Personally I covered many episodes where I saw this close up, like the European constitution which I covered in the Convention when they drafted it. It was initially supposed to restore civic faith in the Project — and remove the EU from the `nooks and crannies’ of national life — after the rejection of the Euro in Scandinavian states and a whole lot of anti-EU riots. The idea behind this was to bring Europe closer to the people, but in fact it was completely hijacked by the Euro elite. and on the presidium. Those who brought forward proposals saying, well, we don’t think the EU should be doing this, that these matters should be left in the hands of the nation states, they were overruled and treated with contempt. The convention was hijacked and eventually when the document came through, there were referenda as you know all over Europe. It was rejected in France, was rejected by an even bigger majority in the Netherlands.
It should have died then, but instead it was brought back. It was Angela Merkel who brought it back as the Lisbon Treaty, and I have never forgiven her for this. They pushed it through by Executive order. At that point France had a new government and Sarkozy decided for internal political reasons he’d go along with it. They ran it through the Lisbon treaty without a vote, and the one country that had a vote was Ireland, and Ireland said no. So they just told Ireland: you are disqualified, go and vote again, this is intolerable.
They simply ran roughshod over the popular will of Europe. And it is one thing to slip through these treaties without a vote the way they always used to do, but do so after a clear categorical rejection by the people in the referendum, to ignore this then to push it through without a vote is shocking. This is what they did. They pretend it is a different document, but by 99pc of the Lisbon Treaty it is the same damned thing as the European Constitution. And the crucial point is that this treaty creates a much more powerful European Court of Justice; it turns the ECJ into a Supreme Court. It makes huge areas of the EU law justiceable before the EU court.
This has far reaching implications and that is why Britain is withdrawing from all of this, from all the justice and home affairs stuff, we are pulling out of the whole thing. We had an opt-out when the Lisbon treaty came in, precisely because of these dangers. We are now exercising it; we’re getting out of it. Britain is in effect leaving the EU and so, and to get back to your point, I was, I used to be in favour of it, but having followed it very closely, within the belly of the beast, I’ve seen how it works. I just felt that it was endlessly pushing and pushing and pushing, acquiring power without first securing popular support from within the member states, going beyond any sensible distribution of power between Europe and the nation states. I totally opposed this idea of political union. It is a terrible idea. And I know in Germany it is motherhood and apple pie, that everybody is in favour of a political union, but Germans should be careful because it could prove terribly destructive for Germany itself.
Germany has got a very successful democracy; it is a beacon of inspiration, it has got a constitutional court that is the only remaining body defending civil liberties in Europe any more, holding the European Court in check. Nobody questions the authenticity and vibrancy of German’s democracy. It is a tremendous success story, so why would you give it up?
My view is that we should challenge this assumption that a political union in Europe is good; it is not, it is very bad, it’s destructive to the achievements of Germany. Of course, in my own country, in Britain, we have a parliamentary system that goes back centuries. It has worked well and badly, but when it has worked badly we’ve been able to change it. It is not a bad record over time, so why would we give that up?
And then it is an absurd idea — that we need a leap forward to complete a new constitutional structure, that we need a constitutional revolution, and it is also passé, sort of twentieth century this idea that you can’t have medium sized democracies trading with each other in an open cooperative way, you have to have some sort of super state structure, it’s ridiculous.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who was born in 1957, is the international business editor of the British newspaper The Telegraph. He was the Telegraph’s Washington bureau chief in the 1990s. In 1997 he wrote a controversial book about the Clinton administration, “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories” (Regnery Publishing). In the same year he left Washington. Until 2004 he served as the Telegraph’s EU correspondent in Brussels. Before joining the Telegraph, he has worked for The Spectator (in Washington under Reagan/Bush I) and The Economist (in Latin America). Mr. Evans-Pritchard attended Malvern College, Trinity College, Cambridge University, and La Sorbonne.