Just leave and table a Free Trade Agreement

On Tuesday EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom gave an interesting interview stating EU policy on the major trade issues around the world. The principal concerns were the EU/US relationship and the EU/China relationship.

She was also asked about the UK position. She said

“If the UK leaves fully the EU and becomes a third country, it will still be a European country, it will still be our friend, it will still be an ally and a very important trading partner, so obviously we will have to try to find as comprehensive a trade agreement as possible with that country. But obviously it will not be 100% seamless because they are leaving the common market. Obviously it is in our interest as well as the UK’s to have a trade agreement ”

I have always said we can just leave and that will work fine, but it would be better to have a Free Trade Agreement. I have always thought it much in the EU’s interest to have such an Agreement, but have pointed out they might want to damage themselves to damage us. It is important to know it is official EU policy to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement in good faith with the UK if we just leave. It is useful to know they want a comprehensive one, which is easy to do if both sides want it because we have tariff free trade at the moment. So why wont the UK government get on with it and table one? I am having another go at pressing the government to table an FTA, stop the Euro elections and leave.


  1. Pominoz
    May 2, 2019

    “I am having another go at pressing the government to table an FTA, stop the Euro elections and leave. ”

    Sir John, I really do wish you every success. We all deserve it!

    1. Julie Dyson
      May 2, 2019

      I agree with Pominoz, Sir John. There will doubtless be many disillusioned comments saying just give it up, stop banging your head against that brick wall, etc. I can understand why (and I’ve felt that down myself often enough) but the simple truth is we need someone in Parliament to keep fighting our corner and to continue pushing for a sensible solution to this mess — and something in line with what we actually voted for.

      Besides, if or when it all comes to nought, you can always join the growing Brexit Party, be lauded a hero of the people, and continue the good fight with the rest of us! (Yes, I’m also given to occasional mornings of fluffy optimism, albeit fewer these days!)

    2. Norman
      May 2, 2019

      Well said – stick to your guns, and don’t give up, Sir John.

    3. Hipe
      May 2, 2019

      JR, you are going around in pointless circles. Get rid of her. This is a traitor May issue not EU.

      Everyone in threat world knows May is the problem. Your 1922 committee thinks it is not! Enjoy your party’s slow painful death.

  2. formula57
    May 2, 2019

    There will be many in the UK establishment who will do us a great disservice by happily going along with Commissioner Malmstrom when she says of the UK ” it will still be our friend, it will still be an ally and a very important trading partner”. The EU has shown itself to be hostile to the UK: we need to treat it with realism to better protect ourselves.

    1. Caterpillar
      May 2, 2019

      Formula57 – what is this an argument for? Due diligence?

    2. David Price
      May 2, 2019

      I thought the same and agree completely with your sentiment.

  3. Dominic
    May 2, 2019

    I believe you are a moral, honest and decent human being but surely it is naive to believe that May will change direction unless she’s forced to do so

    This PM is without question utterly abhorrent. She’s become authoritarian, manipulative, destructive and her desire to eliminate her enemies borders on the manic. I believe she’s a danger to this nation’s people, our system of government and our Parliament.

    I suspect her next step will be to try and deselect Eurosceptic MPs at the next GE.

    You stay loyal to a party that died years ago but the consequences for the rest of the nation will be dire

    1. margaret
      May 2, 2019

      That is why this power game is so duplicitous without her we have a take over of remainer’s , with her we have a chance to change events.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      May 2, 2019

      Dear Dominic–Clear as can be that she wants to get her execrable agreement signed on absolutely any basis whatsover in hopes that that will make her legacy look better – but she is SOL even on that because in any event historians are not so stupid. She is repellent in the extreme. Hard to be sure but sounds as if Williamson not guilty–yet another wrong decision from her and No 10.

