Like most of the British public, I felt a palpable sense of disappointment when the result of the Government’s EU renegotiations was announced. Despite several days of seemingly fraught talks, there was none of the promised reclamation of powers for Britain. Certainly, the promised border controls and limits on migrant benefits completely failed to materialise. It was a national let-down from which the Remain campaign has never fully recovered.
Yet one party emerged from the talks, if not jumping for joy, then surreptitiously rubbing their hands in glee. In return for the insubstantial fig leaf of a deal that the Government has spun into a ‘reformed European Union’, the European Council collected the biggest scalp of all; they persuaded us to surrender our veto over any integrationist legislation that they will impose in relation to the deepening monetary union.
Normally, a European Union treaty negotiation provides a lever for us to get concessions which we believe to be in our national interest and, in return, we agree to measures that others would like to see incorporated into European law.
Next time it will be different. As the Eurozone prepares for “the deepening” of economic and monetary union, in order to deal with the catastrophe that is the single currency, we will have no voice at the table. As part of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, we agreed in advance to give away our veto over this particular treaty. In fact, it is worse than that. The text of the renegotiation specifically states that “Britain shall not impede the implementation of legal acts directly linked to the functioning of the Euro area” and “will not create obstacles to but facilitate such further deepening”.
In other words, Britain will be subject to laws, regulations and a budget set by the Eurozone countries as they seek to convert the Eurozone into a political union.
The Remain campaign say that the veto would never be needed anyway. They point to the vague promise, extracted from the EU at such great cost, that Britain will be exempted from any future measures designed purely for the Eurozone.
Yet to assert that this exemption, which has yet to be legally ratified in a treaty change, will protect the UK from the creeping tendrils of political union is either seriously misguided or a conscious ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach, wilfully ignoring the political and legal realities of the European Union.
The ultimate ambition of the European project is the creation of a continent-wide superstate, with 500 million people answerable to the European Commission and parliament. This treaty is just one more step on the road to ever closer union, and the argument that it will not affect the United Kingdom just won’t wash. The EU’s budgetary mechanisms, used to determine the size of the contributions made by individual states, are determined by economic performance. The better the UK performs, the more we are financially penalised by Brussels. At the height of the Eurozone crisis, Brussels demanded more money from Britain, forcing us to share their misery despite opting out of the euro.
The financial powerhouse of the City of London, Britain’s runaway economic success story, is eyed with jealousy and greed by the other countries of the EU. In the wake of the Eurozone crisis, greater integration of the Union’s banking systems was begun, and the UK is finding it increasingly difficult to protect our financial services industry from EU control. A torrent of legislation will be passed to curtail the economic freedoms that are the foundation of this country’s prosperity, and none of it will be stopped by our costly ‘exemption’ from political integration. Once the EU has a stranglehold on our economy, we will have no choice but to submit to Brussels politically.
The fact remains that our veto was the strongest bargaining chip that we had against the EU, and we surrendered it for nothing. The failure of the Government to bring forward the sovereignty bill in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech means that the European Courts will continue to take precedence over the democratically elected government in Westminster.
Despite the platitudes of the renegotiation, ever closer union will continue to be imposed on us by stealth, as our economic freedom is subsumed by Brussels and the ratchet is tightened on our taxpayers, who will pay to enact this affront to democracy. Britain’s veto is gone for good, but on the 23rd of June we have one last chance to stop this nightmare from becoming reality.
(Image: Ozzie Delaney)
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