you can be clear on the matter why cannot government. We cannot blame remain or some of the press for creating their own ideas and interpretations if they are operating in an information vacuum. There is of course malicious intent on the part of both, but it is government that is giving them the opportunity.

    The requirement of the UK is simple. Free trade ,no strings, for goods and services, in which case the electronic paperwork stays the same as now. Alternatively trade on WTO rules with a need to adjust the information exchanged electronically. No more Scotch Mist Irish border problem. Should WTO rules prevail with financial trading in doubt, then absolutely no transition payment of any kind. Government should be very clear on this point.

    • Billy Elliot
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink


      And the reply from EU will be as logical: “Those are privileges of single market and customs union. Dream on. There’s the door. Bye”

      • Mark B
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Exactly !

        The EU cannot give the UK a better deal than it has now, not that I think the current deal is any good.

      • agricola
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Then like you out of pique, the EU would be writing their own suicide note. Keep dancing.

  11. Nig l
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    You always make it appear so simple and so logical. I presume as a senior ex minister you can and do share your views with the current crop so why do they seem to be making it complicated or is it third parties?

  12. Richard1
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    There does not seem to be any chance of the government adopting this Approach.

    I suppose the ideal outcome for the EU would be to have the UK in the single market and the customs union, continuing to pay £12bn pa net but not having to listen to the UK’s voice or put up with a UK vote. Given this is precisely the outcome at least 1/2 the political establishment and media in the UK are arguing for, we can hardly blame the EU for sitting there, arms folded, waiting to see whether they get exactly what they want without even asking!

    If this is the outcome, the responsible thing, even for Brexit supporters, would be to admit defeat and take the UK back into the EU proper.

    • TR
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Ha, ha, ha, nice try. Those voting for Brexit won’t give up that easily, why should they?

      • Richard1
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        If the deal is the U.K. is in the single market and in the customs union it is clear that it’s better to be a full member of the EU isn’t it? What possible advantages are there to being ‘out’ of the EU but in the single market and in the customs union? I don’t advocate this but it seems this is the direction of travel.

        • Norseraider
          Posted May 25, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Put simply, the advantage to that (very sub-optimal) outcome would be that we can still push for ‘more Brexit’ later. Whereas, if we ‘go back in’ then there will never be any form of Brexit again.

    • Geoffrey Bastin
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      How could we ever consider admitting defeat and re-joining the EU as you suggest. It would mean joining the single currency, engaging in tax harmonisation across all 28 member states and accepting ever closer political and economic union which would just about finish the UK as we know it. There is no longer a status quo because once we had voted to leave we either go our own way or once and for all submit to the subjugation of the EU empire.

      • Richard1
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Yes it probably would mean all of that. But if the Govt agree we should remain indefinitely in the customs union and in ‘regualtory Alignment’ (ie in the single market) that will be where we are – except with no votes.

      • Andy
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        Brilliant isn’t it. We will leave the EU. But we will be back in again pretty soon – using the Euro as well.

        Young people overwhelming reject Tory hard-right pensioner Brexit – and they are the future and the OAP’s are not.

        If you want Brexit to last it has to work for next generation – and it clearly doesn’t.

        Just look at the Brexit champions we see on our TVs. The are nearly all men. They are nearly all white. They are nearly all aged 65 or over.

        All the young have to do is wait for demographics to take their course.

        Reply The Leave campaign was mainly staffed by a wide range of young women and men who were very enthusiastic about the cause.

        • NickC
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          Andy, You’re saying there are 17.4 million Tory hard right pensioners? Really?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      In hindsight we should have made ourselves far more of a menace to the EU and less of a paymaster.
      The only way out is to be such a pain that divorce proceedings start from their side not ours.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      If we asked to rejoin the EU would insist on different terms, for example elimination of the UK rebate. They might also insist on the application being the same as for a new member and include joining the Euro. Probably Hammond and co would be happy enough.

      • Richard1
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        I doubt it. There are six countries which aren’t in the euro, 4pf which have no agreed opt out and are therefore in breach of the treaties.

    • Stred
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      This is the final stage of the plot. They are calling it a revolution.

  13. John Finn
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:39 am | Permalink


    I could be completely wrong here but aren’t the current NCP/Max Fac discussions related to the infamous paragraph 49 “Scenario C” commitment in the December Joint Report. My, admittedly weak, understanding comes from evidence given by David Davis to the Brexit Select Committee earlier this year when he said something to the effect that although Scenario C was unlikely the EU required full details of how the NI situation would be addressed by the UK.

  14. VotedOut
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    All this is a ruse to keep the elite on the EU gravy-train.

    The UK voted for Brexit – actually a hard Brexit.

    Will the establishment please stop finding a fudge and get on with delivering Brexit – which is already 693 days late.

    • L Jones
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      They’re not ”elite”! Don’t reinforce their own jumped-idea of their self-importance by repeating the word!

      (Otherwise – agree wholeheartedly!)

  15. Adrian Lloyd
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    If we leave without a deal would there need to be a Parliamentary vote on that outcome?

    If there would is it realistic to think Parliament would vote for it?

    If there would not, doesn’t that make the No Deal outcome even more attractive compared to the BRINO outcome we seem to be drifting towards?

  16. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    This won’t happen because the upper echelons of your party not only imagine themselves in the other party’s shoes when they negotiate, they also act on behalf of the other side. We need a party in government working for the country, not against it.

  17. Ian wragg
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Now we begin phase 2 of the Brussels/Irish plan. We must now stay in the Single Market as well as the Customs Union to prevent a hard border.
    So our policy is made in Brussels and Dublin.
    So much for taking back control.
    Just when are you going to get rid of May and Hammond.

    • Alison
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      It was time to move Mrs May on months ago. Ditto Hammond and Robbins.

      It is now desperately urgent. Every time Mrs May emerges from no 10 with a speech, I just know that she is spreading fudge (to put it politely) and that what is really going on is what is being told to us by Mr Varadkar, and various journalists with good (leaky) sources. And as noted above, Barnier and co are just sitting comfortably, booking concession after concession.

      I shall get a strong cuppa and review her ‘I shall deliver Brexit’ and cross-tabulate with what has been signed away in the interim and what is about to be signed away. I will share this (might take more than one cuppa though).

