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Sunday, 5 March 2017

So, Herr Juncker, let me see if I've got this right ...

The fury from across the Channel this week at a reports that finds that the EU have no basis in law for their demand of a €60bn reverse golden handshake reveals rather more than the Berleymont apparatchiks would wish, I think.

It can't be because they didn't know that they have no basis in international law for their demands. They know as well as we do they have no lawful right to ask this of us. The weakness of their case is amply demonstrated by their demand that the matter of the exit bill is decided before any trade terms are discussed. They must also know that there is no way that Mrs May can agree a lump sum before knowing by how much the trade deal will benefit or disbenefit us.

On the other hand, Mrs May has clearly signalled her fall-back position; we leave without a deal on WTO terms, our contributions stop in March 2019, and we use our rights under international law to reclaim our assets; unlike the EU's spurious claims, our reclaiming our investments such as the €40bn we've put into the European Investment Bank will be enforced. And yes, WTO terms will hurt our GDP, but the lump sum we win back plus the €10bn a year buffer of no more Danegeld could compensate for the downturn. Whereas the EU has no such capital cushion, and faces charging its contributing nations far more, and will also suffer its own hit to EU GDP from a Brexit without any buffer at all. 

Have I misunderstood this or are we negotiating from a pretty strong position? Are the comrades so cross because they've worked out how weak they are in all this?


John M said...

The EU is in a desperate position finalncially although the Eurocrats will never admit it. Not only that but German public opinion, weary of paying for everyone else's largesse is flagging.

All these arrogant 'demands' from Juncker, Barnier, Verhofstadt et all is in fact the sign of desperate dying fish thrashing thier last gasps.

DeeDee99 said...

Brexiteers have always claimed that we are in a strong negotiating position. It's only the instigators of Project Fear and those pro-EU members of the Establishment who refuse to accept the result of the Referendum who claim differently.

We could bring the EU down when we leave - and the Kommissars know it. They're carrying out the policy of attack being the best form of defence and hoping our cowardly Establishment will capitulate, as they always have in the past.

I'm not so sure they will this time.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember reading in Private Eye some years ago that there is a law which prevents the UK Government from paying monies to organisations and business which do not have accounts passed by auditors. There was a scandal involving the Government paying money to a property company which had gone bust.
As we all know only too well, the EU Organised Crime Syndicate never has its accounts signed off. The historic payments to the EU may have been allowable under various enabling Acts but post Article 50 my guess is that any payments made in response to demands by the EU would be simply illegal and anyone who paid these monies would lay themselves open to prosecution.

Sobers said...

Its looking increasingly like we have a very good hand in the negotiations, if only the treasonous bunch who are trying to hamstring us from within could be locked up in the Tower for about 3 years.

Not only does the financial equation add up - money currently sent to the EU is more than any tariffs that might be imposed under WTO rules, we also have strong cards in armed forces, intelligence sharing, the primacy of the City in allowing many of the EU countries to issue government debt and our legally enforceable share of EU assets (which we helped pay for).

In fact, leaving with no agreement whatsoever and falling back to WTO rules is far from the Hard Brexit the Remainers like to call it, its actually pretty soft. If its combined with a quick and dirty free trade deal with the US I reckon the economy won't so much as hiccup.

Dadad said...

There's absolutely no need for us to take a WTO rules hit. All we need to do is use the stepping stone of EEA/EFTA and after a year or two of the Liechstenstein solution, we create a 51 strong European Free Trade Bloc. They'll all want to join us, so end of EU.

Why won't Mrs M do it ? Because she's a fool. There is no way she can get a FTA in 18 months. We all know it, so why does she persist ?

Read, especially today's entry, plus the comments.

Cuffleyburgers said...

I agree with Dadad, and I suspect that is where we will end up, after a lot of shouting, political theatre, threats, blackmail and grandstanding.

From both sides, who seem to be struggling at present to outdo each other in stupidity and ignorance.

Mr Ecks said...

North's ego--which every bit as large as Nigel Farage's and nastier--drives away lots who might find some benefit in his ideas. He is a good researcher but reveals in political legal and bureaucratic complexity.

