Monday 13 September 2010

Horse On The Horizon, But Stable Door Now Secure

Look at Europe Minster David Lidington's face in this Telegraph article. It's that satisfied 'job well done' face. And so should he be happy, as - lumbered with the hot potato of EU membership post Lisbon - Lidington reckons he may have placated Tory Eurosceptics with this masterful wheeze.

The Government will announce plans for a “referendum lock” on any future surrendering of British powers to the European Union.

The amendment, which could be law by next year, will allow for a vote if there is “any transfer of powers away from the UK and towards the centre”, according to a Whitehall source.

It would cover any future treaty – successors to the previous Maastricht, Nice and Lisbon treaties – or any large scale transfer of power outside those treaties.

British legal advisers in Brussels would determine whether a transfer of power had taken place. MPs would then be given the chance to vote on holding a referendum. If they vote in favour, a referendum would be held.

“This doesn’t apply to Accession Treaties [when a new country joins the EU], or to other minor changes which do not transfer power.”
Very good, David, have a biscuit.

However, as you may have spotted, the operative word above is 'future', when placed before 'treaty'. Because, as Gawain has mentioned today, there is very little of our sovereignty left after Lisbon.

A promise to offer a referendum on any future Treaty, you say. But not treaties that involve enlargement.

The thing is that only Treaties to come are the ones involving the enlargement. The UK government formally supports the entry of Croatia and Turkey (the only two on the horizon) also Liddington is specifically excluding enlargement Treaties from the scope of his act.
Gawain further points to article 48.7 of the Lisbon Treaty (page 51). This is entitled 'Simplified Revision Procedure' or, to put it in layman's terms, the clause which allows the EU to change just about whatever they feel like, whenever they bastard well choose.

Where the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for legislative acts to be adopted by the Council in accordance with a special legislative procedure, the European Council may adopt a decision allowing for the adoption of such acts in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Any initiative taken by the European Council on the basis of the first or the second subparagraph shall be notified to the national Parliaments. If a national Parliament makes known its opposition within six months of the date of such notification, the decision referred to in the first or the second subparagraph shall not be adopted. In the absence of opposition, the European Council may adopt the decision.

For the adoption of the decisions referred to in the first and second subparagraphs, the European Council shall act by unanimity after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, which shall be given by a majority of its component members.
So, Lisbon is quite adequate for the needs of the EU, ta very much. If it doesn't cover everything they have envisaged, it can be easily amended. Any nation which objects - which Britain wouldn't as Lisbon isn't included in this 'referendum lock' - would have just six months to do so.

Now, even if Lisbon was included in Lidington's act of defiance, which it is not, the timescale suggests a referendum would be extremely difficult to implement, and why would parliament want to do something like that anyway when there is no need to do so under Lisbon, and even an objection is just one among 27 nations. In a collective where there are always more than 13 states willing to sign anything to keep their net profitable membership, it would be just a bow and arrow against the lightning storm.

There's just one more clue in the Telegraph piece as to the sleight of hand being employed here.

Officials suggested that referendums could be triggered if the UK was asked to give up its veto over sensitive areas such as foreign policy or security.
Which, oddly enough, is the only part of our sovereignty that Lisbon doesn't seek to control ... yet.

This subparagraph shall not apply to decisions with military implications or those in the area of defence.
He's a clever chappie is David.

He has promised a referendum on any treaty the EU puts forward in the future - except ones that the government have already committed to - while simultaneously excluding the treaty which has eradicated the need for any future treaties.

Inspired stuff. No wonder he looks such a happy and contented fella.

Now, if he was truly serious about defending our sovereignty against the inexorable march of the EU, there is a clue here as to how it could have been done.

Ministers will introduce the right to hold a referendum by amending the original 1972 European Communities Act under which Britain joined the Common Market.
Hmm. Call me cynical, and all that, but if the 1972 Act can be amended, could it not also be repealed pending ... I dunno, a referendum of the British people?

That horse won't be seen round these parts again, but doesn't Cameron's newly-varnished stable door look nice?


Trooper Thompson said...

I think you've summed it up pretty much. As for our sovereignty, it's a bit like the old joke: the patient's dead, but on the good side his condition has stablised.

Captain Ranty said...


I KNOW you shot my family but by fuck, you just try to buy bullets round here mister! No sale! So there!

As long as we have twats like this running our country in any way, shape, or form, we are fucked. Sans lubrication.

And just to milk TT's line, it reminds me of the old good news/bad news thing:

Doc: Look, the bad news is that we had to take both your legs off.

Patient: And the good news?

Doc: The bloke two beds down wants to buy your slippers.


Angry Exile said...

Doug Carswell's take on it yesterday was good: it's worthless, minsters know it's worthless, Lisbon means there won't need to be any treaties on which to have referenda.

How are those boiling frogs? Nearly done yet?

Anonymous said...

As hollow as a balloon....

When left to think for themselves it would appear that many populations across Europe aren't keen for the federalism to grow. They aren't that stupid.

The BIG problems are the cowardice of most of the politicians and the wholesale warping of the subject in the wibbly wobbly lens of the meejah - the sock puppet editorial guidelines that drive most of the reporting of anything EU must be long and detailed....

Billy Blofeld said...

Excellent post Dick.......

Captain Haddock said...

Its fast approaching the time when all right-thinking Britons should be seriously considering a declaration of UDI from Europe, in order to re-take our own country ..

Its up to those of us who are sick & tired of this farce to act .. and, if needs be to back that declaration up with action, not merely words

Never mind whether the benefit-dependent chavs aren't interested & wouldn't support the action, they'd probably never even notice ..

There are only 646 in Parliament .. We outnumber them vastly ..

mark said...

I think the recent Germany - Greece bailout war of words exposed the deep-seated fundamental differences in culture that still exist between European nations.

Further integration attempts will lead to more and more examples of laws being forced upon unwilling populaces. I can foresee a time not too distant when even the British will start to simply ignore laws that deeply offend their sensibilities - even if the laws have been incorporated into law via Westminster.

Referendums are useless. They are either ignored (that's why we have the Lisbon Treaty) or they are repeated again and again until the desired Yes is achieved - the so called Neverendums.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"British legal advisers in Brussels would determine whether a transfer of power had taken place."

You could have ended the post right there, really. Says it all.