What's New
Speeches & Articles
Newsletter - Jul 2012
Contact Information
Photo Album
Parliamentary Highlights
MEPs' Transparency

The Freedom Association
Visit the
Freedom Association

Straight Talking - June 2003

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Brussels

Please feel free to distribute this newsletter or to quote from it. If you want to go onto the e-mail list please click here.

The EU Constitution

Peter Hain MP is reported as saying that the proposed EU Constitution currently being drafted in Brussels is no more than "A tidying up of the existing treaties" and has no major constitutional implications for the UK. Therefore, he says, the Labour government will not agree to a referendum.

This goes far beyond the government's customary black arts of spin and exaggeration. It amounts to breathtaking mendacity.

It will be the greatest change in the governance of our country for a thousand years. It puts in place the final components of the EU super-state -- a legal personality and a Constitution. It makes explicit the supremacy of EU law over national laws. It establishes EU competence over just about every significant policy area except possibly for health.

The so-called "Charter of Fundamental Rights" goes further. By enshrining justiciable rights in the constitution, it not only passes power from Westminster to Brussels. It also transfers power from democratically elected institutions to unelected and unaccountable judges. The European Court (ECJ) is notorious for adopting an extreme "human rights" agenda, and for always seeking to promote integration by ruling in favour of the Union and against member-states.

The Charter extends an over-zealous rights régime to a dozen new areas, including social security, working conditions, occupation, disability, asylum -- and to "Integrity of the Person" and "Human Dignity" -- concepts so elastic they will give the ECJ a field day.

Not since the Norman Conquest have we seen so dramatic a change. It accomplishes the end of British independence, and the effective end of democracy in Europe, in one fell swoop. It would be a constitutional outrage for this government to ratify such a Constitution without the assent and authority of the people. For more details, http://www.rogerhelmer.com/eurocons.asp

Quote of the Month

Inigo Mendes de Vigo, a Spanish MEP, who chairs the European parliament's delegation on the Convention, commenting on the vexed debate about whether to put the outcome to a referendum:

"Some fear the Constitution will not be accepted. But isn't it an even bigger failure to know that your people would have rejected it if you had asked them to vote?"

Have your say on the EU Constitution!

The government is refusing a referendum -- so the Daily Mail is planning to run its own, on June 12th. It plans polling booths up and down the country, but you'll also be able to vote by 'phone and e-mail. It's vital that we get a credible turn-out on this vote. Please get your friends, neighbours, branch, constituency, Rotary Club or whatever to take part.


The Daily Mail of June 2nd carried an opinion poll showing that, given a straight choice between accepting the proposed EU Constitution, or leaving the EU entirely, a majority of the British people opted for withdrawal!

A letter to Tony Blair

I have just written to the Prime Minister in the following terms:

Dear Prime Minister,

The euro-zone is teetering on the brink of deflation. Germany is in recession and euro-zone unemployment is nearly double the UK level. Surely no sensible person would wish the British economy to converge with the euro-zone?

Will you now abandon your ideological commitment to the euro, and recognise economic reality?

Yrs etc.

John Prescott's Regionalisation plans

On May 16th I chaired a panel discussion in Northampton about regional-isation. We had Jim Harker, who leads Conservative Northampton-shire County Councillors, on the panel, as well as Brian Binley, Northampton South's outspoken PPC. Many thanks to Norman Pratt who organised the event.

We agreed that regionalisation would destroy effective local democracy in England, and that it played into the EU plan for "a Europe of regions governed from Brussels". And we had a lively debate about the relative merits of county councils and unitary authorities.

To have your say on regionalisation, take part in the on-line poll which Chris Heaton-Harris and I are running. Find it here.

I have been forced to complain to the East Midlands Regional Assembly, whose Communications Manager Simon Brian has used his publicly-funded position, and their publicly-funded journal, to promote the regionalisation agenda, and to attack those who see the EU face behind Prescott's mask as "mischief-makers and scare-mongers"

CLA worries about CAP mid-term review

On May 19th I visited the CLA's man in the East Midlands, Bruce Wilson-North, in his elegant office in a converted stable block near Market Harborough. The CLA and the RSPB have jointly written to Margaret Beckett setting out their concerns on the mid-term review of the CAP. I share their worries at the way in which farm subsidies may be "de-coupled" not only from production, but also from the land itself.

