Another round of Project fear

It is strange to read stories coming from people in or close to the government telling us leaving without a deal will be bad, saying the government has  not done all it needs to do to leave on March 29, and playing up any bad economic or business news that comes along. Normally governments are guilty of putting too optimistic a spin on events. Not this one, who often seem to prefer the EU spin line against us.

Most of it is Project Fear re heated. It was that very Project Fear  replete with precise and wildly wrong forecasts for jobs, house prices, growth and business for 2016-17 that did much to lose the vote for Remain. Most of us want sensible optimism not remorseless and inaccurate pessimism.

The Prime  Minister and government has had 2 years 7 months to get everything ready to leave on March 29. They have  told us officially they can do that, though there are plenty of leaks, hints, statements of individual off message Ministerial opinion saying the opposite. The PM has always  been consistent in saying we will leave on 29 March with or without a deal. She has always said you cannot take no deal off the table as it is important to the negotiation, and has always said we can just leave  if necessary. She of course would much prefer a deal, but has difficulty persuading MPs her  Withdrawal Agreement is acceptable. It is of an expensive invitation to another 21 months of talks about a future relationship. This prolongs the uncertainty for business and delays an economic boost from spending our former EU contributions on our priorities.

It is clear the planes will fly, the trucks will pass through Calais and Dover  in good time and there will be no food or drug shortages. I am not going to stockpile anything.  It looks as if the  pressure for a second referendum has abated, which anyway cannot be held before 29 March now. The Remain forces in Parliament  now want delay. They have failed to say what we could agree after March that we have been unable to agree in the 2 years 9 months since the vote, and failed to spell out why the EU  would let  us have a delay to renegotiate and on what terms. The UK has no plans to offer candidates for the European parliament so will not be part of the full governance arrangements of the EU from that date. We need to get on with leaving.  I am still pressing the UK government to offer a free trade agreement and use of Article 24 of the GATT to avoid tariffs and other new barriers when we leave in March


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  1. Peter Wood
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    Sir John, the GATT Plan sounds like the best alternative to me also, very little is needed to put it into place and thereafter we will see what really needs to be done on a case by case basis. EU mandarins say they are well prepared for ‘no deal’, and Mrs. May says we are making all necessary provisions; so all’s well for a ‘no deal’ departure then…
    It has occurred to me that the May premiership and Trump presidency are surprisingly similar; both have had unusually high turnover of cabinet, both have flagship plans reversed, both are incompetent and lie too much, both lose experienced and competent minister for doing their jobs correctly because the boss thinks she/he knows better.
    How is it we are so ill served by the democratic system?

    • Mick Anderson
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      I disagree.

      There seem to be many ordinary Americans who support Mr Trump, in spite of the constant negative publicity. I have yet to speak to an ordinary Brit who thinks that Mrs May and her governance is worth the time of day. If all you read is the professional press then you’re listening in an echo chamber.

      Mr Trump could be elected because the US presidential system allows a non-career-politician (albeit a fabulously wealthy, very famous person) to be elected where the UK party system locks out anyone not in “the club”

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        The similarities between Trump and May are there; Mr Trump sometimes exaggerates, confuses his adversaries or makes false claims as a bargaining position. Deep down he knows the truth. May does it because she wears her watch upside down, and passes her own confusion and obfuscation on to her adversaries. She wouldn’t recognise the truth on most things if it hit her four-square.

        • Ian wragg
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          May is an inveterate liar so Charles Moore is absolutely correct in todays Telegraph. May wants to stay in the Customs Union which is primarily staying in the EU.
          The WA contains most of Chequers paper and together with the backstop would keep us under the EU umbrella permanently.
          She promised Nissan that and is determined to fulfil her promise to biv business.
          She is duplicitous I the extreme.

          • Hope
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

            May has no intention of listening to leavers if she can secure her servitude by any other means. I think, once again, the leave MPs are being very naive if not stupid to go along with anything she says. How many times do they have to be duped, lied to or discarded to realise?

            Who in their right mind would agree to this servitude plan in the first place! Then have the audacity to put it before parliament while scaring everyone it is no deal or no Brexit! Not once, but twice without any substantive change! Still scaring people all the time.

            May was going to go back to get the legal assurances in December, she got nothing of the sort, she knew it and produced an empty letters.

            Do you think this was a mistake or another deliberate ploy to run down the clock in the hope MPs will vote for her plan rather than no deal?

            May is underhand and bonehead, she is going for it again. This time she will claim there was no single way forward from her parliamentary consultation and her plan was the only plan blah blah blah. As before on the two previous occasions.

            If May was honest and true to her word she have accepted her defeat and declared the UK must leave on WTO terms as parliament voted hermagreement was bad and she failed to get a trade deal. Themdeal she promised under the nothing agreed until everything agreed strap line. But as we now know this was said to get gullible Tory MPs to agree to the two first states under the lie the prize is the deal! She never got one! Wake up.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:12 pm | Permalink


            Charles Moore is, as usual, sound and spot on. This despite his suffering from religion, being a friend of Oliver Letwin and having been a “Liberal” long after he should have known better.

          • rose
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            She was wasting her time with Nissan as the EU have beaten her to it in doing the dirty on us. Does anyone think the Japanese would suddenly have been given a favourable trade deal for nothing, which means they can sell their cars into the EU direct, if it weren’t an inducement to leave the UK? The EU is going to wage war on us one way or another until they collapse.

          • rose
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            “These are the elements of the Customs Union that prevent us from striking our own comprehensive trade agreements with other countries. But I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU. Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it. It is not the means that matter, but the ends.”

            This is what she said, even at Lancaster House.

        • Hope
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          JR, it is stretching the bounds of imagination to beleive anything May says. Has she sacked the minister encouraging Airbus to scare us? Hammond still allowed to speed his fear, Clarke the same declaring he will do anything to stop no deal Brexit when it is govt policy and the law! Rudd supporting him saying no well Said!

          Raab is right to point out putting Liddington in charge of political Brexit negotiations is not going to instil any confidence whatsoever. I would go further and say there is no point whatsoever sending anyone if that is her choice!

          Would she put a wolf in charge of looking after her sheep! May’s underhand tactics knows no bounds. Totally untrustworthy.

          We read Liddington was the one who May sent to Ireland the day after Raab took a firm stance over the backstop to undermine the position Raab had taken.

          • Sir Joe Soap
            Posted February 3, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Yes it’s a puzzle how Liddington gets anyone to vote for him. I guess he saves his constituents money otherwise spent on sleeping tablets, so they elect him on that basis alone.
            He just seems the sycophant’s sycophant. No ideas, no communications skills.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          Mr Trump is a clever man. He knows how to negotiate, it seems, and if that entails confusing the opposition, then so be it. Who else could have defused that Korean situation? To begin with, some of us thought that Mrs May acting likewise – that she was playing the long game and would pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute. The last minute is nearly upon us – but no rabbit.

          I’d rather believe that Mrs May is out of her depth and simply inept and ineffective, than that she’s been duplicitous and on the side of the EU. She surely couldn’t have been ‘turning the other cheek’ when she saw they were not acting with goodwill, could she?

          If she has been letting us down with calculated deliberation then that’s a lot of shame she’ll have to carry around after all is over and done with.

        • Stephen Priest
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          If Mrs May were the England football manager she’d select a team of hungover local Sunday League pub blubberbellies.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Well said Mick

        If only May cared as much about our country as Trump does about his, then we wouldn’t be in this mess now…

      • BOF
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        The liberal elite are vehemently against Trump but middle America supports him. Here the liberal elite vehemently oppose leaving the EU and the nearest they can now come to that is Mrs May’s deal. Leavers by and large are opposed.

        GATT Article 24 seems the most sensible solution and implementation should be easy. I expect the Government and Remain to oppose it with every fibre of their being.

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink


          You are too late, those expectations of the Government etc to oppose will be in vain because the EU is not interested in further talks. No deal brexit is almost certain to happen. Enjoy.

          • John Hatfield
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            Rien, it is not only May that cannot be trusted. The EU so badly needs the UK’s £1o billion plus per annum that they are sure to let May keep some form of EU membership which is clearly her intention.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        The issue du jour for Mr. Trump, is the suspension by the USA of the INF treaty with Russia, AND YET, despite Mr. Trump’s addiction to press coverage of himself, he leaves the announcement to the Sec. of State….. I wonder why..?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I too have yet to speak to an ordinary Brit who thinks that Mrs May and her governance is worth the time of day. She is very clearly a socialist, remainer Libdim but is hated by both socialists,Libdims and remainers. Also despised by the real conservatives and leave/UKIP supporters who want lower taxes, far smaller government, real democracy and real Brexit. She is clearly totally incompetent in every way. Just who is she tying to please?

        • John Hatfield
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          She is trying to please her husband in the first place and then Philip the Snake Hammond who is umbilically connected to big-business.

    • Merlin
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Hasty words Mr Redwood.

      Every time someone says ‘Project Fear’ to me, I gently remind them we haven’t left the E.U and I will remind them of their words when we do…

      Though I sincerely hope you are right and that I, the IMF, the World Bank, the vast majority of economists and indeed most of Parliament are worrying over nothing.

      • John Hatfield
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        I doubt that you are worrying Merlin.

    • Lorna
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I agree this is the best way forward ! But why does the PM not adopt this plan
      Could the comments about staying in the Customs Union her ultimate goal ?
      The appointment of Liddington as a negotiator certainly looks highly suspicious

    • Chris
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Peter Wood, you really cannot be allowed to get away with such nonsense about President Trump. Please read the following, and CNBC is not a “friendly” source. This is just a sample of what P Trump has achieved and how competent he is. There is utterly no comparison with our PM.

      MAGAnomics – January Jobs Report, Massive Wage Growth, Manufacturing Report and Overall Economic Numbers Stun Financial Media…
      Posted on February 1, 2019 by sundance (Conservative Tree House website)

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the report on the January job growth and the financial media sat jaw agape as the economy gained a whopping 304,000 jobs despite the government shutdown. The doomsayer pundits are choking on a triple-scoop of winnamins.

      Adding to the financial media apoplexy the wage growth in blue-collar workers far exceeded expectations, and the ISM data on manufacturing blew all consensus predictions out of the water… leading to the following ‘scorching’ headline from CNBC:

      “Those recession fears now seem way overblown after “scorching” jobs and manufacturing data….”.(continues in my next comment below):

      • Chris
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Continuation of my comment above, quoting CNBC, a not “friendly” to P Trump source:
        “Those recession fears now seem way overblown after “scorching” jobs and manufacturing data….

