Brussels Briefing – 24/05/2008

It is indeed a sad day when we have to rely on another country to dig us out of the hole that Gordon Brown has dropped us into.

But this is certainly the case with the Lisbon Treaty or European Constitution, which he sneaked over to sign alone in an ante-chamber in Lisbon, such was his sense of having betrayed Britain! Now we have to rely on the Irish referendum on 12th June for any hope of salvation. Ireland is the only country in Europe that will hold a referendum on the Treaty and if the Irish vote ‘YES’ then it will come into force on 1st January 2009. However, there is growing evidence that the Irish may vote ‘NO’ and save Europe from itself!

But it is us who should be voting in a referendum. Gordon Brown should hang his head in shame. He promised the people of Britain a say on the Constitution in Labour’s manifesto. Now he is determined to deny us that say. He used Labour’s huge majority to railroad the Treaty through the Commons. And he knows full well that if Westminster approves the Treaty the UK will lose sovereignty in over 60 new areas. And that won’t be the end of it.
The Lisbon Treaty contains a number of passerelle or ratchet clauses that mean all of our remaining vetoes can be taken without the need for any further Treaty and with little scrutiny in parliament. In due course we could see virtually all of our powers to fashion our own laws drained away from Westminster, Cardiff, Stormont and Holyrood and ceded to Brussels. What a disgrace.

Gordon Brown will go down in history as the Prime Minister who ruined Britain’s economy, gave away our gold reserves, nationalised Northern Rock, lost millions of child benefit records, misplaced tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, fouled up the tax credit system, and presided over a government guilty of endemic incompetence, corruption and cynicism. Now he wants to strip the UK of her remaining sovereignty and sell us out to Brussels lock, stock and barrel! Brown said he’d turn Britain into a world class society. Well he has succeeded. After eleven years of Labour Britain leads the world in teenage pregnancy, family breakdown, burglary, spy cameras, speed cameras, parking fines, wheel clamping, fuel taxes, stealth taxes, superbugs, binge drinking, drug-taking, stabbing and social disorder. Well done Gordon. World Class!

So we need help from our Celtic cousins in Ireland. But there is great anticipation in Brussels at the prospect of an Irish ‘YES’ vote. Nothing will then stand in the way of the new European Federal Superstate. Indeed the Euro elite have gone out of their way to bury dissent and delay any controversial decisions until after June 12th, in order not to frighten the Irish. For example, Peter Mandelson got into huge trouble when he accused the Irish Farmers’ Union of being liars for claiming that he would undermine Irish agriculture in his WTO talks. Given the history of the Irish Republic, a Brit accusing an Irish farmer of being a liar was sure to go down like a lead balloon! But, in his own clumsy way, I think Mandelson may have done us all a favour!

The French Finance Minister – Christine Lagarde – also got her knuckles rapped last month when she let slip that Paris was ‘determined to push for harmonised corporation taxes across Europe’ under the French presidency. This sent shivers down the spine of the Irish government where their low corporation tax – at 12.5% compared to 28% in Britain – is one of the main factors credited with creating the Tiger economy in Ireland.

Madame Lagarde was smartly told to belt up (or fermez la bouche) but her outburst neatly revealed the hidden agenda which is waiting in the wings. The Euro elite have long coveted a harmonised European tax system, arguing that the US dollar is underpinned by a federal system of taxation and the Eurozone must be no different. But once we lose our sovereign right to set our own taxes, along with all the other sovereign rights that we have haemorrhaged to Brussels, we will have lost the right to call ourselves an independent nation state. We will be a mere vassal region of the new United States of Europe.

And it doesn’t stop with harmonised taxation. Already there are daily discussions in Brussels on how to flesh out the Lisbon Treaty. Not content with simply having a European President and a European Foreign Minister, the Agriculture Committee is talking about an EU Minister for Agriculture and the Fisheries Committee is talking about an EU Minister for Maritime Affairs. Pretty soon they will a fully evolved EU Cabinet, each member of which will have been appointed, rather than elected.

The contrast with the US system couldn’t be greater. Just look at the blood-letting going on as America gets ready to choose its next President. But at least the ordinary American citizens are having their say. Whoever is finally chosen by the Democrats to take on Senator John McCain will have been chosen democratically and then we will have a full blown presidential election to decide on the eventual winner.

But here in Europe, we don’t do things that way. Democracy is something we publicly encourage but privately disparage. The Eurocrats don’t like referendums. They are all fearful of the need for a referendum in Ireland and grateful to the French and the Dutch that they have avoided asking their people to approve the Constitution a second time. They remember all too bitterly what happened the last time they asked the citizens for their opinion.

So, even although Europe has 500 million citizens, compared to America’s 350 million, there will be no question of a democratic election for the new European President. On the contrary, the current Prime Ministers and Heads of State will gather together quite soon for an informal summit and sitting around a large dinner table in Paris at the beginning of the French presidency in July, no doubt having consumed a sumptuous banquet that only Mr Sarkozy and his charming wife could provide, they will decide who is to become the first president of Europe over the Cognac and cigars. The smart money is on the tediously boring Jean Claude Juncker, current Prime Minister of tiny Luxembourg. Juncker is an arch Eurocrat who sees no difficulty in moving from presiding over 500,000 citizens to 500 million! The other front runner is Tony Blair – the Islington Colossus – who apparently has the backing of Angela Merkel.

But that is Euro democracy for you. The dinner guests in the Elysée Palace will also have to decide who will become the first European Foreign Minister, or High Representative for Foreign Affairs, as they like to call the job, lest we suspect they are simply re-instating the old Constitution….perish the thought! At least this nominee, who will also automatically assume the role of Vice President of the European Commission, will have to be grilled by the European Parliament before he or she takes up the post on 1st January next year. And this new Foreign Minister will have a vast diplomatic service at their disposal, with special EU envoys appointed to every embassy in the Union. Actually, it’s all a bit of a waste of time, as the entire Commission comes to the end of its mandate when the parliament rises for the European elections in May next year. So the Foreign Minister will only be in post for 5 months before their contract expires and they have to go through the nomination process all over again!

It is hardly democratic. It is a far cry from the kind of democratic accountability that we hold dear. The Commission and the new President of the European Council will be appointees, nominated by the Member State governments. They will not be answerable to any electorate. They will never have to stand for election. No wonder the citizens of Europe stay at home in droves when it comes to election time. They must ask themselves “what’s the point of voting if it doesn’t change anything?”

But I believe that there is a point. If we maintain our 20 point UK lead in the Polls, we will do spectacularly well in the European elections. The British Conservatives are currently the biggest single delegation of MEPs in the European Parliament. Only the CDU/CSU from Germany is bigger. Next June we could move into top place and as the biggest and most powerful delegation in the Parliament we could call the shots. So it is all to play for. We need to campaign hard in the months ahead and we need to get our vote out next June. Our success in the European elections will translate into success in the Westminster elections and that will boost our success in the Holyrood elections. We need a seamless campaign that starts now and continues through the succeeding European, Westminster and Holyrood elections until we have spectacularly increased our representation in all three Houses.