Coffee House

Tory MPs warn Cameron of ‘mañana moment’ for EU speech

15 January 2013

8:47 AM

15 January 2013

8:47 AM

Number 10 has got quite the job to do over the next few days if it is to get backbenchers ready for David Cameron’s EU speech on Friday. Tory MPs are now obviously in a high state of excitement, but their expectations will inevitably be disappointed to some degree.

Some are already expressing fears about this, including the MP leading calls in parliament for a referendum. John Baron, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for an EU referendum, tells me that he is worried the ‘mood music’ in Europe isn’t quite as positive about renegotiation as the Prime Minister might hope. He says:

‘The chance of repatriating powers, I think they are slim: but I wish him well. I do wish him well because I think that we need to repatriate powers back to the UK, but the mood music is very different to what the Prime Minister is saying. They are not sympathetic to the idea of any states repatriating powers; if anything, the direction of travel is the other way.’

Baron also co-ordinated a letter signed by more than 100 Tory backbenchers calling for legislation in this parliament for a referendum in the next. The point of the legislation was that it would provide voters with as cast iron as cast iron guarantees can get that the government would definitely consult them on Britain’s relationship with Europe.

‘My view is that whatever promises the Prime Minister makes – and my hope is that there will be a referendum, he talked about asking for the consent of the British people – whatever promises he makes must be ones he can keep.’


Some MPs are also worried that the speech itself won’t quite address the issues as clearly as backbenchers are hoping. One senior Tory MP warns darkly that ‘another mañana moment will not cut the mustard’, and that any failure to make a clear pledge will lead to backbenchers calling a vote in the Commons which would attract even more rebels than the 81 who called for a referendum in October 2011. Meanwhile, Conor Burns, who as a PPS wrote his own letter to the Prime Minister to accompany the Baron letter, says:

‘There is a real danger in modern politics of following the example of Mr Blair in believing that when you have made a speech, something has happened. When you have made a speech, the only thing that has happened is you have made a speech. The speech is only the beginning of a process of renegotiation.’

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton, a member of the Fresh Start Group, underlines the importance of that renegotiation. He and his colleagues will publish a list of proposals for renegotiation tomorrow. Loughton says:

‘If we are quite clear that we are serious about renegotiation and fail to get it, clearly we should go to a referendum on our future membership overall, but the preference is for us to stay in a different sort of EU.’

Meanwhile Priti Patel warns that the speech ‘must recognise that the British people recognise that there’s a fundamental democratic deficit when it comes to Britain’s relationship with the EU’.

Over the next three days, Downing Street, the Whips and ministerial PPSs should be taking outspoken MPs out for coffee and preparing the ground for the Cameron speech. This week is a test of how well the Whips and the Tory leadership can work in getting certain MPs to pull behind the PM. They will not be able to stop some of the usual suspects from being inconveniently outspoken, but there are others who could probably be persuaded to support the Prime Minister if they feel they are being listened to and are needed within the party. As I’ve blogged before, the party operation hasn’t always been very impressive on this, but the next few days are some of the most critical of this Parliament for Conservative party unity.

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Show comments
  • Marian Deevoy

    My only interest is just how many of the 9 or ten High placed and ‘happily’ married Tories will now get rid of their beards and wed their male companions

  • Sanctimony

    The huge advertisement for UKIP attached to this article is the most pertinent comment here !

  • Austin Barry

    I suspect that as far as the electorate is concerned, no-one, apart from UKIP, seems to be addressing the Romanian and Bulgarian army of immigrants massing on our borders just waiting for the green light on 1 January 2014.

    Will Cameron be our Leonidas and the Coalition our Spartans in attempting to hold back or thin the anticipated hordes?

    Not a chance.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      I wouldn’t mind betting that Cameron will be gone by then, A B!

  • alabenn

    Cameron’s real problem does not lie with his backbenchers it really lies with the German people who have serious misgivings about the way the country is going, they are pretty fearful of taking on the role of what in effect is sugar daddy to to the wayward Med countries, leadership requires costs and they are not so sure they can afford it.

    The leaders in Germany know this and they fear that if Britain successfully acquired opt outs and even worse they actually become better off they know the German people will want the same as will the rest of the North Europeans leaving what should have happened 2 years ago a separation between the north and south.

    This will leave them with a situation of whether Britain whose financial contribution they need is worth the political costs,

    All this might not matter in the long run as people are forgetting that their is still a financial storm swirling around the EU and the US and all this hot air is contributing to a hurricane in Mid Atlantic that might defy nature and blow in two directions.

    • FrankS

      I rather hope that Cameron’s problem really lies with the British people – some of whom have voted for these ‘troublesome’ backbenchers. I just wish more of them would put country first and s*d party unity.

      • alabenn

        I would rather hope that as well, but in the context that if he really wants to repatriate powers none of his backbenchers are going to refuse any that he manages to obtain.

        The British people by and large will put up with whatever comes about because at the moment the tipping point as regards to the EU membership is still waiting for the big event that usually happens before the country acts on its instincts,

        The trouble with this is we now have huge sections of people who are not instinctively British and in large numbers are actively hostile to it.

