European Movement UK

Britain's future is with Europe! Join the debate and put your opinion forward!

Events over the last few days should not come as a surprise. Mr Cameron has for a while now been unable to impose his authority upon his party on the issue of EU membership. Even though he has expressed the wish to keep Britain in the EU (albeit the reduced, one-dimensional and irrelevant EU he envisions) his lack of conviction has allowed the extreme right and Europhobic part of his party to pull him further and further away towards their agenda on EU membership.

Of course his predicament is to a large extent of his own making. Like a figure in an ancient Greek tragedy, he is the author of his own fate. He has placated the Europhobic members of his party every step of the way. First by pooling out of the influential centre-right European People’s right, then by ineffectual veto of the Fiscal Treaty, employed just to please their 19th century-like appetite for ‘victories in Europe’, and of course by promising to renegotiate Britain’s Treaty commitments and offering them a referendum on EU membership.

But that was not enough, and it was never going to be enough. Because the Europhobe wing of the Conservative party is guided by a dogma-like obsession to remove Britain from the EU, one way or the other and at all cost. In pursuit of their holy grail they show complete disregard for the interest of their party (and the country at large). The very week that the Prime Minister, and leader of their party, went to the US, in an effort to showcase Britain’s global credentials and to promote the need for and benefits of a US-EU (surprise-surprise) trade deal, his Europhobic backbenchers, branding their isolationist credentials, are sparing no time or effort to engineer ways that, according to them, will end the UK’s participation in the EU (which President Obama called the “expression of the UK’s influence and role in the world”).

The one thing that the past few days have made clear is that those Europhobes’ appetite for a referendum does not stem from their wish to give the British people a say. After all, many of them have resisted referenda on other issues. The real reason behind their wish to hold a referendum is that they (mistakenly) view such a vote on the EU as the only way to remove Britain from the EU and they believe (mistakenly again) that the sooner that referendum takes place the more chances they have to achieve their objectives.

So, expect pressure on the PM, and further concessions from him, to continue. Because what they are currently getting will not, once again, be enough, something blamed this time on their coalition partners. But someone needs to remind them that the Conservative party did not win the election in 2010, to a large extent because it has people like them in its ranks.

There is one aspect of all this that offers Mr Cameron some reprieve. This whole debate is a welcome distraction from the real issues Britain is facing. The ballooning debt and deficit, high unemployment, rising inflation and low interest rates, evaporating people’s savings and putting the British economy on red alert. Going on about “Europe”, often blaming Britain’s economic and social ailments to our EU membership, might be nothing more than a fig leaf, but it is a fig leaf that Mr Cameron is desperate enough to use in an effort to disguise the fact he has not been able to solve the country’s real problems.

Petros Fassoulas, European Movement

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Comments

  1. Just a few observations, euroscepticism covers the entire political spectrum. George Galloway could hardly be described as on the extreme right yet he was one of the non Tory MPs who voted this week in condemnation of the fact that a referendum was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. Gisela Stuart another Labour MP and one of the UK representatives during the European Constitution negotiations (worth reading her account of how the representatives were ignored by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) wrote in The Times 8th May 2013 detailing why the UK should leave the EU. Indeed a significant number of Labour MPs have expressed concern at the way the EU is progressing. It is both lazy and inaccurate to constantly depict those against a US of E as of the extreme right, especially as 75 – 82% of people have indicated they want a referendum on the subject, depending on which poll you want to view.

    You mention David Cameron’s visit to the USA and the prospect of a free trade deal with the US. Do you recall in 1998 the New Trans-Atlantic Marketplace discussions and the promise of free trade? These negotiations were stopped by the EU because of pressure from protectionist countries, particularly France. I might point out that if you review the French financial media for this week (La Tribune 15th May 2013) reports are already circulating that France has gathered 13 countries to protect ‘French cultural exceptionalism’ and is preparing to resist any deal that impacts on film and audio visual sectors. Given the history of the EU and free trade deals I would not hold my breath for a deal with the US in the near future.

