Thursday, January 10, 2013

Will that be in Dutch or Double Dutch?

It seems certain now that David Cameron will make his much-postponed speech on "Europe" or Britain's role in the European Union, to give it its proper title as he is unlike to refer to the possibility of Britain being out of said Union on January 22 during a visit to the Netherlands. Why on earth the Netherlands? I have nothing against that country or its people but why is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom making a supposedly important speech about the politics and constitution of this country somewhere else? One can't help wondering whether it is likely to be in Double Dutch.

James Forsyth in the Spectator gives a preview of what he thinks will be in the speech. It is uninspiring enough to make one think that Mr Forsyth does, for a change, know what he is talking about.
I understand that he intends to argue that Britain needs to remain inside the single market. But he will commit to a renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership, starting after the next election. Once this process is complete, the British people will be offered a refendum between staying in on the new terms Cameron is confident he can negotiate or leaving the European Union altogether.

This means that Cameron intends for the Conservative party to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU, albeit on new terms. If he is going to persuade his party to do this, then he is going to have to bring back terms of membership very different than Britain’s current ones. Exempting the NHS from the working time directive or repatriating regional funding can only be the beginning. But if this is all Cameron can get, the Tory party will face its greatest split since the Corn Laws.
My own guess, based on general knowledge of politics and politicians, is that Mr Cameron has no idea of what he is going to say as he has so many people and constituencies to reassure. Nor has he ever shown the slightest understanding of what the EU was, how it was structured, what Britain's role was in it and what the alternatives are. Indeed, as the Boss has shown repeatedly on EURef, he has actually lied about what the possibilities are for countries in the EEA. (Actually, he may not have lied in the technical sense that he believed what he was saying, having been told so by his advisers.)

Meanwhile, let us have a look at what he will be missing in Parliament (we have all been alerted to this by His Grace, Archbishop Cranmer in a tweet): the Second Reading of the Succession to the Crown Bill 2012 - 13.


  1. I made a comment to one of John Redwoods blogs which I set out in it's entirety below. You will note that he has made a reply. I admit that the content of my comment was very much influenced by my reading of your blog and that of EUReferendum and Whitney's. If I am factually incorrect and have missed the point of your arguments then I apologise.

    I worry that politicians particularly you, who shows so much acumen in so many diverse fields political and otherwise, do not understand the reality of the EU relationship question. I read about how much you and other like minded MPs and even the PM are stating that a renegotiation of powers is possible whilst remaining a member of the EU. That is is so obviously not true the EU will never countenance such and have repeatedly said so. Why should they it would fly in the face of that to which they wish to achieve namely the eventual political and economic union of all member states. Even thought the union is to start with the those in the euro-zone those that currently remain out of it will be being prepared to join them. So loosening of any ties would be counter to achieving that goal and would only result in two separate groupings that would be divergent not convergent. To remain in the EU will only result in some fudge that will give the fa├žade of repatriation of powers at the very best with the path still firmly set on total union with the ever tightening of EU inspired rules and regulation and the continued erosion of sovereignty. Much misleading to the point of being economical with the truth information is being peddled even again by the PM that outside the EU the UK would still be subject to EU rules but without any influence. That is also not entirely accurate as the experiences of other non EU member states demonstrates, the degree to which EU law and influence is greater or lesser is dependent on the will of the politicians who often are odds with the wishes of their people (then is that no so very true of the democratic system we have today) and much is allowed that need not be. The use of article 50 allows for an orderly exit which in turn allows for the setting up of a new relationship between the EU and UK so that that which the UK wishes to adopt of EU rules and trade agreements then and in the future can be agreed. Staying in allows for none of these things. The caveat being that I envisage the EU on being notified of article 50 being invoked will act in a spiteful and disingenuous way and will be obscurant and will demand their pound of flesh. In which case it has to be hoped that the UK Sir Humphrey’s are up to the job or that they give their whole hearted support as there are reason that they may not.

    Reply: We should first ask for a new relationship by renegotiation. This is something the PM may do. They are constantly renegotiating the whole arrangament for the rest of them so they might agree to a new arrangement for us. As I also want a referendum on the outcome, the British people will then decide whether to stay or leave. There is no majority or anything like a majority in the present Commons for use of Article 50.

  2. I believe the last sentence of Redwood's reply but I do think what they propose is doomed to fail. I assume that the hope is that once one can see that renegotiation within the EU has failed MPs will joyfully embrace the Article 50 route, something I very much doubt. They are not given to radical thinking. Also, I do suspect, as I have said before that Cameron will produce some kind of a minor or cosmetic change to prove that renegotiation is possible and put that to the people in a referendum.

  3. Delivering the speech external to the UK will ensure that a smaller grouping of journalists from the UK will be in attendance for the post-scrutiny.

    It could well be that the opportunities to deny access to the more determined will be there, and that the greater airtime given to those who can be reliably, and acquiescently, on-message.

  4. "James Forsyth in the Spectator gives a preview of what he thinks will be in the speech. It is uninspiring enough to make one think that mr Forsyth does, for a change, know what he is talking about."

    And it is one of the reasons, namely your "humour", Helen, that I am an avid reader of your writing!

    Heaven help the object of any sarcasm to which you may resort - as and when you really "get going"!

  5. On the other hand, WfW, I am grateful to your for pointing out indirectly the typo in that sentence. Stealth edit to follow.

  6. John Redwood's reply demonstrates the essential point that the Prime Minister is having to please many constituencies: he has to make his speech in the hope that screaming headlines in one area will satisfy one lot of people ("he really is doing something, honestly, I swear it, so don't vote UKIP") and that it can also quietly be interpreted by others in the exact opposite way (more of the same, nothing for 'the project' to really worry about). Note as well that Redwood does not comment upon the essential point about the fraudulent nature of "re-negotiations". It will be important to quickly hold the speech up to proper scrutiny, to demolish the hack coverage of the legacy media, and to deconstruct the Prime Minister's inevitable fudge, pretence and dissembling.

  7. We shall do our best, Damian. As long as nobody listens to the Tories.