December 3, 2015

How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit

Posted in Irish Independent · 73 comments ·

As a 21-year-old student, I stood in the Great Hall, Bruges, in September of 1988. I was at university there. Along with 10 other Irish students, I was a postgraduate at the College of Europe. The College of Europe is the West Point or Sandhurst of the EU. It is charged with training the next generation of European officials and, indeed, most of the friends I made there have become senior apparatchiks in the European bureaucracy.


Back then, Margaret Thatcher represented everything that was wrong with politics for us. Her policies had framed our political consciousness, not only in Ireland, but in England too. We had all worked during our summers in London. England was our closest neighbour. It was the source of our music, our culture and our worldview. We listened to the anti-Thatcher lyrics of The Specials, Elvis Costello and The Smiths. She was the enemy and her thinly disguised anti-Irish rhetoric infuriated us. Quite apart from popular culture, we had our views on the miners’ strikes, the City, the North and the “loads of money” culture in the south of England.

Mrs Thatcher was also anti-European and this, to us, the foot soldiers of the European movement, was also unforgivable.

Little did I know that the speech I was about to hear would constitute the opening salvoes of a battle that would culminate with the UK’s vote on the EU next year, known as Brexit.

It is interesting today to go over that speech to see the points Mrs Thatcher raised, how prescient she was and how in touch she was with the feelings of the average English person.

The first thing she did was outline a vision that could have been described as British ‘Gaullism’ in the face of those who want ultimately to see a united states of Europe.

Mrs T followed Charles de Gaulle by asserting that the best way to build the European Community was “willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states”. She dismissed the idea that the United States might be a model for the future of Europe. At the time, lots of Eurocrats were talking about the “embryo” of a European government emerging through the single currency. Indeed, this all came to pass with the loss of sovereignty of a number of EU countries and the pooling of sovereignty of so many.

She warned against a EU superstate by saying famously: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.”

At that speech in 1988 she also said that there could be no question of totally abolishing frontier controls because states had “to protect our citizens and stop the movement of drugs, of terrorists, of illegal immigrants”.

Now, it is easy to pick selectively from a speech and conclude that it was prescient in the extreme. However, the Bruges speech more or less outlined the position of the Cameron government more than 25 years later.

In short, Mrs Thatcher’s concerns were bang on the money as far as Britain is concerned.

The question we need to apply ourselves to in 2016 is whether Britain will leave the EU, and will it matter?

Well, of course it will matter, but maybe it will matter more to the EU than to the UK. The EU without the Brits will lose a certain appreciation of sovereignty and of the domestic parliament and will become much more regulated and much less tolerant of countries with low tax rates!

I’m in London as I write this, and it seems to me the idea that the UK will suffer isn’t shared by many. Most British people are not too worried about it. While people are afraid of change – and this is a change – for most Brits, it’s not really a big deal.

They know that they will still be able to trade, travel, watch the Champions League, sign continental players and enjoy all the “normal” benefits of being part of Europe, but they don’t have to be lectured by the insufferable French, don’t have to take in migrants they don’t want and don’t have to feel that their sovereignty is being constantly eroded.

The truth is the Brits – along with the Swedes and Danes – have been semi-detached Europeans since they refused to join the euro. All new EU members are obliged to join the euro at some stage, and therefore none of the three countries mentioned above have truly signed up to “more Europe”, which demands having the euro as currency as being one of the basic rules of the club. The Scandinavians have been more diplomatic in their opposition to a German/French dominated Europe than the Brits, but the only Scandinavian country in the euro, Finland, is in the third year of recession. This is enough to validate the decision to stay out for Denmark and Sweden.

Yesterday morning, I had discussions with British investors on Brexit and all seemed to be reasonably sanguine on the path to exit. They still believed that the vote would be close but they suggested four key reasons why this vote would be much closer than the last vote on Europe in 1975.

First, as Mrs Thatcher warned, the political integration of Europe has gone further than many voters would like. Second, the introduction of free movement of labour has led to increased concerns over immigration, which are being exacerbated by the ongoing refugee crisis. Third, the press is significantly more Eurosceptic than it was in 1975. Fourth, the UK economy is not in the parlous state it was relative to Europe in 1975 – so they feel they don’t need Europe so much.

It’s 50/50 now, but the more the establishment comes out in favour of Europe, the more a cussedness on the part of the average guy will emerge. Referendums, as we know in Ireland, are strange things and the mainstream political players can lose control of the message and the electorate very quickly. Mrs Thatcher understood this.

There is no reason to believe the UK can’t prosper outside the EU. The economy is big enough, globalised enough and flexible enough. And what happens to us when the UK cuts its corporate tax to 12.5pc? Official Ireland’s default position on all this is that the UK economy will suffer; I am not too sure. And if it prospers outside, ploughing its own Atlantic, English-speaking furrow, what does that mean for us?

Answers on a John Hinde postcard please!

  1. Colm MacDonncha


  2. Colm MacDonncha

    A UK departure from the EU would be a wake up call for our own Europhiles. The cap-doffing toads we send to Brussels would very quickly find that being the only English speaking contingent in the corridors of Europe would soon lead to Paddy becoming even more of a whipping boy for Angela without Auntie Britain to back him up…

    • Deco

      They would have to grow up and stop being Mammy’s boys for Merkel (who let’s face it, has not got a clue what she is doing).

