Working throughout February

I had no plans to take a holiday and was intending  to work as normal when Parliament planned a February recess. I am very willing to attend Parliament to do anything to ensure a smooth exit from the EU on 29 March on any dates between now and then.


  1. agricola
    February 1, 2019

    No doubt everyone else in the country is working so why not.

    1. Peter
      February 1, 2019

      Apparently not much will actually happen in Parliament during this time. It is just a gimmick so that May can demonstrate she is pulling out all the stops to reach a solution.

      1. Hope
        February 1, 2019

        JR, we read today that Hunt and Javid claiming Brexit will be delayed. If correct that would make May the most compulsive liar in history as well as her record defeat.

        Do you think people will believe your govt delay is similar May’s temporary backstop, or is this not the forerunner to extension and thwart Brexit? No one trusts May or your govt. Hammond, Clarke and Rudd have taken public disloyalty and distrust to another level. Still no discipline for the minister briefing Airbus to scare us.

    2. oldtimer
      February 1, 2019

      Unfortunately there seem to be too many MPs working to frustrate an exit on 29 March.

    3. Hope
      February 1, 2019

      JR, I do not feel sorry for MPs. £77,000 for a part time unqualified job is huge money. Think of,qualified full time nurses, doctors, teachers and police officers to name a few. We had the Labour MP griping about working late to debate Brexit, she was inundated with correspondence from people who,work long unsociable hours doing good for society.

      Currently a Labour MP is inside jail for perverting the course of justice still clocking up her pay! She will not resign! Any other organisation or industry would be able to sack her. Why is it that we do not have easier ways of getting rid of MPs? We were promised right to recall under Cameron and he made a fudge. We were promised independent investigations, lay members not allowed to vote only MPs!

      Same for Lords convicted of crimes and allowed to still sit! Where is May’s fair for all society drivel?

      Why is Greg Clarke and Amber Rudd still in post? Rudd wanted to vote with a minority of Labour MPs rather than her govt! Her appalling record goes before her. She only had a few hundred majority. Torymassociations need to oust these distasteful disloyal people ASAP.

      1. jerry
        February 1, 2019

        @Hope; “Why is Greg Clarke and Amber Rudd still in post”

        I guess because they did not defy the Govt/party whips.

        “Torymassociations need to oust these distasteful disloyal people ASAP.”

        Indeed, those who would be far happier sitting in a UKIP party rickshaw on the way to their nirvana!

        1. Hope
          February 2, 2019

          Openly speaking against govt policy when May said collective responsibility was in place would be a starter. Publicly stating she wanted to vote with a minority of Labour MPs against govt policy might be another. Why is she in govt when rather than support policy she wants to support a minority of MPs in opposition! Perhaps stating she wanted a second referendum might add to this. Alternatively her appalling record as Home Secretary ought to have been enough i.e. Losing 56,000 illegal immigrants then the day after telling the police any request for money would fall on deaf ears, allowing jihadis to return to the UK only one out of 400 prevention orders issued, two attrocities through insecure borders as we were to,d in no stretch of the imagination are our borders secure by the govt watchdog! Then of course the Windrush scandal where she did nothing to stop the deportation of people legally here. Just a few ideas for starters.

          1. jerry
            February 2, 2019

            @Hope; Typical of your double standards, when (shadow) Cabinet ranking eurosceptics, and now Brexiteers, spoke/speak openly against the official line people such as yourself celebrated – wanting them promoted, not sacked.

            So why don’t leaders/PM’s sack such decanters, could it be because in-post whilst they might well speak out they are less likely to actually defy the whip?

            Better an otherwise influential europhile in Cabinet than a loose cannon on the back benches!

            “Then of course the Windrush scandal”

            The problem was the lack of paper records (landing cards), and the “hostile environment” brought about by the sort of comments people who share your views like to make about migrants. TM was not solely responsible for the ensuing scandal how ever much you dream she was, for starters, as you kindly remind us above, there is cabinet collective responsibility [1], then those who campaigned for harder (if not hostile) immigration rules, and then who actually instigated the destruction of the Landing Cards, the last Labour Govt. back in 2009.

            [1] collective responsibility that is also vitally important when it comes to considering govt policies on illegal migrants, police funding, and anti-terrorism

            But hay-ho, why let pesky little facts get in the way of a good old ‘hopeless’ anti Teresa May rant!…

    4. agricola
      February 1, 2019

      I’m well aware that MPs have plenty of social service work to do plus work on committees beyond appearing in the HoC. It does however seem strange to be breaking for a holiday so close to Christmas and Easter. I would aslo question why schools do it.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 1, 2019

        Why not it’s a great time to go skiing and teach your children to ski. You can often learn more from a holiday with family on than listening to some lefty school teachers about global warming or something.

        1. Stephen Priest
          February 1, 2019

          It might be useful for Remain MPs to go skiing in Switzerland. They might realise that there is a life outside the EU and its Customs Union, Single Market and European Courts of Justice. I suppose being a mountainous country it has its fair share of Cliff edges.

          I assume all Remain MPs are aware that Switzerland is not in the European Union.

          1. Richard1
            February 1, 2019

            Indeed. I suggest we taxpayers fund such a holiday for remainer MPs conditional on such MPs 1) visiting Swiss shops and drug stores to assure themselves there is no shortage of food and medicines and 2) driving to and fro across the various borders at different points to assure themselves there is no need for watchtowers and barbed wire when you aren’t in the EUs customs union.

      2. a-tracy
        February 1, 2019

        There is a break every 6-7 weeks, hence is holiday in cold February.

