Features

The crucial missing part of Cameron's EU deal

Without proper control of our laws, the rest matters much less

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

Last week Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, tabled proposals which the government hopes will form the basis of the UK’s renegotiated relationship with the European Union. Politically, the proposals may be just the job: a new commitment to enhance competitiveness, proposals to limit benefits to migrants, recognition that member states’ different aspirations for further integration must be respected, and creation of a ‘red card’ mechanism to block EU legislation. Legally, however, they raise more questions than they answer.

This ought to have been an opportunity to look at the Court of Justice of the European Union, whose reach has extended to a point where the status quo is untenable. Aside from eroding national sovereignty (which it does) the current situation also undermines legal certainty — which, in turn, undermines good governance. Proper reform needs to address the EU legal order, in particular the jurisdictional muscle-flexing of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The new proposals do not do this. Instead, they duck the issue entirely — clearing the way for a whole new body of EU rights law.

The problem lies in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was solemnly proclaimed in 2000. It described 50 new ‘rights, freedoms and principles’ in addition to the 20-odd rights in the European Convention of Human Rights. So the Charter was a far more sweeping document. In 2007 it was given legal force by the Lisbon Treaty. At the time, it was loudly proclaimed that this would change nothing: that it just underlined what was anyway the case. Smelling a rat, the Labour government asked for — and was given — an assurance in writing that Britain would not be affected by the Charter. It was called ‘Protocol 30’.

Before the ink had dried on Protocol 30, concerns were voiced about its precise meaning and effect. Tony Blair assured the Commons that there was nothing to worry about: ‘It is absolutely clear that we have an opt-out from both the Charter and judicial and home affairs.’ David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary, also assured us that the Charter would not ‘extend the reach of European courts into British law’. Four years later, the coalition government was giving similar assurances: in March 2011 Ken Clarke, then Justice Secretary, said that the Charter was of more presentational importance and did ‘not actually change anything’.

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In English courts, however, another picture has been emerging. Take the case of ‘NS’, an Afghan asylum seeker who arrived in the UK seven years ago. Given that he had come via Greece, where he had been arrested, the UK sought to return him there under the Dublin Convention. But he argued that the treatment of asylum seekers in Greece amounted to ‘degrading’ treatment, contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. He also sought to invoke the Charter of Fundamental Rights — which, according to Messrs Blair, Miliband and Clarke, should have been legally impossible.

This was referred to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg which ruled (in effect, and after some domestic backsliding) that the British opt-out had no legal force and the Charter of Fundamental Rights applied in the UK in precisely the same way as in any other member state. Since then, the English courts have increasingly been urged to recognise and give effect to new Charter-based rights in areas of law as diverse as employment disputes, immigration and asylum claims.

So where are we now? Mr Justice Mostyn has put it well. In 1998, the Human Rights Act incorporated large parts of the European Convention on Human Rights — but not all of it. Some parts were deliberately missed out by Parliament. Yet the Charter, he said, ‘contains all of those missing parts — and a great deal more’. In spite of Blair’s endeavours, he said, ‘it would seem that the much wider Charter of Rights is now part of our domestic law’. Moreover, he said, it ‘would remain part of our domestic law even if the Human Rights Act were repealed’.

Which raises an interesting question. The Tusk proposals suggest that the government does not intend to use this ‘renegotiation’ to reassert any form of Charter opt-out or control over its scope. So why repeal the Human Rights Act while the Charter, with its far wider panoply of rights, remains?

As David Anderson QC and Dr Cian Murphy have argued, the Charter — as it now stands — requires ‘enormous faith to be placed in the Court of Justice, its ultimate arbiter’. My current view is that a court which has been known in cases of vital importance to ignore its own rulings (viz, the infamous Digital Rights Ireland case), and give no reasoned explanation for doing so, is acting capriciously rather than judiciously. It does not inspire much faith.

Now, when Britain is debating its relationship to the EU, we should state our position afresh. Here is an opportunity to restore a measure of constitutional coherence. Let us not pass it by.

Marina Wheeler is a human rights lawyer practising at One Crown Office Row. She was called to the bar in 1987 and took silk last month. A longer version of this article can be found on ukhumanrightsblog.com. Marina Wheeler is a human rights lawyer practising at One Crown Office Row. She was called to the bar in 1987 and took silk last month.

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Show comments
  • eat your greens

    Who currently does not have control over these laws. You? Me? Some shopkeeper’s daughter? The Monarch? Will anyone tell us, because I still do not understand for whom it is precisely that you are making this case for ‘better control’ and ‘more sovereignty’.

    • Brian Jones

      You answered your own question. Me , You and the shopkeeper’s daughter , represented by parliament are the only legitimate people to hold sovereignty over the British people not a motley collection of unelected political appointees in Brussels.

      • Mary Ann

        Junker was appointed by the biggest group in the European parliament, that was democratic.

        • John Hawkins Totnes

          If you believe that process was democratic you are a very silly little girl.

          • Mary Ann

            If you believe it wasn’t then you are the one who was silly, and if Cameron had left the Tories in the most successful group he could have stopped it, he shouldn’t have sidelined himself, just as the leavers want to sideline us as well. Short sighted.

          • WTF

            Did you get a voting slip for the President of the EU ? No, neither did I !

        • Bonkim

          That was a laugh. Eu Parliament means little to most of us.

        • WTF

          OK, you want a USE so in that case all the peoples of the EU should be able to vote for the President of the EU just like Americans will this November for their new President.

          FACT: Juncker is NOT democratically elected by the electorate of Europe.

  • Mary Ann

    If we had heartily embraced the EU when we first joined we would now be ruling it with Germany, more fool us.

    • Domac

      When Britain first applied to join The Common Market it was vetoed by France.

