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October 22, 2019



"And those who support leaving should ask why all reputable economists think that doing so will make us poorer. "

Because economists (reputable or not) are sooooooo good at predicting the future............


"You might object that a 6%+ hit (pdf) to GDP is something to be worked up about."

Fair enough, it (the potential for some loss of wealth we otherwise might have had) is a reason to be in favour of Remain. However if you are also in favour of Greta Thunberg and her campaign to make us all poorer, perhaps a little consistency might be in order? I suspect that the split between Leave and Remain is the parallel of the split of Global Warming/Climate change, in that those in favour of Remain are more likely to support the requirement to decarbonise the economy, and vice versa. As such its a bit hypocritical to complain on the one hand that Brexit will make us all poorer, and on the other that we all need to be poorer in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

Dave Timoney


Decarbonising the economy is not an end in itself, any more than making ourselves poorer is. The goal is to avoid global warming causing greater loss. As such, it is a strategy of prevention. Likewise, many advocating remain are arguing that we should prevent an avoidable loss to GDP. Whether you agree with them or not, these positions are perfectly consistent.


Plainly you are the voice of sweet reason. We all take a step back and look again at Brexit.

But that is not the game at all, the game is a takeover by apex predators who want power - all of it. The idea that there might be some advantage or no advantage to Brexit seems irrelevant, the name of the game and the objective is power. A few or more than a few percent GDP will not affect those who have the power, only the little people and they don't matter.

That this game has run into the sand for the moment is a temporary setback. There seems no political advantage to be had whining 'this was a bad idea', the only way now is to leave on lousy terms or even lousier terms. Reasonablness will be seen as weakness by the MSM.


I think this is great, yet it's another incisive, thought-provoking piece that makes no mention at all of the millions of people being left in the shit because of Brexit. There isn't one mention of us in Johnson's agreement. They barely bring us up in the Commons - yet there are Brits in Europe in all sorts of complex family and work situations who are absolutely shitting themselves. And that, I'm afraid, is why it's very, very difficult to have sympathy for the other side. I'm supposed to be okay with real people's lives being ruined because somebody in the UK wants a different 'identity'. It's not going to happen. I'm never going to understand them or wish them well. I'm only going to find it blindingly selfish, stupid and reckless.


I may have said this before, but I was at a talk by Stefan de Rynck (an assistant to Barnier) at Chatham House in December 2017. He was explaining the position of the EU in negotiations and he pointed out that the EU is an association of states - the member states have created the EU and its associated institutions in order to work together and to trade. The rules and processes are there to allow that cooperation. The EU does not tell the member states what to do - the member states have created the rules and the EU applies them to all member states on behalf of those member states. If the UK doesn't like the rules it can withdraw, but that means that it won't have a close relationship with the other member states, because the various EU institutions were created to facilitate close relationships - working together means rules and processes. He thought that it was surprising that the UK appeared to think that the EU was imposing rules on the UK - the UK has agreed to the rules that the EU enforces and in many cases took the lead to create them (such as Thatcher and the Single Market).

In the subsequent questions to de Rynck (mainly from journalists), it was clear that about half the questioners understood what he had said and about half did not (or pretended not to). The latter's questions were of the form "why can't we have X?" which shouldn't need answering if the questioner understood what de Rynck had been saying.

This divide in understanding about the nature of the EU (association of states versus evil empire that imposes on the UK)makes detoxification difficult. In my view, almost 30 years of stuff in certain parts of the press have convinced parts of the population that the EU is an evil empire and that makes any kind of coming together very difficult. The UK may require outside conflict-resolution assistance, because those who understand what the EU is are never going to accept the false premise that the EU is an evil empire. It is quite reasonable to discuss what relationship the UK should have with the rest of Europe and change it, but it isn't possible to cooperate with Europe and not the EU (as the Vote Leave slogan suggested) - the UK has helped to give Europe institutions and it isn't now possible to have a relationship with Europe without those institutions.

Recently on Flip Chart Rick's blog, Dipper (who sometimes comments here) has commented that Johnson's deal allows the UK to have a close relationship with Europe without being ruled by the EU. Should I have desisted from pointing out that the UK has never been ruled by the EU? Should I have desisted from saying that leaving the CU, EEA and CJEU etc means that the UK cannot have a close relationship with Europe?

What does the panel think?


