Parliament cannot be the executive

There are good reasons why governments propose and Parliament approves, improves or rejects. Parliament is well set up to challenge government, hold it to account, modify or remove its more foolish measures. Parliament is not set up to run competing policies, competing budgets and competing legislative programmes. That way chaos lies.

The rules of Parliament give certain advantages to the executive to allow budgets to be set and policies to be pursued. Those who divide up the jobs within the executive have to show they are in charge of the ruling party or governing coalition, and can command the House on big votes. It would not be wise to change all these rules today just because this particular government lost its way on its Brexit negotiations and lost its Agreement by ignoring many of its own usually loyal supporters. If Labour is serious about wanting to run the government in the future it is also not in their interests to create a Parliament which cannot accept government on any sustained and consistent basis.

When I told Parliament last week it is on trial, I meant it. The public are showing their disapproval at the negative approach of Parliament to Brexit and good government. They dislike the failure so far to deliver a good policy in the national interest to fulfil the promises made on Brexit during the referendum and in the 2017 election. These promises were made by both main national parties that hold the bulk of the seats in the Commons.

We have learned a few things over the last week. We now know there are 110 Conservative Eurosceptics – and 8 Remain Conservatives – prepared to defy a 3 line whip against a bad deal and bad policy towards Brexit. We know there are 71 Labour MPs who defy their leader by demanding a second referendum. Mrs May would be unwise to do a deal with them, the SNP and Lib Dems for a second referendum, as between them they would be fewer MPs than the 110 plus the 10 DUP she would lose over it. There would also be more Conservative MPs who strongly rule out a second referendum.

I hear repeatedly there is no majority for leaving without a deal in Parliament. That is clearly right, were Parliament to have an academic motion on that topic. If , however, Parliament wants to stop Brexit without a deal whilst honouring the referendum, the only way is Brexit with a deal. No grouping within the Commons has come up with a possible deal that would both be agreeable to the EU and would command a majority of the Commons. It is also no use the Commons voting for some vague proposal if the government, charged with the task of actually negotiating with the EU thinks it undesirable or unachievable. The Commons rightly condemned a very bad deal this week. It has previously legislated to leave. So what then is the deal that could achieve the stated aim of those who want to leave with a deal?

The ERG favours the government tabling a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible. If the EU then agree to negotiate such an FTA after we have left in March this year, the WTO would let us carry on trading on tariff free terms similar to today whilst we sought to finalise an FTA. That looks like the best way forward to leave with a deal.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Parliament, or at least part of it (over 100 MP’s), are the Executive. In fact, it is the Executive through the Whips that controls parliament. I have long argued that it is time to separate the Executive from the Legislature with the Executive powers through the Whips greatly reduced. eg Only used to get legislation through that was promised in the manifesto.

    I find myself having to repeat my mantra from yesterday. If you do not wish to govern this great country, then please resign your seat and allow someone else who does.

    MP’s are elected to office to serve the people that elect them. They are not their to serve the interests of ‘Business Leader’, lobby groups and foreign governments. The government and parliament gave the people the right to choose who they wish to act for and on their behalf. It was, we were told, our choice and, that parliament, would implement our decision. We were told that, Leaving the EU meant Leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union and the ECJ. We knew what we were voting for and, we still voted to Leave. I therefore cannot understand what the problem is, other than the fact, as I again keep saying, it is because those in parliament are simply not up to the job and, Leaving the EU would expose them as such leading to the removal. This is fraud and I think it is a disgrace.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Mark B


      I simply do not understand why MP’s want to give control of the UK’s affairs to a foreign power block of unelected European commissioners.

      Increasing Power and influence has been slowly given away over the last 40 odd years
      by our Politicians.
      The people have said we now want power back so we can control our own affairs, but somehow Mp’s seem reluctant and unwilling to grasp that fact.

      Why stand to be an Mp if you are then happy to give the responsibility and control to someone else, is it just a title thing for many.

      • L Jones
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        It’s a power-and-generous-pay thing for many, I imagine. At least, that’s the way it seems. I wonder how many are honourable and personally disinterested.
        These career politicians might have been principled and altruistic when they started out, and some have maintained that dream – but give me for my MP a hardened businessman who has made his pile through years of his own hard work and a knowledge of the world.
        Unfortunately, we in my constituency have one of the self-interested young career ones, who has lost the Conservative Party my vote and those of my family, I believe.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Or hand over to the EU in entirety. My soundbite would be “We do not need two governments.”

      The EU has never hidden what it is but our own governments have and that’s why the majority of the British public on both sides of this debate are annoyed.

      Had the referendum been over Maastricht when we should have had it all of this trouble would have been averted but John Major lied to us about its true purpose.

    • jerry
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B; “I find myself having to repeat my mantra from yesterday. If you do not wish to govern this great country, then please resign your seat and allow someone else who does.”

      What you appear to be saying is, judging by your other comments this week and last; ‘If you do not wish to govern this great country how I want it to be governed then please resign your seat and allow someone else who does’.

      I will ask again, do you actually understand what democracy is and is not, I suspect not, even more so as your expansed upon your views above…

      “MP’s are elected to office to serve the people that elect them.”

      No, they are elected to office to serve their constituents, all of them, not just those who voted for them and their personal message/manifesto.

      “We were told that, Leaving the EU meant Leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union and the ECJ.”

      Some might believe that, but what is absolutely clear, as a matter of history, without a shadow of doubt, is that others actually campaigned against some or all of what you claim as fact but still wanted a Leave result non the less, such as those who wanted the so called Flexcit option for Brexit.

      “We knew what we were voting for and, we still voted to Leave.”

