…but they’ll never take our EU membership?

The debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has properly begun.  In these early days of the debate David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon have made an unusual partnership to try and add a Scottish question to the European one.  The UUP is playing a game of public angst with the Scottish claims one of the issues they list for their dither as they frantically try to assess the direction of the wind.

The ability of Northern Ireland politics to take any issue and transform it into an internal proxy battle of who is the better Unionist (or Nationalist) should not be underestimated.  However, it would not benefit either debate if we allowed it to descend to that. Thus, a proper examination of the Scottish question is worthwhile.

In UK terms, the promotion of this notion by the pro-EU campaign is unsurprising.  Their strategy is to win by taking advantage of ‘inertia’ and ‘loss’.  The British Social Attitudes survey shows a clear Eurosceptic majority. The middle ground (and thus a majority in the referendum) is dominated by those who wish the EU would/could be fixed. A legitimate desire but one that fails to appreciate the level of ideology behind the European Union ‘project’ – it doesn’t do self-reflection.

Therefore, the pro-EU campaign strategy is to secure enough of the sceptics by trying to sell Cameron’s deal, hold out the hope of more change and frame the rest of the debate on the potential for ‘loss’. The loss tactic has come to the fore.  This is because Cameron’s deal is a dud and this in turn reduces the hope of something better in future.  This has left the campaign relying on loss, loss and more loss as people who seek reform at least see some value in what they seek to reform.

The multiple difficulties and failures of the Eurozone and the EU also prevent the ‘Remain’ lobby from making much of a credible case for it as an institution.  This may be an opportunity for the Leave campaign. If they can change the question in people’s minds to – if we weren’t a member would we join today – it may prove more fruitful for them.

Anyone who knows anything about referendums will fully appreciate the loss strategy’s power.  However, the Scottish referendum is a classic example of how that strategy is not without risk. A campaign which went from a 70-30 lead to 55-45 was far from all-conquering and some in Scotland commented that the Better Together campaign had ‘won the battle but lost the war’. This left all of us who care about the Union with a long-term and bad hangover.

In England, the playing of a Scottish card has a risk of backfiring. A shift in English votes to the Tories and securing their majority is partially credited to an English fear of SNP control over a minority Labour government.  These same voters may not appreciate the hanging of a claymore over their heads on the matter of the European Union.

However, should Unionists fall for this Sturgeon/Cameron double team?


First, a Unionist accepting this argument is allowing an avowed opponent of the Union to define it.  Why would we consider an avowed opponent to be acting in the interests of the Union? Especially in what Kenny Farquharson highlighted is an illogical argument by Sturgeon – she wants an independent Scotland, she argues the UK voting to leave would trigger a second referendum and Scots would then endorse independence.  However, she is going to campaign for the outcome that will stop all those things that she wants?

Also it was made crystal clear in the Scottish referendum that an independent Scotland would not inherit membership of the EU so whether the UK voted to leave or not it would not affect the SNP desire for an independent Scotland to be a member. Furthermore as all the nationalist/separatist parties in the UK are endorsing remain it is hard to see how the implication of anyone who goes for leave is a bad Unionist really flies.

Second, the SNP and especially Sturgeon made repeated reference to a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity of the 2014 referendum before and during the campaign. Now they are trying to get away in the EU smoke. Why should Unionists facilitate this?

Third, the SNP Westminster campaign was partly built on the message they would keep Cameron out of Downing Street.  Now they are volunteering to be his referendum street warriors in Scotland and Sturgeon is offering to go throughout the UK to aid his cause. They are full participants in a Project Fear II, an approach they condemned.  Again why should Unionism facilitate this hypocrisy?

Fourth, for those try to keep tabs on Scottish politics, it is ‘The Vow’ and not the EU that the SNP has been focusing its ire to stir up resentment in Scotland.  Additionally in the time since the independence referendum the SNP economic case for independence has gone from dubious to toilet paper.

Fifth, we must examine the SNP.  For all its rhetoric it always proceeds conservatively.  Primacy has been the building and maintaining of their coalition. This is no easy act and harder to sustain over time. This is reflected in the limited manner in how it has governed and especially its refusal to use the extra powers it fought for.  It is reflected in Sturgeon’s choice of words around a second referendum. It is “almost certain” if the UK voted to leave. Why the limitation of “almost”?  The limitation is because there is a sizeable minority of people who will happily vote SNP but don’t want a second referendum.

Sixth, whether it is a genuine threat from Sturgeon or not, it is still a threat. The Scottish vote was upheld, if Scotland had voted for independence it would have been upheld. We should surely stand for a pan-UK democratic decision to be upheld and not allow others to create unrecognised vetoes.

Unionism’s Scottish problem was not and is not an EU problem. Unionism’s Scottish problem has been wishful thinking after the referendum that the threat had gone away.  45% doesn’t win a referendum but it does win a lot of Westminster seats and the parties of Scottish Unionism sleep walked into that tsunami.

Unionism’s Scottish problem has been a lack of vision, strategy and organisation.  Unionism’s answer cannot be to cower in the corner and plead with the SNP “Please don’t hurt me”.  Unionism needs confident, strategic, organised and future focused entities in Scotland to fight everyday with the support of their friends and fellow Unionists elsewhere in the UK. We cannot just remember about the SNP at referendums. Perhaps in the creation of this Scottish bogeyman Sturgeon may help Unionism to realise this.

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  • Angry Mob

    Very good article, one of more considered ones I’ve read on here so far concerning Brexit.

    When it comes down to it all that the remain camp has to offer is Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). I’d be most interested if anyone can offer the positive vision of what we have to gain by remaining in the political EU.

  • Sprite

    Good article. I think that Scottish secession from the Union becomes almost impossible if a Brexit does occur. Given the clear reluctance of the SNP to contemplate joining the Euro and their desire to retain Sterling, I can’t see how a Brexit wouldn’t create so many barriers to the viability of an independent Scotland that whatever the sentiment of people in Scotland to the EU, the independence question would be effectively null and void overnight. Those who think Brexit will lead to the break up of the UK are dreaming. The Euro is no safe haven, no one in their right mind would join the Euro now having witnessed what it has done to the economies of smaller countries in recent years. So as usual, pounds, shillings and pence will determine the future of Scotland in the UK, the Scots are too canny not to see this clearly enough.

  • Neil

    Furthermore as all the nationalist/separatist parties in the UK are endorsing remain it is hard to see how the implication of anyone who goes for leave is a bad Unionist really flies.

    A good Unionist = “if they’re for it, we’re agin it”.

  • Graham Parsons

    Don’t have to. It’s the leave folk who were looking for this referendum. The leave folk have to provide a reason to change.
    Also there’s nothing wrong with basing your decision on FUD. Most sensible businesses carry out risk management.

  • Angry Mob

    Hmmmmm, how does your little sentiment fit this narrative; that whilst Sinn Fein and the DUP were once both EU-sceptic, the Shinners have changed tack and the DUP remain true to their original convictions?

  • Angry Mob

    You may feel that you don’t have to, but can you actually put forward the positive case for remaining in the EU?