51 Strong European trade bloc? No that sounds like the EU re-born to me. And for all his pronouncements North has zero influence.

feargalthecat said...

I'm still puzzled why an entity that has not had it's accounts audited for 22 years (and counting) has any credibility regarding financial propriety.

Dioclese said...

This is basically what the traitors in the Lords are trying to get May to do.
They reckon that if we guarantee the rights of the EU citizens in law before they guarantee our citizens rights in the EU, then they can blackmail us in to paying them huge amounts of money in return for securing those rights.

May is right to resist this amendment at all costs. Of course, the apparachniks fall back position is that it delays the invocation of article 50 while the Miller bitch is planning another court case

Why doesn't she just invoke the Parliament Act and tell the Lords to get stuffed? One has to question what's in it for them...

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with Mr Ecks' assessment of North and would add that he also has a tissue-thin skin to criticism. Anyone who even mildly criticises him instantly gets blocked from his website - no criticism allowed. Obviously he believes he is always right in every way. But as Mr Ecks says, North has no influence being so elitist few get to know his views.

Dadad said...

You need to leave your opinion of North at the door. Just concentrate on what he has to say and refute it if you can, using original source material as evidence, if you can, as he does.

John Brown said...

Mr. North is a remainer in leaver's clothing.

Dave_G said...

The EU and May will likely be discussing reciprocal arrangements for levying duty(ies), post Brexit, such that both Governments benefit from the income from taxpayers that may accede to such demands as 'fair payment' for escaping the asylum.
The EU needs to replace our contributions and the UK Government seem to seek any excuse to create new sources of revenue so what's not to like?

Anonymous said...

If Richard North had been writing his blog in 1939 he would have told us that WW2 was impossible because it would be illegal for Germany to invade Poland.

He thinks that the SNP lost their referendum because they didn't produce a 20 volume, cross-indexed economic case, like he would have done. He doesn't realise that they nearly won the referendum because of a wode-daubed Australian actor.

Emotion not 'Experts' counts for most voters.

Anonymous said...

Substitute 'Woad' for 'Wode' and 'cunt' for 'actor' and you are right.

Boggart Blogger said...

We are in a very strong position because no matter what Brussels may think, a lot of EU trade depends on financial services only The City can provide. The remnants are desperate to use The House Of Lords to weaken us by taking away our leverage against the EU telling May, "Accept our terms or we send all the ex - pats in Spain and France back by forging the government to offer a guarantee we will allow all EU member state ex - pats to stay whatever happens.
If the government caves in on this one it will be time for us to take up our pitchforks and cudgels.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe...

Some bloke posting as John Brown accused a blogger (whose title he couldn't even get right) of being "a remainer in leaver's clothing", even though the blogger had been campaigning for 10+ years to leave the EU. Reality distortion field alert maybe?

So, when May bodges Brexit, and we walk away and *voluntarily* become a "Third Country" outside the single market, will he be surprised when trade suddenly stops because WTO means customs inspections into the EU that will make Operation Stack seem insignificant as logistics grind to a halt.

Maybe WTO only will work OK in the long run - but why have a Train Crash "Event" when we could have a managed process via EFTA membership?

It's been said that civilization is only about three days with no food away from riot - do we really want to test this?

As it's heading, I'm planning on three months of dried provisions and hoping on not being shot for hoarding...

(yes, and I did vote for Brexit)

Budgie said...

I see the Dr Richard North acolytes are out in force today.

Dr North backed himself into a corner over two issues. Firstly because he said that it would take years to convert EU Regulations into British law, and therefore we would need to be in EFTA whilst that transition occurred. He was wrong - all it takes is a simple bill, akin to the ECA itself, which will "patriate" the EU laws we have already paid for. That is the route the government will take.

Secondly, as Anon at 15:01 said, Dr North assumes everyone will always follow the exact letter of the EU treaties. We have already seen the EU flout its own law to save the Euro. In the same way Dr North supposes we must use Article 50 because he only focuses on the EU TEU. Yet Vienna is clear that abrogation can take place using a treaty's exit clause OR by giving notice.