      Yes, 28 different manifestos/groups that all want the UK to leave the EU, all such votes were indeed equal in wanting out, but how many wanted one or another version of Leave, no one knows. Stop telling others what they voted for, what they want (then or now), the only person you speak for is yourself Mark.

      • Clem205
        Posted January 19, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Another historical world leader recognized that it was impossible to be all things to all people and he was right. Where there are two opposing views compromise will not meet the needs of either view. So what to do? The answer is to do the only thing our democracy allows and that is to decide by a majority vote by the people. This has stood us in good stead for centuries and, at each General Election a majority party has evolved and has the responsibility of Government. Never before have we seen the ‘losers’ go to such measures to overturn that majority view but have instead held the opposing party to account to ensure reasonable government. Don’t be fooled into thinking MPs are going about the business of the House by voting down the Government on Brexit. No! They are not even representing the majority of their constituents (except in a few cases where ‘remain’ won the day). They are instead abusing their powers to implement their own, personal agenda to overturn the democratic will of the majority of people they represent and that is why they should resign. There is no room for compromise in a situation when implementing ‘leave’ – either we do or we don’t but any compromise to only ‘half leave’ is to remain.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted January 19, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        The reason that most of the people who voted Leave thought that it implied something like No Deal is that Messrs Cameron and Osborne told them so, over and over again, trying to present it as a frightening prospect. They failed. Hoist on their own petard.

  2. Helena
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    How very wearying it is to hear you claiming that the ERG favours the government tabling a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible. Where is this mythical beast, this comprehensive Free Trade Agreement? The ERG is the European Research Group – you dont seem to do much research. If you did, maybe you would realise how many years drafting such a thing takes. Maybe you might even try drafting one yourselves. But oh no, that would mean the ERG doing something constructive – that will never happen!

    Reply Yes there is a comprehensive draft to be published very soon with full legal text based on the best of EU/Canada and EU/Japan so the UK can say we are only asking for what the EU has already granted to a select few.

    • L Jones
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Perhaps Helena would make sure of her facts before she berates our host.
      But at least it gives him the opportunity of informing her (and others) of the true position.

      • hefner
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        L.Jones, Isn’t Helena just pointing the obvious, that the ERG’s Free Trade Agreement has not yet been published?
        As for informing people, I guess John has a tough task given that despite his multiple posts on the question there still are on this blog some like Mark B unable to understand, it seems, the difference between Legislative and Executive.
        Despair …

        • Mark B
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Don’t think so. Of course I am willing to be wrong but first I suggest you enlighten us all.

          • hefner
            Posted January 19, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            What you are practically advocating is close to the US system. Please tell us how you expect to go from our present system to your system of choice. Thank you in advance for the details on how to proceed, including (among other things) what to do with the HoL, what electoral system we would be using, whether you would change the public servants with each new government, whether you would change for a fully written one-document Constitution, and who would be effecting the change.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          It seems to me that Mark B understands it very well. As it happens I do not agree with his idea of total separation but I would not accuse him of not understanding the difference between the two.

      • Richard
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Before Chequers, DexEU did course putting much effort into drafting up an FTA (while Robbins was beavering away in that broom cupboard) – which leaked to ConHome:
        We should applaud the ERG’s efforts to prepare improved legal text without HMG’s support.

        Sir John notes the advantage under Article 24 GATT of an ‘interim FTA’: “If the EU then agree to negotiate such an FTA after we have left in March this year, the WTO would let us carry on trading on tariff free terms similar to today whilst we sought to finalise an FTA.”
        This principle might also be applied with non-EU countries.

        Willing parties are able to agree an FTA surprisingly quickly:
        Later codicils could then refine the FTA further.

    • Helena
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      It is over two and a half years since the referendum, and it is just over 2 months til we leave. Just over 2 months in which to negotiate this mythical deal. You tell us we will get it “very soon”. That’s too late. Over 2 years too late. What exactly have you been doing since June 2016?

      • Stred
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        They were not the government in the period after the referendum. They are now doing the work because the government has refused to and is planning to leave in name only or reverse the decision to leave. You seem to be very confused. Perhaps you are an academic or lawyer?

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink


        Amazing how slow remainers can be at negotiating isn’t it.

        Had it been Leavers in control, it would probably have been sorted long ago.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Please read the last paragraph of our host’s entry above and you will see that we cannot have a Free Trade Agreement with the EU until after we have left. It also says what we would do while that agreement is being negotiated.

        • acorn
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          JR’s last paragraph is pure ERG fantasy. I spotted elsewhere on this site a reference to Shanker Singham; that tells me you lot are getting desperate and clutching at straws. Rees Moggs 10 year tariff-free ride to an FTA with the EU is pure Brexiteer fantasy.

          Lorand Bartels, the number one WTO expert says “It’s amazing how this awful misinterpretation of Art XXIV GATT won’t die, no matter how many times I point this out, directly to @ShankerASingham among others. Is there an underlying reason it is so popular with Brexiteers I wonder?

          • Edward2
            Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

            Well over 150 free nations manage OK on the same trading terms.
            Are you going to try to stop me ordering stuff on my PC acorn?

      • oldtimer
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        You are not paying sufficient attention. May high jacked the negotiating process to suppress the FTA approach and push her customs union idea. This was finally revealed at the Chequers meeting last summer (resulting in 10 ministerial resignations) and reflected in the WA, that was comprehensively rejected by parliament earlier this week. In parallel since last summer the ERG and others have published papers and held open meetings to put forward their ideas for an alternative approach to May`s WA. These are, usually, ignored by the main media. They tried but failed to remove her through a Conservative party no confidence vote. They voted against her WA. We shall find out next week whether they have now succeeded in changing her mind as she seeks to find a Plan B that the HoC will support. The proposed ministerial statement drafted for her by Steve Baker MP is such a Plan B. It makes sense. You should read it. It is called A Better Deal and a Better Future and is easily found using any half competent search engine.

