There are Euroskeptics, and then there is the Daily Mail's Peter Hitchins. Mr. Hitchins believes that Britian would best be served by withdrawing from the EU in toto and then negotiating trade rights. In light of the looming economic debacle as set forth here and here, and for a host of other reasons set out below, I concur. This from Mr. Hitchins:
. . . [The EU] has become more and more unpopular since 1975, as those who are paying attention (or are personally affected) have come to realise that the supposed crackpots of 1975 -Tony Benn and Enoch Powell - were actually quite right. Just as they warned, we were being asked to give away our national independence and this was the most important issue. Those who are dismissed as 'bonkers' almost always do turn out to be right later on, and there is probably a historical study to be done about this.
The obvious conclusion from this is that we should now leave. We were sold a fraudulent prospectus nearly 33 years ago. We have since suffered quite badly as a country, economically and politically - the full cost has been detailed by Christopher Booker and Richard North in a series of books, the best of all being 'The Great Deception' - books largely ignored by many reviewers and journals. We have held back ( quite rightly) from plunging fully into the project, so that we still more or less retain our own currency and our own legal system , our own diplomatic service and our own armed forces, so there is not too much unscrambling to do. And there is a strong, reasoned case for negotiating an amicable departure. If Norway and Switzerland, both far smaller and less globally-connected than we, can negotiate individual terms with the EU, then why can't we?
Now, I am not saying these terms would be perfect. But thanks to the existence of the World Trade Organisation, the EU simply cannot erect huge trade barriers against us, as it could once have done, and would be crazy to do so anyway - as it sells far more to us than we do to it. Mexico, most certainly not an EU member, has excellent trade terms with the EU. If we want to keep the much-touted rights to live and work in the EU, we no doubt can. Norwegians and Swiss nationals have them. They even have - which we should never agree to - passport-free travel to and from EU countries.
To the extent that we wish to trade with the EU, we would be under pressure to agree to EU rules about what we sell. We would no doubt have to pay some sort of contribution to obtain the 'benefits' of EU membership. But we would be able to negotiate this from a position of strength much more advantageous than the one a British prime Minister now finds himself in at Euro-summits. They want our markets far more than we need theirs. We would have no need to need to accept the supremacy over our Parliament of the European Court of Justice at Luxembourg. We would not be obliged to enact EU commission directives as British Acts of Parliament. We could issue our own passports in whatever colour we preferred (I favour a stiff-backed blue booklet myself) and (as does the USA and...Thailand) we could give our own citizens (we might let them become subjects again) greater rights to enter the country than persons from Lithuania or Romania. We could halt the absorption of our independent diplomatic service into the EU's. We could make our own individual trade agreements with the USA, and wouldn't need to get caught in trade wars between Washington and Brussels, as we frequently have been in the past. We could withdraw from the European arrest warrant system, and ignore the new 'Human Rights' commission in Vienna which is shortly to be the fount of political correctness across the EU.
All this is practicable, possible and well within our abilities as a major nation, quite grown up enough to manage on its own. The only reason it doesn't happen is that the leaderships of the main political parties won't put such a case to the British people. That is because they are both firmly biased in favour of our absorption into the Superstate, for reasons they have never been required to explain because they have never faced coherent opposition.
The large but powerless minority who understand the issue and know we could go it alone remain just that - a large and powerless minority. . .
But the energy which ought to be going into this is wasted on a thing called 'Euroscepticism', a political position as futile as its name is unwieldy. MPs in both major parties fritter away their energies on micro-complaints about the detailed operation of the EU, or individual issues of EU membership, while veering away from the issue of membership itself which is in fact the only point at which these wrongs can be righted. Their behaviour allows the party leaderships to treat the matter as an argument between those who want Britain to me more European EU and those who want Britain to be less European.
