The European Union (EU) has delivered its draft plan for a renegotiated settlement between Brussels and the UK, and it is an even bigger embarrassment than most people expected. We thought that the Prime Minister was lowering expectations so he could pull a rabbit out of a hat, but we can now see that he doesn’t even have a hat, never mind rabbits!
The so-called ’emergency brake’ on migrant benefits is there, without a time limit but without our hand on it either. We can only pull it if we get permission first, and it can be taken away at any time. We don’t need a brake with Jean-Claude Juncker’s fingerprints all over it, we want control of the steering wheel, with real powers to control who can and cannot come into the UK, and in what numbers.
The ‘red card system’, meanwhile, is worth less than nothing. We can already combine with other countries to block EU legislation at the governmental level, but we wind up in a voting minority more often than any other Member State by far (see chart below), and there’s no reason to expect we will have any more success getting our voice heard at the parliamentary level. This system will only make the EU even slower and clumsier than it already is in times of crisis, without doing anything to improve our position.
We certainly don’t need an empty, post-dated promise of an opt-out on “ever closer union” in some future treaty, one which will evaporate after a ‘Remain’ vote even faster than the CAP reform Tony Blair was promised once he had handed over our rebate money.
Even without the phrase, the treaties are full of all sorts of general rhetoric with respect to “a new stage in the process of European integration”, “further steps to be taken in order to advance European integration”, “solidarity”, “convergence” and so on. The whole thing is a classic of style over substance, with not an iota of change to our obligations and material circumstances as things currently stands.
And let’s spare a thought for the things which Mr Cameron didn’t even ask for: an end to the supremacy of EU law, initiated by an unelected Commission, over the laws made by our elected representatives; powers to negotiate and conclude trade deals with our old partners in countries like Australia, Canada and India on our own initiative; freedom of action and an independent vote on important global bodies like the World Trade Organisation; and releasing our farms and fishing waters from Brussels’ inept management.
The list goes on. This plan is fudge and a farce, and probably set to be watered down even further once other EU leaders have got their hands on it. The public should feel insulted. The Prime Minister should feel ashamed.
Richard Tice is a City entrepreneur and co-founder of Leave.EU.