No deal, no way

There isn’t going to be a free trade deal before we leave the EU.  Theresa May was advised as much by the civil service back in November when it became clear that there is no-where near enough time to negotiate a deal.  In any case it is not in the EU’s political interests to come to an agreement until after we’ve actually left the club so as not to encourage further euro-scepticism on the continent.

Ending free movement will not reduce migration to the tens of thousands.  The government will still have no control of the number of people leaving the country, nor the skills and experience they take with them.  In any case migration in the UK is driven by economics and the government will be in no position to risk a labour shortage and consequent rise in wages and fall in tax receipts.  Economics will take priority above migration, as it has done for each of the last seven years.

Britain is not going to become a low tax, low regulation global trading hub outside the EU.  Any such moves would be classed as fiscal and regulatory ‘dumping’ and would lead to retaliatory measures not just from the EU but the US as well.  That would cripple the global supply chain that underpins our most successful industries.   In any case the government is already spending £50 billion more than its earning, even after 7 years of austerity, and with billions more needed for education, the NHS and infrastructure investment slashing taxes is the last thing on the agenda.

Which leaves the ‘Transitional Arrangements’.   This is Teresa Mays real red line, because without it Britain will fall off the cliff edge and head first into the World Trade default rules of 20% tariffs plus whatever non-trade barriers the EU can think up.  And not just with the EU but every other major economy in the world.  Britain currently has no free trade deals of its own, they are all tied up with the Single Market and we will likewise have no time to put in place new ones. The short term economic chaos of having no transitional arrangements would be not dissimilar to that of a nation crashing out of the Euro.

So Britain will put everything into getting those arrangements, but of course it takes two to tango.  There is every incentive for the EU to drag its feet on this as it represents the single best leverage over the UK to ensure we pay the so called divorce bill.  This is the £60 billion or so they want to satisfy commitments already entered into.  In this Brexit divorce it is the equivalent of being kicked out of the marital home.  We are asking to stay in the spare room until we have got ourselves sorted, and the EU is saying no chance unless we pay the mortgage.  In the end we’ll pay up because the alternative is even more expensive.

This is the reality and is why the British people should be DEMANDING to have the final say on the Brexit deal.  Without it the Tories are under absolutely no obligation to tell the truth.  Every time a voter complains about our stance on Brexit ask them if they would ever sign divorce papers without knowing who gets the house or access to the kids?  No matter how you voted on Brexit, its just common sense to have the final say.

* Tobie Abel is a software designer and PPC for Richmond Yorks. He joined the party in 2013

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  • @ Tobie Abel
    “In any case migration in the UK is driven by economics and the government will be in no position to risk a labour shortage and consequent rise in wages and fall in tax receipts.”

    A labour shortage and rising wages are good things, it is what reduced inequalities during the years of full employment. No one has yet come up with an alternative way of reducing economic inequalities. Increasing wages also means increased tax receipts.

    After Brexit the government will need to ensure companies stop importing skilled people and instead train people. Plus it will need to ensure wages in the social care sector increase to encourage UK citizens to take these jobs. It will also need to expand the training of UK citizens as doctors and nurses.

    Higher wages and barriers to importing labour will also encourage companies and farmers to invest in new machinery to do the manual jobs currently done by imported labour. And this will increase UK productivity.

    The question is really would a Conservative government take these necessary steps to ensure that the UK can cope with Brexit and ensure that conditions for those who feel left behind are improved and not worsened by Brexit.

  • Michael Cole 11th May '17 - 12:33pm

    The reality of Brexit consequences is slowly dawning on the British electorate. But will it be strong enough by 8 June ?

  • David Evershed 11th May '17 - 12:36pm

    For many years Lib Dem policy was to have a referendum to decide membership once and for all.

    That’s what we had last June. The people voted to leave.

    Any further choice is between the different ways to leave – primarily between what we negotiate with the other EU countries and leaving under World Trade Organisation arrangements.

  • Michael Cole 11th May '17 - 12:44pm

    @Michael BG: “A labour shortage and rising wages are good things, it is what reduced inequalities during the years of full employment.”

