The Sophistry of Richard Corbett

During the parliament’s February Strasbourg session, we voted the Corbett report on the Lisbon Treaty (aka the Renamed EU Constitution).  There was an amendment that simply said “This house will recognise the outcome of the Irish Referendum” (which takes place soon).  The amendment was overwhelmingly voted down.  (OK.  I put my hand up.  I abstained.  It was simply an error, and I greatly regret it).
In a meeting of the Constitutional Affairs Committee yesterday, we were discussing the poor turnout in Euro-elections, and the apparent voter disengagement from the European project.  Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott pointed out that we could hardly expect Irish voters to engage with the EU when we had just voted against respecting the result of the Irish Referendum.  Corbett was apoplectic, shouting “No we didn’t” (I was shouting “Yes you did”) and insisting on making a point of order in response.  His explanation was about the most extraordinary piece of self-serving sophistry that I have heard in nearly nine years in the parliament (and I’ve heard a lot!).
We weren’t voting to reject the outcome of the Irish referendum, he said.  Not at all.  We were merely voting not to put that wording into the text of the report.  And why did we not want to put those words in the report?  Why, said Corbett, because “It is self-evident that this parliament would respect the outcome of any national referendum — not just Ireland”.
I have rarely seen an MEP dig himself an elephant-trap, and fall into it quite so quickly.  Self-evident, is it?  The European parliament was quite happy to reject the Danish referendum on Maastricht (1992); the Irish Referendum on the Nice Treaty (2000); and most spectacularly the French and Dutch referendum results on the EU Constitution in 2005.  Self-evident that we respect the result of national referenda, Richard?  No.  It’s self-evident that we don’t.
In my short intervention following Corbett, I reminded the Committee (how they hated it!) that while some 80% of MEPs had voted for the Corbett report supporting the Lisbon Treaty, a large-scale postal ballot in the UK with a stunning response rate (for a private referendum) of 36%+ had voted 89% against the Lisbon Treaty.  The parliament will reject that as well.  The Constitutional Affairs Committee is trying to read the tea-leaves to find why turnout is drifting down in European elections.  They could start to solve the problem by listening to the people.

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6 Responses to The Sophistry of Richard Corbett

  1. Anne Palmer says:

    Good for you Roger, I am glad you are there rooting for the people of Ireland as well as for the British. It is a great pity that all 27 nations do not see that that is what the European Union SHOULD BE ABOUT taking into consideration all views. The Union will fail because the leaders are driven by wanting complete power. All they are doing by their present actions is driving people away. Without the people (yes the people not just the LEADERS) behind them, it will fail and for which the people throughout the world will suffer , sadly, not just the people in the European Union for there is indeed a life outside the Union.

  2. Pingback: Corbett Digging a Big Hole |

  3. Mandy Worrall says:

    Some people say the EU Constitution AKA The Lisbon Treaty will fail. Certainly hope so, but am also praying every day that it doesn’t take as long to break down as communism did after their Russian revolution.

    I want freedom for all from cradle to grave. Now I fear I will be in mine before were are free again.

    The reaper has come to bury liberty and our leaders have just handed him the shovel. For those who did not do enough to save democracy – and we all know who they are, despite their pretence otherwise – shame on you.

  4. Margot Parker says:

    Once again Roger standing for truth and democracy pity the EU seems to be doing its best to ignore its citizen’s wishes.The EU keep using the word wore transparency but in truth they want the opposite.If ever the EU needed to listen to the people it is now,and by the way could they let the taxpayers in on why the accounts keep being sidelined OOPS how many years is it now?

  5. Roger Helmer says:

    Mandy Worrall: Like you, I hope that the EU won’t last as long as communism after the Russian revolution. But from the revolution to the fall of the Berlin wall was about seventy years. The EU parliament celebrated its 50th birthday last week. On that precedent, D-Day should be about 2028. I may live to see it!

  6. Caoimhin says:

    Thanks for your work and your blogging Roger! Is it possible for you to post a link to the Corbett Report document? There is a lot of online debate about it but no original source of the Report as voted on. Thank you!

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