    If you are going to reference President Obama please could you do so completely. What he said was “you probably want to see if you can fix what is broken in a very important relationship before you break it off – that makes some sense to me”. I suspect most people hearing that would recognise that he is saying the current relationship is broken and it should be examined to see if it can be fixed. This is the position of most of us, the current relationship with the EU is not working, we want to see if the terms of our relationship can be changed to something that is acceptable to the majority, if this is not possible then we want the option of leaving. I would guess the call by President Hollande (16th May 2013) for a “political union in Europe within two years” is not generally acceptable to us.

    The UK economy is clearly very far from good health, and that is our responsibility. It does however stand comparison with growth and unemployment figures for the EZ. We have not suffered six straight quarters of recession with further cuts in output forecast by the OECD, we do not have young unemployment of 23.5% (UK 20.7%) or overall unemployment of 12.1% (UK 7.8%) (Eurostat figures) These averages of course hide Greece and Spain where under EU instruction levels of unemployment are truly horrific (65+% for young people in Greece!!!!)

    In closing, part of the problem that David Cameron has is that the EU has no political mandate at all. The UK electorate have never had an opportunity to vote on the issue while each of the major parties has promised a referendum on the EU over the last 6 years all have renegaded on their promise. The public and many MPs (who are aware of the head of steam building up) do not trust any of the party leaders to deliver on any promise in this area. This is what is forcing David Cameron to accept the public clamour and actually move to what is clearly the centre ground of UK politics (how can a position adopted by 57% of the populous be anything else? http://chathamhousesurvey.org/default/summary/section-6/question-3 )

  2. I’m sure you’re right that division is seen as weakness but I’m not sure that Euro-scepticism is a vote loser for the Conservatives. I think it was possible before the crisis over the common currency to portray the antis as headbangers but given they were right and the pros were wrong, everything is changed.

    I think the debate now is about whether you can leave without damaging key trade relationships? The question which puzzle me is, if a comprehensive trade deal is possible between the EU and the US, why is the deal between the UK and the EU impossible? .

    Perhaps you could explain this apparent contradiction?. .

  3. Petros Fassoulas

    It is a pity that commentators on this subject of Britain’s relationship withe the EU , never seem to see beyond the Prime Minister and members of his political party .
    Politicians are elected to parliament by the people of their constituency and they are expected to represent the people who voted them into parliament .
    I have at one time been invited to a reception to meet a prospective parliamentary candidate , to give a yes or no to his selection . One of the prime considerations in selecting him was that he had to be Eurosceptic enough to support Euroscepticism in parliament .
    If David Cameron and the Conservative Party do not strongly represent the views of the people , which are to a large extent Anti EU Membership , they will be voted out at the next general election .
    As things currently stand , David Cameron seem so torn between , EU pressure , Bank and city of london pressure , corporate pressure and the clamouring wishes of the people , that he doesn’t know which way to go and lacks support from his party .

    Negotiating major changest to the EU and repatriating laws , will be well nigh impossible before 2017 . In any case an IN/OUT referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU will result in OUT , no matter the persuading and campaigning IN from the government .

  4. Re that last sentence of Barneby’s on an IN/OUT referendum inevitably resulting in ‘OUT’. When- or if- it come to it the majority of UK citizens know which side their bread is buttered on, and will vote to stay in.

  5. Sears

    I think you are wrong , the British public do not see any butter on the bread as provided by the EU . If there is butter , it is almost certainly rancid .
    If ever there is a referendum , we shall find out the truth , which way people will vote .

  6. I agree with Mr Sears that a referendum on leaving the EU will result in a vote to stay ‘IN’. This will occur, not because UK citizens ‘know which side their bread is buttered’, but because any referedum will be fixed, as was the retrospective referendum in 1975 on the European Communities Act 1972. This Act was was rammed down people’s throats without a referendum in 1972 and our membership of the EU is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The government and its corporate and global banker backers togther with its ownership of the media will ensure that there is a massive propaganda campaign to fighten everyone silly and they will nuckle under as usual. We do not need a referendum.

    The answer is a political party that represents the deeply held wishes of the people to be able to elect politicians who make our laws and not have them imposed by faceless bureacrats who reside in some distant office block.

