We are now on the run-up to the Brexit Referendum. Those who know me will know my position:
The European Coal & Steel Commission was set up in 1957 to do two things. To stop Germany invading France every generation, as they had done since 1870. And to enable any citizen of any member country to buy as much of whatever they wanted in the country that sold it cheapest without paying extra duty for bringing it home. Job one: resounding success. Job two: utter failure. Insofar as there should be any political union or common home or foreign policy, this should be led by Britain, who have a 1,000 year track record of getting it right, rather than (say) Germany or Belgium who tend to slip into tyrannies if you take their reins off.
David Cameron’s position is that, however much he believes that the UK will do better staying in than getting out, if the EU will not reform then leaving it would indeed be in our country’s best interests. But politicians notoriously shift their position to put themselves in the best light. Has the Prime Minister committed himself to anything concrete that we can quantify as an uncrossable red line?
I believe that he has: and those red lines are laid out in his letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. Here they are:
- “There should be no discrimination and no disadvantage for any business on the basis of the currency of their country”
- “Any changes the Eurozone decides to make…must be voluntary for non-Euro countries, never compulsory”
- “Taxpayers in non-Euro countries should never be financially liable for operations to support the Eurozone as a currency”
- “And any issues that affect all Member States must be discussed and decided by all Member States”
- “…the burden from existing regulation is still too high…cut the total burden on business.”
- “…end Britain’s obligation to work towards an ‘ever closer union’ as set out in the Treaty.”
- “National Security is – and must remain – the sole responsibility of Member States…”
- “when new countries are admitted to the EU in the future, free movement will not apply to those new members…”
- “…people coming to Britain from the EU must live here and contribute for for years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing.”
These nine points seem to me clear-cut and testable. If the EU flatly refuses to comply with any one of them, then David Cameron must be honour-bound to tell the British people that he recommends we leave the EU. And we need to hold him to this.
Here is the full text of David Cameron’s letter
And here is Donald Tusk’s unavoidably ambiguous reply
Let battle commence!