Gerard Batten MEP
Dr Anthony Coughlan
Marc Henri Glendenning
Roger Helmer MEP
Martin Howe QC
Dr Ruth Lea CBE
Cllr Steve Radford
The Rt Hon. John Redwood MP
QUOTES FROM THE SPEAKERS
The speakers at the conference kept up the pressure on Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the revived and renamed EU Constitution; and expose the facts of Britain's EU membership
Martin Howe QC, said,
"It is important to look at what is in the Lisbon Treaty, instead of diverting attention to the marginal changes from the Constitution. The Treaty abolishes the existing body called 'the European Union' and replaces it with an entity which is given the same name but which is actually a new body which, unlike the old, has international legal personality. Justice, criminal law, foreign policy and defence swept into the supranational legal structure of the new EU. It cannot be denied that this Treaty effects a fundamental constitutional change."
Click here to listen online to the speech by Martin Howe
Christopher Booker, said,
“It is a fact I have now been observing for some years that the only people who support Britain's continued membership of the European Union are either those who don't really know very much about it or those who in some way or other benefit from it financially.
Click here to listen online to the speech by Christopher Booker
Ruth Lea, Director of Global Vision, said,
"The current debate about the EU is understandably focused on the Reform Treaty and the need for a referendum. But this shouldn't divert us from the need to look beyond the Treaty and look at the more fundamental issue of the right relationship for Britain with the EU in the 21st century. Global Vision believes that Britain needs to negotiate a new relationship based on trade and cooperation whilst opting out of political and economic union - a relationship that is right for the country, popular with the British people and politically feasible."
Click here to listen online to the speech by Ruth Lea
John Redwood MP, said,
"Most elected politicians at Westminster, in Edinburgh and Belfast were elected on the promise of a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty. If Labour at Westminster refuse to honour their promise, it is vital that Scotland and Ireland hold referenda to show the UK government how strongly people condemn this needless and undesirable Treaty. It gives away too much power. It has been wrongly described as fundamentally different from the Constitution by the UK government whilst continental governments have recognised it is more or less the same as the Constitution the peoples of France and Holland rejected in free votes."
Click here to listen online to the speech by John Redwood MP
Dr Anthony Coughlan, Secretary of the Irish Euro-critical group the National Platform, said,
“The Treaty of Lisbon, the renamed EU Constitutional Treaty, will create a constitutionally new European Union that is legally quite different from what we call the EU at present. It will give this new Union the constitutional form of a supranational Federation and make us all real citizens of this entity for the first time, instead of our being just notional or nominal EU 'citizens' as at present.
“One can only be a citizen of a State, so that if the Lisbon Treaty is pushed through we shall henceforth owe the new Union, it will establish the prime obligations of citizenship, namely obedience to its laws and loyalty to its authority and institutions.”
Click here to listen online to the speech by Dr Anthony Coughlan
Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP for London, said,
“Britain's armed forces are slowly but surely being subsumed into a 'European defence capability' - European Union armed forces. This is being done my means such as defence procurement policies, the implementation of new command and control structures, and the pursuit of a common EU foreign policy leading to a 'common European defence'. If this process is not resisted then within a few years Britain will not be able to mount independent military operations.”
Click here to listen online to the speech by Gerard Batten MEP
Roger Helmer MEP, said,
“The pretence that the Lisbon Treaty is somehow different from the failed EU Constitution is one of the most preposterous propositions foisted on the public in living memory. In the spring of this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote as President-in-Office of the Council to EU heads of government proposing "cosmetic changes (to the Constitution) and different terminology but with the same legal effect” - surely one of the most cynical and deceitful proposals ever made by an EU leader.”
Click here to listen online to the speech by Roger Helmer
Cllr Steve Radford, President of the Liberal Party, said,
“It is ironic whilst our government is committed to assist Iraqi democratic self-determination they are wilfully denying the British people a right to vote on the future of our country, if a referendum was right for an Iraqi constitution is it no less right for the British people.
“The people of the North-East rejected phoney devolution in a referendum, has this experienced frightened the euro-fanatics in Westminster that they would equally be trumped by the commonsense of the British people in any referendum on the EU superstate by stealth.”
Click here to listen online to the speech by Cllr Steve Radford
Marc Glendenning, Director of the Democracy Movement, said,
"Many MPs who intend to vote to approve the EU Constitution Treaty without a referendum are in marginal seats, clinging to their jobs by their fingertips. They cannot afford to ignore the views of too many local voters without risking their jobs at the next election. So the key to getting the promised referendum is to now make their dishonourable stance a very personal, local issue for those MPs. Forcing the most vulnerable to choose between supporting a referendum or losing their jobs is how our battle can be won."
Click here to listen online to the speech by Marc Glendenning
Bernard Connolly, author of the Rotten Heart of Europe, said,
"The EU and its constitution are very specifically anti Anglo-Saxon on several levels. On levels concerning Anglo-Saxon models of capitalism, concerning sovereignty and the national state, concerning common law and concerning the so called Anglosphere and in particular the financial Anglosphere, which makes up the global financial system."
Click here to listen online to the speech by Bernard Connolly
Speech by Martin Howe QC
Good morning everybody. I think what I am going to start off with is really a bird's eye view of some of the most important legal implications of the so-called "Reform Treaty" because I think that may help us with our discussion today as we move forward to some of the more political implications of that legal starting point.
I think it is important when we look at this Treaty to avoid becoming bogged down in what are becoming totally arcane arguments over red lines or red herrings, minute changes in the wording of protocols and so on and so forth, a subject area on which the government has sought to concentrate debate in order, if you like, to avoid discussing the elephant in the room, and the elephant in the room is what is in the Treaty, not what has been carved off or pared off with a fine scalpel at some of the edges.
As part of the PR exercise, the Treaty has been referred to at a political level as the "Reform Treaty". Technically its actual name will be the Treaty Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, and it is deliberately intended to be impenetrable. The drafting technique adopted of chopping up the existing two treaties on which the European Union and the European Community are founded and dicing and slicing and sticking bits in here, there and everywhere, makes it extremely difficult to follow what is being done. A merit of the lamented, or, depending on your point of view, much unlamented Constitution was at least that it was a single text, possibly of totally inordinate length, but a single text which one could actually follow and I think the problem from the point of view of those putting it forward was that it was too easily followed by the electorates in the Netherlands and France, resulting in its rejection in the referendum. So obscurity is what is in issue and an attempt to dress up fundamental change as mere small amendments or comparatively small amendments and changes, trying to keep the form of the existing treaties while in fact changing their substance entirely. What one might call sculpting a cat out of a dog.
A fundamental point and from my point of view, from a legal point of view, a fundamental point which needs to be emphasised and I think is escaped in the debates on the Treaty is that the Treaty actually abolishes the existing European Union and it replaces it with a new body which is an expanded body based on the powers of the existing European Community, and it would have been more forthright and more honest actually to give this new body a new name but of course what has been done is to keep the same name in order to disguise the extent of the changes that occur.
The first and most fundamental change is that the European Union will enjoy international legal personality, and let me explain the implication of that. At present the European Union is a sort of, "intergovernmental" may not be quite the right word to describe it, but a collection of states who negotiate together in the international stage and when they sign treaties the individual member states will sign the treaties. Once the European Union has its own international legal personality it will sign treaties in its own name. Those treaties will be binding, according to the new Treaty, both on the Union itself and on all the individual member states. We will therefore lose the capacity in the international sphere in the sphere of foreign policy, where policies are covered by the common foreign and security policy, to sign and conclude treaties in our own name as a nation.
There are other important changes which I think go together with this. The institution of a permanent president of the European Council is actually a fundamental shift. International bodies by and large which are collections of states coming together are chaired normally in rotation, not always but normally in rotation, by one of the member states. That has been the system on which the European Union and European Community has been run since its inception. They may well have people like a director general or a secretary general or a head of organisation, someone who reports to the member states, but as far as I am aware it is unprecedented for international organisations to have a head or president who actually presides over meetings of the representatives of the states, a permanent president drawn from the organisation itself. This is effectively the function of a head of state. If we look at the European Union after this Treaty and we tick off the attributes of statehood that it will possess as recognised in international law, it is very hard to see what attributes it does not possess.
In the same way, the Gilbert and Sullivan entitled "High Representative" of the common foreign and security policy becomes in effect the foreign minister of the Union under the Treaty. He will not, as the current High Representative does, report to the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers, he will preside over it. In fact his functions are more widespread than that. Under Article 13A inserted into the Union Treaty by the new Treaty: "A High Representative who shall chair the Foreign Affairs Council shall contribute through his or her proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council. The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign security policy. He or she shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union's behalf and shall express the Union's position in international organisations and at international conferences. In fulfilling his or her mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European external action service", in other words, the Union's own diplomatic service.
That is one important change but there is what in my view is an even more important change regarding the external relations of the Union. The common foreign security policy continues to contain a large measure of national veto, at least at the level of deciding on the framework of policy. However, buried in the Treaty there is a new article buried in what was originally the Rome Treaty, a new Article 188L relating to international agreements and these are agreements concluded outside the scope of the common foreign and security policy strictly so called, but concluded in relation to other aspects of the Union's external relations and it says: "The union may conclude an agreement with one or more third countries or international organisations where the treaties so provide". Well, so far so good, and that is basically in connection with trade agreements under the common commercial policy, a number of specific areas. And then there is some expansion, it says: "Where the conclusion of agreement is necessary in order to achieve within the framework of the Union's policies one of the objectives referred to in the treaties, or is provided for in a legally binding Union Act", so any ordinary directive passed by QMV could provide for the making of an international agreement, "or is likely to affect common rules or alter their scope."
These treaties, unlike the CSFP treaties, are to be concluded, it says "the Council shall act by a qualified majority throughout the procedure". This means that in any field of activity in which the Union has an internal competence or internal common rules, this Article will give it the power to conclude external agreements, everything ranging from international, intercontinental airline agreements to, for example - well, let's take extradition: since the Union will acquire internal powers relating to extradition between member states, it is hard to see why this Article will not give it the power to take over and conclude external extradition arrangements with third countries in place of the powers of member states.
So what we see here is actually enormous expansion of the power of the Union to conduct the external relations of the member states such that it is actually going to be quite hard to see what the residue that member states will enjoy in conducting their own foreign policy will be. Of course that is without mentioning another important and related subject which is the creation or the expansion of the common defence and security policy which it is said will lead towards a common defence, the formal establishment of the European Defence Agency, a body which of course has already been set up, since they do not actually wait for treaty powers in order to do things, but will acquire formal powers supposedly to co ordinate things like our defence industries, and those who are more expert in the field of defence than I am point out that this means making all armed forces compatible with ludicrous and pointless duplication of the American GPS system called Galileo and making them non interchangeable with American forces, so sabotaging the operation of NATO.
The other thing the Common Defence Policy does which is quite important, new Article 27(7) of the Treaty on the European Union introduces in fact a security guarantee. This is quite important because what it says I am tunnelling my way through the complete Treaty protocols and declarations of this object, but what it does, it says: "If a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This will not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states". So this seems to be turning the European Union into a defensive alliance, therefore overlapping with and duplicating the NATO mutual armed defence guarantee.
So we have this new body, it acquires international legal personality, power to make treaties in its own name, power in most practical fields to make treaties by qualified majority vote. It has in effect a head of state, a foreign minister, a diplomatic service. Then let us just turn briefly to some of the most important parts of what happens to its powers internally. I think the most important aspect of that is the expansion of its powers directly into the field of criminal law and justice, and again that is a very important internal attribute of the powers of the state. These powers become at present there are so-called "third pillar" powers in the field of criminal law and justice which are characterised as intergovernmental; they will become fully supranational and fully subject to the expansive rulings of the European Court of Justice. One particularly interesting point is that existing measures in the field which at the moment are intergovernmental, not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, will, after a five-year transitional period, be converted into measures which are fully subject to the jurisdictions of the European Court of Justice and of the Commission. So for example, existing measures like the framework decision on the European arrest warrant will become fully justiciable by that court.
There is a special provision here relating to the United Kingdom which is worth mentioning and this is buried in protocol number 10 on transitional provisions, Article 10, and it says: "At the latest six months before the expiry of the five-year transitional period, the United Kingdom may notify to the Council that it does not accept [with respect to the Acts referred to] the powers of the institutions referred to in paragraph 1 [and that is mainly the European Court of Justice]. In case the United Kingdom has made that notification, all Acts referred to in paragraph 1 shall have ceased to apply to the United Kingdom as from the date of expiry of the transitional period referred to."
So what this means is that this country will not have the option to continue, for example, to engage in police cooperation measures, European arrest warrants and so forth on the existing terms. We will be put to our election as to whether to bow out of those measures altogether or to get fully swallowed into them and subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
Our brilliant Government has negotiated also certain financial consequences of this. It says:
"The Council, acting by a qualified majority, on a proposal from the Commission, shall determine the necessary consequential and transitional arrangements. The United Kingdom shall not participate in the adoption of this decision. The Council, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, may adopt a decision determining that the United Kingdom shall bear the direct financial consequences, if any, necessarily and unavoidably incurred as a result of the cessation of participation in those Acts."
So if we do decide to pull out of these measures rather than accept the jurisdiction of the court, we will be required to pay for the privilege. In my view, cheap at the price!
However, more broadly, as you may have heard, the measures on criminal justice are subject to a protocol in favour of the United Kingdom, which is described variously as an opt-out or opt-in protocol, which does give us the choice, in theory at least, whether or not to participate in these measures. I think there are a number of problems with this. The first and main problem is that a government of one complexion will opt into these measures and it then becomes impossible for a future parliament, short of a more fundamental realignment of our relationship with the European Union, to pull out of them. An important example of this under the current opt in protocol is that the present government has most foolishly opted into a whole series of European Union measures on asylum policy which will make it impossible for a future Conservative government to effect any necessary changes to our asylum policy which will actually bring the asylum situation under control.
There are also a number of other very important provisions in the Treaty which I will mention only very briefly. One is the expansion of the scope of qualified majority voting powers to a number of new areas, for example, common energy policy, where it appears to be that we are giving the European Union a QMV power to seize our North Sea oil and divert it to the continent in the event that President Putin cuts off the supplies that they are so imprudently making themselves dependent upon. The QMV procedure will be made easier for measures to pass by a change in the formula after a transitional period.
The other very important point is the incorporation into law of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Article 6 says that this will have the same legal value as the founding treaties. It will have direct legal effect within the context of all European Union activities, which of course are extremely broad. There is amongst the red lines or red herrings a virtually incomprehensible protocol that has been negotiated in relation to the charter which as far as I can see has no effect on its application or scope or the way it will impact on our laws and the courts.
