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Democracy, Sovereignty and Elites

Shortly after Charles I was executed in the name of Parliamentary sovereignty in 1649, Parliament was abolished and an appointed “Barebones Parliament” installed. The episode illustrates the Italian elite-theorist Vilfredo Pareto’s thoughts on the fragility of elites: ruling groups tend to be very small, and are therefore vulnerable to being toppled. [1]

Amid the heat and light of the referendum to leave the European Union, we seem to be at risk of losing sight of a struggle among elites: the campaign of the judicial elite to gain hegemony over the political elite, the latter still being answerable to electorates despite democratic choice decreasing as cartelisation has increasingly turned discrete parties into wings of a superparty which has only started to redemocratise after the referendum.

The antagonism is far from new. As legal and political groups adjusted to the Representation of the People Act 1884’s extension of the franchise and prepared themselves for further inevitable extensions, jurist Albert Dicey pointed out that the “lawful supremacy” of Parliament over the judiciary had been sealed when William III became king not through succession but through statute – the 1701 Act of Succession, which is still in force today. [2]
In 2005, the judiciary’s campaign for hegemony emerged from eclipse with the Jackson v. Attorney-General judgement, which in referring to Dicey fired a shot over the bows of anybody who assumed that the UK Parliament would always remain sovereign:
The classic account given by Dicey of the doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament, pure and absolute as it was, can now be seen to be out of place in the modern United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the supremacy of Parliament is still the general principle of our constitution...[but] In exceptional circumstances involving an attempt to abolish judicial review or the ordinary role of the courts, the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords or a new Supreme Court may have to consider whether this is a constitutional fundamental which even a sovereign Parliament acting at the behest of a complaisant House of Commons cannot abolish. [3]
Three years later, in 2008, the UK was signed to the Lisbon Treaty, a series of amendments to the EU Constitution renamed so as to avoid the need for referendums. The Supreme Court was set up the next year but seems to have been erroneously named, as it can send European Court of Human Rights cases back only “in rare circumstances”, [4] and one of its own cases has produced the judgement that “a national court…should not without strong reason dilute or weaken the effect of the Strasbourg case law.” [5]

It seems a subservient position, but nonetheless it represents a victory of the judiciary as a class against elected politicians, and therefore against the electorate as a class. But it should not have come as a surprise, because Paragraph 3(1) and (2) of the UK’s European Communities Act 1972 demand that judicial notice be taken of any EEC (now EU) treaty as well as any decision of or expression of opinion of the European Court.

However, it should be noted that not all judges and lawyers are anti-democracy and, as the political reaction to the referendum result shows, not all politicians are pro-democracy. Lord Neuberger, while Master of the Rolls, backed up Bagehot’s investiture of “the nation” as “the present sovereign” [6] when he concluded in a 2011 lecture that “Parliamentary sovereignty is absolute, because the only true master is the electorate”. [7] And the nearest we can get to establishing what one might call the will of the electorate is to establish the majority view, as both Spinoza [8] and Scheler [9] counselled at either end of the Modern period. Majoritarianism doesn’t mean that minorities will be ignored, it simply serves notice upon elites that abstracting the suffering of minorities in order to commodify it in the service of de-centring majority traditions and culture for political purposes are at an end.

However, elites have been preparing for an upset such as the EU referendum (or indeed the US Presidential election) result. David Estlund coined the word “epistocracy” in 2013 from episteme, Greek for “knowledge” or “understanding”, to promote his view that “some citizens are better (if only less bad) than others with regard to their wisdom and good faith in promoting the better outcomes”. [10] Fellow philosopher Jason Brennan went further in a 2008 book with the chilling title Against Democracy, asserting that “When some citizens are morally unreasonable, ignorant, or incompetent about politics, this justifies not permitting them to exercise political authority over others”. [11]

In 2016 the Gramscian thinker Lorenzo Capitani took these viewpoints to their natural conclusion by saying that “education is key” to democracy. This might sound reasonable, but Capitani unpacks it to allow for “the downgrading of an individual” who fails to display sufficient knowledge to vote in an election or referendum, this being measured by exams. [12]

Here we have a problem: phrases such as wisdom, ignorance, good faith, morally unreasonable and incompetent about politics are highly normative and will be interpreted according to the mindset and purposes of those invested with the power to set and Mark Capitani’s exams. Also, when the Representation of the People Act 1948 abolished plural voting, full suffrage became full and equal suffrage, each citizen’s vote a tangible sign of his or her equality with every other citizen. To “downgrade” somebody, disabling them from voting in some or all elections and referendums is to proclaim that in at least some senses they are less equal than their voting compatriots, a view that must ring alarm bells.

Since we began this brief investigation into sovereignty with the English Civil War, one of the Europe-wide convulsions stemming from an opposed Reformation, I wish to conclude by suggesting that the EU referendum result marks a desire for political reformation. A majority of voters wish their democratic agency back, which may put them on a collision course with the Supreme Court with its President, Lord Neuburger, now stating court orders are a parallel lawmaking activity to Parliamentary debate, [13] a position which could see judges take the UK back towards EU membership outside of any democratic process.

The original conflicts only stopped with the Peace of Westphalia, from which national sovereignty evolved. I hope enlightened individuals among both parliamentary and judicial elites will resist the temptation of forming an antidemocratic power-sharing cartel – at least while judges are unelected – so some of history’s more unfortunate pages don’t have to be rewritten while the fragile wheel of our civilisation is reinvented.

Footnotes / sources

[1] Marshall, Alasdair J, Vilfredo Pareto’s Sociology: A Framework for Political Psychology (2007), Routledge 2016, p31
[2] Dicey, AV, The Law of the Constitution (1885), ed. JWF Allison, Oxford University Press 2013, p29
[3] House of Commons, Jackson v. Attorney-General (2005) p 47. Available at, accessed 18/11/2016
[4] The Supreme Court, The Supreme Court and Europe. Available at, accessed 22/11/2016
[5], Judgments - Regina v. Special Adjudicator (Respondent) ex parte Ullah (FC) (Appellant), 2004. Available at, accessed 22/11/2016
[6] Bagehot, Walter, The English Constitution (1867), ed. Paul Smith, Cambridge University Press 1991 p119
[7] Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls, Who are the Masters Now? Judiciary of England and Wales 2011, p18. Available at, accessed 22/11/2016
[8] Spinoza, Benedict de, Theological-Political Treatise (1677), trans. Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, Cambridge University Press 2007, p202
[9] Scheler, Max, Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values (1916), trans Manfred S Frings and Roger L Funk, Northwestern University Press 1973, p529 [10] Estlund, David, Why Not Epistocracy? in Desire, Identity and Existence: Essays in honor of T.M. Penner, ed. Naomi Reshotko, Academic Printing and Publishing 2003, pp53-69
[11] Brennan, Jason, Against Democracy, Princeton University Press 2016, p17 (his emphasis)
[12] Capitani, Lorenzo, Informed Voting, Philosophy Now issue 116, October/November 2016, p19
[13] Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, Some thoughts on judicial reasoning across jurisdictions, Supreme Court 2016. Available at, accessed 22/11/2016

