Coffee House

Fresh Start’s EU powers threat could focus the mind

16 January 2013

16 January 2013

It is always an understatement to say that David Cameron can’t possibly satisfy his party with his Europe speech this week: the reason being that there is no one unified position on the EU within the Conservatives, with different groups calling for different responses to Europe.

Today the Fresh Start Group of Tory MPs publishes its ‘Manifesto for Change’ which will propose a list of powers that Britain should repatriate from Europe. Cameron has already made clear that he will be seeking a new relationship with the EU, and so the Fresh Start MPs will be hoping that he will pick up some of their ideas. For them, it is the renegotiation that is the crucial element of Cameron’s speech. Andrea Leadsom also made clear in her Today interview that it was ‘a bit simple to say we want to return to the Common Market’ as the group believed there were areas where ‘we can co-operate very happily and constructively with the EU’.

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But lest they grow too excited about the Prime Minister granting their every wish in two days’ time, Foreign Secretary William Hague says in his foreword to the manifesto:

‘Many of the proposals are already government policy, some could well become future government or Conservative Party policy, and some may require further thought.’

This reminds them that some of these ideas are for long-term discussion, rather than something the PM can grant now.

For now, the group’s manifesto includes a demand for the repatriation of all social and employment law, such as the Working Time Directive. James revealed last week that the latter was one power the Prime Minister was considering as an early candidate for repatriation. But whatever list he produces on Friday of areas ripe for renegotiation, the group already has a plan for responding to a failed renegotiation: using an Act of Parliament to disapply EU social and employment law. They insist it ‘would not be a petulant act, but rather a signal that this is a red line issue for the UK’.

It would be rather difficult to imagine EU leaders not reading such action as petulant, but prior to the negotiations, it could be a useful threat. One trap the Prime Minister could fall into is being so clear that he would campaign to remain in the European Union that other leaders see no incentive to give him what he wants in a revised relationship. A threat like this could focus their minds a little more.

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Show comments
  • Dimoto

    Social and employment law are precisely the areas that Labour allowed, and would allow again, and are easiest to spin against a Tory government, on the basis of “fairness” and Tory reactionism, so the EU will just drag it’s feet.

    Hague is forever banging on about legal affairs, foreign policy freedoms and such nebulous areas.
    If that is “renegotiation”, it won’t make much material difference.
    It is also distinctly odd that all the major countries, including “activist” UK, are perpetually content to turn a blind eye to mis-spending and corruption on an epic scale. Nobody seems to give a damn.

  • Justathought

    The issue is not one of renegotiating this or that the issue is if it is constitutional for the executive of government to deny the people a vote on the EU given the changes that have already taken place. Kicking the In/Out vote into the long grass is an abuse of power by the Executive of government and should be challenged at the Supreme Court.

  • Daniel Maris

    Choreography. Boring.

  • Justathought

    Outside the bubble nobody has any interest in repatriating the working time agreement and other bureaucratic tosh. The elephant in the room is unlimited welfare tourism. It is quite conceivable that in the time it would take to renegotiate another million would have moved onto the index linked benefits payroll.

    If this is the best on offer from Tory eurosceptics then expect to be crucified by UKIP.

  • Colonel Mustard

    It’s really quite simple. The direction and destiny of this Island is in our own hands or it isn’t. The only way to test that is a binding referendum, sooner rather than later and absolutely regardless of consequences here or in Brussels. That will take courage. Anything else is irrelevant and no solution.

  • andagain

    It is always an understatement to say that David Cameron can’t possibly satisfy his party with his Europe speech this week

    If he nuked Brussels tomorrow morning, I am sure that someone crop up before lunchtime to say that he had gone nowhere near far enough. They all want to be “more anti-EU than thou”.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      Silly. Not even nti-EU, just anti our membership. Is your best argument to misrepresent the arguments of your opponents? Pathetic.

      • HooksLaw

        No he is right – you are all a bunch of hysterics.


          And you are a lying troll, the same as all the other lying trolls, that the Spectator said it would be removing but hasn’t.

        • Wessex Man

          Oh come hooky, surely you can do better than that “my hysterics” are smaller than yours, you’ll get a name you know!

  • Realistic Anglophile.

    I have asked this question repeatedly but have had no well-defined answer yet – can anyone enlighten this interested ex-pat as to what exactly has Britain gained from being a member of the E.U.? Apart, that is, except a tidal wave of immigration?