      One person at the wheel, and she is steering the ship all over the place.

    • Deco

      It would be a wake up call. But the “leadership” of this country has a track record of ignoring wake-up-calls.

      Northern Rock was a wake up call, but they dithered until Anglo went under. And then they had no strategy.

      In fact the DOF person responsible for banking even proclaimed that all Irish financial institutions were sound, at the same time. He deduced this from audits carried out on two of them. It is in wikileaks.

      Think about that for a moment. He really did have his head up his ars€. He did not audit the six of them. They all went insolvent/bankrupt. And he auditted two of them, and gave them the all clear.

      He is now on the European Court of Auditors.

      There is something deaperattely wrong with the entire EU complex when such chronic stupidity results in being assigned even greater responsiblity.

      For the purposes of comparison between the European Union and the Soviet Union, in the Soviet Union he probably would have ended up having a mysterious car accident/heart-attack or disappearing in a gulag (as an example to others).

      • michaelcoughlan

        “There is something deaperattely wrong with the entire EU complex when such chronic stupidity results in being assigned even greater responsiblity.

        For the purposes of comparison between the European Union and the Soviet Union, in the Soviet Union he probably would have ended up having a mysterious car accident/heart-attack or disappearing in a gulag (as an example to others)”

        • michaelcoughlan

          From their perspective everthing is right. For example you got prommoted as an ss officer the MORE jews you slaughtered.

          You are innacurate re the soviet union. In order to get promoted there you had to me capable of genocide level incompetence. Fucking up in a financial level capicty wouldn’t get you shot you just wouldnt be promoted. What would get you shot would be telling Stalin the truth. 2 plus two equals 5 remember.

  3. michaelcoughlan


    You say the UK economy is not in a parlous state but I thought the UK was in more debt than ever?

    Meanwhile gold continues to sink like a stone. 2 plus 2 equals 5, black is in fact white…….

    • michaelcoughlan

      Orwell 1984 – O’Brien about freedom and reality (…:

      • michaelcoughlan

        For those of you who don’t understand the scene the aim of the Character played by richard Burton isn’t to force the character played by john hurt to state that 5 is the number of fingers held up when in reality it is 4 the aim is to get him to really believe it is 5!

        Its the same today with international bankers and the total debt level. Every thing is fine!

      • Deco

        It is truly amazing that Orwell, had the foresight to call the indoctrinator “O’Brien”. He must have had a dream about Dublin in 2015, before he wrote that.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      “Meanwhile gold continues to sink like a stone”

      Michael – of course it does, but at the same time the demand for gold is all time high – counter-intuitive, innit? By the way, with so many shops in Ireland buying gold in pretty much every town you go, the same cannot be said about shops selling 999 gold (and they would overcharge you anyway).

      But maybe not so counter-intuitive much if we consider that the price of gold is mostly set by paper gold operations, including those done by FED. Institutions like FED – but not only, some private companies too – are artificially increasing supply of gold on the market thus lowering the price. Someone will pocket the difference in the future when it turns out that there is no physical gold left in Europe

      • michaelcoughlan

        I know. I was just demonstrating the duality and I agree with you.

        • cooldude

          This may be of interest to both of you. Egon Von Greyerz on the current situation with gold.

          • How reliable is this cooldude? These kinds of sites are always saying that A is going to happen and B is next, – invariably they are wrong.

            The remind of of those religious cults that crop up now and again prophesizing the end of the world, then they change their story the day after it doesn’t happen.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            A propos Egon von Greyerz, I am buying this book for a friend of mine as one of his Christmas presents :-):


            There is a kernel of truth in what Adam says, “These kinds of sites are always saying that A is going to happen and B is next, – invariably they are wrong.” For example there is a guy on the internet who has “the realist news”, who is obsessed about buying silver and his predictions has always been reliably wrong (my gut feeling is that he bought a few bars of silver and has no means of living – he usually records his videos from his car – maybe he lives in a car – that would be a solution for Dublin’s housing bubble).

            But the book I am buying is well researched, though its weakness is the short-sighted geopolitical analysis – Sino-Russian alliance is a short-term strategy until the big dollar reset – long term, when the US hegemony is gone, China will enter into conflict with Russia and China is now very active in absorbing Poland into its zone of influence since the old pro-German government is gone – China prefers Poland over Germany as a part of the future silk route. In fact China is what guarantees Belarus’s independence. Otherwise I would recommended the book for all gold-cult people, which I am only 8 on the scale of 10 ;-)

          • cooldude

            Looks like an interesting book Grzegorz. I agree with both you and Adam about these sites in general but I am a fan of Egon Von Greyerz in a morbid kind of way. He certainly doesn’t pull his punches when dealing with our fraudulent currency and banking system. In general I agree with much of his analysis although I think everything is organized in a deliberate manner to achieve greater central control with the ultimate aim of a cash free society that not even George Orwell could have thought possible.

      • Hoggie

        Who is behind these shops? As you say they are in every town and shopping centre in the country. Is it all destined for foreign markets?