        • LEngland

          If I might press you for more information as regards that tantalisingly fascinating assertion in para 2 ?
          Thank you. Your clarification will be greatly appreciated.

          • alabenn

            It is that most British people put up with a great deal of pressure before reacting to events, as in Labour have almost destroyed the country through mass immigration and yet still people have not reached the end of their tether with them, same as the thieves in the parliamentary expenses fiddles most got reelected.

  • Realistic Anglophile.

    Perhaps Cameron should take swift note of several recent polls in which there is an overwhelming majority of Britons who want OUT of the E.U. since it is considered that any benefit Britain may have gained from being a member are far outweighed by the detrimental effect it has had on established British values and the social fabric as a whole.

    • LEngland

      The Brussels Reign of Terror wants to destroy everything we hold dear. Somehow, Scam – Moron is too mendacious to stand up for us against them.
      After all, our annual donation has been, at present rates, circa £20 bn. per annum, plus the costs of compliance to their foolish, bloated diktats.
      Tell me, anyone, a single benefit that this has purchased us save for experiencing political, cultural and economic asset – stripping ?
      Oh, and preferred entry to their ‘Sadism is Us, Masochism is U’ chamber of horrors ?

  • FrankS

    I’d be more inclined to like this piece if the writer didn’t appear to taking the the whips’ interests to heart, rather than those of ‘outspoken’ MPs who might, just conceivably, be speaking on behalf of us.

  • @PhilKean1

    What a sad indictment of the state of British politics

    – that we already know that the result of Cameron’s speech will be to reinforce our belief that voting UKIP is our ONLY course of action.


    What is sad is that the blogger thinks it is of interest to us that the whips might be able to get those MPs who are not sure where their best interests in long term troughing terms lie to support the Prime Minister. Those who have any principles she dismisses as ‘the usual suspects’.

    At no point does she seem to have any interest in what the people might want and expect. It is all a game in the Westminster bubble and the Spectator plays its part. Is party unity really the most important thing we should be worried about? What about some real comment…

    i. On what basis does the Fresh Start Group think that any renegotiation can take place?

    ii. Does the Fresh Start Group stand for a clear in/out referendum or is it just fudging the issue?

    iii. On what basis do the whips have the right to threaten MPs to act in a way contrary to their duties as Parliamentary representatives of their constituents?

    iv. Why should we imagine that Cameron will ever be able to be trusted on EU membership?

    v. How can it be possible for Ken Clarke and Mandelson to work together and recieve EU funding to subvert UK sovereignty?

    • Colonel Mustard

      It is all part of a presumption that of course the UK is better off as part of the EU which seems to have been promulgated on a benefits case that has never been made other than by soundbite.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      Nailed it, Peter! It’s a just a bubble story. Hard to imagine now just what he could put in the speech that would impress anybody. Well, he could include the truth, but I regard that as unlikely.

    • Bluesman

      Citizen, you may have the floor for me.

    • EJ

      My posts are being consistently moderated or deleted and I have no idea why. Yes they are critical of Cameron and the Spectator – is that no longer allowed??


        I don’t know EJ. But I do know that the Spectator has completely banned some of the most longstanding commenters because they are conservative, while allowing the worst of trolls to continue to foul every blog.

        It would be helpful to know why and when the Spectator will censor criticism.

      • Rhoda Klapp

        I had one go missing yesterday. I don’t know what was offensive in it. Well, I do, but I don’t see how the defensive software picked it up. Maybe it speaks Italian.

        • Rhoda Klapp

          Test of what I wrote about Cameron coming next

          • Rhoda Klapp

            Che coglione.

            • Rhoda Klapp

              Well, it isn’t that then.

      • Colonel Mustard

        They are not really being moderated but just automatically rejected by the software. They never appear again and one is none the wiser about what forbidden word(s) caused the computer to balk.

        Not impressed, especially after the Editor’s passionate plea for freedom of the press.

    • David Lindsay

      Peter Mandelson is not, nor ever again will be, a member either of the Cabinet or even of the House of Commons. For that, you need Ken Clarke.

      Some “renegotiation” that will come to nothing, but if it did would see its proposed result put to a referendum with the status quo as the other option? Even the Lib Dems could probably do better than that. Labour certainly could. Certainly must. And certainly will.

  • Kubrickguy

    It’s obvious the EU will just tell Cameron “you are either in or out” there is no half way compromise. They can not be seen to do the UK a special deal, as everyone would want one. Once again Cameron is ‘pissing in the wind’. Prediction – He will opt for some wishy washy speech, continue to alienate Tory voters who in frustration will move to UKIP despite UKIP’s recent troubles. He will frustrate more and more of his own MP’s and will end up with a split party, a split vote between Tory and UKIP in key and marginal constituencies. He has done enormous damage to the Tory party and divided the right which will let Labour back in. Mean while our national debt in now upwards of 600% of GDP and we are heading for a financial disaster on a scale not seen since the Weimar Republic. God help us when interest rates rise, which inevitably, they will.

