Coffee House

Europe’s new iron curtain

23 November 2012

10:39 AM

23 November 2012

10:39 AM

The last 24 hours have yielded no agreement in Europe, and they have seen David Cameron’s ambitions decline (he appears resigned to the fact that EU spending will not be limited to 886bn euros, his original objective); but they have also demonstrated that Britain is far from alone at the diplomatic table. David Cameron has been able to forge pragmatic alliances and exert diplomatic pressure precisely. For example, his latest tactic at the budget discussions is to appeal to the downtrodden nations of southern Europe by insisting that the EU’s bureaucracy take its own medicine by raising retirement age and cutting jobs and reducing the final salary pension cap. The EU says that such changes would be ‘legally difficult’; the British government retorts that these proposals are not dramatic and that most European governments have already implemented them.

Cameron is not afraid to antagonise; indeed, he can see that much is to be gained by confrontation. Jose Manuel Barosso is said to have responded to Cameron’s administrative proposals defensively, while President Van Rompuy reportedly met them with silence. The result is that the EU’s leadership looks conceited and cloistered. This impression was compounded when the UK published details of Eurocrats’ salaries, housing allowances and various other perks, a move that the Guardian says has prompted ‘anger’ among Brussels’ cosseted technocrats. The British government is able to take this provocative line because it has some support among member states – the Danes, the Swedes, the Dutch and the Portuguese are believed to be unhappy with, to varying degrees and for different reasons, Van Rompuy’s latest proposal to impose a ‘payment ceiling’ of 940bn euros.

The challenge, though, is to build sufficiently cohesive coalitions across the various theatres of the budget in order to force the EU into a general retreat; but this appears to be impossible. For example, there seems to be room for manoeuvre with Germany over cuts to the CAP. On the other hand, Boursier.com reports that the French and Italians are open to further savings in the EU budget so long as the CAP remains untouched and the rebate system is reformed so that Britain, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands contribute what the writers call ‘leurs propres contributions’. It’s worth pointing out that these proposed changes to the rebate system are also part of the new Van Rompuy plan, deemed ‘unacceptable’ by some of the countries listed above.

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The Sun, though, has a different line. It reports that Francois Hollande will support David Cameron’s budget freeze if payments to the CAP are increased. The Sun reckons that such a move will also increase the size of the British rebate. This might be attractive to Cameron, especially as the rebate is expected to fall over the course of the next few years as more money is diverted to ‘new Europe’.

‘New’ Europe seems to be Cameron’s stumbling block at these negotiations. If you read the French press this morning, you will reach the conclusion that the Poles are leading ‘new’ Europe at this meeting, setting out red lines against certain negotiating positions. This has severely limited Cameron’s options: no concerted attempt appears to have yet been made to reform EU cohension funds or the CAP, which between them account for 2/3rds of EU spending. Therefore, in addition to trimming the administrative budget, Cameron has sought a reduction in infrastructure projects, the so-called ‘Connecting Europe’ growth scheme. He has had some success: convincing Van Rompuy to make a 4.5bn euro cut: but this is some way short of the objective of a 20bn euro cut. I’m told that further reductions to the ‘Connecting Europe’ scheme are unlikely due to opposition from Eastern European countries as well as from what might be termed the Keynesian lobby at Brussels.

None of this will come as a surprise if you saw the Polish Foreign Minister’s piece in Guardian earlier this week, which warned Cameron against cuts to growth and cohesion funds. He said that EU schemes, which amount to 52 per cent of the investment in Poland, represent ‘our very own “Marshall Plan”… to right the wrong we suffered at the 1945 Yalta Conference’. His emotional blackmail did not end there: he added a thinly veiled threat about these negotiations being a ‘test’ of Britain and Poland’s friendship.

The differences between old and new, east and west, are not insurmountable (and, indeed, they are not purely geographical because Francois Hollande, for instance, has lent his support to those nations in receipt of EU cohension funds who also favour substantial growth investment, not all of which lie to the east of the Oder); but they are significant nonetheless. Perhaps this explains why the European press (and indeed Europe’s political class) is pretty unanimous this morning in its view that agreement is unlikely to be reached, no matter how far the talks reach into the night.