    • Jingleballix

      ………..so you quite like a bit of despotism do you?

      Everything the EU stands for – and does – is profoundly anti-democratic, dishonest, corrupt and incompetent.

      I hate it more than I hate Come Dancing.

      • Mary Ann

        I liked Come Dancing as well. And it is not anti-democratic either, Junker was chosen by the largest group in the EU Parliament which is democratically elected, and Cameron choose to take the Tories out of that group so he had no say about Junker, and he was democratically elected as well. Why do you think he had that particular temper tantrum.

        • PaD

          And we’d be going halves with germany on immigration
          ..wake up and stop thinking like an idiot

          • WTF

            Excellent point

        • WTF

          Presidents in America are chosen by the people not some corrupt committee !

    • Tom Cullem

      The EU was formed as a Franco-German project; it was fully expected that France would be leading it, that was de Gaulle’s assumption. If they’d had the least assumption that the UK would be leading it, which was never a remote possibility given the UK’s status as an island and its identity and history as not really quite part of Europe, the French would have balked and the EU never would have gotten off the ground. We were never going to lead it and we aren’t going to lead it now. Get over that.

      • Laura Bailhache

        And this is why French politicians are now openly backing Brexit in Brussels

  • ReturnOfTheWazz

    IN for the win, folks…

    • Brian Jones

      We don’t want slogans we want facts and the fact is our control over our own destiny has been taken away from us and this is probably our last chance to get it back and become once again Great Britain rather than a subsidiary division of the United States of Europe.

      • ReturnOfTheWazz

        FACT – The EU has created and maintained millions of jobs (13.3% of the UK workforce, in fact).
        FACT – We gain far more in trade than we spend on it (£400bn per year in terms of trade, compared to £12bn net per year spent on membership).
        FACT – Being part of the EU enables us to travel freely in most places.
        FACT – We have global political and economic influence, partly because of the EU (we are, by virtue of our EU membership, the world’s 6th largest economy – without membership, goodness only knows…).

        So, like I say, IN for the win…

        • Callan

          We couldn’t travel freely with a British passport before we entered the EU?
          We didn’t have global, political and economic influence before the EU?
          Well I never.
          We did however have the right to decide on who came to live here and which foreign criminals had forfeited the right to live here.

          • Mary Ann

            We couldn’t just settle in any European country and get a job and state health care without the EU. Millions of British people have taken advantage of it.

          • Callan

            There is an influx of foreigners claiming state health care in the UK but “Millions of British people have state health care in the EU”? Really? The source of those figures are?

          • Mary Ann

            The 2 Million Britons living in Europe, because they are EU citizens get access to the same state health care as the locals, just as it is in Britain, it is part of the rules.

          • Callan

            So your grandiose assertion of “millions of British people taking advantage of state health care in the EU” is not based on official figures just a naïve belief “it is part of the rules”. I bet you also believe that Cameron has secured a good deal for the UK by his preposterous grovelling around Europe of late. And that pigs fly.

          • WTF

            Its wishful thinking on her part.

          • Mary Ann

            It isn’t, you shouldn’t believe the lies you read in the anti EU press. Everyone I know who has applied to go into the French system has succeeded. The only people I know who are not in the system are people who are fiddling the income tax, i.e. don’t want the French government to know they are there. They go back to England for their health care, don’t know what happens if they have a nasty accident. I expect they will have to pay, more fool them. Mind you, anyone who doesn’t fill in a tax return has got to be a gambler.

          • WTF

            As I said, I have lived in Spain for 11 years as a proper resident, owning a villa, paying taxes, using the health system and hospital etc so I feel far better qualified to talk about living in the EU first hand than making anecdotal comments like my friends say its great in France.

            Of course everyone who applies to be a resident in France, Spain or where ever will succeed, if you meet their criteria you’ll be admitted to their system and Brits did that years ago in Spain long before the EU.

            As I said earlier, the black economy is not a real problem for these countries as people working on the black don’t/can’t claim health care. In fact unless you lived and worked in a EU countries system and made ‘NI’ type contributions, you will get NOTHING from them, ONLY the UK gives out free health care to black economy workers and illegal immigrants.

            Still waiting to see what the real advantages you claim exists of being in the EU are as so far you haven’t spelled them out. As for the anti-EU press, is it not a fact we don’t check for medical cover in the UK like Spain does.

            If you turn up at A&E in Spain without a residents health card, photo ID or a EU emergency treatment card its “¿Puedo tener su tarjeta de crédito” or you don’t get treated.

          • MikePage

            Oh blimey you’re French. I live near Dover. We are sworn enemies. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You could give up revolting.

          • Mary Ann

            I think Cameron has made a fool of himself over his negoiations if he had just called a referendum as soon as he was re-elected he would have won it easily. And of course if we stop paying benefits to in work migrants it is going to make it more difficult for British people to claim benefits in Europe. It was a Tory who said, get on your bike, now the Tories are making it more difficult.

          • WTF

            Its likely he might have won but he’s a coward and he who hesitates is
            lost.

          • WTF

            NOT TRUE, do you truly know what the rules are as I do and even what the demographics of ex-pats are.

            You have the figure right but that’s all. Government figures show that 1 million live in Spain which is hardly surprising for climate & cost reasons however the figures suggest that 400,000 are unregistered in the EU and I would suggest that at least 30% of Brits living in Spain are unregistered. Based on friends I had in Spain for 10 years that is born out. Of the registered UK Spanish residents, by far the majority are pensioners on UK state pensions with UK paid for Spanish health care like I had. A far fewer number of pre pensioners actually pay into the Spanish health care system to receive the same care. Then we have a good chunk of ex-pats who are technically still UK residents despite living in Spain for 10 months of the year.