Gerry Dorrian, 12 Dec 2016
UK's trade deals will continue after voting Leave - official
It's a long read, but it blows out of the water the last remaining terror story from the Government and Remain campaign.
Voters can now vote for leaving the EU with confidence.
Anna Firth is a councillor, barrister, and school governor. She is co-chair of Women for Britain. Her article is below.
Malcolm is Chair of SKEO Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland, and a member of the Holyrood Forum. His article is below.
Michael Gove is Justice Secretary and the Lord Chancellor, and is a close friend of the PM. His article is below.
An independently-minded Labour MP, Kate Hoey is an experienced and respected Parliamentarian. Her article is below.
By special permission
Lord Ashcroft is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster.
Read his articles here.
By special permission
John Redwood is a former Cabinet Minister and considered an intellectual heavyweight.
His article is below.
Liz Bilney is Chief Exec of Leave.EU. This is her summary of the case for Brexit.
Read article here.
Matthew Elliott is Chief Exec of Vote Leave. He recently wrote for Open Democracy.
Read article here.
CfB Brexit budget manifesto, promoting "Post-Brexit prosperity not austerity".
Manifesto PDF here.
Extraordinary official anti-EU views of pro-remain Business Minister, Sajid Javid
Read article here.
MARTIN HOWE QC, AND COLLEAGUES - Eminent EU lawyers and Founders of Lawyers for Britain
Brexit and International Trade Treaties

One consequence of the UK’s membership of the EU is that many aspects of the UK’s external relations are now conducted partly or wholly through the EU. As a result of Brexit, the UK would be able to re-assume direct control of its external relations, including trade relations.  The pro-Remain camp has suggested that Brexit would result in years of uncertainty while the UK renegotiates its international trade arrangements.

This contention is not supported by the facts and evidence, as we explain in more detail in this research below:

  • The UK cannot currently decide the level of tariffs which we levy on imports, because these are set at a uniform level for the EU as a whole under the EU's customs union. After exit, WTO rules would apply which would allow the UK to decide the level of our own tariffs on imports, provided that tariffs on average are no higher than under the EU customs union.

  • Again, because of the EU customs union and 'common commercial policy', the UK is not able to negotiate its own trade agreements with non-member countries - we can only do so as part of the EU. The UK will be able to participate in new trade agreements with non-member countries from the day after exit.  The process of negotiating new trade deals can be started during the 2-year notice period leading up to Brexit, with a view to bringing them into force on or soon after the date of exit.

  • The EU has existing free trade agreements which currently apply to the UK as an EU member.  Most of these EU agreements are with micro-States or developing countries and only a small number represent significant export markets for the UK.  Both the EU and the member states (including the UK) are parties to these agreements. The UK could simply continue to apply the substantive terms of these agreements on a reciprocal basis after exit unless the counterparty State were actively to object. We can see no rational reason why the counterparty States would object to this course since that would subject their existing export trade into the UK market, which is currently tariff free, to new tariffs. There will be no need for complicated renegotiation of these existing agreements as misleadingly claimed by pro-Remain propaganda.

  • The UK was a founder member of EFTA but withdrew when we joined the EEC in 1973.  We could apply to re-join with effect from the day after Brexit. There is no reason why the four current EFTA countries would not welcome us back, given that the UK is one of EFTA's largest export markets.  EFTA membership would allow us to continue uninterrupted free trade relations with the four EFTA countries, and also to participate in EFTA's promotion of free trade deals with non-member countries around the world.

  • The EU is seriously encumbered in trying to negotiate trade agreements by the large number of vociferous protectionist special interests within its borders.  After Brexit, the UK would be able to negotiate new trade deals unencumbered by these special interests much faster than the EU, and with a higher priority for facilitating access to markets for our own export industries including services.

  • It is completely untrue that you need to be a member of a large bloc like the EU in order to strike trade deals.  The actual record of the EU compared to that (for example) of the EFTA countries demonstrates the direct opposite.

  • The baseline of our trade relationship with the remaining EU states would be governed by WTO rules which provide for non-discrimination in tariffs, and outlaw discriminatory non-tariff measures. From this baseline, and as the remaining EU's largest single export market,  we would be in a strong position to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal providing for the continued free flow of goods and services in both directions.  We will explain what such a deal would look like in a later post.

The EU and the common commercial policy

The EU is a customs union, not simply a free trade area.  We will explain some of the intricacies and consequences of the difference between a customs union and a free trade area later.  But the point of a customs union is that all its members operate a single unified system of customs tariffs so that any particular category of goods will be charged the same tariff whether it enters the EU via, say, Rotterdam or via Felixstowe.

Because the external tariff wall is identical for all members, the members of a customs union need to operate as a bloc when they enter into trade agreements involving tariffs with other countries.  An agreement to reduce or get rid of tariffs on imports from another country necessarily involves the customs union as a whole.  For example, if one country in the customs union acting alone were to reduce tariffs on goods from an external country, those goods would then flow in through its ports and circulate around the whole customs union, by-passing the higher tariffs imposed at the ports of the other customs union members.

For this reason, a common external trade policy was built into the Treaty of Rome from the inception of the EEC, as a necessary counterpart of the customs union created by that Treaty.  This was called the “common commercial policy”. Under that policy, the European Commission is entrusted with the primary responsibility for negotiating trade agreements, under the supervision of the Member States acting through the Council of Ministers.  Trade agreements may then be concluded by the EEC (now the EU) in its own name, which has so-called “exclusive competence” to conclude agreements with non-member countries falling within the field of the common commercial policy.  The word “competence” here has the French legal meaning of the legal power to do something.

The WTO Agreements and “mixed competence”

In practice,  trade agreements almost always extend to cover broader subject matter than just tariffs and related matters falling within the scope of the EEC/EU common commercial policy.  Where an external agreement contains provisions which extend beyond the scope of the common commercial policy or the EU’s other powers to conclude external agreements in its own name, it is necessary for the Member States as well as the EU to be parties to the agreement.  This is called a “mixed” or “shared” competence agreement: where part of the competence to conclude the agreement belongs to the EU, but part of it remains with the Member States.

One particularly important series of agreements which involved mixed competence were the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements which were concluded in 1993 as a result of the Uruguay Round Multilateral Trade Negotiations.  This linked series of Agreements forms the bedrock of global trade.

Both the individual Member States including the UK, and the EU itself, are parties to the WTO Agreements. The respective legal powers of the EC (as it then was) and the Member States were ruled upon by the European Court of Justice in Op 1/94 Re the Uruguay Round Agreements [1994] ECR I-5267.  The Court rejected a contention by the European Commission that the EC had across-the-board competence to conclude the WTO Agreements in its own name.  Although the core provisions of the WTO Agreements relating to trade in goods fell within the EC’s exclusive competence under the common commercial policy, the Court ruled that other areas covered by the WTO Agreements relating to services (parts of the General Agreement on Trade in Services - GATS) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) were outside the EC’s competence or were areas where the EC’s competence was shared with the Member States.

The upshot of this “mixed competence” scenario is that vis-a-vis other parties, the EC/EU is responsible for compliance with, and entitled to the benefit of, certain aspects of the WTO Agreements; while the Member States individually remain responsible for, and entitled to the benefit of, the remaining aspects.  The boundary between EC/EU and Member State competences is not stationary: under the ECJ’s Lugano doctrine, the EU acquires external competence in areas where internal EU harmonisation occurs, and a significant shift in competence took place under the Lisbon Treaty which made the trade-related aspects of intellectual property part of the EU’s commercial policy.  While this fluctuating boundary line may be confusing for other WTO members, it is in general accepted by them.

