Aquae Sulis (Bath), England. 30 November. Bath Spa, this most quintessential English town, surrounds perfectly-preserved AD 43 Roman thermal baths and adorns the deep valley of the River Avon with rows of Georgian villas clad in golden, sunset-shade Cotswold stone. It is a place seemingly impervious to change. And yet, if Tony Blair has his way, Bath and the rest of the England over which his fiat once ran, will cease to self-govern for the first time in almost a thousand years. In a speech this week to Chatham House Blair was at his dissembling best. He accused Prime Minister Cameron of committing a “monumental error” by seeking to forge a new relationship for Britain with the EU and described Euro-scepticism as a “virus”. As ever with Blair it is not what he said that is interesting, but what he did not say.
Typically, Blair failed to address the real question; why so many of we Britons (both ancient and young) who have hitherto been either pro-EU or EU-neutral are now joining the ranks of the Euro-realists? Indeed, on the day the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made serious electoral gains Blair made no attempt whatsoever to address the very real and just concerns of people who feel betrayed by a government he led who quietly passed over so much of Britain’s sovereignty to a Brussels increasingly impervious to national accountability. This was Tony Blair at his disingenuous worst.
What Blair did not say was that the last time the British people were given the chance to vote on a history-cleaving relationship with Brussels was back in 1975. Then the question was whether or not Britain should remain a member of an economic community made up of independent European nation-states. Back then no-one other than a few Euro-federalist fanatics could have foreseen the wholesale transfer of British political and parliamentary sovereignty to Brussels that has since taken place. A Brussels that he helped to build and which today has power and influence over ordinary Britons that no-one would have possibly agreed to back in 1975. Instead, Blair paints a picture of a nothing much has changed Brussels and an EU of today that will be the EU of tomorrow. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This week’s European Commission paper on “deep and genuine” banking and fiscal union demonstrates the lie that Tony Blair is peddling. Come 2014 a new EU treaty will be drafted. By Blairite definition it will be the next, decisive step on the road to an undemocratic European super-bureaucracy with which no-one in Britain should have any truc. Indeed, if ratified this treaty could well represent the beginning of the end of national self-government in Europe.
At the very least the political space that Blair claims Britain can occupy between the single currency and the single market will cease to exist. Blair knows this but will never of course admit it because by his calculation he personally stands to benefit. Blair figures that come the end of Herman van Rompuy’s term as EU Pretend President two years hence in November 2014 he is well-placed to succeed. His reasoning is clear; as Germany endeavours to push the new treaty towards ratification a showdown with Britain is inevitable. One way to help buy off the British is to make a Briton EU ‘President’. Blair has himself well and truly pencilled in for that job.
In his Chatham House speech he said that a British departure from the EU would be “politically-debilitating, economically-damaging and hugely destructive of Britain’s true long-term interests”. He also said Britain could join the Euro within five years. The latter demonstrates just how far out of touch Blair has become. The former demonstrates how little regard Blair has for the one word he did not mention – democracy. It is a democratic deficit that Tony Blair glossed over, in that Tony Blair way of glossing over the inconveniently critical.
Ironically (and hopefully), Blair and his sell his country down the swanny personal ambitions might just be confounded by a most unlikely and unexpected adversary. This week the German paper Der Spiegel ran a headline “Grossbritannien Danke!” Germans, they said, should thank the British for saving Europe from a bureaucratic monster.
It was George Washington who warned that “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused”. Blair talked of a “real and present danger to Britain” if it left the EU. The real danger is the end to self-governance posed by the future EU he champions.
Tony Blair, the man who would be king (again).