    3. Chris
      May 2, 2019

      Her performance in Committee under questioning from Bernard Jenkin and Bill Cash displayed arrogance, evasiveness, and contempt, I think. That ghastly smile and laugh when she attempts a put down is most unpleasant. Links on twitter.

  4. Old Albion
    May 2, 2019

    Stop banging your head on that wall JR, it’s pointless.

    1. Ian wragg
      May 2, 2019

      First the gods make them mad………

  5. Tory in Cumbria
    May 2, 2019

    A solution to keeping the Irish border invisible is needed. A solution to keeping the Irish border invisible is needed. A solution to keeping the Irish border invisible is needed. How many times does this need saying before you get it?

    1. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
      May 2, 2019

      @Tory in Cumbria: Here is a possible but not too likely scenario:

      * UK “just leaves” – but, unknown to Mr. Redwood – the reality on the ground stays the same.

      * Mrs May has a brexit and steps down

      * New UK leader – after general elections – doesn’t feel bound by all red lines, drops the support for the DUP demands and lets N. Ireland have a temporary (10 year) custom union with the EU. After 10 years there will be a technological solution and N.Ireland doesn’t need to continue the custom union.

      * The UK seems to have kept its 39bn, but which will still be paid to the EU over a longer period, after de-politicing it in the process of new FTA and other cooperation agreements.

      * Other current UK red lines can probably be kept intact.

    2. stred
      May 2, 2019

      TiC. ( pal of Stewart?)
      A camera registration system like the EU has been planning and the French have installed at Calais, but up the road from the border, like the VAT existing cameras. In fact, like the head of HMRC said would be ready last year. And with free travel for tradesmen and locals living near the border as proposed by the EU for border states and published on the internet for all to see. The whole of Northern Ireland could be considered a border area of the UK. The UK would pick up visitors with no right to stay as we are supposed to now with ‘tourists’ who arrive at Kings Cross daily. Perhaps with someone in charge of immigration more willing to do the job than previously.

      The backstop is a con, cooked up by May and the civil service with the Commission.

    3. libertarian
      May 2, 2019

      Tory in Cumbria

      How many times do you need to be told that there is already a simple solution, one that Irish , UK and EU customs experts all agree on.

      Do keep up

  6. Jaap
    May 2, 2019

    Incredible. You think this about tariffs? Really? Your comments would make sense if it was 1954. It is not. International trade concerns non tariff barriers. How can you not understand this? It is completely basic

    1. Know-Dice
      May 2, 2019

      Yes true, I’m making a conscious effort to buy only goods produced/manufactured/assembled in the UK.

      That includes plants from the Netherlands…

    2. libertarian
      May 2, 2019


      If you had ever traded overseas and in the EU you would know that there have ALWAYS been non tariff barriers within the EU. What is laughable is all the apologists that know all the drawbacks except they’ve never actually traded anywhere

      Your very silly line about 1954 just shows your ignorance of the entire subject. In the 1950’s there were far more non tariff protectionist barriers

      You might also want to read up on the WTO non tariff barrier rules

  7. Alan Jutson
    May 2, 2019

    Yes it all could have been so simple.!

    But then we had May in charge !

  8. Julie Williams
    May 2, 2019

    When the UK triggered Article 50 the EU had two clear choices: they could set out to punish us and prevent further countries wishing to leave (even if it was a purring victory in terms of trade) or they could be “magnanimous” and good neighbours as their constitution says they should: this showing the world what a free and inclusive organisation the EU is.
    It’s pretty clear which path they chose, the real surprise is how much our elected representatives aided them.
    I can’t see how the negotiations can be turned around now but the repercussions are going to enormous and it didn’t have to be that way.
    The longer it goes on, the more determined I am that leaving is right.

  9. Everhopeful
    May 2, 2019

    Anyway…they appear to have skipped off into the next daisy-filled field,Brexit abandoned!
    Now it is climate change with knobs on!
    No gas boilers…thousands more bird and bat mincers…millions of trees to be planted…no more dairy products…no more meat.
    So..no worries continuing mass immigration will help with all that.
    Six trees in the postage stamp garden of every new house. Forest floor vegetation.
    A world of fungi and anaemia ( no meat).
    A determination to destroy everything. As if they haven’t already done enough harm!!