However, the consequence of this after Brexit is straightforward.  The EU will cease to have any competence in respect of the UK’s trade or other external relations, and the UK will automatically assume rights and responsibilities in respect of 100% of its relationship with other members under the WTO Agreements.  In addition, trade relations between the UK and the remaining EU (“the r-EU”) will cease to be governed by the EU treaties, and will automatically be governed by the framework of the WTO Agreements - unless of course a replacement trade agreement is negotiated between the UK and the r-EU which comes into force on exit.

There is no question of the UK having to leave the WTO or to re-apply for membership. The UK is one of the original founding members of the WTO, as laid down by Article XI(1) of the WTO Agreement:
Article XI
Original Membership
1. The contracting parties to GATT 1947 as of the date of entry into force of this Agreement, and the European Communities, which accept this Agreement and the Multilateral Trade Agreements and for which Schedules of Concessions and Commitments are annexed to GATT 1994 and for which Schedules of Specific Commitments are annexed to GATS shall become original Members of the WTO.

Rights and obligations under the WTO Agreements

The WTO Agreements provide the present-day framework for global trade and contain a number of very important principles and rules, as well as a mechanism for the adjudication of disputes under the World Trade Organisation.  Resort to the WTO disputes mechanism is at present precluded to the UK in any disagreement with the EU or other Member States by Article 344 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which states that:
“Member States undertake not to submit a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaties to any method of settlement other than those provided for therein.”
One of the key principles of the WTO Agreements is non-discrimination in trade relations.  This means that WTO members are not allowed, for example, to charge different tariffs on goods imported from different countries except in clearly defined and limited circumstances.  Thus, following Brexit and assuming for the sake of argument that no trade agreement were reached between the UK and the r-EU, the r-EU would apply its standard external tariff rates to imports from the UK but would not be allowed to discriminate by charging higher rates to the UK than to other non-EU countries.  Similarly, the UK would apply its standard external tariffs to imports from the r-EU.

However, the UK would not be obliged to charge tariffs on its imports at the same rates as it is obliged to charge while it is a member of the EU customs union, and would certainly have the legal right to reduce them as it sees fit.  The EU has given a large number of commitments in multilateral trade talks not to increase its tariffs above certain levels (so-called "bound tariffs").  Because, as explained above, these commitments were given by the EU itself on a matter falling within its exclusive competence and not by the individual Member States, it is probable as a matter of legal theory that the UK after exit would not be bound by these commitments and therefore could in theory raise its tariffs above the levels of the EU's bound tariffs.

But it is in practice very unlikely that the UK would wish to raise tariffs after exit, except perhaps in some narrow and exceptional circumstances.  As a global trading nation, the UK has a strong interest in the general reduction of tariff levels around the world and would certainly not wish to act in way which would be against the spirit if not the letter of the WTO Agreements. Under Article XXIV of GATT 1994, when a customs union is formed its overall weighted average of tariffs needs to be the same as or lower than the weighted average of tariffs of its component states,  and the UK would certainly wish to apply a  similar principle when it leaves; i.e. to keep its average tariffs the same as or lower than under the EU’s current tariff regime.

This is an important point.  The UK would be under no obligation to maintain its tariffs at the same level as it is currently obliged to impose under the EU customs union. In many cases EU tariffs are set at high levels in order to protect industries in other parts of the EU where the UK has little or no domestic industry to protect,  such as textiles and clothing, shoes and many kinds of heavily protected agricultural produce. In these cases the UK receives no benefit but pays twice over for the privilege of protecting foreign industries from lower cost competition in the world market:  our consumers pay higher prices than they need for the products concerned, and on top of that and to add insult to injury, we have to pay over the tariffs collected at our ports to the EU as part of its so-called "own resources".

One astonishing aspect of the recent Treasury study purporting to demonstrate the economic disadvantages of leaving the EU is its assumption that the UK post Brexit would continue to levy tariffs on imports at the same levels as those imposed under the EU customs union, so needlessly punishing our own consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices than available on world markets.  It would be a clear and unequivocal benefit of leaving the EU to have the right to set tariffs at levels which suit our own circumstances and probably, as a nation with a bias to free trade, reducing them in many cases.

As a lawyers' group, we do not feel qualified to attempt to quantify this potential benefit in money terms but point to the study published by Prof Patrick Minford and others which suggests that leaving the EU and adopting a liberal tariff and trade policy will decrease prices and boost GDP.

Under Article XXIV paragraph 5 of GATT 1994, members of the WTO are entitled to form customs unions or free trade areas and to abolish tariffs between themselves without this being regarded as discriminatory against other countries.  The EU is a customs union.  After Brexit, the UK could therefore maintain a zero tariff regime in both directions between itself and the r-EU either by continuing to belong to the EU customs union or by entering into a free trade agreement.

According to the latest figures (2014, ONS “Pink Book”) the UK exported £147.7bn worth of goods to the r-EU but imported £226.5bn.  This indicates that the imposition of tariffs on bilateral trade between the UK and the r-EU after Brexit would be very substantially more painful for r-EU exporters than for UK exporters, were it allowed to occur.

However, we will deal with the likely terms of a UK-EU post-Brexit trade agreement, including the alternatives of satying in the customs union or staying in a free trade area, in a later posting in this series.  For now we will concentrate on the UK's post-Brexit trade relations with non-EU states.

The EU’s Free Trade Agreements and the UK

The EU has concluded a number of free trade agreements with non-member States.  These provide for the elimination of tariffs on trade in most goods, and typically also seek to eliminate or at least reduce non-tariff barriers.  A number of these agreements provide for free trade in services as well as goods.

For the reasons explained above about ‘mixed competence’, the EU Member States (including the UK) are normally parties to these free trade agreements as well as the EU itself.  This has important implications when it comes to Brexit, as we shall explain.

Taking for example the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement concluded in 2011,   both the EU itself and the Member States are parties to the treaty with the Republic of Korea.  The definition of the Parties in Article 1.2 refers to the “mixed competence” explained above:  the ‘EU Party’ is defined as ‘the European Union or its Member States or the European Union and its Member States within their respective areas of competence as derived from’ the EU Treaties.

The substantive obligations in the agreement are expressed to apply between the Parties.  Thus, for example, the obligation in Article 2.5 to eliminate customs duties states that “each Party shall eliminate its customs duties on originating goods of the other Party in accordance with its Schedule included in Annex 2-A.”  The FTA also contains mutual obligations regarding freedom to provide services, intellectual property and other matters.

There would be no difficulty in the UK continuing to comply with the substantive obligations of this FTA after Brexit; and Korea on a reciprocal basis would have no difficulty continuing to apply these substantive provisions both to the UK and the r-EU.  This step would not require any renegotiation of the substantive provisions of the FTA:  all that would be needed would be a statement by the UK that it intended after Brexit to continue to operate the terms of the FTA between itself and Korea, and an acknowledgement by Korea that it would likewise continue to do so.

