As a consequence of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union (EU), our focus will be on monitoring the withdrawal process and how fully sovereignty and democracy are being returned to the UK. The EU will still exert a huge influence on the UK for some time, so we shall also keep tabs on key Europe-wide developments.
The referendum … is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union … This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide. Government EU referendum leaflet
(distributed to every UK household at a cost of £9.3 million to the taxpayer)
The British people decided democratically in a referendum on 23 June 2016 that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union or EU. This historic 'Brexit' (British exit) decision was achieved with a 51.9% mandate from a 71.8% turnout; no less than 17.4 million Britons voted to leave the EU. Then Prime Minister David Cameron had made it clear to the House of Commons in February 2016 and elsewhere that the referendum would be "a straight democratic decision… Having a second renegotiation followed by a second referendum is not on the ballot paper." Furthermore, the government's leaflet on the referendum categorically stated that: "The Government will implement what you decide"1. The effect of Brexit on EU funding will be immense: excluding Germany, the UK's contribution to the EU is more than the total net contribution of the 26 other member states combined. It is more likely that the UK will thrive after Brexit than that the EU and eurozone can continue in their present forms.
Over 70% of voters now support or accept Brexit, yet the British Establishment and much of the mainstream media (notably the BBC) were, and still are, overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit and continuously cast doubt on the wisdom and legitimacy of the people's democratic decision. All manner of bad news is scurrilously attributed to the prospect of Brexit, not just regarding the economy, jobs, exchange rate and investment, but also regarding emotionally charged topics such as racism, migrants, hate crime, terrorism and so on. The EU 'single market' is constantly ascribed phenomenal trading benefits, even though there is significant evidence that these are illusory and that the EU market is becoming relatively much less important to us. When 'remoaners' claim the public did not vote for a 'hard' or 'extreme' Brexit and that a 'soft' or 'open' Brexit will suffice, they really mean that they do not want to leave the EU at all. Before the referendum, it was made crystal clear by both sides that leaving the EU also meant leaving the EU single market. Those determined to delay or scupper Brexit scored two notable legal successes. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court ruled that triggering Brexit had to be approved by the Houses of Commons and Lords, largely and hugely pro-EU respectively. The majority of the judges involved in these decisions have distinctly pro-EU views or actual EU affiliations.
Little wonder then that there are deep suspicions among Leave voters that Theresa May's weakened and largely pro-EU government will backtrack and fail to properly leave the EU, retaining some form of substantive and expensive association. (Of course, the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon aims to achieve just that for Scotland, even though she has no democratic mandate or legal process to do so. By campaigning UK-wide during the EU referendum she acquiesced to its legitimacy and its decision being binding across the entire UK.)
Notwithstanding continual shenanigans from the losing 'Remain' camp, PM May has committed to the following actions to enable Brexit by the end of summer, 2019:
Article 50 - Formal notice of leaving
Invoked on 29 March 2017
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty formally defines how a member state should withdraw from the EU. The UK has notified the European Council of its intention to exit the EU and a withdrawal agreement will be negotiated between the EU and the UK. The EU treaties will cease to be applicable to the UK from the date of that agreement or, failing that, within two years of the notification unless the Council, in agreement with the UK, unanimously decided to extend this period. Some, such as Gerard Batten MEP, say the Article 50 route to exit cannot be relied upon, calling it a "trap", "created deliberately and precisely in order to delay and prevent any country actually leaving".
Repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act
This Act provided the legislation for the UK's initial accession into the EU's forerunner and which gives EU law supremacy over British law. In its place, a 'Great Repeal Bill' will be introduced in parliament some time in 2018 via the next Queen's Speech to put power for the nation's laws back into the hands of Westminster. This would be activated at the moment we leave the EU. However, this requires parliamentary approval, and some opposition parties and peers may still dare to defy the people's decision to leave the EU. Initially, all EU laws would be transmuted to UK laws, but after Brexit they will be amended, repealed or replaced solely according to British needs and priorities.
Despite the government claiming that it would be prepared to leave the EU without an exit deal, we speculate that a botched, 'soft Brexit' is looking more likely. At the present time, the 'Norway option' is the most probable model for our future relationship with the EU. We suspect this will mean:
Continuing to pay substantial sums of 'protection money' to the EU for an enhanced level of access to its 'single market'
Continuing to comply with a large number of EU laws and regulations
Continuing high levels of immigration from EU countries and insecure free movement of people with very little control over our borders
Continuing security risks and inversions of morality and natural justice arising from the European Convention on Human Rights via EU courts
The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe. Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet President
The drive for the European Union (EU) to become the 'United States of Europe' continues apace. Political union goes hand in glove with monetary union, and the sovereignty of member states has been eroded to the point where most of their laws now originate in the EU. As a 'supranational' entity, the EU already acts like a country in its own right with its own legislature, courts, parliament, central bank, currency (€), foreign ministry, fledgling military and police forces, and the authority to sign treaties. The few remaining vestiges of power held by individual countries are diminishing all the time, with the UK hanging on to a few more than most, for the time being. Here are some facts about the EU:
The goal of "an ever closer union" has been embedded in EU treaties and regulations ever since the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Most UK citizens who voted in the 1975 referendum to join the "common market" never really understood that this would mean the end of nationhood. But the historic referendum of 2016 finally called a halt to British membership of the EU, and withdrawal is proceeding. Until this is completed, EU law still has primacy over UK law and around 59% of UK laws and regulations come directly from the EU. The European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights continue to trump all UK courts. It is interesting to note that the British are the least likely Europeans to actually consider themselves European.