    • James R

      Indeed.Why should the EU pay too much attention to Cameron’s ‘wishy washy’ speech or proposed distant referendum when they know they’ll be dealing with Miliband in 2015.Cameron had his chance to re-negotiate with the EU when he was elected.He chose not to take that opportunity.He’ll regret it at the polls..and his leisure.

      • Kubrickguy

        Totally agree with you mean time he will fudge along… What makes me angry is he had ever oportunity to be one of the greats, and yet he willbe remembered as the man who broke the Tory Party and let UKIP divide the right… Labour must be singing his praises as we did with Foot and the SDP!

  • aberoth

    Abroad,Cameron may represent England,he certainly does not represent Scotland.

    • helicoil

      “may represent England” – mate, that’s a most offensive sweeping generalisation.

    • HooksLaw

      Another thicko

    • Colonel Mustard

      Really? A man of Scots descent who occupies the position of “British” Prime Minister in a “British” parliament which includes Scots, Welsh and Irish MPs and presided over devolution giving Scots, Welsh and Irish people their own parliaments and assemblies.

      Remind me again where England and the English people are exclusively represented?

    • Wessex Man

      I think you will find that he does, that he is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and at this present time that includes the region of Scotland, just as Blair and Brown represented England when they were Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.

      If Scotland votes for “independence” in 2014 then he won’t be your Premier in 2015 but then he probably won’t be anyone’s Premier then.

  • Joe marjoram

    Manana? More like a Portuguese manana. That is, manana, only without the sense of urgency.

  • Bert3000

    These people are desperately trying to avoid giving us the ever closer union we voted for almost forty years ago. A choice between half way out or completely out is no good to Britain.

    • Andy

      Only the people did not vote for ‘ever closer union’ forty years ago. If you are so sure of your case you will welcome the opportunity to make your case and obtain the consent of the British People in a referendum. And you will, unlike the EU, respect the result of that referendum.

      • Bert3000

        Already got the consent of the British people in a referendum thanks.

        • Andy

          40+ years ago. Time to ask again. Or are you one of these Eurofascists who think the people don’t have any right to have a say ???


            No-one has my consent.

            • Bluesman

              Nor mine.

        • Colonel Mustard

          No, that was consent for remaining “within” the European “Community” – at the time a common market not a nascent federal state. If people had been asked whether they wanted British laws decided by gravy trainers in Brussels I have no doubt what the answer would have been.

          The whole thing has been a disgraceful and treacherous saga of deception and cowardice.

          • David Lindsay

            “at the time a common market not a nascent federal state”

            Simply not true. Ever.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Maybe not true but that was how it was presented. The clue is in the wording of the referendum question.

              • David Lindsay

                Presented by whom? The first clause of the legislation taking us in is a textbook definition of a federal state, as is the first line of the Treaty of Rome. This was all made perfectly clear at the time by Peter Shore, Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Tony Benn and Enoch Powell.

                By contrast, no example of the presentation that you describe has ever been found, and not for want of trying. To his dying day, Heath remained sincerely baffled by the much later suggestion that any such claim had ever been made. That no one ever said it has become a stock undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation subject.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You conveniently disregard the advisory information given to the public by the advocating Labour government at the time. Under the title “Will Parliament Lose Its Power?”. For example:-

                  “Membership of the Common Market also imposes new rights and duties on Britain, but does not deprive us of our national identity. To say that membership could force Britain to eat Euro-bread or drink Euro-beer is nonsense.”

                  “No important new policy can be decided in Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament.”

                  Your proposition is a nice idea, that the continuing government policy has some measure of democratic legitimacy. But it is logically impossible. Basic chronology and all our understanding of space and time itself tells us that we could not have had a referendum on European Union membership in 1975, as, in 1975, the European Union did not exist. The European Economic Community existed. This isn’t just semantics: that was a different body entirely, with almost no legislative or political power in comparison to its modern counterpart. No overbearing and unaccountable Commission passing law, no chief executives styling themselves as ‘the government of Europe,’ as Romano Prodi did. No Lisbon; no Maastricht. No courts, no bank, no euro. The electorate of 1975 voted on a trading bloc. Not a supra-national government, whatever the people behind the project might have intended in future.

                  That electorate itself has also changed substantially. The only people who had a say are those who , in 1975, were eighteen or over. A fair few of them are now dead: those that aren’t are at least fifty-three, and many of them are quite a bit older. The referendum was held a whole generation ago: no-one who isn’t a Boomer has ever had a say, on either the EU, or our relationship with it (and, before you say that we have the chance every general election, please bear in mind that all parties are pro-referendum when canvassing for votes).