      • NickC
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Helena, It is the EU that refuses to negotiate a trade deal until we leave the EU treaties.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          And Theresa May not only meekly accepted the EU’s ridiculous refusal to conduct trade and non-trade negotiations in parallel, as would have been sensible, but repeats the EU’s position as if it was her own.

        • Helena
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          But the ERG can write and propose one. If they ever did any research. Or any work at all

      • stuart grice
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        we do not need to negotiate any deal before the 29th March we just go to WTO and trade with the eu as is now on a free trade basis as is allowed under WTO while a deal is been sought

    • Simon Coleman
      Posted January 19, 2019 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Exactly. The ERG is just a talking shop of complacent, pin-striped, fringe politicians. They don’t do anything because their favoured No deal option requires…absolutely nothing to happen between now and exit day! They’re just ticking off the days and pretending to look like statesmen. But statesmen find solutions – especially in a time of crisis. These people are not only anti-EU; they’re anti-business, allowing Corbyn’s Labour, of all people, to speak up for business and jobs.

  3. oldtimer
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Indeed. It remains to be seen (a) if May adopts the ERG proposal as her Plan B and if so (b) parliament votes for it. This ought to provide a basis for unifying most of her party (the Grieves of this world excepted) and those in other parties who want to avoid no deal.

    The ERG proposal has the virtue of bringing matters to a head now, not kicking the can down the road. It also appears that the government is now more focussed on me deal preparations, the backstop that matters.

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      The ERG proposal is likely to be sensible, relevant, attractive & efficient. Importantly, it is likely to focus on a solution, pursuing what is most wanted & widely accepted.

  4. Dominic
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    ‘We know there are 71 Labour MPs who defy their leader by demanding a second referendum. Mrs May would be unwise to do a deal with them, the SNP and Lib Dems for a second referendum, as between them they would be fewer MPs than the 110 plus the 10 DUP she would lose over it.’

    I find this extremely disturbing. It is obvious to anyone who chooses to see that May’s aim is to secure backing for either an anti-Brexit (pro-EU) deal or at worst a second referendum. Both intentions are both scurrilous and deplorable and reveal the true nature of this PM that she would stoop so low

    It appears that there is nothing Parliamentary Europhiles won’t do to prevent Brexit. Press reports of Hammond promising business leaders that he’ll scupper Brexit add weight to the suspicion that both this PM and her sidekick intend to destroy Brexit

    When May was elected our leader I knew then that her primary function was to corrupt and infect the process of our leaving the EU. It still is her primary aim

    • SecretPeople
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      I think we can also read a lot into the fact that Mrs May has neither admonished nor sacked Phillip Hammond as Chancellor for undermining the government’s and the country’s position.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        She needs his and his supporters. Otherwise, its curtains for her in 11 month time.

        • L Jones
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          ”In 11 months’ time” – that is if the EU allow us to hold our own election, should this ”transition period” come to pass. I wouldn’t put it past them to disallow any demonstrable self-determination while we are still a part of their sinister club.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Dominic (formerly known as “Duncan”)

      “When May was elected our leader I knew then that her primary function was to corrupt and infect the process of our leaving the EU. It still is her primary aim.”

      Yet despite that ‘insight’ you nevertheless voted for her in the 2017 General Election!

      I see no point in changing your pseudonym if writing the same nonsense as under your previous guise.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Don’t be silly; he has to vote Tory because it’s his party.

  5. /IKH
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    “If the EU then agree to negotiate such an FTA after we have left in March this year, the WTO would let us carry on trading on tariff free terms similar to today whilst we sought to finalise an FTA.”

    If this is true, and I have no reason to disbelieve you, it would be a great solution. If you could bring this to the attention of the media, it might gain traction.

    However, I strongly suspect that the E.U. are playing the same game as the PM has been.
    Run down the clock to force a choice between “No deal” and the current deal, with the aim
    of getting the current, voted down, deal past.

    I also think it is likely that the E.U. will hold out to the deadline ( 22:59 29/03/19) for the British Govt to cave and rescind article 50.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts.


    Reply I and my friends put this on the media whenever we get a chance. Publishing here is also putting it out for debate and wider circulation.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Dear Sir John–Maybe it’s me but I have often wondered why we exceedingly rarely if ever see a letter from you in the Telegraph

    • Chris
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: could you write an article for The Spectator online?

      • L Jones
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        You are questioning Sir John as to why he doesn’t publicise more widely.
        Of course, he can only do this if they choose to publish his words. He can’t MAKE them do so.

        Reply Indeed. Happy to out more in nationalpapers if they want it. This material is published and anyone may use it or circulate it further.The press often picks up from this blog and the twitter extracts.

    • James bertram
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Regards ‘“If the EU then agree to negotiate such an FTA after we have left in March this year, the WTO would let us carry on trading on tariff free terms similar to today whilst we sought to finalise an FTA.” I have emailed this to my MP, Anne Milton (a Conservative Remainer, who sheepishly voted for May’s deal, and who’s excuse for not supporting the democratic vote was recently emailed to me as follows ‘I also remain convinced that leaving on WTO rules will result in an economic downturn and I am unwilling to risk the subsequent social consequences that would ensue.’). I also emailed her ‘A Better Deal and a Better Future’.

      I would suggest that everyone emails these two items to their MP so that they cannot be unaware of these arguments.

      Too, Sir John, please work hard on Anne Milton. I have explained to her that the social consequences of a downturn if we do not properly leave the EU on the 29th March will be far worse, both from Civil Disorder, and from the long-term damage to the economy by being closely linked to the sclerotic EU economy – I don’t think she listens to one word I say.
      Best wishes, and thank you for all your work.

