I hate to say “I told you so” but I told you so. The EU has behaved as it always behaves. There is never a Plan B; Plan A is simply resubmitted over and over again.
Speaking after the text was initialled, Gordon Brown said it was time to lay to rest some of “the Euro-myths”. Yes, let’s, shall we?
Myth 1: We don’t hold referendums in Britain
It’s too late for this one, PM: you conceded the principle of a referendum in your last manifesto. Labour has held 25 referendums since taking office, on issues ranging from the Northen Ireland settlement to local mayors. In any case, it’s a bit rich to cite parliamentary democracy in support of a treaty that vitiates it.
Myth 2: Britain’s independent foreign policy is unaffected
Oh yeah? Then what is the EU’s common foreign policy for? Why do we need a foreign minister, a Euro-diplomatic corps, accredited European embassies? It’s odd, really, how Euro-philes say this and then, in the next breath, tell us that Europe needs a strong, united voice in the world. You can’t have it both ways, boys.
Myth 3: We will still have an independent legal system
Except for the European Public Prosecutor, the pan-European magistracy (“Eurojust”), the federal police force (“Europol”) and the EU criminal code (“corpus juris”).
Myth 4: “Our red lines are intact”
I almost didn’t put that one in, since repeating the charge, even in order to refute it, is playing Labour’s game. Still, since it is the main part of the Broon’s case, I suppose I have to address it. The truth is that all four of the “red lines” are bogus. One of them – over social security – refers to a policy that not even the maddest Euro-fanatics want to control. The other three are defined in such a way that it will always be possible to claim they have been secured. The easiest way to demonstrate this is to note that these are the same as the four “red lines” drawn when the constitution was first proposed. Oh no, hang on: there were five “red lines” in those days. The fifth had to do with preserving Britain’s budget rebate. Whoops.
Myth 5: The Reform Treaty is necessary for enlargement
Hmm. And there was me thinking that enlargement had happened in 2004.
Myth 6: The EU needs these changes in order to work
What do you mean “in order to work”, Gordon? Do you mean that, without this constitution, the crops will lie unharvested in our fields, the wheels in our factories will cease to turn? Of course not. What you mean is that it will be harder for the EU to generate more legislation. But would this be so terrible?
Myth 7: The proper place to scrutinise such legislation is in Parliament
This is one of the most annoying lies of all. Parliament cannot amend European treaties: it must accept or reject them. There is no opportunity for “scrutiny”
Myth 8: There is no alternative
Oh yes there is. The other European leaders keep threatening us with it, and no less an authority than Polly Toybnee now agrees. The alternative is some form of associate status, in between what we now have and the free-trade-only deal that Norway and Switzerland enjoy – albeit tilted more towards the latter than the former. Norway and Switzerland are the freest, most successful and most democratic countries in Europe. They export twice as much per head to the EU from outside as Britain does from inside. And you know what? Their peoples have the highest income in the world, more than twice that of EU citizens. It seems possible to survive out there somehow.
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