Article 50

National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination

Gerhard Schroder, Chancellor of Germany 1998 – 2005

Leaving the EU – Making it Legal

For those of us who argued long and hard for the UK to relinquish its membership of the European Union, today is a momentous day. The British Government will give notice formally to the EU, through the office of the President of the European Council, that the UK is triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. As a telling indicator of the nature of the European Union, before 2009 it was illegal for any member state to leave the EU. It took a British lawyer to draft Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon to bring at least a flavour of democracy to that Treaty. Imagine joining your local golf club on the understanding that if you chose to relinquish your membership of that club, you’d be taken to court. That’s Napoleonic law for you.

Red Letter Day

The Moraymint family calendar now has this day marked up in large red letters and will be recognised today and annually hereafter with a bottle of champagne. I suppose, out of spite, post-Brexit the EU could place an enormous export duty on French champagne being shipped to the UK – in which case English Nyetimber it shall be.

Prepared to Walk Away

The parties to the exit negotiations have up to 2 years from today to come to some agreement about what the UK’s withdrawal from the EU means in practice. If no agreement is reached within 2 years then either the European Council can sanction an extension to the negotiations, or the UK walks away. Any half-decent negotiator will tell you that leaving your counter-party with the prospect of you walking away from a negotiation is a no-brainer. Being prepared to reach a deal at any cost opens the door to the UK being screwed over by the European Union. It strikes me that some people in the Remain camp are, even now, prepared to see the UK screwed over by the EU; a sort of Remain rearguard action, perhaps?

The EU Yesterday and Today

The original intentions of the EU’s founding fathers may have been well meaning. However, over the course of 60 years, since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU has morphed from being a club ostensibly focused on economic cooperation to being a nascent superstate characterised by contempt for democracy. Whilst it was a close-run thing, it didn’t really surprise me that the majority of people of this country voted for the UK to leave the European Union. At the time of the EU Referendum, my head said we would vote Remain, my heart said we’d vote Leave. What shocked me at the time was the extraordinary level of propaganda associated with the supposed catastrophic consequences of the UK leaving the EU: total economic disaster; World War III; the collapse of civilisation (all were cited). To some extent that propaganda theme pervades, but its credibility (not that it had much in the first place) does seem to be diminishing by the day.

To this day, I’ve yet to see a Remainian argue cogently that, on balance, it is better for the UK to be governed by a foreign oligarchy than by its own elected Parliament; for the UK to pool its sovereignty with 27 other nations and have less than 4% of the voting rights in any decision-making process affecting 64 million British people’s lives; to open our borders to 500 million foreigners purely in the name of free trade, and to hell with the cultural, social and internal security consequences.

Different Histories

The UK muddled along nicely thank you for 1,000 years before Jean Monnet et al conceived the European Union (as we know it today). You could choose virtually any history of the English-speaking peoples you like and you would discover that it is we who invented freedom – and it is we, the people of the United Kingdom today who remain the greatest advocates on earth of freedom and democracy. We live for these tenets; we die for them.

This is all terribly baffling to our fellow members of the European Union. Many, if not most of our EU colleagues simply cannot believe that the UK intends to recover its sovereignty, to bring its law-making back in-house and to pursue trading relationships with not only the nations of Europe, but also the rest of the world. The histories of the nations of the European continent are, obviously, quite different to that of our islands sitting here offshore to that landmass. It’s beyond the scope of this post to wax lyrical about why the British people are what they are today, to explain our norms, values and beliefs. Suffice to say that on matters of law-making, freedom and democracy there’s little question that we, the British people, think quite differently to the European Union groupthink which prevails today.

