UKIP Uncovered
What motivates the leaders of the United Kingdom Independence Party?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005 

The BBC's programme 'This Sceptic Isle'

This speedily typed transcript has been provided by Helen Martinek, for which many thanks. She asks our forgiveness for typographical errors, perfectly understandable given the speed of its avaiablity. We request the same as posting seems preferable to perfection. The programme was broadcast on BBC Radio Four 4th January at 8:00 pm GMT.

This Sceptic Isle 4/1/05 8pm Presented by Ruth Lea. Radio 4

Ruth Lea:
We have been members of the EU for 30 years but is that certain to continue in the future or could Britain soon be moving rapidly to withdrawal from the EU. Ruth Lea has been investigating.

Old Record playing in the background
There’ll always be an England…

Ruth Lea
A busy publisher’s warehouse in Cheltenham, and the mood music reflects the message of the products which the workers here are handling. This is the base of a new campaign called GB - Goodbye Brussels.

Edmund Whitehouse
We do have what we call a patriot’s pack which gives you stickers to put on your envelopes, badges to wear, postcards to send out and even a sticker to stick over the wretched stars of Brussels on your car number plate if you’re unfortunate enough to have one.

More singing of There always be an England.

The campaign is run by the magazine “This England” which is the largest selling quarterly magazine in the country. It’s mainly devoted to gentle nostalgia, but it also has a regular much more pungent section entitled “Don’t let Europe rule Britannia”. Are the readers supporters? Edmund Whitehouse is the magazine’s assistant editor.

They’ve been very very enthusiastically behind us; I receive letters every day, far too many to deal with, expressing bewilderment at what’s happened to the country and how they’ve seen it decline in their lifetime. About 70% of our laws are passed by Brussels, which is a national disgrace in my opinion and as far as both fishing and farming are concerned we have really
been destroyed by European Union red tape. That’s what a large percentage of the population believe … we’re very much for coming out of the European Union, there’s no reason why we should be in it in the first place. We can trade with them perfectly happily, we should be ruling our own country and we’re not doing that at the moment.

While “This England” certainly has an old-fashioned feel to it, the magazine’s campaigning is part of a distinctly contemporary trend - the growth in British Euroscepticism. It’s now 32 years since Britain became a member of what was then the Common Market and is now the European Union. Yet despite the length of time, more and more people seem to be uneasy about the EU’s
impact on Britain - and incidentally, I’m one of them. But could this reaction be so strong and powerful that it leads to the ultimate backlash - British withdrawal from the EU; in other words, while this could involve retaining various trading links with Europe, a Britain that is completely
outside all the political structures of the European Union. Or as those campaigners would put it “Goodbye Brussels”.
In this programme, I'll be examining the extent of public support for this; some reasons why the political establishment takes a different view and whether it could actually happen - perhaps sooner than you might think.
In last year’s European Elections, the withdrawalist UK Independence party took 16% of the vote, but how much further does backing for their policy of leaving the EU go? Andrew Cooper of the polling company Populus.

It’s still a minority view but it’s a minority view that has been growing over recent years according to the polls from probably less than a third of British voters saying that Britain should pull out … a few years ago … to more than 40% in many polls now. And in our poll in the last European Election, we found firstly a large majority of people would like there to be a referendum on the question whether Britain should stay in or not stay in.
And …that if there were a referendum, only just under a half say that they would vote to pull out, and only just over a half would vote to stay in.

And which voters are keenest to leave?

Among certain sections of the population there are more people who want to pull out than who want to stay in. That’s slightly more women want to pull out than want to stay in, if there were a referendum. Among semi-skilled and unskilled workers, by quite a wide margin, more want to pull out than to stay in. And among Conservative voters, by a margin of 12% … 47% would say
that they would vote to pull out, 35% say they would vote to stay in if there were a referendum.

