Tony Blair, the disgraced former prime minister and possible war criminal, believes an EU referendum would be “dangerous” for Britain. He has come out strongly backing Ed Miliband on ruling out an In/Out referendum in the next term of Parliament.
Blair was wrong about many things; he was an advocate of joining the Euro and he was wrong about unilaterally dragging the country into invading Iraq. Blair has contempt for democracy, and these recent comments confirm his disregard for public opinion. He believes the public are too stupid to decide on our membership of the EU, just as he believed the public did not need to be consulted about entering an illegal war which defiled Britain’s reputation abroad.
Moreover, Blair’s record on Europe is appalling: he agreed to cut Britain’s rebate in 2005 in exchange for reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy. These reforms never happened under his premiership. Yet Business for Britain estimates the reduction of Britain’s rebate cost the Treasury £10.4 billion.
Blair also gave away 133 vetoes Britain formerly enjoyed over EU legislation, effectively handing power away to Brussels. It was he who signed the Lisbon Treaty, which among other things compels British courts to bow to human rights rulings from Strasbourg, allowing criminals and Islamist extremists like Abu Hamza to make a mockery of British justice. He signed the Lisbon Treaty without consulting the Great British Public, because he was afraid it would be rejected – just like the Dutch and the French rejected the EU Constitution, which would later be rebranded as the Lisbon Treaty to overcome the resistance of the peoples of Europe. Clearly, Blair is very well acquainted with how troublesome public opinion and democracy can be, as he marched Britain towards to the EU super-state.
Even so, Eurosceptics should welcome Blair’s intervention, the case to remain in the EU won’t benefit from endorsement by such a divisive and toxic figure. While Ed Miliband has tried to stand apart from Blair’s legacy and New Labour, their views converge when it comes to the EU. Yet there is little chance Labour will reap any electoral benefit from following Blair’s line.
According to a survey last month by TNS BMRB, 60% of Britons want a referendum – whether they are Eurosceptic or pro-EU – and 51% of Labour voters too. The Labour leader is doing himself no favours by ignoring the Great British Public coming up to the General Election. While most dyed in the wool Labour supporters won’t switch their vote to the Tories over an EU referendum, neglecting grassroots’ disenchantment with Europe will only add to Miliband’s roster of mistakes.
There is no denying it, the Great British Public must have the final say on our membership of the EU. Otherwise, we are no longer a democracy and should stop pretending. Even for those who support Britain remaining in the EU, how better to reinforce the mandate for continued membership than through a referendum? Scotland was granted a vote on Independence, despite the risk of a Yes vote. No senior figure on the Left decried the Scots as too stupid to decide the destiny of their country.
So why can’t the Left extend the same privilege to the Great British Public, whose say on our EU membership is long overdue? For now, let us hope Blair’s intervention will helpfully advance our cause to Get Britain Out of the EU. Finally we may have something to thank him for.
Alan Murad, Research Executive, Get Britain Out