Turning the Juggernaut … Cameron’s renegotiation cannot be simply about returning powers from a status quo – his challenge is to reverse an accelerating juggernaut

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A rather bad photograph, taken from my seat, of Merkel and Hollande

Wednesday October 7th was quite a day in the Strasbourg parliament, even by the normal standards of a Strasbourg week.  At noon we had an address from King Felipe VI of Spain, which could have been (probably was) drafted by the European Commission.  Sheer, fulsome, unadulterated EU propaganda.

Then the standard Wednesday voting session, at 12:30, when rather to my surprise we managed to exclude off-shore installations from the EU’s perverse and damaging “Medium Combustion Plants Directive” (younger brother of the “Large Combustion Plant Directive”, which  has decimated our coal-fired generation in the UK).  Had we failed to get that off-shore exclusion, it would have been another nail in the coffin of our North Sea oil and gas business.

I then attended a lunch of the Kangaroo Group (and before you ask, there’s no such thing as a free lunch – it was €15).  Of course I profoundly disagree with these guys, but I love to be counter-consensual, and I think they rather appreciate me going – think how dull it would be if no one disagreed.

Then at three we had the Pièce de Résistance: Speeches from the leaders of the EU’s two most powerful countries, Angela Merkel and François Hollande, with a “debate” consisting of responses by Group Leaders in the parliament.  Merkel was wearing Margaret Thatcher blue, but the comparison didn’t really work in Merkel’s favour.

Most of this, of course, was fairly predictable stuff.  The usual self-justification over the €uro, and the immigration crisis.  Above all, the call to solve Europe’s problems with … you guessed it … more Europe!  Perhaps the most effective speaker along these lines was the irrepressible (but faintly ridiculous) Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal Group, who wanted integration of everything, more or less, and who described the European parliament as “the cradle of European democracy”.  Given that democracy “at the European level” does not and cannot work, and cannot achieve democratic legitimacy, given the lack of a common“demos” on which it could be based, plus the fact that the European parliament is a remote institution that has little or no traction in the public mind (the Euro-elections merely being an opportunity every five years to express our disaffection with Brussels), Verhofstadt’s proposition was doubly absurd.

Admittedly a few speakers were prepared to criticise the EU project, and to point out that what started as a collegiate venture was now dominated by Germany and France – and especially by Germany.  These included the leaders of the ECR, the ENF, and our own Nigel Farage.  It was rather ironic to see a would-be President of the French Republic, Marine le Pen, lambasting the current President of the French Republic, François Hollande.  But as usual the best speech of the day was Nigel’s.

But the fireworks came at the end, in Hollande’s summing up.  In his unscripted remarks he got rather carried away.  He called for a common asylum policy (with “burden-sharing”), a common border force and coast-guard, a common foreign and security policy, with common armed forces, and a common economic government of the EU with common funding (burden sharing now seems to include pooled debt) and a Treasury.  That is the vision of one of the key drivers of the European project, and Angela Merkel at his side certainly didn’t demur.

It struck me that in his renegotiation, Cameron doesn’t seem to understand what he is up against.  He thinks in terms of returning a few fairly marginal and cosmetic powers from an established and stable institution.  But it’s not established and stable.  Hollande came out with the old cliché: “If we don’t go forward, we shall go backwards”.  (Cue wild applause from UKIP MEPs).  Cameron will find that his assault is not on a stable system, but on a moving target, and express train, a Juggernaut.  The eurocrats are not going to abandon their ambitions, or turn the Juggernaut around, to assuage British concerns.

Hollande was quite explicit.  “We hope you share these values and these aspirations.  But if not, then you don’t have to stay on board.  You should go”.  Cue further wild applause from UKIP MEPs.

Taken aback by the reaction, he added spitefully “You can leave.  You can be isolated. You can abandon prosperity and democracy”.  Usually I am fairly unmoved by this nonsense, but I must admit that I really felt annoyed over this outburst, though of course it was greeted with loud applause from the largely europhile chamber.  It must be easy for visitors to the EP like Merkel and Hollande to believe they have the support of European Citizens, when the representatives of those European Citizens are such enthusiasts for the project, while we naysayers are a small minority.  But Hollande and Merkel were merely preaching to the choir.