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej


          I do not know who is behind, I can only speculate – we have a huge Chinese diaspora of which we know nothing about, but I have noticed that out of, say, 20 or 50 Chinese you see in Ireland one seems to be really, really rich and in control of some of them (God know how much those people had to pay to get to Ireland).

          Of course I am not saying this as a sort of a rant, because in general I like the Asian people (I am just apprehensive that we in Ireland do not get the short end of the stick with China when they start to dictate their terms and conditions – that’s why I think it’s better to deals with them now when they need us, like Mr. Cameron does, than when they do not need us).

          So my speculation is: every gold dealer will tell you there is no Chinese gold bars on the market – China does not export her gold. Irish drug dealers, if they are involved, can only be small fish in that trade. At the same time there was lots of unwanted jewellery on the Irish market since Ireland got broke.

          By the way, the prices those shops offer are like those Glasgow money lenders. When it comes to buying, I popped into one of the shops in Dublin to ask whether they sell 999 gold, the chap said they do not sell bars but they sell melted gold – but when asked would I be able to test it (whether it is real), he got really nervous and said he was closing now (sic!).

          Again, draw your own conclusions…

      • EugeneN

        The problem with you Michael is you assume that the Austrians, or the Gold bugs are on your side, and you can’t really get your head around why the predictions of the doomsayers on inflation ( with regards to QE) are totally wrong. You also don’t really know who the enemy is, it is the financial sector but it is also your goldbug Austrian friends. If they had their way Europe would be facing 40% unemployment by now.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          40%? Why so modest, why not 100% ;-)?

          Seriously though – that kind of an opinion, with figures just plucked from the air, has to be followed by some arguments and/or data. I do not always agree with Michael with everything (but then again, I do not even always agree with myself on everything! – i.e., before the Scottish referendum I would have said Britain would leave the EU), but his economic posts are usually followed by some arguments or links.

          With all due respect – you know nothing about the Austrian school of economics other than hear say, do you?
          Voices like that just lower the level of discussion on this blog.

          So here is the unemployment chart for the UK with the gold standard:

          “why the predictions of the doomsayers on inflation ( with regards to QE) are totally wrong

          If you do not see inflation in assets (like house in Ireland/London or stocks in the UK) then either you did not look properly or you are so detached from the reality that unlike the rest of us hoi polloi, you do not have to pay rent or mortgage…

  4. Danny

    “Mrs Thatcher was also anti-European and this, to us, the foot soldiers of the European movement, was also unforgivable”

    Maggie was never anti-European, she believed in a single European market, but did not want the Federal or Monetary union that was on the agenda. She saw it for what it has become, an undemocratic, bureaucratic ‘gravy train’, with little or no net gain for the UK.

    She was also not anti-Irish, just anti-IRA … people seem to forget that it was her signature that initiated the Anglo-Irish agreement.

    • Sideshow Bob

      It is very well recorded that it was the Irish Side that led on starting a dialogue and forging an Agreement at the time. It didn´t work out but at least they tried.

      Thatcher was perhaps not anti-Irish, but she was intensely nationalistic, historically illiterate, bombastic, insensitive and lacking-in compassion and all while possessing a black and white view of the world. Take these quotes for example from Sir David Goodall, a senior British Civil servant present for The Anglo Irish Agreement negotiations via the Irish Times (full link below):

      “The prime minister asked why arrangements could not be made to transfer those members of the [Northern Ireland] minority community who did not wish to remain under British rule to the Republic,” according to Goodall. “After all, she said, the Irish were used to large-scale movements of population. Only recently there had been a transfer of some kind.


      “At this point the silence around the fire became transfused with simple bafflement. After a pause, I asked if she could possibly be thinking of Cromwell. ‘Cromwell: of course.’ ‘Well prime minister, Cromwell’s policy was known as “To Hell or Connaught” and it left a scar on Anglo-Irish relations which still hasn’t healed.’ The idea of a population transfer was not pursued.”

      When negotiations leading to the agreement deepened and the Irish were pressing for a consultative role and a permanent office in Belfast, Thatcher likened Dublin’s approach to 1930s Berlin’s attitude to ethnic German minorities beyond the country’s borders.

      “Why should the Irish have such a thing?” she asked Goodall, according to his unpublished memoir. “How would you like it if there was a Russian representative in London who had to be consulted about everything?” To which Goodall responded: “Well, prime minister, 30 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom aren’t Russian.”

      “I see,” retorted Thatcher, “It’s like the Sudeten problem” – a reference to the pretext for Hitler’s 1938 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

      According to Moore, Thatcher was “instinctively protective of anything and anyone who, as she saw it, was assailed for being British”. “From time to time, she would put forward the idea of a fence, built all along the [Irish] Border, with what she called an ‘access corridor’.”

      But, Moore notes, “no colleague ever gave countenance to her notion”.

      For more, and on how she wanted to stroke Garret´s lovely curly locks, click here:

      • Deco

        Thatcher’s perspective on history was “Britain was always right, and did not need to apologise for anything”.

        The rest were details that did not need to be evaluated.

        She knew of Cromwell, and it is likely that he was one of her heroes. Churchill definitely was one of her heroes.

