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Should Britain leave the European Union?

Does a two-speed Europe mean Britain no longer has a place in the European Union?

 
Should Britain leave the European Union?

David Cameron has created a two-speed Europe, swerving the new 'fiscal compact' that other European Union members have agreed to, arguing he is protecting Britain's financial services industry and economic decision-making powers.

Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR, a London-based consultancy, asked this morning, 'can Britain remain an EU member state?'

Click on the box below to read his short – but cutting – comments sent out to journalists this morning. 

With the EU not only ceasing to try to protect the City of London, which for all its failings remains one of the UK’s vital national interests, but actually trying  deliberately to undermine it, it was never going to be easy for the UK to have a comfortable relationship with the other EU Member States.

I suspect that David Cameron will pause for reflection (and to catch up on his sleep). But the rest of us will have to think about whether General De Gaulle was right after all that the cultural differences  in thinking between the UK and the Continent are so vast that it is difficult for the UK to be an EU Member.  The troubles of the Eurozone are blamed in much of Continental Europe on the financial markets and so the City of London is seen as  the enemy. Obviously most British analysts see  it differently – the attempt to force a single currency on a zone that is not suited for it was bound to create difficulties which have now presented themselves in a lack of competitiveness, property booms and busts, the disappearance of growth and the emergence of unrepayable deficits.

For the UK to go down the route of renegotiation with possible withdrawal from the EU will probably break the Coalition, though one suspects that in any subsequent election the Tories would be winners. It is rarely pointed out by commentators that the single issue party UKIP is now neck and neck in the opinion polls with the Lib Dems and in any election fought on European renegotiation their votes would probably go Tory.

The UK leaving the EU would not be a great result for the rest of the EU, however blithely they may react at present. It will reinforce the message which I have been picking up in my travels in the Middle East and Far East over the past week that Europe is a rapidly fading star. They see  Europeans as condemned by excess expectations to live well beyond their now shrunken means.

But it will reinforce the message that the UK is also in a very difficult situation. We are also desperately uncompetitive and equally living beyond our means. If we are to go it alone, we will need to change our economic policy so that every aspect is pro-growth, with lower top rates of taxes, Irish Corporation tax, easier planning permissions, better education, lower welfare payments and a value of sterling that is as competitive as we can make it without boosting inflation excessively. President Sarkozy was not entirely joking when he pointed out that at present rates of tax it would make economic sense for many French people  living in London to return to France.

I am reminded of the day in August 1965 when Singapore got thrown out of Malaysia. Lee Kuan Yew had to devise a new strategy for going it alone. And while the authoritarian aspects of his government are neither desirable nor appropriate for a country like the UK, his approach to economic policy has a lot to be said for it. Perhaps in 50 years’ time, 9 December 2011 will be celebrated as the UK’s equivalent of 4 July or Bastille Day.  But for that to happen, the whole nation will have to detune its expectations and be prepared to work harder for less immediate reward.

What do you think: can we go it alone?

244 comments so far. Why not have your say?

colin grant

Dec 09, 2011 at 12:56

You cannot negotiate with proven dishonest people.( Their books have gone unapproved for years). They want our contributions but are fairly contemptuous of us otherwise. They are megalamaniacs who spend your money on their self aggrandisement and want total control over your lives without having been elected to the positions they currently occupy. We need out asap.

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Fastmove

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:00

Can we go it alone? Of course we can! The sooner the better!. It's about time we left that unelected and corrupt instititution that is the EU - a bloc with a misplaced sense of entitlement and aspiration sustained by delusions of grandeur. We have the ability and credibility to compete in world markets in our own right as we have done before.

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Paul Eden

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:08

Britain entered the EU for political not economic reasons. I have no doubt a cost-benefit analysis of the situation was made by civil servants and that costs outweighted benefits. A referendum was not held because politicians believed people would not want Britain in the EU.

Were Britain spreading its trade around the world (as it once did prior to EU membership), it would not be so vulnerable to crises in the euro zone - and these are going to go on into the future. A great deal of our trade is with the EU because we gave up trading with other more distant countries in many areas (Australia and New Zealand).

A referendum would allow the electorate to decide on this issue and it should be held. Given the imbalance now between strong and weak economies in the EU and the growing amounts demanded from stronger nations to subsidise the weaker, Britain leaving the EU would be a big shock financially to the whole EU apparatus - one that could spiral out of control with stronger nations resisting making increased contributions themselves.

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Martin Drew

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:13

Can we go it alone? Yes - but with cuts in pensions, benefits and the national health and a return to the six day working week. I don't have a problem with any of that but from what I observe a lot of my fellow citizens will. I would love to know why people think we can go it along without that sort of pain.

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Jem Cooper

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:31

It is good to see Cameron belatedly siding with the people of the UK and probably the voters in most other EU states by refusing to cede further powers to this monstrosity. I hope he is sincere and not just pretending to put up a fight for a while to keep the support of his party.

The EU is destroying democracy throughout Europe by removing power from the people at national level. Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler all wanted to unite Europe but at least the UK politicians of the time (or most of them anyway) had the guts and the foresight to resist. We as a nation must be prepared to stand alone against these bullies yet again if necessary. But is Cameron man enough to lead us in our struggle?

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Murdo McSponge

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:32

Absolutely we can go it alone. We were in any case given no choice. It was accept what Germany and France wanted or get lost.

There is an awful lot to come out before the waters clear and there are quite a few hurdles that "The 26" have to get over before things work out entirely to their advantage.

It has to be remembered that we have been running a considerable trade deficit with the EU, as well as paying huge amounts of treasure to Brussles, which has mainly been going to French farmers. We also have a very large chunk of the overall EU population, which presumably they will want to keep selling to? No, not by any means are all the cards are stacked against us!!

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David Roland

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:36

The UK would save billions every year if we left the EU. Getting rid of the HS2 (part of the proposed Europe wide rail system) would save a lot more.

What's the point in signing up to ever more restrictive regulations, created by unelected Eurocrats who don't even speak our language?

Trade with Europe - but get back our independence and regain the freedom to make our own laws.

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Dek

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:36

What price freedom. Our Parents and Grandparents thought two World Wars to allow us to have control of our own destiny. Have we all forgotten that so soon?

I am NOT anti-european. I love Europe and most of the peoples of Europe but we are different. Trading with our European brothers and sisters is one thing but we do have fundamental differences in cultural attitude.

I don't want a political Union. I don't want European Courts telling me what rights I can or can't have in my Country.

If the cost of staying in Europe is to forgo political power over my life (as limited as that voting power might be) then lets bite the bullet now and take the pain. We will take pain in any event and become more and more subject to the whims of French and German politicians. I don't see why we, in the guise of the Financial Transaction Charge, should fund the overspending of the single currency participating countries. After all, all the FTC is doing is resourcing a euro bailout fund.

I don't want to leave the European Trading Union but if that is the price - PAY IT NOW!!!

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Philmo

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:46

Agree with all!

I don't want a union [except at the end of a barge-pole] with anyone who doesn't understand and doesn't have in their language an equivalent of the word "equitable"!

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Tom Bolton

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:49

I do not think Britain would be wise to continue in the EU where the politicians have proved to be fiscally and politically incompetent and one can have no optimism that they will succeed economically with the Euro. Their record is of waste and corruption combined with a unrealistic goal of a united Europe without considering the consequences of a different work ethos, loss of national identities, and abrogation of democratic processes. The best guess is that if Britain is part of European Union we will be dragged down with them while the continentals destroy those areas in which Britain has some strengths (financial etc.). Better to take a short sharp dose of austerity and look world wide for trading partners we have neglected so far. The whole concept of the European Union has been a confidence trick where under the guise of being a free-trade area 27 European countries have been tricked along a path of fiscal and political union and central (German/French) control by power-hungry individuals. This has only now being realised by British politicians who ought to have seen this coming at the time of Edward Heath. The amount spent over the years on enforcing EU regulations I suspect would probably pay off most of our national deficit.

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PAUL TAMAY

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:55

Britons have consistently shown downright reluctancy to sign up full membership to any club where we don´t have the last word. Times have changed and now the EU is our first economic partner, so for practical reasons, government will enevitably have to reach an agreement - a last minute one.

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an elder one

Dec 09, 2011 at 13:58

We don't need to, its falling apart of its own volition; I suspect when some of the 17 really see the way things are going they'll be up in arms. To envisage a German hegemony is not likely to prove a pretty sight for them, especially with the French Poodle on leash.

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:02

Whilst not being anti EU - I do however, feel strongly that now is the time to "jump ship" and try and get back to some form of normality - exports of goods will always continue with or without the EU - how does America manage? Immigration and other restraints is costing the British people dearly in more ways than 1.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:04

European Councils are always pure theatre.

Most of the attending journalists (and sometimes all of them) have very little idea of what is happening.

The media are not admitted to the council chamber (and nor indeed are civil servants and aides). Therefore, the hacks know only what they are told by leakers, who are most often retailing second and even third-hand information - or through carefully managed press conferences and statements. Here, they are swallowing Cameron "spin", wholesale - a composite of leaks and "official" statements, written and oral.

Everything that comes out of Brussels is "Londonised" before it hits the streets of the UK media. It is being run through a distorting filter, compounding the inherent "spin" and fog of incomprehension, making it highly unreliable as source material. Nothing can be taken at face value, and nothing can be trusted.

Whatever Cameron might say, the European Council is not negotiating a treaty amendment – it cannot. Inter alia, it is deciding whether it wants to convene as an IGC in order to negotiate a treaty amendment. The Council muddies the waters though, by not sticking to its own procedures. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain the precise legal format, under which the leaders are operating. Despite this, David Cameron has not vetoed a treaty change, dramatically or otherwise. He, himself, talks of an "effective" veto - i.e., not a veto.

Cameron could only deploy the veto if there was a vote on the draft of a substantive treaty change, formally "on the table" at an Inter Governmental Conference ( IGC). This is not an IGC. It is not a summit. Cameron is speaking within the framework of a European Council. Apart from the passerelle, the European Council has no authority to negotiate treaty change. The European Council makes political declarations.

The "fiscal pact" is not a treaty, and nor is it a treaty change. It is a political declaration - a statement of intent. It has no legal status and is not enforceable. This is, of course, why Merkel wants a treaty change … to make it enforceable.

Every national delegation is playing two games – one inside the chamber, where everyone is being terribly communautaire, and the other for domestic consumption. The two are rarely the same. The hacks have deadlines to meet and space to fill. They are entirely reliant on the leakers, and will believe what they are told, if it fits the narrative. Media and politicians have common cause, in that they all want to keep the narrative going.

Just because all the media are saying the same thing does not mean they are right. The herd mentality is at play here and the hacks like to stay within their comfort zone. If they depart from the herd narrative, they get asked awkward questions. Better to be part of the herd and wrong, than out on your own and right – but at the risk of being wrong and ostracised.

Within the herd dynamic, crowd psychology dominates. Even respectable, "sensible" newspapers get it wrong, sometimes knowingly, preferring to stay within the comfort zone.

Very often, high-profile dramas are used as a screen to obscure more fundamental and important issues - in this case, the fact that there are still fundamental differences between Merkel and Sarkozy. These, more than anything, are driving the current negotiations.

Finally, it ain't over yet but it soon will be and when that happens the political consequences of the euro’s failure will make the market collapse seem but a minor consequence!

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barry slater

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:06

Of course we should leave.

Their inability to make decisions.....massive levels of corruption

together with apalling levels of red tape will mean we will be so better off out of it .

We we continue to trade....of course

Will we still go there on holiday.....yes of course

But lets lets this politically doomed rollercoaster continue its journey without us

barry slater

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peter hart

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:09

Lets leave please asap.

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MC

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:14

We have been 2nd tier since the euro was introduced and have got on fine. I don't think this treaty makes much difference.

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Truffle Hunter

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:15

We should be out!! We have been "switch sold" by politicians over the years who are looking after their own selfish interests. As a free trade area the European Economic Community would have been enough - we dont need more useless, unproductive politicians and bureacrats living off our backs.

Reduce the politicians and bureacrats by 75 % and let the people and businesses breathe. Slash the taxes to 15% across the board and revitalise the economy. The will to work and the ensueing productivity gains would be enough to lift us out of this Greater Depression.

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Dave B

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:20

We voted for a Economic Community in the 1970's but we were misled. What we got is a bumpy ride to political union which most of the UK don't want. Many UK politicians have done very well for themselves out of the EU - the Kinnocks, Mandelson etc (some Tories as well) so they want the gravy train to continue. I'm not sure about coming out though as I'm not certain we will find it that easy on our own. Thatcher failed to support industry in the 80's and 90's when we were self sufficient in oil, so we are now very reliant on the service sector. Some good things were done in the 80's and some things were done that seemed good at the time but are not so good 30 years later particularly if we want to go it alone. Just not sure what is the best course. It would be very difficult to put the genie in the bottle if we left.

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David Roland

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:25

What's the big deal with getting out. If we leave the EU we can still trade with them - we're not leaving the planet. What's more, with the money we save and the red tape we can dump, it will be easier to survive that at present.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:35

Through the day, some of the background to the issues paraded in this morning's press will become clearer – others will become murkier and, in other areas, we will end up even more confused than we are already.

On the EU Council webiste, we find the text of the statement, over which the media have been hyperventilating, and thence to affirm quite how much the fourth estate have been taken in. Cameron – with his PR skills to the forefront – has engineered a huge coup de théâtre. This is smoke and mirrors on an industrial scale.

The essence of the Cameron coup, of course, is to convince the ever gullible media that somehow he has vetoed a new treaty, and thus altered the course of events, protecting British interests in the EU!

Thus Cameron is emerging as the darling of the Conservative right wing, defender of the faith and all that. Boris Johnson has already fallen for it. Many more will follow. There is no new treaty to veto!!

And yes we should leavre the EU ...that is were the media discussions should focus on how why and when and not be taken in by the Conservative position of 'in Europe and not ruled by Europe.

The EU and the euro are falling apart, we the UK in our national interest should be out.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:37

miliband always talks uk down after every eec debate why. They keep saying we will be left behind but why not infront if we control the city properly . We may even be able to control the borders again and loose the human rights and health and safty over reactions that is being used to make none jobs in british industry. Play grounds and parks being shut . My only fear is if we dont control uk banks/city will they bancrupt us like a dog off the leash. Really good program on tuesday/wednesday 11pm about banks bonds and america/england. Watch the program it will open your eyes on how things may not have changed.

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Anonymous 3 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:39

@ Peter Troy. Very interesting insight in to the workings of the EU. However, to use your veto you simply need to advise that you will, therefore avoiding any vote. Therefore by Cameron saying he would he rendered any vote pointless, hence no vote will now happen. Hence he has "effectively" used his veto.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:50

Anonymous .......

"I effectively wielded the veto" goes the Cameronian legend, except he did no such thing. The statement, to which he ostensibly takes such great exception is a "Statement by the Euro Area Heads of State or Government". And unless you know different, Cameron is not a euro area head. He could not, on any account, veto a statement issued by a group of which he is not part.

Of course, it could be that Cameron has forced the issue, making the smaller euro area group deliver the statement, instead of the whole European Council, but that is not what is being claimed. The "hard man of Europe" has blocked the treaty we are told!

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Dek

Dec 09, 2011 at 14:55

Anonymous 3 - thanks so much you have saved me a job.

I have read the statement on the EU Council website. It is a clear statement of intent which would lead to a change in the balance of political and fiscal power in Europe and which will therefore have to be enshrined in a new treaty or fall.

To suggest that Cameron hasn't actually used his veto powers is technically correct but demonstrably pedantic.

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LANDLORD X

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:02

Turkey, Russia and Ukraine are all booming without being in the EU

Norway and Switzerland are doing just fine too

Even Iceland seems to be recovering from its hiccup

Time to leave the EU - there is a world of opportunity out there

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david Bhatti

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:04

Perhaps it can be said in defence of European Union that its structure allows it to successfully deal with many modern challenges that liberal democracy has no effective answer for. Perhaps Europe needs this alternative.

However, It will better for it not to sound so mighty towards its economically weaker members, as it too has 'feet of clay', lest you are refused mercy in turn.

Many see so many challenges facing EU. Good luck to them.

As far as Britain is concerned, I have it on good authority that given time Britain has a good chance of surpassing the present day pride of Europe.

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ajay

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:10

Leave the EUSSR? Oh, yes,yes,yes,yes,yes......Pleeeeese!!

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The ssinnic

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:23

Out? Yes please.

Now watch out for the squealing German/French alliance which only exists on the back of UK generosity...we pay out...they collect...nice little earner gone wrong now! Merde!! Himmel!!

Come on Mr Greece, go back to the drachma please, start the ball rolling. It's all going to unravel before our very eyes!! Then when's Portugal going to have a pop?

Get into your seats for the greatest show on earth since Barnum's circus!

This is better than Eastenders!

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Robert Court

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:34

These posts would make great research for a future historian writing about:

'The rise of public opinion against the EU that led to WW3'

I'm not for peace at any cost.

I'm actually in favour of a referendum in the UK on not only should we join the Eurozone (ha!ha!) but if we should leave the EU completely.

What I WOULD like to see would be some geniune information given to the British public on which to base their democratic vote in such a referendum where certain emotive statements such as 'The whole EU is a monstrous conspiracy by power hungry unelected despots' ('outraged from Middle Wallop') were replaced by simple facts on which individuals could make up their own minds.

There is no doubt at all that for the eurozone to be effective that more national sovereinty would have to be given up; fining a country for breaking the rules laid down are both uneforceable and ridiculous - so there has to be fiscal / political integration for the euro to survive.

I applaud David Cameron for refusing to sign up to a new treaty without the safeguards he required for the City of London, but I also believe its a shame that we are going it alone rather than leading the 10 EU non eurozone countries (the others seem to have capitulated without a whimper).

As I thought nothing too definite has come out of today (so far at least).

There is no 'bite' to what they propose and markets will not be fooled into thinking anything of any real significance has taken place (even if they foolishly go up for a few days they'll sink even further after the fake euphoria is over).

Volatility in the markets shall continue for the time being with no reassurance that the crisis is over.

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stuart parrott

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:38

The spectacle of Merkel and Sarkozy imposing their will -- and deeply flawed political programme -- on the other EU member states is nauseating. The EU was meant to lead to less nationalism not more. If the German-French duopoly persist in this naked grab for power you're going to have more nationalist demonstrators out on the streets of the poorer nations chucking firebombs at police. You'd think that the Germans, with their dreadful history in regard to Europe, would think twice about throwing their weight around in support of a dodgy union and flawed currency which is long past its sell-by date. The unelected officials in Brussels, the deep corruption, the phony Euro-parliament, the secrecy, the debates behind closed doors, where is the democracy? Well done Cameron for saying no!

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The ssinnic

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:39

@Robert Court

Now that's about as silly as saying all jelly babies are red!

WW3 because we reject the idea of paying out more than we should? Get real Robert!

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Mike1

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:42

Yes, of course we can go it alone. But I'm not sure leaving the EU altogether is a good idea. We are told by the BBC that we will now have no influence on decisions made within the EU. If this is true and not just the usual negative comment and we are still expected to be high net contributors then an exit might be the best bet. In any case, I think we should be very much looking East for future prosperity. Oh, and where does this leave our agreement with the French regarding mutual defence!!