There are also procedural provisions in the FTA which involve bilateral joint committees or bilateral disputes and arbitration procedures between the EU and Korea.  Clearly it would not be appropriate for the UK to continue to be represented by the European Commission or other EU organs in its relations with Korea after Brexit, so these would need to be operated on a bilateral UK/Korea basis in respect of the UK’s obligations under the FTA.

In order to provide for the smooth and continued flow of trade in both directions on Brexit, no new FTA or renegotiation of the substantive terms of the EU-Korea FTA would be necessary.  All that would be required would be a simple acknowledgement by the UK and Korea that they would continue to operate its substantive terms on a mutual basis until further notice, and to set up bilateral UK/Korea machinery to mirror the bilateral EU/Korea machinery of the FTA.  It is likely that after Brexit the UK would wish to go further and both strengthen and deepen existing FTAs such as the one with Korea and negotiate new FTAs with other parties; but this longer term process would in no way prevent the rolling over of the terms of the existing EU FTAs into UK FTAs.

Korea could in theory object to the rolling over of the FTA in this way, but it is impossible to see what conceivable reason it would have to do so.  If Korea were to bring to an end the existing free trade relationship between itself and the UK as an EU Member State, it would result in the renewed imposition of tariffs on Korea’s goods exports to the UK, which are substantial and include cars and electronic goods.

We have taken the EU-Korea FTA as an example, but very much the same points would apply to the EU’s other FTAs (which normally include the UK and Member States as treaty parties as well as the EU for the reasons explained above).  In fact, this kind of “rolling over” of treaty obligations is a familiar process in international law.  It happens in cases of “State succession” where an existing State splits and the component parts wish to continue existing treaty relationships with other States.  For example, when Czechoslovakia split into the separate states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 31 December 1992, both new States agreed to assume and continue to honour the treaty obligations of the former State of Czechoslovakia, and other States and international bodies accepted the succession as being effective,  where necessary agreeing new machinery for the separate representation of the two new States.

The exit of the UK from the EU is not legally a case of State succession. As explained above, the UK will reassume the full powers of its existing Statehood by re-assuming rights and responsibilities for its own international relations in areas at present where its interests are represented via the EU.  However, the practical issues involved are very similar and there is a similar mutual interest in preserving the continuity of existing treaty arrangements, particularly those which affect day-to-day existing trade, unless there is some good and concrete reason for changing those arrangements.  It follows that the international counterparties to the existing EU FTAs will almost certainly follow general State practice in State succession cases and accept the rolling over of FTA arrangements so that they continue to apply to the UK after Brexit.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

The UK was a founder member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) when it was formed in 1960.  EFTA operated as a free trade area in Europe alongside the EEC and contained, in addition to the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal.  In 1973, the UK and Denmark joined the EEC and as a result withdrew from EFTA.

As explained above, the EEC is a customs union and it is not possible for individual member states who are within a customs union to belong to a free trade area with external countries: it is necessary for the customs union as a bloc to belong to a free trade area.  It was clearly not desired for the UK and Denmark to terminate their free trade relationship with the other EFTA states when they joined the EEC in 1973, and the solution adopted was for the EEC as a whole to enter into free trade agreements with the remaining EFTA states.  This preserved the free-trade relationship between the UK and Denmark and the other EFTA states, and indeed expanded it so the EFTA members also came into free trade relations with the other EEC Members (the original Six).

Sweden, Austria and Portugal also subsequently joined the EEC and as a result withdrew from EFTA, although preserving their free trade relationships with the EFTA states as a result of the bilateral free trade agreements between the EEC and the remaining EFTA countries.  EFTA now consists of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  As regards 3 of those States, the European Economic Area Agreement (to which the EU and the EU Member States are parties) now largely regulates free trade relations between those three states and between them and the EU.  However, Switzerland declined to join the EEA and as a result the trade relations  between itself and the other EFTA States are still governed by the EFTA agreement (now revised and known as the Vaduz Convention).

In the event of a Brexit decision, it would be logical for the UK to apply for readmission to EFTA in advance of Brexit, with a view to its membership taking effect immediately upon EU exit.  There seems no reason why the four current EFTA states should not welcome such an application. The EU and its Member States are not parties to the EFTA convention and would have no say over such an application for membership.  The immediate effect of the UK joining EFTA upon Brexit would be to preserve the existing free trade relations between the UK and the EFTA states, avoiding the risk of, say, Swiss exports into the UK being subjected to tariffs (and vice versa).  Notably, in 2013, the UK was Switzerland’s fifth most important export market in the world (Swiss official website), while the UK was Norway’s single most important trading partner receiving 25% of Norway’s total exports in that year (Norway official website).

The revised EFTA convention (the Vaduz Convention) extends beyond free trade in goods, and includes provisions on free trade in services and the free movement of capital and of persons. None of these should be problematical to the UK given that the Vaduz Convention only applies between its members and so would not act as a gateway for the free movement of persons from the r-EU or elsewhere.  All four EFTA states have standards of living comparable to or even higher than the UK so do not present any mass migration risk.

Rejoining EFTA would have an importance beyond direct trade relations between the UK and the EFTA states.  This is because in addition to facilitating and deepening free trade between its own members, EFTA also facilitates free trade relations between itself and other countries. In this regard, EFTA has been notably more successful than the EU, contrary to the mythology being peddled in pro-Remain quarters who claim, contrary to the facts and objective evidence, that it is beneficial to belong to a large bloc like the EU in order to forge trade agreements with other countries.

In fact, it is a positive barrier to the successful conclusion of free trade agreements to belong to the EU.  As recently as 26 April 2016, El Pais reported that France and a group of other EU Member States are pressing the EU Commission to delay the restart of the already heavily delayed free trade talks between the EU and Mercosur, the Latin American bloc which includes Brazil and Argentina.  Their concern is the potentially harmful effects of free trade on some sectors of EU agricultural producers who would be exposed to competition from South American producers.

Similarly,  the long drawn out EU-USA attempts to negotiate a Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been severely hampered by France's requirement that the EU should insist on the French film industry being shielded from open competition from Hollywood.  Since Hollywood is on the USA's most important export industries,  this and other protectionist demands have caused severe problems in progressing the talks and it is far from clear that the EU will ever be able actually to conclude a free trade agreement with the USA.

As a consequence of the EU's lack of success in negotiating free trade agreements with major export markets, the EU’s trade agreements are heavily skewed towards agreements with less developed countries, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, and a large number of micro-states (Map of EU FTAs).  They may be worthwhile for reasons other than trading self interest, for example to assist in the development and political stabilisation of these countries, and for those reasons the UK may well wish to continue the free trade arrangements after exit.  But as regards significant export markets, the EU has only concluded its agreement with Korea in 2011 and has only just reached an agreement with Canada after years of negotiation.

By contrast, EFTA has been notably successful in reaching agreements with large and growing export markets around the world (EFTA Free Trade Map), and has ongoing negotiations with major and growing export markets such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

By rejoining EFTA, the UK would be able to seek the extension of existing EFTA FTAs to itself, and also to give a large positive impetus in collaboration with its EFTA partners to forging new agreements and extending existing free trade agreements particularly in the area of trade in services.
Martin Howe is a leading QC specialising in EU law. He and his eminent colleagues form the 'Lawyers for Britain' group.
30 May 2016   [Source: By kind permission, Martin Howe and colleagues]
ANNA FIRTH - Co-Chair of Women for Britain
Seven reasons why women should vote to leave the European Union

Women will decide the outcome of the EU referendum. Double the number of women as men still haven’t decided how they are going to vote. Add to this the fact that there are 1.7 m more women eligible to vote in in the UK and it is clear that just as in Scotland women will seal the fate of the UK one way or the other!