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Show comments
  • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

    Exit David Cameron.

    Enter new Tory leader Nick Boles.

  • BARMOUTH FAN

    I have only got round to looking up EEA on WIKI this week.

    EFTA forms EEA with EU – EFTA members Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

    EFTA members :-

    1)have access to SINGLE MARKET

    2)do not pay EU CONTRIBUTIONS

    3)pay much LOWER single market contributions – Norway pays about 200m a year – UK’s net EU contribution is 7.3 BILLION although as a much bigger economy we could expect to pay a lot more than 200m.

    4)EFTA members have no input into single market DECISION-making. There are other nations in EU who want FREE markets – Germany Holland Scandinavians E Europeans PARTICULARLY BALTICS, so I don’t think we would be disadvantaged. Restoring say 5 BILLION PER ANNUM of budget cuts to POLICE or other desirable areas of expenditure is VERY ATTRACTIVE. I’m probably an ultra, but if it saved the LIFE of just ONE person who is in the wrong place at the wrong time it would be worth doing and it would do much MORE than that.

    • HooksLaw

      ‘Access to the single market’ means complying with EU regulations and EU movement of labour laws.
      ‘Through the EEA Agreement Norway is part of an integrated European labour market. The rules cover free movement of workers, mutual recognition of diplomas, social security, health and safety at work, labour law and equal treatment of women and men.’
      http://www.eu-norway.org/eu/policyareas/Labour/

      Norway works out as the 10th largest net contributor to the EU. I find it remarkable that you have only now decided to find out about the EEA.

      • BARMOUTH FAN

        the WIKI figure is 1167m over 5 years and that is for Norway Liechtenstein and Iceland. What is the figure in £ /Euro that you have? Why does WIKI say that SINGLE MARKET contributions are much lower than EU contributions? Of course being in the SINGLE MARKET carries lots of obligations. If being in EFTA rather than EU would be BILLIONS of pounds cheaper then that money should be spent on restoring as much of cuts to POLICE budgets as possible.

  • paulus

    Whats the point of cutting infrastructure, infrastructure we need as well to ship goods about, what is Cameron playing at, the CAP must be cut, audited and targetted. Its the french he needs to isolate and beat.

    • BARMOUTH FAN

      Eastern Europe – Poland Hungary with out of date farming equipment – are very keen on CAP – THIS IS NEGOTIABLE – Poland’s economy has been doing well according to reports. Lots of plant relocation ? CADBURY

      • Noa

        And my now foul tasting HP sauce!

    • 2trueblue

      Blair gave away half of our rebate in return for the CAP review and walked away with nothing. So when you all gang up on Cameron, I am no fan, please remember that Liebore had 13yrs and just caved in in every way and signed us up to daft carbon emission target. But of course that is never remembered.

  • TomTom

    Read Die Welt today and the article on France showing how Louis XIV bankrupted the nation and how France has a habit of living way beyond its means. Germany is up-anchoring and looking at France with disgust as just another Greece in the making…..Hollande needs Britain because it cannot any longer blackmail Germany. Time for Britain to play the game the way Lord Salisbury did before Viscount Grey locked us into French political games after 1906………Distance would be a good move.
    Hollande will face the same situation as in Spain before long

    • HooksLaw

      of Germany Grey said that the British
      ‘ do resent mischief making. They suspect the Emperor of aggressive plans of Weltpolitik, and they see that Germany is forcing the pace in armaments in order to dominate Europe’

      Of the Kaiser he said
      ‘he is like a battleship with steam up and screws going, but with no
      rudder, and he will run into something some day and cause a catastrophe.
      He has the strongest army in the world and the Germans don’t like being laughed at and are looking for somebody on whom to vent their temper and use their strength.’

      He read Germany and the Kaiser well.
      British foreign policy has always been to ensure no one nation had hegemony in Europe. It therefor follows that a ‘hegenomous’ Europe is still not British policy.