    I disagree however, if the leave side manages to get it’s act together and uses a reasonable method for it’s case for withdrawal the public will see that the remain camp was bluffing all along. If you’re standing empty handed it’s going to be hard to turn the tide of public opinion.

  • Graham Parsons

    Positive case ok let me think, jobs, jobs, jobs and errr jobs.

    Good luck getting inward investment to N.I. from major US companies when the UK leaves the EU. At the moment the debate is dominated by multimillionaire career politicians bullshitting about soverignty with no consideration about the impact on the average working person.

  • Angry Mob

    Let me reiterate my point again, what is the positve vision for remaining in the EU?

    If you can’t answer this question now, how are you going to answer it when voters see through the bluff?

    All sensible people know that the ‘3 million jobs lost’ meme is a complete lie, even the author of the report said it was taken out of context. Again, this all based upon your doomsday scenario that we can’t negotiate a deal within the 2 years of invoking article 50 when the EFTA/EEA route is open to us.

  • Graham Parsons

    Sorry maybe I was being a bit too subtle for you there.

    Inside the EU we are more likely to get inward investment than outside. Therefore more jobs.

  • Angry Mob

    How does being in a political entity alone provide us with jobs as opposed to reseeking sovereignty and accessing the (economic) single market through different means?

    You still haven’t answered my initial question.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The EU doesn’t do self-reflection? If anything Westminster doesn’t do self reflection, it’s far less democratic. Who elected the Lords? Who elected the Queen? Why isn’t UKIP and Scottish Labour as highly represented in it as their vote? If any European nation is shying away from the mirror it’s the UK.

    In Northern Ireland Stormont is a magnifying lens of our people’s political ambition, it may not look good but it’s the truth, by contrast Westminster is a lens with a gerrymandered filter. Europe has a little gerrymandering for the sake of small countries, (in the same way UK does for certain constituent regions of its nation) but it is broadly reflective of its people.

    The U.K. Political elites are masters of self denial, they could offer independence to the less well off but they think a few income tax breaks and some trade deals with China are going to kick start social mobility? Show how successful free trade with South Korea and Mexico has been to the average Joe or Joanna compared to the huge amount of cheaper imports from the EU27?

    The EU is Eurosceptic in and of itself, it works great despite the naysayers within. it has most of the problems the United Kingdom does but doesn’t have the United Kingdom’s insular mentality, it doesn’t have Ireland’s insular mentality either.Being sceptic doesn’t stop cooperation and the EU is willing to cooperate with sceptics.

    However the strength of the EU is that positive networks are allowed to fight negative networks, the weakness of the Leave movement is the dogma that every European network is a weakness and Britain is stronger when it stops European and sometimes even Brittish networks happening.

    I don’t know why people seem to think Leave is going to stop Brittish economic inertia, the Leave movements is dominated by demagogues not pioneers.

  • Graham Parsons

    Well if you can’t see the business benefit of having unhindered access to a market of 500+ million people there’s really no point in continuing this debate. Stick to your immigration argument because attempting to challenge the economic benefits of being in the EU is just embarrassing.

  • Neil

    First of all, it’s not my sentiment. The italics indicate a direct quote. The fact that the DUP remain totally inflexible to the degree they think that they need to have the same response they had to a different question asked 40 years ago is neither relevant to my comment, nor particularly worth bragging about.

  • Neil

    The obvious logical flaw in the post seems to have been missed. The SNP say they will go for indyref II if there is a democratic deficit in regard to the EU referendum. That is to say if Scotland were to vote one way, and the whole UK were to vote another then Scotland’s wishes would be ignored.

    If the SNP were to get their people to vote leave, and the UK were to vote leave, then there would be no need for a referendum as Scotland’s wishes would be realised. This is why Nationalists are voting to remain. In this scenario the only way the democratic deficit can occur is if enough Unionist lemmings vote leave, and a majority vote to remain in Scotland/NI/Wales. But then as Lee says:

    as all the nationalist/separatist parties in the UK are endorsing remain it is hard to see how the implication of anyone who goes for leave is a bad Unionist really flies

    No logic required. If themmuns are for it, we’re against it, and could anyone really say a Unionist doing the opposite of what Nationalists are doing is a “bad Unionist”?

  • Angry Mob

    Unfortunately you cannot grasp the basic principle that the EU ≠ the single market. I have never disputed the fact that having access to the single market is beneficial to the UK either nor have I mentioned immigration.

    Are you just making things up as you go along, much like the remain campaign?

  • Angry Mob

    Well, it may be considered good practise to cite the source of this quote. As for the fact that you perpetuating it you must believe it.

    Using your logic, maybe Sinn Fein can now support Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom?

    *Edit* To make it abundantly clear my initial response was to this:
    A good Unionist = “if they’re for it, we’re agin it”.

  • Angry Mob

    Oh look, no quotation marks this time. Or did you actually quote your future self below.

  • Angry Mob

    So your answer to a democratic deficit is another larger layer of democratic deficit.

  • Graham Parsons

    So the EU doesn’t equal a single market of 500m consumers? Keep digging. Stick to immigration. You can only dance on the head of a pin so long before you fall off.

  • Angry Mob

    From the link you provided the word ‘refers’ would be the operative word, indeed the title of the page is The European Single Market. So thanks for helping to clarify my point.

    Again you mention immigration, what’s your fixation on it?

  • Neil

    The quote is from Lee’s post, above. I had foolishly assumed you’d read it.

    Using ordinary logic people can indeed change their points of view over time yes. Also using ordinary logic that doesn’t mean they definitely will.

    *Edit* To make it abundantly clear my initial response was to this:

    A good Unionist = “if they’re for it, we’re agin it”.

    Source: Your previous post.

    Your initial response had nothing to do with Unionism’s tendency to define themselves in opposition to Nationalism. You seem to be trolling.

  • Neil

    There were no quotation marks last time, again, I had thought you may have a scintilla of intelligence and may have either read Lee’s post to which you’re replying, and if you had you may have been able to retain the information long enough to recognise the quote.

    To make it abundantly clear for you, I’m repeating Lee’s quote in response to Lee.

  • Angry Mob

    I had edited my post above after I realised that you had misunderstood my initial response had nothing to do with what Lee wrote and everything to do with what you wrote, sometimes disqus doesn’t update that overly quickly so maybe you didn’t catch it before your reply.

  • Angry Mob

    Just to make it clear it was your original misunderstanding below.

  • Graham Parsons

    Just giving some advice to stick to immigration because your economic arguments for leaving seems to rely on pedantry or being deliberately obtuse. Disorganised much like the rest of the leave campaign. Anyway you’ve have already agreed that access to the single market is beneficial to the UK.

  • Angry Mob

    It was you that brought the topic up, simply because you lack the capacity to counter my argument that the EU is not the single market.

    Yes, continued access to the single market is beneficial to the UK however membership of the EU is not the only means as other avenues are available to us. Although I’m unsure what relevance this has in this discussion as my original question was what is the positive vision of remaining within the EU?

    Also, in case you’re unaware as you don’t seem to be clued up to these things relating to brexit; the Electoral Commission will officially designate the lead leave campaign on the 14th April, on 15th April the campaign officially begins. Until then there is no official leave or remain campaign, so how can the leave camp be disorganised when no official channel is in place? All this is against Cameron’s constant meddling trying to tip the balance in his favour.