  6. Dominic
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The opinion of Parliament and those who populate it regarding Brexit is irrelevant.

    Parliament voted to offer the British people a referenda on our continued membership of the EU. In doing so Parliament took the view that the decision to remain in or leave the EU would be a decision for the British electorate otherwise why offer a referenda?

    In 2016 the British voter decided that the UK would leave the EU.

    Parliament has reneged on its promise to give legal effect to the result of the EU referendum that itself legislated for.

    In effect Parliament’s chosen to break the solemn promise made to the nation back in 2016.

    There are many MPs in the Commons today that are truly offensive to the eye, to the ear and to the soul.

    It is my belief that if Brexit is thwarted British democracy will suffer immeasurable damage. That should please all Europhiles and especially May, Blair and Mandelson

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      It seems it will be thwarted if Philip Hammond gets his way. May still retains him for some reason and he retains Carney. His incompetent, tax to death approach as Chancellor is more than sufficient reason to fire him.

    • Stred
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      It was good to see Blair squirming when Andrew Neil questioned him about his contact with the Commission and promoting a second referendum. Apparently, he is fooling himself that this was somehow patriotic. Even May accused him of undermining the negotiations. That must be the pot calling the kettle but true. Perhaps it was not quite as treacherous as Major, Clegg and Heseltine calling for a bad deal, which May and Robbins secretly sprung upon the country.

    • Norm
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Parliament has given legal effect to Brexit by voting to trigger A50. They also agreed to a leave date 29/3/19 and they also agreed to a no deal if a deal could not be agreed. This is the default provision of triggering A50. The problem appears to be that MP’s have only just realised what they voted for.

      • McBryde
        Posted January 19, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Am I right in stating that MPs were not informed of the whole situation accurately?
        I recall reading somewhere (here? I do recall Sir John implying it recently) that the fear element was used to shut MP’s minds to the no-deal option…

        If this is so, then here lies the true rot. And I ask, if MPs could be given the balancing information, could these special circumstances (that they were misinformed) be enough to change things?
        It would be radical and revolutionary, but I think it would be the right thing to do.

    • Oldrightie
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      My understanding is that, as we discuss and debate, right now, the legislation to leave was enacted, Art 50 invoked and we are set to leave on the 29/03/2019. It is the remain, deep state, corporate and drug money paymasters pushing to buy out the leave legislation. Backed to the hilt by Hammond and tacitly by May.

  7. eeyore
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    So there’s the numbers. We shouldn’t forget Mrs May is a Remainer, with Remainer advisers and a Remainer Cabinet. It’s going to be close.

    A cross-party group led by Nick Boles is putting it about that they have a way to “rescind” A50 with a Bill. If they have it’ll get a fair wind from the Speaker. The great and historic struggle over who governs Britain – our hopeless shower of deadbeats or the German Chancellor – is going right to the wire.

    Ten weeks to go, or just 40 working days in Parliament.

    • L Jones
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Nil desperandum! We should keep the faith.
      Don’t make it turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy for the naysayers.

  8. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    One point Corbyn should clear up is what exactly he means by “take no deal off the table”. As far as I understand it the only way to do this would be to pass legislation to unilaterally withdraw A50. Is that what he means ? The alternative might be to extend A50 but that is out of UK’s hands as it would require all the EU states to agree. If it’s not one of those things then “no deal” happens automatically in March. So what does Corbyn actually mean ?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Dear Roy–The word is that all the EU States would very readily agree to extend the period

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        But we are leaving because the Withdrawal Act repeals the 1972 European Act – not because of Article 50 at all! In Britain British Law holds sway – that’s why E.U. law had to be incorporated into our law.

        • cosmic
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          We are leaving because we invoked Article 50 of the TFEU, which gives a 2 year fixed period for withdrawal, unless extended by consent of all 28 members. After that the EU treaties will no longer apply.

          UK law has nothing to do with it. If say, Nigeria passed an equivalent of the 1972 act, it would not make it a member of the EU.

          • Andy
            Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

            Actually what Article 50 says is that a State can leave in accord with its own Constitutional arrangements. It could and can be argued that we could have disregarded the 2 year period and not engaged with Barnier. By repealing the 1972 Act that destroys the basis of EU Membership because there is no legal mechanism to apply EU Law within the Kingdom.

      • NickC
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Leslie Singleton, Yes, indeed. It is in their interests to extend Art50. I think that is a near certainty now.

  9. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Interesting that Labour and other Politicians will not take part in any consultation, unless no deal is withdrawn, thus weakening any bargaining hand the Government may have with the EU.
    Are those same politicians lobbying the EU to withdraw their backstop and no deal or is it only required of us.

    I wonder if those same Labour supporters and politicians would shackle the hands of the unions in the same way with the ability of workers strikes being withdrawn from any of their future negotiations.
    Any Union official will tell you that the ability to withdraw labour is the strongest threat they have in negotiations.

    Pray tell me John, did not the Politicians of the House of commons actually not vote for No Deal to be included and to be used as our default backstop just a couple of years ago , in case negotiations failed to find a solution.

    Double standards at play here unless of course, perhaps they did not know what they were really voting for !!!!
    How ironic that would be.

    Reply Yes, an absurd position to adopt to say we cannot just leave – which is of course what happens to us if we swap the EU current Treaty for the Withdrawal Agreement, losing Article 50 and binding us in to the backstop

    • L Jones
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Well, that’s good to read it succinctly put. Thank you.

  10. Ronald Olden
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    This is a fact.

    l’ve been blogging about this relentlessly for months. But people I meet seem to think the House of Commons ‘governs’ us.

    It emphatically (thank God) DOES NOT. The House of Commons is NOT even ‘Parliament’. And Parliament is NOT the Executive.