        And Airey Nieve (spelling ??) was her father figure in the British political system. He got killed in a bomb attack, by the IRA.

        She commented to Peter Mandelson what Irish people were great liars. [ CJH would have reinforced this opinion, if he did not cause her to find it in the first place ].

        Her biggest failure of all was respect to NI. Our key politicians were either overconfident and agressive (Haughey) or apologetic to the point that she would not take them seriously (Fitzgerald).

        Our leadership still moves between thsoe two poles. Either an Ahern type or a Kennylite tyep puppet.

        This is something we need to address.

        • yadayada

          Even better, her grandmother was Catherine Sullivan from kenmare. How did we not know?

          • Deco

            We should have worked on that angle.

            I imagine it would have nuetralized Paisley.

            Her maiden name was Margaret Roberts. That is more than likely a Welsh surname. Yet, she became England’s hero figure.

  5. Deco

    In retrospect we were brainwashed by a certain mindset to refuse to learn from Thatcher, where we needed to learn. And that was in respect of making the overall economy efficient. Ireland in 1979 was also ruled over by trade union politicians. And like Britain it was in a resulting state of lethargy. Unlike in Germany, the unions in Ireland had a childish irresponsible attitude. Though it was not as absurd as that which prevailed in Britain at the time.

    Thatcher’s key message to Britain at the time was “grow up and become responsible”. In many respects we waited until 2009 before that hit us.

    There were other aspects where Thatcher was completely wrong. And debt was one key aspect. Another was failure to rebuild devastated communities after the miners strike. And another was jingoism. But we Irish had our own even more ridiculous version of jingoism. Call it Guinness jingoism. And that has wrecked Ireland. It elected drunks to senior office, and placed them in charge of the nation’s finances and the health system.

    So, yes, we can learn from Thatcher, if we are really honest. We can learn from what she did that made Britain stronger, and also what made Britain weaker.

    And she was correct concerning the EU.

    • Deco

      Thatcher was correct about
      - initiative
      - responsibility
      - hard work
      - have people free of unions and market rigging arrangements
      - giving young people opportunities
      - enterprise
      - sincerety
      - efficiency
      - the futility of feeling sorry for oneself
      - action
      - the entire Euro-centralization movement
      - making state systems efficient and performant

      Thatcher was incorrect about
      - jingosim
      - “there’s no such thing as society”
      - essential infrastructure being in public owenership
      - Pinochet
      - dealing with disintegrated communities that need to be rebuilt
      - the social consequences of de-industrialization
      - the excesses of finance capitalism
      - dodgy deals with Sunni rulers in the Gulf
      - greed being a supreme virtue.

      There is something very Protestant about Thatcher. Even though she claimed her econmomics were derived from Hayek (an Ausrian of Jewish heritage). It might evem go back to Cromwell.

      A very interesting voice on the entire Thatcher era is Diarmuid Ferriter.

      It pays to study these figures, and learn from them, so as to do better for ourselves.

      • Richard

        “there’s no such thing as society”

        The above is a popular misquote, she was saying very much the opposite to what you believe it to mean.

        In her speech she was explaining that society isn’t a thing in itself, as in there’s no ‘society fairy’ that comes and fixes things.

        She explained that society is actually just ordinary people who naturally worry about their own problems first, but if these are sufficiently resolved will have time to help their neighbours. She wanted to help people solve their own problems so that in turn ordinary people would have the time to help others.

  6. [...] Read more from David McWilliams on “How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit” [...]

  7. Deco

    The entire European centralization project is being exposed by incomptetence.

    The Soviet Bloc showed us that it is not possible to have one Politburo/Commisariat in charge of hundreds of millions. The current replacement effort, is telling us the same thing.

    What will really get messy, is when Northern European countries like Sweden start having banking/real estate crisis.

    Since 2007, we have listened to repeated propaganda about there being a problem with people in the Latin countries. The problem was not the European centralist project, and it’s institutions. No. The problem was that the people were inadequate.

    It reminds me of what Brecht declared about the DDR. I cannot remember the exact words. But basically the state was so perfect, there had to be a problem with the people.

    We have listened to the same message for years.

    What will they say when Northern European countries like Sweden (which have already been bailed out in the Baltic austerity program 8 years ago) hits the wall ?

  8. Sideshow Bob

    Very good piece of writing, David.

    Would you, or anyone else on here, like to offer a prediction on the result of the Brexit vote next year?

    So will it be in or out In or Out?

    ( Straw poll? with no explanation necessary! )

    • michaelcoughlan


    • Grzegorz Kolodziej


      It will be very close, so they will rig the election, like they did in Poland in 2014, because whether the UK is in the EU or not is far more serious an issue for the political establishment than whether the Labour Party, the Conservatives or even the UKiP is in power. It’s very easy to rig the election in the polling station, and you do not even have to resort to primitive methods like the Communists did in Poland in 1947, with West’s approval – and you won’t be able to prove it either (I am not going to say how to do it because I am scared someone may copy that idea in Ireland or the UK).

      The only reason they could not rig this year’s election in Poland was because of the mass movement – thousand’s of people volunteered to be trained in what to pay attention to in counting votes and sent to polling stations, but the English sadly lack the political awareness to come up with such mass movement.