      3. Cheshire Girl
        February 2, 2019

        I dont know anyone who gets a week off with pay for Half Term.

        My Son who works for the Government (DWP) in London, will be working as usual. He doesnt get £77.OOO. He gets £24 a year (before tax) and gets plenty of abuse from ‘clients’, especially about Universal Credit. He got three days off for Christmas . He gets 4 weeks off for Summer, if he can get it, as they are shortstaffed and overwhelmed ( staff has been cut).

        I point out all this because, I dont grudge MPs a decent holiday, but to complain because you cant have a week off for Half Term, is starting to annoy the general public who have no such perks.

    5. Norman
      February 1, 2019

      MPs’ work is pretty full-on, and a huge responsibility. Sound judgement will suffer without decent periodic rest. So thank you, John, and all your colleagues, for all your continued hard work at such a crucial time in the governance of the United Kingdom.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 1, 2019

        Alas most MP have appalling judgement (and a sense of direction that is 180 degrees out) certainly May and Hammond have.

      2. Stephen Priest
        February 1, 2019

        It’s good to see the wall to wall coverage on the BBC of the Labour MP currently in prison but still drawing her MP’s salary.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 1, 2019

          The BBC are clearly far too busy getting pop musicians on This Week to hurl absurd & vile abuse at Nigel Farage and lining up 4 to 1 remain to leave panellists on Question Time and Any Question and trying to overturn the leave vote.

    6. bigneil
      February 1, 2019

      I doubt that all those who arrived in rubber dinghies and in the back of lorries are working, nor have any intention of doing so, ever.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 1, 2019

        I do not really agree with that. I am sure most would like to work if they are allowed to. After all they have showed a lot of determination to get here.

  2. Alan Jutson
    February 1, 2019

    Thank you for letting us know.

    I wonder how many Mp’s will do likewise given the not unexpected situation we now find ourselves in, that negotiations will probably still be proceeding up until 29th March, and a certain amount of disruption should be expected for a least a short time after that date.

    I am amazed (well not really) Government did no see this one coming.

    I seem to recall David Davis and others warning of this very fact about 12 months ago, because that is the way negotiations often end up ! !

    1. Know-Dice
      February 1, 2019

      Agreed, even if the WA had been voted through, there was apparently enough legislation that needed to pass through Parliament to have kept MPs busy until 29th March.

      How out of touch with the real world are they (except Sir JR)…

      1. Hope
        February 1, 2019

        When article 50 was issued it was known what legislation was required. The govt had plenty of time. This is another ruse.

        1. Hope
          February 1, 2019

          There was also plent of time to prepare for no deal. If the govt I am not ready then it is the govt fault. But the whistle blower,states the govt is ready it is another scare story.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 1, 2019

      It was gross negligence of Cameron and the civil service not to start to prepare fully for a clean Brexit as soon as Cameron (in Feb 2016) fixed the referendum date. May has been ever more negligent. They have had three years already. World War II only lasted six!

      What a load of useless leaders and MPs we currently have. Just get the government parasites out of the damn way as far as possible please.

      1. Mitchel
        February 1, 2019

        The Peace of Westphalia only took two years to conclude-and there were 100+ warring parties involved!

      2. jerry
        February 1, 2019

        @LL; Your criticisms are ever the opportunist…

        “It was gross negligence of Cameron and the civil service not to start to prepare fully for a clean Brexit as soon as Cameron (in Feb 2016) fixed the referendum date.”

        Yet you would have been the first to complain about the govt having wasted millions of tax payers money had the vote been Remain, after all like some others on this site you never miss an opportunity to have a dig at Cameron and Osborne et al.

        “May has been ever more negligent. They have had three years already.”

        Yet you would have been the first to complain about unnecessary expense to the tax payer had the Govt spent time and money preparing for a WTO exit had the EU given us what we asked as a WA.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 1, 2019

          Nonsense the outcome of the vote was rather finely balanced circa 50/50 (though I did get 4 to 1 on Brexit at one point). It was government’s very clear duty to prepare for either outcome. Any General not doing so in a war would deserve court martial and severe punishment. Cameron just walked off with a good pension and abandonned ship, it was gross negligence.

          1. jerry
            February 2, 2019

            @LL; When you wanted Cameron to plan for a post Brexit world the opinion-polls (and many Brexiteers) expected a resounding win for Remain. Yes it is the duty of the govt to plan for the future but it is also the govts duty to use tax payers money wisely, in fact it is the law.

            Also, once the real result was known, there being no data specified for triggering A50 if the govt felt that the country needed more than two (and half) years to prepare then it should have delayed A50 longer but then the Brexiteers would have been up in arms also – “Head you loose, Tails we win” – the govt were damned whatever they did when it comes to the likes of you, wasting tax payers money on the one hand and defying the people on the other.

            Stop using our 20/20 hindsight to bash others who at the time didn’t even have so much as Madams Edith’s crystal ball…

  3. Narrow Shoulders
    February 1, 2019

    That (some) MPs expect taxpayers to refund their cancelled holidays demonstrates how out of touch our representatives are.

    In the real world we have to reclaim from our travel insurance or credit cards. It is a laborious process but we have to be resilient.

    Resilience is a trait lacking in our entitled MPs and Lords.

    1. Nig l
      February 1, 2019

      Indeed one of the country’s most important events this century and the first message I read is about some MPs whingeing about refunds. Why would anyone want to be away at this momentous time anyway is beyond me.

      Unfortunately just reinforces our cynicism.

