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Europe - ticking time bomb?

Nick Robinson | 11:12 UK time, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Tory leadership did not attend last night's dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bruges speech. They were not there to pay homage to Margaret Thatcher or to join in the chants of "10 more years". They did not hear Norman Tebbit's call on them to promise a referendum on whether Britain should stay in a Europe re-moulded in the Lady's image or have done with it and get out.

Margaret ThatcherYou can be sure, however, that they had spies there report back on who went (only a handful of Tory MPs went including Sir Nicholas Winterton, Andrew Rosindell and Roger Gale), what was said and the mood on the evening. Team Cameron knows all too well that Europe is a "ticking time bomb" for the Conservative Party as the Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, likes to put it.

If the Irish government decides to ask the Irish people to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty, if that vote's held before a British election and if they say "yes" the Tories will have to answer the question - now what will you do? There are enough "ifs" for the party to insist in public that they're not prepared to answer a hypothetical question. Privately, however, work is going on about what to do if the Lisbon Treaty's ratified and the Tories form the next government.

All they've said so far is that they wouldn't let the matter rest. William Hague's most important task is to defuse the time bomb. He needs to find a way to negotiate a new relationship with the EU - tricky enough in itself - without destroying David Cameron's first few months in office either by alienating his fellow European leaders or leading his party to feel they've been betrayed.

Lord Tebbit last night made what he, no doubt, regards as a modest proposal:

"I hope that the Conservative Party will set out a negotiating brief that the next Conservative government will take to Brussels early in its next term and that it would within two years of the next election present to the British people the outcome of its negotiations.

"Then in a referendum the British people would decide whether to accept what was on offer or simply to leave the Union. We cannot drift on as we have been; it is not fair either to the British people or to the European Union.

"We need to show Thatcherite courage and determination to lead the country along that path."

It is a recipe for a bruising negotiation in which Britain would have few if any allies; a risky referendum in the mid term of a parliament that looks set to be dominated by the need to cut spending and raise taxes; and a possible vote for Britain to leave Europe. It's a recipe which, I suspect, will give a painful dose of indigestion to those who missed last night's dinner.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I'd quite like to see a United States of Europe.

  • Comment number 2.

    So, finance experts denounce Gordon's plan, more than a million households will be in negative equity, the financial situation is twice as bad as the bank of England thought it would be back in May, Lord Mandelson is caught lying, and Jacqui Smith wants us all to have to produce a passport just to buy a phone.

    So, what do we focus on? The opposition and their position on Europe, and how it might be affected if this, if that and if the other.

    Is this really the most serious political issue out there at the moment, or is it just the easiest one to paint the tories in a bad light?

  • Comment number 3.

    If there was a free vote on the matter we all know the UK would be leaving the EU.

    And would that be such a bad thing? Maybe economically but there is a far bigger issue here. FREEDOM.

    We are currently living under an EU dictatorship we are ruled by people we have no control over and every day our own government is marginalised and unable to effectively make national legislation as it might contradict brussels.

    Well who are these people? I didn't vote for them, i didn't see an election campaign similar to the US asking the 'nation of europe' to vote.

    So why do we tolerate this? I'd rather live in poverty then as a sheep with no say and no power.

  • Comment number 4.

    I would like to see the pound go and for Britain to get into the Euro. Surely this is the time to go for it.

    We cannot exist for much longer. Surely, this would be Gordon's historic moment.

    The pound is finished and only exposes us to the vagaries of the market. If Gordon owes Europe anything for bailing us out then surely this is it. Get into the Euro Gordon, now. If not now it will be never.

    Gordon must show leadership, that would win labour a great victory in the forthcoming general election. Britain in the Euro. Now!

  • Comment number 5.

    re: 1, sagamix

    As long as Britain gets as much out of it as it puts in, so am I.

  • Comment number 6.

    I see the Tory bloggers are out in force this morning, Grawth. There is more to life than the problems facing Gordon Brown, you know. Unfortunately, we too deserve some scrutiny.

  • Comment number 7.

    Ahh Europe, wasn't Peter M an EU trade minister before he became part of the CURRENT government and hasn't he a bit of a reputation for telling the odd porky pie.

    It's all very nice looking into the crystal ball about the next government, but what about the unanswered issues with the CURRENT one.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's not really a difficult proposition.

    The majority of native citizens of this country - if anyone bothered to ask us - have no problem with being in a European free trade zone. What we do not want is to pay one of Her Majesty's pennies to support the sounder of corrupt self appointed swine who have already formed a United States of Europe on the sly. Nor do we wish to be ruled by laws imposed on us by an unaccountable bureaurocracy rather than our own elected represenatives.

    The minority who support our supine capitulation to this ever expanding monster do so out of naked self interest. It's high time that we stopped inviting them to the debate.

  • Comment number 9.

    So, more evidence that the old NuLabour spin doctors now back in power (Mandelson & Whelan) have once again taken control of the BBC's news output.

    Why highlight old non-issues when there are far more important stories around?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    English Euro-sceptics amaze me. Sterling has just been devalued by 25% and more to come as interest rates plummet. The UK has been left behind as far as investment in infrastructure, and living standards are concerned, compared to our established European partners. Its all due to the need of these pathetic Westminster politicians to hoard as much power as possible. In its relations with the Common Market, the EEC, then the EU, the UK has been disadvantaged at every turn, by its reluctance to be at the heart of the Union.

    Isn't it pathetic that the UK needs strict border controls? British pensioners have to trek through a portacabin in Calais... because successive governments have failed dismally to face up to the issues, whereas there is complete freedom of movement without passports in most of Europe.

    It would indeed be a brave PM to now take us into the Euro, after the recent devaluation. The UK should have joined it at the outset, as did all the other sensible members.

    Lets face it, we just have bad government here. No matter whether its from real Tories or New Labour tories. The entire constitutional system needs a shake up. Its a mess. Better still, demolish it and start again, from the top down, or the bottom up. It hasn't served us well. Of course, that will not be possible, because the cosy two-party system guarantees each party a turn in power, no matter how bad a mess they made. (e.g. Labour by 1979, and the Tories by 1997).

    Turkeys, who have grown fat on the system, and that's what they are, will not vote for Christmas.

    The electorate have an impossible choice at the next election - one useless lot or another.

  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    I don't mind what the Tories announce, provided that they aren't totally deceptive liars on the matter as Labour turned out to be. Bad judgement by Brown and Milliband for misleading the country over Europe - those of us who want a referendum will not forget.

    But then Brown keeps banging on about global governance and a new world order.