                  The referendum of 1975 is not only a generation out of date, its subject was an entirely different relationship – with an entirely different organisation. The planet has changed beyond recognition. The Soviet Union is gone; American domiance is slowly ebbing away; and the Second World War – the idea that inspired so many of the Boomers, understandably, to push for greater union – is now studied in school textbooks, rather than the officious pages of bomb damage assessments. So many other international organisations now have the preservation of peace as their goal as to make any peacekeeping purpose of the EU wholly redundant: if the combined might of the UN, NATO, countless multi-lateral agreements, and a proliferation of regional bodies aren’t able to do it, it’s a pretty safe bet that the EU wouldn’t be able to do it, either. For political purposes, this a completely new world: and it’s a world that should be given – and demands – a vote.

                • David Lindsay

                  All of this may be true, but it does not affect the key point: the true nature of the EU was evident from the point in the 1940s when Attlee dismissed the initial scheme as “the blueprint for a federal state” and Bevin wrote on the top of it that “the Durham miners would never wear it,” so that was that. 25 years before we ever went in, and nearly 40 before the 1975 referendum. Any Sixth Form or undergraduate essay suggesting that people, any people, thought that they were voting for something called “the Common Market” would be denied any mark whatever, and rightly so.

                  Of course, people aged 18 or over in 1983 also had a say, in that one of the two main parties had a manifesto commitment to withdrawal. Which way did you vote in 1983? Or, indeed, in 1987, between a Chancellor in favour of joining the euro and a Shadow Chancellor opposed, which latter did in fact keep us out of it?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I think you are underestimating the extent to which the subject has been misrepresented by propaganda – as it was then and as it is now. The fact is that it was called the Common Market then so that is what a majority of people believed they were voting for! That term – Common Market – is on the government pamphlets at the time and the referendum question. And the pamphlets emphasise that element over and above the federalisation which is down played by the reassurances about sovereignty (q.v. the whole pamphlet which is available online). All that is now seen to be at best misleading and at worse false, so Mr Hitchens really should not blame people for voting under false pretences.

                  In fact, given that element of misrepresentation and mistaken assumption, it could be argued that there is an even stronger case for re-visiting membership in a referendum.

                • David Lindsay

                  No organisation called “the Common Market” has ever existed, a perfectly simple thing to check, and one made perfectly clear by Peter Shore, Tony Benn, et al. If people cannot be bothered to check basic facts or to listen to what they are being told, then they deserve whatever they get.

                  Of course, in those days, a very large proportion of the population had left school in their early teens or what have you. Still, you would have thought that they might have listened to their own union leaders and Labour MPs. Or, in Enoch Powell, to the living Tory whom they most admired.

                  All of which is a very good argument against a referendum now. What we need instead is primary legislation with, five, or possibly six, simple clauses.

                  First, the restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law, and its use to repatriate agricultural policy and to reclaim our historic fishing rights (200 miles, or to median line) in accordance with international law. Secondly, the requirement that, in order to have any effect in the United Kingdom, all EU law pass through both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or other of them.

                  Thirdly, the requirement that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meet in public and publish an Official Report akin to Hansard. Fourthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament.

                  Fifthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons.

                  And sixthly, if we must, the provision for a referendum on the question, “Do you wish the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union?” But the first five would come into effect at the same time as this provision, and would not be conditional on that referendum’s outcome.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  But my point was – and is – that the advocating British government of the time were using the term ‘Common Market’ in their official documents so in that sense it did exist.

                  “This pamphlet is being sent by the Government to every household in Britain. We hope that it will help you to decide how to cast your vote in the coming Referendum on the European Community (Common Market).”

                  It also used the term ‘Community’ rather than “Union’ which does, I would argue, convey a different meaning.


                  Fully agree your primary legislation and clauses though!

                • David Lindsay

                  Very many thanks.

                  But “the Common Market” did not exist merely because it was mentioned in what was therefore a work of fiction. As was perfectly simple to check. And as was made perfectly clear by key figures in the debate.

              • David Lindsay

                In the last few minutes, Peter Hitchens has put up the following – :

                “The European Question is a very simple one. The EU is, and always has been, a plan to integrate its members into a single supranational state. The idea that Britain ‘originally joined a Common Market which was just a free trade area’ is the most abject tripe. There was never any such organisation.

                The poor boobies who write letters to the papers claiming that this what they voted for back in 1975 are just that, boobies. They refused to listen to the correct warnings they were given at the time. Then, when the warnings proved to be true, these boobies forgave themselves by pretending that they didn’t know, when the truth was that they knew, but preferred to ignore the knowledge.”


                • Colonel Mustard

                  Yes, I’m definitely a boobie! More than a smidgeon of hindsight in Mr Hitchens blog post though.

                • David Lindsay

                  Really? He was firmly on the Left in those days, so he will have been fully familiar with the warnings of which he now writes (since that was where most of them came from), and he will have campaigned and voted accordingly in 1975.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Of course there is hindsight. Do you think exactly the way you did 40 years ago, ignoring everything that has happened since? Don’t be so naive.

                • David Lindsay

                  I bet that he voted No in 1975. He was an active member of the International Socialists at the time, so I guarantee that he did. Did you?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  How can we know – even if he says he did?

                  I’m a boobie and voted yes! I won’t make excuses for that.

