Coffee House

Is Owen Paterson hoping to become leader of the ‘Out’ camp in the 2017 referendum?

24 November 2014

3:36 PM

24 November 2014

3:36 PM

There may well be a battle in Labour for the party’s soul, but the same is certainly true of the Tory party. Owen Paterson’s speech today to Business for Britain is proof of that, with the former Environment Secretary arguing that Britain should leave the European Union. Paterson is certainly applying pressure on David Cameron before the election, arguing that he ‘doubts Britain’s ability to represent itself on the world stage’, but he is also auditioning for another big job, that of the leader of the ‘Out’ camp in the 2017 referendum.

There are a number of Conservative big beasts who already think that David Cameron will end up campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU no matter how good or bad the renegotiation settlement they get is. And they see this creating a vacancy in their party that could make the successful candidate very powerful indeed.

The leader of the ‘Out’ camp would create an alternative centre of gravity in the Conservative party. If Britain did vote to leave, that would mean the end of the career of the Prime Minister who campaigned to stay, and therefore the ‘Out’ leader would be in plum position to take over. But even if voters decided to stay, that rebel camp would be able to build up significant power amongst those voters and MPs who thought their Prime Minister should have taken the other side. That’s why Paterson, Liam Fox and David Davis are all limbering up to be the leading eurosceptic voices in the party. They may be thinking about short-term pressure on the PM, but there’s an even bigger long-term prize in their sights too.

Here’s Owen Paterson’s speech in full:

I. Introductory Remarks

What a pleasure it is to be with Business for Britain today. So much hangs on this organisation and its work. For a long time, the case for deeper European integration rested on an unsubstantiated yet largely unquestioned assumption that the EU suited our businesses. You are blowing that assumption out of the water.

Self-selecting surveys of CBI members may suggest enthusiasm for the Brussels system. But when firms are objectively polled by outside professional pollsters, a very different picture emerges. A major survey commissioned by your organisation earlier this year showed that, by 46 to 37 per cent, businesses believe that the regulatory costs of the EU currently outweigh the benefits of membership.

It will, I suspect, be some time before the establishment comes to understand that the CBI leadership and British business are two very different things. But, when it does, Business for Britain will deserve much of the credit. Patiently, factually, empirically, you are demonstrating that the big professional associations are not representative.

Yes, the EU may suit a handful of multi-nationals and mega-banks. It suits them, frankly, because, in many cases, they have invested time and money in lobbying Brussels to set regulations that help them and handicap their competitors. But these large corporations are not typical of business as a whole, either in this country or elsewhere in the EU. The overwhelming majority of people work in firms that have fewer than 50 employees.

Business for Britain has given them a voice. The thousand supporters whose names you published last month are genuinely representative. They cover manufacture and services, import and export, industry and finance, small medium and large companies. But they have one thing in common. Instead of being lobbyists or corporate affairs types, they are wealth creators, genuine entrepreneurs.

Now, at last, their agenda is being articulated. The case is being made for a relationship with our European neighbours that would suit all British companies whether they trade exclusively in our domestic market, the single European market or with continents beyond Europe.

II. History of the EU
A political project from conception, masquerading as an economic project

So today, I’d like to talk about the UK’s relationship with the EU. How we have come to be where we are, and how we can get to where we’d like to be.

I will argue that the European project was always political but was sold to the British people as an economic project. We have now come to a fork in the road where we cannot follow the Eurozone into a more integrated political entity. As they move away from us, we should grasp the opportunity to leave the current political arrangements and negotiate a new settlement, while keeping our vital position in the single market. This will give us huge economic advantages and re- establish our position as a leading player, in our own right, on the world stage.

Let’s start at the beginning. Not the entry terms accepted by Edward Heath in the early 1970s. Not even the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Nor the aftermath of the Second World War. The European project was forged in the crucible of the terrible battle of Verdun in 1916, which was observed by a young Frenchman, Jean Monnet. A decade later, working with Arthur Salter at the League of Nations, he devised the structure that was to become the European Union. It was published in September 1929 under the title “The ‘United States of Europe’ idea”.

Monnet’s idea, therefore, pre-dated Nazism, the decline of European dominance in trade, the rise of the US and the USSR as super powers, the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.

Nevertheless, with an idea already ill-fitted to the new geopolitical realities of the post-war world, Monnet, as a senior French civil servant, was now in a position to push his dream of a politically unified Europe.

Monnet drafted the Schuman Declaration which led on the 18th April 1951 to six men gathering in the French Foreign Ministry’s Salon de l’Horloge, to sign an accord unlike any other. The Treaty of Paris, which created the European Coal and Steel Community – the first direct ancestor of today’s EU – did not just bind its members, including France and Germany, as states. Rather, it created a new structure, superior to national jurisdictions.

The six signatories, scarred by the horrors through which their generation had passed, looked forward to a time when it would be impossible to wage a European war, because the materials needed to sustain one – coal and steel – would be under the control of a supranational bureaucracy.

Monnet became the first president of what he described as “the first government of Europe.” Then, in a fit of hubris, proposed setting a European Army and a European Political Community, bound by a European Constitution.

But after this political project was humiliatingly rejected, Monnet realised that his ambitious dream could only be built gradually, bit by bit, never declaring too openly its ultimate aim.

This became known as the “Monnet method”, or engrenage, to achieve political integration. The first of those steps was the creation of a unified trading area: a Common Market.

The launching of that “Common Market” with the Treaty of Rome in 1957 was never intended to be just an economic arrangement. It was the beginnings of an eventual “Government of Europe”. If the Common Market had only been intended to be just a trading arrangement, why was it necessary for it to be run by those four central institutions inherited from the League of Nations: a “European” Commission, a Council of Ministers, a Parliamentary Assembly and a “European” Court of Justice?

Right from the start, the “European project”, or “Le Projet“, as it came to be called, was always regarded by its insiders as a political venture. We can now see from the Cabinet papers of that time how successive prime ministers, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson and above all Edward Heath were made abundantly aware, behind the scenes, that the ultimate goal was full political integration.

But they were equally well aware that they could not admit this openly to the British people.

So the public and Parliament were presented with a “Common Market” – an economic project that joined together those original six nations, led by Germany and France, whose economies in the Fifties had made such a miraculous recovery from the war.

In fact, at the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the French economy had been enjoying growth rates unrivalled since the 19th century. In 1964, for the first time in 200 years, its GDP had overtaken that of the United Kingdom. In Germany, the effects of the Wirtschaftswunder were in full flow. In ten years, industrial production had multiplied fourfold and the purchasing power of wages had increased by 73 percent.

By then, having “lost an empire and not yet found a role”, Britain had become the sick man of Europe. Three years after joining the Common Market in 1976, it had the humiliating experience of calling in the IMF to “rescue” the pound.