      Actually, what I find really tempting is just to organize a coup. But I suppose that would be naughty.

      • DaveM
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Give me a shout if you do.

        • Stred
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          They have made sure that the top brass in the MOD and cops are Guardian reading tossers, making a coup impossible. Petain and Laval style government rules. The government should remember what fate awaited them.

    • Geoffrey Bastin
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      We don’t intend to have a hard border in Ireland just as we don’t have one now. It is not the UK that is causing a problem but the EU and it is they that can implement a hard border if they wish. Then the IRA will know who their enemies are and it won’t be the UK government.
      The Irish PM and EU are just laying politics because they can see a vacillating UK PM who is clueless and can only lead us up the garden path.
      Please please can someone deliver us from this hopeless woman.

      • Andy
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        If you voted Leave you voted for a hard border with Ireland.

        That is what your vote meant even if you didn’t realise it.

        Perhaps you should have worked out what you were voting for.

        Reply We voted to continue the common travel area and to offer a good free trade deal to Ireland and the rest of the EU. It is up to them to say Yes or No.

        • NickC
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          Andy, It is the EU that insists on hard borders – Fortress Europe in fact.

  18. Know-Dice
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    The problem with the rhetoric from Mrs May and 10 Downing Street is that they are working to the EU’s red lines rather than what is best for the UK.

    How often do we hear “you can’t do that because the EU will not accept it”….

    As you say “They tell us they have worked up a No Deal option and are prepared to leave without a deal next March” , at this stage of what are called “negotiations” that is surely the right strategy.

  19. Bryan Harris
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    JR – I like your straight forward approach…. Why is it so hard for the PM to see it?

    Those that complicate the issue do it for one reason – to confuse and bring doubt, and they do it deliberately. We are all too keen to act as gentlemen, but when are we going to do something about the real traitors in our midst?

    Compromise has been the byword in politics for far too long – It’s time that GB inc. stood up for itself and demanded a fair deal, and just a tad more honesty from those trying to harm us.

  20. Bob
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    @Mr Redwood
    Mrs May and Ollie Robbins should read your blog.

    • formula57
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Quite! And be tested on their comprehension of it before being allowed out on their own.

  21. Stephen Priest
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    100% correct.

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The way Mrs May has conducted this “negotiation” has been nothing but a feeble charade. All the time she has capitulated and given in to the EU. What concession has she received in return?
    The sense of betrayal is palpable and the damage not delivering Brexit will do to our democracy is very dangerous – not that that would concern the EU to whom democracy is anathema.

    • Man of Kent
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Exactly , she has been utterly feeble .
      I wrote to my MP two days ago pointing out :
      – the EU budget needs us – badly .We have promised £40-£50 bn and in return ………..SFA

      -We provide security and intelligence for the EU with troops deployed in Estonia . We have promised this for ever and a day and supported the idea of a Euro Army in return Germany increases defence spending to 1.3% gdp for one year only against our 2%.So we are subsidizing the EU while most of Germany’s tanks and planes are non operational – no money to repair them .
      What have we got in return ?……………zilch .

      -We have allowed the EU to dictate terms over our fishing ……….what have we got in return ?

      – We have leant over to accommodate the Irish Border [non] Problem . We are signing up to regulatory alignment thereby denying us a competitive advantage when we could be negotiating the import of Argentinian beef at a much lower cost than Irish Beef . But that is the aim from an Irish viewpoint ! And again no thanks !

      -We at least have an assurance from TM that we will not get all we want from future negotiations and that there will be compromises . At last I believe her !

      I feel ashamed to be British .

      • David Price
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        I don’t feel ashamed, we have no reason to be ashamed.

        I do feel betrayed and angry. I will not forget nor forgive the actions and behaviour of those in government, the establishment and the media who have undermined Brexit.

        And if the Irish politicians think they have preserved their precious trade by entangling us in the EU they can think again, I’ll go out of my way to avoid buying and using Irish products – agricultural, financial, software, services, whatever. The same goes for our “partners” in Europe.

  23. stred
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    M.Barnier seems to be complaining that the British side of the negotiatons appears to be preparing the way for joining the EU rather than leaving. Says it all really.Perhaps he hasn’t been let in on the details of the plot and needs to phone Lord Mandleson or Chukky, Nicky, Cleggy and the rest of Labour and Conservative MPs who cannot keep their promises or remember what they said during the referendum and want so much to stay and pay for the non-existent plans for a federal state, now revealed.

  24. Adam
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The media have been repeatedly raising claims of entangled impossibilities, solely to arouse controversy, attempting to reduce the boredom of their reader groups. Had they applied similar effort to pursuit of brilliance, solutions would be plentiful.

    If our Govt is using time to research, assess & prepare thoroughly for leaving, both with & without an EU deal, it is becoming an effective negotiator.

    The difference between the alternatives shall soon become in stark contrast. We’ll then be well aware of which is best, & poised to seize it with a vice-like grip. Consequently, the EU would have to offer us something better to grasp, doing which it could choose, or lose.

  25. Lahdedah
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    If it were all so simple as suggested here then it would have been solved a long time ago..

    One thing that bothers me is that I don’t see lined up any of the deals with new trading partners promised by Liam Fox, IDS Gove and deals, they say, would equal or be better than our loss of trade with neighbours the EU- the biggest economic trading bloc on the planet with some 500 million people with huge spending potential- and right on our own doorstep? trading by WTO rules will be just the same..but if it were all so easy why then has Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Canada etc found it necessary to make their own special arrangements with the EU – why are they not just trading just by WTO rules?

    • Andy
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      WTO rules are the second hand Robin Reliant of trade. It will get you there but is a bit naff and nobody would use it if a better alternative was available.

      Single market and customs union membership is the brand new Rolls Royce convertible of world trade. The best of the best.

      17.4m people rejected the Rolls Royce convertible because they were promised something better.

      What are they going to think of the second hand Robin Reliant the Brexiteer car salesmen have really flogged them?

      Reply Entirely false analogy. The Customs Union puts up barriers on the majority of our trade which is with the non EU rest of the world, but despite this WTO supervision means it works well and grows well.

      • NickC
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Andy, There is no doubt that some young people like to hold onto nanny EU’s apron strings. But that is illusory and most will grow out of such dependency. In or out of the EU, our wealth is up to us – overall the EU never has, and never would subsidise us. In fact the reverse – we have subsidised the EU.

