Brexit and The Simple Solution

An opinion piece: On Thursday 23 June the UK voted to leave The European Union with a majority of 52% . This surprise result has stunned politicians, the UK population and many Europeans. The FOOTSIE ended the day down 3%. The DAX was down 7%. The £ took a bigger hit, down up to 8% that is good for exports and will help fend off deflation.

There has been much hand wringing as if the sky was about to fall in, while I believe this can be turned into a win-win situation for all Europeans. Failure to achieve this will only happen if the European Union and European Governments fail to grasp this great opportunity to create greater prosperity and harmony for all. But first a look at the circumstances leading up to this vote.

I have followed a lot of the commentary in recent weeks and there are certainly questions about the veracity of all the information made available upon which this vote was based. So before moving on to the very simple solution to this non-crisis, let me begin by taking a look at what lies behind the UK vote.

In the last two years I have been asked to vote on Scottish independence, the UK Westminster Parliament election, The Scottish Parliament Election and last week on Brexit. I have voter fatigue! And nothing ever seems to change after we have voted for Greenwashed, mealy mouthed, politically correct politicians of every colour trying to claim the centre ground. But make no mistake. With a very high turnout of 72% the Brits took the Brexit vote very seriously and exercised their democratic right to speak on this issue while they still had it. Shame on all those politicians and commentators who do not respect our courage to speak out. Any hint of retribution smacks of dictatorship.

I have four layers of government: 1) local Aberdeen Council, 2) Scottish Parliament, 3) Westminster Parliament and 4) European Parliament. This is two layers of government too many and the more layers you have the more dilute the powers become. I would estimate there is a correlation between power and IQ. I am unimpressed with the intellectual capacity of many of the politicians that are supposed to represent me. You just need to look at Scottish Labour, the former powerhouse in Scotland with names like John Smith and Donald Dewar. Political giants, great politicians of the recent past – and I am not a natural supporter of the left. But I respect those who fight for social justice. And compare that with what we have today. Not even a shadow.

I have a fairly clear idea of how Aberdeen Council, the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliaments work. But after several weeks of campaigning I remain in the dark about how the European form of governance works. I know my local Councillor in Aberdeen and when I send him an email he always acts on my requests. I used to correspond infrequently with my previous Westminster MP Dame Anne Begg who would take issues I raised to the highest level in government. A lot of the time this did not produce a result but at least my voice was heard and recorded in the minutes. However, I do not know who my MEP is, what he or she does, or how the opaque European system works. The Commission, The Parliament, The Council of Ministers, The Court, The ECB and more than one president? What’s it all about? If the electorate does not understand how the system works then you have no chance of democracy

Leading up to the Brexit vote, a few extraordinary things happened. President Obama called by and told us that if we did not vote to remain that we would be at the back of the queue for negotiating a new trade deal with the USA. Wait a minute! The UK has for a long time been one of the USA’s closest friends. Why would a close friend seek to threaten us? Why should the UK ever need to negotiate a trade deal with the USA, the land of the free? I sincerely hope that next week Mr Trump stands up and puts Mr Obama in his place and reminds him what being a Democrat is all about! I also sincerely hope that Mrs Clinton stands up and assures the UK that we can be offered the most generous free trade deal ever struck with the USA. Threatening your best friend with retribution smacks of dictatorship. Brits don’t like being told what to do.

And a couple of weeks before the vote an announcement was made about the formation of a European army. What’s going on with the madmen in Bruxelles? Who has created this idea? Where does the idea come from? And who decides to float this insanity a couple of weeks before one of the most important votes in EU history? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. But what I do know is that the UK would never sign up to any of it. So what do we have? A German – France (Vichy / Napoleonic?) axis coercing other countries to join the venture or face expulsion from the European Union? Who is the European army going to fight? Perhaps Britain? And then we’ll find out where US loyalty really lies.

NATO is the successful organisation that has guaranteed European security since WWII. The boundaries of NATO should never have been broadened since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

So after that short preamble we get to the question of how to solve the Brexit crisis. The first question has to be why this should be a crisis at all? It obviously sticks a spanner in the works of plans to form a Federal European superstate. But whose plan is that? Where are the seeds of that plan and why is it being driven forward?

The markets tanked on Friday on the back of the British people exercising their democratic right in the face of adversity. Why?

The UK I’m sure would welcome proposals from Europe for a no strings attached trade deal with The Union as it exists today. If there is any common sense leadership in Europe, this deal should be offered this week. The UK should not even need to ask for it. The EU should take the initiative and offer it. Appeasement not punishment. That immediately allays economic fears and allows market normalisation. And it allows European industry to get on with the business of production, employment and wealth creation as opposed to years of adjusting to untangling the impossibly complex regime of international bureaucratic entanglement that currently exists.

Beyond that I believe the UK should offer to continue with the free movement of people within the EU+ zone. Do the Portuguese and Spanish really want to restrict the movement of Brits heading for the Sun? And does the UK really want to end the movement of East Europeans to the UK where they currently appear to form the backbone of staff in bars, restaurants and fruit picking farms. The age demographic of the UK is working against the pension system. We either accept more immigration or decide to work until we are 75+. But of course an independent UK could control this.

I also recognise that the EU has been a force for good by channeling small amounts of GDP from wealthy to poor Mediterranean and East European countries. I’d strongly support the UK continuing to do this. But this can be done through our existing foreign aid programs.

So what is in Brexit for Europe? Those European countries that want to forge a European super-state led by Germany will be free to do so unfettered by UK reticence. Those that want to be part of a free trade area should be encouraged to join the UK in an official two speed Europe with clear lines drawn between economic cooperation (trade and population movement) and political union that includes currency, foreign policy, defence and interference on the internal workings of existing nation states.

I want to conclude by repeating what I have said a number of times in this post. Those politicians and commentators who sought to influence this Brexit vote via fear of retribution should we not vote the right way ought to be cast out. The list includes Obama, George Osborne and one of the faceless and nameless presidents of the EU.

We will not be ruled by fear of reprisal.

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114 Responses to Brexit and The Simple Solution

  1. Dave Rutledge says:

    Hi Euan,

    Great post and best wishes to the UK in its new course.

    Don’t feel bad about President Obama. He just doesn’t like the UK. American citizens do, however. Let’s have another go with the next President. Most of the time Presidents and Prime Ministers have done well together.


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Luckily Donald sees himself as Scottish – if only the Scottish government hadn’t gone out of their way to alienate him over a few wind mills. And Bill at least was an Anglophile. But the political reset button is in the process of being pushed.

  2. Tim says:

    This was a great article.


  3. Saavedra says:

    Completely nuts. You live in a dream of spitfire heroics. Sad as it is, there are fare more serious problems on the table than the collective English psyche. A quick deal should be made and that starts by the UK government sending the divorce letter asap.

    • Nial says:

      There’s an article in the Wall St Journal saying America should quickly move to implement a free trade deal with the UK, we’re the world’s 5 largest economy.

      I think Canada has also made favorable noises.

      Perhaps the sky isn’t going to fall in?

      • Nial says:

        That wasn’t supposed to be a reply to Saavedra, I’ll re-post as a separate post at the top.

      • Andy Dawson says:

        The sh*t will fly for a few weeks/months, then the world will carry on turning.

        The BDI (the German CBI) will twist Mutti Merkel’s arm so that there’s pretty much tariff free access into the single market – and even if there isn’t, the average external tariff is 3% – we’ve already gained more than that in competitiveness.

        And frankly the other players don’t much matter.

        You can add South Korea to that list with the US and Canada –

        The reality is the EU isn’t a means of access to other markets – it’s a hindrance. Unlike most others who blather on about this, I took the simple step of looking at the list of countries with which the EU actually has free trade deals (most of which aren’t that free…)

        The “Remainers” were claiming 60 countries covered – I can find 54 listed, plus Canada (where the deal seems to be in the process of ratification):

        So –

        Balkans and Europe:
        – Kosovo
        – Serbia
        – Ukraine (but that’s been rejected by Dutch voters, so its situation is ambiguous)
        – Bosnia
        – Montenegro
        – Albania
        – Macedonia
        – the Faroe Islands (my particular favourite…)
        – Norway
        – Iceland (but excludes fishing rights)
        – Switzerland
        – Andorra
        – San Marino

        The Mediterranean:
        – Egypt
        – Algeria
        – Lebanon
        – Jordan
        – Morocco
        – Tunisia
        – The Palesitinian Authority (you might woionder what the f*ck the EU is doing spending effort on this, when it’s negotiations with others, like Canada, proceed at a snails pace – maybe a misuse of resources)
        – Syria !
        – Israel
        – Turkey

        – Equador
        – Iraq!
        – Colombia
        – Peru
        – Papua New Guinea
        – Fiji
        – South Korea (see above)
        – South Africa
        – Cameroon
        – Madagascar,
        – Mauritius
        – the Seychelles (bet the negotiators loved working on that one…)
        – Zimbabwe! (signed in 2009, ffs, when Mugabe was at his worst)
        – Chile
        – Mexico
        – CARIFORM (16 Caribbean states, of which Jamaica is probably tyhe biggest)
        – Canada (althoughy, oddly the website doesn’t list it)

        So, of the 16 non-EU G20 states, the much vaunted EU diplomatic service has concluded freee trade deals with four – Canada, Turkey (And that has to be in doubt if their membership application is being kicked into touch), South Africa and South Korea.