It took Mrs Thatcher to resolve the very issues which had been dragging down our economy. It was her policies, not membership of the EEC, which set us back on course to economic prosperity.

By then what had become “the European Community” was galloping through the next stages of political integration: first the Single European Act, another step towards a “single Europe”; and then Maastricht, the treaty which turned the Community into a “European Union”. This finally set on its way that supreme symbol of European integration, a single European currency.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Major and Norman Lamont for negotiating at Maastricht an opt-out from the euro. Looking back, our decision not to join the Euro will be seen as the crucial moment in our relationship with the EU. Without that we would be caught in the same death spiral that is now dragging down the entire Eurozone economy.

III. Motivation for a Full Political Union Exposed

Contemporary Examples

It is no longer possible to disguise the political nature of the European project now that Monnet’s idea of a European Constitution was realised in the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 – despite it being rejected by the French and the Dutch in referendums of 2005.

In this light, we see the same pattern again and again: the adoption of EU national symbols, the euro, the social chapter, the phasing out of national vetoes. First, we’d be told that it wasn’t on the agenda at all. Then we’d be told it was technically on the agenda, but not to worry as the UK had a veto. Then, without any intervening stage, we’d find the thing was inevitable, agreed in principle years ago, and that there was no use complaining now.

The euro, was always seen as a crowning achievement of a political project – even at the expense of economic sense. The result, as we see today, is that it has turned much of Europe into an unhappy land of semi-permanent recession.

It is also worth reflecting how our respective fortunes have changed. Now after decades of social Europe the boot is on the other foot.

The bloc is now weighed down by its burdens and unable to deliver the growth which will restore prosperity. The economy is fatally unbalanced. Public spending takes 48.5 per cent of its combined GDP, yet the total employment rate stands at a mere 64.1 per cent.

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As Angela Merkel said recently, “Europe accounts for just over seven per cent of the world’s population, produces around 25 per cent of global GDP and 50 per cent of global social spending”.

Nothing more exemplifies the determination to pursue the political project regardless of economics than the manner in which the euro has been supported in breach of treaty provisions. As Christine Lagarde as French Finance Minister said:

“We violated all the rules because we wanted to close ranks and really rescue the euro zone. The Treaty of Lisbon was very straightforward. No bailouts.”

Whatever we think we have agreed to, as long as supreme power is exercised by the European Commission and Court, the rules can be changed after the event.

We have now come to the fork in the road. The Eurozone has to become, in effect, a new country to make a full redistributive federal state where there are legitimate means of transferring funds from the wealth creating areas such as Bavaria, Baden- Württemberg or Noord-Brabant to places like Andalucía, the Mezzogiorno and the Peloponnese where it is simply not possible to create wealth at the rate at which their countries joined the Euro.

In order to make such a shift legally watertight, particularly with reference to German constitutional arrangements, it is most likely that they will eventually need a new treaty.

In short, it is not so much that we are leaving the EU, as much as the political project of the EU has left us.

IV. Losing Influence Within The EU

There is little we can do to change things from the inside, as we are outvoted. When we joined, the UK had 20 percent of the votes in the European Parliament, today we have 9.5 percent. We had 17 percent of the votes in the Council of Ministers, now we have eight. The UK has not managed to block a single proposal from the Commission passing through the Council despite trying 55 times.

In the meantime the cost of membership has risen by 200 percent in the last decade during which our economy has grown by only 14 percent and adding further insult, since Tony Blair bungled the negotiations on the rebate for non-reforms of the CAP we have lost £10billion. The latest extraordinary twist was the demand from the EU for £1.7billion. Much of this is well known and publicly debated but a further damaging feature of the current arrangements is the issue of disallowance. This is effectively a fine imposed in a frequently arbitrary manner on a member state by unelected officials in the Commission bureaucracy.

I was astonished to find on my first day in DEFRA that the UK is paying £600 million in disallowance back to the EU for the incompetent manner in which the last CAP reform was implemented by the last Labour government. Many people are unaware that UK Cabinet Ministers make daily decisions on issues not according to the merits of the case but on a fine judgement as to whether a certain course of action may incur infraction proceedings followed by a large disallowance claim. Totally unpredicted and capricious interpretations of nuances of European law by Commission officials can also have a catastrophic effect on real people and businesses. Currently, 2,000 jobs may be at risk because the rules on emissions affecting Aberthaw power station in South Wales have been summarily re- interpreted.

I was further alarmed by our inability to influence decisions at European level on the issue of neonicotinoids. I had clear scientific advice that these were safe to use and considerably better for the environment than any alternatives. But I also received 85,000 e-mails as part of a international campaign organized by Green NGOs. The Commission rolled over under this pressure and imposed a Europe- wide ban, ignoring my call for more field trials. It is worth reflecting that the Commission paid €150 million (£119 million) to the top nine green NGOs between 2007 and 2013. It’s therefore shocking that Professor Anne Glover, the European Commission President’s scientific advisor, was sacked last week and her post abolished. Her views on GM foods supported the UK Government, but were repellent to the “GREEN BLOB”.

V. Losing Influence On The World Stage:
1/28 of a Chair Or a Whole Chair at ‘Top Tables’

Above all, this illustrates how often our Ministers are over-ruled. We are told that being outside the EU would significantly diminish our influence by removing ourselves from the negotiating table of the world’s largest trading bloc.

Nothing could, in fact, be further from the truth.

Decision-making takes place at a global level through a variety of bodies and regulations. And we do not have seats at these “top tables” as we have handed power to the European Commission to represent us along with 27 other Member States. On these global councils, we have one twenty-eighth of one seat.

What so very few understand about this process is that the game changed substantially in 1994. It was then that the EU adopted the WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement.11 This incredibly important instrument requires the participating parties (including the EU) to adopt international standards in preference to their own. Thus, if any other international body, adopts standards which impinge on the EU’s laws, it is obliged to scrap them and implement the new standards.

This provision is not optional. The Agreement uses the word “shall”, which is why the EU has no choice but to progressively replace its laws with international rules.

As DEFRA Secretary, I was only too well aware of how these changes affect us. Many of the Single Market food standards my former department has to implement are no longer made in Brussels. They have gone up a level and are now made by Codex Alimentarius, which reports to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in Rome. Yet we would often learn of them only after they had been handed down to Brussels and when it was too late to change anything.

This is no small matter. As well as Codex, the FAO hosts two other standard- making organisations, the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), which deals with animal health, and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Both fix standards which are adopted by the EU as Single Market legislation, only then for it to be passed back down to us. Once they are set at international level, Brussels does not have the power to change them.

