Open Letter to Sir John

santa pod

He stands with the Union Jack.  But is he campaigning for Brussels?

Dear Sir John,

I am sure you will remember the memorable night in Huntingdon — in 1978 I think — when I had the privilege of voting for you as the Conservative Candidate for the Huntingdon Constituency.  I believe we have met once or twice since.

I have just read your piece in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, and it is such a litany of old, tired and discredited clichés, and slogans from years ago, that I really have to take issue with some of your points.

“Reckless to divorce ourselves from the world’s pre-eminent trading block”.  Pre-eminent?  The only major economic area in the world in long term relative decline?  Shouldn’t we be looking outward to the rest of the world (including the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth) where the growth and the opportunities are?  And who said “divorce”?  We simply want to be good neighbours, not bad tenants.  We want to be an independent, democratic, globally-engaged trading nation — not a province in a supranational structure, or a star on someone else’s flag.

“As a member state, the UK can and does influence on European policies”.  Not very often, John.  We are outvoted more than any other member state.  Sometimes our diplomats sigh and vote in favour of what they disagree with, just to avoid emphasising our isolation.  Again and again the British Government tries to object, but has to back down.  As an MEP for 17 years, I speak of what I know.  Mind you Cameron can get a concession on the tampon tax a few weeks ahead of the Referendum (in an evidently choreographed move).  But don’t expect more concessions if we vote to remain.

“On issues such as environment and climate change the UK can best progress …. with the Europeans”.  You have perhaps not noticed that EU energy and climate policies, with their obsessive reliance on intermittent and expensive renewables, are creating “an industrial massacre in Europe” (to quote former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani’s telling phrase).  We are driving energy-intensive industries out of the EU altogether, taking their jobs and their investment with them, and arguably increasing global emissions in the process.

“In the EU, the UK is better able to face up to the aggressive policies of other nations” — and later you cite Putin’s Russia.  Please John, stop singing off the old song sheet and try looking around you.  In which foreign conflicts has the EU helped us?  Of course Russia is to blame for its Ukraine invasion, but many would argue that the EU provoked the Bear by cosying up to Ukraine — then turned and ran when the Bear roared.  Look at the pathetic failure of the EU to address the migrant crisis.  Our security depends on NATO, not the EU, and of course we will remain in NATO.

”It would be sheer folly to put all this at risk”. To put all what at risk?  You argue that the British economy has done better than the EU average.  Great.  But you make no case that we have done better than if we had been outside.

“Suppose we left — what are the risks?”   And John, if we stay, what are the risks?  Will the €urozone implode?  Will migrant numbers overwhelm the EU’s administrative capacity?  Will Merkel give EU passports to her million migrants, just to see the back of them?  If Turkey joins the EU as promised, how many Turks will exercise the right to free movement?  Four million?  Five million?  It’s not unrealistic to expect a million in the UK.  And Turkey will solve its migrant problem by giving a couple of million Turkish passports to migrants and sending them west.  The real risk, John, is Remaining.

“The argument that the EU needs our market…is disingenuous.  More bluntly, it is sheer fantasy”.  Maggie said you can’t buck the markets, and she was right.  When we leave, we will be the EU’s largest customer, and largest net customer, in the whole world.  Bar none.  Yet you think they’ll put that at risk.  Despite the massive trade imbalance, you make some specious argument about percentages of GDP.  But percentages don’t pay the ferryman, John.  Folding money does.  And they can’t ignore the huge business we provide.

When Boris mentioned the Canada Trade Agreement, merely as a broad outline, he was immediately attacked because it includes a 10% duty on cars.  But we buy nearly double the value of cars from the continent as they buy from us.  If there’s any disruption to the cross-channel car trade, the CEOs of Mercedes and BMW and Audi will be kicking the Commission’s door in.    Digby Jones said we’d have a free trade deal in 24 hours.  Meantime on BBC World at 0ne today a Canadian Trade Negotiator said the reason the EU/Canada deal took so long was the time taken to sort out issues between 28 member states.  A UK/Canada deal would be much more straightforward.

Remember John that the Treaties require the EU to negotiate favourable trade terms with neighbouring countries.

“If we wish to do a deal in services — it may be a long time coming”.  You may be familiar with TISA,  the Trade In Services Agreement, which the UK would certainly accede to and is a much better platform for financial services than the EU alone.

“The price of any trade deal with the EU is we must accept free movement of people”.  Why?  Do Canada or Korea have free movement?  No.  So why should we?  And why is the EU the only major trading organisation (of course it’s not a free trade area) that seeks to conflate free trade with all sorts of extraneous factors?  Same comments on the EU budget.  Why?  Given the trade imbalance, they should pay for access to our market.