    Parliament is there to hold the Executive to account. It sustains the Executive through votes on the Queen’s Speech, in Votes of Confidence and supply of cash, and decides whether it will support the Government’s proposed legislation.

    The Commons DOES NOT generate its own legislation nor conduct International Affairs. It’s only very recently that the Commons’ consent to war and International Treaties has been sought and constitutionally its’ consent still isn’t required.

    But a new convention has been established in recent years which provides for the Government to try to get such consent where it’s appropriate and practicable to try to do so.

    It’s not at all clear whether Parliament’s consent was really required to invoke Article 50.

    But owing to invoking some connection with the effect on domestic law, the Supreme Court said it was.

    In retrospect it was a good thing they did. But l’m still not sure it was legally right.

    This confusion arises in the minds of British people because the Executive is physically present in the Commons Chamber and are usually all MPs. But there’s no legal reason why any Cabinet Minister including the Prime Minister needs to be an MP at all.

    The confusion is more easily addressed by comparing us with the United States, where the Chief Executive is not a Member of Congress. No one would think that the House could seize power there.

    The upshot of all that however is that it matters not a jot what John Redwood thinks should happen now. The Executive can table whatever Brexit motions and legislation it likes, and Parliament can, if it wishes support it.

    It’s now pretty sure now is that the Executive will decide that we will not be Leaving the EU on March 29th 2019.

    There’s little doubt that the House would vote in favour of such a motion, but in any event no legislation to bring such a change into effect is required. The existing Brexit Act, for which John Redwood voted, permits the Government to alter the Leaving date.

    Unless the House changes its’ mind about this Withdrawal Agreement, we will NOT be leaving the EU on March 29th and quite possibly, never.

    • eeyore
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      The leaving date can be altered by an SI. It must be introduced by a Minister and win approval from both Houses. All 27 EU member states must agree. They will have their price.

      Our host has already committed to opposing such a move and he will not be alone. Mrs May has also repeatedly pledged herself to March 29, for what that’s worth.

      A delay will bring very substantial extra payments to the EU, estimated at £1bn a month. We will also have to contest the European elections in May. Our further loss in international prestige would be immense.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Exactly! And any MP who voted for this would face the Electorate who are already fed up with their refusal to take our instruction! They would all be sacked at ten next election!

      • NickC
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Eeyore, I am sorry to say it but Ronald Olden is correct. The HoC is a Remain Parliament so it would approve the extension. It is in the EU’s interest and in the interests of its sub-states to extend Art50. And no we won’t get any UK MEPs, civil servants or judges because it will be a “temporary” “special” negotiating extension only.

    • Andy
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Well said. As you point out the date of leaving is written into the Withdrawal Act and can only be changed by either a Statutory Instrument or by primary legislation which only the Government can introduce. Mrs May also holds one ace: Royal Assent. Her Majesty has to give assent to any new law and although the power has not been used since 1708 Mrs May could advise HM not to give assent to any bill that sought to undermine Brexit, and that is unchallengeable.

      You also point out about the Supreme Court. I read the judgement and the dissenting judgements and I thought the latter had the better arguments. Subsequently I read a very interesting article which examined in forensic detail the wording and punctuation of the relevant section of the 1972. On such a reading their Lordships had got it badly wrong.

  11. Dave Andrews
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Perhaps a little at a tangent, but I hear this morning that about 650,000 startups were filed with Companies House in 2018. I presume this represents a comparable number of new jobs.
    We are always told about large job losses announced from major employers, but the constant stream of new jobs that never reaches the headlines is nevertheless there. In spite of Brexit !?

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Out in the real world people want to leave on WTO terms, and want a party on ballot papers with that clear policy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Indeed the Conservative party needs to become that party to avoid Corbyn. The Brexit and manifesto traitors and Libdims in the party need to be kicked out.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        yep and Nigel is happy to join the Conservatives if they have a proper Brexit pro British leader, so doors open for Boris as PM and Nigel joins Conservatives, with some obvious policy changes, and kicking out the liberals in all but name… could be interesting

        of course they would have do start doing something about, for instance, immigration and actually delivering on the repeated manifesto promises, but that should be doable

        • forthurst
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Nigel is a washed up politician whose career as such will end on March 30th.

        • McBryde
          Posted January 19, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          Martin Armstrong’s AI system (called Socrates), based on pi cycles and operating with extensive data, has an impressive record in determining patterns in society/economy.
          It predicted the emergence of a preference for new political parties [incl election of non career polititions] and anticipated the Brexit and Trump phenomenum, in that the longterm cycle changed from public to private in 2015.

          As this sentiment is now growing throughout the world, I wonder if, in the ensuing extention, JR might be tempted to field himself as leader of a new party which would include those names mentioned above. It would certainly have the backing of the voter – if Socrates continues to be right.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      The Cameron Government leaflet delivered to every house @ £9 million specified in terms that ‘Leave’ meant out of the Single Market, Customs Union and ECJ i.e WTO terms. So we have already specifically voted to approve that. Incidentally, a poll in Dunderland where Nissan is threatening its workers apropos WTO Brexit found support for Leave had increased from 61% (2016 Referendum) to 70%.

      • L Jones
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Yet still Remainers say we were lied to. If we were then they were too – but they don’t seem to be able to see the correlation.
        I believe we Leavers did a lot more research simply BECAUSE we weren’t convinced by the status quo. Remainers just decided to stay with it (not realising there WAS no ‘status quo’ with the EU).
        Yet we are being portrayed as the gullible ones. You couldn’t make it up.

  13. Andrea Wood
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you John for writing these illuminating pieces and allowing us to share your thoughts and proposals. You really do deserve a peerage after a lifetime of serving your country in a truly patriotic way. I just worry about our country when your generation retire and we are left with the current rump of treacherous self serving deadbeats in charge.