I was particularly struck on a visit to New Zealand 18 months ago how my counterparts saw how vital it was to build alliances and work with like-minded nations to promote legislation or amend other countries’ proposals. At that time they were particularly exercised about a specific proposal on the OIE affecting the sheep industry crucial to NZ farmers. They were particularly pleased to have got the Australians on side and believed that gaining the support of Canada and the US would see a key amendment through.

When I asked why they had not asked for the UK’s influence on this matter, they said that the UK’s position was entirely represented by the EU: even though we have one of the largest sheep flocks in the world. I left feeling stung by these comments and totally disheartened by our lack of influence but also galvanised by the belief that we could serve our own industries so much better if we, as a sovereign nation, retook our rightful place on these various global regulatory bodies.

Similarly, Norway’s position is abusively dismissed as simply submitting to EU law by fax machine. Norway is a member of the EEA, the area of the 28 EU member states and the three EFTA states. Norway has a huge fishing industry and plays an enormously important role in promoting regulations concerning fish in Codex.

The fact that when a regulation is finally agreed, it is formally disseminated to all members of the EEA including Norway, is wholly irrelevant to their key role in negotiating the detail alongside the EU. Once the regulation is agreed at international level by Norway and the EU it cannot be changed by the EU. Norway makes representation to Codex by itself, and the UK could do the same. These are regulations we will need to submit to either way, so why not submit to them having had a decent chance to influence them as Norway does?

The range of international standards shaping the Single Market acquis is staggering. In the all-important car industry, for instance, the regulatory focus has moved from Brussels to Geneva. There, the EU’s Single Market standards start as “UN Regulations” produced by the World Forum for the Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations. Known as WP.29, it is hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

European vehicle production is extraordinarily integrated; the UK produces 1.6 million cars but produces 2.6 million engines. Most of these engines are exported to Europe. As we move to world standards of vehicle production we would be at a massive advantage if we were directly represented, on the body influencing standards, in our industry’s interest.

Then there is the regulation affecting the financial services industry – which is of such great importance to the City of London. In the past, much of this was made in Brussels. Now, most of the important rules come from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

As important is the Paris-based Financial Stability Board (FSB), chaired by Mark Carney. Founded in April 2009 by the G20 and working with the OECD, it has a mandate to coordinate national financial authorities and international standard- setting bodies. It is also tasked with developing and promoting the implementation of effective regulatory, supervisory and other financial sector policies.

In the past, Ministers had to travel to Brussels to make their case, and to keep an eye on new laws, but with the advance of globalisation we now need to be represented in Geneva, Paris, Berne, Rome and elsewhere.

Outside the EU, we would be working directly with these organisations, building alliances with likeminded nations, deciding the rules the EU is obliged to adopt – as do Norway, New Zealand and the United States.

VI. Both a Single Market And Global Trade

a) A single market

It is critical to remember that the economic Single Market and the political EU are not one and the same thing. We are perfectly at liberty to pursue participation in the Single Market without being saddled with the EU as a political project. Membership of the EEA allows full participation in the Single Market without being in the EU, as enjoyed by Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. Those such as the CBI, who confuse the memberships of the Single Market and the EU are making a basic error and misleading the British people.

The argument that leaving the EU would damage our ability to continue this trade with our European neighbours massively underestimates the huge selfish and strategic interest that our neighbours have in ensuring our continued lively position in the Single Market.

In 2013 the EU exported £221bn of goods to the UK supporting 5 million jobs on the continent. We exported £155bn of goods to the bloc, leaving a deficit on account of £66bn, up from £40bn in 2011. We imported £57bn-worth of goods from Germany and £24bn from France, with a surplus between these two countries of £30bn.

Given these surpluses, it is hard to imagine that our EU trading partners would wish to break off trading relations. To suggest that leaving the EU would put at risk three million jobs attributed to UK exports to the EU is, therefore, puerile because we will continue to export to the Single Market. The EU does not deliver jobs. It is the Single Market comprising the 31-member EEA which delivers.

So we can leave the political project and enter into a truly economic project with Europe via the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EEA. We would still enjoy the trading benefits of the EU, without the huge cost of the political baggage.

b) Global trade

However, freedom from the political trappings of Europe would free us from restrictions and penalties in developing trade with nations outside the EU.

The UK has successfully traded all around the world for centuries. In addition to our trade with Europe post-EU, we can expand trade with global partners. And other bodies exist that can determine regional trade relationships with Europe, free from direct control of Brussels. Every continent on Earth is now experiencing economic growth except Europe. China grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013 while the EU shrank by 0.3 per cent, for example.

The UK should take a lead in kick-starting a programme of regulatory convergence to rebuild the global trading system. Regulation is often much misunderstood. Much of it is restrictive and costly, to be avoided, but a distinction needs to be made between proscriptive and enabling legislation. Well-crafted enabling laws which set global standards, prevent importing countries from creating their own blocking legislation which restricts trade. We should focus on making sure that the global acquis is well-crafted and relevant, breaking down barriers rather than building them.

The UK could regain its role as a driver for international free trade. The post-WWII settlement saw the re-emergence of multilateralism, with GATT and then the WTO, only then to have the movement founder on the Doha round, from which it has yet to recover. The Director-General of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, says his institution has descended into “paralysis”. By any measure, multilateralism is on life support.

However, bilateralism is not faring any better. Huge regional trade deals, such as that between the EU and the US under TTIP, are in theory immensely beneficial. But having discussed the agricultural element, of the proposed TTIP deal with my then counterpart in Washington, it was clear that a trade deal worth $300 billion could easily fail on the Greek insistence on an exclusive definition for Feta cheese and the American defence of washing chicken carcasses in chlorine. It was frustrating to see how much we agreed with the Americans on so many issues and their potential enthusiasm for pursuing a bilateral trade deal with us.

Rather than wasting energy on seeking agreements on things we will never agree, therefore, we need a change of strategy. We should focus more narrowly, concentrating on the things we can agree about.

We should be looking at “unbundling” – separate, unlinked deals, made at sector or even product level. These are deals which can be reached quickly and easily without the baggage that goes with so many free trade agreements.

Two key targets alone could yield huge dividends: the pharmaceutical and automobile sectors. Rationalisation applied to the global pharmaceutical industry, with a turnover close to one trillion US dollars, could deliver annual savings in the order of $50 billion without any fundamental changes to the regulatory system. Lack of regulatory standardisation between the EU and US adds 20 per cent to the costs of exporting cars to the United States.

c) Immigration

While we are talking about the realities of globalisation, it is important to look at the issue of migration – an issue that featured so heavily in last week’s by-election in Rochester and Strood.

In the first instance, immigration in other EU/EEA countries is very much higher than in the UK. Against the UK with its 13 per cent, Norway is 14.9 per cent and Switzerland is 23 per cent. Outside Europe, the Australian points system much lauded by UKIP has 27 per cent first generation immigrants. Clearly, there is a lot more to immigration than just the “freedoms” in the EU treaty, and there are many measures we can take – and already are beginning to take – which can help reduce migrant pressure.

