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Britain 'sold down the river': what life under the EU treaty could be


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Gordon Brown is facing increasing pressure to honour Labour's election manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the 'new' EU Treaty - which bears an overwhelming resemblance to the old, rejected EU constitution.

The Treaty, which is largely unintelligible, would transfer many of Britain's powers over migration, energy and transport to Brussels.

So, what would happen if the Treaty were brought in through the back door?

Will the inroads into British sovereignty stop there?

A leading historian transports himself forward to 2020 to discover what life in this country might be like under the EU Treaty ...

As they sat on the concrete benches in the forbidding "special" unit of Paddington Green police station, the five Englishmen considered the charges against them and how they had got there.

They were being treated little better than terrorists - but perhaps that's how they were genuinely perceived by the Belgian and Greek police who had arrested them.

Certainly, the European arrest warrant had all been in perfect legal order.

Signed by the European Public Prosecutor in Brussels and correctly dated August 12, 2020, it named the five citizens of the EU's English region and accused them of contravening the 2012 Weights and Measures Directive No. 531/85.

It was, perhaps, unnecessary for the armed response unit of Europol's Special Branch to have smashed down their doors at 3am to arrest them, but that was pretty much standard practice with anyone who was suspected of committing crimes "likely to be prejudicial to the good-standing of the Union".

The leader of the band of men, Neil Herron, sat alongside Hackney trader John Dove, Cornish greengrocer Julian Harman and Camelford fishmonger Colin Hunt.

They had been dubbed the 'Metric Martyrs' - but that was before Euro Press Directive No. 732/96 come into force.

They had all, of course, already fallen foul of Euro-law ever since they and their late friend, the Sunderland greengrocer Steve Thoburn, had tried to sell produce in pounds and ounces as well as in metric measures.

They were also propagandists for those old imperial measurements, the yard, foot, mile and pint, and had long been a thorn in the flesh of the Brussels bureaucracy.

As they sat in their fearsome cell in Paddington, the five talked about the way the world had changed over the past 13 years since 2007, especially the way that political, legal and economic powers once thought to reside in Britain had somehow tended to accrete towards institutions in Brussels; inexorably, irrevocably, almost by osmosis.

Neil Herron noted how until the infamous 2007 "Reform Treaty" - which was really the 2005 proposed European Constitution in all but name - Britain had control over her own criminal justice system.

But all that had changed.

New powers had been given to the European Commission, European Parliament and especially the European Court of Justice (ECJ), including the setting up of a European 'FBI', European Public Prosecutor and the institution of European arrest warrants.

There had been some opposition, of course, such as in 2013 when the ECJ ordered the release of the Moors murderer Ian Brady from Ashworth Hospital, on the grounds of 'compassion'.

The English regional interior minister had protested, but found that his rights over sentencing and parole policy had been superseded by the ECJ.

After that, whenever Czech, Maltese or Hungarian judges insisted on the extradition of British subjects to their regions to stand trial, it merited only a paragraph or two in some of the more subversive British papers.

Any more serious expression of discontent would easily have been put down by the European Army, which had come into being under the 2001 Treaty of Nice and, by 2015, had taken over from the British, French, German and other national forces in the control of EU security policy.

The Slovakian militia regiments standing guard for King Charles III outside Buckingham Palace were, perhaps, the most visible manifestation of the EU's policy of divide and rule.

The demise of Nato, which had protected Europe for 65 years before its abolition in 2014, was mourned by some, but not those who looked forward to a brave new European future.

The EU's insistence that, as a European citizen, King Charles could not also wear the "foreign" crowns of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, was accepted with reluctance by a Palace that was keen to fit in with Britain's "exciting" new European identity.

The refusal of the European Army's high command to agree to go to war to defeat the 2016 re-invasion of the Falklands by Argentina was perhaps predictable.

Although the English regional parliament - still based in the Westminster Heritage Site - had protested, and begged for the Royal Coastal Defence Force to be sent to liberate the islands, it was pointed out that the four billion euros the operation would cost far exceeded what Strasbourg had earmarked for London's security budget for the fiscal year 2016/17, so the request was refused.

With the former Royal Navy fully integrated into the European Navy all around the continent, it would have been near impossible to disentangle it anyhow, and there was no political will in Brussels to go to war for what were described as "irrelevant imperialist relics" anyhow.

It was, after all, for that very reason that Gibraltar had been "reunited" with the South Spanish Region only the previous year.

Westminster might have had a stronger financial case had the "pan-European resource" of North Sea Oil not been handed over to Strasbourg in 2012, under the European Energy Directive 412/98, but that was all in the past.

Once again, Herron noted to his friends, it all went back to the 2007 Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and the deeply dishonest White Paper the British Government put out about what it euphemistically called "The Reform Treaty".

Once the Treaty was enforced in 2008, there were no significant powers left solely with member governments and outside the EU's remit.

And there were no more such Treaties after 2007, since there was no need for them.

Although the 2007 Treaty only created a "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy", by 2009 Lord Kinnock was referred to - in all but official EU documents - as "the EU foreign minister", and he took on that role with gusto.