So finally, ladies and gentlemen, I think with that necessarily brief survey of what is in this monster of a treaty, one can see it is clearly on any view a constitutional treaty, it constitutes and founds a new body with new powers and it gives it the attributes of statehood in the external sphere that I have mentioned, powers over criminal law and justice, to add to what I can only regard as existing attributes of statehood, for example, the existing federal-type legal system that we have with a Supreme Court in the form of the European Court of Justice.
I tend to think that getting into arguments whether or not the body will be a state or a superstate, you can spend too much time arguing about the meaning of words and the meaning of the word "state", and I personally find it more helpful just to tick off the attributes of statehood and say, well, if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, perhaps in many ways it is a duck.
So thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
Speech by Christopher Booker
‘One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie’.
For ‘ring’ read ‘treaty’ and that is where it looks like game, set and match.
For more than 80 years, visionaries have been dreaming of the settting up of a supra-national government over Europe, one which would take over the power of nation states to rule themselves and replace them with a new form of government to rule them all.
It is more than 60 years since one of those visionaries dreamed of the day when, after this new edifice was more or less complete, they could unveil a Constitution for Europe which would be its ‘crowning glory’.
It is more than 50 years since some of those visionaries realised that the only way to build that edifice was stealthily, piece by piece, over many decades, without letting on where it was intended to end up.
But in 2001 the successors of those visionaries, now comprising the European Council, thought they had reached the point where they could finally come out into the open about it, and could summon a convention to draft the Constitution for Europe which was to be the crowning glory of the whole project.
The original idea, as dreamed of by Spinelli in his prison cell in 1941, was that, when the Constitution was unveiled, the peoples of Europe would greet it with acclamation as just what they all wanted.
But in reality, as we know, at least some of the peoples of Europe did nothing of the kind. And, as we remember, in that summer of 2005, this threw the gaggle of nonentities making up the European Council into a state of shocked bewilderment. It was simply not in the script that their Constitution should be rejected.
The whole point of the Constitution, as they had solemnly agreed at Laeken in 2001, was that it was being presented to the people of Europe as what they the people wanted. It was there to redress what even Europe’s leaders called the ‘democratic deficit’. And the one thing the democratic deficit was not meant to do was to turn round and bite them, with the message that the peoples of Europe would prefer to hang onto what remained of their existing democracies, thank you very much.
So Europe’s political leaders, those nonentities making up the European Council, went off into a huddle, indeed a whole succession of huddles, trying to work out what to do. They knew they had to have that Constitution which had been so unceremoniously rejected. They knew they could not possibly allow the peoples of Europe the chance to reject it again. So sometime last winter they came up with their brilliant plan.
They would bring back their Constitution almost exactly as before, but rearranged in a new way, to make it much less easy for an outsider to understand. And they would change its name to something different, less provocative.
Then they would simply come out with it again, saying there was no longer any need to consult the people. They would rush it through their parliaments and there they would be, happy as fleas, with the Constitution they had wanted all along.
There was just one little snag to their plan. They knew they would have to call it a treaty, and they knew that, under the rules, before you can have a treaty you have to have something called an intergovernmental conference, where all the sovereign national governments get round a table and negotiate the terms of that treaty.
But if they allowed that, then different governments might want to argue all over again about the contents of the treaty, and that they couldn’t possibly allow, since the whole point was to get that new version of the Constitution exactly as it had already been agreed by the European Council.
So, in for a penny, in for a pound, they came up with another brilliant idea. To satisfy the rules, they would put up a show of holding an intergovernmental conference. But they would then doing something quite unprecedented and certainly against the rules. The IGC would be strictly mandated by the European Council to come up with exactly the text the Council had already approved.
At this point, many of the heads of government making up the Council, realising that they had stitched the whole thing up so neatly that they were virtually home and dry, came out in the open and admitted that the old Constitution and the new treaty were pretty well identical. 90 percent the same? 96 percent? 98 percent? 99 percent? Who cares?
Only one prime minister, as we know, in his brooding, devious way, didn’t think he could dare admit that the two documents were in effect the same. He knew he was committed to grant a referendum on the Constitution, and that this was the solemn promise on which his party had been elected.
So if he admitted like the others that the new treaty was just the Constitution under another name, he would have great difficulty in explaining why he was going to break that promise, by refusing to hold a referendum he knew he would every chance of losing.
So he decided not only to break his promise but to tell a blatant lie into the bargain – perhaps the most brazen and shameless lie that any prime minister of this country has ever uttered.
His calculation was, and clearly remains, that the people of Britain didn’t ultimately care enough about this issue, or understand sufficiently what was at stake, for them to do anything but make a kind of token, half-hearted fuss about it. Some of the press would jump up and down. The Tories might make half-angry noises. But ultimately Mr Brown thought he could rely on his majority in Parliament, and that within a few months the whole thing would be done and dusted. Britain would have ratified the treaty, just like everyone else, and Europe would have its Constitution by any other name.
Now I don’t have to explain to you in this hall what the new treaty does for the way we are governed. It certainly doesn’t mark the absolute end of the road the European project has been travelling these past 50 years or more. But it is equally a further giant step towards the creation of that supra-national government for Europe which the project’s original handful of visionaries were dreaming of as long as the 1920s.
The one thing they hated, despised and feared more than anything else was the nation state, and the right of each national people to have a government of their own choice, ruling through national institutions as they had evolved in many cases over centuries. What they wanted was a wholly new form of government that was above all the nation states, with the power to rule them all.
And perhaps the cleverest thing they did was not to sweep the nation states and all their institutions away, but to leave them all standing – while gradually sucking away all their power to the new supra-national government that was being constructed above them. Parliaments, monarchies, presidencies, courts, all were still left in place, just as if nothing really had happened. But gradually they had been hollowed out from within. And by gradually drawing national politicians and civil servants into the great task of constructing the project behind the scenes, they could create their shadowy new supranational government without most people really having a clue what was going on.
I have often observed over the years that the people who enthusiastically support the European Union either don’t really know very much about it or are in some way making money out of it. To those I think we have to add all those politicians and officials who see it as in some way adding to their own sense of self-importance, as being part of the big show.
The point about this new treaty is that it really does formalise that new supranational form of government much more obviously and completely than ever before.
It is very important that, instead of that shambolic rotating presidency which gives each country in turn the semblance of being in temporary charge of things, Europe should now have a single President who can be in office for as long as five years, and who can pose as ‘President of Europe’ on the world stage, as a counterpart to the President of the United States or any other country.
It is important that, sitting next to him, should be Europe’s own foreign minister, even if for the moment he still has to be called the ‘High Representative’.
But there is one other very important change in this Constitution the significance of which few people seem to have appreciated, even though my friend Richard North and I have been rather forlornly banging on about it for months.
This is the change which is taking place in the status of that body known as the European Council.
Most people, even most politicians, let alone most of the media, are still amazingly hazy about the European Council, precisely what Is its purpose, its status, its role. It is of course made up of all the EU’s heads of government. It meets three or four times a year, and those meetings are still usually referred to by uncomprehending hacks as ‘summits’.
But even though it has come to play an extremely important and central role in the workings of the EU, the European Council is still not formally part of the EU’s structures. Although Mr Blair used to think that it was set up by the original Treaty of Rome in 1957, it only came into being in the 1970s, when it was first suggested, like almost everything else in the great project, by Jean Monnet.
Monnet’s idea was that the heads of government should hold regular, informal meetings to discuss how best the great task of Europe’s political integration could be moved forward. He himself called it ‘the provisional government of Europe’. It was on that basis that the European Council was set up in 1974, and it was on that basis that it has come to play an ever more important part in steering Europe towards its eventual destination as in effect a single country ruled by a single government.
But only now in the Reform Treaty is the Council finally admitted as a fully-fledged ‘Institution of the Union’, alongside the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers (a wholly different institution with which it is often confused). And this brings with it a significant change, not just in the Council’s status but in its nature and the role it is expected to play.
As members of a ‘Union institution’, those who make it up will be bound by a wholly new obligation. No longer will they attend meetings of the Council as heads of supposedly sovereign governments, representing the interests of their own people. Their primary duty, as set out in Article 9, will now be to promote the values, the objectives and the interests of the Union. And if you read through Article 3 of the treaty, setting out just what are those objectives of the Union, you will see that they are pretty well all-embracing, covering just about every aspect of government you could imagine. But these are the objectives of the Union which members of the Council will now be legally obliged to place ahead of any of the interests of their own peoples.
What this means is that when, say, Gordon Brown, goes off to Brussels for a meeting of the Council, he will no longer be doing so primarily to represent the interests of Great Britain, but as one of the 28 members of a body which is above all committed to putting the interests of the Union first.
By this change, the new government of Europe will not only have its own permanent president and foreign minister, it will in effect be given its own Cabinet. The prime ministers of Latvia and Greece and Malta and Finland will sit alongside our own prime minister as the Cabinet which decides the policies which are to rule our lives here in Britain and everywhere else.
We shall thus have a government which not only is not even nominally obliged to consider Britain’s interests, but one which we cannot in any way call to account and which we will no longer have any power or right to dismiss. We shall never be able to change it through a democratic election. We shall in effect be just a small part of a giant one-party state.
One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them. In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. Not quite what we all had in mind when Edward Heath assured us that going into the Common Market would in no essential way effect our sovereignty.
So what hope is there? Is there any glimmering of a chance that we can halt this final step into a one-party state which has already shown itself to be stupendously incompetent, corrupt, dishonest and quasi-totalitarian in everything it does?
There is perhaps just one very faint glimmer of hope and in the short term it is really the only one open to us. Mr Brown may be right in thinking that he can railroad this treaty through Parliament. But even Mr Brown, as the events of recent weeks have made obvious, is not going to be our prime minister forever. And however much many of us may have been dismayed by the performance of Mr Cameron and his party since he and his friends took it over, we are picking up indications that there may just be a stiffening of the Tory position on this treaty: a readiness at least to discuss behind the scenes the possibility of going to the country at the next election on a promise of some form of renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union.
All this may seem very far-fetched, but even at the top of the Tory Party there has recently been a shocked realisation of just how much of our power to govern ourselves we have already given away: not least on the issue of deciding who has the right to enter and live and work in our country.
We have certainly given away far more of the power to decide how Britain is run than most people realise, but with this new treaty it really is game, set and match. There may be little to stop us having the treaty imposed on us by a prime minister who is prepared both to break his word and to lie to us to get what he wants. So our hopes, fragile though they are, must now centre on the possibility that one day, perhaps not all that far off, we might just have a government for which this treaty was the wake-up call that it was the bridge too far.
If that is not the case, however, then let us be in no doubt as to the reality of the situation we shall be faced with. Like all the other peoples of Europe, we shall have become the victims of an immense, slow-motion coup d’etat. A coup d’etat brought off by a political class which holds both the idea of democracy and us, the peoples of Europe, in total contempt. We have rarely seen this more clearly expressed than in the reported comment this week of Nicolas Sarkozy, the new President of France, that there is no way in which the peoples of Europe should be allowed to give their views on the treaty through the ballot box. Such matters are simply not for the people to decide.
But if that observation reflects the contempt in which our new rulers hold us the people, then we must remember that contempt very often works both ways, If there is one thing about our contemporary Europe which is as obvious as the contempt in which we are now held by those who govern us, it is that the contempt is reciprocal. Never in history can the politicians and officials who make up the political class have commanded more universal distrust and scorn than today, as we see reflected in the ever dwindling turnout at elections and in the comments one hears on every side from people for whom politics and politicians have become words as dirty as any in the language. Even our ruling class in Brussels have long noticed what they call in their lofty way ‘the democratic deficit’, even if they have not the slightest idea how to do anything to remedy it.
But if the rulers and the ruled in any society get that far apart, as history shows, if both sides to a broken contract hold each other in equal contempt, if one side possesses the power and is only too ready to use it, while the other feels increasingly powerless to effect any change, then we have something building up which is potentially very dangerous. The pressure in the vessel is steadily increasing, while its lid is being screwed down tighter and tighter. The only way such a story can eventually end is in a very nasty and messy explosion.
Take away from people any right to control their own destiny, and eventually they will take their destiny back into their own hands. That is the stark reality of what we are confronted by today. Unless something gives, there will eventually be no alternative but a very nasty disintegration. And so long as Britain remains part of this crazed, self-deceiving enterprise, we shall be caught up in that mess just as surely as everyone else.
Speech by Ruth Lea
Delighted to be here to address the issue of Decision time: reform, renegotiation or withdrawal: how should Britain resolve the EU question?
But before I answer this question I would like to spend the time telling you about Global Vision’s approach to a new relationship for the UK with the EU to put our campaign group into context. And then why we believe we should renegotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and mutual cooperation, whilst opting out of political and economic union.
Of course, much of the current debate on the EU surrounds the demand for a referendum on the Reform Treaty. But we must not ignore what I regard as the necessary debate on the right relationship of the UK with the EU in the rapidly changing and difficult global economy of the 21st century. We must look beyond this. Global Vision does this.
Global Vision: the economics
But firstly could mention the economic background. In the 1960s and 1970s:
Britain was the “sick man of Europe”.
Europe was economically out-performing us.
China & India were sleeping giants.
International tariffs were high.
Taken together there was a very good case for joining the EEC. And I personally supported it at the time.
The economic realities in the 21st century couldn’t be more different:
British economy was transformed under PM Thatcher.
The world economy is changing. According to Treasury figures the EU’s share of world GDP is falling, whilst the share of China and India (taken together) is rising
And the EEC has changed. It is now the European Union and the Reform Treaty will effectively fill in the “gaps”, providing the EU institutions with all the powers they need to build a true United States of Europe – or as Michael Ancram has put it “a country called Europe”.
Some of the more troubling economic & business aspects of EU membership are:
The cost of EU regulations, introduced through the Single Market legislation, is now damaging competitiveness throughout the EU including the UK. According to the European Commission (Gunther Verheugen) EU legislation costs European business €600bn a year whilst the benefits of the Single Market are about €225bn a year (according to the Treasury). These costs are set to rise as the EU continues to legislate for increasing social market protection. At the same time existing UK opt-outs – for example on full application of the working time directive – are being progressively eroded.
Specifically, there is concern about the Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP). The FSAP is monumental and comprehensive, comprising 42 detailed measures. According to an estimate by Open Europe, the Plan could cost the British economy at least £14bn to implement by 2010. But, shockingly, there has been no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to enlighten us about its potential benefits. It therefore, comes as no surprise that many financial businesses, especially small ones with no cross-border trade, regard the FSAP measures as dead-weight costs. Indeed, and more generally, the regulatory costs will bear disproportionately on small, niche businesses that rely on fleet-footed innovation to thrive rather than on the large businesses that have the necessary bureaucracy to handle the compliance procedures. But, whether large or small, regulation is costly and undermines international competitiveness.
Of more specific concern are the discussions for an EU-wide financial regulator. Politics would probably dictate it would not be in London – despite London’s pre-eminence as an international centre.
