As to Mr. Brown’s BNP moment, one is perplexed that an intelligent man should have decided to use a phrase such as “British Jobs For British Workers”. The moment I first heard it I stopped what I was doing. Its most obvious fallacy is that if there is one thing which does not exist in the Union it is the concept of a “British Job” or a French Job” or an “Estonian Job”: Articles 48 and 49 of the Treaty of Rome 1957 established the principle of the free movement of labour within what was then the European Economic Community and will soon become The Union, a principle that was fully carried into law by Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of the Council of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community :
1. Any national of a Member State, shall, irrespective of his place of residence, have the right to take up an activity as an employed person, and to pursue such activity, within the territory of another Member State in accordance with the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action governing the employment of nationals of that State.
2. He shall, in particular, have the right to take up available employment in the territory of another Member State with the same priority as nationals of that State.
That directive became part of the law of the United Kingdom with the passing of the European Communities Act 1972 and the UK’s accession to the (then) European Economic Community on 1st. January 1973. From that moment on we ceased to be masters in our own house. These events cannot have escaped Mr. Brown, yet he chose to make the call nonetheless. How should one view it?
Whilst this is not as crude as, say, Margaret Hodge’s controversial comments (here, for example, and here) about housing and race and the BNP in her barking Constituency, nevertheless who can doubt but that this is a similar sort of appeal to the baser instincts of voters. It was an extraordinary thing for any British Prime minister to say and was clearly calculated to appeal to working-class voters who may view themselves as being edged out of employment opportunities because of the effect that immigration from the new Union members such as Poland and the Baltic States is having on the jobs market.
Just imagine the fuss if David Cameron had made such a call. The BBC would have positively self-combusted in rage and the streets would have been filled with a baying mob, whipped up by the Race Relations Industry’s own apparat. Cameron’s effigy would have been burnt across the land. Who knows, given Cameron’s precipitate sacking of Messrs. Mercer and Hastilow (one wonders if Mr. Cameron has ever bothered to read Enoch Powell’s speech, in which he never said the words ‘rivers of blood’, set out here in today’s Daily Telegraph), he might have been moved to sack himself.
It was not, however, Cameron that said it but Brown and the latter therefore had to endure the former’s proffering to the House of Commons yesterday of BNP and National Front literature in which his words were also to be found. The sense of acute embarrassment on the Labour Benches upon which the collective squirm almost removed the famous green leather was palpable, even on radio which was where I first heard the exchange.
Cameron missed a chance, though to make the point of why precisely this is, quite apart from being potentially inflammatory, a matter long put beyond the power of any Prime Minister since Grocer Heath first sold us off in 1972. By that act we can no longer resist the arrival of anyone from any part of the Union save, for a little while, Romania and Bulgaria (plenty of whose citizens have already ignored the niceties of the law and are already here); nor, indeed, under the Kolpak case, can we resist those who have been given permission to work in some other part of the Union, irrespective of who they are.
So, whilst Cameron made a good point, he missed a chance to remind the PM of who really rules here.
Guido Fawkes has a neat graphic which will keep that Labour squirm going awhile yet.
Brown undoubtedly found a way to make Cameron squirm as well. He focused on the illogicality of Cameron’s position on the Union Constitution Referendum (for which see here which will take you to other such posts). He challenged Cameron to promise such a referendum even if the treaty has been ratified and has come into force.
Cameron has been trying to duck such a commitment, knowing that it opens up a whole new ball-game vis-à-vis the Union, one in which the issues of a fundamental renegotiation of the Treaty and our whole relationship to the Union come alive. Because Cameron is not prepared to contemplate going down that road, he and Hague have been furiously rowing back from Cameron’s clear promise in The Sun on 26th. September to hold such a referendum. Significantly Brown chose to read into the record of proceedings that very promise.
Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.
No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.
Cameron has an excellent point with which to attack Brown over the latter’s dishonest and dishonourable refusal to hold a referendum. But that attack begins to come unstuck if one looks at the illogicality of promising a referendum on a Treaty which has not been ratified but avoiding such a commitment if has been ratified and come into force.
After all, if the Treaty is objectionable in its unratified state, it does not become acceptable merely because it has come into force. It is that upon which Brown has lighted and upon which he is seeking to undermine Cameron’s case. It is for that reason that Mr. Cameron, if he is persuaded that the Treaty is not in the interests of the United Kingdom, must renew his promise to hold a referendum on the Treaty, regardless of whether that happens on an unratified treaty or one that is in force. He would also defuse criticism from many quarters at his insincerity over this matter. Otherwise he risks losing credibility on a matter where he presently has a considerable and highly damaging advantage over Brown.
And no harm would come to him from being seen to want to consult the People, come what may, on the issue of the British National Interest. On the other hand, if he demands a referendum only on an unratified Treaty, a call which he thinks may well be defeated in the Commons, he begins to look like someone simply taking advantage of the situation without having the courage actually to follow the issue through. That, in many ways, is just as dishonourable as Brown’s position.