I have never understood why public opinion about European ideas should be taken into account at all

Raymond Barre, Prime Minister of France 1976 – 81

The day of the nation state is over

Roman Herzog, President of Germany 1994 – 99

The End Game

It is that groupthink which contains the seeds of the EU’s destruction; those seeds inhabit also the economic madness that is the euro currency. That economic madness manifests itself as social destruction in those countries which should never have adopted the currency in the first place. There’s only so long that 500 million people can be coerced. Again, it’s beyond the scope of this post to set out in any detail why the European Union is doomed. It may take 10 years; it may take 3 years; the EU may survive for another generation. My own view is that the EU’s days are numbered and that its fall will come within my lifetime, and possibly sooner rather than later. The task for Europe’s political leaders will be to manage the unwinding of the European Union under control and peacefully. My fear is that they’re not up to the task; indeed, dismantling the European Union is probably unthinkable to its core politicians, if not most of the Union’s political elites; it’s that groupthink again.


Anyway, that’s the future; but today’s the day. Today’s the day we the British people start the process of extricating ourselves from a failing union, a cooperative founded upon deceit and which many of us will be glad to see receding in the rear-view mirror. All the best to the European Union. Meantime, Cheers! to the United Kingdom, freedom and democracy.

The UK belongs to the EU

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament 2012 – 17



Notwithstanding the post above, if you remain convinced that the UK’s future lies within the European Union, spend a few minutes watching this …



  1. David Norman · ·

    A red letter day indeed. For me democracy and accountability are the bedrocks of a free society. So I see this day as an important day in the continued progress, I hope, towards democracy triumphing over the idea, regularly disproved by the EU, that we are best governed by a ‘wise’ elite that ignores the wishes of ordinary voters. I agree with so much of what you say here and in your four posts on the run up to the referendum that for me to recite my reasons for voting leave would be repetitive. I will simply say that I view the EU as being undemocratic, unaccountable, arrogant, sclerotic and corrupt. Further, because of the way it operates it is quite incapable of reacting swiftly to meet changing circumstances or of reversing policies that have shown themselves to be failures.

    Because of the heat generated by the debate and its polarization, it is I think easy to assume that nearly all who voted either way had no qualms about doing so. In spite of the strong views just expressed I did have a few qualms that caused me to waver towards voting remain even if not very far. Here they are.

    1. That leaving the EU would lead to Scotland leaving the UK. I assume this issue is close to your heart. I am a convinced Unionist who views himself as British first and English a long way second. William Hague, who I suspect may have been a remainer only by a short head, wrote a thoughtful piece in the Telegraph just before the referendum in which he expressed his concerns about this. Despite the antics of Nicola Sturgeon I am, for reasons I can’t really put my finger on, rather less anxious about this than I was nine months ago.

    2. That with our opt outs from the Euro and Schengen we had, free movement/immigration apart, something approaching the best of both worlds; tariff free access to the single market and exemption from the EU’s worst policies. However, if the EU continues on it present ‘ever closer union’ path the UK would, I am sure, have come under increasing pressure to abandon those opt outs and I’m afraid I have no real faith that our politicians would have steadfastly resisted that pressure.

    3. I agree with you that sooner or later the EU will fall apart under the weight of its internal contradictions. It might have made for an easier life for the UK to wait for that to happen, and pick up the pieces in the restructuring of Europe that would follow, than to struggle through what will undoubtedly be a messy divorce. The problem with this is that the EU may yet stumble on for another decade or two or three still trying to reach its nirvana of a United States of Europe and in the process continuing to undermine democracy in the UK.

    Of course none of these arguments was usable by the remain campaign on the run up to the referendum; even the second would have put noses out of joint in the EU. The campaign was, as you say based entirely around economics and the economic doom that would follow a vote to leave. The campaign contained no vision at all for the simple reason that the only vision available was of a United States of Europe which they knew the voters did not want and never had wanted.

    I have become so used to the routine insults from remainers since the referendum – that leave voters were deluded, stupid, ignorant, uneducated, quite probably racist and didn’t know what they were voting for – that they now have no impact. But a line taken by Tim Farron the other day did get under my skin: he said he was ashamed of the leave vote on behalf of his children and grandchildren. This (trigger warning for mounting my high horse here) is a man who voted for the Referendum Bill, so deliberately handing to the voters the right to decide whether the UK should remain or leave, but now openly displays a sneering contempt for the majority because they didn’t vote the way he wanted them to; conduct actually worth being ashamed of I would have thought. One of the main reasons I voted leave was so that my children and grandchildren, together with other voters, would be able to vote to elect a Government democratically which would be directly accountable to them. Unsurprisingly, I’m not ashamed of that.

