From our correspondents Elaib Harvey, Michael Huntsman and Tiberge
Despite following Harvey's law of Euroscepticism (derived from comments from Hannan), which can be formulated as,
Despite what a politician may say in opposition; there are no eurosceptics in government
the news that Friday's vote by the Irish Green party has resulted in the Party not expecting loyalty to the coalition government has got to be a good thing. Hitherto the only party which has opposed the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty has been Sinn Fein.
Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley was positive […] The Greens have for many years staunchly opposed greater EU powers, with Mr Gormley often in the vanguard. However, as last year's general election approached, with the possibility of entering coalition on the horizon, it began an internal debate on taking a more practical line on Europe.
Of course none of the elected Green members of the Irish Parliament are planning to break the whip, but it does allow those like former MEP Patricia Makenna to campaign freely.
For her willingness to oppose her party’s dishonourable policy of denying the British people that which was promised – a referendum on the EU Constitution – Gisela Stuart, Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, and herself a member of the convention which drew the EU treaty up, occupies an honoured niche in The Huntsman’s Pantheon. Now she has struck another blow.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mrs. Stuart placed her finger on one of the main weaknesses of the Treaty of Lisbon which, she carefully reminds us, is the same “in substance” as the Constitution rejected so firmly by the peoples of France and The Netherlands in 2005. This is that the Treaty lacks legitimacy.
For, if the Treaty is indeed ratified without the whole-hearted consent of the British people by way of a referendum, indeed without any of the EU’s 450 million people, save Ireland’s six million, being given a say on it, then it will indeed lack a smidgen of democratic legitimacy.
Meanwhile the process of ratification is to be resumed this week with second reading of the European Union (Amendment) Bill which will also occupy much of the week following. On the current intricacies of the various positions of the three main parties on the Treaty, I commend this article in The Spectator which sets out a floorplan of the ballroom and where each of the strands of opinion therein stands at the beginning of the Treaty Tango.
One final point occurs to me before our Parliament debates voting itself to oblivion, at least as the Parliament of a truly independent Sovereign State, is that if the Treaty of Lisbon comes into force in the UK it will afford those who have warned against it masses of ammunition with which to renew the assault upon it. As the British people are made ever more aware of the impotence of our Parliament and Government to produce solutions appropriate to them (and desired by them) rather than to the goat farmers of Cyprus, because of the extent to which it has handed power over, lock, stock and barrel to the EU, then will come a time of growing disaffection from the European racket.
What our politicians should be aware of is that, if they will not do so, it may fall to the people themselves to take back their Sovereignty which was once entrusted to those politicians and which they have, without our consent, so casually cast away.
In France, ratification is a three-step process: first the National Assembly, then the Senate, then the combined Assembly and Senate. On January 16, the National Assembly adopted the revisions that were worked out in Lisbon. On January 29, the Senate will vote and on February 4, final vote by the two houses will take place in Versailles.
As of now, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that there is even the slightest chance of the Treaty being voted down. Le Figaro reports:
In the final tally 304 deputies voted for, 77 voted against the revisions, and 100 chose to abstain.
Breaking these figures down, the UMP party (of Sarkozy) voted for the revisions, the Communist Party voted no, while 95 socialists out of 204 opted to abstain, in accordance with a decision made on Tuesday during a party meeting. However, 51 socialist deputies, including Laurent Fabius, Henri Emmanuelli, Arnaud Montebourg and Michel Vauzelle voted no to protest President Sarkozy's decision to bypass a referendum in favor of a parliamentary vote. Eight socialists and leftist radicals including Jack Lang chose to vote for the revisions. The remaining socialists did not participate in the voting. […]
After the voting, secretary of state for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, greeted "an important and necessary step in the ratification process" and Minister of Justice Rachida Dati saw in the result "an essential vote for the resumption of the construction of Europe.
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, an independent deputy and a fierce opponent of the European Constitution gives a description of the atmosphere during the debate that preceded last week's vote in the National Assembly. These are excerpts from a much longer blog entry:
Few of us were there to oppose this parliamentary coup, unprecedented since the Liberation.
The speeches given by UMP orators were stupefying. General de Gaulle must have been turning over in his grave! The most fallacious arguments were used to justify the unjustifiable: the refusal to consult the people through referendum. [...]
In truth, alongside those who understand nothing about anything and who, at any rate, couldn't care less, were those deputies who have always been federalists and who were conscious of the historic regime change that would result from the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon and who discreetly savored the sweet taste of victory. And there were those naive ones who still believe that we can display a national political will and at the same time adopt such a treaty.
Opposing this united front were the Socialist Party, torn by internal divisions, and the Communists, a few Gaullists and one Sovereigntist, who fought to the finish! [...]
By dint of removing from the debate all that is substantial, essential, and true, the mirror of the media, in which the ruling elite shamelessly see their own reflection, will be shattered along with the leaders. For, let us make no mistake, we cannot continue for long living peacefully in France in a system that is so sealed, so oligarchic, so scornful of the people and the intelligence of the public. There is no historic example where the French people endured such a heavy burden without rebelling.
But is the spirit of rebellion still alive in Europe?