    On an off topic note is that your actual name or is your username named after the singer?

  • Graham Parsons

    Ha ha. So the disorganised rabble that is the leave campaign is entirely the result of the electoral commission? That is I’m afraid b.s.. The campaign has already started. Many of the leavers can’t share the same room with each other. Leave has had years to plan for this referendum and they are a disorganised mess.

    As I’ve said before the positive vision for remain is having continued unhindered access to a market of 500m people. Simple.

  • Angry Mob

    There is multiple opposing groups seeking lead designation whom don’t necessarily agree on every point with one other, this is nothing to be chastised as debate is a positive thing, but I can some what understand your position of not liking debate as a strong EU-phile.

    How is that a positive point for remaining when leaving can provide the same benefit, without political union.

    So yet again, what is the positive vision of remaining within the EU?

  • Discuscutter

    You are looking at it from the Union of Northern Ireland and Britain and that is a connection that is not of concern to political parties in Britain.

    The commitment of most Tories to the union of England and Scotland is often questioned

  • Graham Parsons

    At last. The grand delusion of the leave campaign. You cannot guarantee that leaving will provide the same benefit. In fact it is very unlikely. Why would I take the risk? Thus remaining in the EU and having access to this market is a positive in comparison to the alternative.

    Especially risky considering the leavers can’t articulate a common vision of the UK outside the EU.

  • Saint Etienne

    Playing devil’s advocate:

    In an increasingly harmonised EU decades down the line but without the UK bloc who voted themselves out, the Republic of Ireland will be in total tow to what goes on in Brussels and elsewhere, to varying degrees of representation ranging from ‘a little’ to ‘none at all’.

    For the presumably liberty loving nationalist who thought he knew what an ‘independent’ 32 county republic would look like, is it beyond the realms of possibility to see a ‘turnover’ from opposition to British unionism to one instead of the much more controlling Euro unionism?

    Or is it really just about ‘anyone but themmuns’ as the fabled Dublin GPO proclamation basically stated?

  • Angry Mob

    Again, there is no official leave campaign. Secondly it is unlikely that we would be rejected into the EFTA/EEA, nor forgetting we have 2 years to gain admission (which can be unanimously extended), however there are still other avenues open if that arises.

    If I cannot deny leaving could not provide the benefit of continued access, you cannot deny that leaving could provide us that benefit.

    Your idea of a positive vision is built upon FUD.

  • Graham Parsons

    Nothing wrong with a little bit of risk analysis as I explained above.

    To make it a bit easier for you. Would you feel more positive about £500 quid in your wallet or an IOU for £500 quid in your wallet?

  • Angry Mob

    There’s a quote I read once that goes along the lines of ‘Those who risk nothing, gain nothing, are nothing, do nothing. ‘

    All businesses take risk, usually calculated and the various options weighed up because there is a potential gain in doing so. In your scenario above you have provided no incentive to take an IOU so it’s somewhat pointless. Have you never bought a lottery ticket?

    What about the risk of remaing within the EU? You’re failure to provide a positive vision leaves me open to write a narrative. Ever closer union, erosion of sovereignty, erosion of national identity, economic slow down, undemocratic government, TTIP, job losses, dangers to our national security…

  • Anglo-Irish

    This article makes interesting reading, https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi2yJHb9JjLAhWDKnIKHYKeAI0QFgg-MAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffortune.com%2F2016%2F02%2F17%2Fbrexit-europe-eu%2F&usg=AFQjCNEqfCvM9uIptGfnMBIxqiHLSBzbMg

    As to whether it influences you to vote In or Out I leave to you to decide.

    A couple of points I picked up on though was that if we went with the Norwegian arrangement it would mean that we would need to continue with the free movement of EU citizens, pay contributions to the EU and apply EU single market rules and regulations without a vote on them, which doesn’t exactly shout ” We are a free Sovereign nation once again! ” to me.

    Also if we are unable to agree terms and wind up using WTO rules we could have a problem with barriers on services including financial services which are currently very profitable to the country.

    Bearing in mind that it looks as though Frankfurt is about to take over the London Stock Exchange there would then appear to be an easy solution to the problem, move the whole shebang to Frankfurt.

  • Angry Mob

    On the whole seems fairly balanced but fails to mention a few facts for the Norwegian model as I have pointed out.

    Norway does pay for access however this is significantly less than the UK, how much exactly? Who really knows, but again the main benefit is regained sovereignty. They also make significant voluntary contributions.

    Which leads nicely on to the second point, the fax democracy meme. Norway doesn’t vote on EU regulation as it is not in the EU much the same way that Ireland does not vote in Westminister. It does however sit at various international, organisations who make the majority of our laws, where it has the power to vote and veto laws made before they are passed down to the EEA, where Norway is again consulted and has yet more veto rights. The EU is mostly a law taker, not a maker.

    As for immigration it is correct that freedom of movement must remain for access to the single market, however with the UK along with Norway and the other states; the EFTA will have more clout, which could be used to reform the EU from the outside.

    The key phrase is is phased withdrawal, we have been in the EU a long time, it will take years for us to untangle ourselves in a controlled manner.

  • Anglo-Irish

    This link provides more information on the Norwegian arrangement which like everything else in life has pros and cons.


    According to that, 93 out of the 100 most costly EU regulations would have to remain in place at a cost of £34.4 Billion per year, it’s still not screaming ” They’ll never take our Freedom ” at me.

    Obviously, the UK isn’t Norway and maybe we can negotiate a more beneficial deal.

    Then again. maybe we can’t, as has been pointed out the EU might adopt the attitude ” Let’s make an example out of them in order to discourage anyone else from thinking it may be a good idea.”

    Either way I agree that it’s up to those who wish us to leave to do the persuading.

    We know what being in the EU is like, and although we may not be totally enthralled we don’t know what leaving will result in, it’s a gamble, and we need more than jingoism and xenophobia to persuade us to take it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You strike me as a person who would struggle to argue against an absolute monarchy as long as it was the same nationality as you.
    The European Parliament is the only institution that gives any British opposition party a voice in trade arrangements and allows it to network with opposition parties with the same concerns in other nations.
    There is no additional transparency being offered by the Leave side to take the place of the EU Parliament, just to ensure a UK government can do foreign trade deals without any opposition questioning.
    The UK never had the habit of putting treaties to the people and I’m tempted to think after #Brexit it would continue the habit.
    The EU adds a layer of democracy, it gives Eurosceptics a voice.

  • Angry Mob

    I really couldn’t trust Open Europe as the most unbias source. Parts of that article are guilty of lying by omission as it has failed to mention what I have pointed out above, indeed some of the comments make interesting reading.

    As I mentioned before under international and EU law the EU will be bound to negotiate in good faith, it is in the EU and the UK’s interests to continue trading.

    The Norway option is the case for leaving, there is a reason Cameron singled out and attacked it before the results of his negotiation, he see’s it as ultimate threat; that it poses to his legacy.

    I pose to you would does remaining look like? Ever closer union, loss of national identity, TTIP, further erosion of sovereignty etc.

  • Angry Mob

    Your point regarding absolute monarchy is a stawman argument.

