The odd thing about the piece in The Times today, headed "Brussels wants immigrants to swear allegiance to EU", is that it wasn't in the Daily Telegraph. David Rennie, the Telegraph Brussels correspondent, filed copy, but nothing appeared in his paper.
It was picked up on the day by the England Expects blog. It immediately saw the point, reporting verbatim what Franco Frattini, the Italian Commissioner for Justice and Home affairs had said:
I am in favour of exploring the possibility of having a dialogue with representative communities of immigrants and trying to identify something whereby, as in France, you can get every immigrant to declare respect for national and EU law and the charter of fundamental rights. I feel this is worth exploring at a European level.This was (correctly) translated by The Times as "immigrants to Britain will have to swear an oath of allegiance to EU laws and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, rather than the Queen, under a proposal announced by Brussels."
As England Expects observes, "what we seem to be talking about is some pan-European oath for any migrant to the EU… Thus at long last the EU will have found some people whose primary loyalty will be to the Brussels institutions, rather than to the country which hosts them (and in most cases pays through the nose for the privilege)."
The press office will then deny it, saying "Oh no, we don't mean that. This is just one of many options that are currently being discussed. You are just myth making as usual you nasty British Eurosceptic". Then a couple of years down the line, as they have spotted that resistance to the idea is not firm. "This? Oh this is merely a planning exercise, it is a technical logistical process, it has no force in law, don't worry about it".
Then when kiddies are singing the Ode to bloody Joy in school a few years later. "Well you cannot complain now, if you wanted to complain you should have done so five years ago when the legislation was being mooted".
But there is an unwarranted note of optimism here: England Expects adds: "Well today is five years ago. Now is the time to act against this invidious measure. Let them know that we do not want an oath of allegiance to the EU in no uncertain terms, and the idea will be taken off the table."
For sure, the idea may be taken off the table, but it goes back in the cupboard, and a few years later it will be taken out, dusted off and the "colleagues" will try again. And they will keep trying, and trying until they get their way. Time and again we fight these battle, we lose many but at least we seem to win some, until they come up again.
We really cannot continue with this. There must be a better way.