Protectionism: CAP, as well as creating costly national distortions, also does damage to the trade opportunities of the developing world and acts as a barrier to new trade negotiations. The EU is protectionist in other ways and this damages developing countries and disadvantages their poorer citizens. “Bra wars” and “shoe wars” were blatantly protectionist.
The UK’s ability to develop closer trading relationships with those markets which are or could be particularly important to the UK - including The US, Canada, Australia and India (to a lesser extent) - is blocked by its membership of the EU’s Customs Union, many of whom have different geographic priorities.
The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is rising. This drains money from the Treasury that could be spent on schools and hospitals (or cutting taxes) and generally enabling British people to live more prosperous lives. The UK's net contributions to the EU Budget are expected to average almost £6½ bn for the years 2011-2013 – double the average of the decade from 1997 to 2006, which averaged £3¼ bn. Gross contributions are set to rise from £9bn (2007) to about £14bn over the next few years (up to the end of the current 6-year period 2013). And yet the Court of Auditors has not signed off the EU’s accounts for 13th successive years because of endemic waste and presumed fraud.
All these factors matter to Britain as a major trading country (3rd largest in current account terms) and Britain’s competitiveness. They matter to Britain’s future. High cost, inflexibly & heavily regulated & protectionist economies will not be the economies that will flourish in the 21st century. Yet this is what membership of the EU’s political & economic union will increasingly mean.
Global Vision: reform, renegotiation or withdrawal?
Reform the EU? Some people believe that the EU can be reformed into the sort of EU we would like to see. Attractive though this is, I don’t believe it’s on offer. We’ve been trying to reform the EU every since we joined it and our influence has been modest.
Instead Britain must surely renegotiate a new, more modern, looser relationship based on trade & mutually agreeable & beneficial cooperation, whilst opting out of political & economic union. The EU is an old-fashioned, narrowly regional mid 20th century political construct. But the 21st century is, and will be, about global cooperation and links. Britain, with its global outlook & unique connections is ideally suited to thrive in the 21st century – provided it has the freedom and flexibility to make the appropriate decisions. We believe that this is the right thing, the desirable thing, to do for the country.
Our vision is also popular. Our polling shows that this model for Britain is not an extreme view – it is the mainstream, popular view. We have done 4 polls asking people their preferred relationship with the EU:
Continue as a full member of the EU, participating in further integration.
Negotiate a looser relationship based on trade & cooperation, whilst opting out political & economic integration – a “Third Way” “Swiss-style” relationship.
The “Third Way”, a “looser relationship”, has been the preferred option on all occasions. People don’t want to be ruled by Brussels, but neither do they want to walk away from Europe. The latest poll, for example, shows ¼ wanted to stay in, ¼ wanted to withdraw and ½ wanted to negotiate a new relationship based on trade. It’s what the people want.
Also note the ConservativeHome poll results of Conservative grassroots supporters.
When asked: “If the Treaty is ratified, would you support a referendum that mandated the incoming Conservative government to renegotiate back to the idea of a free trade area?”
So our approach is desirable for Britain and popular. The critical questions are not, therefore, about the popularity of this desired outcome. They are about its legal and negotiating feasibility.
Renegotiation: legal & negotiating feasibility
Britain’s current membership of the European Union is defined by a series of international treaties between the member states, agreed by unanimity. The new relationship would require the UK’s adherence to those Treaties to be replaced by a new agreement between the UK and the other member states. A key feature of this new relationship would be that the UK would retain the basic freedom to trade with the existing EU member states (and vice versa) but would no longer be subject to the EU’s law-making apparatus or Court system.
Of course it would still be necessary for businesses which sell goods or services into the EU internal market to comply with EU rules and standards, in the same way as businesses have to comply with US standards if they want to export there. But it would no longer be necessary for us to comply with EU requirements when goods or services are supplied within the UK, or on export sales to third countries.
The current agreement between Switzerland and the EU provides one existing, workable model. Switzerland has had free trade for industrial goods with the EU since 1972, and has an extensive list of bilateral agreements with the EU which give it effective access to the EU internal market, and yet is not a member of the EU – or indeed the Single Market.
It is clear that there are no legal barriers to Britain’s changing the terms of the relationship with the EU at all. It is perfectly feasible legally speaking.
But what of its negotiating feasibility? Would our EU partners allow us the “benefit” of free trade with the EU without paying the “price” of full involvement in the political union?
There is the fear that other EU member states would set up protectionist trade barriers with lost trade and lost jobs resulting. But this is most unlikely to happen:
Firstly, any discriminatory tariffs are against the rules of the WTO.
Secondly & more importantly, the other members of the EU (in aggregate) have a large trade surplus with us. (In 2006 the UK deficit in goods & services with other EU countries was £38bn.) So it will be very much in their interests to be part of an arrangement that maintains free trade with the UK. Germany’s car manufacturers would be distressed not to be able to sell their cars here – as would France’s wine growers.
This is the reassurance many people need. People need this reassurance. It is, after all, often said 3m British jobs depend on our exports to the EU. If true, then it must be obvious then many more (20%) jobs in other EU countries depend on exports to the UK. Under no circumstances will the other EU countries block trade – it’s not in their interests.
Political: twin frictions
Our solution not just right for the UK, but I would argue it’s right for the EU. There is no doubt there are persistent frictions and divisions within the EU. I believe these frictions, basically 2, are irreconcilable given the current structure and membership of the EU.
Firstly, there is the friction between those member states, including the all-important Franco-German axis, that wish to push ahead with further political integration and those, including the UK, which do not. No country, least of all Britain with its very different outlook and history, should stand in the way of the federalist ambitions of key, founding member states. I’ve heard many complaints about Britain’s perceived lack of “Communautaire” spirit and our reluctance to go along with the European integrationist project. There is genuine frustration. The negotiations at the Summit about Britain’s “red lines” (even though they were mainly red herrings & distractions vamped up for a domestic audience) and Britain’s refusal to adopt the euro just reminds our Continental partners that we will never be happy members of “the ever closer union among the people’s of Europe” (as expressed in the Rome Treaty).
In 27 June Valery Giscard d’Estaing, grand architect of the Constitutional Treaty, said on French radio that “integration is vital for our Continent. And if the UK doesn’t continue with us in this process of integration, conclusions must be drawn.” “Which conclusions?” asked the interviewer - to which Giscard replied “we must find a ‘special status’ for Great Britain. If the British want to be apart, well, then we must be able to offer them that, and they must be able to accept.”
Moreover, Giscard d’Estaing inserted a “voluntary withdrawal” clause into the Constitution (which is also in the Reform Treaty) with the UK specifically in mind. He and many other top EU politicians would not be outraged if Britain declared its wish for a looser relationship. On the contrary they would be relieved. The friction between Britain and the rest of the EU, that has bedevilled relationships since the UK joined, would be resolved.
May I also quote Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker who recently suggested that EU member states should have the possibility to become just part members of the bloc. He said that:
“It must be possible not only to be a full member…Without noticing it, the British are on their way to becoming part members.” The UK is not taking part in the single currency, or the EU’s borderless state [Schengen area], or opting out of [strictly voluntarily opting in to] the current 3rd pillar - Police & Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters”.
In addition, there is the matter of the Eurozone. Historically, currencies have only survived and thrived when they are backed by political and economic union. It may be that the euro will prove to be an exception. But a euro backed by political union surely has a better prognosis than one that is not. And we cannot deny the tensions that are building up in the eurozone now.
Secondly, there is the increasingly sensitive issue of further enlargement. “Enlargement fatigue” has set in following the extraordinary enlargements from EU15 (in 2004) to EU27 (now). And membership for Turkey (especially) and certain Western Balkan states (excluding, arguably, Croatia which has been “grandfathered in”) raises seemingly insuperable political obstacles. It is quite clear that the French will not accept Turkey as a member state. Chirac altered the French Constitution so that any EU enlargement beyond Croatia would be subjected to a referendum.
If the UK were to negotiate a new, looser, relationship with the EU this could set a precedent for aspirant, or even existing, EU members. Even though it seems highly unlikely that Turkey will be permitted to be a full member of the EU, there are many reasons for wishing to anchor Turkey within a wider “European family”. The concept of “privileged partnership” has been suggested to, but rejected by, Turkey. If the UK had a similar “privileged partnership” then surely the whole tone of the debate would change. And it could be that some other new members (eg Czech Republic, Poland) also choose the same route.
In that way the UK’s move to negotiate a new relationship could be the catalyst to a much wider reform of the whole EU.
The way forward for the 21st century: reconfigured Europe
We need to think forward. There is a debate on the Continent about the need to “reconfigure” Europe so that disparate ambitions can be accommodated and a more flexible Europe can be built. Britain, as one of Europe’s largest and most important countries, and as the most vocal critic of and reluctant participant in the European integrationist project, is absolutely central to this. Its significance cannot be exaggerated.
The obvious way forward is for us to respond positively to Giscard’s suggestion – take up his challenge - and start planning negotiations for a “special status” for Britain. The “special status” should be based on trade and cooperation, whilst opting out of political and economic union. If we went down this route, it would address the unhappiness in this country about the integrationist direction of the EU whilst constructively responding to Giscard’s challenge.
This “reconfigured”, flexible Europe will surely be a more resilient model for the changing 21st century than the current 20th century one with all its frictions and inflexibilities.
What is required is the political will to negotiate by both the British Government and our EU partners. Any British politician should feel emboldened by consistent polling which shows that the British people want our new relationship. The people are there already. The politicians should follow. And if Britain were to pursue a new relationship with the EU, I believe that many European politicians would welcome the opportunity for positive and fruitful discussions.
Speech by John Redwood MP
Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to follow an elegant reconstruction of the pitfalls and dangers of the constitution, which this Government wishes to foist upon us claiming as it does that the constitution has been abolished and that the resulting Treaty, which looks remarkably like it, is something completely different because there are a few different introductory words at the beginning of the document.
I asked myself this morning, why do 100 of us give up our Saturday morning to sit in a university hall to talk about something which many outside deride as abstruse or technical. And for my part I give up my morning to do this because I think our democracy is in danger, I think our country is under threat and I suspect that’s why many of you are here today. You know that this is a much bigger issue than a series of legal wrangles over red lines and marginal transfers of powers. This is about a process ladies and gentleman which has been going on for more than 30 years. This is about something which many in the political classes have failed to tell the British public about in an upfront and honest way and we are deeply resentful of the way our right to govern ourselves through our elected representatives is slowly but surely being whittled away. We do not wish to live in a world where all our laws or most of our laws come from an unaccountable and unelected bureaucracy on the continent. We do not wish to live in a world where if we don’t like the way we are being governed we cannot throw the people out in a fair election and have something better. We do not like a world in which our constitution has been rewritten piece by piece without anybody explaining just how fundamental the rewrite has been.
I’m here because I did sit around the ministerial table in Brussels for some 20 ministerial meetings when I was a Minister in the United Kingdom Government. I said so at the time and I say so again, I think the way we conducted our business was a disgrace to democracy. We met in private, we met with no opposition charged with the duty of exposing the errors in the drafts before us, we met with no opposition charged with asking the fundamental question, is your new law or directive strictly necessary. We met in private under the pressure of arbitrary deadlines invented by the senior officials in the organisation. We met in private where many of my colleagues on the continent fell for the idea that if we did not reach an agreement it was bad news for the Union and therefore they were under some kind of duty to reach an agreement.
That has happened over countless hundreds and now thousands of laws which have a daily impact on commercial life and to some extent on individual and family life across our country. There are now thousands of laws which I and my colleagues in the House of Commons cannot correct, amend or repeal unless we can get the consent through our Government of many other Governments on the continent of Europe to a rewrite of the European regulation. And when ladies and gentlemen did Brussels last offer a lot of directives and regulations for repeal, which is what we so desperately need to have a freer and more enterprising society again.
So we meet today because that very system which is letting us down in big fields of social and economic and business regulation is now threatening to take over our criminal justice system, our foreign policy and many of the other major matters which have traditionally been the preserve of Parliament to decide and for the people to judge in general elections and through the medium of public opinion.
Worse still, when we had a general election in 2005, I and many people like me in my party and one or two other smaller parties wanted to make the issue of the constitution an important issue in that general election. So what did the Government of the day and the Liberal Democrats do? They immediately promised a referendum on the constitution so that we could no longer reasonably carry on with a strong argument about it in the general election. Those of us who tried were understandably told you’ll get your three weeks in court on the constitution; there will be a proper democratic referendum campaign so this is not relevant today. The press swallowed it, many of the public swallowed it – unfortunately it was a lie ladies and gentlemen.
That is why we here are angry, but it is why we have a massive job of work to do because there are but 100 of us here this morning and there are but few when it comes to the meetings or the rallies that we need to explain to our Government, who seem to be deaf to our pleas and treaties, that they are abusing our country and they must honour their promise and give us that referendum.
So we have to ask ourselves today, why is it that many of us here can see the dangers and many of us here feel it is right that the Government honours its pledge on a referendum yet we cannot carry that argument in the country. Well there’s good news, the poling tells us that around eight out of ten of our fellow citizens think that the Government should honour its promise to hold a referendum. They like us, if asked, feel cheated and I suspect around eight out of ten of the public, if asked in a referendum would agree with us, that the large extra powers to be transferred under this constitutional treaty are unacceptable to be transferred. At best they would think the case was not proven for the European Union to have more power, at worst in terms of the Euro-Federalist view many would think it was quite inappropriate for the European Union to have any powers at all and will wish to express that in the ballot box.
So our task is not to persuade a sceptical people about the justness of our cause, our task is to persuade a sceptical people that there is some way for the majority in this country to get its view heard and accepted. And here lies the tragedy of our parliamentary democracy. I am a strong believer in parliamentary democracy, I’ve dedicated my adult life to our parliamentary democracy; I believe Parliament needs people of a wide range of views capable of making a case, that it needs a strong democratic argument and clash to put before the British people.
The truth is that in the last ten years Parliament has let the British people down on the issue of Europe because Parliament has a very strong majority of Euro-Federalists in it who do not wish to debate this matter and who wish to continue to transfer powers on the sly or on the quiet because they have the votes in Parliament to do so. They know they do not have the votes in the country to do so, which is why they have avoided and ducked any suggestion of a real referendum and why they have always avoided having arguments about Europe prominently displayed in a general election campaign.
We were promised a referendum on the currency. I like to think that my resignation from Major’s Government over the issue of keeping the pound was one of the factors that pushed all major parties into offering that pledge of a referendum. That has worked because no political party believes they’d have a prayer of winning a referendum to destroy the pound and so fortunately they’ve kept their word and we are safe from losing our currency. We thought we were equally safe when we got all the major parties led by the Conservatives willingly to promise a referendum on the constitution but realising that they could not win it they have simply torn up the promise and said they would do it by Parliamentary means.