    It’s interesting that Mr Petros Fassoulas insults the greater mass of the British population by calling them ‘europhobes’ (how to win friends and influence people!).

    What on earth does he mean by europhobe. Europe is a nebulous entity, what matters are the people who live in France, Germany, UK, Italy, Greece etc not a continental land mass. Britains love their French neighbours but they hate this idea call EU. EU brings nothing but misery to people, it steel peoples money (Cyprus). May the people recover control over their destiny.

  7. Martin Buckley: “The question which puzzle me is, if a comprehensive trade deal is possible between the EU and the US, why is the deal between the UK and the EU impossible?”
    Well, we have one already- with the other 26 countries. Those are the countries in the EU that the USA will deal with. Not us alone. Nor will 26 countries consider the views on one non-member country worth while bothering with when it comes to global business.
    David Barnby (or Barneby) has two conflicting views:
    1- (21 May) “In any case an IN/OUT referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU will result in OUT , no matter the persuading and campaigning IN from the government”
    2 – (5 June) “I agree with Mr Sears that a referendum on leaving the EU will result in a vote to stay ‘IN’. ” “The government and its corporate and global banker backers togther with its ownership of the media will ensure that there is a massive propaganda campaign to fighten everyone silly and they will nuckle under as usual.”
    I did not Knuckle under in 1975. I voted YES. I believe in the EU and our membership of it, having seen the wartime desolation all over Europe.. A parochial blinkered outlook and ‘By Jingo, we are the United Kingdom, and the rest of you are all out of step” (assuming we stay united) is not the way to progress. Let us not talk twaddle Mr Barnby (or Barneby- are there two of you?) By the way, I’m always Seares!

  8. Seares

    David Barnby and I are not the same person . It is a surprise for me too .
    I am told by a Swede that our names are common in Sweden , deriving from
    ” Near the Village , town or homestead ” . I believe my forebears were viking warlords who settled in the East Riding of Yorkshire , at Barnaby Castle , now Barnby Castle , my name’s spelling changed along the way .

    Following the deception of the propaganda campaign for the 1975 referendum , I believe at least older people will be wise to government and EU propaganda . We oldies who remember the horrors of WWII have more reason to support continued membership of the EU . I am not sure that young people really support EU membership at all , especially those who are unemployed .

    I doubt that the Conservatives will win the 2015 general election , so that will put an end to any prospect of a referendum in 2017 . 2015 could produce a hung parliament , or Labour will return to power , nothing augurs well for the future .

    The EU tries hard to see an upturn in the economies of the Eurozone or the EU as a whole , but as yet there isn’t any ; nor does there seem to be any glimmer of hope .
    The Euro could collapse and maybe take the EU with it . There is already concern in Brussels that the continued high unemploment , especially of young people , could lead to massive riots and revolution .

    British people are not anti Europe , but we are anti the EU bureaucratic institution , the dictat that says all 27 countries have to be the same , smothered by rules , regulations and excessive taxation . We are not the same and do not ever want to be the same . I appreciate that David Cameron is wrigling uncomfortably in his seat , trying to placate all sides of the argument , most of his decisions have been wrong since taking office . David Cameron is right that the EU needs a complete overhaul , a breaking down of a massive ” Snowball ” of an institution , reducing bureaucracy to a minimum , repatriating laws , a loosening of relationships between countries more along the lines of a Commonwealth of European Nations . The Euro needs to be abolished , or individual countries allowed to devalue to the level that suits them with freedom to print money . Countries need to run their own fiscal affairs and economies , without restraint or being tied to a collective of countries ; borrowing needs to be limited to the individual state’s ability to repay the loan .

  9. Yes, you right, David Barnby and David Barneby are two different people who have not know each other before – hi David! I have been interested in genealogy for many years and there are at least 10 different spellings of the name.

    Barnby’s (or whatever spelling) antecedants were Viking invaders (illegal immigrants) who upset the natives a great deal by stealing half their country. My researches show my G7 grandfather as a peasant (some will say nothing’s changed) farmer in Ottringham East Riding of Yorkshire (prime Viking landing territory) from the mid-17th century and was fined 4d for his ‘goods’ trespassing in the cornfields in 1704.

