Many thanks for that warm introduction. It is great to be here and see so many supporters of the cause of rebuilding Britain’s independence from Brussels.
I admire your commitment, enthusiasm, dedication and instinctive patriotism.
I have just been writing a book about Britain in 1940, when the threat of German invasion loomed over the country, and these are precisely the qualities that ensured our national salvation. But I fear that Winston Churchill, the man who gave the roar to the British lion, would have appalled to see today how our sovereignty and democracy have been so diminished by the ideologues of the European Union.
It is an honour to share this platform with other distinguished speakers, but another book I wrote reminded me of the vicissitudes of being a public figure. When I was research a biography of Geoff Boycott, the famous Yorkshire and England cricketer, I had the good fortune to meet Mike Denness, who captained the Test side during the disastrous tour of Australia when the fast bowling of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson meant England lost 4-1. So Mike Denness was a figure of some public scorn, as he found out when he returned to his home in Kent. One more, he heard the post landing on his doormat. He went to pick it up and there was an envelope, on which was written: “To Mike Denness, cricketer.” There was no house name, no number, no street, no town, no postcode. And when he opened the envelope, he found this message inside:
“Dear Mr Denness, If this letter ever reaches you, the Post Office thinks an awful lot more of you than I do.”
And stepping out in public has always had its problems, as George Brown, the Labour Foreign Secretary of the 1960s found out. As some of you might know, Brown was a charismatic, dynamic politician but he had a disturbing fondness for drink. One evening he even had to be fished out of the gutter outside the French embassy. On another occasion, he attended an evening reception and again was the worse for wear. So when he entered the hall, with the music playing in the background, he was captivated by the sight of a figure in a shimmering red dress.
With the music still wafting through the hall, he went up to the figure in the red dress and asked, “My dear, would you care to share this waltz?”
“Certainly not,” came the reply. “Why ever not?” said Brown, slightly affronted.
“There are three reasons, Foreign Secretary. Firstly you’re drunk; secondly this isn’t a waltz, it is the Peruvian national anthem; thirdly, I’m the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.
It was George Brown’s Labour colleague Hugh Gaitskell who gave one of the most powerful speeches ever made against our subjugation under Brussels rule, when in 1962, he warned that membership of the Common Market would ultimately be “the end of Britain as an independent state” and “the end of a thousand years of British history.”
Sadly, Gaitskell died within little more than a year of that ringing declaration. But his words have turned out to be all too tragically prophetic.
We are now less than a month away from the European Parliamentary Elections. Much of the media attention will focus on how well UKIP will perform, with some predictions that Nigel Farage’s party will top the poll. That would be a remarkable achievement for a party that does not even have a seat at Westminister and such an outcome would be a further indicator of the deepening frustration and hostility of much of the British public towards Brussels.
But on another level, these elections are a complete farce because the European Union is so profoundly UNDEMOCRATIC. This is an organisation that has complete contempt for the very concept of the people’s will. That impulse has been graphically displayed in referendums on European Treaties. So in 2004, for instance, when the electorates of Holland and France voted against the proposed EU constitution, Brussels just decided to draft a similar constitution through the Lisbon Treaty. When the Irish rejected against this, they were forced to vote again to make sure they came up with the right result.
The same undemocratic spirit is seen in the European Parliament, which is just a self-important talking shop. It is actually the third largest assembly in the world after the Chinese Politburo and the House of Lords. Neither of which, to say the least, are renowned for their accountability. The European Parliament’s impotence is not reflected in any sense of prudence. Incredibly, the assembly has a staff of 6,700 employees, 900 of whom are paid over £104,000 a year.
Real power in Brussels lies not with the Parliament but with the unelected, accountable, self-serving Commission. It is truly remarkable that so many people like the Suffragettes and the franchise reformers of the 19th century went through such struggles to ensure that all adults in Britain were given the vote.
Yet now, in the 21st century we are governed by a bunch of elitists who were just appointed to their offices. They are like the worst unelected aristocratic rulers of the past, cocooned by privilege and utterly disdainful of the people they rule.
Who elected Herman Van Rumpoy, the Belgian nonentity who is now President of the European Council?
Who elected Jose Manuel Barroso, now President of the European Commission who in his college days was a follower of Chairman Mao and headed the extremist outfit “the Revolutionary Movement of the Portugese Proletariat.”