        I think we can match that PDQ – and of the remainder, only Chile, Mexico and Israel are worth the effort of the negotiation.

        So, WTF has the EU been doing, wasting effort on minnows? Or is it just a way of keeping nice jollies on the go for Brussels civil servants?

        • Leo Smith says:

          Or is it just a way of keeping nice jollies on the go for Brussels civil servants?

          Yes. Is the short answer. The EU started life as a steel and coal cartel to protect |European industry. Free traded is not its agenda

          It is intensely inward looking isolationist and protective

          Qualities it projects onto Britain.

        • Alex says:

          “The BDI (the German CBI) will twist Mutti Merkel’s arm so that there’s pretty much tariff free access into the single market –”

          That may be correct. Mutti will offer it in any case, but in return, Britain will be forced to accept the benefit of free movement of labour, and the resultant boost to GDP this creates.

          Tough choices – not.

          “and even if there isn’t, the average external tariff is 3% – we’ve already gained more than that in competitiveness.”

          It’s not so much the % tariff. The fact that they are there, and the paper work requirement is there, and the fact that the standard might be different. The uncertainties, not the percent tariff, are what will scare away investors.

          As for competitiveness? Taking a pay cut does boost one’s competitiveness. It’s not something people normally vote for.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            It appears to turn out that immigration was a decisive factor in this vote. Its not an issue for me but the UK is not homogenous. It has become a very serious issue in some areas. Rules made in 1960 may have to be revised?

            Freedom of movement has so many different guises.

  4. Willem Post says:


    The EU bureaucrats have been creating rules and regulations for its members regarding trade for decades.

    Any trade deals with the U.K. would have those strings attached.

    That means the UK would be bound by those rules, which likely are different from UK practice.

    Any trade negotiations would be protracted.

    It would be much easier to have a trade agreement with the US and Canada.

    How much trade is there between the UK and the EU?

    The EU stupidly gave up quite a lot of lucrative trade with Russia to advance its ill-considered geo-political adventure in Ukraine, which is costing the EU several billion dollars per year.

    Then there was rosy-colored Merkel inviting a million refugees and telling other countries to do the same, and Brussels chiming in with a $250,000 fine for every refugee not taken.

    And then Merkel being dependent on a corrupt Turkish dictator to take care of her refugees.

    You can’t make this stuff up. No wonder others are ready to follow the UK.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Willem, the UK is already inside and compliant with the labyrinth of regulation. Simply allowing trade to continue and making clear that this will be the case ASAP is quite clearly in the best interests of all Europeans and the UK. Making this clear today would defuse the sense of crisis. Not doing so begins to smack of punishment. It would be BAU and the UK could move quickly to remove itself from Brussels.

      One hint of “control” that I don’t fully understand comes form the common fisheries policy. When the UK joined in 1973 we had to sign away our fishing rights. Why? All the UK has ever wanted is to trade with Europe. And I believe most want to be able to travel freely too. But why link a loss of sovereignty (fishing) to trade? It makes no sense. Michael Gove is the son of a Scottish Fisherman bankrupted by EU regulation. That has come back to bite them hard.

      • gweberbv says:


        UK gave away its fishing rights because it joined a common market. Now all of the EU fisherman can do fishery in all of the EU waters. There is no exclusive UK or Durch or German waters anymore (with respect to fishery). But that is the whole idea of a common market, right? If Scottish fishermen gone bankrupt, it is simply because they were economicly too weak to survive in the common market and now more competetive fishermen from Spain, Finland or Estonia are doing their job.

        But on the other side of the coin there is the need to regulate fishery to allow (or at least aim) for a sustainable management of the fish populations. This has to be done on the EU level because otherwise each country would try to shield its own waters while at the same time demanding free access to the waters of all other EU members. This would soon turn to a ‘fishery war’ if not brokered by the EU institutions.

        Common market -> common regulation!

        • Andy Dawson says:

          That night be the case, but for the fact that the Commission intervenes and sets quotaqs – and awards them not on the basis of competitiveness, but on the numbers of boats in the fleet (aka “traqditional share” – which doesn’t recognise WHERE that “traditional share was taken).

          It’s also worth noting that the EU quotas are the cause of the moronic practice of catching, then dumping “bye-catch” .

          I’d really not try to argue that the CFP has been a success in termsw of stock conservation – look at the difference between what’s happenedd to Cod stocks in the North Sea, as compared to what the Icelanders have managed.

          • gweberbv says:


            my knowledge is too limited to judge if the fisheries policy is a success (or to whom it is a success/failure). But to me it seems clear that once you pool the waters/markets you also have to pool the regulation associated to it. One will always find examples for effective and poor regulations.

            The famous dumping of fish on the sea was recently banned by the EU, right? So, the system is able to improve.

          • Andy Dawson says:

            So, don’t pool the waters…

      • Willem Post says:


        The UK wants to trade with the EU as before, but does not want the immigration, and a few other aspects.

        The UK wants national sovereignty over immigration, etc.

        Merkel says, no picking and choosing.

        She thoughtlessly picked a million plus refugees; a colossal blunder. that tipped the scales for the UK.

        The EU/Merkel dug its own grave by trying to act like a European government, submerging national cultures.

        Most of these countries got themselves into more of a straight jacket than they like.

        When growth was good, everyone thought this is working.

        But with growth at near zero, cracks appear in the facade.

        This is not the fault of the UK.

        The UK tried, against its nature, to be a good member, but in the end, people revolted.

        It is always best to be true to oneself; the UK was living a lie.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Willem, this is incisive commentary.

          The UK wants to trade with the EU as before, but does not want the immigration, and a few other aspects.
          The UK wants national sovereignty over immigration, etc.

          What has never been explained properly to the UK population is the link between the number of working people, their productivity, GDP and the ability to provide pensions and care for the elderly. And how this links to the age demographic of the country.

          The UK population may think they do not want immigration but do not understand the choices they face. Work until you are 75 or more or accept more younger workers into the country. It is possible that many may choose to work on, which is probably not a bad choice to make. I suspect this is a big debate we are about to have.


          • Willem Post says:

            Instead of bringing in foreigners, it is much better to have older people work in their later years, but fewer hours a week, and have them show the ropes to the younger folks.

            Retirement is much overrated, plus it is an expensive burden on society.

            There is less to ethnic diversity and cultural diversity than touted.

            Slowly introducing other elements into a population is the best approach, but the precondition must be the newcomers assimilate, not celebrate/accentuate their differences in an in your face manner.

            That may mascarade as freedom and tolerance, but, in fact, is a form of terrorism.

          • Leo Smith says:

            That argument is based on very faux assumptions.

            Namely that the ponzi scheme of population expansion can continue to create wealth in a resource limited world.

            And yet since 2005 or so, GDP has not increased in line with population…

  5. Peter Lang says:

    There is an excellent post by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor for the Australian:
    Brexit: Britannia rules again as the bulldog bites (Google the title or these words:
    “The magnificent British Bulldog people stood defiant once more. They were told what to do by their Prime Minister, David Cameron, who tried to scare them to death by predicting Armageddon if they voted to leave the European Union.”

  6. pyrrhus says:

    Let me speak plainly about the obvious:
    First, free movement within the EU can only exist if 3d world immigrants are tightly controlled, and cannot move from their country of original landing. Anything else is catastrophic, as we have seen in the last year. Second, since former Communist Youth Leader Merkel has become de facto Dictator of the EU, it has become anti-European, anti-middle class, and anti-civilization…every country that does not emulate the UK and get out will be dragged down to destruction, or into a civil war between Europeans and 3d world barbarians….

  7. GV says:

    As a citizen of Belgium I didn’t really care about the outcome. Frankly I thought the UK has always been more of a burden than a blessing in the EU.
    But this morning I was stunned by the silly articles that appeared in my Belgian newspaper. Just some picks.
    Resistance against the Brexit is growing (amongst politicians, yes … the EU was a nice cake for them,, no? ) and about 1 million voters now regret that they voted for the Brexit (how can they know that?)
    Two pages about the British youth stigmatizing the event as TEOTWAKI and how they will never know how many friendships and mariages will not happen. ????
    One page of a Belgian expat in London who compares the situation with the thirties and how the Brits are already talking of deportation.
    Only 37,44 % voted No (52 % of the 72 % who voted) so not a majority. even the Greeks wouldn’t have thought that far.
    One article says the left is to blame and Corbyn has to go, (fits the left bashing nowadays), because the No voters were not informed well and voted with their feet. I guess voting with your feet was the only thing to do as the information we get is BS and the issue is too complex and even the smart people don’t have a clue what is best.

    • David Richardson says:

      Belgium has done well out of the EU beaurocracy GV, 90 EU buildings in Brussels alone, 10,000 EU commission officials who earn more than the uk Prime Minister. It must add wonderfully to your GDP.

