William Hague has today given a speech to Policy Exchange today on why there should be a referendum on the new EU Treaty (aka the EU constitution).
I am in almost all circumstances against referenda. But the taking of wholesale soveriegnty away from the electorate to the unelected bureacrats in Brussels is fundamentally against anything democratic. I am resigned to the fact that we will never get the chance to vote on this matter I'm afraid - but hopefully some of the media will take this case up some more and Parliament will do its job and give us a chance to say who governs us. Manifestos are the basis for a mandate to rule, not an unelected scrapheap of has been politicians. Below are some selected texts -
So Gordon Brown has been absolutely right to emphasise the importance of sticking to manifesto promises. As he told the BBC the weekend before he became Prime Minister, 'the manifesto is what we put to the public. We've got to honour that manifesto. That is an issue of trust for me with the electorate'.
So is this new Treaty in fact a relabelled Constitution? If we look at what political leaders are saying elsewhere in Europe it turns out that the only matter of dispute is whether, as the Irish Prime Minister says, ninety per cent of it is still there, or, as the Spanish foreign minister claimed only yesterday, it is ninety eight per cent the same.
The mandate's obscurity is a deliberate disguise.
Rather than countries taking their turn to chair the EU's business a new EU President would set the EU's agenda, as well as having a rather undefined role representing Europe to the world. There would be an EU foreign minister in all but name, with his own diplomatic service. Unlike the current High Representative, who reports to the foreign ministers' council meetings, he would preside over it. The EU would for the first time have a single legal personality, a prerequisite for statehood that would allow the EU to sign treaties in its own right. Criminal justice agreements would no longer be strictly intergovernmental but would be treated like ordinary community matters - so the Commission would have the main right to propose laws, the European Parliament would have the right of co-decision and, most importantly, the European Court of Justice would gain full jurisdiction over present and future agreements. Additionally, because of the doctrine of implied external competence, we could now see the Commission taking charge of and the Court of Justice ruling on our extradition agreements with third countries, such as the United States or Algeria.
Our national veto will be abolished in sixty areas. Some are relatively trivial but others are certainly not...
So it is clear that this new Treaty will produce effectively the same wide and fundamental changes to the EU that the rejected Constitution intended.
As the President of the Commission has said, with this new Treaty theEU would acquire 'the dimension of empire'.
The answer is simple: trust the people and let them decide.
Click here for the full text.