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:47

Deck it is not a pedantic point ..it is a matter of EU constitution and understanding ogf how the EU works.

The satement on the Council web site is by who? Not by the EU Concil! You are missing the pont, not for the first time!

Cameron is not a member of the Euro Area Heads of State or Government. confrence. Cameron has a vote as a member of The EU Council . The EU Council has no political power over the euro, what is being said in the media and indeed by Cameron himself is that he (Cameron) has in effect used a veto at the Euro leaders meeting/deliberations ..no, no, wrong, he has not he has no influence at the Euro Heads Meeting, no vote, no veto.

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J

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:50

Can we go it alone? Yes we can, but would like to hear it from exporters.

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Robert Court

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:56

J

Good point; would be nice if we once had that thing I remember we once had a long. long time ago - a trade surplus!

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David booth

Dec 09, 2011 at 15:59

I keep waking up thinking I can hear the sound of jackboots marching across Europe again. I see Angela and her french poodle telling countries who will be their new governemnt, put your proposed budget into the E.C.B. (aka The Bundesbank) for prior approval. I thought the EU was supposed to be democratic, and the original french intention was that it would keep German in check!!

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Paul 2

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:01

The UK rolling over on the Lisbon Treaty may now come back to haunt us. Even the French put up a better fight.

How many parliamentarians have clean hands on this?

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Robert Court

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:01

The Sin.ick!

There is public hostility to the EU amongst many EU countries.

There is the possibility of the rise in European nationalism; that's led to two world wars already.

Don't think that EU hostility is unique amongst the British; I know people from almost every EU country that are not happy with the state of affairs.

The eurozone could come tumbling down and cause a HUGE recession not seen since the end of WW2.

When the shit hits the fan and people start to go really hungry they like to find somebody to blame; normally a minority within their country or a whole other nation.

Read the hatred expressed in these posts to both France and Germany if you don't believe me - and imagine the hatred some Greeks must feel now that their cosy dream has been destroyed.

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Nick-

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:04

Leaving the Union will break up UK. Scotland will declare independence as they can not stand the Eaton boys leading and dictating. Scotland will join the Euro block, if Euro survives.

They will look at Ireland which only 20 years ago it was a backwater with low wages, etc and now their standard of living is above ours. Their success, of course, is based on joining the Euro while our Sterling is depreciated 20% against a currency which is on its deathbed.

If we do decide to leave what will happen to the exchange rate? Let me remind you in 1962 £=DM was 13DM, but in 1992 it was only 2.

Every politician task is, including The Bank of England management to ensure the country they serve is thriving over and above its neighbours and I do not believe we can achieve that by leaving.

We need strong, clever, skillful and charismatic leadership to argue our corner successfully not from outside, but with inside to achieve our goal.

It is no use talking about the past, those times gone, We must be realistic, we must ensuret that we have a wining mentality to achieve our prosperity down the line and winching, thinking of a glass half empty will not accomplish that.

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Potus

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:07

I have decided not to read all the previous offerings for some reasons. However, that we cannot do without the EU is my submission !

Now lets look at the possibility of the following models / implications....

1. 26 / 27 decided to give the new proposal a go, as its looking at the moment.

2. France is becoming increasingly a BIG player, and right behind the German Lady - He will put EVERYTHING into fueling the decimation of the powers / influence Great Britain has within the Union. This is the chance for France to call off British bluffs! France will STOP at nothing to achieve this feat !

3. Where do we go from here as the effect of "Yes Members" WILL definitely out do the "Nay" of DC.

4. Can we afford to be thrown out of the Union ?

5. I do not see DC tactics making headway - Bulldozing Tactics, that is.

6. COMPROMISE will be thrown into the equation, and more than likely Britain, I am afraid will come out....Weaker...

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Keith Snell

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:15

I still believe as far as the market is concerned wait & see the detail agreements beteen the 17 if indeed they can thrash one out, It is quite pointless looking for leadership from any of our political parties there is no-one of sufficient standing.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 16:25

Nor Keith understanding from the media!

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Barry1936

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:00

I fully supported the EEC when I thought it was a trade organisation, but never never never the EU. When we joined Europe, we gave up our prestigious place in the world, especially the Commonwealth; a place that brought us enormous trade benefits. But can we turn the clock back? Have we lost the preeminence that we had with the rest of the world. who have now turned to different markets? Will France & Germany want to trade with us when have spat on their boots? I have done a lot of business with both countries and found that having the best product at a competeive price cuts no ice with their nationalistic culture; they would rather buy 'home grown' regardless.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:13

"We were offered a treaty that didn't have proper safeguards for Britain. I decided it was not right to sign that treaty … I decided not to sign that treaty". So said David Cameron today.

Well actually, there wasn't a treaty on the table. It is inconceivable that there could have been a treaty. In fact, the EU colleagues have not even begun the process of drafting it – there was nothing there to sign. This is Walter Mitty territory. The man is inhabiting a fantasy world, one that does not exist.

Strangely though, no one in the media – all those thousands of clever people – have thought to ask for a copy of this treaty. After all, if there was a treaty on the table, then we ought to be able to see it, to see what PM has so bravely saved us from.

"What, precisely, has the Prime Minister effectivly vetoed? There is no treaty.

What mamny people, including a few on this forum are confused about is that the euro leaders placed a statment on the EU council web site - that dear market 'experts' is not a treaty!

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Rickie Doherty

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:14

if the uk stays or goes will depend on money. simples

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Paul Gould

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:24

We were the second biggest net contributor to the EU budget in 2007 and France was fourth after Netherlands. This is insane. Can we have our country back now. Don't worry about Germany wanting to trade with us, look at all the trade they do with us selling ships and trains, not to mention all the cars. They can't afford to cut us off so what have we got to lose?

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chazza

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:43

Some folk here misremember history. The EEC was always an economic means to a political end: European integration. The UK knew that when it joined, and we knew that when we voted to stay in. It is also a myth that the UK abandoned the Commonwealth 'that brought us enormous trade benefits'. Imperial preference enabled the UK to export inferior manufactured goods to the Commonwealth until the improving quality of Japanese products eroded UK markets and produced the implosion of UK industry. Australia already saw itself as a Pacific economy and had already begun to reorient its trading relations toward Japan and other Pacific states even before UK joined the EEC, which Australia actually encouraged the UK to join (that didn't stop them bleating later about the decline in their agricultural exports to the UK, but that's a different matter..). There is not a snowball's chance in hell of the UK recreating the Commonwealth as an economic community serving UK interests.

Maybe there is an alternative life for the UK as a second tier member of the Nordic Union (minus Denmark), but despite its current difficulties, the EU will be the main determinant of our fates for a long time to come. It is surely better to be inside making the rules than outside and subject to them anyway.

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Potus

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:47

Peter Troy ...Dec 09, 2011 at 17:13

All thanks for STANDING OUT...and above us all !!!

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chazza

Dec 09, 2011 at 17:48

Paul Gould: 'the second biggest net contributor to the EU budget in 2007'. Of course it was - the UK was then the second largest economy in the EU. And of course the Germans will still be keen to sell to us. Just don't expect to want buy anything in return. Least of all financial services...

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Anonymous 4 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 09, 2011 at 18:25

If the UK leaves the EU hopefully there will be some sort of arrangement, (as there was with members of the Church of England who didn't want to accept female clergy and preferred to switch to the Roman Catholic church) that those of us who would prefer to continue living inside the EU will be offered fast track nationality from one of the other EU countries.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 18:25

What is beginning to emerge after a long day of hype and spin is a picture of Cameron so desperate to placate his "eurosceptic right" that he is now inventing his own scenarios to fit their expectations. Needing to deliver something to placate his monsters, The PM has to resort to a fairy tale, having nothing else to offer.

For The Boy had actually to have vetoed a treaty, he would of course have needed two things - an actual treaty and the framework of an Inter-governmental Conference (IGC) within which to exercise it. One wonders, therefore, why he did not insist on an IGC being convened, an issue that his EU colleagues could hardly have sidestepped; theirs was the professed desire to have one.

Turning this round, if the majority of members of the EU Council had demanded an IGC, Cameron could not have blocked one. This is decided by majority vote, with no veto, as Thatcher found to her cost. The fact that one has not been called - with the content of a treaty held in abeyance until the first meeting - rather suggests that the " EU colleagues" did not want one at this time.

This may not be irrational. The formal EU treaty process is tortuous, uncertain and lengthy, and would almost certainly trigger referendums in a number of countries, such as Denmark and Ireland. By kicking the idea of an EU treaty into touch - which is the only thing Cameron has achieved - he may have done the "colleagues" a favour. That may indeed have been what they were angling for, the opposition of the UK being the one thing certain to unite otherwise diffident member states.

In a world where nothing is what it seems, Cameron may have walked into a trap, eyes wide shut. But then, he's got what he wanted - the adulation of the Tory right who are foolish enough to believe that he has achieved anything, while the " EU colleagues" can get on with writing their treaty for real, without being hectored by Cameron looking for media attention.

The actual treaty when it comes will be without the formal declaration of a 27-nation IGC, the process is actually immune from a veto, as Cameron has already shot his bolt; though that will be at least 12 months in the future in a Europe with out the single currency.

What is depressingly clear from recent events is that not only does ‘the market’ not understand modern day politics neither do the national media, maximus desperandum!

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David Chapman

Dec 09, 2011 at 18:35

Assuming a trading deal can be organised we should leave - the sooner the better - and spend the EU "subs" on our own projects and declare a national 200 mile fishing limit while we are about it !!!

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Anthony Tinslay

Dec 09, 2011 at 18:41

Amazing that this subject has attracted so much comment and even more than the usual 'Blame the Bankers' nonsence. Also that almost all comment support our dear PM Cameron whereas previously he was the buttt of so much adverse criticism.

Leaves the Lib Dems in a quandry and the left wing in an even worse mess as they can hardly credibly condemn the PM for looking after Britain's interests

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an elder one

Dec 09, 2011 at 18:52

There is some frightful waffle here on this topic, in the domain of global trade poiticians have little to do with free trade between all nations; if they do try to impose sanctions on each other, I believe those are called tariffs or somesuch. Quite what the question of being in or out of the EU means is unclear; as I understand it, the EU is a device intended to enable optimal free trade within Europe - as defined by its membership; Turkey not included at the moment - alone, based on the notions of a level playing field; in this matter it has lost its way through German/French political interference - via Brussels - in the detail. The piece of it that needs killing off for everyones sake is the Euro and much of the interfering baggage heaped on by Brussels; the trouble is that that has become an extremely fraught operation to contemplate which may leave the patient in a very delicate condition needing a long convalescence. Once that has been done however, I see no reason why normal profitable trade should not continue in a more normal world.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:00

Anthony what site are you reading? I can find very little support for Cameron and my comments are not exactly pro the PM. Cameron is not a eurosceptic more a europlastic!

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peter a

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:08

Well done Cameron for supporting Britain. Your stance echoes the views of the greater majority of our population who believe that the EU has got too big for its boots, and should be restricted to a free trade zone. The EU should stick to ruling that water does not hydrate!!

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electrocash

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:19

People of my generation voted to join the 'common market'. Had the EEC remained simply a common market, enabling everyone to trade freely etc. countries would have enjoyed all the benefits of union without being subject to burdensome expensive beauracracy. We have been paying ever increasing contributions to an organisation that squanders the proceeds on the latest political in-theme with little or no control , few checks and balances or transparent auditing in place. Do we need all the excessive legislation that the EEC imposes on us, stifling our industries and paying obscene amounts of money to autocratic, mainly non-elected and utterly useless beauracrats?

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an elder one

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:27

Furthermore, I thought that competition was regarded as an advantageous component of trade for the benefit of the people, so to take an instance why should France/Germany - the EU comes down to this - complain of the Irish employment of lower corporation taxation; if they find that to their disadvantage, why don't they follow suit. The EU seems to me basically corrupt in current concept and was from outset; rather like some huge denied cartel.

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Peter Troy

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:30

That Peter A is what the PM wants you to think, it is not the truth read more deeply into the issue, it will help your understanding. Also try this slowly,

there is/was no treaty, Cameron did not effectivly or other wise veto anything on Friday. There was nothing to veto it is all spin.

Electrocash the plan was the the EEC would always become the EU as it now is. We the people of Britain were deceived.

I have to say that an obsrvation of so called market experts - as observed by comments on this forum and other comments in investment sites - is that the deception by politicians re the EU has been fully taken on board by the financial industry. I am amazed, you people should know bettter.

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Alan Tonks

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:33

I voted against going into the common market, so I would like someone brave enough to get us out.

This unfortunately will not be Mr Cameroon, he hasn't the guts to go against Mrs German and Mr Frenchy and Mr Clogg.

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multiscan

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:36

We are not european, and yet totally unable to leave the E U. Today was grand charade time. There was never any way that this debacle of a meeting would have had any other outcome than Cameron doing his bit for the British Flag. The whole situation has been stagemanaged to save egg on the face of everyone, and an attempt take the focus from the German and French financial system. Both are in the mire big time. They need the rest of Europe more than we need them. This Cartel is is an alliance of non competitive countries who have lived by borrowing from the rest of the world. The rest of the world is now giving them a reality check. Europe is weak old and financially irresponsible and is now owned lock stock and barrel by the Chinese and the good old USofA..

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john dolder

Dec 09, 2011 at 19:45

We have battled against the Germans in 2 WWs and won, we must NOT now be dictated to by the German and French so called Europe.Time to stand on our own and not risk the dictatorship of Europe ( 99% Germany with French hanging on to their shirt tails)

In a few months time watch the Euro crash and burn when the markets catch up with them and they can't bail out Greece , Spain and the rest.

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an elder one

Dec 09, 2011 at 20:37

How we found ourselves in the EU is irrelevant now, the fact that General De Gaulle didn't want us in at inception and that personage of utter conceit Mr Edward Heath took us into it, highlights its dubious beginings for the UK. The problem now is to find the best way to get out of the mess and as has been observed here, the Markets are on to it, whatever we and the Media may chat amongst ourselves.

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Hilary hames

Dec 09, 2011 at 20:54

Peter Troy

Thank you I am impressed at your grasp of the legal detail. I struggle to keep up with this stuff and its difficulty when most of what is being said by both experts and the media is not at all clear.

To progress what do the 26 countries do next as an actual 'process' to enshrine their fiscal pact into European law? It has to become a treaty through an IGC so that it can use the Commission and the European Courts for enforcement? But they cannot turn it into a treaty becassue Cameron has a veto? I am so muddled but would like to understand the legal process better, if you have the time.....

Also, I can understand why Poland, for example,might want to join the fiscal pact becuase they want to be in the Euro some day but not all the other 8 possible countries outside the euro want to join do they?

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chazza

Dec 09, 2011 at 21:12

Hilary,

'all the other 8 possible countries outside the euro', with the exception of Denmark, are committed to adopting the euro as a condition of their admission to the EU (of them, only Denmark joined before that condition applied). It is just a question of when...

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William Phillips

Dec 09, 2011 at 21:42

The EUSSR is doomed, but its fat-cat bureaucrats and power-mad politicians will fight tooth and nail to patch it up and stagger on. They will fail, but it will probably take all of ten years to convert all or some of its 27 member nations into partners in a free trade area, which is all the British ever voted to join in the first place.

Ten years leaves us plenty of time to disengage from the most tyrannous, wasteful and futile sections of this shambles without rocking the financial boat during the transition-- as long as CallMeDave accepts that there is now an overwhelming, settled and irresistible desire among most Britons not to be citizens of an 'ever closer union,' or the one they have already been lumbered with because of the pusillanimity of his predecessor PMs (not excluding Mrs Thatcher, btw.)

The test for Cameron will be to abandon his anxiety to appease the Notting Hill/metrosexual/social liberal/Grauniad-reading classes who have exchanged the failed delusions of socialism for EU-mania... and start doing what 70% of real voters prefer.

Today the BBC's coverage of the veto was well down to its usual federastic standards, presenting the UK as terribly 'isolated' (yeah, from a bloody awful mess) as if one of the largest economies in the world could not cope unless we were forever in bed with France and Germany. Tell that to Norway, Switzerland, Canada or Singapore.

The BBC is a big bureaucracy which adores the Brussels one, and a featherbedded one which worships welfare states and hates 'cuts'; but some of us know a cold wind is blowing from the East, and the debt-sodden delusions of Merkozy are no answer to that challenge.

Alarmist voices should be laughed to scorn. It is time for the UK to rediscover how splendid 'isolation' can be, when the alternative is letting a bunch of unaccountable technocrats bleed us white so Mediterranean deadbeats can dodge the consequences of their blithe greed a little longer.

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insider

Dec 09, 2011 at 22:24

Great day for the UK, lets set sail for business in Africa and the Commonwealth, £$%@@ Europe

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Andrew Cleverley

Dec 09, 2011 at 22:26

The screeching hysterical tone of this forum would be laughable if you guys were not The Markets. Talk of fat cats in Europe is a joke from you unaccountable bankers and city-wallahs - you know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Even the Union Jacks you wave are made in China.

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snoekie

Dec 09, 2011 at 22:56

an elder one, "especially with the French Poodle on leash", Love it, but how true.

Now when the farmers lose their CAP and the French Eu20 b, the French will finish the job wit their strikes etc, Vichy..........

When we leave, there will be a big hole in their budget that the others will have to fill, and they will not want to and probably won't so, to quote Der Spiegel "Bye Bye seat polishers".

When the sh*te hits the fan it is going to be all our fault, even though, despite all the evidence, the lemmings are charging full pelt over the edge into the abyss, and the sausage dog is going to be on life support, again, because yet another failure to succeed at dominating its neighbours.

As for France, with the loss of its CAP benefits, and its over indulgence, just watch the Greek style riots. All the fault of the widget, without the sparkle. Duplicitous frog!

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an elder one

Dec 09, 2011 at 22:57

Andrew, that's a strange reaction, have you just woken up and crawled out of a tent (probably made in China too) somewhere! by fat cats et al, do you mean us? Would that it were true for my part.

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Ian W

Dec 09, 2011 at 23:00

@ Peter Troy

Your highly informative comments have confirmed my suspicion that "Call me Dave" has been well and truly ensnared in a Merkozy trap.

The trap being to trumpet the fact they wanted EU Treaty changes to put through their plans but never actually wanting that because of the time and complexity, not to mention referenda in several countries, that treaty change entails. Include and maintain proposals that the UK would find unacceptable, despite an arch-europhile like Clegg describing UK objections as modest, allow Dave to threaten the veto if the proposals were not altered and, of course, no IGC or draft treaty to veto.

Dave gets credit from his backbenchers, the UK stands alone looking isolated, and the German/French plan goes through by non-treaty means to be thrashed out in the corridors of power in Brussels. Machiavellian master stroke!!

Dave should have played a longer game, if he were a Eurosceptic which of course he isn't, and allowed the proposals to be drafted into a treaty and put that to the UK electorate in a referendum as it moves powers from Westminster to the EU.