        (Via CNBC) January’s super strong jobs report and a solid manufacturing survey on Friday showed that recession worries may be overblown and slowdown fears are not impacting corporate hiring or dampening manufacturers’ sentiment.
        The economy added a surprising 304,000 new jobs in January, well above the 165,000 expected by economists. Wages grew by an annual 3.2 percent, and were even higher for nonmanagerial workers with a 0.4 percent monthly gain.
        “The labor market is still scorching,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies. “If you look at the payroll data, the economy continues to pound out job growth. Wage growth is for real.”
        ISM manufacturing was 56.6, well above the consensus of 54.2, but the important new orders component rose even more to 58.2 from 51 in December. A number above 50 reflects expansion, and while off recent highs, economists had expected the number to slow down even more. Consumer sentiment was also reported Friday and was significantly lower at 91.2, but it too beat expectations. (read more)….”

        These are only a fraction of P Trump’s achievements. PW, you need to open your eyes, I think and see the economic miracle that P Trump has wrought which is staring you in the face.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:43 am | Permalink

        If there is anything incorrect in what I have written then please advise. You have argued that the American economy appears well and strong, as does the UK’s, is Mrs May responsible for the wellness of the UK’s economy as well? Recently incumbent politicians have little to do with present economic conditions. I might also point out that the US budget deficit is running at about 4% of GDP and worsening, Federal Debt is comfortably over 100% of GDP. Such numbers would have the EU finance mandarins jumping up and down!

        WELL PLAYED ENGLAND! 20-32, Playing like champions.

    • Richard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      David Campbell Bannerman’s comprehensive summary of Article 24 and similar ways to avoid tariffs and other new barriers is worth reading.

      It includes: “Article 24 not only authorises member states to operate lower/zero tariff free trade agreements, it also permits them to offer lower/zero tariffs pre-emptively during the course of negotiations. The relevant provision, Article 24 para 5, is worth quoting at length…”
      Article 24 para 5 could therefore prove very useful for RoW FTAs.

    • Richard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      In March 2017 a government official said: “we do have special dispensation under WTO rules to continue our current trading relationship with the EU, which is zero tariffs, until such time as that free trade agreement is finished”
      The big push for an “implementation period” came after the 2017 election. In the “Transition Period” the hugely powerful anti-democratic “Joint Committee” and ECJ rulings could do great damage to the UK economy eg

    • Richard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Meanwhile, good news to see another sensible No Deal side agreement put in place:
      “Under European fund rules, known as Ucits, delegation to non-EU managers cannot take place unless a co-operation agreement exists between the EU regulator and the regulator of the manager.”

      And analysis by Reuters fails to find evidence of banking jobs being transferred from London.

  2. oldtimer
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    I regret to have to say that the UK political class presents a sorry spectacle. The attempts to delay or prevent Brexit have not ended. They continue to be aided by the Speaker. Mrs May’s performance fails to convince; she is
    clinging to office for dear life, hoping that something, anything, will turn up to save her skin. I am not surprised Mr Farage is making rapid progress in setting up a new party. One thing is abundantly clear. Any delay or any deal that is seen to sacrifice the UK’s interests will put rocket boosters behind his new party. The battle to be rid of the EU will intensify. He at least will help channel the anger many feel about the sorry spectacle into a political process. If he puts up a candidate to oppose my MP, Mr Grieve, he will get my support.

    • eeyore
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Not just “strange” but deeply sinister that our leaders should be spinning against us. Post-Brexit they will still be in charge. They will have every opportunity, as well as every reason, to make sure their dire forecasts come true.

      Then at the next election these saboteurs in high places will claim they are the only people who can put things right, and the way to do it is crawl back into the EU.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Yes. The next concern will be, even with a successful “leave”, that these people continue to fight the battle as wreckers.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          You’re right, Sir Joe. They’re not simply going to admit defeat and fade away. They’re the ones who will try to make Project Fear a reality in all ways they can, I have no doubt whatsoever, to make our country suffer for their own agenda, personal or political.
          Then they really will show themselves to be traitors.

          • Adam
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            Those who repeatedly evoke Project Fear & envision turning it into reality may be healed by the Govt’s increased spending on psychiatric help. Alternatively, they could seek assistance from an exorcist. Many Brexiteers may gladly crowdfund provision of straitjackets & dummies to take back control from such saboteurs.

        • jerry
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          @SJS; Oh you mean just like those who carried on the battle to leave, even though the UK had in 1975 voted to stay in the EEC, and much derided they were too back in 1979 & 1983 – nor were they all of the hard left either. They were also called “wreckers” too, by those who though our economic future was the EU, some of whom are now stunt eurosceptics.

          • John Hatfield
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            Heath said: “There are some in this country who fear that, in going into Europe, we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.”
            Those that voted in 1975 to stay in the EEC were deceived.
            But you know this. Why do I bother?

          • jerry
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, I miss-spoke, a better choice of words would have been; …whom are now ardent eurosceptics.

            I wasn’t implying any showmanship!

          • jerry
            Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

            John Hatfield; “Those that voted in 1975 to stay in the EEC were deceived.”

            Heath had made no secrete that the Treaty of Rome was a road towards political and monitory Union, he did so on national TV, for example, in a BBC Panorama broadcast in 1972 whilst others opposed to joining the EEC also made the true nature of the EEC clear in 1971 during a networked ITV Thames TV political programme of the day dealing with the pros and cons of joining the EEC. Both programmes are now a matter of historical record, and freely available to watch on the internet if you bother researching the era.

            Now to 1975, whilst campaigners for a “Yes” vote -such as Margaret Thatcher- might have remained quite about the true nature of the EEC others, including Powell, Benn, Shore, Foot & Castle, did not.

            If people were ever deceived it was self-deception, due to selective hearing/reading…

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Oldtimer. I tend to agree with your comments about Farage. If he can get a good party together and avoid any infighting, tell it as it really is ( something he excels at) then his party will enjoy success. Some Conservatives would do well to join him. The Conservative party has lost its way and needs new direction. As for all the current scaremongering I really don’t know what is being reported lately as I am totally fed up with listening to the garbage being reported. To hear some people talking you would think it was the end of the world. How the hell did this country ever survive through two world wars? Snowflake doesn’t come close.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        May and the remainers, if they continue under broken compass May, will surely destroy the Tories, spit the vote with UKIP and any Fararge new party and give us Venezuela Corbyn.

        From here we should just leave and negotiate as needed after having left. There is no cliff edge. Businesses will adjust and be just fine. Just cut taxes, cut red tape, cut greencrap, cut government and get the government out of the way.

        • John Hatfield
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Ll. Confrontational Farage needs to make his peace with Gerard Batten, otherwise the Brexit vote will be split and nobody wins.
          Farage’s rejection of UKIP on the grounds that Tommy Robinson has been included as an adviser is completely spurious. I can’t help feeling that personal animosity is involved.
          I am a very disappointed UKIP member.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 3, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            Unless the Tories become a real Tory pro Brexit lower taxes party the leave vote will be spit three ways. Tory, UKIP and Farage new party. The real Tories need to take over the Tory party and unite behind a sensible agenda.

      • MPC
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        But if MPs sign up to a slightly modified version of the Withdrawal Agreement that will be the end of Britain so a new Party led by Mr Farage will be pointless.

        • John Hatfield
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          Until the next election.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        @ L. Jones.

        “Traitors” A bit melodramatic I would say. Should they be court marshaled? Shot maybe?

        But I can assure you those people do not have to do anything of the sort. It will happen all by itself, just watch.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        The Tory Party is no longer Conservative. Liberal left with the odd token. Brexit has shown the legacies and Civil Serpent in their true incompetent dishonest light. May never contradicts Project Fear and we know she is behind it. Her dishonesty is beneath contempt.

      • KatC
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Soon we will have exited and very probably with no deal- a complete severance of all connections so then please tell..what need will there be of Farage Hannan or any of the others or indeed of the ERG?

        • John Hatfield
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          KatC, they will form the next government.

    • Stred
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      The Remain plan id to delay until a second referendum is possible. This was facilitated by the European Court suddenly acting quickly. They always bend the rules when money is concerned.

      However, a new Conservative Party for a real Brexit will be available for MPs, who do not agree with the May/Robbins capitulation, will be ready soon. They could then switch parties and the Remainer part of the party, ruined by May and Cameron, will be finished.

      • KatC
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Same old nonsense..they need us more than we need them..wrong..all wrong..they won’t be satisfied until we are out..completely out..we are at the door now..just to close it behind us

        • JOHN FINN
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink


          So they won’t grant an extension to Article 50 i the UK requests one?
          If you can assure me that they’re not interested in the £39 billion either I shall enjoy the rest of this weekend so much more.

    • Richard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Mr Grieve represents the majority of his constituents who voted to remain. It’s a shame mine does not.

      • Adam
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:36 pm | Permalink


        Unless 50% or more of constituents vote for an MP, the majority in the constituency do not vote in that person’s favour. Mr Grieve may vote for what he assumes the majority of his citizens want locally, but opposing what the majority of UK citizens decided for our country supports only the will of the minority.

        Critics may say Dominic masquerades as a saviour of local people’s interests, yet acts as a Grievous obstruction to national democracy.

  3. Peter
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    “The PM has always been consistent in saying we will leave on 29 March with or without a deal. She has always said you cannot take no deal off the table as it is important to the negotiation, and has always said we can just leave if necessary. ”

    We know from experience that May often says one thing but does another. She said David Davis was running Brexit negotiations and then came up with her own plan at the very last minute.

    We know May is secretive and a schemer though her plans often backfire.

    I think she has one last trick up her sleeve to betray a clean Brexit and deliver her Brexit in Name Only/ Remain version. I just don’t know what the trick will be yet.

    The one big hope is the EU. They have remained consistent. They would rather preserve the unity of the EU and take the financial consequence if necessary. We could yet stumble into Brexit by accident contrary to the government plan.

    • Alan Joyce
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Redwood,


      The last remaining trick she has up her sleeve is a Customs Union in one disguise or another.