    Which brings me back to democracy. There is some recently published American research (2016) showing that a much lower proportion of millenials than of older generations view it as ‘essential’ to live in a democracy; similarly a higher proportion of millenials than of older generations think ‘having a democratic political system’ is a bad or very bad of running their country. These trends were evident in both the US and Europe but worse in the US. If you haven’t read this research I think you and others may find it is worth your time. Here is the link:

    I think this gives real cause for concern. Maybe we had the referendum on leaving the EU just in time.

    (I’m sorry I’m not savvy enough to make the link a hyperlink)


  2. reallyoldbill · ·

    Like you MM, my wife and I decided to celebrate this historic development by having a very nice lunch in London’s West End from which we have just returned. We will be reserving the real, headache-inducing celebrations for the day that we actually and officially leave this moribund union and leave it to its undemocratic, wasteful and wholly corrupt future; we may even host a party. After over 40 years of waiting I really had come to believe that the only way we would recover our sovereignty was for the sorry edifice to collapse around us, something which I didn’t really relish. Now, provided that our negotiators are up to the job, and they are not further obstructed by the likes of our unelected peers, the unreformed Remainer MPs and the likes of the SNP government in the North, we should be safely outside when that inevitable day finally arrives. I hope that a majority in Scotland realise that leaving one discredited political union is not reason to leave another which has proved over 300 years to be a success. Together the nations of the UK can provide a much better future for all our people than could ever have been offered by the EU. With the very best wishes from the Sunny South. Slainte!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Bill. Delighted to learn of your West End lunch. I was sat here at my desk in Moray writing a report for a client (not complaining). Now, however, I’m indulging in a tipple or two. I’m chuffed to NAAFI Breaks that we’re kicking-off the process of leaving the EU. I’m not at all convinced that we need ‘a deal’ with the EU, but see below my correspondence with carlosgoldenhorde.

      My fervent wish now is that during the process of the UK’s negotiations with the EU to strike a departure deal, the EU proceeds rapidly towards hell in a handcart.

      PS Let me have details of that party come the day we’re good and truly out of the EU. With your agreement, I’ll be there!


  3. The UK’s membership of the EU has been based on two ‘pillars’: (i) political governance & (ii) trade.

    The EU has used ‘free’ trade within the EU to coerce its members into ceding sovereignty and accepting increasing political governance from the EU.

    On June 23rd the UK effectively said ‘non’ to political governance & now only wants to have an FTA with the EU if it’s on offer. If not so be it.

    UKIP have set out six key tests to hold the government to account:

    I’m not betting my house on the government delivering them, which is why UKIP is so important to ensuring Brexit means Brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks John, and I saw and noted UKIP’s 6 Tests to which you refer.

      Despite my pleasure (well, joy actually) at what’s happening today, I’m under no illusion that the Tory government must be held to account to deliver Brexit. Not a ‘soft Brexit’; not a half-in/half-out Brexit; not some other woolly compromise, but a thoroughgoing extraction of the UK from the Treaty of Lisbon, in spirit and to the letter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Government are already in the process of delivering a ‘soft’ Brexit e.g. David Davis, the Brexit secretary stating that ‘uncontrolled’ EU immigration could go on for years after Brexit (in other words we won’t control EU immigration in any meaningful way), rumours that we won’t take back control of our fishing grounds (surely a key tenet of sovereignty) and that EU immigrants already here can still have access to full benefits, including sending home child benefits to children who don’t live here & might not even exist!

        Brexit is being conducted by a Remain dominated government & civil service, backed by a Remain Establishment & Remain media i.e. the BBC – what is there to be worried about!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. moraymint · ·

          Worrying indeed, and testament to the need for those of us so inclined to keep shouting from the rooftops that it’s not all over until the fat lady sings …


  4. Peter · ·

    Great piece as ever. Yes there are some risks with our decision but it is rather exciting too. It is definitely time to unite as a nation and I hope Remainers now let our negotiating team get the best terms and stop playing for the other side. All we need now is for the SNP to pipe down and to concentrate on Scottish healthcare, schools roads etc and stop the politics. ( But then again I sense they have no real interest in the business of government).