    1. Chris
      May 2, 2019

      See Ben Pile twitter on how lobbyists/so called experts got onto the CC Committee and how responsibility was apparently just handed over to them to determine government policy. No cross party scrutiny or scrutiny from true scientists.

    2. hefner
      May 2, 2019

      EH, “A world of fungi and anaemia”: I have been a vegetarian since 1980, am now 67, with a 127/78 blood pressure and two months ago my last health check including blood tests was “all green”. If one does not know about things, could it be asking too much of such a person to just keep quiet.

      1. libertarian
        May 3, 2019


        Oh dear its a shame that you fail to understand that a sample of ONE PERSON doesn’t mean squat , is it too much to ask that you actually speak to a medical expert? After all you seem to like experts when they appear to agree with you.

        Heres the final paragraphs of an NCBI long term study

        A total of 27 cross-sectional studies and three interventional studies were selected for the systematic review. The meta-analysis which combined data of 24 cross-sectional studies showed that adult vegetarians have significantly lower serum ferritin levels than their non-vegetarian controls (-29.71 µg/L, 95% CI [-39.69, -19.73], p < 0.01). Inclusion of semi-vegetarian diets did not change the results considerably (-23.27 µg/L, 95% CI [-29.77, -16.76], p < 0.01). The effects were more pronounced in men (-61.88 µg/L, 95% CI [-85.59, -38.17], p < 0.01) than in both premenopausal women (-17.70 μg/L, 95% CI [-29.80, -5.60], p < 0.01) and all women (-13.50 μg/L, 95% CI [-22.96, -4.04], p < 0.01), respectively.

        In conclusion our results showed that vegetarians are more likely to have lower iron stores compared with non-vegetarians.

        Hmmm wrong again then heffielump

  10. Edwardm
    May 2, 2019

    It’s right to push for an FTA as it is a sensible arrangement.
    Unfortunately Mrs May doesn’t do sensible.

  11. Fred H
    May 2, 2019

    Any friendship that once existed at a country to country level has long since died. I cannot forgive the hostile, bitter and childish spite that has characterised so much of the EU personnel’s pronouncements. Lets all be friends? Sorry NO!
    If we leave , and with the present PM, it is a big IF, I will personally continue to avoid things imported from EU. That will be difficult of course, but source ought to become clearer.

    As to whatever trading continues, leaving might encourage our entrepreneurs to work harder at replacing EU goods with UK made ones.

    1. margaret howard
      May 2, 2019

      Fred H

      ” I cannot forgive the hostile, bitter and childish spite that has characterised so much of the EU personnel’s pronouncements. Lets all be friends? Sorry NO!”

      Can you give a few examples? I read many EU newspaper on a daily basis and Britain and Brexit are seldom mentioned. Certainly I have never noticed any spite or malice.

      1. Edward2
        May 2, 2019

        Anything Guy Verhofstadt says.
        He is so aggressively anti UK
        What is the matter with the man?

      2. libertarian
        May 3, 2019

        margate howard

        Really ? Really ? You’ve never heard Barneir talk of punishing the UK? You haven’t heard the daily rantings of Verhofstadt ? Junkers silly outbursts , the Irish bloke and his insults to his countrys biggest market

        Dont believe you

        1. hefner
          May 4, 2019

          … as reported in your daily rag?

    2. stred
      May 2, 2019

      I confess to pinching a slice of my bird’s Gounda today. EU products have been off for the last six months but I cracked when there was no Cheddar.

  12. nshgp
    May 2, 2019

    1. IF we leave?
    2. They want to be friends? They are acting the opposite.

  13. Mark B
    May 2, 2019

    Good morning

    Alas your Leader and the majority of the parliamentary party do not want to Leave, as demonstrated by the fact that they have voted against Leaving, favouring BINO.