    • Nigl
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I agree. The big trick is to ensure we end up with no deal and little planning. The resultant hoped for chaos will result in a massive change of public opinion quickly followed by parliament over turning the legislation ‘to save the country’

      Why do you think they are dragging their feet on publishing tarriffs etc?

      • John Hatfield
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        “Why do you think they are dragging their feet on publishing tariffs etc?”
        Because the government is intent upon keeping us in the EU.

    • Lorna
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Well,whatever the Plan Hammond seems to be in on it ! He is speaking out about delaying Brexit this morning ! Why?

      • John Hatfield
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Why? Because Hammond works for big-business.

  4. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    What is the point of further delay.

    The Eu have said many times, they are not prepared to discuss trade or anything positive with regard to a new relationship until we actually leave.

    Thus the sooner we leave, the quicker we can discuss these things.

    Our legal back stop of WTO terms has already been voted on by Parliament and been fixed for 2 years.

    Please will somebody, any one in Government, get a grip.

  5. Mark B
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The PM has always been consistent in saying we will leave on 29 March with or without a deal.

    The PM also said:

    “No deal is better than a bad deal.” “BREXIT means BREXIT.” “The ‘deal’ cannot be renegotiated.” “There will be no General Election (2017).” “We will hold the ‘Meaningful Vote (December 2018) on the Withdrawal Agreement.” And so on.

    Not a particularly good track record. Although sending Michael Gove MP out to tell the MSM that their will be a vote on the WA (2018) after the PM already told the Leaders (sic) of the rEU27 that there would not be one was funny 🙂

    I, and a growing number of people, are convinced we will either not Leave or, a last minute ‘deal’ between Merkel, Macron and May will be done. Its how the EU likes to do things. A right bunch of Drama Queens.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Brexit is an enormous event. There is a downside.
    Dr North’s blog points out that business is contracting because of the uncertainty.
    He will not look at this blog and you will not look at his – for heaven’s sake both of you – grow up! The truth, at this critical moment, is more important than any of us.

    Having said all that, we are faced with the Withdrawal Agreement which places us neatly in the hands of Martin Selmayr, Sabine Weyand, M. Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt. That is just giving our country to people who neither understand us nor want to help us.

    Or rejoining a United States of Europe which will be run by the same people with France and Germany dominating the proceedings through the Eurozone.

    There are downsides to all the above: let’s not pretend differently.The only real answer, of course, if to leave the EU as planned, but to remain (through Efta) in the EEA. It is the least worst option.
    But that was junked at Lancaster House way back.

    • Jagman84
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      If you stopped worshipping at the altar of Dr North, you would find a bit more clarity on Brexit. I viewed his blog a while back and most of it is abject nonsense, easily refutable. I see that you are (yet again) back to your EEA fixation . The EEA is dominated by the EU so is, effectively, not leaving the EU in it’s entirety. It’s a web for the ‘EU spider’ to trap more victims to feed on.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        @ Jagman84

        I would be perfectly happy about the UK leaving without a deal and ASAP. Not that I would not like a country of the UK’s capabilities and traditions to be part of the EU, but the UK itself has difficulty in accepting the realities of the modern world and that is problematic.

        Everything you read these days coming from Europe would tell you that the Europeans are absolutely finished with the UK and that there may be some turbulence, they would rather see the UK disappear entirely. The idea that the EU wants to “keep” the UK is absurd, Express/Faragista nonsense.

      • roger
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        I heartily agree. I viewed his blog awhile ago and was amazed by his parallel fear campaign which sadly has been enthusiastically pushed ad nauseam by the otherwise eminently rational and sensible Christopher Booker in the DT.

    • Oxiana321
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      EEA route most definitely not the answer, as we remain in the sphere of EU influence. Leaving was always first and foremost about giving sovereignty back to our Parliament without the constant risk of new legislation being challenged by a foreign, unaccountable court.
      By the way, I find North’s blog hugely frustrating and depressing – it is shot through with spade-loads of cynicism with hardly a shred of optimism. If we are to make a success of leaving, then we also need the confidence to do it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I give his blog at least a glance every day … unfortunately after years of saying that we should leave the EU he and his collaborator Christopher Booker are so upset that we are not following their plan for leaving that they have moved to the dark side.

    • Steve
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Mike Stallard

      “Dr North’s blog points out that business is contracting because of the uncertainty.”

      Business, particularly big corporate world business are the ones causing the uncertainty in the first place with their constant whingeing moaning and attempts to sabotage brexit.

      Why ?….because they don’t want to get off their backsides and do some work to adapt. They’re also terrified of losing the corrupt perk of lobbying the EU to make laws on their behalf.

      My heart bleeds.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      . . . business is contracting because of the uncertainty.

      But not BREXIT. It is the government and parliament that is causing all this. As I have always said; “You can always tell where the State (read politicians) has been by the trail of destruction left behind them.”

  7. Alison Houston
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Dear John,
    Jacob Rees Mogg has gone soft in the head. A minister is saying the government tricked the ERG to get them on side for the vote, but nothing has changed and the government have no intention of taking any notice of ‘plan C’. Jacob thinks we need to leave any old how rather than not at all, and thinks keeping the party together takes precedence over keeping the party in power, given that nobody will trust the Conservatives again if they don’t deliver a full, clean Brexit.

    May has done nothing about tariff schedules etc, Charles Moore thinks she is going to keep us in a C.U. and this is why she allows ministers to fan Project Fear claims at every opportunity.

    Have a word with the rest of the ERG. Tell them not to give ground, to announce they will not back the Malthouse Compromise again, since Mayhas not kept her side of the bargain. No more voting for the government’s treachery.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      JRM has a greater loyalty to his party and his class rather than his country. £39 billion is a hell of a price to pay to stop the Conservative party imploding.

    • Andy
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      The ERG numbers a handful of dozen MPs. Add in the 10 DUP dinosaurs and you still have a Parliamentary irrelevance. They can not win and they will not win. May will do a deal with Labour before she does a deal with Mogg. And the EEG can not get rid of her.

      There is zero chance of uniting the country by selling out to the ERG. There is a small chance of achieving it if she reaches out to Labour.

    • L Jones
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Absolutely spot on, Alison. If the PM really had the well being and cohesion of this country at heart, she would make sure that every silly Project Fear assertion made was refuted publicly, and easily-scared remainders’ fears allayed. There’s a full-time job for one civil serpent, at least!
      But that’s just what she doesn’t seem to want. She can’t be so out of touch that she isn’t aware of the anger out here, and how closely she is being watched.

      • Stephen Priest
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Leave on 29th March 2019 is very easy to understand.

        The “Malthouse Compromise” sounds very complicated and convoluted.

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

        Seven “press rebuttals” here, between November 23rd and December 6th:

        But they were rapid rebuttals of criticisms of Theresa May’s ‘deal’, before and after there have been virtually no rebuttals of any of the anti-Brexit nonsense, much of which has doubtless been initiated in Downing Street.

      • Robert Valence
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Your comment said “civil serpent” rather than civil servant.!!!
        On consideration though, it may be quite valid.
        Q: where does that place our Prime Minister, the one who lies consistently through her teeth and earnestly claims that black is white?
        Final Comment: Well done Sir John and those who post comments here – it’s a pleasure to read even though we would wish for a more straightforward process to leave the EU on 29.3.19

    • Man of Kent
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Quite agree .

      JRM seemed to be such an upright figure ,but has now morphed into another MP out to keep the parliamentary rump of the conservative party intact .

      And to hell with the 17.4 million.

      And many conservative activists .

      What an awful sell out this is turning out to be .

    • Chris
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Yes, I believe that Rees-Mogg has badly misjudged the situation and has been duped. An earlier misjudgement resulted in a failed challenge by the ERG which made him look weak and inexperienced. He is a courteous gentleman but inexperienced, and he simply is not prepared to believe the worst of an opponent, when the situation warrants it. This sort of approach does not win the main battles in politics. He needs to “savvy up” and pdq. His current approach has actually split the Brexiteers, which is what May wanted.

      • DaveK
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink


        JRM may be inexperienced and possibly too nice/honourable/Christian to believe the worst of others. My take may be slightly different. I remember him saying that a vote of no confidence would be taken if Mrs May lost the crucial vote on her agreement deal, which may have carried following the country wide embarrassment. Conveniently though Sir Graham received the required number of letters before the vote and as a lot of MPs stated at the time, there was nothing definitive to point to for her removal. Coincidence? I wonder how many of those letters were from unexpected sources.

    • DaveK
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Sir John,

      This post may be a little long, but it does address some questions referring to tariffs and the above mentioned inactivity of government:
      Otherwise your readers could be directed to Hansard – Trade Bill, 30 January 2019
      Volume 795 – Baroness Fairhead contribution

      “We have tariff-rate quotas both in the existing EU FTAs that we are working to roll over and in our WTO schedules.
      WTO TRQs. I will first address TRQs in EU free trade agreements. The UK is therefore engaging directly with our trading partners to agree new TRQs to apply under the continuity agreements, and we are making good progress. We are agreeing TRQs for the same products at levels that protect existing trade flows..
      However, we would not expect there to be substantial business impacts from changes to TRQs, as we are maintaining TRQs for the same products sized at a level which protects existing trade flows.

      I turn now to the TRQs found in our WTO schedules.

      To prepare to leave the EU, the United Kingdom has had to establish its own schedules of goods and services at the WTO. In doing so, we have taken the approach that we should maintain our current obligations as far as possible.
      While much of our goods schedule is directly replicable—for example, our bound tariff rates—some parts, such as tariff-rate quotas, are not.

      Quotas are not directly replicable because they are a quantity coming into the EU 28, as your Lordships will know, and if they were exactly replicated this would lead to an expansion of market access into both the EU and the UK. This is why the Government agreed a co-operative approach with the EU to apportion WTO tariff-rate quotas, based on historic trade flows. This was agreed in October 2017 and communicated publicly through a joint letter by the UK and EU ambassadors to the WTO.

