Coffee House

Iain Duncan Smith: the UK should ‘have it all’

4 November 2012

2:34 PM

4 November 2012

2:34 PM

Iain Duncan Smith was strangely vague this morning when Andrew Marr asked him whether he thought Britain could survive outside the European Union. He said:

‘I’m an optimist about the UK. I’ve always been involved with our trade with our European partners which we will always be doing whatever this relationship is, and the Prime minister will talk about that in the future… We’re a member of the European Union, that gives us benefits but we have to figure out where that’s going. But in the world we are a global trader already, we’re more of a global trader than any other country in Europe. So I hate this argument that says, you know little Britain outside, or… We can both be within our trading relationships within Europe, we can also be a fantastic global trader.’

All eyes were on the Work and Pensions Secretary after reports in the Mail on Sunday this morning that a Cabinet minister had considered resigning to join Wednesday’s rebellion on the EU budget. But he made clear that he supported the Prime Minister, saying ‘I think he would love to come back with a real terms cut’, adding that ‘we don’t give enough credit to him’ for his veto last winter.

Pressed by Marr on whether he believed that Britain would flourish if it did leave the EU, Duncan Smith said:

‘My view isn’t that we could do necessarily outside the EU better than we do in inside it, it’s that we can do it all, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have it all.’


As James reports in his column today, the Prime Minister is set to give a speech setting out whether he too thinks Britain can ‘have it all’, in the words of his colleague. Those pushing for a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union hope this will be the time he will set out the party’s position on that plebiscite. Leading eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin has an angry piece on ConHome today in which he argues that a 2015 commitment to renegotiate backed with a referendum would be ‘pretty hopeless’ because the new shape of the EU could well be settled by then. He adds:

‘A positive future for the UK as a member of the EU requires a far more radical change than nibbling at “competences”. The PM should set out, in positive and cooperative terms, that the UK must maintain a single market with the EU (including a single customs union), but only if we can take back control over our own laws and legal system. The rules of the single market should be agreed, not imposed.’

Moreover, the pressure is on from the Tory backbenches to offer a straightforward In/Out referendum, and this is backed up by polling data released today by the People’s Pledge, which shows that 53 per cent of Conservative voters in Corby – which heads to the polls to elect a replacement for Louise Mensch on 15 November – do not think there is any point in a referendum which does not include an in/out option. If no referendum is offered at all in 2015, 37 per cent of Conservative supporters would ‘seriously consider’ voting for someone else.

The ComRes poll in Corby, Witney and Doncaster North found 61 per cent of Conservative voters were ‘dissatisfied’ with Britain’s current relationship with Europe, and 68 per cent of Tory voters in those three constituencies want a referendum. But worryingly for Cameron, 57 per cent of voters don’t believe he would hold a referendum if he won the next general election, and the figures aren’t much better for those already inclined to support his party, with 51 per cent of Conservative voters saying it is unlikely he would hold a referendum.

One backbencher I spoke to this week said the party was desperate for that referendum pledge in the forthcoming big speech by the Prime Minister. If there wasn’t, he said, there would be uproar. But what would happen next? I asked. He paused for a moment, and then said he wasn’t sure, because there was no obvious alternative to Cameron. The party would probably continue as it was until 2015, but with a group of backbenchers demoralised and without hope that they would secure a majority. It was a gloomy verdict, and shows the pressure the Prime Minister is under to deliver in his much-vaunted speech.

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Show comments
  • mikewaller

    I wonder if those so keen to get us out of Europe – and in my view a referendum is the new last resort of a scoundrel – have any idea what is actually going on in the world, IDS included.

    About 15 years ago the Harvard academic, Paul Kennedy (author of the magisterial “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers”) appeared on Radio 4 to talk about some work done by two of his Harvard colleagues. They had undertaken a deceptively simple exercise. First, they calculated the number of industrial workers in the new economies that were starting to put pressure on the West and then when on to established a projection for the situation four decades latter. The figure for the 1990’s was about 90 million; the figure for the third decade of this century was about 1.2 billion. Kennedy said of this projection that it was so significant no one dare think about it. How right he was. Taking account of it now, the following conclusions seem self-evident to me:

    – we are rapidly going to reach the point at which world manufacturing capacity will move past any likely level of demand capable of being economically expressed,

    – any comfy notion that we in the West can carry on doing all the clever stuff and others will do the more just so much self-comforting phooey. As the newer developed nations, unencumbered by debt and huge welfare bills, fully get into their stride, they will push relentlessly into that kind of territory;

    – however much the dear old economists tell as the free trade is good for everyone (it might be were we all paid the same) the above conditions are going to have a devastating effect on Western living standards (save only for the very, very rich) and as a result, protectionism will become a political imperative.

