The spectre of the UK leaving the EU is, unfortunately, rearing its ugly head again. In a question and answer session last week, Ed Miliband draw attention to the many benefits Britain gained by its membership of the world’s largest trading bloc. Focusing on the downside of a British exit from the EU, Ed stated that “jobs depend on it (the EU), families depend on it, businesses depend on it…I just think we are much, much better working within the EU than not”. Speaking at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, Ed Miliband said that, economics aside, there are other drawbacks. “Just think about countering terrorism. We are much better working across borders to do that”.
In the light of this speech of Ed’s, it is worth reiterating that it appears the Conservative Party has not yet understood that in the 21st century terrorism, along with organised crime and trafficking, is transnational in nature, and shutting ourselves off from our neighbours and allies only serves to encourage the extremists and weaken our position. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the UK had the option to reject all the measures adopted prior to its entry into force.
The Tory-led coalition did, in fact, do this, and then selectively opted back into some of the provisions, meaning that law enforcement can rely on its European counterparts sometimes, and sometimes not. The Tories have determinedly kept us out of Justice and Home Affairs measures, weakening the opportunities of our police forces and security services to effectively neutralise threats. Once more the ideology has trumped the practicality, although this time with potentially fatal consequences.
As if that wasn’t enough, it has also meant that the other Member States are becoming more rigid in their attitude to our picking and choosing; meaning that the era of the UK having its cake and eating it is coming to an end.
As I have stated before on this blog, the almost schizophrenic stance of the Tories leads to unpredictable results, lengthy court cases and difficulties in practical enforcement. It will be interesting indeed to see how they justify this to the British people in the run-up to the general election.