    A Conservative MP recently proposed a bill which would have made it neccesary (for the sake of "trans-pear-ency") to state whether each piece of legislation passing through the UK Parliament was generated by a British politician or generated by the fascist state of Europe. The bill was voted down - mostly by Labour MPs and their LibDem cohorts.

    Because what Labour and the LibDems do NOT want the British public to know is that the E.U. already makes 70-75% of our laws. Even with European elections, the vote is pretty worthless as MEPs vote in blocks on vast swathes of legislation that they haven't had time to read.

    In two weeks time, the country will remember the millions who died saving this country from European fascism. People rightly wearing their poppy with pride should vote at the next general election to honour the sacrificies made by our grandparents by similarly saving us from sleepwalking into a fascist European political superstate.

    Trade and friendship, not political governence. They'll scare the population by saying that we'll lose jobs... but we can trade with the Commonwealth, we can trade more freely with the rest of the world from OUTSIDE the European superstate.

    The Labour Government is already compiling easy to access databases for the next socialist extremist...

    Lest we forget.

  • Comment number 15.

    'Ticking time bomb' is a very good description of the issue because it indicates that the problem will not go away by simply ignoring it. The heart of the issue is that the EU is a mechanism by which one government can enter into commitments at EU level which then become binding on its successors. As time goes by the volume of these EU commitments rises without end all the time shrinking the area within which the Westminster parliament is free to legislate. The inevitable long-term consequence is that a time will come (perhaps decades hence) when the British parliament will be inhibited from acting in all areas the areas where the EU now has competence (i.e. almost all areas) and our national elections will be reduced to deciding which party sends representatives to Brussels to be outvoted and return to tell us that we must live under EU law that we never wanted in the first place but cannot change through our votes.

    In principle this ratchet restricts the room for action of both main parties but it is a more serious for parties of the right because they tend to believe in a smaller role for the state. The EU gives parties of the left a tool whereby if they can agree on a big-state measure just once at EU level then it becomes binding on all future governments of the right. Therefore the task of defusing the time-bomb will almost certainly fall to a right-wing government.

    The best way to defuse the time-bomb is to make EU law subordinate to national law in all areas beyond the common market. Governments that voted for measures approved at EU level should be required to implement them, but should not be able to commit their successors. Voters must be able to elect new government capable of disowning the EU measures that were agreed to by the previous government or democracy will inevitable shrink to vanishing point in due course. If reforms such as this cannot be agreed to by our EU partners then the EU is not a club in which we should wish to remain.

  • Comment number 16.

    What on earth has Europe got to do with anything just now? Is this what Nick Robinson calls resisting pressure and then posting a load of old tosh whom nobody is interested in reading.
    A pathetic blog post IMHO.. surely there are more important matters just now related to recession and reposessions, job losses, and peoples spending power being dramatically cut.....matters that really affect voters.

  • Comment number 17.

    4 TAG not very often we agree but we certainly do on this one.
    With the exception of the bailing out bit.

  • Comment number 18.

    If the Torries do not promise the vote they will be seen as the same as Labour, LIARS.
    I would not only expect the tory party to promise the vote but no matter what the Irish do, we are entitled to vote on the EU.
    As a lot of people now understand keeping a small house is much more manageable than keeping a big one.
    We need to keep our country, not sell out to the EU.
    The EU did not stop us getting into this mess, in fact it added to it.
    What we pay to the EU we can not afford.
    Rattified or not we must vote.
    Nothing is written in blood, YET.

  • Comment number 19.


    Yes I'm Tory, so what? The point is this story only becomes an issue IF the Irish decide to vote again, and following that IF the vote is before the British elections, and following that IF they actually vote yes to Europe.

    So my point is that this story is so full of hypothetical bits, when there are much more pressing concerns at the moment, that it really was a poor choice to run with it.

  • Comment number 20.

    As usual, Norman "OYB" Tebbit has the question the wrong way round. Surely the other member-states of the European Union should be preparing for a referendum asking for the UK to leave, along with Poland. Then the Union could get along with tackling some REAL questions, like global financial regulation, climate change, and the rise of the BRICs. That would leave Britain whimpering nicely on the sidelines, muttering ruefully about no longer "punching above its weight".

  • Comment number 21.

    Many are calling for an early election, others shouting 'Brown out!'? So since when has it been irrelevant to address the question of how coherent, cohesive, electable the Tories are or are not? But this is already a theme on the blog. We are here to discuss political news, not to expect Nick to solve an economic crisis.

    The Tory old guard raise the EU issue; their young Euro-sceptic leader did so a few weeks ago. I doubt Cameron will be able to deliver on a any expectations on withdrawal from EU. Can he afford to be identified with them?

    The ECB is out of line with national banks on financial rescue. The pound has fallen against the Euro. Brown has deftly dodged calls for a Lisbon referendum, and Lisbon will not go away; the EU will see to that.
    Right now Europe may just be wallpaper, but when a party is saying, like Oscar Wilde, either it goes or I do (and Lady Thatcher did go), that's a hostage to fortune

  • Comment number 22.

    Given the state of the Euro - the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are dragging down the rest and causing some concern around the EU - a great deal of infighting within the EU will happen in the near future.

    Ought to give the Tories a bit of a boost.

    The EU seriously needs to get itself in order - the state of the plummeting Euro, lack of transparency, the sheer amount of corruption - and the Lisbon Treaty and the Tories differing views on Europe are mere sideshows in a circus starting to go off the rails.

  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    At the moment the EU is pretty much the last thing that I care about.

    More important to most people I think is the fact that the uk economy is going down the pan, and that the government's plans to get us out of recession:
    a) won't work
    b) are being dithered over
    c) will do more harm than good
    d) don't address any of the fundamental economic problems

    Can the BBC concentrate on what could easily be the most deep/long/damaging recession we've had for 100 years, and the government's pathetic attempts to get us out of it?

    I'd like the BBC to ask Brown some questions of basic economics, and to hold him to account for the mess we're in, and to stop him getting away with simply saying:
    "Not my problem; it's global. nothing to do with me. Don't worry, it'll all work itself out in the end. I'm just going to sit here and do nothing."

  • Comment number 25.

    it is a ticking bomb--is a sort of tough word to used...but it is the true!!

  • Comment number 26.

    It might prove to be academic if the credit crunch worse case scenario takes effect and the eastern Europe economies implode. Basically you would have an all out humanitarian aid flowing to these countries, that would put some of the haunting pictures of African famine into the shade. Assuming of course that some economies will still be producing food etc.

    I cannot see the EU coping with this, after all they were pretty inept in the western Balkans until NATO showed the way.

  • Comment number 27.

    The UK has several problems concerning Europe, most of which are of no fault of the EU.

