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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Frederick Forsyth addressed the Group

No clash with a world cup game


Frederick Forsyth

Before I even begin properly, I’d like to introduce a small friend of mine. I think I invented him, and therefore I have a certain proprietorial interest. He is I think much overlooked and underrated and I call him the APR. APR stands simply for ‘Achievable Political Reality’. I do sometimes get puzzled to the point of exasperation by the amount of time, trouble and effort that is spent on what I might call chasing a blue moon: the impossible, the unachievable, the unreachable, the ain’t-gonna-happen project. I will come back to the APR later.

I have for quite a number of years felt that we were asking ourselves all the wrong questions about the European Union and ourselves, the British – why we joined, what we expected, in what way we have been disappointed or fulfilled. I think we have been asking the wrong questions in this sense: we have been asking ‘whether Europe?’ Well, the answer to that is a foregone conclusion: ‘of course, Europe’. In the sense that Europe is a continent. It is not going to disappear. It will not vaporise. It has been there for thousands of years, it will be there for many, many years yet to come. And therefore I deeply resent the use – and it goes on endlessly, including I’m afraid, despite my imprecations in the Daily Telegraph – of using those two useless and indeed insulting phrases, ‘pro-European’ and ‘anti-European’. I am no more an anti-European than I disapprove of Antarctica or am more or less in favour of Asia. You cannot be pro-European unless you approve of the entire continent. You cannot be anti-European unless you are so deranged that you actually loath the continent, the nation states and principalities of that continent, the charming people who live on that continent, the superb cuisines that come from that continent and the wonderful culture that prevails on that continent. I refer of course to that piece of land from Spitzbergen down to the southern coast of Sicily, and from Bantry Bay across to Brest-Litovsk. It’s a huge piece of territory, it’s a talented piece of territory, it’s a piece of territory with a remarkable history and it’s a piece of territory with which we British have had a relationship at least a thousand years old. Let’s draw a line somewhere around the time of William of Normandy. And so we’ve been trading with them, we’ve been exchanging visits and yes we’ve been fighting with them, there’s no question about that. But they’ve also been fighting between each other of course. It’s not always been one way, it’s not always been across the channel. There have been horrendous wars that have torn Europe apart, which did not involve us. Others of course did involve us. But the fact simply is that you can’t say ‘I’m anti-European’. The phrase is ‘opposed to the EU’. And I wish that journalists would say that. The more so as ‘EU’ is shorter to write than ‘European’.

I believe there is another question we should have been asking for quite some time. I spotted, I thought, a sea-change just after the Maastricht Treaty. It is possible that I missed my queue with the Single Europe Act. I didn’t see the danger of it. I didn’t see the peril involved in that act. But then neither did a far, far cleverer person than I, by the name of Margaret Hilda Thatcher. That’s why when she finally did wake up to what she had been advised to sign, she gave a speech that in a way gives its name to this club, the Bruges Speech – ‘no, no, no’. And you will probably not be surprised to recall that it was almost exactly synonymous with her repudiation of two things she felt she should never have done. One was the Single European Act, signing and ratification thereof. The other was the entry into the Exchange Rate Mechanism. But at the moment she repudiated those two, she was in a sense doomed, because that was the moment of the metamorphosis of people like Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine, who decided that she was going to be politically assassinated. It was not about the poll tax, unpopular though it was. It was specifically because she had repudiated their three friends – Kohl of Germany, Mitterrand of France and Andreotti of Italy. From the moment she did that, I think her fate was sealed, certainly in the minds of people like Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine. Chris Patten of course was another one and Kenneth Clarke. There are others. She upset a very powerful cabal in our country that is quite literally dedicated, fanatically, to a futuristic dream. It’s a vision, it’s a dream, it’s an imagined utopia, that for them is as powerful as high mass to a Jesuit. In its name they will happily destroy the Conservative party, while challenging anybody who opposes them on the grounds that it is they who must show solidarity and not ‘split the party’. But you will, if you recall the last few years, note that every time any mention is made that is mildly critical of our relationship with the EU or indeed the EU itself, then bang out of the left field comes Lord Heseltine with phrases like ‘headbanger’ and Kenneth Clarke with phrases like ‘xenophobe’, which he’s just used about David Cameron, for suggesting that it might be wise to repeal the Human Rights Act, which as we all know is a thundering mess.