    2. Stred
      February 1, 2019

      Let them go on holiday. Most will be Remainers and the fewer voting to scupper Brexit the better. Let’s hope they don’t come to any harm skiing….

    3. agricola
      February 1, 2019

      You have to remember that MPs fix their own salaries, expenses, pensions. They therefore go into shock mode when they come into direct contact with the real world that most of their fellow citizens live in. Were they to actually experience some of the grosser aspects of living in the fifth largest economy in the World they would be anxcious to remove the cancers.
      Henry Ford was once chastised for paying his workers too much. His reply was to the effect that if he did not pay good wages there would be no one to buy his cars.
      Our legislators could learn much from their experience of touching the real world to correct those aspects which are burdonsome to their electorate.

  4. Kevin
    February 1, 2019

    Thanks again for your commitment. If decolonisation had been this drawn out we would still be celebrating Empire Day.

  5. Al
    February 1, 2019

    I find it rather appalling that some MPs seem to think they should be compensated for missing holidays for work (e.g. Labour and childcare costs). I, and the others I’ve spoken to, have little sympathy since in the private sector you are expected to do what the job demands and work round it. If you can’t do that, you should leave and the company will encourage you to do so – especially if the delay is solely due to the department’s own infighting…

    (And if they aren’t competant enough to take out insurance to cover the costs of cancellation or changing dates for overseas holidays, that raises questions about their ability to handle larger issues…)

  6. Man of Kent
    February 1, 2019

    At least there is only one person to blame

  7. Dave Andrews
    February 1, 2019

    I would be quite happy if the Commons had its February recess as normal. No doubt MPs can continue working in their constituencies, holding surgeries and responding to letters.
    Brexit has proved beyond the wit of Parliament, so I don’t see carrying on talking about it all through February will achieve anything. The arguments have all been played out and a clean break from the EU seems the only exit.

  8. Andy
    February 1, 2019

    There is no such thing as a smooth Brexit.

    If you really want to help your country you will end this farce now

    1. Lifelogic
      February 1, 2019

      It might not be smooth but it is certainly far better than remaining. What make you think remaining in an anti-democratic, socialist, EU super state will be smooth?

    2. Roy Grainger
      February 1, 2019

      Getting worried we’re actually going to leave Andy ? Why not take advantage of freedom of movement ?

    3. Dennisa
      February 1, 2019

      From Politico this morning:

      “The EU’s current long-term budget discussions are fractious over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit leaving a big fat black hole in the kitty.”

      As the Clinton campaign said, “It’s the (EU) economy, stupid.”

    4. L Jones
      February 1, 2019

      So, Andy, please do tell us how you would envisage our remaining in the EU now, if you had your way. Describe the tears of joy, the open arms of welcome and relief, the back-slapping, cheek-kissing, smiles and happy surrender, the joyful handing over of loads of cash just to see the grateful expressions on the faces of your EU masters!

      Then describe to us the great, golden, glorious future that could be ours for the asking! Tell us how you explain to your children how they’ll enjoy their time in the EU army, how it’d be worth putting their lives on the line for it, how every penny of their extra taxes should be gladly handed over to be allowed to be a part of that magnificent and noble enterprise that is the European Union.

      You’ll have your work cut out, yes – but then you’ve time on your hands, it seems.

      1. L Jones
        February 1, 2019

        PS Sorry, Sir John. I know it doesn’t add anything to the debate, but I can’t resist it, he’s such a drip.

    5. jerry
      February 1, 2019

      @Andy; “If you really want to help your country”

      Interesting (accidental) admission there Andrea, no UK national would have used such syntax to describe their own country of birth or adopted country. Troll along now please “Andy”, you’ve had your ‘fun’….

  9. Ian Murray
    February 1, 2019

    March 29th? Some hope! The Prime Minister’s key skill is kicking the can down the road. She’s given a whole new meaning to Neverendum.

  10. Ian wragg
    February 1, 2019

    Just what is this legislation that has to be in place before we can leave the EU.
    Primary legislation has received Royal Assent that we leave on 29th March. End of.

  11. GilesB
    February 1, 2019

    What has to be done to register new tariff tables with the WTO?

    Obviously we won’t sit down with all the WTO members and a blank sheet of paper.

    Can we just start by proposing the EU’s Common External Tariff table? And then review and revise it, downwards at our leisure …

    For inbound tariff quotas we could just take 2017 actuals plus say 3% for growth in world trade. For outbound we can inform WTO members that we expect a quota equal to our actual 2017 exports plus 3%.

    Having a draft set of tariffs as above would be a good start to the discussions. If Liam Fox doesn’t already have something similar, please suggest it to him as useful holiday homework during the recess. Thanks

    1. Know-Dice
      February 1, 2019

      Don’t forget currently 80% of that “inbound” tariff gets sent to the EU, so you could reduce by that amount and still be in pocket…

    2. Mitchel
      February 1, 2019

      Some quite interesting info out on the EU’s “Deep and Comprehensive FTA” with Ukraine this week via a couple of tweets from Ben Aris,editor of BNE(Business New Europe)which specialises in Eastern Europe:

      “It’s not even the end of January and Ukraine has already used up it’s entire duty-free EU quota under the DCFTA for corn,honey,grapes and apple juice and 44% of the quota for wheat fibre,38% for sugar,17% for starch.DCFTA is not free trade agreement at all.

