Bill Cash is the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee and MP for Stone.
By a bitter irony, Manuel Barroso lectured the British people on their European credentials from Chatham House, the former residence of William Pitt the Elder – a man who knew a thing or two about Britain and its role in the world.
In his sermon, he led us through the highways and byways of EU propaganda and downright disinformation. He told us that the Union has emerged from the financial storms “more united, more open and stronger”.
Has he not observed the protests and riots in many of the capitals of Europe? Does he not know that in Spain and in Greece and in other countries the unemployment level for the young has obscenely risen under his leadership to over 50 per cent? Is he not aware that in several EU countries the unemployment level is running at over 20 per cent, and that when he tells us that the European Union has shown the capacity to reform, there is no evidence whatsoever of this in practice? SMEs flounder under the weight of overregulation and cannot obtain loans from the banks – is this his vision of prosperity?
On trade, he tells us that over half of our trade is within the European Union and we have access to a free market, as he puts it, of over 500 million people, but what he does not admit is that we ran a trade deficit last year of £56bn within the so-called Single Market. As to the issue of a free market, our public utilities have been bought up by French and German conglomerates when we have no equal access in the same economic spheres in return.
He talks about the growth of global trade, but the UK is already running a substantial surplus in our trading with the rest of the world in contrast with our massive deficit within the European Union. He blithely asserts that “Europe today is stronger than it was ten years ago” and seeks to take credit for the enlargement with thirteen new countries over the past ten years, much of which is paid for by subsidies, our net contribution to the European Union and the printing of money.
He talks about growth when every other political and economic commentator knows that growth is sclerotic, that Europe is, as Jeremy Warner wrote in the DailyTelegraph recently, already dying on its feet, and that “the only thing that holds the whole endeavour together seems to be fear of the consequences if it blows apart”. Just compare this with the growth forecast for the UK, our plummeting unemployment and the stability of our economy outside the euro. Where’s the beef, Barroso?
Warner then rightly warned British business and the City to be wary of the argument that for the UK to leave the European Union would be a disaster. Bear in mind that we have lost every court case brought by the Government to challenge the implementation of European regulation over the City of London and financial services and we are destined to lose more, even with Commissioner Hill in charge. I have described his role as a “poisoned chalice”, because he is not only invigilated by a cabal of President Juncker with Martin Selmayr at his side but also has other Vice-Presidents invigilating his work. He is inevitably obliged by his oath to subscribe to the existing laws and structures now in place, and the European Scrutiny Committee will be cross-examining Lord Hill on his role on 29th October in public. I warned the City in 2008 in letters to the Financial Times that it would lose out to the European regulators through majority voting.
Barroso calls for “ever closer union”, pretending that this would be of sovereign nations but ignoring the obvious retort that it is impossible to be a sovereign nation when you cannot enact your own laws or govern your own country.
He says that he wants us to debate the question of whether we stay in or leave the European Union but then adds, “without putting into question the fundamentals”, which is utterly absurd. It is precisely because of our democratic freedoms, the sovereignty of our Parliament and our intrinsic understanding of the political will that moulded our history over four hundred years which has enabled us to withstand invasion and tyranny and save Europe in two successive world wars. Defeat for Germany in those terrible wars should not obscure the fact that Britain cannot and must not ever relegate itself to becoming locked into a second-rank of a two-tier Europe dominated by Germany itself. This is neither in the interests of Germany, nor of Europe itself and certainly not the United Kingdom.
Barroso puts enormous emphasis on the so-called four freedoms, but we might ask the question why the European Union does not include democracy as one of its basic freedoms. And why have France and Germany refused to obey the Stability and Growth Pact in relation to the freedom of capital, with apparent impunity? Is not the Rule of Law a fundamental principle of freedom, too? And as to the Single Market and freedom of services, why is that the Single Market is so clearly incomplete in essential economic spheres? The EU’s freedoms are applied inconsistently when it suits them.
I mentioned above that Warner argues respectively that we must challenge the EU and that the EU is in its death throes, as I have argued since Maastricht. I wrote in the 1990s that the system which was being devised would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, that there would be massive unemployment, protests and riots in the streets and the rise of the Far Right. Now, 20 years later, the outgoing president of the European Union has demonstrated at Chatham House that he and his EU collaborators have learned nothing.
The present EU architecture undermines British democracy and sovereignty and generates massive economic and political instability throughout Europe. Both profoundly affect our vital national interest. However unpalatable to Mr Barroso or the EU establishment or those who would appease them, we have reached the point where we must face them down. His speech is testament to that.
We must reassert the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament and enact the present Referendum Bill to allow British voters to have their say as soon as possible.
The European Scrutiny Committee, of which I am Chairman, published its unanimous report in November last year, subsequently supported by a hundred Conservative MPs and others, recommending the repeal of European laws where necessary in our national interest. This would be done by enacting legislation “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972” and, similarly, reasserting the use of the veto. Our Supreme Court would be obliged to give effect to such legislation, by-passing the Court of Justice.
We would then make our own laws, including those on immigration and extradition, and – given the appalling figures from the National Audit Office – deport foreign national offenders. We would continue trade and political co-operation within Europe. They need us more than we need them. There is a judgement to be made, but not at the price of our freedom and the sovereignty of our Parliament for which people fought and died.
It is simply not in our democratic national interest to pretend that we can resolve fundamental differences in our relationship with the European Union within the existing framework of European law. After all, other Member States such as Germany and France have blithely ignored EU law such as the Stability and Growth Pact with impunity. If the Liberal Democrats use their votes to stand in the way, the Coalition must be ended.