“Our departure would weaken Europe”.  I’m elected in the interests of British voters, John, so Europe isn’t my prime concern.  But Brexit will be a beginning, not an end.  Across Europe citizens are fed up with the EU’s stultifying model, with immigration and austerity.  I think that soon after Brexit we will see pressure from other member states for referenda, either to leave the EU, or at least to achieve radical change.  I envisage a Europe in ten or fifteen years of independent, democratic nation states, linked by free trade and voluntary intergovernmental negotiation.

Once again, Britain will have saved itself by its exertions, and Europe by its example.

Yours sincerely.  Roger Helmer MEP


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30 Responses to Open Letter to Sir John

  1. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

    Sir John makes a very good point when he says that our leaving will be a pretty poisonous affair. I am in no doubt that the EU will cut up very rough indeed and try to make life as unpleasant as possible.

    But consider this. If the EU truly valued out membership, there would have been real progress in reform. There has been none. The EU states being over run with migrants are becoming seriously alarmed at the way these people behave, particularly with regard to Western women. An Austrian woman had to fight off an attacker who groped her, had her handbag stolen and managed to avoid being car jacked. Instead, a random female passer by was assaulted. That is not bad going for being stuck in traffic waiting for the lights to change.

    Sir John’s core point about the EU making life as difficult as possible is the one that interests me. This country has a long and fine tradition of not being bullied or threatened and I can see no reason why we should succumb now. Indeed, bring it on. Our neighbours and friends in Europe will then see the EU for the nasty, vindictive, power hungry organisation that it is.

    As for diplomatic failures, what about Yugoslavia? The EU let the Serbians do what they liked in the name of maintaining unity of an artificial country and it too NATO to sort that one out. With regard to Ukraine, if the EU wanted to sign a free trade deal, that would probably have been fine. Instead, it tried to get Ukraine to join the EU and started interfering with its internal running. Given that Ukraine is Russia’s bread basket, it does not take a top diplomat to work out that if there is a risk to a nation’s food supply, that nation is going to become very cross very quickly.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Wise words from an experienced politician

    • Jim Blott says:

      Disingenuous words from Major who of course signed The Maastricht Treaty which was really the birth place of the modern EU. He appears to be living in a fantasy land.

  3. Tim Hammond says:

    The claim regarding percentages of exports (45% vs 7%) is simply an example of the misuse or misunderstanding of maths, not trade policy..

    It compares exports from one country to the other 27 with the exports of the other 27 to one. It is like saying that Chelsea play 100% of their games against Premier League clubs, but the other Premier League clubs only play 5% of their games against Chelsea. That is “true” but meaningless.

    I would also suggest that if our current partners, having been “diminished” by our departure are so stupid as to make that diminishment worse by not trading with us, then they are beyond stupid. And of course it totally misunderstands trade – people want imports. Exports are merely the means of paying for them.

  4. Maureen Gannon says:

    Well said Roger , lets not forget the attempt by Frankfurt to buy up the stock Exchange they couldn’t control it so the German answer Buy It ,Then TTIP lets get out before that evil is placed round our necks.

  5. Anyoldiron says:

    My predictions in verse re the battle once more for a Free Country.

    By 2020

    About ten years from now, down the line
    All of your England will be mine,
    My flag will fly from North to South,
    Not one of you had better doubt.
    My golden stars shining on blue,
    Will come to be known very well by you,
    BETTER RESPECT, to this flag you will show
    Than to your old flag, which away you did throw.

    Stand you will, when our Anthem plays,
    Every day you will begin to learn our ways,
    We will know every thought, deed and word,
    Though not one of your voices will be heard.
    We will not let you throw away
    Our ‘governing’ that you follow ‘today’,
    Over fifty years, slowly, step by step
    To take from you all we could get,

    Your Country, wealth, your army, your world,
    Never again will your flag be unfurled.
    You will be shouting against the wind,
    The winds of change new rulers bring.
    Never will you treat the “Union” so
    As you dealt your Britain blow by blow.
    How could you fight with leaders of straw?
    To be “At Europe’s Heart”, was the call.

    We control the air, the sea and land,
    Our laws obeyed even by Cameron.
    Not one bomb dropped on London Town
    It was your own who brought you down.
    You will give us “Statehood” with a constitution,
    Our soft words led to your confusion,
    Our Constitution is the Crown long waited for,
    Our Currency its jewel we had grasped before.
    You once knew freedom, yet you let it slip,
    On all of you we have a tighter grip.
    We collected it all, sovereignty, security, wealth
    It was your own politicians that used cruel stealth.