Furthermore, much of the problematical immigration into this country stems not just from the EU but from the European Convention of Human Rights. This is exacerbated by the rulings of judges in the court at Strasbourg and by our own UK courts implementing the Human Rights Act. Repeal of the HRA and adoption of new Bill of Rights, breaking free from the ECHR, would also relieve us of migrant pressure, including such absurdities as not being able to deport illegal immigrants who come to us via Calais, because – according to our judges – France is not a “safe” country for asylum seekers.

Outside the EU and freed from the writ of the ECHR, “freedom of movement” within the EEA could be limited to free movement of workers, without having to accept dependents and members of their extended families.

This is exactly what David Cameron wants when he said last year that he thought free movement within the EU “needed to be returned to the original concept, which was the freedom to be able to go and work in another country”. But, if we are to benefit from the Single Market, we must at least accept that provision.

And we must look seriously at migration as a global issue with massive economic and developmental implications. In Africa alone, the “brain drain” to sophisticated Western economies has cost emergent nations nearly $9 billion in lost human capital and growth potential since 1997.28 It would be so much better if we could work together to expand this capital to our mutual benefit, growing their own economies. The UK needs to be fully involved at a global level, integrating its entire range of relevant policies to that end – foreign policy, aid, trade, defence, and domestic portfolios – all to address the “push” or “pull” factors which drive the mass movement of people.

VII. An Optimistic, Positive Vision – The UK After the EU

So where could we be by 2020? The biggest problem we face is that until now nobody has painted a really optimistic picture of our future should we stand aside and allow the Eurozone to press on, forging a new political entity. This would allow us to embrace wholeheartedly the Single Market through an EEA/EFTA arrangement and claim back our deserved place on the key world decision making bodies.

We are set to be the largest economy in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. The English language is the language of world trade. We have exceptionally close relationships with not only the US but the whole of the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada and New Zealand. We have unique links to the Commonwealth whose trade is worth around $4 trillion. From within this great organisation, we can work closely with large numbers of African nations who are beginning to emerge into prosperity. We have especially close links to the growing nations of South Asia.

Likewise, strong historical ties with Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore which have in no way marred our ability to work with the emerging superpower of China. Our geographical position, equidistant from Los Angeles and Hong Kong gives London, the world’s most international city, a huge advantage.

It is hard to think of any other country that can benefit more from its unique position, its long history of international trade and global cooperation whilst also embracing all the advantages of modern technology in a dynamic 21st Century economy. We should grasp this opportunity to gain an enormous advantage for our children and grandchildren.

Our democratic institutions and not just our common law system but our respect and adherence to the rule of law, have been exported around the world. We simply do not need to have our lives ruled by an organisation in which our own elected politicians can be overruled by unelected civil servants and whose concept of government emerged from the horrors of the First World War.

I would like to see our Government brought back within the control of our own Parliament. Ministers should be properly accountable to Parliament for all aspects of Government. This would give the British people the ability to remove their real rulers by voting. Our politics would be reinvigorated. I find it extraordinary that many in our establishment mock this prospect. As a nation we are second to none in so many spheres of human activity. Our universities, scientific research, medicine, arts, music, literature and sports lead the world. Why do we doubt our ability to represent ourselves on the world stage?

VIII. An Orderly Exit – Invoking Article 50

There is too little discussion on how we should engineer an orderly transition from our position as a half-hearted member of the EU to a confident, independent member of the global community.

In my view, the public will never fully commit to the independence they most likely want unless we can show that a smooth, orderly transition is possible. In other words, answering the question of how we leave the political arrangements of EU is every bit as important as addressing the question why. Even people who are broadly in favour of withdrawal are unlikely to commit to the process unless they are assured that all the angles have been covered. A definitive plan will give the necessary reassurance.

Voters have not been presented with a clear vision of what life outside the EU would look like for the UK and in the absence of any detail I am convinced that if an “in-out” referendum were held today, there would be a natural tendency to vote for the status quo. The establishment view will be clearly to stay within the political organisation of the EU.

The answer to this is to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is the only legally binding mechanism that we can use to require the rest of the EU to enter formal negotiations with us, on setting out a new relationship. It allows two years for negotiations, so there would still be time for a referendum in 2017. This would now be on the outcome of the talks, when the details of the settlement would be known.

There should be a manifesto commitment to invoke Article 50 after a successful General Election. Such a commitment could be enormously attractive to uncommitted voters and would give our negotiators a very clear mandate.

On such a basis, the referendum can allow the British people to make an informed choice, as between leaving the political project of the European Union, whilst enjoying the advantages of the Single Market, or committing fully to political integration, which should include participating in the single currency.

Once the decision to invoke Article 50 has been made, agreement should be concluded as rapidly as possible. But speedy negotiations impose certain constraints. We should remember that the Swiss bilateral agreements with the EU took 16 years to negotiate. The much-vaunted EU-South Korea FTA took almost 18 years to come to fruition – in the form of a 1,336-page trading agreement.

We need, therefore, to pick a proven, off-the-shelf plan. However, our participation in the Single Market is fundamental to protecting the UK’s economic position. This brings us to the only realistic option, which is to stay within the EEA agreement. The EEA is tailor made for this purpose and can be adopted by joining EFTA first. This becomes the “Norway option”. We have already seen that Norway has more influence in international decision-making than we do as an EU Member State. Using the EEA ensures full access to the Single Market and provides immediate cover for leaving the political arrangements of the EU.

To ensure continuity and avoid any disruption to the Single Market, we would also repatriate the entire Acquis and make it domestic law, giving us time to conduct a full review in good order.

However, we should reflect that it took 40 years to progress to this stage of integration and we are not going to resolve all the issues in one stage. For the longer term, we would need to progress from the EEA to ensure a genuine Europe- wide Single Market, working on a truly intergovernmental basis. One possible alternative would be to strengthen the regional UNECE regime to administer this as an economic project. By negotiating directly across the board, we would cut out the middle man, and substantially enhance the transparency of the system.

With a more durable European solution, we would be better able to promote our economic interests, we would also be able to take a lead in revitalising international trade. Free from the EU we would have real influence on shaping the global regulatory models where true power lies. The UK would have a key role in building transparency with enormous benefits to tackling organised crime, such as human trafficking, addressing issues of migration constructively.

In conclusion, the Eurozone has already embarked upon a path that we can never follow. We are simply recognising that reality. We must either be fully committed to “Le Projet” or we must build an entirely new relationship. The British people must be allowed to make that decision. Article 50 is the best method of making this happen.

