Needs must, so no apologies from me for presenting you with another article in our feature ‘From Behind The Paywall’ today. The article in question is by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (a.k.a. AEP) and was written in the wake of the pronunciation of the prorogation of Parliament.
The title is “Brexit is vibrant democracy in the raw: it is Europe that risks sliding under authoritarian control” (paywalled link). He is firstly looking at the hysterical comments in continental papers and compares them to the actual damage done by the EU to Democracy in various membership countries. Having thus set the scene, and after declaring his – lukewarm – attitude to the prorogation, AEP lets rip:
“The headlines across the European media have been predictably Gothic, echoing one side of the internal UK debate without a Fingerspitzengefühl [tact or flair] for what is just pantomime and what is not.
“Thus end democracies,” led “Die Zeit”. It accused Boris of resorting to the method of “despots”. “Deutsche Welle” called him a “dictator”.
I would certainly agree that democracy is at risk – and can die – but not particularly in Britain. For whatever you think of Brexit, you cannot with a straight face call it anti-democratic, unless of course it is ultimately thwarted by those aiming to lock us back inside the cage.
Can the same be said so confidently of Europe? The EU is composed of democracies (some more deeply-rooted than others). It has democratic elements such as the European Parliament. But it is not a democracy.
It is a supranational regime guided by a Commission with quasi-executive powers that operates as an ideological priesthood. Belgian and French historians compare it to the European imperial systems of the early 20th century with their hybrid structures and showpiece native assemblies.
The insidious effect of this centralised power is to bleed the lifeblood of the national institutions. It saps their legitimacy. It infantilises the member states by usurping their functions. This changes them over time.” (paywalled link)
It certainly has infantilised our institutions, e.g. Parliament and Whitehall whose members nevertheless regard themselves as less infantilised than we, the plebs who must be told what to do, incessantly. AEP continues:
“As I wrote at the time of the referendum, Lord Sumption (a former Supreme Court judge) gave an elegant description of how democracies die, though as ardent Remainer he fails to see how well this fits the EU itself.
“They are slowly drained of what makes them democratic, by a gradual process of internal decay and mounting indifference, until one suddenly notices that they have become something different, like the republican constitutions of Athens or Rome, or the Italian city-states of the Renaissance,” ….. Or the once vibrant liberal democracies of Europe in the early 21st century?
This EU regime is not elected in any meaningful sense. Voters cannot remove it when it persists in error, as it did eight years ago by driving Europe into economic depression and caused levels of youth unemployment long thought impossible in a modern civilized society. Nobody has ever been held to account for these failures.” (paywalled link)
In the following paragraphs AEP gives chapter and verse:
“Yes the EU is a soft empire, but it ceases to be soft when challenged, as became clear during the eurozone crisis when it toppled the non-compliant premier of Greece (George Papandreou had the temerity to call for a vote on the EU austerity package) and replaced him with a technocrat (a former vice-president of the European Central Bank).
It happened again in Italy in 2011 when it toppled premier Silivio Berlusconi and replaced him with another technocrat (ex-EU commissioner) who then delivered drastic and self-defeating austerity as demanded by the German finance ministry.
That episode is revealing. We know from one kiss-and-tell book (Bini-Smaghi) that the decision was made after Berlusconi began to talk of leaving the euro. One former ECB governor told me how these punishment beatings occur: “They threaten governments that misbehave with financial destruction. They cut off refinancing and threaten to kill the banking system. They create a roll-over crisis in the bond market. This what happened to Italy in 2011.”
A variant of this was done to Greece in 2015 when the ECB raised the pressure against the rebel Syriza government by dialing down liquidity to private banks – illegally, since they had done nothing wrong – until the money finally ran out in the cash machines and Alexis Tsipras capitulated.” (paywalled link)
Is that how Signor Salvini was suddenly ‘replaced’? It all goes to show how important a good memory is, combined with excellent insider’s knowledge! The question next raised by AEP certainly deserves an answer:
“There has never been a proper airing of how the ECB was able to write secret letters to the Italian and Spanish leaders ordering detailed changes to labour and social law, and fiscal policy, and even the Spanish constitution, while holding a gun to their head on bond purchases. We do not know who was responsible for anything because power was exercised through a shadowy interplay of elites in Berlin, Frankfurt, Brussels, and Paris – and still is.
These methods smack of monetary dictatorship. There was never a whisper of protest from “Die Zeit” or “Deutsche Welle” at the time.
The missionary press corps in Brussels is invariably complicit. When one of their colleagues – a German reporter from “Focus” investigating EU abuses – was arrested on trumped up charges and held incommunicado as the police went [through] all his notes and computers, and burned all his investigative sources, none rose to his defence.
When the Commission’s chief accountant revealed abuses in the EU’s internal finances the Brussels press corps closed ranks in silence. It is a curious tribal reflex. Call it what you want but it is not what we in Britain would take for a free press that speaks truth to power.” (paywalled link)
If Brexit is scuppered, then we will be forced to accept the euro, the financial abuses, the debts. To continue:
“Ultimately, the logic of monetary union is incompatible with democratic self-government. It can be made to work over time only by moving to fiscal union, giving Brussels control over taxation, spending, and the core economic policies of nation states.
Prof Otmar Issing – the disillusioned founding father of the euro – says fiscal union must eviscerate the budget powers of the Bundestag and fellow parliaments. It goes to the essence of what it means to be a democracy, he says, and forgets the lessons of the English Civil War and the American Revolution.
For me the line was crossed when the EU smuggled through the Lisbon Treaty, enabled by a Merkel-Sarkozy executive stitch-up, after the text had already been rejected by French and Dutch voters in its earlier guise. It is one thing to advance the European Project by stealth and the Monnet method, it is another to override the outcome of a plebiscite.
And Lisbon matters. It extended the jurisdiction of the European Court to all areas on Union law for the first time (not just Community law), and arguably over everything by making the Charter of Fundamental Rights justiciable.” (paywalled link)
We’ve been saying that since the start of the Referendum Campaign in 2016. This is what Remain is carelessly sweeping under their Remain Carpet. The final paragraphs are explosive:
“Ireland alone held a referendum on Lisbon. When the Irish people voted no, they were made to vote again, just as they were made to vote again when they rejected the Nice Treaty.
This is the EU method. All votes that go its way are conquered ground, Acquis forever. All votes that go against are to be massaged, reworked, and ultimately recast until they go the right way … until Brexit, the referendum that the EU must reckon with.
The last three years have been messy for British democracy but have also been intoxicatingly vibrant. The fights have been conducted through Parliament, the courts, the press, and on the streets through passionate but peaceful civic protest. There has been nothing like theGilets Jaunes here. And let us hope that Boris’s rash move does not precipitate it. In short, British democracy is in rude good health.
“Die Zeit” should peel away the layers of obfuscation and euro-Kitsch and look more closely at Europe’s upper level of government: its reflexes and enforcement methods, its accretion of unaccountable power, its co-opted press, and the authoritarian logic of monetary union. That is where democracy is dying. It is half dead already.” (paywalled link)
‘Acquis forever’ indeed! And our Remainers want to see us chained to that dying, half-dead EU “democracy”. It defies reason.
Brexit stands for Freedom. Remain stands for serfdom and vassalage. That’s all.