I believe that there is another question that we should have been asking for quite some time. And Maastricht – that was for me the rubicon. I looked at Maastricht, which Kenneth Clarke said that he wholly supported but unfortunately hadn’t actually been able to devote the time to read. But I realised that what we had signed up to was something now quite different. A transformation either had taken place or certainly under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty was going to take place. The question, I think, that should have been both posed and answered – and that is after all fourteen years ago now, 1992; for fourteen years I think we’ve been pursuing the wrong hare – the question that is really the key to the entire argument is not ‘whether Europe?’ but ‘whither Europe?’ We have not been asking ourselves, or we have not been demanding of the senior editors, the senior columnists, the pundits, the correspondents, the politicians, the flat answer – ‘where exactly is the destination of the European project?’ I don’t think they could answer it. I sat once in a meeting in, well I don’t know what I was doing in the meeting but I was invited clearly by a renegade to a meeting at the Financial Times editorial offices in Blackfriars to listen to Mr Pohl. He was a former president of the Bundesbank and he had been eased out of that presidency by Helmut Kohl specifically to work with Jacques Delors in the creation of the new currency, the Euro. And he was, I thought, extremely forthcoming. He said, ‘It is my duty to tell you my English friends (they never say British, I don’t know why, they always say English) that you will have to abandon the British nation state because the future has no provision for the nation state within it’. There was a stunned silence. And then in the course of the remarks that followed almost immediately afterwards, Peter Hain stood up and told us quite bluntly that we had not heard what we thought we had heard. It hadn’t been said. And a rather bemused German former president of the Bundesbank sat there as if someone had accused him of being slightly deranged. He had of course said exactly what he had said. We had all heard it. It was beyond doubt his informed position. He was giving us the final destination of the European Union project. I began to think at that point, and that was a few years ago, that my instinct was probably accurate, it was indeed the question that should be asked. ‘Where is the European Union actually going?’ The continent is on a journey, all journeys have destinations, we have a reasonable right to know what the European destination is one day to be? We cannot yet ask whether it will be 2010, 2015, 2020 or 2025, but somewhere out there in the future there is a moment, there must be, at which a Euro-federal fanatic will be able to say, ‘At last we have completed what we set out to achieve, we have arrived at the point we set out to arrive at. All the striving has now come to its fruition, we have reached our conclusion’. And we who have the gravest doubts about the whole project have not been asking and demanding an answer to that question: ‘where exactly, gentlemen, are you going?’ So for me the question is not ‘whether Europe?’ That I think is already answered. The answer will be of course Europe, meaning of course it’s going to stay there, of course it’s not going to go away, of course it will be our neighbour as it has been for a thousand years for the next thousand years, of course we will visit it, of course we will trade with it, of course we will have cultural and sporting exchanges, of course we will hopefully have the friendliest conceivable relationships with all the countries of it. That’s not the question. The question is ‘what kind of Europe?’

