Having upset the rest of Europe with his silly attempts to pursude the Czechs not to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, David Cameron has produced a nonsensical Europe policy that would prove impossible to implement. And he’s made a daft attempt to give it an Obama-sounding title – ‘A policy on Europe that people can believe in’ – that is just so embarrassing.
At the heart of his proposal is a Sovereignty Bill which will, ‘make it clear that ultimate authority stays… in our Parliament,’ and is supposed to offer succour to Eurosceptics. Naturally, they’ve not been fooled and the obvious people have resigned in protest.
Cameron’s Sovereignty Bill also appears to conflict with his first pledge not, ‘to transfer power to the EU without the British people’s consent.’ With no formal mechanism for referenda in the British constitution, plebiscites are merely advisory and while it’s inconceivable that parliament would fail to follow the electorate’s advice, it retains the right to do so. This referenda act would apparently change all that: a significant constitutional change that would contradict the sovereignty act’s commitment to parliament.
More important to the Eurosceptics, nobody thinks the Sovereignty Act would mean that the UK would cease to honour its treaty obligations, including those that require it to incorporate EU directives into UK law. Other countries need to be able to trust that when Britain signs an international treaty it will abide by that treaty.
Cameron then signs up to the Thatcherites’ wet dream of Europe. He intends, for example, to ‘negotiate the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation.’ This is code for turning the British economy into one driven by cheap disposable labour. The hope is that multinationals will then move their operations out of other EU countries and into the UK. Naturally, no other EU country would be foolish enough to agree to that. Jacques Delors took on Thatcher and won two decades ago on exactly the same issue. Cameron would need 26 sovereign nations to unanimously agree that British workers should be allowed to undercut their workers.
Not surprisingly, Eurosceptics are increasingly throwing their hands in the air and saying we should leave, claiming the EU, ‘is a project of the elites, for the elites.’ A particularly disingenuous statement given that the British workers in line for conversion to cheap disposable labour are obviously the least well off members of our society.
The least well off – not wealthy Tory leaders who worked just seven years before entering politics – are also the ones who would suffer most from the economic shock that would follow the blow to employment that would come with the re-imposition of duty on our exports to Europe and from our highly inflationary re-imposition of duty on imports from Europe.
All in all, David Cameron’s ‘A policy on Europe that people can believe in’ is fooling nobody, least of all his own party.