      I’ve said this before:if we really want to help Ukraine then instead of making it grant dependent on the IMF et al we should simply drop extremely restrictive trade quotas and let it trade it’s way out of it’s hole,biz would flourish,investors pour in and prices in the EU would drop……the collapse in trade with Russia has not been compensated with new trade with EU and because imports from EU are not regulated trade deficit increased to $9bn….Ukraine has the lowest salaries and GDP per capita in Europe….Ukraine’s egg and poultry sector is large enough and produces at a low enough cost that it could largely destroy the industry in western Europe.”

      One positive note-it’s trade with China has surged;but that hardly helps re-orientate the country westwards!

      1. Denis Cooper
        February 2, 2019

        Thanks for that illumination.

        I don’t suppose this is what Jeremy Corbyn has in mind with his efforts to set us on course for copying Ukraine’s relationship with the EU. Because there is no way the EU would allow the UK any meaningful say over the operation of the/a customs union that he wants, it being the exclusive prerogative of the EU member states to set their, that is to say the EU’s, common commercial policy.

        “Common Commercial Policy”

        “The EU is a customs union having economic agreements with most countries or blocks of countries. The EU negotiates on behalf of the member states. Most international commercial agreements can be decided by qualified majority in the Council of Ministers and with the consent of the European Parliament.”

        Even while the UK is still an EU member state it only has a 13% say in the Council of Ministers, once it has left the EU it will have zero say.

        “The Lisbon Treaty established the full common commercial policy as an exclusive EU competence where member states can do nothing on their own.”

        And nor would the UK be able to do anything on its own.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    February 1, 2019

    I’m sure I heard earlier on radio 4 Today that your chief whip has told Conservative MPs it doesn’t matter if they don’t turn up – no Brexit business being conducted!

    1. jerry
      February 1, 2019

      @Brian Tomkinson; Brexit is not the only work MPs (and Lords) need to to do, I fear much of this other important work is not getting done.

  13. Lifelogic
    February 1, 2019

    I am not sure travel insurance covers cancellation for demands of employer! Mind you if most of lefty, remainer types of MPs (70% of them) left for a very long or permanent holiday it would be a positive boon.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    February 1, 2019

    Also heard on Today that 9 cabinet ministers are privately saying the leaving date will have to be extended – some time never no doubt!

    1. Lifelogic
      February 1, 2019

      May will surely do this. She has got everything else wrong after all.

    2. Denis Cooper
      February 1, 2019

      Theresa May has personal experience of fast-tracking legislation. When she was Home Secretary a court came up with an unexpected decision about periods of police detention which required a speedy change to the law, and she had the very short Police (Detention and Bail) Act 2011 rushed through all of its stages in both Houses and given Royal Assent in just one week:

      First Reading in the Commons Tuesday 05.07.2011, all other stages in Commons and First Reading in the Lords Thursday 07.07.2011, all other stages in the Lords and Royal Assent Tuesday 12.07.2011.

      I find this report about “Expedited Legislation”:

      which refers to a 2009 report of the House of Lords Constitutional Committee:

      “Fast-track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards”

      and that said:

      “28. In practice any of the following procedural characteristics can define and identify fast-track legislation:

      · Legislation which has been taken through all its stages in the Commons in one day;

      · Legislation which has had two or more of its stages taken in one day in the Lords (Standing Order 47 having been dispensed with);

      · Legislation where there has been a significant departure from the normal intervals between stages;

      · Legislation which Parliament has been recalled to consider and pass;

      · Legislation which, even though none of the above apply, has been expedited because of an urgent situation (see for an example of this the Clerk of the Parliaments’ written evidence on the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, pp 159, 166).”

      From that I surmise that in theory a Bill could perhaps go through all its stages in both Houses and become law in as little as a day if there was a legitimate pressing need and it did not meet with obstruction, especially in the Lords.

      I do not see that our withdrawal from the EU should be delayed by as much as a second because anti-democratic unelected legislators in the House of Lords may choose to obstruct the passage of necessary legislation, if there is any sign that they will attempt to do that they should be told plainly by the Prime Minister that they are imperilling the future existence of their House.

  15. Bryan Harris
    February 1, 2019

    A great example – Perhaps we can get a break from the remoaners though

  16. Lifelogic
    February 1, 2019

    Keep up this vital good work JR. Good to see another sensible, sound, leave supporter Peter Lilley on Newnight for a rare change. Even if we did get the dire Adonis too.

    Still 4 to 1 remainers on QT last night then the BBC’s “This Week” programme gets some ignorant pop person to abuse Nigel Farage appallingly. Andrew Neil did at least put her right. The BBC are certainly batting for the EU (and for the UK to become a vassal state) at every turn.

  17. ian parkinson
    February 1, 2019

    The irony is that the cancellation of parliamentary leave is due to a failure of parliament to think about what work needs doing and plan accordingly.

    Anybody who booked a holiday has shown that they really weren’t thinking through what work needed to be done.

    Of course the UK is still faffing around with a modified WA. If we leave with no-deal we should write and present a FTA including very strong mutual recognition language for services – and state that whilst no money is owed, we kindly offer some staged payments.

  18. fedupsoutherner
    February 1, 2019

    Great stuff John. At least we always know we can rely on you. Shame about some others though.

  19. Mark B
    February 1, 2019

    Good morning – again.

    I had no plans to take a holiday . . .

    Well I must say, you would benefit from a bit of R&R as many here will, I am sure, agree ?

  20. A.Sedgwick
    February 1, 2019

    Most of the “debate” in the Commons is grandstanding or two party survival and achieves little. Rarely is some fresh idea brought to the floor, which changes the picture. I would have thought Article 24 was a contender but its late appearance seems of no particular interest.

    The Brexit backlash by the Establishment is highlighting the long known serious flaws in our system and shows the people are not really represented by the system.