    There are arguments on the leave side for greater transparency and accountability, you just haven’t bothered to seek them out as you seem to have made up your mind already, however this is a moot point when the whole referendum is regarding the future of the UK relationship within the EU, not our system of government.

    I would freely admit that there are shortcomings in terms of democracy in the UK but to endorse compounding that with the undemocratic EU is just sheer idiocy. To even suggest that the EU is a bastion of democracy is laughable. It has a history of ignoring the wishes of people through multiple referendums until it gets answer it want’s or just ignores the results entirely.I never voted for Jean-Claude Juncker either.

  • Anglo-Irish

    The problem that we have here is the usual one when it comes to politics, all views from either camp are biased and quite often deliberately misleading.

    Who do you believe? Based on the personalities and characters on each side of the debate whilst I have a healthy distrust of ALL politicians there are people on the Exit side that I would walk a long way in ill fitting shoes to avoid.

    Farage, Johnson, Gove and Howard are not people that I can warm to in any way.

    I’ve actually met Michael Howard at a dinner in the Cutlers Hall Sheffield and Ann Widdicombe’s remark that ” There is something of the night about him ” is spot on in my view, he could play Dracula without makeup.

    The thing is if you join an association there are rules and accepting those rules are part of the deal.

    Being allowed to have an input into the formation of the rules is democratic and as usual with all democratic decisions no one gets to have their own way all the time.

    That is however a far more civilized way of going about things than our previous method of going to war over disagreements.

    The Brexit supporters are assuming many things that they have no way of proving.

    In today’s Sunday Times Andrew Roberts a Tory historian has an article urging exit.

    The thing that struck me is that the sub heading states ‘Britain was on its knees and lacking good leaders when it joined the EEC in 1973. Now much stronger, it must break free of its continental shackles and embrace freedom ‘.

    This seems to me to be making some fairly debatable assumptions.

    First of all, he is attributing all of our new found strength to our efforts alone with no contribution from the EU whatsoever.

    Secondly he is apparently convinced that those people leading the country today are far superior and wiser than the ones that brought us to our knees in the 60s and 70s.

    Are they? If so this new found magnificence has escaped me totally!

    They look more like a bunch of posh lads with little experience of reality still arguing with each other over some daft rivalry they had at school.

    How many of the rest of the population spend their entire educational and working life mixing with the same people?

  • Angry Mob

    Honestly I think we share the same sentiments about politicians and indeed there are people on the leave side whilst well-intentioned whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them but the exact same can be said for many on the remain side.

    This is all bringing it to back to personality politics, I won’t be basing my decision on my disagreement with certain individuals however Cameron actions in particular have been despicable.

    In terms of journalists; Christopher Booker is usually spot on. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/12176234/Nine-deceptions-in-our-history-with-the-EU.html

  • Kevin Breslin

    You made the case of removing a democratic deficit by removing a layer of democracy all together. The natural direction of this approach is an absolute monarchy ruling a nation stopping any democracy from happening. It completely doesn’t tackle the issue of why we have and need democracy.

    Your case against Jean Claude Juncker is very straw-man too, I never voted for David Cameron or the Conservative party. In all likelihood no one from Northern Ireland will vote for a British Prime Minister ever or ever again.

    Every MEP including Juncker was elected.
    Every minister in the council of ministers was elected
    Every Commissioner was appointed by an elected government.
    National Governments choose to enter the European Union by referendum and can leave by the same mechanism.

    British voters can in effect change British MEPs,British ministers and albeit indirectly British Commissioners (new governments often change their commissioners soon after) but they have no say in what other countries choose to represent them.

    What’s undemocratic about that?

    The closest my city has come to having a national leader is when Dana and Martin McGuinness stood for election to the Presidency in Southern Ireland and I didn’t get a vote in that either.

    But to call Jean Claude Juncker a despot is completely false, he’s merely a president of the European Parliament, a spokesperson for democrats in the 28 nations. It’s no different than someone taking a role as President of the G8.

    The British government takes its place in the European Council and Commission, it negotiates trade deals as a block and has a lot of clout in these deals due to the Qualified majority voting arrangements. It also has 1/9th of the European Parliaments MEPs.

    In terms of the 28 countries the European Union is democratic, the UK can veto and opt out of treaties between nations like Schengen and the Fiscal Compact as a nation, while lobbying to stop pan-European trade arrangements like the Tobin Tax which would hurt the UK finance industry even if didn’t apply to the UK.

    I don’t see any loss of British self-determination, the only European law that has any sovereign impact on the UK democracy is the European Communities Act something that stops the UK from discriminating against EU nationals in exchange for the EU27 returning the favour to the British. The same set of principles exist in the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration.

    I don’t believe you help the working class by discriminating and scaremongering about grossly exaggerated numbers of Eastern Europeans coming over to take jobs, this actually makes working class and unemployed natives more unfit for work if anything. We have companies in Northern Ireland like Mivan who do jobs in Romania too.

  • Angry Mob

    The EU is not democratic, I find it unbelievable that you can not concede that. The case I am making is to remove the top layer, which helps to regain our sovereignty, then from there you set out reforming our systems of governance. It must be down top.

    Assuming you did actually vote in the GE 2015 then you it your chance at electing your MP, the fact that you did not directly vote for David Cameron is neither here nor there as this has more to do with the failings of First-past-the-post and the fact that the greatest percent of the vote share was Tory, everyone knew when they were voting Tory who the potential PM would be.

    Juncker did not receive a single vote during the European elections nor did Martin Schulz. Unless you know something that no one else seems to, as you told us he is an MEP?

    Also, that was not an example of straw-man.

  • Anglo-Irish

    We probably do share similar views on politicians, most people who’ve been around long enough to have experienced the sheer duplicity and Machiavellian antics which seem to be a part of the character of most politicians or at least those that aspire to leadership, have a certain amount of justified cynicism when it comes to politics.

    In my case it crosses party boundaries, I believe Thatcher was corrupt and Blair should have faced judgement in the Hague for war crimes.

    It also crosses national boundaries, Haughey was corrupt and Ahern was regarded by Haughey as ” The most devious of them all ” I’ve no doubt that it was meant as a compliment.

    Just watched Ian Duncan Smith on the Andrew Marr interview show.

    He is on the Out team and his argument was basically “Britain is the greatest country in the world and it’s just those devious Johny Foreigners that are stopping us regaining our rightful place as the saviours of the World “.

    Or Jingoistic BS as it is commonly known.

    He stated very confidently that upon Brexit we would negotiate a deal with the EU that would be entirely beneficial to us and give us a major advantage over every remaining EU member nation.

    Marr asked him why, after we had rejected them and basically slammed the door in their face they would then respond by offering us such a fantastic deal which would be to our advantage and to the disadvantage of remaining members.

    The nub of his answer was effectively ” Because we’re British”.

    The unmitigated arrogance of the ruling class in the UK whilst being highly amusing in its tenuous grasp on reality isn’t really an asset when negotiating ( or demanding in IDS’s case ) a deal from Johny Foreigner.

    He did not convince me in anything other than the Tory’s being right in sacking him from the leadership of the party.