        And the fact that the car was the Reliant Robin, not the Robin Reliant as you have it, just illustrates how your poor grasp of facts leads to your erroneous conclusions.

  26. Derek Henry
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    If this suggestion goes to a vote in parliament will it win John ?

    The numbers seem to be against anything other than staying in in one form or another.

    Reply Not so. If the government puts a 3 line whip on pro Brexit there will only be a maximum of a dozen Conservative rebels. With a natural majority of 13 that only requires 6 Labour MPs to vote with us or 12 to abstain for it to go through. We can win the votes to remove the Lords amendments including the customs union as we did the press amendment this week.

  27. Derek Henry
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    As for Damien Green’s plan that pensioners who have paid off their mortgage should use it for care.

    If that is what brexit is going to be like you can shove it where the sun don’t shine. This is what happens when you have idiots in parliament who think we are still on the gold standard. Believe the MONOPOLY issuer of the £ can run out of £’s and that taxes fund the MONOPOLY issuer of the £.

    What a mess of complete and utter ignorance.

    • libertarian
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Derek Henry

      Whilst I agree with you re Damien Green, he’s a buffoon

      Typing the word MONOPOLY in capitals doesn’t make it a fact. The fact is that governments do not have a monopoly on issuing £’s or even more so exchangeable currency . You might try googling fractional reserve banking as a starting point

      • Derek Henry
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        I know how it works.

        I’ve studied the accounting between HM Treasury and the BOE and commercial bank reserve accounts for 6 years.

    • L Jones
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      And you think that the EU actually cares about its member states and their problems? So why should we choose to stay shackled to their ”regime” and give even more of our money – that could be spent on OUR country and its people?

      Remainders like to jump upon anything that might, no matter how ludicrously, justify their stance that the EU is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and would be the answer to all our ills. Yes, we may have idiots in our parliament – but at least it’s OUR Parliament and not one set up by a foreign cabal. We can vote ours out if we don’t like their ideas. Try getting rid of your EU masters. You’d have problems.

      Fortunately, we’ve saved you and other EU admirers from this nightmare scenario.

    • Chris
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Damian Green is not a Conservative.

  28. acorn
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Say, the UK currently imports Widgets via an EU trade agreement with a third country. A 10% import duty is applied to protect EU domestic producers of Widgets, from a third country that operates a much lower labour cost socioeconomic model than the EU. Post Brexit, the UK does a deal and imports the same Widgets with a low or zero import tariff. Unconcerned about UK producers who will go broke.

    Murphy, in the Irish Republic thinks, why pay EU import duty when we can import them into the UK via Trotter’s Independent Trading; on the Ferry to Northern Ireland (NI); stick them in Patrick’s old van that crosses the invisible border into the Republic every day. Sorted!!!

    On the way back, there will be no UK customs, so Patrick’s van can be filled with Potcheen and sold tax and duty free into the UK, via our friends in NI. Cushty!!!

    • Mark B
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      The solution is simple. Remove all Customs Duty from all goods. Let the market decide.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      10% tariff on your UK widget maker won’t make them go broke.
      They could apply efficiencies to their production processes or buy cheaper raw materials thus cutting costs.
      Many manufacturers do this and deal with currency exchange fluctuations of more than 10%.

      Your Ireland scenario is a nonsense.
      There are checks on exporters. You have to fill in customers declarations and VAT forms.
      Your business has to keep accounts for HMRC
      Lie on these documents or your accounts and your fraud can see you fined or even jailed.

  29. sm
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I can only assume that the UK Brexit negotiating team never bothered to consider that Brussels would act as obstructively as possible in order to prevent any other EU States from pondering an exit.

    What did Tusk say the other day? “Europe must be more united economically, politically and militarily than ever before”.

    • Mark B
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:36 pm | Permalink


  30. A.Sedgwick
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    As you and most of us have said the customs union is a fictitious and political argument, which Eire is exploiting. After centuries of home rule for Ireland having been as big an issue in British politics as any, we have witnessed in recent times the willingness of successive Irish Governments give up their sovereignty to Brussels – quite extraordinary. Had the UK not joined the EEC in 1972, it is unthinkable that Eire would have done so alone. Logic now says with UK and USA being Eire’s biggest customers they should leave too. But no we have this contrived argument about a hard border. Unfortunately the N.I. referendum vote had 62% for Remain, so inadvertantly the majority have effectively voted for a United Ireland albeit in name only as the tiny country would disappear into the bureaucratic morass of the EU.

    There should be an EU or UK vote in N.I. to resolve this issue. Even with some Irish ancestry I feel we, as a country, cannot have about 1% of the population causing this unneccesary discord. I would prefer a proper no deal EU exit and lose N.I. than a shameful fudge, let the N.Irish decide and perhaps Eire residents should also have a leave/remain vote too.

  31. Monza 71
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Since the referendum victory, the whole of Brexit has been an unedifying debacle.

    This has its roots in the catastrophic decision by Mrs May and David Davis to allow the EU to set the agenda.

    In any negotiation or project the starting points should be an analysis by the parties of where they are now and a vision of where they want to end up. Once this has been agreed,
    the negotiations can then focus entirely on how to get from A to B with the least possible difficulty.

    The EU were desperate to punish the UK and blackmail us into handing over a huge wad of cash to ease their budget problem. ( in the latter case, this has failed anyway ).
    These matters dominated their thinking.

    May and Davis should never have agreed to their agenda, they should have insisted on settling the trade deal first and everything else could follow. When the EU inevitably refused, May should have gone ahead with planning for No Deal and waited for the 27 to return to the table which, of course, they would have done relatively quickly. If there had been a free trade deal negotiated up front, the Irish border would never have been an issue at all !

    Instead Mrs May and Brussels have got us into a complete mess while her Government is being undermined at every turn by the army of Remainers in Parliament, business and the Civil Service, all immensely complicated by the botched general election result.

    Sadly, Mrs May has to take the blame for this fiasco. The outcome could have been so different but now I fear we that with extended membership of the CU on the table, Remainers will ensure we never really leave.

    PS : With extended CU membership, where does that leave Liam Fox’s department ? I can’t imagine we will be free to negotiate and take up independent Free Trade deals for several years to come, if ever.