  • Russell

    Miliband and his labour party have MP’s who also want out of the EU, so they are split as well Isabel.
    The electorate is also split, albeit with a majority, according to the polls, who want out of the EU.
    Cameron should call for an in/out referendum this year, and if the LibDems and/or Labour oppose, force a general election.through a no confidence vote. Camerons only hope of increasing his and the tories popularity.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    I am wondering now why the Spectator purports to take renegotiation seriously. It really cannot be done. There is no workable mechanism. A fact which has been purveyed down here below the line for months or years. It is a political fantasy designed purely to keep the tory party in stasis for electoral and party purposes. Any proper journalist would look into it, find out whether claims such as I have just made were correct,, and come back here with a real story, one way or the other. It is not honest to let your readers believe in that which is demonstrably not true because of party sympathies.

    Please no more of these bubble stories if you are not prepared to tell the truth.

    • TheBoilingFrog

      Exactly…even a modicum of research on the internet would establish that renegotiation while remaining EU members is complete nonsense. Thus it either shows up the fundamental lack of understanding of EU issues, not great for a magazine whose purported specialist subject is politics, or…the Spectator is knowingly lying. Given the copious comments below many of its articles pointing out the fallacy of the renegotiation position, one can only conclude the Spectator is quite deliberately misleading its readers.

  • UKIP for change

    The EU is headed for mass violence,and economic decline.Three of the top four Eurozone economies by GDP(Germany/Spain/Italy) are in the top five oldest countries in the world by demographics.The future for economic growth in the Eu is bleak,even if they can get past this crisis.All this without talking about costs of this demographic timebomb that awaits the countries mentioned above.

    As for a federal EU,or USE.don’t make me laugh.For starters,as anybody told the IRA? A USE would cause domestic terrorism,on a scale that the jihadists could only dream of.

  • Noa

    A more searching view of what we the electorate, never mind the Tory party hacks might expect from Cameron’s speech is provided by Alexander Boot. Recommended reading, even for the 2015 redundancy candidates:-

    • Russell

      Alexander Boot for PM. Excellent and true article from him wrt the EU. When oh when are the British electorate going to be told the truth about our membership of the EU.

    • HooksLaw

      No wonders… that you quote from a ranting bigot like Boot.


        In what way is Mr. Boot a bigot? Or are you just using that word in the usual manner of a troll who just wants to verbally defecate over a website.

      • Noa

        So, just what did he say that you now want to refute?

  • UKIP for change

    The UK is going to leave the EU,it’s just a matter of time.Even if the EU wanted to do a special deal with the UK,it will be unable to do so.New political parties will be born in other Eu countries to get the same deal.Seeing as the markets want a closer Eu,this won’t and can’t be allowed to happen.

    All it takes now is for the dozy UK public to wake up.Cameron is a liar,pure and simple.Cameron just wants to get re-elected in coalition with the Lib-dems,then he will turn around and say,they won’t let me hold a referendum,i wanted to do it honest.

    • D B

      We’ll never leave.

    • francbanc

      They can’t have a referendum now in a coalition but if they were to say that an in/out referendum would be non-negotiable in a hung parliament, I’m in.


        Why can’t we have a referendum now? It is what the people want. It would be easy for the Conservative Party to organise demonstrations with millions of participants insisting on a referendum. But we know that one is not wanted by the Conservative Party. This is the issue, not the LibDems.

        • francbanc

          Maybe they’re not as militant as UKIP but there aren’t going to be any demo’s as there aren’t any demonstrations now. Let’s face facts, the Conservative Party haven’t got the will to jeopardise the coalition over a referendum they’d be prepared to have post 2015.

  • UKIP for change

    The tories have played this game for too long.There are in truth very few tories who would vote to leave the EU.

    551,000 Eu Citizens on UK benefits,out of a population of 2.3 million.SHOCKING!!! That is an unemployment rate comparable with Spain.So much for the hard working Europeans,doing jobs lazy brits wont do.141,000 of these 551k,have NEVER! worked.

    This should be the headline on every newspaper and news report.Well done the Telegraph.

    • Colonel Mustard

      I guess the 551,000 (24%) of Euro nationals in UK on unemployment benefits all vote Labour and one them regularly posts comments here too!

    • Justathought

      You can add another million if you include all those part-time workers who can then claim tax credits beyond their wildest dream at home. The message is clear get to British soil by hook or by crook.

  • Bluesman

    “the group already has a plan for responding to a failed renegotiation:
    using an Act of Parliament to disapply EU social and employment law”

    Just how thick are these people?
    More importantly, how thick do they think we are?

    Article 50.

  • anyfool

    That Cameron does not have a unified party on Europe reflects opinion in the country, to anyone that should be seen to be a good thing, but when you have a media who all see “massive Tory split” in any diverging of opinion is symptomatic of the closed mind in the stultified circles you all swim in down in London.