  • Remittance Man

    What you’re saying is that each of the 27 member states has a different agenda. Broadly speaking this boils down to three main blocks. The northerners are fed up paying in more than they get back. The Club Med is sickened by waste in Brussels but doesn’t want to lose the cash it manages to grab.
    And the French, as ever, are petrified that unless they can keep bribing their peasants to stay in the countryside, they will descend upon Paris and take all the best seats in the cafes. On top of this they also fear that cuts to the Brussels bureaucracy will mean armies of their surplus oxygen thieves apparatchiki returning to Paris.
    Against this, the eu apparat is determined to defend what it sees as its God given right to vacuum the pockets of the eu’s population for their own benefit.

  • http://twitter.com/ianwalkeruk Ian Walker

    Why do we have to even have a referendum? If the Conservatives had an gumption they’d make withdrawal a manifesto promise, and win by a landslide.

  • Bluesman

    Article 50.

  • IRISHBOY

    “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

    • 2trueblue

      Should be, but these people do not play by the rules. and are a bunch of deceitful, greedy bullies. The threats that we would suffer if we were no in the club……… That is a redundant playground bully line. We should call it. The usual line is that we are just a little island…. The whole thing is wrong and the argument is not on the level. The agenda was solidified in Blairs/Browns/Liebores reign and should have been made more open. Frankly we are being had.

      • IRISHBOY

        Indeed. One can imagine the FCO team choking on their Earl Grey if anyone was to be so terribly Non-U to suggest such a thing.

        There are so many good reasons for the break up of the EU immediately, let’s for the sake of conciseness call them natural laws of reality.

        This guff spouted day in day out about the importance of the single market, by people who have never made a penny for themselves except as the fruits of tax confiscation, ignores the one and the only concept that is necessary to grasp in order to understand what a market is, and that is ‘difference’. Any apple seller, any kid in a playground bargaining with marbles and conkers understand this, yet the EU has spent decades in ‘harmonising’ so there are no differences. This is especially, and now obviously, catastrophic because, apart from the UK, most EU countries mostly trade with each other, but with no differences, they can’t adjust or enhance market differences to trade their way out of present grief.

        That an ideology as sub-normally simplistic as socialism can perversely do such damage to so many millions and yet remain so haughty is incredible. People like Barosso and Rumpuy need a bollocking by reality. Negotiation can never do good. It implies that there is an acceptable mid-point between good and bad, success and failure.

  • Noa

    ‘our very own “Marshall Plan”.

    In threatening the UK the Polish Foreign Minister ignores the substantial indirect contribution the UK already makes to the Polish economy though the export of sterling by the milion plus Poles already living in the UK and repatriating a large proportion of their wages and welfare benefits.

    Such comments merely further inflame and infuriate British taxpayers.

  • mcclane

    ‘Francois Hollande … has leant his support to those nations in receipt of EU cohension fund’

    It’s ‘lent’. Is that so difficult?

    • David Blackburn

      Many thanks for pointing the typo out, much appreciated. Corrected now.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Does my suggestion that David Cameron has, as was widely predicted, failed yet again, not meet with editorial approval?

  • an ex-tory voter

    Why has my post been deleted?

    • David Blackburn

      It hasn’t been. It reads: Cut out the veriage and the story reads “as widely predicted Cameron
      fails to prevent a huge increase in the UK’s contribution to the EU”.

  • Vulture

    Let’s leave.

    We are fed up with having our pockets picked by Maoist monkeys like Barroso and political pygmies like Rumpy.

    The French and Polish peasants want us to continue pouring cash into their bottomless pits and the Germans are scared of being left alone to foot the bill for the whole stinking mess.

    The truth is that the EU was skewed against us from when we joined. They still need our money – but they hate us like poison. A United Europe ? Yeah, right….

    • dalai guevara

      If it was as you describe, why is it that the Germans appear more relaxed about paying more? Is it because they have sussed us out to do the dirty work for them? Britain is forever playing the ‘bad cop’ role and it has become quite predictable. DC going into talks with the rhetoric displayed even before they started does not put him into a position of strength and he can only return with bad news – there is no other possible outcome for him.

      • Vulture

        I don’t think they do appear relaxed. Frau Merkel paid a special pre-summit trip to London to lecture us about what we were expected to do, and there was a parade of German politicians on Channel 4 News the other night also wagging their Teutonic fingers about the nasty Brits. But you are right that we have been set up nicely as the scapegoats of Europe to blame for their self-created problems. All the more reason for us to get out and leave them to it. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being nagged and bullied. Sod them.