The more we just examine that seemingly simple question, the more you perceive that something very weird has been going on. East of Calais, it is both customary and desired that those who are deeply espoused to the project announce publicly, openly, honestly and triumphantly that the goal is step by step being achieved and that goal is the United States of Europe. In my view the phrase USE is used quite deliberately because it indicates or hints that we will have something to match the USA. The USA as we know is the richest, most militarily powerful, most economically dynamic, mass parliamentary democracy on the face of this planet so far. To be able to match the USA in clout, in world influence, in military formidability would indeed be remarkable. Therefore I believe that the phrase USE has that purpose. It is to persuade the listener that that is what one day we are going to be members of – a United States of Europe. It is well pointed out that the United States of Europe is in fact a federal republic in which all the states – a word used by the Americans but which we would call regions or provinces – are devolved regional territories. Yes they have their own parliaments, yes they have their own governors, but they are still devolved regional territories. Iowa is not a sovereign state, so let us not be confused by that simple five letter word. Iowa is a province. Iowa is a region. Wyoming is not a state as we understand the word state, the state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is not a nation state, so I will not again use the simple word state, I will always prefix it by the second noun nation. A nation state is what we are – damaged, produced, but still visibly and perceivably a nation state. In the Europe of the future, the enthusiasts east of Calais are quite content, indeed pleased, to point out that there will be no place for the nation state. That is not the conception. The conception is quite simply for a United States of Europe, with one central federal government and devolved regional authorities that have local government at regional level but otherwise are governed from the single central core. That is the dream, that is the utopia, that is the vision. If we could ask our European friends, partners, very often competitors also, ‘is that truly where you’re going?’ I think the overwhelming answer, whether from Angela Merkel or from Mr Sarkozy or his friend, although not so friendly, Dominique de Villepin, or whether it would be Mr Prodi down in Rome, or whether it be Mr Persson in Sweden, the answer across Europe would be – yes, that is actually where we’re going, that’s what we believe to be the end of the line. The oddity is that over here, as soon as you see those white cliffs of Dover coming up to breach, you run into a completely different situation, because our Euro-fanatics have been absolutely avid in denying any such thing. They have told us all – and will still go on the Today programme or Tonight or Question Time or anything else, to say – it’s all rubbish, it’s all nonsense, it is the cobweb spinning of mindless paranoiacs, there’s no such ambition, there’s no such destination. How odd. It is exactly the destination that they seek. It is like the Knights of the Round Table denying the existence of the holy grail and that there is any search going on for it, when it is indeed their entire raison d’etre. I think that we have to accept that it is not going to change. There is not going to be, I don’t believe, a re-evaluation, a reconsideration. No-one east of Calais has the slightest intent of going back to the Treaty of Rome and rewriting it. I don’t believe for a minute that there is any intention to back off one single inch from the ongoing programme, known as simply the ‘projet’, the project – a nice word because it translates into almost every European language without much change. It is the project and it is supranational and it has its dedicated, I do mean dedicated, knights templar, who are going to fight for it and destroy anybody in their path, and they have done this several times.

So if we can answer that question, we have to face a second one, in the event that ‘what kind of Europe?’ is a question that has now been answered. It wasn’t answered perhaps ten years ago, there was room for doubt, there was room for confusion. But I would have thought by 2006 it has been comprehensively answered. Yes, that is where Europe is going. We then come to question two, which we cannot answer until we have answered question one. Question two is: what should be our country’s optimum relationship with that future USE? Now our fanatics would say they’d call it cooperation. It’s more than that. It is in fact complete subsumation, absorption. That is what they seek. And I happen to think that if you went out there into that vast and, let’s face it, pretty apathetic, pretty ‘couldn’t care less’ public, you would run into a wall of apathy. It’s a wall of apathy that entirely suits those who are politically and constitutionally our opponents. But if you can get past the wall of apathy, which is occasionally done by pollsters, and you ask quite simply – given a clear choice between citizenship of a devolved regional territory of the United States of Europe and continued citizenry of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, meaning a sovereign self-governing independent nation state, what is your choice? I think you’re talking 90-10. Ironically, you’d probably get 60-40 in France. You’d probably get about 70-30, meaning 70-30 in favour of the United States of Europe in Italy, which is very, very passionately Euro-federalist. The same probably in Spain. You would get I think a win, if you like, for the continuation of the nation state from the Danes, not certain about the Finns and the Swedes. The Dutch and Luxembourgers and Belgians, I don’t think there’s much doubt there, although the Dutch did give us a bit of a shock by saying no to the constitution. I didn’t think the Dutch had it in them. Apparently they do. However, you can also be guaranteed there will be no consultation of the European peoples on that. Once bitten, twice shy. As you know, sixteen nations of twenty five have now passed the European constitution into their state law, four by referendum. But the two who lost their referendums actually were inviting a hubris on an awesome scale. The powers that be in Paris were so convinced that they’d win a handsome 60-40 at least, Oui, and the Dutch in Amsterdam were so convinced that they too would get a 60-40 Ya, that they gave a choice to their peoples that they will never do it again, and neither I think will anybody else across the face of Europe. So there will not be any popular uprising, either physically or electorally, in Europe. In that sense, we, the British, are on our own.

