EU Referendum 2016: Britain’s Declaration of Independence
By David Semple
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” – From the United States Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776.
On January 1 1973, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ceased to be an independent nation. Prime Minister Edward Heath took Britain into the European Economic Community, a political project which was determined to reach “ever closer union” in the form of a United States of Europe. The British people thought at the time they were entering a free trade agreement with the EEC. This was not true in 1973. It has never been true. Edward Heath knew exactly what he was signing when he put his signature to the Treaty of Rome. But he lied to the British public. The Conservatives had transformed themselves into the political party which sought to take Britain further and further into political union with Europe, first under Heath in 1973, then under his successor Margaret Thatcher with the signing of the Single European Act in 1986, and finally under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, signed by Britain during the prime ministership of her successor John Major. Every treaty subsequently signed by the European Union under the following Labour administrations of 1997-2010 continued in the political direction initially set in motion by the Heath Government.
From January 1 1973 onwards, laws passed by the ECC and later the European Union have had primacy over the laws of the United Kingdom. In fact, Edward Heath agreed to the incorporation of all previous EEC laws into British law upon the United Kingdom’s accession to the Treaty of Rome. Great Britain is governed under the supranational laws of the European Union. We have effectively been reduced to the equivalent political status within the European Union to that of the government of Ontario within Canada. Britain is no longer a sovereign political state and has not been thus for forty-three years.
Paradoxically, Margaret Thatcher held the delusion of British sovereignty when she declared “No, No, No” to the new political entities being conjured up by the European Economic Community which later formed the cornerstones of the Maastricht Treaty, including the European Parliament and the European Commission. Even if Britain had not signed the Maastricht Treaty, the UK would still have been unable to pass laws that were contrary to the supranational laws of the EU. In other words, Mrs Thatcher was right, but she was already too late. Governments in which she participated had already damaged Britain’s political independence. However, it is likely that she would have decided to take Britain out of the European Union had she not been overthrown by the Heathite wing of the Conservative Party, in a revolt started by cabinet minister Michael Heseltine. Mrs Thatcher, the most successful peacetime British prime minister of the twentieth century, was booted out precisely because she had finally woken up to Britain’s reduced political status which had risen directly out of its membership of the European Union.
In 2005, David Cameron seemed to many Tories to be a Eurosceptic when he was elected leader of the Conservative Party. Indeed, he won because he was not Kenneth Clarke, the senior pro-Euro statesman of the party, who at that time was the most experienced member of the shadow cabinet. In truth, Mr Cameron is a Heathite who is determined to keep Britain inside Europe at any cost. He only agreed to a Leave/Stay referendum to keep his Eurosceptic backbenchers (who have revolted against many government policies) on side during the last two years of coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. He also wanted to staunch the rising tide of Ukip votes in annual springtime local government elections. (In all probability, he promised a referendum because he thought it would be popular with voters at the 2015 general election. In the end, the Conservatives won the election thanks to the incompetence of the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, rather than due to the popularity of the Conservative Party. But the referendum promise did make a difference. Labour would have won more votes if Miliband had made a similar promise. David Cameron is not widely liked by the British public, but he is seen as more competent than his rivals.)
Mr Cameron promised the British people to bring back parliamentary sovereignty to Westminster. This month, however, he lost much of his credibility when he came back from Europe with a bad deal, even worse than the feeble deal he tried to get out of the European Union in the first place. On television, inside a factory far away from the Palace of Westminster, where he should have been presenting the newly negotiated terms he had just brought back from Europe, the Prime Minister declared that he would have joined the European Union today under these new terms had Britain currently not been a member.
All premierships end in failure if the prime minister of the day stays in power too long and loses touch with reality. This happened to James Callaghan during the “winter of discontent” in the spring of 1979; to Harold Macmillan when he sacked most of his senior ministers in what became known as “the night of the long knives” in July 1963; to Clement Attlee after Britain’s disgraceful scuttles from India and Palestine in 1947 and 1948, leaving two terrible civil wars as Britain’s legacy of empire; to Sir Anthony Eden when he capitulated to American demands to end Britain’s Suez War in November 1956; and to Edward Heath when he concocted his infamous U-turn and embraced interventionist wage and price controls in 1972. David Cameron has doomed his prime ministership by seriously dividing his party after conducting essentially meaningless negotiations with the Eurocrats, none of which changes anything of substance in Britain’s relationship with the EU.
Unfortunately Mr Cameron has ruthlessly conducted his European Union policy in order to engineer a “yes” vote in favour of continuing British membership. That’s why he went to Europe to obtain new terms which will not change the substance of Britain’s continuing membership of the EU. He does not want to upset the European establishment. He wants only to appease the British public by delivering a package designed to make them accept permanent membership of the EU. Mr Cameron wants to end, for all time, the British debate on Europe. And he desperately wants Britain to remain a member of the EU. Thus, he has come out as a Heathite, definitely not as a Thatcherite.
The terms of the 1957 Treaty of Rome called for the European Economic Community to become an “ever closer union.” Nothing has changed since that date. And Mr Cameron will not change the substance of this treaty. Mr Cameron could have used his considerable political skills to change Europe for the better. He might have appealed to Eurosceptics across the continent, the many tens of millions of people in France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy and other countries who are growing seriously disillusioned with the direction in which the Union is going. He could have chosen to become a visionary statesman, going into negotiations with other European leaders in order to save the increasingly cumbersome and incompetent European Union from turning into a failed United States of Europe. He could have completely altered the long-term game plan of “ever closer union,” bringing about a treaty change which would turn the European project into a genuine free trade zone and political sovereignty restored to the former nations of Europe.