      The UK schedule was finalised in July 2018. We sent it to the WTO on 19 July.
      Our schedule then began its formal three-month certification period on 24 July. That period was completed on 24 October. While most WTO members agreed with our approach, as I and the Secretary of State for International Trade once again explained through Written Ministerial Statements laid on 25 October, some WTO members have argued that their market access has been reduced by our approach to TRQs. This is why we announced the Government’s intention to enter GATT Article XXVIII negotiations on TRQs at the WTO to establish whether the apportionment we have proposed is a fair representation of the UK’s current rights and obligations.
      Between October and 21 December, when the Government formally launched the Article XXVIII process, work was completed to prepare the necessary trade data and the notification for our Article XXVIII process to begin. We are now in the first phase of this, a 90-day notification period that lasts until 21 March 2019, during which WTO members can examine our TRQ trade data and register an interest in negotiating with us. After this, the UK will examine those claims and determine with whom and on which commodities we will be negotiating under Article XXVIII.
      I should also mention briefly the EU’s corresponding transition at the WTO. The EU has launched its own Article XXVIII process, as it, of course, apportioned the EU 28 TRQs with the United Kingdom. It formally started this on 22 July 2018. The reason it was able to do so before the UK is because it did not have to establish a new schedule of its own. Our process and that of the EU are legally distinct and are being pursued separately. However, they are linked in that they derive from the same initial obligation, and WTO partners will need to be convinced that their access to the EU 27 and UK markets will be no less favourable once both processes are complete. So our processes are separate but complementary”.

  8. ColinD.
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    You need to hammer home the message that we can save £39 billion (or more). This vast sum of money could be used to help mitigate some of the short term problems. For example, Channel 4 news was going on about the risks of getting isotopes from Europe to our hospitals in time. It did not seem to occur to anyone that a light plane could be chartered. This is where the Government should instantly offer to pay. A lot of these ‘project fear’ concerns could be quickly defused if people in government showed a bit of initiative.

    • sm
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      There are isotope suppliers in Singapore, Israel and Japan. I have read elsewhere that pharmaceuticals are often freighted in by plane rather than ship.

    • Andy
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      A light plane could be chartered. It still does not solve the bureaucratic problems your Brexit creates with transporting nuclear material. I have no doubt that some canacer patients will die as a result of your Brexit. That is what you all voted for.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        I wonder how cancer patients are treated in the c. 160 countries which aren’t in the EU?

        Meanwhile it would be good if the EU or its apologists -perhaps you could oblige? – would recognise and apologise for the terrible evil of promoting diesel to lower CO2 emissions, a policy which has resulted in tens of thousands of premature deaths. (& the reversal of which is mostly responsible for all this angst in the car industry)

      • L Jones
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Tell us what YOU voted for Andy. Details would be interesting. An EU army, conscription and all? More money into the EU’s ever-gaping maw? Higher taxes? More control by your EU masters?

        Or just the opportunity for your children to go and work behind a bar in Europe for a few weeks each year?

        • Steve
          Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          L Jones

          “Tell us what YOU voted for Andy.”

          You assume he’s old enough to vote ?

      • Steve
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        “I have no doubt that some canacer patients will die as a result of your Brexit.”

        Cheap, very cheap. Is that the best you can do ?

        Perhaps you have not considered that there may actually be cancer sufferers catching glimpse of your crass remarks.

        Still, we’ve come to expect no better than knob – headed comments from you, so we shouldn’t expect informed discussion.

        You’ll come unstuck Son.

    • Jagman84
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I suggest refraining from offering solutions to non-problems. All that it does is give some validity to the original false assertion. Stop doing the remoaners job for them. The MSM will not ask them for any answers.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      @ ColinD

      You seem to think that 39 bn is a lot of money. It is not. The UK’s GDP is appr 2.5 trillion, 39 billion is 1.5 of one percent of that. The EU’s GDP is six times the UK’s, hence for the EU this would be less than .3 of one percent and then spread over several years. Plus, the EU (institutional )budget losing 39 bn would be very helpful because it would mean cutting subsidies to some less than constructive members. A political godsend.

      • ChrisS
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 1:19 am | Permalink

        If £39bn is such a trivial sum, why was the EU so desperate to get the issue of money resolved before they would talk about anything else ?

        Of course, it only happened because Mrs May was stupid enough to agree to the sequencing of the so-called negotiations but that’s another story.

  9. Dominic
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Our membership of the EU is indeed the straw that may break the camel’s back. It is the issue that’s divided friendships, families and political parties. It has led to political authoritarianism under this PM with her embrace of a form of politics aimed at crushing freedom of expression.

    May’s also embraced mendacity as strategy. She’s always been a shameless politician using capitulation as a political tactic which as afforded aggressive rights activist to demand new laws oppressive laws against their perceived hatreds. All in the name of so called tolerance. Of course we all know that when May and the liberal left makes reference to tolerance what they actually mean is self-censorship and self-imposed silence. I believe this form of politics is driven by pro-EU pressure groups obsessed with race, ethnicity, nationality and immigration

    The issue now is not the EU, it is Theresa May. Indeed the issue’s always been this PM. Nothing happens in today’s politics if the PM doesn’t want to it to happen. She’s an enthusiastic advocate of project fear believing it can changed the views of British people. She’s wrong, so wrong and indeed ignorant of what we are as a nation.

    Even Remain supporters can see the lows that Europhile politicians will stoop to destroy the EU referenda result. And even they have stopped supporting Remain simply because of the vile behaviour of their side. The lack of trust, faith and good-will is appalling.

    People like Sir John Redwood is 10x the politician May is. 20x. 30x. 100x. A man of absolute integrity compared to most in the Commons. There are others like him, many others. And we, the British people, never punish those who act honestly, truthfully and consistently

    I’d prefer to see the Tories under a Eurosceptic leader take the UK out of the EU. If my party won’t carry out our wishes then a new party that will take up the reins to defeat Europhile pressure and confront Labour in her northern heartlands which is where we should be attacking

    The horse’s bolted and the British people’s decision to leave the EU will at some point become a reality.

    • Andy
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      I know lots of people who supported remain. I do not know any who have changed their minds. Indeed, the more Brexit has gone on the more Europhile they have become.

      This poses a huge problem for Brexiteers because you now all have to deliver on the lies Vote Leave told during the referendum. You have to fix all the problems you blamed on the EU while making nothing worse and everything better.

      This would be impossible if we had a competent government or a competent opposition. These car crash angry Tory pensioners and the equally useless and unpleasant Mr Corbyn have no chance.

      And you have more than 16m people – plus 3m EU nationals and 1m UK nationals in the EU and millions of teenagers just waiting to undo your Brexit. It will not take us long.

      • Steve
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:52 pm | Permalink


        “These car crash angry Tory pensioners”

        Oh crap here we go again.

        “And you have more than 16m people”

        No, 16m liberal ‘snowflakes’ terrified of having to graft for a living.

        “plus 3m EU nationals”

        Many of whom are Polish / eastern european and highly valued in this country.

        “and millions of teenagers just waiting to undo your Brexit. It will not take us long.”

        Grow up Son.

    • jerry
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      @Dominic; Wow, 375 (preprepared?) words, all but 75 being nothing but hyperbolic nonsense on stilts 🙁

      Leave does indeed mean leave, but what does “leave” actually mean, something no one can answer as the people have never been asked what it means, I might detest it but leaving via the currently offered WA is still leaving, joining the EEA is still leaving, just as leaving on WTO rules is, and only the truly undemocratic extremes of UK politics would try arguing otherwise.

      The UK has an alternative Eurosceptic party, it goes by the abbreviation UKIP, it was a one trick, one leader pony, job done, but judging from what you write and what UKIP has since morphed into you both might well suit each other, good luck!…

    • Chris
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      A splendid post, Dominic. I also echo your comments about Sir John and his evident integrity and clear headedness.

    • oldtimer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      An excellent post.

  10. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    In the real world nobody believes this crap. Try booking a cross channel ferry for a trip post March journey, especially for during the Summer holidays. The demand still seems to be there with some sailings already sold out and with no discounted prices to stimulate demand. Mrs May should know better, Denmark does not have a global monopoly of insulin production. Because of its ever growing problem with obesity American drug companies have increased capacity recently. The Prime Minister’s staff should be more concerned about my local hospital’s inability to maintain a constant of clean bed linen rather make up stories about potential drug shortages.

  11. Richard
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The so called GATT 24 plan has been completely debunked by real WTO trade experts.

    So has the frictionless border nonsense. Even the normally completely ludicrously right wing rag the daily express has put the real facts on its front page.

    Why do you continue to deny reality ?

    You and your cronies are peddling lies and deceit to get your dishonest Brexit.

    • Gary C
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink


      “You and your cronies are peddling lies and deceit to destroy democracy.”


    • jerry
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      @Richard; “GATT 24 plan has been completely debunked by real WTO trade experts.”

      Then you will have no problem citing who these ‘experts’ are.

      “Even the normally completely ludicrously right wing rag the daily express”

      Err, you do know who now owns the Daily Express don’t you, Reach plc, (previously knows as Trinity Mirror), yes the publishers of the normally Blairite Labour supporting Daily Mirror – more questions than answers, could the editorial line have changed at the DE with its new editor perhaps?…

    • Jagman84
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I hope that you are getting paid to offer such nonsense. The only lies are coming from you, on a daily basis. I am pleased that our host continues to publish you utterances as it confirms the desperation of you and your fellow anti-UK schemers.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        @ Jagman84, @ Rita Webb

        Richard’s remarks aboutGATT 24 etc are correct. Calling people liars goes a bit to far. But If you believe that there is no problem you may want to look around, say, June/July and check your present remarks.

        Rita, of course the ferries will continue to take tourists. There has been an offer of visa free travel. But that is not the point. Professional logistics would become much more difficult in sa (hostile) no- deal brexit because easing those problems would depend on cooperation which may not be available.

      • acorn
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Don’t be surprised if “our host” abandons you at the altar on the 29th of March.

    • Chris
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      You bandy about these claims, but where is your evidence? If you want to make credible claims then put your case without the invective and cite the exact evidence. In that way people can make up their own minds. Nobody takes kindly to someone shouting out and being rude in the process. It simply puts them off.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        @ Chris

        Why do you not criticize those who qhestion democracy?

      • Richard
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        How about those proposing such nebulous solutions provide evidence-based facts as to how they would work. Where are the article 24 precedents? Where are the WTO experts supporting this ?Where are these advanced frictionless borders ? And how would the delays at even at the most advanced of these crossings scale up to our crossings ?
        Try debating these points on an open forum rather than posting and then not backing it up with facts and evidence. There’s plenty of real WTO experts out there highlighting the nonsense on open forums.