    1) Most people have no idea what the EU does for us. I like to think I have a better grasp of politics than most, but all you ever seem to hear from the media is stuff like everyone subsidising French farmers and directives about straight bananas. If i don't know much, then I daresay your average reader of a certain newspaper owned by a certain Australian gentleman would have the slightest clue.

    2) A lot of people still haven't gotten over the fact that England no longer rules the seven seas and that the British Empire crumbled decades ago. There is still this idea that Britain should, and must, be one of the major players in the world, and that "handing control to Brussels" would make Britain insignificant.

    3) There is still a lot of xenophobia, mainly in regards to "The French" and "The Germans". People think an EU superstate would essentially be France and Germany telling us what to do, and the idea of letting the Frogs or the Krauts tell us what to do just isn't cricket. There's a war to be won don't you know? England expects. Careless talk costs lives. Hmmm, where's my Anderson shelter gone?

    Of course, these problems are fueled by the media, who love using the EU for a good wind up. If we had more informative and balanced reporting, perhaps the masses could be educated properly about Europe. As it stands, it is too dangerous to put a referendum to the British people, because the vast majority are too ignorant (not always through their own fault) to make an informed decision. Obviously that's exactly what the Tory party want.

    One thing is for sure: I would rather be part of a United States of Europe than our current position as the 51st state of the USA.

  • Comment number 28.

    To all the above posters complaining that the BBC shouldn't focus on an issue like Europe, are you saying that they aren't focusing enough on issues like the credit crunch??? I certainly haven't noticed any lack of coverage of the crisis. In fact it's often very difficult to find coverage of anything else!

    Surely there's room in public debate for a number of topics. Obviously the credit crunch is the main story at this time hence the fact that the majority of news coverage is rightly focused upon it. However, this is a blog which surely means that Nick is allowed to look beyond present day issues occasionally.

    With the Tories highly likely to be in power in the next year or two, Europe is guaranteed to be one of the most significant issues of the next few years. I utterly fail to understand those who talk about leaving the EU while still castigating Nick for bringing up an insignificant story. Sounds fairly significant to me!

  • Comment number 29.

    #15 Freeborn-John wrote:

    "The best way to defuse the time-bomb is to make EU law subordinate to national law in all areas beyond the common market."

    That is utter drivel. You read too much tabloid nonsense. The entire point of the EU is the pooling of sovereignty by its members, for the common good, ie, the good of all its members and their inhabitants. And it has been good for us. No UK government could take us out of the EU, it would be a disaster. UKIP lives in cloud cuckoo land.

    Successive British governments have tried to 'pick and choose' which bits they want, by negotiating opt-outs. For example Blair and Brown opted out of having more protection for employees.. people like you and me whose work produces the wealth. The right wing press, which represents the wealthy upper classes in this country, just don't tell us the truth, so we have ordinary people believing that the EU is an abomination.

    What it has achieved is raise the standard of living of every single one of its members, most of them to greater levels than the UK, because we've been dragging our heels.

    At present, the UK is in a much worse position to weather the recession, because it chose to keep more economic independence, and not enter the Euro. You and I will have to pay for that mistake, in significantly higher taxes for a decade or more. If you want to blame anyone, blame the Tory Euro-sceptics and the tory New Labour clowns who have got us in such a mess.

  • Comment number 30.

    As usual, the Tories are totally divided over the European question. During there eighteen wasted years in office, they did nothing other than make fools of themselves over the issue. Things are not likely to change. Re-negotiate important Treaties? they will be laughed out of court.
    Why is it that Cameron has nothing to say about important matters? all we ever hear is how much he enjoyed himself at Eton,and his time spent with the Bullingdon gluttons.

  • Comment number 31.

    herb_igone again.

    I'll read these other postings later, and distil from them anything I need to respond to.

    meanwhile, I can't wait to have a chance to vote on Europe, although to be honest in the current climate I wouldn't expect any chance.

    We'll be out like a shot. That would immediately save us billions that we spend on the CAP, and we can spend some of that on support for our farmers, and still have funds left over.

    Then we can get rid of the common fisheries policy, re-instate our territorial limits, and recbuild our fishing fleet to fish in our own waters. That would please all the people who live on the edge, including of course Scotland.

    We could repeal the human rights act, which is proving really troublesome in handling certain undesriable residents.

    Let's see, what's left? Trade. We buy more from them than they do from us. Where's the downside from our perspective? If they choose not to trade with us (undemocratic, costly, oh what am I thinking?, of course they will) then we trade with somebody else. Bound to be somebody who will supply us with whatever we get from europe.

    Anybody I haven't offended I wonder?

  • Comment number 32.

    I have to agree with (2.). This is the kind of blog post I'd expect to see during a quiet period, not when the country is facing financial meltdown. Nick, why are you continuing to focus on the conservatives when Labour has dozens of policy areas in which it needs to be brought to task?


    - an economy based on huge amounts of debt, PFI, quangos, etc
    - immigration out of control
    - rolling back public freedoms and the creation of a client state
    - public sector hampered by a beuracratic target culture despite record spending
    - pensions timebomb

    the list just goes on and on ...

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    "As a lot of people now understand keeping a small house is much more manageable than keeping a big one."

    Yes machinehappydays, like Iceland.

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh Dear!

    So what your saying Nick, is this...

    IF the Irish chose to hold another vote &
    IF they vote yes to Lisbon (contrary to current opinion polls) then the Tories will have a problem....

    Hmmm! Don't the Tories and Labour have enough current troubles for you to blog about??

  • Comment number 37.


    actually some of the contributors have got it right. I think that you have seriously lost the plot. Where has this one come from, as our American friends would say this is justy so left field.

    What does Gordon think, I can't wait for PMQs tomorrow. When being asked about the parlous state of the economy we can ex[pect answers along the lines of and what is your position on Europe Mr. Cameron.

    Divisions in the conservative party whilst I, Gordon show true leadership. Come on Nick this is a pathetic story, next we'll be having stories about how you have the most succesful blog in the history of the BBC, over 1000 comments.

    In the meantime America attacks Syria, no comment from the PM. Turkey attacks Iraq, no comment. Deaths in Afghanistan, a totally failed State, this is just so sad.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well Nick, I don't think you've got the reaction your and your playmates were looking for.

    Even you must have realised that there is an overwhelming view, well certainly amongst the bloggers here, that is healthily anti-government, and pro-freedom of choice (however you wish to define it) and fundamentally opposed to ceding more control to europe.

    Once more you have successfully missed a major talking point at the expense of muddying some waters, and trying to put the consrevatives under the cosh. Good old spinners out in force again.

