Mr Macron’s concentric circles

Mr Macron was misinterpreted by some this week who strain to discern an agreement between the EU and the UK in what he said. When Mr Macron stated he wanted reform of the EU he went back to the old idea of accelerated union and integration for an inner group. He then wants the UK to fit into an outer circle, where doubtless he thinks we should be rule takers. We would be grouped alongside eastern European countries who may want fuller integration but are not welcomed or thought to be ready by the elite countries to join the core of the Euro.

Mr Macron thinks France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, five of the original six founders of the EU, and maybe Spain, are ready to move to a single budget, a single Finance Minister and a joint foreign and security policy. Italy would probably be told if they want to be part of this inner core they have to forget all their wishes to change the budget strategy and to bin their request to toughen migration and border controls. There would be no room for dissenters in the core. The UK will of course be “offered” a security and defence partnership, because the UK provides more already to European defence than our GDP share would imply. The EU would like access to our two carrier groups and to the squadrons of F 35 fighter bombers, as well as to our Intelligence services. The EU has in mind some kind of Association Agreement with the UK, which is a watered down version of the EU Treaty without the voting rights and place at the table to complain in person about bad laws and bad policies.

Mr Macron’s vision is backward looking and out of time. Mrs Merkel is finding it very difficult to hold her coalition together, and will be in no position to offer a joint budget and common Finance Minister given the antipathy of German electors to the idea of Germany paying more and sponsoring a so called transfer union. As transfer unions are central to most countries with their own currencies this remains a major stumbling block for the Euro. Mrs Merkel’s traditional coalition partners, the CSU, face a difficult election in Bavaria in October, where they could lose control of their Lander Parliament thanks to AFD candidates. This means Mrs Merkel has to pose as tough on matters European and migratory for the next two months.

Mr Macron will also alienate many of the keen members of the EU that are excluded from his inner core. The countries to the south – or their governments – believe in the Euro scheme and were expecting a bit more financial and budget leeway. Instead Mr Macron seems to envisage more budget flex only for the chosen few that have passed the austerity test and joined the core. He will also continue to annoy the Hungarians and Poles who are the new naughty boys of the bloc, wanting the whole institution to adopt anti migrant policies.

It is going to prove a problematic few months for the EU, with Macron and Merkel in disagreement and with Italy pressing hard for changes to both migration and budget policies. Mrs Merkel usually gives in to pressure, so expect German policy to move to a more anti migrant stance.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Indeed. It is certainly good that we voted to leave then. Not that is looks like we will leave until May and Hammond are evicted or resign.

    Meanwhile please can we use the large delay on Crossrail completion (which they seem to have only just discovered) as an excellent reason (not that any more or needed) to cancel the totally idiotic, expensive and hugely damaging HS2 project?

    The Crossrail project started planning in 1974 so 44 years so far and not a penny of value out of it as yet.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      Indeed it is incredible that Conservative MPs have allowed May and Hammond to continue with this ridiculous £100bn vanity project – for which no-one has yet come up a coherent economic justification. Apart from anything else there will be votes in a cancellation.

      • Peter
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Am I right in thinking that HS2 is an EU mandated project?

        • bigneil
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          I recall reading that somewhere a few years ago, part of a plan to have all of Europe have a High Speed rail system.

        • Peter
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink


          Not one of my posts. See below.

          Seem to be two posters here with exactly the same name

        • hefner
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          It depends on how you want to look at it. There is a EU-supported (not mandated) Trans-Europen Transport Network, which already includes most of the existing (or soon to come) continental European train lines. It includes Alfa Pendular (P), Altaria, Alvia, AVE, Euromed (E), Eurostar (B, F, GB), ICE (B, CH, D, DK, F, NL), Le Frecce (I), RailJet (A, CH, D, H), Renfe (E, F), SJ (DK, S), SuperCity (CZ), TGV (B, CH, D, E, F, I, L), Thalys (B, D, F, NL). HS2 is/was supposed at one stage to become part of this network.
          So in that respect, one could think that the UK is a score of years behind. But after 29/03/2019 that will not matter anymore, will it?

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink


            Correct for once!

      • Andy
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Ironic. Brexit is also a vanity project for which no-one has yet come up with a coherent economic justification. But it will cost much more than £100bn.

        Hs2, however, is a much needed addition to our infrastructure which governments of all colours have allowed to crumble.

        Where is HS3, HS4, HS5, Crossrail 2, the massive A road upgrade project to remove pinch points and junctions, new motorways, bridges and tunnels? Where are they all?

        • Edward2
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Labour the Lib Dems stifled investment in transport projects from1997 to 2015.

        • Anonymous
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. We’ve had 40 odd years EU membership and seen our infrastructure go to rat shit.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        Indeed especially if the money is used for something sensible like large tax cuts combined with other large cuts in the endless government waste and incompetence.

        “Tax avoiders blocked from honours list” I read. What on earth is wrong with legally avoiding tax? A pensions scheme or an ISA, or duty free. It is surely a moral duty to reduce you tax bill. Often in business you can survive only if you do.

