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Common cause with the Europhiles

Posted by Richard Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Picking up on Rees-Mogg’s article last week in The Times, where he asked, “Are we fools led by liars?”, arch Europhile and former British Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer responds today in a letter headed: "Ramifications of EU constitution".

He writes that Rees-Mogg's depiction of the contrasting British and German views of the constitutional treaty "goes to the heart of the matter." A really candid British government would say:

Our vision of the European constitutional treaty is that it marks the high tide of integration. But that is not a view shared by all other member states. It is unlikely either to be the view of the European Court, which will have a host of ambiguities in the treaty to clarify. Earlier treaties have always served as the springboard for further integration. This one may be no different. We do not know whether the British view will prevail. A "yes" vote will therefore be risky. But, on balance, we think the risk worth taking and therefore commend the treaty to the British people.
We do of course disagree with Sir Christopher’s view that a "yes" vote is a risk worth taking but with his central points, that "earlier treaties have always served as a springboard for further integration" and that "this one may be no different", we completely agree.

That we should agree with such an arch-Europhile is not surprising. As my colleague argued in late January on this Blog between the committed Eurosceptics and Eurphiles, there are no differences between us in that we both accept that the EU agenda is one of further and ever deeper integration. It is the rather woolly-minded individuals in between that annoys us both.

But we are now building a picture. On the one hand, we have the government, represented by Jack Straw who argue that the constitution is the end of the line – "thus far and no further".

On the other, we have an increasing number of Continental politicians, from Dominic Strauss-Kahn, to Joschka Fischer and German Europe minister Hans Martin Bury, and more recently Spanish foreign minister Señor Miguel Ángel Moratinos, all of whom acknowledge that the constitution is merely another step towards further integration. And now we have Sir Christopher Meyer.

Basically, the Straw view is untenable. By no stretch of the imagination can the constitution be regarded as the end of the line and voting for it in the EU referendum will be equivalent to signing a blank cheque.

That the government is so keen to conceal this suggests that it is worried about the implications which, in campaigning terms, indicates that we should push this issue for all it is worth. In that, with the Europhiles, it seems we have common cause.