Should we leave the EU, of course we should. Our national finances are shot but so are the rest of Europe.

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Chartered Accountant

Dec 09, 2011 at 23:38

I personally believe we should leave the EU but to establish whether or not, we should have our promised referendum. One benefit of leaving that does not seem to have been mentioned by other correspondents might be that we could take control again of our coastal waters and perhaps even re-establish our dying fishing fleets.

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AlJolson

Dec 10, 2011 at 00:05

Thank goodness David Cameron has stood up to these losers.

They wanted a transaction tax, do we not already have one on every stock /share purchase of .5%! Hardly any other country has stamp duty on shares, if you buy a UK share as an ADR in the US no stamp duty is charged.

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snoekie

Dec 10, 2011 at 00:06

Perfidious Francois will put the final nails in the coffin.

As always, he ain't being honest about French exposure and they are so different from their Hun neighbours the split will soon show. They belong to and are as indebted as Club Med, and clinging to the apron strings of and hiding behind the skirt of der 'Angel' (a flawed one at that). Otherwise they would have been toast by now. But der Angel has her own problem, because when the bankrupt perfidious Francois defaults, das Deutches are in deep doo doo, with massive loans that are now virtually worthless.

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Paul Gould

Dec 10, 2011 at 00:09

Peter Troy "there is/was no treaty, Cameron did not effectivly or other wise veto anything on Friday. There was nothing to veto it is all spin."

Are you a lawyer, does it need to be spelt out in triplicate before you cotton on to what was happening. They were meeting to reach a heads of agreement leading to treaty negotiations, do you think our PM should have waited until the signing ceremony? We have been right royally stitched up by Sarkozy who has made no secret of his animosity to any UK politician who stands up for our national interest. The French politicians do stand up for theirs and should be admired for it. Why don't you give our politicians credit for doing the same, What would you have done in his place?

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Robert Court

Dec 10, 2011 at 00:14

Democracy has its limitations; I'd say that was once ordinary people do not feel even indirectly part of the decision making process.

I'd like to see a more united world with several large trading blocs, but I don't feel we are advanced enough in our communication/diplomatic skills yet to properly cope with a united front with more than five or six countries; ask a US citizen to name all 50 states of the USA and many might struggle - ask the everage EU citizen to name all the countries in the EU and most of us will get stuck after about a dozen or so.

Back to basics before we can again go forwards.

What unites us?

That could be a good starting point.

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Peter Troy

Dec 10, 2011 at 00:24

Hilary thank you for your comments.

My understanding is based upon 20 years plus of lecturing, campaigning, presenting public discussions and writing about EU issues. My knowledge is based upon an understanding of the political process rather than the law.

This is not I feel a pedantic point since the non- understanding of the politics is at the bases of the confusion of many senior people in the finance industry. Pointing out such short comings in knowledge has I am proud to state produced criticism from what I regard as a number of over paid egos who fail to grasp the political detail that has encroached into their exclusive world.

You ask: “But they cannot turn it into a treaty because Cameron has a veto?” There is no veto in this situation; though that is not the issue.

Perhaps one needs to ask oneself not whether Cameron has handled this European Council well, but whether his EU colleague made the best of it.

A piece in the Daily Telegraph today takes the view that they have displayed "remarkable petulance and stupidity", with the leaders of France and Germany having "more or less bulldozed Britain out of the European Union" for the sake of a "flim-flam treaty" that offers absolutely no solution to the euro crisis at hand, nor indeed any future crisis.

Looking it events from that perspective, it is hard to disagree. As can be actually seen with the lead-in to other treaties, there was no need even for the European Council to discuss the detail of treaty issues. It is not their role to do so and the members, as constituted, have no power or authority to negotiate EU treaties.

In what is one of the arcane but important details relating to EU affairs – which the media insist on ignoring – there are two bodies involved in a treaty negotiation.

Confusingly, each body can comprise exactly the same people – the heads of state of government of the European Union member states – but in their various capacities, they have very different powers, responsibilities, with their status changing according to the role, when it comes to amending treaties.

In the first instance, we have the European Council, but its role, under Article 47 of the Lisbon Treaty, is to define the terms of reference for a "conference of representatives of the government", i.e., an intergovernmental conference (IGC). It is that body which then amends the treaty. The president of the Council – Van Rompuy – convenes the IGC, which in the first instance comprises exactly the same people who make up the European Council.

However, while the European Council is an institution of the European Union, charged with furthering the aims and objectives of the Union, the IGC – in theory at least – comprises independent representatives of the member states acting in their national interest.

Now, as far as I am able to ascertain, there was no attempt to decide on the terms of reference for the IGC, and nor is Van Rompuy recorded as seeking to convene and IGC. There is simply no mention of either in the Council Conclusions.

Crucially, the point here is that both decisions, if contested, are settled by majority vote. There is no veto, so Cameron could not have stopped the Council settling the terms of reference, nor the president convening the IGC. Thus, that there is to be no attempt (in the short-term) to amend the EU treaties, via the IGC, was the result of a decision made by the "colleagues", not the result of any action taken by Cameron.

In short, therefore, there is to be no attempt to amend the EU treaty because the "colleagues" did not want to pursue this route. It was their decision, and theirs alone, a decision which was not amenable to a veto. A veto could only have applied once the IGC came formally to approve a final text of a treaty amendment, whence any member state can exercise one.

Without the formal text under consideration, within the framework of an IGC, it has to be emphasised that there can be no veto.

The question thus remains as to what Cameron did veto, if he did indeed veto anything. There are several possibilities, but my current favourite is that he was presented with a draft statement similar in content to that eventually published by the eurozone heads, only cast in the name of the entire European Council.

One must remember here that, in European affairs, Cameron is a novice, In the European Council, without access to his advisors, it is possible that he mistook this draft declaration for a treaty proposal which he was being asked to approve and, on refusing to endorse it, mistakenly confused his own action for a veto.

In other words, while Cameron was not presented with the text of a treaty – because one did not exist – was not working within an IGC because one had not been convened and could not veto anything, in his ignorance he mistook his own actions for something they were not.

From this, it emerges that, had they so desired, the "colleagues" could have gone ahead with an IGC, challenging Cameron to veto at some later date the end result. Presumably, they chose not to take the risk.

Alternatively, it is not outside the bounds of possibility that they exploited Cameron's action to legitimise that which they wanted to do anyway – to side-step the EU treaty amendment process. In this latter case, it has to be said that the "colleagues" retained the initiative, and an unwitting Cameron, far from calling the shots, has been used.

As it stands, Cameron is not in control, but then neither is there any evidence that his "colleagues" are any better placed. In that uncertain situation, any rejoicing by eurosceptics is premature and may even be misplaced. Events are too hard to read, and the outcome of recent events too obscure.

What should be addressed is that 'market' experts need a far better understanding of matters EU. Whilst many on this site follow macro and micro details of the world of finance the same rules do not apply to politics. Trust and optimism are not sensible options.

peter.troy@the-publicist.co.uk

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Alan's opinion via mobile

Dec 10, 2011 at 01:45

A very well written piece Peter. You clearly know your subject and effectively convey that knowledge in clear and concise language - well done!

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Mark22

Dec 10, 2011 at 02:16

Reading the early comments to this post, I felt in a minority, with the comments all "lets get out and see what happens". However, some of the llarer comments seemed more reasoned. In my opinion, if we left, the trade barriers between ourselves and our major exporting partners (France and Germany) would be raised (probably illegally but it would take years to prove it), the car manufacturers would have to leave and as a country we would plunge even further into debt with no way of recovery in the medium term. From the inside we should play our cards as they are dealt manipulating the internal fears between the major players to our advantage.

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Gordon H.

Dec 10, 2011 at 10:11

leave the EU immediately. Go back to the Commonwealth with cap in hand, if they will have us?

Join the North American(Renamed Atlantic) Free Trade Organisation - It is a bigger market, a more affluent market, and all they want to do is trade!

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Nimrod

Dec 10, 2011 at 10:34

We run a very large trade deficit with Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Poland etc., but it's not all bad news; we have a trade surplus with the Irish Republic!

Our fellow EU members will only extend this privilege of importing all their goods by insisting we pay billions into the EU coffers for them to squander at will.

Seems like a good deal to me, or am I missing something????????????????

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Stephanie Dewar

Dec 10, 2011 at 11:05

I keep hearing the phrase '2 speed Europe'. Europe and the new Eurosuperstate is already bogged down by the interminable rules and regulations of hide-bound bureaucracy. This can only get worse and worse as most of the Mediterranean countries have little in the way exportable product (financial or physica), but huge state departments..They, of course ignore most of the red tape (unlike ourselves) and live via a black economy. Germany, with France, for all their bluster are now at the head of the slowest moving economy in the industrialised world, with massive, practically unrepayable debts.We have had a 2 speed Europe for many years.

Ever seen a large BMW towing an equally large caravan on the motorway? We used to do just that when our girls were young. My husband, bit of a speedo, would fume while little roadsters and worse - White Van Man! - sped by in The Fast Lane

If Britain opts out of that huge 'bloc'-an- tackle, cuts out the red tape to enable businesses to thrive and to compete on the World market, then it will be Britain moving to the fast lane, not the Eurosuperstate.

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Stephanie Dewar

Dec 10, 2011 at 11:10

re William Phillips

Well said!

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miss katie via mobile

Dec 10, 2011 at 12:13

If the UK leaves the EU I will be leaving it to live in Europe.

Many many people in Britain view Europe with such huge suspicion without really understanding it and also seem to be under the illusion that Britain is still a serious world power.

The fact is that European integration is the start of a new nation. It's going to have some growing pains yes, but it will ultimately give the member states political parity with the U.S, and emerging powers like China, India, and Brazil.

Yes loss of sovereignty will occur and continue to occur in time for the member states (as with ghetto formation of the U.S) but they will, together be all the stronger for it.

I see in euroskeptics a lot of national pride. A pride that clouds their judgement as to just how small and weak Britain is in a world of emerging superpowers. But perhaps when our political influence, ever decreasing military might, and credibility as a world power begin to undermine our position worldwide, they will look back and realise we had a chance to be a part of a new superpower, but our own arrogance and ignorance left us out in the cold.

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Mike1

Dec 10, 2011 at 12:56

Sadly this conflict looks more and more like a Franco-German assault on the UK position in the EU. The Franco-German axis are clearly in a strong position at the moment in Europe after the humbling of Italy and Spain in particular and the veiled financial threats to the smaller countries. The UK has long been an obstacle to greater control over Europe's destiny and what better time to strike than now. Was the die cast at the Marseilles meeting?

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 13:09

No Miss Katie, some of us in Britain do understand nature of our relationship with the rest of Europe - for Europe read France/Germany and its egos - and no, some of us have been around long enough to fully aware that we no longer rule an empire; that matter is irrelevant. Don't dismiss sovereignty and pride in ones nation as a trivial form of xenophobia, it matters to people that they can feel at ease and satisfied within a culture that has been acquired and defended over the centuries of its development and existence; in the present European political conflicts, the same is true also for France in particular; Germany has learnt the harder way.

One constantly reads of the vague promises offered by European integration, but one has never seen it evaluated in any meaningful terms, why have recourse to membership of a notional superpower (Europe has thus far given no indication of an ability to achieve such) In any case the existence of conceived superpowers each armed to the teeth is not a very reassuring vision and is something we have all been trying to put aside by the setting up of a free global market of trade conducted in amity and proper consideration of freedom for individual humanity.

No, the problem we face in Europe today is the familiar clash of political egos which Britain has been forced to face over the centuries; the rules of the game have evolved and changed, but human nature basically hasn't.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 13:41

Furthermore Miss Katie don't dismiss Britain as an also ran in the global partnerships, it has a growing population and a ready market for the world's goods; wealth derived from trade is the prime mover in the way of the world. So long as we can produce what the rest of the world wants - let us hope we can develop our industries - then it doesn't matter if we are of a so-called superpower or not; though through our asociation with the EU it would appear that our partners are doing their best to undermine that objective.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 14:22

A final observation; in any arrangement of people, whatever the entity - tribe, nation, or superpower - it embraces a pecking order of higher and lower orders in its genes; in the case of Europe one can guess the outcome of its national egos; France for one, it has been observed, would like to rule the roost of a smaller union of states than the present 27, 17, missing one or two, perhaps; with Germany looking on like a benevolent rich uncle who knows where the treasure sits; Britain, as has been observed, was never wanted in the make up.

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Peter Troy

Dec 10, 2011 at 14:30

Thank you for your comment Alan.

For the record I am opposed to the UK’s membership of the EU; however I learnt many years ago that one can be more effective in opposition if one fully understands the ‘beast’. Ask any hunter the best of them know their prey in all its guises.

In recent months too many market commentators have suddenly think they have become experts in EU politics, few of whom in reality actually apparently understand either the structures or the history of the EU. One particular Asset Manager stubbornly ignored the emails I sent trying to help him out explaining the constitutional function of the Council of Europe, which is in actuality a part of the government of our country, thus blowing his credibility over the channel. Knowing what one does not know is vital in my experience

Reflective of the non-understanding of European politics on a massive scale is the child like reaction to political events by the ‘markets’. Indexes go up when there is apparent hope of “sorting out” the euro crisis and down a few days later when the hype is shown to have no substance. It is a mystery to me how such apparently sophisticated thinkers – giving market dealers and managers the benefit of the doubt – can be taken in by such superficiality. Perhaps it is political ignorance blended with wishful thinking.

In the case of Cameron’s so called veto it is important to understand that the PM’s primary objective at this time is to placate the right wing of his party and neutralise the UKIP vote; both being the key reason that his party did not win an outright victory at the last election. Few appreciate that the workings of the EU structures that have vital importance in all our lives.

Whilst putting my head about the proverbial parapet I have come under attack from all sides. Being opionated, a characteristic of which I am proud, often disturbs people who dislike being upset in their corporate environments. The world is changing and being a cog in a big business environment no longer earns automatic deference. Many people tend to be dismissive of the need for precision in the use of political terminology, a trait I find difficult to comprehend amongst those that are paid huge remuneration for being analytical with the funds of others.

In the context of events in Brussels at the end of last week if people were aware of the differences between an IGC and a European Council, and understood that the veto only had an application in the former, Cameron would never have been allowed to get away with his deception and much of the tosh currently in the newspapers today simply would not have been written.

Corporate Fund Managers, in all their verity of job titles, commenting in future weeks would be well advised to understand how the EU actually works rather than rely –as many do – on propaganda sheets from agencies of the EU.

I would be pleased to help: peter.troy@the-publicist.co.uk – I am proud to be opionated!

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Avery Yorns

Dec 10, 2011 at 14:55

Yes you should ...

Bugger off..

You had your chance.

Standing on the sidelines , in the EU for the bits you can profit from , leaving the bits you don't like out ? Wanting special treatment for this and that .. Not joining the single currency..

You are actually debating in what ways you can even profit more in these hard times instead of focusing on how to help the EU countries that are in a more dire situation?

Standing on the side line going "... oo you don't want to do it like that , you want to do it like this .."

You treat EU policy like a restaurant menu .

In for a penny , in for a pound ?? .. yea .. right ...

Seriously , we don't want your kind over here any more .. You have shown your true colours these last few years..

quote "What do you think: can we go it alone?" .. Asking yourselves this question is arrogance and _luxury_ .. If it was up to me , and a lot of people who think like me , remaining in the EU would no longer be on the table.

Who the hell do you think you are..

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ThisIsMe

Dec 10, 2011 at 15:44

The Germans and French and the unelected over p[aid officials have been shown up in their true colours - they want to destroy our country. We need to get out now.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 17:10

Peter Troy, a close interest in the legal constitution and treaties is an interesting academic study of which finance managers with other aspects of life's endeavours to occupy them may be hugely ignorant; nevertheless they are expected to operate within the rules and will be more concerned with the effects of those rules than their reason for being. I'm not in finance, just a humble engineer ret.d but would observe that the the markets are moved by sentiment, the actions of EU governance and declared intentions rather than various legal interpretations of treaties. Whatever the ignorance in that latter respect, the market will do what it will do and that is of enormous influence in current events.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 17:28

Post script:- that is, treaties existing and conjectured

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Stephanie Dewar

Dec 10, 2011 at 17:44

Avery yorns -

you've benefitted from our cash over the years. Don't be too hasty to want rid of us.

You may need our cash again.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 19:05

Avery Yorns, your nationality escapes me but what do the rest of you think you are about, the French and Germans want the lot, not odds and sods, Britain has been trying to find any sense for staying in at all, to help you lot work your way out of the diabolical mess you've gotten yourselves into with your fatuous Euro experiment, and have simply asked for small concessions, to make it worthwhile for ourselves to stay. Please get a sense of proportion in this negotiation. We all want the matter to be resolved amicably for everyones sake, but all this dither by the French/German axis is shredding nerves.

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an elder one

Dec 10, 2011 at 19:11

And, Avery Yorns, one suspects that that axis is being much less than honest in their representations to the rest of the EU crowd.

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clarkkent

Dec 10, 2011 at 21:48

I would like to leave the EU. Scrap the right to a family life before every criminal uses it as a get out of jail free card and every foriegn criminal becomes un-deportable, make everybody speak English, make our would be nurses undergo rigorous tests (prevented by the EU at present) including an English exam before being offered a job. Reduce the welfare state to subsistance level and from January 2013, restrict child benefit to four children so that we don't get families with eleven children recieving £50k per year in benefits, If you want a big family, make sure you can afford it. Cut the red tape imposed on British busineses by the EU. Cut the "Jobsworths" in the UK taking EU regulations to the Nth degree. Let the EU pay the Kinnock family's huge wage and expenses bill and let the EU parliament alternate between Brussels and Strasbourg as many times as it likes because neither would cost us a penny any more!

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Nimrod

Dec 10, 2011 at 22:48

As edifying as all this rhetoric must be, the bottom line is the numbers do not stack up. Why should we pay the EU for the privilege of running a trade deficit. Whose jobs are we protecting the Germans, French et al??

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Alan's opinion via mobile

Dec 11, 2011 at 01:12

There is no doubt in my mind that the EU would bleed us dry of funds if we let them. We have effectively been mugged for years now by them as a result of weak managers of our economy.

Running a trade deficit with most of Europe and giving them billions of cash assistance on top every year - boy they must think we are all stupid over here! No, the whole country's not stupid, only our Europhile, self-serving political leaders.

The EU have dropped themselves in the poo by their profligate and corrupt habits and now the party's over and they need to dig themselves out of it.

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 08:43

We're doing so much better than some countries in Europe, aren't we?

GDP increase latests figures on a year ago:

Britain: +0.5%

Euro area: +1.4%

France: +1.6%

Germany: +2.5%

Italy: +0.8%

Netherlands: +1.1%

Spain: +0.8%

Hungary: +3.8%

Poland: +4.2%

Sweden: +4.6%

We're bottom of this particular list; strange how Italy and Spain's economies are growing faster than Britain's, isn't it?

The hysterical jingoistic rhetoric in some of these posts isn't pleasant and we should be a little calmer and use more real facts.

Massive corruption in the EU? I'm sure there is, but let's have some facts.