Asking people how they would vote in a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU is the simplest and starkest way of posing the choice.
There are other ways of phrasing the question which according to other polls can even show a more dramatic result - a majority of the whole population in favour of reducing our link with the EU, from political membership to trading associate. It’s not good news for the EU supporters, so how do they explain the strength of British euroscepticism? Lucy Parl is the director of their umbrella campaign group “Britain in Europe”.

Certainly for Britain, there has always been a cultural thing about us being an island, and seeing ourselves as somehow sort of different and separate and perhaps above some of our sort of continental partners. Obviously Britain’s place in history as part of the Commonwealth and a global player over … you know… a number of centuries gives people a different sense of our
place in the world which I think is sometimes slightly out of date. And then also there are those who are sort of more ideologically opposed to some aspects of the European Union, in particular its … its social conscience element which is perhaps different to a more pure market example like

That’s 3 reasons but there is a further factor says Charles Grant of thepro-European think tank, the Centre for European Reform.

A fourth reason which has grown in tempo in recent years has been the press campaign of vilification - particularly the Telegraph group, the Mail group and the Murdoch papers - the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times. They have basically campaigned to represent the EU in a negative light and I think it’ s worked. And I think that a lot of the things that these newspapers have
said about the EU both true and sometimes untrue and often exaggerated have seeped into the British consciousness and I think people believe all sorts of things about the EU now that are not true - and I think that explains partly why the British people have become very eurosceptic in recent years.

The press certainly influences public opinion. But does the Sun’s political editor Trevor Kavanagh see himself as engaged in a campaign of vilification?

The Sun is not a knee-jerk xenophobic newspaper which tries to just campaign on emotional issues like the question of whether the Queen’s head should be on the pound note or the euro coin. What we want to do is to raise the genuine and legitimate argument about the way Europe is governed by an unaccountable, undemocratic and remote bureaucracy, and the fact that there
is a democratic deficit that even Brussels acknowledges but will do nothing about. And I do think that there is a strong and growing feeling according to the opinion polls for people who want to actually pull out altogether.

Of course, not all eurosceptics want to pull out altogether. Far from it in fact, but those who do, do seem to be riding a wave at the moment. Charles Grant explains how the varied eurosceptic campaign organisations are regarded by those like him on the pro-European side of the divide.

The ones that seem to have the energy and the vigour and the vim are the ones which are actually committed to withdrawal from the EU. That seems to be a political cause that strongly motivates certain groups of political activists. And the more sort of subtle, mainstream case represented by the Conservative Leadership which is not to withdraw but to renegotiate certain
policies and have a bit less Europe but not leave altogether - that more complicated position, that doesn’t seem to motivate people - it’s rather less exciting.

Clip from another recording:
“Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, my name’s Brian Smalley. I think most of you know me but those who don’t know me - that’s who I am. I would like to thank you all for coming … this evening….”

A UKIP meeting in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire - the local supporters get the motivating message which they want to hear…..

“….. there’s nothing we can do about it, is there? And of course, if you take that attitude, then you’re lost. If we had taken that attitude in 1939 we would now be citizens of the German State. So please go out and fight for your country. Thank you very much.” Applause

And the people here are certainly committed in their views…..

