Belangrijkste adviseur Cameron gaat voor Brexit

By Steve Hilton for the Daily Mail.

Not long after starting work in Downing Street, I found myself on a Eurostar train heading for Brussels. It was an eye-opening trip. But its origin lay in a truly shocking discovery some weeks earlier.

Before the 2010 general election, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin, two of the Conservative Party’s key policymakers, and I had worked with each Tory shadow minister on detailed plans for the implementation of our policies — including work to understand how the EU would affect what we wanted to do.

We thought we had a pretty good idea of how to handle — or, ideally, circumnavigate — the constraints imposed by European rules, regulations and bureaucracy. However, we were little prepared for the sheer scale of it all.

After just a few weeks in government, I was struck by how many things the Government was doing that the Prime Minister and his team didn’t just not know about but actively disagreed with.

I investigated. It turned out that every few days, a pile of paperwork about a foot high was circulated in Whitehall. The paperwork gave the go-ahead for Government action and was supposedly based on written approval from the relevant ministers.

But here’s the catch: ministers were given two days to respond to any proposal. If no response came, then this was taken as a ‘yes’.

There was no way any minister could possibly read all the proposals by the deadline. Furthermore, there was an unspoken rule that one department wouldn’t interfere in proposals coming from another. In fact, as I recall, there was only one minister who regularly did so (much to the consternation of the others), and that was Michael Gove.

From my vantage point at No 10, though, I wanted to know where it all came from. What were these ‘requests for policy clearance’, as they were known? How many were really necessary for the delivery of our promises?

I asked for a detailed audit.

It turned out that some 30 per cent of government action was relevant to what we were supposed to be doing. The rest — you’ve guessed it — was generated from within the civil service machine, the majority coming from the EU.

That’s why I found myself on that Eurostar to Brussels. I wanted to know: how exactly do we end up with all these policies we don’t want, which no one in Britain voted for, and which waste so much time, energy and money?

With us on the journey was Sir Kim Darroch, then Britain’s Permanent Representative to the European Union — our top EU diplomat.

He briefed us on Brussels procedures, and how we might stop — or at least reduce — the flow of unwanted bureaucracy. It was a fascinating and enlightening conversation. The only problem was: almost everything he told us turned out to be completely wrong.

We spent the following day meeting various players in the Brussels set-up, in the European Commission, Parliament and Council, who explained how things really got done. And it slowly dawned on us that the man tasked with representing Britain in the EU literally didn’t understand how it worked.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, saying ‘there he goes again, attacking the civil service’, I want to make it clear that I have the highest respect for Sir Kim, who is a model public servant and now our Ambassador in Washington.

It’s not his fault: it’s the system that’s to blame.

It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage — even though I have no doubt that things have improved since the Coalition Government’s early days.

In this debate on the EU referendum, it’s easy to throw around terms like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’; ‘freedom’ and ‘bureaucracy’. But in the end, we’re debating not some abstract concept, but a very specific question about how our country should be run.

And my view, based on a pragmatic, non-ideological assessment of how the EU operates, is that as long as we are members, our country cannot be ‘run’. Membership of the EU makes Britain literally un-governable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.

A democracy is based on the notion that the people — or their directly-elected representatives — are able to decide issues for themselves. And yet membership of the EU brings with it constraints on everything from employment law to family policy, all determined through distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control.

You may say: Well, that’s government for you — it always involves compromise. Indeed it does, but at least in a democracy, the compromises are clear and transparent and can be argued over and influenced by the people who are affected by them. Yet no such possibility exists in the grotesquely unaccountable EU.

As I say to my American friends who don’t really get what the EU is: ‘All you need to know is that it has three presidents, none of whom is elected.’

The European Union was born out of lofty ideals. And for many years, it served a valuable purpose. As an expression of the liberal values of democracy and freedom, it was a beacon to the subjugated peoples of Europe — including in Communist Hungary, from where my own parents fled.

But, today, the EU has become the institutional manifestation of almost everything I argue against in my book, More Human.

There, I set out my view that the systems and structures we have designed to run the modern world have become too big, bureaucratic and distant from the human scale. And I make the case for what is in many ways a classical liberal reform agenda: I am pro-market, pro-enterprise, pro-trade, pro-putting power in people’s hands.

The EU does the opposite. It is anti-market, stifling innovation and competition with its statism, corporatism and bureaucracy.

It is anti-enterprise, acting in the interests of the big businesses that have corruptly captured the levers of power in Brussels through their shameless lobbying and insider deal-making, enabling a gradual corporate takeover of our country.

The European Union is anti-trade, locking developing countries out of world markets with its evil Common Agricultural Policy that feather-beds French farmers while keeping African farmers trapped in poverty — and despair.

And I don’t think even the EU’s most fervent supporters would ever claim that it ‘puts power in people’s hands’. The whole point of the EU is to take power out of people’s hands in pursuit of a greater good. The trouble is, it’s not good enough.

These are issues that a reformed EU might address. I could certainly live with an imperfect EU that nevertheless showed some willingness towards dispersing, rather than centralising, power.

