Facts about Negotiations with the EU

On 30th November the Sunday Telegraph published two articles about negotiating a change in Britain’s relationship with the European Union.  One of these articles, by Nigel Wilson, CEO of a substantial FTSE insurance company – Legal and General – writing under the “Voice of Business” by-line, lamented the fact as he saw it, that “no-one has articulated what renegotiation means” and that “invoking clause 50 (of the Lisbon Treaty) as a starting pistol for renegotiation is arcane and doesn’t resonate outside Brussels or Westminster”.

Only phoney negotiations on offer from David Cameron

Certainly starting a negotiation without a clear idea of what you are setting out to achieve is madness.  It is clear, however, that Prime Minister Cameron is very clear about his personal objective and that is to be re-elected as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in May next year.  To this end he is using smoke and mirrors to persuade the British people that he “understands” their “concerns” about unrestricted EU immigration and if re-elected will be able to get the other 27 EU member states to agree to UK measures to stop it.

Article 3: Freedom of Movement of Persons

On this website (6th November) and in previous publications by Stephen Bush, it has been pointed out that Article 3 of the Rome Treaty (to which all subsequent EU treaties are regarded as additions not amendments) is sacrosanct to the other EU states, like the Ark of the Covenant in fact.  Article 3 therein refers to the

“freedom of movement for persons, services and capital”

as a fundamental provision of the EC, now EU.

Why do British politicians and corporate businessmen as well wilfully misunderstand this straightforward 57 year-old declaration by asserting that the word “person” really means “worker” so that free movement doesn’t apply to children, grannies, students and so on.  But it does apply to everyone without exception.  Deporting EU people without jobs – as Cameron suggested (Wednesday 26th November) he would aim to do in his “negotiations” with the other 27 EU countries is a complete non-starter as has been made abundantly clear by the Germans, Poles, French and the European Commission.  Cameron must know this.

Article 50 the Lisbon Treaty 2007

This is the last article of Part I of the Treaty and is entitled

“Voluntary withdrawal from the Union”.

What could be clearer than that?  Yet Mr Wilson above believes it is “arcane”.  Owen Paterson MP, former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, seems to imply however in his most recent article (Sunday Telegraph, November 30th) that Article 50 provides for the “negotiation of a new relationship” which stops short of actual withdrawal from the EU.

Article 50 sets out precise arrangements for negotiating withdrawal only, together with the ratification arrangements needed by the European Council (of all the 27 other member states’ heads of government) and the European Parliament (of elected members from all of the 27 other countries)[1].  There is in fact “No Middle Way” as Stephen Bush’s 1989 pamphlet with this title put it, between being a member of the EU, subject to the whole of its body of law (acquis communautaire), and not being a member.

What are Cameron and Co afraid of in taking Britain out of the European Union?

With the exception only of small neutrals – Portugal, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland, the EU today is exactly the German-led continent which Britain and the Empire faced alone in 1940-41.  The fact is a UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, a UK-EU Council, along with the UK recovering its independent place on the various bodies in the World Trade Organisation, which the EU must, as a matter of international legal obligation, defer to, would give Britain far more influence than the present 10-12% vote on EU bodies, amid incessant wrangling.  The prize-winning Blueprint for Britain’s leaving the EU – so-called “Brexit” – a response[2] to a competition staged by the Institute of Economic Affairs in July 2013-April 2014, sets out a clear vision of how the negotiation should be conducted and by whom, together with the systems needed to control immigration, access to benefits, status of EU nationals in Britain post-Brexit and Britain’s export opportunities and imperatives for 87% of the world’s markets, including the EU of course.

What better starting point is there for Mr Wilson’s wished-for  debate about Brexit than this essay and the other 5 prize-winning essays?

Lots of travel and meetings for politicians and diplomats with Brexit

To compensate for all those trips to Brussels and Strasbourg, there will be lots of travel for ambitious politicians, once Britain is outside the EU.  The World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) are all head-quartered in the pleasant and expensive Swiss city of Geneva.  All will need separate UK representation, with plenty of specialist sub-committees scattered around the world.  These organisations will increasingly make the EU’s deliberations redundant, reduced to implementing decisions made elsewhere in the world.  There will also be plenty of trade agreements to negotiate outside Europe, which the UK and its kin countries Australia, Canada and New Zealand will henceforth be able to work for alongside each other.

Final Point: Who actually wants Britain to stay in the EU?

It must be clear to everyone now that the European issue is a poisonous boil in British national politics which will only be lanced by Britain’s leaving the EU and negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in its place.  With zero tariffs, common standards and VAT systems already in place, this will be easy, not difficult to accomplish within the two-year negotiation period prescribed by Article 50.  Both sides will want it to succeed with the possible exception of Poland, the biggest beneficiary of Britain’s membership of the EU.

The only British people positively wanting Britain to stay in the EU are perhaps 40-45 Strasbourg MEPs and their spouses, perhaps 500 senior civil-servants who man the EU’s committees, academics with EU research contracts, perhaps possibly a thousand Liberal Democrats and London-based Labourites, assortments of otherwise redundant corporate business people like the CBI, some charity bosses; generally the functionary classes; parts of the national press or rather their owners and editors.  We are looking at perhaps 10,000 influential people all-told, dedicated to keeping Britain from its normal habit of independence.

Ranged against this collection of 10,000, who in the event of a referendum vote for Brexit can mainly be bought off by the taper arrangements described in [1], are perhaps 10 million dedicated opponents who are never going to let up – even if the 10,000 manage by a small margin to swing the referendum against them.

Nobody in Britain believes in the European project anymore.  Why don’t Cameron and Miliband and their associates accept this and jointly lead Britain out?

End Notes

[1]        The only clarification needed here is whether the elected members from the leaving country could take part in the ratification debates.  Certainly that country’s representative on the Council is specifically excluded.

[2]        By Stephen Bush – to be found on this website on the European Union page.

Top| Home

Leave a Reply

Top| Home