Sunday, July 8

The Great Double Deception


By Chrstopher Booker

Many people must have rubbed their eyes in disbelief at Gordon Brown's statement to MPs last Tuesday when, in announcing his new "constitutional settlement", he promised to give "more power to Parliament and the British people" on the onehand while, on the other, ruling out a referendum on the new EU treaty - which would take away a lot more power from Parliament and the British people.
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The layers of spin and deceit that surround this wretched EU treaty are soconvoluted that it takes some working out to disentangle the contradictions, U-turns and straight lies it has come to involve. The fundamental problem is that the EU's leaders are determined to foist on thepeoples of Europe the final components of a supranational government, as agreedin their constitution, without giving the peoples of Europe any say in the matter.
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Ever since the constitution was rejected by the people of France and Holland, they have been trying to find a way of smuggling it back in, by pretending itwas something else.What they cleverly came up with last month was a document which looked very different and much shorter. But this was only because the original version,scrapping all the earlier treaties, reincorporated them in the new constitution.
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The new document simply leaves the old treaties on the table, but adds asamendments to them all the new bits included in the constitution, such as givingthe EU a full-time president and granting it a mass of other new powers.
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Apart from a few cosmetic changes, such as changing "Foreign Minister" to "HighRepresentative", and leaving out the flag and the anthem (which the EU has hadsince 1986 anyway), the net result is precisely what the French and the Dutch rejected in 2005.
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Many Continental politicians have been quite happy to admit the facts. As Luxemburg'sprime minister Jean-Claude Juncker put it, the new treaty contains "99 per cent"of what was in the old "Constitution for Europe".But their hope is that, because the list of amendments making up the newdocument look so impenetrable, they can be slipped through without the people noticing.
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One of Mr Brown's excuses for not having a referendum was that the new treatydoesn't give away as many powers as Maastricht, on which there was noreferendum, But up then pops his new Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to blurtout that it in fact gives away much more power than Maastricht.
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Mr Brown's other excuse was that Britain has held onto all its "red lines", suchas being given an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. But up jumps the EU's former justice commissioner, Antonio Vittorini, and agaggle of lawyers to point out that this is nonsense. A cross-reference in thetreaty shows that Britain is just as much subject to the charter as anyone else.
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The title of the EU's Foreign Minister may have been changed, on Tony Blair's insistence, to High Representative, but he is still being given new powers to decide EU (i e our) foreign policy which Jack Straw, when foreign secretary,described as "simply unacceptable".
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As the think-tank Open Europe and others have pointed out, it is trulyastonishing that Mr Brown should begin his premiership, while promising to be"open" with the British people, with a deceit so shameless as to make his predecessor look like an honest man.
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It is made even more remarkable by the fact Mr Brown should do this in the veryweek when he was ordering that ournational flag should be flown on every government building. The British people should not just be rubbing their eyes in disbelief at Mr Brown's behaviour: they should be shouting with anger.
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1 comment:

Sarah Hopperty said...

This is serious - I for one am very angry