    • Stred
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      If we send a turkey to Brussels, they will shoot it. May is the Conservative Party’s sacrificial turkey, to be retired just in time for the election. They think the electorate have little memory and can be distracted by events like royal weddings and football.

  32. WingsOverTheWorld
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I would say much of the opposition to No Deal stems from an irrational fear of the unknown. It would be wise of the Government to spell out what it is doing for No Deal, how far it has progressed and how much more effort it will be putting in to shoring up the option. If people can see that it isn’t an abyss, and is in fact a managed option that delivers the key elements of Brexit, many fears would be put at ease. It would also be helpful for Brexiteers to keep pointing out that No Deal is in fact already a high bar to attain for any EU Deal.

  33. Blue and Gold
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    ‘How many more times do we need to explain the Customs issues to the media’….err, the media , as far as newspapers go, apart from a few sensible ones, are pro- Brexit and in the land of milk and honey.

    The BBC,as always, is scrupulously fair in putting both sides of the argument, as are Channel 4.
    The only reason this country is in the appalling mess of Brexit is because people are dumb enough to believe the anti EU garbage that sections of the media have spewed out for years.
    Intelligent people know and understand the financial and cultural benefits of being linked to 27 other friendly countries.
    There must be a Customs union to avoid a Hard Border with our staunch friends in the Republic. Just because 17.4 million wish to destroy their own country, why on earth should they be allowed stuff up Ireland’s economy. the Taoiseach MUST stand firm and not give in to this Hard Right British government.

    • zorro
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      More nonsense – Who exactly is threatening to put up a “hard border” with our staunch friends in the Republic?? A clue, a clue….. It is not the UK government, it is the EU who is threatening to put it up. So go on then, let’s see it…. Haha pour les oiseaux mon vieux 🙂


      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        For the foreseeable future there is no reason why we should want any change at all at the Irish border. Eventually perhaps we will decide that in some cases goods conforming to EU standards are not suitable for the UK market, for one reason or another, and then we would have to look at how to exclude them and preferably prevent them crossing the border from the Republic. But that would only be some way down the line and even then the best answer might not be to make any changes at border itself.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      You sound more like Dave Spart with every post.
      Try and keep calm.

  34. CharlesV
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Must get tedious for you John saying the the same thing again and again and still not everyone agrees with you? Ever thought that maybe you should try a change of tack?

    It is so depressing that you and the rest of your party are more interested in sounding off and endless repetition of largely meaningless soundbites than you are in finding a pragmatic solution that people outside of your band of acolytes can live with.

    That is why the leader of YOUR party and OUR Prime Minister is having to go through these ridiculous contortions over customs – because the lot of you, on both sides of the debate, have proven yourself time after time of being incapable of working together to find sensible pragmatic compromise over Brexit.

    The battle to come which is much more relevant when discussing the Irish border is regulatory alignment and membership of the single market. If your party can’t even come to a unified position on the side show which is customs, God help us when we actually get into the detail that really matters.

    Slow hand clap children as we welcome Mr Corbyn to No. 10 – you can then carry out your squabbles on the opposition benches as the rest of us have to live with the consequences. Seriously, that is where this ends. That and back in the EU within no time.

    • NickC
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      CharlesV, We didn’t vote for a compromise, we voted to Leave. The compromise position was David Cameron’s renegotiation, which we rejected.

  35. Freeborn John
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    What May is promising the Irish government and EU – to keep us de facto in both the customs union and single market indefinitely – is totally unacceptable. She has to be brought down immediately.

  36. rose
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    We may be making some progress because John Humphrys this morning said to that Irish senator and his allies in the BBC, “Some will say, ‘Told you so: we are being stitched up!'”

    • Tweeter_L
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      rose: yes, I agree. I have noted of late that Mr Humphrys has been asking more penetrating questions on Brexit issues and seeming to take a less deferential, less superficial line than his colleagues when interviewing “Remain” representatives. As far as the Today programme is concerned, he appears to be the lone standard-bearer for the BBC’s erstwhile impartiality.

  37. George Brooks
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Part of the problem in all these negotiations is due to the PM’s up bringing, being the daughter of a vicar and a God fearing lady.

    A short while ago the EU finally admitted that our leaving creates a £12bn short fall in their finances and there is no easy solution. The EU’s finances have been very ‘rocky’ for many years and my vote to leave was based on the EU’s reckless spending which will cause it to collapse, dragging all it’s members down with it. This collapse will happen whether we are a member or not.

    However our leaving will undoubtedly accelerate this collapse and all the misery that will ensue and I think the PM does not want to go down in history as the UK Prime Minister that hastened the final hours of the EU. I am equally sure she does not want it on her conscience and is trying every possible idea to reduce the effect of our leaving.

    The EU negotiators are stupid to ignore this and not accept the cash we have been offering free of all strings and let us go. We are already on the outside and we will go sooner or later

  38. mickc
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    May has always been a Remainer, as has most of the political class; the UK will, in effect, remain in the EU.
    The only positive to emerge is the possibility that the Conservative party is so damaged that another Thatcher attains the leadership.

  39. Rien Huizer
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    It is either the EU relationship (short of membership) or a replacement. I do not believe there is an equivalent set of trading partners available. Certainly the US (a very unrelieable partner right now as even Canada is discovering) offers no suitable replacement. The either/or follows from the nature of the EU’s customs union and single market.

    That brings us back to only two scenarios: either the UK works hard tomaximize the space available to a non-member, or it becomes a fully fledged third country. The EU (having the upper hand) will not accept a relationship that weakens the union and the veto system guarantees that any agreement sought by the UK will be very difficult to negotiate. So the latter option (a hard brexit, to the economic detriment of even the majority of leave supporters, imo) is still very much alive. No need for fantasies about untested “solutions”.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      There is no such thing as a hard Brexit. These terms are used by Remoaners to cloud the debate.
      If leaving the Customs Union and single market is hard then so be it.
      At the last count i think there were157 countries not In the EU and ruled from Brussels.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      No deal is better than a bad deal and no deal looks quite acceptable and preferable to what has so far been agreed and discussed.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      83% of the GDP of the UK is created inside the UK
      Of the remaining 17% about 40% is with the EU and 60% is with the rest òf the world.
      So about 9% of our total GDP is with the EU.
      I think the EU are heading towards a deliberate policy of frustrating EU/UK trade but they will struggle to succeed because of TWO rules and the fact that the EU sell us 80 billion more each year than we sell them and that deficit is mainly generated via France and Germany
      It is worth contemplating these figures and the politics involved.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Typo…..WTO rules.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Those numbers may well be what you see, however they are macroeconomic accounting numbers (and the France-Germany list is misleading, Germany plus the Benelux countries are the bulk of the deficit) and require interpretation to be used in debates like this.