European Foreign Policy is in the hands of Baroness Katherine Ashton, who had never been elected to any public position in her life but now receives at least £270,000-a-year as the External Affairs Commissioner. Before being made a peer by Tony Blair, she was an administrator for the unilateralist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vice-President of the National Council for One Parent Families and the chair of the Hertfordshire Health Authority, all roles that made her highly suitable to negotiate with the Mullahs of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Another recent example of this deeply anti-democratic impulse is the current campaign by the EU’s Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Lazlo Andor to force our Government to allow all European migrants to have full access to British benefits the moment they arrive in this country, regardless of the fact that such newcomers will have paid no taxes or national insurance. At present, he is taking a legal case against the British Government at the European Court of Justice to force through the removal of all social security restrictions for EU arrivals.
Andor’s campaign is an outrage. What business is it of his how we organise our welfare system? Who is he to demand that British taxpayers have to subsidize the lifestyles of foreigners who come here? This is a man who is a member of the Hungarian socialist, who studied economics at Karl Marx University in Budapest, and has never been elected to any public office.
This saga is a graphic symbol of how the EU is destroying our independence, with an unelected Hungarian socialist using the Europe’s institutions to dictate how we run our own country.
The European Union is so undemocratic, so disdainful of the public will because it is engaged in a colossal ideological project to create a new political entity, a federal superstate in which the nations of Europe because nothing more regional province. Nothing and no-one is allowed to stand in the way of this project.
“Ever closer union” has been the driving of the European Union since its first incarnation as the European Iron and Steel Community created in 1951. The entity’s very existence is predicated on political integration and the destruction of traditional nationhood.
Soon after his appointment Van Rompay declared: “The time of the homogenous nation state is over.” He added these words that should chill anyone who cherishes British independence: “In every member state, there are people who believe their country can survive along in the globalised world. IT IS MORE THAN AN ILLUSION. IT IS A LIE.”
In the same vein, only in February the Vice-President of the EU, Viviane Reding from Luxembourg urged that “the Eurozone should become the United States of Europe with the Commission as the Government.”
So there can be no doubt that as long as we remain in the European Union, we can never be a free independent nation. The entire thrust of European politics is in the opposite direction, towards federal unity. Indeed, the entrance to the Visitors’ Centre at the European Parliament is emblazoned with the words:
“National sovereignty is the root cause of most of the evils of our times. The only final remedy for this supreme and catastrophic evil is the federal union of the people.”
And who wrote those words? None other than Philip Kerr, the 11th Marquess of Lothian, who was a Foreign Office diplomat, fanatical federalist and leading advocate of appeasement before the Second World War. Even in 1940, as British ambassador in Washington, he was still seeking a peace deal with Hitler, which just shows how desperately misguided he was.
The project to create the United States of Europe explains why:
The EU is so obsessed with mass immigration, the demolition of our borders and the free movement of people across the Union. For a Europe without any boundaries is also a Europe without any national identities. In a continent of endless flux, we lose our traditional allegiances and instead become citizens of the new Europe. That is the theory. It is like a kind of demographic permanent revolution, which is no doubt why it appeals to that old Maoist Jose Manuel Barroso.
The dogma of unity also why Brussels has been so fixated with maintaining the single currency, even at a terrifying cost to the economies of Europe, especially in the countries of the south like Greece, Spain and Portugal. That cost has been paid not just in falling living standards and mass unemployment, but also the further collapse of national democracy, as Brussels effectively imposed new Prime Ministers on Italy and Greece. But for the EU ideologues the crisis in the Eurozone was not a disaster but a wonderful opportunity to impose their agenda by seizing control of national budgets and spending policies. The truth is that the creation of a single currency was never primarily an economic policy but rather was a vehicle for creating political unity. So it could never be abandoned, even as the Greeks rioted and the Spanish economy broke down.
We can see the push for European unity in so many other ways
Like in the creation of Baroness Ashton’s vast diplomatic empire, with a budget of £6.2 billion and a network of 137 embassies across the world. Why on earth does the EU need any embassies at all? This colossal diplomatic operation, with more than 7000 officials, even has an £2 million office in Barbados, with a staff of 39. Ashton’s Empire also has 37 staff in Papua New Guinea and 32 in Mozambique. And for what? Just so the EU can posture on the international stage.
