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Roger Scruton: Border control must be at the heart of any EU renegotiations

Scruton RogerRoger Scruton is a writer and philospher.

The greatest difference between being governed by a national Parliament and being governed by a treaty is that, in the former case, law can be made immediately, in response to every change in the situation of those affected by it, and mistakes can be rectified before their full toll of destruction has been reaped. In the nature of things treaties forbid this. They exist to enforce a particular decision, made in particular circumstances, for a particular goal. And even if they include provisions for amending and adjusting as circumstances change, their immovable goal perpetuates the thinking from which they arose, long after circumstances have made it irrelevant.

Thus the Treaty of Rome included, among its four freedoms, the freedom of the labour force to move across national borders. This freedom, itself backed up by long-since exploded economic theories concerning the role played by the ‘factors of production’, seemed harmless at the time, when there was near full employment and parity of income in the member states. Everything began to change, partly as a result of the Treaty. And when the decision was taken, from which the people of Europe were, as ever, excluded, to extend membership to the newly liberated countries of Eastern Europe, the result was a mass migration from places devastated by communism to places where the rule of law, private property and representative institutions had kept in being the old spirit of Europe. Nothing could be done to stop this, we were told: at best it could be delayed. For a few years our government was able to postpone the influx from Romania and Bulgaria. Now, it seems this influx is to come, and our Parliament and our law can do nothing to prevent it.

Those who know Bulgaria and Romania will have some awareness of what this will mean, although current forms of censorship will prevent them from saying it. However, in the current discussion the principal matter is never mentioned. The greatest single problem that this country faces is not economic decline. It is over-population. Look at the real tensions in our society and you will find this always at their heart. Rising unemployment among the young, as jobs are seized by incoming workers from Eastern Europe. Escalating demands on our health and welfare system from people who have never paid a contribution to it. Ever more painful shortage of housing, and the impossibility of finding a house that a young family can afford. Threats to both town planning and the countryside from the pressure to build, and the rapid crumbling of our infrastructure, which was in recent memory the most effective in Europe. The collapse of education in our cities, as schools strive to accommodate classes in which hardly a child is a native speaker of the language. The growth of criminal networks located beyond our borders, in places where our long-standing rule of law has never been known. And so on. All these things result from a global change that was not foreseen by the founders of the European Union, and which the EU institutions cannot possibly address – which is the mass migration from places devastated by brutal forms of government to the anglosphere, and to Britain in particular. Unless controlled, this mass migration will quickly destroy our country’s remaining cultural and economic assets. But the treaties forbid us to take action, and meanwhile our government sits tinkering with irrelevant details. If there is to be a renegotiation of our EU membership, should it not have this matter as its primarily purpose – namely, to restore to our Parliament the capacity to legislate, in those matters on which our national survival depends?


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