A congregation of people for SOLIDARITY and CONSCIENCE for LIFE
Brexit and the EU
During the campaign leading up to the 2016 UK Referendum, on leaving or staying in the European Union, the one thing that both sides agreed on was the need for the EU to be reformed. Now, the one thing both sides in the UK Parliament agree on is that the Withdrawal Agreement [for different reasons] is a bad deal. Prime Minister Theresa May has forgotten her mantra "no deal is better than a bad deal" as she tries to persuade the European Commission and EU Council to tweak it, so that she can sell it to an increasingly frustrated House of Commons. Her efforts in Brussels are getting more acrimonious and fractious as the EU Zealots bury their heads in the sand and she comes up against the brick wall of 'Spanish Practices'. The EU will not be reformed because it requires a 'shared vision' and the consent of European citizens. Those citizens are being treated with contempt and this will be reflected in the results of the May elections to the European Parliament. This will be a defining moment for Europe and will determine the UK's future foreign policy and relationship with the Continent.
In 2017 we expressed the view that the overall approach to Brexit being adopted by the Government [that is, David Davies as Secretary of State] was encouraging, but there was a concern that Article 50 had been invoked too early and this had weakened the UK's negotiating position. That optimism was misplaced and things have gone downhill following his resignation. The EC had published a White Paper in March 2017 setting out five options for the future direction of the EU by 2025. One option was for an economic focus that was much like the original European Economic Community that the UK had joined. We believed this deserved serious consideration. In June 2017 we wrote to the weakened Prime Minister, following her disastrous General Election result, setting out our ten points for action in relation to Gibraltar.
We concluded the letter as follows:- "Finally and in general, we appreciate that Article 50 negotiations are going to be complex and time consuming, more so given the EC negotiating stance and the Spanish double veto, which we believe will result in the need for an extension of time. However, there must be an absolute deadline and we suggest that our membership of the EU should come to an end at Midnight on the 31st December 2019. The Independence Day would then be 1st January 2020, requiring a double firework display, a new year and a new future - but think of the celebratory financial savings in future years!"
The reply from Sir Alan Duncan, Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the lack of action by PM May were disappointing but anticipated. Since then the negotiations conducted by the PM have been disastrous and resulted in the departure of two Secretaries of State for Brexit and a Foreign Secretary; and with ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement becoming a shambles. This is compounded by the appointments she has made to her Cabinet, where she appears to be trying to ride two horses at the same time. She has made a rod for her own back.
To be clear, the CDP position is that the Withdrawal Agreement alone and as it stands is unacceptable. Our concerns about Gibraltar have been borne out and there are now new concerns about the Sovereign Bases in Cyprus, which will in the future not be worthy of the sovereign title. While the border issue in Ireland has taken centre stage, this has overshadowed other important aspects in the Agreement. Having conceded a responsibility for the EU Budget up to the year end of 2020 and with little likelihood of concluding a Trade Agreement by then [made more difficult because all remaining twenty-seven members and their regions must have a consensus] the UK will be left in limbo. The UK will not have truly left the EU whilever subject to their Rules and the EU Court of Justice.
The main responsibility for this rests with the EU Council's refusal to sanction negotiations for the trade deal in parallel with the withdrawal agreement. After all their mantra is "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". The PM should have taken a very hard line from the start and delayed the invoking of Article 50 until December 2018 because of their intransigence and her acceptance of responsibility for their Budget - with the threat to leave in December 2020 on World Trade Organisation rules. The added advantages are that the UK would be fully involved in the EU decision making, right to the end, and our departure would take place when the world's markets are closed between Christmas and the New Year. All the effort could then have been put in to preparing for an orderly exit on that basis. Sort of, putting the transition at the beginning instead of the end. This would have defused most of the contentious issues, resulting in certainty and clarity.
The Irish border will only become a blocking issue if the EU makes it one, by not recognising the special status of the Republic, and they must then take responsibility for the consequences. Even now, and if the PM continues to be defeated in Parliament, the situation can be retrieved. The EU must be told that the Withdrawal Agreement will be honoured in spirit from next March, but will not be legally ratified until the Trade Agreement is signed off at the same time and with a deadline of December 2020.
The future direction of the EU seems to have already been decided in their usual undemocratic way. In October 2018 they announced their intent for a stronger and more united Europe, with a Chancellor (finance supremo) able to go in to member states and make structural reforms to their domestic budgets. They also intend to accelerate the European Commission's timetable for closer integration.
The promised consultation with EU citizens has been an online tick-box exercise asking questions on matters that are not within the competence of the EU or EC. That is, they have not been asked to indicate which of the five options they prefer. This accounts for a relatively poor response. The whole process has been open to abuse with no safeguards against external interference. The promised Citizens Dialogue consists of a thousand tiny town hall style meetings, on a first come basis open to being swamped by those of a similar viewpoint. The Eurobarometer indicates there is more trust in regional and local authorities than there is in national governments; with trust in the European Union coming in between. There is a power-grab taking place by the European Commission and the prospect of a Europe of the Regions; with the decline of the nation state.