        First, the Germany plus Benelux deficit. The Benelux one has been analysed extensively in Holland and Belgium and the result is that the vast bulk of that figure represents traffic through Antwerp, Rotterdam end Zeebrugge originating predominantly outside the EU for manufactures and petrochemical products and in those countries themselves mainly for agriculture. The German deficit is genuine but also in that case, it is far from certain that Germany will “suffer” after a hostile (maybe better than “hard” exit because the UK public may find out that many German products are difficult to substitute or that German exports represent intra-company trade, hence the result of UK exit (assuming the UK will apply tariffs if the EU does) would simply be more expensive German products that are still being sold.

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Second, the “only 14%” or similar expressions. The impact of a highly integrated economy like the UK is with the EU penetrates much further into UK economic activity than formal imports/exports. A pint of beer sold to a highly paid quality controller at Nissan Sunderland is not an export and the parts made by Aisin UK for that Nissan plant are not exports either but both the pint and the parts end up in exports that would not take place if Nissan moved a large part of production for the EU market to the continent (or Ireland for that matter). Would the foreman find a similar job in Sunderland? Would the publican reach the same turnover without that plant? No one knows but this is exactly the problem many transnational companies in the UK are facing, while the publicans and other participants in a seemingly domestic economy may be oblivious to the threat.

          Reply No threat. Japanese car makers have confirmed their intention to stay and invest here. This is no more a threat than not joining the Euro turned out to be, though we were told if we failed to join lots of businesses would pull out.

          • Rien Huizer
            Posted May 19, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

            Mr Redwood, it would be better for both of us if you were right but I consider that unlikely should your preferred versiuon of brexit -inexpectedly- happen.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          You are assuming trade between European nations and the UK will reduce greatly or even stop.
          I do not think this will happen.
          In fact I think trade will increase in the future.
          Dispite some bureaucrats trying hard to place obstacles hundreds of millions of individuals will continue to purchase the goods and services that they want.

          • Rien Huizer
            Posted May 19, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

            On the contrary, I am assuming BMW will continue to be sold in Britain, of course. But car makers may want to reconsider their location decisions, as the Japanese (70% of UK car production) made clear. Unfortunately no one seems to listen to the Japanese.

          • Edward2
            Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            Recently UK Japanese auto companies have announced big future investment plans for the UK.
            Some auto companies left the UK over the time we were in the EU and some came to the UK .
            Such is the world capitalist marketplace for vehicles.

  40. walter
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    All this hassle to get out of something is ridiculous. It just shows the relevant people who signed up to this didn’t read ( or more likely didn’t care ) what was involved in leaving. Never mind. Just keep throwing the nation’s wealth away for all eternity. Just keep waving in the populations of Asia and Africa for a life on the taxpayer. The people who are coming couldn’t be bothered to make anything of where they lived, so are now being waved in to enjoy the results of what our people did. Govt is throwing our money away, might as well throw our people and our land away as well.

    • Derek Henry
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      We are no longer on the gold standard Walter. Your taxes fund nothing they destroy currency to control inflation. Government spending creates £’s taxes destroy £’s.

      There is not some HUGE shed on the Isle Of Wight that holds our taxes for future use. it would have been empty 299 years ago as we’ve ran budget deficits for nearly 300 years.

      Government spending = the creation of reserves

      Taxes and bond sales = the destruction of reserves

      It is impossible to carry out a reserve drain ( taxes and bond sales) without carrying out a reserve add ( government spending) first.

      HM Treasury spends first and collects taxes afterwards Walter it is the only way we get our hands on the £’s that then allows us to

      a) Pay our taxes

      b) Buy the bonds

    • L Jones
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Sadly, there seem to me many thinking like you, Walter. Isn’t it depressing? When we could already be aiming our buying power and wealth at these ”populations of Asia and Africa” to give their countries strength through trade. Just bringing them into the lifeboat is pointless – soon the lifeboat becomes the vessel needing rescue.

      Wouldn’t the EU be glad of THAT? Divide and rule, perhaps?

  41. Nig l
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    We are told Theresa May is going to stick to Custom rules post 2021. What the hell is going on?

    • Tick-Tock
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s a fall-back position, they say. Fall back and think of England.

    • Lahdedah
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Nig 1..what has happened is that government can now see things in the full light of day..the smoke has cleared..truth is we have boxed ourselves in with very little room to move..there are no new international trade deals out there, at least there are no trade deals that could in any way match what we have at present the EU understand this and being good neighbours are going to throw us a lifebelt in the form of a customs union agreement to get us through until the next generation?

  42. mancunius
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Reading this very sensible summary of a sensible goal, I’m reminded of a Greek folk proverb that you can bang as hard as you can and make as much noise as you like, at the door of a deaf man.
    MPs, peers, academics and civil servants are conspiring to thwart our leaving: they are happy to see the continuation of policies that benefit them, while taxing and disadvantaging the citizen.
    John, if their strategem succeeds, we have seen the death of democracy in this country.

    • hans christian ivers
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 5:50 am | Permalink


      Interesting perspective but probably a bit too on the negative side as long as we still negotiate there is always how of a good outcome for all concerned.

      • NickC
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Hans, A very negative comment from you again. Most of the world is not in the EU and gets by perfectly well. The best outcome for us is the WTO deal, since we cannot have a long enough spoon to sup with the EU.

  43. Michael
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    What is needed is a leader with some bottle. Absent that all the smart ideas in the world get us nowhere. The PM is not one to reach out for anything beyond that which the EU is prepared to offer.

  44. John Sheridan
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I voted leave so it is no surprise that I think you, and your Brexiteer colleagues, have the better arguments. However, Mrs. May does not agree.

    She is like King Théoden in Lord of the Rings. In listening to the poisoned whisperings of Gríma Wormtongue she cannot see anyway to win. This demonstrated by her consistent response of yielding concession after concession to the EU.