        It will after all be spent far more wisely and efficiently (in general) than it would be if handed over to the government. Each pound given to the government might give at best 20p of value after the cost of collection, the endless waste and the countless idiotic and inefficient ways it is spent. Much is spent on blatant propaganda adverts, attempting to buy votes and inconveniencing the productive at every turn. A huge amount on the appalling NHS.

        A ban on failed politicians such at Major, Clegg, May, Cameron, Cable, Hunt Osborne, Hammond, Adonis, Blair, Mandelson, Milliband (both), Heath …. and most time serving state bureaucrats and the likes would be far, far more sensible. Especially ones like Osborne and Cameron who make Cast Iron. low tax and IHT tax promises then rat on them.

        • rose
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          It is indeed sinister to think these sub standard civil servants in the Cabinet Office who are fouling up Brexit are also snooping via HMRC on people’s private legal tax affairs. “Poor tax behaviour” sounds like the sort of phrase Mrs May would have put in her mouth. Next they will want to control our communications – Oh but they already are aren’t they?

          • rose
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

            PS Are they using the Prevention of Terrorism Act to enable them to do this snooping?

      • Dominic Johnson
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Much of the west coast mainline is at capacity
        There are simply no ( or few ) iterative gains left to be had

        We simply need more track if we want more capacity

        That’s not to say HS2 is the right solution in the right place, but we lay more track, we cut intercity or cut intracity

    • Peter
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I am more upset by the continuation of the Hinkley Point Nuclear Project. This has new and unproven technology. It was reviewed and yet the government lost nerve and allowed it to continue.

    • Newmania
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      ” We ” did not vote to leave, you did ,there is no “we” that includes me and people like me, as well as you and people like you. ‘We’ is gone and it is not coming back, that is part of the legacy of Brexit and anyone who thinks it will fade away is not watching the growing sense of identity around remain centrist voters.
      Many people look at France with envy and Mr Redwood will be well aware gathering impetus behind a new centre Party . That is why he has to continue with his anti EU propoganda and especially anti Macron

      The choice cannmot be between Nationlist fanatics and comedy Communists forever , there must be a voice for business , low tax, personal freedom, modern values and rational government
      ” We” want a decent government for ordinary moderate voters , you want to prattle on about your absurd hobby

      • Edward2
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        We means we as a country.
        The majority in a vote means, we voted.
        Not you as in you the individual.
        We all vote in elections.
        We get a government elected by us.
        It is your government as it is mine.
        You don’t have to like it nor do you have to agree but that is the reality.

        • Andy
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          We does not mean me either. I agree with Newmania. I reject entirely your petty nationalistic Brexit. People like us have decades to undo it – and we will.

          • Edward2
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            As is your democratic right Andy.
            But you are stating the obvious.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        YOU took part in the referendum.

        YOU pledged to abide by the result of it.

  2. Peter Wood
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    Interesting analysis, thank you. But what of Ireland? Are they to be in the outer tier, I don’t think the Taoiseach ‘ll be happy to be relegated from top table.

    Macron has plenty of bad ideas to be considered, but its only Germany that decides because they are the ones paying most of the bill, more so after we, hopefully, leave…

    • eeyore
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      The French keep trotting out this grand projet of a united Europe in which they make the rules, the Germans sign the cheques and the Dutch do the work. Not surprisingly, few outside France are impressed.

      The shadows of Napoleon and Charlemagne hang long over a certain sort of Frenchman. It seems they have one in the driving seat at present.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        I was thinking it is a bit like Animal Farm – “All countries are equal except some are more equal than others”.

        And that didn’t end well for those in charge…as we all know

      • L Jones
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Eeyore – your post reminds me of the much-admired Gary Sheffield’s words concerning Germany’s aims before 1914: ”Belgium would become a ‘vassal state’, and French power would be crushed, although it would be allowed to exist as a third-class power that posed on threat to Germany. ”Mitteleuropa”, a ‘central European customs union’ would… ”stabilize ~~Germany’s economic dominance over Central Europe”…. (quoting David Stevenson)

        Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

        • L Jones
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          ”NO threat” !

    • Original Richard
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Ireland will not be of any importance once the EU no longer needs to use its border with N.I. to gain an advantage over the UK in the withdrawal negotiations.

      If Ireland wants to be at the “top table” they will need to give up their low rates of corporation tax.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        And presumably its defence budget of ONLY 0.3% of GDP. Wonder if Trump will mention that on his visit. ROI not even a member of NATO, so it just sits back and relies on others to defend it’s democracy.

  3. Mark B
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    And what of the Republic of Ireland ? What about its very keen Corporate Tax rates ? The border ?

    What President Macron is doing is throwing down the EU integration gauntlet in the hope that it will put France back in the EU driving seat. He sees Merkel as weak and is playing that old French trick of trying to play the UK with Germany to further the French cause. That is why out of all the Continental countries I trust and like the French the least. When one looks at history the French when threatened or in need of an ally against Germany always comes to us. And the bastards always sell us out or we end up worse off than before.