    As far as leaving the EU goes, I think ultimately the project is doomed we will now have first mover advantage whilst avoiding the real mess to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Ah, the SNP and indyref2! I’ll be posting on that hoary old chestnut presently.

      Only in politics could a group of people – in this case the Scottish National Party in government – abrogate their duties and responsibilities of office in such a shameless way. Pretty much wherever you look, Scotland is heading to hell in a handcart: economically, politically and, increasingly, socially.

      I think the people of Scotland are just about waking up to the disaster that is Government-by-SNP – because the SNP is not governing at all. The SNP is clearly obsessed with fighting the case for independence at literally any and all costs.

      Once again, Tony Blair has a lot to answer for …

      Liked by 1 person

  5. carlosgoldenhorde · ·

    Yes today is indeed a awesomely great day – I think I’ll make it yearly celebration too.

    But even this joyful piece, by a very committed and super-informed, commentator like Moraymint appears to contain a tiny misunderstanding of how trade really works. Surely it’s just an oversight or a slip of the tongue, but it’s an error that has tainted the discussion ever since the Brexit debate began:

    “The Moraymint family calendar now has this day marked up in large red letters and will be recognised today and annually hereafter with a bottle of champagne. I suppose, out of spite, post-Brexit the EU could place an enormous export duty on French champagne being shipped to the UK…”

    I’d say there are no examples of countries imposing tariffs or restrictions on exports, except in the special cases of national interest involving weapons or high-technology. Indeed, ‘Folk Economics’ fetishises exports and demonises imports, in exactly the way that Trump is doing now, for example.

    It’s the mis-understanding that lies at the heart of Mercantilism, the idea that trade is about exporting stuff and then getting as much gold and silver in return (that’s a plus), while at the same time restricting imports (because that’s a loss). The one with the most treasure wins.

    Adan Smith explained over 200 years in the Wealth of Nations how trade actually works. That it only happens because both sides benefit. And that because the point of having an economy in the first place is to consume as much lovely stuff as possible, then of course, the point of trade is the imports.

    Exporting is not anything special, not a sign of national virility, it’s just the hard grind we have to do to get our hands on said highly desirable imports – which are by definition the things we don’t have, but really want.

    The logical conclusion of this line of thinking is of course total multilateral free trade, with no tariffs to make these imports more expensive for UK consumers. What better way to get hold of all those imports that we so desperately desire?

    Indeed, the argument logically follows that total free trade would be in Britain’s interest even if the EU imposed tariffs on our exports. Because if the point of trade is to obtain the imports, then that would be the EU punishing its own consumers in the mistaken idea they were punishing us!

    Presumably EU bureaucrats, being very smart people, kind of understand all this, but because they are hamstrung by the EU’s Byzantine politics, the interest groups, the subsidy mills, and so on, total free trade with nations outside the single market bloc is a non-starter..

    It’s interesting to note how those old Mercantilist doctrines still lurk subliminally in our culture and governing class when trade and the balance of payments is discussed. Increased exports are treated as highly news-worthy by the BBC you will notice. While a large surplus of manufactured imports over exports is treated as something rather worrying.

    Trade in services (70% of our economy!) are dismissed as ‘invisibles’ and nobody mentions the capital account at all which actually always, always, always, makes up the difference. The reason it’s called a ‘balance of payments’ is because it balances!

    Our trade deficit in goods + services is always, and without exception, paid for by money coming into the county from foreign investors buying companies, or govt. debt, or opening factories.

    Back to that French bubbly, contrary to Moraymint’s fears, there’s no likelihood of, or indeed mechanism for, it being taxed as it leaves Bordeaux by French officials. Even if it were possible, such a move would be totally contrary to subliminal Mercantilist thinking which of course drools over the idea of exports!

