The UK government ploughs on with the EU Constitutional Treaty

The UK Europe Minister this morning gave us more of the tired old rubbish from the Euro elite following the stunning victory of the Irish people against their politicians in this week’s referendum.

He tells us that all other 26 states should carry on ratifying, as if nothing had happened, avoiding any further referenda which may show that this Treaty remains unpopular with a majority in many countries. The scorn for democracy is now doubly apparent – no referendum for us when one was promised, because they think we will vote the wrong way, and no agreement to scrap the Treaty, now that the one country that is allowed a say has said No. Exactly what part of “No” do they not understand?

Worse still, the EU Minister thinks all 26 other governments will ratify – over the heads, and despite the views, of their electors. Then presumably, the arm-twisting starts on Ireland, with a view to offering an odd opt-out or a transitional arrangement, and the odd, meaningless clarification of the Treaty, to “deal” with the Irish problem.

It is a disgrace that the UK government behaves in this cavalier way towards the clearly expressed views of the people of Ireland, and fails to understand the even larger majority here in the UK who oppose this Treaty according to Opinion Poll evidence. There is no mandate for this Treaty. The people do not think it either desirable or necessary. They should bin it.

They should come back with proposals to restore power and rights to the democracies of Europe, removing power from unelected officials in Brussels. They should come up with positive proposals to reduce both the cost and burden of Brussels, so we can have a tax cut and some deregulation instead of the endless diet of more spending, more taxes and more rules. When they say they need to streamline the decision processes in a larger community, it means they want to pass more laws. Why can’t they get it? WE WANT FEWER LAWS. TRY ABOLISHING SOMETHING. We do not need another bunch of expensive wannabe politicians and officials in Brussels bossing us around in ever more detail and more areas of our lives. The voters say “Get off our backs”. Instead they ignore us and make us even angrier.

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19 Comments

  1. Neil Craig
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I think the EU fuhrers would be unwise to expect the Irish to go away & try to vote yes again – they managed that once but this vote had a solid majority.

    That being the case the only way out seems to me to invite the Irish to take the associate status Norway has. The main problem with that being that if the Irish embraced it what is to stop Britain & possibly other countries doing so too.

  2. David Eyles
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Yes. Quite so. But the nature of the edifice is that it will not seek to reduce its size and power. It is in the nature of bureaucracies to increase their size, spending and power; and the EU is huge and growing by the day, both in a real sense and in terms of its arrogance and democratic deficit.

    So what do you suggest is a sensible, realistic mechanism to acheive your wish list and which most of us share?

  3. Iain
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I note a reported comment coming from the Foreign Office which said 'the Irish will have to run the referendum again' a somewhat callous disregard for the will of the Irish people, but then the Foreign Office has form on this, for they resented Mrs Thatcher battling for Britain at European summits, it was Jeffery Howe and the Foreign Office who did for Mrs T. Its the Foreign Office who have negotiated all these EU treaties, which has resulted in disenfranchising us, sidelining Parliament, and got us to pay a kings ransom for the pleasure of it.

    So though a change of Government may help, is it not the case that things will only fundamentally change if the culture in the Foreign Office is changed?

  4. Freeborn John
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I am not in the least surprised by Continental elites reaction to the Irish NO.

    Last year (before the June 2007 summit that decided to simply re-impose the rejected Constitution in a new guise) I wrote an alternative to the EU Constitution which won the Adam Smith Institute's competition for the best alternative to the version rejected by the French and Dutch. In this I tried to fix all the problems I see with the current EU, especially its problem of democratic legitimacy. The main change would be to introduce a criteria I call the 'cross-border principle of harm' to be used to limit the cases where EU law superior to national law can be imposed by a qualified majority on nations against the will of their parliament. This is an international version of J.S. Mill's principle of harm intended to identify those cases where EU law should be acceptable to every state because it would protect that state’s citizens from harmful activities carried out in other states, e.g. the raising of protectionist trade barriers or the emission of pollutants that can be carried across national borders damaging our environment here. I also added a new 2nd tier of EU legislation to be used in all other cases (i.e. where my principle of cross-border harm cannot be satisfied) that would rank lower in the legal hierarchy than national law such that it can be overridden by national parliaments when they deem necessary. This would preserve a legal space (i.e. purely domestic issues and international issues where no principle of harm is at stake) in which our democratic national parliaments could continue to play the main role. This would also allow national elections that result in a change of government to overturn the 2nd tier EU law agreed to by their predecessors.