The British and French seats on the United Nations Security Council were replaced by two EU seats, one of which (for an initial period at least) the English, Scots, Ulster and Welsh, and Northern, Central and Southern French regions were allowed to occupy in rotation.

All diplomatic services and embassies of EU member states were rolled up into a giant Brussels-based corps diplomatique, with the former British Foreign and Commonwealth Office performing sterling work ruling over the EU colonies of the Turks and Caicos and Tristan da Cunha.

With a new single legal personality instituted by the 2007 Reform Treaty, the EU was able to sign treaties with foreign powers, which it sent Lord Kinnock to do on a large number of occasions.

Some were controversial, such as the anti-American Treaty of Cooperation with China.

This particular treaty made no mention of human rights abuses, the nuclear agreement with Iran and the trade agreement that had effectively kept Robert Mugabe in power until 2015, but the national vetoes signed away in 2007 made all that immaterial.

Of course, Labour's 2005 manifesto had promised that any new European Constitution would be put to the British people - but it didn't say that a near-identical 'Reform Treaty' would be.

Nor did Labour's 2008 manifesto, nor its 2012, 2016 or 2020 manifestos.

Referenda had been held no fewer than 34 times in Britain after New Labour came to power in 1997, deciding everything from the setting up of the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies down to whether Hartlepool should have a mayor, yet one could not be held on the most important issue facing the country.

The 2012 Olympics were the last in which the Union Jack was held aloft in front of the British athletes as they proudly paraded in the stadium.

After that, the Union Jack was relegated to the top left-hand area of the EU flag, the better, Brussels insisted, to emphasise the sporting prowess of the Union "in a corporate sense".

For Darfur 2016, the EU flag fluttered over each of the 28 national teams, but by the Kabul Olympics of 2020, there was only one - admittedly enormous - 'European' team permitted to compete.

It was still comprehensively beaten by the People's Empire of China.

Buckingham with EU

After the EU had created its own foreign minister, it was only natural that it should also create its own finance minister, which duly happened in 2013, although for a time the official title was "High Representative of the Union for Financial and Economic Policy."

His demand that all the states of the Union adopt the euro as a single currency was welcomed by the Scottish and Welsh regional governments but it was refused by the English regional government under Gordon Brown and the Ulster regional government under Ian Paisley - at least until both men retired from politics in 2014.

After that, their successors, Hilary Benn and Gerry Adams, embraced the euro as part of their modernisation programme.

The decision to impose tax "harmonisation" (i.e. total uniformity) in 2011 had already led, as leading think-tanks such as Global Vision had repeatedly warned it would, to reduced flexibility in the way that member state economies could react to the increasing risks and opportunities posed by globalisation.

Changing economic conditions required diversity of tax policy rather than uniformity, but a policy of stealth tax harmonisation meant that the European Commission imposed tax rates even when there was no mandate for them.

Moreover, because Britain had generally lower taxes than most of the rest of the EU, taxation only ever seemed to go in one direction. The rise of VAT to 22.5 per cent in 2011 was only the beginning.

The ill-thought-out EU Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) was not deliberately designed to wreck the City of London's chances of taking over from New York as the world's leading financial powerhouse, but by the time it was put into operation, in 2009, it certainly had that effect.

Competitiveness was ruined by the kind of unnecessary and onerous rigid regulations at which the EU was so expert, and financial services business simply relocated to less burdened areas of the world.

Instead of bidding fair to be the world leader, by 2020 London was eighth in the league table in the increasingly globalised economy.

Coming mainly from the Midlands, the Metric Martyrs had seen the effect of the EU's asylum and immigration policies which, by accident or design, had permanently shifted the ethnic nature of the countries that had once made up the United Kingdom.

Huge Serbian enclaves in Sussex, vast Bulgarian communities in Leicestershire, entire towns full of Romanian gipsies in Yorkshire and Lancashire - the 600,000 Eastern Europeans who had flooded in under New Labour in 2005/6 were as nothing to the mass immigration that had taken place under the EU's Free Movement of Peoples Directive 856/88 of 2019.

It all seemed so hopeless to the Metric Martyrs, as they sat in their police cell contemplating the future. Growing up in an independent, sovereign United Kingdom, they had seen that precious birthright slowly, gradually and often deceitfully stolen by unelected bureaucrats working in Belgium.

Under soothing phrases such as "harmonisation", "optimisation", "ever-closer coordination", "subsidiarity", "economic cohesion", and "regional development", the right of Britons to determine their own future had been confiscated.

Looking back, they each acknowledged that the key turning point had been the 'Reform' Treaty of 2007.

To their credit, the Martyrs recalled, some European politicians had been perfectly honest about its true nature.

"The wrapping has been changed, but not the content," Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister, had admitted.

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, agreed, saying: "Thankfully, they haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent is still there."

Peering into the future, the group of small businessmen could only perceive one tiny glimmer of hope on the horizon.

In the European elections due in the following October, the Conservative Party leader was standing for the Europresidency on an unashamedly patriotic ticket.

Might the long-awaited fightback, if it wasn't too late, begin?

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