Next time a Tory (or Labour) MP tells you he or she is a 'Eurosceptic. Ask them just how long it is they are going to continue sitting in the middle of the road. They have been doubting this project now for decades. Isn't it time they made up their minds whether they support or oppose it? Nothing will happen until they openly oppose it. Those of you who continue to have illusions about the Useless Tories should note that Tory MPs who sign up to the 'Better off Out’ organisation seem to come under mysterious pressure to withdraw. . . . Nothing will happen until the two major parties begin to collapse, and that's most easily begun with the Tories. . . .
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When the British Parliament passes the Lisbon Treaty, the vast bulk of Britain's sovereign powers will be transferred to the EU. The Britain that gave to the world the concepts of democracy, capitalism, free trade, individual rights, representative government and a nation of laws will be lost to history. For that reason alone, this will be a giant step backwards for freedom.
Britain, has long been our most important ally. That relationship will be completely altered if not substantially ended when Britain goes from the status of a sovereign nation to that of a province of the EU. With the passage of this Treaty, if not now, then soon we will only be dealing diplomatically with the EU.
The only reason I could ever identify for the British government's desire to transfer the sovereignty of its nation to the EU is that such an act is the ultimate expression of the British left's disdain for the history and traditions of their own country. They view the colonial history of Britain as evil. Thus, for the multicultural left, the chance to create a socialist utopia by transferring the sovereignty of Britain makes complete sense.
But what about Conservative support for this insane transfer of sovereignty to the EU? It certainly exists - and indeed, has been the major schism in the Tory Party since the time Margaret Thatcher turned against the EU. That has long been, to me at least, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
The EU itself a huge experiment in non-democratic socialism that thrives on centralized power. It has no internal checks and balances. It is the antithises of democratic, free market, small government conservatism. Thus, I have never been able to understand how anyone who calls themself a "conservative" could do anything other than hold up the sign of the cross to ward off the EU at the mere mention of its name. Yet that is certainly not what has occurred with Britain's Conservative Party.
Peter Hitchens explained it in an earlier post that suggests the desire of Conservatives to join the EU was initially a failure to understand precisely the nature of the beast. But today, the true allure of the EU is that it provides a gravy train for Britain's political class.
. . . Note, specially, the behaviour of the Tory Party. People sometimes ask why I call them 'useless'. Well, here's an example. You get a lot of something called 'Euroscepticism' from Tories. It's a stupid word and it describes a worthless thing.
They act as if they are against the EU grabbing our power and money, and talk sternly about how they disapprove.
But David Cameron, William Hague and Malcolm Rifkind are clear that, if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, that will be that. In the (highly unlikely) event of them coming to power, they won't hold a referendum because, oh dear, it will be too late.
In doing this, they are part of a great tradition. Harold Macmillan first sought British entry to the Common Market in 1962. Then Ted Heath succeeded in getting it, ramming our membership through Parliament with characteristic ruthlessness and sacrificing Britain's fisheries industry for his ambition.
When, in 1975, Harold Wilson held a referendum on staying in, Margaret Thatcher campaigned vigorously for Britain to remain in the Market, sporting a jumper bearing the flags of member states.
When she came to office, she pushed through the Single European Act, a huge surrender of British vetoes. Then she was bludgeoned by Cabinet colleagues into entering the Exchange Rate Mechanism.
By the end of her premiership, she had begun to realise what was at stake. But it was precisely because of this that the Tory Party then threw her out of office.
John Major went on to browbeat and bully his MPs into voting for the Maastricht Treaty, yet another huge surrender of independence.
Mr Cameron represents a firm return to the Europhile days before Lady Thatcher's rebellion.
When it comes to action, the Tory Party will continue to support the EU because they have been committed to it since the Sixties, and cannot admit that this was a mistake.
But they also recognise how unpopular it is, which is why they pretend to be hostile and invented 'Euroscepticism' to console disgruntled voters.
The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to unscramble. My advice is not to be diverted by campaigns for a referendum that will get us nowhere.
It is to consider, very carefully, whether you will be able to look your children and grandchildren in the face when, 20 years hence, they ask: "What did you do to stop the country being taken over by a foreign power?"
I shall continue, week by week, to suggest ways in which you might be able to ensure that they never need to ask that question.
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