      I voted Leave, not because I don’t like Europe and its people, but simply because unelected faceless civil servants decide laws and regulations which apply to us with no ability to vote them out or seek repeal of anything – biofuel directive is an obvious example, everybody agrees it was a mistake but they will not change it.

      The move to have a re-run of the referendum is pure EU. If you don’t get the results you want apply more pressure until you do.

      It has bee n very instructive over the weekend that nearly all the nasty threatening stuff coming from the eu has been from the commission and its dictators not the elected politicians who have been mostly looking for what is best for us all.

      I am sorry that you feel we have been more of a burden than a blessing but always remember that not only are we one of the biggest net cash contributers but we import from the EU 65% more than we export to it.

      Already there is talk of re-establishing our EU blocked trade with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and others. This pleases me greatly. I know it’s not good taste to mention the war – but we were forced to apply tariffs against these countries. I don’t have to remind you that these people came, fought and died to get your country back twice in the last century. When they enter the UK today we make them go through the channel for foreigners.

      • gweberbv says:


        the ‘unelected faceless civil servants’ that are the EU bureaucracy do not decide anything. They are just there to execute what was decided by the governments of the member states and/or the EU parliament. Of course, you can vote our your government and also your EU MPs.

        It is a tragedy that probably 90% of the EU citizens are completely ignorant towards the EU institutions. Maybe Euan is right that democracy is not possible with more than two layers of government. (However, all countries I know have already three of them -> local, province and country level).

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Gunther, it is the case that I have very poor understanding of how the EU functions. And I am likely much better informed than most. It is the case that I cast a vote on something that I poorly understood and at that level democracy cannot function. There is a large majority in The House of Commons to remain in the EU. We elect and pay politicians to make decisions like this on our behalf. We now have a situation where The Commons must extricate the UK from the EU against their will.

        • Andy Dawson says:

          As I understand it, the Commission decides on, and drafts Directives – and those go tot the EU parliament for rubberstamping (significant change is almost unknown); regulations similarly have direct effect, but those do NOT require EU parliament approval.

          Laws can also oroginate from the Parliament, but those are a tiny proportion of the whole – <5%.

          • gweberbv says:


            EU legislation is (usually) proposed by the Commission (that is bound to execute the EU treaties made by the member states). The European parliament AND the Europen Council (=the governments of the member states) must agree on each of this acts.

            In a very general way it works like that:
            1. The member states sit together and negotiate the most recent EU treaty.
            2. On basis of this treaty which formulates general goals (e. g. improve the position of poor regions) the EU Commission proposes specific legislation.
            3. The proposals are discussed both in the Parliament and in meetings of the national governments. These bodies can demand changes or simply stop the whole thing.
            4. Parliament and Council are happy with the new legislation, so the act is adopted.

            This legislation process looks similar to a lot of countries that have a two-chamber system with one being the national parliament and the other representing the provinces/states/counties. I really have a hard time to see a lack of democracy here.

            (The big difference is of course that the executive power of the Commission is very limited compared to national governments. If the Commission had real executive power, there you would have an obvious lack of democracy as the members of the Commission are not elected. But this is not the case.)

          • Andy Dawson says:

            “The European parliament AND the Europen Council (=the governments of the member states) must agree on each of this acts.”

            Which applies to Acts only – Regulations and Directives aren’t subject to that process (and it’s typically disingneous to try to pull that particular stroke).

            And no, it’s nothing like the process in a democratic state – I’m not the only one to think so. The German Constituional Court believes that the EU do not have the characteristics of a democratic process – it used the fphrase “structural democratic deficit” wwhen striking down the transfer of some powers to the EC.

            “Neither as regards its composition nor its position in the European competence structure is the European Parliament sufficiently prepared to take representative and assignable majority decisions as uniform decisions on political direction. Measured against requirements placed on democracy in states, its election does not take due account of equality, and it is not competent to take authoritative decisions on political direction in the context of the supranational balancing of interest between the states. It therefore cannot support a parliamentary government and organise itself with regard to party politics in the system of government and opposition in such a way that a decision on political direction taken by the European electorate could have a politically decisive effect. Due to this structural democratic deficit, which cannot be resolved in a Staatenverbund, further steps of integration that go beyond the status quo may undermine neither the States’ political power of action nor the principle of conferral.”

          • Guber says:

            To bring a bit light into the confusion. I see three deficutes in EU Organisation, all of them because the gouverments, especially the British do not want the EU Parlament to have all rights a Parlament usually have: the Parlament is not allowed to propose the Commission, it can only reject what the gouverments propose. The Parlament is not allowed to propose it’s own”laws”, but can reject and by this way change what gouverments and Commission propose. And from some topic the Parlament is excluded where gouverments like to decide alone.

      • David Richardson says:

        I meant to say GV that I know the people of Belgium do understand the sacrifice made – I have been to the Menin Gate in Ypres and the level of remembrance shown by the people of Ypres and beyond, every single day is massively humbling.

      • GV says:

        Traditionally, the UK net contributions to the EU budget are less than 1% of UK’s public spending.
        While all bigger and richer member states are net contributors, as a contribution per capita the UK is behind countries like Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands or Austria, Finland and Belgium.
        Finally, the estimated benefits of EU membership for the UK economy vastly exceed the UK’s gross budget contribution, let alone its net one.

        For the rest pretty tasteless remarks on the wars. Typical!
        Do keep sh*itting on our heads and eloquently forget about the Belgian, French, Polish … brigades who did the dirty work. And about the Russians who had already beaten the German armies and had moved into Eastern European countries before the allies landed in Normandy and fought the leftovers. We still honour the men/boys who believed to fight for a good cause, but we also know what was going on on a higher (political) level and that is why we kicked out our King after the war.

        • Andy Dawson says:

          I’ll bet you’d have loved it under the Russians….

          • GV says:

            And if we hadn’t had the Russians, we’d be ruled by the Nazi regime. I’ll bet you’d have loved it …

          • David Richardson says:

            GV – you are right, we all know that without Russia and the USA WW2 could not have been won by the allies – The UK could never have done it alone. We all know that.


            At the beginning. Russia was happy to collaborate with the Nazis until they were themselves attacked. The USA came in 1942 after Pearl Harbour (or is that Harbor) – don’t get me wrong we are grateful. When Britain declared war we were pretty much on our own, until Canada, Oz and the Kiwi’s and many others came to help.

            Brits will always be good Europeans whatever happens. We are not anti-European, but many are anti-EU.The UK is today not what it was, or is that just a 70 year old man’s perception (no it’s not), but if our friends needed us again – we would be there.

        • David Richardson says:

          Sorry GV – I only just spotted this reply – you are a strange person to take offence at my remarks. Amazing!

          I added above

          “I meant to say GV that I know the people of Belgium do understand the sacrifice made – I have been to the Menin Gate in Ypres and the level of remembrance shown by the people of Ypres and beyond, every single day is massively humbling.”

          At no time did I seek to diminish the part played by your countrymen and those of many other countries. It was a joint effort in both wars – I was merely pointing out that because of the EU we in the UK are forced to treat those who came to help us with shameful lack of regard.

          Thankfully most of your countrymen seem to have more respect as mentioned above. After all you can have your political theories and I may have many of my own ( I am no great royalist but the alternative is often worse) – but in WW2 we entered it when your borders were crossed.

          In France I also find a high level of remembrance of WW1 in those northern parts that suffered the most. My maternal grandfather was Killed in Action taking an area near Cambrai in Oct 1918. He was side by side with Frenchmen, American units and some from New Zealand as well a large contingent of Canadians who took the city.

          My grandmother was a widow 64 years and my mother was born 6 months after his death.

  8. Flocard says:

    I am French.
    Had I been an English citizen It is my feeling that I would have voted to stay in given the special statute within EU that the successive British governments had very pragmatically been able to negociate for their country In effect, I noted that when the prime minister of Scotland (correct title ?) said recently she wanted her nation to stay within EU despite the Brexit vote she insisted that it had to be with the statute that had been negociated in the past by British governments.
    For England, take for exemple the clever Touquet treaty which effectively puts the UK-French border in France (with british immigration officers in Paris for the Eurostar and in Calais and all French harbours for sea transfers) and thus gives France the burden of hosting on its territory the refugee camps whith all those who want to enter Britain illegally not the mention the steady police task of preventing them to board the ships..
    Of course I have absolutly no substantiated idea whether Brexit is on a long term a good or bad decision for UK and for the rest of Europe and my country. It is certainly the case that French economists are divided (even sometimes within the same person) on the subject.
    My vote would have been based partly on what I said above and on the fact well established by psychologal science that just as the majority of people I am reluctant to drastic change and tend to give more weight to negative than positive and still hypotetical consequences.
    On the other hand since my training is in physics and since I believe in the validation by experiment. I think that UK has offered to itself and to the rest of Europe a chance to check “in vivo” what happens when such a drastic decision is taken.
    I wish the best to all of us and if the result is good for UK we will have learned an interesting lesson.