The first reason, in particular, makes accession to EFTA/EEA unnecessary. However the main reason not to join EFTA/EEA is political. EEA (EU single market) laws are ever expanding and are used by the EU to impose harmonisation and control, not trade, let alone free trade. Even worse, if we "needed" the EU's single market, the EU would spot that negotiating weakness and insist on a quid pro quo - retaining control of our fisheries and agriculture, for example. Dr North's scheme means we remain part of the EU. It's that bad.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5 March 2017 at 19:51

Whilst I get your points, I get the distinct impression that there are those within the EU who want to punish us for leaving. There are also those who realise that losing the world 5th largest economy along with the City is perhaps something to be avoided at all costs. Certainly the German car producers will feel the impact.

Membership of EEA/EFTA or any single market is politically deader than a dodo given that it also include unfettered movement of people. It ain't gonna happen.

Politics they say is the art of the possible - whichever way they look at it they are going to have to be pragmatic and realistic. Whatever happens we are leaving. Yes, we may well walk away with no deal - it's not ideal, but if that's the way they want it - then fine. There are plenty of other countries that will do bilateral deals with us.

Remember only 44% of our trade is with the EU, and please bear in mind that a large chunk of that is with the Republic of Ireland. Moreover this doesn't take into account the "Rotterdam effect"

Lest it be forgotten that the point of Brexit was that we got rid of EU political control - that we regained independence, and if that means going hungry for a few days or weeks, then it's a worthwhile sacrifice.

Cuffleyburgers said...

I totally agree with Mr Ecks comments regarding Dr North's character which as much as anything is responsible for his relative lack of influence; which is a great shame because he is undoubted an expert on the intricacies of what is going to be required.

As North has explained however the EFTA/EEA route doesn't need to be a permanent solution but it is an extremely convenient stepping stone to a permanent solution outside.

I think anonymouse's point that going hungry for a few days is a worthwhile sacrifice to make - well nobody's stopping him but to impose that on the entire population for an unspecified period of time through sheer stupidity would be quite unforgiveable, because it is entirely avoidable.

As North has pointed out the EEA agreement allows for restrictions on free movement.

As for anybody who thinks that Norway, Iceland and Switzerland by virtue of the EEA/EFTA are somehow under the political control of Brussels - well their opinion can safely be disregarded because they clearly have no idea what they are talking about.

To the extent that any country is politically unfettered and independent in this age of myriad treaties and multinational organisations and so on, these are.

anon 2 said...

Yes, Cuffleyburgers - well said about Dr. N.
Thank you; and I support your presentation of his EEA/EFTA argument: you clarify it well. Especially: ". . . the EFTA/EEA route doesn't need to be a permanent solution but it is an extremely convenient stepping stone to a permanent solution outside"; 'the EEA's agreement allow[ing] for restrictions on free movement'; and the advantages gained by Norway, Iceland and Switzerland courtesy of EEA/EFTA membership.

I stopped posting on Dr. N's blog because he took against me even though I was agreeing with him - never got an answer to my "Was it something I said?" ... position. But I still support his thesis, and I wish the pols would take the trouble to sort themselves out.

Budgie said...

Cuffleyburgers said: "... the EFTA/EEA route doesn't need to be a permanent solution ..."

In theory you (and Dr North) are correct - its doesn't need to be. But it will. The reason is political, and not hard to understand. It has taken us over 40 years to get a referendum to leave the EU. Enormous difficulties have been, and still are being, put in our way to prevent Brexit. Once in EFTA/EEA we won't get out for another 40 years, if ever, whatever the (good) intentions otherwise.

Cuffleyburgers said: "... anybody who thinks that Norway, Iceland and Switzerland by virtue of the EEA/EFTA are somehow under the political control of Brussels - well their opinion can safely be disregarded ..."

The EEA accession countries are not under the same degree of control as the UK currently is. But then the UK, not being in the EMU or Schengen, isn't as closely controlled by the EU as Italy, for example. It's a matter of degree. Moreover Norway was held up as example of "fax diplomacy" from Brussels. That may be a polemic exaggeration. Yet being in the EEA means we would have our entire economy effectively controlled by the quite extensive EU single market harmonisation laws.

Cuffleyburgers said...

