Who has the real power in UK-EU relations? Douglas Carswell, noting that policy towards the EU seems to more or less stay the same whichever party is in power, argues that the UK’s Permanent Representative at the EU holds significant power. It reminds me of that Yes, Minister sketch when Sir Humphrey Appleby says that it is much better that civil servants and teacher unions decide education policy because ministers are always changing.
Acting on his instincts Douglas Carswell has teamed up with a few other Eurosceptic Tories – Steve Baker, Philip Davies, David Davis, Richard Drax, Zac Goldsmith, Chris Heaton-Harris, Philip Hollobone, Mark Reckless and Charles Walker – to table a motion on today’s Commons Order Paper calling for the UK Permanent Representative to answer questions at the bar of the House.
It’s with something of a heavy heart that I will be supporting tomorrow’s amendments: we should not be in this position.
The main obstacle to the establishment of a supernational customs union with internal free trade among the member nations is the fact that such a customs union requires unlimited supremacy of the supernational authorities and an almost complete annihilation of the national governments if etatism is to be retained. Under present conditions it makes little difference whether the constitution of the suggested union of the Western democracies is shaped according to the legal pattern of unitary or of federal government. There are only two alternatives open: trade barriers among the member states, with all their sinister consequences, economic nationalism, rivalries and discord; or free trade among the member states and (whatever the constitutional term adopted for it) strictly centralized government. In the first case there would be not union but disunion. In the second case the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain would be virtually reduced to the status of provincial governors, and Congress and Parliament to provincial assemblies. It is unlikely that the Americans or the British will easily agree to such a solution of the problem.
The policies of government interference with business and of national planning beget economic nationalism. The abandonment of economic nationalism, an indispensable condition for the establishment of lasting peace, can only be achieved through a unification of government, if people do not want to return to the system of unhampered market economy. This is the crux of the matter.
And this indeed is the crux of the matter: either a single interventionist European state or a future based on unhampered social cooperation, a Big Society, if you will.
My choice is clear.