        • dalai guevara

          Nagged and bullied.
          Are we not nagged and bullied whenever a UN security council decision is not really to our liking, but we go with what the big bro says?
          Are we not nagged and bullied when US local councils threaten litigation against our banks with regard to financial products offered to them?
          Are we not nagged and bullied when Chinese capital will increasingly find ways of taking over UK infrastructure assets?

          I can think of much bigger issues than the EU diversion game played by so many today…and it really is just about peanuts. All this hot air, for peanuts.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, for some, sovereignty is “peanuts”.

            How sad.

            • HooksLaw

              No its important. But you pointedly refuse to engage with the argument.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                No, I’d say most conservatives pointedly refuse to engage with you, son.

          • TomTom

            UN Security Council decisions cannot go against a Veto Power

            • dalai guevara

              Good point. So an argument for a CoE-type arrangement? 2/3 majority or ‘taking everyone with you’, otherwise no change?

        • ArchiePonsonby

          No, no, Vulture! This is “working for change from within”, and as we can see, it’s all going swimmingly!

      • Colonel Mustard

        Can’t imagine anyone less likely for a ‘bad cop’ role than Mr Wobbly Blancmange whose only passion seems to arise from limp-wristed and wimpish soap opera trivia no doubt prompted by his tattooed wife and is only ever delivered from the sanctimony pulpit and couched in terms of his own personal values. Thank God he is not a son of the manse or it would just be too bloody tedious.

        • telemachus

          Were he only

          *

          I am reminded of Turnbull’s attempt at put down of this genius

          *

          One of the final attacks from Blair’s camp to stop Brown taking over
          as prime minister was from the Lord Turnbull. He accused Brown of
          having a “Stalinist ruthlessness” and saying he was like “Macavity’s cat”.

          (The cat the TS Eliot poem. “He always has an alibi, and
          one or two to spare: At whatever time the deed took place – Macavity wasn’t there)
          Brown would have had the steel to see off the leeches-you are correct about wibbly wobbly Cameron.
          As to the Macavity he engineered the boom years when he was at the Treasury. But sadly Darling let things slip.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Quiet please. Enough of you this week already. Go and continue your love-in with the ogre Brown and the thug Balls elsewhere.

          • Telechmus the brainless

            Oh ok, so it was Darling’s fault now. Anybody but your idiot idol Brown. DC’s speech also applies to you I think, time to get out of your parallel universe.

      • HooksLaw

        Germany’s formal EU contributions pale when compared to the vast amounts it is in hock to with the Eurozone zombie states.

        • 2trueblue

          Their choice and price for selling their goods at ‘Greek’ prices.

          • HooksLaw

            Correct and they should pay the price – its the logical consequence of the Euro.
            I only point out its a massive price compared with the EU budget contributions.
            I would have thought it would be in germany’s interst to pander to us actually, but sanity in relation to the EU is in small supply from any quarter.

            • 2trueblue

              And they are fed up that we do not belong to the euro, which would tie us even more to the problem.

        • dalai guevara

          Yes,they have clear interests in the current set up. If it wasn’t for Germany, the situation would perhaps be much more dire. I suspect they are aware of this and will in essence ‘bite the bullet’.

      • TomTom

        Merkel has an Election in 2013 and is terrified of the Haircut German taxpayers must take on Greece…….she is busy discrediting her rival Steinbrueck……but will only pay more into the EU if the EU becomes less French and more German

        • dalai guevara

          Steinbrueck is discrediting himself. Merkel does not need to engage, she will be the only western leader to be reelected since Lehmann.

    • Ali

      I wish I could add more than one +1 to your statement. Time to be like the Nordics (semi associated) or Switzerland….. most of the EU appear to hate us but like our money. Not a good basis is it? That said Cameron got some really good write ups in the German press on his stance.

      • telemachus

        I recall the German Press and Nobility pouring love on the English particularly English Arists in the late 1930’s

        • Noa

          Damn good memory you’ve got Comrade!
          Did you find an old copy of Beobachter Zeitung under your baled copies of Izvestia?