    The level of arrogance and ignorance by many MPs and jokers in the Lords is truly breathtaking.

    If we ever truly get out of this collapsing, authoritarian EU then some of the next issues should be:

    Local Government
    English Parliament
    Tax inequality and simplicity (kill VAT)
    Security e.g. more police and military
    Sane Energy
    Effective Transport
    Overseas aid

    Brexit proves we dreamers are just that, common sense is for the birds.

    1. margaret howard
      February 1, 2019

      A Sedgwick

      “Tax inequality and simplicity (kill VAT)”

      When we joined the EU, VAT replaced our own Purchase Tax which was levied between 1940 and 1973 at different rates depending on goods’ luxuriousness and applied to the wholesale price and varied between 33 and 100%!!

      “Between October 1940 and 1973 the UK had a consumption tax called Purchase Tax, which was levied at different rates depending on goods’ luxuriousness.

      Purchase Tax was applied to the wholesale price, initially at a rate of 331⁄3%. This was doubled in April 1942 to 662⁄3%, and further increased in April 1943 to a rate of 100%, before reverting in April 1946 to 331⁄3% again.

      Unlike VAT, Purchase Tax was applied at the point of manufacture and distribution, not at the point of sale. The rate of Purchase Tax at the start of 1973, when it gave way to VAT, was 25%

      Those were the days!

      1. A.Sedgwick
        February 2, 2019

        Yes I lived through it and worked with it, I made no comment about returning to purchase tax.

        What a patronising reply!

      2. Denis Cooper
        February 2, 2019

        Well, you set me on an unsuccessful search for the old leaflet I had quoting a Frenchman explaining the benefits of VAT to MPs, the main advantage being its power to fool the people through its complexity … however you may be interested in this speech that I came across, Labour’s bushy-browed Denis Healey on December 5th 1972:

        “The House will recall that it is now nearly eight months since the Chancellor of the Exchequer first announced his intention of introducing the value added tax on 1st April next year. As he made clear, it is designed, at a rate of 10 per cent., to collect the same amount in tax as the purchase tax and the selective employment tax that it is replacing, but to collect that money from a very much wider range of goods and services. Every man, woman and child in the country will be affected by value added tax as consumers of those goods and services, and some 2 million persons will also be affected as collectors. Half a million will have to fill in hundreds of invoices every year without, in the end, paying or collecting any tax. Another half million will have to decide whether they wish to be exempt for the sake of avoiding the administrative disadvantages of being included in the tax or whether to opt for inclusion in the tax so as to recover the inputs on the goods and services on which they themselves pay tax.

        The Government made it clear last spring that this will be an inordinately expensive tax to collect. The Government themselves have decided to increase the size of the Customs and Excise by a 1108 third to collect it … ”

        And so forth.

  21. Sakara Gold
    February 1, 2019

    My apologies for an off topic post.

    The UK shipbuilding industry was dismayed to learn yesterday of yet another baleful decision by the MoD, this time to refuse to restrict any future hospital ship build to British shipyards.

    When replying to a written parliamentary question from Luke Pollard, the Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport “….whether a UK hospital ship would be classed as a complex warship and eligible for a restricted tender for UK shipyards for its construction?” Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:- “In accordance with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, UK hospital ships procured by the Royal Navy are not warships….!”

    Who is paying this chap, us or the Russians? Unless we retain the trade and shipbuilding management skills here in the UK to build ships like this, eventually we will be buying them from the Americans or we will be forced to scrap the Royal Navy.

    I am also dismayed at the closure of Appledore shipyard in Devon by Babcock, citing lack of work from the MoD. This yard has built almost 200 ships since the Spanish Armada and is absolutely crucial to the south west economy and British shipbuilding. The trade union GMB and sister union Unite staged a mass rally to save the shipyard and handed in a nearly 10,000 petition to the Ministry of Defence and Babcock just this week, calling on them to save this shipyard – which is vital to both the local community and UK shipbuilding

    The closure of this yard has now been discussed in the Lords by the Labour peer Lord Berkeley, apparently an expression of interest has been received from the oil and gas industry company Oil, Gas and Marine Ltd., who are very interested in taking over the yard. They are in discussions with Babcock and the owner about the assets and the staff. They claim to be able to finance a start-up providing that they receive orders; the hospital ship replacement for RFA Argus would be ideal and would retain vital shipbuilding and fit-out skills.

    I know that Sir John Redwood has an interest in the navy. Is not now a good time to review the so-called National Shipbuilding Strategy? At a time when the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has given a contract to provide additional Ro-Ro capability in preparation for Brexit to a company with no experience of running a ferry service – and which has no actual ships – could we not arrange for UK taxpayers money to be spent here in British shipyards?

    1. fedupsoutherner
      February 1, 2019

      Great post Sakara

  22. Bob
    February 1, 2019

    BBC Question Time panel stacked with Remainers again last night I see.
    The BBC Radio 4 Toady program this morning pushing the idea of delaying Brexit.
    They also visited the scene of the Easter Uprising to stir up some anti Brexit feelings.
    Once the Brexit issue is settled, the next job will be to sort out the BBC.
    UKIP has already said it is in favour of abolishing TV Licencing.
    How about you Mr Redwood?

    1. Andy
      February 1, 2019

      Once the issue of Brexit is settled!!!

      Yeah – that won’t be in your lifetime.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      February 1, 2019

      Bob. Hear, hear. And that’s not the only sensible policy UKIP has.

