Err, Sir Brian?

Via Tim I see this letter in the Times.

Sir, You say that anything more than administrative changes in the EU treaty “must require a referendum and therefore a referendum is required” (“Cold Calculations”, leading article, Oct 23), and the Tories taunt the Prime Minister with the accusation that his reason for refusing a referendum is his fear of losing it.

In fact, that’s one, although not the only, perfectly rational and honourable reason for not holding a referendum. Not only the Tories but much of the Europhobic press would exploit the worst kinds of anti-European xenophobic prejudice to secure a “no” vote, not out of any genuine opposition to specific provisions of a treaty whose main purposes you yourself admit are necessary after EU expansion, but in the unacknowledged hope of bringing about Britain’s eventual exit from the EU.

If that is their aim, they should come clean about it: a referendum on British membership, as now advocated by the Lib Dems, could be a healthy way to lance the boil.

But for the UK, probably alone of all EU member states, to reject a treaty regarded by every single EU government as sound and necessary would make us the pariahs of the union, and may well result in our expulsion from it, an outcome that only a minority of the electorate seems to want.

Brian Barder
HM Diplomatic Service, 1965-94
London SW18

Now I don\’t just want the UK to leave the EU: I want the EU to not exist. Certainly, that makes mine an extreme opinion. But what would, despite it coming from such an acknowledged extremist such as myself, make the federast case a great deal stronger would be a proper cost benefit analysis of the UK\’s membership.

Like, perhaps, this one done by Patrick Minford?

Ah, sorry, my mistake. The reason that a cost benefit analysis is not done by said federasts is that it wouldn\’t support their case: the costs are vastly higher than the benefits. Thus we should leave, whatever else the Continentals want to get up to. If they wish to impoverish themselves then it\’s a free world, isn\’t it? No good reason that we should follow them down the plughole though.

8 comments on “Err, Sir Brian?

  1. Yup, agreed.

    I used to think that the EU was a great idea (free trade, free movement of workers and so on) until I started looking at facts and figures a couple of years ago, the whole thing is a massive scam pulled by lobbyists and quangista.

  2. Interesting that a man whose life has been dedicated to the interests of our nation should look so warmly on an instition that wishes our country’s demise. It rather explains the mess we find ourselves in.

  3. “and may well result in our expulsion from it”

    One fact of which we can all be quite certain is that as long as we keep paying the subscription to this club we’ll never be expelled and even then . . .

    However, given his use of blood-curdling but patently exaggerated statements, may I ask if Mr Barder is related to the new Lord Stern by any chance?

  4. When are you coming back to the UK to fight the good fight then, Tim? Or are you more of a ‘king over the water’ figure?

    Tim adds: Once I’ve got myself back on the electoral roll then I will be visiting at least to fight that good fight. Might even become resident again for tax: EEK!

  5. Surely given there was a UK referendum on membership, which was overwhelmingly (more than 2:1 for, and a majority in 66/68 regions), and polls showed continued support in almost all member states, the case needs to be made for leaving, not remaining a member. There was a referendum which confirmed membership.

    Minford’s language in that paper is unhinged: ‘a monstrous conspiracy by a few in Germany, Italy and France’ . Cue X-files music.

  6. Matthew, which referendum was that?

    Certainly you are correct the vote should be on whether we leave, not on whether we stay. That is afterall what the result would mean: change or no change. However, the point is we should have a vote on it.

  7. Sigh,
    “Surely given there was a UK referendum on membership, which was overwhelmingly (more than 2:1 for, and a majority in 66/68 regions), and polls showed continued support in almost all member states, the case needs to be made for leaving, not remaining a member. There was a referendum which confirmed membership. ”

    And that was 33 years ago. Noone under the age of 50 voted in it. It was about remaining in the *Common Market*, not the EEC, EC or EU. This is not a minor quibble: it is the very essence of the discontent: the campaigning at the time made very clear that the Common Market was NOT supposed to be a political construct.

    It was a lie then, and it is patent nonsense now. It is utterly disingenuous to rely on the 1974 referendum now and you know it.

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