Blair on Europe – almost right, but not quite

Tony Blair’s speech on Europe seemed to me to confuse two quite separate issues.  The first issue, on which he is absolutely right, is that  “the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit”, and that “The road we’re going down is not simply Hard Brexit. It is Brexit At Any Cost.”  Accepting the (questionable) legitimacy of the Brexit vote is not equivalent to accepting the Government’s recipe for implementation.  The second issue, on which he is not right, is to assume that the alternative is to vote again and this time to vote the other way.   The main alternative is surely to address the terms of exit differently, including the extension of rights to EU nationals in Britain, membership of the EEA, and – probably most important – democratic deliberation at every stage of the process.   As Blair himself says,

it isn’t a question of just ‘getting on with it’. This is not a decision that once made is then a mere matter of mechanics to implement. It is a decision which then begets many other decisions. Every part of this negotiation from money to access to post Brexit arrangements is itself an immense decision with consequence.

There are however points on which I would part company from Blair altogether. One is his acceptance of the view that “Immigration is the issue. ”  It is for Theresa May, but this wasn’t a vote on immigration – it was only a vote where that played a part.  The other is his dismissal of the relevance of the ECJ, where he says:  “I would defy anyone to be able to recall any decisions which they might have heard of. ”    Try  Rüffert v Niedersachsen, 2008 C‑346/06, where the ECJ judged that national governments could not use contracts to  enforce collective wage agreements; or  Bundesdruckerei v Stadt Dortmund 2014 C549/13, which stopped German authorities from insisting that the minimum wage should be paid.  These decisions were appalling – quite as bad as the Lochner v New York in the USA, where dissenting judge Justice Holmes was moved to comment that the Constitution of the United States “does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics.” I wouldn’t expect most critics of the EU to be able to cite the specifics either, but they understand the general tenor.  The ECJ has been part of the neo-liberal domination of the EU, that has done so much to undermine the European ideal.   

One comment

  1. amie

    When the eu tried to intervene and highlighted the bedroom tax issue,the goverment ignored the situation thousands had been trapped and led into severe financial hardship,
    All the disabled are viewed as spongers and a burden on society living the high life?? guilty prove otherwise,atos telling and writing blatant lies.
    The ordinary man has very little legal representation a criminal is entitled to soliciters,lawyers and funded by legal aid,thousands wasted on public anti uk hate public speakers.
    So many homeless, leaving prisons given a tent and sleeping bag, men letting themselves back into a prison,offices scared of inmates,bank robbers serving longer terms that pedophiles and murders.
    Goverment officials stealing funded boat lakes ect and only two held to account?.
    X prime ministers trying to overturn democracy insinuating that the British people are not entitled to demand and vote for changes!!, insinuating that we are all stupid peasant schoolchildren and should be lectured to by a lying bloodthirsty warmonger,
    GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE TO VOTE I WOULD NOW DEFINATELY OPT TO LEAVE.
    Went to the north east and viewed Beruit (a north east village called horden) railway line due soon looks like thousands abandoned properties move there while they either refurbish or demolish the houses of parliment,£7,000 each to renovate,airport nearby even a beach.😁 lol

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