Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Tories and Europe

One of my favourite bloggers nearly gets the point:

Under the terms of the 1972 Act it has always been clear that it was the duty of a United Kingdom court, when delivering final judgment, to override any rule of national law found to be in conflict with any directly enforceable rule of Community law. [...]
- Lord Bridge of Harwich, R v Secretary of State for Transport ex parte Factortame Ltd [1991] 1 AC 603, 658


By way of postscript, I remember asking my European Law professor whether there was any way of overturning the decision, or otherwise reasserting the sovereignty of Westminster. "Oh, yes", he replied breezily. "All you have to do is repeal the 1972 European Communities Act".

Whereas what the Cameroids are proposing is, according to Mr Dale (who ought to be reasonably up to speed on these things:

If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum.

s2(1) and s2(2) are the guilty barstewards. And, yes, these would have to be amended, or the Act itself could be repealed. Both would do the trick - the latter doing rather more than putting the obstacle of referenda in place of further transfers of power. But there is nothing stopping the next parliament amending the 1972 law?

The blogosphere raving about there being no further treaties (Lisbon being self-amending) is correct but irrelevant - Cameroonian is not saying "prohibit, by law, any further EU treaties without a referendum", is he? Read it. Okay, then remember he is a politician and read it very carefully and look for the loopholes, I'll grant you. "The transfer of power to the EU" - whether this comes via a new treaty, an amendment to Lisbon, or an EU Directive - any transfer of power. We are going to be sick and fed up of referenda before long (even if they lump them into biannual batches).

Oh, and M. Lellouche? UK influence in Europe will last as long as we are net contributors to the EU budget. Threaten the money sump each French farmer is personally granted? Well, we'd need to find a politician with a spine and as Dan Hannan has just resigned from his front bench position, we're going to have a problem with that (found one, but he'll never be PM either) but it would get us direct attention in the corridors (same word in French as in English) of power.

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