Article 45

Article 45: Further To The Re-Casting Of Brexit As Knowledge-Only Policy.

Chapter 1 of Daniel Hannan,s book, “Why Vote Leave”, published in 2016, goes on to observe that ‘although the War had wrecked much of European infrastructure, an educated and industrious workforce remained in place to rebuild it’; that ‘its post-war boom was fuelled by unprecedented migration from the countryside to industrial centres and from the Mediterranean to northern coalfields, while it received massive external assistance with America’s Marshal Aid programme disbursing an extraordinary $13 billion on top of the $12 billion separately contributed by the US between 1948 and 1952. Even more valuable was the US defence guarantee which enabled European governments to divert military spending to civil projects’. However, we know that ‘the 1974 oil shock was the beginning of Europe’s decline which continues to the present day’; that ‘Britain’s joining-time could not have been worse with this growth ending for Europe and starting for the rest of the world’; that ‘the combined economies of the then 28 member states having shrunk, according to International Monetary Fund, from 36% of World GDP in 1973 when Britain joined, to 17% in 2015, a decline which is now accelerating’. Indeed, ‘if we count only the 15 states which were in the EU before the ex-communist countries joined in 2004, the relative contraction is even sharper’. Thus to refer to the Chapter’s title, ‘if Britain were not already in the EU at the time it was written, “Who would join the EU today”’?

In Chapter 2, The Tyranny Of The Status Quo, Daniel Hannan notes that ‘the EU would recognise the negative effect of directly funding remain campaigns within the UK’; and that ‘it would therefore continue to fund proxies in the UK to make the remain argument on its behalf, these proxies being local government bodies, universities, charities, think tanks, trade associations and other non-state actors’; that ‘such proxies would appear more disinterested than would the EU itself’; and that ‘this expectation was confirmed when, on 26 January 2016, a letter appeared in the Independentsigned by the heads of various green pressure groups, and by the immediate past chairmen of some environmental quangos, warning against ‘Brexit’ on the grounds of EU laws having a hugely positive effect on the environment but without attempting to explain why a post-EU Britain wouldn’t simply retain or replicate – or even improve – these ‘hugely positive’ laws’. What was really interesting , though, was that ‘the signatures represented universities, Natural England, the Green Alliance, the RSPB, the Natural Environmental Research Council and so on’ Of course, ‘protect our countryside’ sounds so much prettier that ‘protect our grants’. 

Chapter 2 also recalls ‘how this indirect technique had been used in respect of a major transfer of power to Brussels in 2007‘. Thus, ‘when France and the Netherlands had voted ‘No’ in 2005, the document in question was renamed the Lisbon Treaty and put through without referenda (except in Ireland which voted ‘No’ and was made to vote again’. At that point, ‘Labour ministers felt vulnerable to the accusation that they had weaselled out of their referendum promise and wanted to make the treaty more palatable’. To this end, ‘they invoked supposedly neutral third-party endorsements’. Thus, ‘in 2007, the then foreign secretary David Miliband, made a great song and dance in the House of Commons’ that ‘it wasn’t just Labour Europhiles who backed the text’; that ‘a whole range of NGOs were also in favour of it’. Thus, he cited ‘the NSPCC, One World Action, Action Aid and Oxfam, Environmental organisations and the council of bishops, and claimed that this was a coalition, not of ideology, but of integrity’, whereas, ‘a few moments on Goggle revealed that every organisation thus cited was in receipt of EU subventions and most of them received government grants’. Daniel Hannan then asked the European Commission how much money it had paid these organisations and discovered that ‘in the previous year, Action Aid, the NSPCC, One World Action and Oxfam had between them been given 43,051,542.95 euros’; and that ‘while the commission of bishops was a little harder to identify, it turned out to be the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community(COMECE) based in Brussels, with the remit ‘to promote reflections based on the Catholic Church’s social teaching on the challenges facing a united Europe’. As to other disbursements, Chapter 2 tells us that ‘other organisations supported by the EU would be in the forefront of the UK’s ‘Remain’ campaign’ that ‘the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which has become essentially a pro-EU pressure group, had received 936,272 euros’; that again, ‘UK Universities, which campaign strenuously for the EU, frankly admit that ‘EU funding is too important to be sacrificed’; and that ‘one can almost see the point when one sees that in 2008, British universities had received 889, 889,754 (?) euros from Brussels’.

