Richard North, 27/05/2012  

Booker G8 002.jpg

Readers of the print version of the Sunday Telegraph (unlike the website, and corrected here - above) will be treated to the wrong photograph – one of those bizarre editorial decisions, for which there is no rational explanation.

However, the picture with the main item in Booker's column this week is more than usually important. This was of the dinner hosted by President Obama for the leaders of the G8. It is not so much illustrating the article as inspiring it. When it appeared in EU Referendum, Booker thought it the most haunting picture of the week, reminiscent of the atmospheric "Nighthawks" painting by Edward Hopper.

The sight of what were supposedly the world’s most powerful men (and woman) sitting round that table as forlornly as the customers in Hopper's bar inevitably prompted the thought, why were there not eight but 10 of them?

The additional two spectres at the feast, of course, were presidents Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy, those two unelected senior offificials of the EU.

In a sense, says Booker, this was appropriate, because the item topping the G8 agenda was the need to sort out the shambles of the euro – and there was nothing these great men, and woman, could do to solve this crisis. The only certain thing that can be said about it is that it is insoluble.

The EU cannot afford to allow bankrupt Greece to leave a project that was designed as the supreme symbol of the EU's true agenda, the welding of Europe into a single state.

And yet, not all the money in Europe will prevent Greece being forced out of the euro, for reasons predicted long before the currency was launched. At that point, the entire mess will unravel still further, threatening a financial and political storm far greater than anything we have seen so far.

This poignant scene does remind us, however, that the EU is already a government in its own right – as was also made clear last week by a rather more parochial drama unfolding here at home.

This was the excitement which erupted over the supposed emasculation, by Downing Street, of a report on reforms to our employment law by Adrian Beecroft. When it was revealed that three of his recommendations – on parental leave, flexible working hours and the employment of children – had been removed, this set off hysteria.

Ed Miliband claimed that it again showed the Tories to be "the nasty party". Beecroft called Vince Cable "a socialist". Tory MPs protested that this showed David Cameron once again kow-towing to Nick Clegg.

But what got completely missed from all this froth was the real reason for the excisions from the report. This was that employment law is no longer something that can be decided by the British Government, because it is a "competence" of our real government in Brussels.

Rules relating to parental leave and flexible working hours are governed by EU law, including directive 2010/18/EU, while the power to make law on employment of children was taken over by directive 94/33/EC as long ago as 1994.

Employment law, like so much else, is now part of the Brussels "occupied field", meaning that the British government is powerless to do anything except in accord with the laws of our higher level of government.

How long will it be before we grasp the real nature of how our country is now governed? It is 20 years since John Major launched his flagship "deregulation" policy (partly in response to articles I had written about the proliferation of damaging regulations largely arising from EU directives).

Only at the end of the passage of his pitiful little Deregulation Bill through Parliament did a minister lamely admit that the reason for its inadequacy was that it had not been able to address any regulations originating from Brussels.

Year after year since then, we have seen the British Chambers of Commerce and others listing all the new regulations that are most costly and damaging to British businesses – on working time, data protection and heaven knows what else. Because almost all of these emanate from the EU, we are powerless to change them.

The extent to which we are ruled by our collective "super-government" in Brussels may be immensely boring and complicated to grasp. It may be much more entertaining to cover British politics as if it was still just a soap-opera ding-dong between our politicians here at home.

But don't we often wonder why our politicians these days seem so sadly diminished, and why voters are walking away from the electoral process because it seems so irrelevant?

It is, Booker concludes, because our real government is sitting elsewhere, as around that dinner table in Washington – incapable of sorting out a catastrophic crisis which their megalomaniac project has, with a terrible inevitability, brought on itself.


comments powered by Disqus

Log in

Sign THA

The Many, Not the Few