            My point being that as a member of the club, Spain gives Brits no special treatment just because we are in the EU and any benefits are marginal at best.

            Here’s some real facts to help you.

            https://fullfact.org/immigration/whos-claiming-more-benefits-britons-spain-or-eu-nationals-here/

          • Mary Ann

            Of the British emigrants I know living in France nearly everyone is in the system, the only ones I know who aren’t in the system have never registered because they don’t want to pay income tax. Although I do know one person who is in the system and has managed not to do a tax return, now he is complaining he won’t get a pension.

          • WTF

            I would suggest that 95% of those people in the system legally are by default ex-pat pensioners and therefore the UK pays for their health just like they did for me in Spain. Point being, that isn’t a plus point for being in the EU which was the bland statement you made.

            As for those working on the black in Spain, France or anywhere in the EU, they avoid tax BUT they don’t get any health care either. Now if that was true of EU people in the UK I wouldn’t mind but as you should readily admit, we still don’t check for health care rights in the UK like the Spanish do for example.

            Overall, there’s nothing you’ve said here that shows a benefit to the UK for being part of the UK, there’s is reciprocal health care cross charging but the UK loses out overall.

          • Mary Ann

            I checked your ‘full facts’, not impressed, I prefer to believe the European Commission and my friends who are in the system.

          • WTF

            What facts, you haven’t offered any financial facts to substantiate anything. Your friends are probably all pensioners so they wouldn’t get anything from the French, Spanish system just as I didn’t. I had reciprocal health care paid for by the UK to Spain (NOT the EU), so where is the real benefit ?

            I would ask again, what is it you believe from your friends or the European commission that makes it beneficial for the UK or ex-pats. For example, do they get food vouchers, subsidized housing, child allowances, a French winter fuels allowance now the UK one has stopped, child allowance, you know, all those sorts of benefits people can get in the UK.

            Saying I believe my friends and the EU commission doesn’t cut it if you can’t provide ANY solid examples as I might as well say the moon is made of green cheese !!!!

            It sounds to me that what you’re hearing from your friends (not you personally unlike myself) is that its great living in France (like Spain) with cheap wine, great French cheeses and if in the south, a nice climate which I wouldn’t disagree with but if that’s the case, whats has that to do with the EU ?

          • MikePage

            And there’s the whole problem in a sentence.

          • Tom Cullem

            A good many of the Britons living in Europe are retirees with pensions that they are pumping into those countries’ economies. Spain is only too delighted to have them. They do not have millions of children that are placing huge pressures on primary schools, requiring extra education costs in language services, housing, and on those health care systems.

          • Laura Bailhache

            E111 anyone?

          • WTF

            I don’t think she’s ever been abroad let alone lived in Europe as she’s clueless on her ‘facts’.

          • WTF

            Yes you could settle before the EU what on earth are you rambling on about. Many ex-pats went to Spain during Francos time to retire and others moved there to work. State health care in all EU countries requires you to (a) contribute locally or (b) be retired and have the UK contribute to that countries health care system so you could benefit. Millions of ex-pats generally retire to places like France, Spain, Italy and have done for decades, far less go to work due to unemployment levels and language issues.

            Being part of the EU did NOT give you any special privileges as a Brit for example living in Spain, I should know as I did it for 10 years. Additionally, areas where the EU should have addressed anomalies like civil rights, common law have been completely ignored.

            If you have an issue with the local town hall in Europe, best of luck as UK rules don’t apply, EU rules don’t exist and you’re at the mercy of petty corrupt bureaucracy.

            Have you ever walked the walk or is your information hearsay ?

          • Mary Ann

            Without the EU they would have to pay the full cost of private health insurance we get our entitlement to state health care in Europe because we are members of the EU. Private health care for olds is very expensive and the British state pension is supposed to be lower than most European pensions,(that is something I read). The pensioners I know living in France are saying that if Britain leaves the EU they will have to go to Britain because they won’t be able to afford private health insurance if they get cut off. I have a couple of friends who don’t think they will even be able to get private insurance because they both have multiple health problems. And French health care does appear to be better than the NHS although overall it costs about 50% more. And yes, if Britain leaves the EU and we lose our health care, we will be coming back as well. God spare the NHS.

          • WTF

            Have you never heard of bi-lateral agreements, we’ve had bi-lateral tax arrangements with Spain for decades as well as other countries. There is NO reason why that wouldn’t continue for health care.

            Consider this, the Spanish health system certainly along the Costa’s where I lived is geared up for 20%-25% Brits of whom the majority are retired so the UK government is funding an awful lot of money into their regions. If they turned the tap off, thousands of Spanish health workers would lose their jobs, hospitals would be under used and their whole new health care system would be put in jeopardy. My local hospital was only 5 years old, state of the art and was excellent for the 5 days I was in there last year.

            Do you really think the Spanish and British governments would cancel this arrangement if the UK left the EU. It would cost both countries dear with each of their health systems. Your doing that fear mongering trick without looking at the fiscal and sensible approach that would be taken. Try and concentrate on what the reality is rather than Cameron style scare tactics.

          • MikePage

            “We couldn’t just settle in any European country and get a job”

            The state Europe’s in?

          • Laura Bailhache

            Oh yes we could. My aunt left Britain in 1971 – before we joined the EEC – met and married an Italian in Tehran and settled in Tuscany. She’s been there now for 45 years. You are talking pure BS.

          • WTF

            I’m late joining here but its hilarious seeing posts like this its almost as though these people were only born 20 years ago unlike many of us who traveled the world long before the EU.

        • Hugh1

          FACT – None of your facts are facts.

        • Mary Ann

          Nice to see a sensible comment in the speccy for a change.

          • WTF

            An opinion not based on facts.