    With respect, your argument is fallacious. Rising wages are inflationary, so that any short-term gain is cancelled out by rising prices.

    Furthermore, real wages may increase in times of full employment but they can also go down in hard times, as is evidenced by the current squeeze.

  • Michael Cole,
    The reality is most voters have moved on. The 48% has pretty much evaporated, the predictions of doom have proven to be a little hysterical and the main thing people are realising is that the EU is not actually very powerful.

  • nvelope2003 11th May '17 - 1:07pm

    Glenn: We have not left the EU yet and you have clearly not been listening to the worries of many businessmen about what will happen when we do.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th May '17 - 2:03pm

    Tobie writes a very intelligent article , far better than just the too often seen miseryfest, based on polemic , it has analysis .

    All a bit worrying to say the least however 1

  • Alan Depauw 11th May '17 - 2:04pm

    A transitional arrangement would be a poor second best deal. The problem with it, of course, is that it would be temporary. Whilst short-term foreign investors might continue acquiring bargain-basement British assets, long-term ones, including re-investors, would shy away.

    The best arrangement is to remain in the single market- as promised by Brexit leaders in the run-up to the referendum. It would enable, at least in part, the funding of Lib Dem spending commitments, because remaining in the market would generate substantially more economic growth than leaving.

    In contrast, Labour has submitted itself to May’s decision to follow a hard Brexit route. That is why its own spending commitments are ridiculous; as impossible for an increasingly impoverished nation to finance.

    The Tories are offering only one kind of Brexit: removal from both the single market and the customs union. They know the consequences of their chosen route which is why they are demanding the absolute power needed to cut public spending at will.

    The real choice, at least in this election, is between staying in the single market to have a strong and stable (sorry!) base on which to build a prosperous future, or the hard Brexit decided by Theresa May to reduce ourselves to an off-shore tax haven fit only for the very rich.

  • @David Evershed
    ‘That’s what we had last June. The people voted to leave.’

    Sorry David but last June’s referendum was a farce.
    I can understand and respect a well reasoned, well informed, argument. ‘For’ or ‘Against’ the EU. I don’t think was what we got.

    When did anybody mention this 60 billion euro exit bill. I work out that is about £3100 for every family in the UK. Send me the bill, I will forward it Ian Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson or Michael Gove. Maybe Glenn could pay it for me.

  • Ethicsgradient 11th May '17 - 2:29pm

    As I said many months ago, initially after the referendum result. If There had been a 2nd referendum on the issue, the result would have been a bigger win for Leave. For the following reasons:

    1. Fundamentally the UK signed up to the EEC/EC/EU for trade reasons only and not the political aspect. Most never brought into the ‘European dream’

    2. There was no bregret feeling in the country. A good media story, a few teafrul people on the TV, nearly all were happy wit the choice they had made.

    3. `there was a significant portion of voters who voted remain reluctantly. They did not like the EU but thought it was best for the economic of the country. Since then the world has not collapsed, the doomsday forecasts have proved to be wrong. These are voters who the Lib Dems are targeting but as seen by the polls so far, are failing to convince.

    My reading of the country on Brexit is that the country has by and large (ok I assume the feeling is a bit different in some areas of London) settled on the idea that we will leave the EU and will look to make the best of the future. Some see opportunities in the changes. Others pragmatically will look for other sources and markets.

    As suggested above the 48% evaporated. I don’t really think an angry 48% was ever there. There is an angry vocal minority who cannot accept that they are somewhat out of touch with where the majority are.

    If this were not the case we would be seeing large surges in the Lib Dem support. That is not showing in the polls so far.