    President Macron needs to be told that UK needs no such deal. France and the EU are becoming less important and the UK, as we have always done to our and the world’s benefit, shall be looking to new and further horizons. We are not interested.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      This idea of “concentric circles” is one which the Tory party itself has promoted in the past, JR, as a means to persuade its supporters and the general public that we should remain in the EU, and I would have no difficulty believing that Theresa May would be happy for us to continue to move in an outer orbit around Brussels in the hope that eventually centripetal forces would pull us back down to the centre where she thinks we belong. After all that is where she and future British Prime Ministers might expect to be welcomed with hugs and kisses from the other leaders and to be presented with customised football shirts and other loving gifts, and one can see from her body language that she likes that and does not like being treated as an outsider. And that is one fundamental reason why we should not allow her to keep us within the power of Brussels; we need to move well away if we are to be sure of an independent future, notwithstanding the chronic europhilia which has infected all our main political parties.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Sorry, that was not intended as a reply to you, Mark B. Incidentally I’ve given up looking for your reply that you mentioned a few days ago, and I think you’ll need to repeat it when an opportunity arises.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        OK Denis, thanks.

    • Andy
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Your anti-French is a surprisingly common attitude among Brexiteers – particularly kippers.

      It really is beyond pathetic.

      • libertarian
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink


        And how do you know that? Have you done any research ? No of course not its just your normal made up waffle all of it predicated on the basis that YOU think YOU know what 17.4 million people think.

        This kind of brainwashed thinking is the root cause of you losing.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Look to Germany for real extremists on the march.

        Your EU is dead.

      • L Jones
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        No, Andy. Do try to understand. We are against what SOME French people are illegally doing. We are not ”anti French”.
        This is as simplistic as suggesting YOU are ”anti Brexiteer” no matter who they are or how honourable they may be. And, of course, you’re not that prejudiced, are you?
        Are you?

        • Andy
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          But mostly you’re just anti-French. At least have the guts to admit it!

          As for me, I am proudly both anti-Brexit and anti-Brexiteer. Most of my friends and family backed Remain anyway so it hasn’t been too tricky. But the few Brexiteers I knew prior to June 2016 have now mostly been expunged from my contacts. With the exception of my mum, I would now never knowingly go out for drinks or to dinner with a Brexit voter.

          Indeed, last weekend was quite anxious as we were staying at the house of some old friends and I wasn’t sure if maybe he’d backed Brexit or not. I avoided mentioning politics but my wife bundled straight in with the awfulness of Brexit, bemoaning the huge damage it has done to our country and our children. To my relief both our hosts heartily concurred – they are appalled by it all. And their MP is one of the most vocal Tory Brexiteers. They will never vote for him again. The tide has already turned against you.

          • Anonymous
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

            It’s always the same. Remainers often cut out people who have different political opinions to them. I didn’t meant to talk about it brother-in-law suddenly launched into me with “You didn’t vote Brexit did you ?” then “WHY ???”

            I said “Who are you MEPs ?”

            “Well I don’t know !”

            “What EU parties do they belong to ? Oh. If you don’t know who your MEPs are then you don’t know which parties they stand for. So you didn’t know what you were voting for.”

            “It’s going to cost British jobs.”

            “But you’re the chief engineer of ****** and have spent the past fifteen years outsourcing and managing UK factories to the EU and afar – whilst in the EU.”

            We still get along fine, thankfully.

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:54 pm | Permalink


            Your family circle of anti-Brexit childishness is rather interesting…I am guessing it does not stop there?

      • mancunius
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        Questioning Macron’s assumption he can strong-arm Merkel is being ‘anti-French’??
        In that case, I think you’ll find the entire population of France is equally ‘anti-French’ – as they too find his intention unrealistic.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I disagree – when they need an ally against Germany the French have tended to turn first to Russia(almost every French government since 1871 has sought a good relationship with Russia,including currently M Macron,albeit the opponent now is the USA rather Germany).They have historically also sought to bolster Poland for similar reasons,albeit this has always proved to be a lost cause!Plus the French are acutely aware that if Russia becomes more Asia-focussed,it reduces Europe to a “jagged promentory of Asia” as the historian, Will Durant, once it.As the French government aligned foreign policy think-tank,ResPublica,puts it”The European interest is not to re-inforce the link between Russia and Asia”.

      I was intrigued by the visit of Foreign Minister Lavrov and Head of Armed Services,Valery Gerasimov,to both Macron and Merkel(separately) a few weeks ago.General Gerasimov hardly ever leaves the territory of Russia,its allies or vassals and is under sanction,which must have been suspended for this visit.And with the US known to have been bugging European leaders,a telecon was out of the question if sensitive issues were discussed as I assume they were.

      My personal take on the forthcoming massive military exercises in the Russian Far East(in which both China and Mongolia are participating and to which Nato has been invited to send an observer)is that it is not just a display of military might but a message that Russia is capable of defending Europe (and,in conjunction with China,the whole of Eurasia) and that the US presence is unneccessary and unwanted.

      Is NATO heading for the dustbin of history?

