Tuesday 20 October 2009

Gerald Warner and the Song of Songs of unsophistication

The Telegraph has amassed a group of columnists guaranteed to keep British anti-EU feeling high and ignorance profound.

No wonder that the sophistication of Europhiles becomes the object of a scathing attack by Gerald Warner in “A ratified Lisbon Treaty 'cannot be abrogated'. So, are the Czechs still in the Warsaw Pact?” (The Telgraph, 20 October 2009).

In short, Warner argues for a UK referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty, after its entry into force, an abrogation of the amending treaty and a unilateral return to the ‘status quo ante’.


Warner is not far from the truth, when he asserts that international treaties can be revoked.

However, he fails to make the distinction between a stand-alone treaty and an amending treaty, which supersedes the previous ones, in an evolving organisation like the European Union.

The European Union is different after the Treaty of Lisbon, including many institutional rules. Having one European Parliament, one Council and one Commission for the rest of the member states, and the old Nice Treaty version for Britain is like taking the first storey away from a multi-storey building. Quite sophisticated!

By all means, arrange a simple Yes/No referendum to “reclaim the country”, but on membership, for that is what it is.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. We are eagerly waiting for David Cameron and William Hague to present their “we won’t let matters rest there” vision on Europe, but our sincere hope is that they have more sophisticated advisors than Warner.


  1. I may be wrong, but I suspect the Tories will tone down their rhetoric when they gain office. They will soon realise that there are not very many places other than the EU for them to go, let alone if they want to achieve anything of any real substance.

    But we must keep up the pressure! Indeed, once they come into office, all pro-Europeans should increase the pressure dramatically!!

  2. James,

    When I look at the Grand Ayatollahs of the anti-EU faith and their fervent commentators, I sincerely doubt if they can be reached by facts or reasoning.

    There seems to be little pressure to counter them, and I wonder if the public in England or the Tory membership can even be reached anymore, without an In or Out referendum.

    Can the Tory leadership play a constructive role in Europe, without betraying their supporters?

  3. All political parties must strike bargains and compromises if they are to retain power once they've won it. They don't seem to last very long if they don't; for example, New Labour's success under Mr. Blair was due to the fact that it sought to articulate vision compatible with centre-right voters, as well as its centre-left powerbase. If Cameron adopts a hard-right approach, he will alienate those on the centre-left (some of which will vote for him); likewise, he will also alienate British industry, which by and large still favours strongly Britain in the European Union.

    As to Britain's often anti-European public, it is true that it has been strongly shaped by the right-wing press (often foreign owned). But equally to blame can be placed on the pro-European lobby. Frankly, their arguments in favour of European integration are often pathetic and outmoded. I doubt many of them are really particularly pro-EU either; rather, they see the EU merely as a means towards 'international governance' (or whatever they call it) at the global level.

  4. James,

    You are right, in general, with regard to the tempering effect of power and responsibility.

    Newspapers predict that William Hague will hear US views on the wisdom of a constructive role in Europe, but historically the UK has been fairly resistant to such views since WW2, so I remain unconvinced of magic effects now.

    I wonder if anything short of an In or Out referendum could clean the pungent air in Britain.

    I am (still) looking forward to your exposition on how the pro-EU message should be handled in Britain.


Due deluge of spam comments no more comments are accepted.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.