Dear Mr MacShane,
Re your Speech European Law and Integration.
Joining the then European Community believing it to be about trade and a free trade area is, according to you a “myth”. You quote various snippets from some of the debates in our Parliament from before we joined the European Community. Whilst I agree with you that the legislators in both Houses knew, and that it was perfectly clear that they were about to take (using your own words) “a step that had serious implications in terms of “sharing” sovereignty in some areas covered by the then constitutional treaties defining the European Community” and that there was “no doubt that European law and the European Court would have been superior to British Courts”, this certain knowledge was, without doubt, most certainly kept from the then gullible public.
In the Government Research Paper 96/82 page 40 reinforces my one point, “For many years the UK courts managed to avoid having to pronounce directly and unequivocally on the supremacy or otherwise of Community Law in relation to traditional Diceyan sovereignty. Some early case law even suggested that the doctrine of ‘implied repeal’ still applied so that later UK statutory provisions would prevail over inconsistent Community law after 1972. Generally though, potential conflicts between UK and Community law were reconciled and resolved through techniques of statutory interpretation and construction, although this approach had its limits if the conflict was apparently irreconcilable. This point came to widespread public and Parliamentary attention in the Factortame cases concerning Spanish owned fishing vessels, (see esp. Lord Bridge  AC 603, 658-9) where the House of Lords appeared unequivocally to accept the supremacy of European law in appropriate cases”.
There is more of course but it kind of shoots down your argument that we knew or were told that the European Community was to become a full political and social Union, in fact should the “Treaty ESTABLISHING a Constitution for Europe” be ratified, it will, as you well know, eventually become one State of Union for it is most definitely not, “just another Treaty”. It is the other “treaties” that will be repealed should the “Treaty ESTABLISHING a Constitution for Europe” come into being leaving only the EU constitution and the mechanism with which to install it.
Up until the present time, we, the people have been told that all we would have to do to come out of this Union would be to repeal the European Communities Act. (See Lord Denning’s ruling on this-repudiation of the treaties also) You give the impression that this method would also apply if we accepted the EU Constitution. Why then, is there an ‘exit clause’ that, having ratified the EU Constitution with that clause in, and accepted that method of withdrawal, how on earth could you go on pretending that the EU constitution “is just another treaty”? It would take about two years to come out and even then it would need all the other countries to agree.
Your constant childish ‘name calling’ of people that are true to their allegiance to their own Country as “Anti-European”, is not worthy of a man of your years or position in government, and eventually may bring about the retort from those that prefer to be governed by a British Government, as Anti-British.
Looking back at old records of the debates on the subject of the European Community, and remembering that there was no “Internet” then, the same arguments were going on in Parliament all those years ago that are going on in this present day. Let me see, if I can, how much the people were told about the Community in those days?
I will commence with 3rd August 1961 and by Mr Shinwell, “In the course of the Lord Privy Seal’s speech, I ventured to ask him a simple question, quite relevant to his speech. It was whether he would state precisely the conditions upon which negotiations were to proceed. His reply was astonishing. He said that it was not in the public’s interest to disclose the Government’s intentions. What does that mean? It means either that Government have no clear idea of what they intend to propose in the course of consultations or negotiations with the representatives of the Common Market, or that they are asking the House for a blank cheque.”
The electors are not to be allowed to express an opinion about whether the Government’s policy is right and desirable in their interests. There is no question, even when the negotiations are concluded, whether satisfactorily or not, of asking the electors to state whether they accept the Government’s decision”.
16th November 1966. Sir D Walker-Smith. “Two truths are surely apparent-first, that over a wide range of our national life there would be an immediate abandonment of sovereignty and our constitutional principle of the sovereignty of Parliament. The second truth is that, so far, the British people have very little idea of what is involved.”
Further on a Mr F Bellenger said, ”We must make it clear to the British public just what they will have to face if we join the Common Market, and while I am sure that an immense task lies ahead in relation to the legal references made by the right hon., and learned Gentleman, particularly in terms of changes in our statute law, the British people at large must understand precisely what is happening. I agree, nevertheless, that we must consider the legal implications, including the question of Britain’s sovereignty”.
Mr Orm in the same debate, “It has been said that the British people do not fully understand what is involved in our entry to the Common Market. This is true, and I am hoping that the continuing debates on this matter will get the facts across to our people. It is not just a matter of an increase in food prices, serious as they may be; it is not simply the effect on our economy, the distribution of our industry and our future development, or our social services. It is also to do with how the Community is operated and controlled. The Community is undemocratic”. (So the legislative knew that fact even then)
Mr Jennings, “The question of sovereignty or loss of sovereignty and political union in a political union in a federal United States of Europe has been swept nicely, beautifully and quietly under the carpet. It is almost a sin to talk about it.” (And there it stayed, “under the carpet”). And a little later on he goes on to say, “But the ordinary man in the street has no conception of what he will lose in rights and privileges that he now enjoys, even in a denigrated Britain, which is the attitude that many people tend to adopt”. …….”It is easy to talk glibly about going into Europe. That is the way that it is put over to the electorate. “Let us go into Europe” is the theme. We never attempt to say what we mean by going into Europe, but just what do we mean? Do we mean trade? Is that all?”