    Against this background, people who favour Britain going it alone, need, as we used to say, their heads examining. It seems to me inevitable that over time we would find all the major markets shutting us out with virtually nothing that we could do about it.

  • rollor

    Ian Duncan Smith puts himself forward as a reliable honest bloke. He destroys his image of himself by his pandering to ‘Cast Iron Pledge’ Cameron. He knows Cameron is letting himself, his party and the country down: he should say so, or he pulls his own bung out at the same time.

  • Macky Dee

    Why are the Tories so split on Europe? All they have to do is listen to what people are telling them. We want an In / Out Referendum. We dont see any need for laws from Europe. They would be in power forever if they did that!

    • Ian Walker

      Because they’ve all seen the sinecures that Mandelson, Kinnock, Patten and Mrs Clegg lived it up on, and the thought of all that lovely free gravy clouds any critical faculties they may have had

  • timinsingapore

    IDS is typically vague about prospects outside the EU. If he thinks the UK’s chief allies will be the Commonwealth, he should discard that sentimental fantasy. Does he want us to be an offshore appendage of the US (fundamentally much more Anglophobic than any continental European country)? If he thinks that UK business will suddenly grow balls and become a global exporting colossus, why has that not happened anyway over the past half-century?

    • Randy McDonald

      More to the point, why does he think that the Commonwealth is interested in becoming any kind of economic alliance under–presumably–British leadership?

  • Barbara

    I’m afraid I just would not believe Cameron even if he said he’d hold a referendum. Why should we have to beg to decide our own destiny? The Conservatives have shot themselves in the foot on Europe and stopped them getting a majority next time round. I hate people who deceive. Politics is a harsh business, but honesty is paramount. Cameron promised, more or less, he would hold a referendum, then didn’t fulfil his almost promise. He has continued to be vague on the subject of Europe while the rest of us have become more and more angry, According to the Daily Mail, Merkel, who comes next week is fed up with Cameron using the veto, and says there’s no point in holding a summit if he intends using it. Tough. She wants 80 billion reduction, Cameron wants 160 billion, I think the latter is the better. The fact is his backbenchers are now on fire of rebelling, and rightly so, its about time we had MPs who look to our wants instead of their own. Cameron should therefore not agree to anymore money in any shape or form. Just walk away and be done with it.

    • dalai guevara

      apparatchik politicians – who said they all reside in Brussels?

  • topmutt

    The truth is that many British people can’t cope with globalisation so they’re running scared, trying to hide away from the 21st century and reliving past glories over and over ad infinitum.

    The British are the most brainwashed nation in Europe – the most isolationist, the truth is that big business wants 60 million people that it can use at will without the social protections that Europe demands. Anyone who seriously thinks this is about Engerland or sovereignty is naive.

    It makes me laugh that people think Britain will suddenly become “more global” outside the EU, most European countries are already more international than the UK, with bilingual citizens and better links with BRICs.

    • timinsingapore

      I agree with much of this except that big business generally does not want us to leave the EU. What is baffling is that the non-Eurosceptics have been so silent, allowing the UKIP tendency to win the argument by default.

  • dalai guevara

    ‘…we’re more of a global trader than any other country in Europe…’ – what makes him say such a nonsensical thing?

    ‘…The rules of the single market should be agreed, not imposed.’ – correct, and what part of MEP representation and the Commision’s decision making is less democratic than the influence of our hereditary peers and our head of state and her offspring?

    • Fergus Pickering

      Every part of it, old son. The Queen has no discernible influence on our political life, and hereditary peers damn little. On the other hand, Rumpy Pumpy, Barrosoo and the vile Baroness have much. And who elected them? It certainly wasn’t me.

      • dalai guevara

        I would love to agree with you once I have been given a chance to flick through all of Charles’s correspondence.