By this means we would forge ahead and resume our rightful place as a global leader. With our own independent status, working closely with our many allies, we would massively increase our influence.

As Churchill said, “We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not comprised. We are interested and associated but not absorbed”. He was right then and he is right now. Get this message across and the UK has a spectacular future as a flourishing world power.

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Show comments
  • global city

    the ‘benefits’ of the Single Market are grossly over exaggerated. It is not worth gifting an ounce of independence and political sovereignty to maintain it’s grip on us.

  • paulus

    Who will lead ? As I remember every marshal of France’s statue is displayed around the Louve, individual glory is irrelevant. The most important thing is that every argument is self supporting but operates as part of a whole, until finally the picture is drawn and the narrative unfolds.

    The first point of contact is irrelevant so long as all the ground is covered first, then dice and dissect, seperate them, hopelessness with hope, answers to confustion. Without a grain of emotion the rational of our position must unfold, until a breach is secured then pore forth. And never use the word exit again, its evolution, they are after all our allies, where not there to decapitate them.

    Never loose disciple or contact.

  • timinsingapore

    I see Owen Paterson as a perpetually reliable source of wrong answers. Furthermore, I don’t trust any modern politician who invokes Churchill. Very dodgy. At least he didn’t call him ‘dear Winston’, as Mrs Thatcher did so irritatingly, as did that Du Cann chappie.

  • timinsingapore

    I see Owen Paterson as a perpetually reliable source of wrong answers.

  • TruthBeatsLies

    He’s still desperate to pocket that juicy retainer the States promised him, if he can finally pull the UK out of trading compliance with the EU’s organic food regulations – into full submission with America’s GM food marketing instead…!!!

  • TruthBeatsLies

    Paterson is still desperate to pocket a juicy retainer the USA has promised him, if he can finally pull the UK out of compliance with the EU’s food regulations…! Uncle Sam demands nothing less than Britain’s full acceptance of America’s multi-billion Dollar GM food marketing instead…!!!

    So he’s trying to scare the UK out of Europe… Just like Farage is…!!!

  • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

    Why do not the English just get on with it and leave the EU ?

    • AJAX

      Because we’re currently trapped under the political governance of a stagnant & treasonous political order that sold us into it & has every intention of continuing to do so. But things are changing at last with UKIP’s arrival on the scene.

      • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

        As a Scot I feel your disgust with Westminster which has no sense of decency. I just note that we are trying to do something about it, win or lose.

  • AJAX

    The leader of the ‘Out’ camp is Farage.

  • Conway

    Owen Paterson appears to have had a “road to Damascus” moment since he was sacked. Before that, he was happy to vote against giving us a referendum, against affirming the sovereignty of Parliament, against reducing the amount we send to the EU and for giving the EU more money. Do we look at what he says or at what he’s done? It’s only words. Once he’s got himself re-elected should he win over the waverers who ought to vote for the real deal, UKIP, he will, no doubt, revert to type and it will be goodbye to any chance of getting out of the EU.

  • ortac

    Just watched Owen Paterson on Newsnight being constantly interrupted and spoken over by Evan Davis to a point where it was getting ridiculous. I really wanted to hear what Paterson had to say, but the interviewer was determined to send him off course.

    • Aunty Estab

      Yes, he should have said either let me speak or I`m off and done it if Davis wouldn`t shut up, it`s time someone stood up to him.

  • misomiso

    Owen Paterson should lead the Out campaign only if the Eurosceptics want to lose.

  • John Andrews

    Well said, indeed, especially about the need to invoke Article 50. But there is a parallel difficulty in getting the Tory Party to agree with your good sense. The best thing would be for you to make a declaration that you will join UKIP if the Tory Party does not take your advice. You could think of this as your own ‘Article 50 manoeuvre’.

    • Conway

      I shouldn’t think UKIP would want him given his voting record. There are only five MPs with a more pro-EU voting record than Paterson.

  • The Masked Marvel

    There are a number of Conservative big beasts who already think that
    David Cameron will end up campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU no
    matter how good or bad the renegotiation settlement they get is.

    So it’s not just a few far-right commenters here who’ve been saying that, eh, Isabel? Who could have imagined that even Conservative MPs noticed that Cameron stated very plainly on the BBC after the recent EU elections that he’d recommend staying in even if he did dare hold a referendum, while the Spectator contributors seem not to have noticed. As you keep telling Tory leadership to go down the pub and listen to what voters have to say, you might want to pay more attention to what your readers are saying instead of dismissing them.

    This spells the end for your nutty backbenchers/Little Englanders narrative.

  • anneallan

    What a brilliant speech.

  • james allen

    Spot on. Excellent speech…. Mr Paterson is a hugely impressive figure on the right. Two reasons we won’t leave the EU:
    1. BBC
    2. Tory wets (Cameron, May, Boris etc).

  • Lady Magdalene

    Nice to see Paterson acknowledging that the Conservative Party DELIBERATELY set out to deceive and betray the British people.

    Unfortunately, he’s propping up a Prime Minister and a Party that intends to continue doing just that.

    • Full Name

      1975 is evidence enough:-

      * “(Common Market)” instead of “Ever Closer Union” = A False Choice Referendum to all the people who voted.

      = A Stitch Up which is documented here:

      FCO 30/1048 – Sovereignty and the European Communities

      You can google it or Heath’s treacherously changing statements even.

    • Conway

      Not to mention his voting record being very pro-EU.

    • Makroon

      IF, IF the Conservatives are returned in 2015, and the referendum happens, it will be in 2017 – mid-term.
      If Cameron is still PM and recommends staying, it is quite likely that the majority will vote No just to spite him (the X-factor generation will be totally fatigued with him by then), and “buyers regret” will have set in, with a bright, new (sic) Labour leader..
      If he wants the UK to stay in, he might do better by saying we should leave !

  • ManOfKent

    Its a shame Paterson has blown his credibility on this mealy mouthed piece of Tory double speak. The more I read this the more I think of it as a fake. Elsewise he wasn’t doing badly but its clear the 2nd rule of politics applies:

    You can’t trust the Tories over Europe

    • Conway

      You are right not to trust him – he’s the sixth most pro-EU MP when it comes to voting according to the Bruges group. Talks a good talk, but doesn’t vote accordingly.

  • right_writes

    I believe that Mr. Paterson has very close intellectual links to Mr. Booker and Dr. North (the researcher)… Most of this stuff will be found on Dr. North’s website EUREFERENDUM

    Dr. North is fanatically anti-UKIP (Farage in particular) and this will not be his first stab at offering an alternative to UKIP…

    As is usual, there are some very good theories and stratagems, based on extremely good research… but it has one major fault…

    The CONservative Party has always had a group of MP’s (and MEP’s) that belong to organisations like Better Off Out, or the Bruges Group or something, they rattle on endlessly, presumably happy in the knowledge that the party will NEVER change its policy on the EU. It is and always has been (to the extent that some of its leaders are arguably guilty of treachery) fanatically pro.

