Monday, 22 October 2012

Cameron's False Promises On EU Referendum Continue

The Tory Party will not take this country out of the EU. They are playing a cruel game by pretending that they might. As our Prime Minister, Mr Slippery, told a Brazilian newspaper only the other day: ‘I believe that Britain should be in the EU.’ He says something like this every few months. On July 19 he also said, quite clearly: ‘I don’t think we should leave the EU.’ For once, nobody could accuse him of keeping his real views a secret. True, he hides his shameful love of Brussels behind a wall of piffle about access to the single market. Any fool knows that we would keep this access if we left, and pay less for it than we do now. Why would the EU stop selling us its goods? Even so, he loves to promise referendums, like the ‘cast-iron’ guarantee of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Cast-iron, as sensible people know, is a brittle material, easily broken by unprincipled persons. But hardly any of the referendums promised by British leaders over the past few decades ever seem to happen. The Scots can have them. The Welsh can have them. Northern Ireland can have them (and you haven’t heard the last of that). But somehow or other, the British people as a whole get referendums tomorrow, but not today. Not that I care much. I promise you that if we ever do get another vote on the EU, most of you will be scared and bamboozled into voting to stay in, as happened in 1975. Then there’s the strange delusion that we can somehow win back lost powers from the EU. This is a straightforward lie. With the one startling exception of the law and justice changes, which we were given special permission to exit at Lisbon – an offer which the Coalition isn’t all that keen to take up – the EU never gives back anything it takes away. That is what ‘ever-closer union’ means. It means ever-closer union. It’s always seemed quite clear to me. As Roy Jenkins, who knew more about the EU than any other British politician, said back in 1999: ‘There are only two coherent British attitudes to Europe. One is to participate fully, and to endeavour to exercise as much influence and gain as much benefit as possible from the inside. ‘The other is to recognise that Britain’s history, national psychology and political culture may be such that we can never be anything but a foot-dragging and constantly complaining member, and that it would be better, and would certainly produce less friction, to accept this and to move towards an orderly, and if possible, reasonably amicable separation.’ This is quite right. Threats to leave ‘if’ the EU doesn’t make concessions (which it won’t make) are posturing for a gullible domestic audience. So I think Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is being even more cynical than his chief by ‘letting it be known’ that he would vote to leave the EU in a referendum. Point one: there is no referendum in which he can vote. Point two: Mr Gove has never actually said this in public, but slipped it into the open through the weird semaphore system politicians use to advance their careers and sniff the air for danger. If pressed, he can say he was misunderstood, or simply deny it. I challenge him to make a televised speech in which he declares that he thinks we should leave. As he knows, if he dared to say this in public he would be destroyed for ever within a few months, as Margaret Thatcher was destroyed as soon as she finally woke up to what the EU really is. The fact that his off-the-record rebellion has not been met with an off-the-record rebuke tells you that nobody in the Cabinet takes it seriously. Nor should you. Mr Slippery is trying to save his flank from attack by the dogged Dad’s Army that is UKIP. Mr Gove increasingly fancies Mr Slippery’s job. That is all