Why was I annoyed?  It was this suggestion that somehow leaving the EU was “abandoning democracy”.  One of the key reasons we want to leave the EU is because it denies us democracy, for the reasons I set out above, and because it is wholly unaccountable, unresponsive, and unrepresentative.  Because it has a massive contempt for the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people.  What we want, in plain terms, is independence, self-determination, freedom and democracy in our own country.  The EU applauds that aspiration in oppressed countries around the world – yet treats it as heresy for EU member-states.

I have a sense – as do my colleagues in the Party – that Brexit, which looked unlikely a few months ago, is looking more probable day by day.  As I said at the Party Conference “Let’s go back to our constituencies and prepare for Independence”.

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12 Responses to Turning the Juggernaut … Cameron’s renegotiation cannot be simply about returning powers from a status quo – his challenge is to reverse an accelerating juggernaut

  1. Jane Davies says:

    Tut tut Roger…..although I agree with all you say above I have to take you to task about describing what Ms Merkel was wearing….the usual dare I say sexist slant, because you don’t describe what the men are wearing!
    Having said that whatever colour Merkel wears is of no consequence as colour cannot disguise her demeanour of dourness! The photo above does enhance her charm though!
    By the way….how many times does Cameron pay a visit and listen to all of this garbage?

    • I’m comparing one famous woman with another famous woman. And Maggie’s blue was her trade mark — even more so than Corbyn’s vest. No apologies for that!

    • And another comment, Jane. I write about what interests me, and what I hope may interest my readers. And I have to say that I find Maggie’s blue a great deal more interesting than Corbyn’s vest. If that’s politically
      Incorrect — so be it!

      • Jane Davies says:

        My comment was tongue in cheek Roger……I seem to have unintentionally ruffled your feathers! I thought you would have summed up my weird humour by now….sorry if I upset you. Can you answer my question about Cameron……or am I on the naughty list now?

  2. Anne says:

    You speak of the past, yet the past is now but a hazy memory. The present is but an illusion, a silent thought, the future is the nightmare yet to come.

    Democracy was among the first of those victims to lose its head in those once hallowed Halls where honourable men and women of yesteryear did sit. But yesterday’s men and women fought and won a war, those whose names will ne’re be forgot, yet on they linger in the thoughts of man.
    They that gave ‘their all’ that we might live in peace, freedom and liberty, to be governed by laws the true Brit shall writ. To no man shall we be beholden nor bow, for we are well able to look out for ourselves, a once great Statesman said.

    I have no stomach to speak of truth, honesty or integrity, for they were the next victims to fall by the wayside, yet still ye look to the Crown, alas reduced in the signing of that first document, to just a figure-head.
    Hope is only a promise of deliverance left for you, unless you have “courage” to face that which is yet to come. But the way be strewn with debris that others before ye have cast away.

    Hold high your head, for you are surrounded by those that would harm you.
    Wear well your armour against the traitor waiting at the gate. Your patron saint, St George was indeed well chosen for the dragon spewing forth flames of hate of all things good, feeds on greed and power, a power that will in the end, devour itself.

    Be ye there, you ever faithful countryman, at the ready for it is to you, that those hard pressed forces abroad look to, to once more keep the home fires burning and the welcome light shining through the windows that have been darkened by the rules of strangers that you once extended the hand of friendship to. Remember that those ancient Barons gave you the greatest of all gifts, for it is yours forever.

  3. Jane Davies says:

    Great comments by Nigel Farage today……..

    • Andy says:

      One can imagine what the Merkel and Hollande thought of this speech. I wonder what the views of the leaders of the other nations in the EU were.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Didn’t Farage say at the recent Essex meet she wasn’t much fun on a night out? All damp rags I suspect and very dangerous!

    I’ll go along with Lawson on this at the annual convention of the Institute of Directors (IoD) the other day which has no video available…but this is similar:

    Just don’t hear what the people in the EU want do we….just the fanatics in the EP.

  5. Linda Hudson says:

    Totally agree with you Roger!

  6. Brin Jenkins says:

    I think most of us know Cam-moron has no interest in changing matters. He was put in place after Bilderberg approval to complete a job started a long time ago. To be honest he has done a fair job for them, and I expect he will be well rewarded just like Blair was.

  7. Jane Davies says:

    I see Merkel was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! In the end, it went to the National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia. But why was Merkel even in the running? For bringing social devastation to Europe and exacerbating a refugee crisis that is causing mayhem across the continent?
    Bad enough that Obama got it, if this woman had won the whole organisation would have lost all credibility.

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