    • Qubus
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I believe that the French still have some sort of complex vis-a-vis the English because of their poor performance in WWII.

    • JoolsB
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely spot on Mark B.

  4. Richard1
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    One of the most remarkable aspects of our generally fraught public debate over the EU has been the absolute unwillingness of Remain to accept the clear direction of travel of the EU. Macron’s proposal is of course highly divisive within the EU but it’s only a variant on the Five Presidents report and numerous similar pronouncements over the years. There were good and bad arguments on both sides in the referendum, but it would be good if those who argue for reversal of brexit would at least be honest about what EU membership is likely to mean.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      I am still waiting for Remain to make the case for the EU. All we ever hear are threats.

  5. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Institutional development in the EU has always had a snail pace and concentric circles (associative members) were already proposed in the not materialised ‘Von Brentano’ constitution of 1952. In the 1957 (political!) Treaty of Rome, no ‘European Council’ (heads of government) was foreseen but over time it has now emerged as the most powerful EU institution. The same way it has gone and will go with all kinds of “enhanced cooperation”, the latest of which is the European Public Prosecutor. One day there may be a kind of finance minister for the eurozone or a more full fledged minister of foreign affairs (now EEAS), but it is better to count in decades than years.

    • acorn
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      The most disappointing part of the EU for me is how the leaders of the 28 globally recognised sovereign states that form it, have let it get out of hand. It is a repeat of how the 50 states of the USA, have let their federal government get similarly, out of hand.

      The EU Four Freedoms should be reduced to two. Free movement of Goods and Services (increasingly difficult to separate), to a strict common standards, is a very good idea. The free movement of Capital and Persons is not.

      For me the biggest mistake the EU 28 has made, is the introduction of a common currency. A common currency for 28 culturally diverse and historically sovereign nations, was the very last thing they needed. The ASEAN group of nations deliberately avoided going down a common currency path.

      The EU does not need five Presidents; it needs one Secretary General. It does not need its own Parliament; it has 28 Sovereign Parliaments that can learn to handle the job.

      It does not need a common currency issuing Treasury. Hence, it does not need a common currency (Euro) central bank. The 28 sovereign Treasuries and their own central banks, can go back to issuing and managing their own currencies and take their chances in the global currency markets.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink


        You make it sound as if all the decision made from the EU are in some way an accident. They are not. A common currency and full integration was planned as long ago as Ted Heath.

        What was the problem is as part of French agreement to allow the two Germany’s to unite, was for Germany to adopt the Euro. Khol agreed with Mitterand but got a concession that Germany would never be the lender of last resort. It is there you must look to see the flaw in the Euro. The UK leaving will not solve it.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        I find myself agreeing with all you say acorn.
        The other big mistake you have not mentioned was a far too rapid expansion of new member states, many who were not economically aligned to the original members.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        @acorn: I hope that I understand you correctly. What you describe as a better way sounds like a completely intergovernmental organisation with no supranational component (a bit like EFTA, of which the UK was one of the founding members). But for usm the supranational component has been there from the start (already before 1957 in the ECSC), because the two resources for WAR (steel and coal/energy) were not to be trusted to national governments and were brought under a “supranational” authority (see “Europe Declaration” in wikipedia). An extra parliament then also makes sense, to keep this authority to account. Sovereignty is maintained in that the voluntary partial “pooling of sovereignty” can be withdrawn by these sovereign nations. E.g. Greenland left in 1985, the UK invoked article 50, a proof of its sovereignty. “President” over here is just a chairman function, not to be confused with say a Turkish president.

      • GilesB
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        Strict common standards are a recipe for risky uniformity. Nature shows that diversity is good: robust against changes, competition encourages innovation, local tailoring more effectively meets local needs.

        The economies of scale from mass manufacturing existed for Henry Ford’s assembly line: modern manufacturers have absolutely no problem meeting local standards for local markets

        • acorn
          Posted September 2, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          Giles B, I should have said strict “technical” standards to prevent confusing the consumers and letting them get ripped off by transnational corporations, who want governments to allow the same plug on all there electrical products; the consumer has to buy an adaptor to make it work. If governments give way to that, then your Sovereign state becomes a Corporate state.

          BTW. Look out for the next government disaster area. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles; part of the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Particularly if you are expecting to plug your new electric vehicle, into the street lamp outside your house.

      • margaret howard
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 9:53 pm | Permalink


        “For me the biggest mistake the EU 28 has made, is the introduction of a common currency”


        So how do you explain the success of the euro which has not only risen spectacularly against the pound but also replaced it as the world reserve currency after the US$ with 90% of world total (the £ accounts for under 3.0%)

        • Edward2
          Posted September 3, 2018 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          Germany France and Holland are in charge of the Euro.
          It has been a painful process for Cyprus Spain Italy Greece Portugal and others stuck with the wrong exchange rate.

          • margaret howard
            Posted September 3, 2018 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

            The 2008 banking collapse affected most countries. Luckily all those countries are now on the road to recovery, even Greece which had been a basket case prior to its EU membership. That’s why they cheated to get in.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    This is all in the Spinelli-Bertelsmann Document, “A Fundamental Law of the European Union “.
    We need to avoid being an Associate Member and we need to leave the EU and the Single Market (EU/EEA).