    • Rob says:

      Hubert what’s your guess on how this will effect Hinkley Point

      • Euan Mearns says:

        We must always remember that on 22 June, it looked increasingly likely that the EPR incarnation of Hinkley was doomed. Giving up on a super-expensive unbuildable reactor seems like a good thing to me. Hinkley needs a new plan.

        • Andy DAwson says:

          From a financial perspective, it works out as follows –

          the roughly 50% of construction costs incurred in the UK will have just have got cheaper (when measured on EdF’s books). However, the revenue stream will have also got smaller – BUT….

          The cost savings from the lower pound are immediate. The Revenue reductions are at least five years away, and extend to 45 years or so away; anyone who’s willing to bet on any dip in the pound lasting that long is a lot more confident in their cryystal ball than I am – plus, they’re discounted.

          I suspect the econimics overall have just got better, but I’d have fo build a financial model.

        • Rob says:

          Euan since Hinkley is the only nuclear deal on the table for the next 3 years would like to keep the £10 billion investment into the UK economy.

          So no I don’t think its good thing especially since the oil and gas collapse means future work in Engineering services looks rather bleak.

        • Willem Post says:

          I think the UK should immediately invite Russia and China to design and build nuclear 10 new plants at about $5 million per MW, turnkey.

          Forget about the solar panels and wind turbines, and all the rest of that melarkey.

          In return, the UK gets to export an equivalent of goods and services to their economies.

          China and Russia would be eager to do it.

          Siemens would be envious.

          Those are the kind of initiatives that made the UK in the past.

          • Rob says:

            Willem abandoning Hinkley will be a bitter blow to UK economy as it was the only nuclear deal on the table at least for the next 3 years. A complex reactor would be an advantage to UK contractors competing for £10 billion worth of work

            New reactors are taking up to 10 years get through planning GDA & final investment stage.
            The sad fact is since oil and gas has collapsed there doesn’t seem to be any major projects in the UK for the next few years.

            I can see this turning into a credit crunch type recession as all major business decisions are put on hold. So I’m hoping Hinkley doesn’t get cancelled and that UK Engineering services aren’t dealt another body blow.

          • A C Osborn says:

            Rob, the Hinkley Point may be the only one on offer but it is a disaster of a design and a disaster of a contract.
            The UK can do much better, but the safety regs need relaxing, we have 45 year nuclear reactors still running ok that did not have any of those new regs when they were built and there are lots more modern designs that are also doing very nicely.

        • Leo Smith says:

          As great nuclear advocate, I sadly have to agree.

          EPWR is not a cost effective design within current nuclear regulations

      • Flocard says:

        On the positive (“positive” only means that it favors effective launching of the project) side the final decision on Hinkley point will only be a matter for the British Government and EDF (taking into account that 85 % of EDF is owned by the French government ; my feeling is that the French government is more positive on the project than the EDF financial governance) One would not have to worry about what Luxembourg or Austria (just to mention two countries) are going to start as delaying tactics. They will concentrate their energy on France instead…

        I put aside something that would have existed Brexit or no Brexit, namely that EDF financial situation although still slightly better than those of major european utilities is very very far from being strong (enough ?) for such a large scale project Of course, this results from the European global environmental and energy policies. Note also that if bad marks have certainly to be given to Europe for weakening their utilities everywhere and almost destroying the electricity market; personally I think all countries including UK have their share of responsability too Sometimes I even would say UK more than the rest because it was the driving force behind the liberalization just as if electricity was a commodity like toothpaste or soap (just recall the nonsense that was proferred by persons in charge in Britain on the subject in the last decade of the century when one compares to what has happened.)

        On the negative side, there is the value of the pound. What EDF negociated as a retribution is valued in pounds. A fraction of the investment cost – I have no idea what fraction – will be in pounds (most labor for civil engineering and an over the time a growing fraction of the nuclear engineering) but a fraction will be imported and paid with other currencies. A correct estimate depends on what will be the value of the pound when these items have to be imported.

        OPEX costs are not going to be affected much because nuclear fuel (which I assumed is going to be imported for the duration of the contract) is only a small fraction of the cost of producing a MWh.

        Since the value of the pound ultimately depends on whether Brexit is good or bad for the UK economy, Hinkley point just becomes one item submerged within a more general question.

        In the end I believe that the most important liability – for me a veryserious liability – of the Brexit, – a liability for both sides of the Channel – is uncertainty. The sooner it is dispelled the better for all of us*.

        * For that reason, it is difficult for me to understand how a prime minister can say that it will resign because he does not want to be the one in charge of negotiating a Brexit he did’nt call for (resigning is certainly a democratic decision) and at the same time can say that he will only do it in October. I also see a problem with the UK parliament when I am told that 75 % of the MPs were against Brexit. How could such a parliament help negotiate for its country the terms of an action that its majority rejected ? Should not new elections be called soon in order to have a parliament more in line with such a major move such as the Brexit (Sorry for Euan’s voter fatigue) ? On the other hand well-known UK pragmatism may be stronger than what pure logics seems to imply and make a good use of an apparently inadequately fitted group of people.

        Uncertainty ….

    • Euan Mearns says:

      It is certainly the case that French economists are divided (even sometimes within the same person) on the subject.

      I am long term pro-Europe and would have preferred this unecessary referendum to never have been called. But given the outcome perhaps it was justified to let the people speak after all.

      I was split 50:50 on the issues. Most of the folks I know were somewhere on the spectrum 60:40. So that is one reason why I can see the positive side of either outcome. It is not necessary for this outcome to have negative consequences for anyone. Ah hah, if there are no negative consequences then perhaps folks might ask what is the point of the EU in the first place?

      • gweberbv says:


        if UK really wants got get what (at lot of) the Brexiters were promoting, then for sure there will be negative consequences.
        Without accepting free movement of people and paying for the poor countries, you wont get the Norway/Iceland/Liechtenstein deal (EEA). And without accepting EU standards for products and services, you are not even qualified for the Switzerland deal. A lot of businesses will break down (of course, new business opportunities will emerge at some point) in such a scenario.
        But if UK agrees to the EEA deal, the people will not get what they were voting for.

        In any case the worst thing probably will be the uncertainty if it remains unclear for months or even years how what the final outcome will look like. Tough times ahead for all of us.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Gunther, one thing I agree with is that a deal should be brokered as soon as possible. But unfortunately we don’t even have a leader right now. And its fair to accept that if the UK is to trade with Europe that it needs to follow EU trading rules which I presume we already do.

          Many voters were split on a range of issues. And almost half voted to stay. A narrow vote means that compromise should be acceptable on issues like immigration. Its not an issue for me, but parts of the country have been over run by E Europeans. This has created problems for amongst other things schools. I seem to recall a number of years ago teachers in Aberdeen had classes with several different languages and no English. For better or for worse this has been viewed as a serious issue by many.

          On fishing we disagree. I don’t see any connection between free trade and making your natural resources freely available to all. I don’t see the difference between fish and oil. But bringing fishing into the equation begins the complicating factor of encroaching on sovereignty which is a major issue for folks in the UK.

          The mix of views of the UK are shared by many millions across Europe. The EU would do well to listen to the people who don’t like many of the unintended negative consequences of policies that may have started out with good intentions.

      • David Richardson says:

        “Norway seems to be a defacto member of the common fisheries policy ”

        I will bow to your greater knowledge on this, but as any East Coast fisherman in the UK will tell you they land more fish here than we do, together with the Icelandic and Faroes fishing fleet.

        There is something Kafkaesque about the EU paying English fishermen to burn there boats. Someone wants to make sure we can’t fish our own waters – even now we have left.

  9. Alex says:

    “The UK I’m sure would welcome proposals from Europe for a no strings attached trade deal ……
    Beyond that I believe the UK should offer to continue with the free movement of people within the EU+ zone…… channeling small amounts of GDP from wealthy to poor Mediterranean and East European countries. I’d strongly support the UK continuing to do this.”

    That sounds very much like the EEA deal that Norway has, and would certainly limit the economic damage of Brexit. It would however piss off the racist and illiberal elements of the Brexit campaign, who were hoping for mass deportations – so that’s another good reason for it.

    ” Those European countries that want to forge a European super-state led by Germany will be free to do so unfettered by UK reticence. ”

    I can’t think of any countries that want that. Just possibly Belgium and Luxemburg, and probably a good chunk of Brussels.

    What people in the UK don’t realise is that there is no desire in Europe for a German led superstate, and especially not in Germany. (Though they’re not adverse from profiting from the Euro to boost their economy, and will certainly be keen on welcoming the City of London to Frankfurt).

    I suspect if the UK joins the EEA, then a number of other countries may wish to do the same. Some in the EU will see that as a disaster, and hence try to make it unattractive. Hopefully they could see that as something that saves the EU.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Personally I like to be able to move freely around Europe. But my passport is always checked when I land in Europe and when I return to the UK.

      Immigration within the EU is not an issue for me. But that could change if Germany starts issuing German passports to their current guests.

