Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is a rather overlooked backbench Tory, but he put a quiet, killer question to the Prime Minister on his un-Chamberlain like return from the EU summit.
He didn’t try to show off a deep understanding of the EU treaties, he didn’t get stuck into Labour for failing to say where they were on the treaty David Cameron didn’t sign, and he wasn’t sarky about the Lib Dems who just weren’t there – including their leader Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
No, Mr Clifton-Brown simply suggested that constituents the length and breadth of the UK, in common with his own, were puzzled as to why everyone was getting het up about a treaty that wasn’t yet drawn up, when there’s a full-blown crisis, right now, in the eurozone that threatens the financial security of every family in the UK. Why, he wanted to know, weren’t the national leaders putting their minds to solving real economy issues like debt and unemployment? After all, if these dragons aren’t slain, the new treaty easing the way for Europe’s sovereign states to become part of a unified federal state would probably remain a magnificent obsession of German chancellors and French presidents.
David Cameron isn’t loved in Scotland. But I for one was willing to suspend hostilities until after he’d strutted his stuff at the General Meeting of the EU Fan Club. I liked the sound of the objectives he spelt out before he went. He did not intend to sign up for anything that could lead to policy and management decisions on banks, insurance companies, and the rest of the financial services coming under the ultimate control of an EU institution created by the new treaty. And as far as I can see, that’s what he’s done. He couldn’t get a “special interest” deal on the UK financial services sector in the new, proposed treaty, so he has declined the offer Sarkosy and Merkel thought he couldn’t refuse (to join them at the centre of “core”, top-speed EU), and he has stuck with the existing treaty that, he hopes, will safeguard the independence of around 150,000 jobs in Scotland.
That was reason enough to support Cameron’s behaviour at the summit. But there is another: Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkosy and a small number of MSPs and MPs are aiming for a fully federal United States of Europe. But even Jacques Delors, past Commission president and the great white hope of Europe’s Left, recently described the euro as fundamentally flawed. From my own, less celebrated perch on the legislative ladder, I’ve squawked the same tale.
It has now been proved that a single monetary policy (the euro) won’t work when the component parts are so different in their recorded GDP (Gross Domestic Product), social and political history. Very disparate countries can work together, but only if they retain sovereignty over the fundamental choices made by them. For example, would you believe Scotland to be in charge of her own destiny if the Finance Ministry officials in Germany had, in accordance with the treaty David Cameron didn’t sign, the right to see and approve or amend the budget produced by an elected Scottish MSP?
It happened to Ireland. These previously ultra EU fans are beginning to think it’s possible to get too much of a good thing because now that their immediate debt problems are being tackled they’re beginning to be more confident about their ability to work themselves out of the mess they were in. The Irish signed where David wouldn’t, using as an excuse for not facing down Germany the line that this is only a proposition for debating whether a centralised fiscal institution, the corner stone of a United States of Europe, will have the support of all member states.
The truth is that nobody knows what shape the EU will be in a year from now. The present economic depression will not lift from some EU countries for at least a year. Unless Scotland becomes independent within the next five years, our economy won’t perform to the same standards as in 2007, until possibly 2020. Greece, Italy and France, to name only three, have to undergo a decade of unemployment and austerity such as have brought down regimes, and the threat of which has already seen Greeks battling in the streets with the police.
The new treaty has to be ratified by each member state’s citizens in referendums. In the past the deep down and dirty democrats in the EU bureaucracy have encouraged as only they can, governments whose citizens have said “No” to the EU line in referendums, to hold another, and get the desired outcome.
This saga is still running . . . we’re well out of it.