        • dalai guevara

          perhaps I won’t – I am being discouraged…

      • EndOfTrolls

        Don’t debate with trolls Fergus. They are anti-democrats, servants to the EU and their labour masters, and not worth it. They are part of the problem and do not present any part of the solution.

        • dalai guevara

          Hiya ToryOAP, you alright?

  • Russell

    Weasel words from IDS match the appalling decision by Cameron to say there will be no choice for the electorate of in or out, only an in or an in!
    IDS and Cameron should bow their heads in shame that they have not said to the electorate that they will hold an in/out referendum on EU membership BEFORE 2015.
    I say before because nobody believes any promises after 2015 will be honoured by anu party except UKIP.

    • HooksLaw


      What does Out mean? You have not got a clue.

      • Russell

        It means no longer a member or more importantly a net contributor of £billions to the EU, and we have the same terms for trading as other countries like Switzerland or even China. No tariffs imposed on us or we will impose the same or even higher tariffs on the £50billion of EU imports we currently receive.etc.

  • HooksLaw

    One backbencher? One of those that was happy to walk into the smiling arms of Eds Balls and Miliband? A really intelligent one then?

  • Austin Barry

    The cowardly Cameron is a much of a Europhile as the simpering Clegg. Until Cameron goes our destiny is with the EU. Any referendum will come festooned with multi-choice cop-outs.

    • HooksLaw

      Of course he is not, but to justify your stupidity you have to pretend otherwise.

      • Austin Barry

        Blimey, Hookslaw, you seem an angry chap. It might be that you’re costive, or perhaps just David Cameron after another uncontrollable ride on your chestnut mare.

        • Daniel Maris

          Perhaps he was bewitched by one of David Cameron’s famous flights of oratory and cried twice…being unmanned like that can make a chap somewhat embarrassed and inclined to lash out in ire.

          • Austin Barry

            Yes, poor old Hookslaw does always seem to be on the verge of tears. I feel sorry for Mrs Hookslaw, although I suspect there isn’t one.

  • Archimedes

    “All eyes were on the Work and Pensions Secretary after reports in the Mail on Sunday this morning that a Cabinet minister had considered resigning to join Wednesday’s rebellion on the EU budget.”

    Come on…IDS is far too focused on delivering welfare reform to consider resigning: much more likely that it’s Grayling.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Try Patterson. Badger him enough….

      • Archimedes

        Surely Patterson would know that resigning would be a dead-end for him that would leave him on the back-benches for the rest of his parliamentary career. Grayling, on the other hand, has a very slim shot at the leadership sometime in the future, which this kind of resignation would aid.

  • John_Page

    Any referendum promise will be hedged and qualified and no one will believe it.

    • HooksLaw

      The referendum promise has been passed into law.

    • Robert Castlereagh

      So what else did com res tell us

      Of those who voted Conservative in the 2010 general election, 10% now say that they would vote UKIP.

      Ed Miliband’s leadership approval rating has improved – now 29% say that he is turning out to be a good leader of the Labour Party, the highest since we began asking this in December 2010.

      In light of his conference speech, a greater proportion say they see Labour as more of a “one nation” party (33%); than say the same of the Conservatives (25%).

      Most people (63%) do not expect the economy to return to good health for at least five years.


      David Cameron is turning out to be a good prime minister:
      Agree 29% (+2 since August 2012)
      Disagree 50% (-4)
      Net Agree -21 (+2)

      But most importantly

      The UK has nothing to fear from the European Union:
      Agree  43%
      Disagree  29 %
      Don’t know  29%

      So just where does has been IDS fit in?

  • Vulture

    IDS has been castrated by Cameron. In Maastricht days he was sound on the EU, now, like Hague, he has become a pathetic Europhile bleater.
    What did Lord Acton say about the corruption of power? But the saddest thing about the Tories is that in coaliton with the LDs they have no power. And that is down to Dave who couldn’t win the election against even the nutter Brown.
    Unless and until the Tories get a decent leader who articulated a firm anti-EU, and pro-British stance they are looking at another couple of decades in the wilderness.,

    • HooksLaw

      You sad saddo. IDS is simply saying what I’m saying. ie that being in the EEA or by negotiating a different relationship when the Eurozone countries integrate further will leave us in the EU and out of it at the same time.