Now, I come down to my little friend, the Achievable Political Reality. If we are ever to extricate this country of ours from a destiny that the Heseltines and the Hurds, the Pattens and the Clarkes, and the Majors and the Gummer, and the Britons and the Howes, would have us subscribe to, it is absolutely going to have to be done by an incumbent British government. It will not be done by an opposition, it will not be done by a protest group, it will not be done by the Anti-Maastricht Alliance or the Campaign for Independent Britain or the Democratic or, let’s face it, the Bruges Group. It will be done if at all by an incumbent British government. They are the only people who have or ever will have the power to do it. That, I think, is APR number one.

Number two is that I do not believe the leadership of the Labour party at the present or in the future, no matter who wins the succession, nor the Liberal Democratic party, nor the Conservative party, will ever do it unilaterally. Meaning, unless subjected to intolerable pressure. I do not believe that our present Conservative party leader will be toppled. I think David Cameron is there for the duration, by which I mean at least the next election, And I do not believe that he will be able to shake off the palsied grip of the Heseltines and the Gummers and the Clarkes who now surround him by his own choice. Therefore I do not believe that extrication will be achieved by the pursuit of the policy known as ‘BOO’ (Better Off Out). We may agree with it, we may applaud it, but I do not believe that despite ten Conservative MPs, or nine now because Eric Forth died of course, we’ll ever actually achieve a majority within the Conservative parliamentary party, I do not believe that BOO will achieve its end in one fell swoop.

Before you say, ‘what the hell did you come here to tell us that for?’ let me stress that I believe it can be done but I believe it has to be done by the same methodology used on us since Maastricht. We have been duped, conned, gulled, deceived, tricked and lied to. And we are going to have to be as duplicitous as our opponents have been. If it is to happen, I believe it will happen on the basis of a national referendum and I believe that the aim, the pressure, every form of persuasion that can be brought by those who want to see this country as sovereign self-governing independent nation state, that they will one day hand on to their children and their grandchildren, that those are going to have to realise that what we have to seek, what we have to demand until the pressure becomes relentless, is a national referendum. It’s not as weird as it sounds. The first ever held in this country was held by a Labour Prime Minister called Harold Wilson in 1975. We have never had a national referendum since. That is a generation ago, meaning no-one under 50 could have voted in it. We are, I believe, entitled to another one, on a number of grounds. Excepting Germany, whose constitution forbids them, every nation in Europe has had a referendum on an aspect of the EU since 1975. Some have had several. Ireland’s constitution specifically says that any change to that constitution must be ratified by referendum. They have had three. The one on the Nice treaty they said no to. Naturally, they had to be given a good shaking and then told to vote again. The Danes have had three. On the first one they said Nie. They were taken to Edinburgh, where Sir Douglas Hurd broke several metatarsals and they voted again and said Ja. The third one, when they were asked to abolish the Euro, they said Nie yet again, this time by a seven per cent majority, which was unreversable and so they were allowed to get away with it. Just about every entering country, and don’t forget we entered to make six into nine – now 25, 16 have entered since us – they all had a referendum on entry. Others have had a referendum on the Euro, the constitution (six – four said yes, two said no). We have not. I believe that we can say with complete justification, we’re entitled to one. We are entitled to revisit 1975. We should demand, not I fear of the Labour party, I think we should demand of the Conservative party. But demanding is all very well; people have been demanding things like law and order, good policing, a bobby in the village, a copper on the street. It doesn’t change a damn thing. But you know things can occasionally change, even the Labour party. You may remember the 1997 election, that the one thing that the late James Goldsmith did actually bequeath to this country is that he frightened John Major into guaranteeing that we would not abolish the pound sterling without a referendum. Then he died. Of course he didn’t win, or did not indeed win a seat. But nevertheless he did shame or frighten, I think frighten is a better word, John Major into that pledge. John Major actually managed to shame the then rather timid newcomer, Tony Blair, into matching that pledge. As you know, it never happened, because the whole issue was kicked into the long grass and for good reason – they knew that it would lose massively if they held one. Later, Peter Hain told anybody that would listen to put your posters and your banners away, there is going to be no repeat no referendum on the ratification of the Giscardian constitution.

