Angela Merkel says we must stay in the EU to have a seat at the bargaining table. The trouble is, says Suzanne Evans, we’re always last to get served and the other guests like to push us off our chair.
Let’s go back in time to October 2014.
David Cameron is apparently furious. The EU has ambushed Britain with a surprise bill for a whopping £1.7 billion because our economy has performed better than expected, and better than other economies in the bloc.
‘It’s appalling,” Dave raged. “I’m not paying that bill!”
The EU confirms there is no scope for legal challenge. The bill is at the European Commission’s discretion and there’s nothing Britain can do about it.
Dave’s confident, emphatic tone (more than a little reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) faded, turned into a whimper, and eventually died away.
He quietly paid the bill.
Dave had yelled but the EU had yelled back louder.
It was his second humiliating defeat in the space of a few months. Despite jumping up and down with rage and threats, EU leaders voted to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European commission after all. Cameron was cuckolded again.
Still, this time, Dave woke up and learnt his lesson, that the EU always wins. He must have done, because when the time came time to negotiate for ‘reform’ ahead of the EU referendum, he seemed suitably cowed and didn’t bother trying to negotiate much at all.
Previously, Cameron insisted migrants shouldn’t be able to claim benefits in the UK for at least four years and should have a job lined up before coming here. He called for an opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights; the Working Time Directive; and all aspects of environmental, social and criminal law. He wanted an end to the expensive practice of shuttling the EU Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg every month. He wanted full control of our borders.
Suddenly, these demands were forgotten. Having set out his vision for a full loaf of bread, he groveled, begged and pleaded for a crust - and got a few crumbs. This farce alone shows just how impotent Britain is in terms of our sway within the EU.
The trouble with having a seat at the EU table is that we always get served last, and the other guests like to push us off our chair.
Influence? What influence? We have no influence!
The 19 eurozone members hold an in-built voting majority at the Council of Ministers, so we get outvoted regularly, more frequently in fact than any other EU member country. The UK has voted NO seventy-two times in the Council of Ministers since records began and we’ve lost the vote every time. The proposals became British law anyway.
Despite Brussels issuing nine new edicts every day on average, we’ve never once managed to stop a single piece of UK-contested EU legislation becoming law. There’s nothing we can do about this because the EU treaties we’ve signed are clear: EU law always takes precedence over our national law. We’ve lost out legislative control on immigration, farming, fishing, business and employment legislation, financial services, foreign aid, VAT, sport, tourism, transport, trade and energy; animal rights and much else. We can’t even control food labelling or VAT on tampons.
Every time the EU expands its malign empire when a new country joins, the UK is diminished a little bit more. Since we joined in 1973, when there were just nine members, the British vote share in the Council of Ministers has decreased from 17 to 8%; in the Parliament from 20 to 9.5%, and in the Commission from 15 to 4%. Five more countries are set to join and when they do, we will have even less of our faux ‘influence’ left.
Meanwhile, our diplomatic service is gradually being shrunk as the EU builds its own diplomatic corps. Nick Clegg’s insistence that talk of an ‘EU Army’ is dangerous fantasy looks a lot less imaginary when the Daily Mail publishes pictures of army vehicles bearing EU insignia operating on Salisbury Plain. How long will it be before our seat on NATO and the UN Security Council is replaced by an EU seat, as is the case with our seat on the World Trade Organisation? This will be the fait accompli when we become a region in a federal states of Europe, a vision so eagerly anticipated in Brussels, if naively denied here.
If we remain, the EU will take more and more of our powers and assets from us, and at the same time will demand more and more money from us.
This treatment is shameful, given our world standing.
We’re the world’s fifth largest global economy. The fourth largest exporter. The eleventh largest manufacturing nation. London is the world’s leading international financial centre. We’re the EU’s biggest marketplace: £18 billion of trade and 1.2 million EU jobs depend on just our purchase of German cars, French wine and Italian shoes.
Yet we’re cut off from the world, castrated by our inability to exert any of our far more natural influence on a global stage, because the EU has taken so much responsibility from us. We’re a world-leading nation, yet we’re trapped within a circle of bureaucratic, dictatorial mediocrity.
It reminds me of the story of the baby elephant, chained to a post, unable to escape, and conditioned to the point where it stops trying, despite the fact that in adulthood it could easily rip the post out of the ground and free itself.
Our EU membership demeans us. The ‘influence’ it promises is a dangerous illusion. While we remain in the EU we are incapable of reaching our full potential. It’s time we cut loose and took control of our own destiny as the free, independent, democratic, sovereign and successful nation we have the power and the ability to be.
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