I’ve spoken to masses of women, whilst leafletting, at street stalls, rallies etc, and it’s very noticeable that women want to know how Brexit will affect jobs, the economy, women’s rights, security, essential public services and whether they will be better off in or out of the European Union.

There are many reasons why leaving the EU will be better for women:

Long-term health of UK economy demands that we leave EU and a healthy economy brings infinitely better prospects for women just as it does for men:
Many countries in the Eurozone are experiencing dire youth unemployment. There is a lost generation in countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Not surprisingly, many of those young people are coming to the UK to find work. We do not want our children to face a similar prospect by staying in the EU and becoming more integrated with, and regulated by, a group of countries with declining economies. If we broke away from the single market, we would be able to trade freely with the rest of the world where are our exports are growing whilst continuing to trade with Europe by being member of EFTA. Businesses would flourish producing more jobs, more investment and more wealth. We will have more trade deals and so our economy will grow faster making us all better off.

Better rights and protections for women:
Contrary to what we are led to believe by the Remain campaign, Britain has led the way when it comes to women’s rights and protections. For example, if you have a baby in the UK you are entitled to 39 weeks statutory maternity pay compared to only 14 weeks in other EU member states. The first Equal Pay Act was pioneered by our first female Minister of State, Barbara Castle. We passed the Abortion Act, the Divorce Reform Act and made the contraceptive pill free on the NHS all long before we joined the EU. We then went on to pass the Sex Discrimination Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Employment Protection Act. The UK is years ahead of the EU when it comes to protecting women’s rights. Voting to stay in the EU risks our stronger maternity rights being watered down as the EU seeks to harmonise worker’s rights across the whole EU block.

More money for schools and the NHS:
The UK sends more than £350million every week to the EU, over £18 bn a year, money that could be spent on new schools and classroom facilities. The EU’s rules on free movement are placing unprecedented pressure on our schools. Last year 84,000 pupils missed out on their first choice of secondary school and by 2024, only 8 years away, 900,000 more school places are needed. If we came out of the EU we could start building the new Schools we need and which will be vital to educate the next generation. We could also invest more in our NHS which is nearing crisis point.

Lower prices:
Being part of the single market means that we have to impose EU tariffs on goods that we import from countries outside of the EU, thus driving up prices. The Common Agricultural Policy, in particular, is designed to artificially inflate food prices by helping to subsidise inefficient farmers in France, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere. For example, New Zealand lamb is 18% more expensive in the UK then it is in the USA due to EU policies. On average a family of 2 adults and 2 children would save £45 a month on their food bill if we came out of the EU. Similarly, utilities and petrol would also come down as we would no longer be bound to contribute to Brussels' European Trading Scheme and Carbon Price Floor which dramatically increases families’ energy bills. EU regulations cost our businesses a staggering £600million per week, which is passed on to the consumer.

Cheaper car insurance:
Due to a decision of the Luxembourg European Court of Justice it has been illegal from January 2013 for UK car insurers to offer women cheaper car insurance even though the evidence clearly shows women have fewer major accidents. If we come out of the EU in June we can stop the current situation where women are subsidising reckless male drivers and restore the long-held UK insurance practice of offering women cheaper car insurance.

Better health:
The UK sends more than £350 million every week to the EU, over £19 billion a year, money that could be spent on new schools and classroom facilities. The EU’s rules on free movement are placing unprecedented pressure on our schools and maternity units. Last year 84,000 pupils missed out on their first choice of secondary school and by 2024, only eight years away, 900,000 more school places will be needed. In addition, last year nearly half of all maternity units were forced to close their doors five times on average, and for up to three days, due to demand. If we came out of the EU we could start building the new schools we need to educate the next generation. We could also invest more in our NHS, which is nearing crisis point.

More available housing:
We have a huge shortage of housing, partly as a result of uncontrolled migration which has made the UK one of the most populated countries in the world per square mile. This means having to make difficult decisions as to whether to build on the greenbelt or increase density. Young people would be able to get onto the housing ladder more easily if the UK leaves the EU and controls migration better.

“Women are the most important group of swing voters in the EU referendum campaign.”
Anna Firth is a councillor, barrister, and school governor. She is co-chair of Women for Britain.
30 May 2016   [Source: By kind permission, Anna Firth]
MALCOLM WARR, OBE - Chair of SKEO Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland, and a member of the Holyrood Forum.
The family of Europe at a crossroads

Over the years, the EU project has had its ups and downs, with euphoric moments ranging from the celebration of nations coming together through the EU integration process to other painful moments of living through an economic crisis and, more recently, the mass scale migration phenomenon that has made Europe once again question its core values.

As Europeans, we now find ourselves at a crossroads. The stakes are very high. How do we deliver new achievements to keep our citizens and businesses engaged within the EU project or from outside? As we approach the halfway term of the Juncker Commission, and just weeks away from a Referendum vote by the United Kingdom, I have carried out a personal Head and Heart review of our prospects in these offshore islands of leaving the EU or staying in as a reforming leader of the community.

On the EU side, pundits parade that the EU investment plan has been launched and the instruments aimed at re-boosting investment have started functioning. They refer to the energy union and economy packages which attempts to make Europe more energy independent and to address climate change issues.

They reference the capital market union which aims to facilitate cross-border investment and to improve access to finance and the banking union which seeks to improve governance in the banking sector to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis and to cement the Eurozone.

But they do not refer to the Sterling or to the other EU states which are not part of the Eurozone, despite the fact that Brexit campaign has estimated that the business regulation that pours out of Europe as part of this path towards capital market and banking unions costs the British economy £600M a week. And further, Brexiteers draw attention to the fact that the EU is planning more regulation to cripple London with more hostile regulation and the proposed financial transaction tax.

Brussels seems unable to recognise that the measures so far have been a serious drag on productivity and growth for many small businesses especially in the United Kingdom.

Yet further integration is promised.

Within the EU the single market and digital market strategies have been published and legislative proposals are in the process of being rolled out in the weeks and months ahead. And the EU trade policy which embeds further union is seen by many EU adherents as the best mechanism to provide for more market access to European businesses and to further contribute to economic growth.

Finally, many on the Continent believe that the EU social rights legislation sets the tone for Europe to have strong social values and they set the standard on a global level. Logically, they believe that for these reasons that the governments of member states, the social partners, sectoral stakeholders and citizens at large should contribute towards an EU legislative process which predominates over Sovereignty.

In other words more centralisation not devolution.

And rather than accept that a policy is failing, many EU enthusiasts believe that a lack of pan Europe solutions, such as how to share the burden of internal migrant-allocation fairly, will give rise to national sentiments that can eventually jeopardise the whole EU project.

The arguments on all of the above go back and forth.

For me the choice is stark. The UK can continue to stay within the EU with all the concomitant outcomes of the above and for which, the future is uncertain or the UK can leave, forge new relationships with Europe and the Rest of the World, and become a trading partner globally with other but equally pertinent risks but which we can ameliorate ourselves.