Again, Chapter 2 tells us that ‘all of this university support is deducted from Britain’s contribution to the EU’; that ‘if Britain withdrew from the EU, it could make an equivalent or larger payment directly, rather than routing it through Brussels’. Yet again, Chapter 2 reveals that ‘an official working for an EU institution is exempt from national taxation, paying instead a token rate of EU tax equivalent to around 21%, flat’; that ‘some states recoup the difference from their MEP while some don’t’; and that ‘the bureaucrats in the Commission and the Parliament make decisions which have fiscal consequences for ordinary people, while they themselves are exempt form these consequences’.

In Chapter 3, Why the EU can’t be democratic, Daniel Hannan reports that ‘in 1951 six men gathered to sign an accord unlike any other’; that ‘the Treaty of Paris which created the European Coal and Steel Community – the ancestor of to-day’s EU – would not just bind its members as states’; that ‘it would create a new legal order, superior to national jurisdictions’; that the six men were the foreign ministers of the founding EEC members: viz. Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Italy and West Germany’; that ‘this was the first treaty to which West Germany, recently under allied occupation, had acceded to in her own name, and her Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer was there, acting as his own foreign minister’; but that ‘when the time came for the formal signing, a problem arose’; that ‘last-minute negotiations and amendments left no time for a final ministerial text to be prepared’ and that ‘it was left to their officials to fill in the articles’. ‘As one historian of the EU puts it; “the spirit of the accord stood surety for the letter”’. Thus, ‘we see what has been wrong with the European project from the beginning. The politicians have left the bureaucrats, figuratively if not literally, a series of blank sheets, and the bureaucrats have filled in the blanks to suit themselves’ even if this means ‘setting aside public opinion and the clear instructions of the member states, in advancing the agenda of “more Europe”’

To exemplify further the bureaucratic fluidity of the EU, Chapter 3 notes that ‘while bailouts were patently illegal by being expressly prohibited. Indeed the Germans only agreed to join the euro on this explicit prohibition’. Yet, when it became clear that ‘the euro wouldn’t survive without cash transfusions, the Lisbon Treaty was set aside, though it was explicit; no bailouts’. Again, ‘to illustrate the lack of adherence to law and the disregard for democracy’, Chapter 3 records ‘the EU’s bureaucratic disregard for referendum results’. Thus, ‘when national referendums return a ‘No’ vote this is either ignored or the nation is made to vote again, regardless of the size of the majority, only ‘Yes’ votes being accepted’. Again, Chapter 3 notes that ‘the EU is run by a body which combines legislative and executive authority’; that ‘the 28 commissioners are unelected’; that ‘this is not an accidental design-flaw’; that ‘it is intrinsic to the whole project’; that ‘from the beginning the EU was built on undemocratic foundations’; that public opinion was regarded as an obstacle to be overcome and not as a reason to change direction’. However, I choose not to comment further on Chapter 3 which proceeds to expound the alleged benefits of what I know to be merely belief/counter-belief democracy and within which I am campaigning to replace all such belief with already available knowledge or at least with recognition of such knowledge being as yet unavailable and thus in need of being acquired before policy is made. 

Thus, I pass on to Chapter 4, Euro-Corporatism, and its ability to attract funding from the EU in exchange for its support of the ensuing EU policies. This chapter draws attention to the role of lobbyists in this regard. It notes that ‘there are some 25,000 lobbyists in Brussels, some in-house, some working for several clients, some representing pressure groups or regions, most representing big business’; that ‘corporate lobbyists intuit from the moment that they arrive in Brussels, that the EU was designed by and for people like them’; and that by way of example, Daniel Hannan supplies a tabulation which shows for the first half of 2015 that ‘Microsoft, Shell Companies, and Exxon Mobile Petroleum and Chemical each received 2.5 million euros’; that ‘Deutche Bank AG received 2.962 million’; that ‘Dow Europe GmbH received 3.750 million, Google 3.5 million, General Electric 3.25 million, Siemans AG 3.23 million, Huawei Technologies 3.0 million and BP 2.5 million’; that ‘what all of these lobbies have in common whether industrial or environmental, is a preference for backroom deals’; that ‘the EU has a special name for the procedure by which it makes law: “cosmetology”’; that ‘committees and (so-called) technical experts meet and make trade-offs out of the public eye’; that ‘such a system is an invitation to lobbyists and pressure groups to reach arrangements behind closed doors that might not look very pretty if the details were known to the public’.

At this point, I would say that these trade-offs were inevitably of the belief/counter-belief type; that the public would not be aware of the inevitable absence of conclusive knowledge in these trade-offs; and that this general inability to differentiate belief from knowledge as exhibited by the public and indeed by Daniel Hannan is more than adequate to obscure any lack of prettiness in such trade-offs. 26/02/21.

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