        • q0paz

          Total twaddle. Loser.

          • Mary Ann

            Ah, another insult from someone who doesn’t have a rational answer.

          • WTF

            Not really, there’s few facts and they’re wrong anyway !

          • ReturnOfTheWazz

            Oh m8…

        • PaD

          You omitted Cologne.

        • WTF

          Fact: Most of those jobs are from EU migrants whilst we’re paying for our own unemployed.

          Fact: We import more from Europe that we export to Europe. Here are the ONS figures for ALL trade to get a proper perspective.

          http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/international-transactions/outward-foreign-affiliates-statistics/how-important-is-the-european-union-to-uk-trade-and-investment-/sty-eu.html

          Fact: Many of us have been traveling all over the EU and the world since before EU, Schengen. In what way has it changed ?

          Last fact: all fluff and no substance, where are the facts ?

          Hardly a ringing endorsement for IN !

        • Tom Cullem

          FACT – the free movement of peoples has resulted in a huge influx of cheaper labour into the UK that has destroyed the baseline wage structures of those in the host population at the low end of the scale.

          FACT – immigrant and migrant economies, both legal and illegal, work for those at the top and not at the bottom, and relieve national governments of incentive to invest in their educational systems to produce efficient competitive workers, because it’s cheaper and easier to bring in said immigrant and migrant labour.

          FACT – huge bureaucracies are less accountable than local governments. When TTIP goes through, as it inevitably will, local control of anything meaningful in the way of labour and environmental regulations, will disappear if they interfere with corporate profits.

          FACT – because of the EU’s massive failures re the migrant crisis, despite knowing since 2013 that it was shaping up, the free movement of peoples is going to end, because IS and Al-Nusra have already sent thousands of operatives into Europe embedded with the “refugees”, assisted mightily by the brisk business of organised crime in Greece, Turkey, and Italy in high quality forged passports and ID papers. On the basis of security alone, never mind the increasing anger of electorates throughout Europe, Schengen is going to have to be suspended and borders and border controls reinstated. EU politicians cannot risk a few more successful Paris-style attacks. So you can wave farewell to that. As it is, the Sweden Democrats, the FN, Geert Wilders, and the AfD are doing well out of all this.

          FACT – Britain produced great scientists, universities, art, literature, culture, progress toward labour rights and emancipation long before the EU existed. I wonder how?

      • Mary Ann

        The United States of Europe would be good.

        • John Hawkins Totnes

          Silly little girl.

          • Mary Ann

            You don’t have a rational answer so you insult instead.

          • PaD

            Your eu would be good is the insult

          • WTF

            If you wish to claim something is good at least back it up with what benefits it will bring. Usually when you try to sell the benefits of anything you say why. Clearly you’ve never worked in sales or marketing !

        • WTF

          Why ?

        • Tom Cullem

          Yes, let’s by all means create another huge, unaccountable bureaucratic government responsive first and foremost, increasingly, to global corporate interests with more money and power than any international entities in human history have ever controlled, that will erode until eliminated grass roots and local control of anything. Brilliant!

          • berosos_bubos

            Blatter on steroids.

    • MikePage

      Oooops! Now we know you’re a millennial.

  • Lindsay Jenkins

    Marina Warner points towards the key problem but does not tackle it head on. The European Court of Justice is the heart of the EU. With the preamble in the treaty of Rome of ever closer union, it is without doubt a political court designed to create a United States of Europe, one country. That has been the situation since 1957. The effect of ECJ judgements is a ratchet movement towards that one state.

    Unless and until we leave the EU, our law is subservient to EU law and we cannot govern ourselves. Cameron is clearly not willing to face up to this, assuming he even understands it. So who will?

    • Callan

      I don’t know. Enoch Powell warned about this when Heath was on his headlong pursuit to incarcerate us in what became the EUSSR. There is no politician amongst the pygmies ruling us today with his intellect, patriotism and gravitas so Mr. Powell’s stated belief that Parliament would not allow itself to be subsumed by Europe is one of the few things he was wrong about. Parliament has and will continue to do so.

      • Tom Cullem

        A much misunderstood man and one with great integrity, very much of his time who used poor language, also of his time, to express something that has, in fact, turned out to be prescient.

        • cdvision

          Powell did not use poor language – he could never be accused of that in any of several languages, both ancient and modern.

          Many people were too thick to understand the message; some, the real traitors, sought to distort it.

        • berosos_bubos

          He was passing on the comments of his constituents.

    • Mary Ann

      Nothing wrong with a USE, in fact it sounds like a sensible idea, pity we are not likely to be part of it.

      • q0paz

        It sounds like a sensible idea to anyone who has no grasp of the importance of individual liberty. Clearly you are tone deaf.

      • 9sqn

        So which particular group of bureaucrats would you like to see in power over the EU’s 26 countries ? Will they be elected or appointed, as they are now ? Will we have an election every 5 years or will that be for them to decide. PR or FPTP ? Any particular nationality .. or just to ensure there is no (visible) bias will they be faceless none-entities, as they are now. Same laws in every country .. and tax rates ? Will there be a pan EU nhs ? Have you actually given this any thought … don’t answer that.

      • clareswift

        Nothing wrong with a USE – have you read the papers lately – any papers at all? The Euro is not stable, with exception UK, the rest of EU has on average 10% unemployment, low or zero growth. Germany’s main Bank Deutsche is in serious trouble. Why? Because the markets know that economically they are shrinking, over burden with red tape and heavily invested in China’s property market which has collapsed. You seriously want to be lashed to a ship that is sinking…fast???

      • WTF

        Sensible in what manner ?

      • WTF

        I don’t know how old you are but you have an uncanny similarity to university kids in the most prestigious of Universities in America and being completely out of touch with reality.