    Agree with you on Cameron, reminds me of the Groucho Marx quip ” These are my principles, and if you don’t like them…. Well, I have others “.

    Mind you, that applies to quite a few in politics.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They were elected by the European Parliament. You are pretty much going back to the inability to criticize the imposition of an absolute monarchy or indeed absolute authority of Westminster. He is effectively an observer at the European Parliament.

    The EU laws you complain about were passed by Westminster, got royal assent and was carried out under a British flag, protected by the blood of the British defense forces. The democracy was as British as British democracy could be, the problem with Europe is that you need to take into account the democracy of other nations as well. The same institution that has unelected officials as head of state, in its upper house and can even appoint unelected Lords to Cabinet Positions.

    The UK government passed the Lisbon Treaty which had the rules for electing a European President under Labour and only protested it when the Conservatives and Lib Dem coalition got in.

    The British people have no country to take back form Brussels, they already own their own country, they elect a government they send to the EU bodies and MEPs they send to EU bodies, they elect a government to pick a Commissioner who checks to see if the laws passed by the other two elected bodies are viable with the people other nations own their countries and that’s why nations have to make annoying compromises on what their sovereign government can and cannot do in order to ensure fair trade with a partner nation.

    The UK governments elected want a Common Market, not “a nothing in Common with” Single Market. Many of the regulations that the UK leave side want to get rid of have been introduced by democratically elected British politicians anyway.

    My feeling is not that the British people lost their sovereignty by joining the EU, it’s just some of the British people lost their sovereignty when they gave up personal responsibility and started playing the Blame Game.

    Newton Emerson made the case quite well, the UK could unilaterally break every EU treaty it has signed up to just to assert its sovereignty but it would simply face a legal process of case law, the consequence may be that may see its international reputation and the mutual protections these laws protect being sacrificed. It would also add friction to workers who work across borders and nationalities.

  • Kev Hughes

    I’m sorry, would you like to put this ramble into the form of a question?

  • Angry Mob

    I’m not criticizing or condoning an absolutely monarchy as I didn’t bring it up nor do I see what it has to do with the UK or the EU, it’s a distraction to this discussion.

    Assuming you’re still referring to Juncker(?), he is the president of the commission in which he dictates the agenda. The role of the commission is to propose and enforce legislation in addition to implementing policies and the EU budget. Massive power for someone who was never elected.

    As for Schulz and Tusk, neither were voted into that position by the electorate, at very least in the UK the equivalent positions are all held by elected MP’s.

    The EU was imposed on the UK without the peoples consent, no one has yet voted for it. Gordon Brown did not have the mandate to sign the Lisbon Treaty either and a strong argument could be made for trying him for treason. At least Ireland got the chance to vote, despite the EU ignoring the first result as it was inconvenient to the project. Really screams democracy.

    As for Newton’s Nuclear option, that would be a very moronic thing to do. The bes’t thing the UK can do is to leave the EU to regain sovereignty; regaining democracy can only done from this point. Brexit is not an event, it’s a process.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Juncker doesn’t dictate the agenda, national governments who make up the European Council dictate the agenda. Commissioners can be sacked by any national government.

    Ultimately national governments are the highest tier of the European Union, the Commission is there to ensure the treaties these nations sign with one another are honored.

    The “loss of sovereignty” was made by national governments effectively to prevent “ad hoc” scrapping of arrangements by other governments once they are made.

    Imagine for example the UK passing a law stopping free movement from the European Union. 27 other countries would in effect be forced to pass laws to stop British people entering their nations and to deal with British people within their borders.

    Treaties prevent such legal wars between nations, by nations taking responsibility for their obligations to other nations in an international arrangement as apposed to a disposable unilateral one.

    I think the Leave side wants UK treaties negotiated in Westminster without the other nations having any say in them. In other words it is undemocratic for France to have any say in an Anglo-French treaty for example. This really ignores the reason as to why treaties exist in the first place and why they are so hard to negotiate.

    You also talk about national governments having so much control, but that’s nothing to do with the European Union, that’s the fault of the British people.

    Irish people have sued their government to get referendums on Europe, why can’t the British if it’s such a big deal?

    The second referendum was passed by the Irish people, and why shouldn’t they change their mind when opponents present no alternative and the national government gets a renegotiation?

    Legally any new treaty from the European Union cannot pass into Irish law without a referendum (Crotty v. An Taoiseach) … ergo national sovereignty in Ireland > European Union in this regard. It still may have a democratic deficit with regards to say treaties outside the EU, such as say UN treaties.

    I have no opposition to the UK having a second referendum on the matter.

  • Angry Mob

    1) Is it beyond the realms of possibility to see a ‘turnover’ from opposition to British unionism to one instead of the much more controlling Euro unionism?

    2) Is it really just about ‘anyone but themmuns’ as the fabled Dublin GPO proclamation basically stated?

    You’re welcome.

  • Kev Hughes

    I see you found that edit button really quickly AM.

    Best you breath carefully before you press ‘post’ next time 😉

  • Angry Mob

    Sssh. :p

  • Kev Hughes

    Your secret’s safe with me…

  • Angry Mob

    Sorry, ‘agenda’ was the incorrect word, policy would of been more suitable. Regardless, none of the commissioners are elected either so no EU citizen has the right to decide upon them.

    The loss of sovereignty directly affects the UK’s democracy as decisions made by the EU supersedes UK law, without sovereignty we have no real democracy, without democracy reforms of UK governance are futile.

    My original point was the only way we can regain democracy is leave the EU first and then regain our sovereignty, only then we could work towards something like Switzerland’s direct democracy or maybe e-democracy.

    I think we can basically agree to disagree on this however.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Junker doesn’t determine policy either. You mope about loss of Soverignty but who would be doing the trade treaty negotiations outside the EU, some unelected diplomat acting on behalf of the government … In other words a “Commissioner” in all but name.

    If people want to change the Commissioner they can elect a new government/parliament, there are plenty of unelected people running public services and NGOs/QUANGOs on behalf of the government. No nation’s citizenry decides who their UN permanent representative just the government who appoints them and where exactly is the democracy in the Commonwealth? Representative democracy in action.

  • Angry Mob

    Juncker sets the policy agenda of the commission, then he and his cronies are the only EU body that can propose EU laws. Presumably this stops any undesirables like people whom are sceptical of the EU proposing anything that in any way may slow the project down. In the UK there are various means to propose law.

    Proposing trade deals is done inside the framework of the law, ambassadors just can’t decide to import guns on a whim.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Every member of the Commision comes from a Government party so parrot the ideology of government. Even if they do not there’s a thing called the European Council made up of the nation’s chief of state (I.e. PM not Queen in UK’s case) and nothing can pass without the concent of the European Council.

    Undesirables you mention would include say Syriza but they have a seat on both the Commission and the European a Council. They would include UKIP, NF, Golden Dawn, The DUP and the 5 Star Movement all having a place in the European Parliament.

    Indeed without the EU there would be no Nigel Farage, no Jim Allister in public consciousness and possibly Ian Paisley’s international reputation would be narrowed too.

    You talk about nations not being allowed to import guns on a whim because of the law, but that is because governments “surrender sovereignty” to treaties (international law) denying them the ability to do so, not just common sense. Russia sells guns to other nations where these treaties do not apply as do The West.