How do we reduce corruption everywhere rather than just use it as an excuse not to be involved?

Margaret Thatcher fought our corner and won concessions; opting out isn't winning a fight - it's just taking the easy option of walking away.

I wish the UK had indeed joined the euro and I wish that LONDON and not paris or Frankfurt was the financial centre of Europe; that's impossible if we're totally negative and incapable of fighting our corner with some diplomatic clout.

What happened to our relationship to the new (very pro USA) former East European countries? Are we so incapable of creating allies within the EU to get some of the things we want?

Hasn't English taken over in Brussels from French as the main language used by the majority of EU members?

Have we nothing to be proud of these days in influencing EU policy?

Why are we always on the outside complaining instead of getting stuck in and making things better?

We seem to accept that we are now a third rate country but wish to punch above our weight ad infinitum.

The fact is that we are one of the top four economies in the EU; why can't we make a positive contribution?

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Cape Town

Dec 11, 2011 at 09:41

It is not a good place to be in, true, but would be much worse if we had acceded and perhaps as the journalist here suggests, we can do a Singapore.

Can anyone really imagine the UK signing up to budgetary oversight from the unelected EU Commission in Brussels? The Latins, I can understand, as they are desperate for some good governance and more transfusion from the Protestant north.

The point of the compact of the 26 is to save the Euro. Their agreement to not require haircuts would leave all the debt to be paid off by European taxpayers instead. (Haircuts would be on French and German banks, better sacrifice the electorate first.) UK never fully joining in, the hope was to fleece the UK too - first the tax on financial transacions, of which 50% of the revenue it is estimated would have come from the UK; and secondly by taking the business itself to Frankfurt and Paris, depriving UK of potentially 25% of its GDP and its investment expertise (they can have our bankers! but not our investment community of experts).

The Euro is doomed anyway - school boy maths shows that the debt of the members cannot be repaid, that northern or IMF bailout money will run out long before the southern economies become efficient enough to generate growth and the means to pay off their debt. In any case, Germany has said no to printing and bailouts and fiscal transfers.

And without Europe's third economy on board (second largest contributor to EU budget incidentally) , there is even less chance of saving the Euro. The political will to save the euro is very very high, absolutely agree, but the reality is otherways.

I put this compact down largely to the Germans seeing the possibility to take charge (not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are a democrat) and the nasty, vindictive personality of Mr Sarkozy (a twisted personality if ever there was one). Cameron's failing was in not seeing this ambush and preparing the world's media of the dirty work of these two that was to lie ahead.

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Bill Pardew

Dec 11, 2011 at 09:50

Whilst I am no expert in the ins and outs of the EU, I watched with interest a program on Sky News last night, in one corner was an anti EU man and in the other was a Pro EU woman.

When the anti EU man was asked what the possible consequences of us leaving would be he gave a well presented case that it would not harm us. A few points he made were the fact that we have a trade deficit with the EU and a trade surplus with non EU countries. He also said that Switzerland still traded with the EU on a large scale.

Then came the pro EU woman to put her case forward, I waited with anticipation because I was genuinely interested to here what's in it for us. Unfortunately she didn't answer the question but instead steered the debate onto Nick Cleggs comment in the Independent.

So I can only assume that the pro EU woman didn't know what is in it for us and are only pro EU for the ....... well , I don't know. I would love them to explain because I want to know.

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colin grant

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:06

Avery Yorns rant has just reminded me, if I needed it, why we should get out now.He has just expressed what the other leaders think but dont say because they have been milking us for years to finance their profligacy and corruption. These people trying desperately to climb onto the Titanic amaze me. We will have a stronger position over these countries who export more into our country than we do to theirs. In any case the way things are going with the Euro, there shortly wont be any Europe to stay in.

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Martin Drew

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:07

I thought Nick Clegg got it right on the Andrew Marr Show. This wasn't an outcome that is good for the country but David Cameron's political position was impossible and this whole discussion will be seen as totally irrelevant if the Eurozone falls apart. The old headline "fog in channel, Europe cut off" sums up the little Englander attitude of much of the press comment. The 26 are the big story, not the 1.

Has anyone else noticed that all the most rabid Eurosceptic MPs are failures? Can't even make it in Westminster, no wonder they are scared of playing on the big European stage.

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William Bishop

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:10

Trying to cut through the blah, the British problem has always been that most of us would have quite liked to be part of a European free trade area without politically integrationist accretions. Unfortunately, because most Continental European political leadership has had a quasi-ideological commitment to promoting a united Europe, this has never been on offer. We could now fortuitously end up in that position, albeit having very little influence on how the club is run, and this might even be a reasonable trade off in the circumstances. Leaving the EU altogether might not put us in an impossible situation either, although I would be concerned that a lot of direct investment into the UK from outside the EU has been predicated on our membership, possibly even eventually of a common currency, and this might well dry up.

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Anonymous 5 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:29

The dust is settling and we can see a few things more clearly and can be more positive about the future.

We are not interested in giving up more independance, but yes we are up for trade partnerships.

We will rather face isolation than abandon key values or principal assets (the investment analysts, lawyers etc of the City)

We believe the euro is doomed and see no point in joining a project trying to save it.

Our energies and our treasure should go towards realising a phoenix project suitable for our geographic, skill and financial assets.

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Cliffman007

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:29

Adolf Hitler tried and failed! 'Mercosy' has tried without firing a shot and with the greatest of thanks to David, without the support of those wishy washy Liberal Democrats, has seen them off! Keep up the good work David the vast majority of people in this country are right behind you.

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colin grant

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:30

To M Drew, Clegg is completely irrelevent as his views change by the minute.

He will say what he thinks people want to hear at all times without the slightest intention of sticking to any of his own views. All Eurosceptics are failures? What a meaningless statement. So all Europhobes are successes are they? I dont think so. Its not rocket science to understand the following:

1. We buy more from Europe than they do from us.Therefore they need us more than we need them.

2. We give them more money than they give us. Therefore they need us more than we need them.

3. They keep generating stupid laws telling us how to run our lives, and damaging our way of life. Therefore we definitely dont need them.

Look for example at UKIPS aims. They are shared by, in my humble opinion, 90% of the British population. Prepare for change.

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Keith Snell

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:37

The idea that we could have retained our commenwealth trade links is historically incorrect, our major exports were primarily manufactured goods, The likes of New Zealand and Australia were mainly importing british vehicles and other manufactured goods, the Japanese manufactured far better vehicles whilst we buried our heads in the sand. The fact is that what is left of UK manufacturing is much better in terms of quality than it was but sectors of manufacturing are heavily tied up with Europe such as Aircraft and Space. These companies have a lot of their future invested in Europe. The UK government should now concentrate its efforts on ensuring those links with the EU are properly and outwardly supported by the Government. We need a country with a great deal less than public spending than we currently have [over 50%] The contributions to the EU budgetr are already far greater than they should be, supporting the Euro should not paid for by us. Surely that was the reason brehind the Governments well intentioned disagreement with the remainder of the EU. It is quite disgracefull that the UK should contrubute more than France. Time will tell but that British piublic support the current move by the PM is overwhelmingly the case. We are after all supposed to be a democratic country.

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Graham D-C

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:43

Judas Clegg and his behind the scenes so called 'grandees', will have to go. To that end, the next General Eelection cannot come soon enough; its outcome will be the most important since Margaret Thatcher ousted Labour in 1979, IF Britain is to survive as an independent economic and politcal power , the voters wil need to return the Tories with an outright majority in 2015. Hopefully, before then, the increasing failings of the eurozone will convince the voters that Cameron and his party have and are continuing to protect their interests against the political enemies within and across the English Channel. Make no mistake, the worse the crisis in the eurozone becomes , rather than accept the blame, the more the faceless unelected wonders who have brought it all about, will attempt to point the finger of blame at Cameron. That said, the voters in Germany will have the last word, if they reject Merkel, it wil mark the beginning of the end of the euro and the EU in its present form. With there being little sign of a genuine ability to solve the debt crisis it is likely that Greece will be forced to leave and revert to the Drachma,whilst Italy faces a similar fate if it fails to reduce its budget adequately in order to borrow money at a sustainable long term rate.

Those who claim that Cameron's decision will harm British exports should remember that most of our iimports come from the eurozone, so it cuts both ways. In addition, when the Brits have their backs to the wall they are invariably at their fighting best.

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Keith Simmonds

Dec 11, 2011 at 10:47

Until the EU financial accounts have been audited and signed off Britain should suspend all payments. If my company is more than a few months late filing accounts the penalties imposed are harsh. Once again, one rule for us and another for the bureaucrats.

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:11

From an official EU site:

"What is meant by ‘economic integration’?

Generally, economic and monetary union is an advanced step in the process of economic integration. The degrees of economic integration can be divided into six steps:

1.) Preferential trading area (with reduced customs tariffs between certain countries)

2.) Free trade area (with no internal tariffs on some or all goods between the participating countries)

3.) Customs union (with the same external customs tariffs for third countries and a common trade policy)

4.) Single market (with common product regulations and free movement of goods, capital, labour and services)

5.) Economic and monetary union (a single market with a common currency and monetary policy)

6.) Complete economic integration (all the above plus harmonised fiscal and other economic policies). "

It seems we in the UK signed up to 1.) to 6.) [even with our opt outs in the short term]; most seem mostly happy with stages 1.) to 4.) but are very, very scared of 5.) and 6.)

There's no harm in being scared - just acting like some scared animal backed into a corner isn't the way forward!

The E.U. is the biggest trading bloc in the world (even if made up of old and dying countries in comparison with the dynamism of the developing world) and we are part of it.

Whyt not do our best to fight for a reasonable standard of living for most Europeans before our world is totally taken over by more vibrant economies that are far more corrupt and care far less for their citizens than we in Europe do?

It is NOT true that the UK doesn't need the EU or vice versa; we all need each other and it's time we really get involved in the decision making process from a positive and not always an apparently negative point of view.

I'm as prejudist as anybody else; I just prefer and trust some of our neighbours more than I'd trust doing business with some countries more far afield.

In the UK we ARE European; historically, politically and mostly genetically.

Continental Europeans are not some alien race, for God's sake!

The problems otherEuropeans have with debt are closer to home than we like to think; our own debt is also ultimately unsustainable so we are no better off even if we'd like to think so.

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:19

I'd probably go as far as saying that the maximum most people would like out of the EU are only the first two of the six I wrote of in my last post:

1.) Preferential trading area (with reduced customs tariffs between certain countries)

2.) Free trade area (with no internal tariffs on some or all goods between the participating countries)

Nobody seems to have liked the full on single market where regulations to ensure minimum quality standards on almost everything screwed up our desire for cheap stuff of dubious quality and with zero regard for anything to do with health and safety regulations (prefering 'common sense' and an acceptable death and disability percentage rate amongst ignorant workers).

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SMS

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:26

I don't know if leaving the EU would be good for Britain and I don’t seem to be as well informed by some of the posts. What I do know any costs involved will be born by those with the least well off, as witnessed by today’s cuts because that’s were the greatest potential for revenue collection is. Will leaving make us a more an even society and be for the good, well being and prosperity of the British people? What I know is the push to leave is mainly by the Tory right wing most of whom went to ground prior to the election.

Most comments are based on looking back when Britain was a global power, but the World as moved on. Today we are a small but sometimes influential player in the global village and a member of a large trading block the EU. These large trading blocks (EU, China and the USA) will become even more influential and impose there requirements on those who wish to do business with them regardless. Today’s posts today have started a debate but let’s have one based on reality, impartiality and proven facts.

We are not exactly blessed by the best and most progressive captains of industry, commerce and politicians. Hence some of the most successful companies are foreign owned, Jaguar/Rover, Mini, Nissan and most of our utilities also insurance companies and the list goes on, will they be happy to remain outside the EU?

If we get this wrong, what then? Think about it!

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Dislexic Landlord

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:50

116 comments wow

I would think views from citywire bloggers are not stuppid In fact I would think that most are switched on top financial matters but most agree we should be out of this club

I feel so stronlgly that we dont need Europe and all the stuppid rules and regs that follow us around

this is a golden oppertunity to get out now

WE would be a lot better off we could trade with who we want where we what and put the great back into britan

Switzerland is doing very well and we have a lot more going for us than them

just think of what Britan could be

MR Camaron do the right thing have a vote now

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m r

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:51

No. Calm down. Relax.

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william parry

Dec 11, 2011 at 11:59

The EU is a second tower of babel. It should have remained a trading

association and let evolution take its course instead of the mad incherent scramble it has become. Britain should get out until the rest come to their

senses !

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an elder one

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:05

SMS, its not the captains of industry that destroyed the British motor industry, but the workers themselves, largely; labour abroad tends to be a lot cheaper. I don't think the captains are to criticised so much as the environment they forced to operate - apart from labour costs, that is.

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Thomas A

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:17

The UK has benefited greatly from its nearly 40 years membership of the EC/EU. We played a major role in the creation of the Single Market and have been influential in the Brussels bureacracy. There is much that needs improvement and we should remain there playing our normally constructive part. The Euro is in crisis and it may or may not survive. It would be better for us to remain involved so as to have some influence if it does collapse as such a collapse will bring an even worse recession to this country than we are about to face.

We should understand that the PM took the decision he did for political and not economic/financial reasons. Defending the City of London (however important) was merely the pretext. He was and is trying to avoid civil war and the the breakup of his party.

I despair for the future of the UK if the xenophobic comments of many of the postings that have appeared above are representative of the wider population.

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chazza

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:25

an elder one: 'its not the captains of industry that destroyed the British motor industry, but the workers themselves'.

I beg to differ: it was poor design, antiquated manufacturing processes (due to under-investment) and poor quality control that did for the UK's indigenous motor industry. Doubtless, workers' poor morale contributed. In 1973 I tried to buy an MGB. When I remarked on the poor fit of the body panels and the small dents and blemishes, the salesman said, with supreme indifference, 'that's how they come'. When in 1985, I tried to buy a Range Rover to export for my use oveerseas, I was told I couldn't because that would cut out the overseas (wholly owned) distributor. Needless to say, Mercedes Uk had no such objections, so I bought one of those! Hard to blame anyone but the 'captains' for all that!

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chazza

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:32

Robert Court - Dec 11, 2011 at 11:19 - "the maximum most people would like out of the EU are 1.) Preferential trading area (with reduced customs tariffs between certain countries), and 2.) Free trade area (with no internal tariffs on some or all goods between the participating countries). Nobody seems to have liked the full on single market where regulations to ensure minimum quality standards on almost everything "

But to have free trade in a preferential trading area, without that becoming a race to the bottom with the lowest standards of one becoming the norm for all, you MUST have common standards for everything from product quality standards (ISO etc), pollution controls and working conditions. People too easily forget how much the EU has driven up standards in all these areas.

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Graham D-C

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:33

Robert ,

Fortunately the UK colossal debt incurred by two successive Labour's PM , one being the ultimate egotist Blair who got us into two wars with the Americans in exchange for a standing ovation on Capitol Hill , the other who sold the UK gold reserves @ $250 oz and plundered the taxpayers savings and dividends to buy the votes of the workshy , aided and abetted by his financial novices Ed Balls and Miliband at the Treasury, falls to the Tories to reduce and eliminate in order to save us from a fate similar to that currently facing most if not all eurozone countries.

Our only hope of salvation lies in the crucial ability of the government to set its own interest rates and budgets, without reference to the 17 eurozone members, or indeed the other 26 EU members. Overall, we have a greater common indentity with the U.S.A, than we coud ever have with most European countries(although I would consider Poland, Norway and Holland as historically strong allies), some of whom we have fought against(more than once) since 1066. Did DeGaulle give a fig for Europe's security when France left NATO, did the French give a fig when they burnt our lamb exports and blocked their ports? Has France done anything to stop the massing of illegal immigrants at Calais where their sole intent is to get into the UK. The Spanish have issued thousands of illegal immigrants landing in the Canaries from West Africa, with work permits which they can subsequently use to get work in the UK. The ideas of the British having strong ties with Europeans is just as false as as similar claims between nationals within the EU. Anyone who doubts that need only ask the French, the Dutch, the Poles,the Czechs(need I go on) vis a vis Germany, then the Germans about the Greeks, Spanish and Italians!, etc..

In the greater scheme of things, each democratically elected government is charged with the number one responsibility of protecting its peope and their property from enemies within and without. A responsibility that only the Conservative Party and its supporters take seriously.

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Cape Town

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:47

What are all these regulations coming out of Brussels that people in this conversation object to? Can anyone identify any of these miscreant regulations?

What I would not like is oversight of the budget and no control of monetary policy if in the euro. There is almost nobody alive in the UK today who would welcome this now.

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Cape Town

Dec 11, 2011 at 12:51

In terms of strategy, hats off to the Germans.

They could see very well that UK would be an alternative centre of power and the tax on financial transactions was a great ruse as it would be check and mate either way - accept it and be ruined, refuse it and be excluded.

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Cynical Investor2

Dec 11, 2011 at 13:16

We were persuaded to join the 'Common Market' on the basis our manufacturered goods would enjoy a large tarrif free market....manufacturing in the UK has all but disappeared and replaced with Financial Services which it now seems EU want to control.

The debate these last few weeks has all been about sustaining a currency which is in terminal collapse and now those States who had the wisdom or good fortune to remain outside the Euro are being 'headbanged' into signing away Sovereign Rights, that will be their Funeral!! A conglomerate of hugely unequal partners will never work becuase individual States' will always seek to either ignore or bend the interpretation of Treaty's to suit the demands or needs of their respective Peoples' To some it comes back to Historic Cultural Attitudes which are engrained and virtually impossible to change..

The UK has been pushed into a corner and even though the Exit route is clear, we do need to ensure alignment with other Trading Partners is secured before the inevitable and irrevocable decision is enacted.

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SMS

Dec 11, 2011 at 13:24

To the elder one - Come off it. The unions have very little power both the last Tory and Labour governments made sure of that. Regardless most working people don't belong to a trade union. So who are these workers who have awarded themselves high wages with the consent of their employers.

Only in the news recently we were informed that workers in the private industry have not received wage increases for years. In addition to that GB is considered a low wage economy.

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Wade Allsopp

Dec 11, 2011 at 13:50

Looks like a triumph of French diplomacy. I'm not sure that the financial services opt outs really were a big deal for Merkozy given that the British "veto" gave the UK an opt out of these in any case. A 26 member IGC looks way more "doable" than a 27 member Treaty change through which the UK could act as a focus for skeptics and which might involve a little too much democratic input from various populations. It remains to be seen whether being in the EU but outside the "26" is a sensible place to be compared with being in EFTA and the EEA with the likes of Switzerland and Norway which gives the free trade links with the EU that most Britains seem in favour of.

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Peter Troy

Dec 11, 2011 at 13:58

Never in the field of human conflict have so many been misinformed by so few.

There is no treaty there was no veto as I keep commenting. The singular point is that the events in Brussels last week will not make the slightest bit of difference to the survival (or otherwise) of the euro.

This is no more or less than any number of observers have been saying, making the whole charade of the European Council meeting nothing more than displacement activity which is bereft of ideas and unwilling to take the measures which will stabilise the single currency. The euro is dead, the EU is dying.