The pressure built up and Blair changed his mind. That too has been kicked into the long grass probably because they know that they would lose by an awesome and frightening majority if they attempted it. So the Labour party can be bent. Whether it would happen under a Gordon Brown or an Alan Johnson I don’t know, but what I am quite sure of is that, if those who love this country to a point where its freedom its continuation and its democracy are simply non negotiable are prepared to unify and adopt a ‘one demand’ policy, then the pressure can be brought on the Conservative leadership that will become quite irresistible. I do not think it will happen without the methodology of our old friends who held sway not very far from here, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The only way to be heard, to be listened to and to be abided by, is to speak softly and carry one hell of a big stick. If those out there in the constituencies and the shires, those on the constituency associations can make it quite plain that this MP is not coming back to the house unless the Conservative leader gives a pledge that within twelve months of entering Downing Street he will grant this nation a national referendum. At the point where they know that they are going to lose fifty seats they’ll buckle, despite the screams of Clarke, Heseltine and Patten. They will buckle despite the whinging of Hurd and Howe. They will buckle because politics is about reality. The reality is, if it is clear to the present leadership that you are not going to enter Downing Street, because quite simply two to three or maybe even up to four million loyal Tory voters are going to mow the lawn on polling day, they will grant the referendum. It’s going to be a question of who can be more ruthless. Up till now the ruthlessness stakes have always been won by the Euro-fanatics. They have been quite prepared to destroy the party to tear it apart. To break open its unity on the issue to them is like saying mass to a Jesuit while blaming those who disagree with them. Well that’s got to stop; it’s got to be made quite plain that there are enough people in this country who simply will not vote for either of the main parties that fails to give the pledge of a referendum. I happen to think that there is going to be, unless it fails, a movement starting soon. I don’t know its name yet as it has not yet been discussed. It’s not political it is not party political, it is not pro- or anti-EU, it is not Labour, it is not Conservative, it is not Lib Dem, it is not UKIP – it is simply a movement that is going to demand a referendum and ask those who agree to log on and make their names heard and noted. This can be done online for the elderly who perhaps do not have a computer. It can be done with a small docket from a national newspaper that can be mailed back to a certain office. If the figure ever reaches, I put it at three million people spread over 300 of the most marginal constituencies of this country that are almost entirely in England, then I believe that it will be quite plain to the number crunchers both at Labour party headquarters and at the Tory party headquarters, that you are simply not going to win this election unless you take the pledge. So that’s what I believe is and should be the struggle of everybody who loves this country beyond mere convenience for the next three maybe four years. If we can do it, if we can unify, that we are all in the same boat, that we are all going for the one target, then I believe that we will have a referendum. It won’t be tomorrow. I don’t even think that it will be under the present Labour government. I think we have to demand that we want a pledge from one or both that within one calendar year of entering office after the next election. There will be an irreversible pledge that there will be a national referendum. One final point: we must under no circumstances permit our opponents to write the question. That will be what they will seek to do. Some say the question they will seek will be: ‘EU – in or out?’ A word of caution, given the hundreds of millions of pounds that will pour into the pro-EU campaign and there will be virtually limitless money and every rule will be broken, every ceiling will be broken. It will be very hard to match the fanaticism of the Euro-fanatics and their Brussels allies in terms of their budgetary allowances. That’s why I said: APR, achievable political reality. If we said that we want the repatriation of two powers – we want our borders back and we want our law courts back – I think those people out there, say eighteen to twenty, would say ‘yep, sounds good to me’. You and I know, Lord Heseltine will know, Lord Hurd will know and Lord Patten will know that it’s ungrantable because it reverses acquis communitaire. That is the weapon with which our sovereignty has been slowly eroded and removed from us. Not one power, not one authority, not one competency ever transferred from national government to supranational government can ever be returned. If it were to be returned, if the acquis communitare would be destroyed, the house of cards would come down tumbling down because fifteen other nations right across Europe would say, ‘while we’re on the subject gentleman; we’d like this returned to us’.