      And although I agree with David that England or Ireland might be better off after Brexit, I am not sure the City will be (unless they really become a Chinese Trojan Horse) – one more reasons to rig the election.

      • Which way will they rig the election in your opinion Grzegorz?

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          The easiest way – the one it happened in Poland.
          I am not being evasive with my answer, I just do not want to give people ideas.
          Most of it is in the second link I attached – please read it.

          Of course, I am not saying this is certain (and what is certain apart from death?), but it would not have been the first time in Western democracy. When Roosevelt rigged the election, some towns screwed up the process and one of them yielded 104pc support for FDR – better than in North Korea.

          This year the previous Civic Platform government went as far as to break the Polish Constitution in order to nominate their judges to the Constitutional Tribunal. FDR did a similar thing with his “Lame Duck Amendment”.

          The election day in the US was normally held on Nov. 4 and the Presidential electors meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to cast their votes for President and Vice President of the U.S.
          This gave the incoming President at least 4 months to prepare for the transition of power to a new patriotic administration.
          The 20th Amendment changed the Inauguration Day to January 20. No newspaper or radio station mentioned the Amendment.
          The proposed amendment, sometimes called the “Lame Duck Amendment,” was sent to the states on March 3, 1932, by the Seventy-second Congress. It was ratified Jan. 23, 1933; but, in accordance with Section 5, Sections 1 and 2, did not go into effect until Oct. 15, 1933.
          Roosevelt and his banksters moved the date to January 20 to make sure that the incoming President would have no time to form a patriotic administration but would have to accept the candidates of the “Federal” Reserve Bank and the Pentagon. This made the Office of President of the U.S. nothing but a rubber stamp dictatorship.

          P.S. I am glad you will spend a few months with your Mum. I guarantee you that in the future you will remember some good moments in details which you would not suspect yourself of retaining them in your memory. Buy Her something p r a c t i c a l for Christmas – my late mum used to hate wasteful presents money spending…

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          To stay.
          Unless there is a significant majority to leave or a mass movement to control the course of the referendum…
          There has been some voices that even the Scottish referendum was rigged – and I am not necessarily saying this from a position of the pro-independence vote (btw, would the Irish allow the Poles to vote in the unification referendum like the Scots did? – I would be pro), although the evidence for it is inconclusive because unlike Poland, there was no mass movement to control the course of the referendum.

          It would be different if political establishment of the UK was split on that. But the way things are:

          1. Labour will be in favour of staying
          2. Mr. Cameron uses EU-skeptic rhetoric, but he was partly forced to do so by rising UKiP and secondly, his goal is not to leave, but to negotiate better conditions – in that he overestimated his strengths, me thinks.
          3. The US – and this is one of the things I do not quite agree with David in his analysis – is also not interested in the UK leaving – they want to have countries like the UK or Poland (with its new government, but they miscalculated with its pro-Americanism – more about that some other week) as the Trojan horse.
          4. Finally, there is the City. Is City in favour of staying or leaving? I am not sure – I haven’t formed an opinion yet.

          Mind you, the reason the last election in Poland was not rigged – and the evidence it was rigged in 2015 is FAR, FAR more convincing than the speculative evidence that the Scottish referendum was rigged – was because there was a mass movement of volunteers in Poland to control the election in polling stations, with thousands of people giving their free time on a few months long training and organisation.

          Is there any equivalent in the UK or Ireland? Nay, Sir…

          So what will stop them from rigging the referendum if the votes are more like 50-50 (it would be different story with 60-40)?
          Nothing will stop them.

    • Sideshow Bob

      Thanks for the predictions all!

  9. Deco

    Britain is strong enough, and intellectually sovereign enough to think for Britain.

    Ireland’s leadership is waiting for instructions from an increasingly incmpetent, clueless, meandering, undiplomatic, all-over-the-road ruler in Berlin.

    Here is an interesting question – when Gerhard Schroeder was BundesKanzler, was he telling even one other ruler in the EU how to run their affairs ?

    The problem is not the Germans. The problem is that one person has decided to go on an mission, to the great consternation of everybody (Germans included). Germany does not want to rule Europe. Even the Russians do not want to do it. A narrow element in European politics does want to do it, and they need access to money.

    Their greatest fear is that they will be deprived of the money to give them power. And Britain is the second biggest donor to the EU.

    I think the real benefit of Britain exitting would be that it would force the entire EU ruling element to stop pretending that they can continue stumbling from one blunder to the next, blaming everybody but themselves – for their mistakes.

    Why can’t Greece be allowed to exit ? I am sure at this point in time Greece would be much better off
    - without the debt
    - without the austerity
    - without the ridiculous rules that drive up the cost of business
    - without the patronizing nonsense

  10. [...] Read more from David McWilliams on “How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit” [...]

  11. Grzegorz Kolodziej

    “Back then, Margaret Thatcher represented everything that was wrong with politics for us.”

