The answer to a question addressed to Chancellor Merkel, at a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General in Berlin on 2nd June, has inevitably been blown up out of proportion by the news media. Though the answer was indicative, the official German position is that Angela Merkel is reluctant to intervene in the UK referendum debate. She would have been wise, in that case, to reply with a “no comment”. She did not, and as we know, she is pulling David Cameron’s strings so that he had to clear his proposed statement about the EU with her before he delivered it to the House of Commons. That she chose to answer a leading question [there is a possibility that it was a deliberately placed question] indicates a growing concern among EU Leaders that the Leave campaigners are winning the arguments and will win the referendum.
Her reply was relatively cautious, and as all foreign leaders have done, made clear that it is a decision for the British people. That is hypocritical because the Danes in a referendum rejected the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and were made to vote in a second referendum. The Irish, in a referendum, rejected the 2001 Nice Treaty and were made to vote a second time. The Irish again rejected the 2007 Lisbon Treaty in a referendum. On that last occasion Merkel and Sarkozy said they respected the decision of the Irish people. Perhaps, but they did not accept it. On the excuse of a low turnout the Irish were made to vote for the Treaty in a second referendum. The Dutch and the French had previously, in referenda, rejected the proposed European Constitution but were ignored and denied a vote on its clone – the Lisbon Treaty. With the first Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty the Czechs and Poles, who had then not ratified the Treaty, dug their heels in and came under extreme pressure to do so. While it did not come to mobilising panzer tanks on their borders, there was unwarranted and illegitimate interference with both countries internal processes.
During the financial crisis, and with the Euro under threat, both Greece and Italy had their governments replaced at German insistence. Earlier this year the Dutch referendum voted against the agreement to extend EU association status to the Ukraine. The Netherlands government have not accepted the democratic vote of their people and vetoed the agreement, and the indications are that they will ratify the agreement after the UK referendum. The European Commission has gone ahead anyway to allow visa-free access to the EU for Ukrainians. The German government, that is – Chancellor Angela Merkel, opened the doors to uncontrolled immigration via Turkey and then unilaterally entered in to bilateral negotiations with Turkey to stem the flow by agreeing visa-free access to the EU for Turks and the speeding up of Turkish accession negotiations. The rest of the EU is supposed to meekly go along with this, even though there is a high level of official and popular opposition to Turkey joining the EU. Even though David Cameron says that he can veto Turkeys accession, he has already agreed to it and is an enthusiastic supporter of it.
When we talk about the democratic deficit in the EU we are not just talking about the unelected European Commission, it is also the overwhelming fact that European leaders ignore the wishes of their citizens when clearly expressed through the democratic process. The EU is not just undemocratic, it is anti-democratic. Eurocrats in Brussels are committed to the European Project of ever closer union, and use every crisis to further that goal. They are also committed to ever further expansion of the boundaries of the EU. The one thing that both sides of the referendum debate agree on is that the EU needs to be reformed. Pope Francis also has the habit of replying to leading questions from the press. On his way back from Mexico it is reported that he agreed that there needed to be a re-foundation of the EU. In his case this was not a political wish, but more that the EU should recover its soul.
Remain campaigners delude themselves if they think that by being in the EU they can reform it from within. David Cameron’s claim to have reformed the EU is farcical. He ran up against the Berlin Wall – a new kind of Iron Curtain. The new Iron Chancellor, to give her full title – the Federal Chancellor of Germany – will not be breached easily. It is going to take the dam-busters to do that. A vote to leave the EU would be the first crack in the wall, that would be enlarged if other countries, like the Danes and Dutch, followed suite. Real reform could then take place on the basis of a shared vision for the future of Europe. Out of that shared vision a common agenda could then be implemented. It is unsurprising that many euro-sceptics refer to the institutions in Brussels as the EUSSR. The Remain campaign excuse the need for reform argument, by claiming that the European Project is work in progress. But, they do not tell us what the end destination of the Project is, because it is something that dare not speak its name – a United States of Europe. Sir James Goldsmith knew this only too well – a German dominated USE, a federal country just like the Chancellor’s Federal Germany. But, at the press conference Mrs Merkel was not asked a searching question about that.
It is not reported whether she was also asked about defence. Unusual as she was meeting with the Secretary General of NATO. The Lisbon Treaty made provision for closer working on security and defence, leading to European Military Forces. This has been steadily progressed and the serious discussions are scheduled to start the day after the UK referendum. Remember that the Western European Union was formed after the Second World War (Treaty of Brussels 1948) for the purpose of defence against Germany. It was wound-up in 2011 because the European Union was fulfilling the role, except the threat was now Russia [not that many people believe that]. Remember also that NATO (also known as the North Atlantic Alliance) was set up in 1949 following the North Atlantic Treaty. The first Secretary General was Lord Ismay, who stated that the Organization’s goal was, “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” How times have changed, or have they?
So of all the pertinent questions that could have elicited an answer from Mrs Merkel, the answer that she gave was to do with the economy – the subject that the Remain campaign feels safest with. She said, “We work well together with the UK, particularly when we talk about new rules for the EU. We have to develop those together with the UK and whenever we negotiate that, you can much better have an influence on the debate when you sit at the bargaining table and you can give input to those negotiations and the result will then invariably be better rather than being outside of the room.” Not really controversial, but then the veiled threat. She stressed the importance of the single market – a free trade area which also includes the free movement of goods, people and capital – and said countries outside the EU “will never get a really good result in negotiations.”
Well Mrs Merkel, England is not on the run or done. Dad’s Army (including Mums and Grandparents) have the opportunity – after years of being denied – to put an end to their little game and make them think again.