    Presumably, this is why Carswell and Reckless and who knows how many others (barring Paterson of course) have finally had enough.

    The only way to get these ideas off of the ground is to form a new party, or perhaps influence UKIP…

    UTURN IF YOU WANT TO

    The LABCON ain’t for turning.

    • Foxy Loxy

      North comes up with good ideas and understands the technical side of things, but he’s a waste of time because of his insistence that it’s the Tories who are going to get us out.

      To quote Iain Paisley: Never, never, never, never…

      • Conway

        And Paterson is tainted by his voting record. You can’t trust someone who has consistently voted for the EU to be believed when he starts trying to front an anti-EU movement. He should have put his money where his mouth is. Now it’s too late; he’s just trying to keep people voting for him.

        • RAENorth

          Paterson confroms with the doctrine of collective responsibility. As a Cabinet minister, he has had no alternative but to vote with the Government.

      • RAENorth

        As opposed to UKIP which is a total waste of space when it comes to having any credible policy ideas?

  • anyfool

    It is a good thing that people are now starting to come up with solid ideas concerning to exit of the UK from the EU.
    If Patterson can flesh out a solid plan over the next two months that is credible enough to bind the party together, would leave an opportunity for it to ditch Cameron.
    That Cameron would have to go if Patterson makes good headway is a given, he could hardly inspire confidence in the country that this action would be enacted if he was still in power.
    This could be the first step by the Tory Party to regain some traction with the public, it is probably its only hope of a majority.

  • somewhereinthesouth

    A very good and informative summary of the history, issues and the way forward re the EU. The Scottish independence vote shows the need for a clear and well articulated position about leaving a union and in part Scotland foundered because some of the key questions [ the currency , financial relations , trade could not be adequately answered]. it is clear to me that a well thought out plan for our [ possible] exit is therefore both desirable and necessary. Some one needs to set out how the future will look so a positive and this is a good start. Owen Patterson has just gone up in estimation in my book. [ I wont be waiting to the BBC (or indeed Channel 4) to set out the case for exit of the EU it as it is completely incapable of detaching it self from the liberal establishment internationalist agenda to which it , or more likely its journals and leaders subscribe].

    If real reform can happen in the EU then there MAY be a case for remaining [ and i suspect Cameron will be persuaded whatever ] . However i doubt reform [even if possible] will be significant and more importantly how it could work in practice given the EZ has to become MORE integrated over time given the Euro – as such even a reformed EU will still look more like a political and economic union as opposed to a free trade area more acceptable to Britain. The truth is the EU is set to either fall apart due to its own contradictions and internal stresses airing from the Euro and the hair-shirt polices it has spawned , or it will become a United States of Europe with a full blown federal system. Neither looks suitable for Britain which is still quite different from much of Europe in many ways. It is one of the oldest nations in Europe with different traditions, a separate legal common law system, historic world view and a strong political/democratic/ construsonal system going back centuries. We should therefore start to paint a postive picture of the UK once outside this moribund and capricious and undemocratic institution . We can make start with joining EFTA.

  • Greygoose

    What a sad pack of lies, folk myths and false promises. Heath was honest about the European project, read the foremost British constitutional historian:
    http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-referendum-on-europe-1975
    “A Government pamphlet was sent to every household..It did mention sovereignty and the need to share it.” “One of the critics of Europe, Enoch Powell, accepted that the referendum had been about sovereignty.”

    Funny how Owen doesn’t mention that the car companies producing all
    those engines, employing 130,000 people, are dead against the UK leaving
    the EU.

    The UK is one of the big three in the EU, we have huge influence. But the idea that our 1 tiny chair will even be at the same table if we leave the EU is a joke. The power we get through the EU in international negotiations is immense. Of course, newpapers don’t report on the British civil servants sitting in all these international organisations representing the EU, or writing their briefing papers and setting their agendas, because its boring. But they’re there.

    No nation has complete sovreignty any more. Deal with it. Leaving the EU will condemn future generations to a much worse time of it than we’re having now in the aftermath of a miserable once a lifetime depression.

    Sad to see conservatives so cowardly about standing up for what they’ve considered to be Britiain’s national interest for 40 years.

    • Denis_Cooper

      “A Government pamphlet was sent to every household .. It did mention sovereignty and the need to share it.”

      Here is the text of that pamphlet:

      http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

      and here is its only mention of “sovereignty”:

      “Fact No. 3. The British Parliament in Westminster retains the final right to repeal the Act which took us into the Market on January 1, 1973. Thus our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament.

      The White Paper on the new Market terms recently presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister declares that through membership of the Market we are better able to advance and protect our national interests. This is the essence of sovereignty.”

      Well, I wonder if Vernon Bogdanor would actually teach that to his students as being “the essence of sovereignty”; if so presumably he taught it to the present Prime Minister.

  • Doug

    The Norway option again?

    At least it’s a start, but we need to think bigger and more creatively and get a UK option.

  • Colin56

    Is this the same Owen Paterson who did nothing while the good people of the Somerset Levels paddled in flood waters for three months at the end of last year, and only pulled his finger out when the poshos of Windsor and Datchet started to get their feet wet? If so, it’s a remarkable transformation – from a do-nothing metro centric to advocating a ‘courageous’ negotiating strategy to hold our EU ‘colleagues’ feet to the fire. Trouble is, Cameron’s got to mean it if he says it – and he’s got such a poor record in that respect that the good burghers of Brussels may well say ‘pull the other one’. No, i think Mr Paterson may be slightly setting out a stall for a post-Cameronian world. In my view, that can’t come fast enough. We’ve now had three disastrous prime ministers in succession: I think we deserve someone who will actually do what they say they will do. However, as always in these matters, fat chance!

    • Conway

      Paterson is setting out a stall to entice the wavering voters of North Shropshire to vote for him and not UKIP.

  • swatnan

    He has the same manic look as Chris Huhne, and both are losing their hair.

  • Full Name

    Isabel I don’t read this as “Game Of Thrones”.I read this as Paterson doing what NEEDS to be done:

    >”“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”

    ― Thomas Henry Huxley

    This is a real step-up where words are based on knowledge and where actions are based on words.

    • Conway

      Paterson doing what needs to be done – to save his seat, not the country.

  • John Carins

    Paterson and Tebbit are beginning to talk sense. They are however still voices in the wilderness of pro EU conservatism. If they are genuine and want to make the point more forcibly they should defect to UKIP. We have had this sort of ploy before.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      UKIP aren’t just about leaving the EU so why would they want to join ?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …because the Camerloons are lying and there is no chance a legitimate out vote will be permitted to take place, by any of LibLabCon. If these men want one, they’ll have to look elsewhere .