But there is another factor, which has not been debated: That is Culture and ethos.

A few years ago, I led a business team to put together a series of proposals to reinvigorate the management of the loss making Skaramanga ship building and repair yard in Greece and at the same time put in place an organisation, procedures and efficiencies which would enable that yard to build and maintain German designed submarines. It was apparent very early on that the culture, methods of operation and work ethic in Germany were very different from those practised in Greece. I might add that as time passed, it was also clear that neither the Germanic way of doing business nor the almost contrary approach by the Greeks was entirely right or wrong. But it proved impossible to combine the best of North European style with the working philosophy of the Southern Europe yard and blend it into a competitive position on the world stage.

There has been a lot of talk about EU bureaucracy but the crucial issue for me is can European folk work together in the long term for common good and benefit, properly sharing risk and rewards.

My conclusion is they cannot and are unlikely to do so effectively for the foreseeable future.

Mr Winston Churchill speaking in Zurich on the I9th September 1946 said “It is to re-create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom.” But he recognised that over time, the traditional structure of a family has to adapt to very influential changes, including death, divorce and the departure of siblings to create their own lives and other disagreements. Sometimes later, some come together again. Others go their separate ways. Some to failure; some to fame.

It will be a rocky road if we depart the EU. But UK citizens have a proud history of resilience, innovation, industry and global partnering. All we need is the confidence to do it differently within the family of Europe. We need to keep our head and play the game.

Malcolm Warr is Chair of SKEO Associates Edinburgh, Scotland. Also Chairman, TranZparency Group, New Zealand, and Member of Holyrood Forum, Scotland.

[Source: Article commissioned for, 30 May 2016 ]
1. MICHAEL GOVE - A long article for the Daily Telegraph but worth reading
Unfortunately we've had to delete this article and replace it with a link, as we can't afford to pay any organisation for syndication rights. Here's the link: Michael Gove's article, The Daily Telegraph 20 Feb 2016 ]
2. KATE HOEY - An article she wrote for the Daily Telegraph about Government bias.
Unfortunately we've had to delete this article and replace it with a link, as we can't afford to pay any organisation for syndication rights. Here's the link: Kate Hoey's article, The Daily Telegraph, 29 Feb 2016
This is the first in a short series of articles we'll be publishing by kind permission of Lord Ashcroft. Shortly we'll look at the fascinating polls he has conducted across the EU and beyond about attitudes of Europeans to the EU, to the UK, and to the prospect of Brexit.

Why not take Lord Ashcroft's poll at the end and see where you score?
"What kind of referendum voter are you?
My referendum polling has found seven different kinds of voter, from those who are sure they’ll vote to leave to those who are sure we should remain.
  • A quarter of us are Nothing to Lose voters, who think Britain is on the wrong track, are worried about immigration, and think we should definitely go.
  • One in seven are in the Global Britain group – who are optimistic for the UK, believe staying in the EU is a bigger risk than leaving, and think we’d do better in the global economy outside the EU.
  • One in five are Hard-Pressed Undecideds, who worry about their own prospects but are not sure whether problems like immigration will be dealt with better inside or outside the EU.
  • One in seven are in the Listen to DC group – they’re undecided how to vote but think leaving sounds like a bigger risk than staying, and could be persuaded by a strong lead from the PM.
  • One in eight of us are in the If It Ain’t Broke group – believing we won’t be able to solve problems like immigration whether we’re in or out, so might as well avoid the risk of changing.
  • Just over one in ten are in the I’m Alright Jacques group – they’re happy with life, optimistic for Britain, positive about immigration, and think leaving would be too big a risk.
  • The remaining tenth of the population are Citizens Of The World – the most committed to staying in the EU, they value free movement and having human rights guaranteed by Europe.

What kind of referendum voter are you? Take our survey to find out."

[Source: . Reprinted by kind permission of Lord Ashcroft.]
4. JOHN REDWOOD - One of many good articles from his diary, reproduced by kind permission
Why Britain Needs Self-Government
Better and happier Europeans outside the EU

"Out of the EU the UK will have more influence in the world. We will be better off. We will regain control of our borders, our spending and our taxes. The Leave campaign is full of energy and belief – belief in the ability of the British people to govern ourselves. We believe that the twenty first century needs networks of countries, companies and individuals, requires us to look out to the five continents of the world and to collaborate and trade with the areas of greatest growth and dynamism as well as nearer to home.

Free of the treaty entanglements, taxes and controls of the EU we will be better and happier Europeans. We will be freer to join the clubs, sit at the top tables and influence for the better the main world decision making networks and associations.

Shouldn’t the UK as the world’s fifth largest economy represent herself at the World Trade talks, and do deals with like-minded countries around the world? For 43 years inside the EU we have been denied our voice and vote in the WTO by the EU, who have failed to sign trade agreements with the US – the UK’s strongest ally – and with China., India, Brazil and all the other big traders of the globe.

Shouldn’t the UK, a member of NATO and the Five Eyes intelligence grouping also be a full member of the World climate talks and the various world standards bodies? Won’t the UK as an independent country with her own voice and vote in more world bodies have more friends and allies, not fewer, as others will wish to work with us?

Out of the EU we will be able to raise our own taxes in the way of our own choosing, and be able to spend them as we see fit. Today we have to impose certain taxes including VAT, and have to spend on items like benefits in ways required by the EU that often do not meet with the wishes of UK electors. Our Prime Minister has just shown how impotent we are to make minor changes to welfare entitlements which were popular when promised in the last election.

Out of the EU we will have £10 billion more a year to spend, the money we send them and do not get back. We can guarantee to every university, farmer and region of the UK currently in receipt of EU money that they will get the same out of the EU as in, as we first have to send all that money from UK taxpayers to the EU before we get it back.

Out of the EU we will be free to have fair immigration. Today we have to restrict non EU immigration but allow unrestricted EU migration. Running our own system., we still want to welcome anyone with skills, good qualifications, money to support themselves and to invest in the UK. Our universities will still be able to attract the best talent and our businesses hire the best engineers or managers. More of our lower paid jobs will go to our own citizens, as we will be able to control numbers and ease the enormous current pressures on housing, benefits, the NHS and the rest of our public services. As the head of the Remain campaign said, our wages should go up as a result.

This is the bright vision of a better tomorrow the Leave side wants to talk about. Instead we are expected to answer an ever more desperate and absurd set of fears spread around by the people who wish to remain.

We are told we have to stay in to prevent European war. I have good news for the Remain people. Modern Germany and France are peace loving democracies who will not fight each other when we leave, nor will they seek to invade us.

We are told they won’t trade with us anymore. How bizarre, when they sell us so much more than we sell them I don’t see them wanting 5 million unemployed on the continent as they ban all exports to us. The German government have made clear that they do not want new tariffs and barriers in the way of their exports to us, so accept there cannot be new barriers in the way of our exports to them.

We are told we will have to be like Norway and pay in contributions to carry on trading. What poppycock! Over 160 countries worldwide trade successfully with the EU, and some have grown their trade with the EU more quickly than we have done – but they do not pay a penny into the EU system by way of fees. They say we no longer share intelligence and take actions to help each other remain safe. Of course if the UK learns of a terrorist plot against France it will pick up the phone and tell them, and I am sure France will do the same for the UK if need arises.