Mr Thomson quotes “from my right hon. friend the Prime Minister. He said, “The whole history of political progress is a history of gradual abandonment of national sovereignty…One cannot talk about world government on one breath and then start drooling about the need to preserve national sovereignty in the next….The question is not whether sovereignty remains absolute or not, but in what way one is prepared to sacrifice sovereignty, to whom and for what purpose. That is the real issue before us. The question is whether any proposed surrender of sovereignty will advance or retard our progress to the kind of world we all want to see” (Official Report, 3rd August 1961: Vol 645, c 1667) And you sir, speak of Pooling Sovereignty? World Government eh?
There are many, many more quotes, and yes, I have many pages of them, and as at Maastricht when Parliamentarians were reputed not have read the actual treaty they were about to ratify, in these old debates too it becomes obvious that many MP’s of those days had not read the Treaty of Rome that applied to the “Common Market” they were trying so hard to join, in fact there is quite an argument about it.
You say reading of the debates (you quoted) gives lie to those who claim that Parliament was unaware in 1972 what it was agreeing to. I agree the LEGISLATURE knew very well indeed what it was getting into, but the people were not told the truth then and they are not being told the truth now. Remember this bit Mr MacShane? “ The Common Law will remain the basis of our legal system, and our Courts will continue to operate as they do at present. In certain cases however they would need to refer points of Community Law to the European Court of Justice. All the essential features of our law will remain, including the safeguards for individual freedom such as trial by Jury and habeas corpus and the principle that a man is innocent until proved guilty, as well as the law of contract and tort (and its Scottish equivalent), the law of landlord and tenant, family law, nationality law and land law.”
The Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Civil Contingences Act and now the Serious Organised Crime Agency that is going through Parliament will remove much of the above and the latter, as they will not swear allegiance to the Crown, will eventually come under Europol.
We have heard the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights likened to “the Beano” comic. That even Golf Clubs have “Constitutions”, and that the EU constitution is “just another Treaty”, and that most of what is IN it, has already been in previous Treaties. No Mr MacShane, the people have not been told the truth at all, nor the effect incorporating the EU Constitution into our system will have on our Country.
To really find out what effect saying “Yes” to the EU constitution would do, I suggest that you and the people of this Country take heed of what Hans Martin Bury, the Foreign Minister for Germany has to say on the subject. He said,” This Constitution (not “treaty”) is, in spite of all justified calls for further regulations, a milestone. Yes, it is more than that. The EU constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe”.
I will make one observation, and that is the extraordinary welcome by this Government to Sinn Féin a few years ago, and how it is viewed now. Yet this Government knew all along that “Sinn Féin sought an end to partition which is, in their eyes, the cause of conflict, injustice and division in Ireland and that Sinn Féin is an Irish Republican Party. Their objective is to end British Rule in Ireland. (that is from their Website) Just as all those that wish to integrate fully in every way into the European Union and happily destroy this Country’s Constitution in order to do it. To all those that belittle those that would protect their own County’s Constitution and be true to their oaths of allegiance to their Queen and Country, I say that the tide will turn and soon the situation will be as it is with the Irish Republican Party at present.
The EU will disintegrate, whether before the EU constitution is ratified or not remains to be seen, but it will end in terrible bitter conflict. The fault will fall on all those that did not dare to spell out the true meaning of the requirement for a European Constitution.
While we are busy reducing our forces, the army, navy etc, and while we are eagerly following all EU Regulation re competition, etc, other Countries are not. While we are disarming and reducing our forces, others have conscription and rearming quite strongly. To me it is déjà vu, the 1930’s all over again.
All of our Members of Parliament, will have to decide soon, do they want to govern this Country, to actually earn the money the people pay them, or do they want to go down in history as the government that has given this Country away and continue to have laws and an alien constitution foisted upon us, which nothing we can say or do can alter or block them. Or, do we obey our own Constitutional laws we have had in this Country for hundreds of years, even though we have had to fight to keep them rather than be ruled by others in the past, and which we are duty bound to fight to protect and keep.
The myths you speak of Sir, are your own, especially ”The Constitutional Treaty is not only a simplification of the existing forest of interlocking Treaties, but encapsulates many of these British themes”. As Minister for Europe, you appear to have forgotten the meaning of a “True Brit”, that is your loss sir, not mine. My solemn oath of allegiance remains to the Crown and this country for all time coming.
As this is about our Constitution, this is an open letter.
As this is about our Constitution, this is an open letter.