    We do need to retain membership of the EEA though.

    • Oxiana321
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, scary stuff ! I note that this document argues for the unelected Commission’s role of agreeing and drafting laws to continue after the formation of the ‘federal union’ (presumably behind closed doors, as usual).
      There is no question that the ultimate goal has been to form a federal state of Europe and Remainers in Parliament and in the Civil Service are certainly intelligent enough to recognise this. Remaining in the EU, whether in an inner or an outer circle must inevitably entail Britain relinquishing any remaining vestiges of independence. Indeed, the whole question of self government and our Parliament retaining genuine control is an aspect that the Remain campaign has deliberately ignored, always framing the debate using bogus economic arguments. It is this dishonesty, taking us all for fools, that makes the British public so angry.

  7. Steve
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Sounds like traditional french rhetoric to me.

    So, Macron has this idea that the EU should be run in a grand pseudo-napoleonic style, which is certain to result in conflict. But that’s ok because the British will do the fighting for them.

    Since the demise of the USSR, the EU has been hell bent on getting it’s borders to within an inch of Russia’s.

    Are really stupid enough to commit ourselves to military conflict with Russia at the orders of france and the EU, when they provoke a nuclear armed state a step too far?

    The franco german alliance will go too far with Russia and cause a serious conflict, but perhaps they see our islands as ultimately expendable ahead of suing for peace.

    No, I say, the next time the french provoke a war in Europe we should keep well out of it.

    Good diary item Mr Redwood, which confirms that we need to be out of the EU, totally.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 3, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Any military conflict with Russia will be at the instigation of the USA.I don’t see France getting involved in a conflict with Russia either on it’s own account or on behalf on anybody else-NATO,USA or the EU in,say,Ukraine.The interest in Ukraine is more German and Polish (as it always has been) than French.

  8. Nig l
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Fortunately we are now getting the last few desultory bleats about staying in as a reason to reform it, we have heard that b.s too many times!

    We are now getting the sign up to any deal and then work on improving it, that Quisling Goves position. What nonsense. The reality is that it will go the way of ‘improve from within’ nothing will happen.

    Note to spin doctors. The use of words like ambitious and pragmatic, especially when so obviously coordinated, might look and sound good in a Whitehall brain storming session. In the real world they translate as – Sell Out.

  9. hefner
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Is it not a rather limited understanding of Macron’s speech in May in Aachen?

    • hefner
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Re-reading the ~4000 words pronounced by E.Macron in Aix-la-Chapelle on 10 May 2018 when he was awarded the Charlemagne Prize ( I found only about 200 words that could be said to be related to the “concentric circles”, and none of them was clearly defining which countries will/should/must be part of this first tier. Strange, isn’t it?

      • mancunius
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        Charlemagne didn’t say much about consolidating the western Empire either.

        • Mitchel
          Posted September 3, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          But he did consolidate the core fragments of the western empire-France,Germany,Netherlands,Northern Italy -even if they soon fractured again-with others,the western Slavs for example ,on the outer limits categorised as vassals/tributaries of his empire.

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Over the past twenty four hours some parts of the UK media have openly admitted that the EU has been determining our summer time arrangements, as well as mentioning that the latest unnecessary interference with our domestic lighting preferences springs from an EU directive. Perhaps there is a dawning realisation that with our imminent departure from the EU, at least in theory and on paper, there is no longer the same need to conceal these unpleasant things from the public that was identified in FCO 30/1048 in 1971:

    “After entry there would be a major responsibility on HMG and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community. This counsel of perfection may be the more difficult to achieve because these same unpopular measures may sometimes be made more acceptable if they are put in a Community context, and this technique may offer a way to avoid the more sterile forms of inter-governmental bargaining. But the difference between on the one hand explaining policy in terms of general and Community-wide interest and, on the other, blaming membership for national problems is real and important.”

  11. Bob Dixon
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Your analysis makes clear that we must make no deals until after 29th of March 2019. Any major problems after this date can be sorted by us operating as a free country
    Ministers and their Civil Servants must spend their time getting the Country ready for a no deal Brexit.

  12. Richard1
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Did the distinguished senior Labour MP Frank Field resign the Labour whip, accusing the current Labour leadership of being racist anti-semites? I ask only because I saw this in the papers but have heard almost nothing about it on the BBC. Imagine if a Conservative MP resigned accusing the Conservative leadership of being racist! We’d never hear the end of it.

    The far left now in control of Labour is the most malignant force in mainstream British politics since etc ed.

    • hefner
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Curiously curious: over the last week, BBC web site had (*)
      24/08: Jewish MP feels unwelcome after Corbyn’s comments
      27/08: Corbyn defends British Zionist comments
      28/08: Ex-chief rabbi condemns Corbyn’s comments
      30/08: A guide to Labour anti-semitism claims
      01/09: McDonnell worried about Labout split.
      (*) and presence on the website corresponds to a topics addressed during the day.