Sound-bites of people at the UKIP meeting:
Woman’s voice:
“There are millions and billions of tax-payers money, in this country, going down the drain in Europe. Now I don’t want to give my money to Europeans, I would far rather my taxes be spent in this country. And that’s the basis of the UKIP’s philosophy….”
Man’s voice:
“30 years ago I started to work in the Soviet Union, so I saw at first hand what a totalitarian state means. And - it is absolutely clear to anyone who studies it that the EU is becoming - and has almost become already - a totalitarian state. And there is no difference - there will be no difference eventually… um… between the EU and the former Soviet Union, none at all.”
Another Man’s voice:
“I believe very firmly that this country should be governed by the British rather than by unelected foreigners. I mean, I’m not anti-European, any more than I’m anti the North Pole … it’s merely EU membership which I find abhorrent… and that’s a view shared by a great proportion of the electorate.”
Another Man’s voice:
“We love Europe but we can’t work with Europe and that’s basically what it’s all about. Time will tell how we will fare, but I believe Great Britain can look after itself quite well in the future.”
Another Man’s voice:
“I could see the way the country is going and I thought we’ve got to do something to save it and retain our independence. If you look at the history of this country, we fought 2 world wars and retained our independence and I don’t see why we should give it away.”
Another Woman’s voice:
“I have no faith in any of the other parties - they’re not for this country, are they? They want to give us all away I think… I think they’re not for England or Britain at all…. I want to save our country because I think we should … um… rule our own country, we should have our own parliament … do our own thing. We are anti-European. We’re not anti-Europe but just anti the
EU which is a totally different thing. Yes we like to go there, don’t we, …interruptions… we like the holidays …….. you know, we should rule ourselves.”

You can hear views like these expressed not only at political meetings but in pubs, work places and homes all over the country. How often however, are they heard from the residents of the political village at Westminster.

Andrew Cooper of Populus.

The political establishment in Westminster thinks in a sense that it’s sort of prima facie sign of madness to imply that Britain can pull out of Europe and go it alone. It’s one of those sort of unchallenged truths of politics. But it’s clearly the case that the 3 main parties in this country… the political mainstream… share a sort of liberal establishment view that Britain must be in the EU. It’s unthinkable for them to say… it’s unsayable…that we might pull out.

Although of course there are dissidents…

There’s no doubt there are a lot of Conservative activists, there’s a lot of Conservative MPs, there are probably quite a lot of Labour MPs, whose private view is that either that we should pull out or that we will almost inevitably reach the point when we have to pull out … because of the terms on which membership will increasingly change. I suppose one could say that is a suppressed view in the sense that it’s a view that they honestly feel … but don’t feel that it’s possible to air that thought … because the climate is one in which it’s unthinkable, it’s almost sort of … it’s de facto proof of unsoundness of mind and unfitness for office. It’s not something which in the British political culture is acceptable to say within the mainstream, which is odd given that it’s a view which is taken by such a large minority of the voters.

So why doesn’t the mainstream political establishment openly reflect the public differences over Britain’s membership of the EU? For a start, there’s one factor which often powerfully stifles political debate - the intense pressure for party unity. Here’s someone who should know…

“The difficulty about Europe is that politicians don’t want to talk about it because it’s an issue which has torn the political parties apart.”

… Still it’s certainly never deterred the Conservative MP Sir Teddy Taylor from wanting to talk about it. His passionate euroscepticism makes him a committed withdrawalist and he took part in the bruising and vicious internal party battles over Europe that the Tories experienced in the 1990’s.

In the Conservatives, we all had a small minority, a tiny minority… we call them the H block… because their names all begin with the letter H - and basically they’re the ones who were fanatically for the European Union but a tiny group. You’ve a small group like myself and others who have always been very much against it. The group in the middle have not been terribly
interested, they’ve moved one way or the other, but I think there’s no doubt at all that we don’t have a major political party which represents that kind of view. Now the Conservatives are beginning to change - we say we’re against the European Constitution, we’re against the single currency, we’ll try and get out of the Common Fisheries Policy. I think we could be moving
in that direction, but I think what people need is a party which will take their views seriously and give them proper representation. But you know, we’re still not there. The basic problem and there’s no point in hiding it is, that Europe has divided the parties and caused problems and if you were put in charge of a political party, you don’t want to try and promote disunity.