    In addition I included numerous institutional changes to give the 2nd chamber of national parliaments true power to block or amend draft EU legislation and also to introduce a real separation of powers that would prevent national governments from abusing the EU system to enact legislation at a European level simply to bypass democratic checks on their executive power at national level.
    http://www.adamsmith.org/publications/government/

    However following the June 2007 summit I have lost faith in the EU ever being reformed to make it democracy compatible. The post Irish referendum talk of the Continental political elites reinforces my impression that if there is ever to be a successful experiment in international democracy it will be achieved in those countries where liberty and democracy are most deeply embedded in the political culture, i.e. the English-speaking countries, plus some on the Continent such as Holland, Switzerland or the Scandinavians.

  5. Cliff
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood:

    You are of course absolutely right John.

    I am told that in order for any treaty to be ratified, all of the member nations must ratify it. Is this or is this not the case?

    If the former is indeed the case, how can they just ignore their own rules and go ahead anyway?

    What exactly will the Conservative Party do about our relationship with the EUSSR when we are returned to government?

    Will we stop further integration towards a super state?

    Will we offer a referendum on the whole question of our continued membership of the EU?

    Will the policy be decided by the party as a whole or just by Mr Cameron?

    If you could restrict your answers to the above final three questions to simply yes or no, it would be appreciated as an ambigious answer along the lines of "Mr Cameron is a Eurosceptic and we shall consider ways to strengthen our position" does not clarify where the party stands or which direction Mr Cameron will dictate the party goes.

    And finally, are you able to explain why so many of our elected politicians, both here in the UK and further afield in main land Europe, are so keen to give away their national identities and sovereignty? It seems so many politicians, (Not You John) adopt the "Nanny knows best" attitude when it comes to the EUSSR which goes very much against the views of the people they claim to represent. Just what is in it for them, as the rewards must be huge given their keeness to sell their people out?

  6. John
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the Irish will have to keep having referenda until the result suits.
    It is my opinion, that, all parties in our parliament are to blame for not seeing the way that Blair and Brown have reduced our democracy to a virtual dictatorship. They have not done enough! If things carry on like they are, I can see the possibility of revolution.

  7. Paul Williams
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    John

    The Treaty hasn't been yet been ratified by the UK – third reading next week -is there any way that further amendments can put forward to either halt the process or try to force a referendum again? Or has the Treaty now passed the point where it can be stopped unless Gordon says so?

    The Lib/Lab majority in the Lords is oikely to flag it through.

  8. AlanofEngland
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Global Vision is MY vision…try it and see…

    We believe in:-

    Maintaining open, free trading relationships across new and old Europe
    Developing mutually beneficial business and trading relationships with high growth and developing economies – including India, China and North America
    Working in collaboration with other European Nations on agreed intergovernmental programmes for regional cooperation, including the environment, transport and security.
    Opting out of the legal and institutional structures of EU economic and political integration, avoiding the costs and regulatory burdens imposed by mandatory EU legislation.

    This reflects our belief that:-

    The EU's costly and prescriptive regulations hamper British business, undermining its international competitiveness, and increasingly acting as a drag on British prosperity.
    The EU's protectionist policies, especially the Common Agricultural Policy, disadvantage developing countries.
    Britain's budgetary contributions to the EU could be better spent on cutting people's taxes or improving Britain's health, education and transport facilities.

    Accordingly, we believe that:-

    There should be a fundamental renegotiation of the existing EU Treaties, as they apply to the UK, with the aspiration that our blueprint may serve as a model for many other European countries which also prefer to develop within a looser European club or European Commonwealth.
    An open, honest, informed, non-party political debate about Britain's global future in the 21st century is required. Global Vision aims to provide a forum for this debate.
    Our vision is not just right for Britain's future, it is also:-

    Popular. In all our polls, when people are asked whether they wished to stay in the EU, withdraw completely, or preferred a ‘third way' – a relationship based on free trade and cooperation without political and economic integration – the third way is the clear option of choice.
    Politically feasible. The British Government, if so willed, could negotiate the terms of this new relationship at any time. Britain's bargaining position is strong – not least of all because it is a major market for EU exports. But Britain's bargaining power is especially strong when there are changes to the treaties because the British Government has the power of veto.
    Our vision for Britain's future is right, popular and politically feasible.

    Lord Blackwell, Chairman
    Ruth Lea, Director

  9. Mrs Smallprint
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Here here John.

    The treaty should be stopped or at the very least we should have the referendum we were promised.

