I must start this blog by warning you that I’m not convinced I will be able to make my usual 600 word limit. To be quite honest with you there is so little in David Cameron’s ‘deal’ (and for the duration that word shall be in inverted commas) for me to analyse that I fear this piece may be quite short. Let us start with a little bit of background.
In May, David Cameron was elected with a pledge to bring about fundamental reform in Europe, he did not. You wouldn’t necessarily notice from the rhetoric, words like ‘reformed European Union’ and ‘special status’ have been thrown around by the In campaign without any real substance to back them up. On the former, the only thing that this negotiation has proven is that a reformed European Union is impossible. If the threat of the world’s fifth largest economy leaving cannot induce any serious reform, then nothing can.
As for the latter, the UK does indeed have a special status in Europe, we always have. We have a special status in that, even in just the period 2009-2015, we have been voted against 13.3% of the time, that compared to Germany and Austria who are the second most voted against countries on just over five percent (http://www.theguardian.com/world/datablog/2015/nov/02/is-uk-winner-or-loser-european-council). To phrase that differently, we have been voted down more than twice as often as the next countries. So yes Mr Cameron, we do have a special status in Europe, and voting for your ‘deal’ will only reinforce that status!
Is it even worthy of the word ‘deal’ in inverted commas? It does, after all, have all the legal status of a handshake. This is not just opinion, that this deal is not legally binding comes from the mouth of several respected lawyers, as well as from the Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove. So in essence the Prime Minister is asking you to vote for a ‘deal’ which is not worth the paper it is printed on. He is asking you to vote for a promise. So the real question on June 23rd is ‘Do you trust the EU to reform itself?’
The headline of the ‘deal’, if one can find a headline, is the opt-out from closer political union. To me, this only confirms two things. One, it confirms once and for all that the true intention of the European Union is to create a so-called United States of Europe, and thus that the long-term aspirations of this organisation to which we are attached in statehood in its own right. Secondly, this opt-out confirms that we have no opt-out, in a roundabout way. Consider this: the European Union currently has the ability to legislate in a wide and significant number of UK policy areas, while we may have been promised an opt-out from any further integration, in the status quo this integration exists to a large extent, and so once the European Union takes up its single state aspiration, we will be a puppet state to it. We will exist at the whim of a larger state, with no more status than Western Sahara.
The rest of Mr Cameron’s ‘fundamental reform’ is essentially an extension of the status quo, all bar the sections where it talks about not standing in the way of further integration or the implementation of legislation affecting the Euro areas, or the vague ‘emergency’ brake.
Mr Cameron went to Brussels with a mandate to bring back fundamental reform, spent several months negotiating, and managed to come back with less than he started with. This ‘deal’ is not a deal, it is a meaningless piece of paper. It has no legal status. It brings no reforms.
In June, when David Cameron asks you, ‘Deal?’ The only answer is ‘No Deal!’