Dave’s Big Deal hasn’t impressed you

MoneyWeek readers have heaped plenty of cynicism on the prime minister's grand plan to keep Britain in the EU. John Stepek looks at what has got you so irate.


Readers aren't buying into David Cameron's "big deal"

We took a look at Dave's Big Deal to prevent Brexit yesterday.

Thanks for all your comments on the topic. We got so many that I thought I'd hand over to you this morning.

I was shocked shocked I tell you to find an element of cynicism in the majority of your responses.

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Readers aren't buying it

When it comes to Dave's Deal, it's safe to say that none of you who wrote in were particularly impressed.

Firstly, I'd been sceptical that the deal would change anyone's mind. Turns out I was wrong.

"Have always been pro-EU, but given the current incompetence, waste and lack of accountability, been growing more uneasy. After Dave's big deal turned out to be less useful than a chocolate tea pot it's clear the EU is not for changing. So I am now with Boris for Brexit Sad, as a sensible and reformed EU would have a lot going for it!"

Others were equally unimpressed. "Nobody is saying anything about the fact that if the referendum vote is to stay in the EU, that the newly negotiated terms have to be agreed and ratified by the EU parliament and what happens if they don't agree?"

This is a point worth bearing in mind. If the deal somehow pushed you firmly into the stay' camp, just remember that it still needs to get past the EU lawmaking process.

As another reader warns: "Cameron is not staying in a reformed' EU. There is no reform. The changes are dependent on the EU say-so and ratification by the other nations. We have seen how agreements' have been ignored or overturned in the past. If we vote to remain, it does give a green light to ever-closer union, whatever Cameron says has been agreed."

Others were sceptical about the prospect of genuine change, regardless of how everyone votes.

If leave wins, argues one reader, the negotiations will be led by the prime minister at the time. And most of the current candidates David Cameron or George Osborne, for example happen to be europhiles.

"So we will get a very Brexit-lite deal probably similar to the Norwegian model or there may be a quid pro quo' deal for something closer to the EU than that." In short "we will still be in thrall to the bankers and major multinational organisations, and no amount of voting will change that!"

It's true that the shape of post-Brexit Britain would need to be hammered out. But one of the key points for backing Brexit is that we then have the power to hold those responsible for that to account at the ballot box.

It wasn't just pro-Brexit correspondence, though the majority was. Said one reader: "Every prime minister since the Second World War has been in favour of the EU in some form or another, so who are we to say we know better."

I wouldn't say that's an argument for staying, I must admit, but at the same time I have often wondered precisely what it is that makes our top politicians regardless of their views pre-election turn pro-EU when in power. I like to think it's not just the prospect of a cosy pre-retirement role, but I can't discount it. "I'll still vote yes' we can't be a country in isolation. We are part of the club and should work to make it more effective. Too many jobs depend on it."

Another reader had an interesting query: "Could you publish a summary of the position when we were about to join the euro a note of who was in favour, why, and their forecast of where we would be would be useful."

I'll need to do a bit of digging around for (it would be interesting to do something comprehensive on this, I like the idea), but judging from a brief bit of Googling (and from memory), the arguments weren't too dissimilar.

If we didn't join the euro, we'd be left out and we'd have less influence over Europe. Big companies wouldn't locate in Britain, because we weren't part of the euro. And the City would lose business to eurozone countries.

The political tone was similar too those who didn't want to join were painted as anti-cosmopolitan, fogeyish, wedded to a delusional vision of an imperial Britain, as opposed to the "realistic" europhile view of the UK as a small nation, essentially irrelevant on the global stage without the support of the euro nations.

Gordon Brown thankfully stopped us from joining primarily because he wouldn't have countenanced giving up that much control over our economy to someone else, thus hollowing out his own power base and leaving Tony Blair with all the cards. Good things can sometimes come from bad intentions.

One reader asked what we thought of Neil Woodford's conclusion that Brexit would be broadly economically neutral. It's fair to say that we think the Capital Economics analysis makes sense we'll look at it in more detail in the next issue of MoneyWeek magazine, but this interview with Capital Economics' founder Roger Bootle sums up, for me, the sensible argument for Brexit.

Other readers aren't convinced of their view either way they're just fed up: "I feel so depressed about the in/out debate. I care about my finances but to vote in or out simply on the basis of what you think will happen next year is a bit short-sighted what depresses me is how similar the in' and out' camps seem."

Both sides want things their own way they want to pick and choose the parts of Europe they like, and leave the bits they don't. "I used to be really pro-Europe and in my heart I still feel that what I want is a prosperous democratic, federal Europe, but if Britain is always going to be half-hearted about the whole thing I'm going to vote leave in the vague hope that maybe Britain will be a better place out of Europe."

Finally, one reader somewhat cut through the Gordian knot of it all: "Everything that Dave won for Britain in the rounds of hard negotiations could have been achieved by leaving the EU, full stop.No negotiations necessary."

Send me your views I'm sure there are some "stay" voters out there who'd like to vent their spleen. Send them in to editor@moneyweek.com. And I'll assume from now on that you're happy for your responses to be published and attributed to you, unless you indicate otherwise in your email so if you don't want me to mention you by name, let me know.

Gold: there's more to come

By the way, if you missed my regular podcast with Merryn Somerset Webb last week, you can listen to the whole thing here.

But I just wanted to highlight one particular point. Merryn and I gave ourselves a bit of pat on the back for a cover story we ran back in December, tipping the gold miners, which have turned out to be the hottest stocks of 2016 so far.

The question in everyone's minds now, as Merryn put it, is: "I'm looking at the gold miners now and thinking well, did I buy enough? Is it too late?"

The good news is that we don't think it's too late. We explain why and suggest a few stocks set to profit handsomely in this special report. Get your hands on it now.

John Stepek

John is the executive editor of MoneyWeek and writes our daily investment email, Money Morning. John graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in psychology in 1996 and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.

He started out in journalism by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms. In 2003, he took a job on the finance desk of Teletext, where he spent two years covering the markets and breaking financial news. John joined MoneyWeek in 2005.

His work has been published in Families in Business, Shares magazine, Spear's Magazine, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator among others. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. His first book, on contrarian investing, The Sceptical Investor, was released in March 2019. You can follow John on Twitter at @john_stepek.