Whatever the question will be, which I don’t know, I suspect to be safe we’d be wise to go for duplicity rather than overtness. We must demand our referendum and we must demand repatriation of competencies that should never have been transferred, but which if repatriated would certainly lead to extrication. That’s what I want to see and that’s what I’m going to devote my energies to the next three or four years. I hope one day to walk into a small voting booth and see a question with a yes box and a no box. I hope to be able to put my cross where it ought to be. I hope that eighty percent of my fellow countrymen will be putting their crosses where they ought to be. And I hope the outcome will be that the incumbent British Prime Minister, who may then be a young man representing the constituency of Witney, will do what he has to do because he has no choice. That will be a mandate that cannot be disobeyed.

What would be the best way for us to run the referendum campaign?

Keep it about country. Don’t keep it about treaties, about competencies, about powers. Keep it about our country. What do you want your country to be when you hand it over to your children? This or this? Stop frigging around and answer. I think eighty percent of Britain will say that they want to hand over a sovereign independent Britain to Europe if asked in irreducible terms of country versus abolition of country.

There are grave dangers of waiting till Europe has hold of this country, as the EU tightens its grip on this country every day. I would like to propose that we don’t have to wait for the government to give us a referendum. We can call our own. This country is awash with money and there are more than enough people here who can finance a referendum and I believe that there is an international obligation from before the war that any country is entitled to a referendum for self determination. What better way could there be of forcing the government to give us one than calling our own?

I agree. The trouble is we’re talking many, many millions. You’d have to find a donor with very deep pockets indeed. It was done in Scotland – a private referendum by the gentleman who owned Stagecoach bus company, who was sufficiently angered by clause 28, the clause promoting homosexuality in schools, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament. He objected and funded a Scotland-wide referendum. It was disregarded and I don’t believe any private referendum, however expensive or however beautifully done, would in fact not be disregarded by the kind of people that we have at the top of all our political parties at the present time. Between elections what do we have but polls? The polls already say seventy to seventy five percent on question after question on the EU and they don’t take a blind bit of notice. So it has to be a pledge by the next incumbent premier.

The Conservative party now has left wingers surrounding the party leader. Do you really understand the nature of the new Tory leadership? They have no intention under any circumstances of withdrawing from the European Union. They are certainly not like those who surrounded Ian Duncan-Smith or William Hague. They are more from the left wing of the party. They have made clear that although they don’t mind anti-European opinions, anyone holding them will not be allowed to serve in a Conservative Government. There is a very sharp move back to the left and this could be Seldon part two and they could be very different in government. Now, how Sir are you going to convince even David Cameron's regime, which is far more left wing than that of John Major, to pursue your particular course of action? Some would say we should go to the wall to pursue our agenda. I would rather we do that than compromise our position.

I can only reply: I don’t care who they are – if they are up there, they are susceptible to what I would call an iron bar across the back of the head. I’ve never known a politician who wasn’t. I think when they realise they are going to get an iron bar across the back of the head, it would mean a loss of all their offices, salaries and all their perks. Or they do what people want them – they’ll buckle. They’re not going to buckle without immense pressure.

I think UKIP could be an umbrella generating support for the referendum that you suggested. What do you think?