  • Ethicsgradient – I agree. Current LD policy betrays an inability to accept that the country has already decided to leave. It suggests that choosing to stay in the EU is still a live option – but to Leavers, and many Remainers who respect democracy, this option has been voted out already. Current LD policy is exactly equivalent to not respecting what the referendum vote was for, and wanting to re-run the question. This is what enrages some voters so much and explains why LD is scoring so low in the polls. When you say, “Every time a voter complains about our stance on Brexit, ask them if they would ever sign divorce papers without knowing who gets the house or access to the kids?”, you are missing the point that the answer is YES – the country has already decided that they will indeed sign the divorce papers, regardless of the financial/child arrangements. Leaving is not contingent on the deal. It is meaningless to talk about a “final say”. That is to re-run the question. We’ve already had the final say on our membership. The Lib Dem party is behind the curve here and needs to catch up with where the rest of the country is. On the deal itself, the country has already decided to move out of the marital home – it is not being kicked out. It has decided it is happier living in a tent if necessary, until it has sorted out something more permanent. If the temporary offer of the spare room comes on decent terms, great, but we’re not so desperate that we’ll pay anything that’s asked.

    I say all this as a long-time Lib Dem voter who voted Leave, in the spirit of trying to explain how things look from the Leave side of the fence. I am pro-European, just not pro-EU as currently constituted. I entirely agree that the referendum was poorly run, but most Leavers had already made up their minds years ago, especially after Maastricht. We would love to see the Lib Dems “get with the script”, accept that we are definitely leaving the EU and roll out a vision for a Liberal Brexit. Please read Brendan O’Neill in the Spectator. The country is crying out for a decent alternative to a May Brexit and no-one is offering it.

  • PJ and Nvelope,
    I’m just pointing out the reality that people have moved on and the sky has failed to fall in. It’s a lost cause and not a big vote grabber.

  • Glen,

    The reality is no matter how much you want Brexit to go away, it can’t. You will have to live with the consequences and I fear a lot of brave Brexiteers will be rather dismayed as they pop up. Never fear however I’ll be around to tell you how foolish you have been after all if we don’t learn from our mistakes how will we learn.

  • Great analysis by Tobie setting out the reasons why we should strive to get a referendum on whatever May and Davis bring back – and illustrating why she’s calling the election now to get an insurance policy of five years power when the going (and it will) gets rough when people wake up.

    As a former candidate in Richmond, (1983)Very best wishes to Tobie for a great campaign in a very beautiful (and for me ancestral) part of the world. 28% to beat, Go for it, Tobie. Good Luck and regards to Angela !!.

  • Yeovil Yokel 11th May '17 - 4:49pm

    Glenn / Ethicsgradient – today we’ ve seen the second of two opinion polls published within the last fortnight or so (sorry, I don’ t how to provide a link) stating that a small majority now think that voting to Leave was a mistake; this suggests that, far from the “48% pretty much evaporating” (sic), the number of people prepared to acquiesce in Brexit is falling instead.
    Annebel – if you are “pro-European, just not pro-EU as currently constituted”, what change did you hope would benefit Europe and the UK by voting to Leave?

  • Ethicsgradient 11th May '17 - 5:04pm

    Yeovil Yokel,

    I take what you say. And think it is valid. I think what you have on these polls is a ‘shy’ leave vote (like the why Tory vote) that does not get picked up by the polls. That though is based on a hunch rather than anything credible.

    Saying that though there is sign in the national polls of a big angry remain vote surging to support the lib Dems (which I think you would see if the was still and angry 48%)

  • ‘There is every incentive for the EU to drag its feet on this as it represents the single best leverage over the UK to ensure we pay the so called divorce bill. ‘

    The one thing that the EU is desperate for above everything else and that is money.
    If the so called divorce / blackmail bill is anything close to £ 60 billion hopefully we will smile & say goodbye with the EU receiving zilch.

  • David Becket 11th May '17 - 5:22pm

    @Annabel and others
    The Lib Dem web site indicates what the Lib Dem version of Brexit would look like, and we have not seen the manifesto yet.

    If we got this Lib Dem Brexit then the second referendum is likely to support it:


    Key issues for negotiation
    Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens
    Those who have made the United Kingdom their home should be allowed to stay. We will seek to secure the same for UK citizens living in European Union countries.

    Freedom of Movement and the Single Market
    Any deal negotiated for the United Kingdom outside the European Union must include membership of the Single Market and protect freedom of movement.

    Maintaining environmental standards
    We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change. We will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law.

    Law enforcement and judicial co-operation
    We must maintain maximum cooperation to ensure criminals are pursued quickly and effectively.