  14. jerry
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    “[the people] dislike the failure so far to deliver a good policy in the national interest to fulfil the promises made on Brexit during the referendum and in the 2017 election.”

    Not so much directed at our host but to those who appear to think MPs and the electorate are being some sort of ‘traitor’ when objecting to their wished for Brexit. I by and large agree with our host, especially his last paragraph regarding the ERG.

    The difficulty for parliament is this, the people are very fickle, which is one of the reasons for the people to ceded every day control to parliament so to give some stability, rather than have a rabble on ever street corner.

    Those who want to hold a second referendum, suspend A50, cancel Brexit altogether or even hold a GE are taking advantage of this fickleness, June 2016 was two and a half years ago, June 2017 a year and half ago after all, they are not wrong for doing so, it is a price of democracy.

    I’m sure, if Corbyn was PM, his manifesto was being placed before the house, our host would one of many MPs using all the parliamentary tricks and tools to challenge, frustrate, such polices, even suggesting the people have changed their minds or did not understand the implications of such a manifesto pledge etc.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      There is a big difference between political parties fighting each other in their efforts to get elected or to get some legislation through Parliament and politicians fighting against us the voters, after a referendum when there was a promise to us by the Prime Minister who said:-

      This is your decision, we will implement what you decide.

      • jerry
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        @Edward2; Then we need to be governed by referendum (the Swiss model, on steroids…), best we hold that second referendum then, never mind that the next Finance Bill (budget) would also need to be approved by referendum, not just a parties majority in the house!

        • Edward2
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          Or alternatively the elite need to relect better on the views of us.

  15. Anthony
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I agree with every word of this.

    But the Boles Bill is going to be debated sometime soon. The Bill says that exit day will be amended to 31 December 2018.

    The Commons will change standing orders to allow it to be debated and it will pass the Commons. Perhaps the Lords can filibuster it out of existence but that is to depend on a chamber that is against Brexit. So it will become law.

    The EU may well agree to this as it knows that the government is under pressure to accept a softer Brexit. Another 9 months of this nonsense? Really? I’m a headbanger about Brexit and even I just don’t want this any more.

    Can this be prevented? How? If not, I would rather just get out of the EU and accept it will take time to wriggle free of the last vestiges of control they have over us once we’re in the backstop.

    I know that the instinct of many here will be to say “Great! Another 9 months to prepare for no deal!” But the Commons will not allow this. It is true that many Tories will be prepared to go out on no deal with another 9 months’ preparation time, but too many MPs would still prefer to avoid no deal at any cost. It will simply be delayed again and again and the Commons will cave because they are Remainers.

    Please don’t give away our Brexit for the sake of anger that May has made it imperfect. Imperfect Brexit is better than no Brexit.

    • jerry
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      @Anthony; “But the Boles Bill is going to be debated sometime soon. The Bill says that exit day will be amended to 31 December 2018.”

      Oh goody, we have already been out of the EU for 18 days…

      Typo excused, can this be correct, would it not take Statutory legislation to change the leaving date, even assuming the EC/EU27 agreed with the Boles Bill?

      “Please don’t give away our Brexit for the sake of anger that May has made it imperfect. is better than no Brexit.”

      No, an imperfect Brexit is worse than no Brexit, certainly if you are trying to resuscitate May’s WA.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        His Bill is here:

        The idea that Nick Boles will save us is pretty laughable; the man did not even know that Norway is not in a customs union with the EU; then when he had finally had that driven into his skull it did not dawn on him that Norway joining such any customs union would infringe the fundamental Article 3 in the EFTA treaty; then when that had penetrated his brain he suggested that it would still be OK because the EFTA countries would happily allow us to join their group without making that fundamental commitment.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          But I read here:

          that one aspect of that Bill has now been shelved because the Liaison Committee is reluctant to take on the role he would assign to it.

          Whether this Bill gets anywhere in the Commons depends firstly on the willingness of a majority of MPs to vote down the government’s timetabling plans and give the Bill enough time to be considered in all its stages, and secondly on the willingness of a majority of MPs to vote it through. The first only makes sense if there is a good chance of the second being fulfilled, and that in turn depends on whether we the people have elected enough MPs who are so unpatriotic and/or stupid that they are prepared to pull the rug from under the feet of the UK government during any further negotiations with the EU, in the hope of overturning the decision we the people made in the 2016 referendum and instead substituting their decision.

          As for the unelected legislators-for-life in the Lords, I am sure they would pass his Bill without a moment’s hesitation.

    • notinmyname
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      The clue is in the word ‘exit’ – an act of leaving.
      There are no flavours of ‘exit’.
      Even Bliar agrees we’re either in or out, staying or leaving.
      The country voted to leave. Vested interests had their chance to influence the debate before June 23 2016. They did… and the country voted to leave.

      Our host has been indefatigable in talking up the benefits of leaving the EU. All the contrary ‘arguments’ I’ve heard (if you can call them that) have been ‘whataboutery’.
      When I hear them I think that the people uttering them have no clue what they are taking about, they are just idealogically opposed to exsiting outside an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy.
      It’s like a condition or disease that they just cannot shake off.
      The BBC definitely has it. And it’s doing them no good whatsoever, as more and more viewers don’t believe their World view.

      • NickC
        Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Notinmyname, Well said – the Remain positions have all been “whataboutery”.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      May’s Deal is ‘Direct Rule from Brussels” – not only do we remain in the E.U. but we lose our Parliament – what ten E.U. will do to us I shudder to think – huge taxes, bail-in, dumping of all unwanted ‘asylum seekers’ –
      Much better to Remain and improve the quality of Parliament and fight again than surrender totally with a ‘perfect remain’ (from the EU’s point of view – no representation at all!).