I find it is absurd that those who wish to remain in have such a low view of our partners. They think they are vengeful, and will seek to thwart us if we leave. More importantly, they think they are stupid, and will wish to do harm by damaging their own exports to us or even getting into war without us there as a stabilising influence!

Were we to stay in there will be endless more rows, as even the people who want to stay in say they do not want us to join the Euro, Schengen or the forthcoming political union which are at the heart of the present EU project. Were we to stay in we would be uncomfortable as they go on their wild ride to political union.

We would also need a second referendum quite soon after the first as the rest of them amend the Treaties in ways which trigger such a vote in the UK under our present Referendum law. We know there will soon be a new Treaty , as we have been promised Treaty change as part of the deal the government has just negotiated.

I am a good European, who thinks my continent needs to be democratic and freedom loving. Europe is not my country and never will be. I want my country to restore her own self-government. That will make us happier as Europeans. It will leave the others free to complete their currency union and political union without us.

Now is the time for the UK to do what we have always done best. Now is the time to claim back our freedom. In this referendum we must restore our democracy. We are the heirs of Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and universal suffrage. We should not want to be the people that thought freedom too difficult or self-government too risky. It is time to trust the people, not far away elites who have made so many mistakes in the name of European Union.”

5. LIZ BILNEY - Liz's Summary of the Brexit case
"In 1975, the British public voted ‘yes’ to a free trade deal with Europe.

What they didn't vote for was a 'United States of Europe'; one that would go on to crush our democracy, and in the process create a class of politicians clearly in it for themselves.

We now pay a staggering membership fee of £15 billion each year to the EU. In return, we run a massive trade deficit with Germany, France and nearly every other European country.

If 3 million UK jobs depend on our membership of the EU, then even more jobs in Europe depend on our economy.

We will always be a part of Europe. But the EU is run for big business, big banks and big politics - not for ordinary people.

We are confident that a public "in the know", will say 'no' to the EU, and vote to leave in the referendum on EU membership.

Since our 'The Know' campaign launch in August, we have gained over 400,000 followers. We recently have re-branded the campaign to '' reflecting the wording change in the referendum question and thousands of people continue to join every day.

Let’s take a stand. Together, we can win back our country!”

[Source: Leave.EU website ]
"Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave" - Matthew Elliott, 8 March 2016

Please note: This article was originally published in the independent online magazine and can be viewed in its original state here
"In less than four months’ time, the British people will make the most historic political decision of a generation. The choice we face is clear. A vote to stay in will mean a permanent loss of control to Brussels and confirm the supremacy of EU law forever. A vote to leave returns control to the British people, giving us the power to make our own laws and hold the people who make them to account. We take back the power to set our own policies on trade, migration and human rights, and the power to spend our own money on our own priorities.

There are three key reasons why I think the British people will choose the safer option and vote to leave. Firstly, as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, we lack the power to decide who makes our laws or to sign our own free trade deals with our friends and partners around the world. This undermines both our democracy and our economy. Secondly, the EU’s control of our borders prevents us from adopting a humane and non-discriminatory immigration policy, which forces us to turn away some of the best talent from around the world whilst taking away our power to keep dangerous criminals out. Finally, the abject failure of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation with EU leaders in February blows apart the myth once and for all that it is possible to achieve any meaningful reform of the EU from within.

A vote to leave takes back control and stops the EU undermining our democracy and our economy

All across the UK, people have seen how we have lost control over so many areas of key national importance. Whether it is our trade, our borders, or who actually makes our laws, voters recognise that we have lost the power to make decisions on any of these matters ourselves, and that there is no way to get this back unless we vote to leave.

Those backing the in-at-all-costs campaign like to talk about the ‘influence’ Britain has in the EU, but this is nothing more than an illusion. We have tried to stop damaging laws coming from Brussels 72 times, and been voted down every single time. Eurozone countries now have a permanent qualified majority on the Council of Ministers, so we have no way of protecting ourselves from harmful laws as the EU resorts to increasingly desperate measures to attempt to stave off some of the damage inflicted by the failings of its ideologically-driven monetary union.

We have been forced to give up our seat on key international bodies like the World Trade Organisation and have had our global voice greatly diminished as a result. Instead of being able to negotiate our own free trade deals to suit the unique strengths of the British economy, we are forced to accept one-size-fits-all compromises cobbled together after long delays by EU negotiators. Far from being an advantage, the vast size of the EU is actually a major hindrance to the EU being able to secure the best deals.

It is no coincidence that the cumbersome EU has failed to secure free trade deals with many of the world’s major emerging economies – including India, China and Brazil – while Switzerland and Iceland, negotiating on their own behalf, have secured free trade deals with China with a minimum of fuss. Even when the EU does finally manage to scrape together a patchwork agreement, it will inevitably be a poor compromise which won’t be the best deal for any of its members. It is inconceivable that the one single agreement forced on the whole EU can genuinely represent the best deal for economies as diverse as Germany and Greece, or Britain and Bulgaria.

The EU costs too much and forces us to unfairly discriminate over who can come to Britain, making us less safe and worse off

One of voters’ biggest concerns is unrestricted migration from the EU. Thanks to our membership of the EU, we have lost control over our borders, and lost our ability to set a rational and humane immigration policy for ourselves. We are left increasingly out of step with the internationalised, globalised world, as the strain placed on our public services by unrestricted EU migration forces us to discriminate against the best and brightest talent from the rest of the world.

After we leave, we will take back the power to set a coherent and non-discriminatory immigration policy, suited to our place at the heart of the globalised and decentralised world economy of today. We will no longer have to turn away highly skilled workers and wealth creators from the wider world, providing a long-term boost to the strength of our economy. Furthermore, we will no longer be frustrated by the European courts in our attempts to deport dangerous criminals, whilst preventing those already convicted of crimes elsewhere from entering our country in the first place.

Another major concern for voters is the huge cost of the EU. It is no surprise that British voters are deeply concerned about the £350 million we are sending a week to Brussels, money which could be much better spent on our own priorities like the NHS, education, and medical research. The EU loses billions of pounds a year to corruption and waste, with the EU’s own auditors having failed to give its accounts a clean bill of health for two decades running.

Four decades on from when we first joined, our total contributions to the EU recently topped a staggering £500 billion. We know that this doesn’t represent anything like value for money for the British people, before even considering the indirect costs of EU regulation on top of this. The top 100 most costly EU regulations alone cost British businesses £33.3 billion a year. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the lifeblood of the British economy, overwhelmingly feel that the costs of complying with single market regulations greatly outweigh the benefits of remaining in the EU.

The failure of Cameron’s renegotiation proves that the EU is fundamentally unreformable from within

When we look back on the biggest turning points of the campaign, perhaps the biggest will be the day in February when David Cameron came home from Brussels, having asked for almost nothing, and yet somehow managing to return with even less than that. The prime minister used to talk about “fundamental, far-reaching change” in our relationship with the EU. Instead, we saw Eurocrats and our own politicians desperately trying to play up manufactured rows about utterly trivial changes to technicalities on migrant benefits and empty declarations which can be ripped up by EU judges the day after the referendum.