  • an ex-tory voter

    Cut out the veriage and the story reads “as widely predicted Cameron fails to prevent a huge increase in the UK’s contribution to the EU”

  • toco10

    Failure to agree in the medium term is an excellent result as it exposes the EU as an obsolete entity in urgent need of fundamental reform.The fat cats who sit at the administrative centre frustrating member countries’ efforts to stimulate their economies and create employment should simply be told enough is enough and there are no more cheques coming their way to fritter away.Indeed a 30 % immediate reduction in their pay and perks would represent a good starting point and introduce some reality to the situation.

  • Adrian Drummond

    How very annoying and deceitful – this so-called term “investment” is no more than a word that disguises a version of state subsidy.

  • Jebediah

    Tiresome nonsense. Let’s have a referendum proposal in the 2015 Conservative manifesto. Stop the squabbling and let the British public decide. Politicians, if they believe in the EU, and they all say they do, should have the guts to argue their case in front of the electorate. If their case is good, they should be OK.

    • HooksLaw

      Your notion is flawed. A referendum about what? A pig in a poke? A referendum needs to know what our relationship would be if we were out. For that there has to be a set of negotiations take place before any referendum.
      Something needs to happen before that and it might well be the new fiscal treaty between the Eurozone members.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18193437

      • Jebediah

        No my notion is quite simple. Stay in the EU or leave. If we vote to leave then we negotiate how. If we don’t know if we want to stay or leave, on what exactly do we negotiate? How long does it take? What would compell anybody to take it seriously. Your reasoning I feel is backwards merely to serve your desire for obsfucation and false absolutism “Your notion is flawed.”

        • HooksLaw

          Your notion is flawed. We vote to leave and then negotiate? What sort of hand is that?
          You demonstrate the regular nutjob fallacy, you have no idea what being out of the EU means and what needs negotiating. The EU will not go away, if out we still have to deal with it.

          There is no obfuscation except from the UKIPers who regularly visit la la land.
          How do we retain access to the single market? You have no concept of what a trade agreement entails. Look at how long it is taking Canada to negotiate with the EU, look at the questions raised oin the NAFTA agreement. Look at the time taken between Australia and USA and the disputes.

          ‘What is there to negotiate’. What a numpty.

          • Jebediah

            I see, you resort to insult when your assertions are questioned.. “numpty” and “nutjob fallacy”. Presumably you are gifted with some sort of divine knowledge that makes your word law. I’m afraid you need to grow up and accept that sometimes people will disagree with you. Resorting to childish name calling merely demonstrates intellectual fragility.

            • HooksLaw

              Stop wimping. You refuse to see the argument – its clear I have put it clearly numerous times. But lets repeat it.

              Being out of the EU means still abiding by countless thousand EU regulations it means still paying in at least 2 billion a year to the EU it would probably mean still complying with internal labour market rules. The UK will still want access to the single market – that is what a free trade agreement is. But you naively think the EU will give it away free.

              The fundamental point is that all your bile is based on just a small difference in reality. Quite frankly in being wilfuly ignorant as you are I think you are getting off easy.

              For the record, the Eurozone is a predictable mess we are well of out of and the EU were a bunch of fools to enter into it so casually.

              The EU itself should be shorn of its political fancies and appendages.

              But as the Eurozone continues it is inevitable that the Eurozone members will grow closer fiscally and politically and we will grow more distant from it. That will require a new treaty and a new arrangement for us. If we are lucky we will get some arrangement like Norway and if we are really lucky we may still retain some measure of say in what goes on in the single market. This is what ‘negotiation’ is all about.

              But rest assured the real difference from now will little different – the big difference is facing us now, we will not be in the Eurozone.

              • fubarroso

                I just have to pull you up on a couple of points.

                Being out of the EU means still abiding by countless thousand EU regulations

                No it doesn’t! Only those goods destined for EU member states need abide by EU regulations. That excludes nearly 60% of our exports.

                The UK will still want access to the single market – that is what a free trade agreement is

                The Single Market is nothing like a free-trade agreement. The Single Market is a custom’s union – a closed shop in fact! It also comes with an awful lot of attached baggage such as the Working Time Directive, that we could well do without.