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mikeran

Dec 11, 2011 at 13:58

Cynical Investor 2-- you are right the UK was pushed into a corner, either agree to the proposals designed to take back by taxation on the Financial sector. Or disagree and be out voted by the other 26 with less to lose. The intentions of France and Germany and the benefits to both parties were there to be seen.

But you may have thought that the immediate problem was resolving the debt crisis in the Eurozone. -- Well it still is, after this smokescreen has cleared.

The answer to instilling democracy within is less clear.

But had the proposals been on a reform of the Common Agricultural system payments, well NON and Nien spring to mind.

This Euro thing and its Politics have still a while to run, and non of it looks like benefitting its citizens.

I almost hope that the debt crisis events overtake the Eurozone forcing a painful result for all, otherwise we in the UK will continue to suffer European Politics, bureaucracy and incompetence.. As an addition I am not sure whether the UK coalition is any longer a viable force. -Perhaps an election is called for.

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peter kuhl

Dec 11, 2011 at 14:20

This is scary.

All of you that think this is a rerun of WW2,should remember. the USSR won the war not us. This British obsession with insulting people and re-fighting Wars of 70 and 100 years ago must be puzzling to 95% of French and Gemans who werent even born then and dont see why you hate them today.

Today if you are wanting to fight Europe you would need conscription, and that could hardly be done in secret, as at the moment with cuts and our size,we are that weak in manpower and equiplment, we were chased out of southern Iraq and cant beat the Afghans,If you are thinking of using the nuclear threat.,remember France also has nucleur weapons.

Can we not leave the EU on good terms ,instead of threats and insults .

Amazingly those that show the most hatred end their diatribes with saying when we leave we can still trade with EU.Seems crazy ,on the one hand you give out the message you want to be friends and and trade after we leave and on the other hand insult those very people with talk of them being Nazis and French cowards whom you want to teach a lesson . If the roles were reversed and all we got from EU was talk of fighting ,insults ,or the Germans going on about chasing us out Tobruk or France or Crete or Norway and then those same people asked if we fancied a bit of trade, bet out of pride most of you would say not on your life ,even if it means we lose out.

Do you think Europeans are not aware of what we write in the press about what we think about them and what we want to happen to them.

Lastly, I am a business man with two children and the last thing ,unlike some of you lot ,that I want is for the Euro to collapse,it would be a disaster for all of us. Except for the bankers amongst you ,who never gave, or will give,a s--t about the rest of us.

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Paul Wilkinson

Dec 11, 2011 at 14:43

How can any Politician worry about the European Union ..? it is totally corrupt, Accounts steeped in secrecy (for YEARS) ....we have saved Europe before, physically and cannot save it now....it is bankrupt, the Euro will collapse and the Union will disintegrate ......if the illegal, corrupt Union had NOT been formed, then individual Countries would have their own problems to solve.... (surely much easier).....rather than the Huge European Union problem we have today causing the massive World financial uncertainties..............

THE MONEY IS NOT THERE to solve the problem, so why worry about staying in when it won't be there in the future and I believe we are still contributing a sum of £47 million a day.....absolutely crazy...!!!!!

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 14:43

Most contributors seem to have now written off both the euro and the EU.

I hope both the euro and the EU survive.

Nothing has yet happened to give the euro stability and the only way it can survive is with ENFORCABLE rules to the individual countries' budgets and debts; this is NOT a bad thing and even the UK could do with a little restraint on spending way in excess of what its earning (even with present cutbacks our debt is going to grow for several years to come).

Our exports are less to the rest of the EU than our exports?

Replace 'EU' with 'the rest of the world'.

We have had a trade defecit for many years now without a single trade surplus, so who will we blame once we nolonger have the EU to blame?

Surely not ourselves?

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Chris G

Dec 11, 2011 at 14:59

To those who say we cannot survive on the edge of (and outside) a huge trading bloc, I say Rubbish! Look no further than Hong Kong, a much smaller place than the UK, yet not only surving but thriving on the edge of a huge monolithic bloc for absolutely ages, before giving up its freedom.

I also suggest that true democracy no more exists in the EU structure than it does in China, vis-a-vis Hong Kong. The only elected people are the MEP's, but they don't have the power; the Commission does! And they are not elected.

Remember back a few years when Austria elected a right-wing government, and the EU said the government was not acceptable to the EU, and it fell. How can anyone call that democracy?

Remember also that it is not allowed under the EU constitution for member states to have anti-EU policies. That is not democratic either.

The EU is progressively turning itself into a new USSR, a union of states or countries controlled by the centre, which is not democratic, and where you are only allowed to have political policies which support the unelected controlling power base at the centre.

Get us out completely before it is too late, and let us make ourselves as prosperous as Hong Kong. With the City providing 10% of our GDP already, we've got an enormous headstart.

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Martin Drew

Dec 11, 2011 at 15:08

Well said Peter Kuhl

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Truffle Hunter

Dec 11, 2011 at 15:38

The Summit achieved little..we are surely best out this club. Here is David Kostin of Goldman Sachs :

"We expect the situation to worsen before it gets better with market pressure necessary for progress. EU Summit demonstrates progress but lacked “regime change.” Overall, policymakers are making progress and signaled a commitment to address the twin sovereign and banking system crises. However, lack of clarity on the IMF’s role and no clear change in the ECB’s activities in sovereign debt markets will likely leave some investors disappointed." Which is precisely what we have been claiming for weeks - that unlike the other banks who are preaching rosy outlooks out of sheer terror for what a European crash would mean for them, Goldman is hoping it comes quickly, so that ostensibly several big banks can blow up, and the ECB steps in forceefully but not before Goldman's extended web of control in political Europe allows it to step into the void and become a major market presence on the continent."

Remember who is really in charge! All this debate is just posturing. The markets will sniff out the weaknesses and remind the political class that they are all useless jackasses. The markets win whatever the politicians do; sometimes it takes a decade or so to pan out. eg the more they regulate the employment market, the fewer the jobs in this part of the world as companies minimize the use of high price labour etc etc The politicians think a few days ahead at a time. Real businesses think 5 or 10 years ahead.

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SMS

Dec 11, 2011 at 15:39

I fully agree with Peter Kuhl, Well Said

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Graham D-C

Dec 11, 2011 at 17:44

Peter Kuhl

Admittedly I have yet to read all the posts, but I suspect none have suggested that the UK should go to war against France. That does not mean that Europeans have no sense of history and that they should forgive and forget the enormity of the atrocities committed by Germany against most Europen countries. in WW2. Only the dead have the right to do that. Had it not been for the United States and the UK supplying arms and vital intelligence via Bletchley Park, Russia might well have succumbed to the German onslaught. No country who sacrifices the lives of 20m people can claim to have won a war.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were perpetrated by the most stupid and ignorant of all presidents in America's history. G W Bush, new nothing of those two countries history, to the point he thought all Arabs in Iraq were of the same religious following. Perhaps even worse, he was a puppet of America's industrial giants whose agenda was to seize Iraq's oil assets whilst boosting theire profits by doing what they know best= making machines for waging wars. Despite America's disasterous defeat in Vietnam nothing changed. until the arrival of Obama. The UK was duped by Bush and Blair into going to war against Iraq and Afghanistan, whilst ill prepared ,undermanned and ill equipped. The UK could never have hoped to influence the outcome of the war in Iraq, where America has also suffered a humiliating defeat, just as they both will in Afghanistan. No doubt Obama will be blamed for the Afghanistan being lost on his watch.The British were beaten by the Afghans and so were 250,0000 Russian soldiers fighting on their southern border with scant regard for human rights and the Geneva Convention.

If you think the psyche of the French and Germans ( if not others) is one of good will to all mankind, then you clearly have no sense of history. Certainly the older generation of Germans are still entrenched in their loyalty to their country,and believe in their hearts that had Hitler left the war to his generals we would now be living under the Third Reich. The French dislike the Germans for defeating them 3 times in the last hundred and fifty years. The French dislike the Brits because they think De Gaulle was not treated as an equal in WW2. Lets also not forget the infamous insistence by De Gaulle that all American troops should leave France and Lyndon Johnsons response -does that include the 70,000 Ameircan soldiers lying in their graves on French soil.

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Georgebundle

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:00

Ladies and Gentlemen, Having read the comments above, a number of facts have hit me in the face.

1. No-one in the UK has ever read the Treaty of Rome, the founding document of the EEC, now the EU. This document was clearly visualizing the creation of the United States of Europe, an idea put forward by Winston Churchill.

2. The UK joined the EEC because De Gaulle vetoed it.

3. No-one in the UK has ever considered the stability of the euro if sterling was inside the euro zone. For one thing, no euro-zone country, including the UK, would have run up suicidal levels of sovereign debt as the UK tends to stick to rules and would not have tolerated the blatant disregard of the 3% limit to structural deficits in any country's budget.

4. The UK jealously clings to its rights to dilute the value of sterling by printing money ever time the government cannot finance the programmes they were elected on.

5. To blame Germany for not allowing the dilution of the value of the euro and expecting stupid elected politicians to lie in a bed they made is simply vacuous. They created an economy that works and produces their own requirement. They saved and took advantage of the economic circumstance of the world. Any country could have done that if their profligate elected politicians chose to do so. It is not Germany that caused the near collapse of the euro. If all countries in the euro zone lived within their means there would not be a crisis and there would not be a need for Germany or any other country to insist on a fiscal union. The USA is not in the euro zone but they are in the same crisis caused by idiotic spending and the consequent sovereign debt.

6. The role of the ECB is not to bail out geverments but to provide liquidity to European banks.

Please stop levitating in misinformation and misconception and learn of the facts before you pen to paper.

Regards,

G.

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Brian Langdon

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:01

Like others, I voted for a Common Market, but we were not conned into it by Heath - it was all there in the Treaty of Rome if only we had had the nouse, time and inclination to read it., and we have since had to live with the consequencies.

The full outcome, both political and financial, we shall have to wait for and endure; it's far too early to see, let alone say, what is going to happen.

At least, if Uncle Sam has its Tea Party we can now claim to have a Dinner Party .....

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:03

Graham D-C

I doubt the Americans would want to lose more lives helping sort out even more ungrateful Europeans yet again; however, even more reason not to allow Europe to fragment itself into lots of little states and allow nationalism in its worst form to again cause more wars.

It's not just the Arab Spring turning into a winter of miscontent that we need to be concerned about. There is the beginning of rumbles of discontent in Russia and the world remains, as always, an unstable place.

It would be nice if western europe aka the EU was a little more stable than some parts of the world where stability is an almost alien concept except when under dictatorships.

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:17

Georgebundle

Good post

Brian Langdon

I had no idea what The treaty of Rome entailed until I studied 'Politics of the EEC' as an optional course while reading for a degree in American Management Science.

I was shocked by my own lack of general knowledge on the subject and also fascinated by the history of moves towards European Union going back as far as trying to kick out the Ottoman Empire which reached the gates of Vienna (so having Turkey as a member of the EU seems a bit farcical, but that's another topic).

I later studied in Denmark and was lectured to (amongst others) by the grand-daughter of Baden-Powell (the founder of the scouts) who was an expert on European Law.

Continental Europeans really do not understand what all the fuss is about when we complain; as you said 'ever and ever closer union' is what we signed up for and the logical outcome is, as you write, a United States of Europe.

It's not some deception; it's written clearly in black and white.

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Mike1

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:19

Peter Kuhl you state

"Amazingly those that show the most hatred end their diatribes with saying when we leave we can still trade with EU.Seems crazy ,on the one hand you give out the message you want to be friends and and trade after we leave and on the other hand insult those very people with talk of them being Nazis and French cowards whom you want to teach a lesson"

Where has this come from? I've read a fair number of these posts and I've seen nothing like this! Is this your interpretation of what people who don't want to sign a new treaty are like compared with those who do?

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Nick-

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:22

@ Georgebundle.

Completely accurate; spot-on!

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Cape Town

Dec 11, 2011 at 18:57

No-one wants the euro to collapse or the Europe to fail. Of course not. that route lies total chaos.

Unfortunately, despite the very strong wishes of everyone, that is what is going to happen.

We need to put effort into preparing for this. I don't mean trainig the police in better kettling and use of tasers. I mean in root and branch change, refont of our basic strategies, thorough exmination of out strengths (in finance, pharma, what manufacturing). We need to stop throwing money at these banks and the EU and focus all our resrouces on rebuilding the economy to suit the new world that will rapidly be upon us.

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colin macdermott

Dec 11, 2011 at 19:13

Well said Colin Grant the" Euros " have had us over for years and we being fair gold plated all that was given to us to our detriment --remember the abbotoir debacle et al , i don't see much changing unless the Jerries and the frogs become really childish cos we didn't do their bidding.

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gordon gray

Dec 11, 2011 at 20:27

What I cannot understand is why you brits were daft enough to allow heath to con you into membership of the eu. Clearly Norway and Switzerland who are not members but trade with the eu have no great problematic issues so why therefore the big fuss if the UK pulls out? It can still trade with the eu and remember that the UK is a very large customer for eu goods so the eurofacists would not want to disturb that relationship. Sure it means you need a passport again to travel there, so what! I would trade that any day to keep my country,s sovereignty.

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an elder one

Dec 11, 2011 at 20:29

SMS, I don't know how old you are, but it is possible that the British motor industry was being destroyed before you were born. I'm not referring to now but the 50s; I worked in the motor industry from training starting late 40s on to retirement early 90s and saw the actions of the unions at first hand. I'm not suggesting that was all of it - there were other influencies at play and other industries were similarly affected - but it was a very very significant factor; the unions began to learn their lessons under Thatcher and things may be better now, but the damage was already done and finance has now taken top spot. No, I'm simply saying the so-called captains are not stupid, maybe they fell behind the curve in older industries but the tools they had to work with and the environment to work in was not at all helpful; also Britain did not suffer the same destruction of industry and political division that Germany had which gave them the stimulus to start anew with a clean slate as it were; in short Britain was stuck with old kit that still worked and no one would pay to replace it at the time. That was a long time ago, but its legacy is still with us.

Incidently having scanned over some of the appalling later posts here, some commentators have become clearly over excited; I shall bow out.

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twopeeps

Dec 11, 2011 at 21:36

My sentiments entirely, Drogue. Lets get out and build up our nation again.

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Truffle Hunter

Dec 11, 2011 at 21:44

Here is one economist who knows his stuff and calls it as it is -- Listen to this "Dissolve the EU"!

http://www.investmentpostcards.com/2011/12/10/dissolve-the-eu-says-marc-faber/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wordpress%2FVYxj+%28Investment+Postcards+from+Cape+Town%29

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 22:06

Truffle Hunter

It seems Marc Faber seems to agree with me re. that the 3% and 60% ceilings were unenforcable PLUS he believes that dual currencies could exist in some euro countries (something I suggested in a forum here and got ZERO response).

THERE IS ZERO POINT IN HAVING RULES THAT CANNOT BE ENFORCED AND EVEN GERMANY FAILED TO KEEP TO THE RULES FOR ABOUT THREE YEARS WHEN GERMANY FELT IT EXPEDIENT TO IGNORE THE EUROZONE RULES RE. BUDGET DEFICITS AND TOTAL DEBT.

I'd also like some countries to default on their debt so that the losses can be taken on the nose and markets could move forward again.

Sooner or later ALL the crazy debt we have in the USA, UK and eurozone is going to come home to roost and we'll all have to suffer or have a grand default party before being able to move forward again.

Faber slightly contradicted himself in that he felt the break-up of the EU would be a good thing but also believed that everybody would print money willy nilly in 2012. (i.e. the eurozone will copy the USA and the UK with 'quantative easing' whatever they like to call it).

I also agree with Faber that 2012 shall continue to see extreme volatility.

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Robert Court

Dec 11, 2011 at 22:10

PLUS, with all this quantative easing, there is NO WAY inflation is going to go down; I see inflation rising to an official rate of 10% to 20% and staying there for several years until the majority of debt is inflated away!

As usual, those who have saved for their retirements will be hit the worst (unless they are part of the lucky small percentage who have really good inflation proof pensions who get more than need to live on without any need for capital).

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 00:35

Those who criticise British industry should bear in mind that investment in new kit needs money and after WW2 for quite some period of time the UK was skint having spent all their treasure in defending democracy and being forced to pay off their debts, in particular those arising from aid LENT by the USA; and under a labour Government in the immediate aftermath we still had rationing. On the other hand the USA were doing their bit to help Germany out of the ashes and we also did a bit in the form of air lifts to keep Berlin open for example. However, this is another theme that could go on, and I don't pretend to have the full knowledge to pursue it in any case.

Having said that I do admire the German approach to engineering training - which better focussed than here, leading to their more exacting standards of production. Quality is not something that is dictated by the captain but is imbued in the crew as a whole through their education.

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 00:44

post script:- to achieve best quality in the products of industry relies ultimately on national endeavour.

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snoekie

Dec 12, 2011 at 00:46

Many have been making quite valid comments.

I have just finished watching Inside story: Storyville and have a slightly better understanding of what some bwankers were doing.

The fact that govts have almost resolutely failed to prosecute many of them because of their breach of duty of care and fraud is criminal in itself and those self same govts are still taking on the criminals to advise is quite incredible and criminal in itself.

Yes banks are important, but prosecutions would be a stark warning against similar acts. Much like the expenses frauds, one or two scape goats and the MPs are back at it again.=

As for Cameron and the meeting where Merkrazy tried to ambush him, good for him, and let us hope that when the next meeting takes place he doesn't cave in. Hitherto the slightest knock has resulted in his 'metal' shattering.

Yes, it will be tough, but we need out from under the jackboots of France and Germany and their conspiracy to control.

Regrettably, what is clear decisions are being made in cabal and then presented as fait accompli. Unfortunately, the decisions do not really address the problem, merely kicking the can down the road a bit more, and by now the can is so distorted that there are miskicks, getting more and more frequent so that soon it will be very difficult to make proper contact and to direct the direction of the can. That is where the market will take over and the politicians totally lose control. That will ever be the way to any crisis and their solution will be to deny the electorate a say and allow them to take more and more draconian powers to cope with the crisis of their making.

A short step to taking out dissenters and shooting without due process, or indeed anyone else who does not agree totally with what they are doing, which will make the Arab spring look like child's play. Dramatic, not really, they are starting down that road, depriving whole countries of a say, and encouraging the politicians to ignore the sentiments of the people.

Next will be the number of babies (even sex) we can have.

Just how far away is the position that we will have 4 seat polishers watching each individuals every move. At this rate, not all that far in the future. An Orwellian future.

Miss katie, you will not like what they are going to do, and the cost of it.

I voted for in years ago, but I did not foresee the machiavellan plots and screwing, yes screwing of Britain that has taken place.

On balance, better out. We will still trade with Europe, they need us. perhaps more than they will admit.

The question now is who is going to blink first?

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Cape Town

Dec 12, 2011 at 07:10

What is needed is serious effort and money being put into a future for the UK after the euro. And it is urgent to stop wasting money on lost causes and serious consideration needs to be given to ways around certain of the bank debt as it is ridiculous to continue in support mode to the sins of the past, when our very future and survival is threathened. Bankers may act the prima donna, but they are about as irreplaceable as hairdressers.