As Sir Teddy indicates, the Conservative party has moved substantially in a eurosceptic direction. Under the leadership of William Hague, Ian Duncan-Smith and now Michael Howard, it has adopted policies very different from those pursued by John Major in government. Indeed, many of its opponents argue that a policy of seeking to renegotiate the existing European treaties is tantamount to contemplating withdrawal, because what other option are you are left with, if your attempted renegotiation fails to achieve the desired results. This possibility is of course strongly denied by the Tory leadership. Sir Teddy may think that perhaps Michael Howard has
gone as far in the eurosceptic direction as he can take the Tories at the moment. And possibly, in any case, Mr. Howard may not want to go any further, but there are others who argue that the party could and should do so. Lord Malcolm Pearson is a prominent withdrawalist and one of the
founders of the eurosceptic campaign group “Global Britain”. He lost the Tory whip in the House of Lords last year after he urged support for UKIP.

Michael Howard, although I think, personally he still believes in the bridge theory, which is the outdated idea that the United Kingdom can act as a go-between, as a good influence, between the French and the Americans. I think Michael believed that strongly… but he also fears splitting the party if he were to adopt a policy of leaving the European Union. And he fears that some MPs might leave and that the party would be back into its old strife on Europe. I think and many of us think, in fact we’re sure, that he’s wrong about that… that if the Conservative party adopted a come out policy and therefore brought UKIP back into the fold, it would lose at most a couple of MPs, 2 or 3 and win the next election. I mean we simply can’t understand why he doesn’t do it. You might lose an Ian Taylor or a Kenneth Clarke, but who cares.

But in any case, the Conservatives are now much more eurosceptic than the Labour party - a striking contrast to the situation when Britain joined the Common Market in 1973. There are however, some dedicated Labour activists who have battled to keep the sceptic cause alive within the party, notably the Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign. It’s secretary is John Mills. But how many Labour MPs today sympathise with him.

Well there are some but not really very many, and certainly not very many who regard this as one of the more important political objectives they want to pursue. And I mean I think one of the reasons why the Labour party doesn’t say a great deal about these sort of issues to do with the EU is actually that for most Labour people, education and health and transport and so on are much bigger and more important issues and because of the stance the leadership takes, what they don’t want to do is to rock the boat on what they regard as a relatively minor issue…

And of course there is history here.

… Rightly or wrongly, I think that Neil Kinnock in his day thought that outright opposition to the EU, coming out, was a serious vote-loser. And he wanted to shift the Labour party to being more electable, and that was one of the policies that got changed as a result of that.

But are there other deeper reasons why there is such a discrepancy between public opinion and the views of the political establishment. It’s psychological according to Daniel Hannan, a Tory member of the European Parliament who has become one of the rising stars of the eurosceptic

I think this has been a problem really going back for the 32 years of our membership. People feel that politicians of all parties - I’m not going to make any partisan points here - have been less than frank about spelling out where this was going. Maybe, because I’m a politician, I would put that slightly more generously. I would say that actually, our entire political class has engaged in a certain amount of self-deception on this because all of us in all parties - we’ve all taken the line, that if we got in there, argued from the inside, used our influence - then we could turn it around.

While Daniel Hannan argues that British politicians have deceived themselves about their ability to change EU integrationism, for Lord Pearson, their motive is simpler. He thinks they feel guilty.

The political elite is still stuck with its sound bite that if you talk about leaving the European Union, you frighten the horses. What the political elite means by that is that it is ashamed of having got us thus far into the clutches of the corrupt octopus in Brussels. And it therefore
blames a non-existent fear in the British people to justify its continuing support of this disastrous enterprise.

But could the political elite have another kind of problem with hard-line euroscepticism? That is regards it as redolent of a little Englander form of xenophobia? It’s a charge which some supporters of the European Union are keen to pin on their opponents. This may be genuine distaste, political tactics or perhaps both - and have some eurosceptics only got themselves to
blame for this? Marc Glendenning represents the Democracy Movement, a leading non-party eurosceptic organisation.

