The second EU debate was bad tempered and repetitious. The strange thing about it was the posture and tactics adopted by Nick Clegg.
Like the other small band of vocal pro EU politicians in UK politics, Nick promised us he would make the case for the EU but spent most of his time minimising the EU’s importance and playing down or denying the EU’s main strategic aims and direction of travel.
There will be no EU army , he promised us. What about the 60,000 troops available as a Rapid Reaction force already? What about the call for the EU to have drones and border protections? What about all the features of the Common Foreign and Security Policy?
There will be no more big transfers of power worthy of a referendum any time soon, he assured us. Has he not noticed the big transfers of power to complete the EU’s control of banking and financial services going on on his watch? Has he not seen the latest moves to extend and strengthen the EU’s climate change and energy policy? Has he forgotten that he is advocating within government a big transfer of power over our Criminal Justice system through a series of proposed opt ins? Has he not understood the significance of the ECJ gaining power over European human rights? Why do none of these warrant a referendum?
He told us he is against so much EU red tape. When did he last secure the repeal of any of it? Why has he gone along with a big increase in the volume of Directives, Regulations and consequential UK Statutory Instruments, if he thinks there is already too much red tape?
Just like last time, he concentrated on the big lie that we would lose jobs if we left the EU because they would deliberately damage their trade with us. He does not explain why he has such a poor opinion of our EU partners that he thinks they would spite themselves to do us harm, yet he wants to be in ever closer union with these self same countries. There is no way Germany will want to stop exporting to us as they sell us so much more than we sell them, so their Finance Minister has already said there would have to be a good trade agreement between the UK and the EU.
He added the extraordinary claim that just 7% of our laws come from Brussels. I guess he gets to that very low figure by leaving out the bulk of EU law which is implemented in the UK by means of Statutory Instruments under the 1972 Communities Act. No-one sensible accepts his definitions, and some will also querying his counting. The majority of UK law comes from the EU these days on most definitions.
I could understand someone with passion making the case for the full blown political, economic and monetary union that will be the completed EU. I would not agree for the UK, but could appreciate the vision. They would want the Ode to Joy to take precedence over the UK anthem, want the European Parliament to make most of our laws on the advice of the Commission, want there to be a common foreign and security policy which we supported and helped, want there to be s single currency and economic area, and would accept free movement of people. That agenda is the agenda of most of pro EU Europe.
Mr Clegg tried to make out such an agenda does not exists. He should get out more, and travel to the continent more often. Then he might find out the true nature of the cause he claims to support, and might then come home and make the case for the EU as France and Germany wish it to be. It is no good the pro EU people continuing to disguise it as some greater trade area, when it has gone far beyond that in design, ambition and even in execution.
Until he does that, I and many others will not believe him.