And when I say former nations, I really do mean former nations. Every nation inside the European Union is a shadow of its former self. Even Germany and France, the two most influential countries in the EU, grow more powerless with each passing year as the centre of power in the unelected EU bureaucracy in Brussels grows. Today, there is talk on the continent of creating a European Union army and using this army to enter countries like Greece in order to deal with migrant problems. Perhaps in future this Euro-army will be used to put down independence movements in Spain and Italy.
For Europe’s Jews and the State of Israel, the question of Europe hangs heavy. Do European Jews want to be stuck inside a political union that has tolerated a rise in anti-Semitism to levels unknown since the Hitler era? After the murder of Jews in Paris and Toulouse, do Jews want to be part of a political union in which France turns a blind eye to anti-Semitism? What about Germany? Last year over a million Muslim migrants were welcomed into the heart of Europe by Angela Merkel. The head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has voiced alarm about Jew-hatred from migrants from Muslim countries. Germany’s security agencies have also expressed their unease about the influx of refugees and migrants who harbour radical Islamic views and hatred of Jews. Another two million migrant Muslims are expected to arrive in Germany in 2016 and 2017.
As in the 1940s, a Europe united under the banner of anti-Semitism poses a great danger to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel. But if Britain votes to leave the EU, the European anti-Zionist campaign to label Israeli products and to build illegal Arab settlements in Area C of Judea-Samaria will be weakened. As things stand, British taxpayers are funding a scurrilous EU endeavour to delegitimise and undermine the Jewish state. Without Britain, the EU’s political, economic and diplomatic clout will be severely diminished. Brexit is in Israel’s long-term interest because the departure of the UK will take the wind out of Europe’s sails.
Europe is entering an era of permanent crises, both economic and social, with millions of migrants pouring into the continent every year, migrants who will forever change the demographic character of Western civilisation. The British renegotiations could have opened up a European-wide debate about the political direction which the nations of Europe should be taking over the next decade. Instead, Europe is now going in the direction of a second Byzantium, the Christian empire which was transformed over a period of a few hundred years into a Muslim Caliphate.
In the House of Commons, Mr Cameron faced the cold chill of most of his Conservative backbenchers during a debate on the terms he brought back from Brussels. Boris Johnson, the maverick Mayor of London who has returned to Westminster politics to cast a giant shadow over the future leadership of the party, stood up and asked Mr Cameron to “explain to the House and to the country what way this deal returns sovereignty over any fields of law-making to these Houses of Parliament.” David Cameron’s response did not answer the question: “This deal brings back some welfare powers, it brings back some immigration powers, it brings back some bailout powers, but more than that, because it carves us forever out of ever-closer union, it means that the ratchet of the European court taking power away from this country cannot happen in future.”
The deal “brings back” powers. But not political sovereignty. European law still takes primacy over British law under Mr Cameron’s “new deal.”
True, Britain already reserved the right to remain outside the Eurozone and the Schengen borders. Already, Britain is protected from joining a United States of Europe, precisely because we are not in the Euro. However, should the European Union’s Eurozone countries merge together as a federal state, Britain will become to the European Union as Vichy France was to Nazi Germany, a subject state with no real independence. European laws will still pass into British law under the Treaty of Rome, to which Britain is still a signatory. Supranational European Union law will reduce Britain more and more to the status of a colonial possession of the European Union with limited sovereignty, totally dominated by the Union on the continent.
As Conservative MP Bill Cash declared in the House of Commons debate on Mr Cameron’s “new deal,” when he told the Prime Minister that laws affecting Britain were made by other countries, introduced by the European Commission and enforced by the European Court of Justice, “The only way to get out of that and return our democracy is to leave the European Union.” However, until Britain leaves the European Union, the European Council of Ministers will effectively act as the supreme law-making authority in the United Kingdom.
Even if the British public votes to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum, Mr Cameron must give two years’ notice to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union under article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Britain must then negotiate with Europe over new terms. This could lead to another British referendum in 2018 or later. Mr Cameron would like nothing better than to turn the “no” vote to a “yes” vote in his favour in a second referendum. There doesn’t legally have to be another referendum, however. But that is what Mr Cameron will plan for, for like most politicians, he considers the British public to be easy prey for manipulation. Mr Cameron does not need a vote in parliament to trigger Article 50. He already has the right to do this under his powers of royal prerogative, which come with holding the office of prime minister. That’s why he intends to remain in office even if he loses this year’s referendum. He will be determined to use the terms of the Lisbon Treaty to try and get a second series of negotiations in order to reverse any potential Brexit vote in the 2016 referendum. If a leadership change can be brought about, a Eurosceptic Conservative prime minister could trigger Article 50 and wait out the two years’ notice, rebuffing any new terms of membership offered by the European Union.
If the UK electorate votes to leave the European Union, Mr Cameron should resign from office and retire from British political life. Even if he is not forced out, he should resign as a matter of honour. In an interview with the Sun on Sunday, Mr Cameron said he contemplated resigning if the government had lost the Scottish Independence Referendum in September 2014. Of course, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and so Mr Cameron stayed in his position. But if he loses the upcoming Brexit referendum in June he should step down. This would leave a vacancy at the top of the Conservative government. I believe London Mayor Boris Johnson – who is campaigning to leave the EU – is very interested in the job.
David Semple is a filmmaker and writer from Canada. He is currently writing a book called Jerusalem in the Age of Imperialism and is writing a film script about Field Marshal Allenby’s Palestine campaign.
[The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Jewish Media Agency.]