      Fruit farming (raspberries and strawberries) in Scotland is heavily reliant on seasonal E European workers. Many thousands come and go every year. This does not bother me at all. They are civilised and polite and boost the local economies. And if they can earn money here that helps establish a better life back home, then I think that is great. The farmers are dependent on this source of labour and it would be madness to cut it off. Everyone would loose.

      Many stay, and end up working in bars and restaurants. Presumably some get even better jobs. Many marry.

      But this is rather different to large urban areas being taken over by migrants who are not working. I have no first hand experience of this but would understand the views of those locals who oppose it.

      I think Cameron negotiated an opt out of paying migrants benefits. But so many individual exceptions are difficult for voters to weigh.

      • @ Eaun
        “But this is rather different to large urban areas being taken over by migrants who are not working. I have no first hand experience of this but would understand the views of those locals who oppose it.”

        I find this hard to understand as the migrant communities of the Indian subcontinent (I include Pakistan in this) are extremely visible no matter what city I am in. Some of those maybe second to third generation but clearly I doubt this trend has not affected every town or city in the UK to some extent.

        Of the cities that I have direct experience, the immigration populations from my point of view
        Swansea: Chinese students followed by ISC followed by Polish
        Cardiff: ISC/Polish
        Bristol: Polish followed by ISC
        Notable in all three, there is an increasing middle eastern minority setting up shop/communities along side ISC.

        It is no surprise to me that if a country has a history of having a certain migrant population, that that population would continue to migrate and be one of the biggest populations. The Polish community is new and much of the problem lies in one migrant community not displacing another.

    • Andy Dawson says:

      “Beyond that I believe the UK should offer to continue with the free movement of people within the EU+ zone…… channeling small amounts of GDP from wealthy to poor Mediterranean and East European countries. I’d strongly support the UK continuing to do this”

      Which means it’s a matter of agreeing a price – which appeared to be pretty much the line being taken by Merkel’s spokesman on “Today” this morning.

      However, I’m not entirely sure why the EU feels that thi is appropriate – most free trade deals don’t involve any such charges. They’re seen as mutually beneificial. It’s only the EU that seems to have overlaid political layers on top of a purely business relationship.

      As to Labour Movement, something interesting came up in the same discussion….which seemed to imply that Switzerland has been seen as compliant with Freedom of Movement – but to enter, you need a job offer, and once the job is finished, you go. the latest controversy is about efforts to impose quotas.

      I can see something similar working in the UK – perhaps with employers paying an annual charge to HM government for the use of non-UK labour.

      “I can’t think of any countries that want that. Just possibly Belgium and Luxemburg, and probably a good chunk of Brussels.

      What people in the UK don’t realise is that there is no desire in Europe for a German led superstate, and especially not in Germany.

      I suspect you’re almost certainly right at the level of the general populace – but amongst the Political Class? The Martin Schultz’s and JCJs?

      • Guber says:

        Schulz cares for the power of the European Parlament, not about Germany, take a closer look at him. Step by Step the EU Parlament gets the usual rights of a Parlament, most likely too slow, but things happening a bit seems to be typical for EU. Like Italy.

  10. Joe Public says:

    1. Al Gore also stuck his oar in:

    There was an inconvenient truth high up in the comments.

    2. The Biased Broadcasting Corporation’s output bore a striking resemblance to its ‘balance’ of reporting climate issues.

  11. Jonathan Madden says:

    Excellent post, Euan. Vindictive behaviour by Brussels would indeed be showing their true colours.

    Hypothetically, the UK would not support damaging measures against another EU state that had voted to leave. In its now weakened state, with a troubled currency, the EU needs all the help it can get from its neighbours. I’m very content with the prospect of an EEA, but with a change in the net immigration balance between EU and non-EU citizens/refugees. I would like to see net immigration reduced over the next few years to perhaps 0.2% p.a. I don’t buy the argument that immigration, by skilled workers, is beneficial on the larger scale. Does it benefit countries in Eastern Europe to lose their educated and skilled people of working age for good?

    My main worry is that a prolonged and deepening economic slowdown will leave the UK, or an English subset thereof, with a large unemployed population placing a burden on public services and housing. It takes time to assimilate new people and 0.5% p.a. net immigration is too high to allow a sensible dynamic equilibrium to be attained. The voting figures from Dover to Boston around the south coast attest to this.

    We had SuperTrump stating Crisis, what Crisis? at Turnberry last week. I trust HRC can make a similarly ameliorating statement soon.

  12. Javier says:

    I suppose the EU has now to strike an equilibrium between avoiding mutual economic damage (as it caused with Russia), and rewarding the UK with all the benefits and none of the burdens that could promote more countries going the same way.

    Frankly the EU has been quite fed up with the UK for decades so the temptation is there to say good riddance. Perhaps this is best for everybody involved.

    Personally I see this as a sign of the times. The world changed radically after 2008 and to me the cause is the undiagnosticated peak in conventional oil complicated by debt saturation. The result is that the population is worse off, and therefore angry with their politicians. This is connected to the rise of the populism, the intolerance to more immigration, and logically a tendency towards disintegration of supra national structures and heterogeneous nations (the rise of independentism), and a fall back to old nationalism. Angry people vote based on emotions and try to punish those they see responsible.

    There is a looming world economic crisis in the horizon, just because it is about time and the economic cycle is long in the tooth. The Brexit might provide an excuse to less investment that could accelerate its end and bring about the next global crisis. However, whatever the economic consequences of the Brexit they would be small or irrelevant compared to some of the economic and monetary crisis that the change of times has waiting for us. The future of the euro and the EU look bleak, but also the future of the BAU system as the descent of the ERoEI cliff continues.

    The Brexit appears more as a consequence of the different world we now live in, that most people have failed to notice. To them unimaginable things are happening and they look at contributing factors as causes that can explain what happens within a frame of reference that is no longer valid.

    We are going to continue seeing things that a decade ago we thought were not possible. The chaotic nature of things makes specific predictions impossible, but think of a flock of black swans coming home to rooster.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Frankly the EU has been quite fed up with the UK for decades so the temptation is there to say good riddance. Perhaps this is best for everybody involved.

      Javier, I think this is true. The UK has so many opt outs we are close to associate membership in any case. I think it would be best for the EU enthusiasts to be rid of the UK as a full member. But it does raise the question of how many countries may want to go the same route as Britain – enjoy the benefits while avoiding the pain. But it does raise the question of why there should be any pain in the first place.

      The root cause of the problem is the division between those countries that want full political union and those that don’t. It makes perfect sense to me that two forms of membership are created – Full and Associate.

      There could be some truth in what you say about misallocation of blame. Brits may be using the EU as a scape goat to vent general frustration with declining living standards.

  13. A C Osborn says:

    You do not need “open borders” or “free movement” of people to bring workers here.
    The Australian Points System allows migrants short & long term workers entry.
    The advantage to that system is that you know who you are bringing in and where they are supposed to be.

    Europe currently has over 1 million Economic Migrants (they are not Refugees) of completely unknown pedigree, many of whom have destroyed their documents, with many more on their way.

    Those people are going to have to be integrated in to Europe because Ms Merkel says so.
    You may well be looking at the largest infiltration of Terrorists the world has ever seen, nobody knows for sure.
    Once integrated in to Europe they can travel anywhere without restraint or “security Intelligence” of any kind.

    We currently get just as many migrants from outside the EU and they are vetted, as are most migrants trying to get in to any modern economy.

    As to the EU re-distribution of wealth, the organisation with all it’s “excesses” wates more money than it ever re-distributes and we and the recipients would be better off cutting out that very expensive middle man.

    • Guber says:

      This is not because of Mrs Merkel -another scapegoat. The Problem is the people come over the border somewhere, and the ones on the other side of the border don’t take them back, nor do their home countries take them back. So what to do with them. Merkel tried to solve the problems in Budapest at the beginning, resulting in everybody else transporting surplus reugees as fast as possible to Germany. Leaving the refugees starving at the border was impossible, letting them in was a bit less impossible. Finding solutions then to keep people where they were was also not helped so much by others, e.g. Greece which always rejected proper border control as long as refugees simply could be Transportes to the northern border, and the Problem was gone as far as Greece was concerned. What would UK do if the States further South would organize boat Trips for those who want to go to UK? A simple and at the same time humanitarian solution would be hard to find.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Gunther, the problem here is Schengen Zone and naivety on behalf of Merkel. The blame here certainly does not lie only with Germany, but with US and UK involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. The best place for Syrian refugees is in Syria. And if that means living under the protection of the Assad regime so be it.

        Russia I believe had the right approach here. European, US and NATO policies are in tatters. On this thread Javier is probably most on message. Some areas gaining wealth. Some losing it. Education, internet, social media, transmission of information, sectarian divides (more important than racial divides I believe) have created a cauldron. Its possible that in the weeks / months ahead that events overtake Brexit to make it look irrelevant.

        • Andy Dawson says:


          I normally have great respect for you, but – “And if that means living under the protection of the Assad regime”?

          Are you entirely serious?