I think the main reason the public is not on the streets with us is they are fatalistic about this. They believe that the very strong inbuilt parliamentary majority of the Euro-Federalists, the natural majority Labour have of some 70 plus the 60 odd Liberal Democrats means that there is absolutely no chance of Parliament voting this out and there is very little chance of Parliament voting for a referendum. And whilst people therefore are sympathetic to us when we go to them, they are not mobilised because they do not yet believe it is a cause they can win.
I hope you will agree with me that in the weeks remaining as this matter becomes before Parliament, we need to maximise the pressure on all Members of Parliament not pledged to vote for a referendum to try to get them to vote for a referendum. It has to be done by Parliamentary means so be it, but Parliament also has to interact with the British public and it will require a vigorous letter writing campaign to the media and to the Members of Parliament concerned, it will require talking to neighbours, it will require trying to mobilise all your network of friends and contacts so that they write as well because if we could target all of those MPs who promised a referendum but will not vote for one, there is just a chance that we could get some action out of them.
It is particularly helpful that the Labour Party is behind the Conservative Party in the public opinion polls at the moment and it is extremely helpful that the Liberal Democrats are low in the polls because there is nothing like being low in the polls to worry MPs in marginal seats that they might lose their wonderful jobs in a year or two’s time. Nothing concentrates the mind better for a Member of Parliament than thinking they may lose access to all those privileges which they exercise, we trust wisely, in the interests of their electors.
So in that happy position keep telling the pollsters you are going to vote Conservative because it will increase the pressure on Labour to offer you a referendum and get all your friends and neighbours and others to write to those Labour and Liberal MPs who are planning to rat on their promise. We could then have a chance of forcing the change in Parliament that we desperately need.
Many of you I think wish to get into discussions about what happens if none of this works. Well that is very important, I have lots of ideas and I’ve set them all out in writing on many occasions. They’re on my website, johnredwood.com if you want to know, they’re in my books if you want to go to a good library, I’m sure you don’t want to buy them but by all means go to a good library. I’m not trying to make money out of them; I’m trying to get the message across that there is a lot at risk. But I do believe my Party is right that we need to concentrate all our efforts now on trying to get this referendum. That is what could save the day because I trust the British people on this issue so much more than I trust their elected representatives.
I am heartily sick of the Eurosceptic movement spending all its time arguing with each other and setting up ever smaller splinter groups and smaller parties in the search for the true faith, when the real enemy is that great army of Federalist MPs that I see every day to my left on the Liberal benches and across the Chamber on the Labour benches. And if we are unable to concentrate our fire and to unite around a sensible proposition, then I’m afraid we will lose. The thing to do today and for the next few weeks is to unite and fight around the Conservative proposition in the House of Commons that there must be a referendum on this constitutional treaty. You start with all the Conservative votes on your side. The task is to tip another 100 or so onto our side so that we could win the vote and that is a good democratic challenge to us all. If we are not up to doing that then I am afraid we’re not a strong and effective movement and it would be a disgrace if we cannot unite to try to do that when we know that 80% of the public are on our side on both the issue of the referendum and the wish to get rid of the constitution.
Ladies and gentlemen, as a very, very young man about the first vote I cast was in a referendum on the European Economic Community as it was then called and it is quite a sobering thought isn’t it that there has been this massive and continuing transfer of power over some 30 years on which nobody under the age of 50 has been able to cast a vote. Under this Government we’ve been offered referenda on whether relatively small cities should have mayors, we’ve been offered referenda on whether we need regional government, which of course the Government then ignored when the public got the answer wrong but we did get a referendum on it and yet we have never been given a referendum on the big transfer of power at Nice, the big transfer of power at Amsterdam and now the big transfer of power in the European Constitution.
I voted no in 1975 and I hope all you can say the same that were around in those days but perhaps you can’t, and I voted no for two fundamental reasons. The first reason I voted no was because I didn’t buy the economics that were presented to me. I was told that this would be good for jobs and economics in Britain and yet when I looked at the figures and the rules of the road I saw that they planned free trade in industrial products where my country was weak and they didn’t offer free trade in service areas where my country was relatively strong. I thought it was bound to mean a big balance of payments deficit and so it did.
I voted no because I looked at the rules over how much we had to contribute and how much we got back and I realised it was a rotten deal for Britain. Margaret Thatcher did quite a bit to improve that but I’m now very sorry to announce to you, as I’m sure you know, that Blair and Brown have thrown that away with knobs on and we’re now going to have a much worse deal on the budget settlement.
My second main reason for voting no, because reading the Treaty of Rome it was clear even in that founding treaty that this was not about a common market primarily, it was about a process to transfer ever more powers from democratic self government in the Member States to bureaucratic government in Brussels and Strasbourg. It was there in the words of the founding treaty, ever closer union and as you read, as one or two of us did, that opaque prose and realised just how detailed and unpleasant this control was going to be in area after area as they captured it, I couldn’t bring myself to vote yes.
Many of my fellow countrymen and women voted yes for a Common Market, they voted yes for free trade, they voted yes for friendship with our continental friends and neighbours, they voted yes for cooperation and some cooperative legislation on cross-border issues. I vote yes to all those things too, it just so happens I don’t think that was the truthful package on offer at the time and the main politicians of the day with one or two honourable exceptions misled us over that and succeeded in winning that vote.
I don’t believe the British people would fall for misleading information like that again, which is why I think we have to trust the British people to settle this issue once and for all. And I think the beginning for that is to have a vote on this constitution, which will be a vote not just about the constitutional treaty but about whether we want to carry on this journey to political control on a comprehensive scale by a Brussels bureaucracy or whether we want to be part of a free market, friendly with the neighbours but not being governed from Brussels.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know where I stand. I think I know where you stand. We need many more friends and supporters who are prepared not just to tell a pollster they think we’re right but are prepared to do something to make it come true. To get our parliamentary democracy to sort this out, we need to unite immediately to put pressure on MPs who want to break their word and at a future general election we need to unite to make sure we do not end up again with a Parliament which has a majority of Federalists in it.
I’m afraid I have to leave you quite shortly because I have constituency duties but you have been a lovely audience and I hope my words make some sense.
Speech by Dr Anthony Coughlan
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I’m very honoured to have the opportunity of speaking at this meeting of British democrats. I think our Chairman perhaps exaggerated a little when he said that our group defeated the first Nice Referendum. We certainly played a part by providing argumentation to the very wide range of groups who were opposed to that illegally accurate information and played a quasi coordinating role in that respect.
I’ve had personally a long interest in the European issue and I’ve been opposed to this process of European integration on democratic and internationalist grounds for nearly 40 years or so. I remember speaking way back in the British Referendum in 1975 at a meeting in the Beaver Hall, I think its in East London, with the late Peter Shaw on one side and Sir Richard Body on the other, who was then in Parliament. So I’ve had a long interest and I’ve spoken to the Bruges Group before.
The Prime Ministers who have agreed this Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon as I think it would probably be known decided that they would do everything to avoid a referendum in their own countries. Your own Prime Minister has given that commitment to his fellows and he puts them first before any promises that have been made to the British people. But they can’t avoid it in Ireland and that’s accepted. There’s a possibility there might be one in Denmark, but I understand from my Danish friends that politically it won’t happen, there’s not enough political support for it from the Danish Parliament. There might be a possibility of a court case that might, if successful, force a referendum in Denmark, illegally challenge, though one can’t be sure what that referendum might be about, it might be on the Danish opt outs.
So there will be a referendum in the Republic of Ireland because of the character of the Irish Constitution. The Republic of Ireland has a written Constitution adopted in 1937, it was adopted by popular referendum and any amendments to it must be by popular referendum. There have been numerous amendments over the years in all sorts of connections.
In 1986/7, when the Irish State wanted to ratify the Single European Act, the Irish Government passed the bill through the Parliament, the Dail, approving that Treaty and ratifying it as it thought but then a citizen, the late Raymond Crotty an economist, challenged that. I can claim considerable credit for that myself if I may say so because I had been thinking of offering myself as a challenger and then asked Raymond Crotty would he take on the job and he did and he was a better plaintiff than I would have proved I think. But Crotty said that if this Treaty, which gives a lot more powers to the European community as it was then, the single market arose from the Single European Act, it went through his rights as a citizen to decide the laws of Ireland etc, would be significantly diminished and once they went into Brussels they couldn’t be brought back.
And he got an injunction stopping the Irish State from ratifying the Treaty – all other European community states at the time had ratified it. And then there was a trial of that action and party’s contention and the Irish Supreme Court eventually said yes, there is a surrender of sovereignty, there is a surrender of judicial, executive and legislative power to the European institutions in new areas, which can only be approved by the people themselves because they are the repositories of sovereignty.
And that is why we have successive referendums in the Republic of Ireland on European treaties and the Government knows well that if it attempted to ratify this Treaty by parliamentary majority vote, as is intended in all the other countries including here, that some other modern citizen so to speak would go into the Supreme Court and say this is a surrender of sovereignty, it can’t be done except by referendum. So that’s why we’ll have a referendum in the Republic of Ireland.
When? Nobody can be entirely sure. I think the Irish Government will probably wait until it’s assured that this Lisbon Treaty or whatever it’s called will go through the House of Commons and House of Lords. I hope and people all over Europe hope that that will not happen, that you will be able to stop it and there are possibilities of stopping it if this revolt against this failure to keep these manifesto promises succeeds. But if it does go through the Irish Government will then decide I think to have a referendum probably in May or June, most likely in May I would think. So that’s the most likely date of an Irish referendum.
I wouldn’t rely with any confidence on the electorate of voters of the Republic of Ireland stopping this Treaty. On the other hand I don’t think you can say in advance that it will go through automatically or anything like that. It’s an open question and will remain an open question for quite some time.
There’s been growing concern in the Republic of Ireland about the EU becoming more centralised, getting more power, more remote from people and more under the dominance of the bigger states, particularly France and Germany. That has been reflected in increased vote in successive referendums and in the first Nice Treaty Referendum on a fairly low turnout of voters they actually said no, the majority. Then they re-ran the referendum, changed the rules and changed various other things, but not changing the Treaty of course and pushed it through.
So the Irish people remember that and a public opinion poll was held about two weeks ago organised by a principle Europhile newspaper, which is a missionary for this project, the Irish Times, showing that there had been a decline in the support for the idea of an EU Constitution compared with two years ago when the previous Constitution Treaty was being discussed, an increase in the potential ‘no’s’. But 60% of that poll didn’t have any view or didn’t know. There has been of course no significant debate on this Constitution in the Republic of Ireland, so its understandable a lot of people didn’t know, but the Irish Times had an anguished editorial about this very high proportion of ‘don’t knows’ and said there’s going to be significant challenge to the Irish political parties. All the main parties are quite unified and will support this Treaty and so that’s the general background.
Then we’ve a diverse range of groups on left, right and centre who will be opposed to it, but from my own perspective I think its very important that the Irish voters are confronted with the real issue, which is not so much what’s in this Treaty, though there’s an awful lot of bad things in it and it significantly hugely reduces democracy of course, but Irish voters will in effect be asked by their political elites to rubber stamp a Treaty, which will impose all sorts of changes on the 27 member states of the European Community, the European Union in which the latter have been given no opportunity to have their voice heard. They have been denied democracy, there is a clear project by the elites all over Western Europe and Central Europe to deny referendums in their respective countries and what the people of the Republic of Ireland are being asked to do is to overthrow of course the French and Dutch no votes of 2005.
And I think that message is very important. Most people in Ireland as elsewhere won’t be very familiar with the content of this Treaty. I don’t think their votes will be made up by what’s in it so much as possibly they can be appealed to on these democratic grounds, not to rubber stamp the imposition on their fellow Europeans of this undemocratic Treaty at the behest of the political elite of either the Republic of Ireland or the other EU states. I think that message might have the potential of getting through to a lot of ‘don’t know’ voters, the 60% who seemingly don’t know at the moment or don’t have any view and the large numbers who normally abstain in Irish referendums. Even the second Nice Referendum of 2002, in which there was a gigantic effort by the political elite to get out the vote only 49% of the Irish voters voted in that referendum, so 51% actually didn’t vote at all. So Irish voters have been declining in enthusiasm for the EU, that decline in enthusiasm has not been shown by a big increase in no votes but by abstention and not bothering or staying at home or we don’t understand or it’s a confounded bore or whatever. But I think the potential of purely on grounds of European solidarity with people elsewhere in the continent and in Britain who are being denied referendums and don’t you rubber stamp that project or support. I think that message might have the potential of getting through to a lot of people and I think that would be one of the main themes that myself and my colleagues will be plugging in this referendum.
And it would help also to counter what will be probably the principle argument of the Irish Government because the Irish Government will be saying and the other proponents of the Treaty in the Irish Referendum they will be saying, well if you vote no you’ll be isolated, you’ll be on a lonely rock in the Atlantic, nobody will ever talk to you again, all hell will break lose, you’ll be denied EU money in future etc etc. There’s an attempt to scare people on the grounds of isolation. That might well be got over I think by appeals from abroad, from our British friends, our continental friends, from France, from Holland, from elsewhere to stand by their fellow Europeans and stand for democracy and not be used as a rubber stamp. So that’s basically what I’d like to say about the Irish Referendum.
Just a few points about the more general issue of the character of this Treaty, which was elaborated on in detail by Martin Howe this morning and by Christopher just before I spoke; I mean there is absolutely no doubt that this is a constitution revolution. I remember the first Coal and Steel Community of 1950 and May 9, 1950, you had the Schuman declaration, which was generally seen as the beginning of the European project and in that was a statement, this is the first step in the federation of Europe. So this goal of a European federation, this notion of a federation has been there from the beginning. It was in the original Schuman declaration which is commemorated every year in so called Europe Day, a day that was to be made the quasi national day for the whole union in the constitutional treaty that was rejected by the French and Dutch.
And then this is the constitution of Europe as Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgium Prime Minister said two years ago, this is the keystone of the United States of Europe, the constitution which this new Treaty is of course, slightly revamped and presented in a new form from the Treaty of two years ago. So the federal project has been there from the beginning and while from inside the EU seems to be a creature of treaties, from outside it assumes more and more the form of a state. It’s got so many of the features of a state, it’s very hard to think of the one that hasn’t. The main one that strikes me is it hasn’t yet the power to force all its states to go to war against their will but it can’t prevent sub-groups going to war and has powers of taxation of course although they have to be unanimous and it will acquire more and more of the features of a state and that’s been there from the beginning, a state very much under the dominance of France and Germany.
As Christopher described in his book of course, the whole project is extremely complex, there’s the economic side, there’s the political side, there’s the bureaucratic and personal powers side, but there’s absolutely no doubt that politically in post-war Europe all the continental states were conquered, defeated and occupied during World War II. Britain wasn’t of course and Ireland was outside the war but the continent, they were all occupied, defeated and conquered. They had been empires, you had the French Empire, the German Empire, the Italian Empire and they had colonial possessions in Africa, Belgium and Holland and so on and so forth. And they were conquered and defeated.
