Posted by: secretperson | December 14, 2007

Brown’s Betrayal – EU Treaty Signed

The papers and news websites are hardly giving this the prominence it deserves, the BBC had this yesterday, which is now off the Europe headlines. The Telegraph, EUsceptic and leader of a referendum campaign has this but it’s hardly prominently placed. Anyway Gordon finally signed the EU constitution (aka treaty), despite initially being unsure if he could make it, and finally turning up late, in a stupid stunt that pleased no-one. No EUsceptics will be impressed that he was slightly rude, the only leader to miss the signing, the point is he signed it anyway.

Don’t worry though the news will get through because now the real fight begins. Signing is done, it just means we can’t negotiate the terms of agreement any more. What we have now is a concrete document to study, and a parliamentary ratification process. The treaty will probably get ratified, but the Conservatives have to make this news, make it difficult in parliament to ratify without a referendum. The right wing papers should be on the side of a referendum. A few Labour MPs might rebel, and hopefully the Lib Dems will too.

There are a few basic arguments for a referendum. The most basic is that all three leading parties promised one in their manifestos. OK the name has changed from Constitution to Treaty, but nobody is fooled. It would be intellectually dishonest to use this semantics to avoid a promise.

A referendum should be given whenever sovereignty is ceded. Parliament acts as the representatives of the people, exercising power on the behalf of the people, at least in theory. The power is not theirs to give away without asking the people they have borrowed it from. Let’s be clear, removal of vetos is removal of power, even if 100% of the British public didn’t want something, and 100% of their MPs didn’t there is nothing we could do if outvoted in Europe. That is sovereignty given away. Add to that the dubious nature of the ‘red lines’, which mean future parliaments could be bound by EU court rulings and we have a clear case for a referendum.

Apart from the having a vote issue, is the issue of which way to vote. Is the treaty, as Labour claim, good for Britain? Is it moving ever closer towards the EU as a country? Is this something we want? I would argue that we should leave the EU and join the European Free Trade Area like Norway and Switzerland. We are already following a different course to a lot of Europe, with no Euro and no Schengen agreement. Mostly Britain seems to want the market and free movement, not political pooling of powers. Why not make it official instead of messy opt-outs, which inevitably become unwanted opt-ins.

Anyway, now is the time our elected representatives can do their job, and give us the referendum they promised. Brown won’t budge. While desperately defending Britishness and the Union at home, he has ceded more British powers to the EU abroad. But it still has to pass parliament. I urge everyone who cares to let your MPs know how you feel and that they will be punished at the ballot box for breaking their commitments. Now is the time for action.

The game’s afoot

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