Detailed polls have shown for some time that:

1. ≈ 40% of voters dislike the EU and would vote to leave under almost any circumstances.
2. ≈ 30% of voters think the EU is awesome and would vote to stay under almost any circumstances.
3. ≈ 15% of voters dislike the EU but think leaving might be too economically risky.

In other words, even when there’s a poll majority for Remain, it’s still a majority tinted with Euroscepticism (The only Remainer who actually seems to understand this is Jeremy Corbyn, but it hasn’t done him much good with Remainers to date). If there’s a repeat Referendum and some fresh European crisis occurs during the campaign, parts of the 15% will peel away to Leave again and the vote may be lost.

Here’s what I think Remain should do if they want to win:

1. Promise mandatory UK-wide referenda on all future institutional changes to the EU.
2. Make all the leaders of the Remain campaign say - to camera - that they oppose the creation of an EU Army. Politician-style equivocation, saying it’s all in the future, and voters can apply the brakes when the issue arises, won’t cut it. The 15% interpret that as “I really want that army now if not sooner. But you’re paying attention now. I’ll sneak it in when you’re distracted by some other issue”.
3. Make all the leaders of the Remain campaign say - to camera - that they disagree with Guy Verhofstadt’s speech to the LibDems, in which he said that empires are awesome, and the EU should become an empire too. Of all the EU figures who regularly show up in the UK media, Verhofstadt is the most repellent to the 15%. They see him as a psycho-federalist ideologue. Junker seems like the cliche of an EU pork barrel sleaze bag, and Barnier is our negotiating opponent. That leaves Tusk. If he learns to be more circumspect, Tusk could actually be the EU politician the 15% could warm to. He feels the least ideological, the least obsessed with “the project”.
4. Find an issue - any issue - where Remain can pledge to fight for the repatriation of powers already centralised. The point is to demonstrate that the ratchet of centralisation is reversible. There’s a good case for devolving the control of fishing grounds to coastal communities, for instance. If you don’t like that, find another issue with the same logic of reversing centralisation.

dilbert dogbert

Over here to the west I sometimes wish we had your problem rather than the one we have.
We did sort of have it back in 1860. We are still living with the consequences.
You will survive your agony. I am not sure we will survive ours. Good Luck.



I think de Rynck is engaging in sophistry. He’s basically saying that if a previous government of an EU member state has agreed to centralise certain powers at the EU level, in terms of sovereignty that’s just the same as if that state had retained those powers for its national government in perpetuity. There’s no “ratchet effect”. So if a previous government of Greece has agreed to replace the Drachma with the Euro, the current Euro Greek government cannot be told what to do by an EU-wide organ like the ECB, any more than the previous Drachma Greek government could. Is that a fair summary of his claim?

Isn’t it obvious that EU membership requires more loss of self-government than, say, NAFTA membership? It seems you don’t think so. The thing is, I honestly can’t remember anyone proposing a NAFTA currency or central bank, never mind a NAFTA army. Have I got that all wrong?

If you’re absolutely certain this is all a mistake, isn’t there a simple way to clear it up? Let’s have a treaty specifying the sovereign-state-type powers the EU is forbidden from acquiring. That would surely put all these fears to rest.

Many historians of the United States have pointed out that, before the Civil War, written documents would say “the United States are…”. After the Civil War they started to say “the United States is…”. Clearly some significant creeping centralisation had occurred.

Ralph Musgrave

"its treatment of Greece". Er - the plight of Greece stems from it's being in the Eurozone, not from its being in the EU. Greece cannot devalue so as to regain competitiveness, whereas the UK can: the UK has its own currency.


@Ralph Musgrave

Again, this feels like a Eurosceptic argument for Remain: that it’s the opt outs and equivocations that make our EU membership really worth retaining; that it all works well for us as long as we stick to being as half-hearted, dilatory and unenthusiastic about “the project” as possible. Remain, but continue to be the Eeyore of the EU.

I think this argument has a lot of merit. But it’s not one that comes easily to EU “true believers” like Jo Swinson or Dominic Grieve.


" the member states have created the rules and the EU applies them to all member states on behalf of those member states. "

Except when its France or Germany breaking the rules, then the rules don't apply.

Bill Bedford

>Except when its France or Germany breaking the rules, then the rules don't apply.

Or the UK, where EU directives were gold plated to HMG more control.

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