        These kids (22-25 years old) are rooting for Bernie Saunders because he offers free education but when asked how it will be funded, they are completely stumped. When asked about geography they are clueless where countries are and one even had Abe Lincoln marked down as a racist. My point being, just like you, they are very self opinionated on the headline quote but when asked the hows or whys over serious matters, its sad to watch them as they either fumble about, can’t get a word out or just repeat the headline.

        So what benefits would a USE bring the UK ?

        Would you model it on the US version, would each country be able to pass many of its own laws like states in America, would we disband our national military forces and create a Euroforce, would we make the legal system the same across Europe as it is in the US, there’s tax harmonization to consider, do we force those outside of the Eurozone to join, can we purchase any goods or services from anywhere across the EU, how will a common health care system be set up as they are different right now. Most important of all, how much would it cost every country !

        There are 101 issues that would need to be addressed to implement your sensible idea, some may be beneficial and some may not be but to claim it sounds like a sensible idea is vacuous at best and reckless at worst without doing any homework.

  • VOTE4EU

    The only important thing to understand is to stay in the EU….. The uneducated Ukip voters should really start understanding if we leave our economy will suffer….

    • GB

      How well educated you must be!

    • clareswift

      How, exactly? It costs UK 35 million a day to do what Singapore, Mexico & even Turkey does for free which is trade. Reason being, the EU is not about trade its a political union. Our laws made by a commission that’s appointed NOT elected. There is an EU parliament but all they can do is suggest amendments -which means we have not been so undemocratically ruled since Charles I was on the throne. EU membership has cost approx 115,000 fishing jobs, thousands of small businesses. Our security comes from NATO, Science funding comes for European Science which funds 13 non EU countries. Norway & Switzerland (not in EU) have higher foreign investment than we do. Fact There is not a single good reason for us to stay in EU

      • 9sqn

        Well said Clare. But I get the feeling any attempts to educate’ a chap who demonstrates such crass arrogance are somewhat wasted.

      • john gamble

        It doesn’t cost £35m a day. That’s typical UKIP dishonest propaganda which they frequently repeat.
        HM Treasury and the OBR (on the government website) indicate that the average annual NET cost over the period 2009 to 2020 (actuals and forecasts) is £8.7bn (Gross contribution: £17.6bn, less rebate £4.4bn, less public sector grants £4.5bn = £8.7bn BEFORE reseach funding which is usually > £1bn pa and of which the UK is the largest EU beneficiary)
        This represents roughly 0.5% of GDP compared with the CBI’s estimate of the advantage of membership @ 4 – 5% of GDP.

        • WTF

          Have we had any honesty from Cameron ? Of course not. The truth is we need a totally independent arbitrator who can spell out all the facts of costs and benefits (if any) to allow people to make up their minds based on honesty and not fear mongering. Your quoting figures is but a small part of the equation as there’s a lot more than those numbers at stake.

        • Space 1999

          Creative accounting, if I ever saw it. The gross contribution is the key one, because the EU tells us how to spend the part of our taxpayers money that it gives us back. In other words, it is no longer ‘our’ money to do so as we wish.

        • Mary Ann

          You’re wasting your time, the outers are not listening to facts. The media barons want us to leave so they twist everything The average British person believes that 24% of the population are immigrants, in fact it is about 13%.

          • berosos_bubos

            Yes but what are the stats for england. Scotland is mostly empty space.

          • WTF

            Do they ? First time I’ve heard that, where did you find that poll. I just looked at a Guardian poll where they claimed Muslims made up 1% of the population when the true figure is 3% and climbing so you’re right about the Guardian media barons twisting the truth.

          • Roger Hudson

            13%, i remember when it really was 3 %. Admit it, we got lazy and wanted an easy life in front of the TV.

          • antoncheckout

            37% in London.- 2011 Census figures.
            Since then, the proportion of foreign-born residents is even higher.

      • john gamble

        The EU commission is the equivalent of a civil service and consists of representatives of the member countries. They propose laws on which the European parliament votes. Seems democratic to me.

        • Tom Cullem

          So, when last week the EU caved in to pressure from the auto industry lobbyists and agreed to leave in weaker carbon emission standards in new cars, I may consider that they did this with my consent?

        • Roger Hudson

          All, EU parties have to be in blocks ( or they don’t get the big black Mercedes’) ,a very constrained ‘democracy’, every time I look at Shultz’s face I feel sick.

      • john gamble

        Norway and Switzerland have to accept freedom of movement and must make budget contributions to the EU as a condition of trade.
        The Prime Minister of Norway interviewed a few days ago on BBC “Hardtalk” bitterly regretted the referendum in her country which kept them out of the EU. She says that they have all the compliance requirements without having a voice in their making. She strongly recommended that the UK vote to stay in.
        At least based on the bookies, that is by far the most likely result and the typical betting pattern shows that some 90% of people betting, bet in that sense.

        • Tom Cullem

          Norway’s benefits systems are in far better shape than the UK’s, and its working-class is doing far better. As for those bookies – they also projected that Miliband would be sitting in Downing Street last 7 May.

          For what it’s worth, I frankly also believe my benighted fellow citizens will fall for the scaremongering of Goldman Sachs and the investor class, who stand the most to gain from a REMAIN vote.

          Meanwhile, a BREXIT would in my view be the single most powerful weapon for real reform – including to Norway, who, instead of urging Britain to stay in, should be urging it to get out and promising to follow.

          The EU should never have gone beyond the single common market.

          • Space 1999

            Right now, the Stay campaign is looking very wobbly, despite the Leave campaign being practically inoperative. To me it feels like a great many people in this country have simply had enough.

            If ‘the EU guarantees our security against Putin’ is the best that Cameron can do, then we may well be a free country again by the end of the year.

