David Cameron is to finally give his EU speech this Friday and it is clear it will already fail to meet the incredibly low expectations it already holds.
The mixed messages give us reason to distrust whatever Cameron says. He sends out Cabinet ministers to say the choice will be in or out, but he himself says an in or out vote is a ‘false choice’. It is worth noting that Cameron has written the speech himself.
In that context, therefore, we have reason to believe the choice will be in or ‘inner’. If we reject Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’, then we have the status quo. If this isn’t the case, why has Cameron ruled out and spoken against an in/out vote? Again, it is his speech. The only person we should be listening to on this is the PM.
But the referendum is the end point of the Cameron strategy. He assures us he can renegotiate and that his new settlement will be beneficial for the UK.
So let’s look at what he needs to reform, or can’t.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights would be a good start. The most crucial one is the ‘free movement’ clause, which opens British borders to the EU. A ‘right’ of the EU is for anyone to come and live anywhere in the EU. We need only cast our minds back to EU enlargement in 2004 when the Blair government said tens of thousands would come. Hundreds of thousands came. Now with every EU enlargement, our borders are open to all from much poorer states. Consequently, the rules on social security and welfare open up our benefits system to those who have not paid in. It is completely unfair.
The problem, however, is Cameron’s form. By accepting the Lisbon Treaty he has legitimised the Charter because it’s incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty. Open borders are a defacto policy of EU membership.
Then there’s the march to fiscal union. It hasn’t gone away or been vetoed. Article 16 incorporates it into EU law by 2017. This is one year before Cameron’s EU referendum date. There are no plans to stop this process, so while we are governed by EU law, we will find ourselves in a fiscal union. This is the opposite of what Cameron is promising.
The facts point to one thing – Cameron is using this as an election pitch and not a statement of principle or belief that Britain should be sovereign. If he did, there would be an in/out vote this parliament and he would lead the charge out. It’s a shame his heart isn’t with the British people.