  • Angry Mob

    That doesn’t make it any way remotely democratic, no one elected them to be there.

    I didn’t mean any political parties when I said undesirables, just the sceptics of the EU. Part of the job criteria for these positions is the commitment to the EU’s pet project of ever closer union. So there is no chance anyone who is even somewhat sceptical would get near the levers of powers.

    I’ve presented my case however as to how I believe we can achieve true democracy in the UK. I’d be very interested in hearing your’s , all whilst remaining in the EU which is a contradiction of the origins of the word democracy.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The sceptics of the EU don’t have mandates to govern any EU country. So I fail to see how their lot is going to be improved simply leaving the EU. No one elects their police commissioners any more in the UK because the public got bored with the whole affair, so the arguement that we really need our international representatives to be directly elected … Not merely accountable to their own national government … is a very tame arguement.

    You are effectively accusing the EU Commission of gerrymandering from the top down, if that was the case why don’t Commissioners keep getting sacked every EU Parliament election and replaced by representatives from the 28 national parliaments? Why would they not prevent semi-Eurosceptics like the Tories joining them?

    Juncker is only there because a Luxembourg government nominated him, and he got the backing of the European Parliament and European Council . Ban Ki-Moon, Kofi Annan were just elected by diplomats.

    And the UK is at the “mercy” of several other unelected foreigners are they not?

    Who runs the World Trade Organisation – Unelected Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo
    Who runs the Bank of England … Unelected Canadian Mark Carney
    Who runs NATO… Unelected Dane Anders Fogh Rasmussen
    Who is Commissioner for the Commonwealth … Unelected Indian Kamalesh Sharma
    Who runs the EFTA Council … Unelected Icelander Kristinn F. Árnason
    Who runs the European Court of Human Rights … unelected Italian Guido Raimondo

    At least Juncker had been elected by a more considerable involvement of ordinary citizens.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why does politics have to be harmonised?

    Are we to believe that even gerrymandering popular opposition groups like UKIP to just one MP that Westminster is some beacon of harmony? Look at the nasty nonsense that comes out of it with your own eyes!

    I’ve watched EUP debates, they are just as passionate if not more so.

    We have 28 countries with loads of diverse politics in the EU where political movements can network and achieve goals collectively. It seems only a few people in the Leave movement think being independent means being a loner. The only ones who seem to want a federal Europe are Eurosceptic Britons.

    The U.K. can do tons to fix their own problems, socially and at government level but as Bojo himself said, they are too lazy and state dependent to do so. Independence begins at home. Same applies to Ireland.

  • Angry Mob

    I never said they had mandates, I’m saying the commission and other positions of power is a closed shop if you aren’t an ardent EU-phile and support the project.

    “Semi-Eurosceptics like the Tories”

    You’re having a giraffe. The Tory leadership is firmly on board the EU gravy train, you don’t have to look much further than Cameron to see that.

    What do Police Commissioners, WTO, BoE, NATO, Commonwealth, EFTA and ECHR all have in common? Rhetorical question; the answer is that none of them are our elected government and barring the ECHR none impede our sovereignty.

    I’m still interested to hear how remaining in the EU can bring the UK closer to true democracy.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Commissioner for each country is appointed by a national government, if any government were Eurosceptic enough they could appoint a Eurosceptic commissioner if they wanted to.

    Take the European Court of Human Rights, something that exists outside the EU, what does that exist of? Unelected judges nominated by each individual country that is a member of it.

    In terms of Eurosceptics being barred from the Commission not only can they nominate a commissioner, they can vote against the commission if they have the numbers in the EU.

    You have to go back to World War II to an Irish nationalist pretty much a Westminster-sceptic having any role in a British government and in that situation it was minor temporary role. British governments which can appoint unelected Lords to the Cabinet of course.

    So I doubt it is a closed club, I’d rather think that democracy isn’t giving you the result you want when it comes to the European Union.

  • Angry Mob

    NB: “Euro-sceptic” would be someone who is sceptical of the euro currnency.

    Like I said above the ECHR is not our government and even though it infringes upon our sovereignty you seem to be making the case for abolishment if you are trying to tell me it is unaccountable, which I would fully agree with.

    The EU is a perfect example of a closed club, the whole system is designed to separate powers so even if someone who was sceptial did find themselves nominated for a prime position the other people on board the gravy train aren’t going to let it come to a halt. Whilst the parliament may have some proportional representation that wont happen at the commission.

    The only way to regain democracy is to leave the EU, but I am still interested to hear you’re ideas.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Hilarious stuff, spoken like a true isolationist, these judges are accountable to the laws of national governments just like national EU Commissioners and UN Permanent Representatives.

    By your logic the fact that socialists, passivists and liberals like Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders are not yet a dissenting voice in the G8 or NATO means they are just closed clubs unaccountable to people. Do you advocate the UK leaving these too?

    The EU is filled with a combination of people who want it to work and those who don’t in each body. By and large I would say EU-philes and EU-sceptics are all well represented. The EU-Sceptics are free to provide solutions or shout from the sidelines.
    There is no obligation on any one of them to make the EU work but they have a voice anyway. There is plenty of scepticism within the EU and of the EU, and that is reflected in some of the isolationist agendas that exist within it.

    If isolationism isn’t helping the EU, why do you think it could help the UK?

    If a hypothetical Eurosceptic British government were unable to either hold its Commissioner to account or win a referendum to leave the European Union, or even carry out a unilateral undemocratic withdrawal without a referendum that really shows a problem with British democracy and privilege with in it.

    I look at the likes of the monarchy, the Royal family, the Privy Council, the House of Lords …which are real perfect examples of sovereignty denying, closed club and gravy trains … And compare it to a Commission not just accountable to the 28 national governments but the EU Parliament too and I have to say European democracy is superior for what passes for Brittish democracy right nowand more plural to a more diverse range of people.

    Many people who want to leave the EU want the sovereign right to discriminate while wanting other nations not to discriminate against them. These actually go not just against the European spirit but the better ghosts of British values in the Magna Carta and Commonwealth values in the Harare Declaration.

    I would like to see a more democratic UK and a more democratic EU, but to me the UK is behind, in fact let’s take the last thing the UK lost a vote on in the EU.

    The EU decided to cap banker’s bonuses at 100% of their high wages the Tories wanted it higher, now who’s side do you think the British public would back in a blind vote (not knowing who was on which side) on the matter?

    Would the Brittish agree with the “non democratic” EU or the “sovereign” Brittish government?

    If you want suggestions on UK reform look at Unlock Democracy, they’ve done a lot more research on the topic. A bigger challenge is “Unlocking Diplomacy” which I think would simply return to the British government doing back door deals with foreign nations as they do with nations outside of the EU.

    Given every EU treaty has been passed at Westminster by a direct vote and the U.K. Government hasn’t been able to get a replacement treaty other nations can sign up to and that all the other nations have these same issues, surely this is the type of form a UK outside the EU would have on other international treaties getting common ground, trust and mutual legal guarantees with other nations.

  • Angry Mob

    It might actually be hilarious if only we, the people of Europe weren’t the butt of the joke.

