Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Not a referendum - a veto

Some interesting observations come from Raedwald on the putative EU treaty and a possible UK referendum, with a rather muddled piece by Cranmer - a muddle shared by Janet Daley.

There can be no doubt that if, in the fullness of time, the "colleagues" seek to amend the treaty (and then succeed in so doing) which has the effect of imposing any budgetary conditions on the United Kingdom, or in any way transferring more power from the UK to Brussels, then there should be a referendum. In theory at least.

But we are not there yet, and there is a long way to go before we see the detail of what is proposed – the Merkozy pledging only to have established the "contours" of a new treaty by March.

However, a referendum is not the issue. Should there be a proposal which extends requirements to member states outside the eurozone, then the proper response should be an outright rejection. We would expect HM government to exercise its veto – honouring The Boy's earlier pledge in May last year - and thereby preventing such powers taking effect.

This was in May last year when Cameron declared that "the UK would not agree to the transfer of any sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels as part of any future reforms to EU institutions aimed at protecting the single currency area from economic instability".

It was then that he insisted that "Britain would not be agreeing to any agreement or treaty that drew us further into supporting the euro area. It goes without saying that any treaty, even one that just applied to the euro area, needs unanimous agreement of all 27 EU states including the UK, which of course has a veto".

When it comes to the seventeen members of the eurozone making internal adjustments to their own constitutions, which mandate a requirement to stay within the stability pact on pain of automatic penalties – which seems to be the thrust of the proposal as we know it – then this is not a matter for us.

Such provisions do not affect us directly and, furthermore, we are not in a position to stop them. As the Merkozy have made clear, the intergovernmental route is open, over which we have no influence.

As to any further transfer of powers that might impinge on the UK, we simply do not know what is in store. Therefore, an entirely credible position for HM government on such issues is "wait and see", responding to that which actually materialises, rather than what might be.

But then, in the event that our powers are affected, the only acceptable response is not to pledge a referendum, but to deliver an out-and-out veto. That is what Cameron promised, and he should be held to that promise.

As to the rest, nothing the "colleagues" can do will solve the crisis anyway. It is only a matter of time – even if prolonged – before the eurozone does collapse, and with it the EU. Thus, our energies need to be focused on preparing for that eventuality.

Come the day, a British government will have to lead us out. It does not need a referendum to do that – just the political will. And, at the moment, that is lacking. The Boy has no spine, and there is no surgery yet invented that can give him one.

Nor indeed, does he have any political acumen. What should be a straightforward and easily manageable issue, from a British perspective, he is turning into a domestic political crisis and adding to his growing reputation as a man who cannot be trusted. But he has promised a veto. If need be, that is what we should get.