One round down, one to go and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the debate last night with Nick Clegg. But despite calling for this debate Nick Clegg did not make the arguments on they key issues which have people concerned over our EU membership. The rooster has crowed this morning and Clegg has thrice refused to explain why he supports open door immigration as a key facet of our EU membership.
Some opinion polls say that people might vote to remain in the EU if the UK could claim back control of her borders. This will never happen: free movement of people is a cornerstone of the EU, and Commissioners and politicians across the continent have stated that this is not up for renegotiation.
But if Nick Clegg is a passionate supporter of the EU then why isn’t he standing up proudly? Like Peter saying he would never deny knowing Jesus, when it came to openly supporting the right of 485 million to live, settle and work in the UK he ducked the question.
Instead he kept on hammering this false argument that three million jobs are dependent on our membership of political union. This over used line has even been dismissed by the author of the study as “a false perspective” on what would actually happen if we left the EU.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last year, Professor Iain Begg clarified that “three million jobs were associated with EU demand” and that this was ”not the same as saying that these jobs would disappear if we left the EU.
“Many of the jobs would still be sustained because people in other European countries would continue to buy some British goods” he said.
So I hope that we have cleared up that one and come the next bout on the BBC I won’t be hearing that little nugget of nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense, I heard that even journalists in the ‘spin room’ did not believe Clegg’s line of only seven per cent of our laws being made in Brussels. He was referencing the number of regulations made by the EU which go straight onto the statute books without even being debated by MPs. But the vice-like grip EU institutions have on our laws go much further than those types of laws. It’s the mass of directives, rulings by the EU courts and the ECHR which make the numbers rocket well into double figures.
There was some shock at my comment that the EU has blood on its hands over Ukraine.
I’m not sure how this is controversial: there is a clear pattern of behaviour on how Russia reacts to eastward EU expansion and it’s not with invitations for a tea party and a polite chat.
It was only in 2012 that the EU was awarded the Noble Peace Prize, a decision which ranks with Putin’s nomination for this year’s prize. Yet this line that "the EU has kept the peace on the continent since 1945" was only briefly uttered. Did Mr Clegg not want to use it in light of the lives which have been lost in Ukraine? For all their talk of peace, the EU antagonised Mr Putin, knowing what his response would be.
But what genuinely did shock me was the callous reaction of the Deputy Prime Minister when I spoke of the European Arrest Warrant. To say that the suffering of Andrew Symeou was “pure fantasy” when the young lad was hauled off to a Greek prison with no prima facie evidence produced for why he was being extradited is outrageous. Andrew suffered immensely in a Greek prison, locked up with hardened criminals, and his life and those of his friends and family was put on hold. Bilateral agreements and British Embassies can ensure that British subjects who find themselves on the wrong side of the law get fair treatment. But the EAW can see someone dragged to any one of 27 other countries on the basis of one signature.
In Andrew’s own words after he heard what Mr Clegg had said:
“My case was anything but a fantasy, I was an innocent man in hell for no reason because of the European Arrest Warrant.”
I think at the start of the next debate Andrew Symeou needs an apology and perhaps we can have a real discussion about the consequences of handing over justice to the EU.