Rhetorical Gymnastics

In the forthcoming referendum; if you’re a Eurosceptic, how do you justify voting “Remain?

The forthcoming In/Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union has been described as the most important election in our lifetimes, and I believe it is.

So, how does a Eurosceptic justify voting for the UK to remain a Member of the EU?

I have just read the most extraordinary, even weird, article, by William Hague, senior Tory and at one time a self-professed Eurosceptic, in the Telegraph, 22nd December 2015, which appears to answer that question.

In it he starts by saying, “I am often asked whether the years I spent in EU meetings and negotiations made me less Eurosceptic than when I toured the country 15 years ago with my “Save the Pound” campaign. The answer to that is “no.”

Though to be sure, once you’ve read the article, it’s clear his answer should really be “Yes.

He then goes on to list many of the arguments, slightly watered-down, for voting to leave. Starting with the unelected Politburo, he writes, “The Commission itself, generally the best-performing of the EU institutions, could benefit from the spending cuts and rigour to which most national governments have been subjected.”

Of course it’s the “Best performing;” compared to the bureaucratic behemoths that are the other “EU institutions.” The EUSSR Politburo is unelected & therefore totally unaccountable, and it only has 28 members, plus a President. It can do exactly what it wants, without restraint, and does. It is also the source; the originating body of all EU laws.

William continues, “The European Court of Justice has pushed the boundaries of treaties and is capable of imposing burdens on businesses which suggest a detachment from reality;” and I have no argument with that. It now has more power over us, than the US Supreme Court does over US States.

He then says, “As to the European Parliament, it does not remotely provide democratic accountability for the simple reason that most voters across Europe do not take elections to it seriously and are not usually aware of the identity of their MEPs. It is not possible to be accountable and anonymous at the same time.”

All that is true; but he fails to mention that the European Parliament is also powerless. It can originate no laws; they all originate in the Politburo. It can and must ratify or reject them. If MEP’s reject a law it goes back to the Politburo for “amendment”; and is then presented for ratification again. If rejected a second time, it will be ratified by the Council of Ministers, or the Politburo itself. In other words, once issued by the Politburo, a decree will be ratified; exactly as used to happen in the USSR. I must add that this rejection process has never been tested; MEP’s have never rejected anything.

William goes on, “The result is that the EU really is remote, expensive and over-regulating.” I can’t argue with that either; but would add that it is utterly undemocratic as well.

He ends the Eurosceptic section of the article thus; “Even more worryingly, some of the most cherished projects of European unity are in deep trouble — the Schengen zone buckling under the weight of new migration, and the euro bedevilled by flaws which were obvious at the start. There is a legitimate question as to whether the EU can survive in its current form two or three decades from now.” Yes, that is a “legitimate question;” and there is no doubt in my mind that it cannot survive, “in its current form” much more than a decade.

In order to survive longer, it will have to achieve its stated goal of “Ever Closer Union;” that means more central control, less accountability and even less democracy; the end result being an even more complete facsimile of the Soviet Union. And, just like the USSR it will eventually collapse.

William Hague’s article then takes a decided turn for the weird; as he continues, “Yet here I part company with these fellow critics of the EU, distinguishing between deploring the state of an organisation and deciding it is best to leave it.”

Personally I’d reckon that, “deploring the state of an organisation,” which we have no hope of improving, is an excellent reason for leaving it forthwith.

William goes on, “I wait, first of all, for the outcome of the negotiations the Prime Minister has launched, the importance of which should not be underestimated in continental capitals.” Oh, come off it! We all know, “the outcome of the negotiations;” next to nothing.

After all, Cameron didn’t ask for anything more than trivia, and is not going to get all of that.

When he returns with a few irrelevant scraps in his begging-bowl, the pro-EU spin-machine will go into overdrive presenting these pathetic scraps as a victory; hard-won concessions from the EU; the “Fundamental, Far-reaching changes” we were promised.

Without actually describing it; it is Cameron’s predictable triumphant return to which Hague unconsciously refers, when he continues, “What happens at the end of them will make a huge difference to sentiment in the Conservative Party, the perceptions of the media, the unity of the Government, and the view of British voters as to whether Europe is capable of positive change.”

The dizzyingly spun “Fundamental, Far-reaching changes” will indeed affect the, “…sentiment in the Conservative Party, as to whether Europe is capable of positive change;” if they’re stupid enough to believe it; a lot probably will be;

“…the perceptions of the media as to whether Europe is capable of positive change;” if they’re stupid enough to believe it; but most of them won’t be;

“…the unity of the Government,” is doomed anyway, even if they’re stupid enough to believe that Europe is capable of positive change; they won’t be, but some will pretend to;

“…and the view of British voters as to whether Europe is capable of positive change;” they will not all be stupid enough to believe it; I doubt that British voters will let the government pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes again. There will be plenty of us out there telling them the truth.

William continues, “After that, even those of us who have poured scorn on the EU’s failings should assess dispassionately if it (is) in the true interests of our country to depart it.” Most of us have already done that; it is unfathomable how anyone who has “poured scorn on the EU’s failings,” could even consider voting to remain in an organisation doomed to fail completely within a couple of decades.