To their ruling elite, to their foreign ministries, particularly in the post-war world which was dominated by the two super powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, they couldn’t allow them to be big powers on their own individually so they decided the only way we can retain big powerdom is by being a big power collectively. And that of course was ideal for Germany and West Germany which at that time was divided and partitioned and identified itself with this EU project. But the French and German elite as you know have more or less run the show since and since Germany has been reunited they have very much been flexing their political muscles and it was Chancellor Angela Merkel who has coordinated the effort to revive this Treaty and has cracked the whip more or less for all the others. And of course under the new voting system, which is going to be based primarily on population, Germany will have the biggest block of votes and the biggest block of seats in the European Parliament.
But as Martin Howe said this morning, it’s a legal revolution because the existing European Union is going out of being and the legally new European Union is going to be established. The first sentence of the first article in the original Constitution of Europe, which the French and Dutch rejected was, this Constitution establishes the European Union. That made quite clear this is going to be a legally new Constitution, a new European Union. In the new Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty they’re going to have a phrase, the European Union is founded on the two Treaties which are being amended but it comes to the same thing and a leading new European Union is being established for the first time. What we know as the European Union today does not have legal personality, it is not a corporate entity; it’s a descriptive term for all the forms of cooperation with its member states. There is the community with the super national cooperation and EU community law and there are the intergovernmental areas of crime and justice and foreign affairs and so on and the term ‘European Union’ is given to the whole caboodle, the forms of cooperation within the member states. But it doesn’t have legal personality, a corporate existence in its own right; the community does but not the Union. And that was the cleverness of Maastricht.
The Maastricht Treaty was the Treaty on the European Union which set up this entity or quasi entity using the term a European Union for the various forms of cooperation. And Maastricht also said that if you’re a citizen of a member state you’re also a citizen of the European Union if the European Union didn’t exist as a legal entity and you could only be a citizen of a state. So the cleverness of the operation has been that Maastricht did introduce the concept of a European Union, it introduced the concept of EU citizenship but they had no significant legal content. Now that’s all changing, a new European Union is going to be established, which will take over from the community, the word ‘community’ will disappear and we will all be made real citizens of this union for the first time.
I have followed the British debate very closely, I get an awful lot of stuff from different elements in Britain, but it seems to me that this point has not been sufficiently emphasised, that there’s going to be change in the character of the citizenship of the citizens of this country. You will remain citizens of the United Kingdom but you will also be made real citizens of this new entity, newly established, legally new entity, the European Union and will owe it the normal obligations of citizenship, which is the duty of obeying its laws and owing loyalty to its authority and institutions. So for the first time your actual citizenship is going to be changed fundamentally and you’ll remain real citizens of this new entity and it seems to me that that point has the potential of getting through to a lot of ordinary people. Most people know that being a citizen you can only be a citizen of state, they know that and you have to obey and you have obligations of loyalty but they don’t regard themselves as European citizens in any meaningful sense but they will from now on have to obey the EU laws, have to give it loyalty and there will be real obligations and rights, rights and duties attaching to European Union citizenship. And it seems to me that that has the potential, if put in the kinds of exercises so desirable here in the coming weeks to try and get at MPs and so on and the coming months leading up to the big debate in Parliament, that has the potential of bringing home to citizens in the United Kingdom this constitutional revolution which is occurring, that they are going to be made citizens by stealth.
Of course that’s why the operation is so clever because already the term European citizenship has been used, the term European Union has been used and yet the legal content was totally different from what it will be after this Treaty if it’s ratified. So this constitution revolution occurring which is going to change the fundamental character of the European Union, give us the constitution form for state for the first time, which will be legally and constitutionally different from its member states just as the United States of America is different from California and Idaho and at present that is not the case. The European Union just refers to the member states. Under the new Treaty with its own legal personality, its own distinct corporate existence it will be different from its member states, it will be an independent distinct actor in the international community of states and will have of course the fundamental right to sign treaties with other states in all the airs of its competence, which go far beyond commercial treaties and could potentially cover a vast field.
And the citizens of Britain and of Ireland and of Portugal and the rest will be made real citizens of this entity and have this code of civil rights imposed upon them, the Charter of Rights. And I heard in Brussels two weeks ago that there’s a Commission paper saying that once this is in force and is legally binding on all the member states and their citizens, which the new Treaty does, that the Commission would start producing laws to implement the Charter and there will have to be obviously people of certain rights in EU law as EU citizens they should be implemented all over the place on a uniform basis. And this opens up the door for the Commission to start proposing laws and the Council Ministers to start adopting them on a uniform basis all over the EU and of course rights issues arise everywhere virtually in all sorts of contexts.
Just to give one or two illustrations of that because this is an elaboration really of the point Martin Howe was making this morning, I made the point after the meeting, I said I think this point of citizenship has the potential of getting through to people in this country if it can be explained. It’s hardly ever referred to in the British debate so far as far as I can see. But under the existing treaties for example members of the European Parliament are representatives of the peoples of the member states, that’s the phrase used in the existing Treaty, members of the European Parliament represent the peoples (plural) of the member states. Under the new Treaty, the Constitution Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon they will represent the citizens of the Union. I mean that just indicates the character of the legal constitutional change. Instead of representing the peoples (plural) of the member states, they will represent the citizens of the Union, all the citizens and presumably British MPs will be supposed to represent citizens in Portugal and elsewhere in other parts of the Union.
And Christopher has of course referred to the change in the character of the European Council, that is the regular summit meetings of EU Heads of State in Government, which took place and have been taking place outside the ambit of the treaties up to now beginning with informal fireside chats becoming more formal as the years go on but still not being essentially intergovernmental discussions among the Heads of the States concerned. But under the new Treaty this will become a Union institution. And with the Commission, the Council, the Court and the Parliament the European Council, these periodic meetings of EU Heads of State of Government will become a European Union institution and as such will be subject to review of their decisions; our failures to act will be subject to review by the European Court of Justice. Its all EU institutions so set out in the treaties are subject to review, their decisions or their failures to act if they impose adversely on people can be assumed not to be in conformity with attaining the objectives of the treaties, well the failure to act, to obtain the objective of the treaty is a fault or a potential fault and that would be subject to review by the European Court of Justice.
That gives you another idea of the new kind of constitution structure being set up and Martin Howe referred to the point about having a permanent President, there’s no other national institution where you’ve got a permanent President for five years at a time, but of course this is characteristic of governments. So these I think are very important points which I think have the potential of perhaps explaining to people the constitutional change that has been brought about and particularly I think this notion of citizenship and I wish you well in the British debate, its hugely important and I’m sure you’ll wish us well in our Irish Referendum down the road if we have one but I mean if you defeat it we won’t have one.
I’d just like to thank you again. We are all taking part in what I call an international movement in defence of national democracy and it’s not true just of Britain but of Ireland and all these other countries. There are major movements in most of the countries of Europe, certainly in Western Europe and Northern Europe against this undemocratic monster that’s being imposed upon us. So as part of this international movement in defence of national democracy I wish you well and I’m sure you’ll wish us well.
Speech by Gerard Batten MEP
Thank you very much everybody. Can I say this is the first time that I’ve ever spoken at a Bruges Group conference; I’m very honoured to be asked. It’s a great pleasure to be here and I hope that I do well enough to get invited back on another occasion.
As we all know and we’ve heard today the European Union has always been a political project about bringing about a political state, a United States of Europe. If there’s anybody in Britain that no longer believes that then they should try to come and spend half a day in the European Parliament in the Chamber and I think if they witnessed it at first hand they could no longer entertain that delusion.
But political and economic integration of itself is not enough. Now central requirements of any state are armed forces and the intention to create a European armed force of some kind has always been an important part of the European project. It got off to a false start in the 1950s when plans for a European army were scuppered by the French no less, who voted against it in their Parliament and it really had to wait another four decades before the necessary higher degree of political integration had arrived in order for the project to be restarted.
The Treaty on European Union 1992 made possible the leaps and bounds in political integration under the subsequent Treaties ratified by the Labour Government of 1997 onwards. Now the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, which came into force in 99, spelt out the objective to create armed forces and the European Commission stated ‘the central aim is to complete and thus strengthen the EU’s external ability to act through the development of civilian and military capabilities for international conflict prevention and crisis management. If the EU Member States work together successfully in this field this may help forge a common identity and promote integration. European security and defence policy is therefore a key project for further unification of Europe’. Now can it really be put any plainer than that? The EU believes that it should have the ability to act externally by means of military force and if this happens they believe it will promote the process of European political integration.
In December 1998, Tony Blair met with the French President, Jacques Chirac in Saint-Malo and they afterwards issued a joint declaration, if I can quote from that, ‘the Union, EU, must be given appropriate structures and a capacity for analysis of situations, sources of intelligence and a capability for relevant strategic planning without unnecessary duplication. In this regard the European Union will also need to have recourse to suitable military means’. Now this declaration made the point that the EU’s proposed autonomous military capability must have the ability to be asserted if necessary outside of the NATO framework. Prior to St-Malo there had been surreptitious attempts towards closer military integration on closer naval and military matters between Britain and France but now the process had really moved out into the open.
The Cologne Council of 1999 marked a further decisive step in the process launched at St-Malo. It resolved that under the common foreign and security policy the EU must play its full role on the international stage and Javier Solana the Spanish Director-General of NATO was nominated at the EU’s High Representative in fact of course as we all know, the de facto Foreign Minister. The leaders of the EU Member States along with the President of the Commission agreed that the Council must have, and I’ll quote again, ‘the ability to take decisions on the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks defined in the Treaty on European Union. To this end the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them and a readiness to do so in order to respond to international crisis without prejudice to actions by NATO’. Now the result of this agreement was the creation of a common European Security and Defence Policy the ESDP, which is intended to make the political dream of an EU military capability a reality.
The next stage was on the 27 July 2000, when Geoff Hoon, Britain’s Defence Minister signed a complex agreement whilst visiting the Farnborough Air Show. This agreement was described as a framework agreement between six EU Member States, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and the UK concerning measures to facilitate the restructuring and operation of the European defence industry. Now I know it’s all a bit dry, I’m sorry, but the significance of this document would only emerge later. It set out the guidelines for harmonization of defence equipment as the basis for a common command structure. The planned EU military forces would be brought about by introducing harmonized defence equipment procurement policies so that eventually national military forces would not be capable of acting independently of each other in any significant manner. The EU would eventually not just have its own army but its own air force and navy too.
Now I’ve gone through the stages that make what’s possible possible and the development of a unified EU military capability really relies on three key elements. One is a unified defence equipment procurement research and development policies, a common military communications system and the creation of unified command and control structures under which national forces can work as unified EU forces. The missing element of course is a massive budget to pay for all this but I think that’s a small problem for the Utopian idealists who plan all this and they will tackle that problem later when the practical pieces of the jigsaw are all in place.
I’ll just deal briefly with all of these factors in turn. First of all the unified defence equipment procurement: Dr Richard North has written brilliantly about this in his pamphlet, The Wrong Side of the Hill and if I can try to paraphrase his arguments it’s this: A technical revolution is really under way in warfare. In future warfare will be centred on electronic control of military forces in the field by means of satellite communications with new generations of vehicles, unmanned aircraft, weapons systems all controlled by satellite and computer. Military forces will be so closely coordinated that different systems will not be able to work alongside each other.
Now the UK used to work very closely with the US in the development of these kinds of projects until about 2000. Since 2005 the Ministry of Defence has shifted away from cooperation with the USA and is bringing about an increasing dependence on cooperation with the European partners. Instead of the USA, equipment is being purchased from companies in France, Germany, Italy and Sweden. The significance of this is because it implies a state of technical integration with the EU’s defence capabilities, which will mean that further collaboration with the USA will no longer be feasible. Every aspect of future defence planning will rely on equipment supplied and developed by EU Member States. For example Britain is buying armoured fighting vehicles and troop carriers and weapons from European sources when cheaper and technically better vehicles and equipment could be bought from the USA or South Africa but the political integration is far more important than getting value for money.
Now the second key element in bringing about an EU military capability is a common communications system. Now actually this isn’t necessary at all because NATO for example uses the American GPS, Global Positioning Service, but the problem with that for the European ambitions is that if the Americans didn’t approve of what the European military forces were doing, they could cut off GPS and that isn’t any good for the Europeans. Therefore the Europeans, in order to have a truly autonomous military capability outside of NATO must build its own communications system and this is the proposed Galileo satellite system, which I’m sure you’ve heard something about. The proposed European constitution, which of course was defeated in 2005, contained provisions to set up a European space policy; the defeat of the constitution should have meant the end of the space policy, which they require in order to build Galileo and I’ve put a written question into the Commission on this saying how can you now legally justify doing this when the Commission is dead and they just wrote back and said well we can do it under the existing treaties and we’re going to do it anyway.
And crucial to this developing military forces is the concept now as I said of this what’s called network centric warfare whereby all operational forces on the ground would be monitored and controlled by satellite communications systems and the Iraq War demonstrated this in 2003 when laser guided weapons were replaced by satellite guided weapons.
Now Galileo originally of course was sold to everybody as being for purely civil purposes, civilian purposes and they stuck to this argument for quite a long time. I would go to security and defence meetings in Brussels and say, but you’re going to use it for military purposes aren’t you, oh no of course we’re not, its going to be used for lovely fluffy things like air-sea rescue and telling people where they are for sat nav and all these types of nice things. They weren’t able to do that any longer, I think it was in about September when they finally realised that they weren’t going to get any civilian money, they weren’t going to get any financial backing for this because anybody with the kind of money needed to invest in this project looked at it and said well it doesn’t actually have any commercial viability because we can do it all on GPS for free now, the Americans allow free access, so they couldn’t find any backers for this project. So they had to admit finally they didn’t have any money, therefore the tax payer was going to have to pay for it and they were going to use it for military purposes, something that I have been saying and not just me, other people, for the last three years, they finally admitted it.
The project actually might be dead because even a week or so ago British MPs were saying that they’ve looked at the costs and its totally unjustifiable and they were going to try and kill it in the House of Commons, at least our contribution to it. Now I don’t know whether that would happen but we can but hope.
Now the third and last element in building these military capabilities is unified command and control structures. There are numerous EU operations underway and numerous command and control structures that are being built. I can’t go through them all but at the moment there are operations for example in the Congo, Bosnia, Darfur, Kinshasa, the Palestinian Territories – I think there’s about 13/14/15 of these things going on at the moment. They may not be very high profile, you may not have heard of them and they may not be very effective but that’s not the point, they’re always undertaken under the guise of providing humanitarian aid and disaster recovery but the real purpose is to operationally combine military forces of Member States so that even when those military forces are not really worth worrying about very much are under a common command and control structure. Now this is obviously very complex since each Member State has got its own existing structures, but ways and means are found to bring them about into a unified force.