          It wasn’t Islamists who initially rose up against Assad, but ordinary Syrians, and it’s not Islamists on the receiveing end of the majority of barrel bombs, etc.

          One small point on Afghanistan – in fact, large numbers of refugees have RETURNED since the fall of the Taliban, rather than have fled.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Andy, I watched a news clip some months ago. A middle class Syrian woman, refugee. She said:

            I used to live a beautiful life in Syria.

            And when asked did she blame the insurgents or the government for the war she replied:

            I blame the insurgents for starting the trouble and the government for not protecting us.

            This has stuck with me. I will not try to don the mantle of Middle East geopolitical expert. But I have developed the opinion that the only way these artificial multi-tribal and multi-sectarian countries created by “us” can be ruled is by dictatorship. The level of benevolence may depend upon which side you are on. Syria was not a rich country. But they had schools and hospitals. And I have it first and that some of the refugees are very well educated and trained.

            And so while I don’t want to paint Assad as a saint I really don’t know where he lies on a scale of 1 to 10 between saint and sinner. His country was hi-jacked by the Arab Spring that fell on the back of the 2008 finance crash, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan etc.

            I don’t think you should look at what Assad has done since the civil war began because he is defending himself and his supporters. But instead look at how Syria was before – and I don’t know the answer to that myself.

            Look to Libya and ask were they better off under Gaddafi or now?

          • steve says:

            Euan. My local shop was run by a well educated Syrian Christian who had fled his town amid the fighting. Both sides wanted his family to join the fight and they said it was not their war. The church had been raided and the treasures stolen.

            He said that they were fed up with Assad, who is by the way, just the figurehead of his clan. It was things like having to pay for planning permission and obstruction by officials when trying to do anything that annoyed them. I said it sounded quite similar to what happens here.

            But they were safe and had a good standard of life before. Now he has had to move as it became illegal to employ him. I hope he and his family are surviving.

            The Arab Spring may have been linked to US/EU policy called ‘transformational diplomacy’. What a balls up.

        • gweberbv says:

          GWeberBV ≠ Guber!

          (But I think what Guber states above makes a lot of sense. Today the news reports that as the Balkan route is closed, boat trips from North Africa to Italy are strongly increasing. And what will Italy try to do with the people landing on their beaches? Trying to send them north as fast as possible.
          Don’t blame Schengen: Their was never a Schengen agreement between US and Mexico – but millions of people somehow managed to cross the border. You need a border control of the North Korean type to really stop that from happening.)

  14. renewstudent says:

    I think we will not see £350m per week made available for the NHS, a halt to eastern EU immigration, a massive boom due to open trade outside the EU or any of the other wonders that were promise by the leave brigade. Instead I suspect we will have a massive recession and worsening social and economic prospects. I hope not.

    I’m all for dissent and resistance to elites but what we have had is a reactionary push led by a small London elite, exploiting the real grievances (and also prejudices) of many people who they have nothing in common with.

    I think the EU ( and EC especially) needs radical change, but kicking it to bits, as extreme right wing groups across the EU seem to want, is surely not the answer. We need transnational links of all sorts to aid cooperation and structure competition. The EU provided a key political regulatory and economic framework for the ex communist states, and for the existing western EU powers, so that now we have at least a chance of avoiding conflicts and managing the future equitably and sustainably. Or are you saying that it is not possible or desirable, and that we must all go it alone?

    • steve says:

      The £350m/week on the NHS was an advertising mistake by the Leave PR employees,who were also a mistake in my view. UKIP and Leave campaigners made clear that the net figure was around £10bn/year and the NHS spending and other is part of this. A saving and spending list can be found online.

      Another piece of Fear which is totally untrue is that deportations of EU citizens already here is planned. The UKIP manifesto and Leave ministers have made this clear. Some people may remember the Ch4 ‘documentary’ last year which had police raiding immigrant and deportations and was intended to harm UKIP before the election. Mrs May also thought sending vans around with ads telling illegal immigrants they were on their trail also did not help. In fact she picks up illegals and takes them in stretched limos to stay in hotels.

      The London elite in fact is overwhelmingly in favour of Remain, as are Goldman Sachs and they funded Fear. They are currently trying to make sure the politicians who broke rank are kept out of the way and that they stay in charge, helped by the millenial mainly London based twitters.

      England has the highest population density in Europe except Holland. We have not managed to build more than about 140k houses/year and,as a retired architect I know that finding suitable sites and gaining permission is difficult and expensive. Last year we issued 630k NI cards to EU arrivals who also sometimes have dependents.The official figures are based on airport survey asking whether arrivals intend to stay over a year. Most go home but then come back.I have Polish friends who tell me what happens. Try looking at the Nationwide housing affordability graph and the NAO net migration graph the London and SE lines are similar, except for the drop when mortgages fell after the crash. Do you ever want to buy your own home or half affordable rents?

      As my Scottish mate said when he came out to E.London to see me on the District Line-“Who voted for this”.

  15. artberman says:

    Thanks, Euan, for your perspective. As an American, I have a decidedly arms-length view of the EU. I was struck by this comment in the Wall Street Journal the morning after the Brexit vote:

    “Brexit ought to be the wake-up call the EU needs to return to serving as a common market that encourages growth and competition, and not—as it has become since the late 1980s—an innovation-killing superstate obsessed with regulatory harmonization, tax hikes, green-energy dogma and anticompetitive antitrust enforcement.”

    For what it’s worth, I see the Brexit vote and the populist revolt in U.S. politics as reactions to the worsening global economy in which life is harder for most than it used to be. Rightly or wrongly, people blame the political, economic, financial and academic establishments.

    Several EU member states (PIIGS) are effectively insolvent and the EU has underwritten their deficits with little hope of any real solution, just stop-gap injections of capital to postpone the inevitable demise of the EU for a few years. Negative interest rates suggest that the EU has opted for no growth so that sovereign debt payments remain manageable. How can people possibly be satisfied with this grim future outlook?

    Perhaps the hand-wringing about the colossal blunder of the U.K. is really fear that the truth will be exposed. In game theory, even terrible outcomes are tolerated as long as all the players continue to tell the same story. The U.K. has broken ranks.

    I agree with Dave R. that Obama has his views about the U.K. that most Americans do not share. I certainly don’t.


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Thanks Art, I watched somewhere a piece on post-war Germany where their finance minister tore up all the laws of the Third Reich and totally deregulated German industry. This led to an economic boom and set Germany on its way to become the industrial power house that it is. At the same time the UK was becoming increasingly regulated with wide spread state ownership of industry. At the same time the EU was formed and the UK mistakingly believed that German prosperity was founded on the Common Market and wanted to join.

      I think its fair to say that Germany has continued to prosper despite the EU. It may not be this movie that describes this.

      A lot here may be inaccurate. I thought about running this beforehand – but we do try to stick to energy, and I expected a remain vote.

      • A C Osborn says:

        Euan, the massive rebuilding of Germany and the inward investment after the war may have helped a bit.
        On the reverse all the UK got was a colossal war debt to the USA.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Art, if you have an hour and want to get one perspective then this is the video I watched. Its from about 19 minutes that describes how the UK F*d things up while Germany got things right post WWII.

        Apologies to European friends about banging on about WWII where the hatchet is well and truly buried long ago. But the journey we are on began then and its quite important to try and understand how we reached this point.

        The UK is “descending into political chaos”. A major problem is the Labour party has adopted a wholly unworkable model for electing its leader. Watching the news tonight we have the following.

        1) There will be leadership election for new leader of Tory party. The winner becomes prime minister. Nominations open on Wednesday.

        2) There will be leadership challenge in the Labour party who in their current configuration are on course for oblivion.

        3) There will likely be a General Election in the UK before the end of the year.

        4) The Scottish Nationalists may well demand a new referendum on independence. The settlement for the Scottish Parliament includes a guarantee of EU membership.

        And so, while it is understandable that the EU would want the UK to get things moving quickly, I think we have a rudderless ship.

        Googling around, I see a number of references proposing the UK get associate membership of the EU and so we will hopefully continue to buy Mercedes Benz, Audis, BMWs, VWs and Porsches by the million. And we will continue to make BMW Minis and sell them to France and Spain.

        The UK will be open to trade with the rest of the world and may prosper and able to buy even more of this stuff from Germany. What’s not to like?

      • robertok06 says:

        “This led to an economic boom and set Germany on its way to become the industrial power house that it is.”

        Sorry… can’t agree on this… how about the Marshall Plan to rescue Europe from the influence of the URSS?

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Well the movie says that UK received twice as much as Germany from the Marshall plan. But its open season on how accurate the information fed to the UK electorate was from both sides.

          Watching the exchanges in the European Parliament today I realise how truly shit the campaign was conducted – from both sides. Trouble is, I don’t think anyone in the UK understands how the EU works. We should never have been asked to vote on something wed don’t understand. Equally we should not be part of something so opaque and complex.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            As it seems it’s less a problem that the EU is relaly Opaque, but the problem that you can’t see clearly the things at which you never look. A basic problem in Politics in any country more or less.