For more on the mid-term review plans, see this briefing.

EU pensions crisis starts to bite

I've been saying for years that the continental pensions crisis would drive governments to reduce benefits, raise taxes or increase borrowings -- leading to higher interest rates in the euro-zone. In recent weeks we've seen industrial unrest in Italy, Germany and Austria over pensions. Last week we had a public-sector transport- workers' strike that paralysed France -- while we MEPs were in Strasbourg. And today (May 20th) we have the Commission in Brussels on strike over plans to reduce pension benefits.

Personally, I don't mind if the Commission stays on strike indefinitely. But the pension crisis is starting to bite. It will mean higher interest rates and taxes in the euro-zone in the medium-term.

We in Britain have a simple choice. We can join the euro, buy-in to the continental pensions crisis, accept higher taxes and interest rates. Or we can keep the Pound.

Israel to join the EU?

Apparently Silvan Sharon, Israel's Foreign Minister, has declared that Israel wants to join the EU. My informant asks: "Hasn't Israel suffered enough?".

The dangers of proportional representation

On May 19th, I attended the Charnwood Borough Mayor-making, to see Councillor Jack Moore installed as Mayor, and I have to say he looked splendid in his mayoral robes and regalia -- indeed more like the Return of the King than the installation of the Mayor!

But what should have been a pleasant ceremony turned into a wrangle over control of the council. After the local elections, Conservatives form the largest single group on Charnwood Borough, but they will be outvoted by a Lib/Lab coalition.

I understand the anger and frustration of Charnwood Conservative councillors, but I'm afraid that that's how representative democracy works. The important lesson is this: if we let the Lib-Dems get away with their plans for proportional representation, then we shall have the same problem in just about every council in the land.

Environmental liability

In the May Strasbourg session, the parliament voted through an officious proposal making companies responsible for environmental liability. Now of course there should be -- and there are -- powerful incentives for good environmental behaviour. But as usual, the EU's proposals go way over the top.

Companies will be liable for damage that they could not have foreseen, and despite operating to best practice at the time. They will be legally required to take out types of environmental insurance for which a market does not yet exist, and which because of the huge uncertainty involved will be ruinously expensive.

Companies are already going out of business in the UK because of the spiralling costs of professional and employee liability insurance. This new measure will pile on the agony. Firms will go bust, jobs will be lost. And in the longer term, investors will seek more business-friendly locations in America or Asia.

Is there any good news on this issue? We won a series of amendments which will make the directive less onerous than it might have been. But it will still be quite bad enough. British Labour and Lib-Dem MEPs voted FOR this damaging measure -- and the Labour MEPs were voting, again, in defiance of their own government's policy.

New friends from the East

The "H-Block" -- Chris Heaton-Harris, myself and Dan Hannan MEP, and other like-minded euro-realist Tories, are in the habit of dining together one night during our monthly Strasbourg weeks. We invariably have a lively political discussion on developments in the EU.

In May, we decided to invite some of the new "observers" from the EU accession states to our dinner. Many of these people will become MEPs next year.

I want to tell you about Michał Tomasz Kamiński, currently serving a second term in the Polish parliament, although he's only 31. In 1985 at the age of 13, under a Communist government, he used to listen to the BBC on a clandestine radio, and he heard about a strong Western leader called Margaret Thatcher. At that young age, he decided he wanted to be a politician, and he wanted to be a Conservative. He has achieved both objectives.

Although his party, the conservative Justice & Law Party, has initially aligned itself with us Tories in the EPP- ED group, he believes we ought to break out of this federalist group and form a new, Conservative group in the parliament. Michal is a breath of fresh air blowing through the federalist cobwebs.

It seems that the accession states may rally to our banner in the fight for a Europe of free, independent, democratic states.

Free beer for votes!

The EU referendum in Lithuania was marked by all kinds of electoral shenanigans. After the first of two day's voting, turnout was below target to reach the 50% qualifying threshold. The YES campaign continued to pump out propaganda, in defiance of Lithuanian law, which requires a moratorium over the election itself.

And in an act of bare-faced, naked bribery, a local supermarket entrepreneur offered free beer vouchers to voters who could prove they'd voted. That's EU democracy in action.

Later in June, I shall be going to Estonia to participate in the EU referendum debate in Tallinn.


Please remember to check my web-site at www.rogerhelmer.com for more background on current parliamentary business and other issues.