    It was opposite with us kids – Thatcher for us represented everything that was right with politics (anti-communism, economic and political; she was also one of the few leaders to come to Poland and express clear support for the suppressed opposition, spending lots of time with them despite gen. Jaruzelski’s discontent – while at the same time today’s current and former luminaries of the Irish Labour were licking the arses of people in the Soviet Embassy in Dublin, some of them taking money – do you read that blog, Comrade De Rossa?).

    Of course, as I grow older I gained a closer look at Mrs. Thatcher’s policies – not least because I have met some people from the Conservative Party establishment (one of them married a lon- and I grew a bit disillusioned as far as Thatcherism was concerned (some of you might remember that George Gilder condemned early Thatcherism in his foreword to the English ediiton of his Wealth and Poverty from the supply-side economics point of view).

    I cannot go into details now, but I would agree with almost all of the summary of Thatcherism done by Deco.

    If I were to summarise it in one sentence, I would say that Lady Thatcher, even though she was a big fan of Hayek, had advisers who directed her towards monetarism (although this has started with the previous Labour government). This resulted in a recession, although Thatcher’s 15% compared to Polish 25% of 2004 or Greek/Spanish 25% looks almost like full employment in hindsight, with so many Irish emigrating to that country of recession); by the way, when Mr. Leszek Balcerowicz implemented early Thatcherism in the early 90s in Poland, it has also resulted in a short but deep recession in Poland, wiping out the results of the incredible growth 0f 1989-1990 (Poland then came back on the path of the Asian-tigers style growth until it was forced by Brussels to start implementing the EC law from around 1998).

    Then she dumped monetarism and turned more towards the supply-side economy, and Britain started to grow – south of it, anyway.

    This is reflected in public spending figures

    – 44.6pc of GDP in 1979/80 compared to
    - 48.1 in 1982/83 and
    - 38.9 in 1988/89

    (for comparison purposes, “laissez-faire” me arse Mr. Cameron had 43.3pc of GDP public spending last year).

    On the theoretical side, monetarism made some sense pre-1980 when money velocity – how often a unit of currency turns around – was stable but technological changes and regulatory changes in the industry increased the velocity and made bollocks of the idea. By once again, I do not want into technical details (I really liked Milton Friedman, but as a publicists rather than economist).

    She never implemented any of Hayek’s concepts really (maybe she did not have time or mental capacity to fully understand them?).

    In keeping with David’s brave revisionist article I would like to add – to counterbalance my previous sentence about Lady Thatcher – that few European politicians then and none now had such a good insight and intuition when it comes to the European order – sharp assessment of things to come).

    She clearly saw dangers in German unification and its consequences for the future geopolitical landscape – I hereby quote myself from a few months ago:

    “When Margaret Thatcher was still the Prime Minister of Great Britain, she said she would veto Germany’s reunification unless Germany sings a peace treaty with Poland. Chancellor Kohl was ready to prolong the occupation of Germany rather than sign the Peace Treaty. Eventually Germany confirmed a Border Treaty from 1970 (signed by Willy Brandt and Wladyslaw Gomulka), still refusing to sign the Peace Treaty – and Polish government did not put any pressure.

    On 12 September 1990 the 2 + 4 Treaty signed in Moscow ended the occupation of Germany and the legislation was supported by Treaty of Good Neighbourhood and Cooperation.

    The latter treaty had two statements attached, one by German Minister Genscher (who actually was a Nazi during WWII, but let’s not be petty) and the second one by a Polish Minister Skubiszewski (who had a dark history with communist secret service and the German secret service – BND – used files their inherited from Stasi to blackmail the Polish Foreign Minister which was officially announced by the main advisor of the Polish Prime Minister, Krzysztof Wyszkowski and Minister Skubiszewski did not sue Mr. Wyszkowski or even denied that) which under gen. Kiszczak cooperated with Stasi in the 80s.

    Both statements stipulated that the treaty does not deal with claims to German property on Polish western lands.”

    Many of you would consider those issues unimportant for mid-Atlantic Ireland, and having impact only on countries unfortunate to be part of the German Mittel-Europa geopolitical plan – but dare I suggest a wake up call for those who do: BECAUSE Germany was allowed to re-unify and shape the EU to suit their interest, Mrs. Merkel was able to put so much pressure on Ireland so easy when it came to covering German banks losses in Ireland by the Irish taxpayers – and, in case you forgot, look around your house, in front of your house and at the roads you drive and see how many products you have that are not Chinese are German-made or financed by German loans…

    Time is money – so I sadly cannot comment on David’s previous article on Turkey, which I welcomed.

    I can only say that Russian sanctions on Turkey will hit Russia far more than they will hit Turkey.

    As the previous article on taking shares instead of the difference between 4 and 12.5pc of corporate tax, I think that this idea is worth discussing and popularising, but I aslo remember David has proposed it approximately 5 years ago – and it has not been heard of anymore.

    David, you cannot just count on Taoiseach Enda Kenny reading your blog and going to Apple with a printed piece of your article.

    You had a good insight not to join Democracy Now and waste your McWilliams brand on what turned out to be a still-born project – but the time has come to i d e n t i f y political ways of implementing your ideas (and I know that you have lots of meeting with investors etc).

    In other words, when we come up with ideas like that, we have to answers the following questions:

    1. What politicians might be willing to implement it?
    2. What arguments might be convincing for them (i.e., for FG it would be different than for SF).