                • Noa

                  “No it doesn’t! Only those goods destined for EU member states need
                  abide by EU regulations. That excludes nearly 60% of our exports”.

                  Spot on fubarosso.
                  As I’ve also pointed out to Hooky previous; the cost of compliance moves from the taxpayer to the exporter, which is why the CBI moans about its loss of public subsidy.

                • fubarroso

                  Good very good point Noa!

              • Jebediah

                Hookslaw,
                Your name perhaps is an interesting choice about the nature of infallibility. I’ll put it more simply for you… I do not agree with you, I believe your assumptions and conclusions are wrong. There, quite simple really, no “bile” no “nutjobs”, nothing “absurd”, no tantrums and no insults.

              • BARMOUTH FAN

                Hollande has said that the budget is the ‘INVIOLABLE PREROGATIVE’ of the nation state.The Dutch do not want a fiscal union or the Austrians or the Finns. Mrs Merkel desires it because it feeds into the narrative of Europe and because it would allow Germany to control expenditure in nations with overspends. Germany Finland and Holland had a meeting to row back on the ESM as seemingly agreed on 29.6. It is not to apply to ‘LEGACY debts’ ie all the bank problems to date. On Banking Union Mrs Merkel’s approach was to delay anything SUBSTANTIVE until after German elections in autumn 2013.

          • fubarroso

            Your notion is flawed. We vote to leave and then negotiate? What sort of hand is that?

            As you are so clever perhaps you could point out where in any EU treaty it says that a member state can renegotiate from the inside?

            No negotiation is possible unless the UK invokes Article 50 of TFEU, which announces an intention to leave within a maximum period of 2 years (unless extended by joint agreement). Once Article 50 is invoked we cease to have any say in anything that the EU does and presumably can therefore cease handing over £53million/day.

            The only alternative way out- prematurely repealing the ECA would be far more chaotic economically, however unfettered access to the single market is not everything. We would survive as an outsider.

            • HooksLaw

              The Eurozone are the ones who will need a new treaty. You and others persist in your wilful ignorance

              • fubarroso

                Sorry, but where did I mention a new treaty? I was referring to our abiding by existing treaties – or not abiding as the case may be!

            • Colonel Mustard

              May I just say how much I appreciate your pseudonym. It makes me smile when I think of that slimy Marxist and your sentiment towards him.

              • fubarroso

                Why thank you Colonel. I’m rather puzzled about what to change my moniker to when Barroso steps down. The same prefix will obviously not work, but I guess I will have to cross that hurdle when the time comes.

      • TomTom

        Peter Oborne thinks the CIA funded the 1975 Referendum……..maybe we could ask JIll Kelley to get them to arrange another ?

        • fubarroso

          I think Oborne meant that the CIA funded the “Stay In” campaign.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      They’ll cheat. Most of their arguments are lies or rely on false assumptions. We can’t have a fair debate until the BBC is sorted out. Cue Hooky to make my point for me.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The Soviet Union might have lost the Cold War but the communists didn’t. Politburo stuff from Barroso and Rompuy.

    • Justathought

      Also why are we contributing to a “Marshall Plan” for Poland when we are already supporting 1 million Polish here? The Polish Foreign Minister would be wise to consider that when we leave the EU the status of Polish (who have not taken up citizenship) will be that of tourists (no longer entitled to welfare).

      • HooksLaw

        There are about half a million Poles here.

        Norway is not in the EU but it is a member of Schengen. It also has a high level of inward EU immigration. It is a party to EU immigration rules.
        Norway currently pays c.340 million euros per annum. This is more than many EU member states. if a mamber it would be about the 10th biggest net contributor.

        One day you will wake up and stop making fatuous remarks when your own arguments are shot full of holes.

        • Jebediah

          Perhaps one day you will stop needlessly insulting people when they don’t agree with you. Shouting, blustering and insulting when people disagree is, it seems to me, more the mark of a bully than a reasonable human being.

          • HooksLaw

            So you’re still asleep then?