    With the exception of some like Clarke MPs in the Conservatives more truly reflect the status quo than any of the other parties. more people support Peter Bone type Tories than Clarke and Mandelson the cross party duo of Euro sycophants.

  • RKing

    Don’t you just know tha Cameron will say lot’s but acheive very vey little!!

    It’s becoming his trade mark!


    There is no possibility that the Fresh Start manifesto will achieve anything. I hope that those who wrote it had good intentions, but the fact that William Hague is involved in writing the introduction and can speak of it as already Government policy now and in the future while keeping a straight face shows how much deceit the Government are willing to use.

    It is an IN/OUT now or it is nothing. Renegotiation comes after we have been able to say that we do not want to be members of the EU. Renegotiation will not take place and can never take place, the structure and organisation of the EU prevents it, and EU politics would make it impossible.

    We have one option, and that is to leave. This is the option that must be given to the British people now. To delay it is simply to have already determined that the British people will not be allowed to speak.

    I hope that the Fresh Start group are not complicit in this, and that they do really hope to achieve something. But unfortunately this will not.

    • HooksLaw

      The only deceit comes from you, who tries to pretend that being OUT would be much different to being IN.

      Even as you spout your rubbish our own economy faces problems because of the stupidity of the Eurozone (the German economy contracted .5% in the last quarter). Even somehow ‘out’ of the EU we would remain heavily influenced by it – with no say in what it does.


        Being OUT would be entirely different. We would be able to choose exactly what laws and regulations we wished to introduce. If a supplier wished to sell to a customer in the EU he may well have to adopt certain production standards, but this is the same with dealing with customers all over the world. We manage to sell to Asia and the US without having to be part of a political union with them.

        As for buying from the EU, it is we who have the great advantage and can insist on those production standards which suit us.

        • HooksLaw

          It would be very little different. Your notion about us insisting on production standards is fatuous.

          Certainly not so different that it’s worth pursuing policies that would see the return of a Labout govt which would take us closer into the EU.
          Certainly not so different as to justify your hysteric vitriol.

          The point about the internal market is to create conditions that replicate the huge savings made possible in say the USA which is a vast continental sized single market with single standards and free movement of labour.
          There is no need for the ‘political’ appendages of the EU. But we are not in the Euro, will not be a part of the fiscal union treaty (which must in turn lead to closer political union) and our relationship will change with a changing EU.


            I don’t want to be part of any social and political union with Europe. I don’t want a free movement of labour and benefit seeking. I want the laws which apply in the UK to be essentially founded on UK politics and tradition and not be imposed externally.

            I could care less about the mystical savings to be found in being part of the EU – it just seems to be costs as far as I can see. And you speak like a slave and not a man to think that a few pounds here or there are worth throwing away our sovereignty and independence.

            I would much rather a poorer Britain with its own sovereignty and rule of law. Free to shut the gates to those who wish us ill and those who would take us for a ride, than a marginally richer Britain (in your fantasy) which was merely an appendage to an all conquering socialist super-state.

            That you think our freedom is worth a few quid shows that you are no conservative at all, and no sort of English man.

            • LEngland

              Hear, hear. This atiitude of subservience is a curious anomaly in a liberal, insular State such as ours.
              Perhaps it is most common amongst the anti – religious, in particular – the anti Christians, the foreign
              born and those who harbour a grudge.
              £20bn. a year plus costs of implementing useless directives, just so we can be asset – stripped and stolen from, physically, spiritually and culturally, in every imaginable way.
              £20bn. plus per year masochistic subscription to “Sadism SupraNational”.
              No thanks. Never, ever.

              • Colonel Mustard

                And yet, and yet. It is those who challenge this madness who are labelled “odd”, “fruitcakes” and “nutjobs”. How our Little England has been turned on its head by the kings and queens from the other side of the looking glass.

          • Wessex Man

            This is why Tesco is sticking to the standards and selling horse meat as beef, what’s the standard number on that hooky?

        • Dimoto

          “Production standards which suit us” – great, Farage and his government of clerks. The nightmare of nightmares.

      • Rhoda Klapp

        Liar. The no say argument has been refuted. You know very well it is not true. You persist in the economic case, which you can only make by lies and exaggerations. The real case is of freedom and democracy. You make the argument of a slave who doesn’t want to be free because Massa provides the food and shelter. Pathetic.

        • Dimoto

          We already have freedom and democracy Rhoda.
          Governments are just strangely reluctant to use the tools to hand (the Brit government – of whatever hue – can’t even stop it’s bureaucrats gold-plating every edict from Brussels.

