Sunday, 4 December 2011

Clegg: treaty change does not require referendum

From this morning's Andrew Marr Show ...

Angela Merkel is right, isn't she, when she says that there has to be fiscal union if the Eurozone is going to hold together? ... Which in turn will mean a treaty change.


It would also trigger a referendum in this country about our relationship with Europe, so my next question is: Could the coalition survive a referendum on our relationship with Europe?


Well I don't think there needs to be a referendum for the simple reason that the change …


(over) The Prime Minister's promised one. If there is a treaty change, he's promised a referendum.


No, the referendum will only take place if there is an additional surrender of sovereignty from us to the European Union, to Brussels.


(over) I thought any substantial treaty change will trigger a referendum. That's what David Cameron said.


(over) No, no, no. Let me be very clear. The test, which we've legislated on, is if we, the United Kingdom, give up more sovereignty in a big way to the European Union …
The truth, of course, is that any moves to eurozone integration would fundamentally alter the nature of the European Union. As Lord Tebbit noted recently, "the eurozone group can always outvote the remaining member states".

In an article for the Mail on Sunday, Daniel Hannan wonders why we would pass up this golden opportunity to extricate ourselves from a declining regional trading block:
Is it, perhaps, that the Coalition is determined to avoid a referendum? Sources around the Prime Minister are briefing to this effect but I hope they are wrong: few things are as degrading as the sight of an administration that distrusts its own electorate.

Or maybe it is fear of being left out of a Franco-German plan. In truth, though, a regulated Continental bloc offers us huge opportunities. We would be the offshore haven, Hong Kong to their China.

This was the model that Winston Churchill proposed at the outset. In 1946, he called for a United States of Europe comprising France, Germany and their satellite countries.
The full text of that speech, given in Zurich on the 19th of September, is available from the Council of Europe.

Personally, I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of an anti-democratic Franco-German union on our doorstep, but I don't think today's ordinary Frenchmen and Germans want war any more than ordinary British people do, and the EU doesn't afford any protection beyond what we already enjoy through NATO.

Equally, to the extent that it may be in our national interest to undermine continental moves to full political union, I'm not convinced that our politicians are committed to this goal, nor that the task is easier within in the EU.

We should get out, wish them well, and watch vigilantly.

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