                • David Lindsay

                  Fair enough.

        • francbanc

          If the EU flag was flying above Buckingham Palace and London was renamed Rompuygrad, you’d say the same no doubt.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Absolute rubbish. The 1975 referendum question was “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Community (the Common Market)?” It said absolutely nothing about “closer union” – or for that matter “union” at all and it did not ask “Do you think that British sovereignty and law should be subject to directives from foreign bureaucrats in Brussels?”

    • FrankS

      Irony doesn’t always work! Or do you really mean it?

    • HooksLaw

      There is no completely out. Look at Norway and the way they comply with EU regulations and who pay to the EU budget. They are not IN the EU. The plain fact is there is indeed a ‘half way’, the point of course is that there is no real difference to being wholly ‘IN’.

      It might be helpful if those who claim they want ‘OUT’ were to explain if that means outside the EU tariff wall, outside the single market and outside EFTA and the EEA. If so they might then argue how that helps the UK economy and how they might propose winning any referendum on those terms.
      If they do not mean that, then of course they might explain what all the fuss is about.

      We will not be a part of the new Eurozone closer fiscal union treaty and because that effectively means closer political union for those countries, then its plain our position will need renegotiating. The hard part to explain and understand is why UKIP want to destroy the only political party that would keep us out of this.

      • Rhoda Klapp

        If you look at my post of yesterday on the last EU thread, all your points about Norway are blown away by Richard North’s quote. This constitutes the explanation you ask for (as if it was not thought about in anti-EU circles, which go far beyond the squeakings of UKIP).. We anticiate being inside EEA on the terms Norway gets, which in fact have more de facto influence than what we get now. Either debunk that stuff, which you cannot, or stop posting the same Norway lie. It is a lie, I have called you out on it, stop repeating it.

        • HooksLaw

          So you are actually admitting that you want to go to the EU cap in hand to agree a treaty to give us access to the single market and free movement of labour – which we already have now!

          Being outside the EU like Norway is precious little different from being in the EU in the first place. Norway makes a significant contribution to EU funds, as does Switzerland.The EU exists and we and Norway would continue to be influenced by the EU even if being in the EEA. That is the reality.

          Your Richard North comments (and who says he has the tablets of stone?) do not wash. Indeed you seem to admit that most of Britain’s fate is out of our hands anyway and lost in a great slew of ‘international bodies’, and that somehow our little effort would count more than the great trading block of the EU. Good luck with that one.
          And if these rules are international – then why constantly blame the EU?

          You seem to like these world summits. Its at summits like these that we agreed our level of foreign aid – I guess those particular world summits you would like to ignore. Woolies went bankrupt and you cannot pick n mix your way through the world’s box of sweeties either.

          The other reality is that the EU is changing irrevocably with a fiscal union treaty, and we will not be going along with it – unless we have a labour govt.
          But – and this is the whole point of my ‘but’ – with all your blind hysterical howling you would have us return to a pro EU labour govt.

          • Rhoda Klapp

            This is North again. Read this and claim he does not know of what he speaks, but you do. And be aware that out government is neither colition nor Labour, but the EU. Undemocratic and tyrranical.

            At the
            European Union level, the law includes the Directive, Regulation and
            Decision. The formal processes are well known and the procedures are
            open and visible. For instance, a Directive undergoing the co-decision
            procedure, requiring approval by the Council of Ministers and the
            European Parliament, will most often start its formal life as an
            official “communication” from the Commission, in what is known as the
            COM (final) series.

            This document will comprise a detailed explanatory narrative and the
            text of a proposed law. It will go before the European Parliament in a
            series of stages and, separately, through the Council of Ministers. Both
            bodies will agree their “common position” and, if there are differences
            between them, there are procedures by which they might be reconciled.

            At the end of the procedures, if successful, agreement will be reached
            by both parties and the approved text will be formally lodged in the
            Official Journal as the law, thus becoming part of the acquis communautaire.

            A Directive will then require transposition by the legislatures of the
            Member States and the EEA members, to be implemented in those
            territories. Regulations, of course, take direct effect, and apply once
            they are “done” at Brussels.

            It is the nature of these formal processes which give rise to the claim
            that EEA members are subject to the so-called “fax democracy” as they
            are not formally represented on the primary decision-making bodies, the
            Council and the Parliament, nor even the formal committees of the
            Commission, and thus are not able to vote on proposals.

            However, the passage of laws through the formal stages, where they are
            considered by the EU institutions, is only that visible end of the much
            longer process than can take many years, and even decades. It is only
            one small part of a very much larger and longer process or, more
            accurately, diverse processes.

            These processes are diffuse, obscure and very often invisible. Thus
            there is not and cannot be any single mechanism for exerting influence,
            no single protocol and no single route, by which the legislation is
            shaped. The situation is complex, nuanced and highly variable, exactly
            reflecting real life and the realities of politics – which are complex,
            nuanced and highly variable.

            Commentators who look at only part of the process, and in particular the
            visible, formal part of the law-making process managed by the European
            institutions, come away with a completely false picture.