There is also the endless propaganda from Brussels in favour of the creation of a new European identity. Did you know that according to the respected Open Europe research organisation, the EU spends about £2.4 billion-a-year on publicity, self-promotion, and campaigning. That is more than the global giant Coca-Cola spends on marketing and advertising.
The drive for unity is why we have to put up with talk of a European defence policy, the creation of the European wide arrest warrant, the endless push for harmonisation over everything from pensions to paternity leave, and the establishment of a European justice system. As Viviane Reding recently boasted – in direct contradiction of what Nick Clegg said during his useless performance in the media debates with Nigel Farage – 75 per cent of all our laws now originate in Brussels.
Personally, I could hardly be more saddened by this worsening diminution in our national status. I am in an odd – perhaps even unique – position. Born and brought up in Ulster, living in Belfast at the height of the Troubles – one reason I have always hated fanaticism and dogma.
But throughout my early life as an Ulsterman I was always that rarest of creatures, I was always a passionate Anglophile. I had a deep adoration for England and an instinctive love of English history. I always felt, growing up, that I would make this country my home. But that is why I am so disturbed at the loss of our heritage and national identity at the hands of Brussels – as Hugh Gaitskell so eloquently predicted.
And it is also why I am so strongly in favour of the promised referendum on our membership of the European Union. We have never had the chance of a vote before on this crucial question.
When the British people last had a vote, in 1975, it was only on a free trade association called the Common Market, not on a political union. The political class, particularly the leading pro-Europeans like Roy Jenkins and Ted Heath, knew full well that our membership would ultimately result in the obliteration of our national independence.
But that was never put to the British people at the time. We were constantly deceived and misled by the political class, as reflected in the bare-faced lie told by Ted Heath as he launched Britain’s bid for Common Market membership in 1971: “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified”.
So if – as the Tories plan – there is a referendum held in 2017, it will be the first chance that a national electorate has had a real chance to decide its own fate since the creation of the European Union. But we have to be aware that the pro-EU brigade will fight viciously in any referendum to defend our subservience to Brussels. Their tactics will be based, not on rational debate, but on SMEAR AND SCARE.
Opponents of European integration will be crudely labelled as xenophobes, racists, Little Englanders and reactionaries. We have already caught a glimpse of that in the hysterical reaction to the UKIP posters urging tighter controls on immigration. Given that 80 per cent of the country is fed up with immigration running at 500,000 new arrivals every single year, what the UKIP critics are effectively saying is that 80 per cent of the population is racist.
We will be spoon fed the defeatist message that we cannot survive on our own but only as part of a vast bloc, that in our increasingly globalised, competitive world, there is no room for nation states, only for economic superpowers.
We will be told that 3 million jobs are dependent on our membership of the EU, so if we leave we will suffer a disastrous increase in unemployment. All this is just nonsense, facile emotional blackmail rather than serious argument.
The idea that everyone who wants Britain to regain her independence is an inward-looking xenophobe is offensive. Indeed, it could be argued that those who desperately cling to Brussels are the insular ones, while those who advocate liberation from the EU’s straitjacket are outward looking and optimistic, more ready to embrace the wider world. Like most Britons, I adore much of Europe. Only last month, I was in Rome, marvelling at the Renaissance wonders of the Vatican. It is one of the dirty tricks of the Brussels lobby to equate exasperation with the EU with hostility to Europe. Indeed, one of the reasons most of us love places like France, Italy, Denmark and Spain is precisely because of their unique national qualities, which will be destroyed if we all become our entity.
It is equally absurd to pretend that we could not survive outside economically outside the governance of Barosso, Ashton and Rompuy.
What are the two most successful countries in mainland Europe: Yes, Norway and Switzerland? They manage perfectly well without the Eurocrats telling them what to do. They are successful precisely because they are free to follow their own economic path.
The claim that we have to be a member of the EU to trade with EU member states is just as ludicrous. Countries all over the world are making trade agreements with each other. Free trade is the future. Economic blocs belong to the past. Even if we left tomorrow, German companies would still want to sell us their cars, Italian fashion houses their clothes.
The cry that we can only trade if the Eurocrats are in charge is just the last desperate howl of the privileged elite who see their vested interests under threat.