  23. ukretired123
    February 1, 2019

    Belated congratulations Sir John on the knighthood, so richly deserved if I may be allowed to say so for such a true to life English gentleman standing up for the country particularly when lesser mortals would run for cover under a blanket of feeble excuses to avoid the inevitable flak.
    So too the lesser mortals MPs who put their personal requirements before the country when the mirage of freebies and entitlements such as holidays and expenses show up. As an accountant I am appalled that MPs over-generous expenses are still secret and the records are destroyed after 3 years compared with 6 years for everyone else plus MPs have a secret fast-track to HMRC for refunds unlike the common man or woman.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      February 1, 2019

      UKretired123.. Hadn’t you heard? Some MP’s think they’re special.

  24. Denis Cooper
    February 1, 2019

    Extraordinary times may call for extraordinary measures, such as a broadly drawn but time limited enabling Act empowering ministers to immediately make any necessary changes to the law just by order, but with subsequent retroactive confirmation by normal primary or secondary legislation.

    I am quite sure that if it was really necessary and Theresa May really wanted it to happen then the hordes of government lawyers could come up with special, and legitimate albeit generally undesirable, legal devices to tide us over.

    That is, if it was even necessary to go beyond provisions already available in statute law, including in Section 22 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004:

    “(3) Emergency regulations may make provision of any kind that could be made by Act of Parliament or by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative … ”

    So perhaps the very most that is really needed is one new Act, or maybe even only an order, to expressly confirm that any kind of disruption connected with our withdrawal from the EU at 11 pm on March 29th 2019 may be treated as an “emergency” for the purposes of that existing Act:

    “19 Meaning of “emergency”

    (1) In this Part “emergency” means —

    (a) an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in the United Kingdom or in a Part or region …”

    I suppose one could give Jeremy Hunt the benefit of the doubt and accept that his ministerial career so far may not have brought him into contact with that Act, but it beggars belief that the Home Secretary should be unaware of it.

    So it can only be concluded that these renewed attempts to delay our withdrawal from the EU is Theresa May once again manipulating events to try to cheat us out of the Brexit we voted for. We all know very what could happen if that fixed withdrawal date was missed, she would find one excuse after another to keep putting it off until in the end she could find some way to stop it altogether.

  25. Richard1
    February 1, 2019

    Pity. I’d recommend a weeks skiing in Switzerland for MPs, especially for those fearful of Brexit. What you see there is a prosperous and contended society – no shortages of food or medicines, despite being outside both the EU single market and the customs union. And no hard border – you might get checked for the car tax disc, but cross on a rural road and there’s no infrastructure at all. All very salutary.

    1. margaret howard
      February 2, 2019


      From the perspective of the EU, the treaties largely contain the same content as the EEA treaties, making Switzerland a virtual member of the EEA.

      Most EU law applies universally throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, providing most of the conditions of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that apply to full member states.

      Switzerland pays into the EU budget and extended the bilateral treaties to the new EU member states, just like full members did, although each extension requires the approval of Swiss voters in a referendum.

      In a referendum on 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed, by a 55% majority, to join the Schengen Area. This came into effect on 12 December 2008.

  26. Neil
    February 1, 2019

    I’m sure some MPs use their time wisely, but I fail to see the sense in maintaining a system of attendance in Parliament that reflects the time it took MPs to get around their constituencies on horseback. JR, are you concerned that the PM appears to be preparing to bribe some constituencies (Labour) to ensure she can get past the ERG with her dreadful WA? We must not forget that there is much wrong with the WA quite apart from the backstop.

    1. Bob
      February 1, 2019

      Is she offering bribes to Tory MPs as well?

  27. formula57
    February 1, 2019

    I remain astonished by your industry, not least in running this diary with so many comments.

    (I note you have prudently avoided writing about Brexit and cycling for then the number of comments to moderate could reach the thousands surely.)

  28. BCL
    February 1, 2019

    Given the difficulties we face and the amount to be done, I cannot believe many MP’s will decline to show up during the recess.
    The EU’s continuing mantra that the WA cannot be reopened and that the backstop is the only solution is now sitting in the same category as the project fear statements. No one believes it but everyone expects them to keep repeating it until the 11th hour. I don’t think there’s anything the EU can say which will change our view on that.

    1. Andy
      February 1, 2019

      The backstop is not the only solution. EU membership is a solution – one which turns out to have significantly fewer downsides than Brexit. A customs union is also a solution – but that too is worse than the status quo.

      Brexiteers are perfectly entitled to keep carrying on driving their car towards the cliff but it is time to stop pretending that there will not be consequences. Nobody believes the Brexiteers lies anymore.

      1. Edward2
        February 1, 2019

        You keep forgetting we voted to leave the EU.
        I realise you love the EU andy.
        But we voted to leave.

        1. margaret howard
          February 2, 2019


          “But we voted to leave.”

          17m did – 16m didn’t

  29. Lynn Atkinson
    February 1, 2019

    Many of us including your good self, have worked for decades for a smooth Brexit rather than one involving yellow vests and all the rest of the norms on the unhappy continent! What’s another 2 months? Roll on Brexit Day – is our generations VE Day.

  30. Chris
    February 1, 2019

    Whether it is misreporting in the Press, but if true, many of your colleagues do not come out of this very well with the impression being given that they believe they are entitled individuals who deserve special treatment with refunds ultimately paid by the taxpayer. Another nail in the coffin.

    1. Al
      February 1, 2019

      Given the widely reported quote:

      “‘It cannot be right that Hon Members have to support their children without the Government stepping in and providing proper provision for it.’”