As to the good news, from the FT this morning, government plans to repatriate off-shored operations. I consider this to be a significant policy move. Also, support for aerospace component makers - a highly profitable industry of the future...Good Vince Cable.

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Graham D-C

Dec 12, 2011 at 07:48

Albeit a forlorn hope, what is really needed is for all three party leaders to put the UK first, instead of their own skins and party ideology. 'If Pygmy' Clegg is so deeply disappointed with Cameron's decision, then instead of playing to his backbenchers and the faceles 'grandees', he should have the courage of his suposedly own convictions and stand down as Deputy Leader. Better still, he should withdraw his party's support from the coalition government and force a General Election. Of course he won't because he knows the electorate will consign this Judas together with his party, to the political wilderness.

The FSA report out today will directly implicate Ed Balls and the Labour

Government for their gross failings during the RBS takeover of AMBRO. The evidence will add to the overall picture of incompetence of Brown, Balls and Miliband whilst at the Treasury. The next time Miliband holds out his upturned hand(in the fake image of Jesus Christ) during PMQ time,Cameron has all the ammunition he needs to justify giving it a good caning.

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ThisIsMe

Dec 12, 2011 at 08:16

The best decision one of our prime ministers has made in 50 years. Even better would be just to leave the Evil Empire.

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Graham Barlow

Dec 12, 2011 at 10:17

The whole thing is a conspiracy between Merkel and Sarkozy to swing the responsibility and the underwriting of Euro Bonds across the rest of Europe including as much as they can wring out of the UK, . Britain is currently the biggest net contributor to the EU, and their plan is to get even more to prop up their currency debacle. They are using this to blame others for their own monumental miscalculation and subsequent failure to come up with a meaningful solution . The corruption within the Euro zone is on a mega scale with vast amounts of our money going to the Mafia in Italy, . Spain has endemic corruption all over the place as anyone with property there will confirm. In Greece old ladies who happen to own a house are now paying two thirds of their pension in Property Tax. I could go on with the whole monumental mess. Suffice to say Cameron and the Government are totally right to veto this charade cobbled up by Sarkozy to save his own skin, and Merkels reelection of the German Heroine who saved Germany from a fate worse than death, using their resources to prop up the currency and the crooks of Europe. Britain is well out of it, all we need is a free trade area like Switzerland.

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Peter Troy

Dec 12, 2011 at 10:32

Graham Barlow – yes quite right except that there was no veto, there is no treaty (please se my previous postings) and the UK is still very much in involved in the mess that is the EU. Yes we would be better off out, thought we need to apply ourselves as the how we get out and what we want when out.

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Robert Court

Dec 12, 2011 at 10:53

How much did some individual countries contribute to the EU in 2010?

Germany - 23.7 billion euro

France - 20.3 billion euro

Italy - 16.2 billion euro

UK - 13.2 billion euro

The CAP takes a lot less of the budget these days (about 46% compared with 80% a decade ago) but France still gets the lion's share - last figures I saw France got something like 22%, Germany 14% and the UK 9% (mind you we have 9% of the total EU arable land so not too bad).

Who are the net contributors for 2010?

Germany - 8.1 billion euro

France - 4.7 billion euro

Italy - 4.1 billion euro

Netherlands - 2.0 billion euro

Belgium - 1.5 billion euro

UK - 1.5 billion euro

Food for thought?

We are NOT the biggest gross contributor, nor the biggest net contributor and are way down the list as far as on a per capita basis with Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, Slovenia and Germany leading the way!

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Robert Court

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:01

typing error above:

UK net contributions 2010 were 1.4 billion euro (behind Belgium's 1.5 billion), but what's 100 million euro worth these days? (not a lot).

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chazza

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:03

Mind you, Robert, that won't stop the Europhobes from repeating the big lie in the desperate hope that if they repeat it often enough, people will believe it...

Rather like the one that the present austerity regime is the inevitable response to Labour's overspending on welfare, schools and the NHS (and not the bailout of the banks which the Tories would have done in any case)....

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Graham Barlow

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:03

I agree with you, but how do we silence the bleatings of the Europhiles who are all in denial, even now. What has to happen to make them see sense? Just look at Greece and Italy , if you let the Bureaucrats from Brussels even get a foot in the door in Britain we will be enslaved for ever. I am waiting for Greece to explode with what is going on in the name of austerity, vast tracks of taxation are totally unjust, but that does not matter to Sarkozy and Merkel, as long as they are in control for their own ends. Clegg is an ex Euro man who has enjoyed the Brussels Gravy Train for 5 years prior to his present post. His stance and opinion counts for nothing. He is totally blind to reality and does not understand the British EconomyLord Mynors' view is also suspect in my view, and is regularly trailed out by the Euro fanatics in the BBC, which is totally and fraudulently biased.. They have all been constantly proved wrong over the years and the British thinking population have now made up their mind finally. Let us call for a referendum NOW. In or out, and then set a new course on the result. We will be able to Bank at least £50 million a day in savings from the start. A serious boost to enterprise and work would transform the Country's economy. We can and will trade succesfully with Europe just remove us from the corrupt Bureaucracy of Brussels, and the lunatics who inhabit the place with their lavish life styles at the expense of the European Tax Payer.

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orchardsparks

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:23

Thanks Peter Troy for your informative comments. I look forward to clarification/obfuscation from Cameron in the house today. There has been so much useless waffle on this that I don't intend to add anything in the way of comment.

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Graham Barlow

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:45

Before the Euro fanatics start quoting ill founded statistics I recommend that you all read Daniel Hannan's report(also published in the Telegraph) on Britains financial contributions to the EU. Even I remember Blair signing up to £6^.4 Billion a couple of years ago. Before you start disembling the truth check your figures.Our contribution is rising by a further 60%. Nice work if you can get it. If we want to distribute aid on this scale Charity begins at home, and then there are plenty of impoverished Nations in the World who need more help than CORRUPT EUROPE.

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SMS

Dec 12, 2011 at 11:46

An elder one - I never said the unions were not part of the problem, they clearly played their part. But there is a tendency to still blame them and ignore the fact we have suffered from very poor management in the past and today. Unions are the product of poor management but unfortunately sometimes attracted militant individuals.

The fact is foreign companies have taken over British companies and turned them into success stores without serious labour problems. These companies were prepared to engage, train and invest and importantly value there work force. Why has BMW made such a success of the Mini and Rolls Royce Cars and VW with Bentley motors? Why have TATA turned round Jaguar/Rover? The bet is they will make success of what was British Steel. The list goes on and on.

That’s not to say we don’t have some very good British managed companies Rolls Royce Engines, Dyson and our World leading companies in F1 Engineering are very good examples. We certainly have many more enlightened and progressive companies were the employees are considered an asset. These companies will be successful in or out of the EU.

For your information I have not a member of a trade union, any political party, most of my life I worked for a first class American company and in the later years been self employed.

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Graham D-C

Dec 12, 2011 at 13:23

chazza

You have either missed the point and/or are being disingenuous; the debt crisis occurred on Labour's watch. Not only that, today's self damning report by the FSA out today on the RBS/AMBRO fiasco also incriminates goverment ministers at the Treasury; none other than wunder kinds Balls, Miliband and chief architect, Brown.

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 13:45

SMS, I've no real quarrel with you, but you still appear to miss my point, the genesis of our problems was now a long time ago and present conditions have changed. The British motor industry - which has been used as an example of the old industries - declined steadily from that point after the war to the point where iit finally collapsed; along the line though the unions got put back into their box but the emphasis of our livelihood became focussed on finance - where the brightest and best could see where the treasure lay - with much reduced interest in making things by the powers that be. This attracted up and coming foreigners of emerging economies - BMW is an exception - to move in and cherry pick what was left of that industry; it is noticeable that they have kept the historic marques. But I maintain nonetheless that it is the conditions as a whole in Britain that is the root cause of this decline in the older industries not a reflection of a poor general standard in British managership as you yourself observe.

As a matter of interest I too worked for a first class American company, and as you will note they too had similar problems to ours in catching up with Japan for instance; on which point it is of interest to observe where Japan is now in the order of things; as they say, every dog has its day; nothing never changes.

Undoubtedly Britain is going to have to do a lot to buck-up our manufacturing industries, we can't just depend on finance as the main product of our endeavours in the coming reallignments of the European marketplace. For one thing it will need a reallignment of of our education system at all levels to better service the needs of a manufacturing industry to succeed.

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 14:03

To answer the original question, it is difficult to tell quite what the union with Europe does for us at all now, confused as it is by the political classes, but I reckon that if it is becoming contrarian to our interests - as it appears it is - then we should leave, we can manage perfectly well without, providing we go about it with the right agenda and positive motivation; there's no mystery in that, Britain just needs to pull its socks up; arguments regarding super-powers is irrelevant nonsense.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 12, 2011 at 14:04

We can be a great country again by giving all our british trained teenages work based training when they leave training centres even if it does not pay more than £50.00 a week they will then get out of the trap of having jobs going to none uk workers or being kicked onto the scrape heap at 17.18.19.20 years old . Please dont believe the bull sh-- that comes out of some peoples mouths that kids dont want work. They dont need pieces of paper they need work place training. If there is going to be a transaction tax then let the uk make for the taxs off the uk not eec.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 12, 2011 at 14:04

We can be a great country again by giving all our british trained teenages work based training when they leave training centres even if it does not pay more than £50.00 a week they will then get out of the trap of having jobs going to none uk workers or being kicked onto the scrape heap at 17.18.19.20 years old . Please dont believe the bull sh-- that comes out of some peoples mouths that kids dont want work. They dont need pieces of paper they need work place training. If there is going to be a transaction tax then let the uk make for the taxs off the uk not eec.

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Sharon Turk

Dec 12, 2011 at 14:12

As an American, I may see things differently than most British citizens, but I don't understand why you are in that union. You no longer rule a huge empire but you are highly respected. I would think you'd want complete control over your country, your markets, and your money.

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Robert Court

Dec 12, 2011 at 15:00

I wonder who it is who keeps quoting the EU costs the UK 50 million pounds per day; the latest figures I can see works out as slightly over 3.8 million per day; still a huge amount but not quite 50 million.

To me 'charity' begins at home - and 'home' is Europe and not Africa or Asia or South America.

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ajay

Dec 12, 2011 at 16:20

You need to brush up on your arithmetic Robert!!

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Peter Troy

Dec 12, 2011 at 16:22

This afternoon Mr Cameron speaks of his derring-do in Brussels, when he managed correctly to identify that he attended a European Council. He went there for one purpose, to protect Britain's national interest.

Let me be clear about exactly what happened, he told the members. The eurozone economies decided that there should be much tighter discipline. The question at the council was not whether there should be more discipline, but how ... whether there should be a full treaty change at an EU level, or a treaty outside the EU.

He demanded "modest" safeguards, knowing that an intergovernmental arrangements was not without risk. But the choice was an EU treaty with safeguards, or no treaty. It was a tough decision, but the right decision. We remain, however, a full member of the EU."I believe we should be in the European Union", he says.

And there you go. Not a single mention of the "v" word. If he vetoed a treaty, he makes no claim in front of his MPs. It is as if the last three days had never happened. Why the reticence?

Ed Miliband says The Boy has come back with a "bad deal for Britain". "We walked away from the table", says the Miliband. We have a "diplomatic disaster" of 26 countries going ahead without Britain. Far from protecting our interests, he has left us without a voice.

The prime minister claims to have exercised a veto, yet a veto is supposed to stop something. But it goes ahead. That's called loosing, says Miliband. The truth is though, the prime minister didn't want a deal, so he made sure we wouldn't get one.

Responds The PM, he hasn't told us whether he (Miliband) would sign up to the new treaty? But what treaty? That has not been stated. "I'll tell you what we gained from the veto", says The Boy, now admitting for the first time that he (thinks he) cast one. How revealing - no mention of the veto in his main statement - the first reference is in response to the leader of the opposition.

Jack Straw then says there was no draft treaty before the Council. Would the prime minister like to point out the paragraph numbers which threatened British financial services. Look at the letter from Merkel, says Cameron, ducking the issue. He doesn't answer, because he can't answer.

There was no treaty, there was no veto.

To exit the EU will take planning, thought and time. Maybe we are at the beginning of the end of the UK’s membership of the EU; however we are definitely in the middle of spin and great deception.

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 16:31

Sharon, of course we do; that is to say the people do, but as in all aspects of life politicians possess an arrogance that they collectively know best how to manage others' affairs - it would be odd I suppose ithey did not; you've got to have convictions to be a politician - their problem (ego) is such that they cannot bear to be seen out of power (oh! the ignomy of it) so go to play on the stage - wherever it lies - to impress the 'children' with their prowess in order to garner the votes laid there.

We have here in Europe a collection of disparate cultures; not that different in essentials, but that have evolved in different manners whose genesis lies long in the past and has been fought over in competition over centuries; its called sovereignty; they are in fact tribal instincts (that are in the genes) and so long as we have treaties, relationships can be kept in order (debatable! the price of freedom is an ever present vigilance) you in the States had to endure a wretched civil war to achieve unity.

What is going on in Europe today is another one of those competitive spats going on under the pretence that is for the good of the people, but is in fact to win the game of 'who is cock of the muckheap' and in extension to be leader of a super-power. This I think is a French ambition, the British don't care - they've had their turn and cannot see it ever happening and unecessary anyway - provided the European menagerie keep it to themselves, and Germany of course doesn't care because they are too big to argue with in Europe, though have been inveigled there by the French.

The French could see that they could not hope to achieve their aim directly so invented the Euro to achieve it backdoor out of some notional eventual necessity; which caused the mess they are now in, blaming it on the Anglo Saxon way of life of course.

So yours is an excellent question; why indeed did we get here in the first place, after all we did not need to had our rulers truly thought about it as a practical proposition, and like all plain down to earth people, the average person (I nearly said man in the street) was against it. Still, this episode could truly wake us up, I sincerely hope so.

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ajay

Dec 12, 2011 at 16:46

http://www.ukipmeps.org/uploads/file/Cost_of_the_EU_25_5_11.pdf

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Potus

Dec 12, 2011 at 17:26

Its amazing what this portal has been able to reveal...

So far, I have been able to see the HUGE amount of hatred some people still have against the Labour Party !!! It's as good as a nasty level of vitriolic / pathological level of hatred embedded in their DNA !

But the fact is some real goodies were delivered by them afterall...

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Graham D-C

Dec 12, 2011 at 17:56

Sharon Turk

The British people if not the PM at the time- Edward Heath, were gravely mislead over the supposed advantages of engaging directly with mainland Europe. Most of us thought we would be joining a fee trading zone similar to your NAFTA, yet with no political ties.or undue influences. Instead it was the first step taken by European politicians led by the French to force us to relinquish our long establshed free trade with our commonwealth of nations and the United States. This plan eventually lead to us being ensnared in what became the EU which was specifically designed to create a bulwark against American domination of trade and influence in Europe. Ultimately, this led to the UK being forced to deny all those countries outside of the EU from right of entry, the biggest betrayal of all those nations and their people who fought alongside the UK and the United States in WW2. Who would ever have believed that the likes of the Aussies, Canadians, S.Africans, Newzealanders are now classed as aliens when they visit the UK. Whereas today Germans have an automatic right of entry and employment in the UK by virtue of being members of the EU. Our only saving grace being that we did not give up our pound for the euro. Having been occupied by Germany three times, France is clearly not a natural ally of Germany,however, its dislike for America and Americans is so great , that it prefers to get in bed with its old enemy Germany in order to thwart America's influence in Europe. Which in turn meant it had to break strong ties between America and the UK ( acting as a bridgehead for America) by esnaring it within the web of the EU.

IF the EU and its beloved euro fail, it will mean that most if not all of France's politcal goals since WW2, will be dashed.

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Peter Troy

Dec 12, 2011 at 17:58

Delivered by whom?

Some of us feel betrayed by the Conservative party over the EU!

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 18:19

Potus, just because one disagrees strongly with another does not mean the one hates the other, admittedly some people have an intemperate way of expressing themselves, but that's all; hatred is a condition of unreason so best ignored by rational minds.

And on your last point politicians do get things right from time to time - left or right of the chamber - if in some cases, by accident, only discovered in hindsight.

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chazza

Dec 12, 2011 at 18:43

Graham D-C: OK, I get it, you hate the EU and see it as a French plot. But you really cannot blame the EU for the ending of Imperial preference or the restrictions on immigration to the UK from the 'old Commonwealth'. Australian trade with UK was declining long before UK joined the EEC because it saw its economic and strategic interests as lying with its Pacific neighbours. Restrictions on immigration to the UK from the 'old Commonwealth' (to which I am profoundly opposed for kinship reasons) came with the Commonwealth Immigration Act (1964, I think, and subsequently tightened) whose aim was to discourage immigration to the UK without appearing overtly racist. The EU did not in any way demand or require this, and people of German and Greek ancestry still have free access to Germany and Greece respectively, as those of British ancestry would have to the UK had not the UK parliament decide otherwise.

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Georgebundle

Dec 12, 2011 at 18:45

Graham - DC, like 99% of contributors to this discussion -besides most British politicians - have never read the Treaty of Rome where the establishment of the United States of Europe was clearly visualized by the founder members of the EEC. There is no excuse or explanation for the belief that the British joined a trade group only. This is not the EEC's fault but those who did not actually read the small print before joining. Someone said the other day that the British position in the EU is like a person who goes to a wife swopping party without bringing his own wife. Learn from history folks.

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Peter Troy

Dec 12, 2011 at 19:04

Learn what, take someone else’s wife?

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an elder one

Dec 12, 2011 at 20:44

I should reckon everyone has got it off their chest now; there's always danger in getting involved in the specifics, it opens all manner of cans of worms; georgebundle, '99% of contributors' that's pretty specific, what's the basis?

And who on earth of the ordinary bod would want to read the treaties, that's for the legal profession and analysts of political constitution, from whom, we the masses, obtain our enlightenment with various emphases.

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Georgebundle

Dec 12, 2011 at 21:48

elder one, you put your finger on it. Analysts of political constitution apparently have not read the Treaty of Rome properly. What views they disseminated about the EEC were ill informed. They told us that the EEC is a trading club, nothing more. These views are now repeated by 99% of contributors to this discussion.

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Robert Court

Dec 12, 2011 at 22:30

The treaties of Rome were in 1957 (not 1956 as i thought) and we signed up to them in 1973.

For those who still don't know what we signed up to here is the preamble in black and white:

In the preamble, the signatories of the Treaty declare that:

"- determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,

resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,

affirming as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvements of the living and working conditions of their peoples,

- recognising that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee steady expansion, balanced trade and fair competition;

- anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions;

- desiring to contribute, by means of a common commercial policy, to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade;

- intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations;

- resolved by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts...".

Ok?

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Martin Drew

Dec 13, 2011 at 08:02

I suspect I am in a minority of one on this board but I think that preamble that Robert Court has just published is rather wonderful. I am not an historian but at the back of my mind I recall that the meeting in Messina had a very profound influence on the founders of the then Common Market. The French, Benelux & Germany had no idea that the sort of poverty they saw there existed in Europe and it led to much of the social idealism that was built into the Treaty of Rome.

