Monday, September 13, 2010

An Act that will make bolting the stable door compulsory

What else would one call the forthcoming piece of legislation on an EU referendum but making it compulsory or, at least, legally desirable to bolt the stable door after the horse had bolted.

The Daily Telegraph is being either disingenuous or nauseatingly silly in proclaiming today that
The Government must prevent further erosion of national sovereignty by holding a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.
The idea is that, having reneged on that cast-iron guarantee for a referendum on the Constitutional Lisbon Treaty, the Boy-King and the Cleggeron Coalition will push through legislation that will lock a referendum into British legislation.

Errm, no, not an in/out referendum about the EU. No, that exists merely in the dreams of certain Conservative commentators. The referendum will be on any future treaty that might give away further major powers to the EU.
Many will feel that all this is too little too late to check a newly authoritarian streak in the EU. French and Dutch rejection of the constitution in 2005 was blithely disregarded and the Lisbon treaty, an almost identical document, served up in its place. When the Irish rejected that, the same question was put to them 14 months later. Having backed a referendum on the constitution, the Labour government refused one on the treaty, arguing with shameless casuistry that the two documents were fundamentally different. The "ever closer union" specified in the Treaty of Rome means that the drive to limit the powers of the nation state is the EU's raison d'ĂȘtre. The reaction of members to such encroachments has been lamentably weak.
Many will, indeed, feel that. Many or, at least, those who have understood how EU legislation works (and that does not seem to include MEPs or our own domestic politicians) will also understand that major powers are given away all the time. The treaties produce the overall framework; it is what is legislated on the basis of those Articles that matters.

For instance, most of us would say that giving the EU supervisory powers over various financial products and the City of London does imply giving away very major powers, indeed. Having to discuss the Budget with the colleagues and the Commission even if it had been presented to the House of Commons first is giving away major powers and accepting the EU's absolute supremacy in economic and financial matters. None of that is going to figure in this piece of completely useless legislation. Nevertheless, you can expect all the Conservative groupies to hop up and down with excitement and tell us what an important blow this is for Britain's sovereignty. And then they wonder why people do not vote for them.

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