46: Yet Further To The Re-Casting Of Brexit As Knowledge-Only Policy.
Chapter 4, Euro-Corporatism, of Daniel Hannan’s book, notes that the back-room deals which the EU makes with Big Business are exemplified by its efforts from 2005 to regulate and in some cases to ban, a number of higher-dose vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal remedies and other alternative medicines to which some twenty million citizens around the EU were having frequent or occasional recourse, there was no evidence of them deleterious to health’; that ‘opinion was divided as to their efficacy’; and that he and his wife differed in this regard’ However, while I interject that this topic is a matter of belief/counter-belief than one of scientific cause-effect knowledge, this differentiation does not in detract from Daniel Hannan’s argument, in that it is never ever cited as the means of concluding any argument. Instead, he expresses puzzlement as to why ‘the EU would want to ban or restrict substances which were at best health-giving or at worst harmless, while their banning was alienating health-shop owners and their customers all over Europe’; that ‘the EU cited ‘the precautionary principle’; but that there ought to be such a thing as the presumption of innocence in commerce as in criminal justice’; that ‘no herbalist sets out to poison clients, such an intention being a poor business model’. However, his puzzlement was abated by his recognition that ‘in the Eurocrat-view “unregulated” is synonymous with “illegal”; that the absence of regulation might be the natural state of affairs, yet it finds no sympathy in the EU’; that ‘British herbalists had been self-regulating since Henry VIII gave them freedom to trade without being prosecuted for witchcraft’; and that ‘in Brussels this ancient liberty, was a loop-hole in need of closing’.
Thus, Chapter 4 goes on to state that ‘some of the larger pharmaceutical companies, well understanding the Eurocrat-mindset, saw this as an opportunity to put their smaller rivals out of business’; that ‘the new legislation required expensive tests which were beyond the means of small producers’; that ‘the big companies were able to meet the new costs without difficulty’; that ‘as independent herbalists reduced the range of what they could sell and in some cases went out of business altogether, the giants assumed a larger market-share’; and that ‘while the multi-nationals did well out of the new arrangements, the consumers did badly’; but that ‘the European economy as a whole suffered too’; that ‘whenever a cartel of large companies succeeds in raising barriers to entry, the general climate becomes less congenial to start-ups, and some entrepreneurs take their energy elsewhere’; that ‘while lobbying is not unique to Brussels, it is worthwhile asking whether legislation of this kind would have passed through the (then) twenty-five national legislatures’; that Daniel Hannan ‘doubts it’; that ‘across Europe MPs were deluged , just as he was, with letters from the users of alternative medicines who feared that the new restrictions would damage their health’; but that ‘the decision was not in the hands of national legislators: it was made by the non-elected Commission and approved by the European Parliament – whose members are remote to the point of near-invisibility’. Indeed, Chapter 4 recognizes that ‘one of the reasons why the European continent is stagnating and its share of world trade is deceasing, while all other economies are growing, is that cronyism and protectionism flourish in the necessarily undemocratic institutions of the EU’; that ‘on the basis of the Robinson/Acemoglu differentiation of extractive/inclusive states, the EU is an extractive institution, designed by those who distrust democracies and which lobbies to keep things as they are’; that this system is a paradise for vested interests’; that ‘vested interests do not like (competitive) innovation’; and that nation states are inclusive and have individual judiciaries’, At this point, I would add that extractive systems are incompatible with inclusive systems; and that nation state interests are incompatible with membership of the EU.
Chapter 4 concludes that ‘the sheer diversity of conditions and needs across the EU guarantees that overall regulation has unintended consequences’; that ‘(individual) economies always suffer when a cartel reaches a deal with (supra-national) officials’; but that ‘those who suffer most are those whose standards or products diverge most from those of the cartel’; that the more inclusive and pluralist an economy is, the more losers there will be when (overall) regulations are passed’. Again, Daniel Hannan takes one example to illustrate this phenomenon. When he was writing his book, the EU was drawing up a directive which directly threatened the viability of Britain’s commercial ports, which are private, profitable and plentiful, and which tend to be smaller than those on the Continent and more numerous around our coasts, and which don’t rely on state aid, generate a healthy surplus for the Treasury, and sustain some hundred thousand jobs, while those on the other side of the Channel tend to be sparser and larger and are generally state-owned or dependent on grants, and are less likely to compete with one another’. Nonetheless, the European Commission has moved a regulation which would require them to introduce a measure of internal competition by requiring them to contract out their mooring , dredging, unloading, bunkering and so on to rival providers, while the regulation itself also provides for the formal establishment of (over-seeing) regulatory bodies’.