    Now, what about pensions, the cost of living, falling house prices, worrries about having a job, can I find a wealthy friend to invite me on his yacht in the med for a few weeks at christmas?

    See, none of the above subjects affect anybody at Westminster, they've got it all covered.

  • Comment number 39.

    Ah the little englanders are out in force today, getting their Thatcherite suspenders in a twist.

    1. It's absolutely right to focus on the Tories, because Labour are about to enter the wilderness. We all know their weaknesses and nothing is going to keep them in power. But what do we know about the Tories? Their skeletons are still in the closet (don't expect us to be naive and believe they don't have any).

    2. Europe is an issue that won't go away - unless we bite the bullet and accept that the price of economic stability is a lessening of national sovereignty. And exactly what do we want that sovereignty for? The pleasure of lurching from one rubbish government, elected by a minority, to the next? Joy.

  • Comment number 40.


    Whoo hoo, way to go. When you see a united response from Europe about what action to ACTUALLY take on those matters, do push the gates of hell open and start walking on the water.

  • Comment number 41.

    This really takes the biscuit we go from Osborne, now to the conservatives on the EU who cares about this issue now, and why guess what Cameron is thinking and what Hague will do. If they had made some kind of announcement on the EU then I could understand it.

    We all know if there were a referendum, as we were promised what the answer would be so why is this an issue for the Conservative party its more an issue for the Labour party.

    Sorry to keep saying this but with all the problems we have this is a particularly silly thing to be reporting.

    We really must have fair reporting and stop this Labour bias, you seem to be open to pressure all of it coming from the BBC and Labour.

  • Comment number 42.

    The Old Tories gang say:-"We need to show Thatcherite courage and determination to lead the country along that path."

    You are quite right about the Tories, Nick.

    The Tories were, are, and will always be the party to represent the richest, and the ones that are against change, no matter what that change may be!

    Divided they lost, and divided they will loose yet again.

    One tried them in the 90s and saw my friends loose their business, their jobs in the city, including their homes. That was the time of a recession manufactured by the Tories. There was no Global depression as we have today, no country was going bankrupt, no Global financial turmoil of the scale that we have today, but still, we went through some of the toughest times of our lives, thanks to cuts instead of investment in our services, even though they raked billions and billions in privatisation, including our Oil reserves.

    Now the old guard are out yet again, smelling of mothballs. They are their only solace, but also division.

    Have they changed? No!

    Any chance of a victory? Yes, there is, but with someone like Ken Clarke at the helm, not Glossy Mag. boy Dave!

  • Comment number 43.

    29: "For example Blair and Brown opted out of having more protection for employees.. people like you and me whose work produces the wealth."

    Pro-EU nonsense. If the EU is so great for employees, why is the RMT - led by

  • Comment number 44.

    Those who say that the EU issue is less important than the financial crisis are confusing urgency and importance. Which has the greatest impact on your life today, the 1991-1992 recession or the 1992 Maastricht treaty that established European political union? Government needs to be to able chew gum and talk at the same time, i.e. resolve both issues and more.

    If an incoming Conservative government does not address the EU issue in its first term why would it be more likely to address it in a second term when its majority may be lower and people will ask why did you go along with it until now? If the Conservatives don't act then we will likely have to wait an entire electoral cycle (perhaps until 2035-40) for a new incoming government prepared to grasp the EU nettle and by that time the one-way ratchet to an undemocratic super-state will be very far advanced indeed.

  • Comment number 45.

    29: "For example Blair and Brown opted out of having more protection for employees.. people like you and me whose work produces the wealth."

    Pro-EU nonsense. If the EU is so great for employees, why is the RMT - led by Bob Crow - so opposed to the current situation? Indeed, the front page of the RMT website at this very moment contains details of a union demonstration against EU rail privatisation. They have also been demonstrating about the effects of EU legislature on sea faring trades.

    But don't take my word for it, dear reader, look yourself -

    At least one significant union opposes what is happening on Europe and demands a referendum. But then we can't have DEMOCRACY within the European fascist state, huh?

  • Comment number 46.

    Here's something for all you europhiles to note:

    Mr Sarkozy has some economic plans for France (not Europe)
    A "strategic investment fund" is part of his plan.

    "One cannot allow speculative funds from elsewhere to buy up our enterprises cheaply," he said.

    Now let me think, who is it that owns a major part of our electricity distribution? ED something or other, can't think where they come from.

    So it's Ok for them to own industries in other countries, but not the other way round.

    Get with it boys, if you play in europe all the rules get skewed against you. Time to get out.

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  • Comment number 49.


    Thanks you for your points. Totally concur.

  • Comment number 50.

    To braveSouter at 30

    I dont mind you making a political point but do feel you should do it using tolerant language. To call all conservatives Bullingdon gluttons is both untrue and unpleasant the same could be said of many Labour people who attended private schools including Blair and I would object just as much.

    Most people on here make valuable contributions to arguments without being insulting.

  • Comment number 51.

    TAG - What are you talking about ?
    " It is time for the pound to go " and "we cannot exist much longer"
    How long do you think we will last when Germany is running our economic policy along with everything else ? look at Spain & Ireland ! and in what way did Europe bail us out ?

  • Comment number 52.

    Wow, I had no idea, thanks Nick, I feel grateful to be warned ot his impeding crisis.

    The shocking revelation that the Bruges Group contains many members who want out of Europe.

    The stunning news that Norman Tebbit is, I can hardly bring myself to say it, Euro Sceptic!

    The outrageous scandal that not everyone in the Tory party is wholehaeartedly Europhilic.

    The terrible Cassandra vision of horrific nightmarish negotiations with the rest of the EU that might happen if everything happens the worst possible way that can be dreamed up in a Stephen King book.


    Nick, the UK is full of serious stories happening right now. The most serious financial crisis since at least the 30's is now infecting peoples real lives at an alarmingly quick rate.

    For heavens sake get your brain under control and understand that peoples homes are being repossed, peoples jobs are being lost, peoples finances are being crippled, peoples businesses are being crippled, and all are far more important and news worthy than donations NOT made and futures UNLIKELY to happen.

    As our Dear Leader might have said;

    These are serious times, and serious times require serious journalism.

  • Comment number 53.

    Too much labour bias.

    The majority of us think that a lot of what Labour says are porkies.

    With Mandelson and Campbell back in harness, I for one now don't believe a single thing Labour says.

    Mind you, I predicted how Labour would operate to family in 1997. They should have listened as they now complain inccessently.

  • Comment number 54.

    Your reporting is predictably unbalanced. Europe is also a ticking time bomb (actually they don't tick anymore as the timing devices are usually digital) for the Labour Party, or whatever it calls itself these days. We know that because the white-feathered, yellow-livered Gordon Brown refuses to put the question about the Lisbon Treaty to the electorate. He knows the result will be a resounding "no" to ratification.

