Thursday, 6 March 2008

That lot over the channel (aka the Treaty of Lisbon)

Another pointless parliamentary debate; the proposed EU constitution is renamed and the politicians who have promised a referendum on the constitution say they don't have to hold one any more, because it's only a treaty now. Everyone knows it's still the constitution and that the government would have lost any referendum by a country mile and then some.

It's difficult to know who's worse; the government for reneging on an unequivocal commitment, the Tories for their smugness when they weren't able to put the Maastrict treaty up for a referendum last time around, or the Lib Dems for tying themselves into knots because they've decided it would be better if we went right back to the beginning.

It might surprise Nick Clegg to learn that we had a referendum in 1975 to decide whether we wanted to be in Europe or not. All three parties recommended that we vote 'yes' and they got two-thirds of the vote as a result. We can't keep going round in circles, endlessly revisiting that decision.

In 1975 I voted to come out, but I wouldn't do so today. Not because I've changed my mind (we made the wrong decision back then) but because the world has changed since; if we came out now we'd have no economy left whatever. Only the most rabid Eurosceptic would claim otherwise. I think we should go in the other direction entirely, commit entirely to the EU, join the Eurozone, and stop seeking to maintain a halfway presence which leaves us with no influence and few of the long-term gains that accumulate with full and enthusiastic participation. By the time we join the Euro, and sooner or later we will, as surely as night follows day, it will inevitably be on less favourable terms than if we'd been in from day one. And they'll have us over a barrel into the bargain.

Sadly the politicians who run this country are a gutless bunch; scared of committing to anything if they think it might be anything less than universally popular with their electorate. They should be out there making the case but they aren't. They're too busy getting their snouts back in the trough, happy to line their own pockets regardless of any public opprobrium when they get caught. A plague on all their houses!

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