  13. hans christian ivers
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink


    I am afraid I think your analysis is far too negative and not necessarily correct as yes there are strains but there has always been strains in the EU collaboration.

    In addition a number of the eastern European countries also belong to what you call the so-called core like Slovenia and Czech Republic.

    o as the Brexit negotiations go into a more positive phase I am much more positive

    • Know-Dice
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      HCR – I unfortunate don’t have your confidence 🙁

      It’s not over till the over weight lady sings, but at the moment it’s from the wrong song book…

  14. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    On all of this we need more than at any time in the past 60 years a strong PM. Sadly we don’t have this at the moment, and the EU want to keep it that way.
    We should in hindsight have left immediately after the wall came down in ’89.

  15. agricola
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Well he is correct in the need for reform in the EU. My thought is that it should revert to making the FTA work. At present there is much that needs tidying up and much protectionism that needs removing.
    I also believe that the Euro is too hard a discipline for many countries that would be better using their original currencies until they can hold their own with Germany.
    I see no place in the EU for the UK, politically or currency wise. EU political structures arrived too early in it’s development and were allowed to grow in an anti democratic fashion. It is top down and totally alien to the UK , but historically not so much so to many European countries.
    Germany and the German people must find themselves in a very difficult position. Economically the strongest in the EU, thanks to their own endeavours and the Euro. Reluctant to sacrifice this position to become the California of even a reduced EU. Reluctant to get involved and open to accusations of a desire for German dominance, remembering their past. There are many culture gaps around the EU that cannot be bridged with a common set of financial rules. Members need a truly democratic relationship that does not swamp them in a way that destroys their culture. I would advocate a moratorium on any further political development. Lengthy debates throughout Europe until a consensus emerges as to how the people , not prominent politicians, wish Europe to develop in future.

  16. Adam
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    As an independent nation, we shall be free to decide & choose what is best for us. We shall set our own rules for cooperation & engagement.

    What the EU does is a choice solely for them. They can fit in with us if we both agree. Our choice of fitting in with them depends on whether they are headed anywhere sensible. Not even they know that. Their future without our continuing over-contribution is more fragile,

    • hans christian ivers
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink


      £ 39 billion is not going to make a big difference in any calculations

      • Adam
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        hans christian ivers:

        Our freedom has higher values than money can reach, but as you raise it, £39 billion is merely the start.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Oh well we will keep the 39 billion here in the UK
        We have loads of things we can spend it on.

  17. DUNCAN
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    What an embarrassment Macron’s becoming. Elected to reform the basket-case that is the entire French economy he’s ‘bottled’ this particular challenge for fear of stoking the unions and now concerns himself with EU and international matters like some strutting, preening Statesman

    He should simply admit that he’s a spineless, unprincipled charlatan and concern himself with domestic matters

    On a side note. Don’t allow May to open up our borders to unlimited African immigration. We need strict controls and this grotesque politician who leads our party is using race and ethnicity as a political tool in the same manner used by New Labour in 1997 to tweak immigration rules to import electoral capital

  18. A.Sedgwick
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    You rightly highlight the obvious fragility of the EU, in short it cannot survive in its present grouping, if it all. The history of continental Europe is endless conflict, changing allies and rivalry and it has been very naive of those who have forced the pace of EU enlargement and integration. Macron is following that error.

    The Germans are dangerously exposed to Russian gas supply dependency, which Mrs Merkel is a prime mover.

    Ukraine remains a powder keg, possibly of the EU’s making.

    Without the UK and USA support the EU defence is effectively non existent.

    Eire logically should leave with the UK but history is embedded in the poor relationship with England despite the UK being a good friend since partition and major trading partner.

    Gibraltar is insoluble even with UK in the EU.

    As the scallop dispute shows, rules and agreements with the French are subject to the Gallic shrug.

    Italy and Greece have been sold down the river by Brussels and their membership of the Euro and Schengen.

    ……and so on

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      “. The history of continental Europe is endless conflict”


      Of the 278 wars involving European states during this period the principal participants were:

      England 28
      France 26
      Spain 23
      Russia 22
      Austria 19
      Turkey 15
      Poland 11
      Sweden 9
      Netherlands 8
      Germany 8
      Italy 9
      Denmark 7

      • Edward2
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Thats in the past.
        It is the future that is important.

        Some countries you list hardly existed in 1480.

  19. Peter
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    There are all sorts of stories now about who said what:-

    ‘Barnier does a U turn’.

    Followed by ‘Barnier believes No Deal likely’.

    It’s basically click bait.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink


  20. Original Richard
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    We are seeing a power grab by Mr. Macron whilst Germany is weakened by Mrs. Merkel’s disastrous and illegal attempt to bolster the German workforce by inviting into the country millions of illegal economic migrants who are unable to integrate with the indigenous European tolerant, rules based, enlightened and democratic cultures.

    The UK has voted to leave the EU and unless we see a coup d’etat in Parliament by corporate influenced MPs led by a recipient of the French Legion d’honneur we will thankfully not be involved.