    The thing is, you are the isolationist, economically and politically. So unwilling to engage with those who don’t live on the same continent, you would condone becoming subservient to an undemocratic organisation to do it for us instead. Economy wise, the same organisation prevents us from negotiating trade deals with the rest of world. I want us to the leave the EU in an amicable manner, regain our sovereignty and begin trading not only with the single market but every other country whom we can negotiate a deal with.

    Yet again, those judges or the UN, G8, NATO don’t create laws (forgetting interpreting here), nor does our privy council who is only really an advisory body, the monarchy who is mainly ceremonial and wields no great powers. These bodies are not our governments and impose no threat to our sovereignty (Excluding ECHR).

    Now that we can finally agree that the EU and UK should be more democratic, can you tell me how you specifically, would propose a method that leads to greater democracy in both?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I keep having to balance some of your arguments because these 2 actually contradict themselves a bit

    1. “I want us to the leave the EU in an amicable manner, regain our sovereignty and begin trading not only with the single market

    2.you would condone becoming subservient to an undemocratic organisation to do it for us instead.

    What you call an undemocratic organisation IS the Single Market. The single market cannot exist without Commissioners and a Council.

    If the EU had only one and only one job and that one job was to maintain a Single Market, that one job would be impossible at the very least Commission body.

    “It might actually be hilarious if only we the people of Europe weren’t the butt of the joke.”

    Please stop speaking like the Borg Collective on this one you either want the anarchy of every nation for itself to the point Trade agreements are not worth anything or the order of a single market with an agreed set of rules that national governments agree that they cannot change or a trade agreement with an agreed set of rules that national governments agree that they cannot change.

    Nations have to deal with their own “unity in diversity” when it comes to themselves. The UK like every other nation is all over the place, For the EU to decide anything there has to be a unison of elected governments across all nations.

    Assuming something like TIPP wouldn’t occur if the EU wasn’t there dismisses the fact that the British people elected a pro-TIPP government. If it elected an anti-TIPP government it could work with other like minded nations to get out of it.

    We may as well be the Royal We, because there’s no proof anyone else agrees with it.

    Every time I hear a Leaver say “We” or “Us”, I think “I” and “Me”.

    You have nerve to speak about undemocratic yet appoint yourself as the spokesperson for “the people of Europe” without a vote.

    Also, If you think Single Markets are undemocratic, then Trade Agreements are inherently undemocratic, because nationals didn’t vote for the country they are trading with and the trade rules cannot be voted down without consequences.



    The international bit is a tangent, just because not all problems are continental doesn’t obliterate the need for a continental level of co-operation on say the Single Market, or co-operation on agriculture and security.

  • Angry Mob

    I think we (sorry is that undemocratic to say, looool) are beginning to get to the crux of this particular matter which is that the EU is not the single market, I think when you understand this simple concept you may be just begin to understand my point of view. The EU may be the custodian of the single market but it and the single market is not one and the same.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The simple concept you need to grasp is that without an EU Commission, there is no Single Market.

    It’s not magic that makes the “Single Market” singular, it’s the EU.
    The EU is the hands on political body that governs it.

    The Commission may as well be called the “Single Market Management Authority” because that is what its main job is.

    What goes into the Single Market is decided by the European Council and Council of Ministers … i.e. those 28 leaders running national governments and their ministers.

    Freedom of movement for Goods, Services, Capital and People is pretty much the “Holy Quadrinity of Markets”.


    Without these freedoms the markets don’t really exist, they become narrow national ones controlled by disposable bi-lateral treaties with pathetic economy of scale.

    What the EU does is let nations box cleverly they protect their own interests but they don’t shut out competition.

    28 “Economic nationalist” states competing with low pay superstates like China, do need to find ways to work together, not simply resort to historic jingoism and privileges.

    As an Engineer I’m all for people who think they can make the place more self-sufficient, but scrapping recycling schemes, and not developing home grown research and home grown language skills us not helping.

    Our Eurosceptic main party of government … loves flags, militancy and country, but opposes foreign languages, doesn’t provide any welfare to work schemes, and cuts the university budget for a slush fund for the first minister called the Social Investment fund.

    I’m all for the democratic wish for a sort of Germany inside, USA outside hybrid that Leave seems to want … but it’s too superstitious to have a clue how to make stuff and there’s too much xenophobia about to be diplomatic about trading it.

    I’m an engineer who’s bothered learning some Japanese, these people would be begging for me.

    The UK isn’t beating the Germans at industry playing the same game, the UK changing the rules aren’t going to improve its skills any better.

    When the UK entered the EU and as a result the Single Market, it did so knowing there would be free movement and when the EU was expanded, the UK government was one of its biggest cheerleaders.

    When say Thatcher won the British rebate in the EU as part of CAP payments not amiable with British agricultural production as percentage of GDP, was her mandate as a national leader undermined by the Commission.

    Thatcher knew that historically Britain strength was not just its ability to sell and buy things but co-operate with other countries.

  • Angry Mob

    I thought that through the word ‘custodian’ that would convey some sense that the EU is responsible for the single market, apparently not. Not that this matters as outside the EU we can still retain access to the single market whilst significantly reducing the bureaucracy that goes with it.

    When the UK voted on the E.E.C in 1972 and the subsequent referendum it was sold on the premise of an economic common market with no political overtones. This was back when there was 9 member states, this is hugely different to the current beast which has never received a mandate from the people of the UK.

    In regards to Thatcher yes she rightly recognised that trade was important but also (especially in her later years) recognised the importance of sovereignty and abhorred the direction the EU was heading in.

    Regardless of all this, remaining in the EU with its democratic deficit will not bring about more democracy in the UK or any member state.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Any trade inside the EU has to go under EU rules, that’s not going to change. The UK would have no ability to directly change any ” beaurocracy” within it from outside of it, it would need proxies like I dunno Ireland to act on its behalf.

    It would still be paying some of its net contribution to get into the European Atomic agency and other bodies and have no say in them.

    Being outside the EU will inevitably lead to UK based beaurocracy when it comes to state funded enterprises such as agriculture, science funding. If the UK doesn’t introduce regulations and beaurocracy the government could be in arrears on these subsidies or the victims of fraud.

    Trading with the European Union is likely to involve bi-lateral customs forms, which will also impact haulage of goods transcontinental roads to Russia or the Middle East or Turkey. These will also involve costs and security checks which companies have to pay for.

    The “controlling migration” aspect with visas that is wanted by the Leave side, also adds beaurocracy to labour laws. It is also likely to require tax rises or additional cuts to finance a border policy that can cheer up the depressed heads.

    I’ve worked cross border, tax and health insurance cost me a week of work to sort out and I didn’t even leave an island between EU states.

    I’m a reduced ” beaurocracy skeptic” on this unverified Brexit claim.

    There’s been a remark about Environmental regulations being scrapped, but in general
    I have read UK companies generally exceeded the EU standards voluntarily. So the Brugges Group modellers are talking about corner cutting Brittish businesses don’t desire.

    In order to reduce beaurocracy outside the EU, where countries are inclined to introduce it you need one of those sovereignty sacrificing treaty things to ensure both nations play the same ball game on this matter.