Budgie - Norway's famous fax diplomacy; this is a soundbite which has been used extensively and is hopelessly misleading.

As has been pointed out by the annoying but well informed Dr North the vast majority of harmonisation standards, the ones which apply to EEA and EFTA members as well, do not originate in the EU but at a whole alphabet soup of other unternational and multilateral organisations in forums at which the EU negotiates as a single member, the USA as a single member and Iceland and Normay as single members. It is quite legitimate to say they have far more influence over how these international agreements that├Čn do EU members as their voice is not diluted by a factor of 27.

The results of these agreements are then mutated into EU directives and all the rest of it, and then the UK civil service (bless'em) gold plate it because our lives are not already difficult enough. The point is that the EU harmonisation meme is also a red herring and things would in reality hardly change at all if we were in EFTA instead, except for the important difference that we would negotiate on our own behalf not have some belgian do it for us.

the same would be true if we were outside the single market altogether. We would still need to take part in these alphabet soup fests, as we always have and always did, as one of the leading economies of the world. The difference then would be that for a significant period likely to be several years, commerce with EU countries would be very severely disrupted while arrangements were hammered out category by category, a painful and drawn out process which would be enormously simplified by a period in the EEA.

Unless we want to become like North Korea?

One final thing - realistically the process of leaving will not be complete for years, quite apart from the article 50 2-year period. Given the turmoil the EU is in and the mostly self inflicted disasters and political stress we are seeing it is quite impossible to predict what the EU will be like in say 5 years or 10 years.

That is not a reason to stay, in fact it is strong argument for leave.

But it is also a reason to choose the EEA option. Because as the EU crumbles and loses bits which is quite possible not to say probable; if the EEA, vastly strengthened by having the UK as a member can show a viable alternative to EU membership enabling former member states to retain the principal advantages of the one positive achievement the EU made (the single market), then that will help hasten the downfall of the EU.

anon 2 said...

Yes, Cuffleyburgers, that's also how I've read it. Thank you.

Budgie said...

Cuffleyburgers, the word harmonisation appears in the treaties but is not defined. People use the word differently. Certainly I used the word differently to you. What you appear to be thinking of, is what I would call trading standards (often the result of ISO, or UN, etc, standards) and consumer protection (eg the UN Convention on the Sale of Goods). Of course these laws make up a significant part of the EU single market, but they tend to be straightforward and (inevitably!) similar to standards in the rest of the world. Of course we would adopt most of them.

However, there is a distinction to be made between those laws adopted from external (world) institutions, and laws that originate from the EU itself. The harmonisation I refer to is the latter. It can be thought of this way: any EU single market law that applies to all countries within the EU, but not to any country outside the EU, is by definition an EU single market harmonisation law.

One example is the EU single market four "freedoms" - the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital over borders. These are key principles at the heart of the EU, they underpin the single market, and are originated by the EU, but are not imposed on external traders such as the USA or India.

The Referendum vote was to regain control over such lawmaking for ourselves. Remaining in the EU single market means that the UK economy remains under the control of the EU.

Cuffleyburgers said...

Budgie they are not imposed on eea members either. The eea agreements allow for example for control of movement of people (eg Leichtenstein)

Budgie said...


"The free movement of persons is one of the core rights guaranteed in the European Economic Area (EEA), the extended Internal Market which unites all the EU Member States and three EEA EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It is perhaps the most important right for individuals, as it gives citizens of the 31 EEA countries the opportunity to live, work, establish business and study in any of these countries.

The legislation ... give[s] the same rights to nationals of an EEA State and their family members within the EEA ...

Etc, etc." (


"Norway is also outside the EU, but is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). As such, Norway must apply the same free movement rules as EU member states, but has no vote on the rules." (OpenEurope).


"In the Member Countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) 1. the free movement of workers is a fundamental right which permits nationals of one EEA country to work in another EEA country on the same conditions as that member state’s own citizens." (

Cuffleyburgers said...

Hi Budgie

you'd better read a piece by North on the Leichtenstein option, it was some time ago, but it pointed a way to achieving control of that too. Correct that Norway and Switzerland haven't bothered.