But it is perfectly obvious to everyone, including Mr Cameron, that no such reorientation will ever be countenanced.

The arrogant and dismissive treatment of Britain’s relatively modest demands in the 2015/2016 negotiations shows that the EU is just not interested in anything other than superficial change. You might as well hope for Vladimir Putin to embrace liberal democracy. Of course, the EU is perfectly entitled to such a disposition. But it’s as well to be clear about it.

And so one way of thinking about this referendum is that the choice is actually not between staying and leaving — but between leaving, and joining a new EU.

Because the EU after a British vote to stay would be a very different creature from the one we have today. It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British with their endless complaining and threats to leave.

Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone. Look how they treated a British Prime Minister armed with the threat of Brexit. Can you imagine how they would treat a future PM without such a powerful card to play?

And remember that this is for the long term. Even if you think Cameron’s deal will protect us from the worst excesses of the EU, the fact is that he will be in office for only another four years at most.

What will happen in 14 years’ time? Or 24? Who knows what kind of Prime Minister we will have, and whether he or she will give up everything David Cameron negotiated — just like Tony Blair gave up the opt-out from the Social Chapter negotiated by John Major (a capitulation which meant that, under the system of qualified majority voting, Britain could subsequently be overruled by other European countries on issues such as working conditions and health and safety).

The one thing we can be certain of — because it’s based not on speculation or scaremongering but on what has happened in the past — is that the EU will only ever move in one direction: more centralisation, more bureaucracy, more power shifting further from people’s hands.

From that clarity should come an informed decision to leave. To regain control over our country’s destiny, so that a democratically elected government in Britain is free to carry out its mandate, whether that’s Left, Right or Centre.

For me, it would mean economic and employment policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business; family policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to bring up children; competition, planning and government reform that finally allows us to prioritise the small, the local, the ‘inefficient’, the beautiful, the human.

Others would have a different agenda. But don’t you see, if a political party wins the votes, then that party should be allowed to make it happen.

That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I think we should leave.

People ask: what about the economy, and access to Europe’s Single Market? Would we end up like Norway? Or Switzerland?

No. We’re bigger than that; better than that. Our independent relationship with the EU would be like that of our peers — the U.S. is not a member of the EU, but the last time I checked, General Motors had no problem selling cars there. Or Heinz, ketchup. Or Starbucks, coffee.

It’s a particular vanity of politicians to believe that all good things in the world come from their actions. The economic reality is that our success in trade depends far more on fundamental factors such as comparative advantage — whether we are designing and making things others want to buy — than on politicians’ bureaucratic schemes.

But the bottom line on the economic argument is that no one really knows. It’s clearly ridiculous to claim that it’s settled in either direction; there are risks whatever we do.

The real choice is not economic security or economic risk, but what kind of government will equip us best to cope with a risky, fast-changing world?

I think, on balance, that the answer to that question is a government that we control, that can move at a pace we set, rather than the inevitably sclerotic speed of a committee of 28 countries, with vastly different circumstances.

Then we’re told that the EU is vital for our security. Really? I was pretty amazed when I first heard this point being made. The idea that a British Prime Minister can’t protect Britain properly without the EU is frankly astonishing and, if true, rather alarming.

But, of course, it’s not true. Yes, in a complex world of global threats, we need security co-operation with other countries — like what happens in NATO. Forgive me if I’ve missed something, but I wasn’t aware that this referendum is about leaving NATO.

And our closest security partner is the U.S. We manage to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in fighting terrorism and other threats without being locked in a supra-national institutional embrace. We co-operate as two countries. That’s what we would do if we left the EU.

But perhaps the most powerful argument for leaving the EU is to look at the people who are wheeled out to persuade us to stay: figures like the International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, advertising giant Sir Martin Sorrell, as well as the Confederation of British Industry and all the other Establishment stooges.

They want us to stay in the EU because their whole world depends upon it. Their lifestyle of summit meetings and first-class flights and five-star hotels; their flitting and floating from New York to Brussels to Beijing, serving the interests of the technocratic elite — the bankers, bureaucrats and accountants who run the modern world and who, regardless of which government is in power in which country, push the same old dogma of global-isation, privatisation and centralisation.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of global trade and a champion of the private sector.

But when those good things are accompanied by centralisation, the result is an unhealthy concentration of economic and political power that is fundamentally hostile to my belief in individual freedom and social responsibility, and my confidence in human nature and the good that will come when individuals, families and neighbourhoods work together without a far-away administrator’s master-plan.

A decision to leave the EU is not without risk, but I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.

Bron: Daily Mail

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  1. Uiteraard. Je wilt natuurlijk wel een plaats voor jezelf én je partij veiligstellen wanneer de toekomstige kabinetten gevormd zullen worden. En dan maakt het niet uit wie er opstapt als leider, want de gevoerde politiek zal onveranderd doorgaan. En natuurlijk zullen zij proberen om op andere manieren en met andere bewoordingen precies hetzelfde eind resultaat te bewerkstelligen. Ik hoop dat mensen deze partij en deze politieke stroming voor altijd de rug toe keren, maar ik ben niet zo optimistisch.