June 23: Brexit Referendum Day

by Andrew Stuttaford

So Cameron has (all too predictably) struck his poisonous nothing of a “deal” with the EU.

The Spectator:

So in the end, David Cameron’s attempt to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership served to remind us of the case for leaving: the EU is designed in such a way that almost no sensible proposal can be passed. Its negotiations start after dinner, and are designed to drag on until 5am – a formula designed to stifle debate, and to wear people down. The Prime Minister was kept waiting until 10pm to be told that he had agreement on a deal – but one perforated by the bullet holes of other member states. The resulting deal is a woeful substitute for the fundamental reform that he rightly set out to achieve. They called his bluff, which is bad in itself. But worse, he has now been sent back to London to try to call the bluff of his country.

That’s too kind. Cameron never set out to achieve “fundamental” reform of the EU. What he was after was just enough in the way of change to allow him to make the case to stay in with as little embarrassment as possible. He didn’t even get that, but good Brussels foot-soldier that he is, he will plug on and make the case. He knows no shame. 

The referendum will be on June 23, much earlier than had once been expected. The reason for rushing: Cameron is worried about what a second summer of migration chaos on the continent, chaos made much worse by the EU’s nutty borders policy (and Angela Merkel), will mean for the pro-EU cause.

Justice Minister, Michael Gove, one of the few senior Tories to understand what the Conservative Party should be about has finally declared for Brexit. Writing in The Spectator he explains why. And while he is too kind about Cameron (his friend as well as his boss) and the intentions of the EU’s founders (no, they weren’t benign), he gets that the EU (a classic of mid-century central planning) is both stuck in the past (“an analogue union in a digital age”) and trashing the present. He is also willing to say that the June 23 vote is really about democracy. Do Brits want it or not? Cameron, of course, does not. 

The EU is built to keep power and control with the elites rather than the people. Even though we are outside the euro we are still subject to an unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach every week, increasingly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights which in many ways gives the EU more power and reach than ever before. This growing EU bureaucracy holds us back in every area. EU rules dictate everything from the maximum size of containers in which olive oil may be sold (five litres) to the distance houses have to be from heathland to prevent cats chasing birds (five kilometres).

Individually these rules may be comical. Collectively, and there are tens of thousands of them, they are inimical to creativity, growth and progress…

Ask yourself what it is says about Cameron, truly (as he once said) “the heir to Blair”, that he supports this monstrosity.

Meanwhile speaking from the non-crazed left, Frank Field:

What a choice our poor old country faces. There’s widespread support amongst voters across Europe (but not leading politicians) for a fundamental EU reform programme, but our Government never seriously considered leading on this front. Yet the Government so lacked ability that it couldn’t even achieve the minimal reform programme it cobbled together. Holding the referendum in June was clearly more important than winning major reforms. The Government has failed to secure the key renegotiation requirement, namely, that we should regain control of our borders. I shall therefore be campaigning to leave the EU…

Over at EU Referendum, Richard North tears into Cameron’s deal with his characteristic mix of anger and accuracy. As North has often demonstrated before, the devil, with the EU, is in the details:

So, Mr Cameron says he has secured a “special status” for Britain within a reformed EU. He has done no such thing. His deal pretends to be legally biding but it is not.

He has cobbled together a pretend treaty combining a mish-mash of aspirations and political declarations, with no legal force whatsoever. Those parts which promise substantive change are dependent on treaty change at some unspecified point in the future, with no guarantees that they can be delivered.

Thus, the claim to have opted out of “ever closer union” – the federalist ratchet at the heart of the 28-country project – can have no legal effect until this future new treaty is in place. Likewise, the supposed safeguards on the eurozone are entirely dependent on this mythical treaty. They rest on clauses yet to be written by future leaders, which then have to be agreed and ratified by all 28-member states – and any others that may have joined in the interim.

The supposed “emergency brake” on welfare benefits is the ultimate confidence trick. Mr Cameron and the heads of state have simply re-cooked a 22-year-old provision written in the European Economic Area Agreement, fiddling with minor provisions in existing EU law which now need European Parliament approval and which can be overturned at a drop of a hat.

…[We should not]  assume that the Brussels barons will treat us kindly if we vote to remain in the EU. They will brush aside future British protests, telling us that we have had our chance to do things our way and rejected it. Our prospects sitting uneasily on the margins of the emerging superstate will not be promising. Unloved, ignored and marginalised, we face an uncertain, even risky future, on the outskirts of the new European empire.

This is why, on 23 June, we have to vote to leave the EU. To buy into Mr Cameron’s pretence is to give him and successive politicians a license to lie. If as a people, we accept this garbage, we will take anything – and deserve what we get.

Sadly, I think that Brits will accept what North so rightly refers to as “garbage”, but that’s a discussion for another time. 

The Corner

The one and only.