    Protection of Erasmus, investment in our universities and research networks
    We should do everything we can to protect Erasmus, as well as other EU funded schemes increasing opportunities for young people. We will campaign to sustain the levels of investment in UK universities and their associated research networks.

    Travel and tourism
    We must make every effort to ensure that we retain ‘soft’ traveller benefits such as the European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports.

    British industries
    The City of London must retain full rights in EU financial markets. We must also protect the support provided by the European Union to domestic industries such as farming, tourism and the creative industries, as well as regional support for deprived areas.

  • Peter Watson 11th May '17 - 5:42pm

    @Ethicsgradient “I think what you have on these polls is a ‘shy’ leave vote (like the why Tory vote) that does not get picked up by the polls. That though is based on a hunch rather than anything credible.”
    Actually it’s based on the result of the Referendum which is something pretty credible!
    I voted Remain but placed my first (and only) ever bet (£100 on Brexit) because I believed that after a dismally negative Remain campaign the polling under-reported shy Brexiters. After all, when asked (implicitly) “Do you want to Remain in the EU or are you an uneducated racist” is it any surprise a lot of people decided not to own up!! 😉

  • Yeovil Yokel
    I voted to leave because my view is that the EU’s structure, and the degree of integration reached, have become bad for our law-making system, and therefore our democracy and the rule of law, within the UK. The 1972 Act allowed EU law to take effect directly within the UK, as well as obliging us to follow Directives indirectly, also within the UK. This was a huge change from the position before, where all domestic laws were made by our own Parliament – a much more significant change than is given credit by many. For a long time, from 1972-2000-ish, I’d say it was worth it on balance, for the economic and social benefits. After all, we have a say in those EU laws (although the EC and EP are unsatisfactory in democratic terms).
    However, since the introduction of the Euro, our interests and those of other non-euro countries have been slowly diverging from the Eurozone countries. Most EU policy is made now in the interests of the Eurozone countries – the EU does not know quite what to do about non-euro members. It is no longer possible, realistically, to legislate in such a way as to cater for all interests. From now on, being in is against our interests.
    In addition, by sheer passage of time and the incremental nature of EU integration, there is now proportionately too much EU legislation binding on us here, much more so than in the 1970s and 1980s. This is legislation we did not debate or vote on here, and some of it we voted against at EU level, but we are bound by it anyway. The balance is wrong. Over time, this has weakened our Parliament, which people sense is no longer where the power lies. The public have slowly but surely become alienated from Parliament and government, and apathy has set in. People feel distant from law-makers, because they are. There is insufficient accountability.
    For a democratic country of 65 million people, it has started to look ridiculous that we are not in charge of all our own laws at home. Sharing law-making with our friends is fine, but only via a system that works. The EU no longer works for the UK very effectively. It is starting to harm us and other member states. It needs reform. They don’t want to reform. Ergo, we leave and try to fashion a new relationship.

  • Peter Watson 11th May '17 - 5:52pm

    @Yeovil Yokel “today we’ ve seen the second of two opinion polls published within the last fortnight or so”
    But the graph here does not show any significant trend: there is no clear sign of either side changing their minds!

  • Peter Watson 11th May '17 - 5:53pm

    Just like that post! 🙂

  • Yeovil,
    Personally, I suspect people have just shrugged and moved on. I would point to lacklustre turnouts to pro-EU events. lack of electoral bounce and so on as evidence. I don’t believe in the shy voter argument either. I just don’t think the EU is that important to people. It certainly isn’t to me and I really only ever comment on it because I think some Remain stuff is a little exasperating and a prone to presenting wild predictions as certainties.

  • @ Michael Cole
    “With respect, your argument is fallacious.”

    What I stated is based on the facts and not feelings regarding inflation. Please look at this chart ( – Inequalities in the UK were at their lowest between 1974 and 1979. Inflation so long as earnings keep pace is good for reducing inequalities as those with large amounts of savings are adversely affected most.

    If the economy is always run to produce full employment wages will not be reduced because when there is a more demand for a produce (in this case labour) than supply, the price (in this case wages) increase.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '17 - 7:12pm

    David Becket, just one question for all of us. Had Remain won and Cameron had continued as PM for at least another 12 months and had used the ‘break’ on immigration that he had negotiated within the EU prior to the referendum, would we have supported that or campaigned against its implementation?

