The EU problem, and political seriousness
John Redwood MP, cool headed, rational and principled, as ever, asks democratic eurosceptics to look at the internal debate in Britain and the wider problem of EU federalism from a constructive perspective
For most in the EU it will be business as usual. In large countries like Germany and Italy the mainstream parties won the Euro elections. Overall federalist parties of the centre left and centre right which belong to the main groupings won 70 percent of the seats.
They will claim a mandate and continue to pursue their integrationist strategy. The so called socialists and the so called centre right in the EU will grow more and more together, becoming a united federalist team, exploiting all the manifold divisions in the anti and less EU parties in the rest of the Parliament.
In France where the Front National came first with just one quarter of the vote, the Socialist and pro EU President will try to gain concessions about growth and budgets but hope the rest of the problem goes away. The President’s main right of centre opposition remains damaged and weak.
In the UK, UKIP’s first place on 27 percent of the vote gave them 24 seats to Labour’s 20 and Conservative’s 19 is a rare case of a country where voters have by a majority preferred two parties (UKIP and Conservatives) that do not belong to either of the two main federalist groupings.
The vote will reaffirm the Conservatives decision to offer a negotiation and a referendum on the result of any negotiation in the next election. UKIP say they would simply withdraw from the EU, but they could only do that if their party held at least 326 seats in Westminster and if they thought they could do it without any referendum to ask people if they agreed.
The idea of trying a renegotiation first makes it more likely the Out side will win a referendum if critics of the strategy are right and the EU offers little or nothing to the UK. If instead the EU offers us a good deal then people will have the chance to decide if it is good enough to warrant the continuing surrender of various rights and powers of self government which will still be needed as a sacrifice under any likely deal.
As Conservative MEPs and UKIP do not belong to a federalist grouping, so the UK offers the biggest block of anti federalist votes in the European Parliament.
UKIP does not wish to work with the Front National in France. It will be interesting to see if UKIP does work with AFD in Germany. UKIP will presumably offer immediate pull out from the EU again in the General Election, whilst Labour is still wedded to putting up with all the current EU powers and measures, and remains against a referendum.
Labour hopes UKIP will do more damage to the Conservatives than to them and will allow them to win on a small share of the total vote. This would cement the federalist position and rule out a referendum.
In future articles, I will examine more issues surrounding the role of the new MEPs, the best way for Eurosceptics to unite their forces from here instead of fighting each other to a standstill, and the ways in which the UK could start to wrestle powers back in crucial areas before we have the chance to settle the matter at the 2015 General Election.
Mr. Redwood's writing is re-posted here by his kind permission. This and other articles are available at johnredwoodsdiary.com
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