The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Sovereignty Matters

I met a young man from Ireland this weekend. An undergraduate. Keen to "respect" the result of our Referendum for sovereignty.

But certain that the price for it would be to make the UK "poorer". Keen to impress too that Ireland's prosperity was implicitly linked to EU membership and astonishingly accepting of it as an undemocratic institution. How convenient to forget that we were talking of Ireland as the "Celtic Tiger" economy from the mid-90's and for 15 years made little mention of the EU being its driver because it was not and how much its low corporation taxes were. And that it was these that enabled it to grow an outsize financial services sector and one that created cheap money into its economy.

He did though kindly acknowledged the UK as the only country that willingly gave to Ireland its only bilateral loan in 2010 to prevent its banking system collapsing after the 2008 financial crisis.

How did we arrive at a situation in which the "citizens" of the EU willingly accept a dilution of their democratic rights and repose their trust in its institutions despite that? Is it a studied evaluation of the institutions and a close reading of the Maastricht Treaty that made them those "citizens" of a supra-national institution, or is it some wilful and "glorious ignorance"?

Earlier this month we received the incredible news that the President of the European Commission accommodated his Chief of Staff to assume the role of Deputy Secretary-General of the EU Commission one moment and, within the hour made that same deputy the "Secretary-General " of it too. The originally appointed Secretary-General had suddenly resigned. This man has never sought not achieved any elected office. But now is in a state of near-absolute control of the 33,000 civil servants who constitute the European Commission. The newly installed Secretary General then emailed the entire civil service declaring them, "the heart and soul" of the Commission. Pity then the 28 European Commissioners who have little if any control over the new Secretary-General. The only person who seems to is the President and who is due to retire in 2019. One wonders who will appoint his replacement.

The President of the European Commission, Mr Juncker, said that Commission staff were not to be seen as German or other nationalities but as "from" Germany. They were Europeans. Perhaps this is the same rationale that enables that young man from Ireland to place his confidence in an unelected official being placed at the head of the Commission. As BBC journalist Adam Fleming says, "To me, it is the latest twist in a long-running tussle over where power lies in Europe: with the Member States or with an increasingly political Commission that seeks to protect the very idea of the EU."

And now the very idea of the EU is thus to deliver a prosperity for its people at the price of a dis-functional democracy despite them. Perhaps then that young Irishman was entirely correct.

But how can Europe of all places have let that happen and why have they forgotten the most precious and priceless democracy that is freedom itself and that their experience of the loss of it was the causal reason for the EC's creation? And how much more may we value ours here, the impartial and un-politicised Civil Service that we have here, our Common Laws and what they mean. Built on precedent from below not decreed by legislators from above. A fundamental difference that places the people at the heart of our nation. The reason why Parliament is at its core.

As Professor Igor Grazin, the man who delivered the Estonian Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1991 to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Head of the Soviet Union, and who now advises the UK on Brexit, said last week, describing Estonia's independence from the Soviet Union "Every Soviet Republic has the right to secede from the Soviet Federation … and if Estonia voluntarily joined the Federation it did so as a sovereign nation, which is something that cannot be shared, then it left it as a sovereign nation to gain its independence and freedom."

The Transition Agreement may not be perfect, but the most perfect step has begun for us in it. For it enables the United Kingdom to negotiate, sign and ratify our own trade deals during transition. That means our independent trade policy begins in a year. And with that our sovereignty too.

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Monday, 21 May 2018

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