“This spectacle has surely been the perfect realisation of his prognosis for postmodern society: the point at which politics is completely supplanted by political communication.”
David Cameron promised to reform the EU, he failed miserably. He promised to fundamentally change the UK’s relationship with the EU, repatriating powers and achieving a looser “British model” of membership, in the end he didn’t even attempt to achieve this. What we have is a deceptive attempt to superficially rebrand our membership to sell to a public uneasy with the EU in the first place.
There has been no repatriation of power or policy making back to Parliament, no reform of EU institutions, and no alteration whatsoever to our position of total subordination. We have gained a political statement insisting that we need not subscribe to “ever closer union”, but this “promise” is tenuous, and potentially problematic for the Union. Even if fulfilled it degrades us to a second class membership.
Why be an awkward, unhappy and marginalised member, when we can leave, forge a new economic relationship and be a cooperative ally? It is patently obvious that this is what the Government will seek in the event of Leave vote and is the only real way of achieving a new settlement Britain can be truly comfortable with.
David Cameron has told the House of Commons, the media, and the public that his deal is legally binding and irreversible. In doing so he has lied. So we have a phoney deal, with minor cosmetic changes bundled with repackaged confirmations of our current terms and resold with all the honesty of a dodgy used car salesman. Yet we can see from YouGov polls that the “deal” is gaining traction. This is another victory for political spin, something the British are becoming increasingly susceptible to.
Polls had always shown that a successful renegotiation would boost the Remain vote, but here we have no real renegotiation at all, sold dishonestly, and yet Leave has not gained a boost. In-fact, because Leave campaigners have not adequately highlighted Cameron’s con (along with their failure to adopt a plan or answer uncertainties) Remain has gained ground. This is ominous. The current state of the polls suggest the status quo and uncertainty factor, along with the perception of Cameron’s deal will lead to a swing for Remain.
Some euroseptic voices have picked apart Cameron’s deal, but not enough. Interestingly it is Europhile federalists that are doing more to expose the “renegotiation” for what it is. James Bartholomeusz and Daniel Schade from the Project for Democratic Union have concluded that there is nothing of substance to the renegotiation agreement, but it has been sold as a full revision of the country’s EU membership.
When it became clear that Cameron would not be able to reform the EU, they write, “there was only one solution: to launch a ‘renegotiation’ that would change next to nothing, but sell it as a wholesale rewrite of Britain’s membership conditions.” This is indeed the fraud being committed, and everyone has to play along to prop up the pretence. The short term gain will be to keep the UK within the EU this year, the long term will be to leave unanswered questions and anger the public as the dishonesty festers and they wake up to it at a later stage
“For now, anyone with an interest in the European order must engage in this charade and back Cameron’s campaign to stay in the EU; the real questions about the role of the UK in a Europe that must either dissolve or press onwards into full integration remain unanswered.”
Arch EU federalist Andrew Duff is a europhile through and through, but he is honest in his intentions and his political analysis. He has produced a short paper on “Britain’s Special Status in Europe: A comprehensive assessment of the UK-EU deal”. He confirms that the actual Decision “belongs to the heads of state or government alone and not to the European Council”. Although this has been pointed out repeatedly by The Leave Alliance, and Dr Richard North has repeatedly indicated the significance; it has not been picked up with adequate traction in the mess media or by Leave campaigners.
“The actual Decision,” Duff tell us, “belongs to the heads of state or government alone and not to the European Council. Under the terms of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European council cannot legislate for the European Union (Article 15(1) TEU). Neither can the European council initiate, still less bypass, the EU’s official treaty revision process that is laid down in Article 48(2). The procedures for revising the treaties involve not only the heads of government but also the European commission, the European parliament and national parliaments, meeting together in a convention (Article 48(3)). True, the heads of government have the last word on EU treaty change (Article 48(4)), but they do not have the first word.”
The Decision takes the form of an intergovernmental agreement lodged at the UN and applicable under international, not EU law. According to Duff, that Decision will become legally binding under international law in event of a vote to Remain. In theory, as the European Council asserted, the Decision will remain legally binding until revoked by a unanimous decision of the 28 governments. His next points are crucial:
“Nevertheless, as the personnel at the summit changes, which they do fairly frequently, the deal will become less authoritative, and may be amended, reversed or ignored.” Then comes the clincher: “In any case, the substance of the Decision will not be binding on the EU as such until its provisions have been transposed into EU law (my bold) – either into primary law via treaty change with respect to the sovereignty and economic governance dossiers, or through secondary law via the ordinary legislative procedure in the case of the social welfare and migration issues.”
Put simply, the Decision may be binding on the current Heads of State or Government, as signatories, but it progressively weakens and becomes subject to amends or reversal when the Heads of State or Government change. Furthermore, the execution of the Decision requires action by EU institutions, and they are not bound by the Decision. We then must come back to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which states:
“A treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third State without its consent”.
So if a treaty requires for its effect actions by third parties which were not signatories to the treaty, and by virtue of this is incapable of execution, it cannot be a valid treaty and cannot, in any event be binding. The Decision does not, as Andre Duff confirms, “bind the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament or the European Central Bank – all of which are set to play important roles in the transposition of the content into the primary and secondary law of the European Union.”
The authors of the Decision, he concludes, make the bold claim that it constitutes a “new settlement” between the UK and the EU. But, at best, all it could do is “contribute to a successful campaign backing a referendum decision to remain in the EU“.
This is what is happening. The Government is being allowed to run with the claim that the UK has achieved a “special status” within the EU, and that the deal is legally binding and irreversible, when neither is true. This is underpinned by the classic deception of selling EU membership as a mainly economic matter, rather than a matter of being a vassal in a political and judicial union.
All in all, we have David Cameron following in the footsteps of Edward Heath and Harold Wilson in spinning and deceiving his way to a victory in a referendum designed mostly to confirm Government policy. Will we be fooled again?