The Corner

Obama, Brexit and Democracy

With Barack Obama busy, so to speak, cheering on George III, here are two things to read.

The first is from an article in the latest Standpoint by Douglas Murray:

Now the results of the great EU renegotiation are in I suppose I will have to vote “Out”. Like many people, I waited to see what the Prime Minister could get from his renegotiation, but the results could only be applauded by people who want jobs from him. All the charade negotiation proved was that the EU remains unreformable, leading me to conclude that we are better off out. Not so much abandoning a burning building as exiting a building that appears to be run by arsonists.

To me the central question has always been one of democracy. There are few lessons to be learnt from the late Tony Benn, but the questions he used to pretend to ask people in power (“Who gave it to you? How can it be taken away?”) are useful. And not just for those governing the EU. Go into any room in Britain and ask people, however educated, to name the head of the European Commission or their own MEPs. Not one in a thousand will know, just as no one knows how the rules are made or unmade. It is easy to dismiss some of this as laziness, but there is a type of laziness that is justifiable. Any criticism of over-arching EU powers was responded to with corrections framed as “Ah, but that relates to the Court not the Commission” or “But that is encompassed in the Convention rather than the Statute.” All the time those in charge avoided the fact that democratic government needs not only to be approved by the people but understood by the people.

Keep that “understood” in your mind, and then turn to this comment (my emphasis added)  by Jean-Claude Juncker, the long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg who is now the president of the EU Commission:

“We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back”.

He was talking about the introduction of the euro, a catastrophe for democracy as  well as the economy. 

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