    If the latest reported potential concessions are shown to be true, I wonder what action the ERG will undertake. Mutter in the press about sub-optimum outcomes or instigate a leadership challenge.

    I know it’s not without risk, but if the concessions are true, then I hope it would be the latter option.

  45. Atlas
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I agree with nearly all the sentiments of the other posts, who in turn agree with your clear and lucid analysis.

    Does this mean that only a change of PM will get us anywhere?

  46. ian
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Some people just like to talk about nothing because they are small minded.
    I cannot see a problem with any of it if I send goods to the EU from the UK, all I need to know is is there a tariff or not so I can pay the tariff, I know goods will get to there destination like every other country goods do, if you have to alter your just in time program for hold-ups, that what you do but the only holdups they are talking about are at Dover but then again you’ve got Ramsgate going to three diffident ports and Newhaven the same, channel tunnel, Felixstowe, Harwich, and on the other side you have La Havre, Dieppe, Calais, Ostend, Dunkirk, Boulogne.
    As for Ireland, no need to use roads, Belfast to Dublin by sea, all goods from Brittan have to go by sea or by train from Belfast to Dublin, no lorries crossing from north to south, that gives Ireland and EU time to look at the goods and tax them, What ever happens in or out of the EU, its Gov job to keep trade going even if that means subsidies for exporters in Ireland to reroute their goods by train or ship and if Ireland and EU say cars cannot cross btween north and south then its train, ship, or walk.

    • Mark B
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 4:51 am | Permalink

      The supplier does not pay the tariff, it is the buyer. By accepting the CU the people of the UK are effectively paying the EU since it goes to them.

  47. Newmania
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Pretty brave with other people`s jobs aren’t you

    • zorro
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Specious nonsense


  48. John Finn
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink


    If the government go for the NO Deal option, I have 2 questions:

    1. Surely parliament can now effectively veto that decision – can’t they?
    2. How does walking away deal with the NI border issue?

  49. Backoftheenvelope
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    We already have a tariff free trade deal with why do you say we should leave and then negotiate some new tariff free trade’s all nonsense dressed up to look like we are leaving when it’s obvious to everyone now that we are not..there is fresh thinking there on both UK and EU sides to kick the whole thing into touch and wait for another generation to come along..and so to facilitate this there will have to be an interim arrangement..the transition which will go on for years..with the backstop extended to the whole of the UK..all necessary until calmer times and more enlightened political figures emerge..truth is..there is no new big trading world out there waiting for us..that was called the Empire and it has long time passed.

    • zorro
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      It’s not free – it costs nett £12bn – no single market in services and a trade deficit of £80bn….


    • mancunius
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      That’s not ‘fresh thinking’: it’s the tired, lazy, clichéd, cowardly passivity of the hard-of-thinking.
      You are the weakest link…

  50. Simon
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    How do the so called WTO rules assist us in exporting animal and vegetable based products into the EU ?

    How do our airlines operate once outside the plethora of EU treaties that permit just that ?

    How does the WTO help with REACH ?

    More flying unicorns Mr Redwood.

    • zorro
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Do EU airlines want to fly into the UK or through our airspace?


      • Simon
        Posted May 23, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        You are not really grasping this are you ?

  51. hans christian ivers
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Reading the various inputs makes really sad reading with not much prospect of a good deal with the EU, as we are told all our politicians are incompetent.

    As long as we are negotiating there must be a solution that is to the benefit of us and everybody else in Europe as this has worked in the past.

    I am still optimistic as long as we keep talking as we have to continue trading in the future as well and there is a big difference between 46% of trade with 500 million people and 54% of foreign trade with about 5 billion people

    • NickC
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Hans, Yes, there is much more opportunity selling to 5 billion people than 430 million serfs of the EU empire.

  52. Helen Smith
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Why are you not in the cabinet? Get David Davis and May in a corner and spell this out to them in words of one syllable, Julian Smith and Olly Robbins too. Get Dyson in on the negotiating side, you really need someone who has actually closed out a business deal. Strewth, the incompetence here is mind blowing.

  53. RupertP
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    EU to UK – You can have a free trade deal like Canada, providing you sign up to our “level playing field” provisions. JR: Would you agree to the EU’s level playing field provisions? (e.g. no cutting of corporation tax below current levels, no cutting of social provisions etc.)

    EU to UK: A Canada style free trade agreement is insufficient to prevent a customs border at Dover / Calais, as UK wants regulatory autonomy (i.e. different standards) and does not want to be in the EU customs union (i.e. different tariffs and non-tariff barriers from other countries). A customs border for inspections is therefore required, as EU required inspections of goods / food etc. will not have taken place. JR – Even with electronic submission of customs declarations, your proposal doesn’t deal with inspections, which are not currently required because the UK has the same regulations and enforcement provisions as the rest of the EU. Your suggestion for this?

    EU to UK – You can leave without a deal if you want, but we would rather you leave in an orderly manner. The legal consequences of leaving with no deal are laid out in our Notices to Stakeholders on the EU web site. We think the UK population will be most unhappy when they see that “no deal” means “no co-operation on anything” from the EU and that much EU / UK trade will have to stop due to non-compliance with regulations, flights are grounded etc. JR – I know you think the EU is bluffing on this, but what the EU has laid out are the legal consequences of leaving with no further agreement – Are any lawyers arguing that the EU is wrong? Any relaxation of the legal rules will almost certainly require agreement from the UK to pay the EU exit bill.

    • mancunius
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      ‘Wrong’? You missed JR’s point – it is clearly a bluff, as German business has already conceded.

  54. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    My earlier comment awaiting o
    Moderation has mysteriously disappeared

  55. As easy as ABC
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    There was confusion at the UK Regional Press Awards today as many wrote in asking “You say it’s May 18th. Well is it or not on the 18th????”

  56. DrakeB
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The government should consider buying up some of these superflous Maersk ships that will not be needed because of expected downturn in world trade..these ships could be the nucleus for a new merchant navy which we will need for our new trading deals with countries overseas..we know only too well from the last war how necessary shipping is to us as an island nation..and we should act now when the time and price is right

  57. Edward2
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    What likelihood is there of the EU actually agreeing to any of these trade deal arrangements?
    My prediction from the start of negotiations is that the EU has no wish to agree anything.
    Therefore we are just wasting time and money.