The UK vote to leave the EU was the right one. 2020 could become the new 1066. We just need to hold our nerve - Keep Calm and Carry On.
In May 2016, prior to the Referendum, the CDP resolved that the United Kingdom must vote to leave the European Union as a way of forcing the European Commission and the EU Council to reform its institutions and tackle the democratic deficit; issues that were causing widespread concerns among EU citizens. Our aim was for the EC to let the people determine their 'shared vision' for the future of Europe. Since then, all across the EU, that public disquiet has grown.
The CDP preference was for a European Commonwealth acting on the basis of consensus [not by majority voting]. Since 2007 our position has been to oppose the ever increasing expansion of the EU and the drive towards a Federal State of Europe, European Army and a consolidated budget & finance regime - all under the direction of the Commission. We consider the 2007 Lisbon Treaty to have been a treaty too far. Prior to being agreed it was known as the European Reform Treaty. The problem is that it was the wrong sort of reform. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown reneged on a Labour Party manifesto promise to let people vote in a referendum on the future of that constitutional treaty. They may now regret that, as a vote to reject the Treaty would have resulted in a UK veto followed by a rethink and a change of direction; but would not have resulted in the UK exiting the EU.
David Cameron and George Osborne kept their 2015 Conservative manifesto promise to hold a referendum on staying or not in the EU. This was high risk, but they believed they could negotiate reforms that would address the concerns of UK voters. They failed in that endeavour due to the intransigence of the Commission and the EU Council of Leaders. They made the mistake of trying to sell a bad deal to the public. It is the same mistake now being made by Theresa May.
The irony is that following the EU Referendum the European Commission launched an EU wide consultation. This was the 1st March 2017 White Paper on the Future of Europe [Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025]. Rather like shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. If that reflection had taken place in 2015 when PM Cameron tried to achieve reform, then we might not be in the situation we are now in. The EC said the White Paper was to mark the sixty years since the 1957 Treaty of Rome that created the European Economic Community. It was intended to stimulate a broad debate across the continent to help the EU Council draw first conclusions by the end of 2017 and decide a course for action, to be rolled out in time for the European Parliament election in June 2019, about which way to go.
The White Paper quoted Robert Schuman from 9th May 1950; "Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements, which first create a de facto solidarity." The CDP maintains that Solidarity is still a long way off.
The CDP also believed that a UK vote to leave the EU would be the catalyst for negotiations leading to serious reform proposals as the EC tried to keep the UK in the EU. In 2016 we welcomed the result of the Referendum and expressed concern at the dismissive attitude of the European elite - wedded to the European Project - who refused to acknowledge the crisis facing the EU. Their refusal to address the concerns of EU citizens undermines their credibility and contradicts their purported support for the Common Good. Even with the UK detached from the EU, we support European Solidarity and the development of European-wide sectoral institutions and organisations. We therefore welcomed the launch of the 2017 White Paper and counselled that PM May should not be in a hurry to invoke Article 50 of the European Constitution.
Our concerns are about the underhand way the original and separate European 'pillars' and 'communities' have all been aggregated under a single European Government; and the way the European Court of Justice [intended to arbitrate and decide on the rules of the institutions] has had its remit extended to human rights issues, thereby becoming the European Supreme Court.
The White Paper accepts there will be no further accessions to the EU expected in the short-term. It confirms the pursuit of 'progressive trade agreements' with Japan, Australia, New Zealand Latin America and others. On that basis why is the negotiation of a trade deal with the UK being deferred until the Withdrawal Agreement is completed and the UK has left the EU?
It also confirms that Europe's share of world population is falling: 1900 25% - 1960 11% - 2015 6% - 2060 4%. Much of this can be attributed to two 20th century world wars that wiped out young males and left females unmarried and single. Compounded by an aggressive population control agenda after 1950. Nowhere in the White Paper does it address the need to reverse this trend or to increase birth-rate above replacement level and to an incremental rate. Without stating it there is an implication that immigration is the solution.
The White Paper sets out five scenarios; 1 - Carrying on, 2 - Nothing but the Single Market, 3 - Those who want to do more, 4 - Doing less more efficiently, 5 - Doing much more together. The starting point for each scenario is that the 27 move forward together as a Union. From the UK point of view options 2 and 4 are the most interesting. In option 2 the EU recentres on the Single Market and there is more emphasis on internal bilateral agreements. It proposes to withdraw two existing pieces of legislation for every new initiative. In option 4 the EU focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less elsewhere. But, trade is exclusively dealt with at EU level.