    Now, please get back to or, rather, start grilling properly the government about its continuing impoverishment and enslavement of the country. Perhaps you can make a start by asking why the Defence Intelligence Service is to be cut when the threat from terrorist attack and so-called rogue nations is, we are continually told, at a record high level.

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm with Grawth here. What's the story about EU got to do with present situation?What's happened to Nick?

  • Comment number 56.

    Only Way Up.

    The 90'S recession was caused by our membership of the ERM , the forerunner of the Euro, a policy which both opposition parties at the time agreed on.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bryant41 (29): The standard of living in European countries that are outside the EU is higher than those in the EU. And the average standard of living of West European EU countries that do not use the Euro is higher than the Eurozone. So the evidence is that being too close to the heart of Europe is actually bad for your wealth.

    You say that my reform proposal is drivel, but why should EU law be superior to national law in political matters? After all there is no clause in any European treaty currently in force to that effect (the supremacy of EU law is only based on an ECJ ruling relating to the common market). If we accept the supremacy of EU law in all areas then agreements entered into by one British government at EU level (and even those we voted against but are required to accept under QMV) becoming binding in perpetuity on the British state (and not just the government of the day). The inevitably consequence will be that the range of issues that future British government can act in will shrink towards vanishing point along with the power of our votes to shape our lives.

    Insults are a puny weapon against argument, so if you reply please address the substance of my point rather than throwing abuse.

  • Comment number 58.


    Real issues please rather than hypothetical speculation about what might happen if the Tories win the next election, if Ireland does this, etc.

    Please something about what is going on today such as Gordon's crazy level of borrowing, the state of the economy, the political choices to get out of recession etc

    Has Peter Mandelson been writing this for you for the last 2 weeks. It does not look like you are in control any more

  • Comment number 59.

    39. "Ah the little englanders are out in force today"

    Yes, we're here to save the world from global fascism yet again.

    How the non-Little Englanders keep sleepwalking into the same situation is beyond me. Did you not learn your lessons on complacency last time?

    It's all just a little bit of history repeating.

  • Comment number 60.

    The bits you've quoted from Lord Tebbit seem great to me. I'll settle for that sort of "Fix it or withdraw from it" policy. I'm not anti-EU, its saved us from fighting the French and Germans for a while, but as a tier of Government its obviously not working too well...

    Lord Tebbits suggestion is another reason for a floating voter to vote Tory, provided DC and the shadow cabinet gets firmly and unequivocally behind that policy...

  • Comment number 61.

    Tell me Nick, how many Labour dinners which had few MPs in attendance have you commented on in the last year?

    Two if questions are at the heart of your blog post as borrowing rises to £60bn, Lord Mandleson looks like he'll be investigated by the House of Lords, and the pound slips to a five year low (to a similar level to Black Wednesday I might add).

    I won't join the chorus of accusations of bias, but really, is this really a story worthy of the Politic Editor of the BBC right now?

  • Comment number 62.

    I have a very unsophisticated opinion of a united Europe. Two names spring to mind, Napoleon and Hitler, both proponents of a United Europe.

  • Comment number 63.

    I must confess to being ambivalent to the European Union.

    Like most people I want close cooperation in Europe, enjoy the free market benefits but don't see why we need a superstate to do it.

    What is needed is a referendum to clear the air and resolve this issue in UK politics for once and for all.

    The British electorate have been subjected to too much misplaced enthusiasm, outright dishonesty and bogus promises over Europe that the atmosphere has been badly soured.

    A referendum on membership will resolve all this for better or for worse.

  • Comment number 64.

    I have a very unsophisticated opinion of a united Europe. Two names spring to mind, Napoleon and Hitler, both proponents of a United Europe. It gives me a creepy feeling when I think of them and some of the contemporary european leaders. We have enough tin pot dictators of our own, but we are protected to a certain extent by Magna Carta. Do we want to fall into the hands of real despots?

  • Comment number 65.

    I would like to see the UK taking a more active part in the EU. It would also be nice if theEuropean parliament could have more power vis-a vis the Commission and that more decisions were made democratically rathe than by governments just rubber stamping them.

  • Comment number 66.

    Even if some respondents want a break from issues related to the recession (and there are still many to explore i.e. the politics of negative equity, pensioner poverty, the adequacy of Brown's 'plan') then there are surely more pressing debates other than this?

    We are essentially discussing what could possibly happen if Ireland votes a certain way and if the Conservatives win in 18 months time without the issue being resolved in the meantime.

    Nevertheless, since the issue has been raised we may as well address it. I think the EU is condemned to become a non-entity within 20 or 30 years. It will still exist of course, in the sense of providing free movement of people and there will no doubt be certain laws and regulations left over from the heyday most notably carbon restrictions. The euro will obviously continue as well.

    But there just isn't the political will let alone the public will across Europe (not just in the UK) to advance the EU into anything other than a symbolic institution of unity.

    So I think it is destined to become the elephant in the room. Various government's will continue to applaud it but do nothing to encourage further integration and veto anything which is politically unpopular (which is anything remotely linked to further integration).

  • Comment number 67.

    I see the Tory bloggers are out in force again. It wouldn't be that the latest opinion poll has got up their craw. They can see the next election is going down the tubes.

  • Comment number 68.

    No50. Some of my best friends are Conservatives, to imply that I was referring to them and other Tory voters displays remarkable political ineptitude.

  • Comment number 69.

    The day the EU can provide a fully signed off copy of accounts for us to scrutinise, will be the day that I begin to consider it as a possible future direction for our country...

    Of course, because of the widespread and systemic corruption within the EU where millions of Euros go missing on an almost daily basis, they haven't been able to do so for more than a decade. *THAT* says everything there is to know about the EU.

  • Comment number 70.

    Yesterdays’ blog was broadly negative to the Government position. Today’s highlights a very relevant topic regarding an issue dear to many in this country, not just Thatcherites. Perhaps the Tory blogging Mafia are sore you have raised the issue because it reminds us all how Thatcher was treated. She couldn't trust her “friends” back in 1990 and Osborne’s friends can't trust him in 2008. (See we can all harp back to previous blogs if we try!!!)

    On topic… the EU is very relevant to the current financial crisis despite the Tories bloggers protests regarding this subject. I am(was?) broadly in favour of the EU but the current crisis has shown that with financial independence we were able to move far more quickly than the European central bank, and we could focus our intervention where it was needed.