Other EU leaders have made it clear what they thought Cameron actually got. Chancellor Merkel was confident that she “[didn’t] think we gave the UK too much”. President Hollande was even less charitable when he said “just because it lasted a long time, does not mean much happened… [there is] no exception to the rules of the single market, no right to veto EU rules and no treaty change”. He was more than happy to confirm that “there is not a planned revision of the treaties and no right of veto with regards to the eurozone”.

This has finally put to bed the notion that it is possible to achieve any sort of meaningful reform of the EU from within. Eight out of 10 of the so-called reforms secured by the prime minister were simply restatements of the status quo. The agreement reaffirms the supremacy of the unelected and unaccountable European Commission and European Court of Justice, and does precisely nothing to address the deep-rooted problems of the EU that are making life worse for ordinary people across the continent.

The prime minister famously promised to deliver “full-on treaty change” before the referendum. He has completely gone back on this promise and left British voters with a deal that has no more legal weight than an unsigned contract. The former Director General of the EU Council’s legal service, Jean-Claude Piris, said there is “no possibility to make a promise that would be legally binding to change the treaty later”. Michael Gove, the UK Justice Minister, was clear that “the facts are that the European Court of Justice is not bound by this agreement until treaties are changed… the whole point about the European Court of Justice is that it stands above the nation states.”

The deal can be ripped up by EU politicians and judges the moment the referendum is over. The European Parliament will not be taking a vote on whether to approve the deal until after the referendum, while the European Court of Justice will also be free to tear up the agreement at the first opportunity. A range of pro-EU politicians have been wheeled out to try to convince the British people of the opposite, but history is replete with stark warnings for those gullible enough to believe that an EU promise carries the same weight as an EU treaty in the eyes of the ECJ.

As much as we would love to be able to take the EU’s promises at face value, the EU has shown time and time again that it cannot be trusted to uphold agreements it makes with member states. In a move described by Cameron himself as “absolutely extraordinary”, Tony Blair gave away a large portion of the UK’s rebate from the EU in 2005 in return for an EU promise to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. A decade on and British taxpayers are over £10 billion worse off, with the EU’s promised reforms having vanished along with our money.

The experience of Denmark provides an even starker warning, with Cameron’s claim to have secured a ‘special status’ for the UK within the EU setting alarm bells ringing from Carlisle to Copenhagen. In 1992, the Danish people were conned into thinking they had secured legally-binding reforms which granted Denmark ‘special status’ in return for signing up to the Maastricht Treaty. The ECJ has since broken this agreement with Denmark 80 times.

The British people will not be duped into believing empty promises from the EU this time round. While the government may be confused about the legal status of the deal, the European Court of Justice certainly is not. In fact, the only uncertainty we still face over the deal is whether the ECJ will break it more times than they already broke their agreement with Denmark.

British voters will not be fooled by ‘project fear’

We have no illusions about the scale of the challenge facing us. From the giant multinationals desperate to protect their vested interests and lobbying operations in Brussels to the government machine which has already been gearing up to throw its full weight behind the ‘in’ campaign, we know that there will be a vast array of establishment voices lined up to drown out those fighting for the best interests of ordinary British people.

And we know what tactic they will use, because they have only got one to fall back on: ‘project fear’. Those who want to stay in at all costs can’t make the positive case for staying in the EU because they know that the EU is damaging British business, restricting British trade, and holding back British growth. They know that the EU has created record youth unemployment in many of its member states, contributed to the rise of political extremism not seen in Europe since the 1930s, and is structurally unable to respond effectively to the range of geopolitical crises it now faces. They know that the safer option is for the British people to take back control and vote leave.

The ‘in’ campaign’s scaremongering has already started in earnest, but they have made clear that they do not even believe the scare stories themselves. Cameron has repeatedly stated that Britain would continue to prosper outside the EU, and Lord Rose, leader of the EU-funded BSE campaign, was even of the view that “nothing is going to happen if we come out... there will be absolutely no change … It’s not going to be a step change or somebody’s going to turn the lights out.”

The fact that they still persist with their doom-mongering in spite of this ultimately betrays the ‘in’ campaign’s lack of respect for British voters. They are not prepared to have a rational and reasoned debate on the issues which actually matter to voters about the EU, like the fact that we send £19 billion a year to the EU and have no say on how it is spent, or the fact that we have no choice but to accept the supremacy of EU laws made by unelected bureaucrats and judges who we cannot hold accountable for their decisions.

However, while it is disappointing, it is not at all surprising: we heard exactly the same arguments being wheeled out by more or less exactly the same people when they told us that the British economy would collapse if we did not join the euro. If we had listened to them then, we would have been sucked into one of the worst economic catastrophes of modern history. British voters will not be fooled into thinking these prophecies of doom have any more validity today – they were wrong then and they are wrong now.

The British people have been presented with a historic opportunity to take back control, restore our democracy, and return us to being a truly global and outward-looking nation. I am confident we will not waste it.”
[Source: This article was originally published in the independent online magazine and can be viewed in its original state here ]
SUMMARISED EXCERPTS from the Business Minister's "Remain" declaration
SAJID JAVID is Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the President of the Board of Trade. Note: his pro-remain statement came after Mr Cameron’s ‘renegotiations’ this year.
So these are the pro-remain Business Minister’s current views
Taken from his official and current statement:-
OVERVIEW - “My heart says we are better off out.”
“It's clear now that the United Kingdom should never have joined the European Union. In many ways, it’s a failing project, an overblown bureaucracy in need of wide-ranging and urgent reform.”
“If this year’s referendum were a vote on whether to join in the first place, I wouldn’t hesitate to stand up and say Britain would be better off staying out”.
On Mr Cameron’s ‘Reformed EU’:
“I am disappointed by the scope and scale of the reforms offered by the European Council.” … “Even fans of the EU will admit that further treaty changes are needed to fix crises such as the Eurozone meltdown.”
On our business future post-Brexit:
“I’d embrace the opportunities such a move would create and I have no doubt that, after leaving, Britain would be able to secure trade agreements not just with the EU, but with many others too.”
On Britain being stronger in or out:
“Had we never taken the fateful decision to sign up, the UK would still, of course, be a successful country with a strong economy. We would be an independent trading nation like the US, Japan, or Canada.”
On being out of EU, taking control of immigration, being independent:
“Over the years, we would have developed trade agreements with the EU and with others, all without surrendering control over immigration or our economic independence.”
On the Government’s Project Fear:
“As I’ve said before, a vote to leave the EU is not something I’m afraid of. I’d embrace the opportunities such a move would create…”
“Ignore the scare stories about a vindictive EU snubbing the UK – it simply couldn’t afford to, and an agreement letting the UK maintain its current level of access to EU markets would, eventually, materialise.”
Our interpretation:
The pro-Remain but anti-EU Business Minister seems to be telling us:
‘Our house is on fire, but we can’t call the Fire Brigade
in case they use water to put out the flames.’
Mr Javid has always been one of the strongest Eurosceptics in Cabinet. Some say that his eventual statement for ‘Remain’ was made to safeguard his job in any reshuffle after the Referendum result.
We leave you to decide.
Source: Full article published on Mr Javid’s official website. We’ve summarised his thinking under various headings using excerpts from his own article and you can read the full article here. His article was originally published in the Mail on Sunday.
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