The European Commission is the powerhouse of the EU; it proposes all legislation, implements decisions, upholds treaties and manages everyday business. Each of the 28 Commissioners costs EU taxpayers £277,000 per year, yet the taxpayer has no say on who is appointed. None of the various EU presidents or other top officials are directly elected by the people within member states. Many of these appointments are "cooked up" in deals between the politicians of dominant countries. Furthermore, 98% of the EU's regulatory activity is conducted by a myriad of committees with a lack of transparency and democratic scrutiny - a process known as 'comitology'.
The European Parliament is the only directly elected body in the EU but it can hardly be called a proper parliament. It cannot propose new legislation, has limited financial powers, and strictly confines debate. Around €200 million is squandered every year by moving the parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month.
Brussels has the second highest concentration of lobbyists in the world, after Washington DC. Lobbyists pursuing vested interests may even outnumber EU civil servants working in the public interest. There are at least 30,000 lobbyists and their registration is only voluntary, so the full extent and nature of lobbying is hidden. It is estimated that lobbying influences 75% or more of all EU legislation. In excess of €1.5 billion is spent on lobbying the EU each year. Examples of "successful" EU lobbying include: many more cars fuelled by diesel, despite it releasing more harmful pollutants than petrol; and the replacement of incandescent light bulbs by more expensive lamps which contain poisonous mercury.
As well as being only weakly democratic, the EU is probably the most unwieldy and complicated body of governance ever devised. Its bloated bureaucracy, inefficiency, wastage and proneness to fraud and corruption are legendary but proven. €6½ billion of its expenditure in 2014 was flagged as dubious by the Court of Auditors and an estimated £675 million was lost to fraud last year. The EU's rules and regulations (or acquis) for member states run to over 714,000 pages and 310 million words. Ongoing crises regarding the euro and illegal immigration starkly demonstrate the EU's ineffectiveness.
Each of the top 200 earners in the 'rich list' of EU officials cost the taxpayer between £204,678 and £402,020 every year. Around 10,000 EU officials are paid more than the UK's Prime Minister. The average rich list official receives 10 times more money every year than the average UK worker; and on average, officials on the rich list each pay £50,000 less tax than they would in the UK.
EU membership burdened the UK with an estimated cost of between 4% and 12% of GDP, or £2,300 to £7,000 for every household every year. Over half this sum was spent solely in complying with EU regulations. Just the nominal fee for EU membership was around £350 million every week. We got back a rebate (negotiated by Margaret Thatcher) of £100 million at the discretion of the EU, and £90 million of EU-controlled funding for subsidies, grants, etc. After these deductions we were still £160 million out of pocket.
Often mistakenly referred to as a "free trade area", the EU is really a customs union. Trade is relatively free within the EU, but stiff tariffs and controls exist for external trade. A consequence of the EU's protectionism is the impoverishment of Third World countries which cannot afford EU tariffs or compete with its subsidised production. The penalties of these trade barriers are several times greater than the benefits of foreign aid. The TTIP agreement negotiated in secret between the EU and the USA could have led to significant and irreversible dismemberment or privatisation of the NHS and public utilities.
The EU is declining relative to the Commonwealth, China and other emerging markets. No longer tied to EU trade agreements, the UK will progressively be able to negotiate its own trade deals with these blocs.
The UK is the largest purchaser of EU goods and services, so it is obvious that the EU will want to continue trading with the UK after it leaves the EU. There are 3-4 million UK jobs which depend on continuing trade with the EU, regardless of membership.
The UK's influence on the EU's ruling bodies diminished greatly since its accession (see figure) and this would reduce even further as the EU expands. Since records began in 1996, the UK had not managed to prevent a single proposal placed in front of the Council of the European Union from becoming European law. This amounted to 72 measures which went on to eventually become British law against our wishes and best interests.
Germany utterly dominates the EU, both politically and financially. Its economy is about equal in size to the 20 smallest EU economies combined. What Angela Merkel wants, the EU invariably gets, including her assuagement of national shame by encouraging mass immigration of mostly Muslim all-comers.
NATO has been far more important to keeping the peace in Europe than the EU, whose military interventions have generally failed. The EU's policies have caused dangerous civil unrest and very high unemployment in southern Europe. Brushing democracy aside, the EU engineered coups d'état in Greece and Italy and openly supported the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine. The EU's failure to control illegal mass migration has allowed numerous gangs of Islamic extremists and terrorists to infiltrate European countries. Astonishingly, the EU spends more on Euro-propaganda than it does on counter-terrorism.
To further assert its status as a superstate, the EU is determined to develop its own armed forces via the 'Common Security and Defence Policy' defined in Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty. These forces can even override the proven peacekeeper in Europe, NATO. Funding has already been approved by the European Parliament and member states' military resources are increasingly being shared or pooled.
All the current potential candidates for EU membership have significantly lower living standards than the UK and its higher wages and generous welfare benefits would be attractive to large numbers of migrants from these states. Notably, if Turkey did manage to extort EU membership on the back of the migrant chaos, it would probably be the largest country in the EU by population (currently 79 million and growing rapidly), consisting almost entirely of Muslims. Turkey would have the maximum permitted number of MEPs (96 as opposed to the UK's 73) and maximum voting weight in the Council of the European Union. Turkish authorities still deny the genocide of 2.8 million non-Muslims between 1909 and 1923 by Ottoman jihadists.
However, contrast this promise with the briefing paper for MPs which stated: “[This Bill] does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions.”↩