    The only way imports from Europe would be taxed is through an import tariff would imposed by British customs which, if Brexit is done right will now be 100% under UK control. Not just on French pop, but on all products from all over the world.

    And yes, one consequence of being inside the single market is that we impose tariffs on all kinds of imports forom outside the EU simply to protect certain European producers – mostly continental farmers who are vastly less efficient than their UK colleagues.

    These tariffs incidentally have a number of negative effects: they increase prices for UK consumers, they impoverish Third World farmers (eg: European sugar beet protected from Caribbean sugar cane), and they hinder the forces of competition from making European farmers more efficient.

    So by leaving the single market we’ll be well out of all that.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thank you Carlos and, yes, your brief exposition of Mercantile economics is known and understood. My point about French champagne and an EU export duty was to caricature some of the irrational nonsense that’s been trumpeted by the Remain camp and the unelected EU elites about how the UK will be punished economically for having the temerity to leave the EU. Like you, my guess is that Adam Smith will prevail. As ever, economics (which is, after all, fundamentally about human behaviour and our perennial desire to better ourselves) will trump (no pun intended) politics.

      You may wish to read Dr Tim Morgan’s comments on this post and/or indeed visit his own blog, ‘Surplus Energy Economics’, if you haven’t done so already:


      1. carlosgoldenhorde · ·

        Apologies there Moraymint I entirely missed the irony. Hardly surprising when so many otherwise sensible people seem to hold such weird beliefs. This group wrongthink infects the entire discourse. The obsession with what ‘deal’ we will negotiate is nonsensical because any deal we get will always be worse than simply having free trade. Even if it’s just free trade on our side. There’s nothing new or radical about this but for some reason there’s no room in the political / media landscape for this simple idea to be lobbied for. WTF!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. moraymint · ·

          Oh, boy yes. Like you, I’m absolutely baffled as to why the politicos (and others) think that we have to do ‘a deal’ with the EU. In my view, we should have triggered Article 50 within days of the Referendum result and then broadcast to the nations of Europe and the rest of the world that the UK has left the European Union and is now open for business; call us at anytime you like. Some would argue that that’s far too simplistic, if not an economic and legal impossibility. However, the general principle should have applied.


          1. flyer · ·

            These are interesting points. I’ve always been keen on just free trade, we’ve watched the common market morph into something sinister and don’t even get me started on the TTIP, TPPA etc.

            For all of this though, in the modern world of highly efficient value chains, e-business driven price sensitivity, much of modern business is about supplier relationships. What you can’t buy competitively, you can’t sell competitively. Businesses today, run on such tight profit margins that the loss of one or two crucial suppliers can destroy their whole business model; a volatile environment indeed.

            I have to reluctantly admit that there is a case for some trade deals, but we need to understand what are genuine facilitators of trade and those that are a Trojan Horse for something else entirely.

            Being free of the EU will be a benefit though, let’s face it, they’re not exactly good business people, they bankrupt everything they touch. We British are the original globalists, we’ll be back where we belong.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well argued and well written, MM.

    There is a case that Britain and the other members were never comfortable with the relationship anyway. For example, the British promoted the widening of the EU in order to counter the deepening that other countries’ elites probably favoured.

    Britain was never the star pupil, sitting near the front and obeying teacher – rather, the UK was the one sitting at the back, grumbling and throwing ink-pellets.

    The biggest risk as I see it is that the UK rebounds from Europe in the direction of America. That could mean more economic quackery on “neoliberal” lines, laying out an even more generous welcome-mat for big corporate interests – that kind of welcome-mat invites being trampled on.

    So what we need now is for the same public determination that defied the establishment over EU membership being equally determined to reverse the drift into neoliberalism – the public need to assert that, whilst “profit” isn’t a dirty word, it isn’t a holy word either, and demand a state-provided NHS (for example) and an end to privatisation of public services.

    Still, that is for tomorrow……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Tim and you’ve got me thinking; I hadn’t thought along those lines before now. On your latter point specifically, I’m very interested in your point that public services should be public services. I do find myself getting into a bit of an intellectual muddle about whether, say, prisons should be run by state employees (‘public servants’) or G4S; whether we really need dozens if not hundreds of ‘agencies’ and quangos instead of good, old-fashioned departments of state and so on.