    Within the euro-zone we would have had arguments about which banks should be supported, not to mention how it would affect French farmers and German manufacturing……

    Tebbit also has a very valid point when it comes to public opinion. I know very few who would vote for membership of the EU in any format. Therefore were the Tories to offer such a referendum we would almost certainly be looking at a political hand grenade.

    I agree with previous bloggers that there are too many ifs to be met before Cameron's hand will be forced. However, wouldn't it be refreshing if they came to a conclusion anyway. Some clear blue water on Europe would make for a lively election.

  • Comment number 71.

    herb @ 31

    Anybody I haven't offended I wonder?

    I'd say that we're not so much offended as, how can I best put this ... disappointed?

  • Comment number 72.

    "The standard of living in European countries that are outside the EU is higher than those in the EU. And the average standard of living of West European EU countries that do not use the Euro is higher than the Eurozone. So the evidence is that being too close to the heart of Europe is actually bad for your wealth."

    Two words: Luxembourg, Ireland. Also, smaller first-world countries have higher GDP per capita than bigger ones.

  • Comment number 73.

    "I have a very unsophisticated opinion of a united Europe. Two names spring to mind, Napoleon and Hitler, both proponents of a United Europe."

    Yes, you do have a very unsophisticated mind. You fail to consider a mild-mannered French Christian imprisoned for resisting the Nazis:;

    and a self-effacing advisor to Churchill and FDR:

    Keep it up!

  • Comment number 74.

    Nick why have you become the mouthpiece for the failed Nu Liebour project? There are just as many critics of Europe in the Labour ranks.

    You should be holding GB and his cohorts to account. After all GB promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and then changed his mind. Well, there is nothing new there!

    I'm all in favour of a European free trade zone. Nada mas, nada menos. There cannot be a more profligate organization in the history of mankind than the EU. What's the point of having a national parliament if the majority of our laws are made by unelected, overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels?.

    The EU needs to be overhauled from top to bottom. Taxpayers throughout Europe are getting fleeced by their governments and then a second time by Brussels.

    The waste of taxes at both national and European levels is totally unacceptable. Instead of focusing on what the Tories might or might not think let's have a grown up debate about how our money is being spent or, in many cases, misspent. The fact that the EU's accounts have never been signed off tells me all I need to know.

    Nick, it is time you ceased being the conduit for Mr Campbell and the Nu Liebour spin merchants.

    You commentators never cease to tell us that "perception is everything". My perception of the BBC, and it would seem of many others, is that it is genetically biased in favour of Nu Liebour.

  • Comment number 75.

    "We need to show Thatcherite courage and determination to lead the country along that path."

    The Tories stock has been over-valued for months, and the hint of Thatcherism in Cameron's speech was the crack in the dam their critics were waiting for. Osborne's performance when he should've been coming up with a national business plan was just the cherry on the cake. They're making the strategic errors that Hannibal did that ultimately led to his losing the campaign against Rome and his eventual suicide.

    The madness and rage that's gripped the Tories is the alcoholic looking hungrily at the whiskey bottle once too many times and being unable to resist. Meaningful change is never easy. The Tories weaselled their way in the door but have been unable to hold their breath for long enough. Thus, the Tory illusion of sobriety has been blown wide open. A few more sessions in electoral rehab is looking more certain than ever.

    The path of zealotry and isolationism isn't very Zen Buddhist. But, once people start performing there's little you can do to stop them, so I'll just sit back and watch this particular bunch of monkey brains organise their bodies over the edge of the cliff. It's quite sad people do dumb stuff like that it but helps removes the risk of them forming a government and mutes their, so far, corrosive attitude.
  • Comment number 76.


    You really are off the pace now.

    If you can honestly say you would write such a piece about a Labour dinner, with only three current MPs attending, a good quote from Roy Hattersley reopening old Labour wounds, while all of it being contingent on three other things all happening then fine, but I doubt you can.

    You could, however, come clean and admit this is your response to Alastair Campbell's demand for the media, particularly the TV channels, to scrutinise the Tories as much as possible because "they are getting away with murder", sub text how dare you expose the failings of this government which claimed all the credit for the good times but finds it inconvenient when the wheels come off.

    You are in distinct danger of debasing your coinage. There must be more interesting lines for you to push on both Labour and the Tories!

  • Comment number 77.

    Nick please stop running interference for Labour. The challenge for any future government will be to keep hope alive long enough to build a future whilst they tax the public to hell to repay some of the 100's of Billions Brown is now borrowing.
    I can't wait to see how Brown spins the 25% devaluation in the pound he's just orchestrated when people notice how much everything will cost in the spring. "If it aint hurting its not working?" " the pound in your pocket has'nt changed?" No he like you will probably blame a lady who was retired seventeen years ago

  • Comment number 78.

    Re: 58

    I would hardly discount "what might happen if the Tories win the next election" as a topic, even an incidental one, on a political blog. Some discounting! Does nothing matter any more? My condolences if your house has been flooded or something, but one looks for some perspective in these posts.

  • Comment number 79.

    #71 saga

    Careful, if I disappoint you by not being offensive enough I risk getting my post rejected.

    I suppose, looking at this whole subject from the other side, that we tories ought to be flattered, since the soon to be opposition is totally rattled, and hitting out in a kind of frenzy normally associated with rats deserting a sinking ship.

    Now I'm not suggesting you are a rat, in any way, but I do suggest you are in the position the band was in on the Titanic.

  • Comment number 80.

    re: 75

    What bilge.

  • Comment number 81.

    If Britain has gained any advantage from joining the EU since the misguided Edward Heath led us into it , I wish someone would point it out. We buy considerably more from Europe than Europe buys from us, our parliament is subservient to Brussels, our politicians see Europe as a pension scheme after the electorate kick them out of office and operate accordingly while in office. Europe has now become what Hitler envisaged 80 years ago (apart from the death camps). A dictatorship without a head but with a massive bureaucratic body which is all powerful and unaccountable, which trancends national boundaries and makes laws without recourse to any form of democratic process. It now seeks to take over our armed forces and our defence. The record of the countries of mainland Europe as far as the defence of freedom is concerned is abyssmal. But for the immense sacrifice of the people of the USA in two world wars, throughout the second half of the twentieth century when communism threatened to destroy us and now when the world is at risk from the worst excesses of Islam, we would have disappeared into Churchill's oft quoted oblivion of a new dark age. As a free trade area, the EEC may have been a good idea, but as anything more, it is an affront to democracy.

  • Comment number 82.


    Are you wating for mandleson to get back in the country before chasing him for more answers?

    I can see the BBC might be short of people in russia, as they have so many in the USA (I have heard, that for some weird reason the BBC have more than any of the american news organisation...).