  14. Bryan Harris
    May 2, 2019

    May is not going to give up this fight willingly, and it will just go on forever, as hopefully, there will always be enough MP’s to thwart her, see through her surrender-deal, and vote against her.

    Even if we have legally left the EU under UK law, we are told EU law will not recognize that fact, so either May is forced out or this government should be forced to fall on it’s collective sword – BUT how do we make this happen?

    1. jane4brexit
      May 2, 2019

      Voting UKIP if you have a local election today will be a small action towards showing your displeasure or ‘none’, which votenone.org online explains is counted, and if you do the first as a bonus I have read that UKIP are good in Council positions.

      UKIP say to Leave they would repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and Batten explains how that would work online. So voting for them in the EU elections might be a good idea and as they are the party that all other parties, who have let us down and not kept to manifesto promises, seem to want us not to vote for such a vote might be satisfying in itself for that reason.

      However without a real conservative Conservative Leader and conservative Conservative Leave supporting MPs, as you say May could still go on indefinitely… You might enjoy reading The Conservative Woman’s “The toppling of Theresa…” daily series of articles, if you don’t already, for more ideas..

  15. Turboterrier.
    May 2, 2019

    Sir John.

    Your devotion to the party and the country is unquestionable but surely there comes a time at the table to know when to hold, fold walk and run. This woman and her cohorts have not only hit the iceberg but they have gone round on a circle to hit it again. The perception is they are all hell bent on destroying the country and this once great party. I along with many others think it is about time you seriously consider jumping ships before you get dragged down with it..

    1. Timaction
      May 2, 2019

      The whole of the ERG and the rest who want to leave without the WA should leave the Tory Party now. It’s obvious May has sunk her Party beneath the water line and trust cannot be restored for at least a generation, if ever.

  16. James Wallace-Dunlop
    May 2, 2019

    I agree that an FTA is best, that the EU is not offering one at the moment, and so the optimal course is now to leave and strike an FTA from outside.

    Mrs May is not going to do this. It is difficult to see what good can be achieved until we have a new PM. Although Corbyn would be a disaster economically and on much of foreign policy, it now looks as if, had he won in 2017, he could scarcely have done a worse job of leaving than May (Two years ago Corbyn was anti CU and probably more sincere than May in his promise to respect and implement the referendum result)

    The WA is worse than remain. Yes a strong Leave government could break out of the WA, but, if we were still in the EU, such a government could also leave, and with fewer complications than it would face if tied up by the WA.

    To see how bad it is, one only needs to look at the enthusiasm for the WA among enemies of Brexit (if not necessarily also enemies of the UK): Barnier, Junker, Merkel, Ollie Robbins & Mark Sedwell. They want us to have a Brexit that makes us non-voting members without vote, veto, or A50 escape route. They want to prevent the creation of the constituency of Brexit winners that would arise when the UK starts to open up trade with the fast growing Asian, African & American markets. By eliminating the upside to Brexit they hope to pave the way for resumed membership.

    As the WA is so bad, some other things fall into place

    1. Delaying Brexit is preferable to the WA. The WA would taint Brexit, and allow Remainers to say ‘none of the promised benefits have materialised’

    2. A second referendum is preferable to the WA. It would be rigged (perhaps even WA vs remain) and the BBC would not even try to be impartial, but a loss would not be fatal long term. The genie is out of the bottle, Leavers know they are the majority, and the statements from the EU over the last 3 years alone will be nails in the coffin of UK consent to membership. The ‘demographic argument’ does not work, a similar analysis of GE voters for the last 50 years would show younger people favouring socialism, but as they age and gain experience, they change their views. Those in their 50s don’t vote as they did on the 1980s when they were in their 20s.