      • Timaction
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Sir Nigel told the EU parliament this week with Junker etc present that Gatt24 was the solution. Didn’t see it on the BBC!!

      • L Jones
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s the remainer way. Never a critical comment without an insult. And usually unsupported criticism too. Remainers have never quite grasped the idea of ”hearts and minds”. Too much Facebook, too little unbiased research.

      • acorn
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Show me where the leave campaign cited the “exact evidence” to support the outcome of a “no-deal” Brexit! I can tell you there isn’t any and never was. The ERG 62 purposely avoided putting any numbers to a “no-deal” Brexit, because it couldn’t answer any qualitative or quantitative Remainer questions.

      • john waugh
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        In my local bookshop , fixed to the the shelf with books by Christopher Hitchens , a quote by him –
        ” That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence .”

    • Original Richard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      There exists already a “hard” border for VAT, excise duty, currency, corporation and personal taxation etc. and none of these items are checked physically at the border.

      It is no problem to add customs duty to this list and for checks to be made away from the border. The compliance of products with either the EU or UK SM can be checked as it is currently by trading standards officers at retail sites.

      The great majority of Chinese goods are not checked at Southampton docks but by the importer, then the retailer and finally by trading standards officers.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Article 24 of the WTO agreement is available for all to see on the Internet. You don’t need to be a trade expert to read the clear language that parties engaged in an FTA negotiation can agree not to apply tariff schedules for 10 years. That means – unless eitter the EU or the UK wish gratuitously to start a trade war – we can have at least ten years of continued tariff free trade between the EU and the UK, in the event of WTO Brexit. Look it up.

  12. JoolsB
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    As we have discovered to our cost, we cannot believe a word of what comes out of May’s mouth. Yes she said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and then presents us with the worst deal possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if she along with Hammond aren’t behind most of the acopalyptic predictions and one thing is for sure, she and the majority of pathetic supine EU loving MPs have no intention of allowing us to leave on WTO terms despite the majority of polls now showing that is the preferred option of the public.
    It seems the Great British people have far more faith in what this country can achieve free from the shackles of the bullying rotten EU than our treacherous MPs .

    • jerry
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      @Jools; Your glass is always half empty. Mrs May, in presenting that awful WA, has actually made a ‘no deal’ WTO exit more likely! Tick-Tock…

      • Steve
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink



        Perhaps Mrs May isn’t quite so daft after all.

  13. Steve
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink


    Well written article, which generally appeals to my sentiment.

    However – I would like to know of governments intentions to remove EU fishing vessels from UK waters. For many of us that is the acid test.

    You may recall that Macron recently proclaimed that French access to UK fishing areas was, quote; “paramount”. So assuming we leave on 29th without deal, do you suppose government will be soft enough to let the French plunder our resources ? or will it have the balls to kick them out ?

    Reply Still no UK fishing policy for April

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      and the Belgians, who take 50% of their catch from the UK. So is your party in government preparing the Royal Navy to move them on after March 29, or not??? Have warning notices been issued with two months left?

      We deserve answers, and so does the RN.

      • jerry
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Talking of the RN (plus Army and RAF), and the reported hole in the MOD’s budget, come March 29th and a ‘no deal’ exit perhaps funding extra defence spending might be higher up on the Brexit dividend list than yet more tax cuts?

    • bigneil
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      ” remove EU fishing vessels from UK waters. ” That may help us in another way. It is believed that some of these boats are setting off with illegals on board and dinghies to be inflated when near enough to our shores.

      • jerry
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        @bigneil; By who, the rump that is now UKIP, trying to get a headline?

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink


      “So assuming we leave on 29th without deal, do you suppose government will be soft enough to let the French plunder our resources ? or will it have the balls to kick them out ?”

      Not if our experiences with Iceland in the 1950’s are anything to do by:

      “The Cod Wars were a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland on fishing rights in the North Atlantic. Each of the disputes ended with an Icelandic victory.

      The Third Cod War concluded in 1976, with a highly favourable agreement for Iceland; the United Kingdom conceded to a 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometre) Icelandic exclusive fishery zone after threats that Iceland would withdraw from NATO, which would have forfeited NATO’s access to most of the GIUK gap, a critical anti-submarine warfare chokepoint during the Cold War. “

      • Steve
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Margaret Howard

        “….after threats that Iceland would withdraw from NATO, which would have forfeited NATO’s access to most of the GIUK gap, a critical anti-submarine warfare chokepoint during the Cold War. ”

        True, and it shows the Icelandic government wasn’t afraid to play it’s ace card. Unlike the dummies we have who seem to give every winning hand away.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      @ Steve

      I understand that EU ships from countries with littoral agreements will continue fishing and if necessary will be protected by (at least Dutch) naval patrols. The whole of the Dutch fleet has been called home to prepare for the fifth Anlo-Dutch war. We expect to capture the Prince of Whales and possibly the Repulse. Your lot won #4, #5 will be ours..

      • Steve
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Rien Huizer

        We expect to capture the Prince of Wales and possibly the Repulse.

        Good luck with that, both were sunk by the Japs in 1941.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 1:34 am | Permalink

        We’ve had a bit of snow. A miracle! People worked together, helped each other out and we got through it. I think we’ll cope with brexit, despite the hysterics.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      Not surprising when you think about it 😉

  14. Dave Andrews
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    BBC remain agenda in full swing with an interview with a German finance minister this morning. BBC presenter asking leading questions, as if they had colluded beforehand on the questions to be asked in order to present an anti-Brexit argument.
    The topic was the Irish border, but did the BBC ask the German what kind of border Germany would insist on in the case of the WA not being signed? I would have asked her how Germany felt about picking up the additional EU costs when the UK contributions cease.
    Then they have the gall to claim they are impartial.

    • jerry
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      @Dave Andrews; Can I ask where was this interview interview with a German finance minister, on R4’s Today, on R5, the World Service or TV (breakfast) news?

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      @ Dave Andrews,

      But that was a very good question because the German and Irish press had speculated that maybe German resolve was not 100%. Also, Germany is not going to pick up that shortage as you may know the contingency plan is for the existing budget to save on some subsidies (but of course Ireland will receive lavish funding for any adjestments necessary from the EIB) and that is of course not popular with some countries. But it is not Germany’s problem.

  15. Shieldsman
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    The PM insists the only deal on the table is the withdrawal Agreement which you correctly describe it as an expensive invitation to negotiate under harsh preset conditions.
    Can Theresa May really offer Labour MP’s a bribe of extra payments to their Constituency area, for their vote?
    The NO Deal is a function of not accepting the only exiting arrangement permitted by Article 50, the withdrawal agreement.
    Although the idea of a second ‘Peoples Vote’ has been dropped for the moment, it could get Parliament out of its impasse. To proceed Parliament would have to ask ‘Do you accept the Withdrawal Agreement’. All its horrors would have to be revealed.
    Jeremy Corbyn appears to want a lot more outside of a Customs Union, and would have agree to the WE first.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Can Theresa May really offer Labour MP’s a bribe of extra payments to their Constituency area, for their vote?

      The ultimate betrayal. Vote Conservative, have your taxes redirected to gerrymander votes in Labour constituencies. This should be made illegal by imprisonment.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      The Withdrawal Agreement is not a ‘deal’, it is an Agreement stipulated in Article 50, and hence why it is the only thing if its type on the table. There could not be anything else ! We do not have to sign it in order to Leave the EU. The WA was not negotiated, it was drawn up and presented to the UK government as a take it or Leave it offer. Negotiations on trade with both the EU and non-EU countries can only come AFTER we have left the EU. The WA essentially gives everything the EU wants and is therefore in a position to not offer the UK anything. It’s a joke !

  16. jerry
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Neither the BBC nor Sky News have so far covered what appears to have been a important, if not keynote, speech by Liam Fox yesterday at the Policy Exchange, setting out “Britain’s future role in the global trading system” were Fox appears to be quite enthusiastic of both GATT and WTO.

    I bet had Anna Soubry given a doom-n-gloom speech it would have been headline news with both alongside the stories of stockpiling and automotive job losses (that have nothing to do with Brexit but everything to do with EU eco-laws).

    • Andy
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Dr Fox is on the TV and radio all the time. Despite the fact that he has no credibility left.

      • jerry
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        @Andy; “Dr Fox is on the TV and radio all the time”

        But then Anna Soubry is also on the TV and radio all the time. Despite the fact that she to has no credibility left. Your point was what?!

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      @ Jerry,

      Maybe you should wonder what Mr Fox really had to say apart from his enthusiasm.

      • jerry
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        @Rien Huizer; What ever, all I do know is that Euronews thought his speech important enough to report, being quite upbeat about what he said too… 😛

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      I do not care about the economics of Leaving, to me it is about governance. I want my MP, even though I would never vote for the fool, to be my representative and to act for and on my behalf.

    • acorn
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Nobody takes Liam Fox’s speeches seriously, not even the civil servants who wrote the speech for him. If you asked him what is the interconnection between the ASEAN; CPTPP and RCEP is, he wouldn’t have a clue.

      The RCEP is a trade agreement comprising 16 countries, including ASEAN plus six states (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea). The deal covers 24 percent of global GDP and 46 percent of the global population, which will make it the world’s largest trade bloc. The CPTPP, which is the TPP without Trump’s US participation, makes up 13.5 percent of global GDP and 14 percent of global population.

      If ever there was a time for the UK, NOT TO BE LEAVING THE EU TRADING BLOC IT IS NOW.

      • jerry
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        @acorn; Thank you for making YOUR (europhile) views very clear, not that you shone any light on Liam Fox or his speech.

        Do remind us just how many fully implemented FTA the EU actually have with third countries…

        • acorn
          Posted February 3, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          About 70, you can count them for yourself.

          Remember there are six recognisable models for EU agreements, not just FTA. There are 24 countries that trade with the UK + EU on WTO rules alone; but they mostly have mutual recognition / equalisation agreements in addition.

          • jerry
            Posted February 3, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            @acorn; Of those listed as “In place” on the web page you cite only ONE is actually a Free Trade Agreement, and even if one does accept the EU definition of a FTA, the countries you list are of little significance other than that single FTA [1].

            I do not actually care what a eurocrats definition of a FTA is, they would call a tariff agreement on USA made Gob-stoppers and UK made Pontifract Cakes a FTA between the EU and USA if they could get away with it!

