There’s a bit of a storm going on today in the media. The EU is centre-stage as politicians stake their claims and set out their stalls. On the one hand we have the ‘it wasn’t me, Guv’ brigade who seek to distance themselves from the EU and on the other the deeper & faster brigade who insist, against all the evidence, that a federation of states with central government in Brussels is the only way forward for Britain.
Mark Pritchard, Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, is the star performer of the IWMG Brigade. He writes:
“When Britain voted to stay in the European Economic Community in 1975 the country was promised it would be a common market. Yet over time, mostly by stealth and within every new treaty, we have been drawn relentlessly into an “ever closer union” with the Continent. For many Britons, the EU has already become a kind of occupying force, setting unfamiliar rules, demanding levies, curbing freedoms, subverting our culture, and imposing alien taxes.
“In less than four decades, and without a single shot being fired, Britain has become enslaved to Europe — servitude that intrudes and impinges on millions of British lives every day. Brussels has become a burdensome yoke, disfiguring Britain’s independence and diluting her sovereignty.”
It’s a short article, very to the point and has to be read in full.
The current leading light of the deeper & faster brigade is Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury who writes in The Times (£) today but doesn’t actually seem to say anything. I struggled to find anything quotable from him; it’s just the usual rhetoric about pulling together and not rocking the boat.
“As George Osborne has said, our European partners have to accept the remorseless logic of monetary union that leads from a single currency to greater fiscal integration. Here at home we are far from immune to what is going on at our doorstep. But, even while the current storm rages, some eurosceptics of the Left and Right see this as an opportunity to plot a course further to destabilise the EU, arguing that we should be seeking wholesale renegotiation of the treaties. While this might have a superficial attraction to eurosceptics it would be the wrong course to take…”
The Daily Express has a more informative report on his speech at the LibDem Conference, where he accused ‘eurosceptics’ of being “the enemies of growth”. He also said:
“Sadly, Eurosceptics on left and right fail to understand Winston Churchill’s central insight that sharing sovereignty strengthens influence and isolation weakens us.”
Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough of these europhiles rolling out Winston Churchill as a proponent of all things EU, and if they repeatedly misquote him or take phrases out of context then I’ll keep correcting them. It seems to be the tactic to take something we’re all familiar with and twist and subvert it over time so that now, according to them, anti-EU Churchill was an enthusiastic co-founder of the United States of Europe.
Here’s Churchill’s Zurich 1946 speech again in which he makes it quite clear that he sees three blocs: The United States of America; Britain & The Commonwealth; a United States of Europe with France & Germany as the main partners. “We must build a kind of United States of Europe: Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America must be friends and sponsors of the new Europe.”
More quotes from various speakers:
Churchill 1944: “Each time we must choose between Europe and the open sea, we shall always choose the open sea. Each time I must choose between you and Roosevelt, I shall always choose Roosevelt.”
Tony Blair 1982/1983: “We’ll negotiate withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs.”
Ted Heath 1970: “Swallow the lot and swallow it now.”
John Redwood adds his tuppence-worth.
Bruce Anderson: “From tragedy, triumph, deceit, and failure – the post-war history of the European project.” An interesting article and not as long as the title suggests.
Nick Clegg: “We’ll stop the Tories backing away from Europe.”
The EU Giveth : Nine bins for every home.
If only there had been all this coverage and debate in the years before Brown and Miliband slunk off to sign the Lisbon Treaty, we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain. Melanie Phillips gives a good, rollicking overview of the state we’re in: “Britain’s navel-gazing politicians fail to see that they are locked in a battle for civilisation.”