Roger and his views > EU Membership
Gale`s View – 2nd July 2014 

Writing in a weekend tabloid newspaper my colleague Dan Hannan, Member of the European Parliament for South East England, has spelled out three possible options for the Prime Minister arising from the promised in/out referendum on our Membership of the European Union.  This follows the selection, by an overwhelming majority of the Prime Ministers of the EU, of the federalist and heavy-drinking M. Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission. Ordinarily I agree with much of what Dan Hannan says. In this instance, however, there is a flaw in his argument.  His thesis is based upon the assumption that there will, indeed, be a referendum after the next election. 

Bob Neill, the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, has seized the opportunity offered by a good place in the ballot for Private Members` Bills, to seek to re-introduce the EU Referendum Bill that was taken through the House of Commons by the Conservative MP James Wharton and then defeated by the Liberal Democrats and Labour in the House of Lords. Such an Act is necessary before a referendum can be held at all and the Prime Minister has indicated that he will seek to use the Parliament Act to force through the necessary bill if it gets through the Commons this time and is then blocked by the Lords again. 

That, though, is only the first hurdle.  For Dan Hannan`s concept of a Swiss-style free-trade relationship with Europe to become a reality we still have to hold the in/out referendum and that is entirely dependent upon there being a majority Conservative government after the 2015 general election.  However much they may fantasise the UKIP will not form a government next year.  They might, though, split the Conservative vote to permit either a Labour government or a Lib/Lab coalition, both opposed to a referendum, to be elected and under any other scenario there will be no referendum and the people of the United Kingdom, whether for or against our continued membership of the EU, will be denied the opportunity to vote on the issue. 

I feel not a little strongly about this because I have spent part of the past week as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (please do not confuse this with the European Parliament) opposing a report submitted by a Socialist member of the Assembly seeking to promote a more Federal Europe.  There is an irony in the fact that the author of this report is a Swiss MP and Switzerland is of course, not a member of the EU any more than are twenty of the other Member States of the Council of Europe.  At the end of the day, however, the eleven amendments to this report that I tabled and moved, seeking to “de-Federalise” the text, were defeated by 90 euro-federalist votes to about 25 Conservative and associated others on each occasion.  Be in no doubt; it is not only the ex-Luxembourgoise Prime Minister Juncker and associated EU leaders who want “an ever closer union” leading to a Federal United States of Europe. There are many currently outside the EU grouping who think likewise. 

That is why I believe that David Cameron, isolated with the support only of Hungary, was right to force the appointment of   M. Juncker to a first-ever vote and to nail his principles to the mast.  Whether you want out or you want to remain in, if you wish to see our status re-affirmed or altered through a referendum there is only one party that will be standing at the next General Election that can, realistically, deliver the opportunity for you to have a vote. This is an argument that is going to be rehearsed over and over again between now and next May but no amount of argument will alter the reality.

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