There is nothing more grotesque than the pretence that the EU is an engine of prosperity and enterprise. Just the opposite is true. In its obsessions with regulation, harmonisation, and political control, Brussels had been a destroyer of jobs and economies.
That happens in a direct way through the single currency’s imposition of a uniform interest rate throughout the Eurozone. The best rate for export-led Germany can be a catastrophe for tourist-led Greece.
The ideological promotion of free movement has grossly distorted national labour markets. Here in Britain it has had the effect of putting tens of thousands out of work and driving down living standards for much of the working class. It never ceases to amaze me how Ed Miliband can bang on about the “cost of living crisis” yet whenever anyone dares to mention immigration, he starts screeching about xenophobia.
EU bureaucracy hinders rather than helps enterprise through its endless interference in the workplace. It is a telling fact that the Lord’s Prayer, the centrepiece of the Christian faith, has just 70 words, whereas the EU’s regulation on the “Marketing of Hazelnuts” contains 2509 words.
The idea that this is a dynamic organisation that could promote business is laughable. The whole EU is hopelessly bureaucratic, inward-looking, sclerotic and totally divorced from the real world or the needs of business. Just to give you some examples of the EU in operation:
The European Commission has no fewer than 3,325 officials who earn more than our own Prime Ministers. It is so full of waste, abuses and mismanagement that its accounts have not been given a clean bill of health by auditors for 19 years.
It dishes out ludicrous grants, like £630,000 for a “gender equal” wood design centre in Sweden, £154,000 for a puppet theatre network in the Baltic states and £350,000 to the Flying Gorillas, a British dance troupe whose twin specialities are “the smelly foot dance” and “spectacular belching”. Apparently, the aim of the troupe is “to use rhythm, music and gibberish to explore friendship and tolerance.” £150 million a year is spent just shuttling the European Parliament between Strasbourg and Brussels, purely to satisfy the vanity of French Eurocrats.
This spendthrift attitude is reflected within the EU’s own huge hierarchy. Because it is unelected and unaccountable, it is utterly unconcerned about efficiency or value for money. In 2012, for instance, the EU held a high level meeting in Brussels, attended by 76 officials as well as the President of the European Parliament, to agree a name for a corridor in one of its buildings. The meeting failed to reach a decision.
Most of us know about the prodigality of Members of the European Parliament, but I recently did some research on the perks and privileges enjoyed by the Commission, and was amazed at what I found:
- The Commission has 46,625 staff, most of them on salaries far beyond the dreams of well-qualified British workers.
- The Social and Economic Committee, which was described to me as “more or less pointless” has 722 staff, 107 of them on over £100,000-a-year.
- All officials working for the EU are provided with a generous “expatriation” allowance if they are working outside their native country. This is awarded at a flat rate of 16 per cent, and for a top official it can be worth at least £30,000-a-year.
- In additions officials can receive a household allowance of £143-a months, the payment of school fees to the tune of £212 per month, lucrative travel allowances, a pension of up to 70 per cent of their last salary payment and a daily “subsistence allowance” of £34-a-day.
The EU is always demanding that we, ordinary taxpayers, fork out more in the name of social solidarity, yet their well-paid staff all enjoy special EU tax rates of well below 20 per cent. It is no exaggeration to describe Brussels as one of Europe’s biggest tax havens, which puts all the EU bleating about the Isle of Man and Jersey into perspective.
One EU official admitted candidly to me that, because of the combination of low taxes and high perks, “this is the only job I have had where my net, post-tax pay is higher than my gross pay.”
The same excess can be seen in other working conditions. Officially staff get 24 days holiday a year plus public holidays, but flexitime means that many employees can be away for a quarter of the year. Absenteeism is also rife. Last December, official figures showed that staff at the Commission took 14.6 days off sick, more than three times the rate of the British workforce.
The EU is rotten to the core. It is terrifying that this expensive, extravagant body is in charge of our lives and ruling our country. It is a gigantic extortion racket that we in Britain are forced to subsidize through our contribution to the tune of £14 billion a year.
We are not only paying for the EU’s epic, failing, undemocratic bureaucracy. We are also paying for our own national demise.
The great rallying cry during the American War of Independence was “no taxation without representation.” Taxation without representation is exactly what we have under the institutionalised larceny of the European Union.
I only hope that we get that referendum we so badly need and that, in the vote, the British – or English – people will grab the chance to bring back freedom.