    This discussion group is most interesting and I should say that I am researching the origins of the European Movement using Francois Xavier Rabattat’s 1962 Phd Thesis. It shows that the EM was a vital tool in establishing the EU; withoutthe EM there would have been no EU.

    It was claimed to be a peopl’s movement when th etruth is that it was set up by major American corporations and international bankers in 1948 and financed a bankrupt European Movements establishing EMs in most European countries.

    I have a list of these corporations and banks, most of whom (including particularly IBM of the holocaust punched card infamy ) had made vast fortunes out of the war. Their interest in the EM was to push for ‘European’ integration and an EU whom they couldcontrol for their own interests (as they still do today) i.e. they wanted to control the peace for their own ends.

    Later the CIA helped out with funding and dirty trickes as in the British 1975 referendum.

    I am afriad that the EU is not as it is made out to be the ‘keeper of the peace’, what peace? Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. The military industrial complex makes money from wars so the EU has to bend to these people so it is ridiculous to claim EU stops wars, it is s toll of these people and we will continue to get wars if you support the EU.

    Note: The EU has just approved arming the ‘rebels’ (a Western invention) in Syria, which can only perpetuate and ruin the arab world. Please see things for what they are.

  10. Mr Seares

    Just to provide you with some information on the trade topic, in fact the UK is prohibited by EU law in negotiating a bilateral trade deal with the US or any other country and has been since 1973. Whether the US wishes to discuss such a deal with the UK or not is irrelevant currently.

    The US has bilateral trade agreements with a great many countries, e.g. Australia, Peru, Jordan, South Korea, Israel, Chile etc etc. All these countries have smaller economies than the UK and indeed smaller existing trade volumes with the US than the UK. Given this there is no reason at all to believe that a UK free of the EU could not strike a deal with the US or indeed any other country it chose to do so. (Even Iceland has managed to negotiate such a deal with China for goodness sake and the EU is just starting a trade war !)

    The EU has a long history of impeding trade relations with the US and others. I suggest you look at the New Tran-Atlantic Market Place discussion 1998. That opportunity for free trade with the US was thwarted by protectionist elements in the EU. The same applied to the Mercosur discussions of the same time. The deals with Canada and India have still not been finalised despite years of promises. I would also point to the EP debate on the 23rd May where the protectionists are already putting barriers up to the latest round of talks with the US. In short when you look at the countries the EU has negotiated deals with you discover that with the exception of Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey the vast majority are with relatively small economies. (And let’s not forget that the EP held up trade deals with Columbia due to human rights issues and may very well do so over the US death penalty stance so even a negotiated deal is not necessarily home and dry.)

    I did not have a vote in 1975, but I can help but agree with the recent comment of Lord Mandelson “The European Mandate that the Heath Government secured in the 1970’s belongs to another time and another generation.” (4th May 2012) The EU as it is both constructed and developing today has never been subject of the agreement of the UK population, it should and the debate should be honest regarding the long term political objective, ie a single federal state.

    To close with a revealing quote from President van Rompuy State of Europe Speech 2010 “The time of the homogeneous nation state is over.” Fine put that to the people and let’s hear what they have to say, as I said before, the EU has no mandate at all.

  11. No time to reply in length…. Just going off on a bike ride & caravan holiday in Holland for three weeks. Might take Stephen Dorrill’s book ‘MI6- Fifty years of Special Operations’ with me and re-read chapter 22 on the European Movement. except it’s rather heavy. [He gave it to me, to buy will cost you £14.99 (or € 17.50)] Or I might just read Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ again. After all, we are a small island! And it’s a lot lighter.

  12. Seares

    Enjoy your caravan and biking holiday in Holland !!! I guess the cycling will not be too hard , all on the level . That should give you a breath of fresh air , blow the cobwebs away . I hope you find your holiday reading enlightening , or better still gives you a good laugh . Best Wishes !!!
    David

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