    I don’t think you will get anywhere near a majority in this country in favour of freedom of movement of workers.

    Does that matter? Well, it matters if your vision for the EU is of a political union.

    But is it essential for deep economic integration of the economies of the 28 + the EEA non-EU members? No.

    As Macron’s ideas man, Jean Pisani-Ferry, has written, “From a purely economic viewpoint, however, goods, services and capital can be freely exchanged in a deeply integrated market without free movement of workers, though not entirely without some labour mobility. It is also possible for capital to move freely and for banking services to be provided across borders without free movement. Free movement of workers is, thus, not indispensable for the smooth functioning of economic integration in goods, services and capital. On the other hand, some degree of labour mobility is an essential counterpart of the free flow of goods, services and capital. Firms that operate in foreign countries need to be able to transfer workers abroad, at least for temporary periods, in order to produce efficiently The four freedoms of the European single market are therefore closely economically connected, but not inalienable for deep economic integration.”

  • Richard Underhill 11th May '17 - 7:37pm

    Macron is building a list for the elections to the National Assembly. En Marche will have a lot of new members elected on the list without enough individual scrutiny by voting members of the French public.

  • @Annabel
    Like I said earlier, I can take a reasoned, well informed argument. So, I am not challenging you here but maybe you could give us some examples of the sort if laws you are talking about.

  • @ Bill Le Breton
    Good point that even free movement of workers is not necessary for the deep economic integration of the economies of EEA countries. I like the idea that workers are only transferred temporarily, I assume there would be conditions for why these workers could be transferred for a limited time. However The EEA agreement includes “the free movement of persons” ( therefore the agreement would have to be amended to remove it! According to Wikipedia we ratified our membership on 1st January 1994 I wonder if there is a process to follow to leave.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th May '17 - 11:40pm

    Yougov poll a few days ago asked the question about membership of the Single Market including freedom of movement. 51% to 26% in favour of the Single Market. People make not “like” Freedom of Movement, but most are prepared to accept it…

  • Peter Watson 12th May '17 - 12:51am

    @Andrew McCaig “Yougov poll a few days ago … 51% to 26% in favour of the Single Market”
    Full tables for that poll are at
    Browsing some of the other results, the key Lib Dem policy of a second referendum is opposed by 49% to 31% (c.f. 48% to 31% the previous week). More intriguingly, a second referendum is opposed by 33% of those who voted for Remain, 25% of those intending to vote Lib Dem in 2017, and 48% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2015.

  • Yeovil Yokel 12th May '17 - 4:45am

    Annabel – sorry for the delayed response, I’m in a different time zone. Thank you for your long explanation of why you voted to leave, but that’s not what I asked. I’m still baffled as to how you thought voting Leave would benefit Europe and the UK. You wrIte of trying to ‘fashion a new relationship’ with Europe, and bemoan Westminster’s declining influence, but you don’t say what that new relationship should look like and what role our Parliament should have in shaping and approving of it. I agree, the EU is flawed (all institutions are to some degree), but it is the only version on offer and breaking away from it will clearly harm the UK a great deal more than staying within it and trying to improve it from within. Shared sovereignty is a lot better than no voice at all within the world’s most powerful bloc.

  • Bill le Breton 12th May '17 - 7:59am

    Andrew Mc: ummmm … do you think that those polled consider single market and freedom of movement synonymous?

    Can you find a poll that asks directly about freedom of movement of workers across the 28?

    Is it not possible that single market is considered by those polled to refer to goods and services – note I also leave out ‘capital’ as something rather technical.

    There is resistance to the idea absolute freedom of movement of workers and the sale or ownership of British or formally ‘British’ companies.

    As I hope you realise I am not in favour of an heroic defeat (on the issue of Brexit) which in effect gives May her blank cheque. I still want someone to represent, articulate and campaign for a solution which might be termed ‘the softest possible departure from the EU’ or the model that is the closest possible relationships to the EU which is also an attractive solution to the demands of a two or three paced Continental Europe.