            I and many others like me will be pounding the pavements constantly, talking and handing out leaflets. If you feel strongly then I implore you to do so too.

          • Mary Ann

            What I would like to know is what the press barons think they will gain by leaving.

          • berosos_bubos

            Which? Only the Express is an outer.

          • WTF

            I wouldn’t think it would affect them one way or another unless they get paid bribes as they publish in English both in print or on the internet.

          • Roger Hudson

            But the original EEC (Treaty of Rome) explicitly works towards a European superstate, look the text up online. We were lied to by Heath and all his successors.
            See Peter Hitchins documentary on Youtube, then vote ‘out’.

        • Space 1999

          You deceive by telling only partial truths. Norway has a pro-EU political class (who’d have thunk it?) and has repeatedly campaigned to join, and chooses to give lots of money to the EU. Trouble is, the Norwegian people simply do not want to join, and have said so repeatedly in referendums.

          Norway has chosen to be in EFTA, and therefore relinquished control of its borders. Switzerland is not in EFTA, and so voluntarily has open borders with the EU. Given its geographical location, it makes sense. It can and indeed is currently tightening up its borders, in response to the current state of affairs in the EU. It doesn’t need to ask permission from the EU, because it is a sovereign country. Incidentally, despite being completely outside the EU and EFTA, it sells 4.5 times as much to the EU as the UK, per head of population…

        • Mary Ann

          It is not the first time that Norway have said that we would be stupid to go for their arrangement..

          • WTF

            So that makes it right does it. Are you ever going to post something factual rather than anecdotal hearsay !

          • Roger Hudson

            Norway could have been out ‘out’ and helped the EEA to be less that an EU proxy.
            If we vote ‘out’ it must be for a totally out ‘out’.

        • Duke_Bouvier

          The Norwegian Labour Party wanted to join the EU in 1972, in 1994, and now.

          The Norwegian people on the other hand have voted twice against joining and the over time the polls have swung decisively against joining. So they can’t be suffering that much.

    • q0paz

      whereas the educated ones know for a fact it won’t. Duh…

    • 9sqn

      ‘Uneducated UKIP’ ? Your arrogance defines you.

      • Space 1999

        And indeed the EU…

    • PaD

      one word…RUBBISH

    • Tom Cullem

      Ah, yes, the “uneducated UKIP voters” . . . there isn’t a single other human unit in the country with reservations about the EU . . .

      • WTF

        Only about 55% of those polled currently want out but the poster doesn’t get it !

    • Mary Ann

      Even Farage has said that we could be worse off, but he doesn’t think that it is that important, but then he has a lot more money than most of us, and with a German wife he can always go and live in Germany if Britain goes down the pan.

      • WTF

        Could be, not would be, but we’ll certainly be worse off with Merkels migrants once they have a EU passport and come to the UK for a bit of gang rape & sexual attack diversity to add to our already bad problem.

        Just tonight a woman was abducted in Coventry and plod is asking for help despite having information from her friend about her abductors. They want help but wont help the public by disclosing the color of the 4 men like are they white, black, olive or yellow, I wonder why that is as how can we help plod without any clues.

        Yep, leaving the EU would, not could allows us to block foreign rapists, killers and terrorist coming in whilst we sort out our home grown ones.

        https://uk.news.yahoo.com/bid-locate-woman-abducted-street-gang-men-172546815.html?nhp=1

      • Roger Hudson

        It’s the old argument , by people who saw the EEC/EU as a crutch a disfunctional Britain could use to. help it to hobble along without the fundamental change that Britain should have gone through after the bankruptcy of WW2.
        We should have become ‘Swedish’ in 1946 and stayed that way ( even Sweden stopped being ‘Swedish’ when it joined the EU).

    • WTF

      And your facts are ?

  • q0paz

    The legal profession is now utterly corrupt and have fully aided and abetted the parallel utter corruption of the political class as well. All this “words on paper” is not law. The law is the common law. But since the State is a corporation and since the legal profession (as a private, members only, Bar Association) act to enforce and argue over the enacted codes of this corporation which masquerades as “law” and do so for profit, knowingly lying (making false claims before courts (contempt)) they can no longer be treated as being honourable people but are in fact defectors committing Treason against the ordinary people of this country. Politicians and lawyers are actually criminals. A pox on you all.

  • Child_of_Thatcher

    Its very simple, the problem with the EU is its an elitist dictatorship. Its not the federation, as the failed politicians with eyes on jobs in Brussels would like to have you believe, but the Klingon empire.

  • mikewaller

    I am sick to death about references to “British sovereignty”; the British as a whole never had sovereignty, that privilege was something claimed exclusively by the British Parliament, which these days more properly means the House of Commons: i.e. the very people usually vilified on these pages as being wholly untrustworthy. Speaking for myself, when it comes to individual rights, I would be far from happy to have these people the sole arbiters of my fate. There is, of course, “British Justice” but this has disgraced itself over the years with some very serious miscarriages and with a truly sovereign parliament, could always be sat on anyway.

    I am far happier to have a truly independent body sitting above all this, particularly as it very, very rarely finds against the UK government, instead far more commonly holding places such as Putin’s Russia to account. He, of course, would be overjoyed if we abandoned it as he would then be free to do likewise. That is not to say that the European Court cannot be improved. Of course it could, and that is where we should be directing our efforts; but even here we should not believe all the nonsense we are told. For example, with the Afghan man referred to above I suspect that the Luxembourg Court was right. Because Greece is an economic basket-case currently being overwhelmed by unprecedented numbers of refugees and economic migrants,any one such is likely to get short shrift. What we should therefore be doing along with other European countries is to give massive support to Greece so that there are satisfactory facilities to which such people can be returned. Better still, we should establish far more such facilities outside Europe. But of course, for the simple minded, it far easier to take aim at the messenger!

