The process of ratifying the Constitutional Treaty Mark II will have several witching hours before it is put to bed. One such approaches with the meeting in Lisbon at the end of this week which will see, subject to unexpected events, Gordon Brown signing a document which can begin its Parliamentary journey.
I say ‘Parliamentary’ journey because Gordon Brown and his Government continue to defy the expressed wish of a vast majority of the electorate to have a referendum on the Treaty and David Miliband in his interview is continuing to hold that line.

The latter, fresh from a quickie to Luxembourg where he went to ensure that the famous ‘red lines’ did not get smudged any further, bobbed up like rabbit on the ‘Today’ programme this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to be given a right working over by the fiercesome Ed Stourton, shiny whiskers twitching at any suggestion that he and his dishonourable Chief Rabbit were doing anything less than manning the trenches against twenty-six divisions of armed and dangerous foxes, weasels, stoats and other assorted polecats. I say ‘working-over’: actually it was as sweet a bit of bunny hugging as you could wish for at that hour. But then Mr. Stourton does not do ‘working over’ Labour ministers and this particular bunny was left to graze on the cabbages to its heart’s content.

The first intriguing claim is that the document which is due to be signed off this week by Brown in Lisbon is, according to Miliband, something which HMG have only had for ten days:

what we had in June was a political declaration, a so-called mandate, what we have now got for the first time ten days ago published a legal text which puts the commitments, the political commitments that were in the mandate, political commitments, the so called red lines that ensure that the UK, for example, has an opt-out on every single Justice and Home Affairs measure, those have now been given legal force and that has happened for the first time over the last ten days.

It makes me wonder what the documents are that we have all been dissecting and blogging about since the end of June. Does Miliband really expect us to believe that they have only had this Treaty since 6th. October? It seems at times as though there is no length, however absurd and ludicrous it is, to which they will not go to lie about this process.

Then there was this:

I was pleased yesterday, there was one particular issue that I wanted to clarify which had been raised by two Parliamentary Committees which was about the role of National Parliaments in the governance of the European Union which has been brought in for the first time. I was able to get reassurance on that but in respect of the so-called red lines that are important for us, there was no challenge to them.

Of course there is no challenge to the ‘so-called red lines’: why should there be? If, and at best this is a matter of considerable debate, they have any sort of defensible legal effect, even the European Scrutiny Committee, dominated by Labour, has written them off as having at the very most a shelf-life of five years after which they will be swept away. Why would anyone want to waste their breath challenging something which will evaporate anyway?

Tantalisingly Miliband slips in that little bit about National Parliaments having a role in the ‘governance of the European Union which has been brought in for the first time’. How gracious of our masters to allow us this! In part what Miliband says, one is tempted to observe, contains a tiny element of truth: the whole thing about the Common Market, The EEC and the EU to date is that the role of National Parliaments has been remorselessly expunged over the years.Once they had a role in the governance of the EU, back in the days of Wilson and Callaghan. Every Treaty since then has cut national Parliaments from the deal with all the efficiency of a cancer surgeon removing malignant tumours. So this is not the first time National Parliaments have had a role has had a say, merely that they have been given a tiny little bit of it back.

And tiny it is: so small indeed it could be inscribed on a gnat’s kneecap with a two inch chisel.

Under the Protocol 2 to the Treaty, National Parliaments can raise objections by way of a ‘reasoned opinion’ to the effect that a piece of draft legislation does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity. If at least one-third of National Parliaments do so, then the EuroNabobs have to review the legislation. Great stuff. The problem is that they do not have to take a blind bit of notice and can just carry on where they left off, albeit by now having to give written reasons for so doing. As that will be the usual eyewash, this role of the National Parliaments is as much use as a dead parrot.

We then have the Psittacine Mantra again trotted out: the constitutional concept being ‘abandoned’:

Well, it’s certainly not a Constitution at all. All twenty-seven heads of Government agreed in the political declaration in June that the ‘Constitutional Concept’ had been, and I quote, ‘abandoned’, not diluted or reformed but ‘abandoned’. So that is why in terms of structure the new Reform Treaty is fundamentally different from the Constitution. It is not a Constitution.

I and others have blogged to distraction about this. All they abandoned was having one document everyone could read and follow in one go. The Constitution returns by way of simply amending every individual treaty piecemeal so that at the end of that process the same end is arrived at in terms of institutional change and transfer of power as was envisaged by the Constitution that was rejected by France and the Netherlands. It is a demonstration of the principle that there is more than one way of skinning a cat.

Or, to change the metaphor, what took place in 2004 was that the EU bought a shiny new large car straight out of the showroom and tried to sell it to us. Now they have produced a kit car that has had to be assembled completely by hand from a set of complicated blue prints. But when that is completed you have, surprise, surprise, a shiny new car which, with great generosity, they are going to give to us whether we like it or not.

Finally there is a sinister bit from Her Brittanic Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (roll that phrase around your tongue awhile and savour it for, like the dodo, it will soon enough be a thing of history):

Thirdly, in terms of political consequences, what this Treaty does is bury finally the old debate about whether we are going to have a European Union of nation states or whether we are heading for a Federal Superstate. No one can make the argument on the basis of this Treaty that we are heading for a Federal Superstate.

Now we have a glimmer of the truth from Mr. Miliband. For the debate is sure to be ended about whether we have “a European Union of nation states or whether we are heading for a Federal Superstate”, though not quite in the way he meant.

There will, given the institutional changes this Treaty produces, be no union of national states, nor will it be a union of Federal States.

No: we are going to get the real thing, a sense of the nation state or federalism (which implies significant residual power being left in the hands of former nation states) has been, quite simply, expunged. This will be a superstate ruled from the centre. Anything else would be pointless as it would get in unified central state from which any the way of Le Grand Projet and the final acquisition of complete power for the EuroNabobery

And so, yes, Mr. Miliband that debate will indeed be over. For ever.

Meanwhile our attention will be drawn ever more firmly to the so-called red lines. They will take drawn up in the centre of the battlefield and will, it may well be, be defended to the death by Brown’s Yellow Jackets. In the meantime an entire Constitution will be slipped quietly round the flanks even as the Pathé Newsreel rolls trumpeting the great and glorious victory gained this Trafalgar Day by our gallant boys.

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