Let us set aside for one moment whether the House of Commons debate scheduled for Monday will actually achieve anything other than confirming MPs are a craven bunch of lying hypocrites, whether or not this is the right time and for an In/Out referendum on the EU, or if the Westminster Parliament has enough competence to resume powers that have been given away. There is some good news amongst the mess.
The amendment tabled by George EUstice to this Monday’s debate on a Motion relating to the holding of a national referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, and Bernard Jenkin’s subsequent letter to EUstice which was copied to all backbench Conservative MPs (reproduced below) confirms our argument that EUstice is a Europhile stooge.
With poll after poll showing a majority of people in this country want an In/Out referendum, George EUstice is now doing his level best to subvert the wishes of the people and fulfil the wishes of David Cameron. EUstice claims to be a Eurosceptic, but the reality is EUstice is pro-EU. He wants to keep Britain in the EU and arrogantly believes it can be reformed, despite this belief being utterly incompatible with the EU’s definitive aims and conditions of membership. This letter from Jenkin holes EUstice below his Europhile waterline:
Firstly, David Nuttall’s motion sums up the EU question which faces the nation: do we carry on with EU integration on present terms of membership; or get out altogether; or renegotiate revised terms of membership? Your amendment seeks to narrow the terms of the debate by removing reference to one option which is clearly available to this country, which is to leave the EU. I personally don’t agree with an in-out referendum, but I recognise that that it is a legitimate option to be debated. The argument that this was not in our manifesto is irrelevant.I think we all appreciate your and others’ efforts to build bridges here, but I feel I must make it clear to colleagues why I (and probably most colleagues) cannot support the amendment as drafted. I am copying this to backbench colleagues.
Second, you advance your amendment on the basis that it is consistent with the coalition agreement, but this is not relevant either. Both the coalition agreement and our manifesto have both been overtaken by events. Support for fiscal union in the Euro area was not in either – and would have never have been entertained if it had been proposed for either document. It is fiscal union which is leading to a fundamental change in the character of the EU, and which has given rise to the demand for this debate.
Third, as a supporter of renegotiation, why am I not tempted by your amendment? Because any remit for renegotiation must set out the objective of establishing a new relationship with our EU partners. For such a new relationship to be meaningful, there must be a fundamental change in that relationship. It must restore the basic democratic principle that the authority to pass laws should be democratically accountable to those who are affected by them. The powers delegated to the EU (or withdrawn) must in future be determined by Parliament, and not by the EU institutions acting autonomously. Without this, nothing much will change. The difficulty we now face is that the EU Treaties are now so all encompassing, and the institutions so assertive, that the exercise of merely nibbling back powers and competences here and there would not reverse the effect of the Lisbon Treaty on the UK, or Nice, or Amsterdam, or Maastricht, or the Single European Act, or address the fundamental problems which actually arise from the Treaty of Rome.
Finally, there is a great danger that Parliament will emerge from this looking very out of touch if the House is not to debate the original motion or at least something which reflects its spirit. The BBBC adopted this motion in response to the e-petitions which demand an in-out EU referendum. Had the authors of the amendment approached the BBBC with their motion, it would not have been entertained by the BBBC, since there are no e-petitions behind it. If this amendment were to be selected, the debate and the vote which followed would be on the amendment, and not on the main motion – hardly an example of e-petitions working as they were intended!
Bernard Jenkin MP (Harwich and North Essex)
Chairman, PASC (Public Administration Select Committee)
More people will be asking what kind of Eurosceptic would put forward an amendment which attempts to delay a national referendum on EU membership until after the UK had ‘renegotiated its position’ in the EU? After all, such a call only serves the interests of the EU and those who are pro-EU. Questions are being asked and the true face of EUstice is being revealed to more of those who have been taken in by his scam.
EUstice, along with fellow unprincipled climber, Chris Heaton-Harris, thought they were merely doing their master’s bidding – and their careers a favour – by forming the Parliamentary group of Europlastics to act as a pressure valve to ease the demands in some Tory party quarters for a straight In/Out referendum concerning our membership of the EU.
But it seems EUstice and Heaton-Harris have been too clever by half. Their vanity has compounded their stupidity and led them to court so much media attention for their supposedly Eurosceptic club they have painted themselves into a corner. It appears to be backfiring spectacularly. With some in the media completely taken in by the EUstice/Heaton-Harris con trick, and others trying to help them in their attempt to undermine genuine Eurosceptics, copious amounts of oxygen have been pumped onto the story with unintended consequences.
Something that was supposed to grow no larger than a small flame to contain those who want Cameron to fulfil his Eurosceptic promises is now burning out of control. Outside the Westminster bubble ordinary people, campaign groups and some of the useful idiots in the media who were taken in by the EUstice/Heaton-Harris spin and deception have seized the moment and given it a momentum that was never intended.
A debate in the House of Commons the Tory high command never wanted is now going to be held. MPs who were selected for their supposed Eurosceptic credentials are now being called out by the people who were taken in by them and expect them to deliver on their pre-election pledges. Cameron and Hague are seething with anger and have, with breathtaking arrogance, moved a backbench debate forward so they can personally attend and rein in those who are might go too far in playing to their constituency audiences and the public in general. It would be hilarious if it were not so serious.
So, on to that good news I referred to. There are some upsides to all this.
After the debate it is likely that more people will be more aware than ever that all but a single digit number of Tory MPs who profess to be Eurosceptic are anything of the sort. David Cameron and William Hague’s claims to be Eurosceptic will be finally exposed as utter cant, further eroding their credibility with the less engaged members of the public. The BBC’s desire to showcase apparent Tory splits in news headlines will awaken resentment of the EU among more people outside the Westminster bubble, making our membership more unpopular and unsustainable. And the political class will be more marginalised than ever as more people grasp the fact none of the three main parties share our views or interests – and that the idea of representative democracy is an illusion.
Before people can set about fixing something they have to understand exactly what is broken. At this time not enough people realise what is broken. This Parliamentary debate and the furore surrounding it will help more people on that journey of understanding. No matter what the outcome of the debate itself, the charade that brought it about will bring about some positive benefits.