    • KittyR

      “I am far happier to have a truly independent body sitting above all this”
      I’m glad you have faith in the Court of Justice of the EU’s independence, but the real issue here is democracy. Many feel about the Court of Justice what you feel about our parliament, but we have absolutely no way of influencing the Court of Justice in the way we do the UK parliament. You may well be able to argue that the Court is truly independent but the real issue is that it’s profoundly undemocratic. Why should we as UK citizens have an ‘independent’ body located in Luxembourg as final arbiter of British law? The truly concerning this is should the Court become less and less independent over time, citizens of any European Union countries have no way of influencing this, or indeed other EU dictates.

      • mikewaller

        For exactly the same reason that the US has a Supreme Court, the members of which are appointed for life by incumbent Presidents with no other democratic input: you simply cannot trust politicians or the people who vote them in particularly where fundamental points of law and human rights are involved . Nor,sadly, can you fully trust domestic judges as so many miscarriages of justice attest. First, unlike the Americans, they lack a constitution and bill of rights against which to work; and, second, they are too easily influenced by popular sentiment (as with, for example, the Irish cases) and our disgusting press. Beyond that, I should have thought that any decent person knowing the Putin would love us abandon the European courts so that he could do likewise, would see that as a gold-plated reason for not doing so.

        • KittyR

          Comparing the US Supreme Court to the EU Court of Justice is wholly redundant. The US is a nation, unified from the moment it won a bloody War of Independence motivated by citizens who wanted to be a nation state. We certainly have no such citizen-led motivation for a European Union. My point is about democracy and the bald fact is that although composed of states, the US is a unified country. As such, US citizens get to vote in the President who appoints judges to the Supreme Court. Do you get to vote in the EU president? While you may argue that the UK Supreme Court requires reformation due to the absence of a written constitution, shouldn’t we, British citizens, be the ones who lobby parliament, vote, exercise our democratic rights to see change, not some éminence grise from Brussels? If you want a comparison with the US, I very much doubt the average Joe in America would be happy if the Supreme Court were being infiltrated by judges from other countries who the President had no control over. I think they’d be very worried if this were the case, and so should we be in Europe .

          • mikewaller

            You make my point for me: “…who the President had no control over”. I do not wish to revert to a system whereby ultimate power is vested in the hands of politicians whom we chose as our masters every five years. If I had a valid grievance of vital importance to me I would have far more faith in a disinterested legal body based elsewhere than a body of largely personal- career obsessed politicians. The rights of prisoners to vote is a case in point. Who but bloody fools was spend more than two minutes before deciding that as reintegration into society is one of the objectives of the penal system, allowing prisoners to participate- whilst politically inconsequential (there are less than 100,000 of them) – might actually do some good. Instead, all we got was our crap politicians and our crap newspapers playing to the gallery by banging on about British sovereignty with those two outstanding poseurs, Straw and Davis, well to the fore. I rest my case.

          • Duke_Bouvier

            As it happens, the Court had previously been supportive of the UK position, and then for no good reason decided against it. They anyway only ruled that the ban could not be absolute, so the UK was free to impose limitations on prisoner’s voting rights to a degree – there was no absolute principal at stake.

          • mikewaller

            Could it be that, after further thought, the Court came to the same sensible conclusion I have, a blessed state so rarely achieved by our politicians! [:-)]

        • KittyR

          “you simply cannot trust politicians or the people who vote them in ”
          You can really trust no one. Do you really believe that the US Supreme Court is entirely impartial? That there are fewer miscarriages of justice there than in the UK?

          • mikewaller

            The weakness of the American system lies in the much higher degree to which they politicise the legal process. The present row over who the next member of the Supreme Court will be is a case in point. If the present administration can get a liberal in, the whole tenor of the Court will change. If the Republicans can stave that off, the judgements handed down will be dramatically different. That might suit you, but it doesn’t suit me. I would much sooner have disinterested judges working from fundamental legal principles, many of which are derived from British jurisprudence.

            What I find particular sickening is that those who fall in behind the self-serving crap spouted out by British politicians, are in real danger of giving Putin all his Christmases at once. He and his pals hate any kind of oversight of what they are about – Russia alone accounts for about 20% of the cases taken to Strasbourg, for example – and there is nothing they would like more than to see an established democracy like Britain set the precedent of withdrawing. So when you are next puffing your chest out and banging on about British sovereignty, do try to have some regard to much less privileged citizens elsewhere to whom the various European institutions are their only hope.

    • Marvin

      YEP! another single cell Amoeba who has a lust to be flogged by asinine Cretins in foreign lands.

  • Bill Sticker

    Whatever you think of our sovereign parliament at least that is what we elected to rule us and if we don’t think they are up to the job we can get rid of them that’s sovereignty. The deal Mr Cameron has invested so much time and our taxes dragging out of his EU “partners” in practice means the parliament we the people voted for must now go cap in hand to the EU people we never voted for or against seeking their permission to implement the 4 year end of benefits for migrants plus those same EU bureaucrats can end it at any time of their choosing. Now we also learn that the allegedly improved version of this weird deal states that all signatories must work towards accepting the Euro.

    If there was ever a watertight case for Brexit this Cameron deal has to be it!

    • KittyR

      Well said! The real concern is the dilution of our democratic rights. For all its faults, our parliamentary system allows people a vote, allows citizens to lobby parliament, but we have none of this with the shadowy dictates of the EU we now found encroaching by stealth on our sovereignty year by year.