      But oh no as soon as he, this known right wing conservative, says something that does not chime with you, its all ‘oooh he’s been castrated’.
      You dim wit, launching off into the outer orbit of the right wing (or any wing) just puts you out in the cold.

      • Vulture

        @Hook: As I never tire of pointing out, your liberal spraying of insults negates your whole argument and is childish. You don’t know me, so you have no knowledge of my state – whether sad or not. And I may be many things, but holding a First Class Degree from the world’s greatest university ( the one that bred Darwin and Newton) hardly makes me a dim wit.
        What is truly sad and dim is your intemperate abuse of those who hold majority Conservative views on the iniquitous EU. Now go away anf find something else to do, there’s a good fellow.
        And, for what its worth, I remain of the opinion that IDS is disguising his true view of the EU because he has been got at as a member of a Dave-led Government. However I am sure he will be pleased to hear that he has the same opinions as an utter nobody like you

        • Archimedes

          Having a First does not exclude you from being a dim wit on all matters peripheral to that degree, or more importantly it doesn’t qualify your opinion on anything.

          Incidentally, you are being childish, throwing your toys out the pram and screaming that we have to have a complete exit from the EU, and in the meantime we ought to go to great lengths to piss off the Europeans. Then you declare that anyone that disagrees with your call for an immediate exit is weak, whilst never having considered what shape that exit will take yourself, or the problems that it will throw at us.

          It might be desirable for us to exit, but it is dim witted to refuse to consider, or even acknowledge, the consequences. If Britain is going to leave the EU, then we’re going to need a damn good plan for doing so, and we’re going to need to keep the Europeans on side. They didn’t like that we stayed out of the Euro, but they understood it.

          • HooksLaw

            If there is one thing that UKIP are exposed as not having – its a damn good plan.

            Any fool can say the EU is a preposterous waste of space. Of course it is. But its not going to go away. WEe are at a point where the EU in its Eurozone mode are at the point of moving to a much closer integration and where we can vote to keep ,our distance. its an opportunity for a mutually agreeable separation.

            I know which political party I would prefer to handle that, and its not Labour.

        • HooksLaw

          Insults? – You look at yourself. You are the one throwing around words like ‘castrated’.’

          IDS disguising his true view? A bit like Miliband no doubt.

          The trouble is you have your head in the sand. IDS has just pulled it out for you but you just stick it back in there.

          The EU is not going to go away. Being out means still having to live with it and obey all its single market rules and accompanying free movement of labour, maybe even Schengen.

          I do not believe in the EU political project, but it is going to take a Eurozone slant anyway. I would be quite happy to be out of the EU – but I know that it would make little real difference and I am not going to hand over the country to Labour.

          Its increasingly clear that hysterical bigots like you with scant grip on reality would happily see the UK returned to the tender mercies of a labour govt (a europhile labour govt!) and all down to your blinkered bile.

          You deserve every insult thrown at you.

          • Austin Barry

            Hookslaw, these incoherent and ill-tempered diatribes are unlikely, since they suggest you are bonkers, to recruit many sympathisers. Cool, measured argument is surely more likely to succeed.

            • Dimoto

              Hookslaw is indeed a bit ‘intemperate’, but the notion that “cool and measured argument” would convince any of the eclectic assortment of trolls, xenophobes and UKIPites, who make up most of the CH flora, is quite funny, you have to admit.

        • Fergus Pickering

          I have not noticed that people with First Class degrees are particularly intelligent. Does not your bete noir David Cameron have one?

    • dalai guevara

      Why is a ‘firm anti-EU position a pro-British stance’? – that is not necessarily the same thing.

      • EndOfTrolls

        Yes there is a causal connection – as in 1939 we stand alone against the anti-democrats in Europe, just as we few stand against you trolls.

        • dalai guevara

          Stand alone? I don’t get you, you get me?

          • EndOfTrolls

            Not he but of a like mind methinks.

            • dalai guevara

              It’s Sunday night. Why not watch some programme on TV about British rail in India? That might distract you from the fact that Germany, France and Spain all run third generation HSR in public ownership. Is that the ‘superior socialism’ you are worried about?

              Perhaps have a bottle of Rose whilst watching, it will help sending you off to dream land…