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Graham D-C

Dec 13, 2011 at 08:12

George Bundle

So you blame the ordinary men and women in the street in the early 70's for not reading the small print in a document( that ran to how many pages) and not foreseeing the nightmare of the EU which it ultimately led to.Get real.

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mikeran

Dec 13, 2011 at 09:39

Well this is what one labour MP said when DC addressed the house recently, Reading the many comments in the London Evening Standard yesterday, it also surprised me that aprox. 90 % were of a similar view. Is public opinion right or misinformed?

Hansard records it as:

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall, Labour)

"I would like it to be put on the record that, while not many Opposition Members are present, many of them, as well as many Labour party members and millions of Labour party supporters throughout the country, want to see our Prime Minister standing up for this country and making sure that we get some of those powers back. The most important thing that the country wants, however, is a referendum on the whole question of Europe"

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Robert Court

Dec 13, 2011 at 10:08

Under EU law it is the responsibility of the country of entry within the EU to look after any political refugees; i.e. the first country of entry.

Some small states like Malta have been flooded with illegal immigrants and asked for the help of other European countries.

The fact that France almost deliberately set up refugee camps so close to Calais makes me wonder - and if illegal immigrants are caught in the UK and their first port of call in the EU was France then (by EU law) they should be sent back to France.

I cannot understand why we sometimes don't stand up for our rights under EU law.

That doesn't mean that the EU is bad; just our government is ineffective at 'playing the game' as well as our other European partners.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 13, 2011 at 10:15

Graham . Fair coment but dont just blame labour Conservatives won the election spouting we are going to to close the boarders to mass imigration and send home all illegals and prisoners. There is a saying . You are having a laugh arnt you, or is it you could not run a pi-- up in a brewery. In othere words they cant do there jobs when they get in power so step aside and give some one else a chance or tell the truth when its not working.Leave the eec your having a laugh they need us as much as we need them. Theres only the daft sorry dozy goverment that would give away a massive rail contract away to a nother country in time of mass unemployment. Do you ever hear of any big contracts from other countrys coming here i havent ?. Whos building there war ships or suport vessels? Do we own there eletric ,water .gas companys are there companys for sale germany

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Georgebundle

Dec 13, 2011 at 10:16

Graham - DC

I do not expect folks to read the Treaty of Rome or any other treaty. They do not even read the party manifestos at election time. I covered 4 general elections for television and experienced the general ignorance out there. However, I did expect politicians to exercise 'due diligence' when they have decided to join the Common Market and to know exactly what they have signed up for. If they did not know, and they promoted the idea of what they thought what they have signed up for, we have a population that is totally misinformed, indeed disinformed, helped by the press generally. That misinformation is evident in the contributions to this discussion.

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Robert Court

Dec 13, 2011 at 10:34

Graham D-C

The preamble to the treaties of Rome isn't 'small print' and the fact that it states quite clearly (in the preamble, NOT fine print)

"determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe"

The implications of an ever closer union are obvious and one does not need a PhD in either Economics or Politics or Philosophy to work it out.

The fact that such a 'dream' can take many years or decades or may be anything more than a dream doesn't take away from the fact that we signed up to it and that the conclusion is one of more and more integration and not less and less.

While Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU they ARE in the EEA (European Economic Area) and abide by the rules without having any say in the rule making.

MAYBE the UK would be better off just being in EFTA or the EEA or whatever but let's have the full facts first so we can make a rational decision.

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Georgebundle

Dec 13, 2011 at 11:38

Well said Robert Court

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an elder one

Dec 13, 2011 at 12:00

Robert Court, that is the WHAT for the basis of a European Union, it does not address and certainly does not specify the HOW, it is in the latter that the ruling classes have made a mess of it. Churchill himself did not demur from the WHAT, but I'm pretty sure he would appalled by this outcome. The problem with the treaties is that they constitute a broad ranging recipe, promoting all manner of outcome - good, bad and indifferent; it is a device still pored over by the judges from time ti time to see what loopholes can be discovered to circumvent any dire straights experienced by sovereigns, as both France and Germany already have done I believe.

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Robert Court

Dec 13, 2011 at 12:36

an elder one

The EU has been hugely beneficial in helping many poor regions of the EU (including some regions within the confines of the UK borders until poorer nations joined).

It is our duty, as a member state, to promote what we consider good outcomes in the spirit of the treaties we signed up to.

If we truly do not wish to help poorer European states enjoy a higher standard of living and 'more democracy' (no more Greek juntas, no more General Franco in Spain etc) and we have only our own short-term interests at stake and don't give a fig about our neighbours then 'yes' - we should get out and abandon our responsibilities to fight for the kind of democracy we believe in.

We are only powerless to change things if we honestly believe we are powerless; the European Parliament is the only directly elected body but it is being given more and more powers and whilst the other institutions are not directly elected people like Commissioners are selected by governments that we have directly elected.

I believe Europe is the best place to live even if it is in genteel decline.

I'd rather live in Europe than the USA and admire Australia and Canada but would only consider living in New Zealand out of all our Commonwealth countries as a personal choice.

We are in a fantastic situation; part of Europe but the motherland of all English speaking countries.

We still have a lot to offer the world if only we were prepared to fight as part of a team for what we believe in rather than whine from the sidelines.

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an elder one

Dec 13, 2011 at 13:10

Robert, I've no quarrel with that, we certainly agree at the philosophical level, my criticism is of the actual product, not its conceptual design. To my mind it is the Euro ingredient that is the problem; that which overdosed the mixture and that the cooks are now finding almost impossible to remove/moderate its effect. Even Jacques Delors, an architect, admitted they made a mess of it. What we have today is not a strife over that basic philosophy - though it challenges some people - but the matter of an acceptable manner of governance with proper and realistic regard for sovereign sensitivities. You cannot ride roughshod in a few decades over cultures that have evolved over the centuries as they have in Europe. Perhaps it is inevitable that we go through this pain on the way to whatever achievement lies ahead; its called learning the hard way, a pragmatic process; but we seem to have made it harder than was necessary

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Graham D-C

Dec 13, 2011 at 13:15

One says the specifics were in the preamble, another says they were in the small print and its the people's fault for not reading up on it. Remind me, did the people actually have a vote on being taken into what ultimately became the EU?

The bit about creating a close binding of the people in Europe and other countries with similar aspirations was as it turns out a masterpiece in deception. France left NATO, De Gaulle called for all Amercan troops who liberated his country to get out, despite 70,000 Amercan souls buried in French soil, The UK has 1000 convicted foreign criminals walking its streets and a further 4,000 in prison, most of whom we are banned under EU laws from deporting back to their own countries, lest we infringe their human rights, The Irish have a let out clause that excuses them from providing troops in less threatened itself. Convicted terrorists awaiting sentence in Columbia are now miraculously walking the streets in Ireland free as a bird.

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Graham Barlow

Dec 13, 2011 at 13:21

The Speech this morning in Brussels by the Commissioner ,proves beyond doubt that they are completely Bankcrupt of any ideas of how to solve the Euro crisis. He is blaming Britain for failure to stabilise the Market in Euro Bonds, and went on to claim it is now a Global problem. In other words it is everybody else's problem but theirs. In my view this is International Financial Terrorism or at best Blackmail. Pass the Buck will not work either, if anything it could turn the Market distinctly ugly with a Euro Bond strike on their hands This has now become too serious to leave to these nincompoops and an International meeting be held to thrash out a policy to either dismantle the Euro or put together a structure that will underwrite it. The meeting should have no other agenda, no smoke screens about restructuring the World, and no political posturing worrying about their own silly survival at the polls. Cameron could make a name for himself by setting up such a forum, and just concentrate on that ,and dont come out until you have a working model that will stand up.

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colin macdermott

Dec 13, 2011 at 14:11

Yup keep on digging no one really exposes Lord Myners part in "freds" pension pay off, and exactly what was "freds" role in the FSA.

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colin macdermott

Dec 13, 2011 at 14:18

And lets not forget "fred" supervsed a multibillion pound cock up which had it not occured the gov/banks and us all would not give a fig about the "new" fiscal Euro plans cos our finances would have been up together, only problem would have been MR Broon b*******g it up .

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The ssinnic

Dec 13, 2011 at 15:05

Went to SpaIn (Andalusia) recently. New roads all over the place (some going nowhere with little or no traffic), fantastic new railways with no passengers, all paid for by Brussels. Problem is: Spains's another busted flush with two principal industries...tourism (knackered for now) and fruit + veg. Remember their German friends telling us ridiculous "stories" about salmonella in Spanish cucumbers...no wonder they couldn't win wars! Greeks hardly export anything as don't Portuguese, so it's really up to the Dutch ( have you noticed how quiet they are about all this???) Swedes, ourselves and the French?/German alliance to earn enough to sort out the rest.

When's the internal EUbickering really going to 'get going'? Barruso is already letting off steam as he fears for his precious job...what a twod!

I give 'em 3 months before they all fall out together and as I have said before you can't fix the leaking bath with sellotape.

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mikeran

Dec 13, 2011 at 16:29

You are right ssinnic, Barosso complaining about DC input being damaging to the single market and yet what was the purpose of this part of the treaty change proposal at this time. Coming as it does before any resolution of the Eurozone debt problem. Whilst all the time debt is increasing and the CRA are preparing for the next set of Downgrades, to further quagmire eurozone. And present it with the need for yet another summit, Brussels or Strasbourg this time.?

On the home front Labour must be pleased that the Lib Dems hung their hat on the DC peg.

Clegg and Vince certainly in public damaged the UK position and gave the EU ammunition. United we stand , divided we fall. Lib dems have now become an expensive appendage. A referendum, and a change of Government would see them confined to history as a group, before further damaging rifts surface.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Dec 13, 2011 at 16:47

DC acted like a man being robbed of his wallet and fought back while em would have given them his wallet and keys to his car to drive off with. If the germans and french are so giving then send some of there car plants to greece and portugal to build up there manufacturing bases. If there was money to be made in city taxing then the british could have done it and paid the national debt off not give it away.

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Graham Barlow

Dec 13, 2011 at 16:48

Now we know you all read City Wire in the lounges in Parliament. Please all of you take note of the strength of feeling by contributors from Far and wide.This farce called the EU is nothing but a monster, and Albatross on the backs of the succesful Tax Payers of Europe. The Euro is likely to collapse as the Bond market turns really ugly early in January. All we want is to trade with the Europeans and not be shackled by the monster, self perpetuating Bureaucracy in Brussels. We know that some of you have enriched yourselves and your families out of the Brussels Gravy Train, but for once give us the chance to decide our own destiny before we are enslaved for ever under the Yolk of jumped up Commissioners who would like to direct what time we go to bed and what time we get up. During the day be enslaved looking after thousands of criminals convicted who we cannot get rid of to where they came from.. How did we get into this Mess called the EU For God 's sake let us get out. we may be poorer but independant and free.. They have not a clue how to solve the Euro crisis, and listening to Cameron and the rant from Milliband plus the innane questions, neither have any of you.

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Georgebundle

Dec 13, 2011 at 16:59

Dear Anonimous 2. Please learn the difference between 'there' and 'their'. Your postings will read clearer.

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Georgebundle

Dec 13, 2011 at 17:12

Dear Graham Barlow, Your view on the future of the EU is shared by many contributors and is based on wishful thinking, judging by the evidence, or lack of it, in your postings. Opinions do not work as causes. As to the Brussels Bureaucracy, dealing with the administration of the issues relating to 27 countries, is smaller than that of Nottingham's It is an administrative body not a legislative one. Yes, we did get into a hell of a mess in the UK but it is our politicians and laws that caused it, not Brussels. The French do not have the same problem getting rid of unwanted criminals and they are in the same EU as we are. Nor do the Germans, the Italians or the Spanish. It is the British judges that seem to live in an ivory tower of abstract justice that prevents Britain to do the obvious thing. Please let's have some facts enter our enjoyable discussion on these pages.

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Martin Drew

Dec 13, 2011 at 17:35

Well said Georgebundle. Graham Barlow whilst I accept that the majority might have doubts about the usefulness of being part of the EU there is a fair old minority who don't agree with pulling out. Also being under a yoke might be disagreeable, being under a yolk just sounds sticky.

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tim boles

Dec 13, 2011 at 17:59

Dear Sirs

It took a meeting I had yesterday with some French Journalists to look at the situation from another perspective. One of the journalists had mentioned in an article that Europe had much to lose if Britain left – since Europe would miss Britain’s influence in the world. From this side we often tend to overlook the obvious!

In addition I told them of the world-wide co-ordinated Bank rescue last week to raise $USD liquidity in the European banks which had been orchestrated by none other than Mervyn King the Governor of the BOE from – in of all places the City of London.

Mervyn King is showing a mature and competent approach to the Euro problem and it seems he is operating at a higher level than those politicians seeking to obtain a Scapegoat for their own failings in the design of this currency. Merkozy have much to learn methinks!

Why don’t we offer Sterling to other nations who are contemplating joining the Euro?

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chazza

Dec 13, 2011 at 18:54

I seem to recall that when the Euro was first mooted, John Major suggested that, rather than abandon national currencies altogether, the Euro should be introduced alongside them so that the two might circulate together. The idea was laughed out of court on both sides of the Channel, but it seemed to me quite a good one. I suppose that the idea was that, if the Euro caught on, people would vote with their purses and the national currencies would gradually fade away. There would have been questions about when / how often the exchange rates between national currencies and Euros were fixed.. But equally, we might have avoided the present mess

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The ssinnic

Dec 13, 2011 at 18:56

Martin

don't egg him on... he might be an oeuf before long!

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Graham D-C

Dec 13, 2011 at 19:13

George bundle

Am I correct in understanding from your relevent post, that EU rules/directives do not in themselves create EU laws but merely see to their being applied in the form introduced and passed by member states? Therefore any member who subsequently does not like the law, has only itself to blame for having voted for it in the first place.

In addition, that British judges are in effect making their own personal legal judgements when dealing with foreign nationals found guilty of breaking UK laws, which in turn results in the crinminals not being deported. Whereas, judges in other EU countries by adhereing to laws passed by member states have no difficulty in deporting their own foreign criminals?

m instead of those applipassed under and not applin sentences on foreign nationals found gulty of breaking UK laws ing which are not necessarily in obeyance of EU law which gives rise to the difficulties experinced in deporting foreign nationals which other EU courts iollowing their own interpretation of UK/EU laws , which results in the dificulties of lri introduce and collectively pass our post that sai t and its t

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Graham Barlow

Dec 13, 2011 at 20:35

So it is all lies that we cannot deport convicted criminals under THE EU adopted Human Rights Act? Why are Home Office Ministers including Straw so frustrated then? Disembling the true reality and trying to personalise your criticism leads me to believe you are in Parliament. Read the Blogs sunshine and you will see what the overwhelming majority of thinking people really want, not wishful thinking watching the Euro go down the pan along with half the American Credit default Swaps Market. You have no idea of the size of mess Europe is in. Most of the borrowings will NEVER be repaid OK. The wishful thinking if it resides anywhere it resides in The Politicians. Little old Ladies in Greece will tell you all about reality paying 2/3rds of their total Pension income in Property Tax under the new EU sponsored Technocrat Govt Once they get the foot in the door your finished. I dont suppose Sarkozy or Merkel Give a damm

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Georgebundle

Dec 13, 2011 at 20:55

Graham DC, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to elaborate on the issue of British interpretation of EU law. The English legal system is adversarial and largely based on precedent, although not entirely. This means that there are no absolutes in English law only grey areas to be explored by handfuls of lawyers. Add to this mixture the laws related to Human Rights, themselves not developed in absolute terms, you can end up white being black and vica versa. Other legal systems, such as the Napoleonic laws prevailing in France, deal with the EU laws in accordance with their own country's legal traditions. For example, if in law the conclusion is not crystal clear then common sense decides the outcome of a dispute. (There are exceptions, of course.) The absolute of the Human Rights laws would be that if anyone violates another person's rights to life, property and peace that person should automatically forfeit their own. Can you see that being accepted in English law? How would lawyers make a living then?

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Graham Barlow

Dec 13, 2011 at 21:05

Britain used to be full of that commodity which resides in French Law according to you Common Sense If I applied Common Sense I would completely overhaul the British Legal system from Top to bottom and introduce People into the lAW WHO HAD cOMMON sENSE IN ABUNDANCEAND DO AWAY WITH THE pOCKET LINING INDUSTRY THAT IT HAS TURNED INTO BY NEGLECT OF pARLIAMENT.

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Paul Eden

Dec 13, 2011 at 21:23

I have no doubt at all that Germany and France knew Britain would seek to protect its financial sector by exercising the veto. The argument is that the eurozone financial markets would be restricted if Britain was not involved in the financial transaction charges being levied, but levying such charges would certainly restrict the British financial sector which is a significant part of the British economy! This was obviously of no concern to either France or Germany. They were prepared to inflict damage on a non-euro economy to protect their own interests inside that economy!

Both countries fully intended to isolate Britain in the EU afterwards and intend to hit the British financial sector with restrictive red tape wherever possible - and I have no doubt that they may well have the wherewithall to do so. Would Britain in that event call a referendum at last, not because of any transfer of powers to the EU, but because our own national interests are constantly under attack by supposed 'friends' and 'allies'?

This friction, distrust and antagonism that has broken into open warfare now between Germany, France and Britain does not bode well for the future, not just of Britain in the EU, but for any attempt by eurozone countries of solving the debt problem within. It was surely the very last thing needed if the markets were to be reassured that the financial crisis was being dealt with.

The regeneration of the British economy depends on high value technology and component manufactures being supported by government - but the EU does not approve of such subsidies. Britain, in order to regenerate its economy would need to leave the restrictive EU regulations.

What dumbfounds so many people in this country are politicians' reluctance and refusal to allow the electorate to have a voice in anything to do with the EU. I think they know which way the wind is blowing as regards the outcome of a referendum on this issue.

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The ssinnic

Dec 14, 2011 at 00:16

The simple answer is that all politicians suffer from a disease that seems to evade bacterial or viral eradication over centuries called " I no bes titis" (Latin tr. shitupon therestofuvus i m init for me/us.)

When they succomb to this 'illness' it means they now ignore all the voters' wishes and hopes and aspirations that got them in, then they reverse all referendum votes , ignore the will of the people, and then this lets them pretend they are in a 'democracy.' ( Try looking that definition up on Wikipedia!)

Which definition does our set opf delinquents choose?

The delusion period of the illness follows, sometimes within months,and is swiftly overcome by the 'greed desire' for wealth at the expense of the rest of us, as they realise that they were meaningless ignominious prats in the first place.

.Q.V. Kinnocks v. the people 1995

Went to Judicial Review but (OF COURSE) failed!

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Robert Court

Dec 14, 2011 at 07:34

chazza

You said that John Major was laughed at when he suggested using dual currencies; it's a shame it wasn't looked at more closely as I believe it would have given individual countries more flexibility with their currencies during the very long process where economies might or might not converge.

I wonder why the powers to be were so against the concept of a national currency being used alongside the euro?

