The very deed of having to write a letter to Donald Tusk about how we chose to govern the UK should alert UK voters to the profound change in our democracy and constitution put through by stealth in various EU Treaties. Each voter should learn of the plans for political union in the 5 Presidents Report on the future of the EU and the Euro, and ask how can the UK fit into such a far reaching constitution? Each voter should remember that the German government does think that in due course the UK should join the Euro and be in the whole scheme. Germany sees the Euro as a necessary part of the discipline of the single market.
The UK government is seeking changes in five areas. Those who have criticised them for not setting out before their negotiating aims are being unfair. The Prime Minister called for fundamental change in his Bloomberg speech, and identified the need to bring powers back. He grasped the need to restore UK democracy by restoring the power of the British people to make the changes they want through their own Westminster Parliament. I gave the aim of fundamental reform to restore our democracy in that speech my support.
Today’s letter will fall well short of the noble aim to restore democratic accountability through national Parliaments. It will doubtless say he seeks a greater role for national Parliaments, but this will be interpreted as meaning some limited power for national Parliaments to hold up or avoid future legal and policy changes. That will not restore to the UK the right to settle her own borders or determine her own welfare policies. That means that we will need to vote to leave the EU to get back control of our own affairs.
It will say they need to end the message that we are embarked on a journey to ever closer union. They may well remove the message, but that is not the same as removing the reality. The move to ever closer union is built into the current treaties we have signed, and drives the verdicts of the European Court and the decisions of the Commission. We are on a wild ride to political union, though the UK has never wanted that or consented.
It will ask for limits to the amount of welfare we have to pay to recently arrived migrants from within the EU. There may be concessions made to help us. They are unlikely to concede the principle that the UK and the UK alone should be free to decide who will receive in work and out of work benefits.
It will ask for more progress in constructing the single market, and in promoting trade deals at the EU level. The rest of the EU will willingly consent to this, as it strengthens the role of the EU over more of our lives. They will also probably genuflect to the UK wish for some deregulation, but overall this year and next year, as last year, the volume and impact of EU regulation will increase.
The government also seeks safeguards for non Euro members to avoid us having to pay the bills and accept the extra controls the Euro will require. As the Chancellor recently pointed out, the UK thought it had a watertight agreement that we would not have to play any part in future bail outs of Euro countries, only to be told the UK did have to participate in the recent bridging loan for Greece. This demonstrates that anything we want needs to be put into the Treaties themselves to guarantee it.