            How ever you spin it, there are large and significant missing, fully operational, FTAs between the EU and these significant trading countries. This restricts the UK’s ability to freely trade within major world markets – or indeed restrict such trade should it be lopsided and harmful to our economy.

            [1] and of course the yet to be listed EU-Japanese FTA that has just come into full force

  17. Kevin
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    “She of course would much prefer a deal, but has difficulty persuading MPs her Withdrawal Agreement is acceptable.”

    The very fact that she has not withdrawn her Withdrawal Agreement is an ongoing affront to the People’s Vote. I read that, in new EU legislation, Gibraltar is decribed as a “colony”. Is that a higher status than “vassal”?

    In an article on the “colony” description, BBC writes the following:
    “The EU withdrawal agreement agreed with the UK, proposes a special protocol…between Madrid and London to discuss the future of Gibraltar. The BBC’s Brussels reporter…said the Spanish government sees this as giving it a bigger say in the status of Gibraltar…. But the UK insists the protocol is just about the technicalities of how Brexit will work in Gibraltar, he added.”

    If the Spanish government takes this view of the WA with regard to Gibraltar, what view does it take with regard to the fact that, under the WA, as JR has put it, “we have to accept and follow any law they pass for the next two years or more, without any vote or voice to try to stop laws that damage our interests”?

  18. ChrisS
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’m sure the reason for not announcing tariffs that will apply after 29th March before any further negotiations have been attempted is because they will cause a storm of protest from various corners of Europe.

    It won’t much matter what is announced, it’s bound to **** off some special interest group or another !

  19. George Brooks
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    We have to void another 21 months of getting nowhere towards a trade deal. The transition period is an EU ploy to kick the can down the road yet again. They have done it for the last two years in the hope that they will grind us down to staying in and if anyone believes that the EU will use this period to establish our future trading relationship they must believe in fairy stories.

    The WA and the Backstop are designed specifically with this end in mind, so come the 29th March we should leave the EU, not pay the £39bn and start trading on WTO terms. EU industry will take control and we will have a good trade deal in place within 12 to 15 months. We will also be well on our way to many other trade deals around the world.

    Yes, it will be painful for a while, but we get rid of all the uncertainty which is so damaging. We can, when the trade deal is in place, pay the EU what we actually owe but only when we have a deal. Let us recapture the ‘high-ground’ put an end to this wretched saga and re-take our place in the world and prosper once more.

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    We know the majority of MPs, supported by the broadcast media, in breach of their statutory duty of impartiality, do not want the UK to leave the EU. I am sick of hearing these people preface their remarks with “I respect the referendum result” only to go on, normally unchallenged, to explain how they are doing all they can to overturn it one way or another.
    It is difficult to have any confidence in what Mrs May says as her words and actions often seem like complete strangers.
    As you say the Remainers now want delay after temporarily abandoning a second referendum. My local MP (unfortunately Labour but in a Leave constituency) has confirmed this in responses to correspondence I have had with him.
    Many MPs it seems cannot function without having laws and directives sent down to them from unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. They should make way for those who can and have confidence in the UK and its people.

  21. Bryan Harris
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    So despite ‘sources close to government’ deploying scare tactics, we have been assured by the PM that we will be ready for a clean Brexit…

    Have all ministers complied with the requirements to enable everything to function after a no-deal? That is the real question.

  22. Original Richard
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I expect Mrs. May has instructed the BBC and C4 etc. from the middle of March to ramp up to fever pitch their prepared stories on shortages of food and medicines in order to create panic buying and hence give herself and her majority pro-remain colleagues in the HoC a reason to effect a coup against the people and delay if not cancel Brexit at the last minute.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      Oh no – not the BBC again – give it a rest!

      • Original Richard
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        The BBC, which BTW receives EU funding, is not acting as an impartial broadcaster over many issues including Brexit. And they even have the gall to admit they are not impartial.

        As Nick Robinson, a presenter of the BBC R4 programme “Today” said in April 2017 :

        “Because the referendum is over….the BBC no longer has a duty to provide balanced coverage of Brexit”.

        But it’s not over is it ?

        Many Remainers in Parliament are working on grabbing all the power for themselves and reversing the decision made by the people, even though their constituencies voted 64:36 to leave.

        So for a major national broadcaster such as the BBC to not provide a “balanced coverage” is disgraceful and to attempt to engineer a food shortage by constantly falsely warning of its coming is even worse.

        There is simply no reason for EU suppliers to not continue shipping their products to the UK in the days after Brexit, unless of course the EU intends to blockade us, and even less reason for the Government to stop these shipments and cause shortages.

  23. Iain Moore
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The Government and Parliament have burnt through enough time , money and opportunity, when we see what past generations achieved in the same time it shows what a lazy, incompetent establishment we now have. By 1942 the Germans had suffered a setback at Stalingrad and El Alamein and the Japanese beaten at Midway, when you consider the equipment, resources and manpower needed to achieve that, yet we can’t organise some insulin supplies in 2 1/2 years. Pathetic !

    For all the waste in money and time, the most criminal waste has been the squandering of opportunity, when we should be hearing about how Government policy is going to change to invigorate our industrial and science base to build a better future, which people we voting for with Brexit, we hear nothing, the British establishment offers us nothing.

  24. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Most of us have been saying since her appointment that she was at the start the wrong choice to now her incompetence or duplicity is beyond belief. Her fellow Cabinet travellers, particularly the theoretical Brexiteers, have very misguided views on what benefits the UK.

  25. Rien Huizer
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    A “no deal” will be therapeutic for everyone. Maybe planes will fly (but not all of them), there will be massive delays because the EU will police borders, no matter what some Le Pen supporting minor bureaucrat in Calais may say and of course there will be some unpleasantness in Ireland. All as a result of UK unilateral actions. Cheers!

  26. Atlas
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Quite so, Sir John.

    Leave with no deal on WTO terms is what I think is far better than May’s “shackled to the EU” so-called deal.

  27. a-tracy
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    On the Irish Border issue I’m confused? Is the border problem people movement? How do these people get into Ireland in the first place? Or illegal goods movements (same question) or both?

    18 May 2011 · Foreign secretary William Hague has hinted the UK will drop the “punitive” interest rate it charges on the bilateral loan it gave to Ireland as part of the IMF-EU bailout last year. … Hague said he was sympathetic to Ireland’s plight and “acknowledged the very serious efforts” being made to address the country’s economic crisis. It was dropped from 5.9% (which is less than the government charges English Plan 2 students from their 1st day of their loan at Uni. Why are the British doing this?) The Irish government has branded the bailout interest rates as “punitive” and has been using the Greek crisis as leverage for a change in terms in Europe.

    If these rates are punitive then why the hell are our English graduates being charged more? We dropped to 3.5% in line with the EU Euro community that we were supposed not to be a part of.

    Haven’t you had enough of capitulation to Ireland? What about England! All we do is take punishment interest, Ireland has a smaller population than Scotland are we saying threats actually work?

  28. Dylan
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Trying to use WTO Article 24 is a waste of time.

    If John Redwood isn’t willing to accept leaving with No Deal of any sort, he shouldn’t have voted Leave, or having done so, against the existing proposed agreement on offer.

    Article 24 of the WTO requires an ‘interim agreement’ or a Customs Union to already be in place. A political declaration won’t qualify as an ‘interim agreement’ since it wouldn’t be a legal agreement.

    The ‘interim agreement’ has to come with the legal agreement of the EU.

    The WTO also requires that a plan and timetable for achieving the ‘final agreement’ is in place, and the agreement would have to have a sufficient amount of detail, including what the ‘final agreement’ would look like.

    And if they SAID they weren’t convinced that the plan could be achieved within about 10 years, the rest of the WTO membership (i.e. the whole world), could demand changes. The UK and EU would have to accept those changes or scrap the agreement.

    The only practicable use and purpose for an ‘interim agreement’ is if nearly all of a free trade agreement was agreed but they wanted to exclude something specific and difficult (e.g. agriculture) to get more time to sort it out.

    With less than two months to go the UK and EU haven’t even started the negotiations, so not merely is there no agreement on anything, there aren’t even any proposals from either side.

    These WTO rules however don’t apply to ‘free trade agreements’ that are not ‘interim’.

    If there were an ‘interim agreement’, there are much simpler ways of using it to keep free trade going than subjecting it to the WTO rigmarole associated with Article 24.

    It could simply be done with a ‘bare bones’ free trade agreement which would still allow a “comprehensive” deal to be struck later.

    But from the EU’s point of view both an ‘interim agreement’ and a ‘bare bones’ free trade agreement are exactly the same thing as the ‘transitional arrangement’ already provided for.

    The EU will not enter into an ‘interim agreement’ unless they get what they want.

    This is all academic anyway because the UK is NOT leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and won’t be leaving on March 29th at all.

    Earlier this week the House of Commons, including John Redwood, passed by acclamation a motion which included the Spelman amendment against leaving with No Deal, and, provided that changes are made to the backstop, FOR accepting the existing May Withdrawal Agreement.

    John Redwood failed to vote against the Brady Amendment which provided for the latter and failed to shout ‘No’ when the full amended motion which included the Spelman Amendment was passed.

  29. Sakara Gold
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I may buy a quantity of toilet rolls to put away just in case. It could be unpleasant to discover that they have run out, just when one was urgently needed post the event.

    • L Jones
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I know it’s been talked of before – but there are plenty of products made right here in the UK, and toilet rolls are right up there with the best! (Of course, once people realise the superior quality, there may indeed be a run on them!)

      It’s surprising what is made here on our very doorstep!

      • rose
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Do you remember when the media got up a panic about salt running out? All sorts of people fell for it, despite Cheshire being more or less made of salt.

  30. Ronald Olden
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Neither the Government nor Parliament has to do anything to ‘get on with leaving’.

    The law already says we will Leave in at 11pm on March 29th.

    We won’t of course, because there’s no Withdrawal Agreement in place. And in March Parliament will vote to postpone the leaving date until one is.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      And parliament will be in contempt of the people and, I am afraid we will have to call for a new parliament.

  31. Christine
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I’m interested to understand why the EU would go along with a free trade agreement and use of Article 24 of the GATT, to avoid tariffs and other new barriers when we leave in March, rather than just remove/amend the backstop from the withdrawal agreement. Surely, an amended WA is a much better option for them.