    The best conception of this that I have so far seen written up is here:

  • Bill le Breton 12th May '17 - 8:07am

    Michael BG. True. That is why existing EEA nonEU solutions eg Norway, are not quite ‘there’.

    The tragedy of the referendum taking place and taking place in 2016 is that the UK is not a ‘full’ member whilst the EU is reviewing its future between now and September Council of Ministers. From inside it could have been leading on creating The Euro Zone core and a set of countries that wished to be outside that but within a truly Continental Partnership.

  • Thank you, Tobie, a voice of reason.

    I’d like to share my explanation of the incomprehensible polls: leavers behave like the typical fraud-victim. They felt they made the right decision at the time, and, as long as they don’t see the invoice or the credit card statement, they avoid rethinking. It is always painful to face up to a mistake, especially if it based on trust in people. Accepting your mistake entails admitting to flawed reasoning and poor judgement of character. It is a painful process that takes time (beyond June 8) and needs triggering by real financial damage, which is now slowly beginning to materialize.

    Annabel is a good example: partially quite knowledgeable but in complete denial of the economic dimension. I know her principled thoughts about EU-legislation since months, but have not learned about one single EU law she wishes to abolish (or change, and how, exactly).

    The 48% have not evaporated, but many of them were pragmatic, not passionate remainers, and now see a seemingly alternative-less government completely on the other side. They are also being massively brainwashed that continued resistance is undemocratic and divisive.

    Therefore, the LibDem proposal to take another open-minded look at Brexit once specifics become visible appears to be the right offer now. But it appeals only to those fraud-victims who are already having some doubts. 4 weeks are not enough to turn public thinking completely around, but maybe enough to spread enough additional doubt.

  • Andrew McCaig 12th May '17 - 10:42am

    The question asked included Freedom of Movement as part of the Single Market deal. Of course some people will not have read it properly.. Previous surveys have tended to somewhat prioritise free trade over ending freedom of movement

  • @Bill le Breton – Agree the timing of the Referendum combined with the Conservative party’s decision to “respect the result” and move rapidly to invoke Article 50 without regard to considering other ‘Leave’ options, was misguided, particularly as the EU review timetable was known about prior to the 2015 UK elections.

    Interestingly, a more astute and rational government (the Conservatives under M. Thatcher in the 80’s?), would have played things very differently and would have ensured they were inside the tent and be better able to protect the UK’s interests. In fact I suspect Thatcher would have the UK outside the Eurozone but still at the EU/Eurozone top decision making table…

  • Andrew McCaig 12th May '17 - 10:50am

    Peter Watson,
    We have been doing residents surveys and it is true that many Remainers do not want another referendum, but a surprising number of Leavers do want one.
    If things go wrong with the Brexit negotiations most people will want another go. If they go just fine the issue will die. We are losing some votes over it and gaining others, but sticking to our distinctive policy here is absolutely key long term.

  • Roland

    ‘particularly as the EU review timetable was known about prior to the 2015 UK elections.’

    I’ve lost count of the number of years & promises by the EU for reviews,not to mention all political parties telling us the EU must change,and guess what ? nothing ever happens.

    This time around the review was promised to try & pacify electorates notably in Holland & France,now those elections are over the entire issue will be quickly forgotten.
    What needs to be understood about the EU is that political union is of far more importance to the key players than economics and that’s the way it will always be.

  • @John – Your argument is yet another confirmation that Brexit will be bad, really bad for the UK!

    If the UK is unable to exert any influence over the direction of the EU when it has a seat at the top table and, if it weren’t for Brexit, the UK would have taken on the Presidency for July-Dec 2017 then it doesn’t bode well for the UK’s ability to negotiate with the EU, firstly for a smooth exit and secondly with respect to our future relationship…

    But as you indicate, this situation would have been known to anyone who had been in (UK) government for anytime and hence for Farage, T.May etc. to even think that UK leaving could change things, is naive thinking in the extreme.