      However, as you say, that’s for tomorrow.

      I’m going to get slightly unsteady on my feet tonight (only slightly) …


      1. Robert E Lee · ·

        Without specific research MM, just an impression from reading about the likes of G4S, (and SERCO), admittedly, with Private Eye as a mojor source, they would both appear to offer to the ‘security industry’ a level of competence equalled by Gary Glitter as a babysitter.
        Mr Hitchens (P) has been somewhat justifiably scathing in the past too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Good entertainment value – they attached an electronic tag to a prosthetic leg, and lost all the keys to a prison – but not so amusing when they failed over Olympic security.

          My real point is the mixed economy – some things are best done by the private sector, others best done by the state. Nationalised plumbers would be a disaster – but so would a privatised police force.

          Horses for courses, then, and something that should have been learned, once and for all, a long time ago.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I can still scarcely believe we are here. I woke up June 24th fearing the worst and was both surprised and delighted to learn we had won. However teh war is still ongoing and the likes of Farron, Heseltine, Mandleslime et al wont give up easily. I can remember reading your excellent posts in the Daily Telegraph MM when you would respond to the Euro trolls with calm patience to refute their arguments. Please keep up the good work. We need rational arguement to keep a lid on the doom and gloom merchants.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks very much and, yes, there are still very many people indeed who will stop at almost nothing to see the Brexit process undermined and, ideally for them, collapsed and reversed. For me (obviously) it beggars belief that any of my fellow citizens should prefer our country to be governed by unelected, unaccountable elites than by our own democratically elected politicians – however useless they might be. In the end, we the electorate retain control over who governs us.

      People like Mandelson, Heseltine, Farron, Clarke, Clegg and so on despise democracy if the truth were told; but people like that ain’t ever going to admit their preference for political elitism, are they?

      I’m planning to get back to commenting as Moraymint on The Telegraph website later this year. I’m locked out at the moment because my subscription is in my real name – and The Telegraph won’t let me change my name to Moraymint for the purpose of commenting.


    2. Clegg last night was at it again on Newsnight trying to convince BBC listeners that it was immigration that had swung it for Brexit. Paddy Ashdown on Politics Today, as well as Jeremy Corbyn are still demanding access to the Single Market and Customs Free borders which as we all no isn’t possible if you want to leave the EU and be able to have selective immigration, control of our borders and courts which can deport immigrants who break our laws.

      The thing which swung it for me was sovereignty and the ability to get rid of MPs at election time despite the immediate risks to the economy in the short term.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. moraymint · ·

        Pretty much my rationale for voting Leave too jayengee. All I wanted was to see the recovery of the UK’s sovereignty, our ability to make and enforce laws in-house and to have absolute discretion over who crosses our borders.


  8. Independence day · ·

    Excellent post. The likes of Clegg and others continue an extension of Project Fear with their ridiculous claims of BREXIT cliff edge………. they still hope to reverse the Referendum result

    I also beleived Remain would win after Project Fear but during the campaign I found a poll from 2011 when Cameron ‘whipped’ his MPs to deny a Referendum showing 82% wanted a Referendum. I thought it cannot be because they want to vote Remain so there was always a strong possibility of a Leave vote.

    Leaving the EU was inevitable: there was no way the UK electorate would ever agree to a federal Europe but our own politicos were steadfastly complicit in the EU masterplan and not allowing us our say. We have to thank Cameron’s gamble to neuter UKIP, no other politico was ever going to offer the people the chance to have their say.

    Great quotes, we also have our own ardent europhiles who are only too happy to sign away our sovereignty, for example:

    “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe.”
    — Kenneth Clarke

    “We live in a post democratic age…”
    -Peter Mandelson

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Old Goat · ·

    Hoo-bloody-ray. That’s all!!

    Thanks, MM.

    Reposted on Going Postal.

    Liked by 2 people


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.

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