Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Is, John Redwood a Eurosceptic?

John Redwood has the second part of a two-day article on his website, the first part to which I referred here. At the time I did wonder whether I had been too harsh on Redwood and misunderstood his views, however having digested part two it would seem that my fears were not misplaced.

Accepting that the British people want an end to the current relationship with Europe, Redwood continues:
"The simplest way to fix the problems in the UK’s relationship with the EU would be to restore a modified UK veto over all matters.  The new veto would allow us to say No to to any law or proposal emanating from Brussels, but would not allow us to stop them doing it for themselves without us. This would take much of  the pressure out of the situation."
There can be no 'modified veto' as I believe it correct to say that the EU would not accept, nor allow, such a modification to the existing Treaty of Lisbon - a country is either in the EU and thus accepts all the conditions that said membership entails, or it is not. To enact that which is suggested by Redwood would therefore mean ceasing our membership - which then begs the question why Redwood does not sign up to BetterOffOut?

I also have to take exception to what Redwood proposes, when he writes:
"No British government after such a change could ever again say they had to do something to comply with the EU. We restore UK democracy. Any British government that wanted to be in line with the EU, or liked what the EU was doing, could adopt as much of it as they saw fit."
Yet again we see demonstrated the political mindset that politicians rule us when such a belief is the antithesis to how democracy should work. Just who the hell gave politicians the right to play fast and loose with our constitution without asking those they are supposed to serve, ie the people? I also find it strange that Redwood should believe:
"There would be no immediate revolution. The day after such a change the UK would still have the full panoply of EU law. The government could decide what bits it wished to disapply. It would be wise to do so carefully. It would be diplomatic to give plenty of warning to the EU authorities where we were going to remove parts of the canon, and to show them we intended to use the new powers sensibly."
If as Redwood maintains, that having divorced ourselves from political rule by the EU and thus regained our democracy, under what obligation are we to show them that we intended to use the new powers sensibly?

All things considered, I still find myself viewing John Redwood's opinions on matters EU with a certain amount of distrust.


cosmic said...


The rather cynical Tory line has always been that we can have the penny and the bun as far as the EU goes. Cynical or naive, I find cynical the more credible. Believing that has been a comforting fiction which has lulled us to drift further in. But it's not as if they've made any serious attempt to stay in the EU but reform it. I think it's impossible anyway.

Reform sounds pretty good and moderate. However, the EU hasn't been diverted from its original aims, it is what it was intended to be. Talk of reforming it is saying you are going to change its fundamental purpose. The way the Euro crisis is being dealt with - more Europe, rather than orderly dismantlement - shows that it has no intention of changing its goals.

It might be that JR actually believes what he says. Being intelligent doesn't mean that people are immune from believing and advocating ridiculous things.

PeterCharles said...

If one is inclined to be charitable one could say that John Redwood is trying to be diplomatic and offer a compromise that would suit everyone.

If like me you are not inclined toward charity you would say he is talking arrant, fatuous nonsense.

The EU could never permit a member country to assume a universal veto, it would destroy everything they have so far achieved. This alone completely negates his suggestion.

"No British government after such a change could ever again say they had to do something to comply with the EU." That is the very situation we have now. Even if the government does not like a proposal to be decided under qualified majority voting they vote in favour of it unless they can gain a consensus against it, why would that change?

On the other hand, perhaps he is simply trying to sound so reasonable that true believers have to expose themselves as the unreasonable ideologues they are in order to refute his solution. Somewhat irrelevant whichever way I would argue. EU ideology is much the same as climate ideology, reason has no place in the argument.

cosmic said...

Reading his articles again, Mr. Redwood manages to skate around with word withdrawal.

If you are a member of the EU, as the UK is, you are pretty well committed to abandoning your own sovereignty, accepting EU sovereignty and working towards a single European state. That's the thrust of the treaties and the bending of the treaties we've seen recently.

I don't see how it's possible to be a member of the EU and only go along with the bits that suit you. There isn't any associate membership such as described. I may have missed it, but I've seen no explanation of how this is to be achieved and what we do if the rest of the EU says no.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c & PC: You both make excellent points. PC; your third paragraph is something I have said time and time again. Also as c writes, there is no alternative membership - you're either in or out.

cosmic said...


JR seems to have a strong sense of British, particularly English national identity, he has a very clear understanding of what the Euro is about and doesn't want us to pay for it. He can see where the politics of the EU are going and doesn't want it. He can't bring himself to use the W word though.

Rather like a maths student who tackles a problem with a couple of pages of argument, substitutions, identities, simplifications, however, the solution is 666 and he can't bring himself to write it down.

The answer is an integer between 665 and 667.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c: I do not deny that Redwood is a very clever and astute man - he has shown that in the past.

What I cannot accept is his 'pseudo' Eurosceptism. It may be that he chose the wrong words to express himself, although being the clever and astute man he is I find that unlikely. In which case, what does he really believe.

It is perhaps understandable why the cynic in me always rises to the surface?

cosmic said...

If Mr. Redwood can explain how to square the circle of being 'In Europe but not ruled by Europe' when the purpose of being in the EU is to be ruled by the EU, I shall be impressed, as I don't think it possible. I don't see any serious prospect of Cameron pushing for reform or a new arrangement either, but there may be some eyewash, which changes nothing. I see no appetite in the rest of the EU to accept that the UK is a special case and can do as it pleases either.

I await the next instalment of the articles on his suggestions for the UK's looser relationship with the EU with interest, but not much genuine expectation. As I see it the 'relationship' that the UK has with the EU is that we are a part of it with all that entails. To change that significantly to do as we please in the ways that JR suggests, we would need to be not part of it.

Meanwhile there's been a recent increase in the Tories talking tough on Europe as they do periodically, so it isn't off the cards that they see a GE coming and they are attempting to bring their Eurosceptic vote back onside. Were one cynical, one might entertain the idea that JR's articles are part of the show.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c: It is indeed part of the process leading up to a general election, only this time we must hope that the electorate will see through it.....

cosmic said...


JR has moved onto the consequences of the loss of empire and unnecessary wars now. He never did manage to explain how the UK was to achieve a looser relationship with the EU, just said it would be a good idea.

He produces an interesting blog. asks some of the right questions and has a very deep knowledge of some issues, such as the Euro. However, since he can't bring himself to use the W word, and he hasn't explained how to achieve his goals without it, one is left wondering what he's driving at. Until he manages to explain exactly how the things he talks about are to be brought about he's not to be taken seriously. Shame really.

I wonder if he can't see the whole EU/Euro collapsing and is positioning for high office in a subsequent UK government?

Anyway, speculation apart, he's just served up a Beef Wellington with no beef.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c: Yes, read that blog about 'wars'. You hit the nail on the head - as with most polies, losts of hints and suggestions but an answer there never comes!