Juncker has exposed the Remainers’ ‘Big Lie’ that there is no plan to create an EU superstate
Since our referendum victory, we Brexiteers have had to become accustomed to something rather unfamiliar: being in the driving seat.
Suddenly it is Remainers who are the ones locked out of power – staging demos and public meetings, waving flags and venting spleen on social media.
We, by way of contrast, have a Government in office that is apparently committed to delivering Brexit (notwithstanding the near-death experience of the unnecessary general election).
And with power, naturally, comes heightened scrutiny. This is a natural part of politics about which anyone proposing serious change can hardly complain.
Partly because of this and partly because our broadcast media is also overwhelmingly staffed by people with an ingrained pro-Remain outlook, the debate on Brexit has pretty much become a cross-examination of our arguments. And a highly combative and sceptical one at that.
There is clearly a hope among Remain diehards that if they and their media allies can sow enough seeds of doubt in the public mind about Brexit prospects then public opinion will start to turn against the whole thing.
So we have often found ourselves on the defensive since the Brexit vote; pointing out that all the worst forecasts of Project Fear have not come to pass, talking up prospects of a good trade deal and other mutually sensible arrangements with the EU.
Against this has come a wall of pessimistic hyperbole from the ultra Remainers. They accuse us of preparing to push the economy off a cliff edge, of turning Britain’s back against the world and of being fundamentally too thick to realise it.
So far our defence of the Brexit process has been relatively successful. There has been no sign of any major shift of public opinion against Brexit. No buyers’ remorse.
But the ‘State of the Union’ debate in Strasbourg this week should remind us of an additional set of arguments and political weapons that we deployed to great effect during the referendum campaign but have left largely unused since. These can be summarised by the phrase “the risks of Remain”.
And, boy, have they been on display this week. President Juncker’s keynote speech and the subsequent speeches of European Parliament group leaders such as Guy Verhofstadt remind us that our EU membership has not been based around a static set of rules, but subject instead to the process of ever-closer union.
Remainers complain bitterly and largely erroneously about alleged “lies” told by Leavers during the campaign. But there can surely be no denying that their own decades-long denial of the plan to create a federal superstate has been the “Big Lie” that cast the longest shadow over British politics.
Mr Juncker this week set out policy after policy to extend the reach and power of Brussels over member states: an EU “defence union” (army), the merger of the posts of President of the Commission and President of the European Council into a single high-profile President of the EU, the creation of an EU economics minister within the Commission, the extension of the Schengen Area to include Romania and Bulgaria immediately, holding the next EU elections on a pan-European basis rather than allowing national elections to the EU parliament, abolishing national vetoes and making the euro the currency of the whole EU.
His influential friend Mr Verhofstadt went even further in one important area, calling for a single EU asylum policy to replace the Dublin rules that say asylum should be claimed in the first safe country a refugee reaches.
These towering figures of EU politics are utterly explicit in their ambitions to create a superstate. Mr Verhofstadt even cited statistics purporting to show that a large majority of European citizens back these extensions of EU power (though he did not cite his source). What is not in doubt is that a large majority of MEPs from across the chamber back these ambitions too.
And this is what is going to happen. For the whole of our membership the EU has been characterised by the salami-slicing of national sovereignty. This process is not suddenly going to stop and never would have done regardless of the result of our referendum.
In fact, there is every reason to think that had we voted to Remain, the EU would have seen it as vindication of their hardball approach to the laughable pre-Referendum “negotiation” with David Cameron. We would, in effect, have disarmed ourselves by showing we were prepared to accept almost nothing by way of returning powers.
The process of integration, of ever-closer union, would have accelerated with a broken Britain stuck inside the EU every bit as much as it is doing now we are on the brink of leaving.
So let us Brexiteers go on the counter-attack and get back to highlighting those Risks of Remain. In fact, after Mr Juncker’s address and the wide-ranging backing his ideas have received, they are not mere risks but inevitable consequences of Remain.
Every time we highlight an aspect of the EU’s centralising agenda we will increase the certainty among Leave voters that they did the right thing. The vast majority of members of European political elites crave a United States of Europe. And their peoples are either ambivalent about this or too disempowered to stop it. Britain, thank goodness, is the sole exception.
Let us challenge the British broadcast media to give due prominence to the political integration that is taking place. And let’s make those ultra-Remainers who still won’t come to terms with the referendum result acknowledge that the course they propose – to ignore the referendum and stay in the EU – will result in massive further loss of national control in vital policy areas.
To seriously propose U-turning on the referendum result, retracting Article 50 and begging to stay part of this centralising and increasingly expensive cavalcade can be exposed as an obviously ridiculous position to take. This will lead to the Remain camp being further demoralised and divided, with the more reasonable of their number having to acknowledge we must now make a success of the course that the British people set us on in their admirable decision of June 23, 2016. It is time for Brexiteers to get on the front foot again.