In 2007 the European Union’s own operations centre became operational and is based in the EU military staff headquarters in Brussels. It’s currently relatively small with only about 76 military and 13 civilian staff and its purpose is to enable the EU to plan and operate autonomous military actions without recourse to Member States’ national HQs. And the de facto European Foreign Minister, Javier Solana has been asked to produce a report on the shortcomings of the operations centre and not surprisingly he’s expected to recommend that it’s expanded. All this falls within the context of the common foreign and security policy which originated as far back as 1993 under the Treaty of the European Union, not all of its going so smoothly however.
In 1999 the Helsinki Headline Goals intended the creation of what would have been the seminal European army, this was called the EU Rapid Reaction Force and its purpose was intended to be able to deploy 50,000 to 60,000 troops within 60 days on a range of tasks, again for humanitarian relief and peace keeping missions, that type of thing, and that was supposed to be achieved by 2003. It was an abject failure, it didn’t happen but the EU is nothing, as we all know, if not persistent. They issued a new Headline Goal for 2010, which was adopted, and this has seen the establishment of something called the EU Battle Group. Now the EU Battle Group consists of 1,500 troops which can be deployable within 15 days and there are two such groups on standby on six monthly rotations and the UK will be responsible for one of these battle groups in the second half of 2008. So troops will be in the field on EU missions controlled by EU command and control structures so where do we go from here?
The EU constitution, which as we know is defeated but not dead and has come back, contained provisions for a common foreign policy and defence policies. It had intended to confirm the EU Foreign Minister – but he’s got a different name now as we all know, he’ll be called the High Representative – and the defeat of the constitution of course only marked a delay in the process of political integration. Under the new Treaty all of these provisions will continue, military integration will continue as before and of course the EU is determined to have its own foreign policy decided by qualified majority voting of the Council and so such a policy would be pointless without a military capability, without military forces.
The reformed Treaty states I’ll quote, ‘the Union’s competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the EU’s security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence’. Well I don’t know what a common defence is if its not a common military force and army, air force and navy.
It’s always been the intention of the European Union to create its own military forces as I said and its achieving that by means of defence procurement policies, by locking those states into working together so that they can’t work outside of each other, means of commanding a communications system, which looks like it’s not going so well thank goodness and of course common command and control structures and its carrying on at the moment. Now as a member of the European Parliament Security and Defence Committee I sometimes ask the dignitaries who come and address us to admit isn’t this really all about the creation of a European army, and of course they always reply oh of course not, you’re completely wrong, its just about cooperation between Member States. I had that said to me just last week again by somebody who had described how the battle groups were all going to work together and how wonderful it was going to be and all the rest of it. But those of us who are opposed to the European Union know that that's exactly how they work. First of all they tell you its not happening and you’re imaging it and then when it’s all cut and dried they say oh didn’t you know that’s what we were doing? It’s obvious you know. Edward Heath is a prime exponent of that kind of art.
Now you don’t have to take my word for it or anybody else’s. Look what some of the prominent people in the European Union have said. In 1999 Romani Prodi, the then President of the European Commission said if you don’t want to call it a European army fine, you can call it Margaret or Marianne, the obvious inference being that its still going to be an army. More recently than that Hans-Peter Bartels and Jörn Thießen, members of the German Bundestag issued a report in 2007 entitled On the Way towards a European Army. They said ‘we are ready to enter into a process at the end of which we integrate our national armies into a super national army, a European army’. And closer to home this week we had the Foreign Minister, David Miliband in a speech in Brussels where he was reported to have raised the possibility of a European army to use the ‘hard power of sanctions and troops to bring about changes in places such as Darfur and the EU should be prepared to use its collective clout on the world stage’.
One of the things of course with this which is obvious is that they use the nice cuddly fluffy ideas of bringing help, aid and disaster relief to countries around the world and it needs military forces to do it. That’s the cloak under which they are doing it. Now of course Miliband at the same time said – I’m slightly digressing off the subject of defence, although perhaps not so because he’s saying that the EU should be enlarged to bring in the countries of North Africa, other countries of Eastern Europe who are not yet members and even Russia. Now I was saying a long time ago and people pooh-poohed it even in my own party, I could see the day when Russia will be invited into the European Union, which I find absolutely extraordinary that a British Foreign Minister can entertain that idea given that Russia is now under the control of gangsters and crooks.
We’re coming up to the first anniversary of the murder of one of my constituents with whom I was also on friendly terms, Alexander Litvinenko who was killed by the first case of nuclear terrorism in the world that we know of. And of course every indication is that that was ordered by someone in the Russian Government and these are the people that Miliband thinks it would be a good idea to bring into the European Union.
Now none of this is necessary. Now the collective defence of the west of course has been very successfully carried out by NATO over the last 50 years or more. Why does the European Union need a foreign policy, only a state needs a foreign policy, why does the European Union need military capabilities, only a state needs military capabilities. We all know it’s a state and its being created and of course we all know that it’s a monstrous undemocratic centralised state in the making, which now I think only the wilfully blind can refuse to see.
Our own armed forces are being starved of men, money and resources while they’re being stretched to the absolute limit in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. They’re now being trained on the job, under fire because they do not have the capacity to train them in the normal way. Now I wonder perhaps they’re being intentionally weakened so that they can all the more easily be absorbed into a common European military force.
I’ll just finish up by saying if the so called Reform Treaty is ratified and if the current trends continue then within a few years Britain’s armed forces will not be able to mount independent military actions of any significance, we will be totally tied to the ambitions of the European Union.
Speech by Roger Helmer MEP
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be here. I’ve got a question for you; did anybody study Greek at school? Yeah, this is fantastic, well you’re way ahead of me because I didn’t, but I came across a Greek word that I would like to introduce to all of you whether you studied Greek or not and it is the word ‘Agora’. And as our Greek scholars will be well aware, Agora means a marketplace or by extension a public forum where political issues are discussed. It is also the rather pretentious name that the European institutions chose to give to a meeting which was called in the European Parliament about two weeks ago, which I attended with Simon Richards, who some of you know is the Campaign Director of the Freedom Association.
Now what they did at this Agora was to invite a large number of organisations. They call this civil society. Now I am not sure what the phrase ‘civil society’ means. I know what people are, I know what voters are and I know what the people in my constituency are, but I do not know what civic society means. I now understand what they intend it to mean and it means a lot of NGOs, a lot of organisations. And you will get the flavour of this meeting if I give you the names of some of these organisations which they invited. I should tell you by the way the purpose of the debate, of the Agora was to discuss the European Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon which I refer to usually as the renamed constitution. And they have a track record on this because they had a very similar event two and a half years ago where they discussed the constitution. That was before the French and the Dutch, God bless them, shot it down.
Some of the names of the organisations: The Young European Federalists, the European Union of Women, the European Association of Journalists, Europa Nostra, the European Houses – are you starting to get a sort of flavour of these organisations. And I have to tell you that most of these organisations are in fact funded by the European Union. So what the European institutions have done, they have created as it were a hall of mirrors and they can walk through this hall of mirrors and they can see their opinions reflected in each mirror and they know they can expect to see their opinions reflected in each mirror because they are paying for it.
I will give you just one example. There is something called BEUC, which is the umbrella organisation for consumer organisations across the European Union, so of course they represent consumers don’t they. Well I’m not sure they do, I represent four million consumers in the East Midlands because I was elected to represent them. How these people represent them I do not know but BEUC is funded by the European institutions and guess what, it lobbies the European institutions. So the European institutions are paying money to lobbyists outside in order that they may come and lobby the institutions and ask the institutions to carry out the will of the institutions. I mean you couldn’t make it up could you?
In the course of this Agora I described this system and I’m afraid it caused great offence, I can’t imagine why, but I described the system as institutional incest and I think that is an extremely appropriate description. Now I’m sure that a lot of these people who represent these organisations and attend these events, they may start out as being well intentioned, honourable, misguided no doubt but they are not essentially bad people, but what they find of course when they come to these organisations, they come to Brussels, they get involved in these events, suddenly they realise that their status is enhanced by their close contact with the institutions, their funding depends upon close contact with the institutions, so guess what they are not very keen to criticise the institutions. And what the European institutions have done is to create their own sort of comfort zone of quasi autonomous organisations that in fact merely reflect their own view.
If that were all then we could laugh about it and write about it on our blogs and it wouldn’t matter. But what I realised as I sat through this event was that it was actually much more fundamental than that because they were talking about this not just as a little bit of a consultation, this was a new form of democracy. Now I think everybody in the European project and associated with it accepts that there is indeed a democratic deficit in the European Union. I’m not sure many people in this room would disagree with that proposition, there is a democratic deficit. And we know that that democratic deficit exists quite simply because there is no common public opinion across the whole of the EU and therefore there cannot be a common constituency on the basis of which to operate representative government. Therefore you cannot have proper representative government at the EU level in the phrase they love to use.
But of course that isn’t the conclusion that the institutions draw. They say we must fill this gap, this democratic deficit with new mechanisms and we have decided that representative democracy, that is one person, one vote, the kind of democracy we have known all our lives, that is obviously not adequate to this new situation, therefore we must turn to something which we will call participative democracy and we will achieve this by having the sort of debate that I’m telling you about and inviting these organisations, which are representative of large groups of opinion within the European Union and we will consult them.
And we had the leader of one of these organisations there and after I criticised the arrangements he said, well how can you criticise me, I was elected by my organisation, I have a legitimate right to represent them. And I sort of understood what he meant, but think of it like this, if you are an ordinary voter on the street you get one vote in the ballot box, but if you happen to be a member of the World Wildlife Fund or Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, you get two goes at democracy, you get your vote in the ballot box but you also get represented in the heart of the institutions debates on policy by the organisation.
Now those of you who can remember to 1930 and I daresay there are no many, or those of you who have studied history will recall the arrangements of which Mr Mussolini was extremely fond in fascist Italy. They had a system of corporatist ‘democracy’ they called it under which they invited large groups, employers’ organisations, trade unions, other organisations representing parts of society because they found this was much tidier and less messy than actually putting things out to be voted by ordinary people because after all as we know ordinary people get confused don’t they.
I recall a famous quotation from I think it was a French playwright whose name has escaped me, but he once said the people have lost the confidence of the government, so the government has decided to dissolve the people and to appoint a new one. Well I think we have a similar situation here. Democracy itself has lost the confidence of the European institutions so they have decided to get rid of democracy and have a new system that they call democracy but has very little relevance to democracy at all.
This particular debate which I am telling you about, the Agora, I think it could be compared in a way to a Soviet show trial because everything was carefully planned and choreographed beforehand, we knew exactly what would happen with one important error all the people were hand picked beforehand to be the right sort of people and of course the outcome was known as the beginning. We were presented at the start with a document of the conclusions and I think one or two t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted but basically that was it.
And when I say one exception to the careful hand picking, I happen to be a member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Committee was invited to put forward proposals for public organisations and non-governmental organisations that might like to be involved. So just for fun I put in a proposal and my list you will be very pleased to hear Robert, that my first name on the list was the Bruges Group and I think Ruth Lea’s gone but I had Global Vision, I had Open Europe, I had the European Foundation. Marc I had the Democracy Movement on my list and right at the bottom I had the Freedom Association. Well do you know, I was just getting ready to do the press release saying you know they refused all these Eurosceptic organisations, guess what, they invited the Freedom Association. So I sneaked in with Simon Richards and we made a certain amount of mayhem and frankly caused a certain amount of offence.
I hope I’m making the point to you that democracy is not alive and well in the European institutions and if you need an example, one single example, leave aside the fact that the Danes voted against Maastricht and were told to go away and vote until they got the right answer or that the Irish voted against Nice or that the French... well I was coming to the point about the French and the Dutch.
This constitution is absolutely an example of the wholesale contempt in which the European institutions hold public opinion, it is frankly disgraceful. We know that the new so called Reform Treaty, the revised constitution is essentially the same thing. I’m sure you’ve heard today, I’m sorry I haven’t been with you all day; you will have heard many, many quotes from senior European politicians outbidding each other - its 90% of the constitution... its 95%... its 98%. Well Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and he ought to know because he wrote the damn thing mostly, he has very proudly announced that all his original conception of the constitution is there, nothing is lost, merely cosmetic changes he says.
But I think the most disgraceful thing ladies and gentlemen is a letter which was circulated by the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel and of course we in this country do have some track record with Chancellors of Germany. In her capacity as President in Office of the European institutions during the first half of 2007, she circulated a letter to the other Member States dealing with how they should handle the constitutional issue and the very phrase she used is that they should make cosmetic changes and terminological differences but with the same legal effect.
Now I frankly am hard pressed to think of any statement from a political leader I can ever recall quite so deeply cynical and so utterly dishonest. Maybe there’s the odd quote from Goebbels that would stand alongside it but frankly to say we are going to subvert the democratic process, we are going to ignore what the people have said in a free referendum in France and in Holland and we are going ahead with this, we’re going to reproduce it under a different name and we are not going to let them vote again, it is extraordinarily wicked is the phrase that springs to my mind.
Gordon Brown, we all know and love him don’t we, has a series of excuses as to why he doesn’t think we should have a referendum. He has of course said that the document is different; I don’t think I need to go into that because we know it is not different, we know it is essentially the same. Technically it is a reforming treaty, it is not a constitution but in terms of the practical effect on our governance, the powers which are passed to Brussels, the new institutions which are created by it, it is exactly the same in terms of outcome and effect. He also says, well we’ve never had referendums before on things like this. Of course we did indeed have a referendum on Europe in 1975. Can I say to you ladies and gentlemen, the mere fact that we made a mistake in the past is not a good reason to make another mistake now and there is a fundamental reason why in this case we should look at it because in fact it is a subject of much greater public concern than it has ever been before in my view.
Then his excuse is, well we’re a parliamentary democracy, Parliament does these things. Well hang on a minute; this is a Government which has given us more referenda than all the governments that ever went before it in the history of British democracy. We’ve had referenda on Scottish devolution, on Welsh devolution and on an Elected Regional Assembly for the North East, we’ve even had a referendum on a mayor for Hartlepool and they tell us that this is not a constitutional issue of sufficient substance to justify asking the will of the people.
And the last and most disgraceful and cynical reason that I can think of that has been quoted by the Government, they say this is too difficult for ordinary folk to understand. A bit like Mussolini you know, democracy is a bit sort of messy and difficult and people come up with the wrong answers so you know we shouldn’t really put this responsibility upon them.
Do they imagine that general elections are a simple matter, do they imagine you could go out in a general election campaign and get a dozen people off the street and invite them to write an essay on defence policy and welfare policy and tax policy and immigration policy and all those things, of course you couldn’t. The fact is that the people form an impression through the media, through their elected representatives and in other ways and they decide who they want to elect and it is not for politicians to tell them they were wrong. I am sick of hearing people say well of course the French didn’t really vote on the constitution, they really voted on Turkey or against Gisgard. The fact is the question on the ballot paper was about the constitution and I always recall Churchill’s comment that democracy is the worst form of government we know apart from all the other forms of government.