There are 2 very broad strands to the eurosceptic movement - the vast majority, what I would call mainstream eurosceptics which includes people in the Conservative party, the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and others, are pragmatic and modernist eurosceptics in that their objections to the EU project are founded on a concern about democracy, a belief that the
European Union is somewhat out of date in the way it is structured - and that there are developments taking place in other parts of the world that mean we have to have a more internationalist and open mindset and be less Euro fixated. But there then is another strand which I call the music hall nationalists who project a rather traditionalist and sentimentalist and also xenophobic approach…

Flanders and Swann singing:
“… oh, the English, the English, the English are best, so up with the
English and down with the rest.
It’s not that they’re wicked or naturally bad
It’s knowing they’re foreign, that makes them so mad.

For the English are all that a nation should be
And the flower of the English….”

The Bruges Group is a British eurosceptic think tank which sometimes invites politicians from other European countries to its events. A recent conference it held in London was addressed by a French member of the European Parliament. This was fine with most of the audience but not everyone there, like Frank…

“I’m UKIP because I’m anti-Euro, I mean I’m listening to this French guy up here and if it wouldn’t upset everybody, I was going to ask for the mike and just tell him the only good thing that ever came out of France were the Rugby team. Underneath it, I’m sitting at the back and I’m seething because there’s a Frenchman - I don’t mind Frenchmen, but thank God, there’s a strip of water between us, because I would give my last ounce of blood and my last breath to say - you keep your country, we keep ours - and I would not be dictated to by French, Germans or anybody else - they’re hijacking England and saying you must be a part of Europe - big deal, I say no, if I want to buy French wine, I'll buy French wine, I’m not going to keep my mouth wide
opened and have it poured down there …. - they’re winding me up, put it that way, they’re winding me up. I don’t want them, don’t need them, and the sooner they wake up to the fact, and the Germans, and the Spaniards, I just want them to get off my back, let me trade where I want throughout the world and respect my views and I'll respect them and I’m sure we can get on fine
but as it is at the moment all those choices are gone. And I’m not happy about it at all.”

Flanders and Swann singing:
And crossing the Channel, one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
But the Germans are German
The Russians are red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed

The English are moral, the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood.”

And guess what job Frank does

I’m a London cab driver and I speak to a lot, a lot of people and for the pro-Europeans, I would say that 99.999% of people I speak to want to get out.

Flanders and Swann singing:
The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest.

But whatever the reasons for the gap between public and political opinion the result is a democratic deficit in British politics according to John Mills who summarises matters as follows.

The main political parties have all shied off making our relations with the EU …or less happy … our membership an issue at all, but if you look at the way people answer questions in opinion polls you really do come up with views which are not represented by the vast majority of the classes in this country and that can’t be a very healthy position for everybody to be in on such a major issue as this.

And as we have seen this leaves a gap in the market.

Roger Knapman
It was the fact that nobody was representing the people who want to restore our independence and sovereignty which caused UKIP to be founded. There was no other voice.

Roger Knapman, the leader of the UK Independence Party.

We beat the Liberals into 4th place at the European Elections, we beat the Conservatives into 4th place in the Hartlepool by-election. We are the only people articulating the message that people want to hear and nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. And I think that the UK Independence Party has played a vital part in changing public opinion - we’ve perhaps been
pushing at open doors, I don’t know but we are going to do well at the General Election, far better than ever before.

But UKIP has had many internal problems of its own since its triumph at the Euro Elections last June, fostering the impression that it is amateurish and disorganised. Not everyone takes the optimistic views of its electoral prospects that Roger Knapman proclaims. The Sun’s political editor, Trevor Kavanagh.

I think that its impact will be much lessened by the squabbling inside. I think UKIP would have been a moderately serious threat to the Conservative party especially in marginal seats where there were pro-European candidates standing. I think it may be something of a threat but no where near as much of one after the leadership squabble involving Robert Kilroy-Silk, who
joined the party purely as an attempt to use it as his own personal bandwagon for publicity. I don’t think they’re a significant force.

And even some of those who sympathise with UKIP have fundamental doubts about the realism of its political strategy. One of these is Lord Pearson.