  58. Chris
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Agreed Mr Redwood, but you are not at the helm, very sadly. In my view, our PM needs trumping, in more ways than one. She could learn so much from President Trump about the art of the deal. His approach to China (and North Korea) has been that of a genius. The Conservative Tree House website explains President Trump’s strategy. He will get what he wants i.e. what is best for America, and the world. I will put link to article in separate comment.

  59. Renard
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    We do not trade with the rest of the world on WTO terms, we trade on the basis of the EU,s 100s of agreements, all of which we lose once we are not in the EU. How often are you going to keep telling this lie?

    • NickC
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Renard, I don’t know . . . how often are you going to repeat that lie? The WTO rules are comprehensive in their own right (including GATT, GATS, TRIPS, Uruguay, Doha) and cover all the principles of a world wide trading system that includes 98% of global trade. The MRAs and RTAs that you seem so concerned about are actually fairly minor addendums which must in turn obey the core WTO rules, and be registered with the WTO.

      The EU does not have 100s of agreements. There are currently only 42 RTAs which the EU has, including the EU treaties themselves and the EEA. Many are with quite small nations such as San Marino and the Faroe Islands. The only two big ones are S.Korea and Canada, both of which are a decade away from full implementation.

  60. Anonymous
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why you keep publishing Newmania and Andy.

    I wouldn’t mind if it had got you any respect from them. They serve no purpose but to pedal hatred that I have not heard from anyone else here.

    • hefner
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Anom, Would you be really happy to read only the comments of people agreeing with you? Would this not become rapidly boring, specially because apart from JR himself and a very small (to be counted on the fingers of one mutilated hand), most comments have a value of epsilon: no real information, nothing new that has not been extracted from the usual Brexit-supporting press or websites, nothing not already repeated 10^n times.
      You might not like it (obviously not) but Newmania and Andy are the bright-colored pulchinelli in a crowd of gray zombies.

      • Brit
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        hefner. You hate us repeating but that is because you will not accept democracy. We had the vote. The vote was carried. End. Move on, have a cooling soft drink of your choice. Sell your house and move to the EU.

        • hefner
          Posted May 19, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Funny. I accept democracy and I cannot wait for the UK to be out of the EU. What I cannot stand are attempts (such as Anon’s and yours) at shutting up everybody who does not agree with you. Was there not a time when England/Britain was at the forefront of democratic practices. Can’t you see you are the perfect exemplars of the (word edited) about to drown Britain.

    • Andy
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      I come to this blog looking for answers from hardcore Brexit supporters about what Brexit will actually mean for me and my children – and how it will make our country better.

      All I ever see is a collective group whinge from you all about how Brexit is going terribly wrong and how it must be someone else’s fault that it is going wrong.

      It does you all good to read diametrically opposing views – and my views are diametrically opposed. I am a proud European. I remain devastated by Brexit. I will work for the rest of my life to undo it and I am confident my side will win in the end.

      I have no qualms about our current EU membership. I have no qualms about closer union. I would be happy with us, one day, using the Euro and joining an EU Army. This holds zero fear for me.

      I know the EU is far from perfect but I also know it can and will be improved and that Britain’s long term future is at the heart of Europe. I am about 20 years ahead of most Britons in my thinking on this – but I am far more in tune with today’s teens and early 20s than any of you.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Again you confuse a love of Europe with the EU
        I love Europe and it’s many and different nations.
        It is the EU I do not like.
        I voted for the Common Market and it is very sad to me how the EU has turned out.
        And worrying what it is developing into.

      • Richard1
        Posted May 19, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Good for you admitting that this is what EU memberships means and being prepared to argue for it. I have no problem with that. Fortunately you are in a very small minority so I don’t think we ever will see the U.K. a part of what amounts to a United States of Europe. But I have no problem debating it. One suggestion though: you are more likely to influence opinion if you don’t insult your opponents as you invariably do.

  61. Blue and Gold
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    He we go again…Mr.Redwood decides not to show my input as it doesn’t square with his Hard Right views.

    As usual Brexiteers don’t like to hear the opposing view…Frit

    • Tick-Tock
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      If only you were given a vote in the referendum and allowed to express your opinion beforehand.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s above.
      Keep calm.

    • mancunius
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      I’m sure when you all went in individually to see her, May pretended to listen to what you had to tell her. But I bet she was filling out a little sheet of paper with ticks and crosses on, for every possible motion or agenda, to see what will get her a majority of Tory MPs behind her, and which clauses will not pass.
      I’ve known those passive managerial types – they’re more dangerous than the anarchists.
      Did she remind her MPs – forcefully – that they must support what she and the party canvassed for in the manifesto? What the voters had voted for in the 2016 referendum and the 2017 GE? Did she reiterate her stance? No customs union, no single market, no ECJ?… Hmmm, I wonder.
      And I bet the other europhile rebels used the occasion to be as silkily extreme as possible.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      Oh, do shut up.

      I submitted two comments on this thread yesterday, fairly short sensible informative comments rather than the kind of low-grade trolling rubbish you regularly produce, and neither has been published and in fact both have been vaporised.

  62. Jonp
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    The way they see it is that we transgressed..we’ve put ourselves beuond the’ up to us to find a way out. Those who say we can walk away and pay nothing are living in cloud cuckoo land, they are deluded. The thing is we need a clean break with them otherwuse there is no hope in getting an acceptable deal for the future and whichever way we look at it we need that deal because, despite what some of the leading brexiteers say, there is no new deal out there that can compare with the deal we have at present..we have tried our old razmatazz but it hasn’t worked..looking to cherry pick the parts we like and discarding the rest will fail and fail miserably..the EU is a rules based bloc.,they will go by the rules..of course if we were the giver of the rules instead of as the takers like the other 27 members then it would be ok..problem for us is that we want it all on our own terms..well am afraid that those days are long gone..we are instead still being told lies by our politicuans about our eternal greatness but truth is the very UK itself is now in danger.

    • mancunius
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Same old same old farrago of mendacious, eurovisioned nonsense.

      Over here in Britain, your fearmongering isn’t working at all.

      The only thing for the UK to fear is fear itself.