      • an ex-tory voter

        Complete nonsense!!
        We do not need to be in the Single Market any more than China does, All we require is a “free trade agreeement” with the EU. Once out we would not need to implement EU Directives any more than China does. Like the rest of the world’s trading nations we would be required to comply with EU Directives and Regulations only on our trade with the EU. Which means that 60% plus of our trading activity would not be burdened with EU associated costs.

  • BenM_Kent

    The UK already has an opt out of the Working Time directive.

  • Robert_Eve

    Let’s just leave.

    • HooksLaw

      We would still have to negotiate access to the single market and other aspect of a trade deal – just like Norway and Switzerland. There is no total ‘OUT’.
      The fact is the EU is changing creating a new fiscal union treaty and we will have to negotiate a new relationship with it, so Ms Hardman’s notion that Cameron saying he would still want to stay ‘in’ misses the point. The EU is leaving us.


        We are a massive customer of the EU. A fact you keep deliberately ignoring. How many suppliers choose not to negotiate with their major customers?

        We are not Norway or Switzerland. We are the UK. We have very many great advantages.

        • Wessex Man

          Yea, the Krauts are hardly likely to say we are not going to sell you anymore BMWs or Volkswagons are they? The French are hardly likely to stop selling us their massively subbed farm goods and sour wine either.

          • dalai guevara

            You will find that that is not the German concern.

            YOUR concern should be that you can still afford to import a BMW or Volkswagen…they will just sell it to someone else if you can’t.

            • Wessex Man

              That may be your concern my friend if you must but not mine and another of your concerns must be the level of unemployment (Greek and Spanish youth unemployment now at 57%) within the Eurozone sparking revolution. I think I’ll still be able to get my NISSANS from Sunderland as long as they can still grind a good price out of the French for the engines, which given the state of the French economy is a nailed on certainty.

              The added bonus of dirt cheap holidays around the med, can’t grumble at that!

              • dalai guevara

                The level of youth unemployment in the UK is nothing to be proud of, or does it make you feel better when you compare it to that of the second world? I prefer comparing our ecomony with those in the first. That’s the moment the reality sets in…

                • Dimoto

                  I agree with your objection, but … serious question – which countries would you place in the ‘first world’ ?

                • dalai guevara

                  Broadly speaking those which perform best in the IHDI. The UK actually ranks below Spain, whilst the US ranks just above Greece. The reason why I value this index is that it happens to be consistent with my personal experience on the ground.


                • DrCoxon

                  It is an experimental measure, it is about potential rather than reality, if applied to university degree lists could see lower seconds promoted to firsts, and firsts demoted.
                  ‘most notably below EU average’ – fractionally.

                • Wessex Man

                  dalai guevara I take no joy in pointing out the unemployment levels within the Eurozone and need no lectures from you, nor insults! What has happened to Spain and Greece is tragic.

                  It strikes me that you are from the group that said we would have an extra three million unemployed if we didn’t join the Euro and are now telling us that if we leave the EU we will have an extra three million unemployed.

                  Me, I’m from the group that included Sir Winston Churchill “If Britain must chose between Europe and the open seas, Britain must always chose the open Seas.”

                • DrCoxon

                  I agree with Wessex Man

                • dalai guevara

                  No offence Wessex Man, but it is hard for me to see where I was insulting. I was highlighting the differences between the first and second world (of course a controvertial topic, especially the wording) and backed up my argument with a source.

                  ‘I am from a group that…’ – am I? I did not realise. Which ‘group’ is that? Their is much nonsense on both side of the party line and some good hard facts would help to take away the fog that is spread by those with a hidden agenda.

                  Your Churchill quote is quite telling – it implies we still had a future at sea, given our past perhaps, and that Europe was an enemy. This is what the continental European crowd and the younger generation can no longer follow – they are simply bored to death with seeing Europe as the enemy. And of course we all know it isn’t – we are our own biggest enemy, in fear of being marginalised at the edge of the swimming pool of nations.

                • Wessex Man

                  I am stating the simple fact that I didn’t believe Wilson, Heath and Thatcher that we needed to stay in the EEC and was one of the minority GROUP that voted to get out. Alas far too many were fooled and we now have the most uncompetitive trading bloc in the world and desperately need to get out of this particular madhouse.

                • dalai guevara

                  I hear your points – in my view the EEC has been one of the most successful trading blocks in recent history – frankly, they marginalised EFTA and the Commonwealth at the time as they demonstrated how to successfully integrate in the best possible way equal trading partners and raise standards for all in the immediate vicinity. That is a key achievement, often forgotten and undervalued. Now, given that we have a banking crisis which clearly did not originate in the EU, and given that we are key players in it, our position within the EU might have become untenable. What a sad state of affairs wanting to withdraw from everything as a result…

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