    In terms of the rebate Thatcher claimed not one bit of British soveirgnty back from Brussels, but she negotiated within the European Union and made an informed trade off. The U.K. were paying too much by a generic formula a sort of Barnett formula for agriculture and made an impressive case to the other national leaders.

    If Farage were Prime Minister he would get nothing but laughed at because his main demand would be to the leave the EU and then to still be treated like God’s chosen people within it. His main leverage mechanism would be his own ego. This is a man who demotes a fellow Eurosceptic for joining a rival movement to Grassroots out.

    He’s not a pragmatist, he’s not diplomatic, he’s an oversensitive fanatic.

    There’s never been any real demand for a federal Europe, just a working common market. There’s 27 other nations who have fought wars to be free very recently like Croatia.

    These Eurosceptics want a single market with non-discrimination between citizens but the ability to run their own affairs otherwise. I think only xenophobes think differently. It’s like British Eurosceptics want a federal Europe so they can generalise on nationality.

    They want an enemy to outburst the locked up militarism of decades passed, but this is 22 NATO allies and 5 neutral countries. The militant huff and puff is laughable in some extent but can veer to the sort of Katie Hopkins let’s shoot the refugees banter at times.

    The U.K. Has control over 99.5% of its budget and 93% of its own laws … If it is SO shackled inside the EU, what miracles are going to provide this guaranteed Utopia outside of it.

  • Angry Mob

    I was referring to the bureaucracy we currently face being member of the EU. I’m aware that retaining access to the single market still means keeping a proportion of that, however it would be significantly reduced along with the contributions. The UK would however get a direct say in any future laws & regulations from the various world bodies who more and more create them, which we don’t currently get now.

    Thatcher never negotiated with the EU either as for a start it didn’t exist when she was office and there was little at that stage compared to today regarding sovereignty that she could claim back. She was scathing of the continued political integration and that was what her “No! No! No!” speech was all about where she perceived the danger of further integration; remarkable foresight.

    As for the statistics .5% of our budget is a tad low as the EU contribution with rebate is more than 1% by itself, minor but still worth billions. However the real dodgy figure is the 7% which I remember Nick Clegg used during the TV debates and was thoroughly refuted by many different bodies.

    If I may be allowed to make this observation I think you will find the last thing most EU-sceptics want is a federal EU, however I feel this is fair to do so given your sweeping stereotypes and generalisations.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If Swizerland is anything to go by not a single layer of beaurocracy will be gone. In many cases where the EU isn’t involved any more such as agriculture, the level beaurocracy will increase. Traders in Agri-goods cross border both ways could face both UK and EU beaurocracy when it just was EU beaurocracy before.

    The U.K. Doesn’t have any beaurocracy to administer farm payments, but it will need them if it wishes to have state subvention. A fair EU vs. UK comparison is the uptake of research subsidies, the uptake in both are very low and nearly equivalent. Companies aren’t benefiting from these subsidies because they “hate” beaurocracy no matter where it comes from. It’s nice propaganda to think of beaurocrats being tyrannous pencil pushers but they are under pressure from government and the taxpayers to ensure their money is properly allocated.

    If I were unemployed, I’d face form filling to get benefits wouldn’t I?
    So there is no question the likes of farmers would get their money beaurocracy free.

    The EU beaurocracy will be there, whether that increases or not without the UK is pretty much outside the UK’s hands. The U.K. would also invent new beaurocracy in terms of customs rules, immigration rules, subsidy rules and its own regulations which may be pegged to EU standards if it wants its goods to have the same or higher reputation to EU goods outside the EU.

    The U.K. would be unable to sell goods in the EU that don’t match EU regulations and since 45-46% of its trade would be with the EU not only will these exporters still face EU regulations, the absence of the U.K. From the EU is likely to mean the EU balance of power will shift away from the UK’s interests not towards it.

    I think your figures are a bit dodgy to when it comes to the rebate. That rebate is a return from the UK contribution not some gift from the EU and will go if the UK leaves the EU. It would be like an Irish nationalist or Scottish nationalist making the arguement that the Barnett Subvention would be maintained by the UK in a United Ireland or Independent Scotland. Adding the rebate to the UK’s contribution to the EU rather than seeing it as a return is mere propaganda by poor accountancy.

    The rebate is larger than the UK net contribution, which effectively cuts the gross contribution the UK makes to EU institutions, but insures no discrimination of influence.

    Effectively it is money that would have been allocated to farms if it were more like Ireland but instead being reallocated back to things like science and research and development the UK benefits more from. Even with the rebate returns, the UK is still the 5th largest beneficiary of CAP do to the higher costs of living in Western Europe and the tendency to have bigger fields.

    If there is a Brexit there is no more rebate to be paid by the EU27 back to the UK.
    Then two thirds of the U.K. contribution which was spent by the EU in the UK returns to the UK. Most of these would be spent in the same areas of agriculture, science, manufacturing and security. Cuts can be made to these but Brittish farmers, scientists and manufacturers are unwilling to work for serf wages.
    The only saving is that only half of the remaining net contribution would be spent accessing the Single market (and EU bodies like the Atomic Agency) again on optimal competitive terms according to Open Europe.

    That’s 5/6 of the UK gross contribution to the EU its returned used up just to get to a point where it’s still signed up to free movement, still signed up to EU community rules, and acquires additional liabilities like customs posts and tarrifs in order to break the hegemony with the EU and let the EU nations break hegemony with it.

  • Angry Mob

    The UK does already encounter bureaucracy to administer single farm payments, indeed that’s what alot of DARD’s work here entails, so it’s not really that much more hassle to give DARD the money directly from the UK coffers, which can be better targeted for the UK needs rather than under an Europe-wide policy.

    Not only that but under the last labour government the UK was fined £600 million for not administering the CAP to the EU’s liking. So the money that the British taxpayer gave the EU, is returned to the farmers which they tax payer is then in turned fine for. That £600 million would of went a long way to actually help our farmers without passing through the sticky fingers of EU bureaucrats.

    As for my figures the UK government expenditure 2015 was £748 billion. The estimated EU net contribution was 8.5 billion, given that was estimated it could have been more and it doesn’t take it account other costs such as fines imposed upon us.

    I never stated that we would expect the rebate either after leaving the EU either, but we would be significantly better off as our contributions would be at least halved.

  • Kevin Breslin

    DARD implement CAP beaurocracy, if there was a Brexit they would simply will have DEFRA beaurocracy instead to more or less do the same job. In effect I don’t see any net beaurocracy loss. DEFRA’s only native subsidy for any form of rural land use goes towards English Woodlands.

    In terms of costs, the EU is paid for by 28 nations taxpayers on an agreed policy. Short changing that policy through disobeying rules and farmers trying to defraud the system is not something that would be tolerated. If every nation’s farmers did this the EU would be in massive arrears. This is a break in a legal contract effectively. The fines would in effect reduce the gross overall contribution of member states including the UK.

    If the UK government (DEFRA) runs the agriculture subsidy system as a result of a Brexit I would imagine it would take a zero tolerance approach to those diverging from the conditions on subsidy as is the case of people diverging from the terms of claiming unemployment benefit.