  • 6Story5

    Cameron is dodging the easiest way to alter the UK’s relationship with the EU and to stay in. That is to have the government alter the wording of Section 2.1. of the 1972 Act of Accession. This states that EEC law overrides national law, ie it accepts from the outset that the EU is a supranational institution. At the time, when the Gaullists ran France, this was a ludicrous claim. Since then, the French have given conditional recognition to ECJ claims to primacy; the German Constitutional Court regularly challenges it.
    The point is simple: the official UK position recognises the EU as an imminent superstate. As long as Cameron fails to alter Section 2.1. to state that the Crown in parliament is sovereign, it is evident that he is in accord with the UK parliament’s recognition that the superstate overrules it.

    • Roger Hudson

      That was exactly the bit Heath failed to mention/ lied about in the run up to ’75 referendum.
      It’s still true today . Don’t get fooled again. Vote ‘out’.

  • TimonSays

    The minimum requirement for the UK to remain a member of the EU is for us to have a veto on ALL decisions (directives, budgets, appointments, etc) and for UK law to trump EU law. As David-the–human-jelly-Cameron didn’t even ASK for either of these things, I am left with no option but to vote OUT.

  • The Masked Marvel

    So why repeal the Human Rights Act while the Charter, with its far wider panoply of rights, remains?

    The author seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that Cameron gives a damn about that and is doing anything other than looking for a fig leaf.

    • Marvin

      The Bill of Rights garbage is just a prop to make him look tough and manly. It will not happen because he has the spine of a jellyfish.

  • Rocksy

    What’s missing? Call me Dave’s spine.

  • Joey Edgecombe

    Hope your husband realises how right you are Marina.

    • Roger Hudson

      Just get Boris to state he wants ‘out’.

      • antoncheckout

        But where is Boris’s following? Who would be swayed to vote Leave just because Boris said so? Any more than they’d vote to Remain because he said so?

      • Marvin

        That man speaks with “brown tongue”. He will lick anything if it gets him power. God forbid.

      • Joey Edgecombe

        She did!! 🙂

  • Roger Hudson

    Some Red Card, the idea that 14 other countries would join the UK against Brussels on anything is just nonsense, a con trick.
    I voted for 0ut in ’75 over sovereignty, it’s still the same issue today. Vote ‘out’.

  • antoncheckout

    Cogent, pithy, eloquent, and above all, bang on the nail.
    Marina for PM!!

  • Marvin

    The “RED” card is a joke created by a “JOKER”. and a buffoon, a liar, a conman and someone who is a traitor to this country.

    • GoJebus

      ‘Traitor’ might be just a tad strong, but all the other epithets are apt. This reactionary cretin is just the latest in a long line of knee-jerk, wind-blown, watery MPs who have sold their country down the river. They pretend to listen to the ordinary citizen but they couldn’t give so much as a flying f*ck about them. They have stolen our inheritance and as a nation we are rapidly being erased by a frightening multi-cultural relativism fed and watered by trans-national corporations and our own infected institutions (the BBC reigns supreme). Out with him, out with all the current crop of factory-farmed politicos, out with the EU.

  • grumpyoldrockape

    Camerons pathetic attempts are probably aiding the Leave Campaign by highlighting the whole farce.
    At this stage of the game there appears to be more sensible argument for leaving than remaining.

  • pobinr

    More secure in Europe????

    Page 45 (Section 2.90) of the Government’s own report published in 2014: ‘Single Market: Free Movement of Persons’ states that:-

    Free movement within the EU is extensively exploited by organised criminals to bring illicit commodities including drugs, human trafficking victims, illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods to the UK. Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are key entry and distribution hubs for drugs and other illicit goods before they reach the UK’s shores. Europol highlights that ‘the free movement of people and goods across the EU’s internal borders reduces the chance of detection’.

    So how come David Cameron et al are now claiming that ‘we are safer in the EU’?

    The premise becomes even more outrageous in view of the events in Paris during 2015; open borders apparently allowed free movement of at least one of the terrorists arriving in Greece and then travelling freely around Europe.

    LEAVE THE EU – RE-GAIN CONTROL OF OUR BORDERS & OUR COUNTRY

  • Roger Hudson

    Cameron is pushing ‘project fear’ for all he is worth, the fear that outside the EU we will be our lazy selves that the EEC was supposed to change in the 1970s but didn’t. The immigrant workforce only exists because Brits never stepped forward to take the jobs required, while wanting jobs that weren’t required. I can’t even think of the jobs lost in fishing without crying.

    • frank davidson

      You are correct. We do not need unskilled immigrants whilst we have 1.7 millions unemployed.

  • Joey Edgecombe

    Thanks Marina, for helping your husband come to his momentous decision today.
    Voting Leave is the only sensible choice.

  • justejudexultionis

    Whatever happens, we’re all doomed!

  • Herman_U_Tick

    I shall print this out and carry it with me in town ready for when, in the coming months, some campaigner accosts me:

    C: ‘Are you voting in or out?’
    Me: ‘Out’
    C: ‘So you don’t care if we lose 5 zillion jobs and besides we need the EU to explain to us how
    to copulate which we would be unable to do without its guidance.’
    Me: ‘Jobs can be regained; freedom will be lost permanently.’

  • Bella Sassin

    Peace in Our Time sketch
    https://youtu.be/hgn4SaL2ZBc

  • http://thetruthoncommonsense.com/ Cheekos

    An interesting point of view. To me, residing across The Pond, the conundrum appears to be between: Opting into the two major trade pacts, which are still being ratified (TPP) or negotiated (the Atlantic).

    However much we believe that UK, the US and Canada will always trade as good friends and partners, a Brexit might isolate UK from the rest of Europe–and other world markets. Any sort of non-member relationship, a la Switzerland, would be far off into the future. But, at the same time, remaining in the EU might, in effect, be like opting-out of your own Rule of Law.

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