  63. Michael Staples
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    The problem with May is that she does not seem to understand that to get a good deal with the EU you have to be prepared, and to show you are prepared, to walk away. Hammond has prevented the Civil Service from preparing for a no deal scenario. Her mantra is a deal at any price, which is why the EU has not offered a significant concession.

  64. ian
    Posted May 18, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I would never worry about trade, it has natural tendency to take care of itself, whatever happens, it’s the bankers and the elite with the politician that is the problem.

  65. The Prangwizard
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    The Remaniaics posting here are getting panicky! They may turn nasty. And Hard Right? Blimey O’Riley!

  66. alan jutson
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Its not us out here you have to convince JR, its those who sit in both Houses Parliament !

    More importantly it is the Prime Minister !

    Keep up the effort, it is appreciated.

  67. Tabulazero
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Why always ask the same question ? The EU is prepared to offer the UK the same trade deal as Canada.

    Why the fuss ?

    • Edward2
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Canada does not as a result of agreeing to a trade deal, allow the EU to make its laws nor agree that its courts are supreme.
      Subtle difference.

      • Tabulazero
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        Yes. That’s why Canadian goods still get checked at the border and why its access to the single-market is far more restricted than the UK’s (for now).

        It’s totally fair.

        I do get that Leave want to have an independent trade policy but I do not understand why the EU should make an exception and grant the UK privileges that no one else enjoy in the Single-Market.

        If the Single-Market does offer a level playing field, it will not last long.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          There are no delays.
          Checking is dome by a certification process prior to embarkation.
          The two nations with the biggest growth in trade in Europe since the single market started are…..China and America.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      I suppose you do realise that “the same trade deal as Canada” would not obviate the perceived need for goods to be intercepted and inspected as they cross the land border from Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic. So you think there is no cause for any fuss if the EU is only prepared to offer a deal which by its own account could lead to renewed terrorist violence on the island of Ireland.

      • Tabulazero
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Why ? You are leaving in the way you chose. Do you really expect the EU to solve Brexit for you ?

        Canada is a friendly country with whom the EU is happy to trade. The UK will be a friendly country with whom the EU will be happy to trade. Why treat them differently ? Why treat the UK better than Norway or Turkey ?

        • Edward2
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          Because EU treaties demand that the EU create friendly relationships with neighbouring nations.

          And it is in their interests as they sell approaching 85 billion more to the UK than we sell to them.

          • Tabulazero
            Posted May 21, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

            Offering a Canada like FTA agreement is pretty friendly. It is the best on offer short of EEA or EU membership. It also meet all the UK’s red line.

            What else does the UK want ?

            Yes it will not be as good as full membership but that it something that the UK has accepted and which makes sense.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 22, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

          Canada is indeed a friendly country but one whose exported goods still have to be subject to some inspection regime as they enter the EU, that is the point. If the EU will only agree to a deal with the UK like that it has with Canada then the EU is inter alia insisting on carrying out checks at the Irish border and therefore the EU by its own argument is risking peace in Ireland. Not the UK doing that, but the EU.

  68. Tony Sharp
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    If the EU wanted a Free Trade Agreement then membership of the Customs Union is unneccessary, unless it is actuaklly no different than current membership so BRINO. If there is any deal short of an FTA the CU is unneccessary. If there is No Deal a CU is unneccessary.
    So why are we having any such discussion?
    If the UK took the Canada ‘option’ then the CU whatever is unneccessary.

    Customs control and Tariffs are a Sovereign matter. The EU ‘pooled’ their sovereignty on this. Can anyone explain to me which other two nations interfere in each others Customs arrangements or have a ‘partnership’ in order to trade with each other? The EU has no Customs Arrangements with other third party nations, other than those it ‘admitted’ transitionally into the CU.

  69. ian
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    You are right Mark. B, except if you are sending goods to yourself to sell in your shop in the EU or to your factory or warehouse in the EU.

  70. Simon Coleman
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    The poverty of debate on this site is alarming. And it’s hardly surprising when Mr Redwood trots out the completely unworkable no deal again and again. No deal will damage business. How do we know that? Because business has overwhelmingly come out against no deal. No deal is an undemocratic outcome. How do we know that? Because there is a big Commons majority in favour of a deal. And also…at the General Election last year, the electorate rejected May’s call to give her a free hand to negotiate a hard Brexit / no deal. The Scottish parliament has rejected a no deal outcome. And no deal will fail to protect the open border in Northern Ireland. How do we know that? Because some infrastructure will be needed if there are two different customs regimes. Mr Redwood is completely implacable and immune to compromise. How do we know that? etc ed

    • Edward2
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Yes a deal would be nice.
      But currently it seems obvious that the EU are not willing to do a deal.

      • Tabulazero
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Disagree. The EU is willing to give the UK a FTA like Canada’s which correspond to the red lines the UK has set itself.

        I still do not understand why Leave is surprised by this or actually opposed to it.

        That’s pretty much what you wanted.

        • NickC
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          Tabulazero, You are right on this. However it is not us Leaves you need to convince it is the UK Remain politicians who are making the fuss about having the same arrangements out of the EU as in it.

          I would like evidence that the EU is willing to “give” the UK an RTA like Canada has.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          It is not the same deal.
          Canada is not ruled by the ECJ
          Nor allows the EU to make it’s laws
          Nor has freedom of movement with all EU nations
          Nor agrees to submit it’s annual budget for EU scrutiny.

          • Tabulazero
            Posted May 21, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

            But neither is Canada a member of the Single-Market like the UK will be during the Transition period it has itself requested.

            All the above things apply to all the members of the Single-Market. Why should the UK be made an exception ?

  71. Eh?
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Simon Coleman
    We voted to come out of the EU.That meant OUT, LEAVE, OUT. Not stay in!
    As to deals. ..that is something in the minds of Remoaners like your self. What “business wants ” actually is a kick up the bottom into this century. We voted to leave. WE voted to leave. They had a vote. They lost the vote. The parrot is dead. Accept democracy or emigrate to a dictatorship which you prefer. But do try to stop moaning.

  72. Jasg
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    And of course we should not pay them a penny to leave.

  73. Simon
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    So Mr Redwood the Max Fac Customs Option will take three years plus for a partial operational system and give business on costs of £20 billion pa.

    So how is your quick and simple Brexit going now ?

  • 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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