    3. Any exit from the EU that does not bind future parliaments is preferable to the WA. If there were a commons majority for joining EFTA/EEA then doing that without the WA would be fine. A customs union would be crazy, and I don’t see how one would occur without the EU’s favoured WA, but were one tacked on to EEA membership, even that would be preferable to the WA. Voters would rapidly support our leaving the Customs Union. What party would not want to be campaigning on the basis of ‘Norway’ is better than ‘Norway + CU’? Particularly as, having left the EU, we could sign trade agreements on the basis of ‘starting when the UK leaves the CU’

    I wish you success in your pursuit of Brexit, and thank you for your work to that end.

  17. Gareth Warren
    May 2, 2019

    It is clearly in the EU’s interest to have a FTA with us since it protects their members trade, the realities of not having one puts them at a serious competitive disadvantage if another nation such as the achieves one.

    While I considered myself a capitalist who desires a small state the state still needs to be paid for, I do not think this country would be worse off with import tariffs if we could do without VAT. Such an arrangement may even be better overall.

    If we leave the EU under WTO rules then I am sure in the long run the future will be good, likely with a FTA with the EU. In the short term though it is clear that politically the EU relations will be bad because brexit’s success undermines the point of the EU. We need a PM and other political leaders who understand this reality.

    The end of May is likely to be true in both senses of the word, I certainly will not vote for a conservative party that puts the interest of the EU before the UK, nor does my local conservative MP (Tom) disagree with the current government line.

  18. Dennis Zoff
    May 2, 2019

    Negotiation psychology. The art of successful negotiation is understanding your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, without fully disclosing one’s own?

    May I suggest figuring out T. May’s personal drivers; this would be a move in the right direction?……you may even discover a face-saving proposition?

    Tacit I agree, but very often missed by inexperienced negotiators?

    Good luck

  19. graham1946
    May 2, 2019

    ‘Why won’t the UK government get on with it?’

    Is that a serious question? In case it is, I give the simplest answer – the government doesn’t want Brexit at all so sees no need to push for an FTA which would give effect to it.. The EU have said they will only negotiate after the surrender document is passed, but that is just BS to frighten the gullible.
    Leave without a deal and the FTA will be on the table within hours. Not with May at number 10 though. We can only hope that the local elections will give the Tories some backbone and get rid (although my opinion is that mostly they want her to do what she is doing as they don’t want Brexit either and she will take the can for whatever happens). Win Win for the supine spineless Tories. Pity the Brexit Party did not have time to get into the elections, but they will in due course.

  20. David Porter
    May 2, 2019

    I am confused. I thought we needed Paliaments approval to leave with no deal, but Parliament have aready voted that off the table.

  21. agricola
    May 2, 2019

    Government/May will not do it because they can only see the UK as a province of the EU not as a sovereign nation state. I acquaint them with an employee , civil servant, in a safe for life job who is totally fearful of becoming self employed and having to make all decisions concerning their lives with none of the life saving aids associated with work in the civil service.
    They are terrified of the real world.

    1. agricola
      May 2, 2019

      Equate, sorry.

    2. graham1946
      May 2, 2019

      The politicians want to be in government but don’t want to govern. They are terrified of responsibility and from what I can see, with much cause. Was there ever in history such an appallingly untalented and gutless Parliament?

  22. John Lewis
    May 2, 2019

    I’m right behind you Sir. All power to your arm. I do not trust this woman one iota. She lies and lies to us and seems permanently on her knees in the company of EU officials. There are powers at work that the likes of I can only guess at. I just pray that it is a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man.
    Please keep up the good work and my apologies for only reading your articles on numerous occasions without making comment.

  23. Roy Grainger
    May 2, 2019

    There’s no point John, you are in a minority in your own party and your views will be ignored. The only way forward is for voters to vote against the entire Conservative party, starting today.

