Westminster’s European Scrutiny Committee, an influential cross-party committee of MPs with an in-built Labour majority, has looked in detail at the EU’s “Reform Treaty”, and its conclusions are striking. They confirm what I and other sceptics have been saying for months, and they do so in the most authoritative terms. It will not be easy for the government to brush aside their verdict.
They conclude that in essence and in outcome, the Treaty is the same as the failed Constitution. In an appendix, they list 400 clauses from the Constitution which are substantially reproduced in the Treaty. They dismiss the government’s “Red Lines” as making little difference. And for good measure, they recall that whereas the stated purpose of the Constitutional process was to make the EU accessible, transparent and open for the public, the drafting of the treaty has in fact been conducted in secrecy behind closed doors, and the text seems designed to confuse.
The Committee confirms what European Leaders have been saying for months. Commission President José Manuel Barroso says the EU is “The first non-Imperial Empire”. Spanish PM José Zapatero says: “We have not let a single substantial point of the Constitutional Treaty go … it is without doubt much more than a treaty. It is a project of a foundational character, a treaty for a new Europe”. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who drafted the failed Constitution, said “All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way”. Irish PM Bertie Ahern: “Thankfully they haven’t changed the substance. 90% is still there”. Other European leaders have bid up the percentage, quoting 95% or 98%.
In the spring of this year, the then President-in-Office of the Council, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, wrote to EU heads of state proposing that the new Treaty should have “presentational changes and different terminology, but with the same legal effect“. She showed a stunning cynicism, and a vast contempt for democratic values. This was dishonesty of a high order. She also demonstrated beyond doubt that the European élites were determined to have their treaty in defiance of public opinion.
Europe Minister Jim Murphy astonished MPs when he told them that the British government would have only 48 hours in which to consider this long, complicated and highly technical document. Not only are we supposed to sacrifice our independence and democracy on the altar of the EU, but we are not even being allowed time to read and understand the terms of our surrender. Here in Britain, we now have virtually all the major national newspapers backing calls for a referendum. 98% of our MPs were elected on a manifesto pledge of referendum. The Conservative Party is committed to a referendum (and to a NO vote). Honourable MPs from Labour and the Lib-Dems are making the same call. Even some euro-philes are demanding a vote to legitimise their European project. And in Gordon Brown’s back-yard, the TUC Conference has called for a referendum.
The Sun, in its own referendum campaign, published a picture of a buxom blonde with a T-Shirt slogan: “Give us one, Gord!”. I think he’s going to have to do so.