A Path to Failure?

Tuesday, 10 May, 2016

Most of the big decisions you make come down to your gut instinct. You can do all the research you like, look at the pros and cons, what is right and wrong and listen to what other people think but the final say is down to you. The EU referendum is one of those big decisions.

Across the UK people are very divided - even some families and households. There is no doubt many feel very strongly and will use every tactic in the book to make you think their way.  We have had classic examples recently particularly with the Treasury and Chancellor weighing in. Then we had Barack Obama and the unions - each with their own motives. Barack's prime consideration - the US/EU trade deal he wants signing (plus doing a fellow world leader a favour, right on "queue".) And the unions: Bernard Jenkin MP has alleged that the watered down trade union reforms were in return for £1.7million pro-EU help and that this has also given Labour an £8 million boost by delaying political funding changes.

As for those engaged in the scaremongering tactic currently circulating suggesting that our security would be weakened if we vote leave: Do they not see the EU throwing billions at an autocratic Turkish regime for a bizarre migrant swapping scheme? (The same scheme that has additionally also given free access to the EU to a further 77 million people.) Do they seriously think leaving the EU risks a war? I sent out a "tweet" about that which reads: "@ALewerMEP A few months ago DC refused to rule out leaving EU over small tweaks, but now doing so risks war. Eh??"

I - like many on BOTH sides that I have spoken to - have been very disappointed at the current unfairness in the promotion of the arguments. Spending £9 million of tax payers' money on a glossy, 15-page leaflet just days before the spending rules cut in was not what was promised and made no attempt at balance or fairness. That is not what the electorate wants.

They want accurate information which helps them understand the EU, why or why we do not need it. How much it costs, what we get back, what control over migrants we get, the cost to the NHS and our public services.   

So far, the Remain campaign seems determined to frighten voters into submission by making wild claims of the damage to the economy and our presence on the world stage. The true position is no one knows - least of all the Treasury. It failed to spot the financial crisis but apparently it is now able to predict what will happen to the UK economy in 14 years' time. Perhaps not surprisingly this is glossed over.

None of us can predict the future but the Leave camp is expected to have all the answers. We do not, nor do we pretend to have. What we do know is where the EU is heading. Make no mistake the EU is on a mission. It is not a secret. There are many examples where the EU's answer to any crisis is a bigger, more powerful role for the EU. The very day I have written this article I put forward concerns about the EU working towards having its own tax raising powers - you know, like nations or super-states do. Guess what? No other political group in the EU spoke up to support such concerns.

That is not what we signed up to. But that is the fundamental goal of the EU project - an ever closer union. Take a look at the recent five Presidents' report: "Completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union" (you can Google that title). Though mainly aimed at Euro zone members, it will significantly isolate and impact on those member states that do not adopt the Euro.  

The report makes it clear that:

             "For the euro area to gradually evolve towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union, it will need to shift from a system of rules and guidelines for   national economic policy-making to a system of further sovereignty sharing        within common institutions..."

It goes on:

            "... this would require Member States to accept increasingly joint decision-          making on elements of their respective national budgets and economic      policies."

To achieve this - the report admits - there will be significant changes to the EU legal framework. We do not know where that will leave the UK if it votes to remain.

Then there was the massive reform of the EU's entire judicial system, hardly, if at all, noticed by the UK media. Despite UK opposition, it resulted in a doubling of the size of the European Court of Justice (the ECJ, the UK's supreme court, as EU law always takes precedence) without any impact assessment or cost / benefit analysis. A damning report by ECJ judge Franklin Dehousse into the reform concludes: "very exceptional legislative power" has been handed to the court and he confirms the "constitutional change" was not brought to the attention of national parliaments. He also condemns the doubling of the size of the court as "a source of useless spending by the EU."

Another example of the way the EU thinks and operates is hidden in its "Learning EU in Schools" report. It states that the more people know about the EU, the more they will love it. To counter disinterest and disengagement with the EU, it proposes:

            "This situation may be remedied if citizens are better informed and            encouraged to be engaged and take an active interest in the European           unification project. One central way to do so is enhancing an EU dimension in   school education that can help to overcome Euroscepticism."

But it does not stop at the school gates. It goes on to suggest:

            "Enhancing dialogue about the EU in our schools, associations and in public    spaces seems more crucial than ever in order to restore citizens’ faith in the            merits and necessity of the European integration process."

The idea that a future inside the EU is a model of calm and safe status quo is not borne out by recent history. Over the last decade it has lurched from unpredictable crisis to unpredictable crisis. In an uncertain world is it not safer to have the ability to react, adapt and change? Or would we rather be tied to 27 other countries' agendas and problems?

The EU is not willing or capable of delivering the change we need. None of us has a crystal ball to predict what staying in or coming out will mean. What I do know is that my gut instinct tells me I would prefer the UK to be in control of its destiny rather than take a chance that the EU will magically work itself out instead of continuing down its present path to failure.