A new study shows that far from finding our influential voice in the European Union (EU) beloved of pro-Remain campaigners, the UK is in fact the most outvoted Member State at the highest echelons of the politico-trading bloc.
A report produced by VoteWatch Europe — the leading international non-governmental organisation tracking the votes of European politicians — has revealed that since 2004 Britain is the single most outvoted Member State in the EU Council (the body in which national government ministers from each member state discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies).
Professor Simon Hix — chairman and co-founder of VoteWatch Europe — said that “British opposition to EU decisions occurred especially on budget, foreign policy and foreign aid.”
The problem Britain has getting its voice heard in Europe is growing. The reports shows that between 2004 and 2009 the country was on the minority (losing) side 2.6 per cent of the time, but that rate climbed significantly to reach 12.3 per cent from 2009 to 2015.
Even taking that into account, however, British governments have still managed to support more than 97 per cent of EU laws adopted in the last 12 years. Professor Hix explained the UK was not “the most oppositional government on several important issue areas: internal market, legal affairs, transport, environment, and fisheries.”
Andy Wigmore of Brexit campaign group Leave.EU said: “It really is extraordinary. We are told that Britain’s place at the table in Brussels ensures our voice is listened to by our European partners, but this study shows that voice is either isolated and ignored, or merely rubber stamps the overwhelming majority of laws foisted upon the UK.”
The track record of the UK’s Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also fails to back the argument that their presence defends UK interests in Brussels.
Crunching the numbers in VoteWatch Europe’s report shows that in the 2009-2014 session and to date in the current 2014-2019 session, British MEPs have been less likely to feature in the winning majority in roll call votes than the MEPs of any other Member State. Between 2014 and the end of 2015, majorities of MEPs from every other country were on the winning side on average 90 per cent of the time, but the majority of British MEPs only found themselves among winners 66 per cent of the time.
Writing for Politico, Professor Hix says:
“The main conclusion from our report is that if the U.K. votes to remain in the EU — which is far from certain, of course — the British government and the leadership of Britain’s parties will need to re-engage with mainstream EU politics if they want to grow their waning influence in the Council and Parliament, and on the wider political agenda of the EU.”
In other words, the way to address the problem of Britain’s voice being ignored in Europe if the country votes to Remain is to throw in the towel and change it to a more mainstream European one — vote In for more Europe.