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Cameron Points Out That The European Emperor Has No Clothes, And Merkel Will Be Obliged To Recognise This Too

Last Updated: Friday, June 13th, 2014

David Cameron this week appealed in German to the Germans and in French to the French. He wrote (or to be more accurate, his staff drafted for him) a newspaper article in which he demolished the claim by members of the European Parliament that to make Jean-Claude Juncker the next President of the European Commission would be a democratic act.

For those of us who prefer to read Mr Cameron (or his staff) in English, the article can also be found in the Irish Times. Like almost all articles about Europe emanating from official sources, it cannot be commended for its scintillating use of language.

Statesmen often find it expedient to sound dull. But what Mr Cameron is doing is actually very interesting.

He has decided to appeal directly to the German and French publics. In his article he condemns the “back-room deal” done in Brussels to try to get Mr Juncker into a key job, and says that whoever gets the job should accept that “Europe’s needs may best be served by action at the national level”.

The Prime Minister dismisses the idea that just because Mr Juncker was the Spitzencandidat, or lead candidate, of the European People’s Party, which now has the largest number of MEPs, this somehow makes him the voters’ choice.

For as Mr Cameron points out: “Most Europeans did not vote in the European Parliament elections. Turnout declined in the majority of member states. Those who voted did so to choose their MEP, not the commission president. Mr Juncker did not stand anywhere and was not elected by anyone.”

The European emperor has no clothes. That is really what Mr Cameron is saying. He adds that this method of choosing the commission president  “was never ratified by national parliaments”.

The implications are clear: decisions in Europe should be taken by national leaders who are answerable to national parliaments. That is where the EU’s democratic legitimacy springs from. It is an alliance of nation states, each of which has its own democratic institutions. The EU is not, in itself, a democracy, and can never become one, for it lacks the demos which would be needed to create a democracy.

Mr Cameron is a professional, and by instinct an insider. He did not get where he is today by making inflammatory statements which would be regarded in official circles as the ravings of a demagogue. He has no desire to be written off as another Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen.

But he does want very much to spike Mr Farage’s guns by showing that there is a decent, responsible form of British nationalism, which entails staying inside the EU (for we can never be indifferent to the balance of power on the European continent), while also ensuring that most of the big decisions about how we govern ourselves are decided at Westminster, by a government which the British people have the right every few years to boot out.

This form of politics would not have satisfied Enoch Powell, with his profound belief in the sovereignty of Parliament, and is anathema to those who believe in building a new state called Europe. But for very large numbers of voters in Germany and France as well as in the United Kingdom, it represents the right compromise.

In Germany, a new party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), gained seven per cent of the vote in the European elections. Its seven MEPs were on Thursday admitted to the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, the group set up when British Tory MEPs withdrew from the European People’s Party, to which Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats still belong.

This transaction has been described as a blow to Cameron’s hopes of working with Merkel. But it might equally well be described as a warning to Merkel herself of the growing success and acceptability of respectable German Eurosceptics, as represented by AfD.

Opinion in Europe has moved against the creation of a single European state, and in favour of a reformed European Union of nation states.  Merkel, like Cameron, will be forced to recognise this fact, or will be humiliated by her domestic competitors.

By Andrew Gimson

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK ON CONSERVATIVEHOME

Paul Goodman: The strength of the Conservative team, the weakness of the Labour team   “Put plainly, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet is very weak and the Conservative Cabinet itself rather strong.  How many members of the former do most voters recognise, Ed Miliband apart?  My guess is only one: Ed Balls.  That the only member of Miliband’s team familiar to the public is a man intimately associated with Gordon Brown (who re-emerged yesterday on characteristically grudge-packed form) is not a political plus.  Those who follow the news will know Harriet Harman.  Many of them will recognise Andy Burnham.  Some will be starting to place Tristram Hunt and Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves.  But to most people, Mary Creagh and Michael Dugher and Emma Reynolds won’t even be names.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1kgAtcD

Iain Dale: Let’s send pro-reform, bone-dry Theresa Villiers to Brussels  “There is still much speculation about the identity of our next European Commissioner. Whoever it is is unlikely to be named until the identity of the new European Commission President is known. The British Government is very keen that whoever we choose as our commissioner should get one of the top economic portfolios. I am told by someone who knows about these things that this is far more likely to happen if we send another woman to Brussels. Here’s an idea: why not think about nominating Theresa Villiers for the role? She was an MEP for a number of years and knows the Brussels machine. She’s solid on reform, and dry as dust on economic issues. Just a thought.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1l7gLWB

Chloe Smith: How to turn the Conservative Party into Generation Y’s natural home  “The best associations and campaign teams are already multi-generational.  My own chairman and his predecessor are both younger than me, while we canvass with a superb team including pensioners.  Labour’s boast after the local council results was of having the most activists; certainly, the traditional parties don’t get the same easy return in the polls from mere billboards and one charismatic man as UKIP has done, and so the street is the place to be for us in the next ten months.  Both online and offline are important and technology has an obvious and crucial role to play.” http://bit.ly/1nyfAyd

Mohammed Amin: British values? Here are my suggestions – and a test of them   “It is critical that we do not define British values in a way that excludes people of particular religious faiths. In the spirit of Norman Tebbit’s cricket test, let me provide Mohammed Amin’s “David test”. I believe that you must be able to sign up to the list of British values regardless of whether you regard Michelangelo’s David as great art, or consider it to be a violation of the Fourth Commandment, or regard it as sacrilegious since Muslims consider David a prophet.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1mQD8v9

Andrew Gimson: Team Osborne – feared, admired and sometimes enraging for other Conservatives   “Team Osborne inspires a mixture of fear, loathing, admiration and wariness. The conventional view (which I do not share) is that it is far more formidable than Team Cameron, which is widely regarded as inefficient and insufficiently political…The question of jobs arises almost at once in conversations about Osborne. Alan Clark’s Diaries remind one of the vast amount of time MPs devote to lusting after ministerial posts of pitiful insignificance: posts which they are in any case most unlikely to get. In the present Tory party, many backbenchers believe you have virtually no chance of reaching even the first rung on the ministerial ladder unless you are either a woman, a member of some minority, or a Friend of George.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1oWMeJi

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