Saturday, September 08, 2007

"Poisonous debates"

Assorted Europhiles have reacted sharply to the cross-party campaign for an EU referendum, now bolstered by EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.

He is warning "pro-European" MPs not to get drawn into an "anti-Europe campaign" by supporting a referendum, accusing supporters of wanting "the UK to withdraw from the EU." "I'm afraid those pro-Europeans arguing for a referendum risk being drawn into supporting this agenda," he adds. A return to the "poisonous" debates of the past on Europe would reduce the UK's influence, he then cautioned.

Mandelson is joined by Roland Rudd, founding chairman of Business for New Europe and former board member of the now defunct Britain in Europe. Writing for Comment is free, he declares that, "Eurosceptics are swimming against the tide". "Don't be fooled," he proclaims, "Britain could only lose from a referendum on the EU reform treaty."

Rudd is referring to a gathering of 250 self-styled young trendies who gathered at an exclusive central London nightclub to mark the launch of the "I want a referendum" campaign, informing them that, "one of the most powerful advocates of the realpolitik of majority voting was Mrs Thatcher", having "transferred several policy areas to majority voting in the Single European Act".

In a masterful example of selective quoting, he then cites a passage from Thatcher’s memoirs, which states: "British businesses would be among those most likely to benefit from an opening-up of other countries' markets [.] The price which we would have to pay to achieve a Single Market with all its economic benefits, though, was more majority voting in the Community."

Perhaps, Rudd concludes, some of the 250 youngsters attending the party, many of whom were born during Mrs Thatcher's prime ministership, would do well to read the relevant passages in her memoirs more closely.

But then, when they have finished that, they might read Thatcher’s later book, Statecraft, written long after she had retired from active politics. "Europe as a whole is fundamentally unreformable", was her verdict.

So much for Roland Rat Rudd and his "reform" treaty.


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