    • Conway

      I can’t speak for Lord Tebbit, but Paterson is, or more correctly, has been until UKIP started breathing down his neck, very pro EU. He talks a good talk, but his voting record speaks for itself. It is not anti-EU to vote against reducing the amount we pay or for giving the EU more money. You would think that an MP who wanted to stand up for this country would have voted to affirm the sovereignty of Parliament – Paterson didn’t, just as he voted against letting us have a referendum in 2011.

      • John Carins

        Good point. Paterson is either doing this as a ploy or because of his personal antipathy against Cameron. He could also be someone for whom the light has come on in his conservative head.

  • http://batman-news.com The Commentator

    Confirms what we have always known, the Tories are co-conspirators in the plot to abolish Britain as a nation state. The only political party in Britain committed to preserving our independence and sovereignty is UKIP. The voters now understand this well enough but the British press are still backing the Quislings and Petainists. For now.

    • rolandhaines

      What load of unmitigated horlicks. And anyway, how dare you pedal such lies.

      • Denis_Cooper

        I can’t spot any serious lie, as such, in what Commentator has written, just a couple of exaggerations that he should have avoided:

        “Confirms what we have always known, the Tories are co-conspirators in the plot to abolish Britain as a nation state.”

        That’s not really true, most of us haven’t always known that, and some of us still haven’t understood it.

        “The voters now understand this well enough but the British press are still backing the Quislings and Petainists.”

        Once again that’s not really true, many voters do now understand it but on the other hand it still hasn’t dawned on many others.

    • Stuart Mackey

      And the trouble with Ukip is a lack of a viable plan to get the UK out of the EU without causing massive economic problems, but at least their heart is in the right place. Perhaps Owen Patterson should replace Farage as ukip leader, he knows what he is talking about

      • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

        What massive economic problems? we trade more from them than they do us so a trade agreement is a certainty but even if the EU as a whole spits their collective dummies out the pram then the EU will stagnate for two years without the UK’s required signature for any new treaty’s.

        • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

          And I forgot…………………….

          Vote UKIP.

        • Stuart Mackey

          Its in the detail, Japan will not trade with you unless they are 100 percent certain that your regulations comply with their heath and safety law, for example, and if the you leave the EU unilaterally, for example, what law applies to British goods then when your regulations were set by treaty run fro Brussels and are not now?

          • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

            What a ridiculous argument, we do not need the EU to know what Japan’s importing rules are as they publish them themselves.

            Our country exports to almost every country in the world and our businesses will continue to do so when we leave the EU because other countries standards simply are not a problem.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Well we just carry on ensuring that our exports to Japan are compliant with the standards they specify as we have always done. Japan makes its requirements public to facilitate such trade. By your ‘logic’ it would only be possible to trade with Japan if you are a member of the EU which is patent nonsense. The USA, Norway, Canada, Australia etc etc trade with Japan and the last time I looked, none of them was stupid enough to be a member of the EU.

      • ManOfKent

        What massive economic problems? Honestly the levels of hysterical scaremongering from (Tory?) Europhiliacs is risible…….

        • Stuart Mackey

          Oh ffs, trade is governed by law, by treaty and regulation, you are governed by brussels law and have beenfor 40 odd years, do you think that can be replaced on a mere whim, especially when you no longer have anyone who knows how the international system works?

          Incidentally, I think the UK should leave the EU, but to do so successfully it must be done in a structured manner.

      • Conway

        You really want a man who thinks that the EU should take precedence over our Parliament as a leader of UKIP? Paterson voted against affirming the sovereignty of Parliament. I think that tells you all you need to know about him, but just for good measure he voted against reducing the amount we pay to the EU and for giving the EU more money.

        • Stuart Mackey

          I think you will find that he was bound by party disipline and cabinet responsibility when that happened. These are interesting consitutional concepts dating back to the 18th century and well worth looking up to gain an understanding of why the government sounds like they are lying in unison.

  • Mr Starter

    Why not keep it simple – Should we stay,join the eurozone,become a state in USE or should we leave and find our own way?

    • Stuart Mackey

      You nèed to reread it, there must be a plan

      • Mr Starter

        I think one should be able to ask the question and know the answer, it should not depend on a calculation but on what you feel is right.

  • ManOfKent

    Its worth noting that Paterson’s adherence to free movement of labour and therefore opposed to controlling immigration. He’s denying the country one of the key benefits of withdrawal (the ability of government to control our borders). Arguably much of the labour we would want would be better coming from outside the EU anyway given how the EU is seemingly in terminal decline (there are only so many roles for polish plumbers and labourers). It is a socially disastrous corporatist view of the issue. Once a Tory always a Tory……

    As such his positioning will never get widespread support outside the Westminster Freakshow! Consequently he would be a lousy choice for leading the out campaign. Without ensuring immigration control any out campaign is toothless. So I think in this speech Paterson has just ruled himself out of leading the out campaign because UKIP will not back him and that is about half of the out vote. Paterson can go and schmooze the CBI but thats about it.

    • Full Name

      Have you read the speech my friend?

      1. Leaving the EU means getting rid of the ECHRs and the EU’s adoption of it’s “family reunification” element atst by leaving BOTH. This is worth far more to the UK than the EEA migrants. See Migration Watch:

      Migration Watch UK Press Comment on CReAM’s revised report ‘The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK’

      Secondly via the EEA and transition it’s possible to put a sort of “break” for a short period of time depending on condiitons and negotiations. It’s not something to bank on however.

      2. Secondly the function of EEA membership is a clear choice in a referendum question vs a clear choice of joining the federal USE + EURO! This is the first step to get out, then to get out of the ECHRs then to get out of…

      Are you following. So the idea is that by stages we get out, but we eventually do get out and that is the most important thing.

      To suggest we can leap out of 40 years of this integration in one leap is not realistic.

      3. When out there’s myriad global organization we need to work with concerning the push factors that we cannot due to not possessing enough influence in the EU and it’s equally failing Migration Policy on it’s borders.

      • ManOfKent

        Oh god not more mealy mouthed Tory spinning and smoke and mirrors. Its very simple. EEA and EFTA demand free movement of labour and therefore uncontrolled immigration.

        This latest Tory wheeze of the immigration emergency brake is about as credible as their referendum lock that changed nothing (e.g the EAW).

        Its very simple what is needed. An end to free movement of labour. The Implementation of Australian style quotas and a debate annually on the levels of immigration required. End of story.

        On the basis of this speech Paterson has discounted himself from leading a No campaign! UKIP will likely not back him

        But here’s a question for you. If Switzerland can implement quotas why can’t the UK? Frankly your whining excuses reek of Europhilia. So do me a favour ‘FRIEND’ and go forth and multiply!