If economies did well the natural tendency, I imagine, would be for the euro to be used more but if a country found itself in difficulty it would tend to use its own currency more and devalue it when expedient.

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David Johnstone

Dec 14, 2011 at 11:03

If I decide to do business with a non UK based supplier or client based in China, US, Brazil or even France for that matter, whether or not they are in the Eurozone is not an issue. If it makes sound business sense to deal them I will. I suspect that is the same view many small business people all over the world take. The benefits to the UK being in the Eurozone to me as a small business are not proven.

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Robert Court

Dec 14, 2011 at 11:26

David Johnstone

You write:

'If it makes sound business sense to deal them I will.'

Depending on many factors: including, of course, some form of guarantee that you'll get paid, that you are covered against currency fluctuations, that what you are buying is of the quality you desire, transportation costs, easy access to legal backup if things go wrong, any import or export tariffs applicable, the political climate of the country you are doing business with etc.

Naturally, you'd not have any of these benefits if the UK was in the eurozone and you'd be far better off making sound business decisions with those you know and trust in China, Brazil etc. Right?

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Graham Barlow

Dec 14, 2011 at 12:40

The great Merkozy plan for Europe , all 26 Countries signed up for doesn't seem to be lasting long ,does it? When I looked at it I couldn't understand for the life of me how Ireland could possibly sign it, when it contains a clause for complete Tax harmonisation. We all know that Ireland is an International Tax Haven for companies to operate in the European markets without paying British or German Corporation Tax. There rate is well below anybody else's. No the whole thing is a sham and a smoke screen to try and shift the failure of the Euro on to others outside the currency. One of the biggest losers will be the issuers of Credit default Swaps in Euros in the USA if the Euro Bond countries fail to meet their obligations. The next big danger is the beginning of a run on Banks in the Euro z one as people begin to take steps to protect their deposits. It is already underway in Greece, and with very little difference in interest rates between currencies , the Swiss Franc ,US dollar ,or Sterling could be perceived as a safer home

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colin grant

Dec 14, 2011 at 14:20

To Robert Court,I dont understand what you are trying to say. Presumably you think that dealing with a Eurozone business will be safer than dealing with China, Brazil etc. Any proof of that? We do a hell of a lot more with China than Europe I would have thought and they are not in the EU. Also we have no currency fluctuation protection anyway as we dont use the Euro, so whats your point?

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Robert Court

Dec 14, 2011 at 15:09

colin grant

I was answering David J and I am sure that if he has built up trading partners in several countries that he has assessed all the known risks before making business decisions; if you have built up good business relationships that you can trust then I am sure that counts a lot more than any legal and regulatory hurdles you have to overcome.

My point was that if we were in the eurozone we'd neither benefit nor lose by currency fluctuations when dealing with another eurozone country; depending on your business and ability to hedge the risk associated with currency fluctuations it may or may not affect your business decision.

David Johnstone said:

"The benefits to the UK being in the Eurozone to me as a small business are not proven."

The only proven benefit I can think of would be the abolition of currency fluctuations and reduced costs for not having to make these exchanges; any financial transaction that makes banks less money is a good thing by me!

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Cape Town

Dec 14, 2011 at 20:14

While we have been talking, these last couple of weeks, the euro has dropped from 1.41 to 1.30

If you got out at that time you'd be better off without doing anything

The trend is set for parity and bust

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The ssinnic

Dec 14, 2011 at 21:02

Bust.??? I've revised my reckoning to 1st Feb 2012.

Czecks are going to cause trouble + Ex-Communist sympathiser Barosso to overstep the mark and say something really stupid again, (bye the way no bookie would give you any odds on that!) and someone in OIreland to rock the boat !

Roll up, Roll up for the Great Euro show! Pantomime season about to start!

Sarkozy dressed up as Buttons (behind you! Watch it!) and Merkel one of the Uglies ( sorry Angela but that's the way it is!).

It's the Dutch who baffle me . What are they playing at??

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Cape Town

Dec 15, 2011 at 06:12

There is no solution. Well, there is of course ... faced with a choice between survival or paying off your debts, what would you do? If I were in the shoes of Merkel of Sarko (too small for me), I would be hoping very much that it doesn't bust on my watch, especially not if I wanted ot get re-elected.

It is outrageous that MErkel should promise no haircut, she is saying that the German and other taxpayer, the ordinary man in the street (at least, those left that still pay tax) pick up the tab for this fiasco.

I am still gobsmacked that banks, those most prudent of institutions, should have engaged in such lending practices. Their product, what they sell, is debt. They sold a lot. They sold to people who couldn't pay. It is their core business to evaluate credit default risk. Yet they carried on lending. And now Merkel says we should pay for their idiocy and greed?

To the barriers!

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Paul Eden

Dec 16, 2011 at 14:31

If you sup with the Devil be sure to use a long spoon.

Mr Sarkozy recently said that ratings agencies should look to downgrade Britain if they were thinking of downgrading France. His reasons were that Britain's debts were greater than those of France, its economy was growing more slowly and it had a higher inflation rate.

Now, you may think well of his reasons, but what of Mr Sarkozy's eagerness to point the finger at Britain and see Britain suffer a financial downgrade which would cost it tens of billions of pounds every year in extra interest? So far Britain has helped Ireland and another eurozone country costing it £15 billion, it has paid the EU £18.5 billion this last year. British politicians have expressed support for the euro and hoped it would recover. None of this has generated one iota of goodwill on Mr Sarkozy's part!

Not surprisingly, therefore, do we find euro countries wanting Britain to pay an extra £30 billion to the IMF so that it can support the euro still more. Every trick in the book - and without so much as a thank you!

Do we really want to get into bed with this lot? Shouldn't we be using a long spoon where the likes of Mr Sarkozy are concerned - a very long spoon?

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Graham D-C

Dec 16, 2011 at 16:26

Given that a few other EU countries are now belatedly thinking twice about surrendering their tax arrangements to inspection by EU officials,what a pity that Wednesday past saw the last PMQ for this year. That said, by the time of the next session, DC might see even more members siding with his decision and be able to throw the evidence in the face of that weasel Miliband and his crowing of the 26 against 1.

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Cynical Investor2

Dec 16, 2011 at 17:46

Paul (Eden), correct or put another way if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas!

Our ' Comrades in Arms are showing their true colours which many of us, including many French, have known for some time.

Apart from the support of our near Eurozone neighjbours, turn the argument around, would the 'Currency Club' be eager to support Sterling in similar circumstances?

For the Euro the chickens are coming home to roost!!

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Paul Eden

Dec 16, 2011 at 18:48

Cynical investor2 puts the situation very succinctly and well, I think, although I do hope our French cousins across the water do not take exception to the metaphors being used - which are of course aimed solely at illuminating the landscape, encapsulating facts that many are even now still blind to in England.

I like especially this idea of 'turning the argument around - would the currency club be eager to support Sterling in similar circumstances?'! I would not like to place a bet on this happening, although I would be tempted to bet on it NOT happening! I mean, several French leading economic and political figures have now gone on record saying that Britain and not France should be 'downgraded'! They would rejoice at any trouble Sterling got into, I have no doubt. But assist the British £? I don't think so!! You must be joking!

For Britain the whole European Union idea has proved to be a disaster. I would like a full appraisal of just how much belonging to the EU has cost Britain since we joined in 1973, and the rate of increase of our contributions. We do have a lot of jobs depending on European Union trade and so do other EU countries have a lot of jobs depending on our trade - and since we import more from them than they do from us, I suspect there could be as many as four million jobs in EU countries dependent on British trade, most of those jobs being in Germany.

Our interests are mutual but the big benefit of leaving this insane union is that we no longer have all our eggs in one basket: with a more diversified trade with the rest of the worl we would not be so dependent or so vulnerable to crises in the eurozone for example.

And never to be forgotten is the unparalled corruption in the EU Parliament which we are all paying for. But I don't expect or want Britain to leave this 'club' because I don't like it, but because the electorate don't like it - and the only way we can know what the electorate like or dislike is by holding a referendum - and we really don't need to handcuff ourselves to railings by insisting that we can't hold a referendum until there is some new transfer of powers from Britain to Europe!

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Cape Town

Dec 16, 2011 at 19:16

I think we want just to belong to a trade area where we can compete on qulaity price and delivery schedule and not have tariffs an quotas raised against us.

The talk of leaving so as not to have all our eggs in one basket is nice, but if only there where other baskets around in which to place our eggs, we are not coddled in that respect alas!

Absolutly agree that the French would help no-one and Brits last of all, except the Germans after whom they "trottinent", for the moment anyway. But you know, trade connects everyone very tightly together these days and we all belong to these clubs that pay out to help the weaker members survive to lose again another day.

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Cape Town

Dec 16, 2011 at 19:25

@Robert Court - "The only proven benefit I can think of would be the abolition of currency fluctuations and reduced costs for not having to make these exchanges; any financial transaction that makes banks less money is a good thing by me!"

Of course, agree about these rip off banks. But when companies were national yes they had these problems, today they arrange their international operations to optimise on various thngs, one being to net off receivables and payables so they can do their own internal FX.

I mean it is not necessarily the big advantage that it seemed to be - you can net off, the softwre handles all the tedious currency calculations, some companies even do a bit of currency trading on the side. It is not all one-way loss.

So staying in sterling is OK and we should encourage more to join us!

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Cynical Investor2

Dec 16, 2011 at 20:15

Simple house-keeping....when money is tight budgets are cut.Continueing to spend money one does not have has only one outcome.

Is the EU generally, concentrating on it's budgets? The CAP budget is one enormous drain which could easily be cut. Agricultural products that receive aid have seen huge increases these last 2 years which would easily offset decreases of farm support payments. Food for thought!!! or as Mr McAwber said " income 1 pound, expenditure 19/6 outcome happiness. Income 1 pound expenditure 1 guinea, outcome misery", ( or words to that effect)

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Cape Town

Dec 16, 2011 at 21:52

Absolutely CI2.

What is rather irksome is that the EU, seeing that they were short of a bob or two, decided to tax the financial transactions, on the basis that these were the guys who caused all the trouble in the first place. OK. But this is Yes Minister material, as in reality half this new bail-out "firewall" fund money, the tax on financial transactions - half! - would be paid for by the UK, not actually a member of the Euro club.

Why not tax agricultural produce instead of subsidising it? Why not tax machine tools and on the basis that these producers are sucessful and can afford it?

I wonder. ...

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Paul Wilkinson

Dec 19, 2011 at 00:09

Please remember THERE ARE NO SUBSIDIES on Pigs,Poultry or potatoes...

in fact todays market price on potatoes is £40/ton..(back to 1940 prices)....be nice to buy a gallon of Petrol or a ton of coal at 1940 prices...!!!...WOULD YOU ACCEPT a1940's salary for one year.......YES OK..!! ....abolish Subsidies...on ONE CONDITION....that ALL OTHER INDUSTRIES have theirs stopped also. WHY..?...wherever you have Subsidies, you have FIDDLE & FRAUD....................

HOW come Brussels gives more priority for birds & Bees than to the starving World....eg... paying Growers to keep land out of production, especially around Hedgerows....totally crazy.!!!!

I agree on your Tax issue.....in any case we are better out and away from the EU.....WHY WORRY about staying in ?....it will fail & disintegrate within 5yrs .

OUR TAX MONEY wants to go to our own Home land.

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Peter Troy

Dec 19, 2011 at 01:56

Addressing the political realities, one cannot avoid the view that, if public opinion is so easily and cynically manipulated on the "veto" issue, then it would be relatively easy to manipulate an in-out referendum, producing a politically "acceptable" result.

At the very least, one would expect Cameron to muddy the waters, offering the meaningless option of "renegotiation". And recent evidence indicates that there are more than sufficient people out there who would believe what they are told and go for this moonshine, blunting the force of a straight in-out poll.

It is very comforting nevertheless, to opt for fantasy politics in preference to the real thing. By all means, one can live in hope of Cameron giving us a nice straight referendum which delivers a clear majority for leaving the EU, followed by the repeal of the European Communities Act, and a quick exit.

But it ain't going to happen. And even if we had a government wholly committed to leaving the EU, it would take some considerable time and effort to work out the precise mechanics of how we would do it.

Let us here, just for a short period, reside in the real world. Say we left the EU, suddenly, unilaterally, on the basis of the repeal of the ECA. What would happen to our trade with the EU member states?

Well, the cheerleaders for the "outers" assure us that trade would be unaffected. After all, the continental states have a surplus on their balance of trade, and would not wish to see this change. And if they took measures against our exports, we could appeal to the WTO or take retaliatory measures.

That is all very good – but let's have a look at that real world, a world in which Britain is not a member of the EU, and has not yet negotiated a trade deal.

Further, on leaving the EU – we assume – Britain is no longer bound by EU single market rules through the EEA and, of special importance, we no longer accept the jurisdiction of the EU commission or the ECJ, in enforcing the rules. Thus, even if we adopt the rules temporarily, there is no mutually agreed mechanism for ensuring enforcement.

In that real world, the Customs Union that is the European Union permits the free movement of goods within its borders. But at the periphery, it has inspection points at designated ports, where goods are examined and checked before they are allowed entry into the EU area – the so-called Single Market area. No goods are allowed entry without checking and inspection.

And, at the stroke of a pen, we are outside that Single Market area. Thus, perfectly legitimately – and entirely within WTO rules, the EU can insist that all exports from the UK are routed via designated ports, for the checking and inspection that is applies to all goods from without the EU and EEA, applicable to those nations where special rules have not been negotiated.

Here, we have a very slight problem. There are no designated ports. Furthermore, you cannot magic them out of thin air. Checking and inspection requires space, a corps of inspectors and officials, offices, computer systems and the whole paraphernalia of border inspection regimes.

There are no such facilities at Calais, or any of the other Channel ports in France … or Belgium, or Holland. And there are none on the German seaboard. And nor are any airports in the mainland EU equipped to deal with the inspection of goods arriving from the UK. It would take years to build facilities capable of handling the volume – at the cost of billions.

Thus, perfectly legitimately, from the day we leave the EU, British exports to the EU would stop. They would stop immediately and remain stopped until we had negotiated alternative arrangements for their entry to the EU. And, given a complete absence of good will, how long do you think that will take?

Of course, we can retaliate. But the EU would have been acting perfectly legitimately, within WTO rules. We would be breaking the rules. Legitimately, the EU could then retaliate against us, and we are immediately in a trade war – just what we need.

And, when (or if) it comes to a referendum campaign, do you really think that the Europhiles are not going to point out problems such as these? Do you really think that, after months of such propaganda – backed by a Europhile Cameron and the bulk of British industry – the British people are going to rush to the polls to commit what they have been told is economic suicide?

Yet we do not need a referendum. A British government committed to leaving the EU can do so without one. But what we do need – will always need - is a detailed evaluation of the mechanics of leaving, providing us with a realistic exit plan, a timescale and a reassurance that the disruption and damage (and there will be some of both) can be minimised.

But, if we do have a referendum, in order to win, we should still need such an exit plan, otherwise the Europhiles stand a good chance of carrying the day – as they did in 1975.

Thus, the priority is not a referendum, especially when, in the real world, it would be a very brave (or stupid) man who guaranteed a win. The priority has to be an exit plan, and one based on expert knowledge – not the superficial and misleading efforts we have so far seen.

These are the facts of (political) life. But one senses that the British people are not too fond of confronting reality, preferring fantasy politics to the real thing – which is perhaps why we continue to oscillate between Labour and the Conservatives, and are currently lumbered with the coalition.

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Martin Drew

Dec 19, 2011 at 09:30

"Brussels gives more priority for birds & Bees than to the starving World"

If there is one thing that is absolutely certain it is that without bees we will all starve.

Ensuring biodiversity across our farmland would be a major priority for the UK Governmen t whether we were in or out of Europe. The Denmark Farm (in West Wales) experience showed that wider hedgerows dramatically increased the biodiversity of the farm and that in turn led to healthier land and better outcomes - and even if the EU hadn't taken it on board the UK goverment would almost certainly have.

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Paul Wilkinson

Dec 19, 2011 at 12:33

Please let COMMON SENSE prevail....I am not against wild life at all.....I have spent my whole life protecting it in Agriculture.

Your remarks on wider hedge rows is total nonsense......they have resulted in the BIGGEST INFESTATION OF RATS ever known.......that's why all ground nesting birds fail to hatch any eggs in their nests, RATS adore eggs.....listen and take note of the MAJORITY, not the minority.......if that is all you could pick up in my article.....then what can I say.....Bird Brain..!!!!

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Martin Drew

Dec 19, 2011 at 14:24

I am not sure that this is the right forum for a debate on how to increase bio-diversity on farms whilst maintainin productivity and profitability. From your last post however it seems that reasoned debate isn't your thing. Why not?

As for rats, yes they are a problem and wider hedgerows can lead to an increase in their numbers, but that depends to a degree on what is being farmed in the field. If proper bio-diversity is achieved it all balances out. Too often the argument is made by people favouring birds, or newts or water vole etc rather than looking at the whole picture.

Either way I don't think the EU has made a jot of difference, the UK goverment would have passed legislation anyway.

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Cape Town

Dec 19, 2011 at 19:08

Paul Wilkinson you are a card. The only way to get rid of vermin is to gas them and I think that will solve the "hedgerow" crisis.

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Paul Wilkinson

Dec 20, 2011 at 00:22

What a pity Martin......you think the EU hasn't made a jot of difference....the whole Financial World is trembling from it. The Banking Crisis was enough and now you make a ridiculous statement like that.....I realize you're not from the Countryside, neither it seems from the town....maybe no-mans Land....

Oh... Capetown !!!.... you only think, to use Gas will solve the problem.....so you are not sure.....if it is that easy, why are there so many rats......you had better start and lecture the Farmer / Growers in the Nation on how it should be done.

I guess the pair of you are from the "Live and let live Brigade".......Please remember that I originally stated...Let common sense prevail and listen more to the Majority than the Minority. eg the Majority want to be OUT of the EU.

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Graham Barlow

Dec 21, 2011 at 10:27

In regard to the EU politics, the French believe the answer to an EU crisis is to put a foot on the accelerator towards greater Union between the states. That way France stays in the driving seat, and can maintain the flow of money in favour of their agriculture. They have long given up on France being independent, The whole EU through its history is founded on Fear. Fear of their giant neighbour who in turn felt isolated and loathed throughout Europe. They both distrust Britain, and see it as a useful milch Cow to augument the inflow of money to feed their weaker satelite countries. They are both hell bent in keeping Britain in the sidelines, which we currently inhabit. For Brit6ain to really influence policy, like calling summits and new treaties we would receive an avalanche of vitriol and insults from the two main players France and Germany. If you want proof of this go to the Europe News site on the internet, and see the orchestrated villification of Britain. Entire bigotry with no rational debate about policy. We are in fact not part of Europe, unless we are prepared to kow tow to the French and Germans, and we will never change this.Why should we even attempt to? It is a waste of time energy and national resources. Britain must refocus outside the internal navel gazing of chip on shoulder socialist Europe. The latter description is really a misnomer because Europe is entirely eaten up with "Self".

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