Saturday, June 23, 2018

Quote of the day 23rd June 2018

"Britain … in the passage of Maastricht and the follow-on treaties, lost the EEC it was comfortable with and found itself faced with the increasingly stark choice of membership of a club it didn’t really want to be part of, or leaving a club it didn’t really want to be outside." 

(David Herdson, article on the "Political Betting" site about the consequences of the Maastricht Treaty and on what might have happened if Britain had vetoed or failed to ratify that treaty, which you can read here.

The latter very nearly happened due to an unholy alliance between the Labour front bench who claimed to want the treaty passed without Britain's opt-outs, e.g. even more integration, and Eurosceptic rebels who claimed to want the whole thing thrown out, e.g. less.

I refer to this as an unholy alliance because both groups voted for things which were the total opposite of what they said they wanted: Eurosceptics voted for the Social Chapter and pro-integrationists voted against ratification.  Had their votes successfully prevented the treaty from being ratified as negotiated one of those groups would have caused the exact opposite of what they pretended to stand for.

John Major lost one of the key ratification votes and had to reverse it the following day by proposing a motion of confidence in the government which also endorsed the government position of opting out of the Social Chapter. Defeat on the motion of confidence would have triggered a general election. If John Major had not been prepared to risk this, or the Eurosceptic rebels had, Britain would probably have failed to ratify the Maastricht treaty and thereby killed it.

I mention this because it demonstrates that the leadership of the Labour party being completely untrustworthy on Europe - neither pro-EU nor anti-EU factions in this country have ever been able to rely on promises from the Labour front bench - is something which long-predates Jeremy Corbyn.)

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