UKIP’s aim is to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union, an aim which many of us now share, most of us share. The only way that can be done is for a vote in the House of Commons to take us out of the European Union. The only way that can be done is for the Conservative party to do it and therefore if UKIP put up candidates against eurosceptic Conservative candidates, they’re mad, because they won’t win a single seat but they will
keep or they may keep a number of eurosceptic MPs - Labour and Conservative - out of the House of Commons and that is a very very silly strategy.

Whatever the merits of otherwise, of UKIP’s electoral tactics and whatever the nature of public opinion, one thing is clear, the House of Commons is a very long way from containing a majority of MPs who proclaim a commitment to vote for Britain to leave the European Union. Does that mean that Britain is bound to remain a member for the foreseeable future and that the current
enthusiasm of the withdrawalists is tempered by an underlying pessimism? On the contrary, many withdrawalists now believe that Tony Blair has handed them a golden opportunity by agreeing, assuming he is re-elected, to hold a referendum next year on the proposed European Constitution. And all the opinion polls so far suggest that the British public is strongly opposed to
the Constitution and will reject it by a large majority. What would be the implications of such an outcome? Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform.

Legally the British can if they wish, vote no to the Constitution, and still remain members of the European Union. I do believe in practice, assuming the others adopt the Treaty and we don’t they would go ahead and set up institutions for a more integrated Europe that would leave Britain behind. There are certainly people in the government who say the best way to win
this referendum is to say this is about in or out of Europe because the constitutional Treaty itself, very few people will read it, it’s extremely complicated, it’s hard to run a campaign on that. It’s easier for the pro-Europeans to say the EU is a good thing, let’s vote for it.

One of the most intense and possibly important arguments surrounding such a referendum will indeed be the question of whether it is simply and narrowly a vote on the Constitution itself or actually about much more than that. The Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.

The Prime Minister has to some extent made it an issue of Europe Yes or No rather than just on the constitution as such because he and his Europe Minister and indeed the leader of the Liberal Democrats have all connived at this idea that this isn’t just about these new transfers of power to
Brussels, it’s about the whole package, it’s about whether we’re in Europe at all. Now, obviously on one level he’s wrong, it’s perfectly possible for us to carry on as we are now without the Constitution. On the other hand he’s right to the extent that we haven’t had a vote for 30 years on European integration. So to that extent the Prime Minister is right when he says that this referendum will also be a vote on the intervening 30 years of the structures that have been built up in Brussels. Having as it were invited people to vote on that basis, I rather hope now that he’s prepared to accept the verdict either way.

Daniel Hannan’s analysis will be strongly disputed by many who will organise against the Constitution, including the prominent Vote No Group which contains leading business figures and less hard-line eurosceptics, and is likely to be the official umbrella campaigning organisation on the No side. They will argue for a No vote without endorsing the idea that it would fundamentally alter Britain’s relationship with the EU. All this results in a strange tactical irony uniting the withdrawalists and Tony Blair as Charles Grant suggests

Some of the sceptics will share the aim of the government in presenting this as an in or out referendum rather than a more complicated middle of the road position which may be to say some sceptics do (say) No to the Constitutional Treaty but Yes to the existing Treaties

And the idea that there is a tactical identity of interest is recognised by Lord Pearson

Yes I think there is, which is one reason why we will not be part of the No campaign because the No campaign will be made up of largely, I would think, people who do not want the Constitution but want to stay in the European Union. Blair is trying to frighten people by saying that if you vote against the Constitution, you would be voting to leave and wouldn’t that be terrible. The answer is that it wouldn’t be terrible, it would be immensely enriching and relieving and altogether a good thing. But there is an identity which is why we will have to stay separate.

Any ambiguity in what a No vote really means will be seized on by the Pro-Constitution campaigners. Lucy Parl of Britain in Europe.