            Crucially, it must be appreciated that, in a global trading environment,
            most of the rules governing trade do not originate with the European
            Union. Increasingly, they are agreed at higher levels, either at global
            or regional (supra-EU) level, through international treaty bodies.

            One of the most important is the World Trade Organisation (WTO), its
            mission being the supervision and liberalisation of international trade.
            It came into being on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement,
            replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which goes
            back to 1948.

            The WTO, though, represents only the tip of a gigantic iceberg. Many of
            the standards-setting international bodies act under the aegis of the
            United Nations. Furthermore, trade orientated law is often supplemented
            by the work of international trade bodies and standards organisations.

            The output of these bodies has been termed “quasi-legislation”. It is not law, per se,
            but is the root of law. To be implemented, it must be turned into
            legislation and bedded in an enforcement and penalty framework, the
            conversion of which is the job of regional bodies such as the EU and
            individual national states. Because of the international origin, and
            the output requires two bodies (at least) in the passage to law, it has
            been termed “dual-international quasi-legislation”, abbreviated to

            The reach of the diqule is phenomenal. For instance, the most important
            banking rules, governing the conduct of the international banks, emanate
            as “diqules” from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
            International food standards are often initiated as diqules – which are
            then adopted regionally and locally. These are determined by the Codex Alimentarius.

            Other examples include agricultural issues, which are handled by the UN
            Food and Agriculture Organisation, taking the lead on matters affecting
            agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development. It also
            co-ordinates implementation of the 1992 Earth Summit’s Agenda 21.

            Since disease knows no boundaries, animal health controls come from the
            Office International des Epizooties (OIE) – created in 1924. Traffic in
            protected species is regulated in the first instance by the Convention
            on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
            (CITES). Human health standards and the controls and monitoring of
            infectious disease are determined by the World Health Organisation
            (WHO). Labour laws are devised by the International Labour Organisation
            (ILO) which was set up in 1919, by the Versailles Treaty .

            At a global level, environmental issues are determined and co-ordinated
            by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Climate Change
            issues are agreed through the aegis of the United Nations Frame-work
            Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on
            Climate Change (IPCC).

            The safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine
            pollution by ships is dealt with by the International Maritime
            Organisation (IMO), which came into being in the wake of the 1912
            Titanic disaster and spawned the first international safety of life at
            sea – SOLAS – convention, still the most important treaty addressing
            maritime safety.

            Rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s
            oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the
            management of marine natural resources, are dealt with by the United
            Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

            Aviation the province of the International Civil Aviation Organisation
            (ICAO), created in 1944, now comprising 191 members. It claims for its
            mission, safe, secure and sustainable development of civil aviation
            through the cooperation of its Member States.

            Under the aegis of IACO is the Air Navigation Commission, which
            considers and recommends, for approval by the ICAO Council, Standards
            and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Procedures for Air Navigation
            Services (PANS) for the safety and efficiency of international civil

            There is even an International Committee for Weights and Measures (abbreviated CIPM from the French Comité international des poids et mesures) consists of eighteen persons from Member States of the Metre Convention (Convention du Mètre)
            appointed by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM)
            whose principal task is to ensure world-wide uniformity in units of
            measurement by direct action or by submitting proposals to the CGPM.

            The General Conference on Weights and Measures (French: Conférence générale des poids et mesures
            – CGPM) is the senior of the three Inter-governmental organisations
            established in 1875 under the terms of the Metre Convention (Convention du Mètre) to represent the interests of member states.

            Initially it was only concerned with the kilogram and the metre, but in
            1921 the scope of the treaty was extended to accommodate all physical
            measurements and hence all aspects of the metric system. In 1960 the
            11th CGPM approved the Système International d’Unités, usually known as “SI”.

            These global organisations are supplemented by regional bodies, such as
            the 56-member United Nations Economic Commission Europe (UNECE), which
            for historical reasons includes the United States.

            It is responsible, inter alia, for most of the technical
            standardisation of transport, including docks, railways and road
            networks. It also deals with the very detailed technical harmonisation
            of vehicle construction and safety standards. With UNEP, it administers
            pollution and climate change issues, and hosts regional agreements.

            Another important regional body, often forgotten in the shadow of the
            EU, is the Council of Europe. Against the EU’s 27 members, it has a
            membership of 47 European countries. Over term, it has agreed 214
            treaties including its own founding treaty and, most notably, the
            Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

            Then there are huge number of single-issue treaty and non-treaty bodies,
            which set standards or agreements, or influence the global agenda, from
            which rules emerge and which are then implemented by signatories
            directly, or via groups such as the European Union, the latter acting as
            a law processing factory on behalf of its Member States.

            Just one, and a rather arcane example of this type of body is the
            “Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety” (IFCS). This describes
            itself as “an alliance of all stakeholders concerned with the sound
            management of chemicals”, claiming to be a global platform where
            “governments, international, regional and national organisations,
            industry groups, public interest associations, labour organisations,
            scientific associations and representatives of civil society meet to
            build partnerships, provide advice and guidance, and make
            recommendations”. The IFCS thus describes itself as “a facilitator,
            advocates systemising global actions taken in the interest of global
            chemical safety”.