    If none of the above, then

    3. How the alternative political movement can come into being?

    As to the idea itself…

    It is fallacious to talk about the difference between 4pc and 12.5pc.

    For example, the effective corporate tax rate in France is 8.2pc (as opposed to the statutory 33.3pc) – so when you talk about swapping the difference between 4pc and 12.5pc, you should talk about the difference between 4pc and 8.2pc – ceteris paribus. By the way, 4pc is the same as Luxembourg’s 4.1pc compared to statutory 22pc.

    Last, but not least – why “Multinationals account for over 80 per cent of our exports”?

    Because our non-corporate private sector is so unproductive and has so little competition (of course, compared to our public sector it is like a Intel compared to the Bronze Age).

    Private sector productivity grew by only 26pc between 2000-2008…

  12. Chicken & Egg

    Before we decide to talk about the original blueprint for exit we first need to know how the original meeting commenced begun to create the EU and who was the innovator .

    St Columbanus was the original initiator and Luxeuil is the original location in recent times immediately after the war and everything else only followed after that .

    • Before the intervention by Columbanus Europe was divided and rudderless without leadership and with his software and new ideas he managed to overcome their obstacles and co-join with Rome .

      Will a Brexit bring back all that vulnerability again ?

  13. aidanxc

    Those who whinge about the prospect of Brexit are suffering from the Pollyanna syndrome and really need to realise that the over-bearing shadow that the UK casts on Ireland economically and culturally is not in our interest. I don’t blame the UK for this but rather the insecure cohort of commentators here in Ireland that think, Chicken-Licken like, that the sky is falling.

    Ireland should focus on the real opportunity this will bring and prepare to deal with any of the inevitable, but manageable, downsides.

    Our trade with the UK is heavily skewed towards imports i.e. 60% of our trade with them is imports and 40% exports. A lot of that is multi-nationals using London and a base for the “UK and Ireland” market which will change if the UK leaves the EU. Therefore the likes of Danone, Lego, Perrier, Zara etc may find it more economical to cut out the UK middle-man and export directly to Ireland which is no bad thing for the Irish consumer.

    Additionally, Brexit will strengthen our attractiveness for FDI so we should capitalise on that rather than holding on to an anachronism that is well past its sell-by date.

    • Pat Flannery

      aidanxc: I agree 100%. Bring on Brexit.

      Right now Ireland is a pathetic little engineless economy being towed along by its British masters, which you describe perfectly as the “UK and Ireland” economy.

      Brexit would finally require the British to pay full market price for Irish food. Britain has controlled and lived on cheap Irish food and Irish manpower for three centuries without which it could not have built its empire or powered its industrial revolution. Even today most Irish food products are processed in Britain and reimported into Ireland as British! How pathetic is that?

      It is the Irish who have the global view not the Anglos as David asserts. If the American colonies had remained Anglo only they would have withered and died within a century. The British are an insular-minded people, even when they venture abroad. Let them exit the EU. Let them fend for themselves on their self-styled “sceptered isle”.

      It’s time the Irish went global as Irish not as Anglo-Irish. The Irish are not Anglo. Instead of bemoaning what a Brexit would inflict on poor little Ireland let’s encourage British isolationism as our final emancipation from its long exploitation.

  14. Eton -v- ENA

    This is the appropriate context of ‘Brexit or Remaining inside ‘ if you use old school ties and clubs as a metaphor . Recently the Seigneur in Ireland under the local tutelage of the Central Bank namely Cyril Rouge from the ENA ( Enarchy) ie Ecoil Nationale Adminsistrif announced that more national budget supervision will now be completed in Brussels and not Dublin .

    Step two now in transit of our fiscal controls delegated to Europe having already last our bank regulations to the ECB .

  15. I am with Maggie Thatcher with the concept of sovereign states doing business with each other.
    I never agreed with Britain joining the common market.
    Centralised authority and control is always a disaster in the long term.
    Ireland should dump the Euro and take control of their own destiny

  16. coldblow

    This is very entertaining. Denis Thatcher interviewed by his daughter Carol (whom I remember on LBC Radio).

    The last story is particularly good (16mins), but it’s all good and throws a new light on the story.

    “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.”

  17. coldblow

    I linked this before but it is excellent:

    It was odd how Labour switched to being pro-Europe at the same time as the Conservatives (or rather Thatcher’s wing) went the other way.

    I agree with Grzegorz that the result will be to stay in.

    I agree with Hitchens that Cameron and his colleagues are only play acting in their opposition to Europe (winning trivial ‘concessions’ from Europe) and that the referendum promise was made in the reasonable expectation that the Conservatives wouldn’t be elected with an overall majority and so wouldn’t have to keep their promise. The political establishment and the press (as in Ireland, one big party, a reactionary right-wing one too, lest we forget) will unite to persuade the public to vote to stay in. This could settle the question for a generation, or for good.

  18. coldblow

    Thatcher may have opposed Europe after the Bruges speech (Christopher Booker by the way is prominent in the Bruges Group) but she was very much in favour of Europe earlier. Perhaps she realized what was happening, albeit much too late (and this was the reason she was ejected from the Tory leadership). Figures such as Heath were also very enthusiastic about Europe, but it is often forgotten that he and his ilk (unlike the would-be Churchills of this our finest hour) had actually fought a war.