    1. agricola
      May 2, 2019

      True, but you will sadly lose a lot of good councillors who quite possibly are closer to the thinking in this diary than the parliamentary party who are responsible for their demise. Then we have the EU vote, in effect a 2nd referendum and a confidence building exercise for the Brexit Party. The BP then need to evolve a manifesto in preparation for the next GE. Not such a difficult task when you look at the deficiencies of all the left wing leaning parties in the HoC. I have a list for reference in my Note Book.

  24. BillM
    May 2, 2019

    Thick heads and thick ears are part of Government’s DNA. They listen only to themselves and to Brussels.
    It looks like everyone one (Individual Government Departments and the Private Sector) is prepared for a “No Deal” exit, bar Mrs May and her sycophants in Cabinet. What is wrong with these people? Why are WE waiting?

  25. villaking
    May 2, 2019

    Sir John,
    You know very well that the EU will not open a negotiation on an FTA until the details of our withdrawal agreement are sorted out. They have stated that clearly. You also know that this is not the government’s sole decision, parliamentary support is needed and there is no widespread support for the no-deal (WTO exit) outcome. You haven’t worked at the sharp end of a small manufacturing company for some time and believe me, we are very grateful for that bit of common sense in the Commons. So it seems to me that your quest is futile and I don’t understand why you don’t reshape your position based on those realities.
    I would add that the repeated implications that the EU is a hostile force is unhelpful to public debate, fuelling unnecessary outrage. It seems to me that the EU’s desires to maintain the integrity of its most important economic asset (the Single Market), reach agreement with us on the financial commitments we had made and protect the rights of its citizens post Brexit are wholly reasonable and understandable in stark contrast to our unrealistic objectives of “cake and eat it”

    Reply The EU gas just said it wants to negotiate a trade treaty if we just leave!

    1. Henry Carter
      May 3, 2019

      The EU has said the exact opposite. If the UK reneges on the agreed Withdrawal Agreement, there will be NO talks about trade.

  26. ian
    May 2, 2019

    6 of JUNE D DAY for the BREXIT party.

    1. margaret howard
      May 2, 2019


      Highly unlikely. Looks more like Remain every day.

  27. acorn
    May 2, 2019

    Who in government is writing this Free Trade Agreement you want offered and what page do you think they have got to? The phrase “we have tariff free trade at the moment”, will be meaningless once we become a EU third country.

    The latest version of NAFTA is 2,000 pages long! The TPP agreement, before Trump ditched it was 5,622 pages long. CETA is 1,634 pages and that is one of the compact “comprehensive economic” class of agreements.

  28. John O'Leary
    May 2, 2019

    Why do you always bang on about tariffs and completely ignore the issue of regulatory alignment with the EU without which there can be no frictionless trade, with or without a FTA?

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    May 2, 2019

    The one good thing about the extension to 31st October is that it gives ample time to negotiate and implement a managed No Deal. There is no excuse for not doing it and if the Government fails to act then that is gross negligence. And that would be reason enough on its own to bring the Government down and force a General Election.

  30. ian
    May 2, 2019

    You have a defeatist attitude, 6 of June is the Peterborough by election, don’t bother with the media because it is gov run, wait your turn and have your say at the next election and in the meantime take no notice of their silly games, the people will be making the decision of what will happen when the time is right.


  31. stred
    May 2, 2019

    This was our only strong negotiating card, which is why May, Hammond, the top civil service and finally all the traitors in parliament undermined and finally removed it. The only way to leave is to bring down the government, force a general election, join the Brexit Party and fight under Brexit Conservative and Brexit Labour. Brexit labour would not be as bad as Momentum Marxist. Clean up parliament. Install intelligent people who can tell the truth.

    1. Rien Huizer
      May 4, 2019

      @ Stred,

      I am a bit behind on my following Redwood these days. Repetitive, both article and comments. Anyway, I suggest you add a strong leader to your list. That would place you in the political equivalent of Hungary, or one othe less enlightened US states. And do not forget freedom to carry arms..

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