            A more formal but equally arcane body is the International Union for the
            Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). was established by the
            International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants,
            provides a protection system for the intellectual property rights of
            plant breeders. The Convention was adopted in Paris in 1961 and it was
            revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991. UPOV’s mission is “to provide and
            promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of
            encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit
            of society”.

            Arcane though this might be, after the accession of the EU to the
            Convention in 2005, it is driving the EU agenda on the intellectual
            property rights on plants. Norway, incidentally, became a member on 13
            September 1993, leading rather than following the EU.

            The rules produced by this plethora of international bodies are
            formalised long before they reach the EU institutions. When they are
            adopted by the EU and published as formal proposals by the EU
            Commission, it is invariably too late to make any changes. Any chance of
            influencing the rules by then has long gone.

            Most of such rules are passed by the Council and Parliament without a
            debate and without a formal vote. In the rare instances where there is a
            vote by the Council, it is by QMV, where it is difficult to block a
            measure. Even then, the rules themselves cannot be changed by the EU
            unilaterally. Where international agreements are involved, votes in
            Council can only reject or accept proposals.

            Yet these are the
            very rules which have already been agreed at a higher international
            level, negotiated by individual countries, on an intergovernmental
            basis, many of which can be vetoed at that level. That is where the
            influence counts.

            Thus, it is important to be involved at this stage, to shape the rules
            before they become formalised, at a stage when they can be shaped,
            advanced and even rejected. And it is this arena that Norway is fully
            involved. Not constrained by the “little Europe” of the 27-country
            European Union, it is able to operate as a fully-fledged global actor.

            Thus, the relationship between Norway as an EEA member and the EU is far
            from one of a supplicant to a greater power. Norway plays a very
            active part in the international community, and is heavily involved in
            the framing of international law, much of which is then adopted by the

            While Norway often has freedom of action, as long as we are isolated in
            the EU – shackled to “little Europe” – we have less control than we
            would like over the formulation of these “diqules”. Whether it is
            technical standardisation of transport requirements from UNECE, common
            banking rules from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision,
            international food standards from Codex Alimentarius, the animal
            health requirements from OIE – or labour laws from the ILO – we usually
            defer to the “common position” decided by the EU.

            Decoupling from the EU and thus the process of political integration,
            and re-engaging with the international community would allow us to
            restore our status and resume our proper role on the international
            stage, breaking free from “little Europe” and rejoining the world. That
            would place us alongside Norway which enjoys that freedom already.

            And that is the way to look at leaving the EU. We are breaking free of “little Europe” and rejoining the world.

          • Andy

            It might be the EU has to come ‘cap in hand’ to the UK. After all we are their biggest export market and I am sure they would be delighted to lose that market. The Germans will be delighted by heavy tariffs on BMWs and Mercs: the French on their wine etc, etc, etc.

            Just because you are inthrall to that embryonic Fascist State known as the EU doesn’t mean we have to be.

      • williamblakesghost

        Oh it was so pleasant when you weren’t here. I see you are sdtill trolling the same tiresome and hackneyed lines.

        So can you explain whats its going to be like as one of the countries in the Eurozone’s ‘spare tyre’ given we have no intention of joining the fiscal union? Seems to me just as Dave has positioned his party in the no man’s land of the centre ground of politics he is now proposing to position the country in the political no mans land of Europe in a limbo where we neither are a real member of the EU or have any intention of being one or a free independent sovereign nation. Seems to me Cameron is choosing the worst of all worlds AGAIN!.

        So instead of chuntering on about what may or may not be negotiated in a withdrawal which at this point is not on the cards (given none of the major parties would offer a referendum if there was any chance of withdrawal) perhaps we can discuss why Cameron is kicking this into the long grass again and putting us probably in the worst of all positions instead of doing what needs to be done while he’s still in power (he won’t be in power beyond 2015)?

        Furthermore, the Conservative Party is the largest part of this government. It has more power at its disposal than any other organisation in this country. Are you seriously telling us that the Tory party despite all that power is so weak and incompetent that it is being ‘destroyed’ by a little ole minor party. Frankly if that is the case how pathetic is the ‘mighty’ Tory Party? If they cannot out manouevre UKIP they really don’t deserve to be in power. But there again according to Dave’s Guru they can’t even outmanouevre the civil service..Its hardly surprising then that Cameron won’t be Prime Minister beyond 2015.

        Of course the real trouble is Cameron has no Eurosceptic credibility and little general credibility anymore .His lip service to Eurosceptics is no longer taken seriously. He has run out of chances. Speeches are irrelevent. . Its either put up or shut up time!

        • HooksLaw

          Norway is not in the EU and abides by EU single market regurgitation and by the free movement of labour. Its a fact. ie being out of the EU is very little different from being in if you want access to its single market and want free trade with it.
          Likewise Switzerland.
          Yet despite this you actively cons[ire to see the return of a pro EU Labour govt. Thick or what?