He says, “The arguments about what is best for our economy will rage back and forth,” and he’s right there, but quite utterly wrong when he continues, “Those who say we have to be in the single market to shape it and benefit from it have the edge,”

“Have the edge”? No, they won’t.

Cameron’s failure to get even a modicum of his “demanded,” but imaginary “Fundamental, Far-reaching changes” must be proof that the UK hasn’t a snowball’s-chance-in-Hell of “shaping” anything. We never have managed to shape, change, or reform the EU, despite vowing to do so many times; and we’re not about to now.

Hague then adds, “For me, there will be two other major factors, which have not yet featured much in the early jousting ahead of the referendum, but which cannot be ignored. One is that, amid all the clumsy bureaucracy and failed ideas, the EU has provided the structure and the standards for new democracies across central Europe to establish themselves after their many decades of tyranny and tragedy.”

What on earth does that actually mean? The Institutions of the EU wouldn’t recognise true democracy if they was hit over their heads with it.

The countries of “Central Europe” found democracy were mainly guided into democracy at the end of World War Two, by the Western Powers, long before the EU, or even the EEC existed.

If by “Central Europe” Hague means the countries that were once part of the Soviet Bloc; that is actually Eastern Europe. (Rather an odd mistake by a former Foreign Secretary;) and they found democracy for themselves.

Examples of the EU providing anything to these nations include its “contribution” to events in the former Yugoslavia, where the EU couldn’t agree a policy, and were disastrously ineffective; leaving the UN & NATO to do what they could to clear up the mess. Then there is the EU providing “structure and the standards” in Ukraine; that’s working out really well…

William continues, “And, crucially, this job is not yet done, for if the countries of the Western Balkans are shut out of European institutions, their festering divisions will create one crisis after another, on our own continent, of political turmoil, economic failure and uncontrolled migration.” Sorry, but even if these countries are included within, “European institutions, their festering divisions will create one crisis after another,” within the EU, hastening its downfall even more; Ukraine & Greece are fine examples of how incapable & ineffective the EU is when it comes to, “political turmoil & economic failure.”

As for “…uncontrolled migration;” Wow! The EU are really, really good at that!

At the heart of EU thinking we have the free migration/movement of EU citizens throughout the EU. Within the Schengen zone we have the unfettered movement of absolutely anybody, and now at “Angular” Merkel’s instigation, we have the “uncontrolled migration” of Refugees, Economic migrants and Terrorists throughout Europe.

Then William gets really weird with: “We still need the EU to provide the safe harbour for the docking of fragile democracies, and it would be strange to champion that idea but abandon it ourselves.” I really don’t know what that first bit means; and it would be strange indeed to champion an idea that I don’t understand, but probably wise to abandon it.

William continues, “The second factor is a related one: whatever the shortcomings of the European “project” it is manifestly not in our interests for either it or the United Kingdom to fall apart.” To lump together the possibility of the UK leaving the EU & Scotland leaving the UK, is ridiculous. As William says a little later; the UK is the fifth largest economy in the World; quite capable of surviving & thriving on its own. The exact opposite applies to Scotland. If the UK left the EU, it would only be SNP-English-hating lunatics that would vote for Scottish independence.

That renders the first part of his next sentence; “Such will be the challenges to the western world in the coming years… …that the dismembering of our own country by nationalists…” irrelevant. The second part, “…or the breaking up of Europe into uncontrolled rivalry would make many dangers more threatening still,” is just nonsense; “rivalry” or competition are two sides of the same coin, and basic tenets of capitalism; to make competition fair & rivalry controlled is the purpose of trade agreements. Which, if we left we could negotiate for ourselves, with any other country in the world.

If we disregard more drivel about his misguided belief in Brexit leading to another Scottish bid for independence; Hague concludes his real argument with, “There is no doubt that without the United Kingdom, the EU would be weaker. It would lose the fifth largest economy of the world, the continent’s greatest centre of finance, and one of its only two respected military powers.” All that is true; and doesn’t bother me one iota. But more to the point; the EU knows it, too; just as well as we do.

Therefore it begs the question, why are they so intent on forcing David Cameron’s hand, by refusing him even the trivial little changes he has asked for?

Why are they risking the UK’s departure? They must realise that the British electorate won’t accept the few scraps in Cameron’s begging bowl, as “Fundamental, Far-reaching changes” however well-spun they are.

I believe it is simply because they don’t actually care if we leave; despite what we’d take with us. I suspect there are some countries, France & Germany especially, that would secretly be very pleased if we did.

The UK has never been a comfortable partner for them, despite generations of our politicians kow-towing to their demands, the British electorate has consistently complained, and in 2014 had the utter gall to vote in UKIP as the largest British party in the European Parliament.

National Sovereignty, though enshrined within the United Nations and important to us, is an anathema to the European Union; and if anyone is in any doubt about that, let me remind you that in the EU visitor centre, in Brussels, there is a plaque which reads:

“National Sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our time, the only final remedy for this supreme and catastrophic evil is a Federal Union of the peoples.”

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