  • PJ and Arnold Kiel
    You’ve both asked for examples of EU laws I would change/abolish. I’ve been asked this before and answered, in April (not sure which thread but see extract below). Essentially, I’m happy to say that the content of most EU laws is not the problem – most are reasonable (although the way they are drafted leaves a lot to be desired). But this is to miss the point, which is the mechanism by which the shared laws are made. Extract from earlier thread below:
    “….Of course, we get a say in those laws …. and the EU is not a monster organisation, but the sad fact is that the EP has no real power and is, effectively, a fig-leaf for the EC, which generates all the laws, has all the power, and cannot be voted out.
    Even if this could all be reformed so that the system was more democratic, there would still be a huge distance between the ordinary UK voter and the EP. Our say at the EP is a small one in relative terms and, crucially, we in the UK are bound by laws made at EU level even if our country voted against them. So we have laws operating within the UK that we do not want. Even more crucially, EU law has supremacy over UK law where they conflict. This is a significant compromise on any country’s autonomy by any measure and certainly one of the UK’s size. To put it into some sort of context, Canada or the US would not dream of such an arrangement – they believe in self-determination within their own countries. ”

    I could even live with the unsatisfactory/distant aspects of EU law-making if the EU was going in a direction the UK could agree with, but it isn’t. So we need to extricate ourselves from the legal framework.
    Arnold says I am in denial about the economic impact. Not true. I feel frustrated that we weren’t asked about membership before Maastricht, as we should have come out then, when the damage would have been less. As it is, we have left it very late and the damage may be more. If the EU was a static arrangement, I would have voted to remain, but it is a dynamic project moving towards excessive integration and it is unwilling to reform. So I have chosen the lesser of two evils, for the long term.
    Yeovil Yokel – my view is that leaving will benefit the UK because we will come out of a legal framework that is no longer appropriate for us. Indirectly, it will benefit the EU because we will no longer be putting the brakes on their integration project.

  • Bill le Breton 12th May '17 - 4:52pm

    Andrew Mc C – thanks for coming back with that. Any chance of a link?

  • @Annabel
    ‘So we have laws operating within the UK that we do not want.’
    Almost specific. Come on Annabel name and shame.

  • Dave Orbison 12th May '17 - 5:25pm

    @Annabel re EU laws.

    Whilst I share your desire for improved democracy and accountability within the EU that gave rise to a ‘7/10’ as Jeremy Corbyn put it, I do not share your analysis in respect of ‘unacceptable EU laws’.

    Whilst the EU produce law via EU Directives, it is a matter for each member state to enact such directives into law. In my experience having run a chemical plant that dealt with all manner of EU legislation, it was the UK legislators that over-complicated matters not the EU. It simply isn’t fair to blame the EU for the complexity of many of this EU derived legislation.

    You were invited by a couple of LDV contributors to identify EU laws with which you disagreed as part of your reason for voting Brexit. But you have simply ducked that invitation by trying to shift the attention onto what you feel is a flawed law making body – the EU.

    But even if we were to accept your understanding of how EU law-making works and your criticisms of that this process whether you say it is flawed, undesirable or whatever, then surely you should have no problem in listing many awful laws which surely arose from such a terrible process?

    If, as you would have us believe, the law-making process in the EU so bad and so detrimental to the UK, after all these years you would expect there to be quite a long list of ‘bad laws’. Not only that but that such effects on the UK of such ‘bad laws were such that there would offset any damage to the UK that would be a consequence of Brexit.

    So again, go on please tell which laws you had in mind.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th May '17 - 12:44am

    Well said, Dave Orbison, you have effectively answered Annabel, whose ducking of the question of which EU laws she would like to change or abolish I also felt moved to note, so I hope she will be responding to you.