    • Oldrightie
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I wish it had been 31/12/2018.

  16. Iain Moore
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    We voted to Leave, Parliament thought it could cut a deal, if Parliament can’t get its act together and put together a half decent deal then then the default position comes into effect, we Leave.

  17. Stephen O
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I would prefer a FTA such as proposed by the ERG, but the government has decided to consult with the various opposition parties who all want to remain. So is the government really intending to consult and then do the contrary of what all the parties they consulted with wish?

    I still fear the government would rather ‘crash out’ of the club of democracies than the EU by ignoring the referendum result or at least find a way to delay and kick the can down the road. If they do this via second referendum will leave with no deal unless a FTA can be agreed be an option?

  18. Bryan Harris
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    So, there will be another vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday 29th January …..

    Nick Boles is seeking to make a ‘No Deal’ Brexit legally impossible, while Sarah Wollaston has signalled her intention to table an amendment making any government Brexit plan subject to a second referendum. These must be defeated by a ‘responsible’ Parliament.

    MP’s are still not getting the message that its is they that are on trial.

    • McBryde
      Posted January 19, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Nick Boles is seeking to make a ‘No Deal’ Brexit legally impossible

      I hope some other smart law people are working through their weekends to produce a binding argument to knock that one out of the game.

  19. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    By involving all and sundry May has muddied the waters yet again – clarity is a foreign land.

    She has the untroubled demob bearing of someone who knows she is leaving the job fairly soon.

    A random thought – what if we made N.Ireland a free port?

  20. Kevin
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    “So what then is the deal that could achieve the stated aim of those who want to leave with a deal?”

    It was, at one time, theoretically possible to negotiate a deal simultaneously with leaving. Very quickly, however, the idea of a deal appears to have been reinterpreted as a precondition to leaving, which is completely contrary to the People’s Vote.

    • L Jones
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      That’s really well put, Kevin. It just neatly puts into words what most of us are struggling to say, and to see, through all the smoke and mirrors and obfuscations that are being deliberately thrown in our way by May and her cohort.

  21. Lorna
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Leaving on WTO rules on a temporary basis while we negotiated a FTA is not No Deal .It is about the words we use! We can not negotiate a FTA while still in the EU.So a short transition is a good compromise
    Putting in place the comprehensive EU preparations for No Deal many already in the rejected WA could also be adopted by EU and UK
    It seems that those steps is very different to the No Deal scenario often described as chaotic ,damaging and other hyperboles in the media and by opponents
    The real challenge is communication and for all Brexit supporting MPs to,speak from the sane script .No free wheeling !
    Time for someone like yourself and JRM both excellent communicators to explain this clearly to The PM public and Parliament .Lets go!

    • agrictola
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Any PM that requires an explanation of the options at this state of the game should be occupied sewing handkerchiefs.

  22. John Sheridan
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    John, Are you suggesting that you would accept the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) treaty as it stands so long as in the Political Declaration the EU agrees to the ERG FTA option, or are you saying that the WA needs to be revised to include the FTA ?

    Reply I m against the Withdrawal Agreement, This is an alternative

    • John Sheridan
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the clarification John and good luck with convincing Mrs May to change direction.

  23. Alan Joyce
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    Someone once said “To err is human but to really foul things up you need a computer”.

    I would merely substitute a “a band of MP’s” if that is the collective noun for them.

    There are a few notable exceptions of course but…..

    Who else but our MP’s would continue to allow a million people every 3 years to come to an already overcrowded and overstretched country?

    Who else would build a single railway line at a cost of up to £100 billion?

    Who else could conduct a negotiation of such enormous magnitude and importance to the country in such a cackhanded way so as to leave its citizens close to despair?

    • forthurst
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      In my experience, computers are highly predictable; they have very little choice in the matter. The collective noun for MPs is a ‘plague’. In my lifetime, they have wreaked more devastation on my country than the Black Death.

    • Chris
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Re collective noun ideas, A J, how about a “gang of MPs”. Just about sums them up. Actually “cabal” may be better.

  24. formula57
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    “…Mrs May would be unwise to do a deal with them[Labour MPs who defy their leader], the SNP and Lib Dems for a second referendum” – agreed, but then we know Mrs. Ramsey MacMay is unwise.

  25. Alison
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    A different withdrawal agreement (which is what I assume ‘deal’ means in the phrase ‘no deal’) can be agreed without problem by 29 March, with a good team of real experts on the UK side. Underpinned by the EU’s fundamentally weak negotiating position – it won’t be weak if parliament somehow removes the possibiligy of ‘no deal’.

    So all this furore in and around parliament is actually damaging the prospects of getting a ‘deal’ by 29 March.

    Before people holler, there is NO need for a hard border between NI & Ireland. The EU & Varadkar repeatedly say they won’t put one up.

  26. Christine
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    All the commonwealth countries followed the road to independence. The economic risk they faced was far greater than what we are facing today but none of them turned back because it was too difficult. I can’t understand why the majority of our politicians and media want to be ruled by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats. The problem with the Brexiteers is that they have allowed the Remainers to keep the discussion about trade. People didn’t vote for Brexit because of trade. They wanted an independent sovereign nation where they could elect politicians and hold them to account. Look at where the EU wants us by 2025: EU army, control of taxation, control of foreign policy, removal of vetos, removal of rebates. Once they have all this in place and control the money and the laws there will be no need for national parliaments, as they won’t have any powers. Do people really want to live in a world where they cannot influence how their country is run?

    • agrictola
      Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely correct Christeen. You summarise what is at stake very accurately.