  10. Rose
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I thought I was immune to the BBC's arrogant hostility to any European who wishes to retain their national independence, but since the Irish result they have surpassed themselves. They even went so far as to sound a little displeased with the IRA. The outstanding exception was Gavin Esler on Newsnight last night who was openly incredulous in the face of his interviewee's brazen refusal to engage in any discussion on those two words: "No" and "Democracy". How much does this matter?

  11. Stuart Fairney
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    What do you call an organisation who hold an election and use the full weight of the state to try to win, denounce their opponents as mad, go on despite all to lose, and the immediately announce they need another election as they aren't accepting the result of this one? Why its Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF of course, who did you think I was talking about?

  12. mikestallard
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Last night, on TV, Margaret Wallstrom simply could not understand what the fuss was about. Even when Gavin Essler shouted at her, repeatedly, "Don't you understand the word "NO"?" She simply did not seem to understand what all the fuss was about.
    She was wearing an obviously expensive coiffure and a smart, styled white jacket. Nigel Farrage, I noticed was wearing much the same kind of get up too, even though I thought he spoke well.
    Somehow they both seemed, well, alien.

    David Davis appeared too, in an open necked blue shirt. He was obviously pleased to be back in his constituency and was running about like a schoolboy. Whatever you might think about him, you would have to admit that in every way, he is English.

    The tiny detail of acting illegally is not going to stop the runaway gravy train. No way.

  13. Will S
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    It's like Yes Minister. 'We have to take on more staff in order to reduce staff'

    'We have to pass more laws in oder to reduce bureaucracy.'

  14. a very public sociol
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    There's nothing wrong with a constitutional treaty as such. After all, my old school's chess club used to have one. The big problem is this is being rammed through without any meaningful consultation with the people of the EU. It is a bureaucrat's and kleptocrat's charter. We need a different kind of EU, an EU that is democratic and accountable. And until moves are made in this direction, the EU's most vocal supporters are going to have to put up with widespread euro-scepticism.

  15. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    We should have a basic pesonal allowance of £10,000 p/a for all taxpayers , more powers for our Parliament and Brussels bureacracy being pared back to a minimum allowing small business , fishermen and farmers to be set free from the yoke of EU tyranny ! Nigel Farage is quite right about the EU never mind Gordon Brown – why does David Cameron not get it ? With even Nick Clegg sounding cool about the EU why does the Tory Leader not understand that Euro-scepticism is getting more widespread ? The federalist nightmare that is the EU has been tried to destruction and has failed badly – time to stop ruining the UK and get us out ! Eire prospers due to low taxes – not the the Euro !

  16. William B.
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    No doubt the EUSSR's next move will be to prevent us wishing a happy birthday to eurosceptics, so I'd better get in quick. Many happy returns of the day Mr Redwood.

    Reply: many thanks

  17. DennisA
    Posted June 15, 2008 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Re: Cliff

    Unfortunately, William Hague has already given us the answer. They will not do anything if the treaty has already been carried, which of course it will have been. Don't expect too much from that quarter.

    Re: John and revolution: They are already prepared for that: they have imprisonment without charge, they have several pseudo police forces, ie, Civil enforcement officers, (formerly traffic wardens), Community support officers, and the traffic police look-alikes, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). They would all be given enhanced powers in any civil unrest.

    With all the snooping powers available to local gauleiters, they will know in advance of any threats to their regime.

    Reply: The UK is a peace loving democracy and it is most important that we get change from our political leaders by democratic means.

  18. APL
    Posted June 15, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Iain: "Its the Foreign Office who have negotiated all these EU treaties, which has resulted in disenfranchising us, sidelining Parliament, and got us to pay a kings ransom for the pleasure of it."

    It ought to be said, with the tacit agreement of the politicians.

    But yes, like the BBC which should be sold off and exposed to market forces as the very first action of a new Tory administration – (a matter of life and death), the very next government organ that should be sliced off is the Foreign office. Disband it, destroy it, turn its plush offices into low cost accommodation for London's homeless.

  19. Travis Bickle
    Posted June 15, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the EU acting this way will enable us to think the unthinkable and start talking about leaving the EU altogether, or moving to the sort of associated membership that sounds pretty hunky dory to me.

    Of course the issue for Mr Cameron, if he felt inclined to follow such a path, is "what do you do with a problem like Ken Clarke?"

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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