Option 4 is therefore compromised, as a main aim of Brexit is to regain independence for negotiation of new trade deals in a global context. In or out of the EU the CDP will oppose any toxic trade deals. Standards must not be lowered in pursuit of free trade. Our preference is for fair trade that allows developing nations, especially in Africa, to access our markets and build up their own economies, helping them to help themselves, so that their people do not need to be forced to emigrate. It seems that option 2 should be the UK option. But, what does the rest of the EU think?
The promised extensive consultation with European citizens does not appear to have taken place. The European political elite seem to be afraid of the response from their citizens. Indeed, the EC has been roundly criticised for publishing the White Paper and launching a consultation exercise. The same elite have also disowned Article 50 as a mistake that should never have been included in the Lisbon Treaty. Their view is that once a country joins the EU it can never leave. This explains their reaction to Brexit - make it as difficult and punitive as possible - and deter other counties from following the UK out.
Recent pronouncements by President Macron and Chancellor Merkel promoting further integration, a consolidated Eurozone budget, a sole European foreign policy and the creation of the European Army favour the adoption of option 5. If this proves to be the case, then the result of the UK Referendum to leave the EU is validated and the Leave Campaign is vindicated.
The Referendum and the European Union
30th June 2016
The Christian Democratic Party welcomes the result of the EU Referendum as the people of the United Kingdom have clearly indicated the future destiny of our country detached from the European Union. That decision must be respected and accepted, implemented with no backsliding or dilution, and handled with sensitivity, while recognising the trepidation of those who voted to remain and are worried for the future.
This has been a rare and wonderful example of direct democracy involving the whole eligible population and integral parts of the UK and Gibraltar. We are dismayed that political parties in certain parts of this jurisdiction are unable to accept the result for reasons of narrow national aspirations. This is opportunistic and demonstrates a wilful disregard for democratic principles, which is a feature of the EU institutions, and is one of the main reasons for people wanting to leave the EU.
We are equally dismayed by the EU elite who dismiss the decision of the British people and who resolutely refuse to recognise the concerns of European citizens. These concerns have been clearly expressed in this first counter-demonstration that we believe will be repeated in many other EU States. They deflect this by describing it as a crisis in the UK, when in fact it is a crisis for the EU. It derives from the intransigence of the intelligentsia who are wedded to the European Project that has never been endorsed by the people because they have been denied a say in its formation and development. The Project has deviated from the right to self-determination and the principle of subsidiarity enunciated in Catholic Social Teaching.
This elitism also pervades the British political class. Many of the people's representatives in the House of Commons are disconnected from the concerns of their constituents. Even now when they can have no doubt about the wishes of their communities, they remain obsessed with telling them they have made the wrong decision, seeking ways to obstruct their will and engineer a second referendum. It is a grave mistake that will further diminish their credibility.
The CDP is opposed to European integration that is stifling - but we support European solidarity founded on consensus, living in peace and harmony with our neighbours. The EU institutions must take seriously the genuine concerns of the common people and act to promote their well-being. Their failure to do this is a threat to the dignity of each human being. The EU Commission pursues a destructive population control agenda, promotes pornography and undermines the traditional family. This is a threat to European civilisation based on Christian principles and values.
We are committed to restoring the unity of our Country and co-operating with all European nations, so that collectively we can be a force for good in the world. This compels us in charity to aid the marginalised poor and help people to help themselves as we work for the Global Common Good.
May 2016 The Referendum
The Christian Democratic Party has an independent and distinctive position about the United Kingdom's position in Europe. It is not part of any of the EU referendum campaigns, but has always been in favour of letting the people decide the issue and future direction of the European Community and its derivatives. The CDP will respect and accept the wishes of voters, without any reservations, in this unique demonstration of direct democracy.
Faced with the refusal of the EU Council of Leaders and the European Commission to reform the EU institutions and tackle the democratic deficit, and respond to the concerns that are widespread amongst all EU citizens, we are resigned to the position that there is no alternative but to Leave the European Union. The European Project is taking us towards a federal United States of Europe, with ever closer union and ever expanding boundaries, and is moving in the wrong direction. It does not have the consent of Europeans who have, whenever given the opportunity, tried to restrain this drift.
However, we believe that there must be an European-wide organisation arising out of a 'shared vision' - which might be the lowest common denominator - that everyone can agree with. This might be a European Commonwealth or a non-federal European Confederation of sovereign states acting on the basis of consensus.
Given the apocalyptic forecasts of the Remain campaign, we further believe, that a Leave vote result will be a catalyst for crisis negotiations being held that will result in serious reform proposals. Not just because of the UK vote, but also because of the demands from other European citizens for referenda in their own countries. The European elite are adamant that Out means Out, but history shows us they say they respect the will of voters then do not accept it. In due course UK voters will be asked to vote in a second referendum just like the Danes and Irish.