So lets be positive about this, why should we have a manifesto? Well the first and obvious reason is that this Government and 98% of the MPs elected currently in the House of Commons, 98% of them promised in their election manifestos that we should have one and the idea that Westminster, the Houses of Parliament should now change their minds and deny the people what was promised by virtually every MP is an outrage.
There are two reasons related to the issue itself though which are vitally important. This treaty for the first time gives the European Union a legal personality. Now that sounds like something that’s extremely boring and for constitutional lawyers, but realistically it is the point at which the European Union changes from arguably a federation of independent nations, I mean I doubt that it is at the moment but lets give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a federation of independent nations, it certainly is no longer a federation of independent nations after it gets a legal personality. It will be treated by other countries around the world and by international organisations as if it were a country in its own right.
And the other reason which is absolutely critical and that is that it is self amending. This is the last chance; this is the last amending treaty. In future they will make decisions about passing further powers to Brussels behind closed doors and they will not even ask national parliaments never mind the people.
So I conclude ladies and gentlemen with a quote from one of my heroes, Mr Daniel Hannon. He has said that the European Union is making us poorer and less democratic and less free and he is right. We face a choice and the choice is very simple, do we wish to live in a free and independent and democratic and self governing country or do we wish to live in an offshore province of a country called Europe.
Speech by Cllr Steve Radford
Mr Chairman, fellow British citizens – I’m very proud of saying that – I’m a Councillor maybe this year, a Councillor for 30 years, but I may not be. The Standards Board for the fourth time are trying to remove my right of my electors to vote for me.
Firstly I criticised licensing legislation in Government and said why Councillors can’t represent their residents without a letter of authority. I said what’s the ballot box? Because I criticised that as a sort of fascist concept the Standards Board had me reported for showing lack of respect to the Government.
I once complained at a housing meeting that opposition Councillors were refused to attend a public meeting. Our Chief Executive lied that the meeting was public and said it was a private meeting and said the Church Ministry had excluded us. That was untruthful. Because I protested to the local government press the Standards Board seek to have me removed from office. I won that case but at a cost of £10,000.
Well what’s this got to do with Europe? Because European legislation has a total different concept; the citizen, in this case the Councillor, has to prove their innocence. There is not an open jury trial and there is not a free process. The Councillor in this case doesn’t have freedom of speech, they have to apply a disciplinary code that the public would never believe and in local government we are seeing European style legislation where Councillors cannot be representative but must represent the council to the people, not the people to the council. It’s the whole point of why the culture of this country is being eroded. Our culture is under attack, not just our political freedoms which are right to defend, not just our economic benefits under attack, our very culture is under attack by stealth even down to freedom of speech of elected members. So I’m a Councillor now, I may not be, but I do not intend to have my freedom to speech for my residents to be impinged by anybody and if I am struck down so be it.
If we listened to our political opponents, I think sometimes we ought to look beyond the hall and think what our political opponents are saying. If I listen to my political opponents I would have woken up shuddering at 4 o’clock this morning from my hotel room in Golders Green, because I came down from Liverpool last night, shuddering to see if the Norwegian Navy was coming up the Thames. Our political opponents would have us believe that peace in Europe is due to the EU. Well do I find the urge in the morning to see if the Norwegians are invading us because they’re not in the EU? What a load of political tripe. We are being fed political nonsense to justify the unjustifiable and we’ve got to take it on.
I was delighted to have heard the contribution by the national platform from the Irish Republic and I say that as a self-confessed unionist because today ladies and gentlemen we are fighting not just for our democratic rights, the British people, we are actually being more pro-European than anybody outside this hall, we are defending the rights of the French to be French, the Dutch to be Dutch, the Germans to be Germans and for their people to make their rightful decisions for their culture.
I am proud to be pro-European; I am defending the very nature of Europe, its diversity. Europe has never been a one state institution, it has never had one religious culture, it has never had one economic model and it never had one political level. We are the pro-Europeans, we are defending the diversity of Europe so let us put that on the front of our sales pack.
Some people have mentioned to emphasise I’m not a member of the Liberal Democrats, I think that is helpful. I come from a small part of one of the largest parties in the country but its political institution and values are more relevant today because those values are now under threat. I am proud to stand with people whose different political views on other counts I would fundamentally disagree. If this movement is to be successful I urge you to embrace yourselves beyond people you know, normal political spheres but to reach people of all left and right persuasions. If we are to be successful we must be a national resistance for democracy including everyone.
I just want to make it quite clear where we stand. My party was created some 123 years ago as a national institution; it was to enable working people and people without wealth to be involved in politics. Isn’t that true today? As the bureaucracy tries to exclude ordinary people that challenge is true today. It evolved to combine and to fight trade barriers. It was formed largely as a reaction to tariffs known as Corn Laws. The Corn Laws were there to put barriers against reasonably cheap imports of wheat to make more money for land owners in the rich southeast. To me how anybody can call themselves Liberal and support the EU, there are 10,000 rules, regulations, tariffs and subsidies to boost the cost of living for the working people of Britain and the rest of Europe, to subsidise those people who are economically efficient. They are barriers that are harming our former commonwealth residents who fought with us to defend the freedom of this country. That is absolutely disgraceful and it’s absolutely illiberal and I am actually disappointed.
I’m disappointed. When I attended a democracy movement organised by Tony in Eastbourne we invited our Liberal Democrat opponents and said who speaks for liberalism, they didn’t show. I thank the Bruges Group for inviting me to Dorset and we did a public meeting there and before I arrived we invited the Liberal Democrats there to say who speaks for liberalism because they certainly don’t. Please if you ever see or hear a Liberal Democrat being furred as a liberal please denounce that fallacy it is a canard, there is nothing liberal about the EU and there’s nothing liberal about the Liberal Democrats’ position.
And I challenge those people. If you believe the European Federation is a good thing why aren’t you putting it to our right to vote?
With the support of the Democracy Movement I hate to say it, we’ve been running a little guerrilla warfare. Okay not guerrilla warfare as in shooting people but actually going out and putting our arguments right into the heart of our political opponents.
Two weeks ago I was in Leeds on a Saturday afternoon and I was giving out these dreadfully subversive threat democracies, these leaflets by the Democracy Movement calling for a referendum and we took the debate to the leadership hustings for the Liberal Democrats, it was the first leadership husting they had in Yorkshire. And I was handing these fliers out to Liberal Democrat members voting which one is going to be the leader and actually giving them out and if they wanted to have a conversation discussing where their party had abandoned their pledge. One of the speakers said Gordon Brown’s going to depend on his majority to get the legislation through, he’s not, he’s going to depend on the Liberal Democrats to bail him out because even some Labour MPs have this country’s democracy at heart and Gordon Brown will need the Liberal Democrats to renege on their pledge for a referendum on the constitution to get it through Parliament. So their position is important.
So we took these little dangerously subversive leaflets and I stood outside the hall in the civic square at Leeds giving them out. A rather – I don’t think its particularly unfair to say – a rather camp large gentleman minced out of the hall and got awfully upset and said ‘oh, oh, oh this is terrible, you’ve come to sabotage our meeting’. ‘No I’m just asking you to vote for your party policy’, ‘but it’s a political leaflet’, ‘well I thought you were a political party’. ‘We’re going to call the Police’, ‘Please do’. Two Policemen came along, I gave them a leaflet and said I think we should have a vote on the referendum and the Policeman said ‘We can’t entertain politics but we think you’re right’ and the Policemen left.
And God moves in mysterious ways and I say that as a Christian - I’m sure those people of other denominations wont take offence – because then Nick Clegg arrived and he was surrounded by ten stewards to prevent me giving him a leaflet. He was so frightened of being challenged, particularly with the journalist from the Daily Post who also thought we ought to have a referendum and had the camera ready when they called the Police, but they surrounded him to protect him. These Liberals asking for us to keep to our vote ooh dangerous, subversive. So they took him into the hall so he couldn’t be handed a leaflet, but God moves in mysterious ways and the fire alarm went off and they all had to leave the hall so he got his leaflet anyway.
We went down to Cardiff last week and thanks to the support of the Democracy Movement to help fund that because we wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise, and we gave leaflets out to Liberal Democrat members going to the Marriott Hotel and a lot of them stopped and actually agreed and they didn’t know their party was doing a U-turn and they were quite appalled. All the other visitors to the Marriott Hotel health club and the hotel, they also agreed too and we’ve got a real opportunity and I make no apologies, I intend with other colleagues to go to Cambridge on the 21st on Wednesday evening to put out the fliers. I intend to go to Manchester Town Hall next Saturday 11 o’clock and ask the Liberal Democrats defend liberalism and democracy, give us the vote, you promised it. And before we did each of those meetings we sent letters to the local papers and then we sent letters to the local papers, why haven’t our questions been answered.
We should be a guerrilla army and we should attack them in Manchester and attack the betrayal of the democratic pledge. The last hustings is going to be London at the Friends Meeting House in Euston on the 27th, because if we don’t start fighting we are betraying everything that we have inherited.
The great phrase of Gladstone was trust the people, I challenge the Liberal Democrats and I make no apology for having a pop at them, you’d expect me to. If Gladstone’s phrase of liberalism was ‘trust the people’, the Liberal Democrats’ position on denying us a vote is ‘rat on the people’. We must take our campaign to every single newspaper and every marginal constituency and embarrass all shades of political opinion, but we must reach out to everybody even those people who believe in the European project, if it is right put it to the vote. Other speakers have referred if it’s good enough to have a vote on a monkey for Hartlepool, its good enough to vote on the rights for our country to be self determined.
Next Wednesday I am attending an evening in Liverpool, it’s about the Palestinian peoples’ right to self determination and there will be all sorts of left wing and progressive minded people who will come there to talk about the right of the Palestinians for self determination, well we want the right to self determination, we want the right to decide our country’s future too. Are you with me because I’m with you.
Speech by Marc Glendenning
I would like to pick up the baton really from John Redwood in terms of what do we actually do about this, how do we actually force this referendum. When Ron and Reggie Cray were out and about in the East End of London intimidating legitimate businessmen, forcing them to cough up so called protection money, they used a very chilling phrase to describe their sort of psychopathic activities. They would say they were out to ‘put the frighteners’ on local traders. And to put it bluntly, we have to put the frighteners on Members of Parliament who are planning to vote against a referendum on the EU constitution, we have to pay them a little visit in their places of work and make them see what is in their own self interest.
But of course unlike Ron and Reg, those of us who are campaigning for a referendum are not the ones who are engaging in amoral psychotic activities without wanting to sound too sanctimonious. What we are trying to do is simply to get, to obtain for the British people what is ours by right, the referendum we were promised by every political party at the last general election.
Now it’s quite clear that Gordon Brown cannot be intellectually intimidated into conceding this referendum, even though the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee with a Labour majority on it has confirmed that the so called EU Reform Treaty is substantially equivalent to the constitution. It’s quite clear that New Labour and their inappropriately named Liberal Democrat allies cannot be embarrassed by reference to their manifesto commitments into giving us the referendum we were promised.
So we have no alternative but to take what is legitimately ours and that is through a campaign of people power. We have to intimidate anti-referendum MPs in their own constituencies. We have to threaten to separate them, not from their own limbs ala Ron and Reg, that might be going a little too far even for Liberal Democrats, possibly not in the case of Chris Hoon, but we have to threaten to separate them from their salaries, their jobs, their perks, we must make them an offer they can’t refuse.
So in order to help the likes of Chris Hoon, Ruth Kelly, Jim Murphy, Ken Clarke and others, come to their senses, we have started a campaign entitled ‘Let the People Decide’ and we will be targeting 150 MPs in their own constituencies. The vast majority of these MPs will be people with majorities under 5,000 votes.
Some four months ago we started the distribution of this leaflet, Gordon, don’t be an EU cheat. Half a million copies of this leaflet have gone out across the country but we’re now moving into the second phase where we’re getting really heavy. We’re distributing 10,000 leaflets, which name and shame to their own constituents those MPs who are planning to abandon the referendum promise. This is the front of the leaflet we are putting out with the help of Conservatives and Scottish Nationalists in Gordon Brown’s own constituency of Kirkcaldy and attached to the leaflet will be a postcard that voters will be able to send to their Member of Parliament. Robert Oulds, who you all know, will be our henchman if you like in the constituency of Slough where he is delivering the campaign against Fiona MacTaggart.
And we’ve also established a website, www.referendumlist.com, which will enable voters to type in their postcode to find out which constituency they are in, who their Member of Parliament is, the position of the MP on this issue and will enable them to automatically through the website to email the MP with their views.
However, we want to go considerably beyond this and if our fundraising activities are successful, if any of you know some nice rich widows out there please direct them towards us, because we want to print another 10,000 leaflets in these 150 target constituencies, we think we need a minimum of 20,000 in each seat. It costs approximately £750 for 10,000 in a target constituency. We want to take out attack adverts in local newspapers. If we were to do this in 100 constituencies that would cost approximately £70,000. We also want to organise some what I describe as Mao Tse Tung style cultural revolutionary public meetings, whereby we will challenge the anti-referendum MP to come to a public meeting to justify why he or she is not prepared to give his/her voters the opportunity to speak for themselves about whether they want a further transfer of powers to the European Union and these meetings in addition will give a platform to pro-referendum perspective parliamentary candidates of all parties in that constituency. So they will be able to say well if the MP is not prepared to vote for a referendum I certainly would support a referendum were I the MP for this constituency.
And lastly we want to hold one constituency wide referendum in a symbolically important seat, which would be administered by the Electoral Reform Society; that costs £42,000. Now a Trade Union organisation is planning to do that and I hope as many organisations as possible organise their own referenda across the country, but certainly we would like to be able to do that.
Now to cut to the chase we have to switch the votes by our calculation of about 85 MPs. At the moment 230 MPs have come out publicly for a referendum, not just Conservatives, Scottish Nationalists, Welsh Nationalists, some Labour MPs and now three Liberal Democrats and about 400 are either saying they’re going to vote against a referendum or are refusing to say where they actually stand on this position. So it is a tall order to make 80/90 converts. However, the good news is that 155 of the anti-referendum MPs or non-declared MPs are sitting in constituencies of majorities of under 5,000 votes. In addition to the Labour MPs who’ve come out for a referendum, there are about another 35 who originally during sort of constitution one said they supported a referendum but have yet to publicly declare themselves for a referendum with regard to constitution two. And I confidently suspect that people like Jeremy Corbin, Alan Simpson and others, who have a long track record of EU-scepticism, will come over of their own accord.
