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By Joseph Willits
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In a backbench debate on the European Council yesterday, veteran Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash warned that a proposed fiscal union would be both undemocratic as a whole, and damage the national interests of the UK. The Liberal Democrats, he said were currently an "obstruction to our vital national interests", and it was crucial for the House to be united on the future of Europe:
"A house divided against itself will fall, and the situation will be worse still if it is built on sand. There are now two Europes, both built on sand, and the situation is not only precarious but dangerous."
Whilst a lack of growth in the Eurozone was "contaminating the UK economy", the situation across much of Europe was more worrying, Cash said:
"Elsewhere in Europe it is creating civil disorder, with youth unemployment of up to 45% in Greece and Spain, and 30% in Italy'"
In its present form, the European Union is "completely undemocratic" said Cash, and that "existing treaties should be sent to a convention so that all the member states could have the opportunity to face one another and decide what kind of Europe they want". Cash's most chilling prediction, was that a trend of a lack of democracy which exists within the current setup of the EU had the potential to mobilise the far right:
"In the past, when referendums have been held in France, Holland, Ireland and Denmark, the no vote has been overturned by bribing and threatening the electorate. That kind of behaviour, combined with economic and political crisis, creates a fertile breeding ground for the far right, as I predicted as far back as 1990."
Cash was also adamant that with the Franco-German partnership now being a "hollow reminder of German strength and French weakness", Britain should grasp the opportunity to lead the way in reversing the Eurozone crisis, and ensure a democratic Europe:
"The UK must insist on leading Europe out of this crisis with Euro-realist policies and an insistence on government by consent. Sadly, Germany believes in government by rule, and is now even proposing the European Commission as the anchor of European government."
John Redwood once again came out in support of Cameron's decision to veto "a very unsatisfactory deal and to a totally inappropriate proposed measure at that Council". Cameron's decision had, "won Britain influence" in Europe, and was setting a new trend of doubt about Europe's future as outlined in the treaty:
"We learned subsequently that several non-euro member states could not go along with the draft any more than the United Kingdom could. We also learned subsequently that France, Germany and others are now beating a path to the United Kingdom Foreign Office door, trying to get us back on board, trying to woo us because we had the courage to say no."
Britain's role now, said Redwood was to "give good, strong, independent advice in private" to Eurozone leaders, and maintain "a simple formula, which all Ministers use, that we are providing no commentary on the Euro and we wish the Euro members well in sorting it all out".
Redwood also echoed Cash's concern that in the Eurozone crisis democracy was at stake:
"This is not only an economic crisis, this is not only a banking crisis, this is not only a currency crisis, but it is also now a crisis of democracy … We see in some of these countries now that the electorates do not choose the Government; the European Union’s senior players choose the Government. We see in some of these countries that the electorate change the Government but they do not change the policy. The new Government have to pledge to follow exactly the same policy, which does not work, in order to get elected and to be acceptable to the European Union, in order to carry on drawing down the subsidies and loans from within the European Union that have to be on offer to try to make the system operate to some extent."
Bernard Jenkin warned of "the view that British foreign policy should be constantly to try to divide and rule on the continent" because "it would be in our interests if the Euro succeeded with a democratic settlement in the European Union". This approach however, said Jenkin would require the EU's institutions "to take on much more power, to accumulate much more taxation and to distribute money much more than they do now", which was perhaps not ideal given the "democratic deficit in the EU". Jenkin continued:
"The institutions lack the legitimacy and the authority to be able to impose their will across the democratic nations of the EU. There is a fundamental lack of consent to what would be required to impose the necessary discipline."