If you look at those who are opposed to the Constitution, or Constitutional Treaty as I would prefer to say, there’s a whole range of views there from on the one hand, the sort of vote No lobby who would claim to be largely Pro-European but just don’t like aspects of this new treaty, right through to those at the other end of the spectrum, who would openly and quite
passionately believe that a No vote in the forthcoming referendum is the first stage to our leaving the European Union and that’s what they want. And I think how all those different bodies come to reconcile their own positions when it comes to a referendum and the public want a clear understanding of what a Yes vote is and what a No vote is will be a difficult issue for those
people opposing the Constitutional Treaty.

It’s a prospect which worries some eurosceptics who desperately wish to block the Constitution. One of these is Marc Glendenning from the Democracy Movement.

People who have the ultimate objective of leaving the European Union which I think is an intellectually respectable position to hold, need to understand that if we lose this referendum, then there is literally no possibility, certainly in my lifetime of Britain ever leaving the European Union. I mean, this referendum, I think, will be of huge significance for both sides. And so winning that referendum is a necessary condition for possibly altering profoundly Britain’s relationship with the European Union in some way, including the possibility of one day of leaving the Union, but there is probably a minority strand within that section of the population that just
in a rather self-indulgent way wants to emote publicly and give public expression rather to its desire to see Britain to leave the European Union, and then again there are elements within the UK Independence Party that are going along for reasons best known to themselves with the government and saying Yes this is a vote about whether we’re in or out of the European
Union, which it self-evidently isn’t. Their leadership has been confirming or helping to bolster the government’s strategy, which is utterly insane in relation to the actual objective of getting Britain out of the European Union.

But his warning doesn’t in the least worry UKIP’s leader, Roger Knapman.

This is our first real chance, our best chance, I believe 70% of the nation want to get out and renegotiate friendship and free trade, I believe it’s a referendum on continued membership. I believe the majority want to say No. Now we feel that for the first time that what we are talking about is not theoretical, it’s achievable and it’s achievable in a very short time. That must be exciting.

It’s not surprising that UKIP is getting excited. At the moment Britain does seem poised to vote No to the Constitution. We may be the only country to do so or perhaps with one or 2 others. For those who think that the majority of EU member states would anyway then proceed without us, the consequence may possibly be that we do end up leaving the political structures of the EU.
Still there could be one further twist that prevents this withdrawalist dream from becoming reality. What, just what if France voted No first? The Sun’s political editor, Trevor Kavanagh.

If there’s a No vote in France, then we would have to start from scratch, there’s no 2 ways about that. It would make a British referendum irrelevant, so on the assumption that they go ahead a year earlier than we’re planning to do. They would have the referendum, if it was a No vote, there would be no need for anyone else to have a referendum because it wouldn’t make any
difference if everybody else said Yes.

And how would Lord Pearson react to this?

I think if France votes No, it really does throw the whole thing back into the melting pot. And what I fear if France votes No, is that we would be back into another intergovernmental conference, which would produce yet another Treaty, amending the existing treaties, producing but far more cunningly, the same effects of the present Constitution. And if all the eurocrats and the political elite of Europe would claim that the people had won a great victory and look this was all entirely different and this is alright, isn’t it, and then that would be ratified, in the same process by the governments signing up to it, the executive signing up to it and Parliament becoming a rubber-stamp, and the people being entirely excluded which is what’s been happening for the last 40 years. These people are in no hurry to achieve their European dream, they’ve taken 40 years to get where they are, they are quite happy to spend another 5, if necessary.

So for him, would it be better if France voted Yes?

Yes, I think if France votes Yes, I am marginally happier, because I think it gives us a chance to be more isolated by voting No and by therefore negotiating our own position to leave unencumbered by a new intergovernmental conference, which confuses the whole future.

Now this really raises an ironic possibility. France, which kept Britain out of the Common Market for several years before we originally joined, could become if inadvertently by voting No, the force which ensures that we stay inside the European Union.

…. Rule Britannia……….


posted by Martin |8:21 AM
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