UKIP has not won one single parliamentary seat. They continually lose all their deposits and the cost of that is very high. I do not see Mr Farage as our Prime Minister in Downing Street. Therefore he is not an APR, he is not an achievable political reality, his premiership is not going to happen. Neither is that of Menzies Campbell. And therefore I do not see the point of wooing. We know what the position of UKIP will be. It will be wholly in favour of BOO, which it is, and, I hope, wholly in favour of a referendum and every ally is welcome. I do not think it will be the target of the referendum campaign because I do not think they will be in a position to grant us a referendum. Only two parties I think in my lifetime will be able to grant a national referendum at the moment. One is headed by Gordon Brown and the other is headed by David Cameron. Some changes are going to have to be made.

Why is there such denial by the leaders of this country about the European project?

The last one who in fact did ,em>not deny it was Margaret Thatcher and it cost her her premiership. I’ve not the slightest doubt that that was what brought her down. It wasn’t poll tax. It was the rebellion. As for why it’s what is called the ‘received wisdom’ To appear you’re a skeptic in high office you have to know that almost the entirety of the diplomatic core is against you. The whole civil service is against you. Large swathes of academia are against you. Starting with the BBC of course, which is passionately pro EU, well over fifty per cent of the media are against you. You really have to have a streak of masochism to say: 'I’m going to lead this party in this direction', knowing that even if I do so I will be crucified on an hourly basis by half the media and denounced by what you might call the establishment down to about ninety five percent. But it is the establishment, the great and the good, the illuminati, who of course are not illuminated at all. And this is going to have to be tackled if you like vox populi against entrenched privilege. It has happened before and we have won before. Not for some time. But it can be done and, oddly enough, because of all the nervousness, the establishment has now been contemplating us, the hoi poloi, the demos. We have a better chance now than we would have done under Macmillan. There are reasons why it can work in three years from 2006 to 2009. If it doesn’t I think we’re supped.

How does the British monarchy fit in if we are going to get a United States of Europe?

Well may you ask. There is of course a King of Sweden, there’s the Queen of the Netherlands, there’s the King of Belgium, there’s a Queen of Denmark, there’s a King of Spain, there’s a Grand Duke of Luxembourg. And then there is Queen Elizabeth the Second. And where does she fit in? Basically, I think in the dream, in the utopia that the Euro-fanatics have, they would be like all other national pageantry – amusing, entertaining, very good for tourism but otherwise irrelevant. So I can foresee a day is possible where our guards can march up and down the Mall until they’re blue in the face but the man who will command their dispositions and their deployments will be a Finnish general in Brussels. And our parliament can meet and debate until the cows come home; it doesn’t matter, because they will be permitted or overruled; whatever they decide will either be allowed or disallowed on the other side of the channel. I recall the time when the Scottish comedian Billy Connelly was asked about the Scottish parliament, did he approve or not? He said he didn't, which was eyebrow raising at the time, because someone said ‘why?’ He said ‘I can see no point in a wee pretend parliament’. We could well end up with a wee pretend Westminster. That means that real power will no longer be in Westminster.

The Euro-fanatics very quickly shift the debate onto their territory and present black and white questions: that the EU could never stand for that repatriation of powers, we would be in a minority of one and so on and so forth. Also, that the referendum would effectively be one of ‘in or out?’ How would you counter this?

That would be their first tactic. And the answer is: why have you a rooted objection to consulting the people? Those forces asking for a referendum are not saying ‘in or out?’, are not saying ‘yay or nay?’ They’re not saying ‘Labour or Tory?’ They are just saying ‘consult the people’. It’s been thirty five years. Consult the people. Therefore, those denouncing the referendum would have to explain why it is so utterly pernicious to consult the people of this country on the future of their land. It’s not an easy question to answer in terms of BOO, in terms of realism, because it’s very hard to contest the right of people to be consulted and to seek their minds.

I’ve noticed that, during the past two years, in an effort to try and keep the European project moving forward, there have been certain compromises made. Some countries are going for political integration while turning their noses away from economic integration and vice versa. Could it be possible that in the future the EU, in an effort to try and make itself relevant in any kind of way, might end up diluting their purpose to such an extent that they could render some of its power?