    As part of the separation it will be important to not let our military be run by the EU and not be duped into joining the Galileo project over which we will have no control.

    Nor to let the EU run our foreign policy. I read that the EU has just given Iran 18m Euros, a large portion of which will of course be our money.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree.

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 9:43 pm | Permalink


      “Mrs. Merkel’s disastrous and illegal attempt to bolster the German workforce by inviting into the country millions of illegal economic migrants..”

      What a distortion of the facts. Merkel was the only world leader with enough compassion to alleviate the tragedy of refugees caused by the illegal wars and invasions by US/UK starting with Iraq which has destabilised the whole region. Millions had already fled before she offered some hope to the survivors.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 3, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Allowin into Germany one million people in one year is the worst decision by a Western leader in decades.

  21. ian wragg
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The withdrawal agreement is in effect the association agreement.
    Where we follow all EU legislation, sign up to a non regression clause so we don’t compete. Promise total security guarantees together with oversight of the ECJ.
    Tusk very early on said he wanted to sign an association agreement the same as Ukraine and Moldova. This puts us somewhere mid Atlantic with Macrons concentric rings.
    They let the cat out of the bag yesterday when the Irish MP said after agreeing the withdrawal bill and starting the implementation period, they would formally reject Chequers and as the period ended wouldn’t agree an Irish solution so there would be an indefinite extension to the implementation period.
    Game, set and match to Hammond, May and Robbins.

  22. hardlymatters
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Nothing new here- same old anti EU, anti French stuff, that we have come to expect. The public would be much more impressed if the Tories could get it’s own house in order? maybe at the party Conference? who knows?.. EU Inner circles/ and outer circles matters not one bit to us with the country going down the pan..and now trade with African countries? Indeed

    • Jung Gell
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink


      Is there something about trading with …Africa…something deep… you have a self-unrecognised thing about?

    • libertarian
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink


      On the whole the problem with remainers is they are locked into the past, around about 1958.

      If you however were growing an international business you would know where FUTURE potential lies

      Africa has been growing very quickly. There are more than 1 billion people in Africa Growth has been present throughout the continent, with over one-third of Sub-Saharan African countries posting 6% or higher growth rates, and another 40% growing between 4% to 6% per year. Several international business observers have also named Africa as the future economic growth engine of the world

      But yeh lets have a round of applause for the EU FTA with the Pitcairn Islands Moldova, Palestine and San Marino

      • margaret howard
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        ” Several international business observers have also named Africa as the future economic growth engine of the world”

        Are you sure? I wonder who they are.

        A survey for the period 1990–2000 compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranked South Africa second for assault and murder (by all means) per capita and first for rapes per capita in a data set of 60 countries. Total crime per capita was 10th out of the 60 countries in the dataset

        Yet it comprises 35% of GDP for the whole of the continent.

        My South African relatives all live in compounds with 24-hour guard protection as it is the only place where they feel relatively safe. Using public transport is taboo.

        And the new government has started copying Mugabe and threatening to throw white farmers off their land.

        Not very conducive to business. Personally, I prefer the EU.

        • Edward2
          Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          You are trying to argue against economic growth using crime statistics.
          There is little or no connection.
          America has a high crime rate yet is wealthy.

          • hefner
            Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            Are you sure there are more connections between the past and the future? (Y/comment above to m.h.)

          • Edward2
            Posted September 3, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink


  23. Lifelogic
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    “Trust would likely be lost if an honour was awarded to someone with negative tax behaviours”

    What an interesting concept tax concept of “negative tax behaviours” surely it should be clear from the tax code that the tax is either due or not due. What on earth is “negative tax behaviours”. Paying more than you have to and then watching the state waste most of it surely is negative.

  24. Kevin
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    What phenomenon is the expression, “anti-migrant”, supposed to describe? Is it a reference to a regulatory burden (that must be satisfied before legally moving from one country to another)?

    What of the man, foreign or native, who would like to make a better life for his family but is prevented from doing so by the burden of taxation? Does that make tax laws (and those who support them), “anti-provider”?

  25. john edwin catley
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Our host correctly points out that a Transfer Union is a major stumbling block for the E.U.
    I fear that it will remain so and the situation will deteriorate further. This could ultimately result in an implosion within the E.U. The consequences of such an eventuality are not readily predictable. Yet I sense that daily they become more probable. As someone once said ;
    ” I hear a clock ticking “.

  26. Peter D Gardner
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    In which case, Dr Redwood, how come Mrs May finds it so hard to stand up for UK’s interests? She is not daft. One can conclude only that she does not want UK to be independent and really, really, wants UK to be a vassal of the EU. When, for crying out loud, is the Conservative Party, going to wake to it now being as responsible for her betrayal as the lady herself? You must replace her asap.

  27. Prigger
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I look at many foreign news outlets. My computer automatically translates. I still find it miraculous.
    No problem in understanding, despite the odd incorrect word, even in small languages not using the Latin alphabet.