    A bit of balance for bens article would be good:-

    He presents it as the 'osborn yacht story' and minimises reference to mandleson.

    Particulalry missing the fact(?) that mandleson stayed on the yacht for a number of days/nights - where as osborne just visited for drinks.

    To be honest, I don't really see how mandleson cannot declare it -- it appears to be a gift of a weeks luxury holiday with partner all expenses paid...

    And given that relationships can span many decades, as a minister it would be sensible for all contacts in (say) the 5 years preceeding appointment were declared under the ministerial code.

    Look forward to you picking up on the mandleson thing again -- with all the time passing you must have masses of material - what a treat we have in store.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nick Robinson, a lightweight journalist in my opinion, is clearly finding it difficult to find something immediately relevant to write about. How about telling us how Brown is going to get civil servants to share the pain the rest of us are going to suffer ref. pensions, etc. how is Brown going to tackle the unions on that one, Nick?

  • Comment number 84.


    now that you've eaten the scraps that have been thrown to you by the Downing St spinners, and you've had time lick your chops, and indulge in some post-prandial grooming, is it time to consider the whole position on Europe?

    Namely only the LibDems are consistently pro-Europe for the entire country. SNP is, so far as they can see something for Scotland exclusively. Labour is hard to predict. was it onla last December that El Gordo snuck in after hours to sign up to the Lisbon treaty? I know it was in his post-election disgrace, and couldn't be seen anywhere, but still.

    UKIP wants out, that's its only raison d'etre, and they can always count on my vote in European elections. The consrevatives can see some benefits IF there are negotiated improvements to the CAP and other cost items. I've already referred to inclement weather in the vicinity of Hell, so don't expect any of these trhings to actually happen.

    So, what, dear Nick, is it that the Labour party expects to get from Europe that makes it essential for us to keep paying? And I do mean paying. We're broke now, should I really keep putting money into that particular pot? Do tell.

  • Comment number 85.

    As I am sure Mr Robinson is well aware, it is becoming increasingly likely that the government will call a snap election in the Spring before the full effect of the recession takes its toll on their poll ratings and while they can still hope to get away with a hung Parliament at worst. Consequently, the first assumption in the above theory, that Ireland call a referendum before the next election, is not going to happen, so the whole point of the piece is questionable at best.

    Not that that should stop there being a debate on what will undoubtedly be a very important issue in the next few years.

  • Comment number 86.

    Back to Nick Robinson - both the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner have now said that Geroge Osborne has no case to answer.

    Will you, Mr. Robinson, now use your blog to publish an unreserved apology for your role in the unfounded and politically biased witchhunt?

    If you refuse, I think those who object to your role should issue a complaint level one for bias via the BBC front page and then appeal the reply that we'll obviously receive so that it is dealt with by the BBC Trust.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think it's right that Nick brings this to our attention. I don't particularly want a labour party (of any shade) in government, but no way would I want a government that was split down the middle about Europe.

    I want a government that will promise to listen to the people about Europe and keep that promise - it is now very apparent that New Labour had no intention of keeping their election pledge.

    Government should be able to multi-task, it is appears that this one can't.

  • Comment number 88.

    The Labour 'boom' was a fake
    And the country's about to break,
    But all Nick will do
    Is pick on the Blue
    Instead of that Mandelson snake.

  • Comment number 89.

    You could, however, come clean and admit this is your response to Alastair Campbell's demand for the media, particularly the TV channels, to scrutinise the Tories as much as possible because "they are getting away with murder", sub text how dare you expose the failings of this government which claimed all the credit for the good times but finds it inconvenient when the wheels come off.

    Some media folks openly admitted months ago that the Tories were being given a free ride and they were being cruel to Labour.

    The last time I checked, governance included the whole of parliament and it's only fair that other parties are scrutinised.

    The media seem to have woken up to their role, and talking a bad party into government isn't a good move.
  • Comment number 90.

    Kaybraes said this:

    "Europe has now become what Hitler envisaged 80 years ago (apart from the death camps)."

    I must refer him or her to a definition of Godwin's Law:

    After that, I suggest that he or she takes an insanity test.

  • Comment number 91.

    i am not a lover of a european super state or the united states of europe becouse i still believe that the english are not european and it would ruin there identity to become part of it.
    but i do like europes recognition of the small ethnic minority races that are dotted around the uk and europe, there is more needed to be done to give these ethnic minorities a measure of freedom and diversity.
    a refferendum on europe is very long over due and it needs to be fair with both sides of the arguement having a free say.
    do we go meekly into the mix of a greater europe or do we stand and fight them on the beaches, never surrender.
    mrs T did do this sountry some good during her years in power and we should be glad of them and try and forgive the errors she made.
    todays tory party needs to realize it was mrs T that gave the modern tories any hope of power.

  • Comment number 92.

    75 Charles

    I try, I honestly try and read your stuff, but it's like reading Ted Hughes, but without the humour.

  • Comment number 93.

    It is a timebomb, indeed.

    Also, consider this. Iceland is in dire straits at the moment and is seriously considering joining the EU. Since Iceland is part of EFTA and the EEA - some acronyms for you to go and look up there - and that EFTA has only 4 members. If Iceland leave it to join the EU that leaves just Norway and Lichtenstein as part of the EEA, which means it is barely viable as an agreement; they will either join the EU or have to negotiate bi-lateral relationships as Switzerland does.

    So, if the Conservative's grand plan is behind the curve, it will not be able to join an EEA as it might have been dissolved. So bi-lateral relations would be the only way forward. So, will the UK be able to negotiate all it wants from a withdrawl from the EU? Will other EU countries keep open trade with the City and allow free trade of goods? I wouldn't be so sure, they would want to punish us.

    Note that EEA countries implement 80% of EU legislation but have no MEPs, Commissioners or Civil Servants representing their interests during the legislative process.

    So, I can see this great idea being a roaring success! God bless 'er and our great country, let's sail the seas and rule the waves. Tootle pip!

  • Comment number 94.

    Is this the living dead of the Thatcherite era ranting in the dark - No - this is the true voice of the authentic Tory party - we and the electorate would wise to remember. These are the authentic Tories - the free market no regulation Tories. (No comment!)

    It is really quite amazing that that women did so much (good???/ lasting damage?) to the Nation and the World. How did she do it? My guess is that it was because she was lawyer and a trained scientist (chemist), but most off all - the conditions were right for a change.

    I recall it even surprised the Tory Grandees when she was chosen as leader. Democracy and even voting for leaders was, and indeed is, alien to most political parties when it comes to selecting a leader - leaders 'emerge'. The people were then persuaded to vote for the party, very much as an afterthought.