Chapter 5, Britain’s Lack of Influence, opens with a reference to the tendency of EU supporters to say, when confronted with some indefensible Brussels policy: ‘well, that’s something we ought to reform, rather than just walk away.” it then shows that ‘the story of the United Kingdom’s involvement with the EEC, then with the EC and later with the EU, is one of failed UK attempts at such reform’; that ‘you won’t find many British politicians over the past fifty years, from any party, who openly favoured a United States of Europe’. Almost all said that ‘they wanted a Europe of nations – a flexible alliance of states cooperating to achieve what they can’t achieve singly, but ultimately being responsible to their own democratic institutions’; that ‘if that model had ever been on offer, there would have been no argument’; and that ‘we would never have needed a referendum’; that ‘you would have had to be rather eccentric to object, in principle, to participating in a regional club committed to the promotion of trade and intergovernmental collaboration’ and that ‘the problem has always been that while British politicians and writers have fantasized about a Europe of nations, the EU has steadily been moving towards a political union of nations’. Chapter 5 then recalls that ‘the EEC which Britain joined in 1973 has since extended its jurisdiction progressively to foreign policy, environmental regulation, immigration, criminal justice and social policy’; that ‘it has acquired, one by one, the powers of statehood, from uniformed armed forces to a standardized driving-licence’; that ‘it now aspires to a common tax and social security system, a federal police force and as army’; and that ‘all the while successive British leaders have been singing the same song about a Europe of nations’. Chapter 5 then describes ‘the sequence of events which successive leaders of all political parties have condoned to the detriment of the UK’s interests’; and which I don’t have space to reproduce here, but which I commend to my readers who now have the advantage of being able to differentiate belief from knowledge whereas Daniel Hannan attributes ‘our EU incompatibility to our twin concepts of common law and parliamentary supremacy’ without any reference to my more recent knowledge/belief differentiation.
In Chapter 6, Sovereignty of the People, Daniel Hannan recognizes that ‘the European Parliament is subordinate to the supremacy of the EU’s written constitution’; that ‘this relationship reflects that of the relationship of its national parliaments to their individually written constitutions’; that in contrast, ‘the UK constitution is subordinate to the UK Parliament’; that consequently ‘the European Parliament is a relatively weak body which cannot, except in very special circumstances, propose laws’; that ‘its role is to amend legislation put before it by the non-elected European Commission’; that ‘MEPs welcome consensus and like to bring as many parties as possible into their majority coalitions’; that politics happens in committees, not on the floor of the chamber’; that ‘speeches to plenary sessions are necessarily perfunctory affairs since most speakers get no more than two or three minutes to make them’; that ‘the EU’s constitution was drafted in 2004 and put to member states for ratification in the form of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe’; that ‘when this treaty was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005, Eurocrats decided to keep the contents but change the name, because a new name was politically necessary to allow national governments, including Britain’s, to wiggle out of their promises to hold a referendum on the text’; that ‘as the author of the European Constitution Valery Giscard d’Estaing frankly admitted: the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty are in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order’. Thus, chapter 6 records that ‘the EU has a written constitution’; that ‘Eurocrats like to describe themselves as guardians of the treaties’; that ‘these treaties are interpreted by the European Supreme Court just as formerly in twenty-seven of the twenty-eight states their national constitutions were interpreted by their respective national supreme courts; that ‘curiously, the EU’s Supreme Court is called the European Court of Justice (ECJ) though it functions as a constitutional rather than a criminal court’; but that the UK has never formerly had a supreme court’; and that formerly our parliament was the supreme law-giver and our courts applied the law to particular cases.
At this point, I record that Chapters 7 to 10 inclusive are entitled Europe – Country, Fried Air, What is the Alternative? and Better Off Out. In addition there is a Conclusion entitled Two Roads Diverged. Chapter 7 considers the extent to which the EU has succeeded in acquiring the attributes and functions of a State, Chapter 8 considers that Britain has achieved nothing (fried air) in achieving a Europe of Nations, Chapter 9 opts for the Nation we have been and could be again, and Chapter 10 argues that import costs would be reduced and our export prices would become consistent with the growing economies of the world, were we to leave, while the Conclusion demonstrates that remaining would not permit us to stay where we are; that we would remain on a conveyor-belt to where we ought not to want to go. In conclusion, I say that this book, in spite of itself, demonstrates that Brexit is a knowledge-only policy. 2/3/21.