    I would like to make another point, Annabel. Having admitted that after all most EU laws are reasonable, you complain that the European Parliament has no real power and is, you say, ‘a figleaf for the European Council’, and, moreover, there must continue to be, you say. ‘a huge distance between the EP and the ordinary voter’. To me, one of our objectives as Liberal Democrats should be, precisely, to seek to give the European Parliament more powers, for instance to vote for officers such as, possibly, the President of the Commission, and to initiate legislation. And then we should try to ensure, certainly here if we continue membership, that there are closer links between MEPs and their own parliaments and the voters, with reports and media – especially social media – coverage of the legislative work of the MEPs and regular opportunities to question them. Perhaps while UK membership of the EU is current such reforms might be proposed through ALDE? Meantime the changing and contrary pressures within the EU may themselves bring about welcome positive developments.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th May '17 - 6:27am

    Dave Orbison is mistaken in thinking that the EU only legislates by way of Directives that the individual members then implement. The EU also legislates by passing Regulations which take direct effect without the member states doing anything. An example is the General Data Protection Regulation which comes into force on 25th May 2018 and replaces The Data Protection Directive which the UK Parliament implemented with The Data Protection Act 1998.
    But even if he were correct it is not unreasonable for Annabel or anyone else to object to a supranational body having the power to directive a sovereign nation to legislate in a particular way.

  • Dave Orbison 13th May '17 - 6:53am

    Andrew Tampion I didn’t actually say EU law only derived from EU directives. I focused on EU Directives as, from my work experience, these resulted in significant legislation that I had to address.

    I was simply trying to show that sometimes Brexiters blaming Brussels are often wrong as the ‘culprits’ are closer to home.

    That said, whatever the EU origin, I would still invite Annabel to list all the terrible legislation that in her view justified Brexit.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th May '17 - 7:21am

    But Dave your second paragraph begins “Whilst the EU produce law via EU Directives” (sic) not “Whilst the EU produces laws mainly via EU Directives” where are the qualifying words in your contribution that make it clear that there are other law making processes within the EU that do not require the member states to implement the EU decision in their own law in their own way? Since your up how about a response to my sovereignty point.

  • Dave Orbison 13th May '17 - 10:44am

    Andrew Tampion – I didn’t think I needed to explain how the EU works in detail. I assumed most readers here would know that. You seem to think that specific reference to EU directives was something rather disingenuous on my part and that I was deliberately overlooking the role of EU regulations. I am sorry to have disappoint you but I was simply responding to Annabel who originally focused on EU directives when she wrote:

    Annabel 11th May 05-51pm “The 1972 Act allowed EU law to take effect directly within the UK, as well as obliging us to follow Directives indirectly, also within the UK.”

    As to your point on sovereignty, yes, I am more than happy to address that too. I realise that for some the ‘loss of sovereignty argument’ is a deal breaker so far as the EU goes. They are fully entitled to their view and if it is for them, a non-negotiable point of principle, then I respect their point of view. In fact, I once fully supported that position myself. However, I changed my view on this with the passage of time and after seeing the many benefits that arose from EU derived legislation. I think the loss of sovereignty is a price worth paying. Incidentally, given some of the odious legislation that has come out of our Parliament in the last seven years, I have come to question the “benefits” of sovereignty even more.

    All that said, I do still believe there are aspects of the EU that need to change but again this is not sufficient to convince of the need to leave the EU.

    In any event, Annabel conceded the sovereignty argument so that was not her point. She went on to say, “by sheer passage of time…there is now proportionately too much EU legislation binding on us”. It is this specific point, one so often relied upon by those supporting Brexit, that interests me.

    So, my question remains to Annabel, what specific EU laws does she find so unacceptable as to justify leaving the EU? I am genuinely interested.

  • I think we get the picture in this debate. The points is that the human condition is always dualistic in nature, with emotion and reason playing their part. Each has to challenge the other. On this issue I feel the rational has not sufficiently played it’s part. At the end of the day Annabel and others will probable value this issue differently to me. I can respect that as long as I feel that the rational has been sufficiently examined. It is the lack of this balance which I feel so aggrieved about in the whole EU debate.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th May '17 - 9:26pm

    Dave Orbison. Annabel’s words as quoted by you refer to not only Directives but also states “The 1972 Act allowed EU law to take effect directly within the UK…” So I don’t think you are right when you say that her point was focused on EU Directives.
    That said I did not and do not intend to imply any disingenuousness on your part.

  • Dave Orbison 13th May '17 - 11:48pm

    Andrew – thanks.

  • Happy memories David! Tobie’s article is excellent and he’s working very hard in Richmond.

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