      I believe entitlement is understating it. MPs expected to support their own children – like everyone else does. The horrors.

      (And if an MP genuinely can’t raise their children without government support, that is deeply concerning.)

  31. Pete Else
    February 1, 2019

    Excellent. Perhaps this will stop the Remainers screwing Brexit up.

  32. Malcolm White
    February 1, 2019

    Why is it that we would have to extend at all? Why can’t we continue to legislate for the outstanding items after we’ve left on 29th March? Or does it mean that certain areas would be in some form of legalistic limbo?

    Besides, if there’s no deal agreed by the 29th March and no prospect of one within the delay period, why would the EU agree to one? Even if there were time, at that late stage, for the Commission, EU27 and European Parliament to table those motions. They would claim that it was of the UK’s making. Not theirs.

  33. BOF
    February 1, 2019

    Soon after we hear warnings of the Government not being ready for Brexit and there being insufficient time to pass all the necessary legislation, we have reports of several Cabinet Ministers saying that we need a postponement.

    The fix is in.

  34. Paul
    February 1, 2019

    Good man John. I recently caught your interview you did with CNN a couple of weeks ago on the night of Theresa May’s humiliating defeat. Solid, passionate interview and we certainly need your voice in parliament.

  35. Alex
    February 1, 2019

    John Redwood is a fantasist. He won’t be getting a ‘smooth exit from the EU’ in March 29th.

    Thanks to the original Commons voting down the Deal, we WILL NOT now be leaving the EU on March 29th. In any case what use is an MP who abstains on vital votes?

    As I understand it, John Redwood abstained on the Brady Amendment and failed to object when the final Commons motion, (including the Spelman Amendment), resolving not to Leave the EU without a Deal, was passed.

    Reply There was no point in re running the Spelman vote which is what would have hapenned if we had voted on the amended motion, as the original motion did not say anything.

  36. Adam
    February 1, 2019

    JR’s quest for UK’s smooth exit performance has involved thoughtful planning, persuasive communications, steering influencers & promoting sustained careful preparation. Dedication, presence, capacity & tenacity to reach important results distinguish him in team all those who achieve most.

  37. Helen Smith
    February 1, 2019

    Thanks Sir John, am very concerned that May’s idea of changing her negotiating team is to bring in a second rabid Remainer and keep the pen pusher who thought the backstop was OK in the first place.

  38. Denis Cooper
    February 1, 2019

    Off-topic, the new trade agreement between the EU and Japan has come into force:

    “President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Europe and Japan are sending a message to the world about the future of open and fair trade. We are opening a new marketplace home to 635 million people and almost a third of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, bringing the people of Europe and Japan closer together than ever before … ”

    “Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, said: “This agreement has it all: it scraps tariffs and contributes to the global rulebook, whilst at the same time demonstrating to the world that we both remain convinced by the benefits of open trade. As of 1 February, European companies will benefit from removed tariffs and simplified customs procedures. Our manufacturers, our service providers, our tech start-ups and our farmers all have something to celebrate … ”

    But of course unless Liam Fox can get the Japanese to agree to continue with a similar deal just with the UK then we will not be celebrating with popping of champagne corks, we will be crying into our beer for having foolishly deprived ourselves of the benefits of this trade deal, which may boost EU exports to Japan by €13 billion a year:

    Which €13 billion a year addition to exports would correspond to less than 0.1% of the collective GDP of the EU member states:

    “EU GDP in 2017: €15.3 trillion”

    Plus that does not take into account the countervailing effect of increased imports from Japan potentially replacing EU products in the EU market.

    Reply Even better Japan and otherwant us to join TPP as soon as we are out of the EU

    1. Richard1
      February 1, 2019

      Has anyone done an analysis of the relative merits of these trade deals? Eg is the TPP more comprehensive than the Japan-EU agreement? I believe that all these other trade deals are not mutually exclusive. We could have the EU-Japan deal notated and be in TPP, though whether it adds anything I don’t know

      1. Denis Cooper
        February 2, 2019

        I suppose it is because world trade has already been liberalised and facilitated to such a great extent that we now seem to be into diminishing returns from new trade deals, with some exceptions. Just as the overall economic impact of the EU Single Market has been slight, and may well have been slightly negative for the UK if not for all EU member states, so too the overall economic impact of most other new trade deals around the world is now marginal. So where I disagree with some Remoaners is not in their claim that the UK would not gain a great deal from making new trade deals around the world – I have been saying that for years, back to when David Cameron was talking up the benefits of the proposed EU-USA trade deal as a good reason to stay in the EU – but in their exaggerated claims about what we have gained from the EU Single Market, and so what we would lose if we left the EU without any special trade deal.

  39. Andy
    February 1, 2019

    I notice that the almighty EU has now implemented its trade deal with Japan. This follows on from recent deals with Canada and South Korea. Talks are advanced with Australia and New Zealand. We know the EU has fantastic negotiators – as demonstrated by the way they have forced the Brexiteers to capitulate.

    What trade deals has the Fantastic Mr Fox done? Swaziland is it? What’s next? San Marino? Ivory Coast? Belize?

    Mr Fox said we’d have 40 trade deals in place by Brexit day. Mr Davis promised trade deals 10 times bigger than the EU. That’s nearly 3 times current total global trade. How are these promises going Mr Redwood?

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 1, 2019

      Just wait until JR has moderated my prior comment on that trade deal …

    2. Brit
      February 1, 2019

      So your plans to leave to some EU state are fulfilled days away?Of course! Good luck and no-one even the most devout Brexiteer would doubt your honesty and worthwhileness in protecting you and your family from starvation and loss in pocket as you so think. Good luck again. You’ll soon pick up the foreign lingo and their particular form-filling bent. And we will think, in some corner of a foreign field lies….