    I recall Ted Heath efforts to get the UK into the EEC - a Tory party policy, rather than a Labour party one at the time. I think Margaret Thatcher's personality damaged the UK 's position in Europe rather than helping us. I believe that several of the negotiations should have had a better outcome if she had not been so obstructive and down right offensive to our friends.

    All parties have a problem with the 'Europe issue'. These performers at Westminster like to think that they 'run' things as they did in the days and the Empire - they don't, they never did, but they believe they did. This false historic memory blinds them to the present realities of the World.

    We are part of Europe, geographically and most importantly economically these are facts. We had better get used to it, and do the best we can together with our friends and neighbours. We should leave the isolationist ranters to shout in the wilderness where they belong- except it may well destroy the 'unity' of Cameron's Tory party! (And indeed Brown's Labour Party!)

  • Comment number 95.

    The forces of Good shall prevail
    And Gordon's pet project will fail.
    Labour like to maintain
    That they feel all our pain:
    Yeah, and Clinton didn't inhale.

  • Comment number 96.

    This blog now seems to be about Nick Robinson. When that other BBC journalist, as was, Alistair Campbell, became the story he at least had the good grace to quit

  • Comment number 97.

    Nick you are pre-supposing that the EU and the eurozone will come through the present financial mess unscathed. Don't count on it - it is early days yet.

    In fact, I have in front of me a copy of last Saturdays edition of the left wing intellectuals favourite newspaper. That quotes an MIT professor and advisor to IMF saying that if there is a sufficiently deep recession the eurozone may not survive. He then claims that European countries with large financial systems such as Switzerland, Sweden and the UK develop a regulatory framework which recognises that important institutions may have to be bailed out by Europe as a whole.

    In other words, countries that are not in the eurozone will have to ride to the rescue. How ironic!

    As for Conservative policy on a referendum, if my memory is correct at the party conference one of the shadow cabinet - either Hague or Cameron - did actually make that commitment.

    And before anyone accuses me of being anti-European I am not. I do, however, separate Europe and the EU.

  • Comment number 98.

    It's an historical fact that the two main driving forces within the EU are the only countries who sought to exert executive dominance over the whole territory.

    Post WWII, the French (who'd been beaten up by the Prussians / Germans 3 times within 70 years), quite understandably wished to get economically and politically closer to their old enemies. Quite right too.

    I was quite happy to be a part of a European Economic Community. I still can't see that has happened yet. If anyone had tried to buy Air France, when they were effectively bankrupt some years ago, does anyone really believe France would have permitted that?

    It's easy to talk about a United States of Europe, as if it somehow equates to the USA. Easy if you don't understand the history of the USA.

    The original "post war of independence" US was a fairly narrow strip of territory on the Atlantic seaboard. Expanded by the Louisianna purchase (extending from Canada down to New Orleans) when Napoleon was short of cash to fight the Brits and others in Europe. Increased by a fight with the Mexicans to claim huge additional territories (check out the San Franscisco, San Antonio legacy). Extended by buying Alaska from Russia.

    Held together by a language imposed from the Atlantic core, with laws largely based on an English model (with regional variants).

    And held together by a destructive Civil War.

    With a French wife, many years working for a European company and subsequently dealing with organisations in most of the EU countries, I feel pretty European.

    If anyone has a template for a Community that doesn't assume some "elite", unelected group (or hardly elected group like MEPs), without the smugness, I'd happily consider it.

    If they can explain how a multi-language, multi-religion, multi-cultural population will elect a Head of Government, I'd be amazed.

    Especially if laws, regulations and edicts can be subjected to a genuine public acceptance, not a "nod through" because it takes too much time to scrutinise the details.

    Anti-European? No. Never have been.

    Anti unfetered lawmakers? Absolutely.

    Prob is that the idiots we currently have just can't control their desire to exercise power.

    Hence the "farmers shouldn't use tractors when the soil is wet, to avoid soil erosion".

    If there's a regulation, it should be regulated. Does that imply we should have "tractor usage monitors"? Allied to Met office officials to check on actual rainfall impacts, who pounce on folk who can't afford houses anywhere close to where they live, because prices have shot up so much?

    Who the heck really cares whether you buy a kilo, pound or bucket load of vegetables?

    Do you really think that others would employ folk to hover around in order to castigate the "offenders"?

  • Comment number 99.

    Can Nick explain how Huw Edwards announced on the ten o'clock news that Osborne admitted to having made a mistake by " discussing donations" ? At no time did Osborne admit to discussing donations. He certainly admitted to making a mistake , but he never at any time mentioned donations, apart from saying that he would not take any future part in fundraising.

  • Comment number 100.

    #57 Freeborn-John

    The central obstacle to acceptance by the UK of the supremacy of EC law is the fundamental constitutional principle of Parliamentary sovereignty... this traditionally holds that Parliament has the power to do anything other than bind itself for the future. This has made it very difficult for the UK to transfer (on a permanent basis, according to the ECJ in Costa v ENEL) sovereignty.

    The UK signed and ratified the EC Treaties in 1972, but to give internal effect to Community Law, an Act of Parliament was required.. The European Communities Act 1972. By Sections 2(1) and 2(2) of the Act, Community obligations are either given direct effect or implemented by means of Orders in Council or statutory instrument rather than by further acts of Parliament.

    The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is not undermined, and really cannot be, by the 1972 Act. It can be amended or repealed by a simple parliamentary majority, as can any other piece of legislation. If repealed, all EU legislation would be disregarded by UK courts, but of course, that would mean ceasing to be a member.

    So, the UK implements this 'dualist' system of implementation of EU law, ie EU laws are not directly part of UK law in the sense of an act of parliament. (Contrast with the French monist approach where EU legislation essentially becomes part of French law).

    The problem lies for you, and other Euro-sceptics, with the existence of the Union and the UK's membership of it, not just with the way that EU directives, regulations and decisions have an effect (direct or otherwise) in UK law.

    Essentially, are we in or out?... is the question. If in, then pooling of sovereignty cannot be avoided, no use griping about it. If membership wasn't advantageous, its clear that the UK wouldn't be there at all. As for making a distinction between 'economic' or 'trading' legislation with 'political', that's farcical, because its all political.

    If you're a member of a football team, and you keep not turning up, griping, or keep walking off every time something happens which you don't like, there will be consequences. First the team suffers, second, you won't be wanted, and third, your team-mates won't be around when you need them. That's why neither the Tories, Labour, or LibDems would pull us out, only crackpots would do that. The SNP, if Scotland gains independence, want to be fully part of the EU, as does Plaid Cymru, in Wales.

    That leaves UKIP, which lives on a planet of its own invention, not the real world.


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