          • A C Osborn says:

            Speak for yourself Euan, I have been looking in to the EU for nearly as long as I have CAGW.
            I knew exactly what I was voting for.
            Anybody who voted while listening to the Politicians and the people the Remain team brought in without doing any research themselves have done both themselves and the country a massive dis-service.
            Whilst the Leave team exaggerated a great deal the remain team outright lied. They new exactly what was taking place in Europe, especially about Turkey joining and what was about to happen that is discussed in this Report.
            Which the Authors have brought forward in response to Brexit.

  16. gweberbv says:

    Back to energy policy: The EU is currently investing about 650 million euros per year to support ‘projects of common interest’ for the energy market. Most of this projects are interconnectors – and a lot of them are related to UK. If UK does not get most of the interconnectors that are planned for the next 5 to 7 years, this could have significant consequences for its electricity market.

    • Andy Dawson says:

      Considerably less than the impact of Austria f*cking about with our rights to decide our own energy policy.

      Still, let’s give you an example of a “constructive” EU intervention in Energy Policy:

      the EU mandated “Smart Meters” – a programme that will cost the UK industry about £15 BILLION.

      Then, once the programmes is underway across the continent – and failing – guess what?

      “A transition to an intelligent electricity grid in Europe can take place without smart meters, industry players have said, in comments that will embarrass the European Commission, which pushed a Europe-wide plan to roll out smart meters years ago.

      There are other more efficient ways than smart meters to help develop intelligent power grids, said industry delegates at the annual convention of Europe’s electricity association Eurelectric, held in Vilnius last week…Germany, for instance, has decided not to have a national roll-out plan at all, running counter to requirements laid out in EU legislation.”

      But, that’s not the end of the ineptitude…

      The EC proposed – for no particularly good reason other than “compliance” to change the UK’s energy balancing and settlement system from a 30 minute interval to a 15 minute one. Never mind that we’ve managed to trade perfectly effectively over interconnectors for 20 years with the mismatch.

      So, that involves scappring a couple of million meters already installed, and another couple of million or so already in the supply chain, and doubling the capacity of the national data transmission infrastructure – it’s a mere £ billion or so….

      It also means rebuilding every single market player’s balancing and settlement system, plus rebuilding the software for the national balancing and settlement system – which finished a £200 million refresh in 2015. It’s probably p*ssing away another £billion or so.

      On energy, the EU isn’t capable of finding it’s collective rear-end with both hands.

      So, please go on….I look forward to your defence of this lot!

      • gweberbv says:


        as usual the EU leaves plenty of space for each country to do what they want:

        “Member States shall ensure the implementation of intelligent metering systems that shall assist the active participation of consumers in the electricity supply market. The implementation of those metering systems may be subject to an eco­nomic assessment of all the long-term costs and benefits to the market and the individual consumer or which form of
        intelligent metering is economically reasonable and cost-effective and which timeframe is feasible for their distribution.

        Where roll-out of smart meters is assessed positively, at least 80 % of consumers shall be equipped with intelligent meter­
        ing systems by 2020.”


        If UK government decides that every cowshed needs a smart meter, then do not blame the EU for it.

        (What I do not understand with regard to smart meters: These meters are exchanged every decade or so, right? What’s the problem with replacing the traditional meters with slightly upgraded machines that have a processor and a WiFi antenna? Extra costs for the whole system should be less than 25 bucks, if you order a few millions of them.)

        • jacobress says:

          Why is it necessary for the EU to issue regulations on smart metering?
          Given the vague language of the regulation, it seems to be void of any meaning, and is the result of bureaucrats engaged in occupation therapy. It is typical on two counts: the result is 1. unnecessary, and 2. meaningless.

          • Guber says:

            Well ask your own Gouverments why they wanted to have Smart meters for whole Europe. It was not started by EU Parlament and as far as I see also not by Commission. Or the other way round – why is your Gouverment and the other Gouverments not allowed to install Smart meters coordinates to have the possibility to decrease costs by high Demand? It did not happen against a vote of a member States gouverment. I do not say it the law was the best possible Idea in the hindsight. You just need to see the origin is usually not in Bruxelles. Because the EU Parlament can not start it, beside rare topics, Unelected EU employees can not start it, the Commission can start it, usually by proposal from member States. Then Parlament and Gouverments have to decide, the Gouverments can overrule Parlament if all States vote for it.

          • steve says:

            We had a smart meter installed last year, as I was fed up with clearing the cupboard out in order to read the old one. The gasman found a very small leak, turned us off and buggered off leaving us cold. It was just a small turn of a nut inside the newly fitted boiler. They turned us back on. The cost of this installation is about £400.

            Over 9 months we have not on any occasion found that we have been able to turn anything off or down to save ‘gas and lecky’. But I did find that the Energy company had quietly put our tariff up and we were paying £200 over the odds- so we changed supplier.

            After accepting the order and being told that we had a smart meter, they informed us that their equipment could not read the other supplier’s smart meters. So now I have to crawl in and press the buttons 9 times and guess which of the numbers on a dark screen is the reading. Even the meter reader found it difficult.

            If the whole smart grid is as smart as the smart meters we are wasting an awful lot of money.

        • jacobress says:

          ” The EU is currently investing about 650 million euros per year… for inter-connectors”

          Why do we need the EU for that? You don’t connect to the EU, inter-connectors are bilateral (between two countries). Any two countries can build all the inter-connectors they need, regardless of the EU.

          • gweberbv says:


            the very general answer is that the EU is an institution to take care of issues of common interest for the member states. Improving the trade of electricity across the borders obviously is of common interest. In the same way the EU tries to improve highway and railway connections between the members states.

            Offering a stable framework for the cooperation of countries is obviously more efficent than letting each country negotiate with each other country for each individual project each time in an individual manner.

            If the smart meter roll-out will make any sense, then only when you have enough countries following it to make it profitable for the transnational corporations building washing machines, heat pumps, etc. to incorporate ‘smart’ features in their machines. (I have already written above that I do not see why this roll-out should be associated with significant extra costs. A smart meter is a very dumb device compared to cheap consumer electronics like a WiFi router.)

          • Guber says:

            No, Grids are obviously not just the concern of two countries. E.g for UK a Connector to the Netherlands would be qite useless without further connections from the Netherlands all over Europe. Thisvjust Shows how much you take the work of the EU for granted without thinking that without the EU e.g. UK would have to take care that their interconnectors Stretch far enough into the continent to connect so many power stations of all kinds that there always is one which can sell surplus power. The same for every other thinds. E.g in London there is the central Institution for pharmaceuticals. Without it UK pharmaceutical comanies which want to Export to Europe would have to register their products in 28 Single States with different rules. Someone has to finance the 600employees in London alone ( which replace many more employees which would be necessary for 28 local Registration offices. Now some people in UK think they can get the Service fo such Institutions without paying for them.

          • jacobress says:

            “The same for every other thinds. E.g in London there is the central Institution for pharmaceuticals. Without it UK pharmaceutical comanies which want to Export to Europe would have to register their products in 28 Single States with different rules”

            No need for “28 states with different rules”. The 28 states can still accept the certification of the Institution even without London being formally part of the EU in every other respect. Anyone can accept it, even outside the EU.

            For example: in Israel certification of the London Institute and also the USA FDA are accepted and recognized. Problem solved.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I’m afraid Gunter we dump EU energy policy, generate our own electricity like we have always done, and then don’t need the inter connectors.

  17. Willem Post says:

    Cannot move from their country of original landing?
    They must be prevented from leaving their own country.
    Those who land should be immediately arrested for illegal entry, and given some food and water, and immediately given a trip back to where they come from. “your plane or vessel is standing by for you service”
    Once word gets out 1 in 1000 makes, they give up.

    • Guber says:

      And if you try to send them back they are rejected at the next border and you have them back. So ignoring law and Constitution and build concentration Camps again??? If it would be as easy as you think there would be no immigrants Problem.

  18. ristvan says:

    Euan, many thanks for that personal perspective. Brexit is complicated. It is interesting to watch this play out over the next months. The thoughtless panicked prognostications widely reported in the media are evidence that belief systems have been shaken. Retroactive application of a proposed law? Do-overs? Ignore the results? Scotland will invoke devolution LCM when the expressely reserved Parliamentary affairs (not devolved) include immigration, foreign policy, and trade? Good. Now we know how to clear the decks tpo let remaining rational adults put together a better arrangement.
    Three things seem quite clear in general. A combination of the Euro mess (monetary without fiscal union is per se doomed to fail eventually as Greece and now Italy are showing), the immigration mess (EU citizens welfare benefits shopping, non EU alien culture flood), and stifling EU bureaucratic over-regulation (tea kettle wattage limits, as if it did not take a fixed amount of watts to boil a liter of water!) all say the EU experiment is failing in several fundamental ways. UK was just first to act on this growing realization. I doubt it will be the last.
    Brexit does not mean the UK leaves Europe. Just leaves the problem fraught EU.