    But when it translates AfD tiny instantaneous messages published in German ( without giving a free advert to the social media company ), often it is unreadable, I do not understand even the gist.
    Well I get the general gist anyway. The AfD is dealing with a breakdown of democracy in Germany.

  28. margaret
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    How arrogant: a two tier Europe. It smacks of their perceived superiority and I find it nauseating.A democratic union; as you do as long as we say. Eccentric would be a better description.

    • hefner
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      By the way, who was talking about a Europe with variable geometry, about a two-speed Europe? Macron? Yes recently, but it is a very old idea: Edouard Balladur, French PM in 1994 was already proposing such a thing.
      And I could not find any track of a British politician complaining about such an idea in those days.

  29. Give to them!
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    History really never teaches a lesson which was taught.
    We can be sure France and Germany will over-fulfil and prove that “Mr Macron’s vision is backward looking and out of time.
    Out of the EU, we may take commercial advantage of them. They do not ask for it. But insist in their own doing “Take me!”

  30. rose
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry to see you have caught the use of the phrase “anti-migrant” from the BBC. No-one is anti-migrant. It is out of control mass immigration, otherwise known as illegal immigration or invasion, that people in Europe object to.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      No. It is uncontrolled immigration both legal and illegal.

    • Andy
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      On the contrary. Huge numbers of people on the hard right and hard left are anti-migrant.

      A quick vocabulary lesson.
      ILLEGAL – Illegals are here illegally. That means they have no right to be here. Brexit will not help. Illegals will still be illegal. Just because someone looks foreign does not mean they are illegal.

      INVASION – People fleeing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq etc are not invading. They are fleeing for their lives. You do not jump in a dinghy to cross the Med with your baby and a toddler just for laughs. You risk your life and their lives because it is the least worst option. Thank god that you have been lucky enough in life never to have to make that choice.

      MASS IMMIGRATION – during the global Great Recession we had several years of well above trend migration because our economy was doing better than most and we had more jobs. It has helped us, not harmed us and it is a short lived phenomenon. The biggest driver of population growth remains increasing life expectancy.

      The worst thing in the whole migration debate is the frightening extent to which the hard right and hard left wingers have lost any sense of humanity that they once may have had. It’s pitiful.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        You very nice middle class liberals need to build us a new city every year then Andy.
        Come on get on with it.

      • Dennis
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        “The biggest driver of population growth remains increasing life expectancy.”

        If that is the case then a massive reduction in population (not helped by immigration) would make life longevity a non issue.

  31. Non!
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    In the really good old days, we heard about the President of France maybe once every five years, which was quite enough for everyone.

    We never knew or cared who was top dog in Germany. We still don’t care.

    Fake News rams them down our throats every day as if they are important . They may be important, but one can’t think why.

    • Andy
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      In the good old days kids used to work down mines, women did what they were ordered to and most people died in their 30s.

      Thank god for progress.

      • margaret
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        So it’s’ back to Methuselah?’

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Slavery has returned to Britain, according to the BBC. Whilst in the EU.

        • rose
          Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Because of the EU. Without Free Movement of People slavery would not exist here.

  32. Steve
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Makes me wonder what May really was up to behind our backs when she dropped in on Macron a few weeks ago.

    Tiered Europe indeed, obviously with france at the prime seat of the inner circle. One can only laugh at that.

    It won’t happen. More likely Merkel will be ousted by AfD before then, and we’ll see the french trying to get pally pally with us. Only this time around, we’re not interested.

    The EU will break apart in spectacular fashion, it’s got too big, is constantly annoying Russia, has quite a number of countries opposed to EU rule, and cannot defend itself without the

    ALL empires eventually fail and I’m glad I’ll witness the EU’s break up in my

    • Mark B
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Exactly !

      We’re not interested. And the French President needs to be told this both loudly and often.

  33. margaret howard
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    “Mrs Merkel is finding it very difficult to hold her coalition together”

    Fortunately she hasn’t yet had to pay £1b in Danegeld to a German equivalent of the grubby DUP party to keep herself and her party in power. The German electorate wouldn’t stand for it.

    • Edward2
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Money is being spent in what the German Govt call key areas of need.
      Oddly these seem to be areas where coalition party members have their power bases.

      • hefner
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Funny comment, as the largest fraction of such money is not distributed by the federal government but by the Laender governments, so obviously much more regionally based. Do you check that you know what you are talking about when you react to a comment, dear?

        • Edward2
          Posted September 3, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink

          Yes thanks sweetly.

    • rose
      Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Who knows what back room deals she does each time she goes into coalition?

      The DUP are not grubby. They are the last moral party left. They asked that the old people across the Kingdom retain their existing benefits, which Mrs May was threatening, and they also asked for money to be spent on the mental health of people across the Province who had been exceptionally badly affected by the Troubles.

      Not Danegeld but decency. Look up what Danegeld means.

      • rose
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        PS for existing benefits read existing benefits and entitlements.

  34. Colin Robinson
    Posted September 4, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    “Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards”
    John Redwood 17th July 2016

    Reply Yes, a good statement. We unfortunately have not played our cards. I said can not will be

  • 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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