Thursday, 25 February 2016

David Cameron's statement of 19 February 2016

I watched David Cameron's statement broadcast by both Euronews and the BBC live on 19 February 2016 ~11pm GMT.

My overall impression is that UKGov's position is incredible and that the other 27 governments' position is doubtful.  I don't feel that I can trust any of them!


Regarding competitiveness, Cameron said:
For the first time, the European Union will now say competitiveness is – and I quote – “an essential objective of the Union.” 
This is important because it goes to the very heart of what Europe should be about. 
It means Europe will complete the single market in services.

Hold on: this is the notion of the Common Market.  So if this single market is a new "win" for Britain, what was the Common Market that we voted on in 1976?

Who expects us to believe that 40 years - forty years! - after the public's approval of a Common Market that finally we're going to get a Common Market?

In my own job, I yearn for a single market in services.  But every European subsidiary I run has to report to its own European state.  And although the rules are similar, they are different.  And they all need to done in their own local language.  And they all need a local fiscal representative (in some way shape or form).  And most of them need paper books and paper records (like, this is still 18th century, right?).  But governmental parochialism, protection of 'culture' and each country's legal trade and so-called 'sovereignty' appear to be vested interests that block a single market in services from developing.

If either Common Market or Single Market ever had any credibility, we'd have had a single market in services decades ago.


Regarding migration, Cameron said:

New powers against criminals from other countries – including powers to stop them coming here in the first place, and powers to deport them if they are already here.
And an end to the ridiculous situation where EU nationals can avoid British immigration rules when bringing their families from outside the EU.

This is plain simple common sense.  I would have assumed this was understood long before accession in 1972.  It beggars belief that UKGov signed up to a "trading agreement" in 1972 without checking these sorts of basics.

Why did UKGov choose to sign treaties before 1972 that exposed the UK to these risks?

In what other matters has UKGov compromised UK security by carelessness in reading, understanding and implementing EU-related treaties?

Powers for the UK Parliament

Regarding sovereignty, Cameron said:

Ever since we joined, Europe has been on the path to something called ‘ever closer union’.
It means a political union.
We’ve never liked it. We’ve never wanted it.

Why did the Foreign Office choose not spot this in the acquis communautaire pre-1972?

The founders of the European project - Monnet and Salter - were comparatively open about their respective visions between 1945 and 1970.  How did no-body in UKGov pick up on this?

Why did no-body in UKGov become suspicious when the French government changed its mind about UKGov's application to join?

Can the British trust UKGov to run the country post-Brexit better than it did in 1960s/1970s?

Cameron hints at the answer to that last question.  He said:
So in addition to these changes, I will shortly be bringing forward further proposals that we can take as country, unilaterally, to strengthen the sovereignty of Britain’s great institutions.
Much as I would love the UK to adapt to the world more slickly than it does at present (i.e. toeing the sclerotic line within the European Union), past evidence suggests that the UK is pretty hopeless at forming a useful strategy for anything.  It's called "disjointed incrementalism", an exercise of serial expediency instead of sustained, joined-up rational thought.

This means that if the British want to leave, they would need to have confidence in its institutions to do the right thing, on the right evidence, at the right time and in the right timescale, time after time after time.  On the other hand, if the British want to stay, then it would imply that the British have greater confidence in European governance than British governance, in which case ruling out participation in ever closer union is, at best, premature.  Neither of these choices, nor the low quality of public policy choices within the current competence of the UK Parliament, appear to be within the mindset of the average voter.  Yet they desperately need to be for the referendum of 23 June 2016 to have any credibility.

Referendum or referenda?

Cameron said:
This will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the destiny of our country.
If the British vote to "stay" on 23 June 2016, then how else can the British protect themselves from unapproved changes - or general sabotage of the draft agreement - by the European Parliament and the European Court without a second referendum in June 2017?

The risk of back-door sabotage-by-ideology seems high.

Here is my preferred question for the referendum of June 2017.
The European Union has had one year in which to implement your decision to "stay" in June 2016.  Considering the European Union's progress, do you want the United Kingdom to a) stay in the European Union; or b) leave the European Union?

A final cynical thought

I do hope the end result of this referendum for both Labour and Conservative Parties is worth our valuable resources that Cameron has committed to throw at it.

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