William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary has issued a few tasty morsels for eurosceptic ears (mixing metaphors this morning) in the Financial Times. Open Europe also report the interview, which sounds like tough talk on Hague’s part. But as usual when you examine the detail, there is not quite as much meat on the bones as there first appears.
From Open Europe
In an interview with the FT, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has said a future Conservative government would seek to restore full British control over employment law and social policy while campaigning against the “the centralising ratchet” of the EU. Mr Hague added that a Cameron administration would look to scupper the Lisbon Treaty if it had not already been ratified by all other states: “We would withdraw ratification by Britain and subject it to a referendum, in which we would recommend a No vote”.
Mr Hague said that the party are, ‘”very positive about many aspects of the EU”, including its commitment to tackling climate change and opening markets, particularly in the services area, and joint foreign policy action on issues such as Iran.
Britain has already ratified the Lisbon Treaty, so unless the EU finds itself unable to railroad Ireland into conceding ratification, which seems unlikely, the chances of the promise to scupper Lisbon being possible to put into effect, seem unlikely. Ireland will be made to vote again, and no doubt if the second vote is a NO, the Irish Parliament will choose to ratify the Treaty in the face of the lost referenda, bypassing any further referenda.
Only if the Czech Republic holds out against the tide, or the German President who is yet to ratify, stands firm, will the Treaty still be open for negotiation by 2010. The EU are not going to give Hague the chance to scupper the Treaty if they7 can help it.
The promise to reclaim employment law and social policy (does he mean effectively to unsign the Social Chapter?) from the EU, is the barest minimum that a government posturing as a future renegotiator with the EU could have on its menu. Let alone the prospect of success for such a renegotiation, when all 26 other countries will have to agree that Britain can be allowed to reduce its EU commitment.
Thanks, William for the flurry of excitement you give us all by talking tough. But that’s all it is, I’m afraid – a bit of eurosceptic flirt – with no follow through even remotely likely.
But at least we now know what kind of posturing to expect from you for the next two years, before the General Election, and possibly after. We need not bother listening to anything you say on Europe in the meantime.
Your bark raised the hounds from the kennels just for a moment. But most of us are now asleep again waiting for the real day when we are allowed to hunt once more. We know from past experience that your cries of Wolf are designed merely to stop us drifting away. The wolves are, in reality, entirely welcome, dining at the Huntsman’s table.