Many Liberal Democrats I gather from a friend within the party – I do have one – are extremely nervous, particularly those MPs sitting in marginal seats with Conservatives breathing down their necks and are hoping to be able to persuade whoever the new leader of the Party is to change the line or at least to give a free vote in the House of Commons. Now if we can get 30 Lib Dems, if we can break 30 Lib Dems, then I think the new leader will have to give a free vote because he will not want to start his career as leader of the Party with an embarrassing high profile defeat on this issue when we get the vote on the referendum amendment early next year.
So in conclusion, this constitution clearly is the moment of truth and not least of course because it is a self amending constitution. So this might be the last time that the European Union has to worry about winning high profile battles within the Member States in order to get a transfer of power. So this is a battle we simply cannot afford to lose. But winning the referendum is the necessary, not the sufficient condition of course, for defeating the treaty. And let us not be under any illusion that it will be easy to win a referendum on the constitution when we are up against the might of the Government propaganda machine, the might of the New Labour and Lib Dem electoral machines.
I don’t believe it is a forgone conclusion that we would win and so I think if we do get to wage the campaign for a no vote, we have to be supremely disciplined as a broad political movement with a small m. We will have to portray ourselves as being neither to the right, nor to the left but a coalition of all the British people regardless of Party, who believe in democracy and want to see a decentralisation of power from this bizarre sort of Byzantine, post modern system of government we’re being subsumed by.
We will have to communicate a positive alternative internationalist vision of the future to counter the smear campaign that will be run by the Government to the effect that we are little Englanders; we’re antiquated people who want to cut Britain off from the rest of the world and all that sort of nonsense. We will have to communicate our alternative vision of how international cooperation can and obviously does take place across the world without super national government.
And lastly we will have to recast the debate as a battle between all the peoples of Europe, not just the British people, all the peoples of Europe against the political class in Brussels, which of course includes a large percentage of our own political elite. If you like we will have to employ class analysis rather than necessarily narrow national analysis, we will have to say this is about an attempt by a post modern political class to destroy parliamentary government not just in this country but in France, in Ireland, in Germany and all the other countries that are unhappily within the European Union at the moment.
But in the short term the imperative of course is to win the referendum. We have about four months in which to do that so there is no time to lose. The Democracy Movement together with our allies in the Bruges Group and many other organisations represented here today will have to terrify the wits out of those MPs who are to use Ron and Reg speak ‘bang out of order’ on this particular issue.
So let’s go and put the frighteners on the political class.
Thank you very much.
Well Martin has told us in a very chilling way what is in the NSU, New Soviet Union Constitution that’s going to be imposed on us and John has told us how it is that the political class is allowing this constitution to be imposed on us. I want to talk a bit about the why and what is it all about, what are the underlying reasons for the proponents of the constitution to behave as they do and I want to do that in the context, as I was asked to, of the social market and its relation with the NSU constitution.
I think the first question is why on earth should a constitution specify a socio-economic model as the NSU constitution does? Well we have on the flyer for this conference a fine example of Soviet realism and its hardly coincidence that of course the constitution of the original Soviet Union did specify and impose a particular socio-economic model, the communist one.
Now I think thinking about these issues raises four areas of concern. The first of them is about the socio-political nature of the state that’s being erected and its relation to questions of capitalism to sovereignty and law, the second is about the implications for ‘peace, freedom and justice’, the third is about the role of the ECJ and about the fiction I’m afraid that the NSU is open and economically liberal or ever has been and fourth about the specific threat to London and its financial markets. That’s an area that concerns me professionally and personally quite importantly.
I think a lot was summed up in 1996 by Philippe Maystadt, who was at the time the Finance Minister of a country which was then known as Belgium, talking about the single currency and he said the purpose of the single currency is to prevent the encroachment of Anglo-Saxon values in Europe. Now that’s something I’ve used many times over the past 11 years and it still tells one an awful lot.
The New Soviet Union, the EU and its constitution are very specifically anti Anglo-Saxon on several levels. On levels concerning Anglo-Saxon models of capitalism, concerning sovereignty and the national state, concerning common law and concerning the so called Anglosphere and in particular the financial Anglosphere, which makes up the global financial system.
Four years ago in my essay, Circle of Barbed Wire, which is available on the Bruges Group website, I made the point that an order of national sovereign states is the only foundation of political legitimacy and that’s the only foundation of peace, freedom and justice. I also argued that the idea that Europe is about preserving peace, about preventing a third world war is nonsense and rests on a grossly and cynically distorted analysis of what caused the first two world wars and its interesting I think that since then a number of other people have taken up that theme. Last year for instance Niall Ferguson in his book, War of the World, expressed the view that the two world wars to quote: were ones in which what nearly all the principle combatants had in common was that they either were empires or sought to become empires. And he went on: the 20th century empires proved to be exceptional in their capacity for dealing out death and destruction. Why was this? The answer lies in the unprecedented degrees of centralised power, economic control and social homogeneity to which they aspired.
Now he goes on to describe attributes of those 20th century empires just in the same way that Martin described attributes of statehood in the constitution and said if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck it is a duck. The NSU is a 21st century example of the 20th century empires that dealt out so much death and destruction in the 20th.
A couple of years ago there was a very important book by an American scholar, a Professor of international relations at Cornell, Jeremy Rabkin, who said something rather similar to what I have been arguing and to what Niall Ferguson is arguing. In his book Law Without Nations? Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States, he said that it is not sovereignty itself that leads to problems, its sovereignty in the hands of those who profess sinister ideologies that threaten the world with disaster. He recalls that Nazism and Soviet communism aim, just as the New Soviet Union and the EU now aims, to abolish existing sovereignties and to replace them with a new imperial and super national form of government.
This I think has direct implications for the nature of a capitalist society and that’s one of my areas of concern. How is that? Well as the Austrian economist and political philosopher Schumpeter put it, capitalism is not about the management of existing structures, it’s about the creation of new structures and the destruction of existing ones. And that’s disturbing to a concept of the state in which the preservation of acquired interests buttresses the power of a corporatist policy. In other words it is disturbing to a state. And it’s that corporatist polity and its view of capitalism in relation to the state that’s traditionally espoused on the continent. It’s the ‘disorderly’ nature of Anglo-Saxon capitalism lubricated by what people on the continent refer to as casino financial markets that’s so excoriated by continental theorists. For a disorderly economic structure the equilibrium of so called interests in the polity.
In the Anglo-Saxon world view the state isn’t or at least shouldn’t be a dispenser of favours in return for political support. I stress shouldn’t be, it is or should be a ring holder, a framework that allows the undeniably diverging rather than consensual interests of different groups to be contested within a framework of law and law enforcement, a framework that prevents contestation becoming conflict. Anglo-Saxon capitalism allows innovative firms to establish monopolistically competitive positions, that is true, but whereas corporatist continental reignage capital is about seeking rents through political influence, monopolistic competition in free and contestable markets comes from the exercise not of political influence but of entrepreneurship. That model of capitalism is something that is totally anathema to the NSU.
What is also important to recognise is that the best defence of what I’ve called a ring holder polity is national sovereignty. There is a frequent confusion between sovereignty and power, one that famously King Canute attempted to dissolve when his courtiers who told him he could do anything and when he told his courtiers to set his throne by the shore and he would attempt to turn back the waves and he couldn’t he was pointing out that although his sovereignty was unlimited under God, his power was extremely limited both geographically and thematically. The problem with the NSU is that it does confound power and sovereignty, in fact it views power as being essential to sovereignty, the raison d'etre of the state is to be able to exercise economic power and if it can’t exercise economic power it has no sovereignty and it is from that confusion that the doctrine of Europe arises that the nation state is an empty shell. In a global world which reduces the power of national sovereign states the state becomes empty and has to be replaced by a super national sovereignty which will acquire power in the world. And I think it’s important to note that the idea that the European Union, the NSU, its court, the ECJ has ever been economically liberal or open is nonsense.
If one goes back to the 1950s its clear that the attitude of British Governments to what was then the EEC was that the EEC was going to be a protectionist body which would shut Britain out of continental trade. EFTA was set up as a kind of competitor to the EEC to at least ensure continued British access to a number of countries in Europe. Well unfortunately the defeatist Macmillan took the view that if you can’t beat them join them and the much worse and defeatist Heath took the view that we ought to join them anyway and if we get beaten by them so much the better. But the point I want to make is that the idea that Europe has represented 50 years of free trade is simply not correct. The idea that the ECJ is a protector of free trade and of open markets is simply not correct. The ECJ’s view of rights and fundamental freedoms is that they exist if and only if they advance what the ECJ itself has called Une certaine idée de l'Europe, a certain idea of Europe. Rights are allowable only if they produce integration; if they don’t produce integration they don’t exist. And it’s important that Sarkozy has managed to excise from the treaty the objective of free and open competition. That is not a betrayal of 50 years of a free trading approach in Europe; it is an extension of 50 years, an approach that says rights, including the right to trade freely, only exist if they lead to the creation of a political super state.
Independence, national sovereignty, the best defender of a ring holder polity and a ring holder polity rather than a corporatist polity is necessary for economic freedom but unfortunately we’ve given up our independence and the most shameful aspect of that surrender has been the supine acceptance by the English judiciary of the so called supremacy of the ECJ. The constitution is enormously important here as Martin has pointed out because in a sense it ratifies what has been the most audacious legal snatch and grab raid in history, that is to say the arrogation of supremacy to itself by the ECJ, an arrogation that has no foundation whatsoever in national constitutions, in international law or even the founding treaties. As I have tried to point out, the ECJ is very important in understanding the economic implications of the constitution.
So what is implied not just unfortunately by the constitution but by the whole apparatus of the EU, is antipathy to all aspects of the Anglo-Saxon world. That means of course that Britain is in a highly anomalous position as a member of the EU and as an Anglo-Saxon country and all these aspects of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, of the Anglosphere are under threat. But I think the aspect of the Anglosphere that today is most visible is what has been termed ‘nylon’, that’s to say the cities of New York and London, which are not just twin cities they are Siamese twins joined at the hip by the global financial system and frankly that’s something the NSU hates. It hates it for two reasons, first of all because its an aspect of the post World War II settlement and one of the objectives of the NSU is to reverse the perceived results of the Second World War and the installation of Anglo-Saxon leadership in the world and secondly because the global financial system represents a diminution of state power and as I pointed out, there’s a confusion between sovereignty and power in Europe and the global financial system is an affront to the idea of the state as conceived by Europe.
Now this is where a threat is very imminent and very real indeed. There’s an institution in Brussels called the Bruegel Foundation which is supported by 11 governments, unfortunately including our own, and the usual list of suspects of multinational companies and it’s published a lot. It has a great deal of influence on the deliberations and the decisions of the NSU and what it’s been concentrating on recently is the supposed need for a single EU regulator, supervisor and enforcer in the area of financial markets. One of its recent publications states that a European prudential regime can best be established at the level of the entire EU rather than the Euro area - and that’s important and I’ll come back to it – because the EU offers an appropriate framework of law and democratic accountability and because almost all pan-European banks have significant activities in London that cannot be isolated from their Euro area operations.
Now the intention of publications like this is not to avoid a financial crisis, it is to welcome and to use a financial crisis in order to get control of London. That would be an enormous blow not just to Britain but to the Anglosphere. It also makes it clear I think that just remaining outside the Euro is not sufficient protection for this country or for its financial markets or for its economic interests. As long as Britain is in EU it can’t be immune from the effects of the pre-programmed Euro area crisis. I’ll explain in a moment briefly what I mean by that.
And the Bruegel Foundation says that a common enforcement will only be feasible when it can be vested in an EU body and when member states are prepared to give up sovereignty to play a major international role in the supervision and enforcement of financial market regulation. The EU would have to develop a community interest approach and place the supervision of financial institutions and the financial markets into the hands of an EU institution.
Now of course at present our Government rejects that approach, but as Martin pointed out the constitution will give the ECJ new scope to use the duty of loyalty in the constitution to strike down opposition. The British political class will again use the hallucinatory argument that influence is the important thing and we retain influence by not using whatever veto powers we may retain. It’s important by the way to realise that even under the existing treaty the British opt-out from the single currency does not apply to the article which would allow the European Union to make the ECB the financial supervisor, regulator and enforcer for the whole of the EU and not just the Euro area. Now of course action under that existing provision would require unanimity but unanimity is a very weak defence. Treaty revisions require unanimity; the many of the thousands of laws which were imposed on us against our will and against our interest have required unanimity. The British political class has caved in; it has caved in because it values influence, because it values its own perks, privileges and self regard. Unanimity is a very weak defence indeed. It’s a particularly weak defence in this area because there’s the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Britain, its Governments and its financial markets in the form of again an existing treaty article which allows the imposition of exchange controls between the whole of the EU, again not just the Euro area, the whole of the EU and the rest of the world by qualified majority vote.
Now I was rather hoping that Normal Lamont might be here this morning and he could explain to us how it was that this article was smuggled into the Maastricht Treaty in 1991 and whether it was a case of the Foreign Office putting one over on the Treasury or whether Treasury officials were complicit in this. But nonetheless this threat is an enormously potent one and given the nature of financial markets doesn’t even need to be exercised, just a whisper in Brussels that the authorities were contemplating the imposition of exchange controls would have extremely damaging implications for British financial markets, it is thus and was always intended to be a blackmail weapon to be used against Britain.
In what circumstances might it be used, is it far fetched to suggest it - not at all unfortunately because the creation of the Euro was always intended to bring about a financial economic and political crisis. Recall what Prodi said at the end of December 2001, the Euro will create a crisis; this crisis will enable us to introduce new instruments and to claim new powers for ourselves that would otherwise be politically unacceptable. We all know that a monetary union cannot be sustained without at least a debt union and probably without a political union. How to get there through the crisis?
We all know that the European Union or the NSU welcomes crisis in all its aspects. Some of us remember having seen at the end of 1996 a Commission paper talking about the need for political union, it said that political union will not be advanced unless there is a perception of an external threat and it went on to say that a terrorist outrage would contribute to the creation of such a perception of an external threat. Now of course I’m not saying that the Commission engaged in terrorism. What I am saying is that when these horrible things come along, the Commission, Europe is there to take advantage of them, it is there to take advantage of problems in the area of climate change, its there to try to take advantage even in the area of the purchase and sale of premium league football clubs, its certainly there to take advantage of the crisis which it itself has deliberately pre-programmed through the creation of monetary union.
You know listening to what Martin had to say, I mean the only sensible conclusion that anyone could come to is the one that John Redwood told us he came to in 1975 when he voted to leave the EU. There is no protection for Britain in the current treaty; there will be even less protection for Britain in the constitution. The only protection for Britain consists of adopting the wisdom of Martin and Brian’s publication Better off Out. I think that conclusion has been clear to just about everyone in this room for a long time but what I wanted to do this morning was by helping to understand why the political class, the political class on the continent, the political class in this country, why they want to impose a European empire and New Soviet Union I think reinforces the belief that there is only one choice for us and that is not simply to vote against the NSU constitution, it is to leave the European Union.