by British Awakening – 7 Nov 2018
"L'État, c'est moi" - Louis XIV of France
For me one of the major irritations in the referendum debate is the way many on the remain side contend that the United Kingdom and its parliament is sovereign. All too many on both sides of the debate labour under the impression that the EU is an inter-governmental arrangement, a sort of NATO for trade. Few realise how much control of this country has been handed over to the European Union in the past forty years or so. Fewer still understand how much of what happens in this country is decided in Brussels and not London.
British politicians have gone to great lengths to pretend to the people of this country that we are members of a friendly trade club. The EU however has been very clear what this is about, the creation of a Federal States of Europe. The EU also has a clearly explained structure, it has an executive in the form of the European Commission, a Council of Ministers that supervise the commission, a court and a parliament (I know - lets leave that one for now). It really requires a phenomenal feat of mental gymnastics to pretend the EU does not see itself as a state particularly when they explain it to you on their web site.
Now there is an argument for a Federal Europe, I accept that, I don’t wish to be part of it but I take the argument at face value because it is a logical belief. What I will not accept is the argument that we are somehow a sovereign nation despite giving away so much control of our country to an anti democratic supranational entity.
This argument matters so much now, as our country draws to the end of the Article 50 protocols. At the end of March next year we either leave the EU with a deal or crash out without one. My views on falling back onto WTO are well known - I favoured leaving within the EFTA pillar of the EEA, this is pretty much academic since this option has not been explored. The deal we will be offered is the one being negotiated by the Prime Minister.
I am not privy to the details of the deal she is working on but the reaction to her favoured ‘Chequers’ proposal has been covered in much detail elsewhere. Unlike many other commentators on the developments I don’t think Theresa May intends to betray the country, I just don’t think she is up to the job and even if she was I don’t think she has been very well supported - our entire Civil Service having long ago ensured only those that supported the EU had any prospect of a career. I am fairly certain she will return with a deal, it will be a poor one of that I am sure but we only had a couple of strong cards to play and they were wasted at the outset.
She has allowed Tony Blair to backchannel with the EU and to use his detailed knowledge of the Good Friday agreement to weaponise the Irish Border question. She agreed almost a year ago to the EU proposed backstop. The deal she returns with will probably keep the UK in some form of Customs Union during the transition period. More expert commentators such as Dr Richard North have pointed out that the Customs Union does not solve the border issue it is regulatory alignment that is the issue. For the sake of argument let us say it does park the problem, whilst not ideal I could live with it - but here is the kicker, we will not be allowed to leave it without the EU agreeing for us to do so.
In a way I hope it comes to that because with startling clarity the sovereignty issue will be there for all to see. Parliament if it is indeed sovereign can make or unmake any law. Sign up to such a deal and the mantra that no parliament can bind a future parliament will no longer be true, parliament will not by any definition be sovereign, someone else is. Give it time, the penny will drop.
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.