    3. libertarian
      February 1, 2019

      Mad Andy

      The negotiations with Australia have been ongoing for over 12 years now. The rest of the world completes FTAs in an average of 14 months

      If you had any awareness of the world Andy , you would know the answer to your own questions. We have no trade deals signed because your beloved EU forbids it until we leave . USA, India and many others are all ready to go for deals with us. Remind us does the EU have trade deals with the worlds 2 biggest economies USA and China… oh no they dont. Do they have deals with the worlds 5th and 6th largest economies, oh no they dont. They do have one with Algeria though so thats alright , bodes well as Algeria were the last country to leave the EU

  40. Turboterrier
    February 1, 2019

    Sir John.
    Never expected any other decision. Thank you for once again showing your true colours and mettle.

  41. Roy Grainger
    February 1, 2019

    Just in passing what has happened to the plan to change the constituency boundaries and reduce the number of MPs to 600 ? A good chance for both parties to reselect MPs more in tune with their members.

  42. Den
    February 1, 2019

    I propose that as a celebration of our leaving the EU Parliament should go into recess from February 9th until March 28th.
    That will solve all of the current “depart permanently” problems.

  43. Brit
    February 1, 2019

    It was a pity to see Ken Livingstone humiliated by the like of BBC “This Week” which is no-ones week thank heaven.
    Of course the Venezuela question is the sad repeated vile expansion of Socialism in Latin America preying upon genuinely poor people who had most certainly utterly corrupt prior regimes.
    Obama did in fact impose severe and crippling sanctions though deceitfully by another name. It stopped importing oil in relatively vast quantities from the Regime, rather than the country, with no overall benefit to itself. Gross economic warfare!
    Merely advanced the inevitable collapse of its dumb wasteful economic model and perhaps dissuade other “Socialist” warlords in other countries seeking imprisoning a politically inexperienced electorate of the poor in grasping at straws.
    The BBC through decades is not satisfied with just reporting facts but goes OTT and in so doing merely arms young minds who see the Lie. The BBC has always been the best and most competent recruiter for Socialism. Just ONE lie by its silly company turns a young mind to thinking that one lie proves it is the capitalist version of Pravda. And so it is. A threat to the well-being of we British.

  44. Sir Joe Soap
    February 1, 2019

    Why bother when we’re going nowhere?

    Let’s turn this 180 degrees. As James Crisp writes in the Telegraph, the best hope now is for us to wreck this project from the inside by electing Corbyn or a new Brexit party as a wrecking ball. Take all we can and pay as little as we can, if anything. Get these people out of their limousines and cushy tax-free pensions.

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 2, 2019

      There is a reason why we’ve never succeeding in wrecking it before, and that reason would still operate, and probably be amplified, if we decided to stay in. I don’t know whether this James Crisp is a Tory, but it is the kind of rubbish we’ve been hearing from the top levels of the Tory party for decades.

  45. rose
    February 1, 2019

    This seems to me to be part of the strategy: tell the country MPs are working flat out; then tell them there still isn’t time to pass the legislation; then defer Brexit.

  46. Brit
    February 1, 2019

    Of course the EU wishes to control the Gateway to the Med via Gibraltar. Their U-Boots and ships carrying soldiers of mercy were sunk from our base there with their idea of a lovely heavenly place like valhalla called Spain-neutral-idiots on the far bank

  47. Iain Gill
    February 1, 2019

    Why so many people sleeping rough in the snow?

    Really this should be a cross party issue.

    Current policy and implementation cannot be working.

    Get the church halls or whatever open for these people.

    Please talk to the relevant ministers.

  48. Lindsay McDougall
    February 2, 2019

    It depends what you mean by a smooth exit. There are many MPs who believe that the draft Withdrawal Agreement will become acceptable if the Irish backstop is replaced. Not so. We would still pay £39 billion for nothing, accept a common rule book, and effectively not leave until the end of 2021. Therefore, the modified deal would remain unacceptable.

    Mrs May has no shame. She is prepared to ‘bribe’ Labour MPs with Socialist measures to get her modified deal through. Surely Brexiteers should be discussing with Labour MPs what their wish list would be for backing No Deal, which would involve them defying their party whips.

    To get No Deal, we may yet need a Brexiteers’ Manifesto, one supportable by Eurosceptics of all hues – Conservative, Labour, DUP, UKIP and Nigel Farage. It would still be a broad church, just a different one.

  49. Lindsay McDougall
    February 2, 2019

    I’ve had another look at MPs’ voting on the Cooper amendment, the one that could have done damage were it to be passed:

    17 Conservatives voted for and 5 abstained

    14 Labour MPs voted against and 14 abstained

  50. Lin Biaout
    February 2, 2019

    The Right Honourable John McDonnell,Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
    has been on telly this morning. He says the present Socialist leader of Venezuela “has…made some mistakes but has helped people”, to cut a long story short, so avoiding internal injury by raucous laughter.
    He’s a walking-talking parody of himself.
    Who is it who reminds him of his name when he awakes on a morning? They should be flogged.

  51. Simon
    February 2, 2019

    You troughers do not deserve any break until you sort the future of the UK out. You are all vastly overpaid for any tangible benefit you bring and then absolutely cane your expenses as well. Funny that “small government” “less tax” right wing tories never mention the vast monies they award them selves. There are people in this country who would cheer if the whole HoC went to the guillotine.

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