          Everyone who disagrees with you is a troll but you are free to spout your rubbish whenever? You have no argument, just hypocrisy.


            HooksLaw, you are a troll. There is no avoiding it.

            Norway can do what it likes. It is not the UK and does not run the massive trade deficit with the EU that we do. What is the EU going to do? Abandon trade with us because we don’t sign up to unlimited Romanian Gypsies coming here to claim benefits. I don’t think so.

          • Rhoda Klapp

            Norway gets a seat where the UK is represented by the EU seat with next to no influence over the input. On international bodies which go on to tell the EU what to do. If you had read North you would no this. What you are claiming is a lie. And you know it.

          • DWWolds

            Also, when the Swiss did a cost/benefit analysis in 2006 they found that EU membership would cost them six terms the current bilateral trading arrangements. Given that the UK will have sent something like £14bn gross over to Brussels in 2012 a similar saving for us would be a not insubstantial sum.

    • DWWolds

      I would refer you to an article published on Der Spiegel Online on 12/27/2012 [date given the American way]. It is entitled “EU Summit Reveals a Paralyzed Continent” and traces the build up to the EU summit held in December. If you think ever closer union is on track that article will give you cause for thought. In fact, the noises being made about it are little short of farcial – and very far from truthful. If the issue were not so serious it would be laughable.

  • telemachus

    I have seen an advance draft

    Mr. Chairman, you have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your courage.
    If you believe some of the things said and written about my views on Europe, it must seem rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the virtues of peaceful coexistence!
    I want to start by disposing of some myths about my country, Britain, and its relationship with Europe and to do that, I must say something about the identity of Europe itself.
    Europe is not the creation of the Treaty of Rome.
    Nor is the European idea the property of any group or institution.
    We British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation. Our links to the rest of Europe, the continent of Europe, have been the dominant factor in our history.
    For three hundred years, we were part of the Roman Empire and our maps still trace the straight lines of the roads the Romans built.
    Our ancestors—Celts, Saxons, Danes—came from the Continent.[fo 1]
    Our nation was—in that favourite Community word—”restructured” under the Norman and Angevin rule in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

    • Gary Gimson

      Is this Igonikon Jack’s or Neil Kinnock’s alter ego – or maybe it’s the old Welsh windbag himself using the name Telemachus. Dreary and verbose in equal measure.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Obsessed with the influences of Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans as a paltry justification for flooding the country with third world immigrants and now feebly attempting to use the same meme as a justification for remaining a vassal of foreign and quisling gravy train bureaucrats in Brussels. Ignoring nearly 1,000 years of British history and the real relationship with Europe during that time.

    • FrankS

      This notion that we’re all descended from immigrants or invaders may be true, but is completely pointless – it could equally be applied to any nation on earth.

      • Colonel Mustard

        But it’s not really true. Recent research has shown that a majority of English people have a majority of DNA that reflects prehistoric British ancestry. In other words they are about as indigenous to this island as indigenous could be.

        The “nation of immigrants”/”mongrel nation” argument is used by (mainly) those on the left who hate everything about our identity, history and culture, who promote uncontrolled immigration (“to rub the right’s nose in diversity”) and a multi-cultural concept where the languages, cultures and practices of newly-arrived foreign immigrants are treated (by the authorities) as being of equal if not prioritised value to those of the English and funded (by taxpayers) accordingly. English national identity is equated with racism, the far right and football hooliganism to discredit it and when our national and cultural identity is defended we are discriminated against and racially abused as “little englanders” – even on this blog.

        • David Lindsay

          This “mostly prehistoric DNA” argument turns up a lot on the blogosphere, but no one anywhere else has ever heard of it. An Internet myth; if one must, a meme.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Professor Stephen Oppenheimer, University of Oxford, a leading expert on DNA and tracking prehistoric migrations. His research and findings are far from being a myth, let alone a meme.


        My ancestors all go back a thousand years in East Anglia, with no reason not to assume they go back a thousand yeares before that. Having looked for anything exotic in my family tree the best I can manage is one frenchman in the 19th century. For the rest, we are all from Cambridgeshire on my mother and father’s side.

        So I am certainly not the child of immigrants and I have the right of countless generations to call this land my own home. We are not discussing whether the Welsh and the English have similar land-rights, and in any case most English are as Welsh as the Welsh. We are trying to deal with a situation where 50% of the capital city, one of the largest population centres in the world, is, after just a decade or two, no longer British at all but is a majority recent immigrant city. This is unprecedented and entirely destructive of our ancient Christian civilization.

        • FrankS

          Quite – but maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough.
          I quite often hear it claimed that “there’s no such thing as English, because they’re all descended from people who came from somewhere else” – this being used to condone unfettered immigration.
          I’m saying that this a meaningless argument, unless you’re prepared to claim that there’s no such thing as, for instance, French or Japanese (two random examples) since the people of every nation and tribe on earth came from somewhere else – they didn’t just spring out of the soil.