            Wake up and take a look at Norway. How many other European countries are there that are not in the EU? There are 27 countries in, how many left to form some grand alliance with, how many other countries grateful to be led by the UK?
            We can indeed be out of the EU, but wake up and realise that there will be very little difference to us. Why? Because the EU will not go away. because we will still have to trade with it and need the single market.

            You make a feeble excuse for not facing up to reality. How sad for you that you cannot face plain speaking.

            • Jebediah

              I can face it. You can’t. That’s why you get pouty and ruffled when people disagree. We will trade with the EU. Yes of course we will, as does every other non-EU country in the world. We will make bi-lateral deals. Unlike Norway the UK is a very large market, it serves neither us nor the EU to make either market off limits. Free trade is a good idea. Beyond that we make our own laws.
              Now as we’re talking about a complex adaptive system, I know, that my expectations have a good chance of being wrong. You, presumably because you have some sort of time machine, seem to believe you are absolutely right. Now the one thing I do know for certain is that you cannot be absolutely right.
              So grow up, accept that what you have is an opinion and not THE TRUTH, and try to engage rather than bluster, insult and bully.

              • HooksLaw

                You understand nothing. And in any event as soon as you suggest leaving the single market you would lose the referendum.

                We cannot negotiate bi lateral deals with individual EU countries, I doubt we could negotiate a bilateral deal with Norway. We would need a single agreement with the EU.

                I grow tired of pointing out the obvious, but being out of the EU would be very like being in. Take a look at Norway.
                The difference is small and for this you would hand govt to the Europhile Labour party.

                • Jebediah

                  Perhaps the people would vote to stay in the EU. That’s fine, that’s democracy. I accept that other people can have a different opinion to me without being “absurd”, “nutjobs” or willfully ignorant. Norway and the UK are not an apple to apple comparison. You tire of pointing out the “obvious” because it is not obvious, it is a matter of conjecture and debate.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “I grow tired of pointing out the obvious”

                  Good. Hopefully you might stop then.

            • IRISHBOY

              The EU will go away – eventually, but in the time it takes, there will be ever more repressive laws and ever greater criminal sanctions against those who hate it as people like have always hated totalitarianism. As we’ve seen before, it will be the State v. the People which is more empirically obvious than any of the stuff you write here.

  • Bob Dixon

    Fine. When can we start the implementation of the 2 stage referendum proposals laid out by John Redwood?

    • HooksLaw

      It would not surprise me if they started over the next two years. It all depends how soon the Eurozone determines it needs a new ever closer fiscal union treaty. This will determine the future direction (if any) of the EU and our relationship with it.

      • Fergus Pickering

        That’s fab, now that you’ve sorted out Europe, how about world hunger ?

        • HooksLaw

          Me sort out Europe? Its the nutjobs who have all the easy answers.

          Any other fatuous remarks?

          • Fergus Pickering

            ooh-err, get you.

            • HooksLaw

              ho ho

          • Jebediah

            Any more juvenile comments and insults?

          • Colonel Mustard

            Since you appear to be the only conservative here who consistently supports the new, modernised, re-constructed, remarkably like Labour Tories regardless of the issue under debate I have to question your attribution of the word “nutjob”. Perhaps it might be better just to accept the fact that not everyone agrees with you and at least remain civil. Accusing dissidents of being nuts is a left-wing trick. There, now I’ve gone full-circle.

            • HooksLaw

              The point is that this conservative party is totally traditional and like every other conservative party since the war and before that. This libcon government is more right wing than Mrs Thatchers first administration.

              Only a nutjob would ignore all arguments, like the absurd jebediah below. Only a nutjob would pursue a policy whose inevitable successful conclusion would lead to a europhile Labour government.

              It is obvious from the endless screaming bigotry of the usual loony toone suspects that they are nutjobs. It is fatuous to bawl about leaving the EU and refuse to accept that there would then be negotiations that would result in a new arrangement that would leave us virtually back in again.

              • Jebediah

                Close to spitting the dummy there I see. So everybody else, but you, is a “nutjob”. Right, OK. You know when you can’t spot the nutter on a bus?

            • Chris lancashire

              Just thought I’d let you know Colonel, there are two of us.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Join the Labour party then and stop pretending.

                • Chris lancashire

                  No thanks. My, you are a one with the biting riposte.

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