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Comments

John Leonard

Moral Minority:

Apologies for the length of this post but I think it is worth making myself clear in responding to your response.

My knowledge of the EU is just fine thank you. Unlike your good self I do not use gross supposition to justify my point. You suppose that people would back your position now. Evidence suggests they would not.

Furthermore, your position is likely to scare people off because they are not ready for what they would see as perhaps a 'sledge hammer to crack a nut'. There are far too many unanswered questions.

You seem to want to close off options that may be open and beneficial. That is not smart.

You seem to want to take opportunist action from a position of political weakness. Again that is not smart.

You also seem strangely submissive to a treaty that you oppose. Why so, unless you are using it as an affect to justify your position? If the treaty doesn't do what we want it to do, change it or ignore it.

First, let me make my position clear.

If I only have a stark choice of a centralist EU or nout I choose nout. I agree that in such a circumstances we would be 'Better Off Out'.

However, there is a long way to go before that point is reached.

There is a process to be gone through. The treaty is not signed or ratified yet. Parliament and polls have not spoken. I don't deny it would take miracle to stop the treaty now (so much for parliamentary democracy) but that process must be suffered.

Then there is the small issue of getting a party elected into Government who will actually act in the manner we desire. The Conservative Party is the only realistic option but they still need to be elected.

Furthermore, whilst there is a clear suggestion that the country is against the treaty, evidence suggests there is no clear mandate in the country yet to withdraw.

Combine that with the consideration that there are certain areas where it seems better to work with our European Neighbours (Trade, Environment, Security) and a 'Better Off Out' stance now has considerable risk associated with it.

Would a referendum on withdrawal return a mandate to withdraw, in the near future? I very much doubt it. Why would the pro-EU Libdems propose it otherwise?

As and when a Conservative Government has a clear mandate to repeal the treaty then the Leadership can go back to the EU. We will then see how the EU react.

Was it Giscard D'Estaing who has already aired the idea of the UK having some sort of 'associate membership'? Many of the original countries are sick of our resistance. It's possible they might welcome a less fractious relationship.

Furthermore, I am not one who believes treaties are rigid. In reality change occurs when it is necessary and a mandate to repeal the treaty in the UK could justify such a change. Having got a mandate it's worth seeing how the other countries react.

We then may be able to negotiate the relationship most of the country currently seems to want.

However, if the EU stonewalls us and we are left with the stark choice I mentioned earlier I suggest the people will more readily give a clear mandate to leave the EU.

At that point we hold a referendum, get the mandate and then confront the EU with the the stark reality that the people of this country want to leave.

We then leave the EU in the manner that best benefits the country. Job done.

Without the mandate, the anti-EU lobby is just spinning in the wind. If such a referendum was lost we may never get the chance again.

By attempting to gain the end goal before the people are ready you could be reducing the chances of achieving it. People in this country are not yet convinced withdrawal is a good idea.

As I said there is a process to go through and if we can maintain a satisfactory if looser, relationship with Europe we should attempt to do so if it is to our advantage.

Rather that, than following your approach which seems to me to be something akin to 'cutting our noses off to spite our faces' and in my view stands considerably less chance of success than the approach I suggest here. As I've said, your pre-emptive strike approach could put the cause back 30 years or finish it off for good.

Ellesmere Dragge

There can be no principled objection to a referendum on the Reform Treaty, provided we are properly informed:
we are presented with the finally agreed text (and that hasn't happened yet, and indeed will not happen until December);
it has been debated in Parliament; where
it is clearly shown that it represents significant departures from all existing and preceeding treaty obligations; and
all political parties have clearly expressed their reasoned and detailed views on its contents.

What there should not be is a re-run of all past debates, back to the year dot, that the green-ink ultras may have another frothing-mouthed bite at the cherry. If we are to take the issue at all seriously, then it needs to be approached at a more refined level than the tabloid posturing and titillation so far achieved.

The issue is not, repeat not membership of the EU: that has long been decided, and is not germane to the issue of the proposed Treaty. Nor is it acceptance of the previous amendments to the existing Treaty obligations. Nor is it the list of Aunt-Sally issues debunked by (for example) the front page article of today's Independent.

It might, just might be more decent and proper if the Conservative Party had a proper and comprehensive policy statement on the European Union, without confusing that big issue with other peripheral matters, and which are patently raised as distractors. Having achieved that impossibility, it only remains to develop a programme of how that policy might be implemented. Write on one side of the paper only, and avoid nonsenses like "re-negotiation".

The Huntsman

One bangs on about this but it is all very well to seek to 'repatriate' powers, but when The Union says 'No', what then?

This policy has to be worked out very carefully, given the binding legal nature of the treaty which Brown has entered into. Not only does our policy have to spell out clearly what each step is in the process but it must set out a clear objective of where we want to be when the process ends and what happens when, as is inevitable, the other 26 refuse to yield.

Without such clarity,we are but Paper Tigers.

Iain

"One bangs on about this but it is all very well to seek to 'repatriate' powers, but when The Union says 'No', what then?"

We have to repatriate powers in a similar way to how the EU has stripped us of our Sovereignty, salami slice by salami slice.

Just as the Thatcher Government came into power with a clear plan as to how they were going to take on the Unions, so we similarly have to approach the EU monstrosity. A specific issue has to identified, may be fishing policy or something, and with single-mindedness you go about repatriating that power.

Essentially its not the issue which is key in this, but setting the precedent of repatriating a power from the black hole of sovereignty that is the EU, and establishing the route by which you do that.

Dale

"Gordon Hetherington, how can you possibly say that a referendum is a cop out? Consulting our people on a major issue of national sovereignty is living democracy. I'd like to see regular refrendums on single-subject issues."

Here Here!!

I am in complete agreement. The average person cannot be put on the left/right political spectrum,but as a rule they like to run their own lives and support other centre right issues. The best thing the conservative party could do is advocate some sort of 'direct democracy' initiative wherebye the public can force a referendum by way of petition or some such.

Dale

I'm sure that if a referendum on membership was asked a certain way then it would easily be won eg shold we take back control of our trade policy even if it means leaving the eu or shoul we take back border controls or should we spend the 115 million a week on hospitals or schools etc.

Julian Melford

Louise - I'm sure you mean well, but how deeply have you looked for a Conservative europhile wing?

Apart from the well-known MEP collaborators, the federalist European People's Party have in their ranks Conservative councillors (COR-EPP group), and Conservative Future (EPP EDS group). Only last weekend, Conservative parliamentarians hopped off to Cadenabbia in Italy, for a love-in with Angela Merkel's CDU 'conservatives' at Adenauer's retreat.

Problem also is that if we break any EU commitments, we can be fined unlimited sums by its supreme court. Our courts are legally bound to support the rulings of Europe's courts that, under the terms of membership, the transfer of powers is permanent.

There is no way that 'powers can flow both ways' under the 1964 European Court judgement.

David Cameron might jog his memory back to 2005 when he said that national sovereignty is important. The stark choice is either 'In Europe, and ruled by it' or to have a new relationship with Europe under which a Conservative government is truly in power. Which would you choose?

Henry Mayhew - Ukipper

I am beginning to feel quite sorry for Louise, who is in a difficult position. She is advancing a strongly Eurosceptic position and deserves to be supported for that. It is easy for us rejectionists to claim that we are 100% right. General experience of life and history would suggest that we are unlikely to be correct.

It will be interesting to watch the development of Conservative Party policy over the next few years. I am glad that Louise will be influencing it.

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