EU Referendum - NOTHING has changed
Good grief, the MSM is full of it today. The Prime Minister has written an article for the Telegraph in which he says a referendum on Britain's EU membership may be a possibility in the future - 'when the time is right' - and it is as though he has made in irreversible, un-U-turnable, cast-iron guarantee that it shall be so.
David Cameron is not God: when he speaks, he does not bring matter into being ex nihilo. Indeed, it is not at all clear what he said that's new, or in any way significant, or that is not being uttered ahead of next year's elections to the European Parliament simply to shoot the UKIP fox (or another Fox).
Let us examine the contents of this seismic article.
It is vital for our country — for the strength of our economy, for the health of our democracy and for the influence of our nation — that we get our relationship with Europe right.Well done, Prime Minister. Except for the fact that we are well and truly 'in Europe' - associated and absorbed, so to talk of a 'relationship' is a little like the hand wondering what relationship it might have with the foot: we are one body, with one nervous system, under one head.
We need to be absolutely clear about what we really want, what we now have and the best way of getting what is best for Britain. We need to answer those questions before jumping to questions about referendums.We've been asking these questions for nigh on 40 years. No main political party has arrived at an answer, and you're not likely to go where your predecessors feared to tread.
I am not against referendums in our parliamentary democracy. Parliament is elected to make decisions and be accountable, but when powers are transferred it is right to ask the people. That is why we will ensure the Scottish people can hold a referendum having elected a government on a mandate to do just that.Yes, we know you've put a 'referendum lock' on the statute books, but still it is you who decide when and whether those powers transferred may trigger any referendum: it is you who hold the key.
I am also not against referendums on Europe. The last government should have held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. They didn’t, so this Government put in place a referendum lock so that no government can ever again pass powers from Britain to Brussels without first asking the British people.There was nothing preventing you from holding a retrospective referendum on Lisbon, just as Harold Wilson did on our EEC membership in 1975. On 'referendum lock', see above.
As a trading nation Britain needs unfettered access to European markets and a say in how the rules of that market are written.Blah blah.
The single market is at the heart of the case for staying in the EU. But it also makes sense to co-operate with our neighbours to maximise our influence in the world and project our values of freedom and democracy.Blah blah blah.
Here Britain makes the running in the EU, so I don’t agree with those who say we should leave and therefore want the earliest possible in/out referendum. Leaving would not be in our country’s best interests.So when/if a referendum comes, you'll be campaigning to for 'In', along with Labour, the LibDems, the CofE, the Roman Catholic Church, the BBC and much of the rest of the MSM. In fact, the entire Establishment will be ranged against the swivel-eyed bigots, xenophobes, little-Englanders and extremists. If you do not grasp what is manifestly in the country's best interests, it is very difficult to trust your discernment.
An “in” vote too would have profound disadvantages. All further attempts at changing Britain’s relationship with Europe would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken.Yes, it will kill the issue for another generation. Which is why it must be won.
Yet the fact is the British people are not happy with what they have, and neither am I. That’s why I said on Friday that the problem with an in/out referendum is that it offers a single choice, whereas what I want — and what I believe the vast majority of the British people want — is to make changes to our relationship.Well, it's clear that an increasing majority are not happy, but it isn't so clear that you're not. By denying the In/Out option, you deny the very choice that majority desires: 'changes to our relationship' is simply code for temporary derogation. The EU is predicated on 'ever closer union'. The only 'relationship' it understands is the absorption of national sovereignty and the negation of democracy.
So what is wrong with what we’ve got? Put simply, for those of us outside the eurozone, far from there being too little Europe, there is too much of it. Too much cost; too much bureaucracy; too much meddling in issues that belong to nation states or civic society or individuals. Whole swathes of legislation covering social issues, working time and home affairs should, in my view, be scrapped.Yes, this is nothing new.
The Coalition parties will have different views on this, so we will be reviewing the balance of the EU’s competences, to provide a national audit of what the EU currently does and its implications for our country.Which will take a year, or two... an audit sounds ominously like 'a review' - a strategy for perpetual deferral.
Finally, and vitally, how do we maximise the chances of actually getting what we want?Threaten to leave, you moron.
First, we need to recognise that Europe is changing — and fast . The single currency is driving a process that will see its members take more and more steps towards fuller integration. They are necessary if the euro is to survive, but mean that the EU and relationships within it will change. We have shown not only that we can stay out of that integration, but that we can also get out of things — such as bail-out funds — that we don’t like.We 'got out' of bail-out funds, did we? Right..
At Friday’s summit we ensured that the key parts of banking union would be done by the European Central Bank for eurozone members and not for us. We won’t stand behind Greek or Portuguese banks, and our banks will be regulated by the Bank of England, not the ECB.So, you waved another veto, did you?
There is more to come where we can take forward our interests, safeguard the single market and stay out of a federal Europe. Those who say we would never say “no” were proved wrong by my veto last December. And those who instead say we risk giving up all influence are also wrong.Blah blah.
Two of the last big decisions about European institutions have gone our way: we have a British head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a home in London for important parts of the new EU patent court.Golly gosh. His Grace is mightily impressed.
Second, let us start to spell out in more detail the parts of our European engagement we want and those that we want to end. While we need to define with more clarity where we would like to get to, we need to show tactical and strategic patience. The eurozone is in crisis which needs to be resolved, and we are in a Coalition government during this parliament.Ah, 'tactical and strategic patience' is what have long run out of.
Nevertheless I will continue to work for a different, more flexible and less onerous position for Britain within the EU.Yes, right.
How do we take the British people with us on this difficult and complicated journey? How do we avoid the wrong paths of either accepting the status quo meekly or giving up altogether and preparing to leave? It will undoubtedly be hard, but taking the right path in politics often is.You don't say.
As we get closer to the end point, we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people whether it is in a general election or in a referendum.Blah blah.
As I have said, for me the two words “Europe” and “referendum” can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first.Well, this is another flip-flop, zig-zag U-turn on last year, when you said: "But I do not support holding a referendum come what may. That is not our policy and I will not be supporting that motion." The problem is that you have U-turned on so many issues that you have something of a repution for inconstancy. And those 'principled and passionate' MPs who are demanding that a referendum be put on the statute books have no apparent understanding of the constitutional principle that no parliament may bind its successors.