        PS Such blathering reminds of one Hookeslaw of this parish. You’ve not changed your name to avoid the much deserved abuse aimed at you have you?

        • Full Name

          Whoa! I can appreciate the invective being put up with when supporting UKIP out of perfectly good principles and hence a suspicion of “foul-play”.

          I’m not a Tory “true blue” to put your mind at ease!

          But I think you may like to appreciate: When you first hear of leaving the EU it via repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and joining the WTO, which technically could be done in a day through Westminster.

          Unfortunately, 40 years of “The Great Deception” by our own government and the EU has made things more complicated in practice.

          So you will find if you follow the facts that due to upholding Treaties as core part of the UK we have to follow Article 50.

          This means we have to “play by the rules” via this process which itself had to be implemented into Lisbon Treaty (Aka 90% EU Constitution) due to International Law itself via the requirements of the Vienna Convention.

          And the requirements of Article 50 means the only realistic transitional stage during the 2 years which guarantees a successful renegotiation with the EU for Single market access is EEA… “for the time-being”.

          = Fact.

          The rest is up to you to deal with by stages yourself just as Brexit is a staged process, for some symmetry of thought.

  • stickywicket

    Well said Owen Paterson: the positive case for leaving the EU.

    • RadioJockhadistan

      Thing is, he didn’t make such a case at all.

      What he did is hint at the strength of Wuerttemberg and Brabant. Now ask yourself why they are so strong.

      It is in fact a double no no case against leaving anything.

      • Brian K

        If you’re implying they’re strong because of the EU I’d have to disagree. Germany has innate strength that are unrelated to the EU.

        However, it’s been often commented that the Euro works to Germany’s benefit at the expense of the rest of the Euro area.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …how’s the goat, lad?

      • Full Name

        No read again, he compared Wealthy regions of the EU with Poor regions of the EU and they share the same currency. It ain’t going to work – that he did not say!

        • you_kid

          Wealthy and poor regions share a currency here.
          It’s called Wales or Liverpool or Northern Ireland, which looks just like/has the living standards of front line BOSNIA.

          • Full Name

            They share a demos People in London accept Carlisle for example… probably feel much less so about the “itchy” Scots now mind. 😉

            • you_kid

              Northern Ireland shares the same what?
              Are you clinically insane?

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …what do your Rotherham buddies share, lad?

              • Full Name

                you – kid or you kid?

              • goatmince

                Yes, dawg – he is clinically insane. There are quite a few around here who cannot fathom that Scotland ‘accepts’ London and NI ‘accepts’ the English far less than say Portugal ‘accepts’ the Dutch.
                They are probably all pensioners in Spain, Tuscany or Aix. At least the latter two locations would convey some style.

                • global city

                  What about all those pensioners in Australia, Florida and NZ?

                • goatmince

                  Aussie: depends on where they went.
                  Florida: trailer trash
                  NZ: cool.

                • global city

                  I was actually referring to the Brits who live in those places, without any ceding of the democratic rights of those they leave behind.

    • Noa

      It’s mostly based on Richard North’s excellent work over at EUReferendum. UKIP need to catch up or PM Paterson will be leading the UK out of the EU.

    • global city

      Only in providing a positive reality of freedom from the EU will people come to see just how suffocating and pointless the EU is in the 21st C.

  • John_Page

    This is UKIP with brains

    • RadioJockhadistan

      I like that when read as an insult.
      It works both ways.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and you and your Rotherham buddies like to go both ways, eh lad?

      • John_Page

        What I meant was that a party with UKIP’s objectives has had years to start talking sense like this. If you prefer, it’s grown-up UKIP.

        • Conway

          Unlike UKIP, however, which means what it says and has been consistent in its message, Paterson and the Tories have been pretending they are EU sceptic while actually giving away more to the EU.

    • ManOfKent

      Is it? Whilst Paterson, for a Tory, talks a lot of sense (although his clinging to the EEA (EU kindergarten)/EFTA (obsolete) and free movement of Labour belies his positive outlook and his eurosceptic credentials given they tie the UK to Brussels almost as much as full EU membership does) what it also demonstrates is that despite all the contrary noises the Tories are still irrevocably divided and as dysfunctional as ever. They are a broken party.

      Nobody wins elections with an undercurrent of party splits…….

      • Full Name

        The EEA is the only realistic solution provided by the only legally binding secession process from the EU (Article 50 TEU Lisbon Treaty).

        Now compare my good friend:-

        EEA = Norway, Iceland and Litchtenstein. After a referendum and the UK joins EFTA via EEA Treaty =

        4th Largest Trading Group in the world. We can reform the Single Market OUTSIDE THE EU Political swamp. The EEA is not the end-game, do you see?

      • John_Page

        Party leaders shift in response to movements within their party. Someone has to kickstart the sense – and Owen is not alone.

        • Conway

          No, I agree – there are a lot of Conservative MPs who pretend to be EU sceptic, but who are actually pro-EU.

    • John Carins

      This is someone who has had the brains to follow some UKIP policies.

      • John_Page

        In one speech Owen Paterson has said more of substance about the EU & how to leave than I have ever heard from UKIP. Hence my comment.

        • John Carins

          He has provided an alternative process which has a similar outcome. He has done this because of UKIP and remember he is only one rebel. One rebel a summer does not make.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      If UKIP did not exist, neither would his speech.

  • RadioJockhadistan

    Oh my favourite friend of all things German bloke is back in the frame.

    What’s he selling now, after German local CHP, German modern CCGT plant, German modern USCC plant with >48% efficiency?

    I would guess it would have to be German natural flower meadows and Demeter farming. What a right Royal Flush I hold in my hand right there.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …you and your Rotherham buddies hold a child’s hand, no doubt, laddie.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Well a German sockpuppet like yourself should be happy then .

      • RadioJockhadistan

        Now you see, this is an interesting comment.
        I explain a level of causality here which was previously unnoticed by anyone or wilfully ignored, I do not know, and what you then do is agree with me.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Get lost there’s a good sockpuppet. Take it up with the Goat lad.

  • cambridgeelephant

    The Tories – like Labour – are talking to themselves. Few are listening.

  • Torybushhug

    This is a game changer.

    • Stuart Mackey

      This is the work of Dr Richard North, who seems to be on good terms with Mr Patterson, and his magnum opus ‘flexit’, which can be found at http://www.eureferendum.com

  • Bert3000

    He’s just the sort of second rate non-entity who might give it a try.

    • TruthBeatsLies

      He’s bound to be… He’s still desperately keen to trouser a juicy retainer
      the States have promised him, if he can finally pull the UK out of trading compliance with the EU’s organic food regulations – and into full acceptance of GM produce marketing instead…!!!

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