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Lord Pearson asks a rhetorical question

Posted by Helen Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lord Pearson of Rannoch has sent out a 12 page summary of his arguments against British membership of the European Union. Knowing his lordship’s views, I can safely say that he actually does not think the wretched thing should exist at all but, probably rightly, feels that its dismantling can be done only gradually.

This document is called What is the point of the European Union? and it is a “brief summary of our relationship with ‘Brussels’ including the case for the United Kingdom to leave the EU, and the case to stay”.

In the accompanying letter Lord Pearson explains that this may be his last “turgid tract on ‘Europe’”. Unless he means that he has said everything he wants to or needs to say in this document I hope he is threatening in vain. Most readers enjoy these far from turgid guides.

This one is actually rather jolly and even includes a couple of jokes, which I shall not repeat as I should like our readers to go through the whole document.

Under such headings as :

Our democracy betrayed
How bad is it now and how does it work?
How much does EU membership cost us in cash?
(In fact, he calculates it in district hospitals, which is a novel and useful idea.)
What does the proposed new Constitution have in store for us?

and others, Lord Pearson enumerates the various aspects of the whole project and Britain’s involvement in it, attempts to calculate its financial cost on the basis of Ian Milne’s pamphlet A Cost Too Far?, and merely analyzes the price this country has paid in lost freedom, democracy and the lesser matters of economic competitiveness.

There is also a scrupulous attempt to pull together all the arguments the euro-integrationists have produced over the years and to answer them.

In a carping sort of way, I should like to point out one error and one omission. On page 3 Lord Pearson says:

“The fourth feature is that no changes can be made to the Treaties unless they are agreed unanimously in the Council of Ministers. So, renegotiations of the Treaties is not realistic; the only way out is the door.”
In fact it is the European Council, made up of the heads of state and government and assisted by the ministers of foreign affairs, meeting nowadays four times a year, that has the right to change the treaties. The rest of the point is fair.

On page 6 there is an attempt to add up the amount we hand over to the Brussels machine every year and the amount that is given back (considerably less) “for projects here which are diseigned to enhance their wretched image”. It is worth mentioning that the money that is handed back has to have matching funding.

Apart from these points I can find nothing wrong. So, for once, this blog is actually encouraging people to read and disseminate something. The full text is available on the Bruges Group website. Let us remember the motto of the mongoose: Go seek!.