  27. agrictola
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I’m pleased you realise the significance of WTO Art 24.
    It provides us with a way forward, but we must not forget that there are some good elements in the WA that will need to be picked up on. Reciprocal citizens rights for example.

    The aspect of this that I find so appalling, dishonest, and self serving is the behaviour of MPs. The question on the referendum was quite clear, leave or remain. The electorate had a multitude of reasons for voting either way. The decision was in the hands of the people and it was final.

    We voted to leave,surprising the majority of politicians and disappointing big business or at least some of it. From the departure of Cameron,quite honourably in my view, and his replacement by May we have suffered the total dishonesty of politicians. Vocally they supported the result of the referendum, and voted through the mechanisms to effect it, but beneath the surface they have beavered away to reverse it. May has made numerous speaches in support of Brexit but confirmed that it had all been one big confidence trick with her Chequers meeting. The nay sayers took strength from Chequers. From this point it has been downhill for Brexit ever since. Not just downhill but a complete fiasco that has destroyed in the minds of many their faith in British democracy. This is where it gets very serious because the alternatives around the World can be seen in all their horror.

    The position taken by my own MP is such that he cannot be voted for again, which effectively disenfranchises me unless by the next election he has resigned or Nigel Farage has a suitable alternative in place.

    Perfidious Albion was an expression from the past, we have now had it’s reallity heaped upon us in the present.

  28. Andy
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    One key Brexiteer objection to the EU – which I hear all the time – is that MEPs can’t propose laws. And yet here you are now arguing that MPs should not propose laws. Such is the ideological confusion at the heart of Brexit.

    And we should be clear – the ERG does not support free trade. The single market and customs union are – by far – the most comprehensive facilitators of free trade in the world. Nothing else comes close – not a Canada deal, not a Japan deal. Nothing. So the ERG is actually in favour of trade barriers. Of course none of you will admit this ideological incoherence – but it does not make it any less true.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 19, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Classic strawman argument
      You first make a false claim ……the ERG does not support free trade….and then go onto to claim….so the ERG are in favour of trade barriers.
      Then you complete your strawman by complaining that nobody will admit to this.
      Ridiculous nonsense from you andy.

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I was amused last night when the clueless young “Director” of some left-wing body or other was invited onto the Sky News press review and referred favourably to:

    “… the idea around a Norway-type customs union thing …”.

    How many times does it have to be said that Norway is not any customs union thing, not with the other three EFTA countries let alone with the EU countries, and it is now well over a year since the Irish government categorically rejected even the kind of “light touch” customs border which is operated between Norway and Sweden?

  30. Den
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    M. Barnier told his ERG visitors that a Canada plus type deal would be acceptable to the EU. The ERG liked the idea but it seems it was either ignored or thrown out by Mrs May. Was she being her usual obstinate self or was there something there that was not in the interest of the British people? If so, it was hard to see what that problem was.
    It seems to me that Mr Tusk was right in 2016, when he said there would be no deal until we had left the EU.
    That still being the case, surely we should wait until March 30th and start negotiations for a new trade at that time?

  31. Edwardm
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    It would be more constructive for those MPs who are trying to innovate new parliamentary procedures to instead put their efforts into preparing for a clean Brexit and the opportunities that can follow.

    What you and the ERG propose is such commonsense it should be readily accepted. Instead we have numerous MPs who fear leaving the embrace of the EU, who fear making their own decisions in the world, and who so attempt to project their own inferiorities and lack of global vision and ambition on to our country. We want to be great, they make us small.

    The HoC is not the place for them – deselections needed now.

  32. Simon Coleman
    Posted January 19, 2019 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    If the DUP are getting interested in a customs union, as reported, then there has to be a chance that that will be the option that commands enough support. Most of the opposition parties would support it once they realise that a people’s vote is impossible. The legislation leading to No deal can be changed – there is time. If the soft Brexit forces have the courage to face this ‘enemies of the people’ nonsense, then they can deliver a sensible, compromise Brexit. And if the country is worse off, we can have that second referendum in 6-10 years time.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 19, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Remaining in the customs union would require accepting single market rules and freedom of movement and supremacy of the ECJ on anything to do with trade and making large annual payments.
      It is remaining in the EU

  33. Melvin Cornwell
    Posted January 19, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    *Iain Gill
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink
    Out in the real world people want to leave on WTO terms, and want a party on ballot papers with that clear policy.*

    Yes. To clarify, almost nobody expects us just to stay on WTO terms, per se. The order of play is as SJR has stated: 1. Explain clearly what we are looking for re a FTA 2. Leave on 29/03/19 (pointless calling it no deal as we already know we can’t have any deal UNTIL we have left) 3. Operate on ‘retained terms’, as the WTO rules allow, whilst we sort the FTA 4. Recognise that we are free, no longer beholden, and we should only accept what suits us 5 Understand that many major countries trade perfectly successfully with the EU without a full trade agreement, and the UK can do likewise if necessary.

  34. BR
    Posted January 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The last paragraph is something I’ve been saying for ages, so it’s about time an MP said it.

    Perhaps you could also say it loudly and clearly (so that we can see it on TV) to the ill-informed in London who are pretending that they are capable of running a country (you probably know them collectively as your colleagues).

    Make sure the HoC is packed when you say it so that none of them has any excuse not to know this. It is THE key point.

  35. BR
    Posted January 20, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    If Parliament do take control next week, I hope you will be advocating that the government calls a general election to prevent them doing anything.

    Prorogue parliament, set a GE date beyond 29/3 (the FTP Act requires minimum 25 working days, i.e. 7 weeks or ore) and refuse to do any more on Brexit until after that expires.

    That way you can fight the GE on the question of what we do AFTER Brexit on WTO terms “What deal do we want with the EU after 29/3?”.

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    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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