  6. gerv says:

    Why would the UK “obviously” sign up to TISA? You don’t even know what’s in it, because it’s beng negotiated in secret.

    In what way do UKIP’s values of localism, accountability, and so on mesh in any way with “trade” agreements which bundle policies about lots of non-trade topics which the electorate wouldn’t normally wear, negotiated in secret by an unaccountable group of bureaucrats, presented in a “take it or leave it” way that tries to make us swallow the policywashing as the price of getting a reduced tariff on something?

    Free trade: good. TISA/TPP/ACTA/TTIP: not good. I hope that when we leave the EU, and we start negotiating trade agreements with other countries and groups, we will a) keep the topics to those clearly concerned with trade, and b) be open and accountable about our general negotiating stances.

    • Gerv: We are committed to independence, but not to splendid isolation. Our financial services industry is vitally important and has huge potential. Yet cross-border financial services are poorly developed in the EU, but much stronger across the Anglosphere (broadly speaking). No I haven’t read the TISA text, but I will when it becomes necessary. My understanding is that it is essentially a Free Trade Area in Financial Services, intended to cover — yes — the EU, but also the vital markets of North America and Asia. Until there’s reason to think otherwise, I’m in favour. TISA simply looks like a better platform for a global financial services industry than the EU (which really doesn’t understand financial services, and sees them as dangerous and Anglo-Saxon).

  7. John Poynton says:

    Quite so. And you may also like the reply I have written to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph which I have also posted to my blog at

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Good responses Roger to the same old often repeated mantra from those who wish to remain on the deck of a sinking ship.
    Was that photo used in the article? It was clearly photo shopped and very badly at that, the Sunday Times has reached a new low, when I was last living in the UK it had a good reputation.

  9. Mr M A Blom-Cooper says:

    Ironic that Sir John is such an advocate for remaining in the EU, his memory must be playing tricks on him. He seems to forget the economic crises in Britain around our membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism. When sterling came under heavy selling pressure from the Markets, in order to keep the exchange rate up to the required rate against the German Mark, billions of pounds were wasted in buying back sterling, interest rates reached 15% to make the pound more attractive to investors to buy(Imagine that to-day!), all to try and stabilise the rate. All measures failed as the run on the pound continued. In fact if our then EU partners especially the Germans had brought sterling in support, which was supposed to happen as part of the mechanism, this would have solved the crisis and calmed the markets. However, our EU partners refused to buy sterling, so the only solution left was Brexit from the ERM. As we know, this was very much a blessing that Sterling was not supported, far from this being an economic catastrophe, the complete opposite happened, Britain’s economy recovered almost overnight.
    I do not think Sir John’s Chancellor at the time; Lord Norman Lamont has the same view of the EU as Sir John, as Lord Lamont is now very much a Eurosceptic.

  10. Shieldsman says:

    John Major Signed The Maastricht Treaty Without Offering A Referendum

    The Maastricht “Treaty on European Union” did not establish the EU as a corporate entity with its own legal personality.Therefore the Referendum was not offered,although one should have been!
    The Foreign Secretary has already admitted that the Maastricht Treaty involved a “smaller transfer of power” than the EU Constitution Treaty (Hansard Report, 3 July 2007)

    The Lisbon Treaty IS the CONSTITUTION, which is entirely different! We were offered a referendum in New Labours Election manifesto,so therefore the cowards should have honoured that commitment!
    Any Constitution, be it maxi or mini, and any Treaty revision that involves either a material transfer of sovereignty (in either direction) between the member states and the EU, or a change in the balance of power among individual member states, should continue to be subject to referendum, New Labour offered a referendum as part of its manifesto pledge!

  11. Toby Brothers says:

    I am sure the EU will want to play the bully when we leave, but they can have no economic interest in disrupting trade! Why on earth would Sir John imagine they would risk losing any business with us, or any of their 6.5 million job reliant on our custom!!! The fantasy of some advantage of remaining is puzzling. They all behave as we wish to leave “the Firm” and violence will follow if we do!!. Their real fear is we will leave and within a few years the benefits of our freedom will be seen across the world; they will then see other countries clamour to leave too. The Dutch would leave tomorrow if they could. The Germans are nearly in leave territory. So we must not bend to fear. The idea we should take the CBI seriously with those made up figures is laughable. They previously implored the govt to join the Euro and abolish the bank of England! They said we would suffer if we didn’t. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

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  14. malshy says:

    It’s just John Major trying to defend his position in history.