Would the EU ever consider, in the face of its mounting unpopularity, diluting its power? The answer is temporarily yes, it’s done that before. It said, OK we accept that the Giscardian constitution is dead and has been turned down by two major countries, two founder members and hitherto two passionately Euro-federalist members. Therefore it surely must be dead. That lasted about an hour. From then on the programme has been quietly forwarded at every level to pass through in secret conclave, paragraph after paragraph of rejected clause that was in that constitution. When they see a level of popularity that becomes uncomfortable, they do indeed pretend they’re pulling back. You’re quite right on one other point that you made. There is restiveness now right across Europe. There is even restiveness in the new joinees on certain points. So I don’t believe that we would actually be unsupported by powerful voices across Europe who would say we too would like a referendum, we too would like power returned here to our national capital. It is always presumed that we are the only Eurosceptic nation in Europe. We're not. We are the most Eurosceptic. We’ve actually had an Italian minister overtly suggesting that Italy might like to go back to the Lira. So we are not wholly alone.

What do you think motivates people like Tony Blair?

Power. From the moment he came to power, he has sought to eliminate any trammels to his power. He’s sought to limit accountability. He’s turned up at less than five per cent of House of Commons votes. He’s not interested in parliamentary democracy, none of them are. For most of them parliamentary democracy is an annoying and irritating problem that they see as best solved by being eradicated. When all the decision making is taken by the elite, the ruling class, these aren’t aristocrats anymore or even financiers; they are the euroclass. Possibly no more than five hundred thousand men and women run Europe. That is of course an oligarchy.

You’ve made it quite clear that we should have a referendum, but should the referendum question be 'in or out?’

I can’t dictate the question, but if the question were ‘in or out?’ the ability of the British people to be frightened, the ability of the people to swallow the lie that almost 3.5 million jobs are to be lost on Monday morning according to their vote, which of course we know to be absolute rubbish. The endless lure dangled before us, this so called influence, which we know doesn’t exist. It might have to be something a bit more subtle, asking for the repatriation of even two major powers, the control of our powers and the control of our courts. It could be perceived quite rightly as a deal breaker. For example, asking for control of our fishing waters is a deal breaker. Mr Howard put it in writing that he would demand the repatriation of British control over British fishing waters while there was one single species that hadn’t reached the threshold of stock collapse and if it was refused he would do it unilaterally. It’s now been reneged upon by David Cameron, clearly under advice from those who surround him. That or another question would suffice to put us in a position to demand root and branch reform of the structure, or to depart.

I once congratulated Hain on bringing democracy to South Africa, and asked him why he didn’t do the same for the people of Gibraltar who he asked in 1996 to join with Spain, and he has in fact changed his policy on that.

The Labour party has changed its mind twice. The record of Labour shows that it is far more pro-referendum than the Tories. I believe the figure is thirty four referenda that have been held, proposed and planned, particularly with the regional assemblies. Although they have gone on with their regional assemblies, they are in fact authorities, quangos. There are provincial regional quangos of England that are deciding all planning issues by quangocrats, not people who have been elected. And this is what they’ll do if they can get away with it and I’m afraid they can do this if there is a miserable opposition, which there has been. And that’s why I think this is a better chance than just crying BOO. But if you go on demanding a referendum it’s very hard for them to say we absolutely, categorically refuse as democrats to consul the people.

I think we can swing the vote if we emphasise how much of our money is spent on the other countries.

To the people out there it would help that there has been a thoroughly independent cost benefit analysis of the EU. It could be done by the Conservative party or endorsed by them, but it would be denounced. It would be better if it was conducted by Ernst and Young etc. and would show clearly this is what the EU is costing you and this is what you get out of it. I think it would detain most of your fish and chip eaters for about thirty seconds. I'm afraid that we live in a country where if Becks scored a goal or Posh went on a shopping spree then the cost analysis of the EU would be wiped off the front pages of the newspapers. That’s the state we live in.

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