  19. jacobress says:

    The EU seems to be dominated by command and control freaks. For example: why did they need to impose the metric system by force? (by regulation). Would the EUnion have crumbled if people were allowed to use whatever measures system they feel most comfortable with?
    I, personally, use the metric system, but I don’t see why my preference needs to be imposed on others.

  20. Flocard says:


    Because uncertainty is dangerous for all economies, initially I thought that moving fast on the Brexit issue was important.

    On the other hand, reading the newspapers I realize that the people who within UK pushed for Brexit had absolutely no idea on the kind of agreement they wanted to reach ultimately with EU and with countries individually (did they understand the implications of theTouquet agreement for instance. One can doubt it).

    To be frank the quality of the debate over Brexit never appeared to me of a very high level. But we are used to that with French politics.

    Because of this absence of prior reflexion as to the consequences I believe now that it is best to wait and let the emotion subside. it is crucial that at least some serious common reflexion be engaged within UK on what it wants for its future in relation with its neighbours.

    No serious discussion either with Europe and individual countries can take place presently. Even Europe is in a state of shock and not prepared for a calm interaction with UK.

    Anyhow according to the treaties the agenda is mostly under the control of UK

    In my opinion the situation calls for new elections in which candidates (whether they pushed for Brexit or not) taking into account the irreversibility of the vote, explain to their prospective electors how they want to negotiate Brexit over the next two years.

    After all there are all sorts of possibilities with intermediate exemples such as Norway or Switzerland

    It is also important that although it probably did not vote for Brexit the interests of the significant British community living on the continent be taken into account. I know for example that in the southwest and southeast of France it is much present and very appreciated* (one brit man and one britwomen are part of the city council of the village where my cousin is mayor). On the other hand this community crucially depends for instance on an access to the French health system via agreements with UK which were formerly part of the general UE global system. It will have to be renegotiated.

    Given the task of undoing and replacing 43 years of agreements over two years it is also my my feeling that hiring civil servants for the task will be necessary.

    I am not too much concerned for the rather large French community in UK (London is one of the largest French cities. A city immersed of course within a larger British city). They are predominantly young and educated people. They do not ask much from the UK system. They should either survive Brexit as well as any british citizen or move with the jobs if the jobs move away.

    PS My son in law is british but did not vote because he lives in Paris for more than 15 years.

    • gweberbv says:


      what makes me wonder is the participation of UK in all the EU programs. For example the EU spends roughly 10 billion per year for supporting research projects in the member states. This is a significant part of the overall research budget of all EU states. UK is one major player. All projects that have UK involved in any way are now heading to an uncertain future. Moreover, all new applications for funding where UK researchers/institutions are contributing have now a big questions mark and will probably turned down as long as no agreement is reached between UK and EU how to proceed. Most of the research stuff and all of the students are on temporary contracts. If one has to wait 2 years or longer, a significant part of European research will basicly be shutdown in meantime.

      And this is just one aspect of the EU where I have a little bit of insight.

  21. disdaniel says:

    I see Brexit as an “own goal” on behalf of England–can’t figure out how it will possibly be good for the English economy. EU and Britain must now re-negotiate terms of trade, along with many other countries. I don’t see how Brits get a better deal on trade on their own than they did as part of EU.

    I think Ireland may benefit as US firms that selected London as “port of entry” to EU shift staff to other European hubs. My biggest ongoing European expense for my 1 man firm has been paying lawyers in London to help navigate the EU patent system. With England now leaving, I expect to find a lawyer in an EU country (English speaking will help) for future matters. (Obviously I represent an infinitesimal piece of the world economy…)

    • A C Osborn says:

      Do you realise it is not all about Trade & Finance, just as it is not all about Immigration.
      It is about getting back control of our own country and shedding another layer of Government.
      Small government is good, big government is a disaster.

  22. Roger Beesley says:

    Mr. Mearns,
    As you have described this as an opinion piece I would like to throw in my two cents worth:
    Firstly it is apparent that were another referendum to be held, “Remain” would win by 20 points. If I hear another “I was only protesting David Cameron, I never thought Leave would win”, I will scream! If I were still living in Wembley instead of Clearwater Florida (God has truly smiled upon me) I would have voted Remain, as I did in the referendum of 1975. One of the (few) advantages of advanced age, I am 68, is that we have lived just a bit of history: There are those who say that Britain was fine before the EU and will be fine post EU. Well have I got news for you mate, in the 60s, 70s and early 80s Britain was a bloody shambles, socially, industrially and politically. We had a free trade area in Europe, called EFTA, it failed, we were free to trade with the Commonwealth but could not compete with the rising economies of Europe and Asia. There are some fantasists like Daniel Hannan MEP who believe that there is some “Anglosphere” that exists and is just waiting for Whitehall to resume control, fat chance! For how much longer do you think that RR engines will power the Airbus fleet? How about the next generation of weapons such as Eurofighter, is Bae going to be involved? If Scotland splits which is almost certain now, there goes the permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Whitehall isn’t going to be too pleased about that. To those who “want our Country back”, I ask when did Westminster ever give a rats rear end about the opinions of the British people; exhibit 1; mass 3rd world immigration particularly from the Indian sub continent, poll after poll showed the mass of the native British opposed to that policy, did they care?
    Where now? As I see it Britain has to delay exit until after the next referendums, which may be in Italy, Holland or France, a second defeat would change the whole equation, the political effort now has to be remain under the best conditions available, the alternative is to crawl back in in 10 years and swallow the whole sh*t sandwich.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roger, commentary and opinion like this is most welcome but I disagree with quite a bit of what you have to say. The older guys like you and I (I’m 58) overwhelmingly voted to leave. But that leaves a young population, the future, who wanted to stay. But in a referendum of such complexity the young are voting with their hearts.

      We have de-facto a political and constitutional crisis in the UK of unprecedented scale right now. But everything is calm, including the markets.

      What the UK wants and what Europe needs is for the UK to remain in the common market. Free movement of people is linked to this. I really value my freedom to move around Europe. And I also recognise that UK demographics needs net immigration to keep the economy alive. I think Cameron struck a deal on this but singularly failed to get that message across in the fear campaign fought by both sides.

      Your concluding sentence is thought provoking. EU laws are set so that the country wanting to leave sets the time table 😉 Its bonkers! European leaders are in Bruxelles tonight trying to work out how to prevent lots more countries wanting to leave. I think the slightest hint of doing this via retribution will send many members heading for the exits. The single market is I believe something all Europeans want.

      • A C Osborn says:

        Roger, the improvements in the UK had nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with North Sea Oil & Gas.

        There will be no next generation Europen Fighter with UK involvement, we have gone with the Yanks on the F35, so that is something else the EU will have to finance for themselves along with their Army and Border Patrol.

        Why would Scotland split? Is a vote to stay in the EU as part of the UK staying in, the same as a vote for staying in the EU on their own?

        You need to do some research on where the EU “Superstate” is going, we do not want to be any part of it under any circumstances.

  23. Dave Rutledge says:

    Hi Euan,

    Is it hypocritical for the Scottish Nationalist Party to complain about England and Wales voting to leave the EU when the SNP party goal is Scottish Independence through the same referendum mechanism? It looks to me like the only difference is that the Scots wimped out, while the English and Welsh did not.

    And following up on Rud Istvan’s comment, do you understand the mechanism by which English and Welsh citizens gave up their right to regulate tea kettle power to the EU? I do not understand how reducing tea kettle power would reduce energy consumption. Is the idea that people will make fewer cups of tea if it is less convenient to heat the water?


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Dave, I just don’t understand the attitude of the SNP. Why would you want to leave a successful economic and currency union and trade that to become one of the PIIGSS. And with oil the way it is, we ain’t got no economy either.

      It seems that UK will get a Norway style deal. Inside the common market. Pay something for that privilege. But the real stumbling block is immigration. I think when confronted with trade deal or no trade deal, a compromise will have to be struck. Not sure who will be best to haggle. Theresa May may feel she has no mandate to compromise. So its maybe better that Boris gets the top job.

      The FOOTSIE is now above the level of June 23rd.

      • Dave Rutledge says:

        Hi Euan,

        Thanks for your reply. Norway and Switzerland seem to be doing fine to me. And if there is a policy error, they know who is responsible and how to replace them.


      • Dave Rutledge says:

        Hi Euan,

        “The FOOTSIE is now above the level of June 23rd.”

        Yes, better than the S&P500.


  24. OpenSourceElectricity says:

    @ Dave Rutledge – well and both take over almost all EU legislation without participating in the legislation, and without the choice not to take it over. Swizerland is also part of the Schengen Treaty.

    As it seeems Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (Kemal) runs away from responsibility. Well in case of emergency he also has american citicenship.

    • A C Osborn says:

      No he did not “run away” his chance of becoming PM was shafted by Gove and May.
      There was little point in him putting his name forward.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        AC, do any of us know where May and Gove lie on the Blue – Green spectrum. Gove was educated in Aberdeen and one of my baby brothers in law was at school with him. Best I say no more.

        • A C Osborn says:

          Not that I am aware of.
          Have you seen the latest government announcement from Amber Rudd at DECC, they are going ahead with their Climate Change Carbon Budget.

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