Peasants Restless, Nobility Concerned

by Andrew Stuttaford

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Peers have been accused of showing “contempt” for British voters over the proposed EU referendum, saying the public cannot be trusted to make the right decision.  Dozens of members of the House of Lords today attacked Conservative plans to set in law an in/out vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union by 2017.

Lord Mandelson, the former EU Commissioner [and one of the presiding geniuses of the Blair regime] said any vote would be a “lottery” in which the electorate would be swayed by irrelevant issues. “We should be very wary of putting our membership in the hands of a lottery in which we have no idea what factors, completely unrelated to Europe, will affect the outcome…”

And if you want another reminder of how the EU apparat regards the voters, that will do just fine.

Among the other peers who waded in to the debate was Lord Armstrong (a very senior former civil servant), who “warned the Bill undermined the Prime Minister’s hopes of winning back powers from Brussels,” an argument rendered absurd from the start by the fact that Cameron’s proposed “renegotiation” (with 27 other nations and the institutions of the EU itself) is an impossibility (in any meaningful sense) for both legal and political reasons, and is, moreover, an extraordinarily damaging waste of time. 

What to do?

Abandon the embarrassing and futile attempt at renegotiating a deal within the EU. File instead for a ‘divorce’ under the terms of Article 50 of the EU Treaty, an article that provides a mechanism for negotiations to put Britain’s relationship with the EU on a sounder, more equitable and, hopefully, far more friendly basis, and secure popular consent (via a referendum) for the new deal.

It won’t be easy, to put it mildly, but it’s the only way that has any realistic chance of success. Not that Cameron will try it.