  32. Christine
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    May continues to say one thing and do another. Whilst parliament has been fighting amongst itself, the people of this country have moved on. People have become more aware of how our country is being run and they don’t like what they see. A new political party, which represents the hard working decent people in this country, is long overdue. I think this will be the best thing to come out of Brexit.

    • L Jones
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Christine, one does feel as if we’re watching rats fighting in a sack. We’re (most of us) making sure we’ll well-informed, whichever ”side” we’re on, and certainly know what’s what – if we don’t rely on only one stream of news. It’s as if we’re on the sidelines being presented with a production put on as per ”Upstart Crow”!

      I wonder if many MPs truly realise what figures of derision they are making of themselves?
      (Our host isn’t one – thank goodness we have him to show us what an honourable politician looks like. And you’ll allow us to flatter, Sir John, since you allow the Andys to denigrate and insult with impunity!)

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      People have become more aware of how our country is being run and they don’t like what they see.

      After Leaving the EU that is the next most important thing to see. 🙂

  33. ian
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    The GATT plan was available from day one after the ref but Mr Cameron refused to use it and left instead.
    It has always been there in case the UK did not want to use article 50 to leave the EU, as I have ways said from day one, you can leave at any time without talks with the EU and the EU has always said, you cannot have talks on trade until the UK has fully left the EU.

    Only remain wanted to use Article 50, which lead to this situation that the UK now finds itself in, with them still trying to overturn the ref vote.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Well, I wanted to use it, but with a reservation. From July 15th 2016:

      “I increasingly feel that:

      “This letter may be taken as the formal notification required by Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, without prejudice to any general right recognised in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties … “

      may be the way to go.

      It says “We agreed that if any member state wanted to leave the EU then it should use the procedure laid down in Article 50 TEU, so that is what we propose to do”, but adds the implied rider “However if you do not negotiate in good faith, if we are mucked about, we will break off the negotiations and suspend the operation of the EU treaties”.”

      And I was still saying that on March 28th 2017:

      However just before then Theresa May had weakly given way to the EU and agreed that under the Commission’s preferred interpretation of EU law the EU could not negotiate any trade deal, or any other agreement, with us until after we had already left, leading to the ridiculous sequencing of the negotiations, to the EU’s advantage, when instead she should have sent a letter like this, March 23rd:

      “Dear Donald

      As you know I was intending to send you an Article 50 TEU notification next week.

      Unfortunately I have now been informed that Article 50 TEU does not provide a clear legal basis for the UK to make an orderly withdrawal from the Union. This is because its text mandates the use of the negotiation procedure laid down in Article 218 TFEU, which it has now been noted only applies to the negotiation of agreements between the Union and third countries or international organisations, and so will be inapplicable until the UK has already left the Union and become a third country.

      I have made clear that while the UK is still a member of the Union we will scrupulously comply with Union law, including judgments of the Court of Justice, and so I cannot possibly authorise UK ministers and officials to take part in withdrawal negotiations which could later be held to be unlawful under the treaties.

      As I mentioned previously when we met my preference was to make use of the Article 50 provisions to make an orderly withdrawal from the Union, but without prejudice to the UK’s unilateral right of withdrawal under wider international law.

      Therefore I deeply regret that the legal analysis provided by Union lawyers has effectively closed off that preferred Article 50 route, and I am compelled to hereby abrogate the Union treaties and laws with immediate effect.

      However of course now that the UK has left the Union it has become legally possible for the Union to negotiate new agreements with the UK as a third country, and I look forward to hearing from you with regard to that prospect.

      Yours with best wishes


    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      . . . the EU has always said, you cannot have talks on trade until the UK has fully left the EU.

      Very true.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Not true at all, just the EU Commission’s preferred interpretation of Article 50 which Theresa May accepted without even a whimper of protest.

  34. Know-Dice
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    More rubbish from the BBC about the “CE” mark.

    They [BBC] claim that with no deal that the CE mark could no longer be used by British Manufacturers…

    The mark belongs to the European Union, so if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, goods will have to be stamped with a new symbol – UKCA.

    Rubbish.. the CE mark is self certification and as we know container loads of goods come in from China [ not yet a member of the EU] a lot of which do not meet the specification for the intended markets.

    “In a very short period of time, thousands of companies are going to have to spend millions of pounds collectively on changing all their markings to comply with the new mark,” Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, told the BBC.

    “It’s another cost as a result of not doing a deal on Brexit,” he said.

    More rubbish, markings would only need to be changed if UK specification for that particular product diverged from EU specifications, most manufactures tend to make sure that their products are acceptable in the global market place. For specialist products, for example those used on the Railways there is already a different testing and marking regime. Is this empire building by the BSI?

    For some products that could also mean two sets of tests, as EU nations may not recognise ones done by UK organisations.

    “Products which were assessed by a UK-based notified body will need to be reassessed by an EU-recognised conformity assessment body before placing on the EU market,” explained part of the government’s no deal planning guidance for manufacturers.

    Note the words SOME & WILL, this is nothing new, but getting back to “CE” this is self certification, nothing new here…move along.

  35. Den
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Far from being “Strong and Stable” our Government is more “Weak and Unreliable”.

    The people voted to leave. Parliament promised to honour our decision. Failed promises are in abundance with May’s Government and the latest spew of project fear false storytelling is an example of how treacherous they really are. What did we do to deserve this in Britain?
    Millions died here defending our independence from a foreign dictator. Alas! All in vain because Mrs May’s Government has plans for us to just surrender to another. The European Union IS a Dictatorship. It’s lawmakers are neither elected nor accountable to the European people and it is very clear, these “Rulers”also believe they are demigods. Yuk.

    • Steve
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink


      “these “Rulers”also believe they are demigods. Yuk.”

      But they look like gargoyles some of ’em.

  36. Enrico
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    It’s law that we leave on the 29th March 2019 and the queen gave royal assent towards the end of January so why are lots of MP’s still going on about extensions? They make the laws then disregard them when it doesn’t meet their purpose.Unbelievableor not as the case maybe.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      @ Enrico

      What the Queen signed says that the UK’s membership will end. Not that it will stop trading trading with the EU on mutually advantageous terms.

    • Steve
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink


      “They make the laws then disregard them when it doesn’t meet their purpose.”

      Yes they do. They (most) see themselves not as public servants, but as privileged class entitled to a cushy number and dispensed from scrutiny.

      The fact that many of them get death threats on a daily basis tells you something. Not that I condone such, of course, but the fact certainly suggests to me that they are not getting it ‘right’.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      The thing is, they never expected the Withdrawal Agreement to be as bad as it has. They cannot sign up to it.

      First the people shafted parliament with the Referendum, now the EU has with the Withdrawal Agreement. All because they refused to come to terms with what the EU really is and understand it. If they had they might have been better prepared on both counts.

    • Julian Flood
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      HM’s signing off is, I am surprised to learn, insufficient. Article 7 of the Deregulation Act 2015 has not yet been commenced because, I am told, they are consulting ‘stakeholders’. That article is a response to my attempt to reopen Watling Street where it runs through the Palace of Westminster, a demonstration of the bizarre state of Rights of Way law as it has evolved, in particular the way it leaves anyone opposing an application to prove the negative.

      MPs don’t run Parliament, the bureaucrats do and they’ve obviously taken a huff, but if anyone cares to try again the law is quite clear — the Houses of Parliament are illegally obstructing a right of way. I’d like to make it a bridleway so I could drive a coach and horses through the members’ dining room which would teach them a valuable lesson about laws not being just for little people.

      But I digress.


  37. Iago
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    For a breathtaking and appalling description of France now, the rebellion, Macron, French Society, see Unrest in France: No end in sight by Guy Milliere in gatestone institute today. The similarities between May and Macron, the English and French elites or cabals, their contempt for their peoples and the freedom of their peoples are quite simply disgusting.

  38. formula57
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Once Brexit is accomplished, for it to be the success it can be, we will need to dispense with a government “who often seem to prefer the EU spin line against us”.

  39. Wlliam Long
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Noone excepthe Government beleaves anything that Project Fear says. One thing that is clear to me though, is that the real craven fear is in the hearts of Mrs May, Mr Hammond and a number of other members of the cabinet and Conservative party who are simply terrified of leaving the EU and having to develop independent policies to lead the UK forward in the free (as opposed to EU) world. They will do all they can to see we are tied into the EU by some mechanism, backstop, call it what you will, that keeps us dependent on the EU even if we have no say in its governance. Our best hope is that the Parliamentary stalemate continues and we leave by default on 29 March. I see Rees-Mogg now is weakening which could endanger this scenario.

  40. agricola
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    As our leaving on WTO rules and invoking Art 24 of GATT becomes more inevitable, voices across the EU will become more strident and their actions more vindictive. We have already heard it from Spain on Gibraltar, and the cornered by home events Macron becomes more beligerent in efforts to divert attention from his own shortcomings in France. Don’t be surprised such behaviour is in their DNA.

    If you thought the WA was a minefield, should we in innocence sign it. Wait till you try to negotiate a trade treaty. It will be a litany of political demands unrelated to trade but designed to diminish the position of the UK in the World. Remember what Barnier said to his cohorts in 2016 ” I will have done my job if in the end the UK decides to stay in the EU.”
    This says it all for me. Leaving with an unsigned WA on 29th March is the only sensible course of action.

    Were the EU to open up from their intransigent position then we should only sign for what we consider desirable in the WA and there should be no payment of £39 billion until the trade treaty is signed. I have no faith whatever in May’s ability to achieve such. She is way out of her depth.

  41. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    It is now really urgent to pressure the EU into stating the tariffs that they will apply to our exports from 30th March. Mrs May is so determined to get a deal that she has neglected the essential tasks of No Deal.

    Jeremy Hunt talks of a delay in order to pass necessary legislation. Legislators and lawyers place too high a value on legislation. It is possible to come to practical arrangements by agreement and pass legislation to apply retrospectively. As the saying goes, just get on with it.

  42. Helen Smith
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    May must really hate the Conservative party. If she thinks the answer to the backstop which threatens to keep us in the CU forever is to sign up to the CU forever then she is deranged.

  43. Dominic
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    We have nothing to fear from leaving the bankrupt EU and the sclerotic Eurozone. Only rabid Remain zealots and Europhile politicians like May and her clan think we can’t cope. What a bunch of clueless jokers.