  15. RODNEY OLLEY says:

    I think Roger’s letter was excellent and it is significant that when interviewed Sir John made no attempt to answer the points made but resorted to cheap vituperation. Here is a man who in his time was badly used and has bottled up all the bile he accumulated until now when a chance presented to let it all pour out. I’ve no doubt he feels relieved to have finally got rid of it.

  16. Brian R Franklin says:

    My opinion is that if his party did not feel he was competent to lead them and the country why would I give his opinion any credence.

  17. Well done Roger, a man after my own heart, and put very succinctly. In my eyes John Major is not even a ‘has been’, as he achieved absolutely nothing, with the exception of hanging the Maastricht Treaty around our necks. What worries me, is if Cameron and Osborne are devious enough to manage to rig the vote in their favour. The Netherlands didn’t achieve ‘out’, even with 66% of the voters wanting it. He waffles on about the ‘Single Market’, but surely, is it not a Global Market that we require?

  18. Robert Bentley says:

    Can someone explain to me how this retired irrelevance can get himself a spot on prime time TV and I cannot. He was an irrelevance when he was someone’s puppet when in no.,10 as he is now. I can only conclude that he is been put out there to do Dave’s blue on blue fight.

  19. William Hugh Jackson says:

    Perhaps we should remember John Major’s background in politics before we even consider taking his remarks seriously. He was a significant backroom figure in the Treasury scenario before he became PM – and did he not work hard, at that time, to ensure that the UK toed the line set by the EU? His performances before, during and after Maastricht reveal that he was (and is) a staunch Europhile (in the sense that he preferred the EU, rather than the whole of Europe). The EMU disaster indicated that his viewpoint was narrow and his judgement at fault. As a life-long Tory, and one who advocated the eventual result of the 1975 referendum, I am horrified by the lack of vision shown by the present Conservative leadership, never mind the unforgivable failure to look at policies rather than personalities in the current debate. It may well be the oldest trick in the political book: if you can’t win the argument, denigrate the opposition.


  20. David Warde says:

    It would be well to note that almost up until the very end Churchill was being urged by ‘the great and the good’, including some in his own cabinet, to do a deal with Hitler and end the war. Thankfully, Churchill was having none of it declaring, ‘We will NEVER surrender’. I believe that we are witnessing a resurgence of that longing for freedom from ever growing oppression that will see our nation regain the democracy and freedom that was born with MAgna CArta and will live on with ‘Brexit’.


  21. Anyoldiron says:

    To think my Generation fought a terrible World WAR to prevent FOREIGNERS governing us. Yet today’s MP’s and Government eagerly PAY foreigners to Govern us, yet they STILL what their jobs as MP’s etc. What if the people in that last WAR had NOT fought and instead have payed those foreigners then to gover us? Just how many of YOU today would have been born or alive TODAY or perhaps some may think Hitler was a kindly man? Yet I remember the time-just before that War ended, we were taken from school to watch a film-no not a Disney film, but the opening of Belsen and other Concentration Camps-I doubt any one of us ever forgot what we saw that day-but then-we lived where we were bombed night after night? We never forgot those bombing either.

    • Ben N. says:

      I believe it was precisely the influence of WWII that brought about this treachery to our nation. During and after the war, among intellectual circles, there was a growing interest in Communism. This was primarily well-intentioned, based on preventing a future world war, and involved a vision of the merging of sovereign states and the abandonment of national identity. Communist sympathisers chose a path that was very similar to Hitler’s vision, who *also* envisioned a European superstate. Their capitulation was to see this superstate as inevitable, but to want to implement it in a cosy, humane Communist way (as they saw it) rather than a fascist way. More efforts should have been made to extinguish Communist sympathies back in those early days. It was among intellectual circles where the Communist sympathies grew, and because of this it inevitably spread across educational institutions, gently indoctrinating future political leaders. The abandonment of national identity is very much a Communist principle, and it underlines how severely this country has sunk into socialism.

  22. Mark wright says:

    Nicely said my brother ! Major you should change your name to private puppet ! Crook

  23. Anyoldiron says:

    I wonder however Mark when my generation dies out-WHO will fight for freedom from foreign rule then? Will that History never be told to the next Generation? Will “IT” start all over again?

  24. Philip says:

    A very well written retort to another idiotic and scaremongering ex grey man of politics..but as with all will fall on deaf ears.. better the idiot you know than try something new.. out. Vote out and be done with them..

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