    David is right that she was in touch with the ordinary English but we know who usually wins when the views of the electorate clash with the wishes of their (s)elected representatives (and their friends and relations in the media).

    ‘[England] was the source of our music, our culture and our world view.’

    Yes, but unlike David I don’t see this as positive. I liked the music well enough, or some of it (until I got sick of it) but made a point of ignoring the fatuous lyrics. As for the ‘culture’ I’ll just say ‘pass!’ This generation has since grown up and assumed power and younger people haven’t a clue, so if Thatcher were still around she would definitely not be in touch with the average Englishman.

    When I came over here nearly 30 years ago I thought one of the reasons I was leaving was Thatcher. Indeed, the ‘Thatcherites’ were often just wealthy and wannabe entrepreneurs but this shows how hopelessly little I knew then (and I used to keep up with the news assiduously).

    • Pat Flannery

      coldblow: Irish people need to differentiate between what is best for Britain and what is best for Ireland. They are not always the same.

      It is entirely natural that British patriotism has never included Ireland. Nobody would accuse Maggie Thatcher of being an Irish patriot. Nor should she be accused of being anti-Irish. They are two very different countries with two very different cultures and histories. We should take it as a compliment that British patriots like Mrs. Thatcher have always treated Ireland as a foreign country, as foreign as France. It is a recognition of Irish sovereignty.

      Accordingly the British have always subordinated Irish interests to British interests, which is perfectly natural. It is not anti-British to recognize that simple fact. Who would accuse a Frenchman of being anti-British just for loving France? Nor is it anti-British to be an Irish patriot.

      If the European Union is to be successful as a super-state it will be as a union of individual, proud, willing, patriotic nations. If the British do not feel they belong it does not mean that the EU is bad. It may not be good for them but it may be good for Ireland.

      We need to keep these basic facts in mind when we ponder our relationships with ALL the countries of Europe, including Britain.

    • Richard

      I think you are right about Mrs Thatcher realising what was happening, but too late. In case you haven’t watched it, Peter Hitchens (10 year old) documentary ‘This Sceptic Isle’ makes mention of this.

  19. coldblow


    I don’t know why you are telling me this. Of course every country *should* seek its own interests. Problems arise when their elites (ie govt, media, academia etc) don’t, as was recognized by Crotty when he campaigned against Irish membership of the EU. I think it is reasonable to expect that patriots in any country would have goodwill towards their like in others.

    The EU won’t be ‘successful as a super-state’ as ‘a union of individual, proud, willing, patriotic nations’. It is hostile to the idea of independent ‘nations’ and encourages the fragmentation of Europe into regions and mini-nations, such as an independent Scotland which would be encouraged not to strike out on their own but to depend on Europe as clents. Fortunately, it does not seem that Europe will be successful in any sense as all it has done so far is prove its incompetence in financial matters (over the Euro and the financial crisis), absurd social media-led sentimentalism over mass immigration, dogmatic liberalism in social matters and destructive interference in foreign issues (notably the Ukraine). The treatment meted out to Greece (and the other PIGIS) has clarly shown, finally, that the European ideals of partnership (or whatever waffle they serve) are nothing more than rhetoric and that what Germany says goes. Another symptom of European stupidity (or stupidité) is the role Europe assumed in saving the planet over global warming (putting everything on the wrong horse).

    I am reading Booker and North’s excellent history of the EU. The strategy was to introduce federalism and political unity by stealth as they knew that the peoples of Europe wouldn’t accept it if they were honest about it.

    • coldblow

      David likes Europe (I assume) because he shares their trendy social ideals. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, they aren’t working out very well.

    • coldblow

      Re the EU being hostile to the idea of nation states and encouraging a Europe of the (weak, compliant and client) Regions, people may (but won’t) recall me a long time ago musing about the inane ‘You Are Now Entering Ireland West’ sign which used to meet (still does?) the motorist travelling in a westerly direction after crossing the Shannon. What is this ‘Ireland West’ thing (a label that only a bureaucrat could dream up)? I used to think it was something to do with Bord Fáilte. Imagine talking to Paddy from Crossmolina in the Crown in Cricklewood and him saying, ‘I come from Ireland West’.

  20. The Irish Banking ‘Inquiry’ haha – what a joke.

    Why do it the right way, when you can do it the Irish way? – arseways.

    Thick as pig shit, ignorant peasants.

    Looking forward to your article on this debacle David.

    • McCawber

      Arseways by DESIGN Adam, you left the important bit out.
      This was always an ass covering exercise, right down to the Shinners pulling out along with Joe the jockey.

  21. [...] Read more from David McWilliams on “How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit” [...]

  22. [...] Read more from David McWilliams on “How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit” [...]

  23. McCawber

    As a first step in Ireland’s preparations for a Brexit, Enda should pick up the phone and ask David if he wouldn’t mind extending an invitation to the next meeting of Common wealth leaders as we are a republic in name only.
    Somewhere along the way “for the people and of the people” got lost.

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