    ‘But they are forward-looking indicators of how each bank is looking to remodel their European workforce over the coming months in the face of Brexit, and suggest banks are only making modest tweaks as Britain’s EU departure approaches on March 29.

    “Culturally, Paris is French, Frankfurt is German but London is international. The Americans – who own this industry – want to operate in an English speaking environment. No one wants to go,” said Martin Armstrong, partner at headhunting firm Armstrong International.

    Other recruitment specialists reported few signs of banks preparing to bulk up in a hurry, even if Britain has to leave the EU without a deal covering financial services. ‘

  44. sobsob
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    it’s not sensible optimism we want but practical sensible realism. 29th march and out we will go there is no doubt about it. Looking at the goings on in the EU parliament last week we can see that the EU is not going to tolerate UK MEPs in their house anymore, not next term or any term for that matter. That spectacle last week in itself should be enough proof to anyone interested that we will be most definitely out

    Project fear is a nice turn of phrase but has well outlived its usefulness at this stage. The French have a different turn of phrase La perfide albion and Macron Barnier et al will be watching closely whatever Mrs May has up her sleeve- but I don’t think whatever it is is going to work. Am instead looking forward to JRs piece and the comments on March 30th, April 30th and May 30th, so not too long to go

  45. Simon
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Sir John;
    If you and your family start starving we are all going to die laughing.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      You think European farmers, market gardeners and other foodstuff producers will deliberately refuse to sell to us after 29th March?
      You also think we cannot grow food for for ourselves nor find any other country in the world that will sell food to us?

  46. gyges01
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    It brings to mind the book, When Prophecy Fails describing the increasing irrationality and hysteria of group of cult members when it becomes obvious that their predictions will not happen.

    Expect it to get worse.

  47. Al
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I find myself more concerned that people’s bodies are now apparently property of the state – specifically with regard to opt-in for organ donation now being presumed.

    I will be tearing up my donor card and opting out completely. While I have no objections to giving the gift of life or making a donation, a mandatory confiscation is not a gift nor a donation.

    • Chris
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree, Al.

  48. Andrew
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    It’d be better to have a civil service fronted by elected British people rather than the PR company employed by the EU, the deferred payment of £39 billion that they’ve promised themselves is illegal i’d suggest.

  49. Andrew
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Why illegal?

    Because money laundering is illegal, it never lawfully enters Parliament.

  50. Geoff Homer
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    The more I read about Singapore and Chinese governments involvement in promoting industry and yes protecting it the more I realise how far our remote masters in Brussels are from a real world. Britain is and has been for many years a very major market for French and German products. Despite the stories coming thick and fast about cut backs, particularly amongst the German automobile manufacturers, the various heads in the EU seem completely disinterested in what their actions are leading to. Perhaps another reason to be ‘out of it’.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Have you ever considered what ‘our actions’ are leading to? De Gaulle was right to oppose our membership and the Germans were wrong to back us. No doubt they are regretting it now.

      (They are not ‘our masters’ – we are/were members of the world’s most successful trading bloc with as much of a voice as any of the other members)

  51. Fed up
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    It is hardly surprising that we are where we are when Mrs May’s chief adviser on leaving the EU, Ollie Robins, is someone who was president of the Oxford Reform Club, which wanted to promote a federal European Union. He has not changed his spots.

    Posted February 2, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    We keep hearing project fear.
    Any chance we can start to hear nothing to fear except fear itself.

  53. Den
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    There are just 35 Parliament sitting days until we Leave the EU (When Fridays are included).
    John, will that be enough time for OUR Government to renege on its promises to Leave the EU and everything that is bolted onto it?
    We have already been hit with three reneged promises by Three previous Prime Ministers, please do not let us suffer from another from our current one. This time would be to overturn British democracy and that will certainly not be accepted. If it is not riots, it will be a mass slaughter of the Conservative Party at the next General Election, even worse than in 1997 and give rise to the growing and much stronger pro-British alternatives who will in turn must renege upon any agreements made with the EU that have gone against the will of the people. They restore the democracy that would have been lost.
    In Three Months, the European people will have their say on how the EU is to be run and it is expected that anti-EU groups will dominate more than ever. We caused the dominoes to start to topple, let us carry it through and ultimately re-create the ideal of the original Common Market with a non-politicised Free Trade Area. It is so evident, this is the future for the whole world.

  54. Andrew
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The BBC Parliament channel, it’s little mote than an outlet for fake news from EU crisis actors.

  55. Andrew
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Capital punishment for capital crimes.

    • KatC
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes it served us very😂 well when we had the empire. Pompous idiot

    • Steve
      Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink


      “Capital punishment for capital crimes.”

      Why else do you think Blair repealed the treason act.

      • Andrew
        Posted February 3, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        It is an interesting observation, however, we have allies for whom those so called reforms don’t figure at all in reality.

        Indeed, the licence to treason is one of those EU firster subversions that stand in the way of international trade.

        It’s painfully obvious really.

  56. Prigger
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Having children armed with a smart phone, (999 capability) video and sound recording facility in a closed door room with someone at the front much bigger than them is a very good idea.
    I wishI had had that security, harassment and assault recorder when I was at school. Then I wouldn’t have needed to wait over half a century in trauma to write about it, as I shall.Aye!

  57. margaret howard
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Just now:

    “Nissan is expected to announce that it is cancelling a planned investment at its plant in Sunderland.

    In 2016 the car maker said it would build the X-Trail SUV in Sunderland after receiving “assurances” from the government over Brexit.

    The company is expected to say investment will be now be pulled, rather than existing work being halted.”

    I suppose Brexiteers will now blame the BBC for reporting it.

  58. BrianW
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Planes might fly and ro-ros will sail dover to calais but maybe not at the same frictionless rate as we know today. We do not know what post 29 march and our fall out from the EU will bring, so we should take care to build in some realistic thinking.
    This is not anything to do with project fear- one thing we know is that things will not be the same again and as far asvthe EU is concerned we will not be as well off outside ad we are today inside. We have taken a different road because of political reasons..with this politics trumps economics..just the same as it does in Europe..but there is no arguing with the sceptics? Their minds are made up..they want the empire back..and to be able to deal with the EU as equals but alas neither will happen..if we go the way we’re afraid as a countrywe are going to become a backwater

  59. Baz Lloyd
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Of course ‘we won’t be part of the full governance of the EU’ after we Leave!! That’s the choice we made when we invoked Article 50.

    If we wish to participate in a Free Trade Agreement with the EU and its’ satellites we will now have to accept whatever rules they’re willing to agree. We won’t be determining those rules.

    If John Redwood wasn’t ready for that he shouldn’t have voted Leave, or to invoke Article 50. But having done so, SHOULD have voted against the Commons motion last week, instead of abstaining,

  60. John Hatfield
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    “When we leave in March.”I wish, John, but there are strong forces trying to resist it.
    What I don’t understand is why Tory politicians seem to want to destroy our country.

  61. Matt
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Am very glad I live on the west coast of Ireland looking at all the shenanigans going on in very afraid you guys are going to cause real problems for our economy but at the same time am sure we’ll meet it and deal with it in our own way and as best we can. There was some talk recently coming from IDS DD and others that the EU will blink first, that they will throw in the towel at the very last moment..but am afraid that will not happen this time and especially not in the case of the UK for many many I’thinking of Farage and Hannan so there’s no need for me to spell it out any guys are on a hiding to nothing with this and I think there’s no way back..but anyway rest assured you will still have some friends, irish friends,, there to help to voice your concerns at the table, post 29 march..for us the whole thing is a lot of trouble we didn’t need this, but for you am afraid it’s a complete disaster, wholly self made the next generation UK will not forgive

  62. ChrisShalford
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    With you regarding Brexit as always, but could you please explain Article 24 of GATT in a future post as it sounds promising.

  63. Iain Gill
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Sad that so many Brexiteers are being chased by the state regulators, Information Commissioners Office (who hardly bother with enforcement mostly), electoral commission, and so on. eg Dom Cummings, Darren Grimes, Arron Banks, while lots of obvious law breaking by the Remain side has gone without any state regulatory action.

    Almost as if the state is massively biased.

  64. Chewy
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Remainers are becoming exasperated that their warnings are having no effect on public opinion, rather support for No Deal is increasing. This is basic human nature, people after 3 years of this have become utterly desensitized to Project Fear. It is actually now producing a negative reaction and feelings towards it’s perpetrators.

    • a-tracy
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      This is true.
      It’s like the Met office snow and ice warnings for the whole month of January, terrifying some pensioners who are scared of falling from venturing out, newspaper headlines like “SNOW and ice has wreaked havoc across the UK this week,”. What? Everyone I know thinks it’s been a mild January and as for havoc last week in 90% of the UK it didn’t affect anyone other than long delays on Wednesday morning that everyone got over, in the main caused by nervous driving following severe ice warnings.
      From Scotland to Kent I’ve relatives phoning asking if we’ve had any snow because they haven’t. We need to stop over dramatising and report accurately and improve predictions or just get someone to check on the validity of predictions just lately!

  65. Chris
    Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Theresa May has an article in the online D Tel tonight “I will battle for Britain in Brussels”. It may do her good to read the Comments section. It seems as though they do not believe her and she does not convince readers one bit. I don’t know why she thinks we are all so stupid that we can’t see through all her manoeuvrings and deception over the last two years. She seems to display a contempt for ordinary people believing that we will fall for her WA. Her MPs might, but it seems that many Brexiters do not want to have anything to do with it as they know it does not honour the Referendum result. It is a sellout.

  66. Peter D Gardner
    Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    What do you make of the EU’s instruction to IAG and others to change their ownership to majority EU nationals if they want to continue flying in the EU? Reported in the FT.
    If true this is precisely the sort of tactics we can expect during Mrs May’s transition period and beyond. Her deal presents the EU with an open goal. It must be stopped, backstop or no backstop.

  67. Simon Coleman
    Posted February 3, 2019 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    You’ve got no solutions to the Irish border, no solutions to maintaining frictionless trade, no solutions to EU recruitment shortages, no ideas about cross-party co-operation – absolutely nothing to offer. You’re just waiting for the clock to tick down to exit day and filling up the time by waffling on about Project Fear. What exactly were you